Friday, October 17, 2014

Friends, flowers, and weeds.

Have you ever heard the saying "If friends were flowers I'd pick you" or "Friends are flowers in the garden of life" -- I have, plenty of times before and although those cutesy little sediments make for good on a front of a card, I have begun to think about them a little differently. Not too much, but enough.

I have begun to compare friendships to flowers and gardening. Now, before I go any further, I must say that I don't plant and grow flowers but I know the basics; and that is all that is needed here. I am just going to keep it simple.

I envision my palette of friendships as a garden. If I look at it this way, I see every friendship as a plant. Some, as flowers and some as weeds. Each one needs tended to in order to grow and the ones left alone tend to die. The gardener (or person with the friendships) gets the choice in which plants/friendships are tended to and how often they are tended to. The type of plant (or friend) also has determining factors. Just as friends both put into the friendship both the flower and the gardener have to help each other out in order to flourish.

It always starts with a seed. The love, attention, detail, time..ect. starts to grow the plant and over time the roots get deeper and deeper. The friendship more rooted and more beautiful. The flower is trusted, a staple to your garden and life. The roots grow deep and soon enough are down engraved deep into the ground, into your heart. As this works with flowers, this can also work with weeds if the friendship is a toxic one. The deeper the roots, the harder it is to remove and the more damage it is done when you go to remove it.

Sometimes, and always sadly, flowers get yanked from your garden. Someone comes by and plucks or yanks out that flower that you have so carefully been pouring your time and effort into, excited about what it will become. Or, drastically pulls a flower that you had so deeply rooted that a physical pain comes with it, literally rocking you to the core, because with those roots came ground and things are no longer what you thought. People also have a tendency to crush your flowers, walk on  your garden. Life seems to do this a lot, the storms come, people come stomping, or a rabbit gets into your beloved plants.

That is when you find out the hard way where the strength lies. Only the true ones make it out. The ones deep enough rooted or the ones dedicated enough to fight for you, to keep themselves planted because they mean something you to and you mean something to them.

Sometimes, as the gardener, you cause the chaos. Things must be uprooted and tossed because you thought you were sowing a seed that was a flower but instead it grew out to be a weed, a poisonous plant of some sort that you knew would be toxic to not only yourself but your garden as well. Sometimes though, we don't catch these until it's too late. They have already wrecked havoc, and yanking them seems almost impossible. As hard as it is though, you do it because you know it is worth it.

Starting counseling, I knew a change to my garden would eventually come to order.When I looked at it then, I could see a lot of weeds. There were some good, strong, and beautiful flowers, but there was more weeds than anything. Those weeds were deep and were starting to take over the few beautiful flowers I had. The start of maintenance to my garden did indeed come to order and it started with a rototiller and some weed eater.

I basically chucked all but two of those plants. The two flowers I had I worked around and I tilled that garden even though it hurt. Smoothed the soil, mixed in some fertilizer, tended to the two flowers I had left, and in the end, looked out to see my couple of pretty flowers with more empty space then I ever would have liked to see. 

It was hard, and painful to look and see my garden so empty. I realized that what I took out was not something that belonged there to begin with, but it hurt none the less. It hurt to look and see that out of all I thought I had, only two remained.

In a way, it was also refreshing. A brand new start. My garden was clean, tidy, and free of the weeds. The weeds that were strangling the actual flowers, and the weeds that weighed down my heart with such a force, I could sometimes feel it deep within, an almost literal pain.

Out of the pain that the tilling of my garden caused, a beauty started emerging, and still is. A chance to start pruning and growing what matters, and sowing new seeds with the hopes that I will have a beautiful garden. 

Over the little amount of time I have had with the new garden, a few things have happened. I stand here now, looking at it, with a small handful of stunning flowers. Flowers that I will protect with all I have. I would consider three, deeply rooted. Each a little deeper than another, withstanding trials, the storms as well as the sunny days. I have a few new seeds, new beginnings. I have a few sprouts, something that with time, has the potential to be beautiful, if it is able to grow how it needs to. I also have a few new plants, small but growing, thriving on the effort and working towards strong roots. Determined. Healthy. Promising.

I have also already pulled a couple weeds. Ones that somehow missed the tilling, showing themselves as flowers, only to reveal themselves later on as poisonous, threatening, and hurtful. I want no part in the weeds anymore. No part in the pain that weeds cause, to myself or the other flowers. And I don't have to have any part anymore. I don't have to keep thinking that the reason the weeds are there is because that is what I deserve or that is what I have to deal with or that it is because of me and is somehow all my fault. 

I know better now. Some plants are just weeds.

Those weeds, don't belong in my garden. So yee-haw little doggies, good bye you go and don't let the rabbit bite you on the way out. 

There is no room for weeds here! 

I am too busy tending to my flowers, nourishing and loving the ones that have been there, growing the new and beautiful ones that have come into my life and already shown me such love and care that a true friend should.

I am blessed. Although I have had to deal with weeds, I don't have to anymore, I am stronger and I know God's love, I can see it through the people He has placed in my life to love me and bless me, the flowers in my garden.

Friends are flowers in the garden of life- Thank the Lord for the garden He has blessed me with. And even, for the weeds I have had to deal with, for through them, I can see even more how beautiful my flowers are.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What do I let in?

When I was at the barn the other night, I was walking the length of the stalls, on my way out I believe. As I walked the isle, I saw the horses noses under the door, dutifully searching their piles of hay for the most tasty bite. I have seen this many a time, not just with their piles of hay but out in the pasture with grass, or searching through hands for treats, or going at their dinner grain.

