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Monday, December 11, 2017

The Work Begins

Today ended on a very encouraging note.

I got up and made it to church.  I still felt serious and was not my usual bouncy self.  We didn't get there early enough to visit beforehand.  I fixed me a cup of coffee and then realized church was going to start in less than a minute.  (They have a countdown on the screen.)  I want to be there for all of worship, so I placed my full cup in a trash outside of the sanctuary and went on in.  Jake came on in when Daniel started.

I sat next to and talked brief to Erin, my expert knitter friend.  She was actually knitting a sock in service and I never noticed her doing it--she was that unobtrusive.  I talked to Aubrei about our lunch plans later in the week and then found Diane.  She wanted to go to City Central and have coffee and continue our conversation.

We sat there for about half an hour continuing our conversation from Friday evening.  I did want to go home and watch the Cowboys, was not in a very sociable mood, so that is about all I talked to.  I usually want to stay and visit, visit, visit, but not today.

We got home and only missed the first scoring drive and ate leftovers for lunch.  I was still quiet all day, but I finally told Jake about my appointment with Tom tomorrow.  (Yes, it's been about our marriage.)  By the end, I was much more hopeful.  You see, our issues stem from communication problems.  We grew up in homes where communication was dysfunctional in different ways.  We have had to work through a lot of passive aggressiveness and narcissistic-type relating.  (I'm saying "we," but the issues are not always similar and the same amount between the two of us.)

We have come a long, long way.  In the early days it was very abusive in subtle ways that I did not recognize.  It's taken quite a few years of very hard work to change behavior.  I have had to learn to recognize what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable, become much stronger, set boundaries, become more honest, let go of control, own up to my stuff and take responsibility.  Much of my year in Al-Anon was learning these skills and addressing these issues.  I really did not think we would make it that year.

I decided today to bring this more out in the open so that it might help someone one day.  I'm believing for an amazing testimony one day.

I was noticing warning signs in the last few months that it was time to face this and do more work.  I think it is customary for the wife to be the more proactive one to work on marriage issues, though that is not always the issue.  But it is here.  Just out of absolute misery and some pushing from God, I became much more proactive.  But then I go passive again in our marriage and remain so for quite a while.  Or maybe it is just time to take a break and "rest a while." 

I realized a couple of weeks ago that the binging is connected to this.  It is almost always (or another problem relationship, if there is one).  I also started shutting down emotionally.  We had a conversation on the day of our anniversary that left me feeling very discouraged.  But after tonight, I think the problem is more in learning to communicate the right way rather than heart issues. 

Well, I admit I deal with heart issues sometimes.  Marriage has just been a very difficult thing for two people who knew nothing about how to make a relationship work.  I have wanted to bail multiple times.  I was too timid and too much of a people pleaser.  It also lead me to become very resentful because there was nowhere for those emotions to go.  Jake just wanted what he wanted, and it's typically much easier for a man to think everything is just fine even if the house is burning down.  (Well, that is as long as he has his food, TV and sex.:/) 

It appears my quietness and hours of prayer met with success.  I had been praying for direction and the next step.  But Jake was ready to really talk tonight, and actually asked me specifically what the real issues were.  He says he is ready to go to work, too.  One boundary of mine is that it has to include someone else helping us.  We cannot do this by ourselves. 

So I am going to talk to Tom tomorrow and see about mapping out a plan.  I don't know what he will suggest.  Then either both of us can the next meeting or just Jake. 

Our biggest communication problems are spiritual ones.  I am believing that God will bring us to a place of spiritual oneness and we can serve God together.  By that, I don't mean that we always do ministry together, but that our hearts are open and together in purpose. 

I'm learning to take these things one day at a time.  I don't plan on mapping out a schedule to do homework everyday necessarily, but just the heart to stay at it.  I mostly want to see both of us become everything God wants us to become.  Secondly, that our marriage becomes what it was meant to become.

This journey has been long.  I have experienced long years of emotional shutdown, denial, depression, mixed in with some okay years.  Then came crises, some breakthroughs, returning to "peace," more crises, intensive pain and strength, journeys to hell and back, months of more peace.  I am actually peaceful now and so much stronger.  (I can only speak for myself.)  Only Diane and Tom know most of the details. 

