Friday, March 18, 2011

Little Bits Of Joy

Okay so I know my last post was probably incredibly depressing as I got a lot of texts and emails regarding it. I'm sorry about that, but blogging has been very therapeutic I've found. I woke up the next morning and already had just a little more peace then the day before. I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers. ☺

This week, my husband and I decided we needed to go out on a mini date just to clear our heads and try to just hear each others thoughts. So, an amazing friend of mine that I have only now known for about a year and her fiance watched the kids while we went out. She is not a mommy yet herself, but I am not kidding this gal is one of the most natural moms I have ever seen to this day. The kids absolutely adore her and her hubby-to-be. The even more exciting part is that this couple, whom we are proud to call good friends, have asked my husband to marry them next month. What an honor. My husband was just about brought to tears when they asked him, and actually they said that they would not have anyone else do it. It just reminds me that amidst trial and suffering as long as we are open to look, we can still find little bits of joy all around us. Thank you Lord.

So back to mini date night. My husband and I went out and got a lovely margarita and some tacos at a favorite spot. It is always such a strange feeling walking into a restaurant holding my husband's hand as opposed to a tiny two year old hand and we seem to always have to work hard to not only talk about the kids when we are out. It's always a fun challenge. After dinner, our date night brought us none other than grocery shopping. I know this sounds so silly, but we knew this was something that we needed to do, and honestly, just getting out and doing anything together was all we cared about. So Albertsons happened to be the store of choice.

We walked in and my husband took charge of the cart and I grabbed a box of cereal and was about to throw it in when he promptly stopped me. His next comment took me by surprise as he informed me that he was in charge of loading the cart and I was only allowed to hand him items. I absolutely cracked up and gave him a look of utter confusion. He then went on to explain to me that he needs to be the one to organize the cart and that he has seen how I load a cart and basically, my skills just won't do. WOW. In four years of marriage I don't think we had been grocery shopping together more than maybe a handful of times and here I was learning something new about my husband! I loved it. Let me tell you, he is ridiculous when it comes to loading a shopping cart! He then informed me that he sees how I load the dishwasher and that's bad enough. I have to explain that he was not telling me in a degrading way, and I didn't take it that way. It was a very serious comment made in a very funny way. I found it hysterical. Oh the little joys. I had no idea for four years of marriage that I had a shopping cart Nazi of a husband. 

So there we were taking our time shopping on our date night. I merely spoke things into the cart and he handled the rest. We even had discussions on oatmeal brands, his hate for pretzels, and I learned that he only will buy one kind of hotdog. It was quite the date night.

After shopping we headed home to release our friends from duty and I just took in the night. I loved getting away from the stress of life as we know it and just going back to the two of us. We were able to talk through the tough stuff and then just be goofballs that we are and enjoy spending time with each other. Little bits of joy. That was my lesson. Life is going to be filled with ups and downs and some of the downs are easily so tough that joy is literally impossible to see. But you have to be willing to look. To not give up. I love this verse on joy... "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5:11.

It's funny because as I'm thinking back to getting off Facebook only a few months ago, I find it very interesting timing. I felt the Lord telling me to separate myself from Facebook and put my focus on Him just in time for a major trial to enter my life. Like I have mentioned, I don't believe in coincidence. I believe the Lord has been preparing my heart and how awesome is that. Talk about a bit of joy.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33. ♥

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ugly to Beautiful

Today ended, without a doubt, one of the toughest weeks of my life so far. All week I thought of blogging and didn't know where I would start or what I would write about. Finding one positive thing to blog about was far too hard of a task at a time so bleak. I hope you all can respect me not going into detail about my situation, because let me tell you, it would take far longer than one post to explain, and secondly, I think the Lord has been teaching me a very important lesson recently and that is to guard my heart. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." 

Without going into details, I think I can basically explain that my life as I knew it was hit with a major curve ball. Now that is something I think everyone can relate to. Curve balls... basically they come out of nowhere and usually you are not prepared to bat at them. Instead an emotional response is usually the first to come about and let me tell you, that's what happened.

Amidst this time of extreme trial, my husband reminded me of something absolutely vital. My husband explained to me that for Jesus, turning ugly things into beautiful things is's like breathing. When he sees something ugly He says, "how can I make that beautiful again?"  I've been holding on to this truth and trying to not get overly anxious, worried or defeated. But in my human nature it's a constant battle.

