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Archive for September, 2011

Live in Focus

Thursday was the day dreaded, the day anticipated. Swinger waiting by the door with some of his friends in the bag packed the night before. It was the morning a 7 year old would sleep hard while tissue and pieces of flesh would be removed from inside. A common surgery, routine removing tonsils and adenoids and shaving turbinates to make room for air to pass through with out struggle. So we were excited, and yet a little scared. Would this work?

He smiles courage all the way through, I smile back brave. This is a journey for us all.

He sits quiet, not unusual for this little boy. His heart is beating nervous, I am certain through his eyes. He is wondering how it is all going to happen. Daddy and Momma sit by watching, listening, answering the questions that lead us in.

Drawing is therapy for the bored and waiting. It is always his therapy of choice, his art of expression and creativity. One of the things we admire about him.

Strong hands, loving hands hold his fragile and vulnerable. A reminder of the Hands that hold us strong all day long in our fragile state. We pray and trust in His grip on us all. He is our strength, together and apart.

They soon take him away behind closed doors on his bed of wheels, still smiling brave. As a mother, my heart breaks forced apart from him… desiring to be there to keep him brave and strong and smiling but I know I must let him go alone so that he can find them in Him. I know I must leave him alone so that he will know he is not alone.

Now, we hold fast and wait. Pray, read words of encouragement, and write down thanks to help pass the time. Quieting our souls.

30 minutes later we hear the words from a passing nurse, “He did good.” We both breathe out relief and smile it back. It is over… kind of. He is wheeled in and begins slowly coming out of hard sleep. Confused and hurting he struggles to talk through tears. It was hard to see him like that, out of himself. Soon, a room where we wait to go home.

It was a hard wait but now we are home in recovery. He is resting, drinking, swallowing down the pain, and pain killers. Movies are on our agenda for rest and distraction from the pain. Popsicles, yogurts, shakes, applesauce, and jello are on the menu.

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It was a blessing, as it always is to be alone with Him. To realize again that He is enough for us. To understand for a moment that all of those little things that consumed us over the week are nothing, that the right here is all we have. That He is all we need. Life is a vapor, a mist, to small to waste on the little things in life that distract us from living fully in Him.

When you are sitting in a waiting room while your child is in surgery, minor or major because there are always uncertainties, you can think and see more clearly. Things come into focus and you begin to get a grip on this miracle of life. We see all the magic we missed because of the things we thought were so important in that moment, while grace passed us by unnoticed.

 We are surrounded by magic, don’t forget! Why do we, forget? Why do we forget that life is a miracle swirled in magic, painted with grace? Why is it so easy to get out of focus? Do we need this miracle to be threatened by darkness in order to see it?

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

I pray  for you the same that I pray for myself, that our families will “remember before our God and Father our work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” as did Paul of the Thessalonian believers. That they will see us living so captivated by grace that our labor is full of joy, full of magic. They must see our faith lived out in love, through the gospel and not distracted by the trivial little things in our day that seek only to destroy our mission. So, may we truly labor not in vain here for our husbands, our children, and our homes believing that it is here that we are called to advance the Kingdom of God.

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”To build a home of ideals means a life of sacrifice. It means a lot of work, and it’s never going to be over. These ideals don’t come easily to anyone; they come through battle. It’s an illusion to think that building a place of beauty ever happens naturally to anyone; it happens little by little … through hard work … when we cultivate our souls, our kids will have something to draw from .. the house with the life of God isn’t a perfect house, it’s a redeemed house! It’s not a home without sin, or without messes or without spilled milk, but we redeem one more moment … “ Sally Clarkson

How often we can forget and get caught in our ideals and perfection, let us remember that home is about the life, not about the perfection.

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Caught in the In-between

I am learning quietly how to live fully here while preparing to live fully in Costa Rica in a short 2 1/2 months. It is a strange place to be, kind of caught in the inbetween of here and there, now and soon to be. My home is still full where it really  needs to be on a journey to empty, we are not quite there… remember we are still very much living here. Full and busy days of school, church activities, and Upwards sports that we thought would be a great idea to do right before we leave to move out of the country.

How do I live in the inbetween of my two homes? Living thankful for the present while anticipating the glories of the future? I am caught in the in-between.

We have a garage sale, a major garage sale planned for the beginning of October. The date is haunting my days as well as December 12th our desired  date to sit beside metal wings and fly over the ocean blue and earth green into a new culture and people. It isn’t until now that the reality is beginning to flood through my heart, breaking down damns I have built up over the years. Something I wasn’t quite prepared for. Leaving always breaks hearts. I am not ready for mine to say goodbye.

