Broken Hearts & Growing Stronger

My pastor told me awhile back that I had a ministry with broken women.

Huh?

Yes.  A Ministry.

But I’m broken…

That’s the kind God likes to use…

Okay…I’m in.  I have a ministry with broken women…

When you’re called to minister to the homeless, you go to a homeless shelter.  When you’re called to be a missionary to Mexico, you go to….Mexico.  But minister to broken women?  Where would I go?

Well I didn’t have to go very far.  All of my very close friends are broken, too.  (They would be the first to admit that.)

When I was in College, I used to go white water rafting on the Rogue River in Medford Oregon.  I remember the first time I went.  I was in the raft with my high school friend Cindy.  It was a pretty terrifying trip.  Every turn was something different.  We didn’t have a guide.  We didn’t have a map.  We just headed out and practically screamed the entire way.  Here’s the thing, the second trip wasn’t scary at all.  I pretty much knew where the twists and turns were.  I knew where the big rocks were.  That second trip, and every one after that, was a much better experience.

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You know where I’m going, yes?  When you’ve been down that river…

Being broken isn’t all that bad.  It’s the breaking process that is horrible.

A little over 2 years ago I started going to Crossfit.  I could barely lift a barbell (with no weights) I couldn’t run to the end of the driveway.  I couldn’t do a single sit-up.  My coach sat on my feet, and even then it was a huge struggle to squeeze out one.  I remember vividly getting that one sit-up done, and laying back down exhausted…spent.

Last week my coach was pushing me to do something really hard.  I looked over at her  and whined….almost crying…I hate this!  It’s HARD!!!  She sweetly smiled at me…and said…”Keep going.  This is making you stronger!”  I felt like throwing up.  I wanted to quit.  But she stood there…talking me through the last few minutes of the workout.  “Keep going…you can do this…you got this!”IMG_4518

Here’s the really cool thing.  It is making me stronger.  I can now lift a barbell easily.  (Okay…I’ll brag…I can lift 270 pounds now.)  100 sit-ups doesn’t scare me.  Everything she has put me through, from every squat, burpee, dead lift… to a weighted sit-up, it’s all designed to make me stronger…make me fitter.

Being broken is a lot like that. When we go through a season of breaking, a time of trials, challenges, and disappointments, we have an opportunity to either fail, quit or become stronger.  Being broken helps us build the muscles of our faith.  It can give us the caliber of strength we’ll need for what lies just around the corner.

When you’re in the middle of being broken, it’s hard to look up and see that you’re strengthening your muscle, so that you can lift more next time.  Or handle something far more devastating…  It all just hurts.

I’m here to tell you….you can do this.  I know it’s hard.  But this will strengthen you so that the next time something harder comes along…you’ll be able to get through it.

I wish there was an easier way to get stronger.  But the only way to get stronger is to lift heavy things.

What’s your heavy thing you’re lifting?

Here are some of the latest broken hearts I’ve witnessed from some of my friends and family:  Ovarian cancer that has spread throughout the body.  A husband who yells and screams at his wife as a response to his stress.  A spouse who’s been unfaithful.  A parent’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s.  A husband’s death due to suicide.  A child’s diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy.

Proverbs 3:5-6   Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

So now that I’m facing another custody challenge with another child, I’ve learned to put my trust in God.  My own strength is nothing in comparison to it being in the hands of my heavenly father.  Someone last week said, “You don’t seem to be too rattled over all this drama.  I guess you’ve been to this rodeo before…”

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My Crossfit Coach Heidi wearing the head band I designed.

Yes.  I’ve been to the rodeo.  I’ve already been down this river.  In reality, my muscles are much stronger.  I have a coach standing over me saying…”Keep going….you cans do this.  YOU GOT THIS!”

Books that have helped me:

Feeling Left Out.

I struggle with being left out.

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Examples:

When I was young, my very social parents would frequently have company over and they would always ask my brother to play the accordion for them.  I played the guitar and cello.  No one ever asked me to play for them.  Now granted, Bobby was very good at the accordion and was very entertaining.  My guitar and cello not so.  But as a child I didn’t really understand that.  I would sit and watch while the adults oohed and awed over my older brother.  I really can’t say I was jealous.  But I felt left out.

