Hurdle’s I am learning to jump

I have been in Montana for a little over 2 weeks now! Some days I can’t believe its been that long and other moments it feels like so much longer. 

It is such a mix of all kinds of different things here and some all too familiar emotions if that makes any sense at all.

The women do a thing called Truth and Reality when they are doing outreaches. It is an awesome perspective of what we see our reality is and then God’s word shows them what truth is in their lives.

I have spent the last 6 years dealing with a lot of emotional things from my marriage and even lies I believed growing up. In my mind I was doing great at this healing process and have come leaps & bounds from where I used to be. However this change has helped me to see some major things in my life that I have viewed as reality but God is longing to shed his truth on certain areas of my life. This is a difficult process as I don’t know or really trust anyone here yet but have shared more with them than most of my closest friends.

I came here desiring transparency with the women however I didn’t know how hard that was going to be for me. In my mind if I was willing to share with them all the dirty trash from my past that was being transparent and good enough. Even to the extent of sharing with them my struggles with quitting smoking the day that I left to come out here. That is all good starts but I am seeing that God wants me to go deeper than that. I have never really gone deeper with to many people because I have such an issue with abandonment. I fear that if people know ALL of me that they won’t like what they see, they won’t want to help me through, and they will leave before I am able to blossom into the beautiful person I know God made me to be.

An example of my reality is that quitting smoking has always been such a fearful thing for me because people in my life haven’t been able to deal with the person that comes out during the quitting process. The anxious, short tempered, person whose senses are placed on high-alert taut with the stress of withdrawal while her brain screams in the background, JUST ONE MORE! Yet she knows that just one more is never enough. The person who has so strives to be in control of her emotions and feelings because they might make the people around her uncomfortable and ultimately leave her.

In 2005 I dated a guy that absolutely hated smoking! He would make comments and say that he wouldn’t kiss me until I quit smoking. So in an attempt I got the nicotine patches. It was horrible! I remember struggling from the first day with all kinds of emotions and feeling like I was on a roller coaster that was out of control and going towards a dead end track that was missing pieces! I voiced my frustrations and hurts with him about how hard this was for me. At first he would try being an encouragement and tell me that I could do it. The patch started hurting my arm and I was having horrible side effects. I called an “ask a nurse” hotline and they suggested that I put it on a larger part of my body like my upper leg or butt. I tried this for a day or so and it still was not helping at all. I remember my boyfriend yelling at me to rip the patch off and lets go.. I asked him where we are going and he said to get you a pack of cigarettes!! I questioned why and he said that I was a bitch and he couldn’t stand to be around me any more so he would learn to deal with the cigarettes but not deal with the me that was off of them.  

About a week into being here I bought a pack of cigarettes for several reasons. One was that I had been told that I would not be getting paid for my time here until February, the second reason was out of rebellion and lastly it was out of fear of all the emotions that were rising up in me because of all of the above things. I remember the struggle and gut wrenching feels as I fought with myself about even buying the pack of cigarettes. I literally made myself sick with this fight however the sad thing was that I never cried out to God during this internal battle. I knew that He never lets go of me, that He loves me beyond what I could ever imagine and that if I just cried out to him in this battle that He would win the battle for me! I again was taking the reins of my battle and telling Him that I could do this on my own. And the other part of me didn’t want release from the smoking but to continue with the thing that was my comfort for far to long.

So for a week I smoked periodically whenever I could get away from the center or the watchful eyes and instinctive noses of the women. Each time that I would run away to smoke a cigarette a conviction of what I was doing was trying to check my spirit.

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that you will go to hell if you smoke. God loves you just the same whether you smoke or not. However for this time in my life I submitted myself to an internship where the rule is no drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

I did make known to the director my struggle with smoking so they were aware of this before I arrived however I couldn’t use that as an excuse for why I was continuing to smoke. I noticed as I continued to rebel in this that I was starting to close myself off from others and God because I didn’t want to be found out. I didn’t want to admit my struggle and have it taken away from me.

God gently reminded me though that He was still where I had left Him and wanted to help me through this. This last Thursday was my day off and I knew I needed to get away from the center but my only thought was I will be able to smoke the last 3 cigarettes that I had hid in my purse. As I went to Barnes and Noble to get away I stood outside of the car, my first puff off of the cigarette tasted so sweet, as I inhaled it calmed my brain that was going a million miles an hour but as I continued I realized it was a heavy weighted fog that my brain was going in and it didn’t feel as good as it used to.

