the heart…

So it has been a very long time since I’ve blogged.  Just going to hop right back in…

Here are some verses I was reading today. LOVE them…circled and highlighted in my bible.  Just wanted to share:

“Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans,
who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers –
Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8, The Message)

God, please help me rely on you alone, and not on my own self/strength, because I am weak. But YOU are strong. Help me stick with you and bear fruit. I know you are making me more like you through this difficult life full of trials. I don’t want to be like the tumbleweed, blowing here and there. Help me stick with YOU.

And the verses that follow:

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out,
But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human.
I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” – (Jer 17:9-10)

Looking forward to heaven one day, when the heart will be pure and blameless, Lord. Keep getting to the root of things. I’m so glad you know me so well and love me anyway… without any pretense.  Thank you Father!

7 ways to enjoy your finer things

7 ways to enjoy your finer things. (click here)

This is a blog post by my dear friend since 7th grade, Teresa.  I always loved to visit her home growing up… they were great hosts and I loved their Spanish culture (and their “culture” –  exposing me to many of the arts), cooking (her dad’s baked chicken with potatoes were the best!), and “fineries” (still remember your collections of lladros, etc).

Thanks to Teresa, I just switched from a big ol’ Texas-sized coffee mug (which I love for my coffee) to drink my daily hot tea from (a new ritual… I have discovered loose-leaf oolong tea, jasmine is great, as is a champagne-rose oolong tea, made in my diffuser) into one of my mother-in-law’s fine china teacups that was just sitting in the china buffet!  I think I will also start using the cloth napkins, and burn more candles, etc. (Thanks, Teresa, for the great reminder to use those finer things!)

Enjoy her post!

“And no one pu…

“And no one puts new wine into old wine skins. For the wine would burst the wine skins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wine skins.” ~Mark 2:22 (NLT)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he/she is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

I am ready for some new things, new habits, new ways of thinking, new life, new energy, new relationships that are totally real…newness. Some old things are okay, don’t get me wrong… but many of my old patterns, thoughts, habits, ways of thinking and being, need to go and be replaced with new. I’m not saying all old habits, friends, etc, are bad or need to go. Not at all.  But I will pray more about how I live daily and who I trust and “do life” with.

I am so very glad that I am NOT the Sharon I was one, two, five, ten, twenty+ years ago.  I look back on this past year or five, and I was very unhealthy in so many ways.  I was not dealing with my “stuff” and I was escaping reality constantly with many things: movies, romance books (or any good book), wine, friendships/relationships that weren’t good for me, shopping addictions, addictions to people and to being liked, being a people-pleaser (more than a God-pleaser), perfectionism, my kids’ activtities, busy-ness, my own activity, avoiding chores and responsibilites… I could truly go on and on with the bad things… the things of my old self… the old wine… the ways I avoided reality and tried to be happy.  Ways I tried to control my life (and others).

But I am ready for NEW.  I have put aside SO many negatives this past year or so. It has been a somewhat lonely year of reflection and pain/growth. I am nowhere NEAR where I want to be, that’s for darn sure, but I am so much better off than I was, in so many ways.  I am not perfect, nor will I EVER be… and that’s okay.  

I want to be healthy (spiritually, physically, mentally) for myself, my husband, my kids. They (and I) deserve that.  I want to keep growing in my relationship with Jesus first and foremost.  I am NOTHING without HIM. I am a wretched capital- M.E.S.S. most of the time, if not FOR HIM. I struggle with hating myself for things I have done in my past, or for not liking my temper, or my issues. I struggle with many things. I am an introvert, and I have a hard time trusting people and opening up. I prefer to have a few CLOSE, REAL friends to having 100+ friends and being invited to every party, every girls’ trip or outing, every social event… (although it does hurt sometimes to see the pics posted all over social media of things I was left out of (or my kids were left out of)… but then I step back and think… “Do you really want to be friends with so&so or that group?” or “Do you really want to be busy every night of the week, away from your family, or every day for lunch, or every weekend?” NO! I am becoming more and more of a home-body as I get older and learn to know myself better.  I want to be alone often. I  want to be with my kids and hubby.  I want to be with a few friends having real discussions. And I am OPEN to new things.  New friendships (not tons, mind you – ha – but a few REAL ones… I don’t care what people look like, what circles they run with, if they are young or older, etc). Just REAL. Trustworthy. Loyal. And it’s important to me personally that my closest 3-4 friendships be with “like-minded” women who love Jesus and are sold out to Him… ones who don’t gossip or talk about others constantly behind backs (because then I know they will also talk about ME behind my back). 