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I grew up in Oregon, but all my cousins lived in Texas.  Our family vacations consisted of a four day drive to drive to Texas.  Out of the Mann Family, my brother and I were the only cousins who didn’t live in Texas.  I used to take a lot of ribbing…being the “city kin.”  I think my cousins would be horrified if they really knew how bad it made me feel…to not be one of them.

I clearly remember a time when my parents discovered that their group of friends were getting together for cards, only they were accidentally not invited.  I felt SO BAD for them.  I’m pretty sure I went to my room and cried.  (And it wasn’t even me who was left out!)

You’d think that becoming an adult would change that, right?  Well…  A couple of years ago while I was on staff at our church, there was a meeting for the full-time staff, to go over changes in the insurance.  Since I was part-time and paying for the insurance out of my own pocket, I knew I wasn’t supposed to be at the meeting.  My husband understood differently.  He said I was to go to the meeting because it was for any staff on insurance.  As I’m sitting in this meeting, it’s pretty clear it wasn’t intended for me.  About 20 minutes in, the head pastor motioned through the window at me, waving me to step outside.  He was very nice about it.  He confirmed that I wasn’t really a part of this insurance meeting.  I went back in and grabbed my purse and drove home.  In tears.

Okay last example… My oldest step son and wife just welcomed their first baby into their lives.  I stayed home to take care of my kiddos so my husband and Nanny (my husband’s ex-wife) could go to the hospital to see the new grand-baby.  It was 2 days later that I was able to go see the precious baby Hays.  When I discovered that I wasn’t listed on the hospital visitation list of grandparents, I fought back tears.  All of the other grandparents were listed…even step grandparents.  I just swallowed hard and waited patiently for someone…anyone to make sure I could visit the new baby.

Sounds like I have some pretty deep issues…

One counselor had once suggested that because I’m adopted, I have a strong desire to be “a part of the group.”  I disagreed.  Being adopted had nothing to do with it. Being adopted at birth and always knowing that I was adopted, made me feel special, made me feel chosen.  My parents worked very hard at making sure I felt loved and accepted.  As a matter of fact, I have always felt I was the favorite child.  (Sorry Bobby…I am the favorite child!)

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book (Ps. 56:8, NLT).

What’s that really mean?  God never wastes a hurt.  In fact, painful lessons can turn into precious gems.  When you go through a pain or a hurt, God won’t waste it.

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

What I’ve discovered is that my struggles of “feeling left out” is really a weakness that God is using for his glory.  Meaning, because I HATE the feeling of being left out, I work very hard to make sure those around me always feel included and never left out.

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I raised two wonderful boys that were my step-sons.  It was my mission to make sure they felt loved and included.  I’m knee deep in raising my second round of children.  Maddie is 10 and Garrison is 2 1/2.  This makes 5 kids I’ve raised, but only given birth to one.  My heart is equipped to love all my kids equally….with all my heart…and on mission to make them feel loved and accepted.

But it doesn’t stop with raising kids.  God has gifted me with the spirit of hospitality.  I strive to make sure that anyone who walks into my home feel welcome and loved.  You’d think that would be a challenge when it’s your ex-husband and new wife walking through your door. (Which recently happened at my daughter’s rehearsal dinner hosted in my home.) But it wasn’t a challenge at all.  What was once a weakness, God has turned it around to use as a blessing.  I no longer feel like an outsider, even when it’s my ex-husband walking through the door.  My energy is placed into making others feel included…including my ex-husband.

So what’s your weakness?  I’m pretty confident in saying that God knows your struggle.  And I’m pretty confident in saying he will use it….and it’ll be great!

Here’s the book that’s helped me:

 

 

Confessions of a Procrastinator. 5 ways to overcome

Confessions of a ProcrastinatorI meant to post this blog last week…

But surprise, I put it off… Anyone who is close to me, knows that procrastination is my worst fault. It is my weakness.

I have spent most of my life doing things that I “feel” like doing. Yes I am a very passionate and energetic person. I can dive into a project and do great things when I’m very passionate about it. The sad thing is, I never feel much passion about doing laundry or washing dishes. Who does? Okay, maybe there are a few people out there who do enjoy the process. I envy them. I am obviously not one of them.

When I look at my to-do list for the day, my tendency is to “hope I feel like editing that video this afternoon, because right now I only feel like checking email.”

