7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 7

Comfort zone 7

Day 7
This is NOT the End

It started last Friday when I felt the need to take 7 days to step outside of my comfort zone.  What I thought would be just a little uncomfortable actually became more than uncomfortable.  Some days I found myself trying to reason with God when I didn’t want to talk about certain things, and on those days I usually typed my words with a tremble in my hands and shed a few tears before clicking Publish.  God’s perspective is much greater than mine, though.  I’m thankful I did this.  Believe it or not, it was incredibly freeing. 

Today will be a different way of stepping outside of the comfort zone.  Maybe I will be required to step out even more, but maybe I won’t be required to step out at all.  The reason I don’t know is because I leave it in your hands.  I’m opening today up for specific questions from anyone reading this.  Of course, if you’re reading months after this has been written and posted, feel free to still ask questions.

Maybe no one will ask questions.  Who knows?  I do hope to interact with many of my readers as a result of these 7 days, though.  I know people might have specific questions about something they’ve read this week or something they’ve heard.  Please, don’t hesitate to ask regardless of how small or big the question is. 

This may be day 7 of my 7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone, but this is definitely not the end of me stepping outside of what is comfortable for me.  One thing I know is true; if I’m walking out my purpose, I’m going to be asked to get outside of the comfort of my little walls.  Look at those who have done anything great, past or present.  I bet it won’t take long to find that they had to step outside of their comfort zones in order to be great. 

What is one way you can step outside of your comfort zone this weekend?

**If you would like to contact me to ask questions about anything regarding anything I’ve talked about this week, or if you just feel the need to talk, you can always comment to this post.  However, if you would prefer it to not be quite so public, you can use the contact form below to send me an email.**

 

7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 6

comfort zone 6

Day 6
Laying it Out There

As I’ve said throughout this 7 day journey, I am a private person.  I haven’t openly spoken about things that have gone on in my life – unless they’ve long passed.  I’m a firm believer that God has a plan for everything in our lives.  He even has a plan for us to succeed and be blessed after we’ve made decisions that were out of his design for us.  I’m also a firm believer that everything in our past are tools used to shape us into the person we are today.  I am thankful for the last 17 years of my life, and I have been so blessed.  I feel it’s necessary to say this before continuing on because I don’t want the words that follow to be skewed in any way.

I had a dream.  It’s the same dream many have and strive for.  The thing with me is not that I think I’m different or better than the next person, but when I have a dream or goal in mind, I never even entertain the idea that it could go any other way.  My dream was to get married, have kids, and be the first in my family to stay that way and create memories together that follow us into our last moments of life.  I wanted to be the elderly couple holding hands and laughing at something that happened decades before.  This was my dream. 

Even before we married, we struggled immensely, but we continued moving forward any way.   We were very good at making it appear things were great when, in actuality, we were merely best friends living as roommates from the beginning.  And that worked off and on for a while.  We even involved ourselves in participating and even in leading small groups for married couples in hopes we could find that kind of bond between us.  We desperately tried to force that bond to happen, but for some reason, it just didn’t.

As I mentioned in a previous post, things kept in the dark are given room to grow, and it’s an open invitation for the Enemy to play.  As the years passed, we added more to that dark area, and the Enemy didn’t pass up the opportunity to throw the ball to him every so often and to me every so often.  Before we even realized it, both he and I were playing a friendly game of catch with our rival, who had a plan himself.

At one point, we came to terms with the knowledge that we both had done some irreparable damage to one another, and we were not showing any signs of letting up.  We decided, for our kids’ sake, we couldn’t continue living how we were, so without telling anyone, we separated.  I can’t speak for him, but I can tell you I found myself in some incredibly dark times, and I just stopped.  I stopped reaching out to people; I stopped writing; I stopped going to church; I stopped . . . living.  I look back at my 2012-2013 teaching year, and I was in a fog.  I was deeply depressed, and I honestly can’t tell you much that I lived during that time.  There were a few times I prayed we could make it work, and I would go back with those hopes, but there was so much anger in both of us, and we couldn’t seem to get ourselves on the same page.

