Shedding Skin…

This year has been one for the books. Not JUST Covid and I work in healthcare. Not JUST this election year and I cringe at both options. Not JUST tackling distance learning for the first time ever…

For me personally and in other ways.

This year my daughter graduated from the private school she attended for the last eight years. I am so thankful for that option and am still counting the blessings and friendships she formed from that opportunity. Time to pick a new school.

This year, both girls went to a public school in their dad’s district, not mine. You can imagine how hard this transition was. If you can’t imagine, consider yourself so grateful for that. So much fear. Fear of losing them. Fear of what others would think. Fear of change. Fear of public. It was hard. The legal decision was mine to make, but still made in this direction, for now. With all the fear and angst my body could feel, it went forward. With boundaries shared and more prayer than I knew was possible, I followed the Lord. In a direction I never thought we’d take.

This year, I strummed up the courage to take my ex-husband back to court. After eight years. For our daughters’ passports. I filed prior to Covid, but here we are. Still going forward in a world where travel is harder than ever. Even if we never get to use them, I don’t think he has the right to prevent them. With legal action taken and more prayer than I knew was possible, I did what was right for our new family. In a step I wish I never had to take. But, am still proud I did.

This year, even before Covid hit, I started therapy. To help my current and heal my previous relationships. To help process why I struggle with certain things and determine what is mine to own, mine to fix, and mine to let go of. So much hard work. But, I was ready. It is no one else’s job but our own to get the help we need to better our relationships or to let go of the ones we need to.

This year, I asked both of my parents for better relationships. And what that would look like to them.

This year, I feel like a snake shedding its skin. That skin of fear. Fear of how I’m perceived. Shedding the fear of change. To set a boundary. To concede when necessary. To compromise for the chance of better relationships down the road. To give even myself grace if it still comes crashing down or goes another way. To honor my own intentions even if misunderstood by others. To ask for help. To extend love anyway and to appreciate love received more than ever before.

This year, because of Covid, changing schools, and churches, relationships have changed. Shedding skin. Wishing the best, welcoming the new, and appreciating the constants. Giving back and letting go. Loving from afar and looking ahead.

I credit my God and my current husband for this shedding. The love that covers it all and helps the shed to take place. I’ve never felt so loved in my life. The healing, strength, and action that can occur in this environment. An environment I pray all of our kids feel married or not. And that I also pray that I can be part of. To love them this well. To help them shed.

I don’t like snakes, my husband is more of a fan. He knows quite a bit more about them than I do. He told me that before a snake sheds, its vision gets cloudy. Because it can’t see well, it tends to perceive everything that encounters it as more of a threat. Makes sense. It can’t make out the difference. Oh, how I’ve been there too. Like a cloudy eyed, itchy, uncomfortable, irritable snake that feels everyone and everything is out to get it. But, it’s also necessary for a snake to shed in order to grow. Time to shed.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”. Similar to a cocoon experience. “What’s happening? I can’t see? Am I dead?” No, time to shed. And to fly.

The devil appeared as a serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent instills fear. His greatest tactic is to let fear have its way. But, beautifully I’m reminded.

No fear exists where love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love. 1 John 4:18 (GW)

I can’t let the fear of people or illness or change stand in the doorway of the joy and courage Jesus wants to give me. All fear does is cloud our vision. Of the abundant life Jesus came to give each and every one of us. Fear gets us uncomfortable in our own skin. Time to shed.

Even if court doesn’t go in our favor, I’m glad we’re going.

Even if the school choice ends up too difficult, I’m proud to have tried.

Even if we get Covid, I’m thankful for medical care and ultimately the hope we have in heaven.

No matter who is elected, God has the final say on when this world will end.

A snake shedding its skin from the fear the deadly serpent wants all of us to wear. No, I cast you out, Satan. Out of my life and into the lake of fire you will one day end up in. You have no power here. I’m leaving that skin behind.

What Does That Mean??

god is for us

Romans 8:31 says “If God is for us, who can be against us?” I’ve been pondering what this verse means lately and this is what I feel God has spoken to my heart about it.

People and things do come against us in this life. There will be times we have trouble and there will be times when we fail. There will be times we cause problems and times we are affected by others problems and actions. There will be innocent victims and there will be times we flat out rebel against what we know we “should” do.

But, what I’ve received lately about this particular text, is that if we look for a solution to our specific issue or emotions in His Word, He will show it to us. And when we choose to do what He says, it is in our best interest. He doesn’t ask us to do anything out of any reason but love. Because He IS love. Any command He gives, is given for our protection and healing. In other words, He is FOR us, not against us, not fighting us, not preventing joy, but promoting it.

His love covers us when we fail and convicts us to full repentance. This is where change comes in. Full repentance leads to us doing things differently because we actually believe He has forgiven us and we don’t want to hurt his heart by turning back to what He’s revealed as hurtful. Pleasing God is recognizing His love for us and acting accordingly. Recognizing His love enough to make us think twice before turning back to what was hurting us. When we hurt ourselves that also hurts Him. He longs to protect and deliver us from what we look to for comfort and security and point us back to Him. He is a jealous God. He is jealous for us. He longs to be our first love, because He is. He loved us first and He loves us most.

When we are hurt by someone, He asks us to forgive for our own benefit and healing. Leaving the offense with Him and moving forward leads to the abundant life that He promises. Living without forgiveness bonds us to pain, anger, and bitterness that He died to save us from. He asks us to guard our hearts, not to prevent love, but to protect them from the counterfeit. To wait and seek His face and His love in the other person because only then can we know that the person knows what real love is and where it’s found. He asks us to tithe so that we learn to trust Him. He doesn’t need the money, but He does know we struggle with trust. He also knows that the stingier we are, the stingier we become. Giving with a cheerful heart is very good medicine to our selfish and scared hearts.

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10 (HSCB)

Doing what He asks us to do, is for our own good. He isn’t out to kill our good time, take all our money, or prevent us from having relationships. He is all for developing our character, growing our faith, and providing healthy relationships. He is all about coming first in our lives and when we truly make Him #1, He promises us an abundant life. An abundant life is a life full of joy and peace that can only come from Him.

Is following Jesus easy? No. Is it worth it? Completely. Because He is FOR us. The enemy is against us.