The Day I Almost Quit

This is a post about when I wrote my sign off and rather than sharing it, I saved it. This is the day I almost quit…..

“Today, I ran out of words. May this blog point you to Jesus and open your mind and heart to what He asks of you. May it encourage questions, conversations, and a thirst for the entire Word of God. May it point to His compassion and grace for all of us.

I’ve quoted Forrest Gump in this blog before, but today I’m sharing this one…”I think I’ll go home now.” If He inspires me to write again, so be it. But, I sense a strong, “You’ve done what I’ve asked you to do. Rest.”

May everything I’ve written show you the journey I’ve walked and desire to continue to.  Peace be with you…”

Since this draft was written, He has inspired me to write again and I’ve been lifted up and encouraged by men and women alike. Even in criticism, God shows His calls and desires for us.

I write for my daughters and other women looking for their significance in this world. Our significance and our worth is found in our Creator and Redeemer. Nothing this world has to offer here can match that.

I can’t wait for that ultimate reunion when all shame, fear, and hurt will be in our eternal past!

So, I will share until that day. Until the day God Himself removes the words. Because, this is my way of reminding myself and pointing others to Him, our Best Friend and Savior. Our Hope and our Teacher. He humbles me and He lifts me up. He keeps me going. This call as Christians, is never done.

I share my stories, but ultimately, this is not about me. It’s about Him. The way I share may change, the format may change, but I pray the content never does. Whether, it’s over coffee with a friend or on my daughter’s bed at night, may the sweet story of Jesus, be the best story ever told in my life. Ever.

And, I can’t wait to hug Him!! Because that means this is all over. The nightly news, the family stuff, the fear in raising kids today, the arguments we can’t get passed, the political strife, the heartache of missing loved ones, the financial strain, cancer, the stuff I write about, all of it. That’s heaven.

As much as I would love to, I can’t fix any of it. But what I can do is write and share about the One who will. The only One who can. We have joy and hope in Jesus! This is not our eternity, He is. We need only choose Him in return. He’s already chosen us. ❤

 

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Supper Club

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I read a book recently by Jen Hatmaker called “For the Love”. In it, she talks about how getting together face to face gets harder and harder as we all get married, raise kids, separate, reconnect….just life. But, it’s important. So, her idea was to start a Supper Club. In her book, they get babysitters and make fancy food. Each home would rotate the sole responsibility of hosting and the others could just come and enjoy. I, on the other hand,  thought it would be a great idea to set up a “Supper Club with Kids”. A few friends with kids of similar ages. A few friends who would like to connect without struggling to find a sitter. Oh, and everyone bring something! So, I planned.

There are few things I enjoy more than hosting friends. The kids were excited and so was I. I was energized and all smiles buying groceries, practically skipping down the aisles at the store, picking out ingredients for new hamburger and black bean burger recipes. I straightened up the house and had the music up loud anticipating my house FULL of friends and their beloved littles. My “master plan” was that the kids would entertain themselves while us grown-ups could talk and play games.

By 6:30, I had 13 kids and 8 adults at my house. Within the first hour, we had a hair catastrophe that led to 2 hours of trying to untangle, a clogged toilet, a rug that was ruined by nail polish, a teething toddler in tears, a broken scooter, and a broken toy golf club.

To quote Will Smith in Hitch, “I saw that going differently in my mind”, nailed it.

I went to bed frustrated and sad that my plan had been thwarted. But, I woke up thankful for grace. Thankful that we can see now more than ever that we are all in this parenting thing together. That even when our big plans turn into pipe dreams, there is love and understanding and togetherness. Even if our togetherness just increases our sympathy for one another, the togetherness is worth it. With all that, do you know what the kids said first thing this morning? “When can we do that again? That was so fun!” Of course, they did.

One of our dear friends and mentors was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently. The news broke yesterday. We all discussed it last night and feel heartbroken for her and her family. She’s much too young and loved and respected and….there is just no good explanation. As is so true for way too many heartaches in this world. The sad news breaking made me even more grateful to be getting together with friends. You really do never know what will happen tomorrow. Who it will happen to. Or, when your own time on this earth is up.

