Making a Difference

Someone took this picture of me, Rob and Bo one Sunday morning during worship last summer. This picture is priceless and is part of the reason I know why God has me here in NY.

Someone took this picture of me, Rob and Bo one Sunday morning during worship last summer. This picture is priceless and is part of the reason I know why God has me here in NY.

I remember first moving here to Long Island, I knew no one. I had Rob’s family which made things a little easier but I didn’t have a church family or anyone aside from my boyfriend (now husband)’s family and the transition to living in New York was a bit rough for me. I felt like a fish out of water. I missed everything about what I always knew home was — the south. I had lived in many places but there was something very different about this new environment and culture that had me feeling pretty claustrophobic and anxious. I was bound and determined not to get comfortable here. I started my new job, met some of Rob’s friends from high school and their wives but I kept a safe distance because I figured, why should I get close to anyone if I don’t plan on staying here?

Rob and I finally found our church after a year and a half of living here and even though I felt a sense of belonging after so long of feeling unsettled, I still kept a safe distance from people. I didn’t want Rob to think I was getting too comfortable and have a crazy thought of us actually staying in New York for good. I kept up with this ridiculous notion for years. I struggled so bad with the torn feelings, so much so that before we got married, I — for the first time in my life — saw a therapist, thinking I didn’t want to ruin a marriage before it started because of the resentment and helplessness I felt about living here on Long Island. That therapy didn’t help because it was a deeper rooted issue that would take me years more to discover. Once we started going to our church, after we were married, I met with my pastor’s wife one day, bellyaching about my woes of missing home. I remember her telling me that I should start praying differently; instead of begging God to get me back home, I should condition myself to accept that I’m going to be in New York forever and ask God how he can use me while I'm here. I didn't like that answer one bit. I continued on my quest to get the heck out of Long Island, New York, of course to no avail.

I'm not sure at what exact point I started to lose momentum of fighting to get off this island, maybe it was after the zillions of possibilities of moving which led to the zillions of letdowns. I was tired of feeling disappointed which turned into resentment, and so on and so forth. It could have been when Bo was born and I decided shortly thereafter that I didn't want to wish my life away when I had an answered prayer physically in my arms. For the last few years, something shifted in me, that I do know for sure. Of course I still miss so many things about what I will always feel is home to me but in the same regard, I think what I begged God for for so many years, I finally received. PEACE. I can't even count how many times I'd have an internal meltdown because I was still here in New York, I'd tell God I was giving everything to Him and that I just wanted His will for my life, and then I'd beg Him to show me what He wanted me to do next. This was a vicious cycle, over and over and over but I think deep down I really wasn't willing to completely let go of the dream of going back south. After many life changes throughout the course of these last 2-3 years, going through a desert season, coming out on the other end and then looking over the course of my life and seeing so much that I hadn't really noticed before, it was like the scales fell off my eyes and heart.

I don't have it all together and shoot, who really ever does anyway?! I do, however, truly feel like in so many ways I'm walking in God's will. I recently felt the nudge to volunteer for our church's youth group. TOTTTTALLLY out of my comfort zone so it must be God, right?! I don't know in what capacity this new venture will be and what it will look like but I answered what I felt was the call. I feel like I sound like a broken record because I've shared this with so many people but I figure if I can help at least one teen girl not go down some of the paths that I went down, that's a win/win. It's a win for the teen girl who doesn't have to feel regret or loss for mistakes that she may avoid and it's a win for God because all of this is about Him anyway.

As of December 6th of this year, it will be 8 years that I've lived here — yes, E I G H T! It's mind boggling to think I packed up all of my earthly possessions and moved, what feels like, a million miles away, 8 years ago. I don't have a clue how much longer God will have us here but I'm finally ready to stop kicking and screaming, and shush and listen to what exactly He has me here to do. Oh I know that He has been working through me and for me since the day I stepped foot on this island but I also know that I spent many years here not waiting well and that has stopped. I want to make a difference in the lives around me. I want to wait well as hard as it is sometimes. It's so easy to just coast as a christian but what fun is that?! We have a crap ton of things to get done on this earth — just look outside your window, there's a hurting world out there no matter what part of the planet you're on! I may have my bad days where I just really want to get a hug from my mama or sit out under the stars out back in my Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bill's yard, listening to the choir of frogs, crickets and cicadas but I know that God knows way beyond today and He has me right where He wants me. Even though I don't understand half of what He does, I know it's for my good and I know it's way better than what I've ever tried to plan.

• My life verse: Jeremiah 29:11-13 •

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

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Dry Bones

Faith in Jesus is the breath that gets us through the dry, desert places in life.

Faith in Jesus is the breath that gets us through the dry, desert places in life.

