Chopping Tomatoes and Pondering Life

It’s funny how such innate objects, can sometimes bring back a flood of memories.  Just this morning, I was boiling water so I could blanche some tomatoes for a batch of homemade pizza sauce.  As I lifted them out of the boiling water and dropped them into the waiting bowl of ice water in our kitchen sink, I thought of George.  I could just picture him standing at my old kitchen stove, stirring the giant pan of salsa that we’d spent hours making.  It was the first time ever that I’d put zucchini in my salsa.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him, I didn’t think I was going to like it in there.  We spent the day laughing, chopping, and canning.

As I reached my hands down in the ice cold water, I gently squeezed the tomatoes, removing the parts that I didn’t want in my sauce.  For a minute I saw his hands, shaky with old age, performing the same task that I was now doing.

hands

He struggled to hold the knife steady, but still he pressed on to complete the process.  You see George could see the end result, to what we were doing.  He knew it was going to be wonderful.  I’m certain he could picture the look on our loved ones faces, when we presented them with a jar of our homemade, homegrown salsa.  As I sit here writing, in a completely different house than George and I were in, I find myself thinking of how quickly things can change.  That day, almost two years ago, we were in my kitchen of 15 years.  Sometimes looking back, I am amazed at just how much has transformed in my life.  I believe at certain times we are like the tomato, and God will let us get into a little “hot water” so to speak, to peel away the impurities that are present in us.  Once we have cooled down, and they have been smoothed away, He uses what’s left to make something wonderful.

Although I don’t understand a lot of the situations I have previously faced, I can certainly look back and see how they made me just who I am.  I’m not there yet, but I am constantly becoming.  Becoming wiser, becoming braver, becoming kinder, just becoming… well a little more of who I’m made to be each day.

ocean

So…  let’s take the story back to George.  The first memory I have of the man is probably when I was in about the 7th grade, he would volunteer at his daughter’s sports events.  Honestly a lot of years passed without a thought of old George, then one day God saw fit to place us back in each others lives through my connection with his daughter.  Honestly,  anytime I saw the man, his face would light up.  I don’t know why, but he loved me.  It’s one of the very few relationships that I’ve never had to question, does this person like me?  Nothing was required to be his friend, except for being his friend.

I’m told the man that I knew wasn’t always the same.  He went through many stages in his life, as most of us do.  I remember his daughter telling me about the day she came home and found him on his knees dedicating his life to Christ.  From that day on, he began transforming into the man I knew and loved.  Sometimes in life, it takes a good strong “Shake” to wake us up and turn us towards what’s important.  I don’t know the life story of my sweet old friend, but I know he was loved.  I know even at the end of his life, he pointed his family towards God.  At the end of the day he was just as human as the rest of us.  He had something that some of us seek, some of us have found, and some of us will refuse to acknowledge.  He had peace, the kind of peace that can only come from one place.  He was able to laugh even when he knew the end was near.

 

Life tends to take us down some unfamiliar roads.  Some of those roads are terribly hard and sad.  The thing is, sad can’t last forever.  You have to keep moving, and keep your eyes fixed on the things that truly matter.  I talk a lot about being a light for others, but what about yourself.  What if you find yourself in a dark hole with no one willing to be a light for you?  What then, my friends?  In my life, I have found that the very act of reaching out and lifting someone else while in the middle of the dark yourself, makes a little spark of light inside of your own heart.

peace

One of my coworkers, said to me last week, “We are possibly a third of the way through our lives.”  I don’t really feel like I’m that old.  I don’t want to be a third of the way to through.  I’ve got so much I want to accomplish.  Write a book, travel, raise a family, change the world….  I know, I’m not asking for much.  There are many things I long for in my own personal life that may never come to pass.  As my friend and office mate pointed out though, “we better start living!”

More often than not, we let opportunity pass us by because we are tired, busy, or just flat out lazy.  I have heard stories of George being a butcher, a dad, a husband, and there was even a rumor I think I overheard about him being in the circus.  Seems to me like he really knew how to live.  I’ve made so many mistakes in my life.  Fear held me back more times than I would like to admit.  One thing that the old man and I had in common, was that we know how to love.  He loved his family fiercely!  He loved his friends like they were family… and oh boy did he love to fish!

fishing

People today, change who and what they love as swiftly as the wind blows.  Loyalty and Honesty have taken a backseat to cheating and lies.  I’ve had the words, “I just don’t love you anymore” burned into my heart.  I could’ve let it harden me, but instead I let it mold me.  Every day, I choose love.  When I’m helping to raise two children, who aren’t mine by blood, I don’t stop and think “these aren’t my children.”   For what ever reason my heart got linked to theirs, and I will love them just as fiercely as if they were my blood.  I’ll teach them things, like how to make salsa, how to treat others, and hopefully how to love God.  They don’t NEED me in their lives, but I find that now I have come to need them in mine.  I’m proud so proud of their daddy for the changes I’ve seen him making in himself in the past weeks.  Letting go of past hurts, and just moving forward in kindness is not always easy.  The fact that George’s daughter could recall the story of when she started seeing a change in him for the better, reminds me that I’m not the only one watching.  We have two little sets of eyes that see and remember most everything.

