Thy Will Be Done

It was brought to my attention that I hadn’t blogged in quite some time, so I decided to sit down and collect my thoughts for a post.  There have been many things going on in my life, and certain realizations/revelations I’d considered sharing, but I just never made it a priority to write it down.  There are several things that have happened that have caused me to stop and ponder what God may be trying to show me.

I’ll start off with a milestone that took place a week ago, but in my favorite “storytelling” way:

Back to school time is always a little bittersweet for me.  I’m sure most moms feel that way, but for me, there’s more than the obvious “they’re growing so fast” theme that crosses my mind every August.  I started Kindergarten less than 3 months after I lost my mom, and her birthday always falls right around back to school time.  Plus, every couple of years or so one of my kids enters a milestone that always makes a little more sappy than usual.

Most every August I also think about how my grandma had just lost her only daughter and was taking on the responsibility of raising two more kids.  She hadn’t enrolled kids in school in about 20 years and was frantic in making sure everything was done so my sister and I could start the first day with everyone else.  I vividly remember that I wore a purple dress and a lighter purple bow made of yarn in my hair on my first day of Kindergarten.  I was equally excited and nervous, as are most kids, and I just kept thinking about what it might be like and if I’d make any friends. I won’t go into a lot of detail because, quite frankly, the only things I really remember about Kindergarten is painting a lot, story time, graham crackers & milk, and getting sent to time out for talking too much-that trait runs in the family, I didn’t have choice.

I sent my youngest son to Kindergarten last Monday, and it dawned on me that he’s the first of my 6 kids to create such an over-abundance of feelings that caused a huge lump in my throat.  I know I’ve always been excited for my kids to start school, but I’ve never felt so emotional about it.  Perhaps it’s because he didn’t go to traditional Pre-K so this was my first “sending off” milestone with him.  Perhaps it’s because he’s my youngest son, my last boy to leave me and go off to the days where I’m no longer the only one he turns to for help.  Perhaps it’s because he’s a little more introverted and sensitive and my heart is afraid for him, despite how much I know he’ll be fine.

I just think there are memories and events that have happened to me that have been locked in my mind, and when a similar event happens, these emotions come out of me that I’m not sure how to process.  Combine that with the emotion that already comes with childhood milestones every parent goes through and bam, you get one emotional cocktail.  So, I guess all I can do is what I’ve been doing since I became a mother for the first time-pray that I’ve done the best I can and know that God loves them more than I ever could, and that He’s got them in the palm of His hands.

Going back to what really began this descent into a rollercoaster of emotions, I’m going to backtrack a little, 4 weeks to be exact.  I was out shopping with my mother in law when I found out that my ex-husband’s brother in law had passed away in a tragic water accident. Oddly enough, the night before I’d gotten a breaking news alert from ABC that someone had drowned where my ex-husband and kids live, and it gave me a weird feeling.  I even said to my husband, “I hope that wasn’t my ex”.

I’m an empath by nature, so my heart immediately broke for this man’s parents, his sister, and my kids, as well as for my ex since they were really close.  I know death is a natural part of life, but this was the first time it hit so close to home for my kids and I just felt helpless to protect them from the pain I have become so familiar with.  God has an amazing way of working things out though, because coincidentally the day it happened, my 8-year old daughter was staying with me while she attended a Theater Skills Workshop.  I was asked not to tell her, that he would the day she went back to her dad’s for the week…that was probably the hardest 3 days of my life as a mom.  I just kept imagining how hard she was going to take it and I cried a lot that week, for her, for the family, my kids, it was a lot to process.

What amazes me about life, our spirituality, is the ability to feel someone else’s pain so immensely you’d think it happened to you.  Music, as most people in my life know, is therapeutic for me and I especially love when songs relate to something in my life.  If you listen to Country, or Christian music, you’ve heard of Lady A, or Hillary Scott, the lead female vocalist.  She certainly has a God-given talent for sure.  Her latest song, “Thy Will” got my attention not too long ago for the lyrical content and message to people about how it’s ok to question God as long as you remember that, ultimately, His will overpowers anyone else’s—and that He’s ok with us coming to Him with questions.  The day after I heard about the accident I was taking my daughter to her class and on my way back the song came on.  I got a little teary eyed because I just felt God reminding me that He always has a plan despite our pain.  But the part that just tore my heart open was where you can clearly hear the pain in her voice, the raw emotion when she sings, “I know you see me, I know you hear me, Lord; your plans are for me, goodness You have in store”.  My heart used it as an opportunity to pray and I sang instead, “I know you see them, I know you hear them, Lord; Your plans are for them, goodness You have in store”, and I sobbed pretty much the rest of the way home.  Four weeks later and the song still brings me to tears, but also gives me hope knowing He’s close to the broken-hearted.

I truly believe tragedy connects us to people, even those we may not have a close relationship with.  It unites people in a way I believe God uses for us to understand true compassion, humility, grace, love, etc.  I’d never even met personally this man my kids loved so dearly.  But knowing the pain it caused them, his parents, his sister, and even my ex-husband, just broke my heart into tiny pieces.  I know what it’s like to lose a brother and I saw firsthand what losing a child did to my grandparents, and little Isabel’s parents last year. It’s a pain that cuts deep and I feel is unlike any other.  It still boggles my mind that I could be so emotionally distraught over something that didn’t happen to someone in my immediate family. I am, however, so thankful for the gift of empathy because it helps me understand how God feels when we’re hurt.  It makes Him more relatable to me and less like a magical being in the sky that is just here to answer prayers and satisfy our needs.  It makes Him a father, a parent, a protector.  And I truly believe He’s used this tragedy to open my eyes to a deeper part of Himself, and to deepen my relationship with Him.  Every time I hear that song I pray for the family, my kids, his girlfriend, whom I think most people overlook in situations like this.

I’d asked if I could be present when my little girl was told about the accident, and the gratitude in my heart I feel for being able to comfort her is beyond words.  I knew she was going to be so heartbroken, she loved him so much and was, as I was told, glued to his hip.  Seeing the pain in her face as her daddy told her what happened is a feeling I would never wish upon anyone.  As parents, it’s our job to protect our kids, and it’s a horrible, helpless feeling when you can’t.  Knowing there are things my kids will face in their lives is enough to keep me awake every night.  And this was my first experience in dealing with something like this, I’m still learning what my role is in it.  Having split custody is hard enough without life throwing in things kids should never have to experience.  My mommy heart wants to be there to hold them every day and tell them everything will work out fine, but I can’t.  However, they do have a great support system with their dad and step-mom’s family, which I couldn’t be more grateful for, and it helps me to know they’re getting the love they need right now.  My oldest is now a junior, and my oldest son is a freshman.  With school starting I made sure to say an extra prayer that God will help them get through this year despite the emotional stress they’re going through.

