The “What-If” Quicksand

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The past three weeks have been perhaps the most stressful and yet biggest opportunity for growth I’ve ever had in my life.

On Easter Sunday, I was t-boned.

It was one of those moments in life where everything slows down, as if watching a movie in slow motion, and yet at the same time, it all happened so fast, I don’t even remember the airbags going off. After the car spun and finally came to a stop, I knew two things: 1. My car was totaled (I knew it even without seeing the damage) and 2. I knew this was absolutely not my fault and I was accepting nothing less than that.

After I managed to crawl out the passenger side of my car (in a short dress and heels no less – it was Easter after all) shock set in as anger, panic, and fear began to try and take root.

Then, the ‘what-ifs” started.

What if I had gone to church that Sunday with my parents instead of attending my church first?

What if I hadn’t gone back inside my church to talk to someone afterwards, delaying me just a few moments more?

What if I had taken a different route?

What if, what if, what if………

I was drowning fast in the quicksand of ‘what-ifs’.

I’m sure my mother saw the panic setting in as I began to slowly meltdown sitting in the speaker’s room at church. But her kind words brought me back (even if it was just a little bit back) – “Forgive him. Walk in forgiveness. Walk in love.”  (Although she admitted later she was having just as hard of a time doing the exact same thing – and she wasn’t even in the car with me).

I can not even count how many times I have repeated this to myself over the past three weeks. Sometimes just in my head. Sometimes under my breath. Sometimes nearly screaming it at myself. But none-the-less, I have confessed it nearly every day.

Within an hour of the accident, I could already see God working on me. Some of those “what-ifs” turned to “thank you Lord!”s. Like – “what if my front airbag had gone off where my hand was on the horn?” became “Thank you Lord that there are NO BROKEN BONES! Thank you Lord that I walked away!” “What if he had hit my door instead of the back door?” became “Thank you Lord that Your guardian angels kept him from hitting my door.”

But, just because God is working on you, doesn’t mean satan still doesn’t try to take that joy away. It wasn’t too many more minutes after that when the worry began to creep in.

What am I going to do? How am I going to afford another car? How am I even going to get to work tomorrow? (Yup, that’s me – the practical one).

Over the next few days I began to have a new revelation of worry, regret, and resting in God.

You see – the more “what-if” thoughts I entertained, the more I began to see regret and worry try to take over. “What-ifs” over decisions already made, is nothing but REGRET. And “what-ifs” about future decision,  not yet made, is nothing but WORRY.

But what does the Word say about this all?

Cast your cares over on to God for He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7).

And if God cares so much for the smallest of creatures in His creation, how much more so does He care for you?! He will provide for you so don’t let worry take over! (Matthew 6).

I began to realize that not only was I drowning in the “what-if” quicksand of regrets, but I was already putting stock in “what-if” worry that hadn’t even happened yet. “What if I meet someone tomorrow, get married, and have a baby – I’d need a bigger, more practical vehicle?”, “What if my finances don’t continue to improve and I’m stuck with a car payment?”, “What if the insurance company offers me pennies on the dollar value for my car?”….what if, what if, what if.

And that’s when it really hit me…I wasn’t just living this moment in the “what-ifs”, I had been living the last 12yrs of my life based on “what-ifs”!  I’ve been living my life putting more faith in fear of the unknown than putting faith in God, the known!

There’s only one thing that can pull you out of this downward spiral of drowning in what-if quicksand – God. This is where you have to cast those cares over on to Him. You have to trust that He loves you so much, He will take care of you and won’t let you want for anything. This is where you have to say enough is enough – I won’t put faith in worry anymore. I won’t live a life paralyzed by “what-ifs”.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Heck, let’s face it…things very rarely go according to OUR plan. But God…God’s always got a plan that is bigger and better than ours, and He’s standing at attention, ready to take over the moment we say “not I Lord, but You!”  “Not my care Lord – I give it all over to you!”

We’re now 3 weeks out from the accident. Praise God I’m getting better every day, less sore, and I’m learning to put faith in Him instead of in the “what-ifs”. Praise God for His over and above blessings and a great testimony and lesson from this all.

Do I have it all figured out yet? Of course not. But God does and His plan is far superior to mine! I’m ready to use His word as a bridge over this quicksand of “what-if”, worry and regret, and move forward in to the blessing He has waiting for me!

