Archibald Family

Archibald Family

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas In An Empty Nest

My life has been so empty.  It seems so fitting.  I mean we move two thousand miles into a life we have once known, but don't seem to know anymore.  Two of our chickadees have flown the nest.  The third is graduating early and getting ready to fly herself.  I haven't been able to find what my next step is.  And to top it off ... there is no snow.  

Transitions are hard.  And a few transitions at the same time are extremely hard.

I have tried to remain close to God.  But I can't seem to find how to do that.  I experience God in so many ways, and all those ways are affected by all this transition stuff.  My belief in God hasn't wavered.  But my joy seems to be far far away.  

It hasn't helped that we haven't found a church to call home.  One we are completely attached to, embraced by and find our family through.  It takes time.  

I have always found some of my belonging through my job, because each job I have held God has sent me to.  Currently, God has put me in a time of "rest" and I'm trying to embrace exactly what that means.  And I'm trying hard to trust.  So in the meantime I'm there for Courtney, and being a supportive wife to Duane.

But there seems to be a lie that hovers over me too.  "I have no purpose anymore."  "God can't use me anymore, what I came to do is done.  So I'm done."  Before you give me your advice and tell me that it is a lie from the enemy.  I know!  But let me explain something to you.  Life as I have known for the last decade is now in a new place.  Life as I have known for the past twenty-two years and have poured every last ounce of everything I am into is now coming to an end.  I'm going around the house, not having a mess to clean up after, not having someone to drive, not having drama to walk anyone through and trying to find what I have now to do.  And I just hear "rest".  And for me it is almost like hearing ... "You're done."  

And it hurts.  It's lonely.  I feel as if I'm walking in a cloud.  And I'm lost.

And with every thing I have left I hold onto the truth I know.  That God hears my tears.  He sees my pain.  And his hand is over me as I wonder.  I hold onto hope that God will pull me out of this pit that seems to get larger and larger.

And to add salt in the wound ... it's Christmas.  A time of great joy, arising hope, peace to reign and love to come.  It's what I believe and what I know to be true.  Yet my feelings aren't experiencing what my belief knows.  

And yet God sees.

In the midst of service, I handed over my aching heart, and all the tears.  And in exchange God handed over a baby He sent over 2000 years ago.  And He entrusts me with him.  My hands that were once empty are filled with life once again.  

What does this mean?  I don't know exactly.  But I know that this Christmas I have a baby to hold onto, one to love, one to pour myself into.  One that I can find my purpose in.  One that will complete me.  

Happy Birthday Jesus.  Thank you for life restored through your coming!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Things We Can Learn From Noah

The past two days I have been pondering about what I can learn from Noah, or what God would like me to gain in the scriptures of Noah and the flood.  I have read, reread and just pondered (Genesis 6:9 - Genesis 9:17).  I have some thoughts, nothing profound, some things rehashed ... but the things I've been pondering.

1.  Genesis 6: 8-9  Because Noah was righteous, found favor with God and was blameless among the people, he was given protection and frankly, his life.  This isn't a huge insight.  I believe we all have this.  We all have the opportunity each day to be made righteous, and find favor with God.  He desires to protect us and give us life that He created in us.

2. Genesis 6:22, 7:5   I watched Evan Almighty the other day, because this Bible story was so fresh on my mind.  I had a little chuckle.  It isn't accurate at all, but defiantly entertaining.  However, it gave me a fresh perspective on how the people had to have been ridiculing Noah.  What he was building wasn't something that could be hidden, but something big that had to be seen from his surrounding neighbors and even towns.  People had to wonder, had to have questioned and had to have laughed at him.  But Noah continued on.
     There have been countless times that I believe God has laid something on my heart, or I heard his voice giving me direction or have seen something that could only come from Him.  And within minutes after, I'm questioning if I heard it right.  It doesn't say that Noah questioned, it says that he was righteous and had favor with God, blameless with the people.  Because God said it, he didn't question but just did as he was told, whether he was the laughing stock of the town or not.  I could think of a recent event, where God laid something on my heart to do, and in doing so it made me stop what I was doing and pause to meet the deadline I was up against, it also caused a little extra from my pocketbook, and it caused me to stop and be kind to a complete stranger.  All three I was having difficulty with, but mostly I was complaining that God would make me stop and do.  I wish I approached that incident differently, and I wish my heart was like Noah ... obedient.  Obedience brings favor.

3. Genesis 7:16b   I hadn't really noticed before.  But Noah didn't have to figure out how to shut the door, or when to shut it.  God saw that Noah did all that He had asked and closed the door for him.  God sealed his promise of protection to Noah.  God put a physical divider between the outside world and it's taunts and questions of doubt from His promise, favor and protection.  Noah stood on the right side of the door!

4.  I can't help but be jealous of the worship Noah had to have had on that ark!  We each are different.  We all experience the worship of God in our unique ways.  Nature is one of those ways.  My husband likes to hike, and I have joined in and have experienced God that way.  I have spent times at the beach encountering the love of God there.  But many times I simply go to the zoo.  To see all the different animals, and see the creativity our God has, it amazes me every time.  Noah had much time to be in the creativity of God.

5.  Genesis 8:1, 9:15  I often wonder what God thought of all the rest of the people.  I thought he was focused on Noah and those on the ark.  But it says "But God remembered".  I can't help but get a picture of God drifting his mind off to the store keeper down the street, the family across the bay and even the animals asleep in the trees.  I get this overwhelming sense that this act wasn't easy for God, but something He had to do:  almost like an artist not pleased with his painting and washing it clean to start over.  That is what God was doing, and I can't help but sense God was saddened of destroying the work He put into it the first time around.  Because scripture used the word "remembered", it was like God directed His mind to the current place and that was with Noah.  And it was used again later when God sees the rainbow.  We've always viewed it as our remembrance of the time of Noah and God's promise ... but I see today it was His remembrance too.  His remembrance tells me of the heart of God, he was grieving, and will remember the past in the midst of creating the future.

