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Monday, December 23, 2013

Guard Your Tongue From Calamity Or--In Other Words-- Sometimes You Should Just Shut It.

If your friend is lying on the train tracks because he likes feeling the vibrations, and you know a train is scheduled to hurtle toward him at a rate of 100 miles per hour, as it does without fail every day, what will you do to get him to move?

Will you yell at him and tell him what a loser he is, what an idiot he's being? How stupid he is to lay there and how many laws he's breaking?

Will you smile and pat his arm, telling him it's his decision to make and you love and support his right to do so?

Or will you implore with wisdom and tact in your conversation, reminding him that, while ultimately it IS his decision, there is another way? A better way? A way that doesn't have to end in carnage and death?

When we see someone doing something we believe to be wrong, why is our reaction so often anger and resentment, as evidenced by certain words and phrases to express our displeasure?

If someone is, in fact, conducting themselves in a manner that we believe to be sinful (even if the Bible backs us up in that belief), why do we so often respond with angry, venomous reactions?

Unfortunately, I am guilty of this. I am scratching my head trying to figure out why I respond like that? How I can watch someone's abysmal life choices or even see something someone has posted or "liked" on Facebook and go into an immediate inner rage. I will then recount to myself all the ways they suck.

And I console my own guilt about having these thoughts by saying, "I'm just thinking this...I'm not telling anyone else what I think..."

Except the only problem with that is that God knows my thoughts. :-/

That's why 2 Corinthians 10:5 says "...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Sadly, my thoughts tend to be like free range cows...they roam everywhere grazing on whatever they like.

And "big" issues like have been in the press this past week come up and everyone and their brother chimes in. Every blogger under the sun thinks her voice should be heard and the wars waged in the comments section make me want to slam my phone repeatedly on the table.

So many voices fighting to be heard and fighting to be "right."

Each one thinking his opinion is correct and so many quick to tear to shreds those who disagree.

So many "Biblical scholars" -who have clearly not cracked open a Bible- willing to define what Jesus thinks of different things--all the while casting stones from the comfort of their Starbucks booth. Keyboard warriors I heard them called once. It's very fitting. And not a term I want attached to me.

I'm just a girl with a laptop who likes to share.

I have no credentials except from the School of Life.

I am not a "writer" simply because I like to write and I can, on occasion, string a few sentences together that resonate with someone.

And I am most definitely NOT an authority on what is in the Bible. Although many things are absolutely crystal clear, I cannot even begin to rebuke every area with any authority.

And I wonder...how often is my passion about an issue or a "wrong doing" I see in someone else's life a result of my desire to see them set free from the sin and how often, if I'm being completely honest with myself, is it the result of me wanting them to toe the line like I have to.

How many times do I metaphorically stomp my foot and say "It's not fair! If I have to follow the rules, so do they!"

How often am I angry or threatened because someone is "getting away with" something I would love to, but don't because I am convicted about it?

I think that often times the message can be scriptural and dead on, but the messenger is so consumed with the wrong motive that the message is missed or falls flat.

In my newest Beth Moore study: Daniel, I came across some things that were so appropriate for this past week and for life in general.

In Daniel 2:14, as King Nebuchadnezzar's head executioner sought out Daniel and his friends to kill them (by order of the king), Daniel spoke to this man and the Bible says he used "wisdom and tact." And it saved their lives. The executioner listened.

Like in Colossians 4:6 (MSG):

"Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."

Am I bringing out the best in others when I give them a verbal dressing down? Am I "cutting them out" when I tell them in no uncertain terms what an infinitesimal failure at life they are, lovingly book-ended with scripture?

There's a happy medium here...a sweet spot...and I am struggling to find it.

I don't think we need to be screamed at or insulted into repentance, but neither do I think we are all going to skip together, holding hands, to the gates of Heaven after spending a lifetime sweeping each other's sins under the carpet.

I think it starts with our tongue. And how we speak to one another. It won't matter if the words are filled with God's Truths if they are spewed with such venom that the receiver can't withstand the flames to hear the message.

We have to stand up for God's Word (Isaiah 58:1). That's clear in the Bible. We're called to give an account for our faith (1 Peter 3:15) and we are called to address conflict head on, based upon God's Word (Matthew 18).

But how to do that is where I get in trouble sometimes.

Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)-"Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit--you choose."

Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)- "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift."

It seems appropriate at Christmas that the verse from Ephesians came to mind again. I want to give you a beautifully wrapped present filled with the most amazing gift--the kind that ultimately makes you feel loved and is delivered with humility. Not the booby prize; the fake poop gift you see at tacky parties. The gift that leaves you disappointed and left wanting, possibly angry at the gift giver.

And that's how I'll leave you. With the thought of fake poop. :)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Handing Out Some Evictions.

Seems lately my life has been an exercise in clich├ęs. I've always been a deep, philosophical person. Complicated, and an over thinker. 

Nothing's changed.

No less than 10 times a day something will come to me… a song, a verse, a post on Facebook… And--at the risk of sounding like I'm waxing poetic--it speaks to me. It resonates.

And I get all kinds of impassioned and on fire to blog about it. To share it , because I feel like someone, somewhere could possibly be feeling the same way that I am. And maybe it will resonate with them too.

And the moment I try to sit down and write, it's like my mind slams shut. And there is a metaphorical wrestling match in my head. 

I actually argue with myself. A lot. Sometimes out loud.

But even in those times, there is a central thought or thoughts that stand out. And I'm learning to focus on those.

Little sidenote here… I have always been an anti-bath person. Just grosses me out. But lately In our new house, with a bigger tub, it's actually become a little bit of an obsession.

And I love it because I can light some candles, turn off the lights, just soak and think.

And think… And think… And think.

It's in those moments when it's quiet and the lights are down and sometimes I have Pandora playing, that I feel my best. And my heart is full, and I get so totally psyched about writing. About sharing this craziness in life. About just being with people.

Really connecting.

And it's during those times that God's voice seems so clear.

But the moment the candles go out, and the water drains, and I step back into normal life, it all goes away. And I can't hear it anymore over the noise of the world.

So my remedy to that: blogging from the tub!

There's this amazing app that I can use from my phone to blog. I can even use voice text to type for me. So any grammar or spelling errors… Blame it on auto text. Yeah, Auto text.

And nothing too weighty or brilliant tonight. Just have this feeling that it's important to say: be yourself.

Be yourself.

Don't let others or yourself or society dictate to you who you should be. You were created and designed to be someone specific and unique. 