What was happening to me?

Why was this not as enjoyable as before?

As I finished my body felt so weighed down, my feet felt like they were tripping on every little pebble in my path as I walked into B&N. For the first time in my life I realized this wasn’t a fun feeling and though I had viewed it as a way to calm myself it now felt like a million chains around my neck, arms and body dragging me down. As the effects started to wear off, I got some caffeine in me and worked on somethings online. When I got ready to leave I could feel the longings start for another cigarette and figured maybe it was just that the first one was my first in a couple days and that was why it had affected me so. As I walked out to the car and stood beside it I contemplated lighting the cigarette. The smoke won and I lit up, enjoying that first inhale slowly, smoothly anticipating the calm that would rush over me. It did come but at the price of guilt in the pit of my stomach.

As I finished the cigarette and got in the car I knew I would have to cover the remnants of the smell with tons of perfume as I was stopping at the thrift store the girls were working at to get some things. As I entered the store the women greeted me with a warm welcome. As they gave me hugs they commented on how good I smelled. I didn’t want to think that they could possibly be talking about the remains of the cigarette lingering on me but instead told them it was this new perfume I had found at Wal-Mart. As my rebellious act was growing more and more tiresome with each omission of truth I was struggling with it all.

I knew God was sweetly and gently calling me to walk in the light and truth however I had one cigarette left and still a couple errands I wanted to run. I also knew I did not want to buy anymore cigarettes. If I did that my cycle would continue and it would make it easier each time to listen to the cravings instead of God’s spirit in me. As I smoked the last cigarette and thought of the women at the house who had given up so much to come here and make a life change. They had given up alcohol, weed, meth, coke and even heroine! Though I have heard that nicotine is just as hard to kick as heroine I didn’t want that to be an excuse for me to continue to smoke. I want be a help to each women and not a hindrance to their success.

When I got home, all the women were just finishing up with their devotion and worship time. I asked them if I could talk with them. As tears streamed down my face I confessed to smoking that last week and struggling with the heart issues of rebellion. I asked for their forgiveness and grace in understanding my weakness in this area but my desire to be open and honest with them in my struggles. They were so gracious and willing to show me love and acceptance. Each women gave me a hug and told me how proud they were that I was willing to be transparent with them in my struggle.

The next couple days has been even harder than the initial telling them about my struggle. As my body becomes more aware of its environment the feeling of it all intensifies and scares me more than anything I have felt my whole life! Just the sound of someone coming down the hall makes my teeth grit in frustration… It really is bad as there is no padding under the carpet and the women do not know how to walk quietly at all! It was even worse on Saturday and Sunday! I have learned already that there is no sleeping in or peace and quiet in this house. Which is very hard for me! As long as I can remember I have yearned for moments of calm and quiet reflection. My mom used to never understand when I would say I just need me time that this wasn’t a selfish desire but a much needed time that God has set up for us all. Some of us are just more aware of how much we really do need this time.

I think that is why I liked smoking so much. It started out as a social thing that my friends were doing but then it became a time and place where I could have a moment that was just mine. I quiet moment in the chaos of work or a moment of peace after a meal with family where I could slip away. It became a moment when I knew I could re-center myself and have a moment of peace.

So as my body reacted this weekend to all that was coming at it with 18 women living in one place my anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed intensified times a million! Also my fear of saying something that I would regret, responding to the withdrawal with anger and ultimately someone rejecting me and my issues kept me a prisoner in my room. I knew that if I attempted to quit before I came here it would be even harder because I would have taken those emotions, thoughts and feelings out on my mom because she has always been there for me. I didn’t want to hurt her with any more junk. My mom has always been there for me and loved me unconditionally though so I convinced myself it would be better if I quit cold turkey the day that I got here. I would put on the mask of happiness, acceptance and understanding here because I was dealing with people that didn’t know me. If they just saw my pretty mask that I portrayed then they wouldn’t abandon the person that was really struggling each moment with the desire to not step outside for a smoke. Yes each and every person here is dealing with different issues and habits but it almost becomes intolerable when I think that my struggle shouldn’t be something that they help me through. Or that they will think that I am weak for not being able to beat this habit that has been so much to me.

