In Beginning to See

Sunset

I have been silent again here recently and it hasn’t been because of a lack of words, but rather a lack of sight.

I had intended to share this “news” after all of the healing had taken place, I guess to be honest I didn’t want any judgement about it and was afraid if I shared my reality that I might get some of that.

But I am beginning to see that God doesn’t and hasn’t called me to share the perfect here.

As much as I would rather do that…I am seeing that the times when I grow the most, learn the most about myself and my trust in God, is in the messy times. And I have been in the thick of it this past week.

Last Thursday September 4th, I had eye surgery. PRK to be exact. I plan on blogging more specifically about that experience because as I approached this surgery I did a lot of research and had a hard time finding quality/reliable information. But that isn’t for today.

What I feel God is asking me to share instead is the heart journey I have taken.

But let me back up just a bit. My husband and I both started researching Lasik surgery several months ago. As is the case for most things, much of what you find when you google these surgeries is negative. We had initial consultations and discovered that Dominic was eligible for the Lasik surgery, but because of my thin corneas, I was not. PRK was my only option and while it is a “safer” surgery it has a much longer recovery time.

After reading some horror stories online I got scared and cancelled the surgery I had scheduled. But Dominic made a decision to move forward.

I initially didn’t agree with him. Partly because I had fear and mostly because I was so jealous that he was going to get the “easy” surgery. Dominic is a Type A, like myself, and I was worried that if things didn’t turn out liked he hoped they would that he would be miserable. Miserable to be around, and I didn’t want to deal with that.

It stinks even having to admit that was one of my primary concerns but it was. And I let him know it on more than one occassion.

Surgery day came for Dominic and I spent time praying that everything would be better than expected. And, praise God, all went perfectly. On day 1 he was seeing 20/20 and 20/15…by the end of week 1 he was 20/15 in both eyes…almost 20/10. He is more than pleased with his results.

Throughout this entire process I was sure I wasn’t going to move forward but there was a hitch in my gut about it. I wanted the surgery but I was afraid. Afraid it wouldn’t be easy for me and afraid of how I would react if it wasn’t.

I did some more research, talked to the Dr. again, and some people who had the PRK procedure done recently…and felt like I needed to move forward. I know it may sound crazy but I felt like God was asking if I was willing to trust Him with this too.

So I scheduled the surgery. Told a few close friends to pray for me and went in believing I was fully prepared even if the “worst case” scenerio occurred.

As far as the actual surgery went, it couldn’t have been better. I didn’t experience the terrible pain I had read about and only had 1 day in the first 4 where I had an issue with light sensitivity. I believed that because I was better than expected, I would be seeing 20/20 in no time.

On day 4 the bandage contacts were removed and my vision was tested for the first time. While my vision had improved, it was not good enough to pass the standards for driving. I was crushed.

You see I DO NOT like having to rely on others to do things for me. Especially things that I should be able to do on my own.

Instead of being grateful that my mother-in-law was here to help take care of some of those basic things for me, I got resentful. Resentful that she got to hear the end-of-the-day stories before I did. Resentful that I had to ask for a ride to the grocery store, resentful that I was struggling to see my computer at work and couldn’t do my job well.

Are you seeing a theme here?

Instead of gratitude, I was filled with resentment.

On Thursday I was scheduled for my 1 week check. I wasn’t seeing a difference in my vision but I NEEDED to be able to drive again. I felt like my sanity depended on it.

When I didn’t pass the test I broke down in the Dr’s office. The good news is that everything is healing perfectly. It basically comes down to the fact that my eyes need more time, and that is normal and expected.

As Dominic drove me back to our office I had another meltdown. Maybe more like a crazy episode, but who’s keeping track?! I wanted my life back, I wanted it to be easy and gosh darn it it wasn’t fair that I still couldn’t drive!

Hadn’t I been so worried that Dominic would act the very way I was now behaving? Here I was faced with a choice – accept my circumstance with grace, or remain resentful.

Remaining resentful just takes so much work…it doesn’t feel good and it makes everyone around me miserable.

This is getting long, I apologize. I feel like I have to get the post out and amazingly can see my computer screen better than I have all week…so I am sticking with it.

Tonight Isaac had his senior pictures. A local friend took them and we went out to her farm for some fun outdoor shots. At one point she apologized for the mess in her yard. Because you see, not many of us are comfortable with other people seeing us in our “mess”.

