I hope you'll enjoy my blog.

I'm a new Christian, a wife, mother, daughter, and sister. I own a small business in a super sweet small town. I am just learning how to apply Godly living to the roles I fulfill in this life.

The purpose of my blog is to give me a reference point of where I've been and help guide where I need to go. But, most importantly, my hope is that my small life story will shine the light of Christ on those who need Him most.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Reflection

I really don't like looking in the mirror. I have gross skin, a double chin, plain hair, no make-up, crooked glasses, and well, I'm usually quite a sloppy dresser.

The other day, however, I bought make-up. I had ZERO make-up left after the children (I won't name names) destroyed all I had. My make-up bag has been nothing but a dusty, foundation, eye shadow mess for at least a year.

I have worn the new makeup a few times. It does make you feel like a different person. Part of me sees the same old Dana that I hate and part of me sees a tender, tired girl trying to change. The outside making up of the face is one of the first traces of an internal transformation that has been in process for several months.

One year ago, I was not Christian. In fact, I really didn't like Christianity or the concept of religious organization. I had witnessed so much judgement by these so called "loving" people and felt most of it was a political bunch of propaganda aimed at conforming society to the elitist' beliefs. In college I had a professor who I really dug and we went back and forth emailing just how how much political pull religion had. I reinforced the belief that MAN not God wrote the bible.

Years after college, my husband and I sat around with friends, drinking and playing poker, talking about how if God was God, and Jesus was the man, then everyone, including illiterate, uneducated five year old orphans in Africa would know it. We talked about how there are Buddhists and Muslims, and Odin'ists (?) and how could a God condemn those people to hell for knowing no different.

Our life, well, it pretty much sucked. Both depressed, underweight, tired, stressed, financially burdened with medical bills... We tried to do things that made us happy. Buy things or get into a hobby. By nature, I think we are both pretty active people so, when we're not up and going, there's clearly an issue.

My depression and anxiety on top of my health issues manifested me into a shell of a person. There was no true laughter, no honesty in any part of my life. In fact, I was so ashamed of who I was, I wanted to hide myself from the world. I avoided all phone calls, visits, family functions. I was not the accomplished, successful, "most ambitious" girl I left behind. I was a withdrawn, sad, totally bi-polar, and tired failure.

The misery continued into my pregnancy with my daughter, Quincy. Of course I was happy and excited, but super stressed and somehow depressed about the whole thing. Having that baby in my belly brought a whole new facet to my life and I did not adjust well. In fact, I was so nervous and apprehensive, the only word to describe her first days at home is HELL. I was on eggshells. I was so tense that nursing became this enormous disaster. My boobs refused to work, baby was not eating, and baby got yellow! We had to take her in for a routine blood test to check for whatever that stuff is that makes babies yellow.

During this simple blood test, my little Q stopped breathing. She made some funny sounds, and then started turning blue, was unresponsive, and seemingly limp and dead. The nurse taking our blood left the room after asking us if that had ever happened before. The baby was two days old, we had no medical history, blood test lady! So, here we are, left alone with this dead-like baby. Toby sweeps her up and we rush into the hall calling for a doctor. Finally a man approaches me and I tell him our baby isn't breathing and he calls the code blue. Within an instant we were surrounded by at least 12 medical professionals and Quincy was whooshed away into Emergency Care.

Of course she survived.

They had to keep her in the hospital to monitor her heart. We learned she had an irregular heart rhythm.

Here we are, these two idiot parents with this sick baby we don't even know but are completely attached to. That night we left her room and went to do the only thing we felt we could do. We went to the chapel.

As soon as stepped past the first set of pews I wept. There was something so familiar and comfortable and okay about the chapel. I prayed to a God I didn't believe existed that he would allow my baby to live.

We were sent home a few days later with the sweet baby on a heart monitor. That thing was a beast. If a node thingy fell off, even a teensy bit, it would set off the alarm. It would scare the living crap out of us everytime it beeped. One night, one little plain night weeks down the road, I had Quincy sleeping with me and the alarm went off. I instantly took her in my arms and checked her out. She took in a big breath as I realized that everything was properly connected. The heart monitor had a true reading of apnea.

I know in my squishy gut that the God I didn't believe existed had orchestrated the events at the hospital, leading up to the heart monitor that gave me that one true alert that Quincy wasn't breathing. Of course, at that time I did not acknowledge any sort of God involvement and was quite bitter and pissy that I have this sick baby and stupid heart monitor.

It is not until now, that I see the beauty and glory in this magnificent God, that I am willing to try to see the beauty in my story, my past, my present, myself.

One time Toby tried to get me to look in the mirror and tell myself that I was beautiful. The results were bad. Toby ended up with a sobbing wife with snot running down her face. I could not do it. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it today, especially with someone else watching.

I didn't let anyone in my life to watch me for so long. It was a lonely existance. It wasn't until this God I didn't believe existed guided me out of the shadows of my life and brought me to love and help someone else that I began really living again.

My mom, the only other person besides Toby and Quincy involved in my life, was diagosed with cancer. Surprisingly, my bitter and resentment toward this God I didn't believe in, didn't grow. Instead, I sprouted feelings of love, compassion, hope, and knew, just knew, I had to take care of her.

