When You’ve Got Nothing Left to Give…and need some help and some hope

Image  About three months ago I began a program to get my teaching license and eventually my Masters in Education.  At the time it seemed like a really good thing…even though I don’t have the money to pay for the program nor is the time to do it clearly evident.  In fact when I was interviewing with the head of the program, he questioned whether it was possible for a single mother of 5 to do the program much less teach full time.  I assured him it was possible – I had actually already done it…totally a miracle by the way.

And I need another miracle.  I need help!!!

O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me.  Psalm 71:12

In every form available.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come? 

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1 

I have to be honest I’m having one of those days when it just seems like nothing is going to be doable.  And getting my children to seriously put some effort into helping is more than frustrating.  And the house seems to be crashing around me at the same time everything I have to do is crashing as well.

And today I have a fever, a wicked bad sore throat, body aches, and I just want to lie down and sleep…well, actually at the moment I want to lie down and cry.

I didn’t use to be prone to tears, but lately I feel like I’m on the verge at all times.  It just seems like I can’t possibly handle everything God has given me.  And the future just looks harder and harder…

Today my Bible study was on Philippians 4:6-7.  I’ve been studying Philippians for months so I knew these verses were going to show up sooner or later.  They used to be my mantra, but then I decided to put my big girl pants on and actually live by them not just chant them to myself.

Apparently I’ve forgotten how to do that of late.  I’m just an absolute mess of fear, worry, anxiety, sorrow, and frustration.  I don’t want to be this girl.

Just now I was downstairs trying to get my children to do something, anything, to help…I was tripping over dogs, cars, toys and clothes (which is hazardous with a broken foot).  There are dishes in the sink and more laundry than you can comprehend.  Even though today my little girls are outside without jackets, in two days we are expecting more snow and sleet so I can’t put all those blasted coats, scarves, boots, and gloves away.  And they are all over the place.  I finally just designated a room for them to be everywhere…the foyer was embarrassing.  I know taxes are going to be due about the same time as tuition…that is another God sized task…huge.  (There is actually a part of me that is excited to see how God provides for them!  The other part of me is terrified.)  The other day I met with a school official about one of my children and the learning issues she has – I drove home in tears (shocking…tears).  In the next few weeks I have to fit in practicum hours and I can’t even figure out where they are going to magically appear.  What is going to drop so I can do that?  Something’s gotta give.

I kinda feel like I’m just the one giving lately.  I don’t think I have much more to give.

Unfortunately at this moment I feel like giving up.  I feel like just crawling under the covers and forgetting about deadlines, appointments, assignments, finances, houses, issues, illnesses, learning issues, and everything else.

I hate being like this.  I don’t like using that word “hate” but it fits.  I really don’t want to be this way.  I want to live in victory.  How can I feel so defeated when I have God?  It is so hard to keep my focus on Him.

I started today with Him and tonight I will end with time with Him.   But somewhere in between I keep getting sidetracked by all the minutia of the day…who am I kidding it isn’t just the day…it’s everything all the time.

It’s so much.  I can’t keep up mentally, physically or emotionally.  I just can’t.

I’m crying UNCLE!

So now what?

I don’t know.  I can’t really call uncle…just because I give up doesn’t mean things stop or go away.  I’m still a single momma.  I still have 5 children.  I still need to take care of them and our home and our finances and our future.  I still need to get up and live this life.

Lord, how?

How do I move forward when I feel so overwhelmed?

You say that I can trade burdens with you – that yours is easy and light.  I want that.  I want easy and light.  Lord, what does that look like…I mean practically?  When there is just so much to do and so many emotions and thoughts rolling around inside of me?  How do I untangle the mess of me?

Lord, I think I can’t just give you a burden…I think I need to give you me.  I want to jump in your arms and rest…sleep.  I want you to handle everything for me.  I can’t hide though Lord.  I have to DO something?  What do I do?

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 

You will not need to fight in this battle.  Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.  Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed.  Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you. 

2 Chronicles 20:12, 15, 17

I’m really praying about this.

I think what I do is just do this day…just take this day and its mess and do it…and rest in the fact that God has my tomorrows.

Do what I can…honestly, right now there just seems to be too much to do…too much for one person with limited resources.

I think the thing I need most is time.  Time to do all the things that need to be done so there isn’t so much to do.  Do you know what I mean?

If I could just get rid of some things, de-clutter, organize, and take care of all the house projects that stare at me daily, maybe that would help me get past some of the stress.  Maybe.  I hate to use the “if I could just…” phrase, because part of me thinks that I just have to learn to let go and let God.  Just not sure what that means…you know, what does that look like?

I have a basement that should be dealt using a shovel and dumpster…a car that needs to be power washed on the inside…an office that has way too many papers all over the place…and children’s rooms that have been taken over by clothing and damp towels…honestly…it’s enough to drive me bonkers.  I think I’m pretty close to bonkers.  And that’s just annoying little stuff.  Why does that stuff make me so nuts?

The other day there was a tornado warning and I thought for a moment, “Hmmmm….”

Like that’s a viable options!?!  I could just take my kids, the dogs and a very few precious things and the wind could have the rest.

