Worth the Risk

I perform a test that requires my patients sign a consent form. In order to walk the treadmill, they must be willing to assume the risk.

They might fall, they might have a heart attack, they might die for pete’s sake. It’s right there on the consent form. Still, in eighteen years of doing what I do, I’ve never had anyone refuse to sign. I’ve had some refuse to pay or refuse the test for different reasons, but never because of the consent. That means that they are willing to assume the risk to get the answers they are there to receive. Peace of mind is worth it. It would be for me too. They want to know if their hearts are all right.

Truth is, they could also suffer any of these effects walking up stairs or to their car or in the mall. If I was going to have a heart attack doing any of these, I’d much rather it be in a doctor’s office…

What are you willing to try, even if it kills you (fails)? We drive every day, we fly often, we get on boats and rollercoasters. Most of us have gone swimming in the ocean and dove head first into a pool. Somewhere this has killed others, yet we still do it. We don’t want to live in fear. Life is made to enjoy. But still…

How about attempting a new friendship, or revisiting an old one, getting married again, going back to school, applying for a better job, writing the book, or starting that business? Are we willing, even if it fails?

Many people are encouraged to write in a journal to help them sort out their feelings. And, it does…But, how much more does it help for a brave soul to share theirs? Maybe they are feeling the exact same thing. Knowing you aren’t alone could help even more, but someone has to be willing to share. Risk.

Just like you have to play the lottery to win, you have to try, to succeed…Failure doesn’t mean it will never come. And, never trying could lead to the most regret.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

What’s worth the risk to you?

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

God builds us up to send us out.

It’s only in the stories that hurt that we can experience His comfort. Have you ever listened to someone share their story and think “How on earth could someone have to go through that much on this earth”? These are the stories that glorify Him most. Because, “if THEY can lean into God through THAT, surely I should be able to.” He comforts us to send us out and comfort others.

He corrects, teaches, and shares wisdom for our own healing and then to share with our children and others. May we learn something from others so that we don’t have to experience everything first hand.

It’s the hard stuff in our lives that is most likely to impart wisdom or recklessness. Anger can wreak havoc on our lives and loved ones. Are you asking for strength, His power to forgive, wisdom?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 (NIV)

That’s a promise! It WILL be given to you.

When we feel the full expression of God’s forgiveness for ourselves, we can’t help but offer it to others. When He corrects us, someone else needs to hear.  When He changes our desires, it’s to align us with His will.  When we choose to love anyway and in spite of, it’s because of Him. If it’s HIS love that helped you, it’s HIS love you will share.

God builds us up to send us out.

The way He has worked in your life, the courage He has summoned in you, the ways He has renewed your mind, the healing from that specific brokenness, the relationships He has replaced, the hearts you can touch, all come from your specific story. Each one of ours is different and I would LOVE to hear yours…

He meets us right where we are so that we can assure the next person that He will too. Our God LONGS for us.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG)

In each of your hard places, God has a special purpose. When our faith is tested, it is also strengthened. And, it is strengthened for a reason. Through Christ, we could be used to break a generational cycle, reach others across the globe, touch a heart across the cubicle or our own table, raise a warrior for Christ…all and only through Him. (Philippians 4:13) Who knows how He’ll use you?  That’s part of the adventure. No matter what, giving Him the glory, regardless of the outcome, turns our ashes to beauty.

He doesn’t need us to accomplish His plan, but what an honor to be used in any way, shape, or form for His purposes. This is His desire for us. To turn our lives into living testimonies. Your story may seem too ugly to share, but check your return address…There’s a place with your name on it.

There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am. John 14:2-3 (GNT)

Signed with the blood of Jesus, Sealed with His love, and Delivered into His arms…

Looking Back…

looking back

Looking back isn’t easy. We are told to leave the past in the past. As much as I agree with not living in the past, we can and should definitely learn from it. Looking back can also help us realize how far we’ve come and what we’ve been delivered from.

One of my best friends has recently had the courage to share her story of childhood sexual abuse. What bravery. Her willingness to share helps others to know they are not alone. Sharing removes the mask and the secrets and shame the enemy wants us to carry forever. Jesus broke that chain and empowered her. She has forgiven her abuser, but forgiveness doesn’t mean she can’t share her story. It’s the truth and it’s her story to share. Her willingness to forgive brings grace front and center when we realize what she’s been through. Her courage inspires me to look back and share.

