Friday, August 18, 2017

...who fights this battle?

What is going on?
I don’t understand this, God.
I thought I had moved past being so strongly affected by circumstances around me.

I guess not.

I thought I had reached a point where I could reach out and comfort and help families who had lost loved ones or faced difficult situations. I thought maybe I’d now know what to say, how to comfort others as I have been comforted. I thought maybe I’d be better at seeing what needs are present and how to go about helping to meet those needs.

I guess not.

Because I’m over here huddled in the proverbial corner, unsure of how to help anyone around me who is hurting right now. I’m feeling their pain, yet I’m unsure of how to step in to aid them in carrying their heavy loads. I’m understanding there is a need, yet I’m unsure of how to go about meeting it.

I’m longing to reach out,
to bring encouragement,
to ease troubled minds,
to cheer sagging spirits,
to comfort grieving hearts,

What is WRONG with me??
I’m supposed to have “moved on” by now.
I’m supposed to have this all figured out by now.
I’m supposed to be in full swing ministry mode by now.

And sometimes, yeah. Sometimes, I CAN reach out.
But sometimes, I just…still…can’t.

This must be one of those times.
No, it’s not just an excuse.
It’s my reality.

It often happens that molehills for some people are mountains to me since I’m endeavoring to conquer them basically alone. It also often happens that at the same time I am over here trying to devise a strategy for smashing said mountain/molehill, several events occur in which other people important to me could benefit from my encouragement and help.

Yet I feel helpless.
I KNOW these crises situations are NOT about me and my needs.
I don’t WANT them to be about me.

This is when I find myself depending heavily on my Father’s resources once again.
This is when I find myself digging way down, searching for any self-discipline that might still be there.
This is when I find myself needing extra grace – grace extended when others don’t understand, and grace for myself when I feel I’ve failed someone once again.

None of this is new.
It has happened many times.
It’s just that…now I’m finding it harder to be okay with it happening.

I’m not sure ANY of this even makes any sense to anyone else.
It’s okay.
It doesn’t have to.
This is MY journey, after all.
No one else has to live it.
Or answer for it.

Just…please don’t judge it.
Because I am doing my best to hear God’s voice and follow His gentle leading.
Because I am doing my best to give regularly to others – through encouragement, comfort, time - understanding, sharing, listening…
Because I am doing my best to be all God has called me to be in this moment.

And sometimes I find I can’t go one step farther on my own.
And I must wait until God steps in and fills me back up, renewing my spirit before venturing out into that world of hurting people once again.

I will make it back out there. I will.

But for this moment, I might just be hiding a tiny bit longer.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

...feeling this way?

Sometimes my heart hurts in ways difficult to express. 
The sting becomes central to my focus when new challenges present themselves - challenges that I have and still do fear. 

This week has presented me with some of these challenges. 

To some of you, what challenged me this week would seem...almost laughable. 
Maybe because you've already faced that one over there and defeated it soundly. 
Maybe because one of the others never frightened you in the first place. 
Maybe because you didn't have to face any of those challenges alone. 

But they were fear-filled for me. In ways I cannot or do not have to explain to anyone else. 

I was very afraid. 
I am still somewhat uncertain. 
I'm not sure I know myself all of the reasons why. 

But here is what I DO know. 
  • I survived. 
  • My kids are okay. 
  • My fear might have taken control for a time, but it didn't win. 
  • I think my prayer for wisdom was granted. 
  • I hate facing these things alone. 
  • Fear makes me feel more alone than I am. 
  • Fear makes me feel inadequate and stupid. 
  • Fear makes me want to hide. 
  • The Bible says, "Perfect love casteth out fear." 

Maybe something is wrong with me. 
Because fear still happens. 
This week, I prayed, and still the fear encircled me...rumbling...stalking...

By God's grace, I was able to push through it and do what I needed to do.
I do believe God was with me the whole time and 
          paved the way for me even though I might not see it yet. 

I don't like adulting alone. Not. One. Bit. 
But. Life has to be...lived. 
And somehow, in spite of all the fear, guilt, weakness, and loneliness that sometimes     
         haunts me, life...still moves forward. 
Sometimes it just shoves me out of the way, trampling me into the dust. 
Sometimes it lures me to its adventurous side. 
Sometimes it goes on hand in hand with everyone else - leaving me behind, 
         unsure of how to join them. 

Sometimes I can feel God close by...whispering in my ear, leading me along life's path. 
Sometimes He feels so far away...but...He says He doesn't move...

Sometimes I long for something different...
Sometimes I don't want a single thing to change. 

Sometimes the challenges present me with opportunities for growth and I welcome them. 
Sometimes the challenges beat me down with reasons I am incapable of fulfilling this role     
         and I resent them.
Sometimes the challenges bully me with fear and I do all I can to avoid them. 

