February 25, 2013

Be intentional.

going

After I shared all my Truth Cards I had made myself at the end of last month I kept this one out. I set it within the frame in front of me so that I can see it. They end up right at eye level. When I chose this one I didn't realize how much I would need it this month. But oh did I ever.

I began struggling with ideas about mid-month working to know what direction I should take on a few things. I was struggling because I wanted to do what was best, I didn't want fear to hold me back, and I wanted to do what would thrill me, but everything had gotten mixed up. The problem was I began looking at some circumstances within my life and allowing them to have a heavier weight than they should have.

Oh, circumstances are definitely a player when we are living, right? There are some things we can't change, and there are things which change us. But I didn't want them to be heavier than everything else. Captain told me not to worry about those circumstances, but to do what I really felt I should do. He's so supportive that way. I also asked several good friends to pray for me, and to share advice if they had any. They were all great, and also encouraging.

Then I had to get quiet. I had to get pen and paper out and work through my thoughts. I had to listen to see what I was hearing from God. I had to close my eyes to it all and really consider. A few things I crossed paths with reminded me of where I wanted to be, and when all the information came together I realized the path I needed to be on was the one I originally stepped on. And then the peace flowed.

You see, I needed to be reminded of where I wanted to end up in order to know what I should do. And I know that not everyone will agree with my choices, but those that love me will still love me regardless. I'm not doing anything dangerous, or crazy, or stupid. I'm doing what I feel God is leading me to do right now. And I don't say that to shut up the critics, truly. This is where my path is, and so I am moving forward as I had originally planned, knowing the only thing which truly matters is what God thinks of me, and He's got my back.

As you move forward in your life I challenge you to be intentional. Look to see where you want to go, believe you were created for that, and take the steps you need to get there. Believe in yourself, and know that you are choosing your future based on what God has laid on your heart. Even if it doesn't make sense to everyone else.

February 22, 2013

The crowd around me.

I am so blessed. When I say this, I don't mean it lightly. I know sometimes it can come across as such a left-handed comment, and I don't want that to happen here. Let me see if I can explain, because what I want is the same thing for each of you.

Beginning about three years ago my faith life took some serious hits. To be honest, before that I simply sailed through, or at least that is how I remember things. I had good teachers who asked good questions, and one that even suffered me when I questioned who the 12 Judges truly were. But then the time to struggle came. (Remembering things as better than they were could be a blog post in itself, of course, but that can be later.) What I do know is that I hit a point where I had a lot of questions, doubted a lot of stuff, and things didn't click quite as well as they once had.    

I struggled for a while on my own trying to work things out, and make no mistake I was able to make sense of some things quite well. I also began to read more outside of my normal range. What I mean is I was reading authors who I didn't necessarily agree with, but who gave me a different take on things, a different perspective I hadn't considered, or an experience I had never gone through. These were great for me and really stretched me. I didn't simply fall in line, as I would have in the past, but I kept searching and studying trying to figure out where my faith was.

I've come a long way in these past three years, though I know I am still working out this faith of mine. The way I am blessed is through those people closest to me, whether they know it or not. They help me move through questions, find answers, or locate a resting place while I still don't understand. My small group on Sunday mornings is this way. Just this past Sunday as we finished up Amos I was asking questions about the sovereignty of God. You know what the best part was? No one looked at me with pity, or as if I was crazy, and unless they thought it in their brain no one questioned my salvation either. While I sat there listening to their answers, I was so grateful for the ability to be vulnerable enough to ask questions because they had made a safe place.

Ironically that morning I had come to the point where I realized that so much in life is never going to be understood by me, God's sovereignty being one of those things. I have come to accept that I don't know how he works, or why he works the way he does, and I'm getting to the point where I'm more okay with that. Who says God has to explain himself to me anyway, right? But I will be forever thankful and consider myself completely blessed that I have people I can ask these questions to, and not feel judged or belittled as I search for the answers.

I do hope you find a group who you can bounce ideas off of and ask questions without worry, because they have been such a huge part of some healing I have had to go through while I was asking these questions.