The second half of the year, though, God really started working in me showing me what he wants for my life, and I knew where I was at that moment couldn’t possibly lead me there.  I became friends with a group of people who continued to ask me to church with them, but I always declined.  Finally God used my new friends to call me out on not going to church, and I knew they were right, so I went with them.  It was the beginning of me finding light again in my darkness.  However, not too long after I was served with divorce papers in the parking lot on my way to work.  Even through the divorce process, there were times I prayed for my heart to be open and try to reconcile, but I was pushed away with each attempt.

I stopped letting that relationship consume my every thought and began to focus more on my faith and my relationship with God.  Drastically, everything inside of me changed.  Despite the chaos surrounding me, I was at peace inside for the first time in a long time.  God was reminding me of who I am and the plans he has for me, and I found myself craving to be side-by-side with him again.  The most amazing thing about God is that he is always there just waiting for us to walk beside him.  He started speaking to me again and often, and I remembered how wonderful it is to be in his presence constantly. 

In the last weeks of 2013, I decided to open myself up again to possible restoration in my marriage, but this time I was going in with a new heart and new thoughts and with God right beside me.  Unfortunately, it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen, so I decided I would no longer pray for changed hearts for us, and I would no longer allow myself to be stagnant in my situation.  God was moving in me, and I needed to allow myself to be moved.  As hard as it was, it meant I had to move without the person beside me who had been beside me at some capacity since 1996.

This year has already been so incredibly full of God’s love and blessings, and I am looking forward to living out his plan for me.  I’m in a good place.  No, it’s not where I ever thought I’d be, but it’s my Plan B, apparently, and God can and will bless it just as I know he is and will continue to bless and protect our kids. 

My Plan B is in its beginning stages.  I have faith it will be blessed.  From a post written December 2, 2013 , you can read what I mean by that.  What Happens When Plan A Fails?

7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 5

comfort zone 5

Day 5
I Don’t Know if I Can Do This

I’ve been sitting here writing, deleting, and rewriting today’s post.  Why?  Because I keep saying, “I don’t know if I can do this.”  I even started to put it off until tomorrow, but I know that’s not what I’m supposed to do.  There is a definite reason I’m supposed to write for 7 days about things way outside of my comfort zone.  I believe the topic every day was already determined for me, and today I’ve been doing everything to convince myself and God that moving it back just 1 more day would be better.  However, I know that my way is not the best way, but it is so much more comfortable to me.

Oh, wait.  I’m supposed to be OUTSIDE of my comfort zone!  So . . . here goes . . .

I’m not writing much today.  Tomorrow will be when I address the following past post.  I pray that you read today knowing I will follow up tomorrow, and I pray you do continue by reading day 6.

This post, written about a dream I had late 2011/early 2012, was one of the most emotional things I’ve ever written.  However, I never indicated that the subject – the girl – in my dream was me.  It took me several months to realize this dream was about me and for me.  I was so busy trying to figure out which one of my sweet youth girls it might be for that it never ocurred to me that it could possibly be meant for me.  Even today, as I read, it brings me to tears, and I wrote it 2 years ago.  I’ve long past this time in my life, but it still brings me to tears.

As I said yesterday, I never thought I would fall into the Enemy’s trap, yet I found myself deep inside his darkness before I ever realized I had even taken the first step in that direction.

I ask that you prayerfully follow the link to this post and understand that I’m writing with trembling fingers.

From June 26, 2012 God Still Speaks

7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 4

Comfort Zone 4

Day 4
Pride Goes Before Destruction

You might have noticed I didn’t post Day 4 yesterday.   I stepped out of my comfort zone in a different way, so I’ve been debating on whether today’s title should be Day 4 or Day 5.  Instead of writing outside of my comfort zone, I actually stepped outside of it and spoke face-to-face with someone about things not within my comfort walls.  I found myself revealing uncomfortable things but with ease, and I believe it’s because God was right beside me the whole time, and I felt he actually led me to speak specifically with this person.

