Hello? Remember me? I can’t remember the last time I blogged an update. It has been a very busy season and I was blessed when Kathy Carlton Willis and her team sent me some wonderful blog posts to share this fall. They were wonderful and spanned throughout late September and October. Thank you, Kathy and team!
I thought I’d share what’s been going on and what’s coming up.
- I finished teaching Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst in as many as 5 different ways. I’ve never done this before and it was a HUGE step of faith. I taught it as a Sunday School Class and as it usually goes, I think I learned the most. I was able to lower my walls and make new friends. There have been times my biggest rejections came from teaching, so this was HARD. But God saw me through it, and I’m thankful. I taught twice a week through an online Facebook group (no video) and that was special. I’m so proud of those ladies. I also met with people privately and/or shared my journaling to encourage those I know are struggling. This book is a life-changer. I put it up there with Beth Moore’s Believing God.
- My husband is on the tail end of teaching seven weeks straight. Most of those weeks were not local, so that put me on full-time duty. It isn’t easy for any of us, but this is new for him, training on a full-time schedule, and he enjoys it.
- Our oldest started college. I didn’t think much of the transition because he is a commuter student, and honestly, I’m still recovering from his senior year of high school. His grades are amazing and he’s made a couple connections. We see more change on the horizon come January, but we think they are open doors we are excited to see him walk through.
- Our youngest started middle school. I also didn’t think much of the transition because physically, it is a move down the hall. No big deal, right? But, I forgot the drama. So much with girls and middle school. I really struggled with this one, but through it, she learned wisdom and discernment, and boundaries. I’m drained, and the hard part is, we’re just entering the teen years.
There was also a visit to my home town and a quick trip to the Adirondacks. I’m still critiquing and writing ENGAGED. I’m not where I want to be with it, but I have much of it plotted, so it should flow well. The feedback I’m receiving from promotions I did with ENTRUSTED and ENTANGLED has been so positive, I’m so grateful. I also did a book club for ENTANGLED and that went really well. I’m trying one for ENTRUSTED on my author page, but it is slow going. I think that will pick up once more readers find me. And I pray they do!
At the end of Uninvited, Lysa TerKeurst challenges readers to have the courage to ask loved ones, “What’s it like to do life with me?” Boy, that is tough. I haven’t done the official assessment yet, but late August my husband shared something that I knew was a blindspot for me, I didn’t see it. And instead of feeling rejected, I knew it was an area to work on.
So that’s everything going on right now. Tired? I am. I didn’t even talk about all the menopause stuff and the changed I’ve implemented. But that’s what life is like with me right now. Busy!
Stay tuned, throughout November guest bloggers will be sharing why they are thankful. I LOVE this series, I think it is our 9th year. I still have openings, you do NOT have to be a writer to participate. All you need to be is thankful!
To sign up, find a date that is open in November, click the box on the right, hit submit in the center bottom box. It will confirm and send you an email, and also a reminder. If you have trouble, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help.
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This is one of those posts that isn’t fun to write because it takes me back to a time I didn’t love and of course, I don’t come out looking too great in it. But I know I’m supposed to share it, and I believe it will encourage someone out there.
Our newlywed years weren’t normal or easy. I had chronic pain because of a severe case of PCOS. There were many days I was in bed because of pain as soon as I got home from work. I had to receive shots in the backside that were not easy to give or receive. And then there was the baggage.
I came into the marriage with low self esteem and huge trust issues. I was a wounded person who usually felt better wounding others. It wasn’t a good place.
My husband worked a new job with a lot of hours. He was in community theater. We were new in our church and wanted to be active there together. We grieved his kids not living in the same state anymore and trusted God had them and us.
When he had a bad day from any of these stresses or even something else, I had one thought and one thought only.
I’m the reason he’s upset.
It’s my fault.
It will always be me.
It will always be my fault.
When he needed time to chill, I took that as a personal rejection. I didn’t get that men need their cave time. When he’s ready to talk, he will. But my own emotional baggage couldn’t allow me to see that. So I’d chase him down, causing more stress.
And guess what?
It wasn’t about me until I made it about me. And that’s when real conflict started.
