Friday, May 12, 2017

Just Be

I have a feeling this post is about to be brought to you by lots of random thoughts, or that's at least what I call them, so if you are about to take this ride, well buckle up butter cup cause I have no idea where it's going or what kind of drive it's going to be. If I'm driving you'll probably want to throw up a prayer or two also. Haha!!

I think this first random thought has occurred to me before but it decided to pay another visit yesterday and that was have you ever been driving and see a house that the outside looked perfect. Beautiful landscape, fresh mowed yard, inviting little front porch with the chairs and the table just waiting for you to sit down with your glass of tea, and you just can't help but say well that is just the cutest little house. And as you see the outside and how perfect it looks you imagine how it looks inside and think it has to be just as cute and perfect. But what if the inside of that house was a complete disaster, the layout was no where close to what you imagine, it's cluttered and worn, it's a mess. This can't be the same house. Sometimes I think people can be like that first part of this random thought. See I think oftentimes we spend so much time making the outside look good, look perfect but inside, oh inside we have got a mess but we think if we make sure the outside looks good we can fool everyone. I've never even really had the outside looking to terribly good but good enough to maybe fool people and what I would do is keep the outside looking okay and anyone that came by to visit well how about we just sit out here on the porch. Can't let anyone in. And I have spent most of my life like that.

 Now little detour before I try to finish this thought but you generally don't have to drive far to see a road work ahead sign and many times when I drive through a work zone I try to imagine why they have done what they did just to make an extra lane or whatever they may be doing in that particular work zone. I usually can't even picture out how it's going to look in the end. It just looks like a bunch of piles of dirt placed randomly, places dug up, detours that make no sense, and just a mess that doesn't seem worth it to make an extra lane or whatever they may be doing. Fast forward to a later date and the road work may be finished or finished enough that you can see why or at least better understand why they made the cuts, detours, and excavated what they did. Maybe all the delays and such was worth it after all.

On my road I am currently at mile marker 2017 and have drove 33 miles and my goodness has there ever been some serious road work, detours and delays - or what I thought was delays on this journey so far. It occurs to me that I may have wrote something similar to this before but if I have please bear with me because I just may open a door that I didn't open before or we may find out that a part of the road just got finished. And I'm just buying time because I can't believe I may be about to write parts of my story that I think may be time to write.

