Wednesday, December 19, 2012
I have been feeling a tad bit tight, a little discouraged... And I was driving this morning on the way to work, going as fast as I can. I was praying while I was driving, and I honestly don't remember at all what I was saying.
I know I asked for Paul to get a good job soon, and for things to look up. I'm sure I mentioned how anxious I've been and how I'm having such a hard time trusting in Him. I know I'm having a difficult time just believing and accepting that God would have good things in store for me; it often feels like He has plans to prosper everyone else BUT me. And I've fallen into this habit of NOT praying and NOT asking for anything so that I'm not disappointed if things don't work out for me.
I am distracted from this out-pouring of ... discouragement, in honesty... by a red light that I almost ran. Right in front of me drives a pick up truck w/ a Green Bay Packers flag. And I heard God ask me the question, "Maria, why were you rooting for the Green Bay Packers when they played against the Pittsburg Steelers that one Superbowl a few years ago?"
Uh... heck if I know. Rewind to 2011, I think... maybe 2010... and we watched the game at our old church, w/ a pot luck. The Pastor and his family went for the Steelers. Carla and I seemed to be the only ones going for the Packers. The Who played during half-time.
"Maria, why did you like the Packers?"
I don't know anything about football. I can only tell which team is winning. What did I know about the Packers? What was it about that team that subconsciously attracted me to it?
Then I remember, in Oklahoma, being on a book-reading club so to speak, with a couple of friends in OKC and in Dallas, reading the autobiography of Vincent Lombardi.
I don't know anything about football, but I remember in my heart the testimony of Vince Lombardi; the struggles he went through, the odds he overcame. Some of his quotes. That's what tugged at my heart this most recent Super Bowl. That's the reason why I was rooting for them.
"Maria, why do you still want to watch the movie 'Invincible'? You are not even really into football. Why did you love facing the giants? or Remember the Titans?"
I ... don't know. I prefer a sports genre movie over a chick flick any day...
"It's because of the story. It's the same story - and you are a sucker for it. You like the theme of the heroes overcoming incredibly difficult challenges, of beating the odds. Of the underdogs coming up on top. You love it when it is said that 'they'll never make it' - and then they succeed! Whether in 'The Hunger Games', or the Green Bay Packers, you love that story.
Because it's your story. You are genetically wired to endure difficult challenges, and to go through them with a smile on your face and kindness in your heart. And these trials aren't all you are built for; your very core was designed for success. For victory. And you will get there! Because you will continue to push through until you do. And that is your testimony, your story - that you are invincible, and your life will inspire others the way these kinds of things inspire you."
So when I felt down later in the evening, having forgotten all about my drive into work, over-all low on energy and just trying to put dinner together... When I was wondering why I even bother, and I said, "I give up. I'm done." I heard the faint whisper in my heart that said, "You are not. You're invincible."
Friday, December 14, 2012
I'm struggling to stay awake, to stay alive even. I drag myself to work, keep myself busy so I don't pass out at work, then I have to muster everything I have to be conscious when I'm home alone w/ the kiddos, so the kiddos don't kill each other... by the time they go to sleep at 8pm, I follow shortly after - which means I don't see Paul get home from work, or talk to him for yet another day (I leave for work the following morning around 6am, and he's asleep then).
I don't have the energy to do the things I have to do, let alone anything special or meaningful with the children, or the dogs... or the husband. Date night for us is few and far between, usually in a moment of desperation because I haven't seen Paul all week and it's either go out and get away from the kids or send each other texts of complaints. But it's the sacrifice we are willing to pay to get the kids a Christmas tree, and presents from us (first Christmas that they will get a present from Mommy and Daddy!!), and still have a roof over our heads.
My prayers are short and simple... something along the lines of "Jesus help me!". Not very verbose at all. I am hanging on to whatever moment I can read the Bible just to keep my sanity and my hope.
I'm also trying to study for the classes I'm taking on-line. Yeah that doesn't happen very often.
There are days that are very special; when the kiddos do something really sweet, or really funny. And I'm enjoying spending evenings with them, I just wish I could give them more - more than a bowl of cereal for dinner because I've been vomiting most of the afternoon. Or more than going to bed briefly at 8pm and no bed time stories because I'm vomiting again. This week particularly has been rough. I'm discouraged.
But the awesome thing is that through it all, God has not failed to remind me - even show me - that He knows, that He cares, and that He's working on it. He's like a secret Santa; leaving tidbits of His signature to give us hope. He has protected us on the roads and provided for us, and sent people to encourage Paul, and opened doors for us. It will all fall into place; I know it will! I just have to keep looking up!
The Bible and the devotionals on my phone have been a steady rock I've anchored to; they keep my thoughts from spiraling into negativity, help me to re-focus on the things worth thinking about - worth hoping for. I could still use a better attitude at times (ok, so most times!). And a lot of times, it feels like Paul and I are hanging on to love - and to each other - desperately and with both hands, to keep from having our marriage fall apart.
We try in the little things, in the simple things, to help each other and show each other love and support. And I try to wake up once I hear he's home to visit with him, hear him tell me all the details of his day, and spend some time - even if very brief - in conversation.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I find myself exhausted all the time. I feel like I'm dragging from bed time to bed time. Not a whole lot gets me excited.
I think that it's something physical; I'm achy, my back and my abdomen hurt almost all the time, and my head hurts a lot too.
I also wonder if a good chunk of it is mental; I'm tired of the routine, slightly bored at my job... and I have to be there most of my day and then some. The kids spend so much of their time and energy trying to get into stuff they are not supposed to and by the time I deal with them I'm too tired to keep up. And I'm frustrated with the day in and day out routine.
