Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Ministry Affair

Okay, so I may or may not be a control freak.  Maybe...  just a little.

I had all of these ideas and plans about the way things should be in my life (as if it were, truly, MY life.)

For a while, I had things my way.  I was singing every week, or every other week on our praise team at church.  I was teaching women's Bible study.  I was leading the youth and helping out with children's and women's and every other ministry that I felt compelled to be a part of.  If there was an event at church, I was there.  If there was an opportunity for me to get involved, I was first on the sign up list.

Like I said, I'm a control freak.

I thought that I was becoming more "righteous" by helping out, but in reality, I was becoming more self-righteous.  I had everything I wanted.  In fact, because of my need for man's approval, and for control, I would pile on task, after task, after task just so that I could hear what an awesome job I was doing.  (Just being real here, folks- don't judge.)

So obviously I didn't know that's what I was doing.  My children, my marriage, and my relationship with God all took a back seat to my participation in ministry.  In fact, ministry became my idol, and essentially my love.  I turned every bit of my spare attention to ministry and to pursuing a career in ministry and, ironically, I left God completely out of the equation.

When my whole world seemed to crumble, I looked back and realized that I had been having an affair.  As a friend once put it "my affair was with ministry."  It was never with a person, but always with ministry- and honestly, I'm not sure which is worse.  If my affair had been with a person, I would have been able to break it off and hopefully reconcile with my husband and with God.  Instead, I was so blinded by "good deeds" and "serving" that I couldn't even begin to see where I was wrong.



I love that last part- verse 7 where he says "Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord." 

When I had things my way, when I was in control, I was wise in my own eyes and
I had no need for God.

I found every bit of my value in affirmation and attention, thus my "value" was based on performance and the ability to attain perfection.  That could be another reason why He said not to lean on our own understanding...  just a thought.

But after a while of doing things my way, God humbled me.

Through some very necessary changes at our church, I wasn't able to participate and perform at the level I once had.  So naturally, my self-worth, my value completely diminished.  Unknowingly, I had been living out entire parts of my life according to my own selfish ambition and vain conceit and when the opportunities simply were not available to me any longer, my wants, my desires, my hopes, my dreams, my plans all seemed to decrease while my need for God gradually increased.

Once I was "nothing" in my eyes, I was finally able to see God clearly.  It's funny how that works.  When I was desperate for love, for affirmation, and for attention, I had no where else to turn, but to God.  He began to show me that my pursuit of status had left my husband and my children feeling empty and unloved- and had left me completely drained and exhausted- not at all His plan for me.  So through a season of learning to pray and surrender to Him, my marriage was completely restored, and my children rejuvenated.  Our lives were completely changed, for His glory.

He showed me my need wasn't for status, or fulfillment in ministry, the perfect family, or the perfect job.  My need all along, was for Him.

So I get it when James says

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4

You see, I needed God, but I didn't know I needed Him.  My heart longed for intimacy with Him, and unknowingly, I looked in all of the wrong places to try to find what I thought I was looking for.  During this time, I flirted with bitterness, but thankfully God revealed His desires for me to focus on my family and on Him rather than on what I thought I should be doing and He broke down the half-built walls of bitterness.  Once I was finally able to recognize my need for Him, my prayers became more real, my dependence on Him grew, and my independence shrank.  I started looking to Him to meet all of my needs and I noticed that I wasn't so "thirsty", so desperate for status, for ministry opportunities, for attention and the approval of man.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm thankful for these trials and for a forgiving family.  I'm thankful that God used the past couple of years to radically transform who I was for His glory, and I praise Him for the opportunity to have endured this and to have come out on the other side closer to my husband and children than ever before.

Not that I'd opt to go through all of this again...  because either it was more difficult than it had to be, or I'm just a really slow (stubborn) learner... or both.

Always learning, for His glory.

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom



Our Free Car, Our Christmas Miracle

So we got this car the other day...

Actually, let me re-phrase that:  we were GIVEN a car the other day- free of charge, as in "Here is the title.  It's all yours."

I know...  crazy, right?

