Saturday, June 30, 2012

To Trust or Not To Trust

I hoped that trusting my ex-husband would be easier now that I forgive him, but after a taste of it yesterday, I don't think that is going to happen for a while. I want it to...I try to assume the best in everyone. It's rare that you will find me stressing over someone's actions because my heart wants to believe the good in people...good intentions and good reasons. I don't feel any hurt or resentment, but I've heard "T'm sorry" way too many times without matching actions that I still feel manipulated when it comes from him.

I know that God is calling me to show him love and I am so blessed by friends, old and new, that have been encouraging me and reassuring me that this is what I need to CHOOSE to do. It is difficult though.

It had been a while since we have had an argument and I knew exactly how the conversation (argument) was going to go yesterday. I prayed it wouldn't go that way, but it did. (On a lighter note, another sign of my healing was that I was able to hang up the phone, take a deep breath, and move on with my day. I didn't let it effect me or aggravate me to continue an argument.) 

An hour after the phone call he called me back to apologize. I know! An apology for arguing with me, how he spoke to me and how he reacted. At first the "I'm sorry" (actually quite a few of them) were great signs that things may not be as bad as I anticipated with his move out here. I was able to finally tell him how much I forgive him, have no resentment or anger towards him and hope that we can start to build a positive relationship to work together for the kids. It seemed like a great conversation.

Then, I found out that his sister has filed for divorce, has a lawyer and NC and he is with them in NC right now. Flashbacks of all of his manipulations with his words and "I'm sorry" came back. Part of me feels like this is no different than in the past. His family doesn't like me anymore, so I can only imagine what happened when he got off of the phone with me the first time. I want to believe the best, but...

I know that the law is on my side and I have nothing to fear, but the threats are all too familiar. I am realizing more that he is going to have to earn trust back from me. I trust him with the kids, but at this point, I wouldn't put anything past him directly between us.

Then again, maybe God is working in his heart and the apology was honest. I guess I will just love him through this, and trust God, especially when I can't trust him.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A conversation with God

Me: God, I am angry and hurt. I blame myself for my plans not working out.

God: Of course your plans didn't work out. They were yours not Mine.

Me: Then I'm angry at you. I don't want to be, but I am.

God: I know you are. It's okay. I love you.

Me: My plans were good. They were good, godly, wise plans.

God: Yes, they were good.

Me: Then why?

God: Because they were not My best.

Me: I don't want to wait for your best.

God: I know, but My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

Me: You are right. I'm sorry, but I'm still hurt.

God: I know. Come to Me child. Bring me your hurts and I will comfort you. I will heal you. I will protect you. I will never leave you. I love you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Don't give up

I've spent a lot of my free time at working trying to build a relationship with a young (well, she's 25) woman. I really like her and we have become pretty good "work" friends. I've been praying for a chance to build a deeper relationship and get a chance to share my story and the Gospel with her. I've been stopping at her desk a few times a day and have been letting her into my life. A few weekends ago, we were going to get together for a baseball game and she had to cancel. I was discouraged and thought that maybe my effort wasn't worth it.

Until Friday.

We were chatting about our weekend and I mentioned that I was volunteering at a water station for my friend's century ride that he and his dad created. She started asking me about the things I volunteer for and expressed interest in doing similar. For the first time she also expressed interest in going to church. She doesn't know much about Christianity except for what her husband has told her and it seems that he has been hurt by the church or Christians. She expressed genuine interest in going to church with me and my boys.

I am so humbled that God would use me just to plant a seed in her like this - whether or not she goes to church with us, I was able to tell her a bit about Christianity. I especially let her know that if it was a list of rules, religion or perfection, I would have never signed up for it. I hope to get a chance to go to lunch with her this week and hear more of her story and her experiences.

God has had her on my heart for a while now. Please join me in praying for her heart to be open to receiving what I say. Pray for my words and intentions to be removed and for the Holy Spirit to speak through me according to His will.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Yesterday could have led me into a very dark place today. Late last night I realized what today was and was able to see the lies fed into all of the half-truths. I was able to put on my armor and fight with the strength of the Holy Spirit again the lies being presented before me.

In my past, today was a day represented by a beautiful glass vase - filled with hope, love, promises...

A few years ago it shattered.

Since then, God has been picking up each broken piece of glass, not leaving a single shard on the ground.

God placed all of those broken pieces into a kiln...melting them together to shape a new vase, more beautiful than the last. Stronger the the last.

Our enemy comes along with a sledge hammer of lies trying to shatter the new creation.

He came close yesterday through multiple circumstances. But not close enough.

Take my eyes off the circumstances and put them onto the Lord. In all reality, the circumstances were nothing like how I perceived them to be. Lies. Deception. Distortion of truth. That's all it was.

Denial - Deny my way and accept  God's way.
Expectations - Live in the present and not worry about tomorrow, the next hour or the next minute. Cling to God's promises.
Regret - Bring it to God and He will use it for His good.
Flaw - Be open to refining. Confess and let God work.
Effort - When doing something for the Glory of God, it is always worth the cost.

