Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Way

My website, the one I've been writing from, will likely be offline in the next few days.

I've read articles, books, etc about how to get a blog off the ground. I maintained a Twitter for a while, made sure I had visual aids for my blog posts, posted on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

I tried to make my site appealing. Because I'm a writer.

For a while I had a paid subscription to Lysa Terkheurst's website created for women who want to write or speak. I've tried to implement her suggestions to make my writing more appealing.

I've submitted my writing a couple of times to (in)Courage...only to get the same form rejection letter both times.

I've reinvented myself a million times, looking for whatever it is that successful writers have that draw people to them.

But most of all I have tried to follow God's leading, to listen for and follow His will. To use whatever gifts I have to draw people to Him. And that has mostly led to a lot of transparency on my part. A lot of confessions and just laying my brokenness in all it's broken glory out there for all the world to read.

I don't regret that. I don't regret any of it. But my blog isn't off the ground. What I think a successful writer is...I am not. I don't get a lot of shares on Facebook, I don't get a lot of page views and nobody is knocking at my door to publish a book.

The thing is, I am not going to stop writing. Because, for whatever reason, I believe that it's what God has given me. Even if my blog never gets off the ground and (in)Courage rejects everything I ever submit to them. I am not going to stop.

I am a writer. This is my thing. This is what God has given me. Even if nobody reads it or shares it on Facebook or ever wants to publish it. I am not going to stop. Because if God entrusted it to me, I am going to use it for His glory and nothing else. Page views, shares and publishers become irrelevant. If He uses it for something else, hurrah! If He only uses it to fill my time to keep me out of trouble...well okay then.

To God be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.






Go Your Own Way

I felt like a dirty mop. 

I drug myself from my bed, readied myself for work, worked for 8 hours...with a one hour break in the middle where I would do chores or run errands that I wouldn't have time to do after work...I picked up the kids and came home and made dinner super quickly, and then we all headed out the door. 

Sometimes there was no time for dinner prep or dinner at all

I felt like a dirty mop being used for jobs I wasn't prepared for. I was tired and frazzled and I never saw my kids in a meaningful way.

So a few weeks ago, my husband and I made a decision to bow out of all of our evening entanglements. Some we could stop immediately, others would require notice.

I really think it was the best thing we've ever done.

I have time to make good, tasty meals in the evening. We use real dishes. And we all sit at the table and we pass things. And we laugh. And water comes out of our noses.

And tonight, I threw potatoes

Sometimes it's hard to know what the right thing to do is. The things we were doing in the evenings were good things. Right things. 

It's just...both Michael and I felt an overwhelming push to simplify. To make dinner. To sit at the table together and pass things. To laugh until water comes out of our noses. To throw potatoes.

And I just can't imagine ever regretting this. Others may not agree. But for now, it's right for us. 

I see God doing something here. Here in the dinner making. The table sitting. The potato throwing. In the release of my own will and desire to please people in order to allow Him to direct our paths.  

The thing is, something just clicked for Michael and I a while back. We've always just kind of accepted the life we had because we thought it was ALL we COULD have. But, for whatever reason, we finally realized that we can have the life we've always wanted. And this simplification is kind of step 1 in our overall plan. 

We've submitted our plan to God and are following His lead, and I am excited about where He is going to take us! 

Let's Be Real For A Moment

Hello. I'm a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and I am in recovery from Codependency, lying, self hatred, self harm, blame, bulimia, depression and negative attention seeking. 

It has really amazed me how God has put the right people in my life, at the right times and in the right places. 

For the last two years, God has used Celebrate Recovery to refine me and prune my heart. He's done a lot. 

I'm not saying that to brag on myself. I say that to give God glory. 

But the thing is, I still struggle. A lot. With a lot of things.

My main, um...maybe I should say a big issue...because I guess only God knows if it's my main one... issue is that I seek the approval of people instead of God. I mean, it's not like a conscious choice to choose people over God. It's such a habit that I do it automatically. It's my default.

Not only do I seek the approval of people, but I compare myself to them. And you know what?! I NEVER measure up. 

And you know what that feels like?! It feels like being paralyzed. I want to move, I want to act, I want to be free and my brain tells me to, but my heart believes my fear instead of the good sense that God gave me. I don't text because I am afraid that the other person doesn't want to hear from me. I'm not friendly because there are far more interesting and likeable people for them to hang out with. And I'm not myself anyway because I am so stinkin scared. It's so stinking frustrating.

