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Of Living…

One if the bravest acts is to live. To choose to exist beyond merely breathing can be terrifying to even consider.

If one thinks long enough, they see that choice means to willingly go into other worlds, entering into another brave soul’s existence knowing that there will be pain one day. Maybe it will be a tearing away by words or death, but one thing is certain that the heart will be wounded. Loving creates these beautiful connections on earth, that hurt when one is pulled so far away.

Depression is one of the Dark Ones. It creeps in ever so slowly, sometimes holding hands with it’s other family members, Anxiety and Fear. Whispering so quietly that it matches the sound of thought, saying that no one cares and that the pain will be too great to bear. Distracted by holding the weight of it, Fear is able to tie the heart off until it’s numb so we cannot fight the walls Depression and Anxiety build. All that’s left is a lie: that we are alone and others are not worth the
risk of hurting again. Empty and merely a breath, time passes by until the end.

One day, a new voice faintly rises above the sounds. This one different, like a splash of color, like light in a dark world. One that has been there all along, whispering Love.

Love cuts the thread around the heart and each heartbeat cracks the wall more. Love creates these vessels that connect to other’s hearts, preventing the Dark Ones from rebuilding. Those connections bring life and joy, while strengthening the heart to stand against the pain that will come one day.

All of this from one courageous moment when the choice is made
to step out and be fully alive and to believe the truth that you are more than a breath.

New Year…Still Trusting

This New Year is already shaping up to be very different than I had thought it would be! (And that is not really a bad thing!) A few short weeks ago, I brought in the New Year with some awesome friends, staying up way later than I have in a long time. I knew in my spirit that things would be different for me this year, a strong sense of expectation filled me…knowing God was doing something (I know, He is always doing something!) A day or so later, I got a very unexpected, yet welcomed message from someone I have known for quite a while.

So here I sit, now “officially” in a relationship (cue friendly joking comments about my “official” relationship). But this post is not about all the details or gushing about him, or bragging about my new relationship status.  It’s about what God can do when you step back and trust Him to work things in His time.

This all did not happen because I planned it or he planned it. I know that in my own life I had so much to work through in these past few years. I had to learn to trust what God was doing, especially when it came to relationships. Had he decided to ask me out when we had first met, or even last year, I am not sure what I would have said. I was in such a different place in my life and Lord knows I would have screwed up somehow because I hadn’t dealt with a lot of my junk.

There were plenty of times over the past couple of years where I questioned what God was doing and what I should be doing. I also didn’t have the right motives for being in a relationship. But time and time again He lay on my heart things that would not leave me alone: I knew I was not to manipulate to get into a relationship, it would be someone I was friends with first and served with, and someone who would take my standards seriously. No matter how I tried, God kept reminding me to keep trusting Him and serving Him and He would handle the rest.

Now, even in this early part of our relationship, there is peace and trust that God is writing this story. Things are just different, and it’s been absolutely awesome so far. My biggest struggles remain in my mind…like the struggle of what God says about me and what I say about myself. Given what I been through in my life, I do also struggle with fears that creep up. I keep holding on to God’s steadfast love, trusting in Him thought all of this. I know that wherever this may lead, it’s all in His hands.

Know that you can trust God in everything, including relationships. Trust that He does have your best interest at heart. Be honest with God, sometimes you have to yell and scream, and He is ok with that! Be patient knowing He will do a far better job than forcing or manipulating your way into a relationship. Focus on working on your own heart issues, building friendships and serving and loving God.  There will be plenty of times where it will be difficult, but in the end, no matter where He leads, it will all be worth it!

2014: Abide

This year we were challenged at church to pray for a word to concentrate on this year. After some thought and prayer, I believe my word is “abide”. It’s also one of my fave 2 words in the bible! (right after the word “steadfast”) There are several definitions of abide, but the meanings that I will be concentrating is this : to remain, to continue, to stay, to dwell.

I know that one of my weaknesses is remaining with Christ even when things are going well. It seems like I cling to God during those bad times with no problem but if things are ok I have a bad tendency to put God on the back burner while I do what I want. Then it cycles into things going not so great (probably because God was not my focus before they got bad!). I end up having a crazy roller coaster spiritual relationship, and get so worn down. This year I want to remain with God more, make Him a constant focus during good and bad times.

Here are the verses that I will hold on to this year:

John 15:4-11

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that ears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Of Conspiracy…(a writing)

Conspire with me.
Show me your heart and all that lies within.
Let’s see how much good we can do!
In the quiet…scheming.
Creating beauty through secret acts between us and God.
Extravagant gifts and over-the-top acts of service…
The day’s end filled with whispers of joy and adventure.
Praising and thanking Him for allowing us to be some small part.

Of Love and a Calling

There are few things as moving as witnessing some one show genuine love for others. Big hugs, and sturdy greetings with sincere eye contact. The receiver wears an expression showing how much it means to them to be loved as they are.