Although it was not something new, or uncommon, a new thought went through my head as I watched the horses gently search through their hay. What if we were more picky about what we allow?

You see, horse noses are very sensitive. They can work their way through forage and find exactly what they want, even the tiniest bite. They can also find something they don't like and shove it aside, as well as something they shouldn't eat (like bad hay or a spider) and toss it aside. 

I began to take this thought deeper. Horses sometimes get free roam in a pasture and have many a choice of what they consume, much like humans. They pick and choose what they want, or what they feel is best for them. I have noticed that Chance seems to like the plants with the purple flowers and searches those out first. Then, he keeps filling his belly up with some good greens that he finds. He uses his nose to feel out the ground, searching for what he wants. Sometimes he makes a mistake- gets a prickly plant, a plant with roots attached, dirt, or maybe a bug now and then. Much like people, we search for the good and try to choose good but sometimes we make a mistake. 

This is where the choice comes in, do I consume it? Throw it out? Or let it consume me? He has done all of the above, as have I, and more than likely, you have to. But usually, we don't work so hard or search so carefully for the good. We don't consider what we are doing, and how what we may be consuming might be affecting us. We just consume it and move on.

Further thinking, at the time, I wasn't even thinking about the free roam in the pasture but actually more along the lines of hay. Hay isn't something the horses get free choice of. They are given some in the morning and at night and sometimes during the day as well. They like it, really like it, but could certainly like other types better than some.

Sometimes in life, we are thrown things. Thrown a big pile of stuff that we now have to make a decision on- what we will consume and what we will let lie. Each day, the horses are thrown hay, then they must make the same decision, what will they consume and what will they let lie. What is good for the taking and what hidden hurt could be in there? Will what I have just been given help me or hurt me? Will it be good for me or will it make me sick?

Will I allow myself to consider this and sort through it? Delicately choosing what to consume, just as a horse does? Or will I just take it as is and make the decision and pay the consequences later? Will I allow the bad things to consume me?

It's your choice, each and every day. What will you consume? Will you take the time to search through it and pick out the good things- in both free roam and when it comes to what is thrown to you?

You will make mistakes, consume things that aren't good. Even the delicate muzzle of the horses do. Some more dangerous than others, things get missed or hidden and unfortunately consequences happen. But, aside from those, picking and choosing and searching through is something you get to do.

 Don't worry about those things that may creep in there, just be conscious of what you are consuming and things will be okay, you will be better off knowing that you aren't letting the bad in- the worry, the fear, the negative words. Pick through and lay those out, let them be, no matter what is thrown at you. Be like the horse, be sensitive, pick through and take in the good and leave out the bad.

And always stay in communication with God. He knows best, and can direct you, watching over you and making sure you get exactly what you need and leave exactly what you don't need.

He even loves you enough to help you go through each and every pile of hay and each and every grassy pasture. Thing is though, you have to let Him and He will make sure you get the very best.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Saving graces in unexpected places.

Chance's Story

I have always been a horse lover. As a girl, I would find photos of horses and hang them around my room. When Lisa Frank stuff was the thing to have, mine would be the horse ones. I would beg and dream and hope that one day I would get to have a horse. Even as a highschooler, I picked a blanket with horses running on them, although I knew that a horse wasn't a reachable dream for me. As much begging as I did, my parents were not about to decide a horse would be something we would get.

I think even then, God was preparing me for this greater plan of His. Something that would save me in ways I didn't think was possible for an animal, and something that would ultimately bring me close to Him and see Him in ways I never would have imagined.

He never fails to know what I need, Chance was one of those things.

My life was in a low, dark place. The past storms of hurt had beaten me down and left me crawling through life, scared, alone, and with confidence the size of a peanut, and that was a good day. It was dark, I could see nothing but black, let alone any thing that would get me out of the continuous hurt. I tried to be happy and specifically remember being surrounded by people at a bonfire, taking pictures and smiling, but inside knowing that happiness was so far from where I was, that it was way beyond sight, let alone grasp. 

God knew the way out, I just didn't know that He was where I needed to turn. 

This place in my life, one of the lowest, was shortly before May 2013. Leading up to then, I still can't say happiness was something I knew. It was a stranger, passed briefly on the street. If I found it, it was brief, fleeting. It was better than my lowest, but not much.

Then God started a roll of events that would begin to change my life, a light in the dark that I was drowning in.

In April, my best friend took in three rescue horses. I was excited for her, but the way things were going, that happiness, like all, was fleeting. I only got to enjoy stories of the horses, although I begged to see them, meet them. In the rush of student teaching and the place I was in, it was nearly a month later before things finally came together and I got to go meet the horses. There were three: a mare, a gelding, and a stud. That, at the time meant nothing to me but I loved seeing them. Then expenses set in for my friend and she had the bright idea that I should also get a horse, the stud specifically. Not able to care for all three, he was on her list to go. Not ever thinking a horse was an option for me, I kinda laughed the thought off. It wasn't possible- was it? After shrugging it off a few times, I began to actually entertain the thought. Could I have a horse? How would I do it?

Then came the consideration questions- if I could have a horse, would he be the right one? Am I capable of riding him? By then, I knew what being a stud meant, and although he didn't act studly, I wanted some opinions. The response I got was discouraging. A stud wouldn't be a good beginner horse was what I was told and I was advised not to get him. I was a little bitter, I mean this girl I am pretty sure was telling me this because she was a horse lover with no horses who didn't want to see me get something she couldn't have. But, I didn't know much and felt as if following her advice would be wise, even if her motives weren't right. Little did I know that this was the first disappointment that was in fact God setting me up for what I needed.

