Posted in Abundance, and Love, faith, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Free Fall, Freedom, God, Gratitude, Healing, Healing a Wounded Soul, Hope, Impossible, lessons, life, life and death, life lessons, Love, Obstacles, Pain, Passion, soul surgery, Tattered and Mended, Transparency, Uncategorized, Winning, Writing

In which I realize we ARE more than conquerors…

No, in all these things, we are MORE than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Romans 8:37 (NIV)

Romans 8 is going to be my favorite passage of scripture soon. Mostly because I will be reading and RE-reading it over and over and over again until it actually sits firmly rooted in my heart and mind. I would post the entire passage here, but for brevity and clarity’s sake, I will restrict myself to the most poignant aspects that hit me recently in a cherished conversation with a person who grows ever more beloved to me with each passing year of my life.

A little background before I dive in…

It’s my 33rd birthday today and I woke up after a crazy few weeks of sleepless nights, physical pain and suffering through a miscarriage, fog brought on by a nasty head cold, and other sundry craziness, to a dreary, gray day made absolutely BEAUTIFUL through the restorative and healing power of my Savior. I got a phone call from my mother at 7:33am, the exact time I came into the world kicking and screaming (at least I believe I was kicking and screaming given that’s how I usually deal with shocking situations. As beautiful as a birth is, it’s also so very traumatic for both mother and child and I’m positive that’s the truth given my own three beauties who showed up after nine months of pregnancy…my thanks to the fourth baby who decided to bypass that and just enjoy life at the feet of Jesus, waiting for me to join her)

Shortly after the phone call began, my beloved children jumped into bed (yes, I did sleep in this morning…sue me.) and sang a beautiful and slightly off-key rendition of Happy Birthday. My husband gave me his birthday wishes right around midnight last night before he conked out and snored his way through the rest of MY sleepless night, so I know I am FULLY and COMPLETELY loved…

Anyway, the conversation with my mom was a perfect reminder to me why following Christ MUST be shared in a community, because not only was I blessed by her call, I was blessed to be able to bless her with some words of encouragement that God laid on my heart. What an AWESOME way to begin my birthday celebration…with eyes FIXED on my Creator, the one who knit me in my mother’s womb and called me fearfully and wonderfully made.

Romans 8 came afterward, but it fit in SO well and was once more a reminder of what happens when our eyes are fixed on Christ. My mom told me to write down the words I spoke, so I will try to do so, and hope that I do them justice. I know full well that I am not the first, nor am I the last person to realize an important truth about Christ and the cross, but I do hope that this can serve to encourage others in an area I know is a common human condition.

A situation arose recently where our first reaction was anger and hurt. It’s amazing really how often situations like that arise. My husband, my children, my extended family, my friends and acquaintances…all have the power to wound me in many ways and more often than not, they don’t even realize just how deeply wounded and hurt I have been by their words or actions. The tendency to anger and bitterness when wounded is so very easy to fall into and I am guilty more times than I can count. It’s a reaction, like a wounded animal cornered, with no other recourse to defend itself and protect the wound, except to attack. Instinctive, immediate, and often with long-lasting repercussions.

The problem with this reaction, this protecting of our wounds through anger and clinging to the hurts inflicted by others, is that in the end, the only one who bears the consequences is the one wounded and bleeding out. As I stated before, we cling to wounds that the one who wounded often does not even realize a wound was inflicted. While we are cursing and calling down judgment on them in our pain and anger, they remain oblivious and unaffected.

But a bitter root takes hold in US, the wounded, allowing poison to seep in to every crevice of that wound, reopening old wounds, and creating new ones as we focus on the source of the wound. It is often an insidious and creeping thing, insinuating itself into every aspect of our life and coloring everything with its bitter, dark hue. Soon enough, our relationships suffer, our physical bodies suffer, and we cut ourselves off from the very source that can come in and heal any wound inflicted, no matter how deep or devastating.

This is such a difficult concept for me to grasp, and this morning, Romans 8 indirectly influenced my perspective and I read it with new eyes after my conversation with my mom.

Before I get into that passage more, I want to address the direct influence that started the revelation.

A few days ago, I was listening to several of my favorite apologetics teachers, among them, Michael Ramsden, Ravi Zacharias, and a new favorite, Nabeel Qureshi. I believe it was the last one I am referencing today, but each man has, in his own way, been a revealer of this particular truth to me. Forgive me, because the next little bit is going to delve into a not so pretty picture, but it illustrates the point so beautifully, that I cannot NOT write about it.

