Thursday, September 20, 2012

Will The Real April Phipps Please Stand Up!

This past week marked a year to the day when everything changed for me. The direction for my life, the course that I was set upon, my companion,my faith and even my location. It's hard to believe that a year has already gone by. It's amazing how time changes everything. Sometimes it seems to drag, then other times it is so fleeting. My emotions have been through what I would like to call for a lack of a better phrase "severe trauma" :) I have felt like I have been on a non stop roller coaster ride for months. So up and so down. Around every bend, a twist, a loop, a curve. I want to stand up and scream "let me off this ride!!" But that is what life is sometimes - a ride. You can go along for it or get run over by it :) I have experienced both.

But one truth to this last year's journey, I have never been alone in it. I have felt alone, but have never truly been alone. I began to think about riding a roller coaster. I remember being scared and you always want someone else to be with you when you are trying something scary! I remember getting on the roller coaster and then spending the majority of the time forgetting my fear because I was too busy laughing at the person riding with me who was screaming their head off! They were just as scared as I was and they weren't afraid to show it.

That is how life is. The enemy likes to convince us that we are alone. That no one has ever had it as bad as we have it. That no one is thinking of us or even cares to see our pain. But that is simply not the truth. In fact, there are usually more people who can relate than not. We all just like to hide or mask our pain so others can't see. We have foolishly convinced ourselves that to show any realness or pain somehow equates to weakness or failure on our part.

Well I say to you today "enough is enough". No one is riding on Cloud Nine 100% of the time. We all deal with the ups and downs. And it takes real courage to be able to look at someone when they ask you "how are you?" and say "you know what..not real great today, but I will make it in the name of Jesus!" :) There is a vast difference in having a pity party and being real. A pity party person makes it as bad as it can get in order to gain the sympathy of others. A real person tells it like it is in order to gain the help of others!

I am not ashamed of what I have been through! I did not ASK for a single second of it, it just happened. But because it happened does not mean that it has to define the rest of my life. Truth be today? I am tired, I am lonely! I am sick of being broke and struggling. I am so tired of having to be the bigger person when I didn't do anything wrong in the first place!! :) I try to cheer myself up with all the spiritual lingo that I know..."I can do all things through Jesus", "The bigger person always wins in the end", "I am more than a conqueror" and so forth. But sometimes, even though you know these things, you don't want to hear them :) You want to vent, you want to cry, you want to let it all out! It doesn't make you a bad person or a person who is lacking in faith. It makes you a real person.

You have heard it said that admitting it is the first step! Well I don't know about you but I admit it!! I am not perfect. I don't have it all together. My life is not a fairy tale all of the time. Sometimes I could play the lead in "Enchanted" others times the heroine of "Nightmare on Elm Street" :) But I am me. I have decided to be genuine. A "what you see is what you get" kind of person. Love me or leave me, you will never have to guess about me! Wearing a mask and faking it is absolutely exhausting! It takes way to much effort. People usually see right through that anyway. So it's ok to say it's a bad day! The great thing about being able to recognize when you have a bad day is you are usually an expert at appreciating the good days then!! You have had enough of the others that you take full advantage of the good days.

Life will bring you plenty of every season. Embrace them and learn from them. It is what makes us who we are. It defines our character, our persistence, our resilience. I love, love, love good days. I appreciate the bad ones. Your life is your story. The stories with all the different elements are the most believable ones and the most enjoyable to read! :) Sorry if this blog today has been like a roller coaster...all over the place. It's just my feelings today. And hey pray for me!! I am so ready to go on a date! :) Not to have a relationship...just to get someone else to pay for my movie!! hahahaha...now how is that for real :)
Your friend in this incredible story that is life!
April

Friday, September 7, 2012

Living on the Island of Misfit Toys

Ok so I know that it is only September but I am already getting in the Christmas mood! :) I have always loved that holiday! Everything about it! The food, the family, the music and especially the christmas cartoons! For some reason today, I was pondering on the current circumstances in my life and the Rudolph cartoon came into my mind.

Have you ever seen the scene where Rudolph, Hermes and Yukon Cornelius are fleeing from the snow beast and they land on the island of misfit toys? All of these little toys are gathered around a fire and they are lamenting the fact that another Christmas is almost upon them and once again they will be looked over because they are "flawed". When our three travelers come upon them, they are greeted by a "charlie in the box", a train with rear wheels that are square, a fish that has bird wings, etc. Each of these toys are deemed "useless" because they are not qualified to do what they were created to do. There is a kind lion that has adopted these toys, but even in her kindness, she considers them second rate.

Rudolph and his friends are moved by the plight of these little toys and Rudolph promises to tell Santa all about them when they get home and assures them that Santa can find them a home, regardless of their flaws!!

I have so felt like one of those toys this last year!!! I knew what my purpose was, what I was created to be. I was a wife, mother, a help meet. I found my fulfillment in serving and helping my husband in the ministry. All of a sudden, that purpose was stripped from me and I was left to wonder what my use was? Here I was, pretty much middle aged, now single, trying to figure out where to go from here. For 17 years, I was serving my "purpose" and now my purpose was gone. Who could use a has been? Wouldn't people look at me and see somebody who had "seen their better days?" I really struggled with what was next. Everywhere I turned was reminders of what I had and lost. Happy couples, ministry couples...people in their prime. Fulfilling their destiny. It was so tempting to allow myself to be swallowed up in the pity and grief of it all.

But I was smart enough to realize that I was not alone. At just the right moments, God would send a "Rudolph and Friend" to remind me that I wasn't finished yet, that there was still a place for me! Think of how many people go through this. Mothers that have dedicated their lives to their children and now are suffering empty nest syndrome, another has been care giver to an aging parent and that parent has passed on. Someone has dedicated their life to a job, only to lose it in the last few months. Others are like me and have suffered the heartache of divorce and love lost. Even more unimaginable to me, there are those who have suffered the death of a love one.

How do you find your place when you go through these things? The only way I know how is by believing that God did NOT create you one dimensional. He did not bestow just the bare minimum of grace upon you to survive. But He created each of us with a plethora of talents and abilities. Most of us just don't ever have the occasion to have to dig deep enough to find the ones that don't sit on the surface.

Well, needless to say, I have had to find the shovel and start digging!! I have hit plenty of rocks and had to remove lots of dirt :) but every great once in a while I found that little box of dreams that I had buried deep down and have started sifting through what I thought was impossible to dare to reach for it again. My friend, today I feel compelled to tell you that you are not done. God is not finished with us yet!! Life doesn't always turn out the way that we always imagined it would!! But that doesn't mean that it has to be less than what God would have for us. I am determined not to quit, but to be reborn!! How about you? Are you game!! We can do this together. I will pray for you, you pray for me!! God loves me and WILL use us, flaws and all!!!

Taking it day by day and believing for bigger and better!! In this thing called life with you! Your Friend-
April