Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What About "Who Are You?"



I adore picking flowers.

I can't tell you how much I loathe being asked "So what do you do Gina?" Usually I'm like, "Well, do you have an hour?"

I am no typical 40 year old, mainly because I don't work in the mainstream, meaning I don't have a "job". 

Having to quit my job in 2007, when I was 33 years old, was very humiliating to say the least. It is not what I wanted, at all. I loved working. I have always worked, I'm still young, so saying I had worked since I was 14 doesn't say much, but hey, I have some cred. I enjoy people, structure, learning, bringing home the bacon and taking pride in whatever I did. The last job I had was as a Barista, which I adored. I adored my customers. The 4:30am mornings weren't easy, but who does love those? 
Leaving my job was not by choice, it was by necessity. It was March, and I had already had 3 surgeries that year. I knew more were on the way. And some major ones. One included a complete Hysterectomy. Little did I know that that year would also include one more surgery after my Hyst. and another one in Bend, OR, where I had special treatment for my disease. It was a total of 6 surgeries in one year. 35 the years prior, and one in 2010. Inhumane, right? Tell me about it.

Oh, I self-rejected, self-hatred, and self-pitied for about a year or more. Surprisingly, not more than that considering all I had been through, and all that couldn't be but all that was. Nothing I wanted. Nothing I dreamed of. Nothing I hoped for. I was 33 and nowhere I thought I would be in life. Little did I know that my heart was being prepped for "bigger and better" things for my future. Little did I know I was being refined in a way that would ready me for my greatest, highest use. I know this now. But when you are in the fire, it's hard to see through the flames. We have to choose to see through it all. Choose to not be defined by our suffering and utterly awful circumstances that we didn't ask for or want. Choose to have hope. Allow God to use all that was completely broken and totally painful and messy. Choose to see that not only are we not what happens to us, but that we more likely than not, are not what we do.  

I love nature and chase beauty!

It's a rare thing if you are what you do. I think about my husband for instance, he's in sales. My Mom was a secretary. My dad is a maintenance man. They may enjoy their jobs, and be good at what they do, but it doesn't mean it's who they are. Why, then, why do we always ask this when we meet someone? Why not ask, "So who are you? Or What do you like?"

When I see my Dad, I see so much more than a handy-man. I see his precious soul, and heart, and see that he'd give you the shirt off his back. I see that he is a devoted husband and father. I see that he has an amazing sense of humor. I see that he has a gentle spirit that is sensitive and he loves others well.

When I see my mom, I see so much more than a secretary. I see how supportive she is in all us kids do. I see her interact with her grandkids and take pride in them. I see her accepting, non-judgmental spirit that has helped me through the years. I see her thoughtfulness in her speech and her messages. I see her striving to be more whole. She's a tender one too, that woman. 

I am passionate about mentoring teen girls, I love spending time with them!


And my husband? Sales? He is not what he does. For anyone that knows him knows he is far from what he does for his job. Doesn't mean he isn't good at it, doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy it. But my husband is far from what he does for a living. He is charismatic, funny, gentle, compassionate, and he's the biggest encourager I know. He loves God, and others well. He lights up a room. And he loves hugs.
I am a writer, and I love coffee!

I know and understand that I am looked at oddly a lot of the times. I am literally a 40 year old empty-nester who lives with a disability, so I am not able to work a traditional job. So I chose to be used where I was at! Instead of dwelling and wallowing in all that I couldn't do, I created ways to be used and to "work" with what I could!  And now as most of you know, I am writing more, and working on my first manuscript, I have an Etsy shop, I'm a Lay Counselor and I mentor a variety of people. I want my life to be a life for others. Ironically, I am sort of what I do! But just because I am not in mainstream, society accepting professional job, does not mean I have less to offer, or that I am not of value. 

I just have never quite understood the extreme focus on what people do for a living or for a job, instead of WHO they are!

So maybe next time you meet someone for the first time, try asking them, "So what do you like to do?" OR, "So who are you?" Trust me, most of the time people like to talk about that much more!!! And it gives people a chance to see how valued they are, no matter what they do for a day job.

So, what do you like? Who are you?

Friday, September 12, 2014

That Time My Husband Lost My Cell Phone

My pastor talks about Calvary love. All it means is to love with a love that Jesus did. This kind of love points to the Cross. And what's at the Cross? Sacrifice. Others focused. Love not based on circumstance or how we feel. Well, this sort of love was on repeat throughout our whole trip, and we didn't expect it.

