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How’s Your Month Going?

I picked up my daughter from school and when she got in the car  I informed her that we had to go pick up Star (our cat) from the vet.  She instantly asked why? and I cringed trying to decide how honest I should be.

I went with complete honesty hoping that God would give me the grace and wisdom to guide my 10yr old daughter through more bad news.

I looked at her and told her that I had run over Star pulling into the garage that morning and he took off.

Her face quickly turned to a look of horror and I quickly told her that he was ok and we were going to pick him up.

As I pulled out of the school parking lot I heard her exclaim that February was a crappy month and that she couldn’t wait for March to get here.

I understood more than she knew because I had the same conversation with God early that morning.  I had told God that I thought February was a cursed month for me. I was trying to understand how any good could possibly come from losing our beloved Star.  I knew that I had completely run over him.  I heard the howl and fully expected to have to clean up his body from under the car.  So when he wasn’t there all I could think was that he wouldn’t make it far and would more than likely bleed out somewhere close by.  I tried calling and searching for him not because I thought I could do anything but so I could tell him I was sorry and allow the kids to bury him.  I left the house that morning heart broken trying to figure out how to tell the kids and what exactly to tell them.  I knew that if I ever saw him again it would be a miracle so when I arrived home that afternoon to see him trying to make his way across the driveway to me  I broke down crying.  I scooped him up and went straight to the vet.  I told them what happened and that I couldn’t afford to do a life saving surgery but if by some miracle he had a chance of surviving on his own then I would take him home.  I just didn’t want him to suffer a long slow death so if he was seriously injured and slowly dying I wanted to put him down.  I left the vet that afternoon still trying to figure out what to tell my children.

An hour later I received a call from the vet to inform me that Star had no internal bleeding and doesn’t appear to have any broken bones.  He  is very sore but he is getting around on his own so he should recover.

That’s when I heard God answer my question……..

I turned around and looked at my daughter and said

If all of those crappy things hadn’t happened this month we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience God’s miracles for ourselves.  So maybe February is a month of miracles and we are blessed to have had the opportunity to experience them.  Perhaps the greatest thing we can do now is share with others the things that God has done for us.

Her little face softened as she realized the truth of my words and then began talking about our miracles….

Her mom was alive! ( I had 2 car accident’s within 4 days… the second was very serious)

God sent people in our paths to help when we needed it the most.

Her pet baby bearded dragon was alive ( his eye exploded while sitting on her lap and was bleeding out his head)

I don’t know what your month has been like but I hope you can find encouragement and perhaps a new perspective if it has been a difficult one.  Paul warns us of the trials that we will face and reminds us to work at staying faithful and trusting God to know what he’s doing even when we can’t see it.  I’m not worried about next month or even how I’ll replace my cars because what matters most is what I believe about God.

I believe God is good and I hope you do too!

 

 

Thank You …….For The Little Things……….. That Matter To Me

I heard some dj’s talking on the radio this week and they were asking the listeners when the last time was that they had experienced God? How did I as a listener know that God was real and alive? And what was the evidence that I had seen of his existence?   Now just in case your wondering this was christian radio.

One of the dj’s experienced God’s amazing power over the weekend and he wanted others to share their stories so that other listeners could be encouraged.  So this immediately brought to mind several stories that I have tucked away but since he asked for the most recent one that is the one I will share.

About a month ago my daughter convinced me to let her purchase a baby bearded dragon.  Now I was not crazy about the idea for several reasons.

1   I already feed 3 children and 2 outdoor cats why do I want to add a reptile who eats bugs to the mix?

2   They are creatures that need heat and more than I like to provide in the winter in Ohio.

3   Who is going to pay for it?

4   It means I will have to learn about them…….because I will end up having to take care of it at some point.

Long story short here….. she convinced me when she showed me a video proving that they eat wolf spiders!

I absolutely hate spiders so anything that would take care of them for me becomes my best friend. hmmm (I wish I could put a smiley here but I don’t know how….sad face here!)     This how Maleficent came to be part of our family.

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She is a tiny thing still and loves to be with someone.  If she is left alone too long she gets stressed and I’ve discovered sunlight is much better for her than the lamps you buy at the store.  Because of this I have started taking her around with me particularly when I am outside so that she gets sunlight.  I have learned a lot from this little lizard in the last 4 weeks and have grown quite fond of her.  I’ve wondered why God created this particular creature and his motive or reasoning behind it…..until last Thursday.

I had gotten home from working that morning and I only had a short amount of time to get a lot done before I had to leave again.  I quickly turned on the stove to warm up some food for lunch and then I went and picked up Mel (that’s what we call her for short).  I placed her on my shoulder tucked just under the edge of my jacket since it was a little chilly outside.  I then headed outside to hang some clothes on the line so that they would dry.  I had gotten about half of the basket up when I remembered I had turned on the stove and started my lunch.   I took off running for the house figuring it would be filled with smoke and I would be cleaning my pan instead of eating.  I was blessed and my food was ok…not burnt!

But wait!

Where is Mel?

Crap! What if I dropped her?

I’ve carried her all over and she is really good about hanging on.  But I can’t find her…

I quickly look on the floor between me and the door and no sign.

I run outside to the clothes line looking and calling like she would actually come….(she is too little yet to do that)

I run back inside to stand in front of the mirror.  Maybe she is in my hair and I can’t see her?

