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Showing posts from February, 2012

February

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I can honestly tell you that I've experienced more heartbreak, disappointment, and trauma in the past month than I have in a long time. But when I stop to reflect on this, my favorite month of the year, I would rather note all of the things that made this a truly great month.

I kicked off February and my birthday celebration with a trip to California. Everyone kept asking what I was going for. Me. I found a cheap flight, had wonderful friends who graciously let me be their guest, and I spent 5 days enjoying time away to shop, sight-see, and enjoy the beautiful weather and sights of Pasadena and LA.


For those of you bugging me about my recent weight loss, I ate like a pig in California! Mostly fresh foods but also indulging in gourmet cupcakes and splurging on my favorite, See's Candies. Truffles of course. It was a wonderful vacation. A time to think, process, pray, enjoy the outdoors, engage in conversation with a dear friend and mentor, and just relax.


I have had some new …

What have I learned?

February is my favorite month. I have a running blog saved to document all the things I did over the past month-long birthday celebration. But February 2012 has probably also been one of the most tumultuous times in my life on a spiritual and emotional level.

What happened? I had to get to a place of absolute brokenness, complete desparation and desolation, to be 100% abandoned and alone, broken-hearted and crushed in spirit, so that I might soley and only look to God for healing. A life lesson I don't want to have to repeat!

As I close out this month and reflect on all that's happened - mostly internally - I am still reeling from the emotional roller coaster that has jolted me back and forth. I'm still trying to get my bearings and gain my balance, not quite sure if I'm ready to rise and walk. This purging process seems to have only just begun, especially when trying to peel back layers and layers of damage, scars and baggage.

God has had to take me through a proces…

24:29

Happy Leap Day/Leap Year! It's February 29th and it only comes every 4 years.

Today my favorite radio station posed the question: If you were given a gift card of 24 hours to spend however you choose, no strings attached, what would you do?

It's a valid question. On this day, the 29th of February, with 366 days in this year, we've been given a "free day." It's a gift of 24 extra hours, which doesn't sound like a lot compared to the 8,760 hours in a year that we normally get. But it's a chance to stop and think: what are you going to do today with your "free" day?

If we're to make the most of each day we're given, then today is nothing different. The fact that you woke up and took a breath (or yawn) is proof positive that God has something for you to do. And on this extra day of the year, I'm challenging us all to ask ourselves "how can we spend this day differently?"

I realize it's in the middle of the week and many…

Curse God...

Hold on. Before I lose my audience, you should know me better than to think my feelings reflect the title of this post. I suppose I could have more appropriately entitled it "Why God?" or "Why me, God?" but that wouldn't have gotten your attention as much, now would it have?!

So today's post is in honor of a dear friend and someone I will always hold closely in my heart. And someone who has recently felt, based on certain circumstances being faced, as if God has turned His back. Searching for answers, looking for signs, not able to even face the day at times. And I've watched life taking a toll. There's a card inscribed with scriptures that I had already prepared yesterday to put in the mail to my friend. It kindof seems foolish that I'd be sending a bunch of verses to someone who, right now, doesn't even want to talk to God, let alone hear His word.

I am mindful that at any stretch of this journey, I could have reached the point where my o…

Be Still

Daily I struggle. I have to use every amount of strength and prayer to battle the innate desire I have to act. I can't just sit idle. I don't seem to have a "neutral" mode. Whether it's a problem, project, conversation, or any number of scenarios, I possess the personality that wants to jump in, do, move, help, assist, lead, coordinate, respond, react.


There it is. Many of life's circumstances have provided conditioning that cause me to react and respond, many times when I should do nothing (or maybe shouldn't even be involved). The shaping and molding of this earthen vessel continually requires a chipping away of these things that muddle my vision, personality, and responses. But because this is also a part of who I am (I can't help it -it's in my DNA!) I recognize the constant struggle it can be. Without even so much as a warning it can creep in and take over. Gone is rational thinking. Calculated responses are thrown out the window. There's…

Broken Hallelujah

It's been a full, busy, and BLESSED weekend! It's still February (for a few more days) and a few more celebrations were still planned. Back-to-back girls nights found me meeting new people, trying new things, making new friends, and celebrating LIFE. Why? Because before He planned creation, my Savior planned for me to have abundant life. Yes, even me. (You too, by the way!)

I don't use this blog to post my daily updates or give status reports of my whereabouts. But all of what I've shared is leading me to a point (let's hope).

Tonight I enjoyed hearing amazing testimonies and beautiful songs by Laura Story & Mandisa at Girls Night Live! Oh what a blessing! I don't need to reiterate how much music is a balm for me but what was shared through story and song simply stole my heart tonight.

I've often belted (and even blogged about) the lyrics to Mandisa's songs. "Just Cry" is mentioned in one of my most-read posts. "Stronger" was the…

Help Yourself

I found someone who shares my "dilemma" for drawing energy from others. We had an enlightening conversation  about our "struggle" to ensure we are not 1. Filling the Lord's place in our lives with other people and 2. Seeking approval or affirmation as a result of our service.

The lesson for me right now is allowing God to help Himself to my life - even to the point where I have no say so whatsoever. It sounds simple enough. Of course I want God to use me - but am I willing to let Him not use me? Contrary to what I may think I have to give and share, am I willing to be "shelved"? Do I have that much faith? Could I be so bold even now to trust Him and His plan?  If so, then I would be willing to let Him help Himself to me even if it means not using me.

Where I can jump ahead is thinking that some gift or talent or blessing that I have is my offering. I care too much about wanting to bless others that many times I miss the greater calling of being still…

Social Butterfly

I apologize in advance that this will not be an uplifting and inspirational blog, but rather my open forum to vent. It's my blog and I can do what I want.

Are you ready for this? I'm about to admit something to you. I like attention. Shocker, I know. Let me phrase it a different way - I enjoy people. I like being able to make people laugh. I like getting a reaction. I enjoy helping others. I get involved with people. Sometimes when and where I shouldn't. But I thrive on the energy I get from being with and sharing with people. Let me share...

In first grade one of my classmates forgot his lunch money and was in tears. I took it upon myself to take this student by the hand and march him promptly to the teacher where I asked what exactly we could do for him.

In 5th grade I got a note sent home from my choir teacher asking my mom what we were going to do with me, the "social butterfly." As much as I loved to sing, I loved to talk too and I simply couldn't keep …

Sing With Me

One of the most marked moments of my "singing career" is a time that no one but me will remember. It was the Sunday after receiving word that a birthmother had chosen another family and I would not be the mother of her baby. In my heart of hearts I had believed that this child was going to be God's answer to my prayer. I can tell you I was nothing short of devastated. And I was to get up in front of hundreds of well-wishing church members and lead my congregation in worship.
We sang Chris Tomlin's words:
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Did I really believe it? I was asking them to sing of God's greatness with me as I stood there hoping to hide my broken heart.
And then we moved on to sing Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.
Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name


Oh truly, there was pain in my offering that day. I could ba…

Happy Birthday

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I wait for this all year. 364 "unbirthday's" build up to the anticipation of February 19.

It's just another day for most, but to me it's my favorite day of the year.


I don't know why or how I got into the ritual of having a legitimate birthday countdown. It usually starts as a teasing reminder sometime after the first of the year simply to say "it's coming." Then as soon as February hits, the celebration begins. I could certainly blame my mother who, to this day, continues to indulge me with attention and adorn me with my birthday tiara. I have become "known" for this. My celebrating, birthday crowns, and advent calendar. Of course, the bigger deal I've made about it, the more I've had to make a joke of myself. The truth is, I love birthdays in general. So it's important to me that other people enjoy and celebrate their birthday as much as I do.

Today has already been full of blessings. The worship team and many of my fr…

It Hurts!

You've seen the commercials for any number of prescriptions available to treat a very real and prevalent condition plaguing thousands. But I'm not talking about a diagnosable chemical imbalance or emotional disorder. I'm talking about the very real pain we are all capable of experiencing as a result of the circumstances we face. It is a real emotional response  - the literal physical aching I referenced yesterday.

"Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again--my Savior and my God!" Psalm 43:5

It's real and it hurts.  


Many times in our well-meaning Christian circles we're lead to believe that with enough prayer and scripture reading, we should just be able to get over it. While it's true He is a healing balm to whatever we're facing, we have to remember it's a process and not just something we "get over."

There are the two extremes: if you're like me, you're quick to slap o…

One at a Time

It's inevitable. Everyone faces pain. There are circumstances that cause us to grieve. There are situations that shake us to our core. There are things in life that bring about such raw emotions it causes a literal physical aching.

What I'm learning is the more I share about my own personal journey, the more people share with me about theirs. My circumstance isn't the same as yours, but I can guarantee we can relate on some levels. What God uses to teach me may not be the same lesson He needs you to learn. But the emotions we may experience as a result of our own individual testing bear something in common: we both know what it's like to feel completely and utterly reliant upon God.

Today alone I have had conversations with five different people related to their very individual and personal struggles. Not one of them was the same circumstance - but each of them are dealing with the pain of a broken heart. Not one had experienced the same kind of loss - but each of the…

My Sister's Keeper

I have a little sister. Much to my chagrin, as the big sister I was constantly being told to bring my sister along, watch out for my sister, or make sure she's okay. With 4.5 years between us, I was none-too-thrilled about the tag along who usually stole the attention from my friends. As I began to "grow up," I took a more active stance in playing a mothering role in her life, to which she'd gripe "You're worse than mom!" She's all grown up and a wife and mom now, but she'll always be my little sister.

Today's post may feel like a contradiction to my ode to meddling from two days ago. But after some thought-provoking conversation with a friend that spurred us both on to healing and growth, and then a mess of a morning that resulted in my own frustration being taken out on an innocent loved one, I've got a new perspective to share about the role we play in other people's lives.

Consider the question Oswald asks, "Has it ever da…

Happy Valentine's Day!

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It's here! It may be with anticipation that you greeted today. It may be with disgust that you wished it would just pass by. But LOVE it or not, it's Valentine's Day!
Please allow me to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. It may or may not be happy for you and it may or may not come with a reason to celebrate but if you'll give me just a few moments, I'd like to give you something you can claim for this day that celebrates a love we can all believe in.
People everywhere are buying cards, sending flowers, purchasing chocolates and other gifts, and making dinner reservations. The economy will certainly be injected with the mooshy-gooshy feelings that loved ones want to express to one another. And whether or not you're taking part in the buying and sending or receiving and acknowledging, this Valentine tribute is for EVERY ONE OF US.
I'm donning my red today. I've always been a "sucker" for any kind of holiday and celebration (ahem, 5 days and cou…

The Middle

You've heard me admit that I need to be needed. Somehow my innate desire to help others can be super imposed as meddling. Oh yes, absolutely infiltrating someone else's situation with what I believe is every ounce of "good intention" has found me in more than one mess that I had no business being in.
As any good "counselor" knows, advice is better left unsaid. Rather, a counselor's role is to ask the probing questions to let the individual uncover his or her own self discovery. So why I still find myself in the middle of situations I do not belong to...it's beyond me.

It doesn't take a master's degree to know that I should leave well enough alone. Let people figure it out on their own. I can't fix everyone else's situation, yet somehow it doesn't stop me from trying. I really cannot give you an answer "why" except the above admission to help. But when will I learn that my feeble human attempt to help untie the woes of a…

This is me part 2

This is about to get real.

It's extremely important that each of you reading know something about me - whether you know me personally or know of me or we've never even met. I am a flawed and fallen human being.
Choices lead to consequences. Pain leads to reaction. Decision leads to direction, and sometimes misdirection. But what I need you to know is that I do not write this blog or stand up and sing or share my heart for the purpose of portraying that I am something I'm not. On the contrary, I share out of my honest-to-goodness real life experiences and, something that I've learned is an even stronger driving force, my truest, rawest emotions.

(If you aren't convinced of my own admission, maybe you should re-read a previous blog: This is Me.)

At this point in my life, I can honestly say that I've lived and experienced every extreme from blessings beyond belief to the tangled up web of life. At 23 I thought I knew it all and nearly a decade later, I realize I…

I'm In Love

[Gentlmen: This one may not be for you! My tribute to the ladies.]

<3 Love is in the air. <3 Or at least so the stores tell us. The confectionate hearts and paper valentines have been on display since the day after Christmas so it's nearly unavoidable.Valentine's Day stirs a mixture of emotions depending on your status. Whether there's a special someone in your life you're planning to celebrate with, or you're boycotting the pagan holiday with its schemes to make fools spend money, the fact is the day is coming and inevitably some will celebrate and others may mourn.

"The story of your life is also the story of the long and passionate pursuit of your heart by the One who knows you best and loves you most." (Captivating)

I'm not asking the question if you have a valentine... I'm posing a much deeper question: are you in love? Who has your heart?

"Following hard after Jesus is the heart's natural response when it has been captured and…

Freedom

We talked about the baggage we carry around with us, so it only seems fitting we now discuss the difference between baggage and bondage.

How many times are we bogged down by the weight of the load we bear? It takes on the form of guilt, shame, pain, burdens, worry...among other things. And not only does it prevent us from moving forward in the life and plan God has, it actually steals our joy and strips the grace which is our gift to claim. We are shackled by guilt, paralyzed by pain, a slave to circumstances.

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Galatian 5:1

Do we learn from life lessons? Do circumstances shape us? Do experiences teach us? Yes. All of the above. And the "baggage" we carry as a result certainly conditions our future responses, relationships and reactions. But we cannot live in bondage to our past. We are meant to grow and learn from these things, but we are neve…

Safe

He will never let you go. Do you believe that? When everyone else has deserted you. When everything has been destroyed. When you've fallen so far and so hard. It's hard to fathom the same God who fashioned the vast expanse of the sky, formed the earth and breathed life into the dust from the ground, is the same God holding your very life in His hands.

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
      will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
   He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
      he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
      and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
      He will shelter you with his wings.
      His faithful promises are your armor and protection.


His very shadow is your resting place. You are protected under His wings. Rest in His safe embrace. And claim His faithful promises as your defense!

9 If you make the LORD your refuge,
     …

Baggage

We all have baggage. Everyone has a story. There's a past to each of our lives. Some of it includes things we bury deeply, hoping to never uncover what it is we want left unclaimed. Wadded up rags that bear no resemblance of the originals they used to be. Some of it we display proudly, showing marks of courage, achievement or a valuable lesson learned. Carefully stowed making sure not to harm the priceless piece. But no matter how you pack it, the baggage you carry with you is in fact a part of you.

If you show up for your journey without any luggage, you're simply ill-prepared for your trip. So when you come to the table of life, you bring your bags loaded with life lessons, hard knocks, flaws and failures, and ultimate successes.

If you're traveling alone, you can expect to lug your bags around and struggle with all you've got packed. If you're traveling with a companion, you can expect they're going to have baggage too! So double up on the struggle because …

On the Altar...Again

(This comes from Oswald Chambers' February 6 Devotional)
"I am already being poured out as a drink offering . . ."

—2 Timothy 4:6 Are you ready to be poured out as an offering? It is an act of your will, not your emotions.

(Oh, how many times do I let my emotions get wrapped up in things? I resolve in my "will" what I know to be and then those darn feelings start creeping in. They bring doubt, fear, frustration. And for me, they come with an incessant need to hold tightly to what little bit of control I may think I have on my situation.)

Tell God you are ready to be offered as a sacrifice for Him. Then accept the consequences as they come, without any complaints, in spite of what God may send your way. God sends you through a crisis in private, where no other person can help you. From the outside your life may appear to be the same, but the difference is taking place in your will.

(This can be said of me. As much as anyone close to me may have wanted to help me…

Exactly Where We Should Be

I got a phone call last night. The pain was evident though I could barely decipher what was being said through the crying.

I received an email yesterday, the author dubbed it her "message" or sermon. My heart ached with her as I sensed her grief.

I read a blog today, someone I don't even know, and I can honestly tell you it brought me to tears. Uncontrollable tears at the thought of what this family is facing today.

Pain, hurt, heartache, disappointment - it's all around. Consider what Oswald says of the life of Paul: "The one passion of Paul's life was to proclaim the gospel of God. He welcomed heartbreak, disillusionment, and tribulation for only one reason - these things kept him unmovable in his devotion to the gospel of God."

Would Iwelcome heartache? Could I embrace pain? Dare I greet disappointment?

One of my favorite passages are the Lord's words in Isaiah 43:1b-3:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you …