Norm

The norm is something that I unwillingly lost track a while back.  Its absence I have come to expect, yet it’s still something I yearn to have.  Life isn’t easy and when that one thing you are accustomed to disappears the ugly, scary, unpredictable reality becomes overwhelming.  You get tested.

We often call trials or hardships “seasons” in our lives.  Those types of seasons that you like to run from but they become memories that we seemingly can’t forget.

Personally I have been in a “season” that just won’t go away, like a bad winter in Wisconsin that continues creeping back for months, skipping spring, and leaving this idea of a hot sunny summer as a distant fantasy. There have definitely been more bad days than good it would appear, and every time I think that I see a glimpse of hope it gets crushed by something else. By no means am I ungrateful for the blessing that God has put in my life as that’s where I find my strength.  However, I am human and I struggle.

Throughout my days of processing I’ve noticed that although we lack control in many aspects of our lives, there are things that we have complete control over.  Despite day after day of bad news and uncontrollable tears, I’ve learned to smack on a smile and keep pushing on.  Why?  Because I’m hopeful… Not saying it’s easy… but I feel like in some weird, frustrating, unorganized fashion God is at work.  

It’s in His word… which is the glue that holds me together… He reminds us of the following:

24 We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have—for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it. 25 But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.    -Romans 8 (TLB)

mountain-hope

 

I’ll never forget about a month ago falling to pieces at church after an amazing sermon and running so quickly without hesitation to the front for prayer.  I remember searching for a familiar face yet landing myself right in front of someone that knew nothing about me.  While feeling completely broken and lost, I recall my thoughts all over the place and having difficulty expressing my pain.  I continued to how I had been surviving by the notion that God won’t ever give me more than I can handle, but it had been too much at that point and I was crumbling… It was THERE, after actively listening he stops me saying something I will never forget.  He said that’s not true.  The idea that God won’t give you more than you can handle has you misled as it puts you in control and that’s not His intention.  The real thing you need to remember is that God will not give you more than YOU & HIM can handle TOGETHER because He is on your team and will NEVER leave you alone to get through life.

I know, right?! Wow. Feel free to soak that in for a moment!

When trials creep up, how often to do we go right to feeling so alone?  I sure do.  I am often surrounded by the most amazing support system yet feel like I am trying to climb out of a deep dark hole on my own.  It definitely involves a constant effort on my part to resist that vicious ugly cycle and default to hope and perseverance instead.

In all, the idea of finding a norm makes us look disillusioned thinking that somehow our messy flourless lives can fit into a cookie cutter mold and not show its imperfections.  We might as well be strapped to a treadmill indefinitely because that life we seek is unattainable when we are surrounded by unpredictable circumstances. The harsh reality is that things change.  Every circumstance involves so many factors that realistically fall beyond our control.  We need to stop playing God, allow Him to join our team, listen to his promises, control our thoughts and stray from presumed entitlements in order to stop setting ourselves up for disappointment.  That is how you thrive regardless the length or depth of your “season”!

Life is a journey, not easy, full of adversity and failure, but rewarding if you chose to find victory versus become a victim of circumstance.  Only then will you see its beauty, embrace its imperfections and find peace in this not so perfect life.  

Thank you Journey Church for keeping it real!

Please like or share if you have been encouraged.  xoxo Cara

Acceptance

acceptanceIf you knew that your life was going to change tomorrow and you were given all the details in advance would you accept it?  Would you live differently?  Call it whatever you want… fate, karma, God’s will, destiny…

Every minute someone’s life drastically changes. Until it is our turn, we don’t think about it.  I sure didn’t.  Like most, my life with “planned”.  The cards that I was dealt at 9 months pregnant wasn’t a part of my plan.  But it never is.

Even over a year later, acceptance isn’t always easy.  When you are a very rational person, it is difficult to understand irrational decisions or situations.  It goes back to trying to control something that cannot be controlled.  I remember when we were married, we would often take turns putting Emma to bed.  As a part of my routine was kneeling by her bedside and praying with her.  We were going through a lot financially, which at the time I felt was controlling our dreams.  We were stuck and I felt claustrophobic in my daily life.  I had a heavy heart and crushed spirit.  Heck, I was brought up to pray yet I really didn’t believe the power behind it.  What we always prayed together was the same.

“Dear Jesus, I thank you for this day and all of our blessings.  I pray that we have a good day tomorrow and that you watch over all of us keeping us safe and healthy.  Although we do not understand what is going on right now, we pray that You help us to keep faith that You are in control and that Your will be done in our lives and situation. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”

When everything changed it took about a month before I realized that this is what I prayed for all those times kneeling down next to my baby girl.  As clarification I wasn’t praying to be hurt, to have a split home for my children or to be a single mom but what I was praying for was that His Will be Done.  You see, when I prayed that prayer for months or even years in my mind I had specific directives for it… what would change or get better, not a course of utter chaos and devastations.  Despite all the emotional turmoil that in my opinion was indescribable, I can sit back today and say it was worth it.  Yes, I admit it.  Why?  Because that heavy heart and crushed spirit have been revived.

