Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teen Mom (Part 1)

I met him when I was a junior in high school. Our first date was prom. He was a senior. I remember when I found out he ran every night after school through his addition I just had to take up the same; I didn't see it as stalking, more just like melting as he'd pass by me. He was SO good looking. I felt like the most important woman in the world when he asked me to prom.

One year later I became pregnant. Our relationship wasn't the greatest but we didn't care, we loved each other and I was determined to not let my child grow up like I did, in a divorced home. We married when our son was 13 months old. Two months later we became pregnant again. We didn't care care that we were broke or that we fought all the time or even the fact that our son was still so young, we had a family and that's what mattered.

Today I am 35 years old. I have three kids. My first marriage ended after four years; I married again and had my third child but that marriage ended after only two years. I have done the very thing I swore I would never do, I have put my children through the childhood I experienced of going back and forth between homes because our home broke in half...twice.

I didn't become a Christian until the age of 27 and frankly until then I didn't understand what all the hype was about on not having sex before marriage. I also didn't fully understand the ramifications of divorce or why God says you shouldn't. Up to that point, honestly even after I started going to church, I lived for me. If I wanted it I took it. If it felt good I did it. I always justified it somehow, but the motive was always the same...it pleased ME.

For the past 16 years we have struggled financially, emotionally. I was trying to find who I was while having to be for someone else. When others were off to college creating memories I was changing dirty diapers and trying to cook something edible. Sure I was creating memories but most of them revolved around tears. I simply was not ready to be a mother or a wife...I was just desperate for someone to love me.

I know some that have become teen moms and are doing very well. Life is a little more difficult for them, but overall they have a good handle on things. But I know more teen moms that have walked the same path as me. So, I've decided to write a few pieces about my life as a teen mom, a divorced mom, a 35 year old mom, a Christian mom solely because I'm hoping those that aren't yet moms will take my story to heart and those that already are will know they are not alone and regardless of their circumstance (happy or miserable) they have a friend that gets it.

See you back here tomorrow for Part 2.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Throwing Stones

Last year was a year of clarity for me. Clarity rolled over me like waves; at times I couldn't catch my breath. Clarity is a good thing though; I do not regret asking for it nor do I believe I'm done receiving it.

I prayed a lot about what to make this year. At first I said I wanted it to be a year of financial prosperity. I quickly shifted to abundance thinking that sounded more acceptable. God showed me neither were ok simply because of my motive. I wanted that out of selfish motive, out of lack of trust in Him, out of frustration.

"Fine", I said one night driving home, "have it your way; what would you like this year to be?" The image that crossed my mind was throwing stones followed by thinking about David killing the giant with a sling and five stones. I wondered if David was shaking on the inside even though he was confident on the out. I wondered if he was sweating as he hurled those stones; did he worry he would miss. I also wondered how freeing it felt for David to stand next to a giant and know that his God would prevail..."I want that kind of faith Lord"...those words left my mouth without me even realizing it. In that moment was my true heart. In that moment was God's true voice.

So, it's a year of throwing stones. I've come to realize it means two things really...I will be going up against my own giants in awesome ways of triumph but I will also be throwing away stones that are inside me that keep me from having that large faith, the faith it takes to pick up five rocks and march in and look a giant in the eye and say ..."to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands." 1 Samuel 17.

Nothing in that moment was about David. And I want nothing in my moments of facing giants to be about me. David believed God would show up. I want to believe God will show up. David did his part. I want to do my part.

Let the stone throwing begin....

Lack of Sleep

Psalm 105:4 Seek the Lord and the strength he gives!Seek his presence continually!

My sleep seems to run in cycles. I have moments of relief, sleeping all night and waking feeling well rested. I have other moments of sleeping just a few short hours each night, waking to feel as if I'd never gone to bed. Sometimes I fall asleep at 9pm, other times I am up until 2am. Sleep rarely seems to be consistent and I scarcely feel full of energy.

I have always blamed it on stress. When I'm most stressed is when I sleep the less. Seems logical to me. The past month I've slept very little; the past week I've slept even less. I'm stressed. A doctor once told me when I talked with him about my sleep issue "just lessen your stress". I couldn't help but laugh. Friends tell me "take this medicine, it helps". I can't help but feel that's not natural.

This morning, in my research for a different topic I came across Psalm 105:4. What I realized is that I'm seeking His strength because I'm exhausted and need an extra does of umph; but I don't believe that's what this verse means.

To seek Him continually doesn't mean look around and keep looking like a game of hide and seek; to seek the Lord continually means in everything I do God leads, in every word I say God speaks through me, in every decision I make God is the center. Seek means to keep Him at the center of my being. When I feel depleted it's not because God has left me, it's because I have taken over and said "that's ok, I got this". I fool myself into thinking I can do it. And then, I wake up one day and realize I'm running on fumes and those are about gone.

So, are you in the "lack of sleep" boat with me? If so, let me ask you a few questions that have been laid on my heart for my own situation....

