Tag Archives: inside-out

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

Reblogging this amazing post from Kayla Lemmon on All Our Lemony Things

There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike.

All my life, I’ve heard this phrase whenever I go through a rough patch. *And by rough patch, I mean a prickly, gnarly patch that leaves me bleeding to near death*. You’re probably familiar with those kinds of “patches”.

“God will never give you more than you can handle” is the phrase I’m referring to.

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And it’s a sweet sentiment, really. The people who say it are speaking from caring and concerned hearts.

BUT–it isn’t true.

I know that sounds harsh, but I promise I haven’t suddenly lost my mind or have become an angry-with-God bitter woman who hates the world. Actually, when I realized the simple fact that God can–and will–give us more than we can possibly bear, it got easier.

And it all started to make more sense.

I’ve often trudged through trials that overwhelm me. Ever since my childhood there have been trials that have made me “grow up” pretty fast. But granted, I know for a fact you’ve had your own fair share too, because that’s the reality of life. But this last trial is the one that shook me to my core and had me searching like a mad woman for answers as to why it was happening–and how I could possibly even survive it.

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I lost my Dad to cancer last month–if you’re a follower of mine, this is old news. But–it was absolutely horrific.

Every day leading up to his death was like walking through every level of hell–slowly– for lack of a better term. There’s no other way to describe it. The images…the sounds…the sleepless nights…the cries for God while we look on, helpless…the torment of rubbing morphine in his cheeks, praying it’ll absorb–but to no avail. The horrible, wrenching pain that came with lifting him up, laying him back down, lifting him up, laying him back down…because he became so restless and cried out for “home” every few minutes. And all along, in the back of my mind, I reminded myself that millions of people go through this, and have already gone through this, very thing. And it is simply unbearable. If you disagree–it’s because you haven’t been there.

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This trial was so consuming that I hate to even put it in the past tense–sometimes it still consumes me. Yesterday, at my Dad’s memorial service, it consumed me all over again.

I’ve suffered from nightmares where I relived the memory over and over mercilessly–I sometimes see his face on strangers that pass and worry that I’m going crazy. I cry over sad songs in the car and torture myself with stacks of pictures and yellowed photo albums. It’s beyond just missing him. And even with a firm testimony of the gospel and with peace that he is exactly where the Lord prepared him for, it is still too much for me to handle at times. It steals my breath–and it can steal my joy.

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So, the other day, I turned to the scriptures. I needed help.

I wanted to know where that phrase was that people kept repeating to me in church and at work and over the phone. Why did the Lord “trust me so much”?! Why did He think I could handle these kinds of trials?

And then I realized: I couldn’t find that quote because it isn’t there.

It never mentions anywhere in the scriptures that the Lord won’t give you more than you can handle. Yes, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 it speaks of Him giving us an escape from temptations so that it’s not too much to bear. But when it comes to pain, trials, heartache, and burdens– not once does it say it won’t be more than we can bear. Instead, it beautifully says this instead:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11: 28-30)

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The words struck my heart, as you can imagine. Christ is speaking to those of us who are carrying burdens much too heavy for our own shoulders. And in that one verse he simply states the reason why we are given more than we can handle: It’s so we can come to him. It’s so we can trust him enough to hand over our heavy, crippling burdens and let him carry the load.

You might be heavy laden right now like I was before reading and re-reading and re-reading once again this scripture that has never stuck out to me as much as it has lately.

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You might be shrunken with sadness or drowning in debt. You might be overwhelmingly angry at someone at church or aching under the pressures of raising children or maybe the inability to have them. You might be dealing with a terminal disease and you still have young children. And chances are–you might need your Redeemer to find you on the path and take up that heavy cross you’re dragging. Besides, even he tells us that he’s more equipped to carry it, so why not hand it over?

I’ve come to learn–slowly but surely–why I need Him.

I suppose it’s because of pride that I always thought I could just do things on my own. I’m strong, I’d say. I’m a tough cookie. I can help others through their tribulations while carrying mine all by myself. Well…wasn’t I wrong.

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I didn’t really know what needing him meant until I had no other choice. I didn’t know what it meant until I wrapped my arms around my middle so I wouldn’t fall apart–or the time I choked on tears and yelled toward Heaven. Or the times when I was utterly alone, and the silence was too much to bear. Those are the times that taught me he’s not just a want or a convenient symbol of love or a reason to do good deeds.

