Monday, May 31, 2010

Just a Single Thread in a BEAUTIFUL Tapestry

As I've been praying for God's direction and His revealing of my purpose, I've also done some serious soul searching. Through this process, He has shown me some areas that I need to really work on and done a lot of revealing weaknesses, flaws in character and in general, revealed areas that I need to turn over to Him. I know I can't accomplish all of them overnight, but fortunately I know He is moving me in the right direction. EVEN IF it is going to be a painful journey, I'm positive it will be a good one.

Also along this recent journey, He has also helped me to see some of the things that shaped me into who I am. Two conversations I've had recently have "collided" in my head and have put me in a pensive of reflection and FINALLY it has led to some understanding. The first conversation was about how at the time that God allows us to go through dark times, we may not have ANY understanding of WHY, but that we have to believe that HE does have a purpose for EACH and EVERY single thing. The other conversation was rather short, but yet it went DIRECTLY along with what I had been thinking about. It was about how God can really do some odd things to get our attention.

In college, as part of our social work program we spent an entire semester working on a project that dug deep into our hearts of why we wanted to pursue that profession. Miss Haynes gave us no reprieve when it got tough. We dug so deep that sometimes it felt like every nerve was exposed. The purpose was too make sure that we understood that in order to TRULY be effective in professionally helping someone else, we had to FULLY understand who we were and what things had shaped us. (Just thinking of those times REALLY makes me miss Kim. I think of her so often & I know in heaven that we have some MAJOR conversations to catch up on! Any Lipscomb readers....remember the mouse falling from the ceiling during Interview & Recording Skills and her TOTALLY being the 1st one out the door leaving us girls in that tiny room to deal with it? Can't help but smile!)

Having decided to finally act on God's leading me to work with pre-teen/teen girls, I've thoroughly thought about WHAT in my own life has shaped me to have that desire. In other words, WHY is he leading ME? I'm not completely sure because I don't feel fully equipped at this point. However, I know some of the reasons why my heart is heavy for them. It goes back to those colliding conversations.

He has finally allowed me to see why I've been through some of the things I have had to face in my life. With time, we DO eventually understand why He allowed us to go through things that made ZERO sense to us. Sometimes there TRULY is PURPOSE in pain. I normally want the answers IMMEDIATELY when I'm going through something that makes no sense, but very seldom do answers come that quickly. I finally have an answer to a VERY dark time in my life. It only took me 17 years to get an answer. That's practically half my life!

God allowed me to go through that time so that I could use that experience to change someone else's life someday. I'm coming up on the 17th "anniversary" of THAT night. To say that it was a night that changed my life forever is no exaggeration. For so long, I thought it was only a night that resulted in loss. Loss of innocence on MANY different levels, loss of faith, loss of confidence in myself, and the list could go on indefinitely. What I realize now is that I also gained more than I ever lost, it just was a long process to get here. It did change who I was, but now I see it as a good thing. I never would have dreamed it possible to say that and TRULY believe it, but I can. Genesis 50:20 continuously comes to mind. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." Out of that very painful situation that changed the VERY core of me, good has prevailed.

My heart now really breaks for young girls. I so want to see them grow up with a deep rooted faith in God that can withstand EVERY heartache that the years ahead will bring. I want to see their self-esteem based on God's love for them instead of finding it wrapped up in what others around them think. I want to see them feel so confident in standing their ground when issues of right and wrong come up. I don't want to see them suffer from making bad decisions or from walking a line too close to "wrong" that they get sucked in. Because of my situation, I can fully empathize with some of the issues they face. I know what it's like to have everything ripped out from under you, but yet have the victory of being able to say that hearts do heal and what REAL forgiveness feels like. Had I not gone through that situation and ALL of the aftermath (even for MANY MANY years to come), I don't believe my heart would be as tender for young girls.

