Sorting the Pain

Have you ever struggled to understand what is from God and what is not? Ever thought… “God, you would never let me feel this much pain. This must be from Satan.” I want to be explicitly clear in saying I believe God can turn ashes into beauty no doubt. The question is: Did God make these ashes?

Tragedy after tragedy continue to overtake the world. Some people and communities are directly impacted to the extent of disbelief. Right now our little community in South Carolina is taking a lot of hits. I find myself questioning and struggling to find the peace that surpasses all understanding like I think I should. My guess is others may be doing the same.

It is no secret we live in a completely fallen and broken world. Children being shot and killed, suffering and passing away from cancer, breaking bones, and feeling fearful of death are all proof of the brokenness. These are just a few examples of the direct impact of pain-staking blows our community have recently been suffering. Not to mention, a dear friend and teacher’s brush with death after a stroke that came out of the blue. Bad news after bad news after bad news. And then a major hurricane!

How do we sort this all out and understand why God keeps letting this happen to and around us? Is it God’s way of creating pain beyond belief so that we have no choice but to lean on Him? Or is it His way of testing our faith to see if we fight or flee? Is He that kind of God? Does he need to test us? Does He need to let bad things happen to good people for any good reason at all?

These are common questions for times like these. There are no answers I can give that will satisfy any understanding because I am not only human. And so are you. It is okay to question. It is okay to struggle. I give you that permission today. However, I will gently remind you. He is a God of mercy. He is God of all things good and bad. He already knows the response to these tribulations that test our faith. He was, is, and is yet to come. Praise Jesus.

When you find yourself feeling hopeless, look around. Look at the slew of people coming together to comfort and honor the families of those suffering the most. Look around and the vast number of people praying and turning to God for peace. No need to stay in the valley when there are fellow Christians with their arms extended and hands open ready to lock in with yours if you will just take it. You are not alone.

We do not have the ability to sort the pain into categories of what is from God and from Satan. Nor do we need to attempt to. Our hope is in the Lord. Our answers are in His Word. The tests are not answered with A, B, C or D choices, true or false, or written essays. A true testament of faith is believing in the hope not the answers. In the abstract not the concrete. Instead of trying to sort the pain to understand it, rest in the hope of these promises.

1 John 2:25 NIV “And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.

Isaiah 49:25 “I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.”

Luke 18:27 Jesus replied “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Advertisements

Worth the Pain

Ladies, correct me if I am wrong. Nothing is more embarrassing than spiky legs during shorts season. The older I get the more time I want to spend taking care of my appearance. The problem is I have less time to spend and more of me to take care of. It used to be so easy. I could throw my hair into a ponytail or messy bun, put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and a little make-up and I was good to go. Now, I need to think about those unruly eyebrows that grew overnight, wrinkle cream, and adult acne for goodness sake. Granted, I may be a little more vein than some, but after years of letting myself go, it is now time I make myself a priority.

Earlier this summer I had a bright idea to try something new. I heard it was pretty painful at first but I personally think my pain tolerance is pretty high. Some folks said it was not bad—you get used to it. Without thinking too much more into it I decided to click on Amazon to check out some reviews. Some reviews suggested buying the cordless one you can use in the shower while the pores are more open so the pain is not so bad. Some reviews said the double rotating ones are the way to go and way more time efficient. Some suggested only using it in certain areas because the pain was unbearable in others. I went with the middle of the road painful one and waited with anticipation for arrival day.

Seven days later, I received the little box in the mail. I quickly opened it ready to get started. I read the instructions carefully, took the top off and plugged it in. I turned it on and slowly guided the device toward the bottom of my spiky leg. The night before, my seven-year-old son had put a blanket down on my legs before sitting with me because in his words, “my legs are like Pop Rocks when he sits on them.” I was prepared for this new adventure in hair removal.

The EPILATOR with 72 rotating tweezers touched the bottom section of my shin on the front side of my leg. The momentary pain was EPIC! Its name should have been the Epic Pain Epilator. Suffering seconds of intense ripping pain I continued to persevere gently gliding the epilator over my “Pop Rocks” leg. The pain only got worse as it went on. After just a few small areas, I had to stop and regroup. The sweat slowly dripped down the center of my back. The red bumps began to pulsate from each tiny pore in my leg from each hair being violently ripped out of its home. Once I could finally breathe normally again, some deep thoughts popped into my mind. Odd timing, I will give you that. But the Lord spoke to me through this experience and I just have to share.

Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him. He never said it would be painless. He never promised the path of least resistance that leads to Him would be the way to go. However, He did promise the end result would be worth every single second of pain we endured getting there. Life is messy. There are bumps and flaws and frankly, moments of epic pain that makes us doubt its worth at all. It would be a lie to say there weren’t times I wanted to give up. There were times I asked the question out loud, “Is it worth the pain?”

By the time vacation rolled around in July, I was able to lay on the beach with smooth flawless legs (besides the cellulite). Was it worth the immense pain it took to enjoy my week at the beach stubble and shave free? The verdict is officially in—Yes! It was worth every bump, every second of hair pulling pain and sweat that went into the process. One less thing to worry about now because I did not give up then.

During this particular season of my life, I am suffering through some of that same kind of painful moments that cause me to question God’s will. Is it worth the pain to continue down this path He called me to follow? Why does it seem so hard if it is from Him? How can I get through this in one piece? What is the end result? Will it be worth it? The verdict is not officially in yet on this one. But I can officially say it will be worth it. My faith tells me that. My experiences remind me of that. His promises are still true even during painful times. As long as we have breath in our lungs we will have the choice to trust and obey or quit and give up. My choice today is the hard but worthy one. What about you?

 

Five Ways to Make Every Moment Count

Whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom making every moment with your child count can be a major struggle. The daily demands of a job, household chores, and extra-curricular activities bog families down oh so quickly. As a mom who has worked full-time outside the home, part-time within the home and everywhere in between I know just how difficult it is to manage a household. With two kids playing sports the manageability becomes almost impossible, I know. Here are a few ways to make every moment count with your family.

  1. Drop everything and cuddle even if only for ten minutes. Show your children or husband how important they are by stopping whatever you are doing when the opportunity arises to snuggle up on the couch together. Whether you read a book, look at pictures, watch a few minutes of a television show, or even play a little Super Mario…it counts.
  2. Take pictures of the little things. Quality time is hard to come by at my house so I try and capture every moment of it. My husband is thoroughly annoyed by the constant photo sessions, but I do it anyway. When we are playing a family game of Life and everyone is chattering about how much money they have, I snap a pic. The candid shots make the very best memories. When we look back at photos together, we are reminded of those fun times we may otherwise forget. Memories are made in moments. Instead of stressing about the amount of time spent together, make the best of what you have.
  3. Do small chores every single day as a family. My husband came in from work today and sent the kids running around the house to collect every trash bag out of every trash can. Then, he scooped up my son to ride to the dump together. While they were at the dump, my daughter and I folded and put away a load of laundry I had started before work this morning and then moved to the dryer after we got home from school. I also have bathroom cleaners in the bathroom so I can clean the toilets and showers quickly and often. One trick I found that helps is having more than one set of cleaning supplies. Upstairs I have a duster, Windex, paper towels, etc. upstairs so I can grab them quickly for spot cleaning without running all over the house. Fast, efficient and frequent cleaning throughout the week leaves more time for freedom and relaxation for those days off. Who wants to spend nights and weekends cleaning? Consider hiring help for cleaning if this is a struggling area in your life.
  4. Teach your kids (and husband) independence. You do not have to spend every second serving everyone else. If your kids are old enough to run their own bath water responsibly, let them! They do not need you to pour every drink, make every snack, pick out every outfit, or ask permission to go to the bathroom. They figure these things out if you let them. So does your husband. Respectfully let them know you believe in them enough to sit back and watch. Show you trust them by stepping back while they pour their own bowl of Cheerios and milk. If they make a mess, they know how to clean it up. Responsibility and independence are part of growing up. They deserve to have some freedom and so do you! When you feel less pressure and they feel more independent from you, the whole family dynamic improves. The kids and husband come to you because they want to rather than out of necessity. Don’t you want to be wanted more than needed?
  5. Read the bible and pray together. If your family reads scripture and comes together in prayer you are sure to make those moments count. Above all else put God first and give your family to Him. When everything else in our lives seems overwhelming and crazy, He remains. He was and is and is to come. If you get nothing else out of this, please understand this. It is never a waste of time to devote a few moments to read His Word and pray together as a family unit. And snap a pic if you want. 😉

 

What Next?

