… thirty seven

[ t h i r t y – s e v e n ]

Before 2019 ended, the idea that my life was about to change could be felt.

Changes were made that I’d known for a while needed to be happen…….. but after major conviction, taking inventory of the past, & processing my feelings and what I’d like for my/my family’s future to looked like helped me to truly see what I’d been missing before:

Nothing is better than Jesus in a very real way.

That sounds super Jesus freakish & you probably rolled your eyes, probably wondering as a Christian why I’m just getting that, but as much as I love/d Jesus, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that he truly is everything that I need. I knew that, but never put everything down for him. This lightbulb… that came through a deeper, closer relationship with God, has completely changed behavior. Not rules, not someone saying “You should…” or “You can’t”, but being so close to God that anything that separated me from him hurt me.

A few things that I recognized…

Approval – his alone matters. periodt.

Acceptance – no matter what, when, or why he will forever search for me & welcome me, desire to be in relationship with me and be open to it even though I sin.

Comfort – He is the God of ALL comfort. Not cinnamon rolls, Chick-fil-a, wine or whiskey, or companionship. Just Jesus and once he is the first and only source of comfort, I won’t over prioritize, over value, or sacrifice who I am or standards to feel “better”.

Support – he gives wisdom in abundance if we ask, he leads us, he protects us, comforts, & is the safest, most intimate space we could ever ask for.

We truly need nothing else, but Him. And the most amazing thing is we often feel (or I quietly felt) that I’d be missing out on something if I truly gave everything up for him, if I truly lived sacrificially. I doubted and didn’t fully trust even though I knew that everything good comes from him, that there is no lack in him, that he withholds no good thing from us …… I was afraid that I’d be missing out on something. Ultimately something celebrated by culture (which likely contradicted The Word), something that would result in loneliness (which I was already feeling), or whatever I felt I needed. If everything I need is truly found in Him…… he is the ultimate source and then from trusting Him will come the very things I need except better. If I’m trying to fill a space based on my thoughts & feelings, I will lose every single time and still end up empty. Those choices will be fueled by fear, thoughts of lack, trauma, selfishness, sin, and cultural “goals” that will have me chasing after something that will never truly satisfy me.

I might be the only one whose lightbulb is just.now. clicking but I am so thankful it is. At nearly 40… feeling too late, too old, too weighted down with  life’s responsibilities… regardless of the feels, God is so so so good and nothing compares to Him.

2020 began with a whole new outlook on my Plexus business, relationship perspectives and goals, motherhood goals, career moves, & just how I wanted each day to look. The perspective I have is that everyday literally is going to create and lead to a week that turns into a month that turns into a year. If I.. when I focus on sacrificing and submitting day to day the life I want (which is the life the Lord has for me) will flow.

And one of the first things I knew I needed to change was the fact that I did nothing for myself in 2019. Nothing to very little for myself. Very little. I hardly hung out with my friends, didn’t go to any movies (which I love to do, until the end of the year), and was completely overwhelmed & growing resentful at what my days looked like. I couldn’t be the mama, friend, person, writer, speaker, provider, ministry partner, business builder I needed to be because I empty. Running on empty. fumes. and clawing to stay on my feet. It was exhausting and another year that way wouldn’t end well.

So, I committed to being more social – not for the sake of just being out, but truly pouring into, rebuilding, and establishing friendships and relationships that I’d neglected over the past few years….. and the last 26 days have been so much stinking fun. While I know exactly why I didn’t do it sooner, I’m wondering, ‘Why didn’t you do this sooner?’

I know the reasons I had were valid & real…… but they weren’t true. Tony Evans says that there’s a difference between truth and fact. I based decisions on facts, but not the truth. And we do it all of the time.

EX:
Mom: I can’t go, because the baby is too young.
Yea that’s a FACT, the baby is tiny….. but the truth is – you can go.
If you choose to…. choose to believe that we aren’t our kids end all and be all. Choose to believe that we can truly have a life outside of them and still be good mothers. Choose to believe that things will be fine if we aren’t losing ourselves to hold them and everyone and everything else together.

Y’all. I’m scared, no lie. Because I’m not sure. And, anyone who says walking with God in a way they’d never had before isn’t scary is.. lying. Hello, Moses, and everyone else who’d been pulled by the Lord and responded with a “Who me?” Then, you have those who came to the Lord for healing and you’ll see a few times he asked, “Do you want to be made whole?” umm.. of course, that’s why I’m here. Right? Like let’s not ask questions we already know the answer to. That’s annoying.

