Thursday, December 31, 2009

"You Were Always on my Mind" (Willie Nelson quote for a title, niiiice!)

I had one of those nights last night!!  You know, the ones where you want to sleep but you mind is racing and you just can't make it stop... Counting sheep, deep breathing, hot bath, nothing works!! 


I was thinking of a friend I had in junior high (or middle school as it's now labeled.)  His name is Jeff.  I had heard he was in the hospital a while back and was going to visit but thought he might think it strange considering we have only seen each other in passing a few times since our junior high days..  And I'm not so sure it was even him every time because he has a twin and I was too embarrassed to ask which one was saying "hi" to me!  ha!  I did ask his brother about him a couple of times and he suggested I e-mail, but how would that seem any less strange to him?


I couldn't blame Jeff if he did think me strange, I'm quite sure he didn't realize I thought of him as one of my best friends back then...  He did hang out with me after school and during summer break quite a bit, we went to all the lunch time "sock hops" at our small school, we talked on the phone some, he always seemed to stick-up for me if I needed it and he did often walk me home (I lived in a rather rough neighborhood) I'm not sure he did it to make me feel safe because he knew I was scared or if I just got lucky there but whatever his reasons it was good enough for me, still, I'm not sure if I ranked as high on his list of friends as he did on mine (I'm quite sure I made the list though haha!)  We had a lot of good laughs and conversations. My mum liked Jeff as well, she used to say he was a "sweet boy" but wished he would stop "getting himself into messes"...  Mum didn't mind us being together and so we were, a lot.


I remember him getting into quite a bit of trouble at school, or at least that was the rumor flying around... I do remember seeing a fight Jeff was involved in just off the school's property; and for me, that was enough proof to believe the trouble I heard he had been in.  I do remember a telephone conversation that made me question how "rough" he really was however; he was baking a cake (or so he told me) and his little brother was acting out, jumping around and made the cake fall in the middle...  He was quite upset and from what I had imagined a "rough and tumble" person to be, they wouldn't be baking a cake or know that it was possible for it to fall in the middle because of a jumping little brother much less be upset about it.  Every time I think of that story it makes me smile.


Some people thought of our friendship as awkward; I was, after all, the "goody too shoes" and he was one of the "bad boys."  There were rumors started about "us" as well (by people who were supposed to be my friends but that's junior high) none were true, I actually had a crush on his brother at the time, we were just friends.  I'm not sure what it was that made us "get" each other but there was definitely some sort of connection that made it so easy to be friends.


I've thought about Jeff so much through the years... It's not the first night I've had trouble sleeping because I was wondering how he is doing and it will not likely be the last.  Every once in a while there will be a picture on facebook or a note about someone seeing him and that tells me he's living but other than that I really have no idea...  And I just keep thinking about how much our friendship means to me and how I feel he made my life (if only for a couple of years) better and how I need to thank him pay him back with in kind but he doesn't even know...  Sad.


I always hear about people having a "burden" for their friends and it usually makes me feel like a horrible person... I pray for a burden, but I don't really have the slightest clue how it comes about or what it feels like.  And somehow if I am the person I should be than I should have a "burden" for people!  I know this seems like it has nothing to do with my sad recount of a lost friend but I had a realization last night as I lay in my sleepless bedroom thinking about someone I haven't talked to in ages...  I care deeply about what happens to him, I want the best for him, I would do anything within my own power to help him out in any way I can and that is a burden.  A burden is caring and wondering enough about a person that it makes you want to do something to reconnect and see if you can make life better for them.  It's being a friend to people and making yourself available to them.  It's doing what you can for someone and when you're not able to do something tangible it's praying for and caring about them... It's waiting to hear a good report, and more than that, it's about helping them obtain a good report.  We don't all have money to give, we don't live close enough to everyone we would like to pour out time and efforts into, we don't always have the words to speak into someone's heart that could turn their situation and life around and sometimes when we try to touch someone's soul they pull away with anger or fear... But we all have a burden we just make the definition more complicated than it really is and don't realize it's there.


So, now that you've read this you're probably thinking about the person or people who keep you awake later than usual with thoughts and wonderings about where they are, how they are, if there is anything you could do for them and time you could spend on them...  I implore you to take a step in their direction because there is a reason they are on your mind...  Sometimes we think we aren't changing any lives or touching situations around us to make life better, but maybe it's because we are not aware of the places and people we are given a burden to touch.  Now you are aware, do something about it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Dreamer!" Insult or Compliment?

When I was about 9 I realized a dream I had might be more than just a dream...


A lot of not so pleasant things happened directly related to the only ways I could possibly see to "administer" those dreams.. I got angry at the people who I thought should have been the ones to "help God out" but were not... I grew discouraged with even believing a dream like that could happen in my life and that lead to disappointment in God... So I decided to just forget about the dream all together; that way I could be a better person, not getting angry with people who didn't seem to be aware of my dream and what they needed to do to help it come to pass for me or be frustrated with God for being such a procrastinator in my eyes...


The problem is, forgetting is never easy, although it seems like a great idea at the time of conception it, in fact, may prove to be impossible. I certainly did let go of the dream and shortly thereafter forgot to believe in it's possibilities. In some ways it was helping, I got to experience God and his work through my life in many other ways, I looked for positive ways I could impact the people around me in place of what I felt I was made to do which opened up a whole new world of ministry to me (that's when I started writing and encouraging others...) The only time I really felt good about my own life was when I was pouring myself and my encouragement into whatever spaces seemed to need filled. Since no one seemed to believe in my dream I made it a personal goal to ensure everyone around me knew I believed in their dreams and supported them whole-heartedly. I didn't have to have sleepless nights, any longer, when things happened that were against how I thought my dream should play out and while not completely forgetting I could, at that point, live numb to the disappointment of my unfulfilled dreams.


Along the way there have been clear reminders, words spoken and signs but I just wouldn't really allow myself to believe they were about my dream. I convinced myself the God was talking to someone else and when it was obvious that wasn't the case I convinced myself he wasn't talking about the dream I had originally thought and I had been wrong about my dreams from the beginning.


Reciently I was praying in church during a song called "Breakthrough" I felt like God was again talking to me, this time I actually seemed to hear him ask me "What about your dream? Have you forgotten it?" It's a hard thing for me to disappoint anyone, but when I think I'm disappointing God I pretty much change my tune ("change my tune" may be a very New Brunswick saying ha!) about any issue. I'm sure God knows that about me (since he created me) and uses it to his advantage when he's dealing with important issues I seem to have made my mind up about, ha! And for the record, I don't mind that he uses my personality against me for that. I didn't really say (or pray) much in response to that question, just something along the lines of "no, you know I haven't forgotten, I just had to put it in the back of my mind to get rid of the pain." Of course he came back with "Will you take it up again? Believe in it?" I didn't respond at all for a while, just cried because, for me, that's a lot to take on again... All I could think of was the scripture with Jesus asking to "take up your cross" and follow him... See, my dream is something I feel is completely beyond anything I can "Make happen" and when I don't see progress but still have to believe it will happen feel stupid for allowing myself to believe in the first place... A few moments passed with me searching for an escape from the conversation but then I felt His disappointment, it seemed as if he turned around and started walking away, not from me in general, just from that part of my life (if that makes sense at all). Although I'm not sure he said anything, it seemed to be implied that it wasn't the dream I wasn't believing in, it was God's ability to make the dream happen. I quickly recanted my prior hesitation and explained "I wasn't saying I wouldn't believe in my dream I was just thinking it through because it was hard for me..." I talked to him about the hurt and complications with taking it back and asked for a bit of time... I went back to my seat as quickly as possible when we were told we could. I was hoping God and I both would forget about that little conversation without any guilt on my part and I could have probably found a way to convince myself, again, that I was wrong about what He was intending to talk to me about.


