Speak Truth. Speak Life. Especially to Yourself.

Have you ever felt like you’re in a battle with your emotions and feelings?
In the midst of those battles, do you ever think “I’ve been here before. I’ve fought this war before.”?
More importantly, do you ever think “I WON this before, why the eff am I still fighting?”

This is what Dave and I call “familiars”. Battles and issues you’ve had in the past (ie: unworthiness, abandonment, etc. Basically: fear) that keep rearing their ugly heads for us to stumble on again and again, no matter how many times we think we’ve dealt with them.

Well, in the spirit of honesty, I’ve been punching one of these familiars in the face all week. A big one for me: being left out and forgotten.

Growing up, I was left out of a lot of things for one reason or another. Mostly because kids are just plain mean, but sometimes it was due to circumstances that were beyond my control. Regardless, it was never my choice. Even people who I called my friends – my GOOD friends – hurt me at some point, made me feel like I didn’t belong, or literally completely forgot about me.

Sadly, it became something I expected from school friends, church friends, and even family – because these familiars don’t give a crap who the offender is, they just want to make sure you’re wounded. It became a way of life for me. I expected people to leave me out of things without thinking about it. I expected to not be invited to things. I expected everyone to have amazing or hilarious stories and inside jokes that I would never be apart of and would subsequently feel the sting of every time they were brought up. I actually expected to be forgotten at places or during activities. And worst of all, I expected it would only get worse as my life went on.

I’m now 33 years old, have forgiven all of those people, have moved on, and yet somehow, just when I’m feeling comfortable, that stupid voice in my head starts lying to me again.

I repeat, because this is important, it’s LYING to me.

I know that people love me.
I know that they chose to pull me into their inner circles.
I know they’re not going to forget about me and leave me in the dust.
I know they are for me and not against me.
I know that even if/when our relationships morph, it doesn’t change the foundation that is there.
I know they’re not going to rub things in my face and make me feel bad.
I know all of these things and more but sometimes I need to remind myself. So that’s what I’m doing.

This is not a pity post. I’m not fishing for compliments or affirmation. I’m simply sharing my heart, in hopes that putting everything in writing will help me win my battle.

Maybe it’ll help someone else win theirs.

Maybe it’ll help you.

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Dear Single Christian Woman

I know what you’re thinking. What right do I, a married woman, have to write to you about being single? Well, I was the Single Christian Woman (SCW) until I was 32 years old. So I feel like I know a thing or two about this subject.

You’re probably already looking for potential in any single guy at your church and your heart leaps when someone new walks in.

You find yourself going to any and all church events, at multiple churches, in the hopes of finding someone.

You go to conferences. You go to open mic nights or talent shows. You go to nights of worship. Basically anything you can where you could meet someone.

Because where are you supposed to meet a man of quality? At the bar? At the club? If you’re out of school your options are probably church or the internet. And internet dating is another world. Not to mention that if you DO find someone, and they go to another church, oh man! What then? Are you going to leave your family, or are they? Who wins that? And is it really a “win” if you or your man are miserable because you left your home? I guess if it’s meant to be God will change someone’s heart, but that was always one of my fears. Thankfully, my story never came to this.

Now, if they haven’t yet, chances are any of your older and/or married friends (heck, even acquaintances!) at church are going to do one – or all – of four things.

  1. They’ll try and set you up with any single Christian man they can find. It doesn’t matter if they know the person or not. Basically, the only thing they need to know is that you’re both single. Actual “compatibility” is not in their realm of necessity.
  2. They’ll automatically assume that any male you sit next to at church is your future husband. Heck, you’re probably already dating him! Good for you! …but seriously, why can’t we be friends with guys without people assuming there’s more?
  3. They’ll encourage you to pursue someone. If this happens, make them stop. You are the girl. You are to be pursued! I don’t care if they’re the Pastor of the church or someone you met once, you do not do the pursuing. If they feel that strongly about it, they should go to the guy and tell HIM to pursue YOU. Then tell them to go read Wild at Heart, Captivating, and Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
  4. They’ll make it their life’s mission to pray your husband in. Do not get mad at them for this! I repeat: DO NOT GET MAD! Thank them. Continuously. This is the single most helpful thing they can do for you. And if their prayer is “Lord, let her find her husband before I find mine. I’ve been married before, she deserves this before I do.” you make sure they’re invited to your wedding and get the best thank you card possible. They put their life on hold for you. It’s the least you can do.

See, I’m not only writing to you about bad things! Just mostly bad things 😉

You need to remember that single Christian men are in the same boat as you. Well, a different boat, but the same river. And they’re probably going to all the same events thinking the same thing. Is that the girl I’m going to marry?  I just have one bit of advice for this situation. If he uses the pick-up line “I was praying, and God told me we’re supposed to be together.” Run. But before you do, let him down nicely with something like ” well, He hasn’t said anything to me yet, so let’s wait and see” and then run.

