Breathe

I’m about to bring a child into my home. In a few months, I will be a foster parent.

I was doing really well until I had my interview with the foster care agency. In the days leading up to it, I practiced answering all the questions I thought they would ask me. I was ready.

They didn’t ask me any of the questions I thought up. They asked me questions about my childhood and my family. Usually, I’m a master at saying the right thing. But I couldn’t put forth my best. Each question became more invasive and I struggled to answer them.

I have this wall that comes up with people. I put up a big front. I’m always positive. When I do talk about painful things, I turn them optimistic every time. I don’t let people in. For example, I have been in a community group for over a year and I think I have had maybe two vulnerable moments. Realizing that this week has been a huge conviction in my heart.

Because when you have your guard up, you cheat yourself and others out of an authentic relationship with you.

In my last post, I talked about my first love. He was the first person I ever let my guard down with. I remember how afraid I was of him. I avoided him in public settings and pushed away any feelings I had for him. But when we were alone, I told him my deepest secrets and hidden dreams. I fell in love with him. I was never the same after that. Once you have a taste of emotional intimacy, you won’t settle for anything else. I went from dating around to wanting commitment.

He changed the direction my life was headed in and for that, I will always be grateful.

I’ve been having flashbacks to that time in my life. There’s a guy in my life that scares the crap out of me. I feel unsettled when we’re talking. I can feel the wall come up when I’m around him. Everything I’m feeling right now is reminiscent of that time in my life with that other guy. I was sitting in my car, waiting to go into a meeting when it hit me:

Fear is the proof we’re on to something important.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think that I’ll end up with this guy. For as much as my guard is up, so is his. Seriously, talking to him feels like we’re bumping matching walls into each other. It’s like I’m having a conversation with him and I hit the wall. But the same thing happens when he talks to me.

No, I don’t think the fear is pointing me to him. I think it’s pointing me to something much deeper. I’m about to welcome a child into my life. This whole “guardedness” has got to stop. Whether I love this child for five days or two years, they need all of me. A whole parent, especially because I’m doing this alone.

So I’m going to try this new thing where I let people in. We’ll see what happens.

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A Week of Stretching

 

I should preface this post by saying that lately, I have gotten into the habit of bottling myself up. I’m one of those people who tends to put up a front. I put my best foot forward, rarely discussing what I’m really going through or how I’m feeling. But I got convicted by that this week so today, I am going to write a super awkward post about probably one of the most ridiculous weeks I’ve had in a long time.

It all started with an Instagram post from this social media influencer I follow (I know, I know. Very millennial of me. I don’t care. Her posts are awesome.)  Anyway, she shared this post about this five day prayer challenge for praying for your future spouse.

Here’s the thing: I don’t pray for my future spouse consistently. I keep meaning to but I always find an excuse not to. It’s just so uncomfortable. I pray when I’m moved by the spirit. I have, however, spent much of my time praying for the men I have fallen for. An act, I would learn later this week is actually super unhealthy. But we’ll get there.

So I felt like this was a good opportunity to grow. I’m all about growing. I signed up for the challenge. I received the first email on Monday.

Day 1: Pray their house isn’t built on sand

Basically, it was about praying that your future spouse loves Jesus fiercely. I spent the morning trying not to pray for the guy I had been pining for the last eight years. I had reached this point a few weeks ago where I decided I was going to move on from him. It was right around the time I decided to be a foster parent.

Day 2: Pray they are breaking ties with every ex-lover

This was actually super convicting for me. On the one hand, they were talking about “lovers” as in idols, so that could be anything that separates your future spouse from God and honestly, loving you. So I was on board with that. The convicting part for me was this little secret I’ve been carrying for over a year.

I still follow my first love on Instagram.

I actually get a lot of enjoyment from knowing what’s going on in his life, because he uses it on a regular basis. It’s not like I still want to be with him or anything. He was just such an important part of my life that I take comfort in knowing he’s okay. But I realized it’s a load of crap and I should probably unfollow him. Actually, I should definitely unfollow him.

Day 3: Pray for “Godly Chemistry”

This one was interesting. It wasn’t talking about chemistry in the traditional sense but rather that “Godly chemistry” has to do with matching purposes. I used to equate this with compatible jobs. For example, I first fell in love with my first love over our shared passions for nonprofit work. I mean, I saw our whole freaking future together. And man, did I argue with God over it. I told God repeatedly why we made sense, what impact we would have if we were together.

