Humble

:having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance:

Nothing like a little humility to set me straight.

After my last post I started the research journey of lent. Which seriously means I read Facebook posts and blogs. God speaks through people, so those are total accountable resources! Right? Real stories! I opened my bible too….online….on my computer screen, for truth. I pulled sources together, cross referenced things, listened to God.

I heard this over everything:

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18

I’m pretty sure this was God covering my mouth and telling me nicely to shut up. I had to take a step back and ask myself, “Mandy, who are you fasting for? What is your purpose in this? It’s not even a real fast, what are you doing? Who’s applause do you want?”

Then I felt conviction. I felt humility. I felt a little dirty.

In came grace. Right on time. Real grace. I said He would catch me. He sat me down, rubbed my head and said, “Oh child of mine, you have so much to learn. Great enthusiasm though, keep it up!” Then I woke up humbled, renewed.

I started this thing to learn, learn I have and learning I am and will continue to do so. But I will do so quietly. I won’t complain to co workers or mention it at home. I will just do it with obedience and with silence. Of course after this blog entry I will start. I was convicted again on even writing about this, but after prayer and reflection and listening to God I believe I am to share it. To walk with Christ is to give glory in all we do to God. I just learned something HUGE and was caught beautifully by His grace.

I open myself to wisdom, ask for it and seek it. With wisdom comes humility.

I am humbled.

So strange to say and an even odder concept….I am honored to have been embarrassed by my words because the wisdom that came from my humility has humbled me and has made me in awe of my creator. God is so beautiful and so full.

And this is the purpose of a fast that I have come to realize….to have a spiritual awakening. To reflect. To curl up on God’s lap and say “God, I need you right now, more than ever. Catch me. Teach me. I love you. You fill me. You are not of this word. Thank you.” and to do so quietly. Intimacy with Yahweh.

More truth could be revealed and it will humble me more and I will be grateful.

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Spirit Spit

I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was up at 5:30.The only pink shirt I own was about to be all up on this bod! I’m a themed dresser and I hate pink, but it was women’s conference day, day 2! Walking Confidently. I was fired up and in pink.

We were completely loved on and poured into the night before by the spirit. I imagined this was roughly 1/10th of the energy Peter felt as he huddled in a room with the other disciples and some believers as the Holy Spirit entered into them via God’s fire spit. God spirit spit melted into their skin, instantly penetrating their veins and filling their hearts. It was good. God spits fire, he really does. It’s in the word….you can’t deny it.

 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:3-4

Now, I didn’t see any actual fire tongues, but I could feel my heart heat up and beat faster. It was totally a Book of Acts moment. It was good and I was ready for more.

My oldest had other plans. I woke him up Saturday with praises. He has many gifts and talents, but winning is NOT one of those! He makes running look hard. Like seriously, you see this kid run and you will never want to run again because it just looks like pain. He was at a birthday party the night before and played laser tag. He came in last place, but was so excited that when he reminisced the story, I had just assumed he did well. It wasn’t until the morning, when I found the score card that I realized he was in last place. My heart melted. God doesn’t make us winners baby, but he surely gave us the gift of good sportsmanship!

Then…

“Eli can you turn down the ipod (Chris Tomlin music of course) please, people are still sleeping…..Eli more please, I can still here it on the other side of the house.”

“Fine!” He screamed as he turned it off and slammed it on the table. This ipod is hanging onto life. It’s barely there….literally barely there, half of the screen is already chipped off and somehow it still works. Like, you can’t be slamming and dropping this thing. It probably works because Chris Tomlin possessed the dang thing to play just HIS MUSIC! AHHH, he haunts me!

Well this was, of course, not ok and resulted in the ipod being taken. Moans. Then,  there was no milk because I forgot to get some. Moans. So Starbucks brownie for breakfast day! Calories don’t count during Women’s Conference day so game on! Cheers! I ordered chocolate milk and not hot chocolate. Moan. The tears. The tears. I was just making Eli’s life hell apparently. I finally broke and yelled….hard. More tears…and Tomlin singing about waterfalls and streams of mercy. It was just too much. Just way to much water, AND IT WAS WOMENS CONFERENCE DAY!!! I should be the one with the waterworks on while having some spiritual, fire tongue, spirit spit, God revelation moment darn it! Oh the irony.

