Well, here we go. I'm going to do my best to outline what I have been going through the last few months of my life and what made me decide to implement some life changes...
Before I start, let me give you all an update on Steve's mom and dad. Mom is doing better, but still has a LONG way to go. Steve's dad went into surgery to have his defribrillator inserted late this morning. I went to the hospital to sit with the family for a while. The surgery ended up taking nearly 4 hours. It was very difficult and there were complications. Apparently the doctor didn't get the wires placed exactly where he wanted them, but everything came out fine and now it's just the recovery. While we were in the waiting room, I was witness to the people sitting behind us being told that their loved one did not make it through surgery. It was awful to hear and it was very surreal to be a witness to someone's life being changed so dramatically.
That's a pretty good segue way into my story...
For quite some time, I have not been where I need to be in many areas of my life. Most of it has to do with my spiritual life. I had tried over and over to pray more, read more, study (not just read) the Bible more. And I'd try and do well on these things for a while but then I'd miss a day, then I'd get back on track. Then I'd miss another day or two but get back...you know how it goes. Eventually, I'd give up trying...at least for a while. After a period of time feeling guilty, lost and frustrated, I'd try again. And I'd fail again.
My life as a mother and wife was the same way. I'd think I wanted to do better with being a good wife. Being married nearly 12 years, you just lose some of the romance that you once had if you aren't careful. I'd decide I wanted to do better with that and I would for a while. I'd make a mental note to do something nice for Steve or do something that I wouldn't normally do and then I'd forget and slip back into my comfortable life again.
I'd promise that I'd do better at reading to Jenna, at playing more with her rather than sitting in front of the TV or the computer. I'd do that for a few days and then I'd think I was entitled to a few hours in front of the TV. Before I know it, I'd be yelling at her to be quiet so I could hear the TV.
Then there was the physical part of it. I'd try to go buy clothes and I'd get depressed over how overweight I'd gotten. I'd join Weight Watchers, lose a few pounds, gain a few, lose a few and then get frustrated that I couldn't eat what I wanted and just give up.
And somewhere along the way, things went from bad to worse.
Spiritually, I was as dead as I'd ever been. I just gave up trying to do any kind of Bible study. I did my morning devotional which took about 5 minutes and that was it. No praying, no nothing. I'd still have a good time in Sunday worship. The music still brought my emotions to the surface and I still loved to hear the pastor preach. I'd even pray during the prayer and altar time. But then, I noticed that started to taper off too. I got to where even though I enjoyed the music, it didn't touch me like it used to. And I found myself making mental to-do lists during the sermon rather than listening. And it wasn't long until the fact I was SO far away from God just didn't even bother me anymore. And KNOWING that it didn't bother me bothered me. But I didn't do anything about it. I just didn't care. I began to contemplate whether I wanted to even continue going to church seeing that I was getting nothing out of it.
Maritally, my relationship with Steve became more like a roommate relationship. We were in a routine...get up, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed. And then the next day started it all over again. We were barely talking and while we weren't unhappy, the spark was missing. And again, I just didn't care to do anything about it. I figured it was the same as the spiritual things I was going through..."WHY BOTHER?? Not like anything's going to change anyway."
Physically, I really quit caring. I just ate what I wanted, when I wanted and I enjoyed every minute of it. I quit looking at myself in the mirror and I certainly didn't go clothes shopping. It got bad enough that I resigned myself to buying my clothes as Lane Bryant so that I would be comfortable. No reason to diet because I was just destined to be this size. Might as well enjoy the food while I could.
Even financially...I'd tell myself that I needed to not spend any money on wasteful things and things we really didn't need. And then I'd go to Target and spend $125 on just random stuff.
But outside of the spiritual slump, I think it was parental responsibilities that suffered most. Looking back on it now, it's almost more than I can take thinking of how badly I treated Jenna. It got to where I would find any excuse not to play with her. I'd just as soon as sit in her bedroom all night with the TV on so I could watch my TV or read or work on the computer undisturbed. I was so, SO short tempered with her. I was NOT being the parent I knew I could be.
It was almost like I was addicted to spending, food, eating, ignoring my family etc. I knew I needed to change, but I had failed in EVERY aspect so many times, that I decided there was no point in trying anymore. This is just the way I was destined to be.
