Pandora

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.

Pandora bracelets are a great way to define who you are. It starts with a bracelet and its up to you to add charms to it. There are so many to choose from. Hobbies, sparkle, birth stones, sports, professions, Disney characters, seasons…you name it and there’s probably a Pandora charm to suit.

Last year I got a Pandora bracelet for my birthday. It was given with love and while I liked it a lot, it ended up in the jewelry box and was hardly worn. Kind of like my relationship with Jesus was last year…given with love, simple, classic, beautiful but not appreciated for what it offered. I was a ‘pray when I need something gal’ last year. I had no idea how desperate I was for the all loving, all consuming, all fulfilling relationship I could have with Jesus. I would only pray once a month or so. The Christmas list prayer. You know the kind….Dear Jesus, please let me have….please help me find….please fix this mess I”m in. That prayer. The totally selfish kind.

So, the bracelet stayed in the jewelry box, like my stagnate walk with Jesus and thats when I officially fell apart. All my eggs were in one basket and that basket flipped over. I was a mess. The basket was removed and all I was left with were broken raw eggs. I knew I needed to change. I knew what I was doing wasn’t working. I knew I was sad, angry, lost, and tired of trying to fix things on my own. Everything I did to try and fix only made things worse. Believe me…things got real ugly.  Talk about egg on my face!!!

I decided to change how I ate and see if that would help. It was a great start. I felt amazing, was running, eating healthy and physically I felt great. I felt so good I decided to change my heart. I kept trying and trying but everything I tried backfired in my face. It made me look bad…REAL BAD! I was putting my worst self, my worst foot forward and getting nowhere. So sad to be in a place where you are trying so hard but everything is going backwards right?

In all of this I forgot to pray. I never prayed. Not once. Finally last August I had a moment where Jesus literally woke up my soul. I prayed. Jesus, I surrender. I can’t do this on my own. I can’t fix what’s broken. I give it all to you. Everything! My hurt, my sadness, my broken self, my ruined friendships, my control…my stubbornness. You get it all. Have fun fixing me and good luck! I’ve really gotten in my own way!

He heard me. The fixing also started right away. I reached out to a friend and asked if she knew of a bible study and she said that she was starting one THAT VERY WEEK at her house and I was welcomed to join: Jesus speaking through a sister in Christ. I happily accepted and one week later the light bulb was on in my heart.

I felt different. I felt joyful. I felt Jesus working to change my heart, my attitudes, and the best part was I was now hungry to be his servant. I couldn’t get enough of his love. I prayed all the time and my prayers were the thankful ones…not the asking ones.

My friendships changed too. New sisters in Christ who I’ve known only casually until September of last year. I now feel like I’ve known them forever. The comfort, the bond, the love, the respect and the true intimacy that can only be found when your foundation is based on a mutual love for Jesus. Just pure love and acceptance…just like Jesus gives to us. It’s an incredible feeling.

I got my Pandora bracelet out this spring and began to see it with different eyes. Last year’s bracelet would have been filled with Disney charms…things that I thought would make me happy (like my life without Jesus). They are all beautiful in their own way but this year I was drawn to the charms that sparkled, the new rose gold line that just came out.  I was craving new Pandora like I was craving my new relationship with Jesus.

The bracelet works best with a safety chain. In the event that the clasp comes undone the bracelet goes flying and all the charms go flying too! I’ve seen this happen and I’ve searched on the floor for one to no avail. Safety chains are a good idea. I ordered one and when I went to put it on my bracelet, it didn’t work. It wouldn’t do its job. Instead of being securely tethered to the bracelet, it flew off too! That safety chain’s like me trying to keep things together on my own without Jesus. When I’m in control, nothing works…the clasp opens and beads fly all over the place. Some get lost. Even my own safety chain won’t keep things in place.

I got new beads this year for my birthday. I wept when I opened them and saw how beautiful they were. I couldn’t wait to put them on my bracelet. Rose Gold, sparkles, my initial…all gorgeous and all brand new…just like my heart for God.

I got one more bead yesterday. It sparkles, it glows in the dark…and the best part: It seals the bracelet! That one bead threads through and protects all the others from flying off! My quiet force, your bead holds all the beads in place. My sisters in Christ, YOU hold me together. My sisters in Christ…you are my safety chain!!!

