Giving Up and Giving In…

You know it’s funny… When we give up what we want and give in to what God wants, life turns out differently than we could ever imagine.  As most of you know, I was dating a man who was not a Christian and mentally and emotionally abusive.  I did what I wanted and still thought I would go to heaven.  I, however, had began to walk away from my heavenly Father.  I know now the reasons I dated that man.  I was lonely.  I wanted the dreams of marriage and kids to come true and I settled for less than God’s best for my life.

It wasn’t until I moved to Dallas to be closer to mom that I began to see the shell of the person I had become.  I had become someone I didn’t like.  I had become someone that I didn’t want to spend time with so why would anyone else?  I made the decision to move late last year and as mom and I packed up our home of almost 30 years, things became clear to me.  Canyon wasn’t where I needed or wanted to be.  I needed a change.  I needed something to shake up my imperfect little world and so here I am five months later living in the big city.

A lot has happened in that period of time… I have changed.  In fact, I don’t recognize myself most days.  I left Canyon bitter, angry, hurt, filled with shame and yet longing for more of God.  I remember the day I left Canyon.  November 24th… Mom and I had loaded our cars up and she left about two hours before I did. I pulled out of my driveway and never looked back.  I took on a focus I didn’t know I had in me.  I drove that drive from Canyon to Amarillo one last time and took I-27 to I-40 just to turn back southeast and head to the metroplex.  I felt as if I was drowning.  I felt so bogged down by the weight of the world and everything else I was dealing with, but I knew in my heart that this was the move that God wanted me to make.

However, my stubborn self wanted the comfortable and the new… That never works.  In September 2015, I had come down for a couple of weeks and realized I needed change.  I even went so far as to tell mom as we were leaving church on Sunday morning that her church needed a youth pastor.  I wasn’t going to be it, but I knew they needed it.  I began praying then for them.

When I finally made the move here, I decided I was going to try some other churches just to see where I would fit in.  This one was too big… This one’s music was too loud… This one didn’t have enough singles… All excuses…Easter weekend, I made the decision to go with mom to services at Southside Assembly of God.  I never felt more at home than when I walked in those doors and the pastor and his wife both came and hugged me and told me it was good to see me.  That Sunday after church I told mom again that the church really needed a youth pastor.  So the next Sunday I told her I was going to mention it to Pastor Fiscus that I wanted to volunteer.

That next Sunday after church, my big mouth and I greeted the pastor and told him that I wanted to come and talk to him about being the volunteer youth pastor for the church.  He agreed to meet with me and the rest, they say, is history.

However, there is way more to this story.  I had been contemplating moving back to Canyon since I had gone home for my birthday.  Every week in Bible study, I had been asking our group to pray that I either find a job here or back home.  I had made myself miserable.  I was so self-focused and bitter and angry that I had left that I forgot all the scriptures that God kept bringing to my attention about forgetting the former things and behold he was doing a new thing… I wasn’t perceiving the new thing yet.  I was wallowing in self pity and was me focused.

The Tuesday night before I talked to Pastor on the first Sunday of April, my friend, Brenda, prayed with me and for me at Bible study.  She prayed that I would find purpose and that God would open doors that no man can shut and close doors so no man can open them.
She didn’t know then nor does she know now that I had been praying that very thing too.  I knew that God had called me out for a purpose and I also knew I loved and adored teenagers.  When I got the courage to go and talk to Pastor that week, I told him about wanting to start the youth group.  We have a great core group of kids.  I found my purpose or one of them.

That day I went and talked to him, my life changed.  I don’t recognize the bitter and angry and hurt woman that I was.  He is making all things new.  I have met so many new people that I can see doing life with.  I enjoy my life again.  I am looking forward to what this season is bringing me.  Mom asked me the week after I went and talked to Pastor if she moved back to the panhandle, would I go with her?  I answered with a resounding NO… I had too much at stake to lose the kids and the ministry and the relationships I am building with others.  I am inviting people to church and praying for people and seeing things change.  My heart is alive again.  My mind is alive with possibilities.  I am dreaming again.  Which is HUGE… I had tucked away my dreams for years because they didn’t match my ex’s.