My eyes are open. My heart is opening. I’m open to myself being more REAL. Not trying to avoid or escape reality with my “vices” (i.e. shopping addiction, which I am currently struggling with).  I want to be one of those minimalists who believe “less is more!”  I want to bring in a new year of “fewer material things” and less clutter.  (Note to self: start donating and throwing away anything that I haven’t used lately! I can buy it again later if it’s that important.)

I love this quote: “The less we own, the less that owns us!”

I think that will be my new year’s resolution, and the NEW wine going into my new wine skin!  Own less, BE owned less… be content with what I have (huge goal), be real, don’t try to be perfect and don’t try to please everyone else. And most importantly, which I believe will cause ALL other things in my life to fall more into place… LOVE CHRIST MORE EVERY SINGLE DAY… grow closer to HIM, rely more on HIM, depend on HIM for my worth and happiness/peace/joy… and more things will start falling into place, hopefully.  Show more LOVE to others. Try not to judge. Listen more. And stop putting the OLD patterns of thoughts/behaviors into my NEW life. (Oh yeh, and try to stay off social media so much!)

Sure, I will mess up daily… but I will keep pressing on, forward, into a hopefully better year than each of the last.  But I also know that the bad things/habits, etc, in my life are the things that propelled me TO God.  So I am thankful for the good and the bad.  It all serves a purpose. God is in control and nothing flows through His hands that He did not allow…  He’s allowed a LOT in my life, but it is finally working its main purpose… to cause me to depend on HIM and to love HIM, to let go of the “bad old” and press into Him.

Happy New Year!  Here’s to the NEW! xoxo

“I love you, Go…

“I love you, God—
you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
the castle in which I live,
my rescuing knight.” – Psalm 18:1-2a (The Message)

I just read the above (and below) verses today from Psalm 18 in a whole new light!  The words “RESCUING KNIGHT” caught my eye.  I just blogged last week about Jesus being my “Knight in Shining Armor”!  Yes, there is such a thing as a rescuing knight, although this is so much more than just a fairy tale; it is a TRUE tale… reality, fact, certainty, actuality. HE rescued me (and can rescue you) from “the void in which I was drowning.”

I love “The Message” version of the Bible.  It sometimes just makes things so much easier for my brain to comprehend.  I like a lot of different versions, but sometimes this one just does it for me. It’s the one where I usually say “AHA!” and pull out my highlighter.  I love how the Word is so ALIVE and fresh/new.  I can read something today that didn’t mean the same thing to me yesterday or a year or ten years ago.  That’s just how cool God is.  He’s cool.  The great “I AM”… His word is eternal.  The Bible is a love story.  He is love.

Here is some more (the majority) of Psalm 18.  Just had to share it.  It means so much to me, and I feel like I could have written some of these same thoughts and feelings as David had, as if David and I would have been able to discuss life, lessons, fears, hopes, our God. David is such an example of God’s mercy, love, protection, and grace.  David was just a messed-up dude, but he had a heart for God.  We’re all just “messed-up people,” right (without God, that is)?

Here goes… a beautiful, heart-felt Psalm:

2b “My God—the high crag 
where I run for dear life,

    hiding behind the boulders,
    safe in the granite hideout.

