Help Me Walk….

We are studying the armor of God in our women’s Bible study this fall. Each piece of armor correlates with protective and offensive maneuvers we can use against our enemy. We all have One Savior and we all have one enemy who likes to disguise himself and his ways as the angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He entices us and ultimately deceives us. That’s his thing, his m.o.

This week we’ve been learning about the shoes of peace…For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. Ephesians 6:15 (NLT)

When I think of peace personally, I tend to think of rest, calmness, stillness, less movement. While this is true and ever so necessary in this chaotic world we live in, peace is also what it takes for us to move forward. We need the peace of God to take chances, to share, to reach out, to move forward, to take that step, to ask that person, to try something new, to try again, to walk out our callings.

We need the assurance and peace that He IS with us (this is the Good News/Gospel of peace) to rest physically and mentally, but we also need it to walk forward after disappointments, in the midst of fear, and resistance.

The roman soldiers back in Paul’s day had stakes in the bottom of their sandals that helped them to walk on uneasy terrain. Muddy, mountainous, rocky, wet, these stakes helped them move forward.

Just like it takes strength to step out, peace is also required. The peace that God is with us allows us to jump in. The peace that successful or not, we have asked God to lead in our endeavors and He has promised to never leave us high and dry. Even if that person says “No”, even if that business or relationship tanks, even if that idea was not welcomed, even if the one person you’re hoping responds, grabs on, or validates you, never does, God is with you. And, He is proud of the faith you put in Him.

So, let’s walk. Let’s ask God for His peace to do so. When you feel stuck in the mud or see no way across that raging river, remember the shoes of peace described in the armor that God has provided us with. Ask Him for these shoes of peace. These aren’t high heels, these aren’t platforms, or flip flops, these are the shoes we need to climb rocky terrain, to walk through the mud and the muck, these are the shoes that will get us there…with HIM. In Christ alone….

 

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My Love Story….

My love story will be different…It won’t be a “married to my high school sweetheart” story. It won’t be a “rocky marriage and reconciliation” story. It won’t be a “happily ever after right after divorce” story. No, my love story will be different.

My love story will be learning about how much God loves me, even in the midst of painful losses and rejections. My love story will be learning to love myself in the midst of them to0. Learning to love myself even when made to feel unlovable. Learning to love myself after being torn down to a nub by men in my life. Learning that not all men and women are the same….

Right after my divorce, I fell hard for a guy. He gave me more attention that I’d ever received from my ex-husband. We dated over a year, but he refused to commit. So, heartbroken again, I knew I had to stop the rollercoaster of not knowing what he wanted from me. Cue the next few guys who wanted to marry me after our first date. And some even before. What was going on?!?

First guy turned out to be on parole for double homicide (his wife and another guy)! Next two had mental issues, so much so, that suicide was mentioned after ending things. The fear of God set in. What was a single mom with two daughters to do?  Just stop? Or keep trying, trusting God. I chose the latter……My love story will be different.

The only way I could trust God with my romantic life after these stories was IF I loved Him enough and trusted His love for me. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve cried out, thinking it won’t happen for me. It just can’t after these stories…The fear would be too great or the rug would be yanked out from under me, again.

I dated a guy who truly loved me, but we split over spiritual beliefs. I’ve dated a guy recommended by one of my best friends. I thought that he was my reward for standing up for my beliefs. That turned out to be false too and ever so painful and confusing all over again. What was going on?!?

The guy before has come back around. God spoke to his heart in my absence and it turns out our spiritual beliefs aren’t as different as we thought. Surprisingly, close. He knows all my fears, issues, and concerns. His love still rings true. God’s will be done.

My love story will be different….God will be my first love. My love story will be an open book of the love we share. I will run to Him when I hurt. I will lean on Him when I’m scared. I will share who He is to me. I will trust Him with my life. And, if it turns out that He just wants me all to Himself, my love story will be complete. I will live to please and honor Him all the days of my life.

 

 

LOVE Yourself…

Getting to know Jesus will definitely impact how we view and love others. On the flipside, He will also teach us how to view and love ourselves. The more His love sinks in, the more we realize our value. Our value to Him.

I didn’t know my worth until Jesus showed me. Because of this, I felt constantly at the mercy of others to love me. This is a set up for disaster. Thank God, He continues to show me. He shows me by showering me with grace and help and love like I’ve never known.

If He loves me like that, I must be worthy of love. Not only from others, but also from me. Healthy self love propels us to do what feeds our souls and inspires us. It pushes us to grow and spread our wings. It teaches us to enjoy our alone time and to love others unselfishly. I don’t love to get love anymore, I love to love. And, that is freeing.

Love yourself enough to….walk away, make a decision, admit a fault, cry in public, cry in private. Love yourself enough to…disagree, set a boundary, stick to said boundary, rest in God’s love for you.

Love yourself enough to….follow a dream, set a goal, try something new, forgive that person, take a nap, find a babysitter, open up to a trusted friend.

