In His Timing: Take Hold of “Aha!” Moments

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I am one of those people whom you can try to teach something a hundred times and I won’t process the lesson. It doesn’t matter how many times someone has said the same exact thing to me beforehand. Some lessons I simply won’t learn until I figure it out and come to the conclusion myself.

My walk with God is quite similar. I can read a passage hundreds of times and still not get it. However, I will suddenly understand what I had read all along at the most random moments. For example, today, while heading home, the verse Micah 6:8, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” popped in my head. I am not saying I am a biblical scholar by any means, but the Lord is teaching me.

It took going through a current life trial for me to understand just what God was saying to the people of Israel. God does not want things or legalism when we come to Him. He wants us. He wants our hearts. God does not call His people to bring Him things in order to please. He wants a justice-seeking, merciful, and humble heart.

He wants this in our interactions with Him and with others. Of course, He is the ultimate judge and ruler, but He wants us to do what we know is morally right. Yet, also, have mercy on others, especially if they are the same people who need justice served upon them. Let me explain.

Let’s say someone you love hurts you. God calls you to forgive that person, yes. However, just because you deeply love the person does not mean they get off scot free for hurting you. I am not saying you will seek revenge upon them. But, you will be careful around this person. In fact, you may not trust this person as much anymore. Pain and hurt don’t come without some form of restoration.

I think the hardest of these lessons God requires of man is walking humbly with Him. There are a lot of times when I want to lash out at someone because of the pain, but I can’t. There are also a lot of times I want to think a circumstance turned out the way it did because of something I did. But, that is incorrect.

Humility is not only letting go of anger but it is also giving the glory to God. Humility is not only praising God when life makes sense but also praising Him when it is utterly confusing.

If what God requires of man sounds difficult in our strength, I can assure you, it indeed is. If this current trial in my life has taught me anything, it is how much I need Jesus Christ for every breath and step I take. God doesn’t call us to be perfect. He calls us to imperfectly rely on Him.

I tell you this, even if takes until your dying breath to understand the love of God, then so be it. Everything works in His timing, which is probably why humans get frustrated when people like me don’t understand concepts or ideas. But, that’s okay. Take hold of those random “Aha!” moments.

Imperfectly rely on Him and rest in His truth.

Blessings,

Renata

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Getting to Know Me: Experiences Worth Sharing

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I am a reflective person by nature. I love looking back at my life, as short-lived as it has been, and see what’s happened from the outside looking in. One tends to see circumstances in a different perspective. I like to see how much has changed and even how much has remained the same.

In a world filled with so much seriousness, hurt, and pain, I am going to take this post to let you all see a different side of me. Yes, I have a crazy life story that always seems to add another chapter of chaos. Yet, beneath all the chaos, I am a person rooted in her beliefs, values, joys, and pleasures.

This post will also show you just how scattered my thoughts can be some days. I go through MUCH editing, revising, and proofreading before I publish a post. Even then, there is always room for change. Nevertheless, this time, we’ll be a little creative.

I vividly remember one of the first pictures my mom ever took of me. I was bundled up in a bright pink coat, a pink hat—with a fuzzy ball on top, a pink dress, and pink gloves. I was standing in the middle of Red Square in Moscow, which is one of the most beautiful sights in the entire world. I cannot help but chuckle every time I think of the photo. I was not your typical girly-girl, nor did I like the color pink. However, the picture would beg to differ.

A little part of Russia travels with me every place I call home. I have five sets of the famous nesting dolls from Russia that always act as decor. They often provide great entertainment and joy for guests. They even act as a wonderful conversation starter. Most importantly, they remind me the nation is filled with beautiful things and beautiful people, no matter how tarnished and corrupted it may be at times.

People also have the tendency to assume I like cold weather because I am from Russia. That could not be farther from the truth. I am the person who considers anything below 80 degrees chilly. In fact, I would love to live in San Diego, California one day. I went there for my honeymoon and never wanted to leave. My husband strategically made sure that was the first part of our trip, so I would be motivated for part two. If I can’t live in San Diego, I wouldn’t mind Galveston, Texas either. There’s something spectacular about living close to the beach that I can’t resist.

Even though I hope to one day live by the beach, I don’t really care for swimming or the water. When I was in grade school, I decided to venture on into the deep end of the pool since I had a pool ring to help me swim. I remember seeing my dad jump off the diving board just before a boy stuck my head under the water and held it there for what felt like an eternity. I don’t remember how, but the boy eventually stopped. I gasped for air and started having a coughing fit. From that moment, I have not traveled outside the edge of the deep end of the pool. If I am in more than four feet of water, my legs instantly start to feel like jelly.

