Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Little Food For Thought

I'm reading in Exodus right now.  I have to tell you, the names of the people in ancient times were something else!  I love the old testament stories.  I love reading about all the ways God cared for His people, about how He made ordinary people into leaders and protectors of His people.  I love reading how much God loves us.  It is absolutely amazing.

There is something else that is absolutely amazing to me - the way His people missed all the ways they were being loved and cared for.  Now, I'd like to tell you I would never, ever in a million years behave, react, or otherwise compromise the blessings the way the Israelites did in the Old Testament.  However, I am most certain telling you that would be a farce.  You see, I do.  I do behave and act the way they did.  I do compromise the blessings I have been given the way they did.  How?  Let's look.

In Chapter 16 the Lord tells Moses he is going to provide some food each day for the Israelites.  Wait, let's back up.  Here are thousands of men, women, and children, along with all their livestock and household necessities, traveling to this far off place called, "The Promise Land". These people have just spent many years in brutal, harsh slavery in Egypt and now they get to live the good life.  God uses Moses and Aaron to take this group to their destination. We are at the beginning of this journey - God had just parted a sea and let them walk across it on dry land and then closed it up behind them to protect them from their slave owners.  WOW!  He totally had their backs.   I guess where I'm going with that is this - if He can make a dry path through a sea, He can totally provide food for His people.

However, I think this story is a lot less about what God can do and more of how we perceive it.  Work with me here.  These people were on a long walk.  They were tired, hot (traveling through a desert can do that to you), and hungry.  I don't know about you but when I get hungry I get a wee bit testy.  You could use the word, hangry if you'd like. I am most certain these people were just as hangry. Multiply that by thousands and you pretty much have a lynch mob on your hands.  What do they do?  They complain.  Yep.  Stellar, thumbs-up move.  By the way, I have Littles, I am quite accustomed to this phenomenon of complaining.  (HA!)

Moses and Aaron take the full brunt of this complaining too.  Despite that, Moses puts them in their place.  He calls them out on their antics - "Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord." (16:8b) He knew what was up.  Here these folks were being given manna in the morning and quail at night.  Given.  As in the quail were just wandering freely for the taking and the manna was there, covering the ground each day.  I mean, free food - why grumble, right?!  God gave these things with 2 stipulations - one, they could only take what they could eat each day except for the 6th day where they could take double portions and two, on the seventh day they were to rest.  "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions'." (16:4)  Sounds easy enough to me.  What could possibly go wrong?!

Yet some did.  They tried taking more.  And in so doing it would get maggots and stink to high heaven (pardon the pun).  Yuck to the Nth degree and then some.  Why on Earth, if they knew they had enough each day, and there would always be provisions for the next, would they store the stuff up?  Here is what I think and how it all made sense to me:

How many times have you crammed for something?  Like a test?  I am the best at this.  I wait, wait, wait, and then cram in as much as I can last minute to help me to my destination (acing the test, presenting my idea, etc).  I'd like to think this worked well for me throughout my schooling.  It did too, until my last degree, but that is neither here nor there. Like the Israelites, I tend to cram.  After all, a single dose of cramming is far easier than a daily dose of doing, right?  Wrong! We're going to take this up a notch now.  We still have seven days in a week.  For those of us who do, we use Sunday as our day of worship and time with God.  This day, the last day where we are to rest, we use it to cram in as much of the word of God as we can so that we have provisions for the rest of the week.  Here's the thing.  It doesn't work that way.  Nope, not a lick.  In fact, it gets filled with maggots and stink.

Now, it isn't the truths we hear on Sunday that is bad, it is the environment we take it into that pollutes it.  (Kind of like the rocky, weed infested soil in the New Testement.)  But God gives us a daily provision.  He has given us His word and His spirit.  Each day we can spend time in the word, filling up on the truths He has for us and each day we can talk freely with and come before Him.  You see, we don't need to cram for (or store up) provisions on a single day, we can take what we need each and every day to grow stronger and healthier.  Why is this so important?

We will all, at some point in our lives, walk through a desert time.  Some of us will have a short trip and some of us will get a 40-year experience. Neither scenario is worse than or better than the other, it just simply is what it is. Regardless of the length of the stay, our God is unchanging.  He is unwavering in His love for us and He is undoubtedly steadfast in His provisions for us.  While I don't see us out chasing a quail or gathering manna in a ceramic jar, I do see us opening His word and bowing our heads.  Daily. 

Hope you have a good week and get plenty to eat ;)


Sunday, June 11, 2017

While Making Other Plans

I think the hardest thing as an adult is accepting life happens while you are making other plans. It is frustrating, to say the least. It isn't that I feel I should be entitled to any one thing in particular, but that I should be able to have something go my way - even if it is every once in a while.  I've held on to the dream of becoming a teacher for so many years.  In fact, the idea of teaching is one that I get horribly emotional about.  To me, teaching is the most important profession, the noblest and most honorable one too.  After all, without teachers, no one can become what they become.  Think on that.  However, be as it may, that is not the reason I have always wanted to teach.  No.  I have always wanted to teach because I love to share knowledge with others.  I love to read something and learn something new, then pass it on to others. I cannot say I am the best at it because frankly, I've never had the opportunity in a structured way to actually do it.

Now, all that said, in the months following the completion of my MBA, I have hit several closed doors.  One could even say brick walls - simply because they hurt more. I have applied to many universities and colleges, even my Alma Mater. All of which have been to no avail.  I did get a promising hit a couple months ago, I even went through a rigorous process only to not hear back - neither in the affirmative or negative.  It's a good thing I can read between the lines!  In addition to all of this, I have come to learn that our state has some pretty interesting rules for becoming a teacher.  I have a degree that allows for an alternative license, but I have to have a year of teaching (not substitute) to be eligible or I have to go back and get another degree.  The only benefit of my current education in that option being I won't have to take the big test at the end!

