Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hard Hearts

I use to trust everyone, then I trusted no one. I use to let everyone in, then I let no one in. The bible says that God so loved the world He gave his one and only son. He gave...did you catch that? God experienced the ultimate betrayal, if anyone has a right to feel jaded it's surely God yet what did He do? He gave the most valuable thing He had to us, the most unworthy recipient. When I read those words I stop and wonder why, why did He do that? Why didn't He sigh and give up, why didn't He start over? Why does He loves us that much, that unconditional? And then in the whispers of my heart I hear how could I not?

My heart has been hardened for a long time, sure it doesn't always look that way, but it is. My heart has been pierced many times, wounds that were complied by more wounds. So, I built a wall. A wall to keep pain out, but I in the process I locked myself in. Sure you're outside where you can't hurt me, but I'm inside where I can't feel. When you're enclosed by walls, when you can't get hurt because you refuse to give, the void inside you never goes away; the pain is always there and you forget how to give simply because it's what you were made to do. Giving is the essence of our purpose for it's out of giving God saved His children. Giving and hard hearts do not go together.

I've been asked by God to do something, I've been fighting it for awhile now. I had many excuses as to why I couldn't, why I had to wait, why it shouldn't be me. I've also had moments of honesty and admitted I was afraid, I was jaded, I was not willing. Yesterday I finally said out loud "I give up, I'm done. I can't do any of this anymore. I'm out." Today I woke up to hear Him saying "but I gave, but I took the walls down, but I chased you first."

I don't want to have a hard heart. I don't want to live by fear. I don't want to disobey. And I surely don't want to live behind these walls any more. Laying them down seems wrong, laying them down seems destined to be wounded. Laying them down seems extremely risky. Laying them down requires the very depth of faith.

I cannot love God yet refuse to love others. I cannot ask to be used, yet hide behind my wall. I cannot risk in some areas, yet refrain in others. And I surely cannot believe yet refuse to obey. So today, today I will learn to love outside the walls, I will learn to trust outside the walls, and I will learn to risk it all outside the walls. Today I will not walk with a hard heart but rather a heart that gave simply because how could I not for it was given to me first.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The worst

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -- of whom I am the worst. (1Timothy 1:15) The worst, those were Paul's words; Paul, a man that worte a LOT of the new testament, a man that literally saw the light, a man that spread the word of God unlike any man after him. He was the worst sinner. Well, I guess you could say he was because Paul killed Christians, that was his job, kill em. If Jesus were picking teams for the upcoming game, surely he'd allow Paul to go on the other team; but he didn't. Jesus stopped Paul as he walking down the street, reached out to him and said I love you, please join my team.

In school I was never, ever picked first. Or second. Or even third. Unless it was my best friend doing the picking and then she only picked me because she knew she had too. I wasn't the last, but I surely wasn't the first. I wasn't ever made to feel special, strong, smart, or needed. I was just there.

Today people will describe me as confident, full of life, an extrovert. They will tell you I'm loving, guarded, and full of passion. They will also tell you I am deeply in love with Jesus. Someone asked me once if I always had these traits, I laughed and said absolutely not. I'm not who I was, as the song goes, and yet that girl from high school, she's still in there. Paul did not forget who he was, neither will I.

At the end of last school year, Kaitlyn had to try out for cheerleading again. She had such confidence, such belief in herself. I asked her where that came from and she said "you" in that tone of why are you asking such a stupid question. Kaity has qualities I only found into my 30's. I've taught her to believe in herself, but I'm not the reason she's the young woman she is. God speaks to her heart, reminds her that He loves her, Kaity sees herself as the beauty she is and she BELIEVES it.

I am confident...most of the time. I am all of those qualities I mentioned...most of the time. But there are times, that can last for weeks honestly, all of the old ones come back. I start thinking about things I should have done, could have done, wanted to do. Things I knew better than doing, caved to, and moments I let slip away. I even look back to high school and think "why didn't I speak up, try harder, risk more?" And then...Jesus shows up, meets me on the road, to show me today's light. This morning, Erica was sitting at the counter eating while I was making her lunch and she said "you're the bestest Mom, I'm so happy to be with you"....ah, reality. Truth. Light.

