25 December 2013

What Was Done

Christmas Eve this year contained some new experiences.  My kids hadn't come yet and I spent an entire night doing what seemed like defending myself...just to name a couple...

During this season, I reflect on the amazing gift that no other god would give to its people.  Jesus Christ is God, yet He chose to be born just like you and me, so that He could live out life (in our shoes), to show us how to live, and be murdered by us (and conquering death for us).  There is no other that would do what He did.  You can read all about His humble beginnings in Luke 2...keep reading through, you'll get through the rest of His life on earth, leading up to His death on the cross.  Answers In Genesis has a wonderful article about Christmas.

You want to know how to love?  Look at Jesus.  He sat with sinners and lepers.  The very people who were not righteous and were constantly reminded of their hopelessness and depravity.  He came to build a relationship with them and to give them a hope (that's not just a hope, but a promise of righteousness).  He died for them. He died for me.

I am a hopeless sinner.  I'm constantly reminded of my sins (both those long past and those more recent). Obviously, I have a track record of wrongdoings, but God made a way for me to live in peace.

I have been attacked regarding my transgressions and even told that there has been no change in me because of how recent some of those transgressions happened.  I'm sure you can relate to what it feels like to already have a guilt you carry.  I'm also sure you know what it feels like to have someone constantly throwing in your face what a screw up you are.  Pair those two together and you have a dangerous concoction that can really tear you down.

I've apologized and have been working on restoring soured relationships to no avail.  I cannot rely on the approval of man.  Those who have wronged me have fallen away.  Those I have wronged have fallen away...except for One (the One that really matters when all is said and done).  I don't need others to forgive me.  I need to forgive others and I need the forgiveness of God Himself.

What was done, was done and I can't change any of it.  I can't keep punishing myself for it when Jesus has forgiven it.  I cannot forget, because it is a reminder (a testimony) to the hope He's given to someone as hopeless as me.

You and I have to focus on what was done.  The gift that God has given. He paid the price for us, so that we can be restored.  We will have constant reminders of who the world thinks you are, but we have to continually remind ourselves of who God says we are. I have a post about shame from earlier this year.

Please reflect on the hope that has been given during this Christmas.  We celebrate, not for the feast, not for the time with family, but because it's personal. A gift you can count on.  What was done once will carry you through every part of your life.

12 November 2013

Without Love, Where Would You Be?

I had a conversation recently with quite a few people about christianity. What makes it so wonderful? Why would I want my life run by a selfish God who gets all the credit for good things that happen? What if it's all a lie?
Well I'll tell you.
Before I do, I've got a question for you. Can you name one religion out of ALL the religions where the god would lay down his life for a bunch of ungrateful, sinful people?
It's ok I'll give you a few minutes to think about it...
Give up? Figured it out?
Yeah, there is only one. Christianity.  Call it what you want, fairytale, false hope, whatever. How many people do you know who will not only pardon a guilty convict on death row, but die in their place? I don't know anyone, and there are a lot of amazing people out there, but no one would do what God Himself did for me.
Every other religion calls you to do good things, or be punished. I know what you're thinking. "Well doesn't God want us to do good things, or He'll send us to hell?" He wants us to do good, but what you do has no bearing on the free gift of salvation. Remember, He died in my place, while I was still sinful and ungrateful. A gift is not something you earn. You just accept it.
What about the Ten Commandments? What about them? Have you been able to keep ALL of them perfectly? No worries, no one has. And there is no sin worse than another in God's eyes. If you break one, you're guilty of all of them (that includes whether you did it, talked about doing it, or even thought about doing it). No one can live up to such perfection.
If you think that's demanding, think about how Jesus sums up the law. He said to "...love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40 nkjv).
Bottom line is love, my friend. I certainly wouldn't take a punishment someone else deserves...and I call myself a loving, caring person, right?!  God can ask of us to love because He personally demonstrated how it's done.
And thinking about how selfish God must be because He gets all the glory. Well, nope not selfish at all. When you can create a universe out of nothing, live a 100% blameless life, eradicate the sins of others (without their approval or desire for it), and stick to all your promises, then you can get all the glory.
As for me, I would gladly give my life to Him because He deserves it and I do not. I try to do good, not because it's my guarantee into Heaven, but because I'm grateful to an all-powerful God who certainly didn't have to save me. I can only know how to love because He first loved me.
When you get that understanding (not just understanding, but belief), everything else will fall into place. Trust me on that. You won't know everything there is to know, but you'll be able to walk in confidence and grow beautifully.
If you have questions, want to know more, or want to debate, I don't mind really (actually, I don't like debating or arguing...but we can talk about our differences), feel free to contact me. My email address is ardentgailla@gmail.com. I would love to talk more about Jesus and His awesomeness.

