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This is ironic for a history major…

I’m not going to lie about this, but I love my church. The reason why I started and stayed going is because my pastor is awesome.  His messages are relevant and thought-provoking and always make want to dive more into the Bible to keep learning.

The past few weeks, the messages have been about the book of Philippians which is really cool because two of my girlfriends and I did a 4 week Bible study of our own on it. So I was excited that we were going to be breaking it down even further on Sunday mornings. Every week I feel like I’m learning something new and it’s been pretty cool when something jumps out at me that I didn’t realize before even if I’ve read it a billion times.

With the new year being here, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my past. I’m not entirely happy with everything that happen. I don’t try to dwell in it (which is ironic as I am a history major), but sometimes you can’t help it. The past just comes up and creeps up on you when you’re least expecting it. And it can hurt. It can make you ignore all the good things that you are currently experiencing and just overtake you with painful memories. Things that you want to forget, mistakes you made, regrets of what you could have or should have done instead. It can be hard. People will tell you to just buck up and to not focus on it. It’s not that simple however.

Things in your past can make you hesitant about your future. You’re scared to do things because you got hurt in the past. And you don’t want to go through that again. If your past seems to keep repeating itself no matter how hard you try to avoid it, it can get frustrating to the point to where you want to give up. Because it seems like there’s nothing you can do to stop repeating the cycle.

But it can be done. You don’t have to let the past control you. You can learn from it. You can focus on what is ahead. And even if the past keeps coming back, you have to stay focused on your goal. And so this is a passage we studied on Sunday, that I’m choosing to focus on this week. My past doesn’t define me. It has molded and shaped me to who I am today. But at the same time, it’s not going to control me. And I’m going to keep moving forward.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (Philippians 3:12-15) 

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2013: It was the best of times, It was the worst of times

2013_2014-in-Sand-724x479

This week, my posts will be taking a look back at 2013 and looking forward to 2014. Monday’s post was about all my firsts for 2013 while Friday’s post will be about how geeky 2013 was for me.

I made my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 in a ski mountain resort in western Maryland where 5 of my closest friends and I had spent the past few days enjoying winter activities (or for me falling continuously down a mountain). My New Years Resolutions for 2013 were:

  1. Go out of my comfort zone more
  2. Read at least 200 books this year
  3. Be more awesome

It’s safe to say I did all three of them. I’ve briefly talked about #1 on Monday. We’ll talk more about #2 on Friday.

2012 had been a really good year for me. It’s one of the few times in my life when I can honestly say I was happy for almost the entire year. 2011 had been such a crap-shoot year that 2012 was such a wonderful blessing in how awesome it ended up being. Sure, there was that one month that sucked really bad but other than that, it was one of the best years of my life. (Although when I look back at that crappy month, there may have been something good that came out of it, but only time will tell.) And I had hoped that 2013 would be the same way.

But to be honest, 2013 didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. There were so many ups and downs this past year that I’m surprised I didn’t throw up from having motion sickness. Then again, how many times can one really say they got everything they wanted? Still, overall I would have to say it was a rather good year. A solid B+.

I’m not going to go over EVERYTHING that happened this year. This is already a long entry as it is and doing that would make it a LONG LONG LONG blog post which you don’t want to read and honestly I don’t want to write.

I turned 30. It wasn’t so bad. I celebrated twice with my best friends. It was quite awesome.

I started paper journaling for the first time in many years. I talked about it in an earlier post but since I started writing in actual journals this year, I’ve filled up seven journals. Writing in them has been very therapeutic as it helps to keep the initial emotional outburst from not being put on social media. Which that eventually led to the creation of this blog. For which I’m really enjoying writing and I hope you’ve been enjoying reading.

And in case you wanted to know, these are the top most-read posts of this year (and basically since this blog started):

  1. The Girl Who Waited
  2. Trusting God When Things Seem Impossible
  3. The Elephant in the Room
  4. Silence is Golden…or Is It?
  5. It Comes in Pints?!

I lost my job in March and was unemployed for almost seven months. That was a very rough time for me. A deer hit my car during those months causing the car to be totaled and forcing me to buy a new car. It was absolutely rotten timing. But even through all the frustration and disappointments of job searching, interviews, and lack of funds coming in, I knew that God was going to provide and protect me throughout the entire process. And I KNEW he was going to give me a new job before the end of the year. Even though there were other parts of my life I was freaking out over, I always remained confident and at peace about my job situation.

Like I said on Monday, I had a lot of firsts. And I’m really proud at how many of them there were. I’ll just state this again, I’m a completely different person now than I was just a few years ago. And I’m really happy at how far along I progressed in 2013.

2013 was the first year of being completely single in almost a decade. Well, maybe not emotionally single for part of the year.  But God has finally closed doors on where they needed to be closed and in His timing, new ones will open.

When 2013 started there was something I wanted to happen this year. It was something I prayed about constantly, not that God would MAKE it happen but for Him to just guide me throughout the entire year to either prepare me for it or prepare me to not have it. I was told by a friend “Make sure you don’t put God in a box. Make sure you’re not telling him that he has to do things a certain way before you proceed.” Good advice.

