Do you want the key to finding your strength? 


“In our struggles we find our strength”

I heard that statement on the radio yesterday. I’m sure I’ve heard it before, but yesterday it caused me to pause and reflect on my list of past struggles. My past is filled with many struggles of various degrees. These struggles have produced strength in me that could not have been achieved without the hands on experience. I learned how to fight and how to hang on for dear life during many of these times. I found out what I was really made of and if my faith was real or filled with unbelief. 

I don’t like to struggle. It is uncomfortable, but without it I can’t grow or move forward. I desire to grow continually and change for the better, but that doesn’t happen without the struggle. Therefore, I will struggle at different times in my life for the rest of my life. I can choose to go through it, trusting I will come out stronger in the end. Or I can resist the process and end up struggling in a way that keeps me stuck a lot longer than the intent of the struggle. Either way, I will have to face the struggle. We will all have to face the struggles meant for our life. These times can make or break you depending on how you decide to go through it. Embrace the struggle, it is the very key to unlocking your strength. It is the means in which you will grow and find out what you are made of. Scripture says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James‬ ‭1:2-4‬)

Do you want perseverance? Do you want to mature? Do you want to have all the tools you need to get through this life? Then you must struggle!! Choose to go through these struggles with joy! It’s not the kind of joy that says, “yay, I love all these hard times.” This type of joy comes from knowing and trusting God will produce good things in you through these struggles. It’s believing you will come out stronger on the other side. It’s believing God will add the tools you’re lacking in order that you have everything you need to make it through your life. 
I still don’t like to struggle, but I will choose to go through it willingly and expectant. Because I know the Lord will add the things I’m lacking in order to equip me for my future. 
CAT

Bypassing God

Do you ever feel restless for no reason whatsoever? Everything seems to be good around you & within the circles of friends & family. So, why this nagging restless feeling when everything se…

Source: Bypassing God

Bypassing God

fullsizerender-jpgDo you ever feel restless for no reason whatsoever? Everything seems to be good around you & within the circles of friends & family. So, why this nagging restless feeling when everything seems right? My life is pretty calm right now. I can’t complain, well, I could, but I won’t. There aren’t any major problems to deal with or any heartbreaking stories to tell for which I am extremely grateful!! Praise the Lord!! But, something doesn’t feel right on the inside. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m definitely restless. My restlessness is an indicator letting me know something needs to be addressed on the inside. I need to bring my restlessness to God & ask Him to help me see what He sees. I need God to help me wade through these emotions & face them head on. I’ll be honest, a big part of me wants to bypass God and just handle it on my own. And by handle it, I mean avoid it all together & pretend it’s nothing. I don’t know what is on the other side of these restless emotions. I’d rather just avoid & move on. But, I have a feeling God wants me to linger here a little longer in order to reveal the root of the restlessness.

Have you ever tried to bypass God? No? Oh, I guess that’s just me! Well, let me tell you, you can’t! I mean you can try and you might prolong things a bit, but eventually God will get His way. And His way is actually way better than our way and it produces good things in us. Our way doesn’t usually change us or produce anything good. It just keeps us stuck or going in circles. God has good intentions towards us even in those uncomfortable places that we just wish He would leave alone or let us bypass. I have a few places I wish He would let me avoid, but I know nothing will change if I do not face these things. The process will probably be challenging & it will likely be painful to some degree. But, the good news is, I don’t have to face these uncomfortable places alone. Deuteronomy 31:8 says “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

So, why do we try to bypass God if He promises to be with us? He clearly tells us that He is going ahead of us and that He will not fail or forsake us. Maybe it’s because we try to handle things in our own strength & own way. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with asking others for help. But, I also have a hard time asking for God’s help too at times. I go to Him for the big things, but I don’t always go to God for help with the things I think I can handle on my own. Or those things I do not really even want to handle like facing the root of my restlessness. It too shall pass right? Or maybe this restlessness won’t pass until I fully surrender to doing it God’s way & trust Him with the outcome.

If God is asking you to face something difficult or painful today, you can trust that He has already gone ahead of you. He has made a way through for you. He will not fail you nor forsake you. Don’t try to bypass God’s way. God’s way is the best way and He intends to do good to you.

