Just keep praying…

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“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 21:22

Struggle.

I’m a firm believer in it’s what grows us.  Is it pleasant?  No.  It’s quite awful.  Growing is often painful stuff…

I’m one of those stick it out-ers.  Wade through the muck-ers.  “I’ve been through worse” kind of people.  My God is bigger.  There are billions of people going through far worse than you at this very moment, Ang.  I tell myself a lot of things.  And then I pray.  I’m always praying.  It’s like breathing for me.  It’s how I inhale.  It’s how I exhale.  It’s how I stay alive, how I move, how I rest, how I love.  But how do you pray when the being you’re struggling with is God?

Now I’ve been through some rough junk in my life (I am trying really hard to refrain from swearing — I’m told it offends people, and I know God doesn’t like it either.  It’s one of my many sins).  Seriously terrible things.  And in all of those dark hours and years upon years and heaps upon heaps of betrayals and darkness that seemed would never end, I never doubted my creator.  Not once.  Yes, there were times I wanted to die — honestly, yes.  I just wanted to be with him and be gone from here.  So.very.yes.  But I never doubted him and his love for me.  Not ever.  Not once.  I even got to a place where I could completely forgive.  And I could thank him.  Because for all the broken and raw those experiences made me — they also made me so very close to him — and they made me real, always real — and always thankful and aware of grace.  And my heart is always open — which is more painful than not — but I’m here to love and live for others, not myself.  Never myself.  Because I don’t want anyone, ever, to feel those things I did — to not have a single person speak up for them — and to later be manipulated or used by people who find them easy prey — be it men or women.  God uses our pain to make us brave.  To make us kind.  To make us love more than we ever thought possible.  He shatters us and breaks us so wide open, we become so empty of ourselves and so full of him.  He doesn’t cause all of that evil to happen to us.  We live in a sinful world.  But he covers us with grace.  He holds us, and he shows us a love like no other.  He is the love we never got, so that we can be the love that others need to know too.  So that we can point them to his amazing grace and love.  That’s a holy miracle, isn’t it?  We are holy miracles, loves, and never let anyone tell you different…

and dammit, (sorry)

I started doubting that…

because of world events

because of things happening in my extended family

because the devil is who he is

because I am who I am

but God is who he is, so we dug in together like we always do (I cleave, people – smile)…

God didn’t mind my questions.  He’s used to my mind being all over the place.  He created it after all.  He’s used to me scrounging the Bible for “all the answers”, walking the bike trail and praying and listening for him, always listening in the quiet for him.  We’re pretty close.  But my heart was broken.  And he knew this.  Who was this God of the Old Testament, the God of hate that kept spewing forth from so many Christians in the media attacking anything they feared and didn’t understand, my biological father’s God whose voice was filling up my nightmares once again justifying all the wrongs done to me, reliving all of those evils in the name of Jesus.  How does one pray?

Non stop.  Heart wide open.  Humbly.  Earnestly.  Relentlessly. Asking for answers, if you are willing, Lord.  And if not answers, peace.   That I may know and find peace again.  But that I may have some sense of resolution, God, please, if that is your will.  But I understand that faith isn’t knowing and understanding everything.  And if I must sit here and wait, please give peace and balm to my soul.  Crying.  Pleading.  Not giving up.  Because I know God can.  Because I know God is able.  Because I know God will. 

Waiting is hard for me.  I’ve had to do it so often.  It is a lesson I know well.  This waiting thing.  This be patient thing.  I’m called upon to do it again and again and again (you’d think I’d be AMAZING at it by now).  God always comes through.  Always.  Often in ways more miraculous than I ever imagined.  And in this case, it was no different…

I received a book in the mail a few days ago that began this peace journey, this ‘seeing the Bible in a whole new way’ journey — this ‘why oh why in the world have I missed the enormous fantastical miracle and life transforming forever and ever praise of that verse’ journey?  The book (like, you have to get this — please, this is so much more than a must read — spirit breathed…) is “Out Of Sorts — Making Peace with an Evolving Faith” by my Sarah — Sarah Bessey — forward by my other sister, Jen Hatmaker.  Please pick it up and let it bless you.  Men, pick it up and let it bless you.  Churches, pick it up and let it bless your entire congregation — especially pastors and ministers — of which we all are to our living faith in our savior.