We packed up and moved to Weiser to be with mom. My dying mother, actually. She was given an 18% chance to live. I really wanted my Q to get to know her. And this little blessing of a child, not only got to know her, but restored her, rescued her, and revived her. Quincy truly gave grandma a knew hope for life.

This non-existent God worked these amazing coincidental instances out through the most horrible circumstances.

Because of the love of my mother, i moved to a place where I was able to start living again. I got some confidence and found somethings I didn't just like, but was passionate about. I stepped into the community around me and found ways to be useful and helpful. All because of the love this non-existant God gave me.

Today I stand as a Christian. These past months I have been tested-spiritually and physically. At times, I have been embarrassed, and perhaps that's not the word, maybe cautious, about telling others my faith. Afraid of losing a friend or being judged.

Today, I know. I know that there is a God that is with me even when I don't feel Him. There is a God who provides for my every need and has a plan greater than I could possibly imagine. There is a God who will accept you when all you have to offer is a mess. This God is love, hope, peace, comfort, compassion, joy, patience, kindness, and forgiveness.

I cannot look at the miracle God gave me in Quincy and tell her that this life is all for nothing. In the mess that I have given Him in my life, He has given me hope. And, I will give that hope to Quincy with delicate hands, ensuring she knows how amazing and wonderful it is just to be. Just to be a reflection in the mirror.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Peter Meets the Flower Box

This morning before taking off for what was an incredibly busy day, I took some time to grab my bible and catch a few minutes of reading time. Without thinking I dove into the New Testament and I stopped near some highlighted passages I had read weeks earlier. Keep in mind, I'm relatively new to the whole Christian gig. So, for me to have something highlighted is sort of a big deal. Anyhow, I find myself in 1 Peter. Honestly, I don't know much about Peter, but I really like this fellow's bubba little book! I get so excited reading this! It exhilerates me! I love to discover who God is through this gospel.

"But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God." 1 Peter 3:30

This scripture screamed at me! Steal yer wife a twelve pack of Hamm's Beer, do your time in the slammer, and God will not be glorified. Not even a tiny bit. Get falsely accused of stealin' that Hamm's Beer, serve the time, joyfully recruit your cellmates as followers of Christ and you've done good! I immediately sent out a quick email to my sweet friend who I thought could use this verse today. She is struggling with something so far out of her hands, trying to endure the heat in the kitchen, and coping like a champ! She's barely breaking a sweat! After I emailed a quick blurp to her, I continued reading.

I came upon 1Peter 4:19 "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." Ohmygoodness! Story of my life! I did the math: If you believe this is God's will, then quit yer belly achin' and keep trying! I immediately posted this scripture on my facebook status. I loved it.

These two scriptures spoke to my heart this morning. When the going gets tough, when the world crumbles around you, when you can't imagine anymore pain, problems, and crap strapped to you... you keep on keepin' on. And not just keepin' on! You thrive! You do the very best of all good things you have at your power to do. And not for you. Not for your husband, not for your mother, or your children. For God. You give it up to God! I left for work with an awesome prayer in my heart for God to imprint these scriptures on my mind and soul. Quick loves to my family and I was out the door.

I work at a flower shop. Mostly I play at a flower shop. They actually pay people to do crafty stuff with gorgeous fresh flowers everyday. Imagine that! This little shop has been blessed. God is doing something supernatural down there and I am just trying to keep up with the pace. These days it does tend to feel like more work than happy hobby hour, I'll admit. It is surprisingly busy. We are in a bad economy in a small little town with another awesome floral shop to compete against. Somehow, someway God is orchestrating an abundant floral demand in our tiny little city. Amen!

This morning was chaos. Prom, funerals, everyday orders. I had both employees in making and helping customers while I was delivering, ordering product, and filling in making as needed. We received an order over the computer floral relay service we use for a $40.00 order to Cambridge. At first glance, I thought maybe it would be okay. The more I thought about it, the more I became annoyed.

Cambridge is 30 miles away. Gas, alone, is about $10.00. You add on the hour of labor for the delivery, plus the standard fee for the vehicle (insurance, registration, maintenance) and a trip to Cambridge gets expensive. For our locals we offer a lower fee, but for relay orders, we ask a $35 minimum floral order and $20 delivery charge. It was evident that the order was not really worth our time to do. Especially, with all the other organized chaos going on in the shop. I decided I needed to get more money or reject the order. Through the relay service, we will in the end, only get compensated for a portion of that $40.00. I would be barely breaking even on cost. I asked for more money. No response. No response. No response. I made the decision and laid down the gauntlet. I rejected the order. Dana now gets a phone call!

"Why would you do that? You have to take the order! I already promised my customer! What do you mean you need more money? This is not fair! My customer is already gone from the shop!" The Flower Box florist lady was not happy with Dana. She was irritated, confused, annoyed, and mad. I apologized and told her that it has happened to us before - a florist will send an order back and refuse to do it because it does not meet their minimum order requirements. Our minimum and delivery for Weiser would be fine at $40, but with an hour drive... not so fine. I explained that she would just have to explain that to her customer. She continued to argue with me. I didn't know how to make her understand and was pretty shocked about the cajones on this one! She was fiesty! She was not backing down. The call ended with her agreeing to try to contact her customer to get the extra money we would need for delivery. She wasn't thrilled. I kept my composure the whole call, but I had some adrenaline pumping through me.

