Category Archives: Hope

A Raging River…

>>>>> Yes, this post is incredibly long…what do you expect when it’s been so long since I posted. Don’t click away. Bear with me, read it until the end. Please. <<<<<

2017 Raging River

The past few days have been quite overwhelming. Change is inevitable yet so often, difficult to accept. Loss is painful, excruciating. This sums it up…

Life.

Let’s say you’re on a journey. We each have a different path. Some have flowers and butterflies early on and some have briars and thorns. Maybe some have briars and thorns the whole way. Let’s say the briars and thorns are the hurt, pain, and trauma that stings, cuts, and scrapes like the briars. Then you make it to a river. It’s fierce. It’s scary. You know to get to the path on the other side, free from the briars and thorns, you’ve got to cross the raging waters. And let’s say therapy is the stones laid out before you. You just have to take the step. You make it to the first one, catch your balance, plan out your next step and prepare to move forward. Some stones may be slippery. You may twist your ankle. It’s not an easy crossing but you press on. You step to the next stone, getting closer and closer to the other side.

The let’s say grief gets in the way. Grief over loss, losing the stones. It stops you in your tracks. There aren’t anymore stones laid out for you to step across. All you see is raging waters. You feel the sting of cold water splashing against your scraped and scratched up legs. You feel lost and alone. You wonder if there is hope…but as you glance back at the stones you’ve crossed, you’re reminded there is hope. You found it a few stones back.

Where do you go from there?

Your journey halts. You’re stuck on that stone for who knows how long while the water crashes around you. It’s overwhelming. It’s painful. It’s scary. You beg for more stones. You cry out for stones from the deepest part of your heart. But the stones are gone. How do you get across. How do you reach the other side without drowning?

You know it will happen…you just don’t know how. You know it won’t be with those stones and that is where grief has settled in. Maybe you’ll fall a few times. Maybe you’ll get soaked but you’ve made it far enough to know the river won’t take you.

Where is your path leading you? Are you headed through flowers and butterflies or are you tangled in the briars? Are you safe on a stone or treading water just to breathe? Or have you crossed the river and reached the other side, with soft green grass, the shade and protection of a giant weeping willow tree, a cool, gentle breeze, and a place to rest, where you can look back and see just how far you’ve come?

I wrote that sometime last night. Words usually come easy for me but the ability to accurately explain my feelings, well, not so much. This seemed clear enough to create a visual of what I’ve been feeling.

Why all this? I do want to offer an explanation. I owe that to myself.

Abandonment.
Abuse.
The insecurity of home.
The lack of support, love, and nurturing.
A childhood lost.
A girl growing in a world alone, a world that has mostly been cruel.

If your own mother and father don’t love you, why would anyone else?

That is a question I’ve asked over and over again. A parent’s role in a child’s life involves love, nurturing, protection, direction, guidance, support, and so much more. Those are things that can’t be replaced by another person. It’s an ugly fact.

I’ve bounced from house to house, never really feeling home.

Abuse.
Foster care.
Grandparents.
Homeless.

I’ve been in and out of therapy since around age 11. At 15, I wanted nothing to do with the therapist the courts ordered me to see. I was stone cold hard. My walls were so high, no one could touch me. It was great. And it was lonely.

At 19, after losing the one person I knew without a doubt loved me, my Papa, a part of me died with him. He was the only person that had given me a reason to live all those years. He was the one person who taught me what real love looked like, how to be kind and respectful, and how to love others unconditionally.

At that point, life became careless. I was a firefighter. Back then, female firefighters were rare. I loved that. I loved being the tough girl. I loved the idea that I could step into a burning house, with flames all around me and knowing they couldn’t touch me. I embraced the idea that I would gladly give my life in order to save someone else. In fact, I wanted to.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

And today, twenty years later, I can say there have been many times that I ached to find home. Not a home this world can offer, but an eternal home where there is no more pain and suffering.

Admittedly, I’ve attempted to take my own life. Several times. And yet, here I am. I look around and see raging waters. But I also see the path continues. I’ve learned that somehow, I’ll find a way.

So, where I am today is in the midst of grief. They say being able to feel is a part of healing. Well, I must have done a lot of healing in the past few years because I’m definitely feeling this. It’s heavy. It feels like I’m choking. It feels like there are rocks in my lungs. It feels like I’m covered by a blanket waiting to be smothered. It’s incredible pain. I’ve never known pain like this because I was never able to feel like this.

