…But I won’t do that.

There are many things I would compromise on, but feeling loved is not one of them. My experiences have brought me to the point and realization that words fall short. If I don’t feel loved by a person, their words are just that, words.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (NIV)

Looking back, It’s the same with my relationship with Jesus, it wasn’t until I felt His love for myself, that I could believe it. Once I believed it, I built my life around it. This is where transformation comes in. When His love washes over us and we realize He’s been waiting and pursuing us all along, our hearts are drawn to Him. It’s in these moments, that we worship in tears and awe, sometimes even speechless.

So, when it comes to my future husband, I will compromise. But, I will not settle. To settle would be to commit my life to a man that I’m not sure loves me. To quote Meat Loaf, “I would do anything for love…but I won’t do that.”

I questioned my ex-husband’s love for the 10 years we were together. I will not do that again. One thing I ask the Lord to provide most of all, is a deep sense of assurance. A love I can rest in. I love I can be myself with. A love I can be emotional with. A love I can be honest with. A love I don’t ever question. A love like His. Everything else comes and goes. If we find this kind of love on this earth, romantic or otherwise, cling to it and thank God for it. It’s a love from Him.

The Gift of Forgiveness

For anyone who has blown it and felt the grace of forgiveness, to anyone who has known a forgiver, to anyone boggled by someone else’s forgiveness, we know it’s a supernatural gift and can only come from above. It’s the exact opposite of what the devil wants for our lives.

Do you realize the gift forgiveness is for ourselves? Not just to receive, but to grant. When Jesus tells us to forgive, it’s because He knows it’s the only way we can live the abundant life He died to give us. Forgiveness is a choice. Refusing to do so adds more pain, heaviness, bitterness, anger. It poisons us and affects the people around us.

When we choose to forgive, it’s not natural. For me, the process started with “Lord, I want to forgive. I have that desire. Will you help me?” And, every day, sometimes every twenty minutes, I’d ask Him…”Help me forgive”. The alternative hurts too much. Take this pain and burden. It’s not immediate, but over time, if we humble ourselves and ask for His help, He will show us how and start clearing out the pain and bitterness, making room for more of Him. The forgiver will start to feel relief like never before. This is a gift Jesus wants to help us receive through His strength alone. For our own good on this earth.

Through this process, He opened my eyes to my own sinfulness. To what He’s forgiven in me. To how we all fall short. To how the person who wronged me may be completely unaware to the amount of pain they have caused. “Jesus forgive them, they know not what they do”. To the fact that I’m sure I have harmed others without knowing the extent. To the fact that forgiveness frees us. To how sweet it is to be forgiven. Ask and you shall receive. Give and it will be given to you.

This entry is to let you know that forgiving someone else is as much a gift as being forgiven. The deeper the pain or betrayal, the harder it is to do so, but the sweeter the reward. I don’t wish pain, loss, or betrayal on anyone, but the gift of forgiveness after the fact is something you can’t learn or experience without it. When you feel the kind of pain that can alter the trajectory of your life and make the decision to forgive instead, you will be moving in God’s will for your story rather than the devil’s. He has a path he wants you to take as well and that’s as far away from God as possible. He wants us to follow our pain, Jesus wants us to give it to Him through forgiveness.

Jesus knew what He was doing. He knows that without offering forgiveness for the wrongs others do to us, we carry more pain than He died to remove. When you can honestly love them in Christ and wish them the best, you know you’re on your way.

Forgiving is not condoning. Forgiving is loving and forgiving as Jesus loves and forgives us. It’s not easy, but it’s a gift waiting to be unwrapped. Ask Him for the scissors today.

 

Water to Wine

This is not a post about whether or not the water Jesus turned into wine was fermented or not. This is not about whether drinking wine is right or wrong. This is about how Jesus still turns water to wine in our lives. Bland to fully flavored. Clear to richly colored. Tasteless to sweet.

