Saturday, October 23, 2010

ugliness is part of the journey

the butterflies in my stomach began to flutter, and i had this feeling of "oh, crap" come over me. i knew i had to speak up. the leader had asked at least three times if anyone else had something to say. i tried to talk myself out of it, but it was no use. i waited as long as i could. i cleared my throat, swallowed my fear, and began to share my story.

i know how it feels to be hurt, to hate, to feel worthless, to be lonely and depressed, to want to end it all. i've been there. i was broken.

but i'm not broken anymore. and i had something to say.

the discussion was about spiritual healing and wholeness. i am no therapist. i hold no credentials in psychology. but life has taught me well. my heart found comfort that we were discussing such matters. these discussions were way overdue.

for years, i struggled, mostly in silence. i was hurt by organized religion, but because i still worked in it, i "sucked it up" and trudged along. i carried so much emotional baggage that i almost physically ached. one difficult day, i had what i think was an anxiety attack. i knew that something had to change. the stress was becoming overwhelming.

i began to write. i thought i would explode if i kept all these feelings bottled up much longer. i made my journey to wholeness available to anyone who wanted to read by starting a blog, my online journal...journey of hope.

it was an ugly journey. it was long. it was painful. i had good days and bad. sometimes i felt sick like i'd ridden a roller coaster non-stop for hours. and one day, it happened. i erupted. the pain and hurt that i released was incredible...and so very ugly. i let GOD have it. more accurately, i cussed him out. i hated him for everything he allowed to happen to me. he could have struck me down, could have allowed the earth to swallow me up. instead, he quieted my spirit and spoke these words to my heart, "finally. now we can get somewhere."

some people get offended when i share that. that's okay. i know GOD's big enough to handle it. his kindness and mercy that day brought freedom, forgiveness and peace to my life. the ugliness is gone today because GOD was my safe place. he allowed me to hate and be venomous, and he loved me through it.

we need to take off the masks, face the ugliness, and let GOD make something beautiful out of our brokenness. GOD is our safe place. and once we've dealt with the reality that we are broken, we need to be that safe place for others.

i think a lot of us are unprepared for how ugly the journey to wholeness is. but it's time: time for transparency and time for honesty. GOD will be there to pick up the pieces, and he will make something beautiful out of them. we will smile again, a real smile. we won't take others' woundedness so personally because we have dealt with our own. and peace will be ours.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

rolling with the punches

i received news that i got turned down again for the hope scholarship. i do have some interesting circumstances that make my situation unique; however, reason should win out here nonetheless. so, once again i'm moving on up to the next person with hopes that someone who can extend an exemption will understand and grant it to me.

it's very frustrating. can't lie about that. but i'm not altogether bummed.

GOD keeps sending me little bits of encouragement and perspective. he's quite relentless, to be honest.

songs on the radio saying it's going to be all right, blogs that i subscribe to in my inbox talking about rolling with the punches, quotes regarding flexibility. OKAY, GOD, I GET THE MESSAGE! loud and clear! lol!

so, today, GOD's message to me is to roll with it, i'm guessing.

and roll i did. i guess i'm realizing that life is full of setbacks and disappointments, but that doesn't mean GOD's not actively working on my behalf. i have to trust that he's taking care of me and my situation. this i know: i am learning some valuable lessons about dealing with people in frustrating circumstances, and i must be getting better at pleading my case and winning them over. they seem to want to help me now. i have a feeling it will work out like it should. no need to worry about it. i'll keep doing my part. all i can do is the best i can do. i'll leave the rest to GOD. if the money doesn't come by this way, it will come by another. still praying for favor, GOD! =)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

gossip destroys

the cartoon is admittedly a little funny, but gossip is not. gossip destroys. there's just no other way to put it.

most of us have done it, but it's hard to admit to it. i'll start. i'm guilty. i've engaged in it. and i feel bad about it. truth be told, you've most likely at least listened from time to time. be honest. you've probably spoken it as well.

it's never harmless, it seems. some people do it and don't even realize it. sometimes, before we realize it, we're doing it.

we call it venting. we call it concern. we call it a prayer request on occasion (not to say it's wrong to have prayer requests, but we all know when a line is being crossed). we call it lots of things.

