Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Break-Ups: Breaking Up the Myths of Happily Ever After Always

Dealing With Break-Ups

If you’ve read my story, then you know that break-ups, and indeed, very tortuous break-ups have been a part of my life. In fact, not one, but two. I could easily have stopped with just one. Ok, bad joke...but truly, when I found myself for the second time holding onto the shattered pieces of my heart and watching the person I loved walk out of my life, I felt like I’d had all I could take.

The second break-up, which happened only about 6 months after the first one, was a situation I got myself into - by following after my own desires, not heading voices of counsel in my life, and pretty much refusing to really talk to God about it before jumping in. I was a girl on the rebound, and as most rebound-ees find, it only results in more heart-break. I can so quickly type down as to why I was not in a relationship that God wanted me in (the guy was a great guy, just not the great guy for me), but it’s took me a LONG time to come to realize those things. But at the time, my heart-break over losing someone I loved was compounding by losing two.

The night after my second sob-story, I felt so alone. I knew there were people like me, who had broken hearts instead of happily ever after; girls who’s knight in shining armor rode off into the sunset without them; women who felt so devastated when all their well-meaning ideals were suddenly proven false. But where were they? And now that we were alone in our grief - WHAT DO WE DO WITH A BROKEN HEART? That night, I began writing my heart, my questions, my griefs out onto the comforting screen of my prehistoric laptop, documenting in detail my journey towards healing - a healing that at the time, I honestly thought would never come to a heart as ripped up and soiled as mine.

Have you ever read any of those books written by happily married people telling about how they got together? They go through this wonderful story of love, maybe with a little bit of hardship and trial, but in the end they get married, honeymoon, and live on happily ever after.

Somewhere in the past decade or so, the “courtship” ideal has taken off and soared to great heights. Suddenly magazines and books began to hit the sales wracks at Christian book stores, filled with the sweet stories of two people’s love and how God brought them together. The stories usually go something like this:

Jill was a sweet young girl who truly loved the Lord and strove to follow Him with all of her heart. She was sold out to waiting for the right man that God had been custom making for her all of her life. Jill dreamed of getting married and raising a family to honor the Lord. But she knew that she wanted God to bring her husband to her. And that he would be worth waiting for.

Jack was a godly young man who also truly loved the Lord and strove to follow Him with all of his life. He knew he wanted to marry a women with the same ideals and visions as him. But as he looks at the eligible girls around him, he saw the tragic work the Enemy had done and saw absolutely no women who fit the standards of the Proverbs 31 women.

In the stories, the course of a few years goes by in just the space of a sentence or brief paragraph. Then suddenly one day, Jack and Jill meet. They are immediately attracted to the Lord in each other, and over time begin to develop a friendship. After they become best friends, Jack begins to seriously pray about whether God would have him pursue Jill. After some prayers which also only take up about a sentences worth of time, Jack asks Jill he can begin courting/dating her (whichever way you prefer to say it) and Jill is overwhelmed and humbled that God would bring such a godly young man into her life. They’re courtship lasts for a few months, where they experience such a sweet godly intimacy and bond. They get engaged, and walah! They get married. And they both say at the end “Oh it was worth the wait!”

This is a happy story. It makes my heart sing and my face smile. It makes me get excited about one day getting to have a similar story. I get all hyped up about the story God is planning for me and the waiting seems like a small sacrifice to pay for such a “happily ever after” story.

But wait. And just think about it. How many people can really say they’ve had a story like that? I KNOW there are people out there who can share of a story like this. But maybe not as many as we think. That isn’t my story.

All my life, I believed that the first man I ever was in a relationship with would be my husband. The first man who ever said “I love you” would say it to me for the rest of my life. In all the books and articles I had read about relationships (and I was an avid studier of the topic!), this was how it was always supposed to be, if you were a God-fearing follower of God, and ESPECIALLY if you embraced the “courtship” path - I do not say this to mock, not at all). And according to all the “steps” to a good relationship, my relationship should have turned out that way. But it didn’t. And when I was left grasping the pieces of a broken heart, I didn’t know where in the world to turn, who to talk to, where to go for help.

