Can God speak to my heart while I’m cleaning the toilet?

You ever have one of those days (weeks, MONTHS?) where you know just a little bit  from God would go a long way?  A little encouragement.  A surprise around the corner.  Something to tell you that you are ok and on the right track? Even just “Hey, I’m here with you!  I’m not going anywhere”.  Remembering times past where you felt God’s presence frequently and His words affirming your heart.

 

I was reminded today of this.  While cleaning the toilet (oh yeah!) and feeling incredibly spiritual (wink) it came; two really random thoughts popped into my mind.  Both are areas that God has given revelation to me over the last two or three years.  Then I “heard” him say that he was going to take those things deeper.
It felt so good to hear SOMETHING.  I wanted to sing or dance or laugh. “I still hear God!  He speaks, he speaks!” Believe me, when you’ve felt thirsty you don’t underestimate a cup of water!!!  It really really matters even if it’s seemingly so small.

 

 Then I headed to Starbucks to do what little Starbuckies do and enjoy a few minutes of quality time with my friend.  Out of the blue she (without knowing my previous conversation with God) starts talking about those two unrelated things that God had been speaking to me earlier.

 

Needless to say, we were both encouraged.  She confirmed what I had been hearing and she also got to be reminded that she hears God’s voice too.

 

Then, she starts asking me questions like “So Liz.  If you could do anything you wanted and money wasn’t an issue what would it be?”

 

Easy.  I’d go to Finland and stay with my dear friend there and then we’d together romp all over Europe.  We could easily cover most of the continent, having so many friends that we know scattered around.  England, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, and I’m sure there’s so many more I’m just not thinking of.  After I got my fill of travelling, I’d return and find a job I LOVED—most likely with internationals.  (I was just getting warmed up, by the way…there was a lot more I could have said).

 

Then I asked her what she’d do.  This led to talking about desires and dreams and how it’s really hard to dream when one is low in their hope tank.  And how can we have hope or dream if we are disconnected to our own heart?  So, YEAH, we gotta start taking those moments to listen to those desires that may be buried under some clutter.  Because that’s where dreams are birthed. And who knows where God wants to take us?  But, we’ll never know if we aren’t dreaming.

 

So, with her frappucino finished and my Pike Place (with chocolate and vanilla) about gone, we agreed to bring photos to share with each other next time we meet.  She will bring her pictures from Africa.  I will most likely bring some from New Zealand and Costa Rica.  Why?  I imagine it’s because those were places where our hearts began to emerge…

 

And it all started with a toilet brush in hand!

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Let’s just “settle” the issue, so we don’t end up “settling”

It’s a chilly autumn day, so good thing I have a cup of tea (with milk and sugar) and my fuzzy socks on.  I’ve wanted to take a day like this for awhile.  Just me, refills on hot drinks, alone with my heart, and time to write.

 

I usually don’t pick what I want to write about.  It picks me.  Something grabs my heart or I’m wrestling or pondering something.  Then I have to write about it to get any sort of relief.  HA! Right now it’s the issue of settling.  I find it’s directly linked to how we view God.  When I am nestled into his embrace and the issue of his goodness is a fixed thing, then I tend to be able to wait.  There’s grace to not make things happen how and when I want.  But, add a little disappointment, desires unmet, and COMPARISON with what others have (that’s a big one), well then “thanks, but God, I’ll do this better and FASTER than you can.”

 

Let me give you a bit of insight into my past 10 years to help you get a sense of where I’m coming from. I’ve moved a lot, been in many weddings (not to mention maid-of-honor 3 times), and seen most of my friends get married.  A few close friends remain  single, but as a whole most are married with children.  I’m ok with that.  I haven’t always been, and I’ve had my share of pity parties, cynicism, and jealousy.  That was before…
Before I began to understand the goodness of God.  He has allowed me many adventures and I’ve met the best of people and have been richly blessed.  AS A SINGLE WOMAN.  I find I’m full.  Whole.  Complete.  Yes, I want to be married, but I don’t have a romanticized view like Giselle did (Enchanted, the movie).

 

Why?  Because God has a sense of humor.  He has given me the opportunity to nanny for several families.  I have close friends that have little kiddos.  Just this year I lived with a friend and her husband and their FOUR CHILDREN.  And their little yappy dog, too! Oh yeah!  I tell you, it was non-stop laughs.  I love this family that opened their home to me, but I must say any bit of romanticism I may have had before living with a family, was definitely gone by the time I moved.  And they are a terrific, healthy, vibrant family.

 

I feel sometimes like I’m an under-cover agent for singles so God puts me in close proximity to others my age who are married with children =)  The learning curve has been fantastic and I’ve been so blessed to have all the experiences.

