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Thrive- Word for 2015

It’s been more than two years since I’ve posted anything.  Heck, I didn’t even know how to log in.  Lol.  But I figured it out. 🙂  I just haven’t felt like writing…nor did I feel empowered or impressed by God to do so until recently, that is.  I’ve been fighting with God about it.  I’m not going to lie.  It’s hard for me to write since my divorce.   Maybe I don’t feel worthy?  Maybe I fear people reading are just judging me and my every word trying to decide their views of me?  Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I even know what to write about?  Maybe it’s because I have felt numb?  But I feel called to push beyond it and I’m trying to be obedient to this prompting that I feel that it’s time to write again.  I’m writing as a gift to me.  It helps me to dance in the rain.  Hopefully along the way someone will be encouraged through me writing and seeking to dance in the rain of life, but mostly I know that I am writing for me because God satisfies my soul when I write.  He quenches my thirst and reveals secret mysteries to me as I write.  He opens my eyes to see clearly.  And I know that in writing again I will begin to thrive.

Thrive-1

My word for 2015 is Thrive.  I always pray about a word for the year and this is it.  What does it mean to thrive?  While I’m still learning, I know it is defined as to grow vigorously, to flourish, to prosper, to press toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.  I think of flowers and what they need to thrive.  We need the same...sunshine and living water.  But we must be positioned to receive those things or we will be weak…and eventually die.  I have to position myself to receive.

I’ve continued seeing my counselor over the years and through our various sessions I’m reminded that in order to be a healthy me and to thrive I have to protect time to fill my soul and I have to take care of myself.  As a single mom and owner of a business, that is sometimes hard to do.  I make excuses.  I feel stretched and tired.  BUT I am the keeper of my soul.  It is my responsibility to care for my heart, mind, and soul.  Through waves of depression, lots of change, being a single mom, running a business and sometimes working multiple jobs, I don’t feel like I have the energy to always do the extra for me.  I put the needs of Kylie and others around me first.  I do that sometimes to my own detriment.  But I’m learning through the years that caring for my soul and keeping it healthy is of utmost importance.  John Ortberg wrote a book called “The Soul Keeper” and my church is currently going through a sermon series influenced by this book.  It’s about our souls, how broken they are and how we need God to restore our souls.  It’s been incredible for me to remember that God wants to restore my broken soul BUT I have to position myself better to let Him do so.  I have to move closer to the living water…Jesus.  I have also been reminded that the condition of my soul determines the quality of my life.  So…I must re-prioritize.  I knew I needed to get back into community where iron sharpens iron in the context of loving and caring for other.  So…I joined a small group with my boyfriend.  I knew the first thing I need to do is connect with God in the morning before anything…so I read my “Jesus Calling” devotional and pray/soak in truth….and I’m hoping to push beyond that and start reading my bible more often.  I knew deep in my soul that I’ve been yearning to write again and that to overcome my fear meant just doing it…like Nike. 🙂  I know that a part of me is aching for exercise and free creative expression through painting and crafting.  So…I shall make time to do so this week or next.  All of these things fill my soul and breathe life into me yet I don’t always make time for them.

So…I shall venture to do these things again.  I vow to be a good keeper of my soul.  The only way to move beyond the fear, the apathy, and the crap of the past is to fully embrace today and do something.  I have a quote on my desk that says, ” The time for action is now.  It’s never too late to do something.”  So today I begin my journey of writing again.  Today I press on towards thriving.  Today I will choose to “fix my thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable…the things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Phillipians 4:8)  Today I cling to the truth that restoration happens every single day in the moments that lead me to connect with God.  Restoration of my soul and inner healing happens daily between me and God.

So God…let’s do this.  I’m letting you in.  Thank you for being faithful in pursuit of my heart and for not giving up on me even when I’m an angry child throwing a tantrum.  Help me to “guard my heart…for I know that everything I do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)  May my soul only be satisfied by you.  I am yours.

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Life & Death Are Messy

I’ve been sitting in a cloud- waves of emotions, thoughts, and feelings over the past couple weeks since my step-mom, Elsie, passed.  It’s not necessary for me to share them here, but I will say I’ve been so exhausted physically and emotionally.  I think when someone passes, you are forced to consider the good, the bad, and the ugly you’ve experienced together.  I find myself grieving some of what was and what wasn’t between Elsie and I…and then also what is and what isn’t with my family still.  Life is messy.  Relationships are messy.  Love is messy.  Death is messy.  Grief is messy.

