Author Archive for keeleyritter – Page 2

Clean out your ears.

Go clean out your ears. How many times did you hear your mom or dad tell you that? I know I have to lovingly remind our older children rather frequently to go grab a q-tip so we can clean out theirs. And other times, in frustration of them responding to my question (which I KNOW they heard) with a quiet response of, “what’d you say mom?” or “huh?”…I will say in probably not as quite the most loving way…”GO clean out your ears.” Even though I know it isn’t their build-up of earwax that is preventing them from hearing me, it just seems like the natural response—and probably better than other things I could say. So now I know what you’re thinking….really Keeley, a blog post about earwax buildup and an apparent rant of your children’s obvious attempts at completely ignoring you?! Which might I also add, I think is a fairly common mom woe. Right?? Please tell me I’m not alone in this battle! “Huh?” “What Mom?” *blank stares* —- oh boy, if I had a nickel for every time I had one of those responses to my questions. *OK, rant over. Anyway, now for what this blog post is actually about…something that hit me square between the eyes this morning as I’m still amidst a bit of muck if you will. Something that needed to hit me because it’s critical to get us through difficult times. And that is a seemingly simple question. What are you choosing to listen to? In other words…what are you hearing?

We have two very clear things in this world we can believe. Either lies. Lies that come straight from the pit of hell. Or truth. Truth that comes from the most amazing, loving, gentle and merciful high King. There is nothing in between. As complicated as we try to make things…it’s really quite simple. Remember how my last blog post mentioned a roller coaster. Ok, well, I’m still on it but it’s starting to become less neck breaking and more gentle and gradual. Not because the circumstances or things that have happened are different or changed…but because I am purposing to listen only to truth. This morning God took a q-tip and began cleaning my ears. ūüôā How’s that for imagery? Yes, He loves us that much that he would even clean our ears. He knew just what I needed to hear. Today he used two different people to tell me the same thing. The first being the gentle voice of my husband, leaning over our bed telling me good-bye for the day. “I love you Keeley. I am so thankful to have you……….I treasure you!” <*insert one of those child like blank stares right about now and also the plausible thought of ‘huh?’, did I really just hear that correctly*> Simple words of truth…yet due to the lies that have swirled around in my head for so long my mind instantly thinks, nah, you aren’t a treasure. Look at your past. Look at where you’ve been. How can someone treasure YOU?! ¬†I didn’t catch it right that second because, well, let’s just say my ears have some buildup. So God tried again. This time through the voice of someone who also¬†cares deeply for me and speaks giant sized portions of God’s truth into my life RIGHT when I need it most…”Keeley, you are a lovely gift.” BAM. It hit me. I finally heard it. Truth. OK God, I hear you. I was instantly taken back to what Justin said to me a couple of hours prior…”I treasure you”… “you are a lovely gift”…I recognized a theme here. My mind proceeded to have¬†this little internal battle then I realized I was complicating it. No, I don’t deserve this kind of love all of the time, because let’s face it—none of us are perfect, squishy, lovable teddy bears ALL¬†of the time. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that when Justin says that, he means it—because that’s just what he does……it’s as if¬†he set’s himself on purpose to love me. No matter what has happened, no matter what will happen and no matter what……’I still love you’ he always says.¬†Honestly, I used to cringe when I heard him say that for some reason…”I STILL love you”…because I heard negative in it. I heard lies. Now, on the blank space that hangs above our headboard, I want to make a sign that says just that in big capital letters: I STILL LOVE YOU. Because I love the truth in it. I love that when I hear Justin say this to me now, I am reminded of how¬†God is speaking to me in it…….’don’t dwell on the lies, Keeley. Deserving or not, I STILL love you. There is nothing you have done or places you have gone that can change this fact. No matter what.’

NOW, as peachy and beautiful as that sounds……I want to tell you something else. This process of being remodeled, restored, renewed—-it hasn’t been so pretty. There have been days lately that it is the greatest struggle for me to get out of bed¬†in the morning. I’m not kidding. The last time I felt this way was when I had just admitted to Justin how truly deep¬†my addiction was and I that I needed help. I call them trenches. For me, they’re not¬†pretty, but I’m realizing they’ve been pretty necessary. Because they’ve allowed me to see incredible nuggets of truth…about me, about others and most of all, about Jesus. They’ve helped teach¬†me to listen—for the truth. But it is also when I am in these trenches I have to live life on purpose if you will. I have to purpose to listen. Purpose¬†to love. This time, I had to purpose just¬†to get out of bed—every. blasted. day. Because deep down, I knew if I stayed there, the lies that were replaying in my head and the subtle deceit of the enemy would define me. I purposed to read God’s word. Whether I felt like it or not. I purposed to go to the gym. And Lord knows I didn’t feel like doing that most days.¬†After making the mistake of trying to relieve my pain in unhealthy ways, I purposed to confess that to others and do differently next time. I purposed to call someone when I felt as though the pain of feeling some of my life experiences that I never had allowed myself to feel was too much. I purposed to be here for my children. I purposed to lift my hands in praise¬†even when my mouth couldn’t sing because I am overwhelmed with tears, because by golly, I can still lift my hands. Do you see what I’m getting at?? In order to hear God speaking sometimes…you have to live on purpose. Otherwise our minds get full of garbage and just plain cluttered. Our ears get full of buildup. Literally…and before you¬†know it, we’re choosing not to hear God. And not because we’re knowingly throwing our middle finger up at him but because we have chosen to be complacent and unintentional. All too often we’re allowing¬†time, past experiences and the world change us…define us. It’s a slippery slope and that’s why I’m telling you today—-in my most loving mom voice, go clean your ears!

