Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'm not Superman

My friend calls me Superman.

I may have told you that already. She calls me that because my newest obsessions are triathlons.

Well, if I'm Superman then my world is most certainly filled with kryptonite.

There are days I feel so defeated.

I'm not talking training here, I'm talking living life in general.

Ever feel like that?

I know all the things I "should" do....the way I "should" think....the way I "should" act....

...thing is I can't (or really just DON'T) always do those things....or sometimes I lack self-discipline and self-control in saying 'no' to all the things that I should.

For instance, even things that I know aren't good for me - impulses and selfish desire take control.....kinda like that chocolate cake that calls your name in the middle of the night....get what I'm saying?

Everyday we're surrounded by things waiting to test us and knock us down....almost everyday we face people and challenges that cause us to re-think our whole value system...Some days we fight to the death and we conquer....good wins over evil.....

...but sometimes we let our guard down and we get knocked flat on our backs.....

Some days it's like Superman and kryptonite.... like there's just no use in trying to do better because we're just too weak....

That's what I fool myself into believing sometimes....

Kind of strange, but this is what was up on my computer when I sat to do this post (stick with me here I have an 11 year-old who is really into sci-fi and comics and such)

What she wants is to live a long life in the warmth of the sun, her hand in mine. But because of him, she'll only feel the icy touch of a man whose emotions run as cold as the blood in his veins!" ―Mister Freeze

Victor Fries was a brilliant cryogenicist whose beloved wife Nora Fries was stricken with a fatal degenerative disease. He placed her in suspended animation while obsessively searching for a way to cure her, but the corporation that funded his research - and Nora's life - pulled the plug, triggering an accident that transformed Fries' body into a cold-blooded form that must always be kept below zero; at normal room temperature he will die.

For some reason the quote caught my eye and reminded me that sometimes we try so hard to do things our way that we end up missing out on our blessings and causing more problems.....we get blinded by selfishness....

I've been broken to the point I thought I was beyond repair....and I've floated on the clouds as close to God as I thought I could get.....the most frustrating thing for me is realizing when I have failed and trying to get back to where I should be....

That's where grace, mercy, faith and love come in. I have accepted God's salvation and continue to ask him to lead me in the right direction. I'm not perfect....far from it, but I have God and in the times when I feel I'm sinking I know I can turn my eyes to him. He never fails.

He continues to prove this over and over.

Lately, it's as if I stepped back into my life again and understanding all the blessings again.....


Monday, June 30, 2014

Loss

Loss hurts.

Be it loss by death, loss by choice, or loss without known reasons....

Loss hurts.

I've struggled tremendously with loss this week.

Sometimes loss is obvious. As in death. When we lose a loved one the feeling of mourning is expected. When we deal with death we expect sadness and tears. Emotions are expected....only no one has ever put a specific time frame on what is appropriate for that mourning....or when the mourning should actually start. What if it doesn't start immediately after death? What if the acceptance of death starts to seem real much later?

Sometimes loss is not obvious. When you grow distant from someone....maybe not for any apparent reason, but it just happens....or when things just suddenly become different...or when someone just cuts you out of their life....The loss of feeling devalued by someone can be almost as hurtful as loss by death.

We never know what people are dealing with. We don't know their internal feelings or problems. We may not always know what kind of losses they are experiencing or the sadness that consumes them. We don't always know what directs people's behavior....As a matter of fact, sometimes it might even be hard to gauge what directs our own behavior at times.....

My feelings of loss today are very layered - some relating to the loss of Zeta and some not so much.....
Rumor is they are supposed to put her headstone in today. This is something I've avoided almost completely and just have not dealt with very well at all....I didn't want to pick it out, I didn't want to order it....and here we are over a year later.....However, I've been by the cemetery twice today - maybe just to see if it's there...I'm not really sure....

One thing we should work on is trying to understand those around us....the world is filled with enough hate without adding to each others problems...

We've been called to love one another even when it's difficult.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 (NIV)

That's a pretty awesome responsibility considering that God loved us enough for Jesus to die on the cross.....Do we love most people even a portion of how God loves us?

