Monday, February 2, 2015

Through the Woods

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Today my hair is not in curlers. Today I did not do my make-up. Today I unpacked the bag that was my life for the past two and a half months. Today is day one on the other side of my first through the woods experience since getting into Texas.

It has been 12 years since I've auditioned for anything or had to sing solo in front of any large number of people. Music and theater had been such an enormous part of my life but then I got pregnant with Baby Bear and the music faded and died out and a different chapter of life began. In 12 years I have become a much different person. For the better, I believe, because who really wants to be the same after 12 years of life. Though not to say that I am not whole, Christ has ensured that for me, for the last 12 years a part of me has been missing.

I knew it but couldn't name it. My family perceived it but couldn't place it. My husband was a bit oblivious to it but such is life and I love him despite it. And then, after closing night of a 6 show a week for 5 weeks run, my husband says, “You are so much more animated and lively now.” And that’s when it hit me. I've changed. I’m different. If this production of All Shook Up had a patron show I would say it would be Into the Woods. I went into the woods in October when I auditioned for All Shook Up at the local community theater. I didn't know I was journeying, I just thought I was catching up on something I hadn't done in a while. But God had other, much bigger plans. Something was ignited and a piece of me was remembered. And now I’m through and different for it.

I can’t express how grateful I am to each and every person in the cast for being a part of my experience. God used you all in more mighty ways than you can imagine. You all helped me through the woods and I have been changed, by each and every one of you, for good.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Six Impossible Things

On our way to Texas

We're quickly coming up on Christmas.  The day my family celebrates when God did the impossible and a virgin conceived of a child and God walked among his people and then ultimately died and rose again to save them.

Last Sunday I was challenged, once again, with the idea that nothing is impossible for God.  That saying has become so cliche that I don't really know how much I truly believe it.  There are so many things that seem impossible and that I don't see him moving.  So I say they are impossible and that God could fix it if he wanted to but probably won't because he hasn't yet.  And that's where I lack in faith.

Then last Sunday got me to thinking about things that I've called impossible that God decided weren't.  Mountains that God moved in the past year despite my lack of faith.  I saw my little brother grow into a strong, passionate, mighty man of God pretty much over night.  God up and moved my family to Texas so we could be planted in a little church that had been praying for us.  We didn't even know how much we needed them till we go here.  My children went from classrooms with 30+ kids to classrooms with 16.  They are getting PE, art, and music lessons in school.  Baby bear has school friends. I don't know if you can quite understand what an impossible thing that was in California for her but believe me when I say it was on the impossible list because it was just that.  I found a place where I truly belonged.  Even if it was for a reason or a season.  I could be me and I have been changed forever by it.  I've found a passion for reading again.  I'm not sure if that's on the, becoming more of a Godly woman list, but it was definitely on the impossible list.

And I know there are so many more but those are the big ones that stick out in my mind for 2012.

There's a quote in Through the Looking Glass where the White Queen and Alice are talking:

Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said 'one can't believe impossible things.'
'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!'

I understand full well that this is not exactly a how-to book on Christian living, but there is something profound in that when applied to a Christian's life.  I have had very little practice in believing in the impossible.  When the impossible happens I just say, oops I guess I was wrong, and move forward but don't go back and look at my list of impossible things and say, if that one impossible thing can happen, then these others can happen too.

So now, I'm going back over my list.  I am choosing to believe in six impossible things in 2013.  I'm not going to list them. Not because I believe that they won't come true but because they are also deeply personal (though I have no problem sharing with you one on one).  I'm choosing to believe in these six impossible things not because I believe God will fix them or change them just because I believe, but I believe God will grow my faith through this.

The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.  What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:35-37

Saturday, May 14, 2011

God Cares About Twinkle Toes

(The shoes after 5 months of daily wear)

"And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you." Matthew 6:28-30

I know it seems crazy, but God spoke to me through a pair of sneakers.

For anyone who has kids, you know the frustrations of clothing and shoeing a child. At the beginning of the school year we purchased each of the children a new pair of sneakers along with their other school clothes (pretty standard for the family). Well, come November/December, only a couple months out from the beginning of school, my oldest had already put a hole in the sole of her shoe. Feeling a bit frustrated with the situation... money's tight and do I look like I'm made of new shoes?... I told my hubby we were going to need to buy Baby Bear new shoes and then quickly put it to the back of my brain (maybe not the best coping mechanism).

A couple weeks later, with no new shoes on Bear's feet, we took a trip to the thrift store in hopes of finding a couple sweaters to turn into longies for LooLoo. God instead, had me go by the shoe section. Looking at the shelves, I saw an amazing sight. A pretty much brand spankin' new pair of Sketchers brand Twinkle Toes for $5. Upon further inspection, not only did they not have skullys on them, but they had all the jewels attached, the little charms, they were the right size and my daughter loved them!!!

God was so good to remind me that not only does He know what we need, He is such a good God that he would go above and beyond the basic needs to give us what we didn't even know we wanted.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Testimony

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

I’m going to open this by saying that yes, this is long. But in it you are going to find as open and honest a testimony as I can give you. It may not be comfortable but it is who I was and, to the glory of God, how I was saved from myself.

I was by no means considered a “bad girl” in the typical sense. I was a hard worker. I had the determination to achieve the very best in everything I did. I had a steady boyfriend who loved me and whom I adored, my grades were wonderful, I had a part time job, and I had a steady stream of challenging but enjoyable extracurricular activities. I blazed my own trails and, to everyone around me, seemed to have it all together. But if you looked inside, just below skin level, you would have seen something much different.