03 November 2013

In Other News...

Well, you know that last post I did...about being still and not fighting so hard for a job...trying to find purpose in life and not just remain busy?!

Yes, this one...

Well, I have a job now. My temp agency found a long-term position with the Dept of General Services.  It's a county government facility and could become permanent.  God really does hear and answer prayer.  If you haven't read my previous reflection...I decided to stop fighting so hard for a solution to my woes.  I realized that I'm very controlling when it comes to my life and that perhaps I've been struggling so much because of that.

I have changed the way I pray.  Instead of just asking God what it is I want, I have to remind myself that it's not about what I want.  It's about what God wants for me.  I want to want the same things that He wants for me as He sees fit in my life.  He knows I want to take care of my family.  That I don't need an extravagant income to do that.  I'm pretty sure that being in debt is not what He wants for any of us.  I want to be able to pay off my debts and stay current in my bills, be able to afford my basic needs (food, shelter, clothing), the ability to save (and give to others in need), and of course a few luxuries (like video games and Facebook).  I try to ask that whatever God wants to happen happens and that I am obedient to His will...not mine.

I also applied for an administrative position with the school system.  It was suggested to me that I work for the schools so that I will have my weekends off (church on Sunday!) and the holidays will more likely coincide with my kids' holidays (including the summer off and snow days!).  However, an administrative job is not likely to have all those luxuries.  I may still have to work during the summer (but everything else is good). If I'm going to go for a job with the schools that will give me summers off, too, I'll have to look at teaching.  All I have to do to get my foot in the door is pass the Praxis exam and become a paraeducator.  I'm pretty sure if I were to take the Praxis right now, I could pass it, but I want to make sure that it's what I should be doing, not just what I want do.

Not only have I gotten a new job (yay), but I've become active again with my Thirty-One business.  I'm at risk of becoming inactive with Avon (no orders in the last couple of months), and I've closed my Melaleuca business (on the account that I can't afford it right now).  I'm beginning to think that perhaps I should just stick with the one (Thirty-One) in the face of all these inconveniences (if I may use that word in this situation).

Thirty-One required the largest amount to start up ($99), but requires the least amount of effort to maintain.  I only have to do $200 in business every three months (and that can easily be done with just 1 party).  Melaleuca required that I order at least 35 points of product every month (which was at least $60 before taxes and shipping).  While I enjoy the products, I cannot afford to spend nearly $100 every month like that.  I have to do what works for right now, right?  Avon required the least amount to get started (only $10), but I have to purchase catalogs every 2 weeks (while not expensive, this does add up and still doesn't guarantee sales).  I would have to constantly be "working", distributing the books everywhere I go and passing out my business cards.  Avon seems to require the greatest amount of effort with the least return for me.

I fully understand that in everything, each person has a different experience.  Many people get started in Avon and they skyrocket instantly.  Some people work tirelessly and get nowhere.  Can't say that I've worked tirelessly, but I haven't just sat around either.  I have no hard feelings for neither Melaleuca nor Avon.

