Awful weeks…beware.

winter treeWe have all had those weeks.

You know the ones…where not a single thing goes well.  Where awful seems to be the word that describes most things, if not all things.

Last week would qualify as one of those weeks.  Awful, awful, awful.

But in just a few short days God has provided some relief…some peace in the storm.

I’m afraid I might be struggling a bit more than I ever have.  I’m finding a sense of hopelessness invading at times, and it is disarming.

Even as my head knows that I serve a loving and faithful God who will indeed make good out of everything, I struggle.

After 6 years of this nutty life, I’m just tired.

The last several months have been very difficult…in some ways more difficult than anything else in the past several years.

I’ve mentioned all the changes before so I won’t bore you with a litany of my challenges.

One of the biggest thing has been feeling so very alone.

I’m surprised how alone I can feel surrounded by people.

I continually remind myself of the good that has come from our move here.  How having this job is wonderful.  How my children being in great schools is wonderful.  How having a new beginning is wonderful…I think.

But…there are so many buts.

The other night I spoke with a friend and poured out my heart.  How deeply unhappy I feel right now…how alone and hopeless.

How I desperately want to be near my dear friends who now are far away.  How I desperately want to make new friends but cannot find the time to spend a moment away from work or family or school.  How things I thought would be blessings, safe places, and peace of mind seem like anything but.

There is that dang but again.

This friend told me that I need to figure this out  with God – that no one else can help me.  I know that’s right…getting my head and heart in the best place can only happen with God.  But I have to be honest and say that I really want people in my life… I had that. I left that.

This is a hard place and sometimes I wonder if I have made a huge mistake.

But I just have to believe God led me here.

Usually, if not always, the reason is to bring me closer to Him.

How I desperately want to be closer to Him.  But I can’t seem to find the time like I used to.  When life changed 6 years ago, I stayed up late and got up early to spend time in the Word.  I was so much more on top of things.

I just feel almost frantic for sleep…which is always in short supply.  I can’t seem to get everything done in a day.  Sleep deprivation is merely a time thing.  There just isn’t enough time for sleep.

In the past I would have advised someone to just forego a little of that precious sleep for time in the Word.  I would still say that is ideal, but now that I’m here in this place…this sleep deprived, overwhelmed, way-too-busy, frustrated single working old mom place…I don’t know how to do it myself.

I’m at a loss.

A few weeks ago I managed to get to bed at 9:30, mostly because I was sick, but I woke up at 5 and had an hour to study and pray.  It was a great day.  I had that peace that passes understanding thing.

I know that if I get time in the Word I do life better.  If I pray, I have perspective.

I have to figure it out.  I just have to.

I know I’m going to come back to that place of just do it.  Just pray already!  Pray and ask God for His leading, His provision, and His strength.

Golly, it’s easy to say that…easy to say I’m just gonna pray more and get in the Word more.

I think if I look back at my other blogs, I’d find myself saying that A LOT!

It’s my life lesson – pray, seek God and rest in Him.

I’m finding it difficult, but God can help me.

And what has come to mind are all those verses with the phrase, “But God…”

For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 8:6-8

What a blessed reminder that even though I struggle so in my life, God still shows me His love.  He loves me.  Flawed, sinful me.  How thankful I am that I can repent of my sins…of my wallowing and wailing and whining.  Recently, I heard about 4 different people in various venues discuss repentance.  I think I need to consider it more.  I’m praying that God will open my eyes to areas in my life in need of repentance.  I’m praying that God will give me strength to stand firmly against temptation and to withstand trials with a steadfast spirit and a gentle heart.

I’m praying for change…godly change.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  Genesis 50:20

What a glorious reminder that somewhere in this mixed-up mess of a life, God is going to bring about good.  I have to keep reminding myself that that promise doesn’t mean that I will see the good right away…or maybe even ever.

I haven’t been in a good place to receive this anywhere but God’s word.  You know what I mean?  I don’t always graciously accept the comment, “God has a plan in all this…”  I think because I know it already…I just sometimes don’t get it or feel it.  Sometimes I just want someone to say, “Man, your life is not awesome!”  And then I can say, “I know, right!?”

But God, He can say it.  He can remind me a thousand times and it is always welcomed and comforting.

I have to get back to trusting Him for the good I can’t see.

I’m still going to pray for glimpses of the good for my kids and me, and that our faith will be encouraged by the way God uses this difficult time in our lives.