I quickly take off my jacket, turn it inside out.  Off goes my shirt and I’m looking in the mirror to see if she is hanging on somewhere and I’m just missing her.

No Mel…..my daughter is going to kill me.

How am I going to find her?

I ran to the front door,  took 3 steps off the side of the porch….then I stopped and look out into the yard.  The path I had taken from the clothes line to the house was covered with leaves.  There were leaves everywhere yellow and brown the same color as her, not to mention she is only 6 inches long.  If she was out there she was going to be difficult to find.  These lizards don’t make noise and I’ve learned that they like to hide.

So I did what I do so frequently when I lose my keys.  I said….. God you know where she is.  You know how important she has become to us.  You know how heartbroken my daughter will be if I don’t find her and you know how sad I will be that it was my fault.  You also know how much fun I have had with her and how she has slowly warmed my heart.  Help me find her please.

I started to turn back to the house and for whatever reason I picked up my left foot.  There underneath my foot was Mel!  She was right in the arch of my foot and her little face was looking up at me.  If she could talk I wondered what she would say.

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That experience had God written all over it.  The first time I ran into the house I kicked off my flip flops…..If I hadn’t done that she would be dead!  But God knew what he was doing.  He knew how impossible finding her in all those leaves were and he also knew how perfectly my foot would land on top of her so that I would find her but that she wouldn’t be hurt.

How perfect is that?

God also answered my questioned….He created them for enjoyment……To play with and have fun.

He also revealed something else…cold blooded animals need warmth to stay warm, they reflect the temperature just like we reflect God.  Without God touching us….giving us light….warming our hearts…..

We would be cold and dead inside.

1John 4: 16-17

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love.

Whoever lives in love, lives in God

and God in him.

In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement

because in this world we are like him.

Psalm 23 God’s Provision

God has provided me with this house and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to make it my home.

God has provided me with this house and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to make it my home.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters.

I listened to a  sermon recently that was on Psalm 23 and it was the first 2 verses that intrigued me.

The speaker shared how over in the middle east you don’t find pastures of green grass like we see over here.  Shepherds in that area would spend all day sometimes looking for patches of grass to feed their sheep for that day.  This was not always an easy job for them and finding water for their sheep could be just as challenging.

The Lord is my shepherd so he will find the grass I need for today.  I shall not be in want.  God will never leave me without shelter or food to eat.  So I say and meditated on that………I may not have the latest gadgets or trendy wardrobe but my children and I will be taken care of for the day.  I don’t have to know where our food will come from next week because next week isn’t here and God could lead me to another pasture that I cannot yet see.

I’ve learned to be pretty savvy with my money and manage it wisely.  I have zero credit card debt and own 3 cars which are all paid for.

However I just signed a lease to rent a house because I am being forced to move.  I have to admit I have worried some about this since my income is so little. My motto the last few years leading up to this moment has been that God will provide the perfect house, at the perfect time, at the perfect place, for the perfect price.

Boy did God do that!

God brought me to this little blue house out in the country and it is more than I could’ve ever dreamed of asking for.  But it is exactly what God knew that I needed.  It is so perfect to the tiniest detail that I know it is Gods provision for us.  The challenge for me has been believing that God could bless me with something so wonderful.  I have struggled for so long and when I put the figures down on paper it doesn’t look possible.  I have prayed about it a lot because I really don’t want to make the wrong decision and end up in a bad spot, not to mention I didn’t have the money they were asking for up front…………..God provided though through someone anonymously giving me exactly what I needed to come up with.  That is not something I asked for or even saw coming but it was God providing for me because I am his daughter and he wants to meet my needs if only I have the courage and faith to let him.  I know going into this my expenses will exceed the income that I can bring in and amazingly……. I am not laying in bed at night worrying about what I’m going to do.  Instead I wake up each morning and thank the Lord for blessing me with the opportunity to make this house my home.  I know that there is no need of mine that is too big for God’s wallet.  I may not always like the way that he provides for me but I have learned to be thankful and humble which has given me the privilege of witnessing some miracles that I can now share with others.

I know that there are a lot of Christians out there who would disagree with my decision.  Even Dave Ramsey would have a problem with my decision and would probably say that I need to get another job.  I am not sharing this to justify why I have made this decision but rather to be an example to others of how God has worked in my life through my financial struggles.

My options if I were to find a place with in my budget responsibly speaking would consist of……… living with someone else, government housing,  or finding a small 2 bedroom apt in a bad area of town for me to cram all 4 of us into.  I don’t know about you but I don’t think that if I am God’s princess any of those options are acceptable.

I have spent a good portion of my life working 40+ hours a week just trying to make ends meet.  I did whatever I could to make money in order to provide for my family.  All of the stress of working and keeping up with 4 kids as a single mom wore me out to the point that I couldn’t function.  It seemed that no matter how hard I tried we were barely scraping by.  I sacrificed so much emotionally and spiritually in my life to do what I thought I needed to do.

Now let me clarify here so you don’t get the wrong idea here because I was not working this hard to have 2 fairly new cars and a 4 bedroom house with a nice yard.  I was working this hard to keep 2 old vehicles running and a small 2 bedroom house that was falling apart.  I have spent most of my life time living beneath the poverty level and a lot of time trying to rise above it.