I grew up in a family where my aunts and grandmother would sit and talk about what the aunt that wasn’t present was doing to mess up her life. It was such a twist and turn of gossip! I knew from a young age that you can’t trust family because they will just sit and gossip about you when you weren’t present so how could I trust anyone else with my deepest trials and struggles. The devil has kept me paralyzed with this and I have only let certain people come just far enough in my life that was comfortable. These women know more of my past than some of my really good friends! Yet in that I only am letting them so far because I have seen that they talk amongst themselves and I am not ready for that. I am not ready to be hurt more than I already do.

I know this is a process but sometimes I wish I was 6 months in already! It is hard for me to remain in the moment and learn what I need to.  However my fellow intern reminded me today that it is one day at a time on how we learn these important life lessons and if we skipped ahead we would miss out on the day to day lessons that are so important.

So despite the pain each day will most likely bring, I pray that I will not turn the pain off, or fear it. I pray that I will learn to walk in it, to feel it completely, learn what I need to from it and through it all give it all to God! I know that when I do that He will be faithful to take the pain and replace it with a joy and peace that is beyond anything I could ask or imagine! 

When you come back by JJ Heller

 

Martyrs and Thieves by Jennifer Knapp

Am I afraid of….. Success???

As my new friend said this statement I laughed out loud! Why would anyone be afraid of succeeding??

Yet I look at my life and see all of the things I left undone… the jobs I left because I got bored with them. The relationships I left along the way because they were just too hard to salvage.

Could I really be afraid of something actually going right in my life?

As I am setting out on this new endeavor of being an intern for a year with Teen Challenge it has brought many things to light for me already! The warm welcome I received was amazing! They had been working with just one live-in intern and since she had been sick off and on for the last month many of the other staff were having to pitch in and help. They say I was a God-send. And though I believe that is true based on how quickly God brought about the possibility for me to even come out here. It is still a hard thing to grasp!

In my head I know that I am a hard worker, that I catch on quickly, that I am an asset and that I have some amazing ideas to help benefit this ministry. Yet in my heart I am realizing that I am still living in the abandoned, unworthy lie that the devil has feed me for far to long! It is a hard mindset to free yourself from! Many times in my life I wouldn’t do certain things because I thought it would be a guaranteed fail. Yet others see the things that I have done, such as go to India and volunteer at an orphanage for 6 months or go 2195 miles to Missoula, Montana to intern as amazing endeavors! One would think that I would have shy-ed away from such things because of that fear of failure…

Or better yet.. the fear of Success!

The only answer I can come up with is that I didn’t shy away from the above things because it was all about God working it out in my life. When I give Him total and absolute control then He is free to take me places that I would not ordinarily pick for myself. Then reality hits once I get to these places and instead of continuing my trust in God and letting His plan unfold I slowly start taking control back of little areas and that leads to doing things in my own strength.  When this happens I start looking at all of the ideas that I have for Teen Challenge and it overwhelms me!

I don’t want to step on any toes or suggest things that have already been tried so it is hard stepping into an organization that has been around for many years. They are in a transition of going from a works based program to more of one that focuses on the heart issues, processing through the heart issue and showing love, grace and mercy helping each women through this time in her life. This really is the best time to be called here since there are many new things coming together.

I am an imperfect perfectionist as my “about me” states. I desire perfection in all that I do but 99.9% of the time I do not attain my own desire of perfection. I am way harder on myself that anyone else could even imagine! I desire to do things great and when I feel that I can’t or won’t be able to do it 100% then I find myself pulling back or basically “failing” before I actually fail.

Does this make any sense at all?!

When I was in junior high, I was became more and more overweight. Due to lots of health problems I was constantly sick and always gaining weight. Boys in school could be so cruel! So could the girls! My way of coping was to make fun of myself before they did so it wouldn’t hurt so bad. If I said it first then anything they said wouldn’t hurt me… dysfunctional thinking I know. In my child- like state of mind if I put myself down before them then it wouldn’t hurt quite as bad. If I degraded myself for not being able to do something in gym class then it wouldn’t hurt as bad when the skinny girls made snide comments.   As you grow up you don’t realize how much that affects the adult you until you run smack into the wall of self-examination.

God brings to light these things so that I might heal. He doesn’t want to leave me there festering in the past hurts that I didn’t even know still existed. The thing that I know is that those people who were mean when I was growing up don’t think about what they did or said to me when we were growing up. They aren’t holding on to it and its not affecting their lives. So why should I continue to let it affect mine?

