Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"You're Such a Fake"

I would never want one of you lovely ladies to come to my house and say, 

"You're such a fake."

Sometimes, though, I feel like you would say that. Why? Well, just like I shared on Share Your Story Sunday, I feel like a lot of bloggers "stage" our lives on our blogs like we stage our pictures-- only putting out pretty things for people to see. My roommate and I even joke sometimes "If they saw how I really live.." I see tons of bloggers that have gorgeous homes and I wonder, "Do they really live like that?" And then I see other bloggers who post their living rooms with tons of craft stuff all over the place and I breathe a sigh of relief: I'm not the only one! So here's my truth:

1. I graduated from college last May and am still looking for a decent job to pay all of my bills. When I say I'm a "po' kid" I'm not joking. I am blessed, and the Lord has provided for me financially.. and yes, I probably spend too much money on crafts/furniture, but I am broke. Like the rest of "normal" Americans in this economy, I am struggling financially.

2. When I say "roommate" I mean my roommate from college, Crystal. Her family has lovingly taken me in until I get a job that can allow me to get my own place (I'm originally from Florida, so all of my family lives there.. meaning I'm on my own here in Georgia). I typically call Crystal, her mom, and her sisters "roommates" on here because, as a 22 year old, it's kind of embarrassing to say "Crystal's mom."

3. My room also happens to be the living room. And they let me decorate, do my crafts, etc. It gets messy, but I'm thankful.

So.. that's the truth. I say all of this, not to get your sympathy-- I am happy and grateful for where I am now-- but to let you know that not all bloggers have HGTV worthy homes, expensive furniture, etc. I am normal. I do crafts on a budget not for people to say "wow, that's a really inexpensive project" (although that's cool, too!), but because I have to do crafts on a budget. I say this also because I want all of the "normal" people to know that it's okay to be normal. Don't feel like you have to compete with the HGTV homes... sometimes I feel jealous of what they have and that's not healthy. I need to be grateful for where I am and what I do have.

I feel so much better now. And I know now that if I invited you over for coffee and cookies, you wouldn't be surprised by what you see. We'd sit on my cheap, red couch/bed from Craigslist that I bought when I was in college, and put up our feet up on my even cheaper coffee table from Walmart (gasp!).. and we'd talk and laugh about how my couch makeover has a navy blue sheet on it right now because someone spilled hot chocolate all over the cream one haha!

I love you guys, and the support and encouragement I receive from the blogging community is incredible-- especially during this time in my life-- but I don't want you all to like me for someone I'm not. So.. that's me.

Does anyone else in the blogging world feel like this?

UPDATE: I've now moved to a home with a few roommates. Click here to check it out! :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Share Your Story Sunday #6--Brooke from Pure & Noble

Hey guys! Today Brooke from Pure and Noble will be sharing her story! Brooke is an incredible blogger and woman of the Lord. I followed her when I first started blogging and I am so honored to become her "blog friend." Her story is so powerful and I hope you all will take the time to read it and soak in every word. I know often times I skip over posts that are long or ones that don't have pictures, but I really encourage you all to read the stories for this series. It's such a cool way to get to really know each other on a more personal level and understand each others' hearts. So.. enough rambling from me!

Hi, my name is Brooke Fish. I write a little blog called Pure and Noble, but my most important jobs are wife, Mommy, household manager, sister, daughter and friend. I am a believer in Christ who struggles with anger, control and the approval of man. (Whew…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.) When Bonnie asked me to share my story with her dear readers my first response was, “Yes! Of course!” But my excitement was short-lived as I realized that I had not shared my story with someone very important – my Dad. So thanks Bonnie for the graceful nudge that I needed and your extreme patience with me.

I’ve shared my testimony before in a program called Celebrate Recovery. At that time, I asked God to show me what to share, where to go and how to begin. He led me to Hosea. I had read it before, but not like I did in preparation for this. As I poured over the pages I realized...I am Gomer. I am Israel. I have prostituted myself in a number of ways: drugs, alcohol, materialism, control and anger, just to name a few. Hosea 4:1-2a says, "Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel! The Lord has brought charges against you saying: 'there is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You make vows and break them; you kill, steal and commit adultery...'" That was me. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little bit about how I got there.

