HAPPY MONDAY!!!

Personally, Mondays are not my crazy days. As a chair of a non profit for kiddos with cancer, a youth leader, wife and mother of 4, and participant in several ministries including Espresso Ministry … COFFEE PLEASE!!! … Saturdays are my craziest days! The great part about life though, is no matter what your busy days are, and no matter what life throws at us, God can use everything to grow us! This is such a fun video by Francesca Battistelli but the words ring right down to my life which I am sure you can relate to on some level if not entirely.

So hey, no matter what day is YOUR Monday…

HAVE A GREAT ONE!
Angie :)

Video

If I could only find myself…

It’s not everyday that I go back in history to the child I was once.  To be honest, I wasn’t a child long enough to really go back there.  My days were forced.  I always had this crazy feeling that I was alone but not alone, if that makes any sense at all.  I remember being a small child and climbing our fence to the top board, closing my eyes and pretending that the wind was simply my transporter to another land.  I would feel tears stinging my cheeks as I begged into the wind, just for someone to love me.  I didn’t realize this was not normal back then.  I never knew what it was like to be the center of all the attention.  I recall being teased by my siblings that I was adopted and I completely believed it, because I knew I did not belong anywhere that I knew.

Going back a little farther…  As my parents separated, my 5-year-old mentality was just that. Terror gripped me with every second of the last day I was a child.  There was a fight.  My mom and dad were yelling at each other and my dad told my mom, she could not take his kids.  He was wrong.  I remember my mom picking me up and rushing out the door, and feeling like I was dying.  What was happening?  Was she really going to take us away?  Every second my mom ran away, my heart was begging her to run back.  My last time I saw my parents together and married, my mom was full of anger and determined to see her plan through.  My dad was sitting on the couch, a coward in my eyes.  Why was he not reaching for me?  Why was he not trying to keep me?  Why did nobody care that they were scaring me?

As we neared the car, I remember looking at the very fence that would soon be my secret getaway and it seeming so tall.  Following it down to another fence that led to my grandmother’s house.  I remember panic setting in as I realized we were leaving my grandma as well! (Technically, she was my great-aunt but we called her Grandma) She was my security.  She was never afraid to tell my parents when they needed to get a grip.  She taught me arithmetic and read me short stories that she took time to write, just to share with me. She told me never to cry unless I planned on doing something about it. She was tough and witty and always looked clean and pressed even when she was troubled.  She took care of people, even when they were dying and there would be no return.  She was bold, and intelligent and oh, how I admired her. I loved her, even when she made me hold lava soap on my tongue for sassing her. I asked my mom if I could just go to Grandma’s house. She didn’t speak at all. I received my answer when my mom set me down and guided me into the car. The answer was, “no”.

Heading down our long driveway, I watched out the window through watery eyes, just waiting for my mom to turn the car around.  Instead, she made a left turn toward town.  On the right, as the car accelerated, I saw the home of my Kindergarten teacher.  She was my comforter, her and her husband.  They taught me to churn butter and reminded me that Jesus would one day be my best friend.  My parents never talked of Jesus, so it was doubtful to me.  I listened all the same though, because everything she ever promised me, always came true.  She was honest, and loving and she believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.  I loved to sit on their couch and run my hands through the pelt that was from Mr. Herbst’s first hunting trip after he and Mrs. Herbst wed. They asked me to come along anytime they did chores and welcomed my presence for any task they might be doing.  It was where I first learned to ride a horse. I remember the smell of Mr. Herbst when he would come in from working outside and how he would always smile at me, even if his arthritic fingers were bleeding from his work.  He was strong and kind and always willing to teach me new things.  I quickly saw my chance and asked my mom if I could please go to Mrs. Herbst’s house.  Staring forward, completely unaware of my voice, I was pretty sure she had already forgotten I was in the car.  Reflections of trees and haystacks strobe past my window, hope lost.

That’s all I remember from that day.  As a matter of fact, that is the last memory I have until a barbecue quite a while later where we met my mom’s future second husband.

It was a warm and sunny day and the air was filled with hickory scents of smoked meats and Summer.  My mom, who seemed unusually happy, was just visiting up a storm.  I think we may have lived in this home but I can’t remember.  I just remember trees and fence and house.  Somewhat of a secluded little prison of sorts.  When introduced to this man, he invited me to sit and talk a spell.  He asked me questions about assorted things, like how old I was, etc.  Just as I started to relax a little, he pulled me close and whispered into my ear. “You wanna know a secret?” He asked. “I don’t like children.” He said it very casually and just as I thought he may be joking, he slid me off his lap and stood to join the adults.  Within a year, he and my mother married.  It turned out, that he proved to be quite the liar as he obviously did like children, just in a terrible way.  He and my mom moved back into the home that my grandfather (technically, great-uncle) had built.  I was so glad to be near my grandma again and even more happy that we would be living there forever so I would never have to leave there again!  At least, that was what I thought.

But we did leave there, as my mother and grandmother could not see eye to eye about the new addition to our family.  She never ceased to voice how little she liked our new ‘dad’.  It was exactly the chance he needed, being out from under the scrutiny of our grandma and before long, our step dad showed his true colors.  Slowly, life began to drain from our family.  We moved to yet another home and my brother who could not stand to be home, moved out of our home and into our father’s home.  My mom was gone more and more storing up funds for a future in the Idaho mountains where we would become self-sufficient and have an amazing life! I remember very little from these days, other than abuse, riding my blue Schwinn bicycle with the glittery banana seat up and down the road, and the lady that lived at the end of our street that allowed us to sit inside with a cup of hot cocoa until the bus arrived.  I think she knew. That I was broken, I mean.  She always seemed to hug me just a little bit longer.  It was numbing.  The more people tried to love me without actually helping me, seemed to only make things so much worse.  I spent most of my time in class, daydreaming and slowly slipping away from the surroundings I had no desire to be connected to.

