50 Memories

Tonight is my birthday eve – I will be the big 50 tomorrow, and I have no idea how 50 got here so quickly! I’m sure most of my high school classmates can agree with me that turning 50 in 2020 is…well let’s just say we have all agreed on a do-over in 2021 :). Rather than reflecting on the what-ifs tonight (mainly because I’ve done that for the last year already and it leads to nowhere good), I’ve decided to come up with my 50 best memories. I’m going to try to go in chronological order, but I may have to backtrack a time or two.

What are your earliest memories – it seems that everyone’s started at different ages, and it’s always funny to find out what people remember from their early childhood. Chuck, my husband, remembers lots of things from his early childhood…it always shocks his parents when he recalls things.

My earliest memories come from the house in Woodbridge, VA…we lived there until I was 3 or 4.

1. The house had a huge laundry room in the basement (well huge to a small child). Greg, my brother, and I used to love to play in there, especially in the little nook behind the washer and dryer. There seemed to always be toys in there from what I recall.  

2.  I had my own bedroom upstairs in this house, and I had the most awesome  kitchenette.  It was brown – I had a sink and refrigerator and stove.

3.  I remember when Aunt Glenys and Uncle EJ came to visit – mainly I just remember being on the swing-set in the backyard with my cousin Dean.  His favorite thing to say was Good Lord :).  He was always so happy and so much fun – he still is to this day.

4. This is an odd memory to me, but a memory nonetheless.  I remember being in the backyard with my brothers playing.  They had a basketball goal in the backyard.  They had worn out the grass from playing so much, so their court was all dirt.  I remember being freaked out because if they kept wearing away the dirt, the devil would pop up….after all, he lived down below.  I have no idea how I would come up with that at such a young age.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
 
That’s the gist of what I remember from that house and that time period.  We moved to Las Vegas, NV after we sold that house.  We lived there until I was 6 (actually had my 7th and favorite birthday to date in the car on the move to LaGrange, NC).

I said this was going to be 50 of my best memories, but I may have to include some that weren’t necessarily my favorites but still left an imprint on my brain.

5.   I went to Kindergarten and 1st grade in Las Vegas.  I didn’t particularly love school. I was painfully shy.  I became friends with a little girl named Carrie in school.  We used to walk to each other’s houses.  We lived on a military base (in the 70s) – completely safe back then or at least we all thought so.  

6.  One of my very best friends was named Sheila Evans.  We had the best time playing, and she lived right down the street.   Sheila’s dad took us ice skating one time (my first time ever).  I absolutely loved it!

7.  My dad took me outside one night after my bedtime, just the two of us, and we sat on the curb in front of our house and watched fireworks.   My daddy was the best!  (He’s also the one that gave me permission to go ice skating – see #6).

8.  After my dad would come home from work, he would sit in his recliner and have me come take off his cowboy boots.  I would straddle his foot and pull with all my might.

9.  This isn’t a pleasant memory, but I remember when Elvis died.  I remember laying in bed feeling a little scared – what if that happened to someone I loved.

10.  Another not so great memory – I was walking down the street by myself minding my business when a great big German Shepherd crossed the road (his owners were in the front yard with him).  The dog bit me 4 places on my back.  I went screaming home – I’m sure with the owner’s behind me….I don’t remember that part.  I just remember my mom driving me to the hospital.  I didn’t need stitches from what I recall…just got bandaged and a shot (probably tetanus).  I also got a cookie :).  To this day I’m scared of large dogs I don’t know…even though I want to adopt every dog I see.

11.  My mom had my haircut into a pixie (as you will see in this next picture).  I looked like a boy…and most people told my mom what a cute little boy I was…I’m surprised I ever had my hair short again, but truthfully, that’s how I like it the best.

12.  Refer back to pic in #11…Greg and I LOVED the ice cream truck.  We were both creatures of habit.  I always got the snow comb, and I always asked for one with blue in it.  I thought that was a special one…little did I know it was just where the colors bled together.  Greg always got the orange push up.

13.  I can’t remember exactly where this memory took place – it was either VA or NV.  Greg (my brother) found a bunch of toys still in their wrappers in my parents’ closet.  Naturally, we pulled them all out and began playing with them.  We didn’t even think to hide that we found them.  We were all excited showing them what we found.  My mom’s explanation was that Santa ran out of room on his sleigh so he dropped these off early for them to store.  We totally bought it – LOL.