Forever thankful that we are not meant for our journey to love the Lord alone. Forever thankful for my Pandora beads.

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In the Middle of it All

Dear mom,
I’m sorry I haven’t written you sooner. I’ve been too sad to. Every milestone this year is difficult. The holidays and now spring birthdays with the girls. I think the next few weeks are going to be worse then when you died because I know how much we all loved spring.

You’ll be happy to know that I hit Target on your behalf yesterday to the tune of slightly less than $400😀…just on Easter baskets!!! I thought of you as I pushed the very full cart through the aisles knowing you would have gone nuts over all the adorable spring things! Umbrellas, spring jammies, Easter stuff….I hit it hard! I know you were smiling from heaven and I know you would have gone nuts if you were with me here! Target is just the best!

I only cried once on Elizabeth’s birthday. It was when my friend sang happy birthday into the answering machine for Elizabeth. I lost it because it was something you would always do and I was so happy and sad at the same time when she sang it. Elizabeth had a wonderful birthday. We made a lemon pound cake just like the ones you made and she was so happy. I am amazed at how comforted I was that day. God knew my heart, he knew what I could handle and thankfully he put a protective bubble around me all day so I could be happy and truly celebrate Elizabeth.

I’m praying for the same for Lauren’s birthday too. It just gets sadder though because her birth was such an incredible time in our lives and you were there for all of it. We rushed around getting everything ready so we could relax one day before she was born and all the rushing caused me to go into labor! I love how I told you it was no April Fools joke that I was in labor and you and the girls shot out of bed at 4:00am and were ready to go!!

You photographed the whole birth, you held my hand, you held one of my legs when I pushed, you cut the umbilical cord, and you were the first one to speak to Lauren. Your bond with her is so strong mom. It always has been and I think it was because you spoke to her first.

We had so much fun the first week she was home. You slept right next to me and woke up every time Lauren did and helped me. You and me snuggled in the bed and Lauren right next to us in her Pack and Play. You saved me that first week. Absolutely saved me. I was so grateful for your help.

The girls miss you. They miss you so much. They cram their feet into the sandals you bought them last year for spring. It absolutely breaks my heart because they are too big for the shoes now yet insist on wearing them because they were a gift from you.

Lauren’s birthday, my birthday, Easter Sunday, and Mother’s Day will be like taking a bullet each day. I have Jesus and that’s everything. I don’t know how people grieve without the comfort of our savior. I am comforted but there are still moments of pure grief. It pours out loudly and without reservation.

There are so many things I want to tell you every day. I want to pick up the phone and call you but I can’t. I want to compare gifts with you to make sure you didn’t get the same thing because we have the same taste! I got glasses…they are really cute. I took a selfie and you would have been the first person I would have sent it to. I check my email every day but there’s nothing from you. I’m getting my hair done today so my roots won’t get too grown out. You’d be proud. I’m still eating healthy and feeling great! I’m dying for you to come over for a week so I can cook for you and you can take pictures. You can go through the girls closets and pick out adorable outfits and we can have a photoshoot.

I can’t buy a new comforter for the bed because I don’t want to let go of the one you gave me. I know it has rips in it but I still can’t buy a new one. Elizabeth is trying out for Headliners at school in a few weeks. It is a singing and dancing group. I’m so proud of her and I know you would be too. She’s a performer at heart.

I weep for Bekah, Rachel, and Sean. I want to scoop them up and hold them every second of every day. I want to take away their tears and make them happy. We all are going through the same sadness but it makes me sadder to know that my sissies and brother feel the same as I do. I can’t fix it for them and I want to so desperately. It breaks my heart knowing you aren’t here anymore.

I have amazing friends. Sisters in Christ who are everything to me. I have two bible studies I go to and I have learned so much about true friendships, trust, love, and most importantly of all, how to have a relationship with Jesus. So overall, I’m worlds better than I was this time last year. In fact, I’m a different person entirely. How I see people…what I stear clear from. I’m changed, grateful, I’m whole, redeemed, and most of all I’m comforted in the midst of it all.

