family pic

family pic

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Crazy enough to handle a crazy life

I think it's time to continue on with my story :) I'm going to fast forward a bit to this past chapter of being a single mom.

I've shared before that I never pictured myself as a single mom. I had a vision of the family we would be, but eventually had to let go of that vision and accept the reality of what things were. I would complain to the Lord "Why me?", but deep down inside I knew that HE had equipped me to handle this season of my life. 

Before I even became a single mom I was always up for an adventure. God has just created me with a personality that loves change and challenges. If I'm honest, I never did things the traditional easy way even before I became a single mom. Part of this has to do with the way I grew up. My dad once took us on a vacation to South Dakota. We literally just hopped in the van and left. No hotels were booked ahead of time and we just took our time exploring on the way down. I also remember waking up on random Saturday mornings to one of my parents telling me "Wake up we are going out to eat for breakfast in 5 minutes". I would proceed to jump out of bed, frantically throw on some clothes, and run out the door. When I was 18 I moved states away and the prospect of not knowing hardly anyone excited me. I wanted to become a missionary and had no fear of moving to a new country and adjusting to a new culture. Most people would say "I hope God just doesn't cal me to Africa", and here I was hoping He would call me to Africa or the Amazon jungle. After having Carter, I drove up to Indiana by myself with a 2 year old and newborn. I'd attempt to nurse him, change diapers, and take my 2 year old potty at our gas stops. After 10+ hours of driving alone in the car we made it... with a screaming baby in the back and a two year old having a temper tantrum with an m&m stuck to his chin.

The list goes on and on.... Some of my ventures were great... and many..oh so many of them not so great. 

So as you can see.... I've never done things the easy traditional way. After becoming a single mom I would think "Why, God, do things have to be so hard?". But He would remind me that I would have a crazy life even if I wasn't a single mom... because that is just how I am. He had given me to personality to handle life as a single mom. And just when life would seem unbearable He would send someone to help me out. 

Now I can see in hindsight God's active working all throughout my life preparing me for this past season of my life. I just had to take a step back from the present and read the past.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Relinquishing Control

My name is Christina. I am a woman... and I am a controller. I'm throughly convinced that control issues and being a woman go hand in hand. Why you ask? Because of our blessed blessed ancestor, Eve. She had everything we long for... intimate fellowship with God in His actual presence and a painless sinless life in the garden. I LONG to be in the presence of the Lord. I still have spiritual fellowship with him, but there is a part of my heart that will never be completely content here on earth and is left longing to be with him physically. She had this, so what happened. She felt like God was holding out on her... so she took matters in her own hands and ate the forbidden fruit. This soon tied in with her curse...

"... and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." (Genesis 3:16b)

Deep inside she longs for her husband to lead her and love her just as she is. So why is this a curse? It is a curse because it requires vulnerability. She has to expose her heart to receive love, which could result in rejection. This not only could result in rejection, but it must certainly would result in rejection from time to time because her husband now has a sin nature. So what does she do about this? She must take matters in her own hands.

She seeks to control her relationships to ensure love and acceptance. She manipulates her circumstances to prevent rejection. She puts a wall around her heart so she will never be hurt again. She carefully denies and hides the tender vulnerable areas in her heart. She must be tough... She feels weak at times, but must hide that because it will result in rejection. She reaches out in her relationships... out of manipulation to receive love in return. Overall, she must stay in control of her relationships. She cannot depend on others because she is not in control of how they will respond to her. She longs for unconditional love... but that is not something she can control... so she settles for whatever kind of love she can receive from her own efforts.

So yeah, that me. The past few weeks have just been filled with a tornado of events that I cannot control. Many of these events involved my children. Those of you who are mothers would agree that we want to be in control of everything that happens to our kiddos. But sometimes they get hurt and there is nothing we can do about it... and we long to take their pain away. In my sinful nature I have scrambled to regain control and have tried to take matters in my own hands, but the Lord kept whispering in my ear, "Child let go... let me handle this." I envisioned myself telling Him "No, they need me to help them." (Guess I'm a little more like Eve that I want to admit). Now I'm in a place where there is no denying that I'm out of control. I'm completely utterly dependent on God to come through for my family. Honestly, it is a scary place to be, but how awesome is it to know that He won't let me down. He knows all my weaknesses and ugly parts of my heart, yet promises to take care of me... if I will just let Him.

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My piano shipwrecks

video

Many of you know that I play the piano. I love playing. It's a wonderful stress reliever for me. There can be utter chaos in my living room with all the boys.. screaming, wrestling, etc... and somehow I can just shut it all out when I put my hands on the keys. I enter my own little peaceful musical island when I   play. I know what you are thinking... I would love to hear her perform sometime. The problem is that I cannot bring others on this island with me. We shipwreck on the way.

I discovered this at one of my first piano recitals. I was going to play a beautiful Chopin song and became so nervous that I literally had an emotional breakdown before I played... in the hallway sobbing because I was so nervous. So naturally you are thinking... I bet she played just fine. Nope. Some people perform well when they are nervous.. and some people shipwreck. I simply crash.

So lets fast forward a couple of years. I was chosen to perform in our junior high classical piano category in competition with other schools. I sat down at the piano. Played the first page by memory.... then I played the first page again by memory... and played it one more time... and then I got up and left the room. I forgot the last two pages.

A year later I played offertory in front of the church. Halfway through the song I became so nervous that my hands AND knees were furiously shaking. It was so bad that I seriously contemplated just getting up and leaving halfway through the song. I fumbled through the piece and pressed on.

Fast forward a few more years where I am grown and married in new church. I sat down at the piano to play offertory... started the usual shaking of the hands and knees... went to turn the page and dropped the book.

A few months after that I decided to sing in front of church and accompany myself on the piano. I was singing and went to turn the page... and I didn't drop the book this time... I knocked over the microphone.

That didn't stop me. I chose another song to sing and accompany myself on the piano to. I sat down and noticed the mic was too low to the piano. The music pastor went to adjust it for me. I started singing and the microphone slowly began to fall.... until in was laying on the piano. So there I am trying to tilt my head low while singing and attempted to press the keys around the mic.

You would think all of this would keep me on my private musical island, but I haven't given up yet. Someday I will turn this into a public island regardless of how many shipwrecks I have to endure on the way!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Secure enough to be insecure

I'm convinced that all women battle with insecurity. In the very core of her being, she asks herself "Am I lovable?". Her experiences in life either answer that question with a simple "yes" or "no". They tell her "I'm lovable if I _____ (fill in the blank)" and "I'm not lovable if I _____."

One woman spends her life trying to do the things that would validate that she is loved and another woman puts up a wall around her heart, convincing herself that she needs no one to validate her worth. The first woman thinks she is lovable if she physically looks good, or is agreeable with others, or stays neat and organized, or is a hard worker, or is desirable to men, or has one that calls her a best friend, etc. She pours her life into whatever she has filled her "blank" in with, which results in a strand of heartbreaks and rejection, ultimately reaffirming her fear that she is not lovable.

The second woman has tasted the sting of rejection and the pain of being told or shown that she is unlovable. She will never let anyone cause her to feel unlovable ever again... so she puts up a wall around her heart. She is tough. She is strong. She is in control. She needs nobody, but feels as though everybody needs her. But beneath her tough exterior is a longing for the little girl inside of her to be loved. She longs for the sensitive fragile areas of her heart to be loved, but knows the risk involved in exposing those areas.

We cannot truly love others if we are seeking for them to validate our worth. We may do nice things for them or look sacrificial, but our motive isn't because we love them. We "sacrifice" so they will validate that we are worth loving. Ultimately, we are manipulating them to affirm our worth. We also cannot truly love others and let others in to love us if we put up a wall around our heart.
We can try to get rid of our strategies to affirm our validation, exposing our flaws and imperfections. We can let down the wall around our heart and let others see our fragile heart, showing our neediness and longing to be loved. But we will still be affirmed in our sinful world that we are not lovable. This is typically what we are told to do in counseling. Expose your heart to others and let them see the real you. Risk rejection.... not only risk it, but know you will face it.

So how do we do this?! We have to know who we are in Christ. I've been studying though Ephesians and I've realized that Paul spends the first chapter thoroughly explaining the position believers have in Christ. He first explains to them who they are. He didn't do this by accident. He knew they could not live out their faith practically until they understood the core of who they were. They were chosen, redeemed, declared righteous and holy. Once they understood who there were, THEN they could live it out practically.

Yes, Christian women are still going to struggle with insecurity, but they are given the tools to combat those insecurities. God affirms that they are lovable.  Ephesians 1:5 states that "In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will" This shows that they are not lovable if _____. Christ adopted them simply "in love"... simply because He loves them. It shows that they will never be unlovable if _____. Christ knew the deepest darkest places of their heart and still chose to adopt them as His daughters. 

So I challenge you to be real... admit your insecurities, expose your heart, expose your weaknesses, let others love OR reject the real you. Yes, you will hurt. That's just part of loving others well, but you know in the back of your mind they cannot crush the core of who you are: a chosen, loved, and holy daughter of Christ. 









Monday, April 22, 2013

My name is Christina and I am___________.

If you were to write down a one sentence description of yourself that only you would see... what would you write? 

I am ___________ (fill in the blank).

Did you answer lonely, or unloveable. Maybe you have had a glimpse of love this week and could put loved. Or are you broken and dysfunctional? Do you define yourself based off your current circumstances... or maybe by your past regrets? 

To be completely honest, I struggle understanding who I am in Christ and how He views me. I so desperately want to understand what God sees when He looks at me. To understand my identity in Him. I know in my head that He sees me as His beloved child, redeemed by Christ's blood. I know that He doesn't label me based off my current or past sins. But, sometimes I don't feel that in my heart. Sometimes I just feel worthless. I don't want to feel that way and I pray that God will change those feelings, and I read about my identity in His Word.... and sometimes that ends with me feeling of worth and value. But it isn't over. I am plagued with feelings of worthlessness the next day or even the next couple of hours and I have to sort them all out with the Lord over...and over....again. Even just admitting my insecurities makes me struggle with worthlessness, because I so wish I was confident in who I am in the Lord. Essentially, I feel worthless for feeling that I'm worthless! BUT that's just where I am. I wish I had confidence in my identity in Christ... and I am daily striving to understand my identity. Somedays it clicks for me, and somedays it just doesn't. But I'm not going to give up trying to understand the way God views me.. and I think that is all that God is asking me to do.

I've been thinking about how I identify myself especially this past week and have realized that I often let my past define who I currently am. I will think of a past mistake that cannot be erased or forgotten and let that fill me with shame and regret. And then at times I go a step further... I let that shame define me as a bad and worthless person. What if...when my past was remembered, instead of letting feelings of shame and worthlessness define me...I was filled with joy and thankfulness because God sees me as His precious forgiven daughter? And what if... as brothers and sisters in Christ... we looked at each other through the lens of their identity in Christ? What freedom that would bring to us and to our family in Christ! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Food stamps and Future Plans

I thought I'd take a time out from my story and write about what the Lord is currently doing in my life.

A couple of days ago I broke down and put together a budget. Things were looking a bit bleak with just the essentials, so I had to get a plan together. I was going to have to get on food stamps.

Yesterday I swung by the department of social services to apply. Embarrassed, I walked into the office hoping to get in and out of there (Little did I know this would be a three hour stop). As I was standing in line I tried to justify why it was ok for me to be on government assistance. I thought about how I was working my way off help, yes, this was for people like me. Then it hit me that I had told myself those words a few years ago. Ugh... I thought about how I'm no better than the people I was standing in line with... even the guy with a huge devil embroidered on his pants :P After spending three hours with my thoughts I found consolation in my education and plans to finish my degree. In a few years I would have a steady career and wouldn't be so needy.

I came home and listened to a podcast about our identity in Christ. He gave things outside of Christ we put our identity in... Ouch. I had decided that I would be content with my life when I am financially stable and have done something important with my life. I had let my circumstances define who I was... which was a single mom on government assistance. I've let that define who I am now.

I was a bit depressed when I realized I had put my hope in circumstances because I thought I had moved past that struggle. After my divorce I had to put my hope in my position in Christ.. my future plans were removed and all I had was Christ. I started to understand what it meant to find my identity in Christ and not in my accomplishments. But I had slowly started to let my circumstances define me and put my hope in a future identity I would make for myself.

I'm not saying that education and financial plans are wrong, but they become sin when our identity... what defines who we are... is placed in them. So here I am again thankful for God's grace and forgiveness, hoping to rediscover my identity in Him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Loving your story

I thought I'd pause my story to share some thoughts I have about sharing your story. You may be confused about what you should share... how much is too much?... what is inappropriate?... what glorifies God?... what does not glorify God?... etc. 

Most importantly, I think you need to ask yourself, Do I love my story? Do not hastily answer that question. Stop, and really think about it. Do I honestly love my story? Maybe that fills you with some fear as you start to confront the fact that this life you are living is not what you every really wanted. That is okay. Feel it. Don't push it aside with denial and a false peace. Those feelings of confusion and disappointment are there whether you want them to be or not. You may try to deny them, but the only way you are going to work through them is if you confront them... and share them with God. It may sound disrespectful to question the way He has allowed your life to go....but deep down inside you are questioning Him. He doesn't want you to deal with these feelings on your own! Who better to share them with than God Himself! 

Your story will not be relatable if you choose to deny your feelings of confusion and disappointment. The lady who states "I was sexually abused as a girl, but God is great!", leaves you, as a reader, feeling confused. Maybe you were sexually abused and you can remember the feelings of anger and confusion. You either think that she is in denial, or it leaves you ashamed for the way you've handled your abuse. You still don't know how to work through your confusion with God, and are left feeling annoyed or guilty. 

So now I'm going to leave you with a challenge. Think through your life. What specific event have you tried to erase from your mind... that brings up feelings of bitterness and confusion? Write it down. Don't just write down the basic facts. Write about the plot. Where did take place? What specifically was said or done during that time? And how did it make you feel then.... and now? Then tell God about it. Then... if you think you are ready... read it to a friend. They become your mirror and help you interpret and work through your story.


 




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crutch or Battle?

I thought I'd throw in a random post for the week on some things I've been wrestling over in my mind.

 I don't like to use the term single mom, because I don't want to look like I'm using it as a crutch.  I don't want it to be my "get out of jail free" card when I refer to myself as a single mom. I put a lot of responsibility on myself to still be the parent that my kids need.. even if I have to do it alone. 

But I also feel like there are certain things that I will never be able to do well with my children because I am a single mom. This week I have been determined to cook more often, have the boys brush their teach more often, pray more often with my kids, go to bed earlier...etc. 

I struggled because ALL of those things are very hard to do on my own as a parent. (Seriously, even just having your kids brush their teeth you ask.... Yes! Even remembering to have them brush their teeth). I could just cut myself some slack and say that its ok. I don't have to cook... we don't have pray together... my kids don't have to brush their teeth (their going to fall out anyway right ;)... 

But then I think, no... I have to keep trying. I can't give up cooking and go out to eat every night.. that would be expensive and foolish... I can't stop praying with them... God has called me to reflect Him to my boys... and I can't give up brushing teeth... because eventually those permanent teeth are going to come in, and they might fall out too :P

So what's the balance? I remembered today something one of my professor's said last semester regarding his weight. He said he thought he was doing ok as long as it was still a battle for him. It would be a problem in his life when he quit trying to fight that particular battle. I thought that could be a great application to single parents. 

Things are going to be hard... and messy... and we are going to fail... A LOT... but its ok as long as we don't give up. We have to stay in the battle and not throw in the towel because we are single moms. We have to keep getting back up.. over and over again. We are doing ok... as long as we don't stay down. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Younger Years

My cousin Becca (my awana buddy) and I together at Disney

A couple of weeks ago I was ready to start moving forward with my new theme for my blog "Your Life Story". To be honest I'm a little overwhelmed by the topic now! I have to be careful about what I post and what is appropriate for all to see. So as I ponder through this I thought I'd start with a story a little more lighthearted to give you a glimpse of me during my early years.

Growing up I was.. hmmm... what's the word... awkward. I was a skinny lanky girl covered in freckles with a thick head of curly red hair. I just wanted to be like everyone else. I was constantly trying to play it safe, never taking risks, trying to just blend in. Every Sunday night I went to Awana at my church. I hated Awana. I could never remember to wear my vest, always forgot my 50 cent dues, did not memorize as many verses as everyone else, and was awful at the game time. Eventually I purposefully "forgot" my vest out of defiance... I bet that showed them :) For those of you who are familiar with Awana know that there are frequent theme nights. One week at Awana while announcements were being made, Cowboy night was announced and we were encouraged to dress up like Cowboys and Cowgirls with a prize given to the best dressed clubber. My little Awana heart was suddenly awakened. I could actually win this one... I definitely could never win a verse quiz or any of their athletic games... but Cowboy night.... (You see my little brother was currently going through a Cowboy phase and had the whole Cowboy get up) BUT was I willing to really put myself out there... was I willing to really stick out? Yes, I nervously decided. I would take a risk and go.all.out.

The next week I dug through my brother's toy box. I found toy guns complete with their holsters, a cowboy shirt, a fringe vest, a sheriff's badge (not really cowboy, but it made me think cowboy), and a plastic cowboy hat. I looked ridiculous... I wasn't wearing "real" cowboy clothes, but rather looked like a toddler who was playing dress up (not cool for a 4th grader). BUT I knew I could win best dressed in this outfit, so I kept everything on.