Picture it, early 90's Kentucky and a six year old me. Because you see six miles in my journey of this called life I had some major road work that was started. My parents divorced around this time and thus began a journey that has been interesting to say the least. So as it would be I would come to live with my dad. Somewhere around 8 years old I decided two things and I decided them I suppose in part because it's the only way I could make things make sense and because it was a way to protect myself. I decided that I would never let anyone else inside my house if you will and give them a chance to hurt me again and I thought that though I wasn't sure what I done I must have done something for God to hate me so much. This is also the part of my journey that I will now dub the detour of lies. So growing up I've never really understood or known a mother's love or what it is to have a relationship with your mom or a mom. I am thankful that God allowed me to be around and spend time with my grandma because she was a motherly influence growing up and bless her for putting up with me because I didn't make it easy. Not much worth going into detail through these miles of the journey just that more seeds of lies was planted and boy how those things grow and they grow fast with some seriously deep roots. Fast forward to 2002, my senior year of high school, and what also proved to be one of the most difficult years of my life thus far. My grandma was in her last year of checkups from her larynx cancer that she had battled five years earlier and what ended up taking her voice away. In the summer/fall of 2001 my grandma found out she had lung cancer and there was nothing they could do about it, she was to small to handle any kind of radiation or chemo - that would have killed her. So from around October '01 until January '02 my grandma fought a good fight against cancer and though she was stuck laying in a hospital bed at her house she never once complained. She'd wince and have a grimaced look of pain but you ask her if she was hurting and she'd smile and say she was okay. Though she was tiny in size the woman had willpower and strength so big it would have made Goliath look like an ant. On January 30th some may say cancer won but I say my grandma won the fight and she got the ultimate prize for all she went through here on earth, my grandma got to make her journey to heaven that day. Me on the other hand started my journey to rock bottom. I am not proud that I said what I'm about to tell you I said, in fact I have great regret over it but when my grandma died, one it hit me and it hit me hard. Because not only was she forever gone but I felt cheated cause I didn't get to tell her goodbye. So it was at this time that I once again realized or thought this was more proof that yup, God really hates me and I remember thinking God, I have no idea what I have done to you to make you hate me so much but that's it, I'm done. And I really at that point and for quite some time after that did not want to hear, talk or think about God, he hated me. And to be honest with you I hit a very deep depression after my grandma died and it stayed for a really long time but I didn't fully understand what it was at the time. Now I was done with God and was convinced that he hated me - that lie had grown and the roots was so very, very deep that it would take me years to fully grasp the truth.  Because you see God didn't hate me and He was already working out ways to help me see this truth...or He had been all along. Because around 2003-04 I got to meet some cousins, under unfortunate circumstances but it started a relationship with them and they quickly came to felt more like siblings than cousins and I love them dearly. One of those cousins in particular helped me more than she will ever know and she allowed me to come spend many nights over the years, and didn't say anything when I would stop by late in the evening for what was meant to be a five minute visit just to see her but often ended up me not leaving until 10 or later that night. It was these cousins that started talking to me about God and I never said I didn't want to hear about him but I have no doubt there was times I only half listened hoping they'd move on quickly but following them listening to them sing and what they would say planted another seed, this one full of truth. I started occasionally going to church with one of my cousins on Sunday mornings and on one particular drive back home in the middle of this depression that I didn't know I was fighting but I knew I was sick and tired of being sick and tired because you see during this time I would have times where I would think of how I could die and I remember driving and the thought came to mind why not just drive into this tree or cliff or whatever because everyone would be better off without me anyway, why didn't I just go ahead and get out of the way and on this one particular Sunday morning on my way home while fighting this I thought, no I said out loud something along the lines of God if you really are real and if you're there and I've not gone to far either let me kill myself or you save me. I don't care which but something has got to end I can't go on I'm sick and tired of being this sick and tired. Nothing happened that day. Before I go on I guess I should say I always heard about God growing up but we never went to church from the time I was maybe 8 or 9 until my cousin let me go with her and I guess I was 19 or 20 at this point. So I really didn't understand praying or anything. Now I don't know how long it was between my little ultimatum with God until another Sunday morning I went to church but on my own this time and just so happened my cousin wasnt there that day, I was in the pew by myself. When I left church that day, oh and this brings us up to 2005, I didn't want to go home yet so I went the really, really long way home and I can't explain it but I can tell you exactly where I was on my drive that I felt I needed to pray and I thought but I don't know how to pray and I thought well I'll just start talking and I did and I had been holding in a lot! Now if you haven't already shaken your head a lot or laughed here may be where you do but at this point I asked God to forgive me and well to save me and I felt a weight lift that I knew I had been carrying but didn't realize how much it had been weighing me down. I will not tell you it was a bed of roses after that day and everything was perfect, far from it actually. In fact there was times before where I thought the road was rough and several times through my life I'd dare to say I felt like I was on a road that was right in the middle of hell and I didn't think I'd make it through but it started me on my way to the road we can call the voice of truth. So I had kind of sort of mostly got that God didn't hate me after all but we're still on that house that looks perfect on the outside but don't you dare come in. However, over the years God placed some great people in my life that have become more like family than friends and a couple years ago God decided to let me meet another person that would quickly become like that to me. Over the years I'm not sure how much I still try to make sure the outside looks perfect while the inside is a mess, more than I should but I have let some people in and realized it's not that bad to do so. I was always afraid to open the doors that were in my house to be safe had them all boarded up but someone once told me something along the lines of that it's not all bad, some of those doors well it's okay to open them and I've been trying to open more of them and when I realize they are the ones that have lies well I board them up and try to go on to the next door. Is it easy? Nope. Some days I feel like I'm surrounded by those flames and those lies screaming at me but I'm learning ways to drown out those things with the truth. I'm learning to fight. I'm learning to let people in and let them see and know me. Further more, I'm realizing and am so very thankful because I can look back and see and better understand all those delays and detours and massive pits because there's no telling what I was saved from having to go through or deal with and perhaps best of all because of all of it I have got to meet some of the best people, who have and are helping me in ways they'll never know, who I love dearly and am so thankful to have in my life. And I can say thank you to every person that had a part, good or bad in this journey and I can honestly say I am thankful and so very glad things happened the way they did. I don't really have a relationship with my birth mom - and that's nothing against her, there truly is no hard feelings, hate or unforgiveness there just to let that be known. And I am also thankful because God is showing me so much and He chose to place certain people in my life and they are showing me and helping me understand what a mother's love is and stuff. And one day the road may lead to where I not only have those women in my life that have been more of a mom to me but I may have a relationship with my birth mom but until then I wish nothing but the best for her and I'm going to keep working on me. Many times people say if I knew then what I know now I'd change a lot of things. I wouldn't. If I could go back I'd just tell myself to keep on because I promise you it's worth it. It's proving to be worth every lie I have had to fight to destroy, worth every single one of the many, many tears I have cried, worth fighting through the doubts and fears. So now if we just sit on the porch for awhile it may just be I like to sit on the porch and drink a glass of tea but please know that some days I may try to keep you out and some days when I let you in the house may be very messy, cluttered and worn you can leave if you want or if you so choose to stay well thank you and if you even choose to try to help me make sense of the mess please know that I appreciate it even when those days are you just sitting with me.

Now you may be wondering why I titled this thing Just Be and if so it would be because today I had an a-ha moment and decided today I am going to just be. I'll just be thankful for the amazing people God has chosen to place in my life, to be thankful I have survived every single bad day so far and for how far I have made it on this journey, and I will be proud of the person I am and continue to become and realize more and more truths and destroy more and more lies.

