Joy In Shackles

It has been a crazy end of 2015. There have been numerous ups and numerous downs. Through it all God has been with us. He has been out Guide and our Comfort, He has been our Presence, even when we left Him and I tried to do things on my own.

The biggest high was moving into our new place. I now am the proud owner of a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom trailer. It is only 900 square feet. Not huge, which I like. Snowflake and I each have our own rooms, and the extra room is a library for me and play-room for Snowflake. We spend most of our time together in the living room or kitchen.

The biggest low was just noting the passing of time, missing friends and those we love. It is hard for an introvert like me to make new friends, and that has lead to a lot time to contemplate and be sad. Sad for what is lost, sad for what we don’t have. Sad for what could have been but isn’t.

Through it all, I’m learning to truly let go. I’m learning that even when I feel shackled by my emotions, I am free to choose joy. I am free to be me. I am free to be the best mom, sister, cousin, friend, daughter, niece that I can be.

In the midst of all that introspection Snowflake started at a new preschool/daycare. We couldn’t be happier! We both love her teachers and she has made some good friends. Her learning is taking off!

As 2015 is ending I am looking forward to 2016 starting, I am looking toward 2016 as a year of freedom. A year where I take off the shackles of shame, fear, embarrassment, anger, and un-forgiveness. I choose instead to clothe myself in peace, patience, love, joy and forgiveness. I will be the best mom I can be to my precious Snowflake. I will be present and involved. I will be THAT mom! ūüôā

May we all look toward the calendar change with smiles and anticipation. May 2016 find each of us with more smiles than tears, more focused on living a life of freedom and joy. Let’s all cast aside the shackles and make 2016 a year of positive change.

God Bless and Happy New Year!

To My Ex

To My Ex,

I hope that you are doing as well as possible. I am. My days are filled with giggles, “Please stop”, hugs, hide and seek, messes, and love. Your days are full of guards, bars, a strict schedule, and always being watched.

I wrote to you and told you that I forgive you, and I do. I also told you that it was over between us and I meant it. Not because other people coerced me, because it is the right thing for me and mostly for our daughter.

You see, the night that we got pregnant (do you remember it? I do. I felt loved, beautiful and safe in the arms of a man who would treasure my heart) my life changed. I was no longer able to live for myself. Another life depended upon my choices. Giving birth didn’t change how much she needs me.

Just because you didn’t carry her it doesn’t mean she didn’t need you just as much as she needs me. Girls need their dad to teach them so much. Not just how to mow the lawn, change a tire, deal with a clogged toilet or re-shingle a roof. Any parent can teach those life skills.

No, having a Dad is important to teach a girl how she should demand to be treated by her future husband. What example did you give her? You showed by your actions that it is ok for horny men to take advantage of naive girls. You taught her that sneaky is ok. You taught her that women are objects and even in marriage her heart isn’t safe.

All that I can forgive as she and I turn to Christ and allow Him to show us how a woman should be treated.

You did teach her some tough but valuable lessons. You taught her that she is resilient and can survive and even laugh during the trials of life. You taught her that only God is 100% dependable and loyal, so run to Him, pursue Him. You taught her to forgive and pray for those whom hurt her. I am sincerely and deeply thankful that she is so sweet natured and leaning valuable lessons.

We pray for you nightly. We pray that you are safe. We pray that you are seeking after Jesus in a true sincere way this time and not just for looks to get the girl you want, but that your faith is a deeply rooted tree. We pray that you are able to share Jesus in the dark place you reside.

I am not angry anymore. I am sad. I am sad that your life choices put you away. I am sad that you hurt so many people all to satisfy a fleeting desire. I am sad that while the lessons were valuable, our daughter had to learn them so early in life.

I admit I loved being married. I loved the closeness I thought we shared. I loved having someone to snuggle at night, to cook for, to be 100% me around, no masks, no fears, just me. I loved YOU, the you that I thought you were.

Yet, I want you to know I am fine. I am learning how to teach our daughter what she needs to know. I have also learned how to reach out to a segment of society that is often scorned or ignored. Those with incarcerated family members. It isn’t a group anyone wants to join, yet it brings with it a sense of protection. Our loved ones didn’t take of us, so we take care of each other. You gave me this group.

I am sorry that you will miss out watching your daughter grow up. She is an amazing kid.

I am not sorry that we are far away, that we have distance. While I HAVE forgiven you, I could never trust you again with my heart or especially with our daughter. She is most precious. You forgot that, you forgot that you are just as much a parent as I am. You gave us up the night you sinned.

