I know I say this every year…..but I would give anything to have seen the look on Satan’s face when he realized that Jesus was not dead as he had hoped, but ALIVE!!!!
He’s still alive today….and He lives in me….and you if you’ll have Him, with that same resurrection power on tap. We are not left to our own ability or our own strength, but we have a super-natural power source to live victoriously, triumphantly, and to be more than a conquerer, regardless of the hardships and challenges that cross our paths.
It’s not about circumstances or conditions. He came to “heal the broken-hearted” and “set the captive free”. It is an inner work and His whole goal is to bring us to deeper levels of freedom in all the areas of our lives. “It is for freedom that Jesus set us free…”
Do you long for freedom, for healing from trauma and pain? Today could be the beginning of your journey….
Glenn and I lay in bed the other night talking about everything that is going on right now in the world, what it means for us, what our response should be, what should we be preparing for – especially spiritually..
Since before we even met, Glenn and I have held a shared vision. Something buried in our hearts that we felt we were called to. When we met and married, it only deepened and grew. I’m not going to say what it is…..but it’s there.
Of course, we had a picture in our mind of what it was going to look like, and we thought we knew how it would all unfold. Ever heard the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him YOUR plans?”
We also thought it was right around the corner. We were young, zealous, passionate about God and all that we thought He was going to do. We felt ready, prepared, poised for action.
We’ve been married almost 35 years, and guess what. We’re still waiting….
In fact, as the years have clicked along, those things we held deep in our heart began to take a backseat. Oh we made choices, moves, and thought we could see it starting a few times……but it never came to fruition and so, although it never really left us, our focus shifted to the more immediate challenges of finances, raising children, and just weathering the challenges, disappointments, and heartache of real life. Oh, don’t get me wrong….there were many fun times, happy times, lots of both tears and laughter, and times we sat and marvelled at all that was happening to us and through us.
Nevertheless, not gonna lie, the years have taken a toll. A toll financially, physically (we’re not spring chickens anymore, you know) and spiritually. We’ve questioned and felt abandoned and wondered what the heck was God thinking or doing?
Kinda like right now…..
I’m no doom and gloom prophet, but I won’t be surprised if the days ahead are not going to be a lot of fun. No matter how this thing turns out, no matter how long it takes to get the upper hand with this virus, things are not going to be the same, and it’s going to be tough for many, or even most.
It’s made me question…. Actually, it’s made me question a lot of things, and I’m not always thrilled by the few answers. But most of all, it has made me question this ‘thing’ we’ve carried for almost 40 years.
Some would say 40 is a significant number. We will see….
Anyway, I said to a dear friend the other day, why could these things not have all happened when I was young, zealous, and passionate, ready to take on whatever came my way? Kind of like a plaque I read one time that said “Why couldn’t all of life’s problems have happened when I was 18 and knew everything????”
Not gonna lie……I’m probably at one of my lowest points ever, spiritually speaking. I have felt a numbness, a dullness spiritually, and a deep sense of discouragement and hopelessness.
Not a great admission from someone who has walked in relationship with Jesus for over 40 years.
I guess most of all, I have been disappointed in myself. I should have done better, I should have said this, taught that, I should be stronger, braver, more ready.
Anyway, I was doing some reading/studying the other day, and I read these verses in Exodus 3:10-12:
Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shallworship God at this mountain.”
God had a big job for Moses, and Moses wasn’t feeling it. “Who am I that I should go…..” God wanted Moses to go down to Egypt and deliver the Israelites out of captivity. In fact, Moses had tried that 40 (there’s that number again) years previously, and it hadn’t gone well at all. Moses himself had been in exile for 40 years because of it. He went on with life, married, had kids, raised animals…. I think he too shifted his focus to just trying to live life.
But, long story short, he went. God promised to be with him, and he accomplished what he was called to do, or rather God accomplished what He wanted to do, through Moses. There’s a difference….
