Stuck In a Season

     What do you do when you feel like you are stuck in a season? 

     In my case, I feel like I have been stuck in a season for quite a few years now.  A season of sicknesses, excruciating back pain, a much needed surgery, marriage break down and divorce, financial struggles, family issues, and a pandemic.

As much as I wanted to hit the fast forward button, there was no getting out of it. At times I had a full blown pity party, and cried, wanted to faint, curl up in a ball, and at other times I was thankful and cognizant that God was carrying me through the long days.  There are many people that are dealing with lifelong disabilities, and sicknesses, and when I saw people that were worse off than me I was ashamed of myself. Life is hard, but how do we deal with things when life is tough?

What does God’s word say about times and seasons?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: 2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; 7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; 8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

Galatians 6:9 ESV

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

As nice as I think it would have been it not to go through these challenges, where would I be, spiritually, had I not faced these obstacles? Will you still stand, and believe in God when things get rough? Or, do you only love Him when times are good? 

I know what has carried me through these difficult times is being in a prayer group.  Praying with other believers, and having them pray for you.  Exercising, taking a walk, or sitting outside with a book.  Other things that helped me was rearranging my furniture, getting a mani/pedi, and simply trying new things.  I recently took an overnight trip, and drove a couple hours away, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was scary for me without my husband there to do the navigating.  I recently wrote a short children’s story which is something I have always wanted to do.  As soon as I self-publish it, I will let you guys know.

Even though I can tell the tide is shifting (after all, nothing ever stays the same) I have to consciously practice self-care, and take control of my thoughts.  What would life be like if everything was good, without its challenges? How would we be able to help and encourage others if we couldn’t empathize and know what their pain feels like? After all, one of life’s purposes is to help others.  

No matter what, God will use every bit of bad that we have gone through for His purpose and glory.  So wipe your tears away, take a deep breath, and thank God for all the good things you have and that are coming your way.

When Your Enemies Bless You

Throughout my marriage my in laws, although “nice” on the surface were a thorn in my side.

I have a memory of my mother in law telling my soon to be ex husband as we were leaving on our honeymoon “Make sure you call me as soon as you get there.”

They acted more like wayward children than my idea of how in laws should act.

Well, fast forward 15 years later and my ex was gone. The first month that he was gone I was wondering how I was going to support myself and my three kids, and keep us in the same place we were living. I remember my stepdad telling me we would have to move in with he and my mom.

My sweet cousin offered a room in her house where my kids and I could stay. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a ways away from my job and the kids’ schools.

One day my mother in law came to visit me and we were having a conversation and got into an argument. She blamed me for a lot of things that had happened in the marriage, and for the reason that he was gone. Shortly after that she wrote me an apology letter. I remember reading it, and holding unforgiveness in my heart. I decided things wouldn’t be the same with us EVER AGAIN.

I still can remember coming home after a busy day at work on that day and finding an envelope with cash under my doormat.

One thousand dollars in cash. Enough for me to buy food, pay my monthly bills, and pay my rent. The money showed up under my mat for 20 months, always in a blank envelope, always on the last day of the month.

Matthew 5:44
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Wow, did you read that scripture? Pray for those who persecute you? Not tell them off, or blow them off, or try and get even with them. Pray for them. I was always pretty good at ignoring or not dealing with people after they upset me, and definitely not forgiving them. I can still remember offenses from 30 plus years ago. My motto was “Don’t ever forget how they treated you.”

Recently, while going over the divorce papers, my ex and I were having a heated discussion about bills. He blurted out “My parents gave you money to pay for things.”

Umm, what? I asked him if his parents were the ones who had given me all that money when he was gone.

I was able to find out the men’s group that my ex had been a part of had taken up a monthly donation for me and my kids, and it was my in laws idea.

Even after his mom and I had gotten into that argument, and even though I held unforgiveness in my heart and she apologized to me. Even though 10 years had gone by and I vowed to myself I wouldn’t forget that argument we had gotten into.

I was humbled. I was ashamed of myself. I had wasted ten years of my life holding unforgiveness and bitterness and a grudge.

Romans 5:8-10
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him thorough the death of His son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!”

I am a sinner, and God forgave me for my sins. Yet, I was holding unforgiveness against others, and not accepting a genuine apology.

I am forever grateful to that men’s group for their support and I often think of the people that anonymously gave to us. I hope one day I will get to say thank you in person.

And I will never forget God’s provisions for my children and I. He had a plan before I even knew what was ahead of me.

Looking back now I am ashamed I let the enemy get the better part of me for all those years. The things that were said and done to me is in the past and I wish my prior in laws nothing but the best. I even miss them.

