When All I Can See Is the Struggle

I think we are put here to learn lessons from the people we meet and the things we and others do.  (Oh, I really hope I’m teaching people good things and not bad ones!)  Life has to be about more than just going from one struggle to another.  I know it’s about sharing God’s grace and the changes He’s made in my life despite my hard head and prideful ways and lack of patience.  But, how do I get out of my own head and figure out where I’m called to be and what I can offer this world? 

I’ve always been one to run after whatever I want no matter the cost and then wonder why it all crumbles around my feet.  There were a lot of years that all I left behind me was destruction.  Everything I touched ended up smashed.  It’s only been recently that I have adopted the train of thought that I’m going to force myself to not be pushy.  The only person I can control is me (no matter how hard I try), so that is the best place to start.  If it is meant to be, it will be, and in God’s time, not mine.  Let me tell you, this has not been easy for me, but I’m making myself stick to it.  I’ve made several big changes since Christmas and they’ve not been as big of challenges as I thought they would and I know that’s only because God is blessing them.  Just like I can tell when I’m not making great decisions.  All of a sudden the whole world is working against me. 

image

What do you think?  Does God want us to struggle?  Meet the wrong people?  Get our hearts broken?  I can tell you I’m a different person than the one who started this journey.  But, does that mean that pain was the only way to get here?

Advertisements

How fast a year goes!

What a year this has been.  Not sure whether I’d call it good or not, but change we did have.  You have gotten to see all the seasons, two birthdays and even Christmas in Heaven.  I’m sure there is a good reason why we’ve been getting all this snow, you know?  I’ve had about enough, thank you.  🙂  We are still making it in this fallen world, but with one less bright and smiling face.  Never could I have imagined the things I would learn over the past year about you but also about myself through you. 
I’ve learned that you have touched 95% of this community!  That is the most amazing accomplishment for someone who was so young.  I want to be able to say that when my Father calls me home.  That I touched lives.  Lots of them.  Not just touched them, but made them better.  Countless people are better today just for knowing you and the wonderful person you were.  Anyone who needed something, you didn’t hesitate to make it happen.  Always watching out for your friends and making sure they didnt mess up too badly.  I know that seeing how selfless you were inspires me and others to try to honor you by being that way, as well. 

I’ve learned that missing you doesn’t get easier like I thought it would.  I’ve cried sitting at the cemetary, in my car listening to songs like “Cowboy Rides Away” & “See You When I See You”, in random places that I never thought I would have lost it.  This year has been a really hard one for me personally (I know I’m not alone!) and every day I want to call or text you and complain.  Is that all I ever did?  I hope not!  I still remember our last conversation, and the last time we hung out when you were making fun of me for finally gaining weight (albeit baby fat!).  I still cannot fathom you not being here.  You’ve been around for 13 years!  We’ve been through a lot and I was so happy we had gotten back to such a great place!  You reminded me that we should forgive others and forgive ourselves.  That is a hard one for me because I’ve always been my own best critic, but I’m working on it. 

You, with that mischievous grin with some little funny comment just waiting, taught me to laugh at myself again.  Everyone around you would be in stitches because you always had something smart to say.  I’m not good with wit, but I’ve got sarcasm down to a science! 

The most important lesson they I’ve learned from you is to listen and not to judge others.  Everyone came to you with their problems and you listened and helped as much as you could.  You never shared what people said and I think trust has a big effect on why you touched so many people.  I’m still working on listening more and talking less (I can hear you say, Imagine that!!!) & I’m sure it’ll be like that for the rest of my life. 

I am so honored to have gotten to know you and that you thought of me as a friend.  Thank you for being such an example us to emmulate.

Hold on! Be faithful!

The harder I fight to keep my faith and to learn more about God and how I can walk as close to Jesus’ path as I can, the more brutal the assault from the enemy gets.  The people closest to me are starting to get snappy with me over small things.  Bad things are happening to those I love.  I’m screaming and crying mad at my situation. 

When pushing through all the obstacles that he tries to put in my way, I still read my Bible almost every day.  Some days, I have to fight to go to church (again tonight) & some days I can’t even tell people whats going on because I will break down.  But then, I get the reward for fighting through and persevering another day and trying to make a difference in God’s name.  Like I am called to do.  The reward is like a message written just for me! 

Hold on!  Be faithful! 

Jesus was faithful to those who did not deserve it.  I am absolutely among the undeserving.  But, He says if I am faithful to Him, He will be faithful to me and will confess my name to His father.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hear Jesus say my name!  As exciting as hearing your children say your name for the first time is, it is no where close to hearing my SAVIOR say my name.  And to know that my name is written in His book of life would just be astonishing after everything I’ve already done in this life.  Not to mention however many more years I’ll continue to live in a place that is fallen and temptation is everywhere. 

Satan fights, but Jesus wins.

Last week was one for the record books! 

