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.