So, what does all of that have to do with anything?  Not too much really other than I think sometimes closed doors are for our own good.  Sometimes we can have passions and desires, hopes and dreams in life but that doesn't mean we have what it takes to arrive at them.  And it is ok!  Sure it hurts but it isn't the end of the world.  I have learned that taking the working world approach to my education has helped me appreciate the value of my education even if it was at the expense of my dreams.  That said, I know too, that the Lord didn't give me the Spiritual Gift of Teaching for nothing.  I trust He has the exact thing already mapped out for me, I just only have to wait. See, I am still the student!  It is a good thing that I love to learn.

I guess what I am trying to share is that no matter what you want in life unless God is someone you want more you will always be disappointed and hurt.  I won't lie, there are days I hate myself for not having my dream job, but I am finding it easier and easier to let go of as these days turn one into another.  Instead of hurting, I am working to find thanks in it all.  Here I was given a gift and passions and I know, without a doubt, God has a plan for it all.  It just appears mine and His aren't the same.  Praise the Lord for this, that means the plan is perfect...I just have to wait for the details to come through.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

This, That, and a Mountain of Random

I have been a little MIA lately.  Things around here have been a wee bit crazy over the past month or so.  We have hosted 2 Japanese exchange students, I've finally gotten my knee fixed, and well, life with five Littles is just plain busy! I had hoped to use these days I'm home alone to get some blogging, writing, drawing, and reading done.  Actually, I've managed to dabble in all of it...the operative word being dabble.  I'm still reading Andy Stanley's, "The Best Question Ever".  I'm still working on putting words to the outline of the book I'm writing.  I'm still watching you-tube for drawing lessons and tips, and well, you are reading the efforts of the blogging.

I've come to realize that in all the things we want to do in life there is rarely the right amount of time to actually do them.  I have so much I want to accomplish and so many goals I have set for myself, yet I am struggling to get them done.

Another thing that has been on my mind lately is vlogging.  I know!  I have spent so many years writing to you all, why switch mediums?  Well, youtube is pretty much awesome. However, I don't know how to create a video, edit it, and submit it to the site.  Basically, I am a tech novice which is why I type. Ha!  But I am quite certain there is a video for that...oh great, another rabbit hole to fall down!!!!

I mentioned above that I have an outline for a book.  I have 2 outlines actually.  Yes, for two completely different books.  I will hold off on the topics, for now, they are still mine to develop and I'm not ready to share.  However, they are two completely different books with the same issue as the root for each.  Essentially they are like a part one and part two of a series.  No, they are not fiction.  I'm not really all that into story books anymore.  I'll read an occasional whodunnit, but otherwise, I like to keep it real.   Ergo, the genre I am writing is as such. 

I've like being crafty since I was a little girl; blame that on my maternal grandmother.  Actually, all the women and men on my mom's side of the family are epically crafty people - just with different mediums.  Some have turned them into careers (owning their own businesses) and some just do it for the fun of it.  I haven't spent enough time on any one thing to hone a skill, per se, but lately, have longed to spend more time focusing on word art.  I love letters.  What can I say?! 

What things do you enjoy doing?  What goals do you have?  How do you go about finding the time to do them?

Take it easy,
- M

Answers to Prayer

(Start date: April 11, 2017) I am reading in Ephesians - plodding along in this Bible reading, I am!  I have been trying to read at least two to four chapters a morning.  I'm not exactly sure why this is the route I am taking, only that it is.  (Eh, we all have those weird things we do - just because!)  However, this morning I was unable to get past chapter one. Have you ever read something over and over, at different times, and never really clicked with what you were reading?  Kind of like high shool physics?  My biggest Little is in Physics, this momma is so proud of her super smart-ness, but I absolutely have no ability to help her...I get the basics, what goes up must come down, yadda-yadda-yadda.  It is through an understanding like that I think many of us read the Word.  I know I do at times because I simply don't "get it" most of the time.  Now, unlike Physics where I can take it or leave, choosing the later in my case, you kind of can't do that with scripture.  (We'll get into that in a different post.)  Which is why I am glad I chose to read on and not miss today's time in the Word.

Ephesians 1:11 says, "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will..." 

Have you ever been chosen for something? Like a part in the school play?  A spot on the school sports team?  A fun project at work? You get where I am going with this.  It feels good to be chosen for something.  I mean, in those cases I bet it feels something like being on top of the world like you could do just about anything.  As my biggest little would say, "I got this fam!" Now, what about being chosen for something a little less exciting. Have you ever been chosen to take the trash to the curb?  Walk your brother or sister to the bus stop? To sort through 3 years of receipts to find the root cause of demurrage charges?  (Ok, the last one may be personal!) Do you kind of notice how the first three sound like a lot of fun and the second three sound an awful lot like, well, work?


How does all of this play into answered prayers? I'm sure, like me, you have prayed for something.  Perhaps you prayed for the part in the play, to be on the sports team, or even to be on the project team at work.  In any fashion, we've all, at some point in time, prayed for an outcome - to get something, to get through something, to be something... Me, I'm no different.  I wouldn't say I pray more or less than anyone else, only that I pray.  Here's the thing today's scripture put into place for me about those prayers - God answers them.  Each and every one of them.  Yes, he does.  Even those that don't seem to be answered, He answers them.  Here is how I know.

Many years ago, long before I had Littles of my own, I used to pray and pray and pray for a family - someone to love me unconditionally.  (Honestly, I prayed this long before I really knew who I was praying this to or the importance of my relationship with said person.)  God didn't answer those prayers at that time, but a few years later I became a mom.

I have three daughters.  Some may think that is a curse, but I believe it is a treasure.  (Again, a post for another time.) However, each time I found out I was going to have a child (and even when I was praying for them to come - see above) I prayed and prayed for a boy.  I am not certain why I felt this desire to only have a boy, but hey, I did.  Each time I found out it was a girl, I wept.  Terribly. I was going to miss out on football and dinosaurs and basketball and cowboys and baseball and monster trucks and....I think you get it.  Then the Lord gave me two step-sons.

As a teenager and a young woman in my twenties, I prayed fervently for a man to love who was not only there for me but was my best friend.  I wanted someone who I could talk with, spend time with, laugh with, enjoy life with, and so on.  Early on, I didn't know enough to ask for a man who knew the Lord, I just knew I wanted a friend. I made mistakes with this, we all can. It took a lot of heartache and pain, some caused by me and some that happened to me.  (Read the end of 2012 through the end of 2014 for the bulk of it.) But God has answered this prayer.  More importantly, as I got into my thirties, this prayer changed to add in a man who loved and sought after the Lord. Mine does.

