Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Falling Away on Pride

I can't be the only person who suffers from pride. There are times that I think I don't have to apologize because I'm right on something. Or perhaps, they've messed up more than me so they deserve no apology. Other times, it's the kind of pride that hits where I've overdone it by bragging about something in order to make myself feel better. And I know I'm not alone with being in Camp Pride.

There was an issue that I had been stewing upon at present where I was feeling a bit prideful over offering an apology to someone. I had been feeling rather ticked off by their seemingly lack of realizing their hurtful tendencies and therefore, I felt no apology should be given in return for another issue. But then one morning I awoke with the wisdom from God whispering into my heart, "Pride goes before destruction."

"Yes, Lord, I hear you! I need to make a change." And with having that pride, the first step to admitting it is awfully hard because of well...pride. Pride is too often the thing that puts the manipulation right into relationship. But trading it in for humility is a freeing way to improve upon things before it goes sour.

It's the kind of pride that keeps us from saying, "I'm sorry!" It's the pride that doesn't allow us to say, "Yes!" It's the pride that convinces us to say things by putting ourselves on pedestals in order to feel better compared to someone else. It's the pride that pushes us further from contentment in relationships, therefore leading to destruction. We feel no better about ourselves in the end when we accept pride. Those thoughts that were meant to put us higher than everyone else or to keep hold of offenses has now led us to sorrow and misery. Why would we want to accept that pride, when instead we could accept that we only need approval from Jesus? Because most of what we are truly feeling is our need for approval and acceptance from the world instead of feeling secure in Christ. With this, we should address things in humility.

And that is why Jesus is so great.

He was the most humble guy around. This is the same one born in a stable, among the lowliest places on earth. Surrounded by dung, straw, and dirty animals, he arrived. And that was to make a statement of who he was as the Son of Man. From him, we can learn to set our pride down and be forthcoming with things such as our apologies and humbleness. We learn that we don't need to strive at being the best at things when clearly Jesus was the best. He didn't wear fancy clothes, adorn himself with the very best jewelry and go around bragging about himself. He listened to others and made the case to love them even when they didn't deserve it. Additionally, we know he gave himself up for our very mistakes. And it was given to us with such grace.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Pride says to us:

"I'm easier."
"Do this and you'll be happier."
"Put yourself first."
"Say no or ignore."
"I can do no wrong."
"I'm better than everyone else."
"Why would I apologize?"

Pride convinces us that we will feel better in the end. And as said before, if we follow that tempting route, we will be led down a tumultuous path. When we choose pride, we choose ruin. When we choose humility, we choose love and the chance to better things within our relationships. And we choose Jesus being our source of freedom. When we let go of pride, we give in to improvement in our relationships and a satisfaction in knowing that only Jesus can fill the role of being enough.

Extra verses on pride to consider:
  • Proverbs 27:2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider and not your own lips.

  • Proverbs 29:23 Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

  • Proverbs 21:24 The proud and arrogant person - "Mocker" is his name - behaves with insolent fury.

  • Proverbs 16:5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

  • Isaiah 2:12 The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled).

  • Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to everyone one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others better than yourself.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

High Expectations

When my husband and I were first married, I would have these high expectations of him to do things. Unfortunately, I wasn't always nice about it those first few years. I wanted a very clean home, yet my husband was a clothes-behind-the-door kind of guy. When we finished using our dishes, I expected each of us to rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. It would anger me when he set them on the counter next to the dishwasher (we're talking one bowl and spoon and I'd freak out). In my eyes, my counter wasn't clean enough. If he came in and set papers in a visible spot, I would grow frustrated. My expectations were too high as he was a very busy guy at the time learning how to fly new planes and going through pilot training. His schedule was very full and he had a lot going on. While I was busy as well working in the schools, I realized I was adding to the stress of our marriage by being angry over trivial things.