My faith has increasingly grown throughout this year. Through all the ups and downs, through my frustrations and struggles, through the good times and the bad, I’ve kept turning to God through it all. And He’s never left me or forsaken me. He’s brought people in my life to help me get through the not so fun times. He protected me from any bodily injury when a deer hit me and totaled my car. He’s given me clarity and wisdom to get through all these times. And even when I still don’t understand why things happened the way they do, I’m trusting that He knows why.

As I stated above, my most read post this year is “The Girl Who Waited”. And that’s how I’ve seen myself this year. Last year I was “The Girl on Fire”, this year I was the girl who waited. I feel right now that’s what God wants me to continue being. Instead of rushing to make things happen immediately, I waited on a lot of things this year. Everything I waited on didn’t always happen the way I wanted it to but God has shown me wisdom throughout the waiting. I’m not saying I’ve mastered patience (far from it!) but I know God’s been walking with me throughout all this wait. And I feel that at this very moment, he wants me to wait just a little bit more.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

I don’t know what 2014 is going bring into my life. There is a lot of uncertainty but there’s also a clean, fresh slate. I learned a lot of lessons in 2013. The goal for 2014 is to learn from those lessons. I approach this new year with hope. Yes, it could be awful. Yes, the world could end this year. Yes, there is a chance I will look at a bow and arrow and still wonder how to make it work. But there is also the chance that things could be really good for me this year. And Lord willing, I’ll be ready for whatever happens and that He will be with me throughout every step of the way.

So, 2014? BRING. IT. ON. Challenge accepted.

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In Time….This is The End

Oh brother I can’t, I can’t get through
I’ve been trying hard to reach you, cause I don’t know what to do
Oh brother I can’t believe it’s true
I’m so scared about the future and I wanna talk to you
Oh I wanna talk to you

– “Talk” by Coldplay

As I’ve grown older, my relationships with my friends have become one of the most important thing in my life. I didn’t have very many close friends growing up. I had a few but they didn’t last long or I was in part of a bigger group but never had a best friend like others did. Now as I’ve reached 30, I’ve found that I’d rather have a smaller group of very close friends that I can grow with in life as we all share experiences together. And one of the hardest thing about this is when one of those friends decides that they want the friendship to be over, and you aren’t ready for it.

It’s extremely tough and painful to accept the fact of when a friendship is over. It can be akin to a breakup but I think that losing a friendship is even worse. Boyfriends/girlfriends come and go, heck husbands and wives sometimes even. But losing a good and very close friend is harder because when you’ve built up that relationship, they can be very difficult to replace. And you may not even want to replace them…we’re not back in middle school anymore trading friends in cliques.

The worst feeling I think is that it can feel like all the years of your friendship now feel like a waste. Sure, you have good memories. Yes there were happy times. But when the friendship just dies, it feels like all the time, energy, effort…everything you put into the relationship feels like it was a waste. Especially when you can’t figure out what you did wrong.  If you had closure then you could put it behind you and walk away. But when you don’t know, it hurts. Instead of answers, you’re just left with silence. And sometimes you didn’t do anything wrong at all.There are some people who just aren’t good with closing things out. They don’t want to deal with messy so they just disappear and hope that you will eventually get the hint. It sucks like hell when that happens in a breakup, but when it happens in a friendship, it can be even worse. When your repeated attempts to figure out what happened don’t get reciprocated, you’re left with the feeling that the other person didn’t care as much as you did.

Sometimes you won’t ever get that closure. And you have to deal with it and move on. For me, lots of prayer has been and will continue to take place. I feel like there’s an empty spot in my life/heart right now. Not to sound all “Christian-y” but I know that God will fill it back soon. Whether that’s with other things, other people, or even God himself, I know that the gap in my heart won’t stay open and vulnerable forever. I wonder sometimes why God brings people into our lives only to take them away because it seems like it was a waste of time on everyone’s part. But ultimately God has his reasons and even though I don’t know why all this happened this way, someday I know I will understand.

I love how God directs me to what he wants me to know are his words that I need to read. I found this passage in Psalms one day during a particularly rough day. I have probably read it many times before and just glanced over it. But on that day, God knew that I needed to read it and all of a sudden it described exactly how I felt. I cannot tell you how perfectly this passage fit me at the time. I remember crying when I read it because it was as if David had written the passage about me. However, it was also comforting in the fact that I knew God had led me to read this. And then it gave me hope as well as to what to place my faith and trust in.

Psalm 55: 1-2, 4-8, 12-17, 20-22; 23b

Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me
and I am distraught

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
and stay in the desert
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”

If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.

As for me, I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.

My companion attacks his friends;
he violates his covenant.
His talk is smooth as butter,
yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
yet they are drawn swords.

Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.

But as for me, I trust in you.