I have seen God’s hand personally in the first part of the scripture in the sense that even though I have been in some tough financial positions I have seen God provide with just enough to cover our needs time and time again.

It is the second part of the scripture here that I am experiencing for probably the first time in my life.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

That is to rest, to let go, to do nothing???????  Really?

Not just rest but God MAKES me lies down in abundance?  Am I getting this right?

I always believed that in order for God to provide I had to do something like work, or ask the right people for help or even maintain the right relationships………..come on now be honest……. we all have those friends with the pool in the backyard and if you don’t, you are probably that friend with the pool in their backyard.

Ps 23:2 implies that I have to do nothing……

In fact it implies that God insists that I rest and do nothing.  So what if I surrender all my efforts to God and lay down to watch what he does in my life?

As I look back over the last 9 months I can see how God has been forcing me to lie down in green pastures.

Last January I ended up in the Hospital for the second time in 2 years.  It was there that I was told I should apply for SSD.  I told the woman that it was ridiculous and that I could work and had been working.  She looked at me and said

” But you are here because it is not working for you.  If you want to get better you need to take a break from working before it kills you.”

I left the hospital and the thought bounced around inside my head for a few weeks before I decided to go ahead and apply.  I was told by my Doctor “Good Luck!  It will take you like 2 years to get it”  I figure in 2 years I wouldn’t need it so if it was what God wanted he would take care of it.

Long story short here….I did get SSD within 6 months and I saw doors fly open for me on the journey that people said I would have a hard time opening.

SSD is not enough to live on but it helps make ends meet so I can be the mom my children need me to be.  I have been learning through all of this that it is not me who earns the money but rather God who provides it.

Just like the green grass just for today I have what I need for each day and I may not know about tomorrow but I have total confidence in my shepherds ability to lead me to the green pastures that I need.

I’ve learned that when something crosses my path whether it is an opportunity to work or way to get assistance I listen to the promptings of my spirit.  Some times God even places people in my path with whom I can share my story with.  I’ve found that sharing my struggles allows others to reach out and meet a need that I have.  This type of experience can be quite humbling and I am learning to not be ashamed of my situations but to be open to allowing God to use them so that He can be Glorified through my unpleasant situations.  All of this takes a willingness on my part to be vulnerable before others and is something that can be risky but for me that risk has paid off on more than one occasion.

I just want to encourage you today to ask yourself if your overworked or if the numbers on the paper are in red……..

Take the time to rest before God forces you to and listen to the directions he gives you not the words of the world.

All the “shouda, coulda’s and what if’s” aren’t going to help you but God can lead you out of your situation if you listen and follow.

Disclaimer…..I am not saying to go buy a boat when you don’t have the money and expect God to pay for it or lead you to someone who will give you the money for it.  But if you want a boat pray about it and talk to people.  God just might surprise you and send someone across your path that is willing to give you a boat.

I am saying that if you don’t see how your going to meet the basic needs of your family you can trust God.  He is faithful and he wants to provide for you if you just let go and give him the control.

Dear Neighbor

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I’m sorry I don’t remember your name….

I know I probably should……..

I’ve been told it a number of times…..

I know…….

I’ve smiled and waved Hi!

Only a gazillion times ……..

and yet…..

I still don’t remember your name.

But……..

There is one thing that I will remember about you when I’m gone.

I’ll never forget our first Christmas in this house.

That November evening when the sun went down and all the Christmas lights came out.

My son was only 2 at the time,  and there he sat on the back of my couch….He was peering out our big picture window in total amusement of what he saw.

There before him was a giant Christmas train!  It was all lit up with the wheels  rolling and smoke billowing.  He had a front row seat with which to view this spectacular scene.  I didn’t know at the time that I too had a front row seat to a scene of my own.

See every year my kids would know that Christmas Day was near based on whether or not your train was up.  The night it appeared the count down for Christmas officially began.

We noticed the year that vandals came and knocked it down.  They broke pieces of it and my children thought it was gone for good.

The following year we didn’t see it at all.  Convinced that it was officially gone we moved on with our Holiday festivities for that year.

Then one November night

The Christmas train returned…..

And I once again..

Had a front row seat to the smiles on children’s faces.

I know that you worked hard every year to put up that train…

I know when it was knocked down it took time to repair.

I would see you over there with flashlights working so hard in the dark.

I may not have ever said anything about your hard work, but I did notice.

I also know that my children are not the only children that your train brought great  joy to.

I watched many children in my house over the years and they would all take turns sitting in  my big picture window watching your train.  The opportunity to witness the joy that it brought them, the first time they would see it…… was priceless.

This year my son is 12 and I heard him say the other day “Hey Mom it’s almost Christmas….The Christmas train is up!”

I smiled……

Then quickly turned away as I shed a tear.

We will be moving next year and although you can’t come with us, the memories you gave us will never leave us.

So I want to thank you for all of the work you put into that Christmas train year after year.

I want you to know that your neighbor noticed

I want you to know the joy that it brought the children who came in and out of my house.

Matthew 6;19 says do not store up your treasures on earth but store them in heaven, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The treasure here is not in the train that took so much time and work every year.   I’m sure that it has value here on earth, but the real treasure is in the joy that I was able to witness in the children that came and went.   I had a front row seat to one of the best shows around and you gave me that treasure.  Your train made it possible so now  I want you to have a piece of that treasure too.

