Quiet the Noise

I had a bad day. Everyone has them, those sneaky moments of weakness that if you don’t control your emotions can lead you down a spiral of negativity. I’ve been going deeper in my faith, learning how to trust, but sometimes I am tested to see how strong I really am. This was one of those days …

Quieting the noise in my head seems near impossible. I can’t even describe what it is. How did it get so loud? How did it get so uncontrollable? Where did I steer wrong? I was going strong. I was having breakthrough after breakthrough. My confidence was soaring. My faith was getting stronger.

It’s almost as if, out of nowhere, a giant blockade ended up in my brain and made everything go black, regressing all my hard work. Then I heard myself start questioning God. Why is this happening? Why does my next breakthrough seem so far away? What do I have to do to get past this? Why this struggle?

Trying to find joy in the midst of my circumstances is overwhelming. I keep telling myself it could be worse and that it won’t matter five years from now, but those reassurances just don’t seem to help. I wallow in my pain when I should take my eyes off my circumstances and look outward. I struggle to find joy when I have so many blessings around me. I so badly want to get back to that place I was at — that place of peace. I want it more than anything right now. I was a better wife, mother, friend, and person. How do I get back there?

I need the noise in my head to go away. I need to quiet the noise so I can hear God’s whisper saying, “Hold on a little longer. I’m right here, and I have big plans for you. I need you to trust me and walk with me, so I can lead you to the promised land. I never said it would be easy, but I am right beside you and won’t let you fall.”

 

The noise in my head is unbearable;

It’s overpowering my thoughts

It won’t quiet down or stop;

It’s making my brain go blank.

 

The noise in my head tells me

I’m not worthy;

The noise in my head says

To quit where I’m at

The noise in my head gives me

Every reason to give up on myself.

 

I need to quiet the noise,

So I can hear God’s gentle whisper

I need to quiet the noise,

So God can work in my life

I need to quiet the noise,

So I can love who I am

And who I was created to be.

 

When I try and quiet it,

The noise just gets louder

The noise screams in my ear,

You’ll never be good enough!

You’ll never amount to anything!

 

The noise tells me not to trust anyone,

That I have to do it on my own

The noise tells me that others don’t care

Or understand What I’m going through,

So why bother them with my feelings

My feelings don’t matter

 

Then I hear the gentle whisper

That says to me I don’t have to be good enough

I don’t have to have it all together

I only have to be willing,

And trust in what is good and right and true.

 

I slowly rise and get back up

I brush the dirt off my legs

I tell the noise it has to stop

Because the only voice I will listen to

Is God’s quiet, gentle whisper of truth.

 

Am I alone in these feelings? I don’t think so. I think others have had this same mind/body struggle. It’s hard to put into words the deep emotions that arise when I let the lies overpower the truth. So I had a bad day, and maybe you did too, but we have to remember that God is good all the time. He wants what is best for us, but we have to keep the noise out. We have to be willing to trust. We have to be willing to listen for the whisper. Because of this, I will brush myself off and get back up. Tomorrow will be a new day, and it will be a good one because I choose for it to be.

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Called to be Free

We were called to be free. We were not made to be in slavery, but often times we find ourselves in bondage to things that occupy our mind or time, things that take us off track from our purpose.

We were called to be free, but this doesn’t mean we can do whatever we please. God has bigger plans. We are to use our freedom to serve others. That is what any active military is doing right now and what veterans have done in the past. The men and women who fight to keep our country free don’t do it out of selfish ambition. They do it for their mom and dad, brother and sister, friends, classmates, neighbors. They fight for people they don’t even know. They fight for me.

These men and women had a choice, and they decided to use their freedom to serve others. That is an act of love. I am so thankful that there is someone willing to fight for me – to fight to keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It takes tremendous courage to stand up and say yes to the calling to serve our country and go when others won’t. It takes courage to make tough decisions in the line of duty. It takes courage to stand tall in the midst of mediocrity.

When my mind wanders to other things and puts me in bondage from truly fulfilling my purpose, I need to remember what those who came before me have done. I may never be called to active duty, but I am called to be free. And I need to use that freedom as God intended – to serve others with abundant love and with a thankful heart right where I am, right now, because others were willing to serve and fight for me.Called to be free verse -- JPEG

My Daddy

Happy Father’s Day!!!

***

My daddy taught me many things

He taught me how to fly

He believed in me when others wouldn’t

He’d comfort me when I’d cry.