My parents have been married for 40 years. Amazing right? They are loving people that have always told me and shown me just how much they love me. My Dad is a very strong, sensitive and affectionate man who is extremely hard working. My mother is a tender southern belle that has had Multiple Sclerosis since her early 20s and although there have been times of remission; much of her life has been plagued by this disease. I think much of my anger issues have stemmed from this. Anger at God for letting her have this disease and anger at the MS for taking away the Mom I needed and had always wanted. Although my Mom has always been independent and determined, she was never able to do the Mother/Daughter things that I dreamt of like going shopping at the mall, going for walks and having deep, meaningful conversations. Instead there were wheel chairs, handicap parking spots, bottled up emotions - for fear of being a burden - and other irrational fears.

I grew up in North Carolina. Every Sunday was filled with church and a drive to my grandparents' farm where we spent the day with our entire extended family. Although I never had a personal relationship with Christ, I felt very comfortable and safe with this family ritual. We all loved each other very much and some of my fondest childhood memories were at my Grandparents’ with all of my cousins. We played Charlie's Angels and Dukes of Hazard, made homemade ice cream and later in the day I could often be found in the pack house building something. How could you not love that, right? But, that all changed in the 4th grade when my Dad was asked to open a women's shoe store in Texas. (Insert the beginning of my materialism here!) I remember lying in my bed at night crying to my Mom wondering if I would have any friends in Texas and being terrified that no one would like me.

My early years in Texas were filled with making new friends and being boy crazy. Typical girl stuff I guess, but I so desperately wanted people to like me that I pretty much did whatever I thought would make them happy or make me look "cool." As this behavior continued, and my Mom and Dad worked hard to have a successful business, I began smoking, drinking, doing drugs and having inappropriate relationships with boys. As retail shops began opening on Sundays, every day was now a workday. Going to church came to a halt. I didn’t really care either; I had zero relationship with God and just saw it as an opportunity to sleep in late. My friends and boyfriends quickly became more important to me than anything else. But in order to be sure that everyone liked me (parents and teacher included), my grades never slipped and I maintained the "good daughter" status with my parents. I quickly became very good at manipulation and secrets. By my Sophomore year in High School, I had lost my virginity and had progressed from smoking pot to snorting speed and doing ecstasy.

At fourteen, I began working for my Dad at the shoe store and was now expected to pay for any extracurricular activities and begin saving for a car. I am extremely grateful for all that this taught me – the value of a dollar, hard work, self-sufficiency, etc. And, I am also very aware now that this independence bred my desire to control, a need to grow up way too fast and a false sense of maturity. My parents viewed me as the mature, pretty daughter with street smarts and my sister as the book-smart, good girl. They never came right out and said those things, but their praises and discipline reflected exactly that. I tried very hard to live up to their expectations! I worked hard and maintained good grades all while getting expelled for drinking at a football game, going to jail for being out past curfew and skipping last period to go get high. I think my parents saw a lot of my rebellion as growing pains and a wild side, that my Dad also had while he was growing up. Unfortunately, my "wild side" continued into college and beyond.

My lifestyle remained the same for years and my desire to control MY life was exacerbated by the loss of our family business and home, my parents’ bankruptcy and an unwanted pregnancy. Even though I was only a freshman in college, I thought my parents were unable to protect and provide; that was up to me. I was sure there was no God. How could God let one family go through so much? Why would He give my Mom MS? How could He take away our livelihood and strip my Dad of everything he had worked so hard for? And how could I be pregnant when I was so clearly not ready to be a Mom? It didn’t make any sense; especially if God was suppose to be this loving, all-powerful being. When I found out I was pregnant I had become so self-sufficient and self-centered I didn't even ask the father what he wanted. I wanted an abortion and that was that - end of discussion. I was so sure that “God” had made a mistake, that I would be a horrible Mother and that abortion was the best thing for me and the baby. I had the abortion in the fall and quickly buried all memories and feelings associated with the act because I was so sure I had done the right thing.

