Somebody Save Me Please

IMG_1600What if this life is about more than surviving?  Have you ever heard that saying about thriving instead of just surviving?  I don’t know what I think about that quote right now.

What is thriving anyway?

Is that even possible?

I don’t use the word thrive very often…I don’t even use the word survive very often.  I’m kind of in triage mode – that’s the phrase I use a lot.

Just living in triage mode…the most immediate disaster gets my attention first…the loudest complaint, the biggest boo-boo, the nearest deadline, and sometimes the easiest fix…if I’m honest.

And sometimes, living in triage mode means that the most important stuff doesn’t get met…it isn’t a good place to live.

Believe me.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get out of it, but it appears to me right now that the only way is to walk through it…sometimes it seems like it’s getting darker rather than lighter though.

Darker?  I don’t want to do darker….bring on the spotlight!  Goodness, I’d take a flashlight…the little $1 one from Walmart.  Just a little light for the path again…

I’m tripping over angry, falling over frustrated, crashing into overwhelmed, and washing out over weariness.

Honestly, if I stub my toe one more time…

But what if…what if I’m called to something more than thriving or surviving?

What if I’m called to something not even in the same category?  Something radical?

Something like blessing?

What if my life is about blessing?

Blessing God….glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

How do I do that in this?

This messy life.  This life full of tumult and tears.  This sleepless, exhausting life.  This life full of endless to-dos, responsibilities, expectations, and needs.  This life…

This life full of children…noisy, scruffy, feisty children who I love desperately.

This life full of home…untidy, laundry-full, dishes-full, wonky-floored home that I’m ever so thankful for.

This life of work…stressful, endless demands, difficult situation work that provides for my family.

This life of finances…busted budgets, fearful feelings, and exorbitant expenses that God always seems to work through.

This life of family…missing, needing, and loving family.

This life of friends….missing, needing and loving friends too.

This life of busyness…frantic, never-ceasing activity that blesses my children with fellowship, encouragement, and strength.

This life…this life is full of blessings.  It’s how I look at them that seems to make the difference.  It’s what I pay attention to…lately, I’ve pretty much only paid attention to my troubles.

Even my blessings have often seemed like HUGE burdens more than anything else lately.  Ever felt that way?

No wonder I can’t get my head in the game.

No wonder I’m always feeling on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

I keep trying to do all this stuff in my own strength…as if to prove that I can.  Maybe to show myself worthy of…I don’t even know what.  Worthy of love? Worthy of admiration?  Just plain worthy?

Maybe I just want to be strong.  So often I feel so weak, but honestly if someone wanted to step in and “save” me from all this stress I’d take it.

Wait a minute…

There are some verses about that…

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.  Psalm 55:22

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

I have a Savior and He says to give it all to Him and the burden I get back is easy and light.

Oh my goodness!  How awesome does easy and light sound right now?!?

So practically speaking, how do I do easy and light when all heck seems to be breaking loose every other day in some area of my life…(wish I was exaggerating.)

All I can say is that I think it all has to do with my focus and my attitude.

If I can please remember that the Lord loves me and that HE DOES HAVE A PLAN in all of this and HE does want to help, provide, and care for me.

If I can please acknowledge with my attitude that Jesus is my Savior in all areas of my life.  He cares about everything.  He didn’t just check off the Savior box when He died on the cross.  He is the Savior of every second of my day.

Why can’t I live like I know that?  The gospel isn’t just for getting me into heaven…it’s for me every day.  It’s not just for life after death…it’s for life before death.  It’s for a life of thriving not just surviving (there I said it) not just hanging by a thread until heaven.

It’s a life of blessings because I have a big God and wonderful Savior.

Lord, show me how to live that way.  Show me how to step out of this triage mode into faith mode.  Please open my eyes to the blessings around me and help me to stop just focusing on what I see as the mess of my world.  Thank you Jesus for being the Savior of my soul and my situation.  I love you Lord.

Failure to Identify

IMG_3121Don’t you just LOVE it when God hits you right between the eyes with truth?

I’m not being sarcastic…truly.

The other night at my Bible study we were talking about finding our identity in Christ.

A topic I have explored often and tried to grasp continually.

I have spent the last several years pretty consistently reminding myself of who I am in Christ.

Apparently, I need A LOT of reminding.  I seem to always be forgetting…losing sight of it.

So our very dear leader gave each of us a visual about where we find our identity.  Listed around the edges were possibilities of things that we might find our identity in rather than Christ.

The usual…family, accomplishments, job, home, etc.

I looked at the options and realized I don’t find my identity in any of those things…I don’t want to.

But not for the good reason.

Rather because I feel like I’m failing in everything….all of them.

Every. Last. One.

It sunk in deeply.  All of sudden, I realized my struggle.

I realized why I simply can’t seem to get myself to a better place.  Why no matter how much I stick my face in scripture and pray…I’m still holding on to my false identity.

And then my sweet leader said that she struggled with finding her identity in her failures.

Failures?

Seriously, finding our identity in our failures?

Oh my goodness.  That’s me.

