Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities

I'm going to use this literary reference for tonight's blog post.  I want to introduce you to two different cities.  One is a place well traveled and familiar, the other is a place that is new and full of potential.  I need to let you know that while I know Charles Dickens penned A Tale of Two Cities I have never read the book, I do not even know the basics of what it is about.  Therefore, the parallels if any, are merely coincidental and have no merit on the story I am about to tell.

She wondered one night down streets so familiar she didn't feel the danger that was lurking in the shadows.  She had become accustomed to the way the bricks jutted here and there along the path, as time and nature have a way of moving things about.  However, there where the streets met, was a danger she had never encountered, a threat she never thought would enter her safe haven.  You see she had found this city quite by happenstance so long ago. At first she was highly unsure of its offerings, there was promise and intrigue and there was excitement and value, but behind the cityscape she questioned the structure of the buildings.

Despite those early fears she stayed long enough to learn the architecture, meet the master craftsman and fall in love with all that it had to offer even though it didn't have all the things she had thought she wanted and needed in life.  After all, not all cities have to be extravagant to have allure.  Here she found home.  Here she found the peace that comes from knowing the surroundings, of learning, daily, how it was built and sharing the joy of each new discovery.  Here she found a calm she had never known before.  Yet in her was always the desire to have the city find her.  After months of walking the well traveled roads the city began to transform and change.  It kept altering until the streets became a labyrinth to which she couldn't outrun.

She struggled and struggled and raced against time to re-establish the familiarity she had only so recently found, in the grand scheme of things, but it wasn't there.  No, it had started to seep from the shadows, it had begun changing its form and the maze that it created pushed her further and further from its center, its heart.  It sprung on her like a panther, claws dripping in a murky ink and consumed her heart and mind in a fail swoop, leaving her aghast at the sight of the remnants which was her life, thus far.  She pushed forward, no ran, aimlessly, fighting to find the center again to only connect with one corner after another until the only option left was to find a way out.  She had to find a way out.  Out of the city.  Out of its horrors.  Out of what it had become.

Wondering through the wilderness she came to a fork in the road.  One she had found before.  One that had led her to the city she just escaped.  This time there was a new city sign on the post, but it was so many, many miles away.  She didn't know how long it would take her to get there.  She didn't know what this city could or would offer, but she knew the demands she had of its architect.  They were lofty demands, demands filled with big things as well as little things.  These demands were her wish for a forever place to be.  These things were all her desires rolled into a single place.  She'd been told such places existed in life, since others had stumbled upon such a city of their own.  However, it took her many wrong turns to fully know what to ask of the architect.

But she took the first step and the next and the one after that until the journey began.  The longing for the familiar still beckons her, it still holds the promises of what it was.  It still has the potential to be that city again, but much reconstruction is needed on those twisty, turny, cobbled streets.  Much renovation is required of its dark corners. In the meantime, the road she is on, the one leading to the city full of intrigue and potential is just around the bend, wherever that may be along the path.  The path that, at times, has doubled back on itself.  The path which can lead to a city rebuilt or one designed by an architect based from the demands of a girl.  A girl that ran to escape what she found and found not only where she was, but who she was.

This is a tale of two cities.

Sleep well.

Love, M

Monday, December 15, 2014

When the Time Comes

I wrote a post well over a year ago titled, "Between the Holding on & the Letting Go". In this post I found myself in nearly the same circumstance as I am in now.  Now, it does not involve a man with similar life circumstances, but none-the-less it does involve a man.  A man, who promised me the world, or rather to always be in mine.  A man who showed me the engagement rings he was looking at, because marrying me is what he wanted most.  Then it all changed, as life is apt to do.  He began listening to what others felt.  They felt he was making a mistake, and me well, I was always praying he'd stick to his word.

I fought the inevitable every step of the way, pushing harder and harder to regain what we lost from those early months.  Many, many months went by were the fight resulted in nothing more than a relationship tattered at the seams and a woman left with another broken heart.  Just as with the ex-Mr.  I gave and gave and gave, hoping beyond hope that just maybe in all that giving I could win him back, but it was not to be the case, there was none of that to happen.  I lamented for weeks and weeks on end, grasping at any text or FB poke that would come thru only to end up with more agony each and every time.  I was allowing myself to be the girl that got the left overs.  He had me controlled by that; maybe he knew, maybe he didn't.

However, the time has come.  This past week and most specifically this past weekend has been one of great reflection.  Time to really focus on who I am and what I have to offer another person.  People you want to know what I learned about myself?  That thing that I failed to recognize because I was distraught over the feelings of fighting a one-sided battle?  I realized that I am good enough.  I am worthy.  It was him that was not worthy of me.  I have love to give.  I have a unique personality and outlook on life.  I have appeal and a mind, albeit strong to a fault at times.  I am self-sufficient, independent, and strong-willed.  I am me.  And me wants an equal to share life with. Share.  Nothing more than share.

It took me a bit to get here, again.  It took me having to stand up for myself and drawing a line in the sand.  It took me telling myself that I am important enough to be important enough.  It took me telling myself that even though there are a lot of fish in the ocean, God knows the right one for me and that it is ok to rest in that, even when it hurts to do so.  It took me telling myself, "when the time comes you will know."  And you know what?  Last night and today - the time came.  I will miss the holding on, I will hate the letting go.  After all, there was a piece of my heart that was given there.  Yet, I have a man out there that God gave me that will take all of my heart and he will love it back and nurture its growth and protect it from all the things that want to break it into pieces.  He will not give me the left overs, no, he will give me a love that God designed for me, because mine was designed for him.

And my dear lovelies, when the time comes, whatever it is that you are facing, you will be ok too.

Much love,
M

Saturday, December 6, 2014

But Would You Still Say Yes?

I've had a busy day.  Run the Littles here and there, flat tire, work from home, spend time with friends, run the Littles here and there again, fix dinner, answer emails - busy.  While waiting for my oldest Little's choir performance to begin I goofed around on my phone, but even that couldn't give my wandering mind rest.  So I silenced my phone and placed it in my purse and pulled out my Bible.  Yes, I carry it everywhere with me.  Yes, I have a phone app, but there is just something altogether more special about turning the pages, feeling the leather binding, holding God's truths in hand.  And I read.  Right where I left off.  Sometimes I think God knows where we are and not just in life, but in all things. 

2 Peter 1:5-9: "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you posses these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."

I'm having a particularly hard day.  At today's choir program there were families (moms and dads) there supporting their child singing.  It was just me.  I shook it off, I had to.  I chose not to dwell on the aloneness that encompasses my life and sat there and cheered my little girl on, just like everyone else did theirs.  It wasn't until I picked my other two Littles up from my parent's house (they had a children's Christmas party to attend and I simply couldn't be in two places at once) and headed home that what I read started weighing on me.  After we got home the girls' friends came over and they all headed upstairs to play while I cleaned.  I think the Lord uses times like these to fully bring us to Him.  At this moment I was washing dishes, cleaning off the remnants of a meal now long forgotten and I heard Him ask, "Will you still say yes to me?"

I caught my breath.  "Yes Lord, but..."  "No, Mandy, not but, will you still say yes to me?"  I knew what he was asking.  Will I still chose him even if he never allows me the honor of having a forever someone.  Will I still chose him if a husband never comes.  Will I still say yes to following him and his will for my life.  "But you know what I want Lord."  "Will you still say yes to me?"  I won't lie, there mixed with the soapy water and dirty dishes were my tears.  Tears that are new because I hadn't expelled them all yet for the day.  Tears that were full of the answers I knew to give, the ones I wanted to give, and the ones I didn't want to give.  "Yes, Lord.   Yes, I will still say yes to you even if you say no to me." 

Understand that my tears haven't stopped.  In fact, they are here, now, at the back of my eyes as I type because I know that faith should bring goodness; goodness, knowledge; knowledge, self-control; self-control, perseverance; perseverance, godliness; godliness, mutual affection; mutual affection, love. And as these things multiply in my life, just as the tears in the soapy water that washed the remnants of ick off the dishes, I will know that God has washed away my sins.  He has made me with a purpose and that to find that purpose truly all I have to say is, yes.

Food for thought.

Love, M

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Shared Secrets

Do you remember that feeling you had when you were younger, grade school or middle school even, when you saw two people whispering in front of you and they each stole quick glances in your direction?  That feeling of dread and the knot that formed in the pit of your stomach?  The feel of the sting of tears as they welled up in the back of your eyes and the lump as it formed in your throat.  The painful feeling of lost trust in a person you thought was your friend.  Or were you one that was doing the whispering?  As adults tend to think we have grown past those pithy moments of our youth where secret sharing was all the rage, but I have to believe we still hold fast to some bits of those childhood antics.  Why this?

