Learning to Love

16 Apr

Learning to Love…Could it be I never loved before?…

I recently said this, but I am going to say it again: “If Kansas was ‘endurance training’ then Florida has been ‘strength training'”

Have you ever seen those people on the news after a tornado completely leveled their home and stole from them everything besides the shirt on their back? I know you have, it is a horrible, heartbreaking site.

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Kansas:

Kansas is simple. Tornado alley. I had no idea what I was walking into, and the best way to describe my stay there would be an image of myself, hunkered down in a storm shelter, holding on for dear life. Lies swirled around crashing all that I knew to the ground. I could not walk, I could barely breath. The fun loving, healthy, hopeful girl I was no longer remained. This new girl watched as the thousand piece puzzle that was her story swirled around her bunker, and all she had the strength to do was hold two puzzle pieces together– Puzzle piece: me and puzzle piece: Stephen. Puzzle piece: health, Puzzle piece: friends, Puzzle piece: identity, Puzzle piece: goals and aspirations, and most importantly Puzzle Piece: Faith, had whipped right out the window scattered across the corn fields. I was weak, so incredibly weak. Just holding on…..Endurance….

The Light that peeked through was Florida. There I would shine, I would piece it all back together! No one would even see my wounds. I would be instantly healed! (ha)

Once again….

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^ This is who showed up in Florida (metaphorically speaking). I was not ‘me’ I was something else now. I had gained 30 lbs in Kansas, I lost site of all the goals I set, and I had built a fortress around myself.

Well I was going to change that!

And so began the striving….

If I am the best friend ever, they will love me. If I meet all his needs, he will notice me. If I run a million miles every day, they will see me. If I say yes to every single request made of me, they will appreciate me. If I make money, don’t spend money, keep the house perfect, and continually add to my skill set, they will finally accept me.

Stacking weights, stacking weights….

Back to the post-tornado picture. What are those ladies holding? Boxes of stuff! I can imagine them frantically running around a half a mile radius collecting anything that remains, and stacking it in their boxes. Who wouldn’t do that? Thats what I did. I had lost myself, lost “it all”…so I frantically collected…exhausted all the time.

Holding stacks and stacks of weights, never able to drop them for fear they would shatter.

But then the heaviest weight came, without invite, and it was too much to bare. Everything I was holding fell to the floor. I could finally see it for what it was. Not because of anything I did, but because of what HE did.

“Because you are his sons, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, the spirit who calls to, ‘Abba Father’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:6-7

“No longer a slave”….need I say more?

God held me through the storm and watched me frantically stack my weights, so he could take it all from me. We cannot appreciate rest without work or peace without trial. Over the last 8 months. He has revealed to me, one by one, the strength that he has built in me by the weights he allowed me to pick up. I am in utter amazement. He turns ALL things into good.

So back to “learning to love”

My mission has been Jesus ~ His kind of love, the kind that truly surpasses understanding. In the past, my striving was met with a let down (striving always is). I can’t make people love me the way I love them, I can’t make people see me as I truly am.

Awhile back, I told Stephen, “Man, I wish I knew what my special gift was” (I had just been reading 1 Peter 4:10). Then he said, “You do know….its generosity.” At first I was a little taken back, perhaps resentful. I knew that generosity had hurt me time and time again. I wanted a special gift that would only make me happy! (haha).

So I prayed on it and I began to see Jesus from His perspective not from ours. We see the love he gives us, but sometimes we forget about the love we deny him or the love he was denied while he was alive. Had Jesus become discouraged he probably would have crawled back to Mary’s house and built little end tables the rest of his life (joking of course). Yet, he gave love freely and perfectly regardless of the response. His ability to do that established the greatest love story of our existence and the most perfect human example we have.

So through his life we receive the Holy Trinity of Love lessons:

1. How very much he loves us (beyond what our human minds can comprehend)

2. How to show love to each other

3. How to live in constant Love, not defeat (This is in relation to yourself, to others, and with God).

Its all in his life.

He is taking me on this amazing love journey and sending me little angels along the way, and I am so unbelievably thankful. I wear my gift of generosity like a bright shiny badge, because every good thing about me is of him 🙂

Love you all!!!!!!

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Gods At War

8 Apr

Last week I travelled to Nashville to reunite with a very dear friend of mine. I was taking the trip solo this time, so I decided to download the audio version of the next book on my reading list “Gods At War” by Kyle Idleman. This book defines several ‘false gods’ in our modern culture and how we worship them. False gods are nothing new to me, but my pull toward them is strong. So I intently pursue reading material like this to remind me of their destruction.

