Women of Valor

I don’t know what kind of thoughts you have when you hear or read the word “valor” but I think of a medal for extreme bravery.  Bravery that is above and beyond what the average person would do.  The actual definition for “valor” is: boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle; heroic courage; bravery.

The US Military names the category for their top three medals, “Awards of Valor.”  The Department of Justice’s Medal of Valor is the highest national award for public safety officers and is awarded annually by the President to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.

So what does this have to do with me? Or you? I venture to say most of us women never think of ourselves as “valorous.”  Yes, that is a word, and yes, I had to google it first.

I have been reading “The Mingling of Souls” by Matt Chandler.  In it, he addresses the verse Proverbs 31:10. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”  While most of us women might have never heard of the word “valorous” I am confident Christian and non-Christian women alike have all heard the term “being a Proverbs 31 woman.”  So when Matt began to address this chapter in his book, I was prepared to hear a lot of the same things I had heard before, but he mentioned something that totally rocked my Proverbs 31 world.  In the NET Bible, the verse is actually translated as “Who can find a wife of noble character? For her value is far more than rubies.”  Now bear with me for a moment, but the Hebrew term used for “noble character” is the same expression used to describe Ruth in Ruth 3:11 and is used to describe her as a woman of valor.  When the term is used elsewhere in the Bible it is used to describe physical valor in battle (Judges 6:12).

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see the word “valor” I never think of a woman.  How incredible that a woman like Ruth, who lived thousands and thousands of years ago in a time where women were thought of as nothing, who was obedient and brave for the Lord was described as a woman of valor?!? Ruth was a woman of valor.  And I am inspired for myself, for my friends, for my family, for all of you, for all of us…to walk into our role as women of valor.  That’s why I have been encouraged to take my own path of bravery….I have given up dating for a year (December 13, 2015 to exact…holla!).  Now this might not sound super “valorous” but for me, it has taken every ounce of my effort and my courage (which is not a lot) and thankfully required me to rely on the Lord for his effort and courage more than I ever have in my life.  I have learned more about myself and my sin in the past few months than over the 27 years of my life.  And I have confidence and faith in God that he is using this moment of bravery to transform me into a woman, and hopefully one day a wife and mother, after His own heart.

 We, as women, have long had our bravery and strength underestimated by society.  In Exodus 1:8-2:10, we see Pharaoh underestimating the strength of women.  Pharaoh was concerned about the Israelites overpowering Egypt, so what did he do…he ordered two Hebrew midwives to kill the male babies born to the Israelite women.  Why just males?  Because he didn’t think the women were strong enough, smart enough, and brave enough, to pose a threat to Egypt.  And God used 5 women…the midwives who spared the Hebrew babies, Moses’ mother who hid him from harm, his sister who made sure Pharaoh’s daughter found her brother, and Pharaoh’s daughter who ultimately defied her father’s orders and raised Moses to ultimately deliver the nation of Israel.  To quote Jen Wilkin in this very, very excellent sermon (seriously, every women should watch)…

Israel’s first deliverer was not a man, in a flowing robe, with a streaming beard, and a miraculous sign.  Israel’s first deliverer was a woman in average garb and streaming tears and a miraculous courage…MAY WE BE THOSE WOMEN TODAY!     http://breakawayministries.org/Resources/talks/Fight-Like-a-Girl

Some Peeps Before Easter

I know, its been awhile, and unfortunately this post will not quench your thirst for a thorough update on my life (ha!).  However, it might shed some light into some dark areas in your life,like it did mine.

FYI, I am super proud of my witty title.  Still working on humility, obviously.

Awhile back, I had someone come to my work to get some help.  When I met with this person, my first thought was “this person looks like they’re homeless”  Now, I meet with people on a regular basis that are down and out, but this was honestly the first person I’ve spent time with that I thought they might not have a roof over their head.

After some discussion, I figured out I could probably help said person and out the door they went.  About a week went by and the person came back in to see me.  I noticed that they were wearing the same clothes they had worn the last time I had met with them and after they left, someone else commented on their appearance.  As I was walking back to my office, I thought…”wow, this so nice of me to help this person.  I am really loving them like Jesus would love them.  Go me!”  I was mentally patting myself on the back for helping someone that honestly…made me feel a little uncomfortable.

