Thursday, May 31, 2012

Some things I have learned along the way...jealousy.








Some things I have learned along the way...

JEALOUSY

As I approach turning 30 next month, I have been realizing many things in my life. And I would love to share this with you because I know many of you feel the same way...and don't talk about it. And if you have never felt an ounce of jealousy, bless your heart.

 I have been known in the past to, in secret, be aggravated when people succeed and question all the time, "why not me???"

I have identified with struggles more than successes.

Looking back on things, I could tell you that is because things were often rough for me as a child. I did not identify with success in Gods eyes, but in the eyes of the world. As a child, the foundation is set for the way you look at the world and with my parents horrible divorce and all that goes along with that, I did not identify with anything. I expected challenges, I became used to the bad. I grew up looking for validation in anything or anyone who would give it to me. Needless to say, I sought it out but never found it. Looking back on my childhood, even though things were hard for me, I am now grateful because it is part of my story.

I did not go to college. I hated school so much that I graduated a whole year early so I could get out. I had many jobs as a teenager. I worked for my dad at his hair salons, I was a weight loss consultant for Jenny Craig, I worked in sales at a gym...I was a waitress at many bars and restaurants. And five years ago I opened my own weight loss consulting business called A Balanced Approach. It also failed. I was lost with no idea of who I was or what was to come. I bounced around from job to job never finding passion or satisfaction in anything. I was not thriving, I was surviving. 

I was jealous whenever someone had success or was able to carry out a dream. I had always dreamed of being an artist but never saw how it could work. I never saw beyond my circumstances.

If I look at what has happened for me in the past few months I just cant believe the amount of Grace and Mercy God has given me in this area of my life.

I started painting again after ten years. This happened 3 months ago. And I am amazed at the opportunities that God has opened up for me because of this. But I have to tell you it is not because of anything I have done.

Its because of what HE has done.

If I would have picked up a paint brush and started navigating through how to build my own shop or deal with clients...I would have failed back then. All the businesses that I have created in the last ten years have failed. All the paths I have walked have led me to nowhere.

But that's what I thought...until now.

Every single attempt and failure has led me to right here. Every single mistake I have made has given me that much more character and strength. God has been softening my heart and showing me His love all these years even when I didn't see it. It wasn't that I was a failure, it was that I was in the wrong space, and just needed more time.

His plans are perfect yet I did not trust in them.

I keep going back to this one scripture.

Proverbs 3:5-6


 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

The one thing missing in all my plans, was Him.

I was listening to a podcast yesterday by an artist who chronicled her story from beginning to end. She talked about how she hated working for companies and needed to break out. She tried so many things over years and years but it never seemed to go anywhere. Then she started painting...and it felt right. She racked up lots of credit card debt and took big risks. She lived her dream. And now she is an author and artist with a very successful etsy shop. But there was one part of her story that really resonated with me. She worked in a gallery for about a year when she first started painting. She watched all the other artists sell their work and she did not sell one piece of her own. It took about 6 months for people even to notice her. But she said this was the greatest period of her journey because this is where she learned gratitude, patience and humility.

She was jealous, just like me.

I am finding as I become older and wiser, that this part of my soul is getting wiped clean. I am finding so much joy in watching others succeed because I know there is a time and place for everyone here. I once felt looked over and picked through. Like there was no real reason or purpose for me. I blamed everyone else for my failures and didn't see the big picture. And no, I have not made it big time...yet. But in my heart I feel like I already have. Because I feel less ugly on the inside. I feel better encouraging others because it encourages me. I feel better seeing the good in people because it brings out the good in me. I feel better waiting patiently on the Lord, waking up each morning anticipating His next move, even when our bank account is at a big fat ZERO.

The greatest thing I have learned through all of my failures, is that they are not failures. They are set ups God uses to bring me to the next level. And I should never compare my story to someone elses. We are all created so unique with such different talents and gifts, it would be such a waste of time and spirit to compare anything. Jealousy and comparison is such a thief of Joy...

Jeremiah 29:11


 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.



