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.

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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.

My Sole Purpose

My son came to me, recently. “Hey Mom, remember when…?”

He proceeded to tell me story after story of the things he has done and I had no knowledge of. Some scared me. Some scared the hell out of me. My son is 15.

He’s not old enough to have a secret life.

My heart broke. The life I thought we had all lived, was still living, was a lie.

It has been almost two years now of being properly treated for the Pyrrole Disorder.

I don’t know if he was feeling guilty. I don’t know why he felt this was the time to reveal to me a hidden life I knew nothing about.

Maybe he wanted to share with me who he really is, or maybe who he really was. Maybe he finally felt free from his disorder that held him captive. Maybe he was shedding his skin to be transformed into the man he was designed to be. Maybe…I just don’t know.

Whatever his reason, I hope it served him well.

But I’ll tell you what his revelation did for me.

At one time, I was a single mom of four children, who never planned on having any children.

When his older brother was born, I had only practiced changing diapers on a friend’s child. I did not know how to care for a baby. I didn’t know their needs or wants. But I did the best I could.

Everyday, I did the best I could.

And I prayed.

God help me with this baby.

By the time I was pregnant with my third, I was doing this motherhood thing on my own. Thinking I had a clue about babies, but now I was doing it all on my own, and they’re getting older. I don’t know anything about raising kids. 

I was the oldest of two. I tried to keep my nose clean. My parents never had to spank me. A look would pierce my heart. Having to face any authority made me cry. I felt guilty for everything and often said sorry for things I didn’t do.

Never had I ever felt confident with kids, but by the time my fourth child came, and again I was alone, I knew I could do it. That I would be fine.

If I took my kids to church, I taught them right from wrong, if I tried to play defense to the bad influences out in the world… and I prayed; then I would be blessed with good kids. I would raise these kids how God has led me to raise these kids, and they will become the men and woman, he intends them to be. He will equip me. He will qualify me. He will lead me.

And as I sat and listened to story after story of what my son was telling, of the life I never knew of, of the boy I thought I knew, but even before the age of 15, was wearing a mask to hide who he really was, I felt smaller and smaller.

Hear me on this, everything I previously thought was true.

If I took my kids to church, I taught them right from wrong, if I tried to play defense to the bad influences out in the world… and I prayed; then I would be blessed with good kids. I would raise these kids how God has led me to raise these kids, and they will become the men and woman, he intends them to be. He will equip me. He will qualify me. He will lead me. But it’s not because of me, but because of HIM.

My heart cried out to Jesus, “Thank you, Jesus, for protecting my son.” At that moment a new reality hit me and my soul hit the floor.

All the books I had read about parenting, all the friends I sought advice from, all the workshops I had attended…they had all given me this false belief that I was in some sort of control. That, in the end, who my children eventually turn out to be, had in part, had something to do with my influence on them.

But let me be clear. My son should or could be dead or at the very least, impaired. But he’s not, and it’s not because of me.

In that moment of revelation, I learned the single, most effective and beneficial thing I had ever done for him, or any of my children, was that I prayed.

Dear Heavenly Father, protect my kids. Watch over my kids. Guide my kids. Help my kids. And various other requests I had made for my kids.

It was in that moment I realized I have absolutely no control of the world or the people in it. Including the children I have poured so much into.

That at the end of the day, when everything is said and done, regardless of what I have taught him, shown him, modeled to him; when my child is faced with a life altering, life threatening event, it is Jesus who has his back. It is Jesus who has his eye on him.

It is Jesus who knows him.

My heart breaks at learning I didn’t know my son. But it heals again, when I realize that the one who is everywhere and knows everything, answers my prayers; even when I don’t know it, and even when I don’t understand what I’m praying for.

I don’t know anymore if my sole purpose to raise these kids in a way, so that they will become the men and woman, God intends them to be.

I think now, my sole purpose was and is, just to pray for them.

God, you know the evil of this world. You know a darker side than I do. How silly of me to think I, someone who never has smoked pot, did any drugs, never cheated on a test, nor snuck out of my home, didn’t lift something from a store, or ever received an F in a class, could possibly understand or know how to raise one child, much less six of them in this place you never intended us to live in.

