Monday, October 30, 2006

Testing 1, 2, 3...

This is the year of the Lord's favor. Favors from the Lord usually begin with a test, and He just handed Bob and me the biggest test of all.

Fortunately, Jesus has given me such a peace through this whole month, and now that we're nearing the end of October, it still hasn't waned in the slightest. I'm thinking it's because the testing hasn't even begun yet. Darn! The number one reason for our arguments usually has something to do with our finances, or it always comes back to that. And that's what our test is on. God has a way of putting the biggest stumbling block in our marriage right in front of us and saying, "Go ahead and climb over. Together. And once you do, I have blessings for you." This can either be an extremely good thing for us to do together, or it can really hurt us if handled badly. I know, either way, I'm going to be praying extra hard to keep His peace comin'.

We have no money. We got paid Friday and it's gone due to the big bills (rent, car insurance, and childcare). We got about a month and a half behind on bills while I did my MA directed practice, and we're still trying to catch up. It could have gotten so much worse than it did, and so I'm still optimistic. Bob, not so much, but that's because he really hasn't ever been aware of our bills and money, etc. Anyway, on Saturday, Bob comes home from work announcing that his car is done. Fineetay. Finished. Crap. It's his transmission. He took me on a little drive around the block and I agreed wholeheartedly that the car is broken. So now we're sharing the Pontiac. And we probably will keep sharing for quite awhile, considering we have no money. No savings. And bills bills bills. We even had to use the credit card because of diapers and gas. I have to hand it to Bob though, he has been VERY optimistic about our money situation this week. He even told me, "I think this can be a good thing. We'll save on our insurance, and we'll spend more time together. " Be still my heart. Did he just say that? I am sure that this God Test will in fact bring us closer together financially and emotionally. This is something that we need to do.

I'm hoping we'll have all our bills caught up and squared away by next paycheck. I'm praying. Then comes the next word: budget. It's funny how God works, that He gives us a test that requires patience and self control from both of us (which neither one comes close to our strongest traits). God is working something in us, something I am definitely aware of, something deep. Bob and I were sitting on the couch this weekend, talking about money, or lack thereof. I said something about how I am not worried about it (and it's not a lie!) and Bob said, "That's because you found a peace with yourself about it." I corrected him and said,"not witih myself, but with God," and he said, well, okay, with God. I point this out because I hadn't told him that I had a peace with God this whole month about our financial situation, but it has gotten to the point that it is visible in me. Bob also went to church this Sunday without me saying a single thing. It was good too, and I was able to apply the sermon to our situation. I love it when I can do that. He also put his Bible in his work van this morning, so he can read it and think about God more.

This test could possibly be our biggest breakthrough together, and instead of being worried about our money troubles or stressing, I am excited. Completely and truly excited for this test.
I want to talk to someone about it, like Michelle or Roberta or Deb, and tell them what I believe this test will do for our lives. The potential it carries!! I don't know how long this test may last, how hard it will get for us, but I know one thing- God will honor my heart after it's all through. I will turn to Him in hard times, I will never stop believing that God wants more for my life than just skimming paycheck to paycheck. He wants SO much more for me and Bob. I never worried about tests in school, and I won't worry about this one either. God won't dish out anything He knows we can't handle. But let me tell you, once this test is done, I'm gonna sit back and enjoy the blessings!

A Prayer
Oh Lord, thank You for everything that You have given us. Our health, our children, our home, everything. I pray for Your supernatural strength and patience for this test You've given us. I also pray for Your wisdom for Bob and I to use for our finances. I pray for Bob, Lord, that he may not feel any stress or tension when it comes to money, that he will give his burden to You Lord, so that You may carry it instead, and that he will feel comforted knowing that You will provide for us. I pray that Bob won't feel depressed or down, that he will be comforted with the knowledge that he is a good provider and father. I pray that I will have the courage to pray with Bob outloud at night or whenever the need arises, and that I will keep my eyes fixed on You, Lord, even when my world is crashing down and darkening all around me, because You are my Light, my God. Amen

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The First Stone

Good news! I haven't had any fits of frustration, nor have I cried over any lost remotes since I've written about it! I totally give the credit to God. I asked for help and He gave it. I went to church like I was supposed to, and had a good time in the kids class. I've also listened to the sermon in my car on CD. I LOVE it. Pastor Frank talks about what to do when your life falls to pieces. Who do you turn to? Well, the obvious answer is God, considering this is a church sermon. He gave examples, and it was funny how just about all those examples have impacted my family's life.

