Soul struggles and the New Year

The past few months have been a bit of a struggle for me. I am not sure if it is an identity crisis, mid-life crisis, spiritual warfare or all of the above. But thanks to some good life long friends and text therapy, I finally think I have had a breakthrough. I have a hard time sharing my struggles publicly because I am used to being the “strong” one. I am not sure how that persona ever got started but it seems to be the role I have “played” best lately.

I told a friend a few weeks ago that I felt like none of the people in my current day-to-day life knew me for the first 20 years of my life and vice versa (family not included). What I haven’t shared very often (that I remember, anyway) is that as a teenager I became convinced that I was going to die in a car accident before I turned 30 years old. As each new year brought me closer and closer to that age, I began to wander what life was going to be like without me. As a teenager I imagined all the bullies would finally feel bad for the all the tears I had cried over their words or perhaps one of the boys I had crushed on would finally stand at my casket and admit his undying love for me and how he would never love another – bit dramatic, ya think? Now you know where my kids get it from.

As I moved into my 20s I had children to raise and love and try not to destroy and even one to be held for two weeks straight until it was her time to be called back to Heaven. God worked amazing details during that time in November of 1993 but that’s better saved for a different time. I am pretty sure I chose to ignore many of the dangerous situations I allowed myself and my girls to be put in. Perhaps I had that underlying death wish guiding my way or perhaps God was directing my misguided steps to lead me to a new life.

30 seems to be an important number for me. As the idea of dying started to fade, I started to make deals with God, such as “if I am not married by the time I am 30, I am never going to be married again.” – haha! good joke! I know without a doubt that God sent Andy to me just a few months shy of my 30th birthday. And I know without a doubt that God orchestrated things in such a crazy way that would find us married 2 days after I turned 30. I don’t know how God found any man in this world that could put up and be so in love with the crazy that is bottled up inside this 5’2″ brown-eyed girl – but he did and I am ever so thankful! Our 18 years together have not been perfect but I remain convinced that God sent Andy to save me from my self-destruction and I know he is perfect for me!

My thoughts have been obsessively controlled for the past few months on that person and that life I had before I turned 30. Give me all the 80s songs and big hair and neon colors please! I have been reliving conversations and moments in time and I am not even sure which ones are real or fantasy anymore. I prayed and prayed that God would win this battle for me because I knew it was a spiritual battle and satan was working to keep my mind off the present and the plans God has for me. I felt like I had no safe place to vocalize what I was thinking because of the judgement that would follow or that my messed up mind would be taken the wrong way and people would be hurt by the endless rambling that kept me awake at night. I would share bits and pieces here and there with trusted friends and my husband but never felt free enough to let it all out. I just kept saying, “I think I am going crazy!”

Through some text therapy with a dear friend (one whom I have known over 30 years) I finally felt a break through. She didn’t say anything I didn’t already know. She just said things in a way that only she could that had me crying and laughing and not feeling guilty or shamed for the things we remembered from all those years ago. I slept so peacefully for so many hours and woke up with a smile on my face and laughter still bubbling from my soul.

In some ways, maybe I did die before or as I turned 30. I am not the girl I once was but I want to be allowed to remember her with laughter and not shame, or sadness or tears. I want to put aside all the pretenses of being a grown up and responsible adult every now and then. Because as my friend pointed out last night those years before 30 had a LOT of hard times but I was surrounded by an amazing close-knit group of friends and it is that feeling of acceptance that I think I miss the most.

Adult friendship is hard and it’s different and it is far more lonely than I think anyone wants to admit. We are busy in our roles of wives, mothers, grandmothers, employees, bill payers, house cleaners, and so on and so forth. and so very few us take the time to make our friends a priority. Somehow society has told us that if we spend too much time on ourselves or our friends than we are selfish and this diminishes our chances at wife or mother of the year. And many times, I think that we are just so tired of trying to be everything for everyone that it is all we can do to drop into bed at night and then lay there thinking of what the best school lunch menu days were or remembering that one time “when the lights went out in Jackson”. And then we shame ourselves because that was long ago and far away and my thoughts should be on the blessing God has bestowed on me today and how I can love better and serve better and mother better and just be better…and we wake up exhausted and do it all over again forgetting why we walked into the kitchen or where our phone is while it is in our hands.