Truth be told, I don’t know what will happen next. Perhaps God has closed the door on this friendship for good. Or maybe it’s just for a season now where we’re not going to be friends. I don’t know. There’s a lot of letting go, waiting, and trusting in God that’s going to have to be done here. Sound familiar? I think that’s been the main theme of this blog…and my rebooted life.

Slightly topical, here’s another excellent article from Relevant, this time about when a friendship is draining and what are signs that you should be looking for to see if you need to end it.

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Right now, doors are my mortal enemy

RoomOfDoors

Bear in mind this is sort of a rambling post. There’s been a lot going in my mind lately.

In my never-ending quest to trying to figure out what is going on in my life, I’ve realized that sometimes I feel like it’s a never-ending hallway full of doors. If you’ve read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, then you know of the scene that takes place in the Ministry of Magic with the doors. For the rest of you Muggles out there (that’d be non Wizarding folk), Harry and his friends find themselves in a room that’s full of doors and they don’t know which door to go through at first. All the doors are locked and they are trying to figure how to get in. And that’s how I’m feeling right now. I see all these doors, but I don’t know how to get in.

One of the things that I struggle with is knowing when a door has been really shut and when I’m just being stupid and ignoring the fact that it is. It all comes down to letting go of control, trusting in God and just waiting. I know all about that. I’ve written about (see evidence in those links). But sometimes it’s still hard. Because you don’t know what you should do. And even after prayer, reading the Bible, asking for advice, and surrendering, the answer still isn’t all that clear. And God seems silent.

There have been times when I know a door has been shut in my life. Relationships, jobs, school, things I wanted to happen. The door is shut so firmly and with a loud bang that it’s so completely obvious. And even though I didn’t understand at the time why the door was closed, I still KNEW it had been shut.

Looking back, one amusing “door slam shut” story involved a guy that I started to become aware of possibly being interested in. I didn’t fully like him but I was gathering the notion of what it would be to like him. I told a girlfriend the next day, and she was the first person who I had told, heck I had just barely admitted it to myself. I ended up hanging out with him and a few friends that night, and I’m starting to think “Hmm I can see this working”. An hour passes and we’re all talking, and one friends asks the guy “Oh, where did these [food items] come from?” He replies, “My girlfriend…..who I started dating yesterday.” I was floored. After I got my jaw off the ground, I had to laugh because I knew then that God had immediately slammed that door shut before I had even gotten the chance to get it open more than a tiny crack. Eventually it all worked out for the best as they are now engaged and I’m really happy for them. But it was just amusing because I KNEW God had done this and stopped it before it could even get started.

But then there are other times when I’ve tried to close a door and God will NOT let it close. I’ve begged, pleaded, cried, walked away with the intention of never trying to open it again, only to have it swing wide back open again. But when I walk back towards the door, I can’t walk through it or it starts to shut slowly again. And I don’t know why it’s happening. Because if I were to sit there and wait for that door on my own, I’m expecting a long and painful wait. I’ve prayed a lot about it. And right now I feel that God is telling me that it’s ok to walk away from that door now, but he’s still leaving it open. I’m not really looking back at the door and I feel like I’m not the one that’s meant to go through it first. I wish that the door would stay shut so that I could freely move on, but perhaps that’s not what God wants for me right now. Meanwhile there’s another door ahead of me that does seem open but I can’t get to it yet. That’s also slightly frustrating because that door feels like it finally opened and I want to go in there. I may be slightly impatient as I’m stuck in that big waiting room.

A friend once told me that if God wants to close a door in your life, no matter how hard you push and shove, it will not budge open. Likewise if he wants to keep it open, I will never be able to pull that door shut no matter how hard I try.

So basically the only thing I can do right now is just keep doing everything I have been. And pray that even though I don’t know why everything is happening the way things are going now, that in the future I’ll understand.

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How You Can’t Really Know but You Can Prepare

I’m banking on the fact that a lot of folks won’t be reading this due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Then again if you’re reading this, you’ve just proved me wrong. I’ll start by wishing to those who are celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year and even when time have been rough, I’ve found plenty of things to be grateful for. Like this blog for example.

So last week I got real with y’all and talked about THINGS. And so now it’s basically public knowledge of where I’ve been, where I stand, and where I want to go with things. If folks who know me are still clueless about everything, at this point I’ve done all I can.

The future looks scary because it’s unknown and it’s all new. Wanting to date. That’s weird. I didn’t think I’d be here again. And it’s all changed so much since I was in college doing this. Then again, I was very young and stupid in college so I wouldn’t want to relieve those days again.

If you’ve ever hung out with me in great detail then you know how I like to be prepared (yes, here we go again with my like for spoilers). I just want to make sure I have a good knowledge of what’s coming ahead. That is why I read tourbooks for Disney World every year in hopes that one day I can really go and experience the park. I like to prepare for worst case scenarios. I even went out and got every book from the library on “How to be a bridesmaid” after being asked my best friends to be in their wedding. Yes, I am that type of person.

