Sunday, August 12, 2012

Forgiveness: A Reminder from my Past

Tonight, I discovered an old notebook I used awhile ago, and found an old journal entry that was inspired during a very low time of my life.  I'm not sure if I posted this, because this journal entry was written back when blogging was a more frequent thing for me.  But I felt that I wanted to share with whom ever decides to read this:

1 Thessalonians 2:8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

All today I have been under the pressure of conviction at having behaved in a way that doesn't align with God's purpose for my life.  A great public confession is not needed, just know that I suffered great disappointment in myself at no one's fault except my own.

Remorse and contrition are not my favorite emotions, and this is the first time I've experienced them since being healed from the shame of my past.  But a contrite heart I indeed had.

And, of course, being the performance-focused person I am, I have been wanting to hide all day.  Being in an airport didn't help, having so many avenues of literal escape.

I gritted my teeth, and sat in my seat with low spirits.  All the failures and flaws suddenly weighed on me like a rock around your neck before being thrown into a lake.  My Bible felt like a concrete block, and my Beth Moore homework was menacing.

I opened up to the week on Gentleness, the eighth quality of the fruit of the Spirit.  Not the gentleness like, "I gently laid the sleeping baby on the bed," but gentleness as in, according to Beth Moore and her extensive inspired research, praotes (it's Greek).  Praotes involves having humility, stifling and emptying pride, replacing it with Jesus Himself.  It involves putting myself in the proper place in lieu of God's grace.  (Thanks, Beth Moore, btw)

That means, as John said in John 3:30, "He must increase, and I must decrease."

So for about an hour, I let go of the shame, as it threatened to become a stronghold and excuse to give up.  I emptied out the self-disappointment and self-loathing.  In fact, I took the "self" out completely and replaced it with TRUTH.

God loves me.  I am His sheep and He always carries me back when I've wandered from the flock.  He is the Father patiently waiting for the prodigal.  

In only a few moments, as I practiced (and it is a practice) humility, laying my soul face-down at the feet of Jesus, I was healed of shame and the resulting spiral into despair and loneliness.  Then, I was struck by such kindness.  Such empathy, sympathy and encouragement to keep fighting the good fight.

As I began feeling the relief and freedom of forgiveness, I felt set right again.  But it didn't stop there.  He continued to speak to me.

I came upon 1 Thessalonians 2:8, written by Paul to his friends in Thessalonica.  I had just experienced the lovingkindness of the Lord, read this verse, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me about my ever-lingering loneliness.  He reminded me that out of His consuming and powerful love for me, came people who loved me enough to tell me about Him. 

There were many given the thankless job of planting seeds in my heart.  There were those who saw the actual transformation happen.  Next were those who fed me the spiritual "milk" I needed and whose friendships protected me from the enemy's many attacks.  And now, God shows His love for me through those whose fond affection for me prompts them to impart wisdom through their lives to me.  I have become dear to them.  

Oh how my heart not only has been forgiven and set free, but my soul has been soothed and cared for.

I am ashamed no more.

I am lonely no more. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Olive Trees and Sweet Memory

I ran today between a row of tall olive trees while the sun peeked out and the breeze was soft on my skin.  My life, for the moment, was still.  No rehearsals, bickering children, middle-of-the-night screaming, constant fighting against the defiant.  I was not in demand by a thousand different things, and could actually hear the lyrics of the songs playing to my ears. My heart rate was up, the sun felt hot upon my black sweatshirt, and my breath was hard to control.  But it wasn't as hard to breathe as it is to breathe in real life.  No,  I'm nearly stifled in the day-to-day, oppressed by the ever present "You will never be good enough."

But this morning, I let that go.  I shrugged off my own critiques, my own misguided and sinful obsessiveness.  I asked to be delivered from myself,  "my hateful thoughts" as Bethany Dillon sings.  And as my shin was being pierced by invisible darts and my ankle cried out for rest, I forged on and kept the forward motion.  "Just a little farther, to the end of the trees." 

And every pound of my feet on the path takes away the anguish of loneliness and frustrations and despair and self-loathing.  Making way to see God's grace and hear his Voice gently calling me.  "Child, be still."  I keep running, but my soul quiets and rests.  