My husband's father passed away a little over a year ago. It was December 10th of 2009. I still remember the pain and despair like it was yesterday. We found out that my father-in-law had cancer on Tuesday morning, the 8th of December and literally two days later we were planning a funeral. It was the most mind boggling turn of events. We barely got to wrap our head around the fact that he had cancer and then two days later my husband got a call while at work and was told his father had 24-48 hours left to live. He died that evening. Talk about a major curve ball... to be honest I don't even like calling it a curve ball really because these types of situations are far too serious to be labeled with a term so casual.

Now it has been 15 months since the loss of my husband's father and we still have a broken heart, but the healing process has come a long way. The loss of someone close to you has to be one of the toughest situations a person can go through, yet the fact of the matter is that we are all going to experience it. It goes along with the fact that we all are living in a fallen world. Sin is all around us, pain and suffering is all around us. There is nothing we can do to escape it, but we do have a choice of how we respond to it.

In the last week I did not deal with a death, but the pain felt like it and still does. I turned to the word last Monday and fasted all day in hopes to try to ask God to reveal Himself and give me some wisdom. I learned a lot that day. Definitely not everything, that's for sure, but a small glimpse. The Lord kept directing me back to Proverbs and also to a verse in 2 Timothy. A few verses stood out and I will share them with you in hopes that maybe they may mean something to you as well.

"Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance." Proverbs 20:18.

"All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart." Proverbs 21:2.

"All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord." Proverbs 16:2.

"For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7. 

I was also reminded of the story of Moses. Moses, for those of you who don't know his story, well he was a man that reacted. My study bible explains that throughout his life, he was at his finest and at his worst in responding to the conflicts around him. At one point in his life he actually fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian in defense of a fellow Israelite. Fleeing after this murder was a selfish move to save his own life, but as I have learned, God even fits our mistakes into his plan. When Moses fled God used this opportunity to start training Moses up. Moses' character began to change and although he didn't stop reacting to situations around him, he started learning how to react correctly. Don't get me wrong, even as Moses' character was being changed he still made mistakes. Personal greatness does not make a person immune to error or its consequences. No one becomes perfect because of following the Lord. In fact, in most cases more trials come upon us because of doing so. But back to Moses... God ended up using Moses to go back to Egypt and rescue all his people from slavery. He ended up being one of the greatest prophets and even was the one to record the Ten Commandments.

I think Moses' story is so encouraging. It reminds me that we are all going to make mistakes and that God can still fit those into his plan. I'm sure that the Lord looks down and sees all of us screw up all the time and must think to Himself that gosh, if we only made the "right" decision he wouldn't have to push the remap on the GPS all the time. The funny thing is that He already knows we are going to blow it and he is ready to re chart our path if you will. He makes it work into his plan. And in regards to tragedy that is outside our own control, well the same principles apply. Jesus is waiting to turn the ugly into something beautiful again. We must not forget though that our time line and God's time line are two very different things. God's time line is life-sized. ♥

Friday, March 4, 2011

Just One Sentence

It's been just about two months now since signing off the good ol' Facebook land. I think my zeal for no longer being a slave to the site has now settled. I do a few less cartwheels out of excitement, and haven't actually had a conversation about not being on Facebook in a little while now. I like this point. I feel like a weird chapter of my life has closed. I kind of went to battle to work on that part of my life and I feel good about where I'm at. Not a prideful good, just a peace if you will. It's like the desire is just gone. Thank you Lord.

I got a text last night from a friend of mine and it read: "ok I have officially followed in your footsteps... no facebook for me either!" She chose to get off Facebook for many of the same reasons I did. She told me that she was done with being a slave to it. That was the perfect expression. That's how I used to feel. So I stole her line for the beginning of this post. I love it when I see people make changes. I think change can be absolutely awesome and I wish her the best on her new journey.☺

Onto another subject, last weekend the pastor of my church, yes here I go talking about church again, did an awesome sermon as we are continuing to study the 10 commandments. Just so you all know, if you think the 10 commandments are outdated, oh man, I encourage you to check out a few of the sermons online from the past several weeks. I can certainly attest that they are in no way outdated. Anyways, a good portion of the sermon last weekend was talking about the idea of what our lives bear witness too. My pastor used a great example and explained that if you were to ask your five closest friends what your life bears witness to, or what you were all about, what would they say? Kind of like the question of when we die what is the one sentence that will sum up our lives. Wow. Not something I think about everyday.