I have been wallowing in my real and perceived failures.

I look at myself as a failure…every day.

God looks at me as His dear daughter…every day.

Why can’t I grasp that?

I was so impacted by the lesson…I didn’t say a whole lot because I was trying to process what this all meant.  How was I going to change this identity crisis?

I was really excited when I got home.  I shared with my kids how the Bible study had so deeply impacted me.

And then…

Then I went upstairs to get little girls ready for bed…

And I lost my mind.

I was my feeling-like-a-failure, fussy, frustrated self.  I was impatient, unkind, irritated, and spoke words that I regret.  My tone was not kind.  My mood was not good.

How had I gone from convicted to crazy?

How had my heart-searching, mind-opening experience at Bible study worn off so fast?

I felt like even more of a failure.

If that was even possible.

Apparently, it was.

Oh Lord, why?  Why can’t I be better?

Then it hit me…well, it’s still hitting me.

I can’t be better without Him.

As long as I’m focusing on my own issues, I can’t find my identity in anything but me…and I’m a mess.

It is all about my righteousness…my ability to live right, to be right, to speak right, to act right, to know right.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to do any of those.  Maybe it is because when I say “right” I really mean “perfectly”.

I know I can’t be perfect.  I am oh so aware of that.

Why must I constantly set myself up for failure by assuming that I can be perfect?  It’s not like I really believe I can be.  I just want to be.  I expect myself to be.

I want to be the best mom for my kids.  I believe right now I’m barely passable as a mom.

I want to do my job well, inspire my students and have great relationships with my coworkers.  I’m so tired, overwhelmed, and disappointed that I find myself struggling to be a positive and encouraging person at work.

I want to be a good friend, daughter, and sister, but I don’t seem to have time to invest or bless.

I want to have a perfectly ordered home.  At this point I’d settle for not tripping over something everyday.

I long to have time to rest, write, read, and simply hang out and watch TV or play a game.  I barely have time to brush my teeth before I fall asleep at night.

I feel like my lack of time, lack of patience, lack of sleep, lack of joy in work, lack of fellowship, lack of order is all and completely my fault.

BUT when I take a step back…look at things from a different perspective.  I see that my expectations are ridiculous.

RIDICULOUS.

The other day someone said, “But you are single working mom…you remember that right?”

Yeah, how can I forget?

I am where God wants me.

How I wish he wanted me in a cabin somewhere…with a roaring fire, a good book, and some good friends surrounding me.

But that isn’t where I’m to be right now.

I’m to live here and now.

As is.

I’m to focus on life with Him…life as His daughter.  Life as the woman he has made me to be…not the woman I think I should be.

Even as I type that I wonder…but isn’t there a woman I should be…shouldn’t I aspire for more?

Yes…and no.

Yes, it is a good thing to aspire to be better…to live better.

No, not if it is my identity.

My identity rests securely in the fact that God has redeemed me…called me by name…I’m HIS (Isaiah 43:1).

Sometimes I look at this list I made a few years ago and remind myself again…who I am.

I am a new creation (Colossians 3:9-10); God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); loved (Ephesians 2:4, 1 Thessalonians 1:4); precious in God’s eyes, honored and loved (Isaiah 43:4); redeemed (Isaiah 43:1); Called by name (Isaiah 43:1); free from condemnation (Romans 8:2); forgiven (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 2:12); a child of God (1 Peter 1:23)  Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20), a friend of God (John 15:15), blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3); chosen (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 3:12); holy and beloved (Colossians 3:12, Ephesians 5:1); righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21); have a reason to be joyful, prayerful and thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18); filled with the Holy Spirit and all His fruit (Galatians 5:22); saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9); reconciled to God (Romans 5:6-11); more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37); free (John 8:36, Galatians 5:1 an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20); holy and blameless before Him (Colossians 1:22); called out of darkness into His glorious light (1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 1:13); an overcomer (Revelation 12:11); a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); the light of the world (Matthew 5:14); not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:39).  And even if I am afflicted in every way, I am not crushed; perplexed, I will not be driven to despair; persecuted, I will not be forsaken; struck down, I will not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).

Sometimes it helps to remind myself that I am so much more than I think I am.

I am not defined by my successes or my failures.

Say it again.

I am not defined by my failures.

I am not defined by what I accomplish, what I say, what I don’t say, how I parent, how I teach, how I take care of my home, how much I read or pray or study or speak or write, how many friends I have, how much time I spend doing anything or everything…I am defined ONLY BY HIM.

I think right now my favorite definition of me is precious.  That has been my favorite for a long time.

Maybe it is because I felt so “unprecious” when my husband left.  In his eyes I was not an excellent wife.

She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Proverbs 3:15

An excellent wife who can find.  She is far more precious than jewels. Proverbs 31:10

Maybe it is because I feel unworthy of being precious to anyone.

Not that God hasn’t put people in my life who treat me as precious.  He has.  Definitely.

Why do I feel so unworthy of being considered anything good?  Why does it feel like a sham?

…and yet God…

God says I am.