Over the past four years, I have been seeing a therapist. She’s the last of a long list of attempts to break through my walls…and she did. No one else had been able to do that. Not because they couldn’t but because I couldn’t let them. I couldn’t trust. I could talk about my past and all the wrongs but I couldn’t feel. No one could knock down the walls that kept me safe from the pain of the world around me.

Kara did. I don’t know how she did. She says I did the work.

Therapy is an odd thing. My opinion of it has changed frequently and probably will continue to change. In many ways, it’s amazing. You have the opportunity to share anything without judgment. Without anger. Without being punished. Now, don’t get me wrong…that doesn’t come easy. It takes a long time to learn that it’s a relationship where it’s safe enough to trust. A LONG TIME! (for me anyway)

But when you find that person, the one who can really see you, the one who lets you know it’s okay to breathe, the one that reminds you, you’re not alone, the one that bears ALL your secrets, the one that has loved you in spite of all you’ve been, done, and are…when you find that one, it means the world to you.

Kara isn’t perfect. She’s not some magical creature with a wand that wipes away all the wrong of the world. Nope, she’s pretty normal. She’s just a regular human being who struggles like the rest of us but we clicked. She taught me to trust. That was something I’d never been able to do.

She taught me…

to trust – that taking the chance can be worth it.
to believe – to believe I am strong, worthy, lovable, wanted.
to seek hope – that even in the darkest moments, hope is there.
to love – to love myself, to see my worth, to know myself.
to dream – to imagine where I would be when I made it to the other side.
to embrace – to seek truth and embrace it.
to grow – that I didn’t have to be afraid of who I would become.
to change – to bring truth in to erase all the lies I’d believed.
to feel – that it would hurt like hell but it would be so worth it.

And that’s where I am. I am feeling. I am grieving. When my Papa died, back in 1997, I cried off and on for three days and didn’t speak to anyone. I felt dead inside. That was about all I could feel. I wanted to die with him. I was numb. I was lost. I was alone. I wasn’t able to grieve because I had no idea how to really feel anything other than empty.

Grief sucks! Plain and simple – it absolutely hurts like hell. Losing someone who has meant the world to you, by death or by the end of a relationship is incredibly hard.

Two days ago, Kara told me she’s leaving her position in a private counseling setting and heading into the school system. It’s what is best for her and her family. It wasn’t an easy choice, but one she had to make, none the less. I care greatly for her and want the best for her and her family…I just wish I could be a part of her best.

I was/am devastated. DEVASTATED.

This woman, the one who knocked down my walls, helped me learn to breathe, taught me to find hope, and to press on, to fight death and find life…she’s leaving me. And all I can think of is I knew this would happen. Everyone leaves.

A father who never cared enough to even meet his daughter.
A mother who chose the man who sexually abused me for years, rather than her own daughter.
Teachers who cared but couldn’t realistically move on to the next grade with you, every year.
Lawyers, advocates, foster parents, friends, houses, family, etc.
A grandma, who much like myself, bounced between emotions, never really being able to express unconditional love, but rather love based solely on conditions, and fits of rage and anger.
A Papa who meant the world to a little girl who had no one else, who had the hands of strength, the heart full of love and compassion, a presence of the only thing safe in the world.

Whether by death or by walking away, the people that have mattered most, who have cared most, who were supposed to love, protect, encourage, support, etc. – they all leave.

And that’s where I’m at.
Kara is leaving.

I know it’s not the same. I know she truly cared. She’s dedicated four years of her own life and time to helping me. She’s put in countless hours of watching me stumble over words, back track on progress, question everything she’s said, argue or debate her truths vs. my truths, and lately, she’s watched me cry.

For years, pretty much all my life, crying wasn’t an option. Crying wasn’t safe. Crying made things worse. Crying meant something was wrong. Crying meant you weren’t strong enough.

But Kara taught me it was okay to cry.
She taught me I was safe with her and it was safe to cry with her.

She never took advantage of my vulnerability and what I viewed as a weakness. She viewed it as strength. Progress, she would say.

I can’t tell you the exact day when I first cried with Kara. I can tell you it wasn’t that long ago. It’s only been within maybe the last year that I really felt like I was stepping across the stones that created a path to somewhere better. And she was walking with me. Holding my hand. Offering hugs, when I was able to ask.

You may wonder, why is it a loss? It’s not like she died and is gone forever.

But it is a loss. That’s where the ugly part of therapy comes in…

Kara always said the therapist/client relationship is like no other. It’s complicated. There are ethics and boundaries she has to adhere to for my own good, but they are incredibly difficult to accept and understand. You’d think just the fact you’ve spent so much time with one another, that would be enough, but it’s not. Ethics, boundaries and the design of the therapeutic relationship don’t leave a door open for anything when the relationship ends. It most definitely is a loss. It’s a death.