We are all sinners, we all suck on a daily basis...some days are worse than others. We were all created by God, for God, to be with God. Sucky moments and all. I could have done a lot of things, but I didn't. Paul could have chosen to take a different career path, but he didn't. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -- of whom I am the worst. (1Timothy 1:15) I BELIEVE that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I was raised to be a very independent woman, one that can handle herself and not depend on anyone especially a man. "At the end of the day you're all you got Carla"; a phrase I heard often as a child. Today I have to remind myself that I rely on God not me. Today I'm trying to find balance between being independent and saying I need you.

As a single mom there are a lot of things that I must do alone, endure alone. When you're married and you find a dead mouse you can go get your husband to remove it; today as I moved the trash can to curb I uncovered a dead mouse. "Just great" was the thought that went through my head and then "today would be a great day for you to send me a husband" followed....then I just sighed and kicked into the bush as a chill went down my back.

As independent as I am, there is still this part of me that's very traditional, very much wants to depend on a man. Cleaning the garage and doing yard work would fall under that "I need you" part. I'm not suppose to be cleaning the garage, seeing all the stupid mouse poop everywhere. I'm not suppose to be trying to cut down limbs and weed against the fence without actually touching the fence. Yet, that's what is on the list for today and then finish up on Saturday. Sure I could call people and say would you come help me but I'd rather have that husband that just does it cause it needs to be done. That husband that works alongside me and then at the end of the day we sit outside and marvel over all we've gotten accomplished.

I am independent, but I need you. I am fully capable of doing it on my own, but I'll enjoy doing it alongside you. I won't ask for help, but I'll gladly welcome you're hands around mine to open the pickle jar. Independence is good, it's healthy. But at the end of the day I don't want to just have me and frankly God doesn't either...after all the story goes "Adam AND Eve..."

But today, today I am single. Today I will roar my woman who needs no one battle cry and today I will clean up that stupid garage, then sit on the deck and pray I don't have to do it again. And that's ALL ok.

Till next time...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


After Adam and Eve ate the apple the very next sentence in the bible is "and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness" (Gen 3:5). Today I had an interesting conversation with a friend who struggles with body image, much in the same way I do just for different reasons. We both however have realized that when we lose weight we suddenly feel exposed, "naked" really.

I went to the store shortly after this encounter and it seemed as if everyone was looking at me, staring at my body, all eyes were where they should not be. I walked through the store but wanted to run, I smiled politely but wanted to scream stop looking at me! By the time I got home I was emotionally exhausted.

There is something deep inside every woman that will never leave, no matter what she does...a feeling of exposure. We hide behind weight, muscle, relationships, aloneness, books, travel, jobs, children, church...I could keep going. Eve hid behind a fig leaf and then when God came into the garden she hid behind a bush. Eve hid because she suddenly felt exposed which brought shame and guilt. And we, my girlfriends, are no different than Eve.

I'm beginning to think our fear of exposure will never go away, it's part of living this side of heaven therefore instead of ignoring it or fighting it (cause for me at least neither are working very well) we should look at plan C...surrendering it. This is a prayer I've only half prayed to God because to be totally honest I'm not ready to face it head on. My body is the last of a particular healing season I need to address and frankly I know it'll be hard and I just don't want to. I attempt to "get healthy" in many ways only to cave and withdraw back into what brings me comfort..a few extra pounds (my fig leaf).

Surrender is hard. Surrender is scary. Surrender is necessary. Lord, please give me the courage needed to surrender my fig leaf to you, to risk the feeling of being exposed, to lay down my methods of maintaining control. I want to. I'm just afraid, I've had it for so long. Protect me from myself and help me feel the way You feel.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The other day I started to clean my bedroom, it shouldn't take long..that was my thinking...two days later I was still cleaning. Why? Because I kept getting distracted. I'd find something that belonged someplace else, say the bathroom, so I'd walk into the bathroom and then see it needed cleaned so I'd start cleaning the bathroom, forgetting I needed to return to my bedroom. On and on this went and by the end of the first day my house was a disaster because I'd started projects in literally every room. Distraction.

