Friday, April 29, 2011

My Favorite Things

So I'm having one of those days (a real-life-mom kind of a day). I was up THE ENTIRE NIGHT with each of the kids- all for their own reasons- sickness, bad dreams, "he woke me up!" and so on. Then this morning no one would focus to get dressed and I was so rushed to get everything done that the kids were tardy to school... again (third time this year). Then Jacob (who is potty training) goes into his covert hiding place for about two minutes... to poop... in his pants... because?!?!??! Then I go to clean him up and the diaper bag is sour- like really, really sour. Something has died in there, I'm sure.

So then I'm putting everything in the washer and out of the "random" compartment in my brain comes this song:

And I laugh because I'm thinking about how random that was... then I start thinking to myself- my favorite things... my favorite things... my favorite things don't have anything to do with a kitten's whiskers- even though they are cute.  My favorite things are Jacob's awesome laugh and  Shepherd's rockin' smile.  Trinity's eyes and her tremendous heart and Timothy's wink and amazing sense of humor.  Savannah's hugs and the hottie's... well... pretty much everything about him.  The perfect worship song at just the right moment, a scripture that fills your heart with hope, truth, gladness, and joy!  Those are my favorite things and I missed them this morning.

But, no more pity parties today.  This life isn't about me... not about how much I haven't slept.  It's all about Him.  Time to rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."  Phil 4:7-9

So, when the dog bites, when the bee stings, or when I haven't slept... I'll simply remember my favorite things, and then I won't feeeeeeeeeel... so baaaaad! 

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Starbucks- My Love Language

Starbucks is my love language- seriously.  I think it should be added to the five love languages.  Unfortunately, I did not sleep enough last night. This sleeplessness is not a new occurrence in my life. I blame it on the caffeine. Before my last child was born, I didn't really drink much coffee. But since he has graced us with his presence, I find I am addicted (and I use that word in the strongest sense) to coffee. In the early days, I just ordered a tall. That tall was enough to wake me up and keep me going strong for most of the day.

But now, oh now I have perfected the Starbucks order. I always order the exact same thing: "Yes, I'll take a triple-venti-soy cinnamon dolce late with 4 equal... and no whip". Seriously. (And no, I do not want the information on how bad soy and equal are for you. I know this... man!)

Last week when I went through the drive through, I ordered the following: "A quadruple-venti-soy cinnamon dolce latte with four equal, please." What. The. Heck? When did a tall just stop doing it for me?

But this made me think (because I can find an analogy out of an empty toilet paper roll... and I have!) The tall from Starbucks used to be enough. But now I am desensitized to its effect. It takes more and more and more.

In the same way, I find that I am desensitized to the "little" curse words or a "little" gossip. A "little" violence or sexuality in a movie used to really offend me, but I've noticed that I'm quite a bit more tolerant. I've become desensitized and over time allowed these little things to creep into my life. A "little" lie from the enemy used to set me on my guard, but somehow, over time, I've let the little lies in and they have drastically changed me- not just my mind, but who I am.

Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

My body has become a junkyard, and I realize now that my mind has as well. Tiny little pieces of junk, overtime, have polluted my body, as well as my heart and mind. So it’s time for a cleanse. I was already preparing my body for a physical cleanse (more fruits, veggies, less caffeine and junk), but it’s also time for a spiritual cleanse.

When it's all been said and done, I want the tall from Starbucks to be enough . . . who knows maybe I’ll even order decaf!  And in the same way, I want my heart and mind to be cleansed.
So here's to a caffeine-free day! Here's to cleansing- from the inside out. Here's to finding another analogy from the empty roll of toilet paper. I would share that one with you now, but I'm afraid, padawon, that you aren't quite ready for this one. So for now- it's back to cleaning!

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To The Couples (Part I)- MOVING MOUNTAINS

There is so much change going on around me right now.  I, personally, know of at least ten couples who are either divorced, or divorcing, or who have recently separated for a time.  (No, not me...  just several close to me).  My heart breaks for these couples.  At the same time, I know of about five couples who are engaged or just recently married.  To these couples, I want to warn them- to show them all of the lessons we went through and learned the hard way.  I want to warn the men about how easy it is to be tempted and to become complacent.  I want to tell the women how easy it is to lose yourself, to lose your place in your marriage and to be overcome by life- to the point of depression or to the point of looking for a way out.  I want to tell them both how the enemy will scheme and get into their heads- each of them a little at a time because His ultimate goal is to ruin those marriages.