Call it fate, call it karma, call it God, call it destiny… I have found freedom.  Ok, so this may not make a whole lot of sense and I get that.  Let me explain.  My new found freedom is the awareness of my surroundings.  My understanding that to gain a life worth living you have to give up control.

If you had told me 1 year and 4 months ago what was to come, I wouldn’t have believed you. Gosh, some days I wake up still not even believing it myself.  Why, because I am human and to fathom a great change coming our way isn’t natural.  Instead of living in fear everyday like I did, I encourage you to trust.  I don’t write these blogs to sway your beliefs, but to offer hope.  This is my journey and how I continually find peace in this brutal world that we live in. Take the bits and pieces that you can relate to in order to be inspired!  Learn that you create your happiness, and nobody can take it away but yourself.

Are we willing to accept an outcome that we didn’t expect?  My hope is if you have gone through something that you aren’t willing to accept or in an awful season of life that you are able to take a step back and see that it’s a part of the bigger picture.  God never meant for us to live mediocre lives, He meant for us to thrive!  As difficult as it was for me to experience what I did, it makes sense now.  My story isn’t over.  The best is yet to come, and that my dear is why at the end of the day I can accept my new life and find purpose.

Before leaving this post you have to listen to this song by Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum.  Let this beautiful song bring truth to your life. Click here to listen.

Please like or share if you have been encouraged and check back soon for Part 2: Finding Purpose after Acceptance. xoxo Cara

Truth

Truth is a concept that tends to be easy to accept when things are going well, yet when things are bad it becomes nearly impossible.  I am sure that everyone has those moments.  I sure do.

I talked in my previous post about my struggle with acceptance versus rejection.  I had an episode this week when I almost allowed those insecurities to creep back in until the point where I almost believed the lies.  My unacceptable truth is that no matter what I do, it will never be enough in my given situation.  It just won’t.  The thought of that is overwhelming.  If I do the right thing, it isn’t good enough.  It I stick up for myself, then I am a “terrible person.” So what do I have to do regardless of my feelings in order to offer the best case scenario for survival?  Roll out the red carpet and let them walk all over me.  Ok, maybe that is a little over the top, but seriously… it sure feels that way.

Using this blog as my late night therapy session, I am telling you as I remind myself that your character is defined by what you don’t do when you have the free will to do so much… leaving things alone when you want quick fixes.  It doesn’t just shape your character, but it also shapes your destiny.  By refusing to act on impulse, it drives you to trust in something bigger than yourself.  You are realizing that once again you can’t control what can’t be controlled.  However, you can count on the natural consequences taking over in due time if you can just let it go and walk away; and that my dear will be even more powerful than anything you can accomplish on your own.

In the beginning of my rough patch, my mother had typed up a list of some of her favorite quotes and scriptures for me to keep on my desk at work. There were weeks when instead of “working” because I just couldn’t clear my head, I sat and read them over and over and over … well I think you get the point.  One of the shortest yet most powerful ones was, “Let go and let God” which leads right into the the next, “Be still and know that I am God.”7904c9265d338002c94353a712872934

Not going to lie, but I can’t help but chuckle a bit as I finish up typing those phrases. While I have been able to maintain those lessons on numerous occasions, just this week I responded yet again when I KNEW that I shouldn’t have.  It is that whole idea that we have to stick up for ourselves when people try to tear us apart.  Then you think about it, Why is that?  Does it change anything? …NO.  If anything it probably proves them right or gives them the reaction that they were hoping to get from you.  Lesson learned and the TRUTH is that one can become a stronger person and can accomplish so much more if you can just LEAVE IT ALONE!  Trust me, I know.

I know because on the days when I am strong enough to conquer the task it feels amazing!  I know because others around me see it and acknowledge it.  I know because the times I thought that I was sticking up for myself ended up making me feel more like a failure.  I know because as much as you want them to care, they DON’T CARE!  They just don’t and they won’t.  And that my friend is the hardest part to stomach because you can’t change it.  Even though I am not perfect in my responses, at least I can recognize the problem. We all need to start somewhere.

15b “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s…17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:15b & 17

Don’t fall victim to deceit and lies. Truth will only be found when you can recognize the facts and not react with emotions. Be the bigger person, leave it alone and walk away! The battle is not yours. No matter how hard it is to let go, it will be worth it every time and I promise you that!  Lysa Terkeurst said it best at our Shine Conference, “When alarmed, resolve by taking a step back and look to God.”  If he is for us, then who can be against us?

