My Children

It’s been a strange end of the summer for me. I have been battling with my anxiety again and feeling very weary. That will probably be a post for another day.

Today I am writing my sponsored children through Compassion again. And it fills me with such joy. To think my small words are traveling to other countries and touching the hearts of these two children is pretty wild. To see their little photos, to see their smiles, their little hands, it’s just too cute.

In the wake of any worry, I can look at their little faces, and feel like, you know what? This matters.

It’s like the song “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”.

The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. 

Yes is life hard sometimes. Of course. Yes are my struggles valid, probably. Yes, could my anxiety be reigned in a bit better, I’m sure. But sometimes these small sweet reminders of the good things in life, are enough to reset your perspective.

I Still Love You

Those four words sent to me in a text have been in the back of my mind for the past 3 weeks.

If you know a bit about me through previous posts you’ll know that my greatest love and greatest heartbreak involved the same person I dated for over 5 years. Without going into the same old story, I’ve known this person for 10 years of my life and through a long history of ups and downs, being mad, being happy, feeling angry, feeling joyful, feeling betrayed, and feeling safe, it’s hard to have to look yourself honestly in the heart, and admit that you still love that same person you haven’t dated in years.

In theory this is romantic..but in reality it honestly sucks.

Things are complicated. I don’t live in the same state as this person, this person has not dropped his life to run back to me with an engagement ring, and yet those four words are like….stretching a stiff muscle that you tore and stopped moving.

Even though I dated this person for 60% of the entire time knowing him, we’ve seen each other for some of the rest of the 40%.Sometimes one of us has been in town and decided to go get coffee to just kind of talk through problems we had, or to get closure. To just vent about how we feel, honestly, the same things I’m sure millions of other former couples have done.

And yet. I have to be honest. It’s no easier today than it was the day we broke up.

No amount of prayer, Bible, therapy, or medication has completely removed this pain. Now I fully believe the scripture that says:

Psalm 34:18 (MSG)

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

And I can testify that I’ve met God in a deeper way in my despair. However, there are still days where I feel that heaviness in my heart, or can easily burst into tears.

Those four words can be both joyful and painful. It’s bittersweet.

In a somewhat unexpected twist though, I feel like I understand God’s love a little bit more because of this relationship.

How?

Because sometimes, you can love someone and see value in them even if it’s illogical. There’s been plenty of friends over the past 10 years who have thought I’m just another dumb girlfriend who gets back with a bad boyfriend. Or people who think I am weak. Or people who think one way or the other about choices I’ve made. But at the same time..I know the same can be said for God.

God loves us in an illogical way.

At the end of the day, do I bring actual value to God’s life? God is perfect. God doesn’t actually need me. But he made me and wants me even though I am just a failure and sinner like anyone else. Couldn’t people also have said to God why bother, he/she isn’t worth it? Aren’t you over that person yet?

In Matthew 23 MSG it even compares God to a mother hen:

How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me.

To me that’s also illogical. To me that’s also bittersweet. To love someone, to ache to embrace someone, and to feel the pain of knowing circumstance stands in your way, or that person doesn’t even love you.

I’m still on this journey. And sometimes I wonder why God hasn’t answered my prayers. I’ve prayed two major things over this never-ending relationship:

  • God please help me not to love him. Change my heart.

Sidenote: This has been much of my life and yes, this scene always makes me cry. Don’t judge me: Grace’s Prayer

  • God please give me the endurance to wait while you bring us back together in your perfect timing.

 

If you can relate to this, you’re not alone. Honestly, I can’t wait to be married one day. I really don’t think I’ve ever been good at being single. But until then, I hope to hurt less. To trust God more. To value His love for me, more than anyone else’s—even family.

I listened to the Abide app’s prayer today and it was perfect. I suggest you download it too. Here are the two parts that resonated with me:

Thank you for loving me when I didn’t deserve your love. Thanks for choosing to love me when there were better logical choices. I am worth something because you love me.

Single, Don’t Want to Mingle

I think it’s hard as a single, Christian person sometimes to navigate the dating landscape. Or at least it is for me.

  1. I don’t like dating
  2. Therefore I don’t date a lot
  3. I’m sort of picky in that I’m not usually attracted to a lot of guys
  4. I find the whole thing depressing as of late

Just speaking plainly, I don’t want to date. I want to meet someone of course but I don’t want to invest tons of time getting to know someone and unpacking my life and past to someone who I don’t think will be someone in the future.

