Looking Back

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Here we are at another November, and for me November often lends itself to a time of looking back.  Soon, the anniversary of the day my whole life changed will be upon me.  Four years ago, on November 26th, my husband walked out the door, leaving my three kids and I in a state of total devastation.  You never think that this kind of thing is going to happen to you until it does.  I remember well those first few weeks and months and the torrent of tears that I cried.  I remember crying out to God with all that I had to fix this.  I remember feeling that I was sitting in the bottom of a deep pit and the light would never shine on me again.

But I also remember God drawing close.  I remember His light shining into that dark pit and realizing that falling in that pit hand land me right where I needed to be, in the arms of Jesus.

A few days ago as I was reading through the book of Isaiah I came across this scripture,

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;  he gently leads those that have young.”  Isaiah 40:11

I immediately remembered how God had led me to that scripture not long after my husband had left.  It was funny, because I had read the book of Isaiah many times, but I never remembered reading this verse.  God always has a way of showing us the scriptures we need when we need them.  I remember reading that verse and feeling a peace come over me, knowing that my kids and I were being carried, close to our shepherd’s heart and that He would gently lead me through the  very dark times ahead.

Now, nearly 4 years later I can look back with a sense of awe and just how well God keeps His promises.  Obviously, it has not been an easy road.  There have been many times where I have felt like I just don’t know how I can keep going.  Being a mom is a tough job, being a single-mom isn’t just tough, it makes you question everything about yourself and often makes you feel like the biggest failure around.  However, each step of the way, my faithful savior has been present, carrying my kids and I through the darkest moments, leading me when I can’t see the path ahead, and letting me know that His love for me is more than enough to make up for anything that I have lost.

 

 

 

 

 

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Heart Drift

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A few years ago, when I was doing a devotion I remember clearly having a picture in my mind of an anchor, a boat, and the rope that attaches the anchor to the boat.  The boat was me, the anchor was Jesus, and the rope was The Holy Spirit.  I saw in my mind that the shorter the rope was, the more I could hear the Holy Spirit and the closer I stayed to Jesus.  I also saw that the longer I let the rope get, the less and less I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit and the further I drifted from Jesus. I went on to envision a stormy sea with a rocky shore.  When the rope was taut, I stayed close to Jesus and although the storm was raging, I was led safely through the water because I was close to my anchor.  I also saw that the longer the rope was, the more the boat was tossed around, smashing into rocks and leaving me in a state of panic.  I thought of what a great illustration that was for people who wandered away from the faith, prodigals, people who chose the temporary fun of sin over the permanent peace found in Christ.

I hadn’t thought much about this illustration until this morning.  I was sitting doing a devotion and it was talking about worshiping well.  I felt really convicted that I had really not taken time to worship much lately. In fact, as I sat and thought about it, I realized I have been allowing a lot of other things in my life to take precedence over time alone with the Lord to worship.  Immediately I thought of that boat illustration and realized that it isnt just running from God and running after sin that makes that rope too loose.  It is the state of our heart.  Lately, my heart has been drifting.  Not drifting in the sense of running from God and longing for sinful things, drifting from the peace found in Jesus.  Drifting from the knowledge of who God is!

I have been overwhelmed lately with fear.  I have allowed it to push me out to sea into the rocks and rough waves, I have allowed it steal my peace.  I have allowed it to set my heart adrift and loosen the rope that holds me close to my anchor.

I know I have mentioned before that after our kids were born, my husband and I made the decision TOGETHER that I would resign my position at my job that I had been at for 15 years and stay home to raise out kids.  Of course when you do this, you are doing it with the knowledge that one day you will return to work, but that you will have the support of your spouse and it won’t all be on your shoulders.  However,for me, that is no longer the case and this is what has been causing me so much fear as of late.

I have been allowing fear of how I am going to support my family once I no longer receive spousal support from my “Ex” husband to take control of my thoughts.  I have projected a future for myself that puts me in the lap of poverty and I see no way out.

Now you might be thinking, well just get a job!  Well, I have a job, a job I love. A job that I know God has placed me in and as I look back I see the hand of God in getting  me to where I am. It allows me the freedom to be here for my kids, who though they are older now, still need their mother, specifically one of my children who deals with anxiety, depression, OCD and some post traumatic stress. But the truth is I don’t make the kind of salary that my “Ex” husband makes by any means and the truth is, I have found myself trusting God less and less and trying to find the solution myself more and more.  I have found myself getting angry and resentful of how things have gone in my life.  Even as I write this, I see how far adrift I have let my heart get!

I have allowed worry to replace worship.  I have allowed fear to replace peace.  I have allowed resentment to replace my security in Christ.  And what has the result been? I have been being tossed around in the rocks and waves rather than feeling the calm that comes when we allow Jesus to lead us through the rough waters.