I love how His first miracle was at a celebration, a wedding reception. He didn’t shy away from celebrating with his friends and family. He didn’t shy away from grieving with them either. He entered in, and when asked, He changed things. Sometimes over time, sometimes in an instant.

When He touches the heart of a homeless person, He turns water (hopelessness) into wine (care). When He rescues and strengthens an abused woman, He turns water (shame, worthlessness) into wine (dignity). When He comforts a grieving parent, He turns water (despair) into wine (comfort). When He provides financially, He turns water (needs) into wine (provision). When He helps us forgive, He turns our water to wine. When He dusts us off and reminds us who we are, He serves us His best and welcomes us to the table.

We all know water is the best and healthiest beverage we can drink. When we need water, we thirst for what our bodies need most. Clean drinking water is a gift from God. Many don’t have it and I thank God for it. But, when Jesus takes our stories (water) and uses them for His Glory, He miraculously makes wine. He still turns our water to wine. He is still in the business. He was and is still able. Oh, how sweet and all-powerful He is.

Our Fight Song

The pressure was mounting, the days were ticking down, the hearts were racing….and it wasn’t just my daughters feeling this way. Talent show was coming up and I was becoming increasingly frustrated. What was going on? The girls wanted to surprise me with their acts and costumes. When I’d ask if I could practice with them or if they needed me to get them anything to wear, they would quickly let me know that their stepmom had it all taken care of. “Nothing for you to worry about, Mom.”

This bothered me. I felt like she was doing my job, not only my job, but better than I was. Practicing, buying fancy dresses and props. Spending more money than I would or should on talent show attire, I might add. She was killing it as a stepmom and that was killing me. That led to “Am I doing enough? Is she better than me?” thoughts. Insecurity. Jealousy.

One of the places I know she’s better than me is in doing their hair. She fixes their hair like I’ve never been able to. She braids, she updos, she curls, she straightens. I get compliments on their hair and outfits a lot after she dresses them. I smile and usually give her the credit. It hurts either way. I can honestly say I’m hair challenged. So, I can’t help but feel less than when people ooh and ahh over their hair. We all have our gifts, right? I am left wondering, what is mine?

A few days before the talent show, I was really struggling and had a few friends praying specifically over me and this situation in my heart.

She happened to text me that day and ask if she could pick the girls up at 4:00 to do their hair for the talent show. (Of course!) Straight to the heart of my insecurity. My heart sunk. In my head, I had two choices. One would be to say “yes” and continue to feel inferior and inept. The second, being “No, I’ll do it” and bring them with hair not nearly as cute as if I’d just let her do it. Sooooo, I have no doubt God intervened and placed a third option in my heart. An option I never would have considered before. Ever.

Instead of door #1 or #2, I took #3. I asked her if she could come over to our house and show me how she does it. Maybe I could learn something? Maybe I could admit there are some things she does better than me. Just like everyone else on this planet. Maybe if I humbled myself to watch and learn, rather than resist or retreat, we could work together. And, that’s just what we did.

She came over and we did the girls hair together. We showed up at the talent show and the girls did wonderfully. As my youngest, sang “Fight Song” loud and proud in her boxing gloves, red cape, and fancy red dress, I couldn’t help but think, “Yes, baby girl, this is our fight song, take back our life song, prove we’re alright song, our power’s turned on, starting right now, we’ll be strong, we’ll play our fight song…..”

And, now you know the rest of the story. I’ll never forget her performance that day. Not only because she knocked it out of the park, but because we all did.

So to all you stepmoms out there who are doing your best and doing it well, have mercy on us mamas. It’s not easy. Put yourself in our shoes and imagine how hard it would be to watch another woman help raise your babies…and well. We don’t have kids expecting to share. It goes against every fiber in our being. But, thank you. If you love our kids, thank you. We know you don’t have to. You choose to. If they love you, bonus. The more love in my kids lives, the better.