I went and did the local deliveries I needed to get done after the phone call. It was great to get out and move a little. At the funeral home, I was able to get my mind off of the incident while hoisting a casket piece onto a sweet old lady who seriously did not look dead. I expected her to talk to me almost. On second glance, she was more creepy than sweet. I had a nightmare about this very woman when I was a little girl. It was odd seeing her dead. I wondered if she got to heaven. By the time I got back out to the delivery van, my heart was heavy. As distracted as I wanted to be about the creepy dead lady, I knew. He was burning inside of me like you wouldn't believe. I needed to take those flowers to Cambridge.

Stupid conscience. I was so annoyed with myself. I grumbled all the way into the flower shop. I told the girls I was headed to the upper country. Before I left I tried to call the Flower Box florist. Her line was busy. I sent her the following message, "There is a higher power working here today. You were so persistant. I feel God needs to get these flowers up to Cambridge. I'll take a better bouquet than what was ordered. Don't worry about the extra money. Please resend the order when you get a chance. All my best, Dana." I felt foolish. Probably embarrassed that I just didn't do it to begin with, but also shortchanged I think. I felt like I was going to lose money on this deal. I had a chip on my shoulder. Doing the right thing felt crappy! I replayed the phone conversation in my head over and over as I drove out of town.

Suddenly, a couple miles out of town, my anger melted away and a smile washed over my face. A big, stupid, silly, goofy smile. I think I even giggled. I felt excited. 1Peter 4:19 "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."

I had this undeniable feeling leaving that funeral home that the right thing to do, was to take those flowers up to Cambridge. I knew. I felt it deep in my gut. I am still young in my spiritual maturity, but I discerned that was God speaking to my soul. Teaching me the right. As I drove, my mind raced. I realized that there was no better way of learnin' a scripture than to live one! Even as minimal as this trivial "suffering" was I can't help but feel this was God teaching me 1 Peter
4:19. If I believed that God needed me to get these flowers to this recipient, he will fix, replenish, restore, and take care of any and all suffering that I should endure. If it is His will, it is always right. Even when we suffer.

Though I wouldn't say driving to Cambridge was suffering, I think the definition of suffer, in this context, could include any type of suffering. Physical, financial, emotional. This extra trip to the upper country during mass havok at the shop, with little to no incentive of making any money, is not a wise business move. Donald Trump would fire me. I questioned that perhaps the feeling I had felt earlier was guilt and not the conviction of God. I also realized, with the help of my husband, that there was nothing but good fruit (Galations 5:22) coming from this choice and that's ultimately how you know God is involved.

I wondered who this most needed to effect. Me. The other florist. The recipient. It was a get well bouquet. Maybe she will die or maybe she will recover tomorrow and these flowers will somehow play a small little role in that 'maybe.' I praised God all the drive home. I hoped that why ever this needed to happen, it ultimately needed to happen to shine His light. Whether it was for me, the Flower Box, the recipient. It's all about glorifying Him. I realized today I was taking His flowers to His people and the sacrifice of me not making any of His money on this one small order was not even one iota of the greater picture. I felt so small and at the same time, so loved, so big, and so joyful.

When I got back to the flower shop, I talked with each of the girls about my decision to take the bouquet to Cambridge and the irony of my choice scripture for today. What I didn't know, was that the computer had an error and the other florist didn't even get my message. She sent a new order, with the extra money, while I was gone. I took that as a pretty strong indicator that this lesson was for, um... *THIS* girl. I am so thankful for the real life application of this scripture:

If we believe we are living His will, do it joyfully, happily, and purposefully for Him. EVEN IN OUR SUFFERING AND LOSS. This is commendable by God. WOW!

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Armor of Crap

I really think, at one point, I really sucked at life. I never wanted that to be me. I seriously thought, when I was a little chitlin, that I was going to be something amazing. I believed it. I thought that I could do something so great that the world would never be the same. I thought I would be famous. I would be smart. I would do something phenomenal. I really think that up until I graduated high school I thought this, so don't be thinkin' it was just some little girl playing dress up. I was nearly of legal age and believed that I would be accomplished, professional, and prestigious. I would be like Britney Spears without the boobs or good looks or voice or stardom. But, I was okay with extraordinarily above average.


I really dropped the ball on that one.


I think things started going wrong somewhere in my senior year of high school. I don't really think there was one single event that triggered the radical change in me, but more a compilation of years of multiple single events. I come from a dysfunctional home. Super dysfunctional. It pains my heart to say it. I am not here to point fingers and blame my parents for my mistakes. Believe me, I have done enough of that in my lifetime. Today I take total responsibility for my choices. But, I also must truthfully acknowledge what really happened within our home. I don't think either of my parents are happy with the way things turned out, they way they behaved, and the resulting damage it has had on all of us. All of us are equally scarred by the dysfunction. And honestly, nothing more needs to be said right now.

What you need to know, is at 18, I was emotionally retarded. Unfortunately, nobody told me. I had no concept of what life was really about, how it really worked, how you're supposed to feel, react, enjoy, love... much less how a relationship of any sort worked. It was my role in our dysfunctional household to be the perfect kid. I overachieved, made mom and dad happy, and that was that. It was so stressful. It started when I was young and I always felt this expectation of perfection hovering over me like a machete ready to karate chop if I screwed up. I didn't like how it felt, but that's how it was. I repressed all feelings of pain, sadness, anger, and loss. These repressed issues don't just go away. They come out in other behaviors, actions, and forms.

