'Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.' 1 Timothy 6:12
This past Saturday I visited our local flea market and found a bargain. I have been looking for a jogging stroller for months now but refused to pay more than $50 bucks because let’s face it: I don’t jog. The stroller at the flea market was squeaky clean and when I asked if she would take $25 for it, she said yes. I was joyful. Exuberant. Ecstatic. I am a bargain shopper and could NOT wait to show my hubby my find.
Fast forward to yesterday on a very humid mid-morning walk with my oversized 17 mos. old, overexcited 2 year old retriever and my daughter on her overly tall bike. It was hotter than a well digger but I cared not because I was pushing my new $350+ stroller that I STOLE from the flea market. La tee da. And then the front wheel fell off mid-trek and I sort of panicked. I had a looooong way to go and was clearly one less wheel. So to make a long story short we made it home after much sweating and danging it and switching who pushed the stroller (think chariot style, think Arabian Desert hot, think miles to go).
I always post cute pics of my kids or my precious hubs or our house. I rarely post real life pics which are paper towels strung out all over the floor, guacamole smeared all over my brand new super cute dish towel, stepping in dog poo when I mow the lawn, temper tantrums, disagreements, unpaid bills, sharp tongues, long days, etc., etc. Isn’t this life? Broken wheels and dog poo? It is so easy to get caught up in all of life’s tough little challenges. It is so easy to lose your temper, complain, moan, grumble, stoop low, speak ill, and lash out. It is so easy to forget how important our roles as wives, parents, sisters, friends are and how much we matter in the grand scheme of things. We are not called to leave an easy life. We are called to live a purposeful life….an eternal life to which GOD HAS CALLED YOU.
God tells us to fight the good fight for the true faith. Maybe that fight does not have to be a battle of massive proportions. Maybe you are not required to stand behind a podium and address Congress or join the Peace Corps or serve on a board. Maybe you do not even have to speak outside of your family unit. Maybe fighting your very own good fight right here in your very own small town in your very own home is enough. You can make a difference. In your community, in your neighborhood, in your house. YOU can make all the difference. Enough. Enough. Enough.
The ebb and flow of this thing called life is challenging at best. Hard moments, obstacles, disappointments and lessons learned but how you accept those challenges makes all the difference. It is a choice: how busy you are, how cram packed your schedule is, how stressed your life has become, how you start each day. We feel such an obligation to strap more burden on our shoulders. More meetings, more events, more clubs, more groups, more Facebook posts, more possessions, MORE, MORE, MORE. One of my biggest focuses right now is to hone in, simplify, say no, let go, be still, be quiet, and be present. Be here now. What I give back to my family is more important than any single thing I do.
Everyone’s good fight is different. Everyone has a different purpose to serve. Whatever that may be, whether you are a brave soldier armed and ready for the battle of impact and change or a quiet mom at home battling toddlers, FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT. Start each day with a kind heart and choose to fight for what is good and true and most importantly for faith in God’s plan. Let God work within you. Pick your stroller wheel up off the ground and get that baby home for a cold drink. Mother Teresa said, “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action.”
As you go out today and strap on your shining armor, remember how important you are, remember how much those mama/wife/partner/friend hugs matter and that God sees you putting love into every.single.action and recognizes that your stroller, your stroller sister, is a chariot.
The biggest obstacle I have with blogging and more importantly actually sharing the blog is lack of confidence. I typically write something and send it out to those closest to me for a little reassurance (as if they would tell me differently), re-read it 78 times and then publish it on a web site that has about NONE traffic. Sometimes I will feel brave enough to share with our Pastor or post on FB but most of the time, my little tidbits never leave the privacy of my own laptop.
Little ole me.…..Who am I to believe my message is worth sharing? Who am I to suggest I know anything about Jesus Christ? Who am I to insinuate I am all goodie goodie with the Man Upstairs? I am a sinner after all. Sinner with a capital S. I have been through a divorce. I am an extreme introvert=I screen phone calls and I use emails instead of words and all kinds of other introverted things. I am addicted to Amazon Prime=I sigh with relief when the gargantuan box on my front porch is only a TRASH CAN (who can remember what they ordered two days ago?). My past is filled with all kinds of crazy, sad, happy, mad history (enough to fill a book) and I Sin with a capital S every.single.day. So who is this Sinner to be acting as if she has some special know-it-all relationship with JC or some greater understanding of the good book? Who is this Sinner to blast scripture all over the world wide web as if she has a clue?
