Monday, August 25, 2008

Rad and I talked a bit last night about my life and the changes I've been going through.

The transition to Northern California was tough and easy at the same time. I had a great man waiting for me, a great church and God. But I left behind some good friends and opportunities to participate in ministries as a single woman.

Much of my time these days is spent keeping the new house in order and looking for work. It takes a lot of work to keep the house tidy especially since we are somewhat crammed into a small space. My husband's house was packed before I arrived. After I got here with my things and then my son moved in, things were even more cluttered.

I've spent a lot of time cleaning the garage and making space inside the house. I've taken several trips to Goodwill to deposit items we aren't using or don't need or have 2 of. I've enjoyed the work - the feeling of participating in my new life, the feeling of making things nice and more comfortable for my new family.

I read a Max Lucado devotional the other day where he stressed that our first ministry is at home, with our family. This is something I'm getting used to. It is just hard to give up some of that control. When you're single, you can pick from a smorgasboard of ministries. It was a time in my life where I experienced a tremendous amount of freedom. But I think I knew that and I did live my single life to its fullest. I have no regrets, only really wonderful memories.

I think being married is the toughest thing I've ever done as a single person. (and you can quote me on that! haha)

Being married requires me to compromise, humble myself daily, have patience, have faith and work through conflict again and again and again.

I see now how ministry prepared me for marriage. The tougher the service in His name, the closer I got to being ready for marriage. That isn't to say that I didn't fail miserably in the "work through conflict" department - I did. Well, I failed some of the time, not all of the time. But all that I put into humbling myself, forgiving others and alternately holding my tounge and expressing my feelings in a healthy way (a craft I've yet to master but I'm getting decidedly more proficient with each trial)has contributed to preparing me for marriage.

My husband and I have conflict every day. Some would say "well, why did you marry that person?" Because our marriage is the most God-centered, fruitful relationship that I've had. It is authentic and real which means we bring our REAL, UNMASKED selves to the table and neither of us is perfect!

I pray that my new mom-ministry will be fruitful. I have my own son living with us now. He's 18 and in college. He has tremendous talent but we haven't the means to send him to art school right away. I still need to work on healthier boundaries with him and letting go. Then there are my husband's sons. They are getting used to me and me to them. I want to humble myself and be glad for the work and trials involved. I also want to be a healthy example of a woman who loves Jesus.

I know God has brought me to this point and I know, no matter how tough, I'll get through this with His strength. On my own strength, I'd be toast!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Read a friend's testimony today I am reminded of my own. I used to have it written here in this blog but I removed it after a time. To protect the innocent, as they say because I'd referred to some people in it and then decided maybe they didn't want some of those details made public. Still, I might re-write it again. I'm not sure. What I read today inspired me. The good thing is, my testimony is still unfolding...God's work in me just beginning. Chapters are building upon chapters.

I have grown more intimate with God in the past few years. And with the deepening of that relationship I've learned a lot more about Him and a lot more about me. Through counseling and the building of authentic relationships where I have encouraged people to speak truth into my life, I've had many valuable lessons. I dunno. Is this just another definition of wisdom? Whatever it is, it's painful. But it's surely good.

My friend's testimony was boldly written. She let it all out - the unsightly - the bruised - the ugly. I was intrigued, surprised and elated. Her honesty a testament to the trust-relationship she has with her savior. Her story, HIS story.

The first time I gave my testimony in church I believe now that I focused on the "victim" side of my life. I talked alot about what had been done "to" me and how I had risen above such circumstances and forgiven those involved. Now, I see that story as the "first layer" of truth. It was embarassing to talk about the stuff that hurt me. Hmmmm. But then, there are the things I did to hurt others.

Whenever I hear or read someone's story where they are willing to spell out what a lousy muck they were - I am humbled. I am amazed and I am weakened - my shell of pride stripped. One day, will I tell everyone all the things I've done? It took such a long time for me to tell Jesus.

But He knew all the time anyway, didn't He?

And everytime we humble ourselves and admit what a schmuck we are or have been (or are...does it ever stop?) we defeat Satan. We defeat our pridefullness. We give glory to the Father who loves us.

I've done some pretty pathetic things in my life. Betrayed myself. Betrayed people. Betrayed God. I know now there is a force that opposes God and seeks to destroy me. It is this one who whispered to me for a long time...we don't need to let people know THAT about you...THAT would be just TOO MUCH INFORMATION...THAT would make them JUDGE you and HATE you. But letting this stuff out is powerful - it is the type of authenticity Jesus called for.

John 10:10 reads "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

The thief kills us by tempting us to hold onto the dirty stuff. The thief robs us of the joy that comes from knowing that God forgives us for (yeah) EVEN THAT.

Pride robs us of much. They say we are most like Satan when we are full of pride and I know this to be true. My own pride has caused my stubbornness, short-sightedness and distancing from God. Pride can accomplish a lot of damage. Even a tiny bit of pride can have a huge impact on a situation. But the pride I hold onto inside myself, the thoughts that no one knows about but me, are probably the most damaging.

