Take Time to Be Proud

When the nights come that I am wide awake in late hours of the night worried about my future, I start to think about how exciting it’s going to be when I read back through this posts at a different point of my life and realize how far I’ve come.  How far God has taken me.  This realization, of course, comes after I’ve spent a significant amount of time beating the ever-living tar out of myself for all of the horrible things that I’ve done in my life and all of the failure I’ve experienced.  When I allow myself to go to that place I forget about all of the accomplishments I’ve made.

This post serves two purposes:

1.- to document the real, raw emotions I am feeling about the uncertainty of my future. Specifically relationally.

&

2.-to remind myself of all the things I should be proud of.  Sometimes you just need to remind yourself.

Dear Marti,

Please remember the following things:

You are independent. In the past year and a half you have managed to take a stand and remove yourself from a relationship you knew was sinking and unfulfilling.  After that, you managed to finish your first year of teaching, take care of your family during a horrific situation, find a new job, apply and be accepted to a graduate program.

You are a good teacher.  There are moments when life gets tough, the lesson planning gets overwhelming, the children become demanding and the parents are a little exhausting.  BUT YOU ARE DOING IT.  Every day you get up, you take care of the kiddos and you show them the love and acceptance of a teacher.  When all the bull crap gets tough, you’ve managed to still love those kids and realize that they are your purpose for being there.

You are strong.  You own your first apartment.  You are paying all of your own bills.  You are making it.  Every day you put your key in the lock and open your front door, know that you have worked hard for this.  You are doing good things in spite of the bad things that have happened to you.

YOU AREN’T YOU’RE PARENTS.

You are making progress.  You have completed your first month of counseling.  You are making an effort to understand yourself, to understand where you come from and to change patterns that haven’t been working.  GO YOU.

Take time to be proud of yourself.

Because sometimes, no one else will.

Love,

Your Struggling Self

It’s Worth It

I wasn’t sure how to start this post, but here it is.  The lyrics of the song Come As You Are by Crowder touched the depths of my soul tonight.  As I was driving home from graduate class, processing the hour long conversation I had during counseling earlier in the day I began to cry.  The kind of tears that are big and fat and turn your cheeks into rushing rivers, those are the kinds of tears I was crying.

Grief.   Utter Sorrow.

I took a few minutes and allowed myself to feel sad.  I allowed myself to come as I was and I showed my broken heart to God.  I laid down my hurt and I found mercy.  My pain isn’t instantly gone, but I just kept telling myself that God knows every tear.  I couldn’t make legitimate words, but as the tears fell I thanked God for his ability to decipher tears.  I am thankful for a God who is patient.  I’ve been fighting so hard.  I’ve been telling God how scared I am and he’s still, even in my reluctance and my BLATANT disobedience, been faithful in showing his love to me. Even as I am sobbing driving down the highway, God was wrapping his loving arms around me.  The lyrics of this song washed over me and covered me like a warm blanket after playing in the snow too long.  I cried harder out of gratitude and just soaked in the lyrics:

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are
There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are

I never wanted to believe that the people who are closest to me that I love the most may literally be incapable of providing my needs.  For a few weeks now we have been talking about how God will meet those needs.  How God will provide what I need.  How I will find validation in Him.  I believe those things.  A couple weeks ago Jill told me a story of how God showed her love through the comfort of her pet.  I began to think of all of the ways that God has shown me love and I’m making a list.

My Sisters- The love that I feel for each of my sisters is so strong it is something that I will never feel again and for any other people.  This is the kind of fierce love that I can imagine God has for me, except WAY stronger, because his love is perfect.  Also, how much must he love me to GIFT me with them?  They are mine, God gave them to me and I cherish each of them.

My nephew- It is absolutely impossible to not feel the love of God in the little boy.  When he giggles the pure JOY that he brings is just unbelievable.  He has created such a bond with each of us and brought my sisters and I closer.  I know that he has been an absolute gift from God and I am so thankful.

My Cohort- My graduate class is wonderful.  Each week we become closer and closer.  I love the community and the unity that I feel week after week.  The understanding that is provided through these people is a gift.  My need to be understood, loved and needed is met through different people within my group.  I literally don’t have words for the thankfulness that I feel towards each and every one of them.

My students- Some of my best and worst days are given from my students, but I have learned so much.  I know that each and every one of my students has been a gift in one way or another.  They have taught me things about myself, about the world and about teaching that I will always cherish.  Each and every one of them a gift from God, a God that loves me!

He is a God that understands each of my needs and meets them in very REAL ways.  It’s just taken me some time to realize.  I don’t understand the love of a parent well enough to understand what love has looked like outside of what I have tried to fill the void with, but as I’ve reflected on Jill’s story about God meeting her needs with the love of her pet, I began to see that NOTHING in my life has been an accident.  I don’t understand why my life has been what it has been and I may NEVER understand, but what I AM starting to understand is that God has placed people, and very specific circumstances in my life to meet every need that I have if I am willing to grasp onto it and hold it close.

Tonight, I am brimming.  I brought my broken heart to Him.  I came to him JUST as I was (blubbering, tear stained cheeks and all) and he comforted me.

Maybe you need to hear the song.  Maybe you’ve had a tear-streaked-cheek kinda night too.

Come as You Are.

It’s worth it.

Struggling

Well, it’s happened.

I have been so busy, I’ve run out of time to fit everything that is important to me in my schedule.  This week marked the beginning of teaching and the 4th week of graduate school.  All the time I savored over the last few weeks of summer has now dissipated and I find myself running from one activity, one assignment, one group of people to the next.  Tuesday after I finished my first day of work, cleaned my classroom, moved furniture, met my new staff, attended staff meetings, learned the new paperwork and poured myself into my car, I had to go to the grocery store.

I remember thinking I don’t know how women do this. I don’t know how women go to school, teach full-time and then have children to care for after that.  I only have myself. I help out with my youngest sister and I really do a lot to help, but she isn’t my sole responsibility. In that moment I was totally humbled when I thought about everything my Mom had to do while we were growing up.

I’m not sure why this is such a melancholy post.  I am VERY excited about my teaching job.  I am loving every second of graduate school. I am still on top of everything I need to accomplish, but I just feel off.

I feel a little spiritually off today. I know it has been too many days since I’ve really sat down with the Bible and got my face stuck into it for hours and today when I tried, I couldn’t. Perhaps that is my issue.  God has spoken to me this week, practically DIRECTLY to me.  I am hearing him still, but I can’t quite decide what I’m feeling or thinking today.

I’m struggling and I’m not even sure with what.

Embrace It

Last night I was watching videos by Jefferson Bethke, and one of the videos was entitled “How Can I Know God’s Will?”. One of the things that he said in the video really stood out to me. Does what you’re doing bring you closer to God? Does it give you the opportunity to love people and to serve people more? Does it give God glory? (I am paraphrasing, but this is what God spoke to me out of his message.) So, like Jefferson says, if you are faced with two paths to take, chose the one that gives you the opportunity to draw nearer to Christ.

My new job is frightening because of the unknown, but there are parts of this job that are going to give me the opportunity to love and serve and give more than my previous job ever did. Sure, when I first took this job I was 100% motivated by the $3 more an hour and the health insurance. I do think that God provided this job knowing that I needed those things, but His plan–like always–was SO MUCH BIGGER than I even imagined.

Graduate school is another thing that has surprised me. Because I am attending a Christian University, we start every class with a short devotional and prayer. ARE YOU HEARING ME?! When I found this out, I was incredibly excited! I looked at other schools, I actually had been accepted already to Ohio University and just didn’t have peace about going. I now know why I didn’t have the peace I needed. God had other plans, and Marti was just too busy trying to run the show. (-sigh- the curses of a first born.) Either way, this graduate program isn’t just about me furthering my education, it is about me furthering my relationship with Christ. Furthering my knowledge about Christ and being surrounded by people who believe the way I do. I am looking forward to making lasting friendships, getting to know my professors and immersing myself in the plan that God has for my life.

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Another big thing that has been happening is that Roman is getting very busy too. Our time that we’ve spent together has really diminished in the past couple of weeks do to changing schedules. I found myself becoming sad, angry, easily upset, because I missed spending the time with him that I used to. Yesterday when I picked up “Jesus Calling” the passage discussed praying even when things get busy. That just saying His Name brings peace and comfort while you are doing whatever task requires your attention. When things slow down and you have some alone time, that’s when you speak to God more in depth. The second paragraph discussed taking the day as it comes to you and not wishing for different circumstances. That is exactly what I had been doing, and I believe it was the root of all of my discomfort. I was spending too much time and energy wishing these 2 years would fly by, that things would be different, that Roman and I would have the time that we had all summer, and really this is just another part of God’s plan for our lives. How rude of me to just push this phase away like a chore. There is a lot to be learned, a lot to be discovered, there are a lot of friendships to be made and people to talk to about Christ. God’s Will for my life is shining through it a lot of different ways. There is a lot of knowledge and growth to be had in this journey.

I’m choosing to embrace it.