Here are some of the examples he gave. "What do you do when your son tells you. 'Dad. I need to tell you something...I'm gay'". I don't think my parents ever sat down and talked about it with my brother. He just came out. "What do you do when your daughter tells you, 'sit down. I need to tell you...I'm pregnant."' Well, that was me. Single, pregnant teen mother. And Pastor Frank tells us how, in one word, your life changes. Divorce (only one that didn't apply). Cancer. You're Fired. And the sermon goes on about how it' s understandable why one would turn away from God, instead of turning toward Him in the face of adversity.

This sermon really got me thinking about how lucky I am. How lucky I go to this church. It made me really question how my faith would hold up if any of this happened to my family, if I changed places with my parents. And it amazes me how much faith my mom has since she has gone through it all. This sermon also had me thinking about memories I have. Memories that help build my faith, and I want to write about my first longing I had for God, one that worked as my first stepping stone toward my relationship with Jesus Christ.

My first stepping stone memory I remember well and I tell people of it often. I was a sophomore in high school, in gym class. At this time I've been out of Catholic school for years and I never thought about God or church. My friend, then more like an acquaintance, Elizabeth and I were walking around the gym with another girl named Julia. Julia was one of those dark, brooding, troubled girls who dressed in black, wore black lipstick, and probably didn't come from a very loving family. I remember Elizabeth, a strong Christian, telling Julia about God, how he loves her. And I remember Julia flying off the handle, yelling back at Elizabeth, "God doesn't do anything for me, I f----ing hate him! F---- God!" She said more, but it was all pretty much the same thing. I think she even flipped God, or the gym ceiling, the bird. I was mildly shocked at Julia, wondering where this anger came from, but was even more shocked when I looked at Elizabeth. I was very surprised to see tears streaming down her cheeks, and I asked her what was wrong. "He's my God, I love Him with all my heart, and it makes me sad to hear anyone talk about Him that way." In that instant, I longed for that. I yearned for that kind of love with God. I wistfully thought to myself, I want what she has. I want that kind of feeling for God. I vividly remember how that longing felt like to this day, and it is why I absolutely believe He made us to need Him. I felt that need. Elizabeth has since been a faithful friend and I will never forget her friendship and acceptance when I found out I was pregnant and my close friends had me ranked low on their priority lists.

I didn't give myself to God after this encounter until years later. I probably didn't give it a second thought later that day. But it did plant a seed in my heart, a God seed, and even though the seed didn't start growing for over a year, it was there.

I'm going to write more about this subject and more on my memories, but I'll wrap it up for now. When it comes to my relationship with God, it's amazing how far I've gone, and even more amazing how much I still have to work towards.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Needs

I love the Breaking Free bible study. Even though I'm doing it for the second time, I still learn more and more from it. It was nice going to bible study, since I've missed the last two weeks. It's nice to know that there was a group of people praying for my dad. I totally believe God intervened on my dad's part several times during the whole preparation for the surgery as well as the surgery itself. First, there was the surgery cancellation which gave my dad a spot for surgery more than a month earlier. And who wants to be in the hospital having surgery a day before Thanksgiving? Then there was his potassium levels that they caught 24 hours before his surgery, so he was barely able to have the surgery because of the potassium supplements. His levels were 3.2, and if they were lower than 3.0, they would have had to cancel the surgery. Then the surgery itself! What a miracle! The doctors were expecting the surgery to last for 3 hours, and it went so well it took them 1 and a half hours! And now my dad is nicely drugged in the hospital, doing well. Praise God!

In bible study last night the topic was broken hearts, and how Jesus is the ultimate Healer. I firmly, firmly believe that. I also believe that God places things in front of our faces to remind us of what we still need to ask for healing in. For example, I haven't spoken to Dewayne in about 3 years. I've moved on, gotten married, had another baby, and I'm happy! Out of the blue in February, Mira gets a birthday card from him. Upon reading the card, all of the hurt, the anger, the disgust, it just spilled out. I was SO upset. I called up my friend Michelle and was reading the card to her over the phone. Before, I felt justified to be angry with him because of our past. But, after I read it I just felt..deflated. I knew I shouldn't feel like that, I knew there was no reason to get as upset as I did over that. Michelle was honest and told me that this card may be what I needed to see how angry I still was toward him, how I haven't forgiven Dewayne, and how this could hold me in bondage for as long as I keep this inside me. Gotta love her. Well, that day, that hour, I asked God to please, please please help me to truly forigve Dewayne, not to dwell on the past, and to take away that anger I had. Not because my friend told me, "wow Cathy, you have so much anger, you gotta get rid of that." Because I needed to be healed, to stop the hurt, the anger from infecting any other part of my life. And He did. Now I can look back and see how the hurt did affect my life. I confess that, before, sometimes when Mira smiled a certain way I saw Dewayne's traits, and I wished she didn't look so much like him at those times. Without the anger, I just love it when she smiles regardless of the traits that come out. She has a beautiful, contagious smile. To this day, I can say that I wish Dewayne the best, and I truly, truly mean that. I don't feel anger towards him at all.The only thing I feel toward Dewayne is sadness because he will miss knowing a very caring, bright, funny little girl, his own daughter. I am so grateful for my husband and how he provides Mira a loving, caring daddy that won't ever abandon her. Even though they aren't blood related, they're heart related.

