Tuesday, January 12, 2016

trust.

There are so many times in a day where I throw my hands up in the air... almost as if to say, "I can't do this." It's true that I can't... and I am reminded of that far more often than I would like to be.

I've been thinking about the word "trust" a lot lately. We tell our boys that we discipline them because we love them and that they can trust us because we want what is truly the best for them.

Every time I say this, I think, "we are basically indoctrinating them. We are setting their standard for 'trust.' They have no real reason to know whether or not to trust us." I'm not exactly a cynical person... I tend to give the benefit of the doubt and am usually surprised when people let me down. Which is funny... given my tendency to withhold my trust from God.

We have had a fairly serious situation arise in my family recently. As usual, I make a plan, tell everyone what I think they should do and how it should be handled, and then get frustrated when things don't go my way. It's usually at this point in my cycle of alleged control that I find myself, once again, with my hands in the air declaring, "I can't do this!" This is when I decide all there is that's left to do is trust God.

I say I believe the Bible is 100% true. All of those  verses about God's goodness, wisdom, faithfulness, unchanging character... I have several memorized and spout them off to my children throughout the day. But, when it's go time, there I am again, frustrated.

if I believe that I have no good apart from the Lord (Psalm 16:2), that He answers me and delivers me from my fears (Psalm 34:4), that He is my refuge, my fortress, my God, in whom I trust (Psalm 91:2), why is it that I believe in my small, finite self? I believe that me, with my limited knowledge and abilities, can really lean on my own understanding? Doesn't Proverbs 3 say that if I acknowledge Him in all my ways, HE is the one who will make straight my paths? I'm not capable of this on my own... which I find myself realizing time and time again.

So, here I am again, preaching God's wisdom and trustworthiness to myself... believing He is really the source of wisdom. I may not see His hand working all things together for my good and for the good of those who love Him, but His word says He is. He has proved Himself time and time again for all of eternity and has proved His love for me by sending His Son. I think that is worth resting in and trusting... knowing I can cast my anxieties on Him, since He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Because it's been a minute...

I haven't written in quite some time.

Most of my writing takes place in my journal... it's very harebrained and nonsensical with a few coherent thoughts, prayers and Bible verses included. My most recent entries are comprised of my inability to make a single New Year's resolution. I think it's the Type B in me that fights any idea of goal-setting. I am a fairly driven person... I do things if they make sense. I am an intense researcher and am willing to commit to a change in diet or exercise or method of parenting if I can justify it with lots of facts. So, that might be why I struggle so much with resolutions. They seem arbitrary... January seems arbitrary. All of that to say, I did pick a word for 2015... and it was "Rest" or "Abide." I allowed everything else to fall under the umbrella... I was going to focus on resting in Jesus and abiding in the Holy Spirit... so, when it came to goals or diets or planning, I prayed about it. A lot. And I can say that, despite a fairly difficult year, I never really felt out of control. There were fleeting moments where I felt untethered... but in my mind I never felt like I was in a place of unrest. I was able to rest in the fact that God was not surprised by what was happening and that he actually ordained it... that his not answering specific prayers was for a reason that my brain could not comprehend. Sometimes his denial of grace in our lives is actually a much larger grace that we cannot yet see. I am starting to see small glimpses of that but, in the meantime, I am trusting that he is, as he always has been, good.

For 2016 instead of choosing one word I chose two... a phrase I suppose. "Faithful obedience." Everything can fall under that umbrella. Even when I do not understand, I will act in faithful obedience and continue to trust that God's word is, as it always has been, true and he is for my good and his glory. That means being faithful in the great commission... inviting neighbors over. It also means being faithful in my marriage... pursuing my husband. Faithfulness by taking care of my body, mothering my children, loving my church family... all of these are simply ways I can obey God and show him to the world around me. Not because I am placing my hope in having a great marriage, body or obedient children... but because my hope is in Christ and what he did for me. That is the only way I can be obedient.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Loneliness and Pain



It's been a season of loneliness for us around here.

Our life is still in transition mode. As I referenced previously, God has flipped all of our seemingly stable tables over... and here we sit in the midst of the mess, chairs spinning, surrounded by glass shards and moldy crumbs. Our plans have been stripped away to reveal hidden idols and misplaced hopes. Now, we just sit staring at the wall... uncertain of what tomorrow brings.

