Category Archives: Faith

Back in the writing saddle…somewhat

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Another year, another blog post.  Yes, I’m averaging about one a year.  Gold writing star for me! While writing more is not a New Year’s resolution…I gave up on those years ago…I do feel the desire to write again.  It’s something that God is placing on my heart.  I’ve been talking to Him about what to write in what format and whether it should be public or not, and I really hear nothing but “write” so here I go…

I don’t “need” to make my writing public.  In fact, this last year I’ve become a very private person for more than one reason.  Deeply personal reasons aside I feel like too much of what I used to feel and say was said publicly on social media.  I started inwardly cringing so much about that, that my temporary Facebook hiatus has now turned into an aversion so great that the thought of going back there would be akin to jumping back into a toxic swamp. If I did I would have to go back years and years and delete and delete.  The thought of that brings on something akin to dry heaves.  So, no, FB my account staying deactivated is just the way it needs to be for me and for the world.

I know that social media has it’s positives, but the few positives it afforded me have been held down and drowned in that toxic swamp by all the negatives and my own past misuse of it. Yes, I miss my friends there who are miles and even countries away, but I’ve overcome that with actually communicating with them directly.  Now, I will admit I don’t communicate as much as a should, but what a novel idea to write them directly, call them or even better make sacrifices to actually see them face to face when and if possible!

I’m not completely a social media recluse yet you think I’ve become of some anti-social media super-cool hipster (ha!  Me a hipster?  I don’t even own a plaid shirt!) I’m still on Instagram because I occasionally go to cool places and take pretty pictures, but even my postings there average about once every three months!

The reason I’m blogging is because the thought that my writing might be seen by maybe a handful of people will make me somewhat accountable for what I am writing.  Right now as I look at how many “I’s” and “I’ms” are in this post it screams “all about me.” I’ll try to remedy that…but then again, maybe not.

I will try to be vulnerable without dishing about my private life.  This is not because I’m that super-cool hipster that’s above it all (I do have some new nerdy glasses’ frames.  I’ll give myself some hipster credit for that) but because what I want to share is what God has shown me spiritually in the last year or so. I want it to be about Him and not about me.

2016 was a transition year for me in so many ways.  It was at times wonderful and at times difficult, sometimes simultaneously.  Becoming a true adult in your late 40’s is not for the faint of heart.  It really is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I’m living proof that with God’s help it can accomplished.  Believe me, there are days when I don’t want to adult, but the joys of truly surrendering myself to my God and allowing Him to do the maturing work in me are so above and beyond the difficult moments. With the help of my Savior, Godly friends and counselors I look back on the person I was and cannot believe I’m the same person.  Now, there are days the enemy tries to taunt me with the old fears and anxieties, but it only lasts for moments, hours, days.  I even have bad weeks, but consistently God is doing such a redeeming work in me that I find it hard to put the experience into words.  I’m going to try though…

I will disclaimer all that to say I don’t know how much I will post, but my goal is more than once a year.  Just to cover the bases though if I don’t write until next year I pray your 2017 brings to you many blessings and that God will do for you what He’s so consistently been doing for me.

 

 

 

 

On Acceptance

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Recently I’ve been pondering the concept of acceptance since I really feel like God wants me to get to a place of accepting whatever life throws at me. From my own observation letting go, surrender, and acceptance is a process especially when it’s a big unplanned life situation such as childlessness or a broken relationship.

In the last two days I have heard two messages on acceptance and this came from two very different sources…a secular psychologist via a radio show and a minister. I have no doubt that both messages were sent straight from God as they both echoed the same points.

I know I have found myself crying out to God many, many times, “This is not how my life was supposed to turn out.” I think that’s probably what a lot of us have said to God at some point in our lives. I think part of the lie we in Western culture have believed is that if we take time to plan, work hard enough/believe hard enough that we will eventually live our dream and we will get all we want out of life.

It’s really, to put it mildly, a crock of bull.