I have to conclude by saying that, in my experience, death never gets easier to deal with.  I’ve lost many people in my life, mostly close family members, and it hurts deep every single time. I do, however, gain a new perspective-death has a funny way of reminding us what’s truly important. I’ve learned that reaching people in the middle of their pain is often difficult because everyone grieves differently.  I’m an emotional person and my passion has always been helping people, but sometimes I feel like praying is all the help I can offer.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just hard when all I want to do is wrap my arms around someone and let them cry on my shoulder.  Maybe that’s the point though, to meet people where they are and let them know you’re thinking of them, and praying.  Sometimes we don’t get to be the fixers, the one who mends the broken heart, the one who says the ‘right thing” at the “right time”.  God has shown me that sometimes I can’t control every little thing, and that my only job is to trust Him, thy will be done.

Thy Will, Hillary Scott

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Heroes

When hearing the word “hero”, the average person thinks of Batman, Superman, or any other superhero out there.  Just the other day I was asked if I had a hero, someone I looked up to or admired for any particular reason.  As cliché as it sounds, my first thought was Jesus because of all he sacrificed for us.  Sure, I can think of several people I admire a little more than others for little things that really stand out, but there wasn’t anyone that automatically jumped out at me.  Perhaps it’s because I can be a little too cynical and over analyze anyone’s place in my life, or somehow justify their “greatness”.  Or, maybe I’ve just never placed that high of title on anyone because we’re all fallible and I felt that maybe I’d be let down if I expected too much of them.

Well, as I reminisce this day last year and the heartbreak that occurred, I think I’ve discovered someone I consider to be a real life hero.  She’s the amazing mother of little Isabel who was called home last May 3rd after a year-long battle with DIPG.  I know she would disagree with me in this honorary title, but from my eyes, and those around her, she truly is.  She not only fought daily for her daughter and did every possible thing she could to take care of her, she did it with great faith.  Her husband Jonas, and other daughter, Molly, are also great champions in my eyes.  They are, to me, the epitome of unsinkable faith (as I’ve mentioned in a previous post), and that same tenacity to save their own daughters life has carried on even after her passing.  They support other families who are going through the same thing and are their warriors of faith.  She and her family have done some great things for the DIPG community and it has become her passion to find a cure.  To say she’s relentless is an understatement. It truly is a most beautiful thing when God takes your pain and uses it for something amazing.  To see her heart for other people is probably the most encouraging thing to witness.

Tonight, as I recall so vividly the day I found out about Isabel’s diagnosis, I sobbed like I did the day little Isabel went home.  I don’t fully understand the reason God has given me a special place in my heart for this particular family, but empathy is a great tool to grow spiritually, and so, I’m thankful.  Thankful that I can have a small understanding of what they’re feeling and be able to offer genuine prayer and condolences.  It’s not every day you meet such incredible people who endure great hardship with their faith intact.  And it’s not every day you get to be a part of a journey that’s filled with fear, doubt and questions, or get to be a part of a community that truly loves and prays for one another.

Sometimes words elude me when it comes to people who are grieving, I guess I’m afraid to say the wrong thing or fear that I won’t be able to say anything at all.  And at the beginning of this journey, I didn’t know what I should do or how I could help, I felt like I was inadequate to offer anything beneficial.  Looking back, I do wish I had trusted my instincts more and just put myself out there.  Perhaps God used this as a lesson for a future experience, or maybe that’s why He’s allowed me to grieve right along with them.  Clearly there’s no comparison to actually experiencing such a painful trial, but I think God uses situations to teach us lessons about life we wouldn’t otherwise learn.  All I know is I consider myself lucky to know such selfless people, the world needs more of them!

I’m sure I mentioned in my post last year about Isabel, but the song I heard the day I found out about her diagnosis was, “You Won’t Let Go” by Michael W. Smith.  As I listened to the song on repeat tonight, the words spoke to me differently than that day.  The first line in the song says:

No shadow comes without the light making a way…

It shook me to my core and all I could think about was being in my car that day and how somehow I just knew Isabel would meet Jesus sooner than we all hoped.  I wanted to be optimistic and pushed any conflicting thoughts or doubts away from my mind, but something deep within me knew, and so I wept uncontrollably while the song played.  I guess God was preparing me for the journey ahead and revealed to me a small part of His plan, yet again, I’m not sure why me.

Thinking about Jennifer & Jonas, and how this life altering event has changed so many plans they had in their hearts for their daughter, I can’t help but feel heartbroken for them.  And I know they don’t want that, but the mom in me can’t help it.  As they celebrate Isabel’s “Angelversary” today, Jennifer has asked for everyone to share a photo of yourself or your kids making a heart with your hands.  Such a simple, small gesture to show your love and support for what Isabel went through, as well as all the other kids fighting their own battle with DIPG.  Childhood cancer is probably the worst thing that could happen to a family.  It needs more attention and funding, it needs a cure!

To find out more about Isabel’s hero of a mom, dad, and sister, check out their Facebook page in honor of Isabel and see how you can help fund research for a cure.  Don’t forget to share your photos with the following hashtag #isabelangelversary.

Isabel Anderson

https://my.supportlpch.org/fundraise?fcid=443224

To read the blog I posted a year ago, click the link:  Unfailing Love

Beauty from Ashes

2016-03-15-09.52.44.png.pngAs my birthday rapidly approaches, I become increasingly aware that I’m yet another year older than my mom was when she passed away. It’s so  surreal, and also strange to me, because I don’t feel the age I am, and I haven’t fully concluded if that’s a good or bad thing. This birthday will officially put me in my “mid thirties”, and that term always reminds me of being a teenager and thinking that meant you were getting old. I suppose age is truly a condition of the heart,  in which case I’ll be forever young since by the time I’d feel my age, I’ll likely have more grandkids than I know what to do with!  And before I go much further, I have to apologize if this post seems all over the place. When I write at night, or the early part of the morning, my brain is usually scattered with all the things I want to say and it doesn’t always come out as put together as I’d like. Hopefully it adds character to my posts and makes me a little more relatable.

I have to be honest and admit that I almost feel like the older I get, the more immature I feel to some degree. Maybe it’s because I spent the last of my teen years and my entire twenties being a wife and stay-at-home mom. And though I felt ready, I think rushing into such great responsibility caused me to suppress the growing up I so desperately needed because my focus was taken completely off myself and onto my family. I never “discovered” who I was or focused on my own needs, I guess I thought I didn’t have any or that they weren’t as important. I was the epitome of a selfless person because I knew that’s what my family needed, but no one ever told me that one day it would come back to bite me in the butt, big time.

