“I will lead them down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.” – Isaiah 42:16
I will be the first mom to say that mommin’ ain’t easy. I have been blessed to be able to be a step mom for almost three years and now have the privilege of raising one of my own as well. Both roles are difficult in different ways but both are beautiful as well. They don’t tell you about the difficult times and the sleepless nights. Maybe they do but in your mind you imagine different. They don’t tell you about being so worried about either of them or praying for their future. They don’t tell you how deeply and completely your heart will belong to them.
If there is one thing I’ve learned these last three years and these last two weeks, it’s that being a mom should be hard because being a mom means sacrifice. It means giving when you are empty. Loving when you are hurt. Praying when you don’t know what to say. And hoping that through it all you can be a light in the darkness and a refuge from the storms in this world. God has reminded me that it is a blessing to be walked out with Him. Time with Him is crucial to not lose your sanity and patience. Prayer is our biggest weapon against the enemy and love covers all.
So while there are many days I have cried over these last few years, there are many prayers that have been answered. God continues to guide and show me how to walk along this mom path. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s just really hard. But at all times, He is God and He is with us. He gives us the strength we need for each day if we let Him.
I’ve blogged off and on for years now. I’ve written commercially about fitness, how to grow your gym, and how to motivate your clients. Somehow when it came time to write this blog (my first for #ThisIsLiving) I lacked the ability to motivate myself to do it. I’d write a few sentences here and there that I’d quickly go back and delete. I’d stare at my computer screen with the cursor flashing, daring me to write something. I even got a whole paragraph in comparing the spiritual pursuit to running- something that has way more parallels than you can imagine. Yet, I still found every excuse under the sun not to write a blog entry – something I had volunteered to do. Why?
After staring at the blank page for the better part of two months, I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom. I am in no stretch of the imagination what you’d expect a Christian to be. I am tatted up with a half sleeve, live in yoga pants, I curse more than I’d like to, I’ve been divorced, and I loathe the societal stigma that has somehow attached itself to being an Christian. So, who am I to write to you about anything to do with holiness?
…I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom.
On Sunday, the message at church was on Jonah. During which it became abundantly clear that like Jonah, I had been running from doing something that I feel God has called me to do. Don’t you hate that? When people say stuff like that? “God told me.” I used to hate that, too. It sounds totally cliché, but I assure you it is also totally legit. When I say that God called me to write this, I don’t mean I audibly heard him say it. It is more like something on my mind and in my heart that I can’t quite put into words. Obviously, it wasn’t something of my own creating. I’ve fought hard against it. Where is all this leading you’re wondering? Don’t worry I’m finally getting to the main idea.
Like Jonah, I was afraid and I had taken hold of a pagan idea and pretended it was true. I was afraid to put myself out there by writing and being vulnerable. I had taken hold of the pagan idea that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Since I don’t fit that mold, I felt I had no business in writing this. Then I recalled how Hebrew literature depicted some of the best of the best: David, Abraham, Jacob. None of these men were painted to be holier-than-thou and perfect. God used them in their imperfectness, and with their many sinful blemishes, to do amazing things. They knew what I’ve come to realize in writing this and through the message I heard…what I hope you’ll explore as well: “We can keep trying our plan, or we can yield to God” and “Sometimes, the thing you feel uncomfortable doing is the thing God’s called you to do.”
God was there in the beginning and God is Love, but I wasn’t there in the beginning…and I don’t feel that love right now. There are days when it’s hard to love others, but God says that those are the most important days to do just that. I stand with this reality in front of me on those days, and it’s difficult to say yes to a love that I do not see in action in others. I do not exist seeing the fullness of time knowing the eternal insignificance of my anger and the importance of love. I don’t want to see the fullness of time because the momentary affliction is too strong for me to wrap around my mind.
It is not easy to be the one sitting on the inside trying to look out at these issues. When the ones that I am called to love are fighting me at every opportunity they get, how can I be expected to love then? Sometimes I sit and wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to not love at all. I wonder if I could exist in a world of solitude knowing that I don’t have to be hurt when my brother in Christ turns to me and looks me in the eye and lies. I wonder if it’s easier to exist in a world without commitment and accountability when he takes that advice I give him and spits it in my face. I wonder if it’s easier to love without covenant when my loved ones and I fight to the point where it gets too personal and too direct. When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
What exactly am I expected to do? I turn to the books and I re-read them, but what I’m reading has lost its meaning long ago. I flip through the pages of my bible looking for the answer but the Spirit sends me back only with the commandment to, “love as I loved first.” These words sting in my ears because they are the very reality I am fighting against. Love. What a word to come from someone I have cursed out in my prayers and yet He stays there. Am I expected to understand the depths of love from Someone who knew my every action while sitting on the outside of time and said yes? How can I stand in between the pain of my brother and the ones I love with this knowledge in my brain and say nothing?
I come back to the depths of my mind and ask, “Where am I to go?” God sends me back to the beginning and asks me where I am. I look into the depths of Him and see myself there. In the beginning of time. When God was love, and I was on His mind. He loved me first, and I chose to fight Him every opportunity I got. He loved me first, and I looked Him in His all-seeing eyes and I lied. He loved me first when I cursed His Spirit as He called my life and made it personal and direct. He loved me first when the resistance got so strong and I said no to the forgiveness of His Son, and yet He still called me back with those three words. Love Me first.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you” – Isaiah 43:2
This verse has resonated with me a great deal recently. I feel like the Lord just kept saying it to me over and over again this past week as my anxiety crept up in the way it usually does. This anxiety is not necessarily due to any one certain thing, but everything–the small and the big. I like to be in control of all aspects of my life, and when I realize I’m not, it can feel so immensely halting. The unknown can feel truly crippling at times. I’ve struggled to give this control over to God for so long. For too long I’ve fought this battle by myself, not letting anyone else take control. Especially not the One who wants to take it all from me. I am only so strong.
