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.

 

 

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Diagnosis: Panic

panic

The phone rings. The phone doesn’t ring. The news is not what you expect. The news is what you do expect. Our hearts race, mouths go dry, every heart beat is amplified in our ears. Fear. Fight or flight. Sheer panic sets in. This is an all too frequent condition that I deal with. Panic. Even seeing the word provokes what it means to me.

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)

Can I tattoo this on my forehead? Who’s with me? So, when I feel attacked or misunderstood, don’t panic. When my manager wants to “talk”, don’t panic. When the doctor arrives who seems hell-bent on criticizing me, don’t panic. When my daughters come home with news about something, anything at their dad’s house, don’t panic. When he refuses something seemingly ridiculous, don’t panic. When my plans fall through. When I can’t be two places at once. When I don’t get the reaction I want or expect. When it takes me two hours to get to work because of traffic, don’t panic. When these things happen, my first instincts and emotions go haywire. I want to yell and scream…”It’s NOT RIGHT!!” But, that won’t change any of it whatsoever. What will? Who can?

Although, my heart may pound and my mouth feel parched, my knees will hit the ground. My heart will cry out for relief. For guidance and the self control necessary to prevent the tidal wave of emotions crashing all around me from taking me down along with the ones I love. And, I will let the tears fall when they come. Tears are safe. Tears are cleansing. Tears are proof that we are alive. Because, life is hard and seems extremely unfair sometimes. Only with God’s perspective can we trust that the hard stuff is not because of His lack of love, but rather to draw us closer to Him. The closer the better.

I can’t make people do things. I can’t make people not do things. I can’t defend a misunderstanding if someone is convinced otherwise. I can’t change people’s minds. I can’t make someone care if they don’t. I can only pray and ask for the help that He promises me.

I still struggle with anxiety and panic, but I know the best prescription for this diagnosis is written in Isaiah 41:10. So, today I will take my medicine. My Ultimate chill pill. And, another one tomorrow….My guess is I need it every day.

Giving In Is Not Giving Up

acceptance

There’s a big difference between giving in and giving up. Giving in is about accepting reality. Giving up is throwing in the towel on reality. When reality is too much to bare, we tend to switch over to denial or fight modes. We look for anything that helps us deny what we don’t want to face. Anything from regrets to betrayal to rejection. All extremely painful.

Giving in is accepting a relationship for what it is and what it is not. Giving up would be blaming, shaming, and criticizing the other party without owning our part in the dissolution. Giving up is also assuming we must be unlovable because it didn’t work out or that it was all our fault.

Giving in is accepting a diagnosis, whether God physically heals or not. His will be done. Yes, He has the power to physically heal, but the “healing of acceptance” is just as potent to the patient and those looking on. Giving up is blaming, shaming, and criticizing God for an outcome that hurts His heart even more than our own.

Giving in is accepting our strengths and weaknesses as a child of God. Leaning into our strengths and gifts with humility and honor while asking and receiving His sufficient grace for our weaknesses. Giving up is bragging and flaunting what we have and can do while “hiding” our weaknesses from others and God.

Giving in is watching the news today and focusing on the fact that there are still good people in this world and an All Mighty God who sees every single injustice. Giving in is leaving retribution in His capable hands, and praying for all including our enemies. Giving up is cowering in fear at the rampant evil invading our world just like the Bible has already clearly told us it will.

Giving in is having our eyes wide open to what was and what is. And, accepting that. Giving up is closing our eyes tight to what we don’t want to know, see, or feel.

I’ve done both. I’ve given in and I’ve given up in different situations and circumstances in my life, but I want to do better. I want to give in and accept what is without ever forgetting God’s love for me. I want to give in to what God has for me today and cherish it without ever forgetting that He’s actively aware of my concerns. I want to give in to His Spirit’s movements within me and step outside my comfort zone without ever forgetting the price He paid for me and how special I must be to Him because of it.

What is on your plate today? Who is in front of you right now? What is the very next step? Just do that….in reality with prayer.

The “healing of acceptance” is a beautiful thing.

  • Accepting the past for what it was
  • Learning from it
  • Moving forward from it
  • Forgiving yourself and others
  • Taking courageous leaps of faith
  • Trying rather than retreating
  • Running your own race
  • Hurdling obstacles
  • Helping others along the way
  • Growing aware of the enemy’s schemes

There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Matthew 6:26 (MSG)

I started writing this entry close to a year ago and didn’t have the words to finish it. I knew I was struggling with giving in vrs. giving up and wanted clarity on the two. Letting go vrs. holding on. I write when concepts become clear in my mind and I’m so thankful these words flowed out today. For myself and for others, I hope it helps you like it does me. Now, I have a personal reference to look back on when I question myself and the decisions that we all deal with on the daily.

