Monday, February 23, 2015

A Series of New Beginnings

I realized recently that I look back on my life in its entirety and the times that I thought I faced change and adversity, it was in fact God stepping in and with His grace presenting me with a new beginning.  Actually, my whole life can be looked at as a series of new beginnings.

If you ask my mom, I don't deal well with change.  Really though, it's not the change I have a problem with, it is overanalyzing and overthinking HOW or WHY the change is happening.  It is stressing about the arrival or the inevitability of a change around the corner and THAT is what I don't handle well.  Now I know that this is a self-inflicted problem.

If I were to be honest I would say that my first new beginning happened when I decided to go to counseling, a change that was positive in my life but a change that I faced with severe anxiety.  Before admitting my need for counseling, I went through every different scenario and stigma in my head about depression and "needing help."  It wasn't until God stepped in and said, "you need this," that I admitted my weakness.

The next big thing for me was ending my relationship with my high school sweetheart.  It was not a toxic or bad relationship, it was actually quite the opposite.  We were madly in love but God stepped in and said, "he is not yours to marry.  I have someone else for him.  I have someone else for you." 

Then came college.  Deciding on a school was fairly easy when my parents said, "either you get a scholarship somewhere else or we will pay for you to go to Monmouth, those are your options."  I picked Monmouth begrudgingly after God told me, "I want you there."  

Once I got to college I decided to study abroad in Spain.  Before leaving I ended a relationship I knew I wasn't supposed to be in and while away God revealed to me that my heart truly belonged to another.  Before Spain The Lord told me, "I want this time with you, give me your attention."  

I came home and began to date Jake.  We were in a long distance relationship for two years after college and during year two of our post-college relationship I was very unhappy. I felt pulled away from the relationship and that God wanted us to go different directions.  We took a break when God said to me, "do you trust me with this?"  Two days later I was called for an interview out in Hennepin.  Six days later I knew I was moving and a month later I made the move to Princeton.  Nine months after that Jake and I were engaged.

Once we were married we decided to start a family and we all know where that road has taken us.  During that God said, "am I enough?"

Do you see a trend here?
"You need this."
"I have someone else for you."
"I want you there."
"Give me your attention."
"Do you trust me with this?"
"Am I enough?"  

Each time it took an impending change or big interruption in my life's direction for God to get my attention.  He has had to drastically make me move in order to get my attention and ask me or tell me very important things.  

While I won't say God has made me wander through the desert for 40 years, reading about the Hebrews journey in the Old Testament helped me recognize that I'm not the first person God has had to teach this way.  

I now realize that all of these changes were all gifts of many new beginnings.  God in His grace decided to press the reset button or change my life's direction in order to do what is best for me. And in each of those changes I was able to look back on questions I had already asked Him during a past change and know I can trust His will.

Maybe you feel like you are wandering in the desert or you are overanalyzing the unknown outcomes or stigmas from an impending change, either way, maybe it's time to look at the change as a new beginning and a gracious way of God saying, "my child, let's reset.  I have something better for you in store."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Owning My Mess

I'm going to come right out and say it, we have a cleaning lady...and she is amazing.  I love our cleaning lady for many reasons but mostly because of who she is.  

From the day I met her she has displayed a servants heart and her work ethic is unmatched. She comes to our house every two weeks and I admit there have been a few times that I've forgotten to "clean for the cleaning lady."  We are that house.  Our house is an organized mess and I know where things are at but if a stranger walked in they would probably think it is chaos.  

The first time I forgot to clean for the cleaning lady I felt so self conscious and totally stressed about it.  That was in August.  Ever since then I've realized that there is no reason for me to stress out.  I honestly feel that Krista is one of the most caring and understanding people I know.  She accepts us for our mess and willingly cleans up after us.  Yes, we pay her, but it's more than that.   Nothing is beneath her and on more than one occasion she has said, "don't worry about me...spend your time with your family... enjoy these moments...I remember what it's like to be a new mom and have a baby, etc.". 

This past Friday I forgot she was coming, our house was a disaster and my "list" was basically a cry for help to reclaim our house.  She is the person that has really seen our house at its worst and then works wonders! Friday night when I got home, I came home to swept and mopped floors and a clean and bare floor laundry room.  As a result I was able to relax and enjoy the weekend with my two favorite guys.  

