The Valley of Blessings

The Valley of Blessings

This is where I live, and it’s ok. Yes it’s in the valley where we struggle the most. But I’ve been told you’re either on your way out of the valley or on your way in. We never spend much time on the mountain top. And that’s ok too.

As long as I know I’m not alone once I get there, I know I’ll be ok. In fact, I praise God when I’m there, because I’ve also been told he is close to the broken hearted. So I would rather be broken with my savior in the valley, than be living the high life, alone.

Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance.  – 2 Chronicles 20:3

This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. – 2 Chronicles 20:15

Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. – 2 Chronicles 20:20

On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today. – 2 Chronicles 20:26

Advertisements

The Apology

Yesterday, I found myself sitting in my car yelling at some woman I have never met because she fed my son. Actually, that’s not why I was yelling at her, but it is something she does everyday.

I had lost it. I lost my patience. And then I hung up. It was ugly. I was ugly.

I was already having a bad day, a bad week actually. And I know I was being tested.

Things just kept happening.

I had to take my mom to two appointments. Take my kids to theirs. Go to mine. Schedule more for my mom. Try to coordinate with work what times I could take off. My AC broke. My AC broke again. My daughter gets sent home from school with a fever and can’t be sent back. There are fraudulent activities on my debit card.

And then there is this woman who was just trying to do her job. Who doesn’t understand the issues I have with my son. Who doesn’t know our history. Who just…just was a person I could lash out at instead of a thing that was making my life more difficult.

Satan, I’m sure loved that. I felt horrible. I felt horrible not because of all the crap that was happening around me or to me, but I felt horrible because of something I did, something I could have controlled.

The feeling festered inside of me. And even though people around me were telling me I was justified and I shouldn’t beat myself up over it; we all make mistakes, I felt… unworthy, I felt disgusted, I felt I let God down.

That’s exactly the feeling Satan wanted me to feel.

This morning I heard a faint whisper, it was faint but it was clear.

You could call, and apologize.

It wasn’t a command. It wasn’t a should.

It was just a suggestion, but as soon as I heard it, I knew it was right. I knew how to stop the self loathing, I knew how I could stand tall before the altar of God, again.

But I was scared! How can I do this? What will I say? What if she yells back at me?

Oh God, this is really something I need to do to make it right? I knew the answer.

Yes, I screwed up. Yes I am human. Yes, I am forgiven. But none of these made me feel any better about myself.

I picked up the phone. I called the school. I asked to speak to the cafeteria. And as the words fell from my mouth how deeply sorry I was for speaking to her the way I had, I became completely broken and I couldn’t keep my composure.

There was silence.

I was scared she was going to lash back at me for making her feel so bad. I deserved it. I was not Christ-like. I had misrepresented him. I should be ashamed. I was ashamed.

The pause broke, and I could feel her heart melt, as mine did, when she responded, “I am sorry, too.”

At that moment I felt the Grace of God, not only pour down onto me, but onto us, as we were lifted from this earthly realm, and risen to a heavenly state.

I felt Jesus today. I felt Holy; set apart. I felt transformed. I felt forgiven. I felt worthy. I felt loved.

LOVE ME, EVEN THOUGH I AM UNLOVABLE!

I felt God say, “I do.

Crown of Glory

So after a rough morning of wondering if I was really ready to continue letting my natural hair color grow in, a new friend encouraged me by stating; we need to change the thinking of people who believe grey hair is for the old, and we can’t do that unless we start changing how we are thinking too.

I never realized how emotional this was going to be! I started coloring my hair at 21 because of the remarks I would get. It is unbelievable what strangers will say to people they don’t know. So I let others shame me into hiding who I was.

I thought I was past that. Apparently, I’m not. But I am older now, no…I am wiser.

I hide myself from no one. I strive to live an authentic life, a transparent one, which often means, a vulnerable one; but also a free one. It is incredibly freeing to see myself as a grown woman for the first time.

I am no longer a child. I no longer need to think as a child. I have been given a crown of Glory (Proverbs 16:31), and I will wear it for as long as God will let me.

IMG_20180611_081816

My Favorite Day!

I have a message for all my friends!

All my friends who are struggling right now…

To my friends who don’t know how they are going to pay rent in a couple of days,

To my friends who have a loved one in the hospital,

To my friends who have lost a child,

To my friends who have lost their freedom,

To my friends who are stuck in an abusive relationship,

To my friends who struggle with their mental or physical health,

To my friends who can’t find a job,

To my friends who are moving from sofa to sofa,

To my friends who live in fear of the unknown…

TODAY IS GOOD FRIDAY!

It is my most favorite day!!

Today, the most important man who ever lived, died over 2000 years ago for me (and for you)!

No one else has ever done this for me. No one has ever sacrificed their life for me. No one has ever loved me THIS much. Even before I knew I was a sinner. Even before I knew I needed a savior…

I lived without hope. I found myself in a life I never expected or wanted. Not only did I feel trapped, I felt undeserving of anything else. I felt dirty. I felt the weight of the world. I felt responsible for every wrong doing. I had no worth. I was lost.

And before I even felt all this…a man took this all from me! He saved me! He gave me hope!

He LOVED me!!!

He loves you too, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet!

HE’S COMING BACK! I swear to you, I know this to be true.

