#I Can’t

download

You’ve heard it before.  You’ve probably started saying it yourself. ‘I can’t’.  It is quite popular to say when one wishes not to continue processing something stupid. I tried saying it but the Holy Spirit stood against that with scripture.

In Philippians 4:13, the Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me“.  Saying ‘I can’t’ regardless of its jovial connotations, goes directly against this new popular saying. I was convicted every single time so, I stopped saying it.

When it would be “appropriate” to say ‘I can’t’, what I was really shortening to convey was I-don’t-feel-like-doing-this-right-now, I-am-so-done-talking-about-this, this-is-on-my-nerves or something similar. Unfortunately, the new shortened speech stands in stark contrast to what the Bible says I am to think. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me means I can do what I don’t feel like doing.  I can complete my thought process.  I can persevere when I want to quit. Do I always feel like it? Heck no! But, I am not to speak against the strength, endurance, and perseverance God is instilling in me with cavalier words like ‘I can’t’.

The Bible says I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I can’t renew my mind with words like ‘I can’t’ and expect to know God in His fullness.

Dear SAHM: There Are More Important Things

my-house-was-clean-last-week-300x200

Growing up, I remember doing many chores.  I remember all of our responsibilities. Dishes, vacuuming, dusting, Windex glass, picking up after ourselves, daily floor sweeps, any other assignment either parent assigned, plus homework.  It was life.  It taught us all a great deal. We learned how to be responsible, that actions had consequences, that what we do affects others, how to be considerate, etc and how to clean. Even now, as adults, all of my three siblings and myself, can clean a house spotless.

Our house did not go past a certain messy point. Clothes never stayed on the couch for too long. Dishes were never in the sink for more than a meal. The floor never crunched with food or any other substance. We didn’t grow up in mess. My home, however, is not that.

Right now, there are clothes on our couch; clean clothes, but clothes nevertheless. The sink is full of dishes. Clean dishes are in the dishwasher and on the side of the sink.  The kitchen floor has food in the crease where the wall and carpet meets all along the wall. I have two piles of laundry on the floor of our bathroom. I could go on but you get the idea.

A while a go, I posted that I was going to have Jazmine follow a chore chart. It is going pretty well. She is developing good habits and, gradually, learning to choose not to do a half-way job with her chores. I am a task oriented person. I practice not stopping for any kind of break until all or at least the vast majority of a task list is complete. I want to instill this in Jazmine. The thing is, I am sure I was born with the wiring for this kind of thinking but it did not present itself right away.  It was groomed and allowed to grow. I have to give this same time allowance to my Jazmine.

I have a habit of measuring how well my day has gone by how my home looks.  I get where this thought process comes from. I am a SAHM. I don’t work outside of the home. I don’t have a desk or a boss to please. No one readily recognizes my work and says ‘good job’. Not that that is a daily occurance at any job but I don’t get performance reviews etc. All I have as a showcase, if you will, is my home. When people come in, my home is what reflects me. If, by the time I go to bed, my home is tidy, I feel great.  If it is not, I tend to beat myself up.  I think I spent my day doing too much of everything else and did not incorporate tidying up. This evening, it occurred to me that, on a scale of importance, the nurturing of my husband and children’s hearts and their spirits is vastly more important than having a tidy home. Not that my house should remain untidy but if I spend far more time grooming my children and nurturing both them and my husband, while allowing everyone to grow, I have invested my time well.

The state of my home is no longer a personal measure of my worth.

 

I Forgot Who HE Was

images-1

I got so bogged down with the current cares of my life. Folk not acting right. Adjusting to always having an endless to-do list.

I often daydream. I think of spectacular events that could happen to or around me.  It’s a nice escape. This daydream was about me being pregnant with twins and being summoned back to the doctor’s office for another sonogram. The midwife wanted to double-check because either one baby had a heart defect or I was actually carrying triplets. Come to find out, I was carrying triplets!

At the quick conclusion of this daydream, I almost laughed out loud! (Really would have but it’s after midnight and I certainly did not want my voice to awake my girls.  Husband would have slept through it) I FORGOT WHO GOD WAS!

I am daydreaming about the impossible when I am currently living what I could not have imagined, but oh so desperately desired, just two years ago.

Two years ago (May 2015), I was focused on my Zumba. I was determined to live and not wallow in longing for another baby. Two years ago, as I was putting away our winter clothes and hanging up our summer clothes, I was hoping that the next time I saw my sweats, it would be in my our new home. Two years ago, at this very same time, I had NO IDEA WHATSOEVER that God was bringing about the unseen into the seen in our lives.