The truth is while I have to do my part, God already has a plan for me.  He knows every day of my story.  He knows my hopes and dreams.  He knows what I love and what I hate and while that doesn’t mean that I won’t have to do things that I may not want to do, it does mean that He will give me the strength to do them.  I never wanted to be a single-mom, but God has walked me through each step of it so far and why on earth would I ever think that He is going to stop doing that?

So today, I cry out to the Holy Spirit to come near, to shorten that rope, to draw my heart back close to my anchor.  I cry out to Jesus for the peace that only He gives and ask the Father to help me to walk out His plan for my life whatever that may be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Searching For Rest

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Summer has almost come to an end and before you know it, school will be back in full swing and the “leisureliness” of summer will be long gone.

Summer is normally a time of rest and relaxation.  A time to recharge from all the craziness of the school year, with homework, sports, clubs, etc. A time to just relax a bit and enjoy the sun, stay up late watching movies and sleep in when you are tired.

Summer started out that way in my house, but sometime along the way, it all changed.  So many things started happening at once.  Car troubles, stolen credit card #’s, stuff breaking around the house, projects that need to be done before the cold weather arrives, all piling up around me.  Then on top of that, one of my kids is really going through a tough time and it is causing a lot of animosity in the home and specifically with me.

I come from from work and am immediately met with fighting, arguing, and complaining.  No matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to be the right thing and honestly it has taken its toll on me. I have literally spent more time locked in my car this summer than I would ever have imagined.  Those who know me are probably giggling at this right now, because if I call them and say, I am sitting in my car…they know exactly what that means.

One day as I was sitting outside, trying to recoup from another fight, I was talking to my mom and came to the realization that I was being robbed, robbed of rest.

John 10:10 says

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”  NLT

The enemy wants nothing more than to steal from me, to kill and destroy any rest that I can find.  And truth is, He has been succeeding.  Somehow it seems at times, we only remember one half of a bible verse.  All I kept thinking of was that I was being robbed of rest.  That everything inside me was being destroyed by the hurt and pain of everything going on around me.

BUT!  There is a second half of that verse.  The part that tells us that Jesus came that we will have a rich and satisfying life.  In other translations it say “..life to the full” Why is it that in the midst of hurt and pain, we so often forget?

It was then that I realized that if I wanted rest, I need to seek it, I needed to search for it.  Search for it in the only place I can find it.  In the arms of Jesus.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  
Matthew 11:28-30

Now I would like to say that it was just that easy, that I just gave everything over to Jesus and rest came.  The truth is I have had to fight for that rest…I know that sounds crazy, kind of like an oxymoron. But right now, it is how I feel.  I literally have to purposefully seek rest.  I need to fight against the lie in my head that I need to be doing something else.  Need to be cleaning, or getting stuff ready for school, or painting the side of the house, or finishing the painting in my daughters bedroom or cleaning the car or washing clothes or trimming trees.  I need to remind myself that I need rest, and if I don’t fight against the lies in my head that I am not enough, that I am a terrible mother, and I need to work harder, than I am never going to find rest.  I need to remember the truth.  The truth that Jesus came to give us rest. That I am always enough, apart from what I do, because Jesus died for me.  It isn’t ever going to be about anything that I do, it will always be about everything that Jesus already did!

That holds true with the issues going on with my child as well.  Nothing I do is ever going to change this child’s heart…only the work of the Holy Spirit can do that.

So in the midst of chaos, in the midst of hurt, of pain, of lies, I search for rest.  In the midst of literally feeling like I am falling apart, I search for rest, for strength, for peace.  Whether that is sitting outside crying out to God, listening to worship music or pouring over the scriptures to remind myself of truth, whatever allows me to carve out rest, that is what I need to do.

 

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I Would Rather…..

 

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Everyone has probably heard of the game “Would You Rather?” It is a funny game where two choices are given and you choose which you would rather do.  From things like Would you rather have extra long arms or super short legs? or something along those lines.

Today as I was reading my part of devotions in Psalm chapter 84, and I began thinking about this.  In the message  translation vs. 10 says

“I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God
    than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.”

Now I have read that verse many times, but today it really struck me and I just felt that it really had such application in my life.

Many times, as a single-mom, I get angry and frustrated with the struggles I go through while my kids father lives a seeming life of luxury.  I do not like when I look at things this way and I don’t like to get angry about them, but the truth is, at times I do.

As a single-mom, I spend every day doing the work that was meant for 2 people.  Working, taking care of the house, cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, mowing lawn in the warm months, snow-blowing and snow shoveling in the cold months.  Taking care of the kids and dealing with all the drama of a house that has 2 teenagers and a tween.  Paying all the household bills with half the income.  Sometimes it is very overwhelming.

