Friday, August 28, 2009

During the next month or so, we are fasting at LifeSong every Wednesday. We are doing this because we are wanting to remove ourselves out of the way as we look to make some big decisions in the life of our church. We are fasting to hear from just plain and simple hear from Him. We are not asking for the details about our decisions, but we are joining our hearts in one accord as He speaks to us individually, so that we may contribute corporately. It may mean fasting from food, or fasting from things that take your attention and distract you. I won't share in which way I've participated, but I want to share just what God showed me this past Wednesday.

I woke up in a cold sweat on Wednesday morning. I had such an unsettling dream - the kind that just sticks with you all day. It proved one thing to me. I had better start praying right then! I have been in such a season of discontentment and loneliness lately. To me, I felt it was just the discontentment and loneliness of the human sort, but deep down I knew that wasn't true. It was completely a spiritual thing for me. I was discontent in my relationship with God, and you can imagine where that led me...right to the arms of loneliness! I found myself not even longing for God. I could go days without even thinking about Him. I just didn't care. I never kept myself away from surrounding myself with the things of God. I went to services every Sunday. I planned things for Women's ministry. I even went on a mission trip. It all left me unfulfilled. I guess the mission trip probably was really the straw that broke the camel's back. We were in Las Vegas. I've been numerous times before. I noticed the same things there as before, but this time, it drove straight to my heart. All I could see was what my life must look like on the inside.
Everything looked like one big big mess. That's exactly how I felt on the inside. I was miserable.

In many ways, I would rather live in Vegas. It is more like what I'm used to. I grew up in places that were melting pots of people. They didn't live there all their lives. Everybody didn't know everybody, thus everybody didn't know everything about everybody. Sometimes living in a small town, for me, has proved to be the biggest challenge of my life. It was pretty much what was going on in my life at the time. All I associated with small town living was low expectations, no one takes initiative to have relationships and to show someone you really loved them was like speaking a foreign language. This was just so different for me. Growing up overseas, when God changed people, He gave them a joy that was amazing. They couldn't stop smiling. All I was seeing here was hurt. People act like they have it bad, but had no clue how good they really had it. They succumbed to the demon of busyness, and think that's how it's supposed to be. I was becoming just like my surroundings. I don't blame my surroundings, but I was definitely taking on that character because I thought that was how you are supposed to be. All it has been doing to me is making me sick and tired of being sick and tired.
This all leads to what God showed me on Wednesday. I have sooooooo been controlled by fear. It's been that way most of my life. Even in the comfort of being reminded of how I grew up as we traveled to Vegas, I was confronted with it. I am so scared to fail. I'm so scared to let people down. I'm scared to be set a part from the crowd because I'm different. Fear has just been controlling me. I kept myself in situations that never challenged me to overcome it...from my relationships, to my weight, to me wanting to try a new career and not doing it. I had created a cocoon of fear for my life. I was so miserable. God spoke to me on Wednesday to make a change. It's crazy how I sooooo have to go rock bottom and be hurt, be lonely, be the one to hurt and be the one to cause lonliess, before I realize how desperately I need God. I have sensed God speaking to me for the past three weeks now. You have to understand...up to that point, I had not heard a word from Him in a very long time. I had the right mask on. You may not have even known. I wasn't hearing Him utter a word at all to me, though! Suddenly I began to hear Him challenge me to really pray for our upcoming Ladies' Night (This Night) at LifeSong. I almost knew before getting there that He was going to do something good. He did. You can read about it here. Little did I know that Wednesday He would bring me to my knees and be desperate.

Am I over my fear? No! Am I allowing myself to be controlled by it? No way! I realized that I was trying to create situations within my friendships, in church, and my home that would be what I thought I had to have to be happy. It's not what God has called me to do. I have realized that He is totally not calling me to be what you, or anyone else, thinks I should be. He calls me to be what HE wants me to be. Sometimes the road to that isn't so bad, but most of the time it's hard. If it's hard for me, you most likely have witnessed it as I go through it. I won't be silent when things aren't going well. If I can't use my inconsistencies, trials, hard traveled roads to show how God is my Deliverer, then I might has well shut it down. God has not called us to share the easy. He's called us to be real. I don't want to live today and not be the most real that I can be. It risks being talked about. It risks being hurt. It risks being a failure, but it is so worth the risk to me. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." I love that He challenges us to not be in the box. He challenges us to live each day, realizing we have got more blessings than we can count, and when we realize this, we need to LIVE it and stop waiting on someone else to do it for us. We have to live each day and do what He has called us to do...not what He's called our neighbor to do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Little Sweet for Your Sweet Tooth

This is a picture of my table last night for This Night, a ladies' night we have at our church. I was inspired by this and this catalog. Our theme of the night was "This Night...A Night of Restoration." I think this has restoration about it, don't you?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Week of School

So far, the first week of school has been a hit. I would love to show you pictures of my 6th, 4th and 2nd grader...if only my camera wasn't BROKEN! Ugh! I am so heartbroken. I just got that camera about four months ago, and KAPUT! It is just as blank of a screen as a screen can be. I cannot function without my camera, so hopefully I'll find a solution soon! ;)

Anyway, back to school starting. We are in love with all of the girls' teachers. God just seemed to fit them each with someone that they are great with, and we look forward to seeing where this year takes us. So far, not a lot of homework, but I am pretty sure the tone on that will change next week.

