What I Found At The End

I have a confession to make. For years I avoided reading the Psalms in my personal devotion time. I think that somewhere in my prideful heart I assumed that the Psalms were for people who couldn’t handle the rest of the Bible. In my mind they had become a kind of “Bible Lite.”

This attitude was full of pride, obviously, and since I’m confessing this to you, you’ve probably guessed that at some point I must have had a change of heart – and you’d be right. It wasn’t many years ago that I reached the end of myself.

Have you been there? The uttermost, absolute end of yourself?

While I stood there at the end–the end of me, the end of me knowing where my life was heading, what my purpose was, what to do and not to do, say and not to say, it was there, in that place of utter desperation and brokenness that I discovered The Psalms.

Oh where had they been all my life? How could I have possibly disdained them? Why did I never devour them before? What a prideful fool I had been.

So there at the end I opened the psalms and I read.

I read one after another and each spoke volumes to my shattered heart. When my prayers had dried and my pain was too deep to find the words to speak I read the Psalms aloud to God, my Savior. The Psalms themselves became my very own words spoken from my heart and through my tears. They were my cries for help. They were my cries of pain. They were my cries of confession. And at last, they were my cries of Hope.

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It saddens me that I had to reach the end of myself to discover the beauty and significance of the Psalms. I love the entire Word of God and every verse is precious to me, but no matter what else I read each day in the Word, I always first open to the Psalms.

If you have not yet discovered the joy of reading the Psalms or if your heart is hard, or broken or maybe you’ve run out of words to cry out to God, there is hope. It’s not too late. I encourage you to take the Bible in your hands, open up to Psalm 1 and start reading.

Read day after day until you reach the last one, and when the final verse of Psalm 150 is read, flip back and begin again.

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®

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I Got This

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“Lord, Help me to be a safe driver for my children.”

That’s a weird prayer.

Definitely one I’ve never prayed before, but last night as I was driving through my little town with two precious angels in the back seat, I suddenly found myself praying those words.

That’s weird, I thought. I’m an excellent driver with an excellent driving record. I’m not known for being reckless, I don’t text/drink and drive. I don’t get distracted or turn around and discipline my children (even if they need it) while driving.

When I drive, I just drive. Carefully.

For an all-around good driver, it seemed like a strangely random prayer.

Not 60 Seconds Later while driving on a slightly larger road I saw headlights coming out of the darkness, straight at us. For a moment I was utterly bewildered. At last, my brain accepted that a car was being driven on the wrong side of the median strip – he was driving southbound in a northbound lane. MY lane.

With plenty of room to spare I pulled over to the shoulder and laid on the horn (s/he should know s/he’s doing something utterly wrong) and kept driving.

There was no screeching of tires, or close calls, but it was a very dark strip of road and a potentially dangerous situation.

That little, random prayer suddenly made sense. Do I think my little prayer saved us? No. Not at all. It just seemed to be God’s way of reminding me that,

He sees where I’m heading. He knows everything that is coming at me – and He’s like, I got this.

“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
    nor his ear too dull to hear.” Is. 59:1

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Dana’s Story

The following was written by my dear cousin and life-long friend Dana. She shared it yesterday on Facebook and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind me sharing it here at Clothed with Joy. She agreed.

Dana embodies being clothed with joy more than anyone I have ever met.

When you read this brief summary of her story you will catch a glimpse of what I mean. I came into Dana’s life three years after she was born, but from my early teen years we were always together (except for the brief period of time when she stole the love of my life at my thirteenth birthday party – but whatever. I’m over it. 😉 )  I can tell you from the point of view of a first hand account that she has sugarcoated much of the agony (yes agony – I was there, I saw it on her face) she experienced during her first 21 years.

Here is her story:

This morning, as I was praying with my kids on the way to school, I was convicted by the shallowness of my own prayer even before the final “Amen.” Here’s a recap. Help my kids to be nice. Help them to pass their tests. Help my husband and kids to be healthy. Help us all to be happy. I used fancier words, but the message was clear. God, I want everything to be neat and tidy; no struggles, please. Seriously?

42 years ago, I was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that usually hits kids under the age of 5. Devastating news for my parents at the time? Absolutely. Over the next 17 years, my mom and I spent countless hours together in doctors offices and hospitals. The end result? A genuine, honest, real relationship between me and my mom right smack through my teenage years and into adulthood. What mom doesn’t want that?