Paul got a part-time job which involves a lot of evenings out of the house. And I admit I was spoiled; counting on his help every time I handle the kids. Now we just swap baby-sitting duties. So we each do the cleaning, the kid-keeping, and the cooking by ourselves. It's not fun. Although I will pull some great stories about things the kids did from times like these. When I can look back on them and laugh about it instead of cry because I have to clean up - again - and again, and again...
And I know it's not all that bad. At all. The kids are wonderful! And with God's help I've been able to do things to help me grow; school, dog shows, karate, etc. I'm finding the discipline to exercise, and I'm weaning off my dependency on soda and caffeine to function. So it really is all a mind over matter game; changing the way I think, which changes the way I perceive things, which changes the way I react.
I'm choosing to focus on being thankful (and the month of November helps with that!). I'm also reading his word, reading devotions, at morning and at night. The challenge is all the time in-between when I actually have to deal with difficult people or situations, but that's where prayer comes in. I pray that God will help me to remember what I read and to live by it.
His Word is so encouraging to me. It reminds me that He is not manipulative, or difficult to please. I don't have to play mind games with God, trying to earn His favor, wondering what He thinks of me. I can trust Him, trust His love for me, and know that He's not flaky. It's a sense of relief (physically and mentally), when I can just be myself, unwind, and know that it will all be ok.
He's encouraged me to stop trying to reconcile what I think I should be God's will to what is actually happening, because in my mind I'll never figure it out. I can't understand why things have led up to this point or where they are going. And though there is a sense of personal responsibility and accountability, I know that ultimately I'm just not that much in control. I don't have the power to do/undo what God has planned. So it's easier to trust Him. Break it down into bite-sized pieces, one day at a time... one moment at a time. Do my best today and then leave the outcome to the Lord. He is good. It will be ok.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Not to mention that God's blessings are intangible too. Encouragement. Hope. Friendship. Comfort. Laughs. I feel blessed even when the waiting feels long. I am reminded that we'll be ok when I start to despair.
The kiddos are growing like weeds and blessing us more and more (albeit, sometimes with patience as they exercise us beyond limit). Enjoying the joys of parenthood, although I also have to figure out how to potty train Caleb, and help Anakin with all of his activities (Karate, school, church...) while not letting our middle child (Brielle) feel neglected or bored.
I am hungry for personal growth in every area of my life but I haven't been able to do much. It seems that after work, feeding the kids, and then I'm mentally/emotionally/physically spent. Weeks come and go and I can't get past the routine. It's frustrating, but I know it won't always be this way. I will have time to go back to school. I will have energy to exercise. I will have the focus to do other things (such as blogging!). I just have to try it every day, and if I don't get to it, try it again the next day.
So that's where I'm at. No deep spiritual truth to reveal. No exciting experience to share. Just the hope that I'm alive and we're ok... God is good and faithful to us. And there are good things coming - this is the part I get tired of waiting for, but it's true - there are better things on the way. It's going to get better; it's going to be great!
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
I love sharing the things that God is doing. I love it more because He is doing, and that is exciting!
So I have to share that since the last blog, I fell into this funk that I could not explain. And it came so quietly that it took me forever to realize it was there. Ever had a bad week? When I tried my best, it was thrown back in my face. Even when I was being nice to other people, it was rejected. I was so disappointed. If there was anything I could count on, was that things would go wrong.
Paul was having one of those weeks too.
It wasn't until a few Sundays ago at church, it finally dawned on me that it had to have been more than just a "funk", or a stroke of bad luck. I realized it when I was trying to figure out how to describe it, so I can share it as a prayer request: It felt like I was stuck in a glass box, that basically said, "YOU ARE NOT MOVING. NOT FORWARD, NOT UP." It was oppression in every direction (in my home, at my job, in my dreams and personal goals, our finances, my prayer life, etc). Once I found the words for it, I realized that this was in no way from God, as I somehow thought....
... Maybe the Lord doesn't want Paul to find a job right now...
... Maybe God wants me to put those plans aside for a while...
... Maybe right now is not the time for our family to be involved at church...
I payed attention during Sunday School that morning, because it was a real good lesson (about how Jesus is "The Man", and we can't place our confidence and hope only on our spouses/significant others for fulfillment because they will disappoint us - even when they try their best. Only Jesus can make us complete and make everything right!) But I didn't share the prayer request.
I went to church and just got ready to praise. I had started singing in the praise and worship team, but due to having that kind of week (and that kind of Sunday), we got there too late to practice and I didn't join them. Which was fine, I still sang my little heart out from the pew anyways.
I started to pray for God to lift the funk, so to speak. I prayed and sang, still not quite finding the right words, until I found myself asking God for help just to pray for the help itself! Around this point the Holy Spirit was falling in the sanctuary (Christianese, Pentecostal-nese, ask me later if you want to understand what this means), and I had a vision and a revelation of a piece of Scripture that I'm sure I read before but I didn't grasp back then:
Daniel’s Vision of a Messenger (Daniel ch. 10)
1 In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia,[a] Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) had another vision. He understood that the vision concerned events certain to happen in the future—times of war and great hardship.
2 When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. 3 All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.
4 On April 23,[b] as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River, 5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. 6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.
7 Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. 8 So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. 9 Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.
10 Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. 11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.
12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince[c] of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels,[d] came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.[e] 14 Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”
15 While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. 16 Then the one who looked like a man[f] touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. 17 How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”
18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.
God, who made me with a cinematic brain (everything in my head has a story, an image, and a song behind it all at once. Ever see me bopping my head side to side? Yup, that's me... walking to my own theme song in my head), showed me this verse - which I have not read this year at least - like a movie preview (with epic music like The Lord of The Rings). In my head while I was praying.
So now it's war. I guess it's always been war, but I haven't always discerned it that way because it's easier not to. Now I'm praying for God to send angels to fight against the spirit that is oppressing our home and blocking God's answer to prayer - a shadowy figure I can now see in my head as clear as day, standing in our front yard. And I am on my knees praying.