The book goes into several false gods (idols): Pleasure, success, money, food, sex, entertainment….you know the usuals

But the most profound message that I walked away with was our human desire to worship. It is deep within our DNA to worship and if we think by not worshipping God, we are not worshipping at all…..well we are wrong. We are all worshipping something!

{Side note: I have to mention that after returning home, my pastor preached on this exact topic the very next Sunday. Not a coincidence!}

Kyle asks the reader to look at their life like a closet. Everything hanging inside we worship (For many of us ladies, this doesn’t even have to read as a metaphor..lol). Our society tells us by simply cramming God in our closet, we are fine! That covers it!! All our gods tucked nicely inside….

What gods hang among the one true God in your closet?

I had to take a deeper look at this one.

I surveyed my past and my present very closely and examined the various paths my idols had taken me down. The discovery was remarkable. I was lured in by the same message and left defeated and depleted every time. Not sometimes, EVERY TIME! 

The only God that is Truth and Honestly tells us from the very beginning, “This will be hard, you will experience trials, I will refine you through the fire, and people will turn against you, but I will give you pure joy, peace, love, happiness, and eternal life in return.” Ok wait a second!!! All these other gods (The TV, this double fudge brownie, extreme diets and gym binges, video games, alcohol, and drugs), they tell me I can have all that great stuff you mention at the end without having to go through the suffering in the beginning. So why would I choose your way?– Deep inside we all know the answer to this. How do all of those “other gods” make you feel after you had your ‘high’? Bad, exhausted, not good enough, ashamed, disappointed….here is the best one: still searching? There will always be a void at the end of all these false gods. If you don’t believe me start looking for it, you will see. Our God fills that void instantly! He is the only one who can. The void is shaped in his image.

As I have worked to purge myself of the lies, and focus on his amazing love, “the truth”, I am reminded of David’s cup that “runneth over”(Psalm 23:5). For that is how I feel every day. I don’t worship God out of obligation or because what he promises me. I worship him because I love him. Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the story of my God in human form. They share his life and his sacrifice. What I see is the coolest, kindest, most amazing man I have ever read about, heard about, or met! I want to be just like him. I want to love others the way he did, and I want to forgive freely as he did. I want to run out in the streets, grab his cross and carry it with him. I want to spend the day with my face cupped in his nail pierced hands. I want to hear his voice, as he tells me who I am to him. I just want to be with him every second of every day. 🙂

There is no amount of worldly striving that can satisfy the way striving to be near the creator can. 

So I am not clearing my closet out of obligation to an old testament law, I am clearing my closet out of love. In the morning when I rise, he is all I want to cover me. My prayer is that as the world continues to bombard me with images that claim to satisfy, that I will stay reminded of the truth…the truth that is in him.

 

(Gods At War. Kyle Idleman. 2013. http://www.godsatwar.com).

 

His Promise

5 Apr

April 21-27 is Infertility Awareness Week! 1 in 8 women will suffer from this emotionally painful condition, and many of them will suffer in silence. Infertility is a “secret” disorder, yet its impact is massive and devastating. I believe it needs to be discussed, so couples who are experiencing it can feel comfortable seeking support. So please share this with as many people as you can, because I guarantee you know someone who needs to hear it.

This is my story, my poem….

His Promise

Its the moment when you reach out to him 
He looks in your eyes and there it all begins
The love that was shared just between you two
Is ready to bring into this world life a new
Soon everything we know will surely change
But we have said our goodbyes to the younger days
I can see it all so clearly, right before my eyes
My hopes and dreams, the promises of our lives

Then the days they pass on by into years
Families grow, but all I’m left with are tears
Where’s the life that this world promised me?
Where’s my kids, my joy, my family?
Didn’t you say to ask and I will receive?
Then why is it me, your faithful daughter, who cannot conceive?

Others look at me in pain, trying desperately to avoid
What can they say to comfort me, that doesn’t just annoy?
You cannot know, YOU CANNOT KNOW, how this possibly feels
As your children dance and play, wrapped around your heels
And it’s hard, it’s so hard, and I just can’t stand it
Im down on my knees screaming, “Lord is this how you planned it?”

But at first the answer doesn’t come and the time it moves so still
Every month that passes by, there is a funeral only I feel
And each and every time I say “God I have given this to you”
But each and every time, I know that is not the truth
And then one day he gave me just a little light to see
He whispered “I’m your comfort and a lamp unto your feet
You don’t know where you are going, but I’m already there
It’s the promise that I made you, but way beyond compare
So please just take me by the hand and know I’ve been here all along
I have surely come to prosper you and keep you from all harm
Give to me your baby and everything you own
And I will show you love beyond what you have ever known.”

Florida Oh Florida..How I Love You Florida…

2 Sep

From Kansas to Florida..also known as…From Hell to Heaven! Haha! Many of you know I am a Tennessee girl but lived the last two years in Manhattan, Kansas. It was a very tough two years. It was never designed to be an easy situation for me. Stephen deployed right away and I soon learned that Kansas was not the place for a girl with seasonal depression. The winters in Kansas start in the fall and end late spring, they are brutally cold and obnoxiously snowy. The summers are sizzling hot and dry, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I have always been a heat addict, so I was thrilled when we got orders to Florida!

Ever since I realized that I suffered from seasonal depression, Florida became my dream. I had seen it work wonders in my Dad’s life. He is the one that passed seasonal depression down to me, and since he has been spending his winters in Florida he seems to be a new man. So needless to say when we got the good news that we were relocating, I was beyond excited! Let me say it has been all that I expected and more.

I have never felt more in my element. The sun stings my skin and I feel free! In the morning I like to get up, have some coffee, and then drive down to the beach. Its about a 7 minute drive, which is nothing. The sand is fresh from the night tide and the sun is still low in the sky. The seashells are scattered face up ready to be collected and the seagulls are on the prowl for little crabs. Its absolutely gorgeous!! Usually at this time there are a few sun bathers reading their books in their lounge chairs, but I am the only runner. Most of the runners have already came and gone but I like to wait for a bit more heat to fill up the air. As I jog toward the sun I can trace the footsteps of the joggers that hit the sand before me (You can tell who was running by the tracks they leave). I like to compete with them in my mind. A couple miles down the sand I am all alone and it is simply stunning! Once I reach my goal and decided to turn around, I like to just stare out over the ocean for a minute. It is truly remarkable to stand at the cusp of two entirely different worlds. Here I am on land, with my toes touching a world that is nothing like my own. We take the ocean for granted because it is so close, but truth be told its as far away as Mars. We cannot live in the ocean, we can only observe it, visit it, put our special suits on to explore it. We will continually be amazed by it as we find new life and new depths. When I stand in the sand and the waves crush against my legs I am reminded of the miraculous place I am standing and wonder how close I am to heaven as well.

Other than the morning runs on the beach I am drawn there, like a moth to a flame, almost daily. From my street you can see the water and it gets me all amped up for a beach trip even if its just for a few minutes. Everyday the ocean is different. Somedays its wavy and dark green with sea weed, other days its calm and clear. Last week I went with Katie and we were blessed to see a gorgeous pack of dolphins. We saw them jumping and playing from the beach and then again from the pier. The angle from the pier was spectacular! We could see straight through the water and watch as they spun, played, and jumped. I had never been so amazed. We also had the pleasure of seeing a beautiful sea turtle and several large schools of fish. It was a wonderful day.

In addition to the obvious reason why Florida is great, I am also fascinated by all the litter creatures I have in my backyard, from lizards to salamanders to frogs and gorgeous dragonflies. The birds are beautiful as well!

Even though I have had to spend a lot of time alone because of Stephen’s job, I am truly happy here. I know they say if you are happy you can be happy anywhere…or some crap like that…Well I believe that is true to a point, but I know that certain places pick certain people and this place has PICKED me!! The girl who loves God, Nature, and all the Animals of the world couldn’t be happier 🙂

Back In Florida And The Sun Is Out!

16 Aug

Well folks Im back! After nearly three weeks away, divided between Oklahoma and Tennessee, I am back in Florida. Stephen and I saw each other for the first time this weekend and it was really nice. We have begun our quest to find the perfect church but yesterday was a swing and a miss. LOL!

Our neighbors down the street pastor The Mary Esther Church of God. They invited me, while rescuing me from a lawnmower disaster, last week. Stephen had attended a Church of God before but I had not, so he was familiar with the general style of service. Everyone was very friendly, the praise and worship was wonderful, but we decided the theatrics of the preaching style was a bit distracting. The church was also comprised of mainly seniors, which is wonderful but we are in serious need of some christian friends our age. Having said all that, it was a lovely church full of lovely people and we did receive a beautiful message that day. We are very grateful that we were invited and treated so kindly. Thank you Mary Esther Church of God!