Not only do I have a slight fear to water, I am afraid of heights, spiders, snakes, and mice. Naturally, I am afraid of heights because of my disability. My fear of spiders is fairly simple. If I see a spider in the bathtub, dead or alive, you bet your bottom dollar I won’t be showering until that sucker is down the drain. I lived in the country for nearly fourteen years. I saw enough snakes and mice for a lifetime. Okay, not really, but it sure seemed like it.

My years of living in the country on a small farm taught me I am a city gal. I don’t have a problem visiting my family in the country, but I wouldn’t want to reside there. I think the closest I will ever get to living in the country is a couple miles outside of a town. Even then, though, I would have to absolutely LOVE the home. Living in close proximity to a myriad of options is worth insane traffic. I will ultimately see what I decide when I buy my first home several years from now.

Even though I long to own a home one day, one of my guilty pleasures is a small living space. When I say small, I mean a place that is not too big and too small, just the right size. It’s hard to find, but I know it’s possible because the apartment I live in is just the right size. I don’t like to be too cluttered. Right now, we have to pick and choose what we want in our home carefully, which forces us to only get what we absolutely need.

I close with this, my favorite part of any story, movie, or television series is the ending. As a writer and storyteller, I am enthralled to see how a storyline ends and wraps up. If an ending makes me cry my eyes out, then I think it’s absolutely wonderful, incredible storytelling. As much as we all hate to admit it, the ending provides the most intense portion of an episode or chapter. It is what makes us look forward to the next page or long for more in a tale we don’t want to end.

Today, the ending provides an opportunity for me to look back on one day from the outside looking in.  Don’t fear self-reflection. As scary as it can be sometimes, it’s wonderful to see the innate qualities about ourselves that remain the same. I also hope this blog has and continues to allow you all to learn more about me.

Blessings,

Renata

 

 

My Story: When I Hit Rock Bottom

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Often times, people tell me one of the qualities they like most about me is my honesty and rawness with them. I am not mentioning this to be cocky either. It really is true. I am one of the most honest people you’ll meet. It’s part of my natural, subconscious habits and behaviors.

In fact, while at a physical therapy appointment earlier this week, my therapist figured out I was someone who generally got A’s, I was newly married, and I typically don’t do proper stretches unless I want to, regardless of doctors’ orders. She figured all of this out without me saying a word.

Like I said, I am an honest person. Although this is something I tend to love about myself, there are times where my level of honesty is my biggest insecurity. Sometimes, I would love to be able to hide behind years of hurt and pain and not have my facial expressions say a thousand words. Yet, without fail, they do.

Therefore, I will be honest with you. I hit rock bottom this week. This week was another difficult week. I am in a season of life filled with many valleys. I hit rock bottom in my relationship with Jesus and practically got back to square one, which took place three years. Let me explain.

When I first met my husband, I came to him in a season filled with many hurts and pains. I didn’t have the greatest family life. Yes, my parents loved me and cared for me, but some parts of my life just didn’t make sense with my adoption. Therefore, my actions followed suit with what I knew—chaos.

Three years ago, I questioned God and all I thought I knew to be true about Him. I didn’t want anything to do with Him. I chose to vigorously fight rather than fall into His arms. I found myself there again for a short time this week. While attending a Bible study—yes, a Bible study—I looked up while everyone shared prayers requests, and I said to myself, “Why am I even here?”

Then, on my way home, I find out a family member of mine had passed away that day. Welcome to rock bottom.

As I sat in the car, all I could think was, “Why God? Why do I continuously get a trial after trial?” I seemed to be more upset about having the trial, regardless of what it was, than the specific trial itself. Needless to say, my emotional turmoil began.

One of my initial questions to the news was, “Does God really exist? Have I been believing in a lie?” One of the first things my husband said to me was, “I knew when you received your initial news all those months ago, that we would get back to square one.” Square one is the illustration above from three years ago. He was right. I was back there again.

I was distraught and so confused. I didn’t know what to believe or say or do. All I could do was call a friend and tell her where I was in my walk. I questioned the decision for a couple days. Honestly, I felt ashamed of telling her. After weeks, if not months, worth of bad weeks, I didn’t want to tell people I was still struggling. I was especially struggling with the fact that I trusted her with the information at all.

Then, my husband brought this point to my attention, “Even though I feel distant and away from God, the fact that I told someone shows I care enough about my walk with Jesus Christ to tell people where I am, even if it is only for a short moment.”