Lately, I consistently ask the Lord, “What next?” He always answers whether I like it or not. As a follower by nature, I embrace the fact that He holds ALL of the answers. Since I despise making decisions, it is absolutely baffling to think I went against the grain to let go and let God for so long before. At this point, surrender has never felt so good!

So what is next? My book is on the short list of what’s next. Let God Win. While the world seems to be crumbling around us, one thing remains and that is God. Let God win. These words give us the freedom to surrender every struggle or fight in this life and simply let God win.

God makes no mistakes in His timing. My initial plans were quickly overpowered by God’s plans (which is a major theme in my book). With final edits in and design in progress, my plan to release the book this fall seemed logical until last Sunday.

If you live in the Upstate you probably heard the news; Perry Noble will no longer be the senior pastor of NewSpring Church. Not only does our church and our people play a huge role in my story, but also Pastor P’s words encouraged me to pursue this writing dream. His sermons struck a fire in me I never knew I had. Countless times, I walked out of a service saying, “It felt like God was speaking straight to me through that message.” I am not alone in feeling this way because I’ve heard others saying it, too. However, the truth is Perry is only a vessel. His vessel may have been broken, but the seeds were planted and will continue to grow. We will pray for Perry and his family. We will gather as a body of Christ to pour back into him what he poured out to us. The Lord is not finished with us yet.

The statements on behalf of our church and Perry himself were heartbreaking to hear. However, Brad Cooper said it best, “The God of the Bible is a God of comebacks.” While I burrowed into my bible searching for encouragement to share with our church staff and friends, something occurred to me. The pressures we put on ourselves to do God’s work are not from Him. He is patient. When we slow down and truly listen to those subtle cues from within, we realize there is not a deadline for His work. Obsessions develop as we focus on a God-given task such as reaching 100,000 people or publishing a book. These visions are clear so we become driven beyond our own control to complete the task we felt God led us to complete. In the end, only God controls the outcome. If God sees you to it, He will see you through it. I believe I have heard that a time or two! How does this relate to my plans? Simply put, I cannot force my book to completion before God says it’s time. No rush. No pressure. God’s timing.

Today, I met with a soon-to-be-co-worker of mine to fill out new hire paperwork. Next month, I will be a full-time early interventionist (with a full-time salary… praise the Lord). In the meantime, I am still working my It Works! business, volunteering at church once a week and sometimes from home, and enjoying the last few weeks with my babies before school starts. Did I mention I am also a contributor for The Glorious Table where life is shared and grace is poured out? Check it out at http://theglorioustable.com/. My plate is full right now. To squeeze in all that is involved with publishing and a proper release of a book would be overwhelming. One step at a time I will allow God to lead me. As for Perry, his family, our church, my book, and myself only God knows what is next. All we have to do is be still and know He is God. I believe the best is yet to come with all of my heart!

“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

Let God Win: Living the Unexpectedly Better Life will release in February 2017. Would you pray with expectancy for this book today? Also, would you please pray for Pastor Perry and our church?

A Movement

It’s time for a Movement

God knew this would happen. He knew there would be a time in 2016 in which our country fell on bended knees in prayer and surrender. Some folks are angry. Some are outraged. Some are reactionary. Some are scared and sad. All people should be moved. It is time for a movement.

Let’s move people! Join hands to pray, laugh, cry, and hug it out. Is it not that easy? I disagree. If each one of us joined hands with one person around us to pray for God to move in this time of unrest, we will see the movement begin. Rather than yelling and screaming at each other, what if we moved together in unity to let God prevail?

Far fewer lives would senselessly be taken. Far fewer families would be left devastated. Far more good would be seen. Far more unity would be felt. Stop this madness!

My relationships have never been based on color or ethnicity. Thankfully, I was not raised to judge others. For those of you who may not have been raised in the same way, I pray you are able to see past your teachings and dig deep into the heart of the matter. We are all God’s children.

Bottom line, we all come from the One who created us. Our Lord is Lord of all. How could we bear so much hatred for each other when we are brothers and sisters in Christ?