Whoa. You don’t see stories like THAT in the books and magazines! But in reality, stories like that are a lot more numerous than the happy ones. It seems like for every marriage, there are half a dozen broken hearts. Broken hearts within godly, Christ-centered people. I know so many of them. Where does that fit into the pages of the books written on waiting for love story God has prepared for you? We never hear of those stories. We only read the stories written by people who are happily married and SAFE from the drama and trauma of pre-marriage. Those stories are encouraging, but they only go so far. What about me? What about all of us who have been through break-ups?

If you’ve ever experienced a “failed” relationship, we’re in this together. Break ups happen. Gasp! Did I just say “break up?” In a lot of Christians circles where the happy courtship stories are so emphasized, break-ups are never mentioned and are somehow assumed to be a sign of some sin or “wrongness” hidden inside the person who experienced a break up.

There’s this ideal out there that says “wait for God, and He’ll bring you the right person on the first try.” Don’t get me wrong! God does bring people together right from the start and they have a God story to share with the rest of the world. And I LOVE stories like this! But in reality, it doesn’t always happen that way. I know a lot of people who have had false starts. I know a lot of people who have had to break up with the person they loved the most or have that person break up with them. I know of people, like myself, where God seemed to give an emphatic YES to the relationship, but then later on down the road, there was a NO to the relationship. Sometimes the break up is nasty and ugly and over something that was legitimate grounds for breaking up. But sometimes things just happen. Face it. Break-ups are a part of life. Break-ups happen.

I can’t pretend to understand all of this. I just know that there are a lot of “sadly ever afters” out there, with a lot of hurting hearts trailing behind. I’m not proud of falling into this category, I would do anything to not have breaks behind me. It’s hard for me knowing that I will never be able to have that fairy-tale first-romance marriage. But just because break-ups don’t mesh with the ideals of found in our “conservative” Christian circles, that doesn’t mean that we are failures or that we’ve disobeyed God, or that we are less of a person because we didn’t have that God-story we’ve always wanted and everyone talks about.

The fact is, there are love stories that end sour. And they hurt. They gouge out wounds in our hearts and minds that are so severe sometimes time doesn’t even heal them. Nobody wants to hear the break up stories, but frankly, they happen, they hurt, and they need healing. And when the only sympathy we find in our Christian literature is books and articles on “How My Love Story Was Perfect”, to those of us who have NOT had that story, it’s salt on a deep wound and sometimes a sense of shame on an already weary and broken heart.

Breakups are not ideal. But they happen to a lot of people. A lot more people than you think, because nobody wants to tell about the relationship that got away. Help and healing needs to be out there for the needy and hurting, and the happily ever after stories don’t cut it. They didn’t for me when I need help so badly.

I don’t have all the answers. But I know that us breakup-ees have a place in God’s eyes and that even tho our break ups don’t fit into the dream we’ve had all our lives, somehow it fits into God’s plan. There is something God has for us in this, and we need to find it.

Something that God has given me in the aftermath of break-ups and now as I've experienced healing (although I will always vividly remember the pain), is that I have such a passion and burden for girls and women who have gone through break-ups. All you have to say is "break-up" and my heart instantly goes out to you like a rocket at first launch. There's an instant bond and "connect" that I feel. I want to make a stab at taking what I’ve learned and reaching out to those girls and women who have endured break-ups and are now left holding the shattered pieces of their broken hearts. I’m not someone who is happily married or who has never experienced a break-up - I am still single and I have been through two break-ups. I speak as someone who really knows.

Maybe these posts are a rough-draft of a book someday, maybe it's me organizing my thoughts so I can have them ready to share at the right moments to the right person, maybe you reading this knows this pain right now or you know someone who does. Either way, my passion is to reach out to "those who are of a broken heart."