 

CAT

 

Control Freak

Control Freak

Control freak is such a strong word. I prefer to describe myself as a type-A personality. I love my “to-do” list. It is more like an external hard-drive of my memory bank. I swear I would be lost without it. My daily routine is pretty repetitive and predictable. This helps me focus and be productive. I plan my day, my meals, my workouts, and everything else in between. I believe this is a good discipline most of the time. But, it can also be a stronghold for me at times. I like to be in control. It feels good and secure. And if you’re honest, you probably like being in control too. I don’t like the emotions being out of control triggers. Typically, the more out of control I feel, the more emotional I become internally and externally. My thought pattern usually goes something like this, if I can get this situation to align back up with my plan I wont feel all these uncontrollable emotions and I will be back in control of things. In reality, I cannot control anything except the way I respond to these circumstances. But, control isn’t based on reality. It is based on feelings that aren’t always true.

The problem with our feelings is they come from our heart. We can’t trust our heart. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else & is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Feelings can & will lead us astray if we aren’t careful. They don’t always tell the truth. Our perception can make us feel a certain way that is not based on reality. Let me give you an example. Some days I look in the mirror & see a severely over weight person. I feel fat. I feel overweight. I feel ugly. Is that the truth? No, but I feel that way in that moment. Why? Who knows?? I might have had a bad day or someone said something to me that hurt my feelings. Whatever the reason, it’s not based on reality. It is based on my untrustworthy feelings. You just can’t trust those suckers! So, if I feel in control of my life, does that mean I am in control? No! It’s pseudo control. Satan deceives us to believe that we are controlling things because we feel in control. The reality is that God is actually in control. My day may go according to plan, but that doesn’t mean I controlled the outcome. God allowed it to go that way. He is the One in ultimate control. I was never in control to begin with, but when I believe my feelings of being in control, I am being deceived. It is a lie from the enemy. Satan does not want me to trust God or depend on Him. He casts doubt about God & wants me to trust my heart & depend on myself. Why? Because Satan knows the truth about God, he knows God is good, God has my best interest, & God’s plan is the best. Satan doesn’t want us to know the truth. That kind of truth sets people free. Freedom from anxiety, worry, uncertainty, the unknown, and ultimately, freedom from being a control freak which causes so many of us to live in fear. The only way to know the truth about God is to trust Him fully, let go of control, & willingly surrender our plans, hopes, dreams, desires, & fears to Him. Only then will we come to know Him in a deeper way that leads to a deeper trust & greater faith in Him. Trust Him to work things out according to His plan, believing in faith that it is the best plan & for our good even when it doesn’t feel good.

My circumstances haven’t aligned up with my plan lately. I was given something that I poured my heart & soul into. I loved this gift very much, but it has been taken away for reasons unknown to me. My emotions have triggered feelings of anger, insecurity, & fear. I don’t feel secure or in control anymore. I am angry because this thing I invested so much time & energy into has been taken away. I am afraid & fearful of what’s ahead because I don’t know if it will go my way or be for my good. The thing that got taken away was good & now it’s gone. This was not a part of my plan. It feels pretty bad. I kind of feel like God messed up, forgot about me, or doesn’t have good plans for my future. What if my definition of good is not the same as God’s? Why would God take something away from me that was good? Why would God take something back that He gave me? Maybe it is good, but now it’s not good for me. Maybe, the good thing did its job, but now I have to let it go in order to move forward. Maybe, God doesn’t feel so good right now. Does that mean God isn’t good? No! The truth is God is always good despite what I feel. But, I have to believe the truth about God & trust Him instead of my feelings. My plan is not bad, but apparently it is no longer good for me. I think I know best, but that is a lie. God knows best. The second part of the verse about the heart is in Jeremiah 17:10, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results (fruit) of his deeds.” He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our true intentions, our character, & what is in our heart. He knows best. He knows things that we don’t know about the present & the future. He knows if our character can handle the desires of our heart, if we are ready to receive them, & He knows if these things are actually good for us. I do not know for certain what’s best for me. I only think I know based on how I feel right now. If there is something God isn’t allowing, it is probably not good for us. If He has taken something away, maybe it was time to let it go, or it was going to cause us harm. If we trust our feelings that say this is not fair, God doesn’t know best, God has forgotten me, or God is not good, those feelings will lead us astray. We may try to make our plan happen and end up with a lot of regrets. Or, end up in a season filled with anger, isolation, & discontentment. I’ve been there. It isn’t fun. It is actually a lot harder to be angry & in the self-pity mindset than to go into the unknown with God & trust Him. The truth is God is in control & when life feels out of control, He is still in control. We can trust God with whatever it is that isn’t going our way or feeling good because He is always good.