So Doctor Qureshi was describing exactly WHAT Christ went through leading up to and on the cross and I wept through his entire message. I don’t think we in America really have a solid grasp on exactly how HORRIFIC his crucifixion actually was. Even The Passion, a particularly gruesome visual, cannot come even close to the reality and part of me is thankful for that. The other part feels that lack of reality gives us license as Christians to downplay the work on the cross to a fortunate byproduct of an unfortunate tragedy. Thus we also downplay its full effect in our own lives, to our detriment.

I’m paraphrasing here, but this is the basic rundown. Crucifixion was one of the most torturous and pure evil forms of punishment the Roman Empire thought up to get rid of their enemies. Only the WORST of criminals were sentenced to death this way and no Roman citizen was ever allowed to suffer its abject humiliation. It was reserved for the ones Rome most desired to use as a devastating example of what happened to those who opposed them. The story goes that the Emperor Nero lined his gardens with crucified Christians and torched them, to light the way for his macabre dinner parties. I’m not 100% certain on the veracity of that particular story, but given his madness, I can believe it to be true.

Even before the convicted criminal MADE it to the cross, the Romans ensured the condemned would not make it out alive. It puts the Resurrection into even more poignant perspective because in all of Roman history, not one crucified person made it out of the ordeal alive. Not ONE. When people make claims that Jesus MIGHT have survived the crucifixion through some sort of divine intervention (downplaying the power of the cross and its redemptive work) that claim is categorically untrue.

The condemned Christ suffered the humiliation of jeering, spitting, mocking crowds, but that was just the beginning. When the soldiers took him to be whipped, they did an even more thorough job than usual. Often times, their victims died on the whipping block because of the depths of their depraved torture. Blood loss, broken bones, entrails exposed. Somehow, he had no broken bones, in spite of the worst attempts by the guards to do so, but he fulfilled the prophecy through that miracle. By the end of the 39+1 lashes, the person resembled nothing remotely human. Their skin hung in shredded tatters, bloodied and misshapen, bones and muscles exposed. It was called the predeath, if they didn’t make it to the cross alive, but that never stopped the Romans from finishing their grotesque work.

We’ve seen pictures of the holocaust and shuddered at the reality we are exposed to in those grainy images. Do any of us actually imagine that Hitler was the first or most creative executioner? Through the millennia, the utter depravity of tyrants and despots only changes location and time period. What Hitler and Stalin and Mao Zedong, and Lenin and Hussein and others did to millions, the Romans perfected in their own despicable way in the broken body of our Savior.

By the time Christ was forced to carry the cross, not only did he not look human, but he was naked and barely strong enough to stand, let alone carry the weight of those heavy wooden poles. Some speculate that a crucifixion cross weighed around 300 pounds. I can’t imagine bench-pressing that on a GOOD day. Imagine carrying that weight about 650 yards uphill, from Pilate’s palace to Golgotha. Naked, dehydrated, and resembling a bloody side of beef. It was no wonder, Simon of Cyrene stepped in to carry it the rest of the way, once Jesus collapsed and was ministered to by the women who loved him best.

I took care of a patient once who had a GI bleed so bad, she painted her room with it. Unintentionally. She died shortly after, but I remember that day like it was yesterday. The horror of walking in and seeing her covered in her own blood. I was a teenager still and recoiled, gagging on the smell of death in her room. It took everything in me to go and tend to her, to wash her clean and push away my own instinct to run away screaming.  I still smell that and see it in my mind’s eye just writing it.

(I did warn you this would not be pretty)

I cannot imagine Jesus’ mother seeing her son in such devastation and not being horrified by his image, yet tradition indicates she tended him on the Way of Suffering and offered him water to drink. And Jesus even managed to preach to the women who followed him, weeping over him. If there was ever a sign that Christ truly was fully GOD AND fully MAN, we see it right here in this picture painted in Scripture.

At the end of the Via Dolorosa, Jesus was placed on the cross and nails were driven with great force through his hands and feet. The word, hands, was a bit of a misnomer. He would actually have been nailed right between the two major bones on his forearm, the radius and ulna and directly through the median nerve that traverses the arm. My husband had his ulnar nerve moved after a surgical procedure following his life-threatening car accident. Unfortunately the nerve was shifted in such a way that it sits on the outside part of his arm, a bit unprotected. He has described the excruciating sensation that occurs when that nerve is struck by anything. I might say it’s a bit comparable to childbirth or getting hit in the family jewels depending on your gender, but it leaves quickly once the source of the pain is gone. Jesus didn’t get that relief. He had nails, 7 inches long, driven through the median nerve and the fiery pain must have forced agonized cries with every jolt and shudder. The nails through his feet created their own form of torture, for while it offered him something to push against so he could breathe, it also prolonged his death because the very real will to live that every human body instinctively battles would have forced Jesus to push against that agonizing, horrifying pain to take just one more breath.