In the tidal-waves of the emotions and trauma, it’s hard to think straight. It’s almost impossible to know where to go next.  I want you to know that it’s okay. I want you to know that you’re not feeling this alone. In following posts over the next few weeks, I want to share just the simple things that I’ve learned and am learning in retrospect. I hope that somehow God will use it to encourage you and help you through. Even tho you don’t feel right now that healing is possible, we have a God. We have our Jehovah Rapha, the God of Healing. And He’s all ours.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Of Fields & Finger Nails

I have a post that's been on my heart for weeks (years, truth be told) that I want to post...but working a job has just not allowed me the time to sit and put it up. So, in the meantime, here's a bit on what I'm studying.

Proverbs 31 talks about the woman who furthered her home and resources by buying a field - well, needless to say, for me to buy a field would be impractical and pointless! And so instead of a field, I am studying nail technology. Field, nails, see the similarity? Ok, no, not really.

Anyways, growing up I was a terrible nail-biter, and I would look longingly at women (especially my oldest sister, who has gorgeous hands and nails!) with long nails and see in them the height of femininity. In recent years, I have kicked the habit (hallelujah!) and in the aftermath, having nice nails has become a fetish of mine. There's nothing like knowing you've got some "style on hand" (pun intended) to make you feel confident, beautiful, and just pure lady-like. At least, that's what nice nails do for me. =)

So, I've been teaching myself the art of nail technology (yes, that's what it's REALLY called!). That also includes the study of the hands (muscles, joints, bones, nerves, etc), the make-up of the skin, the nutrients needed to maintain healthy nails, different kinds of abnormalities or mis-grown nails and what to do about that, how to give a proper and beneficial massage to the hands or WELL as the obvious: how to give top-class manicures and pedicures. Maybe that's not your cup of tea or slice of pizza, but I am finding it vastly interesting and being something of a "dreamer/schemer/visionary," I have all kinds of ideas to further my resources using this developing skill. Just another egg in the basket, so to speak. Plus, it's just really, really fun.

Anyone interested in plowing a similar field, I highly recommend this book:

This book has LOTS of pictures - and surprisingly, almost NO pictures of anything other than feet and hands. I'm pretty comfortable reading the vast majority of this book even with my three brothers around. I found this book at my local library, so chances are, your library might have a copy, too. Check it out - who knows? Maybe you'll be inspired, too.

"She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard."
(Proverbs 31:16)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Go To the Aunt

Introducing, three of the greatest joys in my life!
B (1 1/2 years), G (9 months), and M (2 years)

Auntie-hood is such a precious thing! Both my brother Steven and sister Kristine live only about 10 minutes away, and so I get to spend copious amounts of time with my little Jewels. In fact, Steven and his wife Caitlin lived with us for two years, and both Mercy and Gwynn were born via home-birth right in our home. Being an almost daily part of their first years (they've now moved into their own home but still very close) and seeing Kristine's Bethany and now recent-addition David (seven weeks old) almost as frequenty, has allowed me to develope precious relationships with all of them.

I thank God so often for allowing me the priviledge of loving on these little ones, watching them grown, and lending a hand in bringing up another generation to love and serve the Lord.
I was born to be an aunt!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Music I Love: Nathan Clark George

Nathan Clark George

I recently came across this artist, and frankly, I have really been blessed and encouraged through the listening. He came to our church last year to lead worship at the annual family camp, and whereas I didn't actually attend the event, I heard his praises sung throughout the congregation, and we now sing several of his songs during the musical worship portion of the service. We got a copy of two of his Cd's last week, and it's been played repeatedly since then.

Here's what his website has to say:

"Award winning singer/songwriter Nathan Clark George has been touring with his music for over a decade, including 4 years full-time in an RV with his family, encouraging a multi-generational vision for the family and the Kingdom of Peace. His discography delivers compelling musical presentations of Scripture along with transparent snapshots of life."

A vast portion of his music is set to Scripture, or at the very least, Scripture is thoroughly woven throughout the songs.

“I treat that process with great fear and reverence,” he says. “The lyrics are written by God, after all. The challenge is to make it flow in a natural way. A lot of work goes into the phrasing aspect.”