I don't necessarily want to tell "my story" and have purposely left it vague, but yet in the right time and place, I will tell it when necessary to make a difference for someone else. However, it's not the telling of the story that is what is important. What is important is the lessons that I learned. AND that those lessons can be taught from experience. I also had some AMAZING women help me pick up the pieces and keep me from spiraling downward beyond reach. Four specific ladies helped me hang on when I didn't think it possible. (Thank you: Betty Jo, Lisa, Gina and Vicki). I pray that prayer for my daughter on a regular basis. I pray that when she is faced with hard situations, especially those that she doesn't feel comfortable coming to me about, that she will have Christian women mentors in place that can keep her on track. I've prayed specifically for God to begin to build relationships in her life NOW that can see her through the next phase of her life and for years to come. Women that she can FULLY trust and that I can trust to lead her in the right direction and to love her through each and every thing JUST as much as I would! EVERY single young girl needs a mentor in her life! The relationships that sustained me were originally built when I was about her age and without them I have ZERO doubt that they are the NUMBER one reason that I am who I am today. I'm seeing the beginings of a couple of relationships that I hope continue to grow into that for her.

The conversation about God doing whatever it takes to get your attention is ABSOLUTELY true. My situation got my attention without a doubt! Had I not gone through what I did, my life would be dramatically different. For starters, I wouldn't have met Kevin and I wouldn't be blessed with the amazing marriage I have & the precious children that we have. Looking back (hindsight ALWAYS makes a difference!), I can see MANY times that He gave me gentle direction about making different decisions. I either chose not to listen or didn't feel strong enough. It took a REAL wake-up call. Granted, I at times REALLY wish perhaps He had chosen a different way to get through my stubbornness. No one EVER wants to go through hurt. BUT hurt sometimes is the only way that God can truly get us to see what He needs for us to see. That road isn't always easy and for me it wasn't a short path. It made for a rough road back to trust, forgiveness, and even made the first several years of marriage tough. However, with time, it did eventually strengthen my marriage and my personal relationship with Christ. At some point when the time is right, I believe it will also strengthen my relationship with my children, most especially with Adriana. It won't be an easy conversation to have, but I do believe it will open the door to MANY MANY more.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that it's important to not give up when times are hard. When you don't understand why God is allowing things to happen or when things don't make sense, just hold on. It can be so very hard to understand His reasoning at times. Don't let it cause your heart to harden or it to put a wedge between Him and you. It's easy to do. I've been guilty of it more times than I want to admit and struggle with it on a daily basis. The truth is, HE sees the FULL picture. He knows EVERY day of our future when we can't see beyond the pain of the moment. HE knows how our lives fit into his master plan. Today, with ALL of it's joys or pain, is just one single thread that He is weaving into a complete, beautiful tapestry. Some day, and it may not be until we are in Heaven, we will be able to see how that thread made the tapestry complete. Without that thread, the tapestry will always be missing something. God, sometimes I don't know what you are doing with this thread, but I'm learning to trust you more every day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beth Moore Part 2: Conclusion & A Revealed Purpose

I just finished Beth's book & I can't remember a time I've ever been more moved & terrified at the same time. I'll get to that part in a minute, but for now let me share the ending from the book in Beth's words.

"He is calling you, beloved. He is summoning you to freedom. He is wooing you to joy. He is inviting you to live on purpose and spin around with childlike faith in the acute awareness of His love for you. His hand is outstretched. Take your dignity back no matter where you've been or what has happened to you. Hold on to your security for all you're worth. Nothing and no one can take it from you."

And her closing statement, "Now get out there and show some wide-eyed little girls what a secure woman looks like!"

Her closing statement is what has me terrified. It has me trembling and all most nauseous. If you saw me now and happened to witness my mega hot flash last night at the conclusion of our VBS director's meeting, you might think I'm in need of medical assistance. Why on earth would that statement cause such a reaction? Because it might as well have been the biggest wake-up call and confirmation from God I have received in a very long time.

You see, I'm about to put something in "black and white" that I'll never be able to go back and say I didn't say. Once it's in cyberworld, it's there to stay. God just officially gave me my purpose and calling. I've tossed and turned with a calling to outreach for young girls, but didn't think I was ready or that God was really wanting to use me. When you read a book as amazing as this one and think of ALL the life-changing things she had to say and then have it end with that statement.....IT HAS TO BE GOD. AND he was using her to speak directly to me. After all, I have been praying for confirmation of purpose and to HEAR God's voice over all the garbage in my head and all the chaos around me.