I wouldn’t have necessarily known if the yard was more messy than usual…but she could see it.

Often our faults, and our flaws…our mess, bother us the most of all. (<====Click to Tweet)

We want to cover it up, put it in a closet, or apologize it away. But God sees our mess each and every day and loves us anyways.

When we don’t have it together, when we have crazy flip-out moments and unrealistic expectations…God walks through all of those moments with us.

We are not judged, we are not condemned. We are loved.

Do you hear that tonight?

You are LOVED.

There may be things you are hiding from, things you feel need to be explained away, messes that remain long after they should have been dealt with, heart-isssues that you try and manage by your own devices when God is the only One that can heal them.

If you are there…would you stop with me and find something of beauty to focus on?

The picture above is the sunset we saw when Isaac was driving us home tonight.

Beautiful, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

A reminder for me that while my sight today isn’t perfect, there is still beauty around me.

God is in the blurry and the  clear. (<====Click to Tweet)

I didn’t act like I believed that this past week. If things had gone better than expected, of course God would have gotten the glory.

But because they didn’t, does that mean He deserves any less?!

No!

So tonight I am seeing His beauty in a simple sunset. I am praising Him that I am on a road to recovery and He is with me every step. Because I don’t need perfection to find peace.

With Love, Kristin

Finding Beauty in the Abandoned Dream

Abandoned Home

In late July my family and I took a road trip out to the Black Hills of South Dakota. As we were driving I noticed several abandoned homes scattered throughout the landscape.

High on a hill the house stood, windows broken, door weathered. The once straight roof was wavy with time and wear. Gaps between the boards in the walls were visible. Clearly this place had been long since abandoned.

And I couldn’t help but wonder who had graced the spaces of that home?

A newly married husband and wife, seeking to start a new adventure on the plains? Did children run in the adjacent fields? Young men eager to farm the land and provide for their families?

Dreams start that way don’t they?

We feel the trill of a new start, we anticipate all of the positives and try not to focus on any of the negatives. We push forward in faith, maybe with a little fear, but filled with hope and the promise of what’s to come.

And if we are lucky all those hopes, those dreams and ideas are fulfilled. But it doesn’t always end that way does it?

I am sharing more over at the God-sized Dreams website – will you come and join me there?!

Shared by: Kristin Smith

Photo Credit: sub35089  (If using sunset pic it is Kadek Susanto)Ka

What Your Heart Needs

Phone booth

I am not much of a phone call kind of girl. In fact they sometimes scare the daylights out of me. It is those awkward pauses that might happen and “what if I say something stupid” kind of fears.

I don’t enjoy having to call and order the pizza, in fact for years I refused to do it. (I know what am I 12?!) Calling clients is one of my biggest fears at work, when the reality is that most often I can answer any questions they have and our conversations usually end up just fine.

I guess it is something that has always caused me some sort of anxiety, so I just avoid it if I can. So let me apologize right now if you have ever called my house and I haven’t answered the call…. : /

But this weekend I got a voicemail from my friend Kami (this call I totally missed I swear!!) and I called her back and just had the most wonderful conversation with her.

We don’t see each other but maybe once a year, it isn’t often enough but it was so nice to just catch up and share life a little. To talk to another mom who gets where parenting isn’t usually glamorous or even wonderful. A friend who knows what it is like to have “that” child….you know the one that doesn’t listen and seems to like being naughty. :)

And when I got off that call my spirit felt lighter.

I didn’t even realize that I was feeling a little down, but that call lifted me and I am so grateful for it.

Some days we just need that pick me up don’t we?!

Maybe it is a call from a friend, or some retail therapy, even a good cup of coffee if you are into that sort of thing! ;)

If I have learned anything the past several years it is that life isn’t, and won’t, always be easy. I will get frustrated, feel lonely or angry and upset. I will feel misunderstood and left out.

So knowing that these days will come, what can we do to counteract it?

I find for me that I need to surround myself with truth.

The truth of God’s word, a favorite scripture taped to my mirror (Ephesians 3:20-21), or a devotional book filled with inspiring truths that encourage and offer hope.

My dear friend Holley Gerth has written a new devotional called “What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days.” And it releases TODAY!!

