#FamilyFeud

I recently returned from a trip to visit family out west. I woke up and God had placed the overwhelming need to go. I was convinced he wanted me to visit my mother’s small hometown to visit my grandmother whom I hadn’t seen in years. I assumed it was to spend time with her before her health declined. After only a few days I realized God had something much deeper in store for me.

As we loaded up the car- My mother, daughter, nephew, and I- I was so sure that I knew what God was calling me for… big mistake. Never assume that you know what God is doing. He will always surprise you. Sometimes it will be joyous, sometimes it will hurt, but it will always be for part of His plan. We Began our 28 hour drive with the intention of making the most out of the 10 days we planned to be gone. This meant deciding on the sacrifice that my mother and I would trade off driving shifts to avoid stopping for the night, thus saving time and money.

I attempted to look up Wesleyan churches in the area so that I could attend church while I was away. I found that not only is the closest (and only two in the state) is 3 and a half hours away from our destination. The more research I did, the more I discovered the vast distance between churches in this region. Few and far between is an understatement. As I looked at the map on my screen, God gave me the words “blank canvas”. That was the first spark in the beginning of a journey soon to come… more on that in the future…

Twenty-eight hours later we arrived at my grandmother’s around 10:00 pm local time. She was very excited to see us, and stayed up talking for a long time before we went to bed. The next morning we had breakfast, prepared for a day of errands with her had lunch, and caught up. It was wonderful. Then came the third day…

After running some more errands and a day planned out of full tasks, things began to change. It had began to rain and we decided to take the kids to the indoor pool the town has. When we returned, she was a different person; yelling and angry. I was confused. I had no idea what changed. The next day it was twice as bad; yelling, screaming, throwing things, accusing us of things we hadn’t and scaring the children. She kicked us out and we didn’t even understand what we did. We were all in tears, we packed the car and were ready to begin the trip home after only a few days. I’m almost sure that my bipolar disorder does run in the family now. I saw two completely different people that day and the image I had of who my grandmother was shattered.

My aunt told us not to leave town yet. She opened her home and her heart to us. Her children, my cousins, did the same. In that moment I realized that at 28 years old… I didn’t even know my aunts and cousins. So much of my family were essentially familiar strangers to me. I retreated into the car to pray alone and spend time with the Father. I knew there was a purpose for this pain but at the moment I couldn’t understand what that purpose was. My sister called and we talked for a while. Granted, we have had a trying relationship at times but when it came down to it, she was there for support when I needed her. That is family. My sister helped me to realize that God was using this one broken relationship to deepen six other relationships for me and other family members. She also helped me to see that God was, in a way, showing me something to remember if I ever think I should come off of my mental health medication again.

My aunt was a life saver and a trip saver. She embraced us and refused to let that bad situation be all we remembered of our trip. We saw so many sights, had so many experiences, and didn’t want to leave when the time came. Sundays sermon was broadcasted on live stream from my church back home and I made a point to watch it. The message that was shared was so on point that I rewound it and made sure to have my family gather around the phone to listen to it. The spirit is alive and moving. He spoke to each one of us in that sermon.

All in all, throughout the trip, God deepened relationships. He showed me my next calling and told me to wait and prepare. He spoke to my family members. He gave me a deeper understanding of my family as a whole. He gave me a deeper understanding of my mother and her upbringing, even of my grandmother and her brief upbringing. Sometimes pain brings understanding, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt. We can understand how someone became who they are and forgive them without excusing wrong behavior. It is a hard thing to do though. My grandmother and I haven’t spoken so far since that day but I pray for her mental and spiritual healing. I do believe that God has started a healing in my family and the future holds so many big things that have yet to come.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for the hard lessons and the hard times as well as the good.

“Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:26-27

Corazón DeSueños

 

See You At The Mountain Top

This weekend we attended our district conference for our denomination. Instead of the usual hotel stay, we took a differnt route and stayed in the cabins at Table Rock Wesleyan Campgrounds. Our pastor planned a climb up the mountain to a waterfall. Now, being someone who despises the heat… in July..  I’ll be honest i wasn’t too stoked about this. Especially when I  heard it would be about an hour ONE WAY. I almost “nope”d right out of there. Nevertheless, I laced up my sneakers, bathed in a cloud of insect repellant, and joined. 

The hike was long and the further we went, the harder it got. We stopped to pray and share devotional at a few points along the journey. I feel like these stopping points marked the “Beginner”, “Medium”, and “Advanced” difficulty levels ( had this been a video game. 
Near the top I was breathing hard, face hot, and realizing just how horribly out of shape I am. But then… the top. Most of our group stopped at a point just under the waterfall where some of the water pools about knee deep. My body was on fire and I said “finally”. But as I looked up and saw the waterfall where a few continued up to, I thought “no… I’ve come too far to not feel the waterfall on my face”. 
I climbed higher where a few others had gone ahead and sat beneath the water fall. With the water rushing around my ears and face, drowning out any sounds of the world, I closed my eyes and prayed. I shut out the world and there in nature took a moment to be still and feel God. The beautiful moment will stay etched in my memory.  The rushing water cold on my face and sweet to the taste. The warm embrace of the Father as I focused on only him. Even if just for a moment, it was everything.  