And while I know fully well that no book or manual or guide or book of magical spells will every fully prepare you for what happens when you date, fall in love, have heart broken, repeat, repeat, repeat, find person who wants to marry you, etc., it still doesn’t hurt to learn and prepare during your time of waiting. The first time I did this, I wasn’t prepared at all, I will admit. Now as I’ve grown up and I’m wiser, I want to be ready. There will of course still be a lot to learn but at least now I have a better idea of what to expect. I also know that there are some people who will say they don’t need any help at all. And that’s fine. I just know that I will take help when I can.

Disclaimer: I don’t necessarily agree with EVERYTHING I’m about to list but there are key points that I do find helpful in these things. I also don’t expect you to agree with everything either.

Books:

The Sacred Search by Gary L. Thomas

Real Men Don’t Text by Ruthie and Michael Dean. On a personal note: reading this book was like reading the last two years of my life 😦

Cupidity: 50 Things People Do for Love and How to Avoid Them by Hayley and Michael DiMarco

The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass by Mandy Hale

True Love Dates by Debra Fileta

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

Reclaiming Your Heart by Denise Hildreth Jones

Online sermon series:

If you think church is boring and stale and isn’t relevant, then you should take a listen to these two sermon series. The pastors are really easy to listen to, use humor, but are also very frank with what they have to say. I wish more churches would talk about these subjects as I know there are many singles, dating, and even married couples in the church who can benefit from hearing this.

Andy Stanley – 4 part sermon series “The New Rules of Love, Sex and Dating” “Are you who the person you are looking for is looking for?”

  • Part One – The Right Person Myth (Don’t Fall for the “right person” Myth”
  • Pat Two – The Gentleman’s Club (Women should be honored, and not treated like a commodity)
  • Part Three – Designer Sex (Sex is so much more than physical)
  • Part Four – If I Were You (Prepare for a Successful Marriage)

Perry Noble – 5 part sermon series “Don’t Get Married Until…

  • Part One – You Hear From God
  • Part Two – You’re Willing to Be a Man
  • Part Three – You’re Willing to be a Woman
  • Part Four – Q&A with the pastor and his wife
  • Part Five – You Deal with Your Junk

So there you go. These are resources that I found helpful. Maybe there’s someone out there who will as well. I just know that, personally, I want to do as much that I can to make things work whenever it’s time. Even though I can’t control or know how “he” is going to be, at least this time I can’t look back and say I wish I had known all these things before hand. All this is being done with a lot of prayer, a lot of trusting in God, and a lot of faith.

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The Elephant in the Room

elephant

So it is time that we acknowledged it.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I’ve talked a lot about being single and how it’s been a struggle trusting God and waiting during this time period. However, if you are someone who used to follow my old blog and/or you know me in real life but we aren’t super close, then you are probably somewhat confused and have been wondering things for a while but was just afraid to ask.

So to answer your unasked question, I am currently single and I didn’t used to be. I got married when I was 24 and got divorced when I was 28. Out of respect for my ex-husband and because the entire world doesn’t need to know, I am not going to state publicly the reason for our divorce. However, if I am asked about it (and I know you somewhat), I don’t mind talking about it.

As a Christian, divorce can be a very touchy subject. Even when I was going through my own process, it was something that I had to pray a lot about and went through counseling before finally making the decision. It was a hard and tough one to make, quite possibly the most difficult decision I ever made. It’s not something you think about doing when you start the relationship (at least I hope the majority of people don’t do it). It’s definitely not something to be taken lightly. When I finally made the decision, I knew that I was going to lose a lot. I lost a lot of friendships.The biggest things were all the hopes and dreams that I had. I also had to rebuild myself up; my self-esteem and confidence from feeling like I wasn’t worthy or good enough.

I believe due to the nature of the reason of the divorce, I haven’t received any outward negative reactions from most people. One thing I was terrified of was being judged, especially by other Christians because of what it says in the Bible about divorce. And I know that there are people out there who do judge me. I will say this: before you judge me (or anyone else basically), unless you have gone through what I’ve gone through you will never know what it was like for me and you cannot tell me what I should have done or what you would have done instead. I made the decisions that was best for me in my situation and I have not regretted my choices and no matter what anyone says to me, I will not feel guilty for what happened. However, if there are people who are judging me horribly, they haven’t let me know right to my face. Instead I have found love, caring, and understanding in the people I have shared this with.

It is a bit weird sometimes to relate with other divorced women in the church. As I was only 28 when it was finalized (and I had been separated much earlier), I’m still quite young compared with most other women. They tended to be in the 40s+ and with children. And their situations are completely different from mine.

There have been though some amazing and things that have come out of all this. First and foremost, my faith in God has skyrocketed. During the worst parts of all this, I felt so alone and abandoned by everyone, including God. I was so angry at him for having all this happen and I blamed him for everything. But looking back, I realize that he never left me. He was protecting me the whole time and keeping me from harm. Even during the absolute worst time, I was in the final weeks of graduate school and I had two huge papers that I needed to write, and I have no idea how I was able to concentrate and get it done and I somehow walked away with a B+ and an A. Since then, I’ve never stopped seeking God and wanting to learn more from him.

