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Archive for September, 2010

The Bus

So happy to share a post with you from Rachel Engler. She has taken time to be transparent and let us know more about her and what she is experiencing right now. We are blessed to have the opportunity to learn from each other, and so glad to have Rachel share with us!

When the idea of a blog dedicated to “getting real” and forming a community for the women of The Springs was first pitched I was totally on board! I told myself, I want to be “real” and I definitely want to see other women “getting real!”

So now the blog is up and running and I am reading all of these great women pouring their hearts out and letting them bless me.

But this business of ME being real…well, I am failing.

And not just here…everywhere. And it all started with doubt. I have doubted any value I might add. I’ve been sitting around waiting for something to happen to me so that I can have a testimony to share…because I doubted the one God had already given me. Oh trust me, I have already informed God that I have nothing to offer, no one will care, it won’t help anyone, and mostly (BIG pout and foot stomp) I don’t want to share. But, He likes to argue back with me these days…loudly.

A few weeks ago I taught my students about the metaphors we create for ourselves and our families. It’s a hard concept for them to actually apply to their own lives and analyzing themselves and their families doesn’t always come so easily.

But, I know my metaphor.

"The Bus"

I am a bus with one destination…ok fine… I am more like a Mack Truck and I will run you over!

And, I like it that way.

I have “My Plan” and I have not wavered from it even slightly in the last 10 years. In fact, I have prided myself in my ability to cut loose the dead weight (oh the casualties that have been left behind!!). If you are not fully on board with “My Plan” then you are off the bus (sorry, no refunds).

But, that is what it is like living in survival mode. I am such a classic child of an alcoholic and addict that I annoy even myself.

Overachiever- Check

Perfectionist- Check

Approval Issues, Trust Issues, Intimacy Issues – Check, Check, Check!!!

Control Issues…Ugh!!! I have spent years in denial about that one. My control issues are definitely “The BUS” that is going to run me over.

“Don’t worry God, I got this one. You can look after all of those other casualities. You know-all of those other people who actually need your help right now. I’m good, Thanks.”

But, the truth is I never gave Him any input.

I just got so tired of dealing with family dysfunction and waiting around for the other shoe to drop. I got tired of making mistakes and people feeling sorry for me. I got tired of hiding from the reality of watching someone you love not only hurt you and your family but hurt themselves.

But mostly, I was tired of living a life that was totally beyond my control.

I wanted a perfect life and so I went out to get one. And from there sprung my carefully crafted plan (and the biggest lie of my life, not to mention what it has done to my relationship with God).

 All that aside, My Plan has been working out just fine and why fix what is clearly not broken.

However, this nagging little thought has recently started to say “Life is good now…but just wait…”

So here I am now with all of this anxiety that something bad is going to happen and something is going to come and get in the way and mess up my plans just when I finally have it ALL under control (you know, because that is what classic children of alcoholics and addicts do). Just the thought of losing control is enough to send me running straight for a giant bottle of TUMS.
I am scared God has allowed me to keep on trucking along using My Map and My Plan and when my destination is finally in sight He is going to (ever so lovingly) re-route me.

And that makes me mad. Yep, you read that right, I am mad at God about something I have imagined He might do in the future.

But, the truth is I have no right to be mad. I am supposed to be living the life He planned for me. What if the rest of my nagging thought is really God telling me “Life is good now… but just wait…I have something better.”

And that’s where I am, that’s all I have.

I feel so much more free knowing that a testimony doesn’t have to have an end for God to use it. This is only the part where I say “…and then God flipped a switch and a light came on.” 

I know I have to get rid of My Map and My Plan and see what He has planned for me. And, then I might actually have something interesting to share with you!

Besides, who wants to take the bus when you are on board with God?

How have you experienced  “Your Map” and “Your Plan” keping you from being a part of God’s plan? How have you seen God’s plan “reroute you”? Any other thoughts or responses?

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No Plastic, Please…

Today, I (Kacey) get the great privilege of posting for Still Waters.  I’ve honestly struggled a bit with what I was going to share.  I’ve felt pretty scattered and all over the place the last few weeks.  While God and I are communicating, I’m still pretty angry with Him, so I’m not sure I’ve been listening all that well if He was telling me what I need to share on here (that post will be for another day)….

