Monday, June 29, 2009

Not All Sand Sinks

Riddle me this. I owe $14,000 on a vehicle that is only worth $6,000 because $8,000 of debt from X's lease was put into this loan. With the market as is, there isn't a bank with money in it that will refinance it because it is so far upside down. I can't sell it because the loan holder will not release the title until it is paid in full. I can't let it be repossessed because I will still owe thousands of dollars for a vehicle I can't even drive. And I can't afford it. I put 1,000 miles a month on my vehicle for visitation trips alone. Between the payment, the gas and insurance, I spend almost $800 a month on my car. Not great when that's an entire paycheck. Super bad when I don't get child support.

Soooo... what's left? File bankruptcy? Immediately disqualified for Habitat For Humanity for 3 years. I don't know about you, but I can't seem to find any outrageously wealthy long lost uncles in my family tree.

I was talking with a friend at work today and she said, "you're gaining ground!" I immediately blurted out, yeah, but it's sandy ground. God is so good to me - the first thought after that - Normandy was a beach.

D-day of WWII started on sandy ground, on a beach. My favorite quote is, "Victory belongs to those who believe in it the most and believe in it the longest. We're gonna believe." I can't possibly see how, but God is going to help me take the beach. And once I get that under my feet, I'm going after the hill.

God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. (1 Kings 4:29)

Me too, God, me too,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm Amazed

I called X tonight. It was a brief, mostly one sided, conversation.
"I forgive you."

They were the hardest 3 words I've ever said.

God has brought forgiving X to me again and again in the last few weeks. I've been praying about it, because I knew I should, and I didn't want to. I didn't want to let it go, but the distance between right and happy are miles apart. I heard forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. I have wrestled with the understanding this choice may need to be made again and again.

The Bible says Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:12-15)

The thing about forgiveness is it is undeserved. Did we deserve it? No, but God gave it. What did Jesus say at the end? Forgive them Father, for they know not. I expected to call X with a decided forgiveness. In the end I called him and meant every word. We are called to forgive from the heart. (Matthew 18:35)

Satan has come after me with a vengeance this week. And this is why. Because he knows the choice to be kept in this pit is mine alone.

Did you know that when an elephant is sick, it is surrounded by the herd? They press in and hold the infirm one up. Because they know should it lay down, it surely means death. Thank you for pressing in, holding me up today. God did break the silence... he put a new song in my mouth.

You dance over me
While I am unaware
You sing all around
But I never hear the sound
Lord I'm amazed by you
Lord I'm amazed by you
Lord I'm amazed by you
How you love me.

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, rejoice over you with singing. (Zephania 3:17)

I am weary tonight. I am in the fire. But I will make it.

Please Press In,

By My Fingernails

I feel like Margaret when Judy Bloom wrote, "Are you there God? It's me..." Carolynn. I'm hanging on by my fingernails today. I know the Bible says when you've done all you can do - STAND. Does on my knees count? I can't believe I'm in His blindspot, but it feels like it. I'm looking for Him, seeking Him, but I can't hear Him. His silence is worse than the noise when my life exploded 6 months ago.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

All the Little Birdies Going Tweet Tweet Tweet

Recently my sister alerted me that it was 2009. And that I should get with it. So now, because she is fabulous, you can find me on Twitter. I'm FreeIndeed4. Do you twit tweet? Is there a cliffnotes? I'm new here. There. You know.

Rockin' and a Bopin',

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Pumpy

Five years ago when the doctor placed you on my chest I was changed. You were born with brown eyes, like mine, which is rare. When you looked at me, you looked into me, and I fell hopelessly in love with you. I pray never to recover.

All my life I will remember the first time I was alone with you. Your father had left, the nurses were busy and our hospital room was very quiet. I lifted you out of your bassinet, swaddled up tight, and brought you into my lap on the hospital bed. With more joy than Christmas, I unwrapped you, layer by layer, to see what I had felt for months.

I took you in for the longest time. How could something, someone, so perfect, come from this world? There we sat, with the sun setting behind us, and I began to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow to you, when you started making noise. But I knew better. I knew what the psalmist meant when he wrote, "from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise." (Psalm 8:2) We have sung to each other ever since, my son.

You are everything I hoped you would be, smart, caring, funny and more. You are fiercely loyal, determined and my word do you have spunk. I love the way you love your brother, pick on your sister and yet are her first protector if someone else does. I love that you always say, "got me" when I blow you kisses, that you can "read" How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight to me, because you've memorized it and that without fail you make "the face" at the dinner table at least once.

I love that faith is easy for you... A few short weeks ago we were listening to a recorded service from our church in Minnesota when Pastor Jeff gave the altar call, saying if you want to accept Jesus Christ as your savior, raise your hand. From the rear view mirror I watched as your little hand reach up from your car seat as high as it would go. You repeated the prayer of salvation word for word as the tears rolled down my face. Jesus said let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Matthew 19:14) I love that your faith has deepened my own.