Next week we will try a new place 🙂 Pray for us!

Quickly~Stephen bought a motorcycle while I was gone. I am not happy about it. I am scared! It is dangerous! It was too expensive!…..I am choosing to ignore this and have faith he will be safe. Prayers needed!!!! HAHA!

Last Friday I came home to a new marriage, and a renewed hope! Family interference will no longer plague us! The last three weeks God worked in a powerful way that is truly a testament to his existence! Strong holds were broken and truths were revealed. The spirit of rejection that had covered me for years, damaging my relationships and holding me back from trusting, was lifted. Stephen gave up video games, deleted all of his video game subscriptions, and no longer has the desire to play. He told me he wants to be happy and that the games were ruling his life. We spent the weekend enjoying each others company, talking about REAL things, and NOT zoning out or disconnecting. There is still much to be done, but we are committed to raising the bar! We wont stand for a “mainstream” marriage of merely co-existing and searching for ways to numb ourselves out just to make it through. We know we can have all the things that God wanted for us when he created life and created marriage. We can feel love, experience joy, and know the ultimate connection that he designed for us and wants for us, with him at the CENTER of course 🙂

I know some of you might be thinking. Why is she telling us such personal details of her life???? WHY NOT!!?? Im not telling you everything, but I am telling you things I believe you need to hear. Some of you have been through this, some of you are in the midst of it now! There is a season for everything. We all most move from fall to winter, from winter to spring…. The transition isn’t always easy but every season is necessary. Winter is a time for old things to die, the earth to be still and rest, its darker and colder but it has to happen. When spring comes, the seeds that were dormant struggle to push their way to the surface. Every thing is new and fragile, but beautiful and fresh. We appreciate it all so much more because we waited so long for it to arrive.

Life is the same way. No one is exempt. Why deny the seasons of our lives when we can reach out to one another and help each other through? My summer might be your winter. I want to be there to shine a little light and remind you spring is around the bend. I hope you would do the same for me.

LOVE YOU GUYS XOXOXO

Thanks Bub!

5 Aug

So Im going through some hard stuff..yadayadayada…anyway
My brother comes by today. He says “Well at least you look good.”
I said, “Oh Thanks thats very sweet.”
He said, “You know it could always be worse. You could be going through all this stuff and not look good.”

Thanks Bub for the perspective! I love you and feel better already!!!

A Story From God To Me….To You:

1 Aug

There are two families, seemingly the same from the outside, but very different in fact. Their homes are located in the same neighborhood and their kids go to the same school, but that is where their similarities end.

One night as God was looking down at his corrupted creation, once filled with lush green forests, healthy animals, and strong communities, he decided it was time for a big change. God decided he was going to turn all materialistic junk and man-made distractions to sand, leaving only the necessities behind.

Instantly, in a blink of an eye, homes crumbled, big TVs vanished, computers blew away, and fancy cars turned to dust! Families crawled out from the rubble in disbelief by what they saw.

How did our two, seemingly the same, yet vastly different families react? Well they reacted very differently, of course…

The first family, The Smiths, were distraught and confused at first (who wouldn’t be?), but Momma Smith, with her infinite positivity, pointed out to her husband and kids just how beautiful the sky looked without all of the city lights to drown out the stars. Mr. Smith agreed, “Yeah kids, it looks like the sky at the lake where we go camping! Here are some blankets, lets pretend we are camping out by the lake and gaze at the stars together. It will all be better tomorrow.” Mrs. Smith grabbed the blankets from her wonderful husband, and began setting the scene for her sweet little family camp out. They spent the evening telling stories, staring at the sky, and singing little songs they learned at church. As his family slipped off to sleep on their pile of sand, Mr. Smith, just thanked God for their safety, then he drifted off to sleep as well.

The second family, The Andersons, emerged from the rubble distraught and confused as well, but rather than finding a away to find peace, their distress only grew. Mrs. Anderson SCREAMED and MOANED, “OHH No! My car!! Oh and my beautiful bathroom, we just had it remodeled!! What are we going to do?? GOD what are we going to do??” Mr. Anderson, was of no comfort to his panic stricken wife, as he was simply handicapped by the loss of his huge flat screen TV, and the private man room he recently built in order to get away from his family in the evenings. The kids were a balling mess, pulling at their momma’s skirt, asking, “Mom, what happened to our TV, our playstation, our computer…? MOM!! When are we gonna get our stuff back??? MOM!! We can’t live out here like this! What are YOU going to do?”

Soon The Andersons’ frantic panic turned to a quiet hum. The family of four sat on their pile of sand with tears running down their faces, staring straight ahead in a trance; ironically much like the position they were in most evening’s, but without the mindless media to entertain them. The chance of sleep was an impossibility, for their lives were over.

After several hours passed, the devil payed a visit to The Andersons. “Oh you poor dears!” He said as he climb to top off of their sand pile. “Well, this is completely unacceptable! You all cannot live this way. Where is your TV? Your big beds? You computer’s?”  The entire family jumped up, grappled with the sand, and pulled their way toward the logically concerned man. Mrs. Anderson said, “Finally someone has come to help us! Sir, everything we love is gone! Please can you help us?”  The devil responded, “Of course I can help you. I will give you back all of your things, so you can have a restful night sleep. How does that sound?” The entire family jumped for joy, claiming they would do ANYTHING to have their stuff back!

The devil met their request and gave them beautiful bedroom sets, brand new TVs, and computers right there on the sand. The family instantly dispersed, crawled in their big luxurious beds, turned on their TV and computers, and indulged in their usual nightly rituals. Before they knew it, they were all asleep with the noise of infomercials playing softly in the background.

As the night turned to morning the sand could not take the weight of all The Andersons’ stuff. Slowly as the minutes passed, their beds sunk into the sand and they were buried beneath the rubble forever.

As the sun rose, The Smiths woke up to a gorgeous blue sky and crystal clear lake that came right up to their toes. They could not believe the beauty that was before them. They stood in amazement, quietly asking, “Where did this lake come from?”  But they all knew it was God, they had seen his works before.

Just then, two boats floated up to the shore. One was a modest little row boat and the other was a majestically beautiful ship. The kids hollered in unison, “WOW! Look at that big ship! Should we get on?”  Mrs. Smith said, “No babies, lets leave that ship for all other families. Im sure someone else will need it.”  Mr Smith nodded and smiled, “Kids that row boat has our name on it. Come on lets see where it takes us!”

They jumped in the boat….and followed the SON…..

quick update…

29 Jul

I have now reached delirium! Yesterday I drove 10 hrs to get to Tulsa Oklahoma to be with my mom. I started my period and I have fallen ill with some sort of wicked summer time cold! I am running a low grade fever, my throat is swollen, and my nose is running like a faucet. In addition, I am suffering from my typical near death period pain. What do I have to say to all this??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I mean seriously?? LOL!
Anyhow, some of you will see the humor in this as you are aware of everything that has happened lately, while others will just think, “so what? she just has a cold!” To that, I say….HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Be back when I am better and I have something good to talk about! 🙂 Love you guys!

GREEK YOGURT IS GREAT!!

26 Jul

I just have to share this with you guys. You absolutely have to try Greek Yogurt, if you havent already! I recently read an article about its benefits and it blows our standard yogurt out of the water. The yogurt most of us eat because we think its healthy, is in fact loaded down with sugar. Greek yogurt is sweetened very little and naturally, it is also fat free and has DOUBLE the amount of protein. If all this wasn’t enough, it is DELICIOUS and Filling!! I like the kind with strawberry on the bottom it tastes just like strawberry cheesecake:) And last week I used the plain as a substitute for sour cream on my homemade shrimp tacos, essentially eliminating anything bad from the meal without sacrificing taste.
In my efforts to lose weight I have tried many different things and so far this little snack has helped tremendously. You will be surprised how long you stay full and satisfied 🙂 Give it a try. XOXOXO

Just A Little Update!

24 Jul

Yesterday I decided to come home (Nashville) for a little Rest and Relaxation. The last week has been quite exhausting and through it all my family has been such a positive force. I knew it was time, after two years of separation, for me to come home for an extended visit, soak up some love, and hopefully give some back in return. There are times in life when you really have to go back to the beginning, look down the path you have walked, and gain a little perspective. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have some great support cheering you on!
So, I packed up around 2pm yesterday. My loyal steed Maggie hopped in my suit case and made her stance known, so I spent a little time assuring her that she and Rambo were coming too 🙂 Then we hit the road.
My Dad met us at the door with kind loving words and my room prepared for me. He insisted that I sleep as long as I can and that he would take care of the dogs in the morning. I WOKE UP AT 11:00!!! I can’t remember the last time that happened. I was so thankful to get some rest.
Today we plan to see a movie and just spend time together. I will let you all know how the day goes and throw in a movie review for free 😉
Remember I love you all!!!