Lord, even though I am just now coming to understand the magnitude of your authority, I thank you for never changing, always being there; even if I don’t know it, understand it, or believe it.

I lay my children at your feet and ask that you watch over them. And if my only job here on earth is to pray for them without ceasing, then Lord, please continue to give me the strength to keep raising them up to you, not for you.

My prayer is no longer a hope that you will find favor in them, but the knowledge of truth that you already do.

I Love You, Too

My husband does construction for a living. Yesterday he was in an accident that knocked his truck out of commission. It’s ok though. He’s fine and we have an SUV we’ve been saving for the boys, once they get their license.

It’s not his favorite vehicle to drive, but it will get him to and from his work until we know if his truck can be fixed.

This morning, as I was waiting for my life group to start, I was talking to two friends who asked how Mike was doing.

I explained he was sore, but otherwise doing fine. He was upset with himself for what had happened, but he understands accidents happen, so he wasn’t beating himself up over it. “It’s just a truck”, he says. It will get fixed.

As I was filling them in on what had happened, they both shared how their heart ached for him when they had learned what had happened.

Mike doesn’t ask for much. All he’s wanted was a truck and nine months ago, he got one. And it’s not one of those brand new, great big fancy dancy, 4x4s. No, but it was nice and it was his.

They offered to let him borrow one of their trucks until his was fixed, but I explained that we had the SUV for him. Although, we were concerned about the tires. We knew they needed to be replaced before any of our kids drove it, but since no one seemed very anxious to start driving anytime soon, we just hadn’t gotten around to it.

I left knowing we had a back up.

After my life group, I came home to tell my husband about the offer, as I waited until noon to pick up some chairs from a friend.

This last Fourth of July, we had a great big celebration at our house that included 90 of our closest friends. This friend had offered to let us borrow some of her chairs for the event.

Earlier this week I had learned that her family was moving to take advantage of a great opportunity that was offered to them. They were selling everything. I gave her a call and asked if by chance she was selling those chairs. She was.

Before leaving to get the them, I asked my poor sore husband if he would like to ride along with me. Not really feeling up to it, but knowing how much I enjoy his company, he agreed.

We jumped into the SUV.

Now my friend doesn’t live far, but it was farther than what he was expecting. I had forgotten he didn’t know she and her family had just moved a few months ago.

As we pull up to her driveway I suddenly remembered when I picked the chairs up the first time, I was in my four-door sedan. We didn’t need to drive the SUV. But Mike quickly reminded me, if we took the car, we would have had to empty the trunk.

Oh, that’s right.

I jumped out, got caught up briefly with my friend and her husband, then grabbed the chairs from the side of her house where I had dropped them off a month ago.

I joked with her that it would have been more convenient if I was one of those friends that held on to things they borrow for months so then I could have just dropped off the money since the chairs would still be at my house.

After loading up, my husband and I were back on our way home with me filling him in on the amazing adventure my friends were about to begin.

Then there was a POP!

You guessed it. A flat tire.

I quickly pulled into the first driveway. And my husband went to town on changing the tire.

Quick little side note…

Praise God for kids who don’t bring their beach towels into the house after swimming trips from Grandma’s. And Homeless Packs that have umbrellas in them.

Mid day blowout in the Arizona sun, they were a lifesaver, although my husband still looked like he might die.

As I watch my amazing husband fast at work I couldn’t help but thank God.

Thank you God for keeping my husband safe in his accident.

Thank you for blessing us with an extra vehicle to get him around.

Thank you for awesome friends who offer us their vehicle.

Thank you for letting me forget I didn’t need to bring the SUV.

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to drive the SUV a short distance from our house.

Thank you for not letting my husband drive the SUV to work on this tire.

Thank you for letting my husband ride with me.

And most importantly, thank you so much for allowing my husband to pick me. I think he’s awesome. I think he’s amazing. I think he’s humble. I think he’s strong. I think he’s brave. I think he’s caring. I think he’s the best man for me!

Lord, thank you. I see what you’ve done here. Thank you.

I love you, too.