Love Notes in Disguise

In a woeful moment in Pity City I journaled my memories from my past that have resulted in my hurts of my present so that I can work to keep them from seeping into my future.

These moments in Pity City are no fun. They’re challenging because they cause me to remember things I try not to think about. This is part of the process of my 6 month journey to my heart’s desire so I found myself pouring it out in writing in my most favorite owl covered journal (because journaling in this journal makes it better…to me anyway). I paused for an ice cream break because ice cream made Pity City easier (insert #fatkidproblem) and after indulging in the last bite I resolved to continue journaling.

Lord, I feel the hurt from…and it just doesn’t go away. What went wrong? How is it fair that…and there is no consequence?

Just then the phone rang. I was expecting this call so I took it (relieved to get out of my own head for a moment). This beautiful woman and I talked about some fun business things and then the conversation turned a bit. Lovingly she asked about how I am doing. I shared some revelations without telling her what I had just been journaling and in a 30 minute conversation I was met with the Lord’s answer to my cry out for reassurance, understanding, comfort, and encouragement in the form a love note named Melissa T.

I experienced two major blessings from this love note…

1. God wants to be included in every part of my life so that HE can rush in to be my knight in shining armor and/or send in someone or something that gives me just what I need at just the right moment. He is always on call with an abundance of love notes, love songs, love stories…LOVE…unconditional, unwavering, unending love.

2. When I walk with the Lord and strive to truly make him my focus, even in my imperfections (or flatout FAILS), those watching me see the good and God uses that in many ways. These people don’t have to be in my life daily, but people notice and are moved  by God at work in me and through me…in you too!

I’m thankful for love notes in disguise. They’re the sweetest surprise that fills my heart even in the deepest, darkest moments.

Pity City is no fun, but even there God delivers love notes to encourage me on to the next stop on my journey.

You’re Doing What?!

Definitely not the first time I’ve been asked this question.

All the other times I’ve heard those words I’ve almost always sunk to a place of doubt, but this time around, each time I hear, “You’re doing what?!”, I just smile. I honestly become more and more sure that this is right.

What is this? Well, it’s my 6 month pledge to no dating. Yep! 6 months of no dating.

The question that normally follows is, “why?”.

So here’s my answer…

I had my first boyfriend when I was 15 years old. I met him online in an AOL chatroom (yes, a “you’re doing what?!” moment). We were a long distance couple for 2 years. We did see each other from time to time. I’m sure from the moment my parents found out they were hoping it wouldn’t last long, but I’m a committed gal and I stuck it out til it was time to be done.

That ended and my next boyfriend was a friend I had known for a couple years. We were an official couple in October of 2001 and were young and in love (naive).  We ended up pregnant (not a “you’re doing what?!” moment, but definitely a “YOU’RE WHAT?!” moment). We made a decision to be married in June of 2002 and miscarried that baby in April of 2002. We were married anyway and after 6 years and 2 kids we separated and then divorced. But wait! There’s more! A month after our divorce was final I realized I was carrying the baby of my ex husband (another, “YOU’RE WHAT?!” moment).

Stellar record, right?!

Thank goodness God is a redeeming God. I am thankful that somehow he takes my tarnished past and uses it for good.

So from the time I realized I was pregnant with my daughter until just recently there has been an ongoing battle within me. the Christian woman with MY plan, MY vision, MY wants kind of battle.

God wants a family restored.

Kids want family together.

I love him even though he’s hurt me.

Things are different. Things will be different.

This is the right thing.

This isn’t the right thing.

Who else will want me with 3 kids?

ENOUGH.

So, for months now I’ve had friends and family praying for me and my forever husband. I’m on two dating sites  (I’ve tried others too). My closest friends have started their own mission of marrying me off ASAP. I’ve been on dates, emailed numbers of maybes. I’ve avoided and blocked many scary people. A week ago I read a blog that mentioned a book called You’re Knight in Shining Armor by P.B Wilson. The same night I read this blog I happend to flip back a few pages in my journal and reread an assignment from a study I am in the process of completing. You can read that entry here .

I came to the realization that I as much as I dislike dating (seriously do not enjoy dating), for the last month, I’ve made it a focal point in my life and it was getting ugly. I reflected back to times when I was most carefree and fulfilled and it was when I was so busy being mom, career woman on a mission to bless as many people as possible, and enjoying the company of some really incredible people in my life. I wasn’t focused on finding my forever husband because I was focused on being who I should be for my forever husband. It’s time to get back to that.

In You’re Knight in Shining Armor, the intro talks about “The Manhunt”. P.B Wilson points out that Proverbs 18:22 says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord”. This verse makes me think back to days when girls weren’t out pursuing guys. Guys were out courting ladies. If they were out courting it meant they had something to offer her. If he was courting her it meant she had something to offer him. Fantasy? No, the way it should be.

I’m not interested in the manhunt. I want a true love story and that’s going to begin with the love story between me and God. He knows my heart’s desires because he’s written them on my heart.

6 months…what’s there to lose?

Single ladies, join me.

Men in pursuit of me…call me in 6 months.

My Vision Assignment

I’m currently co-leading a small group for You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream Opening  the Door to All God Has for You  by Holley Gerth. The first chapter encourages readers to create a vision board. I enjoy writing much more than creating boards with cut outs so I wrote my vision. Here it is…

I am a happily married woman. My husband is a God fearing man who loves my kids and shares the same heart for ministry as me. Together we keep God at the focus of our lives and work to promote peace within our home.

I joyfully provide for the needs of our household by creating a space our family enjoys to dwell in. My husband knows I adore him and strive ot make his role head of our family smooth and enoyable. In return he adores me and treasures me like Christ does the church. He desires to provide financially as well as in example. He loves our family and nurtures us while protecting and defending us. We feel incredibly secure.

The Lord is glorified in all we stand for.

My husband and I work hard while balancing the priorities God has laid on our hearts. He understands my passion in my work and encourages me to be my best and provide my best. I too understand his passion for his work and encourage him to be his best and provide his best. Our children are blessed by this example.

Even when times are hard, we press on together taking whatever measures necessary to stay together.

Our home is beautiful. It welcomes all those whom the Lord sends our way. There is never a turnaway for God’s children are our family. God always provides enough. The focal point is the table – large and sturdy- a pictures of the Lord’s bounty. Many witness the love of Jesus at this table. The artwork that hangs by its side is simple, but meaningful – a memorial to the lives touched by Jesus at this place – a reminder that it isn’t about us – it’s about the Lord.

I’m learning that sometimes the vision in my mind isn’t exactly God’s vision, but God knows the desires written on my heart and even if details of this vision change, God will provide me my forever husband to create God’s perfect picture of our lives together.

A New Journey Begins

Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

Interestingly, I am not an avid reader by nature. The contents of books on my book shelf, desk, and purse might make one assume differently, but if you knew me years ago you would know I have trained myself to become an avid reader. I’ve learned that there is so much wisdom to gain from the insights and imaginations of others and if God has gifted them the ability to write, I ought to read and make use of their gift so I can better make use of my own.

That being said, the Lord is the Mastermind of my reading selections. I told someone recently that God is present everywhere, we just choose whether we see him or not. I am always trying to find the many places God is at work and I undoubtedly see God at work when a random selection of books all somehow coincide to tackle areas in my life that I need to be paying attention to. Right now,  God is growing me in big ways. This growth has sparked my new journey.

I hope you’ll check in and follow me through this next six months. I’m not exactly sure what it will look like; however, I know God has laid it on my heart to start this journey and to share it with complete transparency (hence the blogging through it). I am a firm believer that we are who we are because of every piece of our life’s story. I also believe that a life’s story is wasted when we keep it to ourselves. We walk in our shoes to help those around us walk in their own, but the blessing in sharing is that we can help to spur others on as they continue to travel forward in spite of the stumbling stones and gnarly tumbles down the mountains and into the valleys.

My goal for the end of my 6 month journey is to truly know for myself what the desires of my heart are and to wait in joyful anticipation for God to give me the desires of my heart as I live with abandon, delighting in him.

There are no accidents…

People who know my whole story understand that the positivity that flows through me is only possible because of God. I won’t pretend as though I’ve lived some horrible kind of life because I am truly blessed beyond measure, but I have experienced deep pain that has paralyzed me and left me in some dark places where my only help was a cry out to the Lord.

Five years ago I found myself in such a dark place. My divorce was finalized in July of 2008 and I started my first semester back to college that same August with 18 units. I was set to dive in and knock out my degree to get on with life for me and my boys. One week into the semester I realized I was pregnant. What a slap in the face. Not only was I devastated because I was in no position to care for another baby, but I had just started school and had already dropped classes previous semesters due to family responsibilities. Top that off with embarrassment and shame and it was no wonder why I found myself in a pit.

When I’m sharing my testimony, I point out that I only made it through because God carried me. I literally lived by my alarm clock. Every penny possible went to putting two kids in school full time so they didn’t have to see mom depressed. I woke up to the alarm to feed, dress, and get the boys off to school. I got home and set the alarm to get up in time to make it to my classes. I got home and set the alarm in time to get up and pick up the boys. I did our afternoon and nighttime routines and set the alarm to do it all again. I slept, did what I absolutely had to do, and spent a lot of time in tears.I’m not sharing this for pity. I’m not sharing this to air any kind of dirty laundry because sharing these details takes humility. I am responsible for the choices I had made and I’ve suffered the consequences of those choices too.

Thankfully God is a God who redeems. He does make all things beautiful! While I was pregnant I didn’t want my baby to feel like she wasn’t wanted. The last thing I would ever want is for Isabella to think she was unplanned because she wasn’t. God planned her. God knew the choices I would make and He accounted for those choices. I recited a poem to Isabella every night while she grew in my belly. I share this poem with you tonight so that no matter what you’re enduring in life right now, you know God uses it all for good.

 You are who you are for a reason.

You’re part of a intricate plan.

You’re a precious and perfect unique design.

Called God’s special woman or man.

 

You look like you look for a reason.

Our God made no mistake.

He knit you together within the womb,

You’re just what he wanted to make.

 

The parents you had were the ones he chose,

And no matter how you may feel,

They were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind,

And they bear the Master’s seal.

 

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.

And God wept that it hurt you so;

But it was allowed to shape your heart

So that into his likeness you’d grow.

 

You are who you are for a reason,

You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.

You are who you are, beloved,

Because there is as God!

-Russell Kelfer

God at Work

Image

I was looking over my Facebook page just a little bit ago and ran across a “note” I had posted a while back. I wanted to share it again here because it was a reminder to watch for where God is truly at work in the midst of our busy, overwhelming lives. See, some days, I get myself all worked up drowning in the circumstance instead of reveling in how God is using the good, the bad, and the ugly to create His masterpiece.

Everyday I work endlessly. From the moment I wake up until the moment I am passed out in exhaustion I am constantly looking for the next thing or the next person God wants me to pour out love into. Some people might think I’m living life so crazy that I couldn’t possibly be enjoying any part of it, but that is just not true. I am crazy in awe of God and how much he is blessing me through this way of life…a life surrendered with full abandon.

Thinking about Christopher just makes my heart swell with pride. Not in the sense that he’s some perfect kid because let’s be honest…there is no such thing as a perfect kid or adult. He is your average 10 year old with struggles, curiosities, attitude, and everything else that comes with your standard boy. Underneath all that he is also a child of God who has found his Savior, made a declaration of that in baptism, and is now giving it his best go at this life until he too can celebrate at the feet of Jesus in Heaven. As I reread my note, I just had to give thanks to God for allowing me to be a part of Christopher’s story…for choosing me to be called Mom by him. I was not equipped when God blessed me with such a great responsibility, but God has equipped me every step of the way. I’m honored to call him my son and look forward to the day he too gets to revel in the blessing of being a parent.

Below is the note I reread today:

February 23, 2012 at 9:47am

Many of you know the very difficult year we had with Christopher last school year. This year he had the opportunity to earn his own netbook when he worked towards correcting some negative thinking and poor choices. This task has been a HUGE battle and I praise God for everything He has been at work on. From the beginning of the school year til now he (Riff) has done an average job, but has managed to stay out of the principal’s office and really own up to things in the proper way when he has a rough day.

 

This past week I’ve watched God really go to work on Riff. I was reflecting this morning as I prayed blessings and protection over the boys. I realized something big. Though Christopher’s been hard working towards a material reward which has helped us give him a reason to make some necessary changes, Nick and I have also had to make some changes. We’ve had to really be cautious of the example we’re leading for our kids. I’ve watched Nick take a more active role in implementing Biblical principals all the way down to the decor in his home. I feel like God has done a complete renovation on me, growing me tremendously. I’m realizing that while Christopher’s reward is exciting to him, our reward as parents has been priceless!

 

I’ve been praying the Prayer of Jabez along with praying 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (MSG) everyday and boy has God been answering that prayer everyday. Part of His answers have been laying it on my heart to implement certain traditions in our house to really make God a daily, living presence in the lives of the kids. In my effort to do this I make sure that when I have the kids we read before bed (1 chapter from a children’s classic book, 1 story from the Action Bible) and we pray together. On Sundays that I have the kids we do “Sunday Sundaes” we eat sundaes and record praise reports and prayer requests in a journal and pray together.

 

Yesterday, we implemented 1 additional element. I felt like every week flew by without any focused time on saying encouraging things and taking a time out to just enjoy one another. So, yesterday I started “Wednesday Check Ins”. We climbed on my bed together and cuddled in and took turns going around and giving 1 genuine compliment to each other. This is the compliment Christopher gave me, “Mom, I know I’ve been making some changes because I needed to make changes, but I know you’ve been making changes too. Some changes I like and some changes I don’t like, but I know the ones I don’t like are good for me so thank you”. ::sigh:: If my heart could sing aloud it would have been singing HALLELUJAH!

 

It’s taken almost a full school year to make the type of changes I had been praying for all along, but the thing that made the difference wasn’t just Christopher making changes, but those around him whom he looks up to making changes too. Don’t get me wrong, in the same 1 hour period he had a meltdown, but it wasn’t his meltdown that surprised me, it was my response. Instead of becoming completely frustrated and feeling like everything had just gone down the tube, I was calm, loving, and expectant that Christopher would soon see on his own what he needed to do. It took him a while to process, but totally figured it. He owned his choice, apologized, and actively worked to make it right.

 

God is sooooooo good! He is real, living, active, and present. I see Christopher transforming before my very eyes and I’m experiencing myself transform daily.I am excited to see the man Christopher grows into as I keep allowing God to work.Image

You Are Where You Are Because of the Choices You’ve Made

Yes, I am!

I’m a divorced, single, homeschooling mommy of 3. I teach piano after long days of cleaning, cooking, and teaching my kids. If that isn’t enough I am also an Independent Beauty Consultant who co-leads a small group on Saturday nights and helps in the 2nd/3rd grade choir class on Sundays. Geez…I guess I shouldn’t start any dating site profile with that opener, huh?

Typical week…

Saturdays are a blessing…it is the ONE day a week we can sleep in. The kids enjoy these days as I try to keep the day time open for whatever we decide we’d like to spend the day doing. Saturday nights are reserved for the Lord. We go to church and the kids graciously sit through what will be 1 of 2 or sometimes 3 services. They don’t complain much as they understand what is I am doing when I go up and co-lead a women’s small group each Saturday night. We stick around for campfire and the kids are happy enjoying smores and time with friends.

Sunday 6AM alarm goes off, snooze gets hit multiple times before I actually get up and get myself ready. 7AM kids get up and get ready. 8AMish we’re out the door for choir. 9AM-10:15AM I pour love out to little kids who may or may not want to be singing and doing choreographed moves on their Sunday morning, but I’m there anyway smiling and sharing the love of Jesus with them. 10:30AM I am running my kids to their appropriate rooms before I head into service to fill my cup back up so I am ready for the week to come. The rest of Sunday is spent with my kids unwinding or getting ready for the week to come. We end the night with Sunday Sundaes…a prayer routine that involves sweets, talking about where God is moving in our lives, and memory making.

Monday 6AM alarm goes off , snooze gets hit multiple times before I actually get up and get myself ready. I am praying and thanking God for another day and begging Him to give me all I need to get through the week. 7AMish kids are up and SLOWLY moving along. Homeschool starts at 8AM (well it’s supposed to). We dive in being flexible when needed and sometime around 12PM-1PM we’re finished. The rest of the day is spent taking care of things needing to be done, but filled with conversations that warm my heart…the same conversations that my kids will remember the rest of their lives.

Tuesdays follow the same morning routine except this day the kids are rushed off to the school campus where they can socialize with their peer group. I spend my morning working my MK business with phone calls and networking. The hour before I pick up the kids I make necessary phone calls and I arrive on campus at 2:45PM to pick up the kids and spend the rest of the day with them.

Wednesdays are particularly long days. Mornings start the same and include homeschooling. At 1:15PM I have the joy of teaching several piano students and when my teaching is finished for the day I quickly assemble dinner, throw on heels, load up my kids, and put on my smile because it’s time to work my Mary Kay business and pour into the lives of people around me. This week in particular I was blessed to have my son tell me, “Mom, I had a lot of fun tonight. I know you work hard and I enjoyed being with you”.

Thursday is another on campus day. This is the one day a week I can take a time out in the morning and spend a good chunk of time in quiet with just me and the Lord. I work my MK business and run whatever errands must get taken care of. 2PM I pick up the kids and head straight home as piano teaching begins promptly at 3PM and goes until 7:30PM. We’re blessed with the help of Miss Alexis on this day (seriously a major blessing). On Thursday nights when I’ve finished teaching piano, I spend an hour or so snuggling my babies before it’s bedtime. Bedtime is the same every night of the week…tucked in and prayed over…sometimes one at a time (with a back rub…some nights I’m blessed to be the recipient) and sometimes as a group.

By the time Friday rolls around I am praising God for getting us through the craziest parts of our weeks and praying for a productive school day that the kids enjoy. Today was certainly not a smooth homeschool day. I was completely on edge and very snappy. Our day went longer than most schooling days, but I was abundantly blessed and reminded why I choose to do life this way…Christopher looked up at me while we were finishing the last two subjects of the day and said, “Mom, I really enjoyed homeschooling today. I feel like I learned a lot and it was fun”. I was thinking to myself, “REALLY?! PRAISE GOD!

Yes, I may be a divorced, single, homeschooling mommy of 3, but I’m more than that…I inspire, encourage, boost confidence, and breathe belief into the lives of those around me. Most of my life is spent with my children and I wouldn’t change that. In the words of Amy Kemp, “I’m not raising my kids to survive the world, I’m raising them to change the world”. My days are full and though some months we barely make it, I’ve accomplished things that money will never buy.

I have 3 children who will indeed make a difference in this world. They might not become millionaires or ever be well known to the world, but they know what it means to store up treasures in heaven. They take out the trash (sometimes without having to be asked). They open doors for others (sometimes even fight over who is going to hold the door open). They carry out grocery bags and even take the cart back to the appropriate place. They stop to pray for people they notice in need. They tell me when I’ve handled something inappropriately and they also go out of their way to praise me when I’ve done something well. They know what it feels like to humble themselves and admit when they’ve done something wrong. They take responsibility for their actions. They know how to communicate and will stand up for themselves, but they’re also learning how to walk away when necessary even if it’s unfair.

Yes, I am where I am because of the choices I’ve made and for right now, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

God-sized Dreaming…Somebody’s Gotta do It!

No one else can fulfill your purpose. No one else can make that dream happen. There is no plan B for what God has destined to come into being through you…That means your God-sized dream either happens through you or not at all. – Holley Gerth

No pressure, right? Actually, it is pretty liberating! Imagine that…being so perfect for a particular purpose that it just wouldn’t be fulfilled without you. I’ve come to learn that when God wants me to pay attention to something he will layer it and tie it up in a bow so that I’m sure not to miss it. I got my bow tonight reading this quote. Here’s the layering that took place before the finishing touch…

August 7, 2013 Amy Kemp shared the following:

-Have a vision beyond your resources. Vision way beyond our resources is where God is His best.

-I’m not raising my kids to survive the world, I’m raising them to change the world.

-If you are a woman and you have been given the gift of leadership then for God’s sake, LEAD!

August 7, 2013 Journal entry while on the plane home

Psalm 22:31 God does what he says.

Lord I believe you’ve set clear visions for me – that you have laid plans on my heart for me to carry out with you. I believe you’ve given me everything I need to fulfill your plans for me. Father use me- here I am.

Psalm 23:1-3

God, my Shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your Word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

This trip was your precise planning- to refocus my vision; to plant me on firm ground; to grow my faith; to show me what it means to trust you, seek you, depend on you. Thank you for your provision. Lord, as I step out in faith please show me the people you want me to work with. Help me to make every single person I come in contact with feel special.

August 8, 2013-August 16, 2013 while in Honduras

I saw what putting action to a call looks like. Even if the call is to help just 1 person, the world can be changed 1 person at a time. I was able to see for my own eyes what it means to have vision way beyond resources and how God moves mountains because of unreserved obedience and unwavering faith.

Tonight at a leaders dessert

I had a moment in which I had to close my eyes and smile in contentment. God’s whisper was so clear, “my child, this is part of the vision. You are living my God-sized dream for you one piece at a time”.

God-sized dreams can be big or small. They come in spite of life’s challenges to prove God’s greatness. They exist because God wants to use us for his kingdom. God-sized dreams are one of a kind. They aren’t about “me”, they’re about purpose. God-sized dreams aren’t about mediocrity, they’re about passion. They’re not about convenience, they’re about persistence til the race is finished and the battle is won.

So my brothers and sisters, choose to live your God-sized dreams! Live them purposefully, passionately, and persistently. Nobody else can.