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The verse that began it all for me was found in the disciple I relate to most (dare I say love the most?) in the Bible, my dear John (smile).  He wrote, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1: 17 It washed over me.  The law was given through Moses — that Mosaic law of do’s and do nots and ‘you’ll never be worthy ofs’ — but grace — and even bolder than that, my friends — TRUTH (you read correctly, truth, glorious TRUTH) — came through Jesus Christ.  Grace and truth.  I’ll hold on to those with my Jesus.  Go ahead and read it again.  And spend a little time with John.  If you ever doubt that men can express love or feeling, spend a little time with John…

I’m not going to make this long as my boys need me.  This girl has spent so much time in her head and in her Bible.  They need their momma.  I read all of Galatians this morning.  Let’s just say that Paul is not my go to guy when it comes to the disciples — because I find him to be too much like me (smile).  He’s a hot head.  He’s reactionary. He gets frustrated and angry and isn’t often the most patient of writers.  But Galatians, it’s my freedom song.  And in it, Sarah reminded me of this amazing treasure that Paul writes — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28   You are ALL ONE in Christ.  Dear Lord, I hear you loud and clear.  And what a shattering turn your world upside down verse that had to be!!!  Thank you, Paul.  Thank you, Lord, and thank you Sarah for reminding me of the way that Jesus sees us, truly sees us.  Not as the world’s cultural dynamic of the time tries to define or sees us, not as the church often sees us, not as I may sometimes see myself.  But as Jesus sees us. We are all one.

Sarah goes into greater detail and speaks to other issues that weighed so heavily on my heart.  I encourage you to take a read — and take your Bible with you.  And remember that Jesus asks us to have faith like a child.  Sarah reminded me of this too.  And what do children do?  They ask a bazillion questions (smile).  Forever and ever.  And that’s okay.  It’s really and forever okay.  God uses them to grow us.  We need to be asking.  It’s a relationship.  It’s active.  It’s a back and forth conversation.  It’s not stagnant.  If you’re hearts pulling — ask.  Pray.

This is the realest relationship I have and know.  Because it’s the realtionship that teaches me how to be in all others.  It’s the relationship that teaches me how to love, how to minister, how to listen, how to forgive, how to ask to be forgiven, and how to give all that I am.  It’s a living and growing and changing thing.  It’s not ancient, lost in traditions long gone and dead with an Israel that was.  No,  it’s very much alive in a Christ that is, in a Holy Spirit that is alive and well in me — challenging me, asking me to be brave and to be more than I was yesterday.

One thing I can always be certain of is my Savior’s love for me.  And although I will never, ever fully know him or the depths of his love for me — I will wake up every single morning trying — attempting to understand and fully love the God-man that does fully understand this heart that beats solely for him.  And isn’t it absolutely wonderful to be fully known?  To be seen?  That is an incredible treasure to me.  I hold that so dear.

Peace to you, in the midst of ever walking with and loving a God who will never let us go — even when we struggle for understanding, he understands us. Love to you all.  I’ll leave you with some words from “Out Of Sorts”.  Take care, dear hearts… ❤

“I hope we all wrestle.  I hope we look deep into our hearts and sift through our theology, our methodology, our praxis, our ecclesiology, all of it.  I hope we get angry and we say true things.  I hope we push back against celebrity and consumerism; I hope we live into our birthright as prophetic outpost for the Kingdom.  I hope we get our toes stepped on and then forgive.  I hope we become open-hearted and open-armed.  I hope we are known as the ones who love.

I hope we change.  I hope we grow.  I hope we push against the darkness and let the light in and breathe into the Kingdom come.  I hope we become a refuge for the weary and the pilgrim, for the child and the aged, for the ones who have been strong too long.  And I hope we all live like we are loved.

I hope we all become a bit more inclined to listen, to pray, to wait.”

Out Of Sorts, Sarah Bessey (96,97)

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All things new…

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Happy Sunday!

Aside from a few bugs, the internal kind, the sun is shining and God is always, ALWAYS good. And we warrior on. Because every day is a battle.

“…this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.” Ezekiel 21:10

As my seven year old likes to preach and so often remind me, our God is a new kind of God — He makes the old new — He makes all things new — in our hearts, in our souls, and if we have the radical vision to see and embrace it — in our world as well. There is no fear in this new love, in our submission to Him which is akin to Jesus’s care and love for the church, straight up NO fear. We can talk about the fear of God — yes, we sure can. We can talk about His wrath, His might and how we ought to fear him — we can talk about it all we want. But the fact of the matter is — there is no fear in His love. Absolutely none. And for those of us that have grown up with the model of love being that of fear?  Well now, that is all the miracle we could ever need or imagine…

And what freedom then there is in blazing ahead, shouting out His glory and praise with.no.fear, being the ever open and giving hands and feet of Jesus! We’ve simply gotta get over ourselves. We just do. Take off our self imposed turbans! Remove our crowns! It will not be as it was. This is a new kind of God! One that let women sit at his feet. At.the.feet.of.Jesus, y’all! That was straight up revolutionary. Who preached and loved children and saw them as the.most.important. For real. If there was a pecking order, kids were FIRST (the disciples asked, he just answered the question)! A God who thought we were ALL worth dying for. Every single one of us. Amazing, humbling, incredibly real and raw stuff.

