I Was Scathed By Harvey

Correction from my last post, I was indeed scathed by Harvey… but not in the way I was expecting. It goes like this:

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Bumper to bumper, compiled madness of every working man and woman in Houston trying to get to work and home on the same freeway and spare back roads. Lord, help us. If you’ve read my posts about working in corporate, you already know it’s a struggle for me… but now with a commute that has been doubled and, may I say it, tripled since Harvey… I’m scathed. I’m so scathed.

Yesterday, after two hours of braking and nowhere near my home, I broke down. It was tragic. And I had plenty of witnesses since all of us are so packed in and driving transparent fish bowls. People could see the tears in high def… and it wasn’t a pretty sight. I lost it.

Why? Because of everything I was losing.

I had already spent an hour driving to work, nine hours working, and now two hours driving… and getting nowhere. That’s TWELVE HOURS. I ain’t a nurse! I don’t do 12 hours shifts away from home if I can help it. It’s already difficult being away from home the regular 55 hours of a work week (yes, I include commute and lunch).

Here’s my list of losses:
Time with Tucker
Time with my roommates
Time to make dinner
Time to just relax and think about what I wanted to do with my evening

Bottom line: I lost time.

That does not feel good. Ever. I was out of control of my circumstances and couldn’t get over the injustice of personal loss. Who could I blame? My bosses for not adjusting work hours the next couple of weeks? Other drivers for making poor traffic decisions? Harvey??

Shifting blame around is pointless. It doesn’t help anything. It definitely doesn’t help my traffic situation. There are several things that need to occur for my mulligan trip home this afternoon.

  1. Surrender the moment. When I come into a situation with expectations, I set myself up for inner conflict. God is sovereign and in control. He has different plans than me for my day. He knows exactly how the day is going to go and His will trumps mine – and that’s a good thing! When life goes a direction I don’t expect (good or bad), I need to surrender it to God and see what He has in store for the time. Let. Go.
  2. Trust God. You want to know crazy? Here it is: my mind and heart were desperate to get home so I could see my dog. I am an obsessive parent. It’s true. I have no idea what I will be like as a mother to a child (if I ever experience that). I mean, I’m going to need to continue seeing my counselor and probably more frequently once I have children.Stuck in traffic, I was so sad that my time with Tucker was being taken by such a miserable alternative. Plus, I needed to feed her dinner, take her on a walk, and just play around. However, what have I learned before? She is best in God’s hands. He can do more for her than I can. So, this time around, I must trust God and know that He has everything taken care of.
  3. Redeem the time. I am a strong believer in spiritual warfare and I do not doubt that Satan wants to get the most evil out of Harvey as he can. And, you know what, I think he’s disappointed. The city, state, and nation have come together to help each other out. There is unity and light in the darkness.Now, he’s coming at us via intense traffic and loss. Well, not today, Satan! The time will be redeemed! My friend and I are resolved that we will stand firm against attack. Two and a half hours of traffic hell can turn into a two and a half hour praise session with God. It can be prayer. It can be working through our character defects as they arise. Instead of defeat, we will get stronger in Christ. We will draw near to God. Our mission is not to be “on time”, but to glorify God at all times.
  4. Don’t play the victim. Once I arrive home (whenever that may be), my goal is to enjoy the time I’ve been given. Even though my time at home may be condensed, I can enjoy it to the fullest. I’m only hurting myself if I come home and sulk the rest of the night due to my misfortunes.My plan is to look at the next couple of weeks realistically. Are there extra things I’m doing outside of work that can be postponed for a bit? How am I planning on taking care of myself in the midst of high stress circumstances? Where is God directing me in all of this?

All of the above is what I have learned so far. I plan on stumbling imperfectly into these lessons and seeing what beneficial habits come from this experience.

#HoustonStrong

 

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Check In

As Rachel on the Bachelorette would say, I’m going to “keep it 100” with y’all and let you in on the struggle I’ve had the past couple of months.

An ongoing weakness of mine that runs in my family is depression. I know depression sounds miserable (and it is), but it’s also oddly comforting. I am familiar with curling up on the couch to take a nap and escape the world, driving to work in a numbness of surrender to unhappiness, maintaining a safe fog of distance at work from reality, and shoving down the little thoughts that pop up telling me to process my situation. It feels horribly good to be a victim.

But ultimately, being depressed is mainly just horrible.