After entertaining the thought, I couldn't shake the idea that I did want a horse and since I couldn't have him, I needed to see if there was one I could have. What is a better option for me? I didn't know, so I again followed different advice. All I knew, is that I wanted one now and I wasn't going to pay for one if  I could get one for free. The same person that told me to say no to the stud, found a free mare that I could have. After thinking on it, I was pretty sure it was something I wanted to try. I wanted a horse now, and didn't want to be stopped.There were some important details though- parent's approval was first. I approached my mom and talked to her about it a few times, but finally came to her about it seriously. She sort of laughed. I, to this day, still believe she didn't actually think I would get one. After her laugh, she responded with "sure, but it is your responsibility. You know you have to pay for it, because I won't." I knew that, I wasn't planning on doing it any other way. But then, where would I keep it? Somehow, in a crazy way that was only God, it fell together. My friend who had the rescues kept them at her neighbors, and somehow ( I don't even know how, since I didn't even know this family ) the family agreed to let me keep a horse there to. It was all God. No other way it could have happened.

But, I had a little learning to do before God provided exactly what I needed. I didn't know this was a lesson then, but I do now.

With things all set, I set off to get the horse, the mare, named Hope. I went to see her, decided then, loaded her up, set off, got back and got her settled in. I was ecstatic! A horse of my own! Finally! But, it wasn't the one God wanted for me. Although determined and excited, I was also clueless and starting to get confused. Hope, didn't seem to like me much. I couldn't even feel safe going up to her stall, she would turn and kick and just be mean. Turns out, it wasn't just me but everyone else at the barn to. That's when I was advised that it was best to return her (the old owners said they would take her back). I didn't want to- I had dreamed of a horse! I finally had one! And, I was supposed to give her back? I didn't understand. I felt like there was something I could do. After a few more days of this and being told that this could put me in the ER quickly or worse, I decided that it was the best choice to take her back. I was devastated. What would I do now? 

Turns out, God had a better plan. A more perfect plan. Although I didn't know then, he was putting me through a little test of trust. Something that I can reference even now and say, you know, God had better for me then, even when I didn't think or didn't understand or didn't even know Him. I made the decision to let go of something I wanted and thought I should get to keep and God filled my empty hands with the exact thing that needed to be there.

He came as a Zero, but he is my perfect Chance.

After I took Hope back, my new horse filled heart couldn't just not have that four-legged companion. I hurried home that night, sad yet determined. I jumped on Craigslist searching for a new horse. free, free, free. Which one was for me? I looked for a couple days I believe, not getting very far. Then an add caught my eye "for sale or trade" and it was a town within five minutes from me. "Well," I thought "I guess I could see what they want for trade. I am not going to pay money for a horse when I could get one for free but it is worth looking into, especially since he is close."

The next day, I called about that horse. Asked about a trade and really got an answer I didn't want to hear. "Well, I don't know. We honestly want money for him so we can buy our daughter a new saddle for her mini." Fair enough, but I didn't want a horse I would have to pay for, even if it was cheap for a horse. But something reeled me in. I ended up talking to this lady on the phone for a good 20 minutes. We talked about disposition, how this horse was and what I did not want to find in a horse because of what I went through with my last one. We talked about personalities, conflicts, and how she thought this could work. To end the conversation, I told her that I graduate college in a few days and asked if it was possible that I come take a look at him after I graduate. She agreed.

This is where God is seen so clearly again, it is unimaginable.

In the mix of graduation and such, I didn't get back to that lady for about a week. I called back not knowing what to expect, but God knew that I needed this horse. When I called I found out that many, many people had contacted her about him but she wanted to give me the opportunity first, since she had talked to me first. And she waited until I called before she let anyone else come to see him. This in itself, was huge. People are money driven and not always patient. For the price of this horse, he was a good, and I mean good buy ( I know that even more now then I did then, given I know how good he is now and the fact he is young as well ) but she decided to wait on me first. Wow. Hello God! I know this is what you wanted for me! Even more so now than I did back then- I know God meant him to be mine.

After going to see him twice and debating whether or not this is what I wanted, the purchase became final and to his new home he came. He came mid-afternoon and within the hour he was saddled and we rode around in the round pen to see how he would do. He did really well, we were impressed, although him and I both had a lot to learn. We even decided to see if he would walk beside me, saddled, and follow me without me holding him. Only one other horse at the barn did that- would my new fellow do that? He sure did. Followed right along side me, like he was meant to be there all along. We started our bonding there and have continuously strengthened it ever since.
Chance and I the same day I got him.

Next thing on the list, was his name. His name when I got him was Zero. It didn't take me but a hot second to know that I wanted to change it. What to change it to? What a decision that ended up not being a decision at all. Some how,  the name Chance came into my head and stayed there. I didn't think that is what I wanted it to be and was making lists and thinking up many different names I thought I would try on him. I even ran some by my best friend and after listing a few and laughing at what she thought of, I threw Chance out there and she didn't have any weird associations and actually said she liked that name. I wasn't convinced yet, but shortly after and no other names that really struck a chord for me, Chance it was. Since then, I have decided that Chance really is the perfect name for him. The name not only fits him, but it has deeper meaning to me as well. Although, the deeper meaning I have found in his name is a story for another day.

I never thought I would get a horse of my own, despite being a crazy horse loving girl as a child. More so than never expecting a horse of my own, I never expected a horse to be a saving grace in my life, to reach me and provide me light when I was in one of the darkest places I had ever seen. I am now out of that dark place in my life, but Chance is still a saving grace for me, a saving grace I never expected to find in a horse. I am so thankful I did though, and I am thankful everyday for the fact that I have him.