My drug days finally came to an end after one very humiliating night of partying where I did things I never thought I would do. The next day was awful - full of pain and an over-all uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn't want to talk to anyone or even get out of bed. Looking back, I can see that the Holy Spirit was very much at work, but at the time, I was unaware and uninterested in all things relating to God. I just knew the drugs had to stop - not the drinking and having a good time - just the drugs. They had become too much.

I was jumping from job to job and relationship to relationship. I kept partying, began working out compulsively, and when things spiraled out of my control, I told myself I was worthless and began hitting myself. Hosea 4:10 says, "They will eat and still be hungry." Gosh, that was so true for me, nothing satisfied me and yet, it was very important for me to maintain the appearance of having it all together and for others to like me. Then something totally unexpected happened, I became re-acquainted with a friend from college – Adam Fish. Adam was so different from me – extremely talented, quiet, introverted and really funny (although, I’m pretty sure I’m funnier.) As my relationship with Adam deepened I began feeling safe. (I think I kind of knew he was the one.) I started sharing things with Adam I had never told anyone. It was Adam who opened my eyes to my anger at God for my Mom’s MS. And through Adam’s search for a relationship with the Lord, I found one too. Little by little God began to chip away at my heart and reveal things to me about myself through marriage, friends and the pregnancy of our first son, Jude. It wasn’t fun (not at all like partying) and it sure wasn’t pretty (something I had wanted to be for so long) but, God was at work! I even went to Celebrate Recovery at our church (once) and quickly decided, nah, that’s not for me.

When I found out I was pregnant with a child I had planned, I was both excited and nervous. Then I began having strange visions that completely terrified me. They were like nightmares, only I was awake. I remember actually dropping to my knees in prayer for the first time ever and reading my Bible every spare second I could find. I even took a road-trip to Austin to visit my best-friend and would sneak away to pray and read my bible when she was doing other things. I was consumed. I was so desperate for answers to why this was happening and how I could make these visions stop. Eventually, I found the courage to tell Adam about my visions. He and others in our community wondered if there was any correlation between my visions and my past abortion. I seriously doubted it because I never even thought about my abortion. It wasn’t even a part of my testimony! They all suggested I go see a counselor. So I did – once. Are you seeing a pattern here? I was so terrified of what others would think of me; I wanted to pray it away and fix it for myself. I was so sure I could handle this on my own. Hello, desire to control!

Things got really bad after Jude was born. Not only was I a sleep deprived new Mom, I was carrying around the baggage of my abortion. The damage of that baggage began to destroy my marriage and me, but the worst were its effects on my son. I felt so completely out of control as a Mom. I wasn’t able to control how long he slept, how much he ate, or at times, when he would nap. This drove my crazy; I felt completely inept. I was sure I was doing something wrong. But it didn’t stop there. I was so crippled by the fear that God would take away our son as payment for my past sin that I tried to control and protect his every move as well as my husband’s when he was caring for Jude. My fear often came out as anger and rage. In an effort to gain control of my life and the situations that played out daily, I began hitting myself again and fighting with both my husband and our one year old son – who couldn’t even talk back! I was believing the lies that I had told myself before my abortion – I was a terrible Mom; God had made a mistake in giving me this child and on and on. Looking into my son’s eyes and seeing the hurt and confusion caused by my outbursts, I finally hit rock bottom. In the spring of 2007 I submitted to the Lord and began Someone Cares, a post-abortion recovery ministry offered through our church. God used that ministry and the women in it to change my life – literally! God gave me freedom from my past through His love, grace and mercy. I began to see my past and all my mistakes as His story of grace in my life. My eyes were opened to the anger, fear and lies that were wrapped up in my abortion and the manifestations of those symptoms in my life. I knew I wasn’t “cured” but life was so much sweeter than it had ever been. I knew I could move forward in His peace and truly find joy in life and motherhood.

