Wednesday, December 07, 2011

When things are hard....

I pray hard.  It's true.  I pray all the time in all kinds of situations.  I'm sure if God gave me a nickname it would probably be Magpie.  I never shutup.  Really I don't.  All day long I'm like some 2 year old saying "look at me daddy!  See what I can do!" or I'm crying and telling him what booboo I have for the day.  I'm not saying this is a bad thing--that's just my prayer life. 

But when things are hard, I listen better.  When things are good I just cruise along.  When things are bad I curl up in a ball every night and cry and ask Him what do I do now? 

Last night I just kept saying over and over--give me wisdom, give me strength.  Help me bend my will to Yours.  Me on my own?  I'm nothing.  I would definitely screw it up. Turning to Him?  Well, there are no guarantees b/c I am human and make mistakes--but I definitely slide things in favor of going better.

Is that why things are hard?  So I'll listen better?  Oh please Lord, help me get better at always listening...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Running Theme

There has been a running theme in my life the last year or so.  People who hurt me and aren't sorry.  And a few of these people I am required to continue relationship with...I can't just walk away.  And ALL of these people say they love God (except one is confused on that front right now)---so they are my brother/sister in Christ.  In general, I can honestly forgive and move on with someone who is genuinely sorry.  Someone who shows me that they truly understand the hurt they caused and then they genuinely work VERY hard at changing their behavior.  Those people I respect, admire, and feel good about mending the relationship.

But people who aren't sorry?  Honestly?  I don't know how to deal with it.  How do you move forward?  How can it become "ok"?  How do you forgive?  How do you still give of yourself and love others when you are tired of being hurt?

A few years ago I would have said, "You have to trust God.  Pray, He will help you get over it."  And I still believe that.  But it is not as simple as it sounds.  Nor is it a one time shot.  This is where that daily walking with God thing comes into play. And even when I know that in my head, the daily living it out is honestly exhausting to me.  I think I'm missing something in the equation?  Is there more to it that I've failed to understand?  Or is this deep heart hurt just a part of the human existance?  A result/consequence of sin--our own and the fallout of the sin of others?

God my heart is hurt and it is hard to put one foot in front of the other.  I feel tired and wore down. I feel defeated in some ways.  I don't want to feel this way.  I know others have it much rougher than I have and I am grateful for all that You give and You have provided.  I just don't know how to get over the feelings that I have.  Show me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Loving Others

Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

It all comes down to loving God and loving others.  Loving God, I can do.  There are moments when it is hard, for sure.  But deep down He has given me the faith that I need to trust Him even when I can't see.  Loving others is so hard.  At least with God, I know He is perfect--that everything He does is with perfect motivation.  Loving others is not the case. 

I have been fried by others.  I'm just guessing, so have you.  It makes me want to say "ok, that's it--no more 'others' in my life."  I want to close the door and just forget it.  I'm tired of being hurt.  I'm tired of being misunderstood.  I'm tired of not knowing the right way to interact with each person I meet.  I'm tired of making a mess when I was just trying to help.  I'm tired of getting close and getting stung.  I'm tired of being rejected.  I'm tired of "not being good enough". 

But I love God.  And He told me to love others.  And his motives for me to love others are perfect.  And I trust Him.  This pain I feel is for a purpose I don't see. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Power of Community....

Thursday nights we have a group of people who come over and we talk about our faith and God and pray for each other and eat snacks and laugh at our children who run around enjoying each other's company.  My last couple of posts have been downers--just struggling/sloshing through some stuff in my life right now. 

I just wanted to take a moment to post about the power of community.  With how I've been feeling, last night I did not want to have a group of people in my home, much less LEAD said group of people in a discussion about God. Had I been an "attendee" of the group instead of the "leader", I honestly would have skipped.  And man, I would have missed out on the power of community.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  "Two are better than one....If one falls down, his friend can help  him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

I fell down this week and my friends, they lifted me up.  I didn't even really discuss what was going on inside of me--just BEING there with them, listening to them talk about God, what He was doing in their life--lifted me up too.  It helped to remind me of who HE is and what HE is about.  And how much He loves me. 