Then Don shared yesterday about community…

When we started Still Waters, one of the things I’ve felt very passionate about was that you didn’t have to have an end to your story for it to be a testimony of what God is doing.  We don’t have to have everything all tied up with a neat little bow to see God at work.  And in order to have a safe place to share that journey as you are walking through it, you need community – people in your life who can speak truth into your situation or sometimes can just sit and listen while you cry out, people who will walk with you through it, even when it gets messy. 

I haven’t always believed that.  In fact, for most of my life, I plastered on a smile and acted like I had everything under control.  Sometimes I actually believed that I had it under control, sometimes I knew that I didn’t but thought I could at least LOOK like it so maybe no one would know.  I was under the impression that I was supposed to be strong, not weak, that people wouldn’t love me if they knew that I was a big ol’ puddle of mess.  And – fear was my constant companion – fear of someone finding out what I was struggling with, fear of someone seeing the real less-than-perfect me.   You see, fear and control go hand in hand.  They are best buds.  And they both lead you right down that road of not trusting anyone and putting up the walls or plastering on the happy smiley face and turning into a very plastic person.

I have learned the hard way that we NEED community, we NEED people in our lives who know we’ve made mistakes, who know where we have been hurt, who know we most definitely do not have it all together, and love us anyway.  People who will do this thing called life with you…and it’s impossible to build true community if you are plastic…plastic people look good on the outside but are hollow and hurting on the inside.   This means that we have to be real and honest with ourselves and we have to be real and honest with the people who we are in community with.  We have to peak out from behind our walls, we have to trust..

Believe me, I know that it can feel next to impossible, it can be painful – this trust thing.  I’ve walked it.  I’m still walking through it.  But it gives you such incredible freedom.  I truly believe community is a gift from God – one that He wants each and every one of us to have.  True community is beautiful, it’s life-changing. 

Dallas and I, while struggling these past few weeks with all of the “whys” and the anger and the hurt over our recent miscarriage, have had the incredible privilege of witnessing community in action around us…and it has been truly amazing – breath-taking, in fact. 

Through community, we have felt like we were resting in the very arms of our Savior…how cool is that?

This blog was created with the intention that it would be an additional place where the women of The Springs could be in community with one another without having to be in the same room. Community through the written word, community through getting a glimpse at each other’s hearts.  Thank you for being a part of building that community…

So – now my question for you – what are your thoughts on community?  Love it?  Hate it? Running away like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride from it?  Have you seen community make a difference in your life?

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Reaching Out

Well guys, you get a post from me, Cathryn, today, and guess who my inspiration is. Oh yes, Miss Elizabeth. Since I now spend my days caring for and playing with my sweet little girl, there tends to be little else on my mind. Believe me I tried to think of something other than her, and it was just about impossible.

In case you have not met her before, this is my sweet Elizabeth!

There is a lot going on with Elizabeth right now as she is getting close to six months old. One milestone that is quickly approaching is beginning solid foods. She has been showing an interest in drinks and food since she was about three months old. Something that Jerod and I find highly entertaining is watching her with cups of any kind. Anytime a cup comes into her line of vision, her eyes and mouth open as wide as possible, and she begins leaning toward and trying to grasp the cup determined to partake of whatever might be in the cup. I have to pay close attention, or she would fly right out of my arms in an attempt to get a hold of that cup!

I became convicted one day while watching her enthusiasm as she tried to drink from a cup that I had in my hand. She has no idea what is in the cup, but she knows that it must be worth having. I wonder if I would be the same way. Would I reach with such determination and enthusiasm for an unidentified substance. Do I trust that what God has in His hands is good enough for me even when I can’t see it or know what it is? Or do I look at Him with hesitation and begin questioning what He holds in His hands? Is it what I will enjoy or what You think is good for me? I have to admit that I do not share Elizabeth’s enthusiasm to experience what is before me. Through life’s experiences, I have tasted bitterness and hurt, and while I can look and see the blessings God has given me, I still tend to question where He leads me. I pray that I will begin to share my daughter’s desire to experience what my Daddy holds in his hands, and to know that he gives only good gifts (even if they are like those health food store drinks that may not taste great but are good for you). I also pray that Elizabeth will maintain her enthusiasm even when she experiences hurt in her life.