Our Jesus wasn’t afraid to get dirty, gritty, talk about the hard stuff. In fact, his life WAS all the hard stuff (and being the son of God, he could have chosen easy, well, easily). That’s the kind of love I’ll get behind.  That’s the kind of love I will choose time after time after blessed time.  That’s the kind of love that I’ll give — and that never comes up short or empty.  My love may be imperfect, but pointing people to God’s love?  Yes, the answer is always yes.

I’m saying this as a pep talk to my spirit. Because choosing to live differently is hard. And sometimes we don’t admit that. We think if we’re doing this grace thing right, it should be easy. We shouldn’t get tired or overwhelmed or both.  But, friends, that spiritual battle we fight every single day is just that – a battle – and we have a real enemy. And he shows up in the sneakiest of ways. And sometimes those ways are even churchy ones – like bickering about theology, or judging who is “fit” to be loved, or making our churches special clubs instead of straight up places for worship and God work—all time sucks from the real love work we need to be doing, right?

It IS hard – in our places of work, in our families, even in our churches. But we have a God who does hard things so expertly – because He is God and He’s kind of bigger than all of it. SO much bigger!  And if we really and TRULY believe that, well then, we never have to be afraid. EVER. And again, in that we are so free. To soldier on, to do the hard, to be his hands and feet – to walk so closely with him and receive that peace from him – that transcends any hard – any circumstance we may face. “When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: ‘Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.’” 1 Chronicles 16:19

We are not of this world.  I often think of one of my childhood favorites in literature when I read this Bible verse — The Chronicles of Narnia.  Every day we wake up and we make a choice — to live with it, or to live against it.  To live for Jesus, or to live as one with the status quo that engulfs us.  It isn’t meant to be easy.  But it will be fulfilling, it will be rewarding, it will be validating, peace keeping, heart breaking along with heart building — and moreover — it will be who you are meant to be.  I know that when there are situations that arise at work, with family, with friends were it is hard and often tiresome to be that one voice that has to over and over seek truth it often grows down right depressing, yes, and it stretches you, often to your limit — but when you ignore it and go for easy?  That hurts even more.  Because it is not authentic, it is not truth, it is not YOU — and when you live by the spirit — you can not ignore truth.  God will hold you accountable.  Your life will change.  And in a world that values truth so little (about as much as a stick of gum), you will be tested time and time again when you solely call for it.

But there is no freer way to live.  And when I meet my Jesus, I want to make HIM proud, I want him to say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”  And everyday, I must make the conscious effort to make THAT choice.  The call to love, the call to honesty, the call to truth, the call to humility, the call to the fruit of the spirit, the call to be his hands and feet, the call to every single day get.over.me.  All of this, every single piece of this — living on this earth in the midst of this without our Father — is hard.  But we have a mighty Savior.  We have each other.  So let’s keep encouraging one another.  Yes, that actually is part of our walk too as brothers and sisters — to encourage one another. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13.  Not ‘every so often’, ‘during the  holidays’, or even ‘once a week on Sundays’.  Encourage one another daily.   How encouraging are we to each other as Christians?  How encouraging are we to non believers?  It’s a dark, dark world out there.  We are called to be the light.  We are called to shine like stars in the universe.  I will mess this up.  Most likely every day.  But I will also wake up and try my best at this.  Every day.  I know I need this encouragement everyday.  So when I need it, I give it.  My need is my reminder.  Praise God.

“Pure Christianity lives between two dangers ever present; the danger that it will evaporate into a philosophy… and the danger that it will freeze into a form.” C.I. Scotfield

But neither of these dangers can happen when we are actively living our Jesus.  And that’s a conscious decision.  A conscious choice.  A conscious breath.  Every day of our lives.  Not an afterthought.  Not something we save for a few hours on Sundays.  It’s everyday.  It’s how we meet everyone’s eyes, hearts, and hands.  It’s in how we greet humanity.  It’s in how we give up ourselves.  And this humbleness isn’t passive, it doesn’t come with a low self esteem, it isn’t indecisive.  Far from it.  Our Jesus died for us.  He rose again.  We have the divine living.inside.of.us.  Seriously.  That should blow our minds!  Really.  That should make us the MOST courageous warriors for his name!  We are all miracles bought by his blood.  And every single creation living and breathing on this planet is therefore worth the fight of salvation.  And we’ve got some work to do.  Some great love to give.  And every day we GET to do that.  Praise God!

Happy Sunday.  Happy every day.  And what ever you may be facing, know it will be okay.  Our battle ends in victory.  Much love to all of you. ❤

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ” Colossians 1:17

hope knows no fear

 

 

And the truth will set you free…

make truth scream

I am approaching this subject so tenderly, with so much thought and with such careful prayer and meditation.  It has been weighing so heavily on my soul for over a decade.  God sometimes gives us heavy things, doesn’t He?  It is something that has deeply cut my family, our extended family, and even poured devastatingly into my marriage.  I have prayed, I have cried, I have carried this.  I have remained silent.  I have tried to ignore it and move on and around it in our lives — and yet it keeps returning.  These past few months I even confronted it.  And this weekend, after so much pain, and after so much hard — I am finally able to truly let it go.  I am now able to fully understand why this monster has been such a force of destruction and abuse in our lives.