Be that person. 

No one else can do it better. The world will be missing something crucial if you are not YOU, who you were meant to be before even one day came to be.

I struggle with that. Especially when so many are only too eager to tell you what a piece of crap you are. 

Those people who don't realize the weight their words have with you, those people who poke fun calling it a "joke", those people who know exactly what they're doing and systematically tear you down. 

To those people I say: You no longer have power over me. You are no longer permitted to rent space in my head. 

Will I still treat you well? I hope so, though it will take a true act of God to clamp my mouth shut.

Will I still love those who are so negative and cutting? Yes, but as Sandi Krakowski said today on Facebook, sometimes it's best to love some people from afar. 

Will I be more careful with my own words, taking to heart that words really can break bones, tear skin, and destroy relationships? Absolutely. 

But I'm done listening to the thunderous crowd in my head.

Done. 

From now on I'm only listening to the whisper of Truth. 

As long as I'm living in integrity with my God and myself, I cannot any longer worry and fret over what others think or who others want me to be. 

And neither should you. 

Will you metaphorically pump your fist in the air with me and say "No more!"

Let's just do this. Let's just take off our masks and the training wheels we drive around on in our lives and trust Him to protect us. To guide us. To validate us. 

Who's with me? 



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Because Life Is Messy

Note: I started this post (along with many others) weeks ago, but I just couldn't tell where it was going. I couldn't get a handle on my own thoughts. Funny how God is never early but always right on time with His lessons. When will I learn that??

Life is messy. Isn't it?

Baby eating an Oreo messy.

Photo: Holy Oreo!

And sometimes, even with the greatest of intentions, stuff happens and you have to get your hands dirty.

Relationship conflicts happen.

Neighborly disputes take place.

Family arguments blow up.

People disappoint you.

Loved ones hurt your feelings.

Your kids break your heart.

And the little bubble you've worked so hard to insulate yourself within pops.

And you are forced to do the hard thing. Dig in. Get involved. Make some conscious decisions.

That being said, though (and I actually HATE that phrase...) I am learning that I don't always have to take responsibility for the hurts or wounds.

I can still aid in supporting or facilitating healing without taking on the burden myself.

But life is messy.

No matter what you do or how you try to protect yourself, life is messy.

Relationships where we actually put ourselves out there are messy.

Parent-child relationships are messy.

Neighbor involvement can be messy.

Any time you are allowed into someone else's life it can get messy--and usually does.

And while I believe this to be a fundamental truth, there are some things that we don't have to take to heart and get all flustered over.

Maybe this is just me.

I can't even comment on a Facebook Page (think USA TODAY) anymore without getting raked over the coals by people with a different opinion.

Posting something controversial? Forget it. There are sure to be some who will feel invited and obligated to share why your view is wrong. To insult you. To tear you to shreds.

So I have started to live a little bit behind a shield.

I've stopped getting involved where I see controversy.

I keep my mouth shut when I see people making horrible, life altering decisions.

I keep it to myself when I witness injustice because it's not my place. I don't need to be involved. It isn't my business. 

To each his own. 

Judge not lest ye be judged.

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. 

Right?

Safe. Insulated. Un-involved.

Non-judgmental. Unbiased. Impartial.

Or is it?

Are we keeping our mouths shut because we truly don't want to offend or is it because we're too afraid to speak up and stand our ground on something? Are we trying to let others "find their own way" or are we simply too scared to speak the Truth?

I'm watching a situation play out on Facebook right now. I've seen MANY situations like this play out in real life and on social media.

Blasted, confounded, wondrous and beautiful Facebook.

I've watched as families are destroyed and children are left behind and I've said nothing.

I know these people.

In many cases, I care about these people.

I see the wreckage.

I see the horrible example they are showing their children.

Friendships have been broken. Families torn apart. And children left wondering what happened to everything they've been taught.

And I've sat silent.

Or worse...I've been the one cheering them on with "Yeah! Don't listen to anyone else! As long as you're happy, that's all that matters!"

or

"Don't let others make you feel bad! They're just jealous!"

or

"Kids are resilient. They'll bounce back. They know you love them!"

And I've smiled and eagerly welcomed them into my life while throwing up my hands and saying things like, "Who am I to judge?"

But when I step back and get very quiet with myself, I see the truth.

The truth is that there is a DIFFERENCE between JUDGING and SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE.

Not only SHOULD I speak to these people in my life who I have a relationship with, but I am OBLIGATED to do so if I have ever proclaimed to care about them.

But I think where I get all tied up and become paralyzed is when I FEAR that I will be met with anger or hostility. And I probably will. I find that when confronted with an area that I am lacking in, my defenses pop up immediately. I think that's true for most of us. So, if I go poking sticks in people's hornet's nests, there's bound to be an angry bee.

But should that stop me?

No.

As long as I am actually speaking the truth in LOVE.

How do I do that?

I'll look to 1 Corinthians 13 for that answer. (Message Version)

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

And I tell you what...after reading that I realize going to someone in anger, in exasperation, in disgust, in prejudice, in annoyance, or in any other way than complete humility, will lose them before I even open my mouth.

So it is kind of a balancing act in how we approach people. And I think it's perfectly understandable why the "Church" has given up so many times in doing so.

If you speak up, you're labeled "judgmental". If you sit silent, you're labeled "passive" and "watered down."

There is no winning.

Unless we seek to see others through Christ's eyes and pray for wisdom and guidance in how we open the conversation. Unless we pray for the others' heart to be softened so that they "hear" us without having walls of defense lifted. Unless we genuinely care about the people we're speaking to. Unless we put our thoughts and desires second to Christ's.

Easy Peazy Lemon Squeezy.

Not really. One of the hardest things I've ever done. And there is no room for pride. I'm usually so busy tripping on my own pride and rehearsing all the reasons why I am better than the other person that I fail to offer the Love that makes these conversations effective and genuine.

Today I'm making a decision to seek God's will first and pray that I can swallow my massive pride in these situations and know that I am protected by God when I engage in these conversations--if He is truly leading me to them. If it's just my own nebby-ness or selfish ambition, that will be sorely evident the moment I open my mouth.

I'm not so hot at this. In fact, I am a HOT MESS at this. But I think it's part of what God has been working on in me for the past...forever. One of the reasons He has made me fall silent on the blog. In that time, I have had some situations pop up in my life that offer me an object lesson in this. And I hate it. As far as tests from God, I'd much rather be offered a mirror and be told to make "fog" than given a comprehensive Final on everything I've learned from the beginning. But God is nothing if not thorough.