I've denied that He has placed the calling on me for so long out of my own fears. Those fears are still VERY undeniably REAL and SCREAMING at me. However, I keep remembering that God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. By Golly, I sure hope that is true because I'm SO NOT equipped. After all, we are talking about someone who trembles at the thought of just having to introduce herself to a room of ANY it one or a hundred. WE are talking about someone who can write out her feelings ALL day long, but can't squeak out a single word vocally. Oh boy, God what are you thinking? Are you sure you know what you are doing? I KNOW you do , but are you sure you don't want to change your mind? It's OK with me. I can easily back out and say I misunderstood. But my heart knows better. My heart knows this is what is right.

I don't have a clue what "this" all means. I don't have a clue which direction it means I must go. I don't know if it means doing something in our own church, in an outside organization, or something completely different. I have ZERO clue. I don't know how He is going to use me, but I know it's time. My heart has been burdened for TOO long for young girls that are growing up in a world full of lies. I've watched my daughter feel alienated for TOO long because she knows the TRUTH but doesn't have much support in developing it deeper. BUT this is more than just because she has needs not being met. This burden came LONG before I ever knew what kind of life she would have. This has been on my heart for at least 15 years with there having been several peak times that it has been even more pressing. BUT I turned around and walked the other way. I can't do that again.

I'll also admit that this age of girls terrifies me. They are SO not my comfort zone. I'd much rather love on preschoolers. I'm great at lavishing them with love, singing little songs with them, and I'm craft crazy. THAT is the easy direction to go because I LOVE it. However, my burden is not for them. I so want to smother them with love, but my heart doesn't break for them. I don't find myself awake at night wondering what I can do to make a difference in their lives.

I thought God had called us to adopt for MANY years. That was MY DESIRE. Part of me still yearns for that, but that door was closed to us due to medical reasons. I began college with the dreams of being a missionary in Honduras and working in a newly opened orphanage that my youth leaders were involved with. Life took a different direction. However no matter what has happened in my life, I always come back to the burden of young girls...those just about to enter the world of Jr. High.....just before almost everything they know to be true gets ripped out from underneath them. That USED to be girls entering High School and now I see it so VIVIDLY in our 5th graders. Something has to change! Someone has to step up and try to reach them, one at a time. I know God is asking me to be one of those people. I just don't know how he is going to use me in doing it. I just know I'm going to be a willing vessel. I'm just going to be praying, BEGGING and PLEADING for him to equip me because my own inadequacies are screaming at me right now. I know I have to step out in faith, but it's going to be a hard step to take. But I know that He would have given up on me LONG before now if this wasn't what He wanted me to do.

Beth Moore---A Life Changing Prayer

Today's post is going to be long, even by my standards :) However, I didn't write it. I just find it so profound that I have to share it. It can literally be life changing, especially for us women. It comes from Beth Moore's book "So Long, Insecurity: you've been a bad friend to us". It's a prayer. A life-changing, healing like I've never really read before. She states that it's the first of it's type that she has put in her books, but felt it was Holy Spirit led. I agree. She recommends finding a time & place that you can be alone, comfortable, and STILL. Read it slowly, thoughtfully, and out loud as if it were rising from your own heart. Fill in the intentional blanks. Pray it with honesty from the depths of your heart and see where it leads you. I'm going to pray it and I ALREADY know it's going to change me because just READING it already has! No matter it's long length---hang on to the end and let it change you! Let it change all of us.

Dear God,

I come to You this moment because I need some things only You can give me. I need restoration, Lord. I need my dignity back. You alone know what insecurity has cost me, what trouble--even torment--it has caused me. You are intimately acquainted with every time it's made a fool of me. You know how hard I've fought to play the game, but You also know that in the aftermath I've been defeated. I'm sick of faking. I'm sick of sulking. I desperately need and want to be delivered from my chronic insecurity. I am ready to discover what it means to be truly secure. I am willing to do whatever it takes to be free and to allow You to do through me what I cannot do for myself. You are the all-powerful, all-knowing Maker of heaven and earth and the grand Weaver of every human soul. You alone know how we are made and who we're meant to be. I'm not asking for anything You're not willing to give me. You have not shortchanged. me. I have shortchanged myself and allowed my culture to sell me short.

You know the way I'm formed. You know what motivates me. You know what shuts me down. You know how driven I am by fear and how exhausted I am from surrendering to it. Lord, in the most hidden places, I am so afraid that...............(fill in the blank)...........................................