And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.” Luke 15:15

Oooo, this verse got me.  Jesus was talking to the Pharisees who were lovers of money and were ridiculing Him.  I’m sure there are many ways to apply this verse, but today God has reminded me that He knows my heart.  That no matter how I try to justify my behavior, He knows what is really going on.  He always knows more about what’s going on in me than I do.  I very rarely understand what or why or when or whatever…I confuse myself.  But God knows me…and He loves me with an everlasting love.

How in the world is that possible?  Another thing I can’t grasp, but am so thankful to know.

God knows me and loves me still…I don’t know if I will ever truly grasp that, but I see it…I experience it.

This week started off as a continuation of last week which was one of THOSE weeks.  And I feared for my sanity, but God did a blessed thing for me.  THREE snow days!  Three days to catch up.  Three days to sleep as late as my little ones would allow me to sleep.  Three days to wear jeans and slippers.  Three days.  What a blessing!

And during these blessed snow days, I’ve had the opportunity to have conversations with friends from far away.  Friends who have encouraged me and even understood the depth of my emotions.  Friends who have offered prayers and comfort. I’m so thankful for godly women in my life.

And I’ve been blessed with time with my children…sledding, snowball fights, and Uno.   IMG_7875

And I’ve been blessed to spend time in the Word.  Much needed time in the Word.  I hope I can start good habits in these three days.  Sleep and study.

So awful weeks beware….I’m acutely aware you will come…probably more often than I’d like…and I’m not going to face you unprepared.

Those weeks…or even days…are opportunities to seek God.  And seek Him I will…sleep deprived or not.

Enough to be Happy and Healthy

dinner setting   Last evening I had the pleasure of sitting with an eighty-three year old gentleman at a church dinner in the fellowship hall of a lovely little Baptist church.  He was so sweet and kind.  A fellow that clearly had worked hard all his life.  He told me about his grandchildren and attending the dedication of his first grandchild recently.  Shared about losing his wife last February and how she had been sick for 10 years.  How the last 5 years had been very difficult after her stroke.  How he missed taking care of her.

Oh how blessed I was to hear this man’s story…told with gentleness, humor at times, an undercurrent of sorrow, and three (maybe four) helpings of dessert.  🙂

He shared how one lady at church asked how he was doing – taking care of his wife, the house, and the big yard.  He said, “I keep it clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.”

I love that!

And something I find even more wonderful…this man meant it.  He didn’t just have a cute quip to share.  He understood living a full, busy, difficult life.  It encouraged me so much.

It was like a fresh breeze.  I didn’t realize how much I needed to be encouraged until I sat listening to this man share.  I didn’t realize how someone simply sharing their story could be such a blessing.  I don’t believe he shared with the intention of anything more than getting to know me.  He don’t think he even knows my circumstances.

It was delightful.

There haven’t been many people in my life who are willing to just take me as I am…who aren’t telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing.  I’m weary of being advised.  I’m weary of feeling like I pretty much mostly disappoint people.

And that leads me to my second encounter at church this evening.  One of the most amazing women I’ve ever met approached me and apologized that she hadn’t reached out to me more.  I hadn’t expected it.

This woman…she has lost so much more than I can imagine.  Her young son went to be with the Lord last year.  It takes my breath away to even consider the loss.  And here she was apologizing to me!  But then she said something that struck me…something I needed to hear…she said that those feelings of always disappointing others were probably the lies of Satan.  I said, “Yes, I think you’re right.”

Do I?  Do I think she’s right?

I absolutely do.

I think that every time those thoughts come into my head I need to take them captive.  I need to recognize them for what they are…just like this dear lady did.

Those aren’t my only thoughts that need to be thrown way far away.

The thoughts like:

“No one will ever really and truly love me…just me.”

‘There is something wrong with me and I don’t know exactly what it is – no one will be faithful to me.”

“I’m an awful mother.”

“I haven’t made one good decision yet.”

“I’ll never get it all together…I’ll always be a mess.”  (Well, that one might be true. J)

I spend a lot of time thinking about all the things I’m not good at, all the things I do wrong, all the people I disappoint, all the times I could have made different decisions….I could go on and on and on.

But, I don’t need to…it’s bad for me.

I think right now I just want to remind myself that there are thoughts that aren’t worth having.

And just sitting with a friend – old or new – and sharing life is a blessing beyond compare.

Isn’t God amazing?  I would never have guessed that a simple lasagna dinner on Styrofoam plates at church could encourage me so much, but it did.  Totally God.

He knew that today I would need encouraging…today I would need to remember to take thoughts captive and that perfection isn’t possible.  That healthy and happy are great goals.

Lord, thank you for the reminder of your faithfulness, care, and love in these little things…these little moments of blessing.

My Life…Living It

autumn trailThank you so much for all your encouraging words and prayers.  I feel badly that I have used this blog so often to share my struggles, and lately not as much my blessings.

