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2014

It’s the time of year where I say “I don’t make resolutions” and then proceed to come up with some other way to phrase my “hopes and dreams list” or some other silliness. I don’t know why I have such an aversion to the idea of resolutions. Maybe it’s because I know so many people end up breaking theirs that it seems like a recipe for disaster. Maybe it’s my deep rooted fear of not succeeding. You’d think, with my OCD being what it is, I’d embrace the chance to plan out my year 365 days in advance.

This year, I’m looking at it as my to do list. I work well with lists. In fact so well, that I may try on at least a weekly basis to convert The Hubs into a list person. I’d say it’s a work in progress.

So… In no particular order, and for the accountability of the 4 of you out there that read this, is my to do list for 2014;

– Take better care of the body God has blessed me with. How’s that for an outlook change? I’m not in the shape I want to be, very far away from it, in fact. But 2013 reminded me over and over to be thankful, and I cannot start anywhere else but being thankful for being alive, for having the full function of my body. What I’ve done to it… That’s all on me. I own it, I know it, I can change it. And I plan to.

– Not be afraid to ask for what I need. Have you seen the commercial of the woman who can’t sleep? She’s flopping all over the bed and at one point (In her mind) yells at her husband “How can you be sleeping?” That’s me. That was me a lot of 2013. And 2012. I get so caught up in a certain way I expect things to go that I will be stubborn enough to wallow in the way it “Should be”. An example of this? I have caught myself sitting next to To Hubs thinking ” I wish he’d reach out and hold my hand” or ” I could use a hug. I wish The Hubs could sense that and hug me” and then the me who spent too many years in bad relationships will sit there, wondering if I sigh long enough, or look doe eyed at him, he’ll read my mind and know what I need, and if he doesn’t, that poor little girl with baggage that I carry around, she will go without rather then ask. You see there are some days, the poor guy can’t win, and he doesn’t even know there’s anything going on. I know expecting him to psychically know what I need is irrational, but you’d be surprised the number of arguments that have broken out because I needed something and didn’t ask. So this year, if I need something I will ask. Or better yet, I will give. If I need a comforting hug, why not go and give him one? I know I will get one in return. (I know you just read that and uttered an eloquent “Duh, Sharon!” But this honestly is a new revelation for me.

– Speak More. When The Hubs and I were dating, and found ourselves in uncomfortable situations, we’d often remind the other to be “Loud and Proud”. I am a woman who’s faced adversity. A woman who’s stood between a pimp and “his girl”. A woman who’s sat at the bedside of women who’ve lost family, friends, everything they’ve owned, and vowed to protect them. I’ve literally jumped in the middle of fights to break them up. Stood strong while staring down the barrel of a gun. Attended too many funerals for people when it’s been just a few of us shelter workers and the funeral director. I’ve designed programs that change lives. I’ve helped negotiate a union contract (Some of you will know the fortitude THAT takes). I am a strong, smart woman, and it is time to start remembering who I really am. 2014 will see me … Or rather hear me Loud and Proud.

-Talk less. Yes, there is a difference. The hubs and I were in bed not 30 min after watching the ball drop in Time Square. While settling down, and for no reason I can think of, I made a biting comment about someone we both know. Not 30 min into a new year! As soon as the words left my mouth, I looked at him and said “wow!” I knew it wasn’t nice. I knew if they had heard it, it would halve been hurtful to them. I could tell you that this person and I don’t see eye to eye. That I’d been on the stinging end of some of her remarks. But does that matter? Does that excuse my behavior? I cannot say that it will not happen again, but I can say that right now I am making a commitment to stop talking just for the sake of talking. To take seriously gravity of the words I use.

There are other things. Re-focus my daily Devotional time. Read the Bible cover to cover. Unplug more. Drink more water. Laugh more. Be spontaneous. Love harder. Skype more. Be a better friend. Trust. Focus. Change.

Hold on… It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

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#iBelieve

Its that time again!! A new Bible study (that couldn’t come at a more appropriate time) based on Renee Swope’s book A Confident Heart. Yeah, God’s sense of humor isn’t lost on me with this one, ladies and gentlemen…

When I was reading my options for our Blog Hop topics to the Hubs, his response was… “Wow… those aren’t easy choices!” My thoughts exactly!  But if I’m doing this study to face my fears and deal with my doubts head on, there was really only one option for me.  I believe (or my trendy iBelieve… get it?  huh??).

