Why blog?

It's therapeutic... specially for dorks like me who communicate better when they have the chance to process their thoughts, select their words, and write precisely what they want to say. As much as I'm a "talker", I stumble, stutter, and don't always say things right. English as a second language might have something to do with that (unfortunately, I don't think I could blog in Spanish... I lost my grammar in that language). I like to pour out my thoughts and leave it out there in the cosmos (or the world wide web) for other people to mull over...

Monday, June 18, 2012


It has been an awesome night.  I haven't been able to fall asleep, but I read the Bible and did devotional with the kiddos and with the hubby.  Feeding on God's Word to our heart's content.

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

Putting my money where my mouth is...

Easier said than done!

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.