One Word 2015

One word.

Safe - Blueandgreentogether.com

I spent the last year reading a Psalm and Proverb pretty much every day.  (P.S. This was one of many Bible reading plans you can get on with the YouVersion app–highly recommended!) That’s 12 times through the book of Proverbs.  Every day there would be new truths and surprises, as if I had never read them before.  However, one verse often caught my attention:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Here is another Proverb my husband often quotes to me (in a kind way, of course!):

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Finally, we just started with Heart of Dakota curriculum in our home school.  The kid’s verse to memorize this week just happens to be this one:

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

I admit it, this last verse is where I need the most help.  Often you will find me awake in the wee hours, worrying about my family’s safety.  I’m the queen of finding worse case scenarios.  That’s why my word for 2015 is safe.  It’s a reminder to myself that with the God the Father’s protection, we are always safe.  His Word says it.  It’s true. It’s true even when things happen don’t feel safe.  (Think about the situations David was often in when he wrote the Psalms—fleeing for his life.) Time to put my faith in action and believe.  Incidentally, believe was my 2nd choice for one word 2015.

Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep better?  That’s my hope for 2015.

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Things I’ve Learned in 2014

1.  Manufactured outrage and the news.  I was taken aback this summer when a fellow Word Weaver blogger used the term “manufactured outrage” and said she wasn’t “taking the bait” anymore.  I was allowing the news stories to take away my peace. Dwelling on them tainted my thoughts with fears and negativity.

Bowe Bergdahl

The Bowe Bergdahl story was a turning point.  Bowe is a beloved son and brother who was raised by a conservative Christian family.  The family attended a church in a denomination that I once attended.  I was baffled at the feeds I was seeing from conservative outlets and the accusations against his parents.  I came across this post which describes in better words how I was looking at the story and processing it.  Seeing the memes and headlines caused me to step back from all the news, the outrage, and the craziness. I won’t “fall for the bait” with the big headlines. I feel more compassion, realizing a situation is usually more complex than anyone can realize from one news story or Facebook page blurb.  (Not that I blindly trusted everything prior to this!)  While still interested in politics and current events, I’m holding the news at arms-length and feeling more peaceful inside; less stirred up.

2.  Consistent homeschooling produces results.  When I didn’t think there was any progress, it was still happening.  My seven year old suddenly took off with reading!  We had serious concerns about learning disorders  when he was reading backwards, mixing up words and switching letters around.  We kept at our phonics workbooks day after day, week after week (seemingly mundane at times), and all of a sudden—it clicked! He apparently reached a developmental milestone and there was rapid change. Now he is reading beyond where we were with our phonics lessons.  I’m amazed how far both children have come in a year, and it gives courage and incentive to stay the course.

3. Life is precious and there is a time for mourning.  We were shocked/delighted to find out we were expecting a baby in February. There were several weeks of hopeful anticipation, followed by a concerning ultrasound, followed by a confirming ultrasound that our baby was gone.  My heart has been grieving that baby all year.  The grief has finally eased up since getting past our “should have been” due date in late October.  That baby was real, that baby was wanted, and that baby was not insignificant in the kingdom of God.  That was the lesson learned.  There isn’t a shortcut for grieving.  Heaven will be all the sweeter to meet my little ones.

4.  In researching family history,  I learned of my rich Christian heritage.  My great-grandparents were common, every day people. They were poor immigrants who were rich in faith. They came to America in hopes of a better life.

On both sides of my family, great-grandparents, grandparents and parents prayed for their offspring to believe in God, to have faith in His Son. God has heard their prayers and answered them by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my most important inheritance (not based on relationship with my relatives, but because it is now my own through the grace of Christ).  My prayer is that my children will also have this faith.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)

Four generations – 2007

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome in the comments section below!

How do you trust after a divorce?

So how do you trust again after your heart has been ripped to shreds by the person that you committed to live life with till the end of your days?  Would you dare remarry again? For me, these are the thirteen not-so-easy steps.

