Sunday, May 24, 2009

Follow the Leader

Leading isn't something that comes easy to me, but everyone who has a purpose, anyone who recognizes their skills, they have a calling to lead in that area. I can take the lead in blessing people with hand made cards as my own crusade of random acts of kindess. I can take the lead being the 'go-to' person for child care in my various community circles. I can take the lead writing about the things God places on my heart, and put them on my blog for the world to see.
That's a lot less daunting when it's said that way, yet I know it is in fact leadership because of how my 'followers' has increased greatly since I've started writing the truth God speaks into my soul. Even when I don't have wise truths persay, just telling the truth about what's going on my life is a witness to the truth of how God is working in me. I know because that same 'everyday truth' I read from other bloggers has allowed God to work in me and they lead me to a closer relationship with Him.
So don't be shy, go forth and be leaders!

Prayer Podium

~For help to make my thoughts obedient to Christ, and receive His peace, guarding my heard and mind
~For all the people in relationships who are dealing with baggage from previous ones, for them to realize God can fill all their needs, they don't need to repeat unhealthy mistakes in attempt to get what they think they need from their spouse
~For me to find healing, to fully deal with my repressed emotions, being open to what the professionals can teach me and willing to let them help me heal (that includes God)
~For my family who don't know God, or don't know Him well enough, that we can find ways to share God with them more
~For the many women who are struggling with fertility (including myself), and for their willingness to let God be in control
~For my sister and BIL, for patience and success in their adoption from Ethiopia
~For my trust in my purpose, and the boldness and courage to fulfill it

~Thanks for my very loving, committed, protective and forgiving husband
~Thx for the blessing of my Church and fellow believers, uniting in conviction

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hope is the greatest expecation and I never learned how to give up

Over this last year I have turned a corner where I have learned to be joyful and at peace with pretty much everything in my life. I've never felt so strongly that God is taking care of me and the people I care about, it may not always be the way we want it, or as fast as we'd want it, or as easy as we want it, but He's taking care of us none the less. I can see Him working in our lives, sharing His truth, changing us, moving us closer to Him, and it's been a life altering thing to experience.
Things aren't perfect of course, stresses do still arise, but for the most part they get dealt with quickly or in prayer they become less stress. Lately I have felt so joyous and blessed for so many reasons.
God has been reaching out to me in so many ways lately, through Church, books, dreams, people, and I almost feel like I can't absorb and process it all sometimes because there is so much. I've never been flooded with His presence as much as I have these last few months, and it's wonderful.
Work is back to a tolerable stress level and there are even days I'm not stressed at all! Not to mention the wonderful vacation to Nashville we have coming up in 2 weeks, the nice relaxing break I've been needing after 4 crazy months at work. And Tennessee is where I am going to meet the author who has been a part of moving me closer to God.
I have such a great bunch of women in my life who I have been and will be getting to spend a lot of time with lately. I can talk to them about anything, and we are real enough that we can get stressed out with and even at each other but work it out. And even better, I can turn to them for prayer, and they know they can do the same with me. What's even more wonderful about them is that half of them are my family, I am so blessed to count my family among my best friends, and I LOVE any time I get to spend time with them!
And of course my wonderful husband. With the stress of moving last year (even as easy as God made it for us) it showed us some weaknesses in our relationship that we've done a pretty good job of patching up. Our communication has been a lot better, we've found compromises that are working for us in the areas we are very different, and I don't think we've ever been closer. Last week Sean was in Las Vegas for most of the week and although I was kept very busy with my quality "girl time" and "me time", I missed him a LOT. Every night we talked just made me look forward to him coming home more. It was almost like falling in love again, there was a lot of mushiness and giddiness and flirtatiousness. A lot of which got written all over Facebook, so yeah, a lot like teenagers in love.
There are many other great things in life to be excited about, like my sister's developing adoption from Ethiopia. I'm so excited to be an aunt to African children, they aren't even here yet but it feels so special already! And I'm so excited to wear the t-shirts I designed and be able to show to the world, maybe get some donations for them:) I'm still thrilled to be an aunt to 3 wonderful kids, and the last time I played with them at Mother's Day, I had the best time with them. They enrich my life every time I'm with them. Summer is just about here, I can go out walking outside again on a regular basis (and get in some quality girl time with anyone wanting to join me), which I'm really looking forward to. Keith Urban concert in a few months with my MIL. The possibility of getting a puppy sometime in the next few months. I've got joy and love and excitement and fulfillment and peace abounding! I'd be hard pressed to find something wrong with my life.