Listening to each of them pray.  Thanking God for each other, for answering prayer, for being there--boldly asking Him to meet the needs of their friends and family.  Healing took place in my soul.

Lord, thank  you so much.  I can be such a whiny brat and yet You still take the time to console me--thank you.  thank you. thank you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feeling Low

Yesterday was a bad day.  I wonder, is it just me or when you begin to have a bad day--does it seem like it just continues to go downhill?  Many little things happened that turned my bad day into a REALLY bad day and in turn my attitude turned sour which in turn probably caused people in my family to also have a bad day.  <sigh>

While nothing "bad" has happened today, I still feel low b/c yesterday was bad and I didn't handle it well.  <sigh again> 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Perspective

This world is not about me and my experiences.  This world is about God and His kingdom.  Lord help me to keep life in perspective.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wish I Knew...

How can you so intensely care about people you don't know?  Why do I have such a burden for faces that I have yet to meet?  Why has God placed this burden on my heart, but has yet to show me what to do with what I feel?

Reading blogs about others working in Haiti, selling Haitian jewelry for people I don't know, and in general hearing the word "Haiti" pop up several times of day--all cause my heart to ache.  Part of me wants to just shut the door and walk away.  But God won't let me.

So I wait.  Impatiently today.  Frustrated.  Heart heavy.  Mind confused. 

Monday, May 02, 2011

THE SECRET IS OUT

I don't have it all together.  There it is.  The secret has been revealed.  I don't have it all together and it drives me CRAZY!  I want to know everything I need to know.  I want to know how to handle each situation the right way.  I want to be able to guide my kids without second guessing myself and wondering if I have given them the best advice/discipline/guidance/reprimand in the best possible way. 

When my kids were small, it was easy to fake it.  They definitely didn't know that I didn't know what I was doing.  They just trusted me and went with it.  I also had the luxury of knowing that they weren't going to remember much about their life before age 12 or so.  (at least that's what I told myself)  I have 2 teenagers and one 12 year old--I can't hide anymore.  I can't fake it.  They know it.  And the stakes are so much higher it feels.

I find myself praying much more fervently now than I did before.  "God make me enough.  Make me the mom they need me to be.  And please, please, PLEASE protect them, reveal Yourself to them.  Draw them to You."

Perhaps I should have been doing more of that all along.  I'm a slow learner.

Monday, April 25, 2011

EASTER

What a weekend.  Our lives have been so filled--every minute a dozen "have-tos" need our attention.  But this weekend, we planned for nothing.  A few "need tos", but mostly--"want-tos" and "impromptus".

Our daughter, Racheal, turned 15 this week and also went to Disney in Florida with the high school marching band. She returned on Friday afternoon (during the CRAZY rain!) and Josh took Saturday off.  Because of the crazy rain our soccer game on Friday was cancelled!  So we got to be lazy all weekend long. 

We enjoyed Easter together as a family.  This may sound funny--but this is one of the few Easters we have enjoyed as a family.  For many years we were very actively involved in Sunday morning church.  Sunday morning church can be an AWESOME thing.  It can also become work if you are not very very careful. Unfortunately I don't think my husband & I were very careful and it turned into a lot of work in a lot of ways.  We loved the work, don't get me wrong.  We really did enjoy every moment of serving and helping and giving to the people God put in front of us.  The problem was, we stopped taking time to spend WITH God.  We would be so focused on getting the service ready--or serving in the kid's ministry or fixing something that we would lose track of moments just to spend listening to the Spirit. 

This year, it was just our family.  Just the five of us.  In our dining room.  Singing songs from youtube.  Reading the Easter story.  Remembering what Jesus has done and what that means.  Josh shared how God showed him that Easter ushered in the Holy Spirit--without Easter we wouldn't have God with us always. 