But more than anything, I want to leave you with this:

Run after the Lord, focus on Him, learn to be content with where you’re at, and trust that He will bring the perfect man into your life at the perfect time.

And don’t get down on yourself thinking that you’re doing something wrong or that you heard the Lord wrong. There are two (ok three…no Jesus Jukers please) parts to a relationship and while you may have all your garbage dealt with and are living your life the best you can, maybe he isn’t. Maybe he still has junk to get rid of and things to deal with before he’s ready for YOU.

So if you feel like it’s taking a long time, pray for him. You never know what your prayers will do.

Overloaded

This seems to be a recurring theme in my life lately, but for the first time I’m on the outside looking in. Usually I’m the one trying to juggle everything and fit everything onto my plate, praying nothing falls off.

Afro-American woman juggling objects

Sometimes you can’t stop things like this from happening, but most of the time you can. It just takes a little thing called: a voice.

That’s right. You need to stick up for yourself and set boundaries. Everyone’s “plate” is a different size, and no one knows exactly what’s on yours, so don’t let people add too much! And don’t be afraid to say no – even if it’s to yourself!

If you have too much going on, there’s a good chance you’re going to miss an opportunity, or forget something, or forget someONE, or cause someone else to fail. I’ve seen all of this happen in the last week and a half.

Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy.

Not to mention there’s a good chance you’ll get sick. In my experience, when I put too much on my plate my body eventually shuts down.

Yes, you are valuable.

Yes, you are capable of many things.

No, you shouldn’t have to do everything.

There are plenty of people who are capable of doing things also, and either deserve to do them, or NEED to do them because they’re lazy bums who put things on your plate so they can sit around and do nothing.

Don’t be afraid to spread the load around. Things will move much smoother, I promise.

A Beautiful Promise

Our living room here has gone through a few overhauls over the past few days. The most recent has put a table in the corner that Dave and I can both use as a desk. At the same time. We love it.

And that’s exactly what we’re doing tonight.

We’ve got worship music playing, the fire is on, dinner is in the oven, we’re in our pj’s, he’s doing something on his laptop, and I’m coloring.

Yes. Coloring.

I’m an adult, I swear!

My friend Lisa introduced me to adult coloring books earlier in the year and I flippin love them.

Photo on 11-23-15 at 6.31 PM

I opened the book to this page and tore it out without even really thinking of it, but while I was coloring I began to really think about the words.

The best is yet to come.

What a beautiful promise! I used to tell myself this all the time when I was single and lonely and sad and depressed. It was so encouraging!

The best is yet to come.

It can and will get better than this.

Well, tonight, as I sit with my husband in a warm home while he texts me that I’m “so beautiful” (when I feel like I look sub-human with no makeup, old glasses, messy hair and a big ol bathrobe) I realize that saying is still true.

The best is [still] yet to come.

Yeah, life is pretty great right now. I can’t complain about anything. But you know what? It’s still gonna get better. And I think that’s a beautiful promise.

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

-C.S. Lewis

Unexpected Adventures 

Yesterday I said that I would write about the experience I had on Saturday. Well, as I was writing it I realized that it’s not something that I should put out for the whole world to read. At least not yet. I need to fully process it. 

I don’t want to leave you all hanging though, so I’ll give you this:

When was the last time your prayed?

When you did, did you ask anything specific? Did you see anything? Did you feel anything?

If you’re looking for a game-changer, I would like to recommend the following question: 

Take me to a place in heaven that I’ve never been before…please 😊

Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. 

I wasn’t expecting anything. In fact, truth be told, I wasn’t even expecting to pray. But when you get stuck in a meditation period after a yoga class, you don’t really have a choice. 

What I saw and what I felt completely blew my mind. I was fighting back the tears the whole time. 

Thank God my friend, Caitlin was there with me. Once the instructor rang a gong-like thing and ripped me out of this sweet, sweet place that I want to live in, I looked at her and said “we need to debrief.”

We sat in my car and, through many tears, I began to process all that happened within those 15 minutes. 

I was completely overwhelmed. In a good way. A very good way. 

Perhaps one day I’ll write about it. It’s certainly not a secret, but it’s not something I’m ready to release to the masses yet either. 

For now I challenge you to ask God the same question and see where He takes you. You won’t be disappointed. 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7

What Did You Expect?

Life is rarely what we expect it to be.

Yes we have hopes and dreams and goals. And yes, sometimes we attain them. But when you look at your life, where it is today, and where “5-years-ago-you” thought it was going to be, I’m willing to bet that it looks nothing like you expected.

