Monday, July 20, 2015

Back Where I Belong

As the school year ended, I was really excited about sleeping in and then getting up, grabbing a cup of coffee and my Bible, and spending time with God each day.

I hate to admit that as excited as I was about not having to rush about my morning, I have FAILED miserably in spending time with Him this summer.

I can make excuse after excuse, but I won't.

Plain and simple truth?

I put things between us.

Whether it was sleep, TV, technology, the new house, whatever....I failed to spend quality time with Him.



Yesterday during Sunday School, our lesson was about Jonah's disobedience toward God and Ninevah's return to God.  You know the story....

God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and tell the people to repent or they would be destroyed.  Jonah didn't want to so he got on a boat to go far away.  Well, God got upset, caused a storm, and Jonah was confronted by the others on the ship.  Overboard he went, into the stomach of a fish. After 3 days, Jonah was vomitted out and then decided he should obey God.  God gave the people of Ninevah a second chance (and Jonah too).

Second chances.

They are nice aren't they?

When we've messed up big time or lost our way, we yearn for someone to wrap their arms around us, hug us tightly, and say, "It's going to be ok. I'm here and I love you."

God does that for us.

The thing about God is that He knows us....better than we do.  He knows what's in our hearts. He knows our thoughts. He knows our words before we even speak them.  He knows we are going to mess up.  He knows us, BUT He loves us anyway.

God is a giver of second chances.  He gives us a chance to get back where we belong.  And where is that?

With Him.

So today, I am dedicated....I am starting my "second-fortieth" chance.  You see....I've lost count of the number of times I've neglected my relationship with God.  But the thing about God is this....He never walked away from me. He's just been whispering to me and waiting for me to return back to Him.

And that's what I'm doing.

I want that intimacy back.  And what better way to get back there than to spend time with Him.

So today, I looked on my bookshelf and found this....



I started it a long time ago and never finished.  Today, I restart.  I take advantage of my "second-fifty-fifth" chance.

Jesus told the story of the prodigal son.  It is a story of second chances. And today, I return....the prodigal daughter returns to where she belongs.

But I am aware that Satan lurks nearby.  He already has his hand out ready to snatch me back, but God is stronger.  He led me to scripture this morning that I need to keep close to my heart.

As I was reading from Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy, I was instructed to read 1John 5:19-20 that talks about knowing God through Jesus.  But my eyes went further to verse 21

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

That hit me.  That....That is what has happened to me.  These idols, I have placed them between myself and God.  I came up with excuse after excuse without really knowing what I was doing. When God whispered to me, "You haven't spent time with me today," I answered him, "I know and I will in a minute. Just let me finish this."  Whatever "this" was, it took His place.  Many days, that idol made me lay down at bedtime and cringe, "Dear God, I'm sorry. I didn't spend time with you like I said I would. Tomorrow will be better."

Only it wasn't.

But thankfully, God is more faithful than I am.

He met me today, wrapped His arms around me, and gave me my "second-sixtieth" chance.  He is helping me get back where I belong.



Saturday, July 18, 2015

You're Beautiful and You're Not Perfect and That's OK


My first recollection of comparing myself to other girls was when I didn't make it to the top 10 in our local fair beauty pageant.

Before the pageant, I felt beautiful....as beautiful as a 9 year old girl can feel in an shiny blue itchy dress from the one and only Pistols and Petticoats.

I was a shy girl. Never really liked to call attention to myself, but my friend and I had decided to enter the pageant.  We anxiously waited in line as the names of the finalists....the prettiest girls.....were called for one last look.

My name wasn't called.  I had decided that maybe I wasn't pretty after all.

A year or so passed and once again, my friend talked me into entering the pageant.  This time, I wore a dark blue flowery dress (large flower prints were all the rage).  I was a sixth grader I think.  Again, names were called. Mine wasn't one of them.

I remember thinking....I am prettier than she is.  I felt guilty for having that thought toward another friend of mine, but I thought it anyway! I couldn't understand why her name was called and mine wasn't.


Fast forward to middle and high school.....

I wanted those Guess jeans.
I wanted to wear the same clothes as the popular girls.
I wanted my hair that color, that wavy, that straight.
I wanted those Eastlands and Doc Martens.

For a teenage girl, looks are pretty important.  We want to be just as pretty as the next girl, if not prettier. My magazines were filled with beauty tips and pretty girls that were my age.