It's beyond amazing.  It's fully loaded and better than anything either one of us could ever have hoped for or imagined.  It's gorgeous and wonderful and, almost too good to be true.

Only it's really true.  This really did happen.

Now- to answer your questions:

No.  We don't know who.  We don't know how.  We don't know why.

All we know is that we have been praying for quite some time for a vehicle- a vehicle without a car note.  I know- it seems crazy to pray for something like that, but we've been blessed in the past, and so I figured- why put God in a box?

Luke 1:37 says "NOTHING is impossible with God."

I wasn't sure what that would entail- whether it would be something we would save for over a long period of time,or if God would just show up and provide for this need.  Either way, I knew something needed to happen... something beyond our means, so we prayed.

The kids and I had made a prayer poster with a list of requests- super requests- things that only God could do.  I wanted them to see evidence of God at work.  As we prayed for these requests, some of them were answered- but definitely not in the ways I would have imagined.  God is a creative God, and I like to think of Him as being a romantic.  In all of His beautiful creativity, He reached down in to our circumstances and, for whatever reason, He chose to bless us in some pretty mind-blowing ways.

When it came to the request for the car, however, I began to get discouraged.  I started to try to "fix" the problem.  I began looking on Craigslist for a vehicle.  I thought perhaps I should just buy my husband a "clunker"- something to get him to and from work, and nothing more.  I looked everywhere, but no one seemed to be willing to negotiate down to a price we could manage- and the people who seemed most willing to make a deal were almost all scams.

So I allowed myself to buy in to Satan's lie that I should just give up.

But I had been so convinced that we were supposed to pray for a vehicle without a car note.  So why was I giving up?

Because waiting on God didn't fit in to my timeline.

And then something inside of me changed.  During a quiet time, in Romans 8, I read:

"If we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently." 

After reading this, I was reminded that I needed to continue to wait on God, on His timing, and wait confidently- not giving up.  I tried.  I prayed.  I persevered.

But the enemy persisted.  He continued to try to convince us that this was never going to happen.  I wondered if perhaps I was "doing" something wrong, or if I needed to "do" something different.  My patience was running out, along with my confidence.

Then, last Friday, I received a text from a beloved friend who informed me that the Lord had graciously provided a vehicle for our family.

Seriously.


The vehicle didn't come from this friend- she was merely the messenger.

In spite of fears, doubts, frustrations, and pride, God showed up.


My mind tried to make sense of it all.  I tried to figure out how it had worked out- whether or not I had done something to earn this.

And I could think of nothing.

And then I could come up with no logical explanation for this beautiful, perfect, amazing gift... so I praised God.  During this season, He grew our faith, and taught us how to wait on Him.

People keep asking "what did you DO to earn that?!??!"  Truthfully?  We didn't "DO" anything.  We didn't earn this, or even deserve it.  To my knowledge, God doesn't work like that.  We didn't pray the right prayers, or impress the right people.  We just...  prayed and waited.

I have no idea why God chooses to answer some requests and not others.  I may never fully understand the magnificent scope of His awesome plan.  I mean, we prayed for some pretty incredible requests during this same time period, and they were not answered in the way we thought they should be...  if they were answered at all.  But we had to choose to trust in the goodness and the sovereignty of God.  We had to choose to trust that He moved in HIS time, according to HIS will and HIS purposes, for HIS glory.

Not mine.

And let me clarify- I am not bragging about this- not at all.  Several people have asked that we share the story behind the car, and so here it is.  We aren't favored over other people.  We aren't "more precious" to Him or "more loved" by Him.  We just continue to ask Him and wait with hopeful expectation for Him to respond either by providing or by leading us down a different path.

That's it.

No magic formula.  No special words or sign up sheets.

Just a family choosing to trust God rather than manipulating our circumstances to make us more "comfortable".

So, I'm sorry if it's not the super-exciting story you were hoping for.  For us, it was beyond exciting- it was an opportunity to experience God's love in a way we so desperately needed it.

It was our Christmas Miracle.