Thirty-One was founded by a Christian woman (and named after the Bible passage, Proverbs 31, regarding the virtuous woman).  I was very impressed after just hearing that.  I always want to be a part of something(s) that answer to a higher calling.  Businesses and friendships that keep God front and center.  I'm not a money-hungry person either.  I don't get overly excited about incentives for iPads and trips to Hawaii, or a bonus check.  I guess I'm trying to say that maybe these other businesses are not working out for a reason.  Maybe they weren't meant for me?

I've spent a lot of money to keep them up and running...and here I am without them up and running!  I think for now, I'll keep it simple and only focus on one business at a time.  Thirty-One, for now.  I do love the bags, too.  I can't say that I love Avon or Melaleuca as much.  I like how Avon has something for every budget, but I rarely buy the products for myself because, well, I'm cheap.  Either I have something like it already, or I don't wear it, or I like to purchase it somewhere else (cheaper)...lol!  Melaleuca has great products that are safe and all-natural, but I can't always afford them.  While Thirty-One doesn't sell products that need to be regularly replenished, I think that I could do alright if I can do 1 or 2 parties every few months.  I also actually use the bags on a regular basis!  So book a party!  And tell your friends to do the same!  One party every 3 months is all I'm asking!

I can't wait to see how things will play out.  I don't always enjoy changes, but when you think about it, nothing is ever the same as it was when you started it.  Life is an adventure.  Each day, that adventure begins again.

22 October 2013

Busy-ness, Much Needed Thought, and Stuff

Well! I've been busy! Have a lot going on right now.  My latest project?!

That's right, cleaning house! My parents came up here recently from Texas to clean out their storage units. There was a lot of stuff from years past that just sat for some years now. Things that we forgot about. Things we couldn't wait to get back to. My parents' time here was very short...and very physical. They were hoping to get everything out, whether they load it up and drive it to Texas or chuck it. As you can see, I received a good bit of it, but not nearly enough to really relieve my parents.

Long story short, they will have to come back up here to sort out the last bit.

I've been contemplating on stuff. There is such an abundance of stuff. I moved into my house 3 years ago with almost nothing, and now I'm needing to regularly get rid of stuff so it doesn't overflow!  It's not even like I bought everything, either!  Most of what I have was given to me or I found it.  Some of it was bought from the thrift store or on sale somewhere.

I've also been thinking about how attached to our stuff we get, even if we haven't used it or seen it in years. As I went through the boxes with my parents, I was reminded of my youthful days (yes they seem so long ago!). It was also a reminder to me for our constant need to clean. If we don't keep up with our housework, our homes could get so gross to the point of being uninhabitable.

Funny how this correlates with our hearts and our spirits. We get so wound up in things that end up clouding our vision and making it hard to remember the goal. I can't tell you how many times I set my mind to do something, only to have something(s) get in the way and I lose my direction.  This could be why I never finished school?!  If we don't continue to clean house, we will become extremely busy and without true purpose.  Hence, the last 5 years of my life...

Something else happened to me recently to make me ponder things I should have thought about before.  I lost my job on Saturday.  Never have I been fired from a job until this year.  I got fired twice in the same year!  When I do things, I DO things!!!  Nevertheless, this has hit me pretty hard.  I'm feeling useless and like a big loser.  Maybe I am?  But, thank God, I'm able to think about things differently.  Maybe that could mean some growth?

Every time something major happens, it happens around the time my kids are coming to visit.  I've been praying for a good job that allows me to have the time I need with them, allows me to make it to church on Sundays, and will allow me to keep my bills current and pay off my debts.  Would be even better if I could just receive money and just do what I want to do!  I don't need a job, I have plenty of things to do...I just need money to get out of debt and buy food!

