Saturday, January 31, 2015

Take Me Out of the Box- Stop the Labels

I have watched in amazement and sometimes with startling awareness that I have become one of "those" moms.

You know who I mean... I'm the homeschooling mom with the SUV- can't have a minivan because it wouldn't hold all my kids carseats. I'm toting 5 kids to doctor's appointments, grocery stores, chiropractor, library, um, pretty much everywhere.

I get stares like I'm a circus act. Oh hello, it's just me with a normal outing with my fabulous 5? Oh what, a freak show? No, I think not. I think you've confused us with someone else. We're totally normal.  As I'm trying to stop my four year old's nose bleed and set up my class for Classical Conversations while ordering medical supplies on the phone.

What have I become????

Stop. Hold the presses. Why are we so quick to label? Myself? Others? Comparing? Who is better? Who is more "natural"? Who is more frugal? Who is doing the best job educating? Parenting? Healthy foods? Creative arts? Music lessons? Who has got their crap together????

Why is it when we look around or when we look at the person reflected in the mirror that there is some label we slap on them and ourselves, some "box" we are tempted to put people in.

Aren't we all unique? We are each given our own unique stories that are comprised of different circumstances, challenges, blessings, difficulties, adversities, etc.

I need to let go of the quick judgements I place on myself and others and instead redefine ourselves by how God sees us- His creations. His unique handiwork. each of us have strengths. Each of us have weaknesses. We are all, each one made in the image of God!

I want to strive to love others... and myself. Stop comparing and beating myself up or tearing others down to feel better about myself. Instead I turn to the Lord and glory in what He has made. Let me be quick to encourage. To love others. To stir myself and others toward good works.

Thank you Jesus that you removed all my former labels: sinner, rejected, abandoned, forsaken, with God's anger directed at me. You took the anger. You absorbed the punishment and paid the price in full on the cross. You died and YOU ROSE AGAIN and have given me your righteousness instead of wrath. I am now loved, whole, complete, being made and transformed into the image of Christ, I am redeemed, cherished, chosen. And if you have allowed Jesus to be your Savior then these titles belong to you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Changing Pants & My Feelings

I have had to change my pants many times today. Not as though this is a new thing. After all I do have four boys.

I got dressed into my clothes for the day. Then the rabbit peed on me and all over my bed. That was not fun. So I changed. Then Ian knocked out his two front teeth (thankfully they were his baby teeth) but it was traumatic and bloody and the kids were hysterically hyperventilating. He needed a cold wet cloth which of course leaked all over me because I was holding him. So changed again.

So you know kids were in and out of the snow this morning. They came trudging in with pink cheeks and fingers cold as their mittens didn't prevent the snow from melting and seeping through. We've done our "grammar" review for CC today. We made pancakes for lunch. I read to them for a long time and then fell asleep on the couch. They put together two different puzzles of the U.S.

I prepared for tutoring on Thursday.

Days are long and wild and full. Predictable and unpredictable. Subtle slides of me wanting to fall out of my good habits and away from my new healthy changes. And me fighting the resistance with everything I have. It's so easy to want to give in and move away from good new habits. I struggle. Some days it's easier to drink my green drink I make in my Nutribullet and to juice my veggies. Other times it's a struggle to just get out of bed. To keep my eyes open. To press on.

Here is my comfort. God doesn't change. His feelings for me don't change like mine do. He's not fickle. Or wishy-washy. He doesn't just love me and care me when "He feels like it." It's a good thing God is so much greater and above me. He's not bound by my weaknesses like I am. He's an overcomer. And since I am in Him. I too am an overcomer. My record is perfect because I have Christ's record attributed to me.

I'm not perfect. I'm a total broken mess, failure, bad mom, wife, daughter, friend, etc. But In Christ I have a perfect record. It's as though I've never failed as a wife, never yelled at my kids, never struggled with doing the right thing.

So I can rest in that even though I'm unable. He was. He is. He will be. He is faithful and will hold me til the end. I am secure and hidden in Him.

And so even the days like today where I don't feel like I'm up for the tasks ahead of me. Where I don't feel like teaching. Where I don't feel like getting out of bed... it's enough. It's okay. He's got me. And I have Him.

So whether you feel weak or strong. Whether you're one up on the day or falling dreadfully behind if you're faith, hope, and trust is in Jesus Christ, then you are secure. It doesn't matter how you feel. It doesn't matter what you've gotten done or what you haven't accomplished. Your feelings don't equal your standing before God.

So thank you sweet Savior. Thank you Jesus. For the snow my children got to see and experience and revel in this morning. Thank you that Ian's teeth were just his baby teeth. Thank you for pancakes and syrup. thank you for dishwashers and washing machines and dryer. Thank you for a warm home. Thank you for anti-depressant medication. Thank you for bunnies that bring joy and snuggles even if they do sometimes pee on our beds. Thank you for hot cocoa. And more importantly thank you for the work you did, that i never could. Thank you for your perfect work. For your death and resurrection and your ascension. Thank you that my Hope is in You and that hope will NEVER disappoint!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Christmas Miracles & New Year's Wishes.

I had him cornered. We're at a Christmas party and my pastor's on the couch and I plop down next to him with a stacked plate and  I look him directly in the face, "Do you still believe in Miracles?" and without batting an eye he emphatically states, "Yes!"

I had been wrestling... do miracles still occur? How do I trust and put faith in my God to heal, to provide, to do the inexplicable, and still believe He's good if He doesn't come through in the way I hope and expect Him to?