So...here I go. Weaving my way through this minefield of relationships using faith.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Put A Comma In Your Life

com·ma

  [kom-uh]  noun
1.
the sign (,), a mark of punctuation used for indicating a division in a sentence, as in setting off wordphrase, or clause, especially when such a division is accompanied by a slight pause or 
is to be noted in order to give order to the sequential elements of the sentence. 


I had a comma in my blogging for a little over a month. It was so long that I worried it would be a period. 

But through different scenarios over the past month or so, I'm learning to appreciate adding a comma to certain situations and to my life in general. 

A pause.

A moment (or hours, days, weeks...) to collect myself, assess, and most importantly pray. 
Pray for wisdom and guidance. Pray for discernment. Pray for all involved. 

It's too easy to snap and react. Sometimes emotions get the best of me and I react rather than respond. 

I want to be someone who responds in a measured, non-manipulative, non- confrontational way. Trying to diffuse rather than incite. 

Not everyone feels that way. I'm learning that not everyone cares when their biting comments or overtly mean actions affect someone else. 

Sometimes it's necessary to address these people and sometimes, it's a better use of your time, energy and effort to let it go. 

Now...determining which time to do which thing is hard. At least for me. 

I found this pin on Pinterest and it resonated with me:

And this one:


And I have decided that I will use that metaphorical comma to not only weigh and measure my actions and responses, but also to evaluate who is actively in my life and who is taking my energy. 

I wrestled with whether cutting people out is Biblical or something Jesus would do...and then I remembered Jesus telling His disciples: 

"When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way." Matthew 10:12-14, MSG

Jesus also was known to retreat from everyone and go be alone when the crowds got to be  too much. I'm hardly in the same position, but there are definitely times when there are too many people sapping me of energy with demands, expectations, and poor treatment. 

I am finding that it is not selfish, but necessary to remove them from my life or remove myself from theirs in order to focus on my family, in order to be the wife and mom I'm called to be. When I don't, when I allow myself to continue being treated or spoken to in a negative and damaging way, I internalize it all and that ends up coming out on those who are closest to me: My husband gets a crabby wife, my kids have to deal with a mom who is unglued and it breeds chaos and strife in our house

I'm certainly not against reconciliation or working through things. If I was, I'd have no relationships in my life at all. But, like in the image above, when someone is repeatedly treating me in a way that is harmful and has zero desire or makes no attempt to change or even acknowledge your feelings, something has to give. 

So, from now on, in that situation, I am choosing  to shrug my shoulders and move on. Not making a scene, but going on my way. 

And pray for those who I am walking away from.

I cannot fix every problem and I cannot address every issue when it's one-sided or when the other(s) involved don't wish to hear. But God can and He will in His timing.

Walking away or distancing myself does not mean that I wish them ill will or that I have to be rude or beat a drum down the middle of Main street announcing the separation. It just means placing distance in between and drawing a boundary. And it doesn't have to mean forever.

So if you are someone who is struggling in this area, I encourage you to pray for God's guidance. Pray asking Him to help you see in what areas you may be contributing to the conflict. And pray for Him to reveal to the other parties involved their part as well.  

And know that you are not alone. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Got Nothin'

I have been away. More than a month, I think.

I've sat down about 100 times, it seems, to write and...nothin'.

It's not that I don't have things on my mind or things I'm thinking through, but I have started at least 4 separate blog posts and abandoned every single one after a few paragraphs.

I don't know why, but I am having some kind of internal struggle about what to say and how to say it. I am fighting that voice inside that says "Who are you to think you have anything at all to say? How self-important are you that you write a blog and have the nerve to post a link to it on Facebook and Twitter?"

There have been some great conversations between myself and others that have lit a fire inside me and I think, "That would be a great blog post!"

Only to have it fizzle and die in no time.

So, this entire post here is to say how much I have nothing to say.

Poignant, I know.

I just miss you...all 3 of you that read. ;)

I miss talking through things on here and hopefully letting others know they are not alone in the everyday stuff that can bog us down.

I miss having a coherent thought come together on paper (or in this case...in helvetica size 12 font).

So, if you could pray that I will figure this out? That would be so awesome. I have constipation of the mind right now and it is awful.

I know God is working on something in me...and whether I'm just slow in getting the message or He's simply taking His time...I don't know.

But I would sure appreciate any intercession!

Thanks in advance!

xoxo

~Mandy

Thursday, September 26, 2013

24 SUPER EASY Steps To Potty Train Your Child

This is a glorious day...we kicked potty training's bootay.

Sort of.

I think. 

M, our 4 year old, is finally potty trained. (And no, that's not a typo. He really is 4 years old.)

No more pull-ups.

No more soiled undey-wears.

No more stern conversations extolling the virtues of peeing and pooping on the potty.

No more bribes incentives to stop "going" in his pants.

WOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

And I DON'T want to brag, but if you want to know how we did it; it's simple.

Here is our easy, no-fail plan to potty train your child lickety split:

24 SUPER EASY STEPS TO POTTY TRAIN YOUR CHILD BEFORE COLLEGE

1) Begin with much excitement and fanfare! Sit them on the potty regularly and praise them each and every time they sit--even if they do not actually "go" on the potty.

2) Invest in pull-ups to let them feel like a "big kid".

3) Set a timer and dash to the potty every 10-15 minutes, continuing to build excitement.

4) With the first drop of pee that hits the potty, call every relative on the planet and share the "big news".

5) Allow your child to run around bottom naked so as to skip the (surprisingly lengthy) activity of removing pull up when the timer goes off.

6) Read every book in your extensive child's library in an effort to make potty time more "fun". And then repeat 672 times in a 10 minute period.

7) Grit your teeth and assure your child that you aren't angry when they pee on the kitchen floor (after you just finished sitting on the potty for the 1 millionth time).

8) Cry out to Jesus the fifth time your child poops on the floor exactly 1 nano second after they sat on the potty for 30 minutes.

9) Smash that friggin timer with a sledge hammer Make a conscious decision to no longer pressure your child with a timer.

10) Buy "big kid" underwear so that your child can "feel" when they pee and to offer incentive to pee in the potty.

11) Hold in the animalistic, guttural cry as you throw away yet another pair of newly purchased "big kid" underwear with poop in them (mama ain't cleaning those...)