I miss you momma. I miss you so much. But I know I’m making you proud of me in Heaven. I’ll write sooner next time I promise. I know you are happy where you are. Give grandma and granddad a hug and kiss for me ok? Love you momma,
Susanna

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Curly girl

Lauren’s hair is just like mine: curly…very curly. We don’t need brushes or combs when we fix our hair. We just run our hands through it and go. This morning however, she picked up a brush and proceeded to force it through her hair. She said she wanted to have straight hair today. It hurt her to try to brush the curls straight and the brush kept getting stuck in her hair. She did it anyway.

I get it. It’s fun to see a different look. She’s also proud that she was able to do something for herself and see the result. I wanted to tell her not to brush it because it looked beautiful just the way it was but I let her have her moment and she was proud of how she looked.

I’m a curly girl…44 years of natural curls and waves on the top of my head. I have fought them, pulled them, straightened them, thrown them in a bun, and wrestled with them to be smooth and frizz free. I have finally figured out through overpriced products and years of wisdom that you don’t fight with curls or you will end up looking like Roseann Rosanna Danna from Saturday Night Live. It’s just not worth it.

I used to wash my hair and then spend almost 30 minutes drying it with a hair dryer. Then place it in hot rollers, and then finish smoothing it out with a curling iron. All this in Florida…in the summer…I’m ready for a shower as soon as I’m done getting ready from all the heat of the effort! Only to go out in the humidity and look like I just stuck my finger in a light socket. Wasted effort to say the least but it’s how I used to feel ‘at my best’ when going out.

Silly girl, you’re a curly girl. You are meant for bouncy, wild, out of control, happy, joyful, fluffy curls! Why fight what God gave you? Why try to manipulate what God gave you? Why try to change how God made you? He made us in his image…our beauty, our differences, our personalities are all made according to what he wanted for us. It’s interesting to compare all the times I have fought with my hair to my spiritual walk.

I would only feel better if I make my hair do the exact opposite of what it’s meant to do. I’ve done this with Jesus….”I’m going to do things my way because I feel confident in how they will turn out”. It never turned out the way I wanted it to. Jesus knows better. He gave me curls because that’s what he wants me to have. Wear them naturally and don’t fight them. Allow them to be what they are. Wild hair is beautiful hair! It’s fun hair! It’s my personality: big and happy 😀

My personal walk with God: Love Jesus naturally and don’t fight him! Allow your relationship with him to be what it’s meant to be, natural and free flowing. Having a relationship with him is beauty in its truest form. When you are with God he flows through you…it comes through you. You feel it, you live it, and you share it with others because it’s just too good a feeling to keep all to yourself. This comes from not fighting how he made you, and using how he made you to glorify him.

So while I might throw them in a bun on some days and I’m going to for absolute certain cover them in bleach, I will no longer fight my curls…I embrace them, welcome them, and on most days love them❤ . Curly girl= me. Seeking Jesus= me.

 

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Do not fear 365

Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand.

‘Do not fear’ is written 365 times in the Bible! Over and over again the reminder is there… in case you missed the other 364 times God has spoken to you telling you to ‘not fear’, he puts it in the Bible one more time just for good measure.

Good thing for me that it’s in there so much because I woke up terrified today. Nothing and everything was scaring me. I am of the philosophy that there are indeed mountains everywhere instead of molehills. A headache is a brain tumor, an infected toe means it will have to be amputated, and when my 4 year old woke up with no appetite I was pretty sure she was going to come down with typhoid fever while we are on vacation. I have no idea what typhoid fever is but I was pretty convinced she was going to contract it.

That was my morning. Gripped in fear. Completely wrapped up in fear…so silly when I write it down but when it takes over it can really take you for a ride you don’t want to be on. I caught myself once again forgetting to give it to God first. He knows us before we know us. He already knew how I woke up today and he was just waiting for me to get out of my own way so he could take over.

My prayer was simple: I’m terrified today God and I don’t want to be. I give you my fears because you conquer everything. Take my heart, take my fears, take it all.