I may not remember your name….

But I will never forget……

How you’ve blessed our lives.

And so I Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Lesson’s in an Epic Failure

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of 20-30 youth, I wasn’t exactly thrilled since I have never spoken to a group like  that before.  Now speaking isn’t necessarily new because I’ve spoken at board meetings and small bible studies surrounded by friends but as far as a group of people I don’t know well……. to share something that God has placed on my heart, it was a first.  It all came about because the week before I found myself sitting in the back of the sanctuary as one of the leaders was giving the lesson and God began to press upon my heart to share a lesson I had struggled to learn that was along the same lines of topic being taught.  I went home and spent 3 days just praying about it and asking God what it was exactly I was supposed to share.  I knew the point and I knew the story I just wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to say it.  I am a writer so I’m used to planning out everything going down on paper and if I don’t think it sounds like what I’m trying to say I can always go back and reword things.  Speaking however is completely different and once a word is spoken there is no taking it back.  You can try to explain and maybe the listener will understand but maybe they won’t.

Sunday morning came and I found the courage to ask the leader if I could share.  The response was put together an outline with supporting scripture on the topic you would like to share and get back with me.  I went home thinking more about what I should say and the possible verses that would go with it.  After some prayer I came up with an outline and scriptures to go along.  I wouldn’t say that I was nervous,  I was just curious where God was going with this.  I didn’t think that I was qualified to be speaking and wasn’t sure how I would be received.  I also wasn’t convinced it would all come out the way I wanted it to either.  I have this problem that when I get in front of people my mind freezes and I can’t think straight so most of the time I don’t say much.  At a board meeting I’m usually just giving facts on a situation and it’s nothing personal.  This was different and knew that by sharing I had the ability to speak into the lives of others.  I didn’t want to say something wrong and negatively affect the lives of these kids.  My purpose was to share a struggle I’ve had in my own walk with God in hopes that it might encourage them and perhaps bring freedom to someone.

The night came and I thought I had realistic expectations of the evening.  I knew it wasn’t going to come out the way I wanted it to and I also knew that it might be an epic failure.  I did however know that it was what God was asking of me and that he would give me the words to say.  I also knew that he could take anything I said wrongly and fix it.  This was for God and no one else,….. so really no matter what happens it was in his hands.

I started with this prayer.

Lord,

I come before you tonight and thank you for all of the precious souls you have brought here tonight.  I thank you for the opportunity to speak to them and that you would soften their hearts so that might hear and see the words that are spoken.  I ask that you give them understanding and that my words might glorify you.  I pray also for your protection over us as we go home tonight and as we go through the next week.  I ask this all in Jesus name Amen.

After that I’m not really sure what I said.  I know what I intended to say and I know at some point I froze and wasn’t sure where I was at or where I was going.  I prayed and just let go of every expectation had.

What I tried to say was that just because I’m now a Christian doesn’t mean I’m never going to make a mistake again.  I used to think that if I was truly a Christian it meant that I would be given the ability to do the right thing all of the time.  Because that didn’t happen I was constantly asking Jesus into my heart.  I thought that somehow I must not have done something right if I kept screwing up.  I would hear of drug addicts and alcoholics who would change in one day.  I used to think that because I couldn’t just change at the snap of my fingers like they did, that something was wrong.  What a lie the enemy told me.  I knew all of the sin in my heart that I struggled with, we all have it and we all struggle with it.  Most of us hide it from everyone afraid to tell.  We are afraid of the judgment, afraid we have somehow not done something right.  The truth is……being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t struggle with same sins but rather we are forgiven and free from them.  I guarantee you will still struggle but the battle is won and the world will take every opportunity to tell you of all the negative things that you are.  You can listen to the world and believe what it tells you or you can listen to God.  You can’t just know in your mind what the scripture says you are.  You have to believe it.  For the longest time I knew in my head what God said I was, but I didn’t believe it.  The world was constantly telling me all of these negative things about me and because I could see it myself it was so easy to believe.  I knew that God said I was beautiful, smart, and funny but to the world I also knew that I was ugly, stupid, and worthless.  I always told myself that it didn’t matter what the world thought of me because one day I would be in heaven where the truth was and I would be free.  What I learned after years of struggling is that it’s not enough to just know the truth of what God says of me.  I can be told a million times that God loves me and that he says I’m beautiful, but that didn’t help me believe because that was not how I was treated.  Not even by the church.

 1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is….Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought lay down our lives for our brothers.  Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth,  this then is how we know that we belong to the truth,  and this is how we put our hearts at rest whenever our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything
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I had been told by people and read in the bible over and over how special I was to God but what I didn’t experience was that truth followed up by action.  It wasn’t until someone actually took the time to show me by their actions that I truly began to believe the truth in God’s word.  This is why it is so important that our actions match the words out of our mouths especially since we all know actions speak louder than words.  What are your actions telling the people in your life?  How can you show the person next you that you love them?

Below is a little something that I read to myself when all I can hear is the world telling me how bad I am.

Daughter of the King

Listen to yourself

What are you saying?

Did you screw up?

Do you think you are stupid?

Are you crazy, fat, ugly or worthless?

You would never tell anyone…..would you?

You hide it inside

Ashamed of the truth of who you think you are.

Is it really you?

Stop!

Listen again

Do you hear it?

There’s a faint whisper

What do you hear?

