Archive for August, 2009

My Testimony-part 3

**In the interest of full disclosure, I did get “saved” at Falls Creek Church camp when I was a teenager.  I was baptized when I got home from camp, and went to church for a little while.  I read my bible.  But I never really understood that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus.    Without that part of it, it was just rules…the benefits of a personal relationship include intimacy, peace, support, comfort, fellowship.  It was right in front of me, but I didn’t understand that.**

Surrender…defined by Miriam-Webster as: to give (oneself) up into the power of another, especially as a prisoner.  It never felt so good.  Surrendering to God’s power.  Realizing that I couldn’t and wasn’t designed to do life on my own, was the most liberating moment of my life.

It amazes me how much my testimony intertwines with Psalm 116.  It could just be my prayer to God.  I could have written it.  I love the Lord because He heard my cry. Because he turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.  The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. That night in my car, that’s how I felt.  Overcome, anguished.  I cried out to no one in particular, but God was there–watching, listening, full of mercy and love and forgiveness.  The Lord is gracious and righteous and full of compassion.  The Lord protects the simple hearted. When I was in great need, he saved me.

I love Him and surrender to Him simply because He saved me and because I remember what it felt like to need a savior.

Now, I don’t want to over simplify things.  I did not go home from church that day with all my problems solved.  The debt was still there, I still didn’t want to tell my husband anything.  Let’s just say I had a LOT to process.  and I had a lot more light to do it with.

My Testimony–part 2

Where was I?  Oh, yeah, crying. not running.

So, the night of crying–and thoughts of running– was a Tuesday night.  Two days later, on a Thursday afternoon, I mentioned in passing to a neighborhood friend that finances were strained and it was causing worry and pain.   Unbeknownst to me, she and her husband had been “church shopping” the last few weeks and had visited a church in the area that was NOT for them–(the music was too loud!), BUT the pastor was doing a series on money and finances…and I might be interested.

Never in my wildest imaginations, did I see God fixing my money or marriage problems.   It just never, ever occurred to me.  But for reasons I could NOT explain, I knew for sure I’d be there that weekend.   I look back and still wonder how/why I thought that was a good idea.   Nevertheless, I was determined to go.  I called my sister, who had been to this church a couple of times before, and told her what I was doing.  She said she’d meet me there.  I’m sure she was excited, because she already knew the God I was getting ready to meet.

I was nervous for the next 2 days.  I did not tell my husband what I had planned to do.  I was angry at him, a little embarrassed about going, and really didn’t know how to explain it, so I kept quiet.  I really don’t even remember what happened that Sunday morning before I left–he probably does…he remembers everything.

Sunday morning finally came and I got out my best dress and pantyhose–because that’s what you wear to church, right?  I got there a little early and had to wait by the door for my sister.  The lobby was crowded and I was OBVIOUSLY over dressed.  Someone asked me if I was a “greeter”.  Huh?  “NO, I’m just waiting for someone.”  “Is this your first time here?”  “uh, DUH!”    Everyone was nice. I was nervous.

My sister, who also remembers EVERYTHING, could probably tell you what happened next.  My next memory is sitting in a chair, towards the back of the auditorium, listening intently to every word the pastor said.  He was engaging, funny, very easy to understand.  He was talking about debt snowballs and how the borrower is slave to the lender…all stuff I recognize now as Dave Ramsey material.  I was comfortable, it was common sense… and then, BAM, he hit me right between the eyes with the truth of the gospel, and what it could do for me.  I cried again.  This time with the brokenness that comes right before healing.  A result of surrender.  Relief washed over me like a flood as I slowly released my soul to God.

And yes, I do have a flair for the dramatic.  But it’s true.  All true.  More to come…

My Testimony–part 1

I’m approaching my 10 year “anniversary” of when I allowed Jesus to come into my life and make me new.  I want to tell my story.  I know I’ve shared bits and pieces, but I need to lay it all out.  It was October ’99.

I’ll begin in September 1999.  Kevin and I had just “celebrated” our 10 year anniversary.  We had 2 young kids, 5 and 2,  and a mountain of debt.    If you’ve ever been deep in debt, you know the weight and stress that carries.  Add to it much fighting (kids and adults) and a distant marriage relationship, and you have hopelessness, emptiness, pain, sadness…

I remember driving to a MOPS meeting at a church (Mothers Of Pre Schoolers).  I was on the arts and crafts committee, I think, and was involved in planning and organizing the monthly events.  Ironically, this is a religious group where prayer and God were central parts, and I was NOT a Christian–I’m not sure if I really believed God was even real.  I just wanted a chance to be w/ grown ups since I was a stay-at-home mom at the time.   I didn’t care about all that God stuff.

ANYWAY, I was driving alone to a planning meeting on a Tuesday night and crying about my life troubles.  It was dark outside, so I sat in the car outside the church where we were meeting, trying to pull myself together before I went inside.  (I needed to put on my happy face before I went in…don’t we all do that?)  But, I was miserable.  I remember thinking that I could just drive…and keep driving, and not go back home.  I would miss my kids, sure, but they’d be fine–and better off.  I couldn’t bring myself to end my life, but I certainly thought about running away and never coming back.  I was scared, alone, angry…

The rest of that night was a blur…I DID go home, though.  Back to the grind.  No answers, no solutions.  No hope.