I had a lot of problems then, and a big one I didn’t realize was one I think a lot of young women are also dealing with: you want your husband to be your savior.
Sorry, ladies, he can’t. He’s human and he’s going to fail. The harder you pursue him with that expectation, the faster he’s going to retreat. I tell you from experience. Then your pain is that much stronger because you’ve got another man in your life who has rejected you.
How did I get out of that spiral? It wasn’t easy or fast. I had to hit a rock bottom and realize even when his bad day wasn’t about me, I had a lot of healing to take care of. I had people praying. I read a lot from Chuck Swindoll to Sheila Walsh. I went through two Bible studies that changed everything—Believing God by Beth Moore and Captivating by Sheila Eldredge. I started to see my Savior was there to rescue me, He is Jesus, not my husband. And when I put that in the right order, everything changed.
My view of a Heavenly Father wasn’t healthy because I was envisioning someone with closed arms disappointed in me. Pressing in through my relationship in Christ and giving Him everything about me re wired my thinking. God’s arms are open wide even when I goof up and it is about me.
Now that I’m healed from those hurts, I don’t rely on my husband to be the source of all my happiness. I have the discernment to know when he’s having a bad day when to approach and when to wait. I no longer have those internal alarms going off thinking he’s upset with me.
If this is a struggle for you, I pray something in this post gives you hope to seek healing as well. If you are not part of a Bible reading, Christ centered church, I pray you find one and surround yourself with people who can pray for you. I’m rooting for you!
This year my goal is to share surrender stories, encouragement from myself and others that will encourage you to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. Last week Sarah Hamaker shared her story about parenting expectations. Alexis A. Goring let us in on her journey about surrendering refined sugar.
My story is about letting go of people pleasing and approval.
For those that know me now, they can’t believe I’d waste much time on such a thing. Peers find me God confident and secure in who God says I am. Trust me, that wasn’t always the case.
I was a hurting person growing up and took offenses, even slight ones that weren’t even intentional, to my core. I nursed them, fed them, and sewed them into my heart. By the time I was in my mid/late twenties and starting married life, approval had a grip on me.
What my husband thought of me kept me busy day and night. Choices he made I zeroed in and was certain was because of me. I can’t tell you how many of our early conflicts had the words, “This isn’t about you.” I couldn’t believe it. And I was imagining so many disappointments he had about me that I conjured up real conflict.
I did the same with colleagues and clients. I wanted to be the best and felt I was only good at what I did when I saw the organization or may name in bold newspaper print. Well, not every task is going to make the news. I exhausted myself wanting the approval.
The object lesson that I share with ladies I speak with is the loudest example to me about how sick I was when it came to needing approval and caring what people thought of me. I am so NOT a crafty person. But years and years ago for Christmas dinner at the in-laws I was chiseling an eggplant into a penguin centerpiece. If Pinterest existed back then I would have scoured the site looking for something I could bring that would make me feel worthy enough to be there. I was up into early morning getting this eggplant centerpiece ready. By the time I got there, I was too tired to be social. No one cared about the penguin. These people just wanted to see ME.
But back then, I still didn’t see it, and surrendering it was a process.
Here’s what God did in me.
I went to a couple retreats where prayer was intensive and I took steps of faith to share my story and allow others to pray. The results were powerful. God showed up and I felt for the first time how deeply Jesus loved me. He started to re wire my mind.
Then, I read. I’m an avid reader and I’m not afraid of a tough Bible study. I journeyed through Beth Moore’s Believing God and a few years later, Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating. Both these books were tools in God’s arsenal to set me free.
This healing in my life paved the way for me to write. There was no way I could have pursued writing for the public the way I was, and sadly I see too many authors with this approval/what others think burden and it is exhausting for them and frustrating for those in their circles. It would have emotionally snuffed me out had I not sought healing. And in His mercy and humor, I did receive a negative review with Entrusted. The person was kind but they didn’t like the book. They even admitted the hardest part was they hit purchase twice, so they were stuck with two copies they didn’t want.
Not long ago that review would have sent me to bed and I would have kept it churning in my mind for months. Today? I smiled. Not because I’m mocking the reviewer, but I’m so thankful for what the Lord has done in me.