y’all, I love Jesus and I love God’s Word if you know me at all – you know this to be true. But somewhere inside of me is a barefoot, big haired girl who misses driving down dirt roads with the sun beating down, windows down, music full blast and forgetting about the cares of day-to-day life. I still struggle to find a middle ground, but I think I can and I think God will approve. I suppose a part of me did die when I turned 30 and this life after 30 (closer to 50 now) is my best life but I wouldn’t have gotten here without those dreams and memories and people who came before. So I wont let Satan lie to me anymore. I will laugh when things are funny whether they occurred in 1987 or 2019. I will cry when the memories reach a tender spot in my soul. I will reach out more to the people who have always played an important role in my life and I will make it a priority to spend time with them beyond the “let’s get together for lunch someday” – and then someday never comes.

Will you join me in 2019, with windows down, music up and barefoot feet upon the dash? Life is a wild ride but let’s vow to find the joy in everyday!

Calm Down and Be Quiet

Do you ever feel like the world is just loud and it is hard to hear from God? Or maybe you are just so busy with all the day to day that you do not have time for downtime. It seems like everyday we are busier and busier and somedays we just forget to “Be still and know”  Psalm 46:10 – The NASB translation actually says “Cease striving and know that I am God…” Isnt that what we spend most of our life doing? Striving for success or love or happiness or freedom or to be seen or to be heard or….

A lifelong friend of mine once said that I was one of the few people she listened to and sometimes she just needs to be told to “sit down and shut up” – isn’t that what God tells us to do time and time again in His Word? To trust in Him to handle even the smallest of details. God says this same thing through Isaiah to Ahaz in chapter 7. Ahaz and his people “trembled likes trees of a forest shaking in the wind” at the news of nearby fighting and invasions of other kings. Though these kings were plotting evil and Ahaz knew it, God says “sit down and shut up, I’ve got this!” It’s hard to just sit down and be quiet when society tells us we should always be striving for more!

Being quiet doesn’t necessarily mean not speaking. The Theological  Wordbook of the Old Testament says that shaqat means “be quiet, tranquil, at peace.” and further describes it in the following way:

The basic idea of the root is ‘tranquility.’ It implies the absence of strife, war or trouble o the one hand, and worry or anxiety on the other. It may also imply the absence of a pressing obligation, or again, of some disturbing element that mars a relationship between individuals.

How can you realistically practice this today? Is there a thought or worry in your mind that you need to let go of? Do you need to carve out space in your planner to just “Be” – to be with God or to be with His People? Are you the type of person that can easily just calm down and trust God or is that a last resort for you? Whatever you are facing today- face it with God and imagine a lifelong friend telling you to just “sit down and shut up” and to let God handle it!

Be well! Dwell with God, in His Word and with His People!

 

 

 

72

fb_img_1534130288983Growing up and well into my adult hood…like until today, I never thought much about the other followers of Jesus during his ministry on earth and soon following his death and resurrection. There is much emphasis on the 12 and those closest to them. However, reading in Luke 10 today a few things stood out to me. 1) He sent 72 others 2) He sent them in pairs 3) He sent them to every town and place where he himself was to go 4) He asked them to pray because the harvest was “abundant” and the workers were few.

These are important things for me to remember today. Many of us feel called to ministry and we do not always know what that looks like. There are so many big names in ministry today and for me this causes a lot of doubt and insecurity. I don’t know how many times I have said “no one wants to hear what I say” or “I’ve got nothing new to share” – but the thing is everyone’s mission field is going to be different.

Jesus did not tell the 72 to go to the places where the 12 had already gone. Jesus did not send the 72 on their own to cover more ground- he sent them together. He sent them to the places where he was about to go and He encouraged them to pray for more workers.

So you see, your mission field is perhaps just your home or your workplace. You don’t have to have a big following or a formal ministry. You were not meant to do it alone. Grab a like minded friend- encourage each other. Support each other. Pray for each other. And know if you are called to “go” to a certain place (even if its in the next room) this must mean that Jesus is preparing to be there too!!!

No matter how many workers there are – the harvest for followers of God is growing! There will never be too many workers! Your mission is not going to be the same as my mission. Don’t believe the lies that the world doesn’t need another woman talking about Jesus! Take the next step, grab your partner, and just Go.