There are many more instances where I have prayed for something and it has come to pass, albeit in a manner I never would have thought, but I'm certain it is rooted in perfection - not mine, but His.  Then there are prayers which have gone unanswered, in my eyes, but are true answers none-the-less.  I suppose where I am going with this is that perspective is so much more necessary in the praying process than time.  Time is a given, it will lapse regardless of your desire for it to do so, but perspective is something you have control of and it certainly helps to place that perspective through the lens of Word.

However, if time is something you'd rather control...I'm most certain there is a physics problem out there for that. ;)

Don't stop praying.  He hears you.  He loves you.  He cares for you.  He knows what is best for you.  (Just so you know, I'm going to take a moment to head my own advice on this one.)

- M

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thought Processes

It's been a few days!  Honestly, I've been writing a lot more in my spiritual journal than anything else.  Not that I don't have much to say, it's that lately I haven't had much to share.  That happens, doesn't it?  Do you ever find sometimes it is better to keep to yourself than not?  Without a doubt, it is an interesting dynamic and one which requires intentionality.  In fact, this is somewhat the basis for what I am writing about today.  There is a verse of scripture I have loved for a long while; one that I pull out and ruminate on from time to time.  This morning, again for the first time, I have read it in the full context of Paul's third letter to the church. 2 Corinthians verse 9 says, "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."  

People, those that have read this blog of mine since its inception and those who happened to stumble upon this through the help of Google, I have a weakness.  I think we all do, but that is neither here nor there, this post is admittedly about me.  This weakness of mine causes me to spiral into the deepest pits of depression, it causes me to cover everything under a cloak of darkness - a seemingly doomsday approach to the actual goings-on.  This weakness takes reality and twists it so completely out of alignment it is hard to discern the facts from my perception of them.  This weakness has caused me to lose days, weeks, and sometimes months of my life.  Sadly, it has also caused me to lose friendships, opportunities, and the joy of the simple things in life.  People, this weakness of mine is crippling.

As I wrote in my Spiritual Journal this morning, this weakness locks me up in a prison and keeps me bound; the more I struggle the tighter it holds me.  This weakness is a battlefield which is in a constant state of war - most often at the worst possible times - times when I should be focusing on important things, like work, family, and responsibilities.  The saddest part of it all is when the war spills over and manifests itself in other ways - ways that let others in on the weakness's power over me. Oh, the horrible power it has. 

My biggest weakness isn't chocolate, alcohol, shopping, or anything of that nature.  No, those are the results of a war that has spilled over.  My greatest weakness is the thought processes inside my head. I am remiss to control them.  They bind me up so tightly that for days on end I struggle to breathe.  I find one specific idea and it becomes the catalyst for the next battle. These battles start out small, then shot after shot is taken in my mind and before I know it, what was fact becomes a contorted view of reality. Don't misunderstand this for proper discernment of a situation. No, this is when perception overrides logic when reason is cast aside for folly.  There are proper times and places for analyzing your circumstance, to weigh your role in an outcome, but in other times it is a non-essential step that clouds your ability to function.

This is where I get stuck.  I get stuck between the actual and the perceived.  I run them through a filter that is clogged with feelings of inadequacy, fear, self-loathing, jealousy, and insecurity.  When I do this the war becomes tipped to the other side, even when I think I have the winning blow.  I am not fighting an actual fight but fighting against the one thing I truly want - acceptance. But I'm fighting it through wrong views.  (It's kind of like trying to drive while using someone else's glasses - you might get there, but you're going to cause some damage on the way.)

I want to tell you that by simply admitting this, I have control.  I very much do not.  However, I will tell you in the past couple of weeks I have taken a step back in the fight.  I've not charged the front line. I've set the battle equipment down and I've prayed.  I've prayed so hard at times tears have reduced my ability to actually see.  I've done this at work, while driving my van, and when sitting in my living room.  Although I've not come out the victor at these times, I have removed a lot of the initial thought process that filtered their way through and in so doing I have mitigated an ugly fight - one where I was, without a doubt, going to come up the loser.

Friends, I don't tell you this to have a negative view of me, that is for you to decide on your own.  I tell you this because weaknesses can destroy you.  It is so easy to put ownership of something on another.  Sure, we all like self-preservation, but what that does is intensify the situation by creating the exact opposite response you are "fighting" for.  But...oh the glorious riches the word "but" can bring.  We do not have to go to battle alone.  We have the power of the one who thought the world needed us.  Give your weakness to Him.  He is so much better at handling it than you ever will be.  I'm learning this, albeit very slowly.  After all, my weakness has become my security blanket.  

I want you to know, those good days - they are not because I have conquered this thing, but only because He that is in me is stronger than I am - and I've stepped aside long enough to give Him the control.  (FYI - I'm exceedingly bull-headed, strong-willed, and down right an Alpha...who knew the difficulty this would provide?! Ha!)

Don't be afraid of your weakness, give it to the one who can make you stronger in spite of it! You might just find the person on the other side is a much better version of the one you were trying to become on your own.  Well, that is what I am hoping for - in my case at least.

- M

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tug O War

I am currently reading in Romans; I just finished with chapter 7.  The Bible I use was a gift to me from my Mr. when we were dating - he gave it to me for my birthday. I haven't had it for too many years, but long enough that I have started to stumble upon verses I've highlighted and words I've jotted in the margins.  I do that, you know.  I write in the margins.  It is the #1 reason I cannot share books with others - not that I don't like to share, but that I don't want my interaction with the words to be seen by all.  I digress.

This morning as I was reading on the wages of sin and death - it sounds so harsh when put like that, don't you think - I started thinking on what the writer was saying.  Verse 14 begins this tug of war on what a person wants to do and what they don't want to do - the struggle between what is leading the cause and the direction they want to take.  If you are a slave to one, you are mastered by it...

