Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year's Resolution

This past Sunday at church Pastor gave a message called "This New Year."  As the week has unfolded and I've ready many, many Facebook posts regarding resolutions and changes people want to make, coupled with all the challenges that my running groups have put out there, I have decided I'm not making a resolution.  It isn't that I don't think I need goals or changes in my life, we all do.  Each and everyone of us need a goal and change.  We need the discipline that a good goal creates and the necessary pain that change gives.  Now, don't misunderstand what I am saying, change for change's sake isn't good, but I think if you were to look deep  you'd find one thing.  I know I have.  Allow me to explain.

Year's ago, when I had my first interview for a promotion with my company, I was taken aback by a question the manager asked.  I should tell you that I am a very outspoken person (no, it's true!) and in some circumstances, like when I'm really nervous, I like to lighten the air so-to-speak by joking around.  Well, this manager was new to the company and I wasn't familiar with his mannerisms, nor he, mine.  He did not find me amusing, nor did he like small talk.  (I should tell you he later became my boss and we work really well together still, though I no longer work for him.) Anyhow, he asked me "How do you eat an elephant?"  I laughed.  I mean, WHO eats circus animals?  (Yes, I asked him that question!)  Then I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "one bite at a time?!"  Guess that was the right answer because I got the job!  I say all that to say this: 2014, the whole year, the 12 months, 52 weeks, etc. is nothing more than 365 days.  Days people, days!  One year, is merely a compilation of days.  Don't try to tackle the whole year at once, live it one day at a time.

Pastor's message was based on Deuteronomy 11:8-12. Seems like a weird bit of scripture to base a New Year's message on, but it fits so well.  (It helps that he kind of, you know, showed how it fits!!!) In the passage Moses knew that the people needed to keep a positive attitude in order to keep going.  Um, duh!  Truth of it is, life does stand still when you let the ick and the overwhelmingness of the situation take control.  And I will be the first to admit that in very specific areas of my life I lack the faith necessary to keep going.  This is one of the changes that I want to make.  I want to give this one thing fully, completely to God to handle.  Each day.  In each way.  I know He won't let me down.  Besides, God knows what is best for everyone.   (Philippians 3:13-14)

Just like the land that Moses was leading the Israelites to, a land with mountains and valleys, this next year is going to have ups and downs.  There are going to be good days and bad days.  In fact, the Enemy WILL bring out things in 2014 that will try our faith.  It is his goal after all to get us to live miserably.  I have seen several times posted on Facebook a link of an idea pinned to Pinterest.  You take a quart mason jar, you can gussy it up if you want to, but the idea is to put in little reminders of the good things that happen to you over the year so that on New Year's Eve of that year you can be reminded of the good that the year held.  Here's the linky! I am a firm believer that each day has a win.  In fact, at the office I make it a point to share with my coworkers the win of the day.  Yes, it is at times, something as simple as not spilling my coffee all over my paperwork (this is a frequent issue!)  Wouldn't it be great to put all those wins together to show the beauty each day held in 2014?  This is a goal I am making for myself and each of my Littles.

The land that God gave to the Israelites was flowing with milk and honey.  Now, yes, we could take that literally and think of the board game Candy Land and see rivers of milk and rivers of honey, but the truth of it is that it was a land that held all the provisions the people needed.  And like them, God will provide the necessary things we need in the New Year.  Don't misunderstand this.  It isn't a name it and claim it kind of thing.  Remember that God knows each of us better than we know ourselves and these things that He is going to provide are not always the things that we want, but they will be what we need.  In fact, while typing this I am reminded of that fact for myself. I don't like it.  Not one bit.  I mean, I know what I want.  I know what it is that I want more than anything, but I also know that for it to be the best, I have to leave it to God.  He will also give us spiritual things, ministry things, and witnessing things. These are the things that will grow us to be more like him, to reach others, and make our lives richer and fuller.  But I think the most beautiful thing He will give us are the protective things. God will protect us! But beyond that He will encourage and strengthen us.  Sure, it may not feel like it while it is happening, but I think we often miss the forest for the trees. (Or maybe that is a problem only I have.)  However, the truth of it all is, what we receive depends on us. (Perspective people, it's a beast.) One of my goals is this, to receive each "thing" I can. Philippians 4:19

While I'd like to sit here and promise all of you the best year of your life, I cannot.  I cannot promise you anything.  Heaven's I can't even promise you a blog filled with worthwhile musings, but what I can promise you is - if you give it all to God He will be there.  In fact, He promises us that time and again in His Word.  I know, more than anything, the desire and want to go at things on your own.  To try to fix things and do things your way.  I think a lot of failure comes from that.  I DEFINTELY know that a lot of heartache comes from that.  I think Andrew Murray said it best, "Do not strive in your own strength; cast yourself at the feet of the Lord Jesus, and wait upon Him in the sure confidence that He is with you, and works in you. Strive in prayer; let faith fill your heart-so will you be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."  And this, this, is my ultimate goal for the new year, to cast myself at His feet.  To become the woman that He designed me to be. Genesis 28:15

To all of you, those who come back post after post to read what I have to say and to those who will stumble upon this for the first time; we don't know what this new year will hold for us - the decisions, the challenges, the disappointments, the blessings, the joys, etc, but the one thing we can hang our hat on is that God is in control.  He is going to be there with us each and every day.  In fact, he is already IN each day before it comes.  And one last thing I want to leave you with, something that I want to not only remember, but to actually apply:  God always gives the best for those who leave the choice to Him! Happy New Year to you and yours, may you find the win in every day.

Love, M








Monday, December 30, 2013

What I Found in 2013

If I had it to do over again, I would still keep 2013 for all that it was.  Now, yes, I did have a rough go of it.  I questioned my faith, I turned my back on the things I knew to be right and true, I lost my husband, but despite all of that I found so much more.

I found the blessing of true friendship.  I found that while not everyone who says they are your friend really is, but that is ok.  Every person has the choice to accept and listen and believe the stories they want.  Truly life will go on because there are those people who, despite your flaws, see the person you are, the person God created you to be, and still they love you and guide you and help you to grow.  These are the models of true friendship.

I found that I do have perseverance.  I could have let the ick of my life cause me to fail at school, not focus on what I had to do, and override all that I had already accomplished, but I didn't.  I continued to continue on and not only did I graduate, but I did it with a 4.0 GPA.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but merely say that I do know I can accomplish much.

I found that I like being me.  I know that sounds a bit weird,  huh?  But it is true.  I look back on things (relationships) and I see (well, with the help of my bestie) that I lose sight of myself.  I take on the role that I think they think I should have while in the relationship.  It is a sad truth about me.  One that I didn't realize point blank until August of this past year and since then have learned to overcome. Because the right person is going to love the real me.  I don't have to create walls and a persona that fits them.  I just need to be me.  And, know what?  I'm not a bad person!

I found that I serve a God of second chances.  You see, there are a lot of things that I would like to take back, undo, and otherwise wish I had never experienced, but that can't happen.  But what can and did happen is that God, when he forgives, he forgets that they ever occurred.  He doesn't do this for His benefit, but mine.  I have the reminder of the pain and the lesson learned, but the assurance that I still get to spend eternity with Him.  Praises to Him!

I found that I love to run.  While most people view running as a form of torture, I find it to be the cheapest form of therapy.  Well, that is before you factor in the shoes, clothes, accessories, supplements, etc!   No, really, I have found that running truly is the best way to see life.  Not that I'm zooming thru it, but that the dedication this sport takes can be applied to all areas of life as well.  I believe it has grown and changed me in more than just my physical shape and health.

I found that love isn't always what we think it is.  I found that it isn't always found in the people and ways we think we should find it.  I found that in order to receive love you have to be love.  But, also, that you have to be careful with who you give it to, not everyone will take it for what it is and can also take it for what it isn't.

And last, I found comfort in that no matter what this year held, each day of next year is already held by the Creator of days.  He is already there in each day waiting, patiently, for me, for us, to venture into it and seek Him and find the joy that day holds. I found that I am looking forward to 2014 despite what I know isn't going to be, but in anticipation of what may.

I hope you were able to find the blessings of 2013 regardless of what did or did not happen for you.

Love, M



Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Ornament

This year the days leading up to Christmas have been a bevvy of mixed emotions for me. Yes, last year I was wreck.  You all read it, here, in black and white.  Yet when I read back over some of those posts I wonder where that woman is who had so much faith.  That woman who clung so hard to the hope that just maybe she would receive a Christmas miracle after all.  It didn't come.  I secretly, well, not really, I publicly believed in it.  Don't get me wrong I still believe in miracles.  I still believe that God is in the miracle making business, I just know that that wasn't mine. 

Despite all that, despite how I feel and the sadness that overwhelms me most of the time, I cannot actually forgo the season, as much as I may have wanted to.  I have my Littles to think about.  They, these precious gifts of mine, do still believe in miracles and it is my duty to provide them with that.  So, I set out this year to do the best I could with what I have.  We decorated our tree with a little help from a wonderful friend, we set up the blow-up reindeer, penguin, and snowman out front, and we even have a couple gifts under the tree. 