Trust in this today. And don't be jealous. Live the life God created in you! Be you! And don't look at success through the eyes of the world. Jesus had a pretty rough life here on earth...tortured and laughed at He still continued to live with the strongest faith and hope. If you feel jealous of someone or their circumstances, try counting your own blessings. Know today that your time is near...and give all your fears to God. Ask Him to plan your days...lead your steps.

I still think, with my bank account near zero...that it is the journey that is the sweetest. Because the things I have learned during my roughest days are shaping me into tomorrow.

It is when I am the most lost, I find God.

It is when I feel the weakest, He gives me the most strength.

You are on the verge of something great! Don't ever give up hope! You are not overlooked, you are not picked through! You are a special child of God who knew you before you were born, and He has great plans for you. All the things you are going through right now are leading you to where He wants you to be. And I could think of no better place to be then in His hands.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

why I share so much.

I wonder sometimes what people think when they read what I write or while we are having a conversation....


I wonder if people think I am weird or too expressive or lost in Jesus.


The fact is...

I will share every detail with you if the Lord prompts me too.


I believe in being modest with the clothes I wear and the language I use...


But I will never be modest in my testimony.


I believe there is a time and a place and soul on the other end waiting to hear the good news.


I believe that my story of a challenging childhood, a broken family, a broken marriage, being addicted to everything...

lost in food, lost in sin, in a need for attention...

will let the light of saving Grace show through.


I would probably have more friends in this world if I talked

about self help books or home remedies or anti depressants or anti anxiety pills...

Or therapy or marriage counseling...

Or nicotine gum or rehab.

But the truth of the matter is, I have tried it all...and failed.

Yes, I have taken an anti anxiety pill and felt more calm..

But then had to do THAT every time to get through the day.

I have been to rehab as a teen only to turn to drugs and alcohol later in life.

My marriage was broken and nothing could have been done or said to make anything work...

except for Jesus.


My heart physically hurts to see people in pain, going through everything I have gone through and it is my only hope that somewhere in my life, people can see Jesus and the power of His restoration and healing.

If you knew me then...

You would see such a sad and broken girl...

A girl living by her own rules, led by her feelings, lost in what the world said about her.

Paranoid, depressed, anxious, living in fear...

almost dead.

But on the other side of the darkness...

is the light.

On the other side of anxiety...

is Faith.

On the other side of depression...

is Joy.

On the other side of fear,

is Hope.

If you are here, and you relate to me...

I am praying for you.

Every single broken piece in your life can be put back together if you ask.

If you lay down your burdens and sin, right at the very feet of Jesus, who promises to take all the dirty out of your soul and make you clean.

Clean so you may shine, not live in fear or guilt or shame.

I pray that you understand that just because you are broken today...

Doesn't mean you can't be whole tomorrow.

Your past does not define you.

It's there to create a warrior IN you.

It is the story that God is writing everyday...

He is walking with you every second, even when you don't acknowledge Him.

All He wants you to say is,

I cant do this anymore.

And He will step in.

I have watched MIRACLES happen in my own life.

I have felt a love that sometimes is so great I have a hard time even describing it.

This love is for you too.


                                                                                                                             Galatians 2:20


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but

Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by

faith in the Son of God. who loved me and gave himself for me.









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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ten years together.

After ten years with my husband, I have finally come to some conclusions.

When you first start out dating someone, you are looking for qualities in that someone that will benefit you. Do they communicate well? Does he love his mother? Would he be a good provider? Is he attractive enough to keep my interest for years to come?

If you pass the test, you get married. In our case, there was no test. I never asked any of these questions in my head. I just knew. There was no so called "interview". It wasn't normal. Now this has caused many trials and challenges for us in our marriage.

For instance, I never considered the fact that my husband might join the military, he had no college degree when we met, yet I married him anyways. And i didn't pair that with the fact that I myself have no degree or career. It was a non issue.

I never watched him with children and thought "he would be a great father."

Looking at what we have been through for the past ten years, I am noticing that the trials and challenges that we have been through have brought us to a place I don't know if we would be, if we had had that interview first.

I thought to myself today, for the first time in my life, I am way more interested in loving him, than being in love.

What does that even mean? Being in love.

Being "in" love sounds more like a state of mind to me. Like if it is possible to be "in" love, then its possible to be "out".