3 I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
    and find myself safe and saved.

4-5 The hangman’s noose was tight at my throat;
    devil waters rushed over me.
Hell’s ropes cinched me tight;
    death traps barred every exit.

6 A hostile world! I call to God,
    I cry to God to help me.
From his palace he hears my call;
    my cry brings me right into his presence—
    a private audience!

14-15  God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!
    He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,
    the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,
    let loose your hurricane anger.

16-19 But me he caught—reached all the way
    from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
    the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
    but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
    I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

20-24 God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
    I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
    I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
    and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

25-27 The good people taste your goodness,
The whole people taste your health,
The true people taste your truth,
The bad ones can’t figure you out.
You take the side of the down-and-out,
But the stuck-up you take down a peg.

28-29 Suddenly, God, you floodlight my life;
    I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory!
I smash the bands of marauders,
    I vault the highest fences.

30 What a God! His road
    stretches straight and smooth.
Every God-direction is road-tested.
    Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it.

31-32 Is there any god like God?
    Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me,
    then aimed me in the right direction?
Now I run like a deer…

46-48 Live, God! Blessings from my Rock,
    my free and freeing God, towering!
This God set things right for me
    and shut up the people who talked back.
He rescued me from enemy anger,
    he pulled me from the grip of upstarts,
He saved me from the bullies.

49-50 That’s why I’m thanking you, God,
    all over the world.
That’s why I’m singing songs
    that rhyme your name.
God’s king takes the trophy;
    God’s chosen is beloved.
I mean David and all his children—
    always.

You protect me with salvation-armor;
    you hold me up with a firm hand,
    caress me with your gentle ways.
You cleared the ground under me
    so my footing was firm.

46-48 Live, God! Blessings from my Rock,
    my free and freeing God, towering!
This God set things right for me
    and shut up the people who talked back.
He rescued me from enemy anger,
    he pulled me from the grip of upstarts,
He saved me from the bullies.

49-50 That’s why I’m thanking you, God,
    all over the world.
That’s why I’m singing songs
    that rhyme your name.
God’s king takes the trophy;
    God’s chosen is beloved.
I mean David and all his children—
    always.”

God, thank you for rescuing me from myself! From my self-destructive ways. From my addictions. From my selfishness. I am human and I will keep messing up, and that’s okay!  You love me and you are my Knight in Shining Armor, always. You are not a crutch.  But you ARE my strength when I am weak.  You ARE my redeemer; you brought ME back from a pit.

I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! (even though I knew in my HEAD that HE loves me… but NOW I know it in my heart!) 

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him.

Thank you Papa!

 

“When Mercy Found Me”

I woke up today to my barking dog (thanks Oscar) at 6am, before my iHome was scheduled to play my waking-up music at 6:35am… and as I came into awareness, I realized I had been dreaming of some troublesome things, and all of these worries started popping into my awakened mind. So I couldn’t go back to sleep.

When things or people involve your children, it’s hard to NOT worry. I mean, be real. However… I am slowly learning (not perfectly) to turn my thoughts to GOD at those times, rather than fretting more, and He will calm me down (I may still go back to those worries in my human condition, but God understands and lovingly reminds me to turn back to thoughts of Him).

I started giving thanks to the great “I AM”. Because “HE IS”! He is all things. He is my comforter. He is my strength. He is my redeemer! He is my warrior. He is my “knight in shining armor.” He fights my battles for me. He is victorious. He is SO loving. He knows my name. He bends down like a sweet daddy to his daughter, and looks me in the eyes, and listens to me. He holds my hand. HE IS!! (that lesson also goes along with the Beth Moore study I am doing this fall, “The Beloved Disciple” – awesome – can’t say enough about that particular study and just how wonderful of a teacher Beth is!)

