I laughed when I realized how many years it took to discover who I am.... by first zealously exploring who I am not

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sometimes you just need chocolate milk.....

It's almost midnight. I'm waiting for Publix to post their weekly ad so I can finish my price matching list for the week and I'm drinking a glass of chocolate milk that would make Willy Wonka do a double take. And I don't feel guilty about it at all. 

It's been one of those months. I spent the first week in the bed with the flu... which I believe is code for "stand here while we run a MACK truck back and forth over you 100 times". Zachary had it as well. Now Andrew has it and Jeremy can't seem to decide what he's going to do with it. He is in negotiations with the truck. We will see how that goes. I've spent and entire section of my budget on medicine for the entire family because you really need to be medicated while the truck runs you over, it's like a rule or something to make it not last as long, which I don't necessarily agree with. I think we would have been better off with meds that you took and just woke up and went, oh.. it's 2014, I feel great. At the same time, I'm in one of the largest work load classes I've had to date which involves science and lots of words that I will never understand. I'm also dealing with some major school issues with one kid which has involved tears all the way to school and all the way home and several phone calls during the day. I'm in charge of the kids Christmas play at church. Did you know that trying to get 17 kids from ages 3-13 in a row and singing the same song is like herding cats? Needless to say my plate is a little full.  I love everything on it (well, except the flu) but it is full none the less. I'm a paper plate queen. We don't use real dishes in my house. Ever. Like its a crime punishable by doing the dishes by hand. Well I'm at the summer BBQ and the sauce is running off my plate and I need another one under it for stability and I'm fixing to grab the real stuff cause this paper ain't gonna cut it. So in true to myself form I was "discussing" this with a friend. (I say discuss, you say complain. Whatever. Get your own blog and you can "discuss" your own stuff) In the midst of the conversation he says, wow... so many people have so much going on right now. Yep, there it is. The wheels on my pity bus, I mean discussion train start squealing. I'm so selfish. I'm so totally consumed with myself. He's right. Yes, I've spent 200 bucks on medicines, but I had insurance to go to the Dr and money to buy the medicine my family needed. I don't have to watch my child suffer through a horrible fever, etc with no help. I have the capacity to go back to school and finish my degree. All my classes can't be English, but I am able to learn and push through, with an A, even in Biology. And I have chocolate milk. When I just want to have it, it's in my fridge. To be grateful for the simple things. To be grateful for the big things. That is what my focus needs to be on. I told my son today, our day begins before we ever get out of bed. When you choose joy, expecting a good day your day is going to go so much better. We often get what we expect out of life. When we live in a world surrounded by bad things we begin to expect only bad things and suddenly that is all we see around us. We miss the small moments of life. They are whispers amidst the screaming and crying of all that is surrounding us. It's when we make the decision to see them that our perception and focus changes. We have 13 days left in this year. 13 days to decide what we remember about 2013. 13 days to look at life a little differently, to celebrate the season with a little different focus. As for me.... I'm choosing and expecting joy, peace and a glass of chocolate milk.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Brokenness is for the birds

Make me broken.... God use me I want to be broken.... Break my heart for what breaks your heart.... I need you more Lord.... give me more of you......

How many of us have cried this in our hearts? How many of us have sat in a service and said these very words? I have, many times. Over and over and over again. Then today I wrote this in my journal....

God I asked to be broken- I just had no idea what it would look like
^     ^     ^     ^      ^      ^       ^       ^       ^        ^