Do you reach for what God has in His hands like Elizabeth, with enthusiasm and determination, or like me with hesitation and questioning? What can be done to help overcome the hesitation to regain the enthusiasm? Any encouragement?

I don’t know if you will have anything to comment on this post; it is just what has been on my heart and mind lately. Feel free to comment on whatever this post may bring to your mind or heart.

 

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M.S.

Not many words to share with you about today’s post from Paula Sonnenberg because I have tears running down my face!  I am so glad you stopped by.  You will be deeply blessed by what you read.

I was more-or-less doodling in my journal last night. Way too tired to think, but way too achy to sleep. I had written the letters ‘M’ and ‘S’ in bubble letters & I was listing other couplets that began with those letters. Starting off with the obvious “Multiple Sclerosis” I continued on writing everything from “Muddy Shoes” & “Mister Salty” to “Money-Sucker”  & “Master Sergeant.”

Then I penned “Maximum Security.” Those words gave me pause. Wow! Tumbling like tennis shoes in the dryer- the words clunked around in my mind.”Maximum Security.” What a frightening place! A place of confinement with the most severe limitation on freedom… ‘Lock-up!’ A place where collective evil is forced together to ‘hash-it-out’ amongst themselves.

 I put down my pen. I could feel my heart race a bit just imagining being in the middle of that nightmare. Was this my fate? Was my M.S. leading me to a place of confinement? Was it stripping away my freedoms? Was I destined to be in full body ‘lock-up?’ My alert mind imprisoned? As I often do when a panic starts to rise, I ask. God? Is this true?

Like a mountain wind barreling in a whistle through the pine trees- strong & direct, yet comforting in its strength- He says “Yes.” And as I feel my shoulders begin to drop & my knees ache, the need to sink setting in- I hear “Sweetheart, I am Maximum Security.”

Freeze! Sink or stand? Tell me what to do God!

“It doesn’t matter, love. In this world you will do both. But your destiny, your fate does not lay in the grips of a misbehaving body, it lies with Me. Your ‘Maximum Security’ is a place of sincere contentment not of severe confinement.”

I cannot choose the path of my brain lesions, but I can choose the path of my heart. I cannot get out of this science experiment that is my body, but I can get in to the lap of my Shepherd. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but I fear no evil. He’s with me. He comforts me. And my destiny, my fate is to dwell in His house forever. My M.S. is ever-present, but my God is omnipresent. My Multiple Sclerosis can never trump my Master Savior.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

he makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside quite waters, he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all they days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 23:1 – 6 (NIV)

 

What’s your earthly “Maximum Security” lock-up?

Can you ask for a transfer to your heavenly “Maximum Security?”

Your answer may be a resounding ‘yes!’ or a ‘hell no!’ or a ‘maybe’ or even a ‘not yet.’ I imagine there could be a few ‘I don’t know(s).’ No wrong answer here, I am just asking you to walk this out & if you are able, please share with us your steps & allow us to be your company on the journey. It is a hard, brave thing to do.

-PAULA

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God is My Guide

We have a winner from our musical Monday giveaway!  A great big thanks to everyone who commented and shared their musical obsessions of the moment…I’ve downloaded a few of them!  Great tunes, ladies! 

Drumroll please……………our winner is MICHELE STINSON!!  Congrats, Michele!  Maybe we should all go out and listen to some Jim Brickman or some Skillet to celebrate for you!  You can either email me or I will have your prize on Sunday! 🙂 Stayed tuned, ladies, because there will be other giveaways to follow….

Now on to our new post for the day.  Tammy Bolton is sharing with us today about a new adventure God is taking her on…so I’m turning it over to her:

 I just survived my first week at Tech.  I still can’t believe that I’m 39 years old and going back to college.  It really wasn’t so much my idea but God’s constant call.  I still like to joke around that I was perfectly content as a house wife, doing my thing, being there for my 2 teenage girls and meeting my husband or girlfriends for lunch. 

