Life can be brutal

I *had* a different blog post planned today. But, a loss this week drove me to write this instead. As always, thank you for reading. 

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I remember hearing a saying growing up. You probably heard a version of it, but not likely this:

When it rains, it pours. And when it pours, we drown

Being a Christian makes life no easier than being a non-Christian. And to be frank, sometimes being a Christian can actually make it harder. When it all comes down to bare bones, I am just a human. I have losses, heart ache, bad days, aggravations, and sorrow.

Along comes a Song

Know this: Music is a part of my wiring. Somewhere amongst the DNA GOD wove me together with, are quarter notes and stanzas.

When I hurt most, I find myself baptizing myself in music. Often, the lyrics and melodies GOD will use to grant seeds of peace and hope in my hurt.

So, here I am. Broken again. Feeling utterly overwhelmed by circumstances that I cannot see escape from.

This song has been on repeat for a few days now. May GOD use it to impart seeds of peace and hope in your heart. Click the link below to listen to it on youtube.

Remember Me, JESUS

 

 

 

Simply Spokn Sunday: Am I teachable

I had one of those moments in church service this morning that set the wee hampsters in my head whirring.. Am I teachable?

The Pastor was talking this morning about being obedient. Obedience does require that we do what GOD says when HE says and how HE says. But Obedience is also in being teachable.

I love to learn. I mean- I love it. I take great joy in learning new things. I love to read, to study, and yes, to even watch those how-to videos online.

But am I teachable?

Stubborn

I confess. I am stubborn. To a FAULT, sometimes. There have been too many times that I have ended up with my pride (or more) hurt by trying to be so stubborn.

I like to sometimes brush it off, saying that I do come from a very long heritage of stubborn women. And yes, that is so true. My great-grandma’s legacy still nearly 40 years after she passed from this life was of being a highly-stubborn lady.

But… I regress. Am I so stubborn that I won’t move off my caboose if GOD says?

But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee.
Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee:
so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live. (Jeremiah 38:20, KJV)

I have found over the last 6 years, I have picked up a terrible habit. I have caught myself saying, “Oh I will never do that in church…”, or “I can’t do that..” Eek! Who am I to say that I will not? If GOD so calls me to do this or to do that, I must obey or I sin.

Sin, at the end of the day, is disobeying GOD.

Red Shirted

Did you play sports? I did. I played one year of basketball, and ran cross-country track for one year.

One thing that can happen to an athlete is being red shirted. Sometimes, it is for things like bad grades or other school issues. But there are times that a player sits out because they are hurt.

I wanted so badly to get to walk in a children’s cancer march 2 years ago. But I was unable because I was too badly injured. I had (in stubbornness, yes) sprained by ankle.

But what if I am red-shirting myself?

I, like so many many others in this world, have been hurt by people in the church buildings. It is honestly hard to trust and serve in a church when you have been hurt like that.

But if I do not forgive- and do not serve- I take on a double-sin penalty. I need to put myself back on the bench and say, okay, here I am.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,
Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Then said IHere am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8, KJV)

Not a Team Player

This hinges a bit off the last point. I have become highly isolated. Partly due to my anxiety, but mostly out of sheer exhaustion from having been through a lot emotionally over the last three years.

I have GOT to put the past in the past, folks. I am so encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can’t do that hiding under the quilt. I am to pray with and for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am to be challenging my brothers and sisters in Christ to grow Closer to CHRIST JESUS, to study Scriptures more and to be about Kingdom work. None of that happens when I am hiding in the corner. It means taking my selfishness out of the equation and start being an intentional, interactive Christ Follower.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16, KJV)


Am I teachable? 

I would never have known how to capture a perfect sunset on a camera if I hadn’t been taught. My youngest son would not have finished his last season with 7 Soccer goals if he had never been shown how to play soccer.

Will I ever be perfect? No, My readers, not here upon this earth. But I can strive to be more teachable – more useful to The Master. Pray over your life and seek out ways that you may need to be more teachable.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things,
he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master,

prepared for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:21)

Contending with The Past

Sorry for the delay in posts. WordPress issues and work have hindered my regular posts. This post was intended to be published on Sunday, July 16th

The Opponent 

As Superman fights Lex Luger or any good guy fights the bad guy,  I have my arch enemy. She is a strong, loud dragon whose fangs could pierce concrete. Her name: The Past.