When my dad actually came to pick us up on weekends, he was so focused on his own life, that rarely did he reach into ours.  We saw him as the victim in the situation and never wanted to hurt his feelings.  Regardless, he hadn’t saved us up until this point.  Why would he save us now?  There was no point in burdening him with the specifics of what was happening in our lives.  My dad had moved back into the home our grandfather had built and when he left for work, or whatever he was doing, I would sneak out to the fence, climb to the top board and cry.  I just wanted someone who said they loved me, to save me.  I wanted someone to see my pain but I didn’t know how to tell them.  I talked to the animals and they didn’t mind.  They didn’t cry, make excuses or even try to explain things.  They surely did not tell me they loved me only to hug me and leave me right where I was.  They always listened.

At school, they did a special class about ‘Good touching vs. Bad touching’ and I learned that I had been experiencing bad touching for quite some time.  It was easy to recognize and just like they told me, I said, “No!” and told a safe adult so they could protect me.  My mom was in the shower and my step dad had taken advantage of her being indisposed in the room literally next to my bedroom.  I told him “No!” and after he smacked me so hard that my ear rang, he left the house.  I was so encouraged by his response to leave me alone, it was easy to tell my mom.  I told her exactly what the school had told me to.  “He has been touching me in a bad way!”  I burst into tears, so relieved it was over.  I saw shock in her eyes which gave way to fear, which led to anger.  She pulled on her robe and went outside to confront him.  I ran into my room to watch out the window but when I couldn’t see them anymore, I started to pack my things.  I had a life-size, stuffed, mountain lion my brother had given me, that I cherished.  He was my confidante and my best friend in the whole world.  I promised to come back for him.  I wrapped my arms around his neck and sobbed at the thought of leaving him.

That Summer, we all moved to Idaho together.  The abuse stopped but hope did not return me until one day, I fell asleep in a hammock, quite a distance from our new home which was still in the process of being built.  I had blisters from peeling logs without gloves on, even though my mom had told me to wear them.  I had the first book from the Narnia series on my chest and I awoke from what sounded like a tree falling right by my head.  I sat up expecting something terrible to be happening around me.  Instead, a swirl of leaves blew all around me lying in that hammock and I could feel goosebumps rising on my arms as my hair blew around my face.  There was a hill that climbed up right behind where I lay.  It was covered in beautiful birch trees, releasing gorgeous leaves in the fall that reminded me of fire.  Those same leaves were swirling around me and up the hill in such an odd way that I thought I was dreaming and had fallen into a Narnian stupor.  The blisters on my fingers however, convinced me otherwise.  My hands stung like mad and I became startled.  I began looking all around for the cause of the crashing sound, but found nothing.  I looked up the hill only to see where the new leaves had created a soft pathway.  Trying to get out of the hammock, I was not quite the master of this yet, I fell onto my hands and tore one of the blisters open.  Man, that hurt!

I was distracted again though.  What was that sound?  I hiked up the hill to notice a strip of trees that were blowing steadily while the others just twitched their leaves in the breeze.  I walked farther into a little meadow that I had never even considered entering before.  The trees circled it but where the creek went through, there was this really strong breeze  that was able to pass through.  A mound nearby was catching my eye and soon the crashing sound no longer even mattered.  When I neared the top of the small hill, I felt the breeze even stronger.  It was soft and high and wonderful.  I closed my eyes and all I could hear was the sound of peace in my ears.  You know, that sound you get when you put earplugs in and everything just seems so far away.  I don’t even know how long I sat there.  All I know is that when I heard a whistle (our call out to each other if out of earshot) I opened my eyes and realized for the first time I had been crying.  My cheeks were wet and cold and I felt like something familiar was happening.

We moved back to Oregon that following year, just our mom and us girls.  We left many things behind, including my hill with the breeze, which I had grown so fond of.  It was okay though, because we would come back, I remember thinking.  We didn’t.  We did, however, move in with our aunt and uncle, the sister of the step dad we had just left behind and were reminded every day of the life we would never be able to entirely forget.  My aunt told me once when her daughter expressed concerns of how her husband looked at me, that I needed to not encourage him by sitting too close.  It didn’t change anything.

When I was 9, we rented a home from a family friend.  I remember feeling so excited because the homeowner was so nice to us and always seemed to be genuinely interested in us. I secretly had always hoped he would be our dad, but it didn’t work that way.  My mom was a hard worker and at that time, focused mostly on trying to get back on her feet.  We rarely saw her and even more rarely communicated with her about anything other than chores and trouble.  It was not exactly the life we were expecting, but who knows what life will bring, right?  The great part about this house, while it being in town was a great downfall, there was a school right down the road, where you could climb these high metal stairs and sit up on the platform where the wind whisked through from the positioning of the buildings, creating somewhat of a tunnel.  I would just sit there with my eyes closed and let the wind blow me to another place.  A place where I was free but wanted.  Every chance we got to go to our dad’s, I would run out to the fence and just breathe.

This is a part of my childhood I avoid revisiting often and to be honest, life didn’t get much better in many areas for a really long time.  However, the years since this time in my life are a completely different story! Have you ever heard the song by Miranda Lambert, ‘The house that built me’?  Here you go!