Today, as I look back on a decade with my best friend, I see more value in being given the ability and the blessing of loving him than receiving love.

Something happens in marriage when you put yourself last. When you put your own needs and desires down to fill your partners. Whatever they may be. No matter what.

My world has been rocked because of him. His shortcomings have made me stronger. His needs have given me a heart of service. His forgiving heart has blessed me beyond belief.

I wouldnt take any of it back or do it again any different. Even the bad stuff.

Because we are still here.

After ten years, it definitely feels better to love, than be loved.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

The spirit of fear.

This is the rock wall at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Indiana.




Why in the world am I showing you this?

Well many years ago, my father and I went on a trip here with our Indian Princesses troop. Indian Princesses is for ages 5 -12 and is a place where dads and their daughters can develop strong relationships, learn to communicate and grow spiritually together. I can remember when our group was called to climb this wall, they wouldn't notice me. I had so much fear inside and I did everything I could to distract everyone from the fact that I had not taken a turn. Coincidentally, I used to do the same thing with the rope climb in elementary school. I remember trembling with fear, crying, wanting to run. I also remember not wanting to disappoint my dad. I didn't climb that wall. I believe I was the only one. I felt like such a disappointment, such a failure. I can pin point many crystal clear circumstances where fear took over my spirit as a young child and I will never forget them.


Today I took Grace to the dentist. I have been prepping her for a month now. She took medication this morning to calm her down and so the nitrous would work better. I prayed over her last night, and this morning. Spent many hours praying for my own strength that I could get through this. I had worship music on in the car on the way, I was feeling good. Grace showed no signs of sleepiness, in fact after her full dose of Demerol she walked into the office and started playing. We gave her a few moments to get comfortable and then we got called back. She immediately started screaming and got so worked up she started throwing up. She wouldn't even sit in the chair. We got her to just SIT in the chair and then it took about another 30 minutes of screaming to get her to even open her mouth. It took three grown women to hold her down to get ONE x-ray. We got nothing accomplished, the x rays did not turn out and we left with 2 small cavities still in her teeth. Nothing we could do or say made her comfortable. She was terrified, at what I don't know. And she is not the only one. Her dentist laughed and said her oldest daughter was like this, now she is a lawyer.

The next step is to take her to the hospital to go under general anesthesia. For two small cavities.

I finally gave up, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. But before we left, I tried to call my husband. He didn't answer so I had to talk to someone. I pulled her dentist aside and told her that I was just mad. I was so mad that this happens to us all the time. She does this at the doctor too. It takes several adults to hold her down to even take her blood pressure.  Why cant she just sit like all the other kids??? What is she so scared of?? I felt as if she had ruined my day. We drove 30 minutes each way, we had to drive around Texas trying to get her pre meds filled, it was all a hassle.

Sometimes I feel it is just all irritating. Sometimes, my children inconvenience me. But what would my life be like if God felt this way about me? Who would I be to Him? He didn't just drop me off here on earth and expect me to fend for myself. Walking from here to there, year by year trying to navigate this crazy world alone. My goodness I am so grateful God is not this way with me.

Whoa.

I put the kids in the car and just sat with the air blowing, sun shining in my face, and just cried. Grace was crying and I was crying along with her. She was shaking and tense, grinding and clenching her teeth. Her poor little body was so worn out from fear. I saw myself as a child. My anger turned to compassion and confusion at the same time. Why is she like this? Why does she get so mad at herself?

I got to thinking about that rock wall, and my father. And how he must have felt angry too. I mean I am his daughter, a reflection of him. He packed us up and drove all the way to Indiana and I refused to do anything because I was too scared. He was probably pissed. I can remember feeling like I let him down. Then I was just mad at myself. But I never knew what he was feeling. He never got mad. And over the last few decades my father has watched me try new things and fail...all the while supporting me and trying to steer me in the right direction.

This whole day got me thinking about parenting. And how our children are no mistake. The ones we got are the ones who weren't meant for us. And I am constantly in awe of what God brings to my life. Grace is a more brave version of myself. But to this day, at 30 years old, I can still relate to her. My whole life has pretty much been based on fear. Fear of failure and rejection. The whole drive home I kept thinking about my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Why does his style of parenting work and mine seems to not?