If you’ve kept up with the past 3 days, you may have learned some new things about me and my life over the past several years.  Please understand that I’m not complaining.  Honestly, I don’t feel I have a right to complain.  I know that my life has been wonderful compared to some people’s and horrible compared to others.  For that reason, we are not to compare any part of ourselves with others.  The life you live is your own, and that’s the only one you should be concerned with as far as judging.  It’s not a competition between whose life is the best or worst.  Instead, focus on how God can use you in whatever situation you find yourself in.  And I’m saying that to myself just as much as I’m saying it to you.

I truly have tried to make the best of my life over the years, but honestly it’s difficult sometimes to continue to make the best or be your best when the situation is consistently knocking you down and putting you in a place of nothingness, a place where you feel like you are and you mean nothing.  The fact is, when you feel knocked down the majority of the time but still present yourself with a smile on your face as if everything is perfect, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.  I think women tend to do this more often than men for some reason.  Women are so beautiful and loving and compassionate and nurturing, but the Enemy loves to pit us against one another in a catty comparison game so those precious strengths aren’t being utilized.  Even when it’s unintentional, we find ourselves comparing everything against other women: appearance, parenting, marriage, work, cooking, etc., so we hide anything that people can view as a fault because we don’t want the women who appear to have it all together thinking that we don’t.  He really is good, the Enemy.  He knows what our strengths are and wants to weaken those as much as possible.  But I digress.

One thing I’ve learned is by bringing things to light, it’s impossible to remain in darkness.  I don’t necessarily feel it’s my place to bring things to light that are out of my control regarding others, but I do think it’s important to own up to my own failures.  Pretending that everything is great means I’m keeping certain things in the dark, and in the dark is where the Enemy likes to play.  Those things kept in the darkness are an open invitation for him to come in and cause chaos.  Unfortunately, I fell into this, and it was when I thought I was strong enough to resist him that I fell flat on my face.  Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.”  Pride can be a variety of things.  In this particular situation, my pride was regarding my walk with Christ.  I was living my plan and reaching people like I never knew I could, and I was allowing God to use me in so many different ways.  I felt like I was walking in-sync with him.  I didn’t feel I was above others, but I was proud in that I thought I was so close to God that I would surely not be taken by one of Satan’s traps.  So when I fell, I fell hard.  And when I fell, the ground beneath me shook. 

The link below is something I wrote during that time.  I thought I was bringing things to light when I wrote this, but in all honesty, I think I was just admitting that I had messed up, but I said nothing more.  Things still weren’t brought to light.  When I wrote this, I thought I had overcome the attack and made my way out of the trap, but all decisions are followed by consequences, and those are still being lived out.  When I published this post a couple of years back, it was certainly not the end of the trap in which I found myself.  I had no idea what was ahead of me.

What I thought would never happened, happened to me.  From July 19, 2012:  Everyone Thinks it Won’t Happen to Them — Until it Does

 

7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 2

comfort zone 2

Day 2
My Dirty Little Secret

Yesterday, I ended my post by saying, “. . . so please pray as I take a leap . . . WAY out of my comfortable spot inside the protective walls I’ve created for myself. . .”  It’s funny how I found this picture after writing that post.  I mentioned that I’m a perfectionist, so anything that warrants correction or causes me to be noticed is difficult for me and makes me feel like I’ve failed.  Today, I’m bringing back a post from not too long ago.  Out of everything I’ve written since early 2011, this particular post surpassed them all in how many views it had.

I wrote this post because I may be a perfectionist, but at the same time, I don’t want to give off the perception that I’m perfect and have it all together because I don’t even come close.  I know; I’m a walking contradiction.  I have no explanation.

I’m easing myself out of my comfort zone.  Yesterday, I took a deep breath.  Today, I am closing my eyes.  Tomorrow. . . I JUMP!

Here’s to Day 2 — My Dirty Little Secret

7 Days Outside of My Comfort Zone: Day 1

 

Day 1
Take a Deep Breath.  Close My Eyes.  Jump!

Most of you have noticed my writing dwindled down to nothing there for a while and is very slowly coming back.  So much has been going on in my life, and unfortunately I allowed these things to rob me of my focus and motivation.