We’ll cram into a little apartment and just be us and a few things.  That sounds lovely…it’d probably only be lovely for about 2 hours and then I’d regret it.

I know from emails and messages that many of us are feeling overwhelmed by our circumstances…and those circumstances include all the pain and sadness of divorce and single parenting.

That pain and sadness get better…I don’t think I’ll ever not have sadness at what my children have lost, but God is healing me and He is showing me His love and faithfulness in amazing and beautiful ways.

I know that it’s so difficult to see past the situation now.  I’m struggling with that very thing.  I’m overwhelmed by my circumstances and my fears.  And honestly it baffles me.  I know better.  I know the God who I love and who loves me.  Why in the world am I struggling?  Why can I not just rest in his presence?  Why do I get all wound up?

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.  Psalm 42:5

I will tell you that as I have been writing God has brought to mind so many scripture passages.  The one I shared earlier, 2 Chronicles 20…do you know what happens after God answers the people by saying do not be afraid?  People are appointed to sing to the Lord and praise Him!

“Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.”  And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so they were routed.   2 Chronicles 20:21

Oh my goodness!  I’m so excited how God has used His word to show me His love again!  So as I’m typing that verse out I’m remembering that this morning I was studying Philippians 4:6-7

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and yours minds in Christ Jesus.”

THANKFULNESS.

Could that be the answer to our current states of distress?  Could it be that simple…and difficult?

Could I choose thankfulness?  If I cannot find anything to be thankful for in this world, could I focus on the next?  Could I focus on Christ? Could I focus on my new identity in Christ – not this discouraged divorced, single mama, but that beautiful child of the King…loved, cherished, precious, chosen, forgiven, and redeemed?   I think if I truly grasped how amazing that is, I wouldn’t be able to become discouraged by this world…I could live within a different paradigm.  I could find my strength – emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually – in the Lord.

Oh friends, the answer is there.  It’s Him.  Find Him in His word.

My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!  Psalm 119:28

Say His words back to Him – say those promises out loud.  Pray and find Him in the chaos and the quiet.

I cannot begin to tell you how just in this time of writing God has calmed and quieted my heart through His word.  There are so many more verses I want to share but I’ve already gone way past the word limit I set for myself.

But here’s two more to encourage you…

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon the rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.  Psalm 40:1-3

He is faithful…He is good…He is kind…He loves you.  Rest assured He will walk you through this…

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.  Isaiah 43:1-4

broken heart

 Broken.

One of those words that doesn’t bring a lot of joy.  Who wants to be broken? 

Broken things.

             Broken bones.

                            Broken relationships.

                                                  Broken vows.

                                                                        Broken homes.

                                                                                                Broken hearts.

I assume we are all on the same page and don’t want that word to describe much if anything in our lives.  In fact, the only phrase with broken in it that I can think of ever wanting to use is “broken fever”.

For a while I’ve tried to figure out a different word to describe my family other than broken.  Initially I thought it was just too negative. I started trying out different descriptive words.  Wounded.  Bruised.  Hurting.  Anything but broken.

I wanted to stand up and holler, “WE ARE NOT BROKEN!!!!” 

But you know what?  I believe we are.  And I’m realizing that that’s okay.

We are broken but healing.  God, the Great Physician, is fixing up all the broken parts.

A couple of things have brought me to this conclusion. 

The first was reading this verse:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  2 Corinthians 4:7-10

After reading that verse I looked up the meaning of “jars of clay.”  One of the definitions said that the jars of clay would have brought to mind a common household jar – probably inexpensive and fairly easy to break.  It would probably have cracks and chips from being well-used. 

There is so much to get from this verse, but the idea that struck me was that the brokenness of the jar of clay allows what’s inside to be seen – to flow out. 

The brokenness of our lives allows God to shine through us.  Oh my goodness, that sounds like some really syrupy sweet quote to post on Facebook.   Unfortunately for all of us I can’t think of a better way to say it.

I just know that when everything in my world went cablooey, God was the only explanation for why I didn’t personally go cablooey.    It was abundantly clear that the strength I had to move forward came from God and God alone – “the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

One of my first fears following the shattering of my marriage was that my testimony was toast.  I kept thinking of all the people that would think we were just absolute frauds.  I felt like a fraud.  Or maybe I should say I felt like I’d been defrauded.   Everyone, including me, thought we had a great marriage.  How could I speak about my relationship with God, if everyone thought I hadn’t been honest about my relationship with my husband?

But God showed me that my testimony wasn’t about what I could or couldn’t do…my testimony is what God has done and is still doing in my life.

 And He worked mightily in those days following the shattering.  He loved me and my children through our church, our homeschool community, our neighbors, and even the city where my husband had worked.  He provided for us in amazing ways.  He gave us peace and even joy in the midst of our pain and breaking.  It was HIM, all Him.

Just as light shows through or water pours out of cracks in a broken pot, Jesus shows through our brokenness.

He showed through broken vows when He gave me the strength, peace, and perspective to fight for my marriage in the face of my husband’s betrayal.  Believe me it wasn’t me.