The messiness of grief has become familiar over the past 3.5 years.  It seems to weave in and out of the space in our home constantly between RD, Kylie, and I.  I find myself walking upright and BAM, I fall down again with another wave of grief.  Or I get broadsided by RD or Kylie’s grief.   It just comes and goes.  I hear that’s just how it works.  The eb and flow is a natural part of grief.  Loss of any kind is hard.  We had multiple losses when RD’s accident hit.  We deal with those losses every day.  We’re so thankful we didn’t lose his life, but we still grieve the life we were living and RD’s ability to do many things.  We still haven’t quite fully settled into a new life yet.  I’m not sure if the grief will ever be gone forever, but I think we’ll continue to learn how to live above it and with it even more and more.  I also had loss growing up with my parent’s divorced and not having my Dad involved in my life as much as I would have liked.  The truth is that in this life there will be loss.  And that sucks.  But I know that in that space of loss, I can see beauty more fully…the colors around me become more vibrant…the depth of my heart expands…and my ability to see God is more clear.  Pain is a necessary evil of life that somehow God uses to create beauty and joy deep within us…if we let it.

The past 2 weeks I’ve been sad, exhausted, and unable to do much.  I am typically tired by my own daily struggles of trying to stay on the path and not be defeated by our own struggles.  I deal with grief daily.  So, it’s easy for additional struggles and grief to really wear me down even faster.  Any additional stress wipes me.  (This is why traveling is hard for me, too.  It’s extra and it’s a lot more work.)  This past week I was frustrated that my body was SOOO flippin’ tired, that my emotions were dragging me down, and that I couldn’t perform my typical role in my home.  I found myself on the couch and sleeping a lot and frustrated that I was doing so.  But then the holy spirit whispered into my spirit a gentle reminder.  Stop fighting how you feel.  Release yourself to be where you are at.  Let go of your expectations of yourself.  Be free.  And suddenly a gentle release took place.  I know that is how it works.  I must stop holding so tightly and let myself “be”.

Yesterday I opened my hands in church.  I released.  I let go.  I let God in.

I take a look at my husbands last blog entry (www.thesilt.wordpress.com) and in the aching of my soul, I consider truth.  The soul yearning will never be satisfied by mere man, by situations changing, or by anything of this world.  Only God can heal the places in my heart.  I feel distant from God.  Why?  Because I’ve stopped talking to Him.  I do that sort of thing when I’m angry and hurt by others in the world.  🙂 I close up.  I hide.  I put my barriers up.  And gently God finds a way to remind me of His love and draw me towards Him.  I’ve been on a trajectory of seeking gratitude and joy in all things for the past few years, but some how I can be so easily thwarted from that focus.  Lately my soul has been dark…empty…crying…yearning.  Torn inside from lies that have haunted me my whole life.

And so, I pick up my pen again for the first time in 2 weeks.  I write praises.  I meditate on God’s love for me…and how it is enough.  I stand up from under my umbrella and can see Jesus was actually standing above me with an even larger umbrella waiting for me to look up.  Suddenly, I can receive again.

I melt.  My anger melts.  My grief fades a little.  I let go.  I open my hands.  I can receive again.  His love is like balm over my wounded fragile heart.  Ahhhh.

Thank you, Jesus.  Forgive me for I know not what I do.  I stray.  I let the world bring me down.  Thank you that you are always there waiting for me to look up…waiting to lift me up so I can dance in the rain again.

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Beautiful gifts from this week:

1. “When we practice giving thanks, we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes.  We don’t have to change what we see.  Only the way we see.”- Ann Voskamp 

2. “Beautiful” by Mercy Me…a song sent to me by a sweet friend just when I needed it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C2o0jHNRuU

3. “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray…this is a song we shared with the girls at the youth retreat I led  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSIVjjY8Ou8&feature=related

4. RD and Kylie’s extra grace and constant love as I was on the couch a lot last week and then gone for several days the week before- my hubby has been a trooper!!!

