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.



Saturday, October 29, 2016

Vegetarian Gone Wild

      It all started with a need for employment at the age of 16.  Actually, I already got hired by Rollertowne, a place where teenagers and younger children went to skate. But then I realized that I kind of needed to be good at roller skating. They realized that I wasn't a skater after hiring me when I would ease my way around the rink holding on to the sides while trying to whistle at kids to stop doing things. So they stuck me behind the food counter. My hours they gave me became limited as well. After a couple of weeks, I realized I needed to realistically find something else. So I started applying elsewhere around town. 



      Later, I was called by a popular restaurant in town called In-N-Out. They recognized that I had a cheery personality and quickly called me out for a job interview. Comically, at the time, I was going through a trendy Vegetarian diet stage where I wasn't eating meat. My plan was to stay a vegetarian. That's what all my friends were doing so it just made sense to join the peer pressure bandwagon. I attended the interview and was hired for the job that day. With this news, I quickly quit my other job and started employment at this new place. 



      Once I began working there, I not only smelled the cooking smells all day, but I also smelled like a burger until I showered after I got home. One day, after much convincing from my fellow employees, I tried a cheeseburger during break time. It was the best thing ever! Every employee from In-N-Out will tell you that they taste so much better when you eat one on your break than actually picking one up as a paying customer. They are made the same, but they give you a different taste. I suppose it is because you smell them all day long so your senses play mind games on you. 





      Besides becoming a fan of their food, I also became a fan of a handsome guy. This fry guy won my heart over and we started dating. An In-N-Out romance began which progressed on to a strong marriage of 13 years so far with seven children too. It's fun to look back and see how God led me to my spouse and a new generation of children came from this experience. 






      I am thankful for those memories of those early days of fast food, failed roller skating rink jobs, and burger smelling hair. There was a lot of growth that came from it not only in family size, but in wisdom too. It led me to some great and wonderful places of where I am at today. 


      Every Friday, bloggers from all over link up together to share their posts based on a one-word prompt given for that week. They set their timers for five minutes and begin writing with freedom. It's raw, real, and refreshing for those who love words. This week's word was "eat."  If you are a writer, come join in at www.katemotaung.com. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Purpose

Romans 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

If you look at the leaves in the trees, each one has a story. They all have their own patterns, colors, and things they've witnessed. Some have suffered through disease while others have been picked on by birds. Some have been rained on, shaken by strong weather, and yet they've made it through. Others weren't so fortunate and broke down to the ground before summer ever started. Some enjoyed more sunlight than others. Some were better protected depending on their roots or where they grew up. Whether each one experienced a tragedy, adventure, or big part of history, they are noticeably different.  Yet, they all have a story to tell. 



Some are colorful...



plain...



or brown. 



Some have holes all over...



are noticeably messed up...



or are dark on the outside. 



Some parts are hidden...



while others show it all. 




Some seem completely amazing and you can't even tell that they may be ugly on the inside.






Some are toxic...



boring...



or maybe even dull.



Some have character...


are interesting...




or pleasant to look at all day long. 



Some are wrinkled.



Some are smooth.



Some are curved...



straight...



or round.



Some are fun.



Some are full of heaviness inside. 



Some are large...



and some are small. 



Some are quick to fall. 



Some hold on to the tree for longer. 




Some just exist



Some know their purpose



while others don't know where to start. 



No matter what, they all long to be accepted. 



Just like the leaves, we long to be accepted too. 



Thankfully, we've been accepted by the Tree of Life... the One who continues to stand strong no matter the changes in season. We all fall down. But as long as we look to the One who overcomes it all, we end up staying alive. It doesn't matter what we've done or where we've come from in our past. It doesn't matter what we look like or who's sins are bigger. 


And each of us, like the leaves, has a story. We were made with a purpose. One of my purposes in life was to be a mother of many. Your purpose may be something entirely different. Just like we accept the leaves for their beauty, we should accept the beauty that makes each of us unique in the eyes of God. Let our lives tell the story it was made for by our Creator. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

What a Little Perspective Will Do

       After little sleep from the night, the alarm went off at 4 a.m. My husband and I scurried to take showers and head out the door to CHOA for our son's cleft palate surgery. As we made our way through early morning traffic, we sat mostly in silence. My heart was pumping and I felt complete anxiety over knowing my son had a big operation in front of him. At only 11 months of age, this would be his second surgery. Jonathan has struggled through this first year of his life learning ways he can eat with a cleft affected lip and palate. The surgeon said his palate is wider than most cases he's operated on and will take more work at fixing it. Nonetheless, we had been waiting and anticipating this surgery as part of his long journey he will face being born with this birth defect.










     Not much talking was happening between my husband and I in the car. I felt far from cool, calm, and collected. Will it hurt badly when my son recovers? Will the anesthesia work all of the way? Will he be okay? All sorts of thoughts came across my mind.




     Just as expected, we arrived on time and checked into the surgical waiting area. As we sat there looking on to our smiling son, I glanced around the room at the many children in pajamas and comfortable clothing waiting with their caregivers for their name to be called. Many little ones were fussy and tired. Part of their fussiness was the rumble in their stomachs from not eating for so long to prepare for the anesthesia. A little boy near us kept waving to Jonathan. He smiled so sweetly and his parents smiled along with him.




     As we exchanged smiles, we began talking with the little boy's parents. They were waiting for their son to have a surgical procedure. He was born with cystic fibrosis with a life expectancy not to exceed past the age of 40. As the parents discussed this child's condition, my heart sunk. Sometimes, God brings into our life people who have trials much bigger than our own. It takes a little perspective to help us realize that what we have on our plate in front of us could be much harder to deal with than another issue.









     God was testing me that day as I sat there in that waiting room. There were children with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and others with down syndrome. To put it bluntly, my son's bilateral cleft lip and palate sucks. It's a huge challenge we work with each day. But at least we know there are ways to repair it. At least he can walk, talk, and do other things with his life. He may live until his 90s or he may pass away for another reason tomorrow. However, there are parents out there living and knowing the clock is ticking fast for their children. They know their children may never grow to experience certain things in life because of their conditions.


     Perspective can do many things for us. It helps us to realize that we can make the most of each day when we realize each day's potential. It helps us to remember that our faith in God should be bigger than the fears that surround us. It helps us to open our eyes with empathy and take a walk for a moment in someone else's shoes. Let me challenge you today to live with a perspective that allows for growth in your faith and hope for the future.








     As I write this today, I want to bring awareness of World Smile Day. There are children and even adults that were born with a cleft defect. However, they don't have the funds to repair it. Organizations such as Smile Train and Mia Moo Fund help to provide the needed funds to assist in those needing repairs. While my son has been able to have the surgeries needed so far, my heart breaks for those who haven't had that chance. We've experienced very challenging feeding issues this past year. Thankfully, we have had the chance to improve those conditions for him. Please consider looking into one of these organizations and get involved in some way. Because as you know, every kid deserves a smile.






Every Friday, the Five Minute Friday writing group sets their timers for five minutes and starts writing with one chosen word. This week, I wrote a bit longer including two weeks worth as I started on this last week and never had a chance to finish. This is a great community to join. Anyone with a blog and a desire to write may join. Come check it out at www.katemotaung.com.