I have been very hesitant to talk about it because when abuse is subtle, you think you are imagining things or going crazy or just having a bad attitude.  It's very deceptive and hard to know what is true and not true.  No one else ever sees it happening and many have a hard time believing you.

I have much hope and prayers for tomorrow.  The timing seems pretty perfect (I had to wait a week).

* * * * * * *
 
On a lighter note (or maybe just another note, lol):
 
I am hoping that maybe I can focus on weight loss really soon in spite of the holidays.  I think I pretty much communicated everything I needed to communicate tonight, and I felt like Jake really heard me.  That is quite an emotional release.  But I'm not going to push weight loss too hard unless I can see that I'm ready.  I go back to the doctor this week, and she may have a fit because I know I put on more weight the last three months.  But I will just be honest. 
 
I sort of believe that we all have areas in our lives where we return to our 3-year old emotional state.  That is usually when I feel like a three-year-old:  when I am overeating.  In fact I feel that immature in most of my eating habits, and I think I would like to mature in that regard.  So, time to grow up?  A good resolution for 2018.
 
* * * * * * *
 
The Appfolio was clicking more today!  I think I may get this thing learned.  Rick really appreciates it anyway.  I'm hoping after the next tax season, I can take on some more accounts.  I would take some before, like after the beginning of the year, if the accounts are not in horrible shape.  Actually, I would love to have one pretty large one--that would be ideal if the client is the right type.
 

Ooh, it's late.  I'm going to bed.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Some Quiet and Sober Days

I don't know how to describe Tuesday.  It was our anniversary, but sometimes the particular day is not the right day to try to celebrate your marriage.  Jake stayed home, and we were both in a "mood" in different ways. In the end, we sort of blew off the event.  I am one of those who hates to feel pressured by the calendar.  But we did have the cold weather, the fire, the Christmas decorations, and Rosa's for dinner, so that was nice. 

I ate too many calories, but it was because of celebration foods rather than the constant need to eat.  The night before, I tried to go to bed on an empty stomach; but as usual, it didn't work, and I got up at 4:15 and ate something.  Then I went to sleep.  Even if I go through most of the day without eating, it seems I have to eat before I go to bed. 

I finally talked to Bonnie.  It was nice catching up.  I'm itching for a crochet/knitting date. 

Jake helped me do a little more Christmas decorating.  It really looks festive around here.

Wednesday was a very enjoyable day.  I got up late, and it was our coldest day yet (in the 30s) with a drizzle all day.  We still have not had a freeze yet and don't expect one tonight, though it will get close. 

The flow went very well.  I did some dishes and housework first and started working on bookkeeping.  We kept the fire going all day.  When my brain got tired, I did a few more chores and added more touches to the decorating.  I also shopped online.  I have probably 70-80 percent of my shopping done with no sweat.  Goodness, I love Amazon Prime. 

I also bought me a folding electronics holder for my purse to see if it will help me keep my purse organized and have pens and such handy.  I think I also need another one, this one bigger.  I will look for a cosmetic type one.  Then I can transfer these two organizers to each purse when I change it over.  We'll see how it works. 

Eating went well.  I went as long as I could without eating (about 4:30), ate a bowl of Raisin Bran, then made a homemade chicken pot pie for dinner.  It is definitely not lo-cal, and I ate a decent sized serving.  I had a snack before I went to bed.

I notice I do well when I can forget about food for hours at a time.

I ordered me a camera for my Christmas present.  (Yes, I do that sometimes.)  It's a Canon Rebel, several years old and used, a starter camera so I can learn some Photography 101. 

Saturday

I never posted the above, so I'll just pick up here.  Thursday was a sober (but not depressed) day for me.  I was in a lot of prayer and also trying to work on my bookkeeping.  I met Rick at his office to work on kinks in the bookkeeping, and I ended up having a counseling session with him.  He happens to be an elder at our church.  I've mentioned before that he treats me like a daughter, calls me Gingersnap, Kiddo and even Sweetie.  He was very comforting and prayed with me. 

It was the same on Friday.  Bonnie and I met Diane at Brew Street about 4:00, and it immediately cheered me up.  Diane could only stay about an hour and a half, but Bonnie and I stayed until almost 10.  I love those two so much.

Eating the last three days--not horrible but not really good either. 

Appfolio is slowly becoming more understandable.  From what I hear, almost no one has an easy time with it except the support team.  It's actually awesome.  Now how can I get to know it that well?  I'm determined anyway.  It's a good thing I love numbers and balancing and having everything come out square.