Tonight in our Bible study we wrapped up a 14 week series on Christianity vs. the Cults.  It was a fabulous study where we went into deep discussion on the different cults active in today's society and how they differ from the doctrinal beliefs of Christianity.  Perhaps one day I'll give it a whack and share the cliffs notes of those studies, but don't hold your breath just in case.  Anyhow, in tonight's wrap up we recapped each cult we had studied and then closed the study out with the appeal of Christianity.  Here is where the discussion got deep and yours truly actually shared a lot tonight and listened even more.  There were 6 points that we discussed, but it was point #3 that not only stood out to me, but really and truly rocked me to the core.

Simply - We can know God!  Yes, that little statement was profound enough to begin a gamut of talk.  I think this is something that we all take for granted; this personal one-on-one relationship that we can have with God.  He is there for us each second of every day.  He is there for us when we aren't being open to Him.  He is there.  He is here.  He never leaves us.  This is a very important point to digest and hold on to.  I will be the first to admit, and this was a comment that I made tonight, that the hardest part about this point is that this kind of faith, this kind of blind trust, it requires action and will and choice.  Because you see, God isn't tangible.  He can't visibly sit across from you at the table, or next to you in the car, or wherever. Oh, don't misunderstand my thought here, He is here, He just isn't here physically.  And that is the crux of the problem. 

In case you don't know this about me, I'm a talker.  I know!  (It's alright I'll give you a few seconds to work through that revelation, just remember to breath through the laughter.)    Anyhow, when the leader of the study asked us "Why do you think we can know God?" I answered with this, "because I know I can tell him anything.  I can use words with him that would otherwise cut another person in half.  I can use all that is ugly in my vocabulary and let him have it.  I can share every single thing on my mind with him and you know what, He just listens.  He just listens."  Then another lady said, "yes, just the other day I was telling God to look at what these others were doing"  (As in she was trying to point out obvious misconduct to an all knowing God.  Newsflash...he knows!)  However, that is NOT the message of this post.  It is however, the reason I began sharing tonight.  I shared secrets.  Oh, not those kind, but the kind that held me to a level of accountability.  I shared a character flaw.

Remember my opening question?  I've been that girl.  I've been the girl who has hated herself because she knew and felt people pointing and whispering about her.  I've been the girl who lost her self-esteem because of this.  I've been the girl who always felt less than good enough, thus I strove to please everyone so that they wouldn't share secrets about me.  And yet, those pithy childhood antics, those feelings I accumulated didn't teach me what I needed to learn.  No, a man did.  A man that I love.  A man that told me but a few days ago that secrets shared break relationships.  Earthly relationships.  This I revealed to my study group tonight.  For me, when I am weak, I do not run to my God, I run to a tangible person and I share.  I share all that is not right and not good.  I share all that is hurting and painful and missing (in my pain-filled eyes).  And this is where breakdowns begin.  Breakdowns not only in relationships, but in the way the person you are telling sees the person concerned about in the shared secret.

People, I want to tell you that your friends, your relatives, your co-workers, whomever, they are not the ones to share secrets with.  They are not the ones to tell the insecurities to, the perceived injustices to, the unmet expectations to, they simply Are. Not. God.  You see, people want to take your side. They want to comfort you and help you and give you advice that may not be the best.  But God, He wants to hear those secrets - FIRST.  He wants to know about the troubles and the pain and the unmet expectations.  You want to know why He wants to know?  Because He has the bigger picture in the palm of His hands.  He wants to take the ugly and distorted and filter it for you.  He wants you to open up to Him so that you can exercise proper discernment.  (As a disclaimer, if your secret is abuse of any kind...SEEK HELP!) He wants to do this to help you.  This is what a loving God does.

While we had a classroom full of people tonight who were hearing a Bible study on Christianity, God was giving me a lesson on when to share secrets and with whom.  He used that moment to answer a why question that I have asked repeatedly over the past few weeks.  He used that moment to remind me that while we all make choices, I have power over mine.  I have the power to chose to go to Him or to run to another.  I take responsibility with this.  I made an egregious error in my judgment; in my haste for instant feedback I did what was wrong instead of what was right.  And people, going to God is ALWAYS right.  Sharing secrets with Him is always right.  Opening up to Him is always right.  Why?  Because He is just.  He is fair.  And He knows.  He knew.  He sees.  And yet, He is still there.

Thank you Father for this lesson.  I mourn what I lost in its learning, but I am thankful that I learnt it.  While I will miss what might have been, I trust that God will take this lesson and turn it around.  I trust that He will be sure to prod me at the right moments when I feel the urging to slip back into old habits.  After all, I don't want to be the one pointing and whispering because I know all too well what it feels like on the other side of the quickly stolen glances.  I want to create, build, and grow relationships, not share them to their death.  One last thing, seeking advice and sharing everything are two completely different things.  Always go to your partner first.

Share wisely.
Love, M

Monday, December 1, 2014

Her News


Sometimes I wonder about the timing of things.  I wonder about the way circumstances  unfold and the way people move in and out of our lives.  I know that each person we come into contact with, even when the mind allows the briefest of exchanges to be forgotten it never forgets the imprint of a significant moment, leaves a imprint.  Think of each person.  Think of each thing you have learnt, good or bad, from every person that has entered you life.  In long term relationships that have ended, think now, with and without the rose colored glasses, in those brief exchanges remember the moment.  I'll wait while you close your eyes and reflect.  They taught you something didn't they?  They taught you what selflessness and selfishness look like, they taught you what love and hate look like, they taught you what wrong and right look like.  You see, these people are more than coincidence, they are purposefully woven into the fabric of your life.  Tonight dear readers I want to pull on one string.  One that has woven itself so tightly into my tapestry that it has enhanced its color tenfold.

This person, who I will leave un-named not because she doesn't deserve the recognition, but because she deserves the anonymity, has been in my life only a brief time.  This person has lived in close proximity to me for many years, but it wasn't until the ex-Mr. walked away (a bit over 2 years ago) that I really got to know her.  Oh, I had spoken with her many times, but never more than casually.  However, when my life turned upside down, she in her complete unselfishness, turned up.  She opened her heart and her arms to me.  She let me talk and scream and cry and yes, even booger snot all over her pretty clothes.  This person, she is the epitome of what love looks like.  She gives.  She listens.  She cares.  She thinks about you even when you wonder if anyone ever does.  People, she is more precious to me than I have words to say.

Which brings me to today.  I  had a rough day.  I've had a rough 3 weeks.  You've all read the posts.  Today, when I called her to cry (yes, I am still doing that) then to ask for help, she told me "well I got some news today."  Then I remembered what today was.  People in my sadness and brokenness I forgot about her big day.  I forgot that she needed me to be thinking of her and I didn't, not until she reminded me. Her news. She gave it to me as I was driving down the road.  Her news.  I nearly drove across the divided highway.  Her news.   Made me yell and scream and cry.  Her news.  It is breaking me right now.  Her news. Cancer.  I'm so broken for her.  I don't know where to start.  Yet she did.  She gave me her news and in the same breath said, "it is ok."   She said, "I'm not scared." 

Her faith and love for the Lord is so strong and so firm that she knows that He has her in the palm of His hands.  Me, I want to fix it.  I want to run in and take care of her and do everything she needs me to do.  I want to do.  I'm a doer.  She, she is resting comfortably in the knowledge and strength of Her Redeemer because, her news, she knows. Her news, He knows.  She knows that above all God is the great physician, He can make the lame walk, the blind see, and the broken whole.  She knows that she is His daughter and He has her tomorrow completely under control.  Her news did not break her.  She is my hero.  Her strength is amazing and unbelievable.  She isn't letting this big thing get to her because her God is bigger than what is the matter.  No, with her news, she is calm.

I say all this to tell you again, she taught me a lesson today.  Yes, I helped her by making them dinner.  I prayed for her.  I put her on the prayer chain at church, but more than all those doing things, I learned.  I learned that some people know how to trust God completely with the hardest things.  I learned that God is bigger than what's the matter.  Not because I personally experienced it (which I'm sure with true reflection I have, but because she showed me).  I learned that some times the angels in our lives are the living, breathing beauties that we interact with on a daily basis.  I learned that love is so much more.  I learned that she is amazing (actually, I learned that one a really long time ago).

So, dear readers, yesterday I asked you to pray for me.  Thank you for those who did.  But today, I ask you to pray for Her.  Pray for her and  her husband and her beautiful Littles.  Pray for them all. Then I ask that you do it again each day, not because you have to, but because God has told us that where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there.  I believe this with all that I am.  I trust Him to heal my dear friend. 

Thank you all so much.

Love, M

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lost Love

Do you ever just want to yell at God?  No, I don't mean like when you yell at the guy who cut you off in traffic, I mean yell at him over things that happen and demand of him the reasons for those same things?  I do.  I want to scream at him at the top of my lungs to ensure that he hears me.  No, not just hears me, but feels me.  Feels my pain.  People, I am so very mad at God right now.  You want to know an ugly truth about me?  I hate myself.  I hate that I am not good enough for another person's love.  I hate that no matter how hard I try, another person always steals the person I love away from me.  Each and every time.  I hate that I am so wrong for everyone that they run from me as fast as they are able and when the dust settles I am left holding a broken heart and lots of memories.  Always only memories.  Not plans for the future, just the moments of my past.

