Wednesday, November 25, 2009

thank you, GOD, for...

GOD,

i just wanted to take a few minutes to tell you thanks.

thank you for my cat, fluffy, who i trust you will heal b/c she's not feeling well right now. thank you for ebony and the time we got to spend with him. he was such a crazy cat, and i so miss him.

thank you for a hubby who loves me and our kids. thank you for his job, even though it can get a little stressful and long sometimes. i am glad he gets to participate in his kids' lives like he does.

thank you for my matthew, jonathan, lily and katy. they're good kids, and i'm really proud of them and of who they are becoming. i pray that their desire is to live for you and make a difference in this world.

thank you for my life. there were times in the past that i couldn't say that. thank you for sticking by me when i wanted to give up. thanks for loving me so much and for healing what's broken inside me.

thank you for my friends. some are closer than others. some are forever. some are for a season. thank you for them all. thank you for my enemies. i learn a lot from them. i learn a lot about myself through them. i learn a lot about grace and forgiveness because of them. bless my friends and enemies alike.

thank you for extended and honorary family members.

thank you for the good times. thank you for the bad. both teach me about you. both teach my about me. thank you that you are good regardless of the circumstances in my life.

thank you for the air i breathe, the colors i see, the aroma of fall, the rain that replenishes, all the things i take for granted. open my eyes and my heart that all those and more will become more real and alive than ever before.

thank you for my future. i know you have plans for me. help me accomplish those plans with humility and fearlessness.

i do ask some things from you: a genuine smile, a content and compassionate heart, wide-eyed and twinkling eyes, helping and caring hands, innocent and harmless motivations. help me walk in forgiveness and give me love that will melt away fear and cover a mulititude of sins and shortcomings. make me like you.

thank for all this and so much more.

amen!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

quick thoughts on the season

my heart is feeling more at peace. i had a minor setback last night, but my recovery time was quicker. so i must be getting better? i think so.

i am glad that my family is at home from school/work this week. my favorite time of the year has always been christmas, but my kids seem to prefer thanksgiving over all other holidays. i'm sure the annual family turkey bowl football game has a lot to do with that.

i am so thankful for my family. and i am thankful for the peace in my heart. i haven't felt this much peace in years. i owe that to GOD. i've still got a long way to go, but i know i've come a long way.

GOD, help me to always be mindful of your graciousness and goodness. without you, i am nothing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

new direction...feels better than Christmas

a while back, GOD started showing me a different direction for my life and ministry. i'm in the time of preparation currently, and it is definitely a challenging time for me. i am working on a ministry to women, specifically young women; and my mission is to empower them to lead with humility and fearlessness. as a result, i'm really being challenged in the areas of humility, fearlessness and forgiveness.

this week has seen more than a few challenges, but with the help of the word of GOD and some godly friends, i am getting through this. i have felt bogged down with all the baggage i've been carrying, and each day sees more freedom. that freedom does not come easily.

pride is a very broad subject and comes in many forms. my biggest struggle right now with pride is my thinking i can do "it" on my own, that i can hold on to things that actually belong to GOD. i guess when it comes down to it, i feel i can do a better job with my life than he can. the contrary is a difficult lesson to learn. most of my pride comes in the form of unforgiveness and a desire for retribution. i guess i've thought that GOD didn't understand and wouldn't know what to do. how silly to think such nonsense.

fearlessness...i have had so much fear in my life. to be fearless means you are courageous. i've been hiding behind my defense mechanisms. i've heard others describe me at times as being bold and courageous, but i never really see it. i guess it's because i know my thoughts and emotions and my history. why GOD would ask me to help others be fearless...huh, i guess he means what he said in 1 Corinthians 1 about him using what others think of as foolish and feeble to confound the wise and powerful.