Weird I know.

I realize that in some ways that’s a lot of pressure, but I think as a Christian, it’s hard to date. It’s hard to date because there’s not always tons of people who are also Christians, and it’s also hard because you don’t want to be overly tempted to exceed physical boundaries if you are a virgin or return to past mistakes if you have had sex before.

Also I feel like in my experience the dating pool is small in church. Loads of people always seem to be married since their early 20s, and therefore for me, I’m about 5 years past expiration. Because the dating pool is small you have about 10 girls who are all attracted or interested in one guy and vice versa. So it gets real, really quick.

Today I found myself temporarily mourning my spinster-status as a slowly by surely nearing 30 year old lady. It can be super hard to be attracted to guys who aren’t Christians for one. It might make for some fun flirtatious conversion to affirm that you are in fact, still attractive to the opposite sex. But it can also be depressing because playing in the back of your mind ad nauseum is the old phrase “don’t be unequally yoked”. It can also be depressing when the only guys who seem interested in you, or talk to you like a worthwhile lady are not the guys who go to your church.

The struggle, ladies, and gentlemen is real.

One of my biggest “sins” in life so to speak is worrying about my romantic future. Granted I’m young to many. I don’t need to worry about anything. And yet, there’s that human part of every person who wants to be affirmed that they are in fact funny, attractive, smart, etc. I can literally count on one hand the number of people I know for a fact who have been interested in me, and two of them I’ve dated. The rest, meh, were nothing to write home about.

So it’s not like I’m backstroking in waves and waves of eligible Christian men here you know? It can be hard to see things working out for other people, or seeing guys compliment how talented or beautiful the ladies around you are and you’re just like, excuse my while I dissolve into a puddle of sorrow and regret with my cat and a glass of wine.

But in all seriousness. It’s not easy. And honestly, I don’t always believe people when they say that they never think about their single status or the  depressing horizon of no one.

I’m mainly writing this to vent, but I’m also letting you know if you feel like this that you’re most definitely not alone. I often wonder what’s taking so long. I can’t wait to give my future husband a swift punch to the gut when he casually arrives on the scene. I’ve been waiting for you! You know?

But mostly I want to write this so whenever that day comes I can look back at myself and laugh for all the worries because somehow I know God will provide and He always gives me more than I ask or think I deserve.

 

Porte Ouverte

I love all the humanity and bravery that has been happening within Paris in the wake of the tragedy. I prayed a really awesome prayer the other day, that of course had to have been the Holy Spirit, because I can’t remember it.

But I remember praying that while ISIS waits for fame, Jesus will be the one to get all the glory during this time.

When I saw the Buzzfeed article about the hashtag #PorteOuverte it blew me away.

In so many ways an open door is a blessing. An opportunity to advance yourself, a leg up financially, or in this case a free place to crash.

So much of what Jesus promises has to do with safety and rest.

I think we can all understand why tourists, or residents of Paris have needed shelter and a place to feel at home.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to witness the violence first hand, but in my simple way, I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed. Or depressed. Or tired. To need a place to unwind. To need to take a nap. To need to feel safe.

John 10:9 says “I am the door. If anyone enters by me he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

I think what people are doing for each other in Paris is amazing. When so many outsiders would expect them to feel fear and to shut themselves off, they have reached out to strangers to welcome them home.

In the face of tragedy I am glad Paris hasn’t forgotten their humanity.

 

My Child

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Matthew 18 (MSG)

Whoever Becomes Simple Again

18 At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”

2-5 For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.

I love the heart of my “adopted” Compassion child. Her name is Etsegenet and she is 6 years old. I send her one letter every month and I look forward to the letters I get from her.

I saw in my pile of mail yesterday that I had a new letter from her and was so excited to see what new information she had sent.

Let me tell you, man. Reading her letter cracked me up.

Last time she wrote to me she told me how she was praying for me to meet a handsome husband. PREACH child. Preach.

This time she reminded me that her family and her are both praying for my soulmate. Which is totally humbling. She lives in a village in Ethiopia and she is praying for ME. Still wild to think about.