Why?  I know this is an age old question and the heart of it is freedom of choice.  We as humans constantly get the opportunity to chose.  God doesn't force anything.  And the thing about choices is when something that appears to be better comes along, most people go for it.  It  is easier that way.  It is always easier to leave than to work through differences.  In fact, I am sure most folks stick around during the rough bits just waiting for something/someone better to come along.  That seems to be the way of it.  It seems to be how it ends up. 

I want to be strong right now.  I want to have all the answers and all the faith a woman of God is supposed to have.  I want to sit here and type out that I know the Lord is my rock and fortress and mighty tower.  I want to stand firm in Him and His promise.  His promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me, but the human part of me, it is too broken to see these things.  Oh, deep in me I know these to be the truest forms of truth.  I know that my God is a God of good and pure and right.  That He only wants the best for me.  That He lets things happen sometimes because He is trying to grow us and show us.  I want to believe He is doing that, for me, right now because He does love me and has the best for me.  I want to feel something other than what I feel right now. 

So, I am going to ask you all something I've never once asked in all the years I've had this blog.  Will you pray for me?  Will you pray for God's hand to deliver me from this?  I know this isn't my first rodeo in the heartbreak department, but the pain and the hurt is the same none-the-less.  In some ways it is worse because it is different.  And me, I'm going to pray for you.  For all of you experiencing the same thing right now, because I know.  I know better than you think. 

Lord, right now, there is a woman (maybe even a man) out there who has just been let go by another.  Right now they are full of hurt and pain and a soul crushing heartache.  Lord I ask that you pick them up in your mighty hands.  I ask that you come before them now and hold them, let them feel your gentle touch, the softness of your arms around them, and the comfort of your power and strength protecting them.  Lord I know you do not like to see your children suffer.  Lord I ask that you help to dry tears and calm hearts.  I ask that you help them to get a good night's sleep.  Lord I ask that you speak right to their heart and soul the words they are so desperately longing to hear right now, "I love you."  In your name Lord, Amen.

Much love to you all tonight and the days going forward.  I will keep up.  I will get through this.  I will be more than I am right now. 

M

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving.  It is a day when we are to pour out our thanks for all things and find the blessing in all things regardless of what life has really thrown at us.  Today is a day where we are demanded by society to only see positives because after all, it could be worse.  Oh, dear, sweet society, yes it could always be worse.  I think we do that, though.  We like to discount people's pain most especially when we don't have the same pain.  We like to look at them and tell them, "be thankful..."  Just once, instead of telling them to be thankful for such and such, why don't we pull up next to them and feel with them.  Why don't we hold them while they cry.  Comfort them when they are shaking with hurt?  Truly this would be a wonderful way to show them that you care.  In turn, I promise, they will find thanks in that small gesture.  I would have found thanks in that small gesture.

All day today I have struggled with my thoughts.  I have agonized over what I should and shouldn't think, say, or do.  I've sat here and contemplated what I will say when a family member asks me where my boyfriend is.  How I should act when I see my family members and their spouses/significant others' and children arrive for dinner.  Where I should sit at the table and the conversation I should attempt to hold.  In the end I sat alone, in the kitchen while all the kids played.  At dinner I sat sandwiched between my Littles at the end of the table.  Afterwards I colored pictures with my littlest Little in the den while the rest of the families sat and talked about life and family stuff. Later, I curled up next to my oldest Little as she was sleeping away after her dinner. Then we left.

Now, I'm sitting here all alone while my Littles are with their daddy; it is his weekend after all.  I'm here by myself with no one to share the rest of this day of thanks with.  I've got my sweet Miss Clarabelle, but other than playing tug-o-war she isn't much for conversation.   This is where I have a hunch people are yelling at me through their computers saying - enjoy this time, read a book, watch a movie, run a few miles, something other than think about your day.  Oh, dear people, but how you don't know.  How you simply do not know. Things and stuff and activities will while away the time, but they will not heal the soul.  No, they bury the circumstance with busy-ness and dull the effects of reality.  Healing comes with time and working through it the way that is best for you.

However, in spite of all of that, I would like to say a few (more) things.   I am thankful.  No, hear me out.  I am thankful that I got to spend the day with my Littles.  I am thankful I got to see my family and eat a meal that I didn't have to cook (mom's are kind of cool like that).  I am thankful for Thanksgiving Day traditions even if the Bears lost and they are a bit modified from years past.  (both the traditions and the way the Bears played football today...ugh!!!)  I am thankful that for a short bit of time God allowed me the chance to not only have a boyfriend, but to love him the best way that I knew how.  I am thankful for a home to come back to and I am thankful for the ability to share my story with you. So, you see, I'm not without thanks.  It is there mixed with the pain and the heartache.  And I cannot wait for the day it is there where it isn't mixed with either of those things.  It will come.

Much love and Happy Thanksgiving, M

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Heartache

I have tried to put this post together many times over the past few days. Yet, every time I would get a few sentences in I would get distracted or have to run off to something the Littles needed me for.  In each of my attempts I have wanted to pour out the sadness, the pain, the heartache, and the agony that has consumed me.  Honestly I still want to do that.  I still want to cry all over this post.  I want you to see and feel what I see and feel.  To a point, there is still a chance that will happen here, tonight, as my fingers meet the keys.  But, to be honest, I think God gave me the distractions to keep the wrong words from coming out, the hurtful words.  Not in that I would have been mean, but in that I wouldn't have been fair.  We do that sometimes, don't we?  Most especially when we hurt, we use our words.

He broke up with me.  This man that I had fallen in love with.  This man who I met last fall and spent several months getting to know before officially "dating.  This man who was sweet enough to ask me to be his girlfriend at that end of March this past spring. This man who, well, will not be a part of my future in the way that I had hoped.  I seem to have a knack for giving my heart to men that don't really care to have it.  I apologize, that is not a fair assessment, because at one time he did - He certainly showed it.  I'm not going to sit here and tell you there weren't things.  There were things.  Things like differences of opinions and not just on trivial things like does a hamburger need mayonnaise or not - which, YES, it does!  But differences on important things.  I will not share that, it isn't fair.

I will tell you this man who I loved, he got me with his love for church and Bible study and following God's will for his life.  I mean, what wasn't there for a girl to love?  I need that.  No, not just that, I WANT that in a partner.  I want him to want God only above a relationship with me.  It is important to have that.  One should never question where they stand in a person's life, ever.  I firmly believe, and only because I have seen it with my own eyes with my friends and their spouses, is that when a man truly loves a woman she and no one else will wonder where she stands in his life.  This thing alone will create the greatest peace of mind.  Peace of mind speaks for itself.

I'm 36 years old.  I'm not getting any younger.  (Thankfully I don't have a ticking biological clock!)  I know just 2 short years ago this was the same sentiment that I  had. In fact, it was the same sentiment I had last year.  I was afraid of getting older and being single.  Seems I keep finding myself in the same spot.  My life is like a horrible remake of Groundhog Day, yet I'm not reliving it with the same people, just the same outcome.  And this, this right here is where all of my friends tell me to wait.  To wait on the Lord and his timing. To trust the process and that He knows what He is doing.  To trust that He has just the right person in mind for me.  People,  I want to believe and trust and be ok with the wait, but I'm not.  I'm not ok.  I'm very much so not ok.

And that is where I am today.  Tomorrow is another day, but today, today I am hurting and broken and sad.  So very, very sad.


Friday, November 14, 2014

My Journey: Truth vs. Lies

Have you ever looked back over a situation and wondered just how you made it through?  Me too.  In fact, I've been thinking over the past 2+ years a lot these past days and wondered where on Earth did the strength come from and where on Earth has it gone?  There are things I know to be absolutely true about me and then there are the things that I know are lies I tell myself because the truth would hurt all that much more.  Before you interject your ideas as to the difference between the two, allow me to explain. 

Truths that I know about me:

1. I am a strong person.  Head strong that is.  I am a truly stubborn woman.  My grandma used to tell me that this would be my nemesis someday (my words not hers exactly, but it was the point given).  She was right, this is at times my undoing.

2. I am a weak woman.  Emotionally speaking.  I wear my feelings on my shirt sleeve.  I do not hide them nor do I sugar coat them.  This too, is my undoing.  (In fact, if I had to wager I believe this is the reason many people walk out of my life instead of staying in it.) Happy, sad, mad, upset, angry, you name it and you have no doubt what it is I'm feeling.

3. I am impulsive.  Yes, I tend to let the aforementioned emotional imbalances I have override my greater thinking.  It isn't necessarily all bad, but then it isn't necessarily all good either. The main positive about this is I hate shopping so I am not an impulse buyer!

