Storms Take Many Forms

“The lightnin’ flashes in her eyes and he knows that she knows…..and the thunder rolls.” Just like in the Garth Brooks hit “The Thunder Rolls”, we are made aware very soon in life that storms come in many forms.

We take physical cover in hail storms. We watch helplessly as windows and cars are hammered. We can hear the sirens and sounds of freight trains when a tornado comes close. We rush to the stores to stock up when there is talk of an ice storm hitting the metroplex. We batten down the hatches to prepare for hurricanes. We do all we can do, but are still left to watch and see how nature will take it’s course.

Relationships go through storms. Marriages, friends, family….Eventually, someone will get hurt and find themselves in the eye of the storm needing to ask for forgiveness or grant it. And the thunder rolls……

Some make it, some don’t. Kids and others are left to watch helplessly in the wake of lost friendships and divorce. The relationships that do make it come out stronger because the love is made more evident in the willingness to ask, receive, and bestow the forgiveness. Asking isn’t easy, granting isn’t easy. Both take humility and grace.

Financial strains cause storms. The stress associated with being out of work, working when you don’t want to, working at a job you dislike, or for a boss who doesn’t seem to care at all about you, wondering whether or not to go back to work. Asking for help with bills. And the thunder rolls….

Storms come in many forms. May we always look to Jesus in them. May we take cover in His Name, like we do in the closet with our babies covered by a mattress. May we go face down before Him when the storms come and ask Him to carry us through. May we stock up on scripture and prayer warrior friends like we stock up on bottled waters and batteries. These are the storms where an umbrella won’t cut it. These are the storms where we do all that we can do and then hunker down and wait and see what the damage is.

Hurricane Harvey ravished Houston a couple weeks ago. Hurricane Irma plowed through the Caribbean yesterday and is moving towards Florida this weekend. Last I heard there are two coming up behind her. Just like tropical storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and ice storms are expected on this earth, so are all the other kinds of storms. Sometimes they seem to come one right after another.

Strengthen us, Lord. Batten down our hatches. Help us to ask for and grant forgiveness in our storms. Show us how to reflect you when we inevitably mess up or someone else does. And, thank You for Your grace. Your grace is like the first responders running in when everyone else runs outs. Your grace is the rescue helicopters and semis pulling in with diapers and blankets. Your grace is the food we feast on when famished and in dire need.

And, if the storm rages and ultimately takes us out, may we still look to You because then we will be able to see You looking at us.

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Always a Risk…

A calculated risk is still a risk…One thing I’ve learned in the medical field is that we can only do so much when it comes to prevention. We can and should do what we can do, but nothing guarantees we won’t be born with a congenital defect, have a heart attack, arrhythmia, or cancer.

We’ve all heard the stories about people who contract lung cancer having never smoked a day in their lives and about the women diagnosed with breast cancer and absolutely no family history. I’ve personally scanned multiple young healthy patients who have had heart attacks. They exercise every day, maintain a healthy weight, eat clean, yet still…I’ve also scanned the 500 pound smoker who’s heart is as healthy as can be.

We should do everything we can as far as preventive screening and healthy living to avoid and promote what we can. But, just like every time we drive a car, we risk getting into a wreck. Every time we fly in a plane, we risk crashing. Every time we change jobs, we risk not liking it like we’d hoped. The same goes for relationships and marriage. They both run the risk of break up and divorce.

This is not intended to be morbid post, but a truthful one. I’ve also learned that although we can never be a perfect spouse, we can be a GREAT one and still get left. Our spouse can die unexpectedly or our own lives can get cut short. Because of this, do what you can in the process of picking a mate, pray fervently, ask for God’s help, make your list, be true to what you want and don’t want, and then try and trust. Trust that if the break up comes before marriage, He’s watching out for you and if it comes after, He’s still beside you. Yes, there’s risk, but you’ll never know unless you try and fly.

So, eat your veggies, stay away from tobacco, limit your alcohol, watch your weight, wear your sunscreen and your seatbelts, get your mammograms and teeth cleaned, lock your doors at night, and give that guy a try. The one who fits. The one who has what you’re looking for, but you’re too afraid to try or what people might think. Know that every relationship, romantic and otherwise, is a risk we have to be willing to take. Truth is, we can’t experience love without potential heartbreak.

The more I learn about relationships, the more proud I am of the risks I’ve taken. I’ve tried, I’ve lost, I’ve learned, I’ve let go, and I’ve tried again. There’s so much to be said for perseverance, patience, and priorities. It takes a lot of courage to get back up on that horse after getting bucked off, especially multiple times. But, you’ll have to get back on in order to ride off into the sunset one day…

Siblings

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When I was pregnant with my youngest, I automatically assumed my girls would be immediate and consistent best friends. I have a brother and we weren’t overly close growing up. I thought it was more because he was a boy and I was a girl. Because of this, I wanted a sister so badly. A built in best friend. That’s what sisters are or must be, right? I didn’t know any different, so I assumed incorrectly.