I found out June 2015, Father’s Day to be exact (how perfect is that!) that I was pregnant. In October 2015, my husband told me to start looking for a house. I May 2016, we got an apartment of our very own! God turned things around so fast! It truly was like a rushing wind.

So now, May 2017, as I am refocusing on my Zumba and learning to home school from a place of rest. Now, that I am focused on thoroughly enjoying my 8yr old and toddler. Now, that I have grown comfortable in our own unique house rhythm, I reflect on my “new” longings. Yes, I still desire to be a mother of many. Yes, we need to soon be in the process of looking into move again. But God! He has already done those things for me!  I don’t have to daydream! I experienced it! It was all real! There is no need for me to daydream now either! If I do dare, it can’t be from the wouldn’t-that-be-great camp.  It must be from the I-know-He-can-do-it/Won’t-He-will camp!

Be blessed!

Scripture Works Together

tumblr_nkw6ga9Vgz1tv2cueo1_1280

I was scared tonight. I started back teaching Zumba two months ago. I co-teach once a week.  I teach one half hour and the lead instructor teaches the other half hour.  I have led two full one-hour classes. As happy as I am to be able to teach again, and get paid, I am always nervous. I was such a Zumba snob before.  I would criticize instructors in a heartbeat. I’ve walked out of classes if I didn’t like their style of teaching, mannerisms, song choice, etc. Now that I am the teacher, I had to acknowledge how afraid I was of reaping what I had sown.

It does not feel good to have people walk out of a class you are teaching. I know people leave class for reasons other than they don’t like the class. Folk leave because they only planned to do 30 minutes.  Some maybe trying out a class and are not committed to one format. Knowing this does not make it easier to see people leaving while you are doing your best to teach.

Praise God, I pushed through but I was reminded of several verses as I did.  Matthew 12:36Galatians 6:7James 1:19, Ephesians 4:29.  All of these verses work together.

Careless words are rash, quickly spoken words, phrases, or comments that are spoken without thought to what you are saying. Once those words escape, you are responsible for them.  You have sown those words into your life. You will reap those words because you failed to be quick to listen but instead was quick to speak and slow to listen.  You spoke corruption instead of edification.

I saw this in my own life, bright and vivid in color.  At least two people left my class tonight.  Again, I know there are more than one reason why people leave but unless you know why before hand, a dwindling class is not good. Starting out with 10 participants and ending up with close to 30 is great.  The inverse, not so much.

Now that conviction has taken place, my everything changes.  The way I speak, how much I speak, when I speak, all of it changes.  It will change the people who chose to be around me.  Folks gather when tearing something/someone down and would rather exclude those to build up unless they themselves are in need of edification and encouragement. It will be me who gives alternative reasons why people may be behaving a certain way. It will be me sticking up for people I don’t even know when others start to tear them down. It will be me being the Suzy Sunshine trying to deter conversation from casting judgment on someones actions so that my companions don’t end up speaking carelessly.

Everyone takes a trip on that slippery slope of careless words spoken in the present that leads to future strife. Now that I am aware of it, not only am I responsible to keep from taking that ride, out of love, I am also obligated to help others stay as far away from that slope as possible.

Alas, when I thought my circle of companions had grown small enough, I can feel it getting even smaller. (deep sigh) All for Christ and Christ alone.

How To Let Go And Let God

PreparingBabyLayetteLet Go and Let God is a song and a cliché within the church. Not that that saying has no truth, but it is often used so haphazardly that the full weight of the words is missed.

I long for more children. An itch has been scratched since having Baby Grace but it still feels that my family is not yet complete. I long for the boy my husband can father in the home; a boy from my womb. While we have been trying, I have not yet felt the desperation I had while waiting for Baby Grace to come. As Baby Grace continues to grow and out grow, I have not parted with a thing.  I have been, once again, hoarding but calling it wisdom.  Better to store and wait for another child than to give away and have to repurchase right? No.  Saving is wisdom.  Hoarding is folly.  Hoarding/Storing takes on the mindset that if we give it away, we could never again regain it. God provided the first time and He can and will provide again. Let go and let God.

During today’s sermon, God impressed upon me that I was hoarding his blessings.  He had to remind me that He provided for Baby Grace and He will provide for the next baby, whenever that happens.  I had to release my coveted Puj Baby Tub, stretchy car seat canopy, sneak-a-peak car seat cover, and nursing cover. My bargain bought breast pump, Close & Secure Portable Infant Sleeper, and my numerous baby wearing gear, all I released.  I released EVERYTHING over and over and over again until it was complete and real and not just lip service.