I’m weeping just writing this.

Without the nails in his feet, he would have suffocated, unable to draw up to pull air into his lungs. It would have been excruciating, but over far more quickly. Jesus lingered for SIX hours in this state. They offered him bitter gall, a vinegary, sour beverage mixed with myrrh to make it go down a little easier. It was the closest thing to a narcotic, according to some commentaries, but nauseating to consume. He refused even that small, mocking mercy. They posted a sign above his head, claiming him King of the Jews and they jeered at him, casting lots for his clothes.

If the Roman guards wished to entertain themselves further and end a crucifixion that cut into their meal times, they would break the bones in the legs to initiate the afore-mentioned asphyxiation. By the time they got to Jesus, he had already died, so instead, they pierced his side. Blood and water gushed forth. How he managed to have any body fluids left after six hours of this torture, I have no idea.

All of this to state one thing: In the hours before he died, Jesus prayed. He did not curse his tormentors. He did not condemn those whose sins sent him to this final excruciating death. (hint: that’s all of us) He didn’t even curse His Father for sending Him to take our punishment upon Himself. He had no words of condemnation or bitter anger toward all who had wounded and destroyed Him. What did He say instead?

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34 (NIV)

And in the FINAL moment before He took His last, excruciating breath, he absolved every ONE of those who sent Him to the cross with:

“It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30 (NIV)

Do any of us realize exactly how significant these final words were? Still are? Absolution, forgiveness, and redemption. In the midst of the worst form of humiliation and suffering any man could possibly endure, Christ took every last wound onto Himself, carried the weight of our sin, and released us to freedom through the power of His blood shed on the cross.

It makes my suffering from the wounds of others look paltry and petty in comparison doesn’t it? If I want to be truly honest with myself, most of the wound is inflicted by my own refusal to release the bitterness and anger and forgive as Christ forgave me.

Oh but, Christ forgave and forgot it all, we say. He’s divine and the cross was nothing to him, we claim. He went willingly and He’s God. Surely, it’s NOTHING to what we suffer when someone intentionally or unintentionally wounds us. Why would we WILLINGLY take on the burden of someone else’s sin and forgive them? That’s Christ’s job.

It’s amazing to me how much I love to pick and choose the character qualities of Christ I want to emulate. I don’t recall that particular passage in the Bible. You know. The one that says, “Choose one or two of Christ’s character qualities and imitate Him in those areas where you are stronger. Ignore the rest, because, hey, we’re only human, right?”

No. I DO recall the verse that says,

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Luke 5:1-2 (NASB)

And the one that says,

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27

And this one,

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18 (NIV)

Of course, our present sufferings more than likely referenced persecution and trials experienced by Christians in Paul’s time, but the concept stays the same. The wounds inflicted by others no matter how severe or how petty, are NOTHING compared to the glory that Christ will reveal in us, as we choose, daily (and sometimes hourly or moment by moment) to walk as the redeemed and restored image bearers of our Savior and God.

The beginning of Romans 8 expounds on the differences between living according to our flesh (and subsequently dying because of it) and living according to the spirit of Christ in us (and facing eternity, fully and completely alive). Paul speaks in another of his awesome letters about the light and momentary afflictions that trouble us here on earth preparing us for bigger and better things, and eternal glory basking in the light of Christ Jesus.

Light and momentary afflictions?

This from the man who was jailed, beaten, bruised, threatened, mocked, tortured, whipped, and eventually decapitated for his faith in Christ. I’m beginning to think that my definition of wounding and suffering are SLIGHTLY skewed.

I’ve carried the offense of wounds long scarred for YEARS before finally releasing them into the Father’s hands. My light and momentary afflictions are more often self-inflicted, if I choose to be honest about it. I CHOOSE to prolong the pain and bitterness by rejecting Christ’s example and withholding forgiveness. I’m being as gentle as a bull in a China shop when I say with all respect,

How arrogant of me. Of us. Did I ignore that command to forgive as Christ forgave us? When He forgave, he didn’t half-ass it. (pardon the French, but I’m going for emphasis here) He said, IT IS FINISHED…

And He meant EVERY LAST WORD.

