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 ❤

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?!

I don’t deserve this…or do I?

I have taken a new position at work. I was actually pretty insecure and nervous about it. Although it is what I really want to do, it is SCARY since I am officially in charge of the cat rooms now. I mean, the Director knew I can handle it. She knew it would be okay even if I didn’t…she is so smart that way!

Have I mentioned how much I thank God for my job? I applied for the job and had the gall to tell the person I was applying to that I could not work the hours they had posted. I must be honest, I was not actually expecting her to offer me the job. The job fell into my lap TOO EASY. I mean, God is not THAT good to me! I prayed for this job and it just appeared for me. Seriously. I had not even applied anywhere yet! So I made it harder for God to make it work for me. And blast it, HE WAS NOT DETERRED!

I gave her alternate hours that would work for me and somehow they worked for her, too. Voila–God wanted it to work for me and it did. I have gotten a few different raises and added jobs here and there since then. Seriously–I keep trying to think of ways that this job is not PERFECT for me but I just can’t do it.

Recently, I lost a big account in my pet sitting company. I was worried about money, although I do try to give it to God when I start to spiral about it! Anyway, The Director offered me another job. (The job I referenced above actually) It came with a big raise that will cover the money I lost. I am working a bunch more, but it is okay because I don’t feel like I am working! And honestly, I KNOW I am the perfect person for this job. Thank you God for that as well!

Anyway, the point of my post is to say that I have tried in every way to say that I will mess up this job but God is not ready for that to happen. Isn’t it funny how when He decides it is right for me it is right?!

It’s Not Real!

I have been struggling with anxiety so much lately. I spend the whole day and sometimes the next day crying or on the verge of tears. The thing is, I know what ever it is that I am upset about is not true or not real. I get this little voice in my head that tells me some little untruth and that is all I need to start spiraling out of control.

I am like a little kid on an Easter egg hunt. I run around with my basket and pick up all the untruths to drop in. I sit at the end of the Easter egg hunt with my basket of lies and look around at the other people with the other baskets. Except I am not happy or proud that my basket is fuller than everyone else’s. Actually, I can’t breath and I can’t move because the basket is full of all these heavy boulders. I look around and everyone is laughing because I didn’t pick up any eggs at all. They were all rocks that I mistook for eggs. It’s not real!

The Bible says “…  if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. ” (Matthew 17:20) The devil knows this and has told me I don’t need to read my devotionals and I don’t need to write in my blog. I don’t go out except to work because I don’t want to run into anyone and have to explain why I am carrying around these useless rocks. When I do interact with anyone, the devil is certain to plant a little untruth in my head so I can run with it. Except I foiled his plan today–I went to church and heard the word of God. Pastor Darren always begins the sermon with a prayer for our time. And you know what he says? He says Thank you God for your word and thank you that it is true…

After the service I talked to a friend about my crippling anxiety. She confided that she also fights with irrational fears. Actually, it turns out that everyone I have talked to is struggling with a very similar problem. Satan is a busy little bug! Anyway, back to my friend. She told me that her husband likened the anxiety to a mosquito. It buzzes around in your ear and can’t really do anything (I mean, besides like malaria or that new infection EEE but that is SO not the point!) but it irritates you and ruins your plans. I have always thought of my anxiety like a guy in the back corner of my mind (Frank) sitting in a room playing solitaire. Every now and then (more often lately) Frank comes out of his room and whispers stuff to me so he can start up some drama. When I finally get a hold of his lies, he goes back into his room. Always there, lurking in the background and waiting for the next opportunity to try and ruin my plans.

I left church and talked to some of my coworkers about it. I explained to them that I get these irrational fears and they just blow up. I asked them to, if they see that I am spinning out of control, remind me that it isn’t real. But I don’t think it will be much of a problem, I am writing in my blog and I am going to put the Bible on audio so I hear it even when I am asleep. (Did I mention that I wake up at 2 am almost every night lately?!) Tomorrow I am going to take a walk to the beach (another something Frank has talked me out of doing) and I will go back to reading my Bible and thanking God for all the good and the bad in my life. It isn’t going to be smooth sailing; Frank senses when I am just a little weak and comes right out. Hopefully, though, when that happens I will recognize it and pull out my index card that I wrote the verse about moving mountains on. I will flip it over and see the words in capital letters IT’S NOT REAL!!!