After my post about God’s grace, Satan was fighting so hard to keep me down.  The next morning, my truck wouldn’t start.  I called roadside assistance (side note: you can only use that four times in a year) & the guy came out with a jump box only to find out my battery was too dead for it to work.  I tried to jump it using a real battery-to-battery set up…nothing.  So, I called the best boss in the world and told her I wouldn’t be able to make it in.  First day I’ve had to not be at work unplanned since August.  I have to get a ride to the store (like I’m a teenager again!) and then sit at home all day, but I did get to cuddle with my sick baby.   Dad got home and couldn’t look at it because it was too cold.  So, another day without a vehicle.  Not that I would go any where on Friday.  Got to work on my nativity scene I’m painting though!  Proof that there is joy in every day.

On Friday, C had his tubes put in and seems to be doing much better!  Slept a lot, which means Mama did too.  🙂  One of my favorite things in this life! 

Saturday, S and I had Mommy-Daughter time, which is cool because we don’t get to do that much anymore.  She loves to skate. And is such a natural.  She will absolutely be better than me!  I can’t wait to see her doing flips and twirls on her own. 

This morning was when the real showdown began.  I didn’t set my alarm because I was sure the kids would wake up bright and early, which they did.  We got up and I was making breakfast and being sweet until I remembered about eastern standard time ending!   Immediately, I got into rush-rush-rush mode that I’ve been trying to stay out of.  The kids did well getting dressed quickly.   So, I go to put them in the truck and realize that the base of the car seat wasn’t buckled in from going to the store Thursday.  There is a ratchet strap that tightens to holds it in place.  The strap was too tight for me to be able just to buckle it.  The strap wouldn’t loosen, no matter how hard I beat or growled or cussed and fussed.  I finally had to go back in the house for a break from it and I start telling God, “All I want to do is to go to church!  Is that really that much to ask?  I just want to go and sing to you and learn something new.”  By the end of my rant, I was in tears!  When I went back out to fight with the seat belt some more, eventually, God loosened it up for me.  My mantra for the morning was, I just want to go to church.  I just want to go to church.  I JUST WANT TO GO TO CHURCH! 

Today, I got confirmation that God listens to every prayer we say, scream, mutter, cry or can’t even put into words (I’ve had lots of those too).  All you have to do is talk to Him.  He wants to hear what you have to say.  Tell Him thank you as things work out during the day (for example, the car in front of you slams on brakes and you miss them by an inch).  Pray about things as they come up through the day instead of trying to remember them all at night after a busy day. 

We are placed here in this world to make a difference!  We aren’t just supposed to sit around and tolerate sin or evil. We are supposed to DO SOMETHING to make this world better.  Pray for God to let you know who you can help and how.  What can you do to help your neighbors?  Or the kids that always get picked on in school?  What about the homeless, hungry, heartbroken and hard to love?  The way we make a difference is one person at a time.  Talk to them, share your faith and how God has changed your life.  Tell them no sin is too bad for us to receive forgiveness for.  That is the best thing you can do for the people in this world, so they can go with us into the next. 

Prayers for Tomorrow

My sweet, cuddle-monkey baby boy is going to have tubes put in his ears tomorrow.  I know Dr. Cross is the best ENT and he did a wonderful job on the older two, but I’m not expecting to get any sleep tonight.  He’s been hanging on to an ear infection since Christmas and I’m scared it’s going to affect his hearing, speech and walking if the fluid stays on his ears.  Then, his ear drum ruptured the other night, so that was more confirmation that the tubes needed to be done. 

Please pray for his quick healing and no reaction to meds.  Also pray for the doctors and nurses who will be watching over my love.  Oh, and my peace of mind… :/  

God’s Grace

I will be the first to tell you that I am failing miserably at this life.  Christian, mother, daughter, sister, friend…all of these things trip me up every single day.  I get so distracted by what I’m doing that I don’t stop and step back and look at the big picture.  While I’m focusing on

hurry up, I’m late, let’s go!

 

There is a lot more going on and I forget every day.  I am trying to remember to stop and appreciate the funny things my kids say, reading the Bible with them and hearing them tell me about what they are learning or thinking about.

(side note:  I started an email account for each of my children and send them funny pictures and notes and stories and things they said, milestones, etc and will give them the password when they turn 18.  It’s such a great idea. You should try it!) 

This go-getter world and the material things are only temporary.

  This world is crumbling around us and the only thing people can see are ways to disagree and ways to divide themselves from their neighbors.  Everyone has to have a label and then someone else has to tell them what they are doing wrong in their lives based on that label.  Let me tell you…there is enough sin in my life.  I have NO room to judge others.  What people don’t understand all the time is that the Bible is a book about love

Love God, love your neighbors and love yourself! 

If we stayed focused on those three statements, everything else would solve itself.  But, Satan’s job is to take down as many people as he can before Jesus comes back for us.  Our job is to stay strong in our faith and not let those things thrown in our paths keep us from getting to Heaven. 