Then Justin (the Youth Pastor at my church) preached a message about dreams and I knew it was confirmed that God was in fact talking to me about my dream again. Justin's message totally disarmed any defense of "I was wrong about what God was talking about" or "I must have misunderstood God" I could have come up with... There was a point made about loneliness not being an enemy but we are to independent and God uses loneliness and seclusion to make us realize we are not ok to do everything on our own and to make us depend on him which was perfect for me to hear... At any given point during the speaking, it could have been just Justin, God and I sitting in a room talking about my life.


In the alter after the service was over I was feeling guilty for turning my back on something I should have believed. Remembering the pain and discouragement I faced before giving up on my dream and somehow trying to work through it and step back into a litfe with a vision.. I was praying about fear and doubt and the face that I didn't know how God was going to bring my dreams to pass but I didn't want to doubt Him anymore, I didn't want to be afraid of the dream or my abilities not being good enough... Grace (a new personal friend and Justin's wife) Came and prayed with me... Most of it was not in my ear but the part she did whisper loud enough for me to hear was about fear and doubt and once again I knew God was speaking. Grace's words were actually direct opposition to the things I was scared of, and it was cool to have God stand someone beside.


So now I am standing, dream in hand, not knowing or even trying to figure out how it will happen just waiting for it to happen and looking for ways to show faithfulness and trust in the meantime.


That was pretty much a book, thanks for taking the time to read!  You're wonderful and DON'T YOU FORGET IT! It's not a mistake you've read this, maybe you should think about a dream you've let go and considre picking it back up agian!

Monday, December 14, 2009

"The Ugly Truth"

I have had a crazy weekend... It started on Friday at work; there was this file I was supposed to take care of while my boss was out of the office... ALL DAY I received phone call after phone call on that stupid file! One saying something was wrong, the next asking what to do to fix the problem, the next asking if it was going to close!! Ahhh! The office on the other side is one of my favorites, a close friend of mine works there and they have all treated me very well but this time I felt I was being pressured into just going ahead with the file on my own.. The last phone call I received I just said "look Jim, I really don't know what I'm doing so I'm just going to have to call him and get him to deal with it." Him, being my boss, of course. I called my boss, for the 9th time that day, with tears in my eyes and begged him to look after it, which he did. (P.S. I have worked at the same office for 6 years now and have not cried over the job yet!)


Saturday was an exceptionally good day... My mother called me out of bed at about nine in the morning wanting to go to the USA shopping, I rushed to get ready but she still managed to be in the driveway honking the horn for about 10 minutes while I ran up and down my stairs grabbing all the items I forgot the time before... Dog in tow, under my arm, I reached into the closet, grabbed my boots and pulled them on as fast as I could hop and zipping all the while... After an initial cross word about always being late we turned the Christmas music on and were on our way! The shopping was great, although instead of the Christmas shopping I had intended, I bought for myself. Ha! People were so nice to me all day, a lady told me I needed a cart because I had an arm load of sweaters and then brought one to me, I was called in at the boarder to pay duty but the man in the office refused to charge me, people I didn't even know talked to me and were so nice! When we finally came home I rushed in the house with the groceries, changed my skirt, put my boots and coat back on and rushed out to Christmas music practice and a prayer meeting... After about an hour of singing on stage, with an audience of about 100 I looked down to pull up what seemed to be my now slouching boot and realized I had one brown, square toe, 3/4 calf-length boot and one black, pointed toe, 1/2 calf-length boot.. I had been walking around ALL DAY with miss-matched boots!! No wonder people were so kind, they were thinking "poor dear needs help!" Funny, I know, at least until the 25th comment about managing to get matching shoes on I received the next day.


Sunday I was having one of those ever so famous "I hate everything about myself" kind of days... I tried on somewhere around 5 outfits before I finally settled for one, couldn't get my hair to co-operate and was half an hour late for church in the morning... I had a friend over which meant she was also late... We sat near the back of the church since the pastor had already started his message when we graced the doors. After sitting there for about half the preaching I realized I hadn’t pulled my button and tag off my new, sheer sweater I was wearing... The tag was silver and about 2"x2" square and since my hair was up it was clearly visible to everyone sitting behind me. My friend just patted my knee and advised that I may as well just give up on the weekend...


Today I decided to watch... You guessed it, "The Ugly Truth" and it got me thinking... Maybe it's my emotions from the weekend talking but is it true? Is the truth always ugly? Seriously, I don't know how many times I've had someone tell me the truth about any given situation and I hated to hear it! So is it true, is truth always ugly? Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend the movie, I may be inclined to believe a lot of the instruction it gives on relationships to be true... In the end (this will spoil the movie for you so don't finish reading this post if you are not willing to know the end before the... well, end :o)) the instructor, so to speak, fell in love with the woman he was helping with relationships and they ended up together.. It's always nice to see that but sometimes I feel like I have been feeding my mind with all the great love stories in Disney books and movies, romance novels (although I have only read about 2 myself, I am not unaware of the break down of most widely read novels), who can forget "Gone with the Wind" or "Pride and Prejudice"...   Are those kind of stories true or is the truth actually ugly like it was in my parents divorce, ”Becoming Jane" (Jane Austin's actual life story which ended nothing like her hopelessly perfect literary endings), "Romeo and Juliet" or "Wuthering Heights"? Even the crucifixion is an ugly truth of the savior I happen to serve unapologetically dying in agony and shame... And if truth is ugly then what is there to hold onto?


Hereafter I state my case: True stories like one I heard on Oprah years ago... A German man and woman who fell in love just before the Nazi's invaded their little town... They would ride their bicycles together, or go for long walks talking about their future; never anything extravagant but apparently filled with love. While under Nazi control they, of course, were separated and sent to different concentration camps.  When the invasion came to an end they franticly searched for each other but to no avail... Eventually they each accepted the death of the other, both married and moved on, had families and lived their separate lives holding only the memory in their heart. Somehow, years later, they found out each other were still living. Their respective spouses had passed away and they decided to meet, got married shortly after and lived the rest of their days making up for time lost. Stories of people like Jack and Kathy (the Assistant Pastors at my church), when they met Kathy was uninterested to say the least but now, after years of falling in love daily, are so in love you can actually see it in their eyes every time the other enters a room. Lastly, the "ugly" crucifixion is where the beauty of salvation, miracles and true love really comes from.


So maybe the truth is always ugly, at least in the beginning... Maybe we need the ugly moments to be able to recognize beauty at all... If everything was always great wouldn't it all just become average and dull? So... My weekend was pretty much one embarrassment or sadness after another and today was not a day I will remember, but when I went out for a walk with my pup tonight I looked up at the stars so many people rarely take the time to notice and they were beautiful and soothing to me... Maybe I have been emotional and not feeling as positive as I would like about life in general but maybe that's exactly what I needed; life has been coasting right along for me lately and it started feeling average when I really should be feeling blessed for everything that has happened in my life this year. Maybe I'm not always confident with regards to my single status (or even talking about the lack of confidence in that status in this blog); there are days when I don't even feel pretty let alone beautiful... But maybe that's all so I will appreciate my future spouse enough to support him, work on our marriage with him and make sure he knows he is respected and loved always in our household... Maybe it's just an answer to prayer that I will be able to recognize true love when it comes my way...


"It's always darkest just before the dawn", there is nothing quite like the beauty of a new day and maybe that's because we compare it to the emptiness of the dark. So... I'm excited, even though it sometimes seems ugly; the truth is exactly what I want... True love, true relationship with God, true joy and true appreciation for all the wonderful things in life... The ugly truth is, some days are hard, a lot of relationships do not work out, and yes Jesus was crucified but that all means I'll know when I have a great day, one relationship just around the corner will work out (and that will be the only one I need to work out) and every one of my sins (and your's) can be forgiven, we are healed because Jesus was crucified and rose again!