So we would like to take a moment to thank all of our friends who prayed for us during this season.   I don't know if you've been praying for something and it hasn't worked out the way you had hoped.  Maybe it's been years and you have yet to see any kind of answers.  I encourage you to keep on praying.  If I had things my way, I would have had this prayer answered a year ago. But God isn't a magic genie, so I know He isn't going to move in my timeline or the way I think He should.  I have a friend who prayed for the salvation of her husband for thirteen years before he finally made the decision to trust Christ.

Thirteen years.

God had a plan and it changed (and I would imagine is still changing) countless lives.  It changed my life, for sure!

He's God.  He's in control.  And our job is to trust him, no matter what.

End of story.

So anyway, thanks for reading and for celebrating with us!

To God be the glory, for the things He has done!

   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Leftovers

Raise your hands if you are still eating leftovers... from Thanksgiving.  Anybody?  

I'm not a huge fan of leftovers.  I know I'm not alone in this- they just don't taste the same... except pie.  Pie is never not good, and I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of pie in my home post-Thanksgiving.  But I digress.  When it comes to leftovers there are some things that are merely "okay" the next day.  For the most part, however, leftovers are dominantly for the kids- and the jolly green giant I married.  

So, as I was re-heating some left overs for lunch, Jacob reminded me that he is also not a fan of leftovers when he whined:  "Maaaahhhhhmmmm...  it doesn't taste the same!"  

I'm not sure why this struck me, but it did.  I started thinking about how much of me I'm giving to the Lord, and how much I'm using on other less-important things.

I know- not where you thought I was going with that... 

So, of course, because this is a recurring theme in my life, as of late, I experience this lesson everywhere.  I read this today in my daily devotion (Jesus Calling) and experienced a similar lesson in a meeting I attended this morning:


And I was convicted.

Especially when she writes: "This practice enables them to give Me money, time, and work without yielding  up to Me what I desire most- their hearts...  the habit forming rules provide a false sense of security, lulling the soul into a comatose condition."  And then she goes on to say "What I search for in My children is an awakened soul that thrills to the joy of my presence!"  (The tears started there) and then I read "I created mankind to glorify Me and enjoy Me forever."

A thousand thoughts, I had.  But just one stood out significantly above the rest.  

It was this- how much of my time, money, efforts in ministry, efforts in life do I offer up to God to appease Him without every fully allowing myself to be open to truly loving and receiving love from Him?  I mean, seriously- when is the last time my soul felt awakened and thrilled at the joy of His presence?  These habits that I have trained myself to do, are they really for God, or are they to make me feel better?

The part of me that I yield trying to "spend time with God"- if I'm being truly honest, that's really just the leftovers.  

Read this:


Deuteronomy 6
“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Looking back at my week filled with "to-do"s and busyness, I think, I certainly haven't been loving Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I've been loving my church, my kids, my husband, and my home, but not God.  At least, not in this way.  

We are being urged in Deuteronomy to commit ourselves whole-heartedly to this, not just to give God our leftovers.

Psalm 16:11 says:
"You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever."

I have often wondered why I spent so much time trying to "do" more in ministry, trying to gain acceptance, approval, and validation from people when God spells it out multiple times in scripture:  We aren't here for our glory, for our ministry, or even for the church as a whole.  We aren't here for our families.  We are here for God-  To know Him and to love Him... and to be loved by Him.  All of that other stuff is just "stuff" unless it becomes the byproduct of loving Him and allowing Him to love others through you.

Maybe you aren't in this same place.  Maybe you "got it" a long time ago and have been enjoying the "joy of His presence" ever since.  For me, I know I've been in a season of change, wrestling with my plans versus God's plans.  Some days I'm uber-focused and really in an attitude of loving Him- not just what He can do.  Those days, I know for certain I experience the joys of His presence and my love for Him grows exponentially.  But old habits die hard.  

I think that because of my past and my personality, I am wired to "do" and to "go" and often lose sight of just being with Him.  I listen to the lie that I have to" do" or to be involved to earn His love, as we often experience with man and I forget that "He so loved the world..."  It was a free gift.  He already loved me- before I ever did anything good or bad.  And yet, I can still see that I'm either trying to please Him or find some sort of fulfillment in status or in other things- even honorable things like ministry, a happy husband, well-educated and well-behaved children, a healthy diet,  a clean home, etc...  I spend far too much time allowing my self to become far too distracted by life in this world and the need for man's approval to concern myself with things like the joy of His presence.  I'm loving "things" and people with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.  So it's no wonder that when all is said and done, I'm completely and totally exhausted and all I have to offer Him is...  you guessed it- my leftovers.