During my freshman year of high school, there was one particular girl that I compared myself to.  I found myself wanting to dress like her, wear my hair like her.  In a way, I wanted to be her.  I became obsessed and it took a toll on me and on my body.

I quit eating so much and began to lose weight. Within months, I had lost 30something pounds.  My grandpa told me I was skin and bones and begged me to eat, chunk up a bit, because I worried him.  For me, the skinnier the better because that one girl was bigger than me and this was something I had on her, you know, because all girls want to be skinny.

That spring, I got sick, really sick and had a difficult time getting well. My doctor basically threatened to put me in the hospital if things didn't change.

Slowly, I began to gain a little weight.  Not much, but a little.  I remember my grandpa telling me he was glad I was putting a little meat on my bones.

Still throughout my teenage years, I struggled with how I wanted to look. Was a I pretty enough?  Was my hair just right?  Were my clothes stylish enough?

Then when I was 16 years old, tragedy struck my family.  My aunt was in a freak accident and her hair was ripped from her scalp.  She was lucky the machine that her ponytail was caught in didn't break her neck and kill her.  She would, however, have to live the rest of her life with no hair.  For a 16 year old girl, there was a lesson to be learned here.

Looks mean nothing.

My aunt was (and still is) beautiful.  She always had her makeup and hair just right.  I thought she was perfect in every way.  Now, she would never have hair again.  I didn't care though.  My aunt was alive and that's what mattered.  I reflected on the time I had spent with her throughout the years.  She taught me how to make grilled cheese sandwiches.  She hand made Barbie doll clothes for me (and even treated me to a few store bought Barbie outfits).  She played with me, took me to the park, and took me swimming at the public pool.  She invested her time in me.  That meant more than what appeared in the mirror.

For a 16 year old girl, I learned a valuable lesson:  A beautiful heart is worth more than a beautiful face.

That's a valuable lesson, but for a woman, I think it is one that is easily forgotten.

There's always another comparison to be made.

Maybe not so much as what we look like, although I'll admit that I worried a bit about having to wear a swim suit to Jeff's Army unit's family day event at the water park.  Knowing I'd have to keep up with three kids in a water park for the first time took precedence over what I felt about wearing my tankini in public.

But we compare ourselves to these moms who seem like they have it all together.  You know the ones: they walk into church on Sunday morning smiling, well dressed and their kids are well behaved, while we glue that fake smile on our faces after pulling into the parking lot 10 minutes late because we've had to threaten the lives of our children for fighting and not getting ready. Don't forget the ones that walk through the store with hair in tact (and no gray strands), clothing not stained, and fruits and veggies piled nicely in their shopping cart. Meanwhile, our shopping cart is filled with junk and processed food because our screaming kids who are running around like caged animals that have been set free refuse to eat anything else.

Maybe we aren't comparing ourselves by looks so much anymore, but we are comparing our children, our homes, our cars, our jobs (or envying those stay at home moms who post on Facebook about their morning workouts after the kids are dropped off at school and then they can sit and drink coffee and read on the patio). They seem to have something we don't, and we want it.

But here's the truth.....

I'm not you or her and y'all aren't me and that is perfectly fine because that's the way it's supposed to be.

It took me a long to time realize that God's Word is true.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

We've heard the old saying, "God broke the mold when He made you."  It's true for each of us. None of us are the same, and we weren't created to be.  The only thing we should strive for in being alike is that we each have a relationship with Christ and bring Him honor and glory in all we do.

For me,

I will continue to struggle with weight and eating.  I've dealt with it for years.  I am an emotional eater.  I like food. A lot.  I'm overweight and I really don't do much about it. It's my own fault and sin and I have to have God's help in conquering this.

I've got stretch marks from puberty topped with stretched marks from three baby boys.  Those aren't going anywhere.  I carry a muffin top and cellulite with them.

I have bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. My eyelashes have thinned over the years and in Mrs. Trudy's words, time marches across my face.

The strands of gray hair increase each day regardless of what color of hair dye I put on them. Proverbs 16:31 encourages me: Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.

I can't get jealous of my musically talented friends.  God didn't bless me with that gift.  I do know that when I do sing off key songs of praise, He is still pleased. And one day....oh what a glorious day that will be, my voice will be beautiful as I sing to Him in heaven.

My kids aren't perfect. Your's aren't perfect. They are all human.  Just like adults....kids do stupid stuff.  I have to deal with it.  I have to remember that I was once that age once (which every aged child I'm dealing with at the moment).  My children are going to mess up.  They will make me want to scream and hide and sneak off with a chocolate bar.  They are kids, that's what they do. I made my mom feel that way, and she made her mom feel that way. Oh and the best....My grandkids will make my children feel that way (insert laughter here).

