Monday, February 28, 2011

On making a house a HOME...



There's something sacred when you move into a new house - ok, not a brand new, builder's grade, pick out the carpeting colors house - but one that's new to you. One that bears the scars of misuse by years of other residents, one that has been abused - but has good bones.

I'm the painter in the family. I LOVE to paint! More than choosing colors and imagining what potential a room will hold, I love the immediacy of the change - instant gratification. I love seeing a new hue appearing on a wall, how it changes with the afternoon light, how it looks with things hung on the walls, furniture in place. I love the change.

About a year ago we were hunting for houses, making a move from Cassville, MO to Henderson, KY. We had lived in Cassville for 19 years...our kids were mostly raised there (minus a few years in GA and a partial year in AR). For better or worse, we lived in a grand total of SEVEN houses there... and a grand amount of cleaning up after people and covering a multitude of walls took place over all that time.

I'm not sure if it's because we moved so much, or because I was never really happy there, that it never felt like home. I always said it was my "40 years in the wilderness," those 19 years in SW MO. It was a season of growing closer to Mark, growing closer to God, and learning more about myself. I felt that once I (or someone near to me - I have no idea who) learned what it was that I/they were supposed to, I would be released from that area and in to the promised land....or at least to another area of the world to wander - until I learned my lessons there...here...

So, after a few months in an apartment (now THAT'S another blog spot all together) we moved into our small home. We opted to be content with small for a number of reasons, mostly being that we didn't want to be "house poor," and we had learned in the apartment that we (being Mark and I and Abbey the Wonderdog) didn't need a lot of space. A little house in a subdivision, enough yard to put a barrier around us and grow a little privacy, and a quaint neighborhood to grow in. We love where we live...although sometimes I long for a larger kitchen....just large enough to bring the rest of the stuff in from out in the garage... seat a group around the table without having to squeeze against the wall....but those times happen so few that it's really ok here. Really.

If you've ever bought a "used" house you know the fantasy....all the things that you want to do "soon" (but realistically don't get done until just before you put the house on the market to sell). My list included a lot of painting (of course), new flooring (mostly done), and a complete landscaping overhaul to make the  house look more like a French garden than a tract home...needless to say, I've placed my order with Burpee Seed to see what I can cultivate here.

A can of paint can do so much good. Recently I knocked off one of my goals and got rid of the hideous front door color - which was as close as I can describe as dried blood. Usually, in every other house I've resided in the past 15 years, I've opted for a berry red color - bright (but not too bright), warm (but not too orange) and inviting. This house, with brownish brick and tan siding, looking like every other house on the block, needed something different. Something to make it stand out. The fact that it sat back in an alcove (which is great to keep you dry while you're coming in the house) made it yell "bright" a bit more. I had chosen a very mellow barely apricot color, but Mark said it was too white. The second coat is definitely apricot. I hope it YELLS "WELCOME!! COME ON IN!!"  : )

The shutters are down from the brickwork and awaiting their turn to be changed from that dried blood red color to a welcoming almost teal...trendy, sure...but also welcoming and bright. The garage door will be soon to follow.

I have flower seeds ordered that will also highlight these colors, bringing the total look together. I'm not a fan of shrubbery, but recognize the need to have some mainstays in a garden. I'm hoping that in time we can pull things out (including a tree in the front yard - a nice tree - but not the RIGHT tree!) and replace them with hydrangeas and Eastern Redbud's, perennials to take root and a bevy of annuals that will reseed themselves and surprise me with their seasonal blooms.

So, small kitchen and all...this is home.

I'm blessed with a group of friends here that have all moved from someplace else.  Some of them still call the last place they lived "home." They'll say, "I'm going back home for the weekend" or "I want to go home."

One of them asked me the other night, where I hoped to "end up."  My first response was heaven (no duh), and then I said "wherever He leads me"...the truth. See, many people still call where they came from "home", but I know that for whatever season, no matter how long it lasts, home is where I am. I can change the color of the walls, rearrange furniture, plant a garden...and it's home. It's where I go to every night, and wake up at every morning. It's where I long to be in a rainstorm, and where I want to make memories with my grandkids (who all live someplace else).