I've been blessed in my life to have people who love me.....even when I'm emotional or difficult.....

My prayer is that others can experience the same type of love....love that's greater than anything we could experience from anyone here on earth. Love that is truly unconditional....love that is stronger than the bond between a husband and wife or parent and child.....unwavering love...My prayer is that I too can work toward showing this same type of love....

Oh, and since I initially began this post Zeta's stone was placed.....
A reminder of great losses, but an even greater reminder that God's plans are much bigger than my own!

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

broken

I have a confession.

I'm a little OCD.

Not in the traditional sense, but I apparently struggle with obsessions to some extent. There are tons of things in the world that don't bother me...that crooked picture on the wall? Only occasionally. My pile of stuff in the corner? Only when it gets larger than usual.....

So I'm probably not OCD right?

Then there has to be another term for it because once I get something in my mind it has to happen or I go absolutely crazy!!!

I think a lot about Zeta and all she went through. If there was a symptom or diagnosis that was related to something she was experiencing I researched and talked to doctors and therapists until everything I read or heard was just repeating itself. I just couldn't stop.

Everyday of her life I wanted to "fix" her. I wanted to make her whole. Even when I finally understood that there was nothing to be fixed- that God created her perfectly in the way in which he wanted her....that fix-it instinct occasionally still came out.

I've spent a lot of my life trying to fix things. I don't mean in the physical sense necessarily, I mean in the sense of holding on to that save the world attitude.

I'm an eternal optimist. Even when struggling through some of my worst bouts of depression when I was finally able to get out of bed or see through the fog of the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds I still wanted to fix things - or people, rather.

Most of my educational career I wanted to fix all the broken children. I was drawn to special education at first. Then, in the regular classroom I always found myself most attached to the children who had the most problems, or who struggled the most, or seemed to need the most love....

Stevie could tell you how many times I asked him about adopting random children or bringing children home with us because they seemed to have no one..... or the countless conversations on the phone with parents who were fighting desperately to find a way to help their child succeed.....

My life has always centered around fixing the broken.

Because of this I'm often called a doormat.........

I'm told people walk all over me, that these people don't really have problems they just use me.

I've also found out myself that I very easily become an enabler.....sometimes because of the love I feel- and the desire I have to want to be the one to 'be there' or the one to help- sometimes I put myself into awkward situations or seriously end up feeling very used.....

These are all choices I make on my own....and while the feeling of wanting to love or fixing the broken sounds great in theory.... maybe its not always the best thing.

OR ....Maybe its not always my place. Maybe sometimes its my own selfish desire of wanting to feel needed that makes me like this.

I'm a pretty tough fighter. I hate to lose. More than that I hate for anyone to feel that they're not worthy of love.....I will kick, fight, scream, push...just about anything to make you realize that you are worthy of love.

Sometimes though, my feelings get hurt. Sometimes, I realize I've pushed enough. Sometimes, I realize that it's not my place to be fixing.....and sometimes I actually realize that I'M THE BROKEN ONE.

There are so many people hurting in this world. There's so much death and destruction....poverty and sickness....hatred.....there are so many problems out there bigger than my own....so often times there are so many questions....

Brokenness causes emptiness. I am broken because although I try to follow God I have a tendency to try to live according to my own plans sometimes....I should know by now that never works.

Realizing I'm broken makes me lean back on my faith....and the One who is there no matter how much I try to hide.....




He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Psalm 147 3-4

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Looking for something

Do you know how it is when you lose something important? You know that frantic feeling where you tear the house up just searching because you know it has to be there somewhere?

Do you ever do that with your life?

Do you turn your life, your whole world, upside down searching for something?

I would bet that most of us do.

I know that I have a tendency to do it.

As humans we tend to seek what makes us happy- what makes us fulfilled. Ever have that empty space feeling? I used to have it a lot but I think once I went through certain trials with Zeta I figured out that that empty space was only completely filled by God. Money couldn't fill it, things couldn't fill it, my friends couldn't fill it, even my family couldn't fill it. If there was a need I had , all of those things could fill help cheer my heart at some time but it never completely filled the void.