my heart is being cleaned of the sludge of unforgiveness, pride and cowardice. i feel like i'm moving ahead with GOD's plans for my life. and now i can feel excited about this new chapter...it's kind of like Christmas...only better.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"write but don't send"

i did what i needed to do yesterday. i wrote a letter to those left on my "to forgive" list. it's one of those "write but don't send" kind of letters...at least not in that form. in it, i gave an explanation and my own apology. i felt good immediately. and it was just in time. i saw a few of them last night. but this time i treated them like i wish they had treated me and my family. i can't trust that their nice responses were genuine. i'm pretty sure that at least one of them wasn't. i heard her complain about someone in my family again. i'm not sure how long i'll be able to show mercy if that continues. however, i am not going to do anything about that at this time. in praying for them like the Bible says to do, i've started asking that GOD heal what's not whole in them. the truth is that if they were whole and fulfilled, they would have never behaved in such a deplorable manner. they must have brokenness, too. i was proud of the way i handled myself. i still am choosing not to put myself back into a situation where they can use and abuse, but i can be "shrewd as a snake and harmless as a dove." to me, that means to love from a distance.

Friday, November 20, 2009

the last entries

i keep getting all these devotionals and messages and blogs in which people are discussing forgiveness. as much as i am familiar with the process, i must confess that i have needed each and every one of those words. i am really struggling with those last few entries on my "to forgive"list. i hate having to admit that, but to surpress it would be wrong and damaging.

i have a difficult time being around people who are duplicitous and unjust. all those left on my list fall into both those categories. it angers me every time they flash a smile and try to be nice to our faces. why? because i've seen them do that before, yet as soon as we or someone else they consider inferior turn their backs, those people begin the backstabbing, gossip and belittling. i can't trust them. just recently, i saw this done again to my family. it makes me angry all over again. i struggle with confronting them b/c i'm afraid it will only make things worse. but i can't seem to act like i never knew this all happened.

i want to be obedient. i want to be able to pray for those who spitefully use us and say unkind things about us behind our backs. i want to be blameless and walk in peace, but my lingering unforgiveness is making me as much at fault as they are. my heart is torn. if i have to be honest, i'd have to say that not only do i completely abhor what they've done and their ways and means of getting their agendas met, but i believe i hate them personally. i don't want that. why is this so hard? i know i should leave the vengeance to GOD, but i so want them to pay...and the sooner the better. i hate feeling that way as much as i hate those people. something's got to give.

i know what i need to do, and i can't move on until i do it. GOD, give me the courage to do what is right and what brings peace and unity. help me do my part to live at peace with everyone. i can't make them do the right thing. i question whether or not they actually have a conscience. but i do. i can't feel my way into doing what i need to do. i guess this is where faith and obedience is going to have to guide me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

my thoughts on today...and what a beautiful day it is!

it's such a beautiful day. i've done my devotional, checked a few emails, spoken to my mom, vented to a friend about what's left on my "to forgive" list (which btw is down to 9 entries!!!), and had a few sweet moments with the hubby before we both left for work. he's definitely a keeper! =)

david and i are heading out of town for another basketball game. this time it's only the varsity guys, so it's just matthew tonight. i'm really proud of my kids. yeah, they drive me crazy sometimes...particularly the boys with their lame joke contests. omg! sometimes i'm not sure if i should roll my eyes, send them to bed, or burst into laughter over the stupid things that get said! lol! at least the girls are sane. they just keep hugging me and telling me how much they love me. i so love that! my kids amaze me! they're really growing up. and they're good kids. i think this has been my favorite season of parenting so far.

we're doing work to our house. we finally were approved for better insurance on the house. we got dropped for a while due to it needing so many repairs. the alternative insurance we had to get was expensive! i don't like being poor, but i do have a better understanding how the cycle of poverty works. it's hard to break it because the less fortunate are given fewer breaks. we're prepping the house to paint it. even the primer coat makes the house look happier, and that makes me happy. i can't wait to get it done! it's going to be pretty!

thanks, GOD, for my home, be it ever so humble. and thank you for my incredible family. and thank you for the beautiful blue sky today. you rock!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

speaking out on women's health

as are many women this week, i, too, am both disturbed and concerned about the announcement and recommendations that have recently been made public regarding women's health, specifically breast health. i am not in the medical field and am not an expert, but i am a woman, and i do have a voice. today i choose to put it use.