So don’t let these subtle lies¬†define you like they had me for far too long. Either knowingly or unknowingly. Ask God today—in full expectancy–that He reveal to you what lies you might be hearing or have heard in the past which are¬†causing you to be unable to hear His truth. Because you see, he’s got some ear cleaning to do out there. Because if we can’t fully hear his truth then how are we supposed to live it? Time will change you folks. There’s no such thing as staying the same. So you get to choose. I chose a few weeks ago to ask Him that very same question. You know what he is telling¬†me shall I choose to listen? That despite what many of my experiences in this world have pressed upon me……what people have said to me either by actual words or by their actions…that these lies couldn’t be farther from the truth. He is telling me over and over again:¬†I DO have worth. I am forgiven. I do have a voice. I am treasured. And most of all, He STILL loves me.

So go ahead, grab a Q-Tip and¬†get cleaning because I guarantee you, He’s trying to tell you something too. Question is, do you hear Him?

 

 

1¬†The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,¬†2¬†to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,¬†3¬†and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor¬†4¬†They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

 

A Wild Ride

So I’m just going to start by saying first and foremost. God is good. All of the time. Regardless of our circumstances and the pain we’re in—his goodness is still there, it might not be fully visible at particular moments…but I promise you. It’s there. Now that leads me to say this…this past 4 weeks or so have been nothing short of a roller coaster.¬†And know this,¬†I’ve never been a fan of roller coasters. Maybe itty bitty ones at Disneyland like Splash Mountain and the Matterhorn…but the big, upside down, jar your body and wreck your neck sort of ones. Nope, those have never been my cup of tea. So for reference purposes¬†when I say roller coaster, those neck breaking ones are¬†the kind I’m talking about.

Four weeks ago I was sitting here with my sister talking about life. Real life. God’s grace. Forgiveness. Anger. Sadness. You name it. I was living, breathing and dancing constantly to the song by Big Daddy Weave called I Belong to God. If you haven’t heard it, it’s awesome. Just a few of the lyrics are what really were hitting home for me at this phase of life were this: “no longer bound by fear, no longer found in shame……..I belong to God. I say to the darkness, you do not own me anymore, I belong to God.” Now get ready for it…this is the part that just hit it home, “I’m SO ALIVE with your life in me, now everything within me knows that I belong to God.” Can I just tell you though, satan is alive and well, and in a matter of one short week—that’s only 7 days people, he knew how to not only attack me in difficulties, but he knew how to keep me down for JUST long enough to make me doubt my freedom in Christ and¬†whether I truly belonged to the most high KING.

You see, it all started when I jumped out of my boat of safety if you will….in attempts to swim to shore to be alongside Jesus who I just knew was saying, ‘come…trust me’. I knew it was going to take sheer courage and an utmost opening of my heart. I knew it was going to hurt. And boy did it. It took the most vulnerability I think I’ve had to date which involved sharing the pain that comes from childhood sexual abuse. A pain I would wish upon NO ONE. A pain that has affected me for more than 20 years and I had kept to myself for not only most of my adolescence but all of my adulthood. But can I tell you something? It was in that pain that Jesus met me. It was in that pain he taught me how to forgive my abuser. Which might I add, doesn’t need to wait until we ‘feel ready’. It was in that pain which allowed me to see how deeply this abuse¬†had affected every, single, one of my relationships and especially that with my husband. It has been in that pain that I can look back and still see God’s goodness in my life. Always. But it was also in this pain in the neck roller coaster few weeks¬†that made me long for a drink and self medicate in a way I hadn’t experienced in over a year. I told you satan knew where and how to attack. But I’m here to tell you….once again, the enemy loses. The war isn’t over, that I know. But today, I’m learning to live with and in the pain of these battles¬†through God’s grace and goodness. That’s it. Now, as if that one giant thing wasn’t¬†enough to jump head first into and out of my boat for…I also got the opportunity to attend counseling with my husband for the first time in all of this as we both felt like this is the next step in this journey of healing…which clearly involves more than just me. Even though I have my own set of hurts and pain from my life…I also realize (more than I would like to probably) that I have afflicted him with pains over the years and in the depths of my struggle with alcohol that believe you me, I wish I could erase. But I can’t. So instead…we walked into the face of fear and the unknown to truly begin the process of restoration for our marriage. He has so patiently and graciously waited until I was in a better place, both spiritually and emotionally to begin this step, and I’m forever grateful to him for not only waiting—but being there so genuinely for me….loving me, in EVERY STEP of this journey. Honestly, I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. God most definitely knew what he was doing when he put us together. God’s goodness shows up yet again. So to say it has been a hard…taxing…emotionally excruciating….and painful time in this process of healing¬†is an understatement. BUT, with all that being said, I stand¬†kneel before you today singing a new song:

Mighty warrior. King of the fight. No matter what I face, you’re by my side. When you don’t give the answers as I cry out to you. I will trust. I will trust. I will trust in YOU. I want what you want Lord and nothing less. When you don’t move those mountains I’m needing you to move, or part the water I wish I could walk through. I will trust. I will trust. I will trust in you. You are my strength and comfort…my steady hand and my firm foundation, the rock on which I stand. Your plans are always GOOD.