Today is a day of celebration - for my Rooted group.
Today is a day of celebration for the circumstances that were so easily distorted yesterday. I embrace them today.
Today is a day for celebration for new life. New creation. New future.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

One of those days

Have you had one of those days when denial turns into acceptance? 
When you realize expectations will not be met?
When regret finally sets in?
When a character flaw reveals itself?
When the effort just isn't worth it anymore?
It's a disappointing is one of those days. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

10 weeks

10 weeks of another Rooted session have come and gone (through we still have our celebration dinner on Friday.)

I went into tonight being relieved it was over. Rooted has been my life for the past 20 weeks - every Tuesday for 3 hours, plus the reading, praying and preparation it takes to lead a group of 14.

Week 10 is my favorite night...not because it is over, but because everyone in the group gets a chance to affirm each other. I get to also pray into each of their lives a prayer of affirmation. It is a night where after 10 weeks of being vulnerable and open to each other and to what God is doing in our lives, I get to help the group see the journey God has taken them on and how He has drawn them closer to Him.

It is a night or purpose, laughter, tears, acceptance, surrender, hope, love, fellowship...

We celebrate communion with our new family of friends. We get a glimpse of how others see us. We are able to share how another person's story has made an impact on our lives.   We are able to see how God has used us broken, afraid, lost, uncertain, insecure, flawed, lonely and built a community of people who are loved just as we are. In our brokenness God brought healing. In our insecurities, God brought confidence. In our fears God brought deliverance. God showed us a path when we were lost. God showed us security when we were uncertain. God showed us His perfect creation in us when we feel too flawed to be loved.

Week 10 is the reason I lead Rooted. Week 10 is the passion God has set in my heart. I love hearing and seeing His stories written through us...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Real Beauty

All women can get wrapped up in our society's definition of beauty... even Christians (even me.) In fact, I have heard many stories of women who are beautiful as our society defines it and still feel empty and undesirable. 

So, what is the definition of true beauty? 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4 

What - or better yet - WHO are you going to let define your beauty?

Monday, June 11, 2012

When I fail...

Overwhelmed by Grace and unconditional Love is the only way to describe life right now. Overwhelmed is probably an understatement. For weeks God has been putting me into situations where I need to trust Him...more and more each time a bit of my walls have been broken down without me realizing it. Only now I see what has been hiding underneath. The walls I put up to protect myself are the same walls that have been hiding myself. Afraid to fail, I doubted the Love that never fails, even when I do. Afraid to fail in relationships, at work, in parenting, with finances...the underlying need to be perfect so I will be loved fed those fears. When the walls I put up keep people away and the times I isolate myself push people away, one thing remains and never gives up on me. For years I have known that I do not have to be perfect to be loved, but the walls around my heart couldn't let that truth in. No matter who tried to tell me in their own way, I doubted their truths and assigned the idea that they "had to say that" because they are my friend. I have been telling myself these lies and have been giving the enemy stronghold over my life.

Achieving perfection in any of those areas of my life will never fill the desire and craving in my heart for unconditional, unfailing love. There is only one Love that can be described as such and one Love that will reach deeper than I can see to fill the well of my heart. In being honest about these lies, I can finally freely bring my desires and cravings to Him - my thirst that can only be satisfied by His living water. Just this little taste of it has brought new life.

What a gift God has given us in that we get to experience His living Word so closely. The gift of knowing Him-not from a distance, but personally, and being known by Him-completely.

"We do this because our hearts were made to worship and find our worth in Him alone...By changing our focus to the Giver, we can then begin to look to Him for our identity and purpose. By worshiping Him for who He is, we remember how valuable we are in Him and to Him."

Seeing you as God sees you changes everything!

"It is a moment by moment, day by day experience where we process our thoughts, emotions and decisions with God, positioning our hearts to let His perspective redefine ours."

This is a journey God started me on a few years ago and I am seeing Him work until it is finished...a lifetime of growing more secure in His love, identifying myself in Him alone, and seeking Him and not the acceptance of this world.

The best gift is to be able to draw near to I AM just as I am.

-quotes from A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

Fight for Hope

Do not get discouraged in your season of suffering. Do not lose hope when your dreams meet reality. Be open to God deepening His character in you through perseverance when expectations are not met.

We all have expectations and when reality hits and some are not met, do not give up. Be true to who God made you to be and boldly declare your trust in Him. Stand with a confident heart - God knows you intimately and meets you in that place, wherever you are. The seasons of life can beat you down or build your character to be more like His. Hope, not in the fleeting circumstances and seasons of this world, but in Him. A tangible Hope and Love that never fails!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Journey to a confident heart

I am so blessed to have a great sister with a very expensive Master's Degree in Social Work who can talk truth into my crazy emotions once a month. I am also grateful that this craziness only lasts a day or two each month and I usually know when to expect it :)

I am also blessed by a loving God who uses these emotions to break down my walls - little by little. I have learned to try and be strong and hold it together all of the time, but I can always count on God to tear down the walls for a day or two before I rebuild them - not as high and not as strong. 

