Is it really black or white?!

I am literally sitting at the beach right now and I don’t want to leave! The air is cool and the ocean sounds and smells are surrounding me like a warm hug as I sit on the sand.

I have been thinking about my life and my relationships this morning. I have been talking to this guy and we are making plans to meet soon (socially distanced, of course). There is my former crush that I am definitely not over even though I am forcing myself to move on. And then my biggest relationship, with Jesus. I have been ignoring Him, too; it is almost like I don’t want to disappoint Him because I am looking for something.

But is Jesus ever really disappointed in me? All my Christian friends would tell me that God loves all his children and nothing can turn Him away. I am not 100% sure I buy all that, though. And it is almost like I am a willful child who is doing stuff that I KNOW will push the limits of His love for me. I mean, as I mentioned before I am not interested in remarriage. It has ended badly for me twice, first time shame on you and second time shame on me, right?! I am absolutely looking for a man to share my blessings with, though.

Having God in my life keeps me in check so I don’t put the cart before the horse physically so I guess I am not completely off the deep end with my search. Every text or phone conversation feels like I am sinning, though. My black or white mentality is big and strong right now!!

I suppose the bottom line is this…having conversations with someone I want to maybe spend more time with is not wrong and if I get to the point that I want it to go farther I will have to work through that THEN. All this talk about finding what makes me truly happy means nothing at all without Jesus in my ❤

I gotta have Faith…

Remember that song by George Michael? And I know all the games you play because I play them too…umm, yup. I have been playing games and I need to have faith instead!

My best friend’s husband died about a week ago. He was having surgery and it didn’t go well. The thing is, he had been in a car accident a few years ago and several surgeries since then. He even learned how to walk again! So why did God chose the final surgery to be the one that ended everything? And why did God let my bestie find her true love only to take him away?!

I haven’t written about God lately and to be completely honest, I haven’t spoken to him much either. Everything that has happened to me and everything I have endured didn’t turn me away. Something lately has really taken Him out of my focus, though. I don’t know if it is the virus and how the new normal is making me feel crazy, or if I am just tired of trying to justify all the bad by saying, “I just know something good is coming for me, God wouldn’t send me through so many fires and not have something on the other side to make it all worth it.” Nope, I have lost my Jesus mojo.

I started seeing someone a few months ago and it has been so amazing in so many ways but not in so many other ways. The thing is, he wants a casual relationship. He wants to be able to just have fun and hang out but not have any of the pitfalls of a relationship. Pitfalls? Like what? When I try to tell him about my day or something that is happening at work he listens but then doesn’t respond about it. Actually, his response is usually something to change the subject! Except that sometimes he is all ears. And he makes me food when I go to his house. Lately he had been opening up to me more. It is starting to feel like a relationship amd I am confused!

When we first started seeing each other, I told him a lie. It was a douzy, too. Not going to get into the details except to say that when I talked about it in the past I was not met with peace and understanding so I chose to keep it to myself this time. We were casually dating, after all. Except that the more he opened up to me, the guiltier I felt. One day last week I blurted out the truth. He was shocked but not too shocked to get up and leave. It has been almost a week without any contact. I texted him every day to say I was sorry and to tell him I hoped he would be able to talk to me. The last text I sent was to say I was not going to text him anymore and if and when he wants to talk he could. Now I am left to my own devices. And that is not usually good hahahaha!

To bring it back to my friend, I have been thinking about the whole soul mate thing. I am alone right now, hoping he will reach out to me. I still want that to happen but if it doesn’t that will be okay, too. I am enjoying spending time with this man and I love the feeling I have when I am not with him and I am remembering something we did. But I DO want the pitfalls of a relationship. I want to have a bad day and have him tell me I am being terrible. I want him to be a jerk because of something going on in his life and me to understand why because we are talking about everything. And I want to be able to tell him it will be okay and that he is being a jerk! I hope I am strong enough to tell him that when we talk again.

One thing I do know is that I need to go back to understanding that Jesus is walking with me. I am not going to sit here and say that I have full faith again but I am going to work on it. I am stronger when I know God has my back! I gotta have faith!

