The struggle is real…

Are you single and okay with it?

I’m not. Not always.

I spent a good deal of my life learning the art of self-sufficiency and independence, but, in some ways, it was to my detriment. So much of my time was spent convincing myself and others that I didn’t need anyone and I started to believe it myself.

The truth is that we do need people. I do. And if you’re being honest, you do too.

It doesn’t mean that I sit around wailing and wanting… although, sometimes I do feel like there is plenty of wailing and wanting happening! heh. It means that sometimes I wonder why my longings are still longings. I get stuck in a place somewhere between being hopeful for a godly marriage and feeling like a hopeless lost cause. I want to believe in it and I also want to be realistic. Yanno?

What I had to realize is that struggling with it isn’t a bad thing. It’s okay to question and wonder about things that we are asking God to do in our lives. We can trust Him and still wonder about the outcomes. Remember my last post where I talked about being frustrated, and that this last year has been one rolling frustration? Yep… my heart was all part of that frustration too.

In the last year, I’ve tried lots of ways to deal with the things that are hurting my heart… I’ve tried to run from church, I’ve tried to drink it away, I’ve tried to get lost in books and movies, and if I’m being really honest, I even thought some physical comfort would do the trick. Thankfully, I didn’t explore that last option more than a passing thought.

The truth of it all is that none of those did or could comfort the longings I felt. Sometimes, for months and/or years, I am able to just go along with normal life without thinking about my desire to be married and other times it’s like I’m being punched in the face. Over and over. A violent reminder of my worthlessness, my inability to close a healthy relationship, my lack of the necessary skill set to secure a man, my inability to attract a man, every flaw on display.

Recognizing how the enemy works was critical to overcoming the constant beating I was doing to my own heart. And there’s a good chance you’re doing it to your heart too. Maybe not today. But maybe you did yesterday or will tomorrow.

Friends, the enemy finds our weaknesses and he is masterful at using those spaces to dig in his feet and whisper untruths to us. He knows how to angle himself in such a way that we only hear his voice – he wants to stand between us and Him.

We are going to struggle. It happens. We have a choice how we struggle and with whom we struggle, though. I’ve made a choice not to struggle with the enemy… I want to struggle with Jesus. With knowing Him better, with allowing Him to know me better, with getting closer to His heart and the things He has for me… that’s my struggle these days.

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As believers, we’ve fed ourselves some untruths like; push through the pain and/or the longing, if you loved God enough you’d be patient and not question His will for you, if you trust His will for your life then you could truly be content in this season. Bleh blebby bleh bleh. The truth is that we gain His power and grow stronger and closer to Christ in moments of our own weakness. When we are in the midst of a struggle and our dependence is all on Him, then we’re closing that gap the enemy uses to speak lies to our hearts. Let’s stop being people who are pretending to be okay when we’re really not okay. Let’s embrace the areas we struggle and struggle with the One who has the answers. Let’s stop shaming other believers for not being content enough, faithful enough, or patient enough. Let’s walk each other to the cross, keep one another in prayers, remember that we’re all just trying to live our best lives and make it into eternity with our Creator.

My name is Stephanie, I love Jesus with every bit of my soul, and I struggle. And He struggles with me. Because I am His and He is mine.

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What in the world…

Who knew that when I posted my last post, on July 3rd, at 5 pm, that just a few short hours later, everything in my world would change. It’s funny reading it now.. like talking about how I struggle to focus on things because I’m often focusing on so many things. Well. That shut me up.

And made me focus.

Today I was reading something on another blog about how to continue writing when life is blowing up around you, and I was reminded that writing is something that is important, of course, but that it’s also okay to take breaks when needed. Writing is often an escape, but it’s also a place for me to sort out emotions. Until there are too many emotions to sort out in any particular moment. And having some grace with myself to step back and process is important.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about how I would come back to this space and at what level would I share what’s been happening..

Here we go…

On July 3rd, I was home alone, when some crazy, angry, delusional person opened fire into my apartment. Only by the grace of God I didn’t get up to open the door when I heard someone coming up the steps (like I normally would’ve done) and that the shooter didn’t understand the layout of my apartment and where his bullets were landing. Forty-five minutes later, the same shooter opened fire into another apartment in the next complex over. The alleged shooter was caught three days after the incident and is in custody awaiting trial. That’s all I can share, and that’s public knowledge. The rest is tied up in legal mumbo jumbo.

We are safe.

Trying to process through that with my kiddo and myself, while in the midst of a huge work project, and then into my busiest work season has been… challenging. And difficult. And life-altering, to say the least.

One of the things that made me angry at myself, though, was how I got angry with God. Not at first.. I was grateful for His protection, in the beginning. But then I was angry. I was angry that I have felt like the last year has ripped me open over and over again. I was angry that every time I thought we were swinging toward some lasting goodness, there would be another punch to the neck and something taken from me. I was angry that with every wave of grief over the last year I leaned into Him and dug deeper in my relationship with Him. And then this happened. It was the literal straw that broke the momma’s back. I was getting closer and closer to Him and this was my reward? This was what surrendering to Him looked like? NO thank you. I mean, I’ll love Him, but not like that.. it hurts too much.

But then… God.

I tried so hard to stay mad at Him. Have you ever tried to be mad at someone and you just couldn’t?

Maybe it was the softness in His spirit;
or the gentleness of His love;
or the patience He showed toward me;
or the tenderness of His relentless pursuit for my heart even when I was so done;
or the willingness He had to let me be angry and not be mad or hold it against me;
or the desire He had to love me even though I was not being lovable;
or the mercy He showed me when I screamed that His way was too hard;
or the grace He freely gave to cover me as I crawled back to Him.

This was between me and Him. There was no one to walk through this with me or to encourage me along the way… it was me and Him. On an island. Working through some messy stuff. Have you been there? On that lonely island?

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Here are some truths I’ve learned, some for the first time and some for the second or third time…
He didn’t put me on that isolated island. I did that to myself. I refused to allow anyone to walk through this with me because I was too busy being mad. And angry. And bitter.
He didn’t do this to me. We live in a fallen world with broken people. The enemy is real and he knows how to cause division. It’s his whole purpose on earth. Trying to separate us from Him.
He didn’t push me away from Him. I went headstrong in the other direction.
He didn’t force me to stay near to Him if I didn’t want to, I have a choice in the matter.
He didn’t hide Himself from me when I was ready to go to Him.
He didn’t try to offer me an explanation, He just wanted me to trust Him.

We’ve all heard the phrase that bad things happen to good people. And godly people. Being a good, godly person doesn’t mean we’re immune to the suffering of the world. But it does mean that we have a Place of retreat when the suffering is too great for us to handle alone. It does mean that we have a Provider who will find a way to keep us moving forward. It does mean that He will knock down walls to remind us that we’re important to Him. And that He loves us deeply.

We are His beloved.
He is our Defender.
We have a purpose.
He will position us for our purpose.

Oh, friends, sometimes it will be hard to let His love take hold of us and carry us. He wants to be near to us and has a steadfast love for us. His faithful pursuit for our hearts is steady. Even when our thoughts are all jumbled, His promises for us will come to pass when we remain in a place of surrender and obedience. Temporal existence is just a blimp on the radar when we have eternity in mind. I want to be a woman focused on eternity and the Kingdom. Even when it hurts. Even when I’m angry. Even when I’m scared.

 

 

Day 8…

Share something you struggle with. 

I have lots of struggles… way too many, I think. One of the things that frustrates me about myself is that I can sometimes have difficulty focusing. Even this post has had four different “struggles” already because I can’t focus on which one I want to write about here. (and now we’re on day 3 of it just sitting here because I can’t seem to finish it.)

My focus can either be all-consuming on one thing or it’s completely scattered on several (read hundreds of) things. In either event, there isn’t the balance I’d like to have in order to be and stay productive and efficient and effective.

Sometimes the ideas I have will overwhelm me so much that it’s paralyzing and so, nothing happens even though there are so many good ideas about something. And sometimes I just have overall commitment issues… like this 30 day writing challenge. We’re on Day 8 and I’m totally over it and it’s taken me like 3 weeks just to do 8 days! haha.

Maybe we’ll see Day 9… maybe we won’t. 😉

Day 6…

One of the things I’ve noticed since moving to TX is how people “do church” here. Church in the bible belt is much more cultural and/or obligatory and a lot less about a person having a growing, deepening, personal relationship with God.

In the last couple of months, I’ve talked to other people, from other areas, who also noticed the same thing. And, to make me feel like it’s truly legit, my pastor talked about it during his sermon yesterday. Finally, I feel like my theory is supported and has some footing.

All of that doesn’t have anything to do with today’s post, but I think that it’s important to point out how I’m not crazy from time to time. 😉

Five ways to win my heart.

Winning my heart is tricky business. I love really big and I can accept love pretty well, mostly. But, if we get into that whole romantic love thing… well, I’m pretty guarded and messy there. I’m healed. I’m whole. I’m careful.

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So, let’s talk about other ways to win my heart and not about “oh, baby, I want to marry you” kinda ways, mkay?

 

 

Coffee, as soon as my eyes pop open – that wins my heart. Well, until I get married… let’s be real, shall we? There just might be something else that pops my eyes open in the morning once I have my hunka man… buuuuut until then – coffee.

Man on man love. I love me a good bromance. When I see men encouraging one another, praying for one another, and supporting one another – all my “I wanna have his baby” sirens start to go off. Mind you, I’m not having anyone’s babies, but the sirens still work, amen? Yes.

Cannolis… let’s just keep things nice and simple. If you wanna win my heart, bring me a cannoli. I didn’t get this voluptuous frame by eating salads all day… 😉

Ridiculous kindness. Like really, we can never overdo it on the kindness front. We need to pour it out of our pores like it’s the most natural thing we’ve ever done. We should be, literally, tripping over one another to beat the other one to the task. Think of a world where people are fighting about who gets to do the next kind thing. That’s my kinda world.

Acceptance… I have fought long, hard, and dirty for the woman I am today. I will accept nothing other than someone who can take me at face value. I can be a crazy, silly nutball or I can be a deep thinking lover, and everything in between. You can challenge me to be a better version of myself, but you must accept who I am today – with all of my wacky-do doodles.

Tell me about things that would win your heart!

Day 5…

places

List 5 places you want to visit.

1) Zambia. I’m in love with this country and I’m not all together sure why. I know the AIDS epidemic hit that country really hard and the orphan population is massive. I continue to tell myself that God hasn’t allowed this trip to happen yet because I don’t have enough self-control. I can see that I would either come home and try to figure out how to adopt at least 27 children I met while there or I would just stay there and never come back. My heart isn’t ready for it. I know this about myself.

2) New Zealand. Because it’s NZ. All the pictures I’ve seen of NZ are breathtaking and I’d love to see it in person some day. Also the Maori culture is pretty fascinating to me, from the language to the arts to the haka that I love so much. I’m pretty sure if I witnessed a haka in person, I would be a puddly mess for the rest of the day. Click here to see one of the hakas explained; the Tika Tonu. There are many different hakas, and I love them all.

3) The west coast of the US, from northern CA up to the Canadian border (and probably just over because one of my friends lives in Nanaimo!). I’ve never been to that area of the country and it’s on my list of places to visit. Specifically I’d like to visit; Yosemite National Park, San Francisco – both in CA. Warm Springs Indian Reservation and Mt. Hood National Park in Oregon. Then up to WA state – I would spend lots of time here, if possible. First stop in Kennewick because #friends. Then up to Moses Lake because #friends. Then off to Seattle because #friends and #Seattle. Then to Olympic National Park, La Push coastal beaches, and back to Seattle. Before I decided to land in TX, WA state and Zambia were my other two choices of places to live. The lack of sun was literally the only thing that kept me from not choosing WA. I do think I could fall in love with it, though.

4) The northeastern coast of the US; from CT up through ME. This is another section of the country I’ve never visited. When I was a teenager, I was in love with Boston. I’m not entirely sure why, but it may have started with NKOTB and Donnie, specifically. 😉 I even hoped to attend college there one day. Alas, I’ve yet to visit, but in me they will always have a die-hard Pats fan! The entire New England area has me pretty mesmerized with its overall beauty and charm, but I am so.over.snow and would probably never live there… But God.. heh.

5) Somewhere tropical. I don’t even care where because so many places are beautiful. I wanna see blue-green water, walk on fine sandy beaches, see a parrot, eat amazing food and drink amazing drinks. I wanna fall asleep with waves lulling me there.

Where do YOU wanna visit?

Day 4…

I skipped this day on purpose because I am choosing not to answer… at least not in the way it’s meant to be answered.

Write about someone who inspires you

Too many people inspire me. Some still around. Some are not. Some who have hurt me. Some who have helped save me. I’ve been inspired through their words, actions, inactions, kindness toward others, their drive and motivation, their laziness. I’ve been inspired by both knowledge and ignorance, strength and weakness; anything can propel me toward my own goals by their own means.

So, I can’t write about someone who inspires me when everything around me inspires me in some capacity. Maybe one day I’ll be able to think about this more concisely, but if not, I’m okay gathering inspirations from the stars to the dirt.