Listening….

Recently I faced what could be a life-altering decision. Actually two. On paper, the choices that I should make were obvious. But I felt a tugging towards other options, and peace did not come to me until after I made my decisions accordingly.

You might call that instinct. Some believe that intuition can guide you through life, if you’re quietly in tune with that inner voice.

I haven’t always been quiet enough to hear those warnings inside, telling me what to do, what and who to avoid, and decisions I should and shouldn’t make. In fact, I kinda sucked at it most of my life!

So in my relatively recent quest to learn who I am at the core of my being, I started to recognize and listen to that “voice.” I attribute this to having gained more control over my emotions and giving less response to people and situations, in listening more than I talk, spending increased time in prayer and meditation, and in searching for guidance in Scripture. But mostly, just listening.

listening
Something I’ve learned – If you keep having the same quiet thought that something might not be right, or it feels like your soul gets pinched when you’re about to make a certain decision – that might actually be God talking to you! You should listen, even if it’s against what you want. Because one day when you look back, you’ll see He knew best!

Isaiah 55:8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

Jeremiah 1:5“Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you…”

Matthew 10:30“But the very hairs on your head are numbered.”

Isaiah 49:16“See, I have engraved your name on the palm of my hands.”

How awesome it is to know the Creator of the universe sees me, knows me, loves me, AND has my well-being at heart! He sees the whole spectrum of my life, from beginning to end, and knows what might seem okay to me now might not be good for me down the road.

So…instinct or God? I guess it’s hard to tell. As a believer who has lived in faith most of my life (but stepped out long enough to wreck my life), I lean towards trusting that my footsteps are ordered and He will guide me if I give Him my control of my heart and life…and if I listen!

It’s not easy though, and trusting in an unseen force is certainly against human nature. But through trial and error, I found that quiet trust in His guidance is the way to live in peace.

I can’t really explain why I made the decisions I did. But for once, I just know they were the right ones.

Not sure why I wrote this. Just thinking about how grateful I am for every door that’s been opened for me, AND for every closed one!

A Picture of Success

I’ve been reflecting today about how people measure success differently.

It seems like most folks consider rolling in money, fame and popularity as getting their piece of the pie.

I can definitely see where being financially blessed has it’s perks (duh). I realize you can get more done when you have the dough. But at this point, being on my own makes all of that seem like a lifeless goal. Yes, I realize friends and family would come out of the woodwork if I ever hit it big, but it wouldn’t count. If I’m out there ballin’ for overtime and bonus pay, but don’t have a soulmate to share it with, it doesn’t mean much.

A couple may have to shop at Aldi to save money. But if they can have intelligent conversation while curled up together at night, as they inspire one another to push themselves to be the best they can be, believing in one another and praying each other through hard times, to me they have already reached success!

My pastor said the other night, “You can be content without being satisfied.” I would consider it a dream come true to have a partner who, like me, was not satisfied until we reached our individual and shared goals, but who had peace and contentment along the way, and already felt successful while on the journey.

I aspire to be effective on my job, with my writing, and I most definitely have other personal goals and plans, but how interesting it would be to already feel successful in 2017 while I work toward these achievements!

To me, it’s about the journey as much as the destination. (Thank you, Aerosmith, for those words!) Although I know where my final destination is going to be, this picture would be my pinnacle of success along the way – me and the king of the castle, working for what’s ours and what God has for us!

IMG_3630.jpg

How do you define success for yourself? Are you there yet? What are you doing to reach it? If met with obstacles, are you willing to fight for it?

Here’s to success in 2017, whatever that may look like to you!

In Repair

Please, dear God, let 2017 be better than 2016!

It’s been a year of false starts and knock-downs, renewed hope and crushed desires, rekindled dreams and reality checks. But I guess even all of that is a huge improvement from previous years when I actually thought my life was over! Thank God I survived those years! (Can anyone give me a post-divorce, post-cancer or post-any-kind-of-trauma AMEN?)

