Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stop Placing Your Order and Start Taking Inventory!!

I'm having a bad day. I woke up not feeling well at all! I didn't have much energy, felt nauseous on and off, ran a slight fever, had a horrible headache, I was coughing, had a sore throat, and my arms and legs felt achy. I began coughing up disgusting stuff that I won't even begin to describe, and I pretty much curled up on the couch wishing I could fall asleep and not wake up for a solid week. I don't do 'sick' well. I guess part of the problem is that every time I was sick as a kid, someone would suggest that I was faking it and would encourage me to "stop being a baby". I don't ever remember having that mom that brought me chicken soup and fluffed my pillows. Did anyone have that?? Anyway, when I DO get sick, I usually try not to admit that I don't feel well. Of course, this usually results in getting even sicker and extending the length of my recovery time! UGH! I have a friend who is a pro at being sick. She usually pushes right through, takes whatever meds she needs and faces her day in spite of it all. She makes me feel like a bit of a weeny! LOL!

Have you ever noticed that when things get really rough in life, you start "making a list" of what God could do to fix it all. I found myself imagining what that must be like for Him.... He looks down at this precious child that He gave up His one and only Son to save and all He hears is gripe gripe gripe or moan moan moan about all the things they do/don't have. We go on and on about how miserable life is and how it would be so much better IF He could only give us this or this or that. Sometimes I wonder if He ever regrets that sacrifice simply because he is so fed up with our constant whining and complaining! Of course I know our God in Heaven would never think such a thing, but still.... it certainly proves to me that I could never come close to doing His job!

I admit it! I'm guilty! Sometimes I get so caught up with the things I need or am lacking that I forget the many blessings I have been given. Even on a day like today when I felt like yuck, I was blessed. My daughter was in great spirits and played by herself or watched her videos, my hubby works from home so I never truly felt alone in my yuck, and I had access to meds/water/food that I needed to make myself feel better. I even was blessed with a comfy robe and slippers (which I didn't remove all day) and a television to keep me company. Maybe we would all feel so much better in those hard times if we could only stop ourselves from seeing the problems long enough to take inventory of the blessings! When things are hard though, it seems like I place my orders with God about what I need fixed without being thankful for what I have. It's truly sad!

Did you wake up this morning able to walk across the room without feeling winded?? I know someone who didn't! Did you wake up with the ability to listen to your favorite song or watch your favorite show?? I know several who can't! Did you wake up this morning with a small child (or large one!) that gave hugs and kisses? A child who might have told you about their plans for the day or their hopes for the future? There are several people around the world who would give their very last dime for a chance to do just that! You have so many things to be grateful for! Even things that you do have that aren't so much fun - give thanks!!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." EVERYTHING! Not just some things! EVERYTHING! Did you have a hard childhood like I did? Give thanks!! Do you have a handicap that makes your life hard at times? GIVE THANKS!! No, it ain't always easy, but neither was Jesus' payment for your life! He has done all of this for you! He has written the book of your life in such a way that you will be strong! So, BE STRONG! BE THANKFUL! BE HIS!

So in those times when you feel your life would be better if you had something else, STOP, THINK, and TAKE INVENTORY! Stop placing that order with God for a new life, a new situation, and new world, different friends, a new church, a new school!! Instead, START by taking inventory of the many blessings He has already given you - I promise it will make whatever situation you are currently in look and feel so much more blessed!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Me? I choose NOT to be a Victim!

Hello all! Sorry for the HUGE break in my blogging duties - 2009 is shaping up to be just as busy as 2008! UGH! I'm trying to get myself into a rhythm, but it is always easier said than actually done.

I was reading the blog of an acquaintance the other day, not a close personal friend or anything, just someone I know in passing... Out of idle curiosity, I checked to see how her life was faring, how her family was, what she was up to in 2009... To be honest, I was a bit annoyed at her take on "the woes of life." Frankly, the majority of the blog was a report on how many people in her life have wronged her in some way, shape, or form. She went on and on about those people who let her down and treated her like rubbish. This blog post read a bit like an obituary for her killed self esteem and the people who drove her to make mistakes of mass proportions. It was not HER fault, but their fault! "I wound NEVER have done THAT IF so and so wouldn't have".... blah blah blah. Those of you who know me can probably guess my first reaction... PITY. Yep, I admit that for a few minutes there, she had me. I felt her pain, her frustration, her fear... but then, I stopped and really read what she was saying. She complained. She whined. She fussed. She screamed and shouted "Not fair!" at every turn. Mostly, she played the victim. Oh, sure, occasionally she would throw in a "I'm so thankful for blah blah blah...BUT...". I'm telling you, this woman wasn't going to own up and take responsibility for anything she had said or done without the Good Lord walking into her kitchen and posting a sign to her forehead. She was NOT to blame! She had been wronged! UNFAIR!