i think a lot of us fear that these guidelines diminish the importance of women and our health. we've worked very hard in the history of our country to be taken seriously, to be treated with respect, and to be considered equal. i fear that these recommendations have set us back a hundred years or more. i've read a number of articles in which the new recommendations are considered patronizing, that women shouldn't worry so much, that we get hysterical about such things. forgive my sarcasm when i say that it's only our breasts. the breasts that bring nourishment to our infants and, yes, pleasure to our lovers. it's only one of the signs of our becoming women. it's only our lives and our well-being. why should we be concerned?

without early detection, a few women in my life wouldn't be here. all are under 50. all were diagnosed with breast cancer. i am approaching 40 as are many of my friends. this affects me. it affects my friends and family. i'd rather my sisters be safe than sorry. i realize there is still so much to learn about breast cancer, but to tell us to just not worry about it and forget about the precautions that we've been taught without offering us a real and valid alternative based on new technology is irresponsible. we are told to continue taking these precautions if we happen to be at high risk, but who determines who is high risk and who is not? not everyone who is diagnosed has a family history of cancer.

should we sacrifice our health to save a few bucks? i say we should find some other solution. and i do not believe the government should be taking on this endeavor. my husband used to do work for the government in the engineering field. the red tape and incompetence of the government can be astounding. government-run healthcare is not the solution. my kids are on well care, which is government-maintained. it's a mess. yes, my children have health coverage, but when there are few or even no doctors willing to take it in your area, it's as if they have no health care.

we need to encourage women to speak out. we need to encourage our government representatives to get educated about who they represent. we need to send the message that we vote and that we have voice. women are powerful. we matter and so does our health.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

that shrinking list of mine =)

my "to forgive" list has been steadily shrinking. as a result, i feel lighter. i feel like i'm gaining momentum. at least for now, forgiveness means acceptance. i know i can't change others. i can only change how i respond or feel in regards to them. i keep telling myself, "it is what it is. deal with it."

i don't want to be a victim anymore. i don't want to be chained down anymore. i've got too much to do, and i don't have time to keep carrying around my baggage.

i'm still learning new things and trying new things. i'm still stretching myself and my comfort zones. i'm working on a new ministry that focuses on young women leaders and ministers. i'm really excited about that.

i read in 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 this morning. this became my prayer. LORD, will you make my love for others grow and grow? Make my heart strong, blameless and holy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

i chased her down in the parking lot! lol!

had a feeling yesterday that i was going to run into someone on my "to forgive" list, and wouldn't ya know... i did. she didn't see me, and i could have let her just leave. but where's the fun in that??? i chased her down in the parking lot, asked how she was doing, gave her a hug, and all that good stuff. that rise of anger was nowhere to be found even when she asked a couple of uncomfortable questions. honestly, i think she felt regretful about what happened, and well she should. it wasn't right, but i think i've accepted that "it is what it is." i think GOD's working it all out for my good, so i'm ok.

i called my hubby as soon as i walked off. i knew he'd get a kick out of the situation and be proud of the way i conducted myself. he did, and he was.

forgiveness feels a whole lot better than anger, hurt and bitterness. i feel really good that i was able to be loving, kind and gracious...and honest with this woman. i think i'm now ready to mark her off my list which has been shrinking, thank GOD!

i'm glad i didn't let the opportunity pass me by. thanks, GOD, for guiding my steps and preparing me for that situation! oh, yeah...and for giving me back my sly, little grin! lol!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

to know your heart

really digging this song today...

to know your heart by brent d. anderson

"...you have always been my strong tower,
my rock and my fortress,
my shelter in the time of the storm.

to know your heart
to feel your love
to find you in the secret place and touch your heart o GOD

to hear your voice
call out my name
LORD, there's nothing in this world that i want more
than to know your heart."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

it is what it is..finding acceptance

yesterday was rough emotionally for me. as usual, when i'm working on my "to forgive" list, i have some ups and downs. i woke up very angry yesterday, but by the end of the afternoon, i had come to terms with my anger. it's not uncommon to have strong emotions right before you forgive someone. it's like it all has to come to the surface before it can be removed.

