Friday, August 31, 2012

An Extra Part

I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured if the entire world was one big machine... I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. --Hugo Cabret, from the movie Hugo

An extra part.

Sometimes that's how I feel. Like I'm not sure exactly what my purpose is, or where my talents lie. It's easy for me to get sidetracked and start noticing other people's abilities and talents, and maybe even get a little jealous that they have a talent I wish I had. Like my nephew Gabe. He's an amazing piano player. He doesn't even have to have music sometimes. He has this ear for music that completely blows my mind, and a tiny part of me wants to have that ear for music, too. To be able to sit down like he does at the piano and just...play. It would be so delightful to be able to do that!

What I don't know about Gabe are the number of hours he spends practicing piano--daily. He has an extraordinary talent, but he also has to spend time sharpening his skills or his talent may go to waste. 

I believe that we were all given special talents and abilities. It's just that sometimes, those talents and abilities get covered up by the stress and struggles that life presents. And sometimes, when the talent or ability does get uncovered, we think that it's just not as good as someone else's. Ever been there?

None of us are extra parts. All of us are here for a reason, and when we come to an understanding of who we are to God, we start to discover who He made us to be, and the wall we've carefully constructed around us for protection can slowly be taken down. It's not an easy process, nor is it a quick transformation.

At first, I thought that discovering who I am in Christ was a definite and finite amount of time--you know, something that I could look to at a certain point in the future, where I would then stand on the other side of my proverbial "fence" and look back at the old me. While I can see a difference between the old me and the me I look at in the mirror now (and no, I'm not just speaking about age), I am also understanding that the transformation that is taking place in me will last my entire life. And that's ok, probably even a good thing, because it means I am always growing and changing, finding new things out about myself. 

As I grow and mature, I'm also discovering that the thick wall I built to protect myself was hiding some of my most valuable gifts and blessings, as well as what my purpose is. Now, I am praying for God to transform me into His likeness and show me what my purpose is...and I have faith that He will. As I grow in my faith and trust, I am asking Him to also transform those deep desires of my heart to reflect the person He made me to be, not the person I wish I was.

I may not find out my purpose right away, and that's ok. Pushing my own agenda doesn't work, and waiting aimlessly is a waste of time. Diving into the Word and asking for wisdom, grace and His will is where my transformation begins...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Midweek Confessions

The days are rolling by faster than I can keep up with. Here we are back at Wednesday again, and it's time for my Midweek Confessions...

*Now that the kids have started school, I'm sad because that means that the summer is winding down. When school starts, the laziness of summer that I enjoy turns into sports, homework, birthday parties, school events, and hours volunteering. I was really sad that my kids went back to school because I missed having them around during the day. That said, here's my confession: I so love having time to myself during the day! I feel a little guilty saying that, but it's the honest truth. And I haven't missed the arguments over whose toy someone is playing with, or who is getting the last of the Doritos (baked, of course...see below).

*I am a Food Nazi. There, I said it. Now the people who think this about me can rest assured that I do know this about myself. I understand that there are things about myself that could be improved...Somehow, I feel that I am doing those around me a huge favor (even if they didn't ask) by reminding them (sometimes it's just a disapproving look) how unhealthy certain foods are. And I feel like I am teaching my children amazingly healthy habits that they will carry throughout their entire lives by insisting that they choke down eat a vegetable with their dinner, which doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Of course, what I don't know about are the gallons of Coke they drink or the pounds of store-bought pizza and candy {gasp} they eat when at other peoples houses.

*This week, when I got home from the grocery store, I tried to multi-task by putting away my groceries while I ate my lunch. Have I mentioned that I do not multi-task well? I got an apple out, washed it off, and set it on the counter next to some frozen foods that needed to go into the freezer in the garage. When I got back inside, I picked up my apple to take a bite and discovered a mystery bite had already been taken out of it. I admit, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I had purchased an apple that already had a bite taken out of it because I had absolutely zero recollection of taking any bite out of that apple. Here's the true confession: I still don't remember taking the bite. Scary.

*Last but not least...I am still scared of the dark. I went down the basement (have you ever noticed that normal basements get really creepy at night?) to make sure the door was closed the other night. Everyone else was asleep, the house was dark and silent, and faster than you can say creepy I high-tailed up the steps two at a time like you have never seen...and then locked the door, just in case the creepy-ness leaked out.

What's your week been like?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Firm Place to Stand

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 

Trust.

It's always been a bit of an issue between me and God. It's not that I don't trust Him. I just don't trust Him fully. I kinda feel like I need a little bit of a back-up plan--you know...just in case He doesn't work out.