February 20, 2013

A little free writing....

"There are two sides to us, aren't there. You come into a situation, and you could respond in over a million ways, but really we usually have only two choices. One decision."

She stood staring out the window and I stood staring at her. Why did she have to make things so much harder on herself. My heart broke for her, but her back was stiff.

"I know what the right answer is, but I don't want to do it. And you can't make me."

Shaking my head ever so slightly I told her I understood. It was her decision, no matter how many choices she thought she had. She slowly turned to face me. Her chin slightly tilted up, but I wasn't sure if it was stubbornness or my height which required such a move.

"You have no idea the fight I fight constantly. What I want to do is run from this spot screaming and explode. What I want to do is let everyone know exactly how they made me feel and how much hurt they have caused. What I want to do is hate everyone for always. Because really, that's what I want to do.

"But it's not what I will do.

"The other side of me wants to pretend nothing happened, just wipe it away. The other part of me wants to smile pretty and make sure everyone is okay. The other part of me wants to drink lemonade and paint my fingernails and pretend all is right and good and perfect."

The tear had no chance at making it past her eyelashes as she furiously wiped at it. She was so angry and hurt, and I didn't feel as if I had any answers for her. Everything seemed so pat, and dry, and empty. But I took her hand and we sat down on the stairs.

"I'm just so tired. So incredibly tired."

I knew the feeling. I understood her heart. And yet this was something she had to walk out herself. All I could do was hold her hand along the way.

{The Right to Write by Julia Cameron:: "Initiation Tool" motivation.)

February 15, 2013

Answer your doubts.

I have been reading Glimpses of Grace as a morning devotional this year. While I don't always agree with Madeleine L'Engle, she almost always makes me think which I believe is a wonderful thing to happen. When I crossed paths with this quote I nodded in agreement, but I also have kept it in the back of my mind thinking about it:

question

Have you ever had doubts, worries, or questions but simply chose to ignore them and hold on to what you believe simply because someone said it and you choose to "have faith"? Can I, in my ever humble opinion, say that I think this is one of the most dangerous things you could ever do in regards to your faith.

You see, we have a Rock to stand on and that Rock is a firm solid foundation. But sometimes things get between us and the Rock. Sometimes another person pushes their beliefs onto you, and they say it is firm and you can stand on it, but it's not.

Then a question comes up, or a doubt, or a conflict about what was said. Sometimes the other person will accuse you of not being a believer, or of sinning against God, or of having the Devil in you if you question what they are so sure of. It's crazy, right? What craziest is that we will ignore those promptings not to make waves. You think that will never happen, because after all we are smart. But the accusations people can throw so easily are painful, and then the ground underneath us shakes a little.

You think it's impossible for someone to make such accusations? Please know it happens. I have had all three said against me or someone I know during different times in my life. Actually, now that I think of it they all occurred during the same period of time, but they weren't connected. I think God was bringing me to a point where I could start seeing what people were saying verses what He says.

So, what do doubts and questions have to do with all of this? If someone has said something that doesn't sit right in your soul, do not simply accept it on faith. Do not simply nod your head so that you don't cause conflict. Do not turn your back and ignore the issue for now. It will come back. Dig into the word. Do research into the Bible and find out what God says about your doubts and questions. If what was said truly was from God, as Mrs. L'Engle said, then why fear the research. And if it's simply from the person, you desperately need the research.

The reason I think it is so incredibly dangerous to accept blindly is because you leave yourself vulnerable. If someone tells you God wont give you more than you can handle, and something comes along which brings you to your knees you can begin to doubt the real truths. If you haven't searched out what is truth and what is false then your ground will be shaky when you need it to be firm the most. You see, God leaves us in our weakness so that we can boast about his strength. However, he doesn't give us a temptation greater than we can bear without also giving us a way out.

You can't stand firm until you remove the doubts, so dig in, learn what the Bible really says, and then stand firm when all is said and done.

February 14, 2013

The reasons.