I kinda feel like I’m just plugging along waiting for God to “fix” some things.  He definitely doesn’t work on my schedule…at all…I mean….AT ALL!

But He has encouraged me this week, and for that I’m so very thankful.

I’ve been doing a study on the book of Hebrews…not an easy study, but very good.  This week I was asked to read about the Israelites, particularly the part where they are complaining. That is a BIG part of their history. And mine. I know that I have compared myself to the Israelites before…I’m a grumbler just like them, dang it.

Did you ever think about the fact that the Israelites who had to wander in the wilderness because of their unwillingness to trust God were the generation who had witnessed all of the signs and wonders of God?  That hit me this week.

Those people had lived through the plagues of Egypt….they’d witnessed God changing the hearts of the Egyptians so much so that they gave them jewelry and animals and stuff to take on their journey…they’d followed the pillar of smoke during the day and been comforted by the pillar of fire at night, they’d walked through a wall of water, they’d eaten manna, feasted on quail and seen water come from a rock…Good grief!  It seems like even one of those signs or wonders would be enough to convince someone to follow God forever.

And yet, they struggled.  They weren’t worse people than us…in fact, they were very much like we are now.

Lord, give me a sign.  Lord, this is too hard.  Lord, I know you promised, but I’d sure like it now.  Lord, that Promised Land looks scary.  Lord, are you sure?  Lord, this way looks so much better, easier, nicer, fun…  Lord, do you mind if I just do my own thing this one time?  Lord?

In my life…I really wish that things had already changed…that things had gotten better by now – better in my terms.

This place that I am…I wonder…Is it my Egypt?  My wilderness?  Or is it my walk into the Promised Land?

I don’t believe it is my Egypt…I’m no longer a slave.  Jesus made sure of that.

Is it my wilderness?  I guess I have to evaluate my life…my walk with the Lord.  Have I missed milk and honey for caffeine and sugar?  (Pretty much living on caffeine and sugar 🙂 )

I don’t think I’m in a wilderness.  I think I’m where God wants me.  Oh gosh, I hope so.

Am I walking to the Promised Land?  I believe I am on that journey…maybe it’s not the journey to a promised land here on earth, maybe it’s THE Promised Land.

But maybe trying to match my walk with the Israelites isn’t exactly the walk I should be trying to match.  There are other stories…other people with unique walks.

Maybe my story is gonna be more like Joseph – lots of hard stuff before the great reveal.

Maybe my story is gonna be more like Ruth – sorrow, hard work, barley and Boaz.

Maybe my story is gonna be more like Esther – a season of service, preparation, fasting, then feasting.

Maybe my story is gonna be more like Peter – some dipping below the surface of the stormy sea, some denial, and some serious forgiveness.

Maybe I’m a little bit like all of them…a combination of chaos!  🙂  Well, not chaos…just a little bit of crazy.

I wonder if I should stop trying to figure out whose life my life is like and just live the life God has given me to live.

My life.

Exhausting, but blessed.

I used to keep a list of thing I considered blessings.  Things like the colors of fall, playing the piano, the sound of tires driving on gravel, waves crashing on the beach, a breeze blowing the curtains, hot cocoa in coffee, a hug from one of my children, a text from a friend…there were (and are) so many things in any given day that were a blessing.  I’ve lost sight of that.  I’ve forgotten to count my blessings.

Again.

How often am I going to forget to count blessings?  (Don’t answer that.  I’m ashamed what your guess would be…especially based on my blogging.)

So this study in Hebrews has reminded me of some things to be thankful for.  I’ll share a few that have comforted and convicted me.

“…his works were finished from the foundation of the world.” 4:3  (Nothing left to do!)

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  4:14-16

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  7:25

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” 9:24

“…so Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” 9:28

“…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” 10:22-23

“Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised…But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” 10:35-36,39

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  12:1-2

I know that’s a lot of verses, but I couldn’t figure out which one I’d want to leave out!  I love them all.  Studying scripture is so encouraging…so edifying.  God does still speak so strongly through His word.  I’m so thankful for His word!  There!! That’s the first thing I’ll add to my new thankful list I’m gonna restart tonight.

What a perfect time to get back to thanking God for things!

I don’t know that it’ll fix my life, but an attitude, outlook, and perspective fix will definitely be a good thing…actually, it’ll be a great thing!

When You Just Need to See Him…

snowy trees and sky

While standing in the line at the grocery store yesterday, my phone rang.  It was a friend from church.  She said, “Hey, I’m bringing dinner to you tonight – you gonna be there in 30 minutes?”

