Monday, March 19, 2012

Taking My Promised Land

I've been doing this daily scripture reading with some friends of mine. The last few have been about the Israelites, the promised land, and their reluctance to take it because they feared the Canaanites more than they trusted God.

We have talked a lot about our personal reluctance or inability to walk in our promised lands due to doubt and disobedience. And it occurred to me today that I am living in my promised land; or at least part of it. And it is a land flowing with milk and honey but I am living as a captive NOT as one who possesses this land by the grace of God!

See I have two huge character flaws, selfishness and laziness. And the place they do the most damage is my home life. Because of these two traits I am a horrible housekeeper and I am sorely lacking on the motherhood front as well. I adore my son but I am a terrible disciplinarian and don't spend enough QUALITY time with Ben-even though I don't work and am with him almost all the time.

To make matters worse, or my self condemnation deeper, all I have ever wanted in life was to be a wife and mother, and God chose not only to fulfill that dream but even went a step further in blessing me with a husband that works incredibly hard to provide for our family so that I can be a stay at home mom.

My lack of success in these two areas are not a big secret to those who know me well and it's not something I deny, but I don't try hard enough to overcome them either. I'm usually wishing God would just magically transform me overnight or too busy listening to Satan telling me that nothing will ever change and I will never be any different.

Don't get me wrong, I do try to change, try to be better. I constantly read books about these subjects, I love day planners, schedules and to-do lists and use them in an attempt to better manage my time and just BE better at my *job*! And things do change, for a day or two maybe even a week or two but sooner or later the dishes pile back up, the laundry takes over the garage and the TV becomes the baby-sitter. Which leads me to question all too often why God chose me to be a mother when I am so bad at it and yet my older sister-who would make an incredible mom will never have kids of her own? And it makes me wallow in guilt and self pity.

But here's the truth:

THIS "promised land" was promised by and GIVEN to me by my
God, my Father. Might, power and majesty are just a few of HIS character traits!

Like the Israelites, this land is mine for the taking-which means I have to TAKE it. That is going to involve a battle, a fight which will require effort on my part-not just wishing for a magical moment of possession. And a big part of that fight is having the courage & wisdom to walk in the truth that Satan is a punk & a liar!

Though I can't see the big picture and I do sometimes question His choices, ultimately I know that God does not make mistakes; He knew what He was doing when he gave me the privilege of being Steve's wife and Ben's mom-which means I DO have the ability to successfully care for my home and my family

But mostly I have to remember that as God assured the Israelites the He would go before them and fight FOR them, I have to remember that I share that same covenant because I too am His!

God IS my victory and He IS here!

Father forgive me for living as a slave when you paid such a high price to free me. Help me to fight for this land each day knowing its Your power and strength that have already won the victory and I simply have to walk in the places You have provided for me, with the constant knowledge that this is all about You! I can do nothing apart from You and it is You will redeem this mess into a godly mother and homemaker not for my benefit-or even my families sake but for YOUR glory and renown!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Christmas Legacy


I love everything about it, the trees, the lights, the decorations, the music, the sound of the Salvation Army bell outside the stores, wrapping paper and bows... But most of all I love the beauty of a little baby born so long ago.

But there's all these lights and bows and songs....and GIFTS!! One of my favorite ways to express love and appreciation is giving gifts. I love thinking about what to get people, then shopping for them, then wrapping them in all kinds of decorative paper and bags and then GIVING them! It's one of the best parts of the season to me, and I have been known to go a bit over board. Ben's second Christmas was nothing short of an orgy of gluttony and honestly his birthdays have been that way too.

Last Christmas I decided we needed to take the year off from gifts and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. This year, well a friend told me awhile back that she knew of a family whose kids got 3 gifts only, because that's all Jesus got. I loved it! What a great tie in for smaller kids to help really bring home the Christmas story at a young age! And I determined that those gifts be meaningful and educational and not just more stuff.

Honestly, being on a three gift limit has been A LOT harder than just not buying anything. Christmas really is such a commercialized monster now, there's flashy toys and gifts EVERYWHERE you look. I understand why kids lose their minds this time of year because I come close to it as well. Last year I just turned a deaf ear to it all but this year since am actually shopping it's been harder to drown out the noise. And I want to buy Ben every cool toy I see.

