Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How I let go

Just for fun picture: cousins Thomas and Sarah getting their money's worth at white water!

A very good friend sent me an email after reading my post "Allowing God to Work" (see below the cousin camp post) and asked how I actually let God take control. I am not an expert at all, but I enjoy being honest and trying to share what I have learned.
I don't have the time or energy to revise my reply to my friend and I gained permission to copy and paste what I wrote here on my blog.
So I'm copying it here in all its glory (sarcasm intended.) (And I did take out names and added the picture from google/istockphoto.com)
The question asked: How did you give it (the stuff I was stubborn about trying to control) to God?
My answer:
Oh goodness. It is a long, continual process. I am glad you asked. I'll try to include it in my next post. Basically I was being stubborn and a little bitter about a few issues. I knew I was holding back from God when I prayed and when I felt bitterness toward Him about my sweet kids not having a dad. (I know they have their Father in God but I still got upset when I felt they were missing out). I also felt guilt at times for feeling happy.
I finally got to a point where I decded to pray and be honest with God about those issues (he knew anyway but He wants us to be honest and forthright with Him) So I started letting other Christian friends that I trusted know about my feelings on those issues and God gave them the right words to say to encourage and pray for me. The issues started being "fixed" before my eyes and I recognized them as answered prayers. That helped build more trust for me to let go a little more each day of the bitterness. I allowed God to really heal my heart and let the guilt go. (guilt really can eat you alive-from the inside out.) the happiness kept growing and I finally could pray completely honestly with Him and tell Him I trust His will and I won't fight against it anymore (listen to that song on my blog) and then He showed me that if I am honest He can heal faster and also all my friends stepped up a notch without me asking and helped me a lot with house and yard
work and spending time really loving my kids and I could tell God was showing me "You let go and let me work". So I have.
I am not saying it is a completed process. I have to continually (on harder days it is hourly!) pray to God to keep taking these "issues" because as a human I naturally start grabbing them back and second guessing. So I just tell Him "Here you go again, sorry I took this (fill in the blank) issue back again."

I talked to a friend about this recently and one of the amazing things about this is that all God needs is mustard seed size faith! (and mustard seeds are tiny!!) we just have to be prepared to open our hearts and trust God with the things in our life that we want to control and He can work amazing things out...even exceed our dreams for what we think we want. He is our Father and He wants better than the best for us. We just have to listen to His words in His bible and with our tiny seed of faith, believe Him, tell Him through prayer we trust and believe and then get the heck out of his way!
I hope this was coherent. I just woke up. We can talk more soon. Love you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cousin Camp 2010 Part One

Aunt Jen and Uncle Mark graciously, or recklessly depending on how you see it, opened their home and acreage up to their nieces and nephews this week. We are all having a blast! High points: "Blokus-ing" Bahpah (see pic above), our own pony rides whenever we want, a humongous blow up water slide that is suitable for humans and canines apparently (see pic below), horses to feed, Oklahoma City Zoo homemade ice cream, cookouts, margaritas and we still have two whole days left! The low points: being stung on my back by a wasp and being pooped on by the Lorikeets at the zoo. Looks like the good is outweighing the bad so far (although that wasp sting really hurt; I keep saying my mantra, "it's all part of the fun, it's all part of the fun..."

(Her daddy would stick his tongue out like this when he was working hard like she is here.)

Yes it rained off and on while at the zoo but any of you who visit zoos in the summer with children know what sweet relief it was!

Here are the awesome shirts Grandma Tracy had made for us all. The design was taken from a drawing that one of Thomas's students did for him several years ago. It reads "I rule the world...because I am a Culp." His students loved and knew him well.

Count for the record: seven adults, six children, eight dogs, fourteen horses, one pony.
And a partridge in a pear tree.

And yes baby T and Sarah are here although they don't seem to make it into my pictures very often! (Thomas on the tram through the zoo.)