I haven’t been able to sleep lately.  Being a light sleeper, this equates to no sleep as opposed to a few good hours of sleep.  And the terrible nightmares of my father have returned again.  I haven’t had those in years.  I’ve been frustrated, sad, and feeling so completely frazzled with just about everything.  The state of my heart has been a mess.  This most certainly means that things in my life are just plain out of whack.

When God lays things upon your heart and mind and doesn’t let them go, it is usually for a reason.  When something is gnawing on your soul and wearing you down, year after year after year, He isn’t whispering anymore.  He’s shaking you.  You know it.  I knew it.  This all just was not working.  It wasn’t right.  It was never right.  And I wasn’t able to ignore it anymore and let it pass for “personality”.  The concern of “Will other people understand?”, “How will I be judged?” or “I just wish they knew what was really going on!” was completely gone.  Right is certainly not often easy.  But the Lord will not let you rest in wrong.

do what is right

Lies.  Dishonesty.  Gossip.  These things are abhorrently disdainful to God.  They rip lives apart.  They rip families apart.  And the world is a place that is full of lies.  In fact, honesty, truth, authenticity are SO very rare.  So rare, in fact, that we often make excuses for lies every.single.day.  And we make excuses for them in our behavior and other people’s behavior as well.  We say things like, “That’s just the way she is.”  Or, “I’m just so used to her telling lies and saying crazy, off the wall things that I just let it roll off of me and I don’t think about it.”  Little white lies.  Big lies.  And everything in between.  It’s become acceptable behavior.  And it is destructive.

Now, we all are going to slip up in this area occasionally.  It happens.  We’re human and we sin.  No one is perfect.  Owning up to your mistakes, admitting to your sins and errors, that’s one thing.  But not taking accountability for the heinous untruths that have come out of your mouth is quite another.  Lies on top of lies.  Lies begetting more lies.  It never, ever ends.  And the fact of the matter is, if a person really believed the horrific things she was saying about the people she was talking about — really and truly felt there was truth to these fabricated stories or disgusting stretches and slants of fact (which are still lies) — she would talk to THAT person him or herself — instead of taking the hours it takes to call her friends or that person’s other family members to talk about it to them instead.  If there is true care, true concern about the gravity of the things that are being lied about — she would have conversations with the person the salacious stories are being postured about.  That is not done — at first — or at all.  Because the effect desired is not one of resolution or empathy for that person, but drama and attention seeking for herself.

I had thought about letting this go just one more time.  What’s one more time, right? — In the long laundry list of times this woman’s mouth has spread deceit.  But what weighs so incredibly heavy on my heart time and time again is what am I teaching my children?  This behavior is not okay.  By any stretch of the imagination.  No one else would EVER be permitted to treat us or any of our friends or family in this manner.  It does not matter what label of ‘family’ is attached to this person’s name.  Just because you are “so and so” does not make it acceptable for you to act in this matter towards me, or towards anyone in this family.  It would be one thing if you could talk to this person and make some kind of headway, some kind of reasonable place from which to move forward — but the lies only continue.  She will deny anything you say she has said or done.  Vehemently.  And then call everyone else she knows and lie some more — about the very conversation you just had — in which you told her the very thing you needed from her to have any kind of relationship what so ever was honesty.

Lying — what’s the big deal anyway?

choose your words

I spent yesterday in the Word, praying, and meditating to come to some sense of what I was supposed to do with this situation that keeps coming up for my family.  What I really want to do is take my children and get as far away from all of this as I possibly can.  No one seems to stand up to this woman.  I feel very alone in this.  She is not held accountable.  She can not be reasoned with because she takes no accountability (or she will make a general, sweeping apology but when pressed for WHY she is apologizing and what it is exactly that she is sorry for — can only say that she was asked to apologize by so and so because that person thought it would make things better — but can not come up with any concrete reasons as to why she is sorry), when pressed with specific circumstances denies everything or changes her story, and just cries, or yells, or sarcastically laughs (which she will deny and call ‘audible noises’), blames it on everyone else, and then plays the tortured victim.  Breath is wasted on a narcissist.  I am not wasting any more stress or valuable minutes of my life on this ridiculous hamster wheel.  I refuse to play or be a part of this game.  I am done.

All the while, I have so ardently prayed for her and prayed for God to show me what to do as I feel so trapped and isolated in this.  But as a mother, as a Christian, as a feeling human being — I take none of this lightly.  I can forgive over and over again — even if someone is continuing the behavior and never admits to or asks to be forgiven — but it does NOT mean I have to invite the evil or the crazy into my front door or walk through hers.  Forgiveness does not mean you have to be a participant in the insanity.