So life happens. And I am reminded of how fragile it is. And how trivial it can be. And my desire to be set free is renewed. Somehow it's easier to tell the voices in my head where to go. And real change seems possible or at least worth hoping and working for.

I want to live the life that God has for me. I want to be brave. I want to take risks. I want to learn from my mistakes. I want to live the life that God instilled in me the desire for.

So I'm starting the steps over. 

Father, I am powerless over my desire to please people and seek their approval. I am powerless to change my heart. I am powerless to quiet the lies that Satan tells me about my self worth. Father, I know who you are. You are good. You are MY God. You are my Provider. You are a rewarder of those who seek you. Father, my spirit wants to see You with my whole heart but my flesh is weak and sinful. Please empower me to live by the spirit and put to death the desires and habits and false beliefs of my flesh. Father, I know that you can change me. Not for my glory but for Yours. Change me Lord and I will sing your praises from the roof tops. Father, I turn my heart, my mind, my body and my soul over to your care and control. Father, please search me. Change me. Mold me. Father, I have sought the approval of people and I have done things out of a desire to please people. Father I have stifled the girl that you made me. I have kept quiet when I should have spoken up, I have spoken up when I should have stayed quiet. Father, I have lied to avoid negative reactions from others. I have lied about how I feel and what I like and who I am. Father, I have been unforgiving and judgmental. Instead of seeking to see others through your eyes, I have judged their hearts and been unloving. FAther I have been impatient with my kids and lazy about caring for my home and body. I have used food to fill the place in my heart that only You can fill. Father, I am sorry for this. I repent. Father, have mercy on me, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. I know I have sinned, my sin is always before me. I have sinned against you God and done what is evil in your sight. You are justified to condemn me, I deserve your judgment. Please place truth and wisdom in my heart. Father, thank you for discipline. Father, please create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Father, please don't cast me away from your presence, and please don't take your Holy Spirit from me. Please restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Father, please take away all of my defects of character and please search me and purge any sin in my heart or mind or soul or body. It's in Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Good Directions

Before Google or smartphones, he gave me directions. Not super precise ones, but accurate directions nonetheless.

I got on 360 as directed, with the intention of following the directions without fail. But, the exit he told me to take from I-20, appeared out of nowhere on 360.   

I felt confused and pressured to make a decision...maybe he meant for me to take this exit and he made a mistake in telling me to go to I-20? I mean, what are the chances that there are going to be two exits with the same name within a short distance?! Did I write the directions down incorrectly? Did I misunderstand? So, in my "about to pee my pants" crazed intoxication...I took the exit. 

About 20 minutes later, I realized that he COULDN'T HAVE POSSIBLY meant THIS EXIT, so I did the drive of shame back to 360. Went west on I-20. Got off on Green Oaks. Made it to my destination. 20 minutes late. 

Have you ever done that spiritually? 

(When I say spiritually. what I really mean is "have you ever done this in your life?" Because, as a follower of Jesus, my whole life is spiritual. Right? I'm sure that God doesn't care a lot about which brand of toothpaste I buy, but I still do it in His name and for His glory. Because as a follower of Christ, scripture tells us to do everything we do in Jesus name and for His glory. Does that meant that EVERYTHING that I do brings Him glory?! Sadly, no. But it should. And my life is calibrated with HIM at the center. I lose my way and do the wrong thing frequently...but staying on course and letting God infiltrate even the part of me that buys toothpaste is what this life is about, right?! I don't know, maybe I'm completely wrong. Feel free to correct me.)

ANYWAY. 

I've done this. I'm plugging along, following God's direction and trusting His faithfulness to make my paths straight, when out of nowhere a sign appears. And I relapse into trusting in MY OWN ability to discern the will of God instead of in His wisdom and faithfulness to direct my steps. I feel confused and pressured to make a decision. Do I stay on the course I'm on or take a turn? Is this the rode He means for me to take? Did I misunderstand? Am I misunderstanding NOW? 

I recently realized that I may have made a wrong turn.

Lately I've been feeling like a dirty mop. Like a dirty mop that doesn't ever take the time to be cleaned in between moppings because "there's no time". So, I am technically performing the task, but not well or sufficiently or really AT ALL. It might LOOK done, it may be better than it was. But it is NOT done in the way it should be. 