I choose to trust in his plans because I know He is always good. I can once again say to the darkness—YOU DO NOT OWN ME ANYMORE. And every time this roller coaster of life happens, because let’s face it…that’s life. UP and down…UP and down…I will search for even the smallest ounce of God’s goodness because I know that even that tiniest bit¬†will get me through and defeat the enemy. Does it take the pain away? No. Does it make it bearable? Yes. Does it make that pain make sense? No. But you know what, I heard something not that long ago that did make a lot of¬†sense to me since my husband is a builder. Someone told me that God wants to in a sense, remodel us…every, single, one of us! So that not only we are able to be fully alive in Him but so that we might have the capacity to overflow onto others with His love. And in order to do that, it takes knocking down walls—which often times means pain or at least taking a look back in history—so that HE can restore us. Rebuild us to be more of what He intended us to be…for you, for me, and more importantly, for HIM and his glory!!! And trust me when I say, he can take the most run-down, stinky, mold infested, rotten house there is a make it beautiful. One. Wall. At. A. Time. I’m a work in progress…we all are…but only if we purpose to allow Him to have even the most precious of walls. Or scariest. Or darkest. He wants them all.

So today, after a seemingly nightmarish roller coaster ride…he’s got a couple more walls of mine knocked down. Which leaves me in eager anticipation of how they’re going to be rebuilt. Restored. Made beautiful. So maybe, just maybe…even the scariest of all roller coasters aren’t so bad after all.

Hope Filled Affliction

I want to preface this post by saying I wrote this weeks ago. Never published it and realize now, I think God was having me wait for the perfect time. I can’t go into detail right now, but I’m in the middle of yet ANOTHER storm. Another time of getting to choose to walk head first into hard stuff—or go the other way. So as I sat down to write today, I happened to pull this draft I had going but not yet published…read it and knew instantly, today was the day to do press the publish button. For myself, but also for anyone else who is hurting, grieving or just needs to be reminded that there is always reason to praise. Always reason to rejoice.

……………………………..

Today I want to share with you good news. My chains are gone. God has redeemed my life in ways I didn’t know possible. During this past year when I felt so alone and sad and just plain scared, I know now that it was so I could learn to be continually emptied of myself so that I could be filled back up with so much more. ¬†And honestly, I can’t believe I can say this—but I am so grateful for my addiction…because it was the precise thing that God used to break me. Free me. Begin to heal me. So today, my darkness is turning to light. My shame is turning into freedom. And my guilt and nasty cloud of condemnation…well simply put, God’s taking that away bit by bit. And every time he takes something away that he’s been asking for, for far too long….he knows how to replace it with something so much better……..

HOPE. Despite great trials in my life, some major destruction caused by none other than myself, years of living in the dark and believing too many lies, today I stand before you a changed woman. Not by my own doing either—only by the life, death¬†and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Seriously. I was shackled on every extremity and today I am free. And you want to know something…in exchange for my Savior freeing me from my last shackle—-he is giving me a new heart!!! And because of this, I will never be the same.

PEACE. Which clearly cannot come from the quiet world we live in—because let’s face it, our world is SO distracted. But despite the world’s¬†enemy’s greatest attempts of distracting me, those attempts of diversion,¬†pale in comparison to my God’s truths. Because of this, my soul is able to rest in this quiet assurance of His presence…His forgiveness…His freedom. I have¬†peace from exposing my secrets—my shame. I have peace from being vulnerable and allowing myself to be genuinely known. And not just by God either, but by other human beings that I can trust with myself. I have peace because of HOPE.

JOY. And not the type of joy that is defined in the dictionary as ‘a feeling of great pleasure and happiness’…NO! I am talking about the joy that comes from knowing my God is in full throttle control of all of the days of my life. And not just mine either—but of those people in my life whom I love the most. I don’t really agree with the stance that joy has to do with a feeling. Because I’m going to tell you something right now that just might change your life. ūüôā People. Feelings are temporary. Sort of like ‘falling in and out of love’. Love has nothing to do with feelings either….it’s a choice. Joy comes from¬†a determined and difficult choice to praise God in the midst of suffering. It’s knowing that even in the depth of our pain from living in a fallen and broken world—there is always HOPE. And that alone for me is something to be joyous over.