***

My daddy thought the world of me

He said I would do great things

He was always in my corner

Excited for what life would bring.

***

My daddy cheered me on

He was my biggest fan

He always saw the best in me

He knew God had a plan.

***

Now I am away from home

With a family of my own

But he still believes in me

Even though I’m grown.

***

My children now adore him

He teaches them to fly

My boys love spending time there

Which brings tears to my eyes.

***

My daddy means the world to me

I love him through and through

He is the best dad I could ask for

His belief in me I will live up to.

The Gift

I was having a bad day. Things were not falling into place the way I thought they should. Things were not going my way. Because of this, I started getting a “why me?” attitude and had a pity party with only one invite – ME.

My mind started wandering about why things weren’t going right. Maybe I am not good with people. Maybe I said something wrong. Maybe I’m not worthy. All kinds of thoughts flooded my mind, and none of them positive. This started me on a downward spiral of negativity and complaining. I started making excuses for why I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

I did eventually snap out of it and replaced my thoughts with positive words. My attitude turned around when I decided that the circumstances didn’t matter because God is no respecter of persons. He wasn’t tormenting me and making me have a bad day. I simply chose to focus on the negative rather than to stand on my faith and the promises of God. I chose a bad day.

May 2014 110That night at a business meeting, I was sitting next to a young woman I didn’t know. Conversation started when I complimented her beautiful, black and white, beaded necklace with a mesh flower attached on the side. We got to talking about our families and found a lot of commonalities. In the midst of a hard day, I had managed to make a new friend.

The thing that struck me the most was that at the end of the evening, she turned to me, took off her stunning necklace, put it in my hands and said, “This is a gift from one mom to another.” At that moment, I realized it didn’t matter how my day went. It didn’t matter what was going on in my life. What mattered most was that I took my eyes off me and my problems and moved them onto serving others selflessly. The way to stay joyful in the midst of trials is to do something for someone else knowing I am making a difference in her life whether it benefits me or not. Happiness is a choice.

My new friend blessed me that day. She didn’t know what challenges I was facing. She didn’t know I had a not-so-great day. She didn’t even know how I would respond to her kind gesture. But what she gave me was a gift that said, “You matter.” It was God speaking to me through her saying, “I’m here. I haven’t forgotten about you, sweet child of Mine.” It was God speaking to me through her telling me that He’s still in control and everything is going to be OK. What a heartfelt, impromptu gift of encouragement from one mom to another.

First Kiss

Wedding 3In our lives, there are many firsts – first step, first word, first birthday, first bike, first day of school, first scraped knee, first loss, first best friend. But one first that seems to stick with us is a first kiss. There’s something about that moment, that place, that time, that person. It’s a rite of passage moving us from childhood into adolescence and then into adulthood. It’s the feeling of euphoria knowing someone longs to be intimate with you – the first kiss.

I’m not talking about my first kiss ever. That would have been on the playground while I was being chased by the cutest boy in my first grade class, which I get teased about to this day by my family. I’m talking about the first kiss with the man I would commit to spend the rest of my life with. My soul mate. My best friend. Our first kiss is memorable, and there’s no forgetting the exact date – Jan. 28, 2006 – our wedding day in front of 400 of our closest friends and family. What?!

Yes, we waited to physically kiss on the lips until we said, “I do.” Call me crazy because it was my brilliant idea. I had been in and out of several relationships, some serious, some playful, but all ending with a piece of me missing. I knew the next relationship I would be in was the one I would stay in. I wanted it to be crystal clear that it would be my last romantic relationship, so I became a content single woman on an adventure of a lifetime!

Everything changed midway through my junior year of college when I came home for Christmas Break. I was volunteering at a high school conference with a sector of the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry. My friend, Josh, was volunteering too. I had always known I’d marry someone just like Josh, a patient, caring, passionate, straight forward man. However, I also knew it wasn’t him I was to marry; it was just supposed to be someone like him.

God had other plans though. That weekend God hit me with a bag of bricks, and I finally caved. I saw Josh through different eyes and in a different light. I suddenly found myself attracted to him in a more romantic way. This was simply frustrating to me, as just a couple months back I was completely content being single and independent, a free bird living life as I determined!