I’m sure the lady at the register thought I was a little nuts (yeah that happens a lot) because my eyes welled up with tears. 

It’s been one of those couple of weeks where I’ve been blessed to see God provide again and again and again.  I’m not talking about huge things…it’s a bunch of little things that just speak such tender love to me from my Father.

Its meals that are provided at just the right time.  Its 2 hour delays when I could really use a little more sleep.  Its people doing unexpectedly kind things for me when I least expect it,

A few weeks ago when I broke my foot I was placed in a pretty purple cast.  We’ll apparently my leg is claustrophobic because in the middle of the night it was just desperate to be out of that blasted cast.  During the day all was fine, but come 3am…not so good.  I’d end up getting up because otherwise I’d just be lying in bed thinking about it and feeling like I was gonna go bonkers. 

And sleep, being such a precious commodity, lost for a silly claustrophobic leg is completely unacceptable.  So after a sleepless week, I made an appointment to go back to the doctor and beg him to take it off. 

I’d researched online and found out that a boot is an acceptable alternative.  The doctor was very kind, but he said my break is a difficult one to heal and the cast was preferable.  When I shared that I had been up since 3 am and a little bit about my life, he immediately said, “Let’s get that cast off and see how well your foot is healing and if all is good you can use the boot.”

Alleluia!  I prayed fervently that my bone looked okay so I wouldn’t leave with another colorful cast.  Praise God no new cast was necessary. 

As I was preparing to leave, the doctor said, “I don’t want you to have a copay – please tell the ladies up front to refund you.”  I practically burst into tears.  I’d been lamenting the cost of my claustrophobia and here God loved me again through a very kind and thoughtful doctor.  It was especially nice because it was absolutely an unnecessary appointment in the grand scheme of things. 

I wish I could remember all the little things that have happened to encourage me in a day – but they are hidden in my heart. 

 The gracious love of my Savior extends even to the smallest detail of my day.

How He loves me. 

There is such comfort in those little blessings – sometimes more than the big stuff. 

It’s a precious reminder that God walks with me every minute of every day – He doesn’t just show up for the big stuff.  I’ve seen Him during the storms, felt Him during the pain, heard Him during the questions, and known Him during the trauma. He is showing me that He is there every moment, whether big or small. 

I want to encourage you to find Him in your day…look for Him in those small moments…seek Him in the seconds…listen for Him as you live each day. 

Write down those moments, those reminders of His love for you, so you can look back and be blessed.

You can remember that He’s there. 

He’s here.

Oh how He loves you.

Do You Know How to Count?

photo (5)   I discovered today that a broken foot has one odd benefit.  I can wear socks out of the box under my bed.  It’s a box full of socks with no match, but they are ones I really like so I keep holding out hope the match will miraculously appear.  So far no luck.  (and truly I believe this is misplaced hope – it’s been years)

Today I pulled out my favorite sock and smiled at this whole box of fun socks I haven’t worn in forever. But now I get to!

Simple pleasures.

Other than the socks I’m hard-pressed to think of a benefit to this silly broken foot.

The first night I was trying to fall asleep with my cast on and pity partying with the best of them.  I pouted for a bit, but I realized I needed to pull myself together.  So I started to count my blessings…

I broke my left not my right foot so I can drive – although my oldest daughter just got her learners permit so I don’t really get to drive anymore…ever.

I didn’t break my hand so I can still work and do school.

I don’t have to have surgery.

I have great kids who help when I need it…granted I do need to holler most of the time, but I’m good at that!

And a Mama who shows up when I need her…THAT is sacrificial love to come to this nutty place!

And now, I’ve had the blessing of sweet friends who have been making me dinners for a week!  And friends who have helped with my house.  And friends who have picked up and delivered my children different places.  And friends who call and check on me. I truly am blessed.

Seriously blessed.

When I was young, my Mom and I sang a duet at church – Count Your Blessings.

“Count your blessings name them one by one and you’ll be surprised to see what God has done…”

Recently someone sent me those lyrics too!  I love that song.

I think it’s a beautiful thing – because we absolutely see God’s love, provisions, and protection when we start paying attention.

Today in my Bible study I saw a slightly different use of the word count.  I was reading Philippians 3 and I was so struck by these verses:

But whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness form God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Philippians 3:7-12

In some ways it is more a count the cost thing… not a count the blessings.  But the cool thing is that in counting the cost Paul recognizes that the cost is nothing compared to Christ – the ultimate Blessing.  Oh I love that!