Well, that is such a picture into how I used to approach my pain.  If I could just go back, somehow and see something I missed in my memories that would allow me to heal.  Well, let me tell you a sad story.  The house that built me, wasn’t a house at all.  It was several houses, most of which I can no longer visit.  All of them have both good and terrifying memories.  Additionally, those houses didn’t build me, they are just the locations that these things happened.  I have never truly felt at home.  Not once in my whole life have I ever felt that the house I lived in was the house I was going to remain in for the rest of my life.  Maybe it is partially because I grew up moving and even after I was on my own, I kept on moving.  I don’t know….

What I do know is that I have always found a way to make wherever I am, where I am supposed to be in that moment… Wait, let me rephrase that… What I do know is that a way to make wherever I am, where I am supposed to be, has always been given to me.  It’s not a pain-free life.  As a matter of fact, this is just the bold print in the first chapter of the book of my life!  Every day, I am faced with the passing of my life.  I don’t like to call it my past as much as passing, because these memories are still very alive and clear in my mind.  They affect my choices, my preferences, my parenting, my relationships, and my walk with Christ.  All of these things matter, but what REALLY matters is the fact that no matter where I was and no matter what was happening to me, at every turn, I was given a place to climb up closer to my Lord and feel the wind blow all my burdens away!

Obviously, God is everywhere, and does not depend on hills, or stairs or even tall wooden fences to be close to us.  Many times I have been on the floor, on my knees, lower than low and felt Him heal my heart, but there is just something about getting outside of your routine view of things that truly make you see, you are not alone and the One who loves you CREATED THE WIND! He washes all your tears away. EVERY time you cry them, He is there, just waiting for you to surrender them.

My entire life has been surrounded by signs that God was there.  From being a 14-year-old 120 lb girl, hitch hiking across the state and making it not only alive but unblemished to being a mom of a child with cancer and from waking up after a night of partying in another state at the age of 15 to being the wife of a meth addict.  I see Gods hands in every single one of those moments in my life… but I didn’t always see them when I was going through them…

Many times, I was pulling hair, sobbing, vomiting, shaking with fear, anxious and flat-out depressed.  I was worried about what I could not control and refused to hand over what I knew I was not even meant to.  I was angry and sometimes mean.  Self destructive and venomous toward those who had hurt me.  I refused to be weakened by life and was DAMN PROUD OF IT!!! I was proud… proud of a life that continuously tried to destroy me and I was single-handedly going to kick the living shit out of it.  It does not take a genius to see what this led to.  Yep… I kept being broken.  I kept falling under attack.  I kept trying to deal with everything that had ever happened to me on my own because I KNEW THE ANSWERS!  Then why in the hell was I so miserable?  Let me tell you why…

I refused to see God’s hand because I couldn’t fathom that He was there and that He loved me and that He hugged me and STILL LEFT ME THERE!  I couldn’t face this because He is God! Isn’t He supposed to be the One that saves me?  COME ON!!! Doesn’t the bible say Jesus loves me?  I had heard it!  It wasn’t news to me, I just didn’t BELIEVE IT!!!  I was pissed and scared and confused.  I had no more trust to give!

Then, Jesus came to life in me.  I had nothing left.  My husband and I were separated and God nailed me every chance He could get with the scripture I had in my head but had refused to accept into my heart.  God challenged me to no longer attempt to use Him like a genie in a bottle but as the KING and RULER of ALL THAT IS HOLY!  He breathed life into me and left me no choice but to acknowledge Him.  He said write me a story, and I threw my paper away.  He said give me your burdens and I held on as tight as I could.  He said let me love you and I yelled to Him, “I HATE YOU!”  …   Then, He went silent.  No longer did I receive comfort coming to Him because the only time I came to Him was when I wanted to see things done… MY WAY.  He stopped reminding me of His words and I found no comfort in anything I sought out.  I had no joy in anything I did.  I had separated myself from God, and He did not punish me.  His silence spoke volumes of a parent giving their child time to figure out that their parent is right.  I recognized it as I was a mother of four.  I saw it and for the very first time in my life, I actually saw God as MY FATHER.  He disciplined me, not with anger but with truth.  That without Him, I am TRULY alone.  I never really knew alone until this time in my life, nor had I ever known what LOVE really looked like…

I still live in this fallen world, and my life has never been easy.  But I am never alone and I never will be… We serve a Living God and His real name is Love.

~For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11~

~He who does not love, does not know God, for God is Love.  1 John 4:8 ~

~The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.
2 Samuel 22:3 ~

~Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Matthew 11:28~

I pray that in your life, as well as mine, there will always be a place to climb and have your burdens blown away from you, until the next time, you will need to climb again.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail)

Lying on the frigid ocean shore, blinded from pain, I can hear the sea creeping closer. As I lay there, naked, helpless, cold and shivering, doubt seeps into the deepest parts of my soul and panic sets in. I can feel the waves licking at my body and my mind enters once again into that place of darkness. I am about to drown. I am going to die. I have nothing left to fight. The icy waters surround my head, swirling all around my hair and rushing into my ears. The waves retreat once again and I feel a numbness that is all too familiar to my heart. My heart… my heart. The waves rush all around my body, lifting it from the sand that once supported my weight. I can feel fragments of the sea, running through my fingers and violently calling me to the sea. “Your heart is broken… you are broken.” It whispers to me. “You are alone… alone.”

Suddenly a feeling of awakening comes over me. Alone? No, I can’t be alone because I am being called into darkness… darkness… which means there must be light… light. Air fills my lungs as the waves leave me once again on the shore. In the gray skies that once blinded me, I see a tiny sliver of light… My heart beats violently as my eyes take in the light, realization setting in. I can hear them, the waves, they are coming back for me. “Oh my God!”, escapes my lungs just as the waters roll fiercely over my body, and tries to consume me once and for all! “No!” My heart screams as my eyes peer at the light through the very liquid that intends to drown me. The light moves closer to me. I can see it shimmering through the waves that pound my helpless body. Feeling comes into everything it touches. Finally, my entire body is covered in water and in light. I feel my body begin to come to life, kicking, swimming, fighting! I am almost to the top. I can see the light shining above me and can feel the darkness pulling to keep me down. My fingers exit the waters first, my breath begging for release. As my face rises above the waters, only one name lays on my tongue and lips. Only One could shine such a Light… “Jesus!” I cry out! “Jesus!”

