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Posts Tagged ‘A God Thing’

                

. . . we were younger, thinner, had way more energy, and I can’t even go into how our hair has changed. We wandered around the then Reedy River Park with our friend Chris and took a few photos to commemorate our engagement. Fast forward ten years, three kids, the house, the job, the mini-van, yaddy yadda, and we found ourselves once again in the same (barely) park, commemorating our togetherness. It was such an interesting project, trying to recreate the energy (did I mention that we had more energy back then? Sheesh!), the DRAMA, the anticipation, the “oh, don’t you wish you had a love like us”-ness of our engagement. I look at those two crazy in love kids and think about all the things they’ve got ahead. So many memories I’d love to re-live, and so many I wish they never had to go through. I think back on choices, think back on places and people that will cross those paths. I get a little melancholy.

          

I’m a nostalgic person by nature, dwelling more on the past, painting it up all nice and then looking at the future with a weird combo of idealism and fear, often having to remind myself that this moment is what is important. Living in the moment isn’t my strong suit. When I first saw these comparisons, I have to admit that I struggled a little. It’s easy to see what’s lost (or gained I might say in both our cases!) It’s easy to long for certain parts of the past that we’ll never have again. Do any of you get all mopey sentimental like that? That also happens when I go on a college campus. I get all reminiscent about my younger days as if they were so great. Why do that? Where’s my living in the moment?

          

 

SIGH.

 

Then I saw the “out takes,” the shots taken when weren’t trying to be melodramatic, desperate-in-love twenty year olds again (which, I must add for the sake of my younger friends, there’s not a thing in the world wrong with being melodramatic, desperate in love and twenty all at the same time, so you go right on with your far off looks, retro filtered photos and vintage threads. I am with you!)

Anyway, it’s in the “oops! I wasn’t ready!” shots that I see it.

          

 

There’s my moment.

 

There’s my right now.

There’s my breath catching, tearing up “wow, honey, can you believe all that God has brought us through and yet here we are with our arms around each other in this old park, still working through each day together? Isn’t God amazingly kind to us?”

What a happy anniversary it turned out to be! 

Oh, I guess I already posted this one. Well, we weren’t pretending in this one!

 

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Righteous anger doesn’t come easily. In fact, I have almost no recollections of anger that was purely targeted on sin rather than the negative effects that my or someone else’s sin had on me. I like to think that my anger is righteous when Eliot scatters soggy toilet paper all over the bathroom, or when Gillian wears her nicest pair of shoes outside in the mud, but that’s always “my kindgom” anger. We sing this song at church that says, “break my heart for what breaks yours . . . ” and whenever we sing that I ask God to give me a heart that’s less accepting of the sin in and around me-a heart that is angry but pure. That just hasn’t happened very often for me. The other day though, I got angry. Thoroughly and utterly pissed at Satan’s messing with my motivations when the Spirit leads me to do something good. Some day’s it’s just constant. This past Sunday I felt like I couldn’t do a single thing without my motivations being questioned in my mind. On stage, in the green room, in the nursery, in my conversations, just everywhere. It was completely annoying! As if I don’t already second guess myself enough without those whispers of, “you just want to look spiritual,” and “you’re just saying that to impress them,” or “you’re just doing this to make her like you more.” At one point I was like, “shut up!” Then it hit me that I was angry about something and not actually sinning at the same time. It was a cool moment–a thank you for answering that prayer moment. That lasted for a few minutes, then I sort of started feeling sorry for myself and it went from good anger to not hoping in God. SIGH. I’m going to choose to be thankful for a little victory.  What do your righteous anger moments look like?  Do you have them?

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I cannot believe our first year is already over! It’s crazy how fast it went and how much fun we had. Granted, there were days I really didn’t want to teach and there days when , well, I just DIDN”T. Overall though, I LOVED the flexibility. I loved not having to leave my kids somewhere else every day. I loved knowing what they were learning. I loved watching Liam soak it all in and his excitement as he learned to read. Months and months ago I posted how God changed my heart toward homeschooling and gave me a desire that just wasn’t in me. So much more than I expected though was the way He sustained us and continued to bring joy and fulfillment even in the frustrating days. There was a tangible peace in knowing that I was doing what He wanted me to do. The whole year was a special gift. Why didn’t I expect that He would do that for us? Oh, me of little faith. *sigh* Clearly Liam wasn’t the only one learning lessons this past year.

Already this summer I’ve purchased some of next year’s curriculum and drafted the new schedule for next year. (Hopefully I’ll use this one, as last year was quite slap dash in the arena of scheduling!) How odd it is to be back to living in semesters!

I am so grateful and thankful to those of you who prayed for me, some of you in the middle of your own trying days teaching your children. I’m thankful for the encouraging texts I got from many of you in the middle of someone having a meltdown during Phonics or me having a panic attack over the mess made in art. So many of you, friends, fellow home teachers, brothers and sisters have been counted among my many gifts this year. Thank you so much!!!