i can't say that i understand why he did what he did. i can't say that i understand why he didn't do what he didn't do. i may never have the answers. i may never get my well-deserved apology, but i think i've accepted that. i think i feel free to move on. i didn't remove his name from my list. i want to give it a few more days.

however, i did remove a few names this week. i think i just needed to accept that "it is what it is." i can't change the past. it's done. i'm a little curious as to how i'll react if i see them, but i think i can be gracious and forgiving.

i did receive an email from someone today who is on my list. i sent back a nice reply. no zingers. no twisting of words. and there was no rise of anger. could i have forgiven yet another? could it be??? =) she was kind of the force behind a lot of my problems recently. i just had to separate myself from her. you know, keep a safe distance. i'm surprised that i'm not hurt by her and angry at her. i have a right to be, but i honestly, truthfully, sincerely blessed her today. i feel really good about being able to do that.

some people hurt and blame others b/c they themselves are hurting deep inside. they get stuck. i certainly understand. i, too, have been there. though it was personal, in a way, i don't think i should take it personally. sometimes we hurt others who have nothing to do with what is really bothering us, but we take it out on whoever is around. this is a case where extra grace is required on my end. i pray she finds peace, healing and acceptance. i would hope that extra grace and prayer would be extended to me by those i've hurt.

i'm a proud momma

last night, we had a school sports banquet. i had a girl on the middle school volleyball team and a boy on the varsity soccer team.

katy is just a sixth grader, but she made the volleyball team this year. she started out on the bubble. she'd never played before and couldn't serve the ball over the net. but after a couple of games, katy, with the help of her coaches figured it out. by the end of the season she was starting on the team and playing almost all the time and was getting almost all of her serves over. she's a competitive and determined little girl. when she was little, she had a lisp and was shy and reserved and self-conscious. i don't know where that little girl went. she's been replaced with a confident young lady. i'm so proud of her not only for her accomplishments but for who she is... which is sweet, tenderhearted, athletic and smart.

matthew did not intend to play soccer. he's not really a fan, but because his friends wanted to play but didn't have enough players, he not only joined the team but encouraged others to play. he learned, he worked hard, and he did pretty good. i think it was good for him. it kept him in shape for basketball and taught him footwork and positioning that will definitely come in handy this basketball season. the mvp award went to a well-deserving player on the team, but in my book, matthew's the mvp. he cared about his soocer-playing friends and made sure they had enough to play this year. i'm proud of who he is on and off the field. he's got leadership ability, and i think he's starting to figure that out.

now it's time for basketball. matthew, jonathan and katy are on their basketball teams, and lily found out this week she's the captain of the cheer team. i love my kids so much. they are good kids, and they make me so proud.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

why? why? why?

i'm really having a rough morning. i woke up angry...angry at a person on my "to forgive" list. and i mean really angry. i sincerely wanted to go beat the crap out of him this morning.

but now, seriously...who am i more mad at...him or me? i think i'm more upset with myself for allowing him to have the power to make me so dang mad. i hate that. why am i finding it so hard to let go? is it that i've suppressed my anger for a while and now it has to surface before i can be free of it? i hope i'm about to be free of this, but i'm not sure. i wonder how i'll react when i see him again around town. i hope i'll be gracious and forgiving, but today i'm not sure. what is it that has made me so angry this morning? i'm not supposed to be there. my time is done. i get that. why can't i forgive this? why would i even WANT to hang on? why is it so important to me to hear the words "i'm sorry"? why don't they ever get spoken? why can't i stop asking why and just learn to accept?

oh, GOD! please make whole whatever this is that keeps me from letting go and moving on. fix this in me. i want to walk in forgiveness and grace, not anger and bitterness. please hear and understand the groaning in my heart. make sense of this. please give me peace and closure, and if it's possible, some degree of understanding. heal my heart. i feel like that egg that i dropped this morning... too broken to salvage it. but you made my heart. you know what it takes to fuse it back together...again.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"don't make me pay for what he did to you"

i was sitting in church this morning. a pastor friend of ours invited us to his church for friend day. sitting there waiting for church to begin, GOD spoke to me. let me explain.