God’s promises are true.  When we truly put Him first and seek Him with everything in us, He will bless us abundantly, above and beyond.  I am living proof.  For the last few weeks that I have been in the office at the church, I have come home and talked to Mom and told her “Who am I that God is mindful of me?”  He is bringing to pass those things that He called me out for and I am believing for bigger things to come.  I am believing for better things.  I want more of Him most of all.  I’m like Paul who says that I must decrease so God can increase in me.  I pray that is the case every day.  I want to decrease so that people see Christ in me.  I can’t wait to see where He is going to take this ministry because it is His.  He has brought it all together and I am humbled because of what He’s doing.  He is opening doors for bridges between ministries.  He is closing doors that never need to be opened again.

For all of you who have been praying for me, your prayers are being answered in so many really cool ways.  God has done so much in my heart and in my life and I get up excited every day to go to work and do what I am doing… Please pray for my kiddos:  Shannon and Michael, Bailey and Becca, Cassidy and Kylee, Clara and Stephen, and Misheal and Joanna.  They are a great group and I can’t wait to see where God is going to take them.

Please be praying for their youth pastor as well… She needs it!  :  )

Blessings,

Christi

 

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There is a Time and a Season for Everything…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT) says, “There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven — A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.  A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up.  A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.  A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.  A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear apart and a time to sow together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.  A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”  In verse 3, there is a time for everything…including healing.

You might not know why I am clinging to the Word of God  so tightly right now, so let me share a little back story with you.  I met a man on a website on the internet a little over three years ago.  He was charming, flattering, and so kind to me — that is, until he wasn’t.  He was mentally and emotionally abusive and with my low self-esteem I didn’t believe I could do any better.  I listened to his lies even though red flags (aka the Holy Spirit) popped up all over the place with him.  Time after time, we would fight and break up and then he would text or email and tell me how much he loved me and I would allow the cycle to begin again.

He would beat me down mentally and emotionally, telling me time after time, that I would never find someone as good to me as he was.  He would tell me I was crazy when I would call him out on the things he was saying or doing.  I did love him and yet have realized he never loved me.  In fact, he even told me one time he didn’t know how to love.  He told me he was a Christian and yet his actions didn’t show that to me.  How could I not feel like I was going crazy?  I walked on eggshells trying not to upset him and set him off.  I finally had enough.  He had begun to tell me what other women were telling him about me and all the while I thought, “That’s because they don’t know you like I do…” It took some tough love from my momma and a lot of tears to make me walk away.  I am thankful I got out.  I am thankful for the courage and the bravery my momma showed in this situation.  Had she not told me if I wanted to be with him then I could get out and never come back and then seeing his reaction of him telling me that she was just trying to control my life, I would have never cut ties with him.  You see, I wanted the relationship with my momma way more than I wanted to with that man.

I have to be honest though…I am thankful we never got married.  I am thankful I’m not left with babies to raise by myself.  I am thankful that I am away from that situation.  Leaving Canyon was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made.  You see, I had to do the courageous thing for me.  I had to take care of me.  I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.  I read a book back in August 2014 called “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs.  She talks about having courage to do the scary things that God calls us to do.  I realized I had no courage.  From the time I was a young lady up until now, I had never had courage to stick with anything.  I would start something and not finish it.  I went to Southwestern Assemblies of God University for a semester only to come home in January of my first year of school.  It took me eight and a half years (on and off) to finish college because I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Except I was running from a call that God had placed on my life.  I went to nursing school and quit because I didn’t think I was good enough.  After reading that book, I began to take a look at my life and realize that I wanted change.  I went to real estate school and finished it.  I haven’t passed my test yet, but I will.  It’s on the agenda for this year.  That and finishing my first fiction novel.  I will finish it this year.