                                                    (Here we are as Newlyweds-2003)

Over the years, I learned about how to have more grace on him just as he learned to have more grace on me in other areas. Having our family grow in size quite a bit, I learned to let a lot of things go in the process. Perhaps, that is one of the many lessons God has taught me along the way. Now, we have seven children and as you can imagine, clean as in the way I originally dreamed in those early years of marriage is now laughable. I've definitely learned to let things go and not be so uptight.

Thinking of how far we've come with those petty arguments as we've gone along, I've learned that it's easy to expect too much from others. We are all filled with different personalities and different ideas for how things get done. Some (like me) prefer to do things right away. My husband tends to procrastinate more. Ironically, over the years, we've molded more to meeting in the middle. I've noticed that he doesn't procrastinate nearly as much. Likewise, I don't rush as often into things, though I still prefer to get to places early rather than late. (By the way, I am in search of a t-shirt that says "Always Early." 😉😉)

Bottom line, whether it's a marriage relationship, your children, a family member, or a friend, we must show grace when things don't live up to our expectations. Otherwise, we end up being upset over something they may not even realize truly affects us. And if we are on the other end of screwing up (missed birthday, forgetting to do something), we must be quick to admit fault. Perhaps, we can also explain in our relationships how that expectation is not our easiest aspect. But do try hard to be graceful on both ends and be willing to communicate our expectations as well so that we can understand each other better.

Please share down below with me! What are some of your high expectations? What do you struggle with when your expectations aren't met?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Woman of Worth

There comes a point in your life where people from your past, whether they be friends, close relationships, or even family members don't seem to follow you into your future. As someone who feels they continually reach out to keep connections, when I'm failed to be received on their end, the relationship eventually fades in the darkness. Along with that darkness comes a dark mind on my end of loneliness. I start to panic of all that I might have done wrong in those relationships to have caused these feelings deep inside.

This past year, I felt like I hit rock bottom with certain relationships among those who never responded or made any attempt to be welcoming right back. For me and my personality type (INFJ), this became very frustrating and discouraging. I started second guessing who I was as a person and how I may be coming across to them.

"Am I too nice? Do they find me too cheerful? Do I make things look too easy? Am I too positive and optimistic? Do they find my constant hand reaching out annoying? Why don't they say anything back? Do they hear me? Am I there? Did they get my texts/phone calls/emails? Why am I being ignored? Perhaps I spoke too soon on something or offended them somehow. I wonder what I did to have gotten to this point with them. What should I do now? Do I give them space? Do I keep trying? Do they even want me in their life?"

These thoughts played out in my mind so often. With some of these relationships, I've tried to stay connected through all various means only to be ignored. Being ignored by others is very hurtful to me. To say one is too busy to respond ever is entirely an excuse in my book to mean that I don't matter. As a homeschooling mother of seven with a husband who is gone quite a bit, I know the meaning of busy. But I also know the meaning of making time for those important relationships. Never do I expect perfection in responding, only some attempt on their part at some point. While I understand we all have times in our lives that get complicated or our mental situations drown us out, to be faced with years of this treatment is something else. To never once respond to someone or even allow them to know they exist is pretty hurtful. Even if I could be met with something about how they are busy, but would like to connect soon would be great to hear. However, I was met with nothing...not one word.

Over the past couple of years, I've read many self-help books, talked with people including a counselor, and even tried to make my way in understanding what was going wrong. I withdrew myself at times from things like social media so I could pray, seek God, and try to make sense of what was happening in my life. I stayed connected to those that did want to stay connected, but I took time to focus more on those relationships around me that were most important. I've been seeking friend's advice and help on certain relationships wondering what they thought and how they dealt with certain issues. At one point, I even thought I had a breakthrough moment with one of these difficult relationships only to realize we were back to square one with the not-responding technique.