I've been doing things out of people pleasing and approval seeking instead of being called and gifted by God to do them. And I have not been taking time to recharge and allow God to restore my soul and fill me up so that I am ready and able to perform the tasks in front of me. 

So, I am taking a sabbatical of sorts, through the end of this year. I am taking time to discern the will of God and to just listen to HIM. To take His directions instead of trying to figure it out myself in my "pressured to make a decision and fear of the judgment of people" hysteria.

I understand that there are some tasks that just have to get done and they aren't necessarily a calling. But I've realized that the gifts I've been given aren't being used in the tasks I'm doing. I'm doing the things I'm doing to please other people. And I want to stop that. Because even if, at the end of my self imposed sabbatical, I realize that the things I'm already doing are the ones God has called me to, I want to approach them in THAT way instead of from a place of people pleasing and approval seeking. I want to bring the gifts that God has given me to the table instead of being a pawn who just does what she's told to do like a little robot, being afraid of rejection...because I'm operating from people pleasing/approval seeking instead of in Jesus name, and to glorify God. 

So there you go. Is it okay to end a blog with "The End"? 

Oh WHO CARES!!!!!!!!

THE END. 

Embracing Uniqueness

I haven’t baked anything in a long time. Well, I take that back. I have baked but I have baked in a time crunch just to get it done. I’ve done the sort of hurried/shoddy baking that I do when I am tired and I have a deadline.

I have baked brownies from a box. I have baked cakes from a box.

So, if you do both of those things regularly...no judgment. I just REALLY enjoy baking from scratch. And if you know me very well, you know that I prefer to not bake from boxes. (Partially because I don’t want my children to grow up and think they have to have a box to bake.)

I have done very little baking just because I want to in the last almost 2 years.

I feel like my whole love affair with baking and cooking has hit a rut.

Honestly, most things that I enjoy doing just for the sake of doing them have been pushed aside in lieu of other things.

That’s not bad necessarily, my focus has been on my Recovery and transformation.

But I think in all my recovering and transforming, I forgot that God gave me gifts and desires and I’m not using them or enjoying them.

I have a tendency toward codependency. What that means, partially, is that I pick a person that I admire and then I try to be just like them. I try to like the things they like and do the things they do. But the thing is...I can’t do that. So I just give up and feel inferior.

I feel like God has awakened me. He has brought me out of denial in this area. He has reminded me that I am who He created me to be. I don’t have to be like anyone else to be loved. He loves me just the way I am. And that’s enough.

Broken Together...Work in Progress

My first car was not a clunker. But the air conditioner stopped working. My dad took it (before it was technically mine) to the shop to get that and some other things fixed. The shop called us and told us it was fixed so we went to pick it up.

I got in the car and drove to a gas station across the street. I pumped the gas and then got in my car and it wouldn’t start. Nothing. Nada. It wouldn’t start.

Needless to say, it went back to the shop. The mechanic diagnosed the problem and after a few days, they called us again to let us know it was ready.

When we picked it up, it ran well but the air conditioner still didn’t work. It would blow air, but it blew hot, dusty West Texas wind.

So, back it went. Again, the mechanic diagnosed the problem and fixed the issue. And again, we went to pick it up. The air conditioner worked for about 10 minutes and then it stopped. Again.

But this time, I didn’t have time to take it back. So I lived with it.

A while later I took it to another mechanic...who diagnosed the problem and then “fixed it”. For about ten minutes.

Every time I took it in, it was in better shape and ran better than it did when I took it in. But the problem I took it in for wasn't necessarily fixed.

I eventually just stopped trying to get it fixed. The car ran well and air conditioning is luxury...so I just stopped putting money into it.

A while after, I had trouble getting it to start. A friend diagnosed the problem and showed me how to get it to start without really fixing the problem...with the intention that I would temporarily use this method and then get it fixed when I could.

But my car started so I didn’t get it fixed. For over a year, before I could start my car I had to lift the hood, bang on the thing my friend told me to bang on with a long screwdriver and then run to get in the car and start it. There were times when I didn’t hit it efficiently so I would have to start the whole process over again.

I feel like my experience with my car is kind of what I’ve experienced in my spiritual life.