What is it saying?

You’re smart

You’re sane

You’re the beautiful daughter of a King

Listen closely

It gets louder

Louder every time you hear

Louder with each word

Till it SCREAMS and you can no longer deny

Deny who you are

Smart, Sane, Beautiful daughter of a King

Not just any King

The King

The King of all kings

He has claimed you

You are his

To him you are smart, sane, beautiful

Perfect just the way you are

Precious daughter of the King

I know I’m not perfect and I also know that everything didn’t come out the way that I wanted it to that night.  I do know that I was obedient to what God asked me to do and that I did it to glorify him.  I also think some might think it was an epic failure or so I heard.  What I didn’t expect in all of this is that God would give me the opportunity to walk out what I just shared in my own life.  The test came just 15 minutes after I finished.  The world telling me I was wrong this time it was even in words.  I had a choice what was I going to believe?

I curled in the stairwell and prayed searching for the truth in the words I had heard.  I went home that night and a friend prayed with me asking God to please convict me of anything that I may have shared that was wrong and if not to please show me clarity in the situation.

I woke up early the next morning to go for my run and while I was out God began to speak.

Monica,

Didn’t you just speak on not listening to who the world says you are but to who I say you are?

Yes Lord.

Who do I say you are?

I am your beloved daughter.

Did you get up and speak because I asked you to?

Yes Lord I did

Then your motive was pure and you were obedient to the calling I gave you.  I am the one who determines if it was a failure, not those other people.

There is a lesson here.  You didn’t exactly do as I asked.  You did what you thought they wanted not what I asked of you.  You took your story and tried to teach it.  That is not your talent.  Your talent is telling stories whether it be in writing or speaking.  Follow my son, did he teach? Or did he tell parables?

He told parables!

Monica,   sometimes our epic failures are simply to show us what we are not good at, so we can discover what we are good at.  You my darling, are good at parables, don’t try to teach, let the lessons come naturally through your story and they will be more meaningful to your audience.

I’m sure there are people in my life who might read this and judge me harshly and I don’t care.  I used to, but I’ve given up caring what anyone in this world thinks of me.  I know my savior is tucked safely in the core of my being, breathing life into each beat of my heart.  I will say that it is easier to believe what God says about me when the church backs up those words with action.  But even if they don’t, I’ve learned to believe in the truth of God’s word and its through his grace that I am able to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me.


 

SPIDER!

Worlds Largest Spider

A familiar scream pierced through the cool night air and I turned quickly to see my 2 daughters jumping out of the car.  Tori who is 14 and Christy who is 8., had chosen to wait in the car and play on the I Pad and Kindle while I ran into a few stores with my oldest daughter Alison who was in search for a Homecoming dress.  We just so happened to be walking from one store in the shopping plaza to the next when I heard the scream.  I turned to Alison and told her to go on while I took care of the other 2.  It was late and the stores would be closing soon and we only had 4 more days before the big day so I really didn’t have time for the commotion at the car.

My guess was that there was a spider somewhere in the car and it needed to be dealt with.  Now I’m not really a fan of spiders and quite frankly I try to ignore them  because I really can’t handle it.  I figure if I pretend they are not there then they cease to exist in my mind.  My children however cannot do that…. so this time I must suck it up and go squash the little bugger.

As I approach the car their screams confirm what I already guessed and yes it is a monstrous spider by their description and it had been crawling up Tori’s leg when she discovered it.

I take a deep breath secretly wishing once again that I was not a single Mom and that I had some man in  my life that I could call to come deal with this thing.

Tori holds up her hands to show me that it is 3 inches in diameter and tells me its on the side of the seat between the floor and the edge.

I slowly peak into the car…..the adrenaline, rushing through me as I struggle to remain calm.

The back seat is covered with school bags and miscellaneous stuff that piles in the car with them every day.  All I can think about is how there are lots of places for this thing to run and hide under.  If this thing is really as big as she describes it, it is probably a wolf spider and there is no way I am driving home with one of those in the car.

So her I am standing there trying to get a good look at this thing and I can see what appears to be long legs but I can’t quite make it out.  I figure that if I can get some of the stuff out I might have a better chance of killing it before it hides on me.

Suddenly I hear voices behind me and I turn to see a young couple walking to one of the last cars in the parking lot.

“You wouldn’t mind killing a large spider for me please!”  I plead with the young man.

He hangs his head and says ” I knew you were going to ask me that and no I don’t want to kill a spider.”

“I really don’t like spiders either” he says as he is backing away

Great the guy is even afraid of them,  my spirit deflates again as I turn back to my car.

“Wait! I want to see it first.”  the girl with him shouts as she runs over to look into the car.

I point to where the spider is supposed to be and she leans over attempting to get a visual of it, but she can’t.  It’s too dark and of course she doesn’t want to get too close either.    She decides to pull out her phone to try to take a picture of it so we can see what were dealing with.  As the flash goes off the thing jumps at her and all of us scream and jump away.  Petrified and shaking we look to see what is now sitting on the seat of the car and it is HUGE….Really HUGE!  In fact I don’t think I have ever seen a grasshopper this big.  We all start to laugh hysterically.  At this point  another car pulls up having heard the commotion and the man asks us ” are you alright?”

