Let It Go…Again

Let It Go.

It’s not just an overplayed Disney song (my apologies if you’re singing it now), it should be a way of life.

I am guilty of obsessing over trying to fix things that I may not be able to fix. I spent my morning doing just that.

Ever since my husband’s employment status changed last year, our income took a hit. We were living comfortably until then. Not richly, but comfortably. Taking a vacation was not out of the equation. Paying for the unexpected car repair wasn’t a choice between eating steak or ground round. Fortunately he found work within two months, but at a significant pay cut. And we feel it.

I can easily fall into the trap of juggling numbers and stressing over bills, and trying to pay for the dentist bill, the cable bill, and our children’s college all at once. By the way, my oldest won’t start college for 4 more years, but that won’t stop me from pretending that Rush Week starts on Monday.

I could get two more jobs, reinvent myself, put the kids to work (not really), or I could keep on trucking. I mean, we aren’t poor by any measure. We get by just fine, it’s just that the budget is tight and we have to account for every penny. Mostly that’s because of my own fear. I’m the penny pincher. My husband is much more relaxed about our provisions than I am. But I think that’s the difference in our personalities.

That’s where Elsa’s song comes to mind. But before Elsa knew to sing about letting your fears go, Jesus knew it. In fact, he instructs us to do it. He wants us to come to Him and lay our burdens at His feet. So why does it take me so long to figure it out? Why do I let it go only to pick it right back up again?

I think it happens most often when I’m not walking beside Him. When I’m not seeking Him daily. When I don’t hear His voice in my ear, then I tend to fill it in with my own voice. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that my voice can NEVER replace God’s. But isn’t that exactly what I’m doing while I’m obsessing and stressing? I just need to trust, to listen, to let go and let God.

I need to work on that. What things in your life do you keep picking up that you really should let go?

I Should Be at Church

It’s a Sunday morning, and I should have gotten everyone up on time (and against their protests) and gone to church. But I didn’t. I chose sleep for the second week in a row, in a long string of sporadic attendance, over worship.

When we lived in California, we never missed a Sunday unless someone was sick. We went to a church of about 350 members. I ran a women’s group on Mondays, my husband helped with Youth Sunday school (both High School and Elementary) and at one point was an Elder. My kids were involved in AWANA and I published the church’s newsletter, not to mention the countless times we volunteered for church events. I don’t tell you all of this to brag, I tell you all of this to show the difference between then and now. To show you I’m not just complaining, that I know things should be better, and that I know they CAN be better.

Fast forward 4 years, and we’re living on the opposite coast, and we should be well established with a new church family. But we’re not, and I know I’m not alone. At least, I don’t think I am.

We’ve been to something like five churches trying to find our fit, our new church family. The churches have varied in size from nearly nonexistent to mega-church all in attempt to find the fit…not God, but the fit. God has been in every one of the churches we’ve been to. But the difference is the people, and not God.

I mean no disrespect to the Church. I love the Church. I believe in the Church. I’m just a little frustrated. The churches we’ve encountered are just different than what we are used to, or it could be a symptom of the times. They are much more corporate, especially the mega churches, which my area seems to have a lot of. I don’t think they mean to be, and I know it’s probably a symptom of trying to serve so many different people. But classes and groups meet generally in 6 week spurts or from September to May, so you never really get a chance to share in one another’s lives. I WANT MORE. I WANT the dirty, nitty-gritty that our lives hold. I WANT to stand shoulder to shoulder with my Christian brother or sister and go through their trials and celebrate their victories. And an hour on Sunday or a few hours during a class won’t get me the intimacy of those friendships that I miss.

The one thread I’ve found running through ALL of the churches, no matter what size, is the feeling of ISOLATION. It doesn’t matter how long we attend a church, we just never seem to connect. And we’ve tried. At the large churches, we never see the same people twice. From the time we walk in the doors and are greeted with a “hello” and a smile to the time we leave with a “goodbye, have a nice day,” sometimes those are the only words that will be spoken to us. Fortunately, my kids have managed to make friends in Sunday school, but those friendships seem to end as we leave the church doors. They seem to be reserved for “while in church only.” No one seems to linger after church is over. Most people race for the parking lot to get on with their Sunday.

As Christians we’re called to be part of the “Body of Christ” but that body has to RELY on one another and LEAN on one another to function. And it seems like a bunch of body parts not communicating, but rather working separately from one another.

