I've been wanting to write this post for a couple months, but Blogger didn't seem to want to load for me. I finally realized today that it could be a browser issue and installed firefox. Why Google Chrome won't let me use Google Blogs I'll never know...
Anywho, yes. We're taking a hiatus from the blog. So much is happening in all our lives that there's simply no way to keep up with everything. And as much as we love our readers, family and real life come first.
At some point - most likely next year - there will be a relaunch of the site, but for now we're offline. So, in the words of Ted Baxter, "Good night, and good news."
And in the words of Kathy, "Have a happy day!"
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
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Monday, July 8, 2013
Our reason for moving to the inner-city is becoming clear. We’re here to do ministry.Some neighborhood kids (the same ones that have vandalized the house and our van before) tried to break our kitchen window again tonight. They banged on it repeatedly with various hard items. They knew that we saw them - one even waved at me - but they didn’t care about getting caught.
After the third or fourth time that they did it and ran off, I decided to follow them. I got Kalli on the leash, grabbed my phone, and marched down a dark alley to talk to the one kid's parents. I wasn’t the least bit afraid, but the heavy vibe of the street prompted me to pray, "Lord, give me the right words."
A half dozen or more men were on one porch talking, and another half dozen or so were playing basketball. But when I walked up, the ball and all other conversations stopped. It was like a scene from an old western movie, where the outcast steps into the saloon, and everything gets all quiet. It was an ominous situation, for sure, with the boy’s older brother telling me no adults were home and a group of young men crowding around me when I went to knock on the door anyway. They wouldn't let me onto the porch.
I stood my ground and calmly explained to the brother that his parents needed to know what was going on. Then the mom came outside, and let's just say that meeting their mother helped me understand the boys' aggression a little better. I tried to make it clear that I didn't want trouble but that we would have no choice but to hold them responsible if anything got broken. No respect; she wouldn't even look at my face and probably didn't hear a word I said. I think I’ll bake her some cookies tomorrow.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
I have’t posted about it here, but I did mention on Facebook that I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, "An idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of [my] crazy life." It’s basically 30 days for writing toward a self-appointed word goal while leaning on the moral support of a virtual cabin full of fellow authors. It’s like the National Novel Writing Month event that is held ever November by the Office of Letters and Light, except the goal is more flexible (you can set your own and write in any format, instead of shooting for a 50,000 word novel like everyone else).
I started my month of writing with every intention of building some blog content. But now I've got this story brewing, pouring itself out, begging me to keep writing. It's taking turns I never wanted to take, delving into a world about which I had no desire to write. It hurts and it's beautiful, it's grinding my heart to a pulp and it's building my hopes up. I don’t want to go there, but I can’t turn away. My mind is consumed with the thoughts of another life, of a girl who needs love. And now it’s my job to make sure she finds it, though her face is one I’ll never touch.
What a joy it is to be the master of a universe, and yet what agony it creates in my soul, knowing that, though I’d like to ease her pain, to write a happy ending, the characters that I have shaped are taking hold of their own stories and twisting them into a mottled mess of devastating freedom. To think that I could hold their destinies and yet allow such misery… I think I’m beginning to know how God feels, why He allows His children to suffer. It’s not that He wants it, but He loves us enough to allow us to write our own fates - even though it crushes Him.
Oh, Lord, let me please You with the choices I make. I don’t want to cause You the kind of crushing pain that comes from having your children go astray. Guide me in the way everlasting, that Your glory will rise among the nations! And let this story that’s consumed me be a tool for healing and uplifting hurting souls. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
I'm currently participating in a small group of women reading the book Anything by Jennie Allen and using the Good Morning Girl's standard SOAP approach to Bible study to expand on the truths found therein. I can't do a regular book review, because it just wouldn't do it justice, so I've decided to share some of my thoughts on how it's affected my life thus far.
The problem with praying an anything prayer is that it involves everything. I'm less than halfway through the book, and already my life has changed drastically.
You know the saying, If you give him an inch, he'll take a mile? Well it seems to fit my dealings with God pretty well lately. It's not so much that he's taking more than I gave; it's that I offered more than I realized. On page 57, Jennie states, "If anything has 'buts,' it wouldn't be anything." And that is so true.
I remember listening to that song by Meatloaf that goes, "And I would do anything for love, but I won't do that" play on the jukebox at the local pizza joint and thinking how stupid it was. I mean, how in the world can you say you'll do "anything" but then turn around and say, "Oh, I didn't mean that. Pick something else"? It just doesn't make sense. And yet, we all do it with God.