I’ve also found that I’ve had to do things to step out of my comfort zone. Because I was finding myself being alone, I knew that I had to reach out other people even though (as I’ve stated) I hate initiating things. My church has an active young adult group and I forced myself to attend so I could find community and not be alone. Even though it was horrible rough and awkward for me at first, I kept going and that has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Through doing that, I’ve found some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life, who continually show me love and have been there every time I needed someone. I found that I didn’t have to go through it alone. I cannot thank them enough for being there during those horrible rough times and I know that God specifically placed them in my life. I have been blessed so much that I feel like I can never repay them and I continue to so thankful for them. In fact, my church in general has been wonderful throughout all this, showing and providing me support when I didn’t think it was possible.

My specific situation has also seen so much good come out of it. I’ve been able to share my story with other people and I’ve seen God specifically work in their lives because of it. It makes me look back and realize that even through a horrible mess God can create something beautiful. One of my very favorite stories ever of God working in my life is me being able to share my story with someone, who at the time I had known for about a week and a half. God kept nudging and telling me to share my story, which I kept resisting because I barely knew the person. Then I literally felt God hit me on the head to speak, and so I  finally shared not knowing why I was doing this (as I hadn’t shared my story with even my closest friends) and just trusted God. Nothing was said that night to explain the reason and I felt rather foolish doing it. But then it was revealed to me a few weeks later exactly why I shared and that spiraled off into so much good, that it can’t be denied how much God was working in our lives. Since then if God tells me to do something, I don’t resist him anymore.

So there have been many things I’ve learned and been blessed from God from this.

I’m not saying I’m in an ideal situation though. Being divorced still has somewhat of a stigma. I can’t hide it and I’m not going to. Sometimes though it almost feels like a label. If the option is there, I have to choose divorced. If someone can’t accept the fact that I’m divorced and that becomes a deal breaker, I have to accept it. We all come with baggage, I just come with some that I can’t hide. There are many people who believe that I should never get married again, and I have committed a horrible sin. As I do want to start dating again now, it can possibly be a very uphill road to climb. There are guys who will only want girls who have never been married and will never look twice at me once I reveal it to them. It’s sometimes hard to not be jealous of my friends who are going through all the events I’d thought I’d be experiencing now. It’s harder to wait and hope that one day it will eventually happen to me.

But it’s going to be ok. I’ve become a much stronger person because of this. If you were to see me four years ago and then see me now, you wouldn’t recognize me. Heck I barely even recognize myself. It seems like a completely different life time ago. I’ve basically become a different, better, and stronger person because of all this. It’s been an adventure and it’s going to continue to be one. I never thought I’d find myself in this place again, I thought I was done with dating and all the emotions that come with it.  It’s not going to be all fun and games as broken hearts, unrequited love, awkward times, all that jazz will and have already happened.

But you know what? I’m excited about it. I feel that I have a different approach and mindset now than I did before, mostly coming from being older and wiser. I have learned a lot from my past and I believe that when it’s time, I’ll enter a new relationship with a better expectations and with a new way of approaching things. God’s put me in this time and place for a reason and I choose to trust him with all this. I’ve gotten a chance to have a reboot in my life, and my goal is to make it worth it. I still believe that God has in his plans for me to get married and eventually have a family. He has continued to place that desire in my heart and so with a lot of prayer I wait for that day, trusting that God will be faithful and fulfill his promise.

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

0

Silence is Golden…or is it?

silence

What’s your relationship with silence?

  • I enjoy it
  • I want more of it in my life
  • I like a little background noise
  • I am uncomfortable with it

Silence can be both a blessing and a curse.

When you live with constant noise all the time, you crave silence. You want peace and quiet and you don’t want to be distracted by anything. Getting away from everything helps out a lot. You need to find a place where you can relax and just bask in the sounds of nothingness. Going away on a retreat can really help with this. By turning off your cell phones and not checking in with the rest of the world can be the most refreshing thing you can ever do. I’ve been in the mountains of West Virginia where it is absolutely silent. When the night arrives and the stars come out and are RIGHT THERE, with all the quiet surrounding me I feel really close to God. I welcome the silence then.

But then there are times when silence feels like a curse. These times basically come during times of waiting. (I am sensing a repeating theme here). When you are waiting to hear if you got the job or not. When you’re waiting to see if people will respond to an RSVP. When you’ve contacted someone and you’re waiting for them to reply with a text or call.  When you’ve never gone more than a few days without talking to someone who’s been extremely close to you, and then suddenly they disappear completely out of your life and you have no idea why or what happened. That’s when silence become your enemy. The silence can be suffocating. It feels like you can’t push it away not matter how hard you try. You feel trapped in it and the quiet and stillness that you once welcomed for its comfort now has got a death grip on you. It’s filled with so many unanswered questions as you sit there and wait and don’t hear anything. The quiet that was once peaceful is now so loud with the sound of uncertainty, fear, and doubt.

