Sunday, March 13, 2016

What if God Were Writing the Bible Today?

Do you ever wonder who would be in the Bible today if God were writing it now?  I sometimes think about that.  Working with preschoolers, I find myself reading and studying the stories in the Old Testament alot.  Sometimes the New, but mostly the Old.  It is funny, I remember learning the stories when I was little, but they are different now than I remember.  I do not think it is any kind of accident that God chose the people he did.  We think of Noah and we remember the ark, but AFTER that there is a story about him being found drunk on the floor naked passed out by his son.  We think of David and we think of Goliath, but AFTER he became king, he stole someone's wife and killed her husband.  We hear all kinds of stories and think about the people who were a mess and then they found God (or he found them) and then they got it together.  But, there are stories after stories of people who were a mess.  The only thing they got right was loving and following God, but even when they had it right part of the time, they really botched it other times!  Sometimes I feel like I have it all together and others I think whoa I am a hot mess!  And even though I know about God and I love him so much, I struggle with stuff every day.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Life sometimes flips you upside down...literally

Many of you reading this blog know that I had a serious car accident January 22 of this year.  I had taken half of a Friday off work, as I do every year to help lead an overnight church camp for kids.  It is one of my favorite things to do and it is at my most favorite place on earth.  My kids were with me and we were about two hours into our drive--about 20-30 minutes from camp.  The kids were both busy on their electronics and I was thinking through what I needed to do when I got to camp.

Out of nowhere, appeared a small patch of ice.  I saw it before we hit it, but I did not have time to react correctly and it completely caught me off guard because the roads had not been bad at all for the two hours we had been driving.  I screamed as the car went out of control.  We went across the other lane of the road and into a yard filled with lots of large trees.  The last thing I remember is that we were heading for a big phone or electrical pole and that we needed to get around it.  We did manage to get around it, but just barely.  It took off the passenger mirror where my daughter was sitting.  Then I guess we started flipping frontwards three times.  We landed right side up which I remember thinking was amazing.  My phone landed right side up directly in front of my steering wheel.  My son's door had opened and closed during the flips, but thank goodness only his iPad and phone went out of the car and not his hand, arm, head.....
This is a tragic story.... but the fact of the matter is that life often hits us out of nowhere.  It might be a wreck or it might be a disease, divorce, cheating, theft, death, anything.... But often it is not expected.  Even so, we have a choice in how we proceed and how we conduct ourselves and our beliefs.  It is so easy to jump right to "why me God?", "Why now?".  "Why this?". Well, to be honest... why not?  I can look around every day and find 10, 20, hundreds of people who have it worse than I do.  Why not me?  Why them?  Trust me...I would be lying if I said that I was not terrified and wondering what my future would look like.  But I will tell you I was thankful I have a future to look at.  I was thankful that my children were spared most physical harm.
I don't remember a lot of the next few days.  I know that I rode in an ambulance with my kids to one hospital and that my friend Ellen left camp--even though I know she was needed there to come sit with me and my children while we waited for my husband and the kid's dad to arrive.  I know they were cleared there and that I then went by ambulance to another hospital in a lot of pain.  And then I was lifelined to Methodist Hospital. I don't remember anything from the moment I got off the helicopter until I was in the Neuro ICU.  I do remember thinking that I was going to try to make everyone smile that entered my room.  I think I was pretty successful with that one.  That floor was sad and it was surreal to be there because the woman in the next room was brain dead and her family got notified while I was there.  I could hear them praying and singing for a miracle for at least a full day.  I don't think they got it.  One or two other people died while I was there and everyone else was so quiet... they were incubated or just not conscious.  I remember Roy and I were laughing about some things one day--I remember thinking "this is the joy that comes from the Lord--not based on circumstances but just on him".  I am not sure I have ever experienced it like that before... but I did that day.  That verse can be found in Philippians 4:4-5.  It took on new meaning for me.
I am told that after the surgery, my first question was "Will I walk again?". The doctor said he wasn't sure... some people did but many never did again.  I told him it was ok either way, and I am not sure he knew how to take it, although I now know he is a Christian too... so maybe he did.  During this time when I wasn't sure I would walk and I could not feel my legs or feet, I remember not really being too worried about it, but being excited when I was able to wiggle my toes or feel my feet for the first time.  This verse can be found in Philippine 4:6 (Don't worry).  It was also during this time I remember thinking, "This is the peace that surpasses all understanding.". This is Philippians 4:7. 
I had several setbacks.  I couldn't walk at first.  Then I couldn't urinate.  Then I did go, but I couldn't control it.  Then I couldn't go again for like two weeks... that was scary, but I still tried to look for positives and keep a sense of humor. 
There were several things that happened that were very healing too.  My old church really helped us out a lot and someone that I used to be great friends with before some trouble came to see me and it was just really healing for my soul.  Philippians 4:8-9.
I have had to come to terms with a lot of things, needing help, bills, not driving, not teaching, etc.  It has definitely been a one day at a time kind of deal.  But, Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me.". I get a little stronger every day.  I can do a little more every day.  Today, I finished the first part of a college class I decided to take and I walked 1000 steps.  Those are baby steps, but they are still steps. 
This experience helped my husband see his first miracle.  I bet he will see more.  Who knows what else will come from this.... but I know there will be stuff! 
Miracles happen every day... big and small.  Keep your eyes open and you might just see one.  And remember that you have a choice in every situation on how you handle it.  It may just have a huge impact on your future or someone else! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How this blog changed from thoughts of a single mom to a not-so single mom....