When you were learning to speak I called you my pumpkin, you repeated it "my pumpy." I can hardly believe 5 years have come and gone, it seems you have always been with me. I remain grateful, in all the changes, sometimes nothing but Mama will do.

I don't know what I could have possibly done to deserve you, but the Bible tells me Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from Him. (Psalm 127:3) I pray that you grow into a strong, loving, Godly man and that someday you have the privilege of hearing your son say your words back to you, "I love you soooooo much, you are so special to me."

Happy Birthday Pumpy.


Monday, June 15, 2009

The Meeting

The Habitat For Humanity meeting tonight was great. Emotionally exhausting, but great. It's a fine line to walk, wanting something so badly, needing it, and being aware that the decision rests in the hands of someone else. I'm almost scared to hope... Almost.

So I'm, what do you call it? Visualizing. I can see the red door. I know that I'll hang flowers like these from my front porch. And of course, I can see us all swinging hammers. :)These are pictures I took at the Farmer's Market that is held downtown every Saturday. The flowers are so beautiful! My Pastor in Minnesota says he sees God everyday because he is looking for God. That one line is changing me. I am finding God meets me at my level of expectation. I want the blessings the Bible talks about, that chase me down and overtake me. So I'm looking for Him. Expecting to see Him move.

If we are selected, our home will begin construction in 2010, be ready by 2011. As unbelievable as the blessing would be... it is a long way off, we are far from home. I heard a song on the radio about being homesick for Heaven. I understood it for the first time tonight.

God, in His infinite humor wisdom, has a way of putting people in our paths. As I was talking with the speaker from HFH, after I cried the ugly cry, I found out he is the CEO. There's no accidents in the Kingdom. Why did God want him to hear my need?

I came home to 2 of my 3 children sick, a migraine and a 20 page application. Did I cry? YES. Am I holier than thou? Not even almost. I hurt, I struggle, I fail. But I'm going to get up tomorrow and seek Him, as I want Him to seek me. Thank you for your prayers, there are days they put my feet on the floor.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Will Work For Food

I met a man named Allan and his dog Ruby today. He is a disabled veteran and he is hungry. I caught a glimpse of him when I pulled into the grocery store parking lot. Truthfully, I saw his sign first, it looked a lot like this one.
I heard about a sign like this a long time ago, when I was growing up. It belonged to my Stepfather. I don't know that I'll ever understand how he could've used the sign for money at Christmas time when he had benefits. But I know there are things I don't know. And I know that God uses ALL things together for good. Maybe the one who truly received the blessing then, was the one who gave it.

So when I came out of the grocery store, I walked hand in hand with my 10 year old son to meet this man. We came with a loaf of bread, bologna, chips and bottled water. I asked his name, he is more than his sign, and my son said, "we will pray for you." Today I had the privilege to see my son store up treasure in heaven. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth he will certainly not lose his reward. (Matthew 10:42)

And yet I still left hurting. This man served our country and he is hungry. I left wishing I could have given him more, when I don't have more to give. He gave of himself for strangers and whether the need is true or untrue, he is asking us strangers to return the favor. I can't look away. I don't think I want that ache to disappear.

Lord Give Me Your Eyes,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Precious Metal

My Pastor in Minnesota gave one of the best altar calls of my life last fall. He shared the key to true freedom is Jesus, that through Him we can unlock the blessings God has in store for us... and proceeded to drop a bunch of shiny, uncut keys on the platform. We all went forward, picking up keys, praying together to leave the altar changed, to understand what is possible with Jesus, to keep our blank keys and work towards unlocking the blessings. I still have mine, and the three I picked out for my children.
Precious Metal.

My prayer? That our keys will fit a door like this.A little beat up, but not ashamed of it, no this door has character. This is the door to my house. Only... I don't have one... yet. But I have this key, and more importantly, I have faith. I'm attending a meeting on Monday night for the application process with Habitat for Humanity. If I am selected, after 350 hours of sweat equity and a lot of paperwork to arrange payment on the no interest loan, I will be given a key to my very own front door. Precious Metal.

Remember that one of the ways I fought us out of Minnesota was leaving without child support. I praise God for my parents who opened their hearts and home to us 6 months ago. I vividly remember what the door of the shelter looks like; without their generosity that's where we would be.

Do you remember the parable of the widow and the unjust judge? Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up. He said, "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:1-8)

I will be that woman. I will bother the Lord day and night, do my best to wear Him out with coming to His throne, begging for a home of my own. And the One who walks on streets of gold, on precious metal, will find faith here, and answer me. The Bible says one can put 1,000 (angels) to flight, two put 10,000. Please pray that we will find favor, be chosen, be blessed, be home.

