Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#NonstopNovember: The Challenge

I read a tweet that went something like this tonight:

I've been needing a push with my writing recently. I get ideas and feel inspiration, but don't always do anything with it. Not sure if that's writer's block, being distracted or just plain lack of discipline.

So, in light of Anthony's tweet, I felt so inclined to take him up on his invitation to "jump on board."

I can't guarantee what the topics will be, but I can guarantee that they will be authentic and from the heart.

Ready, set, November!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where I'm At

Geographically, I'm in Lynchburg, VA. I moved back here last December because (in short) God asked me to.

Physically, I'm tired a lot and rrrreally wanting to get a good workout routine going, but literally choosing to occupy my thoughts, time and money in other things. Maybe it isn't as much of a priority as I want it to be. Ultimately, it is my choice to workout or not workout. And the excuses that I make are my own excuses. No one is forcing me to not make time for running, walking, galloping, etc.

Emotionally, I've been fairly even keeled. Until this weekend (but we'll get to that later). I've been paying attention to my sleep cycles and my aches and pains and my appetite in hopes that I can figure out my....ahem.... cycle.... and try to for once know the mystery of the ages: Is this PMS, or am I just being spaz?

For those of you who belong to the male population or the females that do not have emotional-freakishness as a symptom of PMS.... let me tell you, it can be pretty confusing to not know why you feel the way you do and then one day be like, "Oh... OH.... Right! That's why I cried at the end of the Walking Dead episode this week and want to devour all the chocolate in the world." But, honestly, since I've been working to be more aware of what's going on with me, I've pretty much been calm and when I feel something that might be a wave of unbridled emotion, I try to work through it, instead of just giving up for the day.

**I feel the need to stop here and note something. For those of you who have never met me in person, or don't know me that well, I am (and pretty much always have been) highly emotional. I feel things extremely deeply. So, when the PMS blues or anger or whathaveyou kicks in... I am deeply affected by it. If I let it, it can take control of me (but I try to catch it just as it's happening and deal with it in healthy ways). I felt the need to give context for being so open about my emotions, and to point out that, no, I'm not being dramatic about it all :).**

Spiritually, well, that's another thing. While things have been "going great," I feel like I'm getting pummeled by waves. And I'm getting to the surface to take a breath of air and rest for a second, and there's another wave. Wave after wave of God being like, "Hey, take a look at this over here. Do you see this attitude? That is not okay" or "This behavior needs to stop. Right now." My struggle in this is that "Yay! By God's grace alone am I able to survive this!" conflicts with the feelings of "But it hurts and it's hard and why can't He just let me rest for a second." I so want to be thankful that He is mindful of me enough to teach me at all. Who am I that the Creator of the universe is molding me and shaping me? And here I am, wanting Him to give me a break. It feels..... well, icky.... to have that conflict going on inside.

So, that's kind of where I've been in general.
This past weekend, I hit a low point when I had a realization that I can't afford to go home for Thanksgiving. I thought I would be able to, because I had just gotten a raise at work a few months ago. But right as the new baby (which caused the raise in salary) was born... literally, the day after she was born.... I moved across town. And with that, my fuel budget went through the roof. Every dollar that I was planning on using to save to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and to make some minor repairs on my Jeep, and to... well, basically be able to pay all of my bills, all on time.... it all goes right smack dab into my giant, smelly gas tank.

I would like to tell you that I have a plan.

I don't.

All I know is that my wishful thinking of being able to visit with friends and family that I haven't seen since the beginning of May has turned into the realization that it is probably not going to happen.

And that's upsetting.

Why? Well, beyond the obvious reasons of missing people, I feel a little tired. Like a little emotionally raw (this is the part that I told you about earlier when I said we'll get to that later). I've surrendered my life to a God that knows everything. He literally knows things are going to happen before they happen. He like, made the entire universe in a week. People! Sometimes it takes me an entire week to do one load of laundry from start to finish (I'm not proud of this, it's just a fact), and God breathed everything that you and I know to exist in 6 days.

And I know that.

