Just a couple things…

First off…today is the day of birth for my other better half. It’s hard to believe that this is the 6th birthday we’ve been together for. It seems like just last year that I was sneaking around behind his back trying to figure out who to invite to the surprise 18th birthday party. Making the plans, syncing up everyone’s arrival before Kevin got there, stashing him at a friends house all day. Then, to see him come through the door, without a clue as to what was going on, that look was priceless. Today, he’s 24, we’ve been together for 6 of them, married for 2. With each day that goes by I still am learning new and disturbing exciting things about the man I married. I’m looking forward to the next, oh 50 or so years.

Second agenda, my accountability partner and I are now in Daniel in our journey to read the entire bible in a year. As I was reading, I came across the 10 day fast that Daniel and a few others were instructed by God to do. To eat only fruits and vegetables, and to drink only water. As I was reading, I heard two words…do it. So, starting tomorrow, going through the 10th of the month, I plan to do just that. Fasting from everything except fruits, vegetables, and water. I bring this before you, not to say look at me, but to ask that you join me in a prayer for strength as I go through this. Since I know all of you are great when it comes to needing support and encouragement, I knew, just knew, that I can depend on you to help me.

Grace for the Good Girl Chapters 3 and 4

Chapter 3

Okay, this chapter floored me. Each and every sentence I read, I thought that Emily was talking about my life. In every area. With that being said, here are the parts that jumped out at me.

Colors mean:

  • Quotes from the Book
  • My add-ons
  • My Story

“As a girl who accepted Jesus at a young age, I couldn’t relate. In fact, I admit to sometimes wishing I had a few years of rebellion under my belt. Then my story would be interesting and dramatic too.”

There are a couple years that I consider my “rebellion”. Even though, in today’s society it didn’t look like what most would consider a rebellion. I didn’t party at a young age, I didn’t drink an ounce of alcohol until 3 weeks before I turned 21. I didn’t get caught up in doing drugs. I wasn’t sleeping with anyone and everyone. 


So what was my rebellion? When the first semester of college was coming to an end, I had decided to come home for good (there’s a story there, which I’ll tell later). Kevin and I had been together for about 2.5 years and had just gotten engaged. He’d been living on his own for several months now, and we decided to just have me move in together. 


Moving in together included everything (everything) that came along with living in the same apartment–in the same room. No matter how many times we denied it, we fell into the oh so common area of sin that most people in a relationship fall into. We fell into the area of sexual sin. This is the first time I’ve been able to honestly admit it to more than a select few people, because I was trying to maintain my good girl reputation. After all “I put a lot of confidence in myself and in my good reputation.”

“I believed my role in the family was to be the good girl, the one who never got into trouble, the one with the admirable reputation. I had an overwhelming compulsion to confess to my mother [everything except what my true actions were between the time I came home from school and the time Kevin and I got married…even though everyone assumed it was true.] I remember sitting next to her knowing I couldn’t carry the burden of my disobedience any longer…”

“I was a good girl desperate for male attention. It  could have been because I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father, or it could have just been because I was human.” [And I thought I was the only one who grew up in this situation.]

“…the good girl is in deep danger of being her own compass rather than having a softened heart to the leading of God as he speaks through his Word, friends, or family members. I’m sure I’ve disregarded these things due to the fact that I was doing all right on my own, so I figured I had it all figured out. 

“The thing about bloggins is you get to put your best foot forward. You get to edit and delete and ponder before you actually say anything. You get to manage your own reputation.” That and it’s easier to admit mistakes because you don’t have to see the initial reaction of those reading when you do make a mistake.

 “Character refers to who you are. Reputation refers to who people think you are.”

 [About Jesus] “Knowing there were peopole who disagreed, even hated him, didn’t cause him to change one thing he did. He wasn’t working to maintain a good reputation. He was walking in dependence on his Father. Jesus didn’t value what people thought; he valued people, period.

 Chapter 4


This chapter is mainly about the term “fine” and how we often, too often, hide behind it. This was another powerful chapter.

“However, many good girls have a natural disposition of sweetness that can morph into a mask of false happiness and steal authentic joy that comes from the Lord.” I’ve felt this struggle my entire life.

“I was a human chameleon and I didn’t even know it.” This can describe a good portion of my child/teenage years.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have stood dumbfounded and wimpy in the middle of a heated discussion only to tell the person off while alone in my car on the way home. I sound so tough alone in my car. 

