Thursday, October 1, 2015

Envy, Insecurity, and Such

Where do I begin?

Friends, if you've read my blog or if you are facebook friends with me or if you know me personally, there are probably a couple things you know about me.  I have some insecurities and I have some issues with contentment.

Apparently that's stating it very lightly after the hot emotional mess I was last night.  This affected me so deeply that I'm still dealing with the emotional aftershocks this morning and still fighting off some spontaneous tears.

What has me so upset you might ask?  Well, believe it or not it was the simple act of going to a small group meeting from our church.

But, let me back up.  Many of you are probably familiar with or involved with the small groups movement so popular in churches today.  In a day and age that churches are sometimes quite large, it's a chance to get together with the same people over an extended period of time and form some deeper relationships.  It's a way to feel connected within the church body, to grow together, and to encourage one another.  It's a great format when it works.

John and I were part of a small group from our church several years ago in which I felt very comfortable.  Even though we had a wide range of ages and marital/ family statuses we were all pretty much on the same socio-economic level (read:  we were all ok financially for the most part but still struggled here and there).  The home we met in felt real and comfortable and just a bit imperfect ( a lot like mine).  I could relax and be myself.

Our small group leaders ended up moving away and we went without a small group for a couple years.  We did have a short period where we met with a couple we've known for many years and another couple.  But, a busy season of life for many of us in the group meant that eventually we couldn't meet with much regularity and eventually ended meeting together formally.

Which brings us to now.  We've been wanting to get plugged into a small group again.  But, we just weren't sure which group to jump in with.  A husband and wife from our church that John had gotten to know on a missions trip invited us to visit their group.

Let me say that any new social situation is difficult for me.  It takes me a long time to get to know a new group of people and to feel truly comfortable.  So, the first time we went, I was already on edge and anxious. When we pulled into the driveway....which was really more of a road unto itself... there in front of me spread out this massive property with beautifully fenced & maintained meadows, a large custom house, and a detached 'garage' that was larger & more beautiful my own house.  I would call it an estate.

 It turns out we arrived at least a half hour to 45 minutes early.  John must have misunderstood the start time.  So, already I feel awkward & insecure in this house that's beyond anything I've ever been in before.  As the other people arrived, it was obvious that this group had been together for a long time and everyone knew each other very well.  In addition the children also knew each other & were a bit older than my boys.

That was our first experience with the group.  Eventually that day I relaxed a bit.  I enjoyed listening to the conversations around me.  And, people seemed basically down to earth.  But, I wasn't sure how to join in.

The next time we went we met at a different house.  This one was definitely more modest.  It was gorgeous and perfectly decorated.  But, it felt more homey and I relaxed a little bit more.  But, I still felt like an outsider trying to join in with a group that already was so bonded.

It became clear that several of the families own their own businesses...successful businesses.  I know this is one of the reasons this group appealed to John.  He would like very much to form relationships with other Christian businessmen.  Plus he seems very comfortable with the other men.

I however still haven't been able to open up or really feel comfortable.

The group took a break over the summer months so we haven't been in touch with these folks much other than to say 'hi' in passing at church.  But last night was the first night that we met again to begin the new year.
I was nervous again.  Social anxiety was  high.  But, I tried to set aside any previous perceptions I had of the group (i.e they were all rich & I didn't have much in common with them).  I tried to go in with an open mind and heart.

We were meeting at yet another couple's house that I hadn't been to before.  And, as we came around the corner and pulled into their driveway and yet another 'estate' perhaps even more impressive than the one before loomed before my eyes, I wanted to do nothing other than turn around and go home.  I was fighting back tears before we even went inside.  And, as we walked in the doors it became even harder to keep my tears in check.

This house was a showcase house.  It was beyond anything I'd ever seen before in my life (and I thought that about the first house!).  Each room had furniture and decor that was showroom quality.  There were no used or second hand pieces in this house.  Everything was new and perfect.

We met in the basement....which, when you think of a finished basement, even a nice finished have a certain family room style in mind.  Again, everything was the highest quality and perfectly decorated.  I suppose you could say it was slightly less formal than the upstairs.  But, everything...the lighting, the appliances in the kitchenette, the furniture the decor, it was all high end.

