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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Living The Bitter (less) Sweet Life / when you've been hurt



Life is good. I could end right there. It's good.

Life has been good for me for awhile now. I've gone in and out of troubling scenarios with my kids or my health, but by the grace of God, I survive. I gain wisdom, understanding and strength. I'm way stronger now than I've ever been.  Not physically, but that's an whole other topic. But I know who I am and what I want more than I ever have. And I know who to go to when life seems off kilter.

Seems being the key word. Because the word "seems" usually parallels to the word "feels." And we know that what we feel in a moment or in a season may not necessarily be truth. Although, I do validate feelings, because they are real. You can't tell someone to not feel hurt or sad if they are hurt or sad, but the question is 'where do we go or what do we do with those feelings?' Is it possible to move on?

I wanted to share something that the Lord spoke to me recently that has helped me a ton to move on and live in freedom and really love people. I'm mean for real. Love them. It's super simple, yet chock full of wisdom.

Last summer, I was feeling yuck. I can't really put my finger on it. But I was feeling sort of hurt, offended,  and just overall sad. People were making me sad and it seemed as though I was living a life of being either let down or full on abandoned by people. It's sort of the unfortunate nature of the beast when you are a preacher's kid. And I just got used to it. People leave or people talk, and you hear about it. And if you let it, it can take a little piece of your heart every-single-time. And I was feeling weary and worn down of living the past 30 years this way. It can be rough. I was honestly just tired of smiling and hugging people or liking everyone's facebook status in my very best attempts to 'walk in love.' I was doing a pretty good job of pretending I was okay. I was letting it roll of me 'like water off a duck's back' as they say. Yet inside, I was one big Blahhhhhh! Ho-hum. Wah-wah.

I was taking a walk, talking to the Lord about it one day. I didn't want to try so hard to walk in love. I really didn't. I was tired of making the effort to love. What I really wanted was to genuinely love people. Friends, enemies, frenemies and naysayers. I really just wanted to be genuine when I prayed for people. I really just wanted to hug people and not feel burdened on the inside with bitterness or sadness. And I was honest with the Lord about it. I told him like it is and how I felt. Because really, who wants to live like that? It's a crummy way to go through life. And God is cool like that because he listens. And He tells YOU like it is back.

The weird thing is, I didn't even realize I was holding on to any bitterness. I honestly thought because I was doing my best to smile and walk in love, that this was enough. My very best effort to walk in love was equivalent to forgiveness, no? As I was talking to the Lord about it, He said "Why don't you forgive them?" Wait, what? But God, I liked their facebook status. I smiled at them at church. I hugged them. I waved when I saw them at the grocery store. I did my very best, didn't I?

To even try to walk in love in our own strength, in particular when we've been hurt, will never be enough to move on or feel happy or content on the inside. It's a nice try and your heart probably is in the right place when you go on pretending as if all is okay for the sake of your 'love walk.' But if you truly want to feel free to love, it starts with forgiveness.
By that I mean, speak it. Say it out loud. God, I forgive 'so-n-so" and I release any bitterness and all hurt I have felt because of him/her. I want to love that person like you love them, with your love. I thank you for going to the cross for me, I thank you for forgiving me and because of that I can and will let go of any hurt or  pain because of what they did or said and I will let go of any resentment I've harbored ...and I give it all to you.

I hate to say it, but I had lists. Things I didn't even realize were hurting me still. And I went through them one by one. People I loved, people I didn't care for all that much, anyone and everyone. I remembered situations I had let slide. I remembered things said that made me cringe and my stomach sink. The tears rolled. But I gave every last bit of it to the Lord and I forgave 'em all. And wouldn't you  know it, my heart is free. It's free from all the yuck. The sad feels. The irritable feels. The frustration. And I can love people authentically now.
If a new situation occur or things get said that make me want to crawl back into the hole of contempt, I remember what God said to me... "Why don't you forgive them?'

I told you, Simple...yet profound. And liberating. Stop trying so hard. Just forgive them. And love will be easy.