Well, things progressed. Josh felt the same way about me, and we began our courting relationship. The day I said yes to dating him was the day I knew I would marry that boy. However, I had made a commitment to myself that the next romantic relationship I’d be in would remain as pure as it could until our wedding day. I wanted my husband to have all of me and not just the leftovers. I had made other decisions in past relationships, but there is grace and forgiveness, and God made me pure once again. And that is how I intended to remain until I said, “I do.”

Wedding 2That didn’t mean it wasn’t a difficult year for us because it was. There were always temptations to cross the boundary that we had set, but on Jan. 28, 2006, when our lips first met after saying, “I do,” I can say it was well worth the wait. At that moment, we were united as one flesh, and it physically felt that way.

In the year of dating, we were able to form such a relational connection without the physical expectation. We grew to not only love each other but also to like each other, which would benefit us in the years to come. We knew we were together for more than just the physical attraction we had for each other because we had trained ourselves to dig deeper into an emotionally intimate relationship without the physical pressures.

Do I recommend this for everyone? No, each needs to figure out her own boundaries. But for me, it was worth it to be able to cherish a first kiss with the man God prepared my heart for. My wedding day was truly special, and it was the perfect last first kiss.

My Beauty Mark

March 2014 084I don’t get stretch marks. I don’t swell at my ankles or in my hands. I don’t gain a lot of weight, and I pop right back into shape – almost. But there is something that sticks with me after the 9 months of pregnancy comes to an end. What remains is a faint, distinct, charcoal-colored line stretching from my chest down through my belly button. Some may look at it as a flaw, but I call this my beauty mark.

How can a line down my stomach be considered something of beauty? It is a gentle reminder of God’s special gift to me – my children. There are three specific things this line represents in my life:

1. It is a reminder that I was chosen by God to be the mother of each of my three precious boys. When I see the faint line, I am reminded of the miracle that grew inside of me, who is now in my arms trusting I will take the best care of him that I know how.

Thankfully, I don’t have to have it all together to raise Godly men. I just have to lean on and trust in my Lord to get me through the ups and downs of motherhood, which includes praising him in the good times and praising him in the storm. God will not leave me, and He’s also placed really amazing friends and mentors in my life to help me on my journey. I never knew how much I needed the love and grace of other mothers. They are my rock that I lean on to make it through the tough days. They speak truth into my life, even if it hurts. They are true friends put in my path by God for a season, and it’s how I treat them that will determine how long they can stay.

2. My beauty mark is a reminder of God’s grace in my life. When I look into my children’s eyes, I feel so blessed to be their mother, but I also think about how I fall short as a woman. I’ve messed up too many times to count, but God doesn’t give up on me. He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 10:9).

I thank God that He didn’t give up on me because I know I may have if I were Him. How many times do I put a hand in His face telling Him my ways are better than His for my life? How many times do I say I will do something and immediately do the opposite? How many times do I turn my back on Him because I don’t like what He says? And yet, He never gives up on me. Because of this, I have no right to give up on my boys. No matter what the day brings or how I feel. My feelings are schizophrenic; they cannot be trusted. God promises that if we raise our children right, train them in the way to go, they will not depart from the truth when they are old (Prov. 22:6). That doesn’t mean they won’t mess up – because they will. But it does mean that the truth will be ingrained in them, and they will remember it when they are out of our care.

3. The charcoal marking is a reminder of God’s unconditional love for me. It is hard to imagine how long and deep and wide His love truly is, and that this love surpasses all knowledge (Eph. 3:17-19).

I love my children more than words can express. I will do anything to give them the best life possible. I will protect them if they are in danger. I will reach out my arms to them if they are hurting emotionally. I will kiss and wrap their wounds. I am a mamma bear, and I will protect my cubs. When I think about how much love I have for my boys, I cannot fathom how much greater the love of my Heavenly Father is for me. He gave the ultimate sacrifice, His Son, so I could be with Him in eternity. I would sacrifice myself for my children, but I wouldn’t be able to sacrifice my sons for the good of mankind, that’s for sure. God loves not only our talents, but He also embraces our imperfections. He doesn’t care about what I’ve done or what I haven’t done. He doesn’t care about who everyone else thinks I am. To Him, I am a child of the King, and I am loved in a way unknown to humanity.

The distinct mark stretching down my stomach represents three things in my life: I was chosen; God’s grace is sufficient; God’s love is unconditional. After all is said and done, what remains is that faint line of imperfection from childbirth – my beauty mark – reminding me how truly special my boys are and how blessed I am to be their mother.