Ephesians 4:26
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Losing Your Best Friend

The other day my ex-husband and I had to talk to each other.  It was strained at best. Gone were the days where we used to laugh together. I hardly know him anymore. He has different tastes in foods, a different style of dressing.

  Later on I was reflecting on how we were married for over two decades, and had shared a life together.  I called him my best friend, or, at least in my mind and heart he was.

I wonder if God feels that way about us.  You know the feeling you have when you are newly baptized, and make the decision to give your heart and life to the Lord.  Then life comes at you and you think “Where is God now? Does he not see what I am going through? Why isn’t He here for me? Does He not see what is happening in my life?”

At least those are the thoughts that have run through my head at difficult times. When life is tough you start to slip up.  You are too tired to get up early and read the Bible, or maybe you’re too busy to pray, or go to church.  Little by little you start slipping away.  

Does God look at us and think how much he misses us? How He can’t wait for us to reach out to Him? Does He miss our voice and  our talks that we had with Him?

John 15:13-15

 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Jesus calls us His friends IF we do whatever He commands us. Because we are His friends He shares His secrets with us through the Word of God.

James 4:8

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you doubleminded.

The definition of doubleminded from The Century Dictionary means “Wavering, unstable, unsettled, undetermined.”

For so long I lived my life as a doubleminded person.  I didn’t realize whose I was, or how valued I was.  I let others dictate how I should feel about myself.  I felt like my world was gray, and other people’s world had vivid colors, something I lacked in my world. I didn’t realize that my self-worth doesn’t come from my husband, my friends, or my employer.

I had to renew my mind by reading God’s word.

Romans 12:2

And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

It has been a long road for me with of lots of mistakes, and many ups and downs.  I have learned that even though friends, family and even spouses may turn on you, the Lord never will.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Don’t let time slip away.  Your eternal best friend is waiting to hear from you.

Call It As If It Is

Last month I was at work when I got a picture from my older son. It was of our little Chihuahua that we had for about eight years. We found him running towards a major intersection. I opened my car door and he came right to me.

We took him to the vet and found out he was chipped, and when the veterinarian’s office called his owners they said he had rabies (which he didn’t) and they couldn’t keep him anymore. That little dog came into our lives just as my husband was leaving ours. He became my children’s most trusted friend. Many days he sat close to them, listening to them as they shared whatever was on their minds with him.

While I was at work my son sent me a picture that said “Look who’s been digging.” Our little dog had mud all over his little nose. I laughed and showed the picture to my co-worker who loves dogs.

By the time I got home that evening I could tell something was very wrong with our dog. He looked very serious, and you could just tell he didn’t feel well.

As the days went on he got sicker and sicker. My son took him to the vet, and he stayed in the dog hospital for a few days. I heard the girls working at the veterinary clinic loved our little dog, filling up their phone memory with pictures of him. My son spent his money he was saving for college on this little guy, never once complaining. He seemed to get slightly better, even eating a little bit. The vet released him. When he came home he seemed to get worse again. He wasn’t eating, and he couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom. When he tried to stand he would fall over, and we had to carry him outside to go potty.

One gloomy day he seemed like his breathing was hard, and my middle son held him on his lap crying. I haven’t seen my son that sad over anything, he isn’t one to show his emotions.

It was Super Bowl Sunday and I took our little dog in my lap and held him. I prayed for him, and he seemed to want to get away from me when he had not even been moving before that. I prayed and declared by Jesus stripes he was healed.

My friend called me after that and asked how our little puppy was doing. I told her “He is going to die.” As soon as I said that I felt The Lord saying “Why are you praying when you don’t have faith that he will be healed?”

And it was true, why was I bothering to pray for our dog, when in my heart I didn’t feel he could be healed?

The next day he seemed worse than ever, and I told my son he needed to take him back to the vet and have him put down. My sons’s girlfriend called the vet and asked what time they closed, and what putting him down entailed.

My son sat outside with our dog because our dog couldn’t control his bowel movements. My son had a bad cold, yet he sat outside, crying and talking to our little dog while he sat on his lap. It got so late that the vet closed, and I told my son that he would have to take him the next morning.

The next day our dog was up, and hungry! He was drinking water and hanging out in the kitchen, and waiting for food.

It says in Romans 4:17 “As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations” in the presence of the God whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”

Also, in Mark 11:23 ESV “Truly, I say to you, Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, will be done for him.”

I believe with my whole heart, that God heard my family’s prayers, and was teaching me to have faith, and to pray with confidence, believing what I was asking for would happen.

Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Update: Our little guy made it another 10 months before he got sick again, and we had to say our goodbyes once again. I am thankful the Lord heard our prayers and gave us more time with him.

The Middle

What does the middle of your life look like? I am talking about the hard parts in your life.  The part between “Just Married” and “Happily Ever After.” The part when your whole world disintegrates before your eyes.  