Oh, when that love comes down without devotion
Well, it takes a strong man, baby
But I’m showin’ you the door–Faith by George Michael

Molly Ringworm

There is another outbreak at the shelter–the kittens have ringworm. I truly felt like the world’s worst person even though I knew it wasn’t actually my fault–it is not really anyone’s fault! I spent a lot of time feeling bad and sat in the cat room to watch tv with the shelter kitties (yup, cat lady!) but then I moved forward. The kittens were isolated in their own special room so that room just needs to be bleached and cleaned while they are being treated in the back building. Problem solved.

Except, God had a few more tricks up His sleeve. Right when I felt like I was getting a grip on reality and my mind was back at peace, I brought two different cats to the vets only to find out they also have ringworm. The vet is calling it an outbreak now and we have a plan of action to put into place. Oh, and I have a few different spots on my hand and my arm so I am also infected. Well, what the heck?!

Actually, though, I know. I am getting comfortable in my life and I have gotten lazy about my morning “thanking God for my life and my future” prayer. I have never believed in a God who holds grudges or who punishes the wicked or any of that fire and brimstone stuff but it is pretty obvious that this is what is going on. Is ringworm the modern version of a plague?! We are treating them all and using this time to disinfect the main cat area so it is a blessing in disguise. I am also having to ask for help from the other important people who run the shelter. Another push from God?

A little humor about this–one of the adult cats with Ringworm is named Molly 🙂

Hiding my Fear behind a Mask

Do you “believe” in masks? I am not sure actually. What I DO believe in is not dying LOL!

I am the Shelter Manager at an animal shelter and we have been closed since the middle of March. Next week, however, we will open back up. For appointments only, but we will actually be there for the people that inevitably pop in. I have installed a hand sanitizer right inside the door and I will have a basket of masks for those people who “forget” to wear one. I am NOT convinced they work but I would rather be safe than sorry! Today I have someone coming in to relinquish cat. Although I want to be a helpful member of my community, I have a sick feeling about meeting her. Not her necessarily, just strangers in general actually! It turns out that wishing for things to start moving forward was a nice little dream but I am pretty terrified of that happening. I know that if I am supposed to catch the COVID-19 virus, God has already written that. I know that He has plans and I am on a need to know basis with them. Does the fact that I am afraid anyway mean I don’t have faith?

I guess not doing something because I am afraid and I don’t trust that it will work out; and doing it EVEN THOUGH I am afraid because I know God has got me is the definition of faith for me. I am pretty sure if God didn’t want us to feel fear he wouldn’t have put that emotion in our makeup. Except when the Disciples were afraid during the storm on the sea , Jesus kind of chastised them for being afraid.  “Why are you so afraid? Don’t you have any faith at all yet?” – Mark 4:35-40. So which is it? Can someone explain this to me?!

Using God’s Hands to close a Door

I did it–I closed my business. God and I have gone back and forth about this one because I have wanted to do it since I lost my Beloved but God told me to wait. I started this business with Albert pushing me. Every time I wanted to quit he was the first one to tell me I couldn’t or I shouldn’t. I really lost my mojo after I found out he was sick and I slowly backed away. I changed over to cats only after he passed but even that was not enough of a change. I needed to close it as the official business because I am scared. I need to have faith to move a mountain and not have fears that the one who made me and made the world can’t handle something as little as my life without pet sitting to fall back on.

God gave me the animal shelter to take my mind off of it. He gave me the animal shelter to keep me from falling into a pit of despair and hopelessness because I feel alive when I am there. Mostly, though, he gave me the animal shelter to remind me that I am strong enough to figure it out and pay my own bills without anyone else. I know that God put me in the right place at the right time because He knew it would do all this for me. And I am grateful.

Here is where it gets tricky, though. God ALSO has reminded me how I need to be wise about it and not just quit Amanda’s Kitty Pals. I need to make sure I am financially secure before I completely walk away from the business because even though I am over it I need to be a grown up and have a plan. I didn’t want to do that but I did. Just to make sure I was true in my promise, He had me lose a pretty big account. I believe God was testing me to see if I would use that as an excuse to walk away from the business before I was ready. I am listening these days so I didn’t!

I still have accounts and I will continue to cat sit as an individual until I am fully stable but I am almost there. And I have a plan to get another job so I can actually save some money instead of just making enough to live. I am pretty sure God has his hands on that as well!