I am closer to God because of Chance to. I see God in the magnificence in this creature that He created. I see Him in the gentle and loving nature, that an animal that is powerful enough to kill me at his will, chooses each day to love me and humble himself to me each and every day. An animal that chooses to bond with me and love me instead. I see God's creation and beauty not only in this amazing creature He created, but as I take in the world and the beauty around me as I ride around on His back. Filled with a peace and a calm, connecting to God and His beauty, that I can only seem to find on the back of a horse. It really is a magnificent thing.

I thank God each and every day that sometimes His biggest gifts of grace are found in places we least expect it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Slow, not abandoned.

When I had my first blog one of the hardest things to do for it was- write. I would succumb to the pressure of those everyday bloggers with an amazing way with words and beautiful, self photographed pictures of stunning scenes and the most adorable children I have ever seen.

With this blog, I have decided I need to think differently. I need to walk away from any pressure that is "forcing" me to write and instead write when I feel like it. 

I more or less discovered this early this morning when I carefully carved time out of my schedule to do what I felt has been sitting on the top of my to-do list for weeks. I pulled up a new post and 45 minutes and 3 drafts later, I promptly shut my computer and went about my day. It didn't make sense to me! I have thought about things that I have wanted to blog about quite frequently. I have carefully un-jumbled my thoughts and words in my head and have "written" at least four posts since I have blogged last. Where did they go? And why now that I have time have they left me?

I suppose that sitting down and trying to force words and thoughts to un-jumble and flow from my head to my hands hasn't been something I have ever been good at. I mean, that's why I didn't go into journalism- well that and the fact I am very aware that I am not an excellent writer ;)

I have decided for this blog I must change that mindset of having to write and instead go with when I feel like writing. I have had the flow of thoughts from my brain to this blog within 15 minutes on a last minute thought to write and a topic that came out of no where. So I can write a well thought out post in less than 20 minutes, but when I try and force it, it just doesn't work.

So I will not try and force it anymore. If I have a wonderful post swimming around in my head and I have the time to write it, I will. If I don't then it can keep swimming up there and come back to surface one day when it is meant to. Making sure I post so many within a certain time frame though- not happening.

No more forcing my words, no more feeling pressured to write. It may take me awhile to convince myself of this but I will get there. 

But I just needed it to be known, that this blog journey is slow, not abandoned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Who has the reins?

God seems to reveal things to me in the most amazing ways. Sometimes subtly, with a softly whispered message or incident where I sit there wondering- was that God? Then I have to think, what exactly did He mean or did He want me to get from that? Even though I have to wonder, I know it is good, and I know it is from God.

Other times, God seems to reveal things more clear than I could ever think. Sometimes in these circumstances, I still sit and wonder "was that God there?" but then again, I see the message, I understand, it is good, and I know it is God.

I am learning to see God in the everyday. This doesn't mean I see him or see/hear something everyday that is this booming message to me, but I see what He is doing, how He is moving, or if nothing else, simply something beautiful in each and every day that He has gifted to me. A beautiful sunset, a kind word, a hug from a student, or a cool breeze that blows my hair across my shoulders and refreshes me from inside out.

Although I am starting to see more from Him each day, in many ways, I knew a long time ago that He frequently reveals things to me through one of my biggest passions- my horse and my love for horses.

I often see God when it comes to the horses. The majestic beauty of them. The pure muscle and power. The way they run, the way they look in the sunshine, the way they work, the way they please. 

The way they love. Such a majestic and strong creature, allowing the more feeble human upon its back. Creating a relationship and being gentle and willing, although they could most certainly throw you or hurt you in a second. It is so hard for me to put all this into words, as I melt at the thought of what my horse does for me, how he loves me, and how he ends up teaching me more than I could have thought- even about God.

I bring this up in this way because God revealed something to me yesterday, through my horse.

It was impeccable timing, quite interesting and something I believe God needed me to hear, and now wants me to share.

Yesterday, I went to the barn frustrated. I was, yet again, allowing people to control me. My heart was hurting because of something someone said/did, and I was allowing myself to stew in that, to be hurt, and to let it bother me. It had my mind, emotions, and decisions under its wrap. Now, mind you, I have become better with this since I began journeying with the Lord, church, and counseling, but it is still a major hurdle for me. I am getting there but the journey is slow, the advances come slow and short, but I am getting there none the less.

Anyway, as I was there I was talking to the owner of the barn. We were discussing the topic of letting others ride your horse. He was explaining the cons of it, how it isn't really good, depending on the person. For example, if the person thinks he/she knows what they are doing and chooses to do what they want, then there is the potential for bad things to happen. Under their control, the horse is allowed to get away with different things, and the person changes things, and so the horse, next time it is ridden, may try to change things on the owner as well. Sort of like a child that goes to a less strict parents for the weekend and comes back as a brat who throws fits. The other parent then has to work with the child again and remind the child of the rules, and how the fits and getting what he/she wants, isn't going to work here.

The horse is much like that as well. When a less experienced rider gets on and lets the horse do what he wants, then he is going to give me trouble trying to get away with those things with me, and I have to take the time to let him know it isn't going to fly with me.

Now, a visiting rider who is willing to listen is a different case. Someone who takes the time to listen to me, learn how he reins, how to listen to what he is saying, listen to me to know what he can and can't do, is much better off. They will feel more confident, he won't be a brat and push his limits, and when I return to him, I won't have to correct his bad behavior that he now thinks he can do. It also lowers the risk for injury for the visitor, because he knows he will have to listen and won't act up and scare them, and he also isn't getting frustrated by wrong cues.