Love Goggles

 

  
Love is blind.”

I’m sure that’s a quote you’ve heard more than once in your lifetime. You might not believe it to be true, but take a quick stroll through your local Walmart and I’m sure you’ll find at least one couple that makes you scratch your head and go “What did they ever see in that person to fall in love?!”

They had love goggles on!

What are they, you ask? I’d like to think they are a better (and Christian approved) version of beer goggles…you know, the eyes a drunk person sees someone through after one too many drinks, when they think everyone is just amazing. Now take that, but minus the feeling/need to distort reality, via alcohol – and you’ve got love goggles my dear readers.

But how does this pertain to love? Do we have to be drunk to fall in love with, dare I say, the unlovable? No, of course not!

1. I’m a firm believer that there is someone for everyone.
2. Love isn’t blind – it’s just got “love goggles” on.

On one of those fun outings to Walmart, I saw a very unconventional couple. A tall, skinny, well dressed, and good looking guy with a wife who weighed easily 350lbs, tattoos galore, clothes that were wrinkled and stained, and hair that was more unkempt than a rat’s nest. Does that paint a picture for you of how odd a couple this was to see?

As I walked passed them, I found that I was comparing myself to this woman I didn’t even know, and asking God the whys:

Me: Ok, if SHE can find someone, then what the heck is wrong with me? I guess love really is blind if HE can love someone like THAT.
God: Love isn’t blind. It simply allows you to see the beauty in everything. When you see people through MY love, you’ll see them the way I do – you’ll see the unique beauty that each person holds because I created them!

I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. It took me a few minutes to fully grasp what I had just heard, what I had just received a rhema on.

“Love isn’t blind. It simply allows us to see the beauty (God’s beauty) in everything!” This might be one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard from God. Definitely in my top five.

The inmate in prison. The soldier that returns from war without his limbs. The woman who was disfigured in an accident. The sinner on the sidewalk. Get off of your high horse! Not one of us is more righteous than the other. We are all sinners saved by grace and transformed by His love. The easiest thing to do in life is judge a book by its cover – or a person by their outward appearance. But when we do that, not only are we not showing God’s love, but we aren’t seeing with His love either.

God created each of us in His image. We might, along the path of our life and free will, make decisions that may alter our appearances in negative ways (I type this as I’m munching on salt & vinegar chips, even though I’m supposed to be low-carbing it right now). But no matter the changes our body and outter appearance go through, God will always see us as He created us – He’ll always see our heart and our true beauty.

I challenge you all, this week, to put this to work in your own lives. Stop seeing only the outward appearance. Stop looking at the circumstances – past and present. Stop seeing people with your worldly eyes. See people through God’s eyes this week. See them through His eyes of love. I’m not talking about passionate Eros love; I’m talking about compassionate Philia and Agape love. Determine now to see the beauty in all of God’s creations. I promise, if you set in your heart and mind to do this, not only will your view of people change and your heart expand, but it will rock your world in a way only God can!

 
  

Fifty Shades of a Lie

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If you’re anything like me then you are probably thinking “how the heck did these books become so popular and mainstream?!” Well, it wasn’t their stellar writing, I’ll tell you that much. It wasn’t a great plot line either. And it definitely wasn’t the strong, female heroine in the story. No. It was the one-dimensional, bland leading lady that every woman, who has ever doubted her own self-worth, could wholeheartedly relate to. And (are you ready to tip this cow?) it’s the same reason Twilight became so popular.

So, what’s wrong with that, you might ask?

Well, let me tell you dear readers.

I was one of those women. Yup! I read the Twilight series. Devoured is more like it. And more than once. I remember the excitement I would have when I found another friend who was reading them too. It wasn’t a secret to be reading them, but this was long ago enough that they weren’t totally mainstream yet – and it wasn’t PC to be reading about (gasp) vampires if you were a Christian.

All I could think, after finishing them though, was how much I wanted to have a love like that. Every woman wants a man to come along and give her value. To make her feel like she’s the most amazing woman in the world. To make her feel beautiful. To make her feel like she is worth giving everything up for, even their own life.

It’s been several since years my friend “E” and I spoke of the issues with the series Twilight. In fact, I had totally forgotten about our conversations on it until I read her post on Facebook this week about Fifty Shades of Grey.