It's home, simply stated, even if I still have a long list of things to do...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Forgiveness, permission to forgive, and forget??

In response to Bonnie Gray at http://FaithBarista.com on *forgiveness*:

I am an extra *mature woman* in a class meant for young moms on Wednesday mornings at church. Our pastor's wife leads a break-out class for these ladies called "Focusing on Family" and she does a great job in preparing a weekly study for us to do, in conjunction to the chapter that we read each week on our own. It's a great time of fellowship, encouragement, and memories for me as I dredge through the memories of when I was a young mom...MANY years ago!!

Yesterday, after class, one of the young mom's asked when we could have a conversation on "In-Laws". I cringed. This is not a topic that I can offer much encouragement in....and I filled her in on the details, expanding that for the record, my experience with my own parental units isn't much better.

The hope came in the fact that I think that it is completely normal for parents/children/grandchildren to not get along. Especially, and this is the key, when one generation (or another) is following Jesus, and the others are not (and worst when the older ones are not).

I'm going to post an article that relates to this to the bottom of the page, and continue to write while I have my thoughts on it...

My father and I are very different - we used to be very much the same, but then I met Jesus - and I was changed - a LOT - and as I continue to walk with Him and adhere to His teachings, my relationship with my earthly father deteriorates. I struggled with it for years, many of them living just 15 miles away and inviting him over for every imaginable reason, wanting to have family, and being denied it because of what he and his current wife wanted (he's in his 4th marriage). After some good godly friend advice, a few months in therapy, and a LOT of prayer, I realized that I had done everything I could do to be a "good daughter" and that the problem wasn't mine, it was his. I was making his problem mine, and I had to allow myself to forgive and accept that we don't - and won't - have a close relationship. It was ok, until we moved. Then he laid a guilt trip on me (manipulation is key with him/them) about us being so far away (when they won't see us in the same town?) and how would we be available to help (when they don't allow us to now anyways). I picked up the "good daughter banner" again, although with less enthusiasm, and made the move with my husband - and it's been great.

Jump to my in-law relationship. My own mom died when I was almost 13 and so I was thrilled to have such a great mother in law when Mark and I married. Unfortunately, she was not thrilled to get me - at least initially - but once the grandkids all came around she was a gracious grandmother and mother in law, and I enjoyed several years of friendship. I loved her, admired her, and although she is not a follower of Jesus, I enjoyed "spiritual discussions" with her and prayed for her to see the truth of Jesus. In most ways, I revered her as my "mom", since my own dad had gone through another marriage/divorce and marriage. When my father-in-law died, we drew especially close...it was very special season of life shared.

When she entered into a relationship with another man, we had reservations, and were honest about them. When an unfortunate incident occurred, something I won't go in to here in detail, but one that caused great emotional pain for me, she pulled out all her "true feelings for me" and poured them into emails that were heartbreaking even more. It was painfully communicated that she never did approve of me, hiding her feelings; then accusing me of "always" manipulating situations, doing/saying anything to be the center of attention, and driving a wedge to keep her and her son apart. I was floored. This was never an intention (we had even discussed her living with us as she got older), never my motivation.

Not only was I brought through emotional trauma of a former abusive situation, but I lost my closest relationship with the person I considered my "mom", and found out she despised me. Then, months later, when I finally gave in to share the situation with my father, he misunderstood a statement that I referred to on this abuse, and he brought up a declaration that he himself had abused me! I was shattered even more, but it shed light on so much of my confused past, and I finally understood so much more. I now knew why he didn't bring charges against the man who abused me as a child, why he never took me to counseling, to a doctor. I understood why whenever I did something wrong I was met with "you haven't done anything worse than what I've done", and why each of his wives were so much younger than he, the last one not much older than me (and younger than my half sisters). I still don't recall any incidents with him, leading me to believe that it was either so traumatic I've blocked it from memory, or that I was drugged - this was the era of "sex, drugs, rock and roll" in Southern California.