Click here to listen for even more TRUTHS.  Even though it may not be your “style”, you won’t regret hearing it.  Enjoy and until next time be strong!

xoxo Cara

Story

Going to take a moment and be real with you.  I have had a cloud over my head and heart the last week or so.  This cloud has caused me to be numb and distant, especially from God.  Like always, instead of continuing to seek and find a way to battle past that emptiness I turned to filling my voids with easy fixes.  I am sure you can relate… quick fixes that give instant gratification but never fully satisfy.  As I fed into my voids, as I often have this past year, I began to turn down the positive things that I seek after.  Tonight was almost one of those times.  My dream of a group for single moms was here.  I have been excited for weeks as I had been wanting it for months.  As the evening approached I had my excuses creeping.  I almost didn’t go.

As the hours turned to minutes and my list of excuses increased, I kept feeling a tug.  Effortlessly my kids were fed and ready ON TIME, both happy and in the car landing us shortly after in the church parking lot as if a miracle just took place before my eyes.  Went in, spent some time chatting, questioned my commitment to the cause, yet sat down to give it a chance.  Then it happened as mom after mom opened her heart reaching in and touching my soul.  You know those moments when your body tingles and your heart sighs.  I was feeling it again.  I was filling my voids.

Tonight was a perfect reminder that God has a plan for each and everyone of us.  Although he grants us free will to take detours as we please, all roads lead back to His plan.  If there is one thing that I have learned this year is that our stories are already written.  In the womb God already knew.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. -Psalm 139

That fact is hard for anyone to wrap their mind around for many reasons.  If we have this God that watches over us and if we are good people, then shouldn’t only good things come our way?  I mean what godly figure would send death, hurt and grief to people the way that it flows so regularly throughout all of us.  Now I am not a bible or religious scholar, yet I speak from personal experience as I sift through all these thoughts myself.  What I have found in MY life is that everything that brings me pain has been a direct result of free will.  The free will that God granted us.  From the Garden of Eden to Single Moms group, God has given us the freedom to make our own decision.  As we continually take the reins and try to direct our path, I am sure that he looks down on us in pain himself as he see us make destructive decisions that only we can prevent.

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I get told on a regular basis that I am a strong person and every time that someone tells me I think to myself first “Ha, I must have your fooled because if you only you knew what really goes on in my head!” then second, “What does that even mean?!”  Being the weird person that I am, I have spent way too much time trying to see myself through others’ eyes to encounter meaning behind the oh so famous phrase lately.  What I have gathered is that strength during life’s hardest moments is not defined by how much you can endure, but by the steps you take and the choices you make to endure it and thrive regardless… I refuse to be the status quo of the situation that has consumed my life and let it define me.  Because something really cruddy happened to me, I think everyone’s biggest shock is that I am not responding as expected on the outside.    I am trying to make choices focusing on the big picture and not the instant gratification and boy let me tell ya, I want to give up daily.  But I don’t because it will be worth it.

Again, God holds my future as well as yours in the palm of his hands.  God gives us free will.  We can choose to embrace his plan regardless of the personal sacrifices and lack of control; or we can try to do it on our own resulting in it’s own natural consequences that often result in hurt or failures.  I know in my mind what I want and what I need.  But guess what, I can’t rewrite a story that is already written.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. – Jeremiah 29

I love the song “Trust in You” from Lauren Daigle for many reasons.

  1. It’s my daughter’s favorite song, her face lights up whenever she hears it come on and she can sing it word for word… so stinkn’ adorable!
  2. It’s the perfect prayer
  3. It’s so simple

I encourage you to listen to the song at least once and repeat it as your prayer.  Really mean it and believe it.  It can transform you and how you think as it has me.  Repeat the words to yourself daily.  “Letting go…I tried to win this war…Never changes what you see…Your plans are always good…There’s no place that I’ll go that you haven’t already stood.”  Soak that in for a moment!  I mean seriously.

Click here to listen

As I have learned fairly recently about scripture is that many things are pretty simple and straightforward and yet we try to manipulate it to fit in our lifestyle. I have those moments regularly when I think, oh yeah, easy to say two thousand + years ago.  Yet when I do my own thing and go against the grain that God instilled through His word darkness comes my way.  As I have become more conscientious these past few months, I can trace back that everytime I feel insecure, rejected, hurt, lost… man the list goes on… I realize it is because I chose my path and not His, simplicity offered yet difficulty taken.

I encourage you to find your strength and chose to let God write your story.  Let Him guide your fears and insecurities to make the right decisions moving you towards His plan instead of your own.  You will find yourself stronger than you have ever been because you are giving up control and trusting your faith.  With that you will thrive.  Are you strong enough to thrive?  Figure out what you really want and act accordingly before your free will takes you yet on another detour.

Thanks to my single moms that inspired me tonight!  Be strong and continue letting God write your story.

xoxo Cara

Legacy

For college I spent 4 years down at Lee University in Cleveland, TN.  I am so proud of my Alma Mater and the amazing people that it has helped to mold as a testimonies of God’s grace.  Jordan Smith is just one of the many people who have made a name for themselves through his roots in his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Click here to watch video!