“It’s not about the sex…it’s about playing on a woman’s fears that she is unlovable. Playing on the fantasy when you don’t love yourself – some perfect man will see you for something more…and love you unconditionally. The heroine in this book, and another famous one, are indeed blank…with just enough thoughts like what every woman thinks to make it a perfect form for the reader to place themselves into the story. Now they are the one in the book, with the rich-bigger-than-life guy, being loved and cared for. All boiling down to a lack of knowledge on how much God loves you and how perfect we truly are IN HIM.” – quote from “E”

Therein lies the problem. Therein lies the greatest lie of all lies.

Just as I touched on in Know Your Value, you are looking in all of the wrong places if you are waiting for a man to give you value. This void can only be filled with the true knowledge of who you are in Christ, just as “E” said above.

Do you want to feel like the most important person in the world? Jesus would have died, even if it was just for you. Do you want to feel beautiful? You were made in the image of God – His perfect image. Do you want to feel like you are worth giving everything up for, even giving a life for? God loves you so much, He gave the life of His only child so you could live.

It is an absolute lie to believe that you aren’t worth all that God has done for you. It is a lie to believe you aren’t worthy of love. It is a lie to believe you aren’t deserving of the best there is out there. I’ll even go a step further (another underlying issue with these books – more than I want to write about today)…it’s a lie to believe the abusive, controlling, and manipulative relationship, you might be in, is all you deserve to have. It’s a lie to believe that is all you are worth. It’s a lie to believe you can’t leave because you’ll never be loved or worth anything again.

YOU are worth so much more than all of that! You are worth more than what any book of fiction could ever tell you. You are worth far more than the fifty shades of lies you’ve read. Just turn to the one book of truth, the Bible, if you want to hear of Love that exceeds all expectations. A Love that is unfailing. A Love that conquers all, even death.

Seeing Past the Imperfect

This last week I pulled my crochet hooks out of hiding and dusted off my mad skills to start working on some goodies for a little boy that’ll be here this summer (a friend’s, not mine).

So I set my sights on making something I’ve never even attempted before: baby booties.

If you know me, then you know once I set my mind to something, I’m going to do it and redo it till it’s perfect. Yes. I will absolutely admit to being a perfectionist.

As I began following the directions for these super adorable baby booties, I quickly noticed two things: 1. The person who wrote the directions obviously couldn’t do math as the stitches didn’t add up – which irritated this perfectionist to no end (who is now holding a lumpy bootie) and 2. Sometimes, no matter how closely you follow the directions, things don’t always turn out the way you might expect them to.

I knew the moment I realized this, that there was a big life lesson to learn here.

I have worked very hard over the years at letting the small imperfections go. Every time I give something away, all I can think about is the one stitch that was missed or the seam that is slightly uneven. But the receiver of that gift will never notice that imperfection unless the giver points it out.

This is like us and God. We spend all of our time focusing on our imperfections; focusing on the things we wish we would have changed, could have done differently, or let go of.

Oh, BUT GOD!!

God doesn’t see the imperfections in us. He sees us as His beautiful creations, made in His image. He sees all the good still ahead of us, not the sin in our past that we’ve been forgiven of. He sees us through eyes of love, not eyes of hate.

It’s us who continually bring up the “but”s. But what about? But don’t you remember? But I’m not? But I can’t?

But what about the really big but? The…But what about when you follow the instructions/directions exactly and things still don’t turn out the way you expected? Like, for example, all of the expensive education I have, and feel absolutely 1000% that it was what God wanted me to do at the time, but I’m not using any of it right now?

That’s where the only two “buts” there should ever be come in, the “but God” and the “but faith”.

When we, as Christians, fully understand God’s love for us, and His desire to prosper us, not to harm us, we’ll understand that even when things don’t happen the way we want or think, it’s ok because God’s got it!

God doesn’t just see past any imperfections, He sees the big picture, the beginning from the end. He sees what we don’t. When all we see is how something didn’t go according to plan or how the instructions said it should, He sees the true end and all of the steps in between that we’re still going to take. This is where we have to trust wholeheartedly, by faith, in God and His love for us.