Today was a very quiet day, warmer than the rest of the week.  Jake was in and out.  I did bookkeeping and we watched a lot of Longmire. 

As far as my prayers and sober mood, I am facing some issues that have picked back up from several years ago (which was a horrible year).  But it's very different this time.  I am so much stronger than I was emotionally and spiritually.  God has brought me so far, and He will continue to do so.  I have no idea what I will be choosing as I feel led by the Spirit to do in the near future, but I have faith.  I don't feel desparate or hopeless.  But I feel serious and determined for my life not to fall back in the patterns it did in the past. 

This sounds very mysterious.  Hardly anyone reads my blog yet, and it is mostly a journal for me.  But I don't want to say too much, just enough that I am truly journaling my journey.  Maybe more details in the near future--we'll see. 

One big thing I'm seeking to learn is to discern clearly what is going on spiritually and relationally.  I've seen a tendency in me to become stronger and take bold actions; but then, I feel pressured to become "sweet" again and avoid conflict.  I'm realizing I cannot be afraid of the strong side of me.  It is critical that when I am strong, I am kind and "loving," but at times I may have to appear unkind and unloving to set the boundaries I need to set.  I'm seeing that I have submerged some issues and emotions for the sake of peace and enjoyment, and they are trying to erupt again.  Fortunately, I noticed what I was doing recently.  And after a lot of prayer, I am feeling that it's nice for some strength again.  Gladly, I am learning to be strong without screaming  and becoming hysterical. 

* * * * *
Well, this is a thrown-together post.  I just washed my hair and church is in the morning.  Looking forward to that and determined to get myself up and there. 

Until next time.  God loves us!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Do the Next Right Thing

I had a peaceful and enjoyable day today.  I woke up thinking I had left the back door open and how much my house needed cleaning.  I was feeling sort of negligent and felt motivated to get some housework done.

So I immediately tackled the dishes and ran the dust mop over the floor, plus did lots of tidying.  Christmas decorating leaves so much mess!  I also did a load of laundry, tackled my bedroom, started a pot of bean soup and stewed some chicken for chicken pot pie.  Yes, I was very domestic today.:)

Then I went to work on the last Christmas tree.  It's our rescued dumpster tree.  It's actually missing the very top which gives it an odd look, so I've had to make a big tree topper to balance it out.  I'm decorating this tree to go with the Sophie's Universe afghan I crocheted, which has lots of teals and purples.  I happen to have lots of ornaments in those colors.  I finished the tree and moved the desk back to my bedroom because it blocks the view.  It's looking better in here.

I also started a subscription to Google Play and made a very long playlist.  My first choice is contemporary worship music.  So I had the worship music going along with decorating and lit my scented wax warmer with some holiday type scent.  Nice!
Cold weather is coming tonight, which I love!  Also, our anniversary is tomorrow (36 years).  We have our firewood all piled up outside, so we will have a cozy evening to enjoy the Christmas décor and a crackling fire.  I'm sure we will order in. 

I was testing my appetite today.  I decided to see how long I could go without eating.  I lasted easily until suppertime.  That was encouraging.  Maybe the clonazepam is not the problem.  I'm working through whatever emotional backlog may be causing me to eat.  I think I will do some separate journaling about that (just for me).  I also set up another counseling appointment. 

That last paragraph sounds sort of clinical to me.  I'm not having any huge upheavals, just longtime issues that keep cropping up for more work.  I've learned to become calm about it, and I'm sure the Prozac helps with that. 

But I really enjoyed the whole day.  When I am nesting and seeing about my home, many times it gives me such a sense of well being, especially when I'm decorating.   
My accountant friend called me this evening to check in, and my young mentee friend texted, wanting to meet for lunch.  After Jake came in, we started over on the Longmire series.  I wonder what my Bonnie is doing?  I haven't talked to her in about two weeks.
 
Spiritually, I feel the need to heighten my spiritual warfare, both for this relationship and also the nation.  I also am working to "stay awake" and be conscience of God's presence.  I think sometimes I am conscious and talking to God without even thinking about it, and other times, I have to remind myself.  It's a wonderful spiritual discipline.
 