But, the truth is:
there are times we want something, but just not bad enough
to sacrifice and change our life for.

Not enough to truly be vulnerable for.
Not enough to stop being lazy for.
Not enough to stand up and be bold for.
Not enough to say “no” to everything else that isn’t that for.
Not enough to just do the things that need to be done for.

So…. again… do you want to be made whole?

So. It’s tough. And, scary.
Already 26 days in.
But, I believe deeply that while I have no idea what they heck is going to happen, I know that every day (a hundred times a day), I lay every fear that crops up, every desire, every choice, every opportunity, every move at the cross. And I trust that God heard me. Like the enslaved Israelites tears, fears, and desires – “…their cries rose up to God. God heard their groaning…” (Genesis 2:23-24) and because I am trusting the Lord and truly delighting myself in Him….. seriously enjoying worshipping, praying, reading the Word, talking throughout the day, I trust the promise of Psalm 21:2 that says the Lord will “give him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested.”

And, my response before, during, and after is praise.
Not because I have what I asked for or even that it’s promised to me and I have the faith that I will receive it, but because I love God. And, God loves me and is worthy of my praise….. every other reason is extra.
cherries and whip cream and sprinkles on top.

Just like the children of Isreal were God’s special possession, I am, too.
Just as they needed him for deliverance, I do, too.
Just like they needed him for provision, I do, too.
Just like they messed up, I do, too.
And, he still heard them.
He still welcomed them back.
He didn’t stop being their God.
He didn’t stop being their provider.
He didn’t stop leading them.
He didn’t stop being who he was.

While the goal isn’t 40 years of learning while wandering….
I’m prayerfully grasping what they continued to miss:
 He is everything that we need.

And, if they had allowed him to be that everything all the time – even when they were afraid, even when they didn’t know, even when they felt alone – they would have experienced God in a way they never had before and would have seen what he promised and had stored up for them.

Lastly,
I posted on Instagram a few days ago that
we often trust that God will, but doubt that he is.
(At least I do… could be solo on that one.)
Doubt that in this situation right now, God is creating & establishing it.
Doubt that this situation right now is what we have been praying for.
Doubt that this could really be it.
Doubt that the first step in the plan, the steps we have to work hard to complete and sacrifice to accomplish, really will lead us there.

So we quit. We allow fear and “wisdom” and comforts of life and habits of our comfort zones to keep us from what God has for us.

Not this year.

And, because I really want a lobster & bacon grilled cheese sandwich for dinner tonight…. I’m going to get up and go to the store for Havarti cheese. Yes, one item. Because I want it that badly.

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joy and hope

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

In real life, when we are barely making it through the day without bawling our eyes out in the car or spending our days in zombie mode, it’s difficult to believe that God can fill us with joy and hope. And, when I say fill, I mean it in the truest sense of the word. Like, fill my wine glass to the brim because that’s the kind of day I had kinda fill. You know? Not the give my two year old a cup of water kind of fill that’s barely half full. Full like there is no room for a drop more or my cup will overfloweth kind of full.

But, when we step out of ourselves and look at the larger picture of what’s going on, we will see that God doesn’t find joy in our difficulties…. just as I don’t find joy in my girls’ frustration and hurt….. but, I know that there are times the hard times are necessary to learn something new and necessary for the next phase in life.

What’s the bigger picture? Why do we go through all of this?
plain and simple…. so that we will live a life as a person whose behavior honors and glorifies God.
That’s they why behind all of this……

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

When we’re going through the hardest of times, we have to remember that 1. God is our safe place. He is the source of sanity, joy, peace, strength, hope, love, and forgiveness and 2. when we go to God and depend on him in faith for all of those things we are able to live peaceably with all people in all circumstances.  And what will that do a few things….. deepen your relationship with Christ, calm your situation OR allow you to operate well in the situation, and cause others to wonder how it is you haven’t lost your mind. All of which give you the opportunity to share Christ.

Our world, our lives aren’t about us. That’s a difficult concept to grasp in the culture we live in today that encourages self-absorption, chasing your desires, and filling your life with stuff. But, those things aren’t God’s desire for us. He’d rather us be joyful than happy, searching for peace, our identity, fulfillment in Him rather than in people or material things or other people. He wants us to trust him in faith rather than what we think or feel. I don’t think he doesn’t know how difficult it is. I believe that because He knows how difficult it is, He sent his son as the perfect example of peace, endurance, patience, and perseverance…. until death. He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of each and every one of us to guide us, pray for us, and comfort us. He gave us the Body to encourage and support us. He gave us something to look forward to –  joy and a life with Him. psalm29-11 my very beautiful friend featured in a Proverbs 31 Ministries pic.