And often - oh, so very often - I miss the one with whom I was meant to share 
        all of these highs and lows; the one who - in another "life" - pulled me through and   
        cheered me on to victory.

When will the hurt ever end? 
Should it ever end? 
Maybe that's a question for another day.

Maybe for this day, I will endeavor to train my thoughts 
         toward being grateful. 
Grateful for the blessing of God's grace and His faithfulness to bring us through even the worst of moments to find joy on the other side. 

And maybe the fear will finally go away.

Friday, April 14, 2017

...who is remembering the ultimate sacrifice?

Maundy Thursday.
Good Friday.
Passion Week.

What do these days of remembrance bring to mind?

The prayer.
The betrayal.
The mocking.
The lies.
The pain.
The sacrifice.
The bloodshed.
The cruelty.
The tears.
The agony.
The walk.
The cross.
The finish.
The darkness.
The earthquake.
The fear.

The forgiveness!
The promise!
The curtain!
The fulfillment!
The love!
The love…that incredible love!

How do these make me feel?



Ready…for Easter Sunday morning!!
It is because of my Savior’s sacrifice that I have assurance of eternity in Heaven!
It is because of my Savior’s sacrifice that I have a way to God’s heart through prayer!
It is because of my Savior’s sacrifice that I have hope of seeing Michael once again!
It is because of my Savior’s sacrifice that I have lost the fear of death itself!
It is because of my Savior’s sacrifice that I can look with confidence into the future!
It is because of my Savior’s sacrifice that I can conquer each daily challenge!

It is because of my Savior’s sacrifice that I can sleep peacefully each night…
                                 He keeps His promises. All of them.

THIS is what these days mean to me.

This is why I can still find joy even on the toughest days.
This is why I can still feel peaceful though circumstances bring confusion or fear.

This is why I work to resist temptation.
This is why I keep God’s house a priority.
This is why I serve Him even when others may not understand.

I can’t let HIM down!
He gave His LIFE for me!
He deserves my ALL…my obedience…
                It is the least I can do.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

...who is confused?

I don't have time to write this.
I should be in bed. Because I'm so tired.

And you know what? I'm not tired because I worked super hard today.
Actually, on the whole, I accomplished very little.
I'm not tired because I'm sick.
Actually, I kind of wish I were. Then I would have a reason for not getting much accomplished.
I'm not tired because I've done some wonderful compassionate thing for a hurting soul somewhere.
Actually, I am wishing I had the emotional energy for that.

I'm tired because I haven't managed my time very well the past couple of days.
I haven't managed my time well because I'm feeling so overwhelmed.
I'm feeling super overwhelmed because I can't sort through the stuff in my head and
           on my to-do list in a way that makes it feel manageable.

I know.
That doesn't make sense to most of you. Maybe not to ANY of you.
But, as I've endeavored to explain to someone recently, it's my reality currently.
And I'm at a loss to know what to do to change this.

This is what I wrote to my friend the other day.
I do know that Michael is in a wonderful place and that we will join him someday. 
And I want you to know that I don't sit around in a state of depression all the time. 
No, for the most part, I AM able to feel joy and for the most part I AM at peace. 

But. There are times when many difficult responsibilities and concerns all come in on me at once. 
And often in those times, it's several things that Michael would have taken care of. 
So I find myself without a decision maker, 
a source of objective wisdom, 
a capable fixer, 
and a sounding board. 

I don't know HOW to take care of some of these things and struggle to find someone who is willing to help with those particular tasks. 

I might know how in other cases, but I'm still working on knowing how to make good decisions. 

I find it very difficult to trust my decision making ability. 
Because I've made many decisions that have ended up NOT being the right ones. 
Sometimes those have cost me money. I get confused sometimes when I have to make snap decisions. 

That wouldn't have happened to Michael. He never would have wasted a penny. 
So then I begin to doubt my ability to do this alone. 
It's a lonely frustration that adds to the overwhelming cloud already hanging over my head. 😣 

I try to tell someone else the specifics of my concerns and end up feeling stupid 
for not knowing how to manage them. So then it gets worse. 

Sometimes I ask for help and get a blank stare. I end up feeling as though everyone thinks, 
"Well, we manage our stuff and have to figure it out ourselves, so why can't you?" 

But I've not always had to DO it by myself. So I still don't KNOW all the ins and outs of everything. 
Does any of that make sense?

Add to the above the fact that my decisions do NOT only affect me, 
but also the four precious people I'm responsible for raising to successful adulthood.

Add to the above the fact that my life's goal right now is to fulfill that task to the best of my ability.
  But daily...DAILY I feel the weight of not being able to do all that would be of greatest benefit to
those souls in my care.