Anyway, I woke up with these burning worries. And I also woke up, knowing that TODAY is a very important day. It is the anniversary of my finally turning my entire life over to Jesus, after my stubbornness, after my trying to fill myself with the world, after hitting rock bottom. I knew about Christ and loved him my whole life, ever since I can remember. I was brought up as a believer. BUT I don’t know that I TRULY “believed” HIM or LET HIM be the one to fill my emptiness. I didn’t LET him be “I AM” (“HE IS”) to me fully. SO THIS IS A BIG DAY! It’s the day I turned my life back around and truly became His disciple, His follower, and sold out for Him. He has changed my life. (And no wonder satan wanted me to wake up worrying today of all days.)

SO… I woke up to THIS song playing! HOW appropriate!! I had to just cry. And praise. And say “THANK YOU GOD!”

And then when I came back to my worries, I remembered the following verses:

“NO weapon turned against you (or your family members) will succeed! You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Isaiah 54:17)

and also…

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12

and also…

(one my favorites): “The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:14

Thank you Heavenly Father that no problems of THIS world are that big, in the grand scheme of things, and all things go through your hands before they touch us. Everything happens for a reason. And YOU are there… guiding me, holding my hand, holding my kids’ hands… protecting us.

And thank you for RESCUING ME from the snake pit of self destruction!

Here are the song lyrics… also extremely special today to me:
“When Mercy Found Me”

“I can’t count the broken roads I’ve been down
But all I know
Something had to give
Something had to give

‘Cause living my life so wild and free
Finally caught up
Oh it left me broken, left me hopeless
But that’s where I met Jesus

And in one moment everything changed
Who I was got washed away
When mercy found me

My Savior’s arms were open wide
And I felt love for the very first time
When mercy found me
When mercy found me

All those days and all those doubts
They don’t seem to matter now
His grace is all I need
Oh, His grace is all I need

And the chains that I was in before
They don’t hold me anymore
His love has rescued me
Oh, His love has set me free

And in one moment everything changed
Who I was got washed away
When mercy found me

My Savior’s arms were open wide
And I felt love for the very first time
When mercy found me

My mind found peace
My soul found hope
My heart found a home

And in one moment everything changed
Who I was got washed away
When mercy found me

My Savior’s arms were open wide
And I felt love for the very first time
When mercy found me…”

I would love to hear your comments… what verses comfort you when you are worried?

“If you are go…

“If you are going to be used by God, he will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in his hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across.” – Oswald Chambers

I saw this quote today in the “comments” section of a blog I was reading (from a favorite blogger: http://lisajobaker.com/), and this has inspired this current blog entry today.

Lisa Jo was discussing pain, letting yourself FEEL pain sometimes, and how God allows pain in our lives (she lost her mom when she turned 18)… but that He always, always uses that pain for His good… to help others someday, or to be able to empathize with others in similar situations.

I’ve been learning a lot this past year about dealing with negative emotions.  I am GREAT at burying them, denying them, stuffing them… all to my own detriment (self sabotage).  I’ve learned that it’s not wise to just go about your business/busy-ness, stuffing the negative feelings/memories down with food, another person, shopping, alcohol, or whatever your “drug of choice” may be. 

Best to get them out… in writing (journaling for your eyes only perhaps), talking with a trusted friend, counseling, exercise, prayer, whatever helps.

When you try to push the pain out, it just comes back even more so… as in pulling weeds, if you don’t get to the root, the weeds keep multiplying and growing back like crazy.  Think of kudzu… a wild weed that can take over an area and is very hard to control. The roots/pain/memories must be dealt with if you want to thrive and be FREE!

Here’s a poem I want to share, given to me by someone who has helped me process through a lot of “junk” (thank you, Kay!).  She has taught me to FEEL, and that IT IS OKAY TO FEEL!  I don’t have to always put on a “happy face” for others or only let myself feel happy feelings.  I can BE REAL.  (After all, can’t you always tell when someone is putting on a front? I can.)  

“THE GUEST HOUSE” – by Rumi 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them ALL!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(To me personally, that “guide” means the Holy Spirit, who wants me to deal with my junk so I can be free and healthy!) 