14.  We moved to LaGrange NC when I was 7 (as I mentioned, I turned 7 in the car on the move).  My dad had retired from the military and was headed back to his roots.  My mom was staying in Las Vegas for 6 months to work out her government transfer, so it was just my dad and my 3 brothers (and of course, me).  We headed across the country in our green station wagon.  On my 7th birthday, my dad bought me a present at every stop (mainly gas stations :)….back then they had good stuff at gas stations.  Does anyone remember Stuckey’s?  I mainly got little baby dolls.  I also got a plastic Big Boy from Big Boys or was it Shoney’s back then…I can’t remember that part.  Anyway – it was the best birthday ever.  There is nothing like being doted on by your daddy.  Every little girl should be lucky enough to experience this.

15.  This is one of the memories I am backtracking on…this is another Las Vegas memory.  My dad had taken Greg and me to pick up my brothers (or one of them) from school.  It seems like they had basketball practice or something…anyway, my dad left Greg and me in the car while he went in.  All I remember is being scared that Big Foot was going to come out and get us.  Weird how I remember that, and weird that I was afraid Big Foot would kidnap us :).

16.  We are back to LaGrange now.  My aunt and uncle owned a fabric shop and grocery store in downtown LaGrange.  We lived with them when we first moved there.  My aunt made all of my clothes for school.  She was so sweet.  She let me pick out the fabrics and always made me a matching set (pants and shirt).

17.  We lived in a house out in the country – down a dirt road.  I have so many great memories from this house…I had to ride the school bus, and I HATED it.  It seemed like I was the first one picked up and the last to get home.   I remember the first time I got on the bus in the morning to go to school looking back at our front door and seeing my dad standing there behind the screen door making sure I made it on safely.  He watched the bus until we pulled away, and I watched him until we pulled away.  This memory is etched in my mind, and I’m so thankful for it!

18.  So those bus rides that I hated…I decided to take matters into my own hands one day.  I was in 2nd grade (just to give you a little insight into my crazy mindset – maybe stubborn is a better word or determined????)…anyway, I decided that I knew I could find my way to my aunt’s store downtown which was very close to my school, so I would just walk there and have my cousin Mike (whom I adored) just take me home.  I made it to the store just fine, but Mike was working and couldn’t take me home, so he called my dad to come get me.  Rutroh…actually, I really didn’t get into big trouble like I should have.  I think secretly my dad thought it was funny, however, I knew to NEVER EVER do it again.

19.  Same country house…it had the biggest, longest hallway ever (at least it seemed that way to a 7 year old).  I used to roller skate down that hallway all the time.  I have no idea when I found my love for skating (maybe at the ice rink in Las Vegas), but I still love it.

20.  Same country house….one night all of us kids were in my oldest brother’s room (Glen) sitting on his bed just chit chatting away, and I saw a mouse go into my other brother’s room (Barry).  I told Barry that I saw a mouse go into his room, but he didn’t believe me (supposedly).  When he went to bed that night, he took a machete, a vacuum cleaner, and whatever other tools he could find to use as a weapon.  This is when I learned to be afraid of mice!!!!

21.  After my mom arrived from Las Vegas, we (well my parents) bought a house in town and we moved.  We instantly became friends with all of our neighbors (mostly boys).  Greg and I spent many days and nights playing Spotlight, Dukes of Hazard (the neighbor’s house was the Boars Nest), catching lightning bugs, riding our bikes through corn fields and so many other wonderful things.

22.  Backtracking again…still in LaGrange, but before my mom had moved there.  One of my friends was having a birthday party.  Her name was Regina Johnson.  She must have given me an invitation with her address on it because we definitely found her house (Glen – my oldest brother – drove me there).  My dad had Glen take me to my aunt’s store to get Regina a present.  My aunt gave me a pretty glass jar filled with hard candy to take to her.  We drove up to Regina’s house and some man came out (her dad), and we told him that we were there for the party.  He told us the party had been canceled.  Regina came out and I gave her the present.  She was so happy that I came.  To this day she is my dearest friend :).  

23.  The house we lived at in town had a great big front porch on it with a swing.  The porch was made of concrete.  I used to take a radio out there and plug it in and turn it to the classical music station.  I would figure skate all over the porch…I even had my moves down to get around the swing.  It seems as though I had parties for one a lot…not pity parties…real parties.  I definitely entertained myself well!!

24.  Our neighbors owned a service station in town.  I used to love going down there with them.  They would always give us a bottle of cold Mountain Dew out of the boxed refrigerator.  I loved growing up in a small town.

25.  When we first moved to LaGrange, my dad and my aunt (his sister) took Greg and me to the ocean.  This was my first time seeing the ocean, and I was enamored.  I still am to this day…any ocean anywhere is my favorite place.