He showed through the broken relationships caused by my husband’s actions when He gave our friends wisdom, kindness, compassion, and grace to pursue my husband and love him despite his response.

He showed through our broken home by strengthening the bond my children and I have, strengthening our faith, and gracing us with love and joy.

He showed through my broken heart when I was able to comfort with the comfort I’d been given (2 Corinthians 1:4).

I could probably think of a million more ways that God has shown through the brokenness of my life.  I’ve seen it in others too.  My friends who have or who are battling illness…the grace they have while suffering greatly.   The way my suffering friends reach out to others in their grief and pain.  The compassion I see in my children because they understand what it means to be loved by others while going through difficulties.  The love I see in those who have had their hearts broken, but are still willing to open up to love again.

So I’m thinking that maybe being broken isn’t such a bad thing. 

Especially if God is allowing the breaking…which I believe He does.  If God allows it He is going to use it.  If God allows it He is going to bring good out of it.  If God allows it He is going to bring us through it.  If God allows it He is going to be glorified! All those things are good…very good.

I really am okay being referred to as broken.  I’m not a broken woman…I’m a woman broken by the Lord so that I can be healed.  And I believe that I’m much better as a healed woman than I ever was before the breaking.  

I have a long way to go and there is a lot of brokenness that needs to be healed. 

I’m realizing this is a big topic.  One that I’m going to have to ponder more.  Because it’s one thing for me to be broken and to watch God work with me towards healing.  It is another thing all together to watch how the breaking of so much in our lives has affected my children.  That has been very very difficult for me.  I’m definitely going to have to pray about that before I share my thoughts.

I believe it’s going to be me again recognizing that I have to entrust my children to God.  I have to believe that He is working good for them in all of this too. 

A lot to pray and ponder to be sure.

Thank you so much for being willing to walk this path with me.  For being interested in my thoughts.

I pray that they have encouraged you that no matter what way we describe our families…whole, broken, wounded, healing, etc…God has us and it is good. 

final diagram verse

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

This morning my Bible study was on suffering.  I had a few thoughts as I realized what the day’s topic was:

Ugh.  Really? Suffering? 

What a minute…isn’t this Bible study on the book of Philippians – shouldn’t it be mostly about joy!?

Oh no!  I don’t want to study suffering…whenever I study something my life seems to mirror the topic. 

Can I opt out?

I don’t want any more character…

But I diligently went through all the verses on suffering.  They were familiar verses like Romans 8:28-30 “…for those who love God, all things work together for good…” and 2 Corinthians 4:11-18 “…this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” and 1 Peter 1:6-9 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

I really like the verses in 1 Peter.  Being a past grammar teacher (please don’t judge my grammar now…many many brain cells have died since then), I had the fleeting thought of diagramming the verses to see what modified what and all that English major geeky stuff.  Instead I decided to diagram 1 Peter 1:6-9 my own way.

It was interesting to see it all laid out visually.  I’m a consummate visual learning.  Big pictures are good for me.

So often I need big pictures, hand-written notes, and some serious concentration to understand.  Sometimes a friend will say that I’m a deep thinker…really I’m not.  Occasionally I’ll have a profound thought but if I don’t write it down immediately it’s gone…forever.

So as I’m studying today I thought I’d write down what God is showing me about suffering.

I’m in an interesting place right now.  There is no big thing causing me to suffer great amounts of pain or sorrow.  I’m living a life that is just simply challenging.  I don’t believe it’s more difficult than most nor is it easier than most.  It’s just my life.

I used be a judgmental kinda gal…in my head. I recall sitting at a Bible study listening to ladies share their prayer requests thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding?  Really, THAT’s your prayer request?!  Just wait til I share mine!”

Oh my goodness! I’m so ashamed of those thoughts.

I distinctly remember the last time I thought that.  It was during the second year of my single parenting adventure.  I was working full-time, trying to raise two toddlers, two teenagers and a middle child J and I was fried.  A sweet, sweet lady shared a prayer request that seemed so ridiculous to me…and those thoughts started.  Almost immediately I thought, “Who am I to judge how this dear friend feels about things in her life.  Just because they seem minor to me does not in any way discount how major they seem to her.”

I’m not sure what was different at that point except that God was softening my heart with all the love and grace He was pouring into my life.  I’d received so much of it that I was able to offer it…not out of the goodness of my heart but out of the overflow of His.

The suffering in my life has produced something good.  Something wonderful.  I believe that I’m becoming a more compassionate, kinder, more grace-filled woman.  It doesn’t always show but God’s working with me.  Becoming more and more that godly woman has become the desire of my heart.  I have a vision for it…for her…that woman, mother, friend, daughter, Christian I want to be.

It sounds an awful lot like the character thing that Paul mentions in Romans 5:3-5! Maybe I was wrong about wanting more character…well, I think I should probably take the word maybe out of this sentence.  I can always use more character.

Suffering = Endurance = Character = Hope

And hope.  Who doesn’t want more hope!?  I most certainly do.  Each day I’m beginning to understand more and more the hope that is mine in Christ.