And that's my story - so far - for those that have been part and continue to be a part of it, I most sincerely thank you for all you have done and am so glad to have each of you be a part of it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Titles Are Over-rated

I should probably title this post have you ever because I have a feeling I will be using that phrase a lot as I write this. I think it's safe to say at some point and to some degree we all wrestle with lies and fears and everything that falls in between those. I had a thought on that (which I have probably thought and wrote about here before) and in my weird way of seeing and understanding things I thought it's kind of like a dam in your head and on one side, the inside that not everyone can see, is where those lies just pile up over the years. Now on the outside it looks like nothing is going on, mostly, at least for me, because the lies are piling up and are so very loud and big that it blocks the view so much so that often I'm not even sure we realize there is a dam there. However, I like to picture it as there is the truth banging against the dam to try to make a crack big enough to break through and if you was able to see it you would see the truths just bouncing off and looking like it wasn't making any kind of progress but it is. And over time, be it short or what feels like forever, the truth does break through and now you have rubble laying on the ground, lies scrambling around trying to make sure you don't realize what happen and see the light, breathe in the fresh air and embrace the truth. Some of that rubble you easily pick up and toss far, far away and thus destroying a few of those lies but some of the pieces are a bit more heavier. We're going to walk on by those for the moment because we got some new territory to explore. This would also be the moment where one could say we're just ignoring them and sometimes that is true. However, sometimes it's just not the right moment to tackle those pieces, sometimes you just need to bask in the truth for a moment. For example, have you ever heard a song, tried to have a conversation or read a book and it was just a song, just a chat about the weather and other small talk, or just a book that you may have lost interest in and couldn't even finish. There's nothing wrong with the song, person you are talking to or book just at the moment that's all it is supposed to be. Then comes the day you hear a song, possibly even the same song you have heard several times and suddenly would you look at that it hit that big piece of debris that was still left and it just made that piece a little smaller. I don't know about anyone else but I'm quite thankful for those little a-ha! moments. Because sometimes when the dam is trying to get rebuilt from the lies and you try to fight the lies with some truths you know but they just are getting whipped by the lies and in those moments you can pull out those other truths that you have picked up along the way while exploring that territory that was blocked before. So I've been reading this book called Eve by Wm. Paul Young, I'm about half way through it but so far it's really good. It's one that has gotten me thinking about me and how I view myself and such. Actually it's one of those that I think has helped me take a few more steps away from the dam and see some things. I always seem to somehow find a character in a book I can relate to who often reminds me of how I feel or what I may have gone through which I suppose is weird. Anyway, in the book Lilly puts a front up so people don't see her vulnerability or at least so she doesn't feel vulnerable, she has a fear of people leaving, not good at trusting people, thinks if people knew what all she's done and such that they wouldn't even want to look at her, etc. There's a part in the book where she tells Eve to please not leave her and Eve assures her that she's not and at one point she sees Eternal Man and wants to run to him to hug him but she feels unworthy. And at one point she feels the loneliness that Adam feels and is that not the worst feeling ever, that feeling of isolation and even if you are surrounded by people you still feel alone. It feels like you are in a room so very dark and it feels so big and empty yet it feels like it is closing in on you. Terrible feeling. But there are little things and people that are helping Lilly see things differently, those little truths that are making an impact to get through that dam of lies. One part was when Lilly first meets Eve and Lilly says something and Eve laughs but it embarrasses Lilly so Eve draws her close to her side and tells Lilly you are not at risk with me. My amusement is because you said something funny. I will never laugh to shame you.' And I think another part is when John tells her she can always trust what he says and the time when she asks why he is doing all of this for her and he tells her that he believes she came into his life because God loves him. Which I love that it was written that way because though I absolutely believe there is always a reason we meet people and they have their time in our lives I always tend to look at it that it's a terrible joke on the person that has to put up with me. Somehow reading that kind of helped me see that I know that God knits people together but I never fully got that maybe me being in their life is helping them in someway just as much as it is helping me that they are in my life and hopefully not to just teach them patience that they probably didn't even ask for! One last thing about the book, where I currently am in it, Lilly was given a mirror and was told when she looked in it that it would show who she really was and when she holds it up to look into it the mirror pricks her thumb and then shows her, well it shows her lies of who she is but she starts to believe that's exactly who she is that there is no good in her and such. And it causes her to isolate herself even more cause she hasn't even told anyone that she has the mirror and looked into it. That's where we find ourselves in our comfort zone, which I find ironic that it's called that, I have never once been comfortable in my comfort zone. But it isolates us and keeps us away from others and from realizing who we are, truly are not what that mirror says or on those bad days what our heads are saying. Some days it's easy to win the battle and defeat those lies and some days it's not and you have to figure out a new strategy to go about attacking this lie and some days you need help and all of those are okay. I admittedly still struggle with asking for help on those days that I just can't win this one by myself but I'm getting better. Probably not a good thing to the couple of people I actually talk to though. (You can skip to very end for a chorus from a song that is to good for me not to share at this point if you so choose because from here on out I'm not even sure why or if I should write this but I will) But you know that is really the funny thing about life isn't it? How just the right people get placed in your life at just the right time. It is no secret how much I hate and struggle with Mother's Day, my piece of the dam/wall/door that seems like it is bigger than it is and over the years has and is not having the hold that it once had just sometimes it takes the truth a few tries to break through and from some of the most unlikely places and people. And it is to the point that it really isn't that big of a piece at all, not what my mind likes to try to trick me to think it is some days. Because there was many, many years that even right now I would not be in a good place just because of it about to be Mother's Day. However, I know and have some truths to hang onto and I've come such a long way with all that and the story that goes along with why I don't do well with that holiday. I recently heard Chonda Pierce say something along the lines of there will always be that sadness but there comes a day that you have to forgive that person and forgive yourself and that doesn't mean that you may have lunch with that person but you have a peace about it all. And she also talks at one point about this woman and her child that she just so happened to meet and they met each other just when they both needed to and so now that woman and her child is like a daughter and grandchild to her and she says at one point that God knew she needed that and she's so glad that God knew that and placed them in her life. And I can so relate to that, I think we all have those people in our lives that you just so happened to meet and somehow they have come to mean so much to you. It's a struggle for me to let people in and especially when I realize how close I am getting to people I have this fear that they will leave but I'm learning that it's okay to let people in and get close to them that they aren't going anywhere so enjoy the time that they are here. I really think God has placed people in my life and there are those that have come to feel more like a mom to me which again scares me and for a while I've struggled with if that's okay to be that close to them and such (that fear of they'll leave and such) but I've really come to realize that you know one I really do feel like these people are placed in my life to help me, to encourage me and just to be my friend (and hopefully I at least don't annoy or drive them crazy and maybe help at least in some way) but now I am seeing that it's okay because a mom isn't just a mom because they gave birth to you there is so much more to it than that. And I appreciate those in my life that have shown me that and they have become more like a mom to me and have been there to help me so very much in destroying these walls and helping me in so many ways and just taking the time to be there. So that's my Mother's Day spill and I will go ahead and say does that mean that come May 14th will I have no problems on that day, I don't know but I know that I will still have to do a lot of praying and reminding myself of truths so that any lie that tries to knock me down that day at the very least is going to have to work to knock me over.