Yet I hold on to offenses, both real and imagined with the iron will of a wild animal who grips its prey in jaws so tight that only death can pry them loose. Only, I find, I am the prey AND the predator. I bit down hard and now am bleeding out around the wound, all the while accusing the original offender of the crime. Am I truly willing to give up eternal glory for a temporary offense? Is my momentary affliction, given by another, TRULY justification for my continued clinging to an offense Christ already called FINISHED two thousand years ago?

Romans 8 is my new favorite passage. And if you stayed with me through this rather long-winded exposition, I pray that it will soon become yours as well.

itisfinished.jpg

 

Advertisements
Posted in Abundance, BeachBody, benefits of exercise, Entrepreneur, exercise, Finances, Financial Peace, Free Fall, Freedom, goals, Home Based Business, life lessons, Obstacles, Passion, Possibilities, Transparency, Uncategorized, Why, Winning, Writing

In which I create my client persona…

Oddly enough, my client looks a lot like me. 🙂

Sarah

I could add a whole lot more to that list, but I was trying to give a summary. And I’m not JUST looking for people exactly like me. But it’s a nice place to start. Especially given that I can relate with a person who has gone or is going through what I have and do go through on a daily basis.

I started Beachbody coaching in January and I am terrified every single day that I won’t make it as a coach. I see my successes as a lucky break and there are days when my fears keep me from inviting a single person to change their lives. NOT because I’m afraid of their response to my invitation. I’m afraid that I will fail THEM in the end.

I mean, let’s face it. I’m not a model coach on my BEST days. My follow up still needs a LOT of work and I still have stretches where I don’t work out every day like I am encouraging others to do. Sometimes, my invites sound like a sales pitch and I know I’ve lost before I even get started because I AM the product and I failed to prove that.

I do have an amazing story to tell and not everyone is going to catch fire like I did when I finally realized it. I’m okay with that. What I’m NOT okay with, is letting my own fears douse MY fire right out of the gate. And in the process lose my why and my ability to change lives. How can I change lives if my own passion has fizzled? What use am I if I can’t even motivate myself to work hard and not just wait for you to come to me?

This is a difficult business. It’s not a walk in the park, and my first few months prove that. I hit goals because me and my husband worked our tails off and proved the results to the people we helped. I can’t sit down on the job and expect to bring in a $1500/week paycheck. I’m blessed to be paying for my own Shakeology right now.

I want so badly to be a team leader and to raise up others who are just like me. So I have to constantly return to the bigger picture. A lot of hard work in the beginning is going to make waves the more lives I change every month. I WILL reap the rewards in the long run, and in some ways I am already seeing rewards in the lives I am already inspiring to change.

The first life I have to change, though, is me.

Posted in BeachBody, discipline, dreams, Entrepreneur, faith, Family, Free Fall, Freedom, goals, God, Gratitude, Hope, Joy, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, Passion, soul surgery, Spiritual disciplines, Time Management, Uncategorized, Why, Winning, Writing

In which I rest and refresh…

I’ve been so pumped up about BeachBody in the last two weeks that I almost decided against attending the IFGathering at my church this weekend. I’d registered several weeks ago and promptly forgot about it until I got some reminder emails this week. Still I thought it would be just too much and throw off my stride. It was a two day affair with an ALL day Saturday session. When would I get my workout in? What would the kids do? Is it even worth going? What about doing all my business stuff or just relaxing this weekend?

Then I got an email asking me to be a table hostess at the IFGathering. And it wasn’t demanding or obligatory, but there was just something in the wording of the email that made me take a second look. I could have said no. I knew they had others who could fill the role. But I read it and realized that God was asking something of me.

You see, it’s a good thing to get pumped up and excited about the different roles or passions you pursue. At times, I am SO fired up about being a wife or a mommy or both and I put ALL my energy and time into those roles. Not a bad thing at all. Lately, it’s my business launch and I’ve been spending every available moment building and growing and learning and beginning. Again, not a bad thing.

Sometimes, however, there’s a nudge in my heart that God is asking me a question. Kind of like an, “Abraham, will you give up EVERYTHING, including your promised son, to follow me?” sort of question.

A lot of times–more times than I want to admit–I ignore that voice or I don’t hear it over the cacophony of other voices I’ve allowed to drown out the ONE voice I should listen for at all times of my life.

This time, thank God for His grace, my ears were open and listening. That little nudge turned into a gentle whisper and He asked me to give up my weekend to just spend it in His embrace.

I always know that those times when I give up everything else for time with Him that the rewards are AMAZING. I am refreshed, restored, and more eager than ever to accomplish the goals I’ve set for my other roles in life. But often, I just ignore it anyway. Why?

Foolishness. Pride. Fear. Guilt. Pig-headedness.