We all turn to him and explain that what we thought was  a giant spider has turned out to be a giant grasshopper.  He kindly offers to remove the grasshopper for me and I graciously accept his offer.  I am so relieved while thankful and so appreciative for his help.

On the way home I begin to thank God for sending someone to help me and I hear God speaking back to me.

Monica,

Do you know how many spiders you think you see in your life?  How many times do you look at situations and freak out because you think it is a giant spider.  If you would just let me shine my light on it perhaps you would find that your spiders…..are simply grasshoppers.

We all have spiders in our lives.  Some of them look big and we simply want to squash and run.  Some we would simply prefer to ignore as long as there is no immediate threat.  Perhaps what we really need to do is STOP!

Really look at the spider and determine the truth through Gods light.

Is it really a spider?  Maybe its not.  May be it is.

If it is…… Gods light will show you how to get rid of it and if its not……… you’ll get to enjoy the surprise and relief of conquering a fear.

 

Ps 34:4

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.

The One Thing

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I was sitting at my kitchen table eating dinner with my youngest daughter who is now eight years old.  She is the youngest of my four kids and on this particular night we were on our own since the other three were off with extra curricular activities.  As I sat there watching her eat I began to wonder if I was doing what I needed to with her.  Was I teaching her the most important thing?  I have been so busy in her little life with her siblings that I really haven’t had the time I wish I had.  I have ten years left with her and then she is off to college.

What is the one thing I want to her to know when she leaves?  What is the one thing I would want her to know if I died tomorrow?  What is the one thing I would like her to achieve?  I know these are deep questions to ask yourself over dinner with a little girl but they are questions I think every parent should ask themselves at some point before it’s too late.

I sat there pondering my own questions.  The one thing that I would like her to know before she goes off to college is that God loves her, faults included and will never leave her because he gives her more grace than she could possibly need to cover any mistakes she may make.

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The one thing I would want her to know if I were to die tomorrow…..

That I loved God more than anything in this world and to know that I had an intimate relationship with my Savior.

The one thing I would like to see her achieve…..

I long to see her develop a personal relationship with God that will carry her through life’s worst trials.

Nothing else really matters.

If she goes to college or goes to work.  Does she get married or have kids?  Or how about the harder things like does she drink, smoke or do drugs?  What if she screws up and gets arrested or even pregnant.  It doesn’t really matter because I know that God will use the negative to draw her closer to him and the positive to bless her.

I hear of how some parents have a very difficult time “letting go” of their children. Letting go was something I had to do when I had my first child nearly 17 yrs ago.  I remember that night clearly as if it were yesterday.  It was my first night home from the hospital and I was up feeding her in the middle of the night.  As I sat there looking down upon her tiny little hands, listening to the sweet sound of her breathing I began to wonder what on earth was I thinking?  I had wanted her so badly and now that she was here, I wanted her to die.  The thought mortified me at the time but it made perfect sense…..Here was this baby that I waited in anticipation for nine months and now I had fallen in love with her more than I could have ever imagined.  I wanted her to be safe and I knew that the world was not safe.  In fact I knew that it was a guarantee that she would suffer.  I would not be able to protect her and I loved her so much that I couldn’t stand the thought of watching her in pain.  I prayed that night and asked God to please take her home before anything could happen to her.  I didn’t want her to suffer and I was willing to lose her if that meant she would go to heaven.

God answered my prayer that night.  It was not the answer I wanted but it was an answer.

He said “Monica think about how much you love this child…How much more do you think that I love her?  Do you not think that the one thing I want for her is to come home?  Do you really think that I want to see her suffer?  It is not your right to decide when she comes home.  She is not yours she is mine and I have claimed her from conception just as I have claimed you. I have entrusted you with her for this moment in time and I will protect her because I know you can’t.  I am trusting you with her now so I need you to trust that I know what I’m doing”

That night I let go of all my rights to her and handed them over to God.  I did it with my other three children before they were ever born.  I don’t look at them as my children but as little souls that God has entrusted me with.  I gave all control to God and promised God that I would do my best to do that one thing……To teach them to love God.

So as I sat there at the dinner table with my youngest I was questioning whether I was really doing my best to teach her to love God.  Watching her eat I asked her “Christy who is your best friend?”

She looked at me and nonchalantly said “Elise is Mommy” she paused and said “no! no! she is my second bestest friend”

Curious I was looking at her expecting her to name one of her friends from school.  But she surprised me and said “God is my first best friend!”

I smiled at her and said “your right honey he is the best friend you could possibly have”

I said nothing more.

I may not have had a ton of time to spend with her reading bible stories but what I have done is lived it out for her.  How I have chosen to live my life has had a bigger impact on my children than anything else.  She went to VBS this last week and one of the things the teacher there had her do was write a note telling your Mom what one of her talents are.

I have posted pictures of the little notes I have received from her because they are so much sweeter when you view them in her handwriting.

ImageSimple words that spoke volumes to my heart.

Simple words that told me what her heart sees

Simple words are all it takes!

But Where Mommy?

Faith that can move mountains!

What does that look like?