In other words, as much as I tried to deny God’s existence and believe He was not in control, in my heart, I knew He was. I knew the moment I called my friend. I can tell you right now, I wouldn’t have called her three years ago if I was in the same situation. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have told anyone. I would have just let it be and buried it.

I also knew my relationship with God was real when I read a homework assignment and said, “I don’t agree with this because it goes against God’s Word.” I also knew when I sang praise and worship songs to myself while doing housework. As much as I try to deny it, I know God is in control of my current trials and seasons of life. He always is.

So, yet again, I tell you I am in a hard place. But, I also know the toughest effects are only temporary. The situation will always affect me in some way, but there will be closure soon.

I also tell you, earlier this week, I didn’t know if God was real. I didn’t know where I was in life. But, He brought me back to Him. All I, and anyone else, can do from this point on is ask for strength today, tomorrow, and every day. Whether we are in a season of joy or despair, we need His strength or, like me, you too will hit rock bottom.

Blessings,

Renata

 

Even When You Don’t Know Why: Go and Obey His Call

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Before I ever tell anyone the things I excel in, I often dump all the bad first. It seems to be easier to degrade myself than it is to uplift. When I focus on the bad parts, I tend to overjudge and not give myself any grace. I destroy myself well before I say, “Hey, you messed up. You had a bad day. That doesn’t mean you are unloved by God.” In fact, it means the complete opposite.

I am still working on giving myself grace. This past week, like many recent ones, has been difficult and filled with a lot of hurts thrown at others. I seemed to constantly hurl one sinful and irrational behavior after another. Just when I thought I would run to Jesus and deal with the root of my problems, I continued to throw more stones. I didn’t think I deserved to come face-to-face with Jesus after all of my recent actions.

But I did. I always do because of His abounding grace.

This past weekend, I went to a women’s conference at my church. However, I can tell you right now, when I woke up the morning of the conference, I flat out did not want to go. The topic the speaker planned to discuss was way too close and personal to my current life and heart situation. I wanted to run away rather than deal with God’s nudge saying, “Go, Renata. I will take care of you.”

The conference, like many other events I felt called to attend, was where I needed to be this past weekend. Yet again, Jesus showed me if I feel inclined to not go to an event that will bring me closer to Him or others, that’s a fairly obvious sign I NEED to go. It’s God’s soft reminder saying, “I am the One in control. Just trust Me.”

It’s usually not about whether or not I want to go but if He has called me to go. Let me set the scene. Recently, I was invited to a girls’ night event by someone who I don’t know too well, but I long to get to know better. The moment I received the invite, I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait. I was so grateful for the time I would get to know this woman.

However, as the event grew closer, my insecurities flooded over me. I thought, “Oh, no! I will be the oddball and youngest one in the group. I can’t go.” I also thought, “I don’t want to share my recent hurts and pains. If I don’t go, I won’t have to.” Oh, and then I thought, “I haven’t RSVP’d yet. I can say no.” You get the point. I wanted to run away from what I felt led to do. My initial reaction spoke for itself.

Guess what? I went to the girls’ night out and I went to the church conference anyway. The moment I got to both events, I felt at peace and I knew I was supposed to be there. You know how it goes, you fight it and fight it. Then, when it boils down to the actual event, you feel like the person God created you to be.

I was still the same person as I walked through the front doors. I still felt the same hurts and the same pains. I still had the same insecurities. However, I too felt joy and peace. For the first time all week, I began to feel at peace because I loosened my grip in the tug of war I played with Jesus.

I would love to tell you I had the greatest time of my life and I am absolutely thrilled I went to both events. But, I cannot. I didn’t fix all my problems over some mashed potatoes or a few sessions with a guest speaker either. What I can tell you, though, is I went. Also, I grew closer to people I dearly love and took a few steps back towards Jesus.

Honestly, I don’t know why God nudged me to attend both events and I may never know why. I could’ve been there to help someone else rather than myself. Again, I may never know why and that’s okay. The speaker at the conference reiterated a point I have heard before that goes along these lines: Sometimes, we don’t have to know the overall masterpiece of His plan, we just have to do what God is calling us to do.

If you ever feel God telling you, “Go.” Then, go. You don’t have to know why. Just obey with every bit of your broken, sinful self. Do what He is calling you to do.