The more I discover about myself, the more afraid I am to dig deeper. Certain situations reveal a selfishness I never knew existed, and to be quite frank, it scares me to death. I don’t like thinking that underneath all those selfless acts was just a selfish person trying to get to people to like her. Isn’t that the epitome of manipulation? Though, if I’m being honest, it stems from more of a self-protective stance and not outright self-centeredness or to be self-serving. I know as a Christian I’m supposed to be selfless and put others first, but sometimes, I just don’t want to. I think part of me wants to be taken care of the way I always took care of everyone else. And I know that’s not inherently a bad thing, but when you neglect your responsibilities while waiting for it to happen, it can spiral out of control. I catch myself off guard at times because I’ll think or feel something and I’m surprised at my automatic response. I’ll ask myself, “why do I feel this way; why was that my immediate reaction”? I can sometimes trace it back to the root cause, but other times I’m left to wonder. Is it all of the trauma/drama I’ve encountered in my life? Is it the way I’ve been treated and my walls are up? Is it just my hormones settling down after spending so much of my life being pregnant? How do I fix it? (I’m sure I’ve mentioned I’m a fixer, self-helper kind of person)   Maybe I’ve always been a selfish person and I was too afraid people wouldn’t like me so I became a people pleaser. I know I didn’t like people to be upset with me, and I never understood why some people just didn’t like me, I’ve always been nice…I thought?  But I read a quote a while back that pretty much summed up what I needed to hear. It said, “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place”.  It brought clarity to my thoughts and helped me realize that I was always afraid to disappoint people, and I constantly worried I would do or say something that would make people not like me. Being at the age I am now, when my whole life is supposed to all be “coming together”, I feel like I’m just beginning. The only reason this upsets me is because, as a perfectionist, and someone who likes things to be the way they’re “supposed to be” as opposed to how they actually are, I feel like I’ve failed at something monumental. I know everyone’s life looks different, but I’ve spent so much time trying to be “normal” and so far, I’m still not…maybe God’s trying to tell me something?

Toward the end of last year I began feeling like I was on the precipice of a huge change in my life. It was a feeling tinged with sadness,  but I wasn’t sure why, I didn’t want to imagine anything bad happening.  The mom’s group I was going to was coming to an end for the semester and I was feeling like I may not come back-which was crazy since I’d only missed one day of the almost two years I attended. Some other things happened and I could see my relationship with God taking a backseat in my daily routine, and though it frustrated me, I almost felt helpless to change it. The new year came and went as I wrote about in my last blog, and I just felt like part of me was changing, but not in a good way. I still prayed, but I wasn’t making God a priority or spending the time I needed to keep myself away from the depression I can often feel creep in when I isolate myself from the world. I know I need my solitude, but I could see the walls going up again and honestly, I just didn’t care. Things were happening that made me frustrated with God because I’d spent so much time praying about those exact things that were falling apart. Why would He allow something to fall apart that I knew in my heart He’d ordained? If you’ve ever been mad at God, you totally relate to my inquisitiveness. It just didn’t make sense so I withdrew from Him. As childish as it is, I felt like if He wasn’t going to fix the problems, I wasn’t going to come to Him with them anymore-that would show Him! (haha) Do you ever sit and laugh at yourself for being like the children you’re raising? It is so funny to me that, as an adult, I can be just as immature and self-centered as my kids who don’t know any better.

I think the hardest thing about convictions is that once it’s brought to your attention, you have no choice but to fix the issue. As much as a self-helper I am, I like to be the one to choose to change, not have my flaws pointed out to me, that’s a huge hit to the ego. And I know God isn’t sitting there saying, “I told you so”, it’s more like, “are you ready now”? And my response isn’t much better than what I get from my kids when they realize I was right. I wonder if God ever chuckles at us and our desire to control things beyond our capabilities. There’s a fine line between self-sufficience and relying completely on God. I know that’s ultimately my problem, I haven’t found that delicate balance. (As much as I’ve talked about knowing this, you’d think I’d have it figured out by now, right?) Because just when I think I’ve surrendered control, I want to take it back thinking it’s what I’m supposed to do. God isn’t going to run my life for me, there are things He wants me to do, but I feel like I’m always failing at my part and I hate that. I know I’m harder on myself than anyone else, that’s a hard habit to break and certainly doesn’t benefit anything.

There’s a new song out by Francesca Battastelli called “If We’re Honest” that completely broke my heart the first time I heard it. She says:

Truth is harder than a lie The dark seems safer than the light and everyone has a heart that loves to hide.  I’m a mess and so are you, we’ve built walls nobody can get through Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine, ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides, and mercy’s waiting on the other side, if we’re honest.

 All I could think about was how that’s totally me! I don’t want people to see my flaws, because sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who struggles with them (even though I know that’s totally not true). I feel like if I’m not “perfect”, then people won’t depend on me or ask for help with their issues. When I say it out loud, I know it’s crazy, but it’s hard not to put on a smile and pretend to have it all together when it’s my instinct. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who know my every flaw, but those are people who either live with me or whom I trust to help me with love and complete honesty.  I’ve realized that my instinctive reaction is to put up walls so I don’t get hurt. And then if people disappoint me, it’s easier to get over because I never really let them in anyway. I know that’s no way to live, and it’s certainly something I’m recognizing and attempting to work on. It’s most definitely not easy, and I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near where I want to be. But they say the first step to fixing a problem is to acknowledge there is one, so that’s a step in the right direction. I was just telling my husband that I’m tired of my automatic responses, especially when it’s directed at him. I know it’s a reflection of my heart, I’ve just felt so weighted down and in a rut and hadn’t had the strength or desire to work on it.

Ultimately we’re all imperfect and flawed, we all have pain and hidden parts of our heart we don’t want anyone to see because it’s vulnerability and it’s uncomfortable, I know for me it is anyway. I wrote a blog last July about how I’d acknowledged fear for the first time in my life. It was consuming me and I didn’t even know it! I’ve talked about how I’ve always had this outward confidence, and that I didn’t care what people thought of me. (Maybe it’s because I never knew what people thought of me?) Maybe this realization was because every bad thing that ever happened in my life was beginning to surface as problems I needed to face and it scared me. Maybe all the things I’d gone through created this tough outer shell as protection from facing pain as it hit me. There’s no maybe, that’s exactly what was happening. Every tear, every heartbreak, every time someone ”proved me right”, built this wall I thought was protecting my heart, but in reality, it was keeping everyone out. It was just the beginning of the journey God was preparing me for. Realizing I was actually scared to death was what I needed to break down that wall and move deeper into my pain. So many times I’ve wanted to just wallow in my self-pity, pretend that there wasn’t anything actually wrong with me, but God is relentless in case you didn’t know. I kept coming across things that said, “don’t quit, your destiny is on the other side of fear”, or, “God gives his hardest battles to His strongest soldiers”, you know, inspirational things no one wants to hear when they want to be a defeatist.