Immediately after Zeta died I believe I relied on god more fully than I ever had. However, in the past several months I'm sad to say I felt strong enough to try to take back my life as my own. What I mean is I got so strong with God as the focus of my life that I suppose I thought I was partially responsible for that strength.

I didn't even realize this was happening, but some people around me did.

I look at my life and realize that I am blessed beyond measure. I have a family that will and has almost literally gone to the ends of the earth for me. I have
Food to eat and clothes to wear. Heck I fuss about things that I don't have just like the next person, but it dawned on me the other day when I was shopping that although I really hate shopping I sure do it a lot��
I am blessed with a strong network of people I can call on for work and life related questions and I also have some pretty amazing friends.

From the outside looking in my life looks pretty perfect.

Well folks, I'm here to tell you that nobody's life is perfect and no matter the image we project to the world we all fight constant battles. It's life.

That emptiness...that feeling of searching for something...I know it all too well. Most would guess that the loss of Zeta played a big part of thAt and I won't deny that at all....but before you start giving me a free pass to feel any way I please just because I'm a member of the 'lost a child club' I want to make sure you're aware that this isn't the first time I've dealt with the emptiness.

As humans we yearn for love and validation and acceptance. Even the people who are self proclaimed loners yearn for those same things. They may not express love or needs in the same way but they have them none the less.

Sometimes the emptiness consumes you. People make a lot of choices based on that feeling of emptiness. Some good, some not so good, but all for th hope of reaching the same end goal- a feeling of wholeness....a feeling of completeness...a feeling of knowing that you have all you want, all you need, and everything to make you happy.

The mistake we make is in confusing the things that actually make us happy and in choosing things that are only temporary or maybe really not good for us at all.

The emptiness can cause unhappiness or indifference..

Emptiness can cause people to drink, do drugs,have affairs, tell lies, avoid people, hang out with the wrong people, and the list goes on and on ...causing people to exhibit behaviors they might not otherwise do. Frequently, people reach some point that they realize completely what they're doing but the feeling of temporarily filling that void outweighs any d other feeling in the world.

Sometimes the things that we choose to fill those voids aren't necessarily bad for us. For instance, I try to run from my emptiness sometimes so I throw myself into my training, I find every activity in the world to be a part of, I surround myself with friends, I text all day and check social media, I find anything at all to distract myself from letting myself get in touch with my true emotions. Those things in and of themselves may not be all wrong but when I use them to avoid actually feeling or living life they become problematic.

For 3 years I lived a life so fast paced and so chaotic that I didn't always have time to even sense what I was feeling, let alone feel it. I spent most days waking, wondering what the day would bring...would we be home or in the hospital, would we have a simple doctors visit or would we rush to the hospital or would the ambulance come or would we make it to the doctor and end up being airlifted. Would Breathe pretty well on her own or would it be a battle? Would she make it a few hours without seizures wrecking her body or would it consume her all day. Would we remember to give her every bit of the never ending medications.. Would I be fighting insurance to pay for the medicine or back and forth to the pharmacy or waiting for FedEx to bring the meds. Looking back I don't know how we ever made it....all I can say is that the love of a child and the grace of God are the only things that pushed my weary soul and body.....and My sweet Zeta....I know that it was God that sent her here and He who made sure her very existence was for His purpose.

I've been angry. My soul has been empty.

I was nominated to be the feature of an article in a parent magazine as mother of the year around Mother's Day I even talked to the writer, but in the end I (almost subconsciously and rudely) walked away because I didn't feel worthy. I realize that's not the only thing I've pushed away or missed out on. My fear of feeling inadequate or feeling that if people 'really' knew me hinder me from a lot of things sometimes.

Some people who know me might beg to differ. They view me as bold and confident, yet others view me as quiet and contemplative....I'm pretty sure I'm a little of both depending on the situation.

I've gone through highs and lows. Some things make make me shameful, some leave me with many questions but I know that there's been purpose in everything that has led me to this point. I know that God's not done with me yet and I know that I live in His grace and His mercy. I know that He can fill the emptiness and that my life in Heaven will be without emptiness.

