Monday, October 3, 2011

"Don't you people know by now I can do anything!" Lucy Liu's character on Ally McBeal

Those who know me well know that I can pretty much do anything! It’s comical, really.  It stems from a deep seeded curiosity rather than a “know-it-all” personality and more times than not, it’s come from pure stubbornness.  Don’t get me wrong! I am a southern woman through and through! I love chivalry! I desire chivalry.  It just boils down to this:
Curiosity + Stubbornness + Severe Lack of Patience = The ability to do pretty much anything
When you add the fact that my personality calls for perfection (from myself. Not from others) the end product is pretty successful.  Just don’t factor me in with that equation. I usually come out looking like I just stepped of the battle field but at the same time, I absolutely LOVE knowledge and creativity so to me, it’s all worth it in the end!
So, why not just ask for help??? The same equation applies with a remainder of PRIDE. I DO ask for help on occasion.  Granted the help I ask for is usually to gain more knowledge in my quest to conquer a certain task, but asked all the same. 
I can paint houses, paint murals, tile floors, tile counter tops, build kitchen islands, crochet: hats, scarves, and blankets, hand sew quilts, make elaborate costumes, make knock-off dresses (GREAT skill when you love fashion like I do but SO don’t have the wallet to match!), plant a garden, fix a lawn mower (without the manual), restore antique furniture, wallpaper a room, reupholster furniture, run cable through a house, decorate a house, hang crown molding, any type of craft known to man, change a tire, jump off a car, cross-stitch, make jewelry, cook like Paula Deen, cut hair, color hair, theatrical make-up, create an entire solar system in a 7 year old little boy’s bedroom, and I can even field dress a deer!
I’m sure there are more. Those just popped in my head. Pretty impressive, hu?
Don’t be too impressed.  I often forget the fine print at the end of my “impressive” equation.

Curiosity + Stubbornness + Severe Lack of Patience = The ability to do pretty much anything including forgetting where my strength comes from.

So often I rely on my OWN strength instead of relying on the One whose strength never tires or grows weary.  In the end, my strength is always a total EPIC FAIL.
BUT GOD… He always has a way of letting us know who is stronger! And I LOVE when He does that!
I mentioned in a previous blog that my ex-husband was taking me back to court to have child support lowered. We finally had “our day in court”.  For four years, I have struggled with the feelings and emotions of what this man did to me and my babies, took from me and my babies, STOLE from me and my babies. I’ve cried a sea of tears! I’ve been to the foot of the cross a thousand times laying it ALL down and begging God to help me NOT pick it back up.  I’ve forgiven way more than 70x7 times!
 I prayed and prayed for this man’s heart to be turned back to his children!
As I watched his life over the past four years from the banks of my own reality, all I could see was him getting everything he desired.  He had freedom, a new house, a new car, a new wife… a new life.  I watched as everyone around him adored him, even in knowing what he had done.  He was defended and praised while the lies he told about me were believed.  My friends and family would tell me things like, “Don’t worry about it! If they really knew you….” Or “If they were really your friends...” or “You shouldn’t care about what he says or what they think!” I just wanted a voice that could be heard!  Nothing I ever said would penetrate the hands of the enemy that covered my ex-husband’s ears so firmly.   
A few weeks before our court date, I truly gave the situation to God.  I had no idea how I would manage financially if the judge granted the reduction in child support but I DID know that God promised to supply all of our needs regardless. 
My mother and I decided to go out for breakfast before our appointed time in front of the judge.  I felt good.  Confident.  Having my momma there helped a lot! But of course the enemy wanted to destroy any ounce of confidence I had.  My attorney called just as I added butter to my grits and I no longer had an appetite.  My heart fell.  I knew he was about to reveal the “wrench”. 
He said that he just got off the phone with my ex’s attorney and they wanted to “work out a deal”.  Here we go again.  Since the divorce was final, I had to have my lawyer (my late step father) threaten court several times to get him pay what he was court-ordered to pay.  I always compromised in fear of getting less or having something else taken away.  I even agreed to him paying me ½ the alimony and eventually gave in to him not having to pay it at all (that was my stubborn pride shining through).  
I sat and listened to my attorney as he explained how they wanted my ex to pay me nearly ½ of what he was currently paying and he would “let” me claim 2 of our 4 children on my taxes. My ears began ringing with my God shall supply all my needs and for a split second I actually contemplated the “deal” until the Holy Spirit smacked me upside the head!  And in doing so, filled my ears with sweet beautiful ballads of promise from my Father!