I know what I left behind in Amarillo and Canyon and there are times, it calls me back.  Yet, I want an adventure so I moved to find one.  When I left Canyon in November, my neighbor boys and I went to have frosty beverages from Sonic the night before I left.  I love both of those boys so much and it is hard sometimes knowing that they aren’t just a walk across the street away anymore.  The oldest of the two had lived across the street from me from the time he was two years old.  He turned 16 just a couple of weeks ago.  To say we had a bond is an understatement.  Same thing with the younger one.  He doesn’t remember a time without me.  He turned 11 in January.  I keep wondering where the time went.  About a week before I left, I watched as my favorite yahoos came outside and began to toss the football from my driveway and yard to theirs.  I probably watched them for 30 minutes before I teared up and decided to go join them.  That was a last I celebrated.  Not the fact that it was going to be one of the last times I got to watch them out my kitchen window and then make the choice to go join in, but just being with them.  How often do we not celebrate those lasts in our lives and only take time to notice the firsts?  I miss those two and will always be thankful for all the time I had with them.

From baking cookies and making caramel corn to going bowling and to watching them play baseball in the spring and summer to football in the fall and every movie night and Sonic run in between, they are lodged in the deep recesses of my heart.  I was truly blessed with the neighbors I had in Canyon.  I used to say that we had the best block of people ever.  I miss each and every one of them…

You know what else I miss?  I miss my church family.  From my Pastor and his beautiful first lady, Pastor and Sister Nickell, to my Bible study ladies who treated me like family (like I was an extra daughter to most of them).  These ladies are the most amazing ladies.  They have lived through some really tough things and yet have faced it all with grace and poise.  So many of them were widowed and yet still lead full blessed lives.  They truly exemplify the Proverbs 31 woman.  I miss them and love them and appreciate them so much.  They will never know how much I learned from each one of them — both from the Scriptures, but about life in general.

I remember a time back in late 2009/early 2010 where God took me through a time where He wanted me all to Himself.  I assumed I was being isolated from everyone not because He wanted to spend time with me, but because I thought He was punishing me for something I did or didn’t do.  I had very low self-esteem and never realized then that I was precious to God.  I was and am the apple of God’s eye.  My name is written in the palm of His hand.  I didn’t KNOW that then.  I mean, I knew it, but I didn’t KNOW it.  I had head knowledge of it, but it hadn’t sunk into the deep recesses of my heart…Yet…

Six years later, those truths from Scripture are more than just head knowledge, they are heart knowledge.  They are shared with people any chance I can as well.  The scripture in Isaiah were the Lord says, “Fear not, for I am with you…I have called you by name.  Child, you are mine.  When you walk through the waters, I will be with you and through the flame.  You won’t be drowned or burned (my paraphrase).  God has been present through every step of my journey — from my birth to this very time and place.

I have learned so much about myself and who I really am during these last few months and to say that I would ever want to go back to the person I was before, I wouldn’t.  She was afraid to pursue her dreams because she didn’t realize she had everything she needed.  She could be courageous because of the One who breathed life into her lungs and knew her in the secret place (see Psalm 139).  She could be brave because she is loved unconditionally and so completely by One who calls her “His Beloved.”  She could love again because of the One who loved her first — He knows her inside and out, all her strengths and all her weaknesses, all her serious moments and all her silliness and everything in between.  He knew she would be Don and Sue Taylor’s daughter, Ernest and Helen Taylor’s and Harold and Helen Keith’s granddaughter, Jerrold and Ann Taylor’s favorite niece (on Jerrold’s side of the family), Dean and Linda and Sharon and Jean and Rosa and Jim and Babe’s niece.  He knew the family she would be placed in the middle of.  God knew that her closest friends would be as eclectic as the music she listens to and would be strewn across the world.  He knew.  He knows what I think before I think it, what I’m going to say before I say it, He knows me.  I am important to His plan.

He is I AM…He is my Rock…He is my Redeemer…He is my Savior…He is my Lord…He is the Fairest of Ten Thousand…He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah…He is the Root of Jesse…He is my Comforter…He is my Shield…He is my Help…He is my Banner…He is my Provider…He is my Source…He is my Best Friend…He is my Healer…HE IS AND ALL IS WELL…

Healing is taking place in my life.  I notice it every day.  Every day, I ask the Lord to show me new things and give me new people to talk to about Him and He does.  There has never been a better time to get to know Him.  He loves you and me from the inside-out, in the messy places, and through the good times.  I invite you to pray the sinner’s prayer with me.  God will make a difference in your life.

