Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 Days: Day 30 {Crazy Countdown}

I can NOT believe its day 30 of this 31 Days of Writing journey!
Today was one of those days too convoluted to write about in an intelligible manner.
Instead, I reflect back on what've learned through this process so far...

I CAN accomplish more than I thought I could.

Something I started with {mostly} selfish motivation can be used by God to accomplish something bigger.

After 31 {-ish} posts, I still haven't learned to just let words flow from my fingers to the keyboard without second-guessing or editing and over-editing.  I wish it were that easy.

I am NOT brave - yet.

31 Days of writing made my lack of focus on eating and cooking well a MUCH bigger problem.

Cooking is a creative outlet for me so I need to make more time for it.

The human tongue is like a sword; we should all be careful how we use them.

Even when the bottom drops out, the crazy will not actually carry you away.

Music keeps me sane.

I really despise how competitive our society is; it pits friend against each other, women against each other, and husbands and wives against each other.

True, unconditional love is given with the expectation of nothing in return.

Relationships and intimacy were God's gifts to mankind; Satan has been twisting those same things into weaponry since the Garden of Eden.

Under-handed compliments aren't compliments at all.

Sometimes being {Real} is just too hard. I think we must glaze over the harsh reality sometimes to avoid going insane.

People don't change that much in their lives.  I may be a better version of my high-school self now, but I will always be an introvert by nature.  I'm learning to be ok with that.

Being overcome by the Holy Spirit does not feel like I thought it would, but I'm glad I was wrong.

If you had told me as a kid I would love my closest-in-age-brother as much as I do now, I would have laughed hysterically {'til I cried or snorted; maybe both}

One of the most painful things in the world is watching you someone you love drown in emotional pain.  It's the most helpless feeling I know in my life so far.

I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength {Phil 4:13}

GRACE is the most amazing gift ever.

see the moon up there near the top right?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days: Day 29 {Divine "Coincidence"}

I've said before that I don't believe in accidents.

Yesterday morning, Tuesday, I was feeling especially unworthy about my role leading the women's small group Bible Study.

Satan did everything possible to keep me from reading and do my homework for the week leading up to our Tuesday morning study.  It was a busy week and a busy weekend and every time I started to pick up my Bible and book, something happened. 
Misguided priorities...

I scrambled to get all the work done between Monday evening and Tuesday morning after I dropped my kids off at school.

Honestly, by Tuesday morning, I was an absolute wreck. Tired, cranky, and emotional...

It's these times that Satan chants the loudest:

"What do you think you're doing?"

"You aren't qualified for this!"

"Who do you think you're fooling? They're all going to know you aren't really prepared!"

"You are not good enough to be leading anyone!"

When we left the house and pulled out into the world, I turned on the radio.
I utilize the SCAN button quite often.
There are several local stations including country, pop, easy listening/mix that come in very clearly, without fail.  The main hindrance to me listening to a Christian radio station all the time in my car is the reception.

On Tuesday morning, I scanned so long that I started recognizing the only stations coming in clearly were playing the same song.
They were Christian stations and nothing else was clear.  I can't stand static.
After the second time through, I stopped the scan not even knowing what station number it was on; just knowing it must be THE one to listen to right then.

The very next song was this, and it gets me every time we sing it at church:

It's when I am trying to do it all in my own strength that things seem the worst.
I wish I didn't, but I NEED the reminder, that I NEED Him all the time.  And that ALL THE TIME it's ok to need Him, to cry out to Him, to pray.

 "Where sin runs deep, your Grace is more..."

Praise God for that truth!

My sin runs deep, Lord, but your grace covers me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days: Day 28 {Pray Like Crazy}

Last year, I wrote this post.

Last Wednesday night, I sat in choir practice as the choir worked on our Christmas songs.
In the middle of practice, we stopped singing and instead began to share and pray about two major prayer requests.
It was a powerful prayer and I was listening and trying to pray alongside the person who was 
praying aloud.
Suddenly, something came over me as heavy as a weighted blanket.  I immediately felt the need to pray for the person I wrote about in the above post.

In my head, a voice was saying her name over and over and over again.
And so that's what I did for the rest of the prayer time.  I said her name and I prayed for her {as I had many times before}; alternating it with "Lord, I'm not sure what's going on, but you know the need."

