"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Being in a funk and waiting, waiting, WAITING!

I am going to be honest with you, I'm in a funk.

I have been in a funk for quite some time now. I don't tell people much because they try to cheer me out of it, or Scripture me out of it, or give me another round of platitudes. 

I don't need that. 

I know what the Bible says. I know all the cheer-up quotes and fuzzy kitten happys that are to be found. But that doesn't mean I will be any the better for hearing them. AGAIN.

Sometimes you just have to sit where you are and wait. You don't like it. It is frustrating. Confusing. Painful. INFURIATING. But you still have to sit where you are and wait and that can bring on a funky funk. The kind of funks I am talking about aren't depression or pity-parties. They are more a high-level of frustration and disappointment over waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more!

And having people constantly telling you that things will turn around, to just take that first step forward and see what happens, that something new is just around the corner, or that God has something for me only serve to point out that all of those great and exciting things are not here yet. Well-intentioned and I am thankful for you for trying don't get me wrong! But none of that helps

Funks come because you want to move forward and can't, not because you don't want to. God is really good at making sure you don't move if He doesn't want you too. Oh sure, you can, but when you do you are outside of God's will and that is waaaay worse than a funk!

So I don't tell people I am in a funk. 

But some people just can't miss it. Like my hubby. He has to live with my funkiness because unfortunately we really meant the "for worse" part of the vows too. Not that I have been hideous to live with, I don't think, but because I am just not me. The great thing about my particular prince charming is that he gets the roller coaster aspect that I bring to our marriage. He understands that there are highs and lows in walking with God, and with me as well, and that there will be times that I am going to be funky, and not the good kind that makes him laugh. We know that we are the perfect example of opposites attracting and that he is just not going to get me sometimes. And you know what he does when those times come? 

Nothing.

I love him for that.

He doesn't try to spur me on, or hurry me up or change me during the funk times. He just lets me be where I am and picks up any slack that I might be leaving. He doesn't complain and he doesn't judge. He just silently supports me where ever I happen to be. He encourages me to stick to the things I need to be doing, and he demonstrates dependability and godliness to me. He pushes when I need it but doesn't try to force me where  I am not ready or supposed to be.

Being in a funk isn't fun. But seeing once again why God brought me and my man together is a blessing. He knew that my crazy, emotional, roller-coaster personality would balance out his quiet, routine, laid-back way of doing life. And of course it works the other way around. 

So, if you are in a funk, I won't try and happy you out of it. But I think I might ask you to look around at who is walking through it with you. That way you can see how good God is and how even though He isn't moving you forward right now, he is still moving. Always has been. Always will. 

And that makes the funk a little easier to sit though.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pastime activities and time passing

Just stopping in for a minute to let you know that I am still around! Things always get busy for our family in the fall. Little Man, who is the same height I am now, is just about to wrap up his football season. More losses than wins this year but as a team they have played well. We have just been playing some giants! Several times my 5 foot 8 inch tall boy has gone up against kids that were so big he bounced off them when he hit them, but he kept at it! Two more games, two days of rest, then right into practice for basketball season. He is holding his own in school right now and so we are well begun into our year of seventh grade adventures. We have his IEP meeting this week so any prayers for wisdom and guidance will be gratefully and gladly accepted!

Little bit is running me crazy! She is loving school, and is starting to show some interest in specific things that we can encourage. I do believe our little star will be getting a kareoke machine for Christmas, and possibly a keyboard. I have read several articles that five is a great age to begin keyboard lessons. She is going to be able to learn the music alphabet, what each note looks like and does, and how to position her fingers. By the time she is seven, if she would like to transition or add another instrument, then she will already have basic music concepts covered. I am thinking she will really like this! She has also developed a love of puzzles and we are doing our best to keep her stocked with challenging ones!

I have discovered that I have no hobbies to update you on. Unless it's walking. I don't really consider that a hobby though. I walk to keep my attitude in check and to keep my cardiovascular and muscle systems fit. But it isn't really something that I would call a hobby. I am up to about 5 miles a day, 2-3 days a week. I do feel better for it though.

 I believe this is what they call a season, this time of others focus. But I really think I need to find something that is all my own. There are lots of things I want to try, but the biggest of them is learning archery. We had an outdoor sports expo outreach at our church over the summer and I really enjoyed shooting! Now, I said ARCHERY, not HUNTING. Big difference. I want to shoot at paper targets taped to straw bales. NOT Bambi. Maybe this can be a goal for 2013. 

I am currently blogging for books. you may have noticed in my last few posts. I love reading and with our reduced budget for books, I have found this a cost-effective way to feed my addiction, while providing a great service to some really good writers!