I wish I lived like that!  I wish I was more like Paul… more like Paul in things like this, not the thorn in the side (got that), not in the doing what I don’t want to do (yup got that) and not doing what I want to do (got that too).  I want the “to live is Christ, to die is gain” thing.  I want to live like a truly know, believe, get, want, have the understanding that everything fades in comparison to Christ.

I’m getting there.  Gosh, I think sometimes I’m 10 steps back 8 steps forward 14 steps back 9 steps forward.  I think the good thing is that I’m still moving forward – I believe that is wholly a God thing.  God pursues me and loves me back again and again and again…and each time I’m even more grateful, even more in awe of Him.

There are things that I can count as blessings and there are things I can count as costs of following Christ.  Some blessings are surprisingly good and some costs are significantly painful, but I know that Christ is worth it all.  He always has been and always will be.

ImageTonight we dragged our tree out…well, I should say my oldest son and his friend dragged it out…leaving a trail of needles and water behind. Contributing to the messiness of my floor.

Today my floor has been an issue.

A neighbor stopped by unexpectedly.  As we stood in my kitchen all I could think about was all the stuff out, the general disarray of our home at that moment, and all the crumbs and such all over the floor,

I desperately wanted to ask her to leave and come back in 20 minutes.

I didn’t.

But oh did I want to.

I was trying to pick up things unobtrusively…sneak things off the counter, put things in the sink, push things into drawers, pick up a larger crumb on the floor.  I’m sure she could see my furtive attempts to clear the clutter.

I don’t know this neighbor well so she rarely sees the inside of my house.  But I believe I can safely say that EVERY time she stops by some sort of tornado has struck…well, 6 tornados – me included.

Today was one of those days.  It was back to school for my kids – both homeschooled and public schooled – and educational paraphernalia was strewn all over the counter, table, and foyer.

I began a new program to become certified to teach and earn my Masters in education so I have to admit that I contributed to the school stuff everywhere.

Calendars, bills, and other documents were stacked on a stool near the kitchen table because there was no room on the table.

My son had started a drawing project in the family room and paper had slid off the sofa onto the floor.

My youngest daughter had laid out Candy Land for us to play after dinner.  (She beat me! 3 times!!!)

Oven buzzers were sounding and pots were bubbling on the stovetop.

Sitting between the pantry and laundry room doors were 2 baskets of clean laundry waiting to be taken upstairs.

The only good thing about my house was there were no dishes in the sink – and that, my friends, is a miracle!

This unexpected visit was not one of my finer examples of hospitality…at least in the sense of my home being ready.

I love having people over and enjoy welcoming them into our pandemonium.  But sometimes… sometimes I want a little fair warning!

It’s okay though.  Just my pride being a bit wounded.

Why I think my sticky counters, cluttered tables, or messy floors would shock anyone, especially my neighbors, is beyond me.  Honestly, we are kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies of the neighborhood.  I feel like we should have their theme song blaring when we drive down the street.   (Hey!  I bet my teenagers would love that!)

When I pull into the driveway I have children climbing out of windows and/or falling over each other to get out of the same door.  And the number of odds and ends that tumble out of my car at any given stopping point is staggering.  My car is a giant purse…full of children, paper, shoes and goodness knows what else!

Where am I going with this blog?

Actually when I started this blog I was going to write about sweeping the floor – specifically the tree needles and some grapes that were dropped.

I was thinking how the needles, although everywhere, were quite easy to sweep up…kind of like all the mundane issues of life.  Those things that aren’t surprising or particularly difficult, but they seem to be everywhere.  They take up time and energy, but they are doable.

Then there are the things like grapes.  Grapes…ugh.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to try to sweep up those silly grapes.  They went everywhere but where I wanted them to go.

Those little buggers can roll fast and far!

I could have leaned over and picked them up individually, but I didn’t have the energy to do it.  (long, long day)  I just wanted them to go nicely into the dustpan.

But nope.  They went every which way.  Unfortunately I couldn’t leave them lying about because grapes are magnets for feet.  And squashed grapes are even more work…sticky work.  My house is sticky enough thank you very much!

I don’t know why I thought about the needles and the grapes…or why it struck me that it was so much like my life.  Maybe I’m over thinking things…totally possible.  I’m pretty tired.

But what I realized is that God equips me to handle both things.

Those needles are like the plethora of monotonous things that occur in any given day…like dirty dishes, cluttered counters, messy floors, loads and loads of laundry, and neighbors that stop by unexpectedly on a particularly messy day.  But they are all things that God gives me the grace to handle if I will rest in Him each day.

Part of that resting is finding my identity in Him rather than the state of me, my home, my children, my finances, my education, my work, my relationships, my marriage/divorce, my health…all of that is not defining.

I am defined by Christ!