As you continue to read in Chapter 10 Jesus gives more instructions and basically He says – I have already given you all you need. Go and offer peace. Not everyone will welcome you and in that case; move on! Keep those in your prayers but don’t dwell there. Move on!

Maybe your name will never be known outside of your home mission field. Maybe you will be like the unnamed 72. Maybe you will wonder if you even matter. Trust me. You matter! Those 72 were able to reach people that the 12 were not. You are able to meet and minister to people in ways that the Big name preachers and teachers can not. The world needs all the workers for Christ.

Don’t give up. Jesus will never give up on you.

 

Be well! Dwell with Him, in His Word and with His people!

Mark 3:23-27

15325210949171773094450452648661I have been praying that God would give me something to share and He never fails!!

Reading today in Mark 3:23-27.

One only has to open social media or turn on the news to see how divided out nation has become and this trickles down to effect our states, our cities, our Churches and our families.

There is a lot of talk about staying United. Yet everyone has their own idea on what that looks like and while we scream for acceptance and tolerance… we, ourselves, are often not very tolerant of those who are not the “same” as us.

So back to these verses…I wrote in my Bible about not letting Satan tie me down and keeping my eyes on Jesus. “Be strong in the Lord!”

Yesterday I was watching Netflix with my teenager. And it was like going to church; such a lesson on love. Sharing Jesus and loving unconditionally.

At one point the lady who was featured in this episode said “you can not antagonize and evangelize at the same time”!!! And I about stood up and shouted “amen! Hallelujah! Amen!”

How can we ever stand together against the forces of evil when we are so busy pointing out what we see as sin, posting disrespectful comments about our leadership or those who do not think the same way we think they ought to???

The notes for Mark 3:23-27 refer to the “strong man” as Satan. We must tie him up with love. Unconditional love for each other. Being United in love is the only way our families will be strong. In order to change the world, we have to start small and like a spark (it only takes a spark…sorry had to stop and sing my favorite  church campfire song) those flames of love will spread. Love conquers all!

Who can you show love to today?  And how will you do it? I would love to hear about it!

Be well! Dwell with God! In His Word and with His people!

Again with the Obedience and Blessings lessons

I was so excited to see answers in God’s Word moments after I journaled a prayer in my Awaken by Priscilla Shirer journal. I wanted to do a live video to share about it. But…it’s HOT and I didn’t think anyone needed to see me sweating and squinting in the sunshine. For those of you who have followed along or heard my ramblings this year, again I am being reminded about being obedient and the blessings that follow. I had selected the word “purpose” to focus on this year but it seems God had other plans.

To begin my few moments of quiet before the children or grandchildren found me, I was reading Matthew Chapter 4 and I underlined verses 19-20 in my bible. This is where Jesus tells Simon Peter and Andrew “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The Bible tells us immediately they dropped their nets and followed him. I know  I have touched on this before but today I also noted how they did not ask questions, they did not wonder how they were going to eat or have necessities. They did not worry about how they were going to provide for their families. They simply listened and followed him.

I next moved to the devotional which was titled “Hearing is Believing” and spoke about David and Goliath. The journal prompt question was “What types of things are your fiercest battles saying to you right now?” I journaled about the implications of being unemployed and going to grad school and incurring further debt. I wrote about feeling tired and that nobody or nothing gets the best of me or all of me- everyone gets a little but I can’t fully surrender. I ended my journaling with this prayer:

Lord,  Help me to commit fully to You and to the roles you have placed me in – to the people you place before me. Help me to show your love and commitment o to others. Pick me up when I fall – remove the sense of failing from my life. Help me to trust in you! Amen

After journaling I like to look up the verses that are included in the devotional. The second verse today is Isaiah 50:4-5 which is titled “The Obedient Servant” and it says: “The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me each morning: he awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed. The LORD God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I did not turn back.”

This sums up so many of the lessons I have already been learning this year. Listen to hear, be obedient, share with others, be blessed!

While there are days of doubts, days when I don’t give my best to anyone, I still move on- small steps at a time. Listening for the Lord, sharing his word and being blessed when what is written here touches the lives of one of you. I guess that’s why your feedback is so important to me. It encourages my soul and my obedience with blessings that I am able to see here and now because I know God’s plans include blessings for others that I will never know about on this side of Heaven.

Until next time 🙂

Dwell in Him, In His Word, With His People!

gena

 

God answers prayers

Malachi. 1:2a says “I have loved you,” says the LORD. Yet you ask, “How have you loved us?”

