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Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light

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walking with Jesus

Day 4: Let’s Make A Trade

 
Whew! Yesterday’s post kind of took the wind out of me. I’m not even sure why. This morning as I was getting ready for church I started thinking about  today’s post. Memories keep popping up, the ones that strengthened the lie of not being good enough. I wondered out loud, “God, why am I remembering all of these things? Isn’t it enough to know it’s there and move on?” Next thing I know is that I’m imagining each lie as a baseball and I’m knocking those babies out of the park. That’s it right there. He is bringing them to light so I can get rid of them. 

Today at church during worship we’re singing:

“I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my pain, I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord.” I sit down and started writing in my notebook. The thoughts came so quickly I thought I wouldn’t be able to write fast enough. I’m going to copy here what I wrote in my notebook. 

We often hold onto the lies we believe as though they are a well loved stuffed toy. You know the one. Did you ever have a toy you couldn’t sleep without? I did. It’s that ruggedly beautiful teddy bear. 

happyanimals

Why do we do that? Could it be because if we release what weighs us down then we’ll be left standing empty handed?

What is we turn our hands, palms facing up, ready to receive? What if we trade what is holding us down for the gift he wants to gives us? 

What is it that you need to release in order to receive from Him?

Trading My Sorrows

Chani, Walking on Water, and Random Thoughts

my_chani_laughs_wmThis is my best friend, Chani. She and I could spend hours together and never tire of one another. We’ve done that before when we went to Canada, but it’s never enough hours. Last weekend we headed out on another journey to attend a retreat with other foster/adoptive moms. This time we picked up a few more passengers on the way.

The planning of this trip has been a little crazy for me. When Chani first introduced me to the idea I was so very against it. I just didn’t feel like I could face meeting more women and getting real with them. It’s so exhausting. I didn’t want to think about the finances. (I didn’t think much about them and I kind of regret that now.) Then suddenly I was so very for us going and she wasn’t so sure. I’m not sure how many times we flip flopped on the issue. At some point we decided yes and I prodded her into sending in her registration. Once we did that, it was done. We put money down on it. We had to go.

The day before we were to leave I texted her, “WE ARE NOT GOING. THIS IS A DUMB IDEA. I DON’T WANT TO GO!” I can’t remember what she texted back. It was probably something funny.

So, Friday morning I go pick her up, we talk about all the hiccups in the getting ready to depart. She’s still running around a little frantically. It’s a lot of work to leave the family for a weekend! I was already feeling free since my kids were dispersed and things in order on my end.

As I said, I was a little intimidated by the the sheer amount of women there. Oh holy heck, am I going to have to talk about myself 30 different times. Please don’t make me talk to you strange people. On the other hand, it is such an incredibly great feeling to be with women who completely understand your life with your kids. Not one of those women would say, “Oh, that’s normal. All kids do that.” Though they may say, “My kids do that, too!” You look at one another and you just know that you’re not in this alone. You’ve got others fighting this battle of leading their children to healing. If you talked to Chani she’d say I was WAY more freaked out on our first night in Canada than with this one. To be fair, I was sleep deprived on our Canada trip. I kept telling her that I just couldn’t be there. What was I going to do, though? I couldn’t just leave. I knew that God made a way for me to be here and that it would be good. I had to quiet my fears.

The next morning I wake and leave my bunk room to go for a walk. It was so nice. I wandered. Occasionally I wondered if I could find my way back, but I didn’t care. I was enjoying my solitude.

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I sat on that bench at the end of the dock  for a long time. I thought about how Jesus and calmed the stormy waters. I’ve never been in a boat when there’s a storm, but I can understand how frightening that could be. It was bad enough that these seasoned fishermen came to Him as he was sleeping saying, “Teacher do You not care that we are perishing?” Then when He calmed the waters they wondered who he was that even the sea and the waves obey Him.

Who is He, indeed?

Then there was that time that He was walking on the water & called Peter to Him. Peter was doing it. He asked the Lord to call him out upon the water, so He did. Peter steps out of the boat walking toward Jesus, but then sees that it’s windy and begins to sink. Jesus asked Peter why he doubted. I wonder if looking away from Jesus is the same as doubting.

Peter lost his focus.

I must admit that I wanted to walk on that water. I wondered what would happen if I just stepped out. What does walking on water feel like? I want to know.

Time and again, I’ve asked the Lord to use me for His Kingdom. I’ve told Him I’d do anything for Him, no matter how hard it is. I know He has called me to great and difficult things. He is faithful to answer my prayers, sometimes I don’t pray them because I’m afraid of what it will means when He answers. What will be required of me? Yet, there are things in my heart that nudge me and before I know it I pray the thing.