I love God's heart!  The more we read, the more we find of the God we serve.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Still Learning

I'm still camped out in Genesis 6.  I just don't feel led to move on quite yet, yet I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to see.

I reread the chapter, remembered what I just wrote about the other day and thought about the events of yesterday and the day before.  Monday I woke, dreading the day as it was the day I dreaded for ... you could read about it in the previous post.  I still didn't do much that day, as I just don't know exactly how to grasp this new way of life.  Yesterday a very important matter needed to be tended to, and I went with my husband to complete the task.  Then I asked if he would go with me to the Farmer's market and I would drive him to work, then I proceeded to go visit my parents.  I came home, Duane was home.  I look back at yesterday and see that yes there were matters that had to take place, and even matters that I brought God with me into.  However, I still avoided being in the silence and even the opportunity to look at Him face to face in our home.

It's hard to articulate.  I did nothing "wrong".  But I can't help but look at these verses and ponder.

God made us to need companionship, as He made Eve for Adam.  It is natural to want to be with one another, to have company and conversations.  But I am reminded of just three chapters back when God was walking with the two in the garden.  Why am I still avoiding the quiet?  I could be walking with God in the solitude of our own home!

So today I sit.  I have my time with Him.  I have my music playing in the background, and one of the first songs is "I Am Not Alone" and I shout it at the top of my lungs.  It was a promise that came over me.  I felt a smile fall upon me.  I was experienced strength in the promise as I fought off a lie that was captivating me to avoid our new home.  And peace came to stay.  The music remains.  But something seems a little different today, I'm welcoming the opportunity of silence, and hoping God will come walk with me today.

God found favor with Noah.  I hope God finds favor with me today too.  And finds this home welcoming Him in, with me greeting Him at the doorway.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Flood

Genesis 6
The Flood

I have been away the past ten days, as I have been working in Colorado.  And in the midst of work I have the privilege and joy to see my girls.  I brought the youngest with me, so it was a real treat for the four of us girls to sit and have dinner ... laugh and have heart to hearts.  Its what I live for, it is my favorite thing.  

I love my husband too.  I knew Colorado wasn't home anymore when I was there, and I longed to be in Duane's arms.  And the moment I stepped off the plane into his arms, it felt right.  This too is my favorite thing.  

Today life goes on ... and it feels like it has forgotten about me.  My girls are in Colorado doing their thing, finding their way in life - very well, I might add, and Duane is off at work doing his thing.  I sit here in the quiet of the house, wondering what my thing is.  And it feels like a flood of emotions are washing over me.  Today is the day I have feared.  It is the day there isn't a box to unpack.  It is the day things are just about settled.  It is the day that is full of quiet.  It is the day I am alone - and I don't know what to do.  

Some may welcome such a day, perhaps others may understand.  But today marks a very important shift in my life ... where I see an empty nest, and the life I once knew is no longer.  "Now what?" rattles in my mind all the way deep to the core of me.  Tears flow so easy.  And a sense of lostness feels like a warm blanket.  

Today I opened my Bible, hoping there was a new light, a new prayer, a new connection with God.  I continue to pray a little whimper just pleading God will help me through this time and comfort me.

"The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.  So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth-men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air-for I am grieved that I have made them.  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."
Genesis 6:6-8

I always believed that God and His wrath wiped out the earth.  But today I see it was with great sadness, He was at a loss and was grieving.  

I often sit and wonder if God understands the sorrow I am currently experiencing.  If He thinks it is silly, or unnecessary.  I often wonder what I am to do with the heaviness I experience, and hope that He is there to carry it.  We know God is big enough, but does He understand ... does He get what exactly I am going through.  Today I see the truth.

Now my girls are doing what they are suppose to be doing.  Finding their ways and moving forward in their lives.  They have reached the step that we have dreamed about since they could start dreaming and expressing themselves.  We have arrived.  Yet, now they move forward and I have let go of their hands.  They are walking by themselves.  We aren't connecting at the dinner table anymore, running out the door and shouting where they are off to, coming home at the wee hours of the night and coming into our bedroom expressing their woes of the day.  I don't hear their laughter, nor their tears.  I don't get to see what the details of their days look like anymore.  And with each passing day the phone gets quieter, emails are seldom ... and a matter of fact, it is usually me that reaches out first.  But again, this is normal.  This is what is and what is to be expected.  Yet it saddens me.  

And it saddens God.  It saddens God when we turn ourselves away from Him, doing things on our own.  We think we can go onto the next few steps without His help, guidance or just us "checking in".    We walk by ourselves.  The prayers that were once habits and even rituals are now seldom and far between, God's ears are getting quieter.  The prayer journal that once was filled quickly and fully is becoming slower to fill.  And it is usually God that reaches out first ... but then I can't help but wonder - do I even notice?  

Yes, God sent the flood because wickedness filled the earth.  Our own selfish desires filled the earth.  Our own lusts and ways.  But it is also clear that these things became what filled all of our days, and we turned against God - and just spending time with Him that He so longs for.  