He heard me. We went to lunch at one of our favorite southern restaurants and while I was still pretty terrified and all I wanted to do was go back to where we were staying and hide, my husband found a game place he wanted to check out. I put a smile on my face and went along with it because:
a. He was driving and I had no choice but to go along
b. He was driving and I had no choice but to go along

However, the second we got in the door I saw rock climbing and EVERYTHING changed. There is this one climb called ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (❤ the name) and for some reason I HAD to climb it! We waited our turn and Elizabeth and I got harnessed up and were ready to go. She climbed a wall first and then it was my turn.

The stairway is a series of very small (very small), and did I mention VERY SMALL circle platforms that have no handles which ascend to a top platform more than 29 feet off the ground.

I’m terrified of heights…terrified…I get nervous if im on a step ladder at home! But today something kicked in and I was determined to do the stairway.

The first few steps were ok. Then the higher up I went the more difficult it became. It got to a point where all you could do was put one foot in front of the other and not use your hands. You are relying on your feet and your sense of balance to get you to the top.

Falling today was not an option. Fear was not an option. Not making it to the top was ABSOLUTELY not an option either! My husband, my girls, and my in-laws were all there watching me but all I could think about was that this was God telling me ‘do not fear’! As crazy at it sounds…I wasn’t afraid! It was all God! He balanced me and gave me guided, safe steps.

He balanced me and gave me guided, safe steps. I had to repeat that because it’s SO powerful! I absolutely love how God SHOWS me every day how much I can trust him when I give him my prayers, my doubts, my fears…my everything!

Craig asked me when I got down if I was afraid. I didn’t quite know how to answer him. It was every feeling you could have and then some. It also was God showing me by example. The realization that I saw his hand showing me was absolutely incredible! Thankful once again for a God who knows how to reach my heart and quiet my fears.

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Feet

John 13:3-5
Jesus knew that the father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

Ok. I’ve heard that verse before. I get that in those days the primary means of transportation was by foot. Therefore feet in those days are going to be filthy by the end of the day. I also knew that it was a servants job to wash the feet of their owners.

I can’t stand feet. They give me the heebee jeebees… don’t put your feet on me, near me, or even talk about feet. Only in the past few years have I allowed myself to get a pedicure because I feel so guilty that someone else is touching my feet. In fact I usually pre-pedicure my feet before I get a pedicure so it’s not as gross for the person working with them. I adore my 4 year old’s feet but that’s it. I just did a shaking shimmy now just thinking about feet.

Today’s bible study left me sobbing and speechless…sobbing. We are finishing a study on God’s grace…how we are nothing without it, how it covers us when we are undeserving, how loved and valued we all are as sons and daughters of the king.

I went with an open and willing heart like I always do this morning. There was a guest speaker who was talking about how Jesus washed the disciples feet on the night before his death. She spoke of the enormity of such a simple act. Jesus, our lord and savior was bending down to wash the feet of his disciples to show them that they are clean and made whole again. His act of service was meant to inspire the disciples to do the same, to show them that he cherishes them, and that no act is too small for him, or anyone to do. They were precious to him. Washing their feet was a metaphor for washing away the old and beginning again new, fresh, clean, forgiven, and whole.

So I’m listening to it all thinking wow, I never really thought about this particular act that Jesus did and thanks so much for explaining it to me. Sounds good to me! She didn’t stop there. She proceeded to tell us that our bible study leaders were now going to wash our feet to show us the example Jesus and how he did this for his disciples. We were given markers and told to write on our feet what God was washing away from your life. Wait, what? Scuse me? Did she just say our bible study leaders are now going to wash our feet? She said WHAT????

Feet…my feet…my beautiful new sister in Christ is going to wash my feet? 😳 I couldn’t pull them under me fast enough!!!! Literally! They look awful! I mean TOE UP awful! TOE UP ugly awful! They are bruised, fractured, and the polish has worn off!!!She can’t touch my feet! I’ll wash hers any day of the week but she can’t do this for me. So I started crying. The ugly cry where the makeup comes off in less than 30 seconds and snot is coming out of your nose with no Kleenex in sight…that kind of cry. With shaking hands I took my marker and wrote these words on my feet: pain, doubt, fear, uncertainty, worry, sadness, and old wounds. Horrible handwriting on my horrible looking feet. I was so overcome with emotion that I didn’t even realize the words I was writing.

