Tuesday, May 24, 2011

forgive as you have been forgiven...

Forgiveness is such a hard concept for me. I've gotten better with it over the years especially with prayer but I still have to be very intentional in choosing to forgive.  

Twenty one years ago I got into a relationship that would last a short painful time, produce a beautiful child and fundamentally change who I was for a very long time. The anger, hurt, fear and resentment from this relationship would consume most of my adult life. This man was not a part of my son's life growing up, which at the time I was very grateful for. Where he was in his life was not a good place and would have brought even more heartache for my son and I if I had stayed with him. So I took my son, left and never looked back. I fought to protect him. Doing all that I felt was right at the time. He disappeared, moved from the area, I think. Gradually I stopped looking over my shoulder. Then out of nowhere, Support Collection Unit (SCU) would catch up with him and start collecting support again. Checks would come and not for very long but it was enough to bring up a lot of the old fears. Each year that passed the debt to us grew more and more. I held a lot of anger and resentment again this man for not paying support, for not taking care of the son he had. There were lots of times that I could have used that support, instead of going without a lot, instead of borrowing money from family, instead of turning to social services in my son's early days. 

A couple years ago the support checks began to come again. They've been consistent. I've been able to count on them, include them in my budget (especially since food budget with a teen can be pretty high). Frankly, I haven't thought much about him or our past since becoming a Christian and processing through a lot of my own past. That was until April 7, 2011. 

I got home from an amazing MOPS meeting to have a letter from the courts waiting from me. I didn't understand it all but what I did grasp was the fact that he had signed it in his lawyers office in Binghamton!! This meant he was here, he was living locally again, had been, in fact, for awhile. I'm very grateful that God has placed such an amazing husband in my life because through talking and prayer he was able to help me calm right down. Once I was calm I was able to hear God's voice more clearly and began to get a picture of what He was asking me to do. I wasn't thrilled with it but I was willing to listen.  We were in the middle of purchasing a house so I was packing and tending to other things in life. I started to gather info on what I needed to do for when I made the time to obey what God was asking of me. God gave me the final push on April 28th, the same day my husband got a promotion and raise.

You see He was asking me to forgive. To forgive past sins and debts...just as He has forgiven mine and wiped my account clean. That day I received further court papers with a date set in May. These papers included financials and letters from government agencies threatening to freeze his accounts till a certain amount of past support was paid. Anyway, for the first time I had compassion for this man as a human. I didn't see him as the "big bad wolf" of my early adulthood. My husband and I talked about it, prayed about it and I made the decision it was time to move on what God was asking of me. 

That day I called SCU and asked them to draw up my own petition to excuse him of the significant amount of back child support owed. I knew that none of it made sense to them. What they didn't understand was at this point in our lives God takes care of us, my husband provides for us and I don't have the desire to see someone else suffer because of his poor choices.  God's grace has poured forgiveness into my life for the horrible things I've done. Who was I to withhold grace when God was calling me to extend it??

As the day of court approached I felt an odd sense of peace. I actually tried to conjure up the feelings of anxiety I thought I should be feeling. That morning I had a MOPS steering meeting and as some of my friends were praying over me, one of them pointed out how good God is in scheduling this day on a day where I could have their support beforehand. Their prayers brought a huge sense of relieve as I headed back home to get ready for court. Knowing that I had my son's blessing, my husband's blessing, my friends prayers and God's prompting made facing him and this task all the easier. 

Court was not what I was expecting. First I was late, I know the enemy loves to just mess things up to laugh at us. I looked at that paper a bunch of times and every time I saw 3:30. I put it in my calendar as 3:30. At 3:15 as we were approaching Owego, I looked at the paper and it said 3:00. Boy did I panic!  Thankfully as I was trying to get ahold of the judge, she called me so I was able to let them know I was coming.   Anyway, I walked in, actually rushed in, in a flurry and there he was. It was the oddest feeling of nothing I've ever experienced. I was so worried all those young girl fears would come back. They didn't. With God on one side of me and my husband on the other I was able to face a piece of my past with strength and confidence. I felt the same compassion for him I'd feel for a complete stranger in a tough place. There was no anger anymore. It was the first step to a new sense of freedom. 

The final step was about to take place as the courtroom doors shut behind me. I wasn't prepared for the battle I was about to face. SCU told me the judge would probably ask if I was sure I wanted to excuse all back support and then just go forward with what I was asking. That was not the case. She was a very fair and wise judge but wasn't going to let me just walk away from this situation.  She presented some really good alternatives but I knew it wasn't what God was asking of me. Every option she put before me caused more anxiety for me. I wanted to accept and just leave but I knew I had to face her and stand by my conviction that I was doing the right thing. She said to me a few times that she didn't understand, that it didn't make sense. My response was that I was aware of that but it's what God had laid on my heart to do. My husband even told her it was about grace and forgiveness but she just didn't understand why I wanted to walk away from what was owed me. It was frustrating and hard for me because I have a hard time standing up to authority figures but I could feel the Holy Spirit encouraging me. The judge finally agreed to stop the support collection process which took the collection of over $30,000 out of the system's hands and placed it in my hands, which in my heart and in obedience to Christ has a zero balance.

