Heart in the Clouds

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #15

Between the last post I made and now, I've experienced what can only be described as a "dark downturn". A combination of situations caused me to hit a slide and lose perspective...not good. However, I love that God still speaks in the middle of emotional storms and when I choose to still myself long enough, I hear him.

I wish I were good at forgiving. I wish I were good at letting go and saying, "You win." But I'm not...I'm hopeless when it comes to releasing people from my judgment, especially when I've been betrayed or attacked. Have you ever experienced that? Everyone has, in one way or another, I suppose.

When I am betrayed or attacked by someone, especially when I can't defend myself against it, my first reaction is anger. I think of possible ways in which I can respond. I stew about the slight against me. I think of ways to get back at the person. That's human...but that's not what God wants me to do.

"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." - I Peter 3:9

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:21

GAH!!!

It's really difficult to just take certain situations with humility, but I'm going to try. I know that blessing comes from blessing. I know that only bad things come from responding in anger.

Forgiveness is a process. I can say that I forgive someone, but walking out that forgiveness in my daily life is a whole other matter, especially when I know the person will never apologize. God knows that, though. He knows my heart. He knows I would love to be able to forgive and bless immediately whenever I'm hurt. But I think God wants me to see how hard it is to truly forgive...maybe I'll get a clue about what it meant for Him to forgive me.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with responding to an apology. Forgiveness is an attitude of the heart that has to happen, apology or not. It's something you HAVE to do to be able to move on. But it's something that doesn't come easily.

I am not perfect. I never will be. I will always be a student. I will always be struggling with things like this. I guess the point is to learn something from every situation in which I find myself because God has something to teach me through every circumstance. That's the only way I can grow and I know that deep down.

God has good things for me. He has a purpose behind this whole thing. Maybe something I'll learn through this will help me to help someone else in the future. I don't know.

I wish growth weren't so painful sometimes, but it is. Ripping out the weeds makes me feel like my garden is a little bare.  But I am going to try choosing to bless rather than curse. I am going to keep myself open. I am going to release myself from the self-inflicted pain that is the effect of holding on to negativity. God, help me.



Today, I am grateful for...

Encouraging friends. There are a handful of people who have been there to encourage me through this time, most via text messages or FB messages because they live elsewhere. You know who you are, but you don't know how much I TRULY appreciate the fact that you all helped coax me out of a dark corner with your prayers and your profound encouragements. You may not have realized what you were saying or what I have been going through, but your thoughts lifted me.

God. I truly cannot tell in words how much His love means to me. I know I'm undeserving, but I am so thankful that He loves me in spite of that.

Realizing my weaknesses. I hate that I have such massive weaknesses, but I know that God's strength is perfect when I have none.

Lessons learned. Watching the recent tornado coverage on the news and hearing the interviews with survivors made me realize one thing...life, no matter how hard it can be or how many struggles suddenly pile on you, is something to hold on to and gratitude is so incredibly important. Someday, the struggle will be a distant memory.

Growth.

Perspective. It could all be gone in a second. Life is too short to let yourself be ruled by negativity or to choose to be a victim. What I go through is nothing compared with what some people have to endure. Getting the bigger picture is hard to do in a hard time, but it's necessary.


There's a song called "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns. The chorus is like this...

And I'll praise you in this storm,
And I will lift my hands.
You are who you are,
No matter where I am.
And every tear I've cried
You hold in your hands.
You never left my side.
And, though my heart is torn,
I will praise you in this storm.


I know He is always faithful, even when I'm not. I know He is good, even when I'm not even close. I know that life is beautiful and worth living. I know that there's a time for everything. I know that there is a Light in the darkness. I know that hard times come and they pass. I know that forgiveness is important, and I know that He is all I need.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #14

I let stress get the best of me. I hate all the moments when I have a difficult time just letting things slide or waiting for things to turn out. I put so much pressure on myself to get things right or make sure things are planned weeks before they happen. I feel like I have to be watchful all the time to make sure situations work out, like I always have to be "in the game." This usually happens when I lose perspective...

Well, this week I learned something from my 5 year old...it's a regular occurrence, mind you, but what I saw made me laugh and it made me think. He had his second t-ball game, which, if you know anything about 5 year olds who are learning a sport, you know it can be an interminable purgatory. :) Somewhere in the seeming hours of t-ball, probably in the 5th inning, Brendan was manning the outfield. By "manning," I mean looking up into the sky and spinning around, or crouching and playing in the dirt. As I watched, he reached down and picked up a dandelion and put it to his mouth. He took a deep breath and blew all the seeds into the wind. Then he smiled.

It occurred to me that I'm often so focused on "the game" and the pressure of trying to please everyone else that I forget to stop and take a moment to blow dandelion seeds to the wind. Was it what he was "supposed" to be doing? No. I even called out to him to pay attention. But he's a little boy, and there's something so precious about the fact that kids are so enthralled by the little things--like blowing on dandelions--even when there's pressure to perform.

So I'm going to learn from my 5 year old. I have plenty of things weighing on me at the moment, but I'm going to go outside and blow dandelion seeds to the wind. I'm going to press the pause button and get some perspective.

If you can relate to what I'm feeling, I hope you join me in hitting your own pause button. Smell the roses. Take a walk. Take a couple of minutes to watch the clouds, or smell the rain. Life is passing by too quickly to give in to pressure or to let stress get the best of you. God is always working, even though we can't always see the process. Sometimes we just need to let go of our plan, close our eyes and feel the wind.


I'm grateful for...

Mother's Day. I had a fun time with my kids. They woke me up with "breakfast in bed"...which included a carton of yogurt, and one of those little snack packs with cracker sticks that you dip in nacho cheese. It was too cute.

Sunshine and blue sky.

GREEEEEN! Oh, goodness...I am so enjoying every day of watching things grow. I love how nature is coming back to life.

Fourteen days of cyber school left in the year.

Group hugs. My kids are big fans of the group hug.

Coffee with flavored creamer.

God's faithfulness. He has never failed me and I need to remember that.

Sean's job. Even though I prefer that he be laid off, I am grateful that he has his job. God has a reason for him to be there.

Skype.

Friendship. I don't get to see my friends all the time because of our current schedule, but it's so nice to know that they are there.

It's the little things, people. Enjoy them. Life is too short.