Friday, November 20, 2009

For the Boys

I've been a little disturbed by a strange trend I've been noticing lately... Other than the ear plug things that stretch the holes in your lobes out to the size of a bracelet (and apparently they smell... Eew!). I have received a few calls and notes from some of my male friends regarding this and they has made me decide to Blog about it!
Edward Cullen, Gilbert Blyth, Bingley, Jack Dawson, Johnny Castle, Noah Calhoun and Derrick Sheppard... To name a few of the men that women seem to swoon over. (Guys, if you don't know who they are you should google them to figure it out, that might give you something to learn from)... But why is it women love these men? It's not because they are all rich, extraordinary or even handsome.. I know the guys, if they know about the men above, are thinking something along the lines of "yeh, that's a dream, I'm a real man. Try finding that in the real world, I can't measure up to those expectations." But I think you can and I'm going to explain how ANY GUY can be even better than the names above (ya'll grab a note book and pencil, you're about to get some schooling!)
HAVE SOME CONFIDENCE! There is nothing more hot (in my opinion) then when a man knows he's a good person and believes that enough to just walk up and say "hi" talk a bit and ask for your number. No cheesy pick-up lines required, just confidence.. You can fake it by the way, and don't just be confident with us, practice on other people... Seriously, sounds silly but it will work start with making eye contact (not for too long or you'll get creepy ha!) with a stranger or smiling at people when you walk by them, even a hello... Then practice saying something to someone around you that you haven't met, if you're in line somewhere figure out something to say maybe about the staff there or even ask for the time if there's not a huge watch on your wrist... Eventually you will get more comfortable and comfort is confidence.. So learn to be comfortable with who you are and believe you have something to offer people, that you're a good person (and a good catch) and know that people in general will appreciate a kind word and want to know someone like you, then open the door for that to happen. WARNING: Don't get confused, confidence is not a synonym for cocky!! It's cute when a guy is cocky before a football game; not so much when that bleeds into every aspect of his conversations... And we can quickly tell the difference.
Reminder: If you are interested in getting to know a girl more than you do at this moment, that's enough to ask her to meet you somewhere for coffee or to help you pick out a gift for a party to get time to talk to her.. There are a lot of things you could come up with that wouldn't necessarily be considered as a date... Then after one meet if you still think you want to know more figure out something else to do, eventually you will know if you want to date her and it's not a marriage proposal so it's OK to ask her to hang out before you know you're in love!
PERSONAL HYGIENE... I know there are probably a couple of chuckles going on right now, but really, we all know this is an important subject. Wash an comb your hair, make sure your face has been washed before you leave your house, teeth brushed and no clues of last-nights supper remaining... You don't have to be super GQ and have an amazing knowledge of style, just clean. If you're looking for a tip on style, look at Clinton from "what not to wear" he is dressed well enough for a date anywhere but don't be too concerned, most girls don't mind a ripped pair of jeans and hoodie... In fact, some of us kind of like it from time to time. For a date, a colored shirt (the untucked, casual kind) and crisp pair of jeans with shoes not sneakers would do smashingly!
HAVE A JOB!! This one is pretty self explanatory but a good woman doesn't want to support her man.. If I am going to work every day you better be, and if you're not, you're not ready for a good woman anyway... Laziness has never been on the list of things any of my friends looks for in a guy.
MIND YOUR MANNERS! This doesn't mean you have to know which of the 3 forks you're given at a fancy restaurant to use for your salad... It means, don't belch or expel any other bodily gas in my presence for at least the first couple of months ha. Hold the mall door for the person behind you even if it is a guy your age... Maybe even open the door for me, I know, that's old school and we are equal now blah, blah, blah, but if a woman is confident about she probably won't slap you ha! Having manners is really just being courteous to others, you know, please and thank yous along with the other lessons your parents taught you before grade one.
RESPECT OTHERS! OK, there's a lot to be said for a guy who is genuinely nice! It's not a weakness to be cool with walking away from some crazy who is being ignorant to you rather than yelling in their face for an hour wasting time we could be spending getting to know each other. I know you're supposed to be strong and manly, but have you ever heard of the strong, silent type? It's OK to just ignore idiots and not let them get to you so much that they ruin any part of an evening. Remember something for me: Girls know all couples argue treat others is how we think we will be treated, only probably a little worse. If you are respectful of other people (and don't forget about respecting yourself) we will trust you to be respectful of us... The more you respect a woman the more she will open up to you. The old adage about watching how a man treats his mom is true, and we all do watch that so work on your relationship with your mum too!
BE A MAN! No that doesn't mean lumberjack but I don't want to have to hold your hand because you're scared of the boogie man in the movie... I don't want you to know more about the perfume I am wearing and who made it than I do, just that it smells great! You can compliment me on my outfit (better yet and not as expected, my shoes) just don't know (or at least don't let me know you know) whether or not they are Prada or Gucci ha! I fish and used to sit in the garage for hours with my dad and grampy working on cars, I don't like it when I break a nail but I'm not oblivious either, I do want you to know at least more than I do about something considered to be "typical man knowledge".
BE FUN!! When you finally do get the confidence to ask a girl to go do something with you some night, make sure you don't complain the whole time... We don't mind encouraging you on a bad day or letting you vent about stupid people every once in a while but we don't want to feel like we are your therapist either... We should be coming home and finding it hard to sleep because we are still excited about the great time we had with you and be trying to slow the thoughts about how funny and nice you are not passing out half way through our favorite TV show because you've worn our brain out trying to talk you through every one of your life issues. We do care about and want you to share the things that bother you but probably not until we actually have a relationship built and even then not every day... It gets too negative and eventually that negativity is linked with a relationship with you in our brain... I don't really think there is any coming back out of that once you're in that black hole.
BE COMMITTED!! No, no... I'm not talking about to us at this point... But to something, if we see that you are committed to your friendships or some sort of sport, your family, something, it just makes you look better in our eyes when you can be serious enough about something to be there... Whether it's for people you care about or making it to all your games (even better a game you promised your little cousin, niece or nephew you would make it to), we want to see that you can make it happen if you really want to. That will most likely buy you some brownie points and time when it comes to not being so sure about the relationship with the girl... We understand things take time and we probably aren't sure about you yet either, so relax.
COMMUNICATE!! One thing girls are pretty good at is communicating, usually it's with words... We will probably never understand why you don't communicate... We know you like to hold it all in and hope the problems or concerns you have with us go away on their own, but that rarely happens... I know I just told you I don't want to be your therapist and that's true but if you really want to show a woman you care talk to her about any issues you have with regards to her and your potential relationship, if you're not being a jerk about it, we will most likely want to work on it and try to make it better for both of us. We know you don't like to talk for hours and that's OK, just talk to us about something important to you, that will make us feel important to you as well. It's uncomfortable to talk to anyone about something you're not satisfied with when it is regarding that person but if you actually look at the relationships in your life that are successful (even the ones with your buddies) it's because somehow you do let them know when something is up and it gets fixed.
THE ROMANCE... This is the scary part for the male readers, but it shouldn't be... I'm about to tell you how to make it easy! Most every lady I know likes the romance from the movies but we aren't necessarily expecting it.. We know you don't have millions of dollars to lavish us with expensive jewelry, trips or extravagant date nights.. We understand that not all of you can write a song to serenade us with, a poem for every day of the week to confess your undying devotion or act a fool in front of the whole City at the next concert jumping onto the stage to scream a proposal... I would even venture to say that sort of thing may embarrass most of us.. So what can you do without losing your wallet or manly edge? Just show us you're thinking about us through a text or note left on our door.. Take us to your place for a home cooked meal (spaghetti is pretty cheap you know) and movie night for a date.. Make a card and a mixed CD of songs you know we like for our birthday... I once heard a Doctor say "study each other" when he was telling a couple how to improve every aspect of their relationship and it got me thinking; how true is it that if a guy would just care enough to learn (and continue learning about you) and pay attention to the things you like you would just love him! Seriously, buy a girl a pack of the brand of gum she chews next time you bought some for yourself, it's little and stupid but we realize the little things mean you're paying attention and we like that, those little things will create a huge payoff for you... Just because you're already dating or married doesn't mean you have learned everything there is to know about someone or you have a free pass to stop paying attention.
So take this into consideration and let me know what happens, eh!? (I meant to be really Canadian sounding there)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kindred Spirits

I've always heard stories about people meeting and talking on planes... My pastor could pretty much be famous for opening up communication with people for an entire flight. I, on the other hand, have never really spoken to someone for more than five minutes let alone an entire flight, never made a friend on a flight that I would keep in touch with (or even make the offer) to build some sort of kinship through writing or telephone conversations.