In this season of life, I have a career. The career I've worked hard for, earned two degrees for. A career that hopefully has changed lives. I can't be jealous of the career of others (or lack of).  For this season of my life, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. If God wants me to do something else, I have to trust that He will lead me there. Patience, Darling.  Patience.

What are you struggling with?  Do you want to look like someone else?  Do you want that house in that neighborhood?  Do you want that car? Do you want the life that is continuously posted on social media?

Your life is your life. My life is my life.

Life is hard enough as it is, and we MUST STOP COMPARING ourselves to others.

You are beautiful.  Inside and out. Gray hair, stretch marks, muffin top.  All of it.  You are your own worst critic. I care more about how I look in the swim suit than I care about how you look in your swim suit.  And as far as I look.....if my husband likes me in my swim suit and thinks I'm still sexy after 24 years and three kids, that's what matters to me.

Sweet friend, you are beautiful and you are NOT perfect.  You aren't supposed to be.  We become perfect in Christ in His time. Not ours.

No diet.
No dress size.
No high heel shoe.
No perm.
No exercise program.
No college degree.
No career.
No rich neighborhood.
No BMW.
No amount of money.

None of those things will make you perfect.  Only Christ can do that.

We've got to come to terms with and accept our imperfections and flaws.  Then we have to hand our insecurities, whatever they may be, hand them over to God.  Allow Him to lead us, mold us, change us.  We can't do it alone.  We have to use these flaws, these lessons we've learned from our sinful nature to tell our story.  We have to tell of our struggles with our health, with eating disorders, addictions, insecurities, sin, whatever.  We each have story to share. There's someone out there that feels alone.

There's a young mother who feels guilty for needing a break from her little ones.

There's a working woman who feels guilty for not being the stay at home mom her heart desires.

There's a girl who feels ugly and unpopular and is on the border of a harmful lifestyle.

There's a girl.....me or you...who needs to hear that we are not alone.  We don't need perfect examples.  We need examples of those who have been there, done that, fallen, gotten up, and found strength to accept life and move on.

My friend, you are beautiful.

You are not perfect.

And that's OK.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

God broke the mold when He made you.


 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Free


There are so many things that wrap us in chains.....greed, pride, lust, insecurities, drugs, pornography. The list goes on and on.  These things trap us and deny us of the life that God has planned for us.  If only we could break FREE.

As women, we are trapped by insecurity.  We compare ourselves to other women.  When we dress, we don't think about what our husbands will think of us, but we wonder what other women will think.  Ultimately, we fear their judgement because we are insecure about ourselves.

Isn't that why we don't wear our swimsuits?

Isn't that why we compare ourselves to these models who seem to defy nature?

We are trapped by insecurity.

But I have news for you....for all of us who still wear our baby weight and bare stretch marks, for those of us who fight or linger on the border of an eating disorder because of your self image, for those of you that are not a single digit size: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

God made everything glorious.  So ask yourself, "What does that make me?"

Love that tidbit from David Crowder.

We can break free from the chains that trap us. With the help of Christ, we can break free!

Thank you so much for stopping by and joining in with Five Minute Friday.  Leave a comment letting me know you were here and go on over to katemotaung.com to join in.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Hope


When that second line showed up, I had only hoped for a healthy baby.  With three boys already, I was fine being a "boy mom" and honestly didn't care if you were a boy or girl.  Healthy is what's always mattered to me.

We hoped that your brothers would be excited about you. They were.  They were eager to start telling and so were Dad and I.

We spread the news of you....our newest blessing.  I was nervous though.  It was early.  We had just found out about you and didn't wait until the first trimester was over like we had with your brothers.

Then that day....

That day I saw something.

My hope was that it was nothing, but in the pit of my stomach, I knew it was something.

My hope was that everything would be ok.

The coming weeks were a nightmare.  The tests. The waiting.  And then the news.

You had stopped growing.  We would never hold you in our arms.

On Earth.

But I know Jesus.

In Him, I have hope.

I have the hope of seeing you one day in heaven.  Wrapping my arms around you....finally.  Hearing you call me "Mommy" for the first time.

That's my hope.  I knew you when you were growing inside of me.  I loved you then, and I love you now.