Against all odds, he somehow remained in my car and I threw my hands up and laughed, eventually. I said, “Boy! You can’t rain on my parade. If you don’t want to eat that’s cool. If you don’t want your chocolate milk that’s cool too! More sugar for me because today calories don’t count!” We marched into that conference messy. We still showed up and we showed up ugg–aaa–lleee. He looked like a meth addict all red faced, eyes swollen and 4 scabs on his face from who knows what, boyhood perhaps? We were a sight! The baby just woke up and was in pajamas still and me…well I was angry and exhausted, already. I ran to my friends and asked what was wrong with my child!? They laughed and said absolutely nothing.

I was reminded. God doesn’t call us to become perfect people. He doesn’t call perfect people. There aren’t even any of those! He calls the messy. He calls the meth addicts and the meth addict look a likes. He calls the moms who fall apart and yell. He draws close those who throw up their hands in defeat. He grabs those hands and pulls them out of the water and guides their feet to walk on it! We struggle so He can shine. If we didn’t have trouble, God couldn’t show up. There is no miracle to take place if nothing is in need of some miracle making. He doesn’t remove us from adversity. He shows up in it. So then when we move and live and love in those terrible, ugly life moments people see a God at work in us. We praise him in the rain and the waterfalls of tears and He shows up and wipes them away. He never promises us a life of ease, but He promises us comfort and peace. Jesus says:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33

So take heart my friends. Seek his comfort and it will be given. Show up messy and he will love on you. I walked out of that conference with confidence in my chaos. I am a mess, a beautiful mess, and that is ok. In my imperfect reflection  I can see His perfection because He shines through my cracks and brings light to the world. I just have to sing His glory loud and proud, give credit to where it is due. It’s not me that does the good stuff, it is Him in me. I am the one who yells, He is the one who redeems it. He showed me comfort through love from His people, my friends, who laughed and said “girl me too, you are not alone!”  And that my friends, is a truth that I can walk confidently in.

Guide to Learning of Self (Mandy Edition)

People often question, “Who am I?” “What do I value?” “What are my morals?” “What kind of person do I want to be?” and so on. Often, these times of “self discovery” lead to trips around the world, or on journeys in your (mostly) single life. You meet people and leave people, become a gypsy. It’s all under the “YOLO” “Self-seeking” “I’m finding myself” “All about me time” “Imma do me” attitude.

…I think this is crap. But this is me thinking.

AND I think these are all beards. They are all cover ups. Beard A way to run. A way to avoid. It is a way to become someone you are not. It is a way to hide behind the excitement. When someone says something you don’t like you say “Peace out!” and throw up your deuces. Yes, you now have a pocket full of experiences and have enjoyed life. Pat yourself on the back. But the path of self discovery, I believe, doesn’t truly begin until 2 things happen.

1) Marriage

Nobody will be quicker to point out how bad you suck at life than your spouse. Those late nights used to be ok. The socks on the floor and pile of dirty clothes left in the bathroom after you showered used to be fine and unnoticed. You quickly realize that consequences follow actions and that they come in good and bad versions. Once, in your past and pre married life, you used to preach on forgiveness and on love….then you realize what a hypocrite you are because these ideas quickly retreat and hide under the bed when confrontation evokes. It used to be so easy. You used to love from afar, but now you must be accountable on every little thing.Oh boy! Look out! This means if you don’t cook dinner because you were to busy saving the world of the PTA, guess what!? Who cares? Dinner isn’t cooked so the world at home ends! Let’s see how well you can be all loving when that happens!