In the days, months, years since my family shattered, I’ve been particularly blessed by many of the Psalms.  I especially love how they pour out their anguish, anger, and anxieties to God and then will often say things like this:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.  Psalm 42:5

How beautiful that God continues to bring us back to Him.  What a blessing to know that in the midst of great suffering there is hope.  Not only can we bring all the difficulties of our suffering to God, but we can trust Him to bring us through it all.

It brings to mind another verse I read this morning:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:26-28

Those Psalmists probably were groaning to the Lord and the Spirit was interceding for them…searching their hearts.  He interceded for them just as He does for us.  And the confidence of that intercession brought them to the same place those verses in Romans can bring us…a place of understanding that God will always work things together for good.  Thank you Father!

It isn’t just in our suffering that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us though.  I have always loved this verse:

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.  Hebrews 7:25

Jesus LIVES to make intercession for us!  Lives to do it!  What!?!

Dictionary.com defines intercession like this:  “an interposing or pleading on behalf of another person; a prayer to God on behalf of another.”

Jesus lives to plead on my behalf.

Doesn’t that just blow your mind?  Not only did He live the sinless life I couldn’t, die the death I should’ve, and be raised to life again with power I can’t comprehend…He NOW lives for me!

Jesus is so all about me!

Why can’t I be all about Him?  (Argh.)

A lot of the verses I read this morning were about sharing in the sufferings of Christ, having a desire to know Christ better through His sufferings, following the example He set while suffering, and glorifying Him through our suffering.

I think being all about Christ means that I’m willing to suffer for Him, with Him, like Him.  I don’t think it means that I have a desire to suffer but rather a willingness to because it is a “gracious thing in the sight of God” (1 Peter 2:18-25) and it brings Him glory and me growth in my faith.

I write about suffering with great trepidation.  It’s not based on anything Biblical, just a fear of more suffering.  I wish I was braver.

I trust God and I know He uses it all for good, I just hate going through it.

I understand though and, like the Psalmist, I do believe that God is worthy of praise and trust even in the trials.

Studying suffering is going to be good for me.  Reminding me again that God is good even when life is bad.  That I can indeed rejoice in my suffering because I have Jesus.

Time to put the proverbial big girl pants on and get busy in the Word!

Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  1 Peter 5:8-10


 

Me, The Hermit, and a Molasses Cookie

Cookies Fresh Out of the Oven

I’ve become a hermit.

Hermit\ adj., living in the desert. 1 a: one that retires from society and lives in solitude esp. for religious reasons: RECLUSE 2 : a spiced molasses cookie

When I started this blog I was meaning more the recluse definition but I think I’m going to go with “a spiced molasses cookie”…I LOVE molasses cookies J!

Since the dictionary was open I decided to look up molasses too.

Molasses\ 1: the thick dark to light brown syrup that is separated from raw sugar in sugar manufacture 2: a syrup made from boiling down sweet vegetable or fruit juice

Something made from boiling. Hmmmm…I definitely feel like I’m in hot water a lot.  Maybe God is making me into something sweet and syrupy…

ehhh, probably not. 

Although I did have a friend say after 10 years of friendship, “You know when I first met you I thought you were too sweet. Now I know better.”

It was a compliment…of sorts.  Actually I know she meant it that way.  I’m drawn to strong, opinionated women who speak their mind…although I wouldn’t say that I’m one.  I mean in the traditional definition. 

I’m strong but in a mushy sorta way. I’m opinionated but not given to sharing my opinion…silently opinionated. 🙂 

Good grief…what was I talking about in the first place?

Oh yeah…being a hermit…or a cookie…or both.

In all seriousness I’ve been a bit of a recluse lately.  Or wanted to be. 

If I could be I’d be one.  I find myself not writing a lot, not texting a lot, not calling a lot, not answer phones a lot, not wanting to visit a lot…see, recluse.

Although I’m not lonely.  And that is a blessing.

When my husband left I didn’t feel this way.  In fact I was probably the exact opposite.  I mean, I didn’t feel like I wanted to hide away or miss phone calls or texts.  In fact, I had to work on NOT answering every phone call or text…I wanted to talk to people.  And I was terribly lonely.

What changed?

Honestly, I’m not sure.  But I think part of it is the complexity of life…and death.

My father passed away last month.  It wasn’t a surprise but it still rocked my world.  It hasn’t impacted how I live a normal day but it has impacted how I feel about some things.

I believe my father’s death was kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The past few years have been fanny kickers.  Seriously.  Fanny kickers. 

You know that hot water thing I mentioned…I think I got pushed into it.  And I’m having a heck of a time getting out of it.  I’m getting there…slowly but surely.

But it seems like the water temperature keeps increasing and sometimes the sides of the pool are a bit slippery.  But I have to admit that I‘ve not felt lonely…I’ve not felt abandoned or forsaken.  I know that God is with me even though my life feels overwhelming and difficult.

Maybe being a bit hermit-ish isn’t so bad.  It’s given me some time to think.  It’s given me some time to focus.  I can’t say I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of things done apart from parenting and homeschooling and a tiny bit of writing, but I’ve been blessed to do some wonderful Bible studies, read a great book*, and hang out with some dear people in my life, especially my children. 