When I left for college, the week after graduation, I took the terrible habits I learned my senior year with me as I moved up to Moscow with my sister. No, not the Russian one. I went to the lovely campus of the University of Idaho. That summer I taught myself to smoke Marlboro Red cigarettes (I upgraded from the Marlboro Light cigarettes I had sneaked in high school). I also took up jogging.

Okay. Are you with me? I took up smoking and jogging. See where I was? We can elevate my emotional retardedness to include intellectual, as well. Make that conventionally and common sensually retarded. So, here I am, away from my parents for the first time, dwelling on how I would never be good enough, angry that I had to be perfect, angry I couldn't just be Dana and have that be enough. Not that I even knew who Dana was. I had no idea. I didn't know what I liked. I definitely did not like myself.

Although I can never say that I was morbidly obese, I was a chubby teen. And, the crazy part, was that I didn't know about this chubbiness until I was like 17. And then it was like, "What the heck? When did this happen?" I suddenly saw fat everywhere. I started working out a lot my senior year. That carried into bulimia and anorexic tendencies, though I loved food too much to truly be anorexic. These behaviors came to Moscow with me. All summer long I just smoked, made myself puke, ate brownies, puked again, went jogging for hours.

It was extremely effective for weight loss and I was finally the small person I thought I was supposed to be. I started college that fall with the expectation that my life was rockin'! I was enrolled in advanced courses, had a super full schedule, and was living it up on campus. The first day we officially moved in, our hall monitor person took us to a Frat party. Ohmygoodness. I think I was already 'lost' prior to that point, but, from here on out, the college experience I had gets a little blurry. I drank A LOT. I indulged. Did you know they have parties there on Monday, and Tuesday, AND Wednesday? Thursday and Friday? And also, Saturday and even and odd Sundays?

When school started, I really went to school. I attended classes. I loved my English class. I made friends in chemistry. I loved it. I was doing pretty good. But, slowly, I started falling apart. I couldn't focus, concentrate, I didn't have commitment, I lost my fire to learn. I was full of angst. Looking back, I should have seen this as a symptom of a greater problem. It just wasn't me. In high school, I earned one B. Make that my entire education since like kindergarten. One B. Junior year trig. Mr Davies. I wish I could take the class again! Anyways, I'm set up at UI as a pre-med Biology major. I am talking Dr. Dana, here. This is the goal. Eye on the prize. There is this expectation that I'm going to succeed as I have historically done.

It didn't exactly work out like that. I'm puffing up my cheeks and furrowing my forehead as I type that. I so regret it. I haven't let it go, yet.

I think "big" depression slipped in within the first month I was at college. I could hardly sleep. What's that word? It's on the tip of my tongue. Insomnia! I had that. So, even when I wasn't out all night drinking, I was still up all night. This played a huge factor in my overall health during the day. I started skipping class. I think I also started gaining weight back. I was trying to self-medicate with alcohol, cigarettes, eating. Obviously, I was mentally unwell, but at the time I didn't realize what was happening. I just thought I sucked. I could feel myself falling into this abyss and as much as I wanted to get out, I also just wanted to sink. I didn't know how to fix everything that I had messed up. I missed being the star of the show and at the same time I just wanted to be someplace nobody knew me. I was drowning in guilt and self-pity. I was unable to heal any of the wounds in my heart. I did not see the light.

How could I go from this perfect high school student, homecoming queen, student body president, near straight stinkin' A student, and end up unable to get out of bed to get to class? Before me all I could see was a failure. How I screwed up. I was so embarrassed. I was so humiliated. I honestly don't even know how many classes I actually passed. Yikes. I was totally capable of doing it. But I had so much emotional garbage on my soul, I couldn't even think straight. I wish I could pull back to those moments and tell myself how much healing I needed before I could go forward. There was too much that had never been dealt with. When I got to college, the stress and the realization that there was something deeply wrong with me, coupled with the ignorance of not knowing how to address it, really left me hurting.

I left Moscow. I quit. I went home. I am still so disappointed with my choices.

All these years later, my head still hangs low. I have measured myself on the same expectation ruler I had when I graduated high school. I have absolutely torn myself down emotionally and mentally. I am worthless. I am a failure. I am no good. I am ugly. I am fat. I am a bad wife. I am a bad mother. I am a mean person. You're a loser, baby! I am not the successful girl everyone thought I was. I am a fraud. I am not smart. I am not outstanding or exceptional. I am just Dana. And, as I have preached to myself over and over again, 'just Dana' is not enough.

To this day, I struggle with accepting myself as I am. I devalue myself whenever possible. It absolutely blows me away that there is someone out there who will take me as I am. Someone who sees me and sees his perfect creation. My eyes well up with tears as I type now. *Deep Breath*

Through Christ, I have hope.

A shiny sliver of hope beckoning my soul.

Recall the first scripture I learned, Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be brave and of good courage. Do not be afraid; nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go." Does that not totally apply to my life? This God has seen me screw up like no other. And here he is telling stupid, worthless, ugly, not good enough me, "DO NOT GIVE UP!"