I understood too, why God allowed the distance to be placed between my family and my dad - for whatever reason it would be - it protected my own children and I now don't have to worry about them being made a victim of his abuse. The hurt I felt for not having a great relationship with him, for not having him there to see the kids on holidays and enjoy seeing their accomplishments growing up, suddenly became God's protection.

So, forgiveness...where did it all come into play??

I had forgiven my abuser when i first became a Christian - confessing my own sin and the role that Satan played in perpetuating it, I recognized that my abuser was also caught up in a web of addiction that Satan cast out. I had to own up to my decisions, but realizing the source of those behaviors - how could I not forgive the one that hurt me?? A few years later he became a believer!!

I had forgiven my mother in law, as painful as it was, and her life partner. I would not, could not, allow myself to be put in a compromising spot again - but she also has chosen to not see us without him. We are at an impasse. (for the record, a few of our family members, including my husband, were not fond of some of his inappropriate language/actions before the unfortunate incident, so this was just frosting on the cake). Even if this didn't happen, we wouldn't be vacationing with him/them.

I had to forgive my dad and his actions of years ago, and the woman he was living with at that time, for allowing something like that to have happened. It is water under the bridge, and history could not be changed...it was what it was, and he was still my dad.

I had to forgive myself, again, for all the years I didn't trust His will in all of this; for fighting for family meals and get togethers. For wanting to have relationship with an earthly family more than a heavenly one. For placing my heart in the hands of imperfect humans instead of trusting God with the details of family - and seeing the wonderful Christian family He consistently placed around me to love me and my family.

So, forgiveness is paramount. Unforgiveness can drive a wedge between God and ourselves, another thing that keeps us from communion with Him. I wasn't willing to have that.

The funny thing? Those that I admire most in their Christian Walk, those that seemingly have it all together, and have wonderful relationship with their kids at home, we share something in common. Almost always, they too have fractured families. Satan seems to like to attack our family unit. So I'll keep serving Jesus, loving my imperfect family on their terms while protecting my life/heart/body. I'll trust God to put mentor/leaders in my life to guide me and set an example, and continue to pray for my earthly family that need Jesus love so much - to fill their lonliness, to be their life partners - for them to not be believers - but FOLLOWERS - of Jesus. That is my prayer.

And it's ok for me to leave some distance between us...a little space for God to work...on me too...


"“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ 
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:34-39
It can be so hard to get along with family members - I think that this problem has gone on as long as man has walked the earth!
Sometimes we’re surprised when situations arise, especially if we have good memories of peaceful times, but Jesus reminds us that He made it this way. After all, if we got along too well, we might put our love for our family above our love for Him.
I think too, that He intended it to be this way so that we would turn to Him during times that we would want to turn to others. How often we want to ask and take other’s opinions and advice to heart, when possibly we are simply to turn to our Savior and wait on His movement in our lives.
Recently I heard a teaching on who we are wanting God to be for us. The pastor  pointed out how we often are wanting God to provide a matchmaker, a career counselor, a financial advisor or a marriage counselor for us...but what God gave us - through Jesus - was a Savior. THAT is what we need the most, and if we draw near to Him, believe His words, follow His teachings and examples - THEN all these other things will be taken care of. It might not be in the standards we are wanting today, and He may change our hearts (and priorities) to reflect the influence He is having in our lives, but He WILL provide.
Often we treat our parents, or children, the same way. We confide in them, expect them to meet all our needs, are disappointed when they let us down, and hold them to an unrealistic standard. I think that sometimes we get in the way of the work that God is trying to do in our family. I’m convicted of this often in my own life, and see the strife it causes in relationships. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke this teaching to us, to remind us that we are always called to loved HIM more than our own family members.
Although this is the “month of love”, perhaps we ought to turn our hearts to the One that loves us the best, knows our deepest needs, and created us to worship Himself. Instead of asking Him to be our matchmaker, our marriage counselor, or any of the other “positions” we expect Him to be, let’s simply love Him as our Savior, with “all our heart, soul, strength, and mind...” (Luke 10:27).
Grace and peace,
Auntie Em"
(Connection Magazine of SW Missouri; February edition C2011)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Permission to be Loved...