My husband and I have dealt with some major issues. We have dug deep, and then dug even deeper still. We have dealt with all the hard stuff you can possibly imagine. The one thing we haven't, is a terminal illness. We've gotten down and dirty with every problem, because we know that on the other side of it, there is restoration. Now I'm not saying that he was gung-ho about all of this. It was I who was stern about facing all these issues and dealing with them head on. With most couples, it's rare to find both people who are ready and willing to face problems/issues straight on. One is usually the pursuer of, and one usually, well, is not. I was the pursuer. I have been this way ever since I can remember. I am odd---I am not afraid of conflict. I, in fact, like it. Because it means we are getting down to the nitty gritty of a problem or issue, and if we stick it out we will resolve it. Which then means, realness, rawness, authenticity, and restoration! Which is what we were created to live in. The problems are just visible evidence that something is wrong inside. And I like to figure that out. Call me crazy.

This took years. And I am not exaggerating. Our marriage started to go south in 2005. For that first whole year my husband did deal with the issue at hand. It was wonderful and beautiful. But then he shut down in 2006, and didn't fully resurface until like 2011 or so. I had some to do with him going into hiding--I had poor habits and little tools to know how to handle his behaviors. I handled it mostly wrong until I pursued my own heart and got some counseling. After a 5 or 6 year stretch of no fruit or change, we finally started to come together and were able to work and deal with the issues collectively. 

I can honestly say that we are on the other side of a 7 year wilderness experience. There was a time when I didn't think I would actually be able to say that.

While on vacation in Colorado, when I asked my husband to hold onto my phone in the forest because it was starting to sprinkle, he said sure and I didn't ask for it back until hours later when we were on Pearl Street, in Boulder. We were getting out of the car to go to our restaurant destination. As were were getting out of the car, I asked him if I could have my phone back. Well, then you can imagine what went down.

He looked so befuzzled--is that even a word?! I thought, oh no, oh no. As a Lay Counselor all I could think of was "distress tolerance" and "emotion regulation", but it wasn't working, at least at first. I stormed down pearl street, going passed our restaurant several times LOL, all along the way making wise cracks at my husband. I was furious and in shock. I didn't want to accept that it could be true.
Geez, you would think I was talking about a death in the family or something.

We finally got to the pub we were going to, and he was sad and down, and probably afraid, and I was angry. I had so much I wanted to say but I knew I couldn't. So I went to the bathroom. It is there that I continued to literally have a fit like a toddler. They had Pangea Organics hand wash and all I could think of when I was using it as I stomped my feet and cried was "WHY CAN'T I JUST HAVE THIS MOMENT IN THIS COOL TOWN WITH THIS AWESOME ORGAINC HAND SOAP WITHOUT BEING INFURIATED ABOUT MY PHONE BEING GONE--IT'S NOT FAIR." Pretty funny, right?


At that moment I heard the still small voice--"If you are this angry and hurt and feel as awful as you do, think about the way your husband feels right now, it's even worse." Wow, as thankful as I am that I hear from God on a daily basis, it's when I hear things like this that I feel so resistant. "But but---"

I get back to the table and Kevin holds my hand and looks in my eyes and tells me how sorry he is and how awful he feels. I told him, thanks, and I appreciate it, but I still need some time to cool off. The rest of the meal we were mainly silent, which is better than words I'd regret later. Like I said, Calvary love. On repeat.

This was the theme of our trip. Most people would think that losing my cell phone had some sort of plan for me to learn how to not be distracted. Or to learn how to be more in the moment. Well I'm telling you, I am a most "in the moment" person I can think of. I am not saying I am never distracted by the use of my phone. Of course I am. But it's not a problem in my life or in my relationships. Would I like to use it less, yes. But is this a lesson learned in distractions and intentinallity, no.
For me it was a lesson learned in a couple different areas. 

1. We/I am extremely spoiled. For the most part we get what we want, when we want it and how we want it. We do what we want, when we want to and how we want to. We hardly are inconvenienced and we hardly have to wait for anything anymore. Even at the markets, they don't hardly have us wait in lines anymore, they are usually opening up another lane asap so we don't have to wait. Oh my.
I acted like a spoiled brat for about an hour when I discovered my phone was gone--and I cried twice. I think we all have some attachment issues when it comes to things. God is pushing me beyond this. I need to hold on to stuff looser and looser.

2. Although in my marriage, I have dealt with the "big guns" of deep, hard stuff, does not mean I am a pro at the "small stuff". I need to continue to manage my emotions in the day to day annoying things. Like my husband, on the trip, brought his swim trunks for the trip, but did not bring them to the beach the day we went. WHAT?! Help me understand that? It's in those moments of furry that I want to spaz out and say cruel things, but God is calling me higher. Higher out of that way of doing life. Learning to regulate my emotions well and stay mindful. Mindful and meaningful in the moments you want to lose it.