I am not sorry for any measures needed to protect her. God has entrusted her to my care and I plan to do my best, even to my dying breath to train her to love and serve Jesus, to protect her, to love her, to teach her to be caring, responsible, a good friend to all and to hear her giggle as much as possible. I am kind, I am sweet, you know me. I am also her Mama Bear.

She is fine, we are moving on to the next season on the calendar, but also in our lives. The season of Dad has closed, but not with animosity, bitterness, hatred, grudges or un-forgiveness. It has closed with a wish that things were different, with prayers of protection and with brotherly love for a man we hope we will see in eternity. You gave up so much. Good-bye.

To my Snowflake: the next season is going to be as full of new adventures, growth, learning and seeking God as the last. I am blessed to be your Mom and eagerly anticipate what is ahead. I love you forever and ever, to infinity and beyond and Jesus loves you MORE!

Counting My Blessings

I am so blessed. This morning as I contemplate my journey in the quiet of the early morning, as I was able to sit and watch Snowflake sleep (on the floor with her tush in the air, so silly and wonderful), to pray and thank God for another day, it hit me (as it does often) how blessed I am.

I have a wonderful daughter. We are very close. We have an Abba who takes care of us and provides for our needs. We have a God who saved us. My daughter is only 3 years and 8 months old but she proudly proclaims, “Jesus in my heart! Jesus helps me to be good.” She is already falling in love with Jesus. My Snowflake! She is stubborn, very much a strong willed 3 year old, but she is learning to love Jesus and that is the greatest blessing.

My circle of friends is not huge, but each person in my circle is so precious to me. They have been in their own trenches and shown how strong they are, and they join me in my trenches and lend me their strength. We dance on the mountain tops together, and we just enjoy life. Each friend is a blessing. I have 7 gals whom I consider the best of friends and each of them enriches my life and I am a better Mom, Daughter, Sister, Christian and Friend for knowing them. Someday we will all live near each other, or teleportation will be a real option!

I live in a beautiful part of the country. I am surrounded by beauty and able to “escape” the valley for the majesty of the mountains in a short drive. I am grounded by “my” mountains.

I have the support of a great family. Parents whom love my daughter and myself. A sister who is by my side even when she doesn’t understand my decisions. Aunts, uncles, and cousins who fill my life with love and support.

I have a new job starting soon that will allow me to serve my town and the people who live here.

My dream home MAY become a reality within the year!

Oh and my daughter fills me laughter. From the very polite way she declines to use the toilet (seriously though, wouldn’t it be more fun to use the toilet than a pull-up??) to our conversations, “Why are you breaking your crayons?” “Because I’m mad. You no let me hit. I want cake for dinner!” [Snowflake we ALL want cake for dinner, but no matter what Mr. Cosby says it isn’t health food it is a treat.]

Most importantly I have salvation. I know that when this beautiful life is over I will be in Heaven and reunited with many of my loved ones. I will be walking the streets of gold to see Jesus. I will get to spend eternity with HIM, singing praises to HIM with those I love. I serve God and HE is more wonderful than wonderful, more powerful than power, more loving than you could imagine and He is in control. He will conquer the evil of this world and send it packing!

So as I prepare to embrace the heat of this August day and long for the crisp air of Fall and the promise of the chill of winter, I am face it with joy knowing that no matter how many trials I must endure, how yucky life can be, even in the midst of the yuck I am blessed beyond measure.

My Dream Home Hopefully Coming Soon!

 

For the past 18 months God has been working on my heart. He and I have been working the fact that I have a LOT of STUFF. Some of it is special and has meaning generally connected to a memory or memories. Yet, I have too much stuff that I just have and I don’t need.

For me a big thing is books. I LOVE books. Books are full of so much potential. They are just waiting to be read. I love reading and I love books.  I also know that I need hundreds of books in my home when we have a wonderful public library just down the hill.

So much of my stuff just collects dust. All this I have wrestled with. I have wrestled with knowing I don’t need nor do I really deep down want all this stuff. I want to live simply. I want to focus on what really matters having a home filled with love and laughter, friends and family and good memories.

I can do this without needing a ton of space if I get to down to the things that really matter. For the last 18 months I’ve been praying about and wanting to move into a smaller home. Hopefully in 2016 I can make the a reality.

