Monday, February 13, 2017

He gave me Flowers

Valentine's Day (was not my day...)

I often feel Valentine's Day is not a holiday for me.  No I do not want pity, it has been a choice, most of the time.  Full disclosure, I have never liked Valentine's.  I didn't like the little boxes in school.  (Yes you had to get a card for everyone, but there were always the good cards, and the dumb cards in a box and it was obvious that it was a who's who when you got home), and in all honestly who really liked those hearts that tasted like chalk, or the suckers that had the white words that dyed you lips?

I say again, don't be sad for me, but I have never received flowers, gone out on a date, or in anyway celebrated this "holiday" with someone that I loved, or loved me.  Yes, this sounds awful to most people that have not experienced this, and to be honest many years it felt awful to me too.  It wasn't that I spent my childhood dreaming of being alone, but I also never thought of that beautiful day that I would get married.  I spent a lot of my life just wanting to have great friends, and make others happy.  I didn't plan that I would be alone it's just was how it worked for me, and it has worked for me.

Now at forty something I am really good at being alone.  I don't "need a man"....yes I have said this a million times. I say this often when I am told "You will meet the right man", "he will come along when you least expect it", "you will find a man now that you are in church", "there is someone for everyone".

I look at Facebook at couples and families that hang out together as groups, and in all honesty my heart longs a little for that life. There have been a lot of times when I just stand back and look at couples thinking to myself  "I have no idea how to love someone" (I think that word may come after Trust in the dictionary, not before).  Being single is not the worst thing, but it is an odd place sometimes to be that person that really doesn't fit into that world you see around you.

Even in church it is weird for a lot of people to understand that I am alone, not divorced, no kids, no past secrets, nothing "wrong" with me that make me that single person in their forties.  It is actually even hard to talk to single men as people see it as "they would make a cute couple", or worse "we should set them up". Maybe we just want to talk, brothers and sister's in Christ talking about our love for Jesus.

If you say "I'm not looking" that seems to be where they put in "that's when you find love". (This works for things I have put in the wrong place, I can't find them when I need them but when I am looking for something else that is when that sock shows up...or the missing earring...Not a significant other.  I don't think I will be looking for a sock and find my soul mate...pun intended)

So here is the crazy thing this year...I finally have a man in my life!  I know this sounds odd coming out of my mouth, but seriously I have never felt more loved than I do right now. I know many of you are shocked by this news, but those close to me are very excited!

He has been watching me from afar for a very long time, he just stood back and watched me.  (Sounds a little creepy, but he was very quiet so I didn't feel afraid of him.) He knew that I would call when I was ready because I knew of him, I just wasn't ready to commit. He waited up night after night just waiting for me to call, but he was not going to push me (he knows I had to make the call).
                  Psalm 17:6 "I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer" NIV

I called him for the first time about three years ago.  He started coming around,and I liked our short conversations, we talked day and night.  He was so content he would just listen, and believe me I can go on and on, but he just listened.  It was not easy at first for me, I did not trust him, he didn't say much.  I would hear his words in a song he would play for me,or his voice when I read his book.  I kept things pretty simple at first.  I just reviewed my day, told him about my friends, and the things I saw they needed, and sometime I just sat there.

Psalm 19:14 "May these words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord my Rock and my Redeemer" NIV

I started to open up to him and he continued to listen, I told him I was afraid of being judged.  He didn't walk away or judge me on my past, he told me that no matter what he would not leave me. I could do nothing to make him love me anymore, or any less.  He loved me completely and said I was his.

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you: he will never leave you nor forsake you" NIV

Even though he knows my every thought he continues to enjoy hearing my voice. He know just the right words many days to calm my heart. There are days that I get busy and I forget to check in. I start to worry that he may be upset with me, but as soon as I call him he is so excited to hear my voice and hear about my day.