Hope our other two cousins can make it next year to Cousin Camp 2011 (If jen and mark invite us back after this crazy, fun adventure!)
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Allowing God to Work

Let me start off by saying a few months ago I finally surrendered everything in myself to God. I told Him, do with me what You will and I will listen.
As soon as I did that, a happiness and contentment followed that I have never known in my life before.
I clearly remember jumping on our trampoline with Caroline while Thomas sat in his exersaucer a few feet away thinking I have not felt this kind of freedom and contentment before. It was a blessing from God. I knew that I had God's power behind me to raise two amazing, extraordinary children without a husband. God had already shown me how well I was taken care of from my friends and family and that I was OK! I was content. and happy. and ready to do it for the next twenty years or forever if that what was best for my kids.
I have wanted to write a post about my new happiness for a while but that mean-not-from-God- guilt for being as happy as I was would creep in. I felt like some people might judge me for my happiness and wonder why I could be so happy after losing an amazing husband and father to my child(ren). (My breath still gets sucked out of me when I think about how Thomas did not meet his son on this side of heaven...)

My last round through Griefshare at the Fellowship church was what helped me turn a corner. A wonderful, strong Christian woman who was a two-time widow explained how the pain and memories are in technicolor in the first year or so and then the pain becomes less vibrant as in black and white. I remember thinking that may be true for you but not for me.
I doubted her when she said that back in January, but by March I started understanding what she meant. (Remember my post "Spring is Coming"?) Spring came and with it God opened my eyes to how he can make so much good come from terrible things. I had kept holding onto the feeling that I did not want good to come from Thomas' death. How in the world can good come from this??
I finally decided to turn that over to God and He has exceeded my expectations of how good can come and not only it can come, but it should come! We are all heading to a fate like Thomas'. Sure, it may come in a different way and his came in unfair and wrong way in that he was so young and full of amazing promise Hopefully most of us will be able to live out long, full lives. But we are all going to end the way he did, facing God and living eternally elsewhere. Blessedly for Thomas it is heaven and I will do everything in my power to get everyone I know, and some people I do not know, there as well.
God brought the Single Moms' Ministry idea to me and another fellow single mom who I did not even know yet. She also is surrendered to God and happiness is apparent in her words and actions. Those ladies are amazing women letting God direct our paths.
God also sends people to me telling me how they receive encouragement from my blog and my life. Praise God.
Trials will most certainly come in everyone's lives. I just want to let everyone know how much more bearable these are when you have a relationship with God. Even an added bonus is a relationship with a church family. My church has reached out and taken care of us in so many ways that it brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. Your church is a built-in support system that you need during your walk through the valleys, and yet they are there to celebrate with you when you are on the mountain top as well!

I keep this blog so that my kids will be able to read it and see the journey that life is. I can tell them all about the struggles we faced in the early years of their lives, but for them to be able to read it as it unfolds on this blog,I believe, will teach them that at times life is unfair, VERY unfair, hard, and full of times to make choices, yet when you have a real, thriving relationship with God, He directs your path and will exceed your wishes, hopes, and dreams and bring beauty from ashes.
He promises it in His bible, and by the way, God, thank you for already showing me that you mean what you say.

Some lyrics from one of my theme songs from Brandon Heath, "Trust You."

It's never easy changing direction
It's so unnatural to loosen up my grip
Are you growing weary, of all my good intentions
'Cause I know that you don't work that way

I'm not gonna fight You anymore
I'm not gonna try to lock the door
You took Your life and gave me Yours
There's no reason why
I shouldn't trust You with mine

Some days this weight upon my shoulder
Is my shame I know I should know better
'Cause you say that I must now surrender
There's no other way

Not gonna fight you anymore (not gonna fight you anymore)
I'm not gonna try to lock the door (I needed life You gave me Yours)
You took my life and gave me Yours
There's no good reason why, I shouldn't trust You.

Ps Thomas has two teeth and is crawling!