Archive for the ‘My Testimony’ Category

What Do You See?

sock

Yes, sometimes I wear those little tiny no show socks with my Sperry’s and they come off my heel and get balled up inside my shoe. and sometimes I just leave it. because no matter how many times I fix it, it always slides back off. and then sometimes I just rip it off and throw it in the trash and go without-which I hate, but you gotta make a choice. I know….life is ROUGH.

But, really, life is ROUGH right now. It has been for the last several months. Really rough. All aspects of it. It’s coming at me from all sides. and it really doesn’t feel right to complain because I know some people have it much rougher.

For a while, I carried it around like a heavy weight on my shoulders. Anyone could see from my body language and facial expressions that I was having a hard time with something. Frankly, I didn’t care enough or have the energy to care what people thought. and maybe it’s ok, I thought, that people know I’m hurting…that way I’ll get a little extra grace or sympathy. This wasn’t a conscious thought, of course…I’m not a narcissist.or an egotist. Just someone needing help.

But now, I am in such a better place in my mind. I can walk around “overflowing with hope”, actually smiling. Circumstances haven’t changed much. In fact, in some areas things are a little darker, if that’s possible. But I have learned where my hope comes from. It does NOT come from a change in external circumstances.  It does NOT come from other people’s “help”.  It comes from The Lord.

“May the God of HOPE fill you completely with joy and peace as you trust in him, SO THAT you may overflow with confident HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:13

and that “My faith does rest on human wisdom (mine or anyone else’s!) but on God’s power.” 1 Cor 2:5

and that “The Lord will fight for me, I need only to be still (rest in Him, trust Him).” Ex 14:14

I still feel myself floating down Negative Road occasionally…lamenting, feeling despair…but I recognize it MUCH quicker these days and “capture” those thoughts and use God’s mighty weapons (His word) to knock down those strongholds and make those thoughts line up with who God is. 2 Cor 10:4-5 (paraphrased)

So yes, I might walk around like everything is fine, but that silly sock is still wadded up inside my shoe. 🙂

badass

Prayer Brings Peace

It starts with a nagging thought.  A worry. A what if.  It can be something really BIG or something very small.

I can go so quickly into a downward thought spiral…a hint of worry leads to sea of raging anxiety! Oh my, sometimes I can’t even sleep, or even breathe, I get so worked up. But God says it’s as simple as presenting our requests to him, and letting HIM bring the peace.

Phil 4:7  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The sweet peace of God is what you get when you bring everything to God (as stated just before in v.6). Oh, how often do I need the peace of God to guard my heart and mind??!!  Too often.  Much too often.   Which brings me back to my previous post…PRAY!!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Pray

I really want to be a prayer. Pray-er.  A person who prays.  Prayer is a spiritual discipline that I’ve always had trouble making a regular part of every day. I pray sometimes, “popcorn” prayers, and half prayers (interrupted, never finished).  And really, who is praying for my husband, kids, and extended family if I’m not?!  Nobody?!  That thought makes me more than sad…it scares me.

And not just for what I can GET from praying…I really want to crave the presence of God and intimate conversation with Him.  But, I do want to realize the POWER of prayer and I want it to affect my life and the people I love.  Not just wishing and hoping for more.  I have my own acronym for praying. C.A.R.I. and now I have a journal just for prayer. It is covered front and back with verses about prayer, quotes about prayer, reasons to pray, and colored post-it note tabs for different people. I hope it’ll help make it easier to pray intentionally and regularly.

journal

Now I’m just trying to figure out how to give God the first of my day. “I rise early before the sun is up, I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.” Ps 119.147  Every day.  To pray continually. To pray without distraction. To sit and listen.  To converse with the God of the universe and tell him the desires of my heart.   “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Ps 37:4

Do I sit somewhere specific and JUST pray (instead of multi-tasking).  Do it before my morning shower?  After?  I’m trying to start small.  5 minutes.  and easy…just read the prayers I’ve written and add what comes to mind.  I gotta start somewhere.

Grace Really is Amazing

Grace–a freely offered gift.

Right now, grace is still an afterthought, or at least a 2nd thought. My first thoughts are automatic, pathways created in my brain by years of habit and consistency. Making snap judgments about situations or people based on what I see with just my eyes.

Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. I Sam 16:7

For grace to be possible, I give up my right to be right. To believe the best in others. To remember that I never have all the information. And that, above all, love and acceptance is far more powerful than judgement and condemnation.

Lord, let me be known by the grace I give.

Change

Can someone ever really change?  Like change permanently?

I was laying in bed trying to sleep (on my back) and I started wondering about change.  You see, I was a Stomach Sleeper and a few years ago I realized that sleeping on my stomach was BAD.   Someone told me.  It gives you wrinkles on your face.   Flattens your breasts.   Hurts your back.   Whatever, I heard lots of stories, lots of reasons.   My chiropractor confirmed it.   So, I decided to change.   I would become a Back Sleeper.  I just made up my mind and that was that.  Right?  Ha.