Deliver me, Lord. You have not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. That's what Scripture says. I claim each of those priceless traits as mine this day. Your desire is for me to be free of every unhealthy motivation. Reveal any places they reside uncontested in me, and supply the courage I need to refused to do their bidding. You have searched the deepest recesses of my heart and mind. I don't need to hide anything from You or act stronger or more together than I am. Help me to come before You with complete transparency, and grant me a supernatural confidence that I am safe with You and loved by You. I don't have to muster feelings I don't posess or hang my head in defeat and shame. Because of Your grace, I can come to You just as I am. This is the way I would describe myself to You right now:.....................................(fill in the blanks)............................

But Lord, You know better than I know myself. You know why I think like I do and why I feel like I do. You know my every thought. My every disappointment. You know every ugly or ridiculous thing I've ever said or done out of insecurity. You see every fissure in my soul, and You look beyond the point of my failure to the depth of my need. As you reveal Yourself to me, I ask that You also mercifully reveal myself to me. Grant me insight into patterns I've developed, and give me answers that bring healing. Make my wholly unafraid of anything that I might see in myself in the light You provide. Help me to trust that You only shed light where You're willing to heal.

God, You know the complexities of my soul and that most of the time I can't even figure myself out. You know how I swing like a dizzy pendulum between self-loathing and self-exaltation. As I begin this prayer of restoration, I ask You, Lord, to help me take responsibility for the insecurity that is my own doing. My own fault. My own sin. I am painfully aware that I've created some of my own misery. I have tried to make a god of myself too many times, and it hasn't worked. It will never work. In calling me to this time of confession, Your desire is my freedom, not my self-condemnation, so with confidence, I welcome the one and reject the other. With these things in mind, hear my confessions: ................(fill in the blanks)....................................

Please forgive me for my self-worship. For my relentless pursuit of control and for my futile attempts at doing Your job. Forgive me for my foolish pride. Forgive me for nursing my ego until it grows so fat that everything touching it bruises it. Forgive me for my miserable self-absorption. Forgive me for the jealousy and covetousness that feed my insecurity. Forgive me for turning too many things into competitions. For being so fixated on what I don't have that I leave the gifts You've given me undeveloped and much less effective than You intended them to be. Forgive me for thinking pitifully little of the person You've made me. Forgive me for committing the flagrant sin of despising myself and considering myself inferior to others. Forgive me equally for every time I've sighed with relief at the thought that I might be superior after all.

Forgive me for my unbelief. If I realized how valuable I am, my insatiable need for affirmation would be quieted. Forgive me for being such a perfectionist that I resist doing something good out of fear that it won't be great. Forgive me for inordinate self-protection that has only managed to imprison me. Forgive me also for..............(fill in the blanks).......................

This very moment I receive Your lavish forgiveness and Your complete cleansing and in Your name I release all the shame that has come from self-inflicted insecurity. From now on, Lord, and every day for the rest of my life, heighten my conviction until I'm instantly aware when insecurity is my own making. Help me to recognize any form of pride or unbelief and to refuse it immediately.

Now, Lord, I ask you to pull up the roots of insecurity that were not of my own doing, and usher in healing and restoration. You know every single place where instability has touched my life. You remember details that were long erased from my memory but are still inflicting insecurity. You know what first frightened me into believing that no one and nothing could be trusted and that I'm on my own out here in a very unsafe world. You know the rational origin of every irrational fear. You know where I developed a belief system based on the frailties of man instead of the bedrock of You. You have been with me every moment, even when I felt there was no one to take care of me. I give You my whole heart. Touch every broken and wounded place with Your healing hand.

Lord, empower me to forgive those who have let me down, failed to protect me, or inflicted injury upon me. Help me to see them as needy, broken people in their own right, and Lord, where there is still life and opportunity, bring redemption to those relationships. Help me to understand the gravity of this juncture: that if I do not seek healing and wholeness, I will instead end up perpetuating the cycle of injury. Break the cycle with me, O Lord. Break the cycle with me.

Lord, come and treat my heart and soul where they have been shattered by loss. No one on earth can esteem the loss of something precious the way You can. You know the pain. You know the unbearable emptiness that can come with loss. You recognize my attempt to fill the void with things that never suffice. You know how my feelings frighten me and how the enemy of my soul would have me believe that I will never be okay. Make a liar out of him, Lord. Do not let him win. Do not let loss win. Be my gain , Lord. Flood my life with purpose and compassion. Be my strength in weakness.