Just for fun, I sat down with Liam to interview him on his first year of school and this is what he said.

M: What are your general thoughts on your first school year?L: I actually really did like the phonics. I know I did complain, but what it was teaching me was really very good. So, once I started doing the phonics I realized that it was teaching me to read and teaching me a lot about letters and stuff. I just really enjoyed it. 

M: So, would you say PHonics was your favorite subject?

L: Kind of. One of my favorite subjects was really actually art, but PHonics was really good. I really needed it if I was gonna read. I’m really glad mom could teach me some phonics. 

M: What was it like having your Nana come over twice a week to teach math?

L: I like that she can teach me math. She’s the only one I know that’s a good math teacher. (HA HA! He’s got that right! How does he know already that I’m awful at math?) My favorite part of Math was taking pictures of the seasons with Nana. The rest was a little frustrating because everything in math I had to memorize and just like the flash cards and the counting–all that kind of stuff was really hard. But I know that I have to do math because it’s really important, you know? 

M: How do you feel about going into the 1st grade next year?

 L: A little nervous. 

 M: Why?

 L: I’ve just never been in the first grade, so I don’t know what it’s gonna be like. 

 M: Are you excited about Gillian being in school with you? 

 L: A little. 

 M: What are you most looking forward to this summer?

 L: Swimming lessons!

So that’s it! One year down, only something like 17 to go–if we continue for the long haul.  Like Liam, I am very much looking forward to the pool this summer!! For now I leave you with some of Liam’s favorites from this years art lessons.

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. . . when grace pours down, unexpected, unsolicited even and I am covered in His love. Feeding babies, dancing the hokey pokey, scrounging up a lunch, admonishing my children for the HUNDREDTH time to get their room clean, right in the middle of an ordinary day and Father says, “stop and feel my presence. Know that I love you.” These moments are among the sweetest of the gifts. Joy flowing from nowhere inside my self, only from Jesus in me.
Assurance.

Affirmation.

Affection.

My love bucket being filled and then flowing out into those of the kidlets around me. Not in church, where the words of truth pour down on me and I’m surrounded by hundreds of other faith-fighters, not in the middle of sweeping and swelling melodies that massage the tension from my life wearied emotions.

Real.

Right here on my dirty kitchen floor, where my only commrades are squabling little ones and the only music is the skipping of the scratched Beatles album replaying over and over again, “Help! I need somebody!” The song’s even telling me that I can’t do it alone and I don’t get it. I trust in my own strength, but He won’t let me. Not for this special moment. In this special moment He turns my face toward him with the force of His own hand and tells me to look at him and I do and I see beauty.

And I give thanks.

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I have a story to tell. Why don’t I get asked to tell it?  

I have a blog. Why can’t it be good enough for hundreds, even thousands of readers?

I can sing. Why didn’t I get asked to lead worship?

I want to serve. Why am I not being used?

Do you ever find yourself bitterly asking yourself these questions? Shallow, self-centered, glory seeking questions that you wouldn’t utter to your closest friend, you cry out in your soul as you wonder why so many others are so useful and so used?  Over the past several months, in now too many circumstances for me go on ignoring it anymore,  there has been an awareness building in me in regards to my heart and how I look at service.

At a women’s conference filled with well known speakers, I look at these amazing women and see how their words touch others and I want to be like them. Reading the blogs and books of talented writers who are rocking the foundations of Christian women all over this world and I ponder why my words can’t come together so well and reach out to so many. Sitting with sisters in a room filled with worship, trying desperately to focus on God,  and my heart has to ask why I’m not on the  stage.  A ministry opportunity opens to us and then appears to be given to another and I cry out in jealousy at the prospect of someone else serving in my place.

All these moments have recently presented themselves to me and in each circumstance my heart has responded in worship–self worship.

I’ve wanted to serve, wanted to be used greatly, but only now, after asking such brazen questions do I realize that my heart has never been to serve God-not completely.  It’s been for me. For status, for popularity, for adoration, for inclusion, for affirmation. I see someone that I want to be like and I realize it’s because I want everyone else to look at me and want to be like me.  Even in asking God to change me, to make my motivations pure, it’s there, lingering in the background. A cyclical “change me so you can use me” sort of  begins and I’m left asking if there’s a single pure motive in there. Is it possible at all for me to ever be used without wanting to be seen by others as useful? It rang true for me this weekend as I heard over and over, “even my GOOD deeds are an extension of my own selfishness.”

Um, why is this sounding familiar?

This is where I’ve been camped out for a couple of weeks. I sat up late with Andy the other night and we talked about how much a mess we both still are and it’s hard to not be scared. Terrified, in fact, at where God seems to be leading us. What is God doing? Why would he be moving Andy toward service? How can two people who are so centered on self glorification possibly bring glory to Him without seeking some of their own? How can I lead others into worship, or not be a hinderance to a husband who leads others into worship, when I am secretly crying out to be the one worshiped?