God provided before.  He will provide again. Why? Because He told me to let go. I didn’t decide to just let go and hope he’ll catch me because I desire for new. No. He told me to let go so I am. I know He will provide yet again because He did for Jazmine and Baby Grace.  I KNOW He will do it for whenever the next baby comes.  By the time you read this, I will have already made a call to see if a new mom needs anything I have and I will have sent a text asking another mom to come view my wares and to take whatever she needs. Whatever is left will be posted on my MOPS group Facebook page.  Whatever is left after that will be consigned at the next local Tot Swap for $1-$3.  I look forward to being a conduit for God’s blessings.

God Never Promised To Do Anything Our Way

imgres-2

It is true that God breaks EVERY chain. He is powerful enough to do the impossible.  I know that from experience.  God’s word says it, I believed His word and trusted that He would do what He said He would do, and He did it.

His methods and timing? So, so, soooo far off from my own but then again, He never promised to do anything our way.

I have been operating in a state of heartbrokenness for 2.5 years. In all that time of suffering in one particular, yet far-reaching, area of life, He also healed other areas, improved situations, changed my thinking, and grew me astronomically. God is always at work, even if something hurts.

A few days ago, while I was doing some mundane daily task, God spoke.  I was hesitant to attribute that new dawning that occurred to Him because although the words were new, the idea wasn’t. Now, after a few days of walking in that new dawning, I can say that it was from God. God said I am always on display.

When you are a leader, you are always on display but at a young age, I learned from others that all leaders need a place to let their hair down. A place where no one is paying exact attention to every single thing you say and do. In my adulthood, God taught me that if letting your hair down means doing an about-face from who you are, that is pretending you are something you are not in front of most people and being who you really are in front of others. Even with that knowledge, I still looked for places where I did not have to be “on” all the time. I could say something severely crass (which I am inclined to do) and not be held accountable for it later by someone who never thought I would say such a thing. I loved those safe havens and often looked for more safe havens but I soon learned why you don’t have many safe havens.  That goes back to what God said about letting your hair down. So, I grew from that place to wanting to be in an environment that, although my speech and behavior rarely differed, I wasn’t under super watchful eyes.  No one was jotting notes about my parenting, clothes, conversation, etiquette…you get the idea.

The 2.5 years of brokenness I was in stemmed from my safe place being broken. The severe hurt I experienced resulted from realizing, understanding, and knowing for a fact that what at one point was my safe harbor, had turned into an operation theater.

images-1

An operation theater was commonly used the in 1900’s

Instead of being, feeling, and knowing I was safe, I was dissected as sport and laid bare for all to see, judge, and comment on.  It was an extremely emotionally draining, difficult time. I made changes to keep from being in that theater. Hard changes.  Changes I never ever thought I’d have to make.   All the while, however, asking and seeking the Lord for Him to change things. His perfect timing was 2.5 years later which was 2 years past my time frame (lol).

I can now return to those former safe places and feel a semblance of safety again.  Not because the people have changed but because God has changed me. I was not ready to accept that God’s calling on my life meant that I would always be on display. I am ready now. He led me in baby steps although that last (at least for now) step felt like a giant leap. Now that I accept His calling on my life, I can go back. I can sit knowing I am in the theater but not fearing it. I can live out loud knowing that my mannerisms and etiquette are being watched but not looking for it to be watched nor shy away from the watchful eyes.

I am healed!

The Quickie Queen

Physical intimacy is an important aspect of marriage. (Hmm.  That sentence wasn’t powerful enough.  Let me try again.)  Physical intimacy is vital to a healthy marriage. (There I think that was better.)

When my husband and I were to be married, we had pre-marital counseling.  During those 6 sessions, our Pastor said in most marriages, husbands are the sexual aggressors, but in some marriages, the wives are.  I was stunned to hear that.

I knew me.  I knew I was not getting married to be celibate by ANY means.  Being the good Christian girl that I was, my husband was going to get ALL of this woman as soon as we said I do. I was prepared for all the sexual struggles (he wants it all the time) I’d heard married women talk about and just knew it wasn’t going to be in my  marriage.  I was ready to be ready at ALL times.

It is not always lack of desire that prevents physical intimacy in an otherwise healthy marriage.  Life and its burdens can get in the way. Anxieties, deadlines, and sheer exhaustion can prevent the best efforts. Both husband and wife can try MANY workarounds, strategies, and time set aside to circumvent the negative repercussions of a lack of physical intimacy. Sometimes they work.  Sometimes they don’t.  It all depends on finding out what works for that couple. Trial and error is GREAT when it works but depressing when it fails.