Brokenness has become a buzz word in church. In fact, I am sitting at my laptop with headphones on listening to "I need you more" by Klaus. Seriously, it's everywhere. And I agree, we need more, we need brokenness. I just wonder how much of us are really ready for what that brokenness looks like. I have discovered that I'm not. I will admit that as much as I want God, I know that I'm not ready for what that is going to require of me. Just in a few short months, the brokenness He has brought me too is almost more than I can handle. What more is going to be required? and I know the answer... everything. Everything that means anything to me is going to be required. My very life. My comforts, my heart. Everything that I place any value on is going to be required. I just don't know if I can do it. I want it. I feel like I have spent my whole life for this season, but now that I find myself on the edge, on the very precipice of taking a leap into the great plan, I am looking for a rope to wrap around my waist and a backpack to take just one more thing before I go. I find myself dealing with resentment and bitterness for the path my life is on at this moment. I am resentful of my husbands schedule because it is destroying my marriage. I'm resentful because I miss my life in Dahlonega. I miss the security we had in our finances and in our jobs.  I sit at football games and want to cry for my friends that used to be with me.  I miss relationships that were once priceless and dear. I see what people are doing and how they are connected and I'm not anymore. I miss MY LIFE.  For all the good I see, and despite knowing that God is in all of this change, I'm not happy about it. I told someone today that as Christians we know the "right" response. We know what we are supposed to say, and feel, and pray and how we are supposed to act. We do that as an act of faith, even when we don't feel like it, believing that our heart will line up. However, sometimes, like I did today, we have to stop and be willing to say, God I had no idea it would be like this and I hate it. I asked him for a do over today. Can I have a different plan. Please. This is to hard. I sit here in the quiet of my house, and see myself at the foot of the cross crying God help me walk this out, I just don't think I can do it. and I know He hasn't called me to be anything but obedient. Have you tried being obedient lately? It's not all it's cracked up to be either. I know that God is emptying me of all of me and that this is just the process. I knew it would be painful and hard. I'm not sure why I felt such a strong urge to share this. This is very personal and something that I have to work out with God. But maybe someone needs to know that it's ok to not love the process. It's ok to not always be happy with the plan. It's ok to say that it sucks and this is hard. If I have learned anything through the pain, grief and everything else I have been through the last few years, it's that God understand anger, frustration and wanting to quit. He gets it. He knows that when you reach that place you discover the only answer to all of those feelings is to look to Him and trust Him.

So that is where I am tonight. No words of wisdom. Just a few paragraphs of my heart, and my own path of brokenness. My own breaking of myself. My vulnerability and transparency to say, today I'm not ok, and that is ok. Tomorrow I will feel differently. Tomorrow I will walk in a new place in my heart with God and He will touch one more part of me to bring into the person He is growing me into. But tonight I will cry and journal and share my heart with the daddy that loves me more than anyone else could possibly love me.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Are we there yet?

If you have ever children and have ever been in the car with them for more than, say, 10 minutes, than you have probably heard the proverbial "ARE WE THERE YET"? If you haven't, then you either don't have children OR your children are mute. It's universal. Children are pre-wired with this phrase. It comes straight from the factory right after they learn to scream in the decibel of a dog whistle and right before they learn that when mom is on the phone is when the end of the world is near and you must ask every question you ever wanted to know the answer to. Twice. Fortunately we live in the age of the iPad, portable DVD players, and earbuds. (Yes, in my mind I just thought for the parents) for the kid, for the kids. The invention of these products has greatly reduced the amount of time that phrase is uttered on a car trip. For example, before it was every 20 miles. Now, with these delightful mind-numbi..... I mean entertainment devices, we only get asked that at the end of the movie they are watching or when we stop to pee. (Don't even get me started on bathroom breaks. There is a special room in the factory they get pre-wired for bathroom breaks and it's managed by a dude with a pointy tail.)

So what do I bring this up? Well, a few months ago someone at our church opened the service with this phrase. As soon as he said it I heard "Where is there?" I pulled out my phone and typed those two phrases in my notes. (If I ever die, someone please look at the notes on my phone, some of the most amazing thoughts that God gives me at random moments are typed there). The last few months I have looked at it and read it. I've spent a lot of time thinking about. I have spent time going God what are you trying to tell me with this. The only thing I've heard is this:

"THERE is where He has called us to be at this moment" 

Many people are in transition right now. It's everywhere I look. People are moving, changing jobs, their whole lives being shaken up. This past year has been a huge transition for my family as well. However, when I look up and look around I see it everywhere in the body of Christ. God is moving us out of our comfort zones, our safety places. Out of ourselves. The natural response to that happening for me has been "are we there yet" because transition is hard. It's like being a kid, sitting in the back seat watching the endless highway stretch before you (and behind you) and never knowing when it's going to end. And instead of looking at what's around you such as the scenery and the local flavor- we look ahead, straining to see the end in sight. And when we get to our destination what do people ask us- oh when you went through so-and-so did you see the such-and-such? Our journey in this life is no different. God has put before us a calling. There is an end result that He wants to see in our lives. But living our lives, in the moment before us is what prepares us for the calling. It's what trains us, it's what leads us to the place of surrendering our will to His. But we get frustrated. We get impatient. We want what we know is at the end. We keep going "God, Are we there yet"? and He is going YES! You are exactly where I want you, right now in this moment. Is it hard? YES. Is it where we want to be? PROBABLY NOT. Is it going to change us? MOST DEFINITELY. Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