The part of your life when you are working away, thinking you were going to retire at the job you were at, putting away money in your 401k regularly, and then one day you have a meeting and you no longer have a job.  

The part when you think your health is great, and suddenly you find there’s a health problem and there’s some tough decisions you have to make.  

How about when you are going through a hard time in your life, and a pandemic strikes, and you find yourself isolated and alone, without the usual comradery with friends, leaving you lonely?

When I think about trials the word perseverance comes to mind.

The definition of perseverance by Merriam-Webster is: Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition the action or condition or an instance of persevering.

I looked to see what God’s word says about perseverance.  

James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

One thing I do know is that “the middle” is not a fun place to be.  When I think about the middle I envision a long brown dust-filled road, uneven and with some rocks covering the ground.

I have learned is that when you are in “the middle” of your life the best thing to do is to stay focused on the good things that are in your life. Your friends, the health you do have, the random acts of kindness that others show. The silly things that happen daily. And rest. Read God’s word. Talk to Him. Find some good sermons on Youtube, and listen to them.

God says in Isaiah 55:9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares The Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

The middle is not a fun place to be, but once you are through it, you can look back at that dusty well traveled road, and know that you are an overcomer. Because that’s what God calls you.

I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Rev 3:11

I Didn’t Get a Chance to Say Goodbye

This week we said goodbye to an old friend.

Well, she wasn’t old, age wise, but we had known her for a few years. She was my son’s good friend from high school. Over the years she was often at my house. She celebrated birthdays with us, went to dinner with us, and we were like family for a period of time.

She was always cheery, made us homemade Christmas cards, and would bring us treats for Christmas. She was a good friend to my son, especially in high school.

I was saddened to learn of her death at only age 23. She passed in her sleep. She was almost finished with college, had just started a podcast, and was starting a career baking desserts, and selling crafts on Etsy.

My heart grieves for her mom who she was so close to, and her brother.

As the funeral preparations started, I started thinking to myself, “Did she know Jesus?”

I couldn’t remember one time that she was at my house that I had a conversation with her about Jesus. I never told her that He died on the cross for her, or of His perfect love.

My heart grieved more. What kind of Christian am I that I can go to and from church, go to work, and not talk about Jesus.

It says in His word in Romans 10:7 “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

I think of so many people who are hurting in this world. I think about how I would feel if I didn’t know about God’s love for me and His forgiveness.

All I know is that I wish I could have shared Jesus’ perfect love for her, and will forever have this regret.

I’m praying for more boldness, and I pray that you too have the perfect opportunity to share of God’s love. Our world needs it.

Why I Am Thankful This Holiday Season

Well, the holidays are officially here.  The time of year I have been not looking forward to, and dreading.  As I overhear others talk about their plans for celebrating , or going on a quick getaway with their husband I get a small pain in my heart knowing my husband won’t be here with us.  

It’s been ten months now since we separated, and every single day has been lonely for me without my husband’s presence.  Some days are better than others, and I do feel like my heart is healing, one day at a time.  

Daily, I am reminded of my blessings.  

I am thankful for the cold water that comes out of my refrigerator whenever I am thirsty. I am thankful for my car that takes me to work in the mornings.

I watched a video the other day on Facebook. It was about a young quadriplegic man. He couldn’t turn himself over in bed, or shower by himself. His mom carried him to the shower, and washed him. Then she shaved his face and got him dressed. She would put a bag on his bottom when he needed to go to the bathroom. As I sat and watched the video I couldn’t stop crying, and feeling thankful for my health and ashamed that I had a pity party for myself.

I am thankful for my loved ones that surround me.  Two days before Thanksgiving I found out that one of the moms on my son’s basketball team passed away from cancer.  She was in her 50’s, and leaves behind five children.

So when I start to feel slightly sorry for myself I think about all the things I have to be thankful about. Even though my husband wasn’t here this Thanksgiving, and won’t be here for all the Christmas celebrations, I am grateful that I will be surrounded by my kids, relatives, and friends, and that I can celebrate the birth of Jesus freely.

Most of all, I am thankful that God sent His only son to die for my sins, and yours too.

When I started to feel sorry for myself today, I pulled up at a stoplight.  The car in front of me had a license plate holder that said “Jeremiah 29:11.” 

NIV: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I know the holiday season can be lonely, and full of expectations that may not be fulfilled.  I find that what helps me take the focus off myself is helping others in some way, staying in His word, taking a walk, and listening to praise music, or an encouraging podcast.  

I’m praying you all have a safe and joyous remainder of the year, and stay focused on the most important person of all, Jesus.   