Giving in is not giving up. Giving in is accepting what is and what is not. Faith is being open to what’s to come. And, hope is looking forward to it!

There is a specific pace and a very special grace for your personal journey. Cherish this. You are loved……no matter what.

 

Paper Bag Moments

roller coaster

Have you ever had a moment that blows you away? Not in a negative way, but in a positive way? The kind of moment that you dreamed of, but didn’t know would ever come true? The kind of moment that left your mouth wide open and a personal dream realized? I call them my “paper bag moments”. The moments when God shows up and shows off.  The moments that take your breath away. The moments when you just KNOW that He is looking and smiling down on you. The moments when all you can think is “Oh, how He loves us….me!”

The assurance of God’s presence in our lives should blow us away daily. When He acts out on our behalf in our personal dilemmas, issues, concerns, and fears, it blows us away personally. He wants to blow us away. He wants us to KNOW that He cares for our personal struggles and is fighting for us. He wants us to KNOW that He is very much present in our daily lives. He wants us to KNOW He is still very much a miracle worker. He wants us to KNOW that in those moments when the pain feels like more than we can bear, He is not only with us, but He feels it too. He want us to KNOW that He is a loving Father. Even in His discipline, He wants us to KNOW that He is showing love. He is drawing us to Him, not pushing us away.

I have had many “paper bag moments” recently. Moments associated with love, family, and ministry and they seem to keep coming. Moments when I feel like I really could use a paper bag to breathe into. I cherish these moments now. God says, just breathe, because I’m about to BLOW you away. Oh, how He loves us!

Life’s journey is like a rollercoaster. It goes up, down, and sideways. After a long downward plunge, the ups can make our stomachs leap into our throats. The excitement can feel scary because it’s so unexpected. I am reminded of how many times God says “Do not fear” in the Bible. When the ups come, throw your hands up and Praise His name! Just like when the downs come, the best thing for us to do is hit our knees and cry out. But, either way, don’t forget to breathe! He is WITH us in the good times and in the bad.

Here’s to more “paper bag moments” in all our lives. To God be the Glory of our story!

Speak!

speak

Who made you feel like your voice doesn’t matter? Like it doesn’t count?

God used Moses who stuttered and was afraid to speak. He tried to get out of it. He even asked God to send someone else. He was afraid and felt incompetent, yet God promised His help.

Moses spoke to the Lord. He said, “Lord, I’ve never been a good speaker. And I haven’t gotten any better since you spoke to me. I don’t speak very well at all.” The Lord said to him, “Who makes human beings able to talk? Who makes them unable to hear or speak? Who makes them able to see? Who makes them blind? It is I, the LordNow go. I will help you speak. I will teach you what to say.”  Exodus 4:10-11 (NIRV)

In spite of Moses’s insecurities, God used him to DELIVER His people from the Egyptians. Moses spoke. His words delivered…what a testimony to tell.

Fear paralyzes my vocal chords. Can you relate? It’s like I can almost feel the enemy strangle me when the truth of how I’m feeling wants to come out. Be free and know that choosing not to speak your truth doesn’t necessarily protect you, it just leaves people in the dark. They don’t KNOW, if you don’t tell. We can’t hold people accountable for something they don’t know. I was SO guilty of this thinking…”Well, they should KNOW that hurts. They should KNOW what I like and don’t like. They should KNOW what I need.” Newsflash! They don’t.

Yes, they should know you deserve respect and honesty. But, they don’t know your preferences, likes, dislikes, or necessities unless you clearly communicate them. I used to think this was rude or selfish, now I see that it’s just plain common sense and necessary. Speaking your truth respectfully is quite the opposite of rudeness and actually mandatory for mutual peace and understanding.

If you struggle with this like me, remembering our value and respecting ourselves, is the best remedy I’ve found. Remember that your opinion, whether agreed with or not, is just as important as the next guy’s. Remember that God created and died for you just like He created and died for the person you are afraid to speak to. Remember that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Remember that we should be respected whether we work for you, with you, or because of you. Remember that we don’t have to befriend or trust a person to treat them respectfully. Remember that just because someone chooses not to befriend or confide in you, you are still worthy of being treated respectfully. Remember that even when you’re wrong about a situation or have been misinformed, you are still worthy of respect and understanding. We all make mistakes. Remember these….and I need to as well.

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speak your mind. Speak your truth. God gave you a heart, a mind, and a mouth to communicate with. We are always learning and hopefully growing. Don’t let your moods, thoughts, and words go haywire before laying them out before God, but once you have, don’t let fear hold you back. He gives us power and strength to speak. Your words may be His words. He may use you to correct a situation or touch a person’s heart. God used Moses and He can use you too.