OK, time for me to be off and doing. I am still busy in kids ministry and I need to go decorate our classrooms for October curriculum. I will be back to write as soon as I can. Until then, I will leave you with a passage that is really warming my heart these days:


But now, this is what the Lord says—  he who created you, O Jacob,    he who formed you, O Israel:“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;    I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters,    I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers,    they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire,    you will not be burned;    the flames will not set you ablaze.For I am the Lord, your God,    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;I give Egypt for your ransom,    Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight,    and because I love you,I will give men in exchange for you,    and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

Isaiah 43:1-5


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Walking around with rocks in my shoes

When I was out for a walk the other day I got a little tiny stone in my shoe. One that was itty bitty tiny. I was about three and half miles into my walk and was at a nice brisk pace so I didn't want to stop and ruin my rhythm by taking off my shoe and shaking it out.
 
So I kept going.
 
I would shake my foot but that little tiny stone wouldn't move. I stopped long enough to bang my toe on the road a few times to move the itty bitty annoyance, but it still didn't move. I kept walking and with each block, that stone got bigger. By the time I turned the corner at the end of the road it felt like I had a boulder in my shoe. My foot was starting to hurt and all I could focus on was that stone in my shoe. I finally stopped and took my shoe off, but not before I had a pretty tender spot on the ball of my foot. It was sore all that evening and into the next day.
 
Sitting here at the end of today, I realize that sometimes things that happen in our life are like that little tiny stone.
 
I had something happen this morning that, while not big in the grand scheme of life, was enough to annoy me. But instead of sitting down right then and really talking it over with God, maybe look up a few verses, or even call to mind some of the ones I have stored in my heart, I let that situation sit there for awhile.
 
Then I tried to move it to the side, but it didn't go anywhere.
 
Then I took a couple bangs at it in my own power. Yeah, you can imagine how well that worked out.
 
I tried to ignore it for awhile but by this afternoon my attitude was sore, worn down and painful.
 
How often do we let something small have a really big influence on us, simply because we aren't willing to stop and deal with it as soon as we notice it? If you are like me, probably too often to want to admit.
 
If I had only thought to stop and ask for a Word, I probably would have found the verses below hours ago. They talk about salvation, freedom, trust, hope and obedience. All things I could have used a reminder of this morning. And if I had found these words, I wouldn't have ended the day with a sore and battered attitude.

I could have spent the day trusting God instead of focusing on that one little thing that was irritating me.
 
May I offer these verses to tuck inside your heart for the next time you have a little stone that needs to be removed?

May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
your salvation, according to your promise;  
then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.

 I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts. 
I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame, 
for I delight in your commands
because I love them. 
I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees.

Psalm 119:41-48

Monday, August 20, 2012

So my perception was a little off

Once I decided to be a stay at home mom I thought that this would be my days:

  • Get up and do a long devotion and study time.
  • Get fully dressed, including hair and make up
  • Gently wake my precious children with smiles and happiness
  • Make a nutritious home-cooked breakfast
  • Write a witty blog post that will encourage and lead others
  • fill the day with fun, easy-going family activities, learning opportunities and restfulness
  • Welcome home my White Knight with his favorite dinners and a sparkling clean home
  • End the day with a quiet devotion and the sense that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and the satisfaction of being a stay at home mom.
During the school year I would also patiently help my son with his homework, bake cookies for my daughter's class and be the perfect sports and room mom.

You know, The Proverbs 31 woman for the year 2012.

Bahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

I have discovered that to be THAT woman I need to be a different woman! One that God has not either a: made me to be or b: started working in me to be. I have spent the last year being more disappointed in myself and my abilities than anything else.

Why in the world did I think I could be the P31 mom to perfection?

This summer I was more the crazy, unfocused, unorganized, scattered and stressed mom. But as the summer went along, and I got more focused about talking to and with God, and getting intentional about studying to better myself through God's Word I learned some things.  See if any of these sound familiar, or maybe something will let you take a deep breath and let some things go.

You can't be what God hasn't made you to be, but you can try to be a better you every day.

More often than not, I am going to screw up at some point each day. I will forget something, lose my temper, forget my priorities etc. God is really awesome about getting me back on track and helping me make amends where I need to, so there is no need to carry around the less-than-perfect mommy guilt. His mercies are new every morning.  Let. It. Go.

A clean house isn't an indication of my abilities as a mother. My children are. I learned that if my kids have clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat off of, then the rest can wait.

When my daughter tells me I am the best mom in the world, instead of feeling sorry for her that she has no better frame of reference, I can now honestly be thankful that I filled her love tank and I can also know that maybe, just maybe, today I earned an "atta girl" from my Heavenly Father as well.

Four short devotions, done with complete attention for 5-10 minutes throughout the day will help me stay focused on what is truly important as well as, if not better than, one long session in the morning. If I only get three pages of a study done, but I really think about those three pages for the rest of the day, I am growing and learning. It's not how much, but how deep.