I had just watched It's a Wonderful Life a couple days prior and I was struck with the thought, but what if there was no "miracle"? What if the townspeople didn't show up and bring money? What if they were selfish or out of town or unavailable? What if they had nothing to give themselves? What if George Bailey ended up going to jail for a crime he didn't commit? I mean, it's wonderful that he recognizes the importance of his life and sees how it affects those around him but what if in the end he wasn't spared and saved by the generosity of those he's given his life to?

What if the good guy doesn't win?
What if the cancer doesn't go away?
What if the bill doesn't get paid?
What if the pantry stays empty?

I had been praying in November and felt I was supposed to do a "40 days" in December. Freeda Bowers book, "Give Me 40 Days" has been something I've done often when I'm feeling desperate and has been a source of encouragement and a re-directing of myself to the Lord.

Asking the Lord to meet me in a significant way. Asking for Him to "show up". I have done this before. Specifically setting aside 40 days to spend 40 minutes a day with the Lord.

It's not some legalistic ritual. It's not some game to get what I want. It's not a if I do this, then I will get that. It's a time that I set apart to seek the Lord... but also to pray on behalf of others needs. It increases my awareness of my need for Jesus and for His presence in my life.

What I've come away with is not a fix to my problems... but an increasing awareness of God and what He's doing. I become aware that He is the One meeting my needs! I am aware that He is at work. He is at work whether I'm praying or not. Whether I'm faithfully obeying or not. Whether I'm reading my Bible or not. He's at work. He's not limited to my obedience nor is He deterred by my failing. 

He is. He is enough. He is provider, sustainer, and Redeemer. He is mending bridges and paving ways. But when I stop to take time to focus on Him I am more aware of what He's doing and I don't see it as simply as me "getting what I've deserved or earned or worked hard for". I see His hand in the simple and mundane to the miraculous.

I asked for His help regarding some specific things and He has met those needs. But more imporantly He is changing MY mind and perspective. He's changing my heart. He is taking the fear away. The fear of scarcity and "not enough". The fear from my lack of "security".

God provided groceries for us not just once but 3 times! He provided extra money for Christmas - thank you anonymous giver! He provided a bonus that means we are able to pay rent tomorrow!

Other miracles:

~I put a little more in my cart than I had money for. It felt uncomfortable. Awkward. Tissues-we were out. Some other things we needed. But where was the money going to come from? Was I about to get embarrassed  and have to tell the cashier to put stuff back? I acted in faith. I did what I felt I was supposed to. Unexpectedly, I saw a friend at the store. Someone I hadn't seen in a while. She checked out a couple people ahead of me and came over after. She handed me a gift card which covered the extra things in my cart. God is an amazing, abundant provider! I don't think she understood how much it meant to me! And how God had answered my little step of faith.

~I had to go  to SSI to work on the boys disability situation. I had all five kids and was there for over 5 & a half hours! I did the best I could to resolve the situation. These processes are inefficient and time consuming and often unnecessary. But I was able to be at peace. I played games with the kids. Had them work on Christmas crafts. We did school and drew with markers on white paper.

The kids talked to strangers. Peter drew a picture and gave it to a homeless man. You are not allowed to eat or drink in the room. The kids and I had to sit on the floor against a wall. all the seats were taken. But we were able to persevere. We laughed. We made up silly songs. And the Lord had me plan what to bring. Multiplication and Addition charts and dry erase markers. Gum they could chew. I led them into the hall for a 5 minute respite of chocolate chip muffins before we went back into the room. The kids did amazing.

~I had told Mike we should write a list "in faith" of how we will spend the money if the situation gets rectified... piles of needs and things that need fixing. I wrote each one down and we prayed. We didn't believe the situation would really get fixed but we asked the Lord in faith and just trusted Him to provide for our needs.

These processes can take up to 60 days to resolve. I had been working on this since September. I have never received a call from SSI so you can imagine my surprise when the next day I got a message asking me to come back and sign some paperwork so they could "release the funds".  Astounding! The following week a friend watched the kids so I could go by myself. I was able to finish the paperwork, in the next 30 days we will have the money to purchase Samuel's medical supplies/tools that we need!

I have seen God provide and care for me in special ways. In unexpected kindness from my friends, from strangers, from anonymous givers.

But here's the miracle. I think it's the miracle that George Bailey had... it wasn't in the physical and financial needs being met... that was kind of the Lord but not necessary... it was my heart. The transformation of a heart that was afraid, anxious, and overwhelmed to one that trusted in the Lord. My hope was not in my circumstances being fixed... but in knowing that God promised to never leave or forsake me. 

He provided, more than enough. I think what I really needed to know is that God hadn't forgotten me. He is present. He is with me. He sees me. He knows. He cares. And I can see the abundance from Him. From surprise groceries left at our door to the painted sky as the sunsets to holding my husband's grandfathers hand in the nursing home. I see each gift more clearly and recognize that all good things come from Him. They're not of my own doing, making or deserving... It's grace. His grace given to me. 

Praying for continued miracles for this year. A transformation of my mind, body, and soul. The Lord is encouraging me to trust Him and to keep acting in faith. I also want to be generous. 

I hope I can give of myself: my heart, my time, my prayers, my love, my acts of service, my money, my food....

Faith, Generosity, Transformation.

Recount the faithfulness of God and look forward to the continued goodness that we will see! Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Wishing you a New Year where you see the Lord clearly and see His abundance in your life... in the simple and mundane and in the miraculous.