we need to stop.

we judge other people for things we consider ungodly sins, yet we participate in our godly sins almost daily.

listening to it is just as bad as speaking it.

it's easy to get involved. it draws us in. we believe it. and even if we don't, it still affects us. we listen, and we're hooked.

you know... we really don't need to know. most of the time, it's none of our business.

i'm sorry for the times i've allowed myself to get sucked in. i think i'm being a friend by being there for someone. i don't want to be rude, so i listen. before i know it, i've added to the conversation. i may tell them to talk to the person about it, but it's already gone too far. or i get upset, and i feel the need to the wrong person.

and it hurts that some of it's been about me or those i love. and people who i thought were friends listen to the gossip and start acting weird. trust is broken, and chances are, so is a relationship. and it hurts. as much as i don't want to be hurt by gossip, i don't want to hurt others either.

so why do we do it? i think sometimes we engage in gossip because we are...broken ourselves. it's always easier to point the finger at others than ourselves. it's easier to deflect. sometimes we have valid feelings, but it's easier to tell someone else than it is to tell the person we should really be talking to. sometimes it's just a way to pass the time. sometimes we're just nosy. sometimes we're jealous. sometimes we're hurt. sometimes we're angry. i'm sure there are other reasons as well.

but here's the bottom line: gossip destroys. someone always gets hurt.

once it's spoken, you can't take it back.

if we're not part of the solution, we become part of the problem. and if we don't have the ability to bring solution, it's none of our business.

and if someone is talking TO you about someone else, there's a good chance they're talking ABOUT you to someone else.

here's a question: would we want someone else saying this about us or our children? no? then chances are we should just keep it to ourselves. and believe me, i'm stepping on my own toes as much as yours. but i want to be a better person, so it's worth it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

i thought i knew what faith was, but that was before...

yep. i used to think i had faith, but nothing could've prepared me for this:

this week, my oldest son got his ...

wait for it...
can't believe i'm about to say it...
here it comes...

driver's license!!!

i'm still trying to figure out how i feel about this. i saw images in my mind of this itty-bitty 7 lb baby, a toddler sliding in a puddle of water at the park, a little man holding his dad's hand walking across the wal-mart parking lot...

when did he grow up and start ... (gulp)... DRIVING???

i try to take deep breaths and chill. i've got to let him grow up. the hubby and i have done a good job, i think, of helping our kids become independent.

but then the day comes, and it's like...LIFE, SLOW DOWN! I'M NOT READY YET!

i tell him all the time when he goes out with friends or when he's about to drive,"don't do anything stupid." ...and then i pray. i thought leaving the hospital with my newborn son was scary. looking back, that was nothing. =)

wow! my son is driving. i think i've concluded that you don't know what faith really is until you hand over the keys of your car to your child. that's when faith really kicks in. i'm excited for him. i really am. however, i'm thinking GOD and i will be having many conversations for a while that go a little like this: "keep him safe, and don't let him do anything stupid. amen."

Monday, October 11, 2010

the little "i"

so far no one has asked, but i feel the need to explain anyway.

what am i talking about? my odd capitalization in my blogs.

it's something i do intentionally. it's a spiritual thing for me.

a few years ago, i read a book called i am not but i know i am by louie giglio. it's an excellent book that i highly recommend. the title is a little play on words. GOD is the "i am" in scripture. that makes all the rest of us "i am nots." louie wanted us to always remember the greatness of GOD, and if ever we decide to get the "big head," we should remember, we are "i am nots," the little ones.

i wanted a reminder of that. soooo, i gave it some thought, and the idea hit me, "why not make everything i write lower-case, except for GOD?"

and it has worked. every time i write, i am reminded of the power and big-ness of GOD, and i am reminded with every little "i" of my little-ness.

so the next time i start thinking i've accomplished something great or that i have become something great, i just write a little bit. and before long, i see that "i" am little and "GOD" is the big guy! i am not, but i know i am...very cool. very cool, indeed.

btw, you can check the book out on amazon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

politics and religion

everywhere you look, you see political ads. nothing wrong with that, i suppose. there is an upcoming election if you didn't already know.