Praying sounds more like day-long off and on conversations, muttering and exclamations these days, but God really really likes to hear from me whenever, wherever.

I will have so much time to blog when my kids are grown and gone. I miss being here more regularly and I hope to get back to my two a week postings soon, but watching my son play football, planting flowers with my daughter, and doing home repair and improvement projects with my White Knight, well those need to be done while I still have the opportunity to do them. Time flies away unnoticed all too often. I am trying to be here (in the moment with my family) which means sometimes I can't be here (blogging).

So what I thought being a stay at home mom would be like isn't anywhere close to what actually is. For me anyway. But I am getting more and more OK with that every day.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Furious

I've recently fallen in love with a song that refers to God's love as furious. Dictionary.com defines furious as follows:

adjective

1.
full of fury, violent passion, or rage; extremely angry; enraged
2.
intensely violent, as wind or storms.
3.
of unrestrained energy, speed, etc.
 
 
Now, I would never define God's love for me as "extremely angry; enraged", but unrestrained energy, speed, etc... yeah, I like that. A lot. I know that God has always been right where I need him, right when I need him, no matter when or where. And the fact that that love can't be restrained? Awesome.
 
 
I also can get the intensely violent, as wind or storms. Sometimes God's love has to sweep in and blow out some of the mess, the clutter of our hearts before we can truly feel him. Sometimes his love is the storm, even though it is painful, the storm shows us his heart for us.
 
 
And my prayer is that my love for God would grow to become furious as well. A love of unrestrained energy and speed. That I would run to him as fast as I can with everything that is in me.
 
 
Furious by Jeremy Riddle
 
 
"Your love is deep, Your love is wide, and it covers us....
 
 
     Your love is fierce, Your love is strong, it is furious....
 
 
          Your love is sweet, Your love is wild, and it is waking hearts to life..."

Monday, July 9, 2012

Grieving, quenching and benching

I am in a season of quiet. I don't like it. I am not an "in the quiet" kind of person. I like to be doing, leading, teaching, growing and so on. Recently talking with a friend we decided that when it comes to ministry, to use a football term, I like to be the coach; scoping out the needs on the field, making sure people are where they need to be and have what they need and developing the skills they need to go out there and win! I never have wanted to be the star quarterback, the running back that goes for a 60 yard touchdown or the one that kicks the game winning field goal. I want to be on the sidelines helping others do their best to win the game. 

That's me. Perfectly described. Its an active role in ministry and it is very very fulfilling. It might also explain why I loved working as an administrative assistant. Lots of work to make sure that others job is easier and that they have everything they need to succeed. 

For the last year, "coaching" jobs have been very few and very far between. I have struggled to stay out of the feelings that I am prone to. Feeling useless, disconnected, and overlooked. I won't lie, it is a struggle to remind myself that these things aren't true. You can put Scripture in front of me all day long, and while I know it in my head, my heart constantly tries to argue it away. 

But I continue to ask God to help me believe what I know instead of what I feel.

This season of quiet has lasted a long time. I have been trying to figure it out, find what I am doing wrong. Mostly I ask myself, "Am I in the wrong place?" And God has been very silent.

Yesterday I feel like I finally got my answer. 

Our pastor has an amazing ability to share God's message. He can deliver his message and you know, you just KNOW that it wasn't his message at all. God had spoken and that it was meant just for you. Yesterday, about 2/3 of the way through, I felt God tapping me on the shoulder and telling me to pay attention, that this was just for me.

Pastor's whole message was on quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit. It was a very good message and I was taking a lot of notes. Then he started talking about ways we quench the Spirit. Ways that we keep the Spirit from working in and through us. Some of them hit really close to home. I had never considered myself the type of person that would actually grieve the Spirit. Yes, I can be disobedient to God, or I can ignore callings to come and talk with Him, but to actually grieve God? I hadn't really put myself in that category. 

But I heard about quenching the Spirit by not taking my life, cares, concerns and worries to Him first.Big and little. Life-changing and hum-drum. I generally try to handle the day -to -day stuff myself. It never crosses my mind to talk to God about the little things. He is a big God so I guess I tend to save Him for my big things. Then I heard how when I ignore the promptings of the Spirit to go a different way or make a different choice, I quench the Spirit. Refusing to step out in faith quenches the Spirit.  Not using our gifts in the way God is asking us to quenches the Spirit. Allowing feelings that don't glorify God to impact my relationship with other believers quenches the Spirit. 

And all this quenching grieves God because it becomes a breach in our relationship. The entire purpose of Jesus' life and death and resurrection was to heal the breach between us and God, and now I am causing a breach through my unwillingness or insensitivity or down-right disobedience to the Spirit's leading. That does grieve God. Yes ma'am it does. In a big big way. It's like telling Jesus thanks but no thanks for all that you did. I will just go my own way.

