Tuesday, February 8, 2022

One Ending is Just Another Beginning

Today, God wrote the closing words to one of the most "beautiful, earth shattering, mind bending" chapters of my life.  I wasn't ready for the chapter to end.  I thought there was more to be written.  I was waiting for God to wrap it all up in a neat and tidy bow where everyone wins in the end.

But God.

Knowing that the end was coming, I took the time to reflect on what this particular chapter brought to the story He is writing.  

This chapter brought a light into my life that lit up places I didn't even know were dark.  It brought someone who could help me see that I didn't have to hide who I was.  I didn't have to be who others taught me that I had to be...with both their words and actions.  It brought a freedom of knowing that I didn't have to let go of something that brought me peace and comfort because it might make someone else uncomfortable.  It brought someone who showed me that I could experience love in a way that I never could've imagined.  A love that would allow me to more clearly see God's love for me.

This chapter brought adventure.  It brought trips to beaches, and mountains, and botanical gardens and TEXAS.  It brought interactions with bears, coyotes, chickens, cows, horses and for the love of all that is HOLY...it brought a lot of sloths.  It brought flat tires and homeless people.  It brought snowmen and snow angels.  

This chapter taught me that when you start being authentically you, it is going to rub against people the wrong way.  It also taught me that those people will be okay, even if you refuse to go back to being someone you aren't.  This chapter taught me that my words matter, not just to me but to others.  When I put pen to paper and wrote about other past chapters, my people gathered around me to help get the word out.  The reviews and feedback that I received helped me to see that God could use my hard chapters to help bring healing to others.  I believe He is going to use this one too.

This chapter taught me that we carry a lot of stuff from one chapter to the next.  While we can try to hold tightly to the good stuff and drag it along, sometimes, there is some bad stuff buried deep in the inside that we didn't know was coming with us.  This chapter taught me that this stuff will rise to the surface when we least expect it.  When it does, people get hurt.  That hurt can come in the most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times but that's what unhealed wounds and trauma can do.  That hurt can come, even though no one in the story had any intention of hurting anyone else.

This chapter taught me that in the face of pain, we have choices in what we do with it.  It taught me that the best choice will always be to lay it in the hands of Jesus and ask Him to guide me.  This chapter also taught me that I'm not necessarily going to like the guidance He gives me.  I learned that anger is easy, but that's not who God created me to be.  For whatever reason, perhaps because He's the author of my story and knows what's up, God created me with an extra measure of grace.  I learned that instead of anger, I could pour out grace instead.  This includes grace for myself for all of the mistakes I've made.

This chapter taught me that A LOT of people don't understand the gift of grace.  It also taught me that they don't have to understand it. I can stand confident in the direction God is giving me, even when it makes absolutely no sense to anyone around me, including me.  This chapter taught me that I can not only trust His voice, I can trust my ability to hear it.  It taught me a lot about faith.  It has grown my faith deeper than I ever could've imagined, even when it looked liked God had forsaken me at times.

This chapter taught me how to protect my heart.  It taught me that not everyone needs access to my version of the story God is writing.  Some paragraphs are meant for only me to know about.  Just because they want to know, doesn't mean I have to tell them.  This chapter taught me that I need to be aware of who and what I give access to my energy.  It is okay to think about my needs first, it's not selfish, it's necessary.  

This chapter taught me that I can still show up, big time, for the people who need me.  It also taught me that there are people who want to show up for me, if I can be honest enough to admit that I need them to. Not only will they show up, they will show up in the most amazing and profound ways.  They will send gift cards, and surprise packages in the mail.  They will send Marcos and texts to let you know they are thinking about you.  They will come visit. They will live at your house during the day and drive 45 minutes just to make you eggs and bacon because they know you need protein. They will sleep on your couch overnight, even if they don't have their CPAP machine, because they know you are sick and want to make sure you live through the night.  They will make space in their busy schedules to sit with you in a hotel room, or on their couch, or at a cabin in the mountains, because they know that proximity is necessary for your survival.  They will remind you that they want absolutely nothing from you, only to pour out goodness, kindness, and love onto you. 