I have carried this baggage for years. As much as it has been my enemy, it has been my armor, my excuse. I have been loaded down under this heaping pile of crap for thirty years. Picture real, live crap. It makes for a great visual. Now, picture me under it. That's what I've been living like. Keeping this crap strapped to my back so I can't move forward, because I know, I've already decided that if I do, I could possibly fail and I don't want to take the heartache anymore. You can definitely believe that it has surely kept people away from me as well. Would you want to hug someone with a bunch of crap strapped to them?

The biggest realization I went through when I began this transition to Christianity, was that God was with me. He was there to work for me and to carry my worries. He was going to take care of me. I would always have whatever I needed and He has my best interests in mind. To have the weight of all that crap off my shoulders, I felt like I could float through the sky. I felt hope. God has given me hope. Hope that I can still make something of myself with Him on my side. With Him at the wheel. With Him giving me the strength to lift myself up, brush the pain, the sadness, the hurt, the disappointment, and the fear off, and keep on keepin' on. The thought that maybe 'just Dana' is enough for this world brings me so much joy. I am the way I am because He wants me to be this way and it is a GOOD thing. He has a plan just for me. I am humbled. I feel loved. I feel awesome!

For the first time in years, I have confidence. At first, I didn't really want to acknowledge this. I've always devalued myself. I have finally realized that He has given me gifts and talents and He wants me to use them for Him! If I accept Him, I accept that I am of Him, by Him, and for Him and that includes acknowledging myself as He does in a joyful, purposeful way. I tell you what, I can't do that for myself. I can't. I can, however, if it's FOR HIM! I have confidence in myself as I haven't felt in years. Years!

For instance, these days, and probably always, running felt like punishment to me. I hated it. Sometimes I could enjoy it - all the endorphins oozing out - but mostly it was work. And I guess I'm weak in that area. I didn't think I could run. I didn't think I could do it, I was too out of shape, too old, too slow, bad knees, blah, blah, blah... Lately I have noticed a lot of friends who run and I have wanted to try it, but have been so intimidated by it and probably mostly lazy. The other day, I ran a mile. A whole mile! I did it! With God!

The knowledge that our Creator, our Savior, our Counselor, our Guide, our God, THE One, the big D.A.W.G! That guy! Him! He is with me in spirit! And with God, all things are possible. And that includes running a mile. The mile is not the miracle. Anyone can probably run a mile if they had to. The miracle is that my faith in God to be with me, gave me the confidence that I could really do it! The faith 'can move a mustard seed thing!' Something I would not have done at all for the rest of my life, probably.

My joy of accomplishing something I didn't think I could do is even more rich because I am able to rejoice in Him! Give praise to Him! Give thanks to Him! As my dear friend helped me learn, it is not that He requires us to give Him praise, but you will find the happiest moments in your life are exceedingly more enriching and they will naturally accompany thanks and praise to Him. It just happens. I don't know how to explain it, almost. It's beyond words. You will feel joyful. Not happiness, which is a fleeting emotion. You will feel joy.

I have walked with Christ for two months or so now. I have been up and down and back way up and then way back down. Satan is working hard on me! One of my friends told me that she thought life was tougher as a Christian. I couldn't disagree more that first week. I thought it was cake! Sit back, relax, love God, and He takes care of the rest. Then life happened. And, I had to retract my thought about Christian life being easy. It's hard to keep your motives in check, your thoughts Godly, your mind renewed in the Word. Before I wanted to live a good life. Now, I want a Godly life. It's tougher than God makes it look!

I've found that as much as I thought being religious was just going to church on Sunday, being a Christian is a living, breathing, spiritual philosophy you practice every moment of every day. I yell at my kids less. That in itself is a testimony to Christ! My life perspective is evolving and that changes your thoughts, your actions, your outlook, and your attitude. I laugh with my kids more. I feel kinda bad sayin' this, but I actually like my kids more now. I appreciate them.
Before I started my life with God, I really didn't love my life as a mom. I saw a lot of burden in that role! I loved the magical moments, but not the everyday stuff. I saw myself as a slave to two children sometimes. As harsh as that sounds, that's what it seemed like. It felt so demeaning. I didn't feel the joy of serving them as their mother as I do now.

The values, beliefs, and concepts of the Bible and Christianity that I have learned have been applied to my life and it makes the biggest difference. Some of the patience I have doesn't feel forced or fake like it would have felt before. It feels almost natural. I can't help but be compelled to believe that there is some super natural work being done here by the Spirit of Christ within my soul. When you study the bible, go to church, meet to talk God with friends, it enhances that awareness you have toward living a Godly life. You carry that awareness in your daily life. Instead of being a brat with a crappy attitude, you choose to give it to God, stay positive, and let Him give you strength. Instead of being stressed about money, you pray that God will take care of the situation. It may not come in the form you expect, but it will come. Instead of being jealous, you have love for your competition. Instead of worrying about your woes, you long to help a friend you love. Friends that you've met through Christ, who love you, who never have judged you, or look at you any differently when they hear the deepest darkest parts of your past. Being a Christian is not just going to church on Sunday. It is a way of life.