I've come to the road, and my knees and the old ankle injury remind me to take it easy.  So I slow to a walk, and use my remaining time alone to soak in, admire, and breathe in God's creation. Back through the olive trees.  Blue sky laden with white clouds, sunshine peaking through the leaves and branches of my favorite tree.  And the breeze, cooling my skin and washing peace over me.

The washing peace, the lovingkindness of an infinitely loving and abundantly kind God.

I wanted this peace-giving breeze to be God's hand on my cheek, under my hands holding His.  A gentle touch that needs no words, but speaks of water-tower filled care and grace.

I blink and flashback.  A memory from my little girl-hood.  The same age as my Lela, 10 years old.  Details are fuzzy, like a dream tried to be remembered.  But I remember the little boy.  He was my friend.  He talked to me, listened to me, and offered his help.  I remember his brown hair, and that his name was Phillip. And Phillip listened to me when I felt I needed a place to go.  And offered his family's little shed to hide out in.  "Someone cares about me." 

His brown hair, shaggy over his forehead, offering his inhalor to me when I started wheezing during a blow-up of dust. So sweet.

There wasn't much else.  But I remember his voice, filled with youthful innocence, soft and compassionate.  A small, sweet light tucked away in my childhood memories.

The breeze came again, this time whispering, "I was always with you. I am always with you, beloved one."  Back then I felt alone and abandoned, even when I wasn't.  Now, I often feel alone and abandoned, even when I'm not.  

This world tells its inhabitants that Alone and Abandoned means Unworthy and Undesirable.  Unworthy and Undesirable because of Not Good Enough.  And Not Good Enough brings out the deepest, darkest, death-causing disease of Self Obsession.  Sin at its sneakiest.

Oh confession.  How you sting, yet bring healing. 

And God.  He spoke to me with Phillips small, boyhood voice.  "I'm here."

The breeze, a warm soothing washcloth with the fragrance of peace to ease my aching soul, breathed restoration.  Deliverance.  

The Holy Spirit filling where a moment ago, emptied.

I praise His Holy Name, the One who created the universe and beyond, but takes tender care of me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Declaration of a Saint

I found this in my journal, written on November 9th, 2011.  I don't know who this woman is, but I want to be like her.

I will arm myself with the lessons learned from the past.
but I will not dwell there.

I will not look up the steep mountainside of the future,
for it is too daunting to search the unknown.

I will trust in Him who created all that is me,
all that is around me.

I will live with what God places in my hands: the present.

He has redeemed the past and plan the future;
His purchase is permanent,
and plans never changing.

Whatever is to come,
I will not "brace for impact."
I will live for Him in the now,
doing what I can to serve and love.

I will trust Him with what He has taught me.
I will trust Him with what He's given me.
I will trust Him with what He has told me.
I will trust Him with the uncertain and unrevealed.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? 
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides you." --Psalm 73:25

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Marathon, One Crawling Step at a Time

I've been laid out for a few days because of a stomach bug.  I didn't have any meals going the wrong way up my esophagus, but I did feel all my available energy diverted to the defense systems.

Yes, I totally just alluded to Star Trek.

and LOL-ed.

Anyway, I have been sleeping a lot.  And in my profession, that means nothing got done.

I take it back. The kids are still alive, school got done, and the house didn't burn down.

But other than that, nothing got done.

Hence, the latest Facebook status:

"Stand in the middle of life and feel overwhelmed. Check.
Play piano in worship. and procrastination. Check.
Stand in the middle of life and struggle not to burst into tears. Check.
Moving on because crying is not your thing. Check."

It's not just because of the multiple children that have overrun my house.  

Ok, maybe it is.

But there is also the husband.

And, the laundry. And the dishes.  And the taxi-service, the meal preparation, the practicing piano, the anxiously waiting for all the tax forms, the laundry room that smells like garf, the dog that needs to go to the vet, the super-spiritual-mandatory-to-be-a-good-Christian quiet times, the disastrously messy master bedroom, the gross toilets, the quickly emptying gas tank, the low bank balance, the hubby working 8 graveyard shifts in a row, the early and freezing runs, the other runs (TMI?),  the lying bathroom scale, the annoying dawdling pre-teen daughter...

and soo much more.  

