Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Hope You Dance!

"Jesus invited us to a dance...and we've turned in into a march of soldiers, always checking to see if we're doing it right and are in step and in line with the other soldiers. And we aren't even supposed to be marching in the first place." - Steve Brown

Every morning when my feet hit the floor I have a choice to make: will I dance? or will I march?

I spend alot of my days marching. 

As a woman, I need to make sure all of you other women "soldiers" approve of how I look. Of how I dress. Of what I say.  Me.  I need you to approve of me. Because it is about me.
And I certainly must keep up with you.  With your expectations.  With who you think I should be. I lose focus.  I lose focus before I even get the chance to focus on Christ.  Because it is about you.   
And when I do this, I lose the beauty of community.  I miss out on fellowship that God designed and deemed necessary.  I miss out on the dance of abundant life.  And my eyes aren't fixed on Christ if they are fixed on you or me.  

Marching is exhausting.
Dancing is freeing. 
In dancing, there is no status quo. There are little expectations.  I am free.  You are free. 
Because Christ is enough.  And he is enough to fulfill and exceed these expectations we set for ourselves.
Lord, let me hear your music and show me how to dance!
I hope you are dancing!
"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying so please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians1:10

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3

Friday, June 21, 2013

Put Off, Put On. Repeat.

Many things come up in a day that can (if I allow it) take me back to my past.  But sometimes it is a good and healthy reminder that I never want to go back. 
For example, my old email. (don't stop reading--I know it sounds dumb)

 When I left treatment and tried to sign into my old email address, I could not, for the life of me, remember the password.  So, I created a new one.  But just the other day, it clicked and I remembered.  So 5,064 emails later, I was overwhelmed.  But mostly at the "sent" folder. There was a hurting young lady with absolutely no hope.  She was crying out for help and trying to appear "together".  But with no intimacy whatsoever.  She hid behind the eloquent words typed out and sent.  She was longing for a way out.  And this seemed to be the only way that she could communicate, because to be in face-to-face contact with another human being was surely too much. 
God is in the details. 

I don't know the protection that was over me not remembering that password when I left treatment.  Maybe I would have communicated with old friends?  Maybe I would have wallowed in guilt of the content of those emails and not been able to move ahead with this abundant life that he promised me in him.
I don't know. 
And I don't have to know. 
I am just thankful.  Whatever the reason behind me not remembering that old password, I am thankful.  I do not know who that girl was behind those old emails in that 'sent' folder.  It is not who I am anymore. I am no longer wearing my own dirty robe.  I am clothed in his righteousness. 
He is changing me.
"...assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-23
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20
Please know that I realize that not everyone's story is like mine. 
(Because how BORING would that be if we all followed the same suit?  Praise God for differences!) 

It is evident that I had given myself over to the world because the sin of my past has manifested itself mostly outward.
But every single one of us needs a Savior.  That is the commonality of us all. 
We are all born apart from this wondrous thing called grace.  And that is the only thing that can bring us into a right relationship with Jesus.  None of us deserve it. 
 And none of us can earn it. 
We all have to put off our old self day-by-day. One phrase that often comes up in recovery circles that I love is "one day at a time". 
We must die to our old selves AND LEAVE IT BEHIND (even something as silly as old email addresses that can potentially lead us back into sin), and put on our new selves, in Christ...and RUN.  Run this race that is set before us, throwing off every weight and the sin that so easily entangles.  (Hebrews 12:1-2)

(...and I finally got to delete that old email address!)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tough Love

Have you ever experienced the kind of love that feels absolutely NOTHING like love?  Tough love, the get-in-your-face-and-call-your-bluff kind of love? 

I have.  And it felt like my skin was being ripped off.  It hurt.  

The ladies in this picture loved me until I could love myself.  

We were all at JSU together, knitted together through discipleship groups, beach projects, and living under the same roof.  These are the ones I studied God's word with, prayed with, laughed and cried with, and spent countless hours with.  We knew each other well.  I also stood beside each one of them as a bridesmaid as they married the men of their dreams.  Our friendships were strong...until I decided that drugs were more important than anything else on this Earth.  

What I didn't know is that these are some of the people who would literally help save my life.  

These are the women who had such a passion for God's word and hatred for sin that they would not stand back and watch me kill myself with drugs and alcohol. They refused to stand on the sidelines any longer. They (along with some others that aren't in this picture) were used to open my eyes to see God for who he is.  

Now, let's take off the rose-colored glasses. It was u-g-l-y at the time.  I was angry, exposed, humiliated, and vulnerable. And when you are living in darkness, the last thing you want is light to come in and expose what you are working so hard to protect. Trust me, nothing about it was pretty at the time.  They were just out to get me. So, I wanted nothing to do with any of them. I thought they were cruel and hypocritical.  Every last one of them.  They were taking away the only thing I could find comfort in.  They just didn't understand me.  They didn't understand what I had been through. 

Why wouldn't they just let me live my life and they live theirs?  

Because they loved me enough to lose me.  To lose our friendship.  

Only in hopes that just maybe God would use their tough love and truth they spoke so that I would repent.  

God used these ladies to get my attention and get me into treatment at New Life (again, I thought being "sent off" was cruel and unusual punishment for just enjoying some pills and vodka-- denial!!).  I am so thankful for that tough love.  God heard them when they "stood in the gap" for me. He pursued me and brought me to a place of repentance.  

 These women cared more about God's glory than my comfort.  
That is what I call LOVE.  