So….let’s love today. Let’s laugh when we can. Let’s get together when we can. Let’s engage in each other’s lives. Let’s welcome new people. Let’s reconnect with old friends. Let’s encourage each other as parents. It makes me even more eager for the “Ultimate Supper Club” in heaven. Where there will be no more sad news, tangled hair, painful gums, broken toys, or plumbing issues whatsoever. Just the joy and relief of togetherness. Forever.

What’s in a Name?

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A lot…that’s what. I’m sure there are names you hear that make you cringe and names that just as quickly make your heart swell. Names that you’d have a hard time dating because of a person in the past and names you have lovingly picked out for your babies. Oh, what a gut punch it is when someone else close to you takes your cherished baby name! Every girl puts their boyfriend’s name behind theirs to see how it sounds and writes it to see how it looks. Every divorcee wonders what to do with her last name. Keep it for the kids? Go back to maiden? Make a new name? A name marks a person. For good or bad, first and last, there’s a lot to a name.

One of my dear friends lost her mom this week. She passed away and left her daughter reeling as to how to go on without her. Understandably so. We all have, would, or will. It’s a huge loss. Huge. As I was walking and praying for my friend on my lunch break, the name “Reuniter” came to mind. There are many names for our God, but this one had never crossed my mind before. And, He is our Reuniter.

As the song goes…”Sweet name (sweet name), dear name (dear name), There’s no other name like Jesus, Sweet name (sweet name), dear name (dear name).”

There is no other name like Jesus. I’d like to share a list of some other names that come to mind….

  • Deliverer    The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.Psalms 18:2
  • Lover           I have loved you with an everlasting love…..Jeremiah 31:3
  • Provider      My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
  • Forgiver      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins……1 John 1:9
  • Redeemer   Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name—is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 47:4
  • Creator        For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13
  • Comforter   ….who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves  receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:4     
  • Carrier         In the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son….Deuteronomy 1:31
  • Counselor    …..and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
  • Vindicator    He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Isaiah 50:8
  • Convicter     When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment… John 16:8
  • Liberator     He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Psalms 107:14
  • Reuniter      Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds….1 Thessalonians 4:17

These names are so sweet to me. Growing up legalistically, my innate name or character trait for God was “condemner”. That’s how I inherently viewed Him. A God I could never please. A God I wanted so badly to please, but always felt like I fell short. That was a lie. The true condemner himself put that in my head and I took it to heart.

Now, I take John 3:17 to heart and choose to believe it.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

He is not our condemner, He is our Savior….and so much more. There’s A LOT to a name.

Why Share?

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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.

Behind the Smile

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I was reminded today, ever so blatantly, of the brokenness in this world.  Today, the tears flowed with nowhere else to go but down. Remember, that most of us have been broken by the loss of a loved one, a marriage, a childhood, a family member, or an illness. There are countless ways we may feel broken. This great sense of loss will change a person. Behind the smiles, you may not know what people are going through or have been through. Be mindful that others may have been touched by tragedy. Think twice before you envy someone’s seemingly “perfect” life. Remember, that brokenness is a part of this life…only.

Yes, there are blessings to be found in brokenness. Yes, finding out that God has never nor will ever forsake us is the ultimate blessing we discover in our trials. But, that doesn’t mean the pain isn’t real.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

Our human race was broken in the Garden of Eden. The shame, guilt, grief, and separation from God is still evident in our brokenness today. Our souls long to be complete in Him. Cultivating a relationship with God does not guarantee we won’t be broken again, but it does show us where to turn when we are. It reminds us that He is still in control and keeps us ever homesick for heaven.

Open your eyes and hearts to others around you. Be aware that there has been pain behind their smiles. Pain is increasingly evident in this world. Today, I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t encourage, all I could do was empathize with and feel the pain and loss. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus….there are times when this simply means lending an ear and following up with a heartfelt “I’m so sorry”. Sometimes there are no words, answers, or clichés to relieve the pain. There are times we just have to feel it, let it roll down our cheeks, and pray for comfort. I do believe it’s better to feel it than deny it. To honestly feel it allows for healing and growth.

