Thursday, October 15, 2009

A New Beginning

As I sit down to write everything in my heart, I realize this may be a bit long. I would apologize, but my friends, this has been a long time coming.

I have cried so many tears of joy. After years of searching, after hitting my knees over and over, God has set my heart and spirit on fire. I finally "feel" it within. I thought God had stopped talking to me. I thought He had stopped listening. In His infinite glory, in His perfect timing, He was preparing me for this. I now REALLY understand, not only with my mind, but finally with my heart, He loves me! The love and acceptance I have searched for my entire life has been there all along, within me, for God's spirit has been, and will always live within me.

I had come to a place where I could not stand my own hypocrisy. The motto of my life had become, "Do as I Say and Not as I Do." What do I mean by this? My parenting is a prime example. I was asking from my children what I did not do myself. In my business, I encouraged women, I motivated them, I "preached" to them all the time to seek God's purpose for their lives, yet it had become words. Words of what I wanted. Words of who I wanted to be, not who I had become.

We recently took a vacation to the mountains to visit and spend time with family. Prior to this, I had become stressed to the max. I had been looking forward to this trip, looking forward to the peace that always seems to fill my heart each time we visit. I was looking forward to quality time with my husband, and my children. Time to breathe.

A few nights before we left, I just let go and cried out to my sisters. I told them how I had been asking God to come into my heart. I wanted that "something" that I knew I was missing in my life. I knew I could not keep going the way I was. I felt like I was running around in circles, expending an abundance of energy, yet getting nowhere fast. I did not feel His presence, and I felt as if He was ignoring me...once again I felt "not good enough". I went on to share with my sisters how I had always longed for a Christian lifestyle, that spiritual fire, that passion for God that would exceed my own fear of what people think of me. I wanted us to pray together, to have a God loving and God fearing husband. We had begun the journey, and things went well, but somehow I felt we were just going through the motions, because we were suppose to....the fire and passion I needed was not in my heart, as much as I craved it.

With a heavy heart, we packed for our mountain trip. I hoped getting away from the fast pace of our lives that I could find the connection, the peace and relationship I was so desperately seeking with Him. The mountains have always had a spiritual effect on me. It was as if that was the one place I could really feel Him, to reconnect.

We had a nice visit with our family. However, the peace I had been seeking was not found. I was short tempered with my husband and my children. I still felt stressed out, exhausted and spent. I had hoped our trip would renew my spirit, soften my heart and get me closer to what I needed. My desire to have relationship with God had become an urgent NEED. It was no longer a desire, a want. I needed Him.

As I was packing for our return trip home, I felt a sense of dread, and dashed hope. I felt defeated. Something obviously was lacking within me, and though I had cried out to God, and had even shared the true feelings of my heart with my own sisters OUT LOUD (not easy for me seeing as I am so worried about what others think of me, and thinking they may have thought I had finally lost my everloving mind, that I had indeed gone off the deep end, as expressing my Christianity with such emotion and desperation has not been "me"...all other areas of my life, well I live out loud!)... I did not find what I was searching for in the beautiful mountains. I was not looking forward to returning home, to the chaos and stress, to the absence of peace.

Then it happened. We were riding down a mountain road, headed home. I felt a bit numb at this point, and IT happened. God spoke to me. God spoke to my heart.

"You are not grateful. You will not find the peace and abundance you seek until you have a grateful heart. I cannot give you what you desire until you are grateful for what I have already given you."

I laughed out loud. Tears filled my eyes, and I felt His spirit in my heart. My husband was driving, and he looked at me puzzled. I just looked at him and said, "I'll talk to you about it later."

I needed to process this. God WAS talking to me!!! How do I know? Well, for those of you that know me, know I speak ("preach") of gratitude all the time. As far as I was concerned I was the most grateful woman on the face of the earth. As far as gratitude was concerned, I had that covered! As I write this, I know God is laughing. The irony with all of this does not escape me. NEVER in a million years would I have even thought this about myself, NEVER.

God put me in my place. He showed me what was in my heart, that true gratitude was not living there. Talk about hypocrisy! Leave it to the Lord to reveal to us, in His perfect timing, what we do not and cannot face about ourselves.

I felt such joy in my heart, that God was talking to me it took a few minutes for His words, His truth, to sink in. Not grateful. Me not grateful......Me? Wow, me. He's right. Not one part of me even had the audacity to argue with Him. The truth was out. I have been ungrateful. I have not appreciated what I have. I have taken everything in my life for granted, EVERYTHING.

It was as if at that moment, I had a new set of eyes. The view of my world, my life was in clear and perfect focus. It was as if I had been given an otherwordly gift of sight. I saw my home in a different light. I looked at my husband and my children in a new light. I was seeing my life for the first time with gratitude. True, real, spiritual gratitude. The feelings of "gratitude" I thought I had, the words I had written up until this point had no meaning. They were words without real substance. Words without the overwhelming emotion of true and real gratitude. For the first time in my life I was grateful.

My heart was not only overflowing with gratitude that God was talking to me, but with love and gratitude for all He had given me. I no longer saw the lack in my life. I began seeing for the first time the abundance that had been there all along.