I have so many awesome ideas for this next year and possibly longer! I don’t want to live this year in fear of succeeding! I want it to be an amazing year where God uses my talents and gifts that he has built into me when He knit me in my mother’s womb. I want to be a willing vessel to learn how to live a life to the fullest! To not look back at the past with pain and a grimace but with a thankful heart that knows much love, grace and forgiveness!

The ladies and I were watching this movie the other day and it so spoke to me on several levels…

In the movie Sandra Bullock was the high school prom queen and probably made some of the girls lives hell… in one scene she is looking for a job at an agency and the person she is asking for help had been a big girl in high school. Her nickname had been “Polka Dot”… nicknames can be so cruel! She still held the animosity and hurt from way back then. It gave her pleasure to see Sandra’s character squirm and have to beg for a job. Though I have wondered what it would be like getting “revenge” like that I know that I don’t want to be that kind of person. I want to let it go now so that I am free to live.

The other thing that touched home was the feelings that Sandra’s character was feeling as her husband had been cheating on her and left her for another women. The feelings and emotions that a person goes through when that happens is so great! Her world went from being great to having to go home to her momma and mourn the lose of her dream family. But she is strong and she does it, becoming a better person through it all, more compassionate to others and she learns to love again!

There were so many awesome parallels to this movie and my life! I want to become healthy and whole! I don’t want to be afraid of succeeding and I definitely don’t want to be afraid to love again!

Hope Floats 

Almost a week in Missoula, MT!

Missoula

Beautiful mountain view from my backyard!

My new home!

I arrived in Missoula, MT after a very only day traveling on Saturday.

It is so beautiful here and out of all the places I have lived this feels like home the most. Its a weird feeling since I haven’t felt at home for a very long time. I’m still not a huge fan of the snow however Missoula makes it look beautiful and therefore bearable! =)

I moved out here not really knowing much about what I was getting into but God is so amazing in working out all the details of a life that has fully surrendered to Him. I came out here with just 2 suitcases, a carry on and my laptop! In less than a week He has blessed me with more than I could have asked for or imagined! I have a nice room in a beautiful home! My own bathroom! YAY!! And the freedom to make it mine!

I have had the privilage of getting to know the women that are going through the drug and alcohol program that I am interning with and they are amazing! God is doing such a work with this ministry and I am excited to be a part of it!

I had the opportunity to share my testimony with the women last night and their wasn’t a dry eye in the house. When they heard from the staff that I had never been through the program they had their doubts about me and whether I could relate to the things that they were going through. After last night not one of them has any worry that I don’t understand where they are at.

Im going into this opportunity knowing that I can not change the world or even them for that matter. Change has to be something that each person wants for themselves. God has shown me that I am here to love each and every women in the program, I am here to be there biggest cheerleader and to shine God’s grace every day!

I am ecstatic that I get to help out with the thrift store that the girls work at and hope to be able to also impliment many other great ideas that God has put in my mind. I want to get a volunteer opportunity program going for each women to give back in whatever way they are gifted. Its when a person is giving that they don’t have time to dwell on the negatives of their lives but to see what a blessing they can truly be to others. I also have several of the girls that love all things art like me and am super excited to be able to start doing projects with them! I am hoping and praying that we will be able to get some canvases so they can start channeling things artistically. Pinterest is a God send and the women love getting ideas for projects they would like to try!

I can’t wait to see this year unfold and am trying to be disciplined in documenting as much of it as I can because it will be gone before I know it and I want to remember as much of it as I can!

Stay tuned for more amazing updates!

God bless!!

My new home!

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I arrived yesterday evening to my new home for the next year! The women greeted me fondly by accidentally scaring me upon arriving at the house on hopes they were retaliating against the lady that picked me up from the airport. Instead I opened the door and had the pleasure of meeting two of our women. =)

They apologized and felt so bad but I told them not to worry! I don’t get mad… I get even! Haha! They are a little worried! =)

But seriously all of the women have been so sweet and welcoming! They tell me that I am a huge answer to prayer and all I can do is look to God to be my strength. I want Him to use me for each and every moment.

It has been an emotional roller coaster with all things new and so many faces to try and remember. My initial response is to withdrawal however I woke up this morning in time to go to breakfast, church and spent some time throughout the day with the women. It’s only through God’s strength that I have been able to do that today!