Psalm 145:8
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.


I kept thinking about how God forgives every single short coming and he does it quick. His love is based on encouragement and mercy and grace. He knows that I am not perfect, He knows when I will fail. He knows that I will let Him down, but He still loves me. He even loves me in the midst of my failures. He doesn't get mad and yell. He doesn't make me feel like I am a burden to him. He doesn't make me feel like there is something wrong with me. In fact, He uses my mistakes for my own good. He uses what I do wrong, to build me up, stronger than I was before. He gives me tools in the form of His promises, to approach the situation again and be stronger and wiser.

So what do I do now? Well, I decided that today will be a new day of seeking out how to be more like my Heavenly Father. I don't ever want my precious babies to feel like they have let me down. I don't want this to be my first reaction. I want them to know that whatever they do, they have God on their side waiting and anxious to help them through whatever they are asked to do. I struggle even writing this about Grace on this Internet space, I don't want her to resent me in the future with being so open about our family. But I do want her to know that I want to be better for her. I don't want her to grow up in fear, like I did. I want her to know that she can call upon the almighty King for everything she needs in life.

But it starts with me. I am the one here on earth who God trusted with her soul. That is a very serious job.

My love must be more than what I feel. Even if I feel angry with her, if she lets me down,if she makes a mistake, my love for her is not based on that. My love for her is based on who she is. She is a precious child of God. She is a tiny little soul who is full of love and passion who needs to know more about Jesus. She needs to see more Jesus.

Her dentist and I decided that instead of going to the hospital, we would take 6 more months and try again. Take more time to let her grow and be encouraged. I will do whatever I can as her mother to not let her grow up in fear like I did.

So that was today my friends. But today is all in how you look at it. Even if things didn't go the way I had planned or prayers did not get answered, it doesn't mean that today was a bust. If my prayers would have been answered the way that I saw fit, I would not have received these beautiful revelations.

Thank God for unanswered prayers.

I love you Gracie Poo! We will try again in 6 months!
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The ways God shows me His love...

I am a firm believer, in my own life, that God allows annoying, aggravating and seemingly difficult situations to occur so He can use them to show me how much He loves me.


That sounds crazy doesn't it. I know. After much prayer and revelation it has been revealed to me that I tend to be the kind of person who thinks things are only okay when things are okay.

I am safe when I have a full bank account.

I am happy when everyone is healthy.

I am worthy only when successful.

I don't really know a specific point in my life when this started but I believe it happened early in childhood. Coming from a bad divorce between my parents and much instability at times, it became the norm for me to expect bad things to happen. I can remember a time before my husband deployed for Afghanistan this last time when I was so overcome with fear that I thought for sure my husband would not come home and I was destined to suffer my whole life. My friend Melissa, and ex military wife, prayed over me along with several other people from her church. I remember falling to my knees and weeping. I didn't know how to just trust in His plans. I know they all continued to pray for me throughout our deployment, because God has shown me the opposite of what I believed...

I keep referring back to a verse that has been on my mind and in my heart for a few weeks now...


John 16:33

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I have been learning that things are just going to happen. I will get a huge tax return and then all four of my tires will need to be replaced and I will need 2 root canals, 2 new crowns and there will be a water leak in our home in North Carolina.

I will wake up one day and have a horrible sore throat and need to go to urgent care. Totally not my plan for the day. But God showed me something today. Something that may seem small to you but so big to me. Especially since my world seems to get rocked when a wrench gets thrown in.

I went to an urgent care right down the road and there were at least 50 cars in the parking lot. I walked inside and there must have been 60 miserable people, waiting. I walked up to the counter to check in and saw a lot of angry, sick people staring at me. They did not accept my insurance. Again, I got frustrated but I knew God would take care of it. Now, feeling like crapola I had to get back in my car and drive around until I found another one. The receptionist was nice and directed me to one a few miles down the road. I found it and parked. Walked inside...nobody waiting. I just smiled. I had a precious moment with God...He was just telling me to calm down, and trust Him.

Just let me love you.

Let me help you.