A couple of weeks ago God put something on my heart that I didn’t realize I was holding on to, not as tightly as I was anyway. He’s since given me the closure I needed to put it behind me and let go completely, it’s always through music too, it never fails. The song is, “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again”, and the verse that got me says:

Beginning, just let that word wash over you,  it’s alright now, love’s healing hands will pull you through. So take one step, look back up, see the rise and feel the sun because your story’s far from over and your journey’s just begun

I, of course, cried as I always do, but my mind began racing with thoughts and questions.  “Beginning? Beginning of what? I thought I was past that? Past being afraid of trusting God with my future? What? What is going on, God’??  Have you ever been so afraid of something but you didn’t know why? Or knew it was an irrational fear but it somehow had a grip on you anyway? That’s where I was in that moment. It’s where I still kind of am because even though I know He has a far better plan for me than anything I could ever do on my own, or even hope for myself, there’s still this little girl inside who’s so afraid of being hurt and thinking of all that could go wrong. Yes friends, somehow afraid that the Creator of the world, and me, is going to hurt me. Ugh, just admitting that breaks my heart. But it also allows me the freedom to be vulnerable and admit that it’s a struggle, whew!

I guess I am at the beginning of a new journey, one that’s paved with freedom and true contentment, the ability to trust the process and know that the best days of my life are a combination of things I’ve been through and things I’ve yet to experience (like being the mother of the bride 3 times!) It’s time to let go of all the expectations I’ve put on myself over the course of my life, to stop waiting on the end result and enjoy the process of life. To realize God’s time frame isn’t my own. And even though I felt like I was over all this junk, He knew I wasn’t and is teaching me to embrace the messy parts of life, as uncomfortable as it is. To know that though growth is difficult and incredibly painful, it produces something beautiful. To know that every single trial I’ve been through is being used to refine my character always makes me think of Isaiah 61:3…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…”. Knowing that God is the only one who can take someone so broken, something so tragic, even when it’s self-inflicted, and turn it into something amazing is truly humbling, this beauty from the ashes of past pain.  To be able to let go of a burden that was never mine to carry is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, my soul feels lighter.

It’s exciting to think about what He has planned for me as I take this step into the unknown, learning to let go of all the things that were holding me down, one obstacle at a time. And I hope to continue to use my life’s experiences as tools to help others where they are, especially my own children.

Resolutions and Realizations

This past New Year’s Eve was certainly not what I was wanting or had looked forward to in the days prior. Life was dealing me some difficult situations and since November really, I’ve felt a slow transition going on inside me. I can’t say I was depressed, I just felt unfazed by anything. So while I initially had looked forward to celebrating the New Year with friends, I ended up not even caring when our plans got canceled. Last year I was excited and actually made some practical resolutions-which, if you know me, you know how out of character that is. I’d had a renewed sense of excitement about a fresh year and all the ways I wanted to be different. This year didn’t meet me with the same eagerness, it felt like just another day. Now, almost 2 weeks into it and I feel peaceful, more content, within my soul. Maybe I’m remembering why I never have made resolutions. That any day is a good day to start something new, it shouldn’t be reserved for one day. So, on this 13th day of the month, I’ve decided now is as good a time as any to pursue my passions and discover all this life has to offer!

Reflecting back on 2015, and really for the past almost two years now, I’ve asked God to reveal to me what His plan for my life is. I over think and over analyze everything, so sometimes I feel like I’m not getting a specific answer. I have also learned that He doesn’t want to dictate every minute detail of our life, that being obedient and serving Him is most important. He reveals Himself in the little things and shows us the path a little at a time. I never went to college to get a degree because I chose to become a wife and mom instead. Now, all these years later, I’m at the point where my kids are getting older and I feel like I’ve pushed my passions and dreams aside to be the best mom I could. I love creating things, hence the 6 kids, and have tried many different outlets to see what piqued my interest the most. Music will always be at the top of my list of things that soothe my soul, but let’s face it, I’ll never be a songwriter. I’ve recently discovered coloring books for adults and how much I get to put my creativity to good use. Blogging has been therapeutic more than anything, but it’s allowed me to use my creativity to tell my story. Along with all these things is my fascination with makeup. Growing up I used to watch my sister spend an hour in front of the mirror creating a masterpiece. She would literally spend 45 minutes getting her eyeshadow blended perfectly, and all this was before the days of nice makeup brushes-now that’s perseverance! I loved watching her apply her makeup but never really understood why. As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve enjoyed creating new looks myself, and trying different colors to accentuate my features. And now, with the amazing world of technology, I’ve gone from watching 15 second tutorials on Instagram to full version videos on YouTube. Watching these women (and men) create, to me, art on someone’s face, is like gazing upon a beautiful painting! Having a creative mind can be challenging at times, more so when you don’t have a specific focus. And I’ve put myself out there to see what captured my attention the most or held it the longest, and at this point makeup wins, hands down. But for me it goes beyond just liking the way it looks or trying to hide flaws, I love the artistry behind it. To take a blank canvas and blend colors & techniques is art at its finest. I’m sure fashion designers all over the world would agree that they’re creating art when they find the perfect pattern for a blouse, or create a new design for a skirt. It’s a whole new world to me, or perhaps one I’m seeing in a different light. After I’ve done my makeup or created a look on someone else, it’s an incredibly gratifying feeling, one I haven’t experienced outside of seeing my babies for the first time. You’re just like,”wow, I created that”! I imagine that’s how God feels about each of us. And when we put our talents to good use, amazing things can happen. I believe He gives us desires and passions to help us navigate our calling in life and it’s our job to pursue the dreams He places in our hearts. The biggest realization I’ve had in all this is that the desires in our hearts are ones that will bring honor and glory to Himself. And that if what we’re doing somehow fulfills that, He will bless us in ways we can’t imagine! I spent the better part of last year wishing and hoping that things would turn out in a specific way because it’s what made the most sense or seemed the most appealing. I still laugh at myself when I get so caught up in my own selfish wants and subconsciously think my ways are best. I know in my heart He has better intentions for me than I even have for myself most of the time.