If I get a new job now, I wouldn't have enough time to save up for a sitter (or request time off) when my kids come for Thanksgiving.  If I remain income-less...well, I would rather not think about it!  This has been the pattern of things, since getting separated (and eventually divorced) from my husband.  I feel like I'm always 3 steps behind and when I feel like I'm making progress, doors slam in my face (now I'll never be a teen model!).

Also made me think about a devotional I read not too long ago.  The author talked about how her life was great and how close a relationship she had with God.  How she was able to hear Him clearly regarding the plans for her life.  She stayed in communication with Him and she was trusting in Him.  Then one day, her world came crashing down.  What happened?  She came to the point to realize that she wasn't obeying God's plan for her...she was obeying what she instilled as God's plan, but it was really her own.

I do that a lot, I've come to realize.  I feel like something is going to be such a great idea and benefit myself and my kiddos, only to later learn otherwise (when it implodes/explodes/crashes/insert other destructive word here). Maybe a job is not what I'm supposed to do right now.  Maybe I need to just wait a little longer for the right one to come along (stop fighting so hard for it). I don't know which is true or if there is another answer.

I force myself try (effortlessly?! not buying that?  ok...) to see the positive in things.  Like...well...I can actually work on a plan to finish school...I could go on mission trips...I have more time to help people...I could maybe focus on unconventional ways to sustain myself and not compromise my faith or family....  Whatever it is, I'm doing what I can to just be still, for once.  Not easy for me.  I am apparently a control freak.  Don't quote me on that!

I will stick with my direct-selling businesses for now and maybe go ahead and start that accessory business I've been thinking about for a long time.  Or even get back into selling cheesecakes.  As I've said before, I have plenty of things to do!  I just need to know what I should be doing!  Heaven help the poor man that marries me (if I get married again)!

09 September 2013

How shameful!

Guilt. Shame. Regret. Worthlessness.  Uselessness.  Unfit. Pathetic. Miserable. I could go on.  These are thoughts and feelings that we've all had.  It's hard to keep positive when we've made so many mistakes in this life.  Also, when we know there are more to come.

I subscribe to Encouragement for Today from Proverbs 31 Ministries.  It's a good jump off point for daily Bible reading, and a nice pic me up during the day.  A lot of the devotions have something to do with marriage (I'm no longer married...), but today's really hit me.  It was titled "Imprisoned by Shame."  I can't tell you the amount of self-worthlessness I've struggled with for most of my life.  I also can't tell you that I don't struggle with it now...I can't tell how ashamed of myself I have been or for how long.  Whether it be nervous to step out into public or feeling guilty for falling into behaviors I knew were wrong, my life has not been without this dejected feeling.  I would encourage you to read this devotion for yourself. You can do that here. Really made my day, I had to talk about it!

God reminds us that we can still hold our heads high.  It's not within ourselves that we can find this comfort...it's in Jesus.  He talks about it all over the Bible!

Deuteronomy 31:6 New King James Version (NKJV)
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Galatians 5:1 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

John 3:16 New King James Version (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

These are just some of the wonders of seeing yourself how God sees you.  I have to remind myself that no matter how I bad I think I am (and I'm sure I can be pretty bad...don't comment on that!), God still wants to be close to me and works with me to overcome all.  Man!  I can't tell you how fired up I get, thinking about that!

I have this blog because I'm in a place I don't really want to be (and I know I'm not alone).  I'm poor.  I live in public housing and have relied on the government for medical care and food for my family.  I'm doing everything that I can to budget, save, get out of debt, and get off of assistance (and not feel like a total loser).  I realize that I won't be here forever, but I also realize that we are all publicly assisted (whether we want to admit it or not).

This life was meant to be lived with others.  Giving and sharing, as well as needing and receiving.  I can be prideful and I don't like tell people when I need help.  I don't like to ask.  It gets so bad that I don't always go to God and ask for help.  I'll keep others in my heart, prayers, and on my mind, but I can handle myself, right?!