Legitimately human responses, right? We know what’s good for us, but we somehow decide that our “rights” are more important than His Will. We experience the goodness of communion with Him, but we forget far too quickly what that’s like in our quest for stubborn independence.

All that to say, the weekend didn’t have much at all to do with my business goals and my family didn’t see much of me for 24 hours. I didn’t get my Saturday workout in and I ate more carbs than is healthy for me.

But God had ALL of me and wow! That was MORE than enough for me.

iStock_000002930325XSmallB

Posted in Abundance, BeachBody, benefits of exercise, Carpe Diem, debt free living, discipline, dreams, Entrepreneur, exercise, faith, Family, Finances, Financial Peace, Free Fall, Freedom, goals, God, Gratitude, Healing, Home, Home Based Business, Hope, Humor, Joy, life, life lessons, marriage, mission, Pain, Passion, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Uncategorized, Why, Writing

In which I expound on my WHY…

Okay, so I went into a little bit of my why in my introductory post, but I didn’t really…

But what is a WHY you ask?

Well, it is sort of self-explanatory, but in this particular situation, there is a bit more to it. So explanation first.

A WHY is the reason for a major life change or decision. A WHY is what pushes you past the obstacles and the struggles and the pain to come out on the other side, a VICTOR. A WHY tells others the reason for your sometimes insanely enthusiastic, motivational posts on Facebook…

Got it? Good.  2

On to MY why…

I joined the BeachBody team as a customer because I was tired of being sick and tired all the time. I wanted results and I was willing to work hard to get them. And believe me, the workouts are no picnic. That might have to do with the fact that I’m doubling up to train for a marathon this summer. Or it might not. My  muscles burn whether I run or not.

So my why was wrapped up in the idea that I wanted to be healthy and whole for as long as I live on this earth. Obviously, I cannot control every aspect. I mean I might have to be DRAGGED across the finish line when I run my last marathon at 80 years old, but I CAN control my eating and workouts until then. I might get cancer, but I can do everything in my power to stay healthy and feed my body the good (non-carcinogenic) stuff to minimize that risk.

Because it all comes down to choice.

I choose, every day, to get out of my warm, comfortable bed and burn calories while trying to remember to suck in my (shrinking) gut. I choose to bench press a little heavier every time because I COULD stay with the eight pound weights, but they feel so light in my grip now I might end up accidentally throwing them through the TV screen on my upswing. I choose to NOT eat that piece of cake because my taste buds are FINALLY craving things like carrots and Shakeology and avocados.

Ever heard of Pavlov? Yeah, I know all about conditioning.

We choose junk food because we chose it once and then again until our bodies forgot what health was and adjusted its tastes. But we can also REcondition our bodies to enjoy the good stuff again.

So that was my why for joining BeachBody in the first place. I wanted health and wellness and to last long enough to have my great grand-kids drag me across the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

Becoming an Independent Coach with BeachBody? That’s a whole other WHY all together.

I got a degree in Nursing and by the time I was finished five years after I started, I lost my motivation for it. I forgot my WHY. I’ve volunteered as a nurse at free clinics and had a job a few years out of college, but I never really held onto my why. So I’ve bounced around searching for my why again, trying a few different avenues non-nursing related.

Nothing fit. I’m passionate about a lot of things. Even nursing, though a lot of THAT passion was wrapped up in the fact that I came from several generations of nurses. But my original why was lost in the shuffle and I felt aimless.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve found other passions in my life and other WHYs. I wanted to get married and walk this life with a man who chooses God first and builds his own faith while encouraging and challenging me in mine. I wanted to have children with this same God-honoring man in order to raise up a generation that loves God and represents Christ well. And I really LOVE children. I wanted them to teach me how to love unconditionally and give unreservedly. And they do, every single day. Some days better than others…

So I wasn’t unfulfilled, but I also still wanted to rediscover my WHY and find a way to channel it, whether it was through nursing or through some other avenue that God opened up for me.

But I floated around for a while and jumped into things without really recovering my WHY. Which meant money spent and wasted on hobbies that I didn’t even take out long enough to actually call it a real hobby. I wanted more. I wanted a why that would change the world, one person at a time.

BeachBody Coaching is NOT my WHY. It’s not even my passion. At least, it’s not the whole thing anyway. It’s a tool, a building block, an active pursuit toward my passion. Toward my WHY.

My WHY is this. And I have BeachBody to thank for reminding me of it. My WHY is that I want to help heal the hurts of others. Not in the, “Give me your problems and I will fix EVERYTHING for you,” way. I don’t want to FIX other people’s problems as much of a fixer as I am.