4.  I drag my feet.  In other words - I procrastinate.  I fear.  Fear immobilizes me.  Instead of doing the things I must I let them go for as long as they can and then I react.  I am a master at this.  However, in light of this, I have learned some valuable lessons I may have never otherwise had the opportunity to learn.

5.  I am impatient.  There are things in life that get to me so much.  I do not like waiting.  However, I should point out, this typically only pertains to relationships.  Ok, this absolutely pertains to relationships. Long lines...no problem!

6.  I am patient.  I love the thrill of anticipation. For example, I have my next race on December 20th where I will be crossing another item off of my running "bucket list".  I will be running a leg of the Huff Ultra (For those who don't know - that is a run over 30 miles SQUEE!!!).  I simply cannot wait, but I also know I have a lot of training to do for this.  It will be cold, possibly wet/snowy, all trail, and mentally tough.  Thankfully it is only a 10 mile run.  However, the process to get to that point is something I enjoy. 

7. I am apathetic. I turn off my feelings to others because it hurts too much.  This is most especially when I feel at a loss on how to process a situation or to help.  I always want to help.

8. I care deeply for others.  Believe it or not, I am the kind of person that will do everything I can to help another.  Need something?  If I can't make it myself, I'll figure out how to get it for you.  Need to barrow something?  If I don't have it, I'll find a way.  Have a project that needs done?  I'll put together the details.  I like helping.  I like doing.  I like reducing the pain and stress of others.  Sometimes this backfires in the worst of ways.

Lies that I tell myself:

1. I am too weak to get through the pain of loneliness.  It keeps me in a cocoon that even I cannot work my way out of, let alone another.

2. I am a failure. 

3. I am not good enough to keep.

4. If I was someone else, I would be loved.

5. I am not pretty/skinny/visually appealing enough to be wanted for forever.

6. I am not marriage material.

Truth and lies make up each and every one of us.  My truths have detail.  My lies do not.  Not because there aren't any, but that they would further expose my weakness. I know that others only want to read upbeat stories, stories that inspire them to be/do something bigger than they are now. Actually, you may be one of them.  However, I think in all those inspirational stories one of the things that gets glossed over is the fact that there is a process to it all.  There is a time when broken has to be fixed, when wrong has to become right, and when lost has to be found.  All true stories have a journey.  Some journeys are short, while some are painstakingly long.  I'm beginning to think mine isn't the Cliff's Notes version and some days I am ok with it, others not so much.

I do hope.  I want to trust.  I have faith.  I want to believe.  Ultimately I do know that God works for the good of all that love Him. (Romans 8:28)





Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Uncertainty

For those who have followed this blog for any length of time you know that I've had an interesting couple of  years in that my personal life was turned upside down.  So you know, this post isn't going to be about that; well, for the most part at least!

One of the things that really hurts about the changes in my personal life is the fact that for  any and all burdens I face, in regards to my home life, fall solely on my shoulders.  As in I have no one to share the struggle with.  This brings me to the spot I have found myself in.  For the first time in my entire adult life I find myself facing an uncertainty that I do not know how to work through.  Yes, 2 years ago I was in the same boat for entirely different reasons and today I am here for a complete set of other ones. 

If I am to be honest I have often shared with my close friends and family that this situation is one I'd be able to work through, one that I would be alright with because I trusted God completely with the outcome.  However today I was brought face to face with a fear I didn't really think I'd have to face.  You ever been there?  In a place where, hypothetically speaking, you would know what to do and could land on your feet and charge full speed ahead no problem, but the moment you had to actually do it you were left shaken to the core.  Truthfully when a fear becomes a reality it is frightening.

If I were to look at it, you know from all sides and such, then I could truly say there has been a lot of writing on the wall.  And to go a step further I have actually in the past week been working in a way to minimize the repercussions of the fear, should it become a reality.  To take one more step I need to also accept that in the past 6 months I've known that God isn't finished working with me yet and that He has been, in fact, showing me some things.  Now, don't misunderstand, I am not having visions or premonitions or anything of the like, but something altogether more real.  He's real and He has a real plan for me.  But...

I'm a stick in the mud.  I do not like change.  I do not function well with change.  I will wait out each and every situation pretty much until a decision is made for me simply because I do not like change.  Change freaks me out.  (As if 2 straight years of rehashing the same pain wasn't a clue.) But I can tell the tides they are a turnin' and I'm not sure my boat is right for the storm.  People, I'm scared.  No, I'm more than scared.  I'm petrified beyond belief.  This change, it doesn't affect just me.  No, it affects my three Littles as well.  I'm their care giver, their provider, their main source of, well, everything and now I'm looking at not having anything to take care of them with.

I know my God is faithful.  I know that He is strong.  I know that He is with me.  I know that I am His child.  Yet, the what I know and the what I fear are at war right now.  Will I still be able to take care of my Littles? Will they still see me in the same way?  I don't want to be a failure in their eyes.  I've worked so hard to take care of them and now I'm letting them down.  It's is one thing when it is just me.  I can take care of me, but they cannot take care of themselves.  That is an honor that God gave me and it is also a burden that I don't share with another.  Because of this I find myself in a spot where I am completely unable to function - again.

I just ask, if you would be ever so kind, please pray for us.  Pray that God takes care of this situation I am facing and that, in all things, my Littles don't lose their security.  I will always do what it takes to take care of them, but right now the enormity of the uncertainty is crushing me.  Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.

Love, M

Monday, October 13, 2014

They're Just Miles, Right?!

This past Saturday I crossed another first off of my running "bucket list".  This year has been wrought with many accomplishments as well as many set-backs for me, running wise.  I have shared with you my journey toward a 100 mile month, my joy in finally becoming a marathoner, and my heartache in being "benched" due to an ever common injury suffered by runners - a bum IT Band.  The road to recovery hasn't been easy.  In fact, it has been much harder than learning to run in the first place.  I mean, after all, I had to start over and that is NEVER an easy feat regardless of what it is you are starting over from.  But, that is a story for another time.  (Aren't they all?!?)

I decided a couple of months ago the best way to not revert back to a coach potato was to sign up for as many races as I could - within financial reason of course.  Well, in the beginning, I ran a couple of 5Ks.  While I never reached, equaled, nor beat any previous PR I did prove to myself that I can most certainly complete a race.  And since, there are times, as most of us runners are apt to share, when reason must be thrown out the window, I signed up for a half marathon.  This only after finally getting back to the 10 mile mark 2 weeks before the race!!!  But, hey, why not I'd doubled the distance not quite 4 months prior! I did not set a PR in that race, but again I proved that I could do it.  And while riding this racing high, so-to-speak, I went right on ahead and signed up for 3 more half marathons to be completed in the 5 weeks following that one, which brings me to my first!

I ran an all trail half marathon. ALL TRAILS!  Ok, ok, some of you are probably wondering the significance of this. Or not.  Here's the thing, while I have ran a snippit of a trail from time to time at my favorite state park over the past year and a half, I have not ever ran that far on just trails.  In fact, I haven't ran all trails in a race, or for more than 2.5 miles, since high school cross country. (Nearly 20 years ago!!! BTW, now is not the time for you to bust out your epic math skills.  Just saying.) What on earth possessed me to think this was going to be easy (yeah, not exactly what I was thinking, but I have momentary lapses in reason) to run???  So a few things started off this adventure:

1) I had black bean pasta with red sauce for dinner the night before - what am I, a rookie?  No detail needed here.
2) I woke up on time, but in my haste to get out the door, failed to grab my Garmin and by the time it was remembered I was already a half hour down the interstate and turning around was not an option.  Plus my reasoning was that people have ran for centuries without the aid of technology telling them how epic they were (or weren't).
3) I drove nearly 2 hours to the race without pre-registering and hoping beyond hope they still had open registration.  Yeah, sometimes you just have to take those risks.
4) As the mass amounts of runners started pulling in I began to question my sanity (alright, it was questioned prior to that), I mean these people looked like they trained with Forrest Gump for Heaven's sake.  Me, I have had my NordicTrac!
5) Start line or bust I realized it was just a race and sometimes you just have to do it for the fun of it. :)