Today was one of those days that God used to break me down and removed my own strength so that I all had was His. 

Today we had a payer/healing service at church taken from James 5:13-16:

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I usually go on Saturday night, but we went this morning instead. I was so excited to see my friend and her husband there together. They are living separately right now and this was a big answer to prayers - or so I thought. Once we sat down together, she explained that they come together every week and pretend that everything is okay. While disappointed that it wasn't more than that, I was blessed to see brokenness in both of them during the service. While he courageously went down for prayer, she wept by my side. No words were exchanged between us as I just hugged her (and I teared up too), so I don't know the reason, but I am confident that God was breaking down a piece of the wall she has up...and possibly some of mine too.

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope
I added this book to my Kindle a few months ago when it was free, honestly, thinking I would probably never get to reading it. I decided to start reading it today, and based on a conversation with my best friend yesterday, it is no coincidence that this book is in my hands.

The author knows me...knows what is in my head and what is in my heart. Really, God knows me, what is in my head and what is in my heart and He put this book in my life. Word for word, she describes my fears, my insecurities, my desires and the longing of my heart. I have a hard time crying (due to the walls of being "just fine"), but I just wept as I read chapter 2 of the book.

"Being honest about who we are and how we are doing is especially risky when it comes to 
our insecurities. We fear that if people know we doubt ourselves, they’ll start doubting us too...

...Pretending leads to hiding and isolation. What we need is someone who will pursue us and 
accept us even though we’re flawed. Yet most of us doubt anyone would ever stick with us if 
we let them get too close. So we put up walls and hide our struggles, even from God, hoping 
we’ll convince Him and everyone else that we’re fine. 

Eventually, though, we find ourselves in the shadows of doubt, convinced that we aren’t 
worth knowing or pursuing. Slowly we begin to believe we have to be perfect to be loved and 
accepted. We know we never will be—but we’ll die trying, won’t we?
For much of my life, I put expectations of perfection on myself because I thought if I let 
others see my weakness and insecurities they would think less of me."

The chapter also gave me a new perspective on the Samaritan woman Jesus meets at the well. Every sermon I hear tends to make it sound like it is her sins that have led to her lifestyle and, while that may be true, I had never heard her described this way. I have compassion for her. I see me in her.

"She’d been married five times. In her culture women could not divorce their husbands, so 
she had been discarded by five men and was now living with a man who didn’t think she was 
worth committing to. We meet her one day while she is running errands and running away 
from those who knew all about her flaws and failed marriages. Feeling imperfect and 
ashamed, she walked to the well alone that day."

Not only do I have a new understanding of "Sam", I have been there. I know those feelings all too well. I still experience those feelings too often.

I had a conversation with my best friend yesterday about this, the message at church was about this, I read this part in the book today and my sister spoke this same truth into me. I do not doubt the way God has used those four circumstances to reveal Himself to me. It has been disappointing to think I had not personally healed from so much of my past as much as I thought I did, but, I am so hopeful in that I actually have healed and now I am on a journey to be broken down deeper...a journey towards a more confident heart in Him. I resisted this pain, but today, I welcome it. I welcome the brokenness. I welcome my Father into it - without pretending and without hiding, but just me as I am - confident He accepts me and loves me.

"Will you let your desire to be known and loved just as you are lead you into a more 
personal and intimate relationship with Jesus? The first step is to embrace your imperfections 
in the light of God’s perfect love, “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” (Phil. 1:6)."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

He has overcome

I am blessed by a best friend who, not only knew that a spiritual attack would come this week, but could intercede with prayer and join me in the fight. I am amazed by our God of hope and love, and for His reminder recently that “There is no fear in My love, which shines in you continually. Sit quiet in My Love-Light, while I bless you with radiant Peace. Turn your whole being to trusting and loving me.” (Jesus Calling, June 3).

This battle is not mine to fight on my own. The struggles have already been overcome. Thank you, Father, for knowing the struggles and desires of my heart in advance, for arming me with a name of truth (Amanda = worthy of love) and for the assurance that You have already won. Today, I choose to take heart in the promise that Your love will always be enough. Today, I choose to courageously stand firm against these strongholds with the true identity I have already found in You. Today, I choose to claim Your truth of acceptance as I am. I will not fear… I will trust.         

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears in not made perfect in love”. John 4:18

All our troubles
And all our tears
God our hope
He has overcome

All our failure
And all our fear
God our love

He has overcome

All our heartache
And all our pain
God our healer
He has overcome

All our burdens
And all our shame
God our freedom
He has overcome

All our troubles
And all our tears
God our hope
He has overcome

All our failures
And all our fear
God our love
He has overcome

God our justice
God our grace
God our freedom
He has overcome

God our refuge
God our strength
God is with us
He has overcome