Goodbye to my home. It is amazing how much your home can become apart of you, or how much you become apart of your home. How do you seperate your heart? Home is where your heart is right? I know, not physically but try telling that to my heart right now. I have grown attached. I have poured my heart into home, spent 11 years cultivating and adorning a gospel rich atmosphere into home here in the states.

The things in my home are an extentsion of my heart, my personality, my faith {my shared faith with my family} and is a reminder of grace extended.  They are things {yes just things} that I have bought, things I have made, things my children have made or bought for me, things that were given to me and have depth of meaning and feelings to their existence. Now, I must say goodbye. I must leave them all behind. A piece of my heart, myself dispersed in storage.

I will miss the little things that have grown into my heart… my little furry family members, sweet little comforting companions to us all, my year round Christmas lights over the kitchen sink, my always sunny with magical clouded hallway, the quiet corner in our bedroom where I have had many precious moments rocking my Josai, my nightstand stacked high with books, the glow of night lights that help penetrate the darkness, hot baths spent in prayer, things taken for granted like hot water and central air and heat, scripture painted and hung on the walls… and  the bathroom light left on through out the night for lightlings afraid of the dark. The comfort of it all… the normal contentment of the here.

I am slowly saying goodbye, for a season. A new season is coming upon us, we can feel the cool breeze on our faces and are anticipating all the glorious change it will bring with it.  I have been encouraged by His words this last week in 1 John 1:1-4 and the life I share with Christ knowing that He is all that I need, all that satisfies this thirsty soul. Although my heart is caught in the in-between of here and there, I am reminded that He is always here bringing us there…every step of the way. He is Immanuel, God with us. It is all His grace upon my life, the here, the in-between, and the there.  May I never, may we never forget that He is our home.

…you have made the LORD your dwelling place– the Most High, who is my refuge– Psalm 91:9

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Wild Souls

My children are my life {in a sense}. So when did my life become a duty and task to get done? When did they become another thing to check off of my checklist? Children are wild souls that live recklessly. You can’t put them on paper in a nice and neat straight line, one over the other. I have realized that my days have mostly become a desperate determination to tame them and what I have found myself accomplishing in my efforts is suppressing their beautiful God given spirits. But maybe it is me who needs to become more of a wild soul at times living recklessly. Maybe I need to throw down my checklist and run with the wind.

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

James 4:14

We are vanishing souls… into the wind. Wild souls if we would but set ourselves free to live by the Spirit. Life is a precious gem that we hold only for a little while, do not waste it. You can feel the cool breeze of fall coming and soon behind winter. One day it will be our final winter, how will we have lived fully in each season of our lives?

Checklists are good, order is good, living intentionally in organization is very good but not if they replace God and we begin to live worshiping them… while life, while wild souls pass us by…we must take time every now and then to venture off the path a little. Smell the beauty of this garden-life we live in. Run in it, turn circles in it {put a big twirly skirt on first} and worship.We live in a magical kingdom surrounded by magical grace, remember? Let’s not pretend that magic doesn’t exist. In each season there is beauty to be embraced magic to be lived in. I pray we don’t miss them!

Today, when things seem restricted and suffocating… when things are getting out of hand… stopbreathe in grace… remember, right now is all you have, enjoy this moment right where you are, living fully here. You may need to run with your family into the wind leaving the lines you have safely drawn behind, to be a wild soul in His wild kingdom. Don’t be afraid to color outside of the lines, live creatively… wildly worship the King.

 

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For Jesus, time alone with God was not an option… The gospel of Luke tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Lk. 5:16)… This is precisely where you and I so often miss out on all that God has for us. Unlike Jesus, we attempt to live life in our own energy. We think we can keep giving out without getting replenished. Then, wearied and weakened by the demands of life and ministry, we become impatient and annoyed with the very ones God has sent us to serve. Rather than exhibiting a gracious, calm, joyous spirit, we become uptight, frazzled, and frenzied [people], resenting, rather than welcoming, the people and opportunities God brings into our lives. ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Isn’t this so true? As a mother at the end of the day, sometimes by the end of breakfast, I am tired, weak, and struggling to just smile. Do you know what I mean? I need to be replenished, refreshed by the presence of God through a quiet time of rest. A time set apart for me and Him to be alone. A time to meditate on scripture and spend time in prayer. How can I expect to survive motherhood apart from His grace.

It was not an option for Jesus, the son of God. It is not an option for us, women of God. Our source of energy, of strength, of life comes from outside of ourselves, from Him. We must look for it in Him, not from within ourselves. We are empty, lacking in power. He is full, abundant in power.

