The Cedar Post Queen

Thoughts From the Journey Between Selfishness and Significance

Sacrificing My Precious Time

Time-that elusive thing that makes us feel as though we have plenty of it and then slips right through our fingers. Time-one of the most calculated, monitored, and powerful resources that gives us the same number of seconds each day but then suddenly runs out with almost no warning. Today’s entry in Jesus Calling (May 30), says “Time with Me cannot be rushed….Push back the demands pressing in on you; create a safe space around you, a haven in which you can rest with Me. I also desire this time of focused attention and I used it to bless you, strengthening and equipping you for the day ahead. Thus, spending time with Me is a wise investment…”

I personally have a love/hate relationship with time. As a wife, mom, and business owner, I find myself very hard-pressed to find the time to do almost anything. Most of my time is spent changing diapers, answering phone calls, and attempting to get a few items checked off on my endless to-do list. There never seems to be any spare time in the day to take care of myself (exercise, cook healthy food, etc) much less any time to take care of myself spiritually. There are many days I find myself asking, Okay Lord, how exactly am I supposed to do this? I’ve tried pushing back the demands of a screaming toddler, turning the ringer off on my phone and hiding my to-do list, but the safe space doesn’t seem to show up. I’m still wondering what my child is getting into or what makes her come to my door and scream like a scary monster has come out from under her bed (it’s usually that she changed the channel on the TV and she can’t see Moana) or how many business calls I’m missing that could have meant money for me to pay my bills and put food on the table, and I actually have my to-do list memorized, so even though I can’t see it physically, it’s still there. Yes I know that was an extreme run-on sentence, but that’s how it feels in my mind: a never ending train wreck of things needing my attention. So, how do I make more time for the Lord? Yes, I know the usual responses: get up earlier, watch less TV, stay off of Facebook, etc. and yes those are things I could do, but I don’t get enough sleep as it is, and the TV and Facebook don’t require me to work mentally (which sometimes it feels like I have to do in my time with the Lord). What if even when I do sacrifice my sleep and screen time, I don’t feel strengthened or equipped for the day ahead? Am I doing the wrong thing in my time with the Lord, or am I putting too much pressure on myself?

I’ve discovered that the answer is neither. The answer for me is actually that I have forgotten who God is and what that time with Him is supposed to be for. God for a long time was an item on my to-do list-a mandatory time constraint that I often rushed through to get on to the other things in my life. I have a bad habit of compartmentalizing God-I know that the Bible says He’s always with Me, but I tend to treat Him as though He is only present when I open my Bible. I believe God would rather have me ask Him for help in dealing with my screaming toddler, the right words to say when answering the phone, and guidance on sorting my to-do-list by importance level than he would enjoy hiding in my closet with me as I fall asleep with my Bible for a pillow. The focusing of my attention should not be so much a “forget everything else in the world and only look at me” thing (maybe I can do this more when my kids are older), but a “focus your attention on the fact that I’m right here with you, and we are going to walk through this chaos together” kind of thing. Acknowledgment. Believing He is with me, without Physically seeing Him. Saying thank-you when something good actually happens. These can be a sacrifice of precious time as well….let me know your thoughts on this and what you’ve done to make your time with God work for you!

Would I have done what Mary did? I don’t think so….

As I’m reading through  Luke Chapter 1, my study Bible (Tyndale Life Application Study Bible, not giving the translation-don’t want to start a denominational war here), says in reference to verse 38: “A young unmarried girl who became pregnant risked disaster. Unless the father of the child agreed to marry her, she would probably remain unmarried for life. If her own father rejected her, she could be forced into begging or prostitution in order to earn her living. And Mary, with her story about becoming pregnant by the Holy Spirit, risked being considered crazy as well. Still Mary said, despite the possible risks, “May everything you have said about me come true.”