I watched my step-sister walk down the aisle last week and I just wanted to scream- WATCH OUT!!!  I have seen so much hurt, such intense pain from friends and family alike who have suffered or are currently suffering through the pain of divorce. I watched my parents end an almost 25 year marriage and saw what it did to each of them... and to me as an eighteen year old child. 

So then why do we marry?  Why do we make the choice to go through all of the costs of the wedding, the legalities of it all?  Why not just live together?  I mean, wouldn't it be easier to break up if it weren't so formal?  Wouldn't it be easier to separate out the assets if his stuff was truly his stuff and her stuff was truly her stuff?

Perhaps.  But here's reality.  We get married.  We combine assets.  We have children and bills and real estate.  The line gets blurred between what's his and what's hers and things become ours.  So what if we allowed ourselves to completely be joined together in a union the way God intended for them to be?   Check out that wording: "the way God intended for them to be".  Huh...  How many of us do you think actually meet that standard?  How many of us do you think honestly live in our marriages as the husbands and wives God intended for us to be?  If we are truly honest with one another, not many of us could say we do. 

But there is hope. 2 Corinthians 12:9 shows us where Paul has been given a thorn to keep him from getting too proud.  No one knows what this thorn is, but Paul says he asked God three different times to remove this thorn.  Here we see God's reply: "My gracious favor is all you need.  My power works best in your weakness."  Wow.  I absolutely, positively love this.  And how applicable this is to marriageWe are human.  We are bound to fail, to let one another down- especially as we try to walk more in our own strength.  But God's grace is all we need.  His power works best in our weakness.  So here's the hope- we don't have to be the perfect husbands and wives.  We just have to be perfectly dependant upon Him. 

What does this look like?  How can we become perfectly dependant?  Rather than pressing in to the mountain itself, we should press in to the One who can move those mountains.  Imagine, if you will, a triangle (yes, I know you've heard this 1,347,360 times, but stay with me).  At the top of the triangle is God and either of the two side points are you and your spouse.  As you seek God personally, and your spouse seeks God, what happens?  The two of you are naturally brought closer and closer together.  As you draw near to God, you are also drawing nearer to one another because He is drawing you closer and closer to one another... the mountain is being moved.  But if you should stop seeking God, and start to seek things that please your selfish nature, you are separating yourself from God and from your spouse.  The equation is simple, really.  I'll say it again- rather than pressing in to the mountain itself, we should press in to the one who can move the mountain.

So there's a mountain between the two of you?  Seek Him.  There's distance there?  Press in to Him.  Wife left you?  Seek Him.  Husband addicted to pornography?  Seek Him.  Facing divorce?  Seek Him.  Spouse not pursuing you ?  Seek Him. 

We, alone, cannot fix these major issues, but He said His power works best in our weakness.  Seek Him.  He is the one who can move these mountains.  So here's to the couples... and the triangles and the mountains that will be moved in His name.

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom.

To The Parents

I love this article.... for so many reasons.  But mostly because he is raw and honest.  He holds nothing back- form the first moment he spotted this girl in the airport to his final few words.  He's challenging parents to step up.  Love it!  Had to share it.  :)  Enjoy!

Cleaning House- Growth Spurt

So, my grocery bill just went up, again.  The kids are eating like food is going out of style.  They aren't gaining any weight, but according to the marks on my pantry wall, they are growing.  I noticed as I watched Shepherd eat last week that he seemed more hungry than normal.  As I watched him eat, I realized I'd been going through a growth spurt as well.  No, I'm not pregnant again.  I mean that God has been trying to grow me.  Imagine if I never let Shepherd eat more than he did as a newborn.  Imagine if the kids were still on bottles and I never increased their food intake to accomodate their nutritional needs as they grew. 

That's kind of what it's been like for me, off and on.  As God has been trying to grow me, there have been times where I feel convicted by this scripture found in 1 Corinthians 3, The Message: "You're acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I'll nurse you since you don't seem capable of anything more. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything's going your way?"  Yeah, you can say it- ouch.  

God has been trying to teach and grow me, but I have been relying on my own understanding- which is like perpetually drinking formula from a bottle when God has been trying to feed me a steak. In Proverbs 3, we are told "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."  Do not depend on your own understanding...  do not depend on your own understanding.  So I've been creating my own path- no wonder my plans aren't working out!  I want a steak.  I don't want this formula any longer.  I want what God has for me, but have been doing things my way.  It's time to grow. 
One of the first scriptures I ever memorized: was John 10:10"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  Satan's goal is to defeat us, as Christians.  He wants to steal from us, to kill, and to destroy.  He figures if he can keep me drinking from a bottle my whole life, I'll never grow into the woman God created me to be.  But I have a higher calling.  It's time for me to dive into the word- to put on the full armor of God and "stand against the devil’s schemes." . 