Today on board a Delta Airlines flight from Nashville, TN to Atlanta, GA I met a woman names Linda... She only sat beside me because the lady who actually was supposed to sit there requested to switch seats so she could be by her husband. The move created small talk when I offered to move to the middle seat to allow Linda to remain in the "roomier" isle seat she would have if she had not moved. Linda told me she was travelling to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; in fact, she would be travelling through the city I live in and meeting a friend she has known for years. Strangely enough when she said I may know her I actually did (as opposed to every other time I have been asked if I know so and so from British Columbia which is about a six or seven day drive from my province ha!)...

After a few minutes of talking I was quite amazed at all the commonalities that ran through our lives. We spoke about everything from the Faith we share, prayer partnership, family history, our puppies, weather, her beautiful love story of her relationship with her husband, Michael, and my lack of a love story. She told me she used to help lead the singles ministry in her church (which happens to be a position my mother holds in my church) and how she is great with praying for relationships and she will be keeping me in mind until she hears from me telling her I've found Mr. Right. It was very much a funny, sweet, southern offer and it means a great deal to a girl who does not believe admitting to a desire for a soul-mate to share her live with makes her weak, incompetent or without goals and aspirations.

As an aside, where did we go wrong with regards to what makes us weak as opposed to vulnerable? Doesn't being vulnerable enough to be honest about the fact we would like someone to hold our hand and smile when we are afraid actually show a form of courage and strength sorely missing these days? And isn't honesty in general lacking from our society lately? If so, isn't it most likely because people don't feel safe enough among friends to be honest about their needs, dreams, faults, requests and even successes? Rhetorical questions, but if you are left contemplating, the correct answers are yes, yes, yes and YES!

Linda is a sweet, beautiful, Godly woman who warmed my heart with a friendly smile and encouraging word. (Encouragement, by the way, is a gift we have, for the most part, forgotten how to give and lost sight of its importance. Sometimes we don't realize that believing in others and letting them know we do could change their world around.) She gave me her address and phone number in exchange for mine in hopes of continuing to for a friendship and says she expects to hear from me and eventually receive a wedding invitation; I hope to hear from her and I absolutely will send her that wedding invitation, hopefully in the not so distant future (I would like to be able to make it up the isle without a walker and oxygen tank! ha! It's really not quite that scary yet but for dramatics sake!)

The flight seating arrangements being changed by request was definitely a God thing (or fate or destiny, whatever you want to insert there) Linda and I both felt that way. I spent an entire weekend with good friends, having great times and attending awesome church services at Youth Congress 2009, but thought I was missing out on the "God Moment" I always look for...Apparently he saved the best for last, I was encouraged, my direction was confirmed, someone lifted me up and believed in me and I was assured God has me in mind... It didn't take a preacher, a good song, church sanctuary or service it was just a new face happy to share herself and life experiences with a kid like me.

So ladies, ("all my single ladies... put your hands up... lalalalala... Yes I am plane dancing, thank you Beyonce ha!) be encouraged with me, God knows what you desire, and if one of those things happens to be a good husband, it's OK, don't let anyone make you feel weak for that desire. Remember "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you", "delight thyself in the Lord always, and he shall direct thy paths", "and he shall give you the desires of thine heart" (which doesn't mean he will give you what you want, but it does mean he will help you want the right things for you), "The Lord saw that it was not good for man to be alone" (another aside: Adam was nowhere near being alone when the bible records this, he had all the animals to name and God himself to walk with in the cool of the day... But God still saw that Adam felt alone without human relationship... And he didn't make him just a friend he made him a woman.. Niiice :oP) And "I desire that you should have life and that more abundantly" if you're not feeling very abundant at the moment (we all have those days... weeks, months or years haha) remember there is still more pages to your story and it's coming. "For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you." I can keep going with these scriptures or even direct biblical stories (Example: Rebecka in the right place at the right time , out of her ordinary routine.. With a bucket of water on her head... That's attractive.. But it's where she needed to be even down to the detail to meet her husband.) but I think your heart strings have already been tugged and maybe after this little note you can smile and look forward to your own love story.


I'm not entirely sure Linda will ever get to read this, but just in case, I want her to know "you have touched the heart of a little blond girl from New Brunswick. You have been an encouragement when she needed it and a God sent reminder of Love. You have a beautiful spirit and I look forward to all the reports of the good things in both of our lives! Thank you for recognizing our "God moment" and letting me in your life as a friend! Something I never told you on the plane is from the time I read and watched "Anne of Green Gables (which if the book Linda was carrying with her) I have been looking for someone with a 'Kindred Spirit' who just seems to know the true me and I believe I have found that in you! I love you already!"

Suzie

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I miss you!

I heard something that surprised me the other day... I was at my church kneeling in a seat talking to God... Not saying anything spectacular, just asking to be with Him and sit just for a while... I didn't really have anything to say to Him, no petition to bring for His approval, no great requests for Him to fulfil. Tears were streaming down my face and there was a sense of urgency in that moment, what could almost be described as desperation gripped me as I poured out my love for Him. I kept thinking "all I have to pour out to you is love; you poured out your own blood for me!" Earlier in the week I was listening to a radio show and it was explained that prayer is when we talk to God; whereas, meditation is when we listen for God to talk to us. I made it known I was listening for his words although he need not speak but just allow me to feel he was with me in the same way you can be in a room with a true friend and say nothing but just feel good because they are there. Then the surprise came... He spoke... "I miss you." My response followed something like "OK, Hold on a minute... WHAT!!?? You miss me? Have You forgotten who You are? Lord of all creation, Holy, Strong, All Mighty, First and Last, Never failing, Never changing God... And You expect me to believe that You miss me? Plus, we have spoken in passing lately, any spare moment I am aware of I take to whisper a couple of words your way... How can you miss someone you are already in contact with? How can You miss me? I've missed Your presence, Your touch, Your closeness; but You have everything, what could you feel you're missing?" Then, I just pressed my face into the floor and cried for a while until I think I figured it out (at least a bit). I was in contact with Him, I did speak to Him quickly before sleep found me at night but like it would be in any relationship, that is not quite enough to sustain and surely not to nurture anything. He wants and deserves at least as much from me I would give to any other kind of relationship. I wouldn't live in a house with someone and only speak to them in passing, forget they are sitting next to me and completely ignore them most of the time... So how can I say I love God and treat Him like He's not worth the time it takes to build any relationship? Though I desire to take my hair down and wash his feet like the woman in the Bible (John 11:2 & Luke 7:38), it's not really a physical option. I do desire to have been the last person at the cross and the first to the empty grave on Resurrection day but I can't go back in time. I dream of pressing my face to His chest and while hearing the heartbeat of God say "I love you" like John did (John 13:23) but, again, cannot. "So how do I build a relationship with someone who in many ways is not tangible, who I cannot touch, physically hear or see? ? What is it God would desire from me? What can I give to God? " Then, the obvious answer: I am made in His image (Genesis 6:9), because I take my joy from knowing Him, He has given me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4)... Taking from that, when I need to feel His arms of comfort and safety maybe He needs to feel my hand of trust; when I long to see His miracles on display perhaps He desires to see my commitment to our relationship through worship and lifestyle; when I desire to be close enough to hear His heartbeat maybe He is waiting for me to get close enough to someone who doesn't know Him or someone who needs help so I can share the what the heartbeat I hear... My way of touching Him in the quiet moments begins first with touching the hearts of people all around me whether by words, a helping hand, a friendship or a coffee on a cold day (if you've seen "Pay it Forward" apply the principles in that movie here.) He does miss me, not because He needs relationship with me but because he desires it. Not to prove His love, I think the cross was enough for that. Not because I don't speak to Him on a daily basis (I do). Through my lack luster attempts to touch the heart of my neighbors, co-workers, school friends and family members who all need love ("what the world needs now is love, sweet love, it's the only thing that there's just too little of") I haven't really been showing him much of my commitment to them and that's how I show my commitment to Him. If I really want to spend time with Him in private I need to spend time with Him in reaching out to people... Sort of like you know a relationship isn't true when the guy (or girl) only treats you well in private and pretty much ignores you in public. If I do show Him my desire for His closeness through my touch of compassion on the people around me, when I wash their feet, be last to leave them in their time of need, loneliness, seeming defeat and fear, and first to congratulate their successes (even when I'm not seeing my own success and I'm a little jealous), when I care enough to listen to their heartbeat I am really doing those things for Him and He is, only then, free to expose His true self to and through me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Remind me again of how beautiful I am...

This one was written this summer (August 4, 2009) on vacation. As I sit on board flight # 3345, traveling from Portland, ME to Washington, DC, I am mesmerized. Looking out my window I see the ocean; coastline with boats floating; beautiful, golden, sandy shores; rivers streaming through towns and cities taking the path I suppose a lightning bolt would travel and the popcorn clouds suspended in the atmosphere... It's a relaxing and fearful feeling at the same time. Every thought from amazement to at the suspension of the aircraft to "can you imagine people actually jump out of these things FOR FUN!!??" pass through my mind. But the thought I cannot escape is "God is beautiful, everything he touches ends up magnificent!" You may not see it from where you stand, but truly, when you look from eyes above no one could dare say it's not absolutely breathtaking! My thoughts wonder to the things, people and surroundings of my life I so often take for granted... Forgetting to see the beauty all around me... Forgetting to see the beauty in humanity... Forgetting to see the beauty even in myself. Remembering, now, in this moment (and committing not to forget in the future) all these sights are extensions of His beauty. Take the time to realize this beauty expressed Him, my father, my friend, everlasting comfort, all surpassing priority, the worlds one and only Alpha and Omega, Jesus of Nazareth. The flower in bloom changes daily, hourly, even momentarily... He has not yet unfolded every petal of understanding to me or every petal of my life's dreams and ambitions but, it's a process and I am just happy to be a part of it. Some days I may not feel like I've been fed enough, or I didn't get enough fresh water to drink, or possibly he needs to be reminded to let the "sun shine in to dry up all the rain" however I am reminded a stroke of his finger hollowed out the riverbeds I am looking at right now, he knows how many grains of sand it takes to make the beaches below, he takes care of the creatures in that ocean, lets the lightning bolts out to fly and unfolds the wild flowers in perfect timing; so how much more must he care for a little flower in his garden of humanity? Now that I have come to this final conclusion: everything he touches is made beautiful... He is so great that he can't help but change anything that gets a moment in his presence. I must remember his touch in my own like (and you would do well to remember the same right now). I may not have reached all (or any) of my own personal goals, ambitions or perfection, but alone, the fact I have been touched by him and have spent countless, let alone one, moments in his presence makes me beautiful. Some may not see it from where they stand, and surely not all will, but looking through eyes above it's undeniable! There have been a lot of crushed hopes, stolen dreams and misplaced visions along the path of my life. Hurts I could never have imagined would happen to me. Misuse of the heart of an innocent child. Hard realities of adult obligations. But one thing remains true, loving, unhindered, strong, trust-worthy, and faithful (even though unappreciated a lot of the time) is the one who waters, sings to and weeds out this little flower, God! He gave me "Beauty for ashes" (Isiah 61:3) and "all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17) so "I will declare the beauty of the Lord, nothing compares to the Beauty of the Lord."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Have To's

What do you want out of life? Do you have a plan? Do you keep the final goal in mind with every decision you make? I do, I have a plan, a vision, promises of where my life is going. I haven't necessarily written everything down on paper (although some things have been written down for me) but it is written on the pages of my heart and in the forefront of my mind with every decision I make. I do, however, find myself wondering if anyone else understands the dilemma involved in having a bright future planned out... It is wonderful, knowing what to do with your life, but knowing alone doesn't necessarily make the process easy nor help you with which decisions will help or hinder the result. There are some (if not all) decisions that "have to" be made with the end result in mind... Sometimes I don't think it's fair that I have to always be thinking about my future and what one bad decision would cost me... Sometimes I don't get what I think I want because I know it's not what is best... Sometimes I make decisions that effect other people in my life and they rarely understand me. Most times I don't allow my heart to lead and in a world that is all about "follow your heart" who could understand that? Making the hard decisions to get me to my goals has caused me pain, frustration, loss of friendship and countless sleepless nights but how can I turn my back on my destiny; and if I could, where would I go from there? So far, after all the dust is settled and my life seems to be clear of all the distractions around, I have no regrets. There are things I have given up because I knew they weren't "right" for me. Things that appeared to be "right" from all vantage points I have thrown away because I couldn't make myself feel peace with allowing them into my life. Relationships with people have been ended because eventually if your paths are going in opposite directions it's hard to understand what the other person is saying or whether they are standing beside you, supporting you. There are some parts of me wishing I could let go of my future for some people or opportunities in my present... If I could have my cake and eat it too I totally would and so would you so don't furrow your brow in disapproval :o). There are some people, and relationships with those people, I will always think about and miss, even try to hold on to pieces of what once was or might have been. I cry for the ones I have hurt, who don't and are not expected to understand why I say "no" to an authentic, heart-felt offer when I so obviously desire to just go with the flow and wish I didn't "have to" (and if you're reading this and I've hurt you, I'm sorry and I haven't forgotten the gift of friendship you gave me, nor have I thrown it away). But maybe that's the confusing part, the "have to." After all, how can it be a "have to" decision when the offer is right in front of you and all that's really required to possess it is that you accept? There is no "have to" when it comes to turning away a gift, is there? In my world, no matter what internal conflict I may be facing, there is definitely a "have to" decision to be made at any moment... Because I "have to" go where God has promised I could... I have to because my greatest desire is to go wherever he wants me to be.. I know he has "good plans for me, to prosper and not to harm me" and I want those plans to be fulfilled in my life... It's not that I don't desire other things as well, it's that if there is a conflict between the two desires, the greater (God's plan) must always win out, and if there is a question of something getting in the way of those plans I would rather play it safe until I have a definitive answer. I realize that everyone reading this will either be in the "have to" category or be effected by someone who is. (Interjection: We are all "have to's", if you don't think you are just think about where your life is an how it got there... Either you're in a good place and on track to your goals or you're off track because you have somewhere along the way refused to make the hard decisions to get you there... Good news, if you are of the second category, it's never too late to make the right decisions and I'm sure you already know a couple that could help if you weren't procrastinating... Often we know how to get ourselves out of a mess but we choose not to because it's an uncomfortable process. Wow, I sound like a therapist sometimes, ew!) I know that when you are on the receiving end of a "have to" decision (which we all, including myself, have been) it's never easy to understand the reasoning but I hope some of the words in this blog make enough sense to help you at least to understand that sometimes it's really not as much about you as it is the other person's life direction ("It's not you, it's me" actually does apply in some cases ha!). No matter how we try to convince ourselves "the little decisions don't matter, they can't possibly change that much", "what's a little break from reality?", "do what you want right now and worry about the consequences later" and "whatever will be, will be... If it's meant to be, it will happen" we can't forget our future and we have to make even the awkward, hard and sometimes contrary decisions to get us there. For the "Have to's" reading this, please find encouragement that although for some reason it seems we are alone in the rough decisions to our long term goals, we are not. I get it, I despise the process with the best of them at times, but I can honestly say that with every step (even the backward ones) I'm closer to my goal now than when I first decided to do whatever it took to get there and that somehow makes all the junk we have to wade through worth every single moment!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank you for bein' a friend! (yes that is a Golden Girls song quote! ha!)

