A Strengthening Struggle

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I’m in a season of blog starting. I start them and save them and kind of forget about them.  I think it is because I want so desperately to be encouraging and sometimes I’m just not.  Sometime I’m just an all out mess.

And my blogs can reflect that mess quite well.

And I have these voices in my head and outside of my head that keep telling me that I should be in a better place by now.  That maybe not sharing the struggle is best.

There are many, many good things in my life right now.  Many.  But there are also many, many challenges.

There just are.

Nothing unusual.  Nothing extraordinary.  Nothing crazy awful.

Really in the grand scheme of things my life is pretty good.

But daily I must grab my thoughts and say, “Thank you Lord for this day.  Thank you Lord for the tremendous blessings you graciously give just because You love me.  And I love You too!”

And that is what I want to focus on, but I’m struggling to find the words to share.

I shared about my concerns about health issues.  They are real.  And sometimes lately they have kept me up at night.  All the “what ifs” are terrifying to me.  But even without the “additional tests” thing, there are always “what ifs”…always.

I wish I could just let things go…place things in God’s hands and not worry.

I will say though that God has been so very, very kind to me this past week.  Two snow days, a half day of school and then two teacher workdays.  Blessed relief from some of the stress of work and the joy of getting things accomplished and planned and prepared for, both at work and at home.  That should provide a few more minutes of restful sleep.

That is a beautiful example of how God provides for me even in all my whirling dervish of anxiousness. He seems to understand my stuff…my constant battle with capturing anxious thoughts.  And when I say constant…I really mean it.

I have made a two part plan to peace.

  1. Pray for strength to take thoughts captive.
  2. Hide scripture in my heart so my life is a reflection of His grace, mercy, faithfulness, and forgiveness.

I feel like a broken record.  Pray! Pray! Pray!  And yet, I put my head on my pillow each night realizing I barely breathed a prayer to my Father.

I talked about Him, but not to Him.

I know prayer is the provider of peace I long for.  Why in the world do I not pray more?

When I was walking the beginning of this single parent path, that peace was so amazing…just really awe-inspiring.  There were days I didn’t understand how I could feel it so tangibly.  Please know that it wasn’t that I didn’t weep buckets at any given moment during any given day, but even during those very damp moments I knew His peace.

I have my sobby seconds now, but I’m trying not to fall into my pit of sorrow again.  I’m trying to move forward and see…really see the many, many blessings God continues to lavish on me.  And to thank Him daily.

Part two.  Hiding scripture in my heart…when I get God’s word in my head it seems to seep down into my heart.  And before I know it, my heart beats with the rhythm of His word.  My perspective changes and I can see beauty where before all I saw was burdens. My anxious thoughts are calmed and quieted as He reminds me that He is powerful, strong, and in control.  Things might feel like they are spinning hopelessly either in circles or out of control (or a little bit of both), but truly He has a plan in the midst of what feels like chaos.  His word whispers peace in my ear and stops the voices in my head.  Those words of fear and worry are drowned out by His words of hope and faith.

I have a lot to be thankful for…a lot to hope for (even if right now I’m just hoping for good news on Tuesday).

So maybe I’m not in such a bad place…maybe the struggle is strengthening me.

And maybe having some challenges doesn’t negate a good life…a good life always has some bit of difficulty.

The secret seems to be to find some wonderful in the worries, some awesome in the afflictions, some pleasant moments in the problems, some inspiration in the inconveniences, and just some plain ole blessings in the burdens.

Now I have to figure out how to open my eyes wide enough to see all the ways God is reaching in to my day with His love and peace.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Seems like a good day to start my plan!

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In the Middle of the Night

FullSizeRender (7)It is the middle of the night and I’m awake.  Wide awake.

Yesterday I stayed home from work because I’ve been fighting a wicked cold or flu thing and I slept most of the day.  I was actually thinking I might be well-rested for the next day.

No such luck.

Part of the problem is my house got quite warm and I just don’t sleep in warmth.

Secondly, I’m anxious.

…do not be anxious about anything…

Everytime I say the word anxious, those words pop into my head.

And yet, I’m having difficulty letting go of my fear.

It’s this storm coming.

It’s feeling unprepared.

It’s the fact that I delayed something I shouldn’t have.  Been on my to-do list for 3 months.  Since I bought this house.

And I haven’t done it…just kept moving it to the next day.

For three months.

So many things are like that for me…there is just so much to do.  What other really important things have I missed, forgotten, or put too far down the list?