I’m a pretty private person, and I stay to myself when it comes to things I’m dealing with personally.  I don’t mind talking about my struggles after they’ve passed, but I just am not one to talk about them in the process of living it.  Some say it’s because I don’t want my wrongdoings to be brought to light, but I say it’s pride and not wanting people to feel bad for me or to see that I don’t have it all together.  I mean, I will always be the first to say I don’t have it all together, but as someone who struggles with perfectionism, it’s very difficult for me to fail at something.  Anytime I have a big struggle in life, whether it’s from a natural event or a self-imposed event, I view that as a personal fail.  I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I do.  I never view others in that light, though, so it’s very strange that I do this with myself.

I’ve had many mentors throughout my life, but very few have actually taken the time to learn about me and truly get to know me.  Those who don’t are quick to say I have a problem with authority and am unwilling to grow or accept correction/criticism.  After hearing those words so many times, I believed them and spent so much time in tears begging for God to help me be more submissive to authority.  It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I spent time learning about myself that I realized these words were way off base.

Even when I was younger, my mom would often mention something about everything always having to be perfect for me.  My need for perfection or to be the best at everything I do comes from so many things in my past including incredibly low self-confidence.  If it was perfect, then I wouldn’t be singled out for any reason.  I didn’t want eyes on me – ever.  I would freak out if something wasn’t correct because I was so afraid of being noticed.  I also learned it’s one of those little “side-effects” of having ADHD. 

After too many times crying and wondering why I struggled so much with authority and correction, I realized what the few mentors who took time to get to know me already knew.  It wasn’t that I had an issue with either of these things at all.  Yes, I immediately got (get) defensive when someone corrects me regardless of how small or large that correction is because it means I’ve failed.   Well, in my own head, it means I’ve failed.  With the slightest words that aren’t harsh in the least, I still feel like I have failed big time.  It’s a struggle I’m trying to figure out how to walk through. I become extremely defensive, and I’m really down on myself for a while after any kind of correction.  Over the years, though, I’ve been working on not allowing myself to get defensive and just listen to the words and accept them.  I fail at that more times than I don’t, though.

And it looks like I’ve veered off track from where I intended to go today, but apparently this is something I needed to reveal about myself.  In the upcoming days I’m going to do something I never do – something that even as I write this sentence my heart feels like it’s about to pound out of my chest.  I’m going to do something that is completely terrifying to me, but I feel it’s the time and place to do it.

In the upcoming days I’m going to talk with you, my readers, and be more transparent about my life over the past few years than I’m comfortable being.  However, as the picture below says, “Great things never came from comfort zones.”  I believe that wholeheartedly, and I believe God is telling me that if I don’t step WAY outside of my comfort zone to do this, then I’m going to continue to hit a wall in my writing, speaking, and reaching people the way he intended.  The roadblock I’ve been running into causing me to write so little lately is my own roadblock that needs to be removed, and it can only be removed by me.

I’m asking now for open hearts as these next few days I will be facing my biggest fear—divulging my failures.  I pray somehow my words will 1) reach someone who somehow needs to be reached and 2) helps me to move that roadblock so God can fully use me to reach many.  I thank you ahead of time for your understanding how difficult this will be for me.

I will bring in old posts, but I promise everything will fit together like a puzzle by the time 7 days is over.  For 7 days I will be posting something here, so please pray as I take a leap . . .

WAY out of my comfortable spot inside the protective walls I’ve created for myself. . .

Comfort zone 1b

I Was Made by God, and I’m Beautiful!

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There are no real words to explain what it’s like driving my kids to school in the mornings.  Of course, sometimes it’s a blur of rushing, blonde hair flying as we quickly get to the car, and words of frustration coming from the oldest. . . well, to be honest, those words are coming from all of us during those days.  It’s not until I stop focusing on the time once we’re in the car that moments like this morning are able to happen.  I need to make a mental note of this realization because, after all, regardless of what the clock says once we’re in the car, there’s nothing that will get them to school or me to work any quicker.

Most people want to live right beside their kids’ schools because it’s more convenient.  We don’t live even in the same town as the school our kids attend, so we have a fairly decent drive.  Car rides with my kids, though, are so precious to me.  There’s no tv, no dinner to be cooked, no laundry to be folded, no dishes to be loaded.  There’s nothing but driving.  I have found that the best, most relevant conversations with my kids come during these times.  Today was no exception.