Where are you trying to control things in your life?

Where is your heart trying to lead you astray?

What lies are you believing?

What lies do you need to replace with the truth? Compare your thoughts/feelings with the truth…Rebuke the lies with the truth of God’s word.

Does your past haunt you?

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Have you ever felt like you needed to get something out of your head, but didn’t have the words to describe it? That’s exactly how I have been feeling lately. I have not had the time to even process what is going on inside of me. I believe God has been trying to get me to sit down & tell my story for sometime now. But I have resisted & ignored the continuous gentle nudges along the way. I have made excuses & kept myself busy in order to avoid what happened today. It’s Monday, October 12, which happens to be a holiday. I am out of excuses & have some time to sit & process all that’s been going on inside of me. I am sitting on the bed of my truck in the parking lot of the Snowden Grove baseball fields. I tried sitting in the grass overlooking the lake, but bugs kept attacking me. I don’t do bugs! So, I climbed up on the back of my Avalanche and started typing. This was my attempt at unraveling my pent up thoughts. I had no idea all of this was going on inside of me. But, God knew it. I didn’t know this was what He had in mind when I started typing three hours ago. What you are about to read is something I have never told anyone other than my immediate family members & my life long best friend. And they don’t even know this entire story…

I have a passion for health & fitness due to my past struggles with being overweight. I was over weight the majority of my life. My teenage years I always felt fatter than everyone. I was over- weight, but I was not as fat as I saw myself in my head. I had a very negative self-image of myself that caused me to have very low self-esteem. I was insecure and fearful of everything. I was always afraid to try new things. My fear of being made fun of or embarrassed kept me paralyzed. I did not have any confidence at all. This crippled me in many ways throughout my teens & twenties. Fear controlled so much of my life. It left its mark in the form of regret that still haunts me today.

I gained the majority of my weight after I got pregnant with my daughter at the age of 19. I gained about 80 pounds during my pregnancy. I lost about 40 pounds after giving birth, but continued to gain weight throughout my early 20’s. I got divorced within a year & a half of my daughters birth. I lost about 40 pounds during the divorce, but eventually gained it back. I dated someone shortly after my divorce that pointed out how fat I was every time we fought. And we fought a good bit. I never really saw myself as fat until he pointed it out. I guess I was in denial about the reality of my health. I was 274 pounds, but I was tall. I could carry more weight & not be considered fat. I would tell myself I was thick and big boned. But, the truth was I was severely overweight. I had no hope of life ever being any different. My self-esteem was even lower than before now that I saw the reality of my unhealthy weight. I didn’t know how to lose weight, eat healthy, or workout. I tried every fad diet out there & failed miserably each time. I might lose a few pounds only to gain back more than I lost. This pattern continued to make me feel hopeless. I remember sitting in my office one night searching the internet for ways to lose weight. I came across a website that offered a weight loss surgery. At that point in my life, I knew I could not lose the weight on my own. I was desperate and felt completely alone. I would have done practically anything at this point to lose weight. I called the doctor’s office the next day to set an appointment for a consultation. I wondered if I was heavy enough to be a weight loss candidate. I guess a part of me still didn’t think I was that fat. Who was I kidding other than myself? I was 5’9 and weighed 274 pounds. I was fat!

I was definitely a weight loss candidate. I got approved for the weight loss surgery shortly after the first doctor’s appointment. I think I was around 23 at this point. It’s hard to remember exactly because I have suppressed so may of these events for such a long time. I ended up getting the gastric lap-band surgery. This type of weight-loss surgery restricted the amount of food I could consume at meals. It was reversible unlike some of the other weight-loss surgery’s available. I went with it because it was reversible. I wanted a way out just in case something went wrong. I lost about 55-60 pounds the first year. I couldn’t eat breads or pastas without throwing up which was the point of being restricted. I would vomit if I ate too much or the wrong type of foods. This is how the lap-band was designed to work. But, I could not eat anything without throwing up. I threw up every day. Sometimes I threw water up. I told my doctor several times, but he insisted I was eating too much or eating the wrong foods. I kept trying to find foods to eat that would not come back up. I was stressed & felt pretty bad most of the time. I was an emotional eater, but I could not eat anything, so I used my workouts as an outlet. I worked out every day. I ate healthy foods 6 days out of 7, but could barely keep it down. My doctor loved my weight loss success, but did not seem to care about my overall health. My hair was falling out, but I was getting thinner each month. I was thinner than I had ever been in my life. I could go shopping in the normal clothes section for the first time in my adult life. I was not a plus size woman anymore & that is all that really mattered to me at that point in time. I knew throwing up daily was not a good thing, but it was better than being fat again.