Even though I was completely exhausted and just spent today, I felt this urgency to get my family to church.  We all had to go, regardless.  It was the strongest pull I have ever felt.  No “I’m too tired” excuses or “We have too much to do today.”  We.could.not.miss.

It was all God.  In fact, it was the biggest God thing.

I finally gained complete understanding as to why I felt such conviction in this.  The words of the sermon were salve, they were my plenty, they filled my soul that had felt so beaten up and depleted for so many years by this woman.  In my eyes, she was always getting away with so much — over and over and over again — and I just wished that people could see and hear her for who she really was.  And then here she was painting others out to be so terrible, when it was her heart and her tongue that were false and full of darkness.  And then, a few years ago, by the grace of God I was over all of that.  Over being misunderstood.  Over the justice here on earth part.  I didn’t care anymore.  I held on to the fact that God knew me, he saw absolutely everything and she really wasn’t getting away with any of it.

But still, this dealing with it all here on earth part was hard.   It was so hard.  And I felt trapped in this.  Like I didn’t have a leg to stand on because she was this person to our family.  I had made boundaries, but it still just felt so wrong inside.  I truly felt like I was wrestling a demon.  Like God was saying, — ‘This isn’t enough.  Your children are getting really mixed messages about right and wrong, about their faith, about what it means to be a father, a husband, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, about love, about who I am.’  Until today.  It became so very clear.

The sermon today was all about, are you ready for this??? — truth and honesty.  And God said, “Angie, here’s your answer.”

One verse.  One little verse.  James 5:12 says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else.  Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’ be no, or you will be condemned.”  Such a powerful verse!  Turns out, God does not take honestly lightly!  In fact, WHAT WE SAY MATTERS.  It matters intensely.  It matters SO much that we will have to give an account for the words that we utter here on this earth.  God is a God of truth.  Satan is the father of lies.  Apostle John, when speaking of the children of the devil in chapter 8 verse 44 says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for his is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me!”.  Our honesty, our truth, marks our very walk with God.  It is a testament to our Christianity.  God’s words are truth, and as followers of God, we need to be the same with our word.  I want my boys to see and to know this — to fully understand this with all of their being.  I don’t want them to be confused by this when they constantly hear, “Well, that’s just how she is — that’s just how I grew up and what I’m used to from her.”  Not acceptable.  On absolutely any level.

The words we utter also reflect the state of our hearts.  One of the main reasons I practice yoga and meditate and fervently read the word of God and pray incessantly is because I want to fill my heart up with love, with light, with the fruits of the spirit and the wisdom of the One who created me.  If my heart is filled with those things, when I am stressed, angry, or bitter — my mind, my tongue, my first thoughts will have what I have stored up in that space to fall back on.  I must constantly fill up my supply.  It’s been a life long journey for me to come to this understanding, to cultivate this, to find peace despite circumstance, and to realize that I MUST be vigilant about this.  Our hearts and souls need this food just as much as our bodies do — like our lungs need air.  And it is absolutely amazing how much we think and feel comes from our lips.  Devoting your life to authenticity and to the Lord completely changes your insides.  Transversely, if what comes from your lips is mostly lies, you might want to take a look at your heart — and furthermore — your walk with God as a believer.  It is a relationship.  And like all relationships, one that takes cultivation and time — talking and listening.  Luke 6:45, one of my favorite verses in the Bible, says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” 

from her heart

Truth and honesty are of upmost importance to God.  In fact, James says, “Above all.”  As in, ‘if you should forget all the other things I have told you, this is the one thing you should remember.”  Above.all.  James states in Chapter One, verse 26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”  His.religion.is.worthless.  Wow.  This is huge.  This is heavy.  This is everything.  Our words, our honesty, what comes out of our mouths — it so very matters.  My religion is not worthless to me.  My God is not worthless to me.  I do not want that message of worthlessness to be conveyed to my children — that maybe it’s okay to repeatedly lie and hurt people if you are this person.  ‘Because that’s just what she does.  And she’ll never change.  And we can’t really talk to her about it because she doesn’t remember any of it, she doesn’t hold herself accountable, so we all just have to live with it.  She’s a gossip.  She always has been.  She stretches the truth.  She makes up crazy stories.  That’s just her.  It’s been her for as long as I can remember.’  Or worse yet, to completely ignore it and not even recognize the problem.  I do not want them to get that message from me.  If other people want to make that choice for themselves and their families, that is theirs to make.  This is mine.  And God is holding me accountable.  Not man.  It is in front of Him I will stand in final judgment.  So the choice is clear for this girl.

the way we talk

And with that, I could finally breathe.  The tears just came, and this time they were because I finally felt peace in my heart when it came to this mess of evil that has plagued our family for so long.  That what ever came my way in the form of obstacles or hardship when it came to this situation, I knew what I had to do.  And I praised God, and I’m praising him still.  Thank you, Jesus!  Like I tell my boys during our nightly devotionals, God may not burn bushes, part seas, pour mannah from heaven, or raise people from the dead anymore — but he still talks to us.  In all of our every days, he still talks to us.  And I thanked Pastor Chad after his sermon for this truly ‘God thing’ for our family.  It was one of the most necessary pieces to starting to work on my marriage and for true peace for this family.