Yesterday was the one year mark since George’s last breath.  I KNOW he is greatly missed.  I’ll admit I cried, the ugly kind of cry, while writing this…  but I know that if he were here, he would have placed a hand on my shoulder and said, “what’s the matter sis?”  I’m almost positive he would’ve reminded me that everything would be alright.  Then he would have said something silly to make me smile.

joke  I asked one of George’s daughters to send me her favorite picture of him.  She of course sent this one and her comment was perfect.  “The one with the girls, He was telling them a joke.  He always wanted to make them laugh.”

 

Honestly, I just wanted to make some pizza sauce today.  I had no plans of writing this blog.  In fact I had planned to give up writing all together.  Someone just said to me last night, find the thing that you’re good at and do that.  I’m so thankful that, just like George, I’m good at loving people.  The pizza has been made, and eaten.  I even made a few extra for some people that I love.  I’m ending the day, and a pretty good day might I add, sending a little love to all of you.  I’ll leave y’all with my favorite poem and one I saw enacted in the life of my dear friend and his entire family.

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway

 

When all you can see is yourself in the middle of the storm, look up and know that there is something above the storm.

“Job 14:7-9-
“For there is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.  Though its root grows old in the earth and its stump die in the soil yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.”

I don’t know what I’m about to write for y’all tonight.  I don’t have eloquent words to share, but what I do have is straight from my heart.  I’m tired, but as I sit here preparing for sleep, a little voice inside says, “write something.”

Tonight let’s try something different…

I sat down with the laptop, and not a single notion of what to write about.  Usually I have an idea stewing in my head for days, and then when I finally find time to put it into words, it flows freely.  These days though, I don’t have time to think about anything extra.  There are too many thoughts crammed inside my head, so I will try and clear my mind for a minute, and share with you the first thing that pops in there.  Here Goes!

God ALWAYS provides a way out for his people.  There are many times in the bible, one(or more) of his servants were “stuck” in a tricky situation.  He sent Moses to save the people of Egypt.  He went into the fiery furnace and saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  He told Noah to build an ark, for crying out loud.  Ultimately He sent his son to save anyone who would believe.  Why is it that in hard times, he is the last place we run?  I’m so guilty of this.  The only answer I can give is that I spend too much time focusing on solving the problem myself, instead of just trusting.  Once a situation has passed, I can typically see where God’s hand was guiding me.

I guess I’ve just been having a tough time in a few different areas lately.  In the past I’ve written a lot about anxiety, divorce, hard times and all the things that I’ve felt so deeply.  I think, I’ve been avoiding blogging because I’m tired of writing about those things.  Frankly I’m sick of feeling them.  I’ve learned that not everything is meant to be shared.  Not everyone cares where you’ve come from, and things don’t always turn out the way we expect them to.  Sometimes though, sharing can help someone else feel a little bit less alone in the world.  People will walk away, that’s a fact of life, but occasionally someone comes running towards you and takes you completely by surprise.   Someone said to me this past week, “You’re never going to be able to control the actions of another person.  You basically just have to decide whether to trust them, or walk away.”  As far as things not turning out the way we expect them to, well, that’s not always a bad thing.  What if things just happen to turn out better than we expect?  Isn’t that what we are taught in church?  God is much, much larger than our expectations.(Ephesians 3:20)

If we believe this, I mean really believe it, then why do we spend so much time worrying about how things will turn out?  I’m trying to stop… really I am.  The problem I’m facing at the moment is that when I get sad,(remember I said I’m tired of being sad) I refuse to cry so I get mad instead.  I tend to shut down, and have a little bit of trouble focusing on whatever task is at hand.  At times all I can see is the metaphorical storm, even though I know I am much better off when I pause, take time to pray about it, and keep my head up.  Too many times, we let people’s opinion of us cause our heads to drop in shame.

Psalm 3:3

“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

I’ve finally reached a point where I’m not constantly apologizing for being who I am.  I know my heart, I know the areas that need improving, and I’m trying.  I’ve got a whole lot of trying in me.  If I lack, it’s certainly not in persistency.  I just keep on trying, even when I feel like I’m failing miserably.

Today was not really a good day, it’s just been a couple of long days in a row.  I spent a big part of my evening fighting back tears.  As we sit here on the couch, I looked over and said, “How much do you love me?”