After a year of vomiting almost daily I ended up in the hospital during a family vacation. I was not able to eat or drink anything without vomiting or experiencing severe pain. It had gotten so bad that I would vomit my salvia in my sleep, which could have caused me to choke to death. My esophagus was severely inflamed due to excessive vomiting which had also caused me to have severe acid reflux. The doctor at the hospital in Florida told me I needed to have the lap-bad deflated or removed because it had slipped. When I got back home I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. He told me the band had not slipped and even got mad at me for seeing another doctor. I told him I wanted to remove the lap-band. He scheduled the surgery to remove the lap-band. He was not happy with me & treated me unkind at this point and after. I really did not have a choice. I was dying. The lap-band was killing me slowly. I was afraid I would gain back my weight. I was afraid I would not lose the rest of my weight since I still had more to lose. But, I was more afraid of dying than being fat again. I had the surgery so I could lose weight in order to be healthier & to be a better mom to my daughter. What good was the surgery if I was dead? I knew removing the lap-band was the right thing to do.

I only had the lap-band for about 18 months. After it was removed I was free to eat whatever without restrictions. My body went back to its original state before the surgery. This scared me to death. I was afraid of going backwards & gaining weight. I was afraid of being fat again. I was stricter in my diet & worked out even harder in order to avoid going back to the old fat version of myself. I worked hard to continue to lose the rest of my weight. I remember my doctor telling me I would gain all the weight back without the lap-band. He didn’t want me to remove the lap-band because he liked my success story. It made him look good which made him more money. I worked hard to prove him wrong. I worked hard for myself too. My fears drove my weight loss & fitness success for many years. I enjoyed working out and eating healthy, but I felt like I was running from something instead of running towards something. I was not pursuing a goal. I was fleeing being fat, lazy, and insecure. I was getting attention from men that would never have given the fat Chris the time of day. I became obsessed with my looks and losing more weight. I would workout twice a day at times even if I had only eaten 1000 calories. I kept my calories around 1000-1200 at max. I avoided family functions and social events that involved food. However, I did not avoid alcohol. I could drink alcohol without caring about the calories for some reason. So, I drank and partied a lot. I was not an alcoholic. I was a binge drinker. I didn’t drink everyday. I only drank when I went out which was usually Thursday-Saturday. Drinking helped me with my confidence & it also helped me keep my weight off. I definitely don’t recommend this way of weight loss by any means. I got thinner & finally got below my goal weight without the help of the lap-band. I stayed at this weight for the most part, but I struggled to maintain it. I had to workout 7 days a week and eat clean all the time. When I cheated or failed to workout, I would fast for 24 hours or beat myself up for cheating. I said awful things to myself when I fell off the healthy food wagon. I called myself terrible names and reminded myself of who I was when I was fat. It worked, but it didn’t make me feel good inside about myself. I was afraid of the voice in my head that kept telling me I was going to be fat again. That voice would tell me I cheated by having the weight-loss surgery and that if I ever gained weight again I would never be able to lose it on my own. I was afraid my family & friends would think I was a failure if I got fat again. I was afraid my friends would not like me if I were fat. I had more friends now that I was thinner. People liked me & wanted to be my friend. I never thought people liked the fat Chris. I felt accepted in my new thinner body. I didn’t want to lose friends or that acceptance. So, I worked my tail off to maintain my weight loss in order to never go back to the old me. I remember thinking if I could lose enough weight everything in my life would be perfect. Boy, was I wrong.

