Work in Progress

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I KNOW I’m a work in progress. I have to be, or else I’d be in a world of trouble. Romans 8:28 says “in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him”. I need to claim that promise and move forward with it daily. Some days I’m flying high and feeling good, some days I’m just the opposite. Some days I’m super sensitive and some days I’m just irritated. I believe it’s a human condition that the devil loves to prey on. He wants us down and out. He wants us to lash out and freak out. He wants us to throw caution to the wind and thow a fit. Then, after he gets his way, he likes to sit back and smirk while we cry, try to compose ourselves, and make amends to whomever happened to be in the line of fire.

How can we compose ourselves when our buttons are pushed? Proverbs 29:11 (NIRV) says “A foolish person lets his anger run wild. But a wise person keeps himself under control.” Will freaking out and lashing out make you feel better? Yes, in the moment, as would many other things. But, ultimately, it will have brought you down to the button pusher’s level and given them exactly what they wanted. They want you to get crazy, act crazy, and fight……so they can smirk.

Nowhere does it say we shouldn’t stand up for ourselves or that we have to agree. On the contrary, 2 Timothy 1:7 (CEV) says “God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self control.” The Spirit’s power is true power. The power to stand up for yourself and/or others in a loving way. This is exactly why we can’t mistake kindness for weakness. It takes alot more strength to respond with kindness in some situations than it does to retaliate in hate and hostility. By all means, stand up, speak up. But, don’t lose control. That’s exactly what the devil wants because it will not resolve the situation, the conflict will continue, and peace is not made by either parties.

What about when we lose it anyway? GRACE. We talk a lot about forgiving others and extending grace to others, but let’s not forgive to extend it to ourselves. This is HUGE for me. I’m more apt to dish out grace to everyone BUT me. It’s important that we view and love ourselves for who we are in Christ. His beloved kids. Our kids temper tantrums absolutely makes them difficult to deal with at the time, but it never alters our love for them. We can get so down on ourselves for how we deal or dealt with a situation, that the one we need to forgive and love on most is ourselves.

Let’s all remember who we are to Him, how much He loves us, and show ourselves mercy too.

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Everybody Falls!

roller skate

I was inspired by a recent roller skating party with my nine year old. I left her younger sister with my mom so I could really focus on skating with her and teaching her. As much as I loved skating as a kid, I was certain she would, if she would just keep trying…

She got a quarter of the way around the rink clinging to the side rails before she decided she wanted to use a trainer like the other kids. These trainers look like walkers for beginner skaters. We didn’t have them growing up, but they are really helpful in learning to balance and lean forward. She hobbled along slowly. All she could see in her periphery were smaller kids zooming past her. I just kept encouraging her, proud that she was giving it a real go this time and so thankful I could focus all my attention on her when she needed it most. I wondered what else I could do to help her, but I soon realized all I could do was watch, encourage, and be there to help her up when she fell. I couldn’t “make” her skate well. She would have to keep going and put the effort in. She would have to learn at her own pace.

About half way around the rink, she lost her balance and fell HARD right on her tail bone. She looked up at me with big tears in her eyes from pain, anger, and utter embarrassment. As I helped her to her feet she told me she quit and wasn’t cut out for it. I felt so sorry for her and told her to look around at all the others falling. She said “No one’s falling but me!” I followed up with “Not true baby, look around. Watch.” So she did. Sure enough three skaters hit the ground in the few seconds I got her to look up. And, they all got back up and kept skating.

Just then, one of her classmates came up to check on her. She said “My parents gave me the best advice. It’s ok if you fall, just don’t quit. Keep skating. Everyone falls. Even grown-ups!” I loved her encouragement and joy. Abby kept skating, slowly but surely. My heart swelled with love and pride as she fell again and got back up…..again. She wanted to keep skating and even hinted at the idea of having her next birthday party there. What a refreshing change! She worked up the courage to skate once around the rink without her trainer, but still felt more comfortable with it. I told her that’s what the trainer is for, to lean on. Use it.

I think our praying friends are like trainers, they are there to be leaned on and they want to be. They help us balance and keep us moving forward. They help us up when we fall and look around for us when they do. They aren’t there to skate for us, they can’t. But, they are there to lean on.

Everybody learns at a different pace. Some are timid, some are aggressive, some are naturals, but we are all humbled as our rear ends hit the ground. Some don’t skate anymore because of age or past injury. Some continue to skate as long as they can (that would be me). But, everyone falls. Even the best skiers and skaters still fall. It’s part of learning and it’s part of the sport. Such is life.

 All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. Romans 3:23-24 (CEV)

We all get frustrated when we fall and feel embarrassed when it’s a fall in public, or worse in front of our peers. But remember, everyone falls. And, remember your trainers. Use them. That’s what God gave them to you for.