Thank you for joining me for this week's Five Minute Friday prompt. This is a time for a wonderful community of people (some of whom I am excited to be meeting next month) come together and share words for just five minutes.  Care to join in?  Head on over to katemotaung.com and link up with us.  You won't regret it.




Monday, June 29, 2015

Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now

The military life is full of separations. The anticipation of a homecoming gets the adrenaline going!  It doesn't matter if it's weekend drill, deployment, or AT; when it's time to be reunited, nothing will stop you. Not even this....
This weekend storm brought flash flooding and 92 mph wind gusts.  But it wasn't going to keep me from picking up my Soldier from AT!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Dream

We start out dreaming.

As children, we get asked the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

We are often told by those that love us, "You can do anything you set your mind to. Just follow your dreams."

Follow your dreams.

My dream was to get married. Have 3 children: 2 boys and a girl. To teach.

As a young girl and teenager, that's what I wanted out of life.  I never thought much more than that.

However, my dreams became reality based on God's will for my life.  I'm married. I'm teaching. I have three children....3 sons.  I am the wife of an Army Chaplain. And I want more.  As an adult, I have dreams for my future, things I want to accomplish.

I've learned to follow God's lead and work to become the woman He wants me to be.  And sometimes, that means letting go of dreams or having new ones.

Dreams are a good thing.  But they can become idols if we let them.  We aren't meant to do everything we want.  We are meant to follow God's will.  Sometimes His answer to our dreams and plans are, "No. That's not what's best."  That my friend can be a hard pill to swallow.


Thank you for joining me for this week's Five Minute Friday post.  I am so glad you stopped by.  I would love for you to join in.  You can leave me a comment and then head over to katemotaung.com to join in this wonderful community of folks who spend five minutes each week writing what comes to mind when given a one word prompt.  If you are joining me directly from FMF, be sure I am able to link up to you and read your post as well.



Friday, June 19, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Fear

"Mama! Come lay down with me."

"Why?" I ask.

"Because I'm afraid."



Fear.

It sets in early.  I know by these common nighttime pleas from my little ones.

I tell them there is nothing to be afraid of.

I ask, "What are you afraid of?"

My son will answer, "The dark."

"You know what's in the dark?" I ask.

"No. What?" is their terrified reply.

"The same stuff that's there in the light."



They usually don't know how to respond to that.

But I think about it now that these words are flowing off the laptop keys.



The light. The Light.

Jesus Christ.

He is there with us in our darkest moments.

He is there with us on our brightest days.

He is there.

Always.

I don't know how many times the Bible says it, but so many times, God says, "Do not be afraid." Whether those are His words or the words of the angels He sends, God reminds us there is nothing to fear.  He is with us always.


I know who goes before me.  I know who stands behind.

That's God.  He's our light. He's our rock.  He's our protector.  With Him by our side, there is nothing to fear.



Thank you so much for joining me for this Five Minute Friday. I can't wait to hear from you!  Don't forget, if you haven't already......go on over to katemotaung.com to join in the fun.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

How Many "Likes" Can I Get?

I have this love/hate relationship with social media.  I love blogging. I love connecting with others.  I love to spread encouragement, laughter, and the message of Jesus through technology.


But I hate the anger that is spread through social media. I hate the negativity.  I hate the finger pointing and blaming.

Most of all.....

I hate how sometimes I forget why I click post.

Way back when I started this blog, I wanted it to honor and glorify Christ.  That was the deal I made with God (Quit laughing. I know I'm not the only one who makes deals with God.)

I try to be real.

Like the time I ruined my witness during Pee Wee baseball.

Do you remember the time I defended public schools?

Or when I was feeling vulnerable and left out after returning to work after maternity leave?

Oh, and there was that time I experienced my first deployment as a military wife.

And let's not forget about my miscarriage.

I wrote those posts and clicked Publish to share, to encourage, to mend the soul.  Many times, my posts are for me and no one else.  If they are helpful, wonderful. I'm glad I was a blessing to you.  But for me, writing is an escape, a release.  It soothes me. It calms me. It brings me back to reality.

Reality.

In reality....life is hard. People are mean. There is sin and and hatred. There's so much "stuff" going on and spreading like wildfire that so many Christians cry out, "Jesus! Please come back now!'

And in all this reality, so many people click that post button wanting to see how many "Likes" they can get.

I admit it.

Sometimes I do too. I don't do it at anyone else's expense. I don't do it to humiliate or discourage. I don't do it to spread hatred and anger.  Sometimes I just want people to like what I have to say. Sometimes I want people to like my picture I am sharing.