A couple of years passed by without me getting fat. However, I did gain weight. I went thru a pretty bad season due to an unhealthy relationship. I gained about 20 pounds during the ending of that relationship. I ate my feelings. My workouts alone couldn’t keep up with my emotional binge eating habits. I eventually lost the weight, but it was hard. It took way more effort to lose weight than to gain it. I had worked too hard to get to this point in my life to just throw it all away. I knew I was not ever going back to the old me. Gaining 20 pounds helped remind me of how I felt when I was over weight. I was not comfortable in my skin with an extra 20 pounds on me. I knew that I had to get back to working out consistently & be disciplined in my eating habits. I got back on track shortly after I gained the weight, but I was starting to struggle more, which caused me to yo-yo quite a bit.

In 2009, I was introduced to CrossFit. I fell in love with CrossFit. It scared the heck out of me every single time I went to the gym. But it changed my body in ways that my previous workouts had not. It challenged me to face my fears every time I worked out. It helped me gain confidence in myself that I still didn’t have as a thinner version of myself. I got stronger not just thinner. I gained muscles & could do things that I never dreamed I would be able to do. I met people from all different backgrounds, fitness levels, & ages. I loved it. I talked about it to anyone who would listen. Ok maybe I loved it a little too much there for while. I got obsessed & addicted to it. It was not a bad addiction in my opinion. I quit binge drinking and started really eating healthy. I learned about nutrition and what eating healthy really meant. I met Scott who was one of my coaches at Crossfit. He taught me how to eat clean & eat in a way that fuels my body to perform mentally and physically. I learned so much from him about nutrition that has helped me to get to where I am today. He introduced the Zone diet to me first & then a year later Paleo. I liked Paleo because I could eat what I wanted without constantly thinking about what I was eating or counting calories. I just ate when I was hungry from a group of foods that included lean meats, veggies, healthy fats, some fruits, & a few healthy carbs. I finally found a diet that worked for me. It eventually led to a lifestyle change. It was no longer a diet, but my way of life.

Crossfit definitely changed my health & fitness journey for the better, but I still struggled with my failures. I did not have any room in my health or fitness for failures. Oh they happened,and I would beat myself up for failing. I was still mean to myself. I would look in the mirror & say those same awful things like Do you want to be fat again? Well keep on eating bad fat a$$ or keep being lazy & you will be fat soon enough. This was a weekly thing. No one knew I was this way with myself. I never told anyone my struggles. I kept everything to myself. I had traveled this far along the health and fitness road alone. I was too afraid to tell anyone about my struggles out of fear of what they would think about me. They could not understand the emotional baggage I was carrying around because they did not know about my weight loss surgery. None of the people I had become friends with over the last few years knew me when I was over-weight. What would people think if they knew the truth about me? Surely, they would think I was a liar or a fake. And if I got fat again then I would know I was a failure & the only reason I was able to lose the weight was because I had the surgery. I know it sounds crazy to some, but that is what I told myself.

In September 2010, I started going to Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. I rededicated my life to Christ shortly after & started walking with God. I began a real relationship with God for the first time in my life. I started reading the bible, praying, & going to church consistently. The funny thing is that the more I got to know Him the more I got to really know myself. Turns out I did not really know who I was. I only knew who I thought I was based on the lies in my head. I started to believe what God says about me instead of the lies Satan had been telling me most of my life. God’s word says that I am fearfully & wonderfully made, created in His image. He makes no mistakes because He is God. He is perfect. So, if that’s the truth about me then how could I look myself in the mirror & tell myself all these horrible things? I would continue to do so for a while, but eventually I stopped. I started to believe the truth about who God is & who He says I am. I still struggle, but now when I fail I replace those lies with the truth. I now know what grace means. I have allowed grace into my health & fitness that I didn’t have before my relationship with God. There is grace in everything because of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for God’s grace in my life. My journey with health & fitness has been up & down. I have had highs & lows, but thru it all God has used it to teach me many different things about Him & my faith as well as myself. I have learned how to face my fears, persevere, and get back up after failing. I learned how to accept myself as I am and to love myself. I have learned that failure is not a bad thing. It is how we learn. I will never be perfect and that is ok. The goal isn’t perfection. The goal is to be healthy, to live a quality life, and to be a good steward of my health. My faith is a big part of why I want to help others with their health & fitness needs. I want others to know what God says about them & that there is grace in their health & fitness journey as well as every part of their life. I want to help others overcome their struggles with health, fitness, & weight issues by using my experiences to help them reach their goals. I want to be the person encouraging them along the way that I did not have during my journey. My hearts desire is for people to understand what it means to be healthy and how it affects their mind, body, & spirit.

