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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Today was the day I took a journey I had wanted to do for years. Various things came up and life happened, and it took so much longer than I wanted. I remember bringing it up off and on to people in my life, and several could not understand why. What can I say to explain? It’s just something deep in my spirit I knew I needed to do.

Early Friday morning, God told me it needed to be this weekend, specifically Saturday morning. All I could do was agree, knowing it was for the best. I had wanted my best friend there, but she was unable to make it. God let me know I HAD to do this, even if it meant I go alone. Then I watched an insane storm form over the Oklahoma City metro (tornadoes and up to 10 inches of rain in 24 hrs), and wondered if I would be able to even make it through the area I needed to go. He gave me peace, I knew we would make it through the storm and had faith that the route I had to drive would be clear. I went to bed, wondering what the morning would bring.

I slept in this morning, giving time for the flood waters to clear from the rain. The sun shining seemed to be God’s blessing on it all, and doing a quick check online revealed that way I needed to go would be ok to drive. So off I went, with Josh Garrels playing in the background…I can hardly find a more appropriate soundtrack to help me heal. The drive was quick, until I hit Moore. People slowed on the interstate to see the devastation the tornado had left. A bit of anger rose up, while driving 10 mph. Here was an area, that people lost everything, and people are almost at a standstill staring. It’s just not right and it slows down those who are trying to get through to actually help. (but that is a whole different topic)

My journey continues, and I am amazed by the changes Norman has had since my teenage years. Then I come up on Noble, where things have not really changed that much. I drive through the small town, until I reach the cemetery. Turning I take a deep breath, noting a funeral happening and another green tent awaiting its ceremony.  I struggle to remember where the grave I am looking for is, fearing it’s too close to the funeral in session.  My grief was so great on the 2 other times I was there, I couldn’t remember. I pull off to a far corner, and walk near the only thing I remember from all those years ago, a flagpole. I walk, uncertain of where I should walk, as graves seem too sacred to walk across. Whispering a prayer, I just keep walking, and looking down I nearly trip over the very grave I was looking for.

Looking down, I see it, and I freeze. I close my eyes and tears flow, even after nearly 9 years, they still flow. I pray, things between me and him and God. Making peace with my past, a whisper of forgiveness on the breeze for all the abuse I had suffered at the hands of mental illness. I breathe a deep breath, eyes still closed, and am startled by the sounds of “Taps” playing at the funeral ending, and then the chirps of the police car escorting mourners to the other tent. It all seemed strangely poetic for this moment.

Few people understand why I would do this. That is ok, they don’t have to understand. This is my life and my grieving process…and when God tells me to do something, I do it. I have worked through so much these years, and I knew I had to do this for my healing. In my heart, I feel that this may be my last journey to his grave. I am fine with that, because today I received a gift from him and my heavenly Father. A gift of freedom.

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“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?”

In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.

“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”

“To plant seeds in–to make things grow–to see them come alive,” Mary faltered – from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

So many times this quote comes to mind when working in my garden.  There is just something about clearing out things and the organic smell of freshly turned ground…Then nurturing living things to grow into all their beautiful potential.

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I know from this picture it may not look like much of anything to most people. About a month ago it was completely full of grass. In fact I had to mow it or use the weed eater on it! A few years ago I had it cleared it and looking pretty great, but I had pretty much given up on it when I was going through my separation and divorce.  I felt so hurt and broken that I could care less about such a chore. I didn’t really care about much of anything since my world was crumbling around me. I gave up on gardening, letting the weeds and grass take over, as if it were a representation of what had happened to my life. Then God healed my heart and my mind, but I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with work, taking care of my kids, physical pain and life in general.

I don’t know exactly what changed in me this spring. Maybe it was looking at that garden, seeing my own reflection. I saw in that bit of earth potential for life…and set it on my heart to make it into something that will bring some joy every time I look at it. Working the ground, I hear God talking to me, giving me glimpses of how He works with us.  He looks at all our weeds and digs down to get them out by the roots. Sometimes it may hurt, like when the weeds are choking the good plants out and He pulls the weeds anyway. He has the vision of the finished garden in mind as He works and plants to create something full of beautiful life.

I see what He has done in my own life, everyday it’s growing into something more beautiful than I ever dreamt it could be.  Just like the picture is only a fraction of my actual garden space in real life (I have a whole other section in the front and a HUGE area in the back), I know what God has done is only a tiny bit of what He will continue to do.