Then we of course had the annual Easter Egg Hunt (albeit with two reluctant teens and one very excited 12 year old).  And then we all pitched in and made supper--burgers on the grill, deviled eggs, strawberries, french fries (yum!).  Enjoyed a couple of movies.  A very nice, relaxing "non-have to" day.

He has risen!  He is Alive!  The Spirit now lives in us.  Does your life reflect that?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DATE NIGHT

Going out with my hubby this afternoon for some much needed bonding time.  Our life seems to get stuck in fast forward way too often and I need days like this just to slow down and reconnect with the man I love.  I love my kids and I love being their mom and shuttling them to and from everything--but I need to remember I'm a woman too.  My "mom" hat won't be forever (at least not in the capacity that it is right now) and I need to remember who I am when I'm not "mom"!! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MOTHERHOOD

I'm a mom times 3.  Tomorrow will mark the day that I began learning one of the hardest lessons of being a mom---letting go.  Racheal turns 15 tomorrow.  15 years ago tomorrow, I learned that being a mom involves a lot of pain.  It is very scary.  And 90% of the time you don't know what you're doing (the other 10% --you think you know what you're doing, but you realize later you were wrong). 

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of me learning how to let go.  I'm a slow learner.  I still haven't learned how to let go.  "Don't forget your jacket, it will be cool today."  "Did you remember your homework?"  "Put on sunscreen."  "Make good choices."  I look at my beautiful daughter and my handsome sons and my heart swells and my chest constricts.  My eyes get leaky and my nose burns.  I love them so much.  I can't even put into words how much I love them.  And I am terrified for them, almost always.  The world is so big, so mean, so hard, and I want to just wrap them in my arms and keep them from all the hurt I know they are gonna feel.

But I can't.  Because being a mom means equipping them to deal with all that pain, all that evil.  I cannot shelter them, I can't keep them from all the bad.  Oh of course I could for awhile.  But one day they will leave the safety of my home, of my eyes, of my arms and if I don't do my job well--they won't be able to cope.

So I hold on to Jesus and pray that my love for Him and my dependence on Him shines through.  Because my Mama taught me about Jesus and that He is good, that He is loving, and while we will never understand Him fully--He can be trusted.  I'm teaching my children the same--Hold on to Jesus, because this world will chew you up and spit you out and He's the only stable thing there is to hold on to.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY

I have this thought almost every single time I go to a funeral or a visitation.  I stand in line, trying to blink back tears.  I get close to the "loved ones" waiting beside the deceased and I lose it.  EVERY TIME.  I cry.  It doesn't matter whether I know the deceased, or the loved ones.. Heck, I could totally not know ANYONE in the room, and I'd still cry.  My nose burns, my eyes leak and I can't say a word over the lump in my throat.  I hold the loved ones close and say "I'm praying for you", I back away with my head down and cry some more as I scurry to the car.

There has to be a better way.  Granted, I am a non-traditionalist.  I like change.  And I like to buck the system.  I question why we do everything, and why we do it the way we do.  <which probably has a huge contribution to why we homeschool and why we lead a home church> 

SO?  Is there a better way for a visitation or a funeral? I totally get that some people need closure by seeing the deceased body.  And I get that people want to "pay their respects" and let the loved ones know they care.  But isn't there another way?

Ok, I'll be honest.  I think one of the biggest reasons why I cry so hard is because I know there will be a day when I'M going to be the "loved one" standing next to the deceased.  While, I'm in no hurry to be the person in the box--that really doesn't terrify me too much (at this point anyway).  What I can't stand, is the thought of being the person standing next to the box, hurting so bad that the person I love is in the box and is no longer here with me.  And knowing that no amount of people saying "I'm sorry for your loss" is going to make a dent in the pain that I feel inside. 

Hours.  Loved ones stand there for HOURS.  Shaking hands, giving hugs, watching people cry, crying themselves, trying not to say something stupid, looking for something helpful to say.  And the people who come?  Stand in line for a long time (sometimes hours!), try not to cry, make small talk with people in line about inconsequential things, try not to completely lose it in front of the "loved ones", try the whole time to think of something adequate to say, feel like a failure when they don't come up with anything, glance at the person in the box, shed more tears, and make their way to the car.