Heavenly Father,

I know that I have sinned and I ask You right now to take my sin, my shame, my brokenness and make me a new creation in You.  I ask for Your forgiveness and for Your healing to take place in my life.  Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place.  Thank you for saving me and making me new.  In Your name I pray, Amen…

If you prayed that prayer with me, let me know so I can put you on my prayer list.  I know God has a great plan for you.  His Word says He does.  He is going to do great things in your life just like He continues to do in mine.  Trust Him.  It’s worth it!

Letting Go…

The Best Yes – this book has liberated my thinking and has caused me to realize that there aren’t always “best” yeses, but good yeses as well. In the chapter “Consider the Trade,” Lysa Teurkurst talks about watching a tv show where an expert organizer was instructing a woman who was messy about how to get organized. Here’s an excerpt from her book:

“The organized lady taught her little lessons and then decided to help the messy lady implement what they’d just discussed. The next scene was the messy lady revealing, for all the world to see, her closet. I was about to have a slight heart attack on behalf of my new messy TV friend. I don’t even show my best friend my closet, and based on the way they set this segment up, I felt sure messy lady shouldn’t be showing hers.

I was yelling at her through the TV, “Don’t do it! Don’t go in there!” But just like the people in scary movies who open the door to the basement and start walking toward the dark unknown despite the audience’s pleas to turn back, messy girl didn’t listen to me either. There she went – straight to her crazy space called a closet, opening it up for all the world to see.

I could tell from the expression on the expert lady’s face, she was pleased with such a dramatic situation. Drama makes for good TV because crazy people like me stay tuned in. I’m like white on rice when I see crazy. And this closet was crazy. Kind of like mine.

The expert lady swirled and twirled about like a fairy godmother, commanding the wrong items be taken out and the right items be placed in color-coded order. I sat there fascinated by how her expert mind could so clearly see potential in this tangled space and know all that needed to be done to turn it into a dream closet.”

And this, my friends, is the paragraph that caught my eye, especially the last two and a half statements, “The final scene was the big reveal to the messy lady. She oohed and aahed over the progress made. And though she resisted the expert lady during the process of getting rid of many things, the final outcome was worth it. The release phase was hard. But the peace that came afterward was so worth it she stopped lamenting over those things she’d given away.”

Here’s my takeaway on what Lysa shared…The final outcome will always be worth it. It’s what we have to release in the process that is difficult. For me, I did something very difficult two nights ago. I wrote a letter. Now, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Christi, it isn’t hard to write a letter. You just sit down with a piece of paper or a notebook or a card and write.” Well, you see my friends, for me this particular letter was very painful and yet so very healing. It was a letter to my ex telling him why I missed him, except that I don’t. I have realized the only thing that I missed from our relationship was the attention from him. I wrote and told him that and more. Two different friends of mine suggested that I burn the letter and so yesterday afternoon I had a burning party. I felt as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt free for the first time in over two years.

I have realized something though about life. Never get involved in a relationship (whether it be business or personal) when you are lonely or having feelings of desperation. You will only wind up regretting getting involved and you will come to resent the other person because they cannot fill those hurting spots in your heart. God can fill and will fill those spots if we let them. He was the one that we were created to have fellowship with anyway.

What is that thing in your life that you need to release? I can assure you that you will feel the freedom if you will just let go. Dare to do something different! You’ll be glad you did…

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Dear Single,

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to share something that has been stirring in my heart for awhile now.  It seems as though this particular holiday is geared towards couples and how much our significant others should spend for one day/night.  We see the flower commercials, the candy commercials, the jewelry commercials, and jealousy and loneliness rear their ugly little heads.  We begin to focus on what’s wrong with being single, all the while not looking at the advantages to our singleness.  For so many years, I called Valentine’s Day, Single’s Awareness Day, and yet sometime in the last couple of years, I have lost that attitude.