I want to challenge you now. If you are thinking of a person or people that you've tried hard with. You've smiled. You've hugged. You've let it roll off you, in sort of a pretense of walking in love. Maybe you forgot to give it to the Lord. Maybe you forgot to actually forgive them. Maybe, like me, you need to ask God for his forgiveness for hanging on to it and trying to do it all in your own strength. Do it now. Say it out loud.
God, I forgive them. I want to love them like you love them. I want to walk in freedom from hurt and bitterness. I give it all to you and from this point on I can smile and hug  and love with sincerity. I don't have to pretend any more.








Monday, January 2, 2017

What I'm Saying Yes To In 2017!



2016 taught me a good many things about what I want out of life. Particularly as I sat down this fall and began to give myself a few hours to really pray and think over what I did and didn't want. Like most of us do, I want the good stuff. But a lot of the time I'm too busy, too scared or talk myself into a frazzle or frenzy to really embrace the good stuff. Somewhere in my brain, the good stuff becomes the bad stuff. Because the meaningful and good responsibilities and opportunities in life feel more like chores, chaos, hard or things I have to do.  But I started to think, it's not the stuff that is bad or overwhelming. Could it be our perception of it has gotten off, rather? And although we may need to say no to a few things, a lot of time, we end up saying no to the things that were intended as blessing and abundance of joy and peace.

My friends and I talk a lot about how we need to get together. It's not like we ever walk away feeling disappointed in the once or twice a year that we actually do it. Yet, somehow getting ourselves to that point. That point where we HAVE to get dressed- HAVE to go out of the house and do something enjoyable with the people we love feels like a chore. Why is that?

Why do that things that are good for our spirit and soul and body feel so extremely hard some days?
I began thinking about how this happened. How did the really good things in life somehow become the things we sort of dread and maybe even stopped doing. We've lost perspective. We've lost sight of the blessing and joy we once felt really being with those people or doing that thing we used to hold important.  Over time we let life overwhelm us and we start saying no. But we start saying no to the wrong things. We began saying no, because we got preoccupied with unimportant things. Or busy things. Or us things. And the more we said no, the easier it has become to say no and eventually just stop all together. Probably not on purpose. Maybe our intent was a little break or me time (which isn't wrong) but somehow when we began focusing more on us, we forgot the things really made life worth living to us.

So recently and going into 2017, I'm saying Yes to saying Yes. I'm not letting the perishable things overtake the worthwhile and eternal things. I'm not letting my No be sort of an automatic response just because it's what I've become accustomed to doing in my, dare I say, laziness. I'm weighing the importance of the things I'm presented with and I'm choosing the good things.
I'm pushing myself to really esteem the people, the family, the church, my body, the calling and this life God gave me. I hold them highly enough to remember them, the spend time with them, to work on them, to encourage them, to smile with them, to talk kindly about them, to work diligently on them, to serve willingly with them and to enjoy doing it all. Because I don't have to do any of it. I get to. They are beautiful opportunities given to me by a merciful God who loves me and a Heavenly Father who knows what's best for me. A God who sent His son, Jesus to give me an abundant life.

I only got one shot at 2016. I missed chances to be present. I missed chances to change my attitude. I missed chances to love others. I missed chances to work on my health. I missed chances to smile and laugh with my people. I missed chances to honor and encourage people. I missed chances to step into what God called me to do. But in 2017, I am saying Yes more often.

What I'm saying Yes to in 2017!

-Being Bold and Brave in what God has called me to do. I know bits and pieces of my place in this big enormous puzzle of life. I don't know everything. But what I do know, I won't shy away from. I will walk confidently in it, because I know the Greater One lives in me. And I believe when I speak, God will speak through me. So I will walk in what I know...

-Spending more time with my parents. I see my parents often. At least twice a week. But I've taken for granted 'seeing them' and replaced really loving them with my time and heart for a brief hi and bye at church a few times a week. We've had a few scary moments (at least for me while my parents were in the hospital), though my trust was in the Lord. But these past few years I've seen how important it is to be with the ones you really love. Because life can pass quickly and for some too quickly. And I never want to have any regrets. I want to give my all.