I chose to continue the tradition that we started when our biggest little was born - a new ornament each year.  This year she got a blue, sparkly mushroom.  The middle little got a gingerbread house, and the littlest little got this sparkly, feathery monstrosity that just begs for attention on the tree.  Quite fitting to her outgoing personality.  Actually each ornament fits each of my Littles to a T.  This year, I too, got an ornament, a glass running shoe.  Then as we took each of the ornaments out of their storage containers we began to mount years worth of memories on the branches of our 7.5' Yonkers Pine.  I watched as each of my Littles placed their hand picked ornaments from over the years, then the ones their dad and I picked for them when they were still too little to do it themselves.  I held back the molten tears.  They didn't need to see them.  My friend didn't need to see them.  It wasn't the right time.

Now that a few weeks have passed I find that I cannot hold them in any longer.  The last few days have left me sitting here, all alone, while my Littles are at their dad's house creating new traditions with him, looking upon our tree and flooding my mind with the memories.  I see the alphabet shaped cookie ornaments we picked out when the littlest little was born, the little wooden ducky that we got when the biggest little was born, and the Baby's first Christmas ball that was given to us when the middle little was born.  There are sock monkeys and candy canes, jingle bells and lollipops, a horse, giraffe, and lady bug, plus several others, and of course every single hand-made ornament they have ever brought home. 

These are the gifts that I have this year.  Not a single one under my tree, but the memories of each ornament that is on it.  The Littles get so excited knowing that they can pick a new one every year.  It becomes something quite special for them.  It is a quest not taken lightly, after all they only get to chose one.  And as I sit here, with tears in my eyes, I think of the one who gave us the greatest gift of all.  The one gift we all need, yet many do not want.  God gave us His son as the gift of salvation.  He gave us the one thing that meant everything to Him.  He chose the exact time for the miracle to happen and we celebrate that as Christmas.  Truly there is no ornament in all the Earth that could compare to that.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours.  May your holiday fill you with new memories and the joy this season is meant for.

Love, M

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Want vs. The Wait

If there is one thing in this world that I am the worst at, it is having patience.  Well, I guess that isn't entirely true.  I have no qualms about waiting in lines, at the doctor's office, at a stop light, etc.  Where I have issues is with waiting on God's timing.  I'm battling that right now.  You see, I'm done waiting.  I hate this.  (Yes, I am going to whine for a bit here, but bare with me, I think it will work itself out in the end.)  I hate this time where I am stuck going no where.  Where I've quite emphatically expressed to God what it is that I want and even to a degree how it should be.  Yes, I do know that isn't how it works!

The Bible tells us to be still, to know that He is God.  It also tells us that He knows the desires of our heart.  Then it goes on to tell us that He only wants the best for us.  God is pretty awesome like that.  Yet, we, in our humanness, can't see the big picture.  We are creatures driven by wants and desires.  We are oftentimes lost in our cravings.  It takes an epic amount of strength and an intense amount of leaving it to God to get past the want. And that is the battle that is being waged in me right  now.  The want vs. the wait.

I am a hopeless romantic.  I've been told, time and again, by others that life is not a fairytale.  You know, for what it's worth, I think that is bunk.  I think that we create our own fairytale in how we receive the gifts that are bestowed upon us.  True love is the epitome of fairytales.  That defining source of happiness that enters the lives of the two main characters.  I ask you to find two people who have been married a year and ask them if they have their fairytale, 10 years, 25 years, 50 years.  I think each one of those couples are going to tell you, that yes, at times, it was.  Then others it will be everything but.  And is that so wrong?  Is it so wrong to see the beauty in the story that you created?

I want to create a story.  I beautiful story.  I want to have the whirlwind romance and pixie dust laden magical-ness of a fairy tale kind of love.  Then I sit back and think, isn't a love like that worth the wait?  Isn't letting God do what God does worth the wait?  How do I work through the want to get there?  I want it all now.  A friend of mine, who is much better at the patience thing than I am, said to me just tonight, "Why worry about it?  You can't change the outcome."  (Paraphrase)  And that is just it, what if I never get what I am to wait for?  What if I miss what it is I'm waiting for because I am waiting for it?  Exactly!

How do I let it all go, not think about it and let God handle it?  I suppose there is just a bit more that this battle is teaching me; oh alright, quite a bit!

SCORE:  Want - 1,000,000 Wait - 0

And this is what I want and must wait for:




Thursday, December 5, 2013

All That Glitters...

...isn't always gold.  A few months ago had a friend told me this I'd have stared at them with a deer in the headlights look.  I mean what does this really mean?  Time has given me some perspective on this.  Time and a hard lesson learned.  Here's the thing, pain can cloud our judgment; especially pain that is caused by loneliness brought on by heartache.   I wish I had enough words to describe this pain to those who have never experienced it before.  It is debilitating.  It can and will reduce you to nothing before you get to that point where you are able to stand again.  This pain is magnified even more, to some degree, by the length of time you were with the person.  But, not always is this true.

In February of this year, when the ex-Mr. moved out completely into his own place I had a long talk with my friend, Anna.  Well, I had many, but at this time she told me to stand my ground and to remain steadfast and to seek the Lord to heal my broken heart.  She told me that I needed to wait a  year, an ENTIRE year, before I should even consider dating again.  Her reasoning, I needed to heal.  Completely.  I want to sit here and tell you that I took her advice.  But I didn't.  Nope.  I should have, but I failed.

I dated a couple of guys.  In fact, I wrote a post about dating back in May.  No, don't waste your time, I didn't publish it.  I left it in draft format, and there it will stay.  It is too personal, ironic I know, but it also serves as my reminder that perhaps I did know the right thing and yet, I still failed myself.  Regardless, looking back I can see the pull these guys had.  I can see all the ways that I found them appealing.  Now, there weren't many.  I've dated 3 guys total.  In each case the red flags were present, but I didn't catch them straight away.  I was caught up in their "glittery-ness".  I'm quite certain no man wants that thought and their being associated.  Ha!  In all seriousness, I was caught up in all the wrong things.

I was chasing after a feeling.  I was banking on something that simply wasn't ever going to be.  Sure, for the most part I wasn't ready, but in all honesty, they weren't the right guy.  That's the thing people, when in the middle of the pain of divorce or break up from a long-term relationship you can't always see past the glitter.  I want to let you know that real gold, the kind that doesn't tarnish, is worth the wait.  It can be hard to find, but there is much to be said about the journey.  I have had a rough journey.  I have struggled to do the right things at all times.  I have floundered in my humanness, but praise the Lord He is the redeeming type.  And that's the thing.

God tells us that we, His children, are more precious than gold.  His love for us is immeasurable.  He knows our every weakness.  He knows our every sorrow.  He knows our every pain.  He knows.  It isn't that He is standing there laughing at us, no He is hurting too, but He is also waiting.  He is waiting for us to come to Him for healing, for help.  No person on Earth will ever fill every need we have.  Quite simply, it is not humanly possible.  What makes it even more real however, is when all those glittery people come into our lives and we find ourselves chasing them instead of focusing on the refinement that God is putting us through.

That isn't to say those people aren't a treasure too, but sometimes, the glitter is used to mask the wrong.  And, YOU, my dear, are worth the wait. 

Love, M

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Joy of Thanksgiving

I know that Thanksgiving was a few days ago and, true to form, I am late on this post.  I have been a bit quiet lately, but that will be remedied soon enough.  If you were to ask 10 random people what their favorite holiday was most likely half of them would say Thanksgiving.  It's true.  One of the most overlooked of all holidays is the one most people hold near and dear.  It is my absolute favorite holiday.  Now, don't get me wrong I love Easter and Christmas for altogether other reasons, but Thanksgiving is that one day a year when family gets together and there is no pretense, just the joy of being together.  This was my first Thanksgiving without the ex-Mr.  I want to tell you that I spent it in a funk and couldn't move and was debilitated by the grief, but the truth of it is, I wasn't.  No, in fact, I have to tell you it was the best Thanksgiving we have ever had.  The reason?  We all got to be who we are.  You know how when someone doesn't approve of your family or members of your family or the way your family does things and that can make you not enjoy all of the reasons for the day?  Oh, of course not.  What was I thinking?  You have never experienced that before.  Pfft, neither have I!  LOL! 

Anyway this year it was my parents, my uncle and aunt, and my brother and nephew, my sister, and my girls and me.  Yes, just the 11 of us.  Well, until my dear friend popped over for dessert before heading out to brave the Thanksgiving Day Walmart crowds!  This year we were the cooky, functionally dysfunctional, full of laughter and love, family that we are.  We were us.  As we are.  And I think I fell in love with each one of my family members a little bit more. Yes, even my little sister!  HA!