SURRENDER. You see, this one for me is huge. Really, I think it is for all of us. I don’t think there is one human being out there that I have ever met that doesn’t like to be in control. In some way, shape or form. Some people are just more obvious about it than others. But here’s what God has so graciously been teaching me. I don’t need to kick myself when I start trying to be in control again. I don’t need to feel guilty because I’m not ‘good’ at being a natural surrender-er. All I need to do is when I catch myself in those moments—which I do—then I need to give whatever it is I’m trying to be in control of again back to my God I trust. That’s it. No self deprecation or feelings of shame…just give it back to him yet again, and move on. And this whole concept of surrender—it’s scary. Even though I KNOW God’s ways are much greater than mine—it’s still scary. Yet every time, He meets me there. In my weakness, He is strong. Every time I let go and allow Him to work—he blows my mind. Even when I ‘think’ I know how it’s going to turn out or how it ‘should’ turn out—-he does it so much different. Often times, so much better than I ever could have possibly imagined.

So I’m not going to sit here today and say my life is perfect and rosey—because it’s not. But what it is—-is free, grateful….forgiven. I can finally and clearly recognize¬†that my mountain high pile of garbage (aka sin—my own and also others who have harmed me) doesn’t stand between me and my God. No, no, no. Instead, he stands right next to me in front of that pile and takes my hand and says, ‘I’ve been right here the whole time. Waiting. Pursuing. And most of all, loving you.¬†Now let me take all of that and make it beautiful. Together, with my power and your surrender—beauty will rise from the darkest ashes. But don’t think you know how this should look or will look, because you can’t even imagine…’ How can I say no to that? So today what I will say, yet again, is YES! I humbly receive your gifts, my gracious God!!! Today, and always, I will stand my ground—where hope can¬†be found.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7-9

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Sparked

Ok, I’m not going to lie…this is another one of those times that I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to blog¬†about but I feel led (both internally and externally) to write. We’ll call it sparked…because that seems to be a common thing in my life lately…sparks. It reminds me of when you’re trying to start a car. Or any engine for that matter. Or even a fire. But what I really get an image of is a firework. You know when you’re kneeling down on the ground and you have your punk stick and you’re so anxious to get that thing lit. On one hand you can’t wait for it to catch fire and see the beautiful display of fireworks—and on the other you’re nervous as all get out and wonder WHY on earth do I want to blow this up…what if something ¬†goes wrong? Well at least for a worry wart like myself, that’s many times what I’m thinking. “This seems really unsafe” is a phrase that often flits through my mind. And I’m not just talking about with fireworks either. I think with life in general I tend to be in a constant state of protection mode. Do you ever feel that way? And if not, could you maybe be feeling that way and not even aware of it…much like I was for many, many years? Well that protection mode, it’s not so great. At least not for me anymore…

My counselor encouraged me yesterday to journal (note I say JOURNAL, but for some reason God has to take that a step further and tell me to blog) about the spark that I had a few¬†weeks ago. A spark no other than what I can call Jesus. I was so encouraged and just felt different. I felt lighter…joyful…dare I even say hopeful?! I remember going into her office and saying I was excited about life for the first time in quite a while. And when I say excited, I mean that kind where your gratitude seems to just overflow because you are so alive and can take every moment…….every thought……..captive. It’s odd too because this spark came at a time when I had been wrestling with God. Wrestling about not wanting to commit to something that will last for months and is going to be painful and require me to be extremely vulnerable at times—but yet deep down I know it is something God wants me to do. So perhaps more of my wrestling was with the enemy and I just needed to say yes to God and give the devil the finger. So that’s what I did……a little begrudgingly at first, but nevertheless, I said yes. And once I did…something ignited in me that I couldn’t put my finger on which is why I know it was God. And now, here I am three short weeks later and in need of going¬†back to that moment. Because you see, that thing I started and committed to that I was hesitantly excited about, it’s amazing….but it’s also really hard. This week I opted to share my story with a group of strangers. Seriously. I shared EVERYTHING. We were asked to be bold and basically hang it all out there so we could get to know one another within our small groups. Some what like what people do during small groups at treatment….be open. Candid. Real. Whatever you want to call it. Knowing that every one else is there for the same reason you are and there is no judgement. But when I was at treatment almost a year ago I wasn’t ready to do that. In fact, I didn’t even really want to do that one-on-one with my counselor. But then again, I didn’t think I had any¬†real brokenness or¬†problems then—other than some pretty stupid choices throughout my years of life. I might have even mentioned to my therapist at treatment that I don’t really¬†need to talk about my childhood because it was fine. *Enter the sound of myself laughing hysterically at that now—protection mode really is quite impressive when it wants to be*¬†No joke,¬†I just thought I had a drinking problem. But then I got to sit in on my first day of group with these ladies that had already been there a little while and I couldn’t believe the sheer courageousness they had. The things they were sharing. The brokenness they were exposing. I sat in awe. I actually sat and felt my heart breaking for them…and I think I broke a major rule of group therapy engagement and got up and hugged one of them. Whoops.¬†It was so inspiring yet seemed a little lot crazy to me. But then underneath that crazy, inspiring boldness they seemed to have, there was something more I noticed and I wanted to be a part of. There was this bond they had that was incredible. Even though their stories were all so different, they still had underlying similarities. And no, I’m not talking about the similar addiction thread. I’m talking about the heart condition part. The part that is the only part we should focus on rather than the symptoms which come from it such as addiction. They all had hurt in their lives. Yes, I’m going to say it, they all had so much unexposed brokenness. And it seemed to me that once they began exposing that brokenness, they began to heal. It took being truly known for them to begin to forgive others, begin to forgive themselves, begin to trust again and biggest of all for me, begin to love and BE loved. Because I am really seeing that in order to be able to give love……true, unconditional kind…..we have to be able to receive it. And how can we receive it if people aren’t really loving us for WHO we are at our core? And how do they know WHO we are if we can’t be exposed. Vulnerable. Honest. Simply put, they can’t. Beyond this….how can I let God love me if I can’t even let people love me? Oh my. What a revelation. If you get nothing else out of this than what I’m about to say, I think that’s what God is trying to get across. If I can’t be exposed¬†(which takes great vulnerability and courage)¬†then I am unknown. If I remain unknown, then I unbeknownst¬†to me feel unloved or perhaps even unlovable….which leads to a whole host of problems like feeling unworthy…….ashamed…never going to be good enough…….for people, or for God. I know I’m struggling with that right now. I’m struggling with accepting God’s love for me. I know the truth. I know He died for me. For you. But I am at this point of my healing that I really don’t believe I deserve it. Just like I really don’t feel as though I deserve my husband, who has been there for me through ALL of my crap. And then he continues to be there for me as more crap has come out over the past year. I want to believe it, but honestly, my hands feel too dirty to praise Him and to accept his love AND my husbands.