And my friend, He longs to do the same for you.
When I first took this picture, I smiled thinking about the other leaves and how inferior they must feel around this big yellow leaf in the middle.
and that reminded me of a story.
About a huge giant who laughed as he slayed solider after soldier from the Israelites who dared fight him.
Look at the tiny leaf that is at 11:00/top left in the picture. The leaf is so small you could almost dismiss it.
David was a shepherd, not a warrior. Yet when God tapped him as the one to take down the giant, victory was assured. It wasn’t because of armor, he took it off because it was cumbersome. It wasn’t because of training, he basically stumbled out of the field.
It was because of God and David’s not just believing in Him, but believing Him.
What new door has opened for you that seems so huge you could never knock it down?
He’s got this.
And, He’s got you.
I’m a couple days late but moving forward with Patty Wysong’s weekly meme of going through the alphabet. This week? The Letter E.
It was 1997 or 98. I had a couple years of marriage under my belt and was overwhelmed by post partum blues with my firstborn. We were at a new church, reeling from antics board members pulled on the third pastor of the previous congregation. I kept many thoughts to myself but the anger, confusion, and venting were certainly all there.
That particular Sunday a traveling prophet, for lack of a better term, came to the new church. He brought his guitar and sang some nice songs that especially ministered to my husband. He gave a message and invited anyone who felt so called to come to the altar for prayer.
I went, not sure why, not expecting much, but went.
The man, who I did not know and definitely did not know me, lightly touched my shoulder as he began to pray.
In a paraphrase he uttered this—
You keep asking God why you don’t have it easy. You keep looking at the others and they have it easy, but not you. The Lord wants you to know He’s heard you and you’re right. You have had it harder than others and it’s been that way because you know you’re dust in my hands. I’m transitioning you through these hard times where you will be an intercessor that knows she’s dust and knows Me. Because of this you will pray in My name and believe that I can move mountains, and mountains will move. You will ask for big things in Jesus’ name and believe.
Again, that’s a paraphrase and I’m not blogging or entertaining comments on whether you agree with the doctrine or what this man said. I can say this, the man didn’t know me, but God did, and He revealed my heart. I was so frustrated. Women my age fell apart over a bad hair day while I was getting shots in the backside. I near totaled a new van while 10 weeks into a high risk pregnancy. Life didn’t seem fair and I was sick of it.
And God knew.
The easy life never came to me, at least not full time. There were seasons when life was smoother than other times, but what did come to pass was that transition. Those hard times, and they got even worse by 2003, refined me to a place where I believed God. To this day if you ask me for prayer, be ready, because I’m going big or I’m not going at all, and I’m expecting Him to show up. He’s moved mountains. People have let me know they were expecting babies they never thought possible, found expensive medical equipment they thought lost forever, received strength in a situation they thought would be the death of them, and more. That wasn’t me, that was God.
But He had to show me the easy life wasn’t going to be a great life. At least not for me.
I’ve joked that once I’m done sobbing in Jesus’ arms once in heaven, grateful for my eternal home and thankful to hug on my Savior, I’m asking He tour me through the warehouses of my tears. There will be many, I’m certain. They came at a price, and they were experiences I literally wished on others for a long time.
These days, I’m okay when adversity comes. I get that it is an opportunity, but I’m still human. I cringe when I hear the troubles others share and they seem so superficial to me. I don’t wish any harm or bad on anyone, but again, in the flesh I sometimes get upset.
So my E is for EASY, and I pray it is an ENCOURAGEMENT for anyone who feels the distribution for hard times seems stilted. It is. There is a purpose, and if you can surrender to it and trust God, you will have an amazing role in furthering His Kingdom.
Hang in there!
I’ve mentioned a few times that I consider myself a Charlie-in-the-box with a home base called Misfit Island. This summer as I networked with other women for different social and ministry reasons I met a few people who were in agony and couldn’t pinpoint what was going on. I saw it immediately because five years ago, it was me.