For me it was, "Sure, Lord, I'll be a missionary. I'll go to some exotic place and serve the poor starving children. Just don't make me give birth to them, because I'd really rather not get married. I'm thinking something like what Mother Teresa had. And remember that it has to be a third world country, because You know I don't like it here in America very much; the people are too selfish and ungrateful, and their sense of entitlement bothers me. Oh, and that third world country needs to have indoor plumbing so I can shower daily. And don't forget that I need to have access to the internet and eat a special diet and..." Okay, so I really wasn't quite that bad, but only because I was afraid to be. I mean, you can't disrespect God, right, 'cause He might strike you down with lightning or something.
Isn't that really how we all feel, though? We're willing to do something great, willing to sacrifice just so much, as long as our needs are met first and we don't have to step too far out of our comfort zones.
When I was 18, I offered my all to Jesus, thinking it would get me into a missionary situation similar the one I described above. A few months later I was married (I hoped to die an old maid) and pregnant (I really never wanted kids) and living in poverty in the US with little or no opportunity to minister to anyone other than my abusive husband (not exactly the mission field I wanted). But God still used me; I just didn't always realize He was doing it. I thought I had failed Him and He had scrapped His plans for me. Truth is, He knew what was going to happen all along. I just had to give Him full reign so that His Will could come to fruition.
And then I lost patience. Something about being treated like garbage while trying to protect your kids from their father's abuse will do that to you. "God, if this is the life you have for me, I want out!" I stepped out of His will, but He saved us anyway.
Several years later, I've just turned 30. I have SIX beautiful children, none of whom were planned by me but all of whom were planned by God. I'm engaged to a man that loves my children as his own and cherishes me in a way I'd never imagined possible. And I'm reading this book by Jennie Allen called Anything: the Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul. (It's pretty spiffy, but it makes me cry a lot.)
I've re-offered myself to God, and He is moving in fast!
One week into this spiritual commitment, I was presented with a situation that brought back all the pain of the hell that was my marriage. I obeyed God's leading whispers, and I experienced a profound release, a freedom like you can't imagine.
Two weeks in, my fiancé said he feels led to practice sexual abstinence until we can get officially married. That's a huge thing for a 28 year old guy who shares a bedroom with the mother of his child! I agreed, and the chronic infection that I've had for months faded away.
Yesterday, halfway through week three, the Lord revealed a piece of His plan for us that makes completely floored me (in a good way). All the pieces are starting to fit together, and I am so glad that my God knows better than I do what path I should follow and how to get me back on track when I stumble off in the wrong direction! I can't wait to see what he does over the next five weeks and beyond...
Thursday, June 20, 2013
From Wednesday on last week, I got up late and missed my window of opportunity for uninterrupted Jam time. (My alarms didn't go off. I set 5 or six of them to go off at 15 minute increments, because some mornings it is just physically impossible for me to get out of bed. But anyway...) So yesterday Alex agreed to let me ignore the world for a while to catch up on the study.
After Saturday's events, I was starting to feel broken again, like the wound that never properly healed was ripped wide open, I was mostly numb but wanted to feel, just like before, when shutting down was the only way to survive, and I was worried that it would take me a while to get back on my feet emotionally. It seemed like I had a long way to go, because healing from abuse typically takes quite a long time.
That first verse... Not just that Christ set us free for freedom, but the second part: "DO NOT let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery." That's what was happening to me on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. The enemy had grabbed a foot hold while I was doing God's work. While I was sharing certain details of my past with a woman who was >thisclose< to putting herself in my shoes (the old ratty ones that no one should ever have worn) the devil found a piece of fear in me, clung to it, and started trying to convince me that I wasn't free.
Satan's a liar, you know.
I read that verse (Galatians 5:1) and broke down. Then a song came up on Pandora that put me literally on my knees, sobbing. And all the pain, all the guilt, all the fear, all the what-ifs and if-onlys are gone. Jesus took it all! I am free - completely 100% FREE from the hell that was my reality. It is over. And I never have to be enslaved by it again.
This weekend marked the point at which I moved from trying to serve God while coping with life to really living in servitude to His Will. And now the only thing that matters is my faith expressing itself through love.
God is good, people. Let Him have your burdens today.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I used to be a pretty gentle, patient person.
I never thought I was. In fact, I practically always felt guilty for being so selfish and rude (my lack of tact does often leave much to be desired when compared with our American standard) and high-maintenance. I consistently thought things like, if I had just done that differently, or maybe if I was better at such-and-such. I knew I was trying to do my best, but I felt like I was failing, like my best just wasn't good enough.