I am precious.

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.  Isaiah 43:4

Precious.

Honored.

Loved.

Those aren’t words that define a failure.

But they do define me.

Logically, that must mean I’m not a failure.

I am defined by who I am in Christ…not who I am in my mind.

Yet another area that I need to focus on Christ not myself.

I’m so thankful for the 2×4 of truth that God gave me the other night.  I’m so thankful that He never seems to tire of telling me again and again and again who I am…that I am His.

I’m so thankful that I am not defined by what or how I feel, but rather by who He is.

I am His.

I am precious.

I am all that He says I am.

 “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” Isaiah 61: 10

Changing Me

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What if something could change so that I wasn’t so very overwhelmed?

What would it be?

I’m not talking about the things that would make life easier like not having to work, having a nanny and a cook, or receiving a ton of money.  I’m talking about the realistic things.  The things that could actually happen.

Yesterday was one of those days when I wondered if I will ever get to a place where I don’t feel as though my head or my heart could explode at any minute.  My mind swirls and my heart pounds and I just want to get past it all.  I just want to get to a different place.  A peaceful place.

I don’t want to get rid of children, move (Ugh – no more moving!), or significantly change my life…I want to change myself.

I’m wondering if it is possible for me to change myself.  I mean really change myself.  I can make some changes to get healthier, set a better schedule, get organized, and make better choices in other areas…but can I really and truly change who I am?

My circumstances have impacted the woman I am.  After my husband left I became a more focused, peaceful woman even in the midst of the chaos that was my life.  Then I became a stressed-out single working mom.  I waffle between those two a lot.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve finally caught that perfect peace only to find that it has escaped my grasp again.  Once again I’m a jaw-clenching crazy woman .

This past weekend there was a difficult moment with one of my children (who will not be named).  I was angry, frustrated, and tired.  My middle son said, “Momma, your jaw is clenched.  You need to stop doing that.  It isn’t good for you.”

He was right.

It was clenched.

He is right.

It isn’t good for me.  Or anyone else in my vicinity.

It means I’ve let go of peace and grabbed hold of overwhelmed.

Why do I go there?  How do I not?  I honestly don’t know.  Well, I do know why I go there…I’m tired and for the life of me I can’t figure out how to get five things crossed off my to-do list before ten more things are added.

I keep saying, “This is the day!  This is the day I get all these things done!”

Inevitably, something comes up to ruin my plan.  Why, Lord?  Why can’t one day be SUPER productive?

Just. One. Day.

But there are other people in my mix…other people who have and need things…soccer practice, summer school, fitness training, job interviews, school preparations, dentists, doctors, chiropractors, ophthalmologists, house repairs, errands (I. Hate. Errands.), and enumerable other little things that disrupt my well-planned day.

But it really isn’t just about not getting things done.  It’s about me.  It’s about how I respond to disappointments and disappointing others.

Oh how I can’t stand to disappoint people…to let someone down…to make someone angry.  I know we would probably all like to avoid disappointing or angering others, but I wonder if this is way too big an issue for me.

Every dirty look from one of my teenagers makes my heart hurt.

I have friends who I have disappointed because I can’t find time to visit or I’m not doing things the way they think I should…and I hear their disappointment and frustration with me.  Sometimes I understand it, sometimes I don’t.  It almost makes me feel worse when I don’t.

I feel frantic to understand what I did wrong…because often I don’t even know.  I feel like I’m running in circles to please, take care of, and love on everyone…but it never seems to be enough.

And lately I feel like no matter how hard I try, I always have someone irritated, angry, or disappointed with me.

It’s exhausting.

People-pleasing is a bummer.

I want to be a God-pleaser.

I don’t want to worry about what other people think of me…and I don’t want to worry about other people leaving me…and I don’t want to worry about making everyone under the sun happy.

In the process of all that worry and work, I’m losing myself…wrecking myself.  Last night, I got all weird in the head and started worring that I might actually make myself pretty sick from all this craziness.

It can’t be good for my health…all this worry and anxiety.

So what is the thing or things that are going to change?  How am I going to become the woman of peace I want to be?

“He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.”  Isaiah 26:3-4

I come back to this verse a lot.  I believe God wants me to make it my life verse.

The Recipe for Peace:

A mind focused on Christ

Trust

A God who is my eternal Rock of refuge

A focused mind.  God continually reminds me that my eyes need to be fixed on Him.  How often I’m like Peter walking on the water…eyes on Jesus…then the lightening crashes and the thunder booms and a wave crashes over my toes and my eyes dart to the storm clouds…I look back to the boat and wonder how fast I can run back before I sink…

All the while, RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, is the answer to my fear…the answer to my need.

Jesus.

He is there.  His eyes never leave me.  He never turns His gaze away from me.

I doubt life will calm down anytime soon – if it does, that’d be awesome! – but, again, doubtful.

Looking to and at Him seems to be the answer to all the questions.