I know at some point I had other sisters pray for me, nothing that I remember well enough to share right now. But at this point I was on my knees, seeing the shadowy thingy in our yard, seeing our living room clear as if I was home. I see light come in the living room and shine bright, fill the home, and explode - I'm seeing the windows of my house exploding outwardly under this divine release of I don't know what, but it's ok. And in that precise moment, in a way that could've only been synchronized by the very Spirit of God, my dear sister Valerie kneels next to me and prays, and I almost quote, "Lord, I pray right now that Your presence would shatter every stronghold that the enemy may have set up against this family..."
This was also the same Sunday that two loved ones at church gave Paul a gift. And it wasn't a gift for gifting's sake, but they both said specifically that they "wanted to invest into Paul's ministry and what God is going to do through Paul" by giving him an acoustic guitar, with electric plug in, a hard case, and a stand. In worldly terms, that would be considered random. He'd only played the guitar once or twice before with the worship team, primarily because they are not in need of a bassist, which is Paul's forte. And he had practiced a song that we wanted to do as an offering sometime the following month.
From then to now, we are still fighting. But the Lord is doing something, so we are not losing. Still praying. Still waiting. Reading through the gospel with the kiddos.
But Paul has had 2 job leads since then that he applied for today.
And as far as everything else, I have no control over the state of mind and heart of anyone else but myself. Which means half of my previous problems are no longer mine, because it's THEIR problem. I just keep doing my best and giving of my best, hoping for the best, and let the effects of that fall where it may. I can't take everything personally any more, it's a huge distraction! So I regret to inform you that your mood will no longer dictate my environment.
God is doing something. There was a shattering of that dark-cloud, pity party mentality. And might I share that in the month of June, w/ Paul being unemployed, and not getting foodstamps or WIC, we paid off our car insurance, our renter's insurance, an extra $100 on our student loans, and another $400 in debt - while being current on rent and having food, diapers, and gas. God's people blessed us with prayer, but not with money (although Linda and Duane did put gas in our car so we could go to family camp with the church). In the Name above all Names, Paul received unemployment compensation that he technically could NOT have gotten and it did not run out all month. I would pay bills, check our balance, still had funds. Pay more stuff, still had funds. He did it, He does it, we just stand by and praise. And I'm trusting Him for the month of July too, no worries there.
Monday, June 18, 2012
I am learning to chill out, although occasionally the neurotic side of me surfaces. I find myself more at peace the more I stop struggling for control; specially since I have no control anyways. Learning to surrender is difficult; I always thought it meant weakness. I had a hard time with songs that expressed surrendering to God because I thought it meant I was giving up, I lost the fight, and was finally dragging to do whatever it is God wants me to do.
The more I read God's Word, and our Sunday School lesson, the more I realize that there are a lot of things I considered weakness or was ashamed of that really ... aren't. Like the fact that I am sensitive and take things personally - where the world would say to just "shrug it off and deal with it like a man", I'm learning I don't have to accept it. Or the gentleness in wanting to just stay home and cuddle with my children. It's interesting how I've spent the past 6 years seeking jobs and professional advancement because I was misled into believing that I would be worthless if I just "stayed at home to be a mom", and because I didn't finish a college degree I was misled into believing that I had to compensate for that by getting very challenging, very active jobs... to somehow earn my value. And now I realize that my children could never afford to pay me what they value me; to them I'm priceless. Being a stay-at-home mom is the job I want with every fiber of my being and I'm in no place, shape, or form to transition to that place on my own.
It's hard to not call the shots on my own. I have to wait and depend on Paul, and on God, to settle Paul in a job before I can transition away from mine, and we might have to wait a year or two, or maybe even more, before we are in that place financially. But yet this is God's design for marriage; if I could do everything on my own, truly be a one woman show, I would have no relationship with Paul or with my Savior. I'm not saying He places us in situations of need so He could have the advantage over us and we'd finally need Him. I'm saying that the fact that I am dependent on God and on my husband is by no means weakness on my part.
Because that is what I learned: that a husband ties you down. That I'm somehow ruining my life by not calling my own shots; that Paul should either get with the program or move on. This is the mindset that I am unlearning, because my husband IS trustworthy - I can depend on him, and wait on him as we both wait on God to work in the both of us what He wants to accomplish during this trial.
Timing is everything. Growth is everything. At least Paul and I are growing more together instead of apart. I've seen a lot of couples grow apart; I've seen plenty of women drive their husbands away in their quest to "do it all" because submission and surrender is so taboo in this post-feminist culture.
When I know that Paul loves me and the kids, and loves God, and will always seek our GOOD, I can trust Him enough to surrender. It's not scary or weak, or intimidating. There is no concern that he will fail me or hurt me; and even when his strength fails, I know we are both relying on God - who never fails.
I learned that the surrender that God wants is not this picture of defeat, weakness, and shame - where we are dragged away to his service only mildly voluntarily, only because we lost. The image of the surrender that God wants is like... a man or woman enlisting in the US Military; it's a declaration that says, "I will offer my strengths and my talents in dedication to serve You." We wouldn't consider a soldier weak, or defeated.
My concept of surrender is declaring to God that I will give Him the best of my efforts, and with all of my heart pursue what He has for me, my family, and His kingdom here on earth. I will stop trying to always do what I want and I will seek what He wants instead and give it my all, trusting Him and obeying Him. It means I can't be weak, or defeated, because in that position there isn't much I can offer Him - rather I have to be strong, at my best, and constantly refining myself towards Holiness. It means I'm on His team, and it's a good thing too, because I can't do any of this on my own strength.
And it's the same thing when I submit to Paul in our marriage; it doesn't mean he bosses me around, it means I'm willing to be his partner and follow the play he feels would better help us win the game. It means in being my best, my strongest, I am doing so in cooperation with (not dominance of) him, and vice-versa.