This is me looking back. Maybe someone can relate. Maybe someone won’t feel alone. Maybe someone knows someone else who needs to read this. Maybe someone can learn something.

Looking back on our wedding and honeymoon, I remember the hurt feelings…

I remember begging to get pregnant and both times finally getting a very reluctant, “Okay, if it means you stop asking and crying” agreement. At the time, that made me so happy. None of it was happily ever after or how it should be…

We had two girls.

Looking back, I remember feeling sorry for him that I didn’t give him a son. That I didn’t. A football player, a hunting partner..

I remember feeling like my meals weren’t good enough and like I could never clean house well enough.

I remember being made to feel like a dismissive or neglectful mom when I asked if he could take time off to take our daughter to the doctor or stay home when she had fever. We both worked full time.

I remember trying so hard to get and stay out of debt. If he wanted it, he got it. He bought boats, guns, second vehicles, hunting gear, and dear leases. When I asked to go on vacation, we could never afford it. I took our daughter to Disney World twice…once alone and once with my mom.

Looking back, my oldest daughter’s toddler years were precious to me, but my “incompetence” in his eyes seemed to increase. I am just now regaining and recognizing the fact that I was and am a good mom to our girls. Never perfect, but good.

Looking back, I realize that I didn’t share with my friends or family because I wanted them to love him as much as I wanted him to love me.

While the pain of my divorce was intense. Looking back, the pain endured during the marriage probably did the most damage and has taken the longest to unfold, recover, and learn from. Story after story after story. Looking back, I remember, holding my head in my hands and asking my mom “Let me get this straight. He treated me like this and then left me?” She simply nodded, yes.

It wasn’t until I couldn’t bare the thought of my girls thinking this treatment and situation was okay, that I stood up. If they ever were, I’d have no one to blame but myself for allowing it. That’s what it took. And, that was his way out. Out of a marriage he hadn’t wanted to be in for a long time. He took it and blamed me on the way out the door.

Looking back, I see how bad it was. I couldn’t when I was in it. Looking back, I see God showing me more love than I’d ever known or felt in the midst of the least love I’d ever known. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He was with me. Even through the deceit and blaming, God covered me. The emotional pain was killing me and God wouldn’t allow that treatment one more year, one more day.

My desire to stay married and honor my vows, no matter what, prevented me from walking away. Instead, I got left after summoning the strength to stand up. The Lord removed him. Then He picked me up, washed me off, and started the work of healing, comforting, and teaching. What a beautiful sight.

I thought that I was just that miserable to live with, but it turns out he was in love with someone else. They’ve been together ever since.

From the moment I knew divorce was imminent, I started asking God to help me. To help me forgive. To help me coparent. To help me do it to His Glory. And to protect our girls. I have forgiven him. I release that pain to my Father. And, I have learned from it. We still deal with each other on an almost daily basis because of the girls. But, he treats me better now. He loves them very much. He comes to their events. He takes them to the doctor. He’s a better dad now. And, I thank God for that.

My prayer for him is not that his marriage falls apart. Not that he comes back. Not that he gets left. Not that he suffers like I did. Not that he feels abandoned or blamed. But, that he treats her better. That our daughters will see him treat his wife well. That he will look to the Lord for guidance and learn to respect women. That he receives the love and grace offered to him. And, whether he chooses to or not, that our girls will never consider that treatment normal or acceptable. That they will know they are worthy of respect and kindness. That they will value themselves enough to stand up to the alternative. I care too much about their hearts and futures to pass along anything else.

Thank you, Lord, for the strength to stand up and the strength the share.

 

 

 

Out With a Sigh

gift box

I turn 39 next week. My 30s have been tough. So much so, that instead of dreading turning 40, I’m ready to turn the corner.

I’ve raised babies, which we all know is wonderful and HARD. I’ve gone through a painful divorce, which was HARD. I’ve moved. I’ve navigated the scary seas of dating after divorce and as a single mom. This decade of my life has been chock full of HARD lessons and difficult scenarios. I’ve felt the pain. I’ve felt the fear. I’ve grieved the loss. I’ve grown stronger. I started this blog. I also started a Facebook ministry page to share these lessons and my story. Sharing and connecting brings me so much joy. I don’t know where it will lead, but I know it’s helped me heal and helped others in the process. I praise God for that!