I identify my problems and get help fixing them. Only to discover there’s a whole other level of stuff to fix. Or I have fixed the problem on a surface level but there is an oceans depth underneath that I didn’t even know was there.

And sometimes I’m so excited about the growth that I don’t even realize how bad something still is. Like, it’s better than it was and I don’t realize that it still isn’t good. I grow complacent, simply because I don’t realize that it or I could be even better. I set my expectations low because I focus too much on myself and what I think I’m capable of, instead of trusting God to do whatever work He sees fit to. I think, well, this is great, better than I ever thought it could be...because I don't expect to receive really good things. I believe that I deserve livable conditions but not an abundant life. So I don't expect it. I stop allowing God to work because I don't think I can have really good things.

This is also true in our marriage.

Michael and I have been getting some counseling. And last night he looked at us and said “how on earth have you made it this long?”

I don’t know the answer to that. The thing is, I feel like we didn’t and maybe still don’t know how bad things have been. I mean, we’ve always known that things were bad. But, I guess we didn’t know how bad they really were. Like, you know how sometimes people who have been abused don’t realize they were abused because they thought it was normal? Like that.

I guess God has allowed us to see things as we were able to. And I am thankful for that. And I am thankful to know that there is something better. That God can make this new. That somehow he can find that boy who held my mints and this girl that asked him to and make us into the people He always meant for us to be and we destroyed in our sin.

Plumb Sanctification

I took a deep breath as I resang the same line for the 20th time. Thoughts of ‘not good enough’ and ‘someone else would do a better job’ lurked in the shadows of my mind.

I’ve always loved to sing, and music in general. It was weaved into the fabric of my heart ‘from the beginning’.

Over the years, this piece of my heart gave way to my acceptance of Satan’s lies as my truth. Until more recently, I resigned myself to having imagined my love of singing and any giftedness I had once believed I had.

Until, like the layers of an onion, I am becoming aware of the lies I’ve been clinging to. I’ve made a commitment to believe God’s truth instead of Satan’s lies. I learned to refute the lies with scripture and my knowledge of God.

The truth?

1.) I love to sing.
2.) I’ve never had formal lessons or help. I just learned to sing at church and repeating what I’ve heard from other sources. So my                    knowledge and skill level are fairly elementary.
3.) Michael says I have a good ear, and he would know, so I believe it.
4.) If I use the small giftedness that I believe God has given me, it will grow. I am not stuck in my current skill level.
5.) If God asks me to do it, He will give me the power. He is good. He wouldn’t give me a job just to see me humiliated.

The thing is though, it’s one thing to say those things. It’s another to put my money where my mouth is and act.

So a few weeks ago when Michael asked if I would be willing to sing on the praise team at church, my initial reaction was ‘no. stinkin’. way.’ And then Moses came to mind. You see, I have begged and begged and begged God to show me where He can use me, and I realized that He has and I’ve made excuses, said “I can’t do that” and refused the assignment.

I made a decision. I would not mention or pursue the praise team question to anyone but if the worship minister himself came and asked me to sing, I would take it as an assignment from God and say yes.

He asked me the very next Sunday, and true to my word, I said yes.

I can’t tell you the number of times I was tempted to change my mind. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to talk myself back from the edge. Each time the doubts and fears crept in I reminded myself that I was sure that God had given me this assignment and that I was not going to turn Him away. I know that someone else could have done it better, but He asked ME this time. And I trust Him. I trust Him to work for my good and for the good of my church family. He wouldn’t do something that would harm me or them.

So...I did it. I probably missed most of the notes, but I did it. I worshipped. Not only with the words I sang but in the very act of doing it, I worshipped Him.

It was more about Him than me. Regardless of my ability or lack thereof to sing the correct notes, He grew me. He proved Himself faithful and He worked in me and through me.

I’m not sure how many times in my life I have been able to confidently point to a moment in time and say that I am sure I was doing the work of God, but this moment is one.

This is the next link in my testimony. A few months ago, I never imagined that I would sing on the praise team. The thought hadn't even occurred to me. And I would have immediately dismissed it if it had. I would have said ‘no. stinkin’. way’ with fervor and finality if the idea had been proposed to me.

He did something in me. I haven’t processed enough to be able to pinpoint each step in the process but God has done amazing things in my heart just within the last month! There is concrete, tangible evidence of it.

How awesome is that?!E