I could not relax.  I was so beside myself.  So insecure.  So upset.  I choked back tears the entire evening and just wanted to go home.

Why?  Why did this upset me so much?  This is the part I've been having trouble putting into words.  I tried to explain myself to John last night when we got home & I could finally release the messy cry I'd been holding back.

I guess in a nutshell, I don't feel like these people could ever really accept or know me.  I feel like if they saw my house - how tiny it is, how dirty it's glaring imperfections they would reject me.  John assures me this isn't true.  And, in my head I know he's probably right.  They really are nice people.

But how could I ever share my struggles or challenges with them.  They would have no point of reference.  There is no chaos in their homes.  There is no clutter.  There is no need to improve anything.  Everything is already perfect.

You know I wrestle with contentment & envy so much.  I can't even conceive of how much money that property and it's furnishings cost.  I can't even afford right now to replace my broken shades on my windows.  For them that would a drop in the bucket.  And, frankly, it seems so unfair to me.

John works so hard.  So hard.  We are frugal.  We save.  We tithe.  And, we can't seem to get ahead.

There's a house on 5 acres near us that came up for auction 9 years ago.  We had gone to the open house & I fell in love with that house & that property.  It's just an old, unrenovated farmhouse.  But, I loved it.  And, I loved the peacefulness of the land around it.  I've dreamt about that house.  And, I've said that if it was ever for sale again, I wanted it.

Well, it's up for auction again in November.  And I know we can't afford it.  We just can't.

And, I've tried to come to terms with being content where I am...being thankful.  In fact I often feel guilty for longing for a bigger house & some acreage.  I don't want anything flashy.   A simple old farmhouse with some land will do.  But, I struggle with this.  Because I KNOW that compared to third world countries even I am living in luxury.  And, I often ask myself what the best way is to use the money that we ARE entrusted with.  Is it to improve ourselves?  Or to improve others?

And, I'll admit.  I couldn't help thinking about that as I sat there.  I looked around and knew that one small area of their furniture would totally pay for the adoption of the daughter my friends are trying to bring home from China.  The refrigerator in the finished basement alone is worth more money than what I can raise for the ministry that we benefit through the vintage sale we work on & plan for months.

And it's not for me to judge how they spend their money.  John told me I was being very judgemental.  And, he's probably right.  I just don't know how to let go of this feeling of unfairness.  I suppose that's the definition of envy, right?  Looking at what someone else has and begrudging it.  There's a reason God included 'Do not covet' in the Ten Commandments.  Coveting makes me feel absolutely miserable.  And it hinders relationship.

I also know that I have no idea what their struggles are.  While all I could see was perfection I'm sure their lives aren't perfect.  I have to see people for who they are and not what they have.

So there I was all in a great knot of insecurity and envy.

 I'll admit.  I didn't make much effort to talk last night.  I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to not cry.  So if I feel closed off I really have no one to blame but myself

Next weekend we're supposed to go away for the weekend with the couples from this group.  We're going to a cabin for two nights.  I don't want to go.  I don't know if I can past how I'm feeling.  I don't know if I even totally understand how I'm feeling or why I'm feeling it.  I don't want to have pre-conceived notions of who they are.  After all, isn't that what I fear?  That they would have preconceived notions of me if they could see how I live?

I'm not sure how to deal with this.  Maybe God is trying to teach me something.

Monday, August 31, 2015


***Prelude:  I wrote this post several weeks ago and never published it.  Mainly because I felt like I was being a big whiny baby.  And, frankly, just writing down all my frustrations helped.  But, I came across it again tonight & thought.'Why not share it?'.  Oh, and as it turns out 3/4 of the things I was stressing about have come and gone & I'm none the worse for wear.  The kids are in school.  The back to school shopping got done.  Vacation happened and it was good.  Taxes got paid.  ***

The word of the day is Overwhelmed.  Being overwhelmed is something I frequently experience.  But, sometimes I reach that threshold where I'm SO overwhelmed that I start to break.  I'm breaking today....fighting back tears of frustration and a sense of being unable to take control of everything going on around me.

