Day 3…

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I wish this day were harder to think up something good… but it’s not. I’m a bit obsessive about things, which means I can get peevey when it’s amiss. I’m workin on it, y’all.

Day 3: What are your top three pet peeves?

And for all of you who know me, number 1 iiiiisss… ? Yes, the chewing. Get.It.All.The.Way.TOGETHER. man! I’ve left the room while my mom eats salad because it’s just something with my mom’s mouth saliva vs the ratio of lettuce/tomato intake mixed with dressing — or something. I don’t know. I have big, fat issues with people and their chewing. I also always feel the need to defend this a little, too. It’s been an issue for 40+ years – since I was a child. It’s not some new cool thing to say makes me crazy, it can literally make me crazy. Please, if you have a chance, ask me about the guy at the movie theater and his popcorn. You will see a visual storytelling that will have you feeling my pain!

I feel like the next two that come to mind are also either chewing related or general sound related, and I’m trying to think of something else. I used to really be obsessive about my pantry but then – kids grow up and make things messy and it’s not that important in the big scheme of things and I had a choice to be angry at my kid all the time for messing up the pantry or to love him despite his less than OCD tendencies. I chose the latter.

Oh! Inconsiderate drivers. Bah. Much like most of the world, a little less selfishness and a little more consideration for others would make so many things better; including the roads. Don’t tailgate. Don’t cut people off. Be a good merger/mergee.

The last one would probably be littering. Ugh. Such a disgusting habit. It amazes me that someone can just open the window to their car and throw things out of it. Blech.

Okay, one more sound one.. remember, I said I have issues. Unnecessarily loud breathing is enough to drive me completely mad sometimes. Trust me, I get mad at myself for a persons breathing being an annoyance to me… but, well, I’ll be perfect in heaven.

There you have it – things that will make me bonkers and probably explain why I’m single at 46. 😉

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few more random thoughts.

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Abba Father…

A few months ago, I had a pretty significant conversation with one of my dearests about calling God “daddy” or “dad” or “papa” and how I struggled with it. In some ways, I felt like we were reducing this big, huge, almighty, most powerful, awesome God to something so small as a dad. I also felt like my idea of what a dad is and what God is just didn’t line up – the two things didn’t match in my brain or my heart.

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Then comes along a guest speaker at church yesterday, and the title of his message was “Call Me Dad”. sigh. The Holy Spirit was about to do some work in my heart, I knew it.

1 John 3:1 (AMP) says, “See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

Luckily that was the only scripture for the whole sermon because there’s definitely enough in there for me to unpack without any additional words.

One thing I learned yesterday is that there is a brokenness in my definition of the word “dad”. What it means to me is not God. And in many ways it’s not a good word at all. I also am beginning to understand that my definition of the word dad was never meant to be based on my earthly experiences or understanding. If I’m trying to make God synonymous with an earthy father, the two will never align.

Part of yesterday’s message was trying to understand how God wants me to see Him. “How do I get Him the way He wants to be got?” was a repeating question.

We need to understand how to rest in God’s great love. As we know, it isn’t based on our own works. We can’t earn His love. Nothing we do will make Him love us more. This is such good news! It means that no matter what, His GREAT love – not minimal love, not mediocre love, not withholding love – but His GREAT love is already ours. We had nothing to do with the way He loves us, He just does it. If we’ve been a believer for any length of time, this isn’t new news, but it is news that we sometimes forget. Or that we can’t fully grasp. Let’s continue to remind each other, okay?

We need to learn to receive the gift of lavish grace. The pastor used an analogy of biscuits and gravy and the way he told it would be no good in written format, but it is something we can visualize… a plate of warm biscuits with gravy smothering so much it’s running off the plate – that’s God’s grace. It’s so much that it overflows and we can’t even get all of it. Similar to His love, we can’t buy or earn His grace, it’s just ours. And it’s a gift… we all know that once we try to earn or buy something, we take the concept of it being a gift away. It’s free. And it’s ours. He gives it no matter if we think we deserve it or not. Addictions? Grace. Adultery? Grace. Porn? Grace. Lying? Grace. Selfishness? Grace. There’s literally nothing His grace cannot touch.