Me changing me?  Probably not going to happen without my focus changing from anxious, overwhelmed, fussy me looking at all the things and people in my life to calm, peaceful, content me looking at Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

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It All Depends on Where You Look

Recently I went on a walk through a beautiful park.  It was almost a spring day…chilly, but still warm enough to skip the jacket.  The trees were still bare, the flowers still asleep, and the air still a little crisp.

At one point, there was an overlook which provided a lovely view of the marsh and the river in the distance.  The contrast between the tall yellow grass of the marsh and the beautiful blue of the water beyond was stunnings.

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I loved the view.

But when I glanced down, I found that the view close up was rather unappealing.  It was muddy, dirty looking water full of  branches and old, wet grass.

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And it struck me that from this one vantage point there were two decidedly different views.  And how, in my life, there are definitely two views offered…two views ahead of me.

I can look at what is right before me and the view is kind of disappointing, definitely a bit muddy, and far from the view I was hoping to have.  While taking in the scenery of this view, I can only see the situations I find myself in…the difficulties, challenges, and disappointments.  I don’t seem able to see beyond the troubles of the day. And, oh boy, are there a lot of those I can see from this vantage point.

BUT, if I can lift my eyes, even just a bit, I can see beauty in the beyond.  Beyond my circumstances.  Beyond my setbacks.  Beyond my troubles.  Beyond my exhaustion.  Beyond my disappointments.

It, apparently, is the lesson of my life.  The lesson I must continually learn.

If my view is only of my circumstances, they will overwhelm me.

If my view is of my Savior, He will overwhelm me.

I guess I have to decide what I want to be overwhelmed by…been saying this forever.  When am I going to get my rear in gear and live as I know I should?

Part of the problem is that I make choices that aren’t great.  I’m not talking about decisions…all those life decision I need to make…I’m talking about choices each day.

I choose to worry when I just need to wait.

I choose fear over faith.

I choose to seek comfort apart from God.

I choose to disobey, when I need to (I must) obey.

I choose to question instead of trust.

I choose the struggle instead of the peace.

I choose it all instead of Jesus.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:13-17

I choose the things of this world…the things right in front of me…and somehow expect them to heal my broken heart, to fill the empty spaces, to comfort me completely.

They don’t.

Nothing does, but Jesus.

I’ve said it before, but in some ways, I almost want to go back to the place when everything fell apart.  When everything was truly out of my hands…when all I could do was rely on God.

Since then I’ve been under the false impression that there are things in my control…that somethings need me…that I can rely on myself…good golly!  That is so not true.

I no longer want to be in control of my life…it’s too stressful.  I want to let God have it all…so why don’t I?

Because for some silly reason I continually think this little thing…this thing before me…this one thing I can handle.  I can handle this thing.  No worries.

Thanks God…but I got this.

Ahhhh…why do I insist on this silly way of living?

Does anyone else have this struggle?  This insistence on self-reliance?

How do we win against it?

What’s the secret?

Focus.

Focus? Is it really that simple?

Simple….might not be the best word to use to describe anything in our lives.  At least in mine.

Even focus is not simple.  I’m a mess of focuses…kids, house, meals, schoolwork, classwork, homework, work work, teenagers, college student, college admission process, church, health, sleep, family, friends, car, stuff, and stuff, and stuff…

I just want to focus on Jesus alone, but all the other things in life seem to edge into my vision.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2

It sometimes feels that I can’t really get my focus on Him alone because there is just so much to do…how in the world do I do it?

Maybe the problem isn’t the focus point (Jesus) as much as what I think focusing means…what does focusing look like?

I usually envision it as something akin to prayer on my knees, Bible study, and time spent fellowshipping with others.

That can’t be what focusing on Christ means because I can’t stop everything else in my life to do that and that alone.  We would be the most ragamuffin family ever…not to mention we’d probably starve!

Alright, so what does it look like?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:4 came to mind:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

It made sense to me that that would be a way to focus – rejoicing, praying, thanking.

If I’m rejoicing, I must be focusing on Christ, who is my Savior.

If I’m praying, I must be focusing on Jesus, who is working in my life.

If I’m thanking, I must be focusing on Jesus, the source of all things in my life.

It just makes sense.

So maybe in some ways it is simple.  It is simply living my life with my mind focused on who Christ is, what He has done and continues to do, and thanking Him for it all!

Good golly!  We are brought back again to the Gospel!

If our focus is on Christ, we cannot miss the gospel and its impact on our lives.  We cannot lose our focus, because our lives are so covered by the gospel of grace.

Each day begins with the knowledge that I am saved, that I am blessed with another day to serve, that I am loved beyond measure, that I am forgiven, that I am precious to my God.

Each day continues with the sustaining strength of the Holy Spirit working in and through me to bless others.  If I am praying and thanking Him throughout the day, I find myself more aware of how and where He is working.  My focus is on what He is doing through me, rather than what I am doing for me.

Each day is covered with the grace of God…how can I begin to thank Him for that?  How often do I just want to crawl into a corner and weep for my sinfulness?  For the way I spoke to my child, the facial expressions I used, the anger I showed, for the thoughts I had that were unkind, the muttering and complaining that spilled from my mouth, the temptations I gave in to, the judgment, pride, and arrogance that invades my heart sometimes…oh Lord, how is it possible you love me so much?  I’m so very unloveable.