5. Friends who have encouraged me this week by bringing meals, calling me, or sending me emails

6. Sunshine….lots of sunshine….yay!!

7. An opportunity to spend 3 hours on Saturday helping a total stranger who moved in the neighborhood…opportunities to be humbled

8. Kylie saying “I love you Mommy” randomly over and over again all the time every single day- God knows I need the reminder…and I’m so grateful for her sweet words

9. Going on a photography walk with Kylie looking for spring…enjoying holding hands, singing made up songs together, and looking for God’s beauty

10. A secret photography project I’ve been working on for my church…it got me out of my house this week, my camera in my hand, & forced me to be reminded of truth when all I wanted to do was sleep

11. For the sweet way RD and Kylie both rubbed my back at church while I was praying

12. Scripture shared by a friend…2 Corinthians 12:10

“Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.”

13. For breakthrough…that I can write again…that I can see again…that I can love and be loved again

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3 little words…

I have 3 little words that continue to flow out of my mouth and in my heart the past 2 days as I sat with my family hour upon hour watching my step-mom pass away.

——————

Life is fragile.

——————

Elsie left this world so suddenly.  A random brain aneurism occurred and less than 48 hours she was gone.  We never know what each minute holds.  Every moment we are given is a gift.  We forgot that so easily and quickly.  Today I am reminded that life is so precious.  We never know when our last moment will be.  Times like this remind us to strive towards living every day to the fullest.  I don’t know when my time will come.  Will I leave on a good note?  Will I leave knowing I did E.V.E.R.Y thing possible to love those around me well?  Will I let go of my selfishness and put others first?  Will I savor the moments…the days I’m given here on earth?

I hope so!  I will continue to live one day at a time trying to let myself be used by God for his glory in as many ways as possible.  I will cling to Him to guide me through the mud and muck of this world.  I will lean in so that reconciliation is possible and God’s love can grow deep inside the pain in my heart.  I will yearn to surrender every negative thought, feeling, and emotion to God over and over again every day.  I don’t want to waste my days focusing on the junk…I want to live- truly live- embracing the moments. The here.  The now.

Life is fragile.  Too fragile.  Let’s make every moment count so that when it’s our last we can leave knowing we danced a good dance…even in the rain that life throws at us.

 

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I BELIEVE In You

I Believe in You

You have a strong

beautiful spirit

within you

that is capable

of taking you

as far and as high

as you want to go.

I have seen many

of your strengths,

I appreciate your

widsom, courage, wit

and loving nature.

I know there are

great things out there

for you and it’s

within your power

to make them happen.

I believe in you

and know you have

what it takes to

follow your dream.

Let that strong

beautiful spirit

of yours,

be your guide.

-Larry S. Chengges

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I LOVE Lent!!!

Lent is here…my most favorite time of the year!  Why?  Probably because it’s when I’m the most intentional and because of that, I see God move and speak.  I anticipate His goodness.  I cling.  I yearn to be touched…forever changed.  I yearn for revelation.  I yearn for a new way in a new year.

To me, Lent is a time to…

-recenter

-refocus

-repent

-forgive

-invite

-praise

-let go

-reprioritize

-receive

-redefine

-surrender

-awaken

-abide

-wrestle

-rest

-be

 

During Lent I always fast something, sometimes restrict things, and add in a few things to deepen my walk and position my heart and mind to receive from my Heavenly Father.  Lent is a sacred time of the year for me.  I wish it was never-ending.  I wish I could passionately seek God in this way every day, but I know that seasons take place for a reason.  The eb and flow of this journey has purpose and is designed by God with intentionality.  Spring brings new life, physically and spiritually, after a death in the winter.  I’m so thankful to see new life already and Lent has only just begun!  I’ll write more about the direction God is leading me with Lent some time next week.  I am preparing to lead a Youth Retreat tomorrow for girls at my church.  It’s been a labor of love for the past 6 months.  I’ve had no time to really write on here, but I couldn’t let this week come to an end without leaning into Lent and pondering the beauty of the Easter season.

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I’ve started a new way of journaling this week inspired by my photography instructor, Brooke Snow, from the photography class I’ve been taking.  It’s an activity called “Morning Pages” that is introduced in “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  I tend to journal a lot of prayers and heart cries to God usually.  This form of journaling is different.  It’s a freeing of your mind and the randomness that occupies space.  The idea is that you write for 10 minutes straight allowing any and every thought to come out on paper.  It’s been interesting for me and a bit freeing actually.  I find myself intertwining prayer with it naturally.  I start my days with it…and then I try to read my bible for a little bit, too.