Calvary love is something we choose. But we need practice. Think about it next time something happens that really, truly doesn't matter so much in the grand scheme of life. No one wants to admit that they are spoiled, or bratty. But the way out of that is by admitting it and becoming mindful of it so you can choose a different way to act. And it's not about shame if you do act like a brat. I mean I know God was not condemning me because of the way I acted, His grace is always perfect and plentiful. But acting that way doesn't match His spirit. It doesn't match what God wants for my life. It's not what He wants for my interactions with not only my husband but with anyone. 

Choosing Calvary love is choosing to treat someone not based on how they have treated you or based on something they have done or not done. Calvary love is loving a person who has lost your phone and packed their swim trunks even though they did not go swimming with you. It doesn't mean you can't, in a healthy, direct way tell them that you are upset or affected by what they have done. Absolutely. It just means you don't retaliate. 

Calvary love. On repeat. Put the needle on the record.


Monday, August 25, 2014

It Had To Become Real

Dropping my daughter off for her second year of college!

Can I just be a broken record again for a minute? This adult child parenting thing is HARD. Can I seriously get an AMEN. 

There are facts. And there are beliefs. I happen to believe that what some might not consider to be a fact, a fact. I believe it's true. With me so far?

I don't have any qualms about letting people know I'm a Christian. Even though that term has gotten made such a mess out of, it's just the easiest way to say I believe that Jesus walked the earth over 2000 years ago and I believe that He is God's son, and the truest example of how we are to live. I also believe it to be true by faith that He saved my soul and I'm going to be with Him in eternity!!! I have made Him "Lord of my life" and I have chosen to live by His design and I long for the heart of God on a continual basis. I guess you could say I live a surrendered life to His will, His ways. I know I have blog readers that don't necessarily believe exactly what I do, or maybe you don't even believe in God, but that's OK, I love all my readers and this is just what I believe to be true!

I remember when I first became, what you would call a "born-again" christian. It's not as scary as it sounds. ALL it is is a verse in John 3, when someone asked Jesus a question about what a christian is and how to live according to that. Jesus tells the man he must be "born-again". Meaning, all of us humans are born out of sperm and egg (science and miracle both), living in our "flesh". Living the only way we know how to. Our "what comes naturally states." But Jesus talks about being born of the "spirit". Meaning, your old way of living and life are to be gone (some refer to this as sinful life), and your new way is with me, and my path; He's essentially saying CHOOSE ME, and walk THIS way. To rid our self from our selfish ways and self-centered lives. To not live for ourselves anymore, but for God and others. Simply put--being born again is life WITH God leading. Living in the spirit, not living my own way. It's like "old self" verses "new self".
I'm honestly just explaining it as basic as possible because I don't want to get into exacts and theology.

Once I fully understood that odd way of wording something, I actually started to really see things differently. My story of how I came to Jesus is long, and today I didn't want to focus on that. What I wanted to share was a little bit about this thing called Motherhood.

I remember reading the New Testament for the first time, and I fell in love for sure! As a writer, I noticed, it's written so beautifully. It fed my soul. It lifted my spirits. I also fell in love with the Poetry books like the Psalms and Proverbs. I mean so beautiful!!! I was encouraged and didn't have any issues overall with all that it had for me and all that was written. But there is a reason for that.

I was broken.

When I came to know Jesus and I started to read the Word, I was trash as far as I was concerned. I had no self-worth and thought I was a nobody. I had come from so much physical, emotional and mental pain that it was hard to get through the days. And that lasted for many a years, boy did it ever.

My daughter is starting her second year of college today! And this summer proved to be a bit confusing for me. She's making some decisions that not only do I disagree with, but that hurt me and rock me to my core.(I will add that it's really special that we have an open relationship and honesty. I appreciate that more than I can express, because I know a lot of kids that are dishonest with their parents at this age because they are fearful of what their parents will think and DO).
It's especially difficult because I raised her differently than some of the choices she's making. That's a tough one folks. Really tough. I can actually say today--which I NEVER thought I would---understand why my parents were sad and disappointed when I told them I was pregnant at such a young age. I have to this day always felt protective and defensive about that. But now as a Mother with a child the same age I was when it happened, it sure changes one's perspective. It's because we have this idea or image of what we want for our children! And we know the best decisions for them-especially while they are still in college, so it's hard when that doesn't happen. It's hard when they don't choose YOUR way or GOD'S way. It can really tear you up inside.

A lot of the way I choose to deal with it is through prayer and worship music. When I was listening over the weekend, one of the songs was said, "You took my shame, and paid it all upon a Cross"...something to that nature. My daughter grew up singing these songs. Do you think these words meant more than just a mere fact to her? Don't you think she was just going through the motions and doing what she was brought up in? It wasn't hers. She may have believed that that was factually TRUE, but to her personally, what did it mean? Aside from thankfulness, probably nothing. I'm not being harsh, just honest.