26.  When we first moved to NC my dad took us to visit all of the relatives…aunts, uncles, grandparents (his dad as his mom died when we lived in NV).  I loved seeing my Auntie (my mom’s only sister).    He also took us to visit his Aunt Bernice.  I didn’t remember her – I only remembered seeing pictures of her.  I was so confused when my dad told me that was Aunt Bernice.  I told him it wasn’t her…I found the picture that I recognized on their mantle and said THAT was Aunt Bernice (a much younger Aunt Bernice).  I remember my dad thinking that was funny…I’m not sure how he convinced me that it really was Aunt Bernice, but somehow he did.

27.  My dad managed a hotel at Topsail Beach in NC for a brief period.  I practically lived there that summer (I think it was only one but it may have been two).  We had nice living quarters there.  I used to go sit in the living room at night and play Barry Manilow loudly and sing from the top of my lungs.  I’m sure no one appreciated that, but no one made me shut up.  I still love Barry Manilow, and I love that I can remember my love of music from such an early age.

28.   That leads me to this memory (backtracking to Vegas).  My very first concert was at some Coliseum.  We saw Chicago.  How is that for an awesome first concert????  I still remember that we all dressed up.  I had on my orange Easter dress.  I was just dancing in my seat.  That was the most exciting thing ever!

29.  At the end of 3rd grade at Easter, my dad died of a massive heart attack.  I have a string of memories that aren’t particularly good which I’m not going to mention here.  His death sent me into a shell…one that took me years to come out of.  I am so thankful for him, and I’m so thankful that God used him to show me just what Godly love really is.  My dad loved me like no other.

30.  My mom used to take Greg and me on random road trips…mostly to SC to visit her family.  These trips were never planned.  She would just tell us to hop in the car and off we would go…usually getting back the same day very late at night.  I loved these trips….I adored getting to spend time alone with my mom on the road.  We would always stop for tiny cokes in the bottle and peanuts.  We were on one of these trips (always back country roads) when we heard that Reagan was shot.  I’ll never forget my mom’s reaction.  It scared me, and I was relieved that he didn’t die.

31.  I never cared much for school – I really didn’t do very well in school from what I recall.  It was somewhere I had to go and that was about it.  When I was in 7th grade I had a teacher who will remain nameless…this teacher chastised me in front of the entire class…basically saying I was stupid.  Of course I was humiliated…but more than that, I was mad, and I made a resolution at that moment that I would show her who was stupid.  From that point on I made straight As.  I also graduated 2nd in my high school class.  I had to study hard to get there…but it taught me that with hard work and determination, I could overcome anything and be anything I wanted to be.

32.  My mom enrolled me in modeling classes when I was 15.  I modeled until I was 19…even went to NY to visit agencies.  I loved it, and it definitely got me out of my shell.  I’m thankful for those days…I learned how to take care of my skin at a young age and also how to have good posture (most of the time :)).

33.  I loved anytime when I could be with all of my brothers at the same time (well in high school probably).  Glen (my oldest brother) was 17 when my dad died, so he became a father figure to me.  I used to go sit in his lap in the recliner at night  when he watched TV.  He was always the one I ran to when I was upset.  He was another special gift from God to me.  I don’t know how I would have survived my childhood without him.

34.  My cousin, Kris, introduced me to Duran Duran when I was 14ish.  I fell in love with John Taylor.  I just knew he would would be my husband one day :).  My walls were so plastered with posters of them that you couldn’t figure out what color the paint was.

35.  My first real boyfriend looked like John Taylor.  He worked at the toy store in the mall (K&B I believe).  My mom would drop me off at the mall after modeling class, and I would go to the toy store and buy something (“for my brother”).  To my surprise, he asked me out.  We dated for a year or something close to that.  He was 3 years older than me.  I was 15 and he was 18.  He was the best first boyfriend.  He was always a perfect gentleman.  I got my heart broken by him, but I’m so thankful for him and totally see how God had his hand on me in that relationship.

36.  At the Academic Banquet my senior year in high school, I was named our class Salutatorian.  My mom and Glen were there.  I was so excited and so proud that my hard work had paid off.

37.   At our awards day just before graduation, I had won so many things…not to brag here…I was as shocked as anyone…it was so nice to be recognized for achieving something.

38.  I loved High School…I’m sure I had heart breaking moments as everyone did, but I remember those days as fun.  I had the best classmates.  I loved going to a country high school and growing up in a small town near the coast.  I loved being so full of hope.

39.  College…whew…I loved my 4 years at ECU.  I think somewhere in those 4 years I lost my naivety.  I made great friends that I will always cherish.  It’s funny how we think we have it so hard in school….then the real world sets in.