This chapter taught me that my body is not what it used to be.  This chapter came with lots of titanium and an allergy to Vancomycin.  It also brought a revelation that my body can be completely shutting down from infection in my blood, my white blood cell count will never change, and I will not run a fever.  This chapter also taught me that Infectious Disease Docs, and Neurosurgeons, find my body very curious.

This chapter showed me the importance of true self care.  Knowing what feeds my soul and doing more of that.  It taught me that I still have a lot of healing to do.  Especially in areas that I thought had been healed long ago.  It taught me that I want to do the hard and holy work of digging out the roots and exposing things to light so that I can work through them.  I want to continue to try to bring my best self into whatever the next chapter holds.  I have also learned that this healing must come in small doses.  As I learn new things about the way that brain stores trauma, and poke at the things that hurt, I have to stop and allow my emotions to catch up with my learning.  I have also learned that I have to have grace when that healing comes with some setbacks.  It's a process.  If anything, this chapter has taught me to trust the process.

This chapter taught me to take life one day a time, and sometimes one hour.  If I allow myself to get too far ahead, my computer brain tries to think of all the scenarios and figure out the what ifs.  That's exhausting and I am learning to let God hold on to my tomorrows.

As this chapter has been drawing to a close, it has taught me to embrace all that has happened.  God has a purpose and a plan for all of it.  The truth is, our life is a story that He is writing. He holds the pen and He gets to decide when it's time to move the story along.  I had been dreading the ending, but He has helped me to see that the story is still being written.  I don't know if the next chapter will introduce new characters or a changing and growing of the existing characters.  Perhaps halfway through this next chapter, God will holler down from Heaven "PLOT TWIST" and we will anxiously wait to see what He has in store.  

What I knew more than anything, on this very day, was that I wanted to end the chapter with the person I began it with...and so we did.  We sat together while this chapter ended and as God began writing the story of the next chapter, we held so incredibly tightly to the good.  We get to choose what we remember. 💜

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

What Do You Want Me To Do For You?

We have been talking about planning a family vacation to South Dakota.  Mom wants to take a road trip and after her accident, she isn't sure she could make it alone.  As we've been planning, Josh reminded me about the last time the three of us took a vacation together.  I clearly remember sitting on the ground near the exit to Disney World.  I had called my friend Beth on the phone and said, "If I ever, and I mean ever, tell you that I am going on vacation with my mom, remind me of this day."  Well, Beth is no longer with us, so Josh reminded me instead.  

I've spent some time in the last few weeks reflecting on that trip to Disney World and what it was that made it so awful.  We aren't sure of exactly how long it's been but we figure it's close to at least 17 years.  Mom had been recently diagnosed with a neurological condition that was causing some mobility issues.  We had gone to Mayo, which was less than helpful.  They weren't sure exactly what was happening to Mom or how quickly it would progress.  So, Mom wanted to take Josh to Disney World before she got too sick to go.  She purchased a mobility scooter and off we went.  Mom was fairly new to riding around on a scooter, and I was fairly new to her not being able to do everything for herself.  I spent a lot of the trip hollering at her to "look out" for people who she tried to run over with her scooter.  I also spent most of the trip trying to anticipate her every need.  I would grab an arm and help her in and out of the rides.  I would ask her a thousand times a day if she was okay or needed anything. I was being "helpful".  For some reason, Mom's attitude became worse and worse throughout the day.  She kept getting short with me and snapping at me for no reason.  I really started resenting her attitude and communication became increasingly difficult.  The last and final straw was a stubborn argument where she refused to follow me to the exit and told her I would just meet her there.   After sitting on the ground for over an hour (and calling Beth), I finally went looking for her and a screaming match ensued.  