Other traps are like this one: I’ll play around on Facebook while I drink my coffee…hoping that the caffeine buzz will spur me into production.

It’s really been what I call a “hit or miss lifestyle.” When you go through life doing things you only feel like doing, and postponing the rest, a huge layer of stress and anxiety fall into your life.

I like to blame my procrastination on the epidemic in our society that wants instant gratification. I know that sounds contradictory…delay versus instant. But the instant gratification that I’ve succumbed to actually fits in well with delaying the things that don’t bring instant gratification.

I’m guilty of saying and feeling: “I want it all and I want it now.” All the latest inventions or new technologies focus on getting us things quicker and more conveniently. My children don’t remember life before the microwave, but that was such a HUGE deal when we got our first one. We could cook a hot dog in under a minute versus the 10 minutes it took to boil them on the stove. I’m even currently guilty of using a single serve coffee maker rather than brewing a pot of coffee. Waiting 15 minutes for a pot to brew seems so long rather than the 30 seconds on my Keurig. Our television watching has even changed. We now predominately watch on demand internet content (Netflix & Hulu) rather than my childhood process of waiting until 8:00 in the evening to watch whatever was being broadcast at the time.

Oh sure, I’ve excused the above changes to the reasoning that I’m saving myself so much time that I can be more productive. But it’s really not about being productive for me. It’s about laziness and instant gratification.

Procrastination for me has been the biggest thief of my happiness. When I procrastinate, worry and dread start building up. Unfinished projects pressure me. It takes energy to ignore what needs to be finished. I don’t sleep as well when I have something hanging over my head.

Procrastination is a HABIT. And it’s a habit that needs breaking. Procrastination puts things off. Procrastination is disobedience. If we are willing to obey and take action in the small details, we will have fewer problems with the bigger projects in life.

Forming the habit of being a “now” person is a person who does what needs to be done as soon as you can. Joyce Meyer states in her new book “Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits”: When we refuse to use our time to do the things we need to do, we always end up losing time taking care of the emergencies and messes we created through procrastinating.

Don’t wait for a convenient time to begin any task. Character is not developed through ease and convenience, but through doing NOW what needs to be done no matter how difficult it is.

What if you’ve procrastinated so much, that you’re overburdened and overwhelmed?

Here are a few steps you can do now (and what has helped me):

  • Make a list and start with the most difficult and get it out of the way. Seriously, try it and see how much relief you feel. I only have a limited supply of willpower. Once it’s been used up for the day, chances of tackling hard tasks are pretty slim. So I dive into my hardest task when my energy level is at its highest. This ensures the best results. When I delay the hard tasks to the end of the day,you can count on it that I’ll reschedule to the next day. The delay takes a toll on my energy all day long. In the end, stressing over the task I’m procrastinating negatively affects all the other tasks on my list. Oh…and beware of the tendency to just ignore the entire list. I’ve done that too!
  • Divide the task into smaller tasks. I get overwhelmed when a giant project looms over me. I don’t know where to start or what to do first. Keep in mind that forests are made up of individual trees. (Showing my Oregon roots here) Though you may not be able to take down a whole forest at once, you could certainly start with one tree (or even a branch).
  • Commit yourself for a small period of time. I set a timer on my phone…ten minutes to clean off my desk. By frantically racing the clock for that short period, I usually find myself engrossed in the task and continue working. (My husband calls it “the zone.”) The feeling of dread that has been on my mind is quickly replaced with a sense of pride and satisfaction. Seeing what I can accomplish in ten minutes when I put my mind to it is quite motivating.
  • Schedule your tasks on the calendar. When I can plan out a week in advance on my calender, it helps me move past the initial paralysis I feel. Instead of just writing the tasks down in a to-do list, I take it a step further and identify when and how I’ll accomplish it. Yes, I do a ton of moving things around, but somehow planning out the tasks helps me complete them. It also helps me not forget things or let some small jobs slip through the cracks.
  • Reward yourself. Psychologists know that reward is a much stronger motivator than punishment. I love rewards. Sometimes just knowing I’m going to enjoy a cup of coffee on the patio spurs me on.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 When you tell God you’ll do something, do it—now.

God takes no pleasure in foolish gabble.

Vow it, then do it. Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up.