It was in this moment of self-congratulations, that I was hit with a ton of bricks.  This person makes me feel uncomfortable because of their outward appearance.  If people could only see some of my inward stuff (pride, envy, crazy facebook stalking…which is probably envy? Or just crazy? I don’t know) then how uncomfortable would I make people?  Would people cringe or step back when I approached them like I am sure some people had done to this person?  Then I realized, thank you Jesus for not stopping at comfortable when it comes to loving me.  As I approach Easter, I am so thankful that I have a Savior who loves me and you enough to not be deterred by the uncomfortable.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.-1 John 3:16

Because my fondest Easter memories include Evan in bow ties and me in dresses with bells sewn in the skirts.

Models easter 2 easter 3

Relationship Status?

The month of February and love are synonymous.  When you were in elementary school…the school calendar was always decorated with snowflakes for January, leprechauns for March and of course hearts for February.  February naturally makes us think about love.

As a single female among married/engaged/long-term relationship friends, you would think I am going to write about how to be content in singleness or wait for the big picture guy or work on becoming the “right person” but jokes on you…cause I am totally not.

This February and this year, I am focusing on my love relationships with my friends.  I’ve always been a woman that cares about her friendships and puts a lot of effort into them (just ask me about all my bridesmaids’ dresses) but recently God has placed a desire on my heart to really dive deeper in my friendships.

I had the opportunity to go on my church’s high school winter retreat this past month and the theme was “The Fight.”  How our Christian walk is a fight against sin in our lives.  One session focused on fighting for our friends and something the speaker said really resonated with me.  She said, “The devil will get you in one of two ways.  First, by convincing you that what you are doing is ok.  Second, by isolating you and making you feel alone.”

The second point really hit home with me. In my times of great struggle and pain, how often did I allow isolation and loneliness pull me to places I never saw myself going?  And its not that my friends left my high and dry, but I often was not transparent in my struggles.  How can someone fight for you when they don’t know there’s a fight?

So God is pushing me, challenging me, to fight for my friends.  Be vulnerable. Be intentional. Be present.  My friends and small group probably think I’m crazy because I’ve mentioned multiple times about the vision I have for what these friendships can do for future generations.  I feel confident that developing these kind of friendships will change marriages, workplaces, parenting, and future generations.

During that same session, the speaker shared an illustration regarding soldiers in war.  She stated that in the past, soldiers were taught to dig cover for two.  Not just a cover for themselves, but a cover for themselves and their fellow solider.   I hope we all have friendships that reflect that same value…always creating shelter for others.

Obviously, it was only fitting for me to spend my Valentine’s Day weekend with my lady friends.  New friends, old friends, and my favorite friend (my momma)…oh, and getting my hair did.  Cause sometimes you need your friends and some pampering.

Lucky to have these sweet friends to laugh with! Courtesy of the lovely Claire Marie Photography.  See more here:  http://clairemariephoto.com/caitlin-and-ronnie-new-years-eve-wedding-lexington-livery/
Lucky to have these sweet friends to laugh with! Courtesy of the lovely Claire Marie Photo. See more here: http://clairemariephoto.com/caitlin-and-ronnie-new-years-eve-wedding-lexington-livery/

And all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put humpty together again…

I’ve been thinking a lot about brokenness.  Not just my own brokenness, but the broken world we live in.

The world that just isn’t fair.  Recently, a friend shared this link

 http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/bennettlester/journal/view/id/54b9a4ecaf3d795b524ae253

If possible, stop reading this post immediately and read the link.  The faith demonstrated from that family in the face of tragedy is powerful.  The mother’s faith in the promise that one day her precious daughter will no longer suffer left me challenged.  Do I really live in the promise and victory Jesus has already claimed over my brokenness? My quiet time reaffirmed this promise in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”

God has promised us victory over the broken things of our world. In my journal I began to make a list of all the brokenness I’ve seen in the world and how one day these fractures will be repaired.

One day…that sweet baby girl will get to play with Jesus all day long and no longer feel sick and weak from the terrible disease currently inside her little body.   One day…her mother will be able to run and play with her again. One day….that young woman, who recently lost her mother, will be able to sit at her feet and feel her mother braid her hair again.  One day…that little boy, whose dad left their family, will be able to be in the presence of the unconditional love of the greatest Father for eternity.  One day…the woman, whose marriage left her feeling unwanted and discarded, will get to sit at the feet of the one who showed her how wanted and loved she is by him when he laid down his life for her.  One day, I’ll never have to go to asleep again in fear of not waking up from low blood sugar.