And that’s what I am grieving.

I am grieving the loss of the person who knows me better than anyone else in this world.
The person who has taught me what safe love looks like, what love really means.
Who has given up much of her own life in order to save mine.
The person I pray for and want the best for, yet ache to be a part of her best.
Like with my Papa, I am grieving the person who showed me I mattered, that I was loved, that I was wanted.

I have an amazing husband. He’s caring, patient (very, very patient), gentle, and understanding. For the most part, I’ve shut him out of my therapy life and my healing journey, mostly because I’m stubborn, and partly as some lame attempt to protect him from my own heavy baggage. It was safest for me to view the time I had with Kara, in her office, as the one place, the one person I could actually let see the real me. I treasured that time. I cherished it. And I learned over time that I didn’t have to carry it all with me when I wasn’t there. She was safe enough that I could leave it all with her and actually live life in the in between. There’s so much comfort in that.

I have three beautiful, smart, amazing kids. I adore them. They are great kids just like my husband is great. They are my biggest fans, my biggest source of support, and they are honest enough to be brutal when I wear something wacky!

As much as I love them, it’s not the same. Theirs is a relationship where they depend on me. They receive unconditional love and support from me and in return, they love me back. They look to me for comfort, protection, guidance, and so on. They need me. They come to me for hugs or to fix everything.

That’s what I’m missing. That’s what I’ve lost. There is no one on this earth that can fill that role. There is no one who has known me forever, who calls me theirs, who has done and would do anything for me, who has wiped away tears, picked me up when I fell, held my hand through the hard times, and taught me what a mother’s love is supposed to look like. Kara did that for me.

And honestly, I am so truly blessed. My home…my family…I have found in my church. It took me years to get to that point to but I believe all that time, God was preparing me, teaching me, growing me. And He’s given, and He’s taken away. I’d like to put in a direct request that He stop taking away but it seems when He takes away, He helps me find many other things/people to keep me moving forward.

I have some amazing people in my life. There are women who have walked this journey with me, who have been my allies, my support, my stones along side Kara. They’ve prayed for me. They’ve kept me accountable (sheesh!). They’ve guided me and taught me. And painfully, when I look at them, I see what wonderful mother’s they are to their children, how they pray constantly for them, how they love them with such a deep, genuine love. And I see how they have that with their own mothers, how they have those people that have always known them, always cared, and always called them theirs. I realize there is no perfect family. I realize it’s a really messed up world and every family has its issues. Still, it’s hard to be loved by these amazing ladies and know I will still never matter that much…so much that I would be first in their lives, that I would be right in line with their other children, that they have watched grow from the tiniest fingers and toes, picked up from falls, held when they were sick, ached with every ounce of their body when their children were hurting. That’s what I grieve. Even Kara couldn’t offer that.

But here I am.

The river might be raging but I can still see the other side. I’m determined to someday sit beneath that giant weeping willow tree, feel the warm sun bearing down on my face, the gentleness of the soft green grass below me, and the freedom to breathe.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

But for a moment, let me grieve. This is healing, right?

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Word of the Year…

2016_Faith

Word of the year…

Perhaps the word of the year has become the new hype instead of resolutions we often fail at. I hear a lot of people these days choosing a word and focusing on that word throughout the year. Focus and Intentional seem to be what I’ve heard the most lately.

I’d never really chosen a word of the year…until last year. Even then, I didn’t choose the word; it chose me.

Hope.

I’m a part of a beautiful group of ladies along with a dear friend, Suzie Eller. In this group, we were asked to share a word. Honestly, at the time I didn’t even put much thought to it. I just knew the word I was supposed to use was hope. I shared a little story about what hope meant to me at the time and this picture…

2015_April (3)

I wouldn’t know at that point just how much the word hope would come to mean. By February of last year, I had lost all hope…Not hope in a God that loved me or would save me, but in a life on this earth filled with peace. I was ready to be with God. I had been for a while. On the night of February 20th, after an evening of laughs with our closest friends, I attempted to take my own life (check posts from February and March 2015 to go back and read about that time). When my attempt failed, admittedly, I was quite disappointed.

Rather than losing hope, I was suddenly forced to find hope. I was still here. I was alive. I didn’t really feel alive, but by definition, I was alive. That wasn’t a part of my plan but that’s where I was.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

I had to find something to help me get through each day. This required effort. It hasn’t been easy by any means.