… Lying on the frigid ocean shore, I hear the waves of the sea in the distance. I hear my breath entering and exiting my lungs. I am alive… Thank God, I am alive! Rising to my feet, I look upon the ocean waters. The ocean seems so far away now. Fierce, powerful, and dangerous, but never as great as the light that controls it’s tides.

Peace and love to all who have been consumed and have seen The Light just in time. Light and Love to those of you who are still drowning. Jesus is the Name. Jesus.

Video

Point Taken???

Every morning I wake up, fling my covers back and immediately start going through what my day will entail, how long I have to get started on the first task, and what  my motives are for doing them.  I fail every single morning at doing exactly what I want to be doing.  It’s not a negative, but a positive. Positive in the fact that I am over it.  I have been trying to read a quick read book for a friend to do a review on, and I can’t even find time to read it.  The terrible part is that it’s an amazing story and all I want to do is sit down and read it right now! Time does not allow. I have 3 devotions started and unfinished, one of which I was supposed to be entering in to a contest this winter, and for some reason, it is just one thing after another. Time just won’t allow for it!  My house looks like a tornado from the events and holidays and holiday events that I have been planning and as I prepare to head out the door this morning, I gaze toward the beautiful disaster and whisper, “I will come back to you.”

I have been in this overwhelmed state before, but with twice as much on my plate.  3 years ago, this would have seemed like a slow day as I am actually able to sit here and drink this cup of coffee and write this morning.  Isn’t it funny how we push ourselves to the limit.  Nothing I do in my busy days are bad. Actually, I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the things I am.  I work full-time for volunteer efforts with some breaks in between.  From August through December, my days are pretty jam-packed with loving people, great causes and witnessing first hand human kindness. The rest of the year, I take a day to just be home and do nothing and there isn’t anything that really interferes with that.

So, this is my plan.  I am going to schedule my volunteer work as I would a regular work schedule but also, I am scheduling time off as an appointment.  At first thought, I was thinking that this would not work for me because I allow myself to be interrupted.  By allowing myself to be interrupted, I mean…

A little stressed

PLEASE NOTE… OTHER THAN THE THREE DOTS AFTER THE WORD ‘MEAN’ IN THE START OF A PARAGRAPH ABOVE, THIS IS WORD FOR WORD, AN UNEDITED COPY OF MY LAST ATTEMPTED POST.  ACTUALLY, I DIDN’T EVEN COPY AND PASTE IT.  I AM LITERALLY JUST TYPING THIS BELOW THE UNFINISHED POST… POINT TAKEN???

BUT WAIT!!! Before sighing and saying to yourself, “Good grief! What a dork!”, I would like you to read that last paragraph once more… you know, just for fun. Do you notice that I started it with the words, “So, this is my plan.”? MY plan… Haha! Yes, famous last words right? Right.  Yeah, well, let me tell you that my plan sucks.  My plan is terrible.  Why on earth do I think that my plan is what I am needing? Did you notice that I stated in the paragraph right before that, that I have been here before?  Did you notice how haughty I sounded when I said basically that this is nothing compared to what it used to be?  Did you know that what I was referring to was a time in my life that I was so overwhelmed that it almost killed me?  Yeah, literally, my body was fighting back physically at what I refused to change mentally.

I thought that I needed to be the answer to everything.  ‘If I didn’t do it, who would?’ Right?  Wrong… if I didn’t do it and the reason was because I needed less on my plate, and it was something that needed to be done.  Guess what?  Someone else WOULD do it!  How do I know? Because when I was in the hospital, you know, trying to stay alive, stuff got done… without me! Hello! So, it didn’t get done the way I would have done it, some people were pissed at the last-minute inconvenience for them, and I didn’t get to be involved with a couple really cool events… but I was not dead, and that was pretty cool all by itself.  My kids and husband were pretty happy about that. :)

I found out real quick that I needed to eliminate some things in my life if I wanted to keep mine.  God was quite a wonderful advocate for me as the scripture and my friends who listened to scripture kept bringing me words of wisdom on this subject.  I was a terrible listener at first but then, it all started to sink in and as I allowed myself to be guided, I was able to see the absolute mess I had created for myself and my family.  It was humbling to say the least, eye-opening to be considerate and a slam in the face to be really honest.  I wasn’t listening to God then and I realized when I read the attempted post above that I am on a dangerous path of justification and repetition.  Normally, before, I would have had to have had an accountability partner bring this to light in me, but the fact I caught it myself says I am growing.  Thank You, Jesus!imagesCAU2KDHA

I bought a planner to keep track of my time and just a few months ago, I was penciling in this and penciling in that, but when I looked at it the other day, I realized I was already filling in my days before I was anywhere near filling them with life things.  I saw it and felt anxiety creeping in.  I have erased half of those happenings and contacted the appropriate people to let it be known I will not be able to commit but will join in if time allows.  I felt like I had been freed seeing all those ‘blank’ slots. It was a reminder that I will always have to be conscious of the fact that I have a tendency to overbook myself.  Even if I completely master this with thought and deliberate intent, I will need to constantly keep myself in check. Reading the above post, confirmed that for me.  I am not great at time management.  I may be one day… but I am not right now and probably won’t be in the immediate future.  I’m working on it.  What I do know though, is that there is no job more important to me, than being a mom and if I am overbooked with other things, I am stealing that time from my family who loves me and needs me.