On the other hand I see the life my “ex”-husband lives.  Traveling on vacation across the country, spending money on whatever his heart desires at the time, no real responsibilities besides taking care of himself.  The only thing he seems to worry about is how many concerts he is going to be able to go to or where the next place he can go hiking is.

But as I read Psalm 84 today, as I read vs 10 today it really hit me.  Would I really want the roles reversed?  Would I really want to choose a life of luxury in the “palace of sin” rather than hard work living the life God has for me?  Would I rather be running from the truth and running from God than sitting still in His presence? Of course the answer is NO!

When I sit back and allow the truth of God to seep into my soul, I see that I would rather be where I am now, I would rather “scrub floors” than walk away from God and live life without him.  The beginning of Psalm 84:10 says

“Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;”

That statement is so true! It makes everything I do seem so much more vibrant and alive. We were never promised that our lives would be easy following Christ, in fact we are pretty much guaranteed the opposite, but as we are reminded by the apostle Paul,

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”  2 Corinthians 4:17NLT

While what we go through may not feel small…in comparison with the future that God has prepared for us they are.  Just think of the things Paul went through!

As I finished my reading in Psalm 84*, I felt my perspective change.  I was able to see things differently and feel a joy about the things I have to do rather than  anger.  I was able to see the beauty inmy life and the ugliness of walking away from God.  We are reminded in the end of this Psalm,

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

 Lord Almighty,  blessed is the one who trusts in you.”     Psalm 84:11-12

Lord, I trust you and Lord, I would rather be with you!

*After reading this Psalm it reminded me of the worship song written by Matt Redman “Better is One Day”, My favorite version of that is by the band Kutless. you can listen to it here

 

 

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Where Would I Be…?

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Have you ever thought about where you would be if things were different in your life?  I know that many of us  often go there…thinking about where we would be if this or that was different.  Where would I be if I had more money, where would I be if I had a better job.  As a single-mom I know the thought can often go to where would I be if my husband hadn’t left or if I had a spouse to help with the daily tasks of work, house, and kids.  It is inevitable that we go there from time to time.  But, doing this really isn’t very productive.  It brings feelings of depression, of anger, it can bring feelings of jealousy at what others have.  In reality, it does nothing  more than bring you to the edge of the slippery slope of self-pity and despair.

However, there is another way to ask this question.  One that can bring joy instead of sorrow, gratitude instead of jealousy, life instead of death.

That  is…Where would I be without God?

The other day I was driving in my car just listening to music and running some errands for a busy weekend ahead. I had just finished up a very busy week at work.  Our church had our annual Vacation Bible School last week.  We had a little over 200 kids attend and it was an amazing week.  It was also a very exhausting week!  But as I was driving on Friday after it was all over, I really got to thinking about where I was in my life.  I got to thinking about some of the amazing things that God has done in my life.  I thought about how I couldn’t have gotten through this week without His strength and as I thanked him for that, I really started thinking about where I would be without Him.

This isn’t a question I take lightly.  I know the type of person I am and  I shutter to think of where  I would be without God.  As I look back over my life, and more specifically over the last 4 yrs of my life, I see God’s hand at every turn.  Providing for me and my children, giving me strength when I feel like I can’t possible go on, giving me peace in the midst of trying circumstances, protecting my kids and I  in ways I can’t even imagine.  No, walking this path isn’t easy, but walking it alone, would be unthinkable!

Thinking about all this, lifted me up, brought a joy that I couldn’t explain, and led me to worship God for who He is!

The truth is, the enemy would like nothing more than for you to focus on what you don’t have, for you to focus your thoughts on how great your life would be if only this or if only that.  He loves when we compare, looking at other people’s lives like they are perfect and ours is so awful.  It alienates us from others and leaves feeling alone and unloved.  However, you can be sure he hates it when we focus on all that God has done for us.  When we remember who we are apart from Christ, when we realize that our joy is found in Christ alone. When despite circumstances that you never thought you would have to face, you still have joy and peace because you know Who God is and exactly What He has done for you.

What a difference just changing the way you finish a question can make!

The next time you begin to go down the “where would I be if….path”, change that question around and instead ask yourself where you would be without God.  Cry out to the Holy Spirit for help. Ask him to take control of your thoughts!  Keep in mind what Romans 8:6 tells us….

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

Don’t allow yourself to be brought down by thinking of where your life could be if only you had this…allow yourself to be lifted out of despair by remembering where you would be without God!

 

 

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A Fresh Reminder

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This is not the blog post I planned to write, nor is it one that I wanted to write.  However, sometimes, something happens and although you really don’t want to write about, you know that someone else goes through the same thing and maybe, they just need to be reminded that they aren’t alone.