I know that His grace is sufficient and I know it's my job to keep telling it.

You know, I've talked about living in a glass house. One thing that bothers me a lot are comments that people sometimes get when they're doing exactly what God wants them to do....trying to be something they're not....let me explain. The saying that the church is full of hypocrites. Well that's very true. By design none of us are perfect. So when I'm around people and they make the comment that someone seemed surprised that we would do stuff together because I'm too Godly or goody goody (mainly bc of my very public proclamations) it hurts my heart and also makes me want to lower the blinds in my glass house. Shouldn't we ALL be trying to be something we're not....which is to say we should all be trying to do better. We all sin. We have sins and secrets.....some people hide them better than others and some people just sin differently. Regardless, we are all marred by sin.

However, it is all our individual responsibility not to let that sin define us or rule us. It is our responsibility to learn from our sin and to share with others the love of the only One that frees us from our sin. Wallowing in our sin does nothing. Judging others because they sin differently does nothing. Getting up and loving others, caring for others....and let's not forget loving and forgiving oneself...are the perfect witness of Christ. Don't get stuck. Don't let emptiness rule you. Live for the One who created you. Learn that we're all equal in His eyes. Seek to be the hands and feet of His mercy and Grace. Do it for yourself. Do it for others. Do it for Him...do it to get rid of the emptiness.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

showing hurts and hearts

Do you ever feel on top of the world?

I mean like everything is right with life and you have it all figured out?

I have. It's a great feeling too, right?

Like you know what is right, you feel what is right, you do what is right and everything is in harmony.

Now, have you ever felt invisible?

Invisible, Hunter Hayes

Like no one really knows you or that no matter how hard you try you aren't ever going to be good enough....like everybody else around you has it figured out, but somehow you missed the boat? I've felt like that too....

Or, have you felt yourself on the path to nowhere - but you just couldn't figure out how to change direction? Have you been blinded by your own fascination of things that no matter how badly you want you just don't exactly have anywhere to fit it in your perfectly harmonized world?

....and then sometimes on that path to nowhere you do learn a little something......

You learn there are other people hurting. You learn that people are capable of love and that yes, they can even love you and you can love in return.....

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost. ~G.K. Chesterton



There's so much to learn if we open our hurts. "Hurts" - that must have been a slip because I meant to type "hearts".....but I guess it's true of both - there is a lot to learn if we open our hurts and our hearts......When we hurt we tend to shut people out hoping no one will notice while also praying that someone will....When we share our hurts and our hearts we give others the opportunity to be there for us and help us find our light - if only for a short while......The path to nowhere is not always black and white nor is it always all evil....Sometimes it just teaches us things about ourselves. It sheds lights on the things we like about ourselves, the things we hate about ourselves and the things we are yearning to find.....

We don't always like to admit it, but we all need love. We all need understanding. We all need to know that it's ok not to be ok sometimes.

It's funny how things work out - even when we don't always have all the answers.....it just takes a little more searching....



Ecclesiastes 3:12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
Philippians 2:2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love, Hurt, and Forgiveness

Do you know what it's like to be hurt?
Silly question, wouldn't you say?
We're hurt every day....by those we love, those we can't stand, those we're trying to understand, and those we'd rather not even be around. Every day it seems our hearts get broken or our egos bruised.

So what do we do? God says we should forgive, but is that what we always do. The bible teaches us to forgive out of love.....out of the same pure love in which Jesus Christ died for our sins. Now that's a pretty hard pill to swallow.