In case you've never had the opportunity to meet me in person, I am strong-willed.  Call it what you want, it is what it is. I have always been self sufficient, independent, and the one to take care of things.  I won't elaborate on the history to this making, but sometimes we become what we have to in order to survive.  While many would say this personality type is good, it certainly has its limitations and most undeniably its drawbacks. The biggest of which is when to be in control and when not to be.

When I am not in control of a circumstance I tend to act out in ways that aren't always beneficial to myself or others - essentially 100% of the time I use my words - my voice - to express my thoughts and feelings on the subject. I'm going to tell you, while in the moment there is a great sense of justification, of correcting a wrong, of being right.  However, this only lasts for a little bit of time, because then remorse sets in, or something all the more inappropriate - the justifying of actions by talking the circumstance/situation out with another person. *shudder*

I've spent countless hours turning this over in my head - why I have the need to voice myself so adamantly; I think I have found the driving force.  For my entire life, thus far, I have always felt insignificant.  As a child I was told I wasn't wanted, I was a mistake, and that the reason I wasn't loved was because my mom simply didn't know how.  I can remember trying to gain favor in her eyes by being perfect (whatever that is) but I could never be - I wasn't my brother and years later I certainly wasn't my sister - I am, and always have been, me.  Despite this, I never stopped trying to be someone worthy of being noticed and wanted.

However, this constant struggle to be significant has put me in a battle - a tug of war - with what I want to do and what I don't want to do. I want to be significant, to be wanted, accepted, noticed, needed for more than fixing someones problem and then forgotten until the next one comes along, etc. I want to be loved. These are not bad things to want and they are not wrong in the least.  BUT...the approach and the motivation behind them can be. 

For the wages of sin is death...  I have to admit, in this game of tug of war I am finding where I try to strong arm the circumstance with things like - "look at me", "I have this", "I am this", and the list goes on.  It is when these bouts of self-recognition don't yield any results that the words start to really fly and during all of this I receive the direct opposite reaction from others than I want.  In fact, what I am doing is intensifying the discord and causing a greater distance, which creates in me a deeper need to pull that rope back in my direction with my "strong arm".  ...push...pull...push...pull...

The kicker of it all?  This game that has left more than calluses on my hands and a broken spirit within has shown me that I have had the answer all along.  I am not insignificant to the one who created me.  He wanted me before I was physically created.  He designed me on purpose and for a purpose.  While the pain and hurt of what is cannot be denied, it does not define me.  I am so much more than my circumstances - I am a child of the one true king. While the wages of sin is death, he is life everlasting.

How about you?  Is there an area in your life where it is time to drop the rope?

- M              

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 21: Dust Cover

I love books.  We've established this time and again.  However, one thing I don't like is the dust cover.  While its glossy finish affords the reader a little something to whet their appetite - be it a picture of the main character, a scene in the book, or the small blurb on the back that is meant to draw the reader into its clutches - there is scant else it is good for.  Perhaps you could use the flap for a bookmark; I don't recommend this, by the way. I have lost my place far too many times trying to make use of this feature. Other than that, gosh, I just cannot think of another thing it is good for. In fact, I usually take them off and put them somewhere I forget while I am reading and end up finding it long after I've finished the book. However, that isn't the reason for this post, despite the title.
I decided to do a random google search - you know so I can get on with this 30-day challenge and actually finish it before the second coming - on creative writing prompts.  The one I settled on (#24 for no other reason than it is the coolest number ever) is, "Imagine your life is now a book. In 100 words, write the blurb for it. It's what people will read on the back cover".  I took some creative liberty with the prompt, because, you know!  Ha!

Nestled in a small Indiana town was a simple girl.  Well, quite complex really but she likes to think of herself as simple.  Most passers-by don't notice her as she goes about her day to day life yet inside of her is a power waiting to let loose.

Having grown up in a home where her voice was squelched long before it ever got a chance to take off she struggled to find the right way to use the words she had welling up inside her.   The words were as real to her as any tangible object.  They floated around her constantly, like those little tweety birds in the cartoons.  No one else could see the words, only her.  Some were small and soft, others big and scary. The words, they had a presence of their own and sometimes when no one was really watching, they came to life.

Her words came to life.  On the days she couldn't control them they sought to destroy others.  Yet, people didn't see it was the words doing the harm, they only saw her so she was always left to bare the full weight of their agony. Then she discovered something when the words weren't looking.  A secret weapon she could tame them with, destroy them with, and she couldn't wait for the right time to do it.

Ok, so I wasn't able to get the blurb out in 100 words or less, but I think it has a little something to it; don't you?

Here's to a little dust on the cover.  (And for those who are good with their country music circa early 90's - you're welcome for the earworm!)

- M

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

These are the Words I Should Say

I think one of the hardest things to do in life is accepting when you are wrong, most especially when another person is too.  Hear me out on this.  I am quite adept at standing my ground - with some people.  I have a hard time being walked on, talked down to, and treated like I don't matter/exist. When this type of action is taken against me I tend to lash out - mostly with my words and the tone of my voice.  While it is never good to be walked on, it is also never good to stoop to the other person's level. This is altogether harder when the person is someone you desperately want a relationship with.

The Bible has a whole lot to say about our words, our tongues, and anger.  In some ways - meaning if you feel justified in your actions - it feels like the Lord doesn't want you to have a voice.  But this is oh so very wrong.  He does want you to have a voice.  He just wants you to have the right voice and to use it in the right way.  There is a mountain of scripture which speaks to this. A few are listed below, you know, to save you some time on your own search.

Proverbs 21:23 - "Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity."
Psalm 141:3 - "Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Ephesians 4:29 - "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Proverbs 13:3 - "Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin."
Ephesians 4:31 - "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."

But, you know me well enough to know I'm not just writing this to give you a scripture lesson, there is always something behind the need to share.  Have you ever wanted to be included, accepted, loved, or heaven's even just liked?  Sure you have - it is human nature.  It is how we are built. But in this need, have you ever tried forcing the issue?  By forcing the issue I mean constantly reminding others who you are, where you came from, and what you do and don't like?  In addition to this, also expected them to love and accept your people?  (In my case, my people are my children.)