This study has caused me to confront some of my biggest doubts head on, and that has NOT been easy.  (AND we’re only on chapter 2!!) We’ve looked at the story of the Woman at the well (John 4) or Sam, as Renee calls her.  Its not a new story to me. But for some reason, listening to Renee’s take on it, I suddenly found myself seeing it with fresh eyes, and through those eyes, I saw myself.  I’ve struggled her struggles, felt her loneliness, and avoided her tormenters.

But in going through the study this week, its become pretty clear that the tormenters I’ve avoided, the whispers I’ve tried to ignore…they come from me.  From the darkest place’s I’ve not let anyone in.  “I’m not good enough”, “I’m sinking”, “I can’t”…

My past is not a pretty one.  In fact there are parts of it I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, as the saying goes. If people knew me… the me from back then… they would dismiss me in a heart beat.  They would say “Who are you, to preach to us?!”  2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ says This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

6 years ago, I was running a homeless shelter in Toronto.  I was a Single mom, fresh from a very abusive relationship, forced to move back in with my parents, and I burnt out.  HARD. I blamed everyone around me, it was their fault I was in the position I was in.  I went from being a strong confident woman to the role of a victim almost every night.  Everyone was against me.  There are times now, when that mindset comes creeping back.  Romans 8:31 ~ If God is for us, who can be against us?

There are times I can’t figure out Left from Right (not literally, of course) I don’t know if I’m making the right choices, if I’m doing things in the order God intended. Proverbs 3:5-6 ~ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.   I’m scared.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline ~ 2 Timothy 1:7.  There are times I feel completely alone in a crowded room.  The Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you ~  Deuteronomy 31:6  Times I can’t bare to look at the 80+ extra pounds I’ve become in the mirror. Ps 45:11 ~ The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord. Times I feel like I just don’t have the right words, or will know the right thing to do.  And God will generously provide all your need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others ~ 2 Corinthians 9:8.

In my head, in my heart, those doubts screamed. Echoed.  Drowning out everything else.  But saying them out loud.  Typing them here for posterity. There is something freeing in that.  Writing this tonight, every time I came up with another doubt, another excuse, I’d look at the list of God’s promises that Renee compiled in chapter 12 of her book and there it was… Gods promises… His assurances… His #perfectlove there, waiting for me to accept it.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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I miss my Daddy

My friend does a “5 minute word” thing on her blog every Friday.  Today her word was Ordinary.  I’ve never done a 5 minute Friday, and I don’t think today is the day.   But that word.  Ordinary. It got me today.

Today, October 11th, will never be ordinary for me.  People go to work today, people will go out with their friends and enjoy the start to the long weekend.  You can ask people months from now what they did on this day, and they probably wont remember.  I will remember.

Blue Sky Md

3 years ago today, my dad died.  My dad being in the Hospital on a long weekend wasn’t new.  We often joked that he needed the break from the whole family visiting.  So, when I got the phone call saying he was sick just 2 short weeks after his vacation with us, it wasn’t a surprise.  My parents had been on a whirl wind tour of the churches they had pastored, and had spent a month with us in Nashville.  It was expected that it would take its toll on my dad.  He was never really “Healthy as a Horse” as they saying goes. He was sick, but he’d been sick before.  He was in the hospital, but he’d been there before.

October 11th, at 5:30am, The Hubs cell phone rang.  They were calling the family to the hospital. While I was frantically packing a bag, and The hubs was frantically booking a plane ticket for me, we got the second phone call.  The one that said I’d never again hug my dad, or sit on his lap telling him about my day (something I did even into my 20’s).

I wanted to write something meaningful attesting to the fact that I miss my dad today, but its not as simple as that. Not just one day of sadness, in an otherwise ordinary life.  Missing him has become the new ordinary.

I miss my Dad.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Relationship

 

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Al La Peanut Butter Sandwiches…

I remember as a kid, my mom and dad reading me a book about Mumford the Magnificent, one of my favorite sesame street characters.  In the book, he tries to remember the magic words to make his trick works. Ever feel like you’re doing that when you pray? Trying to find the right words to convey your message to God, as if he didn’t already know your heart?

My dad and I were watching a program one night, and the preacher was talking about “Stupid Prayers”.  He said they start with “Lord, Aunt Mary is in the Hospital”… Duh!! God knows that she’s in the hospital!! I know that it isn’t actually a “Stupid Prayer”, but at the time, it sure gave us a chuckle.  Now, whenever I pray, I find myself thinking about that. And about 1,001 other things. Have you ever To-Do list prayed? Sadly, this happens to me more then I’d like to admit. If you don’t know what a “To-Do List” prayer is, let me give you an example.