I want to be like Noah!  I want God to find favor in me - I want Him to find me as a righteous woman, blameless and that everyone sees that I walk with God.  (Genesis 6:9)  And even though I'm still experiencing a flood of emotions these days, and seeing the tears fall, I want God to still see me and be pleased.  It is the ultimate cry of my heart.  So today I write, today I sit and take the time in study and learn more of Him, and today I will reach out to Him for help along this transition - and know that His heart totally gets what I'm going through today.  

And may He send a flood today.  He promised us that He will never flood the earth again and destroy it.  But may He send a flood of His presence over me today, and may I have the wisdom to see Him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Likeness of God

When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  He created them male and female and blessed them.
Genesis 5:1b-2a

How many of us have self image issues?  I know I do.  I have hurt my husband a numerous account when he has told me how beautiful I am, and I gave him an eye-roll and walked away - rejecting the words of encouragement and admiration.  When I read this verse, I can't tell you how many "I'm sorry"s come to my mind as I deal with the same amount of twinges of regrets.

I am the very image of God.  When I look in the mirror ... I am looking at the image of God!  That holds a lot of weight and also brings a huge responsibility.  Because it is more than the physical appearance -but there is something created in each one of us to be just like Him!  How did I treat the homeless man on the corner?  How did I attend to my daughter's needs?  What part did I contribute to the community service project?  How am I supporting the service man who is giving their all for me?  What part am I doing at my church?  How am I helping my husband?  How am I loving him?  

Am I looking to see God?  And how is that image living through me?

And now turn this verse around.  The neighbors who drive me crazy, the in-laws that I can't seem to get along with, the homeless, the babies, the elderly, the addicts, the racist, the lawyer, the politician, the mailman and the list goes on .... they too are created in His image.  Have I taken the time to see the likeness of God in them, or have I rejected Him just the same?  

My husband is onto something when he compliments my looks.  I need to stop, ponder, listen and look deep into his eyes... because perhaps it is the likeness of God in Him speaking to the likeness of God in me!

I Can Master These Emotions Of Mine

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you must master it.
Genesis 4:7

I admit this chapter isn't my favorite, but I read it this morning and saw how "human" it is.  I was pretty much raised as an only child ... I am the only child on my mom's side, but my dad had another.  However, in the summer my half-sister would come to stay a couple of months.  It was rough for me.  I went from "my" room to "our" room.  Of course it was only natural for my dad to want to spend time with his daughter, but the jealousies would consume me.  I did enjoy what would be lonely hours during the days, as my parents worked to be filled with someone else to share them with.  

From the day I was born I have had my insecurities.  I have questioned as to where I fit in, and what place I fit into.  I have looked at others as "favored" and have thought much less of myself.  It is just the way I have always been, something that I have had to work through and deal with.  I think of a recent issue in our home, and how this insecurity was more likely the cause of the unnecessary argument, that not only impacted me but brought grief for my husband.  

My girls have had the same unnessary arguments.  I remember a period of time when I wondered if they would ever like each other when they were grown.  Lindsay appeared favored with all the family relatives, Katie was the strong-willed child, and Courtney would just go back and forth to each sister, favoring one at a time while going against the other.  The older two used the youngest to get toward the other ... one child was always left out, and one was always hurt.  

Feelings are a huge part of who I am.  I live in them, experience them, move in them and for them, and it seems so many times I'm consumed by them.  It is just who I am.  And I find it only fitting that God would gift us with three emotional girls.  But who blames them, as they have watched these emotions control me all my life.  

Today I see God's guidance for me:  "it desires to have you but you must master it".  God brought the right two people together.  Me full of emotions, and Duane full of logic.   I long to be more like him daily and there are times (usually when dealing with the girls) he wishes he was more like me.  Our marriage is a good balance of the two.  But Duane shows me wisdom so many times, as he controls the anger in midst of tensions in our home of girls.  I would say for the most part "he has mastered it" and doesn't allow the temptation of anger, jealousies or bitterness grab hold of him.  Oh to be more like that.  I have the opposite problem, where I want to allow fighting words spew from my mouth, emotions physically tremble me, and the "logic" of them to debate the other person in whatever comes out of their mouth.  I admit I have not "mastered it", but have allowed immaturity rather than wisdom define who I am.

Yet, God knows these feelings and temptations are there.  God even gives us for warning that they are even there.  And God tells us to master them.  He also gives us the authority to be the master over them.  

I can't say that I will all of a sudden master this temptation I daily deal with, but I can say I will start today.  Today I will lean on Him.  I will learn to listen to his warning.  I will learn to master them in time.  And I will take the authority given to me and be the master  over these emotions of mine.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

What Was Once an Ordinary Chapter

Genesis 3

The fall of man.  To sum up the chapter: woman is alone, Satan tempts her, she falls and leads man to fall, they hide from God, God has a serious talk with them both, he punishes Satan, woman and man but then covers them in grace with clothes.  That pretty much sums up the chapter.  

Can I be honest with you?  I can't help but read this chapter with an eye roll?  It's that chapter where men blame women, and women say "it's not our fault", and the chapter we are reminded that we are behind men, and why we hurt so much when we give childbirth.  It's that chapter ... and I can't help but have a bit of an eye roll, a bit of an attitude when I read it.

Until today.  

I'm trying to read through the Bible, it's one of my current goals ... and I figured God wouldn't have much for me in this passage as he has in the previous chapters.  Today I was looking to gain some ground in my reading.  But perhaps my depression as I go through our move and the transition in my parenting, brings me a new perception when I read these words.