Here's the thing the Lord has been impressing upon me in the last few days.  (Disclaimer: this post has been in the making for a really, really long time because this isn't the first time this has been impressed upon me!) How others treat me or view me is NOT - now really hear me on this - it is NOT about me.  And because it is not about me, it is not for me to defend.  It simply isn't.  HOWEVER.  (Now, you knew that was coming - Ha!) What IS about me is how I respond to them. *Lightbulb* or *Facepalm* whichever works best for you...

You see, no amount of trying is going to change a person's want and desire to have you in their lives - it just isn't.  I mean, look at how people treated our Savior.  Now, I'm not trying to put myself up there with Him in the least, what I am saying is that if He was treated like that, what on Earth makes me think I should deserve never to be?  This doesn't mean I purposely set out to ruffle tail feathers and create animosity, no, I genuinely want to to be liked, loved, cared for, wanted, etc.  But my basis for living, for being, should not be consumed by this need.  Because when it is - well - that is when the words and the anger trump the living and the being. 

When I was little, my grandma taught me the little saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  That is about as far from the truth as it gets. You can heal from being hit with sticks and stones, but you cannot heal (entirely) from words that are spoken. Go on, think of something negative, harsh, or mean, someone has said to you and how it made you feel.  Now, think about if YOU were the person who said it to another person.  If it hurt you, don't you think it would hurt someone else too?  While it is also true, "hurt people, hurt people", it is never right to set out to do that.  It just isn't.  Yes, even when you feel justified in your actions.  Even when you have been blatantly wronged.  Even when it is hurtful to you and your people.

Why?  Because the fight isn't yours.  The person's actions are for the Lord to judge and you, you are going to be judged for yours.  Now, I don't want to scare you, God isn't going to bring out a paddle and whoop your backside, but He is going to use His spirit to convict you and in some cases, He may just never make a path for that relationship you so desperately wish would come to life.  But again, that doesn't define you.  It doesn't.  What defines you is the integrity of your character and the person the Lord is creating in you.

Choose your words wisely my friends.

Love, M

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Day 20: Sunday's are for Reading

I'm reading a Stephen King book.  It is an older book of his, written and published nearly 20 years ago.  I have willingly picked up about a half dozen of his books; truthfully, the genre just isn't my cup of tea.  Did you know (at least at the time of the publication of the book I'm reading) he has only published two non-fiction works?  That is what I am reading, his book entitled, On Writing.  It is phenomenal. I wouldn't classify myself a writer any more than I would a runner.  However, just like with running I've given it a solid go and enjoy it like there is no tomorrow.  Why this book?  Well, besides the obvious - I like to read,  I want to take my writing up a notch and he is an undisputed master wordsmith and storyteller.  There are a lot of good takeaways, such as - don't use big words, don't write about what you don't know, and always take it seriously.  Sure, there is a lot more in the book I found useful, insightful, and downright necessary, but the bulk of it is this - if you don't try, you never will.

I think I told you all a couple months back I had an itch to write a book.  I do. In all honesty, I've had this itch for over 20 years.  I have it outlined, in my journal.  It is a subject I have a lot of experience with and one that I am gaining knowledge from daily.  I would never claim to be an authority, but I will gladly tell you I have had front-row tickets, and the show has not always been stellar!  Will it be non-fiction?  Perhaps.  Will it be fiction? Only if I can figure out the nuances of communication. Will it be original?  Undoubtedly.  After all, no one has the exact same story to tell - there are always differences.

Yes, this will be a big jump from this blog.  I mean, outside of the sheer word count, there are many more obvious things - like the content!   Ha!  I cannot say when this adventure will officially start, and I can no more tell you when there will be a workable first draft.  However, I can tell you it will be bound in hope and tears, truth and emotion, fact and grace, trial and error.  It will be what it is and if it gets up off the ground long enough to be coined a book, it will have done one thing and one thing only - shared the story of a girl.

(And for some of you who picked up on that - You're quite welcome for the earworm!)

Happy Sunday all,
- M

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fruit Bearing

Good morning lovelies. I seem to be in a rare frame of mind these days and while I have never withheld my raw emotion, my deep words, my truest thoughts from you,  I wonder if this has any effect?  Are these for naught?  Does it make a difference?  Do I make a difference?  In the past 24 hours I have thoroughly questioned my existence.  I simply cannot find peace. This is a thing that has plagued me time and again over the years - finding my place, my reason, my purpose.  I seriously feel like a rather large bag of bones that is doing nothing more than taking up space from someone who deserves it more than I do.

Now, there are some of you who, if you have read this post to this point, are shaking your head and thinking I need to just get over this and move on; that I am feeling sorry for myself, that a grown woman should have put away these pathetic nuances years ago - like in her teens. I won't deny you your thoughts and I won't justify me for having mine.  They are as much a part of me as any physical feature I have.  All of this brings me to today's reading.

Jesus tells us He is the true vine and we are the branches and that our Father in Heaven in the gardener.  That a branch, in order to bear fruit must be attached to the vine.  A dead branch cannot bear fruit and a good branch must be continuously pruned in order to grow and bear more fruit. Now, I'm not much of a landscape gardener.  In fact, I'm quite embarrassed by my lack of skill, which to be honest is evidence of my lack of care or desire to enhance it.  Essentially, I do not like it.  There is no joy for me, whatsoever, in this type of yard work.  Despite that, I do know in order to get the lovely roses, which were planted by a previous owner, to bloom I need to cut the dead bits away.  I also know, in order to keep anything of value coming up, I need to pull the weeds.  I do these things out of necessity more than desire and joy.

He is the vine, I am the branches. I can bear no fruit unless I am in Him and He is in me.  I need to be pruned and cultivated to bear good fruit.  Just like the roses need pruning for their beautiful pink petals to bloom, I need pruning to have something beautiful come from me. How does this fit with where I started?  Those feelings, those doubts, those words, they are nothing but dead bits that need pruning.  They are stunting my growth, they are preventing me from being fruitful.

What fruit am I talking about? In Galatians 5:22-23 we are given a list of the fruits of the spirit - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  I read this list and struggle to find a single fruit I exhibit, a single fruit one could think of me and identify.  This is why I feel the way I feel.  Do I truly have a proper attachment to the vine for my branches to bear fruit, and if I do, am I still just in a season of pruning.  (A horribly long season at that?!) 