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 NSB

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

God is Good, God is great…

Hi all! Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there. Today has been a quiet day, I decided not to even try to do anything in case it was tough being the first without Al. Thankfully, it was okay! I went to church, I walked to the beach and sat in the sand, thanking God for all the wonderful things in my life, and of course, I did cat visits.

So Day 8’s homework is to acknowledge God’s goodness. Write down specific times when I have seen God’s goodness in my life. Something happened yesterday that is a pretty big sign of God’s goodness in my life. I messed up on a cat sit. I got a text from the owner asking me if I had been there on Saturday morning because the cats seemed really hungry. I had not been there since Friday morning because that is what I had in my schedule! The good news is that the client didn’t fire me. But it was an eye opener for me. I have not forgotten or missed a visit ever in the last 16 years, although I have forgotten and had to rush to do a dog walk here or there but they are usually last minute jobs and I didn’t put them in my schedule. I have a software program to enter jobs into so that things like this don’t happen, since the software will send confirmations and if the date is wrong the client can tell me to fix it. I hadn’t used the software on the missed visit client because she didn’t really want to; so now I need to insist with future clients. The bottom line is, when things get crazy and I start to lose focus I feel like God sends me a sign to chill out. Is that God’s goodness? I think so!

Another way God’s goodness is in my life is in my home. I wake up in the morning and I look around at the wonder of it all. I have plenty of space inside and outside. I can walk to the beach, walk to the store if I want, walk to the bank…really walk anywhere. Even being as close to everything as I am, I am still in a quiet and relaxing place. I have neighbors who I love. I am alone in my own little bubble but still connected. Thank you God for sending me here!

Absolutely my health and well being are in the top 10 things that God has graced me with. I think people (umm…me!) forget how amazing they are. I get up in the morning with lungs full of air, the strength to get myself out of bed and moving, the mind power to get dressed and drive myself to work. I eat for nourishment and sometimes for fun!

All in all, God is good!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever.” Psalms 106:1

Day 5–celebrate the source

And we are back! I am back to my 21 (ish) days of a grateful heart. Day 5 talks about the gifts we have and how they all are directly given by our heavenly Father. Every time I am complimented or promoted, it is from Him.

I have already stated that I am on that same page. I believe that everything that happens in my life (good or bad!) is a direct gift from God. The reflect for today is to jot down a few things that happened that led up to the moment where I felt honored and celebrated. I guess these would be in addition to the ones I have previously listed?

One that comes to my mind is when one of my client’s daughter told me that I was doing a really good thing by taking care of her Mom’s cat. (the backstory is that I go to an assisted living facility daily and scoop the litter/feed/medicate if needed for the residents there. I definitely started out because I was thinking about all the money I would make if I could get just a few people to hire me; but it became clear pretty quickly that I was there because God had sent me to help these people keep their animals when they could no longer meet the needs of their pet.) This woman’s Mom is my first client ever there, and she is near and dear to my heart. Her daughter told me that her Mom has very little in her life and if she couldn’t have her cat, she wasn’t sure what she would do. I was so honored for making such a difference in someone’s life. I definitely thanked my heavenly Father for the gift of my business.

That was a while ago, and I guess recently it would have to be all the people who told me how lucky Al was to have me caring for him. Over and over again I have had his friends tell me how fortunate he was to have been married to someone who was able to deal with all the different parts of his cancer. I definitely felt celebrated. But honestly, I have always felt that God put Al in my path and we both benefited from each other’s gifts. He and I met and started dating about 6 months after I got divorced from my first husband. I was young, with young children and not a lot in the way of confidence or self respect. Al treated me like I mattered, like my opinions mattered. It took a while, but he eventually convinced me that I was not a failure because my marriage was. Al got me my job as a pet sitter and Al convinced me to open my own business. He even helped me name it. When, after a few months, the business was still so slow and I was losing hope, he bought me a pair of ski pants, a matching jacket, boots, gloves and sun glasses to celebrate how successful he just knew I would be. There were so many other times that I doubted my own gifts and Al just reminded me. Being together turned out to be a gift from God for both of us!

I am not 100% sure that I am answering the question correctly but when I think of gifts from God, that is what comes to mind. There are other gifts, too many to even write here, and I hope that I remember to thank Him for those as well. I try to thank Him as things come about, and to always remember that my accomplishments would not be possible without the gifts of a loving Father.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:16-18

Day 3–wonderous acts, anyone?