His style is very acoustic (guitar, mandolin, piano, violin, cello, etc) and while not being without good rhythm and some mild percussion, maintains a very calming, relaxing feel. Being in a pretty musical family myself, I can appreciate the intricate detailing of the instruments, and it lends another aspect of "awe" into the praise I feel for the Lord in my heart, because I know it's truly a beautiful melody to the Lord!

Nathan Clark George, his wife, and five children have been living in an RV for the past four years, touring with their musical concert. They are family-oriented and as already said in their bio, are "multi-generation" - keeping their own family, as well as encouraging others, to value the institution of family and not split the family (especially in church) into different age groups.

Overall, I'm really blessed by Nathan Clark George's music and testimony. I have a broad appreciation for music, and therefore appreciate the calming, acoustic feel of his music. Very relaxing and worshipful! And makes you think, too. Of the two Cd's we listened to (Rise in the Darkness & Words for Everyday), Rise in the Darkness is by far my favorite of the two.

I love what he has to say in the closing of his website's bio:

“I’m just a musician who is willing to go anywhere and sing for anybody. I really don’t follow the Christian music scene so I don’t know where, or if, I fit in. I just try to be cognizant of where God wants me and try to stay within that framework. Even if it means another year in the RV.”

Sounds like here's a musician who's really all about bringing glory to God. And definitely now high-ranking on my list of favorites.

You can hear several of his songs on his website. You can find his website here. To go directly to his music samples, click here. My favorites are: I Will Rejoice, The Lamb Now Lives, Not What My Hands Have Done, & What If I Were In the Garden. They could be your new favorites, too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What YOU Believe In

I believe in God.

But do I REALLY believe in God? To believe in God means to believe in every part of Him: His blessings and reward. His wrath and His judgment. It is impossible to really believe in God without accepting that He is without compromise exactly who He says He is.

The depth of our belief in God can be told simply by looking at how closely we really live by His commands.

If we really believe in God, we must really believe that He hates sin, the condoning of sin, and the tolerance of sin. Doing it, watching it, or listening to it shows we are not believing that God really hates it. We are in essence believing that there will be no consequences .

When God says He hates something, for us to do it or condone it says that WE believe it’s ok. Therefore, our belief in God at that moment is, really, non-existent.

Our sin shows a lack of belief. Our sin says we don’t believe that what God says is sin - is really sin.

“If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar
and His word is not in us.”
(1 John 1:10)

Believers in Christ must take sin seriously. If we don’t, then we are not really believing in God as we say we do. God wants holiness, righteousness, and purity in our lives. By living in or condoning sin, we are not believing that God is the hater of all wickedness, and we are not believing that He will punish sin. We are making out God to be a liar.

If we really believed in God, we would know the horror of sin and we would eradicate it from our lives at all cost.

Please understand that I am not saying that when we sin we are not Christians. I do not believe that genuine Christian can lose their salvation (touchy topic, I know), and neither do I believe that Christians do not sin. What I am saying is our sin reflects how deep-seeded our belief in God really is.

And living with compromise shows that we don’t take God’s word to us seriously. Condoning anything that God hates shows that we don’t really believe in Him as firmly as we think we do. If we really believe with all our hearts in the existence and Lordship of God, we will see the travesty of sin and do everything we can to stay as far away as we can.

Movies, music, and our choices of entertainment are a dead-give-away as to the level of our belief. The clothes we wear, speaking to women, show where our belief-systems are - God's standards of holiness, purity, and modesty or our own belief in gaining attention? The way we treat people, our attitudes, the things we think about in the privacy of our own imagination - all road-signs to where we place our belief.

Lets ask ourselves: do we really believe in God? And do our lifestyles and mindsets clearly reflect that?