And yet, I AM so very loved.

Crazy.

Unexpected.

Amazing.

The view I’m taking right now…and I pray it will continue into the next 5 minutes…even into the next day!

Is the view of Jesus my Savior.

Jesus, who is my life.

Jesus, who is my peace.

Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of my faith.

Jesus.

Day 3 – All About Me

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How is it possible we have another snow day?  Not that I’m complaining, but I kind of would like a summer break!  And I feel like we are getting farther and farther behind at school…which, of course, we are.

I do see this as God’s provision for me.  I have caught up on my teacher certification classes, caught up on my planning, and caught up on some sleep!  Catching up is a beautiful thing!

And as an added benefit I’ve been blessed to write…and more importantly, get my face in the Word!

Today I plan on making appointments…pediatricians, dentists, veterinarians, optometrists, and hair.  I dread some of these appointments, especially the dentist.

I have a friend who can feed her children Laffy Taffy and nothing else, never brush their teeth, definitely not floss, and still nary a cavity will appear.

My children have only to utter the words “gummy bears” and cavities dig deep, root canals are requested, and crowns are ordered.

It is a source of frustration and embarrassment for me. I dread going because dentists tend to look at me like a failure.  I don’t even want to write the comments that are directed my way.  Even that’s too embarrassing.

It is one of the things that just gets to me.  A hundred huge things could be happening in my life, but the stress and dread of visiting the dentist will swallow up all others.  It can be the thing that truly knocks me down.

It’s kind of a ridiculous one – at least in relation to all the other things that have happened and are happening in my life.  I mean really…the dentist?

And in thinking about it, I realized that a large portion of my angst is because I’m thinking about ME.  Me. My. Myself. I.

Ouch.  That’s embarrassing too.

So much of my struggles are in my head and about me.  My thoughts go to unhealthy, critical, negative, harsh places about me.

If I allow myself to go to those places – which I have A LOT in the past several months – I’m a mess.

I’m impatient because things aren’t going my way.  I’m frustrated because things are so difficult for me and my children.  I’m tired of all the things I have to do.  I’m angry about the situations I find myself in. I’m saddened by the circumstances of my children’s lives.

And when I go to all those “I” places, I’m grumpy, miserable, and no fun to be around (at all).

It isn’t that I’m not thinking about others, especially my children.  It isn’t that I’m not doing for others.  It isn’t that I’m too busy in my own world to care about others.

I’m a great multi-tasker!  I can beat myself up, mentally complain about my situation, AND love and care for a multitude of others.

I just excel at the beat-myself-up part which makes the others part not as effective (or enjoyable for anyone).

Ok I know the problem – what’s the solution?

Immediately this verse from Isaiah popped into my head –

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.  Isaiah 26:3-4

It’s one of my verses – the ones that I cling to when I need encouragement.  Unfortunately, I’m searching for peace of mind in what I do, what I accomplish, what my circumstances are, in what I think…  needless to say, I’m not getting it from any of those things.  My mind is a hot mess.

It is a constant struggle to stay my mind on Christ…so much vies for my attention, my focus.  Maybe that’s the whole “take your thoughts captive” thing.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”  2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Isn’t that what we need to do…get rid of all those thoughts that are not the truth of who we are in Christ?

I’m not what happens in my life…I’m not my circumstances, my job, my children, my house, my anything.

I’m so much more than those things…so much more than anything I’ve been concerning myself with lately.

This world places our value in so many untruths.  We are counted worthy of esteem because of our looks, profession, finances, friendships…pretty much outward anything and everything…BUT GOD, he values us simply because we are His.  Nothing I’ve done…everything He has done.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

Lately I’ve been comforting myself with the thought that if I could just get more sleep, just sell my house and have my own home again, if we just weren’t guests, if I could just figure out next year, if I could find time to do all that I have to do…you know, if pretty much everything could just change and get fixed already…I’d be better.  Things would be better, life would be easier, I’d be calm, cool, and collected.  I’d be better at everything!  I’d have peace.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:13

There’s the hope I should have…the true hope.

Maybe when I set my mind on Christ…I’m setting my mind on the hope of Christ…all that beautiful grace that will bring me safely into His arms!  And my mind, stayed on Christ, can’t help but love the Lord with all that I am.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.”  Matthew 22:37-38

I’m not sure how I’ve come to this place in this blog…I’ll have to go back to the start and see the path I’ve taken LOL!  I have to be honest though – I’m so very thankful for the reminder of where my thoughts need to be…I’m hopeful for my future, both for this day and for eternity.  God is so very good!

Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!  Psalm 139:24

flowers and sky

No Pretty Little Bow

I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to start this post. I just can’t think of one. So I guess I’ll just share stuff with you and hope that God uses my fuzzy thinking to bless! He’s good that way.
Yesterday my Dad went to be with the Lord.  I was blessed to spend his last hours with him and my Mom.  It was more difficult than I can adequately express in mere words.  I wanted nothing more than to comfort my father as he struggled and yet I was terrified to watch him die.  I wanted to be there for my Mom, but I didn’t really know what to do.  I felt lost in wanting to be both caregiver and cared for.  But in the midst of it all, God was so clearly there.  I felt His presence…His assurance in my confusion and fear.  I felt His peace even as I struggled to maintain composure…which I did not do well at all in the end. 

Today I opened up my email to see that a post I had written for MomLifeToday was up.  I’ve attached it because this one probably isn’t gonna be so great and maybe that one will bless more 🙂  I often have to reread what I write because I can’t remember it well…honestly, I can’t remember much well at this point…my family has been laughing at me for the past couple of days because I’m such a goof.  Anyway, I digress.  I reread what I had written in my post “No Pretty Little Bow” and God so sweetly reminded me through my own words that He can be trusted. 

See there are a lot of things I wish I could have done differently this past week.  There are a lot of things I don’t understand.  And sometimes I can be a self-beater-upper.  But if I truly believe that I can trust God with everything, why do I have to play Monday morning quarterback with everything?  I can second-guess with the best of them…my friend says I need to stop “shoulding” all over myself…ain’t that the truth. 

Today I’m reminding myself that God can be trusted.  God does love me.  There is nothing more I can do because He has done it all.  I need only rest in the knowledge that my life is in His hands…my father’s life was in His hands…my children’s lives are in His hands. 

He will guide my footsteps.  Sometimes we will go places I’d rather not, but if I keep my focus on Him it’ll all turn out just fine in the end.  It has to…that’s His plan and His plan is always perfect.

Snoozing Times Four

Get Up

Today I pushed snooze 4 times and then took a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.  I woke with a throbbing headache.  Not a stellar day…

On top of that I’ve been trying to give up my coca-cola addiction and I completely fell off the bandwagon.  Ugh. 

Although I do have to say, I completely enjoyed my ice cold Coke!  Yummy!

I think life is catching up with me.  I’m soooo tired…even the caffeine from my soda fix did not relieve the exhaustion! Or the headache.

Sometimes thoughts can cause so much pressure in my head.  I believe that is the source of my headache…too many thoughts.

I’ve often said that I overthink things…I don’t believe I’m overthinking at this point.  I think there are too many thoughts in my head to overthink them…I can’t even begin to address them all. 
How do I effectively deal with all I need to deal with when my head is in such tumult?

The verse that has come to mind most often lately is:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD God is an everlasting rock.  Isaiah 26:3-4

I just love these verses!  Perfect peace – how could I not want that? 

Perfect?  I can’t even wrap my brain around that…one of my favorite verses is:

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.  Proverbs 19:23

I do not believe that God is saying that we will have a life without trouble because He tells us in John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I do believe that regardless of the trouble we encounter in our lives, we will be untouched at our core. I will have peace because I trust Him despite and through the storm.

We will have a life of peace…perfect peace…despite the trouble because we have the Lord. 

If my focus is on Jesus not my circumstances my life is so much better.  If my mind is stayed on Him I am not overwhelmed by difficulties. 

It reminds me of Peter walking on the water…as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus he was actually walking on the water.  It was only when he took his eyes away and looked at the waves that he began to sink. 

I want to keep my mind stayed on Jesus.  I want to keep my focus on Him mentally, emotionally and spiritually with a laser-like focus…I want to settle down and be with Him.  I want to reside in His presence not just visit for a moment.  I want to dwell with Him. 

With Him, is peace.  With Him, is rest.  With Him, is hope for today and hope for tomorrow.

My hope for tomorrow is that I don’t hit that blasted snooze button so many times and that it is a headache-free day! 

But I’m choosing to focus on Him anyway so snooze or no snooze, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

My Peace Symbol

fish symbol for car

Peace.

That peace symbol is all over the place.  I see it on everything.  It’s difficult to avoid sometimes.  I don’t particularly care for it to be honest.  It doesn’t really speak peace to me.

It reminds me more of a time when there wasn’t peace…when people stood less for true peace and more for fake peace.  

I’m looking for the real deal.  I want Jesus peace.

Lately I’ve had a lot of people ask is there any relief from all the emotions and feelings of adultery, abandonment and divorce.  My answer is yes.  Yes. 

But what I’m finding is that peace in a sense is something I have to fight for…I have to choose.  

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Sometimes I feel more like a whirling dervish (what is a whirling dervish anyway?)  I feel all twisted up in knots and a bit frantic inside. 

The most difficult part is the way I feel.  I feel deep sorrow at times.  Sorrow that I can’t change what has happened or its effects, especially on my children.  And when those crushing feelings come crashing in…maybe I should say, crushing in…I just want to run away.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure all those blasted feelings would run with me.  I’m not a terribly fast runner so I’m sure they’d catch up even if I had a head start. 

From the beginning of this nightmare, I’ve wanted to escape the emotional component.  I didn’t want to feel what I was feeling…the sorrow was so intense.  Betrayal is brutal.  Now I think I struggle more with a profound sadness at the loss of what I thought would never be lost and the injustice of the whole situation.  And believe me there is a fair amount of injustice.