I know there are other people within the church walls feeling the same as me. I know it’s up to us to get involved and reach out. But the times that I’ve tried, I’m either too late because a class has already started, or a group is already established. Not to mention that, for me, not being able to drive makes it really hard (if not impossible) to get there sometimes. And the church is just too big to make a friend that would be willing to give a girl a ride now and then.

So if you’re in a large church this Sunday or next, do me a favor and turn around and greet the person seated behind you. It may make the difference in them ever coming back again. And if you’re brave enough, go one step further and invite them to an upcoming church function, AND OFFER TO MEET THEM THERE so they won’t feel so alone. I promise you that you’re effort won’t be wasted. They may think you’re weird, but it’s a chance you should take. You may even make a friend for life.

Have you had similar experiences with church? How did you get past it?

Keeping My Head Above Water

Some days it’s all I can do to keep my head above water.

Being “Mom” and “Wife” is a varied job description for women. No one woman does the same job as her counterpart, yet we share a sisterhood that, on many days, all we need to do is look one another in the eye and nod. That nod says it all. I understand. I’m right there with you.

Some days I get too far ahead of myself. When things seem to be not going as planned, I’m the first one to want to jump in and fix them. But unfortunately, sometimes there are no quick fixes, no immediate solutions, and that drives me crazy!

The hamster wheel just doesn’t go fast enough for me and it still only goes round and round in circles. No end, no fix, just a whole lot of wasted energy.

Whether it’s the mounting price of groceries, or the stress of doing taxes, or keeping the kids in clothes or  worrying over their grades, I just can’t do it.

And then I remember what’s missing: God.

I’ve been trying to do it on my own: trying to solve problems that haven’t even happened yet, and may not ever happen, all on my own. The people around me feel my stress. I’m one of those who can’t hide my feelings…my face shows my every emotion. It’s a curse, really.

There’s a definition of “Anxiety” that I really like: trying to figure it all out at once.

That about sums it up.

The nights when I can’t sleep because I’m running numbers in my head, and no matter how I rearrange them, they just don’t add up. The nights when I wake myself up because my jaw hurts from clenching it so tightly that I might break a tooth.

All those nights could be better spent in rest and sleep if only I would let things go, and let God work it out. I know it may sound silly, but it really does help. God wants us to bring our worries to him, not so that He can fix them (though he certainly can), but so that we will rely on Him and not ourselves.

He’s already got it figured out. He really doesn’t need our help. In fact, for a lot of us, He just needs us to get out of our own way.

So I’m going to remember to breathe when things get hectic. If only I could remember to do that BEFORE the craziness starts.

Here’s to a better night’s sleep.

New Year’s Resolution

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I’ve read a lot…and I mean A LOT… of depressing blogs about how awful 2016 was. The theme seems to overwhelm the blogging world.

And I get it: we had a political climate that divided us (and still continues to); we’ve had what seems to be a significant number of celebrity deaths, especially in the last few months; there have been tragedies, unfair accusations, and a whole lot of judging going on.

But I guess that’s what happens when you put your hope in these things. #falsehope

I got sucked in too, on occasion, but it didn’t leave me feeling an overall sense of dread about the year 2016. Trust me, my family and I had our own share of difficulties in 2016.

But enough is enough!

My resolution for 2017 is to stop listening to the whining and the noise that is so distracting…even consuming.

My resolution is to put my hope in something that makes sense…my faith in Jesus.

I know, I don’t get “preachy” on here too often, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m sorry if it offends some of my followers, and I hope you don’t hold it against me.

My faith is the only thing that makes sense to me, that is never changing, that delivers over and over whether I deserve the blessings or not. #grace

My faith is not a magic trick that will make things appear out of nothing. My faith is a relationship, a genuine hope that everything is going to be okay, even if things don’t work out the way I want them to.

It’s the end of 2016 and I’m still not a published author, I’m not the perfect wife or mother, my house is still not clean, my kids still disobey me, I’m not debt free, I still have epilepsy, and world peace is still not achieved. But all that is okay, because I’m right where Jesus wants me to be.

Here’s wishing you a Happy and Safe New Year! I’ll see you in 2017!

When Things Don’t Go as Planned

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When my husband came home from work at 10:30 this morning, I knew there was trouble.

In the blink of an eye, things changed. He doesn’t have a job to go back to tomorrow, or the next day. We’ve become a statistic of this hard hit economy.

This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced a lay-off in our marriage. But it is the first time our kids will experience such a life altering event. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was stressed. We all are. I have faith that God will provide, and that everything happens for a reason, but it doesn’t make it any easier to explain to the kids…or does it?