How often are you seeking God? Is it continually? Are you giving all of your life to God or just parts? Are you praying half-hearted? Are you confessing your sins at night before shutting your eyes/talking with God at the end of your day to reflect on the day? Are you thanking God for what you do have? Do you seek God just to be in His presence or because you need something? When you pray do you have moments of silent so you can just listen or are you always talking? Do you read your bible to learn or to say you read it?

Reflect on these questions, be honest with yourself and God, then seek to make the necessary corrections so that together we can get out of that "lack of sleep" boat and be fully energized with His strength to do all that we know in our heart He longs for us to do!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brave and Courageous

I am to the point of having nothing left inside me...I recall not to long ago praying that I be empty of myself so I can be full of Christ...this isn't really what I had in mind. But, here I am, empty with nothing left to give, nothing left to do, nothing except wait on God. Psalm 27:14 "Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD." Brave and courageous. Two words people have used to describe me; two words I don't really feel I am. I also don't really do well at waiting patiently.

I am left with two choices, I either believe God's word or I don't. All of life decisions in my opinion come down to these two options, is or is not. Once again I'm standing in the road staring at the fork, the point where I must choose which path to take; I either follow the path of faith and wait on the Lord or I follow the path of me and hope I can somehow fix this mess we're in. If I draw upon past experience, which honestly is the only thing we have to draw upon, then I know the "me" path never works out well. I also know the "God" path tends to work out better than I expected and in ways I didn't foresee.

So where does brave and courageous come into play? Does it require bravery to choose to walk in faith? Does it require courage to sit and wait on the Lord? I have had countless moments the past few years of shouting that I will not give up, I will endure, I will choose to trust God to prevail. Sometimes those shouts are with a full heart of belief and other times it's truly only a muster-seed of faith that I cling too with all that I am. Is the later of bravery and courage?

Choose this day whom you shall serve....for me this day can sometimes lead to this hour. And in this hour this is my choice.....I choose to admit I am walking only on the faith that is within me, I am choosing to trust in a God I cannot touch, a faith a I cannot see, and a Lord I cannot have hold me and tell me it's all going to be ok. I am choosing to wait on Him, but I am not waiting by doing nothing for I do not believe that is of bravery and courage. I am putting together my "army", preparing for battle, and falling to my knees with the full weight of hearing "Fear not for I am with you".

Waiting on the Lord does not mean wait for him to show up...Fear not for I am WITH you...I walk with courage and I stand with bravery because my God is with me. I'm simply waiting on Him to shed light on my next step on this path of faith.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So Unworthy

I was talking with a friend the other day about why it's hard for me to take compliments from others, especially when it's with regards to my relationship with God..."you have amazing faith", "I wish God used me like He uses you", "I wish I had your confidence"...if they only knew.

If you only knew how many times a day I say to God "really? me?"
If you only knew how many times I tell God I don't want to do "it" any more.
If you only knew how many times I remind him of the junk I've done in my past, the past includes an hour ago.
If you only knew how many times I yell at my kids, ignore a phone call, sleep time away.
If you only knew how many nights I cry myself to sleep because of unanswered prayers.
If you only knew...

Here's the thing friends, you might not know all the thoughts I have, the feelings I struggle with but God certainly does. The way I see it I have two choices, I can either wallow in the "I'm not worthy" thinking or I can say "I'm not worthy but I accept Your love".

Mark 2:17 Jesus said "I did not come for the righteous but for the sinners" and my friends WE are the sinners.

I've yet to meet a person that feels DESERVING of God's love. I've yet to meet a person that will stand on a stage and tell you they don't struggle with the if only's. Actually, what I find, when people are honest is a common theme of feeling so unworthy.

I am Carla. A woman who got pregnant twice out of marriage, has two divorces under my belt, yells when I should listen, worries when I should pray, breaks the speed limit, drinks beer and wine, eats more than I should, is flat broke, AND I am a woman who chases God with relentless devotion, isn't afraid to say when I feel God has spoken to me, stands up for what I believe in, and refuses to back down to Satan. I am Carla...a beautiful messed up woman that God says is completely worthy.

And so are you.

"...choose this day whom you will serve" my friends, will you continue to serve the "I'm not worthy" swirling inside you or will you stand up and serve the God that says you are absolutely worthy?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When Jesus Returns

I have been know to shout out loud "Feel free to come back any time now!"....there are times when I feel enough is enough, it's time for Jesus to return. There are also times I'd like for Him to return simply because I'm tired of doing this life, I'm ready to be in heaven.

This morning in my surfing on Facebook I came across a comment by a teen "I don't pray"...I just sat there, starring at those three words. I use to be that kid, that person. I didn't pray. I didn't give God or Jesus much thought at all. Now I can't function without Him.

If you are a Christian, if you have told God you are sorry for the sins you've committed and asked for Jesus to lead your life, then I'm sure you've had moments like I have, telling God "any time now would be nice"....God has loudly whispered to me today....I know, but I want "him/her" too....

Today, instead of focusing on ourselves and our needs let's shift our focus to those that "don't pray"....as one who has been there I can tell you there is always a reason WHY someone is against praying. Yes I'd like for Jesus to return today, but not if it means leaving someone behind simply because they weren't ready....I'm so thankful God loves me AND loves "I don't pray".