My past of being fat & having weight-loss surgery no longer defines me. The scale does not define me. Neither my pants size nor my deadlift weight defines me. My friends & family’s acceptance of me no longer defines me. God defines me. He declares me worthy, loved, & accepted. I am His & He is mine. I am a child of God. My story exists for His glory. My past still haunts me to this day, even though I had the lap-band for less than 1.5 years out of my 12-year health and fitness journey. I’ve been consistent in my health and fitness more than not. I choose to eat this way and workout because I know the benefits I gain from being healthy. I enjoy it. I don’t feel like I am dieting or running from anything anymore. Except one thing, I have held this secret inside out of fear of what others would think about me. My shame of being so fat that I had to have weight-loss surgery in order to lose weight has taunted me. I have been ashamed of my past for all these years. I never knew the hold it had on me until recently. Therefore, I want to tell my story because it exists for God’s glory. He didn’t redeem my past for me to keep it a secret. The enemy is a liar, but God is truth and His truth has set me free.

Through the good & not so good

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My life feels like an episode of Survivor at times. It has been full of tough obstacle courses & lots of adventure. Adventure is two sided. One side has difficult courses such as facing hard & painful circumstances that test my faith in God & humanity. Honestly, I don’t really like this side of adventure even though it usually produces more good in my life than I’d care to admit. The other side is usually a season of reaping what I’ve learned in the difficult seasons of sowing. It’s a bit like coasting down a zip line….effortless & fun. However, this never seems to last too long at least not in my life.

I have experienced the ups & downs, dead end paths, wrong turns, cuts & bruises, tears of joy, tears of sadness, love, loss, happiness, joy, pain, and most of all amazing grace in every part of it. I can honestly say that my life has been an adventure full of lots of hard obstacles that have made me stronger. The hard obstacles seem to produce the best in me. Its kinda like working out. It is hard at the beginning, but the longer I stick with it the stronger I get. I will reap the benefits if I just stay the course & get the training I need in order to advance in my fitness.

It’s no different with our faith muscles. We have to train them & use them in order for spiritual maturity. Have you ever wanted to give up? Or asked God, Why are you putting me through this hard season? I know I have been asking these questions lately. But I had to re word my questions. Instead of asking why God, I am asking what do you want me to learn through this situation? What is Your purpose in my pain? God always has a purpose and it usually isn’t about us or the circumstances at all. He wants us to grow and mature into who He created us to be in Him.

A few months ago, I went thru a challenging season. It was extremely hard for me on an emotional painful level. It was filled with good times & bad times. It kinda felt like a bipolar roller coaster. I kept screaming, Let me off this ride!! I don’t like the bad times, but God is still good. In Job 2:10 it says, “But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” Apparently, Job was way more spiritual than me. I don’t want the bad times, but who am I to question what God gives me? He is in control not me. He has a purpose for the bad in my life as well as the good. All is grace even in the midst of my hard seasons. It may not seem like grace at first, but once I decide to willingly go thru it God always changes my perspective & His purpose always prevails.

The painful part of that season was the worst for me. I dont do pain well. I avoid it at all cost. But in order to experience the good times we must also experience pain. I wish it wasnt that way, but God hasnt asked for my opinion which is probaby a good thing…if I were in control we would not have pain or bad times. This seems like a good thing right? Well imagine a life with no pain…seems wonderful…right up until you realize we would not be able to experience love either. I’m not talking about no pain like when we get to heaven, but rather no pain here on earth. We would not care if someone died or broke our hearts. And we would not be safe because we would keep doing the things that hurt us over & over again except we would not know these things were hurting us due to the lack of painful consequences. Pain is good. Pain reminds us of consequences we experienced due to sin in our life. Whether it be our own sin or someone else’s sin that caused us pain. Pain also reminds us that we were loved at one point & lost that love due to death or the end of a relationship. That old poetry quote rings true today, ‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.’

