Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hold On!

Through our toughest times, we can feel the most alone.  Sometimes we can lose site of everything...family, friends, even God.  Two of my kids have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.  My oldest daughter shares her story here.  It's a beautiful story of rebirth and healing.  Her darkest days were some of mine.  I remember falling on my knees one day pleading with God to heal her and help her find herself again.  It was the only time in my life that I fully relinquished control to Him, because I finally figured out that I had none.  It was terrifying and a great relief at the same time.  I remember praying and telling God to take it and to see us all through it....whatever that may look like.  From the moment I realized how serious her battle was, Jesus told me that He would bring something good from her story.  I have clung to that every minute of every day.  Of course since then, I have started pulling the reigns once again on the freedom God gives when we fully trust Him....yes I want to know everything is going to be alright, so I grasp for control again.  It really doesn't make things easier or better, just makes me worry more.  I  battle a looming feeling that can try to steal my joy, and it takes a conscious effort to fight through it.  Although I have felt very very alone at times, I know now that I have never been and will never be alone.  I learned that during the times you're the most vulnerable, frightened, numb;  you'll learn who will stick with you and who won't.  Oftentimes people judge and even abandon....those you think you can count on, and that makes things that much more confusing.  Maybe it's for their own self preservation or insecurities or pain,  maybe it's because they just weren't who you thought they were, maybe it's because they weren't meant to be in your life; or maybe it's because you put too much trust in a person instead of in the saving grace and mercy of Our Savior.  One truth that can be very very hard to hold onto, when you're facing the darkness, is that God never abandons you.   He walks beside you, He feels your pain, He uses your story for good, He loves you.  My prayer for all, who might not feel His presence in your biggest pits of life, is that you will hold on until you do.  Just hold on.  Jesus Loves You!! I love you!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Be What You Want

I haven't been feeling well....like in my brain....and I've been trying to be really intentional and gentle and patient and merciful.  Sometimes being sick is a reminder that those things are important, because one day you won't be able to be anything at all; so be what you want to be while you can.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Be An Encourager

Man a lot has happened in the last few weeks, some of it has broken my heart; but some of it has opened my eyes wide.  One thing I know is that surrounding yourself with encouragers makes a world of difference.  I witnessed this first hand when Drew and I were in Costa Rica a few weeks ago.  She has one of the best friends in the world, Reagan.  They have been friends since they met in our church nursery when they were 4.  They have never been anything but so so good to each other.  That entire week, I saw Drew laugh and smile; and I remembered how good it feels to have someone encourage you.  Today Drew got a job as a caregiver in our church nursery, and Reagan is applying too.....the place they first became friends.  The whole time Drew and I were talking about them working together again (they were counselors at camp a few summers ago), she smiled.  We laughed at stories of their friendship, and I felt a happiness that I haven't felt in a long time.  I decided that one of the things I need to be better at is being an encourager.  I use to be really really good at it, but lately I haven't been as great at it.  But today, I'm going to try harder.  Encouraging people is so so good for them, and it's so so good for me. I'm grateful God reminded me of this once again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

HELP....It's Not a Bad Word!

So I went to Costa Rica last week with Drew and our juniors/seniors in our youth group.  I had gone when Addi was a junior back in 2014, and I loved every single minute of it.  The people were amazing and so full of love.  I wrote about it then here and here.  This time was a little different as some of the people were different and some of the things we did were different, but it was very much the same; because the Holy Spirit was ever so present.  One of the things that touched me the most was one day when we were in Quiriman.  We had visited a school there and done some Q&A with the high schoolers and then some VBS with the elementary kids.  It was a lot of fun, and our kids enjoyed it so so much.  The pastor of the local Methodist church was there too, Pastor Marlene. After we left the school, we went to the church she leads for a tour and lunch.  Some of the kids and Pastor Armando had been there the previous year, so they were amazed at all that had been done in a year's time.  I thought the church was beautiful....maybe one of the most beautiful parts of the trip.  As I watched her talk about her church and all that had been done, there was pride beaming from her face. It wasn't boastful pride but pride in what God had done there through all those who had been willing to follow His lead.  She was shining.  Even though she was proud of what had been done at their beautiful church, there was more to do.  She explained some of the needs, the cost and how they needed help to make it work.  I loved her honesty and willingness to ask for help, because she knew that her community couldn't do it all on their own; and she knew God would be glorified.  She knew that there are people who want to help her church, and she didn't let pride or discomfort get in the way.  I thought about that a lot over the next few days and how sometimes asking for help can be really really hard.  It use to be really hard for me.  I didn't want to be a burden or seem needy, but one day I relinquished that and began to be honest with myself in admitting I need help...a lot of times I need help.  It was when Bryna was born, 14 years ago, and I had 3 young children at home.  She was really sick when she was born and was in NICU for several days.  We couldn't take our other children to see her, because it was RSV season; so Neil and I would alternate times to go.  I had to go more than he for feeding purposes.  The nurses were amazing.  The other parents were amazing.  There were people bringing us meals and praying for us, but I still felt very alone from the minute they wheeled me into the NICU where the doctor said our baby was in very serious condition.  I remember going back to my room, and it was empty....no visitors, no flowers, no teddy bears.  It was the first time I had had a baby where only a few people visited, and there weren't a gazillion flower deliveries.  I had always been grateful for the visitors, flowers, etc.; but I had never really expected them but boy did I miss them.  It made the somber circumstance that much more somber.  One night I was driving myself to the NICU really really late, and I felt so so alone.  I really just wanted Neil with me, but we had 3 other children at home, the oldest being 6.  I remember staring at my sweet baby for what seemed like hours, I couldn't hold her, because she was intubated....only watch her.  When I got home, I decided I needed some help. I asked someone to come sit with my children just for a bit, so Neil and I could go see our baby together.  That time together gave me the strength I needed to continue on until she came home.  Her time there was short, and there were so many other babies who had been and would be there for months; but it was one of the most alone times I had felt in my entire life.  Realizing that I didn't need to do it all and could ask someone for help broke that stigma for me.  There are still times when I feel like a burden or too whiny or needy, so I keep a lot to myself; but usually God will have other plans and tell me reach out....it will bless someone to help you, and you will be blessed by their help.  As usual, He's spot on!