This  year, I took up the 30 Days of Thankfulness thing on Facebook.  I have tried it in the past but always petered out before I made it through the whole month.  This year, I found that I could have continued well into December.  But, I think my friends may have gotten just a bit sick of it after another couple days ;) I was planning to copy and paste all of my days of thankfulness, but Facebook seems to have misplaced a couple of days or else I don't understand the randomness of the historical newsfeed.  Either way, I won't be including them here.  It's easy to be thankful for the big things, you know - family, friends, health, job, church, relationship with Jesus, but it is the small things that really make the days take on a  whole new meaning.  When you have to really look at each moment of the day and find the blessings in it, well you find you have more than you thought.

November was a month of many things.  It was a month of growth.  It was the first full month after my year of change.  But, I was able to see more into it than the grief and loss that the whole past year held.  True,I may not have everything that I want and my life may not be what I thought it would be, and I may not yet be the woman God created me to be, but I know that I have much and am thankful for it.  I know that God never promises us tomorrow, but He does promise to be there and I'm thankful for that.  Above all, though I am still a work in progress, I know that I am definitely not who I once was.  For this I find great joy and an exponential amount of reason to be thankful.

One last thought and only because it had such a profound impact on me is a little something that my dear friend shared with me, "what if we were to wake up tomorrow with only those things we were thankful for today?" Kind of makes you want to stop and think.  Perspective has such a way of putting everything into view. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Long Run

A while back I wrote to you about how I love to run.  I do.  I love to run.  It is one of the things that defines me.  In that post I was open about how I only run shorter distances, about how I seem to lose the energy when it comes to the long run.  That was then, this is now.  In the months since then, yes months, I have grown to enjoy the long run. 

There is something altogether amazing about the long run, allow me to explain.  I am not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination, but I am not really that slow either. I am kind of right there, in the middle.  Of course this doesn't mean that I'm not out there trying to improve with each step that I take.  I have ran many distances.  Short, quick, one mile out and back taking up roughly 15 minutes of my time all the way to just shy of an 18 mile loop, which I did at an average of 9:24min/mile pace a month or so ago.  (My next goal is a 20 miler) It is said that a mile is a mile no matter how fast you run it.  Truth.  There is no negating this.

I used to be content with stacking up 3-4 miles a day 4-5 days a week.  I would have a sense of accomplishment. In fact, if I could get my 5k time a little faster each time out I would mentally reward myself for a run well done.  Then on those off days, yes, we runners have off days, I would get so angry with myself that the next day I would just run farther.  I got stuck in this rut for a few months until a friend of mine asked me to run a half-marathon with her.  A half marathon!  Game on!  What runner doesn't love a new challenge?  That is when I learned a few things.  You don't run 13.1 miles the same way you run 3.1.  Nope, it is true.  Unless you are a Kenyan.  Then you just go and win. Ha!

So in this training I kept at my comfort level, distance wise, for a while and every so often I would eek up to 5-6 miles at a time.  But I was exhausting myself early.  My problem?  I was running twice the distance with the mentality of running half  of it.  I'd get angry when I couldn't get a particular end result.  Then I read in my running magazine, yes I subscribe to 1 or 2, oh, alright 3 different ones...sheesh...that distance isn't about speed it is about maintaining the pace.  Well, come on.  Pfeph...I knew that!  I mean, didn't YOU know that?  Everyone knows that.  OK...so I didn't know that.  Well, not exactly really. 

Then I went for my first really long run (up to that point).  10 miles.  My friend A had a goal of 11:00min/mile.  Me, being a short distance runner wanted to belt out straight away at my > 8:00min/mile pace.  Uh Uh!  See she has ran a full.  (Brave girl + good runner = rock star in my book).  She maintained we go S...L...O...W.  In the end, we compromised...I slowed down and she sped up.  And on that day, was born a distance runner.  I fell in love with the long run. 

Since then I feel almost cheated when I can't get in more than 5-6 miles on the short days.  My real love is the 10-14 mile range.  I will be running a full next year with my aunt to celebrate her birthday.  Yes, that is 26.6 miles of yummy goodness.  Yeah, I know, sweat is neither yummy nor good, but hey, it's my story :) I've shaved almost :45 off/mile for the average time at my current half pace. I'm much pleased with this, but am working towards a more aggressive goal.  However, it is getting colder out and the days are getting shorter and my longer runs are getting pushed to the weekends.  Thankfully I still have the treadmill at the rec center just down the way from my work, where I can pop in and run a quick 5k at my lunch time.  (I'm desperately hoping my parents get me a treadmill for Christmas - they'd be super cool in my book if they did...hint, hint mom!)

It is in the long run where I have time to zone out.  I can lose myself for miles.  I do not listen to music.  I enjoy the feel of the road under my Mizunos. I enjoy the rush of the air through my hair.  I find peace with my mind and wholeness with myself.  It is during the long run that I am no longer filling the multitude of roles that I hold during my day/week.  I am a woman out there taking one well practiced and perfectly choreographed step after another towards a destination that is often planned by the feel of my legs.  I let my shoes lead me while my Garmin Forerunner tracks it.  I am free.  I am in a place that only I define myself.  I am there for myself.  I am competing against myself.  I am learning about myself.  I am finding out just who I really am.  All in a place where I am simply a runner.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Time it Takes

There are days when it is really hard to see things in the right perspective.  Days that turn into weeks and well, those into months.  In fact this whole past week has been an extremely rough week for me.  Now, I won't deny the moments in it that were great.  I had a few, all of which involved my Littles and doing things with them and for them.  But the times that were the hardest were the ones where I was left to my thoughts.  It is amazing the pull our thoughts have on our lives.  The way we think can lead us to a place that is so lonely and sad that even medication can't pull us out.  Well, personally speaking of course.

This deep rooted depression has taken its toll on me.  I've gotten myself to the point where I don't sleep and I cry almost non-stop.  My heart is broken.  Completely.  Wholly.  I'm lost in the despair of my loneliness.  It is truly without a doubt the most crippling emotion.  I do not enjoy this by any means, but it isn't something that I can "snap out of" either.

Several people believe I deserve this and actually laugh about it at my expense.  I am sorry that they feel the need to believe that.  Then there are others that don't understand why I am still consumed by this feeling, they believe that I should be over it already.  Here's the thing.  Until you have experienced something of this magnitude you cannot relate to the hurt and pain that it causes; this consuming emptiness that is created by the sheer rejection of your spouse.  Time can, and I am quite certain does, heal all wounds, but can one put an actual amount on that time? No.  We are not the manufacturers of time, but merely the recipients of it.

During these past few days I have exhausted not only myself but the time offered to me by some very dear friends.  Bless them for their willingness to just listen to my brokenness and my doubt of ever finding a true love or even simply getting over this broken heart.  I have spoken with friends that even after years are still in this boat, some that have never climbed aboard, and another that has just set sail, if you will. Many people across the globe have been where I am.  Many have felt the despair and many have dealt with it in their own ways.

Me, I'm still dealing with it.  I'm still struggling with time.  I feel like I am racing a clock, because frankly I'm not getting any younger. However, today as I was talking with a friend, the one who just set sail, I was reminded of a few things I have learned along this journey.  I have learned that you cannot hide the pain in other things.  I chose to hide it with drinking.  This lead me to making unwise choices.  I have also learned that you cannot hide it with wrong relationships.  No amount of want to can hide pain.  If you are not healed then you will always have that with you and carry it with you.  I have learned that the Creator of Time is the only one who can be all things and heal all hurts.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I am still struggling.  I have not conquered this thing.  Truly I doubt I will ever be able too, but I know that He can.  I just have to give it all to Him.  All of it.  All of the time.  Until I am able to rest completely in His hands and His timing I will fight this ongoing battle.  These are the truths that I know.  Yet the knowing and the doing are still, sadly, miles apart.  Oh, I don't want the continued struggle, the continued pain.  No I do not relish any of this not one bit, but there is a level of vulnerability to letting it all go.  I mean, to do so means that I have to be confident enough in the time scale He chooses to use.

And that is just it.  The time it takes for this process to complete itself is no more in my control than it is His.   You see, the longer I hold on to it the less He can work it out.  And the less I hold on to it the less I know how He is working it out.  I do not know all the inner workings of  a clock, all it cogs and wheels, but I know they are there.  Perhaps what I need is to apply that same reasoning to my future someone.  I don't know what he looks like, what his name is, where he is from, etc, but I know he is out there.  I know because God knows the desires of my heart and He is just waiting on me to succumb to His perfect timing.

Maybe it is a bit apropos seeing as how today we changed our clocks.  Then again, I've never been good with time.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Everyday Faith

Last Sunday I wrote to you about the lesson we are learning in Sunday School.  Well, today we continued where we left off discussing labels and how they can either define us or build us up.  I've thought a lot about this lesson over the course of this week.  I've thought about the negative labels people have applied to me in the past several months and those that I have applied to myself.  I've been labeled by others as wayward, wild, and unkind.  I've labeled myself as unworthy, unwanted, and undesired.