Unlike the children’s nursery rhyme, God has promised me and you (and all those who believe in him) that he will put us back together again.  God is teaching me to have peace and rest in this promise.  I hope you feel this rest too.

It is Well

I haven’t posted on here in forever.  Really, I’ve been contemplating whether or not I’m going to continue with the blog.  But as 2014 came to a close and 2015 begins, I’ve had one major thought in my head and thought if this is my last post, I should share it.

If you’ve followed this blog at all over the past two years, you know the waters have been choppy.  I think I can easily say while times were hard in 2013, 2014 really brought the pain.  And I kept thinking “it can only go up from here” or “tough it out and things will get easier.”  While, I’m not saying that 2015 won’t be easier or be “an up year,” God is teaching me that life might not get easier (try selling that one in a greeting card, ha!)… BUT He is faithful.  Despite all of the hard times this past year, God has shown me that he is faithful.  Sometimes in big and tangible ways like when I prayed that God would remind me that he didn’t give me a spirit of fear and then this showed up in my devotional the next morning.

devotional

I am not sure what 2015 will hold for me. Maybe 2015 will be full of happy moments (and don’t get me wrong, I hope for that kind of 2015), but if 2015 isn’t easier I know that God is faithful.  And while he didn’t promise me an easy life, he has promised me a better life with him on earth and eventually in heaven.  That is a promise worth clinging to.

Because its Valentine’s Day….duh.

I know, I haven’t posted in forever. No excuses except for crazy busyness, BUT I couldn’t let a Valentine’s Day go by without a little something.  I don’t know about y’all but I feel like Valentine’s Day (can we abbreviate to Vday, typing it out is going to get old…real fast), is a polarizing day.  People either love Vday or pretend to hate it.  Think about your instagram, twitter, facebook over the last 24 hours…its probably either full of people posting gifts from their significant others or girls posting about what they’re doing with their girlfriends, what they’re daddy got them, how they don’t need a man (Ladies, nothing wrong with hanging out with your girlfriends, having your dad get you a gift, or being independent…just making an observation).  Can you imagine if guys posted that way? “Hanging out with my bros/brahs, dudes (Idk..whatever you all call each other)” or “My mom is the best! Look a t the teddy bear she sent me!” I’m laughing as I type it. PLEASE, if you’re a guy and you do this today, direct it to my attention.

Anyways, back to the point. Vday can be so polarizing and I think it’s mainly because single people don’t want to face a day that presumably makes them think about something they are not experiencing. I get that.  Sometimes it isn’t fun to be reminded of your single status. I’m single and I’m not really in the hate Vday camp.  Actually, I really enjoy the holiday. Mainly because I have a sweet tooth the size of the Grand Canyon and it constantly needs to be filled…so anytime I can eat more chocolate…I’m good.  But leading up to this Vday I wanted to focus more on the love part of the holiday. Not in romantic way, because, well, I’m single…but just in a how can I love people more this week?

For me, the first step in loving more was to look back at where my ability to love even comes from…“We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:19 (NIV).  I’m sure the rest of you, like me, have heard this verse. It’s a pretty famous one.  Makes the rounds on the instagram quotes pictures.  But over the past year, I’ve had the privilege of learning so much more about how much God loves me.  If you read my blog at all, you know that 2013 was an exceptionally tough year.  I’m reading a book by Jerry Bridges, Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, and he really focuses on how adversity can bring us a better understanding of who God is… in the words of my clever 16 year old life group girls…RT!!! Seriously, they RT short for retweet like in twitter to show they agree. Ha! I love this and try to use it whenever possible.