I cried when it was my turn and took my seat. There she sat on the floor, pouring warm water on my feet and washing away the magic marker. Washing away the mess, like Jesus does with every prayer from me. Holding my rough, unpolished, absolutely hideous feet in her hands and holding them with so much love, care, and compassion.. It was her act of service, from her heart. It was so powerful! I struggled so much just sitting there because I just wanted to hold her….I can’t let her do this! I need to be doing this for HER! But I let her finish. I hugged her and sorry to the person waiting behind me because I could not let her go. We were sobbing together. I could not stop crying. I still can’t stop crying when I think about it.

She washed my feet like Jesus washes my dirty, rough, ugly soul every day. I want to be at his feet doing for him because he’s more than worthy. What he sacrificed for us, for me, for my heart. Here he is doing for me when I need to be doing for him.

To be in a place where you are that vulnerable with the Holy Spirit and a room full of Angels masked as strong Christian women was palatable, powerful, and so humbling. This by far has been my most emotional moment as a Christian. Mom, I know you are smiling from Heaven. I feel it.

Love and belief my beautiful friends❤

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Priceless Perspective

Ive been struggling lately. I’m irritable, tired, irritable, I’ve had migraine headaches. For 9 days in a row and did I mention I’ve been irritable? I miss my mother so much.
Everything seems to be putting me over the edge and I’m truly sorry to my family who get the brunt of my worst. I snap at my kids, all I want to do is have 5 minutes of full and complete silence, and it would be a dream come true to be able to go to the bathroom by myself and not be visited by my 4 year old who is a carbon copy of me. I want to get away from my own self!!! I need a break! I need something good to happen! Even the tiniest thing would go miles with me.

I found $20 in the street today while dropping my girls off at school. There it was, folded up in the middle of the road. Now we can stop this post right here and now and speak of the miracle…. the miracle that I actually SAW money in the road because I finally went to the eye doctor for the first time in my life last week! Everything is blurry! Driving…blurry, reading….forget it… I need glasses!

But for some reason I saw it clearly and knew it was money in the road. As soon as I finished dropping the girls off at school I posted on the Celebration Facebook pages that I found cash and if it belongs to you please let me know and I would gladly return it to its owner. Three posts on three different Facebook pages produced no takers. I figured I’d wait a few days and if no one claimed it I would put it in the offering at church. It’s not my money just because I found it. Finders Keepers does not apply in our home.

I went to Publix, got to school just in time to pick up my daughter and began driving home. (This is miracle number two: being able to grocery shop in a small window of time and get to school on time to pick up Lauren!)

I noticed to my left as I was driving a homeless man with a grocery cart walking on the sidewalk. To say he stuck out like a sore thumb is the understatement of the year. I drove past him and God immediately spoke to me: LOUDLY! Susanna, turn the car around and give that money to this man. It nagged me for a whole two seconds and then I turned the car around and parked.

His hair was so matted. His shoes ( can’t even call them shoes) were coming apart. The heels weren’t connected to anything. His pants had two rips in the back pockets… all the way through. His grocery cart had a bedspread in it that I wouldn’t touch with a 50 foot pole. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to go near him with a 50 foot pole. But God not only told me to turn my car around… he told me to get out of my car and speak to him like the human being he is.

I approached the man, put my hand on his arm and told him I found money today and would he like to have it. He gladly accepted it and the bottled water I just happened to have in my car.

I told him to have a wonderful day and then got back in my car… my car filled with groceries…my car which held my curly girl who I really do adore…my car with my coach purse, my RayBan sunglasses, and my iPhone 6.

I drove home to my gorgeous house, in my perfect neighborhood, filled with a huge appreciation for all that I have. All my stuff got placed on hold just now…thank you Jesus for the perspective I didn’t even know I needed to see today. I am blessed, I am blessed, I am BLESSED! That $20 dollar bill gave me priceless perspective…the kind only God can give.

To the Celebration resident who realizes that the $20 is yours… message me and I’ll gladly give it to you from my wallet❤

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Do not fear my friend

Dear beautiful friend,
I have to thank you as always because no matter what’s going on wherever you are, you’ll drop everything for me and talk me down from the edge. I’m so grateful for you in ways you can’t even imagine.

You told me right before we got off the phone that sometimes you are afraid… afraid of all of the decisions you have to make, big and small…when it comes to your family. You revealed a vulnerability that is very close to your heart.

