Thursday, September 17, 2015

{Feel, Felt, Feeling}

In my last post, I talked about feelings and how they can sometimes fail us. While that's true, feelings can also serve lots of purposes and vary from person to person, just as reactions to feelings vary from person to person.

When I was in high school, there was a band {and I guess there still is} called Drivin' n Cryin.'
I couldn't tell you anything they sing and, for those who may like them, please don't be offended - they aren't really the point of this post.

I always wondered about that band name.  I mean, have you ever tried to drive while crying? It's difficult at best and sometimes down right impossible. If you've never done it, trust me, it feels kind of stupid in a scary, I-should-probably-pull-over kind of way.

And you know how some people say they can't walk and chew gum at the same time? If that's hard, then try walking, praying, and crying  - it's the triple threat.  

Ask me how I know.

Life has been feeling pretty heavy for me lately. A lot is going on and going wrong {or at least not going right}, and I know I'm not the only one in my family feeling weighed down.

That walk on Tuesday morning was just supposed to be part of my workout but it became a prayer walk {which is something I've never really done before}.
I had to MAKE myself go on that walk but I'm so glad I did.

I'm not the biggest proponent of exercise.  I know it's good for you and all, but you aren't likely to catch me giving people exercise advice.  You could say to me that you were feeling tired and sluggish and it would not be my first response to say, "are you exercising regularly?" {I might ask about dietary habits and your vitamin D intake, though :-)}

Anyway, the "heavy" had just really piled up on Tuesday morning and I was carrying, not only my own heavy, but the heavy heart of my pre-teen daughter.  There is nothing that will tear up a Mama's heart like seeing her child hurting! The walk and workout was almost a way to just move forward rather than winding up a puddle on the living room floor.  

As I walked, I let a lot of things out and hesitate to think what anyone might have thought if they were watching me.  At some points, I was in the throes of the ugly cry and could hardly breathe and a tenth of a mile later I would think I was all done and good.  Then the process would start over as I continued to pray and listen to worship music.

Several verses of scripture came to mind as I walked and prayed and in one of my prayers, my scripture and my prayer melded together.  What came out was "for our good and your glory."
I don't know if I've heard that before somewhere or not; I don't think so.
It was so relevant to me at that moment that I really feel like God sent it to me for comfort.
It's easy to SAY that we want everything in our lives to ultimately be for the glory of God, but it can be hard to live that during trials.  

I can still remember singing this bible verse as a kid:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (KJV)

I also like to emphasize the word "all;" as in "ALL things work together for good..." One little word can make a big difference!

He didn't tell us that only some things work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose, or that only the GOOD things work together for good. He tells us ALL things work together for our good.


That walk that was supposed to be for exercise and then became the makings of a breakdown, actually WAS a triple threat. Not because it was so hard to do those three things at once {oh it was!}, but because, somehow, I accomplished all three and then some.  I covered more distance in less than my usual time; I felt better when I walked back into my house and for the rest of the day; I poured my heart out to God in prayer and my "feelings" weren't quite so tender by the time I was done.

Tuesday was also the day that I posted an early morning prayer request on Facebook; one that was for me and my daughter. Though our request didn't concern the happenings of Tuesday, those prayers were FELT on Tuesday by both of us.

The girl I picked up from middle school just after 3pm was all smiles and very different from the tearful one I'd dropped off that morning.  She told me more than one good thing that happened at school and then said, "I had a really great day!"

Then I showed her all the people that had prayed for her that day, and I could see how touched she was. I heard a "wow" and I heard her swallow hard before asking, "all those people prayed for me!?"

She and I agreed that the power of prayer is real and we like the way it feels! 




Monday, September 14, 2015

Fear is a feeling...

Fear is a feeling and feelings can fail us. I don't know who said that, but I've always liked it and I need to remind myself of it often.

For instance, I haven't written in this space in a very long time.
Today's post on fear is related, at least in part, to that absence.

I've been rolling around these words - what exactly to say and how to say them - for quite some time.

I've composed this post in my head more times than I can count and then promptly lost it because I didn't actually write any of it.

In fact, I've mentally written countless posts since my last actual post, but many of them went unpublished out of FEAR.

I don't want to be a person who lives in fear, acts out of fear, or is thought of as fearful.  I even fear what other people think of me {see what I did there?!}.

It isn't quite Fall yet, but I have to tell you, I feel YEARS removed from the person that I was just 4 short months ago.  This summer was a doozy for me, let me tell you!

For a long time, I've been struggling with my priorities.  I have grown really tired of feeling like too many balls were in the air and that I was destined to drop them ALL at any moment.
It was really weighing on me that my family seemed to get less than my best, consistently.