It is taking me time to let go of the me inside of me.  This person who likes to have all the control, this person that likes to help God on His quest of making me into the person He designed me to be.  A question was posed of us this morning to the effect of; what have we sacrificed in our lives to remove the labels that we have applied to ourselves.  You see, I cannot remove those that others gave me.  They, after all, are their opinion.  They belong to them.  They are the weight that they have to carry, because they are the weight they applied to the thought of me.  But, my labels, the ones I have given myself, they are the weight that I have to carry.

First, I know that that I am not unworthy.  I know this.  None of us are.  God does not create any of us for nothing.  He wanted each and every one of us to be here.  We are all worthy in His eyes.  Realizing this of ourselves is our burden to carry. (There is a lot more to this, but for simplicity sake I'll stop here.)  I do know that I am worthy.  However, it is the subject of the worth that still has me  in a tail spin.  Love.  All of my woes are centered around that one thing.  My desire to have someone to love. I do know that I am worthy of this.  To this, every day, I have faith it will come.

Second, and this is the one thing that I struggle with the most, and that is with being unwanted.  To the question posed this morning this was the one label that I have given over, sacrificed if you will.  Some would say that I have given up, that I have thrown in the towel.  Perhaps, to some degree, that is exactly what I have done.  It isn't that I have resigned the balance of my natural born days to spinsterhood, but I have sacrificed my label of unwanted to God.  I know, with all that is in me, that my God knows the deepest desires of my heart and that He knows more than I do the perfect person for me.  I also know, that in those moments when the loneliness sets in and the intense feelings that come from being all alone overwhelm me, that I shouldn't think that it is because I am unwanted, but  remember that God wants what is best for me.  He wants me to know that He, as my Lord and Savior, only wants the absolute best - for me.  And that sometimes that simply takes time. He does this for all of us.  It isn't that I won't ever have these moments, these days of over abundant sadness, but with God, my one true love, I am not unwanted.  He wanted me so much that He created me. And when that perfect person comes along it isn't going to be him that fills my every waking moment, but the presence of God in my life.  You know, I can imagine a number of you sitting there at your laptops, scrolling on your smart phones, rolling your eyes at me thinking that I am some sort of loon.  I'm not.  I'm simply a girl who is giving the one thing she wants most over to the one person who can make it happen.  I'm simply resting in my everyday faith. 

Last it is the label of undesired.  Now, I know the absurdity of this label as well as its double meaning.  I am not going to sit here and go on in vain conceit, but I know that there are some out there that see merely what is on the outside.  They do not care for the person within as long as the view is nice.  Sadly, this is not the type of desire I am speaking of.  I do not want to be seen as only something pretty to look at.  I look like God made me to look like.  I'm thankful for that.  In this way I am not undesired.  (Yes, you can roll your eyes.)  It is the me, the person that I really am that made me apply this label.  You see, I'm a girl that believes in God, and church, and fellowship, and family, and good, clean fun.  I am a girl that likes the outdoors, running, reading, and listening to country music.  I am the girl that would rather leave the house a mess to go and play.  I am the girl that well, believes in forever, and honor, and loyalty, and commitment.  I am a girl who believes in truth and trusts that it is spoken to her as such. (Yes, a bit na├»ve.) Because of these things, to which I try not to hide, I am undesired.  Yet, today, in class, I realized this label is bunk.  It isn't true.  I am not undesired, God is just simply protecting me from the wrong person.  See what the power of perspective can do, and perhaps maybe just a touch of everyday faith.

I encourage you to look past your negative labels.  Those ones you've given yourself and those that others have given you.  Perhaps you have overcome some things and others fail to accept that you can change, that you are not the label they have given you.  You cannot change them, but do not live continually in the pain of that label.  God can heal any person.  It only takes true repentance and belief that He can, will, and did.  Do not succumb to the negativity you've applied to yourself.  I'm not saying that if you call yourself dumb you should go apply for a position as a turbo-thrust engineer at NASA, especially if you have no working knowledge of astro-physics and smart people stuff involved with that, but truly there are things that you know far more about than you are giving yourself credit for.  (Poor example for sure, but I think you understand what I am trying to say.)  Just know that God does not make mistakes and all He truly wants is for you to see yourself as He sees you.  He wants you to be the person He made you to be.  Of course, the trick to knowing that - is knowing Him.

But that is an easy thing to do. Follow these steps: Talk to Him.  Read His word. Ask Him into your heart. And have a bit of everyday faith.

Love, M



Sunday, October 20, 2013

365 Days

A year.  It is quite remarkable the difference a year can make.  I would be lying if I said I didn't cry today, that I put my big girl panties on, a fresh smile, and made it out the door to face the world.  But I did.  I cried.  Actually I sobbed.  I bawled.  I wept out loud.  At church.  At home.  All day.  We made it to church and I had the pleasure of  wonderful conversations with some dear friends.  Then at that end of the service I had a few more that came up to me at the altar and prayed with me and for me.  One held back my hair and rubbed my neck, another had her arm wrapped around me, another was holding my arm, and so many, they cried with me.  They cried, aloud, with me. And they prayed because they know. They know that even though it has been a year ago today since the ex-Mr. made the choice to walk away, my heart is still hurting.  They know that I am still in a lot of pain.  Truthfully, it has a lot less these days to do with missing him simply because time can truly make people grow apart the same way it can make people grow together.  The pain has more, actually everything, to do with knowing I was disposable, not wanted, and not loved enough to be kept.  Yet -

Today was also a day of spiritual blessing.  First, our Sunday School lesson was about Labels, the first of several in a series based on the book, Altar Ego by Craig Groeschel.  There are those labels others apply/give to us and those we apply/give to ourselves.  Those labels we chose to accept and live with and allow to define us and those labels that we know are not who we are and are able to get over. In the video, that went with the lesson, he shared that a lot of characters in the Bible were given a new name as they became the person God designed them to be.  These were people who were nothing, their name meant something bad, or had done terrible things and then God got ahold of them and changed them.  He made them new!  God does this!  He can make us new! Abram and Sarai became Abraham and Sarah, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, and so on.  The point of it is that we are more than just the name "label" placed on us.  We are who God has created us to be, if we are open to receiving that new name. There are so many beautiful stories in the Bible of what God can and does do.  I'm excited for this Bible study to learn how to find/become this person God created me to be.

Then in today's message Pastor continued with his series, How Big Is God?  "Big Enough To Guide You" (Ephesians 5:17)  Pastor had two main points.  The first was God's Provision and the second was Our Part.  In God's provision we are reminded that God is in this!  Yes, He is!  He wants us to know His will for our lives.  This is much more than us coming to receive Him.  Truth, He does want that none of us should parish, but this goes deeper than that.  He wants us to actually DO His will for our lives, to BECOME the person He created us to be. The only way to do this of course is to release total control over to God, stay in His word regularly, and pray about it.  Truth of it is, if God is going to ask you to do something He will place the desire in your heart.  He can also use other people to show you His will.  And sometimes, just maybe, He will use your circumstances to reveal His will for your life.  Honestly, God will never pressure you against a door that doesn't open, but not all open doors are God's will.  And, here is the one that really spoke to me - just because it is rough, doesn't mean it is out of the will of God.  Then there is our part.  We need to surrender ourselves to Him.  He won't reveal His will to the uncommitted.  We must be obedient.  We can't merely go through the motions of learning, we have to be willing to do the doing! And finally, the hardest one, we must trust.  God isn't necessarily going to show you the whole picture, but He will let you see what you need for today. 

Finally, today, I finished a book that my dear friend Anna recommended to me several months ago.  Truth is I wish I would have finished it straight away.  Not that I can say it would have changed any of the choices I made or the events of this past summer, but I would have been armed with a bit more knowledge.  However, it isn't the way of things and the point that matters now is that I did finish it.  Honestly, I don't think it was coincidence at all that today, of all days, was the day to complete this book.  The book is called - What a Man Wants, What a Woman Needs by Eddie Long.  The crux of the book is what makes a good relationship, a strong relationship, a godly relationship.  Oh, don't misunderstand, this book is SO much more than that.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone, married or not.  But, be prepared!  This book is in your face.  It is real.  It is deep.  It will call you on the carpet.  Yet, the whole time it is doing that, it is reminding you that you are more than the label you've been given and that God has a purpose for you.  I could go on and on about this book.  But, the most precious take away that I have is that even though in life we fail, and yes, we all fail, we are human after all, God says failure isn't final.  That above all else He is faithful and just and He will never leave us or forsake us. Go ahead, buy it.  You can get it super cheap on Amazon. I'd lend you my copy but I'm sort of hard on books; I underline, mark, star, and journal in the margins.  This one was NO exception!

