Tuesday, August 27, 2013

He is Doing a New Thing!

Don't you love this time of year?  I love getting back into a routine after school starts.  New school supplies, new Bible studies, new opportunities, groups, clubs.  God's all about changes and seasons and newness, too.  He may let us stay in one place for awhile, but He'll usually at some point pick us up and turn us around and pat our back in a different direction.  'Ok, you've done what I want you to in this place, now I need you to go over here for awhile.'  Or 'Girl, you are spinning your wheels and I never even told you to go that way...how about you go this way now.'  (Just so you know I have a picture of a wind-up toy stuck up against a wall in my head right now!)  Sometimes it is a big relief when things finally change.  Sometimes you know it is the path He wants you on, but it is one of the hardest things you'll ever do.

Visiting with a few of my sisters in Christ in Indiana this July!
As those parts of my heart have healed mostly from moving away from my family, friends, work, church, and community - I was finally able to have a relaxing visit in my hometown this summer and call upon friends to meet up and I didn't feel like my heart was going to be shredded to pieces while doing so!  But other places in my heart are still raw.  Over the past two years He's had me on a few different roads and I've stopped and started and trudged along and recently really felt lost on the foggy road.  Disconnect and loneliness was really taking a toll on me.  The rabbit trails I had taken on my own since being here were not filling the void - even though I tried hard.  This summer was full of fun family time but it was also hard on me emotionally as I felt so alone.  Depression.  God was always there though.   Sometimes waiting on God to change our season is so hard!  Here is what to remember during the wait though!   2 Corinthians 4:17:  "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!"

The last few weeks have been lighter, my outlook has changed.  I'm looking forward to so much!  I'm a part of things - not just in them - but a part of them.  He is directing our family on a few different paths than what we were on.  He's pushing me out of my comfort zone in a few ways that makes me have butterflies in my belly and a smile on my face at the same time when thinking of actually doing what I've said I'll do!   He's providing blessings of uplifting conversations and new friendships and connections - encouragement.  Maybe it was all there before - it probably, actually was.  The eyes of my heart may have been hardened and closed.  Yes, Lamentations 3:22-23 says "Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  His compassion, love and faithfulness is always with us - new every morning for us.  He remains the same.  I just was not in a place of recognizing it.

God encouraged me this morning with Isaiah 43:19 while doing a Bible study.  "See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."  I've read it before, loved it, was encouraged by it.  But it came alive and personal again this morning.  It's a promise.  And it was Him talking to me.  I can sense the change lately.  I can sense the newness.  I can sense the excitement.  And the hope!

Do I feel happy all the time?  Is everything just peachy in my life?  No!  But to have hope and a promise of a new thing...and a promise that seasons change and don't last forever...  To have a God who is personal enough and loves me enough to point out to me this morning that it is He who is taking care of me and changing things - "See??  I am doing a new thing!"  To give me hope...

Thank you Jesus...thank you...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bein' Real, Bein' Blessed

I am an open book.  I value authenticity big-time!  Realness is endearing - it makes people want to be around you.  So much pretending goes on in this world, even 'reality' shows are staged.  Why would anyone want to spend time with someone who insists that everything is one way when it is totally not?  Those first steps of surrendering a bit and letting it 'all hang out' can be really scary.  When I share the scary stuff though,  most of the time I get a 'me too!' reaction from the majority instead of a 'you're weird!' reaction from the majority.

One of my favorite things to do is have a deep conversation with a girlfriend.  Real = feelings and meanings and situations and hurts and struggles and victories and how God is moving and what He is saying.  Talking about the weather and our calendars is okay for a few minutes, but if that is all that is talked about in a two hour conversation...it disinterests me quickly.  Talking about other people is even worse...  Every conversation is an opportunity for growth and we're missing out if we're never breaking the surface.  The bond that is formed when we share the real stuff is amazing...all walls are down...we see that we are made so similarly and we stop seeing one another as competitors, but as friends and allies in this broken and hard life.