Last spring, I was praying and praying hard over a certain issue that I just couldn't shake.  I still can't shake it and it's still of the utmost importance to me, but I won't send much time on it tonight - it will have to be a post for another day.  Basically, it's that I feel God has called me to home school my kids.  My husband adamantly disagrees with me at this point and my kids are still in public school. To this day, I still don't believe that God brought me to this decision only to have it cause a conflict in my marriage. So I wait...

One day when I was really frustrated, I remember telling a friend from church, "please don't tell me to pray about it! I can't pray about it any more than I already do and I can't imagine ever praying more about any subject than I have about this one!"

I should've known when I uttered those words that I would shortly be proven wrong.

Over the summer, my prayer life completely changed.  Part of my prayer about homeschooling was that I was being best wife and mother that I could be. That prayer pulled me into a journey over another area of my life and it all came to a head in the first half of August.

While I can't give specific details about it yet, my decision is a big one. It will affect my family, positively, but it will affect some others as well and, my fear is, they will not view it positively.

It's a funny thing about fear, when you realize you are only doing something {or NOT} strictly out of fear, it tends to rock your world a little.  And in my case, it wasn't just fear that kept me doing this, it was a sense of obligation, responsibility, and in some ways selfishness or pride.  The sad truth is, the biggest losers of all in this equation were my family and I lament that fact that it took me so long to see the answer.

I do have responsibilities in this area of my life and in order to complete them, I have to wait to carry out the changes my decision brings.

The last few months and my prayer journey over the summer taught me so much:

  • God definitely has a sense of humor and He will make you eat your words!
  • It IS possible to do a complete 180 degree turn on something and feel completely at peace with it.
  • Fear is a powerful thing with powerful roots: sometimes PRIDE is the root, sometimes a lack of FAITH or TRUST in God is the root. Sometimes it's just trepidation about the unknown. But the reality for me has been that FEAR of giving up this one part of my life, may have kept me from experiencing His blessings for me and my family.
  • I have never given an issue to God the way I gave this one to Him.  Never brought Him something EVERY. SINGLE. DAY with a pure heart and true desire to do His will.  I thought I had, but until now I have never experienced the peace I felt after fervent and consistent prayers and one very tough final decision. 
  • Grace covers so much.  More and more I realize the need for more grace in our world.

This will all make more sense in the coming months when I can give more details about the changes I'm making and the calls I'm answering, but for now my prayer is this (and I pray it often!):

Lord, give me grace!
Grace to accept who you've made me.
To accept that who you've made me, may not be who I was or who I thought I was supposed to be.
Give me grace to merge those two things into one.
Grace to accept your Divine plan for my life.

Grace to give freely to others even when they don't deserve it.
Remind me that your Grace was so freely given to me in my extreme lack of deserving.

Give me grace to love those who will not understand my recent decisions or will see them as selfish.
I pray that my heart to serve You and your purpose for my life will be seen in my daily living.

I also pray for grace in the midst of daily struggles that I don't feel equipped to handle, Lord. I know you must be planning something awesome because there is no way I can do this on my own!



Saturday, April 4, 2015

{On Resurrection and New Beginnings}

We are all broken.

On our own, not one single one of us is whole. 

But there is one, whose sole purpose was to come and fix us. His sole purpose was OUR souls.
Even when you feel like there's no fixing you...Like you're so broken and cracked you must surely be leaving a trail of tiny you pieces in your wake as you move through life. 

Not even then are you beyond Hope - beyond help. 

I've been there more than once in my life. I've thought to myself, "why on earth (or in Heaven), would He die for me? I'm so undeserving and I keep disappointing Him, over and over!"

But you know what disappoints Him more? 
Our inability to give our lives completely to Him. 
The good, the bad, the big, the small, the tiny mundane things that we aren't even sure are "things." 

ALL of it -He wants it ALL. 
And then He wants us to take back our empty hands and trust Him to handle it. He wants us to know deep in our hearts that He will handle it; that He loves us and only wants the best for us. 
He wants us to never come back to the pile we dumped and try to take those problems back. Because doing that means we didn't trust Him to handle it; that somehow we need to help or that we can do it on our own. 

And we can't do it on our own.

I don't say this as someone who knows these things and lives that way everyday.  I say them as someone broken who knows these things and STILL struggles to live as if I know.

Our Maundy Thursday service at church was wonderful, and I've been thinking about it since then.  It gave me a wonderful new perspective on some things as well as some new things to consider.

Today as you think about the immense sacrifice that Christ made for us on Good Friday, prepare your heart to trust Him with all your "stuff." 
Lay it at the foot of the cross.
Better yet, nail it to the cross and never go back for it.