Let's start with me for instance. I'm a lover of people. I love peace and harmony. I love making people happy and I love helping heal hurts-or at least making them feel not alone in what their dealing with.....it makes me feel like I'm contributing something like I can make a difference....but let's be honest it also makes me feel wanted and appreciated so if someone blocks me out I feel hurt. If someone says something to hurt my feelings my heart sinks and my ego shrinks....if someone dares to accuse my actions to be anything than love, care or concern I fold....and it hurts....and sometimes I get mad....it takes a whole lot for me to get mad but it happens...what's sometimes scarier than mad is indifference...you know the feeling you have when you just dint care one way or the other? Why, do you say? Well bc indifference is a lack of emotion therefore your actions have the potential to crush someone and you're none the wiser.... Now, let's talk about other things that have the potential to hurt or make you mad-someone talks about you or your family, accuses you of something you didn't do (or calls you out on something you actually did do), someone says or does some unfounded thing that hurts you in some way.....any and all of this can lead to anger, hurt, and/or confusion....

Which brings us to forgiveness...how do we forgive? How should we forgive? Do we have forgiveness for others...do we have forgiveness for ourselves? Do we recognize that the evil we fight every day has nothing to do with fellow humans but rather temptations of the anti-christ...

I have a strong group of friends of whom we pray for each other and talk throughout the day...just this week one reminded us James 1 1-18..you'll have to look it up bc I'm blogging from my phone and don't know how to copy and paste. Anyway, James reminds us that trials are from God and temptation from the devil...do you see the difference? Trials strengthen us...temptations sway us. Sometimes as the result if our free will we are swayed by temptations and create our own trials.

Take for instance marriage and affairs. In marriage there are many trials.....financial burdens, sickness-mental and or physical, and the list goes on and on. Love is a choice and the act of loving your spouse is of your own free will each day....even on the days your spouse is unlovable or you're unlovable one..temptations are around every minute of that marriage...you just don't notice them when everything is going fine....when you're hurt or feel unloved or unlovable or when you become indifferent that's when temptation has the opportunity to arise. When those temptations arise people get hurt. Sometimes the hurt is minor bc temptation is recognized and stopped before it goes too far and sometimes temptation gets the upper hand and everyone around becomes miserable and tortured from poor choices.

So how Does forgiveness fit in here? Well, it's obvious in many ways....the spouse who strayed and recognizes with remorse desires forgiveness...the spouse who maybe never saw it coming realizes mistakes made or longs to have the anger leave their heart....but what about the one who acted as temptation? What about the one who shows no remorse who continues to disrupt families who, out of what looks like selfish desire continues the same patterns...is that forgivable?

The hardest thing for us to do is forgive....sure we say we forgive...we try to forgive....but unless there is true forgiveness like that that we received from the blood of God then when do not have true peace...true forgiveness cannot come from us...it has to be placed there by God and we only get it if we ask for it... Sometimes we have to ask continually...AND we have to be READY for it. That means we have to be willing to give up our own control, our own desires, and our own limitations to let God have control...we have to have forgiveness in ourselves and of ourselves before we can forgive anyone else....and that comes with the love and desire of God in which we can truly love ourselves and each other...things that sound so simple but yet we often fight so hard against.

In my own experiences I know that I have difficulty forgiving....on the outside I seem pretty forgiving. I even fool myself that I'm full of forgiveness.....but the better term for me would probably be passive-aggressive. I'll forgive you and say everything is ok , but I won't forget...and you better believe I'm gonna use it against you later- either to remind you of how you've messed up before or to let you know it's ok for me to do certain things bc you wronged me in the past.....see that's not true forgiveness....but I holdout forgiveness in myself too....I let guilt control my actions sometimes, I let fear tell me I'm not good enough or evil tell me that I can do what I want bc I'm just gonna mess up anyway...that's not truly giving it to God or forgiveness of self...and lack of self live or self forgiveness leads us to believe we're not worthy so no one else is either....this opens the door for all sorts of temptations- self medication through drugs or alcohol, abuse, hatred, you name it....

Do you see why true forgiveness is so important?