40.  I moved to Dallas, TX when I was 25 after going through some trying times (trying to keep it positive here).  I moved in with my brother, Barry.  I loved moving to Dallas.  It was scary and exciting.  I was definitely a small town girl, so it was a BIG change.  My sweet friend, Michelle, flew out to Dallas with me when I first moved to spend time with me there and help me get settled.  I don’t think she knows just how much I appreciated that (and just how much I needed it).

41.  This is not going to sound positive, but shortly after I moved to TX I was in a car wreck and broke my neck.  The trauma of it was not pleasant, but I learned a lot during that time.  My brother was the best, and so was his girlfriend (who is now his wife of many years).  They really took care of me while I recovered.  Barry would wash my hair for me in the sink (I had a halo brace and couldn’t shower).  Karen invited me to her mom’s for Christmas.  Her family all bought me Christmas presents (even her grandmother) and acted like I should have been there all along.  These are sweet things that touch your heart for a lifetime.

42.  Those Texas years were some of the best.  I learned to Two Step and Jitterbug, and I learned that even at country bars, they took breaks for disco :).  Karen (my SIL) and I got together every week to watch Melrose Place.  I would always cook dinner (and always included potatoes of some sort – we both loved them).  I met a lot of great people there and will always have fond memories of TX.

43.  I regress way back to when my father died for this one….I had nightmares and fear after he died.  My mom told me I should sleep with a Bible under my pillow.  I walked to the drug store and bought a red Bible.  I slept with it under my pillow until I was out of high school.  I remember my mom being scared after my dad died…this was the first time I remember hearing about the Lord.  She told Greg and me that the Good Lord would take care of us.  I got saved when I was 10 at a church camp I had gone to with my childhood friend, Angie.  The camp was called The Wilds.  I stayed active in youth groups and used to walk to church as a child.  I know looking back that God always had his hand on me.  

44.  After years of battling depression I gave my whole life to Jesus when I was 33.  I had been running from Him for a long time because I didn’t deem myself worthy of Him after a bad decision I made in college.  I had gone to church with Glen and his wife, Eileen this particular day when I was 33.  My depression didn’t go away at once, but hope certainly appeared at once, and slowly I became whole again because of the love of Jesus.

45.  I had moved to GA when I was 31.  I had no intention of staying…was just passing through on my way to NC…or so I thought.  I met Chuck (my husband) at church.  After lots of bad relationships, I had prayed for God to arrange my marriage.  Along came Chuck, and here we are 15 years later.

46.  My wedding day will always be one of my favorite memories.  We got married on July 23, 2005.  It was an outdoor, morning wedding at Lake Hartwell, SC.  There was a 0% chance of rain that day…that never happens.  I felt the peace and love of God the entire day.  I was so happy!  It was the perfect wedding for us, and Chuck has been the perfect gift from God for me.

47.  When I was in college, I became friends with one of the most fun people ever.  Her name is Kim.  We used to sing and dance and reenact Grease.  We would go to Cubbies for cheesesteaks every week after Biology Lab.  She will always be a forever friend that is dear to my heart.  She taught me the unconditional love of a friend.

48.  When Chuck and I were engaged, I told him every bad, sinful thing I had ever done.  I didn’t want the devil to ever be able to use any of that against me in our relationship.  Chuck told me none of that mattered and that he loved me – all of me. He taught me the unconditional love of a husband.  The impact he has had on my heart is indescribable.

49.  I’m grasping at straws here…but how can I not mention all of the animals I have had and loved?  I’m not going to name names, but I have loved them all too much as I say.  

50.  I’ll end on this note…not with a memory but hope for all of the years God has left for me….a hope that I will leave my heart on everything and everyone that I touch…I say my heart because my heart is filled with the love of Jesus, and He has captured my heart for all of time!  That would be the greatest gift of all!

 

And confusion sets in

By the time my mind gets to this point it means that I have prayed and prayed and processed and processed and then gotten so busy with life that my head is completely jumbled. This is when I know the enemy has set in. I’m now trying to sort out my brain and heart which is easiest to do for me by writing.

The heart of the matter – or in this case – the head of the matter is that I have no clue what my worth is….yes, in my head I know what my worth is but that counts as nothing if I don’t know it in my heart – my heart comes up empty. My heart keeps my head downtrodden as if in shame, completely rejected. I’ve projected all of my life’s rejections onto God (and there are countless rejections (family, best friends, close relatives, bosses). Basically people have let me hang around to serve them but I never really felt wanted. This may be the truth or it may not be, but this is my perception, so it is my truth. My other truth (because it has been told to me countless times) is that I should always let everyone treat me like crap because after all – they are more important than me. If you hear a little anger and bitterness, yes it is definitely there….but moreso, my heart is just crushed…and I let the same people crush it again and again and again. I desperately need God to show me my worth – I need Him to show me how He sees me. That is the only thing that will heal this rejection I feel – and at this point I think most of it is me rejecting myself because of all of the lies I have believed.