Bonnie, over at the Faith Barista Blog, is focusing on "love" this month...and this week is writing on the topic of giving permission to be loved...something dear to my heart.

See, in my early years, before knowing who Jesus was, or that He loved me, or what church was all about, I knew the need to be loved. I don't know if it was genes, or homelife, or a rough childhood with inappropriate relationships (not sought out...too young of me to have thought of that), I knew I needed love...that I craved it...needed it.

Without going into a lot of detail right now, I grew up lonely. I remember sitting alone, rocking myself, bumping my head up against a wall. I remember rocking, curled up in a recliner, I remember wishing that I knew that someone cared. It makes me sad, and sick, to remember these things and to think that no one knew something was wrong...but that's another topic.

SO, for whatever reason, I was always wanting this unconditional love. I knew "conditional" - it was what happened in my everyday life. It should have come from my mom, but for whatever reason it didn't (she died when I was pre-teen from cancer), and I wanted it from my dad - but never felt it was the right kind of love, and tried to fill other things, people, places, in that gap. Nothing fit. It was a round whole and all I had was square pegs.

It wasn't until my LATE teen years, that in a desperate moment I cried out..."IF there is a God, you have to reveal yourself to me...cause I can't live like this any more...".  Then HE met me there, wrapped His arms around me, and held me.

Although it took me a few more years to see Him at work around me, find the right church, get plugged in, it happened. I was baptized, I finally knew what that love was about. He fit! Instantly!!

I know that He always wanted to love me...His love was always there for me to take - I only needed to learn of it and accept it.

Compared to human love, His love is so much more - unconditional, never ending, long-suffering (important with me!!), perfect. Now I have to remember to not expect the people I love to provide that same type of love, and for me to try to mimic His love as much as possible to others....something I am still working on....or rather something He is working on me still...it's a life long process...but He's got time...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

photos from florida

Someone went to Florida, and all you got was to see their photos....
















Ch-ch-ch-changes....

The beautiful thing about not having a plan set in stone, is that it can be changed easily. Over the past few days we've talked about if we should stay longer, leave today, head in another direction and see what we could find. We've talked about driving back a different way, driving up to see our grandgirls, driving to another location and staying another few nights.

As of now, we're leaving today. There's only so much you can do in a hotel room, and it's too cold outside for me to be comfortable (our windy afternoon pics left me "breathless" - literally and figuratively - as my asthma flared). I know we're headed towards home, but don't know what we'll find along the way...so I can't say when we'll get there...and I'll enjoy every moment of the journey...and every moment we've spent here too...I'll continue to enjoy each moment we're together...for even though it still feels like we have a week ahead of us, I know how quickly these first 27 years have gone by.

Love is different now...I can find those starry eyed moments...passionate kisses that leave me breathless and amazed at how blessed I am to be married to Mark; but more so, I live in this "everyday love" of deep appreciation for all the little things - things beyond bringing home a paycheck (although I greatly appreciate that too!) but the everydayness of seeing each other first thing in the morning - when my hair had a party the night before, with morning breath and stinky feet, with asthma that renders me no fun at all, and aging bodies and receding hairlines. This is love.

Twenty years ago it was sick kids (and sick me!), and ball game schedules, and dirty dishes stacked in the sink...too many hours at work and wondering if it was worth getting out of sweats. Ten years ago it was sending girls to college, and ball game schedules, and wondering what was next on our horizon, and where...and juggling schedules for work and trying to make some time for us.

Now this is life: No kids at home, aging bodies, understanding work schedule, and nothing more important than finding time together. I know too soon what season looms ahead...and I want to cherish this season, since all the others sped by too quickly.