I guess what I want to write is that it’s okay to rest in our relationships a bit.   It’s okay to be still.  In fact as I was writing this a kind friend sent me an email reminding me of Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that I am God.

I love how God does stuff like that.

Being still.  Being quiet.  Those are good things.  In moderation of course.  It’s not like my life is ever truly still or quiet…unless I’m asleep and that’s rare in and of itself.  BUT I believe resting in God is good.  And allowing ourselves time to deal with all that life has thrown our way can be a very good thing too.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28

 

So to all my sweet friends who have suffered my lame-friendness…please forgive me.  I’m praying that God will renew my energy and heal all my broken places.

I’m praying for all of us to know that God is our peace, our strength, and our hope in our busy lives whether they are loud or quiet. 

Thus says the LORD:  “Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16    

*The great book is Jesus+Nothing=Everything by Tullian Tchividjian    

Do You Really Want to be Where I Am?

butterfly landing on flower

“I wish I could get to where you are…I still feel so hopeless, sad, or angry.”

Whenever I hear that I want to say, “Trust me, you DO NOT want to be where I am!”

I struggle a lot with things. I have moments where I feel like disaster is imminent…where I can’t possibly do this life successfully…when my sins seem too awful…when I can’t see anything good happening.

Days filled with many more tears than laughter.

But then God shows me that He indeed has it all under control…He is working and He is loving us. And I’m reminded that this life is not about me knowing the answers, it’s about me knowing Him. And it’s about my kids knowing Him too.

Today has been a roller coaster…and it’s only noon.

There are times when curling up in a ball seems like the best position to approach the day. If only I were like an armadillo with some outer armor so I’d be safe and protected.

Today is one of those days.

I woke with such hope for the day but heartache found me fast. It’s a thousand things and nothing at all…it’s the past, the present, and the future…it’s people and things, occurrences and utterances…it’s calls and texts and emails…it’s my thoughts and sometimes my actions and words…it’s just this life.

I can’t tell you what made the curling begin, but I can tell you when I decided that I wasn’t going to curl up in a ball and cry no matter how much I wanted to.

My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Psalm 119:28


Let me go to the beginning or at least close to it.

My youngest daughter, Jane, is almost 6. She is beautiful, fun, and feisty. She is also angry, defiant, and disobedient. The past two weeks have been very difficult for her…and therefore for me too.

Even at such a young age my little girl thinks deep things and asks hard questions. She is dearer to me than I can express. I was blessed to become her momma when she was 24 hours old. I loved her the moment I heard about her.

One of the hardest things for me since my husband left is the fact that my two youngest adopted daughters have now had two father’s abandon them. My ex-husband contends that he did not abandon us, but I don’t know another word that fits the situation better. That’s certainly how we all feel.

Both girls know they are adopted. They ask lots of questions and I try and answer well. Last night Allison asked me why the lady who had her in her tummy gave her to me. I answered, “She wasn’t able to take care of you and she loved you so much she wanted you to have a mommy and a…” and I thought, “Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Why????”

While in my head I questioned God, I whispered out loud to my sweet little girl how thankful I was that God chose me to be her mommy – that God grew her in my heart – that she is a blessing. I told her how I had chosen the name Jane because it means “God’s gracious gift” and I consider her exactly that. She seemed satisfied and we cuddled close. But the ache in her heart – and mine – remains.

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10

Two of my closest neighbors have shared that my sweet little girl has asked their husbands if they will be her daddy. The other night she and I sat on the front porch weeping because her best little friend has a daddy at home and she doesn’t. She is desperately sorrowful about it. I keep telling her she has a daddy, but she maintains it is not the same. Which it isn’t.
I don’t know what to do. I can’t fix it. And it hurts.

Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Psalm 119:66


This morning we were having a relatively good morning when things just fell apart with a mean action towards her 7 year old sister, Marie…there were mean words and angry outbursts, discipline and prayer…but she is still so angry. I can see it. She is stealing herself inside and I don’t know how to stop it. I can’t seem to figure out how to parent my dear daughter. I feel like I do everything wrong.

Jane is angry at me. She asked this week, “Why doesn’t anyone like you Mom?” Ouch.

She feels I should have already remarried. And in her mind the fault lies with me. After all her daddy is remarried. I don’t have an answer for that except God’s way, God’s will, God’s timing and God’s man…but she’s 5 and that’s not something she grasps. JUST FIX IT MOMMY!

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:14

As I sat this morning in her room while she sat angrily on the floor, I couldn’t help but ask God, “Why? God, why are you allowing my little girl to go through this?” I was angry, very angry, at God. I was ready to have words with Him…

I do not understand His plan. I do not understand why my children have to suffer.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

I’m realizing that I don’t struggle as much when difficult things happen to me. I trust Him. But I am struggling to trust His plan for my children as I watch Him allow things to happen and not to happen in their lives.