What I've really taken away from all of this is that in the future, I won't be so aggressively seeking close relationships with those who don't welcome me in. I won't continue to send messages, make phone calls, or communicate with other ways unless they truly are willing to meet me halfway. I deserve to be around those who make me feel like I am worth something to them. I've learned the importance of boundaries and I'm seeking to apply them more. And I'm learning to let go of those who don't want me in their lives. Does it still hurt? The short answer is yes. Will I miss them? I will miss the good parts from the past. But in the future, I will look ahead for new opportunities with those who show love and respect in return.  For I am a woman of worth and I will surround myself with those relationships going forward that will truly matter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

When We Meet in the Middle

When you step into someone's home or involve yourself in their life, there are things you must know. Every person has their personal space. And with that space comes a fence with a gate. The first step to entering is knocking on the gate door. Do not open it on your own. Never cross through the yard before permission has been granted. Sometimes, people don't want what you have to offer or need the flowers trampled on with the hurried ways of your persistent feet. Let the owner be the guide of their surroundings. Let them be the one to make the calls and decisions of what happens in their home. You are not there to change their minds or shove what you want onto them. Go with the flow of what happens.

Sometimes we feel we must insert our opinions and advice. Sometimes we might disagree with their ways and insist on doing things our own way. Surely, they want the help. They must not know as much as we do so we must have it our way so they can learn from us. NOPE!

Relationships must meet halfway across the street. Unless they have reached out for your hand to come over to their direction, stay in the middle. Stepping further without necessary only brings manipulation and control. Those ways are toxic and unhealthy to the relationship. And if it continues in that direction, it's time to put an end to that behavior. No one should grant themselves permission to take over, especially in one's home. And if you want that relationship to grow, be patient instead of overtly direct. Be humble and practice withholding one's tongue to refrain from unnecessary critic.

Your home and your space belongs to you. If anyone continues to manipulate or control that space, it's time to distance yourself from that person. Even more, never come between a family. Don't speak badly of one's spouse to the other. Don't come in between the children and parents. They are a bond that cannot be broken. Those things you say will only show your true colors. If you are in someone else's home or space, go by their rules. Never go by your own.

If you are the one setting the boundaries, be willing to stretch farther sometimes. While setting boundaries is necessary, it's also important for your well-being. At the same time, be willing to expand your boundaries if it helps you to expand your love. Don't build a higher fence unless it's necessary to keep away from the toxic visitor. Most importantly, learn to recognize what is healthy for your relationships and what is not. If the boundless person continues to show lack of respect, it's time to bow out gracefully from that relationship.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Songs of Joy

     After years of confusion, I awoke from the strangeness of things with insurmountable joy. I realized my downfalls over the past few years and what became of the things I had become accustomed to in my daily life. I was seeking the approval of man. You see, growing up I was always a bit of a dreamer. I loved dreaming of "far off places and daring sword fights" like Belle with her nose stuck in a book. I dreamed of fairy tales coming true and was always a bit of an adventure seeker in the most feminine way. At a young age of 17, my fairy tale started to amazingly become true. I met my handsome prince and we were made just for each other. God knew what he had in store for us meeting at such a young age and giving us dreams of a different kind of future. We loved being together and so we tied the knot at the age of 22.

     Shortly after, I started having children and accomplished more dreams of a large family. But somewhere along the way, I began living less for what we dreamed and more for the approvals of man. I picked up on ideas that I needed to care what the world thought of me more than I ever knew. I worried about cleaning on an overboard schedule worried that if someone came into my home and saw an ounce of mess, they would judge me as being a lazy mother. I tried going along with the demands others made for me without putting up necessary borders along the way. I felt if I didn't do XYZ, others would view me as not enough or I wasn't "Christian" enough. Sadly, as the years have gone by, I lost a bit of myself. I lost the adventures I wanted to take and put aside the hobbies I enjoyed in an effort not to disappoint anyone.

     This past year, I realized I couldn't always keep up anymore. I struggled as I fell to despair trying to figure out why I wasn't able to do more. However, God brought people to remind me through words or things done that I didn't need to do it all. "You do what you can" were words spoken to me. Then, after lots of time in tears and wondering how to get back to where I used to be, my husband reminded me of what I've lost... my confidence. My confidence was lost in the need to do everything right in order to please others. I've always been a bit of a people pleaser trying to not upset anyone. When I was reminded of what I used to have, it sunk in. The words were true and I slept on it.