I wanted to wrap up this post with a nice little scripture and an assurance that God has rescued me from my self idolatry. I had hoped to have this lesson learned before I wrote about it, so that it could be an encouragement, could be, dare I say, USED even (good grief!), to help someone else facing this struggle. I can’t though. I can’t claim to have a heart cleansed of this self-seeking, fame-craving faithlessness. But yesterday, I was reminded of the thing I do have.

HOPE.

So I sit here, holding on to hope, REMEMBERING that God is bigger than my selfishness and self adoration. He wants my heart and I can rest knowing that some day, I won’t even be capable of self worship because I will be thoroughly and completely changed. All my adoration will be for Him alone.

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895. Temporary bugs tattooed to soft little tummies and arms

896. Surprise kisses from Liam

897. Gillian feeling better

899. Falling asleep at the computer

900. Cleaning out the van after an incident involving vomit

901. Liam saying he enjoys working together as a family

902. Beautiful muddy bottoms

903. He is Risen!

904. Spending Easter morning worship with my church family

905. Resurrection feast-thinking of the “someday” feast

906. Servant-leader husbands cleaning the kitchen

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This morning I was crafting a beautiful, spiritual, probably moving post for you all, when Andy and I both locked into our own kingdom stuff and ended up bickering most of the morning. Bye bye post. Hello mess. Bye bye spiritual feeling. Hello selfishness. Thankfully, He is kind enough to remind me that feeling spiritual means nothing.

There’s grace in that.

I read this morning (in the early part, when I was still feeling spiritual) in 2 Corinthians 4:16 that we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

This day, these moments, that bickering, these words and the pounding, scraping, stomping of the roofers above (that in itself a gift) are all my grace gifts today and are are a part of me being renewed today. I am thankful for them and thankful to know that tomorrow, I will not be the same as I was when I woke up this morning, because I will be one day more changed, one day more holy, one day closer to returning to that place where where I have perfect, communion with the Father.

 

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The past two days have been full of grace.

I have not.

It’s been a snowball of sinful attitudes and behaviors. You know what that’s like, when you start with one thing, and giving in to that one thing begins this process of seemingly breaking down all the good you’ve built up?  Then it’s as if all the good you’ve done in the last hours, days, whatever, is negated due to this failure.  As I type it, I hear the “me” language, the “I can do it language.” How can I seriously still think that any good that I do is of my own strength? If I can’t do any good on my own, how can I assume that the good is good no longer once I fail? It’s stupid, I know, and totally contrary to this whole idea of counting grace gifts that I’ve been living for the last week, but that’s where I find myself when I’ve messed up.

I messed up a lot in the last two days, in several different situations and it hasn’t been pretty. Not that it ever is, but there are some sins that you can own up to, repent of and move on from more easily than others. I don’t know if everyone is this way, but there are certain sins that I feel I should be beyond by now. There are certain feelings I expect to be  past–things like jealousy and envy, feelings of competition and catty comparisons or criticisms. I’m too mature for those things. I’m too secure in my position as God’s girl to be pulling that crap.  I’m a grown woman now and I deal with understandable and reasonable sins, like living in fear over losing children, anxiety surrounding our finances, losing my temper with three severely needy kidlets and not trusting that God will guide our family. Those are understandable  . . . . . and I’ve outgrown jr. high behavior.

 

So who wants to be the first to call Bullshit?

Because that’s what it is. Those things are all over me and all throughout me like worms on a corpse and it’s so foul. Why these? Why these embarrassing sins? Did you ever ask God to let you struggle with a different sin? A “cooler” sin?

What?!?!

What a stupid request!

If I’m being honest though, I have to tell you that I have asked that. “Can’t I be the person who works so hard at pleasing other people that they don’t have time to take care of their own things?” (No, ’cause I’m lazy) “Could I be the person who drinks too much? “(No, ’cause I can’t afford enough cocktails for that and I don’t drink beer.) “Maybe my big sin could be that I love money and have too much?” (oh, that could even be fun for a while!) “If I HAVE to sin, can’t I struggle with something less infantile and more . . .uh . . . sensible?”

At this point I can really only laugh at myself.

I laugh and I sigh, but I’m not going to cry about it anymore. I remember that everything is grace.

Everything is a gift.

Everything is placed before me, wrapped in love by my Maker and I can only find joy in thanking him for the endowment of it. Even the “babyish” sins–the defensive arguing with spouse, the critical judgement of a friend’s habits, the jealousy over joys not my own, the offense taken where none was intended. All are gifts.

All bring the remembrance . . . .

that brings that gratitude . . . .

that ushers in joy.

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