Please do not let me confuse healing with betrayal. Help me to see any place in my life where I'm hanging on to my grief or anger in an attempt to hang on to what I've lost. Grant me the gift of healthy grief that does not fight the pain or the process of healing. Lord, please help me to see where I have suffered a substantial loss that I've never regarded. Where I lost innocence, grant me integrity. Where I lost a relationship, grant me true intimacy. Where I lost a home, grant me an internal, unshakable sense of belonging. Where I've held someone responsible for my loss, grant me the ability to forgive. Don't stop until You've made a miracle of me.

Lord, help me to learn how to hang on tight to You when life is rocked by dramatic change. Empower me to trust You and not to panic or fight for control. Help me to stop confusing a change in my circumstances with a change in my security status. You are my security, O God. You are the one sure thing. When everything around me shakes, You are unshakable. Nothing has the propensity to reveal false gods to me like a sudden change in my circumstances. Help me to see them and surrender them instantaneously. Use change to provoke what needs changing in me, Lord, and to increase my appreciation for the only One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Lord, I now ask You to single out everything You entrusted to me as part of my physical and psychological makeup: personal limitations, my appearance, and my God-given disposition. You knew what You were doing when You formed me in my mother's womb. Nothing is without purpose. Nothing has thrown off the plan. Every gift, challenge, and obstacle is meant to shape the specific destiny You ordained for me before time began. Your intent is to make a wonder out of me and show what You can do through me. You mean to increase the praise that comes to You because of my life. You want to defy the odds in order to make Yourself conspicuous in me. Please deliver me from self-pity and a life of excuses and rationalizations. And Lord, where I've otherwise lapsed into self-adoration and self-centeredness instead, help me to recognize my narcissism and no longer tolerate it. Of all things, please don't let it be said that I loved myself too much to fully love anybody else. Please don't let me gain the world but lose my soul.

Father, help me to see where I am overly sensitive and where I put too much pressure on relationships. Help me to see where I insist on making a situation all about me. I really want to change. Help me to quit saying, "This is the way I am, " and remind me that I am capable of tremendous transformation with You. Deliver me from insecurity in my relationships. Help me to cease being so easily wounded, but at the same time, keep me from growing hardened. Help me to resign my position as a game player and manipulator without resigning myself to a life of misuse. Help me to realize that it's pointless to demand that others love me more or love me better. Real affection cannot be coerced. I cannot put a human in charge of my security without setting him or her up for certain failure. Help me to stop using a person as my mirror and start seeing myself as You alone see me.

Lord, even in the midst of all these requests, I thank You with my whole heart for working so diligently in my life. Yes, there have been people who have hurt me and have done a very poor job of taking Your place, but there have also been people who have shown me glimpses of You. Not perfect people, but genuine people. In particular, I thank You for.................(fill in the blanks).....................

I thank You for all You have done to get me to this place and for the plan You have ahead for me. I come now, Lord, to the apex of my petition: please restore to my soul all that insecurity has stolen from me. Overturn every single thing the enemy meant for evil into something good. Perform a miracle on me, Lord. Cover me with Your trustworthy hand. Clothe me with strength and dignity. Transform what drives me. Quell what triggers me. Make me a courageous woman in this harrowing culture. One who refuses to be reduced and defined by the media. Help me to make conscious decisions about whether or not the cost of what they're selling is worth buying. Give me the discernment to call a lie a lie.

Make me the kind of woman a little girl could follow to dignity and security. I actively and deliberately receive---and vow to keep receiving---everything that I have requested in Your will this day. Let this statement reverberate into every corner of my life and invade the bone marrow of my belief system: Today on ..........(DATE)... I receive my dignity back. No one and nothing can take it from me because You are the One who gave it. Help me to recognize that I've lost my dignity only because I have surrendered it. Empower me to claim it back and hang on to it with all my might. Because of Your mercy, Lord , I am no fool. Only a wise woman shifts her trust to You.

In Jesus' saving and delivering name,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nightmares & A Lesson Learned

They say God works in mysterious ways. No doubt about it. They say you can hear God's voice speaking to your heart at any point in time. No doubt about it. I've been praying for His voice to be louder and my heart to be more open to hearing it. Well, I heard from Him last night and it wasn't at a time I was expecting and not quite what I was expecting to hear.