And I can give in and do that, but it all comes down to this: WHAT is the Christmas Legacy I want my son to be left with when he's an adult?

Is it all the pomp and circumstance-as my husband calls it-or is it the truth that God's love for us is so tremendous He chose to come here, to this world in the most vulnerable state possible to do what nothing and no one else could do-bridge the gap and bring us to Him.

Is is about how many fancy toys he can get each year or how many times he can reach out and give love this season-and all year long?

I'm not a perfect parent and am FAR from a perfect Christian but I know what I want more than anything in the world is for my precious child to grow up knowing God, loving God and living each day in the truth that living life for God is what matters most because everything else flows from there.

And so on this last day of November I am grateful for God's tenacity and faithfulness to continually change my heart and open my eyes to the ways and places I can bring Him more into Ben's life and mind, and become closer to them both in the process.

With God's help I did finally narrow the scope and pick out 3 quality gifts plus a stocking stuffer! and I didn't give in to all the temptation floating around me, and my prayer is that I will continue building a legacy of a Christ centered Christmas, as well as a Christ centered life, more and more each year, because I know that is the gift my son most deserves.

"For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!" John 3:16

May you all experience His precious gift this Christmas season!

Friday, October 14, 2011

How do I love thee?

....let me count the ways.

Hmmm, sadly if I counted the ways I loved God, or rather showed my love it would most likely be in the single digits.

But one of the things I do love most about God is His tenacity, that tireless effort He puts forth to teach us, show us & mold us. So often I find myself faced with a "theme" during certain seasons of life, something that just keeps popping up over & over and you know it's the big guy saying "Hello! It's time to learn this now..."

A few months back our preacher, Lance, did a sermon on the "overlooked" sins, the sins of our heart rather than the ones of our flesh, and though he didn't mention it, my greatest sin is neglect. Neglect of my relationship with my God & my Jesus. The theme that had been following me lately is why is this so easy and so prevalent?

I think about days that I have plans to meet a friend for lunch, or an appointment with someone. I don't miss those short of sickness or massive injury, regardless of how tired or busy I am, so why is it so easy to blow off prayer, time in the word or just hanging out with my Savior? Why do I look at that as a choice and yet other commitments are set in stone?

The easy answer is "it's Satan!" and while there may be a level of validity in that, the sad thing is he certainly never has to work too hard, I so easily choose to sleep in rather than get up to pray, watch TV instead of reading Bible or any sort of study, or to just do whatever I feel like doing rather than what I need to be doing.

So what's the solution? Well when I figure it out I'll pass it on, but I think ultimately it's just doing it. Making a first step, asking Him for help, for strength, the ability to commit....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dying for Beauty, Part. 2

I got A LOT of feed back from the original blog post on this topic, but judging from some of the discussions it spurred I feel I need to clear some things up.....

But first, let me ask you a question: Who do you think is the most beautiful woman in the world? Now hold that thought.

I did not mean to infer in my previous blog that I think beauty or wanting to feel beautiful is bad or against God's will by any means. I love make-up, pretty clothes, having great hair days and getting my nails done-I am not suggesting women should not take part in any of that! I have no doubt God appreciates beauty-look at this amazing world he created! And I have no doubt God wants us to be confident, secure women-and feeling beautiful is a part of that.

The question is what is the source of your self worth, what makes you feel truly beautiful?

If my mood rises and falls on what the scale says-rather than the presence of the Holy Spirit within me-THAT is a problem.

If my self worth rests on what my complexion looks like-rather than the truth that my saviour chose to die for me-THAT is a problem.

The whole point I was trying to make is that I can spend all the time and money in the world on my appearance but if the most important part of my daily beauty regime is not time with my Heavenly Father, it's all meaningless and fleeting.

I want to be beautiful, but God is teaching me to desire eternal beauty these days- not the worldly beauty I have sought for most of my life.