-Actually seeing My friends. Sometimes this means girls nights in. Sometimes this means girls nights out. Sometimes it means play dates. Either way, I'm committed to not getting lazy and actually acknowledging my friendships someplace other than social media. I have never ever walked away disappointed and almost always walk away needing my inhaler from laughing so hard. This is so good for my soul. So YES!

-Going to church and liking it. Ok, I grew up in church. I was/am a preachers kid. Ever since I can remember, I've gone to church 3 times a week, if not more. As an adult with 4 kids of my own, it got more difficult, but we've tried our best. Because really, no one ever got hurt from learning about Jesus and sitting in His presence, listening to His word and being around other believers (for the most part). It's a habit I want to instill in my kids. Maybe it sounds old school. Going to church more than once a week. Hardly anyone does it anymore. And as our church has gone from 3 to 2 services a week and our midweek volunteer status has dwindled. It's been easier and easier for me to say NO to church more than once a week, because I honestly have no one to watch my toddler. However, with the convenience of the situation, it affected my attitude somewhat. Not negatively per say. Just indifferent, I guess.  I truly love learning the Word. I've been sitting under the same preacher (Daddy) since I can remember, yet rarely when I go to church, do I go in rolling my eyes thinking I've heard this all before. Because the Word of God is life and His presence is refreshing, no matter what. And I know if I go in expecting to receive, I will. So I am saying Yes to church and receiving what God has for me in the place he has me. If I'm going to skimp, this isn't the place I want to do it.

-Laughing and playing with my kids. 4 kids are a handful. I have a toddler, a teenager and two in between. It's not for the faint of heart. I've gotten overwhelmed and stressed and snippy and cranky more often than I like to admit. I've looked at my phone when they had to repeat their question over and over again...more often than I like to admit. And I want to have fun with them. More game nights. Movie nights (though those rarely go over well in my home). More conversation. More one on one date nights. I want to give them moments to remember. So when they grown up, they don't just remember how much I yelled at them, but how much we played and talked and snuggled.

-Fun day with Wyatt once a week. Wyatt is with me at home, all day, every day of the week. The little dude is the happiest kid in the world when we get to go somewhere. He loves to get out of the house and explore. So I committed myself to attempting a 'once a week' outing with him at a gym, play yard, fun zone, park, pool, wherever it may be.

-Gain Knowledge and Understand Truth. I am generally a really touchy feely sort of gal. I'm a heart girl more than a head girl. When God speaks to me, it moves me, tears me up, inspires me and really gets me thinking. But lately, I've sensed myself shift in a bit of a new direction. I want to gain knowledge and rescue truth in a world where so much opinion, false doctrine & political correctness is esteemed. And now when God speaks, it get's me excited because I can see His plan and purpose laid out throughout time. I want to know and understand what God is saying, why He said it and to whom He said it to without preconceived ideas. I want my heart to be wide open and my eyes to be wide open. I want to understand people's hearts too, yes, but so that I can better relay God's truth. Because His truth is the only one that will set people free from bondage. And I feel there is a reason God is shifting my time with Him.. I can't place my finger on it quite yet though. YES to Knowledge, Understanding & Truth!

-Writing. I started writing on this little blog of mine 4 years ago today! Whoa, I just realized that. And I've toyed with the idea of book writing or writing a devotion. Time, motivation and lack of confidence has kept me quieter as the years have gone by. But this year, I'm upping the ante and getting back into the swing of things. Yes to slipping away more often and letting the words pour on out.

-Rest, Nutrition and Exercise. I really hesitate even putting this out there, because ever since Wyatt has been born, I've failed miserably in all three areas. However, with current health issues and toddler issues, I really, really, really see (and feel) the need for good health and I have to start somewhere. I'm saying yes to better choices. Going to bed earlier more often, Yes to healthy foods (not just no, to junk food) and Yes to exercise, no matter how hard it seems to do it.