 

That is the background. Lots of chances to see the “behind the scenes” into family life.
I’ve talked extensively to my married girl-friends who have amazing husbands and I’ve heard the joys and the struggles.  Each has her really classic love story.  And….poopy diapers to change, car pooling, and sleepless nights.  Hee hee. Hey, just sharing the realities of marriage and kids.

 

The common thread for them has been that their spouses have put God first and he has continually been the center of their relationship. Hmmm….that’s worth giving a moment to.
Sadly, I know many more (especially women) who are hurting and lonely.  These are MARRIED women!!!!  I’d say this blows the myth of marriage removing loneliness.  Several women I know are more lonely NOW that they are married than when they lived the single life.  I find this to be the worst kind of tragedy.

 

Two friends that I know.  It’s a common scenario.  But true.  One is older (in her 40’s).  One is younger.  Both beautiful.  Love God.  Desire marriage.  My discovery that both are in serious relationships now is quite intriguing.  Perfect blogging material.

 

I love them both dearly.  I will not criticize but just want to share my heart.

 

The older friend.   I’m not wanting to over-emphasize her age; merely point out that it’s easy to put limits on possibilities because of any number of things.  When you are single, age is definitely a factor. So about this beautiful, stunning, hilarious, and very gifted friend… I have known her desire for marriage and longed with her to see a Godly man pursue her ; to see the treasure that I see.  I’ve seen her make hard choices, lonely ones at times.  She has chosen to do things God’s way.  This means she has surrendered her desire for marriage and chosen to follow her heavenly Father’s plan and not take matters into her own hands.  This path has taken her to foreign lands where she has been able to see the gifts of God in her released and strengthened.  I’m so proud of her. She has carried singleness with beauty and joy.  And vulnerability.  So when I heard her story in full last week I was overwhelmed by how when things are done God’s way, we can trust the best for our lives.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that had she decided she was missing out and taken things into her own hands, she probably wouldn’t be telling me about this amazing man who is now in full pursuit.

 

She knows the goodness of God, and THIS is what kept her from settling.  Her story strengthens the hope level in my own heart.

 

The other friend.  My heart is aching for her right now.  She is with a christian guy but she has admitted that God is not the central point for them. They are headed into a relationship with compromise, possible addictions, and a relationship built on romanticism –with very little substance.  I can’t help but wonder if she has this idea that all those “things” will just vanish, poof, after marriage.  I know from all those many many many talks with my married friends that problems before marriage don’t just go away after the “I do’s”. They intensify.

 

I’m probably speaking to women (there may be a guy out there reading, I don’t know!), but have you noticed we do this?  It can be marriage or anything else in life.  We aren’t fully convinced in the goodness of God.  We may not admit it, but we live like it. God is good and “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk with him”. Simple math, my friends.  When a longing in my heart is still looking for its promise, then it’s just not time.  But who is to say that tomorrow won’t be the day?  Or in the near future.  Nevertheless, the timing for God’s best is always fulfilled on his clock.  Sorry =)

 

The scary thing about making things happen according to our timing and our genius, is that sometimes we get what we thought we wanted.  Yikes.  Help us, Lord =)  Perhaps, the only safe place, then, from controlling our lives is to put them into our Father’s hands.

 

Or we will settle.  Every time.

 

I wish I could tell you….no…..look you in the eyes and convince you that God IS GOOD.

 

So, don’t be settling.  Don’t be rationalizing why you are eating crumbs under the table when you can smell the pot roast right above your head.  You are worth more than that.  You are a treasure.  You are the apple of your Daddy’s eye.  If you dare to LET GO (key words, here), then he can show himself trustworthy.  Crumbs? Pot roast? Crumbs? Pot roast?  Let the feasting begin!!!

The Mirror Lied-(my testimony)

I believed the mirror.  Or what I’d been brainwashed to believe I was supposed to see when I looked at my reflection.  When I was little I would stare at my reflection in the window of the car on long road trips.  My dad would tell me I was beautiful and he loved to take my photo.

 

This stopped when “the change” starting happening.  My hair didn’t know what to do.  Straight? Curly?  Which one???? My complexion changed from clear and smooth to bumpy and red.  Dermatologist after dermatologist.
Braces.  Head gear.

 

I began to avoid my reflection.  I would only look at myself in the mirror, to put on makeup.  My new mask.  I never left home without it.  I didn’t let anyone see me without makeup.  Cameras were to be avoided.  Sensitivity and paranoia replaced confidence.  I remember a boy in middle school who didn’t even know me calling me “pizza face” in the cafeteria line.  My little heart was shattered.