In the car, on the way to dinner, she kept trying to talk to me and I kept telling her, "I have no interest in anything you have to say and please stop talking to me."  I must've said that like 20 times.  We got to the Denny's and I was in the bathroom washing my hands when my Mom walked up behind me and angrily said, "I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself and if I need your help, I will ask for it."  I was so incredibly angry that she said that to me.  I was so worn out from doting over her all day and now she was trying to make me feel bad for it.   However, looking back I can see that Mom was just getting used to not being able to do things for herself, and my constant "helping" was making her feel helpless.  

Why am I telling you this story?  Probably because God has a funny way of circling me back to the past to teach me lessons in the here and now.  God has been revealing to me in the last few months that I still have a lot of things to work on.  I have patterns of behavior that are so ingrained in me that I don't even realize what I'm doing.   Those patterns didn't come about because I'm a horrible person, they came about because I have lived a hard life and my body and mind has done what was necessary for my survival.  That doesn't mean I am stuck that way.  I am making the choice to learn what I can to break out of those habits, patterns, and mindsets.

We discussed in my last blog post that I realize that I am a codependent.  The more that I study and learn, the more I realize where I need to improve.  One of those areas is my need to be "helpful".  I like to anticipate people's needs and help them with things.   I've always thought that was a good trait to have.  I thought it made people feel loved and like they mattered.  I think it CAN make people feel that way but it can also be taken to the extreme.  When I "help" people do things that they can be or should be doing for themselves, it can make them feel inferior.  It can make them feel like I don't value their abilities.  This has come up in personal relationships and work relationships.  

Recently, something went haywire with someone's authorizations at work. I had been working with our Admin Director and she saw the same thing with this person's user account.  I sent her a message that said, "Can you reset all of the authorizations?"  She did, but she also came back to me later and asked me if I really thought that she would see that the authorizations had failed and not take the action to resolve them.  In my head, I was trying to be "helpful", making sure that everything got resolved, but to her, it made it seem like I doubted her ability to recognize a problem and resolve it.  It was very eye opening and I am so glad she felt comfortable enough with me to address the way that I made her feel.  

Not only does my need to "help" cause others to feel some kind of way, it is very detrimental to me as well.  Trying to anticipate the needs of others is exhausting.  You are always looking at every input from the person, trying to figure out what it could mean.  Then you go out of your way to "do" or "be" what you think the other person needs/wants.  When they come back to you with frustration, you get angry that they don't appreciate all of the "helping" that you've been doing.  I mean..think about it...you are getting angry for not being appreciated for doing something that they never asked you to do in the first place.  Another problem is that trying to "be" and "do" everything for everybody leaves you feeling like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.  God is showing me that the weight was never mine to carry in the first place.

The hardest lesson for me to learn is that I don't have all the answers.  A friend told me the other day that analytical helpers, like me, are the worst kind because we are arrogant enough to believe that we know what is best for other people.  Ouch!  That hit really close to home.  I found so much truth in those words.  When I stepped back and analyzed a few of my relationships, I could see how right he was.  I can only decide what is best for me.  I have no idea what is best for anyone else or what others might find "helpful."

As I've been reading Codependent No More by Melody Beattie, I came across these words.  "Jesus helped many people, but He was honest and straightforward about it.  He didn't persecute people after He helped them.  And He asked them what they wanted from Him.  Sometimes He asked why, too."

God keeps bringing to my mind the story of Blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10. The blind man ran to Jesus and Jesus turned to him and said, "What do you want me to do for you?"  Jesus could easily see that Bartimaeus was blind and He could probably conclude that Bartimaeus wanted to see.  And yet, Jesus still asked the question.  If Jesus thought it was important to ask, perhaps it's something that I need to think about as well.