-Date Nights. Really, what are date nights? I sort of pride myself on letting the world know that Jeff and I have only been out alone maybe a total of 5 times alone since Wyatt has been born, for 4 hour increments at most. We finally took a little 2 night trip for our 20th Wedding Anniversary (What?!) But no more. We will budget and plan date nights (or days) this year. If they have to be in house, they will be, but they will happen. YES to fun and romance with my man!

-Serving and Encouraging. I sincerely enjoy serving people and serving my church. I like encouraging others. But at times, it has felt like 'what's the point?' When we are not recognized or felt like we are not needed, we can get apathetic in this area. But the Lord has spoke this to me, as written in a recent post, "Do It For The Ones That Show Up." There is always someone who needs what you have. My church needs me and someone needs to me to say or do what I can say or do. So despite what it looks or feels like some day, I will continue to step out and step in with a good attitude. I will continue to set my hands to good things.

-Prayer and Life Speaking over others. I'm tired of the complaining. I'm tired of the whining. I'm tired of the gossip. I'm tired of the tiny sparks our mouths may have set that turned up forest fires in the hearts of others. I'm tired of spoken fear, disappointment or lack. From my mouth and from others. And I'm done. I've said enough and I've heard enough. And I really don't think I've prayed enough about that things I was whining about. Have I said spoke blessing? I've let fear sit on my tongue. But no more. These past few weeks, I've made it a point to begin speaking LIFE. I've began praying for others. Lifting families and hearts and lives up to the Lord. Speaking blessing on people. Forgiving people. Speaking life over our church. Blessing over our nation. And thanking God for his continual presence & anointing resting upon the leadership in my life. I'm saying Yes in 2017 to using my mouth to speak blessing, rather than cursing.

-More Selfies! Haha! This is random and I get that it sounds self absorbed. But honestly, I think my lack of selfies has been more self absorbed than anything. My lack of pictures of myself, with my kids or with my husband or friends really has to do with my lack of self confidence in my appearance. The weight I put on with Wyatt, I only lost about 1/2 of so far. I've always lost my pregnancy weight easily (and trust me, I gain a lot!) and I've never been stuck so far above my 'normal' weight for such a long period of time. He's two and a half.  And I'm several years older since I've really taken a decent picture of myself or with my family to top it off, so I'm really just trying to come to terms that this is me, right here and right now. And I'm going to want pictures of myself with my kids. So, I've been working on it. A few snapshots here and there. Because I will want the memories. And I think when we say, "I don't want to be in the picture' it's more or less because our fear of social media. But yes, we will want the memories with our people.  And I want to believe in myself, not just my appearance. This is one time, I will say Yes to more selfies!




What about you?
What are some things you can say YES to more of this year?
Jesus came that you could have an abundant life! Are you saying YES enough to the things that are good for you? Are you saying YES to the blessing He's been trying to hand to you? Are you saying YES to having a fulfilled life?
Don't let your NO become your normal. Just say Yes!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

For The Ones That Show Up



I got suckered in. I was at a jewelry party one afternoon about six years ago and I got suckered right on in. Not just into buying a $79 dollar necklace. That's one thing. Deciding I was going to sell it was another. But I did. I became a Lia Sophia home sales consultant that day. And for about 8 months or so, I sold jewelry. It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I loved having something I could do on my own and be proud of. Something besides be "Mom." (I wear the Mom title humbly and appreciative now, but that's a whole other story.) However. I'm not a real assertive, pushy sell what I'm selling to you kind of person. I actually really hate trying to convince people of anything, unless it's the word of God. But that just comes easily, because, well it's truth. And it's life.

But I remember trying to convince and tug at people's heartstrings that year, to puh-lease host a party for my new business. And I must have made a profound impact with all my begging because my cousin agreed to have a party and went on to  invite a slew of co-workers, friends and family members to her home and she had quite a few of them that reluctantly agreed to show up. But closer and closer to the party, they started cancelling and bombing out on her. I remember her email so clearly because I could relate. She said "This feeling sucks. I'm never doing this again. I don't know how you can do this over and over." As a sales rep it didn't bother me so much.
I wasn't really all that interested in making millions. But as a human, I knew the feeling. The feeling of anticipation followed by a feeling of let down and finally rejection or abandonment.