God wants my soul. He wants my heart. Only when I give up all that old way of living, thinking, and being will I be able to give myself to Him completely and Him to me. If one part of my heart still carries my crappy baggage that means I have not let Him in to every part of my soul. My relationship with Him is limited. I have decided that I want all the God I can get.

I am ready to let go. To let go of my self-inflicted pain, guilt, and frustrated life. I am ready to be free of these footholds Satan has on me. I am ready to expose myself as I am. I want the fullest experience possible in this life and to me, there is higher purpose that lies within our Creator. Doesn't he work in amazing ways?

God reveals himself to you in new forms all the time. Yesterday, I was driving home from Boise and though it was a chilly day, the sun was so warm. My left cheek was red from exposure. I loved it. I was mesmerized how God created the sun, and something that is like at least one hundred miles away or so could make me feel warm to the touch. I know it's much more than that distance (isn't it??!?)! And then, out of nowhere, I decided that gravity was actually a pretty good idea. I think I really enjoy gravity. Keeping stuff glued to the earth. Who woulda thought?

I would have never appreciated the glory of these simple, obvious things in our daily life without appreciating the Creator behind them. I will say, however, that today as I was jogging to my van, it was windy and rainy, I felt my butt cheeks sort of flop. I decided that instead of blame myself and crappy diet, I would urge God to modify gravity to a more bodily enhancing one with fewer effects on boobies and butts. And probably testicles, too! Mental imagery is sometimes not as desirable as others, is it? =)

I think God probably has a sense of humor. I can't help but see the irony in my story. The lesson I needed to learn the most is the one I feared the most. Needing to understand my value as "Dana the non-winner." Or "Dana the mostly loser." It's okay to be those things! It took me walking through the fire of failure, and the following years of guilt and self-loathing for me to finally find God and realize He loves "Just Dana." The person that I am afraid of being the most is the one He loves... just as she is. And, here I am world! Praise God!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


As I've been reading my super duper wonderful book, "Following God With All Your Heart" by Elizabeth George, I've been faithfully doing as she recommends-reading and memorizing scripture, staying in prayer, meditating on God's word. I'm so new at this Christian thing and found her advice really helpful for starter outters. I've realized what God's will is for my life. It's no big secret, by the way. It's right smack dab in front of all of us and we're too dumb to see it. At least I was.

Anyways, Dana is to the part about submission. Boy, this is a tough one. I won't lie. The most evident form of submission it talks about is a wife submitting to her husband. Ohmygoodness! Um. Well, let's see. How about not, Elizabeth? Why is this concept so hard for me to understand? I can respect deferring to others, choosing to let them have authority and control. But, I really gotta step down below the Tobster and let him run this show?

Let's see, my husband cannot find the salsa without my help much less lead our family's way through this journey of life into eternity. Right? Seriously, he's um, a man! I thought this was a 50/50 gig I signed up for. All my life I've been told we're equals. But, the more I learn about submission, the more I pray and read on it, the more I think there is something here. And, as I type that I cannot believe that my mind is actually saying it's a good thing to be a servant of my husband. Either God is working in my life or I am smoking the crack and don't know it!

What exactly is submission? A few definitions I read in the book were "to bend" or "no resistance." I also think of it as serving. Ranking yourself below someone else. My husband always tries these fancy Brazilian Ju Jitsu moves on me. Yes, I am the guinnea pig. He gets me all twisted and pretzeled up and then puts the pressure on the ankle which in turn puts pressure on the neck and spleen and the opponent must "submit." He knows he's been beat. Submit or be broken.

In the book it discusses a few different submissive relationships including children to their parents and servants of God to each other. The thing about submitting, unlike in MMA, is that it's not losing. It's surrendering. It's liberating oneself to God. Allowing him to take the control, saying you are here to work as His lowly servant. And in that submission, knowing and believing that He will provide and take care of you. Elizabeth also points out how submission is a CHOICE. That choice starts at home, with our family, wives to husbands and husbands to wives, and extends to others from there.

We live in a world, as I have realized through the Beth Moore study of Daniel, that wants us to focus on ourselves. Today I am going to do what I can to submit myself to His people, the people I love, and serve them with energy, grace, and joy. If we submit to God, we will NOT reach a breaking point because we are in His hand.

Although I don't know where the line between 'doormat' and 'lowly servant' divides, I pray that I will gain the wisdom that will guide me to being a a great wife, a great mom, a great daughter, and a great servant of God.

And, just think, "You GET to clean toilets today!" What an honor to serve God's people! It's all about perspective.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I've got the ticket!

I can't explain it. I don't know how. I pray the words will come from my mind to the computer with grace and ease, but it's not exactly working out that way. In fact, this is my third attempt. I've CTRL+A'ed to delete what I've written a few times now. My husband, the computer geek of the family, would be super thrilled that I remembered that shortcut. He knows them all. SUPER big geek. Back to the point. I'm concerned I'm gonna screw this up. Luckily, there is an 'edit' option! I'm worried that people will judge my thoughts, my ideas, my past. I'm worried that I'm not good enough. I'm worried about stepping on people's toes. I'm worried about a lot! My writing has always been so personal to me and this is the first time I'm sharing it so publicly, I think. Sorta wearing my heart on my sleeve. The good and the bad parts of the ol' ticker.

