Falling Apart Yet Held Together

 My life is a hot mess at any given time of the day. Hell it’s a mess even in my sleep and if you were able to join in my dreams you would see the truth to that statement. I do not have it all together. I fall apart on a regular basis because I have a damaged heart. My soul has been burdened with so many heavy weights in this world that I often reflect on how I have survived as long as I have. The answer?  God.

There is no strength left in me. I am tired. I am worn.  My heart hurts at the sufferings I see in my world. I strive for goodness and see less and less of it in others. My peace waivers and my soul aches for unity and love to flood my fellow man. I work hard to show that love to others and some receive it while others stab my words with daggers flying from their tongues like warriors of discontent. Its easy to feel the glow of love but it is devastating to feel the blows of negativity.

 Even in the mundane aspects of life the devil seeks to destroy my joy. He takes the daily joys of motherhood, friendship, and family to dark places in an effort to slowly scrape away the bonds so lovingly created and gifted by God. But God. But God. But God.

God has already gone before all of Satan’s attacks. God has held everything together from the beginning. ( Colossians 1:17) He is El Shaddai, the God of sufficiency and almighty power. In Him there is no sting in death, no suffering in sorrow and peaceful, joyous living in the treacherous trenches of daily living here on earth.

 In Him the devils advances are nothing more than an annoying mosquito bite that aggravates temporarily but disappears without any more thought. In Him, strength returns with a flood of fury, peace encompasses our lives bit by beautiful bit, and day by day our resilience is a glorious example of His everlasting love.

There is no need for fear. There is no room for doubt and negativity when the doors to our heart and mind are open to God’s unfailing word and never-ending grace and mercy. He is the healer of all hurts. He is the army that destroys the devil’s minions. He is the power and the glory that heals all of the earth. Negativity has no place here. Satan has no place here. Only God. Only God.

We will have days where we feel misunderstood, shaken to our core and beat down by the evils in this world. There is no question about that. There are days that, in my imperfection, I am falling apart yet His Word is the glue that holds my fallen mind, body and soul together when I feel like falling apart.

Are you falling today? Will you let Him hold you together?  No matter where you are and how dark it feels, pick up the Bible and see light. The light is there, you just have to seek it.

Perfection is A Lie

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Writing a memoir about the worst parts of your life is so difficult and yet so healing. Today I am editing the chapter on my hellacious relationship with food over the years. Some of this is so embarrassing. I cannot believe the lengths I went to just to “look perfect” and the irony of it all is that now, I am so far from perfect that the young me would fall apart if she knew this is how we would look at 47 and I am this way because of the choices the younger me made! The healing aspect is so vivid though. I can look back and see where my disordered eating began and the raw truthfulness in my memoir has brought it to the surface where I have to face it and move past it. The opposite of disorder is order and I need a leveled out relationship with food now. Its the only way I will get healthy. There are no quick fixes. There are no magic pills. No amount of excess exercise will make permanent change. There is no perfection in disorder and in all honesty there is no perfection period. For years I have chased the dream of thin, tan perfect legs and arms with a flat tummy. I even attained it several times in my life but my disordered relationship with food always caused a downfall and weight gain. This is where the beautiful redemption of an amazingly loving Heavenly Father comes in and sweeps me right off my feet and reminds me that PERFECTION IS A LIE. He reminds me that my past may be a huge mess of imperfect disorderly relationships including one with food, but again, my past is past and today we move forward. Today we admit our wrongs and move forward step by step in recovery and redemption. Today we choose not to look at all these “perfect” women on instagram and instead focus on sharing the healing qualities of an Almighty God who loves me and thankfully renews me daily and today He has gently reminded me that food was created for my health. It was not created for relationship or for an emotional crutch. It is simply here for nourishment of my body. This is the shift in perspective that I needed to find redemption from a life long battle with disordered eating. I am so thankful. This memoir has been a healing journey and I am excited to start this blog and share more of my redemption story as it continues!!!

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Bouncing Back

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Bouncing back can be difficult. Just the word “bouncing” seems painful to me because it insinuates the need to hit something very hard and recoil back into the air. Yet, that is exactly what happens each time we “bounce back”. In order to bounce back we have to be falling first, we hit rock bottom and BAM we bounce back. In my life, if I were to literally hit the proverbial “rock” I would have bruise after bruise considering the number of times I have had to bounce and the truth is: I do have them. I have a lot of emotional bruises that often times become very tender when I am reminded of the great fall that caused them in the first place. We all have them and they are repeatedly going to be poked at throughout our lives.