 Over the last year, my family and I dealt with a situation where we were lied to, hurt, and betrayed.  When it all came to the surface, every single bone in my body wanted to be mad at the betrayer. I wanted to yell, scream, and just be plain old mean to that person.  I wanted my love to be conditioned based on that person’s actions. I thought they deserved my anger, my meanness. Before I waged full-scale Amanda mean war, I felt God directing me to slow down, take a deep breath and spend some time with Him.  Wouldn’t you know…I just couldn’t be mad at that person. Off came the William Wallace war paint.  God practically yelled at me through my Bible and prayers…”Amanda, this hurt you’re experiencing…this is a small sliver of the hurt I feel when you sin against Me…BUT (and this but is big and it is good) My love for you is unconditional, I created you even though I knew you would sin against Me and I still sent My precious son to die for you.  Talk about an amazing, gut check lesson.  God used a moment of pain in my life to teach me so much more about the depths and heights of His love.

 So shew, that took a lot more words to write than I originally planned on, but I’ve been attempting to take what I’ve learned about God’s love for me and use it in the way I love others.  Let me tell ya, it is hard work to love others even a teeny tiny bit like God loves us.   For me, my love work over the past week hasn’t pushed my love boundaries because the people I love are difficult to love, but it has pushed my own selfish boundaries. Loving people takes a lot of time…time that if i give other people, I can’t spend on myself…you know to love people you actually have to be apart of their lives, hang out with them, do things they like to do…which totally throws my selfish gear in overdrive.

 If you follow me on instagram, you probably think my only friends are high school girls (which sounds kind of creepy) but I have the privilege of working in a high school ministry and being around some amazing young women. This week, I dedicated to them. I want them to know how awesome, special, and loved they are so they received my time and awesome trampoline skills (jk..my physical therapist mother has made me afraid of trampoline injuries so I’m baby with my jump tricks).

So I don’t know if you’re single, married, engaged, lovey dovey, wherever you may fall on the relationship spectrum…you can let Vday be a time to just love the guts out of somebody.

 AND I’m linking my favorite video. ever. on how much God loves you.  I’ve posted it before, and I love it. I think I could watch it every single day.

Confession Part I

 Don’t mind my cheesy Usher reference, but it just felt appropriate and I cracked myself up when I came up with it sooo there ya go. I had another post prepared and ready to go, but God has bigger plans sometimes.  For the past month or so, I’ve been reading the book of James and I have been really hung up on this verse in James, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (NIV)

 So I read James 5:16 and thought ok, God wants me to confess my sins, but he doesn’t really mean I need to confess all my sins to someone else. I mean, if I have to tell someone all the gross stuff I’ve done in life, they aren’t going to like me anymore.  God must just mean I need to confess the easy to handle stuff…the I gossiped today, I’ve had a bad attitude, etc.  So here I am reading James and that verse and I hear a sermon from Perry Noble (I listen to sermons while I get ready in the morning. I know, lame) and he addressed this verse and get this…Perry Noble, the pastor of a mega church, admitted to his congregation that it wasn’t until he confessed his pornography addiction to a fellow Christian brother did he start to experience healing from that sin.  I’m sure my mouth dropped. I was like dang Perry… I cannot believe you were just that real with not just one person, but thousands of people. 

Disclaimer:  I should go ahead and just say, I don’t think confession to others is necessary to receive forgiveness from God.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NIV). So I don’t think its absolute for repentance or forgiveness, but I do think confession to others brings about healing. 

Ok, so I can’t believe I even really typed that because it scares me.  I don’t know about anyone else, but its scary to think about telling someone (or gasp, the horror, multiple people) about my sin I keep hidden in a dark corner underneath my bed.  Well, I told you’ve I’ve been struggling with confessing my sin to others and wouldn’t you know it, in life groups this week we talked about….wait for it (if you watch How I Met Your Mother, I’m doing this in my Barney Stinson voice)….confession and vulnerability with people. 

See, it’s relatively easy for me to tell y’all that I was in a valley, I was sad over a breakup, diabetes is hard, etc…because those aren’t too terrible of things to handle.  I can tell you all that stuff and you’ll still probably think I’m a pretty good person.  It’s the stuff like, sometimes I think God forgot about me and I question His goodness, or I really feel like I hate that person, or I’m consistently lying to someone I love…that stuff might make you quit reading my blog. If I’m really real, you all might not really like me. You might think I’m fake or unauthentic.  If you see the real me, you might not like it.