So the next time something happens and you find yourself frustrated with the outcomes and are left feeling imperfect, remember to see yourself as God sees you and have faith that the best is still to come, because it’s not over yet, not by a long shot in God’s plan for you!

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The “perfect” vs my “imperfect”

Know Your Value

IMG_6471-0The last few weeks have been rough for me. These last 5lbs before hitting my first goal have been very stubborn at coming off. Of course the holiday eating and get-togethers with friends and church members hasn’t helped either. But all of this has really had me thinking about my own self esteem and self worth.

Last week I was talking on the phone with my bestie. She’s been so encouraging with the progress I’ve made so far, but I told her a little attention from guys wouldn’t hurt every now and then. I really need to be more careful with the words I use though. “T” came out of the woodwork last week after I mentioned the wiper blades on my car being bad on Facebook. Even offering to come to my work and fix my car there. Ok God, I get it…I need to be more specific.

Receiving a compliment or some attention can really go a long way when your self esteem is low. Feeling pretty is one thing. But knowing that someone else sees you that way can mean even more. And God has always been so good to me when it comes to these low points in life. A marriage proposal from a drive-thru attendant who thought I was the most beautiful woman ever was a nice pick-me-up. Or the sweet little Jewish soldier, who not only gave me a custom parking place on the sidewalk, but also “guarded” my car because “I was the most beautiful woman” he had ever seen was definitely a self esteem booster.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about this and how it pertains to relationships. That’s when I realized I was looking for a relationship to fulfill something that God had already done. I was looking for a guy to give me self worth; to see value in me.

God treasures us. We are His and His love for us is so great that He’d do anything for us, including giving His Son in death so that we could live. If that isn’t something to give you worth and value, I don’t know what is. But the Word doesn’t just stop there in John 3:16 about how much God loves us. God loves us so that He made us in His own image (Genesis 1:27). He didn’t make us in the image of some idea He had….He made us perfect in His own perfect image. He knows us and values us so much that He knows the numbers of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:29-31). He loves us so that He planned our futures before we were ever born (Jeremiah 1:5).

People can give you value, but it’ll never be worth as much as the value God has given you because that value knows no limits. If you are looking to find your value in a man (or for the guys, finding value in a woman) you’ll find yourself disappointed because you’re looking for the world to fill a need that only God can really fulfill. Worldly value will fade with time and wane with a person’s feelings. But your value in God will never change.

So know that you are worthy, you are valued, but above all else, you are loved deeply and passionately in a way only your Creator can.

  

Are You There God? It’s Me, Gertie.

  
When I started blogging two and half years ago, this is not the place I ever expected to take it. If you know me, then you know, humor is my MO. Sarcastic humor, none-the-less. It’s how I cope with things, especially when I feel uncomfortable – it’s a wall I could put up. And on the cusp of my 30th birthday, with the pressure to try online dating one more time, writing a blog about it seemed to be the logical next step. I mean because the first two times I tried it, it was so successful. See there’s that sarcasm again.

But there are only so many funny encounters with online dating you can write about before it just becomes negative. And becoming negative is a slippery slope into bitterness. That’s the slope I was falling down over the last two years. Falling might not be the right word – sledding down on a rocket, at super-sonic speed, might be more accurate. It didn’t really hit me, that that’s what I was doing though, until Berta and I talked one night and she expressed her concern in not wanting to see me become the bitter, single 30something girl. We’ve both seen that girl in a story before, and trust me, it doesn’t end well…That girl? She’s now a 40something bitter, single girl.

All I knew, coming out of that conversation, was that I did not want to become that girl. Bitterness is the quickest way to let go of your dreams, and letting go of my dreams is the one thing I can’t do. Why is that? Because I know God loves me enough to see those dreams He placed in my heart become a reality. So I did what my heart and soul know to do best; I cried out to God, asking if He was still there – still in the middle of it all – because I didn’t feel like He was.

There is a song that always seems to come to my mind in times like this: Storm – by Lifehouse
………”I know You didn’t bring me out here to drown, So why am I ten feet under and upside down? Barely surviving has become my purpose, Because I’m so used to living underneath the surface. If I could just see You, Everything would be all right, If I’d see You, This darkness would turn to light. And I will walk on water. And You will catch me if I fall. And I will get lost into Your eyes. And I know everything will be alright………”

That song exactly summed up how I felt, and had felt for more than two years now. But all I kept thinking about was how friends had all told me that I needed to find contentment in my singleness.