He stood at the front of the room with the other graduates that year who were being commissioned. Little did I know I sat directly behind his father whom I had never met. It worked out though, because I misunderstood his looks in my direction to be directed to me. Not that this was our first meeting, for my friendship with all those at the front of the room was why I found myself in that seat to begin with. I was proud of them for working so hard and achieving what they had dreamed. I never made it to that place, because my dreams were wishy and never solidified into anything until that night.

Our differences are magnified in this encounter. As he stood with his impeccable military bearing, I did my best to make him laugh. How he put up with me, and why he ever spoke to me afterwards is beyond me. I made faces and stuck out my tongue, I winked and giggled like a school girl, but he never broke. He was firm and steadfast and determined, and I wasn't surprised that no smile passed his lips during that period.

Once it was official and the ceremony was over I pushed my way up to the front of the room to speak to him. I have no idea if I pushed past his father or his mother. I have no idea who was around or what plans he had already planned that night. But the smile I so longed for in the hour before came when I made eye contact with him up close.

"We're going out. Bowling, and then I don't know what. If you want to join us it would be great."

I wonder if I said it like that. Did I hand him the invite so carelessly as if it didn't matter if he joined us or not? Did I say words which were more endearing and pulling and inviting? I'm not sure we even went bowling, to be perfectly honest with you. My memory fails me after the invitation was set upon his shoulders to choose.

What I do remember is his choice. I remember sitting in his truck and leaning across for a kiss. I remember being grateful and my heart filling with joy. And his eyes. I always remember looking into his eyes and being pulled in further than I thought was possible.

That night was not the first we had met. I did not know when I first saw him that I would love him so dearly. I had no idea how special he was as our friendship formed and others went in and out of our lives. But that night, when the kiss across the truck occurred, and when I looked in his eyes I knew that I was safe, at home, and loved. I knew he was true, honest, and forever. And that night is still remembered for both the commissioning, and the night which changed everything between us.

I'm grateful he was okay with how different we are. I'm grateful for the forgiveness he has granted over the years. I'm grateful for his patience as I stumble and fall. I'm grateful for the love we share which I would do anything for. I'm grateful for his encouragement and support. I'm grateful for his steadfastness and surety.

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I'm grateful for that night when I sat behind his father and thought when he looked in my direction that the direction he was looking in was me.

{This day trapped me. I saw it coming up on the calendar and wondered what to do. Mostly I wondered what I should write. I don't always acknowledge the holidays around here, but this time I decided I shall. Mostly because Natasha inspired me with her month long series. Yes! Month long. Go check it out for a little inspiration yourself.} 

February 13, 2013

Hallelujah

You sit there quietly. If you don’t say anything then no one will notice you. Your doubts flying. Your questions soaring. And they… they are all noticing their blessings.

How hard it is because you don’t want them to be in your situation. You want them to be happy and jubilant for all the things that have gone well in their week. You are happy for them, you are. But there is a little voice inside your head saying, “What about…. Me?”

Isaiah 49 15

It’s in this moment where you feel as if you don’t matter. Your prayers go unanswered and sometimes unnoticed. You have asked for others to pray, but it got lost in their “hallelujahs.” Trying to be positive you think maybe that’s the best way for them to get lost.

But you don’t want them lost. You want them seen. You want the prayers. You want the blessings, too. Why is it they get to “hallelujah” and you get to sit, quietly, so that no one notices.

Sometimes things don’t work out like we want. We’ve talked about that before. But when you are in the middle of waiting, looking in at the others celebrating, sometimes the easiest thing is to take a step further back towards the edge and sit quietly. I know.

But instead this is what I want you to do. Look around. There is someone else in your same situation. Reach out to them. Reach out to those celebrating and say, “Hallelujah” with them. Remind yourself if you are waiting for someone to reach out to you, then someone is waiting for you to reach out to them. Because none of us are alone, none of us are forgotten, and none of us are unimportant, but oh how it feels that way sometimes. And when we feel that way I can assure you no one wins.