Today is my day to devote to the ministry. Time to write, work on letters that need to go out, and a whole host of other items. I've decided to devote Tuesday's to the ministry, I'm trying to get a schedule figured out, and yet I found myself distracted with other things around me. The yard isn't finished (she needs a LOT of work though), dishes need done, laundry needs put away, and I've yet to get to the trail. My mind keeps wandering too. Distraction.

I have bipolar and some of my distraction simply comes from that, yet some of it is just life (we all struggle with distraction to some degree). Yet both of those are merely excuses to hide behind. We forget something only because we didn't take the time to allow it to become important to us (do we ever forget when the Colts play?); we get distracted only because we haven't learned how to focus our minds, center our souls. We haven't learned to say no to ourselves.

My challenge for the day, saying no to myself and yes to my list. Sticking to the task I'm on till it's done, fully being present in the moment I'm in, and giving my complete attention till the next moment comes. Let the challenge begin...

Till next time....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To enter...

Outside the fence, that's where you are. We talk, we laugh, but still you remain outside the fence. It is right, just not easy.

Surely you see behind me, the friends walking around inside the gate. Surely you see the love in my eyes, know that I am able to give it, just not willing in the way you call.

The castle is large, there is room inside. People will enter, few will remain. For where there is a front gate, a back gate beckons. The walls are cracked, willing an entrance.

Will you enter? Will you remain? Outside the fence you look with questions in your eyes, I hear you. I see you. I will not look away.

Remember the fence is protection, not an invitation. The castle is a heart, not a destination. I love you, just across the fence because today that is what is right, not what is easy.

till next time...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

whispered prayers

Today I am home with a sick 7 year old, my heart broke for her all through the night as I watched her little body get sick over and over. She would fall into me, completely exhausted from the moment, knowing another was around the corner. I looked into her eyes, as she lay in my bed, and whispered prayers to God the Healer over and over.

When I shared with the kids the loss of my job and starting this ministry, Tyler asked "what should we be praying about Mom" to which Erica piped up and said "I want to pray that you can stay home so I can ride the bus home." We all laughed, but I told her to pray for that if that's what is on her heart. Yesterday was her first day of riding the bus home...ever. The bounce in her step was adorable and as I watched her walking up the driveway I noticed there was a bounce in my step as well. I whispered prayers to God the provider as I embraced her hug and saw the joy in her face.

Tonight is small group, it's truly an honor to sit among these women, to be welcomed into their hearts, their thoughts, their journey. I learn so much from them. As I prepare for the nights lesson, as I prepare for whatever it is God would like to do tonight, I whisper prayers to God the Counselor.

It would behoove us all to learn all the names to which God refers to himself...maybe it'll make talking to Him less intimidating and hearing Him less complicated.

Till next time...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What a summer...

My kids have gone back to school officially today and I am left to reflect on the summer, it's been a whirlwind to say the least.

The summer started with me being fired for the first time ever and starting a new ministry all in the same week; I should have known that was going to set the pace for the summer. One week later I went on a five day, nearly 2000 mile, vacation with my "Charlie Brown" and laughed till I thought my stomach would permanently cramp. That trip was about sheer fun and fun we had. He's truly a friend to me and I'll forever be grateful for the memories we created over those five days.

Tyler and Kaitlyn went to New York with their grandparents, Tyler went to his first high school church camp, Kaitlyn had a full time job babysitting, all three spent a week with my mom at the lake, Erica went to Ohio for a week (first time she's been away from me for that long)and all in all my kids were gone more than they were home this summer. I'm grateful for cell phones, texting, and being able to send pics to one another.

I've gotten to see six or seven country bands this summer, grown very close with "nest", traveled to Put n Bay, took in a drag race, spent time at the lake with my kids, hung out with family, slept in, started running again, wrestled with God, battled Satan, started working part time for my church, and not only spoke at churches but have clearly seen the hand of God in Vulnerability Ministries. God has shown up out loud and outrageous...an answer to prayer.

