Category Archives: Hope

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…

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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!

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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

His Plans Prevail…

It’s time for another blog hop post from Melissa Taylor’s online Bible study group.  We are reading the book Let. It. Go by Karen Ehman.

Through this Bible study, we are learning to let go of the control we grasp so tightly.  In the end, it is God who is control.  Learning to let Him do His job without trying to change it or make it better does not come easy.

For this week’s blog hop choice, I chose:

1. PrevailHave you ever made plans only to have God completely redirect them? Share how His plans blessed your life or the life of those around you. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” ~ Proverbs 19:21 NIV11

When I read this weeks choices, I knew exactly which one I had to pick! 

This just happens to be one of my favorite stories to tell so buckle your seats belts and get ready …

Our oldest son, Noah, will turn thirteen in May.  After having him, we waited about two years to try for baby #2.  We struggled for quiet some time to get pregnant.  That stirred up a world of emotions but when Noah was 4 years, 4 months old, we were blessed with our second baby boy, Caleb.

We knew we still wanted another baby and after having such a hard time getting pregnant with Caleb, Tony and I had already decided we would start trying right away for baby #3.  We tried for a year or so and then I saw my obgyn.  She put me on Progesterone and Clomid.  Still, no pregnancy.  I don’t think I was even ovulating – and if I was, it wasn’t regular.  After a couple years, my ob said she could recommend some fertility doctors for us to see if we wanted to go that route.

In my mind, as much as I thought I was suppose to have another baby, I just couldn’t see going to a fertility clinic.  After all, we had two healthy, sweet boys.  I thought I should just focus on them and push aside that ache in my heart.

I woke up one morning after having a dream.  Have you ever had one of those dreams that came with full on feelings?  I mean, you seriously woke up thinking and feeling every emotion that could have possibly been stirred up from the dream?  When I was younger, I had them often but they were horrible.  This one was different.  The emotions were wonderful.  They left me wanting more!

In the dream, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  I can still see her in this dream so vividly.  Every bit of emotion that comes with having a baby poured out in this dream.  She was precious.

Tony and I had already picked out a girls name years before, ya know, in case we did get pregnant.  We had decided on Sarah Grace.  This dreamed changed that.  The beautiful baby girl I loved instantly came with a name.  Her name was Olivia.

The dream later kind of morphed into her being about two years old.  I was walking down a grocery store isle with her in the shopping cart and our boys walking next to me.  I could see her cute little face, pigtails in her light brown hair.  She was perfect.  Her and the boys had aged appropriately.  They were perfect and life was so precious.

When I awoke from the dream, I told Tony all about it.  He said without skipping a beat, “Well, that settles it.  When we have our little girl, we’ll name her Olivia Grace.”

A couple years went by.  We had given up on trying, and I was pushing forward with my photography business.  I had rented a small space in downtown to house my studio.  I was working daily and trying to build my business, putting all my energy into it.  About six months after moving downtown, I was pregnant.  What a blessing and answered prayer.

Right away, the dream came to mind and I just knew it would be a girl.  It had to be.  After all, she already had a name.  There was just no option in my mind that this baby would be anything other than a girl.  This was one of those moments when I knew I needed to lean on God.  I could not make it 20 weeks before finding out for sure.  I just had to know.  I remember being about five weeks pregnant and already going crazy over this.  I laid across our bed and cried out to God for some kind of sign, anything, that would confirm this little girl.  I felt a peace come over me, walked into the living room and the tv just happened to be on A Baby Story.  When I glanced over at it, the mom had just had her baby and they flashed the details on the screen.  It was a girl and her name was … Olivia Grace!  I knew right at that moment that God was answering my prayer.  That was his sign for me.

Throughout the pregnancy I was horribly sick.  I had six different ultrasounds due to her measuring big and having low fluid levels.  Each time, they confirmed for me that she was indeed still a girl :)

On November 9th, exactly one week after my 32nd birthday, we welcome Olivia Grace into the world.  She was perfect, absolutely perfect.  She was my answered prayer, my gift from God.  She was my saving Grace.  While I love my boys with all my heart, there is just something different about the relationship I have with Olivia.  I can’t even begin to express what she has meant to me and to everyone she comes in contact with.  She has never met a stranger.  She lights up the room.  She has such a wonderful personality and is nothing less than an absolute joy.

Caleb and Olivia are 5 years and 2 months apart.  It was never a part of our plan to have children spaced so far apart.  Now, our kids are almost 13, 8 and 3.  I always imagined having them closer but God had other plans.  In the end, this has been the best thing for our family.  I had the opportunity to spend quality time with each of them before the next one came along.  Financially, things will be easier when they start to drive or head off to college.

Sure, I went through moments of doubt and years of anger and frustration.  I thought I knew what was best for us.  I had plans, but God has proven over and over, His plans for my life are perfect.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” ~ Proverbs 19:21 NIV11

© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com