Prayer to protect physical intimacy is important.  Ask God about it. Tell him what you desire and share that with your husband.  Watch God work it out.  He created sex to be with you and your husband. He will make it happen.

There is something to be mindful about when you do pray about physical intimacy.  Do not sabotage your effective prayers with your presets.  The Bible says ask and you shall receive, but be warned not to sabotage the receiving process. God will work in that important area of your marriage.  Start by having him work with you. My story is that while I asked, I remain the same. I responded the same way to my husband when he made an efforts.  That is self sabotage. His gentle touches, impromptu hugs, requests to have me sit near him for a bit (even while I was in the middle of making dinner) are all signs that he desires me. It may take ALL day for the bedroom to take place but he gives clues ALL day that it is on his mind too.

I have sabotaged myself. I was never one for the build-up to the end; not for common everyday practice.  That mess was cool when the only children we had lived with their mothers but now that we have two cock-blocking terrorists (yes, they are blessings and we love them but they do NOTHING to enhance the bedroom), I am in hit-it-and-quit-it mode, ALL the time. No chill. I have become the Quickie Queen.

My work around was to be “ready” at a moments notice. What should have been a temporary fix had become my preset to the point where all I looked for is “right now”.  My preset became to brush off all forms of telling physical contact because it wouldn’t produce immediate results.  Why? Because we could build up all day and one phone call (church, children, or job related) would change the evening.  All the build up for blue clit (female version of blue balls). The emotional build up would be there, the physical touches would be there, the anticipation high and then, nothing. Like a romance novel that ends with nothing but a goodbye wave.

To protect myself from the let down, I would say things like, “Don’t start anything you can’t finish,” and similar phrases to convey that I was not satisfied but desired to be. Talk about poor word choice.  That did nothing to build up my husband. That did nothing to bolster our bedroom. I sabotaged my desires.

While praying for God to move, I still spoke and responded the same way. While in the process of receiving my request, which was evidenced by his touches, words, and nearness, I sabotaged the receiving process by being unresponsive/negatively responding to what was offered. My fear of the possibility of something interfering with our bedroom became a brick wall that prevented me from receiving anything.

Once that realization came crashing down on me, I am now eager to respond to all promise offerings my husband gives me. Why? Because the phone calls weren’t his fault.  I wasn’t the only one disappointed. However, instead of working through that shared emotion together, I shut me and my blue clit off. Shutting off inhibits receiving of any kind.

If you want to receive from the Lord, don’t shut off and don’t sabotage.

Happy Humping!

HE Catches Me Before I Fall

One sentence spoken from my daughter Jazmine.  One wishful thought that I can’t fathom how to accomplish. Either of these can send me down an unprofitable thought rabbit-hole.

imgres

I recall a Gospel song There Is No Failure where one of the lines in the song is, catches you before you fall.  It is so very true.

I have often heard God’s voice speak to me as I am peering down the bad thought rabbit-hole.  I hear truth to my ears but because it wasn’t what I wanted and wasn’t a way to get what I desired, I often dismissed it with an excuse. I can clearly see now that was what I was doing.  Only after receiving truth was I able to detect the lie(s) I was choosing instead.

This really happened.

I was driving home with my girls in the car.  I had already been noodling how I was going to sign Jazmine up for all of these camps this summer and how I needed to keep my ear to the ground for when registration opened up so we wouldn’t miss out. At that point in the car, I wasn’t currently thinking about that but it was still on mental radar.  Jazmine says, “Mom, I want to do ballet, Karate, and soccer.  I already told you I wanted to do ballet.” And that she did. She has mentioned ballet on and off since she was three.  The first emotion I felt was guilt.  Why hadn’t I put her in a class yet? I couldn’t remember.  Because I was already working under my own pressure regarding camps, hearing my child restate a desire she had and adding that she wanted to try new things, I felt like a failure.  Summer isn’t here and I already felt like a slouch. I was trying to figure out how I would juggle getting her to karate, finding a ballet and soccer camp, and making sure Baby Grace had some semblance of a schedule during all of this.  Before I succumbed and really tried to piece this all together, I heard the Lord say, “Many adults try things for the first time in their adulthood.” And BOOM! Instant pressure relief.