I told you that not everything would be peachy, but I am here to hold you through it. I am here to keep you safe. I am here to love you!

He led me out of the mess and dropped me off where I would have no wait. It took 5 minutes to fill out paperwork and get back to a room. Oh those poor people at the other clinic....some are probably still waiting. I got mad that they didn't accept my insurance but I fianlly learned to  see beyond my own anger and frustration. I was excited for what God had planned for me. I didnt let what I felt define me. I lived in His promises.

Turns out after a strep test, I just have pharyngitis. Some nasty bug but no strep. Again, just easy peasy Tuesday. Just an opportunity for God to show me His love.

If I have learned anything in the past 30 years...it is this. I need to just let go of the thinking that everything that happens in my life happens to me. It happens FOR me. And I live for and serve a God who is anxious to hold my hand through every mess I come to. And if I am the mess, He still loves me anyways.

What a blessing to feel His love...
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

The story of Lucy James...

One year ago today my Lucy, you were ready to come into the world.

Your daddy was deployed to Afghanistan, it was just you and me. Daddy was able to be on the phone with us the whole time.






It all happened so fast. Actually at first it happened slow. I thought because your sister came early, you would too. I didn't listen to God tell me to let Him be in control. I made plans for help to come and your great grandma Mary came for 3 weeks. You didn't arrive and she had to go home. Then your grandma Debbie came from Ohio and stayed for a week. For weeks before hand I tried to make you come out. I had weeks and weeks of short hospital stays because I had tons of braxton hicks contractions. They said I was in pre labor with you for 3 weeks, but you still didn't want to come out yet. I did everything I thought of to get you to come out, but the ONLY thing I didn't do was trust God and His timing. I mowed the lawn, I took miles and miles of walks...I ate entire pineapples. All I got was heartburn. No you...








 It was the last weekend we had help. Your grandma Debbie had to leave to go back to work so our doctors set a date to induce. You were going to be induced anyways by 39 weeks because I had gestational diabetes. I drove myself to the hospital at 5 am on a Thursday. I cried the whole way there. I felt so alone, your daddy was gone and I wasn't ready to have you. I thought about turning around. I was driving in circles. I struggled for many weeks before you came with how things would be. I thought I could never love another child as much as I loved your sister, Grace. I wanted you out so bad but I wasn't ready. I was so lost. Things felt so strange. We started the pitocin and it went on for hours. We never had consistent contractions. It was so irregular. My body was so tired and I was struggling with everything. At one point our nurse came in and I just lost it. I told her that I knew why the induction was working. I wasn't ready. My body was but my heart wasn't. I needed to let go.







They stopped the meds. They called it a day. They said we would try again the next day. I couldn't believe it. Now we had lost a day. Frustrated, I turned to God. It just so happened that I had a Joyce Meyer book with me. It was called Power Thoughts.Ashley, my nurse friend, and I read it together all night long. I knew that there was some lesson that I wasn't getting and I needed God. I just needed to spend time with Him. Ashley and I prayed, read and contemplated what it was that was being revealed to me all night. Bless her heart she stayed so late...It turns out all I needed was to learn to let go, and let God. I was letting all the details of your birth and how things were going to be for us at home alone following your birth, scare me. I was afraid if I couldn't control how things went, we would be a mess.  I read, prayed and received and we called it a night. You were still in my belly. They gave me some meds to sleep so I could be strong for you the next day. We were going to do it again. Round two.







I woke up the next morning renewed. I felt strong. I knew it was going to be the day! I actually took a shower! I had not eaten since the night before I came to the hospital so now it had been a few days. I was starving. But more hungry for you than anything! We started the meds and contractions started. They kept growing stronger and stronger. We started at 8 am. I anticipated the same back labor that I had with Grace so as soon as I felt I couldn't take it anymore, we got the epidural. Back labor is so painful Lucy, I hope you don't experience it. I began to relax into my contractions and was still dilated at 3. They decided to break my water. Things were moving very quickly. Once I felt totally relaxed, I decided to take a little rest. I watched the monitor show waves of steady contractions and it lulled me to sleep. In the midst of my nap, I felt the nurse check me. She had rolled me over the side and I could hear lots of commotion. All of a sudden, she ran out of the room and called everyone in. I was now fully dilated. You and I were ready. 