Hope.

It began with just having enough hope to open my eyes in the morning, eventually leading to hoping I could wake up and get out of bed. Slowly other things came…

Hoping I could look at my kids again.
Hoping I could put together a rational thought.
Hoping I could make it through an hour without wanting to die.
Hoping I could make it through a day, a week.

Little by little over the next year, those thoughts of hope have grown. I won’t say my thoughts have completely changed from the plan to end my life. I still struggle to find hope and peace with life here on this earth but I think one thing I learned was I was searching for something that can’t be found.

I will never be the person I was before that night. It didn’t change my thoughts but it did change me.

It’s strange how the darkest, scariest, loneliest, and most painful place can somehow become the greatest. My memories from that time are some of the worst and best of my life. I was searching for peace that can only come through knowing to Whom and where I belong. I now know the answer to both of those. Knowing that is peace.

Peace.

I still struggle to find hope and peace with life here on this earth but I think one thing I learned was I was searching for something that can’t be found.  While in this life, I won’t find peace from suffering, I have found the peace I was meant to find. This journey has not been without reward.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

With that said, peace was added to my word list. By the end of 2015, one more word had been added.

Joy.

Through the darkness of my depression and somehow stumbling back into His light, I learned what true joy is.

True joy.

It’s not happiness.

Happiness is eating a Big Mac without worrying that it will add pounds or a stomach ache.
Happiness is pouring water over your head on a hot summer day.
Happiness is having a few hours to myself when the kids are in school.

Happiness is based on circumstances and things.

Joy goes much deeper into the core of who we are. You have to search for it (again requiring an active part from us) and when you find it, there’s no denying it. You know you’ve found it. Joy is possible in both the best of circumstances and the worst.

As odd as it may sound, I found joy through my suicide attempt and because I have joy, true joy, I can share the good and the bad with you. I learned so much in the past year and in a lifetime of hurt and pain and honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it has taught me what hope means, how to have joy through anything life throws at me, and that peace is attainable when you search for the right kind.

So, that sums up last year. Hope, peace, and joy will always have a special place in my heart. I will embrace them and the joy I found through the lowest point of my life. And, I look forward to learning new things about them in the days, months, and years to come.

I can’t wait to see what words 2016 brings. For now, I already have two words.

Faith.

Faith is the word that I’ve chosen, but really, like hope, I think it actually chose me. I plan to focus a lot of faith, growing in faith, trusting the faithfulness of God and those He has placed by my side, and sharing the gift of faith. I’m sure there will be many posts on faith. Along with faith, is grace, extending grace because we all need it. Many stood by me last year in my darkest moment and showed me how to truly love someone. Part of that love was by extending grace. I want to offer the same to others.

Right now…

My faith is stronger than ever before.
My faith is in Him.

Lessons learned last year…

Find hope.
When all hope seems lost, His love still remains.
Joy is possible…in all circumstances.
Peace is found in knowing to Whom and where you belong.

And…

“Faith isn’t faith until Jesus is all you are holding on to!”

I don’t know where I heard the above quote but it has stuck with me. On the night of February 20th, 2015, nothing else mattered. Not my husband. Not my children. Not my friends. Nothing. I simply wanted to go and be with God. And that next night, as I sat alone in my bare, cold hospital room, striped of everything shy of the air in my lungs, He was all I needed and He was there.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Have you considered choosing a word for 2016? If you have, what’s your word? I’d love to hear from you all on your thoughts and stories!

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Happy New Year!

2014_NewYear

Another year has come and gone.

How quickly the days seem to pass.

Years ago, time seemed to stand still and now, there simply isn’t enough time to squeeze in all the things I want to see and do.

As the new year begins, I want to start you off with some verses of new beginnings.  These are words I will cling to this year!

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Isaiah 43:19  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Colossians 3:9-10  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Ezekiel 11:19-20  And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 36:25-27  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Isaiah 65:17  See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

There’s peace in new beginnings, a glimmer of hope, a second chance.  I look forward to the plans God has in store for my life in 2014.  I pray peace, joy and hope fill your new year!

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There is Hope…

Hope

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

I am learning, day by day, that my life does have a purpose.  For so much of my life, I felt invisible and worthless.  I thought I was simply taking up space.  I was a burden. 

I have never felt usable unless it meant caving to what everyone else wanted, bending over backwards to help everyone else, giving in to people even when I didn’t want to or have to.  It never had a good meaning.  It was just something else that meant I was broken.