I'm sure to most of my family and friends reading, this is probably a pretty big shock because I rarely let on to any of them (even my closest friends) what I was going through. I mean, why talk about it when nothing was going to make any difference? I had an idea that if I could get my spiritual life back on track, that the others would fall into place. But my spiritual life was probably what was the furthest off track.
And then, something happened...I was at church one Wednesday evening in August maybe? I was sitting in the hallway with Rachel waiting on the girls to get out of choir when a mutual friend of ours, Jamie, walked up and was just all aflutter about a new Bible study that she and Rachel had attended for the first time the night before. She asked me why I hadn't come since it was located right in the little town that I live in (as did she and Rachel). So, they invited me to the study and I decided right then, that this would be a good thing for me to do. I always try to participate in things that are happening in "the hill" because I really enjoy not having to commute 20+ minutes to get to and from activities. So, the next week, I picked up the study book and headed off to the Bible Study leader's house. She lives just in the subdivision across the street from me and it's probably only about 200 yards from me as the crow flies. I didn't know hardly anyone in this study. I knew the leader mostly from seeing her singing in the choir and from our Thailand trip. I knew a few of the other ladies by sight, but not personally. But I can honestly say that this group and study turned my life around. It was a Beth Moore study and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I didn't miss one Tuesday night! And just so you know, the facilitator of this study, who graciously opened her home to all of us women is Leigh Ann whose blog link you can find right here on my page (extremely entertaining writer, so be sure and check her out).
It didn't happen overnight. In fact, it took the entire study before I realized what I had been going through. I had allowed Satan to talk me in to living a defeated life. Everytime I tried and failed at changed, I was defeated a little more until I didn't have the courage or energy to try again. And that's EXACTLY what Satan wanted. He has nothing to worry about as long as you are sitting around on your rump not bothering to try. It was during that study that Beth Moore mentioned living a defeated life and that was the moment that Satan's attack was revealed. Very slowly, I realized I DID care about what was happening to me after all. And I wanted to change. But I wasn't going to make these pie in the sky promises to make a miraculous turnaround. I knew I could only change a tiny bit at a time if I wanted to succeed at all. For me, complacent = defeated. But not anymore.
I joined Weight Watchers and I have NO EXPECTATIONS from week to week. My first week's goal was simply to buy and take a multi-vitamin and TRY to eat better. Not to deprive myself of eveything that tasted good. I met my goal and lost a few pounds in the process.
I bought the Chronological Bible, the Apologetics Bible and the archaelogical Bible and I committed to read the Bible every day. And if I missed a night, then I committed to not give up but to keep trying again and again as long as it took me to be successful. Leigh Ann gave me some good advice and that was to not expect too much of myself in this area. If I didn't get to read in all three Bibles or missed a day or two or even three of reading, just to pick it back up and try again. I have kept this in mind as I go and so far, I've managed to read AND make notes in a journal I bought about the things I am learning. The new Bible Study has started and I am doing that nightly as well. My time with my Father is just wonderful now. I still have a LONG way to go, but I am definitely making my way back.
I try to pray every day. Not just a quick thanks, please help and forgive me prayer, but a real, ACTS prayer (adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication) on my way to work after dropping Jenna off. Some mornings, I forget or my cell rings, but I don't allow myself to feel defeated. I just pray when I do think about it or try again the next morning.
I'm praying for more patience with Steve and Jenna. And I can tell you, I feel the difference! I will look at Jenna and the word "patience" just comes to my mind and heart. I know it's God's nudge to remind me of my desire to become more patience and loving toward her.
Life is just improving all the way around. Last week during the video for our first week, Beth Moore talked about God pursuing us. And it was so crystal clear to me. I could see in my minds' eye, God pursuing me through my friends, Rachel and Jamie, by inviting me to this study last fall. During those long, dry months of my life, as far away as God seemed, He NEVER stopped pursuing me. I picture Him walking the halls of our church and standing near as He nudged Jamie and Rachel to invite me to the Bible study. And I wonder how many times He was there, coming after me over and over again, trying to encourage me to turn back to Him, but I just was too involved in myself to feel His tug.
Like I said, it has not been easy and I'm no where near where I need to be in any of these places of my life. But I did not end up where I was overnight and so I will not be able to dig my way out overnight.
I won't quit though.
Not this time.
Not ever again.
I've been pursued by the Father. And I'm going to do my best to pursue Him back.