So whether your dam/wall/door still seems impossible to be knocked down or it's been knocked down but there is a piece that seems just to big that you can never throw far, far away, don't give up. I recently heard a song called We Win by MercyMe (on their most recently released CD entitled Lifer) and I absolutely love the chorus which states:

This goes out, to anyone down for the count, it's not over, don't give up, don't throw in the towel, just remember who you belong to, let me remind you how this ends, we win..

So don't give up, today may be the day that that one more truth, maybe that person just giving you a hug or saying something that is the very thing that finally knocks those lies out for the count.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Better Vision

In the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy goes to find Oz she doesn't know the way but the munchkins tell her to follow the yellow brick road. The story may have been a lot different if Dorothy had a GPS and just put in Oz and was told, 'You are on the fastest route. You should reach your destination by 3:00pm Friday.' The only problem is if she had went the fastest way possible she very likely would have missed meeting the scarecrow, the tin man and the cowardly lion. Contrary to what the GPS and even what some people may try to say the fastest way isn't always the safest, best or even fastest way. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Paul writes: Do you not know that those who run a race all run but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown but we for an imperishable crown. During this time Corinth was the site of the Isthmian games. Athletes had to endure ten months of mandatory training and was barred from competing if they didn't complete the training. The winner of the games received a pine wreath crown. Sometimes it seems people get so focused on how fast they run the race they forget to properly train, they even lose focus on the prize. It becomes all about if they are ahead of so and so or are they close to being like or next to someone else in the race. That's not what the race is about. Paul says run it in such a way that you may obtain it, don't leave a path of destruction of people you have pushed out of the way to say you finished and don't neglect to properly train for the race. Don't assume you will automatically persevere to the end cause you started out great. You have to do your part in training and being as prepared as possible to run and endure the race but sometimes in the race you have to help others and sometimes you will need help. It's not a race to see who finishes first but to endure until the end so you can say you fought the good fight, you finished the race and kept the faith. Because sometimes on the scenic or back roads is where we meet the people that will help us run the race and help show us how to better our training or remind us of something we may have long forgotten or was never told about ourselves. Since Dorothy didn't have GPS she fortunately met the scarecrow, the tin man, and cowardly lion along the way and eventually they made it to the merry old land of Oz. In the book everyone including Toto has to have a pair of glasses with green lenses put on before they are permitted to enter the Emerald City. The gatekeeper of the city tells them it is because the brightness and glory of the city would blind them. In fact, everyone in the city has to wear them and these glasses are locked on and only the gatekeeper has the key to unlock them. These glasses are like the chains of the fears and lies of life. Sometimes in life we think we have to act a certain way or wear a particular brand or item of clothing to be accepted by people - to be allowed in the city. Some people are carrying around fears of rejection, perfection, or the lie that they don't matter. Whatever the fear or lie, because there are several, they each are like those green colored glasses. If  one isn't careful they get locked on and we can't take them off because we don't have the key. The enemy will say you have to, or even deserve to, wear and carry these chains - ironically he often used more fears and lies to make sure we keep focused on and continue to carry them longer than we ever should or was meant to. The people had to wear the green glasses from the time Oz ordered the city built. They didn't even know they was in bondage to these glasses and truly believed they would go blind if they took the glasses off. Our fears and lies are like that. Some we have carried so long we don't even realize the hold hey have on us, it has become our normal. Later in the book Dorothy and the others discover that Oz is nothing more than a man from Omaha that has been using tricks to deceive people. When Dorothy asks him if everything really is green he replies no more green than any other place. The enemy will use fears, lies, things and/or people to help (often they don't even know it) to deceive you and have you believing that here is no key or way to live without these chains. But God has the key and you most definitely don't deserve any fear or other lie. You deserve to see yourself for who you and how you are. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Loved. Free. Now hopefully you have found that key and had he locks and chains broken. Sometimes you got to get new glasses. There are times we break free from fears but still hang on to just a little bit of that fear that we think may be true or we unintentionally get a hold of just a little bit of a fear or lie again. Those just in case moments, I still need to protect myself moments or I don't quite completely trust you God with this moment. Old ways of thinking leave no room for truth to even be planted. And if you get it planted lies, fears or a storm  can overpower that seed of truth and prevent it from growing. Wearing an old prescription of glasses for to long can put a strain on your eyes and you just can't see like you should. That's the way old ways of thinking can be - it can even keep you stuck in your comfort zone. If I hang on with everything I have in me to the old glasses or old thinking I'll keep building the walls back up. I'll be wearing glasses with green lenses and are locked on. Now some glasses have transition lenses and will change shade in different lighting. This kind of transition I don't have to do anything but the glasses will change due to the light of the sun. In life you have transitions or growing. Some may be easy and some may feel like they are going to end you. In all of them but especially those that are proving to be a difficult hill in the race hold on to God and His truth and promises. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph tells his brothers you meant evil against me but God meant it for good. Some events in people's life will seem like it has or will destroy you that you have been left and forgotten in the pit but God hasn't left or forgotten, He's taking you to the palace. With any pair of glasses  I have I can't be careless with them. I have to clean them and there is always that one little spot that just doesn't want to leave or looks so huge but is nothing when I take my glasses off to clean it away. Such is that fear (or two or three), that lie (maybe it's on repeat of you should just give up) or that trial that just seems like it will never leave. It keeps tripping you up. Never stop fighting. Cause if I never clean my glasses the spot definitely won't go away. Sometimes I am wearing a shirt I can't use to clean my glasses or no cloth to use and I have to ask for help. We aren't made to face the battles alone but with God and with the people He places in our lives. With each attack of those lies fight back with the truth of who you are to and with God, how far you have made it not  how you messed up or how far you still have to go. At night I keep my glasses placed on a shelf next to me so I can blindly reach and get them in the mornings or during he night if I need them. In life I need to make sure to take care of my thoughts, weeding out the lies and planting truth, surrounding myself with people that help me grow and are a positive influence. I got to make sure I am not holding on for dear life to the fears and lies or pushing people or God away. And always even when it seems pointless (just another lie) always hold on to God . Because when I take my glasses off I still feel like I have them on. That's kind of like the presence of God it may seem like He isn't near or listening when the storms and trials knock our glasses off or knock us down but if you can just hang on to that hope and listen He really truly is there. If you can quiet the  chaos and lies and remember just one truth like God will never leave nor forsake you then soon you can start to get back up. And will have a moment of I really am okay, God has me and will see me through this. When I can't see or even when I think I am seeing perfectly or when fears, lies or trials are closing in God will be there to lead, guide, and direct my steps if I let Him. Because the green colored glasses have been removed and like the song I'm Still Here by Mandisa says:  Hope is rising, waking up my soul all my broken, turning beautiful. Cause I feel my heart  beating and my lungs  breathing. Guess my God's not done with me yet cause I'm still here all my yesterdays are gone and the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Garden of Life