Satan has put all these labels and arguments and wars in our face to distract us from the truth.  The truth is the ONLY way we will go to Heaven and meet God and Jesus (which by the way, is the part I’m most looking forward to), is if we follow Jesus and keep God’s word here on Earth.  Not some twisted version that someone uses for their own advantage, but the straight-from-His-mouth-to-our-ears version.  Not taking one sentence out of a 66 chapter book and downplaying everything else in that book.  If you are going to quote the book, you should make sure you know what the other 65 chapters say, as well. 

There are a lot of ideas about what Christians are today.  Some are right and some are wrong.  I know for me, I’m going to borrow the phrase of Lysa TerKeurst and say I’m a Jesus girl, trying to follow in His footsteps.  Never can I get close enough, but never giving up.  Because I know every single day without a shadow of a doubt that God will extend His grace to me and forgive me of my trespasses and helps me to forgive those who trespass against me.  As long as I have a repentant heart, God will forgive me.  Jesus will reach out for my hand no matter how low I feel and help me back to my feet.  He is perfect, but He was a friend to the sinner while He was here on Earth.  The same is true now.  No sin is too great to confess to Him and ask for grace and mercy because they will be freely given to you! 

Redeemed

Another way God encourages me is through music.  Usually, when I’m driving to work and get lost in my own head and keep going round and round and round the same topic, God will put a song on the radio that lets me know that I’m not in this alone and that He hears what I need, even when I don’t even know how to pray about it.

As you’ve probably already figured out, I’m new in my faith, so it’s hard for me to leave my past life behind me and remember that all those things have been forgiven and washed away.  I’m convinced God inspires artists to write songs like this to remind me of His grace.

“Redeemed”  by Big Daddy Weave

Seems like all I could see was the struggle

Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
‘Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, ’cause I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be
Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be
Jesus, I’m not who I used to be
‘Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed

There have been several times when I feel especially low that this song has brought me to tears because I so look forward to looking up and seeing the face of Jesus.  It is what gets me through the toughest of days.

God Made Me Different

I’ve been trying to stop focusing on hurry up, hurry up, hurry up and stop and enjoy my kids and their journey to find themselves.  Have I been late to work every single day since this adventure?  Yes.  Luckily, I have the best boss in the whole world!  🙂

One morning, B was beating the sand out of his shoes and telling me about all of the kids he had played with the day before on the playground in the sandbox.  Then he proceeds to tell me how he doesn’t like to sit still and sing, but that he likes to play and DO things. And how God made him different.  When I say,

How did He do that?

He says,

with His powers!

 

First thing that hits me is, he is so right!  He sits still only because he has to. He sings in choir and loves to play more than anything else (but he knows every word to the songs).  He’s gotten in trouble several times at school but just can’t keep his hands to himself.  

Second is, he talks about God like he knows Him and talks to Him on a regular basis.  I have been doing more about talking to God and talking about God more, but I know the only way he would say something like that (he isn’t even 4 yet) is if God were talking to me through him.  Telling me to be patient with him because he isn’t going to be like every other kid.  Also, I love how confident B is in himself that its ok to not be like every one else.  I hope he keeps that attitude throughout life. 

Stand Firm

So…here’s the first little ray of sunshine I’ll share with you. 

One weekend day, the kids are at the dining room table coloring (and often fighting over crayons or who touched what and who) and I’m in the kitchen about 15 feet away getting ready to fall apart and start crying hysterically.  And, out of nowhere, my kids start singing one of those Sunday school songs that they get stuck in their head and they sing it all day long.  What song is it?  “Stand Firm.”  Immediately, my heart jumped.  That was totally God seeing me melt down and using them to send me encouragement to be strong in my faith and that He is in control.  Is it easy knowing that I am going to have to be patient and wait on His time?  Absolutely not!  But, I can do it one day at a time.  

First thing’s first.

I’ve had this idea floating around for awhile and God finally gave me the nudge to go for it.   Focusing on the good things in this crazy life.  It’s going to be hard some days.  But, this is going to be my little way of letting God know that I see the good He’s working in my life and in the lives of the people around me.

A little about me?  My name is Crystal and I’m a single mom with three kids (ages 5, almost 4 & 8 months).    I work full-time job that I love and leave there and go home to my true loves.  S, my princess & oldest, is my loving and creative child.  B was my first boy and he makes me laugh more than anyone I know.  He is always saying something that’s a mixture of the truth and imagination.  And then C, my second boy, is my cuddle bug.  He’s a Mama’s boy, but he wants so bad to be independent and is following his big sister and brother’s lead, so I’m trying to make sure they are focused on Jesus.  That’s not easy for me, since I didn’t grow up in a family that went to church to I struggle figuring out what to say and how to say it so that they get the concept, but it’s not just coming from me, but from Jesus.

Some days when I’m sure I’m failing at this Mommy-thing that God has called me to do, He sends me messages through the kids.  One night, we were talking about people being children of Jesus and how God loves all of His children.  They then tell me that everyone is a child of God and He loves every person on earth.  So, that is my confirmation that I must be doing something right.

Many days, the only way I can keep persevering like I am supposed to, is by finding the positive in the middle of all the negative.  I’m hoping this will help us all to shift our focus.