During that chalenging season I had my heart broken for the first time in many years. It hurt. It still hurts at times. But I experienced love in a real & tangible way that I had never felt before. It was good…uber good (inside joke). I believe it healed a part of me that I never thought would or could be repaired. God used this relationship to restore me, heal me, & repair a very broken part of me. I thought He was using this relationship to give me a husband. But He apparently had other plans. He revealed several character flaws about myself that I have known, but never experienced myself. I’ve been the giver of cold spells/emotional detachment, but never the receiver. This pain has humbled me in a mighty God sized way. I now know how bad this hurts others because I have experienced the pain firsthand. I never once thought of the other person when I was dishing out my cold spells or cutting someone out of my life due to my lack of not being able to verbalized my feelings & needs.

God used that relationship to show me how to love someone & be loved by someone. I was fully known & accepted by another person in such an intimate way (not sexual). He was fully known & accepted by me too. I felt free to be myself for the first time in a relationship with a man. This relationship came to an abrupt end without warning. I was confused & hurt more than anything. I wanted to be angry & hate him for hurting me so bad and without reason. But I can’t. I won’t. Instead, I choose to forgive him & let go of my pain. God sees, God hears, & God cares about my pain. He healed my brokenness once again. There is purpose in my pain.

Life is an adventure filled with good times and bad times. We can’t control the amount of good or bad, so we might as well just live in the moment & be grateful for the gifts God gives us. Garth Brooks says it best in one of his classic songs, The Dance.

“And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end
the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance.”

I could of missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance. Would I still go into the relationship If I knew things would end this way? Probably not. But I would have missed all the good I got to experience thru this relationship. I don’t want to miss out on the good times just to avoid any bad times. God lets things happen for a reason. My part is to trust Him & let go of my plan especially when I don’t understand His plan.

Are you questioning God lately?

Why did You allow this bad thing to happen?

Why didn’t You stop this God?

Remember God is good all the time even in our bad times. Trust He has a plan and a purpose for your pain. He sees, He knows, & He cares about your pain. He will heal & restore you in His perfect timing. He has already began the healing process in my life, so I can say these words to you with confidence in Him knowing that He will heal you too.

CAT

Growing Pains

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My whole life got flipped upside down when I took a job on July 7, 2014. I went from being self-employed to a full-time employee. I lost one of my largest commercial cleaning accounts in May. I was pretty upset at first, but knew God would provide for me and my daughter. I had so much peace while I was waiting on God to show up. I just knew He was going to provide what we needed. After all, He is my provider (Phil 4:19). I truly learned how to rest in Him during this season and wait on Him to provide. I was excited for God’s provision to come thru. I just knew it was going to be amazing.

I got a call from my grandmother on a Friday afternoon in June. She left me a voicemail about a job offer with a company that I had worked for 10 years ago. I sent my resume in that same day. I went in for an interview Monday. I was offered the job by the time I got home. I negotiated, then accepted the job. Did I pray for guidance before accepting this job? No. I didn’t. I had been praying for God to provide, so I just took the job as a gift from God. But was it a gift from God? Or was it a stumbling block from the enemy to steer me away from my God-given desires and passions?

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I took this job. It met all my requirements on paper along with some pretty sweet bonuses. I really thought God had given me the perfect job to replace the missing income. Two days into this job my commercial cleaning account came back. I was grateful for the return of this account, but was worried about being able to handle it all. Can I quit? Is it wise to quit? Can I trust that my client won’t up and leave me again? These questions plagued my thoughts for weeks. I finally decided I should stay a little longer. I really did not want to, but I was not hearing anything from God to direct me. Honestly, I kind of felt like God had cut me off once I started the job. So how was I going to juggle a full-time job, run a commercial cleaning company, be a single full-time mom, and have a life in Him?

This perfect job turned into a nightmare. I would work 10-14 hours a day and then have to check on my cleaning properties. I worked on the weekends at the cleaning company to make up the work I didn’t get to during the weekday. I literally worked 7 days a week. I dropped out of all my extracurricular activities. All those God-given desires and passions got pushed to the side. I did not have any time for my small group, women’s bible study group, or my gym time. I love working out, so not being able to do this was killing me. I did manage to get my priority time in daily, but I was crying and complaining the majority of the time, begging God to speak to me. I needed His direction, but I was getting silence. I was so consumed with my work, my desire to quit this job, and all my needs. I did not even notice how much distance was growing between me and my daughter. She was pulling away from me. And quite frankly, I was letting her because I didn’t have time for her either. I was present, but I was not actively parenting her the way I should have been. She was rebelling and I did not have the patience to deal with it. Therefore, I was a reactive parent instead of a proactive one. Our fun Friday nights had turned into the dreaded grocery shopping night at Sam’s. I stopped meeting with her on Saturdays to discuss the word of God. I was too tired. I always had something else that needed to get done due to my overwhelming schedule. My life was quickly falling apart, but I could not see it because I was too busy.

