Friday, February 28, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Choose

I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, writing for five minutes with no extreme editing or overthinking. This week’s prompt is “Choose.”


Faith, for me, was a choice.

The night a pastor laid his hand on a Bible and said, “Either all of it’s true, or none of it is,” I chose.

I chose faith.

And maybe that seems simplistic, or na├»ve, or somehow not spiritual enough. But it’s true.

I needed something and here was hoe. I was tired of grappling with points of law I didn’t understand. I was exhausted with fighting Jesus’ insistent tugging.

So I chose.

When I hear people talk about being wildly in love with Jesus, I can’t always relate. I am grateful to Him, yes. But I don’t know that I can say I’ve had more than a few glimpses of that wildly-in-love feeling.

Perhaps that too is a choice, to keep getting to know Him that I might more fully love Him.


Five Minute Friday

Monday, February 10, 2014

Books Read in 2014: Not Marked

One of my goals this year is to make time for one of my favorite pastimes and read at least one book a month. My pre-child self scoffs at such a small number, but now? If I can read one book a month, I will feel victorious. Since one of my other goals is to write on a regular basis, I figured I’d combine the two and write about the books I read this year.

NotMarked by Mary DeMuth

Mary is a Christian author and speaker who shares about living an uncaged life. She has told the story of her sexual abuse before, but in Not Marked, she details her healing journey in a particularly open and vulnerable way. Her husband Patrick contributes his perspective to each chapter as well.

This book is close to my heart. I am a survivor of rape and sexual assault. I was blessed to find a good Christian counselor to help me work through the continuing aftermath, but this isn’t something you simply “get over.” Even after years of healing work, the effects are still with me and always will be. Good Christian resources for abuse survivors are few, so when I heard that Mary was crowd-funding this book, I contributed. The world needs this book, and I am so grateful for her bravery in writing it.

Reading Mary’s words made me feel validated. I breathed huge sighs of relief, realizing that I am not alone in my struggles. Simply knowing that someone else out there gets it, even someone I may never meet, is somehow comforting. She knows what it is to be angry with God, to feel inadequate and helpless, to fight to forgive. She has done and is still doing the hard work and is risking much to share her hard-won insights with others.

I particularly appreciate Mary and Patrick’s handling of how one spouse’s abusive past impacts the current relationship. They acknowledge the sometimes messy reality of being married to an abuse victim and discuss ways spouses can work together to bring healing to the individual and the couple. Patrick’s contributions helped me think about how my past abuse affects my husband, in a way I honestly never quite have before.

There is tremendous grace, freedom, and understanding in these pages. I highly recommend Not Marked for fellow survivors and those who love them.

Monday, February 3, 2014

2013 Highlights and a Word for 2014

I originally planned to post this last week, but then I got sidelined with occipital neuralgia and ended up accomplishing very little other than catching up on Grey’s Anatomy. (Am I supposed to care about the new interns/residents? Because I don’t. And I still miss Lexie and Mark!) It seems past time for a New Year’s-themed post, but I’m putting this up anyway.

I subscribe to MaryDeMuth’s Live Uncaged ezine (which I recommend). In her latest edition, she shared a list of things she did well in 2013 and encouraged her readers to do the same. Since I am by nature a perfectionist who excels in beating herself up, I thought this was a worthwhile endeavor.

In 2013, I: 

  • Actively took care of my health. When things didn’t feel right physically and emotionally, I contacted my doctor and received treatment for post-partum depression and hypothyroidism. I joined a gym, challenged myself to try new workouts (like Spin and BodyCombat classes), and learned to enjoy fitness. I spent more time experimenting in the kitchen, meal planning and trying new recipes. 
  • Pursued community. Life with a husband, toddler, full-time job, house, animals, etc., is busy, no question. After tending to the necessities, there is little time or energy left for anything else. I learned that it is worth every bit of the work it takes to build and maintain the relationships that nurture my soul. I am richly blessed not only with sweet friendships that span years, but new ones as well. When I felt alone as a Christian working mom, I connected with fellow mamas in the (in)courager community group for new working moms. After years of struggling to build relationships with others at our church, my husband and I stepped out of our comfort zones and joined a family dinner ministry. In the course of an evening, we went from being on the verge of leaving our church to looking forward to Sunday mornings. And I have to give a shout-out to my Mommy and Me friends! I had no idea when I went to that first M&M group that I would still be friends with these wonderful ladies, watching our kiddos grow together. Community is life-changing and I am grateful for mine. 
  •  Said yes to leading ministries. “Leader” is not a word I have ever applied to myself, but in 2013, God brought me some rather unexpected ministry opportunities. I co-led the New Working Moms group for the fall (in)couragers session. My co-leader and I started a blog for working moms. And at the end of the year, I spoke with our pastor’s wife about starting a ministry for working moms at our church (see above re: the benefits of being connected!). 
  •  Parented! This is perhaps my biggest accomplishment of last year and any other year, for that matter. I started 2013 with a 7-month-old and ended it with a 19-month-old. While I still wonder how on earth I am enough of a grown-up to raise a human being, I do think I grew into the role of mother a bit more last year. I still feel frazzled quite often, but I also don’t always feel like I’m living in survival mode either. Our daughter is healthy, happy, and mostly delightful. I call that a win.

I did write down goals for 2014. It didn’t take me long to realize that I need to drastically simplify the list. I am, however, keeping the word I chose for the year: seek.

It encompasses what I want to develop in my life: a renewed focus on God. I want to earnestly seek His perspective day by day. I want to model a life of relationship with God for our daughter. This is sadly foreign to me. Praying is often what I do after I freak out and make to-do lists. I turn to the Lord when I exhaust myself and my own options, instead of looking to Him first and remembering that He is my best hope and guidance. My hope and prayer is that seeking His will and living in relationship with Him will become more natural to me throughout the year.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;  my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1