Yet, in these moments when I feel kinda gypped by my circumstances, I start to feel unbelief creep in. It's so subtle, this unbelief. It whispers things like, "Well, He's done it again... dragged you somewhere and left you. I told you He'd abandon you!" and "He's not going to come through for you. It's up to YOU to provide for yourself. You need to be independent! Get your own back!"

Lies, lies, lies.
And what is God reminding me of tonight? "Do you think that I am not in control of this? I am SO BIG. You are so small. I keep telling you this. You keep forgetting. So here it is again: I. Created. The. Universe. And you think I am somehow not in control of providing for you? How is that beyond my reach?"

What I know is that I am exactly where God wants me, with the specific job that He wants me to have. Beyond that, I have no idea. And since God literally knows everything (which I said before), why is it so hard to admit that He knows WAY more than I do and to just trust Him with this? Not sure. Still working on that one.

So, yeah. That is pretty much where I'm at.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Breaking the Cycle

Wouldn't it be silly to realize that you are an alcoholic, but then still go to the bars everyday, vowing that you are not going to drink... you're just there for the atmosphere? And the whole time, it's all you can do to not drink. But the booze is right there. Right within your grasp. But, you've decided you're going to "tough it out" and "be strong." And you keep going back. And the temptation is still there.

And one day.... you drink.

So, tell me: alcohol aside, why do we do this to ourselves in other areas too?

Believe me... this is for me too. Just one way that God kicked my butt this morning.

What is that thing you know you shouldn't be doing, yet you keep finding yourself wandering down that same path?

Food issues? Drug issues? Drinking problem? Gambling? Anger? Lying? Cursing? Laziness? Homosexual behavior?

What is that thing that you keep running from... and then right back towards?

Everyone has something.

And sometimes, we try to fix this on our own. We try to say, "Well, I just won't go to restaurants anymore, because I can't seem to order the healthy food." Or maybe it's, "I can't even play the McDonald's Monopoly game, because it makes me want to gamble again." What about, "I have to wake up with purpose, even if I don't have any plans that day, or else I will sit in my PJs and rot in bed while watching Dawson's Creek on Netflix."

Well, yeah, that's half of it.

But, where does God fit into it? Are you asking Him to tell you (because, people... He knows!) what you need to cut out in order to live an obedient life. I wish I could take temptation to sin away. I wish my thing wasn't a thing in my life. But it is. And I keep going back to this self-control thing that God has been pointing out to me for years. YEARS. If he gave me self-control, I wouldn't have to learn it. And I would miss the point that He's trying to show me.

It goes something like this:

Paul says in Ephesians 4, "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."

Wait, what? So there is this thing that I am called to be and I should be chasing after that? I have a responsibility in the way I live my life? So, there's no magic "Christian" button that God pushes that turns us into perfect people? Yes, yes, and YES!

God has been showing me through Paul's letters who He says I am. Not my family. Not my boyfriend. Not my dearest of friends. Him. Cause that's all that matters. My world is definitely being rocked.

And nowhere in what I've read does God say that I am a woman who lives in a cycle of bad decisions and regret. No. I belong to Him. He told me that I am a daughter of the Most High King. I am a princess. And in what part of being Spiritual royalty am I supposed to be putting myself in situations (note the responsibility I am taking) that are going to make it harder to say "no" and easier to say, "yes" ? This is not who God made me to be!

My pastor said this week that who we believe we are will directly correlate to our behavior.

So, basically, if I identify myself as a screw up that will never get it right, then I'm eventually going to give up the fight and just live out that belief.

I don't have some amazing conclusion to cap all this off, as I am still processing the booty-kicking I got, but just know that I am still pressing in and asking God to do more.

This is an amazing video that blessed me a few months ago. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

One year ago today, my sister called to remind me that it was our father's birthday. I had only seen him once in two and a half years, and hadn't spoken to him other than that.

My sister pushed me to call him and said he'd be happy to hear from me.

Being in a spontaneous mood, I did it without thinking too much about it. I knew at that point that I was moving to Lynchburg, possibly indefinitely. I wanted to let him know somehow. So, I called.

There weren't any fireworks. No one freaked out. We actually didn't even acknowledge the fact that we had absolutely no relationship anymore. We just chatted for a bit.

I told him I was leaving in a few months and moving back to Lynchburg. I put myself out there and invited him to dinner before I left.

