I am so blessed and lemme tell you why. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being married. Now, not only am I married, but I’m married to a Godly, praying man who not only recognizes when I need prayer, but follows through with it. I think all of us know how difficult that can be. So, I am happily spoiled in a way that I never thought I could or would appreciate. And I could almost write it off as being a not-so-blessed, but-more-of-a-typical happening, but as soon as I begin to take it for granted, I feel another hand. A smaller, 5-year-old hand gently touches my back. There are no words spoken because I know she is listening to her daddy pray. She not only hears the power that those words hold, but sees them as I miraculously (yes, I said miraculously) regain strength and energy into my body. Maybe to some it wouldn’t mean much. Maybe you picture Benny Hinn yelling and people dropping to the floor. I don’t know what you think about miracles. And I’ll be really honest, I don’t care. (Yup, said that too.) I know that I literally go from being too weary to walk or lift my head because my muscles give out to being able to continue on, whether that continuation leads to putting breakfast on the table (ok, it’s the coffee table—the kids eat in front of the TV sometimes. Ok, a lot. I’m letting it go.) or heading to work to do what I love. That’s real. That’s true. That’s what I choose to think on today. And that’s why I’m blessed beyond measure.
Exult: “show or feel elation or jubilation, especially as the result of a success.”
Is this you? Is this me? It’s not at 6:30am, I can divulge that much to you. I used to work in a factory. And when I think about “exulting” I think of him. He was a man who was different. He was different because when he came in, not only did he bring a smile to everyone’s face, but people were drawn to him. It was amazing to experience. I would watch as workers just wanted to be near him because he laughed, he sang, he danced, he even jumped up and down. He was a light in a dark place. He showed joy as he stocked the vending machine. Did you imagine him having a “more sophisticated” job? He was the one who stocked the candy bars and chips. I don’t know if this was his ultimate goal or not, but he let his light shine where he was. He wasn’t waiting for the day when he “made it” to get excited about life.He was amazingly exultant right where he was and he changed lives because of it. I looked forward to seeing him because he always had something good to say.
As I get older, I realize it’s more difficult to hold on to and talk about the good stuff. The “bad doesn’t outweigh the good”, as my wise father would say, but it’s so much easier to gripe, isn’t it? We are so blessed and yet most days if not all, it’s a struggle to make the gratitude flow. *Instantly I’m reminded of yesterday when the “blessed truck” (read “bless-ed” as per Methodist church circa 1988-this is better than referring to it as a mule-ish barnyard animal) pulled out in front of me. It wasn’t thankfulness that I was safe flowing out of my mouth at that point. Keep in mind I’m waaaaaaaaaay better than I used to be (see above: I worked in a factory. My mouth was an issue Jesus Himself had to tweak.)
My point is that it is work to think on and speak the positive. We are supposed to be that light. There are quite a few I would imagine that would shout and honk and yell not-so-creative names out the window at the blessed truck, but we are not them. We are jubilant! We are holy and righteous and good! We have to adjust our mindsets daily at the very least. I’m recognizing mine needs adjusted a wee bit more than that. Maybe hourly. Kids have a tendency to stomp out my good mood like a finished cigarette. Elation is work, but it’s worth it. We are unbelievably blessed. So plaster on a smile and fake it til ya make it if you have to, but God says to rejoice in his name all day long and exult in His righteousness. (Psalm 89:16) It’s only through Him that we can see the awesome.
Within this health-filled journey of mine (you know the one to become not the healthiest person on the planet, but more so the one who gets up and doesn’t have to take a nap after a shower?) I got to thinking how we pray and wait. We pray and wait. We pray and wait. That may have even been more praying that what some of us do. Eek!
I have been on this journey for 8 years. 3 years longer than the 5 year-mark I thought I couldn’t handle at the time. They, “they” being various doctors, told me I might recover in 5 years, as that had happened to other people, somewhere, sometime before. I remember thinking, 5 YEARS? How could anyone make it 5 years with these symptoms?? I’m here today to let you know, you can do it. Hurrah, hurrah. I truly wasn’t trying to be a cheerleader (although I am very encouraging to others…I took a test once that let me know hospitality and exhortation were my top 2 gifts! I had no idea what the 2nd was, but now that I know, I consistently remind others that I am an “exhorter!”)
Without this journey, I would have no idea how to take care of myself. I’m still learning to do this, but the whole “His temple” thang wasn’t exactly a concept I paid attention to when I was downing 12 packs of beer and pack after pack of nicotine sticks. So, as I was making a pot of nutrient-rich soup (my husband will take one look at it and blankly state: “That’s all you.”) this morning, I thought about how we eliminate the toxins, but then fail to build ourselves back up. God freed me from the addictions to chemical-laden junk, but I wasn’t aware of how depleted my body was of what it truly needed to function. He took away my craving for the bad, but I’m the one who has to take responsibility for the damage done. (Did anyone else cringe at the “r-word”? I know I did.) Plain and simple, there are consequences for our actions. I’m thankful that He allows me to be me, learning at my own pace, and quite frankly, puts up with my frustrations along the way.
I am very flawed, but I don’t dwell on it. He reminds me that I am pure, holy, loved, blameless, and then loved some more. He says in His Word that if we ask for wisdom, we get it. I’ve found that I have trouble trusting those “words of wisdom” I receive. He says we know His voice, right? I’ve talked to so many who don’t know if it’s His voice or not. I always tell them where I started: I would think it was God. Then weight the options. Do I want to do this? No. (Usually God takes us out of our comfy zone.) Would the enemy of my precious soul want me to do this? No. Does it go along with Scripture? Yes.
That last one kinda stumped me for quite some time. I’d ask myself these questions, and then shrug my shoulders on the Scripture one, as if there was no way to know. There is a way to find out. The only answer to this is to dig into the Scriptures. Open up your Bible. Pray. Meaning, ask God for help in understanding (*because if you’re anything like me, I could read 1/2 a book and not know what 3/4 of it said some days.) Then read. Read anywhere you want or do a specific Bible study. God will lead you in this as well. Then pray again. In doing so, we get to know the One Who created each of us. Who better to talk with about our issues? Lord knows I gots some issues. God says we’ll know His voice, but only if we practice listening for it and to it. There is nothing more comforting than knowing full well that we know full well. But it takes practice.
I’m over it. I’m over listening to everyone else. How they think God wants them to do this. Or that. But certainly not that. Why, oh why, would he ever want me to do that?? Ugh. Get over yourselves. No really. Get over it. I am and I did. This is a journey I had to get real on. And by getting real, I mean more than posting pics of my latest haircut or color, or (Gasp!) Me without makeup. I mean turning the tv and the phone off. Really. All the way off. I started a journey to find God that day, fully convinced I would, yet somewhat “meh” about it. I needed to get “un-meh” about God again, so here’s what I did. I am beginning a personalized Meditation (notice the “t” is not a “c”) Challenge. For 30 days, I will meditate.
Now, if you’re about to quit reading already:
1. Go ahead. I gotta tell ya, I really couldn’t care less at this point. I told you I was over it and that’s what I mean.
2. Meditation is Biblical. Look it up.
3. I don’t have a number 3.
I’ve tried to meditate before but mainly just made a grocery list in my head and got distracted by the ticking of the clock. This time I am more determined. I feel like life is lacking something. The spiritual war going on in my head and body is as real as fat-free ice cream. It’s there. We don’t want it to be, but it’s there.
The challenge consists of 30 days of repeating your mantra/Scripture/God-thought 30 times. 30 days, 30 times per day. Now, the Bible states that we’re supposed to renew our minds and this seemed like a good way to do it. I also liked that if you missed a day…guess what. You start over. None o’ that namby-pamby “it’s-ok, just-try-again-tomorrow”crap for me. I love a good challenge. At least I used to. I’m indifferent at this point. Possibly leaning toward disgusted as well. I’m at a place where I’m either going to head to Honduras to hug small children or set something on fire here. (Don’t worry, I set things on fire all the time. And all of the things belong to me.)
I’m somewhat disgusted that other human beings feel they have something to teach me. I’m not saying I know it all, but I AM saying I feel a lot smarter than some. And people trying to tell me what God thinks is especially sticking me like an itchy t-shirt tag. So, tom it begins.
Leave me alone, I grumble under my breath. Get out of my way, I say in the most polite way possible. STOP talking to me, I think to myself, as I reach for my first cup of coffee. I just want some time, no, NEED some time to myself. To think, to wake up, to scratch. Instead, I have 2 toddlers, 1 much like me (cuddling in the lazy recliner grunting to any passersby) and the other, much like her father (awake, alert, ready to take on the day joyously). “Mom, do cheetahs lay eggs? What’s your favorite color? Can I have a cereal bar? One time, at school, my cookie was melted and I had to wash my hands. Can I have another cereal bar? Mom? Mom? MOM!?!”
I have always been one to enjoy my quiet time. I don’t feel the need to fill up every moment with words. I like to reflect, ponder, and pause. I have found that if I don’t, I am a grump. Unfortunately, I have not had the time. And yes, my facial expression resembles that of Oscar from Sesame Street. I am in no way ready for my day if I don’t make time to check in with myself and God.
This brings me to what I believe God asked me to do: Get out of bed AND get out of it EARLIER. (To which I said, “Whaaaaa? I don’t think I heard You correctly.” I then proceeded to give a list of excuses, including, I have 2 toddlers. (I’m pretty sure He already knew this, being Creator and all.) I go to bed late. (Simple fix, I heard.) I’m exhausted already. (Because you’re not doing what I asked.) Um…uh…Ok, OK. Begrudingly, which is far from cheerfully if you know what I mean, I agreed. So, tom morning, I will be waking at 5. I tried for 6 and even 5:30, but God isn’t the typical negotiator. Grr. Ok, 5 it is. The absolute hilarious side of this enthralling story is I’ve done this before. I woke at 5, every morning because God told me to. Know what happened? I got TONS accomplished. I had more energy than I knew what to do with. I talked with God, laying all my fears and worries out in the open. Then I listened to Him reassuring me of Scripture like Phillipians 4:13 and that I could do anything as long as He was with me. I learned things I couldn’t possibly have learned from any other book than His Holy Word. Why, you may wonder, did you stop? Exactly. All I can figure is it involves what the Bible calls “flesh.” I had to kill it then, meaning I don’t always do what I want to, I do what HE wants me to. I would much rather lounge in bed, contemplating how I can procrastinate cleaning out the fridge yet again, but God wants us to give Him the firsts. First fruits, first of the day, first 10%. (That’s another day’s article.) So, tomorrow begins a new journey. One that God’s leading the way, with His dear disheveled daughter padding behind Him in holey house slippers, searching for His will and caffeine.
I don’t fit into any group. It’s occurred to me today that I’m not old enough to be considered an “elder woman” and I’m not young enough to hang out with the young’ in’s. (maybe because I call ’em young’ in’s.) I am “older” than the typical parent of a 2 and 4-year-old which places me in a different zone altogether I think. Which is ok…I suppose. I really don’t have to fit into any group. It doesn’t bother me until I get into my head and think, I don’t fit in anywhere. I truly don’t mind because in all honesty, I fit in everywhere. I can hang with the kids, possibly as a role-model-esque-type person, but still, I can hang. I adore the elder folks who have so much wisdom that should spill over onto us each and every day, even if it is something like, “Don’t eat that second bran muffin.” I like the 20-year-old’s because life is still somewhat-new, yet not, and people aren’t looking to them to be too responsible. “They’re still young!” after all. It’s when you hit your 30’s that people expect more maturity and knowledge regarding IRAs, mortgages, and such. In your 40’s, I guess you’re supposed to have it all together because if you don’t, people view you as a mess, but after the initial “OH. MUH. GUH! I’m 40.” sets in, I think you start to become happier with who you are in general. Then come your 50’s, you get all comfy, but see your nest emptying to a point. 60’s? The eternal “they” start to announce your “next chapter” and you’re supposed to retire with grace and gratitude. Then in your 70’s, they start talking about your “final act.” Now that has to be scary. It has to be an eery feeling looking back on what you’ve done, what you haven’t, and wishing you could change so many things, and being thankful that you can’t at the same time.
Today I’m thankful that I have a chance to experience things that so many haven’t. I get to live, breathe, work out, listen to my children’s laughter, doze off while “watching” a movie, hug my husband, and praise God above for all the little things that add up to huge blessings. Cheers (Gatorade) to fitting into every group and loving it!
My 2-year-old threw himself down on the floor. He wanted a sucker and there was nothing that would stop him today. I admired his persistence. The only hitch in this story that truly baffled me was that he already had one. The red, heart-shaped sucker he had chosen was in his mouth. On this particular occasion, he was upset because he…hmmmm…I try to remember his age and do my best not to rationalize or analyze or any of the other “i/yze’s” but “pathologist/therapist” is in my job title. It’s difficult to separate sometimes between others’ situations requiring diagnosis and treatment and my own 2-year old throwing a “typical” fit. (Even as I type “typical” I have to put it in quotes and wonder how typical it really is, as I make a note to research the latest findings on typical childhood development.)
Nonetheless, this event, this stressful, enraging, and blood-pressure-elevating-event (for both me and him, mainly me) got me to thinking if we do the same with God. We sit on our hypothetical kitchen floor, crying out to God that what we have is not what we want or what we ordered. It’s not how we pictured it; it’s not the same as the brochure or the commercial! I picture God with the same look of bewilderment I had and then laugh to myself at the thought of our Heavenly Father bewildered.
God saved me from a dead-end life. My life is certainly not what I thought it would be, but I think that’s a good thing. The enemy tried to kill off any dreams I had of prosperity and success. God saved me from that pit of despair. Now, even though I should know better, I sometimes sit wondering why I don’t have this already or what’s taking so long on that front? I don’t say the actual words, as that may be considered disrespectful, but God, what are you doing right now that you can’t just send down a hefty check that will pull me out of this mess? What are you doing in regards to my health? Have you thought about what we talked about last week God? I chuckle as I type this because God is so incredibly patient with us isn’t He? Even when we’re on the floor frantically screaming that we don’t want that anymore, we want something different, surrounded by tears and blessings. Today I’m going to do my best to not overlook all God has already done in my life and trust that my future is still His too.