My other great struggle is trusting God to take care of my babies (furry babies Baxter & Eddie). I have this gripping fear that something will happen to them in my absence and they will be alone and afraid. I project this on them because this is how I felt when my dad died – alone and afraid. The fear of this cripples me. This isn’t healthy and it isn’t from God. I know in my heart that they will be ok and that I will be ok too, but my heart is so scarred. I always say I love them too much – the thought of anything happening to them is unbearable…yet it is inevitable. I assure you that I know how irrational this sounds – that is how all deep wounds come across – as irrational There’s a pocket of my heart that is still so wounded and traumatized. There is clearly a feeling from my past that desperately cripples me with fear…I know it is the fear of losing someone I love when my whole heart is invested in them. I’ve repressed so many memories after my father died…He died in April of 1979 – I was in the 3rd grade. I honestly don’t remember much from the funeral all the way to 4th grade starting. I have no recollection at all….it’s like I went off the grid.

My prayer is that God will show me He delights in me…He adores me. My prayer is that God shows me He will take care of my babies in my absence and they nor I will ever feel that crippling fear of loneliness and lifelessness again.

I know that God is doing a great work in my heart and He will heal these things in His timing. I truly hope it is very soon!

Mid-Life Crisis

This title kind of makes me giggle, yet I’m very serious about the topic…I’m 49 – I will definitely have a long life if I’m mid-life right now (and I hope I do).

I haven’t struggled with any age in the past – I’ve embraced each decade with vigor and an appreciation for my wisdom. For some reason 49 has really bothered me. I wondered if 50 might bother me, and I’ll let you know when I get there…but I never expected to feel this way at 49.

I’m not having a mid-life crisis in the normal sense….or maybe it is only men that buy sports cars…I did color my hair platinum blonde a year+ ago (not my best idea)…maybe that was part of this crisis…

In all seriousness – my crisis is more about feeling like my life hasn’t had meaning and purpose. I know I have a God given purpose, but I surely don’t feel like I’ve been progressing towards that. I’ve truly been so buried in work for the past year and several months that I have totally lost sight of my purpose…mainly meaning I haven’t had the emotional bandwidth to write or pray like I should…I haven’t spent time with Jesus like I should….mainly because that is so emotional for me (the best kind of emotional ever), and I think subconsciously I knew if I stopped and crawled into His arms, that would be all she wrote…I couldn’t lose sight of all of my other obligations, so instead I lost sight of my first Love and myself.

I’m starting to come up for air now as the holidays approach. I have more staff to help me and more on the way, so I hope to end 49 with accomplishments that speak to my heart and point to Jesus! I’m trying to give more things to God rather than continuing to tightly grasp everything and plunge forward like a stick of dynamite is chasing me.

My heart is for ministry, and that is my long term goal and how I want my life to end. Jesus presses on my heart that the “sick need a doctor”. People that are unsaved need to know Jesus…but it doesn’t end there…that is truly the beginning of a different race – the race to know ourselves in Jesus – the race to know who we truly are underneath all of the false identities that life has thrown at us – and that we so easily picked up and carried. I want to be the one to nurture people back to health – spiritual and emotional health. I want people to be free and light and airy – to walk through this life in the glory of who God created them to be – free to fulfill their very own purpose.

I heard somewhere this week that God created each of us with something that is unique to only Him and us – that each of us resemble Him in our own special way. I don’t know if this is true – but what if it is…that would be something!

To end – I heard this scripture Sunday in church, and it brought my heart back to life – the medicine I needed for this mid-life crisis of mine…Job 42:12 “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part”. There is hope – there is time – everything has and will happen right on time – in His perfect timing.

Empty

This is a boring title…but it is so full of depth and emotions. I could have called it depleted…same thing – both are how I feel…empty and depleted. This has been a long time coming…but I’ve only now in this moment had the chance to let myself sit still and cry and let these feelings come rushing out. I’ve held them in for so long, I almost don’t know how to let them escape. I’ve been struggling with depression for the past month or maybe more…mainly because I have been giving absolutely everything I have to everyone else…making sure everyone else had their needs met…I have given away all of my time and all of my attention, and I left none for myself…this is a big no-no for an introvert. It has led me to this place…the place of absolute emptiness. I’ve been shielding this emotional breakdown for so long that I don’t even know how to stop and let Jesus come in and take over…such a foreign place for me. I know I’ve intentionally kept him just on the outskirts of my heart because His love always touches me, and I just didn’t have time to break down and fall in His arms. I’m at such a low place, and I know Jesus will pick me up, cradle me, love me and set me on the right path…and I’m ready to let Him. In my own mind I have no idea what that path looks like…there is no path that is appealing to me except for the path that leads to Him. I feel so far gone that I don’t even know what makes me excited – what makes me happy – what fills me with joy. I pray that He will show me…as I re-learn how to take time for myself.