Like Peter, I am impulsive to blurt things, but I easily lose focus. (I’m sure this blog post can attest to that!)

Yesterday I was texting Chani about some of my frustrations. At the retreat I shared my personal adoption story and learning that I have the same attachment issues as my children. I realize that my story gives hope to people, but it doesn’t give me hope. I feel like I don’t know what’s happening or even if my kids will make the choice to heal. This is her reply: “What if she grows up and does hard things, like, self sacrificial, orphan care hard things… what if she grows up to fight for healthy relationships and give people hope who don’t otherwise have any… success?? Yes, my friend. Believe in your story. It is good.”  

When I related that I wanted something great in me to be released. She’s there. She’s in me, but I’m not letting her out. My Chani says, “I think that what happens is happening, one step at a time my beautiful warrior, back on the horse, live to fight another day, turn a new leaf, etc etc etc.”

Then when I told her my fear of being replaced she assures me, “You babycakes, are irreplaceable. We smart people know that. No question.” She had all the right words for me yesterday.

Can you believe that earlier that day I was lamenting over the fact that I haven’t any friends who remind me who I am and call me to greatness when I need it. Maybe I needed to feel the lack to see that I don’t lack that at all.

I was just about to send publish for this blog when I realized something.  I found the reason why I was having a hard time believing in my story. I was focusing on MY story. This isn’t MY story at all, is it? It’s His Story. God. It’s all His. Ha! Wow. Ok. Got it! Seriously. Wow.

This isn’t about you or me. It’s His story in us. We have a choice to live it or not. I choose His story.

How about you?

 

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

Vegas and Ireland snuggling. This would've been in the Spring of 2010. She would let him lay on her lap, too!
Spring 2010 – Ireland is 7 and Vegas is old. This was not an uncommon occurrence in our home. Sometimes she’d sit on the couch and he would lie across her lap. She’d say, “He’s squishing me.” Yet, she didn’t want him to move.

It’s Thursday. The day is bright and the air is cold. My office is warm. All of January’s bills are paid.

I had my first financial freak out last night. Christopher points to a spot on his arm and says, “We need to get this checked out. It might be staph infection.” I ask him where his antibiotic cream is. He doesn’t know. Mind you, we went through something similar a couple of months back and got the cream at that time. It’s not cheap. I just got laid off. An appointment at urgent care is $125. I have money saved for his eye appointment and glasses, I can’t use that money. I say, “What? You can’t find it?!? Do you realize how expensive that is? I DON’T have a job. I don’t know what to do and I’m certainly not going to tell anyone so that they’ll pay for it!!!” So, I  had a few moments of despair and pride. The room went silent. I went into the bathroom and started cleaning and organizing the drawers. He comes in there soon after and quietly says, “I thought it was up here behind the mirror.” Yep, that’s where it’s been. Sweet relief.

Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t trust in that moment. I feel good because my bills are paid for the month. One small bump in the road and I freaked out. (Although, I did get an organized bathroom out of it and that had been on my to-do list for about a week.)  I want my trust in God, my Provider, to be unwavering. I look back at last night’s scene and know I could have reacted better. I reacted in fear.

The verse I’m focusing on for this week is from Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Emphasis mine.)

Throw off – something you do on purpose, it takes effort, it’s a choice.
So easily entangles – it’s like when you’re traipsing through the field with  your dog and kids and suddenly you trip because a sticky, prickly vine has grabbed hold around your ankles. You didn’t even notice it until it was too late.

The Bible also tells us to cast our burdens on Jesus. When one goes fishing you do not simply drop the line at your feet when you’re standing on the shore, do you? You cast it. Throw it out there. (And this is where the analogy breaks down because it’s not helpful to reel your burdens back into you! Though, I guess I could say that in return He gives you peace so you can reel that in and take it.) The point is that to cast our burden, it takes effort. We have to make that choice to do it.

I have more time to think these days. I’m mostly thinking about what it looks like to throw off everything that hinders.

A few weeks back I had a weird dream. I have those quite often, this one made me laugh. I saw myself on sort of a mountain or hill, but it wasn’t a snow-capped pointy one, it was made of red clay and they were more flat. I saw that I needed to leap over a canyon to another place. The only thing I remember is that I was unzipping something and taking it off of me. Here’s the silly part…it looked like a light purple penguin sort of costume. It was puffy. I remember thinking that I couldn’t go on if I had that on so I unzipped it, shrugged it off my shoulders, and stepped out of it.

It seemed so easy. I guess it is simple, right. Oh look, this hinder me. Shrug it off, step out of it, and walk on. I’m wondering if it’s a trick of the enemy that makes us think that we need to actually struggle with it.

