Saturday, July 8, 2017

This Bridge

Sometimes, the words we need to express can only be illustrated through poetry. As such, though I have not written poetry in years, I thought I'd give it a go for some thoughts I have been processing lately.

This Bridge

And crossing this bridge,
oh how it terrifies me,
as my inner child remembers
the words you used to scream.

And my throat tightens
with the fear of losing control,
as the lies you enforced
root deeper in my soul.

And my heart shudders—
no, pounds!—in my chest,
as I push away the reminders
of why I am such a mess.

And I have to choke back
all the tears I never cried
as I focus only
on the safety of the other side.

And fearfully I cross, praying
the bottom stays this time,
as I stare ahead, petrified
of veering outside the lines.

And I try to remember
in Whom am supposed to trust,
as I breathe slowly and go,
because crossing is a must.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Standing in Obedience

I have really debated about whether or not I would ever specifically address a situation in my life here, in this “public” format. I’ve turned it over and over in my head, and talked myself out of it at least a couple hundred times. I often chose to hold my silence to value the privacy of the parties involved. However, there is something God is doing in my life through this situation and I want to share. So, doing my best to still respect the privacy of the situation, I am going to try to share.

The back story.

On June 30, 2015, my husband told me he wanted a divorce. The journey since that day has been long and hard. There have been some really ugly moments along the way, and so many tears. There have been moments where it seemed like there was about to be a huge breakthrough which would lead to the restoration of my family, but there also have been many, many reminders of all the things which brought us to this point. God has been using this season to crack me open and expose all the darkness inside I have wanted to keep hidden. It has been exhausting and painful. It has also been beautiful.

I am relying on God more and more. I am desiring to see His will and righteousness in my life. There is still so much work for Him to do in me, but I hunger to be obedient to His commands more than I ever have before. I’ll be honest, though I hunger to be obedient, it doesn’t always come easily or with a joyful heart. There are times I feel like an angry 3-year old brushing my teeth only because I was told I “have to.” There are times I feel like I just want to toss away my faith and go a little crazy, because it would “feel good.” But, at the end of every day, I am reminded of Christ, His love for me, and His sacrifice, and I know that sometimes my sacrifice has to be one of dying to my flesh and allowing the Holy Spirit to cultivate the fruit of self-control. (There is still a lot of cultivating to do when it comes to my mouth, by the way.)

A call to obedience.

It is through this desire to be obedient to God that I have come to a place where I am boldly standing for my marriage. When this journey first started, I chose to stand for my marriage. Then, there were a lot of hurts which brought me to a decision to join my husband in throwing in the towel. I quit praying for my marriage, quit praying for restoration for my family, quit praying for my husband. I was hurt, mad, and I had no desire to stay committed to a marriage where I was the only one standing.

But, even when I had decided to throw in the towel, I couldn’t deny the fact that in the eyes of God and according to the laws of the State of Texas, I am still a married woman. At this point, we are not living together and reconciliation is not currently on the table, but there has been no divorce. There hasn’t even been a filing for divorce. As such, I am still just as married today as I was on June 29, 2015. Because I cannot deny this fact, I have been behaving as a married woman. I have not gone out on any dates or entertained any offers to be “set up.” I have not joined a dating site or put myself on the market in anyway. I don’t flirt with friendly guys at the grocery store. I still wear my wedding band.

During this time, when I was done with my marriage but recognizing I was still a wife, God began to do some work on my heart. He began softening some areas and primed me to be willing to accept this call of obedience. Multiple people in my life, from various walks and sometimes coming from an obscure place, have spoken restoration over my marriage. However, without those words of restoration, I would still be charged to be obedient to God in my behavior as a wife. This is where it gets tricky and incredibly difficult.

Obedience gives birth to blessings.

One of the things I have learned in my parenting journey which is playing out in other aspects of my life is that “obedience gives birth to blessings.” (Thank you to the beautiful women who wrote Triggers for teaching me this knowledge.) As a married Christian woman, God expects certain things from me, of which the obedience to is not conditional upon my husband’s actions. I am to conduct my behavior in a certain way because that way is the best way for me to behave. When I conduct myself according to God’s commands, I allow God the opportunity to bless me. This blessing is not because I am doing a “good job” at listening (works righteousness doesn’t work with God), but because when I am walking in obedience it means I am not junking up my life with the consequences of my sinful actions.

Sure, I could go out on dates, but what happens when feelings develop and the opportunity to restore my family becomes available? Or, what happens when I find myself in an incredible moment of fleshly weakness and spend a night doing something I will spend the rest of my life regretting? I could be a horribly vindictive woman and tear my husband down with my words and actions because of the ways he has hurt me, but that would be in direct violation of the commands given in Romans 12:17-21 and would only foster deeper wounds. (Confession: I am struggling with being vindictive at this time and it is so difficult that I have had to gather a group of my friends to be covering me in prayer over this issue.) If I act according my flesh and not the commands of God, I am giving a foothold to the enemy to come in and further destroy things.