The hardest lesson to learn for my little pragmatic heart was that matching purposes between spouses has more to do with how you’re both wired. Elizabeth Elliot describes it in The Mark of a Man by that a man will know his wife because “she comes from your rib bone.” She meant that a man’s wife is a reflection of who he is. Still doesn’t totally make sense to me but I tell my guy friends this all the time.

Day 4: Pray they don’t eat the apple

So I literally prayed this over a month ago, in the spirit. This was about stopping with dating other people. Amen.

Day 5: Pray they are “hiding & seeking”

A very well-known trait of mine is that I like to take the lead in relationships. I have asked out every guy I have ever dated or liked. About three years ago, I realized how sinful my behavior was. Don’t get me wrong – I love a strong, confident woman who knows what she wants and goes for it. But I wasn’t doing it for that reason.

I didn’t want to be found. I didn’t want to be pursued by a man. I didn’t want to be wanted. Being “found” meant opening myself up to being loved. Weirdly, I preferred rejection by my own hands than intimacy with another person.

The devotional said to pray that your future husband will “find” you and you are in a position to be “found.” I was really confused about what it meant to place yourself in a position to be found so I asked a friend to explain it to me.

She explained that while it’s the man’s job to find, it’s the woman’s job to be found. She does this by basically ignoring other men by pursuing Christ so deeply that she doesn’t notice the men around her.

It hit me that I think  I have reached that point. I really do. So my week was crazy emotional and now I really don’t know what to do with myself.

Probably unfollow that guy on Instagram.

You, me and the dog

I heard a pastor once say that the best sermons are the ones that convict the speaker as much as the listener. So this blog post is as much for me as it is for you. Bear with me while I process out loud.

A few years ago, I asked God to remove the temptation away from me to date anyone other than my husband. This wasn’t a ploy to manipulate what I wanted from God or even protect myself from unnecessary heartbreak. This was a desperate attempt to rid myself of some awful sin in my heart that was destroying my relationship with God.

And He responded. I haven’t been asked out since. Oh, but I have pursued many a man. I have prayed over every man I have ever had an interest in. And with every freaking man, I thought God had told me this man was the one. I found signs everywhere I looked that confirmed this prophecy. Each time, my heart grew sick with waiting and analyzing and hoping and honestly, pretending I had given it to God when in reality, I was holding on to my logic and reasoning. Especially because my spiritual gift is prophecy, I was convinced God had told me who I would marry.

God was patient with me, right up until the third time, when in the middle of my obsession God firmly told me, This isn’t your job.  As a woman, it’s not my place to pursue and while I am a firm believer that a woman should make a move if she wants, God doesn’t want that for me. He just doesn’t. I’m a raging control freak and if I didn’t get it under control, I could never honor my husband in submission.

So I started to let go and experienced a lot of freedom. I prayed for my husband and myself. Most recently, I asked God to remove the desire of other people from both of us. I wanted freedom for myself but I also wanted to be safe with my husband. I don’t compete for a man, not anymore. The hardest thing about this prayer is watching my desire for someone I have wanted forever slowly go away. There’s still a part of me that wants that man but each day, it becomes a little less.

I’ve fought with God over this man probably more than anyone else. I’ve asked God why I can’t have my choice. I would choose him a million times over. Shouldn’t that matter? Shouldn’t my choice matter? But God has been very clear with me. The second I asked God to take away the temptation of other men was the moment I relinquished my choice. I surrendered that to God and He honored that sacrifice.

I have fought that and even at times, regretted it. I questioned how God could love me and let me leave the choice with him. But I realized I had already done that with my job.

Two years ago, I had been struggling to find employment. I had applied for job after job, getting close but not getting hired. There were jobs I interviewed for that I thought was my dream job. They were everything I thought I wanted and I grieved not getting those jobs. I got to this place where I asked God to bring the right job into my life. I was done searching, done looking. I clearly didn’t know what God wanted. And He brought the job into my lap. I didn’t even apply for it. I actually remember not wanting to interview for the job. It was in the same line of work I had done before, where I had gotten burned, and I was wary of going back. But I trusted God through this and I got the job. This job has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined and I’m ultimately grateful I left the choice with Him.

It has only been recently that I have begun to see the treasures in letting God take my choice from me. Not everyone would agree with me. Love is a choice and we honor God through that choice. But for me, I would rather choose God a million times over and have Him give me His best rather than be ordinary by either choosing my spouse on my own or by allowing my emotions to dictate how I make decisions about my spouse.

God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him – Jim Elliot

The best advice I could give you is to let go of how you think your life should go and let God direct your path. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We will be the faithful

When I was a little girl, all I dreamed about was being a mother. I dreamed about caring for a child. As someone with a disability, I was often surrounded by other children with disabilities. More often than not, these children were in the foster care system or had been adopted. So as a little girl, my dreams of my child always involved adopting a child. As a teen, I often dreamed of being this woman. I saw her in my head all the time.

This woman was a mother to many, adopting children but also fostering dozens of other children. I wanted to be that woman.

Weirdly for my personality (if you know me, I can be quite the blabber-mouth), I didn’t tell anyone of my dreams. With my disability, I thought no one would give me a child and you throw in mental illness, forget about it.

It stayed in the back of my mind for years. Honestly, I think that’s a big part of why I wanted to get married so bad. I thought if I had someone by my side, I could foster children. I never said it out loud but I actively looked for men that seemed like the type that could love children that weren’t their own. I was waiting until marriage for my life to start.

And then about two weeks ago, I was sitting in my living room, reflecting on all the men I had cared for, obsessed over and prayed for and I was just so exhausted.  How much of my life had been squandered away because I had placed all my hopes and dreams on men who never gave me a second thought.

It was one of those a-ha moments, where you look at your life and question the direction your life has been going. What the heck am I doing? I sat on the couch, questioning everything. It was in this moment I made the decision to move on with my life, to walk away from this striving for fulfillment.

If you’ve read my blog for any given amount of time, you know I have prayed for, yearned, sought after and questioned my dream of working in full-time ministry. What if my ministry had been right in front of me the whole time and I had not received it because I was too busy chasing what I thought would be my saving grace?

Could I walk away from everything I thought I needed and move forward without fear towards something bigger than myself? What if the life God has in store for me is bigger than marriage?

There are few times in my life where I have prayed and God has answered my prayers swiftly. I asked God for answers and provision. While I don’t believe this is always true in every situation, this time I needed God to open the doors with ease. Resistance meant to me that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve spent most of my life living in resistance, persevering through some pretty heavy deserts. Somehow, I knew that I needed God to make this easy, as easy as becoming a foster parent could be (sarcasm added here).

For the first time in my life, I’m watching the pieces come together with ease. Practical and emotional needs are being met and I have never been more calm than I am right now.

Sometimes, I think we put life on hold for things God never promised us. But Scripture says Seek my kingdom first and these things will be added to you. I realized I needed to repent of this heart that had been seeking everything else first before being obedient.

So I’m moving forward with what God has asked of me, following a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl. And that’s pretty exciting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All the Single Ladies (and men)

I still remember the conversation I had with my stepdad at 19. I had watched a boy I had fawned over for three years fall for someone else, a heart-breaking, soul-crushing spectacle that I wish I could have avoided.

But I was on the mend, relieved to be finally okay when I sat across my stepdad in our dimly-lit living room and proudly proclaimed that I was not planning on ever getting married.

This was not a new sentiment but one I had shared over the years since the tender age of eight. As much as I liked guys, was attracted to them, enjoyed spending time with them, I found that I valued my freedom much more. At 19, I had every intention of becoming a missionary and then adopting a daughter later in life. This was going to be my story, sans a man.

Over the years, I dated purely out of rebellion and fell in love with a boy that never loved me back. Before you feel sorry for me, you should know that I genuinely believe that I deserved the treatment I received from said boy. You reap what you sow and I had sown discord and heartache with every man I dated.

By the time I got to counseling, I had a trail of pain and idolatry following behind me. I told the counselor I believed I had the gift of singleness, which was why nothing had worked out. He responded curtly with a no, you idolize singleness. There’s a difference. People with the gift of singleness don’t break hearts and use people the way I did.