No, he’s the very air we breathe.

And he’s the only one who can make it bearable when life is simply anything but.

~Written by Kayla Lemmon

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Heart Rambles

There are deep places I don’t know how to process my way out of. Or if I even should.

Longing. Uncovering. Unveiling. Questioning.

The seemingly unrelated intertwine, vines growing in and out of each other, connected inside of me in some kind of whimsical garden where fruit trees grow over tomato plants and pumpkin vines wrap 1athemselves around rose bushes and potatoes sprout underneath the daisies.

Everything blooms and produces at once, whether in season or out.

Longing for much.

To create.

To embrace.

To enter.

Beauty, writing, twinkle lights, family, weighty words, advent flame, laughter, celebration,

Magical and spiritual, a slow dance and a jig.

Joy.

How can depth come from jigging or jigging from plumbing the depths?

How do the seasonal rhythms I  crave relate to thanksgiving, creating, relationship .  . . God?

What are words?

Their place within me and without?

And how is joy both cotton candy and meat and potatoes. Short magical romance and long soul-digging?

Being seventeen in a snap of the fingers, embracing pumpkin pie aroma when life grows hard, seeing the good where others criticize. Rose colored glasses? Impossible?

Judged. And yet desiring more, not less.

Entering into the moment. Creating the moment. Embracing the moment. Believing in the moment.

Vulnerable and child-like. Rolling eyes ridiculed. Lauded and applauded. Strength in soft flannel baby blanket.

Not Pollyanna, but not beyond liking her.

Miracle on 32nd Street silly.

Departures deep.

Both. Not either/or.

Stretching means embracing what others judge fluffy meaningless. And yet stretching also encompasses the deep places where others dare not tread.

Stretching means believing where some can’t.

And in all things, where are the words?

Do I trust them to germinate, to take root, to grow into an oak even as they pop up in crazy Dandelion yellow, determined little things, white daisies and bluets and Virginia Spring Beauties? Both platypus and regal lioness, tiny fish-tank turtle and mighty grey elephant? Dancing kitten and elegant giraffe?

Faith.

All this joy-seeking, word-growing, rhythm-searching returns there.

Of course.

Letting go of confusion, ego, questions. Holding longing loosely, lifting to Hands wiser than my own, while allowing the tears to beg for their place, for understanding and release, for fulfillment.

And yet knowing some ache is only treated in glory.

Letting it stand. Without giving up.

Trust.

Until Next Time,

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PS Found the rambling recently. I wrote it years ago, but it fits again as I re-enter my dreams to create. I let it go for a while, this focused writing thing. It was required, my time away. But now I return.

I’m Okay! Really!

No major life crises, no health issues, no shocking inner journey. Just space. Time. Preparing my kids and myself for the big leap to college, then processing the empty house and cleaning out drawers. Taking time to cry a little as a the kids step into adulthood. Rejoicing in a week vacation with a best friend. Choosing to be more interior, to spend a chunk of that time I often use for blogging to be private~me, my God, and my journal.IMAG0318  Taking time to ask who He sees in this new season for me.  I’m still hitting the sidewalks and trails and caring about being healthy inside and out. Blog posts are germinating, and as soon as it feels right, you’ll hear from me . . . special thanks to those of you who sent a little note recognizing my absence here. That meant a lot.

Until the posts start appearing again know that I’m here, still stretching, growing, even being a bit adventurous!

Until Next Time,

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Freedom to Move Forward Part II

south sudanI did something brave.

Different.

Unexpected.

(If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, this one won’t mean as much, so check it out!)

Just over a week I was surprised by the desire to visit a third world country as part of a team reaching out to spiritual leaders of a new country learning its freedom.

While I have long desired to serve others and even wished I could meet special people, like my World Vision “daughters,” I’ve never been one to jump at the idea of this sort of thing. Europe I’ve dreamed of visiting. Third world countries? Not so much.

But I couldn’t resist the truth: I was interested, longing to go, even.

But my mind went other directions, and I let the thought drop for over an hour until I “accidentally” stumbled right into the informational meeting about this trip.

Again intrigued, I stayed. Longing. Wondering.