Remember what He did, why He did it, and for whom He did it.  He did it for you, for me, for ALL of us so that we wouldn't be held responsible for the true cost of sin, which we so rightly deserve.

On Sunday morning as you rejoice and celebrate His resurrection, trust Him with all the stuff you've struggled with.  Leave it with Him, turn away from it and start fresh.  After all, a resurrection is a new beginning and in Him we are all new creations.  
Easter Sunday can be your new beginning, no matter what's in your yesterday, your last week, last year, or last decade.

Begin again with His help and His hope.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

{On weekend getaways and bed size...}

Thirteen plus years ago, we went shopping for bedroom furniture for our new house.
The salesman actually tried to talk us out of our choice, stating that the bedroom suite we wanted was usually selected by much older people {wonder if his boss knew he "sold" product this way?}.
But we knew what we wanted, so long as it came with the option of a KING sized bed.

We'd been in a small apartment and an old double bed, which had been mine in college.

We just wanted something with more room and a queen bed didn't seem enough bigger than what we'd gotten used to. 

We love that king sized bed to this day. In fact, my husband, who is actually smaller than me, likes to take up 3/4 of it.  I sleep in a little sliver very close to the edge of my side of the bed.

Often, I try to get in bed at night and find he's in my space.  Not only that, he's cocooned himself in the covers and I have to wrestle them away just to have myself covered.

Now, I'm not trying to speak ill of my husband.  I have to take responsibility for the fact that I stay up much later than him most nights and he has often been asleep for hours before I even come to bed.

Nevertheless, that King bed we were so excited about 13 years ago, has many times felt a little cramped.  When you consider that children have occasionally been in it with us, I think you know where I'm coming from.

Sadly, that whole "never go to bed angry" thing has never held up in our house.  It makes me sad {and a little embarrassed} to say that we have often gone to bed with unresolved issues and hurt feelings.  Times like those, make the bed feel too small.

Which is why last weekend in Atlanta, walking into our hotel room and discovering it was a Double-Double room and not a Double-Queen room, was a bit unsettling.  I personally, would prefer not to be in a room with my kids AT ALL when I'm sleeping.  Call me selfish, but now that my kids are older and usually sleep through the night, I still don't get as much sleep as I'd like and I want to maximize what I can get. Not to mention, I don't get much alone time with my hubby.  When we travel {almost once a month for Sweetpea's dance competitions} I like to have a small suite when possible.  Sometimes we can actually find a suite or a condo for almost the price of a hotel room and it just makes more sense.

When we arrived last weekend, my husband thought it was funny to throw himself on one of the beds and announce, "I don't know where you're gonna sleep, but I got this one covered" as he sprawled spread-eagle on the bed.  He did, in fact, have it covered.  I just rolled my eyes and continued the unpacking.

I resigned myself to a night of uncomfortable sleep as we tried to settle in.  The TV went off and it was lights out for all of us at once; yet another thing I don't like about kids in the room.

But here's what that little bed taught me:

1.) Sometimes comfort or space is a just an excuse for distance, intentional or not.  It's just a fact that when we sleep in a king sized bed, there is often lots of space between us.

2.) Intimacy {closeness, not sex} is increased in smaller spaces.  For most of the night, we had no choice but to "spoon" or sleep with our backs to each other; I'm grateful we chose the former.

3.) There are some things you can get away with when kids are asleep in the next bed - wink, wink ;-)

4.) Couples need time away no matter how busy they are and how much they love their kids.  The foundation of our family exists because I first loved my husband and we had 4 years of "just us" before kids.  We need to remember to regularly schedule a weekend away.  That little bed was like a mini-vacation for us and it led to more closeness for the rest of the trip.  It prompted me to forgive some of his {minor} recent transgressions because I would rather be happy in the moment than lugging around resentment and tension.

5.) I miss my husband.  It sounds crazy to say because I do actually see him everyday.  BUT with a man who works 50-60 hours most weeks, and just wants to eat dinner and go to bed when he comes home, I have to be very intentional about our time together. I can't stop showing and telling him I love him and miss him just because I anticipate no reciprocation or because it gets frustrating. He even went to work on Tuesday and was the only one in his office due to the ice and snow on the ground and roads.  I was glad to know he got there safely, but I also sent him several texts during the day letting him know I missed him and wanted him to come home.

Last weekend's trip *almost* had me wishing we could downsize our bed at home.  ALMOST...

It was a good trip for us.
It was no less stressful than most of these trips are, but somehow it felt different.
I think I owe it all to that little double bed in a Hilton somewhere in Atlanta.

Yes, I know I've been very absent from this space of late.  

I'll address that later. 

Believe it or not, I started a post about 3 weeks ago, 

got one sentence in, and never wrote anything else. 
Chalk it up to winter :-) See you soon!