The majority of humans on this planet wake up with just the basics in mind…food, water, and shelter not knowing if they’ll even have it that day. The minority in the first world wake up wondering if they’ll be fulfilled in their life and endeavors. While they have all they need and most of what they want they still end up feeling emptier at the end of the day then the person in a third-world country living in a lean-to hut who just had a meager bowl of rice to eat that day.

So, to say to God, “This is not how my life was supposed to turn out” is really questioning His sovereignty in our lives. What I am finally learning is that where I am today is EXACTLY where I am supposed to be. The same goes for you.

Now, you may be saying, “Well, what if I’ve made mistakes and now I seem to be paying the consequences.” Well, yes, our choices do help determine our circumstances because God allows us free will; however, God is with you in your free will too. Sometimes He allows those adverse consequences to mold us into what we are ultimately supposed to be because it wouldn’t have happened in any other way than the route you took.

See, God is still with us even when we screw up. He’s always waiting for us to quit fighting the process and to turn back to Him for wisdom. This brings up another subject that I know all too well. Sometimes we are in the position we are due to the decisions of others. I think that’s the hardest thing to accept, however, if we allow the decisions of others to destroy us it’s only because we have given them the power to destroy us. That is not a power we should allow them to have. Yes, we are affected, but God will use that abuse, desertion, and betrayal to put us on a path toward a bright future if we’ll just surrender to what He’s going to do through this season.

To sum it up: Acceptance means trusting that God has you right where you need to be even if it’s a place you never thought you would be.

Believe it my friends and live…

A Season of Transition and Unsurpassed Grace

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I’ve been getting some new followers lately and some feedback on my older posts.  Since I haven’t written any new content in several months I was wondering what was generating the attention.  Well, I Googled and Bing-ed my blog title and my blog comes up as the the first to third on the hits list (depending on the day)  so I was like, “Whoa…”  I decided that it was sign that I write something again.   I’ve been wanting to write, but well, my life took a dramatic turn about 10 months ago. I’ve wanted to blog more times than I have, but I’ve just not been ready to share.  I’m still not sure if I’m ready to share, so I’m writing this not knowing than when I’m done if I’ll hit “Publish” or not.  I’m going to write the below with an effort to be honest yet honor the people that it could affect.  I never want to use my blog to expose or hurt anyone.  That is not my desire.  I also know the weightiness of putting your personal issues online.  So, the “issues” are not going to be put here.  Not the place.   I’m really a very private person by nature.  I have tons of  journal content.  Those books know my every feeling, so it’s all written down.  I think one day it might make a pretty doggone good book, but that’s years down the road if ever, only if God leads.  I also thought about whether or not to rename the blog as my life has taken such a dramatic turn, and my possible childbearing years are nearly over, but I still think it fits.  I’ll write more about that later on down the line.

So, time to get to the point…

My husband and I are separated.

I realize in this day and age that’s not a very big bomb-drop statement, but to someone who expected to be married forever those six words carry a lot of weight, sadness, and a whole boat-load of other emotions.  It’s commonplace until it happens to you.

Again, I”m not going into the nitty-gritty of the situation.  I still care very much for my husband, and one of the very few ways I can honor and care for him right now is to respect him.  Also, what goes on inside a marriage is very personal and very raw especially when a marriage is in distress.  This is OUR relationship and shouldn’t be fodder for public scrutiny.  I can’t say I’ve been one hundred percent perfect in this area, but through some mistakes and through healing I’ve come to the place that those issues are solely between my husband and I.  I say this knowing that our marriage has an affect on SO MANY people.  I have a small handful of trusted friends and a great counselor who know my side of the story.   I’ve been floored by just how many people it has affected, and we don’t even have children!!  When marriages break down (with children or not), societies break down.  Evidence proves that, but that’s another post for another day.