I felt God speak to me and tell me as I was singing the song: "How do you expect these songs to mean ANYthing to her if she doesn't HAVE or experience sin and shame???"

Wow.

So true. But not easy to hear about your child. 

I have to remember that these worship songs and the bible--when I encountered them, they had a different meaning to me because of ALL I had come from and experienced. I was hungry. I was starving actually. I had been used, abused and spat at. I had experiences that led me to the Cross in a completely devastated state. She hasn't. Do I want her to? No. Will her experiences be like mine? Probably not, they haven't been so far. Will she have her own glory story? Yes. Will she experience brokenness? Yes. Will she discover the things of God on her own in the right time? I believe yes. But it has to be HERS, not MINE. Not particularly fun friends. It's a tough blow. Something I never even thought of or realized as a parent. But I hear so many stories of how kids need to find their own way. So I guess it's true and inevitable, and I shouldn't want it any other way because then it's authentic. It's real. It's raw. 

If you are in a similar situation, I encourage you to try to see whatever it is through a new lens! Gain new perspective and pray your face off!

It's no easy thing to think of our kids broken and in need of God, but they are no different than us, and I am in constant need.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Give It All You've Got--On Marriage




I've been so tangled up in my emotions as a Mom, and taken aback by the process of motherhood, that I guess I got paralyzed. It hasn't been a whole summer writing break, but over a good month. For whatever reason, I find myself locked and blocked so to speak when it comes to writing sometimes. Especially when emotions and confusion runs so deep, it's hard to function. But I'm actually not writing a post about motherhood. I'm writing one on that other deep relationship we have: marriage.

My husband and I just booked our first trip together in 4 years. He has been in need of a vacation more than I have, but he handles it with such grace, geez, how does he do that? I've been going bonkers wanting a vacation and I am not in the daily bump-N-grind rhythms like he is. Big props to him for that.

We will be heading to Colorado in early September! He's also in the process of job hunting and most of the jobs that he is looking at are out of state--not in Minnesota. Who knows what that means for us, but for now, back to this trip.

If you've been around here for a good length of time, you have probably read my blog posts on marriage. I've written about 7 or so on the subject. My husband and I had about a 6-7 year period of torture. And I do not use that word lightly. We are on the other side of it now, which is strange to even say out loud.

This will be the first trip in geez, I don't know how long, maybe almost 10 years, where we will be looking one another in the eyes, and saying I LOVE YOU. Did you know there was a 5 year period or so when I didn't say I LOVE YOU at all to my husband? And it's only been recently that we have looked one another in the EYES. Yes, you're hearing me right.

When so much pain and hurt have taken hold, without reconciliation, this is the state you are left with. This is no marriage at all. DEALING with your junk, hurt and pain is the best, wait, only way to go. Without the investment in that route, then you're just waking up and going through the motions. It takes GUTS to dig deeper than you can imagine to SHOW UP and fight. Fight in a good way. Marriage requires going places within yourself that you didn't think existed. It's the only way to truly love someone. Because I am a christian I  have relied on the God and His power to help me dig deep within myself (and a lot of therapy), and then to extend love to a man that hasn't deserved it more times than I can count. But you know what? There is no time to keep track or record of wrongs, because guess what? I haven't deserved it EITHER.

Looking within to discover what you can do internally to better yourself and then offering that up to your partner is GOLD. Humility is GOLD. If we are prideful, we are still hurting. If we are stubborn, and keeping track of wrongs, then we still have hurt to deal with.

Hurt and pain (and unresolved issues) bring out bitterness, unforgiveness, stubbornness, contempt, rudeness, coldness. 
Things that are not of God.
Healing and digging deep introspectively (resolving issues) bring about forgiveness, softness, compassion, gentleness, empathy. These are all things from God.

We made these choices to be with this person for the rest of our lives. And yes, sometimes, ok, maybe a lot we wonder, why?! What were we thinking!!! But they are here now and we are together now, so it's my responsibility to look within and pull out of me what I never thought capable of, and show up. And let me tell you, my man has hurt me almost beyond repair. The only way it IS repaired is by the GRACE OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD.

Jesus was the least fake person on earth. He dealt with things, He was real. Geez, I don't think He EVER made small talk! He always got right down to the heart of matters and what was important. He was REAL. And we need to be to if we want our marriages to be good and healthy. It takes BOTH partners to do their part. 