On the way back down we all began to realize just how steep the trail  was at some points. Going back down was a whole differnt story than our ascent. I found myself staring down at my feet to ensure my safety. Then, I stopped and realized… look up. If I stay looking at my feet and worring about my safety so much I would miss the beauty of the mountain all around me. And also, if I stay only looking up, I could fall and risk injury.  
Balance. This journey taught me that balance is everything. This is something I  logically know and have been struggling yet working on in all areas. As someone with bipolar disorder… balance is foreign to me. And yet, in accomplishing this small journey, balance transcended my logical understanding and was something that I FELT. 
I praise God for this experience.  I praise him for the blessing of even the smallest moments. Seek first the kingdom of God, brothers and sisters. Seek God above all else. Climb your mountain to steal away a few small moments with Him. Taste the sweet water and marvel at his amazing creations all around you. Look up. Be safe. Find your balance. 

Seek the Lord above all else and everything will fall into place. He restores balance. 
Lord, thank your for our moments with you, big and small. Thank you for the mountains -literal and metephorical- in our lives and for strengthening us enough to conquer them. Spark in our hearts a desire to seek you above any and every thing in our lives. Let us seek you above money, materials, spouses, etc. We love and thank you. In Jesus name, amen. 
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Patience Is A Virtue

Patience… this may be one of my weakest areas. Seriously. Even when I buy people gifts I end up having to buy replacement gifts because I simply can’t wait for them to open it and I give it early. We live in such an instantaneous world. A microwave generation, I’ve heard it called. We want everything now, now, now. Think about it, a world of knowledge is right at my fingertips. With my phone I can search for almost any answer. With that same phone I can also order dinner, video chat, file a claim on my insurance… heck, you can even do your taxes via app now! 

How were the people of the bible so patient? How were they able to wait YEARS or even DECADES for God’s answers? Well, for one, they didn’t have cellphones. If they needed groceries they didn’t just hop down the block for a gallon of milk. They had to work and wait for EVERYTHING. Need something from the market? Better be ready for a two or three day walk, one way. Want milk for the house? Better get a bucket and go milk the cow. We are far more spoiled and have forgotten what it means to simply be still.  

I am impatient in almost every area, you can imagine when I went back on meds (catchup story below) and I got the “it can take up to a month” warning I freaked out a bit. I would love for God to send my future husband right this second. I would love for a lot of things to happen right this second. But timing is everything. The right time and right place are essential in His plan. God has said “not now” and “not yet” so often lately because he ‘s working on strengthening my weakest area. After all,  what kind of wife would I make if I don’t have any patience?   Whether your wait is for progress, medication effectiveness, your future spouse, or answers from God, let’s remember how to sit our behinds down and be patient. 

https://youtu.be/Eoi1fR3py9U #EndTheStigma video sermon on mental health as a Christ Follower. 
https://youtu.be/pwn7Y8L5usY #ChristianSingle video sermon about being a single Christ Follower. 

Lord, thank you for strengthening ourweakness. Empower us to be better. Give our hearts the desire to be the best we can be for you, for ourselves, and for our future spouse. Lord strengthen our motivation to do the work when it is hard. Deepen our patience and help us to be still when we need to. We thank you and we love you. Amen. 

Corazón DeSueños 

Know Your Truth

My “normal” is being redefined constantly. It has been about a month since I have started getting treatment for my Bipolar disorder which is about how long it takes for the medication to be in full effect. One thing I am getting used to is remembering to take my medication the same times everyday to avoid the splitting headache that accompanies missing a dose. Remembering the hopeless despair that I have felt at my low’s helps keep the importance of maintenance in perspective. I mean, you don’t only open the hood of your car when something is wrong, right? No, you change the oil preventatively; check the fluids preventatively.

This attitude is important to remember with our spirituality as well. When the proverbial “stuff” hits the fan, we pray harder than ever. We dive into our word. We call upon God. Why? Because He saves. He is our savior. He brings us hope when we can’t seem to find any. So, how about when things are going well? We should be praying JUST as hard when things are going great and spending just as much time in our relationship with our savior. Being someone who struggles with anything other than extremes, I admit this can be difficult for me.

In addition to extreme moods: my interest, my motivation, my diligence… it all fluctuates from one end of the spectrum to the other. This means that one day I will throw myself into my work and accomplish a weeks worth of work. However, another day, I will struggle to find the motivation to tackle even one task. My spiritual life, if I am not careful, can go from reading several books of the bible, writing a sermon, and spending hours in devotional to … a desert.

Maintenance is key. Whether it is spiritual, mental, physical, etc. Maintenance is key. Know your warning signs. How can you recognize that you are falling off of course? For me, I don’t typically see it until I am out of control in one or all areas. Until I get better at this I need to trust in those around me. Accountability partners are so important.

KNOW YOUR TRUTH.

Whatever that may be. My truth is that I need others to help me. My truth is that I am bipolar. My truth is that I am a single mother. My truth is that I am lonely. My truth is that I am a new pastor, insecure about my age in a leadership role. My truth is that I am still finding my way and still growing; there is still SO much that I haven’t learned yet. But knowing these truths does not limit me. On the contrary, acknowledging them helps me to grow and to be a better mother, friend, christian, pastor, family member, employee, etc. Humbleness will allow me to learn from others around me. I have had to ask those close to me to catch me when I fall out of balance and to call me on it when I don’t do what I need to. Relying on them and on God will bring me closer to being the woman of God that I am striving to be.

So… What is your truth and how are you going to grow from it?

Corazón DeSueños

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https://youtu.be/Eoi1fR3py9U #EndTheStigma video sermon on mental health as a Christ Follower. 
https://youtu.be/pwn7Y8L5usY #ChristianSingle video sermon about being a single Christ Follower.