Unexpected Beautifulness

You feel the goosebumps up and down your arms and the tears begin to flow unexpectedly. That moment – the moment that arrives with no warning. You are caught off guard and that is the beauty of it all. You can’t plan for the moment – or it’s ruined by the fact that you tried. You can’t know what the moment will be – because in knowing the moment won’t be the moment.

I, as a slight control freak, generally do not like surprises. My mind has the events of the day planned out weeks in advanced in excruciating detail with my iPad calendar(s) – yes, plural as a back up. No judgments, please. Deviating from the plan doesn’t come easily for me.

But there is one kind of surprise I love. When we took a trip as a family out West two years ago – I saw a sunset that lasted for hours as we drove through the flat desert in Arizona. It was absolutely amazing. I had no clue one of my most favorite memories would be found that day as we loaded the car at Phoenix and headed for San Diego.

That was one of many such surprises. I thought when we arrived at the National Park and got settled into our hotel room we would grab a couple of chairs off the deck and head 100 feet away and sit at the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Imagine my surprise at realizing there were buses that drove you to stops and even at each stop – you can only see part of the Grand Canyon! It’s so huge you only see a bit of it at a time! Who knew? Certainly not me! And, just in case your wondering, it’s not smooth either. It’s edges have layers and layers of sheer beautifulness. Only from the airplane could I gasp in wonder at the hugeness of the Grand Canyon.

I was also surprised – in a knot in your stomach kind of way – when we were at Hollywood. All that glamour and glitz you see on TV? Fake. Maybe you are smarter than me and already knew that. But, my heart was broken as we walked on the stars and saw homelessness, brokenness and pain.

I can never return to the West and experience the trip the way I did again. Even if I stayed in the same hotels or traveled the same route. The fact that I had never been there before and I didn’t know what to expect, made the trip what it was.

So, sitting in the midst of yet another snowstorm in Ohio in the middle of February, I was not expecting one of those moments – the kind you will think back over when you are old and gray with a tear in your eye. Stop rolling your eyes, I’m being serious.

As she began to sing I sat in amazement at the beauty of not only her voice but the way she flowed across the stage with confidence and grace. As the song progressed the tears began to flow. I was so proud of her. I couldn’t believe my quiet, reserved daughter was performing a solo in front of a crowd. I could see my caterpillar turning into a butterfly right before my eyes.

She was doing something I couldn’t teach her. She was finding her voice and becoming who God made her, uniquely to be. And it was a beautiful, unexpected moment that I got to see. I don’t know how she overcame her fear – but overcome she did!

As a young six year old in ballet, she froze at a performance and all the begging and bribing I did wouldn’t convince her to step away from the wall and perform. Late she told me through tears it was because I was there. She was too nervous because I was watching. It kind of broke my heart, I wondered if I put too much pressure on her. Didn’t she understand I was her biggest fan? If she succeeded or if she fell flat on her face, I would love her for trying!

My mind has stitched those two memories together. I can see the little girl in her tu-tu wide eyed and hiding her face in my lap and then I can see my beautiful 15 year old who has blossomed into more than I could have imagined. And that is why 2pm on a cold February afternoon a surprise moment occurred. I got to hear my angel sing for the first time. And just like the hour long sunset – it was so much more beautiful that I could have ever imagined.

Torn

I can feel the stress echo off his body as his hand cradles the phone. The knot grows in his stomach. Honestly, he doesn’t care either way. He just desperately wants both women to be happy. He will be lucky if he gets through this with both at least mostly placated. He knows he has it easier than some men. The thousands of miles that separate him from his parents keep these occurrences to a minimum. But, on the other hand, the occurrences are of hurricane proportion when they do occur.