To be continued…

Another update on Gettin’ Healthy 08

I realize it’s more than halfway through ’09, but I started this “Gettin’ Healthy” project back in ’08.  Click here if you want the particulars. OR, I could just tell you that I started exercising and eating better so I could get healthy…not a diet to lose weight….just feel better and be healthier.  After all, I was turning 40 in less than a year!  What else do you expect!?

ANYWAY,  I fell off the bandwagon a while back (or is it just the wagon?), as I predicted I would back in October ’08.    Self-fulfilling prophecy or just a good grasp on history?  Either way, I plumped back up, slowed back down, and generally starting feeling like doodoo.

So, the first day of school, August 18, was my start date to get back on track.  I’m back on, tracking calories, eating lots of fruit (nature’s candy, ya know!) and oatmeal and fiber bars and more fruit.  Yowza.  I won’t even tell you the side effect of all that fruit and fiber.

AND, most exciting and most motivating, I’ve decided to run a 5K race in October.  I’ve gathered a couple of peeps to  run with me, too!  We’re doing the Race for the Cure on 10/10 in downtown OKC.   I’m using the Couch to 5K Running Plan to get ready.  I’ve NEVER been a runner.  I usually avoid it if at all possible.  But I need a goal. a reason to move. an assignment.

I’m on day 4 of eating less. and today I finished week 1, day 2 (of 3) of my new running program.  How am I doing??  Well, I thought I was going to die on my walk/run this morning. If my mom hadn’t been with me, I probably would have sat down on the sidewalk and cried.  And it’s only 4:00pm and I am STARVING!   I’ve saved calories all day for baked ziti tonight and a rice krispie treat during game night, so I’ve eaten a LOT of small portions, and fruit.  Did you know 1/2 cup of watermelon has only 24 calories?  An egg white has only 17 calories?  Bargains.    I have NO idea how much calories the ziti has and right now I really don’t have the energy to care!

and naturally, if I’m thinking about it, I have to write about it here.  Wish me luck!

More Hamlet Musings

In Hamlet, King Claudius appears to be praying, so Hamlet decides not to slice him up with his dagger and exact his revenge at that moment,  b/c he doesn’t want Claudius to go to heaven.    His thinking was that if he’s confessing sins at the moment of his death, then he’ll go to heaven–and he’d be doing him a favor.  Since Hamlet’s dad didn’t get a chance to confess his sins before Claudius killed him, then it wouldn’t be fair.  When Hamlet leaves, Claudius stops praying and utters those words.

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”  Hamlet, III.iii.96

It made me think about the sincerity of my prayers.  Sometimes I just blab out prayers.  Go through the motions to check it off my list….  Does God hear insincere prayers, or is it just noise?  Probably just noise.  God is certainly worthy of more than noise.

Good stuff, Mr. Shakespeare.  Can I call you William?  Billy?  I’d love to be on a first name basis with you!

Shakespeare’s cool and smart and stuff

Yeah, I’m a literary snob.  Yeah, right. I read/watch Shakespeare…and love it.  I even understand some of it…I’d say about 2/3 to 3/4 of it.   Then I wax on poetically about the themes and symbolism.  (only in my head, thankfully!) Shakespeare may just be some dead white dude, but he knows his sh*t.   I pulled that outta 10 Things I Hate About You, a movie inspired by Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.   I’m only a little embarrassed to admit this is one of my favorite movies…and it has a kickin’ soundtrack.

So here comes the part where I wax poetic…not really.   I just like it.  and I’m fairly certain that watching Shakespeare will keep me from getting Alzheimers.  Yeah, you heard me right.    You see, cuz my brain is SO active, translating what they are saying into American English, and then WISHING I could say stuff like that.   It’s just beautiful.  and sarcastic, and witty, and surprisingly full of sexual innuendo. So, it keeps my brain in shape…it’s just a bonus.

“I will speak daggers to her, but use none.”  Now, I probably would have said, “I’m gonna give her a piece of my mind”.    Hamlet’s words are infinitely better. “To be, or not to be?”  Did you know that Hamlet is contemplating whether or not to commit suicide?!   “Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.”  Good gifts don’t mean as much when the giver isn’t nice.   Even Ophelia has good lines.

Alas, no matter how I try, I just can’t form thoughts in the Shakespearean way.     I should’ve been born in England in the 1500’s, I guess.  For now, I’ll go on speaking Oklahoman English with a bit of Hicklish thrown in and dream in Shakespearean English.

Do I Really Want What I Want?

I want to have a skinny, toned body.  In my mind I do.  In real life I do not.  In order to actually have it, I’d have to give something up that’s not beneficial (junk food) and commit to doing something good for me to build muscle and burn fat (exercise).  Without these disciplines, I will never have what I want, no matter how much I want it…not if I’m not willing to work  for it.

For so long I wanted to have a close relationship with God, and all the benefits that come with itwisdom, peace, love, joy, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. But, I was unwilling–I’ll call it what it is–to invest the time and energy to have it.  I just wanted to pray for God to be close to me and expect it to happen without effort.