Growing up I wanted to be accepted, just like everyone else. I was on a great track all through elementary school and middle school but something happened my freshman year and rejection became my name. I had been forced by a very popular senior into a position I was uncomfortable with and confided in a “friend”. Within just a few hours the entire school knew and everyone turned against me because I was the newer kid and how dare I say this boy did this!!  In an instant I was a pariah. I was no longer accepted and so the fall began. Eventually we moved but my self esteem had taken a hit and making new friends was more difficult this time around but I had hit the rock and was bouncing back. The bruise was still deep but healing.

Throughout my life it has been poked several times. If I must admit anything, it is that I still feel that pain every time a slight rejection happens. Sometimes I fall again and gain another bruise. Life is like that. We fall down and get up again…a lot. For the longest time, when I would fall, I had to pull myself up. It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of strength and oftentimes it was very tiring. Now, I am thankful that I no longer have to pull myself up, instead, I let Jesus lift me up. Admittedly, I often fight Him as He reaches for me. The pain gets to me and I sink a little deeper into the shadows for a while but He always brings me out.

It has been a long time since I have bounced back from rejection because Jesus does not let me hit the rock anymore. He has saved me from ever falling that far from rejection because HE never rejects me. Even when I have made massive mistakes, HE still loves me. I am. never alone.

If you are healing bruises of rejection, shame, suffering & etc., I pray that you will let Jesus soften the blow. I pray you let Him lift you up, because in His strength you have power and support. In His love you have hope and forgiveness. In Him you will survive this life covered in armor that softens your falls until eventually you don’t even fall anymore. Instead, you just trip and He steadies you.

 

Living in the Spirit | Forbearance

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The fruits of the Spirit have always gained my attention. I know that if I can have those fruits in my life that I will be living in the Spirit and therefore living my best life.  Easier said than done. The devil knows the exact moment that you ask for those fruits and does his best to derail any effort you are making to allow the Spirit to fill you with a certain fruit.  The past few days I have been focused on forbearance. This particular fruit has evaded me daily and I truly wanted to understand and allow the Spirit to fill me with it and the devil has put my teenager front and center to derail me each day.

As I write this I have just finished another confrontation with her. She walked into my room to tell me good morning and saw me studying my Bible. She excused herself and five minutes later I can hear her voice right outside my bedroom door that leads to the patio. I assume she is talking to her sister or someone on the phone because she is being terribly loud. This is the second day that she has been very loud as I am trying to study the Word of God making it difficult to concentrate. Yesterday I failed. I had no forbearance whatsoever. I tried, I promise I did, but I wasn’t living in the Spirit. I entered the room on my own strengths, or shall I say weakness, and initially politely asked her to stop. She kept going. I tried to be nice. She kept going. BAM. I yelled at her. Not so forbearing.

This morning, as I studied, I realized what I had done wrong yesterday. I had tried on my own without inviting the Spirit to overcome my weakness. This morning, as the frustration welled up inside the deepest depths of my soul at the teenager outside my door, I stopped before I walked through the door. I learned this morning that forbearance is patience. It is mercy. It is a gentle and tolerant way of handling aggravating situations, including rude teenagers.  Proverbs 25:15 had been brought to my attention ” By forbearance is a ruler persuaded and a soft tongue breaks the bone”. Before I opened that door I prayed:

Lord God in Heaven, cause my tongue to be soft. Cover my anger and frustration with your mercy and patience. Don’t let me speak, let your Holy Spirit speak for me.

Then I opened the door. There sat my teen with a book and my dog. There was no one outside with her. She deemed it necessary to take a book right outside my door and read it out loud to the dog. Not just out loud…but LOUD!  Never in my life have I been more thankful for the Holy Spirit than I was at that moment. My weakness would have reacted in a very negative way. I would have yelled, because if I am being honest, that was the most annoying and aggravating thing I have experienced this week so far. I would have ranted and gave an hour long lecture on the respect of space and my time with the Lord. I would have made it a point to make a point, but not the Spirit.

I stood in the doorway and asked gently, “what are you doing? who are you talking to?” She responded that she was reading the book out loud to the dog as if there was no problem with that at all. My response, or rather the Spirits, was ” You know I am in my room studying my Bible. You are being loud and causing me to not be able to concentrate or even pray. That is not acceptable. I am going to need you to come inside and read quietly, to yourself, on the couch.” That was it. It was simple. It was gentle. It was merciful and above all, it was spiritual. It was ALL the Spirit.