I wanted to post a most memorable blog, something compelling, perhaps even moving to someone out there. Okay, ultimately, I hoped someone besides my mom and husband would read it. I would throw my two girls in that audience, but they can't read, yet. So, we'll start with two. My hope is that through my story, through my pretty boring and average life story, I might just change the world. Isn't there a scripture or saying about having faith as small as a mustard seed and being able to move mountains? I kind of see my story about the size of that mustard seed. The thought in the back of my mind is that maybe, just maybe it can move a mole hill. Or a nice slope. Or, some geological mass of some sort.

Recently, my husband and I found faith in Jesus Christ. We, um, do not have the friends, lifestyle, and such that one would think we were fans of the Savior. We are those people that used to laugh at Mormon Missionaries and also midgets. And anyone we classified as different or lesser than us. I so hate to admit that about my history, but it's true. I would say that if one - either missionary or midget- fell on his bicycle, we'd be the ones in the car laughing at him and not the ones helping. "Where is your God now, Brother Boyle?" Toby had an experience with Brother Boyle at his apartment when we just met. That is neither here nor there. The point is, and you can ask any of our friends, he is, I am, we are the *LAST* people you would expect at the alter under a large South African black pastor named Ezekiel accepting Christ into our lives.
Upon completion of my prayer for forgiveness, acceptance and eternal life, the only feeling that consumed my body was how unworthy I was. I felt so terribly humbled. I watched "The Passion of the Christ" and with every strike of the whips I wept. I felt so guilty. I could hardly believe that I would be accepted. The following days I felt elated. Joyous! And relieved.

I don't know how it works or why it works. It's sort of like electricity. I know it turns stuff on, makes stuff light up and junk, but I don't have any clue how electrons and protons and neutrons work. Maybe those are atom parts, not electricity parts. See, that's how teeny tiny my brain is. But, I love electricity! I would know if it were missing. There are lots of things I don't understand but I can surely tell you they work. Something about believing in Christ has made my life work.

We were driving to Boise and I told my Toby that one thing I thought I'd learned in my ripe old age of 30, is that the majority is usually right. Of course this is not always true and please don't hold this thought against me. Maybe re-phrasing it to say the majority is usually onto something. The majority of people in the world believe in a higher power. We believed in it. We thought. We didn't know who or what it was, but we said prayers every night to it with our girls. I think we called it "God", even. We knew all too well that there was a higher power above us and among us. Something connecting us to each other. Divine intervention. Karma. We called it all kinds of things. One thing we surely did not call it was Jesus!

Because, you see, Christians are lame. And losers. And bible thumpers. And holy rollers. And snobs. So we thought. They were boring, uptight and judgemental hypocrites! And probably not fans of Will Ferrell and his work. You were either an Evangelist, weird, or really weird. Most of the Christian friends we had were Ex-Christian or sort-of Christian. And gosh dangit, you can't deny evolution!

So, here we are driving to Boise and I think to myself that maybe we need to nurture our spiritual side. I had finally got in a regular exercise routine. Against my maternal protectiveness, my Toby trains to fight mixed martial arts. He has fought a few times. He is physcially extremely well fit. (Okay, he's hot. That's right, ladies. That's MY husband!) We both exercise our brains quite a bit, too. My business keeps me mentally challenged (Mentally challenged does not sound intelligent, evidently I am mentally challenged?) and Toby's job keeps his brain working. Plus, we watch A LOT of TV. That makes us practically liken to Einstein. I could process a crime scene if called to do so. Thanks CSI. The physical and the mental were going. But, we still had that dang spiritual side dragging us down. It certainly wasn't lifting us up.

Toby, in his very good husband obedience, said that maybe I was right. Maybe we should look for a path to God. We believed that there were many to choose from. We didn't think that Mormons, Catholics, Buddhists, or Jewish were right--- we thought they would all lead to the same place in the end. It's just the path that works for you. We thought maybe there was something for us. So, that was it and life was good, and we went about the next few weeks like nothing was different.

But, something was different. The seed had been planted. It had started sprouting right there in my soul. Oneday, this God named It sent a cute little messenger into my flower shop. Something in me made me ask her about God. I asked a little about Jesus and my ignorance of the man really blew me away. How could I be so stupid? I knew of him, but didn't know him and it was clear I didn't know his story. That day that little plant of God in my heart got a little more water and it grew just a touch.

That night I did what every spiritual seeking person does. I googled "Jesus." I followed a couple links and read about Him. I was still extremely skeptical. However, I was able to first accept him as a moral philosopher as one website indicated he could be. 'Jesus for Dummies' or something close to it, I think. Anyways, that night my spirit grew a little bit more. I had read about accepting Him into your heart. It's very good of the website publishers. At the bottom of each page they asked if you were ready to commit your life to Christ. Good spin. Marketing wizards, they are! It was just enough to make me start thinking on the process of accepting Him and wondering if it really were just as easy as one little teeny tiny click of my mouse.

The next day, we're at the salad bar in the pizza place. We're talking about God, knowing him, finding him, and I say to Toby, "I think it could be Jesus Christ." At that moment something reached into my chest, grabbed my heart, and squeezed it. I felt this jolt, almost as if I lost my breath. There was something about it. At that moment I knew. I knew that He was the One. At the same moment that I internally processed what I had just felt, Toby could have passed out from shock. He was not exactly down with the Jesus. I think it took about two hours for the blood to circulate in his body. That was a Thursday.