This was such a light-bulb moment for me. I have been so intent on not getting to serve and not using my gifts in the way I wanted, being unable to do the things in my home life that I wanted, focusing on things that were my desire, that I had completely shut the Spirit down. I was only listening to me. And God can't use a me-focused girl. 

What did I conclude? Wait for it cause this is deep stuff.... I am in a spiritual time-out. Just like a toddler, I have been throwing a fit, not listening and insisting on my own way, so God has essentially put me in the corner until I can be quiet and listen to Him. He can't use me in the way he intends with all my attention focused on, well, me. Told you it was deep. 

God has me where I am for this time and season for a reason. Is it where I want to be? Kinda, but with some qualifiers. I never have liked the quiet. I like the doing and going.  God has some stuff to teach me, but have I been making a point to learn those things? Nope.  

So God put this "coach" on the bench until she can be quiet and learn the new plays He has for her.Yes, I know coaches don't actually get "benched" but work with me here. How long will it last? I don't know. I just know that God has the habit of keeping me where I am until I can truly show contentment in my heart. 

Maybe God will call me off the bench tomorrow, or maybe three months from now, but at least I know something in my life, in my relationship with God, that hasn't been working. And I we can work on that.





Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Where does God go?

I heard some very sad news about an old friend yesterday. Blinded by the worldliness of things desired, and listening to the unholy whispers making things seem right and all OK, making wrong choices. Stepping outside God's will and way. Walking away. And I asked myself:

Where does God go when we walk away from him?

I hear things like "He's right where you left him.", and "He's waiting for you." but these aren't really true are they?

He doesn't leave us alone. He has promised that in his Word. So if he isn't "somewhere" well then, he must be "here". We are choosing not to see, not to look.

And then I got to thinking, how many times do I step outside God's will, choose my own way, and never think a thing about it? 

And he is right there next to me.

We look at others who make big mistakes and shake our head, murmur a prayer, and determine to "be there" for them when they return to God's way. 

But looking in through the mirror of God's eyes at my everyday life, I see a million tiny steps that take me in the wrong direction. 

And God is right there for them all.

When I give up his peace to yell at my children.

When I give up his guiding to spend that extra money on something that is truly a "want".

When I don't trust Him to be there, so take control; again.

When I give up His purpose for my own willful way.

And then I asked myself:

What must God look like as he watches me defy him? Or when I simply choose not to let him be God?  Is his face covered in sadness? Are his eyes a little brighter with disappointment? Does his heart hurt at my disregard of his love and sacrifice?

As I consider these things, will I allow it to change me? Truly, deeply, at the very core of who I am?

Some people's disobedience is much easier to see than others, but remembering that any wrong choice is sin might help us to keep a holier perspective. 

And knowing that God isn't "somewhere" but right here, as close as our breath, might remind us to try a little harder, live a little better. 

Because God never goes anywhere, and knowing he is watching our wrong choices and willful disobedience has to be enough to change our heart and mind. 

Forgiveness, guidance and strength, are right here waiting. God hasn't gone anywhere.

“For I know the plans I have for you, ”declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:11-13


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Teaching little birds to fly

When did I become the authority on everything?

As I was on a walk today, I was praying for my son, and I heard a little voice telling me to be quiet sometimes. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized, I tend, completely on accident, to present myself as the ultimate authority on many things to my son. 

I give him laundry lists of dos, don'ts, shoulds, shouldn'ts, try this, don't try that, be aware of this and don't even think about considering this!

As he enters his teen years, I have been asking myself more, "What decisions, good and bad, are right around the corner for him"? Have I been preparing him to discern for himself how to make the wise choice, or have I crippled him into believing that he needs someone to point out the answer?

Constantly I hear "I know" when I tell him something. I have been annoyed by it, thinking, "No, you don't know, that is why I am telling you." But now I wonder, does he know and I am just not allowing him to express things in his own way? Have I been frustrating him by assuming since he doesn't respond the same way I do that he is unprepared for his stage in life? Am I steamrolling his self-confidence by trying to mother too much?

I had an image of a  Momma bird, wing tucked tight to her body, holding her baby chick tight against herself under the protection of her feathers.The only problem is, if we are that Momma bird, we generally don't pay attention to what happens next. We are happy and content with providing complete shelter for our baby. We don't want to take the next step. But here is what has to happen:

For that Momma bird, as her baby bird grows, she loosens her hold. She watches but doesn't control as he stretches his wings, safe inside the nest. She observes and trains but doesn't stop him as he flaps around, testing his strength. She provides support and nourishes him until that one day. The day that definitely is his day. The day he needs to fly. 

Does she grab him close? Does she tuck him under that wing? 

No. 

She watches, and if he takes too long, she nudges, shoos and pushes until he takes off and flies on his own. 

I am in the flapping around, testing his strength phase. If I don't allow him to do things on his own, he won't ever be strong enough when it is his time to fly. 