 

Anyways, as I was writing my morning pages today I felt a nudge to hop on the computer and share what God revealed to me.  I was writing and suddenly had a vision.  A vision of RD and I being under the same umbrella…taking refuge together under God’s umbrella.  (That is the best way for me to sum up the miraculous events that have taken place this week.)  Then I had a vision of what we’ve been like for 3.5 years now…each of us holding our own umbrellas and every time we get close our umbrellas clash.  We get jolted and then fall away from each other again.  Sometimes a corner of the umbrella pokes us in the face and it hurts.  Sometimes we’ve used our umbrellas as shields from each other.  When one person is coming in, the other holds their umbrella out in front so we can’t get close.  Sadly enough.  This is true.  We are both STILL trying to find our way through the ashes of the fire from August of 2008.  Sigh.  Life is messy.  And it hurts.

I LOVE this image. It makes my soul sigh.

BUT God has moved in miraculous ways.  I haven’t known how to share with many people the happenings of this week.  The image above sums it up beautifully.  Maybe I should stop here. 🙂

Nah, I almost can’t help but to share God’s goodness with you.  I hear the song in my head…”hide it under a bushel, NO!  I’m gonna let it shine!” Ha!:)  I want to share of God’s goodness in the midst of pain and suffering.  Out of respect to my hubby and the individual xperiences he’s had this week, I’m going to keep this intentionally a bit vague.  But here’s what I will say…God has moved in tangible ways this past week…and mightily on Valentine’s Day…the day of love.

We have both been hurting deeply for the past several months.  Who am I kidding…the past several YEARS!!!  The best way to describe it is that we’ve been at our wit’s end lately.  Done.  Sick of the struggle.  Tired of fighting for life and still feeling like we are in the desert.  Tired of strife.

This week, God tangibly gave us drinks of living water…not once, not twice, but multiple times.  And one time…it was a HUGE GINORMOUS gulp.  Ahhhh!  It was sooooooooooooooo refreshing and needed for our weary souls.  Some of the events that happened this week were TOTALLY 100% God.  How do I know?  Well, two of them happened when my anger and frustration were at a very high point.  I found myself being called to pray with RD and drawing close to him…it was more like a compulsion.  I had no forethought of doing it.  It always followed intense emotion in which would typically draw us further away from each other.  As it was happening I could tangibly see it was not coming from me.  I felt amazed afterwards and thought, “Huh?  What just happened?  I can’t believe that just happened.”  That’s how I knew it was God and not me! 🙂

And for the big gulp of water…RD was awakened on Valentine’s Day at 4 something in the morning. He had an amazing time of prayer.  He specifically asked for signs and for certain things to happen and all I can say is the spirit moved.  He prayed I would wake up.  I started to stir and woke up.  We had an intense time of prayer together…and suddenly a cloud was lifted.  There has been a thick cloud we have not been able to get off our home and marriage since the accident.  We keep trying and inviting God into it, but it’s still been there all the while.

VERY much like Job in the bible.

God clearly overwhelmed us with is love and grace this Valentine’s Day.  We are still in awe of the tangible ways he’s moving.  I’ve been pondering about why now.  What I’ve come to is maybe we both had to stop trying out of our own will, strength, and power in order for God to show us Himself…His love…His power.  Otherwise, we might have thought it was because of us.  We cannot deny this time that God has moved mightily.  There is positive forward movement taking place…a shift in our hearts…a space of love and grace between us…an openness to heed God’s spirit…a desire for more of God’s redemption and love…a longing to receive it together.

Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you for compelling me to do things when I want to give up.  Thank you for revealing to us the power and majesty of your Holy Spirit.  I continue to be in awe.  I am speechless and unable to express fully the gift you’ve given to us…and I’m ok with that.  It was a beautiful gift for us and us alone.  It is a gift I treasure.  But you know, God, I fear this gift is only temporary.  Remove those fears.  Help me to trust in you.  Help me to believe in your miraculous ways and see them bloom before my eyes.  Help me continue to embrace the leading of your spirit…and to love my husband in the ways he needs loved each day.  Help us to take refuge in you under the same umbrella and to cling to it together.  May the clashing of our umbrellas be done.  This is my heart’s cry.  This is RD’s heart’s cry.  As we both deal with the pain in our hearts in different ways, please continue to knit our hearts together so that we can have safety in you and cling to you…together.  May we learn to dance together in the rain.