This past week was a rough one in our household.  Honestly, it caught me off guard.  After nearly 4 years of being a single-mom, 4 years of it being just me and my kids, we have all grown accustom  to this and it really doesn’t bother us much anymore.  Even around holidays.  In the beginning, every holiday was a challenge.  The hurt of no longer feeling complete, the hurt of abandonment was always amplified around the holidays.  A holiday became a stark reminder of what we had lost.

However, as the years went by, we began to make our own memories and God placed other people in our lives that have become like family and holidays began to be happier again.  So I was totally caught off guard earlier this week when each of us seemed to break down.  Everyone was having a bad day, everyone was in tears and everyone was fighting.  It wasn’t until one of my sons lost it and started screaming about not having a dad to teach him things, that it dawned on me….I have seen this before.

For the first couple years, every time a holiday approached we went through this.  Each of us holding our own hurt inside and then taking out our pain on each other.  However, as I said, it has gotten better and we no longer go through this much anymore.  Listening to my son was a fresh reminder of the long-lasting hurt that divorce causes.  I watched a pod cast from John Piper this week on marriage (you can watch it here) and he made a statement about the pain of divorce that was so spot on, it was unreal.  He said

 “Few things are more painful than divorce. It cuts to the depths of personhood unlike any other relational gash. It is emotionally more heart-wrenching than the death of a spouse. Death is usually clean pain. Divorce is usually dirty pain. In other words, the enormous loss of a spouse in death is compounded in divorce by the ugliness of sin and moral outrage at being so wronged.John Piper

It is often said that time heals all wounds.  That so isn’t true.  Only Jesus heals all wounds.  And deep cut wounds take time to heal.  Wounds created by the tearing apart of what was never meant to be torn,  wounds created by the tearing apart of covenant relationship are some of the deepest wounds around.  So when I was doing my bible reading it was no surprise that God had me reading Psalm 77. Just look at vs 2.

“I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
    my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal.” Psalm 77:2 MSG

So what do we do when those cuts that are so thinly healed over are re-opened again?  We do just what the Psalmist said, we go looking for the Lord!  I have spent much time this past week pouring my heart out to God.  Crying out to him for strength, for peace for me and for my children.  For healing for the brokenness in our lives.  And God answered by freshly reminding me of Who He is, of all He has done in my life, of how far He has brought me.

“Once again I’ll go over what God has done,
    lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
    and give a long, loving look at your acts.

 O God! Your way is holy!
    No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen;
    you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
    rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.”  Psalm 77:11-15 MSG

So when you are freshly reminded of the pain you have suffered, allow God to remind you of Who He is!

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Looking At Father’s Day From a New Perspective

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So yesterday I was getting my boys ready to go away for the weekend with their dad.  This is the first Father’s Day that they will actually get to spend with him since he left nearly 4 years ago.  Each year I try to make sure the kids get a little gift and a card and send it to him, but this year I was getting the stuff ready and packing it in my sons bag so that they could give it to their dad on Father’s Day morning when they woke up.  I was getting my daughter to sign the card before I packed it up and then I made a quick note in it just saying “Enjoy your day!”

My daughter turned to me and said “That’s weird. Why would you sign dad’s card?  You aren’t even married anymore”

It took me aback for a moment and then I simple told her that no matter if we were married or not, he was still their father.  If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have them.

The truth is  I may not agree with the things he has done or how he chooses to live his life, but none of that negates the fact that he is the father of my children.  I will always carry love in my heart for him because without him, I wouldn’t have the 3 most amazing kids anyone could ask for.  Our kids are made up of both of us.

So often times as single-moms I think it is easy to take a day like Father’s Day and look at it from the perspective of all that we have lost.  We are angry at our children’s father’s because we see the selfishness in their choices and  that anger spills over into a whole lot of hurt and negative emotions about the day.   Maybe we need to look at things from a different point of view.  Maybe, just maybe, if we looked at Father’s Day as a day to celebrate receiving a great treasure rather than a day of loss, we could approach the day with joy and excitement instead of hurt and dread.

Regardless of what kind of man your children’s father is now, regardless of what he is doing, or how he is living his life, he is still part of the equation to why you get to be the amazing mom you are.  Without him, you wouldn’t have your kids.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to imagine a life without my kids.  I love them and am thankful every day that I get to be their mom.

So tomorrow, whether you are spending it with your kids, or they are spending it with their dad, approach the day as a day of celebration for the amazing gift of your children.  God chose you to be their mother just as he chose their dad to be their father.  God doesn’t make mistakes!  Tomorrow fix your eyes on our true perfect Father in heaven, thank Him for the blessing of your children and celebrate the day!!

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