We have all seen baby birds on the ground. The are flapping around, trying to fly, and there isn't a Momma bird around. 

Or is there?

When we see that baby bird, we wonder why the Momma isn't there helping them, getting them going, keeping the world away until they are ready to try again. (Usually they are close by. We don't see them, but they are almost always there.)

I think that Momma bird knows something we need to remember. For our children to be strong enough to fly solo, they need to be able fall. And when they fall, they have to figure out how to find the strength to get back up and try again. On their own. To try harder, or try something else. Sometimes we need to let them see some of the dangers in our world, because if they try to jump out of the nest and fly without all the training, the practice and the falls, without being aware that threats exist, then they will be totally unprepared to make it against the bigger threats to come.

As a parent, I have to nudge my son toward the real world. If I continue to solve every problem, shield him from every struggle, pain, and consequence, he will be completely unprepared to fly. 

I am not saying we need to throw them over the side with a good luck and good bye, but taking a long, hard look at the concept of over-protecting might be in order. 

I know, I KNOW! We don't want our babies to hurt, to struggle, to have to deal with consequences. It hurts our Momma hearts. But to grow strong, healthy, able adults, we need to allow some of the real world in, a little at a time, under our supervision, while we can still help, guide and train.

As tomorrow is Mother's Day, I am going to do my best to start letting my little bird (who is NOT so little) show me what he can do. I am going to let him stretch his wings a little more often, and I am going to let him see over the edge of that nest. Only five short years until he will be considered an "adult" by the world standards, and definitely by his. That's not much time to train him into all he will need to know to fly. 

Let the nudging begin!





Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Bible is my go-to book, but not really

"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." Joshua 1:8

my son is entering the teenage years. Sometimes the things he does leave me flummoxed (verb: to bewilder, confound, confuse). It has really been becoming clear to me that I have no idea how to deal with a teenage boy. What to do?

As a stay at home mom I really want to make what I do in the home meaningful, consistent and welcoming. With my ADD sanguine personality, I can't even tell you how almost impossible this is for me. How do I keep from getting overwhelmed?

I love food. The taste, the processes of cooking and baking, the smells, the textures. All of it. And it shows in my dress size and fitness level. Why can't I control my eating and lose weight?

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Please someone say yes! 

To help me with these issues, I got books. I purchased "Got Teens?" by Jill Savage and Pam Farrell, "The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized" by Karen Ehman, "The House That Cleans Itself" by Mindy Starns Clark, "Reshaping It All" by Candace Cameron Bure, and "Made to Crave" by Lysa TerKeurst.

And I read blogs. Lots and lots of blogs!

Now, let me first tell you that I loved each and every one of these books. If I didn't, I wouldn't have listed them, much less linked them. They are packed full of encouragement, plans, lists, to-dos, to-dont's, booty-kicking and Scriptures. They are good books.

But they are not the Good Book.

As a Jesus-lovin' girl, I know and I mean know that the Bible is truth. It is strength, it is direction, it is encouragement. 

And sadly, it is usually the last self-help book I grab when I have something I need to work through. 

All the instruction I will ever need is right there. Every topic, every struggle covered and conquered right there in the pages of a love letter just for me. 

And you. 

I think I tend to turn to books written by people because i want to re-affirm to myself that i am not the only one who is or has gone through this. And if they did it, then I want their tips and tricks to get me through too. And this is good. 

But it shouldn't be our first step. This should be around step four in our journey.

If you are like me, then the first two are ones that generally get skipped.

Step One: Pray about it. Go to God first before anyone else. Speak it all out to him. The good, the bad, the things you feel are impossible. Tell Him everything, then sit still and listen. sometimes you will have to be still for a long time. Longer than you want. Keep waiting.

Step Two: Open your Bible. Make it your go-to book for everything. The best advice will always be right from the Word of God. 

Struggling with eating? Try doing a word study of food; Self-control. Providing. Sufficiency. Satisfied. 

Lost trying to be a good, godly parent? Try looking up the words children, lead, discipline, teach, guide, LOVE. 

Sometimes the Scripture will apply to your situation, sometimes it won't. But you will be reading from the true source of knowledge. You will be placing a lot of Scripture in your mind and in your heart without a middle-man sharing their impressions and learnings. It will be you and God, walking together. 

Step Three: Apply what you learned. This is the hard part. Not only in being willing to do what you have learned, but in figuring out how to practically apply it. Sometimes after I have learned something from Scripture, I feel like I completely understand and am ready to follow through on the why, but the how seems cloudy. This is the time to go for help. If you can't see ways to make the changes you learned, then ask a friend, find a group, buy some books. 

Step Four: Get Help. Godly counsel from friends, family and outside sources is  the best way to change your path. Once you know what you need to do, getting help doing it is not only wise, it can make it fun! 