Add to the above the ready guilt that accompanies any time spent at the store or mall or 
social media where the world screams that I've not yet fulfilled my child's greatest wishes
or helped them reach their highest potential by providing them with this or that 
item, lesson, or experience.

Add to the above the difficulty I have had in finding my new place in society...
I lost my old well-defined role as wife to someone who was making a difference for God. 
What can I offer now?
Do I have anything of value to contribute to Kingdom work?
Because I know that's an important part of God's assignment for Christians.
Do I have anything of value that is worth marketing or sharing with others?
Because eventually I will need another source of income.
Do I have anything of value that I can offer in light of the many I know who are hurting deeply?
Because I long to help and show them how much I care and help lift their crazy-heavy loads.

But...I'm nobody.

I don't have an out-of-this-world musical talent.
I don't have a unique art style that sets me apart...I'm just a copycat.
I don't have mad gourmet kitchen skills...I cook for survival.
I don't have loads of wisdom to share via the stage or the printed page. 
I don't have wonderful mom/teacher hack ideas to post on Pinterest or Facebook.
I don't have Pinterest-inspired house décor.
I don't have a child prodigy in my bunch with whom to wow the world.

I often don't even have the common sense to figure out what to do next let alone help anyone else.

Who AM I, anyway?

And...why has God called me to this too-huge-for-me task?
The thought that runs rampant through my head is that 
Michael could have done this better than I.
And even more often is this thought that
ANYONE could pull this off better than I.

So. How to keep my thought processes right side up...

Maybe I'll start by reviewing what I would tell someone else to do - if they asked.
* Rest. Go to bed. Get some sleep. Things always look better after sufficient physical renewal.
* Remind yourself of your ultimate goal, your highest priority - Heaven at any cost.
* Relax. God only asked you to be you...not anyone else. (Not an original thought, BTW.)
* Refresh yourself. Eat right. Don't forget breakfast. It gets the day off to a rocky start.
* Rejuvenate through a bit of creative activity. Interestingly, it can jumpstart your motivation.
* Remember the things you have done over the past few days to help other people.
* Reevaluate your task list and see if anything can be delegated. Then...delegate it.
* Reprioritize said task list. the next thing. (Again...not original. Elisabeth Elliot)
* Release yourself from societal pressures. Maybe ignore you some social media?
* Renew your mind with God's Word and spiritually uplifting music while doing the above.
* Restart. It's a new day with new opportunities for growth, progress, and ministry.
* Resolve to do what you can, when you can, the best you can, then trust God for the rest.

I'm sure more could be added here. What came to your mind?

This is crazy.
I have honestly written this as I am thinking it out - with a random tweak here and there. 
Nothing was preplanned or preprocessed.
And it is changing my emotions, easing my panic, and refreshing my outlook.

I have told many of you faithful readers that this blog is a "unique monkey" -
(please don't ask me to explain that term! I have no idea where it came from! LOL!)
I don't write like this anywhere else. I don't know why I write like this here.
It has become a place where I process through what is happening in my heart, mind, and soul.
It takes the swirling, whirling, churning, burning thoughts and emotions and 
sets them down in a neatly controlled and orderly fashion.

The black and white words on this page, lined up and spaced just so, actually work to suck the power  
out of the storm of emotion, leaving me room to breathe normally again. do I feel now? Well...

* I'm still nobody - in the eyes of this world - but God knows where I am!

Lord, You have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me.
This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.
~ Psalm 139:1-6

* I'm still looking at a huge task list - but it's not the first God has helped me face and tackle.

"He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless."
~ Isaiah 40:29

"I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me."
~ Philippians 4:13

* I'm still carrying burdens for others - but I'm honored to walk this road with these precious friends.

"Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ...
Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all..."
~ Galatians 6:2, 10

"Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, 
should love believers, and be compassionate and humble..."
~ 1 Peter 3:8

And what do I plan to do? Hmmm...

I'll play, sing, and write music the best I can for God's glory,
use my art to bless other people and for therapy on the tough days,
cook basic but decent meals for my family,
share what God is teaching me with my virtual "kitchen table" guests (emails, messages, texts),
continue doing what works for me in keeping our household and homeschool running,
enjoy this wonderful home God has provided for us - and use it to bless others,
celebrate my wonderfully unique, compassionate, cheerful, and often wise children as the people
God created them to be, AND
see if I can learn from the common sense of my "pillar people" - my family, friends, mentors...

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory."
~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

Now it is time to put into practice what I would apparently preach.
I'm going to bed............

Still finding God faithful to help me sort through my messes,

P.S. Oh. Just realized that some of this might be worse because Michael's birthday is coming up in a few short days...maybe I'm not quite as nutty as I thought...