I have been meaning to write this post for almost a year I guess, but I wasn't sure where to start or even what to say.  But, I am going to give it a whirl now.

So, last year in February, I had decided that I was done dating.  I was just going to be single forever and I was going to be totally content with that.  I decided that I had been hurt for the last time and that dating just was not worth the trouble.  So, on February 16, I logged into the dating site I was on to delete the account and be done with it.  However, when I logged in there was a very nice and long, well thought out note from a man named Roy.  I could tell that he had really read through my profile and had really put some thought into what he wrote to me.  I felt like I should at least be polite and write back to him because of that.  I really thought that would be the end of it.  However, he wrote back again and again and we started talking by text because we really had a lot in common and I was just drawn to him.  

Two weeks later, after talking for hours by text... but never by phone, we decided to meet and he came to my town and we met at Starbucks.

....I need to pause here for a minute in this story to tell you this.... for years I had prayed for a man who would pursue me.  Who would be the one to lead things.... also, you need to know that through my life I have always wanted to receive flowers at work.  There is something so special about that.  I had only had that done once or twice before and we had discussed that.... Now back to the story.

So, we met at Starbucks and we talked for a couple of hours.  He was a really neat guy and again, we had so much in common.  I was just completely drawn to him.  

The next day, I was at a hearing for education downtown with my friend Beva and I got a text from one of the teachers I work with showing me a picture of an amazing bouquet of flowers that had been delivered to me at school with a poem. Roy had ordered them at the local florist before our meeting.  (Again, meaning--we had never talked on the phone or met when he ordered these).  I asked him later what he would have done if we did not click at Starbucks and he said that he would have sent them anyway, just with a different note because he knew how much I loved flowers.  

After that, we talked every day and saw each other as often as possible--he lived an hour away and we work opposite shifts.  As time went by, I realized that he had every quality that I had prayed for over the years.  I had written two lists of things that I hoped for in a future husband during my ten years of being single and I am not kidding when I say he had all of them.

In March, he asked me to marry him and I said yes.  People thought we were pretty crazy, but I felt at total peace about it which is also not really the norm.  My friends had often told me during the times I was dating that I should give guys a little more time or try not to just look for reasons to break up, but usually I would break up with all of them pretty quickly for one reason or another.  

We decided on getting married in June.  Again, many people told us we were crazy for getting married so fast, but it was just right.

Well, we did not get much of a "honeymoon period".   Roy's mom passed away just a couple weeks after our wedding and Roy really had a hard time with it.  He then suffered some health problems that were really tough for both of us.  It took the doctors several months to get things to a good place.  We had two great weeks where everything was normal and then I had a really bad car accident with my kids in January.  