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

WWJD and Happy Birthdays

Have you ever felt like God broke his promise and how do you keep Jesus in your life every day? Also, how do you keep Christ in Christmas? These are some questions that were brought up at my IF dinner for my woman’s ministry and I honestly have to say I didn’t really know how to answer them! I am going to try and think through them out loud here, leave me a comment and tell me your answers!

I guess when I was just learning about God and his promises “for real” (I had of course heard and read about Him before but not with an open heart and mind) I thought of all the times that I felt alone and abandoned by God. He promised to always be by my side. And when I didn’t feel his presence that is because he was carrying me then…isn’t that what the Footprints in the Sand poem says?! Looking back now I think that was true–there were a lot of ways that God got me through awful stuff even if I didn’t “see Him” in the middle of it all. But I definitely felt like God broke his promise to me at that time.

How do I keep Jesus in my every day life? This one was really thought provoking for me because He is there…I know He is…but how? The obvious answer is I pray. In my car on my way to work. When I open my eyes in the morning. When someone cuts me off in traffic and my first thought is ‘where are the cops when I need them’ and I instead pray that they get where ever it is that they are going in such a hurry. But how else?

When I make big, hard decisions I ask God to help me make the right choice. I don’t always think about WWJD (remember the bracelets from the 90’s–what would Jesus Do?) when I am deciding what to do with my day. Or when I try to figure out what to have for lunch. Or what to say to a friend who is hurting. It seems insignificant but THAT is when I need Jesus in my life. Maybe not when I can’t decide between Burger King or McDonalds (hahaha) but if I use Jesus (or the WWJD idea) to steer me when I am making ALL my decisions I will be making the right choices. I will be able to recognize when I get a feeling I should do something and it doesn’t align with what I would normally do that it is probably not the right choice! I won’t have that gut instinct if I am only going to God for the big stuff.

Keeping Christ in Christmas was easier when the kids were little for sure. The ladies in my dinner last night all agreed that the ones without littles to impress about the importance of Jesus, it is really hard. One said that she just doesn’t even feel it this year. I have to agree with her.

When my kids were little, Jesus was a part. We sang Happy Birthday to the baby Jesus in the manger (the baby was placed in the manger the night before and up until the day we let Mary and Joseph wait like us!) before we opened any presents. I am ashamed to say that it didn’t really go any farther than that. We didn’t even read the Christmas story in the Bible. In my defense, though; I was a pew warmer and not really a Jesus follower so I thought I was keeping the reason for the season in the front of the kids’ minds.

Now, I put up a tree and I put up my nativity set. But not the cool one that had the empty manger so I could place the baby and the wise men there on Christmas eve. I couldn’t see the point of doing all that. Nope, I put up the one piece nativity set that I put up by Al’s bedside when he was bedridden. The one that doesn’t take up much space and has a light to represent the North star with 2 AAA batteries. After the dinner yesterday, I am going to put that one back in the Christmas decorations tote and take out the one with the empty manger. Singing happy birthday to baby Jesus in the morning is a tradition that I need to keep going, even if their are no impressionable minds to act for. Scratch that, I have an impressionable mind! And I will read the bible. If I read a chapter of Luke every day, I will finish the Book of Luke on Christmas eve. (I will have to double up to catch up this year but next year this will just be a part of Christmas) That will remind me of the reason for the season and get me out of the funk I am in this year. AND it will put Jesus in my life–win win!!!

 Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

My Retractable Key Chain

Happy Thanksgiving! This one is bittersweet for me. Although I miss my Beloved and everything I did today made me think of past years when he was well; it is also gloriously the last holiday I have to share alone for the first time. I will still be alone next year but it will be my new version of normal and not the “Poor Girl Who Lost Her Husband’s” Thanksgiving.

Yesterday marked a year that he has been gone. A day I had been dreading since he passed last year. A year that all I could see ahead of me was depression and sadness. A day marking the end of a year I was pretty sure I was not going to survive. But God has plans for me.

God knew I would survive and thrive during this year of uncomfortable pain. He gave me tools–like the realization that I had been checking the temperature of the room and adjusting myself to make everyone else comfortable. I didn’t even occur to me that someone else should be adjusting the room to meet MY needs.

When I was doubting my purpose he gave me a job that makes me feel empowered and strong. A job that reminded me of why I got into animal care in the first place when I was doubting if it is what I wanted to do. A job where I am surrounded by love and understanding, even when I am having one of my crazy episodes. A job with co-workers that remind me of what it feels like to be worthy and accepted for being me.