I could go into all of my disappointments in life and how I never thought I would be where I am…but that seems pointless and wasteful. The past is the past. It has taught me much. I long for a future in which my past makes sense…I long for a moment in which I let it all go…my disappointments, my heartbreaks, my what-ifs…maybe now needs to be that moment…where I lay it all at the feet of my greatest Love, Jesus! All of these things are a puddle at His feet…and in the puddle I see a reflection of myself hand in hand with Him. I gaze into His loving eyes and I am full. I am complete. I am everything I need to be.

Seeds – deeply buried in my soul

Walter Archie Carter 1/6/1938-4/12/1979

Seeds of love, seeds of beauty, seeds of wholeness, seeds of your voice, seeds of your adoration, seeds of your delight…you’ve instilled in me all of these things…enough for them to last my lifetime without you being here with me…you’ve instilled these things in me so that I would be able to love with my whole heart and give away all of the beautiful things that you have given to me. No one should feel alone. No one should feel hopeless. No one should feel sad. No one should feel empty. That isn’t what was or is meant to be.

Yet I’ve carried this stillness filled with emptiness for all of these years – 40 to be exact…it was only today that I realized that I feel loved in portions but not in whole. That’s not the truth. The truth is that in 8 short years, you gave me EVERYTHING – all of your heart, all of your love, and it is only today that I find all of those things buried in my soul…those seeds have blossomed but I couldn’t see the blooms until today.

No more emptiness. No more deep sadness. Only a beautiful field covered in sunlight with a brightness and fragrance that would take anyone’s breath away. You were my gift, and you will always be my gift! I miss you so much and love you even more than you could ever fathom…even after 40 years of not being with you! Loving you with all that I am – for eternity!

Boundaries – the key to freedom

Boundaries/Margins/Limits are probably things I’m going to be writing about for a few weeks.   I’m so blown away by the things God is imparting into my heart on this topic…I’m also so thankful for these simple, yet life altering, revelations.

I’ve always been someone that doesn’t rest well…I’ve never been good at being idle.  I’ve been programmed to feel (through life wounds and experiences) that if I’m idle, the ‘other shoe’ might drop and cause catastrophe in my life.  I’ve felt that if I’m on top of things (controlling my environment and the things I can control) I will bounce back more easily when something I can’t control goes wrong.  Can anyone else relate to this?

Priscilla Shirer in “Breathe” commented that in a sociological study when group A kids were given a playground with no fence or borders, they stayed bunched up together and didn’t venture out.  When group B kids were given a playground with fences, they combed every piece of the area, explored and had a great time.  This is how we should view boundaries…boundaries give us the freedom to explore knowing we are safe within our limits.  We won’t be consumed and get off track.  This is such a huge revelation to me.  

I’m learning that I don’t have to do everything TODAY.  I’m trying to define limits for myself around work and even home chores.  I’m learning that no chaos will ensue if I leave a few things undone that can be done tomorrow or later in the week or whenever.  God is giving me peace through showing me how to set limits…otherwise, I have no limits and I exhaust myself…never stopping because there is always something to be done.  It brings me so much joy to realize that work can stop when I determine work can stop…it leaves me time to do the things that are in my heart to do – the things that bring me true joy and fulfillment (going about my Father’s business, spending time with Jesus, praying for others, being in the Word, filling my Spirit) and various other things that I never allow myself enough time to do because I have been so busy trying to do all of the un-fun stuff that I thought was necessary.

I find that I’m excited when I get home from work because I’m going to take time just for myself – to do the things that make my heart dance.  It’s amazing.  I’m realizing that the things I leave on the table undone will still be there tomorrow…I’m realizing that if Jesus could feed the multitudes on a few loaves of bread, He will also give me the freedom to walk within my limits and still get everything done in time.

I’m thoroughly enjoying this newfound freedom and the peace and joy that come with it.  If you are like me and have struggled in these areas (taking time for rest/setting boundaries), please buy this book by Priscilla.  God is changing my life through it.  This GIFT of boundaries is for all of us, and it truly is a gift.  The sabbath was a gift to teach us how to not be in bondage or enslaved to others or things of this world.  The Sabbath is a “loving, gracious gift that would break the chains that remained inside of them” (the Israelites and their mindsets of being enslaved as it was all they ever knew).  That gets me excited and is a gift I wholeheartedly am receiving.