It's a feeling most of us are somewhat accustomed to. But particularly if you have ever led or planned or put significant time, thought or passion into anything. Ever plan a birthday party for your kids and only three kids show up? Ever put your heart and soul into a message for your bible study or home group and only 5 show up, when last month it was 20? Ever watch your blog or band or ministry peak and then little by little people start trailing off to find something flashier?

This is a little awkward for me to write because I've grown up in the church (in the ministry) and people that know me might read this. I never want it to sound like I'm whining, because it couldn't be further from the truth. It's the exact opposite. I'm refreshed. Because I've experienced healing and thankfully some wisdom in this area. And it's been on my heart to write this to you for awhile. I want you to know that if you have become familiar with this sort of disappointment and it became a game changer for you, I hope that what I'm writing will open your weary eyes just a little to see a new perspective.

Whether you are a parent or a preacher, an actor or a small group leader, a business owner or a school teacher, a musician or a writer...you probably know this feeling. If you've pursued any sort of passion or served in any capacity, this is for you. This is for all the people that are walking this particular path today, because I've been there. I know that feeling of disillusion when it seems like people aren't with you and I know it's intimidating. I've planned parties and youth services and women's events. I know what it is like to feel like people don't care about all the hard work you put in. I know what it is like to watch crowds of hundreds trickle down to crowds of tens over the years. I know what it's like to promote or advocate something you are so incredibly passionate about and people just don't get it. I know what it's like to feel like a cast away. A has been. I've seen it all.

I remember going to a small home make-up party a friend was having a few years back. She planned and prepped and of course, had all her carefully planned snacks set out. And shortly before her party, my mom called me up and said "Do you want to go to her party?" I said, "Sure." And off we went. I'm glad we did, because when we got there, we realized that we were the only ones that showed up.
As I write this, I can think of a dozen examples either from my own life or peering from the sidelines and watching other people as they abandon their passion, something they truly loved doing or even what God had told them to do because this very thing has happened to them.
People stopped showing up.

Not everyone is empathetic, but I think that is why I am such a cheerleader for other people. I hate to see people feel unsupported or let down. I hate it. So as much as I can with four kids. I try to show up. And I don't just want to make an appearance. If I go, I want to really be there. Ya know?

A few years ago, I was talking to the Lord about this. I don't remember the exact details, but I had probably planned an event of some kind with a probable small turn out and I distinctly remember hearing these words, Do it for the ones that show up. That pretty much rocked my world. From that day on, I have been able to plan and prep and write and speak with little disappointment to who wouldn't be there, but more prayer, thought and time spent into who would be there.
Do it for the ones that show up.





We can spend all year long feeling let down, wondering why people don't care or aren't there, listening to rumors, or feeling forgotten. But this was never even supposed to have been about us anyways, right? Why are we so worried about the people that are not there any longer? Or maybe were never really there to begin with? Why do we question and muse and plan our lives around the people that don't show up?

What about the people that do still show up?
What about the people that do still need us?
What about the people that do still believe in us?
Do those people matter?
Not that we can't genuinely love people that aren't around, because I believe we can. We needn't cop an attitude with the no-showers and naysayers. And there is certainly an aspect of reaching outside the box or beyond the four walls. That's a whole other post. But the point is, there are still people showing up. What about them?