Having the same mom and dad doesn’t automatically equal friendship. Just like being coworkers or neighbors doesn’t. I never knew. Just because I’m the type of person that wants to be friends with each and every person I meet, I naturally assume others feel the same way. Why not siblings?

My girls are very different. Five years apart, different interests, different body types, different temperaments, different personalities. As are my brother and I. Expecting them to be close is a set up for my own disappointment. They may be friends one day. And sometimes they appear to be. But, they will always be sisters. They can choose their friends, but they are bound by blood. If this is all they have in common, so be it. But, those rare moments when they act like they actually like each other, warm my heart and soul.

Never in a million years did I expect my girls to argue and annoy each other like they do. It’s pretty constant…..So much so, I’ll tell them my ears are bleeding from the incessant fighting. So, I pray. I pray for their hearts individually and towards each other. After all, that’s all I can do. I’ll separate and discipline them when necessary, but just like I can’t MAKE someone like me, I can’t MAKE them like each other.

I thought they would love to sleep together when they got old enough. Last night was the first time they voluntarily did. I was so thankful! In the past, one or the other always refused. Once my oldest finally agreed, the youngest decided she didn’t want to, probably out of spite. After that exchange, I was convinced it would never happen. Then, last night…I made sure they knew how much it meant to me this morning. My oldest said, “It’s not that big of a deal, Mom.” The kindness, the closeness, the mutual agreement on anything. When it is hard to come by, it’s a very big deal.

Brothers and sisters may not be best friends and that’s okay. If you have a brother or sister that is, wonderful!! Being a sibling happens at birth. Friendship is a choice. May your friends complement you and lift you up. May they encourage you when you’re down. May they make an effort to meet you where you are and remind you of how special you are when you forget. This is my prayer for my girls. They may or may not have that friendship with each other one day. Either way, may God fill their lives with friends that do. And, may they learn how to respect each others differences. May they love each other in spite of them. And, may they know how much I love them both. They don’t have to be friends, but they will always be sisters. And, that is irreplaceable too.

Raising kids is a whole new world. People can tell you, you can watch others, you can read books, you can take tips, but until you experience it, you just don’t know.

 

Painful Dealbreaker

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I find myself on the outskirts of another painful breakup. Another reason dating is hard. Another risk I’ve taken, put my kids in the middle of, and opened myself up to. This is very hard because he was a wonderful boyfriend. He treated me better than I’d been treated before, he respected me, committed to me, and loved me well. Marriage was on the horizon. Yet, here we are…

I go between sad, irritated, and thankful. Sad that it’s over. I miss him. Irritated that it came to this. Yet, thankful it came to a head before a wedding and not after. This didn’t come down to lack of love, rather compatibility. I have no doubt he loved me, all of me. All of me except my faith. That’s what it came down to. My church was our issue. He doesn’t agree with it and I do. The more he searched, the less he did. The more I pray and ask, the more I do.

No church is perfect. They are all set up by and filled with imperfect human beings, but I feel called in to serve and to help, not called out.

Once it finally came out that he wouldn’t/couldn’t marry a person of my denomination, I knew there was a change that needed to take place. Either I leave my church or we part ways. It came down to lack of peace vrs. pain. I knew in my heart, that I would feel a lack of peace walking away from my church.  Leaving would be turning my back to truth I believe in and that I want my daughters to learn as well. I also knew we would both feel pain letting this relationship go. We loved each other, no doubt. Pain doesn’t necessarily mean lack of peace. Peace may lead to pain if it means letting go of something you wanted so badly to work out.

This has been hard for us both. We both want what’s best for each other and I guess it’s not us together. I’ve learned another painful lesson. Two people can love Jesus with all they have, but if other beliefs are polar opposite, it can lead to unrest in a marriage and confusion for the kids. To be equally yoked is more than loving God. To be equally yoked is to be able to have a conversation about core beliefs and nod rather than shake your head. It makes sense to me that if you’re both following God and it’s leading you in different directions, it must be best to let that happen. This narrows the dating pool down even further than age, location, love, and tenderness. And, we all know how hard those are to come by.

I know in my head that I’d rather be single than forsake a faith that I believe in. But, my heart is grieving this loss and I pray that God will heal us both. I want us both ready for the ones He knows will meet our deepest desires in Him.

Pearls of Wisdom

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Is there anything more valuable than God’s wisdom in our life? We search for it like the treasure that it is. We crave it. We just want to know what He wants us to do in any given situation. Ultimately, His wisdom comes with a sense of assurance and confirmation. If the conflict in our heart does not cease, we are not there yet. The answer hasn’t arrived.