In my adventures this weekend, I was blessed to witness such an exchange and it was beautiful. I spent the evening observing and processing, while inwardly scolding myself for being such a goof when introduced to quite a few people that I did not know. Nothing quite like standing there awkwardly after giving my name, while the others are standing there waiting for some polite conversation to occur. This was one of those times where I wished I had a t-shirt or memorized phrase to spout off something to the effect of: please excuse any weird behavior. I am an introvert trying to cope with a new situation and/or human interaction.

Lately God has been bringing back to my heart the desire to love people, build relationships, and serve them in whatever way possible. I am not talking about the pretty, everything is perfect type stuff. I am talking about the beautiful, messy, walking with imperfect people toward a perfect God journey. I am talking about Mother Teresa in the slums of India loving lepers and helping people die with dignity, and Shane Claiborne becoming “family” with the people in a not-so-pretty neighborhood in Philly.

Honestly, I don’t know where He wants me to go with this or what He wants me to do from here. It scares me a bit, like the anxiety of going up the sharp incline of a roller coaster. I don’t even know how to go about it when I struggle to interact with people. I don’t know if it will be something I will just discover and do one day, or whether I will be a part of a team that could help me in the areas I am weak in. Sometimes it can be so terrifyingly exciting thinking about it! I am thankful that He is the one orchestrating it, because I have no clue how its all going to happen.

All I know is this I want to serve God. I want to serve others. I want to love people, not just say it. Family is my main core value and I want others to feel the sense of family, especially those who don’t quite fit in. If I could do anything with my life, I would serve others full time, whether it be local mission work, helping local churches or smaller non-profits. When I think about all those things, it makes me both happy to know where my heart is, but sad I am not there yet. I am in a place where I don’t know where that fits into my current life, especially as a single mom of 3 kids. There are times I feel so discouraged because it feels impossible, yet I feel excited to have a goal to attain even if I have no clue how I will get to it or what it will look like.

So for now I keep praying, hoping, and learning as I go. I know God has this all mapped out, and will guide my steps. It gives me a peace know that its ok to go through all these thoughts and feel overwhelmed and excited all at the same time. My prayer is that in the end, it will be yet another small chapter in the big story of God big love for us.

 

 

 

 

Truth and Denial

It turns out I have been running away, I didn’t even realize it.

I have spent the last few years on a journey with God to heal and grow. I spent much of that time hurting over the circumstances that forced me to change. To be honest, even recently, anger would rise up every time I see or hear my ex and his fiance. As much as I claimed to be in the process of forgiveness and acknowledged how things are so much better now, I felt  the twinge of hate and bitterness towards them for what happened. Everyone tells me how much I deserve to feel this way, and that it’s all ok. I would nod along in agreement, allowing those feelings to continue to grow. I would say how I prayed that they would both just love God, and grow closer to Him…all while I secretly hoped they would be cursed for what they did. The whisper I heard in my spirit…”You hypocrite!”

I have spent many nights crying to God (and there have been a few moments where I screamed it out).

“WHY!!!??!?!?!”

“I didn’t deserve this! I didn’t choose this!”

“It’s not fair! They get to have each other, and here I am…alone… Yet again! Its not right!”

Of course, in real life, there were far more words and tons more weeping, but you get the picture. During the day, I would pretend everything was great, all was forgiven and that loneliness didn’t exist, because that is what “good” Christians do.

It’s been quite some time since I have had a night like that. This year I finally had started feeling at peace over where I was at in all of this, diving into working, serving and such. Much of my anger was diminishing, and as much as possible (since we have child) , I kept an “I don’t care” attitude about my ex and his life. I was feeling relief, thinking that I had finally made it to the point where I had an acceptable amount of forgiveness, all things considered.

Apparently God had something else He wanted me to work through. Denial.  My reaction: Wha?! (looking around at the imaginary person behind me) What do you mean “denial”? Seriously?!

Denial about my singleness. Denial about being a single parent. Denial about this part of my life. It’s not like I was pretending to be “taken” or that I was still married. God pointed out I was avoiding associating with anything that could label me as such. Earlier this year, I (VERY reluctantly) went to a single moms event . I loved the ladies from our church, but felt ashamed of my circumstance. I tried to find Lifegroups that were a mix of everyone (single, married, young, old, etc) to avoid anything remotely “single” or “divorced”. I didn’t want to accept it, probably out of the “It’s not fair” thinking. Heck, even on Facebook, I refused to put “single” or any status! I didn’t choose it, so I didn’t have to accept it. (God reminds me that’s a victim mentality…) Then my mind goes into thought-process-geek-out-mode: tied to all of that is a fear that stepping into a relationship would then validate my former status as single which should have never happened because it wasn’t my fault. (deep breath)  o_O