God has us.  He so has us.  And it doesn’t matter if no one else understands, if they say the most awful things in the world about you to anyone and everyone who will listen — he knows us and has us.  And he holds us.  And he will protect us and keep us from evil.  Even if that evil comes with a smile and looks like the sweetest sunshine to the rest of the world.

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:31-33

He is your shield.  Keep listening.  Keep leaning in.  Keep walking with your Rock.  He will arm you with strength, and he will keep working on your heart and growing your peace.  He will give you discernment in all the webs of dishonesty that may try to tangle you.  He will be your light.  Keep your mind and heart on the things above, and hold fast.  Hold fast.  In his name and in his love — which is the widest and biggest and foreverest… ❤

life with God

 

 

 

Minions, toilets, teeth, and water… (and how commonality is found in the strangest of places)

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“(Love) doesn’t fly off the handle.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG

Patience, peace, calm…  It’s something I work hard at.  Because I have to.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.  Anxiety does.  Panic does.  Let’s create the worst case scenario and amplify it times 1,273 does.  But peace, calm, patience?  That’s work.  But it’s something I HAVE to have in my home — like healthy food, essential oils, and comfy blankets and pillows.  It’s a necessity.  I want our home to be a safe haven, an easy place to breathe, a refuge in this crazy, chaos of a world.  No matter what storms rage around us, we have each other, we have a bigger God, and we can always have peace.  No.matter.what.  I want may kids to KNOW and FEEL this when they walk through our door.  And I want them to carry it with them when they leave — as an extension of the love and all the things they are taught in these walls.  And this peace, often, begins with me.  I mean, it starts with the Spirit ever moving in my heart — but it begins with me — in a house full of emotional, fly off the handle, often high energy and intense characters — it’s momma who brings the calm.  And some days, it’s a tough row to hoe, friends.  Just saying.  It’s heavy.

But I’m pretty good at carrying heavy things.  God made this girl scrappy like that.  I didn’t used to be.  I used to be the President of the ‘freak out, run around in circles, hyperventilate and throw your hands in the air’ club (which I still do occasionally) — but oddly, that never got me anywhere.  Except unhealthy, depressed, and wore unnecessary grooves in our flooring and in my heart.  So I breathe in and out — really big.  And I have mantras.  Turns out I need them.  And I just drop everything and talk to God.  Turns out he’s always listening.  And then I breathe some more.  And I know, that even if it’s not — it’s going to be okay.  And God is here, there, and already in tomorrow.  And we’ll do this together.  ALL of it.  Even the really crappy stuff.  Cause we’ve been there.  We’ve done that.  And it’s all good.  Even when it’s not.  And I say this to my house full of boys.  All.the.time.  Disaster isn’t disaster.  It’s doesn’t have to be our state of being.  It’s not who we are.  It doesn’t define us.  It’s a moment.  However freaking long it is, it’s a moment in time.  And it’s always, forever and always, how we deal with it — how we treat each other in those moments — that defines who we are, who we believe the other person to be, and what we believe this big ole world and our purpose in it is.  Big moments, little moments and all the ones in-between.  It’s how we react to all of those…

And when it rains, it often pours.  Like things kind of always seem to happen all at once, right?  My incredible husband has been laying in the way awesome flooring in our basement (or what ever the correct terminology is for that–it looks freaking fantastic).  Waterproof vinyl that looks like hardwood.  I love it.  It’s been lots of sweat and a back breaking process as he’s done it all by himself.  Absolutely amazing.  I can stand the bright gold and black of the Hawkeye man cave a bit more now.  Seriously.  Incredible.  And no monsoon was taking that away.  Nope.  We had another sump pump installed a couple weeks ago for this purpose (we have improper grading in the new houses behind us and get the brunt of that “it’s not my problem” from the city and builders and anyone else we’ve approached).  With the help of our awesome bucket carrying neighbors, my almost 13 year old who held a hose and hand held sump pump from the well to our bathtub in the basement, and lots of flipping muscle for hours — we made it.  Hallelujah! You feel that one the next morning.  We’re thinking of capitalizing on this as a workout routine of some sort.  Serious abs are worked.  Water.is.so.heavy.  Staying calm in this chaos again.  Not easy.  What IS easy is lashing out on each other — because you are so angry, freaked out, scared, just plain pissed the hell off, and that has to go somewhere, right??? Like, why couldn’t we have had a garage sale and gotten rid of half the crap down here so we wouldn’t have to be dumping totes of this junk to FILL with water and running crap upstairs?  That suddenly becomes someone’s fault.  Because for a second it might feel better to lash out and place some blame somewhere, anywhere — because no one else seems to have to take responsibility for the shit that happens every flipping time it rains a little harder than normal, right?  I mean, some people just sit and eat popcorn and watch TV and ENJOY these blessed storms!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Until you realize that being angry solves nothing.  Pointing fingers and laying blame and getting all pissed off does zero in the realm of helping or solving any kind of problem.  In fact, in only dissolves and wastes precious energy that could be spent doing something productive or scrambling up positive energy and sending that out — mustering up a little peace.