The timing of this event is interesting.

We recently paid off some outstanding medical and dental bills that I mentioned in an earlier post. I also resumed working for an old employer which I didn’t see coming at all. #dontburnbridges

And we just bought a car (used, of course) last weekend, because the choice was either continue to pour thousands of dollars into keeping the old minivan alive, or trade it in for next to nothing before it completely died. Had we waited until this weekend, we wouldn’t have been able to buy the used car (without a job). #perfecttiming

Four years ago we moved across the country, and left everything and everyone we knew for this job that is suddenly no more. #cruelirony

I believe that God has a plan, otherwise it would mean He just went to a lot of work for our demise. I know He doesn’t work that way. I have a choice how I react.

Admittedly, the last few years, we’ve fallen away from church, not necessarily from God, but from involvement in a church. We haven’t been able to find one where everyone feels comfortable, and, honestly we’ve gotten lazy. We aren’t serving like we once did, and we can tell the difference.

I don’t believe God wants to punish us. I believe He wants us to rely on Him, to seek Him out, to lay our burdens at His feet. To remember who brought us to where we are.

So it’s up to us how we use this experience. Our kids are watching how we cope, where we go for comfort, and for strength.

It’s about time they see how their faith can make a huge difference. #countyourblessings

Finding your way home

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I have several people in my life that, for different reasons, have made choices completely contradictory to their nature, their beliefs, and their character. I don’t understand how it all happened. How did they get that far down the road and not look at where they were going?

The problem is that now they find themselves in the position of feeling like they can’t go home again. They’ve screwed up to a point beyond embarrassment, and they think they can’t take it all back, make amends, and go home again. They’ve given up.

It’s tragic.

And it’s not true. They’ve told themselves lies over and over, to the point where those lies have become their truth. #findyourtruth

My heart aches for them. My heart aches for the separation they must feel.

I don’t want that to ever happen to my children. I know I can’t protect them, and I can’t predict their future. But I can equip them.

My kids are going to make mistakes. Big ones. We all do and we all have. Some mistakes are hard to take back because they hurt other people. We have to learn to say “I’m sorry” and really mean it. Some mistakes have long term repercussions. Some people spend their life trying to make up for those mistakes.

But a lot of mistakes involve our own pride.

I want my kids to know there isn’t anything they can do that will ever permanently separate them from my love. Or from God’s love.

No matter how embarrassed they are, I want them to know that I will always love them.

I think the only way to truly show them this is by example. It’s by letting my kids see me loving those people that I mentioned at the top of this blog. I can show them that love is bigger than mistakes.

I can equip my kids by loving them through their mistakes, even the small ones. If I establish a standard, a foundation, that they know they can always come home, then hopefully that will stick with them.

And I will teach them about God’s forgiveness. It’s not a one time lesson, but rather it’s an ongoing relationship.

As for those people I mentioned earlier, I know I can’t change things, and I can’t fix what’s been done, but I love them in spite of. And I pray that they will find their way home.

Praying Out Loud

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Some people have the gift of prayer. Their prayers are eloquent, and focused, and roll off their tongues as if their reading straight from the book of Psalms.

I am not one of those people.

When I’m in a group of people and am asked, or worse…expected, to pray out loud, I get very nervous. Suddenly my tongue gets tied up in knots and my prayer comes out sounding like that of a first grader, no offense to any first graders.

I remember being part of a women’s Bible study where we sat in a circle, joined hands, and took turns praying out loud for one another at the close of each meeting.

It terrified me. It was the worst part of the meeting. They must have picked up on my “first grade” quality prayers, because they changed policy and said that if you weren’t comfortable praying out loud, you could squeeze the hand of the woman next to you, and she would skip to her turn. God bless whoever sat next to me.

There’s nothing better than being the recipient of a prayer from someone who can actually put their words together like that of the poetry of David. It’s beautiful.

I always feel like I’ve short-changed the recipient of my prayer: “Dear God, please help so-and-so with their situation, Amen.” Short and to the point…not so eloquent. If only the words rolled off my tongue as easily as they do my pen.

Fortunately, God doesn’t care how my prayer sounds.

All He cares about is whether or not I pray. Whether it’s one word or a 50-stanza verse; He just wants me to pray. Even better that I’m praying for someone else.

 

So, let your words be short,

Let your words be true

So long as they’re from the heart

It’s amazing what God will do.