But I don't want to live like that.  So for today, I'm thankful for this little reminder in the form of a whiny toddler- that helped me to regain my focus.  I am reminded that God doesn't want our leftovers any more than we want His.  He wants our soul-awakened to the thrills and joys of His presence!  So I say we throw out the leftovers and start fresh.

Here's to pie!  (I'm kidding...  sort of).  Here's also to another opportunity to learn more about this incredible opportunity that we all have to be wildly loved by the creator of the universe!

Still learning.  Still growing. 

Still long-winded... 


The Real Life Mom

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Word on The Election

So, the polls are in and we have a winner.  I imagine a collective sigh came over many in the South (and according to the popular vote, much of the rest of the nation) as the news was broadcast.  Immediately people took to Facebook and all of their social media outlets to vent their frustrations.  Friends began fighting as hatred poured from their keyboards like fire from a dragon's mouth.  I saw best friendships turned upside down in an effort to maintain political footing and to be.... right?  The only problem is- we all went to bed yesterday and we all woke up today... and nothing changed.  

President Obama is still the President.  And, newsflash- he will be for the next four years.  All of the political rants and fighting did nothing to change that.  All of the crude jokes and rude humor did nothing except prove to non-believers that we, "Christians" are, in reality, a bunch of prideful, arrogant "haters".  

And so now, what about those friendships?  Those who were excited about Obama's re-election still woke up excited.  And those who went to bed angry likely woke up with a hatred hangover- mad at the world for making them stay up too late to wait on results, and mad at their fren-emies who should have sided with them... right?

Either outcome would have yielded a passionate response, but what I saw last night was beyond passionate- it was pride, riding the glory train.  It was fear, manifested in anger and bitterness, and it was jealousy flying across the computer screens faster than I could have typed it (and I'm pretty fast, just FYI).  

I found myself caught up in the mix- accidentally posting one opinion.  Then while trying to avoid political posts,  I turned to scripture, hoping to find a little truth on what God has to say about the matter.  

Here is one of the first verses I stumbled across:

"The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions..." 1 Timothy 1

And this one:

"He controls the course of the world events; He removes kings & sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise & knowledge to the scholars" Daniel 2:21

And this one was my favorite:

1 Timothy 2: "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity."

But the most influential thing I read about the election didn't come across as a Facebook Status. And while the scriptures I found were extremely convicting and challenging, this one thing absolutely spoke truth and inspired me- so, of course, I'm sharing it here.  Please take a moment to read this.  It's a message from my pastor who is, perhaps, one of the wisest men I know.  

Thanks for reading!  

The Real Life Mom


(For more information on Pastor Jeff Wells, or on the church I call home, please visit www.woodsedge.org)

Pastor Jeff Wells, on the election:

Dear WoodsEdge Family,

The overwhelming majority of people in our community, and the overwhelming majority of our congregation, are disappointed, deeply, by the results of the Presidential Election last night. How should we as Christ-followers process this frustration? Here are a few thoughts:

1.  We are unshaken because God is unshaken.

The real King does not reside in Washington. He does not work on Capitol Hill. In fact, he is not of this world.

The real King is the crucified and risen Savior, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the eternal Word made flesh, who is coming again, not on a donkey or on an elephant, but on a white horse. He is not worried.

2.  Government is important but not all-important.

Yes, we are responsible to vote and pray, to be salt and light in our culture. We are called to stand against evil and injustice. Important issues are at stake. We agree with Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

That said, we also realize that the ultimate answers are not political or economic, educational or legislative. They are spiritual. They are found in Jesus Christ alone. Nothing short of widespread revival will turn our country around. We need a fresh movement of the Spirit on our land.