Make your “hallelujah” be moving through the feelings. Make your “hallelujah” remembering that it will all work out in the end. Make your “hallelujah” be the fact you hold on tight to the truth God will never forget you. Make your “hallelujah” be loud and strong while you are on the edge, while you are waiting, while you reach out to someone else. Because the waiting is hard, but there is an end. Because we don’t always get what we want, but God is there. Because we don’t always feel him, but we can always know.

Hallelujah, my friend. Hallelujah.

February 12, 2013

A quiet life

I don't know how this blog represents me fully. One thing you may not know is that I have some days where I fall very quiet. You don't see them here because on the talkative days I can fill up days worth of talk. But lately I have found myself quiet.

Yesterday was a day such as that, and I can feel it spilling over into today. The words come when I'm not able to write, the silence weighs on me like a blanket over my shoulders, and I don't put out a lot through the day. I take a lot in. I watch, I listen, I think. Youngest worries that I'm sad, so we watch a Big Bang Theory episode so we can laugh together, and then all is well for his spirit.

quiet

And I should say, all is well with mine too. I'm not sad in these times, just quiet. Maybe a little distant. But I see the birds swooping by the window, and the clouds cover the blue skies ever so briefly, and the buds peek their heads up on the long stems of the winter trees. I guess I could call it my own hibernation, but it comes more than once a year.

I used to worry about my quiet times. I used to think something was wrong with me because I wasn't interacting, and I thought I was pulling away. Sometimes I pushed myself to be more out there. Sometimes I shamed myself into behaving differently. Sometimes others did it for me. The lack of understanding of who I was created a chaos. It looked like insecurity to some, and snobbery to others, and in all honesty it was simply some down time. Some time to refresh. Some time to look around and observe. I just didn't know how important that time was to me then, but I'm glad to have learned more.

Now I embrace these times and shake off the fear and worry. Now I breathe in deep and work to observe even more. Now I see through eyes that are okay with being quiet, realizing there is nothing wrong with me.

I have learned it's okay to lead a quiet life. It's okay not to always shout from the mountain top. It's okay to breath slowly and grow with intention. It's okay to accept who I am, and know I'm supposed to be different than others.

You may not see it much here at this blog where I seemingly never shut up, but I'm actually a quiet person at times.

February 8, 2013

I have been the girl...

I have been the girl who accepted whatever was told blindly because of the faith of others.
I have been the girl who questioned everything because of the actions of others.
I have been the girl who turned her hurt into anger and isolation.
I have been the girl who learned lessons the hard way.
I have been the girl who hurt others.
I have been the girl who made excuses.
I have been the girl who fell in the mud.
I have been the girl who drug others with her.
I have been the girl who denied denied denied.
I have been the girl who refused to be humbled.
I have been the girl who hated.
I have been the girl who quit.
I have been the girl who begged.
I have been the girl who lost her way.
I have been the girl who started searching for answers.
I have been the girl who took a hand up.
I have been the girl who turned her back.
I have been the girl who screwed up royally.
I have been the girl who held on to God when that was all she had.
I have been the girl who disappointed others.
I have been the girl who was oblivious.
I have been the girl who loved big.
I have been the girl who hurt.
I have been the girl who reached out.
I have been the girl who said enough is enough.
I have been the girl who blindsided those she loved.
I have been the girl who was full of pride.
I have been the girl who didn't understand.
I have been the girl who made it happen.
I have been the girl who ...................................

Fill in the blank.

Last month I talked about how I have begun to love learning and changing. I talked about how I have started learning how to accept who I was before I changed. I mentioned that I'm learning to respect who I was before. The before me. I don't know if respect is the right word. I think maybe I should have said love.

loveyourself

Does this sound weird? How can I love someone who has done the things I have done? How can you love someone like who you were? This is how. God loves us. And His love allows us to see us as we really were. I could come up with a thousand excuses for what I have done in the past, and they could possibly be legitimate. But it doesn't matter. The fact is the actions were taken, the deeds were done, the heart was hardened, the words were said and there is no going back to change it. But I can look back at the girl who did and know that she was trying her best, with what she had at her disposal, to be the best she could be.