It's nothing major.  It's just a lot of little things.  Like the kids going back to school in a little over a week.  Still needing to do back to school shopping for supplies and shoes.  Like the fact that my oldest is going into middle school and that's a whole new learning curve for him and me.  Like the fact that my youngest is going into Kindergarten.  He's not my baby anymore.  This is the first year that all my children will be in school.  And a part of me is looking forward to the freedom and opportunity that offers....and part of me mourns.  I mourn the years of my children being little and needing me.  Did I embrace that time enough?  Did I give enough?  Am I embracing this time now enough?  Am I giving enough?

Then there's the fact that we waited until the last minute to do a family vacation this summer.  Yup.  We're doing it this week.  The week before school.  Because we're a bit crazy like that.  And I should be looking forward to it, but right now all I can think of is everything that needs done.

Did I mention that I forgot Kindergarten orientation?  Yup.  That was last week.  Missed it.  Did I mention that my oldest is in the process of getting braces?  Read:  Orthodontic appointments.  Orthodontic appointments.  Orthodontic appointments.  And,  I got the total cost for the next two years of orthodontic treatments.  Wow.  It's not cheap.

Which leads to other financial considerations.  Fall taxes on our home and our rental property are due.

Oh, what else?  It's soon time to start planning our next Vintage Sale.   We don't have a food stand coordinator this time around.  So, that's added pressure.  And, I'm just not feeling it this time.  I'm feeling like I want to take a step back & re-group....figure out what's next & how to organize my life.

Speaking of organization, that's something that I have as a goal once my children are back in school.  Because frankly my house is a huge source of my frustration and being overwhelmed.  It's a disaster area!  I don't mean  that in the sense of 'oh we have a couple things out of place'.  (Ugh.  If I read one more blog where someone takes before and after home organization pictures where their 'before' is way better than anything I could ever dream of...I will scream).  My house needs some serious attention.  And, I honestly don't even know where to begin.

But, you know.  I'm a stay at home mom whose kids are all going into school, so I  should have perfection in my home & my life, right?  I feel this sense of  judgement....from noone in particular, just a general societal judgement...that managing our home and our family isn't enough.  I should be able to do that AND hold a full time job.  I must be a slacker.

Which is evidenced by the fact that I've gotten fatter than I've ever been before.  Yup.  I weigh more than I did when I was PREGNANT!   No matter how often I try to get a handle on this area of my life, I fail..over and over and over.

There's more.  There's always more because I constantly walk around feeling like I'm not enough.  I'm not doing enough.  I'm not being enough.  I'm not giving enough.  And, that my friends is the perfect recipe for being overwhelmed.

How do I pull myself out of this?  I don't think I can.  I really don't.  I try to remind myself that God is our strength in the midst of our weakness.  But, how does this translate into living my life?  I mean I still have to DO things.

Anyhow, sorry for the pity party.  I feel better getting it out.  Sometimes I just need to get the stuff out of my head and written down, so that I can deal with what's bugging me.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Battle is His

I was feeling overwhelmed yesterday.  Overwhelmed by the hardness and callousness of this age.  When people can be confronted face to face with what abortion is.  When people can see plain as day that Planned Parenthood has been breaking federal law....when they see the casual-ness with which they discuss the sale of the body parts of unborn babies.  And not care.

But more than not care.  They defend.  They lash out in hatred.

And I feel helpless.  How do I respond?  What kind of difference can I make when hearts are so hardened?

And I came across this passage in 2 Chronicles 20: 15-17.  It felt like it was meant for me in this situation....

"He said Listen King Jehosophat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem.  This is what the Lord says to you.

  'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow march down against them.

 They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.

You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you O Judah & Jerusalem.

 Do not be afraid.  Do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you."

Jehosophat and his people responded with praise.  The day of the battle they sang and praised God.  And as they did, God began to defeat the enemy causing confusion among them so that they destroyed each other.  King Jehosophat's army never had to fight.

Verses 29-30
"The fear of God came among all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.  And the kingdom of Jehosophat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on  every side."

God fought the battle.  And, God received His glory.

And I felt God was saying to me.....
The battle is not yours.  It is the Lord's.  Do not feel compelled to do what I have not asked you to do.  Do only what I ask.  And I am asking you to pray.