Parenting a teen has days, weeks, even seasons when it seems like fun has died, but it hasn't! Get together with a friend who is where you are now, and a friend who has  already blazed a path and can stand up the road cheering you on. 

Get accountability for being a homemaker by getting together with another homemaker. Have your own accountability group. Do a Bible study together that is on a home-centered topic or read a book and have a micro book club to encourage each other. 

Develop a group to help you lose weight. My friend has a group that named themselves the Dirty Skirt Girls. They are Jesus-loving health freaks. They work out together, do walks and runs together, train together, cook together, and carry each other through major illnesses and struggles, all the time keeping each other on a healthy path. If I didn't live six hours away I would totally be in her group! 

There are thousands of good books written by Christians that are bible-based and will truly help and guide you through just about any and every struggle that you will face in your life. 

But don't just settle for good. 

Go to God first. Get His best for you before anything else. Step by step, in order, one at a time. And you will prosper and be successful in all you do.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why I decided to give up

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."                              1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV
"I am clearly alone in a sea of insanity. No one is coming to help me, I will never get my brain to slow down. The thoughts are too numerous and too fast. And so unorganized. Like me. And what I can get done doesn't seem to ever be enough. Or just plain good enough. I am so inadequate for and at this."

"What in the world was God thinking?"

These are all thoughts that were running through my brain after six days of spring break. I was counting down the hours until school started up again and in the back of my mind, beginning a dread and terror of what will happen in a few short weeks when they are out for summer break. 10 weeks. Are you kidding me!? I couldn't even handle six days! Oh, Lord. Help me.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Lately I have been struggling with my abilities as a stay at home mom. I struggle with discipline. I struggle with feeling like a good spiritual leader and role model. I struggle with my ability to help my children academically. I struggle with my house keeping and organizational skills. I struggle with .... well you get where I am going with this.

I am very sure that I am being obedient to God by leaving my job and committing to staying home. I couldn't have had more confirmation unless the Lord Himself came down, took my hand, and wrote my resignation for me then lead me home with a fanfare of angelic choirs.

 I am quite sure I am where I am supposed to be.

But.

I have been thinking it would be better if I did go back to work. I have a list as long as my arm (folded over, alphabetized and dot-pointed) of all the ways I am not good at this. I think of how I am not capable. I read all these wonderful blogs and websites of women that seem to have no struggle or question about what they are doing, or more importantly, their ability to do it. And I feel less than. And so alone. I see put-together moms out and about with their well dressed and clean and nicely mannered children. And I want to run home and hide. If I could have figured out how to give up, I am sure I would have.

But God.

One day a stay at home mom friend made a comment about how her family has been struggling with some of the same things we (I) are. What? Really??!

Then I read an amazing blog from Proverbs 31 writer Tracie Miles. (Linked below)

Then there was a blog from Orange Parents that made me cry. (Linked below)

Then my email updates sent me an article from Mom Life that opened my eyes. (Linked below) #s 4, 10, 14, 15, & 28 really spoke to me.

Then my daily devotion was about seeing clearly. (Linked below)

Then the focus verse for today popped up in my mind. You might think it out of no-where but really, who are we kidding?

Sometimes God tests us. He gets quiet and waits to see what choices we make. What direction we will go. Who we will turn to to get us through. If we have enough trust in him, and faith, to make it through.

Other times God can see we want a way out. We are drowning and can't seem to figure out which way to reach. We have lost our perspective and our faith is running thin. Can I just say that He will never never NEVER leave us in that place?

As you can see above, God didn't leave me in a place of self-doubt, fear, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed about my ability to be a good mother. Quickly, clearly, and leaving no room for doubt that He was talking to me, aware of me and helping me, God gave me back my direction and reminded me of some truths I have lost sight of.

  • No matter how many times I commit my life to him, I am going to lose perspective.
  • No matter how many ways I try to be perfect, I will never reach perfection.
  • No matter how many times I stop looking to Him first, he is always ready to get me back on track.
  • God chose me to be the mother of these kids. He loves them more than I do. He won't leave me alone to raise them.
  • God would never say a single one of those hurtful things that were running through my thoughts. Never.
  • I am a chosen child of God, holy and dearly loved.
 I tend toward perfectionism in many ways. By this I mean that I expect things of myself that are unrealistic and when I can't obtain them, I consider myself a failure. I get really hard on myself and God can't get a word in edge-wise with all my negative self-talk. Sometimes He has to be really obvious to get me back on track.

Been there? Are there now?