I’m ready to take these lessons with me. I’m ready to love all over again. I’m ready to trust. I’m ready to build. I’m ready to help and love on others who have been through what I’ve been through.

I’ve learned what love is and what love is not. I’ve learned how to speak up for myself. I’ve learned that my feelings and opinions matter just as much as the next person. I’ve learned that marriage should include teamwork and family time should be enjoyed as the blessing it is. I’ve learned why I was attracted to my ex-husband in the first place and why that was a huge part of why our marriage was doomed before it even began. He was selfish and I was needy. So needy, in fact, that I accepted far short of what I should have, even from the very beginning.

I’ve learned my worth as a daughter of God. I don’t feel needy for love anymore. I’m thankful to those who do love me, but now I know that I’m already loved more than I could ever imagine and that will never change. I’ve learned that no matter what comes my way in the future, Jesus will never leave me or forsake me. And, I’ve learned the joy that comes with that realization!

I’d say I’ve learned some of these lessons the really hard way, but thank GOD I’ve learned them. They are lessons I want to live out in front of my girls. They are lessons that will help me in the future, come what may. I know I’ll have my share of tough times in my 40s, but knowing Jesus loves me will truly help me through. I want nothing more than to continue to grow in His love and share it with others. He has shown me that His Love is the only remedy for life’s hardest trials.

I’d like to take the love I’ve lost, the love I’ve gained, the friends I’ve lost, the friends I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned, the personal relationship that’s grown, the soul searching, the rediscovering of who I am and who I want to be into my next decade. I want to teach my girls what I’ve learned. I want them to know their worth. I want them to see my joy. I want them to know Who got mommy through. They are still young, 5 and 10. But, each and every day, I know their minds are being impressed, tugged, prodded, pulled. I know because mine is. I can’t force them to follow Jesus, but I can continue to lean on Him and pray with and for them. I can do that. I will do that. I can show them joy. I can show them strength. And, I know now, more than ever, where mine comes from.

Thank you and I’m ready, Lord. Let’s tie this difficult decade up with a pretty bow. Let’s finish not just with a bang, but with a sigh of relief and a smile.

You be You

you be you

Do you struggle with feeling like you’re too much or not enough? I sure do. Do I post too much? Do I write too much? Do I share too much? Do I care too much? Then, I think of what Jesus did for me and instead of reassurance, I’ll feel like I don’t do enough. I should share Him more. I should write more. I should reach out more. I should take more pictures. I should share more pictures. I could never care enough. I should visit my friends more. I should love more.

This “not enough/too much” syndrome is a silent peace stealer. It, once again, does all it can to steal our joy, kill our enthusiasm, and destroy our hope. Today, remind yourself who and Whose you are. Be thankful for who God made you to be. Be proud of how far you’ve come. Be grateful for who God has blessed you with. Be amazed by who Jesus is and what He’s done for you. And, rest in His love for you.

Let your joy come from Jesus, a place of unending, unfailing, unchanging love. Soak yourself in it and love others with it. Only when we feel it, can we share it. I’ve come to realize that I may not always feel peaceful, but I can still have peace in the truth that Jesus is with me. He sees me. He knows me. And, He will never leave me. There is peace to this truth. This truth may not always come with a warm fuzzy feeling, but the peace is in the truth. The faith that I have in Him.

When the enemy knocks on the door of your heart and tells you that you are not enough or too much just by being you, shut him down. Know that you are not alone. David struggled too with “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23 and praise Him “because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well“. Psalm 139:14. He may not have felt it, but He knew it.

We don’t always feel the love from those who love us. There are many times I don’t “feel” the love from my kids. Same goes for friends and family, but I trust that it’s there. I KNOW they love me. Sometimes, we just need to know. Same goes with the love of God, there are times I may not feel it and there are times I feel it so strongly that I’m high and euphoric from it. As fabulous as the highs are, the lows are when we need to know it. And, that takes faith. I thank God that mine has strengthened. He is with me in the highs and the lows.

We are all made differently. We have different gifts, preferences, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. We all need a Savior. We all need love. Celebrate with those who love you for you and guard your heart from those who don’t. We are ALL precious in His sight.

 

 

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.