I've battled lupus for about 12 years now. The first two or so years were extremely hard. A dear mentor (my college advisor, professor who taught 85% of my social work classes, and a dear precious lady that helped me work through some VERY painful situations of the past), died of complications from the disease. I spent the first 5-6 years on medication to control it, but since I felt the medications controlled me instead, I stopped. I could no longer stand the side effects, the way it altered my brain and my reliance on it. Since then I have had more luck by doing my best to avoid triggers and in general take care of myself and listen to my body. The flare ups have come less frequently and have been MUCH milder. The only time I've used medication since then was during pregnancy and post-partum. I even managed to avoid it during pregnancy with Bradlee because I was DETERMINED to be given the chance to nurse. WE made it....but it resulted largely in the need of spending 4.5 months on bedrest. I just have a REAL aversion to medication that alters my brain! I'm not one of "those" people that thinks medicine is bad or refuses anything not "natural".....I just really couldn't stand the side effects from prednisone, colchicine, mega ibuprofen, methylprednisolone and darvocet any longer.

This weekend I had to resort to taking meds for pain. As Kevin will attest, it takes A LOT for me to consent to that. Even then I fought him until he didn't give me much choice. So, I've spent the weekend in and out of la-la land since anything that has a label that says MIGHT cause drowsiness....will knock me on my tail for days! I found myself in that "brain phase" I hate. I describe it as an out of body experience. My body feels dead, doesn't respond to what I want it to do, but my brain goes on overdrive. I alternate between that phase and the one of knowing I still feel the pain, but my brain doesn't respond to it. I HATE that psycho feeling. I'm a control freak & to be out of control of either my brain or my body drives me insane.

About 1 AM this morning, my brain went psycho and I had the most unsettling dreams I've had in a long time. It was like my life flashed before me on super speed. Unfortunately, it was only the bad things. Things I wanted burried, things I felt God had pulled me through years ago and that were completely "dealt" with, situations long forgiven and current ones that we are dealing with felt VERY seemed to last forever, but I know it was just a few short moments. When I woke up, I was full of rage, terror, and every negative emotion I can think of. Hatred. Darkness.

My response was to immediately tuck myself back under Kevin's arm. I knew being in his arms would bring me back to reality and it would calm my rage. I just wanted to be wrapped in safety, love, and all things good. As is usually typical, he was OUT cold. IT WAS THEN that I heard God speak. "Why him?" Why him? I immediately knew my mistake. My first thought should have been to find solace in God FIRST, not second. Granted, knowing that my husband is who I sought is not a bad thing. That's a good sign of a GREAT marriage (especially when it hasn't always been that way!). But what he wanted me to realize was that in EVERY situation, HE needs to be my first thought, my first breath, my first heartbeat. HE desires me to be fully connected in EVERY single way to my husband, but first and foremost HE must be my FIRST in everything. Plus, the closer we each are individually to God, the closer we will be to each other. THAT is the way God designed us and he ordained marriage. A REAL Christian marriage.

I learned a powerful lesson. God can USE each and every situation we ever face to speak to us. Our hearts just have to listen. I learned that HE has to be MY first EVERYTHING. Relationships are WONDERFUL and can always point us in the right direction, but they are even stronger when God is FIRST.

I also learned something else this morning. When I began to think back to last night's events and the nightmare, I realized THAT is what HELL is going to be like. However, there will be NO waking up and realizing it was a dream. There will be NO safety and comfort in ANYONE'S arms. There will be no more chances for God's comfort. It will be NEVER ending. How very thankful and grateful beyond words to know that I've been saved from that. How humbled I am to know that God took a screw-up like me in HIS arms & said I am saving you from that eternity. My heart continues to break even more for those people that don't have that assurance. It breaks for those that are sitting on the fence and can't make a decision as to which direction they need to go. Indecision is still decision. It still separates you from God. My heart breaks for those that have walked away from God and think it's too late to crawl back. Don't wait any longer. He's waiting to welcome you back with open arms full of love & forgiveness!

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Need of a Heart Transplant

Confession. They say it is good for the soul. Maybe so. Maybe not. Regardless, I have a confession to make. I need a heart transplant. At the very least, a big attitude adjustment. You see, I have a weakness. Actually, I have LOTS of weaknesses but one specific area has become a real issue.