He replied, as expected, with an all familiar, “too!”  As in, “I love you too.”  I found myself smiling, because I know there’s not just one, but three of them that love me “too”.  They don’t always act like it, but we’re learning.  Saturday will be the anniversary of our first year together.  In a way it’s bittersweet, because I tend to worry about what if.  He has said it a thousand times, “just let it be okay and develop stronger over time.”  I’m always the first to arrive, or think I’ve arrived at the place I’m supposed to be.  If it takes us a while to get there together, I’ll work on my patience along the way.  I get frustrated, and worn out, but I won’t walk away.  I am trustworthy, and always loyal.  I put a whole lot of effort in everything I do, well, except for maybe laundry.  Honestly, I don’t care about fancy things or diamond rings.  I just want to know without a doubt, that I’m loved and appreciated.  Being able to crawl up beside you on the couch when I need someone to just hold on for a few minutes, goes a whole lot farther in my book than a dozen roses.  Ask Camden, he’ll tell you I like tulips better than roses anyway.

tulip

Maybe I’m silly, for not wanting the things that money can buy.  Y’all, I might get dumped when he reads that I want so much more than his money.  I don’t think what I’m asking for is too much.  It’s really not complicated at all.  Just come home to me. and only me, each night.  Be kind, even when it’s not your first instinct.  Smile, you know the one… the smile that’s just for me, where your eyes crinkle around the edges and I get weak in the knees.  Recognize that I spend most of my time putting everyone else’s needs before my own, and every once in a while take some time to make me feel special.  I try so hard to let you know you are priceless, handsome, and amazing.  Never stop talking to me, communication is the key.  I want to know everything about you, but not in a creepy stalker sort of way.(I mean unless you’re into that, then creeper status it is.)

A friend and I were talking the other day and she said, “sometimes marriages/relationships get stale.”  I’m sure I read way more into it than she expected, but I can’t stop thinking about that comment.  If a relationship is going to last, then when the stale comes, you find a way to refresh.  You talk to each other, and move as one unit.  There will be many season throughout life, some anticipated and some not.  Maybe I’m old school, but I truly believe that commitment means that you stick.  You fight for the things you want in the relationship, but you don’t run away when times get tough.  Believe it or not, there are people out there that can and will remain faithful for a lifetime.  I’ve said it too many times to count, Love is so much more than a feeling.  It’s being there for someone else even when you are tired, sick, and broken yourself.  Love is choosing me, even when I’m quite hard to love.  As I said at the beginning I’m tired, and I’ve been writing way past my bedtime.  I’ll leave you with a little piece of my heart, and an excerpt from my book:

“Job 14:7-9-

“For there is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.  Though its root grows old in the earth and its stump die in the soil yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.”

 

I just read the entire book of Job and do not remember reading this scripture.  I have to admit, I googled the tree growing new sprouts.  This really does happen!  This scripture is speaking hope to my soul as I’m writing.  It says to me, even though it may seem my marriage is like a tree being cut down with seemingly nothing left, there is still hope.  For if a tree can sprout new growth with just a little water after being cut down, how much more can we grow together with Jesus Christ, the living water in us.  My God must be working on some new “sprouts” that will never cease!”

 

It’s funny to me now, that I was so confident that the marriage would survive.  I saw it as the tree cut down, and in a sense it was.  Even more so, I was the tree and those new sprouts came up, just not in the way I expected.  Today I sit here, thankful for the process.  Thankful for the lumberjack, and forever grateful for all the new sprouts.

tree

 

 

 

Change is inevitable, but sometimes everything changes all at once. Let it go! Stop looking for happiness in the same place you lost it.

It’s that time of year again, oh how I hate the word RESOLUTIONS!

res·o·lu·tion: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

About this time everyone reflects on the past year and what they want to change in the new year.  Whether it be to lose weight, quit smoking, or spend more time looking at your family instead of your phone, I hope you succeed!  I know that personally, I am usually gung ho for about 10 minutes, and then I’m eating M&M’s while binge watching One Tree Hill on Netflix.

So, lo and behold, I went low-carb shopping today with great intentions of success.  I can just picture myself in a tiny orange bikini this summer!  One thing is different this year from all the others, I now have a partner in crime.  Hopefully we can hold each other accountable for longer than the usual 10 minutes. (As I’m finishing up this blog post, day one of our diet started with me prepping low carb meals for the week and ended with Sugarfire BBQ and pie.)

There are a few other things I want to work towards this year, but first let’s reflect together.  2016 carried the worst heartache I’ve ever experienced.  I had already spent at least half of the prior year broken, lonely, scared, you name it… I was feeling it.  Our little home town, has suffered some major losses in 2016.  Suicide checked in and took way too many lives.  Sadly, I can understand the thought process that leads some of us to that precipice.  I stood at the edge of that cliff and stared into it’s abyss.  I often wonder, why me?  Why did I recover and not choose that, when so many others did.  Honestly, I have no idea.  I wish I could have prevented every single one of them from experiencing whatever it was that led them to that place.  I wish I could have stopped them, and reminded them of their worth.  All that we can do now, is change the way we treat each other, and constantly lift each other up in hopes that we will be a difference maker in the life of someone suffering.  I had quite a few difference makers!