It was 11 am. Our midwife came in, opened up the blinds wide...Everyone got their blue gear on and
 started to prepare for you. I pushed a few times waiting for everyone to get ready and you were coming. They told me to stop, you were right there. I couldn't believe it. My heart was pounding so hard Lucy, I was ready. I praised God for the lessons He had taught me. I prayed for you. I prayed for daddy, that He would be near a phone. Earlier I had sent him an email saying we were ready. I know that God led him to a computer right at that moment because he called within minutes. I handed the phone to our friend Heather, I couldn't handle being on the phone and pushing!






We stared the pushes. I couldn't believe how amazing I felt. I couldn't believe how beautiful the room looked. I couldn't believe how much I loved you. God had heard my prayers and answered them. After twenty minutes of pushing, you came out. There was a moment where I pushed and everyone turned away waiting for the next contraction. It was surreal. They all had their eyes fixed on something else in the room besides me and you. But you were there. I yelled to Kelly, our midwife, shes coming! She turned and you were half way out...she caught you.






You arrived at 11:44 am. Your daddy heard the whole thing. Our friend Heather took you to get your fingers and toes printed, weighed and bathed. Usually the daddy goes, but he wasn't there. I remember aching for you, just to see you. I wanted to go so bad. But we had to deliver the placenta and get cleaned up. I just cried and cried for the next hour. I was in awe of what had just happened. I had so much tearing with your sister. I was in so much pain with her. I didn't know God then like I do now. I didn't know how to trust Him back then. Things were rough during her birth. But with you, the minute you came out, I remember thinking, I could do that again right now. It was magical. I actually got up and walked myself to our new room. Right after I devoured some suspicious hospital meat and a salad. I was starving. Oh and a diet coke ;)




 I shared the most precious day and night with you in this room. It was just you and me. We had no visitors. No phone calls. I wanted it that way. I knew that you and I had a rough road ahead and I wanted to make the 24 hours we were in this room special. We practiced nursing, we talked, we cried and we slept. Your pediatric doctor was a gift straight from God. He kept telling me not to worry about anything and that we were doing great. He knew exactly what to say and when to say it. Your grandma and sister came to see us. And then the next day we drove home. You and me. There were no hospital pictures. This is me taking a photo of us. We were alone. I remember thinking what a big deal it was to take Grace home, first time in the car seat and in the car. But it was just us. I found myself very sad that nobody was there to celebrate you in that way. It was raining the day I brought you home. I didn't even remember how to put your seat in properly!





We drove home, walked in the door and I showed you around. A few moments later, your grandma had to go home. She had a long drive ahead of her and had to get back to work.

Heather was there for a while, she let me shower and get a little organized. But she had to leave too. In a matter of a few hours, it was just you, me and Grace. Alone. I will never forget having to go to the grocery store the next day. I had given birth three days earlier and here were were, grocery shopping. The next few months were crazy! But we made it.




Today you turned one. I cant believe how fast time flies. I cant believe how much love I have for you. Lucy, you hold the most special place in my heart. God has shown me many things about Himself through you. I have learned how strong I can be with Him. I have learned that He will prepare us for everything He asks us to do. I have learned how emotions are not the truth. He is. I learned that the closer we walk with Him, the easier things are. I now know that when we try to take control of every detail, fear steps in. And that there is no way that we could possibly make everything turn out the way that we want it to. When I was trying to control how everything happened in our pregnancy and birth, God had other plans. And it wasn't until I let Him take the lead, that all my fears went away.

My love for you has been part of my story. The story God is writing with my life. Today, I want you to know how beautiful you are. I want you to know that every morning you wake up, you give me the cutest smile. I want you to know how much love you have in your heart already. You make people laugh and you brighten the darkest days. I will never forget this year, as long as I live. You have left a mark on my soul and I thank God everyday that He gave you to us. Thank you for being so good and patient with me as I navigated the first few months of raising you alone. It was a lot of trial and error. But each day, God was with us. And He still is. And I want you to know that He always will be...as long as you let Him.

I love you Lucy James.











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