12) Offer your little guy a pony, a new car, a stack of cold. hard. cash.--ANYTHING-- if he will just for the Love of God GO POTTY ON THE POTTY!

13) Use every activity imaginable to encourage potty training (i.e. "You can't take swimming lessons/play soccer/sleep over at Grandma's/play Minecraft/get a Happy Meal/See Big Time Rush in Concert/hang glide... if you don't pee and poop in the potty..."

14) High five when little Susie actually starts going on the potty!

15) Pull yourself up off the floor, where you've been laying in the fetal position Tell yourself it's okay when Susie starts having "accidents".

16) Muster up every bit of sunshiney encouragement you can to tell little Johnny ONE MORE TIME that you aren't mad he'd rather play than tell you he has to go potty--while you scrub the couch...again.

17 Seriously consider lining every square inch of your house with plastic. This scrubbing bull is for the birds.

18) Write 15 blog posts and 75 Facebook status updates about HOW MUCH YOU HATE POTTY TRAINING.

19) Ratchet down your raving lunatic-ness and take deep, cleansing breaths. How hard can potty training be?? Start your Stuart Smalley self-talk: You're a college grad. You run a business. You've done it several times already. You're a GOOD PERSON!!...

20) Consider yourself an absolute failure. For the love, you're 36 years old, have 3 older potty-trained children...WHY IS THIS NOT WORKING?? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? I'm A FAILURE! 

21) Resign yourself that part of packing up your young lady for college and maybe even preparing her dowry will include Dora Pull ups. Underwear are overrated. Her husband should really lover her for who she is...

22) Give up. Eat chocolate and go about your life.

23) Realize one morning that Johnny hasn't had an accident in more than a week!

24) Celebrate and gloat and write a blog post about Susie being potty trained.

There you have it...super duper easy peasy!

I promise you, if you follow these easy steps, you'll have your child potty trained in
NO TIME
by the time kindergarten starts
before they graduate
in time for college.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sometimes It Takes More Strength To Let Go


In an effort to "keep it real" here, this is another post on the heels of an amazingly crappy situation where I am not so proud of myself.

I've run this past Joe first to get his blessing because while I definitely want to keep my posts authentic, I also want to protect my marriage and family. I want to find a balance between giving an accurate presentation of life while also being respectful of my husband and careful to not paint him in a negative picture.

With being a part of the Launch Team for the Women Living Well book by Courtney Joseph, I am reading a ton about being my husband's helpmate.

Many women are rolling their eyes or have already tuned me out at the phrase.

I am by no means a Norma Rae, but that term kind of turns my stomach a bit too.

I picture a subservient, 50's housewife in her dress, frilly apron and heels, baking cookies and making a roast from scratch while dusting and organizing a bake sale for the PTA. Nothing wrong with that per se...if that's what you choose.

And I have seen the verses in Ephesians about wives submitting to their husbands used and abused far too many times.

But, in Courtney's book, I am learning that it is often WORLDS harder to submit, or support my husband than it is to take the lead. Submitting doesn't have to mean being weak.

Taking the lead is easy for me.

Unfortunately.

That leaves Joe absolutely no room to be the leader of our family.

So he doesn't lead.

And then I get resentful that he isn't leading.

Then that causes problems.

And we enter this ridiculous, vicious cycle.

And when there are problems in one area of our marriage, there will most definitely be problems in other areas.

Last night was a beautiful example of that.

Joe is handling our checking account and bill paying right now. I used to do it, but it got to be too stressful. Long story short: It is not one of my areas of giftedness.

With that task comes the responsibility of keeping us in line as far as spending.

To me, that means I hear "No" a lot.

And I hate to hear "No."

I'd like to think I am diligent in trying to be a Godly woman in a lot of ways, but as soon as I hear "no" or "not right now" I turn into a 3 year old toddler who had her lollipop taken away.

Right on down to the stomping foot, snotty nose, clenched fists, and yelling.

I'm a tantrum-er.

So, in an effort to stay within budget, and to continue my hobby of furnishing our home with nice things, I scour Craigslist and Freecycle.

I found a great dresser on Freecycle that is only about 20 minutes away. F R E E.

That's definitely in the budget.

I excitedly told Joe about my find last night, only to have him grimace and roll his eyes.

Well, that immediately made me want to put my fist through the wall. (I go 0 to 100 in 5.2 seconds.)

Not only does he not love when I volunteer him on his day off, but the gas it will take to go get the item kind of nullifies the "free" part of my find.

And even though I understood that...I was still furious.

So I pouted and fumed and stomped around...maybe slamming a few doors and drawers in the process.

I told myself all the ways Joe was ridiculous and unsupportive and constricting. I prayed out loud about my frustrations and being tired of penny pinching and being frugal.

And I did all this in our BEAUTIFUL, LARGE home, surrounded by our 6 gorgeous, healthy children, and driving to the store in our NICE, FULLY LOADED minivan.

In fact, while I was driving, I had to turn down the radio because a commercial came on about starving children.

Surely I don't want to be bothered about that because I'm carrying on to God about a dresser I want. That I plan to use as decoration. Or to put the MASSIVE amounts of clothing that my children own in.

Yes, I'm embarrassed right now.

I cried and lamented some more and then when I got home, I was planning on giving Joe the silent treatment for the rest of the night. I went in the house and found him in the living room.

And I walked over to him and said, "Thank you for being so careful and watching our money."

And I wanted to look around at who had just spoken.

That is NOT what I had in my heart to say.

But thank God...literally...that I didn't say what I wanted to.

Let me stop for a minute and explain that this is no reflection on Joe. We watch our spending (or rather HE watches our spending) because we want to be smart. We lived too long with spending on what we wanted and then worrying over what we needed. Silly.

Over the past several years, we have worked our BUTTS off to pay down thousands of dollars in debt and clear up our credit substantially.

Joe works HARD and makes a great living. We have LOTS of extras and we have never gone without.

So, to treat him like we're one paycheck away from living in a cardboard box is a wild exaggeration. But that doesn't stop me sometimes. 

And I realized...again...that it really doesn't matter how well I think Joe is doing at "leading" or being a husband...what matters is ME and my actions.

I have no control over whether or not he rubs my shoulders when I have a headache or hugs me when I say I've had a stressful day. My actions don't depend on whether or not he swoops in with flowers and a pizza saying. "I know it's been a tough day, so I brought dinner home." (Although he is very good about keeping me in fresh flowers.:)

I can still choose to speak to him respectfully. I can still let my actions tell him I love him even if I'm frustrated with him.