At some point, I stopped looking at 2016 as the worst year of my life, and started seeing it as one of the best.  It truly was a year of transformation.  There were so many unexpected changes.  If you had asked me 2 years ago where I would be sitting today, I would never have been able to imagine this place I’m in.  Once the smoke cleared, I started to see that the relationship I deemed so “perfect” was awfully one sided.  If you’ve heard the saying love is blind, I would say that could have been applied to my situation.  Anyway, enough about that…  although it is truly amazing, the whole different direction life has taken me.  I’m thankful for the place that 2017 is starting from.  I went from housewife in a bubble, to starting a career, being part of an amazing family, and a whole new group of friends.  I’m terribly sad about the friends with whom I’ve lost touch.  I know it’s not for lack of trying, but it still sometimes makes me cry.  Chances are if you are one of those friends reading this, you know I’m talking about you.  Call me please… I never wanted to lose you on top of everything else.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?

I know things change, and when you come out the other side a different person than before, people don’t get it.  When you figure out who you are, and stand tall no matter what comes, people get confused.  They sometimes get angry, when you demand more from them.  I have decided this year I won’t call them resolutions, they will be promises.  Here’s a little bit of my list of promises:

  1. I promise to focus more on the good things than on the bad.  I have a really hard time with not feeling worthy enough for someone to love.  I will remind myself that I would do anything for those I love and that in itself is a rare quality.  I’m begging y’all if you have a significant other, best friend, anyone who means the world to you…  Tell them they are amazing, beautiful, kind, funny, smart, etc.  A compliment goes a long way, in this cold hard world.
  2. I promise to be who I am, whether I am loved or hated.  If someone isn’t treating me with respect, I will stand up for myself.  If I am someone you love, then what’s important to me will be important to you.  If I want to call and talk about nothing, you’ll listen to the silence and hear what my heart is trying to say.  If I want to go dancing, we will dance until our feet hurt.  Well, I think you get my point…
  3. This should have been number one, but I promise myself to spend more time in the word of God.  Drawing near to Him keeps me centered and my mind healthy.  With all that has gone on, I struggle daily with anxiety.  I’m learning how to let that go and just be ok.
  4. I promise myself, my love, and my little loves(the kids) to spend less time being busy looking at my phone, that I miss out on time with them.  I don’t want to be one of those people who get angry when someone interrupts me, because you are distracting me from my phone.  They are growing up so fast, I see it in just the year I’ve been with them.  I don’t want to miss a single minute.
  5. Another promise I feel like needs to be made, is to little Hailey.  She is only 9, but put on her Christmas list this year that she wants a happy family.  I questioned her gently as to what this means.  Of course, I immediately thought that didn’t include me.  I know those of you who are contributors to her happy family scenario, will all read this.  I know at times it’s awkward(at least it is for me), but I feel like we have a chance to teach her and her brother how to rise above hurt feelings, and bitterness.    I know what divorce did to me, so I can’t imagine being a kid and experiencing it.  I am in no way trying to make anyone feel bad, please don’t think that.  Yet, I feel we as a unit have to do this for them.  They aren’t mine, but for some reason God decided to sit my heart down right beside theirs.  It was like He said, “Ok Crystal, this is your place and these are some little people for you to love.”  I don’t know what that happy family will look like in the end, and I’m sure I’ll get flack for writing this.  I have come to realize that I don’t just have myself to consider anymore.  I also recognized really quickly that I would do whatever it takes to ensure these kids are safe and happy.

There is so much more I could promise or resolve, but there’s not enough time in any of our days for all the things I want to improve on.  As always my heart is to be kind first, even when the situation doesn’t call for kindness.  I’ve been struggling really hard with some things these past few weeks.  I’ve made some decisions, that I won’t talk about on here, but I’m trusting God to lead the way.  I’m afraid that some of the things I want out of this life, the one I love may never want… but I’m trusting God to lead the way.  I tend to try to carry things, or solve problems that don’t need me to solve them. So I’m trying to let it go, not worry, and trust God to lead the way.  He certainly hasn’t failed me yet.  There was a song on a random CD that a friend mailed to me in the middle of 2016.  This song served as a reminder on many nights that I would not be left in the middle of the pain.

 

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

And through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And through it all, through it all
It is well

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name 

I’ll leave y’all with part of a conversation I recently had with one of my dearest friends.  I won’t go into detail about what we were talking about but here is a little snippet, ” My best advice is to be so built up on the things of God that when the hurt, bitterness, or resentments try to creep back in, you see it for what it truly is, a hindrance.  Oh, my dear trust me, it will come creeping back time and time again.  I can promise you that for sure.  A person may find themselves wondering, “Will I ever feel normal again?”  Life can get real lonely and hard, without warning.  One of my favorite scriptures, and one I’m standing on for a lot of things I worry about in my current situation is Isaiah 60:22 “When the time is right, I, The Lord, will make it happen!”  There are some things I’ve been praying for that to the naked eye it looks like not a thing is changing in those areas.  It’s at times like these that I hear the little lady who taught the Tuesday morning bible study saying, “Our God works the night shift!”  I don’t have to task myself with figuring it all out, and losing sleep.  While I’m sleeping, hopefully peacefully, God is restocking my metaphorical shelves.  He’s putting just what I need for each day right where I will find it.”