One thing I liked about the day was that I flowed very well, going from task to task.  I remember when I was going to Al-Anon, we talked constantly about "doing the next right thing."  Just a good way to live.  The right thing is whatever I feel the Spirit leading me to do, but it also seems that God gives me a lot of authority to choose that thing.  Many times, the right thing turns out to be whatever is nagging at me and begging to be done or whatever puts me on the next step of my journey.  But I definitely caught the housework wave today!
 
Hopeful for a wonderful day tomorrow.  Be blessed!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Catch That Wave!

I know I haven't written in awhile; it's kind of hard to put my life into words these days.  This year is moving and growing, but it's much different than last year.  Then, I had pulled in more toward home and self care; this year, I am much less structured with a different focus. 

I think that one thing God is doing this year is teaching me to live more intuitively and naturally, learning to walk in His Spirit instead of trying to structure my days so much.  I have my new planner, which I use sporadically, and I still love and recommend lists.  But my seasons of growth change and they never look the same.

Housework, cooking, laundry, ironing, is very lackadaisical right now, and I'm okay with that.  I have felt led to surrender too high of expectations on those areas since I have so much else on my plate.  Jake and I are actually doing these chores equally--just whoever feels the leading or need.  Meals are not really being planned; one of us will put something together for dinner, pick something up, or we just eat cereal.  We still rarely eat out or bring in.  Jake is still doing the grocery shopping, bless his heart!
 
One of my new rules of living is:  catch that wave.  It's part of learning to walk in the Spirit and from the heart.  I am learning to be like a surfer; go out in the deep and wait for a wave.  When that wave comes, grab it and ride!  Right now, the waves are related to intimacy with God, decorating, marriage, mentoring, bookkeeping.  I'm getting a little better not getting too distracted although it seems to take me much longer to get a lot of the actual tasks accomplished.  Hopefully, I will catch an organization wave soon!  I probably will need to since we will have company this month.

On a negative note, I am still battling eating. I was wrong in thinking that I was not stuffing some emotions with food.  I have a relational dynamic in my life that is always there (too personal to go into a lot of detail).  It has improved in miraculous ways, but still a major thing (the main thing)?) remains unchanged.  I realize that it cannot help but affect me in a big way.  I learn to be grateful and proactive in spite of it; but I've been in the habit much of my life of returning to denial and thinking it is finished.  Still much work to be done. 

So I am in a lot of prayer about that thing--seeking, praying, listening for the next step God asks me to take. 

But it's encouraging to see how much I have grown.  I don't get hopeless and I am learning to trust that God is actively working.  I sense God is speaking to me not to fear the "strong" side of me.  Sometimes, when I act from a side of strength, I feel rather guilty, thinking I need to be more "loving."  But love is not always "sweet." 

I'm also am praying that I can be silent when I need to be silent and speak when I need to speak. 

I had a long talk with someone about it the other day.  I felt a new release and persistence and a new perspective.

I've also decided to let up on my impatience to lose weight.  I get on these self-led agendas sometimes, and then I can end up sabotaging myself.  I'm so good at putting pressure on myself.  It's time to quit being all or nothing and have some sanity about food. 

I've thought about this quite a bit in the last few weeks.  I still belong to Weight Watchers.  Karen, my leader, still texts me to see how I am doing when she doesn't see me, and I've been pretty honest about my struggle.  I hope to continue to go to meetings because I love the group. 

I read a blog written by Katie who practices some very wise habits to maintain her weight loss.  She has successfully kept off her weight (with some ups and downs) for over seven years.  She is now learning to maintain in a very natural way, finding those things that personally keep her on track.  She lives by rules that she can practice for a lifetime.  She eats what she really wants to eat, just smaller portions.  It makes me want to find those unique ways for my lifestyle.

I also realize that I don't eat from my "center".  So what do I mean by that?  I should be living in every area from the heart because I feel it is God's will and those same values are within me.  I haven't found a lot of those values in my eating yet.  Ego and vanity become too much of a reason to diet.  I also hate too many rules and value "freedom."

I may have a lot to delve into about why I eat in the future. 

* * * * * * *
 
I'm loving our mentor group.  It's small and intimate and we are growing close.  Women's ministry is definitely my passion.  The first two weeks, we all shared our stories.  Not a one seemed to hold back and were so open and transparent.  I taught the first teaching session, which was on intimacy with God.  When I was preparing (I taught from our curriculum, but also included points that I learned this past couple of years).  Teaching is becoming easier for me.  I was not nervous at all this time.  I'm finding that the teaching gift runs strong in our family, including me.  Just don't give me a classroom of unruly kids.  Now that would terrify me!
 