We were heading to church camp, and hit a spot of ice out of nowhere.  Our car flipped over three times and I fractured my back in 7 vertebrae and suffered a mild traumatic brain injury.  My kids just had scratches and walked away. 

This car accident totaled my car and I was in the hospital for a month.  Roy had to make lots of decisions about my care and had to have a crazy schedule of being at the hospital with me and helping with my son  and working.  I have to say that he was my rock.  Honestly, he put up with me being nasty to him at times when I was heavily medicated and frustrated.  He put up with me being confused and scared.   Seriously, I cannot imagine what I would have done if I did not have him. 

People may think we were crazy for getting married when we did, but I feel--no I know that God led us together for a purpose.  He knew that Roy was going to need me  and then he knew that I was going to need Roy.  Marriage is not all about romance and happily ever after.  It is about God joining two people together as a team to lean on each other.  I love this man with all of my heart--sometimes in a mushy lovey dovey way.... but also in a way that means I would go to the ends of the earth to help him and do anything in my power to keep him safe and healthy and happy.  I believe he feels the same.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

January 29, 2015

 I am in a Beth Moore Bible study with some ladies and one thing from the lesson Sunday has been swirling and churning in my brain all week....it is in the story of Moses....it is in Exodus 33. I have read this story so many times, but I never got it this way. This is the part after Moses comes down with the 10 commandments and finds the people doing much wrong. He goes and talks to God and God tells him that he (God) is going to give him everything he has been promised--everything he has ever wanted--perfection--BUT God will not go with him because he is so angry with the wicked people that he is afraid he will destroy them if he goes with them. Moses tells him absolutely not...that if he has to go without God he will not go. It has been swirling around in my brain--what would I do given that choice? In my heart of hearts I want to be married--in a healthy marriage--to someone who will love me the way I love people. That is a big request and it doesn't seem to be in the cards for me maybe. So...if God gave me the choice of here is a fantastic marriage for you with all the love and happiness you can imagine but I won't be there...would I choose God? Would I be willing to remain single forever if that is what he asks of me? I say yes, but honestly there is this human fleshy part of me that just wants that so badly. I love that the Bible--written so long ago can challenge me today. It only drives me closer to Him (God). Guess why we call it the living word.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Heart of Christmas- Matthew West- with lyrics

I

Well, today I am feeling this song...I really feel like most of the time I live in a way that if it was my last moment on Earth I would have no regrets.  However, this past week, I have really been struggling with some decisions and how they have affected me and others.  I have had a crash course in how fragile and short life can be and how everything can change in a moment.  I feel like my whole life I have protected myself from hurt by pushing others away when I feel there is a threat of hurt or rejection....I find reasons to push people away that sound legitimate and maybe sometimes really are...but I guess I am wondering how often I actually push people away or leave a situation that may have possibly worked because I was scared.  I don't know....I just know that my head is swimming...I am second guessing many life choices....this is an awkward time.  I have no clue how things will end up...I just know that this song is resonating with me....



Wherever you are, no matter how far
Come back to the heart, the heart of Christmas
Live while you can, cherish the moment
The ones that you love, make sure they know it
Don't miss it, the heart of Christmas

Monday, October 20, 2014

When Life is a Roller Coaster....

It is funny to me how often a particular Bible story will come up in my daily life during various periods of my life.  When I was first single again and struggling with my sinful past, the story of the woman at the well kept coming up.  When I was going through a really difficult thing with my son, the story of Job kept coming up.  Recently, the story that keeps coming up is the story of Joseph--not Joseph, Jesus' father, but Joseph with the coat of many colors.  He has been mentioned in conversations with friends and pastors, sent to me in email devotions, talked about in sermons, and talked about on the radio.  Usually when this happens, I believe that I am to really dig in and figure out what the message is that I should apply to my life...so here goes.

You can find the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50.  Basically he was a kid who had it all and then was sold into slavery.  He trusted God and ended up with a pretty cushy job in a leader's house.  But, then the leader's wife wanted to basically have an affair with him and when he refused--she lied and had him thrown in jail for false charges.  He remained faithful there and eventually went on to save Egypt and then reunited to his family.  He saved many people.  That never would have happened if his long chain of events had been different.  