When I chose to be obedient, it takes my sinful screw-ups out of the equation and gives way to God to have the lead role in this story. I know this is true, because I just saw the fruit of my obedience in a recent situation regarding my children’s education and my husband’s opinions. Long story short, I submitted my heart, was going to go forward with something I didn’t really desire to do, then last minute God came in, my husband’s heart changed and, in the end, I got exactly what I wanted from the situation.

Now, I know it doesn’t always work out so cleanly. God isn’t some magic genie who grants wishes based on obedience (again, that works righteousness thing doesn’t work), but because I didn’t get in there and make the situation messy with my personal sin nature, God was able to soften my husband’s heart and his mind changed without any manipulation on my part.

What this looks like.

If you are still reading at this point, you might be shaking your head, thinking I’ve got this all wrong. Especially if you know any of the history of my marriage, you might be thinking I am a fool for continuing to stand for my marriage. But I want to explain what this looks like and how it plays out, so you know that I’m not just some crazy, co-dependent, pansy who can’t stand the idea of failure in my marriage.

This standing for my marriage is an act of obedience to God. It is not asking me to do anything other than keep my heart committed to my marriage. I do this by behaving as a married woman should, by praying daily for my husband and his relationship with Christ, by praying for restoration for my family, and by “being still” and letting God be God. That’s it.

It does not require me to accept or condone my husband’s sins against me or my marriage. It does not require me to not have boundaries. It does not require me to go along with things which would cause harm to me or my children. Again, it only requires me to keep my heart steadfast in trusting God with this situation and daily walking in obedience to Him.

My commitment.

So, I will stand for my marriage until that is no longer a command on my life. And, on the days when it is hard to stand (there are plenty of those after nearly 14 months of this), I will ask my friends to cover me in prayer and remember the commitment I made to God and my husband the day two became one: for better or for worse.

I have no guarantees my marriage will not end in divorce. I pray that the blessing which is delivered from my obedience will come in the form of heart transformations which will allow my husband and I to reconcile and restore our family, but I am fully trusting in God if that is not how my story unravels. More than I desire to be in unity with my husband again, I desire to be in unity with God, however that ends up looking in my life.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Testimony (a piece of it) and Triggers (a book review)



A couple years ago, I finally admitted to myself that I struggle with anger. Before I was able to admit it, I would NEVER have used the word “angry” to describe myself. I wasn’t angry, I was upset, frustrated, annoyed, passionate, but not angry. Then, God started doing some hard work on my angry little heart and I was able to finally confess my weakness and sins relating to my anger battle.

After having confessed that I was angry, I was on the hunt for tools, books, tricks, etc. to deal with this issue. However, I still struggled with fully owning my problem and looked to my exterior triggers to point the blame: if my house weren’t so dirty, if my husband were more present, if my kids weren’t so stubborn... In my quest of materials to help me “fix” my problems, I stumbled across a link on The MOB Society for a Facebook group dedicated to helping moms of boys deal with “mommy-anger.” I clicked the link to join the private group, hoping there I would find something that would teach me how to “fix” my boys, so I could quit being such an angry mom.

For months, I was in the group, but never really present or active. Then, one day I commented on a post and before I knew it, I had changed the notifications of the group to notify me of every post and was catapulted deeper into this journey than I had ever imagined I would be. Amber and Wendy faithfully and lovingly presented convicting, Scripture-based truths which began to revolutionize my mothering and my anger journey. I had grown up in an “angry home” and knew I didn’t want yelling to be the soundtrack of my children’s lives, so I kept pushing into Jesus and using the group as a tool to help keep my focus on the issue.

In the summer of 2015, they started a series, based on “triggers”, in the group which pushed me even deeper. It was a tumultuous time in my life anyway, and this series was like a lifeline. Realizing all my “triggers” were opportunities to push deeper into my Savior and become further refined in His image changed everything.

I was no longer on this journey to fix my kids’ irritating behaviors. I was no longer on this journey to learn “tricks” to help me stop yelling (I had tried many, they all failed because they weren’t addressing the real issue: my heart.) I am now on this journey to grow closer to the Lord and allow Him to create in me a new heart, which will, in-turn, create a new legacy for my children. That is some powerful stuff, I tell you what.

When I heard that Amber and Wendy had decided to take that “triggers” series and use it as the grounds for a book, I was ecstatic. When I received my pre-release PDF copy of Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake, I instantly started using it as a daily devotional. It was convicting, but encouraging, and has stirred in me a desire to parent my children the way my Good, Good Father has parented me through all my years of immaturity and behavioral issues toward Him.

I am halfway through my second time in the book, this time helping to lead a wonderful international group of women through a study of it. I am planning on hosting a book study for moms local to me. I want to buy copies for every mom I know, because it is just.that.good. It is like no other parenting book I have ever read. I cannot urge you enough to get yourself a copy, it will be money very well spent and your children and your children’s children will thank you for it. (You can click on the banners on the side bar or the footer of my page, or find it on Amazon!)