I think we as Christians assume that in order to truly follow Christ we're only going to have hardship, we're only going to struggle, and we're going to feel the full weight of "carrying our cross". We couldn't be further from the heart of God...I shared a recap of my summer not so you can say "good for you", I share because I want people to see that God not only calls us to do things that may seem impossible (uh starting a ministry full time while still needing to feed three kids seems pretty impossible to me), but He calls us to live abundantly. This summer is proof of that, but this summer has also had its share of tears, heartache, and doubt. I've had many nights that I slept only a few hours, many conversations with friends about what to do next, and I've sat in my home alone more nights than I care to admit crying because I'm scared to death of what God's calling me to do.

Today as I reflect on the summer and all that has happened it's so clear to me, God is both...He calls us to push beyond the comfortable AND He reigns blessings all over us. Yes I'm starting a ministry, yes I'm unsure how the bills will be paid and yes I'm positive God is saying I'll take care of it, please enjoy this life I'm giving you.

Take time to reflect on your summer so you can say "ah, I SEE God right there, in that moment too!"

Till next time...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A day of rest

A few years ago I learned what the Sabbath really is, what it was meant for, and I started putting it into practice. I talked with the kids, announcing that Sunday's is our day off. There will be no cooking, cleaning, or anything that is deemed work; we will instead enjoy ourselves, rest, and just be. The other day I realized I've let us get away from that, it's been a long time to be honest.

I've been focusing the past several days on ways I can instill boundaries that will keep me from running empty and the Sabbath Day has been at the forefront of that thinking. I don't think God cares which day it is, that's why He didn't call it The Sunday, He called it the Sabbath Day. He's saying pick a day, I don't care which, but be sure and pick a day. I've gone from never having a true day of rest, to having it, back to not having it. I fully understand the value in it; don't fully understand how it works (sorta like tithing) just know it does.

So, I'm gonna spend the day today praying about which day will become our Sabbath, as a family, and put that boundary back into place. Yay!

Till next time...

Friday, August 13, 2010

What I need...

So, I've been trying for awhile now to get better about being healthy. In all areas of my life. I have started exercising and eating better. I've started being conscience about what I do to my body. The other day I went to the store and bought flavored cream for my coffee, something I've not done in nearly two months. I took my first sip this morning and literally said out loud "that's exactly what I need!"

I had breakfast yesterday with a good friend, another mentor really, and we talked about healthy boundaries. I told her I need to put some in place so I don't get depleted like I have over the last two weeks. I was emotionally spent which lead to physically spent and then mentally spent. I had nothing left to give. Breakfast with her helped bring me back, refuel me, and I left saying "that's exactly what I need!"

This morning I woke up feeling myself again. So, today I shall contemplate on how I can keep from becoming empty again, yet fully give of myself to those who need me. It's all about healthy boundaries, learning to say no, remembering to take "me" time, and above all remembering who's in charge....yes, "that's exactly what I need!"

Till next time....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My idol

I wanted to run today, I ended up walking. Just couldn't get my body going fast enough. My time was longer than normal, though I never checked my watch until I was finished. I could just feel it inside, I knew I was moving slower. There are days when my mind is the only thing moving fast; it's gonna be one of those days.

Life is spinning around me right now, different topics, different people, different emotions, all spinning at once. I fell asleep last night talking with God, I continued that conversation on the trail. As I passed different people, some I see each day, I wondered what their story was; do they feel life is spinning to fast too? I was deep in thought, listening to music, as I passed each person, smiling and giving a wave; only to return to my wandering mind. Then a song came on that said "we lift up our idols" and it all made sense.

My idol today is control. I have friends that are hurting, family that is struggling, bills to be paid, a ministry to grow, school to start, kids to get organized so they can be successful in school, a house to clean, a book to write, emails to reply, and and and and and......and at the center as Jesus that keeps whispering just be with Me. I hear Him, I answer back "I will, I promise, I've got to do this one thing first". I fear that if I don't, the bottom will fall through.

My idol has caused me to be emotionally drained and now physically worn out. And Jesus is still there, whispering my name. So, today as I walked instead of ran, I cried and asked for forgiveness. My idol, for a brief moment, was the center. I still have that stuff swirling around, because it's all real and part of life; but it's not the center of my life and none of it depends on me...none of it. God is in control of my family, I've prayed for those I love, and I trust Him to show me how to get it all accomplished in order to bring Him glory.