So I went on this journey, exploring the darkness I called marriage and for the last three years, I have wrestled with, sought out and ultimately idolized the very thing I ran away from. It brought me here, to this very day when I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem. I had traded one idol for another and I was done. My heart exhausted; I threw up my hands and told God I’d take whatever life He’d give me.

I had finally been throw out of the whale. I was free.

I realize I might never get married or I might marry someone for fifty years. Whatever the case may be, I’ll be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering Emily

I remember the Sunday before I moved here.

I had just lost my job and my home and was moving forward into the unknown, this small ounce of faith I had left carrying my weakened state.

For months, I had struggled financially. I had seen God provide in some big ways but overall, it had been a particularly rough season.

Publically, I told everyone what God had been speaking into my life. The job and life He promised me. And with each job rejection, the people around me doubted what I was sure God had promised.

So suddenly, I was a girl without a home, without a job and still God was consistent. This was my game changer. There was nothing to be joyful about.

And yet, that Sunday, I felt God saying now was the time to worship. Now was the time to give thanks.

So I did. Through tears, I thanked God for every little detail I could think of. The good, the bad and the ugly. I knew, despite my fears, that this season was ending in my life and I wanted to finish better than I had started.

And while everyone seemed to doubt the promises I spoke of (many people encouraged me to aim lower, which I did in spite of God saying no), everything He had spoken into my life came true. Not a stone was left unturned.

I wasn’t planning on writing about this season in my life. I was doing really well, was happy, trusting in the things God has been speaking into my heart and then I got the phone call.

My dad had died.

It didn’t hit me at first. He had cancer, so it wasn’t a surprise and we weren’t close. In fact, we weren’t even speaking to each other at the time of his death. I had been so angry at him. He was the first man to ever break my heart.

The sadness comes in waves, the twinge of regret that a part of me wishes I had been more forgiving. And the worst part is that no one expects you to grieve an absentee father. It’s like you’re not allowed to be sad. So mostly, I cry quietly to myself and don’t talk about it.

So what has God been speaking into my life?

This is the year I end up with my spouse. This is it. And it would happen after my dad died.

But it’s the farthest thing from my mind right now. Truthfully, I have been focused on everything but a relationship.

It’s that Sunday again, all over, with God telling me that this season in my life is ending and for the love of everything that is holy, give thanks for every little thing I can think of. So I did, giving praise through all the sadness because I know hope’s on the other side.

Hope on wings like eagles

When I was a little girl, I was told that I would never walk. I had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and the doctor’s outlook was grim.

It never crossed my mind that they were right. I asked God to let me walk and He said I would walk, so I believed Him.

A surgeon crossed my path who believed that if he cut the right nerve in my leg, I could walk. This idea was considered so farfetched that my insurance refused to pay for it. But that didn’t stop that surgeon from sneaking me into the hospital to perform the surgery illegally. I still remember laying across a table in his office while doctors surrounded the table to watch the surgeon remove the stitches from my leg. Everyone was anxious to see if the surgery was a success.

Spoiler: It did.

***

It takes a lot of faith for a doctor to risk his career so that a little girl might walk.

I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s sovereignty and our responsibility to act. I don’t fully understand the balance between the two but I know that God’s promise that I would walk could not be fulfilled if the surgeon had not been faithful to act on his conviction.

I wonder how  much of God’s blessings we miss out on simply because we deny the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, I think we suppress what God is asking of us because it doesn’t make sense to us.

Example: Two years ago, God asked me to quit my job and move to the Valley. He even told me what job I would have, a job I now have, but I only went halfway. I quit my job but refused to move. So for three months, I suffered. Each time God asked me to move, I said no because starting over didn’t make any sense. I applied for jobs left and right, getting rejected over and over. I cried out to God for freedom, not understanding why He was making me wait. But the truth was, God had already revealed his plan for redemption for me; I just refused to listen. I had hardened my heart to the Holy Spirit. I don’t think it was deliberate disobedience. I think I dismissed the voice of God because I didn’t believe He would be that clear and direct about something that would drastically change my life.

Long story short, I moved to the Valley and got the job God told me I would have. My life has become more beautiful than I could possibly imagine.

When God says move, for crying out loud-move! Why waste one second of your life challenging what He asks of you?

This verse meant a lot to me during that time in my life:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

-Habakkuk 3:17-19

You don’t need to see how everything will work out in order for things to work out. Just move!