In the Breaking Free video, Beth Moore talks about how, when certain things happen in our lives, we develop needs. This can range to females straining to find love and affection in guys for whatever reason, to males needing space from a smothering relationship, you get the picture. One of my annoying "needs" is the need to feel attractive. And no, my parents had nothing to do with this. Everyone wants to feel wanted and attractive. I was a chubby kid until about junior high, but even when I slimmed down I always felt like someone else was prettier than me. My friends had boyfriends, and I didn't. Yadda yadda. A million girls can relate. But when a guy came along that thought I was attractive, I kinda clung on to him..like a mosquito to the buffalo. Even today, I always ask Bob, "How do I look? Do I look okay?" and then I comment on how not attractive I am. He gets tired of it. Another annoying "need" is to feel wanted. And yes, my parents made me feel wanted, this has nothing to do with them. This kind of goes hand in hand with feeling attractive. If I feel like my husband doesn't want me, then I don't feel attractive. Bob gets tired of this too. So basicly these two needs aren't met. I'm not blaming Bob at all, it's me. The only one who can fill all my needs all the time is my Lord. He never tires of fulfilling my needs and when I ask Him to fill them in the morning, I can be full, satisfied. And then the rest of it, like compliments from hubby or my children or someone, is just gravy (as Beth Moore puts it) or pecan topping. My God never makes me feel unwanted, and He makes me feel beautiful. If I ask for my needs to be filled in the morning, then by the time I go to bed at night I don't feel like I was lacking anything that day.

The video ended with something that hit me close to home. She simply said, "Let your spouse off the hook for not being God." Everyone gets disappointed by someone. I can't expect perfection from Bob, but I'm sure sometimes he feels like I do. And I probably do. It was just real eye-opening for me, from that simple statement, that it was completely unfair of me to expect Bob to be perfect and to fill all my needs and be sad and mad if he didn't. God wants me to turn to Him for all of that. Bob supports me emotionally and physically, but, even if Bob tried doing everything right, he would fall short to satisfy my needs. People talk about how they feel so empty inside and they don't know why, or they aren't satisfied with their life even when they have so much. God designed us to need him, to fill that empty void people have. Instead of filling the void with "needs" like more money or a bigger house or a nicer car or more friends or a relationship, fill it up with God, and then the rest are just blessings in your life. Your pecan topping. Those other needs are disappointments waiting to happen because they will never fill your spirit, but God will never disappoint you, just ask Him to fill you. I realize that I need to focus on Bob as a blessing, not a requirement to my happiness. Bob shouldn't be my God, he should be my gravy.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Overthinking

My husband pointed something out to me today, that I overthink things. Everything is how he put it, but he's also Mr. Exaggerate. Come to think of it, maybe I do. For example, I told my husband that I was going to take a nap. Before I told him this though, I went through a list in my head: What needed to be done before I took a nap? How tired was I? What could I do instead of taking a nap? How long should I take a nap? Is there any reason why I shouldn't take a nap? And then I start my list of why I feel justified taking a nap and why I could feel guilty taking a nap. When I was about to tell Bob I was going to take a nap he was busy cleaning the garage, which started a whole new weighing of the pros and cons of whether or not a nap was a good idea. Does he think I need to clean up more because he is? Maybe he'll think I'm lazy if I do. When I finally told him, I attached a lengthy justification onto my I-am-taking-a-nap statement. In the middle of it, he stops me and says, "Cathy, go and take a nap. It's okay. You overthink everything."

This got me thinking. More. Could this be the reason why I get so easily frustrated? Like when my toddler gets into everything and makes a mess and then I think about how hard I cleaned earlier and how many times I have to clean up after him for the rest of the day and I how I wish he wouldn't toss all the plastic sandwich bags on the floor and so on.

For the past month or so, I haven't really been myself. Very short, frustration just a split second away. I mean, today I was so upset I started crying not once..twice! And what got me this upset? Timmy getting into stuff after I just cleaned, and...losing the remote control. I couldn't find it. I actually wasted tears on this! Sunday night television is definitely not important to me, and I wasn't crying because I wanted to watch t.v. and I couldn't change the channels. I know that I was definitely overthinking big time while I was searching for the remote. Things that I really don't mean to think, if you know what I mean. I was thinking about stuff like Bob was in the garage, and he doesn't care that I am looking for remotes and the next time he wants me help him find something, well, too bad for him. I really don't mean that!