  1. You tell your friends that you need hugs.  You, the person who has never ever been a “hug” kind of person.   It’s awkward at first, but after awhile, it’s a normal part of greeting and you soak in every hug at any opportunity from friends and family that you trust.
  2. You get some solid Christian counseling. You face your own issues and take responsibility for your own sins related to the marriage that broke up.  When your counselor tells you to wait a year before dating again,  you do that, even though you feel horribly lonely, and you think it’s not fair.
  3. Sometimes  in that first year you are grieving so deeply that you bawl and scream at God when you are alone in the car.  The emotional pain is so overwhelming, that occasionally you wish you were dead  (though you are not suicidal),  but you yell it out, because your counselor reminds you that God can handle that.  Because when you are alone yelling in the car, God is all you have left.
  4. You go to college (a dream you’ve had for several years) and you study diligently and do well in your classes and find something you love to do.  You find that your days are filled with studying and working.
  5. Some creep–you realize later that he’s a creep– from a college class asks you on a date, and you are so lonely, you hang out with him after class one evening. But he directly informs you that he has other motives, and you remember what the counselor said (see step 2) and you call your best friend and ask her to hold you accountable so you don’t do something you’ll regret.  And you resist temptation despite the opportunity, and  a few weeks after the flood of emotions is past, you realize that perhaps you might be okay being alone!
  6. You cling to the Psalms in your Bible.  You pour your aching heart and tears along with David, the ancient king of Israel.   Then you write miles of words in your journals and you pour out your aches and pains before God.  You write until your hands hurt. Then you close the journal and walk away, and realize you feel  lighter.
  7. You often call your best friend, your mom, and the one cousin you know who also went through a divorce.  You tell them how lonely you feel and that a funeral would have been easier than this.  After you stop seeing your counselor,  you find a small support group and you share and they hear you. While you aren’t paying any attention and are just trying to survive,  your heart heals every week because you are processing your grief and not avoiding it.
  8. You find things in your life to look forward to.  You let your mind wander back to long-neglected hobbies and passions that have been smothered by the chaos of a difficult marriage.  You pick up your crochet needles and make something pretty. You keep going to your church, even though you feel weird walking in all by yourself and jealous to see all the happily married couples.  You worship, you take communion.
  9. And then a friend invites you to attend a meeting with his church single’s group.  You are baffled at the idea after being a married woman for eight years, so you politely say no.  So he invites you again, and you say no again. And one night when you are studying that same friend shows up at the coffee shop with a bunch of the people from the group.  You sit by them for an hour and  you realize they are friendly. A few weeks later you walk in to one of their meetings with your heart hammering in your chest. On the way home that night,  you bawl your eyes out with gratitude, thanking God in the car, because you found some genuine Christian fellowship.  So you jump in with both feet.
  10. You hang out with this group so much that they become like brothers and sisters to you.  And particularly you notice  the brothers treat you kindly, and you realize that not all men are out to treat women the way you were treated.  They could care less that you are divorced and weigh over 300 pounds–sure they will sit in the coffee shop with you and talk and play board games and watch movies and discuss all sorts of things about life in general and they ask you how school is going and encourage you and treat you as a sister in Christ consistently and -oh-so-kindly.  You actually find yourself laughing and it surprises you because you forgot that you could laugh. A few of these friends become aware that you have post traumatic stress syndrome, and that sometimes you have panic attacks and become nearly paralyzed just from riding in a car or watching a movie scene, and they still like to hang out with you and accept you as you are.
  11. And then about a year and a half after the first meeting, one of the guys in that group—who happens to be the most kind of them all (and wasn’t actually one that you had been hanging out with very often), surprisingly asks you out on a date. On your first date he gives you a card that says he is praying for God to guide the relationship.  And you remind him (even though he already knew) that you are a divorced woman, because he has never been married. But he still wants to date you.
  12. So you go on your second date with him and he takes you to Lake Michigan and walks on the beach with you and holds your hand,  and you didn’t imagine you could feel those butterflies again, but you do! So you go on your third date with this fellow, and you tell him that you have been infertile for eight years of marriage, and that you have had tests and procedures, and that you were the one with the problem, and that you may never be able to have children, and he says that he still wants to date you.
  13. As you continue to date, you share more and more of your heart with this man, the good and the bad, and he shares with you too, and there is lots of walking and talking and sharing and you find yourself wanting to trust again. Still, you don’t trust your own judgement, because obviously you have made poor decisions in the past. You ask your pastors and your closest friends and family if they think this is a good idea. Then you ask his roommates and his co-workers and his pastor and his family if he is a man of integrity as he seems to be, and you realize that he is, so there is nothing stopping you from marrying him.  So you take a deep breath, walk down that aisle and make a new vow til’ death do you part.

That is how you trust a man again.

But really, the only way you can trust a man again, is to trust GOD and His workings.  For you realize it is His book and His people that have healed your heart to the point that you are ready and willing to trust again. Then you see “He works all things for the good”, and that isn’t just a trite saying in Romans.  And that God can take what has been the most painful experience of your life and turned it into something beautiful.
God Bless the Broken Road

Prologue:

And this same man continues to show you, through all your hurts and insecurities and weight loss and weight gains (not to mention having a baby(!) born 9 months and 2 weeks after your wedding day—and  another baby just sixteen months later—and two miscarriages–and unemployment, and four moves in 8 years) that he loves you.  He calls you beautiful every day, still gives you cards, and reminds you that he’s not going anywhere.  And you realize that God loves you too, you didn’t earn any of it, it’s all grace, and you know it more and more and more.  How much you have been forgiven, and how much Jesus sacrificed to save you, and how you much you are loved.  And you still have occasional bad days where there is grieving, anxiety and even some panic attacks, but you always know you are loved.  And you know that the “happily ever after” is not here on earth, it’s still coming.

When I started to write on the topic, this is what poured out of me.  It’s heavy stuff, and a little scary to hit the publish button, but it’s my story.

Fighter Verses

This week at The Loft we are asked to share our favorite, well worn Scriptures, the ones we keep going back to again and again.  Verses that help us be victorious when we are in spiritual warfare.  This has been my favorite passage in Scripture since I was a young teenager.   

