I heard this saying from a dear friend just the other day. “You can’t buy puppies at Kroger.” She was upset about yet another negative encounter with her mother and we were talking about how those mother/daughter relationships can be so tricky. She was upset more with herself than with her mother’s behavior. She kept saying, “I know that Kroger doesn’t sell puppies, but I keep going there anyway.” It took me a minute to realize what she was saying…but then it hit and sunk in. She knows how dysfunctional her relationship is with her mother, yet she expects a different outcome each time they interact. She expects that her mother will be loving and supportive and caring…but guess what – she’s not. It’s like expecting to walk into Kroger and buy a puppy, when you know that they don’t sell them. The more I kicked around this phrase, the more I began to think about other ways that this relates to real life and to other situations. I have been blessed to minister to many people over the course of the last year and a half. I have met some amazingly faithful, strong people who have had experiences that I can’t even fathom. I have also met people who I know needed the Lord so badly in their lives, but remained lost. There are a lot of lost people out there trying to buy puppies at Kroger. They are seeking peace and comfort from people and things, but sadly, they will never find true happiness and contentment in those people and things. True peace and true life comes from a relationship with Jesus. Not from a man or woman, not from a drink, not from a pill, not from shopping, or food, or wealth or fame. Its so sad to see people hurting and lost, looking for fulfillment from the wrong sources. I know this all too well. For many years I sought acceptance and love from so many negative places. I was lost and wondering around trying to find what only God can give. Thankfully we serve a God who is merciful and pours His grace out on us daily. I have found such happiness in living my life for God…and I want everyone else to have what I have. God’s love and acceptance are more than enough to mend any hurt, heal any wound, and calm any storm. I went back to my friend yesterday and shared these thoughts with her. I thanked her for sharing her insight with me and for allowing me to listen to her. God is so good at putting people in our lives from whom we can learn so many valuable lessons about life, and about ourselves. I am thankful for the lessons I continue to learn from those around me. I am thankful to God for fulfilling all of my needs as He sees them.
The house is completely dark and quiet this morning as I sit and reflect. Recently I have been battling challenges and adversities – mostly within myself. I do my best to be a positive, happy person…but sometimes I fail miserably. Lately, this has been the case. I feel like I have been bombarded with one thing after the next just trying to with test my will, or topple me. Through the difficulties, I will have a few bright moments when I can calm myself and remind myself that God – the creator of the universe – is truly in control of my life…I just have to let Him lead. During these shining moments, I am at peace and can just let go and let God. The problem is that I don’t allow those feelings of peace last. Yes…I’m a control freak…not only do I feel the need to control the moment…I’d be happy if I could control the next – say 20 years. And yet I know that each and every time I get in the way of myself and try to lead, I fail miserably, end up worried, upset and in a pretty deep state of depression. I spent a lot of time over these last few days truly listening to God and trying to just be in His presence. He wants me to count the abundance of blessings He has given me. He truly has plans for me – I just keep getting in the way. Big plans. God gave me a wonderful person to journey with…a person who loves God, loves me unconditionally, has a heart for those who are hurting, and has an amazing talent with which to share God’s message and His love. I can’t imagine my life now without Brian Suman. God knew that Brian and I would be able to do great things for Him together. God gave me a mission field of children to teach and to nurture every day. God gave me two awesome children of my own. God gave me the desire and the drive to write music that will share His good news and His love. He has chosen me – ME! – unworthy me, to minister to others through music. As I type I am humbled to see just a small number of the blessings God has covered me with. I am in awe of His love for me. I am comforted by the fact that I know He has a plan for me and for my life…and that the challenges that I face are blessings too! God is making me stronger through adversity. The sunrise is beautiful this morning…yet another gift from God. My prayer for today is that I will not dwell on the small challenges of my own life, but that I will go out today and be thankful for the abundant life God has granted me…and that I may be a blessing to someone else.
I have never been the type of person to believe that if I live my life a certain way that all things would be rainbows and sunshine all the time. That’s just not how life works. I am not perfect…but I try to live the way that I know I should. I try each day to become a better version of myself (thank you Matthew Kelly). And living life in a way that I remain true to myself and my beliefs feels good. I like myself a lot better when I’m serving others, speaking kind words, just overall content and at peace. But life is still not rosey all of the time. Life is not problem free. There are still bills to pay, family issues to deal with, work/school stuff to get through. That is called life. If I’m not careful, I could let the “life” stuff get in the way of my living. I have been guilty of that on plenty of occasions (even within the last week). I could get discouraged and scared and all those other emotions that like to try and steal peace and contentment…but why? Life is going to happen…and sometimes its not going to be pretty. If we know these emotions are coming, why try to fight the downs? I read recently that we should not fight the things we feel, but rather embrace and own our emotions for what they are. I truly believe this shifted my thinking. Instead of fighting the worry or fears, I have learned to accept it for what it is and go on with my day. It makes it a whole lot easier to get back to “the good stuff.” I used to be one to feel sorry for myself and my problems. It seems I was often hosting self-pity parties. I look back now and realize that I wasted those times trying to fight real emotions…when I could have just accepted them, and then moved on – with them – and kept on going. This change of thinking allows me to own my feelings, but not wallow in them. I have learned that I can carry those feelings around, but not let them weigh me down. I can be thoughtful about the way I’m feeling, as yet still find reasons to laugh. Have I mastered it….? No way. However, I have truly grown and come to a better understanding of myself and my life. Each day I become a better me.
I went to practice last night for the newly formed worship team at Foundation Community Church. Driving there I was in a “funk” to say the least. My day had been plagued by one problem after another. I was feeling like I just couldn’t catch a break. Looking back, those “problems” were little more than minor inconveniences, but at the time the combination of all of them were troubling. So by the time I was on my way to practice, I was fighting tears (and barely winning), sick to my stomach, and was the guest of honor at my very own pity party. We were working on a new song last night (new to us), called “Mighty to Save.” I had heard this song many times, and had always liked it…but last night I fell in love with this song. I sat there, buried in problems, singing about a God so wonderful, so might to save…how could I not get over myself? The problems I was dealing with were nothing compared to the power of the God I serve. We sang the song over and over and I walked away from that practice uplifted and strong and free. Our God is mighty to save…He saves me from myself everyday.