I’ve allowed depression to manipulate my life decisions in the past. I’ve quit jobs because I was miserable, ended relationships, and not completed creative projects that could’ve really benefited people. Depression, for me, is basically a long, numb venture of pure laziness. When I’m in the midst, a proverb always enters my mind:

How long, you sluggard, will you lie there?
When will you rise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to relax,
and your poverty will come like a robber,
and your need like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:9-11)

It’s a cycle I am familiar with, yet, can’t seem to shake when I’m in it. I was in this depression when it came time for a counseling session, and I am so glad I entrusted to my counselor how I was feeling. It can be hard, even with counselors, to be honest with how you’re doing. I’ve been seeing mine for quite some time and I was concerned she’d be disappointed with my seeming regression in recovery.

Of course she wasn’t. She shared with me an exercise to do through the phase and I want to share it with you, because it helped me sooo much.

CHECKING IN:

Set a reminder to check in with God every two hours.

  1. Write down how you’re feeling in that moment
  2. Ask God to show you what He’s teaching you in the process
  3. Ask God to remove any negative feelings
  4. If you have to, go into the bathroom or somewhere else private and literally shake the depression (or other negative feeling) off of you
  5. Thank God for what He’s going to do in your life
  6. If God has placed any phrases in your mind or led you to a specific scripture, place it somewhere you can see throughout the day

Try it out! I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.

Reality – Don’t Be Afraid

I find that when I wake up in the morning, it’s a lot easier to get up when I feel good about the potential of the day. If there is something I’m dreading or unsure about, I am compelled to not get up.

What this does is set me back in the morning to make my day worse than I’d planned. This invariably will get me to pouting about how I want a different life where I can do what I want and get up whenever I darn well please. I’ll think about how people at work are suffocating me and I’ll lean on God to get me through the day. Get me through.

There’s the problem. Were we created to get through a day or live it to the full? If I know my scripture, I’d say no day is an accident. No day is a waste. And we have been given the gift of life, the Holy Spirit, purpose, and time.

Hitting snooze, getting through, fantasizing of escape – these are all forms of running. How tempting it is to run from a reality that we are not sure of. That we just know we are incapable of. That we believe we will be a disaster in!

But wait! There’s God. The One who gives us strength in our weakness to prove to us His existence. The One who created you with an adventure in mind. God doesn’t do boring. God doesn’t do mundane. He places freedom, opportunity, and wow into the daily.

When we run from reality and distract ourselves from the present, we do more than make it through the day. We let our lives fly past us while missing the presence of God. Know that God’s sovereignty lies in the past and in the future, but His presence is with you right here. He’s created this day for you. There is a purpose for it and you have no clue what it is yet! You may meet someone that really needs a listening ear, something may need to be organized, maybe a coworker, family member, or friends needs a silent prayer from you, or maybe God is going to throw a surprise your way that causes you to feel undeservedly blessed. Who knows, but God!

The events in our schedule, the conflicts we may potentially face, or the baffling subjects we can’t seem to master will not be faced alone. God will walk us through each minute of the day. He will give us exactly what we need to accomplish what we need to.

It’s a delight to live in the presence of God and that is what we were made for. I definitely needed this reminder because today was a snooze day for me. I have an intimidating week at work. I’ve been given responsibility for something I’ve never done before and I’m really nervous about it. However, God is in the present. I don’t have to accomplish every task in this moment (even though that’s what it feels like). I will take on this project one step at a time. One day at a time. And it will get done. By the power and grace of God it will. And I will learn new skills, tuck some experience into my resume, and get to reflect at the end of the week on how amazing God is.

What a fun time!

Moral of the story: see the presence of God in your day. Enjoy the adventure He has set up for you and take things one moment at a time. God didn’t create the world in a day. He set a pattern up for us to follow. One day at a time and rest. 🙂

Have a great day today!

 

God’s Kind of Justice

Evening!

I wasn’t able to post this week due to my computer crashing. However, since I wasn’t able to post, I get to share a blog my roommate wrote.

My roommate wrote a beautiful blog about her struggles with desiring justice as a child and seeing God change her definition of justice as she got older.

Many times, our character defects can also become our strengths in recovery. Enjoy her story as much as I did!

How I Got to Here

In Death, In Life

Happy Post-Resurrection Day!!

I hope you enjoyed celebrating the day Jesus rose from the dead! My day was filled with church, family, food, games, and travel… followed by wine, cookies, and recap with family and friends. At the end of the day, it was lovely to relax, pet my dog, and be with like-minded friends that love Jesus.

My neighbor, aunt, and I are celebrating Jesus’ resurrection for the next eight days. Each day this week, we’re living in the joy of new life through Jesus Christ. Today, I wore sparkly shoes and put flowers at my desk. Tonight there will be a toast with my neighbor and we will reflect on the impact of the resurrection in our lives.