What Your Heat Needs

It is a beautiful book filled with 52 short devotionals. At the end of each day is a prayer and a space where you can write a reflection from the reading.

Holley is the real deal. She is a woman that writes from experience, someone who has been dealt the hard days, and walked through them with grace.

This doesn’t mean that she has enjoyed the process, or even always handled it well, who of us have right!?!

But as you read these devotionals you feel as though you are sitting across from a friend, pouring out your heart, and she understands all you are dealing with.

In her words “Acknowledging the hard parts of our lives doesn’t mean that we’re not grateful for the gifts God has given. We can thank him every day for the child he’s given us while also feeling exhausted when that same child gets on our last nerve….”

“God understands both”

God wants us to bring the good and the bad to Him. (<====Click to Tweet)

He knows there will be hard days, days when our hearts need a lift.

I am so grateful that He has called and gifted Holley with words of hope so that she could bring that message to us. This is a devotional that you will want to get and keep close by for those times when you need a reminder that you are not alone.

Thank you Holley for once again filling my home with words of light, His light that shines through you. I am so blessed to know you and honored to be able to help promote this newest book of yours!

I was graciously given a copy of Holley’s devotional from Revell Books to read and review as a part of a blog tour. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Phone Booth Photo Credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin

Saying Goodbye

Birch Tree 2

I have always said that I believe that God brought us to this house.

During the transition time that Dominic was living in MN and we were still back in SD, we made several trips to Marshall to look at homes. Our Realtor (and now neighbor) :) was patient with us and showed us a bunch of homes.

We weren’t sure when we were going to be moving so it was hard. We would see and fall in love with a home and then it would be sold. This went on for 5 months. We finally came to a point that we knew we needed to take that leap of faith and put our SD home on the market and just see what would happen.

It sold in 4 days after 1 showing with a 45 day closing time.

Oh and I we had just had a new baby a few months before. It was a crazy time. And we needed to find a home fast.

I saw a house online that I loved and sent Dominic on a late night, last minute trip to see it. It already had an offer on it but there was a possibility to make a counter offer. While he was there Molly asked if she could show him 1 more house.

A home that had been on the market for a long time, and the sellers were motivated. So Dominic went to see it and I remember the call he made me that night on his way back to his rental. He just knew it was “the” one.

He was giddy and I was too, we made an appointment to go and see it as a family that following Saturday. My parents came along and we even looked at a couple other houses. But we knew that house was the house God put in our path.

I sometimes forget, but really we are all so grateful for the gift that house has been to our family. We don’t deserve it and yet we recognize the blessing it is for us.

One of the first things that I fell in love with when we drove down the drive was the beautiful birch tree in the front yard.

In the mornings when I would get up and have my quiet time I would sit in the front living room and the birch was my view. It has inspired a couple of different blog posts, most recently where I wrote about how God was peeling away some of those layers that had been holding me in bondage.

Birch 4

That tree and I have a history in just 3 short years. It has been a powerful and beautiful representation of God’s work in my life.

We had a tough and very cold winter last year. We started noticing that a large part of that old birch wasn’t healthy. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. But a few days ago our neighbor had a tree service company over and we stopped to talk to him.

Brian and his wife attend our church and we knew if anyone would be helping us with our tree issues, it would be them.

Birch Tree 6

He was over again today and confirmed that our tree was at least 2/3 dead. He could take down 2 of the 3 main trunks, but the reality was it wasn’t going to get better and we would likely just have to call him back out again next year.

So at lunch today we made the decision to have that tree removed.

I cried a little on the inside.

I know, I know it is just a tree, but it has been a part of our family the entire time we have been here. It is hard to make changes some times isn’t it?

I ran outside and took a bunch of pictures. I am just a little sad that it was so grey and dreary for her last photos, but I knew the front landscape of our home would drastically change and I wanted to document it.

Birch Tree 1

And so we went back to work and when I got Gabriel from school we came home to this….

Birch Tree 5

Amazing difference isn’t it?

I do like how you can see the entire home now, but I am going to miss my early morning views…

Birch Tree 4

Now all that remains is this stump. We decided not to remove it at this point (I didn’t want to deal with the large landscaping issue we would have with a hole there right now) so for now this will be our reminder.