So stand firm.  Pray.  Praise Him.  The battle is His!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fifty five million

Fifty five million.  Fifty five men, women, and children who should be here..standing beside us, a part of our lives. Sometimes maybe you can sense what could have been, what should have a whisper, in shadow & light, in a thought much like a memory.

Fifty five million people who WERE and then were not.  Can you feel them?  They should be here now.  They would be our brothers & sisters, our aunts & uncles, our friends, our colleagues, our spouses.  Today some of them would be fathers & mothers themselves.  They would be connected to us, an intricate part of our lives.  If you've ever felt that something was missing..someone was's because they are.  Fifty five million people are missing.

Entire generations, entire futures eliminated, erased.

Each life is unique.  We know this.  This is scientific fact.  The genetic code in each and every person is unique to that person.  There never was and never will be another person like the person introduced at the time of conception.

So how many unique opportunities, talents, skills have been discarded along with fifty five million people?  Countless.  Where would we be today with them beside us?  We will never know.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Thorn in My Side

I have a problem with food.  Well, actualy, I should point out that I LOVE food.  My problem is actually a problem with self-control.

So many of my Facebook friends seem to have gotten on the health boat and are sailing along so smoothly.
I've gotten on many health boats over my lifetime,  But, as the boat starts to pull away from the shore, food beckons me with it's siren song & I jump from the boat & swim back to my island of "I'm gonna eat what I want to eat when I want to eat" and "It's easier to just sit here & I don't want to exercise".

And, the thing is, I know from experience that being healthy feels good.  It feels so much better than the blobby ball of lethargy and blech that I am now.  But, even those times I've worked hard to get to a certain point and I feel good, I'm still eventually wooed back by the allure of eating greasy, fatty, salty, sweet, rich, decadent food.

I can't even imagine long term maintenance of weight loss....because I ALWAYS gain it back.
There's a part of me that has thrown in the towel and says that I just don't care anymore...that feels destined to always have a weight problem.

But, then there's another part of me that doesn't want to become what I'm becoming....I already see the toll that carrying around extra weight is taking on my body.  I have so little energy, aches & pains, it aggravates my varicose veins (which are a genetic trait passed down in my family, but which I think could be lessened if I wasn't so heavy).  I waddle when I walk.  I get out of breath quickly.  I DON"T want to get old before I'm old!

Looking at everyone else's successes actually makes me less motivated....if that makes any sense.  I see everyone tapping into something that finally clicked for them.  And, I've tried so. many. times.  Even when I think I've finally found my groove, I always, always, always fall back into my old ways.

Food in many ways is an addiction for me.  I hesitate to use that word, 'addiction' because I think it sometimes gets overused.  But, when I look back over my relationship with food I definitely see some addictive behavior patterns.  And, I know from my past and with other issues, it's very easy for me to fall into addictive behavior.

I'm frustrated.  I know it's going to take work.  And work is....hard.  It's so much easier just to not think about making healthy choices.  When I'm feeling discouraged & lethargic, where do I find that motivation to pull myself up by the bootstraps...especially when the boots feel so heavy?

I'm not sure what I'm looking for.  Not sympathy or pity.  I've written about this struggle often enough for it to sound like a broken record.  I guess I just needed to vent.  I needed to express what's on my heart and mind.  Sometimes, just writing it it a voice...helps bring me some relief and clarity.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Be Still

There has been a great heaviness on my heart.
I watch as this world spins out of control.
People consumed with a thirst for self-fulfillment and pleasure.
There is no room for authority.  No room for right or wrong.
Everything is relative.
They not only reject God, but scorn Him, spit upon Him, loathe Him.

And, it breaks my heart.
I've been saying that a lot lately.
But, it's true.  My heart is broken.
To know that so many refuse to see
There is more.
More than what running after their own passions can ever supply.

And, I feel helpless.
Any word I might speak in love
is misconstrued as hate, as intolerance, as oppression.
The blinders are on.
They can't see the chains binding them.
That God wants to free them.

I spent the afternoon listening to hymns, finding comfort there.
Be still, and know that I am God.
And in my stillness...a prayer, a word of faith rose up within me.....
Perhaps it will bring you the peace it brought me.