Would I do things differently now? Isn't that the point of learning? Changing? But can we not be more merciful to who we were, because... honestly, we are still those girls from time to time now. We are still those people who hurt, cry, get mad, cheat, lie, steal... We are. Even though our actions have changed, that girl is still a part of who we are right now.

So, the answer isn't to simply give up and not care. The answer is to care more. To love more. The answer is to reach out more. To understand more. To be there. The answer... you have an answer, and I'm pretty sure if you looked into your heart, listened to the Holy Spirit, and let His love flow over you, you would know what your answer right now is. And I can about guarentee you it has nothing to do with blame, shame, excuses, or anger.

So, during this month of love which people are looking for cupid, do me a favor. Stop for a minute and change the way you see yourself. Look for you through the eyes of love. It's not blind, simply understanding.

I have been the girl that did all those things.
I was the girl that did all those things.
I am the girl that did all those things...
and I'm moving forward anyway.

Will you move forward with me? Then embrace love, kindness, gentleness, goodness, generosity, and all those traits you pour on others, and pour them on yourself. You will be amazed at the difference it creates within you, AND those around you.

February 6, 2013

Why you should increase your odds wherever you are.

Most people think nothing will ever happen where they will need to protect themselves. How often on the news does an interviewee after a crime say, "I never thought something like this would happen here." Before you will ever believe you need to learn to protect yourself, you need to believe there is a reason to do so.


February 5, 2013

Potato Sausage Soup

20130121_175604_Peri

I bought the ingredients not knowing what I would make with it. The sausage sat in my fridge, and the potatoes were in the pantry for half a week. And then the idea struck and I knew. The craving took hold and I looked forward to the cold day on the forecast so I could enjoy the soup that much more.

Potato Sausage Soup

1 lb mild sausage
2 small onions chopped
4 potatoes cubed
12 baby carrots sliced in half
1 box chicken stock
1 can Progresso Creamy Three Cheese Meal Starter
1 red pepper sliced

Brown sausage and saute onion. Place in pot and add cubed potatoes, sliced carrots, and stock. Cook until potatoes and carrots are softened. Add the Progresso Meal starter and the red pepper, along with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another half an hour on low heat, then serve.

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My friends, it was everything I had hoped for and I knew I wanted to share it with y'all and save it for myself to make again.

(I linked to the Progresso Meal Starter because it is a new product and I wanted to make sure you knew what I was talking about.)

February 4, 2013

Circumstances do not define

Your heart is aching, I know. You don’t quite understand why things are going the way they are. Did you do something wrong? Is this just the luck of the draw? Does it even matter to God what is going on? Sometimes the circumstances around us make us feel as if we don’t matter to God. As if we are unimportant.

We’ve all been there before in our life. If someone says they haven’t, don’t believe them. Struggles are common to us humans, and failure is a way to growth. Things don’t always turn out the way we think we should, no matter how hard we have worked.

And sometimes don’t we work incredibly hard for something? We pour our heart, life, and soul into doing our very best. We give more than we ever thought we would ever be able to give. And yet, things still crumble, things still don’t work out, things still fail.

Where is God in those times? Oh, my dear one, He is loving you. He is standing with you. He is having compassion for you.

I know it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, and this is when our feelings lie to us. That little voice crawls into our heads and says, “God controls it all. If he really loved you he wouldn’t let this happen. If you mattered to him wouldn’t he work things out like you want? If you were important enough things would be easier.” Lies. All manner of lies.

Isaiah 54 10

We were told we would have hardship. We were told tribulation would come. We live on this earth where the rain falls on the good and the bad. We are a part of the human race where our free will makes all sorts of things happen, much less what the free will of others does. And sometimes, inexplicably, things just don't work out. Those are not the definer of how much God loves you or if you are important to him. The truth is and always will be he loves you more than you can imagine. The truth is and always will be you are important to him.

I can’t tell you why things are happening the way they are. I can’t explain how God will work in your circumstances to bring you good. All I can tell you with all assurance is our God, the Holy One, the God of all compassion and the One who is Love…. You are important to him. Hold on to that truth right now. As you struggle. As you fight your way. Hold on to him, and let go of everything else.
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