Life is funny like that. You take what you know and, to the best of your ability, cautiously step forward... all the while looking around to make sure you didn't mess it up somehow. As you take more steps, you grow in confidence, eventually finding yourself skipping and running toward your goal. You bring others in and share excitedly the plans you think God has laid on your heart. It feels like it might work.

Then, it doesn't.

Since hindsight is 20/20, it seems so obvious now... from those first awkward toddling steps. Why didn't we see it then? Why didn't anyone tell us? Maybe, just maybe, because in those early stages, we were too afraid to listen? Too afraid to tell the right people that would challenge us? Too afraid to speak with any sort of certainty or confidence?

So, here it goes. A new season of uncertainty. Stumbling forward. Only now, after the major misstep of the last few years, we find ourselves a little jaded... a little weary of anyone who encourages us or alludes to a path of ease. With large chips on our shoulders and only each other to bear the burden, we find ourselves trudging on this new path... and in the process of leaving the only community where we really felt known, we are starting over with new community... trying to be vulnerable when vulnerability might be the scariest thing we can do at this moment.

Jesus promises to equip us through our times of struggle. Not to take them away... but to bear our burden and see us through. He has given us everything we will ever need. And, if we feel something is missing, maybe it's because we don't actually need it.

So, it's in this new season of weariness, that we face the painful process of being pruned of idols we didn't realize we had... with nothing fancy to hide behind as we introduce ourselves to a new community. It's just us. Stripped bare in this most fragile of states. We stand, our worn tired fingers gripping only each other's, hoping that this time might be different... maybe this time we will learn to be content in every situation. Maybe this time we will learn that Jesus really is enough... and our worthiness and value is found in Him alone.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Seasons

It's finally fall, the leaves are "somersaulting" as my three-year-old says, and I am finally turning a corner in health... starting to feel a little like myself again and regain some much-needed energy for chasing two small boys and growing a human... have I mentioned I am pregnant again?

We have been in a season of Transition with a capital T. It feels as if everything has been turned on its head and all that seemed stable is revealing cracks. I keep reaching out for something to grab on to... feeling so untethered and forgotten, as if I am going to blow away in the Oklahoma gusts. I can't shake this feeling... this feeling of walking on the moon. I just want to stop bouncing but there's no rope to grab to pull myself down to the ground.

All of our plans for the last three years seem to have been for naught. We strongly believe that God is in control and that things are falling into place, not out of order... but it's hard to live that out practically. Plans should always be held with an open hand... I've said that before... but that's a lot easier to say in theory, or when a morning trip to the zoo falls through. Not when you base all major life decisions on a trajectory that ends up being uprooted at the last moment... exposing all of the poor soil and lack of absorption. The plans that seemed so sturdy have now been revealed to be starving.

So, once again, we are in a season of holding out open hands, asking God, "what do we do?" Of course, given the state of the world and knowing that so many families are going through much more difficult times, I'm not silly enough to think that my situation is dire. But still, the confusion is real and my struggle to be an encouragement to my husband and anchor for my sons is not something to minimize. We are choosing to trust that, as always, God is not surprised by this and ordained it to bring Him glory and us an ultimate good. So, we rejoice in this season and recognize that we are not, in fact, untethered. God is always our tether, always our anchor. It's just when we focus so much on ourselves that we forget that. He sees the bigger picture... and for that we are grateful.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chili and smallness

Today it is unseasonably chilly. It is August 19th in Oklahoma and I am wearing a sweatshirt. What is this life? I took my toddler on a mom/son date today and I had to go out to the garage to find his fall clothes. I can't help but wonder how many perfectly planned first-day-of-school outfits were ruined today due to Mother Nature.

I went to the store to buy chili ingredients because I have this thing where if the temperature drops below 75, I think I have to eat chili. It's a real thing. I also think anything over 82 degrees warrants iced coffee. It is what it is. Jeff says I have seasonal tastes. I don't know that it's true but I am definitely a creature of habit and so I found myself driving to the store and perusing the aisles picking up the memorized ingredients of the beloved chili recipe my dad has made for years. I lamented not having enough cash left in my grocery budget for the week to buy cornmeal because WHAT IS CHILI WITHOUT CORNBREAD but, alas, I digress.

On a very much unrelated note, 

I have realized over the past few weeks that I am not as humble as I thought I was.