I guess you can say I’m spouse-less not by choice right now…like I wanted another label…

Did unplanned childlessness have an affect on our marriage?  I would be lying if I said, “No.”  It had a greater affect on both of us than I ever knew.  I made HUGE mistakes.  I didn’t always handle my grief maturely.  I grieved over an extended period of time, because infertility/childlessness is not something you can grieve for 6-12 months and move on with your life.  You deal with it all your life, and it does put a HUGE amount of pressure on  a marriage.  Do, I blame infertility for where we are now?  No.  I don’t.  Our marriage is way more complex than one issue,  but it was always one of the elephants in the room of our lives.  It’s the same as the loss of a living child or miscarriage.  There’s no denying the loss, and the loss will always be there. It has to be dealt with one way or the other, and this kind of loss takes time and lots of it.  Running from it or trying to avoid it only makes a larger crisis inevitable.

I cannot write everything I want to write in one blog post, and I don’t know how frequently the blog posts will come.  I’m not going to pressure myself into saying I have to write at any specific interval, but I want to say this today as a person of faith in Jesus Christ:

I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been.  He is so real to me even during some of the greatest emotional pain I’ve ever been through.

It would take a War and Peace-sized book to tell you the emotional and spiritual journey I’ve been through the last 10 months, and it’s far from over.  I can honestly say the almost 20 years of infertility/childlessness was a cakewalk compared to the last 4 years of marriage turmoil and subsequent separation; however, through all the horrendous pain there has been a tremendous amount of healing…healing I don’t think could have happened had I not been alone.  God says he always works everything for our good.  The key word is “works” because not all things are good.  The Bible gives so many examples of that, but in the end it works out for the good of all involved.

I believe in covenant marriage.  I do believe that once people marry it should be for life.  If not, why do even most secular vows consist of some version of “for better for worse, for richer or poorer, till death do us part”?  Because God ordained it to be that way.  Yes, divorce has always been allowed for in extreme situations, but when Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees in Matthew 19 he said, (paraphrase) “It’s only so because the hardness of your hearts”, and he goes on to  reiterate God’s plan for  the earthly permanence of  one-man, one-woman marriage.  When the feelings aren’t there anymore then love and commitment come down to a choice, and sometimes you have to grit your teeth and barrel through the hard times even when it seems like the hard times won’t end.

I don’t want to get on a soapbox, but this is what I believe, and this worldview is where I’ll come from in subsequent posts.  I don’t bash or judge anyone with opposing views.  I love divorced people…God loves divorced people.  I’m looking possible divorce smack-dab in the face.   Because of the tragedy of no-fault divorce in some states people don’t get a choice.  It happens, and none of us are immune.   Most likely, if your spouse wants out there’s not a thing you can do about that piece of paper that severs only the legal tie.  I believe the tie in Heaven remains until death do us part, and it even has eternal implications.

With that said I want to end this post on an upbeat note.  I really am doing okay.  God has shown me SO MUCH through this time, and he is changing me for the better!  Yes, the pain is unimaginable at times, but the pain is working in me things I should’ve allowed God to work in me years ago.  I’m stubborn, and I’m a slow learner, but through it all God has not abandoned or forsaken me.  I could be bitter and angry, and I have days when I have those feelings, but surprisingly, after some healing I’m not.  I’ve also had some great opportunities that have come through my situation and through this blog.  Because of the blog I am being contacted rather frequently by publications and media for interviews.  I do not want to waste any of this experience.  I want to minister/help others in some way whether it be big or small.  I’m not looking for notoriety.  I just want to write and use this medium to reach others as God sees fit; nothing more, nothing less.

Well, I guess I’m going to hit  “Publish”.

Questions and Answers

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I’ve been getting some new traffic and comments on my blog, and I’m always humbled by the comments I receive.  I also receive questions from time to time.  Most of the time I just respond to those questions directly to the commenter/asker, but I know not everyone puruses the comment section.  So, I’ll try to answer most of the questions I’ve received lately in this post (unless they are of a personal nature to either I or the commenter).  Here are the latest questions I’ve received with the corresponding answers.  Now, these are just my answers.  They are by no means “expert” by any stretch of the imagination.  They are just what I’ve found true in my life.