Parting words… taken straight from Lisa Jo’s blog entry today:

We all have grown up and become more chipped and cracked along the way. Bits of what we believed or loved cracked off rough shod and thoughtless. And there are holes that no person or putty or promise or chocolate cake can fill. There are some holes that become part of us just like that cowlick that won’t ever lie down and behave or the scar on your left leg from the time you were tripped and fell at your best friend’s house right in front of the boy you were trying to impress.

I see your scars.

I see those hot throbbing lines you try to hide or disguise or ignore.

But they’re all part of you. It’s OK that they ache. It’s OK that they make you feel the feelings you wish you could box away. They are as much you as your eye color and I love looking right into your eyes.

Go ahead, tell me your story. Show me your box. I am not afraid of scars.”

 

 

 

Imperfect Parenting

I’m reading the best book/memoir by Melanie Shankle, author of the “Big Mama” blog, called “Sparkly Green Earrings.”

This book about her life as a mom, with ALL the ups and downs, truly has me laughing aloud, as she writes about miscarriage, birth (Get. Me. An. Epidural. Now!!), sleepless nights, juggling a baby and a full-time career, then being a part-time-stay-at-home-mom, and on and on.

I can’t put the book down!! Her style is so FUNNY! I’d love to be friends with her… She’s that lovable and messy and real.

Anyway– I just finished chapter 17, and I must quote her a bit as she discusses – horrors- lice. Yep, lice. Most moms have been there/done that at least once… at least, if they are REAL enough to admit it. Ugh!!!! (My head itches anytime I even think of that word.)

In that same chapter, Melanie tells another embarrassing incident.  Her family is at church, when her sweet preschool-aged daughter announces to a friend’s dad: “I ask my mom to play with me, but all she does is sit on the couch. She’s real lazy.”

Gasp! Totally thrown under the bus, she was.

(This reminds me of a “lovely” Mother’s Day picture my son made for me at school when he was in first grade, which is still hanging on the wall, where he’s telling all the things he loves about his mama. He said, “She likes to rest!”   REST? Yep, sounds lazy to me. :/ I cringe to this day when I read that part…)

So back to chapter 17, it all works out and the daughter tells “big mama” (that’s a whole ‘nother story as to how she got her nickname) that she didn’t even know what the word ‘lazy’ meant, and says, “I just meant that sometimes you get tired from taking care of me and have to take a break.”

Cute story.

But here’s the main point of this entry that I had to write. It goes along with this theme of BEING REAL, and it spoke to my heart and maybe will speak to yours too if you struggle with wanting to be the “perfect mom/wife” etc…

“I think I’d been living under the illusion that I could give Caroline a perfect childhood. But perfect doesn’t exist in our world. I can give her love, I can give her laughter, I can instill values and morals in her, I can teach her about Jesus and how He loves her more than she knows, and I can hopefully give her more good memories than bad.

And I can pick the nits out of her hair, one little larva at a time.

But I can’t give her perfection, because I’m fresh out.

That’s where the grace of God enters, and I exit quietly through the back door, allowing HIM to fill in the gaps.”

Isn’t that such a relief?! Our Papa in heaven fills in the gaps of our human imperfection!!  I am so very thankful for that and it fills me with peace when I have doubts about my parenting, and my “liking to rest.” I’m not a perfect parent not will I ever be. But He is!

(PS – side note- God has a great sense of humor!  I am still learning this blogging thing, and so I typed my first draft last night on the iphone, and then saved it as a “draft” and used my laptop to edit/publish last night.  I came in today to look at it again… and it was FULL of typos from my first iphone draft?? What?  I am still not sure what happened… but it is a good lesson for me, AGAIN, that I am not, nor will I EVER be, PERFECT!  As a teacher once told my niece in preschool – and a quote I frequently use too  now – “PERFECT IS BORING!” Now, let’s see if this time I can hit “publish” and it saves all revisions… if not, OH WELL!)  :)