Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Full Circle

As a girl, I never really felt like I had a place.  I was loved, but with my parents divorced, each creating new families, made it hard for me to feel like I had my own family.  

When I married Kevin, I distinctly remember a family trip to Disneyland where I realized, I had married into the same position I had growing up.  I loved my husband and step daughters, but they were a family before I came a long and I wasn't really sure where I fit.  

Obviously, we powered through the growing pains of our new family, but its been remarkable how adding our two littles has given me what I never had before.  Sure I have a definite place as mom, but the true blessing has been has its restored the heart of that little girl in me.  Raising them with Kevin and being a family has done a remarkable job of healing the wounds of my childhood.  Watching my kids live the benefits of mom and dad in the same house, has given me what I never got.  

Isn't God amazing?! All those years, God was walking with me through the hard times even if I didn't see him and to show his love for me in unique ways because the truth is, I always had a place in his family.  I was always wanted and always part of something beyond myself, even if I couldn't see it.  God saw it and God saw me. 

We live in a world that is cruel at times and we encounter people that don't always use kindness as their compass, but God is there and his time table isn't the same as ours, but not seeing it, isn't the same as it not happening.  

As we look at Turkey Day approaching and we make our thankful list, let's look at the ways God has been good to us, not only in this year but in our life.  

Can you think of some way you felt you were forgotten that later you saw the story come full circle?  

God loves you and is always working in your life.  Its not about what makes sense in the moment, but when we know we can trust our Creator and Savior, we can trust that he is there even when life is not what we hoped it was.  

Besides the story above, I can't tell you how many times God showed me was listening and cared.  

I had a major crush on this guy in high school and we went out once or twice, but it just never came together.   We rediscovered each other in college and ended up dating for a couple years.  He wasn't the one, but while we were dating, I found an old high school journal where I asked God to let me date him.  There was more to it than that, but I thought, "wow, God saw me."  

In high school while living in Germany, we went to Israel and visited the Holocaust Museum.  They have a Garden of Remembrance where trees are planted in memory of those non-Jewish people who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.  A tree is planted once that person dies.  When I was there, Corrie Ten Boom had just passed away.  I loved her and her story and wanted so desperately to see her tree.  It was time to go and I still had not found her tree.  I told God just how much I wanted to see it and asked if he would let me find the tree. Another woman in our tour and I were talking and as we talked I discovered we'd gotten lost and had been separated from the group.  As we turned to head back the way we had come, I looked down and guess what I saw?  You guessed it - Corrie Ten Boom's tree.  That wasn't a life altering request but it mattered to God, because I matter to God!  Being seen and valued is one of the greatest gifts we can ask for. 

Isn't that worth being grateful for?  Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone! - Carrie  

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Parenting Perspective

Can I just say my kids are growing up WAY TOO FAST! My youngest is about to hit five and I don't know what to do with myself. She may act like a teenager with her larger than life personality, but shes still small so I can hold her, but she's getting so big so fast!

P.S. I tried to carry my son the other night because he fell asleep on the couch and that did not go well, because his eight year old man body is WAY TOO BIG for me to carry! Let's just say he was awake by the time we made it to his bed.  

This mom thing is a serious job.  Sure, I will always be there mom and they can come to me anytime, but the time I have to shape them is just going so quickly.  I often wonder if I'm doing it wrong.  
Parenting is the hardest thing I will ever do.  There is some irony to the hilarity of our world -  all the time and money we spend to get college degrees to be proficient in the work place, yet all we have to do to become parents is have sex, no training, no tests, just go and don't screw up these little people looking to us for life direction.  

Growing up, I always thought there would be this moment when I became an adult.  This switch that made me "adult Carrie" versus "girl Carrie."  But that moment never happened. 

Sure I've matured and grown, but I'm still Carrie.  My inner soul mirror still reflects the same person it did from elementary kid til now throughout the timeline. So feeling equip to raise little humans just doesn't seem possible, but it's the job that is in my lap and its a job that does expire.  The formative years are short and I need to make the most of them. 

I started reading Proverbs this week and I decided I didn't just want to read it, I wanted to study it.  Lately, I've been reading in my grandpa's Bible.  My uncle gave it to me when my Pappy died and even though its not my favorite translation, I feel connected to him when I read it.  What I do love about the Bible is the plethora of scriptures noted beside the verses.  So I can go on this journey to find other passages that add to the meaning.  I've also been highlighting and noting key words.  So I feel like I'm getting more out of Proverbs than ever before.  