2 hours 20 minutes and 19 seconds later LET ME TELL YOU....
1) 13.1 miles is still 13.1 miles
2) 13.1 miles on trails is equivalent to 5,367,837.9 miles on the open road
3) mile 6.5 is great place to stop and de-burr (after all, there is nothing quite like the feeling of your legs being velcroed to themselves with each stride)
4) Do not have a fear of scary movies or any suspense movie that Hollywood can throw at you - there are several miles of running in solitude through the forest and around a corn field...children of the corn anyone???
5) Hills.  That is all. 
6) Make that small mountains with a 99% incline followed by another and another and another.  Now, that is all.
7) Mud. 
8) Sand.  Seriously?  Sand in the middle of a nature preserve?  Why not? After all it was only about 1.5 miles of the course!!!!
9) Path-less trails.  No, really.  When the race admin states at the beginning of the race that the trails are well marked and you will not have any issues with knowing where to go - DO NOT BELIEVE HIM!
10) Thank other random runners, who upon reaching up to you and the other confused runners, have a map on them of the course and proceed to direct you.  (Saviors these people were!)
11) Kindly notify the runners behind you of a couple logs blocking the path only to miss the well disguised tree root and perform an academy award winning James Bond style tuck and roll.  (Bruises materialize later.)
12) Begin passing the good runners as they are finishing the route and you realize there are still at least 3 miles to go.  (Confirmation that yes, perhaps, they are Forrest Gump trainees.)
13) Standing water where there should be a path.  And mud. 
14) 1 foot wide path with steep hill on one side and ravine on the other.  Opt for carefully planned long speed walking strides.  (One can never be too careful.)
15) Realize that your legs are nothing more than ten ton anchors attached to your torso and that running is not the sport for you.  Seriously, why do people do this for fun?!
16)  Get out of the "uncharted territory" and run on an actual paved path.  Don't forget to praise Jesus for modern inventions, but by this time pray also for the strength to pick up your tired legs for a while longer.
17)  Take a walk/run approach for the next 3/4-ish miles, then berate yourself for your weakness and inability to overcome the pain mentally to tough out the last bit of the course.
18) Come up to the last bend that finally has a well worded sign (as in "turn right to finish line") and feel a sense of accomplishment.
19) Think to yourself - How long was I out there?  Did I pass Hansel and Gretal?  I swear I saw a cottage made of candy.
20) Run with all you have (which at this point closely resembles a turtle trudging through peanut butter) to the finish line and celebrate another finished half marathon.

Yet, despite all of this, I still ended up with a time I wasn't overly ashamed of and a 3rd place in my age group finisher medal.  I'm calling it a win and even though, two days later, I feel like I did after running the full in May I cannot wait to do it again next year.

Now I have 12 days until my next half which is, thankfully, all open road, but also aptly named "The Haunted Hilly."  I know.  Hills...I better have one nice looking tush after this race season...HA!!!




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Struggle Within

I've taken many weeks off from writing, yes even in my private journals.  It isn't that I haven't had a desire to, quite the opposite really; it is more that I have been struggling with coming to terms with the thoughts in my head.  I won't lie, this battle, the one where I am struggling to be the confident, independent divorce is colliding with the career woman, single mom of three, who longs for a forever someone, is wearing me out.  People divorce is so very hard.  I have read countless articles, books, blogs, not to mention listened to radio programs, podcasts and other divorces' advice, but I am still not healed.   Listen to me, no matter what you may want to believe and some may convince you to believe, there is no cookie-cutter way to get through divorce.  Most especially if you were the one left hanging. 

I've fought God, myself, and others in this process.  I've had good days and horrible days.  I've had days where I thought I could conquer the world and days were I swear I'd pull the trigger on myself if I thought I could muster up the energy to load a handgun.  It's true.  Divorce will rock you to the core.  It will take everything you thought you knew about yourself and throw it in your face - in a not so gentle way.  In the wake of divorce you are going to have to find who you are on your own.  There is not a single sole on this planet who is strong enough to answer this question for you.  But it's ok, I'll understand if you are trying, I did.  That is one of the problems with being in a relationship for so many years, you lose your identity as you work to nurture those who are in your care, or at least if you are me  you do.

People I have TRIED.  I have been alone-alone and I have been together-alone.  I have sought my completeness in friends, family, and even those I gave my love.  Each time I have come up empty, more incomplete actually.  I have not found what I was looking for.  Sure, in some point of time I thought, rather felt, healed, but the truth of it is I wasn't and I know this because to this day I am still not.  I know this because of the battle within.  This battle in my head on who I am.  Of who God wants me to be.  Of what I thought and think my deepest desires are.  And then of what I think God will let my deepest desires to be. I have this supreme fear that what he lets me have and what I want will never align.  (Do not read this as I want a mansion and a million dollars.  I am not a materialistic person.)

I think I fight Him the most, I also run to Him the most.  I am sure, no, I know for a fact He wants me to turn to Him.  And I do, but honestly only after I have attempted to do it all myself.  That's me.  The girl who has had to do it all herself for so long that she learned the hard way never to count on another person for a single thing.  Oh, don't misunderstand, I've wanted to, and in my own way I've given so much of myself - emotionally, physically, and financially - in the hopes it'd be reciprocated with the same fervency, but it never is.  IT. NEVER. IS!  It seems I find myself always back to the same place.  I find the same results.  Always.  It is my life cycle.  And when I find myself there I run to Him.   I never ask Him to direct me in the midst of it all.  He does though, when I struggle, kind of like I am right now.  He tells me that I know what to do, that I know the right things and the answers to all my questions if I would just have the courage and strength to make them known.  Then I struggle with myself and the situation and continue down the same path.

I'm miserable.  Each day I want to hate the ex-Mr. even more, but can't pull myself to do it.  Instead I replay in my head all the things that I could have done differently, all the ways I could have been the woman he needed me to be during all those years in order to keep him here, but I wasn't.  Then in the next thought process I think, no, it wasn't me.  I can find my peace, I can find me, I can do this adult grown-up thing all by myself no questions asked, but truly all I end up doing is laying in a heap at the feet of Jesus pleading for the heartache and pain to go away.  Begging for him to fill the void and answer my deepest desires.  And He answers me by waiting.  Waiting!

This struggle I am in, this struggle within, the right vs. the wrong, the me vs. God, the calendar vs. eternity, it isn't going to let up.  It isn't going to go away.  No, in it all the only answer I have is to Let it go.  To give up.  To just not DO any thing...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Searching

I like scavenger hunts, always have.  I don't know if it is the thrill of finding the item on the list, or for someone like me who is a list maker, the joy of crossing off the item from the list.  When I was little and we would travel back and forth from home to the city, roughly a 3.5 hour drive (eternity for a kid), my brother or cousin and I would make up a list of things we'd have to find to pass the time - different state plates, landmarks, colors of cars, etc.  A few years ago my Sunday School class did a timed scavenger hunt around the town where our church is. We broke off into 4 man groups, all with the same list of clues and had to ultimately find the final answer.  In each of those times I can remember the smiles and the excitement and the sheer fun of the event.  However, those were just games. In life we often find ourselves searching, searching for something that can't be "crossed off a list" so-to-speak.

I'm searching people.  I've looked hard. I've looked deep. And, yes, I've looked up.  I'm finding that the harder I search the less I find.  Hear me out.  In her book, The Single Woman (SW), Mandy Hale shares, "We're all waiting for something. If you're still waiting for it, it means you're not yet ready for it, whatever "it" is, so stop looking at waiting as a punishment and start looking at it as preparation!" What does all of this have to do with searching?  Well, sometimes when searching for something you have to wait for all the clues to come together. You have to wait for the dots to connect and sometimes, sadly, you run out of time before you find everything. 

In this waiting game,  you know the one where I have repeatedly shared I wish I could have a forever someone, I'm searching for the answers to why things aren't going faster.  What "items" on this list that God has made concerning me have I not found?  What is still so broken with me, my life, my situation, that I'm not enough, not ready?  That's what it all boils down to, isn't it?  That me, myself, am not good enough for another person?  That the other person wants nothing to do with me in a forever sense, right now.  Today.  It hurts even more that I have to be here, in this place, not due to any choice of my own and while the other person is living the life they wanted I am not.  No, I'm searching, desperately searching, and longing all the more.

Have you been there?  Have you searched so hard for the answers to the pain?  For love?  For someone to share your life with?  Have you wished so hard for something, sometimes daily, that it consumes all that is in you?  I have.  This scavenger hunt is not fun for me.  This one leaves me empty and defeated, broken and without hope, void and joyless.  In the waiting there is, to a degree, supposed to be no level of doing.  Not doing in that you aren't to live your life, but not doing as in trying to hurry God along.  He has his own time in everything.  In all honesty, the hardest part in giving it over to God is placing unyielding trust in Him and that timing.  And in so doing, sin not. SIN. NOT.

SW goes on to say, "The time between when  you wish for something and when it actually comes true is a vital season.  Sometimes the moments spent waiting for something are even more important than the moment the something actually happens. And not all wishes are meant to come true. Some wishes are only there to teach us how to wait. These wishes are no less magical; they may be even more so because they bring us not an instant blessing but a lifelong lesson.  During those seasons of waiting, remember this: The stretching of your faith is immediate pain that results in ultimate gain.  It is in the waiting that we become who we are meant to be."