 Ok, so what’s a girl who wants to be vulnerable do? Does she pen some eloquent lyrics like Mr. Usher Raymond spelling out my confessions?  If you’ve ever heard me sing, the answer to that is NO.  Well, wouldn’t you know I had the opportunity to put this into practice yesterday?  I confessed my sin to another because I needed that person’s forgiveness.  The Bible addresses going and getting right with your brother/sister (Matthew 5:23-24).  Wouldn’t you know I read that verse right as I was deciding I didn’t need to confess and ask for forgiveness from this person….God sometimes has to smack me over the head.  And it was so, so, so hard to ask for this person’s forgiveness…not only because I hate being wrong in general, but especially in this particular relationship (I like to pretend I’m always the good, sweet, angelic one). It made me nauseous.  I thought of every excuse not to call them. I seriously thought I was going to be sick waiting to talk to them, but after I talked to them…I felt this incredible relief and burden lifted.  God had already forgiven me for my sin against that person, but by confessing and asking for forgiveness from that person…I started the healing process and God promised me that healing in James 5:16.

 I’ve been thinking about how applicable this is to life, not just for Christians but also for everyone.  There is great freedom and peace that comes from confession to others. For example, I made a huge mistake at work a few weeks ago.  Like, I laid down in child’s pose in my office (and if you know me, you know I hate yoga so I was seriously on the ledge) with my door shut.  I knew I had to tell my boss what I had done, but I was nervous. I did not want to admit I was wrong…I failed at something.  As soon as I talked to my boss, I felt a tremendous amount of relief (of course, it doesn’t hurt that my boss is so gracious, kind and forgiving) but it was the simple act of saying what I done out loud that brought gave me relief and comfort.

 I think this verse in Psalms is so on point in what happens when we keep our sin all to ourselves, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Psalm 32:3 (NIV).

 

I Give Up!

So in case you’ve been wondering if I dropped off the face of the blogging earth, I have not. I have been crazy busy between work, church, weddings, and battling mono. Yea, I know…who gets adult mono? Contrary to popular belief (Looking at you , Mom) mono is not just “the kissing disease” you can get it other ways so get the kissing questions (again, looking at you Mom) out of your head.

Besides my diaversary post, my last posts have been about my struggle through a hard time in my life.  About a month ago, I listened to a sermon from Rick Warren about surrendering your pain to God. EXCELLENT sermon. Listen to it.  http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/33f39/

 I’ve been trying to put into practice his sermon and wanted to share a few points with you all.

There are three things you can do when you encounter pain in your life, you can let it: destroy you, define you, or develop you.  I’m going to pick option number 3 and go with development. Sounds great, I’m going to let this pain in my life develop me…who doesn’t want that? The problem arises in how I let my pain develop me.  I think at the heart of development is surrender. So how to surrender…

First…Accept What Cannot be Changed

This has, by far, been one of the hardest things for me. For the longest time, I did not want to accept that my relationship was over. I did not want to accept that I would probably have to take insulin for the rest of my life and prick my finger a bajillion times a day. I wanted to live in this place of denial. When I heard this sermon, it was like a smack in the face. How can I surrender something painful if I’m living in lala land about it happening…answer…I can’t.

In 2 Samuel 12, David is dealing with the same issue.  His infant son becomes ill and David begs the Lord to spare his child, but his son passes away. In verses 22 and 23, David accepts reality.  22He answered, While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting?” 2 Samuel 12:22-23a (NIV).

Accepting reality sucks (sorry, not one to sugar coat). For me, it was a very painful process, BUT (and it is a big but), there is freedom in this first step.  I can now honestly say I would much rather be going through the pain associated with accepting what I cannot change than continue living in denial.

Second…Remember Its Not the End of the Story

It is so easy while you’re going through the painful acceptance period to default to a bleak, dark place of thinking.  In pain, I fought against hopeless feelings and its normal to feel that way.  In reading the same story about David in 2 Samuel, I found David living out this step.  He says, “I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:23b (NIV).  David got it.  He understood that the loss of his son (the reason for his pain) was not the end of the story.  He would see his son again.  I know the end of my old life (aka my functioning pancreas life) and the end of my relationship is not the end of my story.  One day, maybe on this earth or maybe in heaven, I’ll be healed.  And I might not be in a relationship anymore, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever be in one (I mean I might be single forever if that’s what God wants, but my momma tells me I’d make too good of a mother for God to let that happen…so we’ll go with that).