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Too Blessed To Be Stressed

"Too Blessed To Be Stressed".... I use to say this sometimes and think it too.  I think I even had a t-shirt with that written on it.  I've sort of lost that train of thought over the last few years, because there's been a lot of stress; but also because of the misconception of the word "blessed".  Something came in my inbox today with that as the title, and I almost didn't read it; because I realized I had not been as faithful in believing it.  I pondered it for a bit and wondered why I wasn't as faithful in believing it, so I read it to see if it would give me some insight.  I'll be honest in saying that I didn't expect a lot of answers, but I got some in this poem:

I'm too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed.
I refuse to be discouraged, to be sad or to cry.
I refuse to be downhearted and here's the reason why:
I have a God who is almighty; who is sovereign and supreme.
I have a God who loves me - and I am on His team.
He is all wise and powerful; Jesus is His name.
Though everything else is changeable, My God remains the same.
I refuse to be beaten or defeated.
My eyes are on my God.
He has promised to be with me, as through this life I trod.
I am looking past my circumstances, to heaven's throne above.
My prayers have reached the heart of God, and I am resting in His love.
I give thanks to Him in everything.
My eyes are on His face.
The battle is His; the victory is mine; He will help me win the race.
I repeat!
I'm too blessed to be stressed!"
(Author unknown)



I read that poem over a few times, and although I thought it was a little cheesy at first; the more I read it the more I related to it....the more I remembered. I am "Too Blessed To Be Stressed", but I've lost site of that recently. Most of the stress in my life is the stress of others....some close to me, some not close to me, some I don't even know personally....the world is a hard place right now.  When I see that they are having a hard time facing discouragement, sadness and feeling downhearted; I have a hard time on their behalf.  This is not their fault, but it's mine.  And really it's not mine, it's just part of being an empath and being in the world.  Over the last few weeks, I've thought a lot about being in the world but not of the world.  One of my daughters has shared some things with me that have opened my eyes a lot and reminded me to keep fighting to not be "of the world".  Young people have a lot to deal with....I remember this.  Older people do too....I also know this.  But one thing I think is very different from young to older is lack of years.  When you're younger, you seem to live your life in the now; and it's hard to see a future.  I remember this well from when I was a teen and young adult....thinking that that moment was it, because I didn't know anything else.  As I've gotten older, I've seen that there are a lot of moments to come....not all are good, but a lot of them are.  I believe living in the present is how life is designed to be, but I also believe once you've got some hard and some easy under your belt; it might be less challenging to know that there may be something good ahead.  God didn't create us to live in fear or sadness or discouragement or be downhearted.  He created us to live for Him, and in clinging to Him we are blessed.  It took me a lot of years to realize this and to act upon it, and I obviously don't get it right all the time.  But I'm thankful for cheesy poems, teenagers and other reminders to nudge me to remember exactly why I am "Too Blessed To Be Stressed".  So keep your eyes on His face and remember the battle is His, the victory is yours...He will help you win the race!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Waiting

Waiting....I think this is one of the hardest things for me....right now.  It's not always hard, but right now; it is.  I think it's hard, because of what I'm waiting for.  I want things a certain way, because I think that's the best thing; but....it's not my decision.  Actually it doesn't really even involve me directly, but instead one of my kids; and her decisions.  I trust that God will work things out the way they're suppose to be, but then I find myself doubting.  Will He?  What is the way things are suppose to be?  Does my kid really understand how important this decision is?  Is she going to wake up one day and say...."Mom, why didn't you tell me what to do?" Then I remember that the only option I have is to wait and trust and pray for peace.  Even though I doubt my kid knows what she's doing, I know God does; so I will wait and trust.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.