— How do you move with purpose/intention/motivation?  I too have days (weekends/holidays) of loneliness.  Unlike you, I struggle to find motivation to work around my house.  Why clean today, when I can clean tomorrow?  Why run that errand now?  I can do it later?  Why get out of bed now?  I can do that later too.  Sometimes I feel as though (to borrow the term) I am “chasing away boredom” when I move toward activities I enjoy.

These are good questions, and I promise you that I’m not trying to evade answering them by saying that  what gives YOU purpose, intention, and motivation will be different from what gives me purpose, intention and motivation.  This is something I have struggled with for years; however, because I have now entered a new season that has forced me to look head-on into my life’s purpose here is what I am learning…

You have to learn to work with the hand you’ve been dealt…you have to come to a place of acceptance.  This is paramount to living your life with purpose.  If you run from what is happening/has happened to you…or from what hasn’t happened…you will not find purpose, intention and motivation.  Once you come to the place of acceptance then you can start working on this.  Aceeptance is a process.  I came to the point of acceptance of my childlessness a couple of years ago.  That was good timing , because then I was dealt another life-altering situation that required has required me to go on the journey which is accepting another reality in which I have no control.

In summary, you have to find your own life outside of your identity as a childless woman.  Are you a wife, a daughter, an aunt, an employee etc. etc.?  I can guarantee you are something.  You are probably many things.  With that said from my personal beliefs and faith I am first and foremost a daughter of God.  My identity is first and foremost in Christ.  I honestly, don’t know how anyone gets through this life without faith in God.  I can honestly say that after the last four years I would be six feet under if it had not been for God and His strength to get me through.

As far as motivation that is personal too.  If you don’t feel like cleaning, doing errands, or even getting out of bed one day, and you are not forced by circumstances to do these things then DON’T DO THEM.   I find that a day of low motivation is usually followed by a day of higher motivation.  I had that experience this weekend.  I felt  like doing nothing on Saturday, but by Sunday I was a whirlwind of energy.  If low motivation is a chronic problem for you then you might need to get counseling or a life coach to help you find motivation for everyday living.  Someone once said, “The problem with life is that it’s so DAILY.”  That is so true.  We’d love every day to be an adventure of fun/new experiences, but the reality is most days are full of routine and mundaneness, but you can find joy in the mundane if you look hard enough.  I find that doing something for others is a kick start to get me out of bed and/or off the couch.  Also, I have to work.  Work is a big motivator for me because I like having a roof over my head and food on my table.

Pssst…moving towards activities you enjoy IS chasing away boredom.  That’s the point, so don’t second-guess doing what you enjoy.  As the old ad campaign says, “Just do it!”
— Is there an answer to meeting needs of kidless families in the church?  I was so lonely and trying so hard to connect in the church.  We finally started our own small group.  It attracted more young marrieds than intended, even though we carefully worded the description.  People read past that and expected it to be for young marrieds.

I won’t lie to you…meeting /finding childless families in church is hard, because we tend to be isolating by nature to protect oureselves since we are in the minority…that is if we don’t give up on church altogether which many of us sadly do.   Since my post about church and the childless is now a couple of years old I have gained a whole new perspective on it.  Church is filled with families, but I think if you look really hard you will find people who are lonely and in need of a friend.  I go to a very large church, and the key to finding social connection in church is to connect to something even if the people are not in your exact life situation.  Find a bible study/small group/activity group and just join or start/continue one and just minister to whomever shows up.  No, there are no guarantees that you’re going to find childless couples/people, but you might find a friend in an unexpected place.  In church and life in general I started making friends with folks whether or not they had kids or not.  This came after significant healing, but I finally  got tired of isolating myself because I couldn’t find the perfect childless friend(s).  When I got to that point my social life changed dramatically.  I now have several friends with children (mostly grown children now–but one with a 2 year old), and lo and behold, in the process I also have developed friendships with two childless women.  Sometimes when you quit looking so hard you find blessings in unexpected places and sometimes find what you were looking for in the first place.
—  I am divided in how to construct my use of time.  I used to be full force on a career.  Listening to wisdom of others, I didn’t want life to pass me by and have “only” my career and spouse at the end of my life.  I eased up on the career, but now find myself trying to figure out how to use my time.  Bored.  Lonely.  My path is shaped by God’s hand, I know.  I also believe I am responsible for my choices.  Not sure what this “freedom” and excess of time is supposed to be for.  Or how to commit 100% to the mundane without munchkins or being super-involved in work.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with focusing on one’s career if you are able to balance the rest of your life–big family or no family.  I say that being someone who never aspired to a career.  I only wanted to be a wife and mother.  For years I lamented the fact that I had to work, but yet I’ve done it so long now that I think I would be lost without it.  Sure, I’d like to work three days a week instead of five, but reality is it’s not going happen anytime soon if ever before I retire (if I retire–with the economy who knows?).