So¬†typically, this is where God brings it all together…………so please Lord, show me.

3 weeks ago, God sparked something in me. He inspired me AFTER I said yes to Him. After I trusted Him (and gave the enemy the finger). He ignited my punk stick if you will…and now I’m beginning to see why. He knew that in order for me to continue down this road of healing and have it be long lasting—it was going to require me to be known. Truly known. So that I can learn to accept being loved. For who I am at my core—-which is NOT an alcoholic or addict…but a beautiful child of an almighty God who gave His son so that I could live. And let me tell you, after experiencing that spark, I am SO ready to live. And what’s so amazing is that’s where He knew I have struggled……in my identity……which is precisely where I believe He is showing me, slowly, yet surely….Keeley, let me love you. Simply put. Let me love you for WHO I made you to be. Let down your guard. Your self preservation and protection is no longer necessary because your life is in my hands, just as it always has been. Which speaking of hands, I need you to understand,¬†yours¬†are washed clean in my blood and you bring me so much joy. So strip down, get ready to feel naked at times when everybody else is still clothed—because that’s what it’s going to take. Bold vulnerability and trust. Oh and your husband, you do actually deserve him because he’s a gift from me. Let him love you unconditionally. And remember that punk stick……..well, as soon as you learn to accept my love, grace and mercy exactly where you are for just what it is——a gift——get ready, because there is going to be the most spectacular fireworks show you’ve ever seen.

So for yet another day, I stay knelt down by that firework. Even though my mind says run away, this is too dangerous—too unsafe…..what good could come of this??? I know now….God’s just getting started and like he told me, I’m about to experience the most beautiful part.

Eye of the storm

I feel as though I should start out by apologizing…for being absent…for seemingly going dark in the midst of a battle…for not being consistent. I find myself lately apologizing a lot. And really, probably more than I should because half of the things I’m saying sorry for aren’t my fault, yet I’m taking that burden on my shoulders as if it were. So right now, I’m not sorry! What I am though is beat down, tired and believe it or not, at a loss for words. This past month and a half has been probably the most whirlwind of a storm since I have been home from treatment. Many good things in that storm, many not so good…but when you’re being tossed about in a storm…you just get plain exhausted. Think of a ship in a storm, specifically a sailboat.¬†She’s just been through a mighty, raging sea with winds so hard she should have tipped. Waves so large she should have sunk to the depth of the ocean. Darkness so black, it felt like she had sunk to those depths. She shouldn’t have been able to navigate out of it. But somehow, there she is….her sails ripped and tattered…wood missing from her bow…yet still sailing, with her destination firmly locked into place, never questioning her own strength…or more so, the capability and power of her captain. This image reminds me of my life. Right now. I cannot¬†and¬†will not focus on the storm. When I focus on the storm I want to throw my hands up in the air and say NO. I give up. But yet, each time I think ‘oh this is it, I am at the end of my rope’…God throws me a life raft. For whatever reason, this season of my life holds challenges and craziness that I am not used to and really, would rather not face. But I can either choose to focus on those…to fixate on the waves that come crashing upon me, that rage against every ounce of my being…or much like that sailboat, I can trust my captain. This week in particular¬†I have cried many tears of sorrow saying ‘no, I cannot do this and don’t want to’…’I just want this to go away’…….and even though I still have those moments I am also¬†beginning to quietly whisper, “Jesus, if you won’t make this go away…this storm, these waves…this darkness…then please, calm my soul. Bring me the peace only you can provide and remind me that your power—your wisdom—your goodness—your grace—your love for me. Its all enough. All of those things, they will weather this storm. Lord, help me trust that¬†soon enough…….you will speak and the¬†storm will stop and we will sail out of it together. So for now, in the eye of the storm, quiet my soul.”