At age 14, I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and was the proud owner of big ugly back brace. Some of the perks? I got to shop in the boys department at JC Penneys and wear hideous baggy pants with elastic waists. Despite the brace, the curve continued to get worse and I had back surgery at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia. The hospital was full of girls with scoliosis and boys with broken necks. It would make for a cool love story if that was where Dennis and I met, but it wasn’t. The whole experience did, however, give me a real life look into the lives of these other kids. They were kids just like me. Many of them confined to wheelchairs, but their hopes and dreams were often just the same as mine.

That big clunky back brace may have made guys run in the opposite direction, but it little by little prepared my heart to one day run into Dennis’ arms, paralyzed or not. The cancer may have taken away my ability to get pregnant, but it carved a space in my heart for adoption and two precious children the Lord knew would one day call me “Mom.” So here’s to the end of praying for a struggle-free life and a renewed desire to pray for the Lord to use whatever struggles He allows to touch our family, for our good and His glory!

I love you my beautiful friend. I'm so thankful for the example you are.

I love you my beautiful friend. I’m so thankful for the example you are.

I cried this week…

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I was a missionary for 12 years. I vividly remember the emotions my friend A.L.F. is describing in her post, “I cried this week…” I was in a position, as she is, to lead hundreds, sometimes thousands – it is a lonely place up there all alone and thoughts of throwing in the towel are never far from your mind. After over a decade of that life, no wonder I tend to write humor…

A Living Flame

I cried this week. I almost never cry. I am not one who prides myself on not being a crier but I just don’t respond to emotion often by crying. Life has been hard though. I have cried more in these first months of 2014 then I have in years. It is not brought on by shallow, petty or even circumstantial things but by deep hurt. Mostly the hurt of being misunderstood.

I am thankful for the honor and position that God has given me. It has allowed me to make a great impact in my sphere in the world I live in. Being in a place of position does have great disadvantages. Often people in ministry are placed on a pedestal. It is not a pedestal that we have asked to be placed on. It is often a pedestal of honor. However when you are on a pedestal you…

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Praise the One Who Paid

My children and I always pray before they leave for school, well, usually I do the praying. Yesterday my little P spoke up as soon as I said “amen.”

P: “Mom, I want to pray.”

“Dear Jesus, I’m so sorry we killed you on the cross.”

I’m not sure how she put that all together, I hadn’t mentioned it in my prayer.

Praise & Paid. Today, especially, I remember these words. (Good Friday)

He didn’t have to pay.

Sometimes the words of my heart are already written.

“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”-Elvina M. Hall (1865)

“Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead.” -Kristian Stanfill

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” -Psalm 105:1

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OhO

Beginnings

I’ve shared a few times what prompted me to start (and keep on) writing this blog (Why I Blog, Why Do YOU Write and Clothed with Joy.) One fruit of blogging has been the opportunity to be a writer for a faith based blog called Moms of Faith. Starting today my articles will be featured every Wednesday and Saturday.

This is very exciting, yet so intimidating at the same time. The articles I write for Moms of Faith are a different side of me than is usually seen here at Clothed with Joy – a much more vulnerable side. Plus, I’m writing for someone else and a bigger audience – so I’m sure that plays into the shaky elbow feeling as well.

My first article is called “When Everything is Not Awesome.” Even if you are Not a mom,take a minute and hop on over there – there’s no check in required, you will not need to show your stretch marks as proof of motherhood.

My hope is that the words I write hold messages of truth, blessing and healing that transcend gender, marital status, parenthood and belief system.

Find link here: When Everything is Not Awesome

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Hide the Evidence

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This has been a rough day. I feel kind of stressed out and I don’t know why. Even if I had a reason, I rarely stress, so this is weird for me. So weird in fact, that I spent quite a bit of the morning considering all possible reasons for stress-like symptoms:

  • PMS (sorry, TMI, but the #1 culprit) – nope
  • Finances – I have none, soooo, nope
  • I’ve said or done something I regret – not that I recall
  • Relationship angst – no man on this horizon, so, once again, nope

Having rejected the usual suspects it occurred to me that the unsettled feeling in my chest could be due to lack of sleep. As I recall, my sleep was disturbed the past three nights for the following reasons:

Night 1: G vomits on bathroom floor

Night 2: P has burning diarrhea (I told her not to eat those spicy Indian Cheetos)

Night 3: P wet the bed

It seems possible that I am sleep deprived. As per usual.