Every time I think I’ve figured it out I find myself in a situation that requires even more faith.  I used to think that I had a lot of faith and could weather any storm God allowed to cross my path. Don’t get me wrong.  My life wasn’t easy, but I had grown used to some of life’s rotating struggles and every time they came back around it got easier and easier to trust God. I had fallen into this comfortable little rut in my walk with God and eventually God said “enough!  It’s time to crawl out of your rut and start moving again.”  At first I didn’t mind because the road was straight and easy.  However it didn’t last long before the hills and curves came, and then my faith really began to get a workout.   A few months ago I was really struggling with not having enough faith.  I just didn’t think I had enough faith for what God had placed in front of me.  I would waver back and forth between “God’s got it covered” and total freaked out panic thinking ” What in the world am I going to do?”  I would be going through every possible scenario in my head of how I could possibly fix the situation.  The problem with my solutions was that they were all practically impossible.  Every time I would set out with a plan, it would get squashed. Finally at the last second everything would some how all fall into place at the perfect time.  I cannot tell you how many times that has happened to me and yet here I am panicked.  The thoughts going through my mind are not healthy ones and I will be the first to admit that. I should have a grasp on this with all the things God has done for me and I try to remind myself of all those things but this time it’s different.  This time its not the loss of work, or the loss of a car, or what ever the challenges prior may have been so…. its different….or so I think..

On the outside if anyone asks I seem calm, collected and as if everything is under control.  I can tell everyone I have faith and that I believe God’s got it under control,  but somewhere deep down inside there is a whisper that haunts me.  Its begging the question “is God really going to come through for me?  What if he doesn’t?  What if I don’t like his solution?  why am I struggling with this?”  Then I think I shouldn’t be struggling with this and I am such a weak christian because I am questioning God.  Questioning God…. who am I to question his ways?  Then that horrible feeling that I try to ignore because I know in my head its not true but it feels true.  I am a complete failure.  I shouldn’t be an example to anyone why do people even look up to me?  These are all lies and I know this.  But honestly not believing them is really hard.  I am not going to lie to you.  Telling myself the truth everyday over and over is the hardest thing I do because every time I turn around there is something going on that causes me to question my faith in God.  Then to add to my own struggle to hang on to what little faith I can muster up.  The enemy comes along with tempting little solutions that I know are just wrong.  But hey…everyone else is doing it.  Gods grace has me covered Right??? I really don’t want to do it and deep down I don’t think I could, so even struggling with the thoughts can be completely horrifying.  I just never understood why people did some of the crazy things they do.  The harder life gets though the more I understand and can have empathy for those who have given in to those temptations.   I can have momentary lapses in judgement when I’m panicked and wonder “what in the world am I doing?”  that is what grace is for.  God knows exactly how much I can handle and he may let me get right to the edge of the cliff but he never lets me fall.

Today was a rough day.  People who I thought were there and cared for me…bailed and then the enemy made a surprise attack and I lost hope.  Hope in people that is.  God reminded me though that my hope is in him and not people, not even respectable, good, safe, christian people.

Ps 62:5

Find rest O’ my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him alone.

I meditate on this verse as I think of what it looks like in action.  What does it look like when I hope in God?  Perhaps it’s resting in knowing that I can’t do it but at the same time not worrying about how God is going to do it.  I’m told I just need the faith of a mustard seed and that I know I have.  But what do I do while I wait for God to do his thing?  I think my daughter gave me the answer to this one tonight.

I had just finished bedtime prayer with her and she asked me “Mommy do we have to move?”  I told her “yes, we have to move”

“But where to?” her brows all furrowed up with concern

“I don’t know” I sigh in response

“Mommy I don’t want to be homeless” she whispers softly, her little voice cracking as she holds back her tears.

My heart breaks as I know her pain and worry all to well.

” Do you know the birds in the trees?”  I ask and she nods yes

“If God can provide homes for them don’t you think he can provide a home for us?”

“but where Mom? we can’t live outside” she asks

“I don’t know honey but I do know that God knows”

she looked at me with a smile and said “He has the perfect house, at the perfect place, at the perfect time for us.”

I smiled at her and said “yes dear he does”

with that she rolled over and went right to sleep.  As I sat there watching her as she breathed, looking so calm and innocent, God whispered in my heart and said “Child like faith” That’s it!  Being able to talk to God and hear his truth, accepting it without questioning it.  She had such trust and faith that she could let her worries go and fall to sleep as if I just told her that if it rains we’ll move the party inside no big deal!

knowing where I’m going to live might be a big deal to me but to God its as easy as moving the party inside when it rains.  I don’t know where I’m going and every time someone asks me what I’m going to do.  I have been telling them I don’t know but I do know that God will have the perfect place at the perfect time for the perfect price.  My daughter’s been listening and she spoke back to me my own words of life giving faith in the one God that can do anything.

So tonight even though the storms will rage outside my window I will sleep.  I will sleep, because I have quieted the voice inside of me that questions the validity of my God and his desires for me.

God’s Dare

This year has turned out to be a very difficult one.  Back in January I could see the hurricane off the coast of my heart, having never seen one this size before I began to panic.  I did things and said things that probably didn’t make any sense but it was my desperate attempt to find answers to the questions spinning within my heart.  It was during this time as the winds of change were beating against my soul that God spoke to me so clearly it was as if he was sitting on the couch beside me.  Being the writer that I am, I instinctively picked up my journal and began to write out the words God tenderly spoke into my heart.

My Beloved,

I dare you to love me,

to follow me,

be an example of me,

to show others who I am through your actions.

No!  I won’t say that it will  be easy,

in fact it will be the hardest thing you do.

But don’t worry.