I’m watching the rain drizzle right now, and fearing the deluge that is predicted.

I keep praying…placing my fear in God’s hands…and then picking it back up again…then repeating the process until I can’t sleep.

I have thought about walking around my home praying.  I began my walk and then decided that I want to write some verses down and place them around my house.  I’ve wanted to do that for a while as well.

Why did I buy a house close to water?

Water and me…well, we have a history.  Wet basement over and over again. Wet yard…rivers running through it over and over again. Wet. Wet. Wet.

Even my kids have joked that we will just have to accept that we are destined to own a water park at some point in our lives…I’m just hoping it isn’t my first floor.

…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God…

I am praying…now I need to start thanking.

I am so very thankful for this wonderful house.  So thankful for the dreamy yard.  So thankful for the beautiful wood floors.  So thankful for the bedrooms for children.  So thankful for a washer and dryer that work.  So thankful for air conditioning.  So thankful for my relaxing backporch.  So thankful for kind neighbors.  So thankful for my little kitchen.  So thankful for a place to live.

Oh but even as I pray and know know know that I can trust my God who gave this all to me…I’m fearful.

I know it is because sometimes things still go horribly awry.  Sometimes prayers aren’t answered the way I hoped…the way that seemed best.

What if…?

How often have I uttered that phrase, if not aloud at least in my head…and even my heart?

Too many times.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Deep breath.

Peace…peace I can’t even understand.

Seems illusive at the moment.

I feel desperate for it.  I can almost taste it, but…why am I struggling?

God says present my request with thanksgiving…let God know what I’m feeling, thinking, worrying about, thanking Him for…and the peace will come.

It doesn’t seem like I have to do anything but give it to Him…and not be anxious.

Is it in the process of praying that the peace comes?  Do I just pray until it pours over me like syrup?  Soft and smooth…stick-to-me peace?

Do I make myself not anxious?

I don’t think so, because if I could I wouldn’t need to pray and it would be my own peace not His.

So…how do I give up this little bit of panic that is clawing at my chest?

Back to my knees…Lord, how do I have peace?

I’m desperate for a few more minute of sleep, but I want to feel that peace that surpasses all understanding…for both my heart and my mind.

Right now it feels like my mind needs it most.

It’s whirling and I’m weary.

How do I grasp it God?

And again…I’m reminded.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;

 for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Ok…pray.

Father, for me right now, it is the fear of losing my home in a storm.  This precious home you have given to me and my children.  This lovely home that I long to grow old in with people I love nearby.  This dear place you provided my little family with…this house.  Lord, you know me…you know my fears and my anxious thoughts.  And you know that sometimes I worry about dumb stuff, but Lord this feels huge.  This house, in the 3 months we have been here, has had some little hiccups…and even those have felt discouraging to me.  Oh Father, I’m so afraid.  I’m so afraid of losing more.  This past week you have revealed to me that I have an idol of control in my life.  This is definitely not something I can control…at all.  I can’t even begin to control the weather or the water or even the insurance company, but Lord I can trust You.  I know I can.  So why am I so afraid?  I think I know why.  It is because I know sometimes you use difficult things to bring us closer to you…and I do want to be closer to you Lord.  I’m just so afraid of more difficult things.  More struggles.  More heartache.  Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.  I believe you are good.  I believe you love me.  I believe you have a plan.  I believe you will provide.  I believe I can trust you.  I believe you know me and know what is best.  There is not one thing that happens in my life that has not first gone through your hands.  Lord, I trust that your hands hold only good for me and my children.  Lord, I have to grab hold of your peace and say, “your will be done” and rest in that.  Lord, I know you are good and wise and loving and faithful and kind.   Lord, practically speaking, could you allow me to get flood insurance tomorrow?  Please.  If I do, I know it is all you.  If I don’t, I know that it is your plan that I trust you without it.  Either way, I trust that you are working.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S.  I have no insurance until the end of the month, BUT I have peace.  I’ll take that peace any day!  God is so good.  I didn’t believe I could feel peace about all this, but I do.  And that, my dear friends, is totally a Holy Spirit thing!  God is so gracious to me.  I laid it before Him, left it there, and He gave me peace in return!  I’m so thankful!  More than I can say.

Storm is coming, but it’s okay.

A dear friend sent me a passage this morning that TOTALLY blessed me:

Psalm 107:28-32

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.  Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!  Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. 

God is good all the time…with floods and no floods.  All the time God is good!