Let me just say, in my personal and professional experience, life sometimes sucks! Sure, people mistreat you, sometimes they make massive mistakes that you have to live with, sometimes you fall down, other times you have to work to get up - it's hard! But it's not just hard for YOU! As REM so eloquently put it, EVERYBODY HURTS! Life is hard for EVERYONE!! Everyone feels pain! EVERYONE wants to scream and shout UNFAIR at some point in time! But what is the difference between those who do and those who don't? A simple choice really - will you be a victim or a victor?

My life has not always been so wonderful. Sure, you might look at me now with my adorable baby girl, my wonderful and caring husband who (I might add) cleans dishes for me on a regular basis, and you might think - "That Tilly, she just has always had it soooo easy." Okay, maybe you might not say that, but you might think it IF you didn't know me. I won't bore you with the endless details of my horrid childhood because frankly it is pretty personal AND it serves no purpose to rehash. But, to make my point, I will give you a glimpse at what I have lived...

My first memory was from about the age of five. (I know most people have memories from as early as three, but I truly believe that God has blessed me with a lack of memory from earlier days in order to protect me from what I have lived through.) One night, age approximately 5, at about two or three in the morning, I awoke from my bed to the sound of a horrid piercing scream. From a dead sleep, I jumped up out of my bed, sprinted down the hall and headed towards the bright lights in the kitchen. There, pushed up against the kitchen wall, was my mother. Her eyes were blood shot red and wild with fear. My father, whose face I couldn't see, had a long butcher knife pushed up against her throat. I screamed. Suddenly they both twisted around to glare at me. In that moment, I realized that both of my parents were completely drunk and both were mad AT ME for interrupting them. My mother (with a knife still at her throat mind you) screamed at me "What do you think you're doing out of bed?!" I remember sobbing loudly, turning around and running the full length of the hallway, slamming my bedroom door, crawling into the very back part of my closet, and curling up into a tight ball and sobbing. I began pretending that I was any where but there, and before I even knew who God was, I prayed that I could disappear. No one ever came in to talk to me. No one ever checked on me. No one came. That became the first of many nights that I would choose to escape to my closet in order to sleep. Want to know what is really strange?? The next morning, my mother and father acted as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened that night. I remember asking her what they were fighting about, but my mother just laughed, rolled her eyes and said, "You know how your dad gets sometimes." Yep, that was the first instance I can remember from my childhood.

I wish I could say that that was the worst thing that ever happened to me, but that wouldn't be true. What I can say is that my entire childhood was scattered with ridicule, anger, tears, and lots of pain (most emotional, but some physical). I can also tell you that my mother and father still act as though none of that ever happened. Basically, I am still alone in those memories. No one carries the burden of those memories but me. I'm still alone in that closet.

Sure, I could sit around and scream UNFAIR. I could stomp my feet and kick and most people would say I have just cause to do so. I could play the victim... but you know what? I don't want to. God has truly blessed me. Not just now, but back then as well. And no, I'm not just saying that! Out of that tumultuous past came the person I am today.... and I kind of like me! :-) I have learned so many valuable lessons from my life. I have learned to forgive others, even when they don't know/admit they need forgiveness. I have learned to tell my daughter every single day how beautiful, gifted, and precious she is to me. I have learned to LOVE and BELIEVE that my hubby thinks I'm pretty beautiful even when my hair is dirty and my shirt smells of baby poop. Sure, I still fight against some things, like trying to disappear into the crowd or shying away from the unknown (once again retreating to my closet), but I also know that I to try my hardest to see the best in those around me. I appreciate honesty and straight forwardness so very much because I never saw that growing up. And, more than anything else, I know that God BLESSED me with my past because He knew I was strong enough to carry through. That's a pretty amazing thought - how could I ever be a victim with that knowledge?!

So today, you get to make a choice. Will you look back on your life and dwell on how poorly you were treated? OR, will you look back on your life and be thankful for who you turned out to be? The sharpest sword is crafted in the hottest flame - be sharp. Be strong! Be a victor for God! It is your choice!