Except for something I had been ignoring.
An anxiousness.
A presence in my dreams.
I have been ignoring it, refusing to dwell on it, trying to push it out of my mind, believing it didn't need addressing. I thought I had succeeded, the thoughts would go away. But then they'd come back.
Thoughts about my ex, Richard.

I've been re-living our past in my dreams (not the good parts) more and more recently, causing me to think about him more and more during the day. Like every time I pass the corner near where he lives I wonder if we'll see each other. I'm anxious every time I pass that corner. I'm not sure why NOW, I pondered it a little in my abuse blog last Saturday, but I guess the main reason is there are emotions I didn't let myself deal with over the years. When I was hiding what was happening for all those years I would squash all feelings because I couldn't feel them AND hide them, and I was too ashamed to NOT hide them. When I found healing through telling everyone the truth 2 1/2 years ago, some of the emotions came to the surface and I thought, that was that. Apparently not.
Last Saturday, after waking from another dream/nightmare about Richard trying to make me suppress the truth, I woke up and HAD to find out what had been going on with him the last year. The last I'd heard from him was on Facebook (a conversation also documented on my other blog) and he was apparently dying and yet still manipulating me. The internet is a wonderful/dangerous thing and I managed to find out he was with another woman, possibly engaged to, whom he hooked up with while she was still married (common-law, not that that makes a difference). She had kids, and apparently she wasn't the only married one he'd tried to hook up with, and I freaked. I HAD to warn her about the Richard I knew. I just felt so strongly she was probably already waist deep in his manipulation. If I could just show her before it was too late and she was married to him.
I didn't think about anything other than trying to save her, I didn't think of how this would look to Sean, or how it might get back to Richard, I had BIG blinders on. I couldn't find her on Facebook but I found her ex and all I could see was that he was my only way to reach her. Yeah, I made the huge mistake of involving him. In that moment I couldn't see that I was talking to her 'enemy', I had dis-credited myself to her completely by going through him, and now he was freaking out about what I had to tell her. I don't know what came over me, I just couldn't think of anything but telling her the truth. I was the only one who could spare her the pain.
After many angry calls and FB chats, and Sean reasoning with me, I dropped the whole thing with them and apologized to them about acting so insane. I didn't apologize to Richard for wanting the truth out, but for how I went about it.
Now, after thinking about it all week, wondering how I could have been so blinded and impulsive, acting completely out of character, with no regard for my loving husband's feelings, and no regard for my own reputation, I have realized this is what happens when you 'take your eyes off the road' for even one second. I didn't deal with the emotions God was bringing up in me for a reason, they needed to be addressed and healed, but instead I avoided them. I hadn't spent as much time with God in the last two weeks as I should have and allowed myself enough distance from Him that I couldn't hear him yelling stop as I went full speed ahead into this mess. Now, I am not only flooded with all these emotions I've been avoiding, but on top of that I have guilt and anger towards myself for acting so recklessly.
I don't understand why, in a time things have been going so wonderfully, I would be so foolish. But I guess it started with fooling myself into thinking I had completely healed and dealt with my past. I don't know why I haven't sought help to deal with it before but it is obvious to me I need help now. Talking to friends and family and fellow bloggers about it HAS been healing, but it's not enough. It's painfully obvious it's not enough.
I'm now looking into talking to someone at Church, the same someone who participated in getting the ball rolling on my healing 2 1/2 years ago when he encouraged me to stop hiding it in the first place. Pray for me in the mean time, I'm hoping for a reprieve on being so full of emotions, it's a sensory overload. It's getting better day by day, but still sometimes I can't fully feel or deal with any one emotion because there are so many others fighting to be felt. I know God is here for me, wanting me to find healing by processing these feelings, I have to feel them for a reason.
The weird thing is, Richard was so concerned about me because of this, because it's not like me at all, and he said he's willing to talk about everything now. No back handed comments, no trying to make me feel bad, just straightforward, "we should talk about this in person". I want to make sure I've talked to a counsellor before that happens, and I've told him that, so that I'm not just replacing healing with closure, but I think there may be hope for finally having that truthful conversation with him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where does self-control end and God's control begin?