I had plans of writing to you today with a post about my feelings.  A post about the pain and heartache and loneliness that I am still struggling with.  I had plans to sit here and pour out all of that again.  In all honesty I think I would have been justified, seeing as how today is exactly 365 days later, but when I started typing my thoughts just wouldn't go there.  I know that I still have much healing to go through, that God still has work to do with me and in me, but I love that three times today, THREE times, He showed me and reminded me that I am worth so much more than the sum of my circumstances.  That He has created me for more than what I've gone through and that He does have a purpose for my life.  And maybe, just maybe, while He is sorting all that out in me, I can share it all with you and if just one of you who read this finds that same beautiful gift, then I'd say God has done exceedingly more than I could have ever thought with the words of my life.

Here is to the next 365 days, what they will hold and become.  Those lessons I will learn and the person I will continue to become.




Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Woman I Am

These past couple of weeks I've been a mixture of emotions.  Some days I feel like I can conquer the world and others I feel like the world has conquered me.  I try not to focus on the calendar, but because the hours will it to happen the days keep turning one into another anyway.  Its the way of things I guess.  Time doing that thing it does.  Only those who have passed on are truly free of its inevitableness.  A year ago my days had their own issues, but I was sitting here without a doubt, behind this laptop, keying in some snarky bit of wisdom or more likely a string of random sarcasm as a woman who thought she knew who she was.  Never would I have thought that the days after would begin the journey that I am still on.  Those days which felt like years each turned into days that flew by. 

In some ways I've grown stronger.  I'm doing those things that I never thought I would be able to do.  I am supporting my girls all by myself.  I am doing it.  The mommying isn't the hard part, but the parenting is.  Some will understand that distinction, others will not.  I've come to terms with the things that I am and the things that I am not.  I am not superwoman.  I am not that woman who will have an immaculate home, and truly I am ok with that.  My house does not define me nor does the clutter within.  Many equate an untidy home to be a reflection of what is in a person.  Me, I know it is more that I work 50+ hours a week and have 3 children.  There are some things that are simply not that important; being able to eat off every surface and passing a white glove test is certainly one of them.  But what I have is a house we are happy to come home to.  I am also not a five star chef, but my babies are well fed.  Nor am I a dry cleaner and though our clothes come with wrinkles (not the kind you pay for at those fancy stores) they are clean.

Actually, I am just an average woman, and I'm ok with that.  It isn't that I want an award for this average-ness or as some would call it mediocrity, I just know that I'm good with being the woman I am and in that regard have no shame.  Truth of it is, I'm getting the hang of this, this finding the me that God created me to be.  It's taken a couple rough roads and poor choices and hard learnt lessons, but I've come to the place where He is defining me.  That place where I am LETTING Him define me.  In that place I am coming to grips with knowing I don't have to be what other people expect me to be, or who I think they think I should be.  I may not be the most popular, have the best of everything, or have the most amazing stories to share, but what I have is sincerity and openness.  This I know about myself.   I'm also learning that those people who know me, really know who I am, know that.  They see past what the outside portrays and see the inner person, they see past the harsh words others say in order to really know the woman I am.

Several weeks ago the adult Sunday school class that I am in started a series called Soul Detox.  The first lesson was about toxic words, those we say to ourselves and those others say to us or about us.  The point of it was that our words can either lift up or destroy.  Our self talk can do the same. (“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.”  Ephesians 4:29a) In that lesson our teacher came up with the idea that we should all share a word about each person in the class that describes who they are, something that reminds you of them.  You know, I will tell you this was the easiest thing for me to do.  I loved putting my thoughts about my friends down on paper.  They truly are amazing people, but I was scared to see what they thought of me.  I was worried that I wouldn't have anything.  Then, a week ago, the email came in with those words.  Those words that describe the woman I am, as they see me.  And you know what, I'm blessed by their truth and the love they have to see me as someone more than the sins I had committed.

These are their words: Mandy R. - honest, willing to share, big heart, humorous, honest, thoughtful, great writer, loves her kids, strong, reflective, passionate

 


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Test

One thing I do not miss about school are the tests.  Oh my goodness did I hate taking tests.  In fact, I was always that student who would ask to write a 10 page paper in place of taking a test.  Yes, there really are people like me!  Ha!  I've been out of school now for a few months.  In fact, when I was finishing up people would ask me what I was going to do with all my free time and I'd just look at them like, "are you crazy?  I'm a single mom of three, there is no such thing as free time."  Yeah, I still think that way, but I do have my 'every other weekend'!  I digress.  The truth of it is, even with two degrees and no immediate desire to go back for a third, I have not stopped taking tests. In all honesty, none of us really do.  Life in and of itself is a test.

My devotional today was so applicable.  It truly hit home with this fact.  We've all been in that place where ick has happened.  Where we have been dealt a bad hand, we've been given a raw deal.  Some of us have had to work through the loss of a job, loss of a loved one, a debilitating illness, or in my case a divorce.  In those situations, if you are anything like me you have wondered, "why me?"  Why do I have to go through this?  What did I do wrong?  Why, God?  WHY?  Actually, I think if we are absolutely true with ourselves then we can say, in all honesty, these cases bring out our inner two year and we stand there, at the feet of Jesus, jumping up and down, wailing at the top of our lungs, booger-snotting everywhere, and screaming why, why, why?! And you know what?  Nothing happens!

No its true.  Nothing happens.  And then we are left with that look on our face of "what the???!!!"  Yes!  You totally know what I am talking about, don't you?  That's just the thing - God does not owe us an explanation.  No, you heard me right.  He does NOT OWE us ANYTHING!  Kind of irks you doesn't it?  I know it does me.  In fact, when I read that today I almost wanted to start yelling at Him again.  Seriously, like just WHO does He think He is?  Then its like, duh...and then, yeah.  He is!  Do you want to know why He doesn't tell us why?  It's because He's testing us.  Like life isn't hard enough, now we have to take tests that we never signed up for.  The subject of the test?  It is the same regardless of what caused it.  The subject - to see just how big our faith is.

RIGHT???!!!!  I know.  Me too!  But, then if I am being honest with myself, and this is just me, I'm sure you're not like this at all, I realize that perhaps maybe my faith isn't strong or big enough at all.  Nope.  It is strong when life is going well and things look good and I have rainbows and unicorns, but that moment when the rain clouds enter in and the hard times come, that is when my faith isn't there.  I mean, He even said I only have to have enough faith, about the size of a mustard seed actually. (Have you ever seen one of those?  They're kind of inky-dinky!)  But I don't.  I don't have faith even that big.  I see nothing BUT the mountain that is my problem.  Then there is the BIGGER lesson.  As if I needed more to learn.  Ugh!

He's quiet.  Yep.  During the test He clams up.  Not a peep.  There is no raising your hand to ask for the answer.  There is no walking up to His desk and getting clarification.  There is just silence.  Pin-dropping silence.  All for our good. No, really.  It is.  Or so my devotional said.  The reason for this?  To see if we are going to continue to persevere, to continue to rest in Him (a.k.a read the Bible and pray) or try to go it alone (cheat ourselves out of the best grade).

You see, I did that.  This test that I'm taking right now.  The one where the lesson keeps dragging out.  This test has a lot of questions.  Actually, this is more of an essay test.  (Yeah for me!  NOT) These past months, the ones where I've had to go it alone have been hard.  But, it was the ones where I wasn't alone that I think were actually harder.  They were the months when the test was the most brutal because instead of seeking Him, I tried to do it my way.  I won't negate the lessons I learned, but I am sad about cheating myself out of the rewards of the test.  But, that is the thing with life, God gives us second chances.  He gives us more tests.  More opportunities to pass.  Now, we may not end up with the same reward, but we always get the best. 

I guess the thing I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't give up.  He is still there.  He still loves you.  He is still waiting for you to rest in Him.  He still wants you to pass.  Oh, we may not like it.  Actually, we may not like the reward at the end of the test either, but I think that the lesson, the one where He's seeing exactly how big our faith is, is the better reward.  I won't lie though.  I'm not there yet.  I keep wanting to take this my way, but I muck it up each time.  EACH TIME!  So, I think I will go it His way for  a bit.  And if that bit turns into a while, then it turns into a while.  I'm hoping it doesn't turn into you know, the rest of my life, but if so, I will accept it.  Because honestly, the reward at the end has to be better than the immediate gain.  IT.JUST.HAS.TO.BE!

When going through the pain (test) we don't need God's explanation, we need His presence!







Thursday, October 3, 2013

Revived

Well lovelies it is October.  This month has finally arrived.  I haven't been on here in a while, but I have checked in to read your comments.  Last month was a month of a lot of firsts for me.  I started off telling you about it and sharing a lot of the things I learned.  I had a milestone last month.  I ran my first half marathon.  My goal was to come in under 2 hours.  I finished at 2:03:25.  I started too slow (10 min/mile pace), didn't pick my splits up soon enough, and had WAY too much energy left at the finish.  But, I will take this as a win and another learning experience.  There is so much to learn about running, but I think it is what you learn about yourself when you run that really makes the difference.  I am learning that I really do have what it takes for the long haul.