NO, you can't do your partners work for them. I use to think I could do my husbands work for him--told him the books he should read, told him the friends he should have, suggested this and that to him. Told him he should act this way not THAT way. And on and on. All that did was drive a bigger wedge between him and I. So I let him be him--and that was NOT easy. But I trusted he could work himself out. And eventually he did and he has. And I let me be me. And by both of us going our "separate" ways for a while, it helped in coming together to show up for our marriage. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally people), to get to the place we are today. We have knocked down the walls that prevented us from saying, "I love you", we  have knocked down the walls that kept us from looking one another in the eye. And it was an uphill battle all the way. Do you understand what an uphill battle is like?

Whatever you might be going through in your marriage or where ever you are both currently at. Whether you're struggling with a mental illness in the marriage (we did), or you feel you are completely opposites, or you have nothing in common. The list goes on. There are a lot of people unhappy in their marriages. For numerous justified reasons, I get it. But may I submit to you this: show up as your best for your spouse. Stop worrying and carrying on about what they are doing or not doing. Give them room to breathe! Give them room to show up. Look into your own heart, I so dare you. It's the hardest thing a person will do. Look directly into your own heart instead of trying to judge someone else's. See what you find when you look bravely into your heart. What ugliness is there? Dig it up and uproot it out! Bring your spouse something better!!! Even if you think they don't "deserve" it. All marriages have their unique challenges and marriage will challenge you beyond your LIMITS, trust me.

Meet your spouse at their competency. We all grow up so differently and we forget that that should all be taken into consideration. Their history of upbringing, experiences, traumas, etc...Learn to love them where they are at. We forget that marriage is a sacrifice. We marry and then forget that we have to do so much work. But if you do the work, it will become less work.

Also, get yourself some tools and skills. A lot of couples don't know how to communicate. Figure out the errors of your communication and that will be a good place to start. Learn how to communicate with one another--this and financial issues are a huge culprit of marriages. We have to tweek ourselves ya see. I know, it totally sucks. But we must if we are living side by side with another human forever. We can still be who we are, but we just need to be refined, that's all. We need to become less so to speak, because we can't just say and do everything we want to or feel like all the time in marriage! We have to stay mindful to all the ways that our marriage isn't working, so we can find out how it can work!

I hope I have made a morsel of sense--all I really wanted to say was dig down deep, give it all you've got and even if the other person doesn't, you know you've done all you can, and you will be at peace.  You've chosen this one person, so you may as well make the most of it!

This is us at our engagement party in 2001. Us again in Colorado?!




Photobucket

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Is A Life Worth?



Who can measure a life? How do you measure a life?

There is a lot I am passionate about, I've shared several through my blog. But there is one thing that nags at me, one thing that hits the deepest and that I feel most passionate about, and that is someone's self-worth. We hear this term a lot. Sometimes it's used talking about someone's value.

Worth can be defined as something that has significant value, or useful and of importance. Unlike money, humans don't have a dollar amount when it comes to their value or worth. It's easy to judge how much a house is worth, it's simple to have the knowledge of how much the car I drive is worth (and at this point in time, it ain't much). We easily measure worth on property value, product value, food value--those are all tangible ways to measure somethings worth.

So how do we measure a humans worth? What is the worth of a human? What are you worth and what is your value? What is mine?

Many, especially americans, value their worth based on their jobs. That's a biggie. My husband and I are currently watching a relatiy show called The Pitch, us ex-ad geeks are loving it. On the show, two agencies battle it out to win new business through their pitch. Last week, when they were showing clips of the agency employees who were working on a specific piece of the pitch, one of the girls was being interviewed for the show. She literally said, "I really have to win this pitch-my self-worth depends on it. This is how I value who I am." That is word for word my friends. I looked over at my husband (he knew what I was thinking), with my jaw on the GROUND. How incredibly sad! I wanted to reach into the TV screen and scream at her and say "Nooooooooooooooooooooooo"!!!

Let's look at all the ways us humans measure our worth:
-How much money we make
-How big our house is
-Where we work
-What we wear
-What we eat
-Who we talk to
-Who we know
-Where we come from
-The houses and neighborhoods we grew up in
-The schools and universities we attend or don't attend
-What we know/knowledge/how smart we are
-How well we do on tests
-How many skills we have
-How creative we are
-How much we weigh
-What we look like physically
-How others treat us
-How we treat others (meaning if we treat people really good are worth goes up)
-How much of a difference we are making
-How popular we are/how known by the world we are
-Our religious beliefs
-Our political beliefs
-Our ethnicity
-What's happened to us/our past
-The degrees we hold


I mean honestly the list goes on, what did I forget?

I gotta know, do you believe any of that? That you are worth less or more based on the above list? If your kid came home from school and told you they got a C on a paper or a test, would you think or believe that their value or worth as a tiny human was lowered or changed at all? What about if they got an A? Would you think their worth went UP? Gosh I so hope not.