I came home and went on-line to check out the application procedures. My computer wouldn’t let me into the system, and I walked away frustrated. Ended up in bed sick the next day and dragging for several after. But always in the back of my mind the desire lingered.

I prayed. Asked friends to pray. It seemed too big a decision to make without one of those huge, red check marks in the sky beside the “yes” (not that I’ve ever had that exact cosmic direction, but you know what I mean).

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As real life got in the way I assumed this, like many of my ideas (I’m pretty impulsive and interested in many thing!), would fall away.

Until Sunday, the deadline for that application.

Sunday Jerry and I took a drive in the mountains, lingered over a picnic lunch, and explored all the stuff 20140629_132412of yesterday’s post. As we descended back to the Colorado plains in our little silver car we were freer than when we began the climb. Hopeful for next steps. Excited about living outside the fear of getting it wrong.

We hit I-70, just below Genesee where the view opens up and reveals Denver far below, and I caught my breath.

“South Sudan,” I whispered.

“So it’s back to that,” said Jerry.

“I don’t have to wait for a cosmic sign. I can apply.”

And so I did.

God had revealed the freedom to move forward, to follow that desire inside of me calling out for attention.

To do something brave.

Different.

Hard and unexpected and adventurous.

To do it with His blessing even without a shocking confirmation of His will.

I could simply go for it.

Something that might turn out breath-takingly beautiful. Something that might hurt. Or even be dangerous. Certainly uncomfortable.

Something bigger than me.

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I came home, and my stupid computer (I say this with great affection) still wouldn’t let me into the application process. I stumbled a moment. Was it a sign I shouldn’t do this? I shoved the thought away and went with the forward motion of my heart.

Jerry offered me his computer, and I was in on the first try.

I don’t know yet if I will be chosen to even interview for one of the spots, much less as part of this team.

But I had the FREEDOM to try. The FREEDOM to reach way beyond who I am to do something I’ve never once before imagined.

The tears pool in my eyes as I type.

Where can I go in my newly-understood freedom of forward movement? What possibilities lie ahead that I never before dreamed? I have a catch in my chest where the breath should come out. It seems so crazy wonderful big.

This blog started as an inside-out journey to physical weight loss.

And that freedom plays into this one.

About a year and a half ago I was out for my walk. The pounds had dropped away. I had another 20 to go. I trotted downhill when blindsided by the urge to run. I couldn’t resist. I let those feet fly, pounding the pavement like I hadn’t done in years and years and years.

I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to run! “What in the world are You doing with me, God?” I whispered. “What are you preparing me for?”

I heard no answer, but felt his chuckle in the breeze upon my face.

At 210 pounds the idea of the sort of venture I applied for on Sunday would have been immediately dismissed.

But I am freed for forward movement. Free in my body. In my heart. In my mind. In my spirit.

I couldn’t sleep Sunday night. I just kept soaring.

Wishing you a freedom discovery of your own,

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(South Sudan pictures taken from Wiki.)

Water Under the Floor

It’s not earth-shattering, Lord.

It’s not death or disease.

But even such a little thing can feel like destruction.

Even such a little thing is an assault on your gifts.

And they were your gifts.

In a time of financial empty you gave them to me, one at a time, over the long season of want.

A dishwasher and a new floor.

Both hand-me-down gifts that looked brand new.

I should have paid closer attention when something didn’t seem right in front of the dishwasher. Why did I wait until the beautiful floor seemed to buckle before sounding the alarm?

My heart dropped as the dishwasher was pulled from the cabinets and we saw the gush of water.

I cried as we began pulling up my beautiful floor, one long gorgeous board at a time.

We don’t live in financial nothingness now. But we’re still unprepared for this expense in this season of college bills and baseball teams.

Habit has long taught me to worry at such times.

But it has also taught me to give my worries to you.

That floor was your promise to me that all that was wrong in my home could be provided for in a snap when you chose to move.

Not only were the boards themselves a gift, the labor of love, the weekend of friendship was from you, too.

But hanging onto the gratitude is a bit testy while I watch my gorgeous floor boards crumble from the wet, smell the rank of saturated sub floor.

I’m not sure how to deal with this, Lord.

Even if there are enough scraps in the garage for the repairs, we don’t know how to cut and lay them.