   Jeremiah 33:3 "Call on me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you did not know" NIV

Soon we started talking more and more throughout the day.  I would find myself at my desk just thinking about him, and focusing on him when I was feeling alone. I started to trust him more and more.  I would go to his house, and I met many members of his family. They welcomed me, and couldn't say enough about how much he loved me!  They told me he had a son that he sent ahead to show me the way to his house, a son that he loved so much that he let him take my sin away, his son died for me.  His son even went home to prepare a place for me at his table, and a room in his house.  I am so excited to sit at his table with my family and know that I am invited, I fit in, and I can come without a date!

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." NIV

John 14:2 "'My father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?'" NIV

Tomorrow we are going to read together, and talk, my heart is overwhelmed!  He created me flowers, made me chocolate hearts, and loves me forever! He gave me the ultimate gift, his heart bled for me and he saved me!

So as I look at this "holiday" this year I am excited to announce that I have a date!  
We all have a date, we just need to call and give him our heart. 

As the little red button said..."I Am Loved"  and so are you! 

I may be single but I am sure not alone! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Feeling Puzzled

I use to love being in the 50 piece puzzle, I thought I fit so well.  I was so comfortable. All of the other pieces knew me, and I could just blend in.  I also knew how to stand out, and felt in my heart that the little puzzle needed me to be complete. This little puzzle of 50 was safe. 

One day I started to feel like my piece of the puzzle didn’t seem to feel right anymore. I was starting to change my shape a bit, and the other pieces were a little frustrated with me.  The other pieces seemed to think that I would always want to be in the box of 50, it was good, it was stable, I should just keep the rest of the puzzle happy.  The other pieces told me if I am not happy and shiny the whole puzzle would fall apart!

I tried for a long time to continue to do my part and be a part of this puzzle.  I started to hurt on the inside because I wasn’t allowed to grow on the outside.  I wanted to change, but what would this puzzle do without me, who would I be if not this puzzle piece?  This puzzle needed me! 

Then one day as my part of the picture started to get really dark I cried.  I cried out to the keeper of the puzzle, the one that had first put me in this little puzzle to grow, the maker of the puzzle that knew every piece and why it was there.

Jeremiah 33:3
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know’ (NIV)

 I knew he was just on the side of the room, waiting for me to call out. It was strange, I called out and a light came on in the room! The light of the Holy Spirit was right there waiting for me to call, God was right there with me! I realized that he is the creator of the puzzle, not me.  He knew I had to let go of the little picture I controlled and trust him with a far more amazing puzzle.  He was there right when I called out.

Romans 12:2 
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will." (NIV)

He picked me up and held me up to the light.  He knew that I needed to be put in a much bigger puzzle, that I was ready to change my shape.  He knew that I had some parts that needed to be glued back together, and some that needed to be removed.  He knew that there were pieces of me that I couldn’t let go of, pieces that hurt, and pieces I felt bad for having, he knew what to do with those pieces too.
1 John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

This new puzzle has so many more pieces and colors. In this new puzzle I don’t always “fit” so well, but if I tell the other pieces that "I am afraid", " I will never fit." they shift a little to help me, they show me that I do belong to the big picture. They have taught me that I don't always have to be on the edge holding it together, I can let them surround me.

I want to be in this much more complex puzzle, I want to study the Bible as the truth.  The directions to this puzzle are in the pages. I want to let the puzzle maker love me, even when I don’t know how to love myself. I want to let others know that this puzzle is life changing!

This new puzzle is so much easier to see, as it is in a room with the light flowing into it.  The reflection of the light makes this puzzle so much easier for others to see too.  There is so much room left in this puzzle and the number on the box isn’t just 50. This puzzle seems far more complicated but the picture it is creating, and the finished product are going to be worth more than we can imagine.

I know I won’t always “fit” exactly where I think I should, but I belong in this puzzle. There is so much light on this puzzle and every day new pieces are being added to the puzzle.  This puzzle is where I am challenged to not “fit” so comfortably, to let God change me, to continue to grow, and work with all of the other pieces. To make room and shine so others come to the creator of the puzzle. God will not force you to fit into this puzzle but he will welcome you in as soon as you cry out. 