Contentment?! Obviously none of them had been single in their 30’s. Why should I be content with something I know is not God’s best for me?

But then, God.

Just as He had been telling me all these years to “wait“, He reminded me of what he spoke to my heart sitting in service at the Southwest Believers Convention in 2013 and I knew it wasn’t about finding contentment in being single, it was about finding who I was in Him.

Matthew 6: 32-33 (NLT)
“These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” 

God still has some work to do with me…I’ve got to learn to listen to Him and obey the first time He tells me something. I’d save myself a lot of heartache in the end for sure. But this time (I’m not going to lie, it’s the second time around), I obeyed and stepped way out of my comfort zone. And what have I been rewarded with? CONTENTMENT! and excitement and anticipation and happiness! I have found that I have a new excitement about church again, an anticipation of what God has in store for my future, and in general a new happiness that I know now can only be found when you seek God first.

So look for a lot more posts like this. Luke 6:45 “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks…” or in my case, the fingers type and boy, oh boy, do I have a lot more to type. All in due time, dear readers. All in due time. Gertie is letting go of any negativity and bitterness and letting God’s contentment take over.

When God Says “Wait”

  
I’m going to go in a bit of a different direction with this blog. I promise not to disappoint, but I want to share a bit of my heart. And if you don’t like religion, well tough, because God is the center of my being, so deal with it. But I do hope you read on.

Being single and in your 30’s is no easy thing to walk out. It means you’ve now spent more than a decade of not only watching your friends get married, but also start their own families. You watch as everyone else lives out the desires you hold deep in your heart.

Watching everyone else live out the very thing you want most in life is difficult; like pouring salt in an open wound. But then you hear that still, small voice inside say “wait”.

You attend another shower, wedding, birth, party and think “when will it be my turn?” But then you hear that still, small voice inside say “wait”.

You see friends, some happy, some unhappy, and think “any relationship would be better than none”. But then you hear that still, small voice inside say “wait” and you remember the words spoken over you years ago – you ARE more precious than gold, settle for no less.

When you hear the Lord speak to you, telling you to “wait”, you take notice.

But “waiting” is so easy, in theory. In action, you want to do anything but wait and one can liken it to wading through a pool of honey – as if the harder you try to move, the more stuck in one place you become.  And from there, it’s a quick spiral into doubting your own self-worth.

But again you hear “wait”. So you…wait.

At this point all you can do is seek God and find the calmness in His promises.

So two years ago I began studying the Psalms that the Lord laid on my heart. For months I meditated on them. I underlined every time the word “unfailing love” appeared. It was through this time, months spent reading and re-reading the Psalms, that I began having a new rhema of God’s unfailing love for me.

Psalm 21: 2-7 (NLT)
For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested. You welcomed him back with success and prosperity. You placed a crown of finest gold on his head. He asked you to preserve his life, and you granted his request. The days of his life stretch on forever. Your victory brings him great honor, and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty. You have endowed him with eternal blessings and given him the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord. The unfailing love of the most high will keep him from stumbling.

While the first part of this passage stands out (the desires of your heart!), the last promise of His unfailing love spoke volumes to me. Not only will His love never fail me, His love will sustain me and keep me from stumbling.

For two years, this is the truth I have held on to. And as I began having a revelation of God’s love for me, I began hearing bits of God’s heart and His desires for me, placed into my own. I no longer just heard “wait”. I heard the reason behind that “wait”. I began to see God weaving His story for my life, His promises, and for the first time I truly understood that His “wait” meant He was orchestrating the greatest love story of all and it will be worth all the “wait” in the world.

Does this mean I don’t have difficult days feeling down? No. But it means I wait, sometimes patiently, sometimes not so patiently. Does this mean God has revealed it all to me these past two years? Not at all. But it does mean that I’ve hidden away in my heart those things He has revealed. I can’t share it all with you 😉 Just know the last two years haven’t only been a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs with online dating. The last two years have taught me, to wait on God and His best. They’ve taught me to sit in the stillness of the night and listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to my soul.  But most importantly, they’ve taught me that when God says “Wait”, He’ll follow it up with “now take a leap of faith”.