I can’t change the fact that you’re here and somehow you keep showing me, just by loving them, that I wouldn’t want to. And, that’s hard to admit as Mama. I’m thankful he’s with a woman who cares and loves our kids. And, can do a salon quality updo.

Lead me…

lead-me

Lead me to a higher place

Remind me of who I am to You…

Show me the world and Your heart to save it

Remind me why I’m here and that You love me

Open my ears to Your voice

Lead me in the Way Everlasting

I know that’s with You.

Prod me when I forget

Like the Shepherd You are, lead me.

I want nothing more than to stay at Your side

As the winds blow and the storm rages, You are my uncontested place of safety

Remind me, lead me.

 

Feel to Heal

feel

I was talking to one of my coworkers about her mom yesterday…She’s in the last stages of cancer and has been struggling with it for years now. I asked if she was in any pain. She said no, she’s actually numb now due to her neuropathy. Relieved, I said, “We’ll take numb over pain any day, right??” Yes, so true. Whether it’s for ourselves or our loved ones, we want them free of pain. Just take this, take that, anything to numb or lessen the physical pain.

I know one of the most comforting things for the family when a patient is put on hospice is that they help them to feel no pain. Please, just take their pain away.

This got me thinking about the difference between physical pain and emotional pain. You don’t have to feel the pain to heal physically. You will, until properly medicated, but healing isn’t dependent on feeling the pain associated with the injury or illness.

With emotional pain, we naturally WANT to numb the pain, but healing comes from feeling it. Going there. Expressing it. Grieving it. When our loved ones are emotionally hurt, we naturally want to numb them too. We just want them pain free. The best thing you can do is listen, talk, ask. Engage. Be willing to hear. It helps the healing. It helps. Numbing prolongs. Distracting avoids. Suppressing hinders.

We need safe people who will go there. If you’re having a hard time finding a safe person to go there with, pray for one. Look for a counselor or a trusted Christian friend. One you can trust with your story. Someone who will go there, listen, and hug you through it.

Sometimes the people you want to go to and expect to be able to, won’t be willing or able to. Sometimes they can’t handle your hurt or sometimes it brings up too much of their own.

My friend’s son actually left the house when he was going through his separation and divorce. Not because he didn’t care, but because it hurt him too much to witness his dad’s pain. Know that some of the people who love you can’t handle witnessing or hearing your pain. Show them mercy.

Find someone who will. There are those who can bare your burdens and walk you through it. You’ll always remember these people. They will help you heal. They know the process. They know what you need. And, that is to be heard.

I have a heart for the hurting and want to help people feel comfortable expressing their pain. I know how hard it is. I know the fear in doing so. But, I also know the relief in doing so. I want to be a safe person. I want to help because I have been helped. I know what it takes.

As attractive as numb sounds, I’d still rather feel to heal.

 

To Be Known….

known

I was talking to a friend earlier this week about what it means to be truly loved by someone and why that can be hard to receive or believe. For someone to truly love you, they need to know you. All of you. That’s terrifying. Once they truly know, what is there to love? We may be inclined to think.

To me, that’s why it’s also easier to sing “Jesus loves me, this I know” than to really take to heart that it’s true. But, it is. NO ONE knows you more or loves you more than Jesus. No one. Not your mom, dad, husband, or child. Not your best friend from 6th grade or your beloved college roommate.

Sometimes I scratch my head at how I could be loved in all my frustrated and over thinking ways. But, Jesus not only does, he made and loves me this way. He knows each and every flaw and insecurity. He knows why we have them and He knows that we need Him.

To be with a man who sees you at your weakest, your sickest, your most tired and most scattered, and views you in love is God’s plan for marriage. Can he admire you dolled up and respect you worn out? Can he open your door and shut out negativity? Can he make you smile and break out of routine? Does he agree on the big stuff and disagree respectfully on the others?

Can you be honest enough for him to know you?  It’s the only way he can love the real you. After all, that’s what we truly want.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” — Timothy Keller