I know that when the puzzle is ready it will be and amazing day! There will be a room for every piece of this puzzle!
John 14:2
"'My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?'" (NIV)

Friday, January 13, 2017

I have a monster....

Do you have a monster?

I remember vividly as a child, my parents were out of town and I had to stay in my brothers room, as my oldest sister was watching us.  I am not sure how old I was, but I remember seeing a monster by the door.  I remember how my breathing changed and I was afraid to move.  I am not sure how long I laid there afraid, but at some point I cried out to my sister. She came in the room and turned on the light...that light instantly wiped away the monster.  The monster was a chair with a shirt on it by the door.  It took just a little courage to call out to her and a ray of light to show me the monster wasn't real.

There are so many monsters in the world today, from the little ones under the bed, to the horrible leaders of ISIS and much worse.  There are mentally ill people that for no reason other than lack of mental health care and radical followers of ISIS and other terrorist organizations that kill innocent people for no reason at all.

My monster has followed me for many years.  I don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't aware of this monster in my heart and in my mind.  It was no longer the chair in the corner or any person that treated me poorly, it was a word.  A word that SJ asked me to define a few months ago, a word I had no idea how to use, or how to acknowledge.  I was so afraid of this word that I would not let it cross my lips.

Up to that point I had felt a strong pull to a verse, even went as far as to call in my "life verse" but once he asked me the question I felt like a fraud.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

Do you see the word?  Trust!  That is my monster, that is the thorn in my flesh.  Paul had a thorn that was never explained. As I have studied this and heard speculation I don't know what it is but I bet his thorn was a lot like my monster.

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

SJ had been sending me home with questions, many I won't mention but one week was;

     "Who has God put in your life along your path to walk with you and keep you safe?" That was a pretty easy one, I have had some amazing teachers, friends, and family members that loved me even when I didn't love myself.  They walked beside me in silence even when I thought I was all alone, they prayed for me even when I didn't think I needed/deserved prayer.  I had over a page of names, God had really blessed me before I even accepted him as my Savior. He knew that each of the people would continue to plant truth in my heart.  Some would be just the quick smile from a stranger, and some are and continue to be longer than forever friends.

The next week he struck a cord.  After many sessions he could see me like only a child of God could see another child's heart.  He told me once that the Jesus in him saw the Jesus in me, kind of weird to me to be honest, but WOW.  So not only could he see the light in me, he could see the monster.  He was led to ask me a question that I would not have wanted to come from anyone else. (I am not kidding there have been many questions that I know SJ was relaying straight from God)

He asked me "What has God done in your life to show he is trustworthy?"

That sure seems like an easy question, He gave his only Son, he died on the cross, he forgives me, listens to my prayers ... the list could go on but the monster is there, Trust. I was at a loss for answers and words (shocking I know), I had nothing to even start with.

So step one in my trying to understand was to find the to Google, Mister Webster would know!


Noun"belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc
1)a: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength and truth of someone in which confidence is placed.

This next use of the word was the kicker that explained a lot about this monster to me:

 =Social Context: A situation characterized by One Party (trustor) is willing to rely on the actions of another party (trustee) on a situation directed towards the future.  The trustor abandons control  over the actions performed by the trustee!
OK not in my comfort zone! I could, and would, always take care of myself. If someone drops the ball I will pick it up.  If someone doesn't do there job to my standards, I will just do it for them, (my prideful nature = so it gets done correctly). In my past if a date wanted to open a door for me I would slip ahead, as I am fully capable of opening a door! I really don't even like to ride in cars with others because I don't trust them, it makes my blood pressure rise just thinking of giving them the wheel.

 I am a caregiver, I love to give presents and love to those in need...but I am so uncomfortable if someone wants to do that for me.  If I give them my heart that means I have to trust them with it.  I have to trust them not to walk away, think of me as weak, or the worst of all die.  I have to take care of me because in the end I felt I would be alone (yes too many deaths to count = serious survival preparation).