This leaves me to beg the question, "who, Lord, am I meant to be?"  What things do I need to cross off this list of my life?  What have I not yet found?  Why am I waiting, painfully, day-in-and-day-out for the next clue?  Will time run out before I finally get to where I'm supposed to be? The waiting is killing me, the searching even more...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Giving Up

You know that feeling you get when you have been defeated?  First, to give it perspective.  I run.  A lot. I have ran many races 5ks through to a full marathon.  In each and every one of those I have never won, but I  have also never been defeated.  Therefore, the defeat I am speaking of does not compare to this.  The defeat I am talking about is the kind when you have given everything you have, when you have tried and tried and sought and there is simply nothing left and you are left with the exact same result - nothing, that is the defeat I am speaking of. 

The kind of defeat I'm talking about leaves you empty.  No, it leaves you more than that, it leaves you void of feeling.  So much so you could almost say you are to the point of apathy.  Have you felt that kind of defeat?  If not, please know you are among the select few who know naught of the soul-crushing agony it evokes.  This is where I am.  I am void of feeling.  I am to the point where I do not know what is up nor what is down.  I do not have a grasp on what it is or where it is going.  I am simply being.  I have to be here.  I have to have no thought or feeling where it is concerned because to feel, to care, brings more hurt.

You'd ask why don't you just exit the situation?  Why don't you find the answer?  Why don't you change the direction you are going?  These, my dear lovelies, are the greatest of questions, but the answer is not so concrete.  The answer in itself would require the absence of my being as each question comes down to the same answer - it is my life.  My life is a never ending cycle of the same thing.  I long and search and strive and then, ultimately I do not get.  What I get is to accept the position I am in and I have no say in it.  I have none, because to have a say would mean that the other person does not get their way.  And I have learned long ago that the other person always gets to have their way.

I've been reading a lot.  My devotions almost daily, my Bible just as much, as well as a book by Mandy Hale called The Single Woman.  I've come to a conclusion, the harder we fight for something the less likely it is to actually become ours.    I've fought.  A lot.  Hard.  In all the words I've read I've found one continuous ideal after another, you don't have to fight for what is meant to be and God is the giver of all that is meant to be.  So I beg to ask, does God not want for me?  Oh, I know it is selfish of me.  I know there are folks with much, much more to fight for in their life, but this is my battle.  The one that I fight.

But here I am ready to give up.  Or maybe, I already have...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday School

Do any of  you remember Sunday school from when you were little?  I do.  I remember the felt board stories of those famous Bible characters and how my teachers would bring the lessons to life as they moved them about the board.  Sometimes I miss the innocence of those story boards, of those lessons.  I'd like to say, other than memorizing the story, that I remembered the meaning behind it.  Fast forward a few decades and Sunday school takes on a whole new meaning.  It gets real now people.  It takes those same stories and drives them home.  These are real things that affect real life, today. 

I've been struggling with some things for the past several weeks.  There are lessons that I had heard and didn't find their relevance and now, after many deep talks with a man that I've willing given my heart to, there are many that have a one-two punch where it comes to relevance.  I go to his church on Saturday nights and his Pastor has been preaching a series that quite frankly slams my head into a table every time I hear it.  Yes, it is that painfully powerful.  Don't misunderstand me, it isn't that he is condemning me, it is that the Holy Spirit is.  There is a difference.  It's a good series. 

On top of that in the past couple weeks, since he and I had this heart to heart, there have been many other times where I have read something, heard something on the Christian radio station, or even heard my Pastor talk on that is reiterating some things in my life.  However, none of that hit as hard as today's Sunday School passage and then ironically something the visiting Pastor preached on today.  You see I have a problem.  A major, ginormous, HUGE problem.  I don't really think I realized it until today.  It was like all of these pieces fell together into place.  All of these days that I've spent yelling at God and fighting with him on "why me?  why do I have to go through this?"  Before I let you in on what this is I do need to let you know I will be praying about this.  I will be begging God to show me that my thought process is right, after all we humans can muck things up a bit from time to time.

Today we read (ironically I was the one asked to read) from Matthew 19, verses 16-30.  If you don't know this passage is about the rich young ruler.  Essentially he had asked Jesus what he needed to do to earn eternal life.  At first Jesus questioned him on the 10 commandments, and of course this young man had kept and obeyed them all.  However, Jesus knows the heart of man more than we do, he asked him to sell off all of his possessions and follow him.  At this the rich, young ruler went away sad for he had amassed a lot of wealth.  Where some people get this passage wrong is that they think Jesus doesn't want them to have money, but that is not it at all. In fact, in that same passage, a few verses down, it says this: "And anyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children  or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."  (v29) and that is it.  It has nothing to do with wealth, but it has everything to do with that thing in your life that you have first before God.  For the rich, young ruler it was his money.  For others it is something entirely different.

For me, it is not money.  No.  And today as I read this and the tear drops were forming in my eyes I knew, I knew God was speaking to my heart as clearly as if He was sitting in front of me in that room at church.  Our teacher asked us a rhetorical question, one I think even he knew no one would share openly, what is the one thing that you place before God?  Thankfully I had a mishap with my coffee at the start of class and had a stack of paper towels at my disposal because the water works they started then.  I know what it is for me.  It is that one thing that has haunted my every waking moment since October 20, 2012.  It is my desire to be a wife.  I want to be married.  I want to know that I am someone another not only wants to, but is willing to commit the rest of their life to.   This thing drives me (both in a good way and a bad) to throw all that I am into finding it. 

Then, as if this revelation wasn't as clear as a cloudless sky today the visiting Pastor shared a story on a little boy who was downtrodden because of his back ground and one day in a church revival he heard the Pastor tell him he never had to question who his daddy was because God was his Heavenly Father.  Stay with me hear, I do have a point.  You see, he went on to tell us that people who don't know whose they are, will never know who they are.  And all the while trying to find who they are they will take that one thing that drives them in life and let it cloud out the whose they are.  People. Oh. My. Word.  By this time I was crying tears into my littlest littles hair (I was holding her while my other two littles sat to either side of me). 

A million messages and even more lessons came flooding into my head.   You know, God tested Abraham's faith.  He asked him to sacrifice the one thing, above all others, that he had wanted in life.  In the end it wasn't to see if Abraham would do it, but to show Abraham how strong his faith really was.  Now, I would LOVE to sit here and think that perhaps all that God is asking me to do is sacrifice this one thing that I want more than anything to Him and in so doing He will give me it in the end, but you and I both know that God doesn't work like that.  He works like He works for a reason.  And those reasons do not have to make one lick of sense to us, nor do they have to be something that we like.  In fact, all we are called to do is trust in Him, rely on His timing, and to wait on the Lord.

This is where I am.  I know that God is not asking me, he is telling me that I need to give up this desire of my heart.  That a husband isn't what I will have.  This crushes my heart to no end.  This breaks me in ways that I cannot even begin to explain.  It makes me question so much on why I wasn't pretty enough, smart enough, popular enough, worthy enough, and many, many more enoughs to be allowed to be a wife.  However, what I know and He knows even more than me is that I put the men in my life above Him.  Not intentionally, but when I love I love completely and fully and with every ounce of my being.  So much so that it breaks me and causes me to rush and jump and push and then, fall. 

So here I sit, with the tears running down my face knowing that all I get to do is let go.  I get to sit and watch all the other girls get the guy, get married, have anniversaries and I have to be happy for them. I have to smile through the pain and know that because this isn't the thing that God has to teach them that they get to have forever with another person.  Me, well, I will more than likely cry a lot more over the time that the Lord needs to take me through this and during that I suppose that if I fight back he'll tack on more time.  (Much like a parent does with their child when they are in time out. Oh how I wish this would only be 5 more minutes instead of an unknown timeline.)  But God knows best, right?  I just hope that this woman that He is trying to make out of me will someday be good enough to enter into Heaven because right now she is so broken she'd love to go there today so as not to feel the breaking, aching pain in  her heart.

 
Just to let you know, that in my humanness I will fail on this.  I will have days where I feel that I am doing this thing right and then there will be days when I will fall to the ground and bawl like a baby.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Does Trust Hurt So Bad?

People, I'm a hot mess.  I'd like to say it was all because of something new that is happening in my life, but it isn't; it is the same thing. In the past few weeks and in the next couple, many of my friends have either gotten married or are celebrating their wedding anniversaries.  While, yes, I am happy for them and have celebrated with them (attended said nuptials) I am broken over where I am.  I am 84 days away from the 2 year mark!  2 years people!  I know, I can hear you all now saying "that is all?  Give it time Mandy, give it time."  Of course, so that you know, those of you saying this are also the ones who I have celebrated with and congratulated in these past weeks.  In other words - YOU HAVE NO PERSPECTIVE ON HOW THIS FEELS!  Seriously, people who have not been on the receiving end of a divorce DO. NOT. KNOW.  HOW. IT. FEELS!  And, for those who are remarried from a previous divorce (regardless of which side) have simply forgotten the pain that is associated with it.  After all, they are  now in another committed relationship. 