"As obedience children, to not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written
'You shall be holy, for I am holy.' "
(1 Peter 1:15-16)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dresses for Pretty Little Girls

My mom has taught me the guidelines of sewing since I can remember. But until the past two years or so, it's never really been something that I really through to do or even necessarily enjoyed doing. I made the occasional skirt, doll, or whatnot, but nothing serious. I sorta thought being a sewer was kinda a "homeschool" thing. I can say that without malice because I WAS a homeschooler! =)

But I first began to enjoy it when, in a time when I needed a hobby to occupy my time, I decided to make a quilt. Then I began joining my family in their hobby of Civil War reenacting, and before long, I'd begun sewing "Little Women" dresses. And two quilts, a 1860's gown and skirt, a Western style frock-coat (long tailes and everything), and other miscellaneous project later - I can say that I enjoy sewing!  

One of my favorite things to make are little girl dresses (21st century dresses, that is!). Being an aunt of three nieces (ages 2, 1 1/2, and 9 months), I love making "my girls" clothes to wear, and this Simplicity pattern is one that is not only quick and easy, it's also adorable! With so much potention for improvisition, the fun and girly options are endless.

My most recent dress is made for 1 1/2 year old Bethany. I'd been fishing through our boxes of material, looking for something to use and found this material. I thought it looked plain and unexciting, but it was my best bet from what we had. But seeing the end product, I'm pretty excited about the results!

With two siblings married and babies a common event, I hope to keep myself in the dress-making business for some time. I love being an aunt!

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Past

“Your way was through the sea; Your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.”
Psalms 77:19

Two years ago today, I broke my own heart as I broke the heart of the young man I loved more than anything. He and I had been together for close to two years, and had a very special relationship. Our hearts were joined as one unlike I’ve seen even in long-established marriages. He was my identity, my strength, an extension of me. We read each others very souls. We defined each other. We planned on a life-time together.

My sister asked me at one point during the relationship if I thought he was the one God had to be my husband. I replied without batting an eye, with firm conviction in my heart, “Yes. Without a doubt, I will marry him.” I believed it with all my heart, I was confident I was where God had me for the rest of my life.

To this day I still do not understand why I was so sure of God’s will, why I had no doubts or questions to point me in a different direction. I don’t know if it’s because it was the first relationship I had been in and therefore didn’t know better, whether I was somehow just blind to God’s voice, or whether that was God’s Word to me at that time. I don’t know. Whatever it was then, I found out the truth of my future on May 13, 2009.

About a month or so prior to that time, as the promise of marriage became imminent, I’d begun to have inklings of something “not being right” in my Spirit, but I didn’t know what God was saying. I was so unpracticed. And plus, who wants to listen when God might be saying something like “break up with the man you love?” Break-ups were something that I’d never even conceived might be a part of my life - if I did what was right, my relationship story would be my dream come true. Right? Yet I felt the unrest. But I never really analyzed it or let it hinder the path I was taking, the path I still thought was God’s will.

The young man, who lived on the other side of the country, flew out to visit me, on what I knew was going to be a MOMENTOUS visit. It was momentous, although not for the reasons I’d thought. It’s a long few days to try and put into words - but seeing him face to face only deepened my anxiety.

It was the night before I knew he was planning a special outing together. I knew what was coming. And I was a mess. Not because I was excited, but because “something” was pressing into my heart, telling me “no.” I know it was God. So very God, speaking the last thing I’d ever thought I’d hear. I was nearly sick with the mental and emotional anguish going on in my soul. I finally broke down. I talked to my mom. I talked with my dad. I prayed.

And through the guidance of my earthly father and my Heavenly Father, on the very morning I was supposed to become engaged to the man I loved…instead, in obedience to the Lord, I sat next to him and through anguish of tears, told him I had to call it off. He sat there in stunned silence. I was in a state of shock myself. Neither of us had genuinely seen this coming, least of all him. Then, through his pain, he looked towards me and whispered, “We’re done?” I nodded.

The next day he flew home. And I have never seen him since. We spoke a few times, as I still wrestled myself to physical illness trying to undermine what God was saying, but what I was slowly beginning to clearly see in my heart as God’s truth for the rest of my life. I wasn’t going to marry him. I wasn’t going to raise his children. I wasn’t going to sit on the front row while he led worship. I wasn’t going to be his help meet. I could no longer be his best friend. I no longer had that special person to talk to.

