Friday, April 18, 2014

When "I don't wanna"

I woke up with expectations. There was an agenda I could jump into. And then there were the things I knew I should do but didn't necessarily want to because they conflicted with my ideal day I had created in my mind.

My morning was not greeted with silence to sort through my thoughts as I had longed for. Our 5-year-old came down the stairs right on my heels. I could feel the tension building inside me and I knew what I needed to do. I sat down in an attempt to quiet my soul.

"Mom, I want to watch a movie." Perfect! Setting her up in front of a movie will allow me the peace and quiet I had counted on... until her movie of choice is one I have to inform her has been donated to charity...

Forget exchanging whispers with God before the shouts of the world! I decide to take the technology route myself as I cannot focus on reading anything of depth. Days off school bring with it some freedom from the calendar but also heighten the conflict between my desires.

"Mom, I want something to eat and drink." Deep breath. More footsteps indicate the entire household is waking up. Soon, my husband is attempting to discuss the day's agenda with me. Any other day I would embrace his attempt to get us all on the same page as a display of love and consideration... but today there is a war within my soul.

I arm myself with Bible and notebook and lock myself in the only sanctuary I can find: the master bathroom. My heart pours out to God through ink on paper and the tears begin to fall. There is pain I continue to try to bury and it's been weeks since I allowed God to speak Truth into my heart.

The Word of God stir thoughts and passions in my soul and the cracks in my heart begin to mend. Jesus asked that the cup be taken away. He didn't feel all warm and fuzzy about what he was saying "yes" to in the garden.  But, thankfully, He knew God's will was greater than that of our human hearts. It was because he lived to do the will of God above all else that we now have hope.

I may not be happy all the time about what I'm asked to do but knowing my purpose is what brings fulfillment in the end. There's comfort in knowing Jesus didn't leap for joy to obey God as He went to the cross... because it reminds me that my feelings can't dictate my decisions.

This Friday, as we remember the price Jesus paid on the cross for us, may we also allow it to impact the choices we make. When "I don't wanna"... I can remember Jesus didn't either but He did it out of love for God and love for us. That should be the driving factors in my decisions as well.

"Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives." - (Read more of Romans 6 here.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

In the Wilderness Season

(Today is the Third Thursday of the month. Time for the Hearts at Home Home Blog Hop! This month's topic: Love Your Struggles. Head over to Jill's blog to see what other women have to say on the topic.)

I listened as my pastor read the words of Luke 4:1. "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil." My heart was attentive to the thought that our human minds usually think of the Spirit leading us in good things. Yet the Bible is clear that "Jesus wed led by the Spirit... into the wilderness... to be tempted... by the devil."

Hmmm... That was going to require some mulling over. And I have pondered it. Deeply. Mainly because I've felt forced into a wilderness myself. And it's been lonely... because I haven't looked to the one who understands my weaknesses.

The point of the Sunday morning message was more from Hebrews 4:15. "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin." Jesus welcomed the wilderness because He knew we needed the words of this Scripture. He knew that we would each be led into the wilderness ourselves and that we needed an example of how to resist and endure and come out on the other side stronger than when we entered it.

I listened as we were instructed to resist temptation like Jesus resisted. Honestly, resisting the wilderness all together was more the message I was living. While I know I should be looking for ways to allow God to mold me, I have allowed the coldness of winter to settle into my heart instead.

When the storm clouds roll in, we hunker down and do our best to wait it out... until another storm beckons the horizon on its heels. When it's one storm after another after another, a soul grows weary. Will Spring ever come again? Will we ever see signs of life and growth or will it always be dark, dreary, cold and lifeless?

Everywhere we turn, people are complaining about the weather. It's been a stretch of long, cold, bitter months and it's taken a toll on life. The natives are growing restless. Even children moan when snowflakes fall.  The consensus seems to be the same. It's time to be able to get out and enjoy the days again. People are tired of feeling trapped. And honestly, I am too. Yet my imprisonment has less to do with the forecast and more to do with my soul. I'm left hesitant to hope.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick" Proverbs reads. My soul has been a living example of that saying these days. It's not the pattern I want my life modeled after. But when sadness wants to make a home in your heart and you use only sheer will to fight against it, depression will win. For no amount of human strength can fight against a lack of hope.