The answer is NO!  What a fooling thing, thinking I have the power to fix myself!  If you struggle with shame, please know that you're not alone.  Know that there are people around you that want to be let in to live your life with you.  If nothing else, I care about you and God cares.  You can always contact me if you don't have anyone to talk to you.  Better than me, you've got God who is not only walking beside you in your struggle, He's available to talk to (24-7), and He is the author of your life, after all. 

Matthew West's "Hello, My Name Is" is a song that really just tears me up.  It's a great reminder!
You might not be able to watch it here on my page, but click the link to see not only the story behind the song, but to see the video on YouTube. ^_^

21 August 2013

Baby Steps

Good evening!  There has been a lot going on.  I've been so busy trying to figure things out, I forgot to blog along the way!

Well, it's only been a couple of weeks since my last post.  ;)

I was at a crossroads!  Do I take the Hertz job?  Do I keep rolling with Sykes?  I decided to stick with Sykes.  I weighed the pros and cons of both and decided that right now, I'm better off with the at-home job.  I started my training last week and I'm actually pretty excited.

Yesterday, though....I got an email from the United States Postal Service for a job interview.  I'm not knocking how some places do their interviewing, but why not check with the person before you make a decision for them?  I know I was unemployed when I applied, but you cannot assume that any time you pick is a good time for someone.  I called them and let them know that I couldn't commit to that interview date and time and that anytime on a Monday would work best for me.  I have yet to hear from them....

Maybe it is a sign?  I am super stoked about working from home.  I also love customer service.  I like the range of hours I'll be working (day shift!).  I'm grateful for the advancement opportunities.  My only concern is for my potential schedule...missing church on Sundays.  I will trade any day of the week.  We were told not to worry too much about the schedule until we get there...so baby steps.

Which reminds me...I tend to put the cart before the horse.  To live 5 years ahead of now.  I feel that things should be light years ahead, but I'm moving at a slow pace.  Baby steps.

I want my entire house reorganized and redecorated right now.  But I can only do one room at a time.  Complete one project at a time.  Baby steps.

Have you felt like you are not progressing?  I've been feeling so much like that lately.  I have to remind myself that it takes many years for a Redwood to change from a short sapling to a tree giant.  You didn't get to be who you are now overnight, did you?  If you did, I need you to tell me your secret...

08 August 2013

It's been over a year since my last post.  That post was about an upcoming job interview...well I didn't want that job.  It was for a financial firm that was all about the pyramid scheme.  So I refused. 

I was offered a position as General Manager at my hotel (after 4 years of working there).  That was a wonderful opportunity that I wasn't sure I was ready for.  After 11 months, they were sure that I wasn't a good fit.  It was a bittersweet moment.  The moment I realized that I was jobless was the same moment I realized I would not have to worry about anxiety attacks.  Yeah, I USED to get them...

March 2013: I was on my butt looking for a new job.  April 2013: I started with a temp agency.  July 2013: I ended with the temp agency.  My project ended.  I was sad.  But here I am window-shopping at the job market.  That job looks nice...

I have two options placed before me:
* Hertz Branch Manager Training Program
* Sykes Home Customer Service Specialist (at home job)

I'm working out the pros and cons of each and trying to decide what would be best in the long run.  I could use a lot little bit of help.  Ultimately, I want a job (or residual income ;)) that would allow for church attendance, allow for reasonable family time, help me to get out of debt, and make sure I won't need to rely on government assistance.

For further detalles (that's "details" in Spanish), contact me directly.  You may be able to help me!


We are nearing the end of the summer.  I will miss it so.  I will especially miss my kiddos.  We had a great time.  We went swimming, the girls went to Police Adventure Camp, we watched tons of movies, played tons of video games, told lots of jokes, and did more than our fair share of running around barefoot.  My favorite part of it all was just being with them.  Take a look at our 2013 Summer photo album.

I have to go...I'm still a very busy lady!  But you will hear from me again soon!  Not like a year from now, sooner than that!