i love madea movies. in one movie (i forget which one), this woman is falling for a guy but is having a hard time being in the relationship. the guy knows it and tells her, "stop making me pay for what he did to you."

that's what GOD told me. he said that's what i'm doing to others in my life. i'm making them pay for what people in my past have done to me. i don't want to be that person. if i'm angry or hurt with someone, i should point my anger or hurt in their direction rather than towards those who are in no way associated with it. better yet, i should forgive and let go...not for the offenders, but for me.

there are people on my list who have no idea that they're there. some don't know, but others don't care. some don't deserve my forgiveness, but really...do any of us? only by the grace of GOD i suppose. i have to forgive for me. i've said over and over again that forgiveness doesn't make what happened ok. forgiveness makes me ok. i don't want my baggage to hurt my present or my future. i have to let go for me.

it's not fair to me or those around me to punish them for what others have done to me. i can't let people have that kind of power over me. so this week, i'm working on my "to forgive" list with that in mind.

GOD, help me to not punish others for the offenses committed against me. i want to be free. i want to have that child-like faith, that child-like innocence. i want to trust. i want to be happy. it's hard to be happy when i'm tired b/c of my baggage weighing me down. forgive me for my unforgiveness which has turned into pride...me thinking i can do it without you. thanks for the service this morning and for the pastor's message. it touched my heart. thanks, mic, and thanks barnesville first assembly.

Friday, November 6, 2009

new things

seasonal depression? hormones? personal issues? who knows, but i've been a little tired and depressed lately. sooo...i went back to doing something that i used to do when i got depressed or lonely for a prolonged period of time. it's something that i recommended to a friend years ago but for different reasons.

"learn something new everyday. do something new every week." it works like a charm. the hard part is getting started. the first is always the hardest, but then i get some momentum and things start looking up. i have personally found that when i begin feeling depressed, i need to do the opposite of what i feel like i want to do. what i want to do is be alone, sleep, etc. what i need is to get outside, do a new thing, do something with a friend, etc.

i've learned and done a lot of new things lately. my new things for the week include going to a store i've never been to before and attending a class on coupons. i learned that publix takes competitor's coupons, found a new "green" flea treatment, how to make popcorn balls, and learned a new memory verse.

little things add up. stretching myself feels good. so, learn something new today or do something you've never done but wanted to.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

green-ish update

i haven't written anything recently about my attempts to go green-ish. i admit it. throwing myself into complete green-ness would completely overwhelm me, so i aspire to go green-er.

i've been pretty satisfied with my accomplishments thus far. i recycle our paper and plastics on a regular basis. i can't believe how much that has cut down on our actual trash. i'd recycle more if i knew of a local place that accepted more recyclable items. i've cut down on the amount of disposable items like paper plates, sandwich bags, etc. i sometimes use my reusable grocery bags. i haven't yet found a system that works to remind me to bring them with me when i go to the store, but i still use them on occasion. i still use some disposable items, but i usually find ways of reusing them a second or third time.

i tried toilet paper made from recycled paper last week. it was free with my coupon, so i thought...what the heck...and i gave it a shot. not bad. i was pleasantly surprised. we've cut back on some of our energy and water usages, though i'm not quite as gung-ho as i was at first. i've tried some non-toxic recipes for flea treatments, and to my surprise, they work better. my hubby is even asking about green remedies these days for other ailments and issues.

i'm proud of myself for the small changes i've made and the fact that now some of those changes are permanent. it hasn't been as hard as i thought. little steps add up after a while.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

coupon class

i attended a class last night on how to use coupons. i already knew a lot being a devout coupon user, but i learned even more. i'm so glad i went.



here's what i do now:


  • i have a binder and put my coupons in baseball card sheets. that way i see what i have.

  • i check the sales papers and plan my trips.

  • i use internet and e-coupons. register with your grocery store like http://www.kroger.com/ and http://www.pgesaver.com/, and http://www.shortcuts.com/. a lot of stores will let you stack coupons which means you can use manufacturer, store and e-coupons on the same item. internet coupons include coupons.com.

  • i clip, clip, clip coupons from the sunday paper...ajc is the best.