And as I let this verse from Isaiah settle in my mind and in my heart, I realized I don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve struggled with this burden for as long as I can remember and I don’t want to fight this battle alone. I don’t need to fight this alone. I can keep trying my plan…or I can yield to God. His grace abounds in deepest waters and I feel God’s grace most when He settles the storms inside me. I know He can use these struggles to draw us closer to Him and this includes the anxiety we may feel in life.
Admitting I struggle with anxiety has been such a rough battle in itself. Anxiety at it’s depths is ugly, and I didn’t want to burden others with my struggles. But that’s where I’m learning about community as well. I’m slowly growing a community around myself that encourages me to draw closer to God when I feel weak. He will never abandon me when I’m afraid. He knows my struggles and fears, and He holds me anyway.
Have you ever bought a car that you thought was uncommon, only to then start noticing that every other car on the road is just like yours? Or just learned a new word that you’d never heard before, and then you start hearing it everywhere? Well that is happening to me right now with the word “intentional.” I have of course used this word much of my life, but usually when I hauled off and hit my brother and would then tell Mom, “It wasn’t intentional.”
Today, the meaning of intentional seems to have grown in stature. Suddenly, I am hearing that I should be living intentionally. Be more intentional. Embrace intentionality (is that even a real word?). Set intentionality goals and resolutions. It’s everywhere, and it’s foreign to me. Continue reading “Unintentionally Intentional”
Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’ Jeremiah 9:23-24
I toed the line at the annual Toronto Marathon that I had trained many months for. I wrote verses on my shoes, prayed about my upcoming race and goals I had set and gave it all over to the Lord as we made our way to the start line the morning of. Some people don’t understand running, and that is ok. But for me, running is a way that brings me closer to God. I feel His love and heartbeat for me in moments of pain and find His joy and protection in the moments of simplistic beauty that surround me on each run. To me, running is my unique time spent with Jesus. My own special way to worship Him.
On this particular day, I felt complete peace about this race. Usually, I am very nervous and can’t seem to keep food in my system. But this race felt different. I knew I had given the long months of training my all. I had worked hard, struggled with injury and enjoyed every moment. Even if I didn’t meet my goal, I had peace.
Every one of us longs to be a hero. God has engraved this in us. We know that we are made for more and long to accomplish the biggest of feats for Him and for His glory. Sometimes along the way we lose sight of the One who we are serving. It feels good to succeed and to do it all “for His glory.” As we begin to excel, flattery can so easily creep in and seeds of pride can be planted. But what about losing for His glory? What about not accomplishing what you hoped you would, for His glory?
Continue reading “The Unusual Hero”
In my last blog post, I wrote about how I need to do more preaching to my own soul, to get truth sown deeper into my heart and mind…especially during the difficult times and circumstances of life. Well, sometimes, I struggle with this.
I can tend to get into such a place that it would take more mental and emotional where-with-all, strength and stamina than I have at that moment to even know where to start. The scriptures that had once brought comfort and peace and that strengthened me, that I wrote on my bathroom mirror and have on my screensaver and put as the wallpaper on my phone, fall flat. I can read them and have friends speak them to me and even meditate on them, trying to squeeze out the same results that I had before when that scripture brought me new life, but to no avail…I’m still just as broken or hurt or hopeless.
I have learned that for me, in those times, I need a little something else before I am able to absorb the truths that I know in my head but that are having a hard time penetrating my heart…and it’s not because the truths are not as true this time or that the effectiveness of scripture has changed. Typically for me, it is because I am spent. (You know, when it’s not because I’m being rebellious and outright ignoring or rejecting truth.) I’m mentally, spiritually and emotionally exhausted, and I can’t even think of how to approach preaching to myself. But because my God is faithful and gracious to me, He has given me a tool to use when I can’t make myself function, when I need to stop trying to fix myself and just rest in His presence. For me, that tool is worship, songs of truth that can wash over me in comforting waves and that I can proclaim when I can’t find the words for myself.
Continue reading “Truth Through Earbuds”
No one asks for a map when they know where they are going. In fact, maps are pulled out, dusted off and unfolded only when the user has no idea where they are or where they are going.
Maps are for the helpless.
Maps bring order and definition to the unknown. They give the user a picture of all surroundings and succinctly and precisely say, “You are here.” With a few glances, one can figure out where they are, where they need to be and the quickest way to get there without much effort or thought. There is no question about the authority of the map. What the map says, goes.
I treat God like a map. I intend on using God to show me where I am at, where I need to go and how I need to get there. And when I find myself in times of the unknown, when I do not understand where I am going, I cry out asking for clarity. In the moments of uncertainty, I believe that God has abandoned me or I am listening improperly to the map.
I thought that God’s intention was to reveal my entire life plan to me. I assumed God would show me exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. God has a plan and if I just listen close enough I can make all the right choices that will lead me to the perfect life. Or so I believed. Continue reading “You Are Here”
When it comes to living a lifestyle of Christian discipleship, you may call me a “late bloomer.” Really, really late. Like, so late that it’s sort of embarrassing that it took me this long to get on the right path. Looking back, I’m sometimes saddened by how much time I spent doing my thing instead of the things God had lined up for me to do. How much further down my spiritual journey road could I be if I had just started earlier?
Continue reading “Better Late than Not at All!”
Being a single mom is a hard road to walk. It is made harder by the fact most people do not plan on walking it and usually find it through traumatic situations. However, like many dark circumstances, it can serve as a back drop to show off the brightness of God’s love and depths of His grace.
Continue reading “The Beauty of Being a Single Mom”