And then there’s silence from God:

  • “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)
  • “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2)
  • “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” (Psalm 22:1-2)
  • To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. (Psalm 28:1-2)

Even King David felt that there were times when God seemed so far away. When you feel like your prayers are just going to the ceiling and you’re not getting any feedback. How many times have you cried out to God only to not hear back anything? And it’s frustrating when you want an answer…any answer. Yes or no. Just a sign to know that he’s there and you’re not just saying words to the air. “Lord, just throw me a bone here! Give me something to work with!”

And yet it’s in that very painful and raw silence that God works the most in you. I don’t know about you but even though I’m not getting an answer immediately, I’m still continuing to keep turning to God. Unlike human beings, God has not left me and he hasn’t forsaken me. God is never too busy for me when I need to talk to him. He’s not going to leave me hanging and wondering if I’ve done something to offend him or if he just wanted to end our relationship.

Even though I don’t understand at all why things are going in my life the way they are, I know that I can trust in the fact that God DOES know and he is in charge of everything. And because of this truth and faith, I know that there is a reason why he isn’t answering me at this moment. It’s frustrating, yes. And if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I don’t like waiting and I want an answer.

But it doesn’t mean that God will always stay silent. There have been and will be times when God’s answer is so loud and clear that you cannot ignore it no matter how hard you try. And because I know God will always answer, I’ll take his silence for now, until I’m ready for his answer.

  • Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 4:1)
  • Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)

Jon Acuff wrote this wonderful (and actually serious) post a while back about The Beautiful Reason God Might Not Be Talking to You Right Now. I love this post so much because it describes my walk with God to a T. Also another excellent article from Relevant, What to Remember When God is Silent.

(PS If you understand the picture in this post, you are awesome and we are friends)

0

Tweeting thoughts from someone wiser than me

If you follow me on twitter (@beatccr for those who don’t), then this post is going to be basically a repeat of things you’ve already seen from my twitter feed.

For the past few months, I’ve been following @thesinglewoman on twitter. Mandy Hale, also know as The Single Woman, is a blogger and author of the book The Single Woman: Life, Love & a Dash of Sass. I’ve really enjoyed her book as it’s been really helpful and inspiring to me over the past few months. She also tweets A LOT of inspiring thoughts, quotes, and excerpts from her book. And I feel like there have been times when the perfect tweet from just jumps out at me. Apparently it’s happened MANY times.

Here’s a list of all the tweets of hers that I’ve retweeted over the past few months. No, I don’t retweet everything. These are just ones that stood out to me, that came at times when I knew I needed to see/hear them.

  • It hurts to let go. It hurts more to hold onto someone who doesn’t want to be there.
  • Sometimes all you can do is let go, trusting that if it’s meant to be…it’ll stick around.
  • If you take a chance, good things might happen or bad things might happen. But if you don’t take a chance, nothing happens.
  • I’d rather respect you for hurting me with honesty than resent you for “protecting me” with a lie.
  • The moment will come when you know exactly why things happened as they did.  It may take some time but it will come.
  • You can’t force something to happen. All you can do is surrender and trust that what is meant to be will find a way.
  • When you stop trying to MAKE things happen on your timetable and surrender, you invite God to show up and work miracles.
  • Prayer:  God I trust you to give me what YOU want, when you want according to YOUR plan not mine.
  • The things you don’t stress tend to turn out best. Trust and let go.
  • Sometimes all you can do is let go and let God figure it out for you.
  • Prayer:  God I trust in your plan and I know that everything I don’t understand now will make perfect sense later.
  • You will get to where you need to be in your own time. Until then breathe and be patient with yourself and your process.
  • “It will all work out in the end. Have faith in your self and leave the rest to God.” – Leon Brown
  • There is no one and no force strong enough to close a door that God intends for you to walk through.
  • It’s better to try and be disappointed than to not try and always wonder.
  • Prayer:  God help me to let go of my need to know what’s going to happen next and to Just. Trust. You.
  • You may not see it or understand it now, but everything in your life is unfolding as it should. Trust the process.
  • Prayer:  Thank you God that things happen when they’re meant to happen, not in my time but at the PERFECT time.
  • When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing. Relax. Breathe. Trust. Let go.
  • Strength is choosing to get up and get on with it even if you never understand why something happened the way it did.
  • Prayer:  God, thank you that I don’t have to stress, rush or force.  What you have for me always arrives right on time.
  • Letting go doesn’t mean you stop caring. It means you stop trying to force others to.
  • Be patient. With time, everything becomes clear.
  • We’re not meant to see the picture all at once. God hands us each piece of the puzzle as we’re ready for it.
  • Prayer: God thank you that even when things happen that don’t make sense, I can always trust in your plan.
  • Some things aren’t to be understood. Sometimes you just have to let go and move on, trusting that clarity will come later.
  • If everything you pray for came to you right now, you wouldn’t be able to handle it. Trust in God’s perfect timing.
  • “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams
  • When you learn to surrender and let go rather than cling and control, everything falls into place as it should.
  • Prayer:  God, I surrender to your plan, whether it lines up with your completely deviates from my own.
  • If you stopped calling, inviting, doing all the work, would they still be in your life? If the answer is no, let them go.
  • When you step back and look at the big picture, you will see that things happened exactly the way they needed to. TRUST.
  • Sometimes all you can do is sit in the sweet surrender of not knowing how it’s going to turn out, but choosing to be happy anyways.
  • When you stop banging on the closed doors, you give God room to open up the ones you’re meant to walk through.
  • When you let go of what you think is “supposed” to happen you’re free to enjoy whatever DOES happen.
  • Prayer:  God, thank you for bringing me things when I’m ready for them and not one moment sooner.
  • Love can’t be forced Sometimes all you can do is take a step back and let them figure out how they feel.
  • When you accept the things you cannot change, anxiety, worry, and stress disappear.
  • A good way to know who’s really meant to be in your life? Let go and let God decide who stays and who goes.
  • When it seems as nothing is happening, you are in a season of preparation for everything that’s coming next.
  • Never lose hope. Even the most ordinary moment can set the stage for the most extraordinary miracle.
  • You can let go without fear. The only things and people you will lose are the ones that aren’t meant to be there.
  • Faith says that even though you can’t see that breakthrough, that answer, that blessing…it’s on it’s way.
  • It’s often in the moment when you finally surrender and admit that you don’t know what to do that God shows you what to do.
  • Just because it’s not happening the way you thought doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. God loves to do the unexpected.
  • Don’t get discouraged if it seems nothing’s happening. A season of waiting and preparation always precedes the breakthrough.