So, my grocery bill may be growing, and my kids may be getting taller, but I smile because I know this is all a part of an awesome process.  I am cleaning out the pantry- getting rid of all of the junk.  I will continue to feed them as their little bodies demand and I will seek to set the example by taking in what is necessary for my growth, throwing off any and all distractions. 

That being said- pass the steak, please!   

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom.

Monday, April 25, 2011

She's Baaaaaaaaack!

I last posted almost two weeks go.  For about three days, I was on a roll.  I was flooded with thoughts and ideas to share.  Since then, the flood has not stopped.  I am literally backed up with things that I would like to share but have had a hectic couple of weeks.  There is so much change going on around me and as of late, there are days when I can barely keep my head above water.  It's been an interesting ride, to say the least. 

First there was the tummy bug.  I think we passed it around the house for an entire month before it finally ended.  Then Shepherd got a tremendous sinus infection/ ear infection on top of teething pain- taking away from most of his naps (which is when I write).  Then Kyle's computer broke... or, rather, was broken by a very mischievous toddler who seems to have quite a knack for pressing buttons in such a sequence that one's computer can no longer function.  Awesomeness.  Really.  Then there was the wedding of my step-sister which required a day trip to Austin with the hottie (yes, I rather enjoyed the alone time, thankyouverymuch baby sitter).  And then there were several other random events that all joined together to keep me away from this blog.  There were meetings and phone calls and chores, galore!

But, let me reassure you- I am back!  :)  His computer is still broken, so I can't write as long as he needs to do homework, but other than that, I'm looking forward to sharing with you what God has been showing me as I "clean the house".  Here's to real life getting in the way.  Here's to God growing me and changing me during this time.  A friend, after hearing about my journey said to me "Man, God must want you to be perfect!" "Not perfect," I replied, "Perfectly dependant." 

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

To The Wives (Part I)- THROWING STONES

In MEET THE HOTTIE, I introduced you to the love of my life- my best friend.  I told you all about how we met and fell in love.  Then, doing things in a backward manner, we became pregnant and immediately got married.  And then the fun began.  We had been married about two months and Kyle (The Hottie) decided that he wanted IHOP for dinner so we dressed and quickly were on our way.  Now, being my father's daughter and somewhat of a control freak, I decided to drive. 

On the way there Kyle says to me (several times....) "Honey, we really should go the other way.  It's much faster."  To which I calmly replied "No, it's okay.  I am already going this way.  We will be fine going this way and next time we can try your way."  This interaction repeated itself about 6 times before I realized he was not getting the point, nor was he going to let it go.  He kept insisting.  So, hormones raging, I busted a U turn, flipped my husband off (because....?) and screamed at him for nagging me like a toddler.  I gave in and went his way... kicking and screaming (ironically, also like a toddler).  We made our way inside IHOP and to our table where I buried my head in my hands and started crying...  hysterically.  I looked up because I expected him to either (a) be fuming across the table or (b) comfort his pregnant, crying wife.  What did I see what I looked up?  Laughter.  The man was laughing at me while I was crying.  Seriously. 

Looking back, we both laugh about it now.  We have been together for nine years (during which, four of those years I was hormonal and pregnant) so he has learned a thing or two. But he isn't the only one who has learned a thing or two.  I remember that night like it was yesterday because it was my first big pregnant meltdown, but also because it was the first time I realized what a prideful woman I can be.  When we were dating, I was on my best behavior.  I didn't want to run him off so when he upset me (for the most part), I didn't mention it.  I guess something changed after we said our vows because for that poor schmuck, all bets were off. 

After that night, I felt empowered.  I felt validated.  I felt... larger (seriously- HUGE omelet for dinner).  I digress.  Unleashing all of those months of pent up frustration, combined with the influx of hormones made me feel like a new woman- a woman who was in control- FINALLY!  So whenever he would do something to upset me, I would tell him, point blank and often without respect.  I was sarcastic and rude.  I was impatient.  I was very mean and controlling.  Let me just say- looking back, I often wonder why I didn't get a broom to ride on for our first few anniversaries.  Yes, it really was THAT bad.