It dawned on me Saturday morning that I stress about meeting with God just like I stress about cleaning for the cleaning lady.  Then I realized that just like Krista comes and takes amazing care of us and gets things sorted and organized, God is capable of doing that and so much more!

I don't need my life to seem in order and I don't need to clean up my act before coming to Go to ask for help and then seeing Him work wonders in my life.  

Just like having Krista in my family's life and allowing her to witness our mess leads to more enjoyment and valuable family time, the same goes for keeping God a priority in my life.  I will also note that unlike getting my house cleaned, I should approach him more than every two weeks.  

Imagine if you were to lay your mess at the foot of the cross simply because you didn't have a choice.  Just like when I forget to clean before Krista comes and she sees my life as it is and accepts it in stride, (after all, if we weren't messy she wouldn't have a job ;)), God sees my life "as is" every day and He welcomes me and hopes to have time with me and to take care of me.  

I decided this weekend that I want to be more like my cleaning lady and learn to more readily accept mess, without judgment, guilt or condemnation!  I also want to realize that it's ok to not clean up my act before I approach God.  He came to seek and save the lost.  He loves our brokenness, He sees us just as we are, mess and all...and still loves us.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Feeling Heard

Feeling Heard

Most people don't know that during my junior year of high school I was severely depressed and suicidal.  

I vividly remember driving down route 83 one night and all I thought about was how badly I wanted to speed up as fast as possible and drive my car into the median of the highway in hopes that the crash would kill me on impact.  The only reason I didn't act on this desire was because my younger brother, Stevie, was sitting in the passenger seat next to me and I didn't want to kill him, just myself.  After all, he was only 13.

That is when I knew I needed help.  That night I came home, sat down at the kitchen table and told my mom and dad we needed to talk.  I told them exactly what I wanted to do when I was driving, why I didn't do it, and that I needed to see someone, tomorrow.  Not in two days, not next week, the very next day.  

It wasn't an accident or a coincidence that my younger brother was in the seat next to me.  God placed him there at that moment to save my life.  

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can beat.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  

Ever since I sought counseling and was healed of that depression, my entire outlook on life changed.  

Those closest to me know that I wear my heart on my sleeve, I try to be as honest as possible and I try my very best not to sweat the small stuff.  I know that at times my words/advice/input may not be welcome but at least I know I've been heard.  

During my depression I withdrew.  I withdrew from family, from friends, from activities, from life.    I convinced myself that no one cared.  I wholeheartedly believed that no one would miss me or notice if I was gone.  

Praise God that I was healed from this sickness. Some people don't experience that healing.  

The reason I am so vocal about my faith, my beliefs, and my hope is because at one point I almost lost all of it.  My God is the reason I am here and alive.  

It is through platforms such as this blog that I share my hope, struggles and the things God teaches me.  I do this so I can feel heard.  I don't know everyone who has come across my blog or who it has impacted but I know in some way, shape, or form, God is being heard through these words.  

I will never again allow the Devil the opportunity to tell me no one cares, I don't make a difference, and no one would notice if I was gone.  I vow to make my moments count and use these words as a way to honor my God.  It doesn't come easily.  It takes daily effort but Hebrews 10:23 reminds us to "hold fast to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful" and that is all I need to know.

If there is anyone who reads this that is struggling and doesn't feel heard, reach out!  Reach out to me, to someone close to you...reach out to the Lord.  Please know that there is someone who will listen, who will hear you.  Don't ever let the Devil convince you that you are not worth being heard.  As it says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, this struggle is "common to man", you are not alone.  There are people who understand and have been there.  Let God provide you a way out.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Business Travel: He is for Me

Throughout my trip I received encouragement and kudos from all of my male colleagues for juggling being a new mom and being on a business trip.  The majority of these men have children and understand what a precious and tiring time we are in with a six month old.  

I had many conversations with these men about raising their kids, remembering the young stages of parenting and vaguely remembering the tired fog that sets over brand new parents.  Over and over again they kept encouraging me and giving tidbits of parenting advice and even allowed me to discuss the questions that arise from thinking about introducing solids into Camden's diet to sleep training and child-proofing our home.  Surprisingly, they had a lot of input!