The Day Before

Recently, I took an emergency preparedness class through the city I live in. In the class the instructor showed us a video of a normal day of two people going through the motions of waking up, brushing their teeth, going to work and getting in bed at the end of the day. At the end of the video a phrase flashed across the screen. It said this is “The Day Before.”

These words resonated with me and how we go about our normal daily lives going through the motions.  From waking up to fighting traffic, to working, eating, cooking, cleaning, laundry, repeat. How much of this time are we spending it on things that truly matter? 

I was cooking dinner when my daughter came into the kitchen asking me to come look at something in her room.  My response was “Can you just take a picture and show me?” She answered “sure,” a little dejectedly.  A feeling of shame came over me.  Was I that busy that I couldn’t take one minute to walk over and look at what she was showing me?

It is so easy to get so sidetracked and focused on the unimportant things in life, like cleaning, YouTube, TV, Facebook, especially after a long day on the job. If I can zone out and not think after a long day then sure, that may feel good for a bit, but am I making an eternal difference?

In 2 Peter 3:10 it says “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

The truth of the matter is we don’t know how much time we have on this earth. Tomorrow is not promised to us. Are we putting off things that can be done today to tomorrow? If you are thinking, “Tomorrow I will go apologize to that family member that I argued with,” or, “Tomorrow I will return that money that I took” I urge you to not put things off any longer. Repent, turn to Jesus and accept Him.

Remember, this is The Day Before.

Are You Preparing to Die?

In 1 Kings 17 it talks about a widow that had no food in her house, and her debtors were coming to take her son.  It says she was preparing a meal for her and her son and they were preparing to die.  The widow was gathering sticks when she met Elijah the prophet.

            1 Kings 17:10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

When I reflect on these scriptures I think about how many times I prepared to die.  I faced circumstances that seemed unsurmountable .  After my husband left I didn’t think I could make it through life without him and with three kids.  The challenges of work life, home life, and lack of money seemed too much for me.  

Not too long ago I had just gotten paid and the money was gone before I knew it. I was so frustrated and told God “You said you would provide for me and I don’t think you’re doing a good job of that.” It brings tears to my eyes now, that I doubted God for one second. Well, two days later I was walking into church, and a young woman came up to me and said that she had gotten an unexpected check in the mail from a car accident years before, and the Lord had put me on her heart. It brought tears to my eyes, and I was quite emotional and it took me quite a few minutes to compose myself and walk into church.

If you feel hopeless, I urge you to cry out to Jesus.  Ask Him for help, tell him what’s on your heart.  Are you in debt? Are you too tired that you feel like you can’t go on another day? Are you sick? Did your relationship just crumble? Sometimes life just runs us over, and it seems that we can’t go on anymore.  

But you know what? There is hope.  There is always hope.  It says in Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  

He can turn your circumstances around suddenly, and nothing is too great for Him.  If you haven’t asked Him for help, I urge you to cry out to Him today, and watch Him show up in your life.  

Who Are You?

Who do you say you are?

If someone were to ask you that what would you say? Would you say “I’m an attorney, or “I’m a basketball player” or “I’m a musician.” If someone were to ask me before, I would say “I’m a wife and mom.”  

After my husband and I separated, I didn’t know who I was.  I was a wife for so long.  I remember walking down the aisle at the grocery store, reaching out to grab my husband’s favorite foods, and then remembering we were no longer together and putting his favorite food back, reluctantly.

I remember when I was younger all I wanted to be was a wife and mom.  I felt since I was not really someone’s wife anymore that my identity was stripped away.  It was depressing and lonely.  People would tell me “Just focus on yourself.” And, “What do you like to do?” Well, that sounded like great ideas, but I didn’t know what to focus on, or what I liked to do.

For so long all I would do was go to my husband’s sport games, or watch whatever he was watched on TV.  (I know this sounds pathetic.) But looking back, I put so little effort into myself.  I put all my energy into my husband that I neglected myself and that is unhealthy.

Before you are a daughter, or a son, or a sister, brother or husband, or an entrepreneur,  you are a child of God.  You know what God says about your identity? 

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be

I had to learn that after what I thought was my identity was stripped away from me that “wife” was just one facet of who I was.  My whole self was wrapped up in that word, wife.

You know what I discovered? I am a daughter of the one true King.  That is who I am foremost.  Yes, I am a secretary, yes, I am a mom, but that is not my identity.  I had to go to God’s word and read what He says I am.  Only then could I come to terms that even though wife may not be relevant to me anymore, I am still beloved by the greatest Father of all time. 

In fact, He sent his son to die for you.  That’s how much He loves you.  I will leave you with one last scripture to think about.

Isa 49:16 “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

If your identity rests in your career, or your “title” I urge you to read what The Lord says about you.  He loves you so much, even without that Ph.D.