The issue is how my thoughts become negative, my heart becomes hard, or my attitude IMMEDIATELY changes at the mention of a few specific names. In general, it's those people that have significantly hurt me in the past or those people that just really "rub" me the wrong way. WE ALL have those people in our lives. It's impossible to be human without having had someone REALLY hurt you. It's those people that you have to interact with that go out of their way to push you down to make themselves appear "bigger" (notice the word APPEAR!). It's those people that treat you one way in front of an audience and another way behind closed doors. It's those people that are VERY quick to point out other people's faults, but NEVER can admit they themselves are flawed. It's not just a matter of being judgmental or pointing out changes that need to be made out of's those people that REALLY think they are above everyone.

I need a heart transplant to change how my heart reacts or how my thoughts behave after being in contact with these kinds of people. I don't like how I respond. I behave on the "outside", but on the inside (where I believe it matters most!) my thoughts are in turmoil. I'm either thinking negative thoughts about them or allow myself to think negative thoughts about myself. It's a dangerous cycle.

What I've discovered about myself is that in times that I've had significant exposure to any of the people on my list, my entire attitude becomes negative. It seems as if I have a weakness of allowing that tiny seed of doubt, anger, jealousy, bitterness SNOWBALL. Without a single doubt in my mind, that is NOT pleasing to God.

I need a REAL heart transplant. I need God's heart to become mine and his thoughts to become mine. I need that real agape love to overtake me to the point that it seeps out of every single pore of my being. I need a huge dose of his ability to forgive FULLY. When he forgives, it becomes as far as the East is from the West and he remembers it no more. My heart needs to beat more in sync with his. My heart needs MORE of him and less of ME. Unfortunately, there isn't a miraculous surgery that makes it all instantly happen. However, I know that I'm willing to let him mold me and make me into what he needs me to be. Some days its more steps backwards than forward, but hopefully he'll get me moving in the right direction when I stumble.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


"Flip It!" You non-FCC'rs probably will immediately think this is a post about gymnastics. Though we did just end this competition season on a very HIGH note, this has nothing to do with literal flipping!

Flip-It! has been our series topic at church the past month and it has been FANTASTIC. During those weeks, when you entered the doors of the sanctuary you just had to have an "open mind" because you had no idea what to expect. One week, the congregation was asked to stand up and move to different areas to get a different "perspective". One week communion was "flipped" by being served on beautiful candle lit tables that required you to GET UP and purposely walk to it instead of our typical pass the trays down the aisles. Each week had a different twist.

Each week the visual was a large jar that was trying to be filled with water, a very large rock, sand, and pebbles. Each week a different approach was taken that ended with an overflowing, impossible mess. Nothing was said to the congregation about what was happening or what "it" meant. Having seen this visual at a retreat in college, I knew what was going on. However, many people didn't have a clue and it was interesting to hear the "buzz" about what our crazy staff was doing. The conclusion of the series finally provided the explanation.

The purpose was to show us that God (the very large rock or brick) had to go in that jar FIRST or everything else couldn't fit. Amazingly, those BUCKETS full of sand, pebbles, and water all could fit in that jar if placed in the proper order. Each item filled up every available space IF the large rock went in first. It was the anchor that allowed everything else to fit. Fill up the jar with any of the other items FIRST and it's impossible for the large rock to fit in. In real life, God HAS to be the center of our lives and take over the largest portion of us OR it is impossible to fit in everything else. We can't be half in with God and half in with the world. It doesn't work.

It was a great few weeks and I loved the series. At first, I had an attitude of I've got my ducks in a row, my priorities are on target, and God is the center of my life. But it didn't take long for God to really start talking to me about how I wasn't as "on target" as I thought and how I also needed to do some "flipping".

Hey God, how can that be? I give everything I have to my family. I am fully responsible for educating my children. I take care of our home, shuttle the kids from one part of the planet to another a hundred times a day, fit in time to exercise, kiss boo-boos, have conversations about any and EVERY things possible, cook, clean, grocery shop, play games, know I do it ALL with a delicate balance. I am actively involved in church with children's ministry. I send people encouraging notes, cook meals, and do so many things when people need help. I am the first to jump up and volunteer when something needs to be done. We practically live at church or are involved on a daily basis with "wholesome" activities. Volunteering is a big part of who we are. So, God how can I need to flip my priorities.....what ELSE is it that you are wanting me to do. Don't I do enough?

