Monday, May 21, 2012

A Year of Encouragement

Now that I've recovered from my vacation, I need to get back to blogging. Yes, my body hates to travel, but thankfully it chooses only to inform me of this after I get home. Not that it took me the whole week to recover, but there was the fact that life goes on, things have to be done around the house, job applications need to be continually put out there, and my sister and I had a yard sale this weekend. All in all, two days of feeling like crap (one of which I actually took it easy for) was enough to screw up my blogging schedule royally!  So without further ado, here we go......again.

Yesterday I woke up with a swollen face. No, I wasn't in a fist fight. It's seasonal allergies. Today it's worse. Not more swollen, but now it itches.  I can handle an itchy, swollen face. Not well and not easily, but it's possible. However, getting up in front of a group of people, even if all of those people love me and are glad to hear me blubber and cry into a microphone, is not made easier by the fact that my face just plain hurts.

I hate speaking publicly, which may surprise some of you that know me really well. I have no issue getting up at karaoke (completely sober) and being loud and obnoxious. I'm not shy in a group, either. I can be just as crazy and boisterous as the next person. Actually, I can be a lot crazier.  Public speaking into a microphone is just terrifying. Don't ask me why, 'cause I don't know.

Yesterday was open mic day at church. The congregation was given the opportunity to get up and thank God for what has been going on in their lives. There was an actual conversation going on in my seat between my stubbornness and God's determination.

"You have to get up and do this."

"I don't want to. I'm to nervous. Plus my face is swollen. How will that look up there at the microphone?"

"You know that doesn't matter to anyone here. They love you and would love to hear you speak."

"You say that, but I know there will be at least one person in the crowd thinking 'WOW! She looks sick.'"

"Do you care about that more than you care about Me?"

"Well, no. Still, I think you're asking too much. I'll cry and blubber. My knees will probably give out on me and I'll have to be carried back to my seat."

At this point, someone got up and cried with the microphone in their hand.  You could feel the love of the congregation for her and the prayers being lifted for her struggles.

"You are just as loved and will receive the same reception."

"I think you're just being stubborn. Ask something else of me and I'll gladly do it, just don't ask this. You know how much this scares me."

"I have provided support for you. Take your sister's hand and get up."

So, I finally chose to give in. I took my sister's hand and got up to speak. It was just as hard as I knew it would be, but I was finally able to say something I hadn't really had a chance to say to everyone. THANK YOU!!

There are so many times in my life when I've felt God nudging me to do something and I'm too scared to do it. This is the core of many of my mistakes. He encourages me to think before I speak, but I let my anger carry me into bad situations. He encourages me to do something nice for the person alone in a booth next to me in a restaurant, but I don't want to look like a fool. Opportunity lost to brighten someone's day.

He put a perfectly clear path before me in my life before all of this happened, and I was so angry at Him that I chose to go my own way. However, He had a bigger plan for my life than for me to continue to make mistakes and stupid decisions. It took extremes to get my attention, but I am never less than thankful for what happened to me. My life has never been more messed up, and yet there is a feeling of peace that I haven't had in many years, if ever.

In the last year, I've learned that there are things in life that stink. Most of those things are due to our decisions. Some are challenges that God places before us for reasons we cannot necessarily understand. We can choose to take those challenges with an open heart, getting through them as best we can, and trust that God will carry us to the end, or we can choose a path of bitterness where God still carries us but we refuse to acknowledge His presence.

Although I chose differently in the past, now I choose God. It only took a year of encouragement for me to figure that out.  Thank you!!

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GROUP HUG!!!! Friends make everything better.