He is still sovereign  Isaiah 25:8

He is still sufficient  2 Corinthians 12:9

His great love & mercy endureth forever  Psalm 136:4

He is Alpha & Omega, beginning and the end  Revelation 21:6

He makes known from ancient times what is still to come  Isaiah 46:10

His compassions they fail not  Lamentations 3:22

Every knee shall bow & every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord  Phillipians 2:10

His mercies are new every morning.  Lamentations 3:23

He is my strength  Psalm 28:8

He is my righteousness  Isaiah 61:10

He is our fortress  2 Samuel 22:33

He is our refuge  Psalm 46:1

There is none like Him.  Isaiah 46:9

He is Holy.  Isaiah 6:3

His purposes stand.  Psalm 36:11

Do not listen to the roaring
   of the world
The wild clashing
   and angry refrains

It seeks to drown out
   His peaceful song
His sweet melody
   the world cannot endure

But Truth rings out
    soft and pure
In the hearts of men
    a remnant stands

Still yourself
     lest you cease to hear
the gentle leading
     in your soul

Thursday, June 18, 2015

To Soothe My Soul

To say that I've been feeling spiritually dry lately is an understatement.  I'm not even sure I can point to exactly why.  I know I haven't been spending time reading the Bible or praying like I should.  But, it's a vicious cycle you know.  Hitting a dry spell leads to less desire to read & pray.  Less reading and praying leads to more dryness.  And, so on.

I've been trying to force myself to read a quick passage here and there.  (That sounds terrible doesn't it?  Force myself?  But, being honest here).  Sometimes something speaks to me.  Sometimes I'm just checking it off.  Read my Bible today?  Check.

Well, today I was feeling like I wanted to listen to some music to feed me spiritually.  But (here I am being honest again) sometimes, modern worship music leaves me.....wanting more.

Don't get me wrong.  I do enjoy a lot of it.  And, some of it really speaks to me.  But, a lot of times?  A lot of times it's repetitive and not very...meaty.

One of the things that drives me absolutely batty at church or when listening to certain worship music is saying the same phrases over and over and over and over and over and over.

Sometimes I just want a SONG.  A song written with verses and a chorus and something really substantive to say.

I clicked on youtube.  At first I thought I'd look for the newer worship song 'It is well'...not to be confused by the hymn 'It is well'.  But, that's exactly what happened.  I actually ended up clicking on a Chris Rice version of the hymn 'It is Well'.  And, almost immediately  peace just washed over me.  I sang along. I cried.

Then, I saw that he had a whole bunch of hymns that he had covered.  And, by covered...I don't mean he mangled them & tried to 'modernize' them.  He just sang these hymns straightforward and the way I was used to hearing them....with ALL the verses!  Not just a couple of most well known verses mixed in with some new arrangement.  He sang the WHOLE HYMN.

I listened to Great Is Thy Faithfulness and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  I wanted to listen to more.  But, then my husband came home from work and I turned it off so I could talk to him.

But, as I listened to those hymns, I listened as someone who was starving for the nourishment there.  The words are so rich, so meaningful, so poetic & beautiful yet powerful.  This verse from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing spoke so deeply to me.

"O to grace how great a debtor 
daily I'm constrained to be! 
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, 
bind my wandering heart to thee. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, 
prone to leave the God I love; 
here's my heart, O take and seal it, 
seal it for thy courts above. "

I mean that song verse met me pretty much right where I am.

And, I don't want to sound mocking in any way.  But, that meant so much more to me than another song we sing in church that goes round my head so often (probably because it's so repetetive)..."Fill me up God, Fill me up God, Fill me up God.  Fill me up."  Yes, I want to be filled.  But singing those words over and over like a mantra doesn't really do it for me.

But after listening to these hymns today I felt like I had sat down to a MEAL.  In comparison, some modern worship songs are like soda....bubbly, light, and sweet - but not very nourishing.

If I had it my way, I'd love for our church to use a mixture of traditional hymns and modern worship.  But, it seems like so many churches today have abandoned the hymns that I grew up with. 

 I'm not sure what the solution is to this.  But today, I found soothing for my soul.
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