Our views will constantly be changing. I am coming to appreciate the changes even when I don’t like it. I am hoping that I am able to see the view in a new light…different but not bad, and a new opportunity to see in a way I haven’t before.

I am grateful that an old, dying birch tree can continue to teach me so much about life. May I always be seeking to recognize the beauty that is around me.

Why I Won’t Be Doing The #icebucketchallenge

water

Time reported yesterday that since the start of the Ice Bucket Challenge a few short weeks ago more than $80 Million dollars has been raised with the help of over 1.7 million new donors who are participating in the #icebucketchallenge. Once again social media has had a monumental impact on raising awareness for a cause.

The reality is that this challenge has brought massive attention to ALS and hopefully an understanding about what those who have ALS go through on a daily basis. All of that is good. It is.

My best friend Karlena also had a neuromuscular disease. Not as well known as ALS, Karlena had Ataxia and it had similar effects on her body. At the age of 27 she started showing her first “symptoms” of the disease when the gate in her walk changed. She initially needed assistance with a cane and then progressed quickly to a scooter/wheelchair.

Talking became more and more difficult, as well as eating and swallowing. Towards the end of her life at the age of 35, Karlena weighed a little less than 100 pounds, was fed by a feeding tube, had a pump the size of a hockey puck installed in her abdomen that delivered pain meds to her spasming muscles and relied on others to bathe and dress her.

It was difficult to watch her continue to deteriorate. I saw it less than her family did, obviously, but it was heartbreaking. She had an amazing faith through all of it and she is missed terribly.

When I first started seeing the #icebucketchallenge come through my FB news feed, I wasn’t sure what to think. If I am honest, I was just hoping that I wouldn’t get tagged to do the challenge because there wasn’t anything appealing about dumping ice cold water over my head and making a video of it.

It was as though every other post in my feed is a video of someone else participating in the challenge.

And something started stiring in my spirit a little. I saw the picture I posted above and it stuck with me.

One of the videos I watched showed a son taking care of his mother, she reminded me of Karlena. I thought that if I was tagged maybe I could do the challenge to honor her and donate to the Ataxia foundation instead.

According to the ALS website, approximately 5600 people are diagnosed each year. And it is estimated that at any given time 30,000 Americans may have the disease.

Knowing how it was for Karlena and her family, this is heartbreaking. And my prayers go out to those families. I have such respect for the men, women and parents that take care of and watch their loved ones suffer with these types of diseases.

So I really mean no disrespect. But, I can’t help but feel that maybe we could use our social media influence and impact so many more for the greater good.

According to the facts on Water.org, 3.4 million people die each year from water-related illnesses. 

780 million people lack access to clean water.

Let me ask you this, did you worry about the cleanliness of the water you drank or bathed in this morning? I didn’t….

“An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.”  water.org

These statistics are staggering to me.

And I wonder what would happen if some famous celebrity or athlete were to tweet or hashtag a challenge that would bring awareness to the overwhelming crisis of poverty that exists in our world today?

Would it become an internet sensation like the #icebucketchallenge is?

Would people rally behind it? Imagine what $80 million dollars could do in helping bring clean water wells to impoverished communities.

Please hear me on this, I don’t have any problem with people who have done, or will do the #icebucketchallenge. If you believe in the cause and want to help raise awareness, then go for it.

My son did it, people in my church and my community have done the challenge. I was nominated by dear friends whom participated in the challenge and who I love and respect. And that is OK, I do not want to come off as though I have all the answers, because I don’t.

My biggest fear in writing this post is that someone may feel as though I am trying to say that the people who suffer with ALS are not worth this…that isn’t how I feel at all. I know the pain of loss firsthand, if I could have fixed things for Karlena I would have. I guess I would just love to see such an enormous social media movement like this happen that impacts the world.

Let’s use social media and end poverty.

Let’s tweet and raise awareness for the people that don’t have access to the internet, medical research and clean water.

Let’s create a hashtag, or a challenge that brings more awareness to the millions of people that are denied the very basic of needs to survive each day.

Be aware, be in prayer, and ask how you might make a difference…in all that you do!

Like I said, I don’t have all the answers. I know that tomorrow I will get up and take a 10 minute shower. Someone in my family will probably throw away food that they don’t want to finish. I will take for granted all of the lavish things that surround me and whine when my internet is down for 2 days.