I want to share this because I am positive that I am not the only person out there that is terrible with time management.  I would like to share what is working and what isn’t working so far.  I also would like to hold myself accountable on a larger scale in hopes of growing in this area a little quicker.  Lastly, I would really just like to let someone out there who struggles with this same thing know this… You are not alone.  You are not going to be alone. You are not expected to be alone.  If you allow your life to spin out of control however, you very possibly could lose the respect of your friends and family, you could cause unnecessary fears and anxieties in your children, no matter their age… and this was the one I learned almost too late… you could lose your life.  You can die.  Stress is not okay and it is handed to us from so many sources that it’s okay to keep away the stress you can control.  It is okay to say NO, even if you are a ‘Yes Man or Yes Mam’.  If you say yes to everything, it doesn’t allow those who say no too often to get involved.  So… let me give you two lists to help.  If there are any ideas that you think I should add to either list, please feel free to share. I am still learning in this thing we call life too. :)

What I Have Done Wrong
(I am sure there is much more that I am unaware of but these stand out the most for me right now.  Some of these I have conquered but want to list them anyway.)

frustrated woman

1. Ignoring loved ones, warnings.
2. Ignoring comments like, “Wow, how do you manage all these things?” or “Wow, you are always running!”  It’s not that being busy is bad sometimes… it just shouldn’t be what defines you.
3. Agreeing to do something even when it doesn’t feel entirely right.  (If you have flags, pay attention to them.  Pray about it, write down the pros and cons, and wait to answer)
4. Yes should never be your first answer.  I still struggle with this one right now.  Instead, say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” or “I would love to, so let me see if it is something that will not overwhelm my schedule.”  (If the person asking gets pissed… the answer is no. No. NO! You can say no more tactfully, but this is a HUGE flag! It usually means the person asking is overwhelmed as well, and you are probably going to be dedicating way more hours than expected. If this is not something you have been dying to get involved in, wait it out.)
5. Being late… By allowing myself to justify being late, I have justified being overwhelmed.  Focusing on time allows me to gauge whether or not I am out of control.  I am late a lot = Not in control of my time.
6. Allowing others to rule over  my time.  Sometimes I will tell someone I don’t have time to do something and they will return with things like, “Oh, it will only take a minute.” or “Please? I have a time frame I need to stick to.”  (Why are we always more worried about their timeframe than our own?)
7. Being afraid to say no.  When it becomes common knowledge that you are willing to do anything, it becomes expected and feelings can get hurt when you say no… THEY WILL GET OVER IT… IF THEY DON’T, THANK GOD FOR A BULLET DODGED.
8. Expecting others to pick up your half assed efforts due to your overwhelming schedule.  You want to lose friends or welcome bad ones? Do this to people for a while.  It will rock you right into the nuthouse. Either own it or pass it on.  This doesn’t mean you can’t delegate tasks or work as a team. This means dropping your commitment onto other people expecting them to pick up your pieces because of too many other commitments.
9. Judging others who don’t have the ‘I can do it.’ attitude like you.  This quickly allows you to get a big head on all of your amazing capabilities… even though you are late, and exhausted, and never home with your family.  Point taken???
10. Overlapping events… leave a little early from here only to be a little late to there.  You are neglecting both commitments and yes, they actually do care.
11. Mistaking these two words… Good & God… Just because it is good to do, doesn’t mean it is where God wants you.
12. Forgetting to pray before and after committing to do something.  God WILL move you.  Some commitments are actually steps to different ones.  Consistently pray about your involvements and be honest when you evaluate your involvement with them.  Are you being challenged or being let go?
13. Thinking everything needs to be done perfectly.  So many times, I have totally blew my time frame just by thinking I am the only one capable for the job.  Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb… DUMB!!!
14. Delegating only when you can supervise… Read 13 again.
15. Expecting family to just deal with your absence… Trust me when I say this.  It is wrong of you to ask it and they will never accept it without resentment.
16. Ignoring the need to evaluate and hold yourself accountable for keeping your time balanced.

What do I mean by Good or God?

Relieved woman

Good = Good cause, good people, good in general. Not BAD to be involved with, but not necessarily where you want or need to be in your life adventure. You like it and see good happening but you are not on fire for it.  You see others way more dedicated or excited about it than you.
God = Where God intends for you to be.  This should line up with the make up of your character that God designed you for. Spiritual gifts would be evident here. God would be glorified through you here. You are excited to be here and really feel God’s presence in the work done through you.  You feel true joy here.

What I Have Done Right
(These are just things I have noticed to have huge returns in sanity.  They are not all things I am good at, but are tried and true.)