When I wanted to walk away from cat sitting, I prayed He would tell me what I should do. He reminded me that I needed to work hard and build up my behavior work before rushing into quitting. I have to be truthful, I tried to act like I didn’t hear Him on that one. I was really hoping He would tell me to go ahead and jump. Everything had been pretty good up until that point, nothing too uncomfortable or life changing. I really wanted to just move in a new direction without knowing what was next but God kept throwing thoughts in my head to make me doubt that move. I finally got it when I heard the Dave Ramsey quote, “Listen, children do what feels good, adults devise a plan and follow it…” OK, God. I devised a plan to keep cat sitting while focusing hard on getting behavior clients.

I have been listening to an audio book and one thing really sounded familiar, like it was a new thought; but one that I heard before. The author said when you are doing nothing because you are afraid, force yourself to do something. The act of doing something small will help remind you that you have the skills needed and help you move forward. I am paraphrasing but that was the jist. My therapist has told me basically the same thing in the past when I didn’t want to go to parties or out. She said to tell yourself you are going for a set amount of time and when the time is up you can decide if you want to continue or go home. Spoiler alert, I almost always end up staying! Once I get there I realize that no one thinks I am stupid, ugly, over-dressed, under-dressed, etc. The act of getting there is all I need to remind myself that none of the stuff Frank is screaming in my head is true. So in other words, this is a tool that God put in my toolbox a long time ago. When I was looking around for the “dropping-my-main-source-of-income-and-hoping-for-the-best” tool, I found that one instead.

I am surrounded by people I love and who love me back, last year this time I really felt like my one true friend was gone. My eyes are open to my world, I am no longer trying to stay in the place where Albert led me. Turns out that the tools God has been given me were keys. I am instead looking forward down the hallway and seeing all the new exciting doors for me to open that only I have the key for.

So even though this Thanksgiving was bittersweet, I am thankful for it. I am in a really good place for the first time in a long time and I wouldn’t be here if my life had stayed the same. Turns out being uncomfortable has an important place in my life!

Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Be a Suzie Sunshine!

Do you have thoughts of gratitude or griping throughout the day? Day 17 talks about how easy it is for our minds to turn to complaining. Do you think when you walk up people think–Oh no, here comes Debbie Downer? Or maybe they think that when they are having a tough time they should talk to you because you are always so positive. I know I hope to be Susie Sunshine!

The reflect for Day 17 is to write down my top three complaints for today. After I have written them down, I should count to 10 and reevaluate and redirect. I need to surrender my rights to those complaints and ask the Lord to change my heart or the situation. Believe it or not, this is not easy for me. I guess I try not to be a complainer so I don’t notice stuff unless it is really bad!

I don’t think it is because I have already given it to God. It goes back to my original posts about how I have always taken care of myself. In a way, I am second guessing whether I have the right to complain about anything. Complaining doesn’t do any good, it just ruins the rest of the day so it is a waste of time and energy. Best to continue on and keep making things happen, right?

The point is a good one anyway. I think I am going to make it a habit to pay attention to when things that are worthy of complaint and redirect them to God instead of just making myself think they are not important enough to worry about it. It won’t be worry if I give it to God!

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the taste and health to the body. Proverbs 16:26

Hiding my light under a basket

Hi there! I was not planning on writing today but something happened that is threatening to send me into a spin. Jesus tells a parable about not lighting a lamp to cover it or put it under the bed but put it on a table so it can shine it’s light everywhere. Although not exactly what he meant, I feel like telling my story out loud is like putting that lamp out where it’s light will touch everyone around me. If I don’t talk about the grief or the anxiety when it hits me, it is akin to putting that light under a basket where I will know it is there but it won’t be seen and won’t be able to help anyone see the way.