What I want to do is, along with my husband who supports and loves me no matter what, build my business, pay off my debts, and owe no one anything but the continuing debt of love. I want to point others to Christ and do it by showing them how to run the race to win the prize.

My WHY has everything to do with bringing my own body under submission, so that I can prove to others it not only CAN be done, but it MUST be done. I want to share my freedom and passion with others so that they can see the character of God within me. I cannot live a full, exemplary life if I’m not willing to discipline myself in EVERY area of my life. And I use my BeachBody coaching as a jumping off point to encourage others to seek that holistic wholeness.

That, and I REALLY like to beat my body into submission. I highly recommend it.

So yeah. I love the idea of becoming a Diamond Coach and traveling the globe with and without my family along for the ride. I love the idea of making a full time salary on a part time schedule. I love the idea of finally getting out of debt and living like no one else and GIVING like no one else. The monetary aspect is appealing.

But even more so, I want to bring LIFE to others. I want my love and passion to infuse others with a new energy and a renewed sense of accomplishment. I want my presence to be healing and comforting, not bitter and destructive. I want to share my joy with others.

And being a BeachBody Independent Coach is the platform I’ve chosen to bring that life and joy and hope to the world. It’s the way I’ve chosen to share my WHY.

 

Posted in Abundance, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, grief, Healing, Hope, Joy, life, Love, Pain, soul surgery, Tattered and Mended, War, Writing

In which I start a New Year

I began 2016 in a bad place. Oh, I’m pretty sure I put on a good face. I smiled and laughed my way through the holidays, but the dark places don’t always engulf you at first. Sometimes, it’s a slow, insidious crawl through the light until all that’s left is a tiny pinprick of flickering luminescence in the distance and your eyes have already adjusted to its absence.

It usually is the little things. Like child training going well until a little, repetitive irritant starts to escalate a situation until you find your voice is hoarse and your children look at you like you’ve just stolen the most precious thing in their world. And they ask why.

Or the quirks that endeared you to your husband become a creeping, crawling noise that shatters your stillness and you want to blame him for all that is wrong in your world.

Or family and their obligations that would normally fill you with unceasing joy, but now become another task on your to-do list that you desperately hope to check off.

Or time spent in the Word that used to feel so sweet and precious, but now feels like an unpleasant, additional hurdle you have to cross after you just broke the tape at the finish line.

And you wake up one morning wondering where all your joy went. More importantly, you wonder where that inexplicable peace went that you know you experienced just a few short weeks ago. When all was calm and bright and your nights were restful and your days a fountain of smiles and giggles and beautiful little gifts in the form of four foot and under pixies and a handsome, hardworking, amazingly patient man who treats you like the world revolves around you.

All the things that used to fill you with overwhelming pleasure, feels tired and exhausting. Or maybe those pleasures are still there, waiting for you, only YOU are too exhausted to care.

You don’t care.

But somewhere, in the darkness, that pinprick of light is still there and it whispers and sings to your heart.

Call me. Come to me. You, who are heavy laden. I AM your rest. Let me carry you.

So you answer. You reach out and take hold of that whispering melody and it washes over you in a flood of tears and pain and an agony of soul that you find difficult to describe to anyone who has never experienced it before. But your limbs are infused with strength and your heart feels the beginnings of something that seems very close to the peace you desperately seek. And you find the tenacity and will to hold on as the waves break over you and you try not to drown in them.

For me, the pinprick of light is a direct link to my Savior. My Lover, my Hope, my Truth, my Friend. His song, plays in my heart, whether it be through the beautiful voice of a precious friend or a song of worship reminding me of His amazing grace or a verse that I’ve passed over a million times before, but suddenly it awakens and stirs my soul on the million and first time.

I fear the darkness. Not that such fear is healthy and I would not recommend it. Fear of the darkness often keeps me firmly rooted in the middle of it when I should be reaching out to grasp the Light. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. Just stating a fact.

What I fear more, however, is losing the Light. My soul, my shattered heart could live without so much, but without the Light, I am nothing. I have nothing.

And that is not something I can ever bear to contemplate. Instead, I take a hold of God’s grace and His mercy and let it wash away the darkness. I grasp onto Him with all the desperation of a drowning woman and He refuses to let go.

In the end, as peace fills me once again, all I can ask is,

How can it be?

If I never know the answer to that question, I’ve discovered that I can be content in knowing the One who holds the answer.

rest-e1399147565220

Posted in Abundance, Age, Birthday, Books, Carpe Diem, Celebration, dreams, faith, Family, Free Fall, goals, God, Gratitude, Home, Hope, Humor, Joy, lessons, life, life lessons, Love

In which I count down the minutes…

It’s my golden birthday in eleven minutes 31 seconds…30…29…28…27…26…

31 on the 31st of March.