Again I swear I didn’t retweet everything. These all just happen to be exactly what I needed to hear and read. Though it’s quite scary how much they fit what’s going on in my life. It’s given me a lot to think and pray about as I struggle with and try to understand things that are going on in my life. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to share my stories like this to other folks like she does. But until then, I’ll keep being encouraged and inspired.

2

Clenched Fists vs Open Hands

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Letting go of control is hard.

You want your life to go a certain way and you keep trying to do everything you can possible to make it happen. This however can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety in your life.

I think it’s because I’m female that I feel like I need to control things in my life. As women, we sometimes (ok mostly) think that if we had things go our way then everything will run as they should. I know that I tend to let my emotions take control of my actions and reactions, and that in turn causes havoc in my life.

The hardest part of letting go of trying to control everything is basically learning how to trust. For me, that goes back to trusting in God that he can and will handle any situation that I’m finding myself wanting to control. When the anxiety and the stress take over my life, to the point where I’m having panic attacks and freaking out over situations that haven’t and may never happen, then I know that I need to stop.

And the honest truth? It’s hard to not want to control that. When things aren’t going as you originally planned and you’re facing the unexpected unknown, it can get scary. As I’ve said before, I’m not good with not knowing how things are going end up. I want things to go the way I want.

Part of me has always been scared to just let go and let things happen. I have always had this fear that if I didn’t involve myself somehow that nothing would ever get done. For example, one of my biggest fears is that if I wasn’t the one to initiate contact with my friends, that they would never do it themselves and that it was only me that was keeping the friendship going. Soon I realized that if that’s truly the type of person that they are, to quote Incubus, “Goodbye, nice to know you.”

So it has been a bit of a weird day as I continue to write this blog post. I have been struggling for the past couple of days on an issue where I know God has told me to wait and trust him, to let go of the control, and to let him take over. But at the same time, I’ve been wondering if God just wants me to sit there and do nothing. After having a particularly rough night, I woke up the next morning only to have the very first thing I read was my Bible study in the book of James about being in the waiting season and how the growing during the waiting is the hardest part. Because as we’re forced to wait, our grumbling wants to take over.

And then I’ve been like “God, I need to know what to do! Tell me what to do!” as I just sit here twiddling my thumbs. Then this article appears about being active while waiting on God. I realized that God doesn’t want me to just be idle while I wait. If I don’t do anything, how can I grow in trusting God when I just let him do everything for me?

  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
  • “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

“Where is the Lord bringing me low today, so that He might lift me up? What am I clenching in my fist that I refuse to see as His? What is it that I long so desperately to build, to control, to call MINE?” (http://shereadstruth.com/2013/09/10/danielday8/)

I was talking with a close friend in the morning and shared that quote, revealing what exactly I’m holding onto in my clenched fist. And how I felt that even though God has made a promise, he still wants me to step out in faith and trust him.  And I can’t do that, until I let go of what is in my clenched fist. Because basically I am putting God in a box, saying to him, “Hey Lord! Sure I trust you! I know that what you said will come true! But you know, I still want things to go a certain way, so I’m going to hold on to some things here, and we’ll just work around it, ok? You still do your thing, but I’m going to keep this in my grasp while you do that.”

Ok you see what’s wrong with that? That’s not how God works at all. You can’t jump off the diving board if you’re still gripping on to the ladder railings. How can you move on and let God work in your life if you won’t let go? So in my own situation, I’m choosing to let go of something I care deeply about. And it’s scary. And I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I’m about to do something, that I never really wanted to do. But I feel that God just wants me to take this next step.  For all I know, many good things could stem from opening this door and I will never look behind me. Or God may just simply want me to open my hands and release all of the control and the things I want the most that I thought never would happen will happen. I don’t know what he has planned next other than I know that he will be with me every step of the way. That’s the beauty and scary part about all this.