Do you ever have to consciously remind yourself that He loves you?

Here is a bit of my recent reminder!

Last August I lost my job after 10 years of working from home. That was just another situation following the previous few years of moving, death of loved ones, and periods of depression.

In November I was offered a position at a job I didn’t really want and really felt God had called me to stay home and focus on being a mom and a wife!

In January 2018 I had a phone interview for a job at a nearby church which seemed to be a perfect fit. However I did not hear back from them until April at which time they were again looking to fill the position. After another phone interview, 2 face to face meetings and introductions to other staff members I was told that “leadership” had decided not to fill the role at this time. I imagine my surprise when 2 weeks later I see the same job posted once again on Linked.

Since August I have applied for over 200 jobs. Interviewed for about 5 and been offered 2 that my family and I had decided were not the right fit. I have even “interviewed” and been passed up for volunteer positions.

I had begun to question my worth and why nobody wanted me! When I saw the job posting the other day, I almost was upset and then I remembered my prayers! I had and have asked God that if anything came my way that was not in His will for me that He would close those doors! I have been reminded that He called me to focus on being s mother and a wife. I often say “my greatest mission field is in my home.”

God is answering my prayers. The lack of employment had allowed me time to focus on my health and search for answers, time to stop and listen when my husband talks and be supportive of decisions he makes as the head of our family (especially when those decisions are disappointing to him), time to spend a week with a life long friend sharing laughter and tears and most of all God”s relentless love for her, time to answer phone calls from my children’s school, time for hour long or multiple phone and video chats with my adult children, time to pray and read and study, time to begin new friendships, time to travel with my mother, time to sit on a porch swing with my cousin, time to drink coffee and talk and laugh with my aunts and grandmother, time to share a message from the book of Jonah at the cutest little church in the world, time to cram my assignments for seminary and submit them at the last minute before their due date, time to sit on my new to me patio furniture and read His word,  and time to have my grandchildren safely under my care.

While this time and season may be a little but tight financially, I am full beyond measure in blessings! God amazes me everyday that I choose to open my heart and my eyes to see how He loves me!

God loves you too! Open your eyes and heart and look for those ways He is showing how He loves you today. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy whatever time or season you are in!

I would love to hear how He loves you! Share a comment, send me a text, call me on the phone or come on over the back deck is open and we have plenty of chairs!

Be well! Dwell in Him, in His word and with His people!

 

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

Are you living in the freedom of Christ? Do you ever get tired of the “oh woes me” self-help books, tweets, snaps and posts that seem to inundate your news feed? Please understand I do not think I have it all together. I do think those tools are useful. I just think sometimes we focus so much on our worldly shortcomings that when we go through seasons of goodness- it is kind of hard to enjoy it. I stop to question, am I really at peace right now? Did I really enjoy a half hour of silence soaking up the sun (yes I am an 80s girl who still likes laying out)? Shouldn’t I be trying to figure out where my shortcomings are and what is wrong with me today? Shouldn’t I be spending more time in God’s Word or serving His people or Shouldn’t I be sharing some intelligent new thought on Christian life that no one else has shared before???

There are a lot of shouldn’t I’s we could listen to. There are lots of resources for our sinfulness, our loneliness, our anger, our sadness, our past mistakes, our comparisons, our need to seek Him more. Of course, the best of those resources is just simply His Word itself. Studying God’s Word convicts me, calms me, gives me joy and reminds me that I am loved.

And sometimes I don’t need to be reminded. Some days I just know! I feel Him near, I see Him moving in my life and life is just good! So let’s not be afraid to celebrate the good days. Let’s not be waiting for the next shoe to drop. Let’s just enjoy a sunny Saturday knowing that God loves us. He has claimed me worthy as one of His own. He has called me to His Kingdom and so no matter what this life brings I ALWAYS have something to look forward to. Today I declare that the end goal is worth it and it is enough for me just for today! Today I am soaking up the Son! Today I am being thankful and praising Him for all of His Blessings – bc I am His and He says I deserve it! He chose me and I choose Him, today and Always!

Go out and enjoy your weekend. Celebrate like you are royalty because you are! You are the child of the King of all Kings! And nothing can ever take that away!

Dwell with the King today, Dwell in the King’s Word, Dwell with the King’s People and Be well!!