Do any of you find it strange that we can use up all we have for today, and wake up tomorrow renewed to do it all again?  Sometimes we overlook this fact, because we have woken up so many times already.  We tend to forget, that one day we will not.  I will never, myself be able to wake up to a new day and Not believe that God is real.  That is miracle enough for me, everything else that happens in my day is like an extra special bonus!

“Does it still hurt?”

“I do sometimes wonder if the place remembers it’s person. There’s no doubt, that space belonged to me. I spent so much time kneeling and praying in my bedroom, that I know God’s presence must linger in that space. Drawing the ones I prayed so hard for to Himself. I can just imagine him whispering to them as they sleep, tugging their hearts towards Him.”

That tiny little phrase kind of threw me for a loop.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s a simple yes or no answer.  The question was posed by a friend.  Someone who I look up to as one of the most Godly women I know.  The conversation started off with talk of my new relationship, and how happy I am.  She looked across the room at “him” with his Santa Claus Pajamas, and Shrek house slippers and shook her head. We kind of giggled, and she said, “He healed your heart.”   I smiled a little to myself, “and thought yes, yes he did!”

heal

Let me stop right there and say that, I really do believe my heart is healed.  I think that sometimes, well actually all the time, God knows just what we need to get through the hurt.  On occasion he gives us a little, and other times he gives us a lot.  When times are lean, we need to stand firm on the promise that everything happens for a reason.  If we allow it to, the question of “why me?” will drive us mad, and hinder our healing to the point of self-destruction.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

   For everything that happens in life—there is a season,

    a right time for everything under heaven

     A time to be born, a time to die;
        a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
     A time to kill, a time to heal;
        a time to tear down, a time to build up;
     A time to cry, a time to laugh;
        a time to mourn, a time to dance;
     A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
        a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
     A time to search, a time to give up as lost;
        a time to keep, a time to throw out;
     A time to tear apart, a time to bind together;
        a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;
     A time to love, a time to hate;
        a time to go to war, a time to make peace.

I’ve read the previous scripture a thousand times, but now tonight thinking back on the conversation from yesterday, it takes on a whole new meaning.  About a week ago, I had someone tell me it was time to start writing again.  So, as my friend unknowingly titled this blog, yesterday I knew I would be writing for Y’all today.  We were laughing and talking about our lives, when she turned serious for a moment.  The great care in her voice spoke volumes to my soul as she asked, “Does it still hurt?”

I think I kind of floundered for what to say.  I muttered something and the conversation turned without delay.  I mean, do I tell her that sometimes I wake up in the night and I so desperately want someone to hold me close.  When this happens, I try my best to shake it off and remind myself that God is holding me.

Isaiah 41:10

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Should I have mentioned that sometimes I have a really hard time, because I wonder if suddenly and unexpectedly I will diminish in value to the one I love.  When I start to feel this way, I force myself to remember that I know the value I hold, and if someone(anyone) fails to recognize that, “BYE FELICIA.”

love

So to answer the question, No it really doesn’t hurt anymore.  It hurts to think of the friends I’ve lost touch with since moving out of that little town.  I try, really I do.  I call, but a person can only call so many times before they feel like they are being pushed aside.   What would I say to those friends if they were standing right in front of me?  I would start with something like, “I understand” or “I know life can be super busy and hard.”  It would end with some much-needed “friend” time.  Sadly, life and relationships don’t always go like we picture.  People walk away, or stop trying.  There’s a time to search, and a time to give up.  I just hate giving up.

When I lived in that tiny town, at least once a week Emilee and/or Hanna would come bake something with me.  We would make mass quantities of homemade pizza and distribute them to all the neighbors.  Just this week I was invited over to make cookies with a friend, it’s just a little thing.  I might be the only one in the world to over think a cookie baking session.(Oh, how I need some time with friends in front of an oven.)  I won’t lie though I feel a little like I’m cheating on Emilee and Hanna.  I know they couldn’t care less and would laugh with me about how I always bossed them around my kitchen.  Sometimes, though I remember those days and smile.  Even though some of the best times of my life were in that kitchen, I don’t want to go back to that life where I never felt good enough.  I want to stay in the place where I know I am enough.(I do sometimes wonder if the place remembers it’s person.  There’s no doubt, that space belonged to me.  I spent so much time kneeling and praying in my bedroom, that I know God’s presence must linger in that space.  Drawing the ones I prayed so hard for to Himself.  I can just imagine him whispering to them as they sleep, tugging their hearts towards Him.)