You see.....that's where HE got me and started really speaking to me. I MAY have it right in some areas, but in others I've missed the mark. I think he finally got through my stubbornness a tad. IT doesn't matter how much "good" we do if we don't do it with the "right" heart. It isn't the "works" that pleases God. It's the heart with which we do it. Granted, a huge portion of being Christlike IS giving of ourselves, but it has to be in the right attitude. I do the majority of things with a pure heart and pure love, but in others I've lost my way.

He also spoke to me about how I'm finding myself back in that trap of doing more and more....and more and more..... He rescued me from that before and he is warning me that I'm headed down that same path again and I need to get control of it NOW. That path is the one that so many of us (ESPECIALLY woman) find ourselves in. I still have not learned to say No! Why should I say NO to something good? Well, because we can find ourselves so wrapped up in doing good that we lose sight of the ONE we do it for. That's me. That's where I am. I'm so BUSY doing good things that I've let God start slipping from the top place in my life. It doesn't matter that I'm serving Him and doing things on his behalf. How do I know that I've let that happen? When I can't find the time to study his word, spend REAL time in prayer, or when "another" good thing feels like it will make my "balance" topple over.....that is when it's time to step back and see how much is because I said YES because I didn't know how to say NO and how much is because God TRULY called/led me in that direction. Sure, I can continue to do a good/acceptable job at "x", but how much more effective can I be if I'm REALLY doing exactly what God is asking me to do, not just what I feel I NEED to do!

The other area that God has revealed to me about "flipping" is priorities. Again, I initially thought he was "barking up the wrong tree". How much more could he be asking me to give of myself? My priorities are in order. WRONG! Once again, I realize I've "slipped". The kids and their needs have overtaken every ounce of my energy (and energy that I don't have enough of!), but I realize that Kevin has begun to slip down the list AGAIN. As very hard as it is, especially for a home school Mom, HE deserves to be ahead of the kids. I've not got that one down pat yet, but I believe it's true. God first, spouse second, kids third........somehow I've got to learn to make that happen! For starters, it's about dropping what I'm doing at the moment when he calls or when he comes in the door. Somehow he needs my full attention, NOT the half effort he tends to get more often then not. It's also about putting more effort into looking less like death warmed over when he comes home. Granted, many days it feels impossible.....but I should be making more of an attempt. Gone are the days of business suits & dresses (I mean sure I COULD do it, but how practical would that be?), but surely I can make sure to at least have on matching clothes and SOMETHING besides pj pants and a ratty t-shirt. Maybe I should just completely purge the house of clothes worn well past their prime and EVERYTHING with elastic waists :) He loves it when I wear why not put them on? I mean really how many seconds of effort does that take? Nothing wrong with a ponytail, but maybe at LEAST BRUSH it instead of just throwing the band around it. I think God spoke to me about the little things that I've neglected. He's telling me to stop focusing on so many of the big things and to slow down and pay more attention to the little details.

For you home school moms, you might recognize this FLIP. Being that the end of the school year is rolling around, where are you finding yourself. Are you frustrated (I am)? Are you feeling like you failed in some areas and not focusing on the things you did RIGHT ( I am)? Are you wondering how on earth to do "x" better next year (I am)? Are you physically, mentally, spiritually exhausted (I am)? Do you think that perhaps you lost some of your purpose or your joy got dinged up way too much this year (I have)? Where in that is God telling you to FLIP? For me, he's telling me YES things didn't go perfectly but YES you gained positive ground. Things can be different next year and "x" is where you need to start. Perhaps the biggest thing he is revealing to me is that once again, I let him slip from the VERY top priority and that if I put him BACK, HE can help fill in all of those gaps and cover us in his grace. He is telling me that it's perfectly OK for "school" to not look like Mrs. Perfect's "school". It's perfectly OK to take different approaches and do what is needed for OUR family. He's going to tell each of us what we need to do differently next year and that the main thing we have to remember is that HE should be our fist source of strength, NOT our back-up plan. That's where my guilt lies. I turn to him after I've tried to do too many things in my own power. He should ALWAYS be my VERY first thought & instinct. Until HE IS, I should expect for things to be feeling out of balance!!!

So, I guess I'm going to be learning to flip. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that I could NEVER learn to physically flip like Adriana.....but with God's strength I can learn to "flip". I may flop at times, but if I stick with it....I'll be flipping!