I am trying to learn to ask, "How can I best support you right now?" or "Do you need my help/advice with this situation or did you just want to talk through it with me?"  I am not going to get it right all the time but I am recognizing the need for a change in this area.  I am praying that God will continue to reveal to me when my helping is hurting.  In the meantime, I'm going to keep practicing.

Friday, March 5, 2021

The Operating Table

Hi!  My name is Holly and I am a codependent.  This is nothing new.  I'm pretty sure that I came out of the womb as a codependent.  

A few years ago, I was talking with a friend about a struggle that someone in my life was having.  He said to me, "Holly, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to leave them on the operating table."  When God wants to work and move in someone's life, sometimes He has to put them on the operating table.  He has to dig into old wounds and clean them out.  He has to transplant in new thoughts or ideas.  Sometimes, He has to break a stony heart.  The surgery that God does on someone is painful for them, but it is also painful for me.  I am an empath and I feel things very deeply.  It is incredibly hard for me to watch someone go through a hard thing.  I want to fix it.  I want to make things better or easier.  I want to take the burden.  However, it is best for the person, if I can trust God enough to leave them on the operating table.

I have been practicing this concept of leaving people on the operating table for the past three years.  It's incredibly hard.  In the last year, I have had to practice A LOT.  Recently, God keeps using my own surgery experience to reflect on this concept.  I desperately needed spine surgery.  I had been in pain and suffering for a long time.  I needed to get on that operating table.  If anyone who truly loved me, could have seen what I was enduring on that operating table, they would have pulled me off of it.  As they saw the drill shatter my vertebrae, they would have decided the surgeon didn't know what he was doing.  They would have stopped the surgery.  As the surgeon burned through the first drill, and grabbed the second, they would have decided that it was all too much for me to endure. They would have stopped the surgery.  The thing is, though, I needed the surgery.  It didn't matter how bad things looked, I needed every ounce of what the surgeon was doing.  I am almost 6 months out from surgery and I am walking pain free.  I am healthier than I've been in a very long time.  I actually want to get out and move.  I am so grateful for this body that will move when I ask it to.  If anyone would have pulled me off the operating table...I wouldn't be enjoying the beautiful result of all that pain.

In this season, there are still people in my life that are going through really hard times.  I have been so proud of myself because I've been fighting off the urge to remove them from the operating table.  I know that the pain is necessary for their healing.  However, God convicted me last weekend.  He showed me that while I am willing to leave the person on the operating table, I am still standing right next to Him shouting orders into His ear while He's operating.  I am watching the Master Physician do what He is trained to do and my arrogant self thinks that I should tell Him what I think He's doing wrong.  Not only am I giving Him directions, occasionally, I like to grab His arm and "help."  He finally said, "Enough!!  Get out of my operating room so I can do what I came here to do."

I was sharing this revelation with a friend and she said something that hit me with the truth so hard that I could barely breathe.  She said, "Holly, not only do you need to get out of that operating room, there is a table in OR2 waiting just for you."  As soon as the words came out of her mouth, I knew they were true.  Over the past month, God had been revealing areas in my own life that He needed to work on.  I had been so focused on what He was doing in other people that I lost site of all that still needs to be healed in me.  

So, I am willingly climbing onto the table in OR2.  I wish that God would give us some Propofol and knock us out so we don't have to feel the pain of the surgery....but He promises to comfort us during the process.  

Is there someone that you need to leave on the operating table?  Is there an OR table with your name on it?  Are you willing to let God do what He needs to do in yourself and others?  If my own surgery is any indication, I promise it will be worth it.

Friday, February 5, 2021


 I was recently reading a book by Lysa TerKeurst and it had a chapter titled "Dust."  I thought it was an odd title for a chapter in a book.  I surely wasn't prepared for how the chapter was going to make me feel.