As I sit here and write, I contemplate actually putting this on my blog. I always have said I want this to be a vessel for God to use how He sees fit…but sometimes my fear gets the best of me. Sometimes I want to write about something a little less personal. A little less emotional. But for some reason, He says no and simply asks me to once again, trust Him and say yes. The one thing that He does though every single time through this process is pulls things out of me that I don’t see coming. Today, it was two things. The first was the image of a sailboat. Sailing gracefully out of a storm. A little beat up, but still afloat and more importantly, trusting its captain and their capabilities together. I think that was God’s¬†way of telling me to hang on…..One. More. Time. The second thing He brought forth is one of my favorite songs. It’s called Oceans by Hillsong United. It gets me choked up every time I hear it and lately, it’s just dug a little deeper for some reason, and now I know why………………….

You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail.¬†And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep …¬†My faith will stand.

And I will call upon Your name.¬†And keep my eyes above the waves.¬†When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace…for I am Yours and You are mine.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters …¬†Your sovereign hand will be my guide.¬†Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, you’ve never failed and You won’t start now.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders …¬†Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me.¬†Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger …¬†In the presence of my Savior.

All of us will face storms in life. Many have the power of taking us down, in many different ways. It’s just up to us what we do in that time…focus on the storm. Or focus on Him. If I choose to focus on the waves and raging sea right now, I will relapse. That’s how my storm will take me down. If I focus on Him…the storm is still there, but it’s quieter. It doesn’t hold the same power.

Jesus has called me out upon the raging waters right now,¬†amidst¬†this storm in life, and all I need to do is trust Him. Fear surrounds me, but once again He has reminded me that He’s never failed and He will not start now. I call upon His name¬†and can rest in His embrace and in doing that, everything about me¬†becomes fixated on Him rather than the storm around me………and for a moment, my soul ……. is calm.

17¬†For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18¬†as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. –¬†2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

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Plan A

So I heard¬†the other day was “National Sibling Day” which I’m assuming to be similar to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day but not quite as nationally recognized. It got me thinking about my family. Not just about my husband and kids but the bigger picture. And what really makes a family, well, family. I am still learning about myself everyday and what makes me……….me,¬†but as I am learning I always joke that there are two things I do know and have always known about this girl…the first is that I was adopted. The second being the fact¬†I have always desired to be a stay-at-home mom and wife with a bushel of kids—both biological and adopted.¬†So¬†today, and for a while now, God has been nudging me to open up about those things…

When I was born, my biological mother made the most loving and then selfless¬†decision one could ever have to make and that was to not only give me life, but then to place me for adoption. Growing up I always knew I was. And even though I always knew I was, there was times I tried to convince myself that I looked like the rest of my family, but I definitely didn’t. It just was what it was…and always will be. It didn’t really make me feel different despite that word, or looking nothing like my family, because I always knew I was loved and a still just as much a part of it as anyone else was.¬†I will admit though,¬†there have been times where it would be nice to know some of the history behind my adoption or who I get my insanely strong will from, but honestly, I can say I have never wondered why she did it. As a mother myself, I know it has to be the greatest act of love there is—to know that for whatever reason, you cannot give your baby the life you feel it deserves so you find someone who can. Honorable. Courageous. Selfless. I guess I have always chosen to look at the silver lining of it if you will. I have always been grateful. I know that it not only helped me to become who I am today (the good and the not so good), but it allowed me to fully understand God’s gift of family…because you see, had I limited my view of who my family was to only the blood related people in my life I would have been a real sad kid growing up…only to grow up into a real sad and probably bitter adult. Because let’s face it, until 8 years ago, I had ZERO blood relation to any of my family. By the grace of God alone, I now know what it is like to look at someone and physically see a bit of yourself in them. Does it change ‘how’ I love my kids them because they are biologically mine? Nope. I don’t love them more than I love my family from when I was a child growing up because they look somewhat like me. I might love them differently because they are my kids, but that has nothing to do with looks, genetics or how they were entrusted to me. God could have brought them to me in a cardboard box on my front porch and I would love them just the same. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful I was able to experience pregnancy and the things that go along with that, in fact if I could be pregnant all of the time, I would be. Seriously. I loved it. But I also know any of my kids ultimately aren’t really mine per say….they’re God’s and are simply entrusted to me for our short time in this world.¬†I love them because they are a gift. No matter how He gave them to me.