"A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow" - William Shakespeare
"Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies." - Aristotle
"A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature. " - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed ~ That can make life a garden." - Goethe
"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." - Unknown
What is it that creates an immediate "connection"? How can you explain how you feel as if you have known someone your whole life when in reality you've only just met? If it's not your life stories aligning, how is it that you just "get" one another, hoe the other feels in any given situation, understanding the predicament someone is in without having an verbal run down on the background and surrounding circumstance? How is it you can say anything and it's taken in the right way (unless they want to string you along for a bit about it being taken the wrong way before breaking out into laughter in a "gotcha" sort of way)? How, even when you, like me, are a person who never trusts without much thought, testing and proving of the other person's loyalty, time as well as effort so you almost immediately have a bond of trust with this person who, for all intensive purposes you barely know? How do you let go of all the apprehension and break through all your protective walls and be vulnerable enough to speak honestly about your own being and uncover your heart, thoughts and wounds for them to see based on a feeling of "connection"!!?? And how does this "connection" make it past all the junk in our minds and hearts to create a seemingly instant friendship?
We always hear about "love at first sight" and "soul mates"... Being a sappy romantic I lap all of these ideals up like a dehydrated kitten. I have yet to experience someone falling in love with me at first sight... Any claim to fame on that point has long ago been disproved (funny and sad at the same time ha). No "soul mate" that I can see to speak of on the horizon at this point.. Sometimes I'm lonely (and writing this paragraph I am almost there lol), I wonder if I'm ever going to find my prince charming or if I have already passed him by and been too stubborn to take notice (great I sound like a Disney Princess in the beginning of her movie ha!).. At times I think no one can possibly care enough about me to take the time to understand my situation or give me a shoulder, hand or listening ear when I hurt.. Most times I'm not so sure I would trust enough to spill anyway. But, all of a sudden I think I've been missing it... I have experienced the "soul mate" it just didn't come in the packaging I thought I had ordered.
I met a "new friend" this year, have known the person for years through other people and in group settings but somehow had never actually had even one conversation... Immediately after our first conversation this year however, I realized there was this strange feeling we were just picking up where we left of, as if we had been conversing all of our lives. I can say anything and be myself in ways I forgot I could, or just be quiet and comfortable in silence. I already feel the need to fix anything I perceive as being bothersome to my friend, I feel pain when it reflects in their eyes either by word or by memory, I want to "take care of it" when the, what I call, stupid people in the world don't know enough to hush and spare someone else's feelings (although I usually take care of my friend instead of wasting my breath trying to make the other person see their own... we'll leave that one there ha!)... Already, they've somehow crossed all the fences and been exempt from the testing and got the certificate for entrance into my heart.
While preparing to write this I found a quote that read something like 'friendship happens when one soul dwells in two bodies' although I'm not sure of the measure of truth in the statement I do agree with it's sentiment... It seems to explain the instant connection you can have with someone when least expected.
They say (whoever they are) people come into your life for a season to help you, grow you, polish you, teach you etc... Maybe that's why we have the immediate connections, whatever it is, I love it! When that feeling comes along whether it's me being the helper or you it makes my life a little brighter.. So to those of you I have the "connection" with, I thank you! Thank you for making me realize that I do have a reason to smile instead of cry, for making me know I am not alone even when I feel lonely and even though my "love boat" seems to be fetched-up on a sandbar somewhere in the middle of the ocean I have met a soul mate already. Love you much and when you're having a "tears on the pillow at night moment" think of me and know I BELIEVE IN YOU and our connection is never faded in my eyes.
Love, Suzie
PS, you could insert yourself in this picture with me :o)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going Through The Change!!!

"It's my life!!!" -Bon Jovi. "Have it your way!" - Burger King. "I did it my way" - Frank Sinatra. "Baby you could have whatever you like, I said, you could have whatever you like" - TI. "I am beautiful, in every single way and words won't bring me down" Christina Agulira. So while every message is "if you're not hurting anyone go for it, it's your life, you don't have to please anyone else" is change still necessary? Can we really just do whatever we like, say every word that crosses our mind and follow what seems good to us? Are there guidelines for what is acceptable or is it just whatever you think is cool? Obviously, there are guidelines and change is necessary. For an example: when a child bites his or her friend because they want to play with a toy the other child is holding; the parents explain it's not acceptable behavior and correct the childs path.. So then what age do we stop being willing to change? I have heard a lot of people, myself included, say "I want to be better but I don't know how to change" or "well, I'm not changing if he/she doesn't change!!".. As I get older I actually take pride in changing myself (somehow I feel it makes me, in some ways at least, better than the other person I think needs to change as well but is unwilling). There comes a curious satisfaction from realizing that even when you aren't who you want to be quite yet, you are in the process. I've also had to be honest with myself and admit it's not that I don't know how to change, it's that I don't want to deal with the process of change.. Partially because we are taught to be confident and somehow admitting we aren't perfect and we need to change has become weak in most eyes. We need to realize that, in truth, seeing your own flaws and working on them actually proves courage and confidence. Confidence is not putting on a mask of perfection, it's being authentic and real or true to who you are and who you are not. Sometimes the things I know how to change seem too large to tackle so I push the thought away and procrastinate myself away from turning into the woman I should be. But that's just being lazy and complacent. I may have stated this before; one piece of advice I hated to hear throught life but has been proved most true is "If you want to, just make up your mind and do it." That saying has applied to so much of my life and it applies in the changing process. Just make up your mind and do it, change what you see in yourself that if you were looking at another you would not like to see. Another thought that stops or slows changing is when the issue seems insignificant. "Does that really matter?" "If I don't change this one thing can that really be a huge deal with where I'm going?" Thing is, if the big issues are not tackled because they are too large and seemingly insignificant things are not worked on because they are too small, change will not happen with any aspect. The fix: look at the small changes as being one part of a bigger issue, once you are looking back (hind sight is 20/20) you will see all the little things adding up to a huge underlying issue that had you seen then you probably wouldn't have worked on at all.. Maybe no one will notice all the small things I am working on (and come on, be honest, we all like a little recognition from someone) but I will, and I can be proud of changing what I don't like about myself. (As an aside, don't get frustrated with the process, changing doesn't happen overnight and you will make mistakes, that doesn't mean you aren't able to change or it's not worth the work, it means you're human! If you're working on your temper and you call someone down just recognize the mistake and continue to move forward, next time you might remember the mistake and stop short of the yelling or sarcastic comments with their cutting sting.) I'm not sure why I wrote this one, other than to challenge you to change with me! Don't be lazy or complacent, don't let the big issues scare you, just get started! Next year at this time you will barely recognize the person you are right now, you will be thousands of small changes closer to who you are meant to be. I know you are thinking of something you could change by now, that's exactly what you should start with.. The Bible says "to him that knows to do good and does it not, to him, it is sin." and whether you believe the Bible or not, you know the good thing you can do for a change in your life; if you don't do it now you then have to choose to not to change, not to go after who you dream of being.. Every time that part of you shows in the mirror of who you are preceved to be you have to again choose to ignore and procrastinate the change, good luck with that. Or, you could just start now (PS. the second option is the better of the two, incase you are having a hard time figuring that out :o))

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Permission or Invitation?