Have you ever been talking to someone and they give you a little nugget of advice and whether they intended for it to or not it hits on so very many levels? I had one of those moments the other day. To try to help this make a bit of sense I have been trying to learn pyrography, or wood burning, and I had said that if you could see the pieces in person that you could see mistakes that I have made on them. Then they said don't look for mistakes look at how far you've come (for the record if you are reading this, I owe you another hug for that). Because you see I tend to quite often get trapped and/or stuck in this fear and lie that causes me to focus on my mistakes and I forget to look at how far I have come. Forgive me because from here on it's probably going to go all over the place but you know that fear and lie that you have to be perfect, you have to do good works and earn people's friendships and for me I thought I had to earn God's love and forgiveness that I had to be a certain age and to do so many good things before God would even think about forgiving or loving me but a little more on that later on. Those lies and fears that get latched on and can suck the life out of you, literally, figuratively, spiritually, emotionally, physically and any other kind -lly there is. I recently got to see MercyMe in concert and Bart, the lead singer was talking about how he had grew up thinking he had to be and act certain ways and he had to keep doing works to earn God's love and that he had to be perfect and he talked about how he realized that was wrong and how in the past five years he has finally come to realize God loved him no matter what and kind of who God is and who he is to God. Distracted thought but have you ever been talking to someone, be it someone you've known for a long time or a stranger in the grocery store, and they just so happen to share part of their story or they add a little bit to a chapter of their story. I think that's so cool when people do that because you're getting a glimpse of who they are and maybe of what helped shape them into who they are. I've heard some  people's stories and I think no way, you went through that, I would've never guessed or the get out, you went through that too. To me no matter how big or little or important you may or may not think your story is if anyone ever shares any part of their story with me, I consider it an honor that you are willing to share because personally I struggle to be open enough to share any part of my story, to trust anyone with it so I'll listen wholeheartedly to anyone's story. Whether I've been through anything similar or not we can all always learn something from each other's story. But when He was talking about just now understanding who God is I could relate - there is a line from their song, Wishful Thinking, that says: Lord is it possible to get this far and just now understand who You are? I'm feeling foolish yet relieved as well  cause what I bought before, I just can’t sell...Because though I still am sometimes struggling with who God is and who I am to God in the past two or three years I have really started to understand that. I think I may have wrote this before but growing up because of certain circumstances and to some degree in my own way of thinking I was protecting myself I began to think and truly believe that God hated me, that I somehow kept doing things that was making God mad and that's why things kept happening and I thought I had to say and do things certain ways and I had to earn back God's love. I even had and to be honest still sometimes struggle with this fear that God will leave and forsake me.  I have a really weird way of understanding and sometimes even seeing things. Often I'll have random words and images pop in my head that somehow end up eventually making something I'm going through make a bit more sense. Over the years God has placed people in my life that have helped me also make my way through the thorns and vines of lies that had grown up. He also seems to use music and so many other things. One of them being the somewhat controversial movie The Shack. specifically when Mack meets Papa and He appears as a black woman and tells him I didn't think you could use a father figure right now. Some seem to have trouble with this but here's my take on it, not that it counts for anything but one God is so very many things that it would take a lifetime to even scratch the surface and there's not enough words in all of the languages combined to even remotely come close to explaining who He is. See growing up and a good chunck of my adult life I thought God was up there arms crossed disappointed in me at any moment going to turn His back and leave but now I'm getting that He loves me even when I mess up, he is comfort peace, joy, and so very much more. So when Papa shows up to Mack as a black woman that meant a lot to me because to me that represented protection, comfort, peace, and help. Even when Mack was sitting there and just being flat out honest with how he felt about certain circumstances that took place in His life, Papa didn't get mad and accuse Mack of all the things he didn't do or messed up on, he didn't walk away, He listened and ultimately explained and answered the accusations and questions Mack had. For me at least for some reason I have always been afraid to be honest with God and the times I was I was scared to death that I had messed up, well now God will never want to have anything to do with me again but it's the farthest thing from the truth. I saw a thing that stated don't rush things that need or take time to grow. I think people are like that. We somehow have this timetable of you're supposed to reach certain goals and things in life at or by a certain age. According to this timetable I am way off on every single thing and I am perfectly okay with that. Haven't always been because I look at it like a flower garden. Sometimes circumstances in life come along and delay the preparation of the ground, sometimes wrong seeds get planted and when they start growing you realize that is not what you wanted to plant so you got to dig it up and prepare the ground again and plant the right seed. Sometimes people and other circumstances come along just when the flowers are really growing and this is just going to be a beautiful garden and they walk all over the flowers and they seemingly completely and utterly destroy the garden. And sometimes at this point you just want to give up you may even sit down awhile and not work on the garden for some time it may even end up being so long that vines and thorns so taking over and when you do get back to working on the garden you got to face some things and dig up some things that will hurt, those thorns will cut and those vines will cause some blisters but you realize that those vines and thorns or fears, lies, hurts was never ever supposed to be a part of your garden and those cuts and blisters do truly heal. So you keep on keeping on and you replant the seeds. Sometimes you have a friend come along that helps you pull up the weeds, helps you water the flowers and will just sit with you to help you see how far the flowers have come along. Because there are times and that we think things aren't growing fast enough aren't happening at the right time and there are times that others not purposefully meaning anything by it I don't think but they will make it seem like you or your flower garden isn't growing or near what it should be. Which is why one should always be careful of who they let in to help and/or see their garden if you will. I'm slowly realizing that it's not how big your garden is or how fast it has grown that makes it something amazing to look at. Because when many people look at my garden they probably just see a mess but I see something that has seen a fair share of wrong seeds planted and taken root for a really long time,  where storms tried to completely destroy the garden and there are spots that still have some thorns and vines some spots where some seeds need to be planted but I am a bit hesitant and afraid to plant them, some areas where flowers are blooming and even some trees are taking root. It might not be growing as fast as I or even others like or think it should but my garden known as me as went through some stuff that was meant to destroy it but it's coming out better and for the flowers and trees left to grow, I'm not going to rush but will take the time to do what is needed to help them grow. And I won't look for any mistakes in my garden but focus on how far it has made it and continue to help do my part in making sure it grows and gets the right seeds planted all while also being very thankful and appreciative of the people that God has placed in my life to help me continue to grow.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Letters