You are probably sitting there reading this saying, “Christi, you’re kidding me. There are no advantages to being single.” Oh, my friends, there are…You just have to be intentional and look for them. I realized them and so much more when I was in a little over two year “relationship” that I just got out of.  That’s a story for another day though.  I will say this, if you are being abused – mentally, physically, emotionally, sexually, spiritually, etc. – GET OUT!!!  Get out of that relationship…You cannot change the other person and you will die trying. God did not designs relationships for abuse or someone to take advantage of another. I will share my story another time, but please GET OUT while you still can.  Go to someone you trust and talk to them and get them to help you get out and find help.  That’s another blog for another time though…Let’s get back to the advantages of being single:

It gives you time to pursue God and an intimate relationship with Him, He is the creator of the universe and He knows you better than you even know yourself.  Psalm 139 (AMP) reads like this:  “O Lord, you have searched [thoroughly] and you know me. You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off.  You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.  You have beset me and shut me in – behind and before, and You have laid Your hand upon me.  Your [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high above me, I cannot reach it.  Where could I go from Your Spirit?  Or where could I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, Surely the darkness shall cove r me and the night shall be [the only] light about me, Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.  For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth!  Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery].  Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before every they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand.  When I awoke, [could I could to the end] I would still be with You.  If You would [only] slay the wicked, O God, and the men of blood depart from me – Who speak against You wickedly; Your enemies who take Your name in vain!  Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You?  And am I not grieved and do I not loathe those who rise up against You?  I hate them with perfect hatred; they have become my enemies.  Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Singles, God knows us intimately.  He knows our thoughts before we think them and the intents of our hearts before they ever come to pass.  We can get to know Him through His word.  How else would we find out that God calls us “the apple of His eye” and that He sings over us.  He delights over each and every one of us.  He longs to have an intimate relationship with us.  Do you know Him?  Is He your Savior?  Jesus was called “The way, the truth and the life” and no one gets to the Father except through him.  Have you accepted Him as Savior?  Is He the Lord of your life or is it you?  I challenge you, if you don’t believe, figure out why.  Realize that heaven and hell are very real places and that we all will stand before God one day and we will each give an account for what we did and didn’t do.  Please, get to know Him before it’s too late…

For now, I’ll get back to what singles can be thankful for being single, but please think about it…

Singleness give you time to invest in yourself – whatever that means for you.  For me personally, that means time reading the word of God, time spent worshipping, reading fiction and non-fiction, writing, traveling, cooking and baking, taking hot baths, enjoying the sunset from my back porch, grilling out, etc.  I want to take cooking classes, cake decorating classes, dance classes, etc.  It gives you time to get to know what you enjoy and what you don’t.  I think back to the movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and there’s a scene where Julia Roberts character is figuring out what kind of eggs she likes.  For me, that’s pretty significant.  She had gone along with the men she was engaged to and liked what they like and disliked what they disliked until one man challenged her to figure out what she liked and she did.  Dare to find out what you like.  It might surprise you!

Not only can being single help you to get to know yourself, it will allow you to get to know your friends and your family so much better.  Ever want to know more about where you came from, go talk to your grandparents and actually take the time to listen to their stories.  They enjoy sharing stories about the days gone by and what they did when they were our age.  Start doing your family tree and find out about the people in your family.  Genealogy is a fascinating science.  Yes, it is a science.  There are so many intricate details about our ancestors.  They were interesting individuals.  As for your friends, find out what they enjoy and do it together.  Maybe you’ll find something new that you enjoy doing as well.

Being single, you don’t have to share the bed with anyone.  I realize that sounds like a given, but that is one of my favorite parts of being single.  You can sleep right in the middle of the bed.  You don’t have to share the covers or pillows.  You don’t have to listen to the other person, who invariably falls asleep first, snore.  You can cocoon yourself up in your covers and snore away in the middle of your bed or on the edge or the end or sideways or however you sleep.  Personally, I sleep on my tummy with an arm tucked underneath my head and an arm tucked underneath me and a leg out of the covers.  I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it.  :  )

Another advantage to being single, you can flirt without fear.  WHOO HOO!  I enjoy flirting because, for me, there’s no intent behind it.  When my friends and I used to go out to dinner, they would always accuse me of flirting with the waiter.  Hello, how else do you think we’re gonna get that free dessert that you are chowing down on?  Or those free Dr Pepper’s, Cokes, or Teas that you’re drinking?  DUH!!!  I enjoy flirting…Almost as much as I enjoy breathing and to me, it’s harmless.  You are able to put a smile on the face of your waiter or waitress for the brief moment in time that you around them.  There have been times, I’ve been stopped by the waiter that they’ve actually told me that they enjoyed waiting on me and that the next time I come into their restaurant, and they want to wait on me again.  So, why not flirt and enjoy yourself?  It’s harmless fun!  If you are married you can only flirt with your partner…Why limit myself?

