Monday, March 28, 2011

Obedience Vs. Willing Heart

Is there anything wrong with doing something out of obedience rather then a willing heart?

When The Ex and I left the last church we attended together, I started going to churches on Sunday in search of "home". Home didn't come (it would take about 2 1/2 years to find something I could call home). After a while I just kind of picked a church and attended it regularly because I knew that is what God would want me to do . Not because I wanted to go, but because I knew it was the right thing to do.

Once I moved out of the house, I switched between NCC and Vineyard North Phoenix. Both very good churches, I just never felt connected and struggled to stay connected through small groups or functions. At this point, I was really angry with God and really didn't want to go to church. But I continued to go. I hated going a lot. It was such a "hassle". I had to get Z ready often times and figure out what service would be best for us, or coordinate with my parents if she was going to go to church with them. I was tired of sitting by myself in service. Yet I continued to go.

Through out this time, I tithed on a regular basis. I wanted to support "my" church, but my heart wasn't happily/willingly giving. I just did it out of respect for God.

She Who Can Not Be Named, sometimes questioned me on this. Asking me why I can't just give happily with an open heart. God has given me EVERYTHING I could ever need or want. Why was I being so selfish. I don't even deserve Jesus' sacrifice. That alone should be enough.
Her comment to me has stuck with me and kind of put a damper into me doing things. Sometimes I have felt guilty for doing something even though I didn't want to.

S, my mentor, has always mentioned how important it is to stay in The Word even if your heart isn't in the right place. She points out that the enemy is sneeky and will get his hands on you easily especially if you are not regularly surrounding yourself with God.

Today T and I were serving. He asked me if we should take two cars so that I could get Z if I needed to. He didn't want me to feel obligated to stay just because he was there. This conversation sparked these same emotions from the conversation I had with SWCNBN. Why was I doing this? Because I really wanted to or because I wanted to support T?

Ultimately I really truly believe that God blesses those who serve, tithe and worship. Even if their hearts aren't always willing. There is so much scripture that talks about obeying God, serving him faithfully. Sometimes, when you're in a dark phase, that is all you can do to keep yourself connected to him.

My heart is really turning back into a "willing heart". I want it to be there. It's amazing what three years in a dark place can do. I'm so disappointed that I let myself to get there, that I didn't have faith in God, even though I always thought I did. I was blind but now I see. I'm ready for this new adventure and I am very excited. I realize that I depended too much on myself and not enough on Him. I'm working on this.
(Side note: "I'm working on this" seems to be the term of this season for me)

3 Things
1) I am thankful for an all forgiving God. 
2) I am thankful T going out on a limb and serving
3) I am thankful for my daughter. She's finally turning back into herself.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fixable I

The last few weeks I've had one thing pointed out to me over again.

I've always appreciated about myself that I was easily approachable and easy to talk to. While in NYC my old boss B and I were talking about an incident with a male and female co-worker that I witnessed. Ever since then I have not had warm fuzzy feelings about the female co-worker. Despite all my intentions and such, I guess I came off abrasive. Then, again, when I saw her this past week, I did the same. I asked B why she thought people (mainly girls) saw me that way and she said it's because I come across as if I know everything. As if I'm smarter then them.

The Ex has said many times that I talked down to him and made him feel stupid (I find that so hard to believe becasue 1) he's so dang smart he out logics me in ANYTHING and 2) he's one of the smartest people I know.)

T said that sometimes I talk like I know more then he does about something, regardless of if he does or doesnt. Example that was used was food. I get down on him for being so one tracked when it comes to food. He told me that although he likes specific foods, I don't realize that he's had wine tasting classes, knows how to cook etc. I just assume he's "uncultured".
He also told me I caught his room mate off guard with my attack on her about brocolli. Which I 100% was trying to be polite, I guess I was a bit pushy.

What sucks about these comments is I strive to be the opposite of that person. It's apparent that I am that person.  It's an area I struggle in. I know that I can be a B, but in general every day conversation I truely strive not to.
The good thing is that I have people around me who can point this out to me in a loving manner. The better thing is that I can accept that people view this way and want to change it. The wonderful thing is that I don't have to try to change this on my own. From today forward I'm going to try really hard to compose, present and verbalize myself with the honesty, compassion, humility and love.
This can be difficult because I have a very sharp tongue and a very short temper. I'm praying.

3 Things
1) I am thankful for peace in major desicions that were made.
2) I am thankful for all the patience people in my life give me.
3) I am thankful for God ALWAYS providing especially when I need it the most.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Selfish Struggle

Lately I've been struggling with where my financial status is and where it could be in the future. I have to admit, that with the salary I make now I am not happy at all. I know that I should just have faith in God and let it be what it is, but I am selfish. I want to be able to afford vacations, I want to afford putting my child(ren) into an amazing school, I want to be able to afford a house payment, I want to be able to afford shopping for clothes etc. All these are things that I don't NEED, I just want.

I struggle with the idea that one day I might marry someone who won't provide me with what I want. This is a struggle because I know it isn't right to be concerned with this. I know God will provide me with what I need and my hearts deepest desires. Not that He needs to prove Himself to me, I've already seen Him provide for me time and time again. I know I am just holding onto a lifestyle that was a phase and has passed. It was a phase that wasn't good for me either. It caused me to loose sight in Him, loose sight of my family and my true desires. Having a partner with money is not good for me.