My pastor encouraged us to decide on a truth and base our life around it. Kind of like write out that sentence now and make the choice to live to achieve it. I thought that was such an awesome idea. I love setting goals and achieving them. I think it goes back to my days growing up as a competitive gymnast. I had a coach that was all about goals. We had to write them out, I believe monthly, if I remember correctly. At first the process seemed tedious, but I grew to like it. When I coached high school gymnastics I also had my girls do this. I had them write short term and long term goals and at the end of the season I would always pull them out and remind them where they had come from. Ever since then I've always set goals for myself. Maybe not always in writing, and definitely not monthly, but I've always felt if I didn't have a goal or an idea of what I was working towards then what would be my purpose? Now those things have changed from learning a new skill in the gym to growing closer to God, helping others, bettering my parenting, being a Proverbs 31 wife (haha got a LONG way to go!) among others.

So I did write down my sentence. It was kind of scary in a way because an underlying fear in writing goals is well...what if we don't achieve them? Then what? Are we a failure? I remember in gymnastics I would feel silly writing a lofty goal down at first. I almost would even talk myself out of it! You can't do that... who do you think you are? That's WAY too hard... you aren't strong enough.. etc. The lies can go on forever and as soon as we start putting our faith in those lies it's done.

The same coach that made me write goals, I also remember for another very interesting activity. He made us all write down on a piece of paper "I CAN'T." The whole team put all of our I CAN'Ts in a shoe box and we had somewhat of a ceremonial burial. Yup, we buried the box of I CAN'Ts. From that day forward we were not allowed to use the words "I CAN'T." We could replace them with, "I'LL TRY," among other positive things. I bet that coach had no idea that 15 years later I would still remember that incident.

As I think over the I CAN'T burial, I remember something my parents told me as well. They will be happily married for 30 years at the end of this month and you can be sure that I will be using things they have taught me over the years many times in my posts. My husband and I just hit 4 years and we were so excited, but 30 years.. amazing... In our society, that's a darn good record. Growing up, whenever we got on the subject of them being married for so long and what made it work, they of course mentioned that the marriage had God at the center, but they also mentioned that they made a decision long ago that they would never use the D word. Divorce. I found that fascinating. It's like at the beginning of their marriage they buried that word. I absolutely love that idea and gladly stole it from them. ☺

This reminds me of the passage in Luke 6:45 that reads: "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." If we give breath to these words like "divorce" and "I can't" it will be so much easier for them to become truths. 

Speaking of goals, I have another little goal that I set at the beginning of the year...well, my sister half way set it for me, but we decided to sign up for the mud run in June. Let me just tell you that I have never been a good runner. No matter how many back handsprings I can still do, I have never been able to run. I honestly don't think I could run a mile right now if you told me I would never have to do another load of laundry again if I did. Okay, maybe I could if I honestly never would have to do another load of laundry... but I think you understand what I'm saying here. haha. Notice I am carefully writing this as to not say "I can't." haha. Endurance has not ever been a strong point for me. There. That sums it up. Anyways, this little mud run in June is a 10K. Once again as I told my sister I would do it I laughed at myself a bit because wow, that was one lofty goal. I had 6 months to get ready. Well, let me just confess that the closest I have done to starting to train for this race is by downloading the Couch To 5K app on my iPhone. Yup. Ran my fingers around a bit and that's it. Oh, and didn't I mention this is a 10K, not a 5... haha. Gotta start somewhere.

The race is set for June 5. Exactly 3 months from tomorrow and I am determined to be ready. This blog post is me writing my sentence. Now I have every reader out there to hold me accountable. Yes, I'm scared, but I'm going to choose to not let the thoughts take me captive that I am totally crazy. I thank you for reading and keeping me accountable... and I encourage you to ask yourself.. what truth are you basing your own life around? What is your one sentence? ♥