The Design

by Rhonda, February 26, 2024

I crawled into bed and the minute my head hit the pillow, my eyes were closed.  It had been a long week.  Work hours were challenging.  I had several social events to attend in the evenings after work.  I tried to fit my workouts in somewhere (didn't happen), and I planned to clean my house (also didn't happen).   By the end, I'd either worked or attended social events for fourteen days straight.

This is not good for an introvert.

And, I know better.

My energy is not unlimited, and if I don't take a rest day every week, I will hit the wall.  Hard.  Perhaps others don't have this issue, but God designed me in such a way that I cannot plow through a hectic schedule week after week without a break.

It has taken over four decades for me to understand God had a specific design in mind when He made me.  I love quiet.  I love creativity.  I am unable to socialize on a continuous basis (or sometimes, not at all).  If I choose a hobby, I will study every aspect of the hobby until I master it, so I can't have many hobbies.  I like bright colors.  I love to eat potatoes.  If I make a plan, I will execute the plan, by the book, with everything I have.  As a result, I can't have too many plans.  I also require downtime, and I need an entire day of it every week.  

These things aren't weaknesses, or problems I need to overcome.  They are simply my design.  I don't need to push myself harder when I feel exhausted.  I don't need to compete with my extroverted friends, who cannot understand why I would turn down socializing to be at home.  No, I simply need to follow my design.  

I don't need to have more hobbies, I need to understand my limitations around hobbies due to the way I approach learning new things.  I must think carefully about my plans or they will overtake my life.  I will always love potatoes and I still think it is a great idea to try to live on potatoes alone.  God created me with specific traits to accomplish a specific purpose.  What are yours?  

I wonder how life would feel if we stopped beating ourselves up over how we compare to others and instead celebrated God's creativity.  Our unique traits are God's fingerprints, His unique serial number is stamped onto each and every one of us.  He must love His creation.  He was so detailed and careful when He created it.  

Today, I took a walk around the city with my dog.  I couldn't help but notice the wide variety of people we came across.  God loves variety.  God loves diversity.  He shows us this over and over with His creation.  Think of how many species roam our planet.  Look at the varied landscapes.  He is a God of variety, and He sees his creation as good even though it isn't consistent.  It was never meant to be monotonous.

How was He creative with you?  Do you also love potatoes?  Do you like to dance?  Are you creative or analytical?  Are you a planner or more of an adventurous spirit?  He thought of all of these things when He made you.  How special you are for Him to consider every aspect of you.   

He loves you.

He is delighted by you.

This means you can be delighted by you.  You can celebrate the unique ways God created you!  Follow your design without trying to be competitive.  You might be surprised where it will lead you.

The Identity

by Rhonda, February 09, 2024

When we are born into this world, we are a unique creation, masterminded by God himself.  We are created with our own set of DNA.  Our eye color, skin color, and body type are individual to each of us.  Our personalities are unique.  We have likes and dislikes, preferences and pain points.  God's fingerprints are all over every one of us, creating us to be completely individual from any other.

Yet, if you've gone through any sort of trauma recently, you may find yourself wondering, Who am I, really?  Where is my place in this world?  I think it is particularly normal to try to redefine yourself after you've gone through a divorce.  Everything familiar is changing.  So many of us have a significant amount of our identity wrapped up in our marriage.  When all of a sudden, it doesn't exist anymore, you feel like you don't exist anymore.  There's a lot of self help books written specifically around this, advertising the secret to finding yourself and being comfortable in your own skin.  

Thank goodness it is not up to us to define who we are. We are simply who God says we are.  No past defines us.  No opinion molds us.  The only One who can tell us about ourselves is God Himself.  If you don't believe me, have a look at scriptures:

1 Peter 2:9  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Colossians 3:12  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.