If any of this strikes a familiar note with you, give up! 
  • Give up trying to be perfect.
  • Give up trying to do it all alone.
  • Give up thinking that everyone else is doing so much better than you (as I am now reminding myself: NO ONE is perfect so quit trying to project it onto people! They mess up just like me!).
  • Give up listening to, and believing, the lie that we as mothers will single-handedly screw up our kids.
  • Give up believing that we are supposed to be a perfect mom if we stay home full time and also believing that being a Christian should in some way make us perfect in this calling.
  • And last but definitely not least...give up control!
 A great song is Kari Jobe's "My Beloved". If you have time, google it and listen or watch it. Let God sing over you. You will see you are not alone. You can do this. And He loves you.

Links:  
 


28 ways to connect with God ( let me know which ones you really connected with!)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

City on a hill


Sometimes the most profound thing you will hear is also the simplest.

I am posting a video by Kari Jobe. It is a song called We Are. The lyrics are based on some of my very favorite verses.

I am posting this on Good Friday because this song spoke of Jesus' love in just the right way to me, and is calling me on to share it. I hope that it might do the same to you.

This song simply says:

We are the light of the world

We are the city on a hill
We are the light of the world
We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine
Let the light shine, let the light shine
We are called to the spread the news
Tell the world the simple truth
Jesus came to save, there's freedom in His Name
So let His love break through
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others" Matthew 5:13-16
"So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me." Philippians 2:15-18

Monday, March 19, 2012

Finding balance

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Finding balance isn't easy for me. I started the year with a simplified schedule. I cut out several things that I like doing so that I would be able to do other things with more focus and so that I would have more margin. 

It is only the middle of March and I am once again heading toward over-commitment. 

Why is this such a problem for me? I think I have figured it out. Lack of self-control. 

We generally think of self-control when it comes to eating, money, shopping or our temper, but saying no takes a lot more self control that you might think.

I don't get bogged down in things that I hate to do. OK, putting away laundry and hand-washing floors are not things that I love, but I don't hate them. I get overwhelmed by things that are good. That are fun. That I like to do! Serving in one too many ministries at church. Offering help to one more friend. Saying yes to that one temporary job outside the home. Scheduling too many extracurricular activities for our family. One too many lunches with my friends.

I have been known to spend the majority of my time on something trying to "get it in order", but I then am forced to spend extra time somewhere else to make up for it. For example: I decided I needed to put my need to exercise on the front burner because I wanted to get healthy (and lets face it, slimmer and sexier!). I spent a couple weeks putting in tons of extra time trying to walk my way thin and neglected my housework. I then realized that I had a disgusting house and had to spend extra time getting it back in order. My exercise went out the window. Another example: I teach our church's kindergarten thru 5th grade class during one of our main services and I love it. But I also am part of the worship team which feeds my spirit. Last year during the week before Easter I was at the church every afternoon/evening working on something. No exercise or housework or family time that week. by Sunday, you know, EASTER Sunday (My absolute favorite day of the year by the way!) I was so sick I couldn't go to church. I missed my favorite church day, my favorite day of the year because I was so overworked and run down that I became sick. 

Good things don't necessarily make them the right things to be doing. I am once again figuring out how to thin down our family's to-do's so that we can spend more time together. I don't want our summer to be a series of timetables, chore charts and busy busy busy. Not only does this create a home environment that is hurried and chaotic, but it also creates hurried and chaotic emotions and thoughts. 

By using the above verse from Galatians, I have a great scale to weigh our schedule on. Here are a few ways to figure out if what you are comptemplating adding to your schedule should really be there:

Love: Ask yourself if this is something that will allow you and or your family to show love to each other or those outside your family. If it is just something fun to do and will take up valuable time, it might be something you need to pass on... for now.

Joy: Will I or my family be able to experience and share true joy through this activity or commitment?

Peace: Will I be able to keep the peace of our home if I add this? Our home is to be a place of rest and refuge for every person that lives there. If I am adding chaos or clutter that I can't keep up with, it isn't worth it.

Patience: I know I have this in limited supply so I need to ask myself - is my schedule set in such a way as to help me tend my patience, or will it send me off on an emotional explosion by the end of the day, week or month?

Kindness: Will this activity allow either me or my family to show kindness to others? 

Goodness: Will I be honoring God intentionally with this activity?

Faithfulness: Will adding something else to my schedule keep me from being faithful to God in honoring my quiet time, Bible study and prayer?

Gentleness: Will I and/or my family be able to do this activity with gentleness or will we fill rushed and have the possibility of hurting ourselves or others through thoughts, words or deeds?

Self-control: After looking at the situation thoroughly, make a decision based on wisdom and discernment. Do I say yes, no or later? Then do it and stick to my decision.

It's a long, hard list to consider. We tend to seek and desire the best, the newest, the brightest, the most. Because of this mentality, we have taken good things and placed them in a position of power in our lives. 

~ We work longer to acquire things and are tired and worn out all the time because of it.

~ Once we get those things we give them too much of our time and attention.

~ We serve more to prove our heart, even though it just doesn't work that way with God.

~ We have more activities to keep us entertained and yet we become disconnected and lose focus on the important things in the process. 