I had to ask myself the question: Would I have done what Mary did? Would I have been willing to risk it all to follow God’s will? If I’m honest, I think I would have to say no. Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to. I think what Mary did was the bravest and coolest decision and I’m very grateful to her and would tell her so if I wasn’t Baptist (we aren’t allowed to talk to her). I just don’t know if my faith would have been great enough to enable me to say yes. Would I have thought I was going nuts if an angel “appeared” to me, or would I have thought someone was playing a practical joke (or I’d had too much to drink)? And even if I did believe it was really an angel from the Lord, would I have really believed that I could get pregnant without a man? Would I have even wanted to get pregnant without a man (I’ve been pregnant before and the “with the man” phase seems to be the only fun part). Would I have really believed that it was God’s decision to use me for such an important job? I doubt it.  Even if I was good with the pregnancy part, I KNOW I would have had a very hard time with the “what will people think” part. I can’t stand it when someone doesn’t believe me or says mean things about me. I can’t even begin to imagine what Mary must have gone through when attempting to convince her world that she was the first (and only I might add) woman to ever conceive without having sex.  That she really was still a virgin. Can you imagine telling your fiance that you hadn’t cheated on him even though you were pregnant and he should take your word for it because it was God that did it? I have a hard time saying “God Bless You” to people, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to speak a truth that would convince everyone else I belonged in a mental institution.

I wish I had Mary’s kind of faith. I wish I was willing to go against the grain and give up my whole world for the glory of His Kingdom. I would ask the Lord to help increase my faith, but I’m terrified of the trials and “lessons” that might come about to achieve it. Can you relate? Share your story with me in the comments below.

 

My First Annual Rant About Pearl Harbor Day

Today is Pearl Harbor day. I’ve been there before. I’ve seen the memorial. I’ve stood over it as those eerie drops of oil trickled to the surface up from the USS Arizona. It had been 64 years since the ship and its sailors were enshrined beneath the harbor waters and yet it still trickled to the top. It’s now been 76 years, I wonder if it still does? Or has it forgotten to, like so many of us seem to have forgotten to remember the pain and suffering this day represents? Has the growing length of time between our history and our present lulled us to sleep and deadened our hearts to the fire that used to burn within our nation’s heart? To the fierce patriotism that made every family sacrifice for the greater good, and hold their tongues out of respect for the position of their president even if they didn’t respect his personhood? We’ve lost that fire and that respect. We are too busy hiding behind our keyboards (alas the irony-I’m typing this from mine) ripping apart anyone who dares to have an opinion that differs from our own.

Am I writing this to defend our president? No. I know the man is flawed-just as all of the men before him were and the men/women who come after will be. This isn’t about him or anyone else formerly or presently in office. This is about those young men whose bodies are forever interred with their ships. Those young men (and young women) on shore who died that day. Who willingly and without a second thought gave their lives so our country and its people could continue to live in freedom. I wonder if they had known then what we would be now, would they have still sacrificed for us? I wonder if they could feel the hate (and against our own fellow countrymen no less) would they still want to save us? Or would they change their minds and decide to be just as selfish as we have become? Would they say it’s their right to do with their lives as they please and to hell with future generations or the future of this country? I don’t think so. I think that regardless of how cruel and unloving we are toward each other now, they would still choose to love us then. Even if we forgot to appreciate it almost a century later. Reminds me of another great hero who hung from a cross millenniums ago. I’d be willing to bet that the real reason so many of those men (and women, P.C. police) were willing to sacrifice their lives were not in fact because of their love for us, but for their love and gratitude to Him. Because they were grateful for the wonderful and powerful country HE had given them and they wanted to protect it. They wanted to preserve what their ancestors had fought so hard to obtain (through the grace of God I might add) almost 200 years before. I hope we can begin to do the same.

And it starts with our very own words. Do we have to always like each other? No. Do we have to agree with each other’s lifestyle choices? Absolutely not. But there should still be a sense of loyalty and commitment deep within our hearts somewhere. We may not share anything in common except one thing: our country. It belongs to you just as much as it does me. As Americans that alone should unite us enough to stop the disrespect and disregard for each other and realize that there are enough countries/peoples in the world who hate us, we don’t need to be hating ourselves. That’s right, people. When you hate a fellow American, you hate a part of yourself. We need to grow up and realize that not every grievance is worth starting a Twitter war over. That Facebook isn’t our personal diary. That a person is not an enemy just because they don’t agree with us. We have far worse enemies out there who don’t want to live in peace with us-they want to destroy us. Who do you think a sailor on the USS Arizona considered his enemy? His fellow sailor who had the same flag on his uniform even though he had a different background/view on life, or the dude in the plane  dropping bombs? I bet when the sirens sounded, it didn’t matter if their faiths or political affiliations differed, they worked together to protect the only thing that mattered: their flag and their country. Put that in your soda and sip it. I sure need to. I’m just as guilty of being hateful to my fellow man as any one of you.

