Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Waving Adieu to 2014

I love New Years. New starts, memories, lessons learned. In short…hope and purpose. Two of my favorite things. This year has been insanely difficult. From school to work, to letting go of old dreams in pursuit of new ones, this year has probably been one of the strangest I have ever experienced.
The Bible says we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. So, that's what this post is for.
This year has brought new meaning to the Bible's promise that "His strength is made perfect in weakness." I have never felt so weak in my life. As I fell in love with my sweet second niece this year I realized I have never felt so vulnerable either. From hearing B's sweet voice call me "Mama," to holding EK when she reached for me, I felt a part of my heart awaken that I thought long dead…the desire for motherhood.
From seeing the beautiful marriage that my brother and sister-in-law share and finding a place of safety in their home, my heart begin to thaw. And this thawing brought with it, fear. What was happening to me? I always felt more comfortable alone. And all of the sudden…God brought new longing, a longing for community…family…
Asking my parents for help, my brothers for hugs, my sister-in-law for prayer. Jesus for guidance.
So many things have happened this year. Things that made my soul scream "Unfair!" My body has bruises from falls I didn't even know I took. My heart has wounds I don't even understand. And the old lies the enemy used to whisper don't work anymore, so he has come up with new ones. New lies that sting, new battles.  This year has brought a lot of dark.
Here's the wonderful thing about being vulnerable…I still win.
Trust is a choice. Life is a choice. A wonderful, confusing, so worth it, choice.
I told a dear friend of mine yesterday that I had never been so emotional in my life to which she said "Welcome to being human."
And it hit me. Up until this year my life has been lived in "Self-protection" mode. To be safe, I had to not feel, not want, not dream, not mourn. In no way was I allowed to be vulnerable. But, this year? This year was different. So many things have happened that in my past would have made me shut down.  The loss of a job I really wanted, the continuous loop of struggle that is CP, the letting go of old friendships, the living in a fallen world.  But this year? This year I have been vulnerable, emotional, teary, lonely, and every single second of it has been worth it, so worth it.
As I talked to my brother yesterday he checked to see how I was handling all these emotions (a new thing for me), and I said "It stinks, but even though I feel weak, I know I'm stronger than I think." He said, "That in itself shows how far you have come." And I have. I'm farther, deeper, stronger, and more purposeful than I ever dreamed I would be.
I'm ready to say goodbye 2014. But, I'm confident that 2015 will bring with it new dreams, new purpose, new friendships, and the fulfillment of age old promises. Because 2014 has taught me how to be vulnerable. 2014 taught me that life really does glitter when you choose it in the dark. I have made a lot of choices I wasn't confident in, but the one choice I will never regret, is life. A life spent believing in the Truth. Because though I have changed in 2014, He never does.

Bring on 2015!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

When God Hurts My Feelings -Choosing to Dream

This post is one of my more raw moments so if you don't want to read it, feel free to ignore the fact you came across it. I've been really wounded lately, so wounded I have not wanted to write because my heart has been angry, defensive, playing the victim, and about ten other unflattering adjectives. This past semester has been pretty awful in some ways, and pretty incredible in others. This has been a time of growth and I have hated every minute of it.
The only way I know how to convey what I have been feeling is to say that God hurt my feelings. That seems so wrong because He is God and He knows what's best, but my heart doesn't feel that way. I have been railing at Him because it feels like every time I dream, my dreams come crashing down around me, so down deep I don't want to dream because it hurts.
What it boils down to is that I don't get what I want. Selfish I know, but sometimes I want what I want more than I want what He wants to give me.
I didn't get a job I really wanted, CP has taken a lot from me lately, and relationally I haven't wanted to be around anyone because I am not a whole lot of fun right now. Walking around campus shortly after all of this happened I heard the Holy Spirit whisper one word, "Carmina." When you don't trust Me, remember her." 3 years ago when I went to Africa for the first time I walked into a room full of babies my heart was resentful I couldn't hold and I met a tall, willowy, grinning 10 year old who had feet like mine who instantly lit up at the realization that someone was a part of her world, even world's apart. I had been nervous that having CP would disqualify me from truly being able to give anything to the people of Africa, but one look at sweet Carmina showed me that CP was why I went to Africa in the first place. I knew then the truth of Romans 8:28 that "God works all things together for the good of those who love Him." And I do love Him. I love Him so much, I have realized that the more you love someone, the more potential they have to wound you. I just have to remember that He knows best.
Having said that, I knew that if God didn't open the job door I was supposed to go back to Mozambique long term this summer. But my heart was still so heavy that it didn't matter, I hurt too badly to think about doing what He wanted me to do.
I started to work on a research paper dealing with the stereotypical ways authors deal with women with disabilities in literature. Most authors usually promote a victim mentality that just ticks me off. So, as I railed against this author for making this character weak and victimized, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper, "Isn't that what you are doing?" It was said in such a gentle way, I couldn't do anything but acknowledge its truth.
I have been playing the victim and completely ignored the fact that I have a choice. I can choose to listen to the lies of the enemy who tells me that I am not going anywhere, that Jesus doesn't really love me, and that my life will be marked by dreams turned into nightmares. Or, I can choose to be the victor Jesus made me to be. I can choose to mourn what is unfair, cry when I need to, and then be strong. The point is when I cry, I can give into the lies, or I can run into the arms of Truth.
On the heels of this realization (Note the REAL in this moment), I went to work the Beltway Missions Coffee shop to begin to raise funds for Moz this year. I look down and see the girl that I am working this shift with is also going to Mozambique. Not only is she going, but a girl whom I love, who I found out is her best friend is going as well. As we began to talk about Africa I realized something. Jesus was saying "No" to the job dream, so He could say "Yes" to the Africa dream. My heart has always loved Mozambique. Now, I finally have the blessing of both the Lord, and my parents' to spend an entire 2-3 months investing in the people there, especially my girl. :). My heart is still in pain about some things, but I am learning to believe in His "Yes" for my life instead of the enemy's. When God hurts my feelings I have a choice. I can choose to believe that His feelings for me, His desires for me, and His love for me run deeper than any lie the enemy chooses to whisper. And today, that is the choice I make. I will choose life. I will choose Him. And I will choose to dream, because "He will give me above and beyond what I can ask for or imagine."