Lysa wrote about how there are times in our lives that we are broken.  We feel the big chunks of life fall to the ground.  Nothing feels the same.  In the moment that this kind of breaking happens, we look at all of the pieces on the ground and wonder how we'll survive it.  When I look back and try to picture a season in my life when I experienced this type of breaking, I think of my job in Florida.  I had relocated down there, for what seemed like, the ideal job situation.  Within two years, the company began to downsize and I was let go just three weeks before facing my first spine surgery.  I looked at the ginormous pieces of wreckage and thought that it would be my downfall.  I have found, though, with this type of breaking, you can eventually pick up these big pieces of your life and glue them back together.  Yes, things look different than they did before the breaking, but you find a way to get on with life.  I've always tried to look at it like putting a stained glass window together.  The picture looked one way before it was dropped on the ground, and maybe you form a different picture when you put it back together this time.  Either way, the light is getting through and you start to feel whole again.

The kind of breaking that Lysa is talking about in her book is a completely different kind of breaking.  It's the kind where you don't feel broken, you feel shattered.  Shattered into a gazillion tiny pieces where nothing is recognizable any more.  The kind of shattering where all that is left is dust.  There are no pieces left to pick up  and put back together.  As I was reading Lysa describe the dust, I felt it at a soul level.  

Lysa writes,"We think the shattering in our lives could not possibly be for any good.  But what if shattering is the only way to get dust back to its basic form so that something new can be made?"  She goes on to write about all the ways in the Bible that dust was used for good.  She does a fantastic job of illustrating how God can mix our dust with water and make clay.  With that clay in HIS hands, He can shape the thing that was shattered into something new.  That really resonated with me.  I have been thinking on and praying about this concept of dust for over a week.  Last night, God gave it so much more meaning to me than the potter's clay.

As I was laying in bed, all I could think about was the dust.  God brought to my mind a conversation I had with someone  the year that my brother died.  He was an organ donor, although it took them so long to get him out of his car, that his organs weren't viable.  We gave them permission to take anything they could use.  That December, we were invited to a candlelight vigil that was being hosted by the Midwest Transplant Network.  It was hard, but Mom and I felt like we owed it to Bob to go.  We heard story after story of people who explained where their loved ones organs had gone and the impact it had made.  While it had been almost nine months since Bob's death, we had never heard anything about who had received his heart valve, or his eyes.  We approached one of the staff and asked how we could find out.  She was shocked that we didn't know and vowed to get us the information we were looking for.  While we had her cornered, my mom asked her a question that I will never forget.  Mom said, "What happened to his bones?" 

When we told them they could take anything they could use, that's exactly what they did.  They had taken all of the bones out of my brother's arms and legs.  We had always wondered what they did with them.  This nice lady explained to us that if the bones are particular size, they may keep the bones whole in case someone needs a bone transplant.  However, most of the time, they grind the bones down to DUST.  We asked the obvious follow-up question, "What do you do with bone dust?"  

She explained that when someone has a serious facial injury, the plastic surgeon will take the bone dust and make a bone graft out of it and use it to sculpt the person's face back to a more regular shape.  The bone clay then dries out and the person is left with something resembling what was there before.  I remember, 22 years ago, thinking that was the coolest thing I'd ever heard.  

Obviously, I would have never wished for Bob to die in that car accident.  Unfortunately, I had no control over that situation.  It does my heart good, however,  to think about how God took the dust that was created from that loss and used it to improve the lives of so many people.  I mean, Bob was 6'4", that was a lot of bone dust. 

There are so many parallels between my current dust storm and the dust storm that almost destroyed me in 1998.  I would never have wished for this season of dust either.  I am waiting with an eager anticipation to see what God is going to make out of it.  He keeps giving me glimpses of what He's working on.  No matter what it is that He is sculpting out of the dust, I truly believe that it will be more beautiful and holy than anything I could've imagined before the shattering.  

Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 Word for the Year

In early December, 2019, I started formulating a plan in my head for what I thought 2020 would look like.  I figured that Bree and I would settle into married life.  I would go see a doctor about my back and finally do something about this chronic pain.  I thought my company would finally get the new software out into the world.  I expected to knock a few more states off of the "places I've been" map.  I had high expectations.  By the time January 1, 2020 hit, I already knew that 2020 was going to look nothing like I had planned.

Here is the Cliff's notes version of how 2020 actually went.

Dec 22, 2019 - My mom had a horrifying car accident that should've taken her life.  Instead, it took her foot completely off her leg.  Helping Mom through five months of surgeries, physical therapy, and waiting for the bone to heal changed up how I thought I was going to start the year. However, I was right where I was supposed to be.

My first meeting with the surgeon's office proved that I definitely needed spine surgery but I was going to have to lose another 30 more pounds first.  Just another delay in surgery.  Good thing I had already gotten a jump start on my weight loss by then.

Covid locked down any potential of knocking states off the map.  Several trips had to be cancelled, including one I was excited about to finally knock some of the New England states off my list.

My company did a great job of keeping its head above water but we are still working to release our new software to the public.  Covid has been a blessing and a curse for us.

My marriage couldn't handle the stress of all that 2020 brought to it.  We spent months in prayer, and counseling.  We separated in September.  It isn't what I wanted but it's where God has us right now. The details are ours.  Please don't pry or ask or push, even out of sincere concern.  Please don't blow up our phone and inboxes and DMs (or our friends').  Just hold us close to your heart in great love and pray for us whenever we come to mind.  Bree and I still care very deeply for each other and we are trusting God for whatever the future holds for us.

I ended up having that spine surgery in September, and if anything COULD go wrong, it DID.  The surgery didn't quite go to plan as my hard bones didn't want to cooperate with the drill. I scored a back brace that I am still wearing today.  I finally got strong enough to go home, only to find myself back in the hospital, a week later, with a blood clot and staph infections of multiple varieties.   They finally got me stable enough to go home, only to find out just a bit later that I can now add Vancomycin to my known allergies list.

Whew....I know....2020 was A LOT!!!

As you can imagine, when the year was drawing to a close, I had quite a bit of reflecting to do about 2020.  The first thing I did was try to find the positives.

I started the year trying to eat healthy but having a surgeon tell you that your spine might fall of itself is a very motivation weight loss tool.  I ended the year 94lbs lighter.  Don't mind that steep jump there in September.  That's when I tried to die.

I believe that I had the best surgeon on the planet working on my spine.  The issues that Dr. Rhee ran into had nothing to do with his expertise.  It had everything to do with my anatomy.  He fought through every obstacle during surgery, and there were many.  He never gave up.  Even after a 3 1/2 hour surgery became an 8 hour surgery, he stuck with me.  His P.A. Tracy Wheeler has also been a straight up blessing to me.  She believed in me from the moment that we met.  She has been kind and compassionate, even when I've cried over having to be in this brace a little longer.

Dr. Somayaji, Infectious Disease, handled that bacteria like a boss.  She showed it no mercy.

Bree sat at the hospital for 8 grueling hours during my surgery, providing everyone else updates along the way, even when the updates weren't really easing her mind.  All throughout my recovery, Bree continued to show up.  God seemed to work it out that on every hard day, Bree was there.  When I struggled through my first shower at home. When I went in for a routine follow up and ended up being re-admitted.  When the original MRSA diagnosis came.  When the dark cloud of depression started closing in on me, she was the one sitting by my side, holding my hand, pointing me back to my faith in God.   Reminding me of all that God had brought me through already.

Mom showed up for me in big and small ways. Our relationship has grown stronger through all of the trials of the year.

I had friends and neighbors show up for me in 2020, in ways that I didn't even know was possible. Friends talking me through the best in skilled nursing facilities for Mom.  Friends driving a long way and paying for a hotel so that I could sit with them and cry.  Friends stopping their lives to come take care of me after surgery.  Friends sleeping upright next to me on the couch to make sure I didn't stop breathing in the middle of the night. Friends offering to help clean or prepare meals.  Neighbors raking up the leaves in my yard.  Friends providing me a retreat on their deck so that I could simply figure out how to breath again.  I  received thousands of texts of encouragement in 2020.  Not to mention the prayers.  Oh, how I know that I am only upright because of all of the prayers.