There is very little that can happen in life, that is not in some way covered by the following verses.  Afflictions? Fears? Troubles?  Brokenhearted?  Ashamed?  Poor?  Enemies? How to live life? Need hope? This Psalm puts everything in perspective, starting with worship:

 

       Psalm 34              

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

 

The Loft

 

How about you?  What are your favorite “fighter verses”?

My Greatest Insecurity is….Insecurity (link up with The Loft)

The Loft

The Loft

Recently I joined up with The Loft after hearing about it through one of my favorite bloggers, Arabah Joy.  The topic for writing this week is “Your greatest insecurity”.

I’ve been pondering this one for a few days–trying to pick just one–and realized that insecurity itself is my greatest insecurity!  I simply want my loved ones to be safe, and I want to feel safe.  This is a basic concern for most people, but I have a particular knack for thinking of the worst case scenario in every situation, especially at night when it’s time to sleep.

Painful insecurity comes from having a marriage dissolve after eight years.   A vow I took and intended to last until death was grievously dissolved in a court room one day as if it never happened.  At that time, every aspect of life felt insecure.

Some insecurity relates to health issues and fear of accidents.   I worked as a respiratory therapist in various areas at the hospital and witnessed the effects of numerous diseases, as well witnessing injuries from accidents, violence and mishaps.  Every symptom experienced by myself or my family is a potential cause to run to Dr. Google.  Talk about finding worse case scenarios!

How about the security of living in a long term home? Since leaving my parent’s home 25 years ago at the age of 18, I haven’t lived consecutively in the same home/apartment/trailer for longer than three years.  The moving has often gone hand-in-hand with financial insecurity related to unemployment or job changes.

Natural disasters?  I’ve been in the direct path of two tornadoes.  Violence? I’ve lived within 2 blocks of a man who drove through areas that surrounded our normally peaceful neighborhood one afternoon, randomly shooting as he went to kill others intentionally.  I’ve had a person I trusted threaten to kill me and prevent me from calling for help. Wild animals? I hit a deer with my car 3 times.  No! Let me correct it for the record: The deer have hit ME!  

I’ve had one of those most dreaded phone calls one Sunday morning, hearing that a dear  friend/cousin died suddenly, unexpectedly in the heart of her mothering years.  We waited for several weeks to hear results from the autopsy report that she had a rare heart condition. Life itself is fragile, and it is shattering to lose someone my age.

Being a mom brings up all sorts of insecurity and fears for my children.  When my children were babies, I rarely slept at night, feeling I should be on alert and reassuring myself that they were breathing.  As they grow older, new fears develop. Like a Mama bear, I want to protect them, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The fears and worries about my pregnancy this spring did nothing to stop another miscarriage from happening. I have had two babies in my womb that I simply could not protect.

Last week our pastor preached from Luke 12, the classic passage where Jesus tells his disciples “Do not worry.”  I copied something pastor said in my notes:

We can’t change even the smallest things by worrying.

Confession:  In my head, I get this crazy idea that by anticipating tragedy, perhaps I can prevent it!  Worrying makes me somehow feel more secure, as if I can prevent things from happening by preparing for the worst outcome.

Can I stop another deer from crossing my path?  Can I stop another tornado from forming near my family?  Can I keep my husband safe on his drive home from work? Stop a terrorist attack?

The symptoms of post traumatic stress have affected me over the years, and I have found that counseling and medical help have been beneficial for processing events and managing physical symptoms.

However, when it boils down, the only antidotes to my every day insecurities are two things:  Prayer and thankfulness.

Philippians 4:6-7

 

Prayer

Only the hope of the gospel allows me to cry out to God for freedom from my insecurities, when I am weary of my sin.  I start to feel ashamed, and then don’t want to pray.   If I cannot come to Him to begin with, how do I place all my insecurities in His mighty hand?  How can I pour my heart out to someone that I am afraid of?   The gospel (GOOD NEWS!) reality is that He has forgiven, justified, redeemed me from any insecurity I might have that prevents me from approaching him. Approaching him humbly, confessing my sin, and bravely trusting that I am forgiven enables me to pour my insecurities and worries out to Him in prayer.  Talk about stress relief! (Praise God that we can have mustard seed faith, right?) People!  I have not mastered this yet.  I am preaching the gospel to myself.

Thanksgiving

Just a few weeks ago, Ann Voskamp (guru of gratitude) posted a blog about her daughter asking “Why is there all this loveliness?”  I’ve been pondering that thought.  Aren’t we  also commanded to think about whatever is lovely, good, pure, etc.?  My thoughts naturally tend to mull about the evil, the bad, sickness, death, sin and bad news of the day.  But how about the good? In the midst of insecurity, there is much reason to give thanks. I cannot even tell (it would take pages and pages) all the kindness, friendship, prayers, love and support I have received from the family of God, my family, and my husband.  The comfort and healing from God Himself through the Psalms soothes me without fail, whenever I seek it out.  Then there is the soothing beauty of music and Lake Michigan sunsets and falling stars. Why is there all this loveliness?   A heart focused on gratitude to God builds a fortress against insecurity.

 

 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:17-19)