I cannot help but believe some Christians are shooting other innocent Christians while forgetting their heritage. Honestly, I pray the victims knew Jesus and are rejoicing with Him in heaven. The lady live streaming her boyfriend’s agonizing death on Facebook called out to God in disbelief. Imagine the shock she was experiencing during those moments. But, who did she turn to along with the entire world of social media? The One who made us. She asked for prayers. The fact that prayers are the first go-to when asked what a family needs in the midst of a tragedy proves that God is the ONLY answer.

Why wait until a time of tragedy to ask for prayers? Pray now. Pray for our country to unite as one people one nation. This nonsense division between races is beyond ridiculous. In 2016, our laws recognize non-traditional marriage and families to be as accepted and fair as traditional marriages. Somehow the racial tension has completely dominated the media and attention over that big news while also creating more of the target of attack in the community!

What is happening? Is this real?

Sadly, it is real. This is really happening. Presumably, innocent black men are being shot cold-blooded by white officers. Maybe these officers have been scared into thinking they are endangered. Maybe the media has scared them. Maybe they truly made the wrong decision in the heat of a moment and will regret it every single moment to come. There is the possibility they racially profiled these victims. The videos capture the heinous acts of lives being lost in front of our very eyes. While I understand the underlying reason for the videos I still cannot believe this day in age we are able to watch death unfold on our screens no matter what the circumstance. It is absolutely heartbreaking that it has come to this.

And following these terrible deaths of young black men, officers who had no connection were shot cold-blooded by the hands of more hate. While I support law enforcement and believe there are many noble officers who lay their lives on the line to protect us, I also support those innocent victims who have died at the hands of an officer’s wrong choice. Both are equally tragic.

So, what do we do? How can we fix this? We can’t. We are nothing apart from God. We have no control over this situation at all. We can, however, pray for God to guide our actions and move. When our lives are completely out of control what else can we do but let go and let God? Nothing about this situation surprises Him. He knew the devil would inch his creepy little tail into this hatred and multiply it through social media resulting in this unbelievable nonsense. Now He is waiting for us to turn to Him; allow Him to win. God has this, y’all. He has you!

All we have to do is slow down. Stop feeding into the hatred on social media. Find a friend, join hands, laugh, cry, hug it out, and pray! My black friends, my prayer is for you to know I love you. No matter what I love you. My white friends, my prayer is for you to know I love you. No matter what I love you. All of you, I love you. No matter what I love you. It’s time for a real movement, friends. Will you join hands now and pray? Laugh, cry, pray. Hug it out! God will win if we let Him. The choice is ours.

Letting God Win

In my book, I divulge this idea of letting God win during the internal struggles we all face. Spiritual warfare is so real and many times I fail to seek and follow God in the face of adversity. Would you be willing to admit you struggle with this too?

A few years ago, I began to lose all control of every aspect of my life especially my children’s behavior. When I talked with friends and family about my problems at home they all gave the same advice – give it to God. I kept telling myself I was doing just that but in my heart, I knew I was still fighting for control. As my frustrations with my children, husband, and ultimately myself escalated I spiraled into what some may consider a depression. All the signs were there: sleeping during the day, not sleeping at night, body aches, headaches, anger, no patience, and very little joy. I heard that still small voice in the distance telling me to hand over all my worries to Him.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – John 6: 33-34

Instead of trusting the voice of God I continued to make appointments with doctors and therapists in hopes of finding all the earthly answers. The scientific and medical answers were legit. I believed everything they said was true; however I did not believe the measures of treatment were right for our family. Against my own judgment, I followed the ways of the world rather than the Lord. Lessons were learned the hard way.

As our Heavenly Father always does, He waited patiently for my obedience. The gentle nudges to get us back on track were there. I felt them pushing me to surrender the medicines and therapy appointments to the good old-fashioned tough love approach with absolute consistency. All earthly approaches were failing so what could it hurt to try following a more biblical approach?

Once our family kneeled before God and surrendered completely once and for all, the burdens of control were instantly lifted. Each step of the path laid before us was simply revealed as we asked. I admitted I had not been giving my worries to Him and asked for forgiveness in which I was immediately granted. Aren’t you thankful for a patient and forgiving Savior?

