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,

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