I remind you: We have had evangelical Presidents before (which Mitt Romney is not). Men such as Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush. And yet we still have lots of abortions, enormous debt, overwhelming problems.

The U.S. President has power but the power is limited. Only the power of God will bring a breakthrough.

3.  Do not let disappointment become anger or bitterness.

Jesus opposed injustice and evil, because he hated sin. But he loved sinners. Sinners of all stripes and flavors.

Our problem: We love sin and hate sinners. We hate (though we may not use this word) people who believe differently than we do.

Yet we are called to love. To love all people, even our enemies. In fact, if we don't have love, we have nothing at all (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

May it no longer be that Christ-followers in the U.S. are known as self-righteous, condescending and judgmental. May we be known for our hearts of love! May we be known for our humble, grateful, joyful love.

4.  See the big picture.

During World War II, C.S. Lewis pointed out that there was a benefit to war: People are more likely to think about death and their need for God.

That is true of a society in disarray and rebellion. We don't want such a society. But that's what we have and the advantage to it is that we'll be less likely to rely upon ourselves and our government, and more likely to recognize our desperate need for God.

A land in sin and rebellion is a land in many ways more ripe for revival. After all, the Roman government of the first century, and the Chinese government of the 20th century, were even more rebellious, more hostile to God, than our own government today. And both of these countries, ancient Rome and modern China, saw widespread revival.

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." We don't want persecution. But there are worse things.

5.  Pray for your President.

The Bible is clear: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). As Christians, our basic governmental responsibility is to pray for our leaders, good or bad. After all, when Paul wrote this, who was king? It was Nero, a man who would later have Paul beheaded.

Church, you may be greatly disappointed. That's OK. But do not be shaken. We've seen the end of the story: Jesus Christ wins! Take joy! Trust the Lord! Pursue him, and your neighbor, with grateful love!


With much love,
Jeff 



Friday, September 28, 2012

Trash Day

Yesterday was trash day.  I couldn't wait for trash day because the week before, we'd completely missed both trash days (a clear sign of mom-brain).  My garage had become so smelly that I didn't even want to open the door anymore for fear it would contaminate the air in my house.

So before heading out the door to Bible Study, I made sure to take the trash to the curb.  By the time I got home, our trashcans had been emptied (smell and all).  

While at the church, I had a conversation with a friend about our "junk"- the things in our lives that we are holding on to and I related it to the trash I'd forgotten to take care of last week.

Sometimes, we don't realize that we haven't gotten all of the trash to the curb.  Maybe a small trashcan got missed somewhere in one of the bathrooms.  Over time, that trashcan will start to smell and can really create some issues for the rest of the house.  

When you finally track down the smell, not only do you usually have to take out the bag, but by then it's usually time to scrub the entire trashcan.  

The same is true for our lives.  Sometimes we bring out all of our junk .  We bring it all to the big trashcan, and we think the work is done.  We've talked about it.  We've "processed" it.  It's done, right?  

Wrong.

I deal with some pretty tough stuff sometimes.  Some of my friends are dealing with stuff that makes my "trash" look like daisies.  Never-the-less, my trash is my trash.  If I carry it around, it causes a foul odor in my life.

But if I (occasionally with the help of family and friends) "take out the trash", I don't have to bear that burden any more.  If I take it to the bigger trash can- if I start working through some of it, but I don't ever take that bigger dumpster to the curb, it's not really gone.  I've just begun working through it. 

But when I take it to the curb, (when I surrender,) I leave it there.  Why?  Because we've learned from experience that when we leave the trash on the curb, the trash guys will come and pick it up.

So I wonder- how many times have I carried my trash to the curb and then dragged it back inside my garage- maggots and all?  

There is a God out there who wants to free me from these struggles- from this junk.  He wants to take these burdens off of my shoulders.  He says if I "put it on the curb" and leave it there for Him, He will be faithful to bring me peace and healing- He'll give forgiveness where necessary and I'll finally be able to sit in my own home and... just breathe- without the stench of my past hurts, regrets, fears, disappointments, and sins lingering in the air.  

So I share all of that to say this-

It's trash day, folks...