I'm so grateful for God's steadfast love for us all this time. How He has held us near, heard our prayers, prompted us to move when He opened the door, prepares our hearts for what lies ahead. Thank You God for these 27 years with Mark. Thank you for memories of difficult seasons, and happy days. Thanks for the joy of babies born and the times you grew our faith as we prayed bedside for "everything to be ok". Thanks for the seasons we were joined at the hips, and the seasons You've used us alone. Thanks for teaching us the difference between loving, and being in love, and growing both of them on the foundation of Your love. Solid. True.

I know that it doesn't take fancy gifts, or elaborate vacations, or even a ton of time together to build a happy marriage. It takes a heart that can forgive, a willingness to be changed, and living the way God's called us to live - in devotion to Him first, and in commitment to each other in marriage.

I pray that we'll cling to Him in the next 27 years, and survive whatever hardships we need to to be able to celebrate another year in another way.

Oh, and for the record - we never really took a honeymoon, never made a big deal out of our anniversaries all those years...there were things that came up, life that needed to be lived and things that needed to be done for work and so they got done. This is the first time I can remember specifically setting time aside for us to take an anniversary trip, and I'm not completely sure that this is what it is - but more than likely it just happened to fall into place for us to call it that now. That's ok. If we stay home the next 27 years on our anniversary, I know it doesn't mean that Mark loves me less....our love isn't like that.  :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Get A Way...

When our kids were younger, there was always a retreat on the horizon - whether for our kids to attend, or for us to sponsor, we were always going on a get away.

Now days, Mark may have a trip he needs to take occasionally, and I've had a few missions things to get to go to, but it's not with the same mindset of being restored and renewed in our spiritual walk.

Sometimes I would like to be a kid, and catch that same wave of enthusiasm that kids come back with from summer camp! Of course, maturing in Christ also means learning to reside in that spot on the mountain top, in and out of season...so daily my walk is closer to that spot - but I still long for the outpouring of love that you feel in that spot.

Mark and I had decided a few months ago that we would take an "us vacation" this year. Our whole married life (all 27 years of them) there have only been a few times that we did something away for "us". One time Mark had to work in Puerto Rico and his mom came to stay with the kids so I could join him for a few days (out of the month or so he was there). Since he got up and worked every day, while I lay on the beaches, dodging showers and soaking sunshine, I guess that one didn't really count...   Oh, but a few years later, I think it was the first year that we moved to MO, we took all his frequent flier miles, and all his hotel rewards, and flew to the Bahamas for a weekend. We were broke and couldn't afford anything more than a few days of the "all inclusive" trip....but we got away!

Since then, we have had some great times together, but they have been kid driven (all those sports activity trips, and even our BIG trip to Asia!!), or grand-kid driven (gotta see those kids every now and again!!), or work driven...which is always a blessing when they pick up the tab! For whatever reason, we just haven't put much time into taking "us" on the road, just to spend time together.
But we did this time.

NOW.

So Mark put this week on the calendar at work, set aside this time for us to get away. We didn't know where...he thought of doing a cruise, then he thought of going to Myrtle Beach, but we couldn't settle on any destination. The requirements were this: warm weather (well, warmer than it's been at home), a large body of water (waves preferred), and no family or friends allowed. This time, it was going to be about us....just the 2 of us!

We literally didn't know where we'd end up till we were driving in our car and coming to a point of having to choose the fork in the road: go east to the coast, or south to the gulf. We decided to go south, only because the weather would be a little warmer.

We didn't have a hotel, and after making a few phone calls and using our smart phone to surf for deals, we decided to wait till we got there...got here. I feebly stated my wish-list-prayer to God as we gave up on the phone calling..."hotel on the beach, beach front room, king size bed, non-smoking, breakfast included for under $$$."