And then there are the grapes…the things that roll around your life and cause trouble.

They roll in with things like dealing with our ex-spouses or struggles with our children’s behaviors, financial worries or household issues, health crises or work concerns…you can probably add your own grapes to that list.

And there are bigger grapes that spin everywhere, are impossible to catch, and often just end up squashed on the floor.  These things are bigger things…heart issues, agonies that bring us to our knees, struggles and sorrows that linger, hurts that seem to take forever to heal…I’m sure you know what I mean.

Those are some whopping big grapes.  But thankfully our God is bigger than any grape…large or small.

Needles or grapes all need to end up in the same place…and so do all our troubles and struggles and annoyances.

It’s a little hard at this point to continue my analogy perfectly because I’m going to have to equate a dustpan to the Lord, so maybe I’ll mix it up a bit and say this:

All our stuff needs to end up in the dustpan of faith and handed over to our Heavenly Father.

There is no amount of life messiness that God can’t handle.  And He’s willing to handle it all.

I’m more than happy to hand the broom and dustpan to Him…I’m tired of cleaning anyway.

If I trust Him to take care of all those things, I can be peaceful no matter the state of my home.  And that means that when people stop by I can rest assured that even if my house seems a bit muddled, I will not.  I will be calm and able to focus not on my house, but my guest.

If I trust Him, when the pains and sorrows of this life seem too much to bear I can find solace in His Word, peace in His presence, and comfort with His people.

So sweep those needles and grapes toward Jesus and let Him deal with them all!  His dustpan is big enough.

I don’t know if that string of thoughts exactly works, but I hope that it blesses you in some way – even if it’s just a smile at my attempt to spiritualize a messy floor.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

No 3-2-1…Our Missing 3 Seconds

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For the past several years my kids and I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with snacks, sparkling cider, and movies.  We always have a great time hanging out together and New Year’s Eve is no different!

This past year (all of 3 days ago!) we rang in the New Year in the same way.  Although I was also busy baking cookies for a get together on New Year’s Day and we were dog sitting two large, rambunctious chocolate labs…so it was a little bit rowdier than usual.  🙂

My oldest son picked the movie, I popped the popcorn, and we all snuggled down for a good laugh.  It ended with 15 minutes til midnight.  We poured our sparkling cider…actually this year we did Italian soda…and prepared to countdown to 2014!

10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4…

And then our TV gave the message that the DVR was set to record two programs at once and which did we want to cancel.  We all gasped and two of my kids raced to fix it.

Unfortunately their fixes cancelled each other out and the TV switched to a totally different show.

By the time we were back to the right channel all we saw lots of strangers smooching!

Instantly there were sighs and groans and blaming…it was Zach’s fault for messing with the remote, it was Peter’s fault for jumping up and pressing buttons on the box, it was Emma’s fault for scheduling her show…thankfully I remained unscathed by the guilt-throwing!

This whole missing the last 3 numbers in the countdown was pretty funny.  I have to admit.  We laughed a lot about it.  The idea that we missed those 3 seconds…of all seconds to miss.  I mean we didn’t actually miss them because we lived through them, but we did miss the acknowledgement of them and it was certainly anti-climactic to not say, “Happy New Year!!!” at just the right time!

I’m trying to figure out what the lesson for the New Year is in this wacky start?  Maybe be ready for the unexpected?  Or don’t take things too seriously?  Or don’t schedule so much at one time?  Or be kind to one another?  Or blaming is banned?  Or don’t sweat the small stuff…like 3 seconds?  Or enjoy every second?

I guess I’d say, ENJOY EVERY SECOND…the ones you acknowledge and the ones you just live!

Be there…be where you are.

Be with your children…not worrying about them or how they are going to get through the day (or the next 3 seconds)…but trusting that God can handle these next 3 seconds and the next 3 million as well.

Be with yourself…that sounds a little wonky, but I mean that we take time to rest, to care for ourselves, to spend time with friends and family, and to do those things that bless us (like reading, running, sewing, writing, or playing an instrument…whatever you enjoy!)  That we take 3 minutes to be by ourselves.

Be with God…talking to Him, reading His word, and praising Him.  It’s easy at this place in our lives to spend more time wrestling with Him about everything, rather than trusting that He’s going to handle it all in His perfect way and perfect timing and with the perfect love He has for us.

So right now…I’m going to stop being with my computer and instead I’m going to go be with my kids!  It’s freezing cold outside and there is ice everywhere but they want to play in the snow and I best put on my mittens and join them! Brrrr…..

God bless you this New Year and may every second be filled with an awareness of how loved you are!