People often told me I needed to give myself some credit, that I was doing better than most would in certain situations, that I should find a way to boost my self-esteem. They complimented me, applauded my efforts, congratulated me on surviving my hell-on-earth past as if I had done some miraculous thing just by getting out alive.
Others accused me of being depressed, saying I needed "a lot of help" or that it would take years of therapy to overcome the shame and what-ifs. They brought me low by declaring that it would be impossible for anyone to go through what I had gone through and come out with any shred of dignity.
Then individuals from the over-complimenting group and some from the over-diagnosing group got together and convinced me that I did, indeed need to build my self-confidence. I must actually be depressed and simply in denial, because - even though I felt okay - life was hard, and these people clearly had to know more about what "normal" is than me. Right?
So I let them do their thing. I let them teach me how to put myself first. I believed them when they said no one else could have done what I'd done, much less under the same circumstances, and come out so well on the other end. I let them build an artificial confidence in my spirit, because you know what? Arrogance feels good!
But then I got puffed up with pride.
All of this talk of how great I was doing and how compassionate I was did exactly what it was designed to do: It changed me.
Suddenly, I was no longer patient when things didn't go according to my plan.
I couldn't handle it when my efforts to fit the kids into this mold of my design were met with resistance.
I got tired of being gentle with Alex while waiting for him to take the lead, because my way was clearly better.
I lost my desire to serve others or reach out to anyone, because it was my turn to be taken care of. I deserved it!
A couple months ago during a Bible study on one of Jesus' teachings on pride, I actually thought to myself something like, "I'm already humble. I don't need this." Ha! Imagine taking pride in humility! Oxymoron much?
And now I'm starting all over again.
The biggest problem with pride is that it's easy to build it up but so, so much harder to tear it down. Sure, it can be banged up pretty easy. But the scar tissue ends up stronger than the original material. The only solution is to be humble. But how?!
Fall on your face.
Be honest about how much you've screwed up.
Remember who you once were and how you got here.
Pray, offering it all up as a sacrifice.
I'm in the process of giving it all back to God. And He's already rewarding me.
He told me just this morning that, if I will really give Him everything - if I will actually lay down my pride, knowing full well that I will probably be humiliated in front of someone (or several someones) whose approval I've been seeking - that He will return to me the mantel of HIS confidence that I once wore.
You see, confidence can be a good thing, as long as it's focused on the only One who actually deserves it.
I truly believe self-esteem is a worldly misconception. We're told that having self-esteem or self-confidence means we trust ourselves to be able to do whatever it is we want to do at the moment. It's just a fancy word for pride, really, but it's been twisted and contorted to mean something that isn't at all what we need. We see self-esteem as an all-access pass, a declaration that "I have value and you better acknowledge it!" We use it to justify our sense of entitlement.
But true confidence isn't that. Confidence in Christ is simply knowing that, no matter how many times you fall, He'll always be there to lift you up. It's the faith that, even though we as humans are destined to screw up time and again, God can still use us to work out His plan. And not only can He, He will! All we have to do is lay down our own agendas, abandon this idea that "I should be able to do what I want to do, whether anyone else likes it or not."
I'm getting there...eventually.
I'm still screwing up pretty consistently. I yell a lot. I snap more than I should. I catch myself quite often in thoughts of how unfair it is that I have to do so much more than everyone else. (Who is "everyone," really, anyway? Silly Kathy.) I get frustrated and impatient and decide to be lazy, because, well, nobody appreciates me anyway.
But at least I'm able to recognize these moments for what they are - selfishness, pride, and envy. (Aren't those some of the Catholic's Seven Deadly Sins? Hmm...)Once I recognize my mistake, I am able to correct myself. At least some of the time, anyway.
This humility stuff is hard, I tell ya. But it's so totally worth it.
I think I'm being more gentle - or less harsh, at least. I am noticing a difference in the way the kids are responding to me. Alex seems a little less frazzled when I'm less resentful, too. And I'm finding that everything is becoming more enjoyable again. Like, I'm actually starting to remember what it means to have fun! And, while I refuse to take credit for any of the changes God's making in my heart, I'm starting to feel better about me, too. Because Jesus thinks I'm awesome.
What about you?
Do you struggle with false confidence? Has guilt tricked you into believing that you're not worth God's time? Or have you maybe gotten roped into the modern idea that you are your own #1? Tell us about it in the comments.