First, seek God.  I’m sure you have gifts and talents that could help someone…volunteer, find a social hobby.  If working fulfills you then find a lower-stress part time job you enjoy and go back to work on a limited basis.  Again, only you know what is right for you, but don’t think having a career as second best because for you it might be for the best.    I think looking back at the end of your life  if you’ve played the cards that God has dealt you to the best of your ability you’ll have no regrets.  If you don’t do something  you know God is telling you to do then you will have regrets.  God has withheld children for a reason.  That is not your responsibility or a reason to have regrets.   Quit regretting what is out of your control my friend!  It will only make you miserable.  I know.
— What would you tell yourself 5 to 10 years ago?  I want to live well and react wisely along this path.  What hindsight have you gained?

Wow, if you only knew what a loaded question that is.  Let me compose myself a bit…

Okay…here goes…if I could go back 5 to 10 years I would invest more in my relationships instead of focusing on what I didn’t have.  I would not let bitterness and jealousy take over my life to where I did serious damage to relationships that may or may not ever be healed.  I would enjoy the blessings I had in my life.  I would love more and wholeheartedly.  I would embrace life for what it is instead of what it’s not.  I would live AUTHENTICALLLY in each day like I’m doing my best to do now.  The hard truth is that you can’t go back and undo the past.  You can only go forward.  Apologize to those who you have hurt along the way, and accept their forgiveness if they’re willing to give it.  If they’re not then go forward anyway with or without that relationship.  Only you can choose how you live your life.  No one can make you happy.   Your happiness in fullfillment in life comes from only two things God and how you choose to live your life.

(Sorry…that question made me preach to  myself, but I hope you got some kind of answer out of it).

Wow, these were great questions that covered a lot of ground, but if you have more please send them on!  I’ll be happy to answer the best I can!

Blessings to you today!

It’s Been A While…

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…a year and two days exactly since my last post.  A lot has happened and is happening, and God has sent me on a journey that s stretching me in ways that I’ve never been stretched before.  Right now, I cannot go into details for a multitude of reasons.  Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to blog about what the last year has been like.  All I can say right now is that God is showing me things beyond my imagination.  He’s also giving me strength to live in circumstances I never thought I could.  While my faith has been tested (and is being tested daily) I can honestly say I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been.  Do I have bad days?  Yes, very bad days; however, on those bad days God gives me the encouragement I need to keep going EVERY TIME.  When all you have left is God you realize that all you really need is Him.  I’m stronger in my faith than I’ve ever been even the midst of the greatest pain in my life.

I re-read my last post from May 10, 2012  and realized that it is more relevant to me today than it was a year and two days ago.  It’s not hard to find since it was last post before this, but for your convenience here’s a link:

https://awomanwithoutchildren.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/a-word-of-prayer-with-myself/

Looking back at it I realize God was preparing me for the journey I’m on now and why I had to put my childlessness behind me in order to cope with what I was getting ready to experience.   While my comprehension of my future is fraught with uncertainly I stand on this scripture:

” 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  NIV

What I Truly Need…

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A few months ago I think I eluded to the fact that for a while church had been difficult for me.  I really couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason why.  I thought it was because (especially during the holidays) all the sweet little families…complete with children and grandchildren…that surrounded me there.  I also reasoned it was because my extended family was not with me at church which in retrospect I realized was a pretty lame excuse.  Even before we moved to Charlotte we had left my home church and had found a wonderful church nearer to our home in Hendersonville.  We were happy as larks there even though we were not related to one soul in that church.