Me, The Hermit, and a Molasses Cookie

Cookies Fresh Out of the Oven

I’ve become a hermit.

Hermit\ adj., living in the desert. 1 a: one that retires from society and lives in solitude esp. for religious reasons: RECLUSE 2 : a spiced molasses cookie

When I started this blog I was meaning more the recluse definition but I think I’m going to go with “a spiced molasses cookie”…I LOVE molasses cookies J!

Since the dictionary was open I decided to look up molasses too.

Molasses\ 1: the thick dark to light brown syrup that is separated from raw sugar in sugar manufacture 2: a syrup made from boiling down sweet vegetable or fruit juice

Something made from boiling. Hmmmm…I definitely feel like I’m in hot water a lot.  Maybe God is making me into something sweet and syrupy…

ehhh, probably not. 

Although I did have a friend say after 10 years of friendship, “You know when I first met you I thought you were too sweet. Now I know better.”

It was a compliment…of sorts.  Actually I know she meant it that way.  I’m drawn to strong, opinionated women who speak their mind…although I wouldn’t say that I’m one.  I mean in the traditional definition. 

I’m strong but in a mushy sorta way. I’m opinionated but not given to sharing my opinion…silently opinionated. 🙂 

Good grief…what was I talking about in the first place?

Oh yeah…being a hermit…or a cookie…or both.

In all seriousness I’ve been a bit of a recluse lately.  Or wanted to be. 

If I could be I’d be one.  I find myself not writing a lot, not texting a lot, not calling a lot, not answer phones a lot, not wanting to visit a lot…see, recluse.

Although I’m not lonely.  And that is a blessing.

When my husband left I didn’t feel this way.  In fact I was probably the exact opposite.  I mean, I didn’t feel like I wanted to hide away or miss phone calls or texts.  In fact, I had to work on NOT answering every phone call or text…I wanted to talk to people.  And I was terribly lonely.

What changed?

Honestly, I’m not sure.  But I think part of it is the complexity of life…and death.

My father passed away last month.  It wasn’t a surprise but it still rocked my world.  It hasn’t impacted how I live a normal day but it has impacted how I feel about some things.

I believe my father’s death was kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The past few years have been fanny kickers.  Seriously.  Fanny kickers. 

You know that hot water thing I mentioned…I think I got pushed into it.  And I’m having a heck of a time getting out of it.  I’m getting there…slowly but surely.

But it seems like the water temperature keeps increasing and sometimes the sides of the pool are a bit slippery.  But I have to admit that I‘ve not felt lonely…I’ve not felt abandoned or forsaken.  I know that God is with me even though my life feels overwhelming and difficult.

Maybe being a bit hermit-ish isn’t so bad.  It’s given me some time to think.  It’s given me some time to focus.  I can’t say I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of things done apart from parenting and homeschooling and a tiny bit of writing, but I’ve been blessed to do some wonderful Bible studies, read a great book*, and hang out with some dear people in my life, especially my children. 

I guess what I want to write is that it’s okay to rest in our relationships a bit.   It’s okay to be still.  In fact as I was writing this a kind friend sent me an email reminding me of Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that I am God.

I love how God does stuff like that.

Being still.  Being quiet.  Those are good things.  In moderation of course.  It’s not like my life is ever truly still or quiet…unless I’m asleep and that’s rare in and of itself.  BUT I believe resting in God is good.  And allowing ourselves time to deal with all that life has thrown our way can be a very good thing too.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28

 

So to all my sweet friends who have suffered my lame-friendness…please forgive me.  I’m praying that God will renew my energy and heal all my broken places.

I’m praying for all of us to know that God is our peace, our strength, and our hope in our busy lives whether they are loud or quiet. 

Thus says the LORD:  “Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16    

*The great book is Jesus+Nothing=Everything by Tullian Tchividjian    

Is Life Ever Gonna Be Normal?

cool cloud“Everything is going on around me as if nothing is happening…as if my world is not crashing…exploding…imploding…”

I remember thinking those words when my marriage began its shattering.

Nobody knew. And life continued.

I recall standing up before a class of 5th and 6th graders teaching them grammar and thinking, “How do I do this? How do I pretend that this is just a normal day? That I don’t just want to crawl into a corner and weep?”

It’s such a surreal thing…trying to be normal when everything isn’t.

I’m feeling that way again as I watch my father’s health decline dramatically.

The other day I sat next to him propping him up with my shoulder, holding his hand, and leaning in to hear his soft, mumbled words. I was struck again by life’s challenges.

I’d spent the day with my children playing at the park – running, laughing, and sweating. Now I was sitting still, crying a bit, and well…sweating  …my Dad’s room is pretty stuffy.