2) Children

Have you ever seen a mini human become so angry and loose patience in an instant just because 2 lego pieces wouldn’t connect correctly, or because the homework computer program won’t connect properly? Connection problems grrrr.  I’m sure you have seen this. Then there is that EUREKA moment… aka SHIT moment! You think, “I do the same thing!” Ever hear your child spew words of hatred because they were taught by example to snap when they get angry and to fire back with words? Have you seen your child protect what is theirs because they weren’t taught to share? Or if they were, they were taught out of discipline and not understanding. They share out of fear, instead of from their heart because they were never taught that human connection is worth more than their toy. Want even more of a challenge to finding self? Be a single mom. Then you can’t blame your child’s mouth on your spouse or their messy habits on them either. You are their #1 influence. BAM!

Self discovery….is mostly discovered with others.

Of course I have a perfect marriage and perfect children so I can’t relate to the above. My only defect is that I am simply to awesome. The fingers don’t all point to me here.

Fingers

Life is a path to self discovery and I am learning that I am just beginning to learn who I am.

Search my God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. -Psalm 139:26

Failure is always an option, but it is never final. There is always grace and there is always hope. In all that good stuff there are struggles. The struggles are the cracks and in the cracks the light will shine. C’est la vie!

 

Fruits of the Spirit + Courage

A co-worker gave me a calendar last Christmas from Hawaii as a gift. It has hung in my cubicle all year, most of the time on months past. I took it down to toss it, it was still hanging on the month of October. I flipped through the pictures and thought, this is pretty and I don’t want to throw it away. I saved it from garbage death. After all, scouts are thrifty! (#scoutlife)

Courage. It has been a word that keeps reoccurring lately. On Monday, I either read or heard that the root word of courage is ceur, or heart. Then I went to the dictionary and read the official definition: “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” Put those ideas together, they make a baby:

Courage is telling my story whole heartedly.

I doodled this definition and hung it on my cubicle wall. I grabbed the calendar and tore out a pretty picture of the beach. I cut out COURAGE and hung it by my little doodle. My friend Marlo swung by and complimented my word. She said, “I need one that says PATIENCE!” So I made one. I didn’t stop there. I cutout LOVE and JOY.

courage

Then I thought to myself, or God spoke to me. I like the latter idea better, He speaks in thoughts and this was totally not my idea anyways. I have to give Him the credit and the glory on this…He said “fruits of the spirit.” Then I thought, “gosh God…genius!!!”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. -Galatians 5:22-23

So I cut and cut and cut all week. It was my little project that I would turn to in between the phone calls and the emails and the boring work stuff. It became a beautiful release.

Yesterday while leaving the house, I snapped at my son. He peed on the toilet and was lying about it. Both pet peeves. When I got to work I looked at my phone and saw a text message, “stop slamming doors please.” This did NOT go over well in my head. I don’t even remember slamming doors, for the record. I wrote back multiple times without hitting SEND, thankfully! I spewed bad words to my husband and to a coworker and 2 dear friends. I wear my life on my sleeve, I can’t keep my emotions hidden. I turned to people I knew would tell me to let it go, and that it wasn’t even a big deal, and that I was only upset because of the real underlying issues, and that I shouldn’t take it out via text and blah blah blah. I have the best of friends and husband!

I started distracting myself to keep me away from my phone. I worked. I put some tunes in my ears. The thoughts kept coming and over powering every effort I was throwing out to get them to hush. Then I had a break in the work flow and turned to my last word. The last fruit of the spirit. SELF-CONTROL. And I laughed out loud, not just lolled…..way to go God! I see what You did there! Very clever. My anger suddenly stopped. Ha go figure! God is cool.

fruits

These words became a ministry. Marlo asked for patience and it was given. Self control drilled me in the face. It was a co workers birthday and I gave her FABULOUS and she gave me a smile.

Then an interesting co worker came by. He was in the army and has a bit of a short temper. He reminds me of the high school quarter back who peaked senior year and is now stuck in a job with a bitter attitude. But I like him, nice guy..sometimes. He complimented me on the words and hinted that I make him one. I choose BE STRONG. As in army strong…because ya know he’s an army guy. He just paid me another visit after noticing the period I cut out and placed at the end. Since his was a sentence and not a word it needed a period. I choose this small little tree hanging on by its roots. It is white knuckle rooting the side of this hill. Strong little thing. He likes the tree. He also mentioned that he once lived in Hawaii, which is the location of the photo words. Connection.