I also truly believe¬†God gives us family in many different ways…which extends much beyond the biological gene pool.¬†Does it mean that those who are related to you by blood aren’t important? Absolutely not. Consider those¬†an extra special blessing. ūüėȬ†Does it mean people who cannot conceive biological children shouldn’t feel sad about that fact at times. Absolutely not. Does it make the moments in my life when I tried to ‘fit in’ by telling myself I looked like the rest of my family disappear. Nope.¬†So what does it¬†mean? Well, for starters…be conscious of how you refer to people’s children. Please realize that referring to adopted children as not a parent’s ‘real’ child is extremely narrow minded and hurtful. Or perhaps you’ve heard people say things like ‘they have one of their own and one adopted’…….COME ON, you guys. How about saying, they have two children…one biological and one adopted. I’m bringing it to everyone’s¬†attention because I realize that until you walk¬†in someone else’s shoes or are at least made aware of the shoes others might have to¬†wear it’s hard to think differently. And even when it is brought to your attention, it takes constant effort to guard your tongue. As an adopted child myself, had I ever heard someone say to me that my adopted parents weren’t my family or I wasn’t their ‘real’ child it would have shattered my world. Because that is what you are doing when you say things like that. And a child’s perception is their reality. So my reality would have been unimaginably sad. Not to say I didn’t go through sad times…because let me tell you, I did. But not because of being adopted. Not because I didn’t feel like I didn’t have family. Ultimately, I wasn’t sad because I wondered if I was loved. Because that’s what family is to me. Unconditional love. Corny? Maybe. But it’s true. It has very little¬†to do with my genetic relation to anyone! That’s not an opinion. It’s a fact…

Fact #1 (the only one that has anything to do with being genetically related to someone):¬†33 years ago my Creator chose for my life to be knitted together in a young woman’s¬†womb. I guarantee you, she loved me. But even beyond¬†that, the biggest act of unconditional love began…which is God doing exactly what he did. Giving me life and giving her courage to place me for adoption. Boggles my mind to think that from that very moment, my adoption was already planned! I love knowing that. Knowing my adoption was His very best. His Plan A.

Fact #2: A short time later, my Dad and Mom who adopted me, loved me from the moment they laid eyes on my squishy newborn face because I was theirs. Not by means of conception, but¬†due to the same ultimate reason…God’s unfailing love and design.

Fact #3: Seventeen years ago at a pivotal time in my life after my adopted Mom died and life was a little rough, I was given more family. They lived across the street from me and took me in as a daughter and loved me because God showed them I needed them and beyond that, needed HIM.

Fact #4: Sixteen years ago, God introduced me to my husband (who won’t admit it but I’m pretty sure loved me from the moment he laid eyes on my face too…this time though not due to its squishy appeal) and to this day he loves me not because I am the perfect wife (because I’m far from it) or what I do for him but simply because he loves ME.

Fact #5: With my husband, came more family…

I could go on and on about how God has richly blessed me with family that might be other than what most might consider ‘real’ family…but aside from that there is a greater point here I want to make sure I don’t miss. That is WHY I believe it is important we open our view to how we define family. Because ultimately, I believe it affects¬†how we view God and our relationship with Him. I also believe it can and does affect others and how we show love to them. Open your hearts….your mind will follow…..God’s gift of family is much greater than our human limited definitions and minds. Someone out there needs that gift. Someone needs to be shown God’s unconditional love in the form of being family to them just as people in my life did for me. My adoption and ultimately the people he placed in my life to be my family was never His¬†second choice for my life. It was always His Plan A! So now I believe it to be my…and really your responsibility to show others love in the form of being family to them. Allow God to use you as a vessel to be His Plan A for someone else! Or look around you today. Who are your people today that might not be ‘really’ your family by worldly vision by ultimately are family to you in the bigger picture of things. Thank God for them today and perhaps even go out on a limb and thank them!

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5

 

 

 

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Reaping what you sow

Consequences. Who likes them? I mean really? When was the last time you said YES to a good ‘ole fashion spanking from your mom¬†for doing something naughty? I’m going to tell you something right now…NO ONE likes them. Not at the time any way. The other day I had to follow through with a consequence to my 7-year old rule follower which allowed me to think about so much more…