In the beginning of September, The Hubs and I set out to give our thrift store a make over.  This thrift store actually funds our winter emergency shelter, and the funds weren’t exactly where we needed them to be.  The night before we started, I was very specific in my prayers, praying for each of the volunteers and staff, knowing that change is hard for some people, and praying for specific changes we needed to make.  This reminded me of something I needed to pick up for the makeover.  THAT reminded me that I had a movie that needed to be returned in the same mall.  Then I wondered when I’d find time to do that, and wondered what the Hubs’ schedule was like, and if he could pick it up. But maybe he has a Dr’s appointment. I have to pick up some meds, I wonder if when Walmart opens here, their prescription prices will be cheaper. I hope it opens before Christmas because I need to do some Christmas shopping. Oh wait!! I was praying!!!

Or how about the “Barter” prayer? My soul, my flaws, my mistakes, my hurts my hang ups can all be Yours, Lord, for the low low price of getting me out of this jam.  I’m guilty of this one too.  Especially over the last 2 years while The Hubs has been in and out of the hospital, surgery, stress tests, scary words like heart attack floating around.  I’ve bartered. I’ve begged!

Do you know this one? Or the “Genie” prayer? Lord, I want _______. I’ve been good, I’ve followed Your path for my life, I want _____ and infinity other wishes.

One of my biggest fears is being asked to pray in public.  Its a pretty commonly known fact.  When I was working in Toronto, my boss and I had a code.  I would tap her shoe with my foot and she would pray.  The hubs and I have a deal that I probably shouldn’t admit on here lest it blow my cover.  Because our names are so similar, the deal is if someone asks me to pray, he’ll do it, and then later on we’ll play it off as if we just misheard.  Don’t hear what I’m not saying (not bad, right my southern peeps?) If a person came to me and said “I need you to pray with me”, I’m there.  All over it.  But in front of everyone?  No dice.

The hubs asked me a few weeks back what it was that made me anxious of it.  The truth?  I’m worried I wont say the right thing.  That I will have missed an important part of what was said and pray for the wrong thing, or that my prayer wont measure up to someone else’s prayer. That I’ll flip into To-Do prayer mode, right there in front of everyone!  What if I forget something that I was supposed to pray for?

Growing up as a pastors kid, spending roughly 1,664 Days at Church, not including special occasions, meetings, kids groups etc. etc. etc.  I’ve heard people pray.  I’ve heard some incredible prayers.  But when it comes down to me, sharing my heart like that… the words just don’t come.

I carry a notebook in my bag, put it on my nightstand at bedtime, keep it next to me while sitting on the couch watching TV.  In it I write down peoples prayer requests as they share them. During Prayer time on Sunday mornings, while scrolling through Facebook, talking to friends… as they mention it, I jot it down and then when I find quite space, quite time, I take out my notebook and pray.

I start each day, each prayer, each task asking God to help me focus, to give me the attention to detail needed for what I’m facing.

I’m learning to be comfortable with not having the words. God knows my heart. My fears, my joys, my thankful moments, He knows them.  When I pray , when I don’t know what to say, He knows what’s in my heart when I can’t find the words.

Its a work in progress.

prayer

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Prayer, Relationship

 

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And so starts 34…

I took a walk down memory lane again today. Last year this time (go ahead… click… you know you want to…) the Hubs was just home after a 4 day stint in the hospital after some pretty scary moments in our family.  I felt like everything was falling apart, and was grasping desperately at  the rainbows everyone kept telling me were out there.

33 was crazy! Actually… 32 & 33 were crazy. I thought my husband was dying (which, thankfully wasn’t the case), I thought we were getting ready to adopt a baby, a process we were told would take 1-2 years (at least).  The middle of 33 got a little hairy when we got a frantic call while on vacation about an hour outside of San Antonio from our social worker that meant we had MAYBE 4 weeks to prepare for a sweet baby boy to enter our home.  33 involved a lot of lows… a lot of sacrifice, or so it felt at the time.

I have no idea what awaits around the next turn.  The Hubs would tell probably tell you that not knowing is eating away at me.  And… he may not be far off.  I’m trying to trust. TRYING.

A lot of the circumstances are the same as I start 34.  The baby aches still hit, the Hubs is still sick. I still wake at least 10-15 times during the night to make sure he’s breathing.  2 of our boys still live around the world… too far to comprehend sometimes.

34 will be different.

I have no control over the Hubs health. I can do my best to make sure I don’t take one moment I have with him for granted.

I can’t snap my fingers and make our family grow.  I can make sure that the time I spend with our boys is memorable.

I can’t change the fact that, at times, I feel so inadequate that its hard to function.  I can turn those moments over to God and trust that He will give me rest, as promised.

