Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars, Frozen & Scissors

      I make a grunting noise as I toss another lego into "toy jail". I step away and trip over one of the kids light sabers.  Glancing over at the breakfast crumbs (we could seriously feed a family of refugees, not that I struggle with the idea of how much we waste or anything), I feel my eyes well up and think "I could use some of 'the force' about now. Trying to determine if I should pull the kids from their happy game of Zingo or tackle the breakfast fiasco on my own, I decide on the latter. What was my dear friend's quote, I ponder. Oh yeah, "a little and often". She was referring to home maintenance (along with other things). Gently, she was reminding me to stay on top of things rather than let them build into tougher jobs. "This isn't a little and often", I sarcastically mumble "this is 'a lot and always'." Seriously, if I'd simply pray every time I pick something off the floor, I might actually get a grasp on the whole "pray without ceasing" thing.  Out of the blue, I remember my daughter's expression the morning her big (3 year old) brother decided to mow the lawn. At least that's what her hair looked like when he was done with it. Her eyes were so proud and they seemed to be saying "Aren't I beautiful mommy?" Sometimes I still wonder if my volcanic reaction (she was my only girl and her hair had just gotten long enough to braid) will be one of the many things that draw her to a therapists couch one day. Though it was years ago, it is forever etched in my mind - my husband still  says he's never seen me so upset. Shifting back too the present, I hear my sweet girl singing loudly and off key,"I can't stand it anymore" which, much to my chagrin, seems to be the only line she remembers from the movie Frozen. I look at her. She is beautiful. Her hair is thick, thousands of shades of blonde and almost touching her waist. When did it get so long, so gorgeous? Hmmmm,  I  suppose it was "A little and often". And I'm reminded that while my struggle lately seems to be "a lot and always", God is chipping away at my sin, my pride, my "I can do this in my own strength" mentality. And, I'm growing. Slowly. Surely. Beautifully - "A little and  often".

 (The before photo was after a sweet stylist & friend at Shear Talent had gone 
out of her way to do some late night styling for which I am forever greatful )

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Why you shouldn't give to the poor

     The day had just begun and I was barely holding it together. I had a couple of young kids and getting them dressed and out the door did not go smoothly. There were diaper explosions, bad attitudes, spilled drinks and a couple of arguments with my husband. We were both exhausted. The speaker had no idea how tired and discouraged we were. The Lord had given him a heart for the poor and he was passionately pleading with his listeners for help. He was begging us to open our eyes, to reach out, to make a difference. My eyes welled up with tears and I wish I could say it was out of compassion. It wasn't. I had no idea how I was going to make it through lunch let alone reach out to anybody. I wanted to stand up and scream "can somebody help me while you are at it?!" I left feeling like a total and complete failure. A few years later and yet another difficult day I sat holding my squirming toddler and tried to hear as much as I could of a Sunday morning sermon. The pastor was talking about quiet time with the Lord. Ouch, another struggle area for me. I braced myself and prepared to hear how that the way to be a good Christian was to make sure I spent significant time in the word every day and read through the "bible in a year" at least twice in the next six months. He, however, surprised me. This isn't an exact quote, but it went something like this...
     "Don't promise God, others or yourself that YOU are going to wake up early every single morning and read the word of God. The moment you make that promise you are committing to do something in your own power. If, on the other hand you beg God for a desire for His word and for opportunities to read it. He will be faithful "
     I remember thinking, that sounds good...but I just can't imagine it would really work. Praise God, though, I gave it a try. I started begging God to give me a passion for the word. And over time He answered! Though I do make it a goal to spend daily time in the word, it is no longer out of guilt. Typically, I walk away longing for more (rather than trying to get it over with). The word has come alive to me! And it continually reveals my deep need for Him and reminds me that His blood covers my weaknesses, insecurities and sin. Not only that, but it has awakened in me a deep desire to reach out to the poor. Not because someone was staring at me from behind a pointed finger, but because of gentle nudgings from the Holy Spirit.
     That being said, I'm not exactly sure what to do with this new found desire. Truly, with the all-consuming needs of my family I barely have time to empty my bladder let alone reach out.  Almost a month ago I signed up to do a bit of advocating/blogging for World Help and it has taken me this long to write my first post. There are days that I feel tempted (and sometimes give in) to beat myself up and make promises to make a difference outside my home. But then I remember the way the Lord spoke through that sweet pastor's encouragement, and I go before the Lord and ask him to somehow, someway help me make a difference - in His time. I also ask him regularly to keep my heart soft and my eyes open to the extreme needs around me and abroad - because honestly it is a lot easier to ignore it and harden my heart than it is too see it and feel like there is nothing I can do.
     If you happen to be struggling with a lack of desire for the Word, a lack of compassion for the poor or a lack of time to do much about either, there is one thing I know He wants you to do - "Come to me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28. He doesn't want you to beat yourself up, make empty promises or even be guilted into sponsoring a child somewhere. He isn't referring to a perfect quiet time. He just wants you to trust Him with your heart. And in those times that your "just not feeling it" to sincerely talk to Him about it and ask him to "light the fire in your heart again". Don't settle for checking quiet times & a handful of change to a cold bell ringer off your "good Christian" list when you'd rather be running your fingernails across a chalk board. And don't make yet another promise that you are going to force yourself to read a few chapters in a book that bores you to tears. Join me in begging the God of the universe for more. "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."John 14:13-14 (NASB). I don't know about you, but I think a desire for His word and compassion for His people are most definitely in His name. So lets put our seat belts on and get ready for the Lord to move mountains in our souls (and beyond!!).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I'm just not feeling it