I explained to my attorney that I had given this to the Father and I was NOT going to pick it back up.  If child support was going to be reduced, it would have to be court-ordered by the judge.  He explained to me that there was a possibility of getting less than what my ex was offering and I in turn explained to him that WHATEVER the judge decided would be from the Lord. I knew that the judge, the case, the entire circumstance was saturated in the prayers of SO many! HIS will WOULD be done!
Not accepting the deal meant we would technically go to trial.  This meant getting on the stand! I was nervous and excited at the same time! In my quest and stubbornness to know all things, I am confident and convinced that I could have tried this case myself. J The fact that I love courtroom thrillers and watch Nancy Grace fueled my desire for justice!  I watched my ex fidget on the stand as my attorney asked him question after question  regarding the gross lack of time spent with the kids, how much money he made, how much money his current wife makes, how much money he spends on daycare for the twins he and his wife had last year, and if he realized that he was asking the court to allow him to pay LESS for the support and care for FOUR children than what he paid out in childcare ALONE for his two “new” children.  When my ex shrugged his shoulders and answered, “I really don’t know how to answer that”, it honestly took every fiber of my being along with the Army of Heavenly angels that were assigned to me that day to stop me from jumping up and yelling, “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” <much laughter>
Thank you, God for GRACE and MERCY!
You may have laughed at my “courtroom thrillers and Nancy Grace” comment, but my stellar performance on that stand would have made Jack Nicholson not only confess to ordering the CODE RED, he would have been crying like a lost school girl!  I SCHOOLED my ex’s lawyer! At one point the judge stopped my ex’s lawyer mid-sentence and asked, “Counselor, is there a question there somewhere?” to which he responded, “I apologize, your honor. I was trying to answer her question.”
Who is cross examining whom?
 I promise, I tried to just stay focused on several scriptures I stored in my heart to help me through the proceedings… but the more that attorney asked me stupid questions like Why didn’t I just get another job if I need the money so bad, the more I focused on the fact that he was wearing braces… and for some reason those braces infuriated me!  Lord have mercy (and thank goodness He did!) I wanted leap across the rails of that stand and strangle that man with the wire that held his braces together when he asked me, “Well… have you TOLD Mr. XXXXX that he hasn’t been a very good father?”  I sat there for a minute while my raging psychotic insides calmed down enough to somewhat resemble the well-groomed and well-mannered southern lady who sat before this respected court of law.  The dialogue went something like this:
ME: I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize it was my job to make sure Mr. XXXX was being a good parent.  After all, no one is there to remind me to do my job as a mother. I JUST DO IT.  But to answer your question, yes. I’ve actually begged him to be a father to our children.  Not even a good father, just a father period!
Braces: You said that Mr. XXXX is supposed to get the kids every Tuesday for the evening but has never done that. You also stated that it takes an hour and a half from his house to yours. If Mr. XXXX doesn’t get off of work until 6:30 that would mean he wouldn’t get to your house until at LEAST 8:00 and by the time he took them to dinner or wherever, it would be near 10:00! Now… being the good mother that you are claiming to be, would you want your children out that late on a school night?  Furthermore do you really expect Mr. XXXX to drive close to 3 hours round trip for an hour visit especially with gas prices and the economy the way it is?
ME: (fighting back the flesh!) First of all, I AM a good mother.  Don’t ever question that. Second of all, driving to see his children isn’t asking too much.  It’s the same as me having to drive 3 or more hours round trip to watch my child play a baseball game.  It’s what we do as parents.  And no, I would not allow him to have the children out past their bedtime on school nights. I would however expect him to get off work early at least ONE day a MONTH to come spend time with his children.
Braces: OH! And it’s just SO easy for Mr. XXXX to take off of work early???
ME: Apparently.  He takes off early all the time for Georgia football games, Braves baseball games, concerts, vacations WITHOUT the children…
No further questions