Sabbath – old school or necessary?

I just started a Bible study by Priscilla Shirer – Breathe.  It’s about making room for sabbath in all areas of your life.  It’s really not about taking Sunday off…it’s about setting margins for things in your life…think of margins as boundaries or self-contained units.  I love that Priscilla likens boundaries or margins to a fire-pit…a self-contained area meant to be enjoyed.  This has helped me so much – I struggle with work-life balance.  I can’t rest when there are things to be done (and there are always things to be done)…and when I say rest – it means my soul just doesn’t know how to be still.  I’m learning to set work boundaries once I get home…I’m realizing it’s imperative to my well-being.  

I love that Priscilla talks about how on the 7th day, God CREATED rest – He created tranquility and serenity…it’s meant to complete us.  I LOVE that…it’s not something we are meant to do (rest that it is)….it’s something that is meant to complete us – without it we aren’t complete.  That certainly explains a lot in my life.

For the first time ever I’m learning to rest – I’m learning to quiet my soul and mind and just be infiltrated with peace, tranquility and serenity.  It feels awesome so far…but I’m definitely a big work in progress :).  

More to come on this later as I progress in this study…but it reminds me of something my dear friend, Kim Strong, says – Peace must be our operating system.  That is so true, and without rest it is impossible.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Unknown

Who do you say I am….

Breathtaking, Beautiful, Truth, Peace, King, Lover of my soul, Brilliant, Amazing, The Word, Counselor, Son of God, Grace, Honesty, Purity, Gentle, Passionate, Consuming, Overwhelming, Magnificent, Splendor, Loving, Forgiving, Healer, Overcomer, Victorious, Strength, Shield, Protector, Encourager, Living Water, Refresher, Restorer, Redeemer, Deliverer, The Christ, Lord, Savior, Love, Courage, Wealth, Song, Eternal, Everlasting, Alpha, Omega, Present, Gift, Freedom, Compassionate, Warm, Loving, Dances with me, Warrior, Prayer, Interceder, Defeater, Far-stretched, Hope, Intimacy, Foundation, Rock, Salvation, Resurrection, Worthy, Everlasting, Beginning and End, Elegant, Sweet, Pursuer, Mercy, Truth, The Way, Life, Fun, Happy, Pleased, Beaming, Laughter, Tears, Doctor, Sword, Priest, Teacher, My Heart, Tender

I say You are the Christ! You are the one and only Son of God! You are My Lord & Savior! You are my life!

Remorse

Remorse = deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed.

 

I turned on the TV yesterday afternoon and was very disappointed to find the OJ parole hearing.  I honestly didn’t know the full story of why he went to prison.  I honestly didn’t care either.  I never followed the first trial even though the media saturated us with every detail of it all of those years ago.  I, like most others, assumed he was guilty of murder.  It was very sad.  I was so very sad for his kids, for the families of Nicole and Ron, and even for OJ if he was, indeed, guilty.  How do you get so possessed that you commit murder of someone you supposedly love so much?  Anyway, I digress.

I found myself getting sucked into the parole hearing…which was so strange for me.  It was stressed that OJ needed to show remorse…that would be the most important deciding factor.  Did I see remorse in him – not really…then again it was made clear that he and the victim of that crime in Las Vegas had made peace with each other and forgiven each other years ago.  Truly some time ago OJ must have shown him that he was remorseful.  The love this man showed for OJ at the hearing was deep and genuine.  How can you show so much love for someone that hurt you so deeply if they aren’t truly sorry?

I found myself hoping that OJ would be paroled.  I found myself praying for this man – praying for God’s will to be done.  I felt kind of guilty hoping for parole knowing how much pain this man allegedly caused so many.  While I didn’t see remorse, I did see humility and vulnerability.  That is what pulled at my heart strings.  Here is this 70 year old man that was larger than life while in his prime…a man that was loved by so many.  I love someone that can be vulnerable in front of others…someone that is humbled by knowing his fate lies in the hands of others and he has no control over what they decide and must live with their decision – right or wrong.  I loved the happiness – the deep happiness I saw in his eyes when the decision was made for parole.  OJ mentioned that he was doing bible study while in prison and wanted to be a better Christian.  I truly pray that he will give his entire life to God…that Jesus will truly be his Lord and Savior.  I know that very often my heart is bigger than my head – as it was in this case.  I often want to believe that people will choose to be who God calls them to be…that they will be good and noble.

Over the last 24 hours I have been reflecting on this case…still feeling strange about how this parole hearing made me feel – how it opened my heart to someone that in my head had done so much that was wrong, yet I so wanted him to have a chance at life – a chance to be with his family and friends – a chance to show that he is reformed – a chance to be a huge witness for Jesus.  I still pray for all of those chances for him…I hope in my heart of hearts that yesterday wasn’t an act…I hope in my heart of hearts that I wasn’t fooled by him.