Honestly, they are both great women. It would be so much easier if he didn’t like one of them. His heart is torn in two. On one hand is his precious Mama who gave him life. And not just the physical life – she gave him a great childhood. While she was a no-nonsense kind of mom – he never doubted her love for him. She served him and his three brothers selflessly – always putting others needs before her own. Often to the determent of her emotional strength. Then Dad would have to step in and rope the boys into giving her some much needed relief – for a few hours – until the testostronians were again back to doing what they did best and Mom was left holding the bag.

Then there was his wife. His precious wife. His life was so tightly intertwined into hers, he could never imagine life without her. He knew she loved him to the core. He loved having a best friend he could confide in – still loving to spend time with her after a quarter of a century.

Both women were strong women. Which in and of itself is usually a good thing. Strong women get things done. Strong women are great homekeepers and moms. Strong women also like things done their way. And..as long as both women were on the same page -or on separate continents – life was good. But, those rare occasions when they both had ideas and the ideas were polar opposites – well, this was one of those moments.

There was only one other in over 25 years and that was 5 years ago when his mom wanted a 40 year anniversary party thrown for her and dad at the children’s expense. It required a weeks vacation and travel to Tennessee. His wife was a nightmare throughout the whole ordeal. He gets chest pains even rethinking the event and the weeks proceeding up to it. His wife didn’t want to go and she was very vocal about it. His mom wanted it to happen and she was very vocal about it. Why, why couldn’t one of them compromise? In the end he had to put on a smile for the family and try and console his wife behind the closed doors. It was so stressful. All he wanted was for everyone to get along. Why couldn’t one of them put aside their wishes for one week?

Now it’s the 45th anniversary for his parents. And they want the family to fly to Germany. His wife is trying to be more patient and flexible. His mom – not so much. She has certain things that are important to her and she isn’t taking into account the effort or sacrifice they will cause. The one that is causing the tight grip on the phone at the moment is the revelation that she wants them to stay at the house while they are in Germany. He has already told her the family is planning to stay for a couple of days and then travel around Europe and then return for a few days before they leave. She is also insisting the whole family come at the same time – which may or may not be possible. She isn’t happy with anything less -and waiting until Christmas isn’t an option either.

Now – he is forced with the decision of telling his mom is isn’t going to work the way she wants – or going back to the drawing board with his wife. Which, may or may not be a good idea. Sometimes she is so hard to figure out. If only she had a flashing light above her head – green means go and red means stop. It would be most helpful. He can only hope this is a pre-menopausal thing and once she gets through it life will be easier. Where can he get one of those lights? If it were green, she would listen to his concerns about his mom’s wishes and possibly come up with a compromise or solution. However, if it is red she will either cry or yell and ramble on and on about how awful life is. He will have to distance himself from her rantings enough to stay calm and try and calm her down.

He gets her point. He really does. But, in the end – this is his mom. Doesn’t she see that? For no one else would he make or ask her to make these sacrifices. His mom is talking about not being on this earth much longer – which may or may not be true. Does he really want to not make the memories special for her? Will she have a 50th anniversary? She might. Or, she might not. Carpe diem.

God Have Mercy

Broken. Heart broken.

How? How can my child shake his fist at God and say, “Do your worst?”

God have mercy.

Without the fear of God his life is spiraling out of control. His hate for me evident in his eyes.

The empty pit in my stomach grows until it reaches the edge of every limb. I just want to wake up and this nightmare to be over.

At some point I start to feel numb. I welcome the relief from the pain.

My husband gently lifts me off my knees – drying my tears. I would that I could stay in constant prayer morning, noon and night until the time that my son would humble himself and repent.

Oh, God – have mercy! God, have mercy.

I’m praying for a God-sized miracle. Oh that my son would not be diabolically opposed to our “moral code”.

No, son. It’s not a moral code – it’s Jesus. Can’t you see? Why are your eyes so blinded to the truth? Son – it’s the path to freedom – not chains.

I’m dry. Every plea has fallen on deaf ears. Every admonition has been shunned. God, I cling to you for strength.

Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

God – I pray for your mercy.

Ex. 34:6-8 “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…”

 

Freaking Out!

