Finding My Place

Romans 12:3-8 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

A lot of us have done those tests that help narrow down what your spiritual gift(s) are. I love tests like that because I always need help narrowing things down. Even with that, I have two that are pretty dominant. Using your spiritual gifts brings fulfillment in service to God. We are all created with a different part to play. It is a cooperative play with beautiful individual pieces working together to form one amazing working body as the bible says. When we examine the scriptures comparison, it makes so much sense. When our body has all of the different parts working the way they were designed, it is a beautiful thing. It is beautiful when your arms are able to reach out and extend an encouraging hug; your legs able to walk with your child/grandchild up that mountain; your heart pumping the right amount of blood at just the right the second and so on. Then there is the alternative, when the cells in your body are attacking one another resulting in potential death; your legs slowly becoming too shaky to use and almost becoming as if they are no longer your own; your brain has now become an enemy and made even your most loved ones, strangers. When each body member is not performing its function, it creates strain on the other parts of the body and chaos.

I feel like this lesson is something I had learned awhile back. But, it’s funny how God teaches you lessons then reteaches with a little twist to remind you, hey, you don’t have this figured out, dude! It’s just like part of verse 3-“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought”. Throughout the last year with the pain and reduced activity, I have not been able to live out my spiritual gifts the way I had or planned too. The key words being-the way I had planned and “my” spiritual gifts. I had to learn to live out my spiritual gifts differently and serve in a new way.

I have always been an “action” type person. I am going 24/7 and if I’m sitting still then I feel like I’m doing something wrong.Image result for funny for 24/7

I applied that to how I served God and subsequently others as well. That was until God stopped me in my tracks. So, you have a choice, either stop serving until things are in pristine circumstances again or adjust and grow. We usually have a picture of how things are “supposed” to go and then God has the actual canvas laid out. When we truly surrender ourselves to being used in any way that He plans then we can sincerely be used in the body of Christ.

The gifts that I have really been focused on now are service, by prayer, and encouragement. I struggled with prayer, at first, as if sitting back and praying for someone rather than being present serving was somehow not enough. Service has always been one of my spiritual gifts, but it has been more in a physical capacity. So, I had to adjust my thoughts in this area. When it got down to it and I really took a hard look, (Psalms 139:23-24), I had to realize that I was really thinking of myself “more highly than I ought” in a sense. When we pray, we are crying out for God to move in a person’s life, a situation, a crisis, etc. We are interceding on someone’s behalf in the name of Jesus who has the power to move Heaven and Earth; speak and heal; and to dry every tear. But, I thought “my presence” would mean more than that? You see where I’m going with that??? It’s not to say that physically serving is not Incredibly important. We are called to be the hands and the feet of Christ. But, at the times when we cannot physically be there or in any case really, we are called to pray. God is supremely powerful and He wants to hear us cry out to Him on our behalf and on the behalf of others. It is such a service that I think we forget about.

I have always found music to be an encouragement to me. God has always used the words in songs to really lift me up, convict my heart and motivate me at the different times I needed it. There is something about encouragement that just gives you the strength to keep going and climb to new heights.

Image result for encouragement meme

God has really given me a heart for this. I have realized through these trials that you don’t have to have everything figured out yourself in order to encourage another. You don’t even have to “feel” encouraged yourself necessarily in order to encourage another. God will give me a scripture, a song, a quote, anything that I can pass on to another. As a side note, I never share unless I feel like He is leading me too. Even then sometimes I hold back because I start to think well maybe they will think it is a nuisance, I’ll seem to preachy, etc. But, those are the times I know Satan has in turn used me to block a message that someone may have really needed. The times I have resisted that, I have had people say, man I really needed that. It is never something that I feel I did on my own because it is always something that I wait on God to prompt my heart for. I say these things not to try to sound proud in any way. I say it because it is something that I do in order to keep myself humble. I struggle with the tug-a-war of wanting to be used by God and then sometimes feeling like I somehow did something great. Therefore, I try to build as many caution tape barriers as I possibly can and pray like crazy that God will guard against it. So, that is one of my caution tape barriers. I don’t send an encouragement out unless I feel the Spirit prompting. I feel as though if I began to do it without the Spirit leading me, then I would start to want to take credit for it. Then it becomes something done not out of worship and glory to God, nor out of service, but about me.