Okay, so I walked way more in the flesh than I did in the spirit while on that stand but I have to admit, having a voice felt great! But nowhere near as wonderful as the sound of my Father’s love as He answered prayer after prayer through the Judge’s verdict.  As loud and strong as I thought my voice had been as I defended myself, my name, my honor, my children on that stand, it was truly no louder than the sound of still water when it was MY FATHER, MY JUDGE, MY REDEEMER’s turn to speak!
As the judge began his verdict, so my Father began to speak His, in a voice so powerful that our ears would ring deaf and our souls were forced to listen. And as He spoke, the chains began to fall to the ground and I was no longer bound by the hurt of my past.
Judge: (as best as I remember) Mr. XXXX, I believe that you are a good man. I don’t believe that you are an evil person.  You have made some very poor decisions the past several years that I can’t imagine you would be proud of.  Your yearly family income is $180,000.  If you are having financial difficulties, I can assure you it has nothing to do with your child support obligations.  You need to reevaluate your priorities.  (Pointing to me) THAT is your FIRST priority.  Not your nice big house, not your new cars, not your new wife, and not even the two children that you have had since. (Pointing to me again) THAT is your first priority.  Do you realize that every time you skip time with your children, not only are you hurting your children, SHE doesn’t get a break! She also has to feed them and take care of them on YOUR time which means more money for her to spend out.  I am not lowering child support.  I can’t order you to see your children Mr. XXXX.  But I do STRONGLY encourage you to reprioritize your life.
In that moment, the weight of the past four years was lifted off of my shoulders!  I INSTATNTLY felt peace.  As much as I love words, I can’t even begin to express the sudden healing and transformation of my heart and mind.  Every ounce of bitterness and hurt was gone. GONE. Oh, HAPPY DAY! I sat in awe at the power of my God.  I looked over at my ex and he looked different to me.  There was no anger seeping from his pores, his jaw wasn’t clinched tight liked it normally does in those type of circumstances.  I smiled knowing that whatever demons had accompanied him or anyone else into the courtroom that day, were cast straight back to hell the instant My Father showed up!

Don’t you people know by now, I can do ANYTHING?!?!

It’s been a month since that day in court.  My relationship with my ex is eerily pleasant.  He has made a HUGE effort in his relationship with the kids.  He hasn’t been ugly or disrespectful to me at all! It’s amazing!  I can think back on the past four years and there truly is no bitterness, no hurt, and no anger.
But really, why are we surprised???  Shouldn’t we know by now that HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS!
I may be able to do a lot of things:
 (Curiosity + Stubbornness + Severe Lack of Patience = The ability to do pretty much anything)
When I change my equation:
(GOD – flesh + GRACE – doubt + FAITH = MIRACLES)
I definitely like that outcome MUCH better!!!
Be BLESSED and don’t forget to be a blessing!!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

You Think I Have it All Together??? Me??? REALLY?!?!

Someone once asked me what the hardest part of being a single mother was.  As I contemplated her question, the song “God Give Me Strength” rang in my ears as a montage of my daily existence played in my head.  Was it trying to figure out how to be four places at once? Was it having to choose one child’s performance over another because I failed at being four places at once? Was it the mess that I walked over again and again because we would be late for someone's something if I took 5 seconds to pick it up?  Maybe it’s facing seemingly impossible to answer questions like, “Why did daddy leave?” or “Why does daddy have a new wife? Weren’t you his wife first? That doesn’t seem fair.”  Maybe it’s having to crawl into an empty bed after a long day of work, cooking, cleaning, homework, baseball, baths, kisses goodnight… and cuddling up to the unused pillow next to me.  No, I think the hardest part of being a single mom is:
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

How am I supposed to direct them when I feel completely scattered? Notice there is no “Single Parent clause” in that verse. All rules apply.

Since the last time I blogged, my daughter has asked Jesus to come LIVE in her heart and be LORD of her life!  What a precious chapter written on the wall of my heart.  We had been talking about it for a while.  She crawled in my bed one night and confessed that she was afraid to make such an important commitment.  She knew in her heart that God was real, that Jesus is the living Son of God, and believed everything in scripture is true and God-breathed. She just wasn’t sure if “she was ready” and was struggling with how to figure that out.
Apparently (unbeknownst to me) she had wanted to ask Jesus into her heart several years ago and when she asked a church leader about it, she was told she wasn’t ready.  That seed of doubt had been growing inside my baby for about 4 years!  I wanted to ask her why she never talked to me about it but I didn’t want to add guilt to her list of emotions. Instead, we opened the Bible and began reading scripture. As we read, I prayed against the weeds of doubt that had taken hold of her heart.  She soon felt peace and told me she knew she was ready to ask Jesus into her heart so I held her as she closed her eyes and began talking to the Savior.  Her voice cracked and she began to cry as she told Jesus how sorry she was “for every sin and every time I made You sad” and I LOST IT! Her words broke me as the Holy Spirit poured over her. I watched as my little Sweet Pea transformed from a broken little bird into a new creation; made strong and mighty with a single breath of life!
She was four years old when we adopted her and in her first four years of life she had seen and endured more than most of us will face in a lifetime.  When my husband walked out, she is who I feared for the most yet she was the one who recovered the quickest.  She had been schooled in survival since the day she was born.  As my 10 year old daughter prayed, pouring her heart out to the Father, I realized just how much she had taught me about survival these past four years. I also realized that the major burden I carried for my daughter was the burden she, herself carried of a past life full of unspeakables.  BUT GOD…
As she nailed her past to the cross, I felt our shared burden be swept away by the strong yet gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit.  Now… tell me I don’t serve a MIGHTY God! 
That Sunday, our church had baptism at the river.  I watched from a padded pew as my two oldest sons were baptized and I was JUST as proud and filled with joy! But there was something about wading in the water with my child and rejoicing not only with our family and friends but with ALL of creation!  (see the pics at the end!)
I Chronicles 16:30‑34
  Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