Finally, as it’s stated in the scripture above, we have to allow God to rename us. He calls us daughter and son. He has given us that name and when we (I) take that away from Him and refuse to call Him dad, I’m saying what His word says isn’t right or true. I’m saying that He didn’t rename me to be His precious daughter. We have allowed the world around us to name us. We’ve picked up the names the enemy has given us; unworthy, unattractive, unlovable, unbelieving, fat, guilty, shame, dumb, ugly, etc… These names have been given to us by someone who has no power or permission to name us. Our identity comes directly and solely from Christ. We have to stop giving the rights of who we are and to Whom we belong away so easily.

So, I’m convinced. Calling Him “Dad” is not minimizing who God is nor is it comparing Him to my own definition of what a dad looks like here in the world. Abba, Daddy God, Dad, Poppa, or whichever version of Father I land on, is allowing my heart to be consumed with a great love that shows lavish grace to me and Who calls me His own. Thanks, Dad.

I’m okay, you’re okay…

5f6e34c8bfb331843d27ae67ccb37678Most of my single friends will agree that we go through stages of being okay if that’s what God has for us, but other times we’re solidly and vehemently against any notion of that idea. Whether we choose to admit it or not, we all long to be loved. God created us to be in relationship with one another. While I believe all forms of relationship are important, I sincerely believe in the importance of close, intimate relationships too. Sadly, many of us have never known them and may never in this lifetime.

When I’m trying to speak life into my other single friends who are questioning why their desires aren’t being met, I have to really give myself a good pep talk ahead of time sometimes… like… okay, you DO believe what you’re about to say… maybe you don’t believe it right now, but deep down you know it’s true and you just have to keep on saying it to yourself, to others, to any single soul who wants to feel the love of another soul… and then I say…

“I don’t know. I have no idea why God is doing what He’s doing in your life or in my own. I don’t know why we’re having to wait. I don’t know what the lesson is to be learned. I don’t know why this person gets a spouse and that person doesn’t. I don’t know if it’s because there is still so much work to be done in our own hearts and lives that He’s just not able to put us together yet. I don’t know if it’s because our spouses are going through their own transitions. I don’t know.

What I do know.. We are loved. God is our faithful Provider and I stand firmly in the truth of that. God is omniscient. He knows things that we can’t even begin to understand or wrap our brains around. I know that God will, in His timing, put us in the exact place He needs us to be for His purpose. God has a path and purpose for each one of us and we might never be in a position to understand what it all means. Stay obedient. Stay in prayer. Stay humble. Be a lovely soul. Have faith that God is going to do the very thing that needs to be done in order for His plans to be carried out.”

And sometimes that’s enough. Other times it isn’t. Some of us really need time to process through the pain of loneliness and unmet desires. We need to be able to sit and be sad about things that aren’t happening that we’ve been praying to happen. We need to be bummed out about rejections every now and then. We aren’t machines…

I feel like one of the strengths that God has given to some of us is to have big huge hearts for people and a willingness to meet them exactly where they are in whatever messy state they’re in, but to also love them firmly with His truth. Being in community with other singles can be hard because we’re all in such different places with such different experiences and hurts… I hope, though, that we’re able to love well the people in front of us, no matter what part of the path they find themselves. We are all in need of extra measures of grace and a wealth of mercy as we process through our stages.

I’m particularly grateful for my friends who have loved me at every lovely and terrible stage of singleness I’ve visited. You’re my people. ❤

Rejections and onions..

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I had a conversation with someone not too long ago and basically said exactly this phrase. It’s certainly a fear that when someone gets to see the real me, the real struggles, the real insecurities, the real everything.. the other person will either determine that I’m not enough or it’ll be too much work to love me.

In either case, I’m alone.

Then last night while talking to a long time friend and discussing this fear of allowing someone to get too close and the possibility of rejection… and how I was left feeling a bit undone and not really sure how to not be too much or too little or too exhausting or too underwhelming or too (fill in the blank…) – his advice was simple.