 “There is no place in the Bible where it says emotions are categorized as right or wrong [good or bad]. Still, for a good girl in hiding, it feels risky to be honest about them. [Especially when she grew up with a step-parent who got angry and punished at any sign of emotion]. Honest could ruffle feathers. Honest could reveal differing opinions. Honest could disrupt your perception of me. Honest could ruin my carefully laid-back image. That is the image we care about the most.

“The longer I hide behind fine, the easier it is to convince myself I am fine. I can coast that way for a while, until I start to get cranky and irritable and cross.” 

“Good girls don’t like that our Bible says there is a time to hate and a time for war. So we take it out.” –no matter how many times I read this in Ecclesiastes, I almost always skim over the bad and focus on the good sides of it, never really made sense to me until now.

“Our fluctuating humanness is there on purpose, to remind us of our need to draw us to the One who can meet it. We don’t have to figure out the whys and origins of every swinging emotion. But it is important that we admit that they are there.”

 Are you a good girl? Or do you think you are? Have you started reading Grace for the Good Girl? If so, feel free to share your thoughts. If not, I’d encourage you to do so and please, feel free to share your thoughts on this post. 🙂

Reflections

Today, as I sit back and look on the events of Thanksgiving day, the only thought that  comes through my mind is, where did it go to? I wake up at 8:00am and the first time I look at the clock it’s 9:00am. Then the next thing I know, it’s 2:00pm. I turn around again and it’s dinner time, then a hop, skip and a jump later, it’s 9:00pm. I found myself in my room by 11:30pm, exhausted. Asleep by 1:00a…I know that seems like I a long time to be awake after going upstairs to relax, but that’s normal for me.

I’m sure that the scenario above might sound like your day..well except, maybe for the asleep at 1a. My Thanksgiving day wasn’t a typical one for me, and it wasn’t one I was looking forward to either. This year, instead of going to my several family gatherings, I was at work…all day (9:00a-9:00p).

The thing is, looking back, I don’t think I would change this option for the world. It’s not that I didn’t miss my family, because I did…more than anything. It’s not because I enjoy my job, even though I do…immensely. I truly think it’s because for the first time in five years, I was able to relax on Thanksgiving day. Yep, you heard right, I was able to relax even though I was at work.

I work in a group home that houses eight men, fifty-five and older. Each of them has some sort of developmental disability. The thing that was different about yesterday is that we had only five of them. Of those five, two spend quite a bit in their time, one sits in a chair all day. Which leaves two guys that we typically have to watch. One went early in the day to get something that would keep him occupied all day.

Which drops it down to one guy. He’s, perhaps, the hardest one to keep occupied. After all, he is our client with autism. If you know anything about people who have autism, they do not sit still for long…if at all. Even so, he was a little wound up at first, but after lunch he calmed down. Meaning we had peace for the rest of the day.

So, we were able to actually sit down, after all, the only thing that was left to do was to keep up on laundry. We made a simple lunch that used very few dishes, so we didn’t have a ton of those to wash either. I went to the store and picked up our pre-cooked dinner. It only needed reheated. I put the turkey in at 3:00p and started the rest of it around 4:30p. By 5:15p we were eating dinner. Then, by 7 we were back to only having laundry to finish.

So, while I missed my family, I can honestly say that I did not miss the craziness of trying to make it to each and every family event. After-all, since both my husband and I come from divorced families, trying to keep track of all the gatherings can make us crazy some years. While we’re learning to pick and choose our stops and have gotten better about juggling it all each year, we still end up exhausted at the end of it…not to mention stuffed from all the fantastic food too.

I can honestly say that I would not change the fact that I worked all day for anything. That is because even though I was at work we didn’t have a lot of actual work that needed done. The best part? When my boss called to check up on us…I mentioned we were just having a chill-day, she was all for it! Can you say (to steal a word from my younger sister)….

WIN!



So as I look ahead to today and tomorrow, what do I see? More work. I have an eight hour day today and a twelve hour day tomorrow. Then finally a break for a day before going at it again next week. My total hours for this week will be in the 60-65 range…I know I’m nuts. Rather than going into work the next couple days bummed that I can’t just stay home and chill with my sister, dad and husband, I’m going to try to look at it as a chance to do something I love. A chance to make a different in each of these men. So here’s to the wrap-up of a long week.