Note the promise at the end…
“Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
(Note that the sign would come AFTER the mission was accomplished)
Fast forward…. God performed miracles. He gave warnings to Pharaoh, sent numerous plagues, each one more serious and damaging than the last, until finally Pharaoh relented and let the Israelites go. Well, in reality, he was begging them to leave and giving them everything they could take, by the time it was all over.
But then Pharaoh had a change of heart after they left, and set out in hot pursuit. Moses was moving a whole race of people in the desert and the Egyptians were gaining ground fast, until finally the Israelites ended up standing on the shores of the Red Sea with nowhere to go. Suddenly, before their very eyes, the sea began to part and the Bible says they walked through the sea on dry ground and then the sea swallowed up Pharaoh and his army. Pretty cool, eh. Like really……can you imagine????
They came up on the opposite shores of the Red Sea, and looked back to see the enemy who threatened to destroy then, drowned, utterly demolished, by the waters of the sea. They marvelled at all that God had done to gain their freedom from the years and years of slavery, and they worshipped!! They recounted the great and mighty deeds, they praised like never before and life was good!!!!
When they were done, they picked up their stuff, loaded the animals and moved on. I can imagine the excitement and awe. The unbridled joy and first real taste of freedom; the retelling over and over as they repeated all they had witnessed and all that they hoped for, it must have been thrilling……..until verse 22 of Exodus 15:
Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the watersof Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Then he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet.
Three days. THREE days, guys!!! Three days and they were grumbling about water. In three days they had lost sight of the astounding feats that God had performed in order to gain their freedom and they thought water was going to be too big of a problem!
I had a lot of take aways from this story. One being Moses’ feelings of inadequacy. I’m sure he spent those 40 years on the backside of nowhere, feeling like a failure, wondering if he had missed his call, wondering if he ever really was called in the first place!! I mean surely, he must have heard wrong, or it must have been all in his head and not God at all. He had tried to defend the jewish slaves and ended up running to save his own life! Then forty years later, defeated and worn, NOW God wants to execute the plan?????
Second, the mountain. See I have the benefit of reading the whole story, and I know that one day they did worship at that mountain just like God had promised. And it was a sign, proof that God was with Moses and He did do exactly as He said!
And third, how very little time it took to lose sight and forget the wonders and ways that God had moved on their behalf.
You see, we’ve spent almost forty years with this dream, this vision of what we felt we were called to, and it gets old. You lose hope, you lose sight, and you settle for survival. Then forty years down the road, when you feel like you’re going under for the last time, God, partly through current cicumstances, starts stirring up the vision…..and my response: “Are you serious!! Who am I?” I have nothing! I am nothing! I got nothing!!”
And then I’m reminded…..reminded of the experiences, interventions, and precious moments in His presence, over the past 40+ years, and I realize that it’s not about me at all. It’s about Him. He says that in our weakness, HE shows up strong!
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; isanythingtoo difficult for Me?”
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we askorimagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:9
Or, like He said to Moses,
“Certainly, I will be with you….”
From where I sit, there are still a lot of missing pieces, a lot of things that would have to come together, and honestly, in the natural, I just can’t see how He could pull it all off! Forty years ago, maybe……but today, not so much.
But I believe that one day we will worship at that ‘mountain’ and be blown away by how it all came about.
A few weeks ago, I posted about Randall in This is Us and his emotional collapse as life began to pile up on him. It was, in fact, exactly one month ago today – February 24, 2020. Randall was not okay. You can read my other post here.
Today, I have realized, that I am not okay either.
This was the picture I used for the former post …. today it is picture at the top of this post.
That little kitten who saw himself as a warrior tiger; big, brave, and strong……..yeah, that’s not me. I’m the hot mess,
I rarely sleep past 4 a.m. these days, regardless of what time I go to bed. This morning it was 3 a.m. when I awoke and after 15 or 20 minutes just got up so I wouldn’t disturb Glenn.
Yesterday, my one day off after working the weekend, I did nothing. Well, not exactly true, I played Nintendo Switch most of the day with my children and my granddaughter. Outwardly, I am sure nothing seemed wrong, but inwardly I was crumbling.