This is the short version of the conversation, but for it all to fit, the big point is that when the horse allows his master to be in control and they work together and bond and have that relationship, everything goes so much better.

Are you picking up on my connection yet?

Well I didn't until I got home later that night, processing the conversation and frustrating events in my head. All the sudden the thought crossed my mind-

If you were the horse, who has the reins on you right now? It's not God, is it. Who and what is controlling you? You are frustrated, just like Chance gets when someone else is controlling him. But when you, his master, is in control, isn't he better? More calm, less frustrated, and more willing to listen and have things go well?

I feel that right there, God was telling me to think of this as Him being the rider and me, the horse. When I allow my God, my almighty master have the reins instead of someone else, things are how they are supposed to be. He, with my willingness is leading me in the direction I need to go. I, like the horse, can make my own decisions, but I trust who is in control and am letting Him show me the way. I put up a little resistance sometimes, unsure of the choice, I refuse and give trouble sometimes, and when that happens, He sometimes is able to make good out of it, something bad happens because I make the decision without Him, or I relinquish my control and give it back to Him, and He again guides me where I need to go. 

Do you see how this connects?

Now when I allow someone else to have the reins, it's generally not good. Just like with Chance, when someone else has the reins and he is controlled in an unhealthy way, he gets frustrated. He is going somewhere, but he is being pushed and confused and just gets frustrated by the mixed signals.

Much how I felt yesterday when I allowed someone to take the reins on my life, my emotions. I was unhappy, frustrated, and just didn't want to deal with it. And if I were a horse, I would have thrown up a buck and said I'm done.

This is how God told me- you would be a lot happier if you let me have control. It was quite a way to reveal it, but it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Now all this doesn't fit together perfectly. I mean there are and will be people who can get on Chance and do perfectly fine. But I can say now it's not going to be the people who think they can do it  by doing whatever they want and by thinking they know everything. I suppose this relates to the good in my life- the things that work with me and with God to guide me in life.

The main idea I wanted to get out of this is be careful with who and what you allow to have the reins in your life. God is always the safest bet- your loving master who will guide you and teach you and most importantly- do this all in a more loving way than you can ever imagine. Allow good things to sit up there and ride double with Him- although He is in control others and good emotions can sit up there and bring you good things. They can be up there and under His guidance, He can use those good things, allow them to rein with Him or under Him and lead you to good things. Just don't allow the bad to crawl up there and take over.  Yanking, pulling, frustrating you and controlling you into decisions and moods you don't want to be in. Eventually pushing you to throw in that buck or that bolt and give up.

Allow God to take the reins and allow good things and people to be up there with Him. When you let the bad control you, you get nowhere you wanna be. Just frustrated and bent out of shape.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Move.

Tonight, I am struggling. I am wrestling hard with many fears, anxieties, worries, questions, and I feel as if I can barely keep my head above water.

In my struggle tonight, brain whirring around thoughts and fears, trying to fight things off and running to God for comfort, I began to think of my Christian walk, my new Christian life, as a move.

I envisioned this new life with God, as a house. An immaculate, stunning, beautiful house set on land with a nice barn for my horse. The house has nice paint, a spectacular interior look, and a nice front porch. It is beautiful, a place I want to be.

Where I was, was very different. A small house, it kept me happy in my mediocre life but I wanted more. I wanted space, happiness, the smell of the fresh, country air. I would go by places like the first and wonder, what do they have that I don't? What do I need to get there? This is where I was, before I started getting to where I was living with Christ. It was a house, it was enough to live, but not always happily, or comfortably. 

When I started going to counseling, then church, things began to change. I began to realize where I was and where I needed to be. I decided that I was going to follow Christ, get my heart right with the Lord and make an effort to follow Him and make Him the Lord of my life.

This is when I made the decision to move.

I decided to pack up things and move to the house where I would be safe, loved, I could breathe the fresh air and be filled with happiness and the Lord each and every day. I was choosing to move away from where I was, to a place I would be much better in. From the old house, to the new.

I still feel as if I am moving, and this seems to be a hard process. I know where I want to be but now it is about getting there.

I am packing up things I want to take with me. Valuable, meaningful, and good things. This isn't painful. It is fun! Getting all the things that belong with me and putting them nicely in boxes, ready to find a new place where I am going. The memories, the love, the things that will travel this new journey with me. 

Then, there's the hard part. The things that I need to leave behind. The painful part of unearthing hurtful memories that were shoved in the back of the closet or hidden under the bed. Cleaning up messes and trying to hold back the tears as I realize that although this was a vital part of my life, it cannot come with me. It was a thing, a memory, but not a good one. Not one that belongs in such a beautiful place. These things will not bring happiness to my new place, therefore they do not belong there. They must stay behind, the mess must be cleaned up, the things dealt with and dumped. Forgiveness has taken place, now it is time to no longer carry those dark things with me, those things that were maybe once beautiful but now hold a bad memory, a dark message. 

Then, in the move, the people come into play. Who is going to rejoice with me? Who is going to be angry and pull away? Who will visit? Who will make the move with me? 

Who will I be forced to leave behind?

For me, this may be the hardest part of it all. I know this new place is where I need to be. The possessions, the packing, the cleaning, although some of that may be painful, hard, it doesn't even get close to the pain of when it comes to the people I care about. The people that I may be leaving behind, the people I may lose. Will they even visit? Maybe for awhile, but then will they even remember who I am in a few years? Or will I be just a faint memory? And what about them? Will they realize what they are missing? I hope so.