On to what the real heart of this matter is – as it truly isn’t OJ or his parole.  The real heart of the matter is remorse.  I’ve been struggling for years with particular relationships…relationships that caused very deep wounds.  I chose to do the Godly thing and forgive…I didn’t always forgive right away.  Sometimes it took a good couple of years and a lot of prayer.  Sometimes I opened my heart back up to these people that hurt me – other times I knew it was time to walk away.   What I found the times I chose not to walk away is that nothing really changed – people continued to hurt me over and over again.  I’ve prayed through the years for Jesus to teach me how to have a relationship with these people.  I finally realized this morning that it’s not possible.  What this case has taught me is that without remorse, the attacker will never be a safe place.  Convicts aren’t safe for society and will commit the same crimes again and again.  People that attack will continue to attack and hurt others over and over again – they will never be a safe place.  They are their own idols – they are more important to themselves than anyone else.  As sad as it is, you will either have to walk away or continuously guard your heart.  It feels like death when there is no remorse – like a funeral.  It hurts.  It’s important to forgive, but without remorse we can’t move forward in the same way.  You have to remove people from the places in your heart that you have let them reside.

Hallelujah Moments

Untitled design

This is one of those posts that makes my heart weighted.  I’ve had it saved as a draft for several days because I knew I needed to have the emotional capacity to write it…not so much because it’s painful to write, but more so because this Hallelujah Moment I refer to is so pivotal – at least it was for me.  Maybe not everyone has one of these moments…maybe that’s something to be thankful for…each of our journeys is different because we are all unique with a unique purpose.  I love reflecting on this moment in my life – not the painful thing that caused it, but rather the raw and vulnerable moment with God that brought me to my knees at His feet in tears…my Mary of Bethany moment (John 12:3).

Have you ever experienced something in your life that makes you feel like your choices  altered the course of it and even altered your heart to the very core?  I’ve already blogged about that particular incident in my life (Buried But Never Forgotten), so I won’t rehash all of those details.  My hallelujah moment was many years later after much healing – after so many layers had been peeled back, and I was finally able to see the truth.  It was in that moment that I broke down into hysterical tears and wept and wept and wept…the beauty of it was that I wept at the feet of my Savior and my greatest Love while He stroked my hair.  I was finally able to look at Him and tell Him how sorry I was that I ran from Him because of shame instead of running to Him to make it right.  I felt like I had turned my back on not just myself and my values, but like I had forsaken Him and let Him down beyond repair.  It was a clear plot of Satan, as it usually is…he feels threatened so he tries his hardest to separate us from God…but those that love God with the deepest love can always find their way back to Him.  He is always there waiting with the most tender eyes and  loving arms – no anger just enormous love.

It was so freeing for me to tell Him how sorry I was for breaking His heart – it was so freeing for me to tell Him how heartbroken I was.  It was the most beautiful, healing moment.  I think the most healing thing of all was standing on the truth, cradled in His arms, reveling in His love…our hearts united at the deepest level knowing that they could never be pulled apart again.  Do you know how much our heavenly Father adores it when we go running to Him full speed ahead, unstoppable until we are in His arms?  He longs for that.  He longs for us to shower Him with our love.  Our love makes His eyes dance.  Our love makes His heart sing.  There is no moment that can possibly be more intimate.  This hallelujah moment puts you back on course – leaving that thing that took you off course at the foot of the cross while you take your Love’s hand and continue your resurrection journey.

There are several references to this hallelujah moment in the Bible – the two that stand out to me the most are Samson and David. It was the story of Samson that made me have this revelation…how he lost his power when he let Delilah shave his head(Judges 16:18).  My power was my heart and being able to love without abandon…I let someone take that from me, and it was indeed heartbreaking and had lots of consequences, but it didn’t make God love me any less – and in the end it made me love Him so much more.  My favorite hallelujah moment in the Bible was when David realized that he had sinned against the Lord with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12).  I love David’s heart.  I’ve always loved his heart!  He loved God so much!  He was so quick, once he recognized the truth, to fall on his knees and weep before the Lord for betraying Him.

I pray that if you have something in your life that altered your heart, you will have your very own hallelujah moment – I pray you will find Him because He is waiting for you with more love than you could ever fathom.  I pray that this moment will set you back on course to experience life in your rightful place – you are His Beloved – Prince/Princess – Son/Daughter of a King.  You were created for a wonderful and significant purpose – it’s time to walk in that while your proud Daddy’s heart beats in tune with yours to the melody of His love!