And there is the issue of the gaping hole where a dishwasher used to be.

(I’m not thrilled about doing the volume of dishes we go through by hand, Lord.)

I want to fight through to gratitude and hope and praise and faith.

After all, if you cared enough to give me these gifts back then, isn’t such still important to you now?

The floor that my sweet family has walked upon, where I have fed precious children meal after meal. The room I’ve opened to guests, no matter how we had to crowded around my small table.

You care about my floor.

You care about my dishwasher.

You own the cattle on a thousand hills. This is not even pennies to you, this repair, this new provision.

Guilt whispers to remember all I have in this land of America. That I have dishes. Food to put in them. A comfortable home, pretty floor or not. Guilt says I should not care so much about such things as broken appliances and broken beauty.

But you’ve been showing me that your voice isn’t guilt.

You teach me to care about others, look for ways to serve and give, but not to pretend I don’t care about my own needs because they seem petty compared.

My needs and desires are my own.

And they are important to you, the hopes of this mom in America, just the same as the hopes of a mother in Africa who today prays for more immediate, life-giving needs.

I won’t live in guilt. I won’t pretend I don’t feel this need.

I won’t live in the knee-jerk hopelessness and worry of the past.

I will live in faith of provision.

I will live in the Truth that You see and care.

I will remember the provisions of the past and look to the provisions of the future, no matter what form they take.

Friends, I started praying with pen and journal this morning, talking to the God who Loves about this issue (and others). But this little blog beckoned, this place where I’ve chosen to be vulnerable about the big things and small. This place where I’ve asked for prayer, and it has been given.

I’m not sure why I choose to share this mundane problem. Maybe because I so desire to take a stand for hope and faith and to it in front of the whole of the Internet seemed definitive. Maybe because I know some of your stories and how my little tales of provision have given you hope in your own long season of want. Maybe because I know some of you will whisper a prayer for my attitude and my provision. Maybe just because we’re journeying together, you and me, and this is today’s journey.

As I type I whisper a pray for your journey of this day. Whether issues are big or small assualt or whether it is a day of sheer ease, I ask Him to bless you, to provide for you, to show His love. I pray that you have hope and faith. That neither you or I try to ease the stress by stuff that never fixes anything, like pigging out on cheese dip and chips. ;o)

Until Next Time,

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Photo Phobia

Is it a girl thing or a darkness thing?

Or both?

Before I opened my eyes this morning the heaviness attacked. The insecurities. The “less-thans.”

Why?

Because I had an appointment for a professional head shot.

All this angst over a picture?!?!

I don’t even mind being in front of a camera. Flashing my smile comes naturally.

But I almost cancelled.

Tears threatened. Voices assaulted from inside myself.

Look at those bags beneath your eyes. Make-up is not going to cover them.

You don’t have the right clothes. In fact, you never do. Even if you had lots of money to spend on them you wouldn’t know good taste.

And then I did something really smart.

I got on the scale. To torture myself, I guess. I knew I’d put on a little weight with all the hospital stays, grief, and inactivity of the last couple of months. I knew this and have been combating it. Walking again. Backing off the high calorie food (well, except for at the graduation party this weekend). So why, this particular morning, did I find it important to ascertain the exact number on the scale?

You’ve gained a few pounds. It’s going to show.

Wasn’t this picture supposed to be about the new, slimmer you?

How are you going to smile when you feel this way? It is a wasted effort.

I  would have chickened out except for one thing.

The photo session was a gift. A friend of mine encouraged the studio where she works to offer a free professional head shot in recognition of my weight loss so I could update my website.

How could I run from such generosity?

“Honey,” I told my husband. “I’m in one of those moods. If I talk to you about it you’re going to be frustrated, and it won’t be helpful, so this is me NOT talking about it. But would you please pray for me?”

“Is this about clothes for the picture?” His words trailed away as I stomped off, leaving him to take up my ridiculous attitude with God.

(My dear hubby likes to solve problems, and frankly when a girl feels fat and ugly and like she has no classy clothes a man can’t fix that.)

I cried to God above for mercy from my girl self. Emailed my closest praying friends and admitted my nasty girl moment. Asked them to pray that God’s joy would shine from me in those pictures even though I wanted to stay home, curl up, and cry.