God is smiling on us and in us. He is softening hearts. I reorganized my cube today and put my words in a place that all can see as they pass by. I just found the same calendar in a coworkers cube on the verge of garbage death and I saved it. God has 11 new lives to touch with words.

The words will come. They always do with time.

Have a God-willed week friends. Will, not fill. That isn’t a typo.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:33-34

 Fruits explained:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:13-26

Esther and the Lorax

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” -Bible, Book of Esther

And….

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -Dr. Suess

I live with my in-laws. Humbling to say the least. Daily it is a challenge raising 2 boys and a marriage. Yes, I am raising a marriage as well. We are baby newlyweds, and my marriage takes more attention and love than my children require. Kids are easy, but adults….oh man. Not my domain. My in-laws are from Vietnam. When everyone comes home from work my older son and I are often in our own little world, softly speaking English at the end of the table. We are the foreigners in a strange land. It is not a bad thing. I love and adore them and the culture immensely. But this brings challenges, lots of challenges, mostly to my pride.

I believe whole heartedly that God guides you to it to bring you through it. Cheesy and cliché I know! I have no idea what His purpose is for keeping me here, but I know it’s something. I have learned more patience, humility and more about love in the 2.5 years I have lived here. I have learned to put God first, to live for Him and not for others or even for myself. I have learned what it really means to love…haha sort of, only on my good days.

As I read through Esther (again) I see God’s hand in EVERYTHING! Just as I do as I look through my life. Interestingly enough, this is 1 of 2 books in the bible where God is not mentioned, but His presence and hand is clearly felt. I have a need to control EVERYTHING. This book is a constant reminder that I am not in control, HE IS! Although I may not feel Him, or understand what He is doing, I have to breath, trust and keep trudging the road to my happy destiny. God works and prepares other’s hearts as well as my own. I have no idea what He is doing around me or in me. If you have not read Esther I urge you too. It is so so good.

This is to be the year we FINALLY will purchase our own home. This will FINALLY be the year I enter full adulthood because in my warped mind it is a home that makes me an adult…?

Until then and probably even then,  I am and will be clinging to Esther and to the Lorax. They give me hope. Well, God gives me their stories….at least Esther’s anyway, and in their stories I find hope.They keep me focused.

If I don’t do ____, someone else will get to participate in God’s story there. Someone will do what I don’t. I have the privilege and the honor to be where I am and to do what I am doing thanks to God grace and His hand placing me into His will, His story.

Love is an unspoken language. Human compassion is universal and breaks boundaries created by our fears.

Do Over

2015, here is what I am going to do with the first 10 days of you. I am going to blog you.

Resolution: to love.

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Yeah, yeah, this was my 2014 resolution as well. It’s broad indeed, but so much needed. Jesus says over and over to love. Always love love love. I’m choosing to love. I am going to love hard, even when it isn’t deserved, because let’s be real…when is love ever really deserved? Love isn’t something we are entitled too. Love doesn’t just happen. It needs to be practiced. It needs to be mastered and that takes time, energy and failures.