Speak, dear one…..we’re listening.

 

Love Them Anyway

love

We are called to love others as God loves them…and that means to love them anyway. Because we are not perfect and will fail each other, we will need to choose to love anyway and in spite of. We are studying the various fruits of the spirit in our women’s Bible study and the lesson on love hit me hard. Not because I have a hard time loving necessarily, but because of how Beth Moore explains why we tend to withhold love or are afraid to in the first place. The reason is rejection and fear of further rejection.

When we offer love and it is not returned, it can be the most painful experience known to man. Jesus felt the pain of rejection personally. When we experience that pain, we subconsciously protect ourselves from ever feeling it again….because it hurts. This is why we withhold or withdraw love. What we fail to realize, is that God sees our attempts. He catches and rewards our attempts to love even when they are rejected, ignored, or go completely unnoticed by man. This frees us up to go ahead and love anyway…because He sees.

For singles, this doesn’t mean to fall in love with anyone and everyone. Guard your heart. Be prayerful about who you fall for and commit to. But, we can still show brotherly and sisterly love to all in the process. Show love to potential mates by respecting them enough to be honest, polite, and direct. Every ex doesn’t need to turn into an enemy, wish them well and keep moving. One of my best friends reminded me that the one God has for you won’t leave. I believe this to be true! If they leave, let them go gracefully and be thankful that you are one step closer to the one that won’t.

We are called to love our enemies. This feels completely unnatural, but it is for our own good. Loving our enemies removes the enemy title. It doesn’t mean we hang out with them on a regular basis, call them when we have a problem, or have play dates (unless we feel led to). It also doesn’t mean we continue to put ourselves in hostile or harmful situations. There are some people in our lives that we will need to ask for God’s guidance on how to love and do it from a distance. To love our enemies is to recognize that they are fellow humans that Jesus also died for.

Forgiveness will lead to another blessed fruit…..peace. Peace that passes all understanding is a fruit that we don’t want to miss out on! This allows us to move forward in our lives without the weight of pent up bitterness, anger, and resentment. Remember, if God sees our attempts to love, He also sees those who reject it. God is merciful and just and it is His job to judge. It is our job to love.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another – John 13:35

Some of us have an easy time saying “I love you”. Others, really struggle with saying it all. What it means, is I love you…anyway. I love you after all we’ve been through, what we will go through, regardless of what you do or don’t believe, in the midst of our failures and distances. It means as a brother or sister in Christ, I love you.

Forgiveness is the final act of love. Jesus forgave us all as He hung on the cross. He loved each one of us enough to die for us…..anyway and in spite of.

Worrier vrs. Warrior

warrior

I shared this title idea with one of my coworkers this past week and she agreed that it would be a great one for most of us. I have been a tried and true worrier my whole life. If worry were a disease, I’d be riddled with it. “What could I have done or said differently?” “This must be MY fault.” “I should have fixed it or stopped it or done whatever I tried to do differently.” Any time a problem comes my way I tend to immediately blame myself. It’s gotta be me. What’s wrong with ME?….

When God says “Be Still” this calms my nerves. This phrase reminds me that rejection may have been the most loving option, not the least. This phrase reminds me that sometimes it’s not what we COULD have done but what God DID do that sent that particular situation in that particular direction. This phrase reminds me that no matter how much we fear we may mess things up, He is STILL in control.

Sure, we make choices and may suffer consequences, but like the perfect parent He is, He still loves us. Sometimes the choices are made for us and we tend to take that VERY personally. Once again….WHY ME?? We need to fall towards His love and not away. Give the situation back to Him and remind ourselves that it’s just too heavy for us to carry.

What makes a worrier?  Insecurity, lies, paranoia, stress, questions, rejection, FEAR!

What makes a warrior? Prayer, peace, truth, confidence, strength, power, SURRENDER!

Waving the white flag of surrender makes us the warriors we need to be to live in this world. It’s HIS way or the highway, not mine. We shouldn’t be afraid to make choices, we shouldn’t be afraid to try, we shouldn’t be afraid to fail. The desire to live our lives to honor Him is the best we have to offer. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. He doesn’t expect perfection.

Living loved is the best defense against worry. He wants us to live loved. Living consciously aware of His love throughout the day will take the sting out of disappointments, rejection, and worry. Living loved can remove the fear of trying, failing, and trying again. Knowing that we were loved in the past (when it happened), are loved today (while it’s happening), and will be loved in the future (even if it happens) is a warrior’s perspective.

I don’t write as an overcomer to worry, it’s still a daily struggle for me. I write to remind myself of these truths because I desire to live as a warrior too. Let’s fight (surrender) together. Oorah!