  • i get updates with http://www.southernsavers.com/, but i'm going to try out http://www.couponmom.com/ and http://www.moneysavingmom.com/ to see if they are better.

  • i shop bj's warehouse b/c they take coupons. they also mail out great coupons and i can use my manufacturer coupons on top of their store coupons. also, i can use multiple coupons on the big stuff. i.e...there are 12 frappaccino's in a pack. i have 3 coupons. they are $2 off a 4-pk. i can use all 3!

  • i love cvs extra bucks!

  • i only shop at places i can get double coupons.

here's what i didn't know or think about:



  • pay attention to coupons in the store next to the products.

  • ask when they mark down meats and produce. some stores do this in the mornings. and when the new produce comes in, the older produce gets marked down.

  • publix takes competitor's coupons (yay!)

  • when on long grocery trips, carry a cooler for chilled items

  • work with a friend

  • save expired coupons. the military can use them for a few months (if anyone does this, i would like more info)

  • print out store coupon policy and bring it with you just in case

  • make a price book for my regular items so i know how much they are at the stores i shop

  • pay attention to end of the season sales

  • if it's gonna be free, get it and bless others with it...i really like this one. so now i'm gonna keep all my coupons just in case for this reason.


other things i liked about the class...



  • she talked about being honest and nice when using coupons...when i have a lot of merchandise and someone comes behind me with just a few items, i always offer them the chance to go ahead of me. i have won over employees and customers alike with this approach. even better is if i see they have an item for which i have a coupon i'm not using. i love doing that. it gives coupon users a good reputation.

  • buy those free items that i don't use and give to others. in this economy, there's not a lot of extra money lying around, but i can use coupons and sales to buy up items for gifts.

  • she talked about the proverbs 31 woman...i think she would have used coupons! lol!

  • i loved the fellowship. for me, it was like a reunion. i got to see old friends and enjoy their company.


if you have tips, please share! i'm all about saving money these days!!! hope i've been able to help!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

honest feelings toward my "to forgive" list

i'm having a hard time with my "to forgive" list. i got this overwhelming feeling this morning as i looked at it. none of these is easy, and i just don't feel like battling with it today.

it's not that i don't want to forgive. i guess i'm not convinced that i can get rid of these feelings i have for some of them. i know. i know. have faith that GOD will help me forgive. rely on his power to forgive. i know. and i've been told, but sometimes, it doesn't feel that easy.

i'm angry at the one who squeezes me out so she can get all the attention, who always seems to want what i have. i'm hurt by the one who chose to support the woman who was lying and trying to turn people against me. he said he had my back, but when it came right down to it, he chose her over me and put me in a really bad situation. i'm upset by the way some people treated my family because they have a sense of entitlement and think that they can treat people however they want in order to get their way. i'm angered by the man with the god-complex who could use a little more humility particularly in his dealings with others. he should quit throwing people under the bus, too. others are learning from his example.

i'm agitated and angry this morning, and i feel like i'll never work through this junk. sometimes, you just feel that way. it seems insurmountable. maybe in an hour or two, those feelings of frustration and helplessness will go away, and i'll begin again. i hope this agitation means that i'm getting close to a breakthrough. sometimes it does.

oh, and btw, don't think you know who i'm talking about. my guess is that you don't. but if you read this and feel guilty or angry, maybe you should apologize to someone. =)

Monday, November 2, 2009

the church is not here for us

The church is not here to meet our needs. We are the church here to meet the needs of the world http://twitter.com/erwinmcmanus

i think this is a great reminder for the church. too often we get lost in our own desires and forget there is a world around us that needs JESUS. i know we start out with good intentions, yet at some point, too many churches eventually lose sight of our mission which is to go into the world and share the good news of CHRIST. instead we start focusing on the trivial things that consider first our comforts and desires. we say we're going to reach out to our community, but before we realize it, we've become inward focused. we get bogged down in programs and budgets and committees. those plans to make a difference in our community fade away. we still think we are involved in the community, but we're not going out there. we begin to shift our perspective and act as if the community should come to us.

we must fight this. we must go. we must not lose our mission. we must not lose our focus. we are the church. we are here for the world.