“You’re like an onion. Even after all these years, I pull back a layer and see something new about you. This keeps things interesting and there’s always something to learn. The alternative is to be like a piece of bread. You see one side and you flip it over and see the other side. Then you’re done. You’ve seen all there is to see. Be an onion.”

There really is no way to know how another person will react when we begin to reveal who we are and why we are and what we are… but there is freedom in walking out our truth and speaking our stories. We won’t always get it right and sometimes we’ll have people walking around with bits of us that we’d rather they not know, but I want to believe that God can even use those rejections in His grand plan.

All of this to say… be an onion. Have layers. Don’t be afraid of your depth. The truth is we will be too real, too hard, and too much for some people. We just continue to be who He has created us to be. We continue to walk with Him and allow Him to direct us to the people He has for us. And be okay with knowing that, on occasion someone will peel back some layers we’d rather wish they hadn’t. It’s called vulnerability and it’s a mandatory part of relationships.

I’m cheering for you friends.. and for me too.

Being me…

When I think about how God created me to be in this world and how to interact within the gifts He’s given me, I’m always drawn to the opportunities I’ve had to share out my story and to be in a place of transparency and vulnerability. While I do believe those gifts to be true, what I also know to be true is that I’m the ultimate gatekeeper to the level of transparency/vulnerability I’m willing to share. In a recent post, I talked about this specifically.

As I was praying last night and then thinking about what my next post would be about, I really felt like God was asking me for a bit more. bd98228d14ddb7951dfdf1b4c7814a60

A few weeks ago, I felt myself slipping into a space where I was questioning my worth on a regular basis, I was comparing myself to other people, I was scared of being overlooked, again. I had an overwhelming fear of rejection creeping over me. I even signed up for a book study called, “Why Her?” (which was good, by the way!) These were all things I hadn’t felt in so long.

After all, I am Strong. Empowered. Brave. Confident. Wise. Smart. Unashamed. Guilt-free. Secure in who I am. Faithful Jesus follower.

And then BAM! suddenly I was back to a place where I was questioning all the things I thought to be true about myself.

My purpose as a woman who encourages others felt like a big, fat, fake lie when I knew that deep inside my own heart I was struggling to keep my heart intact and to keep my footing in God’s truth about me. I was easily able to speak God’s truth over anyone else, but speaking it over myself was becoming difficult. The affirmations I was writing to myself on my mirror left little room for me to actually use the mirror.

And then Jesus… He reminded me that:

1) I don’t belong in that space of doubt, shame, fear, rejection because He feels none of that about me. That isn’t His approach to us – to hold us in that space of questioning our worth. He died for us so that we don’t have to sit in those places… He is alive inside of us.

Galatians 2:20 (AMP) says, “I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

2) That I don’t have to stay there. By staying there, we allow the enemy a foothold and we give start to see things the way the enemy sees them rather than the way our Father God sees them. We need to allow the things and truths of God to bubble over so that our footing remains steady.

Psalm 40:1-2 (AMP) says, “I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path.”

3) He gave me not only Himself to cry out to, but flesh and bone people to walk with me too. One of our most valuable lessons is to remember that God provides all kinds of resources for us to get out of whatever mess we find ourselves in. Many times, it’s our own friends and people He’s put in our lives who are willing to journey alongside us. ( J & S, <3)

1 John 5:14-15 (AMP) says, “This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him.”

So, this is the girl who sometimes hides. The one who is, every now and then, way more broken than it may seem. A lot less put together than I might project into my world. Much more undone than done. He’s helping me to reveal the truths, not only for those around me, but also His truth to myself. Today, I am confidently walking in His abundant and overwhelming love for me. He is faithful. And good.

 

 

Being you is…

Whenever I’m getting to know someone new, I feel a need to kind of rattle off some of my weirdness so they can grasp how weird I am. Like, I feel like I need to provide that person with the information necessary to bolt if they aren’t ready to deal with all the things Stephanie.