I can think of one very clear time in my life I experienced feeling true forgiveness for someone...Zeta was inpatient in one of the fights for her life....her tiny body was clearly trying to give up and no one seemed to be acting fast enough. The only doctor around was a new ( and who seemed to me at the time cocky) resident...he seemed to be just watching my baby and no one was doing anything...he finally discussed a plan of action with which I disagreed bc it was just wasting time- I knew all too well from experience....to make a long story short my baby almost died and if she had I was going to blame this resident and this hospital for the rest of my life....this was the first time I ever came close to sticking a finger in someone's face...I tried to react calm and in a rational manner bc I knew the rest of Zeta's care depended on it but the anger that boiled through my veins was too much to contain... I was angry to the point of sickness....I hated everything and everybody....my only focus was that doctor and it was a picture of hatred.....what I slowly started to realize as I sat by zeta and tried to pray was that my main focus was this young resident and the fact that I thought he had done wrong....I couldn't even put the proper feeling into the prayer for healing for my baby because I was so consumed by the anger. So I made a plea to God to please take the hurt and anger away....to let me forgive this young doctor so I could move on and focus on the things that mattered.....you know what happened once I finally did that? Well I found out this was this doctors second day in the PICU..a resident is still learning and in Zeta's case most of us were constantly learning. I started to realize that doctors wouldn't devote so many hours of their lives in order to purposefully fail....there were a lot of things I started to realize....I realized the difference between true forgiveness and forgiving someone just bc we think we should or just to avoid conflict. True forgiveness doesn't mean that you agree with what happened or that you were never hurt, it simply means that you realize the emotion is out of your control and in order for you to move on you have to give up your own will and Give it to God just as Jesus said, 'Not my will but thine be done.'

We are weak and helpless in our own capacities. There's only one way that is Divine and right and true- and only one way to Heaven. You have to believe God is real, that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, and that we are imperfect sinners who only have to confess those sins in order to be forgiven. As we do this we find thT we desire to be more like God and when we make poor choices He deals with our hearts in such a way that we actively seek right from wrong. Does that mean we'll always make the right choices? No. Does it mean we have every reason to keep trying? Most definitely!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why do we do these things???

Why do we create situations that hinder our true (or ETERNAL) happiness?

How do we fall into the trap of losing our focus and making poor choices?

I could write this post based on my own experiences or about the experiences of about a 100 others that I know.

You see, over 4 years ago I was in a pretty dangerous place. I'm not talking literally - I'm just talking about with my soul. When the world becomes our focus we lose sight of the One true focus. We fall into the trap of relying on other things or other people to make us happy. We forget where salvation lies. We forget where true peace resides. We forget the calm assurance and we seek the thrills. We seek what everyone else is searching for. We're on a mission to find the answers to life. The answers to being carefree and the answers to our description of true happiness.

For some people true happiness has the expectations of no boundaries and living life according to your own free will.....I take that back - I believe we ALL reach that point at some time. Most of the time we can put limits on these boundaries and we live as upstanding citizens. What happens when we let our guards down though?

Some people look for the escape from reality. You get tired of hurt and pain. You get tired of routine. You get tired of living in a glass house because you wonder if there is something more.....or maybe you're just scared to live in the glass house because you know it will crack.

I understand we're all imperfect. I preach this all the time. We all make mistakes. Since Adam and Eve our journey of sin took reign. We were created with free will. I get that too....I just don't always understand it....

I mean, I go through this constantly.....since Zeta and the moment that I was so broken and realized that absolutely no one could save me from my pain and no one could make her whole I felt a whole new commitment to God. I finally understood the TRUE meaning of a relationship with God. I got it. I had the peace that I was looking for for so long. In the midst of my most broken moments - in the most difficult situation I had ever encountered I finally knew what it meant to be held. I finally understood God's language. I wasn't just sitting there waiting for it to happen. I begged and pleaded for it to happen. I begged for God to take the pain from me and protect our family.

.....and he has.......through everything we have experienced. Through every hospital visit and through every seizure. Through every tear and through every sleepless night God protected me. I was able to see the goodness through the pain. I was able to hear God over the weeping of my soul. God protected me when I laid my baby on the stretcher for the last time....they wheeled her to a hearse instead of a hospital bed or operating room. Throughout every bit of it I was able to focus on God.

So why the difficulty now??

Why when things should be finally getting back to NORMAL does it all seem to be falling apart again?