I would disrespect him in front of his peers and friends.  I would talk down to him while he was working... In hindsight, I often wonder why he even stayed.  I know in Genesis 3:16 (NLT) it says "And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you."  Wow did He ever hit that nail on the head!  I wanted to control Kyle.  In many ways, I did- either by degrading him or by manipulating him with my tears and emotions. I even withheld sex from him when I didn't get my way.  I thought this would make him want to give me what I wanted, but it only hurt him more.  Rather than being married to the woman of his dreams, he was stuck with the villain from his nightmares. 

So what changed?  I mean... I'm not like this now, am I?  Honestly, the temptation is still there and probably always will be (thankyouverymuch, Eve), but thanks to Kyle's boss and a woman with a heart for mentoring, I have come to learn my place in our marriage and am on the road to becoming the wife God designed me to be.  What did they say or do that changed me so much?  First there was Kyle's boss (who is a former preacher).  He came over to our house one night after work and spoke with Kyle for about an hour inside the house before asking me to join them. 

When I came inside, he said to me the words that would forever change my life (and my marriage).  He said, "Christi, I've heard the way you talk to Kyle and I've seen the way you treat him.  I came to tell you that you are out of line and have lost your place in this marriage.  Christi, when God puts two people together, He gives the wife stones.  Now you can do one of two things with those stones (your words)- you can either throw them and watch as over time your husband will turn into a pile of rubble emotionally.  Or you can lay them and see that over time God has taken those words, those stones, and built a tower of a man.  So, Christi, let me ask you- do you want to lay stones, or do you want to throw them?  It's your choice."  And now wives, I must ask you the same thing:  Do you want to lay stones, or do you want to throw them? 

I know your husband isn't perfect.  No man is (even the hottie, in all of his splendor).  I know that some of your husbands are struggling with the unimaginable.  Some are cowards (in your eyes).  Some are controlling and/ or abusive.  But God put you in that marriage for a reason.  He knew thousands of years ago, before you were ever born that you would CHOOSE to marry that man.  So let me ask you- why do you think you are there?  Do you believe God put you in that place so you could control him and always feel good about yourself?  Or do you think maybe God had a different plan?  Do you think it's possible that God put you in your marriage, knowing you would struggle, so that (a) God would be the one you depended on when your own strength ran out, and (b) God could change that man through your presence in his life?  Think about it.  I want to challenge you this week to consider the words as they come out of your mouth.  Think of them as stones...  Will you lay them, my friend, or will you throw them?


Monday, April 11, 2011


So you know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words?  Well, we had our family photos done yesterday and let me start off by saying 99.9% of them are insane. awesome. phenomenal.  Then there are the pictures of me.  Yes, as a matter of fact I AM having one of those days.  It's one of those days where I feel big and fat and ugly.  It's one of those days where I yelled at my kids, was super impatient.  I even had a few moments where I thought to myself, "Really, God?!?? Why did you give me children???  I don't deserve them and they don't deserve me!  They deserve better!"  Then I looked at these pictures of my beautiful children and my heart melted into a thousand pieces.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE these children- all 1,372,287 of them.  Please see evidence of said beautiful children below:


But as I was looking at the family photos, I felt almost out of place.  If each picture is worth 1,000 words, then I must have thought a million this afternoon.  A lot of them sounded like this: "You are a troll.  You are ugly. You are so fat.  Seriously?!?!?  Why would HE ever like YOU, let alone love YOU? Your family is so photogenic... so why aren't you?  Your kids are so beautiful- they must have gotten that from their dad.  Your eyes are so ugly.  You are never going to conquer this weight issue...  just stop trying."  And the train of thought didn't stop there, but thankfully a friend called and caught me in the middle of it, causing me to stop and think rationally.

Here's the thing- I don't like being in front of the camera.  I much prefer being the "taker" of all of our family photos for this reason- seeing those photos was a huge reality check in so many ways.  Once I got over the initial shock of the photos, I processed the words that I had been saying to myself and I realized a few things:

1- I can be pretty immature sometimes... and incredibly selfish.
2- Lies, lies, lies- they were all lies!
3- I don't always have an answer for everything- I may know the truths, but knowing them and walking in them or applying them are two completely different mentalities.
4- I need to get out of my head so the Holy Spirit can have some room to work.  :)

All of that to say, it was both a good day (because I got to see some amazing photos of my family) and a horrible day (because I gave the enemy a foothold into my mind and sent me on a downward spiral).  So, I know sometimes I can come off as a know-it-all, but I'm human and I struggle just like the rest of you.  So for now... I may not have all of the answers, but I'm working on it.  :)  NO LONGER I.