Sometimes I forget that it isn't about me, but about Christ.

This all really built up when I wrote a post recently about my frustrations about how Christians are badmouthed simply because they disagree with the beliefs or lifestyles of others.  Honestly, I thought it was a really good post and that people would share it if they were too afraid to speak up for Christ.  I did the dirty work so to speak.  All they had to do was click "Like" and "Share."

Here are my stats on that post:

According to Blogger,  52 people read the post. There were no comments.

According to Facebook, there was 1 Share (2 if you count the one I shared from the blog Facebook page) and 2 Likes and 2 Comments (from the people that Liked it).


I'll admit it.

I was a bit disappointed.  After all, so many things that spread hatred, anger, and negativity are spreading like wildfire on social media.  And what???? I stood up for Christians who are tired of being pushed around for simply saying, "I don't agree," and it basically spread to a few folks.

I thought that was pretty sad.

But honestly, why did I click Publish?  Was it to get a million Likes or to stand up for Jesus?

Hard question.  It shouldn't be, but it is.

I was standing up for Jesus, but I also wanted to get a bunch of Likes and Shares too.  Hypocritical, I know.

So where is that happy medium.  Can't I do both?  I think for me, I have to realize and understand that it doesn't matter how many Likes and Shares I get. What matters is that I spread the message for Christ.  That even though one person might read my post, that one person was hopefully touched.


And as I write these words, I am telling myself the same thing I told Jeff.  He was frustrated about having to attend AT.  He told me that he felt like it didn't matter if he was there or not, that he wouldn't be missed.  His commanders don't even put Chapel on the schedule during battle assembly, and when he does get to have one, no more than 6-8 Soldiers show up.  I told him that was ok. That was 6-8 Soldiers that heard the message of Christ.  It's not about quantity. It's about quality.


So, in essence, that is what I am reminding myself.  It isn't about how many Likes and Shares I get on social media. It's about reaching at least one person....encouraging that person or showing the love of Christ to that person.  Sometimes that person might be me. Sometimes it might be you.  I have to remember.....It isn't about quantity. It's about quality.



Friday, June 12, 2015

Five Minute Friday: World



This world we live in...sometimes it seems so big and other times, so small.

Some people have a desire to go out and conquer the world.  Others, just to do their small part and live peacefully in it.

Some people think the world absolutely revolves around them.  Others feel like no one in the world even knows they exist.

But this world we live in is a gift.  God created it.  He created it for us to enjoy. He created it for us to take care of. He created it for his glory.

In my little part of the world, I want to make a difference.  Maybe you do too.  Sometimes we feel like we have to do great big things in order to change the world.  But we don't. Sometimes those small things make a big difference.

There's some saying about how to someone, we are their whole world.  And isn't that true? If you really stop to think about it.....To somebody....you....me....we are all the difference in their world.  We make them glad to be here.  We give them something to look forward to. We give them hope and love and encouragement.  For the most part, we will never really know what we mean to another person, but I really think we need to live as if we are someone's world. That they need us...They need us to show them the love of Christ.



Thank you for joining me for this week's Five Minute Friday post.  Don't forget to head over to katemotaung.com to join this wonderful community.



Friday, June 05, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Gift

"Life's a gift, and I don't intend to waste it."  Those are the words spoken by Jack Dawson as he dined with the first class passengers in Titantic.

What great words those are!

God's Word says that every good and perfect gift is from above and that's exactly what life is.  A good and perfect gift.

Not everything about our lives is good and perfect.  I know this from my own life and especially from the lives of those that I love that are struggling.

My sweet friend who is battling brain cancer sent me a text the other night.  Although she was at low place at that moment, our conversation was a gift.  She will never realize what a special person she is to me.  A true gift from God.

I love her. I admire her. I am blessed by her. I am thankful for her.

Although she is struggling, fighting this fight that no young mother should ever have to fight, I just have to believe, and encourage her to believe, that this difficult journey is also a gift in itself.  We may never truly understand or see the goodness in her journey, but I do know that she is changing lives.  Mine included.

When I look back on my life, I want to know that I didn't waste it.  During those mountaintop moments and in my darkest valleys, I want to take advantage of the gift of life and live it to the fullest.  The Bible speaks of the Valley of Blessings. And I think that's what we have to do in order to get through our valleys, our struggles, is to see that all though they are difficult, they are also blessings.  Difficult, I know, but God's will, His plan....it's perfect.


"Here's to making it count!"