I have included a basic floor plan. It does not show everything. Above my room will be a loft that will be Snowflake’s room. Above the living room will be another loft to hold a paired down amount of books. There will be a front porch and (hopefully) a screened in side porch (so the porch will wraparound).

Snowflake and I both love baths, so the bathroom will include a tub. The picture is just to give an idea. I am thinking it will be a log home about 500 square feet. Solar panels to provide electricity and modern plumbing.

It will mean giving up my dream (or putting it on hold) of being a foster mom. It will mean less house to maintain and hopefully will help Snowflake and Mom maintain a healthy, loving and close relationship.

Big houses are not bad, big houses can mean room to entertain, to host family and friends, to show off your memories. I have enjoyed for 30+ years having space. Yet, I don’t think my daughter and I need it to be at home, to have a peaceful sanctuary.

Small house living is exciting, and hopefully in 2016 I can be working on my novel from the family table in the kitchen, or sitting in my library loft.

Please pray that God will keep the right doors open to make this dream a reality. It seems to be within grasp and that has me very excited! Pray that as I sell and donate my stuff it will go to the right people.

Pray that once built our home will be an oasis, a place where we are cozy but a small place to welcome friends and family and share the love and fellowship of Christ.
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Divergent: Lessons in Identity

SPOILER ALERT!!! This post contains discussions about the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. If you are reading the trilogy or plan to read the trilogy please finish before you read this blog!

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I just finished reading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I found it to be very well written. The characters are compelling and you want to go on the journey with them, to see where life takes them. You cheer for the heroes and pray for a change of heart for the villains. The themes that are woven throughout the trilogy cause one to think.

Divergent gave me much to ponder and it made be VERY glad to know and serve Christ, to have His hope and His encouragement in my life, His guidance and His direction.

At the end of Allegiant, the third book in the trilogy (but not the series, as Ms. Roth wrote companion books from Four’s perspective) Tris, the main female character is murdered after substituting herself for her brother and putting herself in the midst of immense danger.

This is poignant because throughout the trilogy the two siblings did not seemingly have much love for each other earlier her brother had been integral in her near execution, so Tris had fought hard against hate and learning to forgive.

Tris had also fought to learn to accept who she is, sharpen her good qualities and lay aside the bad. She had learned to open herself to a real romantic relationship and realize that in a healthy relationship iron sharpens iron and it is ok to not always agree as long as there is love, trust, loyalty, respect, forgiveness and honesty in the relationship. She learned that you don’t have to be a model to be beautiful in the eyes of your mate, you have to be vulnerable, willing, loving and open to letting your mate tell you you are beautiful.

I found myself wanting to take notes so that in a dozen years when Snowflake reads these books we can discuss them and then discuss the truths of Christ and our identities as Christian women.

In Christ you and I are beautiful dear sister. He is the one man we can trust when all other men fail us. He is the one we can run to and always be safe. He is our security. He is our loyalty. He is our honesty in a dishonest world. He makes us beautiful. He created us and He says, “I did well, you are a masterpiece!”

Tris’ boyfriend (a young man she planned to spend her forever with) Four had gone off to try and save their former town and his parents (that family dynamic could be a whole different post) while he was gone Tris made her sacrifice. Four had a journey of his own to travel, and it is when their journeys collide that they each learn so much from each other. Four taught Tris the value of love and friendship. He gave her something to live for and family after her parents died. He taught her that it is good to overcome fears, and better to do so beside your love.

The trilogy ends with Four learning to live again after the death of his one true love. You see that life can be lived after great tragedy-you will not be the same, it will not be easy. In fact life after trauma and tragedy takes a great deal of courage and faithful, loving friends. If not for the friends Four had allowed into his life, the story could have ended like Romeo and Juliet.

Four’s story made so thankful for the hope of Christ. I don’t grieve the loss of my “happily ever after” like others might because I know that “Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal.” In other words, yeah it is tough, it is extremely hard at times to do life, but it is possible because I know that once I get on the other side of eternity all this will be diminish and my joy will be complete as I rest at Jesus’ feet and get to just worship my King, Lord, Savior and Friend.

I don’t want to die, in fact dying doesn’t sound like much fun. I’d much rather live and watch my daughter grow up, watch her kids grow up and then be raptured! Yet, I don’t fear death and I know that I can’t live forever. So even while I am very happy to be alive and willing to fight through the hard, I know that when I do have to go, I am going somewhere amazing, beyond imagination!