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With all this celebrating going on, you’d think my heart would be light and I’d have a smile plastered on my face… but that’s not the case. Well, not continuously. This morning actually started off pretty weird. I was running a little behind this morning and didn’t get to do anything that out of the ordinary in my quiet time. I had wanted to add something extra to celebrate the resurrection, but didn’t get the chance. I threw a lunch together for work, got in the car, and had technology fall apart (which seems to be my norm). As I’m trying to connect my phone to the Bluetooth in my car (because it had disconnected for some reason), the system isn’t recognizing my voice, repeating commands, and failing to pair up. I’m screaming, “CONTINUE!” at my car like I’m speaking to an elderly person with hearing problems. I’m calling people idiots on the freeway and wondering how they received a drivers license.

Halfway to work, I finally got the phone to connect, got my Resurrection playlist going, and felt miserable. How could I praise God for a new life after the fit I had just thrown? I was able to play a song and a half before pulling into work and rushing to clock in. Some day of celebration.

At work, my sparkly shoes were hidden by my desk and everything felt horribly normal.

Lunch came around and I got in my car to run some errands. I put on my Resurrection playlist for a second time and asked God for a fresh start. I’ve been discovering that God can change my day without me going to sleep and waking up the next morning. He can change it in an instant. He can change me in an instant.

The song, “One Thing Remains,” started playing. I listened to that song while at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. That is where it is believed Jesus was crucified – His tomb not too much further away. Thinking of His sacrifice fills me with gratitude when I think on it.

A lyric came that surprised me as I drove in the car.

“In death, in life, I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love.”

At church yesterday, we covered Romans 8:31-39. A well-known part of that scripture reads,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

The two connected for me in that moment. Neither death nor life. In death, in life. God knows I’m not perfect. Just because I have the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean I’ve reached glory yet. I’m a work in progress. And whether I’ve reverted to my old self (pre-Christ) or whether I’m living the fully satisfied life under Christ, I’m safe. God isn’t looking at each one of my actions, words, or feelings and weighing the balance of good and bad. He’s looking at His Son.

How can I celebrate the resurrection after realizing I’ve been a murmuring, whiney, first world human? Remind myself that is the whole reason Jesus came to live a perfect life, die, and resurrect. He did it so that I can place my trust in Him and know that I am secure regardless of my failures. Not only am I secure in physical death and physical life, but I am safe in spiritual death and spiritual life. There is never a time that I am not protected by Jesus Christ. Praise God!

The fact I am secure while being an idiot is glory to God and His magnificent grace, mercy, and love. His power to save a humanity that does not deserve it! I tell you, after thinking through this remarkable truth, my spirit was lifted and resurrection celebration was on!

So, be encouraged. God loves you and He is able to be present with you because of the sacrifice of His Son. God will never leave us and His love will never fail.

During my lunch break, I bought some flowers to put on my desk. The leaves have a thorny appearance with a beautiful, soft flower in the middle. I thought it was perfect for the lesson God taught me today. The crown of thorns Jesus wore and the suffering He experienced places a hedge of protection around the new life I’ve been given. It can never be taken away and my future glory is promised in Christ.

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Happy Resurrection Week!

The Beauty of God’s Patience

You see this adorable baby? Her name is Tucker.

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She’s the love of my life and one of my greatest teachers.

I’m not the wealthiest person ever, but have very expensive hobbies. One of them being gardening. Flowers ain’t cheap! We have a section of yard I like to call, “The Hill.” It’s not beautiful, but for the past couple of years, I’ve dreamt of it being just overflowing with colorful flowers. I imagine it being a place of prayer or long conversations with friends. A place that just smells and feels good to be in. However, that takes some moneys. So, usually it looks halfway hideous and halfway kinda cute. You do what you can.

One of my strategies is repurposing flowers from one area to another to boost the color factor. This is something I did this weekend. I moved four plants to the Hill and mixed in some plant food and fresh soil for good measure. Boy, am I sorry I did that.

Plant food has delicious things like: fish remains, blood (how?), meat leftovers… things that dogs find irresistible. How do I know?

The morning after I planted them, I stepped outside to observe their progress. They were gone! In their place were big holes with plant food up for the taking.

Tuckerrrrr. Annoyed, I replanted them and prayed that the trauma of two replantings wouldn’t be the end of these repurposed flowers.

I leave for a bit, come back, and they’ve been dug up again! The annoyance was growing, but how can you be annoyed at this face?