My husband prepared veggies etc., before he left to go to work. Me, I forgot to put the roast in the oven. So we ate frozen pizza.
Today I tried to remember the name of the ministry that I donate to every month to support someone out there on the streets working with the homeless and downtrodden, and I couldn’t remember the name of the ministry. I’ve been giving to them for a few years.
I cry at the drop of a hat, with no warning and no apparent trigger. I feel so helpless.
These are scary days.
There is much unknown. Many possibilities and no real guarantees.
The biggest heartache for me right now is that I can’t be with all my kids. It’s been nothing short of agonizing. They are in their homes, some with their own little ones, and we can’t be together. In times like this, I just want us all to be together. I feel like everything would be okay if we could just be together. Under one roof. In one place. Together.
I can’t see my parents. My mom is 93 and my dad is only home a. week or two from a 3-4 week hospital stay where he suffered a heart attack, a septic knee, a bowel blockage, kidney stones, and received stents in his heart. Thank God he made it home before this madness hit.
Yesterday I fired their housekeeper…………over the phone.
My concern for their well-being can not be understated, or overestimated.. I was angry. Angry at her for being there when we are ALL being told to stay home. Angry at the situation and worried because I know they don’t grasp how serious this is. And angry because I haven’t seen them in almost two weeks because I won’t put them at risk, yet there she was. And when they all started arguing with me that everything would be fine and it wasn’t a problem, I told them clearlyl that this was neither a debate, nor was it at all negotiable and if she showed up there again, I would be waiting at the door and/or would send the police!
I was crying and I was shaking, but I wasn’t begging or pleading, I was angry, or maybe it was just feeling desperate.
Or maybe I was just scared.
Needless to say, either way, the housekeeper is history.
I don’t know what to do. I can’t fix this, I can’t stop this, and I have no idea how we will all ultimately be affected by this. Already, I can’t sleep, I don’t care if I eat, I can’t think, and all I really want to do is to get the hell out of Dodge…….but I have nowhere to go.
I am thankful for my job, but it’s the last place I want to be.
My husband works at Walmart. There are a lot of people at Walmart, people who, as has been reported, have travelled outside of Canada, and returned to work or shop at the store. My husband has a trach, a direct opening to his airway, and is 68 years old. We desperately need the money, but at what cost? I don’t know….. It worries me……greatly.
Honestly, I’m not worried about getting the virus as much as I am about the society we live in if things turn really bad. It’s already nuts in many ways. The panic, the hoarding, the desperation….those that worry about their survival only. Shortages, closing, economic disaster…..there is a lot to be concerned about.
I want to be……………..together. With my family. With my kids. I just want us all to all be together.
And I can’t.
The turmoil is great, the anxiety is escalating, the “what-if’s” overwhelm me, and the solutions elude me.
I just wish we were together.
I have realized, I am not okay.
Today I woke up feeling overwhelmed. I haven’t felt that for a v-e-r-y long time.
And then I read this…
I actually closed the book and opened it again to make sure that the words I was seeing were the actual words on the page………it addressed all that had me tied up in knots and I knew this was exactly what I needed to hear.
Glenn, my kids, my parents…..I was carrying the weight of their wellbeing on my shoulders…….well, at least in my mind, and heavy in my heart. But I am limited, I have no control over what is taking place.
So I have to release them all to the only One who loves them as much as I do. I know, in reality, He loves them even more…..but, to be honest, I can’t even fathom that. Some things cannot be understood, they have to be revealed.
This too is not something I can make happen, nor am I expected to. Instead, the answer lies not in striving and struggling, but in rest. That place of rest, where the storm can rage all around me, but I am at peace.
Peace that doesn’t depend on the circumstances but rather exists in spite of the circumstances.
Peter walked on water, until he focused on the storm instead of the One that called him out to walk on raging waves.