I'm tired of the tears.  I'm tired of the constant fighting and struggling with God over this.  Yes, I fight with Him.  Yes, I know I will never be the victor.  He is, after all God and I am merely a person - and a broken one at that, but fight I do.  Why?  Well, it all comes down to this, this one simple thing right here - Why?  Why am I so undeserving, unlovable, unwanted, un-every-cotton-picking-thing-in-the-world that God wouldn't allow me to have a husband?  Or at least one that stayed? For those of you that want to sit there and say things like, "at least you got to have one" or "at least your children still get to see their dad" and any such thing like that, well, thanks, but no thanks.  That DOES. NOT. HELP.  In fact, that makes things worse.  How you might ask?  Because that is the daily reminder that I was a conscious decision to be thrown away. 

So, I've come to a decision on what I am going to do.  I'm giving up.  It hurts, but I have no other choice.  The Bible has said that I should delight myself in the Lord and He will give me the desires of my heart.  It also says that God loves me so much.  And more still it says I should trust the Lord in all things.  I want to tell you  that I am that woman right now, but I am  not.  I am so very, very far from her at this point in time.  In fact, if I were to be honest I don't know if I will ever find her again.  Oh, don't misunderstand what I am saying.  I still believe 100% in my Lord and Savior.  I still believe that He died for my sins.  But I have nothing in me that believes He cares one lick for how broken I am.  I don't believe that He truly cares for the pain and longing that I feel.  I also don't believe that He will ever allow me to experience the joy and beauty of the sanctity of marriage again. 

If I liked cats I'd probably be a cat lady.  Oh, you can go on and on about how I need to get off this pity party, but it isn't that.  No, this is bigger than that and you are missing the point if that is what you are focusing on.  The point to this is that God does NOT give us the desires of our hearts.  So I'm left with simply, God and Him alone.  I am stuck being a 36-year old, single mother of 3 girls who wants nothing more than to be good enough for a forever someone.  And the good Lord knows above all else what I want, but I know He isn't Santa and well, Christmas only comes for others.  So, that leaves me with one last thing to share.

I'll continue to love the Lord because He loved me enough to save me from my brokenness and for that, truly, there is no other thing in life worthwhile.  I'll find a way to be okay always being the single friend.  I'll find a way to find me, myself, a worthy companion.  I'll find a way to be content with the woman I am.  I will find a way to be ok with being alone.  And one of these days, I WILL find a way to trust God. After all, the Bible also tells us:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From the Rearview

I began this post on June 25th.

A year in the rearview...

Most folks do a year in review January first, because you know, it signifies the beginning of a new year, a new beginning, new opportunities.  Well, as you know, I'm not "most folks!" I decided to use today as my year in review.  Not because I think I am above or different or anything of the sort, but because quite clearly it has been one year.  One year that my divorce has been final - that is as of yesterday. Also, yesterday being my birthday.

You know there were so many things that I learnt last year. So many lessons, so many things I found.  Things I found out about myself, things I wished I wouldn't have found out about myself. Things I found out about others, things that you really find what others are made of - not just yourself.  This past year has just been one of many ups and many downs. Time and again people equate life to a roller coaster; I think it's a great visual.  I mean for those who have been to Cedar Point and seen the multitude of roller coasters styles you can, at some point, take that picture and put it into your life.  And you can say, yes, right there.  Right there I was climbing that steep hill and right there is where I was just free falling, there's the loopty-loop, and there, there is where it ended.  But I got back on - again. And I think that is where I am at.

I am at that point where I don't want to get on this roller coaster again.  I don't even want to tell you I want to get in line for a different one. I know life is going to put me in a queue.  I'm going to get in there and I am going to be behind somebody else who's going to be on the same roller coaster, but they are going to have a very different experience of it. But that is what this is people, my experience of the roller coaster I just got off of. This is me looking back and reflecting upon what I have seen, what I have heard, what I have been through.  The joys, the sorrows, the pains, the heartache, the truths - yes, all three sides of it, and most importantly the glory.  The glory of a Father who never gave up on me even in those times when I gave up on him.

And I did. I gave up on him because I didn't want to listen, because I wanted to ride that roller coaster. I wanted to do it without a seat belt, in the front cart with my hands in the air shouting "look at me, I've got this thing!" In the end, I should have been in the middle, safely strapped - not following, not leading, but enjoying. 

Today, nearly a month after speaking this into my phone for me to type out later, I realize so much more about that year.  I realize how I failed myself because of some of the choices that I made and wish that I would have been stronger.  I wish that I would have listened to that still small voice and paid attention to all of those red flags, but I didn't.  No, what I did was let the loneliness of my situation overcloud my judgment and forego the lies for truths.  That is a hard pill to swallow.  The knowing and the wishing.  However, there is no going back in life.  There is no do-over, no mulligan.  There is taking the picture in the rearview and going forward from it.  There is knowing which queues to get into and which ones to avoid.

I may not be where I want to be today, but I do know that I have come very far.  I also know that I have lost some of the blessings that God had reserved for me because of my defiance and because of that I will never know what He had planned for me.  Those are my regrets.  I wish I would have stayed strong enough to let God be God.  Instead I am where I am, glancing in the rearview.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

When Angels Sing

One year.  That is what it has been since my grandma went home to sing with Jesus.  I miss her.  I know wanting her back is completely selfish on my part, but I do. I want her back.  She was the only "adult" in my life that truly got me.  (Yes, my bestie does, but really, it's not exactly the same.) Have you ever had that person you could call up and talk to for an hour (or more) about anything and everything and even though some of the stuff that you are telling them you know is stuff they should probably be giving you a tongue lashing for, they don't?  That was grandma.  Don't get me wrong, she'd give her advice, but only when asked.  I miss that.  I miss having someone I can talk to that understands the way my brain works, but understands more the truth of God's word and how to put the two together.  I'm sure that sounds weird and altogether out there, but grandma knew the Bible and when something didn't add up, despite her obvious short-comings, she was quite good at bringing you back to where the truth of it all lays.

I think it must be a special trait of grandparents, you know, to finally have that wisdom on how to love someone fully and not sit there and criticize their every move or to tell them what they should be doing or how to do it, because that is the way she was for me.  I wish Heaven had a phone because I long to hear her voice again.  I'd love to hear her say Mandy-maw one more time.  Then I'd just wait for her to tell me about all the new friends she has made, about how beautiful everything is, and yes, how she could finally sing!!!  Then I'd ask her for help - help to sort out what it is that I need to do.  How I am supposed to stay strong and independent and raise 3 little girls all by myself and not mess up financially and more importantly with just raising them right.  And they she'd sit there and tell me to just trust, that I'm probably not doing such a bad job now, but when it's hard and it hurts it is hard to see that.

And it is.  It is hard to see that.  Then I'd tell her how the girls are doing.  My biggest little with her breathtaking singing voice and her amazing artistic talent, my middle little who when she smiles her face lights up a room and how her team just one the division soccer tournament, and my littlest little who is so full of ornery and giggles and can say things that make a room erupt in laughter.  Then I'd tell her that it was a rough couple years being single and even harder not having her to talk to.  Then I'd say, but I'm here and God has kept me safe.  That I've set goals for myself and I've achieved them, that I've pushed myself too hard too and I have had to stop running so I could heal.  That I've met a man that just maybe will want me for forever and that I think she would really like him too.  That I miss the feel of her hugs and her blasted diet Pepsi cans laying all over. 

Even though there is so much more that I would love to share with her, I know that where she is now she is no longer in pain.  She is singing, praising, loving, laughing, and learning all at the feet of Jesus.  And I know that when angels sing, her voice is amongst them.

I love you grandma.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Bit of Follow-Up

The other night I was in a great deal of emotional pain regarding this topic of being a step-mom.  I've had a couple of days to think about it and calm down.  You see, I know that no matter what, God has my back.  That even though I may not have wanted a divorce and as surely as divorce is not what God wants, it happens.  And because it happens, God gives people second chances at forever.  Sure, nothing is ever the same, but that doesn't mean there can't be something new and special and in some cases a greater blessing because of it.

However, another thing I know is that it is going to be work.  A LOT OF WORK.  I know that; just like all the other things that can go wrong in life, all the other battles, struggles, and lessons to learn from in life, this is just another example.  I also know that God doesn't send us out into the world without first giving us the means to find the answers.  In fact, He gave us the answers before we even knew what the questions were going to be.  That is what I have come to these past couple of days. 

You know when I said I was yelling at God and asking Him why He hated me so much?  Well, He couldn't answer me straight away because I wasn't going to really listen to Him.  I was inconsolable. (For those of you with a small child you know EXACTLY what this looks like!)  I know now what it is that I need to do.  I need to go to the one place that has all the answers.  Now, granted, I can't just look up in the index for the subject "How to step-parent" because those weren't the words used per say all those years ago, but I know that they existed.