What I see most in these last two paragraphs is a person that does not trust anyone, and sadly has herself on a pedestal of perfection. A person that believes that she is the reason people are happy, sad, or taken care of.  A child of God that does not even trust her own Father to take care of others as she does. A sinful person, that is unable to believe the truth.

I have read through the Bible a few times, started to memorize verses, and believe me I have seen "Trust in the Lord" many time in many places....I want to Trust, I pray for that monster to leave, I pray that the day will come when I can completely trust people with my heart (a big reason I have never had a true relationship). I know in my heart I will never trust anyone until I can hand that monster to God completely, and TRUST God with every part of my being.

Full disclosure, I have come a long way in the last two years (and even since just looking up the word Trust).  When I drive in bad weather I hand it to God, when I am watching a friend hurt I hand it to God, when I watched the election process believe me I handed it to God.  It is getting easier to hand him the majority of my anxieties over outside factors, but to hand him my heart 100% is still a Monster that loves to put me in the dark. (Triggers are real, but I am identifying them also)

I am going to continue to study the word, repeat the verses (over and over in my head, a little obsessively), pray scripture over my heart. I AM going to continue to turn HIS Light On, and know deep in my heart that He loves me so much that he is going to continue to shine on this monster. Slowly I put TRUST on my heart (and in every prayer), I am going to let God continue to flip on the light switch when the monster tries to take a seat in the corner.

Psalm 118:8
"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans." NIV

Psalm 40:4
"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods," NIV

Isaiah 26:3-4
"You 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." NIV

Jeremiah 17-7
"'But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.'"

John 14:1
"'Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have put your trust in God, put your trust in Me also'" NLV

Monday, January 2, 2017

Do you know the way home?

This is not your typical welcome the New Year 2017 type of blog, it is where my mind is...

I have done a lot of thinking these past few days about 2016 and the posts many friends and the media have been making in regards to the amount of celebrities that passed in 2016, gasps of disbelief and so many questions.  My first thought is, my friend group probably grew up in the 70's and 80's, many of these icons were adults when we were children, they are in their 60's-90's. Granted some are younger, but many of those at some point possibly had previous health issues, or lived hard in their youth. The "industry" puts a lot of stress on them to be the best (stress causes a lot of health issues), and when you are on a pedestal and fall off I am guessing that hurts. But truth is we won't live forever (kind of cold but true.)

The Bible tells us so;
Job 14:5 
"You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer."

I am not so hard as to say it still isn't sad, but my life is not void of death and loss. I have lost a lot, (more than many my age I hear).  Grief is something I am just starting to grasp as an emotion that is acceptable. I am not surprised by death, and to be completely honest I don't fear my own death.  (This is not what people want to hear someone say, and they usually jump to the completely incorrect conclusion. Full disclosure I have never ever thought of that as an end for me, I just know I am saved).

My first memory of death I was about 6, our "Grandma" Esther was in the hospital and I made her a card to get well soon...that card came home and we never had coffee with Grandma Esther again.  When I was 8 years old 4 members of a family of 5 from my church, and their neighbor boy were killed in a car accident. Four young lives and a father, so quickly gone.  I clearly remember looking at the pictures of the boys in our local arena for years thinking how sad that they stayed young as I grew up.

I have been to more funerals than I can even count.  Not just people that we would say "had a good life", quite the opposite.  I heard so often that "Only the Good Die young", that was not a good thing for a kid that kept saying goodbye to friends.  I went to two schools growing up, for a total of about 150 kids in my grade, 7 have died" too young."  Two of Cancer, three brain aneurysms, and two in car accidents.  I have lost my college roommate on a snowmobile, lost five men I know die in small plane crashes and countless other tragic ends to young lives. Death and funerals sadly are a big part of who I am.

I rejoice when the person actually gets to "live a good life", though I am starting to question what that really means. For years I just "dealt" with the loss and tried harder to make God want me to come home, I didn't have a clue how to process grief, so I just buried it literally deep inside.
I had death down (or so I believed):
1)You go to the visitation (speak if you want, I did this easily)
2) Attend the funeral
3) Go to the grave site
4) Make sure everyone was OK by staying in contact, remembering dates. (I know they don't ever forget so neither should I, they need me "false guilt")
5) Try harder to please the world, thinking that will make God want me.