It's like I moved my focus for a few days and BAM I'm afraid I forgot how to talk to God. My glass house is shattering all around me. Why am I so distracted? Why can't I just get it right? Why was it so easy to follow and listen in the moment that most felt I should be shaking my fists and giving up??

I'm the opportunist who believes in giving a good pep talk (and God talk) if I think someone needs it....funny thing is most of my pep talks are directly related to me. The things I need to be reminded to do (pray, have faith, etc) and the things that lead to eternal life and true freedom of your soul on earth.....

unfortunately, lately I've been feeling like a huge hypocrite.......because somehow I've lost my focus.....

For the first time in a very long time I sat through church tonight and heard almost nothing the preacher said........I constantly tried to tune in, but I found it so difficult as I was thinking over all of my own personal issues and how sometimes it just seems easier to give in rather than fight the devil......I don't get how I can be so strong in my convictions one day and then all of a sudden it seems everything blows with the wind....

....now before all the speculation begins I haven't done anything illegal or crazy like that.......I just can't find my focus......my eyes and heart, my soul, my being are being tried........

One minute I'm convincing myself that there's nothing wrong with setting aside my convictions for small things, then those small things become big things - then you just as well not even try because you're gonna mess up anyway, right?

Where does stuff like this even come from? How can you go from being so sure of everything you believe and knowing that God is the one true source to salvation and peace and happiness to assuming that you don't need to try so hard because you've got it all wrapped up. Aren't we taught that being a Christian doesn't guarantee an easy path? As a matter of fact quite the opposite could be true - consider Job (yes preacher I did listen a little tonight).

Sometimes I feel like Job. You don't have to jump in tell me that my life is nothing compared to Job - I know this already.

but....here's a BIG but - I get these thoughts - "I found God. I've done the right things. I was saved when I was 8. Several times in my life I was sure I had it all figured out - how to be the proper Christian, how to follow God correctly. For the past few years I KNOW that I've had a very true relationship with God. I withstood the biggest trial of my life - with peace in my heart. I deserve happiness all the time and if I make a poor choice I blame lapse of judgement on watching my daughter die for her whole life. This is the crap I tell myself. I convince myself that I am righteous. I convince myself that I will wear a crown because I'm saved....and because I deserve it. I convince myself that I DESERVE it. It's like an ticking time bomb in my head sometimes. Stevie and I have a disagreement and I fall apart because my daughter is up the road in a grave. I have a bad day, I fall apart because my baby is gone. I make a bad choice I blame it on all the hell I've been through. I forget to do something and I think to myself - heck other people can be sorry and forget stuff and nothing ever happens - at least I have an excuse, my daughter is dead. I watch people I love make poor choices and I fail to stand up and help them find the right way. Someone hurts my feelings and I crumble inside saying "you have absolutely no idea what I've seen and what I've been through." You can be happy and not give a crap about anyone else because YOUVE NEVER HAD TO FIGHT TO MAKE IT OUT OF HELL ON EARTH. Do you get the picture? every aspect of anything that is wrong leads me back to two things - I'VE ALREADY BEEN THROUGH HELL AND I DESERVE HEAVEN. THAT BECOMES MY FAULTY THINKING

I doubt it took you long to realize that the former paragraph is full of self-centered drama and nonsense. nearly 200 WORDS OF WORTHLESS UNWORTHY CRAP about my rightousness- but those are my honestly brutal feelings sometimes. Do you sense the anger? Do you feel the longing to just be normal and forget what actually brought me to be the person I am today.....

What you don't see so much there maybe is the guilt.

The guilt that I hold for feeling as if all my baby went through was somehow my fault. That God knew I couldn't truly see him until I was stripped of every possible part of my soul I wanted to claim as my own. That I would always have some small hold out or some things I would try to keep from him until I was brought completely on my knees and fell flat on my face and said I GIVE UP I CAN"T DO THIS YOU HAVE TO TAKE IT AND YOU HAVE TO FIX IT. The guilt of almost KNOWING that maybe it was my fault. That everything I watched her struggle through was created by me.....created by me because of any and every poor decision I made before she was ever even conceived. Created by me because I was her mother. Created by me because I deserved to be punished for all the sin I'd ever had in my life. Created by me due to poor choices.