Being honest about our own pain may strengthen another to open up and receive healing in theirs. I have witnessed and personally experienced that just knowing we aren’t alone can bring the most comfort. Let us actively love each other by recognizing that we are all broken, living in a broken world, and getting by the best we can. Let us also be reminded that God is good, in the good times and in the bad. God is good, in the pain and in the pleasure. God is good, in the loss and in the gains. And let us continue to praise God from whom all blessings flow…

Yearning for heaven where our hearts and circles will be forever unbroken.

No More Bills?!

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When we think about Heaven, we tend to think about how there will be no more death, sadness, or sickness. The absence of these three things is enough to make me want to go….yesterday. But, today I was thinking about how there will be so much more to experience and not experience in this truly glorious place.

Have you ever thought about the fact that we won’t have mortgages in Heaven? We get to live in our dream home, free and clear! No mortgages, light bills, water bills, trash bills, phone bills, or internet bills. We won’t have them, nor will we need them.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2,3

It’s mind blowing to me that He’s not only preparing a place for us, but also that He wants us where He is. No matter the size, architectural style, paint color, flooring, or acreage of the homestead He graciously GIVES us, it will be our personally ideal home. A home like no other. A home like our humanly minds can’t comprehend. Our resting place. And we will have Jesus as our neighbor! I can’t imagine a warmer welcome.

Have you ever thought about the fact that there will be no more grocery bills, school bills, medical bills, day care, vacation costs, or taxes? We work and work and work and pay and pay and pay. We work hard to pay our bills and hope for some leftover money to entertain ourselves and our families with. In Heaven there will be no need for any of these expenses.

We won’t need checkbooks, ATMs, credit cards, insurance, retirement accounts, or new tires. No travel costs. No baggage fees. No security lines. No gas pumps. No oil changes. No tolls. No hotel costs. Life will be an eternal all-inclusive vacation from what we’ve grown accustomed to. I can’t even imagine…

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Where the streets are paved with gold and the gates are made of pearls, there is no need for online bill pay, stamps, or paydays. The relief of all financial responsibilities is not something I used to think about when I thought of Heaven. Now, raising 2 girls, it strikes a much deeper chord. There are so many reasons I yearn for Heaven…..

No more death, seeing our loved ones again, no more physical or emotional pain, no more violence, no more diseases to catch or panic over, and living in the light of The Lord’s physical presence gives me more hope and excitement than I can articulate with this keyboard!

Coolest part? God wants us home with Him even more than we want to go home! Now, that’s hard to imagine. He is the ultimate Provider. He sent His Son to die for us so that we could live with Him there….forever. ALL EXPENSES PAID!

 

Double Trouble

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Here on earth you WILL have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NLT)

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We WILL have troubles. If there is one thing we all have in common, it is that we have troubles. Pick a wallet, pick an office, pick a family, pick a marriage, pick a medical chart, and if there isn’t current trouble, there has been or will be. There’s a saying that goes “if we all threw our troubles in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” As distressing as that might sound, it encourages me that we are in this thing together and that we aren’t struggling alone. Sometimes just thinking we are struggling alone is worse than the trouble itself. We are not alone. We have a Helper, Healer, Deliverer, Comforter, Provider who LOVES us and is fully capable of getting us through them one by one. And we have each other.

To ask for a life without troubles is to ask for heaven on earth. We aren’t in heaven yet, but what we CAN ask for is help with our troubles as they come. He WILL help, strengthen, and comfort us during our trials and sorrows. He WILL supply wisdom, power, and mercy when called upon. He WILL hear our cries and cover us with grace. He WILL open our eyes and hearts to see others as He does with compassion and forgiveness if we ask Him to. There’s no doubt that we will have troubles. The doubt lies on our side. How to deal with these troubles? Who to blame for them?

We have troubles because we are imperfect people who live in a fallen world with other imperfect people. We have hope because Jesus has overcome this world with His sacrifice. We have peace because He loves us in spite of our weaknesses. We have strength because He fights for us. We have an eternity of trouble free living to look forward to…..the ultimate paradise!