My heart is telling me to pursue this passion, and right on schedule, my fear kicks in. I think to myself, “there’s already so many beauty bloggers on YouTube, I don’t have anything new to offer, I can’t afford to experiment with a bunch of new products, what if people don’t like me”, etc. Fear always rises up in us just before any major shift in our life to prevent us from taking that leap. I hate it, and I hate how familiar and convincing that voice is. But I just keep trying to remind myself that it takes a leap of faith to overcome fear, and growth doesn’t come from comfort zones. I know that no matter what, God will honor my obedience to overcoming fear. If it’s meant to be, it will happen. I would love to become a makeup artist and be able to put my passion to use. Helping people has always been a passion of mine, and I think this would be a small way I could fulfill that. Not everyone gets to live their dream, but I believe with the right amount of hard work and determination, all dreams are attainable. I’ve been told I’m relentless and when I set my mind to something, I don’t stop until I get it. So I’m praying this adventure is no exception. As they say, your dreams are on the other side of fear!

I also have to add that I probably wouldn’t even be considering this if it weren’t for my husband.  I can’t imagine how frustrating in must be to be married to a creative person who isn’t sure what they want to do in life, or who has tried many different things only to lose interest.  I can see God’s hand at work in both of us, and I know I need encouragement and support as much as the next person.  I think I’ve always been afraid to explore anything in depth with the fear I would be taking away from my role as a wife or mom.  So to have him not only supporting me, but encouraging me, is the greatest gift I could have ever asked for!  And to have that from the person whose supposed to be my biggest fan is probably the best feeling in the world.   So, to my husband, thank you for believing in me and encouraging me to pursue something that satisfies me in a way no office job ever could!

 

One of my first real experiences with creating more than just an everyday look is coming up next month. I get to attempt a creation that will accentuate the beautiful dress my oldest daughter has chosen for her first winter formal. That excitement and experience is for another post, I’m just flattered she’s chosen me to be a part of that day in a way that involves more than just taking twelve dozen photos! (And yes, there will be plenty of those to come!)

So, here’s to resolutions, realizations, and pursuing your dreams-no matter what day it is! And I apologize for the huge gap in time since my last post. I hadn’t felt inspired to write so it took a backseat. I hope this encourages you to be bold and take a leap of faith in whatever you may be contemplating today!

 

Isaiah 43:19

19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;  now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness  and rivers in the desert.

 

 

 

 

Sweet 16

Oh to be 16 again.  For every girl that birthday is different, and not everyone celebrates it as a huge milestone.  For me, however, it was a day I looked forward to the most since my grandma always made it sound like this amazing turning point.  Turning 16 was almost as exciting as turning 18, it was sort of like a “coming of age” celebration.   It’s the age driving became an option, if we were mature enough, my sister and I could date, and it was my “golden” birthday.  (It’s been brought to my attention that not everyone is aware of what that means, but it’s simply the birthday where your age corresponds with the date of your birthday.  So for me, my 16th birthday was even more special since I turned 16 on the16th).  I was so excited to be turning 16 because of all these milestones I would finally arrive at, and honestly, though I didn’t start driving until I was 20, it was everything I hoped for.  I could finally date! And I finally felt “old enough” to be the age I was.  (Most of my life everyone assumed I was older due to my maturity).  That birthday proved to be the best one I’d had up until that point, I still recall how excited I was and hope I can create that same memory for my own daughters.

I ended up not dating much, I realized I was a pretty sensitive person and couldn’t stand the thought of getting attached to someone who could potentially break my heart.  Nonetheless, going on dates was a fun time for me because it gave me a little freedom and time to enjoy things like going to dinner, the movies, miniature golfing, etc.  My youth, however, was short lived because about 3 months after my brother was killed, my (now) ex and I talked about getting pregnant so we could get married-which I know sounds bizarre but it was the only way I could convince my grandparents getting married was a good idea.  I was asked last night if I regretted that decision since it caused a lot of (obvious) turmoil.  My (short) answer is simply this: absolutely not.

It still feels surreal that I’m celebrating my oldest daughter’s 16th birthday, though I’ve been thinking of this day since she was born.  I don’t feel old enough to have a 16-year-old, maybe because I shouldn’t be.  But remembering the day she was born is so significant in my mind because it was the day I became a mother for the first time.  And, regardless of my age, I know I wasn’t alone in my fear since no one knows what they’re doing with their first baby.  I remember when the doctor laid her on my stomach and cleaned her off, I wasn’t sure what to think.  It was a strange feeling to see this little person I’d dreamed about for 9 months.  She was so little (though she was 8 pounds, 9 ounces) and all I could think was, “wow, she’s finally here”.  I was momentarily sad that she looked nothing like me, but I didn’t focus on it because I was in awe that I had just given birth to a little girl.  Before I found out the gender, I’d prayed for a boy so I could name him after my recently deceased brother, but God had other plans.  One of my aunts specifically asked me not to name her Davida, which still makes me laugh to this day.  The night she was born I was sitting in the hospital bed, wanting to go to sleep but not wanting to leave her in that rickety old plastic bassinet.  I asked one of the nurses if she could sleep with me in my bed, and she replied, “of course honey, she can sleep wherever you like”.  I was beyond excited to have her in bed with me, and it created the tradition for the rest of my babies.

I don’t think any amount of books you read ever prepares you for the realities of having a child.  And I certainly recall feeling horribly unqualified to parent an infant, regardless of my love for babies growing up.  She wasn’t able to nurse long due to what the doctor called her being “tongue tied”, and I felt sad that she would be missing the amazing nutrients from breastmilk.  But I did what I had to do and bottle fed, and actually enjoyed being able to let other people hold her while she ate.  Being born so close to Thanksgiving, she was so tiny at her first one.  Everyone passed her around and adored her, I was so proud of my accomplishment.  During my pregnancy I vowed to myself to be the best mother I could be since I knew what it was like to not have one at all.  Unfortunately, life got in the way and unforeseen circumstances would prevent everything I’d dreamed of, but God has a way of providing healing and I still look at her as one of my greatest accomplishments.

One of my favorite memories of her is right after my first son was born, I was feeding him and my hormones kicked in.  At the time, we’d decided not to have any more kids and I was incredibly sad that he would be my last baby.  Alyssa could hear me crying from the other room and asked what was wrong, but I told her nothing because she was only two and a half at the time, and I didn’t think she’d understand the term, “baby blues”.  She came out and looked at me, saw that I was crying and asked again what was wrong.  So I told her I was just sad that I wasn’t going to be having any more babies.  She promptly climbed into the chair with me, laid her head on my shoulder, and said, “it’s okay mommy, I still love you”.  I, of course, began to sob even more and hugged her tightly.