Loving ourselves properly is vital in loving others properly. Love the man or woman God created you to be. Work on yourself with God’s help. His connection and correction comes from a personal relationship with Him. This relationship will change your heart and inevitably your life.

You are already loved and you were created beautiful ❤

Celebrate the Beauty You ARE!

Wow, if this isn’t full circle. God has loved me back to life. I was beautiful at twenty (and didn’t know it), but feel even more so turning fourty. Why? Because of what I’ve been through. Who I’ve clung to. And, Who has never let go of me!

I started this blog off admitting and dealing with imperfection. I realize now that it’s in spite of our imperfections that our friends and family love us (or should), and it’s because of our imperfections that Jesus died for us. We can and should work on improvement, but perfection cannot be the goal. We’ll never make it.

It’s hard for me to take selfies. I do it, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t obsess over them or use a bunch of filters, I just struggle with flaunting external beauty. Maybe because of what I think of others who do or maybe just maybe because I want others to know there’s more to me. Ultimately, I need to know that myself. We all do.

I have no problem taking pictures of my daughters’ physical beauty because I already know there’s so much more…. I WANT to take my girlfriends pictures because I think they are absolutely stunning and I love them/you and I know there’s more. Maybe someone struggles like me and I’m here to help you! You are more. Your beauty is not just in how you look, but you needn’t shy away from your outer beauty either.

You are beautiful. How do I know? Because, God made you in His image. Your scars, your hurts, your fears, your insecurities, your story has made you even more so.

I love diversity. You are beautiful. The color of your skin, the size of your nose, the shape of your chin, the curves of your body. Made up or no makeup at all. The kids you’ve had, the surgeries you’ve been through. Beautiful.

How do I know?? I know because I know Your Creator. Not because your husband told you today, not because you got flowers last week, not because you have 3000 friends on Facebook. Because, Jesus Christ died for you.

We were His last physical creation. After God created woman, He took a rest. I imagine a cowboy throwing up his hands after roping a calf. Done! This is my most beautiful! Phew!

So, celebrate your beauty. Know that you ARE beauty, you don’t just have beauty. Smile, and know that He is with you. That He loves you. That He made you. So how could you not be? So smile and say Jesus loves meeee! <click>

What Have You Gained?

When we lose something, it hurts. Transition is hard. And, change is never easy. But, when we look again or look back, we can see what we’ve gained.

I suffered great loss with my divorce. Looking back now, I can see what I’ve gained after it. A closer relationship with Jesus and mounds of wisdom from the pain. I got to move back to my hometown and live close to family. My girls also get to attend church school. Neither of these would have been possible if we’d stayed married. I not only get to attend the church of my childhood, but also serve as a women’s ministry leader there. I also gained this blog as a source of healing, sharing, and connecting. Such an honor and privilege. All precious gains from a devastating loss.

Fast forward five years. This spring I lost a relationship that I thought was “the one”. He was recommended by friends, we knew many of the same people, similar church backgrounds, said he was looking for someone just like me. It ended, when that changed. Another heart wrenching, confusing loss.

Since then, what have I gained? Home renovations, a new job, a new puppy, a new sense of me and what I need in a relationship, a renewed set of standards, a whole new appreciation for a loving, honest, caring, consistent, family-focused, attentive man. Yet another opportunity to be with this type of man. A sense of pride for trying and a sense of humility for sharing. All gains from another bewildering loss.

Last night, my daughters started a conversation with me about how much they both wish I had a boyfriend/husband. They want this for me, even after all we’ve been through. They have both been open and accepting of each one of my relationships. By God’s grace, never rude or unwelcoming. Rather, hopeful.

My oldest daughter told me she just wants me to be honest with her. I confided in her that I don’t open up to her as much as she’d probably like because I want to protect her. I explained that I don’t want to get her hopes up or down anymore. Still, she insisted, just as I would with her in the same situation. So, last night we had a good honest talk. She agrees wholeheartedly with what I’m looking for and why it hasn’t worked out yet. She understands so much more than I give her credit for. She asked me to be honest with her, just like I’d want her to be with me in her dating years….I consider that conversation a huge gain and a blessing after multiple losses.

Dating in front of kids is HARD, but, I’m learning it can also be a tremendous learning tool. They know I have standards, the same standards I’d want for them. When the time is right, I’ll find the courage to choose love. But, I’ll need them met first. In the meantime, I will focus on my gains, opportunities, and adventures.

With GOD there is always a gain in the loss. It might be finding strength you didn’t know you had, it might be new friends, it might be more money, it might be more time, it might be more help, but it will always be more of Him. He wants to fill every void in our lives. With Him, we can trust that each loss still has His goodness written all over it.

The next time you lose something or someone, ask yourself “But, what have I gained?” Oh, how He loves…

 

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.

I know someone who’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 watching or hearing you in 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