October 2010 plus Faith's Sept. appt 161

1. Pray… pray about everything.  Just keeping the communication open allows you to accept answered prayers whether they are in your ‘favor’ or not.
2. Let your YES be YES and your NO be NO… being compassionate is one thing, but if you say yes, knowing later you can just say no, you will be a flake and let’s face it… everyone is annoyed by a flake.  Untrustworthy and not dependable… who wants that title? No one.
3. Start over.  Write down all of your commitments on a piece of paper. (Be prepared, this is a difficult exercise) Beside them, write the answers to these questions. What are the minimum hours in a month that are spent on this? Who placed me here… God or Good? Does this affect my family time? (This answer should always be yes unless you do it together) Do I enjoy this? Does it bring me closer to Christ? If I were to die tomorrow, would this continue without me? Who am I doing this for?
4. Number it!  After doing #3, number them in order of importance in YOUR EYES. Number them, starting with #1 being the most important and so on. This is just to give you more perspective so you can really make an educated decision.
5. Ask your friends and family.  What do they love that you do? What do they see as concerning?  (This sucks, by the way. I hate this part.  It’s the part I dread the most because I don’t share the same hearts as all of them, but I have to ask them because they love me. They see what I don’t.) This doesn’t mean you have to bury yourself deeper or the opposite, drop this cause, but it does mean that you need to be aware of how you are affecting those around you in both of these areas.
6.  Do a self check.  One month… stop doing everything. Focus solely on your growth and rejuvenation. Communicate you are taking a month off from everything to everyone. Explain it is temporary but that you need this time to see where your heart is. Ask for prayer during this time and offer thanks for their understanding.  Be honest about being overwhelmed and needing to do a self-check.  If anyone refuses to respect this or just flat-out doesn’t get it, you probably have your answer. (When I did this, I was amazed at the support I received and developed amazing accountability partners who keep their eyes on me. It was such a blessing!)
7. Focus on other’s gifts.  This is the most productive and the most beautiful thing I have learned.  Look around you.  Find people who have amazing gifts and ask them if they would like to get involved.  Through this, I have passed on things that weren’t as close to my heart to people who not only were able to take on what I was doing but made it beautiful.  Seeing others take on something you had to let go of, is such a great opportunity and you will totally see the difference between God and Good through their work.  It’s AMAZING!!!
8. Protect family time.  If you are a spouse and/or parent then you already have a number 1 on your priority list.  These are God-given relationships that will suffer if you do not put them first.  A stable home is so much more important than a stable event.  There is no job more important than holding fast the strength of your family. Get them involved or make time for them.  It’s the only way. When your kids miss you, you need to listen.  If they begin to show signs of not caring whether or not you are there, you have been gone too much. Recover this relationship immediately.
9.  Don’t schedule every Saturday. Leave some time open to be spontaneous!  You will be so grateful for this move.  I have kept this one and just love it.  If you have a hard time with this, ‘schedule’ a family day on at least one of your Saturday’s to protect it.  (If you just cringed, you are overwhelmed. Seek change immediately)
10. Adjust… Adjust… Adjust!!!  As you become more honest about your situation and more real about fixing it, you will be able to eliminate more and more, allowing yourself even more ‘free’ time.  Every time you feel it is still too much, adjust it down again.  If it still feels like too much, adjust it again.  Adjust it until you are excited again to go serve!
11. Let God be your Guide… If He is not getting the glory, you may be in the wrong place. ;)

OMG babyListen, I am not an expert on time management, as I stated above, but I am an expert of the lack of!  I know how awkward it can feel to have tons of energy and interests and be surrounded by people who are totally capable to hone in on one or two specific things and never struggle with making down time for themselves.  I love people, kids, animals, traveling and adventures.  I love serving, planning and advocating.  There are so many things I want to do and places I want to see.  I just love life. Because I refused to take control of it, I almost lost it.

Most people who struggle with this are just a time management fix away from joy.  God made us up to be amazing beings.  He intended for us to use our minds and our hearts. He intended for us to LIVE.  We are His light bulbs and He is our Power.  Sometimes we have to change our structure to work properly and if we have too much on top of us, our light is hidden.  I’m all fired up now!  Ready to rumble!!! It’s time for me to re-adjust too. :)

Thanks for reading!
Angie ;0)

Aside

Victorious Surrender

    I overslept! Oh crap, I overslept because of the rain! I could hear the horses hooves as they ran past my window, back and forth, communicating in their own way that we were late for breakfast and they were starving! I sat up in bed and just took in the sweet sound of raindrops and horses hooves beating the ground at the same time. Two of my favorite sounds and it was like music to my ears. 

   I went to wake the girls, just to find them nestled in their blankets, eyes open and mouths curved into satisfied smiles as they listened to the very sounds I just marveled in. My presence meant it was time though and they crawled out of bed and threw their jackets on. After a quick trip to the loo, they slid on their boots and joined me outside.  

   As I slid my arms, one by one into my slicker and snapped it shut for only the second time of the season, I realized just how much I love the rain even more when I can stay relatively dry while out in it.  Instantly, my thoughts went to my husband. “I hope he remembered his rain gear.” I remember thinking to myself, knowing that even if he didn’t, he would continue working hard in the elements. He is an amazing provider and works every day to keep us alive and well. My heart was so full, I couldn’t have put it in words even if someone had asked me.

  Gear on, we set out to feed the animals, each being eager for their breakfast.  We said our apologies for being late and heard forgiveness with each chomp on their food. We were even welcomed by hugs from the dog and swirls around our legs by the cats.  The ducks stood back in the far corner, holding their ground, letting out an angry quack or two but their resilience broke as soon as their feed hit the ground and their gate was opened for them to set out on their wild adventures for the day.  The chickens pecked at the ground as if they were already wasting away due to the late feeding. As I tossed handfuls of feed at their feet, they began chattering and gobbling up their food like a bunch of hens in a henhouse. 

   Heading back to the barn, I saw my third child, Jade, coiling up the hose as the bunnies she just fed, nibbled on their goodies. When I stopped and inquired as to her busyness at the hoses, she simply stated she was getting them ready for winter freezes so we don’t have to worry about it once it is upon us. It stopped my heart. All these years of communicating the need for logical thinking in this life and the importance of thinking ahead had finally settled in yet again.  “She is growing so fast.” I thought to myself and pride filled my heart.  It is the little moments like this that God gives me just a peek of my fruits being harvested. I am reminded that without Him, my fruits may not even be fruit, but weeds sucking the life out of everything around it. I am so grateful for His grace and all the times He has forgiven me for not hearing his communicating the need for logical thinking and the importance of thinking ahead.  I smile at my beautiful daughter and praise her for her wisdom. Her smile widens to match mine.