I know they say your first child is the one you learn the most from, the one you make the most mistakes with, and typically the one you feel you screwed up the most.  Most moms I’m sure feel like they completely screwed their first kid up, but I think because I was so young and felt the pressure from so many people around me, I thought I was the worst mom in the world.  To watch your firstborn grow into a person with feelings, ideas, flaws, successes and failures, is by far the scariest adventure.  I’ve seen how God used my troubled past to help her grow and become the young woman He created her to be, and have been reminded that in order to be what I never had, I needed to offer compassion and grace in the midst of her trials and mistakes.  Being a mother has changed me far more than I ever imagined when I got pregnant, ways that I am still amazed at to this day.  We, in a sense, grew up together, and I really don’t think that’s exclusive to teen or young moms. Each of my children have taught me something I didn’t know before and expanded the depth of the love in my heart, for them as well as others in my life.  Knowing you have people around you, watching and learning from you, forces you to take responsibility for your actions and be intentional about your life. I’m constantly aware of my tone of voice, attitude, critical remarks about myself and occasionally other people.  I know I’m not perfect and my goal is to teach her, and all my children, that perfection is an illusion and it’s our imperfections, especially as mothers, that make us special.

She’ll never know what it’s like to not have a mother during her childhood or teenage years. Someone who comforted her when she was scared, who changed her sheets after throwing up, who picked out fashionable outfits for the first day of school and picture day, or to take a thousand photos of every milestone.  The person who helps you get ready for proms, dates, and most significantly, your wedding day. (I will admit, this was the most exciting realization in my mind once the doctor announced I was having a girl)  And though she’s blithely unaware of all the sacrifices a mother makes, as are most kids, one day she’ll become a mother and understand how much love you never knew your heart could contain when that sweet little baby comes out and looks at you with innocent eyes and a love that could only come from the One who created us.  I truly feel children are God’s way of revealing to us how deeply He loves us.  It’s indescribable, immeasurable, unexplainable.

I never knew becoming a mom would change me as much as it has, and that alone is reason enough to not feel regret for choosing to have a baby so young.  Even with everything she and I have been through, and only really developing a bond in the past 2 years, I am so thankful God chose me to be her mom and that she’s the one who made me a mom for the first time.

So, to my sweet 16 year old daughter, here’s a little piece of my heart:

I promise to be by your side for every major milestone you go through, as well as the little ones.  I will always push you to be your best because that’s my job, and I know you have it in you.  I’m sorry for all the mistakes I’ve made along the way and pray you’ll forgive me, knowing I was learning right along with you.  You made me a mommy, and you make me want to be the best mom because I know what it’s like to not have one.  You make me proud to be your mom whether or not I say it (or show it).  You have a beautiful heart and I am so in awe of how God is growing you into the woman He had in mind when He knitted you together in my womb.  I’m so glad you weren’t a boy because I wouldn’t have the deeply rooted desires in my heart to give you what I never had.  You’re a strong, dominant, free-spirited child of God and I know you’re going to make an amazing wife and mommy someday.  Thank you for loving me, even when I didn’t deserve it, and for helping me realize that life isn’t perfect but the journey we’ve had together is worth every single heartache and failure we’ve gone through.  As I go through this precious milestone with you, I hope you realize how much you’re loved.  I hope you begin to see yourself the way I do, the way God does, because I never want you to doubt how amazing you are.  I love you more than words can express, more than I ever thought I could, and I pray your birthday truly is a “sweet 16”!

The Dance

David, Felicia, and I
David, Felicia, and I

I was thumbing through my notes from my book I started, looking for where I talked about my brother. And for some reason, I guess I hadn’t gotten to that part just yet, and I don’t know why it bothers me but it does. Well, today would have been his 38th birthday, and I can’t believe it’s been 17 years since he was killed in active duty in the Air Force. It happened 8 days after his 21st birthday, and finding out he was killed was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. We’d only gotten close about 2 years prior to his death because we had the same mom but different dads, and we didn’t really get to grow up together. Losing a family member is always difficult, but something about losing him still deeply pains my heart to this day.

I remember hearing how the day our mom was killed he sat on the front porch waiting for her to come pick him up. I guess it was her time to see him and she never made it, so he sat there until it got dark because he didn’t want to believe she wasn’t coming for him. It broke my heart when I heard that, he was 9 when she died so he was a little older and probably more aware of how tragic the situation was. Our grandparents had his birthday party for him that year in lieu of her absence, and I still remember how unenthused he was to open presents without her-birthdays were her favorite thing, she always did something special for us no matter what.

I saw my brother here and there throughout the years, but we never developed a deep friendship because we didn’t live together. It wasn’t until I was in 8th grade, when his grandparents took my sister and me in as foster kids that we really got close. She loved us being there because she got to see him more, and we got to spend time with him that we’d missed out on. I remember him talking about how much he’d wanted to be a big brother and how excited he was to finally be getting the opportunity. He started dating a girl my age and she and I hit it off right away, we’re still friends to this day. I would give anything to be able to have my kids know him, he would be the best uncle because he loved kids so much. I actually got pregnant with my oldest a few months after he passed away and prayed she would be a boy so I could name her after him, I guess God had other plans.

I have so many random memories of my brother, but I think my favorite is the fact that he taught me how to pray. He had my sister and I kneel down on the floor with hands folded in prayer position on our bed, and had us repeat the well-known, “now I lay me down to sleep” prayer. I remember asking him if we could tell God anything else or if it had to be that, and he kind of chuckled and said, “Boo Boo, you can tell him anything that’s on your mind”. I was really excited because it felt like such a grown up thing to me to be able to pray. As I got older, he told me how disappointed he was that I wasn’t a boy. That when I came out a girl, he cried because he just wanted a little brother to play with. Makes sense now why he tortured me as a kid, and tied me up as the “Indian” when he and my sister played cowboys & Indians. One of my other favorite memories now, not so much then as a little kid, was that he used to make my sister and me cereal, but would always make sure he took at least one bite as payment for having made us our food.