I will be there with you,

guiding your every step, opening and closing doors as you go.

The people who help you will be attacked,

some will prevail…… because they see me in you.

Some….. will walk away,

giving up the chance to see my glory.

I will redeem you… just as I’ve promised,

I will cradle you in my arms just as your heart longs to be.

No!

You are not crazy or weak minded, in fact you are the opposite.

The battle you fight is intense and you are strong,

do not be discouraged for I will lift you up.

I will carry the yoke for you.

Trust in me and let my love wash away your fears.

Real fears,

fears of past, present, and future.

I know the reality you face,

so step into  my love and grace,

experience the peace I have for you.

Remember……. you are mine and I am yours.

Nothing can take that away from you.

Sure,

you could walk away…. but I know you won’t,

I know this because I know your heart better than you do.

You do love me, believe in me and trust me with your whole being.

You may not feel like it but you are.

You need to believe you are everything I need you to be.

  Have faith in the unseen and know that my love washes over you,

cascading over every jagged rock in your heart,

I am making them smooth so you’ll shine like a diamond.

Strong enough to withstand everything yet crystal clear so people can see me in you.

You are my daughter, my bride, my love.

I love you more than you can conceive.

Don’t forget that in the struggles that lay ahead.

Your Father in Heaven

Written Feb 7,2013

My heart survived the first part of the hurricane and entered the eye of the storm.  Relieved I began to look at the damage left behind and attempted to make repairs before the rest of the storm arrived.  I did what I could to prepare for round two but to be honest I wasn’t looking so good.  I placed a smile on my face and picked up the motto “grin and bear it”.   I began chanting in my head ” I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!

The eye of the storm settled in and I discovered it can be quite deceiving.  The calmness can trick a person into thinking the storm has passed but a seasoned person knows the second round is inevitable, the only way out is to go through the swirling winds and rain again.  Waiting for its arrival, when the memory of swirling winds and drowning rain are fresh in your mind is torture.….I couldn’t handle the waiting game when I could see it coming.  I took off running headlong outside and threw myself into the wind and pelting rain.  I didn’t care how hurt I would be afterwards, I just wanted to get to the other side of the storm and I was going to fight my way there.  The winds of change have picked me up and I’m flying through the air now with common things turned deadly.  Open to the elements and exposed to the wrath of the storm I close my eyes and cry out to God “is it too late?”  I can’t go back that I know, but the fear has my eyes tightly closed because the sight before me is too much for my battered heart to take.  My self destructive nature has once more taken over.  I try to breathe as the lies spin me in circles.  I reach for something to grab onto and for a second I’ve got it.  Then the winds of doubt rip it from my grasp as I fight to keep my heart beating.  Trust God, Trust God I chant within me.  I open my eyes for a second and catch a glimpse of God through the storm,  He tells me “on purpose”.   On purpose!   I ponder in my mind its meaning.  Is it meant for me?  He knew I was going to run into the storm, He knew I couldn’t sit there and wait for what I saw was inevitable to happen.  He knew I would self destruct and take matters into my own hands to make it happen.  It was all on purpose!   He has a plan for me that I cannot see right now.  I remember his dare to me and the spoken words are what will carry me through the rest of this storm.  I don’t know who will be left standing beside me when its over but I do know my shattered heart is in his hands.

I’m not sure I believe redemption is possible for me here on earth….even when my feet touch the ground again.  I do believe that I will find it in heaven and no one can take that away from me.  I will not justify my reasons for running into the storm, nor will I let my scars define who I am when its all over.  I also will not allow the pain to cripple me but rather use it to fuel my passion to fight, not for me but for His PURPOSE!

Learning To Ride A Bike

These past few months I’ve been disappointed with myself.  I’m sure a lot of people who know me would wonder why. 

The thing is… I’ve been ashamed of how I have reacted to some of life’s circumstances the last 2yrs.  Some people hit hard times and turn to alcohol, drugs, food or even work to numb the pain inside.   I didn’t do any of those instead I just plain and simple tried to give up.  I pleaded with God to let me just come home so I could be safe from the pain inflicted upon me.  The reality of my past and things that I had lived through were just to overwhelming for me.  I was ashamed of things that happened that I had absolutely no control over.  I was hurt, angry and searching for way to escape the pain.  Once I realized I had nothing to be ashamed of the weight I was carrying began to lift and peace began to settle in my soul.

  Our enemy is sneaky and he knows our every weakness.  He knew mine and he attacked with a vengeance.  He began telling me lies…

I should not have fallen like I did into depression. 

I should have been stronger. 

I should have fought harder. 

Where was my faith and trust? 

I must not be good enough because I wanted to quit and God’s children don’t quit. 

I was ashamed because I had been ashamed.  Wow! I must be crazy who else feels ashamed over being ashamed?  Talk about sneaky.  Now there’s my weakness….Never being good enough.  I am a failure! 

God keeps reminding me though  We are all FAILURES!  No one is perfect and that is nothing to be ashamed of.  Every time I fall off the bike and walk away God is there to pick me up and give me a push.  He tells me to keep my eyes up and look ahead at where I am going….not the ground.  He knows I’m going to fall and I know he’s going to be there to pick me up every time.   The day will come though when I can ride my bike right into heaven’s gates. For I know he will be there to welcome me home at last, beaming with the pride of a Father’s love.