Bones do not break easily and neither do teens. They are in a struggle with their parents for control. Yelling and lecturing have not served our situation well but a soft tongue can handle even the most difficult teen.

As I sat to finish my study and pray I realized the lesson I had just received from the Lord:

In order to have the fruit of forbearance I must ask  and allow the Spirit to soften my speech and increase my patience always remembering that the outcome of this is that I will automatically call on Him before approaching any situation with my teen, or anything else for that matter, and mercy and patience will be the response. Today I was shown just how easy that can be if I stop, pray and then move forward!!

Praying For Answers | Meditating His Word

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I have been overly stressed about our adoption lately. It might be because we are at the end of the process and are about to open. Maybe it is my impatience getting to me at the end of a long process. I’ve been through this process twice in 2 years: once in MS and now here in AR. It is taxing and so very difficult. Especially when you get where I am now. We have inquired about several kiddos. We are open to whomever God puts in our home but in my chaos I have struggled in my prayer and began depending on myself and came close to sidelining ( at least I hope it isn’t) a placement that we have been praying on for 7 months now. Such a lesson in staying close to Jesus, especially in times of great transition like we are going through. This morning I panicked and thought “How will we choose? what if we are chosen for more than one child?” I prayed. I spent quiet time with the Lord and this afternoon He answered.

He gave me a gentle reminder that the best thing I can do is follow the example of Jesus when He made decisions. Before selecting his 12 disciples Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray and all night He continued in prayer with God.” ( Luke 6:12 )  I may not be selecting disciples but I am making a lifelong decision that will change the life of a child and my entire family. It is important that who we choose is in line with God’s will for our family. I want the child that enters our home to be chosen by God so I want to be led in this decision. Jesus knew that He had to step away from the chaos and find a quiet place where He could hear God, where He could come to Him in prayer and petition His guidance.

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I need to do the same.

I cannot make right choices in the middle of loud chaos that keeps circling me like a tornado waiting to tear everything apart in just a few seconds so this evening I will retreat. I don’t have a mountain to go to but I do have a nice quiet bedroom that is separate from the rest of the house. Just as Jesus did, I will retreat and I will pray. I will pray all night. I will pray until I hear God tell me to take a break. I will pray. I will listen. I want more than anything for this to be God’s choice because His choices are always good. I know when the choice was His that there will be strength, redemption and love in all that comes in our future together.

No matter what decision you are facing, learn a lesson from Jesus and retreat to hear God guide your way. His way is never wrong. It may be tough, but it is what He has called you to do. It will have good moments and challenging moments, but all moments will be blessed with His presence.

And in it all…..God is so very good.

 

Darkness is the Absence of Light | Be Light

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Today I came across this amazing quote and it resonated deeply within me that THIS is where lives change. When light is introduced in the darkness, when love is introduced over fear, lives change.  Mine did the day I let the light of Jesus Christ into my life.  My darkness slowly faded because the light overcame it. My past forgiven and dissipating in importance. My heart that had stopped growing in the darkness had been broken in a million pieces,  but suddenly it began to  heal and grow love. Once the light is introduced, love comes naturally. This is how my life changed, and this is how the lives of adopted children change.

Children in foster care come from a lot of darkness. It manifests itself in different ways but most always in behavior. Their hearts are broken. Some are shattered. The life they deserved to have was taken from them. They didn’t ask to be where they are, but here they stand: broken, hurt and in the dark. They are scared. They are angry. The teens have been here a while and they don’t see a way out. Their hearts have hardened and in this darkness they know nothing other than survival.

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But light overcomes the darkness because darkness is simply the absence of light. Adoptive parents are beacons of light in a dark world. Teens need that beacon just as much as I needed Jesus Christ at 30 years old. Yes, they have been in the dark longer. Yes, their hearts are much harder than younger children but I have not ever met a heart that the light of Jesus Christ couldn’t soften.

Many fear adopting teens, especially teen boys, but the truth is fear is a liar. Fear is darkness trying to keep darkness around a little bit longer. Fear seeks to continue hardening a heart and if fear can win in your life, there is one more teen that will continue to live in darkness. When that happens, fear wins.  Don’t let fear win. Be the light.

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If you choose to the a beacon of light for a teen in foster care you have chosen to love. You have chosen the Gospel. You have chosen Jesus. Yes, there will be difficult times. That teen is struggling to see your light. They are afraid this won’t last. They are acting out of fear and survival. Continue to be the light. Continue to be love. You have overcome your fears, now they need to overcome theirs. Pray them through it. Let God show you where you are needed in that teens life. Continue to be the light.