   In the barn, I find Faith, my youngest, dropping hay from the hay pile so she can give the horses their second flake for the morning and realize that even just a year ago, she would have asked for help to do this task. Instead, she just worked joyfully, playfully visiting with the kitten at the top of the pile. The thought that she didn’t need me, not because she was able to do it easily, but because the efforts to do the job herself didn’t seem like such a burden. Above that, she was smiling and finding joy in her morning. I felt God was again showing me the importance of having joy even in the smallest things. It really is what allows us to love our lives, no matter our lives.  

   I remember working at a bakery when I was younger and everyone I worked with hated their jobs but I loved working there. I loved working with my hands and I loved greeting the early risers as they filed in for their pastry breakfast. It’s not for everyone, but it was a beautiful place for me.  Just like here and now, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be sometimes.  Yes, sure, the animals are so beautiful and who doesn’t love petting kittens every morning, but this is a job nonetheless. There are hooves to clean, tails to untangle, poop to scoop, medicine to administer, steps in manure, hay in your bra… hair… pants… boots… everywhere!  When you are in the middle of dinner and your dog decides to bring you a chicken she accidentally killed by playing with or your horse looks at you through your window and you see the fence down behind him, you stop eating, get your boots on, and get out there to deal with the issue at hand. When you are just getting in the shower and you hear a shout from the barn, “Come quick!” you throw on the necessary clothing and slip on boots with no socks and haul butt! It’s a glorified life style and some who try it, back away slowly from the reality of it.  I have lived both lives. One fit, one didn’t.  

   A LITTLE FLASHBACK…

   I struggled living in town. In just 2 years, a lot happened. I dealt with depression for the first time in my life.  I felt like the walls were closing in on me all the time. It was weird. I went from being a happy morning person to not wanting to get out of bed. In hopes of making a purpose for myself, I filled my days with tasks and volunteer positions and pursued a career in sales as well as homeschooling my kids still.  My husband went to work out of state and we accepted two foreign exchange students into our home.  I was no longer thinking logically and I surely wasn’t finding any joy in my days.  I was fighting with my kids and welcoming the fact that my husband could not see me this way. I was a mess.

   I had begun to have medical issues. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I was having serious kidney issues which were always followed by passing stone after stone, and was having what I later learned were panic attacks. Being sick was a very foreign thing for me.  VERY.  AND… I was failing… at everything.  My balance had been shifted and I no longer had any at all. I had lost my way.  Thanks to some amazing people in my life, this was brought to the surface.

   Dropping to my knees in the middle of my living room, I surrendered my life again. I prayed something like, “I have failed, God. I have failed because I am trying to go my own way. I am trying to fill my anxieties with busyness so they will be hidden. Lord, I have begged for your help but I have not waited for your answer. I  don’t even know what is right for my own life. I don’t even know who I am right now. Whisper your wishes in my heart, Lord. Tell me what to do, even if it means doing nothing at all.”  I gave up everything. I stopped doing everything. God cleansed me. He led me to places I never even knew existed. I held positions but was not doing anything in them. He literally halted my life.  Then, He helped me see.  I sent out a plea to every committed position I was in, that I was overwhelmed, I was physically deteriorating because of it and that I was needing to make some changes.  

This is where it gets interesting…  

   I received VERY different responses to this plea.  They were two very different extremes.  It was split in the middle. There were no gray areas. Over half of them responded angry or put out. I was a bail out to them. I didn’t understand what position I was putting them in. I was ungrateful for the things they had done for me (remembering that these being things that benefited them in some way. Business helps, things they could share to show the nature of their character, etc.).  I would say probably 90% of them turned on me, discarded me and even spewed hatred toward me for saving my own life.  (I’m not kidding. That is probably a generous guess) I was shocked. I look back now and see I shouldn’t have been, but I was.  It was the very clarification I needed.  

   Let me tell you about the 10% that responded differently though. This is really all that God wanted me to focus on at that time.  This group of people had a completely different reaction!  I began hearing of others who had gone through this exact same thing and had come to this exact same fork in the road of their lives. I also began hearing people say things like, “Angie, we are so happy for you. We have been praying for you to slow down.” and “Angie, we have been so worried about you. You just look so tired.”  They devised plans to hold me accountable and refused to ask me to volunteer for anything.  They encouraged me to make a plan to do nothing that God wasn’t specifically telling me to do.  I was no longer allowed to volunteer for anything that someone else could do even if it was differently than how I would do it. I was no longer allowed to volunteer without praying about it and waiting for God to answer me clearly.  I was reminded that God had given me 4 beautiful children that were entrusted to me and a husband who worked so hard so I could be home with them.  This 10% cared more about me than the fact that they were going to have to find another volunteer, leader, and/or planner.  I received encouraging words, phone calls and visits to make sure I was staying on track and to let me know I was loved.  A response one NEVER forgets.

   Next up, I realized I was not good at choosing friends.  I tended to choose friends that required extra grace all the time. I have always been drawn to people who needed lots of patience for some reason. I was in no place to help anyone else and really, I was a dry well because I was never getting anything back.  Well, God weeded my friendship garden and I realized, the only real friends I had just happened to be in that 10% and the rest were taken away from me. As I got stronger, they started leaving, one by one. It made me even stronger, and I began to feel a peace I hadn’t felt in years. 