  1. The woman was alone for Satan to tempt her.  I admit to you, that today was one of those days I just didn't want to get out of bed ... I couldn't seem to find the strength - or purpose in doing so.  I heard the lies of the enemy telling me "I didn't have a value to add to today, stay in bed"!  He was winning ... until the phone rang, and then I saw the cats waiting for their breakfast.  Point was, I was alone too ... and Satan was tempting me with his lies.  I know we as women are each made differently.  But from all the studies I have been in, relationships I have had the privilege of being part of ... we are made to not be alone.  Yes, we are to have our quiet times ... but with God.  We are never to be alone!
  2. Satan tempted her with lies.  
    1. The first question he asks:  "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'"  We have something that Eve didn't have then.  We have the Book of Truth ... the Bible.  This is why we are to be in it everyday, learning it, studying it and knowing what God is telling us.  Otherwise, Satan is there tempting us to be led astray - away from God.
    2. When we are alone, it is then that Satan learns us and knows exactly what to say to trip us up.  Personally for me this morning, it was that "I didn't have a value or purpose for today" ... "that I don't have a purpose anymore, and I am not needed".  Those are the words he is throwing at me, frequently lately.  Because I have put myself in the position to be tempted by his lies.  If this is you, I encourage you to make a goal for yourself to get out of this place ... don't be alone!  My goal this week is to sign up and attend two Bible studies ... one at a church we are considering calling 'home' and another that is in our community.  I refuse to be in the position of isolation anymore.  
    3. When we are tempted by Satan, we see his lies as the truth.  It's kinda how I see my goal of reading through the Bible.  If I look at it through God's eyes (the Truth) and see that it is ok to take the time to read, and soak on each word, meditate and chew on it and gain from it ... then it is worth the extra time ... even if it takes years.  But if I look at it through the world's eyes (NON-truth) that I will never get through it, and it will be a goal that will never be met it is causing me to already carry the feeling of "failure".  That is where the first point comes into play ... know the scripture, and know your God.  God has never ever called anyone in the scripture a failure, and he surely won't begin today.  So the truth is, if I don't finish the Bible and stop in the midst of Genesis ... the truth is I'm in His word, and gaining knowledge of Him and how He wants me to be ... which is defeating the enemy's plan.
  3. After Adam and Eve ate of the fruit they covered themselves, and when God came walking towards them - they hid and God called to the man, "Where are you?". 
    1.  I laugh, because I think of my husband and how he tried to "undo" what they did.  He states his case and tries to persuade me to run around with no clothes on.  I know - TMI!  However, the truth is, when we are led astray we try and cover ourselves and even hide the very thing that God created.  WOW!  I get the whole hiding thing.  I think of my girls hiding their lunches in their room that they brought home from school, because they didn't want to eat it, and instead of telling me the truth they hid it ... until there was a big stink and it was revealed.  I confess that God is all knowing - and sees all, so why on earth do I even try and hide my mistakes?  
    2. How cool is it that they lived with God that they could hear him walking?  I want that, and I believe God wants that for us too.  I don't think it is something out of reach either - that we could live like that.  First, we have to not be in that isolation where Satan can trip us up and second, we could simply seek.  His word says "seek and you will find" (Matthew 7:7).  I long to be so close that I hear his footsteps coming toward me.
    3. God called out to man, asking where he was.  God misses us too when we aren't in relationship with Him.  His heart is to be one with us, and we each complete his heart ... which gives me an image of how big his heart is.
  4. God questioned man as to what happened, and the whole story came out.  God punished all who were involved.  Yet I saw something new today in the punishment of Eve's:  "Your desire will be for your husband ...".  It is said over and over again that three biggest quarrel between husband and wife:  Sex, money and parenting.  I desire my husband, and that is good and right.  However, it is the images I put in my head ... "he should be like the person I read about on Facebook and bring me flowers", "he should meet my needs of romance instead of turning on the baseball game", "he should ... he should ... he should".  My desire is for my husband, but is my desire for my husband to be who he is, or someone I would rather him be?  Am I praying for my husband that his desire would be sound in the Lord, and lead me and our home?  So perhaps the quarrels we have about "sex" or "love" are the curse of man from the beginning, but it has opened my eyes to be set back on God's word:  to have the desire of my husband and nothing else.  
  5. And just because Adam and Eve had a slip up, that they had to be punished for, God didn't leave them.  That tells me that no matter how great the sin, God never leaves.  He may banish us from the promises that were once ours, but He'll never leave us.  He covered them in clothes.  I remember my mom making me dresses, and having a special label "handmade with love" ... and that is exactly what I picture God's clothing to be made out of.  And no matter the depth of depression we may be in, God is there and hand making out of love our way out.  
I love this chapter!  And to think it was one that I just never enjoyed before.  So much to gain!  What did you gain out of it?

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Time of Rest

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.  By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Genesis 2:1-3

I believe God has told me that I am to be in a time of rest.  So instead of resting, my mind is stir crazy with what is next.  And through my wondering, I find that I'm not resting but feeling more defeating that God isn't currently needing me.

When I read these verses this morning I couldn't help but see the words "rest" jump off the page at me.  I took a couple notes:

  1. God took the time to rest!  Enough said, if He did it, shouldn't I?
  2. God blessed the day of rest.  What would happen if I took the time to rest as God called it?  What would my blessing look like?  How "healthy" would I be if I lived what He did?
  3. God saw what He had done, called it done and rested.  He looked at what He has done and called it good after each day, but on the seventh day during His time of rest He had to recognize what He did and call it good once again.  He appreciated the time He did the week prior, not look ahead at what was going to come in the next week.  
So I see now that God has me in a time to rest, and what it should look like.

Oh God, I'm resting.  I'm resting in You!  I am not allowing shame to come over me anymore, but thank you for this time of rest.  I choose this time now.  I will ponder over the work I have done, I will ponder the lessons I have learned from you and I will see them all as good because not of what I had done, but because of Your presence in it all.  I will ponder, rest in you and not let myself go crazy as what is yet to come!

In The Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light."
Genesis 1:1-3

In the previous post I mentioned that I went into flight or fight when Duane came home without his job.  I took on so much of the weight and so much of the responsibility, when truthfully it wasn't mine to take ... it was still God's.  Well during this time, being in His word was seldom.  Praying was desperation.  Listening, was extremely rare.  Tiredness affected worship.  Lack of a church home kept corporate worship at a minimum.  

I have tried to explain to Duane, as the last of the boxes are coming to an end to unpack that I fear of being "bored", I'm afraid of missing where I'm supposed to be because I am not hearing God as I once was, or because my own selfish desires and control tendencies seem to trip me up so easily.  I am fearful of being wrong.  I question if I'm even doing my part, as now I'm unemployed and taking a time to "rest" (as I feel God has told me to do that very thing).   Doubt lingers like a familiar friend as I question if I'm hearing God right.

It isn't easy to share the spiritual state I am in, but in all honesty ... it is exactly where I am.  I've tried to read my Bible, to only get frustrated that my mind can't seem to focus long enough to make it through a few chapters.  I do have a goal to read the Bible through again, but it seems like a daunting task.  I started reading it again this week, but this time differently.  I'm leaning on the grace of God, getting through little by little.  If I look through the world's eyes ... it isn't much.  But I have learned.  When I see something, I stop, ponder, pray, put it down and chew on it.  I won't move on until I grasp and ready.  It may take me twenty years to get through the Bible at this rate, but I'm seeing things new, as if my first time.

In the last post I also mentioned the depression I have been in.  Not just because of the new season of mothering I am in, but a new season of life all together.  Transitions are just not easy.  I can't tell you how tired I still remain.  I have always been a person of doing, and now there isn't really anything to do.  I refuse to being the leader, and now letting God lead ... "rest" is all I hear.  I see others doing, and I'm resting ... guilt falls on me.  

I don't find it ironic that I am in Genesis, I find it fitting that I'm back in the "beginning", relearning the scriptures and my relationship with God all over again.  I see four opening points God brought for me:

  1. God created.  He didn't just create the heavens and the earth, but me.  He created this place for me to be part of, and He created it for me to enjoy.  He created. 
  2. God saw the earth formless and empty, darkness was over the surface.  He sees me.  He sees the darkness that is around me, and still doesn't leave, but stayes.  He sees.
  3. God was hovering over the waters.  He hovers nearby.  He not only created, but remained close and never leaves.  He hovers.
  4. God called out the light.  He saw the need of light, and brought it forth.  He took the darkness away with His call.  He protects.
Reading these three verses was all that I needed to hear.  It brings healing and understanding for me from my Creator and the One I long to be long to.  

Dear God,  Thank you for Your creation for me and in me.  Thank you for seeing me and remaining still so close to me. Thank you for hovering near to me, calling what needs to come over me, and protecting me.  Thank you for being my light, and calling the light on when the darkness is so dark.  I know the darkness doesn't have a hold on me, because of your creation in me, how you see, hover and call.  I stand under the One who is able.  Thank you!

Life Is Full Of It's Challenges!

It's been a heck of a time these past couple of years.  Every time I think I have gone through the thick of it, it gets a bit thicker.  Perhaps it is my outlook in life.  Perhaps it is just the season we're in.  Call it what you want, bottom line it has been a hard couple of years.

When Duane lost his job about a year and a half ago, I went into flight or fight mode.  I stepped up my hours at work to bring what little income I could in, and still doing what I already was doing in the ways of home maker.  I tried to be a source of encouragement to my husband, and bring a comfort to my girls.  I can stand where I do today to know that I began to rely on myself more, even though I would say I was relying on God. 

One of my biggest arguments with Duane during this time was my feeling of lack of appreciation, and not being recognized enough for all I was doing.  I felt alone too.  Today I can stand and tell you that because I took the role on that I did, and stood on my own two feet that it was my own doing for the feelings I was enduring. 

When we moved to California, I had arranged for my next source of employment.  I believed God gave me the go ahead and I went ahead.  It brought a long commute, much stress, emotional abuse and much anguish.  Today I stand, unemployed and see that I never asked Him when, and I was so determined that perhaps I didn't hear the correct answer.  My wants outweighed my listening skills.

We left two girls back in Colorado.  I can't tell you the depth of depression I have been in because of that fact.  I hid my feelings through working, focusing on housing and now setting up our home.  As things start resting in place, my heart has been more exposed.  Many tears have been shed.  Much anger has been spewed.  Silence has been heard.   

We had two months to find our home.  We put nine offers and nine different houses in an area that would be closer to Duane's work.  Each one of them was rejected as other offers outbid ours.  We leaned on what we wanted, not on where God was directing us.  I can testify today that I stood on pride to be able to say that I moved out of state, and it eased my pride to say that I was returning  but to a different location.  I was ashamed to come back in the area we left.  But God has a way of humbling us, and it will be on his timetable until we grasp where He wants us.  After three months of temporary housing (AKA:  a hotel), we put our tenth offer in, which was accepted .... back in the hometown we once lived.

Relocation isn't easy as it is, getting Courtney registered for school was a battle of its own.  New laws have been passed, two different states with their own requirements and systems trying to blend together, and a roughness to the school we were assigned to were just some of the battles we were in, as I was dealing with the loss of the other two girls.  I observed I quit parenting all together, as fear of losing the last was quickly approaching as we enrolled her for her senior year.  I had to apologize to Courtney that I stopped being her mommy, and took back that role that I know so well.  

Community has been our word for a few years now.  Community is definently where we live now.  But it is something that we are searching for too.  We walk everywhere now, trying to make our presence known.  We greet our neighbors, and trying to reestablish old friendships.  But it is hard to have been away for nearly a decade and find where we fit in again.  Places have changed, people have changed, society has changed.  Where do we fit with all these changes?  And finding a church home is the key.  We're still looking where that will be.  I know God will bring us to that place, as he has brought us home.  

It has been a rough year and a half.  We have gone through so much, so many feelings, and I can still testify that my feelings are still "raw".  But I have grown.  I have changed.  I have gained many lessons along the way.  I have been humbled, and admit that today even though I can say I have learned much, I can still say I have much more to learn too.  It has been a rough journey ... but it has been all good too!  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

When the Truth Hurts

Someone recently told me how I needed to turn toward God, and was reminded that without God my doom would await.

These words stung.  These words struck a cord deep within me. 

I have God!  I know God loves me!  I know who God is! 

I felt judged, condemned and not understood. 

I have remained distant from this person.  But no matter how distant I have been, the words still hurt. They hurt because I was not understood and even overlooked.  I, I, I ...

I attended my middle daughter's graduation breakfast at church this morning.  And in the midst of the pastor's talk, he put a verse up.  I honestly couldn't tell you what he spoke about.  Because my mind went with God.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 22: 37-39

Our lives are full right now.  My husband is away.  We are getting ready to move back to California.  Part of my heart is still here.  My complaints of not connecting here, are not necessarily true ... as now I'm finding that I'm more connected than I realized and having a hard time leaving.  What my life looks like in California is uncertain.  Where we are exactly going to live is unknown.  My two daughters are staying here ... where I won't get to hug them, laugh with them and hang out with them as I have done over the years.  Our household has always been tight, now distance is starting to loosen those bonds.  My customers are struggling, and I'm struggling right along with them.  Our dream home is going to be in the past.  The home we have lived in the longest will be no more.  My middle daughter is graduating and has a whole new adventure before her ... and I'm holding my breath that my parenting skills worked.  She's not being tested, but I am.  The emotional connection I hold with her is like no other, and I don't know how I'll breathe without her across the hall.  Confidence is lacking.  My oldest reminds me daily of how I'm not needed in her life.  I know it is part of growing up ... especially with girls, but the words still hurt.  I feel responsible for not keeping the five of us together, but my mind reminds me that this day was coming ready or not ... I just had seen it so differently. Our house has yet to sell, cleanliness remains a daily task ... and is starting to take its toll on me.  Starting to separate our stuff into four different parts seems overwhelming.  Yard work is constant lately, as rain has been just as constant.  I hear the complaints from three hormonal teenagers ... everything that I don't seem to do right.  Encouragement is lacking from my life.  Hugs are a thing of the past.  Decisions are a moment to moment thing ... and now exhausting.  My brain is fried, heart is aching and physically I just ache.

I hear from Duane.  His life is full too.  Learning new things with his new job.  Being away from his family.  Not being part of graduation festivities.  Isolated from the things that our family continues to go on with.  He went from a year of no activity to a full blown life of demands.  Decisions remain constant with him as well.

I have always struggled as a wife too.  I have always seen my role to lessen my husband's.  He has enough to think about at work, life at home shouldn't be more of a burden than what he is already enduring.  Because of the role I have taken, he doesn't realize that when I hear his exhaustion, his frustrations, his complaints ... how personal it is to me, and a reminder of how I continually fail. I have done everything I can to take pictures and videos of last concerts, special events and such ... so when every gadget I have is out of battery because I was all day at work, and not thinking of plugging anything in ... I feel I let my husband down.  Again, the failure runs deep.  I'm not just a failure to myself ... but now to my husband too. (At least that is what I see.)

So.   My plate remains full.  I have excused my feelings and I have ignored them too.  I have become the complaint and even failure to the girls, and now to my husband.  I didn't realize I was taking all this so deeply.  No one did.  But God did.

So when someone told me to turn to God or there would be serious consequences, I didn't hear the truth but more of a reminder of another failure in my life.  The words hurt.  

And then I saw this familiar scripture.  Have I been loving my God the way I should?  No.  I have allowed the stress and demands lead my heart, mind and soul instead.  If I would place my heart, mind and soul on God and His goodness then these failures wouldn't exist.  If I focused on God and His goodness there truly wouldn't be else to see.  If I spent time loving my God ... I would not be concerned with the details of my life, I wouldn't have to focus on all the planning...but see that one of the reasons I have to love Him, is that He has everything under control.

I wouldn't have heard those words that hurt so much if I was loving others as I should have been.  That person would have not felt the shame, failure and question of self worth they are going through if I was loving them as God had called me to do.  They would have been built up, encouraged, heard, understood, appreciated - and loved.  If I would love them, distance wouldn't be a way of protecting one another, but instead a form of embracing. 

Perhaps there could have been more grace in the confrontation.  But truth is what it is ... I need God in my life.  Now.  Everyday.  And every moment of the day.  I needed that reminder.

So all the responsibilities I have put on me, my husband has put on me, my daughters have put on me, my employer has put on me, my coworkers have put on me ... they can not dictate my mind, heart or soul .. but instead I need to lead and focus on loving my God, and my neighbors ... the rest will fall right into place. And if I spend the time focused on God, He has all the rest.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I'm So Much Like My Cat!

I love my cat!