I wish I could say life remained simple, blissful and manageable, but without struggle there would be no growth. The Lord brought new challenges into my life that continued to painfully refine me and were forcing me deal with more of my junk! In an effort for my husband and I to serve and grow together, he suggested we both lead a small group in Celebrate Recovery. Through much prayer and the counsel of others, I arrived back at CR. It was time to look at my relationship with my parents, deal with our family bankruptcy and let God heal me yet again. I am happy to say that this time I came more than once! I kinda had to since I was going to facilitate a group and go through the program at the same time. As I worked the steps of CR and related to the struggles of others around me, God revealed more past hurts and coping strategies. Through God’s word, Celebrate Recovery and community, I have been given the tools I need to become aware of the red warning light on my dashboard and deal with my hurts before they hurt someone I love.

Proverbs 29:18 says, “When people do not accept divine guidance, the will run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.” Daily I lift up my cross and cast my worries to God. Some days are much better than others, but I think my family and my community would all say that they see His joy in me. The Lord has traded my trouble for hope (Hosea 2:15) and has restored the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25.) He has traded my ashes for beauty (Isaiah 61). I have been redeemed!

If you have a story of trials, hurts, regrets, guilt and pain, please know that there is no condemnation in Christ. He promises this in Isaiah 54:4, “Fear not, you will no longer live in shame. Do not be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth...” You don’t have to be afraid; there is hope in Christ. Just like Hosea, God is telling His love story through each of us. Thank you for letting me share my chapter with you.

If you would like to share your story on Share Your Story Sunday, please contact me
I would love to hear from you :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sheet Music Bottle

Hey friends! This post is something I wrote for Crafting a Green World, but after my sheet music desk, I knew I had to share it with you all as well! Plus, it's super simple to make-- my favorite! 

You will need sheet music, glue, and a some sort of bottle. Some friends of mine gave me several wine bottles after one of their family get togethers, so that's what I used (yay for free crafting supplies!). This is what my bottle looked like before (I took off all of the labels and such):

Then, I tore out some pages from my sheet music books (the same ones I used for my sheet music desk). I tore them into smaller strips so it would be easier to wrap around the bottle. After that, I mixed a little bit of water with some glue. I didn't do exact measurements for this, but you just need to thin out the glue to where it's the same consistency of a soup. I used my fingers to put the glue on the sheet music and then I just put it on the bottle. I put pieces with a straight edge on the bottom of the bottle so it covered the bottle completely:

Once you have covered the bottle with your sheet music, allow it to dry completely.

Now, I must make a confession. My original intention was to make this a cute decoration for Valentine's day by writing "Love" with a red sharpie on top of the sheet music (after it dried, of course). However, it looked a hot messsssssss. So, needless to say, I have the ugly "love" side pointed towards the wall. If you have awesome handwriting, or if you wanted to cut out pretty letters and then paste them to the bottle, I think it would be an adorable idea! Here's my sheet music bottle completely dry:

I have it as decoration on my yellow dresser for now. What do you guys think? What else would you use this sheet music bottle for? Let me know your ideas on the Revolutionaries facebook wall--I would love to hear from you!

Linking up at these amazing parties

Friday, January 20, 2012

Repurposed Cabinet Door, Part 4

Hey guys! This is the last repurposed cabinet door post! If you haven't checked out part 1part 2, or part 3, please check them out first! In part 1 you will find a before picture of the cabinet and the run-down of prices and such :) The cabinet door I'm sharing with you guys today is the one I made for my Nana.. you know, the one who celebrated her 90th birthday this year? Yeah, she's awesome. She loves to read, so I wanted to incorporate that into her project.

First, I painted the outside "frame" black-- the same black I painted my Dad's cabinet (part 3), my couch redo, and my baby grand project. Then, I used an Elmer's glue/water mixture to glue down all of the book pages. When I did my Dollar Store Find: Silver Tray post, I burned some book pages from a book that I got at a garage sale. I saved some of the burned book pages that I didn't use for future projects-- like this one! 

Once that was all dry, I hot glued buttons on top of the paper and formed them into the word "Nana." Then, I added the clothespins for her to hang pictures like I did with the other projects.
 (Side note: I took these pictures on Christmas Eve night, right before I wrapped all of the repurposed cabinets, therefore, I didn't get great pictures of this project. The rest of the projects I was able to take pictures of after they had opened them.)