So I am going to love.
This year I stumbled upon this Do Over movement with Jon Acuff. He’s a funny guy, I like him. My life is peachy, but it can get moldy, just as peaches do. So recently it has needed some pruning and other TLC maintenance. You can read more about this fun Do Over thing here: http://acuff.me/2014/12/want-media-list/. I am sure there is a fancy way to insert that, but blogging is new to me. My 8 year old could do it for me. He is my tech guru, but he is not around…so there. #feelinglazy My 10 day challenge thingy ma bob is going to be to blog it out.
I don’t like my blog. I started this thing and it has turned into something I am, but also not. Yes I am a recovering addict, but I am so much more than that. There is so much life beyond that fact and although the endless road of recovery is one of my favorite walking paths, it is not the only one I walk on. Sometimes I like to jog too, or ride my horse. There are so many other paths and means of travel. Shit I even drive on roads in my car and in other peoples vehicles! I started this blog because I find humor in the tiny cracks in the sidewalks where the ants build their homes. I laugh at my life. It is a blast to live. My life is peachy, but it isn’t ripe. There is sadness, my marriage sucks but we love each other. We just are 2 imperfect people trying to live a perfect life and it just doesn’t work most days. I live with my in laws, who are lovely people, but very different. They are Vietnamese and love to blast karaoke on school/work nights, don’t know how to speak quietly even when the person they are speaking with is directly in front of them, and they believe the world revolves around them. If they need something we are expected to drop whatever we are doing and serve them. But I promise they are amazing and the most loving people, just very difficult to live with. Life isn’t what I expected, definitely not what I envisioned, but it is so much more. This life is what I want to blog about. My grace filled, colorful, catching monster big sting rays and cutting them up with my husband to eat, feeding my son raw salmon and kale chips because he is now a pescatarian life is what I intended this blog to be. My life of recovery is beautiful, but I don’t and can’t stay there. I have to be present in my present.
So here we go 2015, 10 day Do Over Challenge.
Hey LOOK! I did it! Do Over
2015

That.

I forgot THAT. My memories have become jumbled, fabricated and rationalized. I suppose that’s the inner addict. I have this AUH-MAZ-ZING talent of rationalizing ANYTHING! I can take a situation and turn it into something it totally is not. I’m sure everyone can relate to that skill and I am sure it is not unique to only me, although I would like to think it is. Why, I do not know?

I forgot what it looked like. I forgot the smell. I forgot how the brain fires ideas, thoughts, dreams, feelings, wants and needs all at once. POW! I forgot how the body can’t sit still due to the force of your brain triggering everything all at once which ignites this huge explosion of bull shit to heave out of your mouth with a force so hard that your limbs flail all about the room. I forgot the euphoria of it. I forgot how quickly one shot to the arm erases all of the chills, the tears, the darkness and replaces it with a cape of invincibility and feeling of “I am awesomeness!” I forgot how once the vein was found the world suddenly made sense. I forgot how it made your pupils so tiny that the color of your eyes pop from your face. I forgot how it felt to wake up in a ball in the backseat of my car hearing you scream for me to wake up through the sobs and what the fuck’s.

I saw the you and I saw the me. I saw the people that my new life had misplaced. I saw the emotions that I bottled up and stored away. I took that life chapter and loaded it onto my bookshelf to sit and collect dust, never to be read or seen again…well except on occasion when I would flash the fancy sequel to the book, the one where I become sober, the one I would show off as if it were a purple heart that I earned. And in the telling of the sobriety tale, the struggle story would sit on the shelf, full of dust with only an honorable mention.

It all came back to me and I couldn’t breath. Mandy shooting heroin: Chapter 1.

God has taken all the want of drugs from my heart, but only the want for the drug. Friggin miracle status right there! For that I am so grateful. All of the shortcomings are still there, I promise that!  But sometimes I forget. I forget the extremes of my used to be daily life, how I used to dance on an always erupting fault line. I get so caught up in this stupid little life I have created of materialistic bullshit that surrounds me. LOL like seriously! It was only 5 years ago that I would go 5 days without a shower. I couldn’t function as a person. I didn’t understand how people could laugh when completely sober.

I remembered the struggle to get sober. I remembered all of the bad.

I remember why I had to leave you there when you wouldn’t come with me.

Too easily I forget where I came from and what really is important in life. It is ok if my sons room is temporarily a mess and that the carpet is covered in toys. Thanks to Gods grace and mercy I am here to pick up the pieces and teach him how to do so in my actions.

Nothing is bigger than God. He pulled me out. He taught and is teaching me how to live. He has blessed me with unconditional love and a family. I can’t take this for granted. Daily I need to be on my knees remembering where I was and how His promises have given me sobriety and hope. There is no point in fear, anger or hate. I don’t have time for that.