Earlier this week something didn’t happen for my oldest daughter, Caroline, that again had me a little annoyed with God. I don’t understand why things just can’t seem to work out for her. She is a wonderful, wonderful young woman who is consistently being disappointed by people and events. I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I don’t understand why God’s plan is to allow things to mess with her confidence. I just want one thing to go her way…one thing.

BUT I know that I can trust God. I know that the things He allows He will use for good in my children’s lives. I just don’t understand how and I feel a desperate need to catch a glimpse of how this is going to work out for them. I’m twisted in knots about it.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:5, 11

Even as I write God is reminding me of things that are going well. Things that are blessing my children. Ways He is working visibly.
For example, I have godly neighbors who love and pray for my children. The men Jane is asking to be her daddy are godly men who God will use to love and bless her. And my prayer partner and dear friend’s husband is going to take my Jane on a date next week. Another kind friend from church has asked about mentoring Caroline. I’ve been praying for someone to come alongside her for 5 years! I’m so excited I could bust. Those are good things! I forget those when I’m in the middle of things.

I forget a lot in the middle of my emotions.

But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deed of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. Psalm 71:14-16


I forget that God has been faithful…God has loved us in innumerable ways…God has provided for us over and over again. I hate that I forget and get all mixed up with my emotions.

When Caroline and I were working through her sorrow and disappointment earlier this week, I reminded her of all the good things we have and we were comforted that God loves us and takes care of us.

So at the beginning-ish of this post I mentioned that I remember the moment when I decided I wasn’t going to have a curl-up-and-cry kinda day.

It was the moment right after I was sitting with my angry little girl and I was mentally yelling at God. I looked at my little girl and I realized that I want her to run to God and love Him with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength…I want her to trust Him. He is the ONLY answer to all our struggles. Where else would we go?

You know that difficult place of questioning God and not trusting His goodness? Well I’m not going to go there.

I’m just not.

At least I’m going to try hard not to.

I want to show my children what it looks like to run to God rather than curling up in a ball. I want to show them that God will bless us through our difficulties…that He will provide hope for us.

He will take care of our children and be all that they need. He will give us the protection we need as we stand firm…no need to curl up in a ball! He will lead us and love us.

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 24:4-5

Do You Feel Loved?

Yellow loveToday I feel loved.

Lately it’s been difficult to grasp that I’m lovable…that anyone could really and truly love me.

And yes I know that God loves me…perfectly, relentlessly, beautifully, unconditionally, and passionately…all the ways I want to be loved. But I guess after my husband left, I’ve wanted someone to love me – to be willing to fight for me. To love me enough to do this life with me no matter what God calls us to.

But today, God loved me so tangibly I really and truly got it. I felt it to my core that God loves me.

I have to stop here and say God has loved me in this way before, often. Especially after my husband left…golly, did He love me! It’s just that I got my eyes off of Him and started getting all insecure in my life rather than recognizing that God knows me and loves me completely!

This morning I had my ladies’ Bible study and I was practically skipping afterwards. God just loved on me through those ladies and His word. How blessed I was to be reminded that He does indeed work all things together for good to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) He turns all that sorrow into joy…He gives us beauty for ashes.
My Bible study this week was actually on Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress, instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the plantings of the LORD, that he may be glorified.


God has sent Jesus to bring us good news, bind up our broken hearts, free us from the things that hold us captive like fear, insecurities, anxiety, sorrow, and sin, to comfort us and give us beauty instead of ashes.

That passage has so much in it. I just want to pull it apart and ponder it all. But today God just poured beauty all over me.

The ashes of sorrow and shame and sadness were replaced with a crown of beauty. A crown because I am a daughter of the King. A beautiful crown because I’m a dearly loved daughter of the King.

What a wonder!

It’s God and me…no matter what happens in my life…He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Forsake means “to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert.” Those things have been my experience with the most important person in my life. And yet, although I struggle with much because of his decision to leave, there is a greater love I have found.

For me, the key to living in security, strength, and without sorrow and fear has been to focus on His love for me…to study His word, to get to know Him better, to know His character, and to find Him to be all that I need…even all that I want.

I wrote this a few years ago…God reminded me of it today:

“So here I am: single, divorced, and exhausted. I have to be brutally honest, this is so not where I thought I would be at this point in my life. Being single in my forties is not ideal. But even though my fairy-tale glass slipper was shattered before I got to the ball, my carriage turned into a pumpkin at 10:00 pm, and my prince was certainly no prince, I’m doing all right.
I have a better Prince who has truly rescued me. He might not hold me tight at night and whisper sweet words in my ear, but His presence is comforting and His words are encouraging and true. My fairy tale might not have followed the story line I had hoped for, but I know that the ending is going to be sweet! I’m excited to see what God is going to continue to do in my life and the lives of my children.” (When Happily Ever After Shatters, p125)

It’s Him and me.

I love Him and He loves me! I’m so thankful!

A Quiver Full of Wonderful

family shot for churchRecently I was interviewed for an article in an absolutely beautiful Christian magazine. It was a pleasure to speak to the interviewer and I hoped that my message would be a blessing to anyone who read the article.

Unfortunately, I was not blessed by reading the article. I was distraught. I was so surprised by the things I was quoted as saying. I can’t imagine saying them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t. If I did, I need to apologize to every reader. I really truly hope I didn’t.