Ok. God, I get it. I have to accept my singleness and my past. I have to quit playing the victim. If I ever want a healthy relationship I HAVE to accept, let God heal me and give me COMPLETE peace. Its all part of living in truth…self truth, the kind He reveals to help us grow. In that truth, I am able to go a little further in forgiving others and myself. Thank God, He loves us too much to let us remain the same… (and I will be changing my status to reflect my acceptance, not that I am actively “looking”! LOL 😉 )

 

 

Introspection

Since my last blog post, I have been trying to emotionally recover from pulling out of school. I decided to go ahead and take some time off serving at church so I could regroup and figure out where to go from here.  While at peace with the decision, it was easy for me to feel lost with no clear idea of what my next step should be. Work was proving to be difficult too, as summer is totally different than the school year in my department at work. By the end of the first session, I was feeling a bit smothered by people in general, overwhelmed, and confused. I was pretty excited that things worked out where I was able to get a paid “vacation” after only being there 4 ½ months. I seriously needed the reset time.

I decided to spend part of it with my kids, and the other part concentrating on me. It’s difficult as a mom to do that because we tend to feel guilty or selfish, but I knew I had to do it. Deciding to take the kids to the library proved fruitful for me, as I found a book called Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe. I was just going to get fiction books at the time, but I figured I might as well read to help improve my understanding of myself.  I read that book and it had some great information. I had a little issue with the style of writing, not that it was bad, it was just not what I personally liked (still a good read overall). Then I set out on a journey to a couple of book stores (oh my goodness…how I LOVE bookstores!!!) and found the next books, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath and Quiet by Susan Cain. I read Strengths Finder pretty quick and took the test, and found it very helpful in learning more about me. I am still working my way through Quiet, which I LOVE so far (definitely something to look into if you are an introvert).

So in all this reading and time off I have finally been able to deeply process stuff, which I haven’t had the time to do since starting my new job. There is so much I am learning about myself and being an introvert. I can’t begin to tell you the relief it is to finally understand that I am “normal” (whatever that means! LOL) and there is nothing wrong with me!

I have spent most of my life, and even in recent years, feeling like I was “broken”.  There was strong pressure even at a very young age to talk to people and interact with people. I have a faded memory of when I was in about 2nd grade, and hearing a discussion about me needing to be in a speech or some other special class because I wasn’t talking much. I was a very intelligent child, teacher’s pet-type, but I hated talking in class and only had a couple of friends. That’s pretty much how I was through school, except add in a little weird to the mix by high school. Much to my mom’s dismay ( love ya, Momma 🙂  ) that meant dressing in a lot of baggy clothes, black, Converse, combat boots and lots of grunge rock…oh and don’t forget the strong desire to have purple hair (which sadly never happened….one day it will….even if I have to wait to be one of those crazy old ladies with too much of the “bluing” stuff in her gray hair lol)

In my adult years I have struggled so much with my social awkwardness. I always held this strong feeling of discontent about that part of my life.  In one of my relationships, I was accused of a lot of things (that looking back were actually tied into being a depressed introvert. I can’t really explain it here without coming across as bashing the other person or revealing details I would rather not discuss at the moment) and highly pressured to be more extroverted. After my battle with depression was over, I had other things to work through, like actually figuring out who I am!

 It was a difficult trying to figure out why I struggled in that area so much, but when I was reading Introvert Power, I read a section where it talked about shyness being different that being introverted, and that the 2 often overlap! It was one of those things I knew, but could never put in words. There has been a shift in me internally over the past year and a half or so. A kind of growing out of the shyness and growing into my introverted-ness.  God has been helping me in overcoming my fears (which intensified my shyness and awkwardness), and in embracing how He created me.  I love how He is using books to help show me that being an introvert has great strength in it, especially when fear and anxiety are removed from it. I am learning so much, and there is a freedom in knowing that I am not “broken”, I don’t need to be “fixed”.

It is also helping me be a better parent, as I can recognize my children’s introverted traits, and encourage them. At the same time I have to be careful with one who is more extroverted so I don’t try to “fix” her. I have to remind myself that even though I may need my down time, she needs her time with her friends to feel charged. I am also learning that she may not be as extroverted as I once believed! Every day, I am seeing that she could very well just be a healthier introvert that I was at her age 🙂

Overall, I feel like all this learning has been a relief! Between all this mentioned and some other things I have learned about my personality , spiritual gifts and insights from various friends in my life, I am seeing myself in a way I hadn’t before.  So much of who I am had been tied up in who I was hanging around, what I thought would please those whom I loved or masked by depression… it was no wonder that I didn’t know who I was! God has been faithful to answer my prayers for help in this part of my journey, and I know there is so much more He will help me with as I go along. There is peace that comes from finding the missing pieces or in my case discovering the pieces that were hidden underneath. I can’t wait to see where He leads me to next!