And, now back to an all skate…

Why Share?

share

The more I read and hear other people share their hard stories and testimonies, the more I am convinced that sharing honestly is cathartic. It helps others and it helps the person that shares. So, here goes…

Most women think that their husband having an affair would be their worst nightmare. This happened to me. Most women would feel worse if their husband refused to admit it and instead left….for her. This happened to me. In these circumstances, most women see the relationship fall apart. This didn’t happen for me. Instead, they married. And he seems much happier with her than he ever did with me. He is also much more involved in our daughters lives now than he ever was with me. Most women would hope their daughters would have an issue with the other woman because of these events. Mine don’t. They love her immensely. As thankful as I am for them to have a stepmother who loves them and that they love, it pangs me deeply. Because of how it all went down.

I share to let others know that they are not alone.

It’s a daily struggle. I don’t like any of it, but I do value the lessons it has taught me. To depend on The Lord. That justice is His. That He sees and knows every detail. That forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for me. That emotional pain wants to lead us down the path of destruction…sex, drugs, excessive alcohol, excessive anything. To not date (or marry) based primarily on physical chemistry or physical pleasure. That God calls us to His arms, but our flesh really wants to go the other way. That you can’t make someone love you or be faithful to you, nor should you have to. That anger is better released in tears than in rage. That Jesus sympathizes with our deepest pains and meets us there. To not idolize your spouse. To know your own personal worth as a child of God. That I’m so ready for heaven, where all pain is gone. Somehow, incomprehensively, it will all be relieved.

I share for you, for me, for God. I share because He asks me to and supplies the courage to. I share because honesty helps me. I share because God was there before, during, and after. I share because He is faithful and deserves all the credit that I haven’t gone off the deep end……yet.

He did WHAT?!?!

anger

Have you heard the saying “Anger is hurt’s bodyguard”? I have no doubt that is true. Every time I feel anger bubbling up inside of me, if I take the time to look deeper, I can see it’s from some sort of pain that I’m trying to avoid or I’m tired of feeling. Target that pain and figure out what hurts. It could be betrayal, rejection, shock, confusion….ANGER. Boiling red hot anger is the result.

Jesus got downright angry when He witnessed people using the temple as practically a flea market. He threw tables over, He got red in the face, He raised His voice. “My house will be called a ‘house of prayer’, but you’re turning it into a gathering place for thieves!” — Matthew 21:13 GW. His anger was fueled by blatant disrespect. Can we stand up for each other? Can we stand up for God? Can we stand up for ourselves? Can we get angry about what counts and make a GOOD impact? Absolutely.

Next time anger boils to the surface, take the time to figure out where it truly stems from and how to deal with it appropriately. Are you angry over the disrespect of a person? Over being disrespected yourself? Over being cut off in traffic? Over computer issues? Anger isn’t necessarily a bad emotion. It does mean something is “wrong”. Something is “off”. Just take the time to analyze what you are angry about and why BEFORE acting. That’s the tough part! Our human natures kick in and we want to respond IMMEDIATELY. In some cases, like a child in imminent danger, there is cause to act out immediately.

But, MOST of the time, we get angry because we are hurt. We get rejected. We feel “less than”. We feel misunderstood. We assume the worst. Someone we love gets treated poorly. We FEEL. We are human beings and we were created to have feelings. Our feelings do matter, they shouldn’t be minimized, and we do have the right to speak up. But, our feelings should be assessed before acting on them. What’s going on here? Why am I SO angry?? How dare they? How dare I?

Anger is a normal human emotion. It comes and goes more than I’d like. But, how I act when I’m angry is what can leave a much bigger imprint than the feeling itself. Honestly, “counting to ten” doesn’t always help me, but breathing and praying DOES. Just breathe. Just pray. Take your time. Then….move forward. If something can be changed, do what you can to change it. If it can’t be changed, do what you need to do to accept it and keep going. Keep loving, forgive yourself, forgive others, and move forward in grace and mercy.

We are not alone in our emotions. We are ALL in this together. Anger is a passionate emotion and can easily lead to danger. Let’s use it to passionately propel us in a positive direction.

Meekness is Not Weakness

meekness

Matthew 5:5 says: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. The definition of meek is “quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.”  These are all wonderful and endearing character traits. As wives, we are called to be a gentle quiet spirit and submissive to our husbands. This makes it very hard to know when and HOW to stand up for ourselves properly and respectfully in a God pleasing way.

2 Timothy 1:7 says For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. Amen! This tells me that the Holy Spirit will speak to us and give us the words and strength to stand up, speak up, and make necessary changes. He has done this for me and I pray He continues to. Do not mistake meekness, kindness, or humility for weakness. It takes a lot more strength to respond with these virtues in certain situations than it does to retaliate in anger and hostility. We are not called to be doormats, but we are called to demonstrate self control. It’s a delicate balance.

When we do stand up, the relationship may end. We may get rejected. We may even get blamed. But, when we wonder what decisions to make, it helps immensely to ask ourselves what decision we would want our children to make if they were in the same situation.  We would never want them to be walked on, disrespected, or used. They are much too valuable! They deserve better! Well, so do we. God sees us the same way, we are His children. His spirit WILL give us the wisdom, power, and words to stand up when necessary and there are times when it IS necessary.