I’m turning thirty-one. They have a bag company called Thirty-One. I’ve never really figured out why. Then again, I’m not really interested in thirty-one varieties of a bag.

Thirty-one varieties of chocolate on the other hand…or thirty-one cupcakes. If I didn’t have to worry about gaining thirty-one pounds just looking at that pile of delicious.

I had a list of all the things I wanted to do before I turned thirty-one. I’ve since expanded the list to include all the years I have left AFTER thirty-one. The original list had thirty-one items on it. That too has expanded. As has my waist.

I think my waist is 31 inches actually…or it used to be before I had kids.

So let’s see. Some of the items on my original list which will turn thirty-one on my 47th birthday:

  1. Marry a European prince
  2. Live in Australia
  3. Have fifteen children (just to say I had more than my grandmother)
  4. Get married before I turned 23 (it was originally 19, but I couldn’t find any decent guys at that age)
  5. Own my own wall to wall, ceiling to floor Beauty and the Beast style library (never mind the sheer impossibility of that animated room, but come on people…the FIREPLACE)
  6. Marry a man who was around fifteen years older than me (give or take, because I was completely into Mr. Knightly at that point in my life) Even 31 years older didn’t seem too bad.
  7. Go into acting and live in Hollywood
  8. Live in Europe for a while so I could train under operatic masters like Pavarotti or Bocelli
  9. Own a dude ranch out west (in my case, a dudette ranch) and tame the mighty Mustang
  10. Own a Lipizzaner or an Andalusian…or both
  11. Marry an Irishman
  12. Publish a book before I turn 19 (which is now changed to 40)

Those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head. I think there was something in there about being a missionary to Africa and being a multimillionaire so I would never have to worry about money again. There might have been something about being a model, but that one came off pretty quick once I realized that I didn’t want to be a plus-sized model and they’d never take me on as a stereotypical one either…31 inch waist…remember?

Most of that list was highly romanticized and extremely ridiculous in nature. Silly, now that I look back on my sixteen year old self. I was just trying to find myself without any clue as to how to start. I had a compass…sort of…

If you call, hanging on my parent’s coattails of faith and hoping that would pass muster, a compass. I talked a good talk and I viewed the world with rose-colored glasses, all the while wondering why my glasses always seemed a little more on the grey side. My depth perception on life was as bad as the multiple astigmatisms in my physical eyes. I spouted romantic ideology and scripture verses like they would somehow solve all of my doubts and questions. Proverbs 31 was my model of a REAL woman, as I knew what that even meant.

Then I wondered why my doubts and questions just seemed a whole lot bigger. For every one answer, I’d get thirty-one new questions.

I’ve made lots of “bucket” lists since then. Not thirty-one, but a few more than that original. Each time, they’d get a little more practical. I gave up the notion of fifteen kids at the first bout of morning sickness. Now I wonder why my biological clock is still ticking after three. I gave up voice lessons when I realized my parents were all about the piano and I had to pay for my own vocal training if I wanted to pursue it. I still hold out hope for a hobby farm, but the prince of my dreams is French and Scandinavian…and not really a prince. More like a knight in slightly dented armor (from too many falls off the steed I placed him on when we first met).

I wouldn’t trade my wonderful, beautiful, crazy, amazing life for all of the European princes or Australian outbacks or mature Austen men or Hollywood awards in the world. I don’t think I’ve lost my romantic sensibilities. However, I believe my own growth and development as a person has led to a broader, richer, more vibrant definition of life.

I found my own faith and no longer rely on my parent’s coattails to be my compass. It’s hard to point True North when all you can see is the back of someone. And my parents, I have to say, were rather relieved when they didn’t have to live up to expectations they could never hope to meet. It definitely made our relationship a whole lot better.

I did get married at twenty-two, but he’s only two years older and that hopefully means I get to keep him around a whole lot longer and he still turned thirty-one before I did.

My library WILL be wall to wall someday…already working on it. I have more than thirty-one books, but less than Belle had.

I’ve actually gotten involved in a ministry called Proverbs31 and finally got an idea about what the thirty-first chapter of the book of Wisdom actually meant. I still hold it up as my model. It’s just a bit more realistic a goal to strive for.

My newest list isn’t 31 items long…yet. I’m sure I will add to it and it will change and grow and shrink according to the journey my life takes. I’m excited to see how many of these new goals I can reach before another 31 years goes by. Maybe I’ll have thirty-one grand-kids by then and one of them will be just like me.