     Then I awoke with flashbacks to who I once was and realized once again what I can still be. I was always a square peg in a round hole. I don't need to worry about what others think. Instead, I am learning to return to who I am deep down inside. I am thankful for the gentle nudges God gives me through others in an effort to live for Him. I don't need the approval of man because God gave me approval already.

As I dream once again, seek adventures like never before, and work on letting go, I am thankful for who God made me to be. I love the life He's given me and the lessons I'm learning along the way. I read this verse a few days ago that really came alive for me.

Psalms 126:5-6 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. 

I've been sowing with tears, but I reap with songs of joy. I am filled with joy for my savior who continues to love me beyond the mess that I am. He offers grace and mercy through his everlasting kindness. Through whatever trials and tribulations you are experiencing, just know that as you come out the other side, He will once again fill you with joy you never thought possible.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year Dreams

Oh, my life is changing everyday, in every possible way. 

We never know what lies ahead of us, and yet through this life journey, we carry with us things from behind. Life events cause good and bad to happen, relationship changes, and new beginnings. This last year for me was filled with lots of this as I think back to all that may have happened. Some things were planned, while other things were thrown my way without my agreement. Yet, it all happened in ways to allow for change and growth.

And oh, my dreams, it's never quite as it seems, never quite as it seems. 

There are things I dream of happening and other things that prevent those dreams from becoming reality. Just when I imagine things to happen one way, life throws in a mix of something else, most often unexpected. So I dream and long for what I wished could have been instead. Sometimes, this causes anxiety beyond what I can bear. Sometimes, I realize that this is part of the growth God is leading me through to bring me closer to Him. Sometimes, it's opportunities to make changes in myself for the better. And sometimes, it's a chance to let things go to become something new.

I know I've felt like this before, but now I'm feeling it even more, because it came from you.

When I go through those unexpected hard times, I feel a pull from my savior drawing me closer to Him. There is no other way but to be drawn to Him. The alternative is to something unfortunate that leads to ultimate death. The way to my savior comes with a feeling of hope that leads to a future filled with everlasting life and happiness.

And then I open up and see the person falling here is me, a different way to be. 

The harder things became this year was a chance to fall harder into His arms. He held me when I didn't understand or know what to do. He listened and whispered his love for me, "Oh child, I'm here. Everything will be okay." So I trusted Him and didn't let go. I understood His intentions for me and stayed strong through it all.

I want more impossible to ignore, impossible to ignore.

And while I came to my savior each time, I knew I wanted more than what this life here on earth could ever give to me. I am here for a purpose and I'm apart of His plan, even when I didn't think I always mattered. He continued to nudge me and remind me that even through trials and tribulations, I served a purpose.

And they'll come true, impossible not to do, impossible not to do. 

While some dreams don't always carry out, there are dreams that I will continue to pursue. My dreams of new relationships with people who care to have time for me. My dreams of mountain filled air and wandering the countryside with my family hand-in-hand are my future. My dreams of a simpler life filled with less materialism and more good company are on my heart. My dreams of fun-filled days of laughter and celebration for the life He gave to me. My dreams of my children walking in the truth. My dreams of being surrounded in good company. My dreams of heavenly hope while I brace the future with my savior.

And now I tell you openly, you have my heart so don't hurt me. You're what I couldn't find. 

As I forgive and learn to let go of past relationships and hurt, I remember my Father's love for me. He has my heart and will never hurt me. Human love is filled with hurt and sorrow. But His love is optimistic and pure. There is nothing else in this world that can compare.

A totally amazing mind, so understanding and so kind; You're everything to me. 

Others will fail me and relationships are hard. I mess up as others do each and every day. But His love never fails. No matter the things I say and do, He forgives and accepts me as I am with kindness. He offers grace and mercy beyond what I could ever give to others.