‘But he knoweth the way that I take; When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.’-Job 23:10
This Sinner is workin’ on the gold. I am not there yet but I am better today than I was yesterday and I am TRYING so very hard. Aren’t we all? Everyone of us, Sinners with capital S’s, constantly trying to be better, to grow, to transform, to open our hearts, to do good, to dive into scripture or quit an old habit, to love on a neighbor or forgive a transgression.?? The Sinner in all of us is what creates that gold, what shapes us, what purifies us, what reminds us, what causes us to dig deeper. Gold. Gold. Gold.
So Sinners go with me here. I am just like you. I am trying every day, just like you, to COME FORTH. To leave the sin behind and come forth as the person God wants me to be. I don’t know anything more, probably less in fact, about Jesus Christ than any of the rest of you but I do believe the trials and tribulations I have been through have shaped my core and their lessons speak through me when I write. Divorces, addictions, judgements, harsh words, anger, racism, biased, and so much more are the scars that remind us of being TRIED and of being healed. My prayer every single day is for God to use me as servant to further his kingdom. And I know in the depths of my heart, that means using these things I am ashamed of as a way to speak to other people who can relate. I know that at some point if I lay it all out there on the line I will have the capacity to reach someone and only if it is just one, it is enough. And YOU know that those dark and scary sins=knowledge=understanding=transformation. So I encourage you to take your Sin and EMERGE. Come forth with those things that have brought you down and use them to rise above, to shine a light, to forge a path. Touch someone with your story. Let someone in your life. ANSWER the dang phone.
An update on the little girl swimming for another town: in her last meet she won EVERY event she was in except for one and she placed second in it. Her goal is to qualify for D2 this year a feat we never thought possible honestly. In the fly, she is one second away from reaching that goal. One second. After her meet last week, she asked if she could add an evening swim at the YMCA to her daily morning practice to prepare for the meet this week. I cry as I type this. Every day of my life I ache for that girl having to be split between two families. Every single day I feel guilt and remorse and a twinge of sadness for her. And every single day she reminds me that God has a plan for her that is beyond my wildest dreams. That God already knows the amazing things in store for her. She is my gold.
Last week our community laid a beloved young man to rest and we were utterly shaken. On the following Saturday, I attended the funeral of a precious young friend who left us too soon. We were shaken to the core. On Sunday morning, we awoke to the news of the mass shooting at a club in Orlando. We were beyond shaken.
If you are like me, chaos in this world gives me great unrest. When despair circles all around me I ask God, am I next? I become anxious wondering if my family could possibly be on the tragedy list. Who is protected? Who is exempt? Who does NOT suffer? As I read my devotional this morning, this verse presented itself and I found peace realizing that the only true place of safety is in God´s arms.
´I stand silently before the Lord, waiting for him to rescue me. For salvation comes from him alone. Yes he alone is my Rock, my rescuer, defense and fortress. Why then should I be tense with fear when troubles come?´ Psalm 62:1-2
Aren´t we all shaken? Aren´t we all waiting for rescue? For salvation? We are all cracked and scathed and healing and searching and hurting and hoping. We are all united in that way. We are all united in imperfection, all scared human beings starving for the same things: love, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, understanding.....all searching for a Rock and a Fortress. And isn´t that what Jesus is? Isn´t he the rescuer of all souls in despair? Isn´t he the greatest love we have ever known?
My friends, when you feel afraid, when you feel shaken and rest will not find you, love like Jesus. Love unconditionally. Love with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul. And give that love openly to all. Give that love away freely to those that are not like you. White, black, clean, high, straight, gay, drunk, sober, obese, skinny, tall, short. Not like you. Because I believe that is what Jesus would do. He would wrap those different than him up in so much love, their pain would diminish and their tears would be no more. Their hearts would transform and their lives would be touched and their differences would become unrecognizable.