And one day, she’ll bring her list of thirty-one goals she wants to complete before she turns thirty-one. I’ll smile and give her a big hug and my waist will no longer be 31 inches or less, so she won’t be able to reach all the way around, but she’ll hug me back. And I’ll count to thirty-one.

I’ll take a deep breath…

I tell her in my grandma voice that cracks with age and no longer reaches notes Pavarotti would envy,

“You keep dreaming, beautiful girl. Every year of your life will be a new chance to strive for new goals and grow into the person God wants you to be, the person God already sees in you. While you search for meaning and try to find out who you are, don’t forget this original list. Someday, you’ll look back on it as a fond memory and you’ll take off those rose-colored glasses that are more on the grey side. You’ll open your eyes. And you’ll wonder how you missed all the color and wonder and craziness and beauty. And you’ll be glad you kept that list. Because it will show you just how far you have come and just how amazing life can be if you keep dreaming.”

Look at that…

Happy Birthday to me. I’m thirty-one.

IMG_5882

Posted in Abundance, and Love, Celebration, discipline, faith, Family, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, Hope, hypocrisy, Joy, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, marriage, Marriage and Family, Pain, soul surgery, spiritual training

In which my desire is for my husband…

lessons-learned-in-project-management

I’ve read that part in Genesis so many times, the page is marked and torn. You know the part.

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

It’s Genesis 3:16 by the way. In case anyone else wants to rub the page thin, trying to figure it out.

I’m no Bible scholar. I have passages memorized from days long past when my parents lovingly and rightly drilled them into my rebellious brain. I get a kick out of the fact that sometimes in the middle of a Sunday sermon, I will find myself whispering the words just one step ahead of the Pastor and my husband’s eyes glow with pride.

“You are amazing, you know that? To have all that knowledge in your head and to recall it so easily.”

Which is high praise when you consider it’s coming from a man who once (and still) suffers from a traumatic brain injury. I think it a source of pride for myself as well, especially when he recognizes it. I’m not saying it’s healthy for me to be proud of my accomplishment in this area. Just that, considering the topic of this post, it’s a kind of irony.

This Christmas, I came face to face with my pride (and this verse in Genesis). I strongly desire my husband’s approval and attention. So strongly, that it colors my own actions or feelings toward him.

I finally get it. The punishment Eve faced was even more insidious and cruel than I first believed and I wanted to be angry at both men and God in the moment the revelation hit me. In the end, though I struggle with wanting to hold on to my own self-righteousness, I place the blame where it belongs. On Eve’s head. And boy, does that admission hurt.

See, I always questioned why Eve would desire the very person who had, in her greatest hour of need, failed her magnificently. Why on earth would she desire him and how could he rule over her when he couldn’t even keep her from taking the fruit of the tree?

Then it hit me. Because I was always thinking the curse actually hurt Adam more than Eve (minus the childbirth part). But I was focusing on Adam. Eve would struggle (women would struggle) for the entirety of their married life with a desire for their husband that often overwhelms their desire for and service to God. It wasn’t so much that Adam would rule over her.

It was that, his action or inaction, words or lack of words, could make or break her. This was not how God designed marriage obviously. He designed it to be a reflection, a shining example of His love for His bride and her submission to Him.  And how could that be when everything in her cried out for her earthly husband’s approval and affirmation? How could she possibly seek after God with her whole heart, when her heart could break over the simplest misstep her husband made.

If he chose passivity, she would struggle over insecurities long buried. If he chose inaction, she would question what she’d done wrong and whether he still loved her.

In the end, her focus, her desire, could very well pull her away from the one thing she needed most. Her heavenly groom’s unconditional and unwavering love.

I gave in to that this Christmas. I focused so hard on my desire for my husband, that I missed my Husband’s joy and affirmation. I focused so hard on my (his) lack, that I missed out on the overflow of His abundance.

I admitted all this to my poor husband, realizing that I’m still not over it. I’m still struggling through it, but I’m aware of my struggle now. And I  pray that I can accept and take joy in where my desire should be focused.

Because I may come to a day when my husband can’t give me the desires of my heart. Not that he won’t, but that through no fault of his own (whether through death or disability or illness–temporary or permanent) he will not be able to be what I need. So I need to stop expecting that now and focus on the joy and gratitude when he does meet a need–focus on it in the right context.

As a part of the overflow of a good and abundant God. Not through any ability or talent of my husband’s, but through the blessing of a God who longs so much to give His children–His bride–good things. Who wants our eyes on His abundance, not on our own lack.