One year he took my sister to her winter formal because her date backed out at the last minute. He intimidated a boyfriend I’d had one time because he was being mean to me and there was no way David was going to stand for that. One year, my sister and I spent the summer with our father and David sent us a mixed tape of music he knew we’d like because he missed us and wanted us to have ”good tunes to listen to”. He took my sister and I to see Scream when it came out because he knew my grandparents never would, rocked out to Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping any time it came on in the car, snuck us in to play pool at his favorite billiard’s place, and just showed us how to have a good time no matter what. He used to tease my grandma endlessly about a time she misspoke at his high school graduation party. He said to her as she was leaving, “Now grandma, don’t be drinking and driving, okay”? She laughed and said, “David, I don’t do that no more”. Now anyone who knows her, knows she never did, but it was something he never let her live down.

One of my last memories of him was shortly before he went into boot camp. He’d come over to see us and we’d just gotten a video camera so he was playing with it. I was making boxed macaroni and cheese and he decided to record me doing it. I was somewhat annoyed that he was and asked him to stop. But we all know brothers, especially older ones, so he kept recording me. Well, unbeknownst to me, I was making it all wrong. I didn’t particularly care because I was annoyed he was recording me in the first place, but I also didn’t want him telling me how to cook. After I stirred together all my ingredients, he promptly explained to me how I’d done it wrong and then explained in detail the correct way to make it. Let me tell you, 17 years later and I still make macaroni & cheese the way he suggested, which is apparently the “correct way”.

The day I found out he was killed hit me like a ton of bricks. I was attending the high school he’d attended, per his suggestion, and it was Career Day, so I was dressed in a nice black skirt and a blue button-up shirt. My grandparents were apartment managers so having the phone ring early in the morning wasn’t always surprising. I heard my grandpa talking low so my sister and I went out to see who he was talking to. He never looked up until he hung up the phone. By this time my grandma had stumbled down the hall and into the front room as well and asked who was on the phone. He looked stunned, sad, in disbelief, and said, “It was David’s dad, David was killed”. I was so dumbfounded, I didn’t know what to do or think. I looked at my sister and we just started bawling. My poor grandma wasn’t even fully awake yet and looked at my grandma asking repeatedly if he was serious. He hugged her and she cried, we all cried, in shock and not wanting to believe the tragic news. My grandma asked if I still wanted to go to school, and I really didn’t, but I didn’t want to miss my presentation so I thought I could pull myself together. I got to school and sat in the cafeteria with my friends, telling them what had happened. Most of them knew him because he’d gone to the same school. I just kept picturing in my mind the horrific car accident that killed him, over and over, like a broken record. I know I shouldn’t have, but the images wouldn’t escape my mind. I ended up leaving and spent the afternoon at home with family.

The viewing was a couple days later, and I’m still amazed at how at peace I felt going to see him. It didn’t look like him really, he was pretty thin person but the accident caused him to look swollen. I didn’t care though, it was the closure I needed and I didn’t want to leave his side. I just wanted to stay with him as long as I could. I was blown away by how many people were there, he was truly loved by so many. The day of the funeral was harder than the viewing, and I suppose it’s because I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him anymore. My sister sang what is still one of my favorite songs, “On My Knees” by Jaci Velasquez. (And as I just said that, I’m realizing how perfect of a choice that was since he taught us to pray on our knees). The family room was filled, and as my sister sang, the room was incredibly silent. I tried to hold back tears, but I just couldn’t. I started crying, then the rest of the room started crying. That pain still pierces my heart at times, sometimes I still can’t believe he’s gone. I know that day was so hard for everyone, and I love that I still have a relationship with his siblings from his dad’s side. They both have parts of him that I loved, and they resemble him a lot so that keeps his memory alive.

After he passed, I had several vivid dreams of him. I’d never dreamt of anyone else like that, but I was glad he was still in my thoughts. The first dream I had was actually pretty dark. It was supposed to be the day of his funeral and it was night time. A bunch of our family and friends were scattered on the steps in front of a church. I’d glanced over and saw my brother in his car with his head rested on his hands on the steering wheel. I’d asked someone what he was doing and why he wasn’t getting out of his car. They said, “Because he doesn’t wanna be gone”. I woke up right after that and felt really sad. The second dream I had was him, his girlfriend at the time and myself, were walking down a hallway of the high school we went to. She was between he and I, and they were holding hands. I asked why I couldn’t hold his hand and she just said, “Because you’re not allowed to touch him, only me”. I woke up sad from that as well because I just wanted to hug him or touch him somehow and tell him how much I loved him. The last dream was by far the worst, and the last one I had of him. This time he and I were in some building with an Olympic sized swimming pool. We were on the highest diving board, hand-in-hand, walked to the end without looking at each other, and I looked in his direction and said, “I miss you David”, to which he replied, “I miss you too, Boo Boo”, and I woke up. My heart hurt so badly and I woke up sobbing. I tried to go back to sleep and pick up where I left off, but it didn’t work. I cried for a while, wishing it weren’t real, but I just ended up crying myself to sleep.

Losing my mom at the age of 5 was difficult, but I didn’t understand death at the time so it didn’t break my heart the same. Losing my brother has been one of the hardest trials I’ve ever faced in my life. I gave my second son his name as a middle name so I would have a part of him forever. My aunt says my son reminds her a lot of my brother when he was a kid, and that warms my heart beyond measure because I feel like it was God’s way of giving me a part of my brother to have around. My brother had a wild, yet kind and gentle spirit. He was liked by pretty much everyone who knew him. He was funny, loved to have a good time, and make people smile, a lot like our mom actually. He loved Garth Brooks and most country, but he also loved Metallica and some of the most unlikely music-I think that’s one of my favorite things we have in common. He was such a fun person, and I guess that’s what I miss most about him. He always loved criminology and his childhood dream was to be in the Air Force, he was in ROTC as preparation for the day he would leave his family and embark on something that meant the world to him.

The Dance (by Garth Brooks) will always remind me of David, it was one of his all-time favorite songs, and it’s applicable to any situation in which you lose someone. I cry every time I hear it and just think about all the memories we’ve missed out on making together. But I do have some really special memories of him, and they’ve created what I have to keep with me now that he’s gone. Though I miss him all the time, I’m thankful for the time God did give us. They’re, for me, “the dance” we shared from childhood and up until God took him home. I think ultimately it is best that we don’t always know when our loved ones are going to pass away, because I don’t think even the knowledge is enough to ever fully prepare you. But part of me wishes I’d known him leaving for Kuwait would be the last time I saw him because I would have hugged him a little tighter, perhaps convinced him not to go. He and my mom both passed away incredibly young, and though I miss them both terribly, I know they’re in a better place and I’ll see them again one day. And, as Garth says, I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.

Happy birthday David! I hope you’re celebrating with Jesus!