Are you moving into a place in your life that is new? Are you heading down a road that maybe you weren't quite planning on going down? Maybe you have watched things happen in your life and thought, there is no way that is God. Grief, loss, betrayal, pain. While none of those things are God's handiwork, He does promise us that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) So even in the worst of circumstances, God is still moving and you are still right where He has called you to be at this moment. Quit fighting it. You are wearing yourself out. When my kids pitched fits in the car, it did nothing but delay the trip. We stopped, we got out, we went for a walk, we got a snack. We didn't move forward until they had calmed down and chilled out. Calm down. Chill out. God has you on His path, His timing. Quit looking for the end. Look for the moment you are in and learn from it. In the midst of all that, you will eventually (hopefully) learn to enjoy the ride. I bet God will even play the ABC game with you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Conversations with God (i.e. God laughs at me)

I've been having lots of conversations lately about trusting God. I've been having these conversations with God as I drive to work and drive home each day. The conversations usually goes like this.
ME: God I trust you and know that you have a great plan.
GOD: (snort) No you don't
ME: God, I'm learning how to trust you and I want to know that you have a great plan
GOD: lol... it sounds good in your head but no you don't
ME: Ok, fine I don't trust, I have a hard time believing but I really want to.
GOD: your almost to the truth
ME: Fine, I don't trust, I don't see a plan and sometimes I really wonder just what the hell you are doing up there.
GOD: That I can work with
(Maybe you don't talk to God like that, but me, I've learned he knows I'm thinking it anyway so I might as well be honest so he can help the whole way, not just a little bit)

In the midst of this conversation process I've been listening to a song called Hero by Catherine Mullins. The lyrics talk about laying it down and giving it and knowing that Jesus is our hero and He will always come to our circumstances. As I was driving to work with this conversation in my mind, God asked me "What do you think a hero looks like". And because I am a complete princess in my heart I said it would a knight on a white horse coming in to slay the dragon. God shook his head and said that's your problem. Your are looking for the hero to come in and rescue when He's really never left and he's always been there. He showed me a picture of an earthquake and the ground was shaking and moving and breaking apart. When you backed up away from the picture you see that the ground was sitting in his hands. He said when the bottom falls out, when you are shaken, scared, worried and wondering when I will rescue all you have to know is that I am always holding you and will never let you go. I've never let you go. Not once have I ever been one step away from you. It was one of those moments where I just had to sit back and go "whoa...."
What an amazing revelation. What an amazing picture of who God is and His presence in our life. What an amazing testament to His promise that He will never leave or forsake us. What I've learned is that His rescuing rarely ever looks like what I think it is supposed to look like. Sometimes I wonder if the things that happen are His plan or His redemption. Does it matter? Am I really so controlling that I can't even let God rescue and move in the way that He sees? Yes I am. and Yes I have been. But I'm know that He has a plan. My job is to simply shut up and get out of the way so that He work His plan. I realized that in the last month I've gotten a new house, a new job, and a new car- that just happens to be blue. Do you think God might be doing a new work in my life? In the last week, as I've been really intentionally praying to surrender and trust God, I've found a joy that I've been missing. I feel more... peaceful and less harried. I'm able to handle the circumstances that come my way. I'm able to deflect the attacks of the enemy in a positive way. Because I know that I don't have to defend. God is my hero and He is coming to my rescue. He's catching me so I don't have to hold on the anything. I can let it all go.

Here is the link to listen to the song I referred to....

My Hero by Catherine Mullins

Friday, January 11, 2013

Messy Christianity

When I was a child I had the messiest room you have ever seen. No matter what, I could never keep my room clean. It was awful. I got more spankings and punishments for my messy room than I did anything else. I just couldn't keep it clean. My mom would always say in her mother voice "A place for everything and everything in it's place" which is great if you remember where "the place" was that everything was supposed to go. But I had other things to do. Like drawing, pretending to be a mommy with my baby dolls (who by the way, I didn't care if they cleaned their room or not, cause I was an awesome babydoll mommy) singing loudly to oldies music, playing dress up, etc. It was a full plate for little girl and much more important than cleaning my room. Fast forward many years and I am now the one fussing at my kids to clean their room, put their things away, etc. "Why is your room so messy? Can't you put your laundry in the right drawer? My kids give me the same look I gave my mom-- the look that says mom don't you know I have better things to worry about?

Mess. It means something so different to adults then it does to kids. As adults we want order, lists, details. Kids want..... well kids want to be kids. To live in the moment. To be loved. To be accepted. To laugh, play games, smile, and to eat. They always want to eat. I think we tend to be the same way about church. We want our faith, our beliefs, our "charities" to all fit in neat boxes. A box for Sunday, a box for the children's program, a box for the youth, a box for giving, a box for the needy.