This afternoon, once P went to school, I drove over to Target to pick up a few things. I still felt bleh and decided I needed something in the ice cream genre. On the way home I visited two Thrift Stores (believe me, no one finds this weirder than me) and a Rita’s. Throughout the day I had been praying, the thrift shopping therapy and Chocolate Blendini were starting to kick in, and by mid-afternoon I did feel better, which brings me to my point.

ble 2

This weekend I cleaned out my car. Yesterday I noticed a red McDonald’s Fry envelope under a seat, normally I wouldn’t care but the car is now garbage free so I threw it into one of my grocery bags and brought it in the house. I left the bags on the bottom step and sat down in my office. In the meantime my kids filed in from school.

As if on cue, three of my four children immediately spotted the McDonald’s wrapper through the grocery bag and accused me of going to McDonald’s without them.

I totally expected this reaction.

My children couldn’t find their toothbrush if you stuck it in their mouth (believe, me, I’m convinced they would be dead without me) but they can spot a McDonald’s wrapper a quarter mile away. Blindfolded. Through a brick wall. Concealed in a bank safe.

I’ve learned that I must hide the evidence. Evidence of any sort of treat I splurged on while the children were not in my presence. It Cannot Just Be Throw Recklessly Away!

They. Will. Find. It.

It must be disposed of in a place they will never ever venture.

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Outdoor trashcan, it’s best if you lift a trash bag and slide the contraband underneath.

You must be sneakier than them.

I feel better now.

 

I have no fear of my children reading this blog and finding out my secrets. Never gonna happen. My parents don’t even read it, and I’m cool with that. No biggie. You know, w/e. 

😉

DIGNITY

While at the nail salon yesterday my family saw on the news that there had been an attack at our local mall. We were, of course, intrigued. As it turns out, the attack did not happen IN the mall, but rather, in the mall parking lot.

Two women, while fighting over a parking spot, came to blows. In the end, one woman bit a piece of the other woman’s finger off.

Now I apologize for getting graphic, but imagine my children’s horror. This is why we don’t watch the news.

The girls were, of course, full of questions. I was appalled and disgusted.

G: “Mommy, why did the woman bite the other women’s finger off?”

Me: “Because they are low class…and they don’t know Jesus.”

My go-to response to the kinds of questions my kids ask relating to the meanness of people is: “They don’t know Jesus.” And I believe it to be true. But yesterday, in the moment, I just spit it out: Low Class.

While making dinner I started to feel a little guilty about my “low class” comment. I considered how I would feel saying the same thing about those women to my blog audience.

I confess, I regret my words. But not my feelings.

The truth is, those women acted without dignity, and that is the word I should have used when explaining it to my children. DIGNITY.

dignity def

I realize this is not my usual “blog lite.” This is the full sugar (or vinegar) version of Clothed with Joy.

Yet, I believe that being clothed with JOY goes hand in hand with being clothed with DIGNITY. It means holding your head up when you have no earthly reason to. It means knowing you are loved and valued by the Creator of all things and that seeking worldly validation, in the form of your “right” to a parking spot or any other way, no longer matters.

There is Freedom when you no longer need to fight for yourself because there is One who fights for you. And with the Freedom, there is JOY.

Now that I’ve written this I discover there should be an amendment to the prayers I pray for my daughters.

Dignity correct

Lord, clothe my girls with strength and dignity.

Linking up with #TheLoft!

Linking up with #TheLoft!

Conversations with Myself

Getting a massage is a good time to think of blog posts. During my Mom’s Day Out massage on Saturday I wrote five blog posts in my head. Yay me.

I’ve forgotten four of them.

This is the problem – I do a lot of decent writing in my head, I even do good writing Out of my head. But if I don’t write it down, it’s gone.

Much of my best writing is done while having conversations with myself. That’s just a nice way of saying – I talk to myself.

For years, whenever I was talking to myself in my daughter G.’s presence she thought I was praying. I may have led her to that conclusion…

G: “Mommy, who are you talking to?”

Me: “uh, Jesus.”

The conversations I had with myself (usually in the car) in the presence of my daughter were technically not prayers – since I was talking to myself, but in my defense,

God.      Is.      Everywhere.

He hears my every thought, word and random with-self conversation and oral blog post…

…yeah, even I’m not buying it. And somewhere around age six & a half, G. stopped buying it too.

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