The place where “I am enough”.  What does that look like?  That place may be different for me, than it is for some of you.  For me it’s surrounded by people who choose to spend time with me.  It’s where God is the center of my life, and all that I do is led by my faith in him.  I have a very hard time staying in that place, and find that over time I have to continuously draw myself back to Him.

grace

James 4:8

” Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

As this blog post nears to an end, I’ll leave you with a question of my own:

What becomes of hurt, when it no longer hurts?

It could transform you in so many ways.  Will you let pain caused by betrayal turn into bitterness and anger?  Trust me, I can see how easily one could allow that to happen.  I have days where I remember what has been done to me, and I struggle not to hate.  I’m learning to see it, not as what has been done “to” me but what has been done “for” me.  I was brought out of a life of melancholy and boredom.  My heart longed for adventure and travel, but I would never have ventured outside of that little town.  I wanted to reach out to people, random people, just to let them know they were(are) loved.  That was very difficult to do without leaving a 10 mile radius.  I mean there are only so many random people who you meet on your sofa!  On Saturday, I’ll be wrapping presents with a little girl who has stolen a big chunk of my heart, for children who may have no other gifts than the ones we give.  worthy

Not once would I wish the feeling of rejection on another, but let’s face it… at some point it’s coming.  Fear and pain go hand in hand with living life.  That shouldn’t stop us from living life.  As far as I’m concerned, the fear and hurt can have each other.  I’m holding the hand of someone new, and it’s feels pretty darn great!

In the middle of the mess… chose joy, peace, love, kindness, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Humility speaks volumes in a world full of pride.

Going through my Facebook time hop today and came across this little gem.  It started out with “this maybe should have been a blog post”.  Well, lucky for y’all it is becoming a blog as we speak.  It was one year ago today that I wrote the following words.  Of course I’m going to read through and edit/revise, but for the most part it will stay unchanged.  It really spoke to my heart today.  It’s kind of funny that my own words happened to be just what I needed to hear this morning.  They were kind of like a pick me up from, well… myself.

 

1 year ago:

“This maybe should have been a blog post, but not many of you see my blog.  Whether you agree or disagree with my opinion, please be kind.  Remember that often I go out of my way to make y’all feel loved.  It has been on my heart to address this issue for a while now.  Going through a difficult situation really brings out the true colors of people around us.  Sometimes people are just trying to help or make you feel better, and say the wrong thing.  Those times should be simply overlooked.  The question I find myself asking is, what about those times when a friend or family member says something biting that seems directed for our hurt?  I say (get ready for this)simply let it go!  In the future use discernment in who you trust for advice, but forgive people for their hurtful comments even when they are not sorry.  You are already dealing with enough, don’t carry those hurt feelings with you.

Surround yourself with people who build you up!  You don’t need any help tearing yourself down, if you’re anything like me you do a good enough job of that on your own.  Well, stop it!  If there are things you don’t like about yourself, change them!  People will talk no matter what you do.  Seek God’s plan in all the messes of your life.  He is the only one  who will always want the best for you.  His plans for us are good, and his timing is always perfect. (No matter how hard it is to wait). In the middle of the most difficult situation I’ve faced thus far, I’m learning how God will use our strenuous circumstances to mold and change us, if we will let him.  Whether my situation turns out the way I’m praying or not, my Faith WILL stand.”

Today:

MY FAITH WILL STAND.  So many times as I prayed, and confidently spoke about how I just knew God was going to answer my prayers.  God did NOT answer my prayers the way I thought he would.  Does that mean he didn’t answer?  Things didn’t turn out the way I prayed, until I started praying for God to change me instead of the situation.  When I became willing to move forward without having things go my way, God moved in my situation.  I asked him to make it better… instead he made me better.  I asked him to save the marriage… instead he brought me out of a situation where I was not respected or loved the way I deserved to be.

loved

Divorce came and went.  I learned that I am way stronger than I ever thought.  Not because of anything I’ve done, but by the faith and hope that has been instilled in me through studying the bible.  I still struggle with a lot of issues, self-doubt and intense fear are just a few.  I always think something is wrong with me.  I am terrified of being walked away from.(On a daily basis I think how I just want someone to stay.  Someone to choose me, over the other woman.  Someone, who can’t wait to tell me about their day, every single day.)

walk

I can honestly say, I’m so thankful that God didn’t leave me in that marriage.  As I sit here typing, Frankie is snoring on the other end of the couch.  The two little munchkins are laying on a pallet watching a movie and arguing over blankets.  Sometimes I find it hard to believe that this is my life.  So much has changed.  Even when it didn’t feel like they were good changes, God was working.