And through a chance happening after one cigarette yesterday morning before we left for the airport and God’s hand in me leaving them sitting on my dresser in Batavia, I am doing surprisingly well! I did just have to remove myself from sitting next to a girl who was chomping her gum while we were watching a movie… But I didn’t pummel her like I was beginning to want to. Instead when in my power I will remove myself from the thing that irritates me until I am strong enough to have it not be a button to push. I have had moments where I thought of how much I wanted a cigarette however each time I prayed for the desire and thoughts to be taken away. Sometimes it took a few minutes for the cravings to go but they did eventually subside. The women are aware that I quit yesterday to come here so I think they have a respect and understanding that I am right where they were when they started here! It may not be cocaine but I have heard and felt that cigarettes can be as addictive if not more addictive than cocaine and just as hard to stop. I don’t say quit because I am anything but not a quitter! I have been through to much in my life to ever have that word attached to me!

Stay tuned for more as time goes on! 🙂

God bless!

Do not worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

Many times in my life I have needlessly worried about the above things. I have thought that God wasn’t interested in my every day life enough to provide for my every needs. A dear friends close friend prayed for me yesterday and in her prayer God spoke through her to tell me to remember that He is in EVERYTHING! He loves details!

God could have easily just made a world for us to live on that had plain basic food for us to live on, a light source that was just enough for us to survive and had a plan that didn’t include saving us from ourselves.

But he didn’t do any of those things!

He made a world that we could enjoy, snow in the winter that we could play in, fields of wild flowers that we could run through and beautiful autumn leaves that we could marvel at! He made stars in the skies at night making them not only with a purpose but also making them beautiful so that his creation could stand in awe of their beauty! He gave us such a variety of food that each person could use and make things according to their own taste.

And best of all He made a plan for us when we stumble and fall. He doesn’t want to leave us where we are at but has a deep desire to see us draw near to Him, fall deeply in love with the creator of the universe and become sons and daughters of the most high through adoption.

If He has taken care of all of these details that we can not even begin to fathom. That science has yet to discover. Then wouldn’t it be even more awesome for our minds to wrap around the fact that He has every detail of our life in the palm of His hand if we give Him the control He so yearns to have in our lives.

Like I have stated in previous posts, God is a gentleman. He will not take control over someone that doesn’t want Him. He is not like men of earth that use their power and control to manipulate and use others for his own gain. He will not take your weaknesses and use them against you! Instead He desires to make your weaknesses stronger through His presence and Spirit in your life.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,

 I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Revelation 3:20

As a women who has never really had great role models of men, this it is a new concept for me. It is a constant struggle to consciously remind myself that God has my best in mind and that I don’t have to be fearful of what that best may be. His best is not anything compared to what man’s view may be for your best. Its not a controlling, manipulative “best” that doesn’t think of your feelings, well being, or emotions.

I am so thankful that God is teaching me this! As I step out in faith to move 2,195 miles away from “home” I am learning to trust Him for every detail of this new adventure!

As people started asking me questions about my new adventure, I realized how much I didn’t know about the details of what I would be doing day to day, down to the details of what my room would be like. The “old” me would have had to know all of these details so I could stress about them and how I would adapt to this new environment. Yet, I have found that I haven’t necessarily pursued finding out these details because I am trying to learn to leave the details up to God. I am learning that He will prepare and give me what I need to get through each day if I am continuing to look to Him each and every day.

We can’t say to God.. “Ok deal with the details!” And then sit back lazily and expect it to all unfold! BUT… we do have to daily remind ourselves that the details are His, ask Him to use you that day in whatever way He sees fit and then go on the adventure of walking out each step and have the faith that He will direct each step! Notice the word “step” is an action word while “sit” is a stationary word.

I have fallen prey to this misgiving as I know many others have. I wanted to be patient, sit and wait for God’s plan for my life to unfold but God wants us to be doing His will daily, learning to be faithful in the little things (steps) while He is preparing us for the big picture of our life!

If we first SIT in His presence then we will be able to effectively STEP out in faith!

I am so excited that God  is willing to use me and I pray that I will continue to first sit in His presence and then walk out what I can be confident He wants me to do each and every day!

Focus on each and every day! Because…

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Happy New Year!

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I have so many things to be thankful for and have a feeling of being blessed! It may not be things that the world would understand or feel blessed about but I know that there is a God out there that loves me, provides for me and has pursued me with an everlasting gentleness! I hope this next year will be filled with many more happy memories! I also pray that God will show you this same love that He has for you! It can be yours as a free gift if you will only ask Him. Lots of Love! 🙂