But is was how that month ended and this one began that I really need to share with you.  First, I must say that today, today is seven weeks that I have been without a man in my life.  And I am actually doing pretty darn good! Much better than I thought I would be, but then again, sometimes, perspective has a way of showing you things you don't want to see.  Like, I really do have what it takes to be on my own. 

We had fall revival at our church these past few days.  Sunday through yesterday to be precise.  That was the first time I never missed a revival service.  It helped that the evangelist was absolutely amazing and his message beyond exactly what I needed to hear.  As with all things, we learn most when we are open to what is said.  Honestly, I learned a lot each day, but it was Tuesday night and last night that had my heart racing and my tears flowing.  See, I know a few things to be wholly true.  This applies to us all.  I know that God does not make mistakes.  That means that each of us, even me, are not mistakes.  We were all designed by Him to be here.  I also know that He never changes. He is always the same and has been since the beginning of time.  And because of this it is us who goes through change.  Good, bad, back and forth...change.  Change brings learning.

To share briefly, on Monday, the message was that we are to stop seeing ourselves as the world sees us.  We are also to stop seeing ourselves in the way we see us.  We are to see our selves in the way God sees us.  Only when we do that can we accept the truth about who we truly are and live our lives according to that.  You see, insecurity comes from seeing ourselves through others' eyes.  That insecurity leads us to becoming someone we aren't, all to gain something from the other person/people.  But the truth of it is, God wants us to be who he made us to be.  BIG WORDS RIGHT THERE PEOPLE!  BIG WORDS!  Who am I?  I'm learning this right now. 

Tuesday the message was on sin.  What sin does to us.  What sin did to those in the Bible.  I'm going to be honest here, because those that know me, truly know me, know that I am a very transparent person.  I don't hide much.  I tell it all.  I sin.  Gasp!  It's true.  But the bigger point was what sin keeps us from. We are not tempted into sin by God.  He is the antithesis of Sin, but He took our sins on Himself so that we may have freedom in Him.  People, you know what this means?  It means, that because I asked, I am forgiven! (Now, we can't keep doing that same thing - just need to throw that out there.  You know, in case fingers wanted to begin pointing and all.) I know there are those who may read this that will never forgive me.  For that, I am sorry, but I know God has.  I honeslty believe this.  I am not the person my sins made me to be.  Here's the thing, the devil knows our weaknesses.  He knows those things that we desire most, just like God does.  But his ploy is to get us to do what we know we shouldn't.  He weakens us and weakens us.  Sometimes he uses small means, others big.  But sin is sin any way it is sliced.  We each have to chose to enter into it.  And those small steps sometimes add up to that last big one.  But it is still sin all the same.  And just because mine is different than yours does not make me a worse person.  But, I'm ok with what you think.  You're entitled to that. Because I know what my Jesus thinks and that is what matters most to me.  We all get second chances, people.  We all do, especially when we let Him work through us.

Last night the message was just as amazing.  I know that God has a dream for me.  I know that He has plans for my life.  I don't know what they are just yet and truth, I'm ok with that.  Well, to a point.  I really do have issues with patience!  I just know that He does know the desires of my heart.  He knows what I want more than anything.  And the ironic thing about that, in the past couple of days I have had a couple different friends tell me in almost the EXACT same words at completely different times and in different circumstances, the same thing.  I can't tell you what it is just yet, it's still being worked out in me, but I know that God sometimes tells us things through other Christians.  And I have the biggest smile on my face because of that.  The main message wasn't on that, but it is what I remember the most.  And the prayer time.  Again, buckets full of tears.  But God has big shoulders and an endless supply of kleenex so all is good.  He just wanted my honesty and heartfelt prayer.  He got both.  And I got the peace of knowing He will never leave me.  Yeah, He's pretty cool like that.

In all, as this month, the one I've been dreading, has started I came into it with some hope and some lessons learned.  Truthfully I came into it revived.  I know there will be struggles as this month tarries on.  Afterall, I will reach another milestone this month.  But, I'll get there when the time is right.  My heart is too happy to talk about it now.  For now, I leave you with this:  Nothing you have done is too big for God to forgive.  He has made you because He loves you.  All you have to do is ask.  It really is your choice.

By the way, the evangelist, who just happens to be wicked awesome is Jeremiah Bolich.  You can click here to check out his ministry.  Actually, he has several sites; I recommend you check them all out through Google.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scraps of Our Memories

My middle little, the one who is extremely sassy, drama-prone, loud to the nth degree, impressionable, and full of genuine love wanted to go through scrapbooks tonight.  This should have sent alarm bells off in my head the minute I walked back in from my walk/run tonight.  (Yes, I tried to run even with my injury, yes, yes, yes!) I tried every tactic I could think of to deter this.  I made up one condition after another.  It wasn't so much that I didn't want to spend the time with her; I just didn't want to go through those blasted books.  Those books that I poured untold hours, obscene amounts of money, and unmeasurable amounts of love into creating.  I USED to scrapbook.  USED to. You know, back when preserving family memories meant something because forever wasn't supposed to end.

We started off somewhere in the middle of her toddler years.  I was never good at chronological order.  I made that a goal with the littlest little, but I'm like at 8 months.  Yeah, she's 5 1/2.  But, who's counting.  Ha!  There she was with her sweet chubby cheeks, her gorgeous brown eyes that lit up her entire face when she smiled, her insanely crazy sense of fashion, and her general love for life peeping out through the pictures on those pages.  Then, then...we got to the family photos.  The photos that were her and her sister and daddy.  The photos when it was just the four of us, then the five of us.  The ones where we all played and vacationed and familied together.  We weren't perfect, but we were, well, us.

After the books were put away and all three of my beautiful littles were tucked into their beds, the tears came like hot lava flowing down my cheeks.  Buckets full of tears.  And as I sat in my chair, I noticed the screen saver on my laptop had begun its trek down memory lane too.  Picture after picture popping up on my screen of days spent at the beach, at Lego Land, at the park, etc.  The pictures of us, together, as a family.  The ones that had no future past October of last year because for the most part, that is where it ended.  And the tears, they keep flowing.  Now,  yes now, all these months later still.  I can't shut them off.  WHY?

I hurt for my littles.  They don't have a traditional family any more.  And its my fault.  I wasn't good enough.  I wasn't thin enough.  Pretty enough.  Young enough.  Smart enough.  Anything and everything enough to keep him here.  To keep his attentions here.  I simply failed them.  But, someday, I can't say when just yet, I hope to build new scrapbook pages.  New books filled with the things the four of us, me and my littles, have done together.  Because we have.  We've done a lot.  We've kept busy. 

Yet, for now, I will hold off on that because that is just one more thing that has had to change in all of this change.  But, at least we have those books filled with the scraps of our memories.




Closed Doors

We've all heard some variation of the saying, "when one door closes another one opens."  I really hate that saying for many reasons.  I think the biggest reason is that a closing door is often looked at as the goodbye, the end.  The door can be gently closed, slammed shut, pushed in firmly, what have you.  However you look it, it is a severing of something - ties, time, plans, memories, relationships, etc.  But what if we look at it from the other side?  Not as the person on the outside, the one who no longer has access to what ever the thing may be.  What if we look at it from the inside?  Then that closed door could became a symbol of hope, comfort, and happiness. 

I've had a lot of doors closed on me in the past 11 months.  Doors I never thought would.  I have also tried to open doors; doors that just wouldn't budge. As these doors closed, none by choice, until yesterday, but I will get to that later, I crumbled a little bit more.  Each time a bit of me fell away.  Each time I questioned more and more about me, about who I am, about what I am, about what I have to offer.  This all to a point where I questioned my very existence.  Surely I was not put on this Earth to merely become the expert of the closed door.  Then, today, while I was telling a friend about another closed door I got to thinking not only about that one, but also the one from yesterday.

Yesterday, the door, one that had been closed on me, cracked open a small bit.  You know what I did?  I put up a boundary.  Then stated the facts, shared my feelings and CLOSED THAT DOOR!  Yes, I cried.  Yes, it hurt, but today, today I'm not mad at myself.  I'm happy that I did the right thing.  Then today, today where some plans didn't go as anticipated, I gave myself the 15 or so minutes to process it and then, smiled at that closed door.  It too had been one that closed months ago, but kept creeping open from time to time.

Here's the thing.  I will probably always cringe at closed doors, most especially as they swing shut, but I think after some time, like now, I may see that from the inside the closed door isn't such a scary thing.  I may not have the view I had before, but that doesn't mean I won't have a view.  I wonder really if, now, I'm seeing what I was meant to see all along - accepting the defeat, accepting the loss, accepting that my life may just possess more closed doors than open ones -  the hope comfort, and peace I'm meant to have.