1 year ago:

“I have been told how stupid I am, been laughed at, and made to feel inadequate, all by people who say they love me.  When a situation takes longer than people think it should for us to get through, they become frustrated with us for “still” being upset.  That’s okay.  They really just don’t get it, if they have never been through it.  Even if they have been through something similar, the bottom line is nobody knows your pain except you, and God.  Trust him!  Lean on him!  I get it, there are times you really need someone to talk to.  Just be prepared, because EVERY SINGLE PERSON will have an opinion.  Let them give it if it makes them feel better, then go ahead and do what you feel God leading you to do.  They may get upset when you don’t take all the wonderful advice they offer.  Let them be upset!  Do what you feel is right for you, not what someone else says they would do in your place.  You don’t have to apologize for knowing your own mind and heart, even if no one else understands.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many people in my life who continuously raise my spirits.  I guess what I’m trying to say is weigh your words before you spit them out.  You can never truly know what another person is going through.  So before you say “here’s what I would do”, stop!  Offer encouragement instead of advice!  Give love instead of judgement!  Add kindness to their chaos.  As for me, I will continue to look to the one who made me for guidance.  If you don’t believe like I do, fine. You may never understand the reasoning behind the choices I make.  That’s OK, sometimes I don’t get you either!”

Today:

A friend asked me last week one day, “How do you keep your head up/keep going when you feel like you suck?  This world is a crazy place.  People are mean.  I’m starting to believe there really isn’t good in everyone.”  She was right “people ARE mean”.  Some people are horrible.  They do things I couldn’t even imagine to each other.  I’ve come to know that I can’t control the actions of others.  I can be kind anyway.  Sometimes I get so tired of being, “such a good person”.  It feels like I’m at the bottom of everyone’s list.  I feel like I suck on a daily basis.  I keep trying.  I know my sweet friend thinks, I’m just so happy.  I am very happy, but not every minute of every day is peachy.  Real life is real hard.  On most days, I wake up counting down the hours until bedtime.  I work my butt off, and feel insufficient.  I’m so hard on myself.  There’s not enough time in my day, not enough money in my wallet, and not nearly as much time spent with family and friends as I would like.  The house is a mess, the laundry needs folded, and I always have an overwhelming feeling that I’ve forgotten to do something important.  I am a bundle of emotions.  I’m fighting to get back to me.  I use the word fight, because I’m not going to give up.

 

scared

I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years, but I know I won’t look back and say I gave up.  I threw in the towel because it was hard.  Sometimes life is REALLY hard, and oh so messy.  Like right in the middle of all the happy, it’s still hard.  The best strategy I’ve found for “keeping my head up” is to bend my knee and bow my head.  Sometimes I talk to God, but here lately I just listen because I’m at a loss for words.  It’s not always an instant fix, but it directs me back to my center.  It puts my focus back where it should be.

 

1 year ago:

“If you know me at all, then you know I would never intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings.  More times than not I put others first and do whatever is asked of me.  Recently I have learned the value of saying no when I am overwhelmed.  No matter what comes I will be okay, it’s just that occasionally I need someone to remind me.  As my friend Connie always says, “it either will or it won’t”.  I’m leaving it all up to God.  It won’t always be easy, but when this storm blows over I will still be standing, not by my strength but by the power of God within me.”

Ephesians 6:13 

“So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing”

Today:

I went to church last night.  I found myself thinking about how I’ve written an entire book called “Faith on Fire”, and I don’t feel like my faith is on fire at all.  I struggle with even knowing how to pray, or if I’m praying for the right things.  All I know is that the bible says to talk to God about everything, so I do.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

“Celebrate always,  pray constantly, and  give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.”

Life is messy, imperfect, and hard.  Right in the middle of the hard we often find respite in the smile of a stranger walking by, our children giggling, a good book.  You have to take the good right along with the bad.  You do the best you have with what you have, and trust God to get you where you need to be at just the right time.

isaiah

There’s a quote that has stuck in my mind for years.  “Everything will be ok in the end.  If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love can build a bridge. 

Everyone out there at some point or another just wants to know that someone loves them enough to try to understand them.  Someone to listen and be there when they need their “person.”   Even if they never “get” you, them making it known that they are trying makes all the difference.  What do you do when one by one your tribe is stripped away?  You cope the best way you know how, I guess.  I’m still figuring this one out, so I’ll have to get back to y’all. 

The thing is, I’m the type of person who will set aside the things that are important to me, to be what others need. I’m having a real hard time with some things I’d rather not write about, but honestly it seems that I’m the odd man(woman) out these days. I’ve picked up the phone a thousand times to call a friend, but I know that said friend has her own stuff to deal with and I put the phone back down. 

The one person who I thought would “get” the feelings of rejection that I feel too often, just doesn’t want to bother with the discussion. Ya know, after so many times of saying “this is what I need” one has a tendency to hang their head and throw in the towel.  I’m not one to give up easily, but for most of my life rather than ask for what I need in a friendship/relationship, I just let me matter less until I’ve forgotten who I am. I’m trying so hard to build the relationships that are important to me. I want those I love to know they are important, so I go out of my way to make them see.  It just seems at times that I’m standing in the middle of the road, waving my arms wildly while everyone I know just looks away and drives on by.