When you are single, there is freedom in your career and the jobs that you take.  You don’t have that necessarily if you are married.  If you want to start your own company, you have that opportunity.  If you want to have a date with yourself, you can take yourself out to dinner and a movie.  You can do it without having to answer to anyone except your budget as to what you spent and where the money went.  You are responsible for you and whatever career path you want to experience.

I have realized that being single has made me more self-reliant.  I struggled with this for a very long time.  I never realized that I could really do anything on my own until dad had passed away and Mom had moved away and I was alone.  For me, it was a weird feeling to have no one, except me, to depend on.  I felt like I had been abandoned, but then I realized that I can do all the things that mom and dad used to do and be proud of doing them.

Don’t get me wrong, especially today, I know there are many benefits to being married, but who says that I can’t enjoy the journey I’m on right now?  I know there are disadvantages to being single, like loneliness and jealousy.  It’s what we do with those emotions that will show who we are.  I have a secret to share with you – Loneliness still occurs in marriage, so does jealousy.  Learn how to deal with them before that…Be the best, (Your name here), that you can become before you get in a relationship.  Dare to do something different and make this year the best year of your life being single.  Do something you’ve never done before – learn a foreign language, travel, go skydiving, or write that book.  The world is wide open to you and what you want to do.  And if, you find someone to share those adventures then fantastic…but don’t be afraid to go at it alone.  Have courage and don’t fear!  Maybe the Lord has surprises for you tucked inside that next adventure…

Make It Count!

As I began to pray about 2015 and all it would hold, I realized that I needed a change…A new start, a new way to look at things, a chance to get unstuck from the person I was becoming (who I didn’t like) and see a new plan and a new purpose for my future.  It all began in late July/early August 2014 when my friend, Miranda, told me I needed to read this book.  What book you might ask?  It’s called “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs.  Miranda and I had talked many times about how I felt like fear was controlling everything I did and how I was bored and tired of my life, tired of feeling stuck.  So, she convinced me to read the book.  In the book, Ms. Downs talks about going away to school, moving away from home, and even moving across the pond for a year.  She was brave, she had courage, and God blessed her doing all of those things.

Miranda had been telling me that all I needed to have was 20 seconds of insane courage to do something I had never done.  I had been battling a spirit of fear that I had allowed to settle in over me.  No matter how many times I quoted 2 Timothy 1:7  — For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and a sound mind — and Joshua 1:9 — Be strong and courageous! — I was stuck.  I never felt like it broke.  Until, I did a courageous thing, a brave thing…I went to real estate school in late August.  I walked in that first day with my head held high, even though I could feel my knees knocking.  It felt like the first day of school all over again.  I knew that I was supposed to be there no matter what.  It scared the hooey out of me and yet, I was brave.  I took my 20 seconds of insane courage (or relied on the Holy Spirit) and walked into that classroom, sat down in my assigned seat and wondered “Would they like me?  Would I like all of them?”  I didn’t take the easy way out.  I won’t lie.  That week was tough, but I did it.  I survived my adventure.  It was definitely a turning point in my life.  I knew that the Lord had provided me the opportunity and what was the worst that could happen?  I’d learn something new?  I’d meet new people?  I would get more education?  What?

You know, there’s a scene in the movie “The Holiday” when Arthur and Iris go out to dinner and Arthur tells Iris that the guy she has pined over is a schmuck for letting her go.  She agrees.  Arthur then goes on to tell Iris that she is a leading lady, but acting like the best friend like in the movies of old. Iris agrees with him again and says, “You should be the leading lady in your own life.”  The first time I watched this movie I was struck by this conversation and this scene.  All these years, I realized, I had been playing the best friend part in my own life and not the leading lady.  Well, my friends, that is all changing.