   Then, the owners of our home lost it, sold it, and we were in need to relocate. My husband and son were in North Dakota working, my oldest daughter was not speaking to me and my two youngest daughters were all I had.  We packed and got rid of stuff and packed some more. One evening I felt really terrible and knew my kidney was the culprit. I called my daughter, who not speaking to me, was still there within minutes to take me to the emergency room.  It was kidney stones and a kidney infection. I was sent home medicated and unable to even walk up our stairs, let alone pack. As time got closer, and we still couldn’t find a place to live, I should have been panicking but oddly I wasn’t.  1 week before we were due to be out, my illness which I had pretty much kept from others so they wouldn’t feel obligated to help me, (Gotta love stinky pride, right?) I started to get a little freaked out.  I was nowhere near packed and really was so tired that I almost didn’t even care anymore.

   I had been calling around to realty places and asking for anyone who met our needs on a short notice but hadn’t turned up anything so I was so grateful when our neighbors came and asked if we would be willing to stay at their place for 2 weeks after we were all moved. GOD. I got a call from a realtor that informed me she didn’t know what property I was talking about in my message but she had something that hadn’t even gone on the market yet and she thought we would be interested. Wrong number. GOD. My church called and said that my husband notified them that even though I wasn’t asking for help that I needed it and they would be sending people to help me move. GOD. While moving, I was contacted by a new friend with a horse trailer that they would like to loan their trailer to us for moving. GOD. Friends flooded my home to help me move almost everything into our storage unit. GOD. One gal from church whom I barely knew never left me. She came day after day to help me, brought us lunch and worked side by side with me until the last night I had to be out. We celebrated by eating a burger in my car at almost midnight. The most a friend had ever done for me without expecting anything in return. GOD. He weeded and then planted beautiful kindness into my life. I don’t think that it was any coincidence that the home God gave us is in the country, just 5 minutes down the road from hers. GOD.  My husband came home unemployed due to his refusing to leave me to move twice without him. I was so relieved. GOD. The new house provided a shop and a friend called and offered (We hadn’t even pursued loan options yet) a personal, interest free loan so he could go out on his own. GOD.  We moved out to our new home which costs way more than what we were seeking and yet, we have always made rent. GOD. 

   I look into my daughters eyes, and remember all this and I thank God for all that He has done for us. We have lived here for just over a year and in our 17 years of marriage, we have finally settled.  We are satisfied because He guides us and we are listening.  We probably won’t live here forever. It really isn’t feasible and we feel Him telling us that this is a step in a plan, but we are so grateful to be here. Here being physically and spiritually. 

   I am reminded of other blessings that have come from letting God be in control of our lives. This Summer, my son re-dedicated his life to the Lord and has made vast changes in his life. He gave it all to God. He is no longer a boy, but a man in my eyes. My daughter not only is in constant contact with us but is a beautiful friend in addition to being our daughter. She took the hard road and it is such a blessing to see her choosing to return to God one step at a time.

   When I came in from feeding, I saw my disheveled house.  I saw muddy footprints from Jade forgetting to take her boots of at first. I saw the decks of cards on the table from our family time when my daughter was visiting the day before.  It felt wonderful to know that while I don’t necessarily love cleaning, that I have time to do it and I really wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.  I am grateful for a small house that draws us all close together and is a perfect trade off for my husband being able to work out of the elements from time to time in a shop.  I am so blessed that while we all have to work hard, we are working hard right where God wants us. I am SO grateful to not be living in town. Not because town is bad, but because it is just not where I belong right now.

   I now have peace that reaches all the way down into my soul. The only kind that truly satisfies us. The peace of Christ being the ruler of our heart.  The peace that comes from not having all the answers ourselves but knowing Who does. There aren’t many things that make me afraid anymore, but when I am afraid, I know that I am not listening…

 

   Thank you God, for always loving me. Thank you for seeking me when I refuse to answer. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for giving me peace that allows me to face the horrors of this world and know that You and only You have the victory. Thank you for allowing me to write so I can share the before’s and after’s of this life You have given me and saved me from. Thank you for all the people who will read this today and be brave enough to surrender their lives to You.  Thank you for the support I receive from them. Thank you for my family, my friends, and the HOPE You have given me through your grace and word.  In the name of Your Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

http://youtu.be/2FxaUYjRtkc

“…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7

Babe In The Sun

Babe In The Sun

My Paint, Babe likes to munch in the yard during her free time out of the horse run. I have to be honest, just the sight and smell of her makes my heart soar. I just love her.
There are days that I just lay my head on her and dream away of the day that I can jump on her and ride from morning to dusk only to build a fire and sleep under the stars and do it all over again the next day.
Only God knows what is in store for me, but I know that even if I never see those wide open spaces and I never sleep side by side with my Babe under the stars, I will be satisfied with what He has in store for me.
Sometimes I think we tend to blame God for our ‘dreams’ not coming true but it’s not about wrecking our dreams. Instead it’s about making sure we are aligned with His will. God is not going to keep us from something our hearts so desired unless there is a very critical reason. Whether it’s because that path would take us completely in the wrong direction somehow, or we simply aren’t ready for it.
No matter what God has in store for us, it’s GREAT! There is a recipe to this piece of cake theory. Wanna hear it? Here goes!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

I don’t know what your dreams are, but keep dreaming, and keep talking to Him about it. You never know, maybe that is all He is waiting for.

Happy Trails,
Angie

Image

Take that shot!

   Every once in awhile, I have to stop and take random pictures that just call out to me. Sometimes it means for quick breaking and pulling off the road and scaring the crap out of all the fellow passengers in the car. The truth is though, that if you don’t just stop everything and embrace the moment every now and then, you will lose it and later say, “Dang, I wish I would have gotten that shot!”

   This is so much like life. The great part is that the more often you stop to take these shots, the clearer they seem to be. Even if you are going a tad over the speed limit, towing a trailer, in the middle of nowhere.  

Image

 

See you soon,

Angie

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