Oh, I say thanksgivings day rather than thanksgiving because I truly believe that we should live a life of thanksgiving, and if we’re doing that, the only difference about the last Thursday in November is the fact that we get together with friends or family and eat some amazing food.

How was your Thanksgiving day?

GFTGG: Chapter 2

Today I am going to cover chapter 2 of Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman

If you missed my overviews of the prologue and chapter 1 feel free to join me here and then come back. The more I read through this chapter, the more I felt like Emily had been given a magnifying glass right into my life, the struggles of my heart. Now, I’m an extremely emotional mess person (ask my family if you don’t believe me, especially my husband) but not once has a book or movie actually moved me to full, real tears. I’m here to admit that this chapter did just that.

As last time, the quotes from the book will be in red and my add ons will be in black. {new} Glimpses into my story will be in purple. Join me, would you? Chapter 2: Chasing Expectation

“…our masks mix with our personality and circumstance. Before we know it we don’t really know who we are, and nobody else does either.” 

This one hit me square between the eyes. I grew up hiding behind masks…a lot. Some were to protect those I cared about the most, others were to keep myself from getting hurt from anyone and everyone. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve discovered just how hindering these masks had become. These masks have lead me into asking annoying questions of those around me that were meant to help me see my worth to them boost my self esteem.


Expectations and Definitions

“I don’t like to fail and I certainly don’t want you to know I’ve failed. And I’m embarrassed at the predictable pattern that my life has become.”

Never does it fail when I make a mistake–no matter how small–when it comes to fessing up to it, I struggle with keeping my emotions at bay. Apologizing and admitting I’m wrong or have done something wrong was never something I was taught how to do…at least not well.


The Good Girl

“I had a good reputation to uphold, a sweetness to protect, an important list of rules to follow, an a long list of people to please.”

“Good girls are good listeners. Good girls are always there for everyone. Good girls don’t get mad. Good girls are laid-back. Good girls roll with the punches, go with the flow, follow the leader.”

“…life was a constant battle of trying to get something I didn’t think I had, of trying to become who Jesus wanted me to be, of trying to become a better version of myself.”

Does someone have a mirror? If so, point it right at me. These quotes describe my thoughts, motives, actions…word-for-word.

A Better Way

“When we believe that God expects us to try hard to become who Jesus wants us to be, we will live in that blurry frustrating land of Should Be rather than trust in The One Who Is.”

This one I shared my thoughts on before I read this. Not so much on what we believe, but how our language effects how we live. This happened to fall right in place with this post.

“We must work hard to perform for acceptance, and most of the time we don’t even realize we are doing it.”

 Lucy’s story


I honestly thought that Emily was telling part of my story, only changing the name…

“Things were not as they should be. Little girls are to be protected. They should not have to protect themselves.”

“Rather than collapse in despair or self-pity, she chose instead to craft a mask of strength and responsibility.”

“Behind my her masks of strength, responsibility, and good performance, she was a tangled mess. And I she was all alone.” 

“As good girls, we subconsciously label ourselves as the strong ones, the responsible ones, the sweet ones, or the right ones…But Jesus is calling us to a deeper, truer, freer identity.”

I could go into depth on each of these and some day, I just might. Using (at least) these four sentences to let you in on a little more of my life, my childhood, my story and Christ’s work through it.

If you’re as blessed as I am in being able to read this book, would you join this community and share your growth and learning as you take this journey coming out from under the expectations of good girls? I’d love to hear your thoughts, input, or whatever else you feel lead to share.

Can anyone say 2X4???

It’s been one of those weeks. You know the ones, when the same annoying much needed lesson keeps coming across your mind. All of the sources are completely and totally spontaneous. The first doesn’t know the second, nor does the second know the third, and so on. This weeks topic?

Grace
If any of you know me, or can tell from some of my writings. I can be a very stubborn, hard-headed person. I know, I know, hard to believe right? Not if you ask my husband. 
So I recently picked up a book that I’ve been reading about EVERYWHERE. Most of my blogger friends have been reading it and the more I read what they had to say about it, the more my spirit was telling me that I needed to pick it up. When I saw that one one of the local stores has it on sale right now for $7 (half off!!), I took advantage of the sale.
I started reading it last week, and I am already feeling the growing pains start.  I only covered the prologue and chapter one this time because I am only about halfway through chapter 2. I’ve been taking it only a couple pages at a time so I can get as much out of it as possible. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll have many other posts with excerpts from the book. 🙂  Here are a couple big points that have almost literally kicked me in the gut.
In the prologue of the book, titled The Hiding. Even before we jump into chapter one.