When I start to doubt that this is not the end of my story, a simple prayer…”Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

Third…Keep on Loving, Even in Your Pain…

David kept loving in his pain. “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him;” 2 Samuel 12:24 (NIV).  In case you just read that and think the last step is to go shack up and get preggo (or boys, knock some girl up)…not the point.  The point is that David kept loving Bathsheba and because of their love, they created Solomon. Solomon…one of the greatest kings/kingdoms in the Bible…came out of a painful experience.

Jesus knows what its like to keep loving while you’re in pain…the Cross.  “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 (NLT).  So in response to this step…I’ve been loving the heck out of some people.  I meet with a small group of high school girls every week, I’m more intentional with the time I spend with my family and friends, and I’ve joined a small group of women that go to my church.  Love equals pain, but I’m not living in fear of that pain.  I’m embracing it and letting it deepen my love for others.

PS…sorry this is so long. This is what happens when I go radio silent for awhile.

ALSO, I’m getting ready to re-launch my blog with a totally new design.  In preparation, my… awesome/fabulous/beautiful/talented/etc…friend, Claire, took some head shots for me.  Here’s a sneak peek. Here’s the link to her website as well.  Stalk her.  http://clairemariephoto.com/.  Also, the always fabulous PinkLoulou did my hair and makeup.  http://pinklouloudesignstudio.com/

Sneak Peek

I’m In a Valley

I apologize that it’s been so long since I’ve posted and I apologize if this post is super lengthy and long-winded.  I hope you hang with me and read what I have to say.

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the idea/thought/belief that we go through mountaintops and valleys in life.  If you’re not familiar, it’s pretty much the idea that we cycle through periods of high times where things really seem are going our way or low times when thing are just though and hard.  I think if we were all honest with ourselves, we’d all agree that we do cycle through high times and low times, mountaintops and valleys…. And lemme tell ya, I am in a valley.  The past six months have probably been the hardest six months of my life.

The Downward Descent

My downward descent into my valley really started after my recent breakup.  The details of the breakup aren’t really important, but the loss of the relationship was really the catalyst.  All of sudden, I felt like the future I once envisioned had evaporated in one night and that scared me.  I felt really lost, really confused, and extremely alone.  It was/is probably one of the most painful experiences of my life and I felt crushed by the pain I was feeling.  Actually, I really wallowed and stayed in the pain for a good two months.  It really took my mom and best friend having a long conversation (separately, I did not have an intervention…haha) with me about how I had changed and wasn’t acting like myself anymore before I would even acknowledge the pain I was feeling.

Pastor Rick Warren recently finished a sermon series regarding pain following the death of his son, Matthew, who struggled with mental illness.  It is a really powerful sermon series and I’m still finishing it, but I love what he says about pain. He says, “I can endure pain if I see a purpose in it.”

The Purpose In My Pain

I’m still in a tough period in my life, but I’m at a point where God is really teaching me so much and after a lot of prayer, I am finally seeing the purpose in my pain…so here goes.

1.    It’s just me and Jesus.  I could stop after this point because this is by far the most important thing I’m learning.  Sometimes it takes losing everything else we cling to in our lives and go through a world of pain before we realize…it’s just God and I.  I cannot move beyond him.  I cannot replace him.  No job success, man’s love, relationship, money, house, car, etc. is going to let me move beyond that because those things will never completely fill me.  A husband, boyfriend (not a husband and boyfriend at the same time…hello, nothing scandalous from this girl), friend, parent, co-worker, will fail me and I will fail them…because I’m imperfect.  The only person that is capable of never letting me down is Jesus because he’s the only perfect person in my life.   It only makes sense that I find my joy, happiness, and contentment in the only person that is capable of giving perfect love.

2.    Therapy is so, so, so good.  My endocrinologist and parents have been telling to me talk to someone since I was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago.  It took me finally acknowledging my struggles this summer before I actually went to therapy.  I love therapy.  I know that to some people it might be a sign of weakness or a taboo or whatever, but I don’t care.  It has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.  I am so grateful to have an unbiased, trained, knowledgeable Christian, to help me process life. tI know for me personally, I get cannot see the forest beyond the trees and when I sit down and talk to him, he can see the forest and help me see beyond the trees.