I think we need to recognize it and release it. Tell ourselves the truth. Walk in that.

How Getting Laid Off Freed Me…

I am amazed by all
That I have seen from You
Teach me Your Way

Show me your face
Oh Lord

excerpt from the song Whisper Lennox Fleary

It is the third Saturday of 2014.

In the first full week I created my financial goal plan for the  year. I was so pleased with it. Yet, I kept hearing a quiet sort of voice in my head encouraging me to not hold on to that plan too tightly. So, when I had finished it and saw it was good I told myself, “Self, this is a direction, not a plan set in stone. This may not happen and it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t.” So that was that. I hole punched it and put it in my handy dandy financial binder.

The following Monday I had the thought, “You’re getting laid off…” Okay. That’s interesting. An hour later I received a call letting me know that I was being laid off that day. I turned in my time card almost immediately and began to process this. I was sad. So very sad. I loved my job and the people I worked with. I enjoyed connecting with the customers and getting to know them a little. I worried. I wondered how I was going to make it financially. I do not want to go back on food stamps. I do not want to be cold or afraid that my water or electricity will get turned off. I tried to sleep the day away, as is my custom when I’m stressed; that or binge eating. I couldn’t do either. I knew that I wasn’t actually despairing, I was just sad and that’s ok.

By the end of the day I was good. The kids and I all sat around as I read parts of the book of Job. I realized that getting laid off is merely a small bump in the road. It doesn’t change me or what I am called to. I do not have to be afraid. I do not have to fear neither poverty or wealth. My circumstances do not change who I am or who God is.

When we prayed that evening Christopher thanked God for me getting laid off because we know God has something else in store for me.

From that moment on I’ve been excited. My heart has opened up and I feel a softening. I have options open to me, this is not the end of the road. I didn’t feel burdened by my job, but I feel so free right now. (Mind you, if my job was offered back to me, I’d take it, but I’d also keep this feeling of freedom.)

Getting laid off didn’t actually free me, what it did was show me the freedom I had all along. I have had an INCREDIBLE year. My complete mindset has changed over the past year, but I could only realize that and walk in that after I was laid off.

I have spent the past year listening to and meeting some amazing personal development speakers every week. I have learned, little by little, how to take my thoughts into captivity and not let all the negative thoughts rule. (Truth: sometimes I do let them and I need someone to snap me out of it!) I have so many things I’ve learned from so many people. I can’t possibly list it all here.

I have so many things I am looking forward to in this next year!

What are you looking forward to? What direction is God calling you?

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Running with Him

Do you have those days where you wake up feeling optimistic, even though it’s Monday, but then something just takes the wind right out of you?

I do.

Yesterday was that day.

It wasn’t even a big deal. It was just a stark reminder that life is messy and I’m having a hard time getting over it.

I’ve wanted to cry all day.

I’m more emotional than I used to be. In fact, the other day I sat here at my desk and cried while I listened to a recording of an old song from my friend, John Marr. The song is called Richest Man in the World, but it wasn’t the song itself that made me cry. It was the memory of me holding my tiny newborn baby Christopher while Kelly played bass for John’s band, whatever it was at the time. My Christopher is 7 months away from being 18. I wasn’t even crying over that, though.

I went to bed with a huge ache in my chest as a tear rolled down my face.

I was sad that I had hurt the little hearts of my children due to my lack of self-control. I wasn’t condemning myself, I was just sad.

The condemnation came later. I woke up today and started to feel the big left over feelings from yesterday, but I stopped them right away. I kept telling myself over and over, “There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Condemnation is a weapon of the enemy and any weapon formed again us will not prosper. While I was speaking truth to my spirit, I was also gentle with me.

I’m not always gentle. Isn’t that the way it always is? We’re so hard on ourselves, harder than anyone else would ever be. Grace is not my strong point. I’ve had a hard time accepting it and I have a hard time being gracious. Thankfully, the Lord is changing that in me. He’s giving me a heart for people outside of..well, me.

This weekend I was reminded of the story of a man who pushes his wheelchair bound son in marathons, triathlons, and other races. You may have heard of them, Team Hoyt. The son said to his dad, “When I run with you it’s as if all my disabilities go away.”

Let me say that again:

“When I run with you it’s as if all my disabilities go away.”

Powerful words. Do you hear that?

Years ago a man in my church at the time said, “Dar, it’s time for you to just run with God. He’s calling to you. Don’t stop to look around, it doesn’t matter who is with you. He’s with you. Go run.”

So, yesterday and today, though I didn’t feel like it, I chose Him over and over. I will walk through the muck and the mess and trust that God has the rest covered.