She lurks in the shadows of the night or in the loneliness of the crowd and whispers, ‘you are failure’. Mind you, she doesn’t whisper that I have failed but that in fact my failures define me.

In the last 7 years, I have been divorced twice, went through five jobs, moved three times, and went through two cars. Come on, that screams FAILURE. Yes, I hear you.

In the last 7 years, I have developed one incredibly unhealthy self-image. Worthless. Insignificant. Unwanted. And Yes, she has been winning. In seven years, I have actually grown to hate myself.

You have messed up too much. You will never be any good. You will never______ (fill in the blank). 

She is fiercely strong, and well armed with nearly four decades worth of mistake after mistake.

The Fight, so far

Flanked by anxiety and an incredibly unhealthy dating relationship, The Past has battered me dawn till dawn until I am shaking, crying, pleading for some comfort.

I’ve tried to wield a general hope and faith, finding myself instead weaponless. Again, The Past, she is a fierce enemy.

But Then, comes GRACE

I didn’t know Him when he walked onto the battle field. Small in stature, Grace walked up and placed His firm arm around me just when I thought I had lost for good.

At the beginning of 2017, GOD had gotten my attention. I found myself at the alter of the church, asking GOD to remove the relationship I was in if it wasn’t what HE wanted. And.. GOD did.

I won’t say it was painless. I cared about the guy, though the relationship was highly unhealthy and I ended up with my heart feeling burnt and reburned.

I had to be broken. I am one incredibly stubborn person (Irish-German, what a combination). And it took being financially striped bare, emotionally striped bare and finding myself at an all time high for reasons to absolutely HATE myself.. it took all of that for GOD to get me to see and feel HIS GRACE.

I finally knew GOD’s GRACE was there Mother’s Day of this year. I found myself celebrating my very first Mother’s Day without my sons. My mom, who I have a rocky relationship with, didn’t want to see me.

I found myself sitting and watching the sun come up that Sunday morning, feeling defeated by The Past. Just as tangible as the words on the screen before you, I heard and felt something spoken over me. “THIS ISN’T HOW IT ENDS”.

Speak, LORD, for Your servant listens

One of my favorite Old Testament stories is in 1 Kings Chapter 19.

“So HE said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.”
And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 

After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.” (1 Kinds 19:11-12)

It’s a reminder that GOD doesn’t always use the big or showy things to get our attention. Sometimes, HE just whispers.

I can remember when I was eight, we lived in an area that was prone to tornado activity. On one particular occasion, a tornado struck incredibly close to where we were. I panicked. I began to shake and cry and froze where I was. My Daddy kept trying to give me instructions on what to do, but I was paralyzed in fear. My Daddy, in his loving nature, knelt down in front of me and cupped my face in both of his hands. He didn’t scream. He whispered. And I calmed down.

EL ROI, OUR GOD WHO SEES, could have spoken to me on Mother’s Day in many ways. But HE knows HIS daughter full well. So HE whispered.

I’ve probably heard people say that it wasn’t over for me before that Sunday morning. But What GOD spoke over my heart that morning was slightly different. “THIS is not how it ends”.

GRACE and I versus The PAST

I wish I could say that every day since Mother’s day has been easy of that I have won my battle with the guilt and shame and worthlessness that The Past flings at me. I can’t, though. There are still days, or multiple moments through out a day that those thoughts might over come me.

And then there are days, that I grab GOD’s GRACE firmly in my hand and I walk in the victory I have in CHRIST JESUS.

There will likely be more hard days, but I pray daily (and sometimes hourly) for GOD to remind me that I fight not alone.

“for the LORD your GOD is the one who goes with you,
to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” (Deuteronomy 20:4, NASB)

 

 

 

 

Grasp

originally published January 2009, on a previous blog

I love watching a young child learning how to walk. I love the way they wrap their tiny fingers around the large fingers of their parents. It would seem, at first, that the child has the tightest grip; but any parent knows that it is the parent who grips tighter, to keep their child safe.

In your grasp

What are you holding on to?

I’m not referring to the remote control or computer mouse in your hand, although they may have something to do with it.

What ideas, thoughts and memories do you carry around with you so tightly that they have begun to embed themselves into your skin?

Maybe it is the memory of a loved one. Perhaps it is the hateful last words that you spoke to a friend, on constant replay in your mind. Do worries and fears shadow your every thought?