I am learning that both of us need to offer our voices in prayer, in praise, and in teaching the ways of God to our children. I've always known that I can't teach Anakin to be a man, and Paul can't teach Brielle to be woman, and so we both need each other to raise our kids. While I give kuddos to all the single moms out there who raise good boys, I point out that those moms were not raising their children fatherless because God is their heavenly Father and their helpmate. Just because we find ways to survive in crisis doesn't mean that it is healthy or normal to live a life out of balance. And that doesn't mean that moms who have only boys are useless in their upbringing, because how else do boys learn to value and respect women if it's not through the influence of their mother? It's not one or the other, it's both, in teamwork, that equips our sons and daughters to be men and women of God.
And so now what I have to focus on this week is: what are my strengths? If I rely only on my job, I feel useless most of the time. I suppose I have strengths - and I'm not waiting to discover what those are through employment. What does a strong me look like? And I want to know what it looks like in being feminine. For the past few years I felt more like a pack mule or an ox than a woman; bearing kids, nursing them, working my rear end off, going to sleep, and starting again. I am not just some industrious machine that's only valuable based on the results I can produce. I am a woman (drawn from a man), and female (in God's image). There are qualities about me as female that reflect the qualities of God; it's my job to find them, harness them, and use them with my family, my church, and all around my sphere of influence.
I feel lost, but not hopeless, and yet I feel I'm going in the right direction - though I don't know what I'm looking for.
♪♫ From my heart to the heavens
Jesus be the center
It's all about You - yes, it's all about You ♪♫
Sunday, June 3, 2012
I have struggled this week with the disappointment and frustration of... nothing happening. I can't see if God is doing something IN Paul or not, but it just hasn't felt like He's done anything around us. And in despair I've cried out, "Why?!"
Why would God give us 3 children we can't consistently provide for?!
Why would God allow Paul to get laid off the very week I was recovering from surgery?!
Why is Paul the one home with the kids and I'm the one working (every time)!?
Why would God give Paul the dream of being in the medical field, and we put him through medical assisting school as a start, if he can't work as a CMA?! Why would we be paying on a student loan in a career that Paul is not practicing!?
Beyond this, I re-visited old hatreds... Sheer anger against the Lieutenant, Tech Sargent, Master Sargent, and Staff Sargent at Tinker... I remember their faces and their names and I revisited everything they did to us and every thing they said to us and I could throw flaming darts at their eyeballs if I had a device that would print images from my memory. Specially when the enemy brings out a sense of failure because we didn't stay in the military... and I feel frustrated because we didn't really have a choice... and I just wish these people would get deployed to real combat zones more often than other soldiers for whom I have a deep respect.
I re-visited the anger from a church we used to attend where 2 individuals hurt us so bad it set us back years financially, emotionally, and spiritually... and it wasn't until we moved 6000 miles and 3 time zones away that Paul and I finally found our healing and the strength to get back up again... and the love for the church again.
And it totally doesn't help when well-intentioned people try to encourage you sometimes. Because they've encouraged Paul to give up on medical assisting and just get a retail job anywhere. And they've encouraged Paul to "do better" (as if he was just half-assing it) at future jobs. And what they don't realize is what they are implying. I have to stand by Paul and say that he didn't sabotage his new job, he was giving his best. It didn't work out. If you knew Paul, you'd see that this is his gift - and he is good at this. I don't think it's helpful, although your heart is in the right place, to tell Paul he needs to give up on his dream for the sake of just providing. We have a Provider, He hasn't fallen asleep on the job, thank you very much!
And he didn't sabotage a career in the military. I've looked and read his PIF from front to end. There was nothing ill they could say about him other than to give him a "general discharge under honorable conditions". Because they couldn't put that he would not tolerate other soldiers in his group telling him they would come "bang me" and then "have me make tacos" while he was in Iraq and I lived on-base. Paul was an active member of Airmen Against Drunk Driving and I'm sure saved a couple of lives on the weekends he woke up at 3am to pick up some drunk guy in a bar somewhere and take him home safely. He was on the honor guard and participated in a few funerals where he helped give honor and respect to fallen soldiers. He's not in the military any more, perhaps because God has other plans... I've made my peace with God in the matter and accepted the way He has moved us; it's the only way I can forgive and let go of the people who made our lives at Tinker AFB a sleepless nightmare. Don't have me re-visit that.
But then there's the FAA, and UPS... I know these were more well-intentioned attempts at helping our family with the grave consequences of just doing something w/o asking God if it was His will. We were putting our efforts into something God did not have for us, we did not let God do what He wanted to work out, and there went 2 years where we did not make any progress in our walk with God or our purpose for being in Alaska. But, bring up Paul's unemployment, and I can think of a couple of names of people who work at both these places whom I'd like to meet in a restaurant so I can punch them in the face.
Well, in this trap, I'm void of self-confidence. I felt so discouraged I could not take a single step in my Mary Kay business... I don't want to talk to people, I want to withdraw. I'd rather not leave my room, let alone go out there and try to DO something. And I must've not been doing the greatest at my job, though I was doing my best... but maybe my best isn't good enough in this work field because it requires giftings I just don't have. I try as hard as I can to overcome my weaknesses, but at the end of the day I have to play on my strengths instead or I'll be completely useless. I hate this funk.
In the meantime, I'm not with my kids, and when I see them I'm too tired for them, and I count down the minutes to bed-time because I'm just trying to sleep through this season and get it over with.
Either way, here we are. Three years now in Alaska and we haven't moved back home. I asked Paul if we should start making plans to move back home and he doesn't feel it's time yet. So I guess we'll be around still.