Our world is so focused on rank and elitism. I think it's absolutely disgusting. There, I said it.

I wish I could reach every single teenage girl and more to let them know this: 
YOUR WORTH IS NOT BASED ON WHAT YOU DO, WHERE YOU'VE BEEN, WHERE YOU'RE GOING, OR WHAT SOMEONE SAYS ABOUT YOU. YOU HAVE VALUE BECAUSE YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING. AND THAT IS ALONE ENOUGH. YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN RUBIES AND YOUR VALUE IS THE SAME AS A BIG WIG ON WALLSTREET OR ANGELINA JOLIE. NO ONE, I MEAN NO ONE HAS MORE VALUE THAN YOU AND NO ONE, NO ONE IS WORTH MORE THAN YOU. WE ARE EQUAL. IT'S THE WORLD THAT HAS CREATED THESE RANKS, NOT GOD. DON'T BELIEVE IT, DON'T BUY INTO IT. WE ARE ALL ON EQUAL GROUND. IT'S A LEVEL GROUND. I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE, OR HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH OR WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU ARE BEING BEATEN, ABUSED OR MISGUIDED. I'M HERE TO SAY THAT YOUR LIFE IS WORTH JUST AS MUCH AS THE NEXT. BELIEVE THAT REALITY. BELIEVE THIS TRUTH.
My daughter is in Africa right now, and I could never believe that because she is american that 
her life is worth more than these precious boys. Just because she has more opportunity and more money and probably more resources doesn't mean that her life is worth more. They are equal in the eyes of God.

If this isn't the truth, then I may as well crawl into a hole and die. And I am not kidding. I get through each day BECAUSE of this truth! I have removed myself from the ranking system of the world. I refuse to play into it, and I have offered the same truth to my daughter.

I don't think I could live a minute in this world if I was basing and judging my self-worth on anything other than the raw truth that all lives are equal in the eyes of God. I just couldn't. I would drown. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let The Darkness Teach You



Anyone that has been reading CB for a while has known that I have seen my dark days. I haven't hidden the fact that I have faced some major suffering, mainly in my marriage and the second in my health.

Being in the dark--and what I mean by that is being in a place and time in your life that is extremely painful emotionally, physically and mentally. Dark times come when we lose someone very close to us, or we struggle with our health, or we lose our homes and struggle to put food on the table, or we go through a divorce. There are many situations that bring us to a dark period in our lives, and hopefully, it brings us to our knees. I know that is where I ended up.

Darkness promotes many things: loneliness, hopelessness, depression, anger, bitterness, resentments, self-pity, frustration, blame. . .and the list goes on. I'm very familiar with it.

I believe we must let the times in the dark show us something we haven't seen yet. Let it teach ussomething we don't know yet. Look within. Dig. Seek. Ask. Beg if you have to.

I would consider being in the wilderness or the dark for probably 6 or 7 years. That's a long time.

My first bout of darkness came in my marriage 9 years ago. I've written about it on the blog here, here, herehere, here,  and here so I won't rehash it all today, but it was torture for me, and my husband. I spent many days hiding in my closet and screamed and cried almost every day for a year and a half. After that mulled over, it was still chaos for 5 more years, and I thought the marriage would end. Man those were some dark, miserable days. Or years, rather. What torment.

The second piece of darkness has been my health. I have had 43 surgeries since 1996. And from 2007-2010 I had the worst of them. I've been recovering for the last 4 years or so, through various treatments and physical therapies. Those were some very pathetic years for me, extremely defeated and basically thought I was the worlds biggest loser. And not the trying to lose weight kind.

I consider myself a seeker "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13. When I was in the midst of these battles I always went to God's Word, it was literally ALL I HAD. The scripture verses on seeking had struck me back in 2002 when I became a christian, but when I was in my pit of hell, is when I put them to USE. So began my journey to "seek the Lord" and His kingdom first.

Here are 3 things I let the dark teach me, here is what I discovered as I sought the Lord and wisdom greater than my own. Because if I were left to my own devices, I wouldn't have learned what I learned:

1. I Became An Abider-
Most Americans don't get the concept of REST. And they have no clue that rest is important, no, vital for their lives. I really wish this would change, but our society is too focused on busyness, I just don't have faith that it will change much. Achievements and success is the american way don't ya know.
Well I was forced to rest. Being that I was laid up from 2007-2010 basically, made me an "abider". I use to be so focused on all I wanted to DO and how we all should DO it and what the RIGHT way to live was and on and on. I was focused outwardly. I was "trying" to live a good life. But in my time on the couch as I like to call it, I learned that what God wanted from me was just to rest in Him. To abide in Him, and connect with Him, and commune with Him. Learn to be a BEING. Learning to be a BEING helped me really become a real DO-ER. It was an inside out change, and my life naturally became a living sacrifice for others. Which is what Jesus was. Whether you have certain religious beliefs or not--you can still learn to be a BE-ER. Instead of focusing on being a DO-ER, God taught me to just be. And you can learn that too. I had an idea of what my life ought to look like, but God was calling me deeper, and saying, "No child, come here first."
As soon as I started to loosen my grip on the way I thought I wanted things to go, and as soon as I stopped clinging to trying to make my life look a certain way, was when I actually started to live. Truly live. 
I could rest at His feet and learn more about His heart, and His ways. I could love on Him and He could love on me. Just right there, on the couch. Learn about your heart, learn the way you think, learn to rest.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. - John 15:4

2. Rise Above Circumstance-
It took all I had in me to find peace and joy in the midst of my marital uproar and my unstable health. I was fighting tooth and nail because I did not want either of these things happening to me. This wasn't what I envisioned for my marriage or my health! The word circumstance comes from things that are happening. It actually is traced back to the word HAPPY. Usually we are happy or not happy depending on our circumstances. But JOY and PEACE breed contentment and that is a whole other ballgame. We can have those without HAPPY CIRCUMSTANCES. For me that came in the form of course in reading God's word and seeing Paul! Paul was in prison and was an innocent man but because God loved Him that was simply enough for Paul to find joy. I was able to "rise above" my circumstances and not let them define me or bring me down because God showed me that I was more than what was happening TO me. I was loved by God and even if my marriage was falling apart and my health was a mess, I could still have an inner peace by knowing the Truth of God's love. I didn't have to be defined by my circumstances. I might not have been happy, but I could still have peace, I could still have a joy. I was able to cling to hope, which opened a whole new world! The world and it's suffering and pain will always try to bring us down, but the hope we have in God outweighs anything this life throws our way. God has His own profound purpose in our afflictions, but it's never to take away our joy. To maintain our joy we must adopt God's perspective regarding our trials. When we yield to the working of His Spirit in our lives, our difficulties will not overwhelm us. In all circumstances the Spirit of God produces joy, so there ought not to be any time when we're not rejoicing in some way.

"I count it all joy". Paul

"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me." Psalm 27:5-7



3. The Battle Is In The Mind
Every morning, and I mean every morning for years I woke up and believed I was a loser. Gosh, what even IS a loser?
I believed I had no purpose, no plan and was useless. When I couldn't do all I wanted to do because I had to quit my job in 2007 due to all the surgeries I was having, I was angry. This is not where I wanted to be, and I found myself constantly fighting this battle of who I was in my mind. I believed lies about myself that I was no good. It was such a dark place to be. But again, I turned to the word and found scripture was literally my only Truth. It had become a way of life for me. It wasn't just words on a page anymore, they were real life for me. I found out amazing things about who I really was in God's Word and that that was what I needed to replace with the negative talk and lies I was believing in my head. I had to claim and re-claim the Truth of who I really was! The bible calls it "taking thoughts captive" and I learned in counseling that all that means is that the cycle is: THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, ACTIONS. So I had to start with the thought, and if it was negative, I would replace it with a TRUE or GOOD thought and therefore my feelings would change and of course then my actions would be different too. It's an amazing tool that I STILL do every single day! Email me if you have questions about it or want help with it!
It's been a good long time since I woke up calling myself a loser, but if I start to feel it creep in, I immediately change my thought pattern. I replace false thoughts with true thoughts. I replace cruel thoughts with kind, loving thoughts. Mostly which are from my heavenly Father.

I know the last place anyone wishes or wants to be is in the dark. Why would we? It's painful and scary and beyond not fun. But I also trust that it's in the darkness that better vision can grow. Better vision about ourselves, others, God and the world itself. We mature there. We become like fine wine, being in the wine skins for long periods of time, we get better with time and age. We push through the darkest days of our lives searching for a purpose in all of it. There is always hidden purpose or beauty. Always. We just have to be daring enough to find it.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Come Thou Fount






I forget sometimes that I have been in the thick of parenting before. I'm in it now, just in a much different way. It's no secret that I have been struggling with this stage of parenthood. It has actually thrown my faith into a tizzy. And after all I've been through in my marriage and with my health, you would think that would be nearly impossible. Pride comes before a fall. Ouch.