Unless you’ve gone through loss like this, this may sound melodramatic or over-exaggerated. But I cannot even begin, even in these words, to describe the depths of sorrow, pain, and confusion I was in.

This was the catalyst of the darkest time my life. After several weeks and several long talks with my dad, I DID begin to see, by the enlightenment of God, that this was indeed for the best, and that he and I weren’t meant for each other. And I was able to begin to thank God for diverting me from a path that wasn’t His will. But then I began, even as I thanked God, to resent God. I was glad He’d preserved me, but why did He have to allow the pain in the first place? He could have never allowed me to meet him. He could have kept us from falling in love. So many things, God could have done. But He hadn’t. And there I was.

The next year and a half were shadow lands in my life. Parts of it I don’t remember clearly, as depression and overwhelming voids of darkness clouded out everything else in my life. I tried to run to God, because I’d always found Him so faithful all my life…but I only succeeded in running farther away. I kept up the “God-girl” exterior, but inside, I was a boiling mass of bitterness, resentment, confusion. I didn’t feel my life was worth living. I made many choices during that time that only took me farther from the Lord, all the while still living a “good” life on the outside. I slowly worked myself into a place where I questioned the very existence of God. And then, when I just couldn’t get away from KNOWING He was there, I cursed God in many ways. I knew He was there, but I wanted absolutely nothing to do with Him.

It was a long journey. It was more than dealing with a broken heart; it was God refining me through the hottest of fires I had ever faced. I can’t say I passed the test with flying colors. I have scars to this day that will last the rest of my life. But scars are not the only thing I came away with.

I’ve come away KNOWING Jesus. I've knew Him since I was 17, I’d been the girl that people looked at to emulate, the one girls’ came to for advice. But when I hit the fire, that all fell away. I was stripped to nothing, absolutely nothing. And when I was at the end of all that was of me, the Lord, blessed, blessed Jesus, began a building work that was built not on my fanciful ideals, my good works, or my emotional responses to God…but a work that was established on the TRUTH of the reality of Jesus.

The Kellie writing this today is a completely different woman than the girl-Kellie of two years ago. I don’t want to go through such anguish and darkness again, but even if I could erase the past two years, I would not, because of who it’s made me today. I am owned by the blood of Jesus Christ, because He spared my life - a life that for awhile I didn’t think was worth living.

Since that time, the Lord has moved my heart away completely from the intense love that I had for this young man, altho it took a long, long time. He is no longer the holder of my heart, altho I will always cherish thankfulness for his part in my life. When I learned of his marriage last year, I rejoiced with exceeding gladness for him. I still occasionally pray for him. Sometimes I still cry a little. Not because of losing him as a husband, that emotion is long gone, but because he HAD been a big part of my life and altho I do not “love” him anymore, my archives of my heart and mind remember him. He’s my brother in the Lord now, and I wish him the best in life.

If you’ve ever faced a break-up of a relationship or loss of a deep love, you are not alone. I have been there. I know your thoughts, your questions, your confusion. I know your pain, your anger, your dark nights of fighting God. I know your hopelessness. I know your suffering. I know that squeezing, choking, wrenching, suffocating feeling in your heart.

I know. And so does Jesus.
He never left me, even when I cursed Him.
He will never leave you either.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Highways & Byways

"He gives His angels charge over you."
Psalms 91:11

If I've learned anything the past two years of driving my 25-minute commute to work, through morning traffic on the freeway is this: God DOES watch out for me, even in these small ways. I've seen accidents prevented and "dangerous" suddenly become "safe" right before my eyes too many times not acknowledge that me and my car are in the hands of God.

I love how God is apart of even these little things in our lives - nothing really is left up to chance, even if it's just that semi slowing down or a car switching lanes to make room. God's got the wheel(s) and I can just cruise down the road knowing I'm really just a passenger in the grand scheme of what God is doing (this is figurative - normal driving skills still required!). It's a safe, comfy feeling.