This feeling has not happened to me a lot.
Truly, there are no accurate words to describe it.
 Last Wednesday, after it was over, I didn't know what it meant.

On Thursday afternoon, I was eating my lunch and scrambling to finish preparing for a cooking show I had that night.
My phone rang and I looked at the caller ID.
I contemplated not answering.

Did I have time to talk, right now?

I answered the phone.
A family member, the husband of the person mentioned above, was on the line.
As he proceeded to tell me of the hell she's been putting him through, I could only listen and cry quietly.  

He called me for help.
In bits and pieces, and a random back and forth pattern, he shared more back-story and more details than I would've ever asked for. 

I didn't know what to say and I didn't think I could help. In fact, I have only felt that helpless a few times in my life.

He was clearly distraught - heartbroken - wondering why YEARS of praying and loving like Christ loves had still not made things better. Seriously? This man must have the patience of Job...

My prayer for him {for her, really} FOR YEARS has been that she would come to know Christ.
How else could she know the relief of true forgiveness? True love? Her own worth? 

And that old saying - to love someone else, you must first love yourself?
It's very true.

So can you please join me in praying for them both? That she will come to know the only One who can set her free from the bondage of unforgiveness, her feelings of unworthiness, and her inability to love another because she doesn't love herself.

That he will stay strong.  That he will know he is loved by so many, but mostly by the One who can heal his heart and his marriage.  That he will know he is NOT his mistakes; that the One who matters most has long forgiven, long forgotten, and long removed those transgressions as far as the 
East is from the West.

Thank you for your prayers.
I can speak for at least two of us when I say we covet them.

I alluded to the subject of this post in my Friday post. I still must be vague and only share this information in a limited, third person perspective.  There is so much more to the story than I am able to write here.  I do not have permission from the subject of this post to write the entire story and if said subject asks me, I will remove or hide this post as he sees fit.  Prayers are powerful and they can make a difference; please join yours with ours.


Monday, October 27, 2014

31 Days: Day 26 & 27 {Craving the Quiet}

It's noon-ish and I realize I have to leave the house in about 2 hours.
I'm currently in sweats, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, catching up on favorite shows I missed last week, while also "working" from my laptop.
I have no desire to shower and go anywhere, much less see anyone. 

This morning, I packed away Spring scented candles and pulled down my favorite ones of Fall.  Part of my "comfort" is watching them burn as I sit here and enjoy the alone.

This is what happens when introverts like me are forced, by ourselves or someone else, to be OUT for any length of time.
This time it was my 20 year high school reunion that forced me to be more outgoing than is in my nature.

I had fun this weekend and I'm glad I went, but today I just want to hole up and hide. It's sort of like sensory overload, I suppose. I was just SO busy last week Thursday through Sunday on top of my regular weekly happenings that by Sunday evening I just needed some space.
My personal space had been invaded by too many people for too many minutes for 4 long days.

So today was about recovering for me.
I managed to make it through my volunteer time at the school in a cordial manner.  Luckily, I'm there on Mondays mostly to file papers for the teachers and ready the student send-home folders for Tuesday. Talking is minimum and mostly optional {thank goodness}.

Tomorrow morning is another Tuesday and another Bible Study. I still wonder most weeks what on earth I'm doing there?! 
So tonight I pray for a full recovery of my personal space; for my dominant introverted self to feel rested and well.  
Because come morning, I need my less-used leader-side to be "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," as my Daddy would say. 

A task that's easier said than done!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days: Day 25 {Weighing Words}

It's either "yes" or "no;" if you did it, 
say, "yes, I did it."
"Yes, I did it," she said through tears. 

Sweetpea & her brother did something they shouldn't
have, but neither would confess.

As I told her to admit it, I realized I may as well have
been talking to myself again. 

 Not that I've done anything specific but it just
strikes me sometimes how much adults need the
same advice kids do. 

As adults, we say things & then back-peddle,
re-phrase, worry about being "PC," or hurting
someone's feelings. 
By then it's usually too late. 

We post status updates, tweets, & comments in the privacy of our own homes, hiding behind computer screens & online identities. 
 The relief that no one reading our words knows us - really knows us - makes it easier. 

As a parent, I want to make sure my kids know it's always best to "own" your words. 

When you do wrong, confess - tell the truth from the start; they also need to know all actions have consequences no matter how sorry you are. 

There are some things you can never apologize away.