It's a real struggle, most days, to figure out what I'm supposed to do and what I'm supposed to let God do. There are so many sayings like, “Pray like it all depends on God, work like it all depends on you.” Or, "God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest." "God gives the milk but not the pail." "Try thyself first, and after call in God. For to the worker God himself lends aid." "God helps those who help themselves."
I know I can't sit on my butt and expect God to take care of everything. I can't expect He'll make the fridge unnopenable when I'm looking to emotionally eat, or to draw my feet to the treadmill like magnets to steel. I can't expect He'll shut down my electronics when I want to waste time rather than spend it with Him. I can't expect He'll erase judgemental thoughts from my mind like a chalkboard. He can't hit pause before I do something stupid so that I have time to think it through and realize I shouldn't do it.
I obviously have to control myself to some extent, but to what extent? Thinking that being dependent on God means sitting on my butt is one extreme and thinking that I have to do it all on my own strength is the other. Where is the middle ground?
I want to know when do I help myself and when do I look to Him for help? Do I just do it until I can't do it myself anymore? Many a tempation has been acted on in that moment of "I can still do this on my own." Do I ask for help before I do every single thing? Somehow that feels like calling up my dad to help me tie my shoes, cut my meat, hold my hand while I cross the street. What if I just make sure to seek His help in my areas of weakness, with my weight, with my laziness, my judgementalness, etc. The thing is I am not aware of every weakness I have. Sometimes those sneaky weaknesses will appear out of nowhere, something you thought was dealt with, something you never contemplated, something completely out of your normal character.
I wish there was some level you can place on yourself to see when you have that perfect balance. A gauge that tells me I'm in the sweet spot. Wait, that sounds a lot like a compass. There is only one way to always make sure I'm pointing north and that's to keep my eyes on Him. Have you ever noticed when you are driving that if your eyes leave the road for even just a few seconds your car has followed the path of your eyes and veared off the path you were heading down? I need to make sure I don't look away, and even if I feel far away, just keep heading north. If I draw near to Him, He'll draw near to me. And the closer to Him I am the more clearly I can hear Him, directing me.
When I want to run to the fridge for any reason other than hunger pains, I'll hear Him say I don't need food to bring myself comfort. When I want to veg out in front of the t.v., I'll hear Him calling me to spend time with Him instead. When I want to pass judgement on someone, I'll hear Him tell me how lucky I am to be close to Him, having Him to direct me away from making those mistakes I'm judging. When I want to act on an impulse that is not becoming of a child of God, I'll hear Him remind me all is for not if I don't act with love.
The fact that I don't hear Him everytime is just evidence I'm still ignoring the compass sometimes. When I'm falling into old pitfalls, making allowances, acting without thinking, just all more evidence I'm not letting Him 'direct my paths', my eyes are somewhere on the side of the road, or the passenger seat, or the car behind me. I need to keep my eyes on Him.
Because you never know when the time you choose to look away from the road is going to be the difference between not being able to avoid a big pothole and hitting a guard rail and flying off the side of a bridge.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shelter from the Storm

Shelter from the storm is a organization that helps women who are/have been abused and lately they have had some fundraising events in Winnipeg, a radio-thon, merchandise at Winners (and some other stores), testimonies, etc. and of course it made me think I need to do more for this cause. Especially, since I've been getting more readers on my other blog, who really bless me with their comments, sharing their own stories and sharing how my blog helps them . I wanted to do my part, so I bought this shirt for me and a friend who has gone through a lot of the same stuff I have.

I also wanted to post a badge from their website, so feel free to follow this link.

And, in the spirit of all the sharing on the subject, I thought I'd share a poem I wrote about my own experience.