Is this really helpful to either set of people? Maybe it is to some, and if it is to you..then I understand.  You're exactly why I go to visitations and funerals.  But for me--it's not helpful.  It causes a knot in my stomach and makes me sweaty and anxious. 

And always this same thought---isn't there a better way?  It's become my quest now.  I'm trying to come up with a better way. 

For instance today I attended the visitation of my friend, Gordon Cade.  Great guy.  LOVED soccer (that is an understatement--he was buried in a soccer uniform and a Manchester United stocking cap).  Wouldn't it have been more fitting to rent a huge jumbo-tron and watch a Manchester United game? Drink some beers, and laugh?  I think Gordon would have loved that... And instead of having all the kids from the soccer team come stand in line--what if we would have gathered them all together at the soccer field and had a game in Gordon's honor?  I think Gordon would have loved that too.  Not that Gordon or his family didn't (doesn't) appreciate all of us coming and hugging them and paying our respects.  Or even that the Cade family should have done things differently.

I just don't think I can stand there for several hours while people come to pay their respects to the person I love who is in the box.  I don't think I can do it.  So I gotta come up with another idea.  I will still have a funeral service...but I don't think I can do the visitation.  I just can't.  I think I would have a nervous breakdown and say some really dumb things and hurt a lot of people.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Friday Five

1.  What’s in need of a good cleaning?
It might be easier to answer what doesn't...ha ha

2.  What’s your idea of good, clean fun?
board games & snacks with my friends and/or family


3.  How clean is your driving record?
I got one ticket shortly after turning 16 for rolling through a stop sign.  Other than that--nothing!  (Lots of warnings for speeding though! :( )

4.  When did you last make a clean escape?
Hmmm.....I probably don't want to share so that I can do it again :)


5.  What are your feelings about dirty language?
For myself? :  Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." 


But potty-mouthed people don't bother me too much.  I kind of feel like if you have to use the "f" word (or other inappropriate words) every other word, it is a mark of having nothing important to say.  It's kind of annoying.  But if you stub your toe or something really bad happens, I can understand why you  might choose a few choice words to say...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's Your Role?

I am enjoying reading Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  While I don't necessarily agree always with what he writes, I very much appreciate how he thinks.  He examines everything and thinks deeply and honestly. 

The book talks alot about story and how life is one big story.  I've heard this concept before in some other books (John Eldredge especially), but what I especially liked is a small part about a father creating a role for his daughter in the story of the family.  They were having trouble with her and through conversation decided to write a better role for her to fill.  Long story short, once she found a role within her family that fit who she wanted to be, she didn't feel like she needed to seek out other stories to be a part of.

In the context of story, I had always thought about my own story.  It didn't dawn on me until I read this book, that yes I am a part of a story--but I also need to be writing roles for other people in my life.  And allowing them room to write in my story as well.  I have written roles for other people, but I didn't realize it.  And I now am seeing more clearly that sometimes I have written roles for people that they don't want to fulfill and that's what creates conflict in my story.  (i.e.  conflict in my relationships!)  Sometimes I will have to be firm in those roles--for instance with my children.  They  may not like the fact that they are my kids--but that is a non-negotiable.  But they definitely can have the freedom to grow up and make their own choices of what will interest them, what they will feel passionately about, what they dream--those aren't things that I need to write for them, I need to allow them to discover that.  There must be room in my story for their story too....

Love your neighbor as you love yourself....why does this all seem so familiar?? :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

SOCCER 2011 HAS OFFICIALLY BEGUN

So today was our first soccer game!  It was SO COLD!  No joke--had on three layers plus 4 blankets and I was still feeling numb in my extremities!  But at least it wasn't raining!  We tied Marshall and won 7-1 against Paris!  The kids played really well.  Especially #1--that Quinton Ridgley kid :)  3 assists!