Here is the final product:

She loved it!
I know I didn't go into a lot of details in this post, so if you have any questions, please let me know.
I love you all and hope you are having an awesome weekend so far! If you have some extra time this weekend, find me on facebook or pinterest-- I love hearing from you guys!

Linking up at these amazing parties

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

So many awesome things have been happening on this little ol' blog of mine and I wanted to take some time to say thank you!

1. Revolutionaries reached over 100 followers this week. I am blown away by all of your love and support! It makes my day to get all of your sweet comments :)

2. Shannon from Vintage Restyled nominated me for the Liebster Award this week. The Liebster Award was created to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers. Someone nominates you, and then you are supposed to nominate 5 other blogs. I think this is such a cool way to support each other and get encouragement from other bloggers. So, here are the 5 blogs I would like to nominate:

[Her site doesn't list how many followers she has, but I loveee her new post on covering books with brown paper.. so cute!]

[The card above is from Live. Teach. Create. She has even more amazing designs for cards on her blog!]

3. In the next few weeks, I'm hoping to get a new design for the blog. My friend is helping me out and I am thrilled for you all to see it. Just be patient with me if things are kind of weird for a little bit!

Again, thank you so much for all of your support. 
I am so thankful for all of you :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sheet Music Desk!

Ahh! I'm so excited to show you guys this project-- it's probably one of my favorite projects because it involves two of my favorite things: furniture and music! I made a sheet music desk for my best friend, Crystal, for Christmas. I've seen several sheet music projects in blogland like this incredible dresser from Miss Mustard Seed and this beautiful desk from Shabby Creek Cottage. Crystal needed a large desk for all of her recording equipment she has. I kept searching and searching for the perfect desk, and finally I found one that looked large enough on Craiglist (for $25-- amazingness!). The problem was, it didn't have a wooden top like the other projects I had seen on blogs--it had a metal base and then a very thick piece of glass on top. Then it hit me-- why don't I just put the sheet music under the glass so I don't have to do layer upon layer of polyurethane! So, I did.

Here's the desk before (sorry I didn't put the glass on top-- it is so heavy!)

Materials I Used:

1. A sheet of plywood (I had the lovely gentleman at the hardware store cut it down to the exact size of the glass).

2.  Elmer's spray adhesive (I only used 1 of the 2 cans I bought).

3. A sandpaper block thing (I know that's a super technical term, but it's in the picture above)

4. Sheet music. I used sheets from 3 different types of music books I found at the thrift store. They were 50 cents each and I'm so excited to continue using them for other projects!

5. Black spray paint (I used Kyrlon's Black Gloss spray paint).

How I Did It:

1. First, I spray painted the base black. I had to do several coats-- the metal was a beast!

2. Then, I measured my plywood to make sure the man at the hardware store cut it correctly. It was not the same size.. argh! I would like to blame the man at the hardware store, but it was probably my amazing measuring skills. Nevertheless, this gave me an excuse to use my new jigsaw that I got for Christmas. Yesss!

3. Once the plywood was the perfect size, I sanded the edges a little bit. I also sanded any really rough spots on the top. I don't think this is a necessary step, but it made me feel better and I felt like it would keep the pages from ripping or tearing. 

4. This was the hardest step for me because I felt like the worst person ever, but you have to rip those beautiful, antiqued pages out of their books. I purposely chose not to cut them out because I wanted that old, ripped, delicate look. In addition, I went through all of the music and chose songs that I knew Crystal would know. For example, all of my books were Christian song books, so I chose songs that she would know and like to go on top (where she will be able to see them). Other songs that I didn't think she would know, I put on the sides or the bottom layer.

5. After that, I started gluing the sheet music to the edges of the plywood first. I glued around the edges so that you wouldn't be able to tell that it was plywood.