With lips dripping poison I’ve been kissed
Hints hidden in humor were not missed
I alone could prevent a threatened tryst
If only I could fulfill your wishes

Not up to par, my logic dismissed
Boyfriend knows best, or so you’d insist
My defense just made you more pissed
My every motive you would twist

Pummeled with words not your fists
You broke my spirit not my wrists
You drew tears, not blood, so you’d persist
Objections fade to whispers as you resist

Saturday, May 9, 2009

101 To Do List Update

I have honestly felt like I haven't been making much progress on this list, especially because I lost track of 1001 days and almost thought it was over this summer (I actually have almost another whole year!) but after doing a quick inventory and update today, it turns out I've made quite a bit of progress actually. Just goes to show I've picked goals I'm subconsciously invested in and keep heading towards regardless, yay for being consistent : )
Here is a link to my updated list.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lowered Expectations

As a Christian in today's society I find there is a really low expectation of my life and my actions under the definition of being a Christian.
I'm a little surprised that when someone knows I am a Christian and I reveal to them things in my past unbecoming of a Christian, like that, in my past, I lived with my boyfriend (at the time), or that I stole, or that I smoked marijuana, there is not the least bit of surprise on their face. I am even more surpised that when someone knows I am a Christian and I reveal to them the fact that I go to Church it has in fact raised an eyebrow, and worse yet, that I go regularily every week has illicited the 'really??' look. And apparently it is also surprising that I volunteer with my Church on a regular basis. When I mentioned I fast to another Christian, I was hailed as 'a much stronger person than they'.

Why are they not surprised about my greatest weaknesses as a Christian, but are surprised by every day character/actions a Christian should demonstrate? I don't feel like I'm anywhere near the point people should be surprised at my spirituality, yet, they are.

As I mentioned here on my blog previously, this is not the kind of faith we should be leading people into, we shouldn't be allowing people to believe we fall into that definition of a Christian. We are not just wearing a label applied to people who believe in Jesus Christ, and the inside contents don't matter. We are His followers in everything He asks us to do, no matter the cost, and the inside contents are ALL that matters because it is the inside that will create an outside worthy of the label Christian.

Does that mean living the life of a monk just to show we are different? Does God just want martyrs? Or does it mean being a crusader, constantly fighting for the cause, defending the faith? Does God just want heroes? Of course not, all that matters to God is a servant heart, giving up what the rest of the world expects and focusing on serving Him.

Instead of being expectedly self-reliant, we need to be humble and meek. Instead of being expectedly concerned with having enough money/possessions to live our life, we need to realize everything we have is borrowed, and it is such a pitence compared to the promises of being in His company. Instead of being expectedly consumed with 'our time', 'our energy', 'our space', 'our rights', we need to depend on Him to sustain us. And instead of being expectedly entitled to blessings and the 'good life', we need to wake up and read the Bible. There's only, you know, a few verses that forwarn us that being followers of God on earth is not a cake walk. Try doing a Bible Gateway search on suffering in the New Testament. It isn't something we are all called to seek out, but realize that living differently than the world expects us to may just bring it upon ourselves. We are not all that far away from losing religous freedoms in this world completely, and not only will living differently get negative attention but just declaring the truth of God will too. In a not too distant future, it most assuredly will bring suffering upon ourselves.

If you are more scared than excited to start raising the expectation of what it means to be a Christian, believe me you are not alone, I'm actually quite nervous about these words I write, as I write them. But there are a few things that keep me going. First and foremost, it's harder to ignore the truth being spoken into your heart by the almighty God than it is to do what He asks of me. Second, I realize the only thing here on earth that permanently affects me is how I respond to God. Any hardships/suffering that come my way here on earth are only for my betterment and His glory.
And of course the reason I was burdened to write this in the first place. There are youth in this world with more courage than I, willing to elevate the standard they hold themelves to even if the world won't. They are living out 1 Timothy 4:12 in their every day life, and it reminds me I am called to live out my faith like a child. They know they have more to offer this world than it expects of them, and they know it won't be easy, but they also have the unwaivering trust in their Father that we all need. These are just two examples of the youth I admire today:

I hope they spur you on like they have spurred me on. Now go forth and be elevators.
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