There were several quotes that frustrated me but one that simply pushed me over the edge.

“I don’t think I was a bad wife. We just had lots of kids,
and life got in the way of our marriage.”

WHAT????? I can’t believe those words would have come out of my mouth! Lots of kids…well…yeah, but they are a BLESSING!!!!!

And life got in the way of our marriage? Our life was part of our marriage…the choices we made together to raise children, adopt children, homeschool children, work a high-pressured job, and be involved in our church and community were things that together we decided would enrich our marriage, our family, and our life.

I NEVER EVER EVER want my children to think that they in ANY WAY had ANY PART in the divorce of their parents. THEY DID NOT!!!!

My husband leaving was solely his deal. His issue…not mine and most definitely NOT THEIRS!

I’m not sure if you can tell that I’m quite passionate about this…quite annoyed too.

This is exactly the message I hear so often – “Well, your life was really full…” as if full is a bad thing!?!

Full of what?

Children?

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

God has a wonderful way of describing a house full of children – a heritage, a reward, arrows, a blessing…what’s not to like about that!

YES! Our life was full…it was full of…LIFE!

Meals shared, prayers uttered, stories read, games played, hugs and kisses given, bedtime snuggles, wrestling matches, workdays, school book studying, chores nagging, yard work doing, church services worshipping, Bible study learning, small group getting-together, pool splashing, bike riding, football throwing, soccer ball booting, basketball shooting, scraped knees and broken bone comforting, vacation loving, family visiting, being and growing and doing this whole living thing together!

It was not perfect, but it was beautiful. It was crazy. It was fun. It was frustrating. It was difficult. It was loving. It was a blessing. It was our life. And it was worth fighting for.

I guess I just want to say that I don’t believe that I was perfect nor do I believe that our life was perfect, but I do believe that it was just right for us. I believe that our children were and still are blessings…wonderful, silly, sometimes stinky blessings.

I believe that the challenges are worth it.

I believe that the day to day living of life as a family is exquisite.

I know I cannot go back and fix my family or that article…but I can tell you that it has given me a new resolve to enjoy my family…all the exhaustion, all the chaos, all the challenges… it has reminded me that this life is a blessing that I don’t want to miss.

Lately I’ve uttered words to God like, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” and “I can’t do this anymore.” But God is reminding me that I do really want to do this life…that I love this life. And He is showing me that I can do this because I have Him…and it is worth the fight.

I might have lost the fight for my marriage, but I did not lose the fight for my family. I have them right here with me and I’m proud to say that I have a full quiver of arrows! I will be the mighty warrior in this family and protect and fight for it!

Are You Stuck in a Miry Bog Too?

swamp 1
A lot of people have told me lately that I’m too hard on myself. That I refer to myself as a mess way too much.
I believe them.

The problem is that I feel like a mess…I feel like I just can’t get my life together…any part of it.
I told a friend recently that I feel like a spinning top…all wobbly and going in circles. See…that’s not positive either. Honest but not positive.

My friend replied that I’m not a spinning top. I just have a lot of spinning plates and some of them are wobbly. I think they are all wobbly…but that’s just me.

The problem is that my life is messy….maybe I’m not the mess…maybe it’s my life. And I’ve never been partial to playing in the mud.

I believe I’m kinda in the muck right now. It’s a rather yucky place to be. I’m not very fond of it.

Muck reminds me of some verses:

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon the rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3

Do you know what a miry bog is? It’s like a muddy swamp. When I think of a swamp I think of a slimy, smelly, wet place. (Actually it also makes me think of Scooby-Doo….the swamp monster or beast or whatever it was called. There are days when I think I might be the swamp monster!?!)

A miry bog is a place where our feet get trapped in mud…where we can sink down and get stuck.

Right now, miry bog feels about right. I’m feeling rather swampy…although I don’t believe I’m slimy or smelly or wet. Just a bit…
ugh…a bit down and stuck.

It’s a difficult place for me. I thought I was done with down. I did the down and stuck thing when my husband left…I don’t want to do it again.

So in the midst of my swamp, what am I to do?

Psalm 40 says I’m to wait patiently for the Lord…at least that’s what the psalmist did. I can do that…I think. I mean honestly my feet are kinda stuck here…my heart is sinking…and my mind is definitely muddy.

Stuck feet…sinking heart…muddy mind. Oh dear.

The cool thing about reading a whole passage of Scripture not a verse or two is that you often get a very beautiful thing…a lovely present from God.

I decided to read all of Psalm 40 and how very glad I am that I did. God showed me is that this psalmist is speaking my heart.

The psalm begins with a remembrance of God’s deliverance and a time of praising God for all He has done…for His continued faithfulness and provision.

The psalmist also reminds God that he has been faithful to share all the wonderful things God has done.

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. (9-10)

The next part of the passage is the psalmist asking again for God’s deliverance. He’s facing new trials.

For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! (12-13)

That’s how I’m feeling right now. When my husband left and divorce became a reality and single parenting became my life, God faithfully inclined his ear to me and heard my cry. He delivered me. He gave me a song of praise to share.