My take away from this trip was refreshing.  People know that above all else, being a parent and trying your best to raise your kids is the most important role in your life.  In an industry where I'm mainly surrounded by men, it's nice to know that there are men that vocally recognize this and support it.  I'm not trying to make a stereotype, in fact, I'm thrilled that all of these guys were so vocal about parenting and their experiences!

God was gracious in surrounding me with colleagues who "get it" and love their roles as dads and totally encouraging to me as a new mom.  In doing this, the Lord reminded me over and over that He is for me!  

 I often get caught up in feeling defeated and as if everything is working against me.  I want to give 110% in every aspect of my life.  I want to be the best wife possible, I want to be the best mom, I want to do well at my job, I want to maintain positive close relationships with friends and family and I want to be the best friend I can be to those that mean the most to me.  

The past couple of days I realized that I don't need to BE the best, I just need to do my best.  I also need to recognize that sometimes being a better mom (ie staying home with my sick child) may come at the expense of my work attendance and being a better wife, may come at the expense of not spending every waking moment with my son.  At the end of the day, my priorities need to remain God, husband, family and all other things will follow after that.  

God took the time and worked through other people the last two days to remind me that He is for me in all aspects of my life - I just need to allow Him access and invite Him into every part. 

When I try to compartmentalize my life and put God in a box, it doesn't bode well for my overall wellbeing.  I'm glad that the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that I don't have to do this on my own.  He is always there.  He is always for me.

I challenge you to ask what areas of your life you haven't given God access to.  Are you feeling defeated?   If your answer is yes then I would recommend you take some time and ask God to stand for you.  Give Him access to your burdens and I promise He will lighten your load.  Don't strive to be the best, just strive to do your best and God will honor your heart.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Business Travel: A Getaway with God

I am currently sitting in seat 8A on my flight to Washington D.C.  This is not my first trip to D.C., in fact, I’ve traveled to D.C. once or twice a quarter for the past three years.  The difference in this trip is that it is my first business trip after having a baby.

I admit that after I gave Jake a hug and kiss and Camden a squeeze and a kiss good-bye I teared up walking out the door.  This time is different.  It tugs my heartstrings that I won’t be there the next couple of nights to tuck Camden in to bed or sleep with my husband by my side.

In an effort to stay positive, I am determined to not let the requirement of travel in my job ruin my perspective of everything.  Instead, I am trying to embrace this as an opportunity for God to teach me more about Him and me as an individual since I’ve had a baby. 

Before going back to work I came to terms with the fact that I am a working mom and in order for me to accomplish things like paying our mortgage or paying off student loans this season is necessary in my life.  Jake and I both agree on what our priorities are for the next few years financially and my job is a blessing and helps us reach those goals.  In turn I have to be away from my husband and my son because of work obligations. 

In the few hours since I left the house and got to the airport, God already revealed some blessings that come out of leaving my boys for a little while.  For example, it is an incredible blessing that I have full faith and confidence in my husband as a dad.  I know that while I am away, Camden couldn’t be in better care.  I was also able to take the time during my drive to the airport to listen to podcasts and hear sound advice from experts on how to pursue passion in my marriage and date my spouse.  My mind is now reeling with ideas on how to make Valentines Day special for Jake and usually Valentines Day is not a big thing for us.

I believe in my heart that although I am away on business and my attention will be on my work agenda, I can use this time to pursue one-on-one time with the Lord.  Being away from the things that command my attention most, gives me the chance to be present with the Lord and open my heart to His voice.  When God has my full attention and I listen to His voice, there is a positive effect on every aspect of my life.  Instead of looking at this as a work trip, I’m looking at is as a get-away with God.

Today, seat 8A is where God has placed me at this season in my life.  I know that I am supposed to work right now.  I trust that if our family is supposed to go a different direction or my career is supposed to change God will let me know that in His time.   I am going to look at my experiences both professionally and personally as opportunities to see God work in my life and allow Him to reveal things to me that will make me a better woman of God, better wife and better mom.  My eyes, ears and heart are open to being present in this season and embracing life as it is right now, business travel and all!

I look forward to the rest of my getaway with God and I’ll let you know how it goes!  I’m excited to see what God has in store for us these next couple of days!