I have noticed something interesting about myself when it comes to opening the doors of our home. I am the first to admit that fifteen minutes before they arrived the place was a mess. I was barking orders to my kids, scrubbing our toilet, stuffing things in drawers and searching for underwear (yup, probably dirty) that pop up in the most random places. I don't mind admitting that I don't have it all together, but I have a hard time letting anyone see it. I am the same way when it comes to my emotions. If I'm really struggling I tend to pull away. Just last night I found myself tempted to postpone a scheduled visit with a few close friends because I had no desire to admit to them that I felt like I was coming apart at the seams. Praise God, I dragged myself there and they gently began the process of gluing me back together by simply listening & loving me - despite me. And then there's "grace in the midst". I love passing along thoughts, ideas and inspiration that I've learned through my trials, but I tend to be pretty silent when I'm walking through them. Especially the emotional ones. But here I am.  Welcome to my heart, dirty underwear and all. Actually, strangely enough it's the underwear that's got me down. Not just underwear, but the mess of it all. Every part of my being longs to be the mom that sits and plays with my kids for long periods of time and just soaks in these beautiful moments that are so quickly fading. But I can't figure out how to savor the moment...when I can smell the underwear (this time I'm not being literal ;)) Some days I do a great an ok job relaxing, enjoying and playing with them, but it comes at a price. The house falls apart (lately it falls apart even on the days where I'm a cleaning machine). Then there are the days that I try as hard as I can to keep things in some sort of order and my kids become the distractions, the frustrations. I know the answer comes through some sort of balance and that ultimately it's more of a spiritual issue than a physical one. But, I can't find the balance or the spiritual maturity to deal with it all well. I have no idea what to do. I'm begging God to show me. And for the moment He's silent. I get bouts of what I think is inspiration and then when I try to implement my new fangled idea it typically goes to pot. And I'm in tears - literally. I know all the cliches (that are truth), "just trust Him", "step by step", "give yourself grace", "don't sweat the small stuff", "count your blessings", "you can do anything for fifteen minutes", "pray without ceasing" etc...and I am trying to do these things. But, it is still an incredibly tough season. I suppose that is where part of the healing begins, recognizing that it is a season. But lately even that feels futile.
I don't know why I am writing this today. It scares me. I can hear people reacting with thoughts like "well, you made your own bed" or "I sure hope your DONE" or even "why don't you just send them to school?". But here's the thing, those very people, and perhaps they are a figment of my imagination, are going to have really tough days, months and seasons. And, at least they will know they are not alone. Life on this side of heaven is hard. Really hard - and we are all in it together. And one day, as believers, we will be rejoicing with our Father eternally. There won't be days when he feels silent, or work that feels overwhelming or even fear of what people think. There will be love. Light. Peace. Laughter. Dancing. And I know that He offers these very things on this side too, but today - I'm just not feeling it.