It has been a while but this post is largely due to this book I got today, and have finished reading, called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It has been awhile since I have read a book to spark an idea to write something here. To be honest it has been a while since I have really read little alone finished a book. Not for lack of trying but I just couldn't read and I do love to read. Then I found this book today (and four others, I don't lie when I say I can't go to bookstores without someone willing to say that's enough books time to go!).

Onto the book, it was one of those just caught my attention not sure why books. I read the summary, flipped through the pages and discovered the whole book was letters. A book and the whole thing is written like letters to and from various characters. It was quickly settled that book was going home with me and not back on the shelf.

Bit of a background it's set in mid forties just after then end of World War II and Juliet is writing letters to her publisher and a few other people then gets a letter from a man in Guernsey who happens to mention a society he belongs to. This begins correspondence between Dawsey and several people from the society and the Island. Juliet is an author (only my dream career, that and photography) and is my age and has naturally curly hair ( I laughed at this line from the book - Naturally curly hair is a curse, and don't ever let anyone tell you different...I have days where I wholeheartedly agree with that!). It's probably a weird habit to have but when I see letters written in books I always check the date if it's included just to see if it happens to be on my birthday because I just think it's really neat when that happens. Alas, close but no letter written on my birthday in this book.

I love letters, I think there is just something about getting a letter or card from someone. It's like a gift in and of itself. The person took time to sit and write a note or if it's a card took time to find that just right card and then add their own little note to it. And in this fast paced world I am thankful for text messages and FB messenger because that helps me keep in contact with people I don't get to see in person very often so I am not knocking those ways to keep in touch. You know what I noticed in the letters written in the book, how it is with letters written in real life and even in conversations - we all have a story and are more alike in ways than people seem to grasp. In the book someone would mention something that happened growing up or get talking a lot about a subject only to apologize for going on to long on that only for the person to reply with a story of how they did something similar growing up and to appreciate the person's enthusiasm on the subject. I think I like writing letters or sending messages for a couple of reasons: it allows me to say what I want without being interrupted and I can say far more than I may get the chance or time to in person and with dare I say a bit more honesty. I have the time to think of how to say what I want sometimes in talking in person I don't get that chance before the subject is already changed. For you really do have to have a lot of patience and be ready to say what a lot when I do get to talk. With the exception of those rare people that if it's just them and me I could talk a lot or sit with them in silence and still say a lot. I think sometimes in talking or reading we sometimes miss those little moments of something really important people are telling about themselves. I was reading a devotional today and it actually talked about that and they called it a heart-drop. I love that and the writer of this went on to say A heart-drop is when a person, either directly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into their heart. It may be through actual words, or you might pick up on a feeling, perhaps sadness or loneliness...God uses people to hear the cries of other people and respond with sincere love and care, to reach out and hearten another soul. If we will only learn to pay attention, to live alert...Hearing a heart-drop is an art we must lovingly cultivate. It can lead to the most wonderful times of encouragement as we make it our habit to listen and to love. (- from devotion 'How To Hear A Heart-Drop' on Proverbs 31 Ministries). Sometimes in the hustle and bustle we miss those heart drops but maybe a letter or card can be used as a way for someone to let a heart-drop be known and sometimes we can use a letter or card (or email) to encourage them. The cool thing about the letters is how strangers became friends and how friends stayed in touch even living a distance away from each other. I loved in one letter Juliet writes to her publisher about the people of the society saying in part how she wants to be adopted by one of the women in the group and how she wants to adopt another. Which I also think is cool in real life how people just get placed in your life at the right time and all. Those people that just take you under their wings and help in more ways than I think they may ever realize and then those people that you just want to take under your wings and protect them and help them and just be around like those people you do want to just say will you adopt me?! I just love this story and the characters. I love how it reminded me how we can learn so much from people and how much we can mean to them by just taking the time to listen, remembering that little detail that we thought no one was paying attention to when we was talking (or writing) about. That moment of oh wow you listened and you just want to hug them because it just means that much. Lastly, does anyone know how to get to Guernsey?!