A little girl in our town whose parents are divorced is swimming with her dad´s town´s swim team this summer. It has been mentioned, lovingly, that she is wearing the wrong color of swim suit. That little girl, my little girl, could be swimming for a team in Montreal and love them just the same. She sees no color. She sees no judgement or biased nor draws any lines. She just wants to swim and love every one of her teammates and her opponents. Love everyone that is the same and everyone that is different. She teaches me every day. Just swimming mom, she says. JUST SWIM.
In the wake of these tragedies and all things dark and unknown I ask you to look deep into your heart and remember that we are in this world together, on the same team, looking for the same things, trying to live in hope and love and happiness. Weary of the sadness and fear and heartache. And ultimately just trying to find a place that is safe and friendly. Dancing at a night club or having coffee with a friend. Acceptance. Confidence. Compassion.
Jesus said, ´Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.´-Mark 6:31
Tonight before you go to bed or when you wake in the morning, lie still in your quiet place and put your weapons down. Whether it is a sword of fear or an arrow of hate, put it down and find rest. Stand silently before the Lord and let the love that only Jesus can give pour into your heart. Put all of your barriers down, forget all of the colors and let go of all the differences and JUST SWIM.
Man oh man, I look back at these pics and I can barely believe how far we have come or how bat crazy we were. I can be a bit of a sugar coater but for the sake of this blog and all things honest, I will tell the truth: some of the hardest days of my life. I don't want to be a big ole brat complainer but have I mentioned I am a creature of habit? A homebody? Living with Poppy and B for these several weeks was hard on everyone. HAP didn't sleep one solid night. He got sick which got everyone else sick. The hubs and I were under total stress and our best guy, Marcelo? Bless his ever loving heart. Who gripes about a remodel, no? I am just trying to drive the point home that we hadn't a clue what we were getting ourselves into. DO NOT get me wrong. I am so thankful for this remodel, I can't even tell you....But the destruction, the living out of our element, the cost, the never ending list of new things that needed to be done just about sent me off a cliff.
"You peel an onion, there's lots of layers."-Doc Hollywood.
Demo day was totally awesome. It took the guys like five seconds to knock everything out and I was so shocked I was gleeful. I honestly believed we would be right on track for our three week timeframe and all back in our safe place in time for HAP's first birthday in February. I was mistaken. Every single thing in that house needed to be replaced. Wiring, plumbing, AC/Heater ducting and unit, insualtion, etc., etc., etc. We also decided to raise the ceilings while we were at it, another timely decision that I would not trade. There was just SO much in need of updating underneath those walls. Things that if we didn't address, we would regret, and most likely have to deal with in less than 5 years time. So we said yes and moved forward and kept thinking normalcy was around the corner. We were mistaken. I am by nature an incredibly naive person and I truly had no concept of what this rehab was going to take to finish. The time, the money, the stress on my parents and us, the trips to Home Depot and the lack of sleep.
So as you contemplate your own remodel please remember this:
1)YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOUR REMODEL WILL TAKE until it is too late to go back to where you were. Once those walls are knocked out, that's it. You best put your head down and move forward because commencement has begun and there ain't no turning back.
2) No matter how much you plan (this remodel has been in the works for years and a solid year of planning for it before we laid a hammer in the walls) the rule of TIMES TRES totally applies. Three times the cost, three times the amount of days spent and three times the headache of your initial expectations.
3) You are not Chip and Joanna Gaines. Regardless of how smart you are or money savvy you are or creative you are, your remodel is not an hour long episode of Fixer Upper. Gutting a home is HARD. Gutting a home means starting over from scratch and there is no rad camera crew to make you look super hot with your long braid and Waco t-shirt.
4) All of the above could have been 1,000 times harder if we had worked with a different crew. Our guy had NO other major projects going. He was there with his guys over 12 hours a day most days and what he accomplished in 6 mos. could have taken 6 years. I have heard nightmare stories about no shows and crap work and a million other things. We were 1,000 times blessed with our guy and his talent and impeccable work is beyond what I can type here.
Dear Home Depot,
Your carts with steering wheels are DA BOMB. My little contractor stayed happy in the cart for at least 5 minutes longer because of those bodacious steering wheels. However, your facilities should include a play yard or better yet, a daycare. There are daycares at the gym. Why not at your house, Home Depot? When mommies are driving 180 miles roundtrip to shop at your store on a daily basis with a non-sleeping one year old, there should be a) a daycare and b)fine adult beverages in every one of those fridgerators. You could even offer a laundromat, just sayin.