I know that this "house" this new life with God is what I need. So I have begun the moving process, looking forward to the day that I am in my new place, completely at rest, beginning to put the touches on it that makes this place mine. Maybe that is where I am now, but my mind is still stuck in the move. I fear for the people that I may be leaving behind as I go to this new place with the Lord. I want them to follow, to see what this new "house" has to offer. To see that it is just as easy for them to get as it was for me. You just have to ask, then make the conscious decision to make the move, to follow Him and to settle in a new and happy life. One of safety, where your amazing Father will care for you as you seek Him.

Maybe I shouldn't be concerned about the others, the ones that I may lose in this move. But I get scared. They mean a lot to me, and even though I know this "house" this journey, this Christ centered life is better for me, I am scared to think of what may happen to them, of what may happen to my relationship with them.

This is something I need to work on, focusing on God and not worrying about these things, because He has is covered. When it comes to people I care for, it is very hard not to worry about them. I don't want to leave them in the dumpy house. I don't want to leave them without God and have to fear that my new place will separate them from me. I will visit, I will make an effort, I will try to show them the wonderfulness of the place that they can easily be.

Ultimately it is their decision. Will they stick with the old house, or choose a breath of fresh air, of security that only the Lord can give? I can only hope they will follow. And I can only hope that this worry I carry in my heart for them will fade, that the Lord will comfort, and I can feel at peace knowing that the Lord is working in them and if it is something I end up losing, then it is something the Lord needed me to lose, so that I can draw closer to Him.

It is a hard move, a painful move at times. But it is also filled with so much joy, because this move is bringing me to where I need to be, with the one that loves me more than I could ever imagine.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Reflections on 22, Hopes for 23.

Today, I turned 23. 

In ways I am glad, but in ways, I am not at all happy about it. So is life though, right?

Let me start by reflecting on 22, which happened to be the year that standing here now, looking back at it, I don't know how I made it. It was a year full of so many changes, so much growing. Some I expected, some hit me like a brick wall. Some were good, some were bad.

At this time last year, I was just beginning my journey into student teaching. Terrified, to say the least, I didn't know how I was going to do it. Do I really have what it takes to be a teacher? Can I prove to them and myself that I didn't just waste three and a half years in school? I wasn't sure, although everyone else was. And they were right. I did a fantastic job, I proved to them (although they already knew), I proved to myself, and I came out with flying colors. My CT was impressed, my supervisors were impressed, and I was even nominated for student teacher of the year award. And those little first grade souls really impacted me hard. Everyone thinks I was the one who taught them, but it was the opposite, they grew me. They made me a better teacher, and I actually made it through student teaching- what I thought was an impossible task.

Then, I graduated, college! With honors! Who woulda thunk it? Crazy to think myself actually. I still sometimes can't believe that stage of my life is over. I mean, am I actually old enough to be graduated from college? It was a fun stage but I am certainly glad it is over!

(Preschool, High School, College)

And from there? Boy, did this end up being a trying time. What now? I am an adult, what am I to do now? Am I going to find work? What will I be stuck doing? I decided early on that it was okay if I didn't find a full time teaching job, that I would be perfectly okay subbing for awhile. Thank God, and I mean Thank God that God had a better plan for me. I do not like subbing, at all. I had an opportunity fall into my lap to teach in an after school program and even though it wasn't what I wanted, I took it. Good thing I did, I was wrong. This job is perfect! I am now involved in a well supported program. One with a great boss, wonderful co-workers, my best friend is my classroom aide, I have security and stability, am part of a program that is proving it self very effective, so much so that it has been extended into a summer program, and even more, I work with 12 second graders each day that are changing my life. Sometimes, I don't understand what God is doing in my life, but I am thankful that he knows, and that he said no to subbing and put me right where I need to be.

Aside from the new career journey, I jumped on the train of a new hobby journey. And at 15 some hands and 1,000 pounds, I can honestly say I didn't start small. Deciding to get a horse was a childhood dream that I just jumped into, but as far as I am concerned, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Chance is my 5 year old Red Dun quarter horse gelding and to be honest, I consider him to be one of the greatest blessings I have. He has quite the personality and can certainly act like every bit of the five year old he is, but he also listens to me and shows me love in a way that it seems only an animal can. Even though he is young, he is perfect for the beginner that I am. We are both learning together and enjoying this journey, with many things to look forward to in our lives together. 


Then, there was the bad stuff. The depression worsened, the anxiety worsened, the dread, shame, sadness..ect., all worsened. I started to sink deeper and deeper and I could feel the constant weight of it all, more often than not. People were starting to pick up on it a little, although I hid it pretty well. I can show certain pictures and know exactly how sad I felt when they were taken even though I am smiling and having fun I remember the dread and weight I felt and hoping no one would notice yet hoping someone would and would help me out of the darkness. Then I hit the bottom. I was really in that dark place awhile but that bottom was the darkest. Luckily, someone reached out and I took the opportunity. She lead me to my counselor, and I began that journey. My counselor is a Christian one and I know now was really the only way to go. She started working in me with God, and I began my journey of healing. I still have a long way to go but it did begin, and I have made progress. She also lead me to the church that I go to now, which is exactly what I needed. The atmosphere is comfortable, you feel like family, the people are kind, I can actually understand most of the message, and the pastor and church are really filled with the presence of God, which is necessary, and you can feel it! It makes so much of a difference. And this is where my God journey begins. More on that later though.

Those are the big things from my 22nd year. I have had others, a few friends come and a few go, other minor struggles and triumphs, but those if they are of importance, can find their way into my writing later.

