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Posts Tagged ‘God’

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!

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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.

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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.

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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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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 😉 )

 

 

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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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Its times like this that make me glad to be where I am at today. If you have watched the news you have likely heard about the devastating tornadoes that ravaged my home, Oklahoma. I know I can’t really add to what my Okie family has said already, but I have grown to love this state more and more as I have grown older. I haven’t always felt this way, but every time we face challenges, it reminds me of all the good here. In the little bit of traveling I have done, I gather that we are a strange people. I got strange looks and comments just for being polite and kind, and my kids were regarded as even more weird because they were fairly well behaved and helpful. For me, it’s just how it always has been, it’s what has been instilled in us.  

When you live in a place where tornadoes are just a part of life, you have to stick together, even if you don’t always like each other. Each time there is devastation there is the reminder that “It could have been me”. Looking at damage, there can be literally inches and feet that separate losing everything and being spared. I have seen many tornadoes over the years (thankfully mostly on our local channels!), but this one affected me emotionally more than others, even the May 3rd,1999 one. Maybe it was because of the schools hit, and realizing my own children might not be safe. Or perhaps being older and more aware of how short life is.

There have been so many times I wished I lived somewhere else, or debated whether I would trade other risks instead of tornadoes. Then I see communities coming together and even in the midst of all of it people somehow find hope and humor. I see people of all ages, beliefs and races coming together just to be there for others. I see strength through all the tears and sweat. I see these things, and I see Christ in action (whether they believe or not!) and I know that there is no other place I would rather be, especially if faced with crazy weather every spring.

I have this image in my head…of a crowd of people crouched down with rubble all around in the seconds after everything is destroyed. There is silence and shock as night falls. Slowly, one by one, with head held high, they rise, facing the eastern sky. And it’s there that hope rises as fiery as an Oklahoma sunrise.

 

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