3.    I am better having loved and lost. If you’ve even read this far, you’re probably thinking gross….vomit…cliché statement, and I was right there with you a few months ago, but luckily God has changed my heart and perspective.  First, I am thankful for the love I shared and received with this person because it taught me what it feels like to really be in love.  Never again, will I question “am I really in love?” I am now intimately familiar with the joys and pains that come from loving somebody.

 Second, like I said above, sometimes it takes losing something so important to you for you to realize that we have nothing apart from Christ.  I love the way an article on Desiring God’s website phrases it…”when one prize is stripped away, we can graciously be reminded of how little we have apart from Christ and the fortune he’s purchased for us with his blood.”

That same article says it better than I ever could…”In Jesus, God is always and only doing good to you.  There’s no circumstance facing you that he’s not engineering to give you deep and durable life and freedom and joy.  He loves our lasting joy in him much more than he loves our temporary comfort today.   He’ll make that trade any day, and we can be glad he does.  Know that God is doing good, even when we feel worst.”

My Point

I guess the reason why I’m sharing all of this with you all is because I don’t want to waste my pain.  I want to use what God is teaching me through my pain to help others.  To quote Pastor Rick Warren again…”Don’t waste your pain; let God heal it, recycle it, utilize it and use it to bless other people,”

He said. “Use your pain as a model for your message and a witness to the world. But to touch other people, you need to be honest—with God, yourself and others—and you need to be vulnerable”

So here I am, being vulnerable and honest with you all.  I’ve been honest with God, friends, my family and myself and now it’s your turn.  I’m still in the valley.  To paraphrase Rick Warren again, Psalm 23:4 refers to walking through the valley of the shadow of death…but the thing about a shadow is that it needs light. So I’m just focusing on the light until I’m out of the shadow.   I’m not on a mountaintop, but I have faith that I will not stay in this valley because my God is faithful…one day at a time.

Rejection

My apologies for the delay in posts.  I went to Florida last week with my momma, work is crazy, and my iphone is out of commission (stress!).  This will be a pretty quick post, but it’s something I read a few weeks ago and has stuck in my mind.

Rejection…a word most of us never want to have enter our lives.  Rejection essentially means something we wanted, desired, or thought we needed…we don’t get.  Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I hate being told “no.”  My dad actually says I’m relentless when it comes to getting the things I want (definitely not always a good thing!).  For example, when I was 8 I really, really wanted the American Girl doll Molly.  My parents initially told me no.  I prayed for God to bring me Molly every night from August to Christmas Day (when I finally got her).  Also, I made sure I said this prayer out loud and in front of my parents (already using the lawyer skills!).

We all know how rejection works in our normal lives, but what really stuck out to me is what rejection means scientifically.

The Science Stuff:

The immune system protects the body from possibly harmful substances by recognizing and responding to antigens. Antigens are substances (usually proteins) on the surface of cells, viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Nonliving substances such as toxins, chemicals, drugs, and foreign particles (such as a splinter) can also be antigens. The immune system recognizes and destroys substances that contain antigens.

 For example, in order for a transplant to work you must have matching MHCs (major histocompatibility complexes) as well as matching antibodies and blood type.

So what?

In the article I read, the author talked linked rejection to grace.  To quote the article, I call this “grace.”  I firmly believe God knows what is best for us and will reward those who wait for Him. Even if we don’t want to, and are faced with rejection again and again.” (here is the link for the original article http://goodwomenproject.com/singleness/rejection).

I’ve been thinking about this concept for like two weeks now.  Like our bodies know how to reject the stuff that isn’t specifically made for us, God knows how to reject the stuff that comes into our lives that He didn’t make for us (disclaimer:  I know that in life we will all  choices that aren’t God’s will for our lives.  There is a long theological discussion we can have about free will and God’s sovereignty).

But really, God knows what’s best for my life.  I might be rejected for a job, or by a friend, or by a guy, or whatever, but ultimately what if those rejections are God’s way of just protecting me from the stuff that He didn’t make for me? We might not always get the answers to the “why” we are rejected and that’s hard, I get that.  I’ve been rejected numerous times and it hurt and it left my trying to understand why I was rejected.  Looking back, I’ve been able to see God’s hand of protection.  I think rejection gives us the opportunity to rely on God even more, “If not this, God, then what?”

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16 NIV

Disney World!
Disney World!