Still, what is it about 2016 that makes me want to look twice before crossing over into 2017? I feel ready – repaired from past damage – but what if I’m not? It is taking so very long for me to arrive, but maybe this time I’ll be ok.

The reason I hesitate isn’t because of fear – I think it’s because I really want it to be right, and I really want to be ready. You see every time I step out too soon, it just doesn’t work. Each time I make the wrong choice, I fail miserably. I seriously don’t just stumble either – I fall flat on my face, skirt over my head, and roll right off the edge of a tall building and into oncoming traffic – it’s ugly! I’ve learned that timing is everything. And if I’m not careful my next move could set me back again.

So I’m hesitant. Am I ready to step out and make these decisions just yet? I don’t want to be wrong!

I remember one time when I left my car at the dealership for some work to be done. It was promised to me in two days, so when the time came I went to pick it up. When I saw it, the front tires were new, and when I started it I could tell immediately that the battery had been replaced. I thought I was good to go! But as soon as I put it in gear, the same grinding sound that I had before was still present, and boy, was I mad! I huffed into the office and crossly informed them that they had not fixed it. Upon investigating, it was discovered that miscommunication among the mechanics had caused them to miss the most crucial problem of all. I had assumed I was ready to drive away. But there was still an unresolved problem under the hood.

Nothing can defeat you more than when you believe you have fixed your issues and that you’re good to go, only to get neck-deep into your next “situation” and find out that you’re still drowning in the same problems you had before!

So as I come to the beginning of a new year, I’m shaky from past events, but I still have hope in the future. I’m focused on decisions I need to make, and I’m determined to take the steps towards personal goals and in becoming the person God planned.

The question is, even though I’m not who I used to be, am I repaired enough to be ready for what is to come?

Life After Disney

Life after Disney

I got this Disney Cruise Line promo in the mail today. It made me cry. Not because the idea of a magical getaway makes me sad – quite the contrary. It’s because I was transferring emotions from my life lately into this beautiful, picturesque Disney propaganda.

It seems like yesterday when I held my daughter up to see her favorite Disney characters in the parade on Main Street. It seems like last week when she carried her stuffed Simba in a baby blanket throughout the parks, or the day she was dressed as Princess Jasmine from head to toe.

But this week was quite the contrast. Two nights ago, I was awoken at 2:00 a.m. by her bursting through my front door, makeup and tears streaming down her face. She was shaking like a leaf when she told me about a strange girl who was obviously strung out on drugs, begging for help at her front door, following her into her house as my daughter tried to wake her roommate for help. “Mom, I didn’t know what to do! My phone was in the other room, she was following me through the house, and my roommate was drunk and wouldn’t wake up!” To make a long story short, she was very traumatized by the event, and has refused to go back to her house since, so she has been staying with me again.

I’m apparently not handling this stage of life very well, as I wiped away real tears tonight looking at this Disney promo. I want life to stop, or at least slow down. I want to see my daughter’s face light up with that precocious smile she had before she ate the proverbial apple and had her eyes opened to the pain and evil in life.

I want to stop being sick. I’m in my third month of virus after virus, and my immune system is shot. I want to love my job again – but burnout has hit me full force. I want to be with the people I love, and not miss them night after night.

And I really want to go on a Disney cruise.

Bathsheba’s Grief

Bathsheba's Grief

I’ve been thinking about the death of David and Bathsheba’s infant son, the sorrow that must have surrounded the house during that time, and how the Bible described their individual grieving.

As most probably know, David was the king of Israel with several wives and concubines, as was common in that day. Plus, he was king – he could do whatever he wanted. And what he wanted was a beautiful married woman, as he watched her bathe on her rooftop near the palace! The two spent some time hanging out, and she ended up pregnant. Her husband had been on the battlefield, and when David failed to set him up to come home and sleep with his wife and take credit for the pregnancy, he instead had him killed in battle. But David’s sins were found out, and the price was very costly.