We have a Savior we can safely put our trust.

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what’s for dinner?

bellyBut, thank God! He gives us victory over death and sin through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

THANK GOD!

I’ve been listening to this song on repeat for about a week. I play it as loud as I can when I can…… as softly as I can hear it when I have to. And, I allow it to get all the way into my spirit. To speak to my brokenness and hurt. To underscore whispered prayers through tears. To speak for me. To remind me of God’s promises.

A few things I’m believing God to give me victory and freedom over is my mouth. Lord, when that hurt and that brokenness is touched, it’s like pressing on a fresh bruise and your automatic response is to scream|cry out in pain. My pastor talked about anger and controlling ourselves while we’re angry….. I thought about the sin that follows anger. Scripture after scripture tell us not to sin in anger. “Do not… ” is said. We can control it. It’s a choice to yell and/or sneak snide remarks or just be outright nasty. My counselor (yes, I’m in counseling) and I have been working on just being quiet. Not saying anything. So, I’ve been very quiet this week. Especially when my bruises are bumped. When I’m hurt again. When things happen again. For my sake alone. And, it’s beautiful.

Beautiful to know that I can live peacefully.
It’s strength to not be controlled by any outside source.
Self preservation & self care is realizing that my inner well being is more important than everything.
More important than a jab or defending or trying to “get you to see”.

When I’m quiet, I give myself the opportunity to gather thoughts, to pray, to depend on Jesus for my peace, words, and tone. It barely feels good for a moment to go off and dig into another person, but it feels better and better to be able to not allow sin to throw me off my game plan. Which isn’t to do more than avoid setting fire to my life. To be seen as the crazy, angry chick when you’re really just hurting and waiting for someone to recognize that hurt and work to fix it.

James 3:5-9
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Controlling my anger|words|emotions is what’s best for me but so good for my children and relationships. Being able to communicate peacefully and purposefully with tact is a beneficial. While I believe there are times you have to be more forceful with your voice & words, it’s only effective when rarely used.

Often I find that we know things but it’s difficult to implement until we’re ready.
I recognized that in relationships, I very much have a “team” mentality. It’s US until it’s not. I work very hard to be considerate and sensitive to other people although I’m not the best at it all the times with all people. But, I’m working. Anyway. So, when I’m doing that work with another person, I take it personally when they don’t give what I’ve given. I take it personally & it hurts me and makes me angry when it’s addressed but not worked on. What I’ve come to realize is that while you can ask, you can’t expect someone to give you something they don’t have. And, you have to stop making excuses for them. Potential & capacity have nothing to do with  desire & motivation. In trying to force the situation, we only end up frustrating ourselves. If they don’t have it, they don’t have it. They may never have it or they may get it in the future. Freedom is operating under what is right now peacefully. Not what you want to be or think it can be if this or that. Work towards the future, but operate in the present.

Recognize what is , forgive the hurts, then move on.
(Move on doesn’t always mean discontinue the relationship, it means get off the issue.)
{And, “off”is different than “over”}

Oh, this alleviates any reason to get angry. While issues may still hurt, there’s no need to get angry. There’s nothing to take personally. There’s no reason to label inconsiderate or unloving or anything else. Usually when I’m angry it’s because I’m disappointed (an expectation hasn’t been met), my feelings were hurt, or I felt as if I wasn’t considered. For the most part. Once I quietly deal with and label how I feel, I can move forward. I decide whether it’s worth bringing up or not. I decide how and when I respond – not my uncontrolled feelings. And, I change my expectations (not my standards) of that situation because now that anger isn’t narrowing my view, I can clearly see observe & respond based on facts// not feelings.

I’m not going to expect an organic meal from McDonald’s.
I know they don’t provide it, I’m not going to talk myself blue trying to convince them of the benefits of healthier choices and get upset when they don’t value of what I’m saying.
They serve what they serve. Eat it or move on, you know?
Without the mouthiness and fire starting.

Love yourself enough to choose what you want to eat.
You don’t have to eat what’s offered.
You decide what you will & won’t accept.
You decide how long you want McDonald’s.

When you recognize & accept what’s being offered vs. what you’re trying to add to an already set menu,
you’ll be able to move on in peace.
In a way that doesn’t disrupt your heart.
In a way that allows you joyfully eat of the current menu or open the next menu without still being bitter about the last one.

Ya know?

 

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