So I work, slowly clearing out the grass, smiling to myself with each earthworm discovered and each root taken out…knowing I will hurt a little more in the morning. I keep focusing on the bigger picture, dreaming of 2 particular gardens I want to create…one full of all sorts of edible things and one full of old fashioned floral memories…using the time working towards the dreams, to grow closer to my heavenly Father. The more I work, the more I realize that this is quickly becoming to my soul what writing has been for so much of my life.

I think again about the quote at the beginning of this post. I imagine that maybe my spirit must have asked Him something similar when He created me. “Father, might I go down there and tend to a bit of earth? Might I somehow experience life down there?” I don’t know what He might have said, but I like to think that He gave me permission, and warned me of the pains I would experience in human life, but with those pains would come a growth spiritually that would prepare me for my eventual return home and a greater appreciation of His power and glory. I would accept the challenge, wanting to see all the beauty that life has to offer and to know the Father even more.

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Part of dreaming seems to be the fears that follow. The enemy does everything he can to convince us to give up or that we must be hearing something wrong. He will use any tactic, based in lies, to distract you from what God is trying to do in you.

In the past few days I have found myself becoming increasingly more distracted. One by one, the distractions came until stresses and fears were swirling around in my head. I have been frustrated and discouraged by the physical pain I am in daily. I have been so exhausted since I have started this new job. I love it, but it can be draining because of the nature of the work. I come home and realize how much needs to be done around the house, then if I have forgotten to throw something in the crockpot I have to figure out dinner (or whether I even have the energy to mess with it). Then add to that raising 3 kids on my own, 2 of which are teens. I think about how tired I am now, and I wonder how I will ever make it through college…I mean, come on! I come home from work by about 4:45pm and all I think about is how early can I make it to bed! Then come the strings of discontentment: “I wish…” ,”If only…”,”It’s not fair that…” By the end of the day, I want to cry…yet I don’t even have the energy to do that. I fall asleep whispering prayers to God and feel bad about it.

Today, I was thinking on all of that while at work. Then I (well, with plenty of help from God!) realized I do have a choice in these matters. I don’t have to listen to these thoughts, I can choose to redirect my thoughts back on Christ. I can focus on the blessings of each situation: I have a job that I love, I could be in so much more pain, I have the opportunity to go back to school, I have 3 beautiful and awesome kids that God sent to change my life, and I have a home and bed for resting. I can remember all the awesome things God has done for me, my friends and family, and KNOW without a doubt that He WILL come through. I can choose to keep trusting and keep believing through all of this….because without Him, I would not even be here today.

There also have been fears creeping up and I hadn’t really noticed until recently…or maybe I just tolerated them as “part of me”. I am choosing to become more aware of them, and letting God help me fight them. Fear was another one of those things that triggered my depression when I was child…needless to say I am NOT going down that path! I don’t have to live with these fears: of rejection, of regret, of failure, and of letting go of control. I find myself desiring to give God my everything, but I have no idea why on earth I am afraid of what will happen! I mean God loves me, and would never hurt me…even logically it doesn’t make sense. My prayer is God will help me root out whatever is holding me back…ultimately I want nothing to hold me back from my Father, I want to grow closer to Him, I want to know Him.

I am so glad He is patient with me…He won’t leave me alone…He won’t let me stay the same. He loves me too much to let me remain in all my fear and weakness. And for that, I am thankful.

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Its been an amazing few weeks! I made it through an emotional last 2 weeks working with my babies, and started a new job last week working with teens with various disabilities (specifically teaching them vocational skills). So I have been busy trying to learn everything I need to know to do my job 🙂 Everyday I grow to love my job even more knowing that God is using me make a difference in their lives.

There have been at least a few areas of my life that I feel like I have been challenged this week. The most immediate one being trying to build a new daily routine, especially with food. (and being sick this week has not helped! lol), I find myself so wore out by the end of the day, I don’t even want to think about food, but I really have to push myself so I won’t fall back into old habits. I am so close to the 50lbs lost mark, I can’t give up now! 🙂

The other area that has proved to be a challenge for me is “real world” exposure. Now, I am not saying that I have been totally sheltered my whole entire life or anything. I stayed home with my kids for 5 years or so, worked at Walmart a month, then got the job at LC. If I did anything social (which was pretty rare in the 5 yrs I stayed home) it was church related. Most of the time, depression ruled so that meant staying home and away from any interaction with others. Honestly, the last time I was in “real world” work, it scared me because I was still pretty immature in my faith and found myself backsliding . I know I am a lot older and wiser than I was , but it doesn’t stop that fear from creeping up. Here I am working with people of various backgrounds, religions, etc. Some may not have healthy families or some may be from bad neighborhoods. Some of the music, honestly I couldn’t tell you who is singing (lets just say its been probably a decade since I have listened to regular radio stations!)