Then he got emotional and told me he appreciated me calling him. His voice broke as he started to cry. It got awkward for a second and then he said he needed to get going and we said our goodbyes.

And that was that.

We never got dinner before I left.

I never ended up seeing him before he passed away.

But I have no regrets.

We didn't know that he was going to pass away. At that point, he was already sick, only no one knew how sick, or that it was anything other than the flu.

I'd like to think that if he hadn't passed away, we would have a more mended relationship at this point. Because sometimes we need time.

Part of my grief process was feeling guilty about shutting him out. I thought that I would have more time. I was waiting to be ready to handle talking to him. Ready to handle the tough conversations. The possible arguments that would ensue. The possible hurt that would happen.

The only problem with that is that I wasn't ready to have those conversations until after he had passed away.

Today, my father would have been 59.

To honor him, at first, I wanted to do a private memorial service with just me and Jesus. Then, I thought about having a birthday party for him. But, my father was a simple man. So, I'm going to keep it simple and just share a few stories about my relationship with him that were shared at his memorial service.

This was my father, in a nutshell:

When I was 18, I had moved back in with my father after my parents separated. My dad's focus that year was trying to build a relationship with me. I, being a highly emotional teenager, and he, being a man who wasn't always sure how to express emotion found ourselves with an awkward dance around each other during my last year in high school. When my 18th birthday was coming around, he knew that it was supposed to be special. He wanted to make it special for me. So, he invited quite a few of our family friends over- ones that we grew up going camping and boating with. They all waited for me to come home from church. I knew it was my birthday, but I didn't expect much of a celebration, since I hadn't made a big deal out of it. But I was pleasantly surprise when I walked in the door and found a large group of people there screaming "Happy Birthday" at me. It scared the crap out of me, but it also communicated to me that my dad loved me- even if he didn't know what to do with me.
My first apartment in college found me without furniture and 7 hours away from my bed and dressers. For about a week, I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag and had my folded clothes organized in piles. When I was talking with my father about how I was going to get the furniture down to Virginia from Ohio, he told me that he could bring it down to me. I expected a moving truck and him staying for a weekend. What my dad did for me was above and beyond what I ever asked. He left work early on a Friday, packed my bed and two dresser (and even a lamp, I think) into his truck and drove 7 1/2 hours to Virginia. He then hugged me, told me he had to work the next morning, got back in his truck and drove home. My dad didn't always say much, but he was the type of man that would drive 15 hours straight just to make sure his baby girl had somewhere to put her clothes and a place to sleep.
My father was known among everyone in the family for his random phone calls. Actually, my siblings and I all compared stories the night before his memorial service. He would call because the wind was blowing or he saw a car that looked like ours or he saw an old friend of ours. He famously would call us kids if he was watching a TV show that reminded him of us. No matter what the reason for calling, you always knew when he was done talking because he would say one of his famous phrases, "Well.... that's about all I know." I never figured out quite what that meant, but I always knew when he was ready to get off the phone.

I love you, Daddy.

Happy Birthday.

Monday, October 1, 2012


At what point do you step in and help someone?

At what point do you rescue someone from a not-so-good living situation?

At what point do you say, "Enough is enough!" and "You deserve better." ?

At what point is it truly okay to be the hero?

Well, I wish I had an answer for you. But, I don't.

Because I had to ask myself that same question tonight as someone I love shared with me an unpleasant situation they were dealing with at home.

And all I wanted to do was swoop in. And save them.

How easy would that be?

To drive over, pack their bags and get them out of the situation.

And they'd be safe.

And I'd be a hero (even if I didn't want to be).

So I asked God, "What do You want me to do?"

And He told me.

"Let me. Let me rescue them."

"But, You know how easy it would be for me to do it, right?"

"I know. But then, they would miss out on what it means to be rescued by Me."


And since I very well know what it means to literally be rescued (physically and spiritually) by the Lord, I know exactly what He is talking about.

And because I know the effect it can have on someone's heart after they are rescued by the Lord Almighty, I don't step in. I don't fix it.

I just offer to support them.

I listen.

I tell them that I know God has more for them.

And now, I wait for God to show up.

And I know He will.