Quinn and I have been hanging out together and making up for a lot of cuddle time lost during the summer, because "little one" had to go off and follow BIG sissies everywhere they went. Now, we are using this week to watch a LOT of Dora together, having breakfast with my girlfriends, getting a sitter for Quinn so MOMMY can have breakfast with girlfriends, and of course, SHOPPING! ;) I am loving catching up on my time with her. It makes me a much nicer Mommy with the BIG girls come home everyday. I'm just sayin'! Now, if only we can get this week to stretch out all the way to MAY!

I'm hoping to resume my Monday Menu Planning on Monday. I miss my routine. I have really missed blogging. I don't have a large following, but I'm thankful for this blog world that indulges me to write out my feelings, document my days and just have a journal of our lives to look back on.

Hope your school year has started off to a bang. How have you indulged yourself this week? What are you doing to get back on track?

Right now, I'm off to cuddle with a sweet two and a half year old that is calling for "MaaaaaaaMaaaaaa!" Oooooh, I LOVE THAT!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shoes, or Barefoot?

I have a love for shoes! Now, I'm not one of those people that has a gazillion shoes, but I do have a passion to find a shoe that is different, but must be at a great price! I have recently bought two pairs of shoes for $7 a piece. One pair I've had my eye on all summer, and the other was just one of those "I did not go to buy a pair of shoes today, but how can I pass these up" kind of moments. I could NOT pass up the fact that they had been $70, and I got them for $7...well, really $6.99, but you get the idea. I LOVE these shoes, but the thing is, I cannot walk in them for very long. They hurt my feet, and they are a heel, so being a person that doesn't really wear heels very often (I'm 5'10", so heels are just making the fact I'm already taller than everyone a bigger fact!), they are a lot to get used to. I love them, though, so I'm willing to endure the pain...for a little while. The same is really true for my other pair of new shoes, too. They hurt my feet at first. They are a different shoe, though...a flat. They are beautiful, though! They are shiny red and a statement maker! I love them.

It's funny to me, though, how both pairs of shoes pretty much sum up my life the last few months though. They both are characterized by pain! One pair is much more painful than the other, and the second pair is only slightly painful. Both cause me pain pretty much because I choose to let them. I don't mind it at first, but then I get sick of it and I'm ready to find something that hurts a lot less, which for me, will always mean going barefoot! As much as I adore a cute shoe, you will never find me roaming around my house wearing a shoe at all! I simply can't stand to wear them! I invariably get tired of anything that binds me, causes me pain, or makes me feel that I'm suffocating.

Same, once again, for my life right now. What a season it's been for me. One that has been characterized by pain of MY choosing. Sounds so sadistic, huh? I mean, who would really choose pain? Sometimes we do because it's a safety net for us. As much as we want out of the pain, we stay right there because we almost become accustomed to it. To do what it takes to get rid of it sometimes scares us more than just living with it. We walk around thinking that all the things that have caused us pain in our lives are just how it's supposed to be, and even when something better and more freeing comes along (you know, a cute pair of shoes), we still think that things are going to go sour. Ugh! Get's kind of YUCK to live like that. We become someone we know we are not, all for the sake of keeping up appearances, our masks on, or just because we're scared.

Fact is, God has called us to walk in freedom. WALK! He's equipped us to be just who it is He wants us to be by fitting us with the proper shoes...ones that don't necessarily hurt all the time, but just might in order for us to become more like Him. And then there's that time when He says, "Kick off your shoes and run barefoot!" And yet, sometimes that even hurts, but it is still freedom!

This is just where I've found myself this summer. I've allowed circumstances, people and my own fears to dictate to me what each of those things "think" I'm supposed to be. I've lived most everyday in a shadow of gloom and doom, anticipating something bad coming around the corner, all the while missing out on the very freedom God has for me. It's a cycle for that takes me a different route every time, but one that always leads me right back to the same answer! I need to put on the proper shoes everyday and just WALK with Him. I don't always make the right choices, much like when I choose a real shoe. Sometimes I pick pain and sometimes I pick that shoe that I could wear all day long, and maybe even run in! All I know is that you can never stop choosing to do it! You can't give up.

I may find myself needing to blog about this again one day. I may not know just what to do today, but I know that He gave me this day and to sit around and do nothing won't get me anywhere. Today, I am choosing to walk in the way of my Father. It's taken me a lot of months and a lot of people making me feel like I'm nothing...and most of all, I've made myself feel like a nobody. I'm thankful that today I can step out in whatever shoe I choose and know that I'm stepping out with Him!