Maybe it is jealousy, maybe it is judgement of others, maybe it is a tinge of unforgiveness...pride's potent in the smallest of amounts. Traces of poison over time can kill someone.

Humbling myself before God with all that I'd done and felt was difficult. Even hanging onto a "victim mentality" was poison for me. It blinded me so that I neglected to ask: was I responsible for any of the situations that hurt me. Sometimes, I was. Sometimes, I was just responsible for situations wounding me over and over again because I refused to humble myself and forgive.

The best part of my friend's story was the "ending" - gee, I hate to call it that mine, her story is still unfolding. But where she is at today brings glory to God and her faith is inspiring. How good it is to know that God will use every hurt we hand him? How good it is to know that when we're ready, he'll be there to listen?
Don't Be Reluctant to Show Mercy
by Rick Warren

When people sin, you should forgive and comfort them, so they won't give up in despair. 2 Corinthians 2:7 (CEV)

*** *** *** ***

In real fellowship people experience mercy. Fellowship is a place of grace, where mistakes aren't rubbed in but rubbed out. Fellowship happens when mercy wins over justice.

We all need mercy, because we all stumble and fall and require help getting back on track. We need to offer mercy to each other and be willing to receive it from each other.

You can't have fellowship without forgiveness because bitterness and resentment always destroy fellowship. Sometimes we hurt each other intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, but either way, it takes massive amounts of mercy and grace to create and maintain fellowship.

The Bible says, "You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others" (Colossians 3:13 NLT).

The mercy God shows to us is the motivation for us to show mercy to others. Whenever you're hurt by someone, you have a choice to make: Will I use my energy and emotions for retaliation or for resolution?

You can't do both.

Many people are reluctant to show mercy because they don't understand the difference between trust and forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Trust has to do with future behavior.

Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time.

Trust requires a track record. If someone hurts you repeatedly, you are commanded by God to forgive them instantly, but you are not expected to trust them immediately, and you are not expected to continue allowing them to hurt you. They must prove they have changed over time. The best place to restore trust is within the supportive context of a small group that offers both encouragement and accountability.

© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oh much going on...I have (yet again!) neglected blogging.

Life's been so full for me as of late. I was married a little more than a month ago...and leading up to life's circumstances changed dramatically. Looking back, I suppose it would have been nice to have been blogging my way through but it wasn't in the cards.

Today I'm just thinking about YOU. About anyone who is still reading this blog or drops in from time to time. I drop in on your blogs too. I'm grateful for the blogging community which provides each of us with a wealth of people who like to not only read about people like me (!) but on occassion, will give advice, send well-wishes and even pray for me. Thank you, cyber-friends.

Northern California is going well. I am enjoying being married and living with my husband and our sons...yes, my son moved in with us too. So we've got a busy household a few nights a week (some nights, my husband's sons are with their mom). The busyness of the house has helped me from lamenting too long or feeling the anxiety and depression which inevitably follows too much isolation for me. So thank you, Lord. You are GOOD. Continually, abundantly, remarkably GOOD.

I've experienced some profound losses recently. With many of those losses (like the loss of my old small group) the Lord has replaced the emptiness with something my current small group whom I deeply love. Yet one of the losses cannot be replaced and I find myself aching intensely when I think about it.

Without going into too much detail, a friend of mine asked that we part ways after she expressed that I had done some things that hurt her. We never really talked it out...she sent me an email explaining her feelings and declined an invitation to talk on the phone (as we no longer live in the same area).

I remember the last time I called her. It was just to say "hey, I heard this song on the radio...I'm laughing...I want to share with you..." Gee, I want to blog more on the subject but I need to leave it alone...

I was thinking back recently to the time when I first began this blog. My friend encouraged me to write and I found that it was my salvation in my darkest times. Through writing I've learned much. I have something to say. There are people who still want to listen. God loves me so much.

When I started this blog I was leading a small group and oh my goodness those times were hard. I didn't know the first thing about what I was doing and I made so many mistakes. It was like I couldn't help but make mistakes. I met some really wonderful people in my first small group. I know that the Lord put us all together and I still communicate with many of those people.

We were a bunch of people, mostly people who had returned or turned recently to Christ, and we really cared about one another. I used to grow frustrated when people didn't show up or take the study seriously (I took it all far to personally). I used to want everyone's walk to be exactly as my own.

Since then, I've faced issues with my co-dependency, my controlling-nature, my anxiety and fears. And the answers are always always always the same...go to God, take it to God, trust God.

Someone was sharing the story where Jesus asked Peter to get out of the boat and walk on the water...the more Peter began to THINK, the faster Peter began to SINK. For an intense person like me ... writing can SOMETIMES be a huge trap. Too much THINK...too much SINK. So I try not to over-analyze so much. Hmmmm, let me re-state that. I try not to think too much without talking to God about it first because often times, He has the answers. He is just waiting for me to quiet myself down so he can share them with me.

So that's the extent of my blog for know, too much thinking and all...thank you for continuing to read and care...our intersections are gifts from God!!