We were driving closer to the church and I was suddenly terrified to get out of the car. I think my mom was just as scared for me as I was. We just sat there in the car in front of the church and she said "Are you sure its tonight?" Thanks mom for the encouraging pep talk :P I decided I was just going to do it. I was just going to walk right in.

As I was walking into the gym I noticed the kids walking in with me were not wearing cowboy clothes. I started to hyperventilate, but reassured myself that they were just playing it safe, like I would have, and this is a good thing because I now had a better shot at winning. I kept walking to the gym.... and in horror realized I was the only one dressed up. My cousin (who made Awana worth going to) ran over to me dying laughing and told me Cowboy Night was NEXT week. I was MORTIFIED!

I think this story brings a good visual and understanding to what little Christina was like :) I did not have a relationship with Christ yet and my life goal was to fit it. You will see how this impacted me later during my teen years..



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Your Story

I'm wanting to make my blog a bit more specific, so I thought I'd hone in on a topic that I am very passionate about... (drum roll)... our life stories.  I became passionate about this topic a few years ago when I listened to a conference from Dan Allender about this topic. (Ladies who went of the ladies retreat a couple of years ago have heard all about this :) During that time I felt like I was in a place without hope. My vision for my life ever since high school was to be in the ministry. That was all I ever wanted to do with my life and it was devastating for me to give that up. I continued to settle for lesser desired dreams for my future and eventually I was in a place with no more dreams, simply longing for heaven. 

It was during this time that I heard a message about my life story. It completely changed my perspective about my life. I had previously read verses like Jeremiah 29:11 that states:


11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


I knew that the Lord had a plan for my life in my head... but I did not feel it in my heart. I felt like my past and present circumstances were a big mess and I was still waiting for my story to begin. Finally I truly believed that God was writing my life story... and He is good... therefore my story was good. What glorious freedom and joy I felt at that moment! After a few months of meditating over this fact, I not only came to grips with my story... but I also loved my story. As I began to study and read my story I began to see Him working in parts I had never noticed before. I would be lying if I said that I saw Him in every event of my life. There were some events that I was still confused about, but I had a new trust that God had a reason and plan for even those events I couldn't make sense of on my own.


I'm hoping to through some of my story and maybe have some "guests" come and share their stories in the future. I'll end with a couple of questions for you...


1. Have you gone through and read your own story? Many of us enjoy reading other's stories (reality tv, magazines, novels), but we spend most of our life trying to forget our own story. 


2. Do you love your story? You cannot tell your story until you love your story. 


3. Have you told your story? Sometimes we can't see the beauty of our story on our own. We need others to read it and help us interpret it. We need them to become our mirror and show us themes and facts we had never noticed before. 


*Each of our stories reveal a different aspect of God, which is why He gives each of us different stories. Have you thought about what God is trying reveal about Himself through your story?

Friday, January 4, 2013

journaling

Today I went through one of my journals. I only journal when I can't work out problems in my head and use it as a time to sort out my thought and cry out the Lord for help.. or at times cry out to Him in thankfulness. I have about 4 different journals and when I decide to write I just grab the nearest journal. So this particular journal I pulled out started with a praise to the Lord for what He had done for me... then the next article was a few years later and I was at rock bottom asking God why. It made me laugh to myself bc if you didn't notice the dates, you would seriously think I was bipolar! 

Reading through the writings brought some flashbacks to the different seasons in my life. I wanted to knock some sense into the younger me who continually wrote about some of the same struggles. At times I was also able to see some growth in me. I realized that growth is usually gradual... sometimes we don't even realize it until we remember ourselves a few years ago. But overall, I realized that there was nothing really great that I had done. Yes, there was some growth, but usually that growth resulted from God's direct intervention in my life. I thought about how when we share our testimonies, we often omit our sinfulness. Or if we share our sinfulness it is quickly followed by "but I repented from my sins and I was able to conquer those previous struggles... and YOU can be as great as ME if you do what I did!" But honestly, It is only by God's grace that we are free from our strongholds of sin. Really, what brings God more glory... stating our accomplishments, or stating God's intervention and grace when we couldn't get up on our own. 

After going through my journal I resolved to be more honest about my story and keep my focus not on my accomplishments, but on the greatness of God. I guess you could say that is my New Year's resolution ;)