I have gone through periods of holding back who I am and what I'm struggling with.  Why?
  • Once you have shared vulnerable information about yourself with another person - there is always a possibility that the other person can use that information against you.  It happens.  We're all imperfect.  And whether the other person intends to or not, there's always a possibility of getting hurt.  Deeply.  I've been there.  When someone knows what hurts you and then decides to use that very thing to 'get you.'  Ouch.  
  • Another reason I've held back who I am - embarrassment - or the not so fun word 'pride.'  I don't want others to know what I'm really capable of.  I don't think God wants us to blast it around to everyone who will listen, but in relationships sharing is okay.  But pretending that I have it all together when I really don't - what good does it do?  My friend and I both miss out on an opportunity of growth when I answer her with an, "I'm fine," when I'm not.  My mind challenges me - 'Don't let her know ___ about you.  She'll think you're ___!'  Worrying about what others think about me is a pride issue.
  • I'm also afraid of becoming emotional, so that has discouraged me from sharing at times.  I hate to cry in front of others.  Some people are cute criers.  I'm an ugly crier!  I always appreciate when other let down their guard and show emotion though - so I just have to get over this and hope that others will appreciate my honesty.  
  • The devil doesn't want me to share sometimes.  He will tell me all kinds of lies and try to scare me out of sharing.  Because God uses our pasts and our hurts to encourage and comfort others sometimes, Satan does not want us to share! 
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Discernment is important!  I used to share everything with anyone who would give me attention, which is how I ended up hurt several times.  What I share on my blog is prayed about and usually run by my husband before posted in a place that the world can see.   As I grow closer to other sisters in Christ I can now discern whether it is a safe place to have these deep conversations.  So, in no way am I saying that deep conversations should go on with everyone you come in contact with.  Although, there is an awful lot that you can share with almost anyone, that will encourage others and will not hurt you - just maybe your pride a bit!  Take a deep breath and surrender to God and get real with someone!  As a friend and I walked away from a coffee date a few weeks ago we both said we felt re-energized, encouraged and spurred on.  
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25
I doubt that we can do this by talking about the surface things, gossiping about others and answering 'I'm fine'... Pray, grab a friend or someone you want to be friends with, have a cup of coffee and be real.  Be blessed!

Image courtesy of Apolonia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Confessions of a Tween's Mom

My sweet Em
Emily tried out for the volleyball team for middle school last week.  I was super oober proud of her - I never did anything like that when I was her age.  She was brave!  She really hasn't played, but learned in gym class, then some open gyms at the middle school this summer and a summer camp at a local place.  She actually got pretty good quickly - got the over-head serve pretty good.  She didn't make it though :(  She handled it well - we prayed that it would be God's will if she made the team and if not He has something else in mind for her.

I, however, had a hard time with it!  It really hurt!  I really am struggling with wanting to 'prepare' her (actually control the situation - hm...never been a problem for me) for middle school so she doesn't have to go through some of the same hurts I went through!  Evidently one of the things I thought would make her sixth grade experience 'all that' was being on a school team. All my junior high insecurities are showing up with a vengeance.  I'm buying her shoes she hasn't even discovered yet so that she has what everyone else has and polling all moms on the time frame of when is actually the correct time to start shaving legs. I've spent how many years telling her to be herself and now this?  What am I doing?!  I need to back off and just pray!!  And be there for her when she does have problems...  But, does it really hurt to just ask her if she might want to check her braces for food or brush her hair before going out the door?  Just sayin'!

As parents, we want the best for our kids and we want to try to make things as easy as possible on them. We even want them to do things better than we did at their age.  But, we have to remember how we learned to do things better - we failed, we got hurt and we figured out solutions.  And as much as we want the best for our kids...God wants the best for them even more so. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 Thank goodness God doesn't give us everything we ask for.  He protects us from harm by closing some of these doors that we think would be best for our kids!

I think about how much I've messed up in my own life by trying to control things instead of letting God give me His best for me...I definitely shouldn't be trying to control other people's lives too.  I acknowledge that my children are 'fearfully and wonderfully made,' in His image.  They are precious and are His!  Releasing them over to Him, the world and themselves to make the decisions that they need to make in order to be formed into the adults that God wants them to be...this is a hard 'letting go' stage in a parent's life and one I imagine will be ongoing for a good few years in this house.

It's starting to get harder - the parenting thing!  My confused daughter told me the other night, "I don't know why I'm acting like this!"  Oh honey - I know!!  If only it got better after 11!  I still don't know why I'm acting like this!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rope Frame

I thought I'd try out posting about my craft projects.  I decided to order a nice picture from our family vacation to the Outer Banks, but when I went through my picture frame drawer, all I had was an ugly brown Walmart $3.97 special.  I had just bought some 2mm Jute cording (looks like little bitty rope and smells like burlap!) at the craft store, so I pulled out my hot glue gun and decided to wrap the frame in it.

It took about 20 minutes or so and it was done!  It was a bit plain, so I glued a piece of seaweed stuff from the beach to it.  You could use shells too.  Here is the final project!  Super easy, quick, and cute!