In the last few months I came to realize the reason I was having such a hard time at church…it was the condition of my heart.  I have been disappointed in God, and I have been bitter towards Him and towards people who had received things from God I didn’t think they deserved.  I have also been disappointed in Him because He had not fixed things that I thought He should fix.

Mind you, not all of this centers around my childlessness.  There are also other areas in which my pride has been rearing it’s big ugly head.  I have  been envious, jealous, indignant, profane, and judgmental…I could go on.

I’ve also been a whole lot of self-righteous.  I’m a rule follower, and I think everyone else should be too.  I tend to get really out of joint when people don’t follow the rules and don’t play nice.  While it’s good to play by the rules and expect others to do the same when you let that tendency overtake you to the point that you’re angry about something constantly then something’s wrong…very wrong.  I knew I had to get to the root of my problem and work through the things that were making me so bitter.  I know some bitter people, and it scares me that I could end up like them if I don’t make some drastic changes.  So, I asked God to start dredging out the black bile of bitterness in my heart, and He’s begun the process,  I won’t lie to you and say it’s anything less than painful.  Bitterness is like the Bermudagrass that I pulled out of my flower garden last night.  It wraps it’s tentacles around everything good and chokes it out.  Just like I had let that Bermudagrass take over my beautiful flowers I had let bitterness over my childlessness (and other issues) wrap it’s tentacles around my heart, and I did not weed it out before it did great damage.

I have thought for years upon years that what I needed to complete me and our family was a child.  It was an understandable misconception, because it’s normal and natural for a woman to have a child…we’re biologically wired for it.  When it didn’t happen to me but happened to other people…some of whom I didn’t believe deserved it…that’s when the bitterness started taking root.  I let that bitter weed have it’s way for years, and it became so prevalent that it choked out many of the good things in my life.

However, after I had prayed that prayer for God to start weeding out the bitterness I had sort of an “ah-ha” moment last weekend as I cuddled my 2-month-old nephew.  He was being super-snuggly and looking at me with those innocent blue eyes and charming me as only a baby boy can do.  In the past that would make my baby-want meter go into the red zone, but at that moment something odd happened to me.  I felt an odd sort of contentment that I was Aunt Vicki and not momma.  I was going to eat that moment up and then hand him off to his mother to change the diaper he had filled while I was cuddling him.  I suddenly realized that a baby isn’t everything.  Seventeen years ago I held my other nephew, and now he’s gone, and not only is he gone…he’s on a dangerous path; one we’re desperately praying that he’ll turn from.  I couldn’t imagine what life would be like right now if we were his parents.  It would definitely be harder than the life we have now. It’s painful enough walking through this as aunt and uncle.

Getting back to my main point…God planned this life for me.  My pastor said it this morning.  I have to stop whining about the life he planned for me.  I have to give up these hopes and dreams and get to the point to where nothing matters but Jesus.  He was talking to a large congregation…many of whom have lost jobs, homes, cars, possessions, and status this year.  He was telling them to quit longing to get those things back and just start focusing on Jesus and seeing that everything that comes our way…seemingly good or bad…is always ultimately for our good.

So, I have to start seeing my childlessness as good…the distance from my family as good…my husband’s chronic illness as good and so on and so on. I have to get to the point to where all I need is Jesus, and I’m going to be working on that.  I know it’s not going to be an easy or pain-free journey.

If you would like to hear the message I heard this morning go here and click on the sermon from  Sunday Morning, August 9, 2009.   Loran Livingston is the real deal.  Strap on your seatbelt, because he’s an old-fashioned fiery preacher (I love that!), and he gives it to you straight.  My toes have chronic bruises from where he’s stepped on them, but by golly, I’ve deserved each and every bruise!

As Anne Graham Lotz says, “Just give me Jesus!”