But God is so good, and I know without a shadow of a doubt I'm at the church I need to be to go through this trial, plugged in with the friendships that I need to have in order to keep my head up. And God is doing something good - I know I just blogged entirely from the flesh, and it wasn't very God-inspiring, but I'm not done! I'm just showing you where I am in the natural. But as I wrestle with this, God shows up - and the peace that surpasses all understanding guards my heart. It may be after I cry real hot tears through clenched teeth and quite frankly, a clenched heart. But He is full of grace and He does not let you go.
I was listening today to older, wiser women in my Sunday School class, breaking away from society's standards to share how God had established their household. I was encouraged by a woman who supports her household financially and her husband stays home. Their lives are not out of balance... in fact, she said God had blessed them. She shared that that was their "family plan", and God was working through it, and moving in their lives, and what other people thought didn't matter. And I listened intently because I needed to hear that. I needed to wash away the stigma, the negativity, the discouragement... the lies from the enemy. I needed to learn how to offer healing and encouragement to my husband in our situation, and how to defeat the guilt and condemnation that Satan is trying to bind him with in hopes of pulling us away from Kingdom work.
It goes back to my previous blog of fighting like a girl; declaring the praises of God and His truth in the midst of the battle, dancin' like we've already won, and putting the enemy to flight so that Paul could drive him out and I can divide the plunder. It's a hard visual to process, it's deeply prophetic and will not make any sense in the natural. But if I can't cheer my husband and my family on, if I can't praise and worship God and establish that faith-based ambiance in my home... then Satan has won.
There was another wonderful, immensely beautiful lady from my Sunday School class who asked me to just open up my hands and have them cupped open in expectancy. Which was prophetic also because she didn't know how I cried and prayed just a few nights ago and told God that my heart was clenched as tight as my fists. All weekend long, in my dreams, God was telling me to open my hands. I was fussing with Him and telling Him HE had to open His hands first to bless us (how dare I? hehehe I can't help but laugh out loud at my orneriness). So here she is, with a smile, telling me to open my hands... I fought with Paul and the kids all morning, we were late to practice, I was furious at Paul for it.... but I have to open my hands...
When I do, she pours out from this candy tin a bunch of paper butterflies, which she cut out herself off scrap paper, and she tells me that "these are the promises of God. They are beautiful, and they are good, and they are for you to hold on to and see the beautiful things that God is doing in the midst of the difficult." I held my composure pretty well. The butterflies are so little and cute and there was a tin full of them in my hand. Nevermind the fact I had told Paul at the Renaissance fair how I loved butterflies and it was probably the only girly thing about me.
I was already being ministered to and the service had not even started. Through tears and fussing with the kids some more and the awe of what was happening I learned that the guest speaker today was a preacher named Alan from Scotland. He had a strong Scottish accent and I believe he spoke slower than usual to make sure we understood what He was saying. And what he spoke to me is that God is always working in us; God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit... through seasons, and transitions, because He is working out His prognosis for us. He sees our sick condition, our brokenness, and has a blueprint in place to heal us - more than just accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, but to make us complete and whole, so we can build God's kingdom. And the more we surrender to the Lord as he dissects us personally (and very privately, thank God!), the quicker we can move from a trying season to a place and time where we are being effective for God's kingdom.
I also learned at church that I need to drink more water, dance more, and blog more.
It's hard to put all this out there, I've been mulling it over in and out of sleep this afternoon, between a fever, a migraine, and a runny nose. I haven't been much of a wife and mom today. But if I don't write down what God has done then I'll miss it; it'll slip through my memory, I'll forget it... I won't build on it, I won't receive and appropriate it for my life. I'll miss the point. I can't miss the point.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Sunday School was powerful. We were watching a video by Lisa Bevere on the first chapter of our new study series, "Fight Like a Girl". Her previous study, "Lioness Arising", was pretty eye-opening. This one was too, and even though I had read the chapter, her comments on it was eye-opening for every woman in the room! Let me hash out my notes:
Genesis 3:6 The Message (MSG)
When the Woman saw that
the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of
it—she'd know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some
to her husband, and he ate.
- Christ came to redeem our positions. We were made in the image of God but we're just a reflection; just the same way a mirror shows us a glimpse of what we look like but does not show all that we are (it can tell us what our hair looks like, but not our gifts, our compassion, our strengths!). Jesus was more than in God's image, He was in His very nature, God!
- Under Redemption, we are now free to be women (and men to be men) and we no longer compete, but we complete. Not only in a marriage, but in the church as a whole; the church needs the voice of men, and the voice of women. The church needs fathers and mothers. The church needs sons and daughters. Grandparents too. The church needs the unique gifts, personalities, and the voices of every person right where they are at! Now we can work together to establish dominion ($10 word for stewardship of the resources God gives us) and recover what Satan stole from us. This is God's intent, from the beginning.
Genesis 3:15-16 The Message (MSG)
- Our weapon against the enemy is our seed. While Jesus was the ultimate Seed that crushes the serpent's head, there is still enmity between us (women) and the Serpent... much more than hatred, it's an irreconcilable hostility that expands over time. It was present in Genesis and it's present in Revelation 12:17, "Then the dragon became angry at the woman, and he declared war against the rest of her children - all who keep God's commandments and confess that they belong to Jesus." Satan rages war against the woman and every human life that passes through the womb. We need to be wise enough to discern that this is our battle; not each other! So we fight back by winning the hearts of our children; whether they be our natural children or the spiritual ones that look up to us and are under our influence. We must learn to use our influence, our beauty, and our feminine attributes as outlined in the Bible to edify our seed - which means we learn to live life with the future always in mind.
... I'm declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers.
- What does fighting like a girl look like? Recovery. Restoration. Nurture. We love each other, we comfort each other, and we build each other up. We cheer for each other, and cry with each other, and pray for each other. Men and women fight the same battle but with different roles. Men have their roles to fulfill and need us to do ours! When men can focus on fighting like men, and women focus on fighting like women, we start recovering what Satan lost.