As adults we need to remember that too. Those people we criticize or argue with through computer screens? 

They're real people. 

With real feelings.

And sometimes those words we said have consequences and can't be taken back. 

No amount of "I'm sorrys" will undo the damage. 

So for all of us it's important to think before we speak {or act}. 

I'm all for being authentic, real, and open, but overdoing it often causes hurt. 
Like most things in life, it can be a difficult balance.

I started this blog writing anonymously. Sometimes, I change names and minor details to respect the privacy of those who may not know they are "starring" in my online journal. 

All of this was with the premise that if anyone ever questioned my words or thoughts, I had to stand behind them.
That's why I do weigh my words before I type them.
I edit heavily and sometimes I remove myself from the words I've written so that I can review them with fresh eyes before publishing.

Obviously, this is a recurring issue in my life; I already wrote about it once during this 31 days.
I'm not even sure I know how to adequately make my point that this is a BIG issue.
How do you simultaneously teach your kids to choose their words wisely and not retract them when someone disagrees, yet also stand up for something they believe in?

As a Mom, I can only see one way.
One way that my kids will be great in spite of me 
and my short falls. 
That way is to pray that His blessings will multiply my best efforts.  

I believe He can.

Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days: Day 24 {Choosing the frivolous over the heavy}

I'm pretty sure I should have titled this series "31 Days of worn-slam-out."

'Cause there is just no other way to put it and it ain't over yet. I'm feeling blessed that I can even form sentences at this point.

I know today is Friday, but with regular Wednesday night activities at church, a Pampered Chef cooking show last night, the State Fair with the kids this morning, and a Pampered Chef vendor event tonight, I think this weekend should be over already! Unfortunately, it's just getting started and I see a lazy Monday morning in my future.
On top of all that, my printer died today.  I'm hoping I can fix it, but of course I need to print materials for my event Sunday afternoon. If I can't fix it, that one will be fun to figure out.

My kids don't even have Halloween costumes yet.
I know I'm a slack Mom!
In my defense, I have been trying to find a Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) costume for Sweetpea and have only been successful at finding them in toddlers sizes.
Now, she is small for 10, but not that small!
Every site-to-store option isn't an option because both Target and Walmart are sold out. I haven't tried Party City yet, but on the website the cheapest Dorothy costume is $30!
If I had time, I'd just make her one, but it's a little late for that now.

I don't know what Buddy wants to be; I'm not sure he knows what he wants to be. 

I know what I want to be though...

DONE with October! LOL

Is anybody else having a crazy October?

I know this post probably seems empty and a little lazy.  In truth, it is.  There is some really heavy, emotionally charged stuff going on that I want to write about but I can't wrap my head or heart around it right now.  I find it hard to write about what I can't make enough sense of to form sentences about.  I'm praying about it and hoping, not only for the words to come, but for the outcome I expect from the situation to miraculously be changed for the better.  Please join me in praying for a special person on my life who is suffering a huge heartbreak and it is just broken.  Many months, and possibly years, of prayer have yet to be answered for them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days: Day 23 {Close the gaps}

I wish writing were easier.
The words I wish to write - the ones that sound "just so"; that put a thought into just the right context - they come at the worst times.
When I'm lying in bed, driving down the road, taking a shower - never when I'm actually writing.
If I don't find a way to remember & scribe them shortly after, they're lost in the deep abyss of my ever-crowded mind. 

During any given day, I must think of 5 to 10 different topics I'd love to write about.  Most of them NEVER make it to "pen and paper" and of the few that do,  I end up feeling as if I didn't do them justice.

Lately, I've been thinking about relationships.
All kinds of relationships  - family, friend, romantic. It's a broad topic.

All relationships are important, but there's something else:
Satan can use ANY of them to bring us down.

I don't say that lightly.
Relationships are a big deal. God made us for community and we need relationships to live and function.

Since the beginning of time, when he chose to tempt Eve, {rather than Adam} Satan has been looking, and finding, those tiny openings through which he can slither into our lives & relationships.

He knows just the right thing to say and do to cause a rift - a divide - and sometimes, a sever, in a relationship.

In a previous post, I mentioned how husband's and wives should wish to COMPLETE each other rather than COMPETE with each other.
Satan definitely uses our desire to compete - to be right - to be the favorite - to be in control - as warfare in our marriage relationships.
After all, the world we live in tells us, "women can do anything men can do - better!"
The general attitude is "who needs a man, anyway?"