We read about the baby boy being born so sick that, after his birth, David fasted and prayed, consulted with the elders, and lay on the ground covered in ashes. He wept and begged God to spare the life of his son. This went on for a week before the newborn died. Then David had what I think is a male response – instead of losing his mind over the news like everybody expected, the Bible says he “rose from the earth, washed and anointed himself, changed his apparel, came into the house of the Lord and worshipped.” And he ate.

As a woman, this response is difficult to understand because it seems to be reversed of what I, as a mother, would do. I don’t think I would be able to get up off the floor, let alone all the other things he accomplished right away after hearing the news of his son’s death! David was done grieving at this point, but Bathsheba was not.

I think this is because men are problem solvers. When a problem arose, such as his sick baby needing intervention, David kicked into gear and did everything he knew to do. Men solve problems, but women are nurturers! I imagine that Bathsheba tried to nurse the baby, rock him, and give him the customary care for that time. But when he died, she could no longer hold him to her chest and give him the milk, life or love she so desperately wanted to give.

When a loved one is taken from us, I think we as women sometimes even hold onto and nurture our grief when we can no longer nurture the loved one. Even in broken relationships, have you ever noticed how most men vs women move on after a breakup? Guys don’t cry for long, they find someone else, and they go on living. Meanwhile the woman is still calling up her girlfriends months later to rehash the relationship and her feelings, his picture still sits next to her bed, and she will go through prayer lines at church to be delivered or to have their relationship restored. “But I still love him!” she exclaims. “Oh God, I miss him so bad it hurts!” Meanwhile, he has a new girlfriend…who is probably younger….

Ok, I know this doesn’t apply to every relationship, person, or situation, but in general, you get my point! I realize men grieve over loss too – just differently. And although we are wired differently, maybe the take-home-point of this could be that women should learn to move on with more grace and ease than we often do.

The Bible says that David went in to comfort Bathsheba in her grief. And he must’ve been effective, because the Bible says at that time she conceived another baby – Solomon. Comforting her not only distracted her from her grief, it separated her from it, and she was able to pick up and go on living as well.

When you grieve, what comforts you? Whether your pain be from the death of a loved one, a broken relationship, sickness, or whatever loss you find to be significant enough to cause your heart to ache, we all crave to be comforted. David comforted his wife, and his love helped heal her.

Sometimes when we hurt, we look for comfort in unhealthy ways – like alcohol, pain pills, smoking, overeating, gossip, being a hermit and shutting out the world, or in a multitude of other unhealthy habits and unproductive coping mechanisms. But those are mere distractions – not a source of true healing. Healthy comfort promotes healing, and with true healing comes freedom from all guilt, chaos, and confusion that our pain and loss often bring to us.

Are you holding onto something that you need to let go? Maybe you’re smiling over the pain, disaster, heartache, as we women often do, but you’re not truly free? I know – I’ve been bound by both grief and guilt, but I’m finding comfort in my faith, being in the presence of my God, and He is bringing amazing healing and freedom to my life! I still don’t understand the “why’s” in my past, but I have hope in tomorrow, and I believe He has a plan for my life, just as He did Bathsheba.

This woman, who had no doubt suffered from guilt and grief, went on to birth the next king of Israel! What do you hold inside of you that’s keeping you from your next level? The cognitive dissonance of grief can be deafening, confusing, and can steal what you are meant to do with your life. God is not the author of confusion – get away from it! If God can get you to stop grieving over your past, your loss, you could produce your own legacy in your next chapter!

Social Media…Enemy or Ally?

Social Media...Enemy or Ally?

One might argue that social media could be a valuable tool to positively influence a world full of hurting people to hang in there, look to God, keep fighting, pursue their dreams, and to let love live in their hearts.

Others could argue that social media is a tool that people hide behind, to troll and bully the weak and hurting, or to portray their lives as a lie to convince others that they have it all together, that their life is sweet bliss and perfection.