So now back to my original question? Who is the most beautiful woman in the world and what is the source of her beauty? What is the source of yours? My prayer for you is that it is grounded in one simple statement:

"But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

That is perfect love. That is true beauty.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dying for Beauty

My husband, Steve and I are on vacation in Las Vegas right now. In reality, 98% of the population at large is made up of your average Joes. The ones wearing the "I'm with Stupid" shirts, carrying an extra 5-15lbs, bad hair days, sandals with socks, and the ones that just look like your next door neighbor. But I rarely see them, the ones that always catch my attention are those people. you know, the beautiful ones. Those girls with the perfect skin, brilliantly white teeth, perfectly cut & styled hair and the size 6 body in the most stylish clothes that make them look like they just stepped off the cover of Vogue-or Maxim (I am in Vegas remember!)

Yesterday we went down to the pool and of course I was subjected to looking at many of these beautiful women and you can see by the picture above what I look like these days.

When I was in High School I did not have skin issues. Maybe a pimple or two but for the most part, my complexion was flawless. At 26 the adult acne hit-I just turned 40 in March. I have tried just about everything out there to deal with it. It ebbs and flows but I rarely have times where my face is completely clear. For the past two months or so, I have been in the middle of a horrible outbreak that I cannot put a dent in.

I am vain. I hate looking in the mirror and seeing this reflection looking back at me, Some days I just want to scream and cry over the injustice of dealing with a "teenagers" issue at 40. Some days I do scream and cry over it. And I won't even get into my weight issues.

But then there is that voice in my heart. My creator telling me that he only makes art-not junk. The Holy Spirit who asks how dare I curse the temple in which He resides, and my Savior reminding me that my purpose here is to tell the world about Him and my appearance does not change that in any way.

1 Peter 3: 3-4 says "Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing gold or fine apparel, rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."

Puts a whole new spin on it right? So yay I'm free from all the worries about how I look!

If only it were that easy.

Real beauty comes by death. Death to self, death to giving credence the worlds standards of any part of life, death to anything that makes me forget for even a single moment that the only thing that will make me truly beautiful is a heart that is genuinely seeking God's will EVERY moment of EVERY day, and that gentle and quiet spirit that rests in the absolute assurance of HIS beauty, grace and truth.

But death is not easy, and it's never quick. As I ask Him everyday to help me let go of this, that I want so much to be sold out only to Him and His calling on my life He puts me to the test.

Our first day here, I resolved not to even think about my appearance but just enjoy my vacation & this time with my husband. We went to see Phantom that night and this really nice lady was sitting alone next to us. We hit it off as we had lots in common, she was from Arkansas and loved Phantom as much as I do. Then at the end of the show as we were leaving she turns to me and says "my husband and I run a dermatology clinic in Hot Springs, come see us, and we can make your skin beautiful."

Really? I asked God "now what am I to make of that?" His response: It's simple. I have a choice. I can continue to run after every lead for a cure to my acne or I can run after my God and HIS truth. Not easy by any means, but the thing is both roads lead to death. The death of my spirit or the death of my vanity. It's just deciding which death is more worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Go to the Woods

"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow out of life. To put to route all that was not life; and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived." -Henry David Thoreau

I love that book, I love that quote. It always makes me stop and take a breath and evaluate my life.

Live. Deliberately.

Two little words with SO much passion and power.

I have a friend who is struggling with both of her parents battling cancer right now and neither prognosis is very good. I woke up this morning thinking of her and Thoreau's words came to mind.

Live Deliberately. Suck the marrow out of life.

It's a great idea right, I don't think anyone ever reads these words and thinks "eh, that guy was full of crap..." We all want to get the most out of life but between our jobs, dirty diapers, carpools and everything else life throws at us living deliberately takes a back seat pretty quickly, it seems impossible.

But the bible tells us that Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10) I think He surely wants us to avoid the idea of coming to die and discovering we had not lived.

My parents moved here in November of 2009 and by July 2010 we had lost my father due to complications with bladder cancer. As I look back time and time again over those last few months and all the moments my family shared, all the precious memories we are left with, I realize I was living deliberately-by God's grace.