But I've run out of clever adjectives for clever phrasing of my daily duties.  Or whatever they're grammatically called.

So here's the point:

Stay with me here. . .

The above picture has captured three pairs of legs of three marathoners.  Notice they look pretty decent.  You know, all buff and what-not.

And I've said before that life itself is a marathon.  One that I am painstakingly running/training for.  

Taking the metaphor even further, I'm fairly certain, almost positive, I don't look like the above picture. In fact, today I looked more like this:

and felt like doing this:

I know as a SuperMom I'm supposed to be like this guy:

only trendy and pretty and whatever.

But truth be told, I am not SuperMom and today I hit a wall.
So what did I do?

First, I took a deep breath.

In with the Holy Spirit, out with the lies and feelings of failure.

And then I took about one hundred more breaths.  While my children ran amuck and I was cooking lemon chicken and my 2-yo dumped all of the pattern blocks onto the kitchen floor.

In, out.  In, out.  About a hundred times.  Sometimes I yelled in between: also therapeutic.

So on my way to my bathroom, I kicked some of the blankets and dirty clothes into one pile next to the laundry room.  Before I washed my hands after finishing my business, I cleaned the bathroom floor a bit.  On my way out of my bathroom, I picked up three bags of hand-me-down clothes and put them in the boys' closet.  Back in the kitchen, I cleared my counters, did the dishes, and drank green tea.

I didn't plan it out.  I didn't put those things on a to-do list. I was just walking to the bathroom.  I was just walking back from the bathroom.  I was just waiting for the chicken to finish baking.  

When I ran 10 miles last week, I didn't plan every mile.  First, I just made myself get to one mile.  Then 2.  I fixed my form.  I took a few deeper breaths to relax.  I made adjustments to my stride.  I fixed my shoe laces.  I stopped to stretch.  I re-fueled.  And a couple of hours later, I was at the end. 

One step at a time.  One thing at a time.  

Thinking of the 10 miles as a whole, I was definitely overwhelmed.  Looking at my life in general, I was frantically overwhelmed.  

But somehow, in my total weakness and desperation, the kitchen got cleaned.  The kids' teeth got brushed and kisses and hugs given and bedtime over-with.  Math assignments were finished, laundry was done and the master bedroom bed made.  A small bowl full of Whoppers was consumed while still remaining under caloric budget.  

And a great and inspiring blogpost was written.  

Ok, maybe not that last part.

But if you find yourself, as I did earlier, at the end of your rope and wanting to weep and gnash teeth and all that junk, just be real with yourself.  You're life is overwhelming.

Just do one thing at a time.

Run one step at a time, no matter how slow and painful.

And then post it on Facebook so people know that you are a real person, not SuperMom.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012



In India's caste system, the people of lowest social class are called "Undesirables."  They are the poorest people, living in slums.  In the Hindu religion, there is not much help offered to these people because of the belief that the Undesirables were reincarnated to this life for a reason.

I think in this world there is a tendency, especially among women, to place ourselves in a similar spiritual "class."


Every time I say it, it's just too comfortable.

As a believer and follower of Christ, I live in the hope that my life here is just the beginning.  I live in hope that God cares for and loves me.  Someday, when I am permitted to abandon this shell, I will be with Him in a place that needs no sun. . .where there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more shame. This life I live now is only the beginning.

Temporary. Meaning I don't belong here.

A stranger in a strange land.

And yet, hampered by this body with all its flaws and fragility, tainted by the sin nature that continuously tries to overcome me, I find myself thinking the way this world does.  I have begun thinking in terms of instant gratification, the pursuit of happiness, the acquirement of possession, the need for entertainment, and the coveting of a beautiful image.

My hope slips a little. I don't measure up.  I don't have enough.  I am a failure. I am not pretty/skinny/striking enough.


But then I remember what God had created:

This is the God that loves me.  He counts the very hairs on my head.  He knew my name before I was even knit in my mother's womb.