I am slowly learning that through every circumstance to consider it joy just like James 1:2-6 says about trials. Because it is producing perseverance and growth in ways that would not have happened without the struggles. I do not enjoy the trial, nor am I enjoying the current trials we are going through, but I am so thankful that God is teaching me who He is through it. I have to cling to it. And I refuse to remain idle. I will serve, thrive and help build his kingdom in any way that He gracefully sees fit in the process. All too often, we (I) get bogged down in our struggles and forget that there are so many around us that are drowning, trying to cling to any life preserver in sight. We can use the gifts He has faithfully given us, through His grace, to help the people around us. No matter the difficulties and trials you are facing today, find your strength in Christ. Hold on to His promises and meditate on them. Then find your place to use your gifts He mercifully gave through His grace. Even if you have to adjust based on your physical condition, I urge you to pray. I urge you to find your place in the body of Christ. All members of the body are needed. If your member has changed a little based on your physical/mental condition, grief, finances, etc., find your new member and start now.

Take Me to the King

I know I’m a little late on the Monday music post, but it’s been a difficult few days. It is ironic because that actually allowed for the perfect song for this week to be presented.

 

Music moves the soul. Music is my dream because I have so strongly experienced it literally lifting a searching, broken soul out of the lowest depth. I have been and am that broken soul so often. I think we all are. It may be just the beat, rhythm, melody, harmony, etc. that gets you at first but then the words seep in and begin to slowly soak the wounds that cut us deeply. It may be only one or two words out of a song. But then there are those, like this song, that speak to your core and almost offer up a prayer to God that you couldn’t quite put into your own words.

We have had a few things that have not gone in our favor the last few weeks. We are still waiting on closing on our house which is now a month past when we were supposed to close, my pain has been getting worse and at every turn we are made to be stuck with obstacles that make it seem like God doesn’t want things to improve. There are personal struggles that come along with that when the world just seems to pull at you at every turn. It almost seems like God is insistent that we live in this continuous valley with little fire storms being pelted down.

When there seems to be no relenting in the storm, you have two choices. You can look up or you can look downcast. I love the words of this song because they are so honest. I feel like they are right where my heart is now. I feel like I don’t have any moving prayers to offer or at moments, I feel I can’t mutter a breath. I come before the King with nothing. I brought nothing to get there in the first place. And the interesting thing is all He asks me to do is to bring my broken soul to Him for healing.

Take me to the king
I don’t have much to bring
My heart is torn in pieces
It’s my offering
Take me to the king

Truth is I’m tired
Options are few
I’m trying to pray
But where are you?
I’m all churched out
Hurt and abused
I can’t fake
What’s left to do?

Truth is I’m weak
No strength to fight
No tears to cry
Even if I tried
But still my soul
Refuses to die
One touch will change my life

Take me to the king
I don’t have much to bring
My heart’s torn into pieces
It’s my offering

Lay me at the throne
Leave me there alone
To gaze upon your glory
And sing to you this song
Please take me to the king

Truth is it’s time
To stop playing these games
We need a word
For the people’s pain

So lord speak right now
Let it fall like rain
We’re desperate
We’re chasing after you

No rules, no religion
I’ve made my decision
To run to you
The healer that I need

Take me to the king
I don’t have much to bring
My heart’s torn to pieces
It’s my offering

Lay me at the throne
Leave me there alone
To gaze upon your glory
And to sing to you this song

Take me to the

Lord we’re in the way
We keep making mistakes
Glory is not for us
Its all for you

Take me to the king
I don’t have much to bring
My heart’s torn to pieces
It’s my offering

Lay me at the throne
Leave me there alone
To gaze upon your glory
And sing to you this song

This song is not just a personal cry, it is an outcry for a nation. It is the pleading of people that are hurting and waiting on God to move in our life. I like the chorus of this song because it simply says in the midst of all life’s turmoil, “Take me to the King. I don’t have much to bring. My heart’s torn to pieces. It’s my offering.”

God doesn’t ask us to bring much. Take the loaves and the fish that feed over 5,000. Not much food was required, but faith was required. Jeremiah 29:10-14a “This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lords, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.” We just have to come, brokenness and all.