That's why I've been losing this battle. I've been resisting the wilderness instead of embracing the growth I can experience there. Instantly, God captured my attention with the words of my pastor. "The wilderness is an essential place in every spiritual journey." Deep inside the depths of my being, I know this. Yet the knowledge alone hasn't done a thing to help me resist.
I cannot continue to put life on hold until I believe better things are on their way. Right here, in the wilderness, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection". It is only through this power that I can get through the wilderness. And I want that illustrated in my life. Because I have hope. And this Easter I'm reminded once again just how much hope I have... even in the wilderness.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." - Romans 5:3-5

I cannot set my goals in life on comfort and ease and then ask God to let me know the power of His resurrection. "To know Christ and the power of His resurrection isn't complete without  "suffer[ing] with him [and] sharing in his death." We are reminded this week of the discomfort, pain, isolation, sorrow and anguish Jesus endured so we could know.

It's time for me to embrace the wilderness season. I must get my eyes off of my problems and place them on Him. Then I can "know Christ and the power of His resurrection" and "this hope will not lead to disappointment" because I am loved... constantly reminded every time I see a cross... of the ultimate love displayed by a risen Savior!

Yes, I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection no matter what. Whether it is a wilderness season or a cold, bitter winter that appears endless. Because "everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord!"

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up." - Hebrews 12

Are you currently in a wilderness season that you need to embrace?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Love Your Now

(Today is the Third Thursday of the month. Time for the Hearts at Home Home Blog Hop! This month's topic: Love Your Now. Head over to Jill's blog to see what other women have to say on the topic.)
“This too shall pass…”

“If I can just hang on long enough…”

“It won’t last forever…”

“Seasons come and seasons go…”

“To everything there is a season…”

I’m holding my breath until we get through this phase. Searching for a light at the end of the tunnel, I try to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Once we reach this finish line, I believe we’ll find some rest. There has to be better things on the other side. Until, of course, the other side reveals it is just another season with its own trials and temptations waiting to happen.

It’s the holding pattern we’ve been living in. Work has made it next to impossible to plan anything social in our lives. I like to look at the week in front of us and know what to expect. Unfortunately, the deadlines my husband has been under at work leaves me uncertain of not only our long term future but the very next moment as well. Will he be home for dinner? Will I have help transporting the kids to activities? What are the chances he will have to be in another state tomorrow? How can we continue to live life like this?

Some of my friends flip to the ending of a book first to know if it is worth their time to read its entirety. I can’t imagine doing that until a season of life has me wanting to fast forward to the end. If I can just see the finish line… If I only knew the course and the distance left in front of me… I can usually pace myself to finish the race if I know what I’m up against.

The other night I spent some time alone with my grandparents. He sits in a wheelchair, his body crippled by age and disease. Unable to get his arm to respond to his brain’s command, I watch it slowly fall through the arm of the chair. She sits by his side. Noticing his arm fall, she holds his disfigured hand and tucks it under his lap blanket so it will stay where it should. More times than I can count, she informs me “He is 90-years-old now.” We just celebrated his birthday so I know. “He’s the only one who has made it to that age.” My heart aches as I watch these pillars of my life fade away. His body fails him. Her mind wrestles with her world. All he wants is to have his body strong and able again. She wants to tell her stories without struggle to remember. I want to have an easy relationship with my grandparents where they know me fully. But all our wanting is just that.

I’ve been wishing away seasons for 36 years now. Praying God will give us the strength to get through. Sometimes it feels like that is all we can do. Pray and cling on for dear hope. It’s just that I realize we can’t ever count on tomorrow. Death can steal tomorrow early like it did with my dad. Moments like those knock at my heart’s door. When a phone call from a doctor leaves us wondering if tomorrow will be… all we want is yesterday back.

It’s not a good mental place to always be wishing for the good ol’ days. And racing towards tomorrow leaves us missing the moments we should be embracing today. We were never promised to see the course route ahead of time. God just told us to run the race well. 

If I live until I am 90, will I be able to be content with the race I’ve run? I don’t want to live in a world of regrets. It’s time to embrace today. Give thanks for the gifts each moment brings. When I understand that the season I’m wishing away is shaping the future me, maybe I can stop and appreciate the molding process. An artist working is still beautiful even before the final product is revealed. There is much to appreciate along the race course besides the finish line itself.