We arrived in Pensacola Beach by a series of deductions (instead of the Orange Beach, AL area), and started driving the strand...we went west first, past a few huge hotels, one with no balconies and one with "Margaritaville" in the name...(pass on that), and then turned around and headed in the other direction. LOTS of high rise, big name hotels. For whatever reason, Mark chose the Marriott, and went in to see what the rates were...if there were any deals to be had.

Of course, he came out with exactly what we needed...all our needs met - and because of the special "buy 2 nights get 1 free" deal, we got it for the price we'd hoped for overall. God's so good!!
We've enjoyed the lazy days of beach front living. We've reminisced about our own young married life living near the Pacific Ocean, talked about the storms at sea, and the ones we've weathered in marriage, and we've been able to re-connect with each other in life, and in marriage. I highly recommend getting away every now and again - just the two of you - to remind each of you why it was that you fell in love with each other in the first place...

The sunny skies of yesterday have given way to the rainy ones today, and yet the turquoise waters of the gulf are as beautiful as ever. Winds are whipping the white caps, pushing them with a frenzy on the shore...the sun is slowly trying to push out from the clouds...we may have a lovely afternoon...but for now it's cool and windy...

Oh, and for the record...you don't have to spend every waking moment together doing a list of things prepared for you to do...even now, while I'm blogging, Mark is out beach-combing...looking for a whole sand dollar as big as the broken pieces we saw on the beach all day yesterday. Now, I'm going to lay down and hunker under the covers and take a little nap...until he comes back with all his treasures...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

All About Dating...

Well, Bonnie over at Faith Barista wanted the topic to be "what I wish someone told me about dating" - but that would be too many years ago for me to remember that...so I'll put a twist on it...throw in some parenting...and blog away....

I love Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart, above all else; for it determines the course of your life.

How I wish I could instill this in each young person today...well, every person younger than me!  : )  We so often are rushing young people into the dating world, to have boyfriends/girlfriends way too early, even setting up our toddlers for future romances. I know, a lot of it is done in fun, and I did it myself when my kids were young, but I don't know that it's the right foundation for them to build upon. I think we're teaching them really young that they NEED to have a relationship to be ok...to be normal...when in fact the normal is to be completely sold out for Jesus!!

OH, I know, I hear readers all over the globe in a collective moan of "oh no" over my thoughts..."she's one of THOSE..." - and that's ok. I've raised my kids, we've had one selectively date (married now 6 2/3 years), one choose to do courtship (married 6 1/2 years), and ONE is still dating... which is the hardest on me...honestly!!

I have a lot of thoughts on dating...but I want to focus on laying a foundation for dating - that verse in Proverbs.

People date for a lot of reasons...for me it was the cultural revolution of the 70's that I grew up in in Southern CA. I was not raised in a Christian home, and there wasn't a good role model in my life to show me what proper dating was about. We hung out, did drugs, and got into trouble...we didn't "date". Because of my skewed mental state, every relationship - in my mind - was going to end in a marriage. I was looking for something to fill that whole in my heart, and a man was the only thing I knew to put in that spot....and they didn't fit...no matter how hard I tried to make them.

After I became a believer, and then a follower, of Jesus Christ, I began to learn that HE fit that spot in my heart! It took a while for me to realize that He needed to stay there, the throne of my heart was for Him alone, and it was trial and error before I understood that it wasn't a loveseat - meant to be shared - but only for Jesus.

So, what is the purpose of dating in your life?? I was trying to find someone to meet my needs (there isn't one around), to build a relationship with (it takes time, HIS timing), and eventually marry (ok). I thought he would provide financially for me (they try, but ultimately it's God's doing), wanted to have a family (again God's doing), and all the while have that pretty little house with the white picket fence to call home (which shouldn't be where I store my treasures, but in heaven alone).

My point is this. Fall in love with Jesus. Let Him be your best friend, your boyfriend, the love of your life. Let Him be your Father too...since that's where we model after...and it would be better to have His imprint on your heart than any earthly man (even if he is godly, if he is a God follower, he would want you to seek someone like Jesus to marry).  Get really comfortable with Jesus, because I promise you, even after marriage, you'll spend a lot of time with Him - or at least we SHOULD.