Psalm 5:3


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6




Saturday, March 3, 2018

March 3....The Best Day of 1997!

Happy TWENTY FIRST Birthday to Addison Jo Payne! You were the one who started it all, the journey into motherhood. HOLY COW....I had no idea 21 years ago what was in store but life changed so good the minute you were born. I've experienced it all: hard, easy, happy, sad, best, worst, success, failure, confused, confident; but most of all a love like I had never known and so much joy. I held you in my arms and wept as I stared at your face for weeks after you were born. I remember calling my own mother and saying, "WOW!! YOU LOVE ME A LOT!" I really had no idea how much I was loved until you came into my life. As I sit here and type this, again I cry....because of that love. I'm completely overwhelmed by the person you are....completely. You are quiet, hysterically funny, witty, smart, creative, generous....oh so generous, wise beyond your years, understanding, patient, kind and beautiful. Your heart is good. Your soul is good. Your spirit is good. You are good! You make my life better, and I'm glad God has let me borrow you for these past 21 years. Your pain is my pain. Your joy is my joy. Your sorrow is my sorrow. Your happiness is my happiness. I adore you to infinity and beyond! You're my heart!!
TWENTY ONE....wow....I still can't believe it!!! What in tarnation! Now let's party like it's 1999, or 1997 or 2018!!
















Thursday, March 1, 2018

Lost Connection

Every day I become a little more disheartened with the world.  As I sit here in my dark living room, I keep thinking about conversations I've had today, and I'm distraught.  The more I read people's opinions, disagreements, and unkind words on facebook and twitter; the more discouraged I become with social media. The more I think about text conversations I've had, the more I realize how so much is lost when you aren't face to face.  The more I see the perfect lives that people portray, the more I realize how so much of life is misleading.  I had a few conversations, via text, last night that made these realizations even more of a realization.  People can portray themselves however they wish to, via twitter, instagram and facebook.  They can text things that make them sound like the greatest person you've ever met, because they're masked behind a screen.  It seems easier for people to tell you things you want to hear when hiding behind a phone or computer.   Conversations can be misunderstood due to lack of tone and facial expression as well.  And then when the conversation isn't going the way they want, they just end it.  I'll admit I've done this myself, but I never feel good about it.  Leaving someone wondering if you're mad or sad or wondering if they're mad or sad is not a productive conversation.  I don't know the answers....I'm grateful for so much connection I've gotten through social media, but I also know it has directly affected many relationships in the worst possible way as well.  Tonight I had a face to face disagreement with my husband. Although I don't enjoy disagreements, they're inevitable.  Being able to see and hear each other, instead of making assumptions about a text, is much more productive in coming to a resolution.  One thing I believe is that deep and serious conversations aren't meant to be had via text or email.  I'm as guilty as many about doing this, but it is not the way it should be done.  Those kinds of conversations are meant to be had face to face.  I know this makes us introverts very uncomfortable, but sometimes things need to be said while looking someone in the eye and holding their hand.  Connection is one of the things the world is missing, and I think it's a huge part of the problem.  To be honest, I find myself wishing for a time before internet pretty much every single day.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Nudged

 I have an amazing husband and great kids.  I live in a sweet community, have attended the same wonderful church for over 20 years, have a great house, and we have good schools.  My kids have good friends, and I have good friends; yet somehow I don't feel like I belong here.  I haven't felt like I belonged here for a long time, not here as in with my family and friends, but here as in this community.  Every year, there are things that make me feel even more like I don't belong.  I don't know what it is or why, but I have felt God leading me away.  The problem is, my people don't feel it; so that makes me wonder what it really is that I'm feeling nudged towards or away from.  I don't know, but I've been in limbo for a very long time; and I am so ready for the reveal.  Jesus, show me.  I know He will.  I've stopped praying for God to change their minds, but instead for us all to be like minded; so that we will all feel the nudge.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Trust

I have trouble remembering things, not like one might in a typical day, but like I can't remember why I'm in the car driving.  I can't remember where I'm going.  I can't remember which child is at which school.  And it continues, and it's getting worse.  It takes effort and a lot of concentration for me to remember things sometimes, and then sometimes I still can't.  I've noticed a few other things becoming more difficult as well.  Writing, with a pen/pencil, has become a challenge...sometimes formulating my thoughts but mostly just manipulating the pen or pencil.  I've really been shifting my focus from being discouraged to being grateful to be alive, but today...it was different.  I was reading to Elliot, and I couldn't form all the words.  I couldn't figure out what I was reading and what it meant, and it hit me really hard. I finished the chapter with a quivering voice and then went into the bathroom and cried.  Reading and writing are a huge part of me.  God has a plan for all of this, and I don't know what it is; but I will trust Him.
Nahum 1:7  The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him.