My Money Faucet…Quick!! Someone Get a Wrench!

money faucetSo I know in polite conversation you aren’t supposed to talk about God, politics or money. I already talk about God because He’s everything to me. And although I have very strong opinions about most things, I’ve decided to refrain from politics. But today I just gotta vent a bit about money.

Oh my goodness!!! I think it is literally pouring out of my bank account…there must be a faucet turned on that I’m unaware of and I desperately need to find it…FAST!!!

Yesterday I had to get new glasses…and since I’m over 40 they’re transition lenses. It’s a worthwhile investment (I hope) but ouch! Today the A/C motor went out and as the repairman gave me the quote I seriously wondered if we could just go without A/C upstairs this summer. Oh well…it’s just money right?

Tomorrow the car goes to the shop because I believe it has some serious indigestion problems. I’m hoping I get a mechanic that won’t take advantage of my inexperience with cars.

I also need to write a check to my community pool for the summer. We don’t do vacations…we jump in the pool! I just have to join.

In a few days I have to write a big ole check to the state of Virginia. I love my state but golly! Not THAT much!

I wish those were the only things…but it just goes on and on and on…

The year after my husband left I was so frugal that even with my tight budget I could save. And I took great comfort in that savings account. It was my security blanket.

My Dad asked me once how I was doing financially and I said, “I’m actually doing okay.” And I thought, “Wow! I am.” And then I patted myself on the back for having a savings account and being so careful. And I thought how wonderful it was that I had that safety net.

And then almost instantly I realized that I was trusting my own ability to take care of myself and my children. Not that it isn’t important to be wise with money, to be frugal and to save, but I had put an awful lot of faith in myself – in my ability to provide for my family. It was no longer about just being prepared it was about being in control.

I prayed for forgiveness and the right perspective. And BOY! Did God give it!

All of a sudden it seemed like everything needed repairs or to be replaced. Apparently my house had reached “middle-age” and needed some TLC. Unfortunately that TLC came at the expense (and I do mean expense) of my security blanket.

My savings account dwindled down in a surprisingly fast fashion. But I began again to put my trust in God…I didn’t have the money to trust anymore…therefore, the ability to control or at least feel in control was gone too.

I’m thinking maybe I didn’t learn that lesson adequately enough
…or God likes me in this place.

Because money just refuses to enter or stay in my account. I mean really…it’s getting almost comical. (Almost.)

I’m not sure how to approach it. I don’t know that I can add another thing to my life. But I gotta pray – maybe God will open my eyes to opportunities around me or ways I can save more.

But even though there is a bit of panic in my heart and head about this, I’m determined to trust that God will provide all that I need.

Okay…so while I’ve been typing this the repairman has been trying to fit the universal motor in my a/c unit and guess what!?! My unit will have none of it … they have to special order the part. It’s gonna cost more!!! ROTFL!

Seriously, I can’t stop laughing.

You know what…just bring it…God’s got this.

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My Peace Symbol

fish symbol for car

Peace.

That peace symbol is all over the place.  I see it on everything.  It’s difficult to avoid sometimes.  I don’t particularly care for it to be honest.  It doesn’t really speak peace to me.

It reminds me more of a time when there wasn’t peace…when people stood less for true peace and more for fake peace.  

I’m looking for the real deal.  I want Jesus peace.

Lately I’ve had a lot of people ask is there any relief from all the emotions and feelings of adultery, abandonment and divorce.  My answer is yes.  Yes. 

But what I’m finding is that peace in a sense is something I have to fight for…I have to choose.  

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Sometimes I feel more like a whirling dervish (what is a whirling dervish anyway?)  I feel all twisted up in knots and a bit frantic inside. 

The most difficult part is the way I feel.  I feel deep sorrow at times.  Sorrow that I can’t change what has happened or its effects, especially on my children.  And when those crushing feelings come crashing in…maybe I should say, crushing in…I just want to run away.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure all those blasted feelings would run with me.  I’m not a terribly fast runner so I’m sure they’d catch up even if I had a head start. 

From the beginning of this nightmare, I’ve wanted to escape the emotional component.  I didn’t want to feel what I was feeling…the sorrow was so intense.  Betrayal is brutal.  Now I think I struggle more with a profound sadness at the loss of what I thought would never be lost and the injustice of the whole situation.  And believe me there is a fair amount of injustice.