I started searching on Bible.com and found these main points about Joseph's life...

1.  God “broke” Joseph by taking him out of comfortable circumstances and stretching him. God often has to “break” us before He can use us.
I believe God does this with me.  I do not like the "breaking" process at all...it can often be such a painful time for me.  I get really frustrated with myself.  I feel like I should be so much further in my journey than I actually am.  I am just coming out of one of these times.  I have been attending the same church for about 8-9 years.  I have served in so many ways there and called it my home.  I considered the people there family and for the last 3 years I was on staff there.  A few months ago, I was informed that I was being "released" not because of anything I had done wrong, but because of some changes they wanted to make overall to the ministry.  Not all of my thoughts or probably even actions have been pretty.  In my head, I understand the changes and I am sure they will end up ok, but it hurt and not just a little bit.  To be honest, I was completely devastated.  I had moments where I was angry and others where I just sobbed my eyes out.   I heard of rumors going around town that I was being fired because I was not doing my job and that really hurt a lot and was not true.  I take a lot of pride in my work and that really upset me.  I was frustrated with myself for feeling all of these emotions. I definitely felt broken down...and found that I needed to just fully trust God to sort it all out.  In my head, I knew he was still in control and had a plan, but my heart was broken.
2.  Joseph lived a life of integrity and was faithful to God in the midst of prosperity and adversity. He is a great example for us to follow.
I can honestly say that I have really tried to have integrity and be faithful during this transition.  Tried is the key word.  It was not easy...and again, I got really frustrated with myself.  I really think I have made such progress in my faith and then when trials come, I disappoint myself.  I guess maybe often what we know we should do and what we are feeling do not match up.  During those times we need to be especially careful about the actions we choose.  No matter what, our actions are totally within our control even when our emotions are not.  I personally think that is good news.
3.  There is no mistake in where God has you. Allow Him to use you where you are.
Oh this is such good news and at the same time, it is frustrating!  I sometimes think, "God, what are you doing?!?!?!?"  His plans so often make absolutely no sense to me and seem to be exactly the opposite of what I would choose.  But, somehow--eventually most of the time they do make sense.
4.  God is in control even when it seems that your world is spinning madly out of control.
Sometimes life does seem completely out of control!  It is so easy to be consumed by what life here on Earth holds, but this is not home....this is not the final destination.  We must remember that we need to look at eternity not just this time on Earth.  There are things that here seem so unfair and terrible, but I have to remember that this life is temporary and short.  I do not even remotely understand much of what happens here, but I try to remember that God can see the entire picture.   I trust him to sort it all out and make sense for me one day.  
In my recent situation, I did not have to suffer or wait long.  God revealed a new path to me almost immediately upon me learning about the church situation.  I can tell you that I feel totally confident that God has moved me where he needs to use me and that it is going to end up ok for all of the parties involved.  I am thankful that it has worked this way.  Several people I care about have not been so lucky.  I have friends who have lost loved ones, jobs, spouses, children, etc.  It is hard to know what to say to them because I am sure they struggle and ask God, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!"  I don't know how to tell them that this is part of God's plan because it is terrible what they are going through.  It makes my trials seem trivial.  I don't have the answers for these situations and I will admit that these questions are difficult for me.  I have to trust that someday I will know the answers and someday they will too...



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why doesn't she just leave him???

I saw a post on Facebook today about the recent football player / wife story....it talked about Tweets from people saying why they couldn't / didn't leave their abusive spouses.  It sparked something in me...I feel like I am someone who came out on the other side of this issue...and I want to share some thoughts....