Ephesians 2:10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

1 John 3:1  Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

These are just a few scriptures, and if you want to read more about yourself, the Bible is full of verses such as these.  According to these verses, you're a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, the elect of God, holy and beloved, His workmanship, and His child.  I don't know about you, but that's a far greater identity than I could have ever designed for myself.  God's mercies are great, aren't they?  Can you believe this is how he sees us?  

He sees little old divorced me as holy and beloved.

I used to ask Him God why would you be so kind to me? But, as I've gotten to know Him more and more through this traumatic process of divorce, I've learned it isn't about me.  He is simply that amazing.  His love is that incredible.

He doesn't want you to be more like Mary down the street, who has been married for thirty years, has grandkids, and the perfect Christmas decorations every year.  He doesn't want you to be more like anyone else, because He created you to be you.  The way you laugh?  He created that.  The way you burn dinner (speaking for myself here)?  He didn't design you to be a master chef.  The nights you're tired and end up in bed with a bag of Cheetos (random example, completely)?  He gets it.

He is delighted by you.  Yes, you.

So, even after feeling like you've lost so much in the divorce, just remember that God's definition of you depends on Him.  Not on you, your decisions, your past, or even your future.  Your identity is in Him, and there's nothing to redefine.  Your life may be different and your decisions may be different.  But, nothing can change the truth.  You've been created by the One who loves you more than you can imagine.

That's your identity.

The House

by Rhonda, February 04, 2024

The winter weather finally gave way this week.  We've had some sixty-degree weather arrive in our part of the country, and it makes me want to lay outside in the sun's rays and soak up the happiness.  It feels so wonderful.

Right now, we've moved partially to our place in the city.  I spend the week in the city and the weekends at home in the country.  I like the mix of locations, but eventually I'll have to make the move from one to the other.

When you leave the last home you were married in, it feels like another step in finalizing your divorce.  We've been divorced for over a year now and separated for four years.  But, leaving the last place you were together brings up a lot of emotions and if I'm honest, I feel triggered.  

I know God is calling me to simplify my life.  He wants me to move forward.  He always wants us to move forward.  But, sometimes I struggle so much with looking backwards.  It reminds me of Lot's wife in the Bible.  As God was destroying the city behind her, she was told not to look back.  When she disobeyed God and looked back, she turned to a pillar of salt.

Did you know there's actually a pillar of salt named Lot's Wife near the Dead Sea?  I digress.

God is always moving ahead, wanting us to leave our past behind and follow Him.  There's nothing wrong with me feeling nostalgic about selling my home, but I am not meant to stay here and relive the past over and over.  God always has something new in store, He's not big on rehashing the past.  I guess I shouldn't be either.

I don't want to be as useless as a pillar of salt because I'm always looking backwards.  That would make me, uh, salty.

I want to move ahead into whatever God has in store for me.  Isn't it crazy how difficult it is to let go of the past?  Even if the past isn't good, we still hold onto it for dear life, as if it still has something to offer us.  But, here's the news flash.  It doesn't have anything else for us.  That's why it is the past and not the present.  

Isaiah 43:18-19  The LORD says, “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in the dry land.

The Bible takes it one step further from simply moving forward from the past.  It actually says we are to forget about it and not think about it.  Can you imagine what life would be like if you never thought about your mistakes from the past?  That thing you cringe about from your past?  You actually don't need to think about it anymore.  You don't need to shame yourself.  You don't need to hate yourself.  You don't need to wish it away.  The Bible actually says forget about it.  (in an Italian accent.)

God is so amazing, isn't He?  He goes to great lengths to separate us from our past mistakes.  His Word reminds us over and over that we are worth so much more to Him than our sin.  He could shame us and He could punish us.  But, He says look at the new thing I'm going to do for you.  He died so that we can forget about our past.  I don't think any of us can fully comprehend the sacrifice He made to allow us to move forward and be with Him in heaven.  

So, if you're feeling stuck in a place that is holding you back from where God is leading you, remember how important it is to move forward.  Letting go is hard, but staying in a place not meant for you anymore is harder.

Keep going.