There are moments of weakness when I covet what someone else has and just wish for that money so I could also have it. But, more and more, there have been moments when I look at that same thing moments or a days later and really feel like "my life is complete without it". It's a struggle. Something I am seeking God to change within me. Something that will slowly fade away because ultimately it does me no good to be greedy, rich, materialistic or to covet what someone else has.

I kind of had a melt down this past week. Contracts came out and once again, for the 4th year in a row, my salary has not increased. Not only has it not increased, but I also don't have a husband who makes a substantial amount of money. So, I'm raising a child on essentially "pennies". Not only did that freak me out, but other changes that are occurring within my friendship circle are kind of making me want to make the leap into something that pays more...ANYTHING. After talking to my friend R and then T about it, I've calmed down. I'm realizing and feeling within myself that minimalism is what I need right now.  Simplicity is going to be the key to my success in this phase of my life. I am accepting that and am ok with that. It's time "I practice what I preach" and live the life style I've claim is so amazing.

Right now, I have direction. I have a goal and I am taking steps to attain those goals. Will those goals lead to that brand new BMW I'm wishing to get? Probably not. Why? Because I am realizing more and more I have other priorities such as raising a family, serving God and paying off my debts. Regardless of where my income is in the next few years, I will always have struggles if those are not dealt with in the appropriate matter. In fact, my selfish struggles will only get worse if I choose to ignore them.

3 Things
1) Today I am thankful for a sister who can not only guide me but also forget my transgressions and have fun with me
2) Today I am thankful for the city that never sleeps
3) Today I am thankful for friends scattered here and there that make the same effort I make to maintain our friendships. 
4) Today I am thankful that I made church a priority even while on vacation. My heart and soul needed it. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


God's timing is PERFECT but always a little funny/awkward/hard to decipher.

After going what's essentially amounted to 5 years without a real passion/conviction/desire for God, I really think I've found it. Not only have I found that passion to PLEASE God, but it's also come with convictions.

Conviction is something I've never really experienced in my walk with God before. A lot of it has to do with the church I am going to. Redemption Church has a lot of relevant, real and convicting sermons. Right now we're going through the book of James. So far, every week I've attended, I've walked away feeling I need to do more or change the way I've been doing something.
Week 1: Certain aspects of my relationship with T
Week 2: Reconnecting with people in the church/bible studies/community service
Week 3: Sick, didn't go, but HEAVY burden to start tithing again
Week 4: Serving/Leadership.
 Not only am I having these convictions, but they aren't going away. There are emotions that are coming about because of these convictions.  I truly am desiring to change these things or get back into the flow of things.

Relationship. Although I was looking to date guys, it was definitely halfheartedly. Not only was it halfheartedly, but I NEVER thought anything long term/serious could come of any of the guys I had talked to or went on dates with. I was just "getting my toes wet". I had written my list of requirements, but all the guys I dated/picked were lacking in one crucial area (among other areas). A belief in God. Not just a belief, but the desire, yearning for a relationship with Him. The passion to serve Him and to lead a family. T really is amazing. He embodies and has the desire/potential to be those things that I need. I've learned that in ANY relationship I am in, God must be first.
Anyways, back on topic. It's funny/frightening that I have found a relationship I could be proud of. I'm noticing how awkward it is for everyone else, that T and I are actually dating, but it is what it is and I am not going to avoid this relationship because it makes people uncomfortable.

Schooling. Although I've said many times "I'd never go back to school", I had often time asked The Ex to let me go back. He always said no because it would be too much of a burden on him having to pick up the extra slack of taking care of Z. He just said that he'd work more hours to make up for the income I could potentially make. After we went our own ways, the first thought I had was "go back to school". I start in May. The end result will help me to achieve my dreams. The dreams I thought were only possible because of the income The Ex brought in. Now I'm seeing that the more I rely on God, the more this is going to fall into place and truly help me achieve that dream.

Dreams. I haven't had real dreams since my friend S went on his first tour of Iraq. That was when I first moved to NYC, so 2006. Since then, not only has my relationship with God discintigrated, but the gift he has given me has weekend.
I went to my dad's house this past week to have dinner. After my dad left, I had "women" talk with my step-mom (that's what she called it). Among many things we talked about, she brought this up. She told me she had been praying for me in this area, that God would bring it back and draw me closer. Its ironic because that whole week I had been having very vivid clear dreams and they haven't stopped since then. Nothing prophetic or ground breaking, but definitely poignant, honest, vivid and sometimes scary.

All of this is happening RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW my life is changing in the direction I have only drempt of/prayed for. I CAN NOT BELIEVE that all of this is coming together after such a dark and empty period in my life, not just spiritually, but clearly in my marriage as well. I have prayed for a spiritual leader for almost 8 years. I have wanted to go back to school for at least 4 years. I have dearly missed my dreams. And secretly unbeknownst to me, I've wanted conviction in my life.
It is perfect timing. I'm realizing more and more as I'm away from The Ex and in a relationship with T, that if I would have been given ANY of this, I would not have been ready for it. I would've failed at it. I know this is GIVEN to me and they are all precious gifts. I am prepared for the responsibility and ready to step up to the plate. I want all of this and I will honor God by trying to do it the right way, because He is the one who has given it to me and can also take it away at any point.