We are tired, stressed and stretched to our limit. 

I have spent the last week looking at and considering my and my family's pace and focus. Can I encourage you to do the same? 

God did not intend our lives to be too fast, too full and too stressed. He has given us the tools and ability to make an informed, intentional decision regarding everything in our lives. I have determined to take back my schedule and my family's schedule. 

Will you join me?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Struggling with the Sovereign

I was going to follow up my previous post with talking about perfect parent syndrome. It is one of the chapters in the book Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof. Actually they talk about Stock Family syndrome and how it starts with wanting to appear perfect, especially as the perfect parent. I was going to talk about how I struggle with wanting to be the perfect parent. 

But my life the last week has been more about my kids. One in particular. My son. My funny, athletic, tender-hearted, hugging, turning into a teenager son. About how I want him to be more normal and how my faith shakes. 

At least for a little bit.

We had his  latest IEP meeting (Individualized Education Plan) and when we got the results from his reading assessments for the year, it hurt. Practically no improvement this year. At the start of the school year, I was so hopeful and excited to see what God was going to do this year. I was believing Him for big things. For big improvements. And apparently, for something that isn't in His timing and plan. At least, not now.

Every time I have to go to an IEP meeting, or meet with a teacher regarding his reading, I come out heart-sick, angry and let down. 

The truth is, I feel all those things toward God. 

As a parent, to watch your kid struggle with something just breaks your heart, but to put on top of it something that feels like misplaced faith in a God who you believe in and love so much, sometimes it just feels too much to bear. 

I think, "Wouldn't it be better to give up believing God is in this than to believe that He is choosing to allow this for my son?"

I struggle mightily with the fact that my son has something that I can't help him past. That my role in all this is to support and encourage and pray, but not to fix.

In the way that He always does, God listened. He acknowledged everything I was feeling. How do I know? I just do. I feel it inside. I feel like I have been heard. I feel like God wants me to let it out, to share everything with him, even the ugly stuff that I am scared to say, but can't hold in. Even in the midst of being angry and hurt, I still feel like he wants me to bring it all, everything I have, blasting with both barrels or crying out a broken heart. 

And I do. 

Blast away with both barrels and cry. Accuse him of disinterest. Of being unfair. 

After I had had a day to work around my anger and remind myself that God loves my son, and is working out something in his character that will glorify the Lord, that will show my son the sovereignty of His plan and His love for my boy, I picked up my current Bible study for our ladies group.

Now, I am not going to tell you I was feeling particularly excited to get into my study. We are studying David and I felt about as far from the man after God's own heart as I could get. I still wasn't particularly interested in spending time with God yet, but I have made a commitment to do the study and so I opened the pages and grudgingly began to fill in the blanks and read the Scriptures noted inside.

And wouldn't you know it, there God was. I had no idea what the study had in store for us this week, where the author would take us, or what Scripture would be applied. But guess what? God did.

We are doing Beth Moore's study "David: Seeking a Heart Like His". This is what I read:
"When we wait on God, He gives supernatural strength and accomplishes the inconceivable.  did you notice how God gave David the vision for the temple but his offspring was to build it? God can entrust a vision or an idea to us that may be ours to pray about and prepare for, but not participate in directly....." 
A couple of paragraphs later I read this: 
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32
In His sovereignty, He knew exactly what I would be struggling with, and He knew exactly what I would be reading. I tend to think that he was sitting there, waiting for me to catch up with Him. After I read what I read, I had the distinct feeling that God was saying, 

"You, my daughter, forget who I AM. I couldn't wait for you to get here. I knew that we needed to meet right here and I wanted you to see me show up right on time... like you just said I never do. I love you, and am ALWAYS involved in everything that hurts you, that makes you cry, that tries to pull your heart from ME. You are never alone in your hurt. And what you seem to forget so easily is that I love your son more than you will ever be able to understand; I am with him through all of this, every second of it. Every step of struggle, my hand is on his shoulder."

In that little section of study, God showed me that I was not waiting on him, that I was wanting to see things done my way, in my timeline. 

He was reminding me that He will only move in His way and His time because they are good and perfect, and my plans are... well.... not.

He sees so many things that I never will, has planned things I know nothing about. And I tend to forget that He loves my boy so much more than I do and that I will never comprehend the depth of it.

He reminded me that I need to keep praying for and preparing for what God is going to do in my son's life, but what God is doing with and in Him is between the two of them alone. 

And he reminded me that He had given up His own Son just so He could do these things for my son.

So, no post about perfect parenting today, just an honest glimpse into how God shows up to comfort a heart that is doubtful, angry and hurting.

 He is so good. All the time.

 Even when I tell Him he isn't, he patiently waits for me to figure it out.

And then we start again on this Walk of Faith between a Sovereign God and a fickle, doubting faith-girl.