For now, let's go on to 23. I want to start by saying that I am not happy with turning 23. I know it's not a choice but today was really rough. For a few reasons actually, but one would be that I turned 23 and I am nowhere near what I expected myself to be at 23, and I am not pleased with that. Granted, it's on God's time and I need patience, but it's hard to be at this point and know that where I thought I would be, I am nowhere close to. Maybe that's part of the plan though, not mine, but God's. Although I have trouble facing that sometimes, I know it is for the better, he has a better plan to me. Thank goodness for the new journey I am on so that I can realize that and not put myself even deeper to the bad where I was going, instead I am working on focusing now where God needs me, He knows the desires of my heart and will meet them if/when he feels right. Guess patience and trust is what I will be working on when it comes to Him.

For this year, I want my focus to be completely on Him. Getting to know him and getting closer to him. Knowing and feeling his love, promises, comfort, and all the many good things that he gives to us. This will be life changing. I plan to be more involved in the church and grow in the church family as well as in God. I plan to rely on him rather than others. I plan to define myself not by others but by what God sees in me. I plan to surround myself with good people, who will lift me up and not put me down.

Most of all, it will be my relationship with God that will be my focus. I am ready to become close to him, to make him what matters to me and to know him and be close to him. That will change me and I can't wait.

As far as other things, I do want to make the best effort I can and grow my friendships even more.  Grow with the ones that will make a good Christian surrounding for me, and the ones that I will need to help surround with God so that they can be part of the Christian family, the family of God.

I plan to continue to learn and grow with Chance. Allow him to work with me as I work with him. We are going to start wagon trains in the spring and it should be a lot of fun and make way for even more opportunities to see God's grace in the everyday, which is another plan for me.

I also want to grow in my teaching, maybe land a full time job but also be happy if I stay where I am at. No matter what I do, I want to do my best for the kids I will be teaching- and who will be teaching me.

I do also hope to find a guy, a guy that loves the Lord and loves me. A guy that I am comfortable with and who has many of the good qualities that need to be in a guy. A guy who treats me well and who will be good for me. I can only hope that this is the year for me, the year to land me a good one. Suppose we will see, but again, it's in God's timing.

In all, I feel this year will be a good year, despite its rough start and despite that this isn't where I planned to be. I know it will be good because I am with God now, I am giving him control and I am learning to trust him, surrender to him, be comforted by him, and so much more.

So despite not being where I planned to be, God has me where he needs me, and I am ready to see what he has in store for my 23rd year of life.

(Sunset over Wolf Lake Michigan, taken on my vacation there, Summer 2013)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The difference.

"Every time you care for someone you are impacting their life"

These are words the pastor said in the message last Sunday. I am bringing them up today because those words couldn't ring more true, and I want to talk about it, and how it pertains to me, now in my life.

Obviously, showing you care is very important. But how far does this care really go? Well, I can tell you, it surely helps heal the broken. I am broken, and although I am going through the steps to heal, the healing wouldn't work without a whole lot of care and love.

This may not be true for everyone, after all everyone is different. But for me, care and love is the most vital aspect.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Bible points out the importance of love. It says the greatest of these- the greatest. That means above the others. That must mean that love makes a pretty big difference doesn't it?

Let the truth me known, I love to love and I love love. Show me an ounce of love and I'm yours. Now, this doesn't mean I turn into a crazy stalker once someone shows me some attention, this also doesn't mean I drop my guard right away and just let easy access to my heart but when I feel you really care, I easily return the favor.

I feel it's very important that people know how loved and valued they really are. Maybe it's the teacher in me, the kind heart in me, or the fact that I know how it feels to think no one cares. So many people have made me feel completely disposable and unworthy, and I don't want anyone to ever feel that way because of me.

Love makes a world of difference. What is the best thing you can do for someone? In my opinion, it's simply to love them. Care for them. Show them that they matter- in this big, ugly world, they matter.

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."   1 Corinthians 13:1-3

We are nothing without love. And without the love of Christ, we really are nothing.

Let me break this down even further. I am a teacher. One of the things I am taught as a teacher, is that before students can learn from you, they may need other needs met. If they are hungry, they aren't going to be focused on the lesson. If they feel sad, or unsafe, they aren't going to be focused on the lesson. If they are dirty or sick, they aren't going to be focused on the lesson. 

If they feel unloved or are craving attention, they aren't going to be focused on the academics. BUT, if you show them love, if you give them attention, if you show them a little bit of care, then they are able to learn.

Is it just that simple? Show some care and make some gains?

Have you heard the Mark Twain quote:

"Kindness is language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see"

Kindness and love must be pretty powerful. 

Oh, it is. God loves me, more than I could ever know. His love makes a difference, and it is something I am starting to feel and see and want more and more of, because I want more and more of Him.

But I wouldn't even be in this position of trying to get closer to God if it wasn't for love and caring in the first place.

I am able to go to church because I feel comfortable, cared for. Even though I don't know very many people, I always feel welcome. People greet me kindly and even the pastor let's us know how much we matter.

My counselor shows she cares. This matters to me a whole awful bunch. I strongly believe that counseling wouldn't be at a benefit for me if I didn't feel like I was cared for. If it did, the benefit wouldn't be even one tenth as strong, because knowing she cares makes a ton of difference, and I am able to grow this way.

And knowing God cares? That He loves me with a love so deep I can't even begin to understand it? Well, that really matters. It feels really good to think that I have a God that loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me so that I could spend eternity with Him in Heaven, if I just choose to believe.

What an amazing love that is. And the love that has brought me to pursuing God's love- I couldn't be more thankful. I wouldn't be on this wonderful journey of becoming close to God if it isn't for these people showing me they care. 