Monday, January 18, 2016

Strong



As I have mentioned before, there are parts of my story which are painful to me. Growing up, one of the ways I learned to cope with these things was by pretending they either didn’t exist or didn't bother me. I was stronger, braver, smarter. I could handle this, and more, on my own, because I was not a victim, I was an over-comer. When I thought of the kind of woman I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew wanted to be one who could "keep it all together." The one who managed to take life in stride, with a smile on my face, ignoring the tears stinging the corners of my eyes. I’ve been seeing a thing going around Facebook lately which expresses pretty much this same thought, “Strong women know how to keep their life in order. Even with tears in their eyes, they still manage to say, ‘I’m ok’ with a smile.” (Some of the ones I see credit Joyce Meyers, some credit an unknown source, personally, whoever said it first doesn't make a hill of beans to me...)

The last few years of my life have been quite trying, with 2015 topping them all. Years ago, I would have plastered on a beautiful, but fake smile, lifted up my chin and pretended like it wasn’t phasing me. Life happens, you put on your big girl panties and go on. But God has been using the last few years of trials and hurts to help me see and understand a lot about myself and Him, and I am quite convinced that pretending I have it all together is not what makes me a strong woman. What makes me a strong woman is being able to admit that I can’t do it on my own, and allowing God’s strength to show up and compensate for my weakness.

Once I  stopped hiding behind the pretense of keeping it together, and started being able to confess my weakness, I started receiving healing for so many things, many of which I didn’t even realize I needed healing for! I have come to realize one very important truth which proves how very wrong my coping-mechanism was: God can’t heal what I am not willing to confess is broken. For years, I cried out for God to change things in me and my life, but still couldn’t confess my weakness, because in doing so, I was admitting I didn't have it all together and I was broken by things. When I was finally able to stand before Him and admit all my pride and efforts to keep my life in in order were vanity, I was able to move out of the way and let Him do His much needed work in my life.

I still have a long way to go with my healing/restoration process. God is still working out a lot of old junk that I had crammed away in my pretense of keeping it all together. However, I have no doubts that I would not be where I am today, and would not have the experienced healing I have, if I kept plastering on a smile and pretending I was "ok."

Now, when I think about the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up, I know I don’t want to be a woman people look at and see as having it all together, I want to be a woman people look at and see God holding it all together. Because, honestly, I can’t do this on my own and I know the only way I can keep a real smile on my face is if I let God have it all.

“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.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, January 4, 2016

Be Still.

Once upon a time, I got married. The day after our wedding, we were preparing to leave for our honeymoon when we heard a horrific noise that sounded like a cat screeching out in pain. We followed the noise to find our smallest, most beloved kitty had somehow managed to catch her leg in between the back of our old Blazer and the rear metal bumper. She was fighting like crazy, screeching and writhing around, trying to get out of that painful spot. The more she fought, the worse the damage to her leg became. It took my husband having to put on thick leather work gloves (which she bit through in her scared agony) and moments of struggling against her and the bumper before she finally found the release she was seeking. By the time it was done, she had a broken leg with much muscle damage and our honeymoon was delayed.

This is the memory God stirred in my mind recently when I was arguing with Him that I didn’t want the “word” He’d given me for 2016: “Be still.” I struggle with the “stillness” in God, mostly because I still battle so deeply with my overwhelming desire for control. I know it is sinful and idolatrous to fight God for control, but my trust issues make the struggle real for me.

This year, God is calling me to a season of stillness in Him. A year of learning to rest in His presence and allow Him to get me out of this painful spot. I know the more I fight to control my situation, the worse it makes things, just like my poor kitty’s leg. I have to understand what my kitty could not, the big hands are there to help me and hold me, not cause me more pain. Though I may be in pain, I must be still and allow God to do what is needed to get me through this. I have faith it will be through this stillness that I will be able to fully understand what it means to rest in the peace of my God and that I will be able to reach a level of trusting Him that will help me to conquer that sinful desire for control.


2016
Word: Be still.
Verse: Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Song: Oceans:
“So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Because sometimes the holidays are hard.

Confession: I sort of loathe the time of year between Thanksgiving and New Year's. December has been a difficult month for me for years, made worse so by my Nana's passing away 5 years ago, on my 26th birthday. I'd be lying if I said many of my December memories are not laced with hurt and disappointment. This coming December is promising to be the most difficult yet. Already I am an emotional mess (seriously, I cried in the Walmart parking lot the other day when my boys put their coins in the Salvation Army buckets.) 
As I try to brace myself for the emotions, I find myself wanting to fall asleep in a Turkey-coma, not waking up until New Year's day. Unfortunately, I have a life which demands my consciousness every day of the year, including the hard ones. I also have a huge desire to provide my boys with happy December memories. So what do I do?
I cling tightly to the only real reason to celebrate anything, Jesus. His love is the greatest gift in my life. He is my reason for breathing, for getting out of bed each day and pouring out all the love I can.
I know December 2015 will be hard for me. I am certain there will be many days I cry out to God to just give me the strength to breathe. But I am confident Jesus will meet me smack dab in the middle of all my hurt and carry me through, just as He has been faithful to do for years.





"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:4-13