I can tell you everything about my cat.  Her name mean "life", and I named her that because we were in a season where loss and death were all around us, and I needed "life".  She has extra long hair around her neck, making it look like she has a mane. She gets hot quite easily, so doesn't like to cuddle as much.  She has a stipe down her nose, that looks just like a pencil.  She has little light strokes of a lighter color above her right eye that makes it look like she is wearing eye shadow.  She LOVES breakfast!  She'll wake me up by laying on my face and purring.  If I don't budge, she'll go over and open the shutters.  When I ask her "what do you say?" when she is waiting for her scoop of breakfast, she'll meow her "please".  She usually greets me at the door when I come in and seeks a hello.  She loves to sleep on her back.
 I know her favorite toys. She loves to be held over my left shoulder, and hang over to see.  She loves her front paws massaged.  At night she "cuddles" for about five minutes as she climbs under the covers and stretches out next to me.

I KNOW my cat!

I take her with me on occasion in the car.  It isn't her favorite thing, but she'll go.  She starts the car ride out usually under the seat, and after time has passed she'll come out and join us on her blanket.  She'll voice herself to remind me that she is still there on a rare occasion. After we return home, she allows me to carry her in, and when she comes into the house she walks over to the other cats, making it known that she had time with me...and seems quite pleased with herself.

The one thing that saddens me about my cat is that she doesn't like to cuddle.  If only she knew how much I love her.  I want to hold her over and over again. 

I'm reminded of my Heavenly Father.  How much He knows of me.  He knows every detail .. how many hairs on my head, and freckles on my face.  What brings me joy ... and what hurts.  He knows the desires he has placed in my heart, and he knows what makes me really angry.  He knows my favorite things.  And even knows my quirks and habits.  He knows my thoughts ... and even my feelings. 

He KNOWS me!

He takes me on a journey from time to time.  Sometimes these journeys aren't my favorite thing to do, but I'll go.  I sometimes hid along the way, as I'm a bit fearful.  But at some point in the journey I come out, because I know God is there and I'm safe.  After my journeys with God, I come home and am quite pleased with myself as I have had my own special time with God, himself.

But I realize as I go through life, with all the bruising and scraps along the way.  I try and try to do things the way I see fit, I try to hold onto the struggles instead of them holding onto me.  But I can't help but wonder how sad my Creator is that I just don't allow myself to be held.  I don't think I know fully how much He loves me and wants to hold me ... over and over again.

I sure love my cat ... how much more does God, the Creator and Author, the Almighty love me!

Life IS a Highway

I went for a drive yesterday.  A very long drive.  It is my way of sorting out and letting my mind go, and have much needed and meaningful time with God.

I have so many thoughts, and much more feelings and needed to understand it all.  I left broken, bruised and battered.  I returned whole, complete and healed.

I drove and drove, what was once roads filled with cars all around me, ended up with not one around.  I felt as if it was appropriate as to life as I have known.  I have gone from spurts of much connection to a current time of no one around. 

I took note.  Sometimes we are in a "lonely state" because God is missing us.  He doesn't want to be replaced with people, demands or things.  He wants time with us, as much as we need time with Him.

So I embraced the loneliness, knowing full well I wasn't alone at all.

I came into a town - a very small town.  I couldn't help but notice that several of the homes had signs out in the yard stating what the owner could do.  If one could fix things, it was advertised.  If one knew how to grow special things, it was stated.   We live in a society that we go to our place of business that has their own signs, and we give what we have to offer - hoping we can fit in.  Sometimes it is a match, sometimes it isn't.  But we go throughout life, people telling us what we are good at, what we aren't.  Labeling us.  Hurting us.  Encouraging us.  How easy it would be if God would put a sign on us, that stated what we are good at and could offer the world.  Or does He? 

I was reminded of a children's book, by Max Lucado:  You Are Special.  It is about small wooden people who are called Wemmicks, all carved by a woodworker named Eli.  In the story the Wemmicks give each other stickers throughout the day; stars or dots.  Stars were the things they did things well or they received them too just for looking well.  Dots were all the things they did wrong, no matter if it was a mistake or not.  There is one particular Wemmick named Punchinello who received nothing but dots.  A matter-of-fact he had so many dots, that the Wemmicks just gave him more dots just because of the dots he already had.  One day Punchinello ran into another Wemmick who didn't have any stickers at all.  Wemmicks had tried to put stickers on her, but they just wouldn't stick.  Punchinello sought out why.  And that is when he learned of Eli. He went to Eli - ashamed of the dots he had, and surprised Eli didn't care of what the other Wemmicks thought of him.  "Who are they to give stars or dots?  They're Wemmicks just like you.  What they think doesn't matter, Punchinello.  All that matters is what I think.  And I think you are pretty special."

And as I was driving on my quiet country road, I saw myself with a whole lot of dots.  And realized that during my journey I have allowed these dots to stick.  But I came seeking God, and one by one they started coming off.  Just like those houses, I have a sign in front of me and it says:  I AM SPECIAL because I AM HANDMADE BY GOD! 

I took note of the road ahead ... no cars, peaks and valleys, literally in a land where there was nothing around.  And I took note at what I saw behind.  I didn't know what was ahead but I kept pursuing it.  I did know what was behind and kept at my speed to get away.  I noted on occasion I would pass a car who was heading for my past, as I was heading in his.  We all have our own speed ... some go through their journeys extremely quick, and some (like me) take their time getting through.  On occasion I would see a sign of warning. And sometimes I hadn't a clue what obstacle was ahead.  I also noted that when I passed I would get an occasional wave.  And when I entered back into the world that would take me home, I even noted that some were in their own world, almost causing me to have an accident.