 
* * * * * *
 
This morning, Jake stayed in City Central like he routinely does, and I went to second service.  Today I sat up close next to a very young wife and mom (younger than any of my kids), who was there alone.  We become great friends by the end of church, and I asked her if I could pray with her.  She has some very difficult circumstances and no close support system.  Before I knew it, I asked her if she was wanting a mentor.  She lit up, saying she would love one.  A part of me was questioning if I jumped in too quickly, but I think it's how we grow God's kingdom.  I have had several prophecies concerning being a spiritual mom, and God is opening so many doors.  I'll just see where God takes me down this road.
 
My other young friend and I are beginning to meet again, too.  I love being around younger women. 
 
* * * * * * *
 
I've been in the midst of Christmas decorating.  I actually started two or three weeks ago.  Hopefully, I'll get it finished this week, and I can get the front part looking pretty.  I do not know how to decorate without making a huge mess, and there are still lots of items piled up.  I actually have five trees of a sort--our main tree, our dumpster tree we rescued last year, a three foot tree, a tiny tree on the bar, and a tree out of lights strung on a huge metal grate in the hall. 
 
I'm also knitting Christmas stockings.  These are very different from the ones I did last year.  I'm learned to do Fair Isle knitting, which consists of two or more colors knit in patterns.  (Pictures coming later)
 
* * * * * * *
 
What am I reading right now?  A lot!  Here's a current list.
  • Spurgeon's Sorrows.  I bought this book because I recently learned that Spurgeon suffered terribly with anxiety and depression.  It's a very comforting book.
  • Bookkeeping for Dummies.  Still learning as much as I can and filling in holes.
  • Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  It's been a wonderful book, helping to train in walking with Jesus daily.  A very simple but profound book.  She has other books, and I intend to get them, too.
  • Present Perfect.  Jason's bunch and pastor are reading this book.  It is a new book in the spirit of the classic book Practicing the Presence of God.  He is passionate about teaching others to walking in the awareness of God's presence minute by minute.  Main quote from the book:  Are you awake?
  • In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh.  Sheila has suffered with mental illness and suicidal thoughts her entire life.  This book tells her story and teaches others how to live in the middle of our messy lives.
  • Understanding the Heart of a Man by Ken Nair.  This is an old book, very different from "typical" marriage books.
  • Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere.  This book gets women in touch with their "lioness" inside, the power that God gives to women and the changes in the world when Christian women unite.
  • Drawing Near by John Bevere.  Another book on intimacy with God.
  • The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.  She is another author like Sheila Walsh who struggles with anxiety and depression. 
  • Connecting by Larry Crabb.  He is a Christian psychologist and therapist who has learned that true connection with each other heals many emotional illnesses.  Our greatest problem is isolation and a lack of connection.
  • The Silent Cry of Christian Women by Dee Brown, a book on passive aggression in marriage. 
Will I finish all of these books?  I'm trying to, and I have quite a few others I would like to read.  This list definitely gives clues as to what is on my mind these days.  My moods are mostly positive, though. 
 
I still do a lot of fun reading, mostly blogs these days.
 
* * * * * * *
 
I'm still liking the clonazepam. (Hopefully, it's not making me want to eat.  I just checked.  Increased appetite is a known side effect.  Hmmm.)  I've definitely been sleeping better, though it's still so hard to make myself go to bed and get up at a decent hour.  I've slacked off of the Adderall, experimenting.  It seems like it causes too much of a crash after it wears off.  I've thought about trying small doses spaced out, but I haven't tried it yet.  
 
* * * * * * *
 
A weird side note:  I have become a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, my former, most hated pro football team and arch rival of the Dallas Cowboys.  And yes, I am still a lifetime fan of the Cowboys.  Yes, I'm weird.  And just as I decide to become a fan, they lose to night.😖
 
* * * * * * *
 
I am on break from any scheduled meetings until the new year.  So far, I am not having a problem with staying in connection.  It seems like everyday, I see someone or have a long conversation on the phone.  Getting to church is still the hardest thing for me to accomplish, just because of the time.  I actually stayed up late, late last night and snoozed on the couch to be sure I would not miss.  I didn't trust myself to go to bed and be able to get up.  So glad I made it. 
 