From all the growth I have experienced over the past few years, God has been trying to prepare me for situations like this. I have to be around people outside my comfort zone and start building relationships with them if I really want to show Christ’s love. I can’t just sit around talking about how great it would be to do it, I have to get out there. If my story is supposed to help others, then they need to hear it, not just my Christian friends.

I know that I can’t stay in my “bubble” forever. A few of years ago, I couldn’t see myself ever doing this type of work, or much of anything for that matter. Depression had me bound and blindfolded. Even as scary as real life seems, I am so thankful that God has brought me to this place in my life. I had thought at the beginning of all this change that I would never get through all this “learning to feel again” stuff. I didn’t think that my dreams that I had in high school of being a special ed teacher would have ever survived…now here I am learning to do something that is in a closely related field! God is good! I never would have thought I would be right here, right now. Once again, He has left me amazed 🙂

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This week was the much anticipated kick-off of the new series, Time Travelers, in Toon Town . The whole series is about media and how it can affect us and what the Bible has to say about it. It was so awesome to see the kids so pumped about it, and personally most of us serving were excited too.

One of the things that amazed me was how much the kids had to say about media.  I served in 4 services and most of the small groups I lead had so much to say. The one that wasn’t as talkative (well at least in answering specific questions) still had some interesting input.  One of the things I learned was that I probably need to research tv shows more, because I had NO clue what some of the shows were! (mainly because we do not have cable or even basic channels at home.)

I have been thinking on what all I observed while serving yesterday. Several of the kids knew some of the stuff that they were exposed to was not good for them (whether it was super scary, violent, sexually inappropriate, bad language, etc). It came down to what the adults happened to be watching while they were around and not so much what the child was allowed to watch during their tv time.

I found myself having to really watch how I say things, so that all the suggestions I gave the kids would still allow them to honor their parents/guardians. The kids’ first reaction is to go and turn off the tv or tell the parent straight up, “Turn it off, that’s bad!” or whatever else came to mind. I gave the kids some options that gave them the power to protect their heart from the bad stuff, with the hopes it will help them cope with any environment that exposes them to stuff that might not be the best thing for the kids to see. Some of the suggestions included: asking their parents nicely to turn it or talk with their parents about what they learned, find something else to do like go their room and play or put some headphones on and listen to good music, etc.

All of this really hit my heart. I ached in my spirit, seeing all these kids who wanted so much to do the right thing and watch what they hear or see. These kids want to please God and grow in their faith. I saw the pain behind their eyes, when they shared that they were scared by certain shows or movies and they don’t like to hear the bad words or see stuff that is inappropriate. For the most part, they knew what was good or bad media, but seemed at a loss as to what to do because they felt like sometimes they didn’t have a choice.

I wish that parents could see this side of their kids more often, to see them from perspective that is a little different. I know that these parents love their kids with everything they got, and never want to hurt them. As a parent, I know this is hard to see with my own kids, it often takes someone giving me a different way of looking at things…

Kids (especially those in elementary school) are very literal. They have problems discerning reality and fantasy, even if they tell you they know the difference.  They will often believe whatever someone (especially a trusted adult!) tells them. They also struggle to understand why the grown-ups in their lives do stuff they can’t do. So many times they hear, “because I am an adult” or whatever.  They are very black & white when it comes to moral issues/rules. It’s either right or wrong and if there happens to be a gray area, they struggle with understanding why. The excuse that “kids are resilient” is not entirely accurate. So many times we  adults say that so flippantly. Whatever a child (or person of ANY age) exposed to WILL affect them in some way, whether good or bad.

I am not telling anyone what show to watch or music to listen to…that’s your choice. But consider what you are potentially exposing your kids to. I used to listen to a lot of different music and watched a lot of stuff, but there came a point where I knew something HAD to change. I don’t know exactly when I realized that it wasn’t cute for a kid to be singing the song on the radio that was blatantly about sex or hurting someone. I wasn’t even that interested in changing what I listened to at that time, but I couldn’t stand for my kids to be repeating some of the lyrics! So I started being super careful what I listened to around them. That eventually became a whole lifestyle change for me, and at the very least my children were changed for the better because of it. Sometimes the best changes in our lives come from what we do to protect our kids. At the very least be willing to listen to your kids when they tell you something that they are exposed to is bothering them. My oldest daughter does this frequently, I used to get mad at her, but then I realized God was using her to change me 🙂

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