There isn’t a “happily ever after” ending to this post. It’s not like TV where by the end of the show, all has been resolved and calm and order have been restored. This is a moment by moment pursuit. Some moments will hit the mark, some will fail dismally. But it’s okay…. It’s a journey. A pursuit of peace and rest.
We moved from the metropolis of Niagara Falls to a small northern town, whose economy sources were logging, mining, and the railway. We only knew one couple, a couple I didn’t know very well.
We bought a log house outside of the town on ten acres, 2.5 hours from North Bay on Hwy 11. It was only a little over a six hour drive, but for many reasons, it was a whole other world.
We had three children at the time. Our oldest was eleven, our second was two and a half, and our youngest was nine months old. We were excited about the adventure!!
In those days, (gee, that makes me feel O-L-D) you dialed the last four digits of a phone number to call locally, we were on a party line with three other families (our ring was one long and one short) and everywhere outside of our Englehart 544 exchange was long distance. There were no phone plans at the time with free Canada-wide calling. I think it was cheaper between 8 pm and 7 am, and maybe on weekends, but otherwise it was long distance, and not cheap.
All of our close friends and family were left behind….some in the Ottawa area and some in Niagara…..no one nearby. I was young, I was a mom with littles, and I was lonely, evidenced by the atrocious phone bills.
Only going six hours and still in Ontario, I hadn’t anticipated the culture shock awaiting me. Life was different up there and people were distant. I think they were so used to having people like us move there for a Northern experience, but very few stayed. So they held you at arms-length, unwilling to invest until they were sure you were going to stay, which often took about ten years.
Winters were long and cold. Our first winter there, it snowed September 20 and the snow never left til Spring, which didn’t arrive until almost June. Food prices were high, gas prices were higher, and well, you already know about the phone situation.
But little by little, we began to make our way.
About a year or two in, we connected with another family through church. Their family was young, we had our faith in common, and they too had lost a baby boy who was stillborn, as was ours.
Mike and Glenn talked hunting and fishing…..and being a farmer, Mike tried to teach us to raise chickens. That’s a whole other story!!!!
Janet and I birthed and raised our babies, gardened, canned, cooked, sewed, made quilts, took on homeschooling, and took shopping trips to North Bay,
On one of those infamous trips, we went out for dinner and made the impromptu decision to attend an event at North Bay Arts Centre. It was perfect timing!!! Buddy Wassisname and the Other Fellers were performing and to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard!!! My stomach literally ached, tears rolled down my face, and I came perilously close to wetting myself!!!!! It was a night I will never forget!!! It must have been the stress we were under, and the release we both needed, because although I’ve seen and heard this act since, it has never made the impact that it did that night.
We spent 15 years up there. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been away for just as many years, having moved back near my hometown.
Over the years, our girls have maintained their friendships and we have attended weddings and showers. This past weekend, I travelled the same familiar roads for a baby shower to celebrate the impending birth of one of Mike and Janet’s newest grand babies, and to visit our children that still live in that area.
It was so soul-nourishing to reminisce together, sharing our incredibly precious memories and to laugh together once more.
In days past, we have shared our hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows. We’ve walked on life’s mountain tops and through the valleys. This weekend we were able to sit together and watch children and grandchildren (the feature picture for this post is Janet being read to by her granddaughter, Elizabeth) and be reminded of the faithfulness of God, even though things didn’t always turned out as we’d hoped.
Life takes us many different places. People come and go, seasons change, we grow and evolve,, and time and distance have been the hill that many friendships die on. But then there are those go on in spite of the obstacles and challenges that life imposes.
These friendships are gold, a precious gift, and to be treasured forever.
I just finished watching the latest episode of “This is Us.” This is fast becoming one of my favourite shows……….and the real reason behind the rise in Kleenex stock prices!
In this episode, Randall has had a really rough week. Health issues with his mom, challenges in his job, rescuing a woman from an attacker, and an intruder in his home…..all in one week! Granted, this is TV so not necessarily an accurate depiction of what your week might have held, or mine. However, though circumstances may vary, the overwhelming feels are all too familiar some days.