I am slowly learning how God wants me to be the leading lady in my own life and I am loving it! I’m growing and changing and realizing that my life is what I make of it.  I have to be me.  I have lived like I was broken for far too long when all that time, God was looking at me saying, “I love you unconditionally.  You are enough.  I am pleased with you, Christi.”  I put more stock into what others thought or didn’t think of me than what my heavenly Father thought of me.  I have challenged myself this year to get rid of the stinking thinking that I had and pay more attention to who and what the word of God says that I am.  I am a child of God.  I am more than a conqueror through Christ.  I am the apple of God’s eye.  God rejoices over me with singing.  He knew me in the secret place before I was ever born.  He loves me — He sent his only Son to a cross for me, for my failures, my mistakes, my inadequacies, and if I was the only person in the world, He would still go to the cross for me.  What LOVE!

So make today count!  Don’t let today pass by without being thankful for all you have.  I dare you to try and make a difference in someone else’s life today!

Changes…

As Madison set outside on the porch and watched the sun set in a blaze of glory, she was reminded again how great God was and how blessed she was to be able to experience His creation.  Her awareness was heightened and she was awestruck, watching the darkening sky as it filled with fiery reds, brazen oranges, softening pinks, golden slivers of color as they melted and merged into serene violets and deepening purples of the tranquil night sky as it filled with the pinpoints of stars.  Birds began to sing their final songs of the evening as the cacophony of night sounds overtook the day.  The cooling breeze of late summer slowed down in a melody all its own.  She listened to the buzz of locusts, she heard the chirping of crickets, and she admired the flickering tell-tale signs of lightening bugs as they lit up the darkening summer sky.

The wind tickled her nose with the smell of charcoal and fire from the neighbor’s barbecue just down the street.  She closed her eyes and enjoyed the aroma of the dying days of summer.  Between the tempting smells of grilled meat emitting from her neighbor’s backyard, the scent of chlorine wafting on the air, and the rich fragrance of the flowers planted around her, she became overwhelmed by the intensity of emotion that she felt.  Thankfulness spilled from her heart as her awareness of the vibrant colors of the flowers planted in her backyard and the beauty of the sky overwhelmed and overtook her senses.  She savored the tantalizing aroma of the steaks, chicken, and pork on the grill while the sounds of summer’s waning days embraced in a symphonic cocoon as the crispness of fall announced its arrival in the cooler night air.

She let the last remaining moments of that beautiful summer soak into her body, into her heart, and into her very soul – down into the depths of everything she was, is and ever would be. As the night continued its descent, she noticed a distinct stirring of change in the air.  She didn’t know if it was in her soul or in her imagination.  All she knew was that everything about her seemed to have changed in the blink of an eye – her thoughts, her emotions, even her heart – all were different.

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This is an opening to a story that I started long ago and have not yet put on the finishing touches.  I wonder sometimes if it is because I know I have changed since I began this story over eight years ago.  Every character in this particular story is a representation of me or someone I know.   Did I mean for it to happen that way?  No, but it did.  I see myself in every character that I write.  Although, some have surprised me.  It is those at the end of the day that give me the courage to continue.  It is almost as if they are screaming at me “Make me real.  Make them understand me.  I want to be heard.”  My characters have changed as I have changed.  My life is different than it was eight years ago.  My dad is gone.  He was alive when I first started writing this story.  He read some of the earliest drafts of it.  Maybe that is why it is so hard to let these characters go.   He always encouraged me to become better than I was.  I wish I could bottle up time and have a little more with him.  Don Taylor was the best man I know.

Will I ever finish this particular story?  Maybe…I think the storyline for me is too personal, the characters too real, and the plot line too jumpy…You tell me…Would you read it?  Would it catch your attention?  Would it envoke emotion in you that somehow, someway you would finish the book off in a day or two.  Would it be one of those that you would sit down and devour and be disappointed when you were done?  Let me know…

What Do You Deserve? I Deserve It All…

Disclaimer:

What I am choosing to share in today’s blog is very painful for me, but I am learning that sharing brings healing, change, and growth.  I am also realizing that my mindset is the biggest change I have to make.  I struggle with my thoughts and in my thought life.  I know that the things I think can either bolster my faith and give me courage or it can feed into my fears and insecurities.  I pray as I share the journey of what I have seen and done and my perception of myself and others, you’ll see yourself in my struggles — not exactly like what I have faced and continue to face, but similar things.  For those of you who have encouraged me along the way, I appreciate it more than this wordsmith can put into words.  May God bless each and every one of you above and beyond to overflowing.  For those who are struggling, I am here for you — a shoulder to cry on (I’m a good crier, I can ugly cry with the best of them), a phone call away, and am good for a hug or encouraging words.  I love and appreciate each and every one of you who find time to take the time to read what I write.