Turns out, it’s very very hard to change the way you sleep.  I would toss and turn, and flip and turn, until I finally went to sleep on my back.  and then I would wake up on my stomach…with a lower back ache.   Finally, after months and months, I finally got used to it and proudly called myself a Back Sleeper!  That is until about a week ago.  Once again, I find myself turning and flipping again….fighting the back sleeping, waking up with a sore lower back.

I know, this seems all very mundane…not the tragic tale I think it is when I’m struggling to sleep in the middle of the night–fighting the urge to flip over.  But, it’s made me think about change.  Am I a Stomach Sleeper who sleeps on my back?  or can I one day call myself a Back Sleeper?

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post.   So can I be a regular blogger, and then just stop? If I only write things occasionally, am I not a regular blogger?  That’s not who I am anymore?  I used to be angry a lot.  Angry.  Now it takes a lot to get me angry.  Oh sure, I still get mad sometimes, but that’s not who I am anymore.

I know 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that once we go from depending on ourselves, to depending on Christ, we become a new creation or a new person.  At this hour of the night, I’m really not sure what that has to do with how I sleep…

You see, this is why I don’t write much anymore…I have thoughts, but no way to wrap them up neatly.  So, I’m going back to bed now…to sleep on my back….peacefully.   I suppose it would be a good idea to depend on Christ to help me with that.

Night. 🙂

My Eulogy-second attempt

So, what will they say about me when I’m gone?  and when I say “they”, I mean my family, my friends, my kids, everyone.  Wow, that’s an overwhelming thought.  Maybe because they wouldn’t all say the same thing exactly.

I don’t know how to start, so I’ll just start…probably in the middle.

Cari’s not here anymore. She’s in a better place. Nope, no cliches. Right now, as we stand/sit looking at all of these beautiful flowers, drinking in their fragrant aroma (I hope the irony here is not lost on you), she is sitting at the feet of Jesus worshipping Him and breathing deep His fragrant Spirit.  Experiencing, for the first time, the smell of grass, flowers, fall, and babies. (OK, maybe we’ll leave out the part about the smelling…I haven’t landed on anything for certain yet.) Moving on…

At some point in her life, Cari, (“they” will say my name alot, because I like that) found herself following Jesus, but she was so far away from Him, she could barely see to follow.  It’s hard to follow someone when you can’t see them.  So, Cari prayed.  It was awkward and disconnected, but she prayed and kept on praying.  Begging God to come closer.  Begging Him to give her a hunger and desire for Him and His Word, the Bible.  God answered Cari, probably with tears of joy and relief and thankfulness in His eyes.  “Of course”, He said.

So, God came closer.  Close enough for Cari to see and follow.  She found peace and comfort in His closeness.   Cari fell in love with God’s words…she ate them up.   God began to speak to her through His word and she found that all she wanted was to know God better.  So, she prayed some more–praying God’s words back to Him.  Praying for the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that she might know God better. Eph 1:17 Nothing else** mattered more than Knowing God and sharing His Love.

**We’re always idealistic at funerals (or memorials), so we won’t talk about my weaknesses or character flaws.  (Those all seem to fade from memory once a person passes anyway–thank goodness.)  We’re gonna pretend that “nothing else” isn’t an exaggeration. 🙂

So, go eat some cake, seek to truly know God,  and don’t forget to grab a lock of Cari’s hair on your way out. That’s gross, I’m just kidding.  Not about the cake part, just the hair.

I know there’s some big chunks missing in all of this, but it’s harder than you’d think.  I’m not finished yet.

My Testimony-part 4

God is just so gracious.   Full of grace, understanding, patience, and love for His children.

After that first week at church, I had to go back for more.  I went the next week by myself, dressed more casually this time so as to blend in better with the crowd.  The following week, Sunday fell on October 31.  This is the week I asked Kevin to join me.  He agreed, so we finally went to church together. The message was on tithing.  Really?  My husbands first time to church in several years, and the church is asking for our  money?  But the crazy thing was, that it all made sense.  It was like I had always believed that was true.  Everything.

Well, we gave up 10% of our income that weekend.  Tithing truly was the beginning of a new chapter for us.  Seeing our money as something God provided helped us change how we spent it.

Anyway, I’m not going through the next 10 years here, but I’ll just say that I have learned that God is my provider, my teacher, my friend, my Savior.   I’ve spent some of the last 10 years fighting it, drifting away, running back.  And I’m so grateful that God is more than I could ever understand.  I’ll spend the rest of my life calling on Him, seeking Him, and worshiping Him in my own imperfect way.

I can’t write the end of the story yet, because it’s not over.  There is still so much more that God wants to do for me, in me, and through me and I don’t want to miss a thing.  Tonight at church Christine Caine said that if you woke up this morning and there was not a chalk line around your body, God still has a plan for your life.      Amen!   So, stay close to Him–listening to God so that you don’t miss what He has for you!

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…