How do I know?  Well, the Bible speaks of death and divorce.  These two things are as old as time to some degree.  And sure as the sun will come up tomorrow there were children affected by those very things from that time as well.  So, I think that in God's word He has guidance and instruction for those of us who need them for this reason.  I mean, why not?  He is God.  He knew before time began the world we would be in.  The words that He wrote were put there for our use and application today, just as much as they were for the people of the time.  It is, after all, the living word of God. 

Another thing that struck me in all of this were the words said to my by my cousin after reading the original post.  I need to let you know, I love this woman.  She says, "it takes a strong woman to be a step-mom, which I know you are.  Maybe everything we have gone through in life so far was strengthening us for this." People, this is it!  God doesn't give the hard jobs to the faint of heart.  He gives the hard jobs to the fighters, the strong willed, the ones He knows will do the best they can to love those that weren't theirs from the start.  And that is just it, I may not be the biological mom, but I will be the step-mom their dad CHOSE for them.  I will NOT be "the other woman" because some therapist somewhere said that is all I will ever be.  NO!  I will be a woman who God chose to carry the burden of loving more children than he blessed her with biologically.  I will be the woman who gets the honor of more than every other weekend, because I have the honor of showing them that love doesn't have to only be given to those you birthed.

Then, after that, after I have lived my days with these new blessings, with the joys (and pains) of raising my 3 Littles alongside those of my future husband's I just hope God will smile at me and say, "I knew you could do it.  I made you strong enough just for this and you didn't fail.  When it was hard and it hurt and when there was no thank you or care given in return you did it anyway.  And because of that, Mandy, you have shown them what it truly means to love like I do."  So, with that, all you step-moms out there, all you women who are already on the road to becoming one, and all you women that, like me, pray for the honor of someday getting to be one, just remember, God only gives the toughest battles to those He knows will fight the good fight.

Now, if I may, I have some Littles to love and a smile of hope to share.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Talk Radio

I am not normally the kind of person who seeks out talk radio.  I've tried.  I mean really, really hard to listen to it, and in the listening to it I've tried even harder to like it.  Some days I can say that I did (like it), others, well, not so much.  I listen to a local Christian radio station. I have had many times when just at the right time the right song would come on the radio and speak to my heart concerning a particular situation that I am dealing with.  So naturally, today, as I was driving to work (much later than normal because I had an appointment) and heard the topic of the mid-morning talk radio I was ecstatic.  I mean, here was something for me to learn from.  Something for me to take and grow from.   Something that I knew would benefit me in the future.  The topic?  101 Tips on being a Step-Mom.

I would be lying if I didn't say about 5 minutes into it I didn't want to change it.  I did.  I did not like what the family therapist had to say.  I had even less to like regarding her delivery tactics.  I am sure there was a modicum of truth to her statements, but in the end I was left feeling like less of a woman because I was never going to be anyone of importance in the life of my future husband's family.  To that end, I was left with knowing that I will forever be "the other woman" in not only the children's lives, but also in his family's.  That the only role that I was allowed to have in any way shape or form was that of a care giver, and yes, if I was so inclined to do so, rather as I am commanded to do, I am to love those I care for, but never once should I expect it in return or be allowed to feel anything towards any dismissive behaviors that may be sent my way. But wait, there is a small ray of light, I am, as an adult woman, allowed to have one thing, and that is only by asking my future husband to have the conversation with his children, and that is respect.

Now, before you blow up this post with your comments, do not for one second read into any of this that I think I should be their mother.  Good heaven's no.  That is just ridiculousness right there, but I would hope that if I am guiding, teaching, loving, sharing, providing, caring for them the exact same as I do my own, I would at least think I was worthy of more than just the title of "the other woman."   This gem of a woman also went on to sprinkle the finely ground salt onto the already gaping wound of my now crushed heart and said that in no way, shape, or form could I ever expect my blended family to ever resemble that of a biological family and to that end I should never expect my future spouse to relate to me as more than an adult to be respected in front of his children.  That I essentially have no choice but to accept my role and if I truly loved my future husband I would not want for anything but to hold this role as it is - a woman who cares for and provides for, but has no audible voice or feelings.  Essentially, I am to step into the background and then be ready and available when they are ready to invite me into their lives.  Never once am I allowed to invite myself in.

I need to let you know. I cried.  Then I bawled.  Then all during my work day I seethed.  Then after work I broke down, so much so I couldn't drive for almost 10 minutes.  After that I started praying and the tears kept flowing as I yelled at God.  I asked him why he hated me so much that I would never get the honor of having a family again.  Why I wasn't good enough to be a part of a family.  He didn't answer me of course.  It is ok. In fact, as I drove the whole way home crying, I knew in my head that He is strong enough to hear my words and accept the pain of them.  But I wasn't done with my tirade - the one to Him and the one against myself.  I felt hate today.  Hate of the strongest kind.  I believe for the first time ever since the ex-Mr. walked out of my life, I hated him.  Today.  Why?  Because he took my biological family away from me, he took the family bond away.  And now, now I will never get to be a family with someone again.  Instead my Littles and I are afforded this awkward jigsaw puzzle that if I hold my role just right, maybe in some cosmic way, the pieces will fit us together for all the brief seconds the other puzzle piece allows it to.

And that is where I am.  Stuck.  Stuck knowing, yet again, I was not worthy of forever, that I wasn't good enough for a forever family, that I get to get what I get and I cannot throw a fit.  Alright, you can scold me know if you want to. I am sure in someone's eyes I am being completely unreasonable.  I do want to say that I was reminded on one thing.  Of a single thing that she said, that blended family's are always brought together by loss; whether that loss was death or divorce.  Oh, lady, do I ever know.  Yet, it appears that the losses get to keep piling up, at least from my point of view.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Focusing on the Right Picture

I have had a rough few weeks. This morning, as I was sitting in church, it  hit me that I was focusing on the wrong picture.  Here's the thing, I know that in the pursuit of finding some peace in the past year and 8 months I have actually taken some of that away from myself.  I was looking at the things that I don't have, the things I can't do, and the people that I have lost. Today God reminded me of something far more important. Today He reminded me that we are each unique.  We are each going through something and that, yes, though it hurts it is the person at the end of it that He is trying to form.  I know it may seem weird, but I found comfort in that, and in so doing realized that even with all the don'ts and can'ts I have a beautiful list of do's and have's.

1. I am divorced = I do not have a husband.  This is true, I don't.  But I did have the honor once of being a bride and a wife.  Many do not get this, for whatever reason.  Even now, when it is something that I miss and long for, I know that God has the perfect man for my future and while He is working in me, He is also working in him.  (Not to mention I do have a super sweet, incredibly handsome, and heartwarmingly thoughtful and caring boyfriend!)

2.  I have an injured knee = I cannot run.  People, me, I CAN. NOT. RUN!  I'm dying here for this simple reason. While it is true that until I know what is wrong (just had an MRI) I have to lay off on the running, I do have something amazing to show for it.  I ran a marathon.  I ran, with an injury, 26.2 miles.  Yes, for fun.  And, even though I didn't get the time that I had been training for, I ran across that finish line.  I completed the race and received my medal.  I am now a marathoner.  NO ONE can take that away from me.  NO ONE.

3. I lost my grandma = Heaven got an amazing woman.  Almost a year ago she went home to sing to Jesus; yes, even in her severely off-key voice!  I miss her more and more each of these passing days.  These days when I wish I had an older woman, who I know would never once judge me, but lovingly listen and only offer advice if I actually asked, to talk to. I miss the sound of her voice and the way she used to call just to say "I love you."  I really need her advice.  I really need her.  But, instead, I have the privilege to say I got nearly 35 years with her in my life.  I will forever be her Mandy-maw.  And no matter what she will always be the best grandma a girl could ever ask for.  God was so good to me by giving her to me.

4.  I have gained 20 pounds = I am getting fat y'all!  Seriously.  This lack of running and increased eating for all the training I was doing in the many months leading up to my marathon have left me, well, looking horrific.  However, what I do know is that I know how to fix it.  I know what to do to get my health back on track.  And even though I  have gained 20 pounds I am STILL 42 pounds lighter than I was this time 2 years ago!  It is really all in the way I look at it.  I can get there again.

This list could go on and on.  There are so many things that have really gotten to me as of late, but each time they have come to my mind today I couldn't for the life of me think of a reason to let them tear me down.  In each of the things, I had a blessing.  Whether it be because something good came of it, or because something better is still yet to come.  I know that God loves me and that He always knows what is best for my life.  That just because there is a lot of hurt and pain and frustration, a lot of confusion, longing, and tears, does not mean that He isn't making the best Mandy out of me. 

I'd like to tell you that this lesson isn't one he would need to revisit, because I am totally sure it is, but for today, Pentecost Sunday, I find that the Lord has given me so much more than a simple lesson reminder.  He has given me a smile, a full heart, and the reassurance of His love.

May you all have a blessed week.

Love, M