I can absorb it.  The tirade — because I so get it.  I empathize with where it comes from.  I see me all over it.  And I understand that the words coming at me have absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the really jacked up situation.  And, in my mind, there’s just no reason to jack it up anymore.  It is what it is.  It will be what it will be no matter what we say or what we do.  So why not do what ever we can to make it better?  Breathe deep, speak peace, and do everything we can to solve the problem.  It’s not being passive, by any means.  I think sometimes it takes way more energy and focus to be calm when everyone else is bouncing red, but once you start making it part of your normal — it just comes.  It truly does.  And people mistake it for giving up — when you don’t freak out and scream and yell and get all crazy.  I’m still moving, I’m still doing — I just refuse to take part in expending my energy in the futile zone of chaos.  Take deep breaths, and amazingly, thoughts become clearer — even above the loud.  It takes practice.  Lots of practice.  And you have to hold on to your space in this.  But then it just becomes part of you — and if I can teach my boys that — I’ll be one happy momma.  You have to deal with life’s storms, but you always have a choice in how you deal with them.

And bless little G’s heart — my little guy who finds the positive in everything — he thought we were having a party.  He was just so excited to see everyone who showed up to help and so happy to have people over.  His job was to hold the door open and then close it again as people came up and down the stairs with buckets to dump outside.  He was elated.  He can’t wait to have another “water party”.  He also got to stay up really late.  It was just awesome.  All.of.it.  He’s always my little ray of sunshine.  Couldn’t love that kid more.  And Max.  He worked so hard.  He kept reminding us that we were all okay.  And that was the important thing.  Because it was people who were important, not things.  He said this at least a million times.  And then he kept thanking us for all of our hard work.  Couldn’t love that kid anymore either.  But somehow, every day, I do…

The next day, Marty was off to work — not sure how he did that — I’m sure he was more than tired and very sore.  He proctors the bar exam for a week every summer.  And that morning, our toilet decided to go completely nuts on us.  I walked into water, literally, spraying from the lid of the toilet — and little G frantically yanking on my arm “I didn’t do it!  I didn’t do it!!!!!” as I walked into water all over the bathroom floor.  At this point, I was really effing tired of water.  Seriously.  I threw towels all over the floor and lifted the back compartment lid off the toilet — which was really genius on my part — as water proceeded to shoot strait into my face.  So many kinds of awesome.  What.the.hell.  So water is spraying, I’m using my finger to cover the little hole it’s coming from, fishing around the bottom of the tank as it’s filling to find something that may have fallen, and it won’t flush.  Sweet.  Connecting pieces here and there — just to make it stop spraying — and then just decided to shut the water off.  That’s the take away here.  The water can always be shut off.  I have no idea what happened.  All I know is that G didn’t do it.  I was breathing, didn’t want my husband to have to deal with this crap when he got home, and the problem solver in me decided to Google this and fix it so he wouldn’t have to.  I mean, how hard can it be?  None of the inner workings of anyone else’s toilet looked quite like ours on any of the Google videos, so I improvised and got a little creative.  Turns out those aren’t the most coveted qualities when it comes to plumbing.  The hubs had to purchase an entire new system for the inside of our commode.  I may have innovatively challenged something.  Just turn the water off if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Lesson learned, all in Zen.  Sometimes I can try too hard to be a little too helpful.  I see y’all nodding your heads…  (smile) Not.my.best.trait.

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This is what it looks like after I try to fix a toilet. The entire inside had to be replaced. Thanks, husband. I missed our bathroom. You are amazing. I will steer clear of Google and plumbing issues from now on.