I definitely have some quirks, some insecurities, some brassiness, some weirdness, some difficultiec6f020115f7bd055ce7d293734083accs, etc… we all do. So I have to sometimes ask myself why I think all of those things that make me, me are so much worse or different than the things that make you, you or her, her or him, him. We all have our quirks, insecurities, etc…

One thing I’m learning as I’m growing (b)older is that I’m not nearly as much of a mess as I think I am, that I am worth knowing and loving despite my messy bits, and that God has given me a set of circumstances and gifts that are unique to me in order to fulfill His purpose through me.

The things that make me who I am, as weird as they might be, enable me to reach a group of people who need the specific things I bring to the relationship. And the very same thing is true for each of us. I don’t doubt the bigness of a mighty God to draw certain people into doing life with one another based solely on the things one of those people may deem as insignificant, useless, weird, or messy. We are in this together and we have the most perfect God putting us in each other’s path.

So how do we own our super power and walk in it daily? I’m still learning.

Surrounding ourselves with people who encourage our true selves and desire to know the real us, that’s important and I would put it second behind our own desire to know and love ourselves and being our true selves with our self.

Also, being confident that God is a Master Creator.. leaning into Him to recognize, restore, and repair places that need to be tended while welcoming the bits that aren’t nearly as messy as we think they are. Which leads to embracing our faults… they are probably more endearing, and way less “faulty” than we think.

Finally, in most cases, what people think about us is none of our business. So what if people think we’re weird, or messy, or loud, or “too much” – like, really.. why do we care what THAT person thinks?? Now, I’m going to counter this one some with the willingness to be teachable where necessary. What Joe Schmo thinks about me isn’t necessarily important. However, if my husband (whenever I get one!), best friends, boss point out something to me that might need some work, I want to have a willing heart to accept their words and the desire to work on changes, if needed.

In all my unprofessional, but life lived experience, there is my wisdom about how to embrace the super power that is YOU! Mine is mostly embraced, but I am still working on the full embrace in certain situations, with certain people… I’m giving myself some grace there and I hope you give yourself some grace too. As long as we continue to do the work, we’ll eventually find our way to the embrace.

Now go on and be all weird and lovely and beautiful and messy in this world, you super hero!

Removing Fences

As I was driving home from the grocery store today, I passed through one of the more affluent areas on the way to my apartment – far on the other side of the tracks. =]

I do appreciate beautiful homes with landscaping perfected for magazine covers. Some of these communities had brilliant water features with small ponds and lakes. When I was younger, my mom and I would wander through model homes just to marvel at how lovely they were; the floor plans, the kitchens, the bathrooms, etc…

But today, I saw something a little different. I saw barriers and fences. I saw restrictions and cages. I saw separation and exclusiveness.

The communities I drove by today were all gated. Access code needed. In other words, I wasn’t welcome there. Of course, I didn’t try, but even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to – unless, of course, I was given an invite from a specific person inside the community.

There was suddenly a separation. A me and them. A low people and a high people. A division in classes. It’s always been there, I know… but today I just saw it differently. It was eye-opening. Heart-opening.

I was suddenly aware about how we do this. How Christians do this. How we create a me and a them. A low people and a high people. The houses and the people who live in them didn’t make me sad, I was sad about us as people. As Christ lovers and followers. How many fences and barriers have we put up to keep out the riff raff? How many people feel like they can only approach us with a personal invite? How many people feel incapable to come to us because they fear judgement, harshness, and condemnation?

We are called to foster love, peace, kindness, forgiveness, on and on. And on and on. I wanna be a woman who envelopes the lost, who helps others find freedom, and who is always inclusive. I wanna be a woman who is approachable, unrestricted, and without fences of separation.

That’s what we’re called to do and be. It isn’t always easy. We find comfort in our safe places and in our comfort zones. Gosh, I feel like I know this so much more now after being recently uprooted from my own safe, comfort zone. It’s important to be and stay in community with one another. Yes! We are critical to each other’s growth and we nurture one another. But it can’t stop there.

Can we examine our fences? Can we double check our invites and make sure they aren’t exclusive, but rather inclusive. Let’s gather with people on both sides of the fences. The mes and the thems. Let’s have communities with less separation and more invitation.