From nowhere my daughter said, “Psalm 139:14 – I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” 

We have said this scripture to her from birth.  It’s actually the very first memory verse both she and her brother learned during the first week of school.  It’s what I call my “theme verse.”  It’s the name of my ministry.  This scripture is a part of our lives.

For the first time I realized we have never really talked about that verse.  I’ve made sure the kids know it by heart, but I started thinking and had to ask her, “That’s wonderful.  Now, do you know what it means to be fearfully and wonderfully made?”

She responded, “Yes.  It means God made me, and I’m beautiful.”

Her brother’s response was, “I was made from Jesus, and I’m cool and compassionate.”

After I told them they were both right, I asked if they wanted to know more about what that means, and my daughter immediately said, “Yes.”

God completely picked it up from there giving me words that were perfect for the two of them because it was something they were able to relate to and understand.

Cake Boss

I have made and decorated cakes for several years now.  I’m by no means exceptional at it – or experienced and educated enough to be called a professional, for that matter.  The majority of my knowledge actually came from watching The Cake Boss, but I’ve ended up with some pretty cool cakes if I do say so myself.  The kids have seen each phase of the cake process, so they understood this explanation.  We were all fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe.  It’s very similar to when a cake is made and decorated by its creator. 

I can’t just start on a cake without knowing where I’m going.  Who is the cake for?  What is the occasion?  How Many people will be eating the cake?  What is the theme of the event?  These questions all have to be answered before I can even think about the design of the cake.   I have to know the exact purpose of the cake.

Once all of these questions are answered, I can start designing on paper.  Once I perfect the design, it’s time to bake the cake.  The ingredients are important.  In order to get the amount necessary to feed everyone at the event, and in order for it to taste great, I have to measure and place specific ingredients in.  If the purpose of the cake is to be chocolate, then I will need to put the ingredients in it to make it a chocolate cake.  Sounds pretty common sense, right? 

My favorite part comes after the cake is made.  This is when I get to work with the fondant and make my 2-dimensional design come to 3-dimensional life!  If you’re unsure what fondant is, it’s a sugary icing that’s pliable and moldable like play dough, and it can harden like clay.  When I start, the fondant is just in containers separated by colors.  It’s like big “globs” of play dough.  I have to gather up the right amount of each color I need and start working.  I can’t just sit back and expect the fondant to come together; I have to get in there and work.  It’s a carefully thought out process, too.  Some things need to be started before other things because maybe they need time to harden.  Certain pieces need to be placed on the cake before other pieces in order for it to become the work of art it was intended to be.

I sometimes use tools when working with fondant, but I always use my hands.  I spend a great amount of time and care on this part.  Whether I’m making letters to spell out someone’s name or sculpting a Hulk hand out of Rice Krispy Treats before covering with fondant and painting it to give extra depth, I place a lot of focus on every intricate detail.  Most importantly, the entire time I’m working, I have the end product in mind.

Ready to Be Served

God paid even more attention when making you.  He had the end product in mind.  He designed you to serve a purpose, and he made sure you were equipped with all the right ingredients you would need in order to become that final product he intended you to be.  Every intricate detail inside of you was well thought out, and God took special care in giving you the qualities and talents he gave you because he knew they would be necessary in the future. 

Then, he focused on the outer design: your hair, your nose, your ears, your eyes, etc.  Every part of your being was planned by him.  You were not just thrown together.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made, and every party of your design is absolutely perfect. 

Remember that before putting yourself down when you somehow feel like you don’t compare to the person next to you.  Don’t compare.  You are two different people.  The person next to you was fearfully and wonderfully made in a way that helps them serve their purpose.  Your purpose is different, and you were made in a way that helps you fulfill your specific purpose.  God didn’t create us to compare.  He created us to use our design to work alongside the design of someone else to make something powerful.

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Another cake post: Beautiful in its Time

Want to see some of my cakes?  Check out these links:  Cakes   ~    Party Themes