I'm a mom of four. My kids are 13, 11, almost 8 and 2. The summers are loud and slightly chaotic. During the school year, however, it gets quieter during the day. My two girls who are my middle children, go off to private school all day. My teenage son comes home around 11 in the morning from 'brick and mortar' public school and finishes off his school day with home school. Either way, it's much quieter in my house. And either way my kids are getting older.
During my days, not nearly as many people need me for things. Even with the teenager home doing his home school, there is still an awkward hush in my home. But that doesn't mean I get to sleep in. Unfortunately, I can't sit on my butt all day. I just can't stop
"Mom-ing' because most of my kids are either off at school or being quiet upstairs. You know why? Because I still have a toddler at home.
I think any mom with a single kid at home can tell you they are very needy. Almost more so, than if there were two or more children keeping each other busy. Alone, he may not be as loud and rambunctious as having the four kids here. But he still needs me to be Mom all the live long day --and sometimes well into the night. My crowd may have out grown specific needs from me. It may just be one on one during the day. But guess what? That one single tiny cute child still shows up every single day. He points to the door and says "Side" (Outside) or to the window and say "Cai" (Car) or to the kichen and says "Mmmmm Mmmmm Ahh Ahh Eat" (I think you can figure that one out.)
It's just me and you kid, and because it's just me and you, I HAVE to show up. 
I'm there. Showing up. Just for you.
He still needs me just as much, if not more during the days, in particular while the multitudes are gone away and not entertaining him.

Do you see my point? That one tiny child all by himself still needs me to show up and do what I am here to do. It may be lest hustle and bustle and more slow and steady, but I still have to do it. And guess what? Slow and steady wins the race.

If I could tell any one person on this planet that is doing anything in the way of passion, talent, calling, serving or obedience to the Lord-- I want to say this. Please hear me. What you are doing matters. It sounds corny or cliche'. You may have no idea the impact you are making on that one hyperactive child in your kids church or the disgruntled teenager in your youth group that never seems to pay attention, And you most likely have no idea how much you are helping out those parents. You may wonder about that small quiet lady in your bible study that keeps to herself but is always sitting there in the back of the room. You may look around to your audience and see 10 where you used to see 50 or see 100 when you used to see 500.  You may even wonder if  anyone other than that one girl even reads your blog anymore. But for that one kid or teenager, or for those parents who cried themselves to sleep, for that one quiet lady that shows up faithfully at your bible study every time, or for the noticeably smaller congregation or readership or crowd...for the ones that are still there. Do it for them.
Do it for the ones that show up. And take it seriously.

You may never verbally hear how amazing you are for doing what you do.
You have to be okay with that.
Just do it for the ones that show up.

I wish I could tell all my kids teachers and coaches and leaders over the years all the details of our lives. I wish I could share the struggles and hardships and tears and meltdowns. I wish I could always every day tell them how much they are needed to help guide and instruct and mold our kids. Of course the major responsibility lies in the home. But, it actually brings tears to my eyes when I think of how important my kids are to me and how quickly attached they become to the adults in their lives.
I've seen their confused sad faces when it's time to move on for one reason or another. They depend on people to care about them. They think the adults in their lives are committed to them and I hope they are, but it hasn't always been the case. And my heart is invested in my kids. And whether you realize it know it or not, their heart is invested in you. I see it every day.
Do it for the ones that show up.

What I'm saying is, every single response you make to influence the life of a single person, big or little....it matters. So do what you do, not half-heartedly because of the ones that are no-shows. But do what you do, for the ones that have always been there and will probably be there for awhile longer.

Because they still need you.
They need your help.
They need to know you care.
They depend on you.
They learn from you.
They look up to you.
They believe in you.

And maybe sometimes they talk about you. Or forget to thank you. Or misunderstand you.

But they are people. And people make mistakes. And trust me. It's okay to not worry about what everyone else does or says or doesn't do. It's okay to show up anyways. It's our job to be obedient to what we are instructed to do in this life. And trust me, as I started applying this to my own life, the Holy Spirit has given me such an incredible peace and comfort in place of fear or disappointment. His presence has rested on me and in our home in midst of the chaos, sadness and very temporary feelings of abandonment. I don't look to my left or right any longer when I do what I am supposed to do. At least not for any significant amount of time. I don't look to see who is not there, but I look to see who is. And I see exceptional people. And it's possible that if even one of them gains any encouragement from my being there, I am there for them.

Do it for the ones that show up.








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