First of all, I thank you for telling me what you did. I told you I needed to to chew on it for a little while before I had a response for you… I chewed and here goes. I’m not using your name so don’t worry but I wanted to put it as a blog post because I have the feeling it might speak to other mommas who have moments of doubt.

Momma, you are so grounded in Jesus that your decisions are always coming through him. The human side of you will go into auto pilot when you think of the enormity of what you do every day… the overwhelming constant… the ‘I am molding these tiny humans into who they need to be’, the responsibility of it all. Girl, you are not only raising your children, they are soaring.

They are soaring because of Jesus, pouring through you and into them. You are a spiritual rock momma. Your feet are so firmly planted in who Christ wants you to be. It radiates. It’s how I instantly knew you were a good egg the first time i saw you! If you could pause in the chaos of it all for just a moment and step back a few layers you would see what I see: a strong sister in Christ who guides her family based on what he wants for you.

Your children radiate Jesus. They DO! Send your kids to someone else’s house and you’ll always get the glowing reviews of how wonderful they are versus how they act at home! They are little examples of what you teach them every day. They hear you, it sinks in….. I see it…so trust me… it’s in there.

The years go by and the challenges move from diaper bags and double strollers to middle school and ‘how the heck do I get more than kid in different places at the same time?’ I get it. It’s a constantly changing job we have as mothers to adapt, move, adjust, and continue to raise, parent, and love our children.

But sweet momma who I love more than my Dooney and Bourke black patent bag….. do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. You are not only navigating the waters of motherhood… you are covered…covered and radiating Jesus in everything you do. You’ve got this and then some. I look up to you for so many things… SO many! I love you so much! Thank you for leading by example. I learn so much from you.❤

PS: Lauren is coughing like a barking seal…. 🙈 . It’s gonna be a looonnnnng day and night for me!

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Sometimes I’m so far in the forest that I can’t see the trees. I escaped from the woods last night and saw a few things very clearly. Don’t you hate how you think you’ve changed, you feel differently about so many things, and then BAM! Your old habits come and smack you in the face!? That’s not just me right? Can I get a witness?

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I always have. I don’t know how to have boundaries with my feelings for others. It’s just not in my DNA to withhold, guard my heart, or not do something for someone I care about. This kind of vulnerability tends to bite me in the rear every now and then. I don’t like getting bit. Who does?

Giving it to God allows me to know that he made me who I am and he made me for a purpose. I know he made me this way so that I can bless others, build true friendships and feel true happiness and joy when I can give to others and feel their joy in return. He doesn’t want that side of me to change because it’s how he made me. It’s how he put me together. It’s how he built me in his image.

The human side of me needs work. The side that gets angry when I feel my good deeds aren’t seen or appreciated. My gut tells me to put up walls and shut things down but I know that’s not how I was built to be.

I can’t change who I am. Unfortunately I know my flaws and I have MANY. God, please take this human side and mold it into what you want. Move my hurt heart aside and show me how to love without asking or expecting anything in return.

I’m a work in progress. A big work in progress. I fall down daily. I lose my temper. I blame. I lash out. I fail. I sin. I hurt others with my words. I cry…a lot.

My sister told me last night that you can’t ask a flamingo to bark like a dog. You have to love the flamingo for who it is. So God, help me to love the beautiful flamingos in my life and be able to appreciate their feathers. I also ask that you allow those flamingos to love me for my feathers…. ruffled and all.

Photo taken by my beautiful mother, Susan Woods Alderson

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Trust me

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ll be honest… I was feeling very sad this morning. Not the typical ‘Valentine’s Day I didn’t get anything I wanted’ sad because I smartly ordered Coobie comfy bras and called it a day. I’m easy to please! No flowers and chocolates for me.

But I found myself sad this morning. Sometimes a quiet empty house can be a bad thing. I was missing my momma so much and just wishing there were a funny card in the mail from her or a cute Facebook post with her in heart shaped glasses. Nothing… nothing but a silent house and a sad heart for me.