The problem is that this faith, this walk that we are on is not packaged and organized in neat little baskets on a shelf. It's a breathing organism teeming with life and it's messy. It's the equilivent of getting your baby dressed in a beautiful outfit only to walk out the door and find out they have poop going up their back. You can't plan it. You can't organize it. Because when you live in the little boxes you miss the part that's alive and growing around you.  You know what the great thing about it is though? That in the messiness, in the parts we can't control- that's how God does some of His greatest work. When my mess gets out of hand He uses someone to come and help me and be a part of it. My mess might have leaked over into your life, but that's ok because I'm not called to carry my mess by myself. We are called as the body of Christ to carry one another's messes. (or burdens, use whatever word works for ya) to encourage, lift up, exhort. To be there. The simply be a part of one another's life.

Maybe that's a difficult concept for someone. Maybe you read this, giggle cause I said poop, nod because in theory you agree and move on in your life. Or maybe you read this, giggle cause I said poop, and stop. Stop and ask God. Where have I organized and cleaned you out of my life? Where have I missed your plans, because they were to messy for me to get my hands in? We live in a messy world. Our hope is not in knowing that Jesus is going to clean our rooms, it's knowing that at the end of the mess, He is always there. Leading us through the mess to a place where we see Him and He changes us, so that through us others find Him. Do you get that? Do you get that it's not about what "works" for us? It's about what changes us so others can see that He is in the midst of their own mess. We have GOT to stop trying to clean up everything and everyone. Just be in the moment. Love people, Accept people. Laugh, Smile. Wade through the messiness and find someone that needs you.

May you be covered in all the messiness the world has to offer today and laugh the whole time!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lessons from Les Miserables

Last night Jeremy and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. I can't believe it's been 16 years. I can honestly say that I love this man I share my life with more today than I ever have. But in full disclosure, we only knew each other 19 days before we got married so up was really the only way to go.

For our anniversary we went to see Les Miserables. This is one of Jeremy's favorite musicals. I have heard all the music and knew the story, but I have never seen the show. If you don't know the story here is a quick synoposis.  Jean Valjean has served 19 years in a work prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister.When he finally becomes free, through many circumstances he is faced with a turning point to live his life for good. However, Inspector Javert who had been one of the guards when he was enslaved in the galleys, figures out who he is. The way the story is written you are set up to see Jean Valjean as the good guy and Javert as the bad. However, as I watched the story weave last night in the theatre, I saw something different. I saw Javert as a man who was upholding the law as it had been taught to him. In his mind there was the law, and punishment had to be dealt in order to uphold the value and the letter of the law. Jean Valjean represented grace and redemption, but that was not what Javert was hired to do. He was hired to make sure it was carried out. It was having a bird's eye view to see both sides and to see that neither was the enemy, they were simply on different sides of the circumstance. Javert wasn't evil, he just didn't know or understand how to operate in grace. He could have learned a few things from Jean Valjean. But not knowing didn't make him the enemy. In the end of the movie, he lets Jean Valjean go but in the process of giving out grace, commits suicide because he can't live with the thought of not delivering out a just punishment. Watching that unfold made me look at circumstances that have happened in my life. Have I applied grace? Am I looking to mete out punishment for unatoned sins? Am I holding someone or something to my standards without offering a chance for change or redemption?

I think we all, in the best and worst of circumstances, play to one character or the other. Sometimes to the detriment of ourselves, or of others. We miss God's plan because it doesn't look or seem the way that we think it should. Someone doesn't act or respond the way we think they should. What is our responsibility? Judgment or grace? What has God really called us to do? I think that we are called to be many things in different circumstances. Sometimes we need to offer grace, sometimes we need to stand firm in the truth and the word. However all things must be done in love. That is the responsibility we carry as Christians. Regardless of the person or circumstances, we must always wrap every thought, conversation and relationship in love. The Bible says that they know we are Christians by our love. So we must always be careful that we represent Christ in our actions, our deeds and our words. In the last several months, I have played both parts in my life.  I've also learned especially in the last couple of months that life is to short to hold everyone to a list of standards. That grace and forgiveness go a long way, even when it isn't returned. That all I can control is my responses, and my judgments. I've come to the realization that it just isn't worth it. It's not worth the stress, concern, pain and confusion that it brings with it. I've also learned that someone coming to me and saying I love you and I'm sorry goes so much further than any "lesson" they want to teach me. I've experienced first hand the difference something wrapped  in love does. I've learned that the compassion in their eyes comes out in the words they are saying and it touches that deep place where God heals and touches our hearts. God used someone last week to do this for me and I'm amazed at the difference it has made and in my ability to release and let go. You should try it. I dare ya!

May you enter this new year submerged a little deeper into the love of Christ and share that love with everyone you meet.