"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."
1 Peter 5:7







Thursday, September 27, 2012

Puzzles and Boogers and Bears, Oh My!

So I was watching Jacob work on a puzzle the other day.  He's four and typically does well with puzzles.  This puzzle, however, was a little more difficult than his normal "toddler" puzzles.  

Have you ever watched a child try to do a puzzle without help?  


It's precious, I know.  

(Sidenote- no, that is not my child.  To my knowledge, I actually have no asian children.  Maybe one day I'll adopt...)

But I really like this picture.  It's an accurate portrayal of one of my children working with a puzzle.  You see, her face is filled with joy, or surprise or...

Actually, I'm not sure what the look on her face is supposed to be.  But she's cute.  End of rabbit trail.

Here is a more accurate portrayal of one of my children working on a puzzle:





He's not mine either but I'd adopt either of them in a heartbeat- boogers and all.  





I digress.




So as I was watching Jacob work on this puzzle, a certain image came to mind.  I thought about how many times I've carried around this giant puzzle piece in my life.  I've tried to manipulate the puzzle and force this piece in to the place where I'm certain it belongs.  I keep pushing and pushing, moving it around, turning it over, and still... it won't fit.

When I watch Jacob, occasionally I'll offer some assistance.  Most of the time he refuses because he really feels a sense of pride in his accomplishment when he is able to complete the puzzle on his own.  

Don't we all?

This particular time, I said to him, "Jacob, Mommy can help you with that piece.  I've got the picture right here, so I know what it's supposed to look like."  He scowled.  He was turning in to a bear.  I knew he was getting frustrated with the puzzle so I insisted, "Why don't you let mommy help you?"  

Jacob protested.  His toddler pride was wounded.  He insisted that he knew how to do it.   So I watched him pick his nose and wrestle a little more with that particular piece before finally conceding, "Mommy, can you please help me with this puzzle?"

At his request, I gladly took that piece from his hand (trading him for a tissue) and showed him a couple of other pieces that needed to be put in place before his troublesome piece would work.  

Once he let me help him with the puzzle, I didn't shame him for trying to get through it on his own.  I didn't make him feel bad about not wanting my help. Instead, I helped him by gently guiding each of the remaining pieces in to place... after which, we had a long talk about personal hygiene.  I'm kidding... sort of.  :)  

So, to my self, I thought again about this puzzle piece (these pieces) that I've been trying to fit in to my own "puzzle".  I realized that in many ways, I can still be like a toddler.  


And then I am reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Don't lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path."  

It's like turning to the one who made the puzzle and allowing Him to show you where each piece goes.  You may pick up a piece and try to put it in the puzzle, and He may take that piece away from you so he can set it on the sidelines until you are ready for it.  Sometimes other pieces need to be put in to place first, or the rest of the pieces won't fit the way they are supposed to. 

  

God is the "puzzle-maker".  He is the one who designed me, who mapped out this beautiful "puzzle" of my life.  He has a plan and it's so much more perfect than any plan I could make for myself.  He sees the bigger picture and I can only seem to focus on this big piece in front of me.  

So... I have control issues.   I wonder what other pieces I'm still trying to hold on to... 

(like maybe this analogy?)

What about you?




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

JESUS CALLING

The book: JESUS CALLING.

The effect: Life-Changing

A friend gave me this book a few months ago.  I'd heard tons of people talking about it.   I thought it was a "book" maybe like "The Shack".  I was wrong.  This "book" is actually a daily devotion.

I wasn't looking for a daily devotion or a book to read in my spare time (because, let's face it... I have five children.  I don't get spare time.)

But something deep inside of me knew I needed this.  Even though I have dozens of books and devotions on my bookshelf that I may never get to read, I knew I needed this one.

Not every single day is life-changing, but every single day takes me to a place in scripture that I need to be.

This is a copy of today's devotion.  I was both convicted and enlightened.  Take a look:


Here is the link if you'd like to order your own copy:

Click here to order from Amazon

And here is today's page from JESUS CALLING FOR KIDS (click here to purchase).


I feel the need to clarify- I don't actually get any payment from this.  I don't know Sarah and I'm not trying to make any money off of you.