 Lately I have been thinking about "Going Home".  Not going to Roseau, not walking into my house, not my earthly home at all. I see this as my temporary home and I long to Go Home. I was at a funeral this past fall and a friend said "we should rejoice that they are home." Out of my mouth, faster than I would have liked, I just said, "I am jealous, I want to go Home!".  Truth I had never said out loud.

My faith journey, and cry to Jesus happened in deep grief that was flooding out of my heart after losing Sara and Margie.  It was all flooding through me, that first death at six, and the many deaths since then washed over me. Grief didn't just hit me in waves all of those past years, it hit me with a tsunami that literally knocked me down and started to drown me.  I can't even explain what it was like, but it was awful.  I laid on the closet floor trying to figure out why God didn't want me!  I laid there on the floor, with a roof over my head, and completely safe in my house, but I felt homeless, alone, and afraid.

I cried out to Jesus.  I don't know why I cried out on that Thursday night but I wanted to talk to him, I wanted answers, I wanted him to stop leaving me behind.  I wanted answers that moment! Well the next day he sent me on a journey, not for immediate answers, but for the map. He led me to a brother in Christ to talk to, and he started to lead me to scripture. I needed this to understand I wasn't being left behind. I was being given time to use my journey to lead others to Jesus as their Savior.  My story was not about all of the death and holes left in my heart with each loss, but the light that once I surrendered was able to shine from those cracks. I needed to see that the journey started with a death on the cross that would lead me to a forever home.  Jesus saved me, he had my life mapped out.  I did not have to work harder to make God love me, I just needed to run to him and he would welcome me and show me how to shine his light (not my own by pleasing man).  I don't need to fear death, death gave me life.

Scripture is the place to find hope and it is OK to go through every emotion.  I was even angry at God, but that was also OK, I am human and He knew I would also praise him in the storm.  I didn't need to fear death, I need to trust Him. I can comfort others as He has comforted me, he put others in my life to help me in my time of pain, and he is leading me to tell my story as it is His story.

2 Corinthians 1:4
"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."

I doubt I will ever be an "icon", that is just a bigger stage than I have.  I can however be a disciple, I can be in His light.  My losses don't make the news or have millions crying out why??? My losses make me excited to go home. My losses led me to Jesus, and hopefully my story tells his story to others that need the truth, and lead others home.

When I get home I want to meet sweet Azariah, he lived 31 minutes, he taught me about family.  I want to talk to Arlene, we spent one day together and she taught me to pray. I want to talk to Dennis, he raised me and loved me unconditionally.  I want to be met by Sara and Margie, I want them to be there to hug me when I get home.  I want to meet my grandparents that I never met, I hope to see all of my people. I want all that I have met and will meet on my journey to be there praising beside me. (Full disclosure, there are no "icons" I care to meet but I hope they are there.)
Most of all want to see Jesus face to face and thank him for these people, and hear him say:

Matthew 25:23 
"Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.                                 Let's celebrate together!' 
On this journey S.J. (my brother in Christ) has continued to teach me to go to prayer, cry if needed and trust this path.  I am not being left behind I am still here to say it is O.K. to grieve, but it is also O.K. to live and lead others, tell my story and how He was there all along, all I had to do was cry out.  S.J. said "it's OK to feel, cry, be angry, and hurt", this was weird I thought it was better to be "strong" and hold in those feelings. He said, John 11:35 "Jesus wept" 

So as so many seem to be shocked by the amounts of celebrity deaths in 2016, and "what does this mean!" comments I am not shocked.  I know that God has this, he has the answers.  All we need to do is to chose to follow Him, lead others to Him, and praise the truth that we are only here a short time. 

So for 2017 I hope we can ask others "Where are you at on your walk, do you know the way home?"

Herbrews 13:14
"For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come."

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."