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Proverbs 2:10-11

What our hearts really desire is contentment, fulfillment, and peace. Peace with God leads to peace with ourselves. His wisdom brings peace, even when it’s the hard thing to do. If our hearts just don’t feel right about something, the Holy Spirit is speaking to us. Heed that feeling. Take note and seek wisdom. Remember, that His peace is a gift and a fruit of the Spirit that He loves to give us. We should cherish this gift as His children. Life won’t always be easy. But, if we don’t have peace, God is trying to tell us something. Listen….

I was in a relationship where everything seemed right on paper, but my heart was troubled. I couldn’t figure out why this guy who I assumed must be “the one” because he seemed to have everything on my list, just didn’t lead to peace. I tried to adjust and make changes to help ease the discomfort, but I still had turmoil in my heart. I thought maybe it was me, maybe I just wasn’t used to being really loved and that’s what he was doing. So, I gave it more time. I remained honest with him about my struggles and lack of peace. He reinforced my possible reasons like maybe it was because I was a naturally anxious person, this was new, and I was scared because of my past. He said he was willing to be patient with me and wait until I felt safe enough to fall in love. It wasn’t happening. So, I continued to plead with God to either take the discomfort away or reveal why on earth I had it.

I woke up at 4:30 one morning with very clear answers on exactly why I needed to end it. With clarity and conviction, I wrote the reasons down so I could recite them clearly when I called to let him know. In the aftermath, I saw so many confirmations of what God had revealed. His wisdom and me ending the relationship led to peace. It was hard, but the peace was worth it. God had answered and I obeyed. When we actively pursue His will, He is faithful to reveal it. Peace follows…

Turns out love is more than a “list”. Breakups are never easy, but if there is a lack of peace and comfort, they are necessary and wise. Whether it’s a career move, a friendship issue, a difficult family member, or a romantic relationship question, God has wisdom to share. He is very much active and aware of our concerns. He wants to help. Let’s let Him. Sometimes, His answer is to stay quiet, sometimes it’s to speak up, sometimes it’s to wait. But, when He answers, the best thing we can do is respond quickly. The way the chips fall are on His shoulders, not ours. Thank God we can trust Him with the outcome. This gives us peace. The outcome is His baby and we are His. Rest in that fact.

When we pray first and then follow our instincts, we can trust that the Holy Spirit is active. God is in control and He will never let us down. Pearls of wisdom will help us personally and help us help others in the process. God longs to reveal wisdom to those who seek it. It may be a struggle, but the pearls are worth it. Peace is the prize for pearls.

 

He did WHAT?!?!

anger

Have you heard the saying “Anger is hurt’s bodyguard”? I have no doubt that is true. Every time I feel anger bubbling up inside of me, if I take the time to look deeper, I can see it’s from some sort of pain that I’m trying to avoid or I’m tired of feeling. Target that pain and figure out what hurts. It could be betrayal, rejection, shock, confusion….ANGER. Boiling red hot anger is the result.

Jesus got downright angry when He witnessed people using the temple as practically a flea market. He threw tables over, He got red in the face, He raised His voice. “My house will be called a ‘house of prayer’, but you’re turning it into a gathering place for thieves!” — Matthew 21:13 GW. His anger was fueled by blatant disrespect. Can we stand up for each other? Can we stand up for God? Can we stand up for ourselves? Can we get angry about what counts and make a GOOD impact? Absolutely.

Next time anger boils to the surface, take the time to figure out where it truly stems from and how to deal with it appropriately. Are you angry over the disrespect of a person? Over being disrespected yourself? Over being cut off in traffic? Over computer issues? Anger isn’t necessarily a bad emotion. It does mean something is “wrong”. Something is “off”. Just take the time to analyze what you are angry about and why BEFORE acting. That’s the tough part! Our human natures kick in and we want to respond IMMEDIATELY. In some cases, like a child in imminent danger, there is cause to act out immediately.

But, MOST of the time, we get angry because we are hurt. We get rejected. We feel “less than”. We feel misunderstood. We assume the worst. Someone we love gets treated poorly. We FEEL. We are human beings and we were created to have feelings. Our feelings do matter, they shouldn’t be minimized, and we do have the right to speak up. But, our feelings should be assessed before acting on them. What’s going on here? Why am I SO angry?? How dare they? How dare I?

Anger is a normal human emotion. It comes and goes more than I’d like. But, how I act when I’m angry is what can leave a much bigger imprint than the feeling itself. Honestly, “counting to ten” doesn’t always help me, but breathing and praying DOES. Just breathe. Just pray. Take your time. Then….move forward. If something can be changed, do what you can to change it. If it can’t be changed, do what you need to do to accept it and keep going. Keep loving, forgive yourself, forgive others, and move forward in grace and mercy.

We are not alone in our emotions. We are ALL in this together. Anger is a passionate emotion and can easily lead to danger. Let’s use it to passionately propel us in a positive direction.