One last quote from the book:

That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you into a third book

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Knocked Down but Not Knocked Out

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.... - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Kind of a fitting verse since we're less than two weeks away from spring to which I say, thank God, I am so ready to see the colors of the leaves back on the trees and the flowers and the pretty days to go walking in the woods lost in the sounds of the birds and animals. I like to think part of those sounds are them saying, 'Whoo! We made it through the winter. We survived.' No matter how mild or severe the weather may have been that winter. And I think that applies to the seasons we go through in life. I don't know about you but some seasons though I know it is mild and will pass I really have my moments of doubt that I will make it. That's just those sneaky lies and fears talking. In my visual way of thinking and understanding things it's like I am walking down this hallway and it could start out okay, no obstacles and then suddenly all the doors open and people come rushing out of the rooms and crowd the hallway so that I can't see where I was heading and I can't get them to move out of my way so I can get where I want to go, where I am supposed to be. Those people are the lies and fears and the baggage that has never been mine to carry. I am trying to keep pressing through but they are pushing back. Now here's where I struggle in a lot of areas one and the biggest is that I try to do it all by myself. I can't. I have to learn to trust and lean on and rely on God and that it's also okay to ask others for help and let them help carry the load or in this case help push some of those people out of the way. Cause those people in that hallway, they are armed and ready for battle, they ain't playing. There is another area I need to work on cause I don't always check my armor to make sure it's still in good shape, I don't always even wear it. Sometimes I forget it, sometimes I think oh it's not that bad I got it I don't need to wear my armor. You'd think by now I would learn that is wrong. I am getting there and I am at the point where I am getting my armor back on and fixing the holes and places where I have let it get wore out. Now let me tell on myself a little bit, so recently I very much found myself in the middle of this hallway and I had gotten pushed down. And I was trying to pray my way through but I did start out a little better than I usually do in that I tried to reach out to someone but when they was willing to help I stupidly reverted back to listening to those lies and fears that was surrounding me in the hallway and tried to push people away. Not gonna lie I thought at one point I really had succeeded in pushing them away. Which worried me cause I didn't want that to happen. So I had a moment where, one of those where you have found just enough fight because you know trying to walk through this hallway it can wear you out and sometimes wear you out quickly. But I found just enough to have my shut up, just shut up and it quieted the voices just enough so I didn't have my breakdown at that moment and that I could still try not to dig the hole deeper but try to get out. It was also at this point that I realized if I didn't succeed in pushing them away I needed to talk. I needed help cause I had gotten knocked down, and it was a pretty hard push and the lies and fears was crowding in not leaving me any room to let me be able to get back up. That's how it felt anyway. You know it's kind of like the buddy system, I've overheard groups of kids or people and they will ask the kids have you got your buddy. As I always say, I go to and rely on God first but to be honest there are times where I may feel like my prayers aren't getting through, or I just find myself in that hallway overwhelmed and honestly I forget to pray. Here's my problem when things happen I shut down and I shut people out. That's the honest to goodness truth. But thankfully I am learning I can't do it alone and thankfully God is always there and He has placed people in my life that have seriously amazing patience and won't let me push them away and stick around to help me get through the hallway. Cause I really don't want to go back in the cocoon, I really do want to fly. But I said all that to get to this which is that for everything there is a season and a purpose. Just like even right now you can see signs of leaves coming back flowers breaking through the ground, the song of the birds. I love spring (autumn is a very, very close second) because spring to me means hope and reminds me every year that though it got cold, it was gray and bleak looking, the season passed and the beauty and life came back to the flowers and trees and every year it seems more beautiful and worth the wait. So I don't know how long the season may last for what you are going through I don't know how long it will take for me to get through this hallway but we'll make it, eh? I may have to reach out a lot to those that are willing to lend a hand to help me and remind me that God is there and they are there to help too. Because we may get knocked down and what knocked us down may think they have won but we're not knocked out, may feel close but we'll get back up. May be staggering for a bit getting my footing back up but I'm getting back up. I got some flying to do. And I am going to soar!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Just a-thinking and a-writing