People say, “we’re just so busy”, or whatever reason, but the truth is, you make time for what’s important.  It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 am and you haven’t slept well for days, if someone you love… Like really love, needs you, there’s no hesitation.  If I need you to hold my hand, give me a hug, or listen please don’t brush me off.  I wouldn’t do that to you. I know not everyone will choose me… But I think it’s time that I learn to choose myself. 


I write a lot about hurting, but I also write quite a bit about love.  Honestly, I’m tired of writing about the sad stuff.  I’m tired of feeling the sad stuff.  For the most part, my life is pretty darn great. I still struggle. Who doesn’t?  For me loving someone means lifting them up…  Lift them up with kind words. Lift them up with a hand to hold. Lift them up with a smile or listening ear. Lift them up in prayer. The key word is lift.


 Maybe stop and think before you utter those words of frustration at someone you love. They could be telling you what they’re feeling because they feel like you are one of the most important people in their life. Before you get angry an snap at them, try to understand. When you’re too tired to even listen, remember you may be the only one they have. 

I’ve heard the saying, “all we have is today”. I don’t think I ever really got it until just now. Someone today will speak their last words.  Someone will be too ______(busy,tired, frustrated, etc) to be there for the ones they love for the last time. They will miss the chance to make their wife/girlfriend/best friend know how much they mean to them. Hopefully all of you reading this(myself included) will have many more today’s.  We really have no way of knowing though, do we?  So tonight I’m going to lift all of you up in prayer and leave you with a question or two.  If someone you love, reaches out and says, “hey lets work on this relationship” whether it be friendship, or some other kind of relationship, do you send them away hurting?  If today were your last day, would you leave here with people wondering what they mean to you?  Or would they think, “man, I really meant the world to him/her?”  

Tales of a Thursday afternoon disaster

The day was going pretty good, we had decided to work on the bedtime schedule and get the kids in their own beds and asleep by 9 pm.  Along came 9:05 and BOOM, it was like a magical unicorn blessed me with some kind of super power!  Both kids(SAY WHAT?) Yes both kids asleep by 9:05.  I crept out of the room and made a beeline for my bed.  I was laying there about 20 minutes or so when the crying started in the other room.  If I would stand in the doorway he’d close his eyes and sleep, but the moment I turned to walk away it was like a tiny banshee was living in our house.  Then finally, silence….

12:05 am- Here comes the cries from the other room again.  I jump up and go to the doorway.  I’m not kidding when I say I almost had a heart attack.  He was covered in red, which I immediately thought was blood.  About 5 seconds later when I heard the inhuman sounds coming from him, I realized he was just vomiting like the exorcist, no big deal.  I grabbed him and ran for the bathroom.  After a midnight bath, clean clothes, and a load of laundry we both made it to the couch.  Well I also had to shower after I got him settled, because I was covered in the vomit of Emily Rose.

So I’m pretty sure I slept maybe 30 minutes all night last night, but got up in time to get big sister to school, wash another load of bed clothes, and stop for sprite/pepto.  As I was leaving Walmart, I realized that my gallon of milk had busted in my cart.  Of course I’d already paid for it.  I returned the milk and headed for the car.  I thought ahh finally.  Now I’m in the car and I look in the mirror, I look more than  a little cray cray.  My hair is standing up because I ran out the door in a rush.  I didn’t even have time to change out of what I slept in.  I was contemplating how I literally had a 5 minute shower at 1 am and slept very little.  That’s when it hit me… I totally forgot to put on underwear with my shorts!

undies

I shook it off and headed home, so Frankie could go to the doctor. Meanwhile Cam miraculously recovered and was running around the house like a chimpanzee that had escaped from the zoo.  Afterwards, I headed to target to pick up his medicine.  It was going to be awhile, so of course I took a trip through the clearance.  About 5 minutes later and on the other side of the store, I look down at my cart.  I hadn’t put a single thing in it yet, but somehow it looked like a family of five had been shopping for school clothes and I was paying.  I’m still not sure how I managed to get my cart swapped with someone elses.

Somehow, miracle of miracles, I sold some insurance today!  Although when I went to get the leftover pizza out for lunch, I looked everywhere too…  Frankie just smiled because he had eaten it all and put the empty bowl back in the fridge.  I almost punched him square in the throat, but he was already feeling bad so I gave him a pass for today.   5:00 pm, after working and trying to recover from the trauma of last night, I headed out to pick up the kids!  I got big sister first, she informed me that she forgot to put on deodorant today because she has, and I quote, a runny nose.  I don’t even understand what one has to do with the other but I who am I to argue with her logic?  I pushed a strangers cart around target while wearing no underwear today.(I did buy the cashier at target a cake pop though!)  I threw in the towel and we had, in the words of the three year old, “HO cones for dinner!”  We really did have dinner too, just had dessert first.  Homework is done with no tears.  Now off to bed!!! Wish me luck….

hocone1