I didn’t even try to preface God’s words with any ‘I will try Jaz’, ‘let me talk to Daddy and we will see what we can do’, or ‘it all depends on what we find’. NOTHING!  I said exactly what I heard.  Jazmine responded with, “Well I just want to try things in my childhood.” Masterful response but I was already free from any guilt threatening to overtake me.  Just a few weeks ago, I would have dismissed what God said with an excuse and try to make a way myself.

Praise God!

 

Did I Mention I Hate Being A Pastor’s Wife?

Of course, the title of this post is rhetorical.  I’ve answered it SEVERAL times in this blog. Just search the archives and you will see. 

 

images

Let me clarify so assumptions are not made.

I love my husband who is a Pastor.  I love being his wife. I HATE being a Pastor’s wife.  How is that different? Let me explain.

I would remain married to my husband if he weren’t a Pastor. I don’t hate my husband. I’m not leaving my husband because he is a Pastor.  I love my husband. I enjoy being a wife.  I hate being a wife of a Pastor.

If you still don’t get it, that’s fine but please no comments on what you think I am feeling if you don’t understand my opening statement.

Our Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are for preparing a sermon.  Not that my husband only starts on it on Thursdays but that is the day it usually becomes more solidified. When are birthday parties, adult outings, and other social gatherings usually held? Fridays and Saturdays.  How many times do I show up looking like a single Mom with two children to events where there are whole families (moms and dads)?  Much more often than not.  Case in point. I rejoined a local MOPS group. They were having a fun pool event that I knew my Jazmine would love.  I was excited to see how Baby Grace would do in the pool.  I took my girls and went.  I wasn’t expecting to see so many dads. I assumed MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) and thought it would be a large playdate instead of a family outing. My mistake.  The pool event was titled a family outing but it my mind, I envisioned women and children.  With the exception of one other mom, I was the only one there unaccompanied by my husband.  The other mom’s husband stayed home with the infant while she came with the toddler.

I felt horrible.  I wanted to shout, I HAVE A HUSBAND WHO LOVES ME AND IS A GREAT FATHER TO OUR CHILDREN! I equally wanted to tell anyone who said hi to me that my husband is writing a sermon so he couldn’t come.  I felt the need to quantify why I was alone.

Being a Pastor’s wife is so lonely. There are few you can share your feelings with.  Even in a group of Pastor’s wives, you can be told to put your big-girl panties on and suck it up.  Well guess what?  I suck it up all the time!  Can’t I vent? Am I not allowed to be upset? Angry? Hurt? Can I not desire to have an entire weekend to myself? Can’t I desire to have our family hang out late on a Saturday night with friends and go to late service on Sunday? Why is it only a Pastor’s wife that can’t want anything?  Why is it a Pastor’s wife that is supposed to suck-it up and (this is the part that is never said but ALWAYS implied) like it?

I love my husband but I hate this role. There aren’t enough Pastor’s wives appreciations on the planet to make this job worth the sacrifice! I’m not dealing with all of the facets of being a Pastor’s wife in this post. This post is specifically about showing up unaccompanied by my husband to family events. Oh but trust, there are many more gripes that I am sure will come out in posts to come.

If you are a Pastor’s wife, you are not alone in feeling alone.  You are not alone in hating the role.  You are not alone in wanting more. You are not alone. I give you permission to feel, to desire, and to want. Talk about it. Not sweep it under a rug.  That is how resentment grows and resentment never grows into anything pleasant.

 

This Is Where I Meet Him

You can search this blog for the post about living in the ark.  God brought us out of the ark last year.  I always envisioned what my quiet time space would look like in my new home.  I would see me sitting at my kitchen table looking out a bay window.  Sitting in a Lazy-boy in my living room looking out the window.  I always imagined it being a peaceful place of solace.

Real life? I have two girls that love being near their Momma. I can’t even pee by myself!

img_0023

This is where I meet Him.

This is where I have those precious morning moments of quiet prayer with supplication, thanksgiving, and requests to God. I don’t always make it every morning. I desire to but sometimes my morning pee is so rushed, I forget to pray. Baby Grace is crying for her tata-meal, my husband needs the bathroom to get ready for work, or I forgot to grab my bag with my prayer journal in it from the bathtub before sitting on the toilet (the tub is out of reach from the toilet).

Oh but when there are those few moments in the morning that I remember to take, where I meet with the Master.  Oh how precious it is. I don’t have a window to stare out of. My “quiet” time is usually accented by an almost one-year old’s knock and whine on the other side of the bathroom door.  More often than not, my quiet time involves me praying aloud with my eyes closed while Baby Grace bangs on the bathtub and Jazmine holds me tight.

I hope they see their Mommy’s reliance on Christ and learn to rely on Him as well.