And because he comes back, everything he said was true. He is the son of God (Matthew 3:17). He is the way, the truth, and the light. No one can come to the Father except through him (John 14:6).

So, although I don’t know how any of you are going to get through the day, I do know that you are loved (John 3:16). And that God sees you (Proverbs 15:3). He made you for his glory (Isaiah 43:7). He cherishes you (Psalm 139:13-16). He has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11). He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He is for you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

You will get through this! And not only will you survive this, you will become better, wiser and stronger. You are becoming your best you!

Today, Jesus died, and in three days he will be back. If he’s not, then call me crazy. But if he does, then fall to your knees and praise him. (I think I stole that from someone. Whoever it is, he’s much smarter than me. You should listen, cause he’s not wrong.)

God is good.

All the time.

I love you.

Better yet, JESUS LOVES YOU!

Going Nuts

I feel like I’m absolutely going insane. Hopper (my pastor and friend) once described me to Mike as an Australian Shepherd. They are a working dog. If you don’t give them a job, they will find one. 

I just hate sitting still. If I do, I feel I’m wasting time.

Why do I feel like this? I hate this. Well, I hate this, unless I have found something to do; then I love it! It brings me joy. Otherwise, it feels like I should be doing something.

Why was I made like this? I don’t think it’s bad. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it.

I always feel like there is something big out there that’s reserved for me to do, and I’m supposed to recruit others to come alongside me not to just do it, but continue doing it without me. But no one has.

Why is that? Is there a trait I haven’t developed yet? Is the timing just off? Am I practicing for something bigger?

Lord please help me with this. In between these big ideas you give me, I just go nuts!

All There is to Be, Unashamed

I remember the very first time I was prescribed an antidepressant. It was shortly, before my wedding in 1997.

It was Zoloft. I had already known I struggled with depression a great portion of my childhood. 

It just seemed like I always had it. There was no moment in time I can remember not feeling it. And the fact that I was feeling so much worse before what was supposed to be the most joyous day of my life made me feel even more depressed.

I don’t remember how long I had been taking it before I started to feel better, but it felt sudden. I noticed even my days where I felt physically bad, were still better than any other time before. Even my bad days were better.

Oh my gosh I felt good, no, I felt great! So much so that even when I noticed my face starting to break out, I didn’t care. But then it was getting worse. I wasn’t just breaking out, I was breaking out in hives and as my wedding day approached I decided to stop taking them.

I was warned not to, but being that it was only weeks before my wedding, I couldn’t imagine feeling any worse than having to take pictures on my day with hives all over my face.

After the wedding, my doctor changed me to Paxil, but it was never the same. I didn’t feel good, I didn’t feel bad, I just didn’t feel. I felt numb. And that was still better than feeling bad.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, I’ve been wanting to read, again. I’ve gone to the bookstore twice looking for something I feel would help me grow, or understand who I am, and both times were tough. 

I would read title after title, thinking, “I didn’t need that. I’m past that. That’s boring.” But I finally settled on one, Unashamed by Christine Caine.

Honestly it was the first book I picked up the second time I returned to the bookstore, but put it back down. I’ve gone through Healing From the Inside Out so many times, and facilitated it for years. I’m past this. I don’t feel shame anymore. But ultimately, it was exactly what I grabbed as I headed for the checkout lane.

Today I opened it, and it took me back to the first time I took an antidepressant. Yes, the first time I took it, I felt great! But eventually I just became numb. I don’t want to feel numb. That’s not enough. Even though I’ve done a lot of healing in the past… Maybe I can still feel better; be better.

I’m not even through the intro, and so many memories have flooded my mind. Memories that are attached to emotions I thought I’ve let go. Yes, I can honestly say I feel better about myself than I did ten years ago. My bad days are still better.

But maybe I’ve settled for feeling better. Maybe better isn’t good enough anymore. Maybe the reason I was so hesitant to pick up the book in the first place was because I didn’t want to admit that this is something I still struggle with.

After all I feel better. Life is better. Shouldn’t that be enough?

I think, not.

I’m anxiously awaiting this book to wonderfully wreck me. It’s time to feel all that it is to be, unashamed.

I will keep you posted.

 

Not Unnoticed

Last night, I dropped off four sleeping mats for the homeless. Of those four, I may have made one.

Tomorrow I’m dropping off, if I was to guess, around 200 crocheted hats to a shelter in Flagstaff. I’ve made none of those.

I went to pick up another bag of odds and ends, containing blankets and scarves to take as well, and I confided in my friend I feel disheartened.

I look at all I’ve collected and what I’ve done, or haven’t, and it makes me wonder what the heck I’ve been doing all year.

She reminded me of the project I’ve been working on for the Deaf/Blind community but I told her I didn’t think I should have turned my back on one community to help another.

I just don’t feel like I’m making a difference. I don’t see anyone changing. My goal is not just to help others, but to get others to help too. If I was successful at doing that, I could have moved on to another community without leaving one behind.

She hugged me, then encouraged me not to believe the lie I wasn’t making a difference.

(sigh)

This morning, as I was playing over all the emotions I felt last night, I was reminded of Job. He didn’t get to see what was going on behind his faithfulness, either.

It didn’t mean that his actions went unnoticed.

I need to remember this.