She also surprised me by saying she is praying that one day I will have a beautiful daughter of my own. Wow. For now I am content to have her as my daughter.

She also wanted me to know she’s going to church and studying very hard and that her friends also send me their regards.

At this point I’m like “okay, my heart is full”. This little sweet girl is praying for me, and my future family, and that is more than enough.

BUT the funniest part is still to come.

If you have been following me for a while I’ve mentioned how I still struggle with my appearance. I think that’s partially just being a woman, partially because I struggled for some time with self-esteem after being cheated on, and partially because I’ve felt this way since I was a small girl. The last part is still hard for me to identify. Why have I always disliked my legs or my teeth for example. Why did this start so young? Did someone say something? You know? It’s hard to figure out.

Anyway, I don’t think I even mentioned that to my sponsored child. I’ll have to go through my online letters and see. But I literally laughed out loud, a literal LOL, when I reached the bottom of her letter.

Despite the fact that I don’t enjoy “selfies” or taking photos of myself, I’m trying to get more comfortable. And so, on occasion, I have shared from pictures of me at church with friends in my letters to my child.

Now brace yourself. If you look at the bottom of the picture I posted she said “I’ve not seen a beautiful lady like you on Earth.”

SAY WHAT?

I literally laughed. And as I’m writing this I still laugh. Because this is so funny! On one hand you can struggle with what you wish was more beautiful in yourself or how others see you and yet this cute little girl from halfway around the world is like, “hey lady, you’re the prettiest princess in all of the land.”

Am I right?

I’ve been the babysitter and nanny in my life, and let me tell you, children will tell you if you look like a mess that day. They are brutally honest. And yet this sweet girl is the apple of my eye. And for some odd reason thinks I’m the most beautiful woman in the Earth.

I share this because:

  1. It’s a funny story.
  2. I recommend adopting a child through Compassion.
  3. You can often feel like you don’t believe something about yourself but God has a funny way of using a child in the middle of nowhere around the world to bring you joy and compliments and love.
  4. God sees you and loves you and wants you to be a Matthew 18 child.

I pray that you speak love and words of life to someone in your world this week and if you are in need of that, I hope it comes to you from an unexpected place.

Friday Inspiration 7.10.15

Instapray.com

I might have mentioned it before but one of my biggest struggles in life right now is simply believing in love for myself. That might sound melodramatic but it’s 100% and completely the truth.

If you have been following me for a while you might be familiar with my past and heartbreak and if not, no need to re-hash. You can always go through my archives if you’re nosy! Ha.

Regardless I go through times of feeling really down about it and times where it’s out of sight out of mind. Meaning, if there is no one there beside me it’s not hard to not miss what you don’t have. I enjoy work, shopping, church, Netflix, car trips, all kinds of things can occupy my time. But being a single 27-year year old, I do have times where I’m like, shoot, I don’t know if my heart can hold on hoping.

Anyone?

I trust God and doubt all at the same time when it comes to my future husband. I wonder sometimes if there will ever be one. I find myself sappy and cynical and optimistic and depressed at various times in my life. It’s definitely not something I always know how to deal with, outside of prayer, or a nap or what ever. I think when life burns you, you heal, but there’s still damage. You remember it mentally, your heart pangs sometimes with it, and your brain sends you warnings as a preventative measure.

I think when life burns you, you heal, but there’s still damage. You remember it mentally, your heart pangs sometimes with it, and your brain sends you warnings as a preventative measure.

When it comes to dating, I don’t. I’m pretty novice at the whole opposite sex thing even though, I’m not a virgin, and therefore not totally uncultured in attraction, men, and how some of that love stuff works. It’s more like. I don’t like what’s out there. How horrible to admit!!!– but it’s true. I’m a Christian which is good right? I mean I’ve dabbled in some less-than holy activities, albeit not much. And I’ve dated two non-Christians. Both ended badly. One lesson I must admit that I still haven’t learned, and the other was wayyyy too much deja vu to continue past 2-3 months and I wised up quicker than the previous time. The last, eh, was a Christian but never committed. We went on about a year of dates where he was a perfect gentleman, paid for everything, talked to me for hours about everything under the Sun, but just poof. Never wrote back. Never wanted to hang out. Never actually asked me out officially. Haven’t heard a peep from him in three years. So I guess you could say overall that I haven’t maybe had the best opportunities to not….become bitter. That’s fair.

However, it’s hard at times, to be in church, in more of a youth-centric Church culture and time and still be like, man, I don’t know if I believe in human love for myself anymore. To go to church your whole life and never feel womanly or attractive to any of the guys that attend. To never be asked out on a date or asked out for coffee or just ask to be their friend. NADA! I just don’t know. Like, thank God for Jesus. Thank God that I know and am continuing every day to fully know perfect love. But human love? It still makes me skittish.

I came to this realization when a close friend of mine from church invited me to hang out with her boyfriend and his buddy. Immediately my heart was like, excuse my french, hell no. I’ve only been set up once, as a preteen and let me tell you, it was horrible. That was enough for me. I want to choose, right? I want to have some power over who I date. Or I want some magical unicorn of a Christian man to just gaze across the congregation at a service and ask for my number. Is that wrong? Probably not, but none of this has happened for me.

So it brought me back to all sorts of emotions that I guess I didn’t realize were still there waiting to pop the second I was poked out of my cynical comfort zone.

I’m not going to even sugar coat it, she showed me his picture, and felt nothing. I don’t even believe in “types” but if I did, he wasn’t it. You know what I mean? Like there was nothing there. So instant attraction, not there one bit. Then just knowing that in some weird way I was being scoped for being set up, just soured me. Yes I’m single. Yes there is no man interested in me. But do I want to be even 5% set up in any way? No. So I bailed on plans.

Anyway, the actual point of the matter is. It reminded me of my own broken heart. It’s absolutely revolting sometimes to realize you are still broken hearted. Does anyone feel that way? Like you try and try and try for years to heal and you’re sad. And you finally realize that you can’t fix yourself so you give it to God. And He takes it. And you’re proverbially skipping along and wham you find yourself laying in bed with insomnia one night, thinking about an ex and you cry yourself to sleep. And you try again to heal. Or you try again to give it to God and you realize like I did this week that once again you do not feel at all that your broken heart is healed. Ouch. That can be humbling. That can be disappointing.

For me. My heart still feels like 17.

For me. My heart still feels like 17. I still feel like the girl who loved the boy who loved the girl too. I still feel like the girl who years later got a text which turned into a call which turned into finding out that I wasn’t the only one he was dating. I still feel like the girl who watched on the sidelines as a 6 year relationship went up and down and up and down. I still feel like the girl who falls into the same whirlwind every time he’s back in town. I still feel like the girl who tried to get over the boy with a worse boy. I still feel like the girl who didn’t want to be alive some days. I still feel like the girl who questioned for years after a breakup if her mom, if her friends, even loved her because the relationship ruined her trust in everyone, and everything. I still feel like the girl who waits and watches but as far as she can see love isn’t on the way.

I say that because I can’t be the only one who feels this human way. Saved and loved by God, but not convinced of the human version. We’ve all got issues. And it feels really unfair to be wrestling with the same heartbreak 10 years later. To be wondering why it still hurts, or why you want to forgive that person and try again now that he’s better, or why God hasn’t sent you someone to dwarf what you thought was love. Your questions could be my questions. Or they could be completely different. Heartbreak can come from anyone or anything.

I try my human-best to take comfort in the reminder that Jesus knew the Father’s love. But he still suffered as a human suffers. I’m sure he could have been tempted to be loved by a girl even though he never stumbled. He knows our hearts.

I write this today in the hope that this will be another dead thing that God breathes to life. I’ve always written exactly as I’ve experienced life and over time you slowly start to piece things together and see a change.

I hope above everything you realize today that heartbreak is a real thing. And it takes time. It’s disappointing when you feel like you haven’t gotten as healed as you wanted but God is near to the broken-hearted. He promises good for all of us..even when our hearts have a hard time believing it.

Yes

When I saw this image on Pinterest I was intrigued. Where did it come from? Thanks to the power of Google, I discovered this is from Max Lucado. If you are interested: you can read an excerpt here.

I like this simple but powerful paragraph that answers any of today’s questions. You might be struggling in one way or another. I know I am. But like Max Lucado says, yes, God is with us, our sins are forgiven, our names are written in Heaven.

It helps us breathe.

Image found on: Found on mynamewrittenonhishands.tumblr.com