Love you Home Depot. Your return policy is OH.MY.STARS.GREAT.
Soooooooooooooooooo after all that whining and poor pitiful me story, would I do it again? You bet your ask.
Stay tuned for THE AFTERS! Watch out HGTV we did some super cute and awesome stuff!
Luke 4:38-"Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them."
Ten days ago my very active, very curious son put his tiny hand in a much too accessible cup of coffee and pulled it down from the Keurig. I was close (not close enough) and watched it all happen in slo mo. He immediately began screaming and his onesie jammies were soaked in hot coffee. Frantic, I stripped them off and put him in a cold tub. His hand was red but I did not think it was serious. Nothing seemed to console him and after five to ten minutes, his thigh began to blister and I could clearly see the situation was more grave than I thought. I loaded him in the car and my mom and I took him to the ER. By this point, I knew we had a long road ahead.
Henry suffered second degree burns on his tiny fingers and that day was the worst of my life. He was in indescribable pain and there was nothing I could do for him. I feared long term damage as his fingers were blistered beyond any burn I have ever seen. The doctors suggested seeing someone at the burn unit in Lubbock so I began to pray. I wanted a miracle, a miracle like Simon’s. I bowed and prayed in front of his crib while he slept. I prayed morning, noon and night for total and complete healing so we would not have to make the trip to Lubbock. I begged and prayed for his wounds to disappear. I asked others to pray. I bargained with God and kept thinking of all the miracles Jesus performed. And I prayed some more. So on Friday, when his bandages were removed and his hand was still burned and the burn unit was still eminent I cried. I questioned. I balked. I grumbled and I cried again. If Jesus could cure Simon’s mother-in-law from a fever, if he could heal the paralytic, if he could walk on water, if he could multiply the fish, then WHY couldn’t my Henry be healed? I also felt guilty for feeling all of this resentment for not getting MY miracle.
Throughout these hard few days, Henry never once seemed bothered by his burn. He never indicated any sort of pain and even removed his bandages on several occasions. His only issue seemed to be disruptive sleep which is something we are VERY used to. Overall he was his happy, active, smiley self. I continued to pray.
Nine days later at the burn unit in Lubbock his mitt was removed and the nurse practitioner spoke the words "his wounds are healed". His hand is still visibly burned but the bandages have come off and he will suffer no scarring, no immobility and no long term damage. His fingers bend and again he seems to feel zero pain.
You see, I have learned yet another lesson regarding patience. I have bee made aware once more that miracles are not always immediate. They are not always huge productions or even apparent to the naked eye. Perhaps a miracle was being performed every second of the past 10 days. Miracles of protection from pain, miracles of rejuvenation, miracles of safety, miracles of growth and miracles of understanding. Sometimes I just ask too much of my God. Sometimes I am just incredibly impatient for what I believe is the best plan. Sometimes I feel I deserve certain allowances for my faith or should be punished for the lack of. But God is always there, steady and strong and true. He always has our best, everlasting, interest at heart.
Perhaps you are waiting for a miracle of your own or your miracle seems to be in the 'denied' column on God’s list. Maybe you just can’t see a clear path set out before you or you have lost someone you love and you feel God wasn’t listening to your pleas for a miracle. Be patient. Establish your heart. Believe. I believe that no matter the outcome, even if Henry’s hand was never going to be used again, that God has a plan. I believe your miracles will be revealed to you at the time He knows is best even if it is when you are reunited with Jesus. I believe the biggest lesson I need to learn is patience. Don’t we always want instant gratification? Don't we always NEED an immediate answer. We want what we want RIGHT NOW. Right now, God. I am so guilty of not being still, of not listening, of not trusting, of not establishing my heart. How long had Simon been seeking a miracle for his mother-in-law?
Since Henry has been making the tractor sound long before he knew what a tractor was (I have been told by my father-in-law that farming is bred in him), I love this verse.
James 5:7-8-"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." Speaking of, if you see Happy Henry in the days ahead give him a hug, ask for a high five, and even shake his little miralce hand.