These are folks who show signs of being a Misfit Island toy as well. Remember Rudolph’s trip there? They didn’t fit in, weren’t popular and to the world appeared to have something wrong. When Rudolph gets there being labeled feels like a death sentence. By the end he realizes the call on his life is special few could ever do.
That, my friend, is the life of a misfit.
I call myself Charlie-in-the-box because like the toy, I look like everyone else but there is just enough difference I never made the popular cut. My earliest memories are of me constantly thinking. My brain doesn’t stop. I’m not a genius but I’m always wondering. I discern things through God’s wisdom or He’ll give me a nudge to say something and it is so dead on accurate about the recipient that I’ve encountered cases where people back away. Or the fun one where people see me heading in their direction and they make a quick exit.
The misfit life is lonely like I can’t define. I can be in a crowd of hundreds and the ache I have to pray over something I sense about the environment or even a person is so strong it can be a physical ache. I know nine times out of ten I’m not meant to approach people and tell them what I feel or sense, it is just a prayer nudge for me. And the crowds are rarely talking about surrender, intimacy in Christ, how they are loved by God or any of the things that are on my mind hours at a time every single day.
That lonely feeling came back this summer but I’ve felt those fires enough to see them coming and know what to think about it. Don’t think I jump for joy, the tears still come, especially at night. But I can attest to this, like the misfit toys, it is a gift. The loneliness is a season of preparation for something SO much bigger than you are. Yield yourself to it, cry it out, pray it out, journal, and most of all, spend one on one time with God. He is drawing you closer for a reason.
When the preparation season ends the loneliness lets up in intensity. Then for me I seem to go on an active status of sorts where I’m called on a lot. They are “chance” meetings, planned meetings, events where I have no intention of serving but observing and I’m the last to leave because there is a woman in need who just needs a listen and a believing God prayer. I’ve learned to embrace that season too. It’s busy and you have to be flexible. You have to get your rest and take care of yourself. The people who come into your life are broken just as you have been not so long ago. It will be mentally draining without rest. Without Christ’s leading? Debilitating. Don’t even try to do a thing without Him. I miss warm dinners and favorite TV shows but I also have to keep boundaries to make sure my husband and kids don’t feel abandoned. It’s hard.
And honestly, still lonely, but in a different less achy way. I remember years ago feeling that way and I called on a mentor from church I could trust. I told her I wasn’t engaging with others. If I was invited to their events I fidgeted because the topics were too superficial for my constant freedom in Christ kind of mind. When people reached out I at best saw an acquaintance. I couldn’t make the leap to take the person to a deep friendship and I felt bad about it.
The mentor laughed, recognizing as I do now, another “misfit is leaving Barbie Island.” What I thought was abnormal was just another part of the process. She simply stated that I wasn’t mean to have tons of deep friendships, it would prohibit me from doing what God had in mind. He was molding me as a leader and for that, I would never be that girl socializing at every event with a big circle of friends.
That freed me. I didn’t use it as an excuse, but I stopped pushing myself so hard to make friendships work that weren’t meant to be a BFF kind of thing. My circle of intimate friends is small, VERY small. But they are misfits who get God (to the degree He wants us to get Him) and they get me. We can talk about those deep things and no one runs away or avoids each other. Our lunches last hours and usually involve a waitress or stranger stopping us to share a problem, ask for prayer or something we know isn’t random.
What gets me through the loneliness these days is a constant eye on heaven. I long to be there. I don’t want to shorten my life here, but I get what is coming to me for eternity. I’m done believing lies about heaven being boring with harps and sleep. I am convinced, full of faith, that my eternity includes a rockin’ mansion built by Jesus Himself. My job? I totally see me working a literal heavenly library inviting other misfits to hear my latest speaker: Paul talking about his shipwreck. Stephen explaining the stoning and why he treasures it. Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven helped me see my passions and gifts have eternal perspective. I reap heavenly rewards because of loneliness and misfit moments.
If you can relate, I pray this longer post encourages you. This is a calling and a gift from God, as hard as it is to understand and accept. Yield to it, allow yourself to draw closer to God in a relational way, not just Biblical or academic. Rest. Be flexible. And keep your eyes on heaven. It’s ALL worth it, every tear.