i got burned out on politics years ago, though. i get criticised for that from time to time, but that's ok. different strokes for different folks. i do take the responsibility of voting seriously. it's a privilege i enjoy and do not take for granted. but politics is not something i enjoy.

one of the things that turned me off to politics a few years back is ...well, the religious community and republicans. before i go further, i should point out that i am part of the religious community, and i do mostly identify with a republican platform. and it's not that i think christians shouldn't care about social and political issues, i just think there needs to be balance.

a few months ago, i asked people on facebook to be nice and respectful towards those with opposing views. i got blasted for it, accused of being a democrat, people tried to convert me over the issue (funny thing, i already agreed with most of what they were trying to convince me of)...

i believe that christianity is not a political movement and that GOD is neither republican nor democrat. sometimes, we confuse spirituality and politics. we sometimes equate the two. but we really shouldn't do that. i read something interesting in the BIBLE tonight. in acts chapter one, we read the words of JESUS: "Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I have told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." we then go on to read what was on the minds of his disciples: "So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, 'Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?'"

guess those closest to JESUS made the same mistake we so often make. JESUS spoke of spiritual things, yet his disciples were thinking about political matters. i guess if they can make that mistake, we can just as easily do the same. perhaps i shouldn't be so hard on us when we "go there." not much has changed, i s'pose.

GOD cares about us and our world. don't get me wrong. he does have his hand on governmental matters, but GOD and all that he is about, is so much more than a political issue.

i just think that we need to have perspective and balance. we need to listen more to each other and judge a whole lot less. i've heard people say that there is no way a christian can be a democrat, and yet i know a few. =) they really are out there. i promise. and if we just listen to each other, we may find we're not as far apart as we originally thought.

should christians be involved in social matters? absolutely. should we care about politics? i think so. but everything in moderation. politics does not equal religion. just saying. =)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

the voice of truth

one day...
i'm singing a corny, happy song, and the next, i'm trying hard not to break down and cry.

i have always been sensitive, too much so. i take things too personally. i fear rejection. i'm introspective to a fault. it's not bad to be sensitive. it's normal to not want to be rejected. but seriously, i take it all too far. i realize that. i've worked to change the extreme degree of it, but much to my dismay, i have been unable to change that about myself.

i hear that when you know you haven't done anything, you shouldn't worry about it. that's no consolation to me. i don't know why. it probably has something to do with my being introspective to a fault. when someone is upset with me or mistreats me, the first thing i have always done is wonder, "what did i do? did i say or do something wrong?" maybe that doesn't sound too bad. if more people would ask that of themselves first rather than lash out, maybe the world would be a better place. however, i don't just stop there. whether or not i can identify something, i start playing the tape in my head, "you must have done something. it's your fault. no one likes you."

it's funny how lately GOD has taken many opportunities to have all the christian radio stations at my disposal play the song, "the voice of truth" by casting crowns. i hear it more now than when it was popular and first released. i think he's trying to help me develop a healthier way of dealing with this. for some reason, however, i can't seem to accept that truth.

GOD, don't give up on me. if it's my fault, help me see it and deal with it. if it's not, me see it and deal with it. don't stop telling me words of truth, and help me know when the lies are winning. help me silence them. i could ask you to do it. you probably would. but i want to be a part of the process so that i don't keep ending up here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

what a difference a day makes

so yesterday, i was struggling, and i prayed for peace. today, i'm walking around with a goofy smile on my face, and joke, i'm singing...

oh what a beautiful morning
oh what a beautiful day
i got a wonderful feeling
everything's going my way

yep, surprises me, too! but when GOD answers prayer, he REALLY answers prayer.

have my circumstances changed? nope. not really.

has my attitude changed? you betcha.

i don't know what it is, but i woke up this morning with the attitude: the best i can do is the best i can do. i can't ask anything more from myself. i know i'm not perfect. i know i'll make mistakes. i know not everyone will like me. but "at the end of the day," if i gave it my best shot, i can be proud of that.

it truly has been a beautiful day. i feel like GOD smiled on me today. and i am beyond blessed.

i'm going to my kids' cross country meet tomorrow, going to enjoy hanging out with my family this weekend, and i'm going to soak in all of GOD's goodness.