Sometimes, It’s The Little Things

I wonder how many times we miss hearing from God because we’re only looking for the big signs. The glaringly obvious ways He shows up and reveals something amazing to us. And all the while we’re too busy or too focused on this one particular way of expecting Him to show up that we overlook the little things.

I adopted the phrase, “it’s the little things”, about 5 or 6 years ago because at that point,  it didn’t take much to make me happy.  I’m not sure at what point I let that slip away, but I’d like to get back to using that mantra.

I try to read my Bible often. I don’t get to it as often as I’d like, but enough to feel like I’m finally understanding it. Tonight I was reading in Luke and when I was finished, I just kind of skipped around, half-heartedly asking God if there was something He wanted to say to me. I can be a talkative person and tend to not always listen to Him as well as I should. I flipped to Titus and the first thing I saw was a part of scripture in a little box as the highlight of the chapter. It said:

God Saves Us Through Mercy

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

At one point in my life hearing God was no problem for me. I attended early morning prayer years ago for a few months, and afterwards would come home and read the Bible hoping to hear more. God spoke to me all the time and I shared with people the things He said if it were about them. (I don’t say that to sound like a spiritual guru or to pat myself on the back. I was just at a desperate place in my life where God broke me down and made me see how much I needed Him) I’d like to say perhaps I was a bit more “spiritual” at that point, but I think the truth is, I was just a better listener back then. Life has thrown me some major curveballs and I’ve made some pretty horrible decisions. I think I got distracted, defeated, perhaps even arrogant, and I started trying too hard. God can show up in huge ways and provide grand miracles, but more often than not, He’s in the everyday, simple things. A quick scripture in the Bible He knows you need to hear at that very moment, doing something nice for someone, taking care of small children when you’d rather sleep. There is nothing we can do to earn His love, His mercy, His grace. He didn’t give us these things because we’re “good enough”, we’re good enough because of these things. Wow, what a revelation for me, and hopefully anyone reading this! I’ve talked a lot in my posts about not feeling good enough, the fact I like being busy and doing things, and think somehow I need to please God all the time. To have Him specifically point out a scripture in a chapter I wasn’t even reading is probably the highlight of my week! I have been beating my head against a metaphoric wall trying to figure out how to please Him, prove my devotion and desire to be the person He’s called me to be. And all I needed was this tiny little verse, these words spoken softly and directly to my heart, to show me I can stop trying. Whew, what a sigh of relief, I think I’ll sleep a little better at night knowing my efforts were ultimately all in vain. Instead of telling myself I need to focus on my “good deeds” for the day, I need to rest in the fact that no matter what I do, God loves me and His mercy & grace are endless. Just saying that out loud puts this supernatural peace in my heart and helps me realize I can stop tirelessly trying. That I can stop measuring my works against someone else’s, or even, especially, my own. I pray for the wisdom and strength every day to remind myself of this truth!

He doesn’t need me on an endless hamster wheel of effort, He needs me to be faithful in the little things every day.

So simple, yet so profound. I love learning new things and definitely don’t shy away from knowledge and wisdom from those around me. The mom’s group I attend has been a huge life changer for me because it’s taught me how to love and accept others in a way I hadn’t learned before, especially other wives and moms. Having 6 kids I’ve prided myself on being the one people would come to for advice because of all the experience I have-and I love that God uses me in that way. But joining a table of women who have needs much like mine has shown me that I don’t have to be the one with all the answers, I don’t have to offer the most advice. I can just sit back and give these women a chance to share their heart knowing that if God wants to, He’ll use me, and if not, then I learned something about them, perhaps myself, that I wasn’t previously aware of. I believe the women at my table were hand-picked by God because of the needs we have. The leader at my table has been one of the greatest blessings and I truly am thankful for her role in my life. I tend to be a straight shooter and appreciate when others are too. She always speaks the truth in love, even if it’s not what you want to hear. There’s not a negative bone in her body and her love for us is definitely something to strive for. I admire all the leaders in this group to be honest.  They’re doing something for the greater good of a community of women who are raising the next generation of children who will become pastors, mentors, and parents themselves. Without the vision of the woman who created it, it wouldn’t exist. Her heart for God is evident in her teachings every week and I am so thankful she said yes to God when He asked her to start this group. Her passion is contagious and because of her, I’ve grown so much in my spiritual walk and feel confident in my parenting. She, and all the leaders, are a living example of Titus and I feel so blessed to meet with these women every week and learn from them.

Any time I feel God speaking directly to me it always makes me emotional. I’m sure that’s standard, but I think the reason it hits me so hard is because it reminds me that no matter what I’ve gone through in my life, there is a God who loves me so much and uses even the smallest things to show His love. As I read the small chapter, it shed a new light on my life and how He uses me. I just got a new tattoo, one I’ve been wanting for over a year now, an anchor with an arrow. The anchor represents to me that God is the anchor for my soul, and as a daily reminder that true faith is unsinkable faith (hence the name of my blog). The arrow represents a prophetic word I had spoken over me a year ago, about how God uses me like an arrow. That He shoots me into the lives of people He chooses and uses me to be an extension of His love. Titus is all about teaching people who God is and how to live according to His word, and it’s amazing to me to see that lived out on a weekly basis. As a mother, I know my job is to raise my kids up the way they should go, but God didn’t stop there. I was the youngest of 3 kids growing up and I hated it because I felt it took away from my natural leadership abilities. I believe God chose that though, to humble me and teach me to follow the instruction of others and not rely solely on myself and my own knowledge. I love helping people, it’s been my passion for as long as I can remember, though I know it really began shortly after my mom passed away. There’s an unexplainable joy that fills my heart when I can help someone, through my own experience or just being there for someone. Reading through Titus, for me, felt like I was really hearing God’s heart on His specific instruction to me. I cried tears of joy, hanging on every word, like someone hearing the greatest news ever-and to me, this is!

So next time you’re focusing on the big picture, take a step back and remember God is everywhere, especially in the little things. You may be surprised at how He shows up and reveals to you something you would have never noticed if you weren’t paying attention.

I thoroughly enjoy sharing these bits of wisdom I receive, and I hope my experiences can be of use to anyone who struggles with the same things I do. We’re all children of a God who hand-picked us to be in a community of other believers, and sharing my faith lovingly to those who will read this blog and be touched by His love gives me a deep sense of satisfaction & confirmation that He uses everyone if they’re willing. If this post speaks to you, please share a comment with me! It warms my heart that other people even read my writings and I pray about everything I write, that He would speak through me and use it for His glory. But to know that God used a specific post would be the most reassuring thing to me!