Hammer in Hand,

***Update After The Meeting***

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Traveling Gospel Choir

What's in your cd player? Right now I'm listening to Daystar, it is the current soundtrack of my life. I swear I'm like Ally McBeal sometimes.

I'm increasingly aware that my children might not always listen to me, but they always imitate me. I can't dwell on what they've seen. But when you know better, you do better, right?

My sons (10 & 4) sing every single word of this song. We're like a little traveling gospel choir every morning, driving down the beltline. It is so much fun! Because who really wants to start the day with 30 minutes of don't touch him, quit looking at her, I can't hear the traffic report! Blech. Halleluja Anyhow!

One More Time,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Movin' On Up

One might say, "I literally repel technology." So show and tell today might not be news to you but I just discovered Google Books, where you can search and preview all kinds of books. (What did we do before Google??)

I found it by searching for a good way to tell you about my new favorite book, Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore. Everyone should read this book. Click here to see a Google Books preview of it; in the bottom left corner you can choose the chapters you want to read.

Ladies and gentlemen I do believe I've been pit dwelling. And I'm honest enough to say I jumped in with both feet. But. Today I'm movin' on up. Because even though I decorated the pit... it's a pit. And this child of God was not made for living in a hole.

I am grateful for the roadmap out of the pit. I confess, I feel like Dorothy when Glinda said, "...she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself." I've been hunting around the dirt floor of my pit for a flashlight. I've been (theoretically) moving my Bible around the whole time because I was busy searching for my flashlight. Yeah, let that sink in... and raise your hand if you can join the club.

I believe. Every day of the last 6 months I've believed. But faith without works is dead. (James 2:20) So what good does it do to believe God will rescue me, if I don't choose to quit standing in the mud? Beth says, it's God's job to lift me out, it's my job to hold on to Him for dear life. I'll take that road all the way out of the hole.

It's Movin' Day,

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sweeter than a Mil-won Dow-ars

When I changed my daughter's diaper after she got home from 4 days in Minnesota, she lost her mind. Crawling up the bed, kicking, screaming, crying, lost. her. mind. Every warning signal mothers come with went off at max volume. I got her calmed down and she passed out on me at 6:00 last night.

This morning when the clinic opened we were in line at her Doctors office. The nurse asked me what she needed to be seen for and I half choked out what happened while my daughter cried and said, "Mama my butt hurts" but she was patting her front. I have never seen the medical community move so fast in all my life.

PRAISE GOD, it turned out to be an infection because she had not been cleaned properly. I did not believe X touched her. But I didn't know who had access to her. All I knew was something was very wrong. And that I was not afraid of jail time.

Perspective is really something. Gone is feeling even almost sorry for myself. I can clearly see tonight, for the first time in a long time, how blessed I am, all over again. So life is not what I thought it would be. It's also not what I feared it would be.

It's been pretty quiet here at Willow Tree because I've been operating on a philosophy of my Grams, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." A couple of really smart women in my family are teaching me another one, "find something to be grateful for every day, and write it down."

Today I am grateful for my healthy daughter. She's cleaned up and on antibiotics, sleeping on me again tonight. When she finished her medicine today she said, "here Mama, wan' a mil-won dowars?" as she gave me her baby doll. NOTHING is sweeter than my healthy, untouched, baby doll. Not even a million dollars.

I Praise You Jesus.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Emptied Out

Eighteen months ago I called my mother asking, "how will I know when I'm done having babies?" She answered, "when you look around the room... and nobody is missing from your family." Tonight my heart is raw, but nevertheless I am done. My surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:30.

There's no right response, but here's a few of the wrong ones I've gotten.
Well sure, of course you are. No, I wasn't.
Oh? Good for you! (and moves on like the weather is more important) Really? Nothing about this feels good. Right, maybe, but not good.
Or worst of all if my face gives me away, I get the look back of but you're already a single mom of three. Yeah. I am.
Of course I have gotten the why rush it? You're only 30 and you're still a pretty girl. Oh! Well in that case. Ugh.

You know what? Even if Prince Charming himself showed up, I will never allow myself to get that close again. And over my dead body will I fight my children out twice. Not to mention, what if I let Prince Charming in and he gets hit by a bus? I know I can handle raising my 3 children on my own. I also know my limit is 3.

But. 18 months ago when I called my mother seeking answers did I see myself going in for surgery alone tomorrow? Shipping my babies off to X for a 4 day weekend so I could lay in bed and cry from pain and broken dreams? Hell no. In a rare turn of events, he hugged me tonight and told me he was praying for me. I can't tell you what that cost me. I wanted to shove him away and tell him I don't need you, like he doesn't need me because his new girlfriend fills the spot. But DAMN it, I did.