Each day I start my day off with a song called Speak to Me by  Lennox. It’s my alarm clock. I’ll often end my day with this song, too, because I want God to speak to me all of the time, even as I sleep.

Speak to me
Words I can’t mistake for my imagination
Speak to me
Whisper on the wind,
blow my doubt away
Let the sun come shining through

I want to run with God and I want to hear Him.

Shift

Something shifted in me recently. I didn’t really talk about it and I’m sure that it went unnoticed. It wasn’t so much an outward shift, but something in me changed.

First of all, I started a Bible Study created by the gals over at Good Morning Girls called Loving Like Jesus. It’s an 8 week online Bible Study. I’ve really been enjoying it even though I’ve been somewhat inconsistent in keeping up with the study.

We started in Luke 17 and right away some things started to pop out at me.

 Does he thank that servant beacause he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. – 17:9

Then there’s the one leper, out of ten, that comes back to thank Jesus for healing him and after that Jesus says, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” 17:19

Then in verse 20 Jesus begins to talk about how the world will continue to live in their sin as those who were in the days of Noah. They laughed at Noah and all perished. Lot lost his wife when escaping Sodom. I don’t know what it’s going to look like when Jesus comes back or what it means for sure when it says the Son of Man is revealed.

Now, in chapter 18 we this one really got me. The Pharisee and tax collector are praying and the Pharisee thanks God that he is not like the Pharisee and boasts of his good works while the tax collector simply says, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Some friend and I were recently talking about someone we know and I nearly said, “I’m so glad I’m not like her!” I remembered this story so I didn’t say it out loud, but I still meant it. Isn’t it funny how we like to boast of how we don’t sin in certain ways, but we hide away the ways we do sin?

Up next is the rich young ruler who can’t give up his riches. I don’t have monetary riches to give up, but there are things I’ve been pretty reluctant to give up because it would cause discomfort and seems impossible. Yet, we are told by Jesus, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

These are the words that stand out to convict me and remind me of who I am. That right there gives me strength. There’s nothing more debilitating than forgetting or not even knowing who you really are.

I guess that I can’t even accurately articulate what happened in  me. Oh, maybe it’s that I got focused.

There is only one way and the way is narrow and for me, the path is steep at times.

You know what else it is?

Incredibly blessed.

(Don’t be jealous when I tell you that I think I’m God’s favorite!)

So many thoughts…

I am doing my best to stop saying and thinking, “I don’t have time.” I realize that it’s not whether or not I have it, but what I do with the time I have. Life moves quickly and sometimes I just give into riding the rapids of the day feeling out of control. Other days, I choose to leisurely float down the river with no other plans getting in the way. Today was one of those days. I had a couple of social events to attend, but I was able to relax on the couch for hours in the afternoon. It was so wonderful.

It is late at night now. I’ve had several conversations; some stirring in my heart.

Right now I am thinking about the lack of prayer in my life, of life moving and slipping away, of a friend dying. My heart is sad, but I am not without hope.

This past week I’ve been disgusted by the tone in which my kids speak to one another and with their attitude. So much so that I didn’t even want to deal with it. Then I look at my own heart and words. I told my friends this evening how I will sigh when a kid asks to spend time with me. I feel so worn. Yet, if any of my friends sighed at my question to spend time with them, I would be crushed. We talk of trying to yell less and becoming more loving. Sometimes it feels so hopeless.

On my drive home my good friend asked, “Why doesn’t anything change?” I immediately thought of the theme of my journal writings since I was 20 has been, “Dear Lord, help me be more wise with my money and time, help me to get up early, help me to love more, to be kind to my family, be a better wife, go to bed earlier, etc.” I wanted to tell her that it all gets easier and better and one day she won’t sin so much or struggle with so much. Is that true? Maybe. Or maybe as we grow stronger we come up against stronger weapons of the enemy.

We began to talk of our need to pray. I am a selfish pray-er. I joke about the time I prayed that my friend would get a job because I didn’t want to deal with his emotional state. He got a job offered to him a few hours later. I didn’t pray that job primarily for him. I pray for my day and my relationship and my kids pretty consistently. Outside of that, I’m not so good. I want that to change. I’m also not one to persist. Yet, I read testimonies of persistent prayer and the miracle God does.

Also, this week I’ve said to a couple of my friends that I complain too much. I was having a moment of feeling down and another friend said, “You need to go read that thankful book again!” (One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp). I gasped because it was true. My perspective had shifted my lens to focus on something else. I am really good about being negative and sarcastic. I don’t want that to be what describes my life.