Daily, it is required of me to humble myself before His word and throne. Coming always, empty of me so that I may be filled with more of Him. You see, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His ways.” Psalm 25:9 but if we are not willing to humble ourselves daily by coming to Him in sincere, heart broken meditation upon His word and in prayer then… we will not know His ways.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” the Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 119:105, words we should also take to heart. I desire to walk in the light of His word and in His strength but this only starts where I end. When we come to Him we must come empty and at the end of ourselves, surrendering our wills to His. I don’t know about you but I am not particulary one to wander around in the dark alone… I like some light along my path. I need this in my spiritual daily life, a light to my path.

Mothers, we will be of no use to our children trying to walk in our own strength and apart from His light. Time alone with God is NOT an option for us, it is a necessity for our survival and for the survival of our children. I must be in tune with God’s eternally beating heart so that I can teach, train, and deeply love my children with, not my power, but with the power of the gospel upon my life as I am soaked in the Word and in prayer. Let us abide in Him so that we might find our strength to be mothers exhibiting a gracious, calm, joyous spirit to the these little one’s God has placed in our lives! Choose a quiet time and a lonely place {as Jesus did} to withdraw to and rest in Him.

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“Love begins in humility… count others more significantly than ourselves.”

Love. Such a complex and yet simple word. We desire to live it out with one another, destined to fail determined to win. We all desperately need it and need to give it.

I am determined this morning to love my precious little babies, one who is fever-ish. Determined to show love sacraficial to my beloved husband on his 31st birthday. Determined to walk in love, destined to fail.

This morning I am thankful that His love never fails and always lights the way. In a little while the demands of the day, of my baby, my children will begin and I will begin to doubt my love and it is then that I will need to go to His love, to the humility of His love:: the cross. It is only there that I will find strength in brokeness to press on, determined to walk the rest of the day out in love. Love truly begins in humility, we can not truly begin to love unless we know how much we are loved. Christ died for us while we were still sinners, how are you doing with loving those around you that are sinners? Do you know how much you are loved? We must go to Him, abide in Him and remember…

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11

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I have been asking myself lately, how do we live from the inside out on those dark over cast days, when we just don’t feel like it? Honestly, I have been struggling with this for a few weeks as a fog of dispair has been hovering over my days, my mind, my heart, and over my holy vision for this high, holy, and crucial calling. A funk you could call it. Depression maybe. A pity party? Selfishness… ouch.

The fog I realize as I type is self inflicted, as most of my darkness is. Like Pooh and the little black rain cloud, I walk around in puddles of pity as a cloud of dispair follows me around all day.  I really just want to go to bed and drown in my pity rain.

But I can’t.

I know this. But I don’t feel it.

How do I pull myself up and take these steps of faith into the sunlight, the sunlight I can’t feel or see? How do I get outside of myself and find myself hidden in Him?

Nike would say… just do it… right? What would the Victory Himself say?

I already did it.

Yeah, yeah you say but how do I get out of this? What steps do I need to take?

Steps?

Isn’t He the only step we need, really? Is there a step higher?

I personally forget this reality sometimes and look for something more tangible to save me from myself. Laughable, I know. It is the great exchange, but how easily I forget. The only step of faith we need to take is towards Him, keeping our eyes on Him otherwise we will sink into ourselves, into lies. Listen to the story of Peter walking on the water. What happened when he took his eyes off of Jesus and placed his gaze on everything else going on around him and inside of him?

But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  Matthew 14:26-33

What about us? Life can become our sea, our chaos and the second we like Peter begin to doubt Him, take our eyes off of our Life Savior we begin to sink into the lies, the guilt, the failures, the shame, the abyss of knowing we will never be good enough or able to do enough. Can you relate?  Life can be overwhelming… we can easily begin to sink into the sea of the duties of biblical womanhood forgetting what it is all about, Him. So remember… He is walking on this sea that threatens.

So, I ask myself now, where is my faith? On me or on Him? It has been on me these last few weeks though I would have tried to convince you otherwise, because no one wants to admit that they are the problem, right? It is about time to cry out like Peter, “Lord save me” and begin to walk by faith and fix my eyes on Him who can cease the winds so that I can again more freely and more fully worship saying “Truly He is the Son of God!”

I know the demands of life can become overwhelming and threaten to pull us under and take our breath away but He promises that if we will but keep our eyes on Him, always walking towards Him and Him alone despite ourselves, putting our faith solely in the One who can calm to storm around us but more importantly the storm within us. He alone is our one step to peace, He is always enough.

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