I think I thought because I don't feel like I really brag about myself or that I am (sometimes) willing to ask (certain) people for help, that makes me humble. That I have no problem admitting my faults or displaying weakness... also, that I will let people come over when my house is messy or talk about how crazy my kids make me. So, so humble. 

It's come to my attention lately that I think I have the mandate on ways people should live, be married, do community, whatever. Now, some of that isn't arbitrary... I do consult my Bible on occasion, but to think my way is the right way? So the opposite of humble.

I think there's a weird fine line between humility and firmness in belief. Jesus was obviously the picture of humility... but he didn't back down on his values or betray the gospel so people would like him... he kind of did the opposite. 

What areas is it okay to stand my ground? And when do we interject ourselves and when do we just let it play out? How do you stand firm in your beliefs in a humble way that doesn't betray your beliefs at the same time? 

The process of realizing I'm not humble has been, well, humiliating. But... it is a process of realizing my smallness. My limited authority. My limited ability and knowledge. Isn't this something to embrace? My life is small... but there is One who is bigger. Jesus did things in small ways... and the Bible references small things as things to be celebrated- a mustard seed, a boy's meager lunch, etc. My words, though to a small audience (in number and stature), can be multiplied if spoken through the guidance of the Holy Spirit... the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead all those years ago. Being humbled and reminded of my smallness is such a blessing... though a difficult one. I do not have the authority on anything... and thank God I don't. I must became less, he must become more.

So, I will make a pot of chili. No one will applaud. I will break up fights, lifeguard, read books, pick up toys, run baths, brush teeth and take out the dog. It is a small life I live. But with the biggest purpose. 


Monday, July 27, 2015

My ectopic pregnancy.

So, this space has been quiet for a few weeks. I couldn't imagine a way to put words here on the internet without acknowledging what has happened. And I couldn't imagine writing those words. So, I just stayed silent... metaphorically speaking.

Even now, the thought of writing out my story feels redundant. There was a lot of pain. There was a lot of blood. There was an ambulance and an emergency surgery. A baby was there. Then the baby was gone. Surgically removed from my body along with one of my fallopian tubes.

These past few weeks have been difficult to process. Did I choose to end the baby's life by agreeing to have this necessary life-saving procedure? So, was this an abortion? The baby would have died anyway... so, it was either I stay around and mourn this loss while parenting my other two... or die alongside this baby. Could I have done anything to prevent this? Why did this little baby get stuck along the way? So close to a place of life.

I can look back and see the Lord's hand in it all. My parents happened to be over the day I went to the ER. Had they not, I would have taken some tylenol and went to bed... where my ruptured fallopian tube would have filled my belly with blood. I may have woken up... maybe not. Shortly after the surgery, a sweet friend organized a care calendar. People have been over daily ever since. Holding my babies that I am not yet allowed to hold. Cleaning my home. Feeding my family. Filling my fridge. We all came down with strep a few days later. And we were still taken care of. God provided.
I was allowed to rest, recover, heal, process. Slowly. In the time that I needed.

The Lord is still working on my heart. I so desperately want to glorify and honor Him through this. I want the gospel to be known.

I will write again soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Another round of "What I'm Reading Wednesday"





Real talk: this post almost didn't happen today. Wanna know why? Because the second I got the boys to sleep I wanted to dive into a new book I am reading... but I forced myself to hold off so I could write about it!


Image result for everything i never told you

Currently Reading: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (pronounced "ing")
             This book has been recommended to me in several different ways, all from sources I respect. Guys, the first line of the book is: "Lydia is dead. But they don't know yet." Hooked! I am halfway through and only started it this morning. It's pretty suspenseful and an easy read. It's a good character study of different cultures within a family and is set in the 70s. 







So, I still haven't finished this book. I think I don't have the energy right now. It's a good book but not a quick read and I am prioritizing quick, mindless reads along with nonfiction that makes me a better human. I will try this book again later...

Image result for interrupted jen hatmaker

Re-read: Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
       I actually didn't realize I have already read this book until I got it from the library and started reading it... oops. It kind of just reinforces what I already am believing, but it is a good read for anyone that is kind of bored with the way the American church typically does Christianity. It challenges the norm.... as Jen Hatmaker is known for doing. I love her writing and she is so funny. You can check out her blog, too, and she has written several others books, as well. www.jenhatmaker.com



Sorry to keep this short... but I must go read! Until next time...