I am learning that even though I may not know a lot of fancy words, I don’t have a real education past high school, God can still use me and he chooses to use me.  The fact that he chooses me, it’s a hard one to accept.  I still find myself questioning what worth I have or why he would want to use me and my brokenness but then I just know that’s exactly why – because of where I have been, what I have been through, lived through, because of my brokenness.

Even though I don’t have a fancy degree, I have something better.  I have a life, one that God has rescued me from and one that he can use!  I am usable!  In my brokenness, my sin, my shortcomings, I am usable. 

When I began this journey a couple years ago, I felt God was leading me to teach, speak and write.

While I could write just fine, I didn’t write well.  As I said before, I don’t know fancy words.  Often times, I see a word and have to look it up.  In high school, I was so numb, so flooded with memories and trauma that I couldn’t focus on school.  I don’t think I learned much past noun and verb.  There’s simply nothing eloquent (ooo, big word – I hope I used it right, lol) about my writing.

As far as teaching and speaking, well, writing only involves me which is why I think I was able to do it.  When teaching and speaking came into the picture, I wanted to laugh at God.  I thought, “He is crazy if he thinks I am qualified to teach or speak.  What a joke!” 

Did I doubt God?  Yep!

And guess what he did?  He laughed back and said, “You are crazy if you think I can’t work through you!

Woah!  He sure did!

So I started teaching – I wrote about that experience here.

And next on the list is speaking.  Being in front of people is very much out of my comfort zone.  I have spent all my life being invisible or trying to be invisible.  I don’t like attention on me.  It feels awkward.  It’s uncomfortable.  It makes me feel guilty like I’m taking light off someone else.  There’s all kinds of emotions that come along with the idea.

So, God still has some work to do on me.  A lot of work!  But…

He is so clearly present and working in my life and I am so thankful that he is giving me these stories to encourage me to keep going.  He has put the right people in my path.

I feel that my ministry is teaching, writing and speaking to other women, to share that even in our brokenness, he can and chooses to use us, if we let him, that they are not alone, that it’s okay to not be okay and that God can take even the most broken and bring them to a place filled with hope, love and peace.  Having leaders who encourage my ministry has been such a blessing.  Seeing now that he has clearly given me a family that I can call on in my own times of need, that can extend arms of safety and love, who can try to understand me, who want to get to know me – the real me and not some fake face, is such a blessing!

All of this is more confirmation that I am on the right path.  I am not confident in myself or my own abilities but I am confident in God.  I am confident that I am doing what he wants me to do.

So far anyone who has ever struggled with a broken home, the absence of a parent, sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, adoption, foster care, the court system, suicidal thoughts, depression, cutting, alcohol, smoking, promiscuity, rape, death and loss, marriage, finances, infertility, children, fear, shame, guilt, worry, jealousy, worth, trust, insecurity and more, DON’T GIVE UP…THERE IS HOPE!

I don’t have a pretty degree that qualifies me by any state or government on any of these issues, but I have a heart that has been impacted greatly by every one of these things and so much more.  There’s no doubt in my mind that God will use my story to shine his light onto someone else.  That’s worth more than any piece of paper :)

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Discerning Direction…

Discernment

Several months ago, what I thought was never an option became a reality.  I checked into the idea of going back to school and went through all the steps.  I looked at many different options, local community college, online college, etc.  After tossing between options, I had finally decided to do online school.  It was settled.  I finalized everything and registered for classes but something wasn’t right.

As excited as I was about the idea of going back to school, the closer it got to all the fall deadlines, the more a storm was brewing inside.  I just couldn’t find peace about it all.

I had already been leery and hesitant from the beginning but because doors kept opening flawlessly as I delved further into this whole process, I figured it was meant to be.  After all, I was going back to school to do exactly what I want to do and to do it in a way that would give God all the glory.  It had to be what He wanted me to do, right?

Well, without peace, I began doubting and questioning everything.

This morning, I called and dropped the classes I had registered for and declined any financial aid.  I am officially not going back to school.

I didn’t think I would feel sad about it but I am, kind of.

The thing is, now I have peace.  I had to figure out what I really want to do and where God can use me and how to put it all together.  What I realized was I was going to have to spend 6 years in school for a Bachelors Degree followed by a Masters Degree – all to do exactly what I’m doing now.  I was going to pay out a lot of money, put my family in debt and create financial burdens all while my kids are still small or nearing their own college days and I was going to do it when what I really want to do, I can do without going through all of that.

I want to help.