Oh, my life, is changing every day, in every possible way. And oh, my dreams, it's never quite as it seems, 'cause you're a dream to me, dream to me.- The Cranberries

As we near the end of 2016, I reflect on all that it held. This was a difficult year for me as I learned a lot about myself in the process. I faced very unpleasant words by others. Often times, I was completely ignored by those who made no time for me in their life. I struggled my way through a lot of loneliness and sadness as I tried to understand certain aspects of life changes around me. I faced difficult health issues with my children and I was filled with fear for them. I balanced a lot on my own and struggled through feelings of rejection. There were times I had to step away and deal with my anxiety over it all. And often, I felt very alone as the bad overtook my thoughts.

One very impressionable person that I read about, Fanny Crosby, who dealt with blindness her entire life was once asked how she could be so happy near the end of her life. She responded that she lived each day with forgiveness and trust. That really resonated with me as I thought back to much of what I went through.

Some new things I am working on for this upcoming year is learning to forgive and trust. I am learning to let go of things that won't happen while embracing new dreams. I am learning not to let others make me forget my dreams and to continue on. I am learning that I have so many reasons to be thankful right in front of me. So I won't let those pessimistic and discouraging to bring me down. I am learning to dream new dreams. And I am learning to live each day with abandon for my savior.

Never give up, even when times are tough. Never give in to those who expect too much. Never let go of the people who matter most. And never stop dreaming and trying to make those dreams a reality. We only have one life to live here on earth. Never live with regrets and that is my motto for the new year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

From Weary World to Hopeful Haven

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

After a long, painful day of an internal battle for my soul, I think back to all the emotions good and bad that encapsulated my mind. At times, I felt joy over the good things in my life. Other times, I felt sorrow for the things of this world. There was anger for the unkindness and dishonesty that I see at times by others, even worse from my own heart. There were prideful thoughts and those things that caused me to look at others with discontentment. My anger overflowed through my mouth straight from the heart when things became too much. And yet, I was able to re-collect myself by day’s end with thoughts of my savior rescuing me from my sins.

It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

With nighttime comes reflection and a remembrance of hope for things to come. In my heart, I have the goodness of my Father’s forgiveness and mercy for my daily mistakes. I have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb who came to rescue me. The gift was free and offered to me as well as all of creation.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Knowing that the way of the world is death, I choose life. I choose the hope I found in Jesus, the one who was born one holy night. One look at the stars in the evening is a reminder that He’s with me all the time. He is always there and ready to welcome me with open arms. No matter the unkindness, anger, or dishonest things I ever do through the weakness of my soul, he has shown favor and love for me. The more I draw close to him, the stronger I become as He is the source of my strength.

Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

For all the days and times that I feel unloved, unwanted, disrespected, insignificant, or abandoned, He nudges me some way, somehow to remind me that I have worth. Where the world wants to motivate me to feel like I don’t measure up, He reminds me that my life’s purpose is not based on the opinions of man.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

Every day, I fail either those around me or myself. It comes with the territory of being human. I say things I shouldn’t have said or acted upon my emotions unnecessarily. Meanwhile, I struggle to keep up with daily demands. I run myself into the ground being busy and I eat things I shouldn’t have eaten for a split moment of satisfaction. But hope conquers the things I cannot do. In the places that I fall short, He fulfills me.  It doesn’t matter that I cannot please myself or the world. My hope is in a better place.

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Each morning, no matter how tired I am, I get a chance for a new start. His mercies for me are new every morning that I am alive. Everything that I said or did the day before gets a fresh start. That beautiful, amazing day that Jesus came in to the world allowed me do-overs in the best possible way. I am free! I am forgiven! I am loved! I am HIS!

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born; O night divine, O night, O night Divine. -by Adolphe Adam
Whether it's gossip, dishonesty, unkindness, impurity, anger, depression, gluttony, envy, pride, laziness, greed, or something else you struggle with on a daily basis, you, TOO, can live a life free from guilt. When you choose the way of Christ, you live with abandon. All it takes is a simple prayer and a life change. And when you are already apart of His life, remember one amazing thing. Our hopeful haven found in heaven will bring with it everlasting new mornings with the One who loves us best.