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
12 “Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
If I can place before you a visual: There is a battle (camped around our homes, our jobs, and our church), and men are fighting on the front lines... but the woman's role in the battle is different. As the men are fighting, we are proclaiming the Word; the victory and the promises of God. Our mighty shout and proclamation is putting the enemy to flight! And as the men chase them away, we (women) divide the plunder of all the enemy leaves behind - all the enemy stole from us in the first place! In a practical sense, it means we don't go behind nagging our spouses, complaining of all that's wrong, and fussing with our kids. We proclaim and celebrate that we are on the winning side, cheerleading for our husbands (even if in the prophetic!), defending our children with praise!
Ok so this was all just Sunday School. Then during the service, we were just putting it to practice! Praising and singing, worshiping God, then praying at the altar... And that was that! The Holy Spirit came and filled the sanctuary, everyone was plundering what they needed from the presence of God.
I have to share what God did for us, because He moved in us - in a very intangible way. As a preface I have to confess that I was very discouraged because Paul was laid off on Thursday. I'm barely recovering from surgery, we barely moved into this apartment, and we're balancing all the bills... it felt like a direct blow, knocking our feet from under us. We went to church with this heaviness, on top of the prayer concern of our beloved nephew - who is not even a year old yet and he's fighting cancer, and a dear friend of mine who seems to be losing the fight against cancer as well. So in a hands-on sense, things looked grim.
And then we were praising, and praying, and at the altar seeking God's face... and feeling His presence... and there is no way to describe this without speaking "christianese" - it may not make sense to someone who hasn't had this experience - but all our needs were met in the Spirit. We received our yes and our help from God through His promises, now just to work and wait for them to manifest. Paul's new job. Andrew's healing... Every bill... The Lord already spoke it, and has it lined up, at just the right time and not a minute too late. Our family is at such a profound peace as we've never experienced before. God's word spoke over Paul and super-ceded any lie the enemy may have wanted Paul to believe about himself. It's done, it's taken care of. Not that Paul has received another job yet, but we know God has it set aside for him.
Not just our family, but our church too! Couples were at the altar, receiving from God together. It's like our church as a whole was being equipped not just to fight, but to win. I can only wait for the praise reports we will share next Sunday (if we don't see each other sooner). I'm resting in it.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I'm thoroughly enjoying the break. I can read, I can blog, I can take afternoon naps. I am one happy camper!
While I was going in and out of anesthesia, I was praying for Dr. Payne and for Andrew, and I think I was dreaming about both of them. I don't remember going under, but I remember seeing them between the surgery room and the recovery room.
It hit me last night as I was going to sleep at home, that had I waited to have children the way I planned it originally, I wouldn't have been able to have them! I'm pretty much sterile now with these procedures. In my wisdom, I was going to wait till I was closer to 30 to have kids and before then do everything I wanted to do. But I kept getting pregnant, and it was so frustrating for me.
Then I think of friends who want to have children and haven't been able to get pregnant. Or who have lost their children, and I always wonder why God was in such a rush to give me children while other people struggle.
But in God's wisdom, he knew it would take Anakin, Brielle, and Caleb to complete our family. And I love all three of them. They are such amazing children. I can't imagine my life without one or the other. And I never knew I'd have reproductive issues before I turned 30!
But God knew. And He plans things in His timing. And He is good! Everything He does is precisely when He means it. He is trustworthy!
He has been holding me up, He has answered our prayers. He is always there for You. I just thought I'd share this with whoever feels that black rainy cloud on their head. What I've been going through does not compare to the trials that others are facing. But nothing is too big or too small for God. Be encouraged!
Sunday, April 29, 2012
It may sound psychotic but what I mean is, taking the time to hush everything around me and meditate on Scripture, repeat to myself what the Bible says is true, enough times to where I start believing it and allowing it to improve my emotions and my bad attitude.
I need some much needed me-time so that I can be a better mom, wife, employee, and friend. I need to give myself the time to exercise and take vitamins, so that I'm not sick and running on caffeine. I need to give myself the time to rest so I can stay mentally sharp. I need to give myself the time to blog because I feel like I lose my voice, my opinions, and my calling if I don't. I haven't read a book in YEARS.
Then I also need to give my kids and my husband time. They all love to talk (I wonder where they got THAT from!). Anakin is a walking biology class, always wanting to share what he read in a book about animals or the human body. He starts every other sentence with, "Did you know..?" Caleb will destroy your place if you are not paying direct attention to him. Brielle is very girly and is so much more feminine than I am, I feel pressured to keep up with my 4 year old! She gives herself a mani/pedi every Sunday before starting the school week, because so help her if she goes to school on Monday and her nail polish is chipped. And then you look at me and I don't shave my legs for months at a time, I chew my nails, and my hair looks like crap....*sigh* She is a gentle reminder for me to be at my best.
So I was incredibly refreshed by today's sermon and yesterday's long, long, LONG walk.
Yersterday's walk was in response to my deep, suppressed desire to be outside and in direct sunlight. Winter sucked. And now that spring is here I spend 8 hours of my day inside at work. And in the evenings there's so much to do that I'm not always outside. I want to host outdoor Mary Kay parties, I'm tellin' ya! But I didn't want to be by myself outside, I wanted to spend time with the hubby and kids. It was our anniversary weekend. I would've loved to have planned a date w/ Paul but we didn't have a sitter. One day I will have a sitter, not work on Saturday, and spend the day just me and him. This weekend wasn't that day but it didn't mean that we couldn't turn off the TV and the computers and go outside where there's nothing else to do but talk to each other and walk! So we took a hike, walked along the coastal trail from Kincaid Park to almost Point Woronzoff, and back. I wanted to go to the beach but we missed the turn off, so we walked along the coast and saw the water from a distance (it's ok, I now know how to get to the beach, so maybe next time when it's a bit greener outside). We walked way more than we should've and the kids were exhausted, but I'm happy to report that Caleb did not have a stroller and even he walked most of the way... and enjoyed it. The kids were awestruck by nature, although a bit peeved that we were never "there yet". I don't think they enjoyed just the walk as much as Aspen and I did! I loved the smell of the trees, the view, the sunlight. The break in the routine. It is therapeutic for me - if ever I'm getting too pissy, just kidnap me and drop me off on a trail where I have to walk home. I guarantee you my attitude will be MUCH better once I get home (provided I have food and water for my hike LOL) :)
I'm thankful my hubby and I both love being outdoors. I want to get in shape and lose weight - so does he - and summer gives us the perfect opportunity to do so w/o spending too much money.