See I am pretty self focused most of the time, sucking the marrow usually involves what will make ME happy. But family was very important to my father and he passed that on to me which in turn gave me a desire to include both my and Steve's parents in every second of Ben's life possible. That is a gift from God, one I assumed for so long was just "my family loyalty" but now from this side of things I realize it was an avenue God used to bless me because I was open to it-even though I never realized it was Him. I wonder if I had been spending more time with with my heavenly Father during those days, more in tune to His leading, how much more marrow I might have sucked out of that time with my earthly father.

I know life moves fast and we all have obligations, not to mention things we just want to do. But it really is gone before you know it. So here is my challenge: go to the woods-just once a day. Pick out one moment of everyday; one moment with your kids, your spouse a friend or even that goofy co-worker and just stop to savor that moment. Be thankful for it, really breathe it in and let it become a sweet memory you can carry. It doesn't have to be something extravagant, sometimes the most simple moments are the sweetest. Just live it. Deliberately.

If you want more about getting the most out of life I recommend reading:
The Bible
Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
One Month to Live by Kerry & Chris Shook

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Day of Darkness

My father passed away last July. We lost him very early on a Saturday morning so I had that whole day to live with the reality that he was gone and my life was changed forever. Yet I remember waking up the next morning dazed and disoriented, the truth hanging so heavy over me yet still feeling that it was just a dream because the idea of my father really being dead was just not something my mind could fully grasp.

Today, I can't help but wonder if that's how the disciples and Jesus other followers felt that Saturday morning after the crucifixion. The Bible doesn't really tell us much about that day but we know they had been scattered the night before so I imagine that they all slowly made their way back together, back to the last place they had been with their friend and teacher, we know Mary Magdalene found them together- "their eyes wet with grief" (Mark 16). And we know that the women were taking care of the practicalities, preparing the spices for his body.

But I wonder most about Peter. He had been told that he would be the rock upon whom Jesus would build His church, yet He was also told he would deny his Saviour three times-and though Peter vehemently denied this was possible he of course did just that-and during the worst moments of Jesus' life to boot. So how must he have been feeling that next day? Crushing grief along with a heart breaking guilt. Do you think he talked about it with the others or merely sat in a corner alone. Feeling unworthy to even be among them at that point?

I know that's how my sin can make me feel. The last few months I have been on a path seeking God in a way I never have before and it has drawn me deeper and deeper with Him. I have experienced some of the most beautiful and fulfilling moments in my entire Christian walk and seen some amazing changes within myself as a result. Yet the past few days have found me very irritable and grumpy, very short on patience which has led me to be snippy with my husband (who is not a Christian) mean to my 2 1/2 year old son, and just simply not someone anyone would want to be around at times.

Isn't that a kind of denial of my Saviour? When I allow my flesh that much control so that I make others miserable and wreck any kind of witness I might be for my husband? So I too am struggling with some guilt today over my behavior. But the beauty of this relationship with my Jesus is that I don't have to. He died to cover my sin once and for all. No sacrifice is ever again needed to cover my iniquities. My responsibility in this is to recognize my sin, own it through confession, and then trust in God's word that His mercies ARE new every morning and today I get another chance to live a life that honors my heavenly Father.

And you can bank on this because the Bible declares it over and over: "He was wounded and bruised for our sins, He was beaten that we night have peace; He was lashed and WE were HEALED!! Isaiah 53: 5

So what about poor Peter all alone there in his pain and failure. Jesus knew how he would feel and the next morning when Mary Magdalene encountered the angel that told her Jesus had risen he said to her "Now go and give this message to the disciples including Peter: Jesus is going ahead to Galilee. You WILL see Him there, just as He told you before He died!" Jesus wanted to be sure Peter knew nothing had changed, that he was still beloved by his friend and saviour and in His ultimate mercy; Jesus made sure Peter was called out by name to prove it to him! (Mark 16:7-8)

So what is it you are wrestling with today, what guilt and sin is dragging you down and convincing you that you are not worthy of our Saviour's love? Friend let me assure that Jesus is asking His followers to proclaim this message to the world : "I have gone ahead to my Father's house but you WILL see me there! Tell everyone, including (insert YOUR name here)!"

His death was for ALL people EVERYWHERE and his blood covers every sin. Come to Him this weekend, let Him assure you that He is Risen, that you are forgiven!