As a Mom, I've been knee deep in infections, ear tube surgeries, broken bones, illnesses, tantrums, the lying phase, the boy phase, a deeply broken heart, friend drama, teasing, insecurities, frustrations, body changes, emotional changes, friend changes, sleepovers, acne, sex ed, science projects, plays, concerts, sporting events, award ceremonies, boundary teaching, defiance, brokenness, redemption, forgiveness, teaching, preaching, yelling, softness, goodness, poverty, wealth. Wins, loses, positivity, negativity. Clean room, messing room. I've taught things of the heart, and reality of disappointments. I encouraged art, self-care, and authenticity. We've eaten pizza rolls and buttered noodles and organic free-range chicken and eggs.
She experienced loss of life of friends, grieving, finding God, questioning God. 

Parenting encompasses so much. There is no way my words could cover it all. But again, those days seem so distant. I seemed to have sailed through those days fairly well as a mother. I didn't stress often, I didn't worry too much, and I thoroughly enjoyed and was fulfilled. She was the light of my life. No doubt she still is.


 It's seems like forever ago that my daughter was a toddler, a grade-schooler and even feels like a lifetime ago that she was a middle-schooler. I lived those years well as a Mother. Did you know my first blog was a parenting blog? I'm super passionate about parenting. Relationship and authenticity come easy for me, which is my main focus in parenting, mixed with being extremely intentional with my time. I believed in bringing my daughter up with impeccable manners, walking and working through her emotions with her, talking openly about the hard stuff, not giving her many material things, encouraging her to make her own choices and how to do that, making sure she knew she was loved by God and by me, and that she was worth more than Rubies. I made an effort to really listen to her, especially when the tween years came upon us and she really learned the "gift of gab"! I don't remember myself ever talking that fast, do you?!

I encouraged her to be-friend the outcast, and to share with those who had less, and to appreciate what she had. I told her a lot about forgiveness--saw a lot about forgiveness too in our home, and the way of the heart. God's heart mainly. She also knows a thing or two about grace, and she has a heart for the homeless. I was protective about music, movies, and the language she used. Gosh, I didn't even allow her to say "stupid", and didn't hesitate to share my beliefs about the bible with her. She attended christian camps every summer since she was 7. She asked many questions and was a leader at her church on Sunday evenings. I baptized her when she was 16! My parenting style is Authoritative. And I've always been positive and taught her to not complain about the weather or other silly things. Constantly praising her and encouraging her in a variety of ways throughout the week. I know she knows she's loved and heard. I know she knows she has worth and value. I know she knows God loves her. She would say she comes from a peaceful home, not without struggles, or problems, but loving, good and peaceful.

Last week I thought I was a complete failure though. I thought my last 18 years as a parent was wasted and down the drain. I felt so defeated as a Mother and it hurt so bad. But heart was broken. I saw the last 18 years as a complete failed attempt on my part and I was devastated. 

There's a big argument in the parenting world about when our kids go out on their own. If a kid goes "astray" people like to blame it on the way they were raised. If a kid stays on the straight and narrow (which I understand everyone's straight and narrow is different), then it's due to the good home life the kid had. Seems there is no attention on the individuality of the kid itself. I think there should be.


Since my girl left the house, and went off to college, it's not like she's gone hog wild. Ok, maybe with Seth Rogen movies, but that's it. 
But she's made some poor decisions that most every kid at that age, 19, does or has. I can relate, hello, I had her pretty much at the age she is now. I can relate.
I was not prepared for these years. No one talks of such things. Why? Seems everyone is always talking about other stages, but not this one. We need to start! I have had some support along the way, which has been helpful, but what this stage does to a Mother's heart is painful. And I don't think some of the decisions she's making are because of some of the brokenness in how she was raised. But maybe I'm wrong. It could be a mixture, either way, I know it's perfectly natural and perfectly normal, but that doesn't make the pain any better. I have been wiped on my butt by how difficult, painful and hard this stage is. I hate that I am not a fan. What's wrong with me?


'Come thou fount'

A fount is actually a source, and right now, I need this source to come with it's healing! Come with it's blessings! Which is God! I keep singing this over and over because I am unable to know how to support my daughter or love her without the love of God! I am unable to love who she is dating without seeing him through the eyes of God!
I am unable to judge my daughter with the love of God. I am unable to show mercy, and grace with my God! I am unable to the love her unconditionally with God! I am unable to be cruel with God guiding me and leading me!
With God's love I am able to cover it all with love! 

And believe no matter what phase you are in with your children, this can be true for you too. They are all covered. No matter if it's a lippy attitude, a tantrum, a lie, or an embarrassing moment. Whatever the case is, as for the fount to come, and heal and bless!

Our children will all make their way, but it has to belong to them, not us. This journey is our own. And I have known that to be true in my own life and walk, but it's extremely difficult to apply that to your own kids. Again, this is why I need my source. Come thou fount, do not tarry.