For the corners, put one sheet of music on one edge, and then put another sheet on the opposite edge. If that made absolutely no sense, please refer to the picture below:

6. Once I finished all of the edges, I layered other pages on top. Continue to layer until all of the plywood is covered. Like I said in step 4, I saved songs that she would know for the top layer.

If you're working outside, here is a bit of advice for you: bring your project inside to dry. I left my project outside and decided to bring it in around 9 pm. When I brought it inside, there were several bubbles underneath the pages because of the moisture in the air. To save you some crying, whining, and frustration, bring it inside. Luckily, the glass smushes most of the bubbles out.

 Once everything dried (I gave it about 24 hours before I put the glass on top), I put the desk all together. Here it is (warning: I went photo crazy):

 The lamp makeover project and the "baby grand" piano project go with it perfectly!

Crystal's favorite yard sale find-- Mr. Frog :)

Serious hard work is going to go on here :)

For real, though, I'm so excited to see all of this cute stuff clear off so she can set up her monitors and.. stuff that I don't know the names of. She's going to be an amazing producer one day. Remember the little people who made your desk, Crystal.. remember the little people :)

What do you guys think!?
I love your feedback and keeping in touch--find me on facebook or pinterest :)

Linking up at these amazing parties

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Repurposed Cabinet Door, Part 3

Hello friends! This is part 3 of my repurposed cabinet door projects. If you haven't already, check out part 1 (a home decor gift for my mom) and part 2 (a gift for my sports loving grandma)! Today I'm sharing the gift I made for my Dad. I got the idea to use washers from this awesome post at I'll Get You My Pretties. My Dad is a "manly man" who can fix anything, build anything, etc. so using washers was perfect for him. While I was home, he even supervised my first cut with my new jigsaw :) yay me!

In this post I don't go into much detail about where I bought everything or what the cabinet door looked like before, so if you're interested, refer to part 1.

How I Did It:

1. First, I taped off the middle portion of the cabinet door with painter's tape. I decided to use the original white paint color for the middle part to save money. After taping, I painted the outside "frame" black. I used the same black paint that I used for my couch redo and my baby grand project. I also painted the clothes pins black.

2. With a package of washers from the hardware store, I spelled out "Dad." Then, I hot glued them to the cabinet. You will want to make sure you measure and center the word "Dad," of course.

3. After that, I hot glued the clothes pins to the cabinet door. Like I mentioned in the previous posts, my first concern was to cover up the hole where the knob used to go, and then I measured from there.

And you're done! I love the simplicity of these projects! My Dad hung this in his office-- it's the perfect place to put reminders, photos, or business cards.

What do you guys think?! 
I love your feedback and keeping in touch--find me on facebook or pinterest :)

Update: Part 4 of this series is now up!

Linking up at these amazing parties

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Share Your Story Sunday #5--Grace for the Road

While I was on facebook this week, my friend Kelsey posted a link to this post on Grace for the Road. I really needed to hear it and knew I wanted to share it with you all. With Grace's permission, I've copied and pasted her story for you all to read today. I hope it speaks to you like it spoke to me!

For a long time there, I just wanted an answer. Please, for the love, someone just tell me what to do.

And when I say long time, I mean years, right in the heart of my life.
I thought about it a lot. I’d waver back and forth between trying not to think about it and frantically trying to figure it out. Then I’d come up with zero, so I’d go back to not thinking about it.
Christmas made me think about it, though. Church made me think about it. Nightmares made me think about it.
I walked the aisle once. I was 9. Did that hold any water?
It sure didn’t feel like it sometimes.
I had a heart full of sin I’d shoved way down, didn’t know how to deal with and frankly … struggled to care.
I had a head full of answers, I thought.
But what I thought I knew wasn’t adding up to my apathetic reality. Growing up, I’d seen Christianity portrayed almost as a formula … cue the invitation hymn, feel the tug, walk down the aisle.
Pray the prayer.
Write the date down in the front of your zip-up Bible so you can go back to “the day you nailed it down” on the days you’re questioning it. Read it sometimes. Dust it off, cut into its pages and hope for an answer to a question occasionally.
I missed its most important bits somehow … like the fact that “praying the prayer” isn’t anywhere in it.
And there was the issue of where that left me.
It does say that anyone who believes in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16). But it also says that even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).
So there had to be something different to this belief thing than what I had going on … which was to think about the state of my relationship with Jesus as little as possible. I knew it was important.
I believed.