At the end of my walk, I paused, took a deep breath and said "thank you for loving me enough".

Till next time...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Being thankful

I've been through a lot of crap in my life, the kind that when you look back you wonder how on earth did I ever survive that and why am I so happy now? To be around me very long these days is to hear me say things like "it's good to be me", "my life totally rocks", "I love being 34", "it's gettin better all the time"! But I wasn't always that way.

I remember watching Oprah one day, years ago, and she was encouraging everyone to have a gratitude journal. I remember her saying to write five things you're thankful for each day; as I listened to her, saw her excitement, all I could think was how am I going to come up with FIVE?? Then she said, "if you're struggling with this, be thankful your breathing". If you look at my journal from that time frame, you'll see entries where I literally wrote five times I'm thankful I'm breathing. And then you'll find some entries that I couldn't even say that because I wasn't sure I was thankful for that.

Slowly, over time, those entries started to change. I was thankful for a card my kids gave me, I was thankful for the storm that passed through the night, I was thankful for coffee. It's a matter of perspective, I love my life simply because I started to focus on the joys I have, the blessings God has given me, the promise of tomorrow. Trials will forever be...and so will joy! And THAT is something to be thankful for!!

Today, I'm thankful for...

My kids all being home
A gift from a good friend
Seeing the heart of someone I love begin to thaw to the touch of God
Vulnerability Ministries
Healthy boundaries

How about you? What are you thankful for? It's ok if you start with breathing. ;)

Till next time...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

the journey

I love to journal. I've done it most of my life, actually I can't remember not journaling. Today I opened my journal at random and started reading. Some of what I read made me smile; some of what I read made me cry. Journaling is the capturing of my soul in black and white, seeing my heart through my penmanship. I was reminded of how far I've come and how far I've yet to go.

I've started reading a book, not for small group, just for me. Every Woman's Battle. Three chapters into it my eyes have been opened in ways I didn't expect. I'm learning what true balance is, what true integrity is; I'm also learning I've come a long way and have a long way to go.

When Moses led the Israliets out of captivity and they came to the Red Sea, they only had two options. Go forward, into the sea which they thought they'd surely die or, go back to the land that held them captive where they'd surely die. Looking back they saw the distance they'd traveled and were reminded of how far they'd come, yet looking ahead they saw water that reminded them of how far they'd yet to go.

In this life we will never be fully where we feel we need to be; on this side of heaven we will always fall short of the target. It's so easy to get discouraged, to feel like you're just spinning your wheels. It's so easy to want to give up and go "back"...going "back" is at least something you "know". But as I was reading my journal today I was reminded of all that God has done in my life, all the times I know in my heart I felt Him, heard Him, saw Him. Going back is pointless, it already happened. Going forward, well, there's a whole lot of God up ahead waiting on me to discover! I've got a long way to go, but oh the fun we will have. I've come a long way, but oh the love I have felt.

till next time....

Monday, August 2, 2010


Remember who you are. Remember why you are here. Remember who I am. Remember....that was the theme for me very early Friday morning. Last week was a long week for me, a struggle in many ways. I've come to recognize the pattern and expect the highs as well as the lows; no life is ever smooth sailing for long. When the storm comes, regardless of the intensity of it, I for a moment forget. I forget what Truth says, I forget what my heart says, I forget what lies ahead of me. I take my eyes off my center and focus on the outer part...that part I don't have...and the low sets in.

God is love, joy, peace, forgiveness, and grace. When I lose sight of what matters He wakes me with whispers of remember...remember..remember. THAT is unconditional love my sweet friend and it ONLY comes from the One who created us. While my eyes are focused in the wrong places, while my heart is hurting and no one can seem to make it better, while my tears are falling and I wonder if this moment will ever end, God is right beside me saying "I'm here, remember".

The lows will still come, as will the highs, and God will always be faithful in reminding me who I am, who I belong to, what truly matters. God will always help me refocus, recenter, and remember...and that goes for you too!! :)

Till next time....