Today's sermon was exactly what I needed to hear at the finish of this week and the start of this next one.
- It's not your past that destroys you. It's your pride!
- It's not sin that kills you, it's self pity!
- It's not failure that disqualifies us; it's our facade!
- It's not your lips that prove your love, it's your life!
- It's not about how you compare to others, it's about how you compare to your calling!
- It's not your mistakes that define you, it's your mission!
I can't quite preach like Pastor Gary but I recommend if you want to hear more, you should come check out the sermon series "The Road to Emmaus" that we are doing at our church (Lifechange Assembly of God, on 15th and C St) Sundays at 10:30am. So I'll spare you the sermon but let you know how it spoke to me:
- I've been too proud to admit that I need God's help and I can't work things out on my own. I'm a hot mess on my own, to be precise. But instead of humbling myself and asking God for help I've just been frustrated and cranky as to how things are NOT working out.
- Most of my whining has been about things not going right for me. I have been so self-centered that now that I realize it I have been so disgusted with how little I've really thought of my friends, family, and church. Just stuck in the rut and complaining the whole time. Then I wonder why I was sick in the first place!
- If I fake like everything is fine then no one, not even God, can help me. God can deal with my failures, He's strong enough to help me through them, and He has the power to turn them around for my good. I just have to be open about it, instead of constantly acting like I got everything together.
- ♪♫ Let my lifesong sing to You... let my lifesong sing to You. I want to shout your Name at the end of the day, knowing that my life was true... let my lifesong sing to You.
- I sometimes gag at some of my friends on facebook, specially the moms around my age, because they seem so picture perfect and loving about their kids... like Martha Stewart posters, and I can't even match clean socks to save my life. Thank God I'm not supposed to strive to be like them; the only person I'm competing with is myself - the only goal is to be a better me today than I was yesterday. It's liberating...
- What's my mission? I've been constantly encouraged, through my business and my church, to figure out what my goals are, to map it out, to determine my course of action in pursuit of my dream. But it all still looks fussy to me, although I know that my business factors into it. Maybe with a little bit more prayer time, a little bit more dreaming time, I can lay it all out.
That's all for today folks!
Sunday, March 18, 2012
What God has been doing spiritually and materially in my life is beyond description. And I wasn't expecting it at all! Not this way.
In one way, I was praying and seeking God for a new dream. I went to an amazing, refreshing conference where I just had the Spirit poured into me in a new way - much needed, actually. I was tired of the same ol', same ol'. I received the affirmation that I am where I am, doing what I'm doing, with the people I am with, all exactly in the will of God and for His purposes. My children are mine because I am the mother fit for them. My husband is mine because I am the perfect wife for him. I'm at the job I need to be in because my personality and my abilities are needed in my work place. I was released from the striving; from feeling like I was falling short of who I was supposed to be, or wasn't good enough, or didn't quite fit. Since this conference I have finally begun to feel like I fit just fine; mistakes, quarks, and all.
I opened myself up to receive a new dream from God - whatever it may be. Something to pursue. I had no idea what it would be, I just told God that whatever He wanted to bless me with I would follow. I entertained a few things of my own but didn't resolve to desire anything and leave my heart a blank state. And for a few months - ok maybe about one, I just walked in contentment.
I slowly began to realize that a big dream of mine is the fulfillment of my children's dreams. I started listening to my kids and seeing that for the longest, Anakin wants to do Karate and Brielle wants to do ballet. I came across by what appears to be coincidence a sample package for Karate - $20 for 2 classes and a white belt. Anakin loved it! More than that, he looked GOOD at it. We signed him up beginning in April as a start. 3 days a week, 1 hour per class, for the next 30 months. And he is RESOLVED. He told me as we were driving home that he wanted to learn Korean instead of Spanish. I'm hispanic, so it's not an option (LOL) but I asked him why. He said, "Because I want to master Tae Kwon Do, and then speak really good Korean, and go to Korea and teach Karate over there, and be able to tell people about God." If that is what his God given dream is (and I know it's subject to change as he ages), I'm all for it! I am not going to do anything to discourage him or deter him from dreaming.
Next step: Brielle. Still working on that.
But as we were all praying about the pursuit of new interests and the finances to back it up, I was invited to my friend's house to get a free facial with Mary Kay products. I totally needed a new face. I LOOKED older and more tired than I felt. With 3 kiddos in tow, I enjoyed a few hours and felt (and looked!) so much better! It's like my face came alive but also my faith! Sharing what God has been doing with each other, loving on each other, just revived me.
I understand that men totally don't need this, but we women do: We need affirmations to survive. From each other. That's why we compliment each other, even more so sincerely. And while we may not ASK for them, we need to receive them back. We need to hear (and know) that we are good friends, good people, and that our unique beauty contributes SOMETHING to our surroundings. If you don't believe me, just leave a woman to be overlooked and see what happens; whether in her home or in her job, she will start to whither like an UN-nurtured flower. Bitterness grows, negativity grows, and soon she becomes the person people DON'T want to be around. See how a kind word can turn a person around too. I'm not making this up - it's biblical!