So today is day three of my YouVersion Bible Study, 21 Days to cultivate a grateful heart. In day three, I am asked to write 5 (or more) wonderous acts of God that I have seen in my life lately. A wonderous act is described in YouVersion as how God provided in a time of need, someone he used to impact you or your family’s life, how he protected you or someone you love, or anything else that made you go “Wow, God”

I definitely used to watch out for these little “God smiles” I called them. Things that were definitely given to me by God and they made me smile (original, I know!) Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my way. Maybe it was when Al’s first scan showed that the chemo was keeping the cancer at bay but not really doing anything to slow it or make it go away. I believe that was the first time that I doubted that God “had my back” and I am still fighting those feelings of abandonment. One of the biggest reasons for this blog actually! Anyway, back to the wonderous acts.

I see God smiles all around me. When I was having tiny anxiety attacks about my non-existent bank account and the large part of my rent that I had to use to fix my car, I suddenly found myself with a job that was going to pay me enough to cover the rent and plump my savings up just enough so I could breath again. When I run into my neighbor and he tells me how happy he is that my son and I are going to stay in our apartment another year, it reminds me that I have begun a community where I live and people actually care about ME. Sometimes I forget that I am more than just “Al’s wife”, and God sends people like my neighbor to remind me. Along the same line, I had lunch recently with a few of Al’s friends that I made while he was sick. I told them how nice it was to have lunch with them and how I felt like they actually invited me to lunch because they wanted to see me, not because they missed Al and I was the sloppy second or whatever so they figured it was as close to him as they would get. When we talked about that, they said they couldn’t figure out why Al never really introduced us and a voice in my head (God, is that you? It’s me, Margaret…) told me that perhaps I only met the friends of Al’s that he wasn’t close to because he was worried that they would like me more than him. Al loved to be the most important person in the room so that is not really a stretch! When I am waiting in line at the deli to get something for a client and a woman comments on my kitty sneakers, which turns into a discussion about her cats and how her sister is selling her house and moving so this woman is not sure what she will do for vacations; I know that is God putting people in my path that need my help and in turn are helping me with building my small empire (insert maniacal laugh). Finally, last week at church I told a friend about my struggles with entering the church after I had driven there and she told me she had the same experiences and how she worked through them. It was so healing to know that I am not alone in this fear. God sent her to be in my path so I would tell her my story and she would validate it and tell me hers.

I had forgotten to look for the God smiles in my daily life. I am smiling as I am writing this blog…I think it is time to put my detective hat back on and look every day. I guess it is like breathing, you don’t realize how important it is (like, life giving and stuff!) and you never really stop to think of how great it is to be able to breath. Without reminding myself of all the ways that God DOES have my back, it is easy for me to hold on to the grudge I have against him. But maybe daily reminders of His goodness will melt that ice. Cultivate…I don’t know…a grateful heart?

An attitude for gratitude, Day 2

Today’s response is to write out 5 things I am grateful for.  That is easy enough, I am grateful for many things in my life so coming up with 5 will be a piece of cake.  But wait, they should be a sacrifice.  What?!  According to YouVersion, a sacrifice means it hurts a little (or a lot).  So…I need to thank God for things that hurt a little (or a lot!)?  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6 (NIV)   Okay okay.  Here it goes–

The most glaring thing to thank Him for is Al dying.  I have to be honest with you here.  I know that Al’s death was something that I had to go through for me to become the version of myself that God has planned for me.  I believe that maybe God had his reasons for “taking” Al, perhaps to fulfill Al’s destiny as well.  But THANKING him for me losing my husband seems like a stretch!  I am, however, giving myself completely to God and to this process.  So I will do it.

The second thing is also connected to Al dying, and that is to thank God for the ability to care for him as he died.  I have actually thanked him for this one before.  Although watching the person you love most in this world fade away before your eyes is not even remotely “thanks inducing”, I do believe that I learned some valuable skills from the 14 month process.  I learned to not accept the status quo from the health care providers.  I learned that no one will tell you anything without being asked first and I learned that Dr.s and Nurses don’t know it all.  Most importantly, I learned that I have a loud and powerful presence and was no longer afraid to use my voice to make sure things went the way Albert wanted them to go, especially when he was too weak to speak for himself.  Recognizing that this was a gift from God that I was given to help me in my situation made it very “thanks inducing” after all.  And I have thanked Him.  But I will again because it was not an easy gift to receive from my Father.