All photos property of Chip Gillespie:

Meet The Hottie

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl who met, fell in love, got married and had twenty seven children (slight exaggeration).  They lived happily ever after... sort of. 

I can remember it like it was yesterday. Ten years ago this coming July, I was going with a friend to a fourth of July celebration on the lake.  I can remember being in a terrible mood driving out there, but the second I stepped out of the car, that all changed.  For there, about 100 feet away, stood the man I would one day marry.  I can remember looking out on to the water and seeing this man towering above the water.  I was awe-struck by his good looks and his gentleness with the children that surrounded him.  He looked up at me and the butterflies rushed in.  I had never seen a man this beautiful in real life (seriously).  He stood six feet, seven inches tall, dark hair and the most gorgeous blue-green eyes I'd ever seen.  I spent the day flirting with this man that I could not take my eyes off of.  Something drew me to him- something beyond his looks, beyond his gentleness.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew there was something different about him and I wanted to make sure I got to see him again.

Five months passed before our next meeting.  A chance outing with our best friends would open the door for our future together.  After this evening with our friends, he and I met up to hang out one night.  At the end of our time together, we drove to the complex where I would be moving the following week and I pointed out my apartment before going back home.  On moving day, that same beautiful man came knocking on the door of my new apartment.  My friend and I had stayed up all night cleaning and working to organize the new place.  By the time Kyle and his brother showed up, I was filthy, exhausted, had no makeup on, and was (at the very least) looking rough- not at all my dream for impressing the man who had caused such butterflies in me.

None-the-less, it began.  He started calling, visiting, and taking me out.  He opened doors, pulled out chairs, and courted me.  He made me feel special in a way no other man had.  He made me feel beautiful in a way no other man had.  He had his eyes on the prize and continued to press on towards to goal of wooing me, but little did he know, he had me at hello.  ;)  I wanted to marry that man from the moment I saw him.  Everything female inside of me longed for his attention and affections.  I wanted to marry this man. 

Meet The hottie (a nickname you will learn all about in up-coming posts).   

After all of this, I was still very much a selfish girl...  tune in next time to hear more of our story.  Keep reading and you'll see how I began down this road to becoming the woman God created me to be (a journey I will not complete until I go home to be with Jesus, but a journey worth sharing, none-the-less). You'll meet our children and you will see how God rescued us from potential divorce and worked through us to help us find victory in Him.  No longer I. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011


So, I'm 31.   I have no formal education beyond high school.  I am not a licensed teacher, counselor, or therapist.  I don't claim to have it all together all of the time (not even some of the time).  In all likelihood, you aren't reading this because you think I have it all together (which is great because it helps take the pressure off).  I'm just a mom, a wife, and a child of God.  I suffer with OCD and ADHD (and probably a few other things I have yet to self diagnose or even realize).  But I have learned much about life and about marriage- most of these lessons learned the hard way because of foolish or immature decisions.  I'm not writing because i think I have all of the answers.  I'm writing because I think that if even one person walks away enlightened as a result of things God has brought me through, then I feel like this time is worth it.  That being said, read on! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I do.

I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

Ahhhhhh...  That's the dream right there.  Isn't it?  A romantic kiss on the beach to "seal the deal" and we're off to live happily ever after... right?  I learned about 2 months into my marriage that "wedded bliss" was somewhat of a myth.  Not that people can't experience happiness in marriage (because trust me, we do), but the fairy tale- the "happily ever after"- that's what six-year-old girls start dreaming about (thankyouverymuch Disney). 

We think that growing up involves meeting "Mr. Right" and becoming "Mrs. Right" and riding off into the sunset.  What Disney fails to show you when they paint that picture of the prince and princess is that real life gets in the way of that happily ever after.  Bills start coming in. Kids are added to the equation.  The fairy tale starts to fade away into the reality that is life.  Then something happens- the enemy begins to whisper things in your ear.  You start to hear words of selfishness, vanity, the need for approval, the need for control.  You start to accept much of what you hear as truth and doubt sets in, altering your happily ever after.  Because we live in a fallen world, we are constantly surrounded by temptations and what I am starting to see is fewer and fewer couples fighting back.