It’s time for me to love my now. I’m called to live in the present. One thing is for certain. Even if today feels like more than I can handle… through it all, I have God by my side. He sees the future and I can trust that He is faithful to complete the work He began in me.

I can celebrate the way my 5-year-old shares every thought in her head especially because I wish my 11-year-old would tell me more. When my 8-year-old puts a silly mustache on her face to greet us in the morning, I hope I will remember to cherish the moments that will soon fade away. There is a certain gratitude for the self-sufficiency my pre-teen has when my preschooler still asks for help to wipe. (Just as I typed this I realized she hasn’t asked for this in quite a few days!) Although my husband is working many exhausting hours, God has provided gift after gift through this season. Our eyes need to be open to the gifts of today. We are far from ever being in want and abundance is something to be thankful for even when the daily tasks at hand overwhelm me. Yes, this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!

How do you find ways to love your now?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Have you bought No More Perfect Kids yet?

NMPK Cover with Chapman name Guess what??? It's time!

I've been telling you about the No More Perfect Kids book and encouraging you to wait to get it until Bonus Week and it's finally here! Hearts at Home, Celebrate Kids, Inc, and Moody Publishers have put together an incredible package of parenting tools for anyone who buys the book during Bonus Week!

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling book The Five Love Languages, says, "Few things in life are more satisfying than succeeding as a parent. No More Perfect Kids will help you do just that!"

If you pick up the No More Perfect Kids book (e-book or hard copy from any brick and mortar store or online retailer) anytime between March 13 - 23, 2014, you will be eligible to receive over $100 in free resources!

Here's how it works: 1) Buy the No More Perfect Kids book between March 13 and March 23 2) Scan or take a picture of the receipt 3) email a copy of your receipt to 4)Within 24 hours your will receipt a reply with a link and password to unlock you free resources!
So what is included in the bonus offers? It's over $100 of incredible parenting resources!

Here's what you'll get:

4 Printables:
* You're Special Poster
* I Corinthians 13 for Parents Poster
* Compliments and Corrections Booklet by Dr. Kathy Koch
* Conversation Starters for Parents and Grandparents Booklet by Dr. Kathy Koch

4 Hearts at Home Audio Workshops:
* When You Feel Like Screaming--Sue Heimer,
* Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid--Shaunti Feldhahn
* Raising Grateful Kids--Marianne Miller
* Real Ways to Connect with Your Kids--Kathi Lipp

3 E-Books:* A Perfect Pet for Peyton by Gary Chapman,
* How Am I Smart? by Kathy Koch
* The 10 Commandments of Parenting by Dr. Ed Young

You'll also want to check out where you'll find free videos to accompany the No More Perfect Kids book and other great resources!

HAH logo 4 approvalWhat a wonderful opportunity this is to get some great parenting resources at an incredible price! Tell your friends, your moms group, and any other parent who would benefit from this wonderful opportunity!

Friday, February 21, 2014

"I'm Hungry"

It's 3:00 p.m. Nikelle should be on the bus coming home from school now. I, myself, am feeling a bit light-headed. Of course, I am not following the advice to drink plenty of fluids either. I'm wondering how she is feeling and praying the way she feels will help remind her that not everyone lives in the abundance we experience. While I ate a pear and have had a couple of glasses of V8 Fusion, the greatest awareness I have right now is the abundance I have access to. I can just grab whatever I want from my kitchen. The children Nikelle is doing this famine project for don't have that option. This will be an event my daughter will likely always remember. Those children in need, however, live hungry every day. Maybe it will change the way we use the word? I hope so.

Too often I say "I'm hungry" and feel the need to put something in my mouth. Having accomplished much today (including some time on the treadmill), I realize it's been a long time since I denied myself much of anything, especially food. It's time to get back to finding prompts to spur me closer to God. Denying myself causes me to stop and turn my eyes to Christ. I need a bit more of that.

"Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." - Luke 9:23-24

These are the verses I gave Nikelle to ponder at lunch time today:
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." - 1 Timothy 6:17-19

I pray this is much more than an "event" for her. While we can't truly experience what those less fortunate endure, we can obey Jesus to be generous and willing to share. It's not only about the here and now.

You can help feed those in need here. Just $35 feeds a child for a month.