“Behind the mask (any mask), you are just a woman who longs to believe that Jesus [really] makes a difference, but you have had difficulty collecting the evidence of it in your own life.”

Diving into chapter one. Are you a good girl in hiding?

“I long to be seen, but I feel safe when I’m invisible.”

“What about the girl in the middle? I fear I fall through the cracks because my story draws no attention.”  (This one hit hard, extremely hard, I’ll share more on this later.)

“You never experienced a period of rebellion, at least not one that is worthy to be told as a life-changing testimony. Maybe you are an optimist, someone who seems to see the good in everything and everyone.” (Yep…that’s me, been hurt beyond belief being that way too…yet I keep chugging along in the same manor.)

“I put all my confidence in the things that were awesome about myself and tried to hide the things that weren’t. If Jesus fit in there somewhere, well then that was nice. But if he didn’t, I was doing okay on my own anyway. That is, until I wasn’t.” (Even if I wasn’t, it’s not like I was  willing to share that part with anyone anyway)

“In the mind of God, in his vision for the world, in his idea for the universe, he made you to go in it. He had in mind a particular you. A true you. An authentic, accurate expression of himself. A woman who is more than just a watered-down version of good.”

All these quotes are taken directly from Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman. Any parenthesis or emphasis is completely mine. I chose to do the quotes in red because that is the color of all my underlining in the book. I chose red initially because red is the color of the blood that Jesus chose to shed on the cross. So, in my mind red, is the color of grace.

So, that was source one of my 2X4 message. The next came via e-mail from a blogger friend I’ve followed for quite some time now. In this post, she is discussing the difference between being right and being well. If you’re a fellow good girl, then you know you want to be both. As Lisa explains, sometimes you simply cannot be both right and well, it’s about which is more important to us.

The third source came once again through e-mail. This time from an entire website dedicated to helping women achieve their best according to God’s plan. In their devotional yesterday the writer was talking about being so committed to serving ourselves others for Christ that we forget to simply rest. Many times, I know I feel like I’m not doing enough for the kingdom to show that I truly am a follower of Christ.

The fourth source came via my pastor in church today. We’re going through a series right now that is titled, “The Movement”. It’s a journey through the book of Acts. The message started out today with the oh so familiar story of the Prodigal son...but focused on the other brother…the good brother. We then jump into Acts 15. Discussing the mindset of the legalistic “followers” of that time and comparing that to Christ’s mindset.

That seamlessly leads us into the topic of grace. *Whack* I sit there wondering if anyone else just got hit in the head with a 2×4 like I did. Some of the statements that felt like the 2×4 knocked the wind out of me:

“If I obey perfectly, then I am in charge. If it comes down to grace, then Jesus is in charge.”

“We’re uncomfortable with the fact that grace is FREE, and we want to be able to earn it.”

 “Grace isn’t like coffee, there’s no need to add things to it to make it bearable, it’s perfect as it is.”

“Grace is NOT opposed to effort. It IS opposed to earning.”

 So, these are just a few of the 2×4 moments I’ve had this week. It’s been a challenging week, but I cling to the fact that in the end, nothing will feel better then being able to move past the legalistic minset (where grace needs to be earned) and fall into the Jesus mindset (that grace is free and all I simply have to do is come.)

Join me in my journey to experiencing true grace-based living? What has God been challenging/revealing to you lately?

Time got away

This week has been…well…packed. While I look back and don’t know where it went, all I know is that it got a way from me. I wrote my Thirsty Thursday post, but didn’t get a chance to sit down and type it out for you guys, so you’ll be seeing it next week.

My goal for this weekend: to clean not only my bedroom (it’s in dire need) but to also clean the bathroom attached to it. They’ve both been things that got lost in the midst of the lack of time. So since my other half is at work all day, I’m going to try to tackle those things. 🙂 Wish me luck…I hate hate hate cleaning, but it needs done.