Now I know.  Our salvation is free….it’s a gift.  (Eph 2:8) You do NOT have to work for it.  and that’s REALLY good news. But the intimate  relationship with God–which is THE BEST part of the whole deal!–takes work; as does any relationship.  It takes time, attention.  If I want to know God better (and have all of those benefits that comes with it), I have to choose to spend time with Him over so many other things.  I have to give up something not beneficial and commit to doing something good for me that brings me closer to God  and eliminates sin from my life.

Time to get off my bum-bum and get to it.  So what do you need to go, and what do you need to start?  It is worth it, I guarantee it.

drop (to your knees) and give me 20…more!

I’ve now been married 20 years.  20. years.  That’s a really long time.  For me, it’s half my life.  And 20 years is a really long time to stay with the same person.  I mean, think of it, when else do you spend that long with one person–that close.  Besides family (which I haven’t ever LIVED with that long) it’s the longest close relationship I’ve ever had.  Friends come and go, and even the friends I’ve had for that long I don’t see EVERY day.

Marriage is a covenant, or promise, between a man and a woman to stay together no matter what.  For better, for worse.  On the very day you are married, you are acknowledging there will be good and bad times.  At 20 years old, I did not have a clue what that really meant.  I couldn’t comprehend that, at times, I’d get weary of dealing with the same issues, having the same arguments, or going ’round and ’round the same conflicts (or avoiding the same conflicts) for years.  Marriage is the place where you learn what it’s really like to accept someone and love them unconditionally.  It’s the place where you have to exercise true humility, giving up what you want for the sake of someone else.

Kevin and I both have divorced parents.  BUT, they divorced late in life.  My parents were married 30 years before they split up.  I was an adult with kids of my own.  and Kevin’s dad left when Kevin was in high school.   What this tells me is that after the first 20, the second 20 must be even more challenging.   And that makes sense…the new-ness wears off (ha!), kids have moved on out, you have to find a new rhythm.

So, here’s to the NEXT 20. and becoming more like my Savior  –>humble, accepting, serving, considering my spouse more than myself, and loving him unconditionally.

the one where I’m less transparent

I killed a giant hairy-legged spider this morning on the kitchen floor.  Actually, I sucked him up with the vacuum cleaner hose, so he’s probably not even dead.  He is probably crawling around in the canister thingy with all the dust and dog hair.  Eww.  Now I’m going to have trouble sleeping for fear he’ll somehow escape (no doubt come out the way he went in!) and seek revenge on me for attempted murder.

This big dude was hairy legged, too, although not naturally.  He’d obviously been crawling around under the lip of the kitchen cabinets and he had big clumps of dust stuck to his 8 legs.   This made him seem more substantial than he probably really was.   Despite my best efforts, it always seems to get really dusty under there.  Oh jeesh, what if he lived there?!  Made a home with his 8 hairy legged spider wife?  and laid spider eggs that hatched into spider babies!?  Eww…I’m really going to have trouble sleeping tonight.

Sorry, where was I going with this story.  Oh, yeah, I was attempting to be more current eventsy and a little less transparent.  I have a friend who found my blog (shout out to db!)  and said she was inspired to be more transparent on her blog because of mine.  Wow!  what a compliment!  It got me thinking about my blog topics and how much I share.  Sharing weaknesses, struggles, and fears with the world wide web may not be the wisest thing.  There are surely people out there that would use stuff like that against a person, yes?

So, why on earth do I share these deep thoughts and feelings with no one in particular?  Why do I feel better seeing them on the computer screen?  Answers to come another day.  Today I’m being surfacey.  Making up words and such…and imagining hairy legged spiders coming to get me!

Oh, yeah, and today is my 20th wedding anniversary.  Well, not just my, but my and Kevin.  Wow, I’ve been married half my life.  This, also, will be covered another day.  It’s surely worthy of it’s own dedicated post!

I’m new.

I’m critical. I’m judgmental. I’m not a nice person naturally.

There.  I said it.  That’s my big secret.  I generally hide it well.  I think…

When I think back to 10 years ago–before I discovered the forgiveness and grace of Jesus–I did not hide it nearly as well.  I yelled at my kids.  I was angry a lot.  I was vocally critical of others.  I worried all the time.  I was mean and belittling to my husband.  I was sad.  You are glad you didn’t know me then.  and if you did, I’m sorry.  I’m really, really sorry.

Fortunately, God is continually making me new.   He didn’t just do it once, in October 1999, although He certainly did do it then.  It’s a miracle that my family survived intact until I allowed God to step in and begin His business of healing, reshaping, and restoration.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Cor 5:17

So, I’m a new person.  Daily, God is restoring me to the woman he wants me to be.   I’m learning to accept. and to be accepted.  He is showing me grace. and showing grace through me.  and most importantly—>LOVE…God is showing me what love is, who love is, and how to love others like I never understood before.  that love is a choice, not a feeling.  it’s a decision, not a reaction.

Oh, yeah, and I’m 40 today.  If I’m this new today, I can’t wait until tomorrow…and the next day…and the next!