In chapter one, Solomon, the author of the book, warns young people to listen to wisdom and pay attention to the instruction of their parents.  He warns of fools and the misdirection they may try to lead them on.  As I went through just that chapter two things struck me.

1.  My job as a parent is not just to make sure my kids get a good education and have great experiences, my job as a parent is to train my kids in Christ.  It is to help them know the dangers they might face in life and give them the tools to overcome it.  The question became, am I spending too much time on the wrong things?  

I choose to live in a humble place of always grappling with that question.  Earlier this year, I attended a conference and the idea of inoculating my children to the bad ideas they may encounter was introduced.  Too many times we try to shelter our children, when we should be letting them know what they will encounter out in the real world and why certain things don't work the way they are sold to us and why.  Kids need to know what they believe, why and how to defend it.  That right there is the most important part of my job.  

The second thing that struck me: 

2.  The person Solomon is warning growing men and women about weren't random strangers in the world but people from within their circle.  As I started reading the connected passages, it gave more detail of the fools and those who ignore wisdom.  It was a message of something like - be careful of those around you in your church or in your Christian circle who may try to lead you down the wrong path.  Sounds like of fitting since being a Christian in 2019 can mean 3 billion variations of "Christian."  

We do need to be wise about the people we look to for guidance.  Not everyone has our best interest at heart or has their compass set in the right direction.  If our aim is to honor God, then we need to know him and to use what he says as our guide.  We have to be ever watchful and know what to allow in and what to stay away from. 

Proverbs 1:7 tell us, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."  Fear doesn't mean horror movie type fear but reverence or honor.  (Though it might feel like the horror movie type if you are talking about your boss and unbeknownst to you, your boss comes up behind you.  That moment of discovery might make you freak out.)

Can I tell you just how reassuring it is to have that plumb line?! The truth is, I don't have to have a college degree in parenting to raise my little humans, but it does help to be connected with the Creator of it all.  

Today's post is really about realigning your life with your purpose.  Its about making sure you keep the main thing, the main thing.  We so easily get caught up in the rat race that we forget what we are supposed to be doing.  I'm not saying you don't keep doing life, I'm just saying, make sure you haven't lost your intentionality when it comes to life and parenting.  Make sure you are connected with the source, so that you have what you need to lead.

We only get eighteen years, which may seem like a long time when we get up at 3am to do a feeding or change a diaper, but trust me, we spend more of our life without our kids than with them and we need to make sure we are pointing them in the right direction.  

Happy Wednesday! 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Doing You Jesus' Way

If you are alive in 2019 you have heard someone say, "You Do You!"

Here's the thing, I love and hate this phrase and I have been thinking about why I love it and why it bugs me. 

So many times the religion of Christianity takes over and squashes that relational aspect.  The strict rules and "my way" attitude seem to put people into boxes in ways that they just don't fit.  You see the box of crayons smashed to bits as the beauty in those that weren't accepted as “right” are discarded. 

God made us all different ON PURPOSE.  We weren't made to look identical to those around us.  I know, I talked about that last week and I don't want to be that broken record, so I will continue with this post. 

We are meant to be us, but there is a comma after that sentence ON PURPOSE as well. 

It can be easy to get the American Dream mixed up with the Biblical calling God has given us.  They don't always match.  Of course God wants us to follow our heart, but more than that he wants us to seek him with all our heart and allow that relationship guide the path.  Sometimes God uses the crap and mess to meet us where we are and make us the best versions of ourselves that we can be. 

I love, "You Do You," because we need to embrace who were were created it to be, but I don't like it because we were made for more.  We are like that microwave on the counter, unless its plugged into some electricity it ain't doing anything.  We are the best us when we are connected to our Creator, our Savior, our King!

We were made to work within the body of Christ and that often means putting others first.  It means sacrifice and self-denial.  I do think its important to validate yourself before you hand yourself over to Jesus and allow Him to speak into your life. 

Trying to check the boxes and meet all the rules isn't going to work, because that would be our effort and it isn't our effort, but God's mercy.  We have to surrender ourselves to Jesus.  When we know we are loved and can trust him, doing so isn't scary. Life is never easy, but we weren’t created for this world.  Heaven is our home.  God has given us a mission and it involves others.  Finding the balance in knowing and accepting yourself and submitting to God’s plan for your life is key.  

Let’s face it, we don’t really want people to do them if it means causing harm to others or themselves, but we do want them to not feel pressure to be a reflection of everyone else is around them.