Daily Prompt: Safety First

Share the story of a time you felt unsafe

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/daily-prompt-safety-first/

When I read this prompt, the first thought that came to my mind was RIGHT NOW!  Now don’t panic, I’m not in any dangerous situation or in need of rescuing – except maybe from my emotions.  Here’s the scoop:

We are leaving in three days for an almost two week vacation in the western part of the United States. My husband has been asking and asking to take this trip with the kids for years.  I finally agreed. Now, as the date approaches, I am waking up in a cold sweat each morning – or should I say ten times a night.  I have that infamous pit in my stomach all day long. My heart races at odd times and I can feel it in my chest.

I know logically there is nothing to fear. But, I just prefer my life to be safe and predictable. Traveling to five cities I’ve never been to in eleven days feels anything but safe. I’m uncomfortable with flying. I’m sure my teenagers are going to end up goofing off and one is going to fall off the edge of the Grand Canyon. I’m nervous about all the unknowns that will occur. I’m not a risk taker or an adventure seeker. I would be happy sitting in my rocker and watching the grass grow. Guess it’s time to be stretched.

But, mostly, I am afraid I’ll lose my edge when I’m tired or sick (migraines are a pleasant part of messing up my routine) and be sharp with my family. I just want to be kind and gracious towards my family – not selfish and grouchy.  I want this to be a wonderful vacation that we will all look back fondly. I know my sharp tongue can ruin the moment more than getting lost or having a flat tire.

Lord,

You know my heart – you made me. I confess my fear to you. I know any allusion of safely is just that – an allusion.  You are my rock, my fortress and the one I run to. I pray you will strengthen me from within. I pray my heart would be selfless, loving, kind and gracious. Help me to be quick to confess my failures when they occur. When things don’t go my way, help me to remember that my attitude and character are more important than anything we see or do. 

Thank you for this opportunity to make these memories with my family and to see parts of the world you created.  You are an awesome God. I pray I would do the next thing even when my heart feels like it will faint within me.  Help me to be able to hike in the Grand Canyon and not be afraid – and please keep my kids safe. I’m trusting in your faithfulness and pray these steps will help me overcome my fear. I don’t want to live in fear. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Love God. Love Others.

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

This was the text for the sermon our pastor preached on this weekend. Isn’t it funny how you can read a passage over and over – even memorize it, and then one day it jumps off the page like you have never read it before? That’s what happened last night when I read these verses.  As children we sing, “Jesus Love Me” and are taught to follow the golden rule. Love is the premise of the Christian walk. Unfortunately, I think it becomes like the picture you hang on the wall. When you first purchase it, it’s all new and you notice it every time you walk past it.  Fast forward a few months or years, you still love the picture, but you rarely notice it. It’s just become a comfortable part of your life.  I just love those light bulb moments when you see something fresh and new, as if you are seeing it for the first time.

Pastor began his sermon sharing a story of Green Bay Packer’s football coach, Vince Lombardi who delivered a powerful speech. He walked in with a pigskin in hand and one the group quieted down said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” He went on to describe the fundamentals of football. You take this football and get it across the opponent’s line. You keep the ball from crossing our line. You tackle and block to accomplish this.  Pastor then when on to say John 13:34 is a lot like the speech Vince Lombardi gave his team so many years ago.

The Christian life can be summed up in two things.  Love God. Love others.

What a great reminder! Life can get so busy – How refreshing to stop and focus on what really matters. But, Pastor didn’t stop there. He made it practical. What does love mean? It means doing the right thing even when you don’t want to. Ouch. Now that’s making it personal. I thought about the times in my heart when I just couldn’t get there – when I just wanted my way so badly. I wanted to love, but I wanted my way so much more!  I knew at that moment God was asking me to go deeper with Him. He was asking me to make a commitment to love others and love Him, so the next time I was faced with a choice, the decision would already be made. I would remember this commitment and regardless of my feelings, I would choose love. As I’m mulling over what this commitment would look like, Pastor shared a story from Corrie Ten Boom on forgiveness.  If you know anything about Corrie, you know she was a prisoner in the concentration camps and suffered greatly. She spoke about forgiveness of a guard who mistreated her.  This video shares her story in her own words. It’s just a few minutes and so moving – it’s well worth your time to watch it.

As I’m listening to the suffering Corrie faced and processing all the suffering Jesus faced, my own seems so small.  Yet, I know when the going gets tough, I will be tempted to turn back to my selfishness and choose to love myself over God and others. I pray and ask God to show me clearly, beyond a certainty that I am to love, whatever the cost to me.  Wouldn’t you know it, Pastor concludes with a series of verses on love. One right after another.  After the first two, I told God I understood.  But Pastor kept reading verses and reading verses.  It became almost comical as I’m thinking, “God, I got it….really, I got it.”  But, I think He knows me and knows I will quickly turn from obedience and love to my own self-centered choices.

It’s so clear. The whole Christian life is summed up on loving God and loving others.  It seems so easy – but in reality it is impossible without God’s help. Love is a choice. Make a commitment before emotions get involved.  Then, follow through on that commitment regardless of how you might feel in the moment.  Trust God to meet you where you are and help you when you don’t think you can do it.

Luke 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself

Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

James 2:8   If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well

1 Cor. 14:4-7 “ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Eph. 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Rom. 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”

First Day of Teaching

Daily Prompt: First!

Tell us about your first day at something — your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BEGINNING.

Although it happened over two years ago, it still seems like yesterday. I can remember the fear that gripped my soul as I looked around the table of eight women who had come for a Ladies Bible study. A Bible study I was leading. How did I get myself into this. I wondered.  I was so far outside my comfort zone it wasn’t funny. Did everyone at the table notice it was my first time to take attendance or pray with a group of adults?  Was I doing it right?

I have been teaching children since forever.  I’m comfortable in most any setting with most any subject. Education, experience and a love for children has lead me to spend most of my life with children. And by children, I don’t mean junior high or high school. I mean two year olds to about sixth grade.  So, when I was approached about leading a women’s group, I was excited for the teaching aspect, but knew it was outside my comfort zone. But, I’ve been trying to do things outside my comfort zone, so I said I would lead.

Ah, yes.  I remember those emotions of the first day so vividly.  I also remember starting a habit that continues to this day. I prayed  about everything.  I prayed for the weeks leading up to the study, for each woman who would be attending, for God to be the ultimate leader – leading and teaching each one there.  That habit has freed me from my fears and allowed me to enjoy seeing God change lives, including mine.  I have seen him answer so many prayers and my faith has grown so much as a result of that.

Some verses I have prayed are:

Ps. 141:3-4 “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” I asked God to shut my mouth when I needed to shut it and open it when I should speak. 

John 14:26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  What a comfort these verses were to me.  God was truly the leader.

2 Cor. 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” How often driving home from the study was I amazed at God giving me the right words or just working out details of the night in a way I knew it was Him.

I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone those years ago.  It is a privilege and blessing to be able to learn from and grow with all the beautiful women God has brought into my path. I’ve come to realize that adults aren’t much different than children.  Each has a story, if we take time to listen.  And adults like stickers too.  At least I think they do, because everyone says the memory verse each week. Or maybe they are just humoring the kindergarten teacher that still lurks inside of me.

His Grace is Amazing

 

Sitting, head bowed, I feel the weight of the morning wash away. It was one of those mornings I’m none to proud of. Knowing what I should do, yet unable to reach past my emotions I ended up in a complete meltdown.  During the meltdown, which I knew it was illogical, I felt paralyzed to stop the hurricane of emotions that spilled forth. Thankfully, my dear husband sopped up the emotional mess before everyone else in my close proximity saw it.  Bless him.

But,  after all was said and done the guilt didn’t dissipate.   Rather, it grew. “If I was a better Christian I would have…”  or “I should be beyond such immaturity”. No matter the cause, it’s so discouraging to fail. My afternoon was overcast with the earlier episode.  How I wished for a do-over button – I would be gracious and kind and smile too.

As the afternoon progresses to evening, my sour mood continued and now I found myself at church. The words of the songs that usually bring delight to my soul felt like gravel in my mouth. The final song before the message the pastor suggests we sit quietly and pray if we’d like. As I listened to the words, truth, forgiveness and freedom flooded my soul. My shortcomings weren’t any surprise to God. He’d already forgiven me when I’d asked. The guilt wasn’t from Him, nor was it accomplishing anything positive.

Thank you Jesus for your unfailing love.  One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 136.  Twenty-six times David repeats the truth that God’s love endures forever. It endures through the good and the bad. How thankful I am that Jesus is enough. He is good and does good things.  He made the heavens and the sun – yet He remembers us in our lowly estate.  Wow!  I just have no words.  Thank you, Jesus!

Psalm 136

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever

Rays of Sunshine

Who gets beautiful, hot sunshine in October? Not me. At least usually not me. Today was replete with surprises though, as I enjoyed one of my favorite activities that is usually reserved for the summer months.  It felt a bit like heaven with the hot suns rays hitting my back as I absorbed my book, ice tea in hand. Quiet, relaxed and at peace – perfect, simply perfect.

What makes this experience different from the typical cool autumn days with sweaters and coffee? The combination of hot and cold is a blissful mixture, such as soaking up sunshine and ice tea, enjoying a hot bath with a cool breeze coming in the window, or running into the ocean on a hot afternoon. Autumn usually affords the opposite mixture – cold and hot. The crisp, cool nights and a warm jacket or  the early morning walk in the woods when you  can see your breath with hot cocoa in hand are a magical blends.

Given the choice though, I’d choose the feeling spring and summer allow. Nothing beats the warmth of the sun radiating on my skin. Knowing this will be a distant memory for the next five to six months as cold man winter descends upon us, I cherish the few last moments, hoping to hold onto the feeling until the calendar flips and another spring is upon us.

Humble Pie

I just spent the morning somewhere I never envisioned I would be. Court. Juvenile court for my unruly child. Even as I type the words, the whole scenario seems surreal. It still feels like a really bad dream.  It’s funny to me, the way I perceive myself and what is accurate don’t always seem to align. I guess that realization is what humble pie tastes like. It’s actually not as awful as I would have suspected – humble pie, that is. It goes down kind of roughly, but once you’ve eaten it, like with broccoli, you can feel that satisfaction of doing something that was good for you.

I’ve always prided myself on being a good parent. And, if effort is what we are judging on, I have indeed succeeded.  I left my job to stay at home with my children and have been involved in every area of their lives since infancy.  Basically over a decade of my life can be summed up as an outpouring into their lives.  Somehow, I thought if I tried hard enough, I would have a cookie-cutter mold perfect child. You know the kind, the one who says, “Yes, Sir” and hold the door for old ladies and is just downright perfect in every way.

I would look down my nose at anyone who had a rebellious teen. Because, in my mind, any rebellious child was a direct result of poor parenting. The parent must not have been strict enough or taken their child to church or spent enough time with them.  Like baking a cake, if you put all the right ingredients in you would be rewarded with a yummy cake.  Mess up one of the ingredients and the cake would obviously flop.  I was forgetting that children have wills of their own and can make choices independent of what you desire.  How I wish I could take back the judging comments that rattled around in my head before I had teenagers.

I’m now realizing raising children may still be like baking a cake but there are more pieces to the puzzle than just the ingredients. The cake still needs to be baked and that is the area my teen has complete control over and I am realizing, I have none. He is not a robot, but a intelligent, thinking individual.

My boy, he’s going to be ok.  He’s going to be more than ok.  These hiccups in the road will shape him and make him into the person he is meant to be become. These don’t define me as a parent, nor do they define him as a person. It’s just part of the process. I’ve done my best to give him all the ingredients he needs for life.  I’m here now to guide him as he walks his path. In the baking process, the cook doesn’t mess too much with the cake. Rather, he lets the heat of the oven turn a gooey mess into the cake it was meant to be. The mixing, measuring and stirring parts of parenting are behind me now.  Now it’s time for me to keep a close eye on the cake as those ingredients turn into what they were meant to be.

Why do I Care

IMG_1661Why do I care when my teenager is unhappy with my decision – or when my husband doesn’t parade after me singing accolades of all I’ve accomplished during the day?  I also find myself worrying if my house is clean enough – will the friends who stopped in think I’m a slob? Or, maybe they will notice my laminate counter tops – with a gouge in it?  After they leave I’m rethinking the conversation in my head. Did that pause in the conversation mean they were offended? On and on it goes…

That little voice creeps up telling me I’m not good enough.  The voice I know all to well.  The one I’ve heard from childhood.  Early on I was desperate for my parents to notice my accomplishments amidst the chaos of their day. Then in elementary school I heard the taunts of the boys chanting, “four eyes, four eyes” seemingly endlessly. As I moved into middle school and got contacts, but I found myself taller than most.  Hence I acquired a new nickname – Jolly Green Giant. High school – now high school was better. It was better because I learned to watch people around me and see what they were doing and how others were reacting to them.  I then patterned my words and actions accordingly.  I learned the art of masks.

In some ways, I still feel like I’m wearing those masks as watching to see what everyone else is wearing, how they are decorating their homes, how they are interacting with their kids. The fear of failure or of being deemed a loser ties me to chains of acceptance that are squeezing my wrists tighter and tighter.

I love my children. I don’t want to hurt them. But, it is unrealistic to expect they will be elated with every restriction I place on them. If they are frustrated at me, but not because of some offense but because I’m upholding God’s Biblical standards, that’s ok.  It doesn’t make me a bad person.  I can feel the chains slipping off as this thought becomes clearer in my mind.

I don’t need others to affirm my every move. If my poor tired husband doesn’t notice the clean clothes in his dresser drawers before he’s even gone upstairs –where the dresser is – it doesn’t define me.  When I think about it, I don’t even notice the ding on my counter tops And honestly, I’m kind of glad they are older laminate, I can just use them and enjoy them and not worry about staining them.  I’m sure I would love new granite ones someday, but there are just so many more important things that come into my life every day.  I just don’t have the time or energy to worry about them right now. I realize I’m ok with that. I was just not ok with the idea that someone else wasn’t ok with it. Someone who doesn’t live here, who doesn’t use them and who wouldn’t be putting the energy into changing them out. Clank, clack…I hear chains hitting the ground.

instead of fretting at every conversation, what if I just pray before I meet with someone and ask God to, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) It will help me feel more confident.

I feel like a weight is lifted.  I can jump and run, no longer bound by the chains that have held me since I was a wee-one.   I can just be me.

What if others don’t like me?  Does that make me a failure?  Do others determine that?

Am I a failure?

No! A thousand times, “NO!”

I love Jesus. I am trying to be more like Him every day. That is success. Success is not defined by dressing right, saying the right thing, decorating my house a certain way or having people verbally affirm me. No, success is walking each moment hand-in-hand with Jesus. Quietly listening for His promptings, obeying His word and by asking myself at the end of the day, “Did I please Jesus today?”

Galatians 1:10 (NIV) says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

 Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes and showing me where I was walking on the wrong path. I don’t want to walk the path of acceptance of others. The burden is too heavy.  Thank you for accepting me and loving me even when I was unlovable.  I want to be a blessing to those around me. I want my time to be freed up to enjoy people and not be a slave to what I think they might be thinking.  Thank you for your everlasting love.  Amen.