The third thing I will thank my Lord for would be the death of my brother, Kevin.  This is another one that I am able to see the gift from God in because the senseless death (he committed suicide) opened my eyes to the fact that I had a senseless existence in a lot of ways.  You never really know why a person takes their own life, you can only speculate.  I surmised that Kevin was unhappy with how his life was going and chose to just end it instead of working to make it better.  I know the decision was NOT that easy for him and their were undoubtedly other variables, but this simplistic theory made me take an account of my own existence.  I changed a lot about myself and my plan for the future.  I went back to school online to get a Bachelors degree in Library Science and moved to a new job in the daycare field that I was in.  After graduating, I got a short gig working Saturdays at a library and to quote “In Living Color”…Hated It In Living Color GIF from Hatedit GIFs

https://tenor.com/embed.js“>hated it

!  Still, I thank God for giving me the skills, time and energy to complete my degree.  And I never would have even gone there if my brother hadn’t died and forced me to question my own life.

The fourth sacrificial thank you I am offering to my Dad is the birth of my children.  Having children is one of the biggest gifts I have ever received, but also one of the biggest challenges of my life.  My first child was breach and born via C-section, pretty scary for a 21 year old girl who is basically a child herself.  Worrying about how they will all be every minute of the day is quite a challenge.  Throw in a few grand kids and I am surprised I even have time to think about anything else!  However, the birth of my three children coincided with three life altering events.  My brother Greg died in a car crash a few days before I found out I was pregnant with my oldest, my Grandfather died a few days before I found myself pregnant with my second, and truthfully I found myself pregnant with my third right around the time I was really having doubts about whether I would stay in my marriage.  We did ultimately divorce, but not for three years after.  That pregnancy was what convinced me to stay and even though I don’t know what it is, I am sure there was a reason God needed me to be where I was for a little bit longer.  So thank you, God!

For a fifth thanks, I am struggling.  Who would have thought I could struggle to decide on painful things to thank God for?!  I could thank him for my childhood, it was pretty rocky at times but also pretty great.  But maybe too broad a topic?  Thank God for the trials and tribulations of starting my pet sitting business?  I definitely cried out that I couldn’t do it anymore and put it in God’s hands before I saw any kind of spark that the business just might fire up and become the bonfire it was.   I am kind of in that position again while I get my cat behavior/cat sitting business off the ground but I am not afraid this time because I know that God has got me in his hands.  My earthly step-father dying was pretty awful.  I still haven’t been able to find the “reason” for that death, so I think that is what I will pick.  I feel like thanking God for something that I have been able to see the path it has pushed me on is cheating in a way.  Faith is something that I feel in my heart and soul, even when I can’t or haven’t seen the end result.  But thanking him for making things sometimes hard and uncomfortable to shape me into the person I am today and the person I will become doesn’t seem hard at all!

 

 

21 Days to a grateful heart…

I have started (and recently restarted because I wasn’t giving it the kind of attention that I wanted!) a plan to help me see the gratitude in my life instead of just seeing the big holes of ugliness that seem to keep popping up. I have been reading different bible plans over the years to coincidence with my life and this one is no different.  To be sure that I follow it and put the energy and focus in that I think I need, I am going to write down the reflect section here. Starting today!

So today’s reflect–Gratutude is a condition of the heart. Let’s kick these 21 days off with a heart-check. What was the last thing you thanked God for? What’s in your heart that is blocking you from cultivating gratitude? Are you more focused on what you didn’t get rather than what has been given? (courtesy of YouVersion “21 Days to a Grateful heart”. http://www.elevatehim.com )

I thank God every day for another day so I would say that was the last thing. The thing in my heart that is blocking me from cultivating gratitude is my doubt. It isn’t that I don’t believe in God’s almighty power, but I don’t believe He will use it for me. Does that mean that I don’t feel like I am worthy of having a life that my Father would have planned for me? Or am I just so convinced that everyone eventually lets me down so why not
have a “plan B” in case God does, too? I am not more focused on what I didn’t get than what has been given to me because I know in my heart of hearts that everything I have been given (or denied!) is part of His master plan for my life. But there again, are those just words I am telling myself or do I truly believe that God has a plan for me? Doubt. It is a wormhole the Devil has used often to work his way through my brain! But not anymore. Starting right now, I say “Not today Satan!”

How about you?  Read the reflect section above and answer the question for yourself.  Was it an eye-opening experience for you like it was for me?  Let me know in the comments 🙂    Until tomorrow, Peace and Love!

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