And for reasons probably too big to understand, instead of referring my friends to Penelope I signed up to be a Mary Kay Consultant myself. This has not been without it's battle, of course. The enemy is full-force, but at least I know I'm doing something that bugs him! On top of a whole bunch of little issues, is my own voice of self-doubt and fear - rising it's ugly head, as strong as ever: I've failed at a business before. I'm shy. I don't wear a lot of make up on a regular basis anyways. Money is tight. And I have an excruciatingly difficult time initiating a conversation with someone I don't know.
This is all the more reason why it's something God is doing and not entirely my own. Because it will take God to help me, I can't do it by myself. I'll have to partner with Him to overcome myself. And I already see Him helping me in baby steps - little by little, not more than I can handle. For every lie of the devil there is a Bible verse to encourage me. This is a lesson I should've learned in Oklahoma but I was too immature then. All in God's timing though. "The pain it took for the rose to blossom was greater than the pain of staying budded forever." I have to grow through this because there are other dreams counting on this. Not very big dreams, but important none-the-less.
And I'm seeing Him do something every day to bring confirmation to this direction. Every day. It is edifying my faith.
I had a dream that we were in some sort of war. It was a battle that was actually taking place in the sky; we were on fighter jets and such. Men were flying, women were the guns. We were fighting side by side and for a moment it felt like I was in Paul's dream and not mine! Then our planes exploded and we fell - kind of floated - and landed in the ocean. Unharmed, I swam upward past all the beautiful sea life and surfaced. I saw many of us surfacing and it was a mob of us in open water. Then a huge wave surged, one I knew I had no way of going under or over (and I'm pretty familiar with ocean waves, I've been swimming off the coast of south Florida since I was 6!), and it kind of rolled us all. But it didn't drown us; it was as if we could breathe through the wave. It was fear-inspiring and yet I wasn't afraid for my life, as more and more waves pushed us and then in the horizon I could see land. And then as I'm in this vivid picture of the waves pushing us forward I realized I was dreaming and I asked God, "What is this?" I heard Him audibly respond in my dream, "It's the wave of My Holy Spirit; My mercy." And in the dream, even as I woke up, I was just praising God and saying, "Yes! Lord, bring it on!"
Over the past couple of days, I've been praying and reflecting on this dream, noticing more and more things:
#1 - I couldn't identify the enemy as a specific group of people. Just like you wouldn't tell which side I was on. It was a mob of teenagers and young adults in casual clothes and every day styles fighting against people suited in black and with face masks on. This wasn't a war against another country or even just fought in the US. I saw people on my side of so many different colors and ethnic backgrounds - I can remember their faces even today... oriental, black, indian... And I believe that God was showing me this is our spiritual war-fare, not against people but against the prince of the air. Every believer united, married couples fighting together, all of us doing our role! More so, there was no "star", no "super-hero", no one person more important or more qualified than the other. Praise God! Let His church cross denomination, race, and culture and rise up to fight!
#2 - The wave of God's mercy moved us all to safety, to land. God's Holy Spirit was directing us when we would not have any idea which direction to swim in. And it moved us in such a way that we could not out-swim it and do our own way. And there was such peace and joy in surrendering to the waves! And we ALL went. It looked to me like revival! I kept singing the phrase from "How He Loves Us",
drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
if His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.
And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have the time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way...
That He loves us, oh how He loves us...
I wish I had a time-frame for this dream. I've never considered myself a prophet. But God has spoken to me in dreams, more so when I was a lot younger. It had been years before I had any fresh revelation from Him or any ... indication that He was in a relationship with me! I just praise Him. I seek His Word, I pray, and I find myself listening closely for cues or ... points that He wants to make in every part of my life right now.
I do not have a direct revelation as to how starting a Mary Kay business could be directly related with a personal revival in my walk with God. It somehow is a ministry. It definitely is something I have to hold God's hand through. But I am loving this! And my kids are loving the joy and the hope in me too.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Not original AT ALL. Pastor Gary was bringing a WORD, and so was Amanda with her song, and Dave with his testimony, and Mary and Derrick with their song... so it was just... Something I want all of my friends to know, whether they were at service or not!
The Dreamer - Genesis 37
2 This is the story of Jacob. The story continues with Joseph, seventeen years old at the time, helping out his brothers in herding the flocks... And Joseph brought his father bad reports on them.
3-4 Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn't even speak to him.
5-7 Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said, "Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat. All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up and your bundles circled around it and bowed down to mine."
8 His brothers said, "So! You're going to rule us? You're going to boss us around?" And they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked.
9 He had another dream and told this one also to his brothers: "I dreamed another dream—the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to me!"
10-11 When he told it to his father and brothers, his father reprimanded him: "What's with all this dreaming? Am I and your mother and your brothers all supposed to bow down to you?" Now his brothers were really jealous; but his father brooded over the whole business.
Let Your Spirit awaken the dreams of Your people.
Don't try to have your own dream, because you will only be trying to fill the whole in your heart. Instead, ask for God's vision. His dream will not only fill the void in your heart, but also that of the world!
Every person in your family has a specific God-given, unique purpose here on Earth. When we welcome the favor of our Heavenly Father, we begin to dream, because we realize we are chosen.
God chooses people in spite of their dysfunctional families or their flaws. We just need to put on the coat of His favor and His righteousness.
- the favor and support of their parents releases the destiny of the child.
- its what God the Father did when Jesus was baptized and the dove came on Him.
- Pray God's will for each child.
You won't believe God's dreams or you until you believe God's love for you.
God's love is offensive (John 3:16, "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." ) ...
and defensive... (Romans 8:35-39 "The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.)
He pursues us, loves us, and protects us.
His thoughts towards us are precious.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Ephesians. 4:24 "And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you."- our "coat". We need the fullness of the Holy Spirit to cover us. The coat gives us the right to dream out loud.
A private dream is a dead dream. Submit to God, to His process. Share it with a friend, ask for prayer help. Journal through it - write it down.