 The Bible may only say that God said,” It’s Good,” on creation days, but he said it about all of his creation which includes me and you singularly.  We need to accept that we were made to be us and cherish who that is. The question isn’t, “how can I fit in?” Instead it’s, “how can I serve God?” One question looks outward to compare and the other looks inward and factors in who we are.  

Maybe you are saying, “Carrie, that’s all well and great, but, how?”

First, do you know what makes you, you? Do you know how you can shine? Do you know what you add to the world? Start answering those questions.  Take some personality tests, ask your friends, look at where you find most joy.  

Second, embrace the creation.  Can you list 20 wonderful things about yourself? Do you doubt your value? Are you worried that others can discount you and cut you down to worthless? If so then it’s time to ask God to show you how he sees you.  What he sees when he says, “ it is good!”

Daily write down the beauty you see in yourself.  When you hear those negative voices begin to replace them.  Find scriptures that speak to this and write them down. Post them where you can see them and be reminded.

Third, ask God to show you how you can serve and honor him, specifically how can you walk with him.  Spend time with God.  Maybe it’s time for a daily Bible reading and quiet time in prayer.  Come to know what a relationship with God looks like, not just a religion.  The beauty happens in the time together. 

True freedom is in being who God creates us to be.  Go be free! 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

I Am Not You

"I Am Not You!" 

This is something we should all repeat to ourselves on a daily basis every time we feel the nudge that says -

that woman has her act together more than me.  
She looks better, 
is more organized, 
is better at getting her kids to school on time, 
has more going for her, 
is a better cook,
has more friends because she's more outgoing or
is a better person of faith than me. 

The truth is: she is not you. 

The need for this statement isn't just a moment of reflection in my bag of insecurities, instead its found in the consistent, repetitive comments I hear in conversations with other women, we all have that voice that reaches out of our own area of weakness and grabs hold of that one woman who has other strengths.  But we aren't the women around us. 

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times.  

You get to be you!

No one else gets that honor.  I often feel like a disheveled mess next too the moms I stand beside at pick up or sit next to in a mom circle at whatever meeting, Bible study or prayer group we may be at, and yet, I know there are people out there who look at me with a level of jealously that I don't get.  I see all of me while others see only a portion.  I can forget where I stand out and how I add when get sucked into the comparison trap.  The thing is we may not often feel confident, but that doesn't mean we don't try.  

I have no problem, blubbering through a first conversation with a woman I'd like to befriend, because despite any word stumbles, I know the friendship is worth it, and the potential rejection is worth knowing, she's not my people.

I do put myself out there, but its not because I always feel comfortable doing it, its because I know its worth the embarrassment I might encounter.  I try new things because I like the discovery of it all. Not everything sticks and it doesn't have to.  On the flipside, I don't try certain things because of fear and that is what I need to work on.  You and I will inevitably have different strengths and weakness.  That my friends is beautiful!

Ladies, we need to get this.  Why?  Because we have a generation of kids coming up who are living online.  They have filters and retakes and other ways to hid or try again before they put themselves out there.  If a post doesn't get the desired response, they can remove it.  They don't have life teaching them that they will fail and that's okay.  This is setting them up to be devastated when they are rejected, lonely and when they do in fact, fail.  The rise in suicide rates is in doubt, connected to the internet world that is our reality.  I'm not saying its all bad, but we have recognize where the dangers are located so we can navigate through them. 
If we are able to show our kids and our friends' kids that we can step up to the plate in the face of fear, and that is okay because we are who we were made to be, then we are giving them the tools they need to do the same. 

I am not someone that thinks who I am out the gate is a perfect woman, but I do think I have to own up to who I am to ever have a chance at being the best me.  I have to acknowledge who God designed me to be and love what he created, and then once I see that I am not the cookie cutter person as the others I encounter, God can mold me more into his image.  

That takes awkward encounters and uncomfortable moments.  It means embracing the difficult for the goal on the other side.  

Dare to see yourself the way your creator did when he made you and said, "It is good." Dare to embrace the way you add to the world instead of comparing how you are deficient to the women around you.  Dare to model courage and vulnerability in the way you face relationships and life.  Dare to live outside your comfort zone in order to have the best life possible.  

Still don't think you can do that one thing? Guess what, we may not have the strength in ourselves, but if we have God, he gives us what we need to step up and step out! Go read these verses and be encouraged!

So Let's Do This!