Each morning I would rise to complete surrender. It was a daily choice to surrender my family to Him and a daily choice to ask Him what He would have me do. All of a sudden life was manageable again. Patience and joy were part of our family again. We prayed together each morning, afternoon, and night. One line made its way into almost every prayer – God, please help me let You win. What did we mean by this?

One night instead of a bedtime story I explained this concept to my children. I make mistakes all too often by letting the devil win. This peaked their interest and seemed to stir something inside them. We talked about a situation we experienced earlier that day. Jake wanted something Ali had and grabbed it out of her hand which led to a screaming and fighting match between them. They said they knew God wanted them to make good choices but both admitted it was hard to listen during their fits of anger. If we are honest, we can probably admit we have the same problem. We want instant gratification just like Jake wanted his toy so badly he was willing to take it from his sister rather than asking for it. She was quick to anger and revenge. We talked about slowing down and allowing God to win in those situations. The devil wants us to grab that toy and cause anger but God wants us to slow down and ask first. The devil wants us to get mad and yell but God wants us to slow down and forgive.

It really is that simple. Slow down and ask first. Slow down and forgive. When we slow down and consult God before making decisions we allow Him the chance to win over the devil’s quick temptations. When we want something so badly we forget that good things come to those who wait. There is truth in that statement. My life was a complete mess when I was in control and quick to make decisions. Because I wanted my children to listen to me I forgot to teach them how to listen to the Lord. I was not allowing God to win within my own internal struggles. I was wearing thin while fighting a losing battle. How could I expect my children to win their own battles?  We were exhausted.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11: 28-30

Are you fighting a losing battle in your life right now? Take some time to allow God the chance to win the battle for you. #LiveFree #HappyLife

 

 

Playing the Comparison Game

Picture this. It’s Tuesday. I spend the bulk of this sunny day working on my computer in my t-shirt and sweat pants. My five-year-old daughter wearing nothing but a nightgown plays with her toys and enjoys her laid-back day inside. Working from home as a writer and It Works! distributor leaves little motivation to get dolled up just to see no one. Makeup and high heels not a high priority on the to-do list these days. Especially since working out is somewhere on that list.

So here it is…..2:45 p.m. I throw some jeans on and brush our hair. All we had left on the agenda was hopping in the car, swinging through the car line to pick up brother, and heading straight back home. That was the plan. But, you know how plans change. Brother had a great day at school and asked to meet some buddies on the back playground. Sure! Why not?

I whip my Nissan around to the back parking lot to meet my neighbor, another mommy friend, and a combined slew of kids between us. Brother hops out and runs off to play. I turn around to see my princess pouting in the back seat. She now regrets running out the door barefoot in her Elsa jammies. And being the diva she is, she would rather pout in the back seat than pout in the arms of her mom. I offered to hold her as I sat on the bench. But, got no response.

Meanwhile, a friend offers the shoes off her own feet and our neighbor happens to have a spare pair of flip-flops just the right size. Still no budging on the attitude. I decide to pick up my 57-pound baby girl and set her inside the gazebo off to the side of the playground. She needs to have some alone time there. I walk away to let her have her space and join the mom chats.

As I stand there in the shade watching the children play and listening to the other moms talk, I begin to compare myself to them. My head fills with lies or at least only half-truths. I am the chubby one. I am the short one. I am the only one working out alone at home (and struggling at that). I am the weird one. I am the one who brings my daughter to the playground in her pajamas without shoes. I am the worst mom. And surely everyone sees me that way, right?

Miss Diva Thing ends up getting over herself at some point while I am lost in my self-pity over here. She must have put on those borrowed flip-flops and ran to the jungle gym proudly in her Elsa gown. I finally realize she is having a great time playing with her friends. I snap out of my head games for a moment and think……who are we trying to impress here?

Later that evening, I talked to my husband about my feelings and what I assumed the moms must have been saying about me to themselves. He looked at me and rolled his eyes as he normally does when I get all girly emotional on him. His exact words, “who cares?” My answer, “I don’t know.” Because if I am 100% honest with myself, I don’t care.