Life has been a bit busy during the first month of this new year..but what else is new? I have a lot on my plate but yet I find myself spinning my wheels--not sure if it's the wait 'til the last second philosophy I've always had. I don't know what it is about me but even if I've got a zillion-and-one things to do, and I plan and hash every detail out, I can't seem to focus on accomplishing the tasks at hand until the last minute. I might be a hot mess when finally getting to said tasks but by golly, I get them done and everything always works out. What can I say, I work well under pressure! So now I find myself with a crap ton to do work/creative wise but my mind is all over the place because I feel God doing something new but I'm not quite sure how to navigate it all. Do I jump...what if I fall? Do I continue to wait...what if I miss an opened opportunity? There's so many factors and pieces to what I feel God is possibly doing but I've thought I've felt Him moving before (with the Clark house two years ago) but was obviously wrong and was utterly disappointed in the end. My mama always told me that if I didn't know what to do or where to go, to not do anything, be still and just pray. My praying life isn't what anyone would probably consider to be a traditional one, especially as of late. Maybe I'm wrong for it, I don't know, but I tend to "think-pray" as odd as that sounds. My friend Alex said something a few years ago that I can totally relate to--that in high school, she would pray all day, it was almost like she had a continuous conversation going with God and that's, in a sense, what I do. I have all these thoughts and ideas rolling through my brain all day and during them, I find myself wondering if what I'm thinking is God's Will, or if He is orchestrating the things that I'm thinking. Of course I'll whisper little prayers to Him too and of course I also have those sit down, coming-to-Jesus meetings with Him but mostly it's just a continuous barrage of thoughts and "is this You, God?" prayers. Yesterday Rob took Bo to run an errand and CC was napping so I finally was able to have a little quiet time since I couldn't yesterday morning. I've been reading Ezekial. Have I retained everything? No, not one single solitary bit. I wanted to read Ezekial because of the story of dry bones which I've read (and highlighted in my Bible) before but I wanted to read the entire book to get the full picture of what led to the valley of dry bones. Needless to say, I'm going to have to read the book again when I'm done because all these conversations and visions that are exchanged between Ezekiel and God is too much to keep up with. Nevertheless, I forced myself to sit down and read a chapter yesterday while the house was still and quiet, then I knelt face-down in a fetal position on the living room floor and just stayed there for a few minutes. I heard recently during a sermon (can't remember whose) that sometimes you need to go to God in prayer and not speak, just sit and listen so I laid there on the floor and just listened...to myself breathe. It's so frustrating when you genuinely want to hear from God, are all but begging for some direction and all you hear is yourself breathing. I know I get distracted easily, I know I don't spend as much time in the Word as I should, I know I don't pray like I should, but when I finally still myself and get into a physical position of "ok God, I'm listening!!!", and all I hear is myself breathing, I find myself feeling silly for getting on my face to pray and glad that no one saw me down there. I know it sounds awful but I'm keeping it real. I'm ashamed to admit that when I finally uttered words to God while on my face, I started my conversation with, "if You're up there...". Now I could see someone saying that who truly had never had a relationship or encounter with God but me?! I was raised in church (not that that means a hill of beans but for arguments sake, I know better), have seen the hand of God move in more ways that I can count, but I found myself in a desperate state of "What do you want me to do, God??? What is my next move here?!" The words came flying out of my mouth before I could reel them back in and as soon as they left me, I immediately thought back to the miracle of Bo, and I felt awful for even stooping to that level of desperation and doubt. I know God is there. I know He hears my every prayer (so ironic to see myself type those words because CC had a sticker placed on her shirt at church on Sunday that read those same words). I'm so terrified of making the wrong move and falling on my face or getting my hopes up with one thing or another and what I truly feel God is calling me to is really just my own doing. How do I sift through the muck? I know, I know--most (if not all) would say to be in His Word, meditate on it and He will speak. But where do I even start? I'm in His Word everyday. Am I not in it long enough? Am I not reading what I'm supposed to be reading? Am I not desperate enough to hear His voice? I know He's there. Even though it's my human nature to doubt (and honey, let me tell ya, I am as human and imperfect as they come!), I can't bring myself to say, "peace out God, I'm not going to pass anything by you or acknowledge Your existence". He's engrained in me and always has been even when I've felt so far from Him. I've mentioned in a previous post about me having been in a dry, desert season and that I've finally felt that I'm coming out of it. While I'm not quite completely out of it, as Lauren Daigle's song exclaims, "breathe O breath of God...we call out to dry bones, 'Come alive!'". In my continuous waiting for direction, more than wanting answers and guidance, I pray that God would breathe some life on the dryness of my prayer life and that I can once again feel completely in sync with Him. I know the distractions that need to be tamed and/or eliminated so I guess that's the first step in watering these dusty, dry bones.

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