But so did the demons.
And I could fool people, but not myself.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want it to be right … I did. Badly. I remember reading my Bible and being discouraged by how I didn’t feel anything, by how hard my heart was. I knew I believed. I knew things needed to change.
But I didn’t know how to get from point A to point B.
Point B was where a lot of genuine believers were living, and I envied their peace and close walk with Jesus. I really wanted a piece of real estate on point B.
“If someone would just tell me what to do, I’d do it.”
I thought that thought an uncountable number of times. I thought it through tears, through revivals, through apathy, through selfishness.
Sometimes I wanted it fixed for my own peace, for the benefits that came with it, for the things I thought I could never expect to receive until He and I were right.
Sometimes I wanted it because I knew it was supposed to be the most important thing and I was missing it.
I wanted a straight answer, a list of things to check off, or a lightning-bolt moment. A nonstop ticket to point B.
Or even if it wasn’t a fast ride there, I at least wanted a sure one.
In my desperation, I set New Year’s resolutions to get there. I bought spiritual self-help books. I sheepishly but desperately sought the advice of strangers who didn’t know me and couldn’t judge me.
My pleas sounded something like this:
“I know once you’re saved, you’re always saved. But what does that mean? And I know you can never go so far away you can’t be forgiven. But I still think I’ve gone so far I can’t be forgiven.”
I asked them for an answer. They had one. It was Jesus.
And there I was, still at point A.
I’d been sick of myself dozens of times, come to the proverbial end of my rope dozens of times, had nothing left to do but turn to Him dozens of times. I told Him as much. Isn’t this supposed to be the part where He reaches down and helps you out?
But I found later there’s a difference in being at the end of your rope and the end of yourself. The end of my rope was a selfish place, and had been for a while.
The end of myself was entirely different.
It came one day when I least expected it, a thought that propelled me out of my chair and onto my knees. It wasn’t a lightning bolt, and it wasn’t a prescribed action.
This time, I wasn’t done with my situation, my life. I was done with me.
I gave Him everything.
It wasn’t perfect. But it began to change everything.
I just finally stopped seeing Jesus as an answer to my problems or a decision I made and started seeing Him as Someone to strive to attain, Someone to love, Someone I wanted more than anything.
And I don’t just mean “more than anything.” That phrase has lost its punch.
I mean more than anything I thought I deserved as a good person, or as an American, or even as a Christian.
More than a husband. More than a salary, or a city I loved, or tickets to a football game. More than the comfort of living where I chose, in the type of house I chose, driving the kind of car I chose. More than spending my time the way I wanted to.
He was more important than all of that.
He was more important than me.
In church, I think I heard more times than I can count, “Put Jesus first in your life.”
OK, fine. What does that even mean? It became way too easy way too early in my life to say, “Yes, He’s first in my life.” Because I read my Bible sometimes. Because I knew He was important, even if I didn’t act that way. Or because I acted like He was important, but not an all-consuming kind of important.
Way too early in life, I got to where I would say “Jesus is first in my life” as a statement of faith, like “I believe in Jesus” or “the Bible is God’s Word” or “God is love.”
Because I was a Christian and occasionally choosing Christian things over nonChristian things, that meant God was first in my life.
And not just false, but blinding.
It was a beautiful release when I finally crashed into Him.
It’s possible I’m the only person who’s ever been in this spot. Praise Him if that’s the case. But if this is you … I plead with you in 2012 to see Him … really see Him … as the Jesus who deserves your everything, every detail of your life, every bit of your love and desire and pursuit. He is worthy, and He is worth it. It does start with a prayer, but it’s just that … a start … of a life caught up in Him daily. A life of working out how to handle every moment knowing He’s in it and owns it, and that He’s help for every struggle. A life of wanting Him more with every thought, with every minute.
He won’t fail to meet you if you hold nothing back.

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