It appears, at least to me, there is still much work to be done in me.  I pray continually for this to happen and can only hope that at the end of my days there is something to be shown for it. 

I have to run...apparently this writing before work thing isn't so good - I keep running out of time.  Pardon any grammar/spelling mistakes...I will have to proofread at a later time.

Stay connected!
- M

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

In the Making

Good morning.  As my Mr. likes to say, "it's been a minute!"  I've been having a rough go of things as of late.  No, not with work or family or anything of that nature, but of a spiritual nature.   I'm not questioning the Lord's position or His unwavering love - praise Him for that, and grace...goodness the mess I'd be if it weren't for His grace - what I am questioning is where I fit in. Actually, this very thing has been the root of it all since I was young.  I have always wondered where and how I fit in.  In some way, I have expressed this a million times over and may have called it for what it was a time or two, but it was while reading my Bible this morning a Tetris piece, of sorts, fell perfectly into place and cleared a line.

I want to focus on one bit of what I read and hope, in so doing, it makes some sense. I'm in John.  I've really enjoyed being in the gospels these past weeks, the differences in writing style and the perspective gained from each disciple has been fascinating.  (This is a different post for a different time.) Anyhow,  this is what stuck out to me this morning from John chapter 14:
42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

A little backstory (condensed, of course) - Jesus had just rose Lazarus from the dead, Mary had poured out her expensive perfume on His feet, He had road into town on a donkey, the people were just shouting and praising His name, He has predicted His death, He has identified who would betray Him and why all of these things were going to happen. Despite all of the things He had done STILL there were those who didn't acknowledge their belief.  WHY?  Simply, others. 

Now work with me here on this. I don't deny my knowledge of Him or the fact I am a Christian.  In fact, I'd wager a bet if anyone were to ask me if I was a believer, I'd proudly say yes. HOWEVER..."they loved human praise more than praise from God."  Let me change one of those words - "Mandy loved human praise more than praise from God."  In this praise seeking lies sin making. You may be wondering how this fits if I'm willing to openly admit I'm a Christian, well, I think it comes down to self. Instead of letting He who is in me be greater, I want to be greater.  I want to be noticed for who I am so much more than whose I am on any given day.  Why? Because I am afraid I don't matter.

Sure, I can blame this on any number of factors - being ignored as a child - not wanted by my parents, being a burden to some of my family, but most undoubtedly because I am a wallflower.  I'm your quintessential nerd.  I don't understand anything trendy, anything having to do with pop-culture or even the logistics and implementation of social interaction and the graces therein. I'm a dork. Plain and simple.

What does one DO when this is the substance they form their being from?  Well, they strive to BECOME.  But in the becoming, I focus less on the whose I should become and force myself to BE what I think others need me to be in order to be liked, to stand out, to be someone or something to someone or something, to have a place, to be acknowledged. Simply put, to be accepted. ..."for they loved human praise more than praise from God." 

And, I am tired. All of this has made me tired. I cannot compete with the world and I surely cannot un-be who God designed me to be.  I can accept the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and embrace the work He is doing IN me.  Will I muck it up from time to time?  Oh, you can bet your bottom dollar I will.  I am human after all. I was never meant for perfection here on Earth.  

With that, while I am certainly not who I want to be and most undoubtedly still being molded into the woman God wants me to be - Praise be only to Him because I am, without a doubt, NOT who I USED to be.  

 Have a great Tuesday.

- M

Friday, February 24, 2017

Day 19: A Tinker-belle of Sorts

Here we are, nearly 6 AM when I should be getting around for work, but the thoughts in my head couldn't keep my focus long enough to do what I wanted to do, let alone what I should do.  So goes it most days!  HA!

We have been fortunate enough over the past few years to have a vehicle with a DVD player in it.  I can tell you this has been a wonderful tool to keep the Littles occupied on those long trips.  For safety reasons, the makers of the vehicle removed the ability for the driver to watch anything on the front screen while the vehicle is in any gear but park.  Savages....must be for those OTHER drivers!!! Because of this, I have gotten the pleasure of listening to far more movies than I have ever watched.  Sometimes this is frustrating, but other times it is almost like like listening to a book - I get to form the imagery in my head.

Like most little girls, mine have been fond of Barbie and Disney for the better part of their lives, not necessarily playing with the toys, but watching the movies, and boy has there been a plenty! My biggest Little has always loved Tinkerbell movies, even now at almost 15, she still gets a kick out of watching them.  (I'm not entirely sure she would openly admit this, though!) There is one, in particular, I've had the pleasure of listening to a couple of times and it is that one I couldn't get out of my mind this morning while I reading my Bible and doing my devotions.

In this particular movie, Tinkerbell is quite saddened by the fact she has been identified as a tinker fairy. In fact, to prove the "label" wrong she sets out to be like all of her fairy friends.  She tries to make the flowers bloom and be colorful like one friend, to make the woodland animals come out in the spring like another, and make the weather patterns like yet another.  In her quest to do each of these she fully exhausts herself because no matter how hard she tries, she simply cannot succeed.  In fact, the harder she tries the more she messes it up, to the point of near catastrophe in each case.  It isn't until things get so bad in Pixie Hallow that she finally realizes to help save the "world" she needs to build a contraption to do all of the things in a certain amount of time for that to happen. And since we are dealing with Disney here, she tinkers up something from bits and pieces and becomes the hero of her story while setting all things back as they should be.

Now, I will admit, having listened to this half-heartedly (driving the vehicle was always more important) I may have mixed up the storyline just a small bit, but the just of it is there and the implications are grand. I wonder how many of us try to do something or be someone we aren't because we don't feel like who we are is cool enough, good enough, smart enough, showy enough, etc.  You get the picture. I hate to admit, I am a lot like Tinkerbell in this story.  I try so very hard to be someone or something I am not for a myriad of reasons.  The most profound reason why is because I don't fully trust who I am in relation to who God says I am.  I want to be able to "be" someone so much I fail to realize that I already am. (Funny thing, I'm thinking about the bin of yarn and crochet hooks sitting in our living room...yet another failed attempt to do/be something I clearly cannot.  Seriously, how does one get those loops and things to form something other than a lumpy chain.  I have wasted hours trying to do this.  I found no joy in it, but I was determined to learn how since it was obviously something, as a woman, I should know how to do. - I'm donating it all this weekend.)