P.S. Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins are really really good.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Concerning Balloons and Grace

"But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more."
Romans 5:20

I've always looked at that verse, and viewed grace like a fully-blown balloon. Can't get any bigger, altho in this case, neither can it get any smaller. It's size was a fixture, never growing, never changing.

My sin was like another balloon still being blown. Sometimes the balloon only grew to a small size, whereas other times, it grew to the same size as the other balloon. But then it stopped, because sin just didn't get any worse than that. I always knew that the grace-balloon would always encompass my sin-balloons, since there's no sin so great that God's grace cannot forgive. But I felt that the size of God's grace surely must be "test-able."

But recently I'd was going through a time of real regret over some choices I had made (not externally bad choice necessarily, but internally just as disparaging). I felt like my sin had just been so great, surely God's grace was tested to the max. Then I re-discovered this verse, or rather, I know the Lord led me to it, and the Holy Spirit did His work. And I saw it so totally differently! I had the balloons all wrong! ( I know "balloons" sound kinda cheesy, but it's just the mental picture that comes to mind, so bare with me!)

Grace is like a balloon that just keeps growing and growing. When I sin and symbolically blow air into the sin-balloon, causing it to grow, the grace-balloon grows at an equal rate, too. One puff into sin, one puff into grace...and the thing is, the grace-balloon started out WAY bigger than the sin-balloon in the first place. It's impossible for the sin-balloon to even dream of catching up. There is no sin so great that God's grace and forgiveness doesn't cleanse, just as easily as I scrub a well-soaked frying-pan.

The size of grace isn't a fixture. It's an ever increasing, ever expanding phenomena of God's mercy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nostalgia Re-thought

I wrote the previous post Saturday night. Sunday morning on the way to church, riding in the second-row bench seat of our 12-passenger van, I was reading a piece of paper given to me several years ago, and which had been hidden in a box of my old journals, books, etc since then. It's so amazing "ironic" how God unearths the hidden things at just the right moment, that moment when we need them! This little paper was kind of an "evaluation" of yourself - describing the "flesh-woman" and the "spirit-filled" woman. I found very little of me in the "spirit-woman" and my name was written ALL OVER the "flesh-woman." I have SO much to work on! But what really jumped out at me, I literally nearly gasped out loud, was this small sentence:

"Disappointment with what isn't swallows the joy of what is."

I've never wanted my "past" to dictate the way I live my "present," but I can see that I've been doing that lately. I've let disappointment cloud out the joy of what God has given to me; I have been given so much, I have so much that "is." What "isn't" is exactly "isn't." Nada. Zippo. Fine'. Old news. Time to move on.

For us single women, it's so hard not to live in our disappointments. Disappointment over our prolonged singleness; disappointment that that godly guy never even noticed us; disappointment over not getting that job; disappointment that our lives aren't as exciting as we'd dreamed; etc, etc. It's almost comforting to re-live our disappointment, either as a balm to soothe the wound, as a way to feel justified, or as a protection mechanism against future pain. Withour realizing the lie we are believing, it's so easy to let ourselves wallow in the warped glory of our emotional suffering.

Why do this when I have been given so much? A wonderful, irreplaceable family - two wonderful parents with a great marriage, seven brothers and sisters, two in-laws, three beautiful nieces, one adorable nephew, 7 delightful cats, a home that is a true haven with such a gorgeous view of the sunset, a job perfectly suited for this time in my life, a healthy body and constitution, a copy of the Word of God that is LEGAL to read, and JESUS, the beginning and the last.

"Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."

Saturday, May 7, 2011


The archives of my life were delved into this afternoon, when I began looking through some "ancient" pictures of me, family, and friends, dating back four years ago. We laughed at how babyish some of my siblings looked, giggled at how my little brother had two sets of his two front teeth at the same time, one set right in front of the other - I always joked with him he could chew twice as fast as the rest of us because of it. We "oh wowed" at lost (or gained) weight, tried to remember almost forgotten cat's names, "aaaah"-ed as we saw pictures of friends we haven't seen since the pictures were taken. It was a delightful few moments of nostalgia. We looked so happy, so alive, so free.