I felt bloated and ugly and insecure and teary. I’d blame it on the monthly only I *think* I’m past all that at the ripe age of 48.

I grabbed my Body Balance and then my metabolism booster. Had some protein and a cup of coffee. Climbed into a hot shower.

The prayer and the water washed over me, and the darkness began to lift.

I put on eye shadow thinking I should have someone teach me how to properly apply it. Thinking I should have done this picture thing when my talented daughter with the cosmetology license was off work to make sure I looked right. Temptation to return to my inadequacy diatribe beckoned.

But I’d determined not to flake out, so instead I pulled out the mascara, dried my hair, and picked out my jewelry.

As I kissed my hubby good-bye he grabbed my hands and slowed my exit. “You. Are. Absolutely Stunning.”

Maybe husbands can help fix this dark girl stuff. Not forever silence it, but help.

I climbed into the car wondering where all the angst came from. Was it as simple as being a woman? Did it go back to the years of obesity? The lean years when I couldn’t buy new clothes?

Or was it deeper and more insidious?

Flipping radio stations between Christian music and the country stations, I sought positive input. It was  a love song from a country band that further shook me from my insecurities. Like God was asking me to receive those words from Him–romantic, loving words that said I was beautiful, important, and worth His notice.

I breathed deep of that idea.

Remembered HE made me. And I’d been dissing His handiwork.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That’s what you said, God. Thank you for making me. That You think I’m beautiful.”

When I finally pulled into the parking lot of the studio 45 minutes later I felt almost myself. No more lurking tears and only a touch of all that insecurity.

The session was actually fun. The photographers didn’t turn a critical eye to my clothing choices, just sweetly helped me make the best decisions. They pulled out that huge camera with the long lens and said things like:

Beautiful!

You’re a natural!

You’ve got that joy thing going.

Love that smile.

You look great!

I told the ladies it would be cool if they’d just follow me around every day saying those things to me.

They laughed. I did, too.

But what if?

What if every time the darkness said I was ugly, fat, inadequate and without taste I’d said back, “I’m beautiful! I look great. Love my smile! I’m a natural!”

Why?

Why do we women find it so easy to be critical and so hard to be good to ourselves?

Why can’t we just embrace the beauty within?

Why can’t we simply believe in it? In ourselves?

Until Next Time,

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PS I started writing this yesterday but didn’t get it posted. Today I wonder what was so hard. The happy ending is that the pictures turned out great. I’ll post the two shots I chose when the final photos come in a few weeks. All that angst . . . for what?

Beauty in the Ordinary

20140505_144349-1-1My youngest son has a new girlfriend. She’s super cool and has a real heart for people. She’s traveled multiple times to third world countries, helped develop a video to promote a ministry to the poor in another country, serves little kids every week at church, and is constantly looking for ways to help women and girls who suffer.

All this and she’s only sixteen.

Last week she invited me to her house. She and her mom threw a jewelry party, only they weren’t raising money for themselves or working to get free product or even helping out a friend who had a small business. 100% of the profits of their party went to help women who need a safe place to live.

My girl and I went to the party, and my hubby joyfully encouraged me to spend money. I bought a gorgeous German silver piece and a less expensive, more whimsical set.

As much as I love the classy look of my more expensive necklace, I think my favorite is the other. It was made by a woman to dared leave a bad situation and believe she could have a new life. I’m not only impressed by her courage, I’m impressed by her ability to find beauty in places others wouldn’t.

See, the beads on my necklace are made from pinto beans.

Poor man’s food.

Polished and paired with silver.

This  woman saw beauty in the ordinary and dared to believe it could become something extraordinary. She took the raw materials available to her and created a fashion statement.

I wept when I showed the necklace and earrings to my husband. I want to be a woman who takes the mundane and makes it shine. Who sees art when others see dinner. Who takes whatever is at hand and reshapes it into beauty.

Who has eyes to see beyond.

Until next time,

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PS Been thinking about the possibilities of the Ditch the Can movement. Of how social network marketing could use this vehicle to raise funds for women like the one who made my necklace or to help orphans in Africa or buy school supplies. Dreaming about what it would look like to set up a chain of non-profits who helped support each other’s causes by building on each other. Anyone want to dream with me???