I think sometimes (I'm going to self-reflect here) I get so caught up with the outward show of what others can do, that I think what I can do is of no value.  But that isn't the case at all, God designed me and made me and formed me for a purpose, this means I have value.  I have worth. What I keep trying to do is appraise it through a wrong set of parameters. Sure I might not be a flawless diamond according to the scales, but I'm a diamond none-the-less, even if I have a slight inclusion.  That is just it, we all are.  We are all valuable and worth far more than diamonds to the one who created us.  The one who created us with the purpose to fulfill OUR purpose on Earth for HIS glory.

So, to those ladies out there who think they are nothing because so and so can do such and such and you can' what.  Because there is something you can do that no one else in this entire world can do, no matter how very, very hard they try; they cannot be you. And while I ruminate on this today for myself, I do pray that we find the ability to be bold and stand firm in who we are and what we can do.  God has so much for us to accomplish and while painting flowers and calling the woodland creatures out to play makes for a pretty landscape, someone needs to save the "world" (read that grow the people around you).

Keep growing where you are planted.

Love, M

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Day 18: Eagerness

I'm back to this challenge if you will.  Perhaps it is more to complete it than anything?  Remind me again why I thought this was a good idea.  Oh yes, Pinterest and writing prompts and because others do this and....

I searched hard for this prompt, more because I wanted to write than anything.  It is silly, really, this insatiable need I get at times to write.  There are days all I think about (yes even at work) is writing down all of the thoughts in my head.  I have even gone so far as wanting to take a last minute vacation day just to sit in front of my computer and watch the words pop up on the screen in response to the keys my fingers hit. I digress...

The prompt today is simply this: I am eager for God to... Seems pretty open ended and easy enough to answer.  However, I am curious what that response would be for each of us if we truly got down to the center of who we are and shine the light of who he is through that.  My very first thought when I read this was, 'to make me a teacher'.  Seems to align with my heart's greatest desire, my spiritual gift, and the thing I spent a lot of money on to get a higher education.  However, I have been stepping back from that desire of mine, not that it isn't still there, but because I'm not fully sure what it is to look like, yet.

I am not sure if I've shared this with anyone other than those who are closest to me, and there are very few at that, but one of the things that I pray for fervently is for the Lord to make me a better person, to help me be more like him. Do not misread that, I don't want to be him, but I want to be more like him.  But even with that being a constant prayer (read that multiple times a day some days), what I want more than anything is for Him to use me. So, that's it, I am eager for God to use me. There is a song we sang at my old church (which I miss more than I care to admit most days) that had many verses, but the crux of it was to fill me, mold me, and use me.  Oh, how I can remember having tear soaked eyes while singing those words.

Now there are many who would beg to ask, "who is to say he isn't using me now"? To which I would have to say 'I am not sure, is He?'  Is there anything of value coming from my life at this time?  Here are a couple things I know to be true:

1) God uses everyone according to who they are in relation to who He is
2) God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called.
3) God knows every intricate detail of every single person...all of it - the good and the bad - and because of this, He allows for growth and knowledge accordingly.  (This is a really, really deep thought process and perhaps another blog all of its own, but know the meaning behind it is this - He isn't going to give you a ministry or a purpose that puts you smack dab into the middle of a situation that you have a propensity or natural bend for sin.  I.e. if you have a natural inclination to drown in the bubbly, He isn't going to send you to a bar to minister to folks.)
4) God is God and He is perfect and unwavering.  He is steadfast and true.  He doesn't change, we do.

While I have a desire to teach others, I have a bigger desire to be used by the Lord exactly how he sees fit. Not my will be done, but His.  Sure, it makes me sad and emotional (as in I am crying right now just typing these words), but nothing forced is fruitful.  Sure, there can be momentary results, but they are rarely lasting.  I don't want to force myself into a calling.  I want to be exactly where He wants me to be, used exactly for the purpose He so designed me to be used.

What is it you are eager for the Lord to do? I challenge you to think about this but remember, He isn't a genie in a bottle, so asking for a million dollars, to be president, to go on exotic vacations, those things may not be the best things to ask for.  But, asking the Lord to show you how to be a better steward, to lead like He does, or to show you a foreign mission, those may be two cents, of course.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

To Be or Not To Be

No, this isn't going to be a literary assessment on Hamlet or anything by Shakespear for that matter, but what this post will be is a break from the "challenge". I shared in the last post about what pride can and does do for me (I was going to put us, but there is no need to bring everyone into this...) and how it isn't such a cool thing.  I have an, unfortunately, innate ability to think of things I want to talk about and write about when I am in no position whatsoever to do either.  For instance, yesterday as I was in the shower I visioned myself in front of a room of women sharing a portion of my testimony.  Sadly, this isn't the first time I've done this, but each time it is concerning a different portion of my testimony and the things I have learned along the way.  Then again as I was driving down the road I began thinking of things I wanted to write about - either in this blog or in a book.  Wouldn't you know it, before I could get to a time and place where I could write some of these profound (in my mind) bits of wisdom down, the day had come and gone.   Now, this morning, I am left with crickets in the place of words.

You may be wondering what all of that has to do with being.  Or maybe not since you have read my blog long enough to know I often feel the need to give a back story before I actually GET to a point!  HA! During my time reading this morning I read not once, but twice where the Lord was telling the people not to worry, not to fear.  By the way, I'm in Mark and I really like the way it is written.  It is straight up, to the point, and well, undeniably the perfect word of God.  What does all of THAT have to do with being?  Oh, so much more than I wish it did.