In order to fully understand the depth of this situation, I think you have to understand a bit about this little boy. My son. You see, he is passionate. He is brilliant–detail and mechanically minded—to the tune of being able to tell you specific colors, patterns or numbers on anything! He’s critical. Sensitive. Competitive. Talkative. Sweet. Bossy¬†(I think that might be an oldest child thing). And he is so amazingly compassionate when you get underneath the ‘I’m a tough guy’ exterior that it would make your head spin. Honestly, he’s so much like me it’s not even funny. So to say we butt heads from time to time is a fair statement…but after that head butting, we can pray, cry and hug it out like nobody’s business! What was I getting at again? Oh ya, consequences. Well this past week his bossiness came out in full effect which caused him to make a poor choice towards his sister. Long story short, he ended up storming up to his room (not because I told him to either) and SLAMMED the door. Now mind you, a few months ago I informed both of them that slamming doors will not be tolerated in this house (which came after a door slam from his sister during a different incident) and their bedroom door would be removed if it happened again. It is not how we deal with our anger—no. matter. what. It’s just one of those things in my book up there with hitting, yelling and name calling. Although I will say, name calling doesn’t quite make my skin crawl like the thought of the others…I guess I can tolerate a good ‘poopy head’ thrown around before the doors being slammed or someone being punched. Don’t ask me why. So, as I paced in the kitchen I thought to myself, CRAP! Hudson. Seriously?! For something so¬†minor and avoidable, it turned into this…now I have to follow through because I know he knows better (his memory is like a vault) and because I know now is not the time to go back on what I said. I believe that would be more detrimental than following through with the consequences…if not now, then down the road. So out to the garage I went and calmly¬†I walked upstairs to his room. Didn’t say a word. Started unscrewing and remembered that my husband so graciously forewarned me after the first door slam incident that IF I ever needed to take the door down, it is completely unnecessary to unscrew every hinge because you can just tap on the bottom of the pins and they will pop right out. Thank you, Justin. So you remember that sensitive and passionate part I told you about? Well, as I’m doing this Hudson is¬†sobbing. Asking me why I’m doing that and that he didn’t mean to and is so sorry. “WHY? MOM! WHY?” I couldn’t even look at him, it made me so sad and heart broken to have to do this because I knew he was sorry. He’s my rule follower. The one who does everything in his power to make sure I’m not mad at him…at least not for very long. But, I knew he DID mean to—whether it be in the heat of anger or not. And I also knew he already knew why I was doing it. So I had no words. None. I just sat quietly attempting to get this job done while he calmed down. After a few minutes¬†I’m beginning to wonder why this ‘tapping of the pins’ my husband told me about wasn’t so¬†simple. It’s like Hudson knew what I was thinking and just needed to rub it in…”Mom, why is it taking so long?” Well buddy, that’s a goooooooood question. Tap, tap, tap…surely, I can do this I thought. It’s simple Keeley, keep it together. Obviously, it wasn’t that simple for me and Hudson could see that I was struggling. Do you remember that head spinning compassion I mentioned earlier? Well, he begins helping me. He holds the door up to make my job easier and so I wouldn’t hurt myself in this process. Really?! As he’s holding the door, sniffling and fighting back through his tears he looks at me with the saddest eyes¬†and says, “Mom, I’m so sorry, would you please forgive me? And when you get done would you please come sit with me and snuggle?” Oh my.¬†If I wasn’t already having a hard¬†enough¬†time following through with this, now it’s solidified. I’m breaking inside. My instant reply,¬†“Buddy, I completely forgive you. And yes, let’s do that.”

As we sat and snuggled I realized that this was much more than just a huge lesson for him¬†in understanding that I say what I mean and mean what I say, but for me as well. It showed me that this is exactly what God says to us. His word. His truth. He lays it all out there. We know not to lie. We know not to steal. Cheat. Idolize. Murder. Covet. Etc. Etc. We had laid it out there for our kids. They knew there would be consequences for slamming the door. Not because we have a list of rules for them to follow but because they made the mistake once…advised of the fact that what they did was not okay, and there would be a consequence if they did that again. And now, because they know¬†it’s wrong, it has become an act of sheer disobedience and is not OKAY. Period. So what favor would I be doing them by not serving the consequence? How then, would they ever learn the pain of disobedience? Because as we get older, our consequences surely become much worse than your door being taken off its hinges. I truly believe God delivers us consequences when we deserve them—and I don’t know about you, but there are times I count my blessings and His grace for my repercussions¬†not being any worse than they could have been!¬†I know, just like Hudson, there have been many times I have gone against Gods word…….been disobedient to Him…….and then pay the price for it. Yet I have the nerve to cry, WHY? WHY GOD?! WHY? Only to then come to my senses, ask for forgiveness just as my son did, and then rest in His arms which gives me peace. Do you think God enjoys delivering consequences? I don’t. Because I know He loves me¬†even more than I can love my own son…it pains Him¬†more than it pains¬†me. Yet, it is imperative¬†I reap what I sow.

So why this? Why consequences? Simply put…because it’s not something people like to talk about. I’ve noticed something lately and that is many people like to walk around with their head in the sand. Myself included in that bunch for a very long time. I didn’t¬†like to think about my choices—good or bad. I merely existed. Living my life for none other than me. Moi. Myself. Is that disobedience? Many might argue with me on this one, but the answer is yes. When we live life for ourselves, our consequences only get worse. It starts with simple things like getting your bedroom door taken off the hinges for slamming it…to speeding tickets…getting fired from a job…failed marriages…the list can go on and on and will get worse and worse. This I know from personal experience. But the biggest consequence we have to consider is the one that comes when we take our last breath. No one likes to think about it, but I challenge you today to do just that. Ask yourself, where do I¬†stand with God? Better yet, close your eyes. Picture yourself standing before God and ask Him. What are my consequences for living for myself? Rarely, if ever, seeking¬†your wisdom? What are my consequences for choosing my way and not yours? I guarantee if you are willing to listen, He will tell you.¬†

I did. I asked Him for guidance regarding Hudson’s¬†seemingly simple act of rebellion.¬†¬†And today, four days after the incident…God is telling me to extend¬†my son¬†the same grace¬†which has been given to me. The same grace and mercy I have received¬†for all of my acts of rebellion towards not only my parents, but towards HIM. The same gift of forgiveness that ultimately comes from the life, death and resurrection of HIS son. So today,¬†I have a door to put back on its hinges and a son who will be reminded that he is not only loved, but forgiven.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…

Galatians 6:7-10

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