Fast forward to after I was so broken that I was either going to die or God was going to save me and then you see another part.....the part that finally understood you have to actively seek God's face. The part that understood that you have to surround yourself with people that encourage you to do just that. The part that tells you that certain things are not good....the part that shows you what it's like to actually WANT to be more like God because you are so grateful that you are saved....because you finally get it.....because in the midst of the senseless you finally feel like you understand just a small part of what it's like to turn EVERYTHING over to GOD....

Then you go through the guilt again....sometimes when I share my experiences I become so overwhelmed by emotion because I see exactly what it took to get me to fully accept the gift God was offering. I was so overwhelmed by thinking of the sin in my life and how I wanted to rid myself of that and that is the moment I truly truly said Ok, it's yours. I didn't care what I had to give up I just wanted safety and assurance. I was finally willing to throw my hands up and say, "I don't care what it takes - make me whole."

The big problem is that since then I've tried so hard to be diligent, I've worked to make my choices align with what I believe He wants for my life. I've bordered on feeling accomplished in living life the right way....

Which is why all of a sudden it feels like I'm not and why all of a sudden I just find myself distracted and not focusing. It's like I just sat down a few days ago and said, Ok - I think I want to go back to my old life now. I don't like the responsibility of being somebody people look up to, I don't like being the mom who lost a child, I don't like putting forth the effort when it seems like so many other people don't. I just want to BE. I just want to exist......without baggage....without thoughts....without responsibility....without worry.

That's the big one, WORRY. I can't fix the world. I would like to, but I can't. I wanted to fix every one of Zeta's problems, but I couldn't. I wanted to fix myself, but I'm still broken. The devil creeps in and says so what....do whatever makes you feel good - don't worry about anything else. If you want to give up, then give up. If you want to skip devotions skip them. If you want to hide from the world hide. If you want to pretend you're on top of the world then do it. The little battles turn into big wars.

Everyday we battle the demons among us. The evil that lives inside us and the evil that lives in the people around us. Sometimes it's easy to throw our hands up in the air and walk away....to try to be something we're not.....to try to make a different life - a life that doesn't include the pain of our pasts. That's what the devil wants. He wants us to cave. He wants us to turn away. He wants us to fool ourselves into believing that some things just aren't worth the trouble.

I started this post knowing it was going to be brutal. knowing it would hurt....knowing I would bare my soul once again.... I started full of anger, guilt and hopelessness. I started full of fear. Fear of the idea that has been in my head that I shouldn't be preaching, teaching or telling anyone about Jesus because I'm so screwed up and I just needed to let the world know it - because then I could let myself off the hook....

but you see that's what the devil wants. He wants me to cave. He wants me to mess up. He wants me to give up the minute I venture toward temptation. He knows the path away from God often looks more glorious because we are blinded by our very own egos.

I can honestly say the distractions have been creeping in for a few days and that the past couple of days I have been totally blinded.... Distractions so huge that I couldn't sit still to focus on anything god was saying to me....things constantly put before me that I chose to ignore. Sitting in church and almost virtually waking to realize I had no clue what the preacher had said in the last five minutes....then looking over to see someone using their bible openly for the first time and knowing that there was a desire and thirst for God.....It was a wake up call that I almost missed because I was so focused on myself.....The journey and growth I've seen of my friend who has walked the spiritual journey kicking and screaming and shaking her fists at God - watching as her heart is opening and the walls are crumbling.....and realizing that as her heart opens mine was seemed to be closing......what a sad irony that would be.....what a great victory for death and evil....

So you know what, the devil doesn't win. I'm staking my claim - here, now and openly to you. I don't get to heaven because I claim to be saved. I don't get to heaven because I'm a good person. I don't get to heaven because of the hell I've been through. I get to heaven because God sent Jesus to die on the cross and I believe that to be true. I have sins - as a human I will always struggle with sin, but I confess those sins and put them in God's hands. I will fight the battles because the war has been won!



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