In light of our recent Disney trip...this makes me smile. 🙂

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I’m convinced as of late that doing the right thing is flippin’ hard.  Always.  To do what is best takes sacrifice.  It takes courage.  It is generally a bit exhausting, but the fruit of it is usually sweeter than having not done it.  My daughter is currently in a 30 minute time out writing sentences because of her tone and attitude when she speaks.  It’s become a major problem lately.  I’m 2 steps away from putting something in her mouth but I’m trying to tackle this problem without having to sit on her and force feed some nasty tasting apple cider vinegar.  🙂  She is currently grounded from tv for the day.  She has been in time outs which keep getting longer in length by 10 mins.  I am exhausted.  Her next occurrence today will involve her losing her bunny, a 40 minute time out, and sentence writing.  Yep.  Pulling out the big guns…taking away bunny.  She said, “Well, I guess I don’t want to do that again.” 🙂

BUT I’m convinced that doing what is best is always met with adversity.

Two weeks ago we had to deal with lying.  After a week long of continual lies, I caught her in another lie about having brushed her teeth.  We were on our way to a good friend’s birthday party.  After a few offenses already that week and having not learned her lesson, she got grounded from everything electronic for 3 days and had to miss the birthday party. She has not lied to us since that day.  She had to go into the party, give the gift to her friend, and leave.  She left crying, but she learned her lesson and has not lied since.

Last year I remember her throwing fits about having to help carry her things into the house from the car.  She went in time out and had to try again without whining or complaining.  She whined, so she went back to time out.  We did this “dance” 3 times.  Now, she rarely whines or complains when asked to carry things from the car.

I’ve been thinking lately that every relationship I’m in is costly.  It costs something of me to be a good wife, a good mom, and a good friend.  Doing what is best doesn’t mean doing what is easy.  It means caring enough to not let negative behaviors continue…to not sit back and allow for continual patterns of sin.

The girls who are my best friends don’t just let me sit in my crap.  They don’t just watch me from the sideline as I cry.  They encourage me to propel forward and to not accept the easy route.  They speak hard words when I need to hear them.  They speak truth even when it hurts and they refine me.  They don’t let me stay in a pit.  They throw a hand to me and help pull me out with their love and care.  They don’t give up on me.

I think this is the same for every healthy relationship.  This is how God has designed us to operate with each other.  We are not to give up doing what is right and best for someone we love just because it’s hard…or because there is resistance to it.  My daughter will always resist me teaching her the way she should go.  People usually do. It’s our human instinct to lean towards self preservation.  But God reminds us to humble ourselves and to let people close enough that it might hurt.  If we don’t have relationships where we interact on both levels of joy and pain, we are not positioning ourselves to grow.  We are not doing good for them or for ourselves.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want friends that are friends only when it’s easy.  I want friends who will ride the tides with me, who will challenge me to see things when I can’t see them clearly, who will still be my friend even when we disagree, and who will love me enough to stand by me through good and bad.

Relationships are costly.  Relationships built on love should challenge us and cause us to grow beyond where we are today.  It’s easy to “accept” someone for who they are, their struggles, and their weaknesses.  Sometimes we even convince ourselves that that is the godly way to respond.  It’s not always what is best.  It’s not always what God desire of us.  Yes, we are to always love people despite their weaknesses, but we are intended to sharpen each other and to invite each other to freedom and abundant life.  We are not to sit back in our own corners because it’s easier.  Sometimes it means we have to fight for freedom for each other.  Sometimes it means speaking the truth in love even when it hurts.

God, thank you for continuing to help me not settle for mediocre.  Thank you for giving me the strength to persevere.  Thank you for calling me to live a life of authenticity and encouraging others to the same.  Thank you for the reminder that doing the right thing is typically not easy, but it is what is best…and it is worth it.  Thank you for the courage to press on into difficulty when I want to give up.  You are gracious and good.

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