I was reading a blog post from Billy Coffey the other day and there was a particular line that stuck out that essentially said that  life is just like every good story in that the beginning is important but the ending is everything. I really liked that cause I am not sure I really thought of it quite like that before. Putting it like that puts it in a whole new perspective. Sometimes, at least for my story, I let the beginning hinder a lot of my later chapters. Even knowing what I know now I wouldn't change any of the previous chapters even if it was possible. I am quickly approaching the end of my chapter 32 with roughly 57 days or pages left in this chapter. Now I don't know how many chapters are in my book or what is going to happen in any of those chapters. A couple or so years ago I read a post, ironically it was also from Billy Coffey and it was about this woman that was smiling at people as she walked down the street, adding money to a meter so someone wouldn't get a ticket, just a taking a minute to acknowledge those she passed. In that post he wrote about the impact she was making and essentially leaving on those people but she didn't had no clue because she didn't look back and see the smile that was still on the persons face or the look of bewilderment of wow someone I don't even know cared enough to say hello or no doubt the look of relief and possibly confusion from the person that thought for sure they was going to have a ticket from a meter that run out of time. And I still love that because apparently I have this weird fascination and amazement at how such simple things can make an impact on people and how that can help remind someone that they matter. I don't know why but that is such an important thing to me, that people know they matter. Earlier I wrote about the ending being everything and I think when you say that people automatically go to the ultimate ending where you take your last breath but there are also so many other endings, to seasons to chapters be it the ones where we grow another year older or a job or relationship, etc. Because even with those the beginnings are important but the ending to each of those is everything even when they may not end how we wanted because given enough time you can look back and see how those puzzle pieces worked to get to the piece you are on now or one you are on your way to. A bad chapter doesn't end a story or ruin it sometimes it leads to one of the best written chapters, one so amazingly amazing you would have never thought about writing it like that. And you know often times I think we meet people like that woman in passing that just says or smiles at us at the right time and sometimes, to steal a phrase that someone has told me, God knits people together. And I think both of those kinds of people are awesome. It's like God saying hey I see you are having a bad day let me put this stranger in your path to smile or say something to lift you up a bit and sometimes He sees you need a bit longer of a visit with people so he lets you meet and know people who become friends and so much more. Those people that even though I worry I talk way to much to and they get tired of me I am finally comfortable to talk to someone about stuff that I haven't ever really been able to talk to anyone about. Those people that remind you of things you forget, or put things in a perspective that you never would have seen, or just simply say I understand and I have my oh thank God finally someone gets it - no you should look at it like this or whatever just a simple I understand how you feel. Oftentimes my brain feels like it's going 100mph in a fog on a road that I'm not sure what kind of turn lies ahead. And ultimately it's up to me to get back up but sometimes it's needed and much appreciated to have those people that simply smile at you passing or sit with you or whatever the thing is that they may do but they take the time to do it or say it and help. Because there have been several times that in the beginning of my chapters and story in general I didn't think I was going to make it, sure didn't think I would make it this far, but here I am a few scars and a few, no a lot of stumbles along the way, but nonetheless here I am. You know I think chapter 32 may just be my favorite so far. Some may say why are you dating someone, get married, etc? Nope, none of those but I did finally start to find me, the me that has so long hid behind walls and behind lies of who I thought I was, who others say I am and what society said I should be. And I have some of the best people in my life who whether you know it or not have helped me in so many ways and helped me get up when I'm not even sure you knew I was down (well a couple of y'all know with your ninja skills and all even when I try to hide it). So as important as the beginning is to any story or chapter don't settle or think that's all there is because who knows what is on the next page or in the next chapter. The ending truly is everything and what is written in between the beginning and the end helps make sure that the ending is epic.

I'll never be a non-stumbler. I'll be a forgiven stumbler, but never a non-stumbler. - TobyMac