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A couple of months ago, I was watching one of the extreme weight loss shows on tv and the trainer asked his contestant what he deserved.  This particular contestant replied, “I deserve it all…”  That question and the reply shook me to the very core of who I am and the tears began to flow.

As I sat there in my nice comfy chair, eating my double cheeseburger and large fries, it hit me…I realized I didn’t believe I deserve it all.  I didn’t believe that I deserved anything good at all.  It didn’t matter to me that in all the years I had been a
Christian, I had let fear, anger, bitterness, disappointment, hurt, unmet expectations, etc, take over my mind and my heart.  I had let the lies of the enemy determine how I felt about myself and how I perceived the world around me.  It distorted who I thought I was and those lies have caused many nights of headaches because of the tears I have shed because I proclaimed myself not good enough.

I have always been a big-boned girl who grew into a big-boned woman.  When we moved to Canyon, I was made fun of because of my size. I was teased unmercifully, bullied would be a better definition.  We didn’t call it bullying back then though.  They were just teasing and I was told that I had to take it or just to ignore it. I would like to say that it quit after 5th grade, but it didn’t.  It got worse. None of my teachers or the counselors would do anything to stop it because they didn’t want to get involved.  Many times I heard, you’ll just have to take it and we can’t do anything about it — that was from my teachers and administrators who were supposed to protect me.

Hearing how fat I was and how I wasn’t good enough made a dent in this young girl’s mind and in her heart.  I came home after school and would cry or would stand in front of my mirror and tell myself how ugly I was and how no one would ever want me. I hated who I was and who I was becoming.  Not only was I made fun of at school, it happened at church too.  Did any of the youth leaders know?  No, I never told them.  All I wanted was to have a real friend.  Instead, I tried to buy people things or drinks or dinner, thinking that if I was buying then they were my friends.  So I became a people pleaser.  I tried to make everyone happy with me and if they weren’t, I tried to fix it.  Even if it wasn’t my fault.

it wasn’t until just a few years ago, God was taking me though the wilderness (only I didn’t realize it then) and I was feeling very alone.  We had been having revival meetings at our church and one night after service, my Sunday school teacher and favorite prayer warrior came and sat down beside me.  She spoke truth to me that night and I felt healing begin.  She told me, “It isn’t funny when your father and mother forsake and abandon you.  Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  He sticks closer than a brother.”  From that night on, my perspective is changing.  There are days that I am more confident than others and there are days I intentionally stay away from everyone, but then there are days when I KNOW WHO I BELONG TO and you can’t convince me differently.

The more I learn about the Lord and who I am in Christ, the less I want to be like the world.  I want Jesus to saturate my heart and my life, so that all people see is Him in me.  That’s the longing of my heart.  I want to be so like Jesus that people know who I belong to.  I remember a statement that the same Sunday school teacher/prayer warrior says quite a bit and it fits.  She says, “Study to be quiet…” She’s talking about the word of God.  When you study the word and then meditate on it, God will teach you things, you never could learn by listening to others.  That’s what I want — to study to be quiet.

I know I fail and I am human and I am trying every day to become better than I was the day before.  I don’t have to live up to your standards, but the ones God has for me.  I don’t have to live under your condemnation or judgement, but I will meet my heavenly Father as judge one day.  Not to say that I don’t want correction, but when you say it in condemnation like you are better than the other person, that’s when your nugget of wisdom will fall on deaf ears.  I want to be the best Christi Taylor I can be and I want each and every one of you to keep me accountable.

So, I do deserve it all…I am a child of the Most High God. I am joint heir with Christ.  I will rule and reign with him forever.  I am not perfect, but I am striving toward my calling and the work He has for me to do.  I will get there.  God is taking care of me…