Hi little ones! (okay, okay, I'm the little one :o)

I'm already in the Christmas swing! I just want to drink apple cider, cocoa, egg nog (even though it makes me ill) and bake and shop and wrap gifts and visit with family and watch Christmas movies... and... and... and :o)  Speaking of visiting with family, that's exactly what I've been doing every evening this week so that means today's post is a re-post! But, it was one of my first and I'm sure you all haven't already read it... Even if you have, I made some changes and enhanced the colors to make it Christmasy so you can read it again with a fresh perspective!

Love you all, merry early Christmas!
The Situation: I was praying about life and my future in particular, one thing I said to God was “You have permission to change my mind on this.” I wanted Him to know He is welcome to change my mind at any time... When I pray, I tell God where my heart is but I need Him to know just because I think something is a good idea doesn’t mean I will proceed even if I find out it’s not what He wants for me.. Kind of like when you are in a relationship; you wouldn’t make a decision to go on vacation to Alaska if your partner hated snow, you would talk and choose something you both would like. Well, I talk everything over with God (which is praying... if you’re one of the people who doesn’t get how people “pray,” praying is conversing with God like you would with others, maybe in a more respectful manner.)

The Thought: Since when does God need permission to do anything? Is it really permission he’s looking for or something else?

The Analogy: Friends, do they just give you permission to visit or actually invite you, and which is the preferred method? I never go places I am not invited; I have close friends who say “you can come over any time!” “You’re always welcome, just stop in” and I say that to my friends as well. I know I have permission to be there but just showing up somehow still feels intrusive.. At the very most I will call and hint for an invitation but if I don’t get one I am not coming.

The Conclusion: Revelation 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” It’s not so much calling to hint for an invitation.. God goes one step further and actually shows up but he knocks and waits for your invitation to come in.. Invitation extends automatic permission but permission itself seems to lack actual invite.

The Difference: What makes one better? It’s the welcome, the admittance of need or want, honesty, directness... You can imply the desire for a relationship but it’s so much better to ask for it, a lot of people are far too scared to assume you’re interested in them and God wants the same.

My Response: “Let me be direct, God, in case I haven’t been clear with you, you are now invited into my future, my decisions, my relationships and every other part of my life, everyday! I do need you and want you involved with me. Please, come in.”
 
Your Response: Well, that’s up to you... But I hope it’s a “here goes” type even if you’re not entirely sure it’s worth it. Just try it, see what it’s like to have the best friend ever! John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Friday, September 18, 2009

GET TO CLASS!

"OK, I love that plan!!" "Sounds GREAT!! Where do I sign up!?" "I'm totally ready to go... I want your promises and I want them NOW!" These are a few of my many thoughts about God's Plan for my life. I have even gone so far as to try to give them a little boost start by planning to move, telling others about the promises given to me so they could help God get things done in a 'little more timely fashion'.. But, what exactly is a timely fashion when it comes to God's plan?
"It seems to me the plans God has for me can't possibly be fulfilled in my rather small City so I should move.. Maybe go to Christian College in the United States, or down south to a mega church, I don't know... Just AWAY!" He hasn't let me get anywhere yet... At times it all seemed to fall into place, but when it cam down to the moment of opportunity, nothing "felt right". I cried to God; argued with him; tried to convince him how and where to get this started; and reminded him of my existence and frustration about where I had, as of yet, not been placed. All the time God kept me. He Kept me in a church when there were no more than three people my age there. He kept me alive and sane through a family being torn apart by divorce, death and hatred. He kept me close to his side even when I drove spears of my rebellion into his flesh. "Thank you Lord for loving me when to everyone and anyone else I would be unlovable!"
I had all but completely given up on the dreams he so carefully, thoughtfully and lovingly put in my heart. I stopped believing in the God who fixed my life being able to make the future he promised (to all who are willing to follow him) tangible. Philippians 1:6 (New International Version) "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

My tattered hopes and faded dreams were now just a nagging memory on the back burner of my mind, something I thought I had long ago thrown away but everywhere I turned there were reminders of who I was supposed to be. So I decided to sit down, shut-up and let him teach me, change me, mend me, break me; whatever he had to do to help me undo what I'd become.

1st lesson, you're not all you can be until you are willing to let go of everything and everyone He asks for. Sometimes he keeps the sacrifice you offer and consumes it in a burning fire but other times he just wants to know you are willing and provides another sacrifice so you won't have to give back what you love. (reference Genesis 22:1-13) I gave up my best friend in the world, I knew by the way things went down it was a God thing, and worth all the doors it opened to be able to pour myself into other relationships and teach people how to deal with unexpected situations... The sacrifice still hurt but there was something freeing in knowing I could give even that to God.

2Nd Lesson: Look for people to encourage in the ways you lacked encouragement. Nothing made me feel better than helping someone else, whether in private, anonymous ways or public. The reward that comes from knowing you helped change or shape the direction of some one's day is amazing! Not to mention, call it karma or whatever you would like, every time you help someone else God makes sure you get the help you need.

3rd lesson: Search yourself (and if you have someone you trust to help ask them to search you), be honest and look for things you should be changing to be a better person... Oh do I ever sound like Oprah now lol.. But seriously, try checking out your motives and values there's probably something you can work on and you never know, maybe by changing you will open the door to your destiny!

4Th lesson: God's right. Accept that maybe it's your own timing that is off, accept that maybe the only thing you think you want at the moment wouldn't be that great for you after all and let go of the things that hold you back.
5Th lesson: "Don't talk about the mess in your neighbors back yard until you've cleaned up your own" T.D. Jakes, I believe, forgive me if it's wrong... Basically mowing your grass is a permanent chore (unless you have AstroTurf and we all know how classy that would look covering you whole back yard... Really, unless you have a pool... OK, I'll leave that one alone ha!) so what makes you think that the first time you decide to clean up the mess in your life means you never have to look at that again or plant something nice? If you do have everything under control and you're just maintaining and you feel you have time on your hands why don't you try adding to your already charming qualities or do something nice for your neighbor instead of making another mess to clean up by talking about them... Yeh, I know that one can step on your toes a bit, but that's good, it means there is something to work on there :o) And if you're angry that I have the nerve to say that don't be I'm working on me as well and if that doesn't quite work for you blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-a-a-alpha & Omega lol..
6Th lesson: "You don't have to believe in my dream" also T. D. Jakes... and if you have time to listen to that sermon you should, it will help you! Basically, who are you trying to please, God or people? And if I promise you an ice cream (and I have a record of fulfilling promises as good a God's) then why would anyone other than you have to believe me? If others didn't believe would that stop me from giving you the ice cream I promised? (let me help you with the answers... No they wouldn't and No it wouldn't) The only thing is, if you don't believe it and keep talking like it's never going to happen to everyone around then avoid me because you're mad I won't give you the ice cream (which I would) it may tick me off to the point I will give your ice cream to someone who asks for it.. References Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Matthew 7:7-11 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Proverbs 18:21 "The tongue has the power of life and death..."

I know this one might have sounded a little preachy, probably mostly because I am talking (typing) to myself... It may be influenced by the family of preachers I seem to have ha! But Whether you're Christian or not I think it applies and if you're not and you try it I promise God will meet you at the point of your faith (if you are trying it you have a little faith that it might work) and you will see that he loves you and since he loves you he wants the best for you and since he's God he can and will make sure that, in the end, you will be in your destiny.