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Thank  you Ms. Roth for your trilogy, for giving me so much to ponder, characters to fall in love with and cheer. While I would have ended the trilogy differently, thank you for taking me on this journey. Very well done.

Dear Reader,

Let me know what you thought of the trilogy, what themes stick out to you and which characters do you most relate to and why! How has this series made you think about your faith and the big questions of life?

 

Learning to Let Go

When I first graduated with my undergraduate degree I moved back to my home town and quickly began working for a residential treatment center for adjudicated youth. I spent the majority of my time as a math instructor (a sign that God has a sense of humor, as math is my weakest area). I loved working with our students, seeing their growth. As I continued to work and listen to their stories, many of them heart wrenching I felt God tug on me. Finally I decided to be brave and follow His leading, which lead to my Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling.

After many years of life I am back in my home town and I spent another year working at the school. In May I quit to pursue a different path, one I felt God leading me on. I quickly found a new job and thought, “This will be a good fit!” Unbeknownst to me, but very much known to God that job lasted ONE WEEK before it was realized that my services were not needed!

I live in a small town (less than 20,ooo) where there are not endless job opportunities. This means that finding jobs is not the easiest thing to do, especially once I learned that my degree will allow me to be a military chaplain or a pastor, but not a licensed counselor (imagine my utter shock)!

God has used this time to teach me to rely on Him to provide for my needs and to trust that He has my best and my daughter’s best in mind, that He will take care of us. I have also learned to let go. To let go of what I think I want in order to receive what God has in mind. I’ve learned to pray for God to give me an open heart to His leading and courage to follow Him, even if that means being willing to move.

I haven’t wanted to move because Snowflake is attached to her Mama and Papa and they to her. It has provided her with the male “father” figure she needs. Yet, I have started to open my heart and mind to being willing to move to a larger city a couple of hours away, so that I could find a better job.

Sometimes God isn’t going to move us, He just wants us to be willing to follow. It reminds me on a smaller scale of Abraham and Issac. God wanted Abraham’s whole faith and trust, his absolute willingness, yet HE never actually planned on requiring the sacrifice of Issac. Abraham didn’t know this though and he was willing because He knew God could be trusted. It is about being willing to follow wherever HE leads.

Slowly I am learning these lessons. It is hard, it requires sacrifice and courage, but in the end it turns out for our good. Looking back on my life and seeing the times when I have followed God and been brave I see how I ultimately benefited. It lead to some amazing friends, my marriage (brief as it was) and the birth of my daughter! More importantly it has lead to a deep and unshakeable relationship with Jesus which brings me joy in the everyday and gives me the courage to once again let go of what I may want in order to receive what God has for me, and HIS gifts are always better than my desires!

5 Resources To Check Out!

Today I want to highlight a few Christian resources that I think are wonderful and have helped me to be the best Mom/Daughter/Sister/Friend/Woman I can be!

1.¬†http://smile.amazon.com/40-Days-Color-Coloring–Devotional/dp/1514329212/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436299186&sr=8-1&keywords=Davo+Roberts

This is a 40 Day devotional. There is a spin, it is also a coloring book! It is a way to get the whole family involved doing a daily devotion together and it is fun! I HIGHLY recommend it!

 

2. http://smile.amazon.com/Buck-Denver-Asks-Whats-Beginning/dp/B0063FGFPU/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1436299290&sr=1-2&keywords=phil+vischer

This is the 1st volume of a multi volume collection of videos by Phil Vischer (of Veggie Tales fame). He packs so much information into each movie. My daughter and I both love them.

 

3. http://smile.amazon.com/Painless-Parenting-Preschool-Years/dp/193042955X/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1436299403&sr=1-1&keywords=Love+and+Logic

I have watched this DVD 3 times now! I also have a couple of the Love and Logic books and I think they are helping me to be the best Mom I can be. I started out skeptical, but I am convinced the Love and Logic people are onto something!

 

4. http://www.witandwander.org/how-to-pray-for-your-kids/

A blog that gives great advice on praying for our kids. Our kids need LOTS of prayer coverage.

 

5. http://www.awana.org/

I was an AWANA clubber, Cubbies-AKX, I went through everything (now things have changed and they have Puggles, for the really young kids). You may not have an AWANA club in your area, but you can order the books and learn Scripture with your kids and do your own little thing, or you could start a club in your church/town! AWANA stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15).  AWANA now reaches out to more than just kids and it is a global organization that is certainly making an impact for Christ!

 

Let me know what resources you find priceless in your life!