Randall also battles, and has since childhood, what many face all too often, attacks of anxiety and panic. Sudden, uncontrollable, unwelcome, and to the onlooker, seemingly unreasonable reactions to circumstances that are upsetting, terrifying, and usually beyond our control.
Randall tries to cope. He keeps putting one foot in front of the other, assuring everyone he is okay. Then, during a positive interaction with staff, where he is being hailed as a hero, he walks away, locks himself in his bathroom, and falls apart. He calls his brother and admits, “I lied, I am not okay….”
I am only aware of two such attacks in my life. But I have experienced deep, debilitating depression a few times, maybe the flip side of the same anxiety coin.
I spent a year and a half where I rarely got out of bed. I felt utterly defeated in life. I felt like a failure…..a failure as a mom, a failure as a christian, a failure as a wife, and I was so exhausted, emotionally and spiritually, that on the rare times I did get up and get dressed, the kids thought I had to be going somewhere. For the first time ever, I experienced suicidal thoughts.
Fast forward a few years…. We, as a family, made a move back to the area I had grown up in, and had been away from for over 20 years, back to my dearly loved family and friends. We were enjoying a rare time of financial prosperity and the endless possibilities this afforded us, a new church where I formed new and amazing relationships, and I was happier than I had been in a very long time, maybe ever. I felt like I had come full circle and was poised for an adventure that seemed to be the culmination and reward of weathering all the tough years of struggle and disappointment.
Then came the diagnosis.
Glenn was diagnosed with a chondrosarcoma…..a cartilage tumour just under his voice box. At the very same time, the company he was working for failed and he sunk into his own year and a half depression. Our income went from six figures to zero…….overnight. We still had nine children living at home, and our future seemed desperately bleak.
I was not fine.
I kept things running at home with as much normalcy as possible. I leaned on my friends…..a lot. We had to go to the food bank for food. We resorted to social assistance, in various forms. And once again, just getting out of bed and getting dressed each day, became a monumental hurdle to clear.
I would wake up in the morning, completely overwhelmed.
Add to ALL this, the day I opened my door to find SWAT in my front yard, or the children who, trying to find their own way to cope with their worlds being rocked, were making disastrous life choices, the five+ years of prison visits, taking courses because I had to find a decent job (after being a stay-at-home mom for over 20 years), a new career, losing my beloved church experience, and the day-to-day rigours of just trying to survive… I was no where near “okay”!!!
Yet I was…
Because deeper than all the disappointment, pain, confusion, and fear…….were the underlying truths that I clung to. They brought HOPE.
Hope that there was a power greater than mine, working in and through the circumstances I faced. Hope that no matter how bleak things may have appeared, a new day would dawn and I would be equipped with the exact amount of strength I needed to not only face, but overcome, whatever may lay in wait.
Often, the hope – and help – came through the amazing friends and relationships that had been formed, both near and far, those that never judged but came alongside and supported us, respected us, prayed for us, or just sat with us in our grief and agony.. Sometimes it even came from complete strangers, with a kind word, a helping hand, or free homeopathic health care when we refused the conventional medical solutions proposed.
I don’t know what you’re facing, have faced, or will face. What I DO know, is that even if you do all the right things, follow all the formulas for success, and feel like you have it all wrapped up and tied with a pretty bow…….life happens. People will disappoint or hurt you, expectations will be unmet, and your whole world can be turned upside down…….overnight.
I also know that you can be a hot mess, and still be okay.
You need to care of you… I am no expert, but I do have some advice.
Eat healthy! Exercise if you have to!!! Your body is an intricate system that has requirements and it needs nutritious fuel to run on in order to have the resources to draw from, physically and emotionally.
Be kind to yourself, you are human and you are allowed to make mistakes as you find your way through the darkness. Yes, you may even FAIL….but don’t quit.
Get help! Tell someone you’re struggling. Find a group, a therapist, a trusted friend and be as honest as you possibly can. They may not have answers to your problems, but compassion and understanding, a safe place to pour it all out, and the room to be transparent, can go a very long way in helping you to heal and move forward.
Find a strength greater than your own to live out of. I know what that has been for me, and I would be happy to share it with you, but just know that YOU are not expected, nor were you intended, to live this life on your own.
Beware of the temporary fixes this life has to offer.
Like I said, I am no expert. But I can be a listening ear.
Some wisdom gained through life’s hard knocks.
Just so you know…
Glenn is still here……12 1/2 years after that devastating diagnosis.
My kids are great!! Lessons were learned and challenges overcome. They still experience typical life challenges, but they are strong, resilient, and each other’s best friends.
My church experience has not yet resolved, and may never look like it once did, but God and I are tight! His love, His goodness and faithfulness, and His grace continue to empower and compel me.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit…”
As I sat praying and pondering recently, I became aware that a deep discouragement has crept into my heart over the past few years……..subtly, butvery steadily.
Unmet expectations, my own personal failures, the day in and day out drudgery of life and making ends meet…..(or not), it can really wear on you after a while. Then, if you’re a parent, you carry all the concerns and worries you have over the happiness and well-being of your children, even if they’re grown; maybe even especially if they are grown!!
Truly though, even if everything is relatively fine and no major crises have arisen, just drifting through life, letting it happen with no real thought or purpose, causes a deadness to your soul. If I just go with all the thoughts and feelings that occur naturally, I slowly sink into dullness and despair.
It’s so easy to get into a rut. It’s easy to have no real vision beyond what you have to do just to get through a day, to just exist instead of really living. To dream, to believe, to hope……it takes energy that I don’t always feel like I have!
So I have decided that if I have any hope of not living in this state of discouragement and disappointment, I have to take time each day to be quiet, to listen, to reflect, to pause…..
I examine the thoughts that I have running through my mind. (Have you ever really listened to yourself think? You might be surprised at the diatribe rolling like a stock market ticker tape…) I need to take these thoughts captive instead of letting them run the show.
I remind myself of truths. The ONE resolution I made this year was to read my Jesus Calling devotional each day. The sentiments and bible verses included in these short devotionals, renew my focus and perspective and remind me of the truths that I can stand on, replacing the subtle lies and fears that I have unconsciously embraced.
I think about, and picture, the things I want to see happen in the lives of those I love, as well as in my own. I remind myself of the higher callings on myself and my family, beyond just surviving and getting by.
I start to imagine the endless possibilities to pursue interests and income opportunities for myself and my family.
I pray. I bring all of this before Father, knowing that He loves me and wants what is best for me, and for those I love. I (attempt) to leave it all in His hands.
So, before you form a picture in your mind of me just contentedly sitting quiet and spending an hour or more caught up in rapture and bliss…….let me remind you, I am NOT a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t get up any earlier than I have to, and I do NOTHING before coffee!!!
All those things I mentioned above, they may start with a minute or two of sitting quiet, maybe get my daily reading in, and then the rest often transpires throughout the day as I go about my tasks, my job…..just my real, everyday life. So though I don’t get up an hour earlier etc., just that few short minutes before I am thrown into my day, sets the tone for the rest of the day, mentally.
It doesn’t magically make everything go great that day
It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated and impatient
It doesn’t mean I don’t think, or say, something I shouldn’t
It just means that when I screw up or something goes wrong, I have a mental/spiritual anchor point that I can go back to and launch again from there.
These other things, they don’t define me, and I refuse to let them derail me any longer.
I refuse to let the circumstances of life lie to me anymore about who I am, or about who God is.
I am going to release the things that are not mine to carry, and focus on living, really living…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. . . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I watched an amazing transformation the other night – from fear to freedom!!
My son’s dog is a 2+ year old Boerboel – a South African Mastiff bred to protect African farm animals from lions. So you would think fear wouldn’t really be an issue around the house here.
Our garage has been turned into a hang-out spot and the dog used to love coming out and sittiing with everyone. But there was an electrical issue and he got shocked a couple of times walking past the pellet stove. The issue was rectified, but that dog now HATED coming to the garage…..and when he did come out, he headed right for the door to go outside and when he came back in, he bee-lined it for the door going into the house.
This went on for months, and it was very sad because Gotti really wanted to be out there with us, but he just couldn’t bring himself to take the chance of getting hurt again.
So, we were out there the other night and my son called the dog out. He came hesitantly, cowering, practically dragging himself on the floor. Jeremy kept calling him and Gotti, so well-trained and obedient, came to Jeremy even though he would have rather done anything else but.
Jeremy praised him, played with him, threw his ball over and over……a. little further away each time. And, by the end of the night, Gotti was quite comfortable and happy, and now can come out and enjoy being with everyone again, instead of being stuck in the house by himself.
There are so many thoughts that came to mind…..
the trust in his master (so many spiritual implications here for me…)
the importance of facing the fear in order to overcome it
how often I let fear limit me
the importance of not waiting for there to be an absence of fear to do something, but to go ahead and do it afraid
I thought of our society, and our children. I’ve long felt that we are crippling our children by bubble wrapping them and trying to protect them from any hurtful thing in life.
I mean, we can’t even play the games or have the playground equipment anymore that we used to have as kids because someone might get hurt!!!
We reward for things that weren’t earned because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or damage their self-esteem.
We give everyone a medal even if they didn’t win.
We pass children on grade after grade, yet they never master the skills and knowledge that are required and were meant to prepare them for their future!
Where are they going to learn about real courage?
How will they experience the thrill of accomplishing something that they had to work for, try for, maybe even fight for?
Mom, Dad……I hate to break it to you, but you’re not always going to be here. One day, these kids are going to be living life without you and HAVE to fend for themselves. Do you really want them trying to figure all that out as young adults with the foundation of indulgence, entitlement, and coddling to build on?
They may have never actually worked for ANYTHING a day in their life!!!!
Their employer isn’t going to care about their self-esteem!
We HAVE to stop crippling our children!! They HAVE to learn to cope, to achieve, to earn, to work, to try, to fail and try again!!!!
WE NEED TO REQUIRE THINGS FROM OUR CHILDREN!!
We are not doing them any favours by ‘protecting’ them from the challenges of life.
Gotti was afraid of the garage…..now he owns it!!!!
Life often holds unexpected, unforeseen, and definitely unwelcome surprises.
The specific circumstances can be varied. Sometimes it is bad news, like a job loss, or a diagnosis, or the death of a family member or friend.
Our relationships can be difficult, maybe even fraught with unwelcome pain and heartache. In fact, just about any meaningful relationship, usually involves some times of discord or conflict.
You have been put in a position or situation you never wanted to be in.
Yet, here you are…
So what to do when these unwelcome events transpire?
For me, my bottom line is that I am not in this by myself, and there is Someone bigger than me that is going every step of the way through this, right along with me.
No matter how hard it gets, I have learned that as unwelcome as these difficult times can be, some of my greatest lessons, some of the deepest work in me as a person, and some of my greatest courage and strength, have come out of these difficult and painful times.
To say that I have felt overwhelmed by life some days, is an epic understatement, and I think you know what I mean. You don’t have to have lived very long before you are flooded with thoughts like:
This is hopeless…
I can’t do this…
This is too big…
This is too much…
I’m not going to make it…
We may want to run, we may want to isolate, we may even want to medicate but we all know, that though those coping methods may help in the moment, they do not provide solutions, and often only create bigger problems.
I don’t know how you will deal with whatever circumstance you find yourself in. Can you just hear though, that no matter how dark it seems, there is hope, there is light, there is healing, there is breakthrough…..if you just don’t give up.
Don’t overlook or underestimate the fact thatin spite of everything…
Yet, here you are!
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Forty years ago today, broken, empty, and a single mom without hope for the future, someone told me that Jesus loved me more than I could ever imagine, not when I got myself cleaned up and put back together, but right in the middle of the mess I called my life.
I’m sure I’d heard it before – I had believed in God for as long as I could remember. But this time, lost and alone, I actually heard it…..not just with my ears, but deep down, in the core of my being…and though it seemed preposterous that He would want anything to do with a screw up like me…..I believed.
Without Him, I would not be who I am today. I would not be where I am today. I would not have the life I have today, the family I have today….in fact, I’m not sure I’d even be alive.
Oh it hasn’t all been easy, in fact, it’s been damn hard some days!! I’ve had days where I have been overwhelmed with life circumstances, before my feet ever hit the floor! Pain, sorrow, grief, loss, disappointment, fear, dread…..these are very real and very present some days. Combined with my own shortcomings, failures, and flaws…..and dear God, how could I even imagine that there was any point in going on?
I had someone tell me once that I underestimated my own strength, and that I could have probably survived just fine without God through all of life’s challenges, and he was probably right. I could maybe have stood strong and toughed it through, but I NEVER would have experienced that peace that fell on me like a blanket in one of the most painful moments of my life, or the hope that kept me moving forward, knowing that no matter how terrible things looked and felt, there was someone bigger than me making a way in the wilderness, a way where there seemed to be no way, a path of hope, peace, and trembling trust that led, not around the mountain in front of me, but right straight through it.
I still fail….maybe even more in some ways. I swear more than I used to, I may enjoy one glass of wine too many, every now and then, and I still don’t understand why some things happen the way they do, especially to the people they happen to. There are many questions I have that will never be answered this side of eternity and if I could do things over again, there are many things I would do much differently.
But for all the things I don’t know, I know this…..it’s His grace and His love that pick up and go the distance when my weaknesses and failures have left me like dust, when un-welcome, unforeseen, blind-siding life circumstances that I never would have wished for, intrude so suddenly, or when I just have a crap day and don’t even live up to my own expectations.
I am still His, He is still mine, and there is still hope – even for me. <3
Tomorrow I begin something that I never thought I’d ever hear myself say……a six week fitness program, for real, like with exercise and everything!!!
Not gonna lie, I hate exercise! It hurts, it’s work, and I don’t look ANYTHING like the people on the videos, and I don’t move like them either!!! What was I thinking??
What I was thinking was, “I can’t keep doing (or not doing) the same thing year after year and expect real and lasting change.”
So what has held me back all these years? In a word…..FEAR. Fear of commitment, fear of failure, fear of having something required of me, fear of pain, fear of being vulnerable, fear of being held accountable, and fear of having my fears exposed…
It isn’t wrong to feel fear. There are some situations that if you don’t feel fear, you’re likely not breathing either. Fear has a purpose. It can alert us to danger before the danger is even apparent.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but moving forward in spite of the fear.
Joyce Meyer says that if you know you’re supposed to do something and you are afraid, then you just do it afraid!
I KNOW I am supposed to do this, and I know that it is Jesus that wants me to do it – if for no other reason than the fact that I would NEVER consider doing this on my own!!! In fact, when I felt He was telling me I needed to do this, I just laughed and said God, you have me mistaken with someone else….. Yeah, He’s funny like that. Like the saying that He loves me just as I am, but He loves me too much to leave me just as I am.
Tomorrow I begin this six week commitment, and I definitely have fear. Fears that say I am not good enough, I will never be able to do this, I don’t fit in, I will look stupid, I should be embarrassed even considering this, I’m a poser…. blah, blah, blah. I can bow to these fears and stay stuck, controlled by lies, excuses, and uncertainty.
But I am meant for more.
So I will step out and move into what is unfamiliar, uncomfortable, stretching (in more ways than one) and experience change, growth, and transformation!!!
Please listen to the video….it makes me weep.
“It is for freedom that Jesus set us free….” Galatians 5:1