I dare you to find one person who’s life is exactly what they thought. And if you find them, please, tell me about them, because they’re a rare phenomenon.

When I was growing up (including my 20’s) and I thought about what 32 was going to look like, not one part of me thought I’d be living with my mother, working in video production, leading worship, running a youth group, unmarried with no kids of my own, and dating a guy 18 years older than me.

Go ahead…do the math…I’ll wait… 

I didn’t think my closest friends would be anywhere from 5 to 15 to 30 minutes, to 3 to 14 hours (by plane) away from me. I didn’t think I would rely so much on social media and blogging and skype to feel like I’m still connected to people.

I didn’t realize any of this because, mainly, I stopped guessing. I stopped expecting.

I hate when someone asks, “what’s your 5 year plan?”

Uh…to be happy with my life in 5 years?

Seriously. What do you say to that? Not to say that I don’t have goals or aspirations, but I’ve learned (or maybe just been jaded enough to realize) that things usually don’t go the way you planned. So I stopped planning.

When I was younger my “plan” was to be married at 24 and have at least one child if not two by the time I was 30, with eventually a total of 4. I was going to be a stay-at-home mom who worked part time once the youngest was in school. Know where that got me? Incredibly depressed at 30 because my life was no where near that.

Side note: if I got married at 24 I’d be divorced and severely unhappy. Three cheers for life not going as “planned”!

So if you ask me now, where do I see myself in 5 years? My answer is “happy.”

Maybe Dave and I will be married. Maybe we’ll have a child. Maybe we’ll have twins! Maybe I won’t be able to conceive. Maybe we’ll adopt. Maybe we’ll just have his 3 boys. Maybe I’ll be leading worship around the world. Maybe I’ll only lead worship at my home church. Maybe I won’t be leading worship at all! (Although that’s very unlikely.) Maybe I’ll have a huge youth group. Maybe I won’t be part of the youth group at all. Maybe I’ll stay at home. Maybe I’ll be working 50 hours a week. Maybe I won’t be a producer anymore. Maybe I’ll start my own production company. Maybe I’ll live somewhere that I won’t have to worry about warming my car up for 30 minutes because it’s covered in a giant sheet of ice (not that I’m bitter about today or anything…). Maybe we’ll own a house. Maybe we’ll be renting a place. Maybe…

Guys, there are a lot of maybe’s. A lot of ways life can go. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism (ha! another maybe) but if I don’t “plan” for any of these things to happen and I just let them, then I’ll be happy. At least I’ll have a better chance of it, because I’ll know that whatever decisions I made “in the moment” were what led me to that outcome.

My point is this: if I worry about what’s going to happen and I try and make things happen, chances are they’re not going to work out that way. So I’ll just worry about making the right decision for that day and trust that I’m on the right path. After all, ultimately, that’s all I can do, right?

Life is scary and stressful enough, why should we add to it?

Disclaimer: I am VERY happy with my life right now. This is not a complaining post, just simply a thought process. Also, a testimony (so far) that my theory works.

Broken

This morning I got to work at 645am and had one HECK of a day. Let’s just say that swears, tears and potential vomiting were all present before 8am, from multiple people. But I have amazing coworkers and even better clients, so we powered through. We’re not out of the storm yet, but we’re on our way.

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That said, I left work early and am currently sitting in the East Lyme Starbies enjoying a peppermint mocha latte (don’t worry folks, it’s decaf) and writing before a board meeting tonight.

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*side note: no Bethany today…that makes me sad :(*

But this isn’t what I wanted to write about today. I wanted to write about being broken.

All of us at one point or another, maybe even now, feel like we’re broken. Maybe even shattered. We feel like our lives look like this flower pot:

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What once was beautiful is now in a bunch of pieces and the contents are spilled out all over the place. When things fall apart so drastically we feel like they’ll never come back together, or if they do, there’s no way they’ll ever look half as good as they did before. You’ll see all the cracks and holes from the pieces that are no longer there. And the insides? They probably have to be mostly or completely replaced.

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Wrong. God’s got time for that.

In fact, I think He LIVES for times like that. I think He looks at our messes and thinks to Himself “YES! Another project! Let’s see what we can do with this one!” And it always, Always, ALWAYS comes out 10 million times better than before.

…if you let Him. That’s the key.

He’s always willing to step in and be the knight in shining armor, the fixer, the quicker-picker-upper (yes, I did just liken God to Bounty paper towels…deal with it haha) BUT He waits for us to go hands off and let Him do His thing. He’s kind of a gentleman, He doesn’t do things or take over unless asked.

And while my flower pot fix would come out looking something like this:

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His come out looking more like these:

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Which would you rather?