Do you think anyone is happier than Satan over marriage statistics in our society?!

Satan also knows that words are warfare.
ALL relationships, marriages included, are susceptible, but sometimes I think Satan LOVES to use as words as warfare between girlfriends.
Most of my life, I've been told I was too serious.  Worse than that, I had relatives who loved to say to me, "you're so much prettier when you smile."
Great thing to say to a young girl, right?

And what do you say to that? "Thank you?"
It doesn't exactly feel like a compliment.

Recently, a friend did pay me a compliment on my hair; I have no doubt she had the best of intentions.
I was a little surprised but said something like, "Thank you! I thought I was having a bad hair day!"
To her, I should've left the second part off.
For whatever reason, some people think it's ok to criticize how someone else accepts a compliment and I can't figure that out!
I can appreciate etiquette; I said "thank you."
The second part of my statement wasn't to qualify my "thank you" or make her think I was negating her comment.  It was a statement of pleasant surprise.
Her reaction pretty much took away any good feeling I might have had from her original compliment.  She may as well not have said it.

And its here that I have to remind myself to be careful.
As I said before, I know she meant well.
I also know, these are the little crevices Satan slides into, to create bigger divides.

We all have things we are sensitive about.
Some of us have an easier time letting go of them than others of us do {don't think I'm calling myself someone who easily lets go - I'm not!}.
I would encourage myself, as well as others, to practice letting the little things GO instead of letting them GROW into bigger things. 

Do you have a relationship that needs repair? Did it suffer a blow over something little? Something that should have been let go, but instead grew into something else?

We might not be able to control everything in our lives, but we can be diligent about this one. Close the gaps that let Satan use something little against you.

See? Kind of random-all-over-the-place thoughts.
I wish writing were easier...{big sigh}
at least I enjoy it, right?



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days:Day 22 {Mama's need reminders too...}

"Mom, I do try," she says.  "I try so hard but he makes it so difficult," she cries with tears streaming down her face.

We're standing in the bathroom and I've just finished letting her know in no uncertain terms that the bickering between her and her brother has overstayed it's visit. It stops now.

This Mama is up to here with it!

I don't want to be unfair, and so I hold both of them responsible for what I think they're capable of.
She is ten years old and I expect better of her than constant retaliation, tattling, name calling, and sticking out her tongue at him when I'm not looking.

This has been going on every single morning before school for quite a while now.  Not that mornings are the only times it's a problem...

Of course she thinks I'm being unfair.
"He never gets in trouble," she says.
"He sticks his tongue out at me and you never see but I get in trouble when I do it."

I tell her that's not the point and that the sticking-out-of-tongues is not the issue here and not why she's in trouble {I tell Buddy the same thing a few minutes later}.

I tell her that being kind and treating someone the way you WANT to be treated by them, versus the way you ARE treated by them, is always the right thing.   I ask if she understands this.

"No," she says "I don't. He's never going to be nice to me" as a sob escapes.
At least she's honest and not just telling me what she thinks I want to hear.

I try to explain that sometimes treating someone in a way other than what they expect might have a positive outcome for both of you.

And suddenly I feel like the pot calling the kettle black.

If there's one thing I've learned about my marriage in the last few weeks of this bible study, it's that I can't expect hubby to treat {love} me the way I want him to, when maybe {probably} I'm not treating him the way he wants to be treated {loved}.
I'm a firm believer in the fact that love manifests itself differently to different people.  What feels like love to me, might not to him.

I've gotten the impression before that my hubby thinks I want him to take me places and buy me things.

In reality, what I want is undivided time and attention.  It might seem unrealistic; I am quite aware that the time and attention he gave me before we were married and before we had kids can never be ours again.  We're in a different season of life now.

But life has so many distractions.
I want to feel as if those distractions don't take away from our quality time, which is already so limited.

This morning, I told Sweetpea that being kind and treating someone the way you WANT them to treat you, versus the way they DO treat you, is always the right thing. And I wonder if I understand this.


Why didn't anyone tell me this Mama gig was so hard? That children might teach me when I thought I was trying to teach them? That Motherhood is like a magnifying mirror for my flaws?

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a 
little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by 
various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold 
which is perishable, even though 
tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor 
at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 
1 Peter 1:6-7 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for 
human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the 
Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24