Have you ever, just once (because to admit more than that would mean there could possibly be an issue), said something because of another person?  How about done something because of another?  Or bought something because of them?  This other person doesn't even have to have a face, it could be the proverbial one, the one who you are trying to out do, one up, be better than, strive to become, be noticed by, gain the admiration of, etc.  I hate to admit this about myself, but I have.  I realized something just last week that hasn't set well with me since.  I found that when I meet someone new, one of the first things I do is share something about my life - be it about my Littles, my Mr., or my background - that will give me (in my mind's eye) an edge or an advantage.  By this, I don't me to be better, but to have a reason to be someone.  To be worthy of being liked by them, to be of some sort of value because of what I have in my life because I am "certain" that me, by myself, is not good enough.

Newsflash to myself - none of that matters!  Not a lick of it. I sat at my desk the remainder of that day last week wondering why this need is so great in me.  Wondering why I am so bent on wanting to be somebody or something.  I could give a litany of reasons why I could blame factors from my youth, but the truth of it is, I own them, they do not own me.  My response to those things should not be that of a victim, but of a woman who uses them for the betterment of who she is.  Which brings me to the ultimate reason for any of it.  I don't know who I am in reference to whose I am.

What I know, knowledge wise has yet to meet what I know heart wise.  I have read and studied and learned so much about the Word of God, but I have not fully embraced or applied it.  Sure, I've picked up the bits that made sense, but not all of them which required me to give over the victimhood of who I am.  It is almost as if holding onto those factors allows me to be the person I want to be in front of others instead of the person God designed me to be.  And because it is just plain fact, this too is all rooted in pride.

So the question remains, to be or not to be, but the answer is so much easier when you have a firmer grasp of the who.

I apologize for any grammar errors...I wrote this before work and I am now officially running late!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Day 17: Change

I got today's prompt from Pinterest - surprise, surprise!  Funny thing about it, though, I actually thought of what I wanted to write about last night while I was trying to fall asleep.  Despite this, I told myself I was going to pick a random prompt and go with that instead.  Well, haha, looks like the topic I thought of last night sort of chose me today instead! The prompt I found was to talk about something you want to change about yourself.  Now, I will be the first to tell you there are many things, and while I could go on and on about all of them, there is one specific thing that has come to light repeatedly during the past 24 hours.

 Have you ever seen a two-year-old thrown a full-blown temper tantrum?  I don't mean one of those little arms crossed, pouty lip, crocodile tear stances.  No, I mean the lying on the floor, screaming their head off, kicking their little legs while crying with all of their might, temper tantrums which were more than likely caused by something as simple as them wanting apple juice instead of milk. Anyway, you get it.  (If not, go to youtube and type in temper tantrum...enjoy!)  I'm sure you are probably wondering what this has to do with the topic?  No?  Well, I can assure you at almost 40 I am not in the habit of lying on the ground while kicking and screaming over my juice cup.  However, I am quite capable of doing this in a more subtle way.

Like most toddlers, the cause of such tantrums is due to not getting your way. (I'm sure there is a political jab that could be entered here, but I'm going to let that go...) I'm pretty good at shrugging my shoulders and letting things slide on most occasions.  However, there is one thing that gets me fired-up every...single...time.  What is that, you ask?  Simply, waiting on the Lord.  Now, I've made it well known to just about every single person who will listen to me that my passion in life is teaching.  In fact, I may have written about it a large number of times over the years on this blog.  I have known, for quite some time, that in order to teach I have to meet a certain educational criterion.  I have done this.  I also know I need to have an age group and possibly a subject or two I want to teach.  Again, I have done this.  For brevity's sake, I'll not list everything, but I have attempted over the years to try and "teach" something.  I have not gotten to do this.

So, what does this have to do with temper tantrums?   Weeeellllll....let's just say I've held NOTHING back in sharing with the Lord how I feel about this.  In addition to this, I may have also shared the same amount, or something akin to it, with my Mr.  (Oh, he's a strong one - whose favorite phrase de jour is "stop it!"...Right?!)  Anyway, after a particularly ugly meltdown last night (read that - pout fest) I flitted through Pinterest and found a quote - uh huh - which I promptly shared with the Mr., who promptly told me I need to trust in the Lord and His timing.  Do you ever get sick of hearing that?  I do.  But wait, there's more. There's always more. This morning as I was spending time reading my Bible (I'm in Matthew) I was repeatedly reminded - with those brilliant red letters - of what lack of faith can do.  Oh, no, we are just getting started because here is where the insult is added to injury.  Later on in the day, when I got an opportunity to read my devotional, wouldn't you know it, BAM - in your face conviction.  Sometimes I just can't catch a break.

Today's devotional talked about what kind of prayers we need to be praying to the Lord.  Not just those simple, search my heart so I can know what needs to be given (yes I know those are not easy prayers - that was sarcasm) over to the Lord, but those prayers where you legitimately ask the Lord to fix the hard things. *GULP* People, I'm gonna be straight with you, the root of all temper tantrums, if you really look at them objectively, is Pride.  Yes, Pride!  (And I'm not talking about a group of lions here.) What is Pride?  It is thinking you know, or are better than, the one in authority. 

The pin I sent the Mr.
How does this all fit together?  Simply this.  If God has created a passion in me, given me a heartfelt desire, then I need to wait on Him to open the best doors for me.  I need to REST in Him.  I need to TRUST in Him. While I may not fully understand the why (it isn't my place to anyhow) I do need to fully understand He won't do me wrong.  He just won't.  It isn't in His nature.  Not a single bit. And why do I not do this?  Becuase, like a toddler, there is that part of me who thinks I know better. I think if I just keep going at it, or after it at a hundred miles per hour, then I will get what I want.  But the problem with that is by my doing this, what I am essentially doing in putting myself above Him...a place I was never meant to have. And until I stop struggling with Him for that place of supreme authority I will never be able to have the rest I need nor will He ever have all of me which He so very well deserves.

I want to tell you today was one of those days where I discovered a truth and will not falter ever again concerning it, but I'm human and therefore prone to misplacing myself in the midst of my circumstances.  But I can tell you this, I learned something new - I didn't know the way I was behaving was rooted in pride and that alone rocked me to the core.  For nothing more than the fact that I don't want to be that person.  (And a whole lot of the fact I really want to do what the Lord designed me to do and I want to do it the best way possible - which totally means I need to wait on Him to make it so!)

Food for thought.
- M