I walked out of the court room with the oddest ear to ear grin because I felt such a freedom from the past, a freedom from unforgiveness, a freedom from obeying my Lord. I knew God had had His way, that he touched some lives and it was pretty amazing to be in the middle of that.  Randy's quote when we left "Well, that was fun to watch".  I'm not sure about fun but it was amazing to see God working. 

My prayers are that those who were present in that room had a glimpse of God's glory and that someday, somehow it will benefit my son on a personal level. I don't know what that means but I know what it's like to grow up without your father a part of your life. I ache for my son and the pain that I know is there in his heart. I had a dream last night where I told him (my son's biological father) to get his life straightened out and then he might be able to have a relationship with his son.  Will it ever come true? I don't know. I do know that I'm now in a place of peace about the past and that I won't stand in the way. I'll be there for my child but allow him to make his own choices about who's a part of his future. 

Thank you Lord for the work you do in our lives, for softening my hard heart and for teaching me about forgiveness and grace by pouring it into my life. 
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~matthew 6:14-15




Tuesday, May 17, 2011

no poo update

No poo...
Natural, healthier living - Check.
Less items to recycle - Check.
Freedom from big corporations - Score!

This things have been some of the benefits of not buying and using commercial shampoo. I went poo free mid March. At first I couldn't stand how my hair felt. Then about 6 weeks into it, it was like BAM and suddenly my hair felt softer, lighter with less of a build up feeling. I figured, ok I can deal with this. It's not the same soft silky hair my husband's been missing but it was close.

Then the itching started. I blamed it on the season change but my scalp is so dry and itchy I can't deal with it. Using shampoo is the last thing I wanted to do but after a few weeks I didn't know how much more I could take. I researched all the no poo forums for answers, tried a lot of what was suggested and none has helped.

I've been feeling really guilty the last few days about wanting to use shampoo. I know it sounds stupid but I really strive for a more natural living. I love when God just swoops in to recuse us from ourselves. One of the blogs I follow had a posting recently that I didn't see till last night. She lives as much of an all natural lifestyle as she can but her baby has been struggling with eczema and she finally had to break down and buy something to treat it. (here's her story: Admitting Defeat, When Natural Doesn't Work) So anyway, I read this and just brought me a sense of peace in my decision to go back to shampoo, at least for awhile. I'll probably work on formulating my own recipe after I get all my soap supplies unpacked!

So I know it seems like a silly post but I just wanted to share what I felt at first was my complete failure to not use shampoo but now I see I was making not using poo an idol. It had become more important to me than actually taking care of my body's needs.

Thank you Lord for using little things in life to show us Your way and to release us from the human prisons we build. 



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

move day approaching and other random thoughts

I love May. It's a rebirth of the world around us. How fitting for us to begin a new chapter of our lives by buying our first house together, in May.  I see nature shaking off the effects of winter and I feel like I'm doing the same. Our new home isn't perfect. We're going to be putting a lot of work into it but that's the part that's so exciting for me.  My hubby and I will be working side by side to create the home we want.

I know I should be finishing packing since we're getting the truck tonight (packing it and taking it to the new house tomorrow after closing) but I can't help just sitting for a moment and reflecting on the past 10 months. We moved here in July with no intensions of moving again for a long time. God had other plans for us. It's ok, it's not part of my plan but He knows what's best for our family. It's been a blessed 10 months. We've made new friends, got to know one of our Pastors and his family, who lives near-by, better.  I will miss the people of the "hill". My heart aches at the thought of leaving those I have come to love. However, I'm very excited to be heading out on a new adventure with my best friend at my side. Randy and I have missed having projects to work on together since we started renting three years ago. Well...God heard our cry and is giving us plenty of projects to work on :) 

Speaking of projects, one of our first ones will be building a home for the new addition to our family...chickens. I've wanted them for years but with renting we just couldn't do it. Now that we'll own, we have new babies coming to live with us! So this spring I'll be concentrating on integrating them into our lives. I love that we'll know where our food is coming from and what's been feed to it.  Who knows what could be next our our little homestead!! 

By the end of the week I hope to have some semblance of order back into our chaotic life or at least have the chaos organized!  Besides I'm going through soap withdrawal....I need to make batch of soap. 

I have a few verses that encourage me in different places of my life but this one is our marriage verse and it's very fitting for us on many levels: 

Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes.
~ 1 samuel 12:16