Pruning

After viewing several articles and watching YouTube videos, Garrett and I decided that we were ready to prune our beloved roses that brought us so much happiness. We reluctantly got out the clippers and prayed that our roses would come back abundantly stronger. As I clipped away, I felt guilty–I was stifling the roses chance to grow and when I was finished, the rose bushes looked so colorless and lifeless. What did I do?

It was then that God confirmed in my heart that I did the right thing. He showed me my life and the difficult times in which He had pruned me, preparing me to live a life filled  with His abundance. I remembered those times, but I wished I could have bypassed the painful pruning.

When I was 11 years old, my care-free years ended when my heart rate went from 70 beats per minute to 224 beats per minute!  Shortly after being hospitalized, I was introduced to a cardiologist who placed me on a two-week holter monitor. I felt like a lab specimen and could not bear to go to school hooked up to wires for the next two weeks. I felt humiliated and could not understand what I did wrong to bring on such misery.

I am now 31 years old, free from tachycardia. Since the age of 11, I had to undergo 3 heart surgeries and sample several different doses of heart medication. I have at least 4 beta blockers in which my very supportive mother had to hold back the tears as a way to reassure me that every thing was going to be okay.

I was also not able to be on a sports team because my heart was not reliable. I did not want to let my team down in case my heart acted up.  As a matter of fact, I remember when my I found out my husband was an All-American runner and I smiled and told him, “That’s great because I am half-Czech.” Since that time, Garrett has patiently taken it upon himself to introduce to the sports world.

My heart problems enabled me to see a side of life I may have never known. My mother was my number one cheerleader during that time.  She was there for every appointment and we would always get Wendy’s frosties after visiting the cardiologist. The time we spent together was priceless.  As I grew older, I began volunteering in the hospital as a a Candy Striper. I felt like God gave me the gift to look into the patients’ hearts instead of their IVs and bandages. After college I was blessed to work as a child life volunteer, though it was difficult to see the pain the kids were enduring, I felt like God had given me the compassion to help them get through it.

Looking back, I see that God used my heart problems as a way to prune my soul and for that I am forever blessed.  When difficult situations arise, I will often tell me husband that God is working through us to prepare us for something good.

Questions:

1. How has God pruned your life to help you grow healthier?

2. What helped you trust in God’s plan while you were being pruned?

This Little Light of Mine…

Not long ago, Garrett and I sat in the Target parking lot listening to the Sunday Harvest Crusade message. Our plan was to listen while driving and get some errands finished, but God had a different plan for us. Garrett and I could not turn it off because the message was so powerful. We sat in the car for over an hour taking in every word.

It was such a blessing to have time with God and each other. Every once in awhile, we received some weird glances from people who questioned why we were just sitting there listening and at times worshipping off key.

We felt so refreshed after the program and we were hungry for more, but life’s demands were knocking on the car door.  As soon as we opened our doors, it was like opening Pandora’s box. Time wore on and our spiritual zeal faded as we had to wait in long lines and listen to disgruntled customers.

No longer were we protected from the darkness, we were in it. God did not create us to live sheltered lives avoiding the darkness. He called us to step into the darkness.  We have a choice to hide the flame within us, but as Christians we need to go light the world!  Matthew 5:14 states, “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”

Questions

1. How do you shine the flame Jesus has put into your soul on a daily basis?

2. What do you do to become spiritually refreshed again?

Being Like Cinderella

As a little girl, I dreamt of being Cinderella and falling in love with my future husband at the ball. My sister and I would put on only our finest dress-up clothes and I would imagine I was dancing with Prince Charming. As I got older, I learned that love was not supposed to be a fairy tale in which people live happily ever after. This insidious lesson weakend my heart. I never knew what it felt like to be loved by a guy until I met my husband. I was under the misconception that love is earned and that I had to act and dress a certain way to achieve it. Garrett came into my life shortly after the passing of my dear grandma Baba. A part of me died with her and did not have the strength to put on an act. I was tired of playing hard to get and I wanted to be accepted for me. I remember taking a very courageous step in my relationship with Garrett. Early on, I wrote to him and told him that I would not play games with him or be who he wanted me to be. I just wanted to be accepted and loved for being me. This was a courageous move because I thought it would scare him off and that he would be disappointed that I could not give him the image he wanted.

Do you know what Garrett did? He loved me that much more!!!