When I was 8 my father died. I was raised by my amazing mother who did everything she could to make sure that my brother and I were never lacking. My mom worked hard for us, though it meant that we were mostly left to our own devices through our teenage years. For me, that was no problem. I had good friends and a caring family. I had a “strong head on my shoulders that was pointed in the right direction”… whatever that meant. I was a lost little girl who had no daddy to tell her he loved her and valued her and knew she was worth more than gold or rubies. I lost my virginity to a boy at the age of 16 because I thought that that’s what you do to show someone you love them. I carved pictures onto my ankle bone because the blood and pain was so pretty. I was dying inside… but no one knew.

In truth, some knew, but they were all just as lost as me, and together we all decided what was normal. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll right? – but only in the privacy of our own clique. And, in truth, there weren’t really drugs involved and no adult seemed to care about the other two. DARE. We were off drugs alright, and addicted to other things, like each other.

My Junior year in high school taught me about God. No, not the school, but some people around me. I had broken it off with my boyfriend and found a new guy. He was totally into this Jesus person. After going to an amazing concert by a local Christian band I decided this might be interesting. Seeing as how I knew nothing about this religion, I did some investigating and learned enough about Him to accept that he did what he said he did. That his death, burial, and resurrection were enough to forgive my sins and free me from them. So one evening, while discussing God with my current boyfriend, I accepted Jesus into my life as Savior. And I became one of the millions of Christians that people have grown to hate.

I was bold for my Savior. I couldn’t understand why others didn’t accept what was so obviously a great decision. I upset my mom by pushing my faith onto her and my brother. I thumped that bible with the best of them… all the while never changing my lifestyle. Still dying inside, but this time, I didn’t even know it.

Enter college. I followed my boyfriend to college and it was a dream come true. I was attending the college I had always wanted to with the “man” who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I was real edumacated in that there bible and was feeling quite confident. That’s when things came tumbling down -- in a very big way. There was a large amount of dissatisfaction with my current choice of majors (a word of advice… chose a major you are really interested in… not just one that you have a little interest in but mainly chose because it will prove profitable if you complete it). I was going to campus Christian groups and hearing rousing sermons on abstinence and then going back to the dorms for a lay. God was moving in my life, but it wasn’t as my advocate, it was as my adversary. He was positioning all the pieces around me and then… check mate. I was pregnant.

Up until this point, all my “sin”, all my shames, all the things I didn’t like about myself or that would have given people a negative opinion of me, they were all hidden under a beautifully gilded exterior that I maintained with meticulous care. But only Christ knew that in order for my interior to match what I wanted my exterior to look like, I needed a sobering shift of perspective.

And so he delivered. The message was loud and clear. “I am God. There are no others beside me. No self, no boyfriends, no school. No idol you hold so dear will ever right this, but I, the Creator of all heaven and earth, the creator of you and of this little baby, I will make you my own, and you will watch me move in mighty ways, and you will know that I love you.”

At that point, I had a decision to make. Put my life where my mouth is, or turn from God completely. Christ knew what I would choose. He used my little girl to catch my heart and He’s had it ever since. I don’t look at my girl with resentment, or loathing, or with a desire to have a different destiny. I chose my path and despite my choices, God still reached out to me. He still loved me when others were turning their backs on me. When my own mother held bitterness towards me.

I was a teen pregnancy. But by the love and grace of my savior and best friend, I did not become another standard statistic. I am happily married to the father of my baby. I am able to be a stay at home mom instead of working a full time minimum wage job. We live in our own home and not in the garages of our parents’ homes. But most of all, I am loved by a Maker who wanted so desperately for me to know him that He gave me a beautiful little girl even though I didn’t deserve her. My God in heaven reminds me daily that He is my Father and that he loves me and values me and knows I am worth more than all the gold and rubies this earth possesses, and this is the reason that I am still standing.

No guilt of life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Word of God

"Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him" Proverbs 30:5

My youngest daughter, LooLoo, has always been the more strong willed child. She knows what she wants and is quick to cry if she doesn't get her way. Her crying has actually been one of the things I struggle with the most. Since she was born, she's had moments when she will cry just for the sake of crying, and most of those times it's pretty inconsolable. In general though, since she's been getting older, those crying sessions have been much fewer and far between. So when New Years Day came around and she woke up in a crying fit, I was sort of caught off guard.

She came into my room and she didn't want to be held or hugged or kissed. She didn't want her blanket which just about always calms her down. She wouldn't suck her thumb. When I laid my hands on her and started praying over her she just cried even harder. At that point I was kind of out of ideas. So, asking God for direction, he pointed me in the direction of my bible. I did a little "magic bible", asking the Lord to take me to the place He wanted me to read from, and opened it up. I was taken to Ezekiel 3.

Now, I've never read Ezekiel, and the passage starts with, "And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel..." So naturally I asked, 'Lord, are you sure? Have you seen this passage?', but in obedience (or desperation) I just started reading to Loo. And as soon as the words started coming out of my mouth she stopped crying and climbed into my lap. She snuggled with her blanket and sucked her thumb and was calm. I also felt that I was supposed to stop reading when Loo decided to leave the room. Two chapters later, she got up off my lap and walked out.

What have I learned from this experience? The word of God is living and it is powerful. The whole time I was reading, I was reading about plagues and famine and God wiping out his people and only leaving a remnant and death and destruction and wondering, 'What on earth are you teaching me here Lord?!' Then, by the end, it was abundantly clear. It wasn't about what I was reading... God's word, every part of it, every single word from beginning to end is God breathed and has the power to save and transform. Whether I'm reading about life and life abundantly, or death and destruction, it came from the nostrils of the one and only living God and it has power beyond my understanding.

Praise be to God alone!