And yet, I’m reminded of my Savior.  His willingness to suffer injustice for me.  To feel intense sorrow for me.  To know betrayal for me.  To allow Himself to be punished for me.  To turn the other cheek and forgive for me.  What He suffered for me…I can’t even grasp it.

In no way am I attempting to compare my suffering with Christ’s – there is no comparison.  I just take great comfort in knowing that He understands all that I feel.  He gets me.

I want to be Christ-like, but dang it, sometimes I just really want to kick something. 

Kicking things is bad.

That’s when I need peace…when I gotta seek peace and pursue it.  Find it and grab it.

I keep being brought back again and again to Philippians 4:6-7.  Do not be anxious about anything (my children, my future, my situation with my ex…life) but in everything (no matter how wonderful or absolutely NOT wonderful) through prayer and petition (on my knees, on my face, in the car, in the shower, at the kitchen sink…) with thanksgiving (for everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly) present your requests to God (all of ‘em).  And the peace of God (which comes from Him and only Him), which surpasses all understanding (it makes no sense to have peace when life is so complicated and challenging), will guard your hearts (all those funky emotions) and your minds (all those crazy thoughts) in Christ Jesus (as always, anything good that happens in life is from Jesus).

That peace I long for…it’s available.  It’s God’s peace in Christ Jesus.  And it comes when I focus on Him.

You keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

My mind stayed.  I looked up “stayed” in my thesaurus.  Similar words were:  resided, settled, lodged, dwelled, stopped, abided, inhabited, have your home.  And my favorite was “to stand firm” 

Recently I spoke at the MomLife Bootcamp about dressing like a warrior.  I focused on Ephesians 6:10-20.  I LOVE those verses. 

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:13-15 (ESV)</p>

 I think those verses fit perfectly with my mind stayed on Christ.  The Amplified Bible says, “to stand (firmly in your place). Stand therefore (hold your ground).”  I envision it as planting my feet and being unwilling to move.  I want to plant my gaze firmly on Christ and not let it waver from Him.  That’s peace. 

It’s like Peter walking on the water during the storm.  As long as his gaze was fixed on Jesus, he actually walked on the water!  How cool is that! But as soon as he looked at the swirling waves he began sinking.  I’m the same way…if I focus on my circumstances they overwhelm me.  I want to focus on Christ so that He overwhelms me with His love and peace! Ahhh…the peace which passes all understanding…even in the midst of storms and trials.  He is so good to give it.

Maybe I need to figure out my own peace symbol.  Maybe that cool ancient fish symbol. (You know that one we stick to our cars and hope nobody notices when we drive like crazy people.)  I think that works.  When I see it maybe I’ll take a breath, say a prayer, thank my Savior, and let His peace wash all over me.  Sounds like a really good plan. 

Being Right and Other Wrongs

Red Boxing Gloves Hanging on WallNothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than our trying to be right and demanding right of others. We become preoccupied with what is and what is not right. We ask ourselves, Have we been justly or unjustly treated? And we think thus to vindicate our actions. But that is not our standard. The whole question for us is one of cross-bearing. You ask me, “Is it right for someone to strike my cheek?” I reply, “Of course not! But the question is, do you only want to be right?” As Christians our standard of living can never be “right or wrong,” but the Cross.
Watchman Nee “Sit, Walk, Stand”

Recently I had a very difficult confrontation with my ex-husband.

Originally I wrote a blog that shared what had happened in hopes that I could “help” someone else who was dealing with an ex-spouse who says mean things. But I realized that my intent was not simply to help someone, but also to vindicate myself in a sense. I knew that I was right and dang it I was gonna make sure that everyone else knew it too…including my ex.

This situation…ugh.

I want my ex-husband to own it. He will not.

Maybe he can’t.

Again I have realized that…

It’s not my job to convince him that his actions were wrong. In fact, I should not try.

But what is my job? I mean, in these circumstances, what do I do?

I’m reminded of this verse from Micah. I know that it was written in response to Israel asking God what they should do…God’s response is that they should already know. And in a sense, I feel that I do know, even though I continue to ask the question.

In this verse God again shows Israel that He is not pleased by empty rituals or liturgy, but rather by justice, kindness (mercy) and humility.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

I gotta be honest and say that I’m not sure about the “do justice” part…because my idea of doing justice is probably not exactly right. Sometimes, like during that confrontation, I want my ex-husband to feel the weight of justice landing a right hook on his jaw.