But, not today. Today I’m going to realize who the real enemy is: the author of confusion himself (all uncapped of course, he doesn’t deserve capitalization). The true enemy of my soul whose hatred goes way beyond my country to that of my very soul. He’s gotten us so caught up in fighting with one another that we’ve forgotten we should be fighting him. Don’t believe in all of that Jesus and the devil jazz? Well, ok. It’s your right to choose what you believe.  But today, I choose to believe that you as my fellow American are worth fighting for. That your life is just as valuable as mine even if you don’t believe the same as me. That’s how I choose to honor the sacrifice of those who died on this day so many years before. I won’t hate you just because you are different. I won’t hate you just because you don’t believe in my God. How will you ever believe He loves you if the people who represent Him (i.e. me) don’t? I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear, just to make you happy. I’m not going to tell you that your choices or views are correct and mine are wrong just to make you like me. I won’t apologize for being me. I’ve done the research. I’ve sought the Truth and I’ve found Him. If you can say the same thing regarding your beliefs (or lack thereof) then I respect your decision. But if you haven’t done your research and you are only following after the status quo (even on the Christian side of things) because that’s how your family has always done it (or because you just want to pick a side that’s the opposite of how your family has always done it) then that’s not good enough. Ignorance isn’t a worthy companion. Conviction and love for others is. If you don’t have some, get some. Rant over. Peace Out.

Blame Ain’t Got No Game

…Another barrier to close fellowship with God is blame. “Find a scapegoat!” says blame. Looking for a way to escape pain, blame goes for the closest target. The problem is, whether you blame others or yourself, blame cannot change your situation. It cannot reverse your circumstances; it cannot correct anything. It simpl

y is a waste of time and emotional energy. Blame promises power to right a wrong, but it cannot deliver on its promise….Conquering Eating Disorders Step 2, Lesson 2.

For a long time, blame has been my frenemy. I use the excuse that “in order to fix the problem I have to know the source” as my reason for wanting to place blame on a person, place, or thing. In reality, blame is just an excuse for me to never take action. If it’s someone else’s fault, then I don’t need to do anything or change anything. Blame makes it seem as though I can’t do anything until someone else takes action. Blame is really crappy in that it also makes me feel hopeless-if I can’t do anything until someone else changes, then I may never be able to do anything and the situation may never change. That’s not a good place to be and it’s also a big line of BS. I can do something. I can stop blaming other people (or myself even) and take one day at a time. Take that one day at a time and do something productive. I don’t have to fix all of my problems that day, but I can focus on the one step toward the one change that makes the one part of my life better. Blame doesn’t want me to do any of those one things.  It wants me to stay trapped in my mess and dysfunction. Sorry blame. I’m about to forget I ever knew your name….cpq.

 

We are missing the point! Why being “successful” has the wrong definition.

As I was reading the note on Luke 3:2 in my study bible (NLT, Life Application), I immediately felt the pain of many instances when I’ve been misunderstood, overlooked, or dismissed because I don’t always fit the profile of what a “successful” person looks like. In my world, you must live in a big house in a gated subdivision and drive a foreign car; be in a profession that requires thirty nine and a half initials and designations behind your name to qualify for it, be killing it in some hobby like triathlon, and always dressed up decked out in the latest, newest fashions to be considered successful. This currently isn’t me. Yes, I am in the process of becoming a Certified Public Accountant (I don’t only sell Cedar Posts and Firewood for a living), but I am still seen as a “less than” many times because my husband and I do sell Cedar Posts and Firewood for a living. We don’t have the nicest house on the street, but we do have a property that produces income on its own and is in one of the fastest growing areas in the country.  We had the choice of buying a nice house or taking the same amount of money and buying an investment property. We might look poor and dumb, but I promise you, we aren’t. I don’t “have to” do this job-I chose to. Why in the world would I as a woman want to sell cedar posts and firewood instead of use two of my degrees and teach high school? Why?? Well, two reasons. #1-because cedar posts and firewood aren’t disrespectful and #2 because I can make more money in a week than I would in a month teaching school. But that’s not even the real point of this blog post. As my Study Bible says, “How often do people judge others by the superficial standards of power, wealth, and beauty, and miss the truly great people through whom God works! Greatness is measured not by what you have but by your faith in God.” Most of the time, our definition of success is wrong. Mine certainly has been. I have been actively seeking God’s will for my life for a decade now but that hasn’t stopped me from devaluing my own self based on the first definition of success above. It’s hard to be OK with people looking down on you for what they perceive you to be and not for what you truly are. It’s hard not to want to hand them a copy of my degrees and income statements and be like “stop thinking you’re better than me!” It’s hard. It’s also hard to change my own perception and to focus on the truth of God’s Word rather than the world around me. It’s hard, but I’m tired of judging myself based on the wrong definition of success. I can’t stop other people from doing it, but I can change me. Even if no one else ever thinks I’m successful, I have to know and believe that I am. Successful because I have a relationship with Jesus and I’m trying to make it the center of my life. Successful because I know God has a plan for Me and I’m pursuing it. Successful because at the end of it all, no matter my profession or income status, I’m going to Heaven. Successful because I’m a Child of God. C.O.G. Baby. That’s the title we all need to be striving for.