I felt so awesome the rest of the day. I thought, if anyone had just sipped what I just tasted, they would want more and more and more. I felt so comforted. All of the worry I had about the world faded away. I had a bounce in my step. The realization that I do not have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders exhilerated me! I was a tired woman! I had been stressed out, sick, and tired for 10 years straight. Probably my whole life. And for the first time in a long time, I wanted this life. I was excited for this life. I was joyful. And all it took was a teeny tiny ounce of belief.

It took until Friday for Toby to admit he had hope in Christ. He wanted to believe for himself, not just because I had. I think he was just being difficult. Like I would lead him astray! He never has trusted my driving. I can understand where he was coming from and I know now that coming to God is an individual process. But, I was worried. I worried that he thought I was wrong. That he thought I was loco en da cabeza. I worried more about what he thought than what God thought and that realization scared me! More than a couple times I questioned my sanity. I seriously thought maybe I had been brainwashed and didn't know it. Or, that I was so desperate that I was believing something I shouldn't if I were sane. Ya know? I really thought maybe I had, indeed, finally gone crazy.

My special messenger that had come to the flower shop had invited us to go to her church. And, before church, even invited us over to her house for dinner. We were so nervous getting ready. We had always been accquaintences with the messenger and her spouse, we just didn't realize that they would someday invite us into their home on a personal level. We were so intimidated. These were older, more professional, sober people. Mostly only non-sober people invited us to their homes! We thought maybe they were some weird clan and were going to try some weird stuff on us. We had no clue what to expect.

That night we knew. We knew we had to learn more. We knew we had to keep digging. We knew that we were onto something bigger than any of us could possibly explain. We were on fire. We walked into church on Sunday and were greeted by more people than we could imagine. A lot of them we already knew. It felt like we were home. It was a wonderful welcome. And, they were not weird! Mostly. Okay, there were a few weird-o's, but that's a given. Anyways, we and our girls, were welcomed into this magical place and it was like the service was tailor made just for us. Just what we needed to hear. Later that day we bought bibles at Walmart. I didn't know if I was cheapening God by buying them at Walmart, but it seems to have gone okay so far. We didn't know where to begin once we had them anyways!

One thing I learned real quick, was that I don't know anything about the bible. I know basic stories. But, very few details. I really thought that the dude in the whale, and the parting of the sea, were all folklore and people really didn't believe that they happened, but they were exaggerations of things that could happen if God wanted them to. But, then they'd be pointless, so now I, too, believe some dude was in a fish for three days because you know, you just don't put God in a box! I don't believe because I am a follower, I believe, because I now believe in Him. With God all things are possible.

A couple days, I thought maybe I lost faith. I tried and tried but could not, no matter how hard I tried, get that feeling back. That mountain top feeling of being with Him and knowing life was good. I felt anxious, tired, irritable. I realized, through a very casual, honest chat with God on my flower shop steps, that God does not just give himself out to the loudest prayee, you have to work for him! I found him again through His word. I memorized my first scripture Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be brave and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." You know what this means? In all those moments I felt so alone and wondered where God was, He was there. Right there beside me. He knew I needed to go through that and he needed me to find my way back to Him. He needed me to show my faithfulness. And boy, I have been rewarded in ways I cannot express.

I have friends today. Genuine friends. I have released all of the skeletons in my closet. The light has shone on me so bright and I have nothing to hide. I can be free through Him. I am liberated! It's better than not wearing a bra! My family is coming together. We are turning off the TV and turning to each other. We are spending our time reading the Word, reading empowering books instead of watching meaningless shows on TV. We are joining other Christians in fellowship after church getting ideas on parenting, religion, and life. My business is booming. A blessing I didn't even ask for!

I went and got another book. Which I am totally crazy about even though it received one bad review from someone who said it was Calvinistic which I do not know what that means. But, I do know the book bears good fruit, so who cares if its Calvin or Hobbes, right? I loved it and it motivated me to become the mother and wife that I always wanted to be, but wouldn't be and that I griped about being. The one that cleans house and stuff. I hated being that wife! I hated being the one who had to do it all! Now, I can see so clearly that it is my very special gift from God to care for these wonderful people. And, it's not like I'm a slave or someone's property. I have wants and needs that are fulfilled by Him! I know that if I take care of this special family He has given me, all of my hopes and dreams will be fulfilled in His plan. He knows what I need. And better yet, I believe He will provide.

So, here we are in this wonderful bliss of new Christian life. Trying to process everything. We have to learn everything to begin with. Followed by applying it. Applying it gets tricky. Putting God at the forefront of your mind all the time. Purposefully making every decision with Him in the forefront of your actions.

We have the ticket. The promise of salvation. A seat on the train to the eternity. I want more than the ticket. I want to choose not only a good life, but a Godly life. We can all be forgiven - it's a gift. But, this life is a great gift, also. This awesome opportunity to touch, feel, hear, see, and smell the world. I am here for a reason and now I can say with confidence that I am here to find faith. I am here to shine the light on his people that He has so awesomely shined on me. I am here to love, to play, to persevere thick and thin in His name. I am here to serve His people.

This life is so much more than getting a ticket.