This God that created the heavens and the earth regards me as Desirable.  Beloved.  His o

And if God is for us, who can be against us?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm Breaking Up with My Self, 2012 Mission Statement

I had a truly blessed morning today.  I woke up early, ran 4 miles while having adult conversation with a new friend, took a quiet uninterrupted shower and put my makeup on without someone tampering with my brushes. I was left alone to my musings, my daydreams.  And God spoke to me in my meditations:

No more.

As in, no more self help.  I'm done with the self.  

I have a love/hate relationship with my self.  Seeing that as unhealthy, I'm breaking up with my self.

And yes, I see the irony in writing a blog about myself breaking up with my self.

But hey, I'm not perfect. *shrugs

Anyway, back to me.

Here's a little background:  In my profession as a mother, I've found that I've become jaded.  Just as law enforcement officers get jaded with life because they only deal with dirtbags 50-60 hours a week, I think mothers get jaded with life because each day is like the other.

Kids don't think, "Today is mom's birthday, so I'm not going to pitch a screaming fit in the car and kick her seat the whole 20 minutes to her party."  Mother's Day is just a plain old day because the car broke down and cleared the bank account.  Dishes and laundry and grocery shopping could all care less about your 104 degree fever.

The hours are endless, the rewards are few.  There are no pay raises or bonuses. Not to mention the view that professional motherhood is undesirable, unsexy, and boring.

It becomes very easy to start becoming bitter.  The danger in this profession is isolation.  Put bitterness together with isolation and you get one walloping pity-party. It's as if we are going to write a formal complaint to HR with a complete list of rights violated.  And as icing on the cake, add in the demeaning and false thoughts we already have in our self-talk.

This is the point I'm at in my career.  My head is constantly bombarded with lies about my worth, lies about my parenting, lies about my body, lies about my marriage, lies about my faith, lies about my image.  My inner perfectionist cannot stand the fact that I am not perfect.  I struggle with the imperfections of my children and I grieve that my marriage is not storybook.

All of this makes me itch to turn in my two week's notice.  Except that I can't. And I am only half way to retirement.

*Deep breath

This passed year has been a struggle and a blessing.  I have had to disregard all of the above feelings (and I am not exaggerating the all part) and live purely on truth.  Never have I before experienced the miraculous change in heart that comes from obeying God's Word and hanging on to His promises.

But by the end of the year, I noticed that I had compiled my own list of "truths", gathered from various resources.  All the mentors' voices, words from relationship books, parenting tactics, reminders to feel God's remarkable love for humankind, walk the talk, etc. etc. etc.

One giant checklist of things I need to do to improve my life, feel more satisfied in my job, attain the happiness I feel I deserve.

The only problem is, I will never be able to finish the checklist.  Because this endless list of "How to be a Good Mother, Wife and Christian Woman" is self-inspired.  Not God-inspired.

So in conjunction with changing my diet to sustain my physical body during my real-life marathon training, I will be changing my diet to sustain my spiritual marathon training.

No more self-help books of any kind.  Because living a life that is loving and serving and obeying sets the self aside.

It is those three things: loving, serving, obeying, that gives one a fulfilling and satisfying life that is full of joy and hope.  Not the improvement of self.  The self only serves its self.

And, you know, I don't really like my self.  Well, I love my self and take care of my self.  But because I know every detail of what goes on in my head, I find my self very loathsome.  I relate to Paul when he says that he is the worst of sinners.  I am the worst of sinners.  And no self-help book is going to change that.

Yet, I am saved.  Redeemed.  Well-loved.  God's Beloved.  Taken just as I am to be a beacon of light in a dark world.

I am forgiven. I am free from the bondage of my sins.  I am cleansed from within, and made beautiful when the Holy Spirit glows from my heart.

In His Word He regards me as cherished.  My life verse says, "He gathers the lambs in His arms and keeps them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young."

He knows all about motherhood and its joys and trials.

No more checklists for me.

Instead. . .

2012.  Delving deep into God's Word and getting to know Him in a whole new way.

Because life isn't about the self.  It's about God.