We've been doing these studies together as a family all summer and I can honestly say we are different- all of us.

So why am I sharing this?  Because I feel like I was really sick for a really long time and a friend gave me a book that pointed me to the antidote- truth that I desperately needed, found in scripture.  And I thought- maybe there are others out there who are sick- who need a little encouragement, who need some peace.  The answer is not this book alone- the answer is found in the Holy Spirit.  But this book, written by Sarah Young, inspired by The Holy Spirit, is definitely a wonderful place to start.

Check it out.

Let me know what you think...

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom.

Monday, September 10, 2012

In Progress

I've read so many blogs lately that I haven't felt much like blogging.  I guess I feel like everything  that needed to be said, has been said... so I've simply not been writing.

So in the mean time, I've been doing the mom thing.  

While "mom"-ing, I've learned a few things about myself.  Some fun, some... not so much.  

Of our five children, two are still at home with me during the day.  Last week was... rough, to say the least.  I needed some peace and quiet but every time I turned around, I could find only conflicts that needed to be resolved- conflicts accompanied by whiny, needy, overly-exhausted, clingy toddlers... and housework.

One day, after listening to what felt like hours of arguing between my two and four-year-old, I lost it.  

As I was about to unleash my frustration on Jacob, (my four-year-old), I began my tongue-lashing with this: "Jacob!  If it doesn't help, DON'T SAY IT!"  And in that moment, lightning struck my brain.  Several scriptures came to mind and I was immediately humbled.  

Don't you love it when that happens?!  I was in the middle of a self-righteous anger flare-up and... BAM!  

In that moment, I thought of Ephesians 4:29 which says- "Don't use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful so your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."  

Smack. In my face.

Was my tone with Jacob good and helpful?  Were my words encouraging?  Not so much.  

So I read Ephesians 4.  The whole chapter.  I'll include some hi-lights here as they jumped out at me.

Ephesians 4
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace...  


15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

20 But that isn't what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy...
26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil...

29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.  31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you."

And so I've been thinking- not just about the way I speak to my littles.  I've been thinking about the way I treat everyone.  From my closest friends and family, to my worst enemies.  Am I living a life worthy of my calling?  Am I humble and gentle?  Patient?  Making allowances for the faults of others?  Nope.  Not always... but I'm working on this.




I'm a work in progress, friends... always in progress...

(more on this later).

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rain.

Do you remember this time last year when things were so dry here that lawns barely grew, and the ground underneath was like dessert rock- dry, cracked, and splitting from the lack of moisture?


As I was thinking about having to mow for the second time in two weeks, I noticed how different this year has been, in comparison to last year.  We have had countless rain showers and beautiful thunderstorms.  My grass has been in a steady rotation of mowing and growth, mowing and growth... and fire ants.

Last year, I was also able to spend every waking minute at the pool, collecting a delicious tan and avoiding housework.  *Sigh*  How I miss those days!  Or do  I...?

But in the midst of the perfect tan and messy house, I experienced a personal drought.  I felt completely cut off from God and isolated from all of my friends and family.  I withdrew in to this pretty scary place and found myself desperately longing for any trace of God.  I was jealous of my friends who seemed to be completely content, and even joyful in their circumstances while I just felt.... empty, dry, lacking growth.

And then these really huge trials started coming into our lives- storms.   It seemed like they came one, right after the other, right after the other and there were times when I felt like I might drown from the flash flood of rain that had come in to my life.

Then there was a break and as the clouds broke for the first time, I was able to see the rainbow, reminding me that He was not flooding our lives.  He was giving us exactly what we needed.  And after a consistent stream of storms (much like this summer), I noticed our family was closer than it had ever been.  I noticed how the Lord had drawn me in and how I had learned to depend on Him through the storms.

So after the storms... growth.

And then some dry days.

And then some more rain and more intimacy with God.

And... growth.

All of that to say- when I hear people whining about all of this rain we've been having, I just smile as I think to my self- Lord, if it brings you glory, if it bring us closer, if it produces growth... bring it.




Just a thought for this sunny Wednesday, as I'm preparing to mow.

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom