Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Is My Alternative?

As Katie and I make our way through Beth Moore's "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman" study, we often take time out to evaluate what we are learning and how the spiritual principles may be applied to our individual lives. Yesterday was a quite convicting lesson, at least for me.

In the lesson of Week 5 Day 5 we examined the behavior of Zeresh, Haman's wife, and how she endeavored to get rid of Haman's little problem called Mordecai. Moore's point was that often we get so sick of dealing with the drama of a loved one's life, that sometimes we basically want to take matters into our own hands, deal with it in what ever way possible that would end the drama quickly and efficiently.

Toward the end of the lesson there were five questions that we were to answer with a "yes" or a "no". These are the questions:
  • Do I have a low tolerance for the discomforts and upsets of those around me?
  • Do I feel pressured to come up with solutions to a loved one's persisting problems?
  • Do I ever grow weary enough of my loved one's problem that I could be tempted to give advice normally uncharacteristic of me?
  • Do I tend to get inordinately wrapped up in my loved one's conflicts with people and develop strong feelings like jealously, resentment, or hatred toward their opponent?
  • Do I tend to take a quick trip from passionate to irrational?
So, I answered them all and read the very next statement:
If you answered any of the above questions with "yes", what is your alternative?
Ok, that was NOT what I was expecting. Immediately I was so convicted of wrong attitudes. I mean the love and concern I have for my loved ones is genuine, but the way it controls me and causes me to behave when trouble comes, is totally inappropriate as the lesson made that undeniably clear.

I answered four of the five questions "yes".

For a person gifted with wisdom, my love while strong and good, surely has not always been reflected wisely. This is something that needs to change. And now.

It was difficult to look in the mirror at myself today, but thank God I was forced to.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Marshmallow Peep Blows Up

This is how we enjoyed our Easter candy.

Nothing like blowing up peeps!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trampoline Bible Study

Katie and I spent the afternoon on the trampoline out in the backyard. We enjoyed that time under the trees that recently have just burst out into springtime green. We noticed a robin in the dogwood tree sitting on the eggs in her nest there and got a decent picture of that.

We did our Esther study by Beth Moore on the trampoline today and really enjoyed immersing ourselves in the Word and enjoying our time with one another on this beautiful day.

God is good!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Look What God has Done! Part 3...The Rest of the Story?

In my previous posts I have shared a journey from brokenness to restoration, from devastation to wholeness, from ashes to beauty. Here is the final post....

Three days ago, I completed my bachelor's degree at the top of my class and received an achievement award and a leadership award. I am not saying these things to brag on myself (okay, well, maybe just a little). However, this has only bee possible because of God's provision along with hard work and the sacrifice of many. He provided my best friend who has sacrificed more than I can ever repay. He provided my church, other good friends and mentors who have helped me through difficult times emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

Ten years ago my life was in utter destruction. Today, I am about to have a brand new beginning once again. This time however, my life is moving from glory to glory. I am a new person with a new family (so to speak). I have grown so much in my walk with Him, as a woman, homemaker, provider, and a mom. I have watched my kids grow into beautiful young adults.

Now, I am undergoing a crisis of belief as God is once again stretching me. He is taking me out of my comfort zone. It's time for me to dive in like Sue did years ago. I can only hope she has been half as blessed as I have been over the last 10 spite of all the very difficult trials that had to be endured (some of them actually even appear funny looking back).

Now God is moving again. He is calling me and my daughter away from the place I have called home for the last decade..and from the state that has been my home for more than 25 years. This time He is calling me to the very same people who stepped in and took my kids every other weekend when they were small (to model a Christian marriage/family and to give mom a day off). This family has shared Thanksgiving dinner with us almost every year for the last 9 years. Our kids became best friends. Now, they have invited me and my daughter to temporarily reside with them in Atlanta as they assist us in gaining complete independence.

This is very frightening to me and a huge leap of faith. It is a very difficult move as I am happy in my current place of residence with my best friend for life. I will miss so much and my heart breaks at the thought of leaving. But, I must follow God's lead. If I have learned anything over the years, I have learned that God's way is truly best and when I try to do it my way...I get in a mess!

So, in summary...I started from a life of dysfunction, co-dependence, feelings of worthlessness, ignorance, and brokenness. I had two children who had no hope for a future the way things were going. God made it possible for me to raise those 2 children to be strong, healthy young adults (in spite of being a single mom with little education). He has taught me how to be a good mother (by surrounding me with healthy, strong, Godly people and sending my son strong male role models to provide the masculine influence that I couldn't). He has given me opportunities to be a minister to those who's shoes I once walked in. He has given me the opportunity to graduate from college (and I am not finished yet by the way...there has been talk of seminary in Atlanta). He has given my kids opportunities beyond anything they could have been afforded apart from Him. More and more I am beginning to stand on my own two feet financially and in every other way. He has humbled me. He has grown me deeper in my walk with Him. He has given me vision. He has given me and my family beauty from the ashes. Has worked everything out for good for my framily that loves Him and is called according to His purpose. He has given us a new life. He has given us esteem. He has given us dignity and worth in Him. Look what God has done!

The price was heavy. There were times of deep suffering and despair...all for His glory and I praise Him! And the story is still being written!

Look What God has Done! Part 2

In the first portion of this blog, I shared about how God sent me my best friend and Sister in Christ to help me rebuild a lifetime of destruction....Now, as the late Paul Harvey would say...I bring you...."The rest of the story"

.....I tried working in hopes to get my mind off of the brokenness I was suffering and have an income to help pay the bills. It was a nightmare. I was unable to come out ahead after paying the sitter and gas. I couldn't find a good babysitter and there was always trouble. I could only work part-time and make minimum wage. I started on Welfare and medicaid. I was very dependent on others to help me in so many ways because I was unable to help myself. God provided.

When child support seemed to be coming in regularly, God opened the door for me to attend college full time. I received my associate's degree with honors in 2004. I began working part-time again because my kids still needed me at home. I also kept the house running full-time while running around to church activities, camps, soccer practices, play practices, basketball practices, PTA meetings, and so much more. All of this running around and involvement with my kids was possible because my best friend believed that my kids needed their mom and did everything she could to help.

I volunteered with a local abuse recovery program for almost 5 years and ended up with a few surprising public speaking engagements as a result. God used me so unexpectedly and has brought so many into my life who's shoes I have worn out myself in the past. I know their pain. I understand their struggle and what they need more than anything is for somebody to understand...and offer them hope. I can do that now.

After getting my first degree, I decided I wanted to explore some culture. When I was in school I began painting. It came so easy. I never knew I had it in me. Shortly after that I was getting paid to paint murals in a local school. I also became active in community theater, landing a couple of decent roles in musicals. All along, Sue had begun playing in the symphony and I had my first experience with that as a guest of the orchestra! I also ended up seated at the table with a state representative! Oh the pleasures I have been indulged with...the plunder...that my loving Father just gave me. It all belongs to Him!

With each passing year, God has chosen a particular area, a focus in my life to stretch and grow me and my framily. Through all of it He was also growing Sue by leaps and bounds as well (and I promise did not come easy)! There were so many dark times...times of utter hopelessness and despair. So many people with opinions tearing us down at every turn. But we continued to trudge through. Sue stuck with us through the worst of times....determined to see us grow.

In 2007, God called the kids and I on our first overseas mission trip. He provided for us to go and have the experience of a lifetime in Albania! I always knew I was called to missions...but my whole family? That in itself is another blog entirely! We got to minister in prisons and in neighborhoods; and ministries continue to grow from our time there. There are people and faces from that trip that I will never forget.

In the fall of 2007, I got my first full-time position and began going to school again. I was able to secure medical insurance and get off of government assistance. Shortly after I began working on my bachelor's degree, I fell into a great opportunity to do what I had always wanted to do. I began working as a ministry assistant in a local church. It was a step up from where I had been..towards the place where God is still taking me.

In 2008, My son graduated from High School, a strong Christian young man who received a standing ovation at his graduation for enlisting to serve our country. In December of 2008, he graduated Navy boot camp as the head of his division. His title: Recruit Petty Officer in Charge. There are no words to describe the pride and thankfulness that overwhelmed me in that moment!

My daughter is currently a lifeguard part-time. She has had the opportunity to save a life...and even rescue a few triathlon victims! Oh the stories she can tell! I am such a proud mom! She is a hard worker. She is an excellent college bound student getting excellent grades in advanced classes. This is all because of God's provision for both of my kids to attend a good Christian school...when it should not have been possible. He provided Sue, my church family, a job for me, and scholarships for my kids. It is a miracle that has taken place for 4 years now.

Read about the latest news in my nest and final post on what God has done.

Look What God has Done!

Almost 10 years ago I met my current best friend. She had just become a Christian (April 4, 1999). I was about to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary...the date that I sent out a prayer request all over the World Wide Web. I was about to learn that God's thoughts and ways are not like mine.

During this time, my life was a dysfunctional mess. I was very co-dependent and living an an abusive environment. I was a stay-at-home mom with two young children, trying to figure out how I would ever escape the muck and mire of a dysfunctional life.

A newborn Christian named Sue responded to my desperate internet plea for my situation. She began to carry a burden for my family that she still carries even today. God made a heart connection that day that began her walk with a BIG BANG! Shortly thereafter, he began to lay it on Sue's heart to move to TN so He could use her in a decade of stretching, molding, and growing for both of us that, at times has been extremely painful to endure.

The marriage did not survive as Sue and I thought it would. We thought that God brought Sue here to help win my husband to Christ and therefore restore my marriage. It seemed logical. But my spouse's heart was hard against God. Instead, of seeing restoration, Sue ended up sacrificing her life to missions...a mission from God to help me rebuild places long devastated. Sue stepped in, willing to suffer with me, the consequences of my bad help me turn my life around...and so it has...completely.

When we met, although I was so happy in our friendship, I was a dysfunctional broken mess from a lifetime of wrong living and following poor examples. I had been a Christian and attended church faithfully and actively for most of my marriage. But, I was so broken and beaten down. I had only a high school diploma, no understanding of right living, no work experience for over a decade and two children to nurture, with little constructive guidance on parenting.

Although the divorce left a huge mark of failure for a very long time, God began restoring me right from the start. First, He provided us with a home. Sue and I and the kids moved in together and thus the word Framily was born (friend + family).

Read more about this in my next post.