Social media is really a mixture of both. It’s a tool that can either ruin a person’s day, or make it brighter. Ask anyone who has ever had personal pictures or stories “go viral” by social media – it can build up or destroy.

Even though I am sometimes tempted to vent and let some crazy out on Facebook or Twitter, I really just want to positively influence others. I try and check my heart and my posts to make sure what I say is not negative, but yet is still always from a transparent and honest standpoint.

Because, like you, I don’t want to be influenced by someone who consciously puts effort towards convincing the world that they have a charmed life. Give me someone who has struggled, who has even temporarily given up, someone who has made the decision to come back fighting, even though the battle was yet great. Someone who can encourage me to hang in there, not because it’s sounds pretty to say, but because they hung in there and lived to tell about it, and they have personally seen God step in and change their situation. This is the message I want to receive, and give to others.

We humans don’t need to feel inadequate or fallible any more than our spiritual enemy would already have us feel!

To quote my pastor, “I hate the devil!” I’ve seen the enemy wreck havoc on my kid, family, marriage, my job, and on our country and our world. It breaks my heart, makes me angry, and I sometimes feel like I’m losing it! But then I remember…”For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

I want to fight back, and one of the ways I can do this is to use social media to do good – not as a tool to vent or feel superior to others, and certainly not to bash, spread negativity or division.

I want people to know that I’ve been at the bottom in life, divorced, unemployed, struggling with depression, emotional instability, and insane fear. But I’ve always, always, always, found God to be a source of peace and love when I humbled myself and called on Him!

I want people to know that I’ve tried other sources of happiness, searched for other sources of love, only to find out the hard way that only Jesus can satisfy this need I have to be seen, loved, cherished, and protected from harm.

This blog was never intended to be a preachy platform, but I promised myself and my audience in the very first post that I would always be real and open, and today this is what’s on my heart. So I’m using Facebook and Twitter to say what I feel. He is my strength and I’m loved by Him!

Love God, love others, serve the world – even if you’re kinda screwed up with past hurt and present scars…like me. And when something goes right in your world, maybe you could use social media to help encourage others to hang in there too!

Labor Day Alien

labor day alien

 

Ah, the Labor Day Weekend photos have taken over social media! Lots of boating-at-the-lake pics, as well as talk about autumn approaching.

I had to work this past weekend, so today is my Labor Day (day off). And as usual, any long amounts of quiet time for me induces random pondering, so here are today’s not-so-deep thoughts…

Regarding so many social media posts over the past few days – I hate to be a traitor to my race and gender, or provide any further proof that I might indeed be an alien, but I think Indiana lakes are dirty and gross! Give me a chlorinated pool, please! I know, I’m weird.

Furthermore, I don’t like the taste or smell of pumpkin-spice-anything, and I think Luke Bryan sounds like he needs to burp. Now my female cohorts are questioning why we are even friends!

I’m not done. So, all you girls who are excited over the soon-to-be piles of crunchy leaves have obviously never had to clean a gutter! I saw a dead leaf lying on the ground today and caught myself giving it a dirty look. You may love the falling leaves in all of autumn’s pumpkin spice glory, but I know what’s coming….

And ladies, while I’m at it, what’s the big deal if the toilet seat is left up or down by the male population? It’s not a seat issue, it’s a lid issue. The lid should be shut by everyone, every time. It’s just good etiquette! Can we, as a society, end the war between men and women over the toilet seat drama once and for all?

In addition to the above trivial differences, I dont drink coffee. I don’t watch The Walking Dead, The Voice, or The Bachelor. I don’t small-talk well, and I’m very literal in my communication.

If I could make it happen, I would understand people, and they would understand me. But this is the life I have, and I do love it, especially the people in it! But I guess voicing my individuality helps me cope with the alienation I sometimes feel.

Ok, I’m done. Christi phone home now. Happy Wednesday everyone! ✌🏼

image