I can choose to have a conversation about the areas I'm struggling in rather than throwing a tantrum.

I know all these things...now putting them into practice....yeah.....that's the tough part.

But I'm finding (although this shouldn't be rocket science) that the more I speak to him respectfully and listen, the easier it is for us to communicate. Surely his isn't an easy job. He has the full load of stress on his shoulders to support our family financially.

When he looks at our beautiful children, he sees not only their amazing, smiling faces, but 6 mouths to feed, 3 sets of eyes with glasses (and surely 3 more...), 6 sets of teeth that will most likely need braces, 12 feet that need shoes at an alarming rate, 6 kids who want to participate in activities...and those activities seem to cost more each season, 2 bottoms that need diapers and wipes, 1 million gallons of milk, a home that needs paid for, heated and electricity, a van and a truck that need gas, and a wife who wants all kinds of things for the home. And a Coach bag.

And I'm sure he just wants to crawl in bed and pull the covers over his head sometimes.

And...you may be thinking..."So....it's all up to me to make him feel respected? What about all the times he..."

Yeah, I'm thinking it too.

I hate it. 

I hate that I can't make my affection and respect contingent on his actions. There are times when I feel he is downright cold to me. (And I am to him as well.) Why do I have to do the right thing regardless of what he does?

Because I cannot control him.

But I can control myself.

And in the end, even if he's being a butt head, my life will actually be easier if I don't stir the pot by being a butt head back.

Eloquence, I know.

And hopefully he'll find a blog post somewhere telling him how he should rub my feet unasked or surprise me with organizing an evening out--even getting a babysitter (usually my task).

Until then, I have my part to do.

And stink to high Heaven as it may sometimes...I'll do my best to do it.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Are You Stuck?

Something has been stuck in my head lately.

Something I think I'm supposed to share, so maybe it's in your head too? Or needs to be?

Are you good enough?

Do you ever wonder how someone could love you? How someone could ever think good thoughts about you? Or if you deserve any good things in life?

Are your thoughts more vague and you maybe think things like, "If that person knew the REAL ME/What I've done/What I've said/What I believe/How I really feel, etc etc...he or she wouldn't like me/find me worthy/accept me/want to be my friend/love me..."

When you get a compliment, do you shrug it off and go out of your way to point out the opposite about yourself?

Are you in a pattern of thinking and acting in a way that you self-promote to seek attention and point out all the ways you are awesome?

Do you accept less than what you deserve because someone else has told you your worth is less? Maybe not in words, but in actions?

Do you live with destructive actions and thought patterns that derive from somewhere, someone or some event that you may or may not be able to identify, but that leave you reacting in the same way every single time they're triggered?

Are you often in conflict with others or yourself?

I can answer yes to many if not most of these.

And I think the tendency is often to figure it out. Get to the bottom of it. Find the root cause.

But you know what...I don't believe that is always...or even EVER...necessary.

Just as we don't have to "understand" what makes us a certain way or react in certain fashions, we also don't have to throw up our hands and say "that's just the way I am."

Because that is only partly true.

Maybe that is the way you ARE...right now...this very second, but you do not have to stay there. No one is forcing you to stay in that place; to repeat those destructive thoughts and actions, to damage relationships, or continue digging yourself into a hole of self doubt.

Before you start thinking this is getting too self-help-y sounding, please understand that I am having this conversation with myself, "out loud" so that maybe someone else can benefit too.

I have had some substantially crappy things happen in my 36 years of life. Substantially crappy.

And for a long time, I allowed the pain and hurt of those events to dictate who I was and how I felt about myself and even how I treated others.

I got caught up in all of it: the drama, the hurt, the revenge, the rebellion, the "Eff it all" mentality. And it almost destroyed my spirit. It ruined many relationships, and burned many bridges. Some of those relationships I have been able to mend and others, sadly, I don't think ever will mend this side of Heaven.

I came to a point where I was sick and tired of being caught in a revolving door of emotion and angst. I was miserable, and I attributed that misery to all that had happened to me.

I put myself square in the victim seat and buckled in for the long haul.

It's easy to do when you have been victimized.

But the glorious truth is that being victimized does not have to equate to being a victim.

Huh?

Stay with me.

To me, a victim is weak and wounded, and utterly vulnerable.

I don't want to associate any of those things with who I am or how I feel or DEFINITELY how others see me.

Granted, it was not an overnight thing, and I did nothing myself--God did it all--but I am now better about seeing my self worth through my past or others' eyes. I see it through God's eyes. Most of the time. :)

I am a work in progress.

So whatever it is for you...whatever is holding you down and trapping you in a thinking pattern or a behavior...repeat this to yourself, "I don't HAVE To stay here."

It's like going to get your hair done...

Brace yourself for an "amazing" analogy to follow...

When you are turned away from the mirror and the stylist is working on your hair, you have absolutely no idea what you look like. They could shave you bald, give you a mo-hawk or dye your hair purple...you would be none the wiser. It is not until you look in the mirror and see what has been done that you realize what you now look like.

I think what I'm talking about now is a lot like that...

It's not until you realize that your past does not control your present or your future that you start to view yourself differently.

Sometimes after I get a hair cut, I "forget" that my hair is now short. I anticipate the brush staying in my hair longer and I'm surprised when it slaps me in the shoulder.

Like that...even after we have realized we are different, we can sometimes get caught up in routine and "forget" who we really are.

I keep thinking about some of the people in the Bible who were less than stellar examples of person-hood, but God used them and used them mightily.

Rahab-was a prostitute. She was a single mother. She was, by all standards of her day and by many's standards today, a loser. A misfit in society, a whore, used, garbage, unworthy. You get the idea.

But who is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus? Rahab. (Matthew 1:5)

Not only was it unheard of to list a woman in lineage, but she was listed in the lineage of JESUS. :)

She was saved from the destruction of her town because she helped God's people. That's it. There was no dramatic falling to her knees and reciting all of her indiscretions (maybe that happened later, I don't know for sure), but the part the Bible concentrated on was that she was willing to do the right thing. She didn't talk herself into repetitive and destructive thoughts or actions because of her past or who others said she was. She didn't list all the ways she failed and how she couldn't possibly be worthy...

I've mentioned David before, but come on... how can you not mention this guy.

I mean, he was shepherd boy turned King and then he had an affair with a married woman, and THEN he killed her husband to cover up his affair...he was hardly a magnificent example of a perfect life. Yet he was called the man after God's own heart.