Blessings,

Renata

 

Don’t Let Satan Get Cozy: Put on the Full Armor of God

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I preface this all by saying this post is more for me than anyone else who reads it. This is probably one of the hardest, yet most necessary blog posts I will ever write. I want to look back at this one day and see growth. I want to see grace. I want to see Jesus blind the darkness. I am not going to write about another topic because this situation needs to be brought to light.

For my entire life, and even still to this day, I have had trust issues with people. I have the hardest time letting people in my life because of my adoption. I have spent years of tears and frustration and counseling trying to deal with the reality that my biological mother left me in the hospital. It has been the foundation and root of much hurt and pain.

It has affected every relationship I have ever had with people. I am a master at shutting people out and finding a way to make them leave my life. I have spent years dealing with someone leaving me instead of believing Jesus is greater than the occurrence that took place the first moments of my life.

For the past couple of weeks or so, I have distanced myself from people without even realizing it. I have kept things from people out of fear of disappointing them. I have distanced myself from God because I am having such a hard time believing I can trust Him.

It’s incredible how our subconscious works. It’s funny how we creep back into our old tendencies without any hesitation. Most of the time, when we try to tell ourselves to do one thing, we always manage to do the opposite. My natural tendency is to lurk and hide behind walls, to avoid topics and people out of fear of having to be real and honest.

I knew I was doing that when I couldn’t remember the last time I had a genuine conversation with my husband. I constantly felt distant and distracted. I mean, he’s my best friend, and I managed to draw away from him. I thank God I came to this realization on my own, though, because it was then I knew I am right where Satan wants me.

He kept feeding me lies and luring me away from dealing with the root of my recent distance from others. A lot of times, I can pinpoint why I feel depressed or distant. I have tried to figure out why it has occurred this time, but it just never came to me. However, the moment it did, Satan was front and center in my head and heart.

How do I know this? Let me set the scene. My husband asked me, “What part of your trial is specifically causing YOU pain? Not the effects of the trial, but specifically you.” I listed my top three responses. My third response was simple, yet mighty and profound. Trust was broken.

Someone, who I thought I could always trust, broke that trust. I knew this to be true beforehand. However, I never dealt with it. I buried it. I ignored it. I avoided it until it consumed me. It doesn’t matter who broke my trust. What matters is that it happened and I need to deal with it.

As I lay in my bed and come to this innate conclusion, it roars out of me. I literally scream at the top of my lungs. And I start to wail and scream into my pillow because I just can’t handle it. I am so upset about coming around this topic again and again. At this point, I am angry that all of my greatest trials in my life revolve around broken trust and people leaving. I cannot handle it at this point.

Again, I am right where Satan wants me.

Then, I become still, and I look at my husband again. I can feel my face forming an expression, but I don’t really know what it is exactly. Then, my husband says, “Why are you looking at me that way? You are looking at me like you hate me.”

And again, I cry. I apologize and I don’t know what to do. Again, I am right where Satan wants me.

And it is in that moment, I feel Satan trying to fight the Holy Spirit within me. The battle is fierce. All I can do is yell, “Stop it! Leave me alone.” But, the truth is, I don’t have the power or authority to make Satan leave. Only God does.

Brothers and sisters, God is trustworthy. Humans break our trust because they are sinful. However, I have spent too much time and energy running away from God to realize this. God knew it would take an encounter with Satan to make me begin turning back to Him.

I am still a wreck. I still have trust issues. I still feel distant from God and those dearest to me. But, instead of shutting down, I am going to take small steps towards freedom from the chains that hold me down. I am going to share with my husband. I am going to enjoy fellowship with believers. I am going to put on the full armor of God, as expressed in Ephesians 6:10-18.

If it seems like my relationship with God has been a rollercoaster ride, you are absolutely right. It has. The reason why is fairly simple. Here’s why:

I keep mentioning the fact I am going through a trial right now because it’s affecting me in so many ways. Honestly, it’s probably one of the hardest trials I have ever had. And it is the catalyst of the recent uproar. My husband told me we all have weak spots. And you know what? He’s right.  We all have that one area that constantly tests us and tries us. It’s the one area that is the root of every struggle and tribulation. I am sure some of you know exactly what I am talking about.

My call to you is find your weak spot and take the initiative to deal with it. Be honest with where you are in that weak spot. Don’t lie to yourself and do not allow Satan to get cozy in your heart. My call to you is not simple, nor is it easy. But, with God and our full armor, we can fight Satan. He is not stronger than God. He does not rule and reign. God does.

Again, I tell you, don’t let Satan get cozy in your heart. Fight him with the full armor of God.

Blessings,

Renata