And to think that this is only a small sampling of the love that I feel, of the love that matters.

Some people believe that material things are the best things in life, that certain things like money, a house, a car..ect. Those things make all the difference. 

But I know better. The difference? Is love.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


There are many different types of silence.
Peaceful silence- when you have time to yourself, peacefully using it to relax and do what you want to do.
Normal silence- when it's time to take a test. Usually when your stomach decides it's hungrier than its ever been and growls louder than it ever has. Which can then turn into...
Embarrassing silence- when everyone in a ten mile radius can here the stomach growl. Or right after telling a group of people something very funny and they sit there, and don't get it.
Comfortable silence- the silence between good friends, when you don't need to say anything to fill the quiet, but just enjoy each others presence.
Awkward silence- usually because of a child. Like when said child says something embarrassingly true very loudly in public, then it falls silent.
The I don't know if I can laugh silence- the silence where, something not so good happens, but it was really funny, and you have to hold in the laugh until you can figure out if it's okay to let it out. Usually the silence after someone falls, and before you ask them if they are alright.
Those are a few examples of the different types of silence that I can think of. I am sure there are more, but instead of listing off more examples, I want to move on to the silence I want to speak of.
The thinking silence. To speak of this type, I am gong to start with a small story.
A few weeks ago my boss invited me over to her house (I think she wanted to try and hook me up with someone, but if that was the goal, it failed. Or I failed. I am not really sure and I am not going to ask either). I was sitting with her and her friend that I had just met and we were chatting and snacking like women do. My boss then brought out a bottle of wine and started pouring us glasses. I told her that I didn't want any. Then it went something like this.
Boss: What? Just have some. You don't have anywhere to be tomorrow!
Me: Well I do actually have something in the morning, so I have somewhere to be.
Boss: And where do you have to go in the morning?
Me: (without any shame mind you) Counseling.
And here is where the thinking silence comes in, as they both look right at me and don't say a word. In the drop dead silence it's like you can hear the wheels in their heads turning. From a person who has known me for awhile, and someone I just met. It's the ever present thinking silence. Where those brain wheels turn a slow and stead circle of wonder, curiosity.
As pictures of me sitting in a tidy little room, comfy on a little couch, box of tissues in one hand with a person holding a clipboard across from me (which, by the way, isn't how it is for me) scroll through their heads they may think things like:
Counseling? Did I hear that right? Why would she need counseling? What kind of counseling?
How broken is she? And what broke her?
During this time, I am sitting there doing my own thinking silence:
What are they thinking? Do they know why I am there? Have they seen the brokenness or have I hid it well? Will they look for glimpses of it now?
Will their opinion of me change? And will I care if it does?
This is a quick silence, for as soon as my thoughts run their track, I have to break the silence. It's usually some ramble about it feeling right to me, how it's something I needed and it's really helping me and I have a wonderful counselor and I couldn't appreciate her more and I would recommend her or one like her to everyone and how God is helping me and He is changing on and so forth.
Then, with the silence broken, those wheels stop turning entirely or are put on hold for them to continue on with later. In this circumstance, both women spoke up, expressing their heartfelt support. They had both been there. Each for their own reasons, and each saying how wonderful it was. One said she still goes sometimes, and has a support of a group that she meets with of women who have done the same. Both deeply expressed it wasn't something to be ashamed about. It is so good to feel supported and to know you're not alone.
Even though they didn't need to tell me to not be ashamed it was good to hear. The truth though, is that I haven't been ashamed. Not for awhile anyway. At first, it was different. I didn't tell anyone really. My parents didn't know, my best friend didn't know. I had told my mentor, and the friend that lead me to the counselor I was going to see. Two people, that was it. I slipped off every Monday morning and no one had to know. I was ashamed. Not of my counselor, but of the fact that I was going to counseling.
Did I really need it? Couldn't I just handle it on my own? Other people have bigger issues. Issues that are way more important. But then my eyes were opened: is what I am going through keeping me from being happy? Is it blocking my view of God? Is it having a negative impact on my life? Everyone has issues, yes. So many people have bigger ones that what I am facing, true. But my issues: They were hindering me, and I needed to get them taken care of. No shame there. In fact, the ashamed part of me slowly melted away. I share openly now. I am not afraid to admit that I go and actually encourage others to do the same.
Issues that are hindering you in any way, are not small. They are not insignificant. They matter, because YOU matter. 
And if it takes someone else to help you through that then so be it. Don't be ashamed. And remember:
Everyone is equal at the foot of the cross. God loves you with an everlasting love, He loves you as much as He loves His son. You are not insignificant to Him, and neither are your problems. If your problems are shading your view of happiness or shading your view of Him- then He wants to fix that. Allow it to happen and if that is through the help of a counselor, it's okay. It's nothing to be ashamed of.
I am not ashamed. I have a wonderful counselor who cares for me, who is helping me, and who, mostly importantly, is directing me to God. She is showing me Gods love through what she does, and she is leading me to God.
If it wasn't for counseling, I probably wouldn't have what I have. I wouldn't have met the wonderful woman my counselor is. I wouldn't have found a church that I actually like going to. I wouldn't have gotten back on my path with God. And I'll have more on all this and more at another point, but I think this is long enough already.
In ending, there are all types of silence. But in my case, the silence of my happiness, lead me to a counselor who I am not silent about, because I don't need to be. I am not ashamed. I am also not ashamed of my God who isn't silenced. I can hear Him and see Him, not only in my counselor, or my counseling, but now in the everyday.
He is opening my eyes, He is breaking those chains, He is setting me free. And that is something, I no longer will be silent about.