I came home and shared this with my sisters. This right here could be a book in itself, but let's just say God has not only began working in my own life, but has made His presence known with my sisters too. My middle sis and niece are home while my brother-in-law is serving his second tour in Iraq, and our baby sister and her husband are expecting their first baby. Let's just say some awesome, amazing, spiritual things have been happening with all of us. I cannot even write about the gratitude I feel that my sisters are sharing this journey with me. We are all in different places spiritually, and God is using us to help one another to move forward and become closer to Him.

Now, as a lot of you know, we are in our very first year of homeschooling. We did not decide to homeschool solely for religious reasons. Do you hear that? That is God laughing again. WE did not decide to homeschool for solely religious reasons, but HE led us to the path of homeschooling for religious reasons. We are homeschooling with Christian curriculum and Bible study, and my daughter had begun to feel the spirit of God in her own heart, yet I felt once again like a hypocrite, going through the motions yet not feeling that fire I craved and longed to share with my children.

We joined a local homeschool organization. The first meeting we went to, the prayer director opened the meeting with a dynamic prayer. My daughter leaned over and whispered to me, "Mama, I want to learn how to pray like that!". I told her I did too. I knew then and I know now, that prayer like "that" comes from a spirit that is on fire for the love of God, a heart that is filled with passion, and the Spirit. That is something that cannot be taught. Now, I don't believe there is a right way or a wrong way to pray. What I do know, is that I want to have that same fire and passion within my own heart for my own prayers to light the fire of spirit in others. Me? Well, I am not there yet. I have to "unschool" myself. My upbringing in the church was that of reverence. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. Yet, it just didn't feel right for me. Yet, I have a long way to go before I can let go and stop worrying about what others may think of me. I do believe I am on the right path, and as my spiritual fire grows I will no longer be able to hold back.

Our second meeting was Tuesday night. My husband, my life partner and homeschool partner went with me. Knowing this group is mostly made up of homeschool moms, I was worried what others would think of me bringing my husband along. Again, worried what others think of me. I know now God wanted him there with me, and that my husband is to share this journey with me.

I had volunteered to be a "greeter" for Tuesday nights meeting. I am so incredibly shy. I was so nervous. My hands were sweating, and I was so afraid someone would want to shake my hand and walk away wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I mean, this was only my second meeting, being such a newbie, how foolish would I look if someone had questions and I came across as clueless. So, I prayed. As I got out of the van, I felt that sense of peace. I felt courageous and just knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Being a greeter went well. It has been a long time since I have been out in the "real" world, and had to be face to face instead of behind a computer screen, but I met new people and everyone was so nice and friendly.

Then the meeting began. The topic of the discussion was, Help! I'm a Homeschool Mom! Let me tell you, I felt like her entire message was directed at me. Now, I know everyone else was there for a reason, and felt the same way. I witnessed a candid, tell it like it is, kindred spirit. It took me hearing her to finally understand it is ok to be me. It is ok to not be like everyone else. It is ok to have a dusty house, messy and such (wow, I was feeling validated!). I could go on and on about her words and how they really reasonated with me. I will tell you that meeting changed me. REALLY changed me. I came home knowing I can do this, I was able to see my children, my home, our journey in a whole new light, a new perspective. After the meeting I did tell her that she made a difference in my life and the life of my family. I knew it before I walked out the door, but I had no idea the impact until we came home. God is working. He has changed me, my heart, and has placed me in the path of others that have been able to teach me things I needed to know. My spirit is on fire.

Now, God has asked me this, "What are you going to do with it?"

I do not want to lose this, this fire I have searched for my whole life. I will use my life, my gifts, the talents God has given me, and I will use them to glorify Him. I will no longer be quiet about my faith, worried about how others may perceive me. I will use everything I have to keep the fire alive within me, to share this journey with anyone and everyone who will listen, and pray that I can be used as an instrument to help light the hearts of others on fire for Him.

On that note, my organization, Moms United in Business LLC, has been a business with a lot of Christian undertones. Yet, out of fear, I have not used it for the purpose it began. I have said it over and over again that God planted the seeds in my heart for MUIB.

Notice to all MUIBers: Our organization from this day forward will be used as a ministry, an avenue of Christian women to grow their businesses for the glory of God. Now, I understand that some of you may be saying, I did not sign up for this. I realize that I may lose a lot of members over this. Some may even become angry with me. That's ok. My hope is, that no matter where you are in life's journey that you choose to stay with us, and travel with us in this new direction. Until now my fear and need for acceptance worried I would turn people off, or away from MUIB (that I see now, I viewed as an extention of me, my ego and my need for validation). I am no longer afraid, or fearful. The spirit of the Lord is leading me. I will not apologize for that. This is no longer about me, my ego, my need for acceptance and validation. I do apologize that that is what it MUIB become.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Phillipians 2:3

With a TRULY Grateful Heart,

~Jenn (new family pic from yesterday)

"Deliver us to our passion.
Deliver us to our brilliance.
Deliver us to our intelligence.
Deliver us to our depth.
Deliver us to our nobility.
Deliver us to our beauty.
Deliver us to our power to heal.
Deliver us to You."

-Marianne Williamson

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