Isn't that life?  We have peaks and valleys, and sometimes those peaks are easier to climb, and sometimes those valleys are long and dry.  We see others heading in the same direction we just got through.  We may caution others, but they still need to go through what we just got out of to get to their own destiny - and they have to go through at their own pace.  Sometimes we have signs of what is ahead and sometimes we don't.  Sometimes we heed the signs, and other times, we choose to ignore thinking it is for everyone else.  We get focused in our own world, that we forget there are others around us, and our errors can affect those around ... but our encouragement can affect those around too. 

So many observations on my drive.  Life IS a highway.  And God is there to orchestrate it all.

I was reminded that we are in a challenging time.  But if I keep pursuing through it, it WILL pass. I need to heed to the signs God gives me.  Receive the encouragement along the way, and understand the others that are trying to cause an accident in my life, or affect me negatively are in their own journey and need that wave of encouragement - called "grace". 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Prayer This Morning - Just Be Held

Yes Lord, that was me fallen on bended knee, weeping,  in the corner of my workplace yesterday when I heard your voice in a song fall over me.  Yes Lord, I'm in a desperate place.  And yes, I am questioning your timing with everything.  Yes Lord,  I'm filled with fear.  And yes, I'm ashamed to admit it.

You know the place I am in - more than I understand myself.  I didn't realize how much I have put on myself.  How I have even taken your role as God.  I excuse it with an excuse of not wanting to mess up in your eyes, when the truth is - lack of trust in you has rooted in.  It's time to come clean.  And it is time to let everything go and be held by you.

Just Be Held - Casting Crowns

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong ...

I have felt so many eyes upon me, wondering if I could even hold it together.  I have also put myself in the role with the one who has all the answers and trying to persuade my children one way.  I have put myself as the encourager for my husband, rooting him on and giving him direction.  I have put the responsibility of bread winner on me as well, knowing full well I can't do it by myself.  I feel coworkers and management watching me, wondering if I can handle the weight of responsibility.  I have been trying to please everyone instead of pleasing you.  And I still long to please my parents with my successes.  Only to find I don't have any right now, and question how my parents could be pleased with someone like me.

But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on ...

We have hit zero.  Credit is limited.  A job in Duane's future is uncertain.  We have your words, promises and presence to hold onto - but haven't seen it come into fruition.  I question if you are quick to save ...  and how it is going to hurt when we fall.
Teenagers and young adults are full of attitude.  Selfishness reigns in our home.  I wonder if our feelings and hearts even matter to the younger generation, and if they even fully understand the demands that weigh over our heads.  Messes in our home seem appropriate, as we carry so many messes in our lives.
And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control ...

I'm trying hard to control our circumstances, seeing how impossible it now is.  I'm even trying hard to control my feelings - experiencing the dam breaking and everything is now coming and rushing through:  fear, shame, disappointment, lack of love, hurt ...
I am drowning .. will you save?

There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go...

I choose freedom in you.  All the pressures, demands and control I've been carrying and holding - I just can't anymore.  It is so heavy and killing me, slowly.  I am suffocating and seeing everything fall as I try and juggle it all.  I'm laying it all down and asking you to be King over me and these things.  Let you be my Father and take care of me.  You take these things, I'm going to walk away from it all - and live.

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held...

I remember that day so long ago, when you picked me up and held me as you drew me into your lap.  You pulled my head against your chest.  I was happy, warm, safe and taken care of.  I choose to run into that place again and stay there.  I am accepted and loved by you.

Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place ...

You know it feels the contrary.  But I choose to trust you and believe everything is falling into place as you direct it.  I hold onto these words as your promise over me.

I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held...

I let it all go.  I will let you take control of all these circumstances.  I'll let you watch them and set my eyes upon the embrace of you, as I sit on your lap.  I choose your embrace over everything.

If your eyes are on the storm
You'll wonder if I love you still...

Yes Lord, I have wondered.  I have even believed that I have brought you so much shame and disgrace that your love has left me ... and instead left me with these trials I believe I so richly deserve.  You are in the storm, but you aren't the storm - my eyes weren't seeing clearly.  Remove all the cloudiness and let me clearly see you.  I'm sorry for blaming you.

But if your eyes are on the cross
You'll know I always have and I always will...

I still struggle with understanding and comprehending your everlasting love.  I forget that no matter what I do, you'll never stop loving me.  You aren't a God of shame.  I also know we have our natural consequences - so how easy it is to believe we deserve all this stuff we have been juggling.  But I have forgotten, even though we deserve our consequences, you have died on that cross so we can rise above it all.  You are merciful, compassionate and full of love.  I have forgotten exactly what your work on the cross was all about.  Today I will look through our storm and see the cross and know I am loved.

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands...

So many tears.  You've counted each one and I trust you have even wiped each of them away.  I look forward seeing the masterpiece you are making with the ashes of our storm.  You make all things good and I know fully you'll make us good, our family good, a good place for Duane to work, and my work place good.  And in your goodness I leave my life.

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you'll find Me
And where you are, I'll hold your heart
I'll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go...

I praise you Lord with my whole being, with everything I am and everything I have.  I have found you in our storm, but choose to not lose sight of you anymore.  My eyes will be fixed on you.  And as you hold me in your lap, pressing my head against your chest I hear your heartbeat and find encouragement in knowing that heartbeat is for me.  In you I regain my strength and find rest.  You are the calm in our storm, and I choose you.  And if I let go, please don't ever let go of me.  You are my peace.  You are mine and I am yours.

(The song that brought me to my knees and brought me to Jesus - once again...