I was perfectly happy with how productive we had been on a Tuesday. We even had time to play with dolls and eat lunch together. On a Tuesday! If we had spent that extra time picking out our outfits and straightening our hair, we may have missed one of those special moments together.

Don’t you get sick and tired of worrying? Am I good enough? What do those moms think of me? Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. I just make them often, even daily. What I learned from that day……..who cares?

I guarantee those moms understood completely and never even thought twice about the nightgown and missing shoes. I was the only one judging me that day.

Don’t let yourself play the comparison game. You can’t compare. You are who you are. God made us all different. Shouldn’t we model that to our children? Don’t we teach them to accept themselves the way God made them? Why can’t we accept ourselves the way God made us? He gave each of us a special gift. Mine just happens to be the gift of loving others. Sometimes I forget that I need to love myself, too.

It’s all a mind game we play with ourselves. We compare our parenting. She makes her kids look me in the eyes to speak. I only encourage my kid to answer without using potty words. All too often we measure ourselves by our children’s appearance and behavior. Who are we kidding? That kid may look you in the eyes and use the best manners, but my kid always means what he says. If he looks you in the eyes, you should feel extra special!

We all have something we can improve. There is nothing wrong with learning from each other. Sure. I teach my children how to use their manners, but forget to enforce them sometimes. I need to see other moms practicing what I preach and do the same. I just don’t need to beat myself up when I fail. I am a good mom. I am good enough. I am the mom God made me. I bet other moms see me that way, too. No need to compare. Lesson learned……for now. 

 

 

To-Do or To-Don’t

Have you ever had a never ending to-do list? The days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, and the list only grows. Before you know it, you find yourself putting these words on the list: quiet time with God.

In a recent blog post I stated how obedient I had been the past few years. I mentioned putting God first in my daily life for once. That was true for a season. Then came the season of to-dos!

We bought a house. A house with great potential. But, there were so many things I could not wait TO DO to it. I made a new list every day. I reorganized the list as I added to it. Not only did I have a to-do list for the house. I had separate to-do lists for the kids, groceries, dinner plans, and all that good stuff. I literally had to write down things like: sweep kitchen, wipe counter tops, and take out trash, etc. just to keep it all straight. Sadly, I soon found myself forgetting to have quiet time with the Lord altogether. Or, if not forgetting, I was putting it off until some of the other to-dos were checked off my list first.

“God first” had been my motto for months prior to moving. I loved waking up each morning at my old house, taking my baby boy to school, then sitting down with my princess at the kitchen table drinking my coffee with my Bible wide open in front of me. The words poured out of that Bible just as smooth as that coffee went down. All of a sudden, I found myself forcing the words down between unpacking and finding order amidst the chaos of the new house. After about a month of forcing it, I needed to make a change. I put the words quiet time with God at the top of my to-do list. That meant I was really putting Him first again, right? Ha! Let’s be real. I was trying to make myself feel better, that’s all. God knew my true efforts. # 1 on a list means nothing if I rush through #1 just to get to #2.

Fast forward a few months. The house is in order (somewhat). The list is finally done (somewhat). I crossed some big things off that darn list. I threw the rest in the trash. That to-do list was intended to keep me focused and organized. In reality, all it did was distract me and cause dissatisfaction every single day of its existence. Finally, I could move on with my life. Finally, I felt the Lord truly coming first again. Finally, I was satisfied with my house that I almost grew to resent completely because of its dumb old to-do list.

Are you in a season of to-dos? Do you find yourself rushing through your time with God just so you can move on to the next task? Or do you even make time to squeeze God in at all?

I am here to tell you. Be still. Know that He is God. Trust He will provide the guidance you need to get the ever growing list done. More than likely, he will eliminate a good bit of that crap. Nine times out of ten, we get bogged down with the minute details in life that do not even matter in the least. Truly putting God before “the list” means spending real time with Him. Seek Him first. Nothing else matters.

Don’t put God at the top of your “to-do” list. He deserves more than just a check marked off your list. 

When Having it All Together Tears You Apart

When Having It All Together Tears You Apart

One of my most honorable achievements in life was becoming a teacher. I imagined growing old in the classroom doing what I loved for the rest of my life. I never imagined doing anything else. That’s probably why this year-long hiatus has thrown me for such a loop. I still dream of teaching those sweet children again when God opens that door. Until then, I will reflect and learn from this time He gifted me.