Alot has happened in four years, at least alot has happened in my life. At twenty-four, I've seen alot more of the reality of life than when I was twenty. The world was at my feet, just waiting to be explored! A word I would use to describe who I was when I was twenty is "expectant." I was ready for every dream to happen, every excitement, every great adventure. And I've had adventures! I've had royal times that I'd never trade for anything! The Lord has blessed me with a grand wealth of joyful years, loving family, those few steadfast friends.

But when I closed the book on the pictures...I felt that familiar twinge in my heart. "Expectant" isn't a word I would use to describe myself anymore. Maybe "resigned." Or rather, "calm." I'm not old, I'm actually rather young, but pain has a way of maturing the heart and anguish can so quickly cause you to leave girlish fantasies behind. And in my life, that took place in a painful way. Not in a way that is unique from anyone else, but still just as forceful as any other.

I don't wake up in the morning with the thought of "what if it's today?" But rather, I thank God for life, His presence, His steadfast love despite my failures (past and present), and know that most likely, today will be just like any other day.

I know it's good to realize that life ISN'T a fairy-tale, castles in the sky are just as stable and likely to last as castles built on the sand. But I regret that I've taken such a cynical view on life. Compared to what I was a year ago, I'm a regular court-jester, but compared to someone who still has the world at their feet, I'm rather an old fogey. I have the joy of the Lord, I have a peace in my heart that passes understanding. But I do have a drag in my step. I have "inner peace." But the "outer glow" is still pretty dim.

And I want that to change! I don't want to be a stick in the mud all my life! I have a hard time believing in "happily ever after," because of the anguish of losing deep love that I have felt (someday that story will be told). But I want to kick of these doldrums, and be as expectant about life as I used to be!! With God anything is possible, so with God anything can happen! I'm a melancholy at heart, but God's promises are true, despite my "personality."

My prayer is that the Lord will give me the grace to realize that despite past pain, the future is STILL glowing bright.

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth until those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:14

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

That's What Friends Are For

I have been SO encouraged this past week! I have been so "alone" in my walk with Christ, as there are no young women (or young men, for that matter) around me who share the same commitment and honest passion for Christ and holiness as I do. It's been a blessed time, as I've been realizing that I must translate my loneliness into prayer at the Throne...but also, I have really seen the reason why God established the "church," the Body of Christ, and said "do not forsake the gathering of brethren." If we cannot walk with God steadfast even when we have no friends to "support"us, then our faith is nothing. BUT on the flip side, I see so clearly how the support and encouagement of other believers is so important! I don't mean Christians who only "make you feel good," but who exhort you to deeper walks with God, who encourage you (and follow you!) into personal time alone with God, who share the same standards of life as you know God has called us don't realize how IMPORTANT and WONDROUS that is until, like me, you have none of that.

I stumbled upon a "blog community" this week of Christian women/girls seeking the Lord, and actively living and talking opening about modesty, purity, holiness, and deepening your relationhip with God. It has done my weak heart SO much good to read the exortation of other sisters, to see their transparent lives, read their struggled in this battle we face in our singleness (I believe the mass amounts of "waiting" women is a spiritual battle - the Enemy is wreaking havoc amongs the godly men [and just as much the women, too, but as a young single women myself, I'm most personally aware of it's affects on single women])...I don't know ANY of these girls, probably never will. Alot of them have differences from myself - they say "modest," I say "frumpy," or they say "modest," and I say "NOT modest" or "clothes are too important to you by the way you glam up." Some say "courtship" or "dating," whereas I say "seek the LORD's standards for YOUR life-style and don't mold to someone else's ideas" (too big a topic to try and explain here...). Some say "Reformed" or "Baptist" or "Jewish"...whereas I say "non/denominational-hard-core-follower-of-God-and-His-Word." Point made, I'm not a cookie cutter of any of these young women. BUT they share my passion for Jesus and the REAL Jesus. I am grateful for these women and girls who have shared a few paragraps of their lives with me (altho unknowingly) and who blessed and encouraged me.