As I said, it’s been continuing to be a weird few days. In the afternoon after I had decided how I was going to react to my situation, this article appears on Relevant‘s website about how to “Seek Impact, Not Attention“. In the middle of my freaking out over the way coincidental timing of the post, this part jumped out at me

In life we can live with clenched fists or open hands. A clenched fist signifies a desire to control, a lack of faith and a reluctance to adapt. Open hands signify a servant’s heart, a faith manifested in Holy Spirit promptings, and a persistent asking of “What now, Abba?”

You cannot move beyond the pursuit of getting noticed while living with clenched fists.

Thank you God for answering my prayers by showing me what I needed to read/hear when I asked for wisdom, clarity, and discernment about how to handle what I am going through. Thank you for showing me what you want me to do.  Help me to keep trusting in you and have my faith remain strong in you. And I know what you have promised me and because of that, I will continue to keep obeying you. I know you will never leave me or forsake me. Help me not to be fearful of what is to come.

I’m about to jump off the diving board. I’m letting go of the ladder. My fists are no longer clenched and I’m opening up my hands. I’m letting go and I’m going to let God.

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  • “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel.” (Psalm 73:21-24a)
3

The Girl Who Waited

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I am not good at waiting. I tend to be a very impatient person. When I want something to happen, I want it to happen now. I want to know what’s going to happen. I don’t like having to wait for things or to find out how it’s all going to turn out. In fact I’m rather annoyed that I have to wait several weeks before this blog post gets posted as I’m scheduling it in advance and not publishing it right away!

I’ve said this before, but I like spoilers. Yes I look at the back of the book when I want to know what happens. I don’t like being caught off guard. I’m not really a good person to go see a suspense movie with because I can’t stand the suspense.

So knowing my personality and preferences, it’s really frustrating when God tells you as an answer to your prayer that he just wants you to wait. “Come on God, really? Do you realize how hard this is? Can’t you just tell me what’s going to happen?” Nope that’s not how God works. He’s not like a genie in a bottle that grants wishes. He’s not going to make things go faster just because we want them to happen now. There’s a reason why he wants us to wait. And it’s usually when we finally stop fighting him and allow him to take over that we begin to realize why.

I have found for me that the best times for me to do my quiet time with God is in the car during my commutes. It’s good because, thanks to the lovely Northern Virginia traffic, since I have to sit in traffic there aren’t usually a lot of distractions that take my focus away. And there have been times, when I get severely frustrated with the slowness of how things that God has promised me seem to be progressing. And I tend to yell at God and just tell him how angry I am at him and how I don’t understand why things are going this way and how I don’t believe that what he says is going to happen…basically everything from Trusting God When Things Seem Impossible.

I want to know what exactly am I waiting on (is it what I want or is it something that has yet to be revealed?) and exactly how long am I supposed to be waiting (days, weeks, months, years? Should I be actively waiting or push it aside and forget about it for now?).

And then because I’m hoarse from yelling, I turn on the radio to fill up the silence. And I swear this song comes on the radio EVERY SINGLE FREAKING TIME I started to argue with God about having to wait.

And I’ll kneel down,
Wait for now
I’ll kneel down,
Know my ground

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

‘Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

-“I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons

And yes I know that this song has been super popular and every station seems to be playing it, and also the song is quite ambiguous if it’s about waiting for the person you love or about God. But the fact that the song would come on right when I needed it makes me feel more like it’s a small and subtle reminder from God on what I need to do.

  • “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:21-26)

I’m not going to wait for specific things to happen. I’m not going to put my energy, time, or any part of me sitting around waiting for that one day to come for things I want. I can’t waste my life away. Instead I will wait for God. I will wait with God. The difference is that I am giving him the control and not me trying to make something happen on my own. I will allow him to have things happen in his own time frame and not mine because I realize that it is not the right time yet. God’s laid on my heart what he wants me to do and he’s made me a promise of what is to come. Who am I to try and force his hand?

“Child,” [Aslan] replied, “that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after…….For the fruit always works – it must work- but it does not work happily for any who pluck it at their own will.” – from THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW by C.S. Lewis

A good explanation of why even though you may want something NOW, it’s better to wait. No matter how it good it may be NOW, wait until it’s time and it will even better than you could possibly imagine.

There are two excellent articles from Relevant Magazine that I have found extremely helpful to me during this time period. The first is “Why Won’t God Hurry Up?”, a question I find myself asking all the time. The other “5 Reasons Why God Makes Us Wait” is kind of ironic for me.  The day that article was published, that morning I had literally just had another “Why God? Why am I waiting? Why am I doing this? Why do I have to wait?” conversation with God when I refreshed Relevant’s homepage and then BOOM! That article then appeared on my screen. It was kind of freaky and comforting all at the same time.

  • “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)