Friday, March 25, 2011

FRIDAY FIVE

1.  When did you last have occasion to march anywhere?
March....hmmm...  Probably the last time I "marched" would have been while I was a teacher's aide at a preschool...

2.  What kind of hula-hooper are you?
Absolutely dreadful! 

3.  What kind of madness is most likely to infect you this weekend?
Soccer madness!  My son's first game is this weekend and it's a double header!  We have commenced to talking about soccer almost all the time right now!

4.  Under what circumstances this past week might you have had reason to shout, “SCORE!” 
This past week???  Ummm... I haven't :(  So sad I know!

5.  When did you last inadvertently dribble, drool, or otherwise let liquid escape your mouth while trying to keep it in?
While I slept for sure...I'm a drooler.  Gross, but true.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I LOVE ILLINOIS WEATHER

Go ahead, hate me.  I can take it.  But I LOVE Illinois weather. I do.  I love how it changes constantly.  I love how one day you can have your windows open and be wearing shorts and the next day you are turning the heater on and wearing your winter coat.  It is one of the greatest parts of living in Illinois.  I really don't know why I love the changing weather--but I do.  Always have!  So there.  Illinois--I like your wacky weather so just keep it up!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I HURT

I have that all over kind of hurt going on.  Not physical--emotional/mental.  But it feels physical.  That's why I haven't been writing.  I don't even know how to express myself really.  I can't even really give you specific reasons why I hurt.  I just do.  I'm tired of hurting.  I'm tired of picking myself up and forcing myself to keep moving forward.  I'm tired of dealing with everything that keeps coming my way.  I'm tired of realizing that I honestly don't have a clue to many of the things that I am facing -- I don't have the answers.  And if I'm being really honest, I'm tired of asking God and not receiving an answer.  In some ways I feel like a 2 year old who decides to sit down and is not getting up--I want to shake my fist at God and stomp my feet and say "I'm not moving one more step until you explain to me what is going on."  I'm tired of faking it.  I'm tired of putting on a plastic smile and murmuring the right words.  That's what I'm thinking.  Not pretty I know, but it's real.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

BEST FRIENDS

I have this group of friends.  We came together about 5 years ago.  There are 5 couples.  We are all as different as night and day.  It's amazing that we are so close and we love each other so well.  We all do life differently, raise our families differently, have different theologies and ideas.  But at our heart--we all love Jesus.  Desperately, with abandon, we are deeply in love with Jesus. 

God brought this grouping of people to my life 5 years ago when I was going through a really hard time.   They were a balm on my soul and continue to be.  Honestly, I don't know what I would do without these people now.  They have become so entangled in my life and I love it that way.  Each time I'm with them, I reveal a little more of myself and they reveal a little more of themselves.  Each time we're together I fall a little bit deeper in love with them.  Each time I'm with them, I realize a little bit more what a unique gift God has given me. 

Last night we spent the entire night eating random snack foods and going around the table sharing the struggles we're going through.  Praising God for the things He has carried us through.  Encouraging one another that "you're not crazy!"  and whole lot of teasing each other.  We had lots of belly laughs--the kind where your eyes close real tight and it's hard to breathe and your whole body shakes.

As I think back on last night--it was a taste of home, of heaven.  Being with my best friends made my problems seem a little smaller, less bleak.  It made me realize that I have worth.  A lot of healing went on last night, where we poured into each other and allowed ourselves to be poured into.  It felt like Jesus.

I love you, my best friends.  Thanks for being Jesus to me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

THIS IS THE STUFF YOU USE

Just heard the song This is the Stuff You Use by Francesca Battistelli.  Going through a rough time right now with a pretty important relationship to our immediate family.  For the past several weeks I have been struggling through anger, frustration, irritation, forgiveness, letting go--in short, being the person God wants me to be instead of the fleshly person that kept crying out to be let loose. 

I was shocked at the level of anger I felt.  I was surprised at the unkind and hurtful thoughts that came so easily to mind and the willingness of myself to at least allow my mind to unleash fury on this person and revel in their pain.  It was sin.  Dirty, ugly, "I have a right to feel this way", sin. 