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Well, the day after I re-re-re-plant them, I come home from church to find that they had all been uprooted AGAIN from their new homes. And Tucker had some fiendish fish breath.

A surge came over me. I looked into Tucker’s eyes and she knew she had done wrong. She ran into the house and plopped down on her bed as I RE-planted my now half eaten, traumatized, repurposed plants. My thoughts were everywhere, That stupid, idiotic dog. These are all going to die and I’ll be back at square one. I should’ve never planted these back here. Why did I use that plant food? What was I thinking??

I walked into the house and looked at my guilty dog laying on her bed. Gah. I was so angry, but realized being mad at her wouldn’t help the situation. She wouldn’t comprehend the connection so long after her sinful (in my opinion) act. All that’s left to do is love.

Well, guess what. I went to work on Monday, came back, and were the plants in their homes? NO.

Oh, let me tell you, the defeat that washed over me as I looked at the holes in the ground, the practically dead plants kicked to the side; the smell of fish coming off the breath of my excited dog. It was all just a little too much.

However, the Lord did a miraculous thing. He popped the question in my head, Lord, what are you teaching me through this?

I know that couldn’t have come naturally from me. Yet, there it was. I pet my dog and spoke kindly to her. I took the hose, walked over to my flowers, and slowly began re-planting each one. And look at my beautiful garden!!

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Is that beautiful or what?

Let me tell you the lesson God imprinted on me as I was packing dirt around each one of these destroyed plants: God never tires or grows angry as He replants.

Every day, we wake up a mess and He speaks kindly to us. We find ourselves drawn to harmful patterns that stunt the growth of what God is doing in us. He plants; we dig up. He packs in dirt; we paw it away. He waters; we take the whole plant out of the hole and toss it into the blazing sun. Anyone other than God would have scrapped the garden and pummeled us.

Praise God for His patience! He has always, always been faithful. First to Israel, and now to the world. As we live, God gently brings us under Him and we grow in wisdom. We look more like Him. We grow in beauty. God understands our weakness and He loves us anyways. He’s able to because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  I’m astounded and grateful for the steadfast patience of God.

Brains and Brawn

I’m hosting a workshop for a conference this weekend and the topic is spiritual warfare. Preparation for this has been quite interesting for me because I have struggled with the fear of eternity for a long time. So focusing on the spiritual, embracing my fear, and processing it with God has been scary and, better yet, rewarding.

I spent a month of preparation studying the being of Satan – his origin, his present, and his future. Ezekiel 28 is a historical timeline of Satan that God has given us so that we can know who we are up against in spiritual warfare. In verse 12 of Ezekiel 28, the prophecy tells us of Satan:

“You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”

God created Satan with the whole package: brains and beauty! I can only imagine how wonderful life could be having that combination. One could take on the world! And that’s exactly what Satan used it for.

You’ll find also, in Ezekiel 28, that God had made Satan the head cherub. That doesn’t mean he was the chubbiest, most naked, glowing baby in heaven. Satan’s original name was Lucifer – bringer of dawn! morning star! – he was perfect in wisdom and beauty, plus he was the head defender of the throne of God. Cherubs were defenders, of course, they probably still are.

God gave Lucifer what he needed to perfectly accomplish what God had designed him for. And that’s what Lucifer did – for how long, we don’t know. He worked faithfully for God until he allowed a deception to sneak into his head, Why defend God when you could be God? It was through this mysterious origin of evil, this seed of deception that was formed inside of Lucifer, himself, that caused him to rebel against God.

We have deceptions hindering us from our work for God, as well. Satan has built a global culture of deception that we are all born into. Satan, the world, and our own broken selves are working against us as we seek the truth of God.

God has created each one of us for a unique purpose on this earth. He has given us what we need to accomplish the tasks He has placed us here for. However, unlike Lucifer who lived in perfection and had everything going for him to succeed, we live in a broken world that throws every lie and fear our way to deter us from doing what we were born to do.

Don’t let your fears hinder you from doing the work of God and living out your calling. When fears come up in your life, work through them with God. Don’t run away. Behind that fear just might be your next step towards discovering what God has called you to. And it doesn’t have to be this big thing like, I finally know what my dream career is! No, it can be something like: Instead of fearing a social event, I went and prayed that God would show me who had a need. I was able to have a conversation with someone that really needed it. 

We get to glorify God by serving Him in our daily lives. We get to live for Him every day and experience the adventure of a life with Him. You never know where God is going to take you next or what He’s going to teach you, but it’s going to be great!

Satan’s brains and brawn got to his head and condemned him. By God’s grace we need neither. All we need is the perfection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Enjoy today!