Yep, I am a huge hypocrite.

I can blog about injustice and poverty, but until I do something about it, I am all talk and no action.

So this time, instead of doing the #icebucketchallenge and donating to the ALS foundation, I am going to seek to get involved with an organization that helps provide clean water wells. I haven’t had a chance to research all of the sites yet – so if you know of one that is good please let me know.

Until the day that all of poor are helped, our hungry are fed, our thirsty are given clean water and our sick are healed we must keep fighting. Entering the fight with you.

Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Photo Credit: Postmemes.com

Lessons Learned From Canning Tomatoes

Tomato crop

This was only half of the tomato crop that I got to deal with this past Saturday. About a week before that I had mentioned to Dominic that we really needed to get out and pick our tomatoes, so he did just that and then they sat on my kitchen counter mocking me for a week.

Did you know that tomatoes can mock?? They do, I have seen it first hand! ;)

I knew that if I didn’t do something with them on Saturday they would spoil. Initially I thought that I would make homemade spaghetti sauce and bought all of the ingredients at the store to do so, but when I got home our internet was down (and stayed down for 2 days!!) and searching  for a recipe on my phone proved difficult. And as a side note….what I could read on my phone was conflicting regarding the safety of canning spaghetti sauce because of the acidity levels etc….can anyone confirm/deny that?? I would still like to do it if it is safe!

Anyways, back to my afternoon. I started at about 1pm, getting everything set up so I could blanche and peel the tomatoes first. It proved to be a BIG job. BIG. I spent almost 4 hours doing that alone.

4 hours people. 4 hours.

Typically this is something that Dominic and I would do together, one of us doing the blanching part and the other doing the peeling. But after the crazy-busy week we had and Dominic on the road for 2 days, he had to be in the office getting work done so that we could deal with the week ahead.

And so I went at it alone.

Meanwhile my kids were acting a little crazy, and I was getting increasingly more tired and more irritated at how long this was taking.

Once the tomatoes were all dealt with it was time to cook everything down.

tomatoes boiling

This too takes time, and it wasn’t like I could just leave it and do other things. In this case a non-watched pot will boil over and scorch. So I was constantly there, watching and stiring.

Then comes the canning process itself. I do the hot jar, self seal method…because I don’t have a pressure cooker. So I make sure the tomatoes have boiled for a long time, then add them to the hot jars, as the jars cool they self seal!

Because I was working alone I could only do 2 jars at a time. I ended up with 36 quarts. Just the canning was time consuming!

By this point my kitchen was a mess. Half my sink loaded with the days dirty dishes, unable to be loaded into the dishwasher because I was using it for the jars. The kids were tired and crabby and a barking dog didn’t help my increasing stress level.

I.HAD.JUST.ABOUT.ENOUGH.

I could feel the grumble come on fast.

Why wasn’t he here helping me?

How could it be taking him so long at the office?

Why do I always get stuck doing these hard jobs?

And then I stopped in my tracks.

I KNEW what was happening. The enemy was on attack, and at my most tired, weakest moment I was giving in.

So what does one do in a moment like this?

I talked myself down off the ledge. Yep, I admit I was talking out loud to myself in the kitchen. Call me crazy, but saying truth out loud in that moment was exactly what I needed to be doing!

So I replaced the lies with the truth.

Dominic is working hard FOR US!

He would rather be here helping, he had even said that this morning, but he needed to get work done so that this coming week was half-way manageable.

The hard work was worth it and I would be grateful for all of it come this winter when I needed fresh tomatoes!

And at that moment my perspective changed. 

Yes it was almost 10pm. Yes I had been standing and working for almost 9 hours straight. But this was MY CHOICE! I wanted to plant the tomatoes. I wanted to do the canning. Regardless of how my situation turned out on Saturday, this was my choice and I was going to choose to be grateful for it.

And then I heard it.

Pop!

If you haven’t ever done canning, you may not know the sound. But it was beautiful to me at that moment.

And I shouted “Praise Jesus”!

Elijah happened to wander back in just at that moment and asked me what was going on. So I told him that I was praising God for every lid that sealed. That I was grateful my hard work was paying off, and God deserved the glory.

Pop…Praise Jesus!

Pop…Praise Jesus!

It went on for about an hour. The kitchen was all cleaned up at this point and I finally had a moment to rest. But with each Pop, I would Praise Jesus.