In the last month, I've started a new job, which in no way whatsoever is stressful. It's really great, in fact. What has also changed is not going to church regularly. I think there lies the answer. I get such a refreshing feeling when I go to church on Sunday, and by next Sunday I am in need of another. My husband has told me more than once, "Go to church Cathy, you seem much happier when you do." Today, I didn't go to church. Why? That's the thing! There was no reason why I didn't go to church today. My daughter told me she didn't want to go to church, and I said, ok. I gave myself excuses, such as, "Oh, it's raining, you don't want to drive in the rain in Portland, because you know you got into a car accident over there." I got into a car accident over a year ago, and I'm not traumatized over it. It was a lame excuse, but it got me to stay home. I went to One Night With The King last night with my group of friends from church, and it was so much fun! I had every intention of going to church yesterday and the day before. But when it gets to Sunday morning, I don't know what happens. What I really need to do is pray about it. Make a point to talk to my church friends this week. Ask for prayer for..whatever I'm dealing with.

I am participating in Beth Moore's Breaking Free bible study, which is life changing for me. I LOVE it. One of the chapters talk about confessing your sins to the Lord. Confessing doesn't mean listing all the things you did wrong that day. Confessing means being sincerely sorry for what you did. Before reading this chapter, it wasn't unusual for me to pray like this: "Lord, please forgive me for , I was having a really hard day today and I didn't get much sleep and ," etc. What was I trying to do, bargain with God? He sits up there listening to my silly "confession" thinking, "Cathy, you are absolutely right, you barely slept and stuff has been hard on you, I forgive you." No way. Beth Moore writes, Confession is when you see your sin from God's point of view. There are no excuses for sinning. And a confession that comes with an excuse is really no confession at all, because in your heart you don't see your sin as a big deal, you don't really think you did anything wrong. Now, I could confess with my mouth and say all the right things to God, no excuses said outloud, but maybe I have excuses in my heart. Hah, God doesn't listen to my words, but looks straight into my heart. When I am deeply, deeply sorry for a sin, sometimes I don't say anything other than, "Please forgive me God, please forgive me." At that point, I don't overthink anything. I don't overthink about the situation I am pleading about. If I do, then I'll find some excuse to cover my sin with.

God's point of view doesn't need to be complicated with a lot of overthinking. Either I sinned or I didn't. I have sinned by not going to church because I KNOW that it's the best thing I can do for myself right now. I know God would want me in church, and not at home to get frustrated or pick and nag at Bob. So tonight, I will ask for forgiveness. Knowing that He will grant me forgiveness doesn't take away my conviction of wanting to tell Him how sorry I am for letting Him down. It's comforting to know that He already knows how I feel. This overthinking stuff is very taxing, exhausting and I have to stop. No more crying episodes! If this is supposed to get me motivated to go back to church and really focus on God thoughts instead of my own pointless overthoughts, then it's worth it. Well, next Sunday will be different. Honestly, I can't miss next Sunday because I have to work in the kids room that day. But it's a start.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A First for Everything

This is my first time blogging...ever. I'm using this as an outlet, like many other people who blog. I have been reading a very popular blogger's site and I am amazed at how open and honest she is. She doesn't care about the many nasty comments she receives, people telling her she contradicts herself, she's too judgmental, she shouldn't write what she does, yadda yadda.

Anyway, I want to try writing about things near and dear to my heart, such as my relationships with my family and my heart's passion, which is my relationship with my God, my Savior, my Lord. I am hoping that through this I can document how My Walk with God is going, what direction I am heading.

I massively struggle daily with My Walk, in many areas of my life. I'm too grumpy or impatient with my kids sometimes. I don't show my husband how grateful I am for everything he does for our family. My cats really tick me off. It takes me awhile to let certain things go. I don't give everything up to God like I should. Just admitting these makes me swallow a little harder than usual, because now that I've written it down, it's there for me to read, not so easy to forget. I have to have faith that God will pull through for me. And I also have to work on my end of the bargain as well.

I know I could go on much longer than this, but it's late, and I have to get to bed, but first, I want to share something. I was listening to Scrubs on TV, and one of those doctor people said, "Nothing worth having comes easy." A relationship with God is something worth having. I know My Walk won't be easy, but it's my job to get off my butt and work on it. God has been waiting for me for a long time.
Here's to a different approach I've never tried before. Here's to a first in something! My first God Blog! Good night! God Bless!