That night proved to hold one more little surprise for us.  G wanted some help brushing his teeth.  He had a big kancer sore on the gum line of the inside of his lip and he didn’t want to hurt it.  Just for back story purposes, this little guy has never lost a tooth — at all of seven and going into second grade — he feels like he is the ONLY boy his age on earth who has never lost a tooth.  While brushing, I noticed that he had a tooth shooting up behind — like FAR behind — another baby tooth.  Ug!  It looked so odd and awful, but I didn’t want to scare him — so I just said — “Hmmmmmmmmmmm, you have a dentist appointment to get your teeth cleaned next week, but Mommy might make a call to Dr. Jenny in the morning so we can check on this tooth here.”  Unfortunately, he knew ALL about tooth pulling from his good friend, Connor, who had to get lots of teeth pulled and had told G every bloody detail — so tears instantly flowed and it was a long night of calming anxiety.  Neither one of us slept — again.  Dental Professionals got us in at 8 a.m. the next day and Griff was such a brave and courageous boy.  Big needles, two long sticks with said needles, and the root on that thing was HUGE!  He didn’t cry and was the best and most calm patient.  I couldn’t believe how amazing he did!  He took deep breaths and wiggled his toes.  Dr. Jenny, as always, was fantastic, and let him pick out two prizes for being so incredible.  This momma took G to Target for a few extra prizes as well.  He picked a puzzle, a craft, and a science toy.  My G (smile).  That’s what brave looks like!  Noodles, his lovey Husky, came with us too for extra comfort.  My boys amaze me every.single.day.  On top of all of this, Griffyn was SO excited he had finally “lost” a tooth!!!!!!!!!!!  One heck of a first loss!  Dr. Jenny assured him that the ones he lost after this would be ever so much easier…  Love her.  And she’s a dentist (smile).

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Griffyn left a note for the tooth fairy because he wanted to keep his tooth since it was his first. She was very obliging and left him a note, along with some fairy dust, and a $5.00 bill. That was one well earned first loss of a tooth!

And we needed a stress break from all of this water and tooth fun.  Summer is just speeding on by.  So we took the boys to see the Minions movie.  I love those little guys!  They are just authentic little Twinkies of odd quirky fun.  They simply want to please and love their little guts out.  We even ate junk food — egads!  We stopped at A&W first in Indianola — a must — the BEST chicken fingers and fries — according to my kids — and of course, root beer floats.  It was popcorn, Mike and Ike’s, and I even got to partake in some gluten free Milk Duds.  Good times.  I could not think of the last time I had been to a movie.  I guarantee it was Disney or Pixar, but it’s always a good time with the boys.  Minions did not disappoint.  Loved the Beetles and Monkees references!

And somehow, all of these week’s events seemed to roll together for me into one big “lesson” of sorts — the little yellow guys, toilets, basement, and tooth shenanigans.  Life is a big ball of chaos and crap sometimes — often times all at once — but it’s how we handle it — it’s the faith we act on (not just profess to have) — it’s how we are there for each other — that makes it what it is.  Rain, storms, sun, floods (toilette water in your face), things not happening in the succession that they are supposed to (darn shark teeth) — it’s going to happen.  And it’s all beautiful if we let.it.be.  And if it’s not particularly beautiful — we can at least find some kind or type of beauty in it.  We can find something redeemable, gem worthy, sustainable, of value — in everything.  A lesson (most often taught to me by my children), something to be thankful for, reminders of blessings, or something within yourself you forgot about — God reminding you who he created you to be (G found his braveness!  Max found his strength!).  There is value in absolutely everything.  Every.little.thing.  And maybe that’s why I like those little minions so much.  They see life through eyes (or eye) of wonder.  Everyone is a buddy.  And so I may or may not have gotten a little teary in that movie — I so did not cry.  G kept watching, however (smile)– said in whisper “Momma, are you crying?”.

The miracle of life lies in our perception of it.  We’re all given situations, things, people — it’s how we choose to see them — react, expend our energy — learn our lessons — or see that there is anything to be learned or gifts to be given to us in the first place.  There is wonder everywhere.  Even in the muck and mire.  Sometimes you just have to settle the rage, the storm in yourself still enough to see it, hear it, feel it and let it change you and grow you.  We all have such potential and capability to be such amazing vessels of light. Sometimes we get a little scared of all that shiny.  Don’t be afraid of it.  Embrace that.  It’s all good and it’s all you. You can.  You.can.do.and.be.so.much!

It is utterly amazing to me what simply taking a split second to take one deep, calm breath can do in a situation that seems utterly lost and helpless — when anxiety seems to be spiraling me out of control.  Then I stop — take another, and another — understanding the one that is in me is greater than this world — and the ultimate battle has already been won, dear God, it’s really over.  God’s got ALL of this.  My job, my mission — if I choose this day to except it — it to be my best me.  The most incredibly, fearfully and wonderfully made me he created me to be.  And to take that on with authenticity and an open heart and mind and spirit each and every single day?  Well that, that is one miraculous adventure and one hell of a ride —

that just might involve buckets, basements, toilets, unforeseen trips to the dentist, and Minions (smile).

Love your guts… (remember to stop every now and then and take a listen to yours) ❤

Namaste and so much peace…