It is hard to be crabby when you are praising God! (<====Click to Tweet)

tomatoes finished

I don’t know what “job” you face this week. Maybe it is time at an office that is the last place you want to be. Maybe it is the throws of motherhood that has you worn and harried. Take some advice from someone who has learned these lessons the hard way…

Find the beauty in the small things and Praise Jesus. (<====Click to Tweet)

Why Your Words Matter

Journal 1

There are days lately where I wonder where this little ol’ blog of mine is going. I seem, at times, at a loss for words…or better maybe words that I feel mean something.

You see I struggle a bit with this little big monster called pride.

I have lots of ideas in my head, things I would like to write about but then if it doesn’t come out easy, or if life gets busy I don’t take time to put fingers to the keyboard. And so this space remains empty.

I feel like if I am not going to write something life changing and inspiring then maybe it isn’t worth it. Maybe my words don’t “matter” enough.

And then a few days ago I got an email from a friend and reader that gave me such a humbling perspective about why I continue to write my story. Yes she said some complimenting things, but even more than that she shared how some of my stories had made an impact on her.

Parts of my story that maybe I didn’t think were a “big deal”….but they were words that she needed at the moment when she read them. And I realized that is why I even started in this world of blogging in the first place.

Reading the words of another, finding strength when I didn’t have any. Being encouraged by the insights of a “stranger”, a stranger who felt like a comrade…someone who finally got how I was feeling.

And so isn’t that the very reason we should share our stories?!

Maybe there is one person out there needing to hear your story. Needing to find hope or peace or understanding from someone who has been there.

We should write for that one person.

Yep, I have a story. Some of it is ugly and frustrating and downright embarrassing. But other parts are lovely and humbling and redeeming. All because God worked in the dirty mess of my life to make it something beautiful.

We share our stories to give our Father the glory and offer hope. (<====Click to Tweet)

We write because our words CAN make a difference. And while they may not grace the pages of the Huffington Post online, or be shared by the thousands, they might just be the balm for a weary soul who finds rest in your space.

So if the words aren’t coming easy, if it feels like all this work is for naught, remember that your story is just that – Yours. And it is a story worth telling.

Only Because of Him,

Kristin

Strong Enough

Strength

Music is one of those things that really speaks to my soul. I hear and connect with a song on a deep level and during particularly difficult times in my life, music was the one thing that helped me feel close to God.

I stopped listening to “secular” music years ago for this reason. When I listen to “Christian” music I am reminded of truths, I sing out Bible verses and praise the God that has walked me through some of the darkest times of my life.

We were on a road trip to visit family for the day when “Strong Enough” by Matthew West came on the radio. It is a familiar song and at times I can miss the deeper meaning…but the words took on new life for me this time.

I know I’m not strong enough to be
everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
strong enough
strong enough
for the both of us

There are times that we are faced with hard decisions, tough parenting moments, job insecurity or financial difficulty and doors slamming shut in our dream chasing. I am sure that each person reading here has their own list, that thing that comes at you and brings you to your knees?

Well meaning people, myself included, often like to say that God won’t give us more than we can handle.

But hearing these song lyrics gave me a fresh perspective. There WILL be times that we are not strong enough. Times that we want to throw our hands up, throw in the towel, and walk away because it is just too much.

So what can we do in times like these? Just like the lyrics of the song, we need to cry out to God and ask Him to be strong enough for us.

I would love for you to join me over at God-sized Dreams to read the rest of this post!

 

Five Minute Friday – Begin

Forest

It has been awhile since I have joined up with the wild bunch of writers over at Lisa-Jo’s place for Five Minute Friday. A time when we sit and write for 5 minutes, unedited. Today is the last time we will meet with Lisa-Jo and Kate is now taking over the reins…I have been blessed by this FMF community and am so grateful that Lisa-Jo followed God’s plan in starting this link-up party so many years ago. Will you join us?

Today’s prompt is: BEGIN

I sit this morning not really sure where to begin.

It has been a tough few weeks, ones where I have had to examine parts of my life and my heart that at times seem so broken.

The hurts from our past never seem too far away, and while God has redeemed so many of the broken pieces of my life…there remains parts that still need some “fixing”.

And to be honest I wish it were different.