My cousin sent me a Facebook invite to the annual Thanksgiving family Football game. It brought back memories of all the years previous with my Beloved and how much he looked forward to this tradition. I remembered when he threw a snow ball into the megaphone my Aunt was using to cheer her team (not his team!) during the first game he had participated in and how I was mortified and certain that no one would ever want me to bring him anywhere after that. Of course, everyone loved him and maybe even more because he stood up for his team even when he probably didn’t even know the names of the people he was playing with yet! I remembered how every year when we got the invitation he would say he wasn’t playing this year, he was too sore after last year’s game, blah blah blah. And then we would go and he would play. I remember that he never told me if his team won or lost, just about all the fun things that happened or how different people did stuff on the field. I remembered that last year he was barely walking and the idea of bringing him to this state park with its dirt road and grassy fields was too much to even plan. Even when Al was just getting to know us, he was a part of the family when it came to playing football. After crying on the couch, I responded to her invite with an enthusiastic “Can’t wait!” (Fake it till you make it, right?!) And I can’t wait for real. Even though every part of me wants to spend this holiday alone in my pjs, I don’t think that is what I am meant to do. My sister in law always tells me “Life is for the living, go live!

My Pastor talked about forgiveness in the last sermon and how it is truly for the person who is holding the grudge. I realized while he spoke that I am holding a grudge against Al for leaving me here to go through all this alone. I know it isn’t realistic to be mad at someone for something they couldn’t control, and I am sure if he could have Al would be here. Still, I need to be angry at someone so why not be mad at someone who can’t fight back or defend themselves, right? I wrote Al’s name on a piece of paper and put it at the foot of the cross. Symbolic but also part of my memory now. Whenever I start to feel that anger bubbling up I recall writing his name down and giving it to God to take away the feelings of hurt. Maybe it is simplistic, but that truly helps me to stop and thank God for the experience.

I am trying my hardest to be a light in the darkness for those who will go through this experience. It isn’t always easy (actually, it is almost always NOT easy!) but God gave me the power of a voice while Al was sick and I don’t think it was a tool he wanted me to use then and discard after!

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehamiah 8:10

Do you see God in your everyday life?!

Hey Everyone! I hope you are all having a great week. I am, things have been pretty awesome at the shelter and I have been trying to develop a relationship with a pet store near us that would be willing to foster some cats in the store so we can try to get them adopted. I have a diabetic cat that is beautiful and charming, but also needs two shots a day. That shouldn’t be an issue except that everyone who falls in love with her backs away when the insulin is mentioned. Haley feels like it is because people don’t want to have to do the shot but I think it is 50% that and 50% a money issue. Insulin is actually not terribly expensive, but if you don’t know you don’t know! Anyway, I am praying that Mia finds the perfect person to adopt her while she is being fostered by Pet Valu.

That actually ties into the reflect for day 14. It asks me to reflect on recognizing God throughout my day. It says to redirect my thoughts from my busyness to His goodness to fuel my gratefulness. I wish I could say that I do recognize God throughout my day but that would be a lie, and lying is a sin! (It is, right? If it isn’t it should be!) I will start doing this consciously tomorrow, but I will go over the different times from today here.

The first way that I feel God was with me was when I awoke this morning. Opening my eyes and taking in the air and the world around me is such a gift and I get to open it every day! I usually thank God for letting me have another day before I even get out of bed so I guess I recognize Him then. I went to do a feline care job (thank you God for the gift of understanding cats!) and then to Home Depot to buy a few things for the shelter and my house. (Thank you God for giving me the opportunities I need to make the money!) I went to the shelter after that and was able to catch two of the difficult cats to put outside on the Catio (the shelter is being sprayed for bugs and fleas). No one else could get them outside and they were afraid to use the heavy duty gloves to pick them up. So thank you God for allowing me to not be afraid when handling the difficult cats. And while I am at it, thank you for putting me in this place. Haley and Jessica are definitely attune to the dogs’ needs and quirks and Heidi and I are the cat whisperers. Heidi is probably more on the dog side but she is a really big help to me so I am claiming her hahaha. I walked with a friend today (I recognize God’s gift of the physical ability to walk). Thank you for giving me the words I needed to talk to the people at Pet Valu and Thank you for putting someone there who can give Mia her insulin (she has a diabetic dog so the shots are no big deal plus she can watch for signs of distress in Mia because she knows what to look for!) Finally, Thank you God for giving me the thoughts and words necessary to write in this blog. Hopefully I will reach someone who needs to be reminded that God shows up in everything they do.

So that is it. I see God in really everything that goes on in my day to day life. I have only really “seen him” on the big stuff but this exercise has reminded me that he is there for the little stuff, too. All the little things add up to big things to help me live my best life. So Thank you God for my best life!

Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Exodus 16:10