Plus, I'm pretty sure the right doors never close.  Until then, I've got some work to do!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It

She wore a baggy hoodie as she shuffled down the sidewalk.  Her face down cast while wisps of light brown hair slipped out from under her hood.  She's trying to run away, like every day before; run until there is no sidewalk left, but it doesn't, it doesn't end.  She can't run away from what's truly following her.  It is relentless.  It is fearless.  It is consuming.

It has chased her for years.  Some years she has felt safe, she has felt it wasn't there and that she had finally outrun it, but she was wrong.  Dead wrong.  Because it was laying dormant.  That's what it does to make one think they have beaten it.  But it is merely waiting for one to let their guard down, and she did.  Now she is struggling to find a safe haven, a place where it can't reach her again.

She'd tasted its sweetly intoxicating vileness before.  She tried to be strong, show others she was big enough to beat it, prove to herself that she didn't need anyone but herself and her own strength. It knew she would think that, because that is what some do when they let their guard down.  It knew her weakness.  It knew she thought she could do it.  That is why she is running from it now.  It got to her again and she didn't even see it until it was too late.

But she can't run away.  Her legs aren't fast enough, her heart isn't strong enough.  The distance, it is too far.  It can not be outrun.  So it surrounds her and taunts her.  It reminds her of what it has done, no, what she has done because she let it.  She faces it head on, from all sides.  It won't let her go.  Her heart, it's beating fast, so very fast.  It has grabbed ahold of her again.  It has taken her and it is destroying her from the inside out.  Tearing at the very fiber of her being.

She longs to break free.  She longs to scream out, "go away!"  "I'm sorry!"  "I shouldn't have let my guard down."  "I'm not strong enough on my own.  I NEED help."  And she is now, she is screaming those words at the top of her lungs, on the inside.  It doesn't matter though, no one else is listening.  They have gone.  Each of them.  All of them.  Pointing and laughing and judging and ridiculing her from afar. And she is running harder and harder to get to where the sidewalk ends, yet the one she is on doesn't end.

So she stops.  She might as well.  It isn't going to stop chasing her.  She has to face it.  Truly look at it.  She has to acknowledge its power over her and her need for someone more powerful.  It has a nemesis.  It can be destroyed.  It isn't her that will do it.  She is too weak.  She can't fight off this beast.  This beast that has drawn her in time and again.  This beast that turns her into someone she is not.  It can only be defeated by the one who's power is made strong in her weakness. And she is there.  Now.  Late, yes.  Damage has been done, but this one, the one made strong in weakness, He rebuilds too.

He forgives.  He gives second chances.  He doesn't make the sidewalk end, but He doesn't let her travel it by herself either.  She slowly lowers the hood that has her head covered.  The breeze ruffles her hair.  She turns her face to the sun and allows it to dry the tears.  She can see it now.  It isn't as big as she thought because He is bigger.  So much bigger.  Why hadn't she noticed that before?  Fear. Fear does that.  Fear keeps one from seeing the bigger picture. 

She's ready for rebuilding.  She's ready to accept the forgiveness.  She's ready to not let it consume her again.  She knows now, that daily, she will have to scream at the top of her lungs to Him for the strength to keep her from it.  She also knows that it won't stop the fight.  It will constantly sit there, in a dormant state or not, waiting for its chance again.  But, she knows what it looks like.  What it feels like.  What it will do.  She isn't going to let it back in.  She isn't going to do it alone any more.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time for the Little Things

They say that healing takes time, that getting over a major life event takes time.  But what manner of time are they talking about?  And who are these elusive "they"? We get time.  We know there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, so on and so forth.  But how do you truly account for the time it takes to "get over" something.  I need to be honest here.  I'm not over it.  I'm not, not completely - really.  I mean I was with him for the better part of 11 years.  Don't get me wrong.  I THOUGHT I was over it.  I THOUGHT my heart was healed.  Actually, I THOUGHT my mind was healed.  But I was more just hiding from it.  I think the true tell is the amount of time I still TALK about it. 

And I do.  A LOT.  Truth, I talk about a lot of things a lot!  Heartache being the biggest one.  I'm going to get back to more lighthearted subject matters.  I know I will.  I'll find my snarky whiticism and have you all in stitches again.  Its still in here, in my head, somewhere.  Right now though it's being blocked by the hurt on my heart.  Just today I started a conversation up with a friend at work and it went a little something like this, "my ex is getting a tattoo with his girlfriend."  She looked at me funny and then asked which ex!?  Giggle worthy for sure, a bit heartbreaking mostly.  See, while I want to be happy, and in the most regard I am, for the ex-Mr I'm just a wee bit saddened by this.

This was something that never would have been done with me.  Now, don't get me wrong I am NOT the kind of girl that digs his and her tats or matching tats or name tats or anything else like that, but I do appreciate nice ink.  I have 4 myself and one that needs to be completed.  All my pieces tell a story.  Each one means something to me.  Something near and dear.  Each one an expression of me.  But I can't seem to let this go.  This thing that he is doing with someone else.  He isn't mine anymore.  He chose to make that a reality.  I get it.  But I think the hard part is things like this.  These little things that don't really mean a whole lot to others, but were at some point uniquely special to me, to us.

It is that point that I want to focus on.  Some friends of mine are going through this battle right now.  They are facing the stark realities of what divorce really means.  It isn't unicorns and rainbows people.  It isn't skipping down the road into the sunset while hand-in-hand with another.  It most certainly is not the joy of making promises to another you cannot keep or even in hopefulness accepting ones that shouldn't have been given to you by another.  It is the reality that you are losing all those little things.  The little things that you didn't think were there while going through the process of ending it.  BUT, the little things are always there if you take the time to look for them.  And, DO!  DO look for them.

I challenge you, those in long-term relationships/marriages, those struggling to keep one, those thinking of ending one, etc, I challenge you to remember the little things.  Oh, don't deny them.  Don't sit there and say there are none, because there are.  I can think of many, right now.  Don't let hindsight be your keeper.  You still have the now.  It isn't over until it's over, and this person you promised your tomorrow's to, they hold so many of your little things. 

Like did they remember that you love bananas chopped up in your pancakes and make them that way just for you.  Did they remember that you love diet Pepsi from the fountain and bring one to you from time to time.  Did they take the kids with them for a trip into town so you could enjoy a few minutes of quiet time.  There are so many, many little things people.  Focus on those.  Smile about those.  Remember them together.  Tell them thank you.  Then, do something little for them.  Write them a little note and put it in their lunch box, send them a random text, make them their favorite dessert.  Just take time for the little things.  It does work.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Making Mistakes

I've done a lot of reading in the past week. I'm finally opening books I received for graduation and ones I bought for myself during bouts of clarity.  All I can say is, wow!  Holy geez people I wish I'd have cracked these puppies open straight away.  But, and here is the kicker, I wouldn't have been receptive to what they are saying.  Nope, not one lick.  That often happens when you turn off your listening ears and put on your own way of doing things.  I think what is most tragic is that over the course of several months I had heard what I knew to be truth, yet kept on keeping on.  We do that, don't we.  We tend to want what we think is best, most especially when it makes us happy and makes our heart smile.  I'm having a hard time now with negating the truth and fully accepting it.  But what I do know is this, I made a mistake.  Hear me out.

We all know I run.  I use my time while running to clear my head and open my mind and heart.  I use it to run from things and at the same time run to the answers.  I use it as the time when I have no distraction other than what is in my head and what I can physically accomplish.  Many times this past summer, on my runs, I sought guidance.  I actually talked to God about what I knew and what I wanted.  I talked to him about where I struggled and where I needed His help. His response - first and foremost, I needed to put the bottle down.  Yes!  I get myself into A LOT of trouble this way.  I can't blame the 'proof' on the choices I made, but I can say it helped me to make them.  (Which was the second thing.)  Alcohol tends to dull the senses and most definitely quiets the "still small voice." 

And that is what I did.  The more I quieted the still small voice the more I did what was against God's will.  The more I did what was against God's will the more I quieted the still small voice.  I literally drank the problems away.  I drank through the wrong which caused an internal hurt.  Then, I drank myself through the hurt.  I sought more and more for what I knew was wrong to fix what I knew was wrong.  I knew!  Bless it all, I KNEW!  And in that knowing I kept on keeping on to justify the knowing.  Now here I sit, in front of my keyboard, telling all of you.  Oh, I don't want  your sympathy, I know you won't give it anyway.  What I want is to help someone else NOT do this same thing. 

We all make mistakes.  We all fail to do the right thing at some point.  We all fail to do God's will perfectly.  Heaven's we are imperfect beings!  But when we purposely rebel against what we know, and refuse to listen to His voice of correction and direction, things can quickly turn into an epic mess!  I got there, people!  I was there!  I spent 3 weeks at the very end of July and beginning of August, running in circles, pulling my hair out, not eating, drinking more, searching more, pushing more, breaking myself more because the mess had finally blown up.  Sadly it wasn't me who made the connection, it wasn't me who was able to listen. But it was me who was left picking up the pieces of my own broken heart because I failed to listen.  Jim Cymbala says in his book The Life God Blesses, "where we see failure, wasted opportunities, and heartaches, is in the fatal flaw of having to have our own way."

