I have not written an entry in three years and almost fourteen days. I don't even know where to begin, but begin, I must. Again God as shown me that He has given me gifts to use for His glory and I have accepted Satan's gag-order on my life for far too long.
I will begin with a praise report! In February of this year, I finished my MS in Mental Health Counseling I had been working on. What's more? It only took me three months to land a good job. Surely the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
But in other news, I lost my marriage, my home, my two step-children, and my extended family as I answered God's call to move 1100 miles away from the land of my ancestors and relocate to the Tampa Bay area of Florida. For some reason, God was pushing me, provoking me, and prodding me to look at the truth of my life and step out on faith. It was not easy, but I knew in my heart of hearts that I had to heed His call. All of the signs were there and pointing the way and what's worse, no one was stopping me. Everyone I consulted about leaving, including my mother, my father, and my husband said, "I think Florida will be good for you. You need to go." One year ago today, I packed up my 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan with only the things I loved the most - including my daughters - and started driving. The journey that has unfolded has been as equally painful as it has been enlightening. As the anniversary of my departure grew closer, I began to feel like "For such a bold move, I haven't accomplished much". But then, in true God form, an inspirational quotation crossed my path: "You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one." Ouch. He is so right (all the time). So here I am, taking a new step of faith, hopefully bigger, bolder, and more trusting than ever before.
When I began this blog, I named it The Naked Turtle because I felt God was calling me to be transparent before others - to stick my neck out in faith - and maybe even pure and blameless in His sight. While I still feel the need to be bold - my understanding of a naked turtle was challenged recently. My new pastor actually loves to use puppetry as part of his ministry, and he has an amazing turtle puppet. His message to our Vacation Bible School kids this year was that a turtle's shell is kinda like God. The turtle can't go anywhere without his shell; we should not want to go anywhere without God. A turtle without a shell is a dead turtle as the shell holds its spine. We, as people, without God are a dead people. That's deep. Therefore, my being a naked turtle needs some rethinking, but you get the idea. I will report another praise: today my spirit of fear left me as I acted as the Cantor of the church and also performed a liturgical dance with my 8 year old, Zoe. THAT would have never happened a year ago.
Thus we grow, right? Each day, we take new steps of faith we didn't think possible. Each day, we grow in our interpretation of what God is calling us to do and who to be. It can be really scary. But He reminds us that we are never alone. He reminds us that His love goes before us to pave the way.
Welcome, Friend, to my new journey. I counted you faithful before and I will count you faithful again - especially in holding me accountable. My sole heart's desire is to glorify our Lord with my life - with my love for His people; the compassion with which He has burdened me; and to touch the lives of those who would never know to seek Him because they have been convinced by our society that God couldn't possibly love them.
I pray that I can continue to use the pains of my past to reach those who now stand where I once stood. I pray for eyes that can see and a heart that can hear the needs of the people who are seeking our Lord's face. Thank you, dear friends, for believing with me.