So now I’m a full-time student and quite overwhelmed (it’s been 16 years since I’ve been in college) and I’m actually quite shy by nature.  

I guess I don’t really like change and when God started telling me that I’ve got work to do and He’s not done with me yet, boy did the enemy attack me!  My insecurities kicked in and the devil was beating me down with fears:  I’m not smart enough…I don’t have it in me anymore…who am I to think that I can help anyone else? 

The thing is that God’s voice is stronger and constant and reassuring.  His guidance is all that I can depend on.  

I don’t know what the future holds but I am secure that I’m following God’s path for me.  It is unconventional; full of trials, pain and joy and I’m constantly pushed out of my comfort zone.  I will remember His command in Hebrews 10:35-36- Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord no matter what happens.  Remember endurance is what you need now so you will continue to do God’s will then you will receive all that He promised.

Tammy, I have to say I am so proud of you…and so excited for you!  I cannot wait to see what God does in and through you.  Ok, ladies…so Tammy opened up the door for us.  Talking about insecurities and stepping beyond them.  Hmm…seems like that’s a recurring theme for us!  (10 second commercial – topic for this year’s Women’s Retreat is what does it take to be secure in who God made us to be and to put insecurity behind us – Oct 22-24th – email w/questions!)

So, my question for you who are brave enough to share – in what areas of your life do you struggle with insecurity or fear or doubt? 

-Kacey

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Who Loves Free Stuff?

Monday mornings…not the best part of the week, I know.  I’m trying to tell myself it’s a brand new week, a new day, that God is going to send a fresh wind this week…deep breath, Kacey.

BUT – I do have a fun thing for this Monday morning.  We at Still Waters are going to occasionally give away free stuff!  Woo hoo!  We have lots of you out there reading the blog but not chiming in on the comments, so in order to help us see who’s here, we are going to bribe you.  Seriously. 

Here’s how it works…I’m going to ask a simple, non-threatening question.  Answer it in the comments and you have a chance to win the prize!  Easy enough?  We’ll use a random numbers generator to select the winner out of the comments.

Ready for the free stuff?  We are giving away some tunes…a brand new MercyMe Cd  “The Generous Mr. Lovewell” 

 

Now here’s the question:

What’s the song that you are playing over and over right now?  I don’t care if it’s Frank Sinatra, REM, or a worship song…just share with us what song gets the most plays on your ipod or CD player right now?

I’ll share mine (since moderators are not eligible for prizes – sorry, Cathryn!)…I have two that I am making myself listen to every single day.  One is Brian Johnson’s “Love Came Down” and the other is “You Are Still Holy” by Kim Hill.  I say I’m making myself listen because I’m at a place where I’m not quite feeling the lyrics yet but I want to be…maybe I’ll tell you more about that later.

In the meantime – let us hear from you!  We will take comments from now until Wednesday night, September 15th, at 9 pm.  The winner will be selected and posted on Thursday morning, along with a new post. 

READY, SET, GO!!!!

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God Inserted

Sweet friends, sit back and get ready.  God has shown up again at Still Waters.  We are so blessed, we are honored, to have a guest submission from Micki Jackson (aka Micki Struve Spearman Jackson) today all the way from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Micki, we cannot even begin to express what it means for you to share your sweet story with us….so here it is:

 
This began as a comment to Tammy’s blog, but as I was writing,  I felt that it would be more.  So, I started over. 

First of all, for those who don’t know me, I am an extended member of the Springs family.  Until I moved to Tennessee about 2 1/2 year ago, The Springs was my family for nearly a decade.  And you remain my home away from home now.  (also, I am Mike and Vicki’s daughter).

This Sunday (September 12th) will be the 5th Anniversary of  my husband Jamie’s death.

5 years, can you believe it has been 5 years? 

I can still remember standing in the hall just before midnight with my mom as she asked “is he going”.  I melted in her arms, responding, “yes”.  I could say no more. How a woman half my size held me up I have no idea.  The next thing I remember was yelling at the hospital chaplain to just shut up and pray (I believe those were my exact words). Only minutes went by, but my heart felt like it had been in suspense for hours. The nurse came out and directed us back into his room.  He lay there, quiet and still.  I remember screaming, but I could not tell you the words I said.