In my grasp

I admit: I have a death-grip on my worries about money. I can barely remember a time in my life that the sickening fear of poverty has not been with me.

I have found, though, that my money fears have not made me richer. Worrying has not balanced my checkbook or wrote out a budget. Pacing floors has never put a single penny into my pocket. It does not matter how tightly I hold on to my money fears; the fears are not helping me get by.

Giving up our grasp

So, let go.

No, you won’t fall. No, the world will not discontinue its’ revolving.

Like the wee child holding onto his parent, we will not fall when we let go of our grasp. We have a wise Father that holds onto us.

“My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.”
~ John 10:29

If we have surrendered our lives to The LORD JESUS CHRIST, then we are in HIS grasp.

If you have not surrendered your life to The LORD JESUS CHRIST, then what is stopping you?? What good has the things you are clinging so tightly to really doing?

Identity Crisis

Who am I?

Before you notify my next of kin to have me committed, hear me out: Who am I, really?

I have long scoffed at hearing people talk about midlife crisis. I have thought, ‘how can a person become so confused about who they are’? I remain skeptical about the behaviors that some attribute to midlife crisis, but I do know what it is to be confused about who I am.

Little Lost Girl

Though ribbons of shimmering light wove through my childhood, most of my preteen years were filled with sooty ashes. Secret shames I carried, plastered over by silly showy behavior. I was all too entirely lost. As I shifted into puberty and the gates of High School enveloped me, I felt swallowed whole by a life that I didn’t truly want to live yet lived anyways. I stumbled into college with dreams of escaping the life I had lived until that point. College was miles away from those who might see the shame laced in my smile or might stumble upon some stash revealing my guilt.

China Doll

Perfect. Or at least, as perfect as I could get. I aspired to be the perfect student and person and for so long, that is what I thought I became. Yet there was a part of me that knew others who were closest to me could see the blackness of my heart through soot in my tears. I tossed myself into the workforce and church activities, hoping that if I kept on doing the right thing that somehow I would fix myself.

The Day the Wall Crashed: March 12, 2009

I kept up appearances. I got just close enough to people to not be lonely, yet far enough away from them so they couldn’t smell my heart rotting inside me. Deep into anxiety & depression I fell – even with medicine, yet I painted the good girl smile on & to everyone else, all seemed fine. Fine & dandy, indeed.

Until. THAT day.

March 12, 2009 holds little significance to most. As I laid in the big city hospital that morning, the doctor chanted to the the specifics of what would happen next. For that morning, I would look at my daughter, Delani Rose, for the last time. Her heart had stopped.

The next morning, I would go through the process to help remove her remains from my body. The china doll I had been for 12 yrs walked into that hospital & came out a corpse.

Alive & Yet Dead

Existed. That is what I did. My desire to pretend scrapped away, and the ashy existence I had always been shone through.

I wish I could say that I did all the right things following Delani’s death, but I can’t say that with honesty. I knew I needed to reenter counseling, but I just didn’t care about getting better.

People began to see the ugly pain that they couldn’t understand as some sort of rebellion against what I was suppose to be. 18 months of living with the living dead ended my first marriage, & I found myself where I didn’t want to be yet needed to be: ALONE.

Construction Zone

With help from my divorce, I found myself isolated from the earthly family I still had left. All the text books would flag such an occurrence as dangerous, yet it was what I needed – emotionally. Three weeks into the exile, I found Him. I found who I needed.

His name is JESUS.

Now that you have rolled your eyes & scoffed at me, let me share what happened.

When I began my new existence, I had a deep gut knowledge that I needed to be in a church. Church was an all-to-familiar thing to me having grown up as a PK (Preachers Kid), but I didn’t just want to find an ordinary church. I hungered to find something authentic.

I found so many white washed tombs filled with the zombies of legality, that I wondered if authentic church actually existed. A colleague suggested a young church startup in a neighboring town, so I decided to visit. It was there I found an authentic church.

There were no expectations of perfection. There was no pretense that all of life is flowers & teddy bears. It was a church that taught GOD’s Word straight up & talked openly about how when JESUS saves us, sometimes the process to being made whole doesn’t happen it an instant but is rather a process that will bring Glory to GOD & draw others to Christ.

So, on the three month anniversary of me being alone, I stepped into the waters & pronounced to the world that I was ready to find what GOD intended for me to be.