Thank God, the Spirit was able to speak through all that anger and hurt and continue to whisper--this is not who you were made to be.  I SO didn't want to listen to that voice.  Thank God again that I had a husband and good friends I was able to share my struggle with--that I was not winning the war in my own heart against Satan trying to creep in.   They were able to enter into the battle with me and pray that God would have His way and not the flesh.

It is a moment by moment struggle sometimes.  The situation with the relationship is not resolved--it's not all tied up in a pretty bow and fixed.  It's messy.  I know things now, that I didn't know and that changes things.  I have to relearn how to trust (or if to trust!) the person.

But the song this morning--This is the Stuff You Use--reminded me that God used this situation to remind me that Satan is always there(sin is crouching at your door)--waiting for the opportunity to come in and wreak havoc in my heart.  But God is SO much bigger and when we cry out to Him, He hears, He answers, He loves, He teaches, He renews this fleshly heart of mine and turns it again towards Him. 

Thank you so much Father.  And even though I know saying this will cause me pain--Use whatever You need to, to keep me close to You.  Thank you for loving me and for showing me the ugly that is still in me.  Thank you for holding my hand through this pain.  Thank you for making me a little more like your Son today.

I love you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

AN AFGHAN

I love God.  He is so cool how He works.  Yet at the same time, I am human and get frustrated at how He works.  But today--He showed me something cool.

I am attempting to crochet an afghan.  I learned how to crochet from my mom when I was young and haven't even attempted anything in probably 15+ years.  For whatever reason, I got a whim during the month of December to take the hobby up again.  I have crocheted 3 scarves and really enjoyed the process (and they are pretty!!).  My daughter told me I should choose something besides scarves to do.  So I was looking around and found a pattern to crochet an afghan.  It was marked "easy" and I thought--hey I made 3 scarves, this shouldn't be too difficult--I just have to follow the directions.

Have I mentioned here how I tend to lean toward the perfectionistic side?  How I like things to go the way they are supposed to?  So I'm crocheting away, feeling smug as I follow the directions and watch the yarn turn into something pretty.  BTW, this afghan has 9 rows--each row is a different pattern of stitches.  So I am going along and hit row 5 when I realize I'm not quite understanding what the directions are saying--b/c things are not coming out quite right.  I rip out a few stitches and try again--still it doesn't seem right.  So I ask my husband to take a look and see what he thinks.  He gives me a different viewpoint and wa-la!  it goes much better.  But as I look at it, I realize that it still doesn't look quite right.  When I stop and look at the whole thing, I realize I had  made a mistake (just a teensy one) a few rows back.  That's why it doesn't look quite right.  Now, my husband looks at it and says he doesn't notice.  My kids don't notice--no one is probably ever going to notice.  But  I notice.  And while I continue on--I know it's there.  That mistake is there and will effect every single row until the end of the afghan.  It bothers me.  It makes me want to quit.  I want to rip out everything I've done and start over.  Then I made another mistake a few rows later.  Again, it's not a big one that everyone will notice.  But I realized, even if I did rip out back to my original mistake--I would probably make another.  Am I gonna rip it out everytime until it is perfect? 

God whispered to my heart that the afghan is like my life.  My life is made one moment in time just as the afghan is made one stitch at a time.  I must take my life one moment at a time--I can't get ahead of myself.  My hands are full with this moment now.  Just like in the afghan--knowing what the next stitch is or concentrating on the next stitches instead of the stitch right in front of me will cause me to make mistakes or rush ahead!   I can't unravel my life and fix my mistakes--and those mistakes do influence the rest of my life--no matter how small.  But if I concentrate on my mistakes I will miss out on the beauty of my entire life.  I will miss the joy of each moment (each stitch!). 

Thanks God for each stitch of my life.  Help me to follow closely to you and when I don't and I trip and fall flat on my face--thank you for the grace of forgiveness.  Help me to learn how to forgive myself for my mistakes and also to forgive others for their mistakes.