The surprising thing to me... I am still here, in my small town that I wanted so desperately to leave, and now I realize that this is the place where God is leading me to my destiny, I am exactly where he wants me and, even when I get antsy, where he wants me is where I want to be.. I may not be looking back saying he fulfilled every promise yet but that's because I am watching him work in the present and looking ahead to where he is taking me. I'm still in God's classroom in many ways but I know he's preparing me to go into the 'work field'... So get your butt to class, he's pretty good about excusing you being late as long as he knows you're there to learn.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

All the way

"When somebody loves you; It's no good unless he loves you all the way... Deeper than the deep blue see is. Thats how deep it goes if it's real. When somebody needs you, it's no good unless he needs you all the way. Through the good or lean years and for all the in-between years, come what may. Who know where the road will lead us? Only a fool would say. But if you'll let me love you, it's for sure I'm gonna love you all the way" - Frank Sinatra Now you know 2 things about me: I'm a romantic at heart (truth be known, every woman, if she is strong enough to admit, is a romantic) and I only like to do things "all the way". I've never been a "faker", not really able to temper many of my words if someone wants my true opinion... "Does this look good on me?" Response, "Ah... no." Known for being a little too outspoken (hey, I'm working on the sugary wording).. One day while walking down a main street with my mother, in the middle of a 'small-talk' sort of conversation, I realized I didn't truly know the one person who I was supposed to be in the most important relationship with. Uncontrollable tears streaming down my face, I froze on the spot. Mom, looking back, realizing she was now having conversation with herself, asked "Are you alright? What happened?" My reply, although now faded memory went something like "I don't even know him... My whole family knows him, I know his relationship with them, I know the words he would speak to anyone int any given situation, have read all his letters to me, spent countless hours talking about him and even too him directly, yet, somehow, I've lost who he is!" (Yes, I realize that's a run-on sentence, but it was when I spoke it.) Quite a shocker from the light, fluffy conversation we were having just seconds ago, mom fell silent. "I'm not doing anything just because I know it's an appropriate action, not speaking words just because they are expected, not putting on a face just because I know people are watching, I have to get real!" The conversation went on as mum turned me around and headed back toward home with onlookers most likely thinking I had just received horrible news (you get the point, I'm sure).
So, I started by telling him what was going on with me, it's not that I wanted out of the relationship at all, not that he had done anything wrong (in fact, just the opposite, it was the best love I ever had and have since experienced) but I needed some time to back up and make sure I was being honest with him. I made sure to spend time with him to show him I was serious about the relationship and re-building true, pure love. I'm sure I hurt his feelings but he certainly didn't make me feel out of line and after a few awkward times of silence he seemed to almost enjoy starting over.
I'm not sure what it was that got me lost in the first place.. Maybe it was eyes watching or the judgements people passed, possibly my expectations of how it "should be" then trying to navigate the path to those imaginary places on my own.. Maybe it was the lack of conversation about those expectations in the first place.. or possibly it was my eyes on other people's relationships and my own judgements about what went on behind closed doors the lead me astray.. Whatever it was, I just wanted authenticity and the only way I knew I could possibly get there was to strip the relationship down to its foundation.
My questions: Why did I fall in love with him in the first place? Did I really fall in love with him or my ideals of who he was supposed to be? If I didn't fall in love with him, is it possible now? Am I a horrible person because after years of time he invested in me I am just asking these questions now?
My Answers: I don't know why I fell in love or if I even did... I know I want to love him and to do that I have to get to know him as if we just met today.. Can I fall in love with him now depends on who I find him to really be.. Am I a horrible person? Probably, especially if the answer to the third question turns out to be no.
My Process: Let him know who I really am, I have tried to be sincere but I know there are times I do and say things because it's appropriate, expected or desired by someone other than myself. That meant telling him when he did something I didn't like and/or didn't understand, asking for his forgiveness when I made mistakes (which, if you know me, is pretty much a daily occurence). It meant telling him my thoughts and feelings about anything and everything even when I am embarrassed to admit them; telling him my likes and dislikes even when they didn't coincide with his.
Find out who he really is, without putting my rose colored glasses on about who I think he should be.. That meant accepting that he doesn't always say yes when I want something, he doesn't always agree with me, he doesn't always want to hang out with the same people or in the same places I do, sometimes he just wants to stay in and turn the tv off to talk about issues I would rather distract myself from (I once heard that true love makes you face all the things you try to hide and deal with your past and personality issues.. I believe that now). That also meant knowing all the above are not negative aspects of a relationship.
I had to see my true self and change the things that are ugly when I have to look in the mirror (so to speak.. and I am still working on this one). I know everyone says you shouldn't change yourself for a relationship, and that's true when you are talking about pretending to be someone you are not.. But not so true when you are talking about things that truly are negative attributes you possess. That meant making myself vulnerable (which, especially when you come from a broken home, is not easy in any respect). It meant being accountable to someone about the things I see in myself that, if I were looking at someone else with these traits, are not becoming in any way.. For me it meant working on my temper, my sharp tongue, my need to have the last word... (A friend of mine, Justin, told me "you don't always have to jump to your own defence, you don't have to bring someone down just because you feel attacked in some way.. You need to be confident enough to know that really when people attack you verbally in public or you find out they have behind your back, it says more about who they are than what kind of person you are" he's right, that was probably one of the most valuable pieces of advice I have received in a lifetime.) That also meant realizing my fears and short-falls and letting them go, allowing myself to live confidently in spite of them. ("Courage is not the absence of fear..." Author unknown) I had to accept, other people may watch and judge and I understand that has no bearing on our relationship... And if he let it change anything that's on him.
I put the work in, put the time in... There were a few arguments but always underlying love and understanding we were growing something real and we would have to pull out some weeds every once in a while... Love isn't easy, it's hard work but it's worth it.
I began realizing that my parents splitting up when I was nine shaped the majority of my opinions on relationships and does affect the way I act in my relationships.. Giving him permission to show me when my past is affecting our relationship and if I'm angry trying to wait to respond once I've had the chance to think about it and realize he's right.. When I don't wait, apologizing about my reaction. I had to talk myself through a lot of this, making myself realize I do deserve to allow myself to be loved and to love back, just because my parents split doesn't mean my relationships have to.
He wants to love me and I am going to let him.. I want to love him, honestly, truly, deeply, so much I would die for him, without embarrassment or reservation, with reckless abandon, no matter who is or who isn't watching, I want to love him as good, or if it were possible, even better better than he loves me.
So I challenge you to do what I have done... I can tell you now, it worked for me, I am still in that relationship, people are watching and they recognize the raw truth in it... I know, it's almost enough to make you sick! Ha! I think this would work for any relationship.. Give the relationship time and work.. If it's old or new just try it.. Give the other person credit, be honest about how your feeling and tell them the plan to work on it, they will appreciate the honesty and know you're actually serious about making this work..
You may be surprised to know I've told you about my relationship with God.. Don't shut it down yet, hear me (or read me) out.. I have 5 uncles, a grammie and many cousins who are pastors, I have seen healing and miracles happen in front of my eyes.. I believed in God, knew he was real but wanted nothing more to do with a God who didn't talk to me about my life or who I couldn't hear his voice with anything to do with my life. I didn't want him talking to me about other people if he wasn't talking to me about myself.. Then I realized, I wanted to give him the chance, if for nothing else, so I could walk away with a clear conscience... I honestly put in the time and effort and it worked.. I'm not sure I wasn't surprised but I was glad. The Bible says "Taste and see that the Lord is good" you would only say you didn't like something without trying it if you were a child (or immature) so I'm just asking you to give God the chance you would give a new flavor of ice cream.. If I'm wrong, prove it to yourself by honestly trying the relationship. Do it ALL THE WAY!
PS. I'm not wrong