And that is what I did.  I had it my own way.  Me.  I stood in the way.  I stopped standing for what I knew was right and gave in.  I caved into the pressure.  I thought I could make it right, but it wasn't.  It wasn't right.  I couldn't drink it away.  I couldn't run it away.  I still can't pray it away.  It happened.  However, what I do know is that God forgives.  He gives second chances.  He makes all things new again.  I know that He doesn't want me to hurt like this and to take on this pain.  I know what He wants more than anything is for me to stop running from Him and stop quieting His voice.  He wants me to run to Him with open arms, open ears, and an open heart.

In another one of the books I'm reading, it shared a statement by John C. Maxwell: "our mistakes have value; we can learn from them." OH.MY.WORD. here people - AM I ever learning!!!  I am learning so much.  I am learning that we can't take back what we've said or done.  I'm learning that forgiving myself is a lot harder than being forgiven by God.  (He actually does that lickity split like when we are truly asking for it in all sincerity.)  I'm learning that my friends were, in their way, telling me all of this then, but what I needed more than their words was perhaps a 2x4 up against my flipping skull.  I'm learning that God is a God of second chances and I pray that someday He will answer the desires of my heart, because the truth of the matter is - no sin is too big and no one can fall too far that God can't pick them up and turn their mistakes into messages.

One last thing from John C. Maxwell, simply because I like what it says:
M - essages that give us feedback about life
I - nterruptions that should cause us to reflect and think
S - ignposts that direct us to the right path
T - ests that push us towards greater maturity
A - wakenings that keep us in the game mentally
K - eys that we can use to unlock the next door of opportunity
E - xplorations that let us journey where we've never been before
S - tatements about our development and progress

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Angry Enough to Fight

Have you ever been angry enough to fight?  Of course you have.   You are human.  Don't deny it.  It's alright.  There is no one here that will judge you.  I'm sure you are curious about why this topic, why now?  I mean I never got angry enough to fight in the whole past year.  That's just it.  I was.  I just didn't act it out in the way most people thought I should.  I didn't allow the hurt to produce the ugly side affects that anger can cause.  But now, now I want to share what I am angry about.  What I think all women should be angry about.  Truthfully, what all people should be angry about - the degradation of marriage.

I will never deny the role I held in the breakdown of my marriage.  Sure, I wanted more than he could give. I wanted him to be someone he simply wasn't.  I wanted him to become a man that God had not created him to be.  It's ok.  I admit that.  I really do wish him happiness in his future relationships and I pray that some day he meets a woman that he can be himself with and they are both happy with the each other they are.  (Disclaimer:  that does not mean that God's work couldn't have made us a couple who, no matter what, stayed together and through that grew into something magnificent.  God can do miraculous things if we let him, but it certainly takes two people willing.)

My point to all of this is, now, 10 months later I'm angry.  No, not at him for his choices.  Honestly, not at me for mine.  What I am angry about is how easy it is to let a marriage go.  How easy it is to let a marriage disintegrate and fall apart.  How easy it is, when  you are not even paying attention, to let someone else in.  I'm angry at how easy "falling out of love" has become.  I'm angry that marriages can't stand the test of feelinglessness (yes I just made that word up).  I'm angry at the way society accepts broken marriages as a rule instead of the exception.  I'm angry at how some people go into marriage with an ace in their pocket - knowing they can make a play to end the game whenever it isn't going their way.  That right there is why I am angry.  I'm angry enough to cry. 

And I have.  A lot.  More than I care to admit.  People I HURT for others in this situation.  I have friends that are starting this journey, in the middle of this journey, nearing the end of this journey, completely through it, and yes, some who have been blessed to not know anything about the pain this journey creates.  Divorce hurts.  It will tear you to shreds.  Don't deny it.  There is a sense of euphoria in the beginning...the moving on newness and its feelings (especially when there is someone there to help bridge the gaps), but it will still rip at the very fabric of your soul. 

I've cried for friends that think this is what they want.  That think this is the best way out of a "crappy" marriage or situation.  It isn't.  I know.  I was there - in 2005.  I wanted out.  I did what I thought I needed to do to find that peace.  It didn't work because when it came down to it, I really did love him and our marriage.  We struggled, we rebuilt, we grew, we became a good couple - you know the kind that have a lot of problems, but also the desire to work them out together.  Yeah, I can say that it took a lot on his part and mine.  But we committed to it, for the kids.  Then in 2012, well, you've all read about it.  You can't run from these things.  I can almost hear the naysayers.  It's ok, you can have your opinion.  I will never take it from you.  Just be polite enough to allow me to have mine.

To the woman out there that is fighting for her marriage, that is fighting against things she shouldn't have to, know that I KNOW  your pain.  Keep up the fight. Do not stop.  Give it what you have, BUT also work at it together...don't cast blame.  There are two sides.  Build it back together, brick by brick.  Fight it with kindness, softness, and a strong spirit.  Fight it with compassion and selflessness.  Fight it with love and perseverance.  Do NOT fight it with malicious words, fists, hatred, and vengeful actions.  Fight it with a heart of forgiveness.  You'll be so much more proud of yourself in the end.  Mostly, I want  you to fight it with God on your side.  He will be there when you seek Him.  He will be your "Mickey." (For those who don't know that is a Rocky reference.  LOVE those movies!)

On that note, my desire is to fight too.  To fight alongside you all.  I want you to know I will pray for you.  You people I don't know and you who I do.  I will pray that you fight the good fight.  But mostly I am going to pray the God can heal broken hearts, hurting hearts, confused hearts.  That he can bring marriage back to what it should be.  That he will strengthen those who need strengthened. 

Marriage should be something we are all angry enough to fight for. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Guarded Heart

I've gone back over a few things that I wrote for myself, those letters during the early months of the ex-Mr's journey elsewhere.  I marvel at the clarity I had during such a tumultuous period of my life.  Seriously, I sounded put together.  I sounded like a woman that really did know what she needed, or rather, where she needed to go.  I looked up and in for those answers.  I sought.  Continuously.  For strength and guidance.  I followed a pattern in those days, the ones between February and a couple weeks ago.  A clear pattern.  Actually, it became all the more earnest until June.  I broke in June. 

I  used to pray people.  Daily.  I scrawled notes in the margins of my Bible, I penned letter after letter, I journaled extensively, all with the same theme - Father, guard my heart.  I knew.  I had been told.  I felt it.  Mostly, I knew especially when I stopped the waterfall of tears and thought would come back. A broken heart is a weak heart and a weak heart must be guarded.  Those were my words, my pleas really, day after day, "Lord, guard my heart.  Lead me.  Protect my heart." 

Tonight at Bible study, during discussion, one of the people there said something that I'd heard a multitude of times before, (and frankly it reminds me of a country song - but almost anything that is said I can relate to a song - I digress) If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.  And that is it.  I didn't stand for what I believed in.  I stopped asking God to do what I knew He alone had to do.  I stopped asking Him to control my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I stopped asking Him to guard my heart and to lead me.  

People, I HATE lessons learned.  I hate the PAIN, the AGONY, the HURT, that lessons like these cause.  I know the best ones will leave scars.  The right ones are those you will never repeat.  The lessons you grow from are the ones you teach from.  I want to let you know that, yes, although I allowed myself to go it my way, I still loved, cared for, and miss epically this person, but...yes, there is always a but...in this case it is the pain, agony, and hurt created.  No, not regrets.  Timing.  (We've already talked about this in an earlier post, I won't revisit it here.) 

I want to challenge you, those in the same place I am, or perhaps not even that, all of you actually.  Guard  your heart.  GUARD IT!  If you can't, then pray for it.  When you long for love, you can be misguided. This is for single and married people alike.  Those who are newly divorced, separated, split up, broken up, or even never been in a relationship before.  Guard your heart.  Protect it.  Now, I'm not saying become a frigid ice queen/king, but stand for something.  KNOW what you stand for.  Your core truths should tell you what this is, if you find yourself unable, then pray.  Because God is certainly able.  Your heart is not something to play around with.  No matter how much  you think  you are ok with it, you aren't.  You will lose a piece of yourself - AGAIN!  You will find more hurt, and not necessarily from more brokenness, but perhaps from realizing the timing was wrong.

In this quest to find me.  The person that perhaps maybe my bestie did have it right and I do know my core beliefs, I already know what to stand for, what I DO stand for.  I also realize that what my head knows and what my heart leads me to can vary.  Not necessarily in a good way.  I know that I need to constantly seek after a guarded heart, because I am weak in this area.  I allow myself to become someone I'm not.  And, IF I give it just the right amount of attention, I can clearly see that true healing will occur once my heart is no longer trumping my mind.