I got to see them all today for the first time in a year and a half.  I was anxious and wondering what it would be like. 
Would they still be upset with me?  I hurt them. I lied, stole, and manipulated for years.  
Would they doubt my sincerity?  
Would they even speak? 
What do they expect me to be like? 
They were just excited to have their friend "back". I left refreshed, encouraged, hopeful, and thankful.  Thankful that these women believe, understand, and live the gospel.  

Every single day.  

My prayer is that I will be the kind of friend that these ladies have been to me.  Even if it hurts.  As long as sin is struck down and God's glory is made known.  

"...speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." -Ephesians 4:15-16

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Did I Do To Deserve This?

You thought this was gonna be a pity-party post, didn't you?  Title threw you off, huh? Well, take off your party hats and toss the confetti.   This ain't no pity party. 

I look at my life today and often wonder:  what did I do to deserve this?  And the answer is: NOTHING. 

I see it more and more every having and getting things that I absolutely DO NOT deserve. 

And that is the very definition of grace.

Unmerited favor.
Getting what I do not deserve.

The greatest gift of grace that I will ever experience is my relationship with Jesus. 
(Like a "good Christian girl" I knew to put that one first.) 
But, I do not say that as a trite statement whatsoever.  I have been called out, pursued, changed, and adopted by my creator.  WHAT IN THE WORLD?  How could I ever think I deserve this?! 

The support system I have absolutely BLOWS MY MIND.  My family has been more than supportive and flexible during my time in treatment and my transition back into the "real world".  Never have they monopolized my time, put me on a guilt trip, or made me live under the shame and guilt of my addiction. There is alot to be learned from my family, namely, forgiveness. They are letting me live, something I have wanted to do for so long, but could not. They haven't had unrealistic expectations of me. They are just happy to see my spirit alive.  And I am, too. 

And my church...I pray I never take my church for granted.  I am drowning in truth, love, acceptance, forgiveness, and second-chances at my church.  I am submerged in the gospel. These men and women are chasing the heart of God.  The word is alive and it is changing us. Our pastor has a love for God's word that is contagious and it is trickling down. And the best part is that I do not mean just Sundays and Wednesdays.  I get to do LIFE with these people. 

I am being discipled by the classiest, most honest, loving, godly lady that I know.  I cannot say enough about her. She calls me her own child.  We pray together.  She lets me vent.  I listen. She listens. She cooks, I eat.  We laugh....oh do we laugh!! She challenges me, I challenge her.  We confront sin in each other's life. We talk about God's word.  We shop.  We talk about any and everything.  She teaches me about fashion, good olive oil, and how to cook healthy.   I teach her what it means to live in the mind of a recovering drug addict. I keep her on her toes.    We do life together. 

I meet with several women around my age, twice a month   I get to learn from them...from their honesty, wisdom, and life experience.  We cut up and our time together could last for hours on end, but most have children and a husband waiting on them at home. 

My job.  This is a subject for a different post. But I will leave you with Malachi 3:10:
"Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need."
And I don't mean financial blessings only.  God has really shown me his character through this job.

I have a place to call home.  FINALLY.  For so many years, I was nomadic.  And I do not use that term loosely.  I would live somewhere long enough (3 months at the longest) for people to start noticing something wasn't right with me (drugs) and I would pick up and move. I literally lived out of my car.  But now I have a cute, quaint apartment in the heart of little downtown Gadsden that I adore.  It's mine!   I will never take a home for granted. 

God is redeeming my life, one day at a time.  His grace has chased me down and I have surrendered.  And his grace has given me purpose. He is making all things new. 

"The Lord will restore the years that the swarming locusts have eaten..." Joel 2:25

I am so thankful for my life today.  My prayer is that my actions will ALWAYS show it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dangerous Expectations

Katy Watters
Age: 32 years
Marital Status: Single


Something isn’t right here.  I am supposed to be married with kids by now. 

This used to be crippling for me. It was so bad that I numbed the horrific pain that came along with being single with drugs and alcohol.  To the point that it nearly killed me. 

I am usually not one to talk about this because it can run borderline pity-party. But hopefully someone out there can benefit from what I am about to share. 

I went to a beautiful wedding a few weeks ago.  It was a perfect picture of a Christ centered marriage.  Absolutely perfect. From the dress to the flowers, to the old rustic barn it was in, it was perfect.

But then I heard it on the way home.  The age-old lie that I believe oftentimes:
 "something is wrong with you, Katy.  You should be married.  What’s the problem?"

Several other things have happened lately and the lie has been screaming in my head.  SCREAMING!  It has gotten to the point that it is downright embarrassing for me to be single.  EMBARRASSING. 

Where is this lie coming from? 

The world.  The world and it’s expectations. And for the past few weeks, I have chosen to believe the world over my heavenly Father. 
 God doesn’t expect for me to be married right now.  He doesn’t expect for me to have kids.  He doesn’t expect for me to be anywhere other than where I am.  And guess what? 
He is not disappointed in me. 
So, I do not have to be embarrassed.  I don’t have to be insecure.  
I am complete.  Because I am in Christ. 

I came home from (my amazing) church today and just wept.  Cried out to God.  I told him about the loneliness.  I got honest with him about how much I desire a husband and children.  (sidenote: I believe those desires are good and healthy, when not coupled with a pity-party).  And he let me cry it out.  

But like the gentle, loving Father that he is, he brought me back to truth.  

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor.  No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
-Psalm 84:11

He is not withholding one thing from me.  

It is GOOD that I am single.

Because if it weren’t, I wouldn’t be. 

I do not want to waste my singleness.

This has pointed me to the ultimate wedding day.  The day when Christ calls his perfect bride home.  

The day when I will finally see his face.  

“For your Husband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of Hosts, And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the Earth. " 
-Isaiah 54:5