 

Self-hatred and shame began to enter my internal world.  I nursed an unknown anger towards God for not doing a better job on my outward frame. I didn’t know the bondage I lived under until college.  For the first time in years I was choosing to go make-up free on a missions trip to India.  You might as well have asked me to expose my deepest core fear and wound —that being, “I am not beautiful and you get to see me how I REALLY am underneath all of this pretense.”  I was terrified of the day my teammates would see what I had been hiding.  Until you have come out of deep shame, you can’t understand the pain and humiliation.  Shame exposes. It mocks and threatens with “if they only knew….then….”  So, I hid.  Until the day before my team was to depart for India.

 

My friend encouraged me to share the whole mess–the whole beautiful mess with my friends.  So, I gathered my fellow teamies and in sobs of shame and brokenness revealed that I was terrified of tomorrow.  Because tomorrow they would know the Hyde part of me.  I honestly was under the deception that I was deeply flawed and monstrous.  It breaks my heart that I believed this as my core identity. Instead of rejection, my team gave me mercy.  They cried as I cried.  I was ministered to and set free that day.  I was told that beyond the physical, I am beautiful.  Sigh.  Relief.  Rest.

 

That was the marking point of walking into freedom at the deepest part of my heart.  I began to believe that God made me and said I was beautiful to Him.  It took awhile though to stop agreeing with the “flaws” in the mirror.  Sometimes just out of frustration I would make remarks about how I didn’t externally measure up.  One particular time my sister caught me in that cycle and strongly told me to “STOP IT!”  Her eyes teared up and she said,  “it hurts me when you talk down about yourself.”

 

WOW!  I had never thought that negative self talk actually affected those around me. I began to understand what she meant.  I’d hear friends who are gorgeous talk about their thighs or their extra 1/2 pound that made them so fat.  Or their hair.  Or an imperfect facial feature.  Something began to ache in me.  I hurt that they had this perfectionistic standard that they would never measure up to.  It pains me now to see a beautiful lady hide from a camera because she feels unworthy and is bound up in shame because she doesn’t see her beauty.

 

God deliver us from the lies we hear in the mirror.  Set us free from the lies we see everyday through the media that make us feel we somehow fall short no matter how hard we try.  And finally, as You open our eyes to the truth that we are each fearfully and wonderfully created, help us to begin to break agreement with the lies and refuse to talk degradingly about the ones You call lovely. Us.

30 (+) and single. (Why “thesingleside”?)

 
30 (+) and single.  My goal isn’t just to survive singlehood, but to embrace it.  I heard a speaker say, “If you do single well, you’ll do marriage brilliantly.”  Worth pondering, isn’t it? I think about that sometimes when I’m whining about the wait.  Embracing singlehood is not resigning myself to a life of solitude. Nor is it killing my heart—denying this God-given longing for marriage—and burying my dreams.  That’s merely denial masked as super-spirituality. The other extreme is to take the reins and do whatever satisfies for the moment (ahhh….the fleeting counterfeits) and follow my own way.So: kill my heart or dabble in dangerous territory? THESE are my options? Well, yes if you are looking to control things. For both of those options are two sides of the same coin.  “God, you are not cooperating with my time line or body clock (over 30 here, Lord!). So I must do something about that!”

 

(Long pause)…There IS another way.  But it is the path less traveled; to open my life to God who also happens to be a good Father—and the giver of every good and perfect gift.  Choosing trust instead of control.  His timing over mine.  I’m sure many of us have tried to “help” God speed things up only to find ourselves in a dilemma of our own making.  So we haven’t done things perfectly. No matter! The courage is in getting back up, and setting our heart once again…and again…and again… (perhaps with a bit more humility each time) to trust the lover of our souls.

Blogging. I confess to being slightly terrified; revealing my heart is risky. What motivates me is my desire for other singles to embrace life now and not wait until circumstances change. I write from “the single side” to offer encouragement, share thoughts, and to process my own “stuff.” I’m not strong. I don’t have things all figured out. I am not full of wisdom and answers.  God has met me in my weakness (in struggle) and comforted me.  I simply offer the same comfort I’ve received.

A close married friend recently emailed these words:  “ Allow your heart to soar and fly during this wonderful season of singlehood.   I encourage you to suck the life out of your single days.  They are numbered.”

Her words sparked excitement and strengthened my heart to take courage again, choosing to live all my single days with quality of life.

Jesus (a single man, don’t forget!) spoke these words (John 10:10):
“I came that (you) may have life, and have it to the full (in abundance).”

And I intend to.