Samson? Huge guy. Super duper strong. And apparently he liked himself some girlies.

And not only was he a fan of the ladies, but he was apparently a slow learner as well since his girlfriend, Delilah, asked him the secret to his power so many stinking times. Why he caved the last time and TOLD HER even though every time she thought she had the right answer, she sicced the Philistines on him, is beyond me...yet Samson was still regarded enough by God to have his strength restored one last time to kill the Philistines.

My point in this...is that you are NOT STUCK. You do NOT HAVE TO stay "where you are."

Whatever it is that is poisoning you...whatever happened to you in the past...whatever other people say about you...whatever load of crap you are telling yourself about YOU...it means nothing. NOTHING.

Stop giving it the power it should not and does not have to have!

Look at yourself through the eyes of Jesus. He knew you before you were even created (Psalm 139:13), He knew every single thing you would do, good and bad, before you would do it, He has plans for you and has had those plans since you were born (Jeremiah 29:11), And He CHOSE to die for you...knowing that you are imperfect and would screw up--in big ways and in small.

It may not be easy and it may not be quick, but just realizing that you are not held captive is enough to change your perspective and give you encouragement to make a change. It starts with prayer and with allowing your value and image to come from One place. God.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Shaky-Kneed-Fall-On-My-Face Weary

Disclaimer:

Earlier this week I was feeling pretty low. I was struggling with relationship issues and the frustration that we are all a mess: The whole lot of us, in one way or another. I have a situation that I'm not sure how to handle--or worse-- that I KNOW how to handle but it's uncomfortable at best. And then, as it happens, when there is ONE BIG thing on my mind, seventeen thousand LITTLE things pop up that multiply the weight of the ONE BIG thing exponentially. And I was a bubbling cauldron of emotion. I was ready to go all Bruce Banner up in here. So that's the state of mind I was in when this post was born. I was at that place where I couldn't possibly "take" one more thing. My internal thermometer was approaching "BLAST OFF" and I was hanging by a precious little thread. So, kindly look past my venom as I share my heart. I want to keep this blog as authentic as I can. And not every day is filled with butterflies and rainbows, with witty posts about my harmonious life. Some days TOTALLY suck. This post was written during a string of those sucky days. :)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).

That sounds so nice.

But then I read the Message version and I was blown away.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."

Am I tired? Oh yes.

Worn Out? Absolutely!

Burned out on religion? A thousand times, YES!

I am all of those things.

And here's where the shiznit gets REAL on this blog.

I am more than physically tired. I am more than the fatigued and worn out that everyone gets from the demands of everyday responsibilities.

I am weary. I am shaky-kneed-fall-on-my-face weary.

From this thing called life.

From the delicate back-and-forth mechanism that makes up this universe.

I am worn out and disenchanted with relationships and all that is required to maintain them.

I am sick and tired of religion that says "wear your mask, check off the boxes, and everyone will think you're a 'good' Christian."

I am absolutely nauseated at religion that says "put your money in the envelope, volunteer for this ministry, sign up for this Bible Study, use all the catchphrases like 'Jesus Saves!' and disregard the black hole in your heart.

I am so over "commitment" that fits in every other Tuesday from 1:00 - 1:15, and only when it's convenient.

And I am infinitely exhausted over those who hide behind scripture usage, blog posts exalting the Word of God, and Pinterest Pins of scripture pinned by the 100s, yet there is no fruit--no tangible outward expression of the virtues being posted to Facebook, Tweeted or pinned on their Pinterest board.

I am sick to death of struggling against my human nature which wants to lash out and call those out who profess one thing but act quite another. Against those who others look up to, but it is so obvious that their lives bear little or no fruit--they don't walk their talk.

I am disheartened to read blogs written by those professing to be Christians (Blogger A) who publicly bash other bloggers (Blogger B), even questioning Blogger B's relationship with God, because Blogger B does not use the same writing style as Blogger A. All the while, Blogger A's posts are filled to the brim with condescension, holier-than-thou "wisdom" fraught with legalism that turns my stomach and makes me wonder how many seekers clicked the 'X' in the upper right hand corner of their screen before actually getting to meet Jesus.

I am road weary like the marathoner who hits the wall at the 22 mile mark. My legs are locking up and I look like Gumby.

I just want to walk away. Turn my back. Not give it or them one more second of my time or energy.

I am desert-thirsty for authenticity.

For those who are real enough to look you in the eye when there's a conflict. Who will respond when you reach out. Who will join together to glorify God even at the expense of self.

I am craving "REALness" and actual, bonafide relationship.

I am crippled in knowing how to deal with others and their weaknesses, struggles, and shortcomings when one of my own weaknesses, struggles and shortcomings is in dealing with those who refuse to be real. With those who refuse to communicate honestly.

I am stuck in an obsessive pattern of thought about all these things and what I want to say versus what I should say.

I am incapacitated by constant second guessing and rehashing. And with seeing too much of myself in the very things I am ranting about.

With knowing that I can't utter one single word against those that I just described because I've walked that path and acted those same ways too many times.

I am beaten down over the inner battle to ask WWJD and simultaneously not giving a flipping care what Jesus would do.

I don't want to be the bigger person. I don't want to chase others any longer. I don't want to beg for community. I don't want to have to decode what someone could have meant when he said this or when she said that. Or wonder why she didn't respond when I said this or why he didn't answer when I asked that.

I am weary and burdened.

And I want to rest in Jesus, but what does that mean? What does that look like? How can I practically apply that?

Does that mean allowing others to continue in the same manner? In a way that's hurtful and absolutely anti-community? Does that mean sweeping things under the rug when the other party refuses to have a conversation? What if that person is a Believer? How do you respond when someone who professes to wear the banner of Christ continues to act in a way completely opposite of Christ-likeness?

Those conversations are hard and I don't want to have them. I don't.

I hate confrontation. I hate conflict.

And making it even harder is when the parties involved refuse to participate in any kind of a clearing of the air.

And in the midst of this seething, I usually try to look within myself at the "plank" in my own eye before pointing out the "speck" in another's...and, at the end of the day, I want to do the right thing. I want the right attitude. I want the right reactions. I want to wear grace and kindness and humility.

But what an amazing strain that is to wrestle with the flesh that also wants to put my fist through the wall.

ARRRRRGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know the right things to do:

Seek Justice
Love Mercy
Walk Humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Easier said than done.

I'll try.

I'll pray.