* * * * * *
 

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving down in the Hill Country.  We spent the first two and a half days at Jason's house.  Their pastor and family were there again--they have become part of the family now, and I love it.  One night, Jason, Crystal and I sat up late talking.  I'm loving the growing closeness I am feeling with them. 
 
Then Jared and his little family came home, and we spent two days with them.  Our little Cole is getting big (eight months old now) and so fun. 
 
Everyone is coming here on Christmas Day.  I have a lot to do to get ready.
 
I have done maybe half of my shopping online and hopefully can do at least 80 percent that way.  Amazon looks like they are taking over the world, but I sure do love Amazon Prime, ha-ha!
 
I guess this catches me up for the current time.  Until next time.

 

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Beginning of Life Change (Continued)

As I was writing my last post about the kittens and cats, I realized it tied into the beginning of the life change that God began about 11 years ago (in 2006). (Read this post and the one immediately afterward.)  The gist of it was that God was calling me into relationship, and I was terrified.

For memory's sake: 

1)  Life is about relationship.

Here is another one of my "must dos".  If we want to truly live, one of abundance:

2)  We must be willing to open ourselves up totally, to God and to ourselves. 

I loved to sweep things under the rug.  I could just get stuck, numb myself, push everything to the back of my mind.  Like Whack-a-Mole. 

Have you ever played Whack-a-Mole?  It's a kids' game where these toy heads pop up, and you bop each one with a mallet.  They drop back down until another one pops up, and you bop it.  Before you know it, they are popping up so fast, you cannot keep up, and then it's game over.

I was always a big believer in forgiveness.  I knew it was absolutely necessary for me to forgive.  But my version was like that silly kids' game.  I never really dealt with what was going on.  I would just "forgive" and push it back down, but nothing was ever really resolved. 

And I was terrified to go too deep into my own life and my own shortcomings.  I had this awful feeling that one day, something horrific was going to be exposed, and I would be absolutely devastated, knowing that everything wrong in the universe was my fault. 

That's actually pretty arrogant, isn't it?  We make ourselves so powerful and so big. 

Recently, I discovered a wonderful truth: that when we are willing to see what is inside of us, and we get to the very bottom, do you know what we find? 

We find Jesus.

He was there all along.  (Psalm 139)  He has walked with us every step of the way, knew every word we would speak, every action and sin we would commit, and was there to turn it into something wonderful. 

It's wonderful to know that with grace, all of our sins are forgiven, past, present, and future.  That is what the cross does.  But He does tell us to confess our sins--and to confess them one to another.  He knows that we need that self-honesty, to know that we are all broken, messed-up beings in our flesh.  Otherwise, we become proud and arrogant, or clueless, or stay broken.  And we keep playing Whack-A-Mole.  And relationships with others suffer tremendously when we don't look within and see our part.  We don't do it to be morose or be a navel-gazer.  We do it to be healed and reconciled to God and others.

* * * * * * * *
 
I don't remember a lot of specifics when I first started opening up.  I know that God was beginning to start a total rehab on our 25-year marriage.  And it was only months before Megan's death.  But the process had begun and I was in for the ride of my life!
 
Somehow, I think that is a big part of what surrender is.  It's like willing being wheeled into God's divine operating room and entrusting Him as our Great Physician and Surgeon.
 
Can you trust Him?
 
 
 
 


The Cats are Back!

Today began in a strange way.  I slept in very, very late.  And I had one of those dreams that stay with you and cause you to pray for wisdom to understand the meaning of it.  I really want to talk to someone who has a gift of understanding dreams.  But I know that God will show me more as I pray about it. 

Sometime around 2010, I had my first "cat" dream.  It has turned into quite a series.  In my first dream, I was in the house where I lived from the age of 12 until I graduated from high school.  I walked into the living room.  In the center of the room was a square chest, the size of a side table, with several small drawers that opened on each side.  I opened one drawer and was a bit aghast and repulsed by the sight of some tiny preemie kittens that were mewing pitifully.  I mean the kind that is so premature that it has absolutely no beauty yet.  Somehow, I knew that all of the drawers were full of these kittens, desperately crying for help.