It hasn’t happened according to plan, but it’s still good….why I’m glad I got divorced….and remarried.

I’m no expert on marriage or divorce, but I do have experience in both. While it’s true that Christians never expect to wind up with a broken home, we find ourselves in the middle of one all too often. My home was no exception. My husband and I had 2 children and 8 years worth of grievances with each other, not to mention serious childhood baggage. We didn’t know how to handle all of it. Even though we had both been Christians for decades, Faith in Jesus was not the foundation of our relationship, nor our individual lives either. When our problems got to be too much, we had a decision to make. I wanted to go to counseling, he wanted to go file for divorce. While my option generally requires both to participate, his did not. He filed for divorce and proceeded to move on with his life without me in it. I was left without a home, a job (we owned a business together), and no idea of what to do next.

I wish I could say that Jesus spared me from the pain and that I got over it quickly, but that’s not how it played out. Jesus was present every step of the way, I but I still felt the pain of having my heart ripped out and stomped on repeatedly. Not only did I have to begin the process of building a new life, I still had to see him almost on a daily basis-that’s the fun part of having kids together-you are never truly ever DONE with each other. Even though the divorce was not what I wanted and I didn’t feel that I had truly wronged him in any way that was big enough to warrant a divorce, I knew I had to be kind. I knew I had to allow Jesus to shine through me especially in my darkest hour. That’s how I know Jesus exists. There were MANY opportunities to hurt him the way he had hurt me, to inflict pain and discord the way it had been inflicted upon me-but 92.5% of the time I didn’t. That was Jesus, not me. If I were walking according to my own flesh, I would have cursed his name, wished him dead and prayed for God to “smite” him (actually I did all three, but thankfully God is more benevolent and forgiving than than me). Instead, I was helpful when I could be, gentle with my words, and still prayed for him (and not always that he would be smitten, smote, or smitted, however it’s supposed to be said).

The funny thing is that, the nicer I was, the more it seemed to hurt him. He wanted me to be angry and hateful-those were his “reasons” for divorcing me. If I continued to be those things, then he could have continually justified his actions. When I was nice to the person who had hurt me the most (him) it messed him up inside. As time went on and our divorce became final, he began to realize that his biggest problem was still very much present in his life-himself. We had both heard that the common denominator in a person’s failed relationships is his or herself and this seemed to be the case for him. Now, I’m not going to be biased and say that he was our only problem. I contributed my own bad attitudes and hang ups to the failure of our marriage, but I can say it was a good 75-25 ratio with him being the former (and he would agree with those numbers). Once the “problem in his life” (me) was out of the picture, he still wasn’t happy. He quickly found that what he thought he wanted really wasn’t worth having at all. He went above and beyond to get them and keep them around, but once they had gotten everything they wanted out of him, they used him up and moved on. I would say that someone tried to tell him this, but that is beside the point (sorry, my flesh is trying to speak out).