Speaking of prayers, that has been a huge change for me towards the end of 2020.  I read the book "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson.  It was exactly what I needed.  I have been praying circles since then.  My prayers have become more intentional and more focused.  

The biggest positive has to do with my relationship with God. Everything in 2020 was so uncertain that I had no choice but to rely on God to get me through.  He pulled me in so close to Him. When I was lonely, I turned to Him for comfort.  It's seems crazy, but in this year of so much hurt, I finally realized how much God loves me.  His love for me is something I've struggled with my entire life.  I recently came across a blog post I wrote in 2016 that talks about that struggle.  You can read it here.  

I left 2020 knowing that God could be trusted.  He truly loves me, even when His guidance and direction brings pain.  I have said to Him a million times, "God, I don't know what you are doing, but I trust you."  I know that whatever He is doing, is ultimately for my good, and His glory.  I know it...deep down on the inside of me.  

So....what does all of this have to do with my word for the year?  Every year, I try to take some time and ask God what He wants for me in the year ahead.  What word can I take into the New Year that will help me to stay focused on the road He would have me walk?  At first, I thought my word for 2021 was going to be "unshakeable".  I have been praying for several years for God to make me unshakable.  That when hard times hit, I will be unmoved.  I think He is still working on that but I kept getting the sense there was something else for me.  He did give me the word thrive so I continued to pray into that one.  I think He was showing me that thrive is to be a "lifetime" word and not a word of the year.  He made it clear that I have spent most of my life simply surviving.  He wants more for me.  He wants me to have a life that thrives.  

I felt another word stirring inside of me.  Yesterday, I went for a walk in a rose garden with God.  I needed His peace to fill me up.  As we walked, I talked to Him about my 2020 and asked Him to confirm the word that I thought He was showing me.  I kept walking, and my Spotify shuffled onto "Gracefully Broken" by Tasha Cobbs Leonard. At the beginning of the song, she is talking.  She talks about how when God breaks you, He doesn't hurt you...He doesn't destroy you.  He does it with grace.  When I heard those words, I thought back to 2020 and all of the breaking that was done so gracefully.  So much of it could've, and maybe should've, destroyed me.   She kept singing and the words "Here I am, God - arms wide open" came out of her mouth.  Anyone walking by would have wondered who that crazy lady was who was sobbing in the rose garden with her arms in the air.  The more she sang, the more confirmation came.  My word for 2021 was "surrender."  Since God is so good, and He wanted me to be sure, He made sure the next song to shuffle through was "My Life is in Your Hands" by Kirk Franklin.  When it started, I simply laughed out loud and said, "I got it, God."

I've had this bad habit lately of praying for what I want, justifying it with James 4:2 which says, "You have not, because you ask not."  However, God showed me that I was trying to control Him with my prayers.  I would pray things like, "make this person read this scripture and make it convict them." or "God, bring money into our company in this way."  God has asked me to surrender those types of prayers.  It is okay for me to pray for someone to be healed, or for provision for our company, or for my marriage to be restored.  It is not okay for me to tell God how to go about doing it.  I need to release control (as if I have any anyway).

That is what God is asking of me in 2021.  To abandon myself.   To continue to stay ever so close to Him.  To listen to His direction and guidance for every single step.  To rely on Him for the strength to move forward every day.  To seek comfort from Him when I'm overwhelmed. He knows the wants and desires of my heart.  He is asking me to surrender my thoughts, hopes, and ideas of how He should go about making those wants and desires come true. 

What is God asking of you in 2021?  I would love to hear about it and pray with you for His will to be accomplished.