But now things are all wonky again and I need some serious rescuing…again.

And, like the psalmist, I believe and trust that God is going to deliver me. I even on some level have an excitement about what God is going to do. I just know that He is going to do something grand in my life. Even if it isn’t grand by the world’s standards, it will be a blessing by mine.

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! (17)

How often have I wanted to say, “Do not delay God! Please work quickly!”

I know that God’s timing is always perfect…maybe I should say that it always results in the perfect thing, but His timing definitely does NOT feel perfect sometimes. Sometimes perfect to me means RIGHT NOW!! Who am I kidding…not sometimes, ALL THE TIME!

BUT I trust Him. I know Him to be faithful and I know that He will always and only do what is the very best thing for me and mine.

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! (11)

He’s taking me to a deeper understanding of His love for me…it’s a glorious thing but oh I have so much to work through in my own heart so that I can receive all that He has in store for me.

Thankfully He does not leave me to work alone…He is totally in charge of the work and the worksite! I’m excited to see what He does and where He takes me in His word and in my life.

God is teaching me so much about Himself and myself. I can’t wait to share. I just want to get my thoughts in order and make sure that what I share blesses you.

Praying that you will seek God, be glad in Him and continually say, “Great is the LORD!”

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!” (16)

Loving the Unlovable…Seriously Unlovable

flashing heart

A few weeks ago I posted about being done.   These past several weeks have been a bit difficult with regard to my attitude about my ex-husband. 

I forgave him 3 years ago, but sometimes I still get annoyed with him.  Sometimes I just want him to be nice. And sometimes I want him to just go away already! 

I’ve been pondering the whole response to an ex that ain’t perfect.  And I’m acknowledging right here and now that neither am I.  Sometimes he just seems a lot less perfect than me…but then again, I know that isn’t exactly accurate either.  I have my own issues and only by the grace of God do I live.

And although at this time in my life I’m writing as it relates to my ex-husband, I believe that God is showing me this is the way I’m to live period…in an attitude of love, goodness, blessing and prayer.  My eyes focused not on my life, not on my circumstances, and not on the wrongs done to me, but rather focused with laser intensity on Jesus!

The verse that God is continually bringing me to is Luke 6:27-28

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 

It seems harsh to refer to my ex-husband as my enemy…although sometimes it feels that way.  I believe that he isn’t my enemy.  I think I feel like I’m in a battle with him, but maybe we are more like opponents in a tennis match…but there’s definitely no love in the score.

“Love your enemies” 

Awww Lord, really?

Love…do good…bless…pray…

Love him?  Love him.  Really?

What does that even look like?  ‘Cause I did that for a long time and it didn’t end so well.  So I’m praying as I write because I really don’t know what that looks like. 

Talking about love always reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Love is:

Patient, Kind, Does not envy or boast, Not arrogant or rude, Does not insist on its own way, Is not irritable or resentful, Does not rejoice in wrongdoing, Rejoices in the truth, BEARS ALL THINGS, BELIEVES ALL THINGS, HOPES ALL THINGS, ENDURES ALL THINGS

Ok, I’m seriously convicted. 

Am I patient with God’s dealing with my situation and my ex?  Am I kind in the face of my ex’s attitudes, accusations, and actions?  Am I rude when I could choose to be kind?  Do I insist that things go my way regardless of God’s plan?  Am I irritable and resentful?  (ugh…definitely)  I do not believe I rejoice in my ex’s wrongdoings but maybe I do a bit when it’s me trying to justify my angry response to him.  Do I rejoice in the truth?  Golly, I hope so. 

But in this circumstance do I bear, believe, hope and endure all things?  Nope, I wanna crawl in my closet and hide.  And when that doesn’t happen I want to yell and argue and fight with my ex.   

Who am I kidding…I can’t do those things?  Love like that?  That’s not logical.

But when has God called me to do something that He hasn’t enabled me to do?  Seriously never! 

Once again I’m gonna have to rely solely on Jesus.  After all He has given us “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

And I’m totally going to need that spirit in my life because not only am I called to love that man, but do good, bless and pray for him.

Do good too? 

Bless Him?!?! 

Pray for him…okay I can do that. 

I checked out Matthew 5:43-48 in The Message.  (That Bible phone app rocks!) 

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that.  I’m telling you to love your enemies.  Let them bring out the best in you, not the worse.  When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.  This is what God does.  He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless:  the good and bad, the nice and nasty.  If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus?  Anybody can do that… “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up.  You’re kingdom subjects.  Now live like it.  Live out your God-created identity.  Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Well that kinda puts it all in perspective. Let them bring out the best in you…respond with the energies of prayer.

Respond with prayer to someone who is a pain. 

God keeps reminding me of that prayer thing.  It IS the only answer.  I believe maybe I need to be putting my energies into prayer rather than thinking about how angry I am or even figuring out how not to be angry. 

And praying will certainly help me be my best…my God-created best.  And that will definitely help me live generously and graciously toward my ex-husband. 

I believe I will pray for God to enable me to live the way God lives toward me!