Yet, here I was, “the problem in his life” being nice to him when he didn’t deserve it. He eventually realized his mistake and began to seek out a possible reconciliation with me. For the sake of my children, and because I’m a “til death do us part” kind of girl, I agreed to give him the opportunity. The opportunity to prove it when he said that “it was the biggest mistake he ever made and that he would spend the rest of his life making it up to me”. Don’t mistake this second chance as naivety on my part, dear reader. No, I was no longer naive nor was I full of love for the man who had broken my heart into a million pieces. It wasn’t all raindrops on roses during our separation and divorce. I did have hatred and resentment toward him. I may have been nice to his face, but I was far from it behind his back. I didn’t come back into a relationship with him on good terms. There was still a lot of anger and pain from the decisions leading up to and beyond our divorce. He hurt me way worse with some of the choices he made after he filed on me than by actually filing on me in the first place.  And unfortunately, some things can never be undone.

Still, it was important to us both that we move forward and try again. We knew that neither of us had given our marriage a 100% effort before but we both wanted a second chance to try again. And so we did. We got remarried and began the process of rebuilding our relationship and the trust that’s required to maintain it (a process that would require a whole other series of blog posts to cover). Part of it though, was laughing through the pain and finding humor where we could in the situation. Since both of us enjoy real estate investing, we have a running joke that our new marriage is on a yearly “lease-option” basis. Every year on our anniversary, we would decide if we want to “renew our option” and try for another year.  That’s what the picture is all about. We recently celebrated our 11th anniversary and I decided that I wanted to “renew my option”. So, my husband gave me this card. It reads “CONGRATULATIONS! Your Application of Marriage Renewal Option has been approved!. We (the family) appreciate your continued interest and hope to serve you in the future when your needs arise. Again, Congratulations Winter!-Your Marriage Renewal Option Provider, James”.

Why am I glad I got divorced? Because in our case, if we hadn’t, he might never have seen who I really am and what life would be like without me in it. Is this what I recommend for all couples who are having problems? H-to-the-double-L NO!! I still recommend counseling! My flesh just has to say one more thing: If he would have listened to me in the first place, he could have saved us both a lot of hurt and heartache. But, he didn’t. And the people in your life may not listen to you or do what you want them to either. Sometimes, you have to to let them go their own way and reap the consequences of their actions. Sometimes there has to be more pain before there can be happiness. This was our case. I can honestly say that I am married to a completely different man this time around. He actually listens to me, values me as a person, and has learned to love me for me and not for what he can get out of me. I often tell people that my ex-husband was a sorry SOB, but my new husband is awesome! They just happen to be the same person. Has our relationship taken the ideal path to happiness? No. Has it been without pain or heartache? No. But, praise Jesus! It’s still good and I can honestly say, that I’m grateful we are on this mountain, even if we had to go through that valley first.

Submission vs. Control

So, as I was reading the Jesus Calling page for today (10/21), a section of it really hit home for me. You see, I lost a client today and it hurt my feelings. I’m still learning to not base my value or self-worth on the opinions of others. It’s hard for me because I don’t like to have anyone upset with me, justified or not. I won’t type the entire devotion, but here is a snippet: “Intellectually you rejoice in My sovereignty, without which the world would be a terrifying place. But when My sovereign will encroaches on your little domain of control, you often react with telltale resentment…..Be prepared to let go of anything I take from you, but never let go of my hand!” But what if I don’t want to let go? What if He doesn’t have it all under control?  I guess it all boils down to the trust issues I still have with God. The trust that I tend to withhold because things don’t always go my way.  I’m afraid to submit to His will because I’m afraid it will be too uncomfortable. I guess I focus on the bad without taking into account any possibility of good coming from it.  How do I learn to trust without having to have everything all figured out first? I welcome your thoughts and comments. Please reply with yours and help a sister out :).

Thought of the Day: October 5, 2017

God never promised us perfection, only His presence. Don’t get mad when things don’t go according to your plan. He won’t make everything “perfect” every time, but he will be present every time.

Thought of the Day: October 4, 2017

Do you know why strangers rage at each other online and are so quick to be angry and offended these days? Because their passion has no other outlet. When you refuse to deal in joy, you don’t quit being emotional; you just funnel all that fury somewhere else. Many a troll was born from the heartache of a goal he dared not finish. Maybe a troll is just someone who lost to perfectionism so many times that he gave up on his own goals and decided to tear down someone else’s. -Jon Acuff, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. #TimeToFinish https://acuff.me/books/

Thought of the Day: October 3, 2017

“Goals you refuse to chase don’t disappear-they become ghosts that haunt you”-Jon Acuff, Finish #TimeToFinish https://acuff.me/books/

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