THAT is NOT right.

According to Strong’s concordance another word for justice is “rightness”.

Rightness. Hmmmm…as much as I want to say, “See, that means I need to be right!” I believe that a more accurate definition would be that I need to act right. And acting right and being right can be two very different things.

God wants me to act in a way that brings Him glory…not me. I so want to vindicate myself and make things right…my definition of right. (It’s amazing how many times that word is coming up in this blog!)

Sue’s definition of right: … I’d write it but it’s wrong anyway.

AND, in beginning to attempt to write it I realized that I’m still trying to make my ex-husband’s actions known and despised.

Still trying to be right.

Maybe doing justice for me means that I trust that God is going to deal justly with this situation. Maybe it means that I act more Christ-like and less Sue-like. Maybe it means that I don’t strive to be right, but I strive for peace.

I will be praying about this, because I know that God is showing me what He wants me to do, but I gotta be honest and say that I’m not feelin’ it yet.

I will pray.

And I know when I pray God is going to reveal how often His justice in my life has been tempered by His grace and mercy. That were I to feel the left hook of justice hitting my jaw…well, let’s just say, it would be deserved but not appreciated.

Thankfully, He will give me the grace, the strength, and the ability to do all that He has called me to do with justice, mercy, and kindness.

Praise God that He will always be right…and His right is always best.

The Most Important

trampoline picAs I’ve been preparing for my talk at the MomLife Bootcamp this weekend, I was once again reminded that my life is not conducive to completing projects in a timely and organized manner.

I used to be an organized person…or at least I used to be able to appear like an organized person.

In my pre-mommy life I was a conference planner, but that was before 5 other people could mess with my schedule, my to-do list, and my sanity.

I really am a planner at heart. I really want to be that organized, put together, getterdone, check things off my list kinda gal. But I always seem to be waylaid.

I’d like to be able to accomplish SOMETHING! Anything!!!

There is always something that sneaks up and changes the dynamics of my day. I’ve said before that I feel like I’m always flying by the seat of my pants because my best-laid plans are for naught most days.

Spontaneity is great for a night out but not as a way of life.

I’m wondering if maybe putting a little bit less on my to-do list would be helpful…then maybe I could end the day without feeling disappointed.
I have a friend who says, “Do a little, do it well.” I think I’m more “Do a lot, do it okay.” Or “Try to do a lot. Find you can’t. Then beat yourself up about it.”

Yeah that’s me.

My kids want me…just me. Not me and a perfect house…you can’t have any fun in a perfect house anyway.

There are a lot of sayings about a messy house being a happy home. I get the idea to a point but a little order is good…right? I think the key is finding balance, understanding my priorities, relaxing.

Maybe relaxing some of our expectations…the reasonable ones and the unreasonable ones.

Honestly, we all probably need to relax in general. I know…show me how, when and where and I’m there.

As much as I wish relaxing was a glass of sweet tea, a good book and a hammock…mine is more sitting on the grass watching my son’s soccer game, putting aside my work to enjoy my daughters riding bikes in the culdesac, or sharing the sofa with 3 or more children to watch a movie.

In some ways maybe it’s an attitude.

Choosing not to stress about the stuff we can’t fix and maybe even the stuff we can.

Now that’s a God-sized task to be sure! But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13) There is also this lovely verse, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

I think it’s okay to be still and quiet and rest.

Okay, so how are we gonna do this rest thing?

I’ve been trying to figure it out for days, months…years.

When was the last time I felt rested, calm, and strong? Actually I do remember a time.

It was right after my husband announced he wanted to leave. Those months of anguish were also months of profound peace and calm. I believe it was solely because I was saturated with Scripture. I also had a clarity about what was important. And it wasn’t accomplishing great things nor was it a clean house or work completed. It was and always will be my children.

Tonight my children asked if they could all go jump on the trampoline. It was close to bedtime, but I wanted to work a little bit longer on my talk, so I said, “Ok, just 10 minutes.” As I sat near the window listening to my children laughing and playing, I couldn’t stop thinking that I wanted to be out there with them. I just had to put my stuff aside.