So, hopefully I’ll be back to my regular writing schedule next week. I hope everyone’s thanksgiving are peaceful and relaxing. As I read today, we all need to make the time to relax…looks like my time to relax will either be tomorrow, or a week from tomorrow.

Blessings friends. 🙂

Stages of my life

This morning at church we were discussing Paul and Barnabus. Which then lead to a little tangent on mentoring. Last month, as many of you know, I participated in Gab-fest. I started to follow about half a dozen (at least) other 31 day’ers. One of the ones I enjoyed most was the one on mentoring.

This is one subject that I haven’t spent a whole lot of time on. However, it has been HUGE in my life, from the time I was 8 and my family and I started attending a church together. From that without consciously knowing it, I was in at least one mentoring relationship or another.

Initially:
The first was in a couple who liked to call me their “adopted granddaughter.” They were from our church, they were my Sunday school teachers. He was my parents insurance agent and the first time he came to discuss things with him, I connected with him, which my parents found very unusual because I was the extremely shy child. I wouldn’t typically go more than 2 feet from my parents. I can remember sitting with them every Sunday at church. I even remember a time when I was like 9 or 10, I went to the 4th of July fireworks with this couple. This was huge because my family NEVER went to the fireworks, well not the 4th of July ones anyway.

Second:
The next way I can remember being mentored was by another couple from our church. They were the Jr. High Sunday school teachers, youth leaders and when the other couple moved out of town and left our church, this couple kind of stepped in and filled the gap. They’ve been through SO much together, from medical issues, to spiritual battles fought together.

Still today, even though I don’t attend the same church building they do, I still look to them as an example of the type of marriage I hope to be able to kind of imitate. While I know our battles won’t be the same, I look to their dedication to each other in all they’ve been through and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that marriages can make it through anything, that after 20 years and numerous battles love can remain genuine, and that with God on our side we can and will withstand anything that comes our way.

Third:
While the one above is still (kind of) on-going, in middle school, mentoring took a different shape. I guess God knew I was going to need more one on one attention. When I entered Jr high, the small group format had just gotten rearranged, there were some leaders who wanted to start a small group, and some who wanted to phase out, so it just seemed like as good a time as any.

The group I was in was lead by a quiet, quarky, yet amazingly knowledgeable mother of teenagers. There were 3-5 girls assigned to my group, I was the only one to come weekly we had another girl or two who would come every few weeks or start to come regularly for a couple months and then disappear for a while. Which meant I spent most of the small group nights with one-on-one time. During the course of the 4 years I was in her group several things happened:

  1. My parents got a divorce
  2. My mom got remarried
  3. Underwent emotional and mental abuse
  4. Spent a lot of time in depression
  5. Avoided jumping from relationship to relationship
  6. Was lead into a “dating” relationship with a good 

Fourth:
I shared the entire story here, but I will briefly overview it. I have known her since I was 8, over the past 15 years, she’s watched me go through numerous hard times, but 2 years ago our relationship shifted from her being the older sister of a kid my age, to her becoming one of my closest friends. A woman I felt comfortable enough to be boldly honest with and knew that it wasn’t going any further than her mind heart and prayers. Together we tackled some huge obstacles, and we’ve both come out to be stronger women for it.

Fifth:
About a year and a half ago (give or take), my husband and I started attending the church linked in above. While it was hard to leave the church I’d grown up in, I was certain beyond the shadow of doubt that this was where God was leading us. Since then, I’ve met some wonderful people, one I’d started a relationship with, only to have it flop miserably, another I started meeting with on a weekly basis about 8 months ago. While this relationship is more of an accountability relationship than a mentor relationship, I still feel it is equally as important as the other. If it weren’t for her, today, I might not have grown as much as I have in the past several months, nor would I have an extremely close friend who has challenged me and allowed me to do the same for her. We have grown in similar ways and had to tackle similar battles, and now, we cannot imagine what we have done in some of those situations had it not been for the other.

Follow-up:
The last two are still on going, and they make my life…interesting to say the least. While one I only meet with every couple of months, and the other I meet with weekly, it hasn’t changed the value of each of these relationships for me. If you haven’t had one of these relationships in your life, I encourage you to pray and ask God to show you the right person to play this role in your life.

I’ve been saying for a while that I need to write out and share my story. This is a slight glimpse of it. As always, I am willing to share what God has done in my life with anyone who asks. 🙂

Blessed Sabbath my friends.