Questions:

1. How have you courageously demonstrated your self-worth?

2. Have you ever dreamt of being Cinderella or the Prince?

3. What events took place in your life to realize that there is a huge discrepancy between fairy tales and real life?

Day 10-Expectation List

God had my husband and me write all the things we were lacking in our marriage, then we took those things and made an expectation list. God asked me a couple of very important questions, “Is your husband the man you see him to be? How do you see him?” This was a very powerful exercise as through God I was able to break the lies of the enemy and declare our relationship as blessed in the name of Jesus Christ! Not only that, but God took me to the side and spoke to my heart. In doing so, He assured me that my expectation list was a means to becoming a princess in Him–I was allowing myself to feel the royalty that God feels we all deserve.

My husband is absolutely incredible for more reasons than I can write. At some point, I began listening to the enemy’s lies: I am unworthy of my husband, I should not speak up about the desires of my heart, and I should do only that which makes Garrett happy. I thought that I was being an exceptional wife who truly showed love to her husband. Now, I realize that I did not give Garrett all of me because I did not feel worthy of accepting his complete love.

Day 9-Royal Blessings

God tucked me into bed with words of assurance. I thought that having nice things was a sin and that to be a true disciple I would have to give away everything I owned. I also thought that my life would change for the worse if I accepted lavish gifts from God because my joy would come from the gifts. In prayer, God told me not to live on man’s approval, but on His. He spoke of the importance of being at a point in which I could feel my royalty in Him, even if I was wearing pajamas or comfortable-around-the-house clothes. I learned that I first needed to be walking in God’s royalty so that I could feel worthy of receiving His gifts.

My true royalty comes from my heart because that is where God resides. I remember playing pretend with my little sister when we younger. We used to turn our house into a luxury hotel, feasting on delicacies, such as fresh grapes, and bathing in one of the exclusive pools–a big bucket filled with water. We dressed up in my mom’s clothing and truly felt like royalty. This precious memory reminds me of how God wants us to find joy in the blessed opportunities with which He presents us. Our royalty is not defined by who we are or what we have. Our royalty is the joy we feel when we can turn a large bucket into a exclusive luxury pool.

What royal opportunities has God gifted you with?

What is your favorite royal childhood memory?

Day 8-The Battle Begins

I am ashamed to write this piece, but if it speaks to at least one of your hearts, it is worth it. I grew up with the mindset that stuff equals happiness. My parents gave me the best childhood possible with lots of stuff. I did not think anything of it, until my husband and I came back from our honeymoon. All of a sudden, within a matter of months, I developed a poverty mindset. I was in shock after our first grocery trip. It seemed like the smallest purchases were pretty darn expensive. I foolishly questioned how we would make it on a single income.

I found myself complaining about finances, bills, and extra expenses. I figured it was good to vent all my frustrations and hold nothing back. I quickly learned that there are important times in our lives when holding things back makes our marriage that much stronger. My complaining shortly thereafter was accompanied by fear. I had no idea how we would manage on a single income, especially after a very intense surgery I had in June. My fear began to squash my faith. I was right where the enemy wanted me, forgetting the power of God’s promise and His provision in our lives.

Beloved,

I pray for your finances to not control you or to be a determining factor in God’s love for you. If only you knew of all the blessings He has in store for you: press on and keep

…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:13-14

 

Day 7-False Sense of Royalty

I took it upon myself to define my royalty by doing a future dream shopping trip with my husband. We went to a car dealership and we were instantly greeted by a man who showed us what we came for. When I got into one of the fully-loaded cars–wood-paneled, GPS, rear view backup camera–I felt like complete royalty.  That is, until I test drove it and I realized the speed limit was 40 mph while I felt much safer going a smooth 25 mph. When the first car seemed a bit big for me, I had a Goldie Locks moment and tested the smaller model. However, my husband and I both decided that we liked the first car and I asked the salesman if he would mind if I tried out the first car one more time since business was slow. His response was, “I would rather not.” Then he handed me his card and said, “Call me, otherwise this was a waste of my time.” I could not believe the audacity of the sales representative. Didn’t he know that he was talking to royalty? At the time, it upset me, but now I can look back at laugh at the whole experience.

God taught me that stuff does not define me or make me royalty. My heart was in the wrong place on that afternoon because I thought royalty was tied in with luxury as well as acceptance from others. God showed me that my royalty is defined and created by my relationship with Him. My friend explained to me that I need to get rid of my strong attachment to money. She explained that my royalty comes from loving Christ and His children. Instead of praying in my royalty in Christ, I became very conflicted and entered a battle of the flesh vs. the Spirit. Like any battle, it was ugly and very difficult.

Have you ever allowed one of your special possessions such as a car or a house define you?

How did you take your identity back in Christ?