I scraped myself up and went to meet Lauren at swimming lessons. This is her second lesson and let’s just say she HATES it. I mean HATES it! I get out of my car and immediately Hear wailing…. it’s her! She’s wrapped herself around a pole and nothing is gonna get that baby in the pool! Armed with a bag full of gummy worms I run with my nearly broken toes (that’s a whole other story) to get to my petrified daughter. Let me tell you… there are no amount of gummy worms on the planet that are gonna get her in the pool so I do what any other mother would do…. get in the pool, fully clothed, with my sweatpants and T-shirt on!

“Come on in Lauren! Trust me, I tell her!!! I will hold you the whole time! I won’t let you go, I promise! We are going to do this lesson together and I’ve got you the whole time, I promise!”

She was still scared to death and I felt her fear as she clung to me like a howler monkey but God bless her sweet heart, she did it. She trusted me and she held on.

What a beautiful metaphor for my relationship with Jesus!!! “Jump in Susanna! Jump in and trust me! I will carry you!!!! I won’t let you go, I promise!” I saw it today, I felt it through my child. Jesus is in the pool, fully clothed and arms wide open…. he wants your heart, he wants to show you that you can trust him. He wants to carry you when you are scared.

Thank you Lauren for jumping to me even though you didn’t want to. Thank you for trusting me when all you wanted to do was hold onto the pole that was way far away from the pool. I’ll always catch you!

Thank you Jesus for ONCE again showing me how powerful your love is for me. You changed my sadness into pure joy just now! I am the first and only Celebration resident who jumped in the pool fully clothed to help with a swimming lesson! Today is a WONDERFUL day❤

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Idol of affirmation

Our bible study is focusing on grace. It’s amazing all the layers I am learning about. We talked this week about idols and how they get in the way of being truly whole with Jesus. It’s what we turn to when we feel at our worst or feel like we’ve arrived and have it all (even if it is temporary).

In the book Craving Grace by Ruthie Delk, she asks a series of questions to help you determine what your own idol is. The two that stood out to me were:

1. What do I crave that without it, I am miserable.

2. If I only had _______ I would be happy.

I chewed on those for a little while and then the answer pretty much screamed at me. I always thought an idol was either the golden cow that the Old Testament people worshipped, money, fame, or a bad relationship. I never realized that idols can come in any shape and size and they can be many things for many people.

1.What do I crave that without it I am miserable? Affirmation.

2. If I only had affirmation I would be happy.

Affirmation is one of my love languages. I crave positive words from others. I will kill myself to do something for someone just so I can get the thank you and the I love and appreciate you that follows. It fills me up inside. It fuels me to do more for friends and family.

When I’m happy I love doing so I can get affirmation. When I’m down and sad I try harder and flat out ask for affirmation…this usually doesn’t end well! Why would anyone want to give me positive words about myself when I’m acting like a whiny brat demanding that they tell me how great I am? And I wondered WHY this didn’t work for me for so many years? Sorry to my husband for that…thankful for his forgiveness and grace with me. My logic based husband married a wife who is 100 percent heart. God help him sometimes!

I am ALLLL about reading the comments that are posted on anything I put on Facebook. I realize that writing this blog post on affirmation might seem like I’m looking for affirmation but I promise you it’s not. What a hypocrite right??

I share this because I had a light bulb moment this past week and I felt it was something that might help someone else. I realized two things:

1. Affirmation is my idol. Finding it in people keeps me further away from God. Constantly craving it from friends and family, or even just hearing it on its own without my seeking it is pulling my focus from where it needs to be with God.
2. God’s affirmation in me is all I need. It is more than I need. Realizing that my idol is affirmation helps me be aware of what keeps me further from God. Knowing is everything! When you can see clearly one day what you couldn’t see the day before is powerful, very powerful!

I’m so grateful for the spiritual journey I’m on. I pray for repentance from my idol and ask God to keep my eyes open so I can see what HE wants me to see, my ears open so I can hear the affirmations that HE says to me, and my mouth open or shut depending on what HE wants me to say. That’s when’s I truly feel I’m whole and right with God. Repenting is when I feel closest, loved, completely loved and righteously affirmed. Beautiful. What a beautiful God we serve!

I’m a VERY transparent work in progress and I hope that my transparency might help with something you are questioning as you walk with the Lord or are thinking he might be worth a try. Love and belief my friends. ❤

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