I spent years trying to put myself together as a teacher, wife, and mother. I focused way more on outward appearances rather than inward growth. Even though I loved teaching, I knew God was calling me to take time off. He was calling me to share my God stories with others. But, I was worried about what people would think. I held thoughts inside my head even when I felt like they were about to burst right out of my mouth. People might think I was crazy if I talked about God all of a sudden. I held it in as long as I could.

All this time, I was SO missing the point! Clearly God was urging me to speak on His behalf. Obviously! He was nudging me like an elbow straight into my side. I worked so hard to keep my mouth shut when I literally wanted to scream out, “God is good!” Why did I spend so much time suppressing my feelings? I think I have an idea.

When God leads us to share His goodness, it usually causes us to admit our own weakness.

When my husband and I struggled with the loss of a job nearly seven years ago, we pretended to have it all together. We did not intend to need God in this situation. Without the Lord’s presence in our home during that time we may not have stayed married. We may not have made it through without a pile of debt. We may not have done a lot things. Or maybe we would have. I don’t know. But, I do know that God was our only true hope during such uncertainty.

“He must become greater; I must become less” ~ John 3: 30

During this situation we were required to become less. We were able to see the miracles only God could perform. We had no choice but to rely on Him. We were struggling in our finances and our marriage. And to top it off, we were having a baby! Ready or not. Had we not been blessed with that baby even when we thought the timing couldn’t be worse, we may not have worked harder at our marriage. We may not have worried about getting back on our feet financially. Because God knew what it took to get us there, we now have a testimony. When we become less, He becomes greater.

Why, after learning this hard lesson earlier in our marriage, did I still strive to become more on my own? I wanted to be successful in all the ways of the world. I wanted to be the most awesome teacher. I wanted the best car, the best house, the best kids, the best hair, the best everything. God would soon show me just how ridiculous that was. He knew I needed another hard lesson. We were obedient when He called us to move to SC. We were obedient in so many ways. But, I still found myself wanting more.

God allowed me to get there over a year ago. I was on top of the world. Great teacher in the best school ever. Money was not so tight. Both of us were climbing the career ladders. And then……God rocked our world. He guided us through tough times with our children. Tough times with our relationships. Tough times with our morals. And all of a sudden, it all made sense. It was not about ME!

I pulled my son out of his “perfect” school. I quit my “perfect” job. I stayed home to be the mom my children needed me to be. I worked on being the wife I was called to be. I put the Lord first in my EVERYDAY life for once. I did not wait until I had time to read my bible to spend time with Him. I actually made it my FIRST priority. I spent time with Him which made it easier to talk about Him when I felt that elbow in my side! Just like when you have a best friend you spend a lot of time with. When you talk to other people, that name comes up often. Yep. That’s God. He is my best friend now.

I don’t have to have it all together to talk about Him to others. I had to fall apart to learn that. It was all about Him from the very start. He wants all of me. Not just a part of me that has time for Him. Just when I thought I had it all together, I happily fell apart. I love my messy life now.

I struggle with uncertainty. I don’t know what my next step is sometimes. I do know that when I depend on the Lord to make that decision, the burden on my shoulders is lifted. I am His. Unconditionally. I must become less. I love Him being more!

Because I said YES!

  • Because I said YES to Jesus all those years ago at a church camp – I can live in the freedom of grace and forgiveness!
  • Because I said YES to my calling – I wrote a book that will impact others and inspire them to grow spiritually! 
  • Because I said YES when God said “Don’t Give Up!” After turning down a shot with a big book company’s offer, God gave me Meredith. I officially have an editor working on my book that will be published! He always provides a way!
  • Because I said YES to quitting a job I loved more than anything – I became a better mother and wife for my family. I followed through with writing my book and doing what it takes to get it published! 
  • Because I said YES to an opportunity – I became an It Works! distributor. While I wait on the next career opportunity God places in my life, I can provide extra income for my family along with helping others (and myself) get healthier!
  • Because I said YES to moving away from my hometown– God has done immeasurably more than I could have ever asked or imagined! And I have friends in both places! How lucky am I? 

~ Will you say YES to Jesus? I promise it will be the best decision you will ever make!