Words in my Head

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It’s 1:17 am and I absolutely should take off my reading glasses, close my laptop, slide under my flower-covered comforter and place my head securely on my soft pillows, but I just can’t right now.

Because I want to write now.  I want to write something profound and moving and well-written.

The other day I walked through a sweet little bookshop and read the beginning pages of countless books in an effort to find the next thing to keep me from completing my to-do list in a timely fashion.

The jacket covers shared briefly the story of generations of people, family struggles, loves lost and found, growing up, growing old, and countless other stories in between. Although some sounded interesting, it’s the beginning pages that make me want to read a book.  The flow of words.  The turn of a phrase.  The engaging characters with well-written conversations.

Sometimes for me it is more about the words than the story.  More about the way they are arranged and the way they are used that make a book wonderful.

Words.

I want to make some amazing connection between words and stories and life. I’m grasping.  Maybe it’s the late hour or the fact that the last few nights didn’t involve a tremendous amount of deep sleep.

Don’t even know why I was restless.  Too hot.  Too cold.  Too noisy.  Too quiet.  Too uncomfortable.  Too tired.  Too awake.  Too late.  Too early.

Too.

Just too.

This morning, I woke up to a rainy day and too much melancholy with my morning coffee.

I’ve never been a melancholy person, but occasionally I feel myself sliding down that slope.  I’ll be in the pit before I know it if I don’t figure out how to get a handle on my introspection.  All my pondering is getting me nowhere but down.

Lately, my head has been so full of what-ifs and whys and oh-how-I-wish-things-were-different words..those thoughts truly are like a big mound of tangled up string.  One intertwined with the next.  Things all connected in my head even if they have no connection in real life.

I have discovered that my head is not real life…at least not most of the time.

I wonder if my head needs to be examined.

I’m beginning to understand 2 Corinthians 10:5 “take every thought captive to obey Christ” – it’s hard.

I used to think it was just those overtly sinful thoughts that I needed to take captive.

These thoughts I struggle with aren’t always ones that if taken one by one would be considered the kind of thought that needed to lassoed and tossed aside.  But I’m realizing that my thought life is a bit destructive, especially when I’m strangled by thoughts of fear, anxiety, jealousy, and insecurity.

These thoughts are sneaky too.  They seem so justified and even reasonable.  My problem is they build and intertwine and make giant knots…all my pondering doesn’t seem to be making any headway in undoing the stringy things.

I think I’m making them bigger.  Making even more words bounce around in my head.

I find myself again at a place in life where I need the Lord to step in and do His thing.  And yet, I keep grabbing my ball of yarn thoughts and holding them close.  Apparently I don’t really want to share.

When I get like this I tend to pull away into my own little thought life.  It’s too hard to explain all the things running through my head at any given time.  One of my dearest friends can see it in my face and always asks me, “What are you thinking?”

Honestly…I really don’t like that question right now.

I want to answer, “How long you got?”

Because in order to answer what I have going on in my head, I’m going to have to gradually, calmly, carefully, and slowly pull every string of thought out and decide where it fits in with all the other millions of thoughts tumbling around in my silly little head.

I can’t even figure out where to start.  I believe that is why I have writer’s block.  Why it has been so difficult to share my thoughts on anything…they are too mixed up and complicated right now.

I’m trying to take one day at a time and do this day well.   Sometimes the best way to do that is to ignore the deep thoughts and just go with the to-do list.  The to-do list is straight forward and easy to understand…it might knock me down with the sheer number of things to do, but it won’t confuse me.

But I think I’m gonna have to spend some time thinking…praying…studying Scripture so that I can understand where God wants me to start.

I think I’ve got some healing to do…some healthy living to start.

I need to do this, if not for me, for my children.  I want to be bold, courageous, and relaxed…not confused, anxious, and fearful.

This melancholy woman…I guess she could be who I am now…maybe life circumstances can change us that way?  Somehow I don’t think so.

Maybe, this is a season of growing, learning, pondering (ugh), and taking thoughts captive so that I can find my way to a more mature woman of faith whose personality is more complex and interesting because of what she has experienced…I like that idea. A lot.

That’s the mom I want to be for my kids…that’s the woman I want to be.

Good gravy!  I’ve definitely gotten off track of my reading book start to this blog.

Untangling these thoughts…God will show me how…in His time.  I trust Him.

Well, I best get some sleep so tomorrow (I mean today :)) I can get busy on that to-do list!  Then I can actually find some time to sit down and read my new book!  I can’t wait…it has some beautiful words in it!