I guess I don’t have a tidy little conclusion to this post. I don’t want to just write about these things. I am going to take action. I’m going to begin to actually spend time in prayer. I get up early. I’ll read my Bible, my devotion book, write in my journal, and pray a little. I still want to do those things, but I will be spending dedicated time in prayer. I don’t know what it will look like. I don’t have a plan. I just know there is something more that the Father wants from me.

He wants it all. Every part of my heart.

Lord, teach me to pray and teach me to hear. Open this heart of mine to more of You. Though I sigh at this next part and am tempted to dig in my heels, I ask that You would draw me to You and that my sinful flesh would burn away. I am a new creation. I want to walk in that newness every day. Give me Your heart. Give me Your eyes to see people around me as You see them and love them. I am Yours. All Yours.

Streams of Abundance Flow

Five years ago when my husband and I split I would hear this song and cry. It was a hard choice to make to praise God when everything had crumbled around me. Knowing that God is good all the time and that all I needed was faith like a mustard seed helped me to not fall into the pit of despair.

I have been blogging for a little over 7 years now. I’ve written of the hard times with the kids, my personal battles, and always of the faithfulness of God. In the past year I took a 4 month break in writing.

Last fall and winter I was really struggling. I didn’t share that with many people and I didn’t blog about it. I felt like I had spent so much time on this blog speaking of all the hard times that it was a downer to read. I was encouraged by a friend to document it all because it would be an encouragement to somebody someday. I wanted to give up on this weight loss journey. I was angry about so many things. I was tired of taking the kids to therapy. I was tired of being so poor that bills couldn’t get paid. Christmas stresses me out even though I know that my kids don’t have high expectations. I couldn’t figure out which direction to head. I felt kind of alone. I mean, I have people around me, but I didn’t feel like I could share all of my heartache with them because there weren’t any answers they could give me.

So, I plugged away wasting countless hours each day. Unfocused, undisciplined, and full of excuses. Guess what? I also wasn’t praising God much in that hard time. I just looked in my gratitude journal and find that I did actually write a lot during that time, so I guess that’s good. I wish I would’ve written more about the struggles and the blessing in those. I wish I would’ve turned my focus back to Jesus earlier. It would’ve saved my heart from a lot of hurt, I’m sure. I was just focused on my self and my circumstance.

It wasn’t until that moment that I declared, “God, I know You are still good and I know You are a good provider. I will trust You even in this” that things started to change. Sometimes I wonder if they actually change or if I’ve just turned my eyes to focus elsewhere or if I’ve just adjusted the settings so I can see more clearly.

I don’t know. I don’t know much, actually, but I do know that I have a new set of tires and will soon have new shocks due to a gift from friends from church. I know that when God provides for me in some pretty amazing ways. These are the things I can easily share with the people around me. He does so more. He changes ME. The person I am right now is not who I was a few months ago. In fact, last week Christine from church was praying for my friend Erica and I. She said she had a picture of us sitting in front of a vanity with a big mirror and that the women we see today is not who we were a year ago. Amen and amen. I know it, I see it, I even feel it. I am not who I was.

God is at work here, people. Write it down so you can tell your children and they can tell their children. Don’t have kids? Tell someone else’s kids. I was telling Erica today that I’m so surprised every time God provides in some miraculous way for me, but Christopher isn’t. He has been raised seeing God’s goodness from the time he was a wee babe. It doesn’t surprise him at all. He has always been confident of God’s provision and is always thankful, but never surprised. I love that.

What is He doing in your life right now? You can’t see it? Ask Him to give you eyes to see. He’ll do it because He who promised is faithful.

My God, He is faithful and unwavering.

I want to be faithful and unwavering, too. 

Day 29 – Learning?

It’s nearing the end of the 31 days of reflection. I’m not sure how much true reflecting got done. This has been a busy month, that’s for sure.

I moved across town, which is to say that I moved about a mile or so from where I was living. I now live in a household of a total of 10 people, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. It has been good, so far. It was a little rough in the beginning. Ireland cried. I cried. I missed the life that I thought should be happening before I was able to embrace the life that is happening. I had all these hopes and dreams for my life. This is not what I had imagined. However, I know that His ways are not my ways. I also know that He has only good thoughts toward me. I am confident that the work that God has begun will be completed. Right now, the life I’m living, is the one life He’s given me to live.

I think we miss out on the blessings when we focus on what we thought we could’ve had. 

I think I’ve learned more about pressing into God; about how He truly needs to be my absolute best friend. I want to desire nothing but Him. I don’t want to be distracted by the comforts of this world. I am so very distracted by this world. I don’t know how not to be, but I know that the answer lies in Him alone.

Seek Him. Find Him. Love Him. Seek Him some more.

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