OOOhhh...I almost went there ...across the marriage bridge - but I'll wait till next week when we post on what we knew about marriage....

Back to dating:
Spend time with Jesus - and the reason that's so important is this - if you hang out in your Bible, get to know those God qualities well, then that's what you'll start to look for in your friendships, and ultimately you will recognize them in your future spouse. You'll see Jesus in him, and that's a good place to start. You might see the fruits of the spirit, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. You'll see him behave in a way that Jesus might. You'll see him treat you with respect, not because he wants to impress you, but because he sees that YOU are a daughter of THE King, and he'll see Jesus at work in you.

So, the verse in Proverbs is important, because if you don't guard your heart - you'll give it away, in bits and pieces (every time you date or have a relationship) and when you DO get to THE ONE, there might not be much left to give him. And if your heart is like a dowry, and you don't have much left to give THE ONE, what will that man be like  - will he have much to give you in return?? Will he cherish you, or will you not be of much worth, not have much left to give him? I think that's the "course of your life" part of the verse.

Be sure of who you are. God loves you. He created you with a purpose and a plan, and if you walk with Him in obedience, He will reveal the plan to you in His time. Be content in singleness, even if it's your hearts' desire to be married...He won't forget. In His time He will reveal it to you, but don't ever let a man's love replace the relationship you have with Jesus...the right man will love you all the more for it, and he will be happy to be #2 in your heart.

this is your spiritual act of worship

I've been out of sorts lately...not trying to be...but dealing with the whole diagnosis of asthma, and catching every bug in this winter system, has had me down. I have felt all along that this is either spiritual warfare, or God is trying to teach me something - how opposite can you get??? - and usually just floundering in between. I don't doubt God's ability to heal, allow illness, or use it for our benefit - and ultimately I believe that ALL things in life, whether good or bad, exist to bring Him glory. It's not about me, it's all about Jesus!

So these past few months, I'm sort of getting knocked around a bit more than usual, and not quite sure what this all means. I hesitated to write/blog about any of it as it has been an emotional roller coaster, and there are plenty of folks on those right now...lol..no need to ask anyone to stand in THAT line!! And yet, in a more recent revelation, as I sit in my twice filtered air, running humidifiers and taking pills, using my inhalers, and getting through a cold to boot, it hits me - WRITE.

Oh GOSH!! HOW can I be SO stupid sometimes?? How many times have I found myself at this EXACT spot, like a plot that we see in a whole list of movies - same story, different scenery - and this is my life. WRITE.

See, God's gifted me many ways (I believe He has gifted ALL of us many ways!!) but sometimes I lose the forest for the trees.

Do you remember in the movie "Little Women" with Wynona Ryder, and he's telling her how she should have been a teacher...and she responded "There's a great many things I should have been..." or something like that... That's how I feel. There are SO many things I CAN do...but not all of them are what I was MADE to do...I was made to write.

I wrote when I was a little kid...I loved it. I loved writing (dramatic as it was) as an adolescent, as a teen. I was writing and posting in an online group as soon as I was on a computer...posting devotionals and writing my heart out. I was MADE to write.

(haha...I HOPE He also created people MADE to read...)

My problem is that I love doing other things too, and I'm ABLE to do other things. I love organizing events, helping people create and run things, making phone calls and visiting. I enjoy getting to know people, spending time asking questions and making them feel like they are the only person in the room. I love encouraging people, finding how God's equipped them and praying with them to see what He wants to do with those gifts. I love to travel, to quilt, to paint and do photography, to cook, to serve others....and He equipped me to do all these things...but usually they all serve as a distraction to what I'm supposed to be doing...WRITING.

So, my word for the year this year is "Intentional" - to do things on purpose - not on accident, not haphazardly, not halfway...but with specific design. And although it's taken me a month to figure how this is played out in my life - I'm here - back on the blog and typing up a storm.

For me, writing - this year - is a spiritual act of worship.