And yet, I’m reminded of my Savior.  His willingness to suffer injustice for me.  To feel intense sorrow for me.  To know betrayal for me.  To allow Himself to be punished for me.  To turn the other cheek and forgive for me.  What He suffered for me…I can’t even grasp it.

In no way am I attempting to compare my suffering with Christ’s – there is no comparison.  I just take great comfort in knowing that He understands all that I feel.  He gets me.

I want to be Christ-like, but dang it, sometimes I just really want to kick something. 

Kicking things is bad.

That’s when I need peace…when I gotta seek peace and pursue it.  Find it and grab it.

I keep being brought back again and again to Philippians 4:6-7.  Do not be anxious about anything (my children, my future, my situation with my ex…life) but in everything (no matter how wonderful or absolutely NOT wonderful) through prayer and petition (on my knees, on my face, in the car, in the shower, at the kitchen sink…) with thanksgiving (for everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly) present your requests to God (all of ‘em).  And the peace of God (which comes from Him and only Him), which surpasses all understanding (it makes no sense to have peace when life is so complicated and challenging), will guard your hearts (all those funky emotions) and your minds (all those crazy thoughts) in Christ Jesus (as always, anything good that happens in life is from Jesus).

That peace I long for…it’s available.  It’s God’s peace in Christ Jesus.  And it comes when I focus on Him.

You keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

My mind stayed.  I looked up “stayed” in my thesaurus.  Similar words were:  resided, settled, lodged, dwelled, stopped, abided, inhabited, have your home.  And my favorite was “to stand firm” 

Recently I spoke at the MomLife Bootcamp about dressing like a warrior.  I focused on Ephesians 6:10-20.  I LOVE those verses. 

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:13-15 (ESV)</p>

 I think those verses fit perfectly with my mind stayed on Christ.  The Amplified Bible says, “to stand (firmly in your place). Stand therefore (hold your ground).”  I envision it as planting my feet and being unwilling to move.  I want to plant my gaze firmly on Christ and not let it waver from Him.  That’s peace. 

It’s like Peter walking on the water during the storm.  As long as his gaze was fixed on Jesus, he actually walked on the water!  How cool is that! But as soon as he looked at the swirling waves he began sinking.  I’m the same way…if I focus on my circumstances they overwhelm me.  I want to focus on Christ so that He overwhelms me with His love and peace! Ahhh…the peace which passes all understanding…even in the midst of storms and trials.  He is so good to give it.

Maybe I need to figure out my own peace symbol.  Maybe that cool ancient fish symbol. (You know that one we stick to our cars and hope nobody notices when we drive like crazy people.)  I think that works.  When I see it maybe I’ll take a breath, say a prayer, thank my Savior, and let His peace wash all over me.  Sounds like a really good plan. 

Ranting and Resting

Dear Friends,

I really want to share the following blog with you all not because it is so well-written or anything, but because I believe that it’s where so many of us, particularly single parents, find ourselves sometimes.  It isn’t pretty at first, but God, as usual, used my time typing on these keys to get my head properly in the “game.”  I was having a big old pity-party and God showed me how to praise my way through it.  If you are a friend or family member, fear not!  I’m just sharing my fussy little heart and hopefully touching someone else’s fussy little heart too!  I’m in awe of God and His faithfulness to stick with me and even light my way out of the darkness.  He is good!  He will do the same for you!

So here goes.

I’m falling apart…again.

Tonight has been a down on my knees, weep and beg God for help kinda night.

Sometimes the sheer weight of this life is too much.  The pain is raw all over again.  The hopelessness washes over me and I think there is no way I’ll survive.  And there’s a good chance one or more of my children aren’t going to survive either at the rate I’m going.

There are too many issues.  I’ve said it again and again.  I feel like a broken record.  I list them all in my head and I can barely breathe… and part of me becomes exceedingly frustrated with God.  I don’t understand why nothing can be easy.  I just don’t.  No straight forward anything…just shadows, gut-feelings, questions, concerns, angst and some pretty obvious prayer requests.

I can’t seem to stop my own issues from resurfacing.   My issues make me a lousy parent…an impatient, frustrated, teeth-clenching parent.  And when I parent like that, I get impatient, frustrated, teeth-clenching children.  Not surprising.

I want a “not-complicated” existence, or maybe just one complication or maybe even just one complication at a time.  I want to be able to take a breath – one good long deep breath.

Tonight I ranted a lot in my prayer.  I told God exactly what I thought about the situation I had found myself in as well as the life I find myself living.  I told Him in no uncertain terms that I am not happy…in fact, I used the word “hate” a few times.   Not that I hate Him, because nothing could be farther from the truth.  I sometimes feel like I just hate so much of my life circumstances.

This single momma thing is HARD!  It’s exhausting…I need to make up a word that conveys the magnitude of the mental, physical, emotional, and even spiritual exhaustion.  I can’t think of one.