So, when I was 20 I got married.  Honestly, now I am not sure why I did it...I really wanted to be married and be a mom and have a "normal family"....I thought I loved him.  I don't know, anyway...I did it--I got married.  We were not together very long before things started to change.  The abuse did not happen overnight though.  First, it was little things like I did something wrong, I was dumb about certain things, I wasn't "cultured", he just slowly made me feel stupid.  It was very gradual, but over time I questioned my intelligence, I doubted my worth, I took blame for things that were not really mine.  Then he started getting angry and breaking things or throwing things or hitting things...not me, but things.  I found myself trying not to make him mad...trying to do the right thing, trying to calm him down and then apologizing for making him upset.  By this time, he had me convinced that I could not make it without him...that I would fail at whatever I tried...that I needed him.  I knew that I had made a horrible mistake by this time, but I felt like it was my own fault and that I needed to just deal with it.  I believed that marriage was for life and that I needed to make it work--whatever the cost.  And--I believed that somehow I could fix things so they would not be like this forever--they would get better.  He finally escalated to hitting me after about a year and a half of being married.   He eventually started punching me in the arms and then in the face.  By this time, I knew that he was crazy and that there was no telling what he was capable of.  I thought about leaving, but I was terrified about what he would do.  You see, when you are with someone like this--there are bad times, but there are also good times.  They claim to love you and they often try to make up for what they have done...but when you leave them, they just do the bad stuff and there is no remorse because they want to punish you.  One day he went completely crazy and started screaming and smashing everything in the house...he flipped the furniture, threw everything in his reach, smashed holes in the wall, and smashed the chandelier. That was when it clicked for me...I hid behind a chair waiting for him to get to me.  He didn't, but I honestly was afraid that he was going to seriously harm or even kill me that day.  I remember crying to my friend and saying I didn't know what to do. When I finally did leave, he really got worse.  He stole my car and left me stranded at work.  He chose a day that we had meetings off site--so I was stranded at a strange location.  Then he kept breaking into my house and doing things to make me think I was crazy...like moving things around and changing my alarm clock from am to pm.  He stole my journals and copied them.  He mailed them to my boss and my friends and my pastor.  He poisoned two of my pets and killed them.  And while he was doing all of this...he wrote me love letters saying how much he missed me and how he wanted to grow old with me.  I had a restraining order--but I could not prove it was him and I had no idea where he was because he was hiding.  I really felt like I was crazy and sometimes I thought about going back just to make him stop.  I finally ended up quitting my job, getting a different car, using a different last name, and moving to a really small town several counties away with a PO Box in a different city.  That was the only way he finally stopped.  He did finally stop and I have not seen or heard from him since--that was 1994.  I looked over my shoulder for years terrified that he would find me.  I still don't know what I would do if I bumped into him somewhere...Thankfully I never had children with him.  I cannot even imagine what that would have been like.  

It is so easy to judge men and women who are abused or mistreated by someone they are in a relationship with....We think "why don't they just leave".  It just isn't that easy sometimes.  It takes a lot of courage to leave an abuser.  And it takes a feeling of self worth that many victims don't have.  Often, people that are in an abusive relationship were abused as children--that lifestyle is all they know.  I believe they want something different but don't know it is possible or even know where to begin.  

I am so fortunate that I got out.  I am so happy that my kids don't have to live through that life.  I watched the face of the football player's now wife....if you look you can see the pain.  She was probably made to do that conference.  She did not want to be there.  She probably doesn't feel like she has options.  I don't know...but before we judge, how about we show some compassion.  How about praying for her and for him.  How about we not add to her shame and embarrassment?  

Chances are that you know someone who is being abused and maybe you are even frustrated with them because they won't leave....How can you help them???

1.  Don't judge them....they will leave when they are ready.  It takes something clicking in their mind and until that happens...they won't leave--can't leave.
2.  Help them build their self worth...encourage them...point out their strengths...help them find things they are good at.
3.  Share God with them....teach them to pray and learn about Jesus who is crazy for them...who thinks they are amazing and smart and funny.
4.  Help them come up with an action plan...have them put important documents in a safe location where they can get to them...insurance papers, bank accounts, birth certificates, marriage license, titles to homes and cars.
5.  Help them set up a PO Box so they can get mail somewhere other than home.
6.  Help them set up a bank account in their own name or maybe even in your name so their spouse cannot get to it.
7.  Help them find a safe place to go...
8.  Help them get things in order to file a restraining order when the time comes.

The biggest thing is to build their self worth so they feel they deserve better and then help them make a plan so they can break free.  People can totally break free and heal and have a healthy life, but they have to believe it first.  Instead of judging and getting frustrated with them...be patient and be that calm voice of reason that says "you deserve better and you can do this".