I can’t change the fact that money isn’t the same for us, and that we’ve had to stretch further then we’ve ever had to stretch before.  I can use these as teachable moments for our whole family (myself included) on how to appreciate the little things, not just the high ticket things we buy to fill a void.

I can’t change the fact that I’m not the me I want to be right now.  I can start here… today… and refocus, renew and recharge.

Before you think I’m focusing on the negative for yet another birthday, I’m really not.   I’ve spent a very long time hiding from who I am, from what makes me…me. I’ve apologized for being who I was, thinking my faults and past defined me.  I’m pretty tired of that.  Just today, I was griping to the Hubs that people who are two-faced are probably my biggest pet peeve, but when I stop to think about it, not being myself, the good bad and ugly… that’s a kind of two-faced… So maybe its time I take off my own mask.

I take today, this year as a challenge.  Step out, say yes more, get uncomfortable, push boundaries, rediscover what I love, what makes me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend.  I don’t know how it will work out… the path of self discovery is often littered with baggage , costumes and relationships shed along the way.  But… I’ll keep you posted… I expect it will be filled with a lot of moments like this…

life

 

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Inspired by Obedience (a day early even!)

I’ve always been a bit of a different character.  I think that’s the polite way to say it.  As far back as I can remember, I’ve balked at authority, pushed the limits with rules, and generally made my own “Normal”.  Rules make me roll my eyes, and I’ve been known to say “Well, that’s just too bad, it needs to be done my way!” WAY more than is healthy for someone who’s spent their life in ministry. Don’t get me wrong, The Hubs can be just as head strong as me, but he manages it better. M-U-C-H better (Most of the time)!

So, what do you get when you mix 2 very head strong people with some serious baggage and “Church Hurts”?  What we got was 6-8 months where the thought of entering a church door caused anguish.  It was NOT a good time for us, for our relationship, for our souls.  Thankfully a friend invited us to her church (pastors kids…. we’re always looking out for each other), and not really knowing why, we said yes.  We went… we had a plan… in, be seen, out.  EASY.  Or so we thought.

We walked into that church and it literally changed our lives.  In all honesty, it probably saved our relationship with our families and with each other.  A church full of hurting people awaited us in those pews, and told us it was ok to be hurt, it was ok to be mad, but it wasn’t ok to turn our backs on the only source of True Peace.  The Hubs, having spent 9 years previous as a pastor, was “home”.  Where he needed to be at that time.  Me, I was better… not great, but better. Life went on.  We had bumps, hiccups, even a couple road blocks, but life… as far as I knew… didn’t get much better than this.

Then we hit that fateful night.  The conversation that brought us here.  You’ve read how it went for me, (If not, click here to check it out… I’ll wait… go ahead… 🙂 how the Hubs telling me he wanted to go back to ministry as a pastor ripped my world apart.

Up until now I never looked at it from HIS side.  Imagine struggling with “putting off” God’s calling. (Not hard to imagine for those of us who are doing it right now).  Hubs knew, by telling me, that he was opening a door he couldn’t close.

The courage it must have taken, knowing how long and how hard we had tried to grow our family.  The struggles of fertility issues, of miscarriages. The nights he spent trying to console me as my heart cried out for a baby that seemed like it was never coming. And even though he knew it would mean that our adoption plans went on hold, he knew what he HAD to do.

He knew that a 75% pay cut would be hard to swallow.  He knew that I had sworn long ago that my kids wouldn’t grow up as I had, moving from city to city, never having a “childhood friend” for more then a couple years before it was time to go on to the next place.  He knew that asking me to go and be a pastors wife would stretch me beyond my wildest dreams.  He knew that with my history of “running” that he could tell me and I’d say “Nope, this isn’t what I signed up for” and leave.

He knew all those things, but more than that…. he knew he had no choice.  He knew that his obedience to Gods calling outweighed all those things, and he knew he had to take the chance.  I can’t imagine the stress, the anxiety he would have felt in those days leading up to his breaking point.

His willingness, his NEED to put himself out there, and say “This is what I have to do” inspires, challenges and confronts me every day.  I may not always remember to tell him, or to act like it, but not a moment goes by without me knowing how Blessed I am to have him as my husband and best friend.

As I work through the struggle of my own life in ministry, however that may look, it is because of The Hubs support that I have the courage to look at MY options in all of this.

us

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Adoption, Babies, Bible Study, McHubby, Mess, Move, Prayer

 

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Aside

I feel like I should rename my blog a day late and a dollar short… or something witty like that.  I was on the road yesterday so I couldn’t type at the risk of loosing my cookies. (which only almost happened twice during the twitter party, thank you very much, but I digress)

When we found out we were moving to Salmon Arm, there was a lot of excitement in our house, to say the least.  Nervous excitement about what laid ahead.  Within a few days, The Hubs received an email that included “Dates to Remember”. Listed in that email is words I’ve never really liked. “Leadership Camp August 26-29, 2013”.  The moment those words registered in my head, a seed was planted.  Actually not a seed.  A seed brings to mind pretty flowers. What I had was more of a pit.