I will let the words of this song stand on their own as I feel like they are a prayer all on their own. It is the cry of my heart right now. I hope you find it as good of a listen as I did.

Stay-at-Home Mystery

When you first bring your child home from the hospital, they are truly a bundle of joy. Beautiful, perfect, the most precious gift you could ever receive. You could spend every waking moment staring into their tiny little eyes. You just want to lay there holding their tiny hands and cuddling all day as if nothing else in the world matters. The day you have to go back to work as a mom or dad seems like a travesty. It is an injustice to the world. How could you leave this precious angel for just one second? Oh, the horror. You tell yourself, if only I was lucky enough to stay home with this sweet child then all would be alright.

Fast forward a few more years into toddlerhood, in our case, and you get the time to stay home…through very unfortunate circumstances. It will hopefully only be momentary (due to the circumstances), but still any time with your precious angel is magical, right?

Right?????

I will now get to live in the dream world that all other stay-at-home moms get to live in for a little bit. It won’t look exactly the same because of my back, but we can still make it work. We can have tea parties, play barbies, learn, paint our nails, have movie days….you know just sweet day after sweet day.

Okay, ALERT!!!! Stay-at-home moms, your job is hard! I literally spend no waking moment of my day alone. I go to shower, pee…”mommy, I just thought you should know I’m here and I still love you.” Sweet, right? Totally! But, oh, how I desperately long for a breath just to myself sometimes. Being able to take care of any household chore, phone call, anything besides devoted attention to my sweet angel is almost out of the question except for nap time. Then before you know it, nap time has zoomed by! Being able to get even 10-15 minutes in for a quiet time is my ultimate goal. It calms my spirit and gives me rest. But, even that feels almost unattainable at times.

Now, I have been in both worlds-working and now staying at home for a little while. A mother’s job, no matter how it looks, is Never easy. Working moms have it completely difficult as well, so please, no working moms take any offense to this. Your job is equally as hard. I always felt like I never had enough time for my daughter and I was short-changing her with the energy I had left. That was my struggle and I really struggled with working. But, at the same time, I loved working and felt equally as passionate about that. Besides, it was what you had to do and what I will do again when given the chance. For this season, I am just having the chance to write from a different perspective that I never thought I would totally understand. But, I think in either situation, this last part applies to us both in some capacity.

Staying at home, to me, is like a snow day. It is beautiful because you get to see a masterpiece up close. God’s handiwork right at your fingertips. You get to play with it, have fun with it by building snowmen; snowball fights; and snow angels. You get to snuggle inside after playing–you hold each other tight with a cup of hot cocoa. But, then comes the driving in it. You have such HUGE responsibility when driving in snow or ice. After getting bundled up, you must clear the snow off the windshield so you can see properly; your door to get in; shovel off the driveway. You do all this just so you can leave your house.  Then comes navigating the road with all the uncertainty of the terrain and how other drivers will react to the conditions. You stay white knuckled at the helm making sure that you and everyone in the car gets to where you’re going safely. I feel the same  about this season of motherhood. It is beautiful, it is miraculous. I wouldn’t trade it for the world because I am watching God’s masterpiece (Psalm 139:13-16) up close. But, the days are not always easy and perfect like I imagined. We are three years old now. We skipped terrible twos and gave mom the illusion that we were the exception to the rule! But, bring on the terrify threes. They are filled with a lot of learning the wise and unwise ways to behave in this big ol’ world. We have a lot of snow and ice to navigate through on this road. And sometimes mommy doesn’t always know the right way, because no one gave me the sacred GPS for this one either! It is hard work. Never for a second do you doubt how much all of the effort is worth in the long run for the success of your child. But, just like with the snow, sometimes the “work” becomes the focus and we forget about the beauty of it. We have to make sure to set aside a moment or two of our very hectic schedules to notice the beauty playing, growing and being silly right in front of us. Breath it in. It will be gone before we know it and on to the next season.

Continue reading “Stay-at-Home Mystery”

Why Must It Be an “IT” in My Life?

Why must it be so severe?

Why must it be so limiting?

Why does it make my actions feel so insignificant?

Why won’t it allow me to be who I need to be for those I love?

Why can I not escape it no matter how hard I try?

Why do I feel like I am drowning underneath its weight?

Why are my screams not loud enough and the streams of my tears not flowing strong enough to disrupt the current of its electrical shocks?

Why must my only resolve against its constant battle wages be to lie down and give up or cringe at the feeling of bone upon bone?

Why must it taunt me with dreams of the sun over the horizon, meanwhile, it has a storm lurking behind the clouds?

Pain, why do you plague me, so?

 

Brave

I just finished reading a Blog Post by Krista entitled,  “No Longer Anonymous: Alexis Kanda-Olmstead Overcomes the Terror of the Publish Button”, which was featured on Discover. I have enjoyed reading AKO Collective before and became an official “follower” today. It’s funny how ironic it was that I read it just today after battling constantly with this same question for the last (13) days to be exact. I have told myself once I started publishing this blog that I was somehow tougher because I was willing to share my struggles with “the world.” However, I have yet to become willing to even open up my blog to those closest to me (i.e. even my momma). There is something about being able to arm yourself too press that Publish button. For some, it may come easier than others. For me, this blog is personal. It touches the deepest parts of me because it is about the inmost, darkest struggles I face. This blog is about how without God’s strength I could literally not overcome another second of another day at some points. Even walking into the first step of starting this blog was a huge leap and one I did not take lightly. I did so armed with the strength that this was not for me alone. I do believe, in part, this is therapeutic for me. However, the bigger picture is how I yearn to reach those that are struggling just like me. Pain is a very personal, draining, emotional struggle. It is not one that others can see and touch. It is not one understood by most, therefore, we often end up fighting it alone. But, is my anonymity creating an environment that fosters the ability to fight in a community of numbers or in more isolation? What settled this question for me was AKO Collective’s reply to one of the questions asked of her about remaining anonymous “It wasn’t helping me access the truest parts of myself, which is also very important to blogging.” How can I be truly honest, move forward in healing for myself and others without opening myself up completely?

“It wasn’t helping me access the truest parts of myself, which is also very important to blogging.”

I appreciate the honesty that AKO Collective gave in her answers. The thought of opening up my blog to my community literally puts a knot in my stomach. The thought of no longer remaining somewhat anonymous make me want to run and hide. But, then I think back to one of the lessons I read in BU-Blogging University. The lesson was to Identify your Audience. Why am I here, what do I want to write and to whom do I want to write? I am here because I believe in the solidarity that community has to offer. I am here because I believe that no one should have to suffer in isolation. I am here because I have a God that rescued and gave me a new life that I have to share with others. I am here because I know He gives us blessings beyond just the healing that we often seek first and foremost (I know I did!). I want to write blogs that are honest and don’t sugarcoat the crap that comes along with these valleys. Anyone that has gone through pain or any type of loss knows that it just sucks beyond belief. That’s why I love how AKO Collective mentioned bad language. I’m just going to say, the words that come to my mind when I’m in severe pain are not always pretty or nice. And I would challenge anyone who has never felt that amount of pain to come tell me to never think that way. 😛 I doubt I’ll be sharing them on here, but my point is, I don’t want to just write about sunshine and rainbows because that isn’t real life! I want to write about the mud and grime; mixed with the hope we have. I want to write to others struggling with pain, grief, invisible illnesses, emotional pain, emptiness, etc. We all go through heartache on this earth and some heartache I will never begin to understand. But, I do know a God who understands greater pain and heartache than any of us will ever begin to understand who is always ready and willing to take our pain onto Himself. I can’t be afraid of what judgment or criticism will come anymore.

I want to say a special thank you to AKO Collective for your willingness to be open and honest. Also, Krista for featuring AKO Collective and those questions on Discover. You both have spurred on an amateur, nervous writer dreaming of doing big things.

 

But you LOOK so Good!

Pain is a balancing act that has to be mastered and continually re-mastered.

I read an article the other day that I felt the urge to share and comment on. It points out how subjective people can be when viewing another’s “invisible disability”. It’s almost as if someone has severe chronic-pain they should constantly live downcast, bed-ridden and barely existent lives. The article revolves around a lady that is denied disability because of her social media account as it revealed that in their subjective opinion she did not look sick enough. I am not naïve-I’m sure there is more to it than what is revealed in this short article. However, I believe this argument goes beyond just denied disability. We as a society have become so dependent on social media as counting that as the accurate depiction of someone’s life. I have personally experienced this with people thinking oh you must be doing better because you have make-up on and look really happy in your pictures! What?? It’s funny because if you honestly think about your social media account(s), do you think they accurately depict the total version of your life? Personally I know that I put up the best photos where my make-up looks on point, my hair looks great and my child looks like she dresses perfect 365 days a year with no stains and perfect hair. We don’t want everyone to know about our acne, crazy hair days  and the stank attitude we just got from our toddler while putting on said outfit. Oh and God forbid any one find the pictures of our stained outfits with our “fat pants” on. Come on, you know you have all had them at one point or another!! We put our best foot or “face” forward on social media. It’s just like that happy couple you see on social media with loving romantic pictures where you wish you were them with status’ about how their spouse is the best in the world. Then out of the blue you see they are divorced. You never know the truth behind the veil of social media. I know for me, if I was truly honest with my Facebook status, almost every couple of days it would say “Feeling like a dump truck just ran over my back; Can barely get out of bed today, but I’m trying to fake it until I make it for my family since things still need to get done; My left arm is still swollen and I barely got sleep because it hurt so bad all night, but it’s all good.” However, no one…let me repeat…NO ONE…wants to read that everyday. They want to read-“I climbed a mountain today! I conquered such and such! I am happy and wonderful!” You know what I mean. I totally get it. I don’t want to read the negative all the time either. I’m right there with it. On the other hand, I do want to know when my friends need prayer, are going through a hard time, etc. But, you get the difference I’m sure. The honesty of our lives is not on display on social media and somewhat for good reason.

This same principle applies to when people view you out in public. I think for friends, family, acquaintances, etc. it gets hard to understand unless you have personally gone through it. There are times when it looks like you are doing excellent yet you are really dying inside. You desperately want life to continue on unscathed for those you love or even just for friends to not feel like they are at a disadvantage when they are with you so you try to overdo what you know you can. Then you are the one who has to lay in bed for days or go in a room by yourself and cry quietly because the pain is overwhelming. Those are the lonely times no one sees. Those are the times no one will understand except those who are going through it or who have been through it.

Pain is a balancing act that has to be mastered and continually re-mastered. It doesn’t go away no matter how much you “will” it away. That has been one of my biggest struggles. I don’t want to have live downcast in a cave somewhere because of it though. I also don’t want to live that way just because it will convince someone I am in severe pain. It is crazy that our society works that way with invisible illnesses.  The way I see it is if I live a life the way some of the world expects and always live bed-ridden and looking sick I could be living for human approval instead of God’s approval.  I could instead choose to take advantage of some of the good days I have and use some of the strong-will/power God has given me to persevere in order to live out my purpose. I know God has a bigger plan for me in all of this. I am not broken in my spirit. I just heard the song by Hawk Nelson “Live Like You’re Loved” yesterday. The lines “So go ahead and be who He made you to be; Live like you’re loved” really resonated. It’s just a reminder of the verse Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” He knew this would happen to any of us that are effected by any invisible illness. He still has plans for a bright, hopeful future where you prosper through Him. No matter how the world views you or may judge you, please don’t let it discourage you. God knows your true heart and struggles. He is there to lift your spirits and hear your cries when nothing will relieve what you’re going through. Christ loves us more than we will ever begin to understand so our struggles and pain do not fall on deaf ears. Find your comfort in the true comforter who understands all struggles even if the world does not.

Continue reading “But you LOOK so Good!”

OvErSeEs MiSsIoNs

Below are different examples of how God blessed me by allowing me to be a part of His mission. I so miss these places with all of my heart. I honestly never saw myself living in the United States the rest of my life. I saw International Missions as my life. Having to give up that dream is part of God molding the “new me.” I know God called me to missions so many years ago. Now, I have to see where He is leading me with these new restrictions with my body. Any day He could chose to heal me entirely which would be amazing! But, He could also choose that this is how I am to serve Him-completely reliant on Him in my weakened physical state. I am praying to live out my life to serve Him in whatever ways He sees fit. We all have gifts that He has given us. No matter how restricted you may feel by your earthly body, God can and will use you if you are willing. His strength overcomes all the ways that we are weak. There is so much we still have to offer no matter what we are going through. You are beautiful and still wonderfully created exactly the way you are right at this moment. I pray God’s word provides you with the strength you need today.