It has been 19 months since I first set foot into that church.

And now, I am ready. I needed time after Christ reclaimed me from the darkness to heal my wounds & to resolve many questions that I had about faith & love. Though my scars remain, I know I have waited long enough & it is time to find who I truly am. In Christ.

I still fight often with my past guilt & regrets, but I must trust them into the hands of Savior who will crumble them & reshape them into something useful in my life. There can be no more pretending for anyone. There can be no more redistributing my load so I can carry more regrets and shame. It is time to delve into greatest adventure of my life: finding out who I am (in Christ) & living that out in a flagrant way.

Sinking Deep

Over 150+ calories. I finished logging yesterday’s calories today. I knew when I went to bed yesterday that I was going to bed over & tired & I just really didn’t care at that moment. I lost sight of my goal.

Philippians 3:14 states: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of GOD in Christ JESUS” (NASB). I had took my eye off the goal. A great basketball player cannot score 30 points in a game if they spend the entire time looking at the newspaper. All goals in this life are object based. In my Christian walk, my eyes must be on Christ. Focused. Nothing else in my way. If my professional life, I must be focused on the task at hand. When I lose that focus at work (or in anything else), I fall. When I lose my focus on Christ, I fall. When I took my eyes off my weight loss yesterday, I fell.

I could blame my fall on so many things, and maybe some of them did attribute to my fall. I know that the ultimate end of the line responsibility rests with me. I put the food in my mouth, fully aware they were not healthy decisions based on many things (it was junk food). I ate the food. There was no miltant figure forcing it down my into my stomach. I chose to do it & I am to blame.

But today is another day. 60% through the day, I am doing well having 67% of my calories left for the day. I have eaten a healthy breakfast & lunch and just may indulge in a healthy snack before the end of my work day.

It has been a good day in other regards, too. The job I interviewed for earlier in the week (the one that left me feeling so defeated) – I was notified today that I will begin training for it this week. My life is changing. A Healthier body – a healthier future professionally.

I know those things are happening by Christ alone. There is nothing of myself that merits those things. I know that I have worked hard in my life – but only because Christ has blessed me with an abled body (even after surving physical therapy just 2 short years ago). I know that Christ has given my mind to learn the things I have about health as well as the things I have learned professionally. I thank GOD for HIS mercy’s on this simple country gal.

Boarding Call: Saying Some Goodbyes

“After that He {JESUS} went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me. And he {Levi} left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him {Jesus}. ” (Luke 5:27-28)

Levi left everything behind, according to Luke 5:27-28, to follow Jesus. Everything. His job. His collegues. His lifestyle. His schedule. His identity. Levi left the stuff behind & simply followed.

All Aboard, The Master Calleth

Jesus isn’t unfamiliar to me. Perhaps for much of my life, HE was all to familiar. My dad was a minister, which meant that the big white leather bound Bible set on our coffee table & we went to church nearly every time the doors were opened. I knew of Gideon, Moses, Joshua, Peter & James. I knew there were 7 golden candlesticks in Revelations, & that Joshua and Caleb were the “good Hebrew spies”. I read the cover off of a pink Leather Bible awarded to me in 1989, & attended more VBS classes than most I knew. I knew, yet I did not know. I knew stuff – I knew what church people were suppose to do… but I did not know what church was really about. What life was really about.  Who JESUS really was.

A bit over a year ago, I would come to the hard realization that I was not saved. I was a fraud. A great pretender. I knew things about JESUS, but did not really have a true relationship with Him. I would stop the pride & kneel to pray one Sunday morning.

I’ve tried to fight the recent urges that perhaps JESUS is calling me again. I resisted, “How could I possibly be used”. I couldn’t possibly be used with the past that I have, I thought. Silly, foolish girl.

JESUS wants to use me because of my broken filthy past so that I can help someone who is struggling with that lifestyle now. Who am I to limit the Lord?

I can’t fight His call anymore. No more excuses. It’s time to throw everything down & leave it all behind.

Farewell

I step onboard. It is time now to say goodbye. Goodbye to expectations of others that I have tried so hard to exceed. Goodbye to wishing for all the could-of-been & should-of-been. Goodbye to trying to act 21 when I’m more than 10 years beyond that. Goodbye to been wishy-washy. Goodbye to a life too busy to truly call life.