My husbands responses...
To this: "I dragged myself there and they gently began the process of gluing me back together by simply listening & loving me - despite me."
He said "called it!" and I said "Shut up."
(I'm still working on speaking respectfully, K?) ;)

To this: "And I know that He offers these very things on this side too, but today - I'm just not feeling it."
He said "At least your not as bad as that guy in Psalm 88" (look it up, you know you want too...its just a click away)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My daughter's lips

My daughter is beautiful. She lights up our world. I love my boys and thank God for them every single day. But because we have four boys and one princess, her beauty kind of stands out if ya know what I mean. Obviously I am not speaking of a worldly, everything is perfectly arranged and completely flawless kind of beauty, but of an inner sweetness, a precious innocence and a giggle that bubbles over into every part of her being. So when she decided to be a princess for a friends Halloween party I definitely didn't argue. We braided her hair, fastened her crown and zipped up her flowing gown. Then, for the very first time (she is 4) we painted her lips and rosied up her plump (in an adorably pinchable kind of way) cheeks. We looked in the mirror and admired our work. But, something didn't look right. She was holding her lips at a funny angle and talking without shutting them. She was worried. She didn't want her lipstick to come off. For the next hour she had a hard time relaxing. I kept reassuring her that she looked beautiful and that she didn't need to worry. Eventually, when she was surrounded by her friends, lots of candy and of course a Minecraft creeper, Steve, Tigger and Thomas the train (her brothers), she settled into her princess role and forgot all about her lips.
     As Christians, we do the same thing. We are sons and daughters of the King. He has made us new, beautiful and sparkling clean. But, instead of basking in His love, enjoying the incredible gifts he's given us, talking with him, listening to Him and reading His letters of love we decide to try harder. We work on patience, strive to love, beat ourselves up for lacking self control and try to hold our lips in the perfect smiling position so that we seem joyful.  All the while, we inwardly believe we are failures, that we don't measure up and we will never figure out how to do this life thing right. Here's the thing, Our Father and the maker of the universe has already made us beautiful and wants to walk with us as we learn how to receive His love and allow it to flow through us. But, if we are too busy trying to hold our lips just right, longing for someone else's dress or filling our lives with distraction so we don't have time to feel, we may join him in Heaven one day, but we will spend our lives exhausted, discouraged and lonely.
     You are beautiful. You are loved. If you are a believer, your sins are completely forgiven (even the ones you commit five minutes after reading this), you are a daughter (or son) of the King. Stop wasting time trying to hold your lips just right and use them to ask your deliverer what worshipping Him is supposed to look like in your life. If you don't hear the answer, don't walk away discouraged or think you need to try harder. Keep asking, keep listening, and rest knowing that He will answer you in His time.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Our war room

I have never started a blog post without anything in particular on my heart and mind. But, oh how I've missed writing. I've been begging God to give me the time, energy, motivation and inspiration to write again. And, here I am. I have no idea what this post is going to be about. Ok, I think I just lied...well, sort of. As soon as I wrote the words "begging God" something started to stir within my heart. So, I guess I'll start there. Prayer. What an incredible gift that God, the maker of the universe and former of our hearts has given us. And yet I open it so rarely. I recently had the opportunity to watch the movie "The War Room" with a good friend (and in the middle of the day, amazingly enough). I laughed, I cried and I left the theatre feeling totally and completely a good way. The kind of conviction that comes with hope, passion and desire (by the way I'm learning that the other kind of conviction, which comes with guilt, shame and hopelessness is actually condemnation from the enemy not conviction from the spirit). Anyway, back to prayer...for some reason, I don't really think of prayer as a battle ground. I am much more content (or so I feel) fighting my own battles and telling God what I need next. Like He is some kind of errand boy instead of the General of the Armies. Oh Lord, forgive me! You want to fight for me and I don't even take the time to share my heart with you. Thank you for the incredible freedom and joy that has come from running to you over the past couple of days instead of hiding or even more often distracting myself from feelings all together. You are so worthy, so able, so ready to fight our battles, mend our hearts, change our outlooks, fill us up, heal our wounds - but we'd rather catch 3 more episodes of our latest Netflix binge or spend hours looking for something on Facebook or Pinterest that might possibly make our lives easier, better or at least less empty. Oh Lord draw us in. You offer so much more! Show each of us how we can best share our hearts with you (and ask you to  share yours). Fill us with the creativity to come to you in ways that best fit each of us...whether it's using text to speech to start an online prayer journal, taking a walk and admiring your creation, creating a literal prayer closet, holding a friends hand and begging you to revive us, crafting a homemade journal (and actually using it ;), turning the radio up and letting your praises heal, writing an encouraging prayer letter to/for a friend, riding a horse while listening for your voice, running fingers through a loved ones hair at their hospital bedside or dancing with all our hearts before you. You know us, Lord. Show us. And  Lord, please don't let us settle for less than your best.