For 7 weeks we trucked along. The topic of Leadership would come up, and I would deflect, change the topic… anything to stop the pit that was growing. The Hubs printed off registration forms for all of us and I said “I think this camp if just for ministers.  Child III and I will stay home”. Reluctantly he agreed.  When he emailed a question about accommodations, a response came back including the words “Which will be great for your son”. Ugh! We are included in the invitation!  Almost in tears, I reluctantly agree to go. The pit was growing…

Even up to the day before we left, I was looking for an excuse not to go. “We can’t really afford to board the dog”, or “Well, its so close to when school starts”… the excuses even started to sound weak to me.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn, or didn’t want to really go even.  My anxiety came from the unknown. Going to camp, I wasn’t in control. There would be people I didn’t know, doing activities I had no idea about.  THESE are the things that set off the growing anxiety I had.  What if they asked me to do something I “Couldn’t” do?  What if they were watching me to see how I reacted to certain things (which I’m not terribly convinced they weren’t, BTW). New people, New experiences, New people to see through this thin veil of “Got it together” that I’m struggling to hold up. What if I didn’t say the right things, or made a fool of myself?

We arrived at Camp Sunday night, and got our registration packets.  I opened it up and was actually really excited about the first 2 days. Business stuff. HR, PR… I could handle those things, I actually love those things!!  They had a morning of all the new people together. Then… there it was… Group work. SMALL group work. Instantly my anxiety went into hyper drive, and the voice of worry began to grow until it was all I could hear.  And camp hadn’t even started yet!

I began to flip through the material we’d be covering in our small groups.  The process was called “Encounter God”.  What it entailed was covering some pretty personal topics like Rebellion, Addiction, Sex, Cults etc. etc. The small group exercises were to go as follows; One person would confess their sins in the category they were covering, and the other two would pray with them through the admittance and forgiveness process. And then on to the next category.

I’ve never pretended to be a perfect pastors wife. I’ve never denied the troubled past that has led me to where I am today.  One of the greatest joys in my marriage is the fact that The Hubs and I have no secrets.  Being best friends for 16 years, you share with that person things you may not even tell your spouse… and we didn’t think anything of it because we were BEST friends.  We’ve seen the good the bad and the UGLY in each other. The things that this group was asking me to share were THESE things. The things only my husband knew. Things I still have nightmares about. Things that I’m still working to heal from, even 12-13 years later.  Although these things have made me who I am today, they are things that I am NOT prepared to share with total strangers.

As I sat there, reading these things we were to be doing, my anxiety grew.  As we went through the sessions, as we met people, as we worshiped together, nothing could quiet these fears, and by the time Tuesday night came, I was sitting in my cabin having a full blown panic attack as The Hubs sat across from me completely lost as to what to do.  The anxiety attack led to a migraine, which gave me the excuse to huddle in my bunk, closing off the outside world and giving in to the anxiety and fear that had surrounded me these last few months.

Great behavior for a #palmsup #YesToGod woman right?

As I lay there Tuesday and Wednesday, feeling lost, confused and convinced I’d messed up any chance of these people taking me serious as a leader, or as a sane person for that matter, my phone buzzed and the email I got was titled “There’s No Easy Button” from Proverbs 31 Ministry.

It was as if a light bulb went off.  God had laid the perfect #SayYes moment at my feet, and I said “No. Its too hard. I can’t.” Through the 7 weeks of anxiety, the fear, the physical illness from worry… not once did I turn to God with it.  Not once. In that moment, feeling as low as possible, feeling alone, feeling like I was destroying not only my relationship with these new people but also with my husband, I cried out to God.  But why did it take me so long?

In those moments I poured it all out.  The months of anxiety, the fear of being rejected, the pain of reliving those moments I didn’t want to share. I pulled out my bible. I flipped to passage after passage. I wrote page after page in my journal, and in the end, peace started to set in.

The last day of Camp, I attending the closing session and what I learned was that I wasn’t the only one who was uncomfortable with the groups, with the subject matter. I…wasnt…alone.  These people who I was scared of… they struggled too! These people I looked at who had everything under control… they were like me. Except they said Yes, when I said No.

 

 

 

Ugh, But at least I decided to #StickWithIt

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized