Pushing Through The Feels

I got the reminder email last night.  The “don’t forget you signed up for this meeting and R.S.V.P.’d that you’d be there” email.  I really didn’t feel like getting up on a Saturday morning.  It was an informational meeting.  Not like I was actually agreeing to any sort of commitment by showing up.  I could skip it.  I literally prayed this before I fell asleep, “I’m not setting an alarm.  God, if you want me there you’ll have to wake me up.”   How’s that for a fleece?  (If you don’t get that obscure old testament reference, it’s all good.  It’s in a story about a guy named Gideon in Judges 6:36-40.)

I woke up around five minutes before I would have set an alarm for.  Well then.  I threw down another fleece.  “If I don’t fall right back to sleep, I guess You want me to go after all.”  I didn’t fall back to sleep.  I had to pee.  Bad in fact.  You see, I’ve slacked off in my water consumption and the past few days I’ve upped my ounces to around one-fifty a day.  That takes its toll on ones bladder.

Needless to say, I got up.  At that point I just felt like crap.  Honestly, my head hurt (stupid allergies and stupid sinuses!!) and I just wanted to stay in my frumpy pjs and watch Netflix on my couch for the whole day.  Then I decided to do what, as of late, I haven’t been forcing myself to do.  I pushed through “The Feels.”  If you’re not hip to the urban dictionary (clearly I’m not either with that statement, I just remember seeing a meme that was funny) it means strong feelings or emotions.  Whatever.  The point was I’ve let my feelings dictate too much of what happens in my life lately.  I showered, ate, and left.

Breakfast was served a half hour before the actual start time of the meeting and since I’m so high-maintenance when it comes to food, I ate at home and arrived promptly at 9am.  I sat down at a table where they were just finishing up an ice breaker game, filling in the name of the cereal mascot by the cereal name.  Breakfast meeting.  Cereal.  It was cute.  The ladies at the table had four blanks left that they were stuck on.  I told them three of the answers (only two turned out to be right.)  And who has even heard of Big Mixx?!?  Anyway, our table had the most points in the end.  Yeah…let’s start the meeting and get this over with.  The speaker came back to our table and handed something to one lady and said, “Everyone at this table, take one.”  They were gift cards.  To STARBUCKS.  The joy!! I felt like I didn’t deserve one but the kind ladies said I helped so I should take one.  I didn’t even really look at it.  I just shoved it in my purse and grabbed a pen, ready to take some notes.  I was starting to feel a little better about this meeting.

Turns out it was a great meeting!  Very informative in a fun, engaging way.  Refreshing.  In the end I did commit to something I’ve been on the fence about.  It’s a good thing.  It will be a good thing.  For me and hopefully for others.  On the way home I decided to stop at Starbucks for an Americano to celebrate leaving the house when no one was making me.    People, there was ten dollars on that gift card!  I was thinking there would be five at the most.  This is a big deal because I’ve been refraining from getting coffee out because of the whole “being unemployed” thing.  I’ve gotten pretty good at making a decent pour-over, but nothing beats good coffee made by someone else.

I’m not saying that every time you push through negative emotions, you’ll get free coffee on the other side, but today was a reminder that I am not alone.  God knows my hurts, my bad-habits, my hang-ups and the issues in life.  And He love me anyway.  Sometimes He gives us these reminders so that we don’t throw in the towel or in my case throw a baby-pouting-tantrum and hide in my house.  On the way home this song came on and while you might find me rolling with the windows down singing my heart out, the lyrics made me laugh out loud this time with their timeliness:

Love Feels Like
I am tired, I am drained
But the fight in me remains
I am weary, I am worn
Like I’ve never been before
This is harder than I thought
Harder than I thought it’d be
Harder than I thought
Takin’ every part of me
Harder than I thought
So much harder than I thought it’d be
But empty’s never felt so full
This is what love (this is what love)
This is what love
Feels like
This is what love (this is what love)
This is what love
Feels like
Poured out, used up, still givin’,
Stretching me out to the end of my limits
This is what love (this is what love)
This is what real love
Feels like
This is what love feels like poured out,
Used up still willin’ to fight for it
This is what love feels like
Yeah, this is what it feels like

 

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Tending the Garden

Yesterday I told you how I had a mind-blowing, yet very ordinary come-to-Jesus moment on my deck.  In reality I’m writing this post minutes after posting that last one because to be honest…tomorrow I may feel like a fool for sharing any of this with anyone.

The truth I learned from Matthew 8:26 is that my faith is little (or weak) because I am fearful.  Now to be clear, I get the whole “fear the Lord” thing.  That’s not the same fear I struggle with.  In that case “fear” is being used as respect or awe.  I do fear the Lord in that way.  I’m talking about fearing things that are not God.  That’s wrong.

The analogy I got while looking at the neighbor’s garden is that my faith-life is a garden.   The Bible is full of gardening references!   In Genesis 1:8 it says, “The Lord God planted a garden..”  This is a real garden, not an allegory, and gardens need tending to.  In verse 15 it says, “And the Lord God took the man (Adam) and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”  So basically, God not only provided the seed, but did the work to plant the garden and was expecting Adam to look after it.

In that I see that faith is like the seeds.  God’s given them to me, and when I believed in His son Jesus, the Holy Spirit did the work of planting those faith seeds in the garden of my heart.  He may have had to break up some really hard clumps of dirt to get those seeds planted in the good soil.  Now comes the tending.  The looking after.

I just have to pause here in my typing to share the daily verse text I just got!   It’s Proverbs 2:3-5; “If you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”  God speaks to us…sends rain to our dry faith-gardens.  And it just started pouring rain here in Indiana.  Not. Kidding. These are the moments when I know God sees me.  He hears me.  And most of all He cares about me.  He cares about you.

So back to the tending.  What do gardeners do to tend their gardens?  They make sure the ground is watered (read the Word of God daily, go to church, spend time with people of like-faith, read what others have learned about God.)  Sometimes God sends unexpected rains (like that text 🙂 ) to water your faith-garden and other times you have to seek out that Living Water yourself (like spending time on my deck reading scripture.)  In looking after your garden you have to pull the weeds.  I could write a BOOK on just pulling weeds from our faith-gardens!  Recognize the weeds for what they are (fear, anger. pride) and pull them out.  If you need help, seek out the Master Gardener or accept help from people He might send your way.

Now to what I saw yesterday from the cucumber plants.  The cucumbers that grow on those plants can be used as food to sustain the ones who planted them (my neighbors) and others (me.)  If I in my lethargy or rebellion, I choose not to pick the cucumbers, what happens to them?  They start to shrivel up and die. They’re no longer tasty veggies I want to eat for lunch.  Now they’re ugly, mushy, gross things on their way to drying up.  If I realize what’s happening I can salvage the seeds to be planted.  Get it?!?  God doesn’t waste even our wastefulness.  Even this “dry spell” I’m suffering through because of my own lack of tending to my garden, He will use!

I could write so much more.  If you only knew how many books I’ve written in my head!  I’m working on the fear of what would happen if I actually got them out of there and they became a reality.  (SQUIRREL!) Now I’m thinking about who would do the art work, publishers, the time and work involved.  Afraid its not worth trying for fear of failing.  Clearly I’m a work (or should I say garden) in progress.  As we all are.

To sum up: tend your garden.  When you don’t know what to do to help your plants grow, ask the Master Gardener.  When you let your garden go, don’t throw in the trowel! (hahaha…I just had to)  Plant something new, water it, and watch it grow.

 

 

Fear and Gardening

Cucumber-in-garden2This morning I woke up to the realization that I am afraid.   I’m afraid that if I use too much water while doing the dishes I will wreck the ecosystem irreparably.  I’m afraid of taking the wrong job and being miserable for a whole school year. I’m afraid I’ll forget about the meat I left to thaw in the fridge and it will go bad and I’ll waste our money and we’ll end up on the streets homeless.  I’m afraid if I don’t recycle everything possible the earth will fall apart on my watch.  I’m afraid I won’t be able to figure out how to use blackboard for my online classes and I’ll fail at this college thing.  I’m afraid I’ve failed my family too many times and I’ll lose them because of it.  I could go on, but you get the point.  I worry about little things and big things and just about everything. I don’t speak these fears lest that give them credence, but I think them, and it’s quite exhausting.

Welcome to an inside look into the brain of someone who suffers from anxiety.  And this is on medication!  It’s a lifelong battle for me, and one I’m clearly losing in this moment.

My first thoughts this morning were worry filled.  I’ve not been sleeping well because even then, my brain is still stressing out.  I’ve had enough.  I told God as much this morning.  It was as I uttered those silent words to Him I remembered His Words to us.  To me.  And then it clicked.  I haven’t been taking the first part of my day and spending it with Him.  I’ve been lazy about that and I’m paying the price for it.

I grabbed my Bible and coffee and headed to the deck.  My sanctuary.  The one place in my house where I can (usually) relax enough to shut down my racing thoughts and hear Him speak peace to me.  I started out in Matthew, chapter 8 verse 26  and it was all I got through.  One verse.  “But He (Jesus) said to them (His disciples), “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” I know the rest of the story though.  Jesus told a stormy weather system to calm down, and it did.

From that one verse my whole perspective on this fear I’ve been throwing blind punches at changed.  Jesus wasn’t asking them, “Why?” like we ask.  With sarcasm or frustration.  He knew why.  He was pointing out to them why they were fearful.  It was because of their little faith.  As I pondered how my faith, which I would have said is normally sort-of on the strong side was so weak and now little.  How does that happen?  I was thinking of faith as one thing that grows.  Like a child grows into an adult.  But that analogy fell flat for me when I thought about how our faith ebbs and flows.  Grows and then seemingly shrinks.

I then was distracted (SQUIRREL!) by our neighbors garden and my brain did it’s thing.  I was worried they would be disappointed because I hadn’t checked the fence line to see if any of their cucumbers were growing on our side.  They want us to take whatever we want from their garden, which is pretty awesome, but especially to pick the cucumbers that grow through the fence onto our side.  I realized what I was doing and read the verse again, asking God to calm my stormy thoughts.

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then my brain exploded with words, analogies, even a whole children’s book I could write, on the things God was showing me while I stared at that overgrown garden.  Sometimes my hamster-on-a-wheel brain can get it together (with God’s help) and run in the right direction.

This post has gotten entirely too long to share everything I got this morning out of that verse and the garden , so I’ll save it for tomorrow.   Just know this…no matter what our struggles are, God has something to say about it.  Go grab your Bible and find out what it is!

 

Too Much

Words.  I have lots of them.  Way too many to actually make sense of.  I’ll try.

Last week I had an upper endoscopy done which, contrary to what anyone tells me, I’m convinced gave me an ear infection.  Before the test: I was fine.  After the test: my ear hurts.  Oh, and I spend a good portion of my day feeling like either I’m spinning or the room is.  It’s really not awesome.   How people who suffer vertigo keep functioning is beyond me.  Tomorrow I will call the doctor, because already having three other appointments this week, well, that’s not enough.

Why all the medical issues you ask?  For forever my life has revolved around the school-year calendar.  All those pesky things like seeing the dentist, physicals, and other yearly fun get put off until summer.  In my case I’ve put some of these things off for years.  So, this summer was to be the summer of traveling to see family and friends, and catching up on all those yearly annoyances.  No lecturing please, I’ve had quite enough of that from the healthcare practitioners I’ve seen.

Suffice it to say, I’m a mess.  A hot one, really.  It would take way too long to list my aches, pains, and diagnosed problems, and in all honesty I’d need a doctor like Gregory House or Hank Lawson to figure out what’s REALLY wrong with me and fix it.  And sadly, those are fictional characters.  (That last sentence speaks to how much Netflix I’ve been watching while I sit and let the world spin by.)  I need to get this fixed though because I’m embarking on a new journey.  College!

It’s kind of a big deal for me.  For those of you who don’t know me and my story I’ll try to sum it up.  After I graduated high school my mom’s boyfriend and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on pretty much anything, so I moved in with my youth pastors to do some thinking.  I didn’t think fast enough and they found out their job was transferring them from Pennsylvania to Indiana.  I decided to go along.  I got a job in a daycare, and helped take care of their three kids.  Within our first year in Indiana, I met my husband (at church) and we got married.  I don’t recommend this as a life-plan, but as you’ll see, God was in ALL of it for me.

On our first anniversary I was 3 months pregnant.  I was 21 when I had our first daughter.  Seventeen months later I had our second.  Six and a half years in and I had our third and last child.  Three girls.  Fast forward to today.  My husband and I have been married for 23 years, and our kids are grown.  Well, the last has one more year of high school, but the end is in sight.  For 30 years I have been working with kids in one way or another.  Babysitting, daycare, teaching, RAISING them.  In all of that I know without a doubt teaching young children is what God has gifted me to do.

For two years I got to do what I most love: teach full-day Kindergarten.  It was a stressful work environment though and after being at that private school teaching preschool, PreK, then Kindergarten for a total of 13 years, I knew it was time to part ways.  It was truly the hardest and most painful decision I’ve ever had to make.  I still believe it was the right one though.

I started applying and looking for other teaching positions only to find that NOBODY, and I mean that, cares how much experience you’ve had, or how many children you’ve taught to read, or even how good you are at what you do.  All they care about is your college degree.  I never went to college.  In the state of Indiana, as absurd as this sounds, Kindergarten is not required.  As such, private schools don’t need licensed teachers to teach K or below.  Because of my natural ability and God’s grace I was able to do what I love for a long time.  And as a side note anyone whose child I taught will tell you they never even KNEW I didn’t have a teaching degree unless they asked and I told them or I offered that information.

I did land at a small preschool last year, and it was not a great fit.  I stuck it out to the end of the school year but here I am again looking for work.  Back to square one.  So I made the huge decision to take online classes at Ivy Tech Community College to get a degree in Early Childhood Education.  I haven’t had to do anything for a grade (unless cooking and having your family rate it on a scale from 1-5 counts. NOT my idea btw) for 23 years.  That, my friends, is scary.  The good news is I have daughters that still live here who can (and will have to) tutor me in all things math related.  Oh, and blackboard.  I’m going to need help figuring that out for sure!  I also need to find a part-time job.  Good times.

That was probably way too much sharing on my part, but those are the words I needed to get out.  Free therapy.  It’s how I roll these days.  The most awesome thing in my whole story is how I see God’s hand moving through it the whole time.  Someday maybe I’ll write more specific examples, but trust me, without Him leading me, my life not look as beautiful (in all its messiness) as it does now.  I know He’s got this next phase of life in His sovereign hand, so I’m going to trust Him to see me through it.

Let me know you stopped by (um….that means leave a comment below;) ) I like to know I’m not alone in all the crazy.

Have a great week!