At that state in my life, I reacted with distaste and a sort of terror.  I quickly shut the door and left.  I was hoping that the next time anyone checked, the kittens would be dead.  I'm not proud of that dream, but it sort of shook me up and left me wondering.

I had the dream a second time.  This time, there was one kitten, more developed than the others, that was a beautiful blue color.  I remember it looking right at me, crying.  I was shaken that all of the kittens were still alive.  As before, I shut the drawers and ran.

I knew the dream had great spiritual meaning and I wanted to know the meaning. At first I thought the kittens were needy people who God wanted me to love, and I was repulsed rather than filled with compassion.  I was only partly right.  One morning, when I was putting on my makeup in my bathroom, God spoke to me that those kittens were me.  I remember just sinking down on the edge of the tub and weeping with emotion and how much God was reaching out to heal me.

I knew, and have always known, that there were parts in me that had never really come to life, that I even found repulsive.  Those parts of me seemed to be at death's door, and I was too terrified to open up enough to nurture those parts and let Jesus love me to life.  I seemed to think that if I avoided facing the inside of me, those parts would just die and go away. 

I was soon to go through about five years that at times seemed like a journey to hell and back. 

I have had several cat dreams since them.  The cats (and my inner self) have grown and thrived.  When I woke up this morning I was disturbed by all of these cats, but in a different way.  This dream and the last dream were full of cats of every size in seeming total chaos.  They are all very healthy, though.  Cats are everywhere, rowdy, out of control, and too many to handle.  Like a bunch of kitties with ADHD, ha-ha!! 

In both dreams, I am distraught and trying to get control of all of these felines.  Maybe, that is the message: to let go of control in my life and trust God with all of my seeming craziness at times.  I still find myself getting impatient and dissatisfied with myself from time to time.  I usually catch myself and remember to find my patience again and have compassion and understanding.  I was sort of feeling when I woke up that God was getting tired of the inconsistencies in my life and it was high time to get it together.  But as I think back, it was more my reaction, and the reaction of others, that was noticeable in the dream. 

I am sure I will be delighted by the wisdom that God gives me about these dreams.:)

Loved into Glory

I have lived in a rehab world my whole married life.  It's very normal, and I usually don't mind it at all.  I love the prospect of a new project, a useful upgrade, or something that makes our home more beautiful. 

In a deeper way, rehabbing always speaks to my spiritual life.  I am inspired and encouraged in my relationship with God when I watch Jake transform a home or a room to something new.

I'm grateful I have fairly simple needs in a domicile; just a few things are necessary.  In any case, I do live in luxury compared to most in the world, and I should never complain.  My biggest needs are privacy, connection to the outside world, and a way to sleep soundly, being a chronic insomniac.  So moving in this smelly, unfinished house didn't bother me.

God is like that with us.  When we asked Him in, He moved right in, dirt and all.  Because of the cross, no human body is too dirty for him to dwell in as long as we receive Him by faith because we are washed by His blood.  It's such a paradox:  We are perfectly cleansed and are righteous in His sight, yet we still have many sinful habits and thought patterns.  He passionately comes in, longing to be totally intimate with us in all of our brokenness and sin.  He has no boundaries from His side in his ability to come close. We are His child, and when we have a bad day, fall again into a sinful behavior, or just become busy and distracted, he doesn't flinch with disgust but stays close.

He already knows every thought, word and deed we will ever do and still chooses to dwell in us.  I'm sure He grieves at times when we shut Him out, go our own way, make horrible decisions, fail to trust Him.

When we moved into this house, we could see the potential and the glory it could one day be.  We saw the good bones and the high ceilings.  We loved it in spite of the dirt and disrepair.  We were excited to transform it.  Can you imagine if we hated it until it improved? That would have been hopeless and pointless.  Only our love could bring about the changes--our work and care.

God's love is what brings us to beauty.  He doesn't isolate Himself until we get our act together.  That is because we only change by His love, his nurture, and yes, His discipline.  But that discipline is never punishment; it only makes us better.

So the journey began to "love" our house into a beautiful abode.  It's a long process and takes great patience and diligence.  We have been in this house close to three years now and it looks nothing like it did when we moved in.  (Well, a few places do.)  And we are nothing like we were when Jesus first came to make His home in his, or at least, I hope we are not.  Lack of change is totally on our lack of willingness. 

So let's open up and let God love us with all of His being and make us into the glorious creatures He has destined us for!