I started getting really good at this job as well as juggling the demands of my cleaning company. It only took me about 4.5 months to finally stop crying everyday. I settled into this new all work and no life lifestyle. I got the work done each day, but I didn’t have a life. I was making money and helping other people make money. But I had no purpose in this job other than financial gain. I was bitter and angry more than I had ever been in my life. I felt like a part of me had shriveled up and died. I hardly worked out or saw my friends. I wasn’t involved with my church. I was pretty negative during this season. I complained everyday. I am not a complainer by nature. I try to see the best in every situation. But this situation was sucking the life right out of me. I knew something had to change, but I didn’t know which way to go. I was filled with fear to quit and fear to stay.

In November, I started to hear from God again. I was convicted of chasing after vain idols, certainty, and security in this job instead of God. I prayed for Him to show me if I could quit or not. I didn’t want to quit if He had given me this job. Who am I to say no to what He gives? I was confused, but knew something had to change. I was so stressed and filled with so much anxiety daily. If one thing went wrong during my day then everything I was trying to juggle would come falling down. The stress finally took a turn for the worse mid November. I was admitted into the ER one morning for passing out unexpectedly and repeatedly. The doctors really didn’t have an answer as to what caused the episodes other than stress. God made it pretty clear that I was failing miserably in all areas of my life. And for what? Money? Security? Comfort? Was it really worth it? What good is it if I gain the whole world and lose my life? It was not worth it. I would rather have my life than all those other things. But I sure wasn’t living like I believed that.

I finally got up enough courage to resign from this job in January 2015. It only took me 8 months. I was paralyzed with fear the entire time at this job. All the what if’s kept going thru my head…what if you lose the cleaning contract again, what if you don’t have enough to pay your bills? But Gods voice said, “I will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9. He also said, that He is my rescuer if these things should happen (paraphrased 2 Chronicles 20:9). This paralyzing fear was crippling to my walk with God. I wasn’t living a life of faith in Him. I did not trust Him to provide for me. I was starting to trust in the security of this job instead of God. I was letting all my priorities go in order to do this job and keep up with all my work. I was slowly gaining the world and quickly losing my life. The person I was becoming was not the person I wanted to leave behind as a legacy to my daughter. I was becoming a work-obsessed human being who wanted comfort, certainty, and security instead of the life God has in store for me. I resigned in order to step out in faith the God is enough. I would rather have life in Him than spend my life chasing this world. I know this may not make sence to a lot of people, but that is ok. It doesn’t always makes perfect sense to me either, but I have faith that God will be there wherever I go. I believe this is His will for my life. I am to trust in Him to provide for me and forgo my idols. I know the will of God will not take me where the grace of God cannot sustain me.

I was stretched and strengthened during this whole 8 months at this job. I have grown in mercy and grace in multiple areas of my life. I am grateful for having worked at this job. God has used it to teach me many lessons.I have never had to work like this before. It was hard on so many levels. I had prided myself on being a single mom for years who did not need anyone’s help. I could do it all. This season has humbled me in many ways. But God has shown me how much He loves me, cares for me, and will always be there with me even during my ugly seasons. He has given me so much grace in multiple ways throughout this season. His grace covered my sin of idols and security, my ugly attitudes, and my passive reactive parenting during this season. His grace also provided what I needed in order to juggle everything without losing my cleaning company or my life. He held everything together. There is no way I could have juggled a full-time job, ran a cleaning company, been a mom, and kept my life from completely falling apart. His grace provided for all of those things to be held together. His grace also led me out of this job so that I could have my life back in Him. I still don’t know if this job was a gift from God or a stumbling block from Satan. But what I do know is “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”, Romans 8:28

God is for us. He loves us and will never leave us or forsake us. If you are a child of God then His grace covers you too. Whatever is going on in your life remember that God is there with you. He will help you and provide what you need even when everything appears as if it is falling apart. He holds everything together. God always has a purpose in everything and sometimes it is for us to grow. He will be there when disaster strikes and He will rescue you. “Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.” 2 Chronicles 20:9