When I walked out barefoot ready to jump, my kids all asked, rather incredulously, “Momma, are you going to jump with us?” I cannot tell you how thankful I was that God had prompted me to put aside the important for the most important.

I guess it’s rather simple, isn’t it? Soaking up the scripture and pouring into our children. That’s not too much to organize! I might be able to do that!
I know that there is much more to it than that…living this single parent life is so difficult and overwhelming at times. But maybe we need to take our eyes off of all the craziness and focus on Christ and put aside the to-do list and focus on the people in our lives. Maybe we can stop trying so hard to do so much and we can just be for a bit.

Be in prayer. Be in the Word. Be with our people.

God’s got this. He’s got our. He’s got us.

He’s even got this silly talk I can’t seem to get my head around. I’m so thankful.

Still not organized…but thankful.

Anyone Else Feel Done?

Young woman lying back on a couch talking on a mobile phone

Today I feel done.

I am done.

Done with disrespect and disobedience and difficulties.

Done with trying to reason with teenagers.

Done with trying to reign in kindergarteners.

Done with trying to make decisions.

Done with trying to get organized.

Done with cleaning up the mess my ex-husband has made. 

Done with trying to understand how to parent all these children alone.

Done with trying to figure out how to do this life with any sense of grace, composure, or patience.

Done.

There are so many things to think about and do…I’m tired.  I just wish I could take a timeout and have a replacement come in for a bit of this game.  Being a single parent is hard.

I had to confront a child today on cell phone usage and school issues.  Golly, you would have thought that cell phone was her only source of oxygen. 

I wanted to work with her and help her develop a plan to exercise responsible use of her phone and her schoolwork.  Instead I was met with all those stereotypical teenage responses.  Those responses which make my head close to exploding.  

Until about 4 months ago, my daughter was not stereotypical…and then boys entered the picture, and cheerleading, and that blasted cell phone. 

I hate technology.

I want my children to be able to contact me while they are with their dad, but…ugh…I hate cell phones. 

Unfortunately it has become, to some of my children, a right not a privilege.  And what a colossal waste of time this “right” offers!

She is avoiding responsibilities and school work.  My sweet, sweet daughter has become a very entitled, insecure young woman.  She does not believe she is smart and therefore has no vision for what her life can become.  At 15 that is a bit disconcerting.  I know that her self-esteem and image issues have a lot to do with our family’s situation, but it doesn’t help me know how to deal with them.

I have had the most wonderful relationship with her for so long I’m floored by this new turn of events.  I know my dear daughter is in there somewhere…Lord, please help me reach her.

I do know that some of her behavior is ordinary teenage angst, but I want my daughter to be extraordinary.  I believe she is.

Everything I say to build her up she calls a “mom lie.”  She says it’s like a mom telling her daughter she’s pretty even when she isn’t.   Ugh.  That so isn’t true.  My daughter is smart, talented, and beautiful inside and out.  She just doesn’t see it or feel it. 

I’m broken-hearted for my darling daughter.  I cannot be her father as much as I try to…I’m a miserable failure at it.  I cannot give to her what her dad was designed to provide. 

But even as I write in my despairing state, God has laid it on my heart that He is the perfect Father for my daughter.  Oh that she knew that to her core.  She does not.  Her faith is wobbly at best and I’m afraid I’ve failed miserably there as well.  I felt certain my children would be firm in their faith because of God’s faithfulness throughout our challenges…unfortunately, I think some of my children still only see the challenges.

I’ve not pointed out His care and provision often enough.  I’ve been praising Him to everyone but my children.  Father, forgive me and may your grace pour over my children and all my parenting mistakes.

A friend reminded me the other day how important prayer is…how it’s vital that we pray with our children and allow them the privilege of seeing God answer.  I’m sitting her realizing that although at this point my daughter and I have made up, we have not prayed together.  How is that even possible that I didn’t pray with her?

I think I best stop typing and go pray with my daughter…to show her that my strength and hers is from the Lord…that He cares about all these big and little issues…and He will answer.  And I think I’ll also remind her of who she is in Christ…beloved, precious, God’s workmanship, more than a conqueror, able to do all things in Christ, forgiven and saved.  She cannot say that is a “mom lie.”  God said it!

Before I go, thank you so very much for listening…for allowing me to process my thoughts through my fingers, and come, as always, back to my Faithful Father and His love for me and my dear children.