Then a rush of peace (or shock) came over me.  It was like time was moving fast and slow all at the same time. I felt like throwing-up, that kind that sits right about were your heart is, but doesn’t do anything. I was rational and irrational all at the same time.

I remember having to do all the paperwork, but was there paper involved?  I couldn’t remember. Then, I remember sitting in the car on the way back to the RV park, thinking the stupidest things, like “will they give us a refund on the parking pass we just bought” and “will we be caught in traffic by Katrina refugees walking between the Astrodome and Walmart”?

All of a sudden, I was in RV somehow (like in a bad movie were they snap and the scene changes). Somehow I went to sleep, I think I really passed out.  I jolted awake at 4:30am, frantic about whether we got Jamie’s underwear and MP3 player out of the side table. I stood in the RV bathroom (a 2 inch x 2 inch space) whispering (so as not to wake-up my parents) to the ICU nurses’ station to check to be sure we got everything. My mom opened the door, and once again held me. I explained that I couldn’t lose any of Jamie’s stuff, as if that was all I had left of him. 

The next few days were blurry.  I became very task oriented.  I got the obituary written…check.  Made the funeral arrangements…check.  Planned a celebration service…check.  Created a spectacular slide show…check.  Stopped to realize my husband, the man that I deeply loved and would spend the rest of my life with, was dead…not checked. 

It wasn’t real. He would be coming home in a couple of weeks.  All the hope and promise of a good prognosis would be fulfilled, right? 

Wrong, the reality set in after all the stuff was done, and after all the people were gone…or so I thought.  That was when the good stuff started.  So now, put away the tissues, and read what God did next.

My parents, who had always been there, were steadfast and took gentle care of me; they both continued to hold me when I needed them to. 

The Springs, who had been my church, became my family, my home.  Out of the woodworks the strangest of creatures came.  God brought me a friend who didn’t really know about losing a husband to death, but knew what it meant to be lonely, because her husband was no longer there.  God gave me The Deep, who loved and excepted me even when I cried all night long.  God gave me escape, by allowing me to travel in the year after.  God gave me direction to realize that I still had a purpose, and that He could use me by placing me in a wonderful youth group.  God gave me a friend that would listen to me until 3 am, who I would share all of my changes and pain to, and who I would reciprocate this for.

God convinced me that I am beautiful time and time again, which has always been hard for me to believe. I had to get past the lies that Satan was telling me, that I had done this to Jamie.  If only I had not signed for that procedure earlier that day (the “if only’s” can destroy you, if you don’t watch out). 

Blessing afterblessing,  God showed me healing. Each time I was in dispair and hopelessness, He proved himself faithful and provided for me. He used Jamie’s death for Good things (Romans 8:28) and my faithfulness to show how when Christ is inserted, the situation changes(thanks Tammy for those words).  (I could write a whole blog just about the things I’ve seen Good out of what Satan meant for evil). 

And, God didn’t stop; here is the rest of the story…
I can still remember 2 years ago (on September 20th) walking into a church, looking down the aisle, at a man who loves Jesus and loves me so very much.  He is a gentle man who just happens to look tough on the outside.  He wakes me up with a kiss every morning before he leaves for work.  He texts me every day at nearly 10 am on the dot saying “Good Morning Beautiful, I Love You”.  He is a spiritual companion who challenges me (even if the lesson is patience sometimes, ha ha). And he understands that my heart is big enough to love two men.

Jamie would like Ken, they would be friends.  They even met twice – once, when we all lived in Maine, and again when Jamie and I passed through Chattanooga on our move to Texas in 2002.  Jamie would be happy that I am loved and seen as beautiful by someone who loves me as equally as he did (it’s actually easy not to compare them as they are two different people who love in 2 different ways).
I do live by the knowledge that He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11); and that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil 4:13).

With that knowledge I have no reason not to be Faithful.

Did I not tell you that you would be blessed?  Micki, thank you for sharing your heart.  Now, ladies, after you’ve put away the kleenex, tell us – how have you experienced God’s faithfulness in your life?

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