It’s weird to walk through all these emotions. I remember that walk when my husband left. I remember trying to make life normal and fun with my children. I’d laugh with them during the day and cry when I was alone at night. It was a truly terrible walk for a season, but I haven’t walked there in a while…until now.

Anyone who has suffered a loss or tragedy or challenge of any kind can understand…life goes on.
We still need to set alarms, pack lunches, get kids to school, do school with children, go to work, make dinner, drive to soccer games, smile at people, listen to other’s share their stories, and just plain live life.

I’m finding it difficult to figure out how to be normal anymore…I mean not that I’ve ever been completely normal (LOL!)…but how do I find normal when things keep getting wonky on me?

My prayer partner and I pray each year that this will be the year without trauma or drama….so far we are 0-6. Not a great record. BUT I will say that God continues to work in me and around me despite the decidedly difficult times.
He continues to show me He is faithful before, during, and after the troubling times.

Somehow or another, even when I can’t necessarily see it or really understand it, He makes it all bearable. At the end of the day, I realize I’ve survived. And so have all my children.

And it isn’t just survival…I’ve learned so much about myself and about Him through each heartbreak and sorrow.
God loves me and my children (and you and yours) so very much.

Lately God has been showing me how very very much He loves me and my children…and you and yours. There is no limit to His love…the amount doesn’t diminish on a bad day or even increase on a good day. He loves us perfectly and completely because He is love.

I read a quote years ago by A.W. Tozer from his book Knowledge of the Holy

“Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself.”

I’m so blessed by that…so thankful that God loves me regardless of me or my circumstances or my fears or my challenges or my difficulties or my emotions or my failures…God loves me because He made me to love.

There is hope for me in that…there is hope that even when everything seems completely out of sorts and daily life must continue on, I can trust that God has it because He loves me. I can trust that I am secure in His unfailing love.

Even when life shatters, God’s love keeps me together.

Do You Feel Loved?

Yellow loveToday I feel loved.

Lately it’s been difficult to grasp that I’m lovable…that anyone could really and truly love me.

And yes I know that God loves me…perfectly, relentlessly, beautifully, unconditionally, and passionately…all the ways I want to be loved. But I guess after my husband left, I’ve wanted someone to love me – to be willing to fight for me. To love me enough to do this life with me no matter what God calls us to.

But today, God loved me so tangibly I really and truly got it. I felt it to my core that God loves me.

I have to stop here and say God has loved me in this way before, often. Especially after my husband left…golly, did He love me! It’s just that I got my eyes off of Him and started getting all insecure in my life rather than recognizing that God knows me and loves me completely!

This morning I had my ladies’ Bible study and I was practically skipping afterwards. God just loved on me through those ladies and His word. How blessed I was to be reminded that He does indeed work all things together for good to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) He turns all that sorrow into joy…He gives us beauty for ashes.
My Bible study this week was actually on Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress, instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the plantings of the LORD, that he may be glorified.


God has sent Jesus to bring us good news, bind up our broken hearts, free us from the things that hold us captive like fear, insecurities, anxiety, sorrow, and sin, to comfort us and give us beauty instead of ashes.

That passage has so much in it. I just want to pull it apart and ponder it all. But today God just poured beauty all over me.

The ashes of sorrow and shame and sadness were replaced with a crown of beauty. A crown because I am a daughter of the King. A beautiful crown because I’m a dearly loved daughter of the King.

What a wonder!

It’s God and me…no matter what happens in my life…He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Forsake means “to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert.” Those things have been my experience with the most important person in my life. And yet, although I struggle with much because of his decision to leave, there is a greater love I have found.

For me, the key to living in security, strength, and without sorrow and fear has been to focus on His love for me…to study His word, to get to know Him better, to know His character, and to find Him to be all that I need…even all that I want.

I wrote this a few years ago…God reminded me of it today:

“So here I am: single, divorced, and exhausted. I have to be brutally honest, this is so not where I thought I would be at this point in my life. Being single in my forties is not ideal. But even though my fairy-tale glass slipper was shattered before I got to the ball, my carriage turned into a pumpkin at 10:00 pm, and my prince was certainly no prince, I’m doing all right.
I have a better Prince who has truly rescued me. He might not hold me tight at night and whisper sweet words in my ear, but His presence is comforting and His words are encouraging and true. My fairy tale might not have followed the story line I had hoped for, but I know that the ending is going to be sweet! I’m excited to see what God is going to continue to do in my life and the lives of my children.” (When Happily Ever After Shatters, p125)

It’s Him and me.

I love Him and He loves me! I’m so thankful!