Light will overcome darkness and love will overcome fear. Their fear. Your fear. Then, before you even realize it, Jesus will have healed a broken heart and you will see it begin to grow in His light. How beautiful it is to see that growth. Like a lotus flower blooming after making its way through the muck, through the dark and straight into the light!!!

But first: you must open the door and let that teen in!!!

I am looking forward to our adoption of a teen boy. I cannot wait to see the growth season. It will be mucky for a little bit, but I know the growth season will come. That will be a glorious day!!!!!

Acceptance Equals Change | Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis

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I have always been an active woman. I grew up running, playing volleyball and cheerleading. I loved to dance. I never sat still. I was always on the go until early 2000 when I suddenly got very ill.  The doctors were not sure what was going on and this began a long list of visit after visit to specialists. One said Fibromyalgia, another said Rheumatoid Arthritis, another said Lupus, another said its all in her head and eventually, in 2010 as I hobbled my way in on crutches to the Mayo Clinic, one said RRMS, Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. It made sense and I thought I finally was on my way to recovery after 10 long years of no answers and medications that never worked. I was wrong.

Being a military family, we PCS’d not long after my diagnosis. Once we moved the doctors wanted to start testing all over again. They just couldn’t accept the medical history I had handed them. I never received any treatment and got sicker and sicker and in 2012 I found myself in a wheelchair so weak that standing was almost out of the question. It was a miserable 6 months. Some family and friends were very supportive while others made jokes and told me to stop being crazy and get out of that chair.  It was during this time that I started looking into alternative ways to deal with this diseases and I started denying it. I felt if I ignored it and acted as if it didn’t exist, then I would be fine.

I began acupuncture which helped immensely. I changed my diet to a mostly raw diet and it helped even more. I started meditating and spending more time with God and I got better and better and eventually was back to walking and out of the wheelchair but I was still in denial. Over the next four years I had days of weakness and other odd symptoms that I blew off. I even started going to a Rheumatologist because I just knew it was something other than MS and was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and started on Methotrexate. I’ve never been sicker. I couldn’t tolerate it and I stopped the treatment and fell head first into a cycle of denial and research on how to fix a broken body that ended up even more broken from all the confusion and defeat.

Fast forward to today, and I truly mean this morning, as I sit here writing this it has set in. I need to accept what is.  I cannot change my lifestyle or my health or my spiritual walk if I do not look around and take a good account of what is and accept it. As a Christian I have always thought that if you accept it then you claim it so let’s don’t claim that!!! NO!  If you do not claim it then it does not become your battle and sometimes, God wants us in those battles to grow us and heal us!! David would not have defeated Goliath if he had not accepted that this is his battle and he will win it. David accepted his battle and walked into it with confidence and determination that came from pure faith in God. No fear. Full acceptance. Complete defeat!

Today I am beginning this new journey of Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis and I will  share what I learn along the way as I step back, accept what is and allow God to lead me to what will be.  MS is my Goliath but my faith is strong like David and this will be defeated!!

 

David and Goliath

1 Samuel 17: 26- 50

David, who was talking to the men standing around him, asked, “What’s in it for the man who kills that Philistine and gets rid of this ugly blot on Israel’s honor? Who does he think he is, anyway, this uncircumcised Philistine, taunting the armies of God-Alive?”

27 They told him what everyone was saying about what the king would do for the man who killed the Philistine.

28 Eliab, his older brother, heard David fraternizing with the men and lost his temper: “What are you doing here! Why aren’t you minding your own business, tending that scrawny flock of sheep? I know what you’re up to. You’ve come down here to see the sights, hoping for a ringside seat at a bloody battle!”

29-30 “What is it with you?” replied David. “All I did was ask a question.” Ignoring his brother, he turned to someone else, asked the same question, and got the same answer as before.

31 The things David was saying were picked up and reported to Saul. Saul sent for him.

32 “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.”

33 Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.”

34-37 David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.”

Saul said, “Go. And God help you!”

38-39 Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge.

David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off.

40 Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.

41-42 As the Philistine paced back and forth, his shield bearer in front of him, he noticed David. He took one look down on him and sneered—a mere youngster, apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed.

43 The Philistine ridiculed David. “Am I a dog that you come after me with a stick?” And he cursed him by his gods.

44 “Come on,” said the Philistine. “I’ll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I’ll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice.”

45-47 David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that Goddoesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”

48-49 That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt.

50 That’s how David beat the Philistine—with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David!