I'll ask to see others through the eyes of Jesus.

I'll ask to see myself through the eyes of Jesus too...and through the eyes of others.

I'll [try to] hold my tongue unless whatever I have to say is edifying and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16).

I'll [try to] not grumble against my brothers and sisters. (John 6:43)

And I'll do a whole lot of asking for wisdom since I'll be doing most of this with a ton of [mental] kicking and screaming. (James 1:15)

Are you weary of these things too? Are you tired of warming a pew, but your heart feels cold? Are you tired of lips that quote scripture while hands are tucked safely in pockets? Do you want to drop the masks we all wear in the effort to play the part? Do you ever want to stand up and say, "I'm a hot mess, but Jesus loves me anyway. I have bad habits, I say things I shouldn't, I avoid certain situations like the plague, and I have a ways to go...but I'm saved! And I want to be different!"?

Me too.

I am a hot mess...a kelvin degree hot mess. (Did that even make sense??)

But I want to do this thing the way it was intended...the way Jesus did it.

Not the weak-looking Jesus you see in paintings.

The Jesus who had dirty finger nails, sandles caked with mud and camel dung, and a heart like no other.

I want to follow the Jesus who was homeless. Who had nowhere to lay his head. Who washed his disciples' feet...feet that were also caked with mud and camel dung.

The Jesus who lowered Himself to the role of servant. Who knew He was going to die, but did it anyway to save us. Who was so freaked out about what was to happen to Him that he sweated blood, He cried out to God to save Him, but most importantly He did it anyway.

I want to look to Him who has "been there" to know how to continue on.

And I want to be like the guy who made community with the "low-lifes" of society: the thieves, the prostitutes, the unmarried mothers, the dirt balls, the murderers, the poor, the crippled, all those considered outside the "right" social circles. Who ate dinner with them at their houses, who spoke kindly to them when the religious leaders and all others shunned and them. The man who knew His time was best spent ministering to those who had a hole in their hearts and didn't know about God's FORGIVENESS even though God's LAW had been shoved down their throats. The man who chose to GO OUT into the world rather than stay at home and brush elbows with those who He felt most comfortable with.

I want to emulate the man who didn't back down from His commitment to God's plan even when He was ridiculed, ostracized, beaten until you could see bone, whipped, beaten some more, nailed to a cross, abandoned by his friends and family and left to die alone, naked while the whole community looked on and spat at him, raffled off His clothes and made fun of Him.

And I have a WAAAAAAAAAYS to go to get to that point.

I am a failure in so many ways.

But I believe it starts with us and works into our inner circles.

If we can emulate Jesus in our everyday activities and interactions with those closest to us, we can affect our "4 walls"--who can, in turn, affect each of their inner circles.

And what may start as a drop of water in a pond can ripple into a whirl pool in an ocean.

And it starts with one step...one decision to be different...to be Real.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Women Living Well, The Book!

Hi all!

I come to you a little out of breath and very, very excited about being selected to participate in the Women Living Well Book Launch!

Woo Hoo!!!!!

Women Living Well is written by Courtney Joseph of--you guessed it--Women Living Well.

If you don't remember, I met Courtney at the Women Living Well Conference this summer. I very nearly hyperventilated when she took the stage, and almost peed my pants when I actually got to meet her.

I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy of her book at the conference and then found out there was a book launch team for bloggers.

I screamed when I got the email saying I was in and I did a happy dance when I realized the excruciating minutes I spent filling out the application were not in vain. One section on the application asked what my favorite movie was.

I agonized over this for far too long. Naturally, my mind went blank and all I could think of were inappropriate titles like "Dirty Dancing" or titles that seemed like they were trying too hard like "The Passion of the Christ." "Weekend at Bernie's" actually flitted through my mind too as a homage to Rachel Green on Friends. And none of those are my actual favorite movie.

So, having a brain fart, I texted Joe and asked him what my favorite movie is.

He replied, "The Notebook?"

I said, "I've never even seen that movie."

Joe and I are *like this*. HAHA!

Anyway...his suggestion actually got me to thinking...and I chose "The Vow."

And not just because Channing Tatum is in it,

But because I LOVE the premise!

I cannot even imagine going into a coma and awakening to not remember my husband.

Or what it would be like to suddenly have a stranger profess their undying love to me.

But I DO know the feeling of looking across the table at the man who I have known for years and suddenly feel like we are speaking 2 different languages or like we are not as close as we used to be.

Changes come, life happens, kids' needs get put first and suddenly, you find yourselves playing on your iPads and iPhones during the few minutes alone you get together at night. "Down time," "me time," and "couple time" all get scrunched into the same time frame and one of us always ends up falling asleep on the couch while we watch TV and "spend time together." It doesn't take too many of those nights to dampen the flame.

So...back to Courtney's book...

I  knew I was going to love it from the get go because I already love her blog.

The first chapter alone had me. Courtney is very practical as she explains God's Word and how it applies to her life in particular and to Believers' lives in general. One thing I L O V E D was how she gave practical applications to the principals she was speaking about. For example, when she writes about fasting, she doesn't give a vague overview with scriptures referenced. Instead, she explains WHY we fast (and offers scripture to support that reasoning) as well as explaining that the hunger pains we feel during fasting serve as a reminder to pray. Every time we feel hungry and start to wish we could eat, we need to turn to God in prayer. Relying on Him and only Him to get through the hunger pangs strengthens our relationship with God and gets us on our knees before Him more often.

Then I hit chapters 4 & 5 on marriage.

Wow.

Talk about the dichotomy of salivating while I'm reading; unable to get enough of her wisdom ALONG WITH having a hard time swallowing the advice she is giving as far as allowing husbands to be the head of the home and sharing ways we can be the helpmates we were intended to be.

Most 21st century, modern women would be tearing her clothing and groaning in anguish at Courtney's suggestions. Because, as Courtney says, "To a modern woman of today's culture, Christian marriages may look as though they are caught in a time warp. We cannot expect those who do not believe in God's Word to understand" (p. 68).

And it's true.

Her thoughts on marriage, underscored with scripture, are considered archaic by today's standards.

But I find the times I treat my husband with respect are the times we get along better. The times I lash out in anger are the times we are back at square 1, angry and resentful at one another.

I'm only to chapter 7 so far, but I am already learning so much from this book.

Act now and Courtney has some goodies for you!!