Doing the tough heart-work isn’t easy and I honestly wish that it were. I want to be able to change old behavior patterns with a simple prayer. My heart is in the right place, so it should be easy, don’t you think?

The task seems daunting, and I am not confident that  I can ever change. I feel stuck and the words, while swirling in my mind, don’t seem to want to come out appropriately.

How do we begin again?

And then I hear a whisper, His calming presence.

I don’t have to figure it all out right this moment.  I just have to be willing to begin to place one foot in front of the other and move forward. Praying, trusting, desiring to follow His will in each tentative step.

He will guide me, the refining will not come easily, but it will come.

But I have to take that first step and once again begin to place my everything, even the ugly parts of me, into His loving hands. My prayer is that some day I can glorify His workings once again here.

Trusting in that today…

 

5-minute-friday-1

Photo Credit: picturesofyou

Choosing NOT to Choose Joy

Choose Joy

Wow it feels like I haven’t settled in this space in quite awhile. I wrote my vacation posts, but I haven’t shared a heart post in way too long.

I specifically didn’t write while on vacation so that I could be more present with my family and once we got back it was all I could so to document everything we had done so that I didn’t forget. While I have notes of ideas for several posts, I just haven’t taken the time to write…and to be honest when I am stressed, well I start to get a little crazy-like, and that is where I found myself at the end of this week.

There are a number of things that “helped” get me to this place, some of which were a really pressured work week, VBS, where I got to help lead the actions and singing and it was the highlight of my days…but left me exhausted. (Seriously if I could JUST lead worship at VBS everyday for the rest of my life I would be a happy woman!) Tensions between Dominic and I. And our new puppy Sydney, who has been waking up at 4:30am the past 2 mornings so I have not been getting the sleep I need.

Did I mention we got a puppy? :) She is the most loving, adorable puppy and I will have to do a post just to introduce her! The perfect addition to our family!!

Anyways, I woke with a pounding headache this morning and found myself in a “mood.”

It was not pretty and I wasn’t doing anything to fight against it.

I had missed  not made my Bible study a priority this week, sleeping in (when pup allowed) instead of doing my study of Acts. I was pretty light on my morning prayer time too so I wasn’t seeking or staying connected to God.

What a hypocrite that I would lead children in knowing more about God at night, and then not apply those same principals to my own life during the day. Sheesh!

I knew that I wasn’t in a good place but for some reason I decided to stew in that place today.

I voxed a couple of dear friends, heart sisters, that pray for me and can take snarky, sassy Kristin and still love me. I shared that I realized I was choosing NOT to choose joy.

My attitude was awful and I didn’t care. I have so many things to be thankful for and yet I refused to acknowledge them.

Whenever I get in these ruts I recognize it (well most of the time). Sometimes faster than others…and today I knew it pretty early on, and yet I let my irritations, anger and frustrations fester and boil.

How old am I?

I am pathetic I know, but haven’t we all been there? (Oh please tell me that I am not the only one!?!)

We find ourselves in that dark place, unable or unwilling to seek out the positive. To find those reasons to be grateful. To Choose Joy. 

And it IS a choice.

I do not have to stay in that place of negativity.

But at times I can’t see the positive on my own. I have to reach out to others for prayer and encouragement. I am so grateful that I have some women who are so faithful in praying with me and for me. Women that listen to my whining, speak truth to me and remind me not to remain in that place too long.

Yes I almost let the enemy have my day today. Almost, but not completely. Thank God for that!

So tonight, even though my circumstances haven’t changed much, I am going to choose joy. (<====Click to Tweet)

I am still tired, feeling a little frustrated, and anxious about my week ahead. But I can focus on all the negative or I can remember all of the things that I have to be grateful for. And the abundance of blessings that God has poured on to us is unreal.

How can I not choose joy?!

These aren’t easy lessons for me to learn. Quite frankly there are days that I wish it were easier…that God didn’t want to refine me because I stink at going through the fires. But somehow he takes my bad attitude and failures and makes something good from them.

Tonight I am holding out hope that this area of my life will be made beautiful as well.

And I am praying that for you as well. Stay strong friends, the enemy is out there seeking to destroy our happiness…fight to keep your joy, seeking God in all of it and giving Him the glory when the battle is won!

Kristin

Photo Credit: Virginia L 

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