I realize that I’m focusing on the negative an awful lot.  My focus is all off.  I know I’m so overwhelmed because I’ve lost sight of Jesus.

I’ve been focusing on the behavior of my children, my fears for them, learning issues, school issues, anger issues, work issues, relationship issues, church issues, financial issues, and health issues.   I’m burdened by issues.   I don’t want to be weary and burdened.

Those words bring a verse to mind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls. 

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:29-30)

Oh please give me rest for my soul! 

If I could remember to focus on what He’s done rather than what I do or don’t do.

If I could remember that He’s the perfect parent in answer to my very imperfect parenting.

If I could rest in the understanding that He will never leave me nor forsake me – and that that promise is absolutely for my children as well.

If I could really get that God is for me,

that my life’s battles are the Lord’s,

that He will not call me to something He will not equip me to do,

that His grace is sufficient.

If I could understand that it truly is all about Jesus, I believe I would have that rest for my soul.

It’s mine for the taking…my arms are just so full of my own stuff that I don’t have the strength or space to take on anymore.

I believe that is why God calls us to take His yoke because when I take His, I gotta put mine down.

And, I’m thinking He’s gonna carry it all anyway…in fact, in the biggest way imaginable, He already did.  He carried it all the way to the cross.

It’s not me being better at anything – thank goodness!  It isn’t my children being better at anything – again, thank goodness!  It’s about God being best at everything – about God being my focus, my strength, my Savior.  He saves me every day.  Over and over again, I’m reminded that I need a Savior and over and over again I’m grateful for His sacrificial, unconditional, everlasting love for me.

I feel better just thinking about Him.  I’ve spent the majority of my time these last several days thinking about my issues rather than my Savior.  And although I’m thankful it brought me to my knees, I’d prefer to be on my knees praising rather than ranting.

So here is some praising!!

Father God, I’m so very thankful for my sweet children.  Thank you for the joy I find in being a mom – even a stressed out, overwhelmed, exhausted single mom.  Thank you for my life – for hope for the future, for joy in small moments, for peace that truly does surpass all understanding.  Thank you for loving me even when I’m clenching my jaw and slamming doors.  Father, please forgive me for losing sight of you.  Lord, please set my feet upon a rock, make my steps secure, and put a new song in my mouth – a song of praise to you Lord! (Psalm 40:2-3)  I pray that my life will bless others, my hope will encourage, and my mouth will praise!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Single Parenting by THE BOOK

Recently a sweet friend gave me a parenting book.  Thankfully I’m at a good place to receive it…I know I’m in over my head!  Single parenting five children is daunting, difficult, and downright exhausting.   There was a time when I’d have been appalled that someone thought I might need any professional assistance with my parenting.  Not anymore.

Help!!

It’s a good book – well-written, thoughtful, and scripturally based.  I’m sure it will inspire me, and hopefully help me become a better mom…I could sure use some inspiration and help.  The bigger issue might be finding time to read it.  There are, after all, a pile of books beside my bed waiting to be read.  Books on grace, books on prayer, books on everything from A to Z that might possibly help me live this life better.  Unfortunately every night I’m completely exhausted and unable to read more than a page without my eyes crossing.

The other day as I climbed into bed with my new parenting book, I happened to look over at my bookcase.  There, stacked nicely all together, were all my previously read parenting books.  I climbed out of bed, walked over and knelt down beside my bookcase.   I counted 10 books on parenting.  Ten!  Apparently I’ve been looking for help for quite a while!  Or else someone’s sneaking them onto my bookshelf in hopes that I’ll pick them up and read them and possibly apply what I learn effectively.

There was a time when I decided that parenting books were all well and good, but I was determined to simply study the Bible and pray diligently. I don’t think that was necessarily bad.  I’m sitting here remembering back to my first two years after my husband left.  There was absolutely never time to read a parenting book, any “free” time I had I tried to devote to Bible study and prayer.  I knew where my help and comfort was coming from – my help came from the Lord!!

Life was stressful.  Days were full and overwhelming.  My children ranged in ages from toddler to teen.  And there was only one parent to figure everything out.  I’m remembering how faithful God was to lead me.  How gracious He was to guide my parenting, to aid my decision-making, and to refresh me each morning.

I had forgotten. I remember how difficult it was, but I tend to forget how precious so much of that time was.  My kids and I were closer than ever, our conversations sweeter, our time spent more wisely, our issues less pronounced.  I believe that it was because I was praying fervently every night.  I was passionate in my approach to staying within God’s will.  I have lost that passion recently.  I don’t think I’m terribly passionate about anything anymore…just tired.

I think I will indeed finish the book my friend gave me, and I will apply any good principles, or at least try to.  But I think I most definitely will try to get back to my time with the Lord and my passion for Him more.  I think I will not just think about praying, I actually will.  I know it isn’t going to be easy…but now that I remember what it was like to do this life with my focus on Christ, I really want that again.  It was a blessed time.

Maybe someday I can write the parenting book on how to parent without a book.  Well, actually how to parent with THE BOOK.