I hope you'll order the book. I also hope you'll check out Courtney's Blog and get to know her a little better; her bubbly personality, her giggle, and most importantly, her love for the Lord, her husband, and her family.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Soldier On, Cowgirl, In The Face Of Conflict

Sometimes being on this planet is so very hard.

Too many people with too many personalities and too many perspectives.

Some days feel good and I veritably skip through the day, linked arm in arm with God feeling like, "We got this, Lord."

Other days...weeks...it's more like He's dragging me by the ankle as I slide along, face down in the dirt.

And the very things that felt so footloose and fancy free the day before are now an albatross around my neck.

Fellowship, friendship, kinship--whatever we call it--can be so rich and so fulfilling.

No one loves a good belly laugh with tears streaming down the cheeks more than I do.

I love being with someone whose company I enjoy, learning about and from each other.

And then the real world happens and conflicts arise and I spin in a circle trying to figure it all out.

I second guess myself and start and stop at least a half million times.

How do I handle this situation? How should I say this? How will they take it when I say that? Am I being selfish? Do I have all the pieces of the puzzle? Am I being Christ-like in my approach?

And it seems infinitely easier to just sweep it under the rug and try to forget about it...move on.

That works.

For a while.

And then I trip over that big issue that was swept under the rug and there is no avoiding it any longer.

So I remind myself of these things when I am in that predicament:

The battle is the Lord's: 1 Samuel 17:47.

That person/people aren't really the issue: Ephesians 6:12.

There are those who would like nothing more than to turn friend against friend, especially Believers who are friends. And I shouldn't be surprised when these disconnects and negative situations arise. Jesus gave explicit details on how to deal with it when it happens. Matthew 15 is loaded with step-by-step actions to take when there is a conflict among Believers. I struggle sometimes to remember that the way I react to something or someone can determine if the friendship is salvaged or not. I also remind myself to act toward someone in a way I would want someone to act toward me. If someone is wronging me, and I lash out, it will be 10 times harder to mend that relationship than if I act with grace. That's a toughy for me. And I have to remember that the enemy works both ways. He is an equal opportunity destroyer of relationships. While I may see the other party as in the wrong or acting ungodly, Satan is only too happy to paint the picture to the other person that I am in the wrong...or worse...I can jump in feet first, emotions flying and react in a way that is damaging and un-Christ-like. All without Satan's help. :(

And then I think: Prayer.

Prayer feels so feeble sometimes. But I know that is the best way to respond to any situation. Praying opens up communication to God that will open my eyes to the best method for handling any issue. I can also pray for God to soften the heart of the other person so that we can hear one another, without hurt feelings and defenses being raised. It can also work toward restoring someone who is struggling or falling away:

James 5:16, The MSG: "Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with."

So...if you're there right now...a conflict in whatever area of life, whether it's with someone else or within yourself...hold on. Hold fast to your faith and the Word and soldier on, cowgirl...

And "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (Philippians 1:27. NIV).





Monday, August 19, 2013

Road Trip Hangover

First off, FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER!

I come to you today with my third cup of coffee and surrounded by 8 kids (2 neighbors) and lots of un-done stuff.

This past weekend we traveled 3 hours each way to Ohio to visit family and friends.

It was so, so much fun and the kids really had a blast. We jam packed their weekend with great activities and unforgettable memories.

It's postcard-like in the way it sounds, isn't it?

While Joe and I were packing 18 changes of clothes per kid, toothbrushes, 900 lbs of blankets and pillows, enough snacks to feed the Duggars, and somewhere in there---my sanity---I must have missed it when irritability, stress, annoyance, and a short fuse hopped into my bag.

The trip itself was great, but I was bogged down at different times with a crappy attitude. It didn't help that my voice was almost completely gone, so every word I said was said with much concentration. That takes a toll, believe it or not.

Being outside of my "usual" and adjusting to a different environment is tough for the best of us, but for me is really a challenge.

And I nursed some hurt feelings and a bruised ego more than once along this trip.

As I have been stewing on it today, I wanted to "work through it" before writing about it, but instead I think it's good to let you in on it as it's happening. I absolutely HATE when that one person always has the right answer or always has her head on straight, so I imagine there are some of you who may also get sick of reading posts about a lesson learned or a struggle conquered.

Here's where I am struggling right now...how do I respond in a gracious manner when someone hurts my feelings or steps over a boundary? How should I (or SHOULD I) respond when I see someone (close to me) being a hypocrite? When is it (Or IS IT) my place to address a Believer who has lost course?

I mull and simmer until it eats me up. And then I take a deep breath and say "Let Go and Let God." And then I remember how much I hate that phrase.

And just when I was at my wit's end today and angrily clicking the "X" to close out Facebook before I threw the laptop across the room, I read the verse of the day on my Bible App: (Do me a favor and read the whole thing. I know it's long.)

After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant: “Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:1-9 MSG, Emphasis mine)


And I cried because it was a direct message to not give up.

As I was feeling a whirlwind of emotions like anger, irritation, annoyance, hurt, frustration, etc...I was also thinking "who am I to believe I have any kind of ministry? Who am I to think I have anything to offer in the way of wisdom? I am a mess. I fail daily at grace and mercy and forgiveness. I get frustrated easily and harbor grudges. I get on a high horse at times and mentally tick off all the ways I am better than others...

And then this verse crossed my path and I knew it was affirmation that I should not let moments hours days of weakness defeat me. I will fail. Over and over again. Jesus was not silent about that. The true failure comes when I allow those stumbles to derail me completely and listen to the lie that I don't have a story to tell or a lesson to share. 

If you're struggling right now, even if it's been a loooooong struggle: weight loss, smoking, drinking, drugs, your thoughts, your words, your temper, etc...just know you are not alone. Even if someone looks like they have it together on the outside, you can rest assured that they don't. 

The best thing to do when you are smack on the middle of frustration is to realize you have a choice in how you let it affect you. You can either dive in, emotions first, or you can take time to close out all other outside sources and put yourself in the Word. Sometimes that can happen in just one verse. Sometimes it takes longer. God will reach you through His Word. Read until you get peace from Him. Even if that peace is just to be patient and wait on Him. Not all issues get wrapped up in 30 mninutes or less. Sometimes they take a while and require persistence and patience (unfortunately, 2 areas I do not excel in). But I'm learning. And I'm noticing that I can recognize when I start spiraling down that tunnel toward a blow up or toward saying things I'll later regret. I'm still stinking up the joint as far as that goes, but there is IMPROVEMENT! :)

And I hope that encourages someone today! We're in this together.
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