My daughter’s salvation was wonderful news to everyone except my youngest child.  Not that he wasn’t happy for his sister! He was just devastated at the realization that salvation isn’t a birthright.  His 6 year old heart’s turmoil began a week before his sister asked Jesus into her heart.  It all started when I announced that Ava (their 7 year old friend who is really more like a cousin) had gotten “saved”.  His immediate response was panic.  “What?! Thaved (saved. He has a lisp J) from what??? Is she Okay?”
As I explained to him what I was talking about I truly expected him to immediately “get it".  Surely he understood salvation! His response wasn’t, “Oh, yeah. I misunderstood what you were saying, mom.”  Not even close! His response went something like this (with FULL emotion) “You mean I’m not thaved?!?!?! But I LOVE Jethuth! (look of sheer devastation on his beautiful little face) How can Jethuth NOT be in my heart when I love Him tho much!?”
In that moment I became convinced that my heart must be made of steel to survive yet another blow from the SMOF dagger! (Single Mother of Four dagger- moments that pierce my heart for my children and not having anyone (physically) to share the hemorrhage with. I KNOW the Lord is always with me. It’s one of those moments that can only truly be understood if you experience it and I pray no one has to!)
So, after two solid months of deep philosophical conversations with my now 7 year old I became convinced that he truly understood salvation (better than most! lol) and I told him that it was a decision that he must make on his own. It was a “big boy” decision and although I would walk beside him, I couldn’t take the steps for him.  And a few nights ago, he crawled in my bed and said that he was ready. I imagined the Lord laughing joyfully at my Love Bug’s precious prayer.  His personality was ALL over it! After saying “Amen”, he looked up at me with his big brown eyes and asked, “Am I real ChriTHtian now?” As I nodded and smiled, he jumped up, threw his hands in the air, let out a glorious belly giggle and shouted, “YES!”  Another new creation. My cup runneth over. J
All four of my babies have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Wouldn’t it be nice if that’s all there was to it for parents? “My child accepted Christ! My work is done!”  Sadly, I believe a lot of parents have that philosophy.  However, this is when the hard work begins!
Most of the time I feel like a complete failure.  I look at myself in the mirror, or at Mount St. Laundry, or I will hear child #3 say “shut up” to child #4, or look up at the spider monkeys which have taken up residency in the trees since my yard has become a jungle due to neglect and ask in utter bewilderment, “What, in the name of all that is holy, made You [God] think I could successfully handle being a single mother of four children??? And you are counting on ME to set them off in the way they should go???”
So far I don’t believe I’ve been given an answer. If He has answered, my flesh hasn’t allowed me to hear it.  One thing I do know, He has never failed me.  Just when I’m at that “last straw” moment, He sends drops of hope from Heaven to renew my faith and my strength.  For example, coming come to find that my children took it upon themselves to start the laundry or realizing I actually have a blocked amount of time FREE to do yard work.  Those droplets make it a joy to drag the spider monkeys out of the trees for bath time, transforming them back into the children I adore.  I hate when those precious moments start feeling like a chore.
But the BEST are the downpours! They come when I feel completely hopeless and question my very existence.  A few months ago I was served with papers stating that my ex-husband is taking me back to court to ask for a reduction in his child support payments.  I DO know that regardless, we WILL be taken care of because God promises us that!  However, the process of having to go over every single event of the past 4 years with a new lawyer stripped me.  The worst part was seeing the actual evidence in front of me.  Things like him skipping so many weekends with the children last year that the total time he spent with the kids was less than 7 days. Seeing that he and his wife spend more in daycare for their twins than I bring home in a month really did a number to my self-worth.  It was easy to fall into self loathing and bouts of depression.  All I could think was, “Look at ALL I do! And with NO help from you yet you want to take away the ONLY support you give these babies!”  I prayed and prayed that God would give me peace and as soon as the peace would come I was blasted with a reminder of how much it costs to raise 4 children. After paying out for baseball, softball, all-stars, and so on… my oldest son (who turns 15 August 12th) was asked to lead worship for his New Orleans mission trip.  What a HUGE deal! He had long outgrown his guitar and I so desperately wanted to buy him a new one as early birthday present so he would have it for the trip.  But this meant taking a huge chunk out my savings account. I struggled with what to do until I realized that the song I couldn’t get out of my head was actually God trying to speak to fleshly burdened heart.
The song:
I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You’re shaping my life
All I am, I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

I need you to soften my heart

I may be weak
But your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will

I trusted that whatever money was being taken from my account would be repaid in a value that supersedes any world currency! I joyfully purchased the guitar for my son and OH THE DOWNPOUR!!!!
Every lie that the enemy had thrown at me has vanished in the floods of HOPE showered over me!  Not only have my two youngest children accepted Christ, my oldest went on the New Orleans trip where he was able to watch God work in a mighty way then lead others in worshiping our magnificent creator! When I picked him up from the trip, he was sharing all the things that he had experienced and then the song above started playing in the car; the same song that the Lord spoke to me through just a month earlier. Kael began to weep out of the overwhelming love he felt for the Savior and the Holy Spirit fell over us inside my little Toyota Matrix and I experienced fellowship with my son. Another priceless moment branded to the wall of my heart.
A few weeks later, Hunter (my almost 12 year old and second born) set off to Plant City, Florida for his mission trip.  His age group had been training for an entire year for their first mission trip and Hunter was ready! At the last minute Kael was asked to go and lead worship for this trip too.  And then another downpour!  Hunter had led two people to Christ on his own and between my two children, 6 people dedicated their lives to Christ! My boys also experianced downpours of their own. Through one of the leaders (a dear brother to me) the Father affirmed to Kael that he was not alone! That not only did he have his Heavenly Father, but his Father loves him so much that He has placed Godly men in Kael's life to fill any physical void.  HEALING!
 A few weeks later I was told by one of the other leaders on the trip how impressed she was with Hunter. One of the kids had gotten sick and vomited all over the floor. Without being asked and without reservation, Hunter helped take care of things.  She said something like, “It blessed me beyond words to see a child clean up another child’s throw-up.  Truly a servant’s heart!”  This too has been etched on the walls of my heart.
The hardest part of being a single mother is actually remembering that He’s got my back.  He knows when I need drops of hope and when I need a downpour.  I may be weak, but HIS Spirit IS strong in me! And my flesh WILL fail, MY GOD, He NEVER will!
I believe that if I continue to work hard at helping my children find and follow the path that the Lord has laid out before each of them, there will be peace when it’s time to let go of their hand and watch them walk into His perfect will for their lives.
And as for my heart being made of steel… I realized in writing this entry that it’s not made of steel at all! It’s just woven tighter than a bullet-proof vest with the precious, God-given moments I’ve written on it.  It’s been made stronger than any dagger could sever. 
Be blessed and never forget to be a blessing!
My Sweet Pea being baptized by our children's pastor, Hal. One of the precious GODLY men that the Father has placed in our lives.

My Punkin', Kael with Dave who is another gift from God and my precious brother-in-Christ.

Kael leading worship in New Orleans.

My Sunshine, Hunter and my Love Bug Jackson leading the way during worship at this year's Vacation Bible School.

The song I shared:

To break me apart
I need you pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me

Sunday, May 15, 2011

All the way to Heaven... and back again

What I love most about spring is that everything is made new.  All around us, the scenery changes from a cold, dead gray to a burst of living color! The layers of clothing that have bound us for months begin to shed as the sun draws closer and closer towards the earth. The sound of baby birds chirping for their breakfast brings such JOY to my heart! Such beautiful reminders all around that we have new life in Christ Jesus!
 For the past several years Easter and Thanksgiving have been spent at my sister, Karen’s house.  She and her husband Marty live in the most precious little farmhouse that I believe was built in the 1920’s and moved to its current location sometime in the 1940’s.  She has restored it so beautifully. Truly a trip back in time when you enter in.  There is a barn in the back which Marty takes great pride in. It’s where we congregate for these family events.  Tables are lined with linens where we place our most prized dishes of casseroles and desserts. For Easter, the front barn doors are open wide to welcome warm sunshine and a fresh clean breeze; only closed for a few minutes to corral the little ones as Easter eggs are hidden.

Ready Set GO!

This Easter was particularly special because the Lord has blessed us with Karsen, my very first great-niece! She is so precious that the fact I’m old enough to have a GREAT niece doesn’t even faze me. As I held her and watched my own children running around, an ache pinched my heart.
Wasn’t it just a moment ago that I held this baby girl’s daddy in my arms? Didn’t I just rock my own babies to sleep as I rock Karsen now?
Wait… wasn’t it just yesterday that I wrapped my little arms around my momma’s neck and pulled her face to meet mine so she would look at me while I was talking to her?
I looked over at my momma.  She looked so pretty. I wondered if time’s swift hand had caused her the same pain. I’m certain it has.
With Mother’s Day and Easter still alive all around me there is so much I want to share! These past few weeks have been such a time of revelation that I’m having a hard time knowing where to begin sharing with you.  Forgive me if this entry turns to babble!
I learned something so very profound just weeks before Easter Sunday that it has melted into so many areas of my life. I believe I will start with sharing what I learned. Many of you may already know this bit of knowledge, but maybe there are a lot of you who will be excited like me! J

“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”
Matthew 27:45-46
I always wondered why Jesus would say that! Because he was in so much pain and was asking God why would He allow His Son to go through this? But, Jesus already knew what would happen… But if He already knew then why question God???  And if Jesus is questioning God, then maybe it’s not so bad if we question God???  Confused?
Actually, it’s not confusing at all.  Believe it or not, King James did NOT write the Bible.  And no, that was not my profound revelation. [insert giggles].  WAAY back before King James, all Rabbis started their training as young boys.  They didn’t have the Old Testament given to them, sectioned by chapters with each verse assigned a number for referencing and put together in a nice leather bound book with their name imprinted in gold leaf on the front. They had to memorize it all, scroll by scroll.  So, when referencing something particular, they would recite the first line of the section they were referencing.  Just as if I were to say “In John 3:16” You would probably know what that verse is about.
As Jesus, the Messiah, hangs on the cross beaten (but not broken), he cries out, NOT to God but to man, the first part of what we know as Psalm 22. There was NO doubt! There was NO questioning the Father!  Jesus, in what must have seemed to be His weakest moment to all who were watching, cried out in VICTORY:
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”!!!!

Basically saying: I AM Who I say I AM. I AM the Messiah! The One David wrote about!  Here is the Proof!

Psalm 22

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me,
   so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
   by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
   you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
   they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
   in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
(read the entire chapter at the end of this blog entry! So powerful!)

After reading Psalm 22 in its entirety, I began to think of all the other times in my life when I doubted something or someone simply because the entire truth wasn’t revealed to me.  Or because, more times than not, I had been too selfish or self absorbed to look beyond my own pain to see the truth.  
Back to my mother…
For many years I manned this incredible wall of hurt and bitterness that I built as a barrier between my mother and me.  I loved her so much yet I was so angry.  When I was very young, my mom decided to leave my father.  She also left her children: my brother who was entering his pre-teen years, my sister who is 7 ½ years older than me, and of course, me.  I believe I was around 2 years old.  My father was (and still is) an alcoholic.  I don’t remember him ever being mean to us or hurting us.  I do remember that he wasn’t around very much.  He remarried quickly to what we refer to as the “step monster”.  She was a mean drunk.  She and her teenage boys left me with scars both physically and emotionally. 
Having no true sense of time at such a young age, it felt like I lived in that nightmare for eternity! In reality it wasn’t very long until my mom came back for us.  She had found her “knight in shining armor” that turned out to be the saving grace for all of us.  I always said that he took us out of that hell and made us a family once again.  He was never a “step-dad” in my eyes or my heart.  Just my dad.  I credited him for it ALL while silently I guarded the wall of my heart that faced my mother.  Growing up, my mother and I never really fought and we really did love each other. When my dad passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack both of our worlds were shattered. Not being able (or willing) to see my mother’s pain through my own grief, the little girl inside of me quickly added more layers to the wall.  Then when I had a child of my own and truly understood a mother’s love, I couldn’t fathom how she could just leave us like she did.  I added the final layer to the wall around my heart. 
Longing for a better relationship with my mother, I began to pray.  It became clear that this wall I had built to protect myself from hurt had become my tomb.  Slowly, the Lord chiseled away at that wall and with every drop of mortar, a little bit of truth was revealed. 
Like looking past my doubt and seeing the truth behind Jesus’ words on the cross and letting GLORY fill my soul, He allowed me to look past my hurt and I was able to see my mother for who she was then and who she truly is today.
My mother then:
 The Lord in His endless mercy changed my harsh question of “how could she!” to a soft “why did she?” Slowly I began to see with spiritual eyes and not only did the wall get destroyed, my heart broke for my mother.  I don’t think she had even turned 30 years old when she left.  That’s more than 6 years younger than I am now.  A young woman, married to an abusive husband.  I can’t imagine the lies spoken over her that made her believe she wasn’t good enough or worthy enough to take her children with her when she left.  She shared with me a few years ago that during the months she spent living without us, she was working hard to make a way for us all to be together again. She asked for my forgiveness but by this time the only forgiveness needed was hers.
All the years spent building a tomb could have been spent building a relationship! I thank God every single day for restoring the relationship with my mother.

My mother now:
 For several years now, my momma has been my best friend, my mentor, my saving grace, and a great source of strength.  I see her now for whom she has always been:
*      Beautiful inside and out
*      STRONG
*      Godly
*      SRONG
*      Loves her children
*      STRONG
*      Loves her grandchildren
*      STRONG
*      Loves her great-grandchildren
*      STRONG
*      The hardest worker I know
*      STRONG
*      A good friend
*      STRONG
*      Trustworthy
*      STRONG
*      Giving
*      STRONG
*      Lover of butterflies, music, anything purple, sappy movies, working with her hands, and baby girls
*      STRONG

She knows that her strength comes from the One who created her- the very One proclaiming: Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” as he redeemed us all from our brokenness.
All things will be made new if we just give it to Him
 I’ve seen Him change a scared, broken young woman with no sense of self-worth into a strong and mighty woman of God.  I’ve witnessed this miracle in the life of my mother.  I see this miracle every morning when I look in the mirror. 
We are not promised our next breath.
Let’s ask the Lord to reveal the places in our heart where walls may still stand.  Time does go by so fast.  I’m not sure how many more Easter gatherings with my family I will be blessed with but I do know that every single one will be spent loving and cherishing my family.  There is NO time for bitterness. 
I try to remember that we have all been broken in some way throughout our lives.  Some turn to addictions to cope.  Some run away. We hurt those we love. We allow our hurts to build walls. We deny ourselves and others healing by gripping on to bitterness for dear life.
Loosen the grip. Let bitterness fall to the floor.  Allow God to chisel away at the walls we’ve built so that He can heal and reveal to us the TRUTH behind what our simple and selfish eyes have perceived. 
Buried inside the tomb we’ve built around our heart is a cry of VICTORY ready to burst forth! Let it!

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me,
   so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
   by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
   you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
   they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
   in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
   scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
   they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
   “let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
   since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
   you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
   from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
   for trouble is near
   and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
   strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
   open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
   it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
   and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
   you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
   a pack of villains encircles me;
   they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
   people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
   and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
   You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
   my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
   save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
   in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
   All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
   Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
   the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
   but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
   before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
   those who seek the LORD will praise him—
   may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
   will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
   will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
   and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
   all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
   those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
   future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
   declaring to a people yet unborn:
   He has done it!
Psalm 22

To my momma:
 I love you all the way to Heaven and back!

Be blessed and remember to always be a blessing J

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's LOVE Got To Do With It? Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken???

Tina, I couldn't have said it better myself!  I mean, really.  Why bother?

 I think it's safe to say that we have all had our hearts broken at least once in our life.  Most of the time we KNOW when our hearts are being broken. It's real and in our face at the moment of impact. Other times it's a slow process.  We don't realize the damage until years later; often when we are trying to heal from something else.  I never realized how broken my heart had been having an alcoholic father who loved his drink more than he loved me. God had sent me the most wonderful "step dad" to fill that earthly void so growing up I was able to ignore the pain by filling the void with the love of my "dad".  The actual trauma to my heart didn't become apparent until I had to face being abandoned by my husband.  What I had perceived as a scarred heart all these years, was actually an open wound merely covered by a battle dressing.

As a wound works to heal itself, pustulent clings desperately to the bandage for healing and rejuvenation. However, when a bandage is applied without a proper cleaning and medication, it merely hides the festering infection that grows underneath until the pain becomes so overwhelming that the only option is to remove the bandage and doctor the infection for relief.  Removing the bandage causes even more pain as the clinging bandage takes tissue with it, leaving an exposed, raw, gaping wound; much worse than the original.
If this is what love lost does to the heart, then why bother? Knowing how excruciating this pain is, how do I protect my children from it? Why take the chance again with my own heart?

During our Bible study a couple of weeks ago, we were discussing how Elisha longed for a double portion of Elijah's spirit.  We went around sharing what we would like to have a double portion of in each other.  My sweet friend, who is also a single mom, made the comment that she would like to have a double portion of my strength.  She added, "I don't know how you do it.  If I had to deal with all you have had to deal with, I'd be in a mental institution!" We all laughed and through the laughter, everyone seemed to agree with her.  I was taken back because when looking at each of these women, I see so much strength that it overwhelms me! And there they were, wanting a double portion of my strength.  The "I don't know how you do it" comment stayed with me.  The answer is simple. 

The very element that caused the hurt is the ONE and ONLY medication that will heal it.  Isn't that so like God??? 

The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  He uses love most often to bring us down because he knows the power that love holds.  He twists and molds our perception of love until it's like looking at carnival mirrors and eventually the distorted image seems normal.  We end up removing shards of broken images from our flesh as we foolishly follow the sound of the enemy's voice leading us into yet another fun house full of distorted mirrors.
I see it battered women who stay with their abusers because they believe that's what love looks like.  I see it in teenagers who take their own life because the one they love decided to love another.  But I also see it in myself when I doubt my own self worth.

                                         So how can love destroy and heal at the same time?

Love doesn't destroy. The enemy does.  He knows the power of LOVE because LOVE cast him out of Heaven.  LOVE was nailed to a cross along with all of our sins.  LOVE busted open the gates of hell and rose victorious! The enemy knows that LOVE will come again. 

How do we truly heal? The Word tells us that we are to be imitators of Christ.  If Christ IS Love, how do we reflect that?

1 Corinthians 13 defines love for us.  Before that, it emphasises how important and powerful love truly is.  It tells us that we could have faith that moves mountains, but without love, we are NOTHING.  We could speak in the language of the angels but without love, we may as well be blabbering idiots!  So what is love?

4 Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud.
 5 It does not dishonor others,
 it is not self-seeking,
 it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
 7 It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
 always perseveres. 
 8 Love never fails.
The chapter ends with:
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
 But the greatest of these is love.

Love is patient, love is kind: The Lord is so patient with me and my fleshly tendencies and I need to be reminded of this when my patience runs thin with others.  Being kind is a reflection of patience which in turn, is reflecting Christ.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. I've never been one to long for material possessions.  I've never cared about having "bigger and better".  I've never based my success on the things I can show off. Envy, boastfulness, and pride doesn't always relate to material things. My struggle: Being envious of my married friends who have husbands who love the Lord and their lives reflect it. Boasting and pride over my children being such good kids with kind hearts; as if it were my accomplishment.  I'm constantly having to remind myself that EVERYTHING I have comes for the Lord (including being a single mom) and to HIM be all the glory, honor and praise. 

 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. This one I struggle with the most.  I was actually delayed in posting this entry because I didn't want to be a hypacrit.  While writing this entry, I was served with legal papers stating that my ex-husband is taking me back to court to get child support lowered.  It was such a harsh blow; especially having seen him pick up the kids just weeks earlier in a brand new $42,000 truck.  When he abandoned us almost 4 years ago, he also abandoned all parental responsibilty, never taking an active role in the children's life. Out of the 365 days in 2010, he spent less than 10 days with the children.  So, you can imagine when I read the papers, all my flesh wanted to do is dishonor him! Find a way to hurt him to make myself feel better! I was ANGRY! And I immediately pulled out my little notebook of the ex's wrongdoings and began looking for a lawyer. I had to take some time to refocus and turn my fleshly anger into righteous anger before sharing with you.  It's a daily struggle for sure.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth This relates to what I just shared.  There is a fine line between revenge and justice when it comes to our heart's desire.  I pray daily for discernment between the two. Our God is a just God! He will always go to bat for us! We need to make sure that it's justice we pray for and not revenge.

 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I think about my role as a mother when I read this.  The love I have for my children is so strong that my first instinct is to protect them, even if it meant sacrificing my own life. To trust that they will always be in the Lord's favor. I'm always hoping that I am doing all that I can to help fulfill the Lord's will in their lives. And I will NEVER give up! I may cry myself to sleep some nights out of pure exhaustion, but JOY comes in the morning! I will always stand back up because greater is HE who is in me!

 Love never fails. Again, GREATER is HE who is in me, than the brokeness that once defined me! I fail on a daily bases, but LOVE has never failed me.  When I'm black and blue and cut to pieces from running into all those fun house mirrors, it's true LOVE who mends my breaks!

FAITH: Truely believing that the will of God will never take us where the grace of God will not protect us.

HOPE: Truely believeing that whatever we may be going through, God is not only going see us through it, He will justify it and use it to bring GLORY to His name!

LOVE: SALVATION the greatest of these 

KNOW LOVE.  Truly know love! Know what love is not.  Never give up on love because Love has never given up on you.

Be blessed and remember to always be a blessing