The better I'm getting to know Him, the more I see that I don't need a Plan B. And my Head believes that. It's even advice I would give to anyone else: Forget your Plan B and go with God. But my Heart is a little slower in believing that He is all He says He is, especially when I think that He really should show a little extra support in a certain area of my life or I feel like He hasn't come through for me. My Heart says "I don't get it. I thought I could trust Him, and here He has let me down." It's disappointing, and my initial reaction is to write Him off like I feel like He has done to me.

I've had a rough week. It's been very emotional for me, and at times I felt very uneasy (ok, scared) about where my emotions were heading. I always have that reaction, even when I cry over something, because of my past struggles with anxiety and depression. I don't ever, ever want to go there again. So when I feel like I'm really struggling over something, I feel like I am on High Alert. So this past week. Was it hormones? Or my own very emotional make-up? Or was it the situation? Or, perhaps, was it due to the fact that I'm a girl? Or maybe a really nice emotional combo of all four...that I'm an emotional girl with hormones processing a difficult (to me) situation (oh, if this is the case, then my poor, poor husband...). In any event, I felt myself going numb. I didn't feel anything, didn't want to feel anything, and I was so distressed over feeling distressed and anxious that my memory was gone (the proof of that is that when I got home from the grocery store yesterday I discovered that I had bought 2 milks, which I don't normally do. So, not believing I could possibly buy 2 milks and not actually remember putting them into my basket, I checked my receipt, and sure enough, there was the second milk. I just stood there for a second shaking my head. Unbelievable.).

As I began processing this numb feeling, I started feeling so angry at God. I began questioning Him. How could He bring me up out of a depression just 8 months ago only to let me slide back? How could He let me down like this? Then, after a bunch of yelling and angry words, and yes, even a few of the four-letter variety (only in my head, of course. I was taught that Southern Ladies absolutely do not curse, but it really did make me feel better for a moment), I let my "Plan B" thoughts come into play. For just a few minutes, thoughts of anti-depressants and doctors rolled around in my head, but for me (and I'm only speaking about what's right for me right here), I know that is not what is right for me. God brought me up out of my depression and off my medications after much prayer, so my Head knows I can trust Him. Why, after only a few days of hardship, was I ready to abandon ship and go back? I think because my Heart isn't quite there yet.

My friend Jennifer mentioned Psalm 103 as a help for sadness and depression, so this morning I decided it was high time I got my behind in gear and read it (just as an aside, I can't read this Psalm without hearing the song "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman. We sing it all the time in church, and it's a great way to remember some Scripture without really having to memorize it).  And what I found was a reminder to:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s
 
From there, I moved to Psalm 40, which is a great reminder to wait on Him:
 
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.

 
What did I learn? That He hasn't let me down, that He didn't turn His face away from my distress...not even when I was yelling angry explicit deletes at Him. He "heard my cry, He lifted me out of the slimy pit [of depression, numbness, and anxiety], He set me feel on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."
 
My Head and my Heart may not be on the same page yet, but I know that I have a choice to make. When I'm having a week like the one I just had, do I choose to trust God, even when I don't feel like it, or do I choose my own Plan B (which generally doesn't work out as well as I think it should)? As hard as it is sometimes, I'm choosing to believe His Word over mine. I'm "waiting patiently for the Lord", because I need a firm place to stand.
 
 

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Complicated

Beth Moore asked a group of us (okay, it was me and my friend plus 70,000 of our closest friends in Atlanta, GA) if we had ever had a complicated relationship with someone, but that person had no idea that your relationship was described by you as complicated?

Um, yes, thank you.

I would describe my relationship with my own father as complicated, but I'm not so sure he would say the same. I suppose that I ascribe the term "complicated" to our relationship because my feelings toward him are so complicated. He is a great man, with faults of his own (but don't we all have faults?), in need of grace just like me. But I have a hard time accepting him for who he is. I want him to be the dad I have in mind, so I have great expectations for him. And guess what? He fails my expectations every time.  It's not his fault, really. It's my own fault for expecting so much out of a single human being. Could he be a better dad? Well, I say quite often there is always room for improvment, but the same could be said for my parenting skills, too.

Unfortunately, the hospital didn't hand me a parenting handbook when my kids were born, and they didn't hand one to my dad, either.

A sweet moment with my dad on my wedding day :)


But sometimes the way we view our flesh-and-blood father is how we form our view of our Heavenly Father, and because we start comparing human versus the divine, it's just not accurate.

The way I view my Heavenly Father has been shaped by what the younger me learned in church and Sunday School, and has also been influenced by my dad. I began to see God as an angry, demanding "Father" (I grew up Southern Baptisit--can anyone else relate??) who was distant enough to not be very interested in my day-to-day, but was involved enough to be watching and waiting to strike me down with lightening when I screwed up. Which was (sigh...still is) very often. The God I had formed in my head was big, domineering, punishing, severe, distant, uncaring, and scary. So, I solved the problem by dismissing Him and going about things my own way. Which worked for about 2.5 minutes, and then I found out my own way didn't work very well (deep sigh...still doesn't).

Through going to bible studies and really just reading the Bible, I slowly (emphasis on S-L-O-W-L-Y) began waking up and understanding that my view of who God is was very warped--and it has nothing to do with my daddy, either. My issues with him are completely separate and he doesn't define who God is or should be. The only thing that can do that is God's Word, which is the source of truth.

So who is God to me? Well...

He is my Comforter (3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4).

He is my Healer (See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. Deuteronomy 32:39).

He is full of mercy (But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. Nehemiah 9:31).

He will never leave me (Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9).

He is full of compassion (And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness...Exodus 34:6).

He is forgiving (Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Acts 13:38).

I know now that I can trust God, which is one of the biggest issues I have, but over and over again He is proving Himself to be trustworthy in my life. I love that about Him, for He is willing to do what it takes, and walk beside me even when I turn my back on Him.

So my dad doesn't live up to every expectation I have of him. I'm sure that I, as his daughter, don't live up to every expectation he has of me. This doesn't mean we can stop trying to build a relationship. It means we accept each other, faults and all. Sometimes I get angry, I feel sad, and I don't want to. Sometimes I want to lash out, but in my more sane moments I know that lashing out will only tear down the relationship that we have. So, after I try my own way which, sadly, still doesn't work, I turn to my Heavenly Father (finally) and give Him the pieces. I know I can trust Him.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Truely Me

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

This is the Psalm I came across yesterday morning as I was doing my morning devotion. It gave me reason to pause and contemplate. I know what my desires of the moment are: maybe different decor in the living room, some new white so chic {wink} cargo sweatpants to replace the ones I ruined in the dryer (see I Can't post here ), or a cleaner house. But the desires of my heart? I don't really even know what those are. That goes a little deeper than just asking myself "What do I want?". Figuring out the desires of my heart means I actually need to know myself a little better than I do.

Maybe we all go through this "I don't know who I really am" stage. I think I've taken it even further, because I don't know who I really want to be, and I don't even really know what I want. Somehow, when I was younger, I had it in my head that all I wanted was a nice house, a husband, kids, a nice car...tangible evidence of a successful life. But is that enough? I never imagined in my younger years that I would struggle with depression, anxiety or insecurity like I have. And I never considered  peace or joy as something that would be valuable in my life.

Now, as I evaluate my life, I see that although a place to lay my head at night, a husband, kids and a nice car really are good and pleasurable things to have, those things haven't provided me with a sense of who I am. I am figuring out that God is the One who made me, so He is the One who ultimately knows who I am. As I'm trying to make sense of it all, new questions keep popping in my head: What am I passionate about? What is my purpose? What are the truest desires of my heart?

Believe me, I don't have all the answers...yet {ha! and double ha! When do we ever have all the answers??). But I do know that the first step to figuring out who I am and what the desires of my heart are is to go to Him. Ask Him. Take the time to read Scripture, pray, and get to know Him. And in the process, I'll be transformed into His likeness, and the true me will have a chance to emerge as the outside facade I've built to cover my insecurities crumbles away.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Midweek Confessions

Once again, I'm linking up with E over at E, Myself & I for midweek confessions. Wait a minute...has it already been a week since my last midweek confession? Time is flying!  Here they are--my confessions for the week. PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who deals with the first one...

*When I get anxious or nervous, I have the annoying habit of sweating. Especially in the underarm area. Especially when I am wearing clothing (such as the cute green short sleeve collared shirt I wore last week) that shows the tiniest droplet of water. I think it's because I know if I do sweat, the shirt will show it, and that makes me nervous, and therefore I sweat. Does that mess even make sense?? I've even considered getting my underarms botoxed! (As an aside, the only reason I didn't was because insurance would pay for the Botox--at a cool twelve HUNDRED dollars a VIAL before they paid--but they wouldn't pay for the procedure, which was $390 PER ARM. Ridic.)  So, anyway, I did a video testemonial for my church about women's bible study last week (another aside, if you aren't connected at your church, try a bible study. Or come to mine!!!!). I wore the aforementioned green shirt, which looked cute--until I started to get nervous. I could feel it coming on, and had no power to stop the forces that lie within. In a mere matter of seconds, my underarms were sweating and I knew that if I lifted my arms at all, my secret would be revealed. So I kept my arms tight against my body. What does this do, you may ask? MAKE THE SWEAT WORSE! It didn't help matters any when, as we were leaving, I said, "Wooo, I was a little nervous", and proceded to lift my arm up so my daughter could see my shirt. "Is it bad?" I innocently ask, at which point (much to my dismay), she gives this look like "Is the Pope Catholic????" and says "Ewww...uh, YEAH".  Thanks, dearest.

*I really don't like cleaning the bathrooms (as in, I hate cleaning the bathrooms). Therefore, I tend to put that offensive chore off as long as possible. That said, I have not {gulp} cleaned my bathrooms in FOUR WEEKS! Four weeks!! You can only imagine my consternation upon encountering my son's neglected latrine...

*I accidently-on-purpose washed a twisty straw of my daughters in the dishwasher. Did I know it wasn't dishwasher safe? Yes. Did I wash it in the dishwasher anyway. Yup. I honestly didn't think anything would happen to it, so when it came out a little...distorted, I knew she'd be a little miffed. So, I did what all good mothers do when they want to get rid of something of their child's but absolutely do not want that child to know. I dug all the way to the bottom of the trash can where no evidence would be discovered, dropped it in, and promptly took the trash out.

*I allowed my own negativity to put me in a foul mood on Monday. However, it's a new day, and time for a new perspective!

What's your week been like?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Can

OK, so I had a frustrating weekend. Now it's a new day and I can recover a bit from all those negative feelings I wrote about yesterday in "I Can't".  A reader left a post about how she is reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer (thank you Catherine!!), and it made me stop and consider how most of the battles that I face are totally in my mind. So in that case, why do I make life so hard on myself? I know it's not as easy as just saying one day "I am now officially a more positive person" and expecting everything to be different from that day forward. It takes a great deal of effort to turn your thinking around. However, there has to be a starting point, right? That starting point could be the day you officially say "Today I will be a more positive person". Try it. Think one positive thought. Then think two, then three, then four, and so on...

Because you can, with Him (I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13).

2 Corinthians 12:9 says that His grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in our weakness. Well, seeing the weakness in myself isn't hard to do, but to think His power is made perfect in my weakness? Yes. That means that even though I feel like I can't, I actually can...

Here's a list of 11 things that I know I can do...(and feel free to add to the list with your own I can statements!!)

1.  I can meditate on Scripture throughout the day (a good one to start would be Philippians 4:13!).

2.  I can think positive thoughts (I may not want to or feel like it, but I can do it).

3.  I can spend time with God daily getting to know Him better so that I can trust Him better.

4.  I can choose to allow God to change me (and trust that it will be a change for the better).

5.  I can accept me for who I am--a beloved child of God.

6.  I can choose to react in a way that is mature, centered, and Christ-like, instead of allowing my emotions to take control (in other words, instead of flying off the handle).

7.  I can choose to love myself.

8.  I can make positive choices.

9.  I can look to Him for my confidence and security.

10. I can make the choice to follow Him everyday, no matter how difficult it may seem.

11. I can do my best (and forget the rest).
Update: I heard this on The Message: Do your best, and let God do the rest :)

What can YOU do?

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Can't

Several things have happened lately that have sent my confidence spiraling downward, and I have felt powerless to stop it. It's almost like my mind has turned against me, allowing negative thoughts to flow in uninterrupted (and welcomed, unfortunately. It seems that once I find that negative comfort zone again, it's very hard to get out of. Negative thoughts are, well, negative, but when that's been the habit for so long...you know what they say--old habits die hard.). It's left me feeling inadequate, and even worse, incompetent.

The first situation that happened the other day (see Hope post here) left me feeling hurt and questioning my abilities. Today, another situation involving different people reinforced how I was feeling. Then, throughout the day, I made small mistakes that to me just pointed back to the same ole, same ole: an incompetent woman. The final straw was when I happened by the laundry room and realized that I had forgotten about some laundry I had stuck in the dryer to get the wrinkles out before I hung them to dry completely. Frustrated with myself for forgetting (I do this to try to prevent shrinkage from the dryer, but obviously by the time I discovered that I had forgotten them, that ship had sailed). When I pulled the first shirt out, a balled up piece of gum wrapper came with it. Great, I thought, black gum with my white load. Nothing looked like it had been ruined--yet--until I pulled out my favorite white cargo sweat pants (that I've only worn twice). Realize, now, that these aren't simply sweat pants. They are some chic sweatpants (oh, yes, they are...dapper, even, if I say so myself) and I love them. And what did they have all over them?? You probably guessed by now. Black. Gum. All. Over.

THIS was the breaking point for me. The negativity washed all over me as the thoughts poured in, and this time, I didn't even fight them. I can't even do this right. I can't do this...I can't do that...I can't remember things...I can't please people...

I CAN'T.

This thought dominated all my other thoughts. "I can't" thoughts are debilitating, I've come to find out. Plus, they totally put one in a foul mood.

My daughter wanted to make pasta for her lunch tomorrow. Seeing as how she is perfectly capable of doing so herself, I let her do that while I cleaned up the kitchen. I was "fine" (I say "fine" because I was not actually fine, but was acting like I was perfectly fine) until she dumped the entire box of pasta into a too-small pot, and then asked if I wanted her to make the whole box. Um, clearly the entire box doesn't fit into the too-small pot! My actions and tone of voice were in glaring contrast to my words, and at that point I knew: my negativity had gone too far.

Sometimes, I don't know what to do in situations like this. I don't always feel like reading my Bible, even though I know the answer to my problems are all there. I don't always feel like praying, either, and frankly, I don't always want to even feel better. Sometimes I like staying in the pit of negativity and self-doubt, because it's comfortable, it's safe, and I don't have to put any effort into it.

As much as I (sometimes) like just wallowing in my own pit, I know that's not where God would want me to be. He has offered me His hope (Proverbs 23:18), but I have to reach out and take hold of it. Especially when I am in the pit of self-pity and defeat.

I have to recognize when that hope is being offered to me when He offers it. And it's not always in the form that I expect it in.

I heard a song on the radio tonight that caught my attention. They were talking about the "voice of truth" (hear it here).  It got me thinking: there is only one voice of truth, and it's not the voice inside my own head. It's Him. When I compare my so-called "truths" (those would be what I call myself or think about myself when I've done something like get black gum all over my white chic pants) to His truths, they don't match up. And I know that because He is who He is, His truth triumphs over my own. Good thing, too, because my "truths" are no fun to live with. You think that song came on the radio and caught my attention by coincidence? Hardly, although I'm sure some would like to argue the point. He has proven to me once again that even when I walk away from Him, He is ever by my side.




Sunday, August 19, 2012

True Radiance

In lieu of a post today, I am sharing part of Psalm 34. I read it this morning, and it impacted me in a way I can't explain. I hope the same for you :)

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hope

Not long ago, I was offered some constructive feedback on a particular subject. The comments were not made maliciously, but even so, I (predictably) took them as such and became defensive. Even though at other times, praises have been offered to me, and I've accepted them, none of that mattered as I was hearing what, to me, was a criticism. It uncovered some of those deep down fears about myself that I've tried for a long time to keep hidden, for fear that what I thought about myself was actually true: that I am unaccomplished, unmotivated, and unable. (Note: this is not actually what was said at all. It is simply what I heard. BIG difference.)

Ouch.

Was I angry? Yes. Sad? Yes. Did I feel the tiniest bit sorry for myself? Um, I'd be lying if I said I didn't.

Honestly, my confidence took quite a hit as I was listening to what the other person had to say. Anxiety started churning up inside, and I began to question myself. I knew in my heart that while this person had some very good, valid points, it was, after all, simply an opinion. I didn't have to allow this opinion to define me. But I did. This person's opinion is profoundly important to me and I didn't want them to feel let down. And I certainly didn't want them to see me in any sort of negative light. Like, at all.

When life happens, all the other devices that I've put my security in (like beauty, performance, success, possessions) simply can't step up to the plate to make me feel better. What does beauty have to say when I feel like I've let someone else down? Nada. What sort of advice to my possessions give when I feel I've disappointed someone? None. The only "device" that I have left that I have any hope of filling that security void is God.

Hope.

That's what God offers. Hope. Hope that even though I have not done everything I should have, I still have His grace. Hope that even though life today looks a little more gray than it did yesterday, that He offers a bright tomorrow. Hope that even when I receive constructive feedback like I did the other day, that I can take it to Him in prayer and filter it through His opinion of me. I have confidence that He will help me work on the things that need work (because let's face it--we all have areas that need work), as well as fill me with the security I need so that criticism doesn't seem so harsh, and I can actually take the feedback and use it constructively. There is no need to wallow in pity and despair, wondering if what the other person said is true or not. God's opinion is the one that ultimately matters.  When healthy boundaries are set, feedback can be one of the greatest gifts I receive, because I can use it to my advantage. It's a tool that I can use to better myself. But first, it's important to know where I stand with God, and the only way I will discover this is to 1) read His Word and 2) have an open dialogue with Him (read: PRAYER).

So, I have to admit that my reactions to things like this aren't always the healthiest. First, I have the tendency of getting grievously offended, then angry, then hurt. After that comes the good cry, the feeling sorry for myself, the cold-ish shoulder toward the other person (you know, when you'll talk to them but it's very clear there is an issue at hand), and then finally the realization that a) the sky has yet to fall on my head and b) the other person involved needs some grace, too. Finally comes the sheepish "I'm sorry for the way I reacted when you told me _________", and the hug.

I've gotta go get my hug <3 p="p">

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Midweek Confession

Thanks to linking up with E, Myself &I, who started Midweek Confessions (check out her blog at emyselfandi.com), it's Wednesday again, which means time for my own Midweek Confessions...

*I was so mad at my daughter the other day (see the post on Anger Management) that the only thing I could sputter was "YOU! are on notice."

*I love to workout, so I got the Insanity workout thinking it would be a great thing. Turns out, I do not enjoy working out as much as I thought I did, and I find Shaun T. to be suspiciously fit--as in, maybe he's not really human...

*We need a new refrigerator. We do not want to have to buy a new refrigerator, and therefore keep putting said new purchase off. I finally marched myself into Ferguson today to look. Do not go to Ferguson. They have such awesome stuff you will instantly be convinced you need all new appliances. Suddenly, the fridge I had in mind to buy that was at one time a perfectly reasonable, very nice refrigerator was somehow tainted by the super-refrigerator (an awesome built-in Sub-Zero). Now here's the real confession: for just a few short blissfull moments, I actually was delusional enough to think that maybe we could swing the $7500 price tag...and even though I know it's really not an option, I'm still gonna show my husband the pictures I took in the store (yes, I actually took pictures of the fridge in the store. I will not include the new pictures here, even though it crossed my mind. No judgement please.).

*I'm having curious thoughts (this really shows my insecurity), questioning whether some of our friends really like hanging out with us or not. So much so that I had to call my sister and ask her if she thought we were cool people to hang out with. There are no words. At least she's my sister and she understands!

Tell me what's happening with you!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just Breathe

As I was outside talking to my friend Mike today, the subject of time came up. I had mentioned to him that my daughter's birthday was coming up, and even as I write this I am in awe of how quickly time passes. We both felt the same way--the older you get, the more quickly it seems like the years fly by.

As I look back at the past couple of decades ( I CANNOT even believe that I am old enough to say "the past couple of decades" and still be talking about myself!!), I wonder if the girl that used to be me really enjoyed the life that was given to her. The girl that I am now is focused on totally different things than the girl that used to be me was. I used to be so concerned about what other people thought of me that I would protect my "image" at any cost. I used to not be able to bear the thought that people might think negatively of me, my family, or my home. I used to be so insecure that I couldn't (or wouldn't, depends on your perspective) allow the "real me" to emerge, proud and free. I used to be so rigid and uptight that even the smallest change in schedule would cause a meltdown. I used to, I used to, I used to...

I used to do a lot of things differently. Then I met Jesus. I don't mean I went to church one day and had this miraculous, tent revival-type rebirth where I repented of my old life and was suddenly a changed person. I mean, I discovered the meaning of one little word--relationship. Where my eyes were opened and I realized that going to church was a monotonous habit without knowing the One I was going to church to learn about. Where His merciful love was lavished on me when I didn't deserve it and His grace was showered on me. Where I discovered the difference between walking dead and being alive in Him.

As I look forward to the next couple of decades (at least I'm still young enough to say that I have at least several more decades to look forward to!), I feel like I can finally breathe. Don't you just want to say that? Just...breathe. Take in life. Live in the present, without worrying so much about what other people think or what the future may or may not hold. I finally have Someone who is strong enough to take my junk on His strong shoulders (“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12), who loves me unconditionally("Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever" Psalm 136:2), and who will never leave me (...God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” Hebrews 13:5).

I know those are some pretty bold promises, and sometimes it's really hard to believe that what the Bible claims is true. But, as time goes on, I appreciate more and more the promises in God's Word. Why? Because, like many, I can look on the past and see many different areas where I put my confidence and security: in other people, in material possessions, in appearance, in money, in acceptance, in intelligence...even in church (as in, church was my ticket to heaven). But every single one of those things let me down in one way or another, because those things were never intended for me to idolize.

This moment, this day...this is life--the good, the bad, the ugly. Embrace it. Breathe it in. Enjoy it. Be free. Allow His love to permeate some of those defensive walls that cover up past hurts. Release bitterness and unforgiveness. Give way to the perfect, redeeming love that is knocking on your door.

Just...breathe.

Google images

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Healing Love

I was watching Americas Next Top Model (yes, I know, probably not the most
edifying of television programming) the other night, and in one of the
challenges, the girls were asked to think of a word that has been used in the
past to bully them or that has hurt them, and then think of the opposite of that
word. Then they wrote the words on their bodies and posed. 


Some of the girls and the words that were used to hurt them as graffiti on their body. Disclaimer: I am not promoting this is the way to deal with hurtful words, nor am I suggesting that these pictures are  representative of the way women should look.

I can think of words that have been used in the past that have not only hurt me
immensely, but that have also caused shame and embarrassment, then and even now as I mentally picture the individual situations. The impact of those words was, I'm sure, more than the person ever intended, but I feel like I took their words as the truth and held onto them, causing significant damage to my sense of self-worth. I felt I needed to change these things about myself in order to be accepted.

I've said many times that my main sense of significance is found in trying to be
thin and beautiful, so affirmation of beauty brought me circumstantial joy, while anything negative was like a punch to the stomach, in addition to causing powerful blows to my sense of security and my confidence.

People always commented on my height (I'm not tall now, was just tall in elementary school and early middle school) when I was growing up, making comments about how "big" I was. I've somehow never gotten over feeling "big".  There were many times when my own mother would make comments about my face, like my jaw was too square and my forehead too low, and that I didn't look good with my hair pulled straight back from my face.  I always wished I had a fine, narrow jaw-line and pretty round forehead so I wouldn't have to wear bangs all the time. To this day, I will not wear my hair pulled back from my face! I don't know why we feel the need or the right to make comments about our children's size, shape, color...I know women whose mothers made comments about wide hips, big feet, heavy thighs, or having a small chest. And I hear people make comments about my own daughter's height, the size of her feet, and the gap between her teeth. I wish people could understand that although these comments aren't made maliciously, they DO have an affect on a growing girls self-esteem.

Then, of course, there was school, the place where you learn the most about how mean people can be, especially if you've had a fairly healthy home life. People teased me all the time about being fair-skinned, calling me Caspar and
suggesting I get outside a little bit. Then, in sixth grade, a boy called me UGLY. I felt like I had the scarlet letter on my chest for all to see. I still remember where in was standing. I felt stunned when I heard that. I'd been called names before, but no one had ever called me ugly. I remember feeling so ashamed that I didn't even tell my mom. I took it to heart, wondering if that's what everyone thought--that I was ugly. That's a painful memory, even now, and I can look back and see where that one comment crept it's way into my soul and rotted there, tainting my thoughts and my actions with it's poison. In eighth grade, my doctor diagnosed me with Attention Deficit Disorder (another source of shame and embarrassment, as I felt stupid and flaky, and it's one I've carried with me all of my adult life
). Enough people had questioned my abilities in the "smart" department, in addition to asking things such as wondering if there was air between my ears or if my hair was truly blond, that when that same year my gym teacher started calling me Dizzy Duncan (my maiden name is Duncan), I just laughed right along with everyone else and held back the tears that threatened to show.

Flash-forward to 2012, and you see a wife and mother who is trying to leave the
past in the past--but the past keeps knocking at my door in the form of
insecurity and fear. Maybe I could take a lesson from Tyra Banks and acknowledge the pain of those words. But here is where I will take it a step further. I believe that with every memory like the ones I've described here, I'm holding onto physiological stress, which could manifest itself as fear, anger, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and then like. With every memory that I have, acknowledging the pain, and then taking the pain to God, asking Him to heal the destructive memory and the pain, is the way I'm choosing to deal with those destructive memories. Then I can finally, truly, leave the past where it belongs--in the past. I can definitely look back and learn from my past, but I do not have to allow it to continue to define me. I'm asking Him to fill me with His healing love.


A gap between your teeth? A strong jaw or low forehead? Who cares? It's what makes us special and unique.





Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Day Away...

“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 

― Maya Angelou, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now

It's that time again--time for me to take a few days away from the computer and spend some time with my family. I hope everyone has a great week, and I'll meet you back here next Sunday :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Anger Management

Me: Girls, come on up for dinner!

Anna: What's for dinner?

Me: Chicken, with mushrooms, and tomatoes. Come on up!

Anna: {Sigh} We are NOT {huff} eating CHICKEN with mushrooms and tomatoes!!

Me: {Frustrated sigh. Mouth Tightening. Prayer under my breath: Please Lord, help me deal with this situation with grace.} You still need to come upstairs.

At this point, I'm trying to learn how to not make a big deal over little things, because usually it turns into a battle of the wills and then no one is willing to budge. If Anna and her friend didn't want what I prepared for dinner, fine. But I wasn't going to make something else, either. We had somewhere to be and I didn't have time to be a short-order cook. Plus, I don't do that when we don't have friends over, so I wasn't going to make an exception on this night.

I continued with dinner preparation, making salads and preparing plates for the rest of the family. I called everyone up and asked them to sit down.

Anna: Why? We're NOT eating that.

Me: {nose flaring} Because I asked you to (I swore I'd never say that, too).

We sat down together, the girls silent except for one-word answers to my questions. I could feel my frustration rising with every minute that went by. She sure does know how to push my buttons. And I don't always feel like being nice.

5 minutes before we need to leave:

Anna: We're hungry. Can we have something to eat?

Me: Sure. Would you like some chicken?

Anna: {scoffs} No.

We loaded up the car and got in. Once we got settled, it was discovered that my daughter had snuck some granola bars in the car with plans to eat them when we got to the field. It wasn't the fact that she had a major attitude about dinner. I was ready to forgive that, even though it made me angry. The final straw was that she was so willing to be sneaky, which in my head equals dishonesty.

All of these dramatic thoughts started running through my head: what's next? Sneaking out of the house? What will she be like when she's a teenager? I can't believe she is so willing to be sneaky. And she willingly lead her friend to be sneaky along with her--in my house, too! I was caught somewhere between a scream and the death silence (death silence is silence so deadly that all you have to do is look at the  targeted person and they will know how mad you are. Except that because you are silent, they have no clue just how mad you actually are. However, the fact that your nose flares, your mouth tightens to a straight line, and brows furrow to become the dreaded unibrow should clue them in.).

Angry face. Note the unibrow, flared nostrils and mouth in a tight line. The unsightly and untimely wrinkles??


I was quickly coming unglued.

I needed to pray, and I needed a fast response, or I would react in a way that I would regret later. My prayer was short, because I couldn't think of anything else to say: Lord, help me deal with my anger, or it's gonna be bad.

Proverbs 29:22 says "A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression."  I don't think that the actual emotion of anger is wrong or bad at all, but how I use it can be. When I become angry, it seems like all other logical thinking goes by the wayside and the only thing I can think is: Mad. That's what I am. Mad.

Proverbs 14:29 says "Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly." I know I react too hastily in certain situations (usually it's a situation where I feel like I am losing control of the circumstances). I need to remember that "Good sense makes one slow to anger..." (Proverbs 19:11), and God gave me "love, power and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7). I just need to learn how to use the self-control He's given me.

One of the most important parts of my relationship with Him is that He is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Psalm 145:8). While I feel justified when I am angry, it is helpful to remember that He is slow to anger with me. Maybe the people in my life deserve the same grace and mercy that has been extended to me.

On this night in particular, God was gracious yet again. He did help me with the anger I was feeling. I held my tongue and didn't slam any car doors or stomp around as I am prone to do. Instead, I tried to stay calm on the outside. It was really hard to do, but now that the situation is over and I can see things a little more clearly, it was the right thing to do. I didn't do anything I regret (besides the whole tightening up my lips to virtually nothing. Creates untimely and unsightly wrinkles around the mouth.). Now that I am calm, I can ask God to help me talk to Anna so that she understands what she did that made me so mad in the first place so that we can avoid situations like this in the future. Will she change right away? Probably not. But I don't always immediately change my behavior, either. We are both a work in progress.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Midweek Confession

I have decided to lighten things up around here:) I am following the cue of fellow blogger Elizabeth over at E, Myself & I and making my own "Midweek Confessions" on Wednesdays. Read if you'd like to, or share your own silly "confession". Either way, I hope you get a laugh at my expense and can agree with me that life doesn't have to be so serious all the time. There is a time for fun...and I've named it Wednesday :) So, here are few confessions from this week...
  • I am an in-the-closet Justin Bieber fan. I may nor may not know all of the words to his song "Baby", and I may or may not have sung all of them (happily) in the car on the way home. I also may or may not (really) love like his latest: "As Long As You Love Me".
  • My daughter has this annoying "tween" habit of huffing and rolling her eyes at me when she's around her friends (and sometimes when she's not). I admit that it is also my habit to huff about and roll my eyes when things aren't going my way. Apparently, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
  • I have gotten back into God's Word by starting to read the book of Psalms, one Psalm a day. It's taking me awhile, as I often read, don't get it, read again, don't remember what I just read, then read again. And most of the time I still don't remember what I read. But here's what stuck out to me this week:
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16:6)


  • I am a serial painter, meaning I change my mind daily about paint colors for my house. All it takes is seeing one single episode of "Sarah's House" on HGTV for me to totally wish my paint colors were different (see Great Idea post here). Currently, I am into grey. Grey walls, grey striped rug, marble floors...GREY.


  • I have a very hard time throwing stuff away, as evidenced below (I didn't used to have this problem). Why do I still have a 13" tube TV in the age of plasma?? I finally did something about it this week. No, I haven't gone so far as to actually give this stuff away! I've just moved it to a new location and labeled it "Give Away". Baby steps.

I really need to do something about this. It's too much. When I will ever use some of the stuff I have saved in the name of thriftiness...

My mother saved everything. Maybe I inherited her "save-this-in-case-you-need-it-in-ten-years" gene.