Plain and simple, I want to help.

I want to be an ear for women. 
I want to be a shoulder to cry on. 
I want to be a testimony to others who are struggling to overcome. 
I want to be proof that we can really get through anything, maybe not alone and maybe not how we imagine, but we can get through it. 
I want to be a voice, for those who feel they don’t have one. 
I want to put words to paper that tell stories through my eyes, God’s stories.

I want to write, teach and speak.

I can do all of those without stirring up so much turmoil in my own heart and without putting such a burden on my family.  I won’t have pretty little letters that follow my name but I will have a lifetime of experience and a heart that bleeds love, empathy and understanding.  And, I have God on my side.

While I still feel a little sad, I am at peace and the exciting thing is, I can take a few classes here and there to help me with learning but without the pressure of finances or degree completion.  I can simply focus on the places where I feel God can truly use me and not worry with making an A to pass a class.

When I considered going back to school, I didn’t think of the things I would be giving up or putting on hold in order to dedicate time to school.  When it finally hit me, all the things I was giving up were exactly the things I wanted to do … teaching during Wednesday night classes at church, helping with our Women’s Ministry, lending an ear and encouraging support to others, writing, blogging, reading – oh how I have developed a new love for reading!

It seems kind of silly now, looking at how much time I have put into the past few months of preparing to go back to school and suddenly deciding not to go – it’s all been worth it.  I learned a lot through the process.  Every day that I can learn something else about this thing we call life is just one more day filled with blessings.  Just because I won’t officially be going back to school doesn’t mean I won’t be learning.  As long as there is more to learn, there is more life to live!

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Why I love Jesus…

I am not one to push my beliefs on others.  I find all religions interesting and enjoy learning the differences, but I am and will always be a Christian, a Jesus lover, a child of God.

People have asked, “Why do you believe?  Why do you love Jesus?”

The answer should be simple, “Because he loves me.”

But that doesn’t really explain things, does it?

There are many reasons the world turns away from religion, from believing in God.  Unfortunately, many of those reasons have to do with us Christians, the very people who are suppose to be bringing others to Christ.

I’ve seen or heard all of these…

“Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites.”
“Christians are too judgemental.”
“I’m not good enough to fit in there (referring to church).”

“They (Christians) won’t accept me.”
“They (Christians) won’t approve of my choices.”

I do attend church and I do love my church, however, I agree that many of these things do happen and it’s unfortunate.  I also admit that I have probably done some of the very things that turn people away.  I know I have judged others when I shouldn’t have.  I have been hypocritical.  I have been that Christian.

I have also been on the other end of that.  I have felt unaccepted.  I have felt condemned.  I have been judged.  I have feared I would be criticized for my opinions and beliefs.  I have experienced that in the church.

While I love my church and my church family, they are not the reason I love Jesus.

I love Jesus because…

At 11 years old, I needed courage.  I stared out of my window, beyond the stars and prayed for God to give me courage to be able to tell about the abuse I was going through.  The next day, I had that courage.  I have to believe God answered my prayer.

Most of my life, I felt unworthy.  I still fight that feeling most days.  In fact, I am unworthy, but God’s word says I am redeemed.  The Bible says Jesus paid for my sin.  For that, I am grateful and if Jesus didn’t die for my sins, then I have no reason for hope.  I have to believe there is a reason for hope.

As a teenager, I tried to commit suicide.  Part of me wanted to die and yet I am here.  Part of me wanted to live.  In reality, I didn’t really want to die, I wanted to be free from the pain I felt.  I am free.  I have been blessed with peace I never imagined I could feel, for no explainable reason.  I have to believe a greater power gave me that peace. 

In my twenties, faced with many life changes including marriage, job changes, a new house, a new baby, I was overwhelmed with emotions.  Floods of memories haunted me and I sunk into a horrible depression.  I believed my husband and son would be better off without me.  I was damaged goods.  I was too broken to fix.  At 35, I sit here thankful that God did not give up on me like I had given up on me.  Through the darkness, he shined his light.  People came into my life and shared a little glimpse of Jesus.  They loved me when I couldn’t love myself.  They had hope when I had none.  They prayed for me even when I wanted nothing to do with prayer.  I have to believe there is a reason I am alive and I AM ALIVE!

I love Jesus because…

Through him, I have found courage.

In him, I have been redeemed.  

With him, I have hope and peace.

By his grace, I have eternal life.

He loves me enough to give me courage, redemption, hope, peace and eternal life. 

Yes, the answer is simple.  

I love him because He loves me. 

© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com