As of today, I personally know of about ten couples who are struggling because the husbands have perpetually made the decision to give in to the temptation of pornography creating a whole additional set of issues for their already insecure wives.  I also know of several couples who are sufferring because the wives give in to their desire for control and have long forgotten their place in a marriage- creating husbands who resent them and feel no sense of respect or love.  I am surrounded by divorcing or divorced couples who have forgotten what it feels like to truly feel loved- who are creating a new low level of expectation for the up-and-coming generation of marriages yet to come- teaching them that when the going gets tough, and it's just too difficult to fight back, it's okay to give up and get going. 

This may offend, upset, or frustrate some readers, but I feel it is my God-given duty to speak out (I mean this is, after all, my bl-ah-g- my word vomit).  Starting today, I will be sharing with you what God has taught me in my 9 years of marriage.  This area of who I am now comes from so much of what God has brought us through together.  God has taught me so much and is still teaching me.  As I am walking through these figurative rooms, "cleaning out the crap", I am remembering some tough lessons and understanding more and more why I struggled with (and still struggle with) some things (like the desire to control my husband).  I want to help encourage others who may struggle while God continues to do a work in me and in my own marriage.  I have been politely silent for far too long but now I seek to honor God by speaking some much-needed truths over anyone who is willing to hear them. 


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cleanliness is next to Godliness... right?

A little-known, fun fact about me: I wrestle with OCD.  If everything is not in its exact place, I get stressed out- almost to the point of anxiety.  When we brought Shepherd home from the hospital, the house was clean-ish, but there was a little bit of clutter laying around so I had an emotional meltdown and sat, crying on the stairs for about 30 minutes.  I know a large part of that was hormones, but on the other side of that was my struggle.  I cannot go to sleep at night unless the house is in order (for the most part) because I will lie there and think about all that needs to be done and it will stress me out.  This week I have fallen back into that same rut- not sleeping because I am overwhelmed with the amount of work left to do before this house is organized. 

We moved in about a month ago and I have yet to finish unpacking.  I was laughing at myself last night as I made my to-do list for today.  On that list was a section entitled: LISTS TO MAKE.  Seriously.  I know I have issues, but I started to wonder why.  Why do I struggle with this- this need to accomplish perfection?  And will I ever be able to move past this?  Will I ever be able to sit down and watch a movie with my husband and not feel that nagging in the back of my brain to get up and get things done?  Will I ever just be able to enjoy my children without them having to be clean?  Will I ever be able to enjoy this beautiful house without feeling like I have to constantly clean, organize, or "do"? 

Some of this may just be our current stage of life but I think there are other issues at hand.  Looking at how much time I spend doing housework, organizing, and making sure everything is "perfect", I have to wonder if the enemy is using this as a foothold to steal joy from my every day life.  John 10:10 says "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." 

The thief is coming to steal any joy I might find from spending time with my children or husband by distracting me with thoughts of discontentment.  He is trying to kill my dependence on God by giving me a sense of control over this "stuff"- because when it's organized, I feel in control. (Sick, I know...) He's trying to break me down emotionally and mentally by sending thoughts of discouragement and hopelessness, often whispering lies like the serpent in the garden.  I hear things like: "If your house isn't perfect- you are not in control, you are not a good wife, you are not a good mother." 

The funny thing is- God doesn't love me because of what I do, but, rather, who I am.  His presence in my life is what makes me whole.  He can love my children through me.  He can love my husband through me.  All I have to do is get out of the way.   In my quiet time this morning, I stumbled across this verse:  "Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God." 2 Cor. 7:1

I believe I have let this OCD defile my spirit, causing depression at times and discontentment.  I'm not saying that I should settle for a dirty house or complete dysfunction.  I'm saying that I need to find the balance and not let this "need" to clean come in between me and the things God has for me. 

So this week I'm starting a new study on my own.  Because I feel like it's fitting and I really do enjoy cleaning, I am going to be walking through the metaphorical rooms in my life, cleaning out the CRAP.  As I get one "room" cleaned out, I will share what God is showing me.  Today He showed me that I struggle with a desire for control and perfection.  I also struggle with worshipping the idol I have made out of my house.   Just like my ongoing battle with weight loss, it's not going to go away over night.  But I truly believe my God is a God who saves and I believe he can and will deliver me from this stronghold the enemy has been allowed to have in my life for way too long.  So, for now, I'll pray and take it one day at a time. 

Surrender can be a very powerful thing  As strong as I like to think I am, my God is so much stronger and when we all put control back in His hands, where it belongs, amazing things start to take place.  Chains broken.  Lives made new.  In surrender, we find freedom.  In surrender, I become no longer I and God becomes the one and only Lord in my life. 

No longer I.