Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Tomato Said it Best

If you've been a parent for long, surely God has used veggie tales at some point to remind you of a spiritual truth. It sounds ridiculous, but there has been more than one occasion that I've found myself crying over a talking vegetable reading a Bible verse. Go ahead...laugh....keep laughing.....
Okay, now, can we get on with this?
The cool thing about God is that he knows what we need before we do. Like last night, when I watched the Gideon movie with Linco.
There were so many things that I thought were amazing about Gideon's story. How he trusted the Lord to provide his strength, How God had chosen him to carry out this trust and see a great working of God's strength, and that he was weak.

So much I could relate to. But then I clicked off the power, and started to put Lincoln to bed. Little did I know I was about to face the hardest battle I had ever had as a mommy.

We started going through the bedtime routine and he started to disobey. I began dealing with it, and he continued to refuse to disobey. I can't describe specifically what was going on, but I began to flounder when I saw nothing I told him to do had any weight. I would tell him to do something, and he'd coldly stare back at me and calmly ignore me as if I had said nothing. I kept telling him to do the same thing and he continued to refuse.
This went on for entirely too long (me feeling frantic and terrified of how long this would happen--I HAD no collateral) until I threatened to throw away his beloved (and most prized) Larry Boy mobile.

Guess what...It's gone (your kid might be getting it for Christmas). That....was really hard, and later I shed many more tears about having to throw away the Larry Mobile (I know...in John's words "It's just a toy".)

Finally, the straw that broke it was threatening to throw away his favorite stuffed animal (which I would have done, and hated even more). He complied and broke down.

Okay....before you start on me--let me tell you that I know! I look back and see all the things I could have done differently, I could have set a timer and given him some time to think and walked away--prayed my face off--then walked back and asked him to make a different choice. I could have been more loving and reassuring in the midst of it. But in it...I was pathetic.
I put him to bed, called John and bawled my eyes out all night long. Bemoaning my "unfit"-tedness as a mother, the fact that I'm ruining my kids and that surely they're going to end up as drug dealers or drag queens some day because of my lack of wisdom. I finally fell asleep, way earlier than normal, exhausted and with eyes so swollen from crying I couldn't see out of them (but somehow resisted the urge to drown my sorrows in an entire bag of Halloween candy).
This morning, I woke up feeling like I never wanted to set foot on the ground again, and I sure didn't want to do the mommy thing today.
I got up anyways, and began to read my Bible. I decided to read....Gideon.

Here's what God showed me:
1. God refused to drive out the enemies of the Israelites as he did before as a test of their reliance on him (Judges 2:17-18). Isn't this the same thing as my situation? Every time Lincoln disobeys, and I have a chance to deal with his disobedience, I am doing so out of obedience to God. I am addressing Linc's rebellion because I have to obey God. It's a chance for me to respond to God with obedience, and respond to my kids with love and gentleness (instead of what I want to do, which is ignore it and look the other way). The point is not to get really good kids, but to grow closer to God in the way I parent (or do anything for that matter).

2. "When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." (Judges 6:12) God is also with me, the outcome of my kids depends not on my own strength or amazing parenting, but to God, who will work in Lincoln's life in some way, no matter what I do. I put way too much stock in my own actions. Also, he called Gideon a mighty warrior, even before he was one. Just like God sees me as all the wonderful and perfect things I have inherited in Christ, even before I have become them.

3. In Hebrews 11:34 Gideon is spoken of in the "Faith hall of fame" as being one "whose weakness was turned into strength" and "who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies". This is all attributed to Gideon because of his faith in God. Not because of his skill, wisdom, or quickness with the sword. How--too- can my weakness not be turned into strength as I respond to God with obedience?

4. "The Lord turned to him and said "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" Judges 6:14
Now, we can know from scripture and the promises of God to us who believe two things: 1. We have strength too (God's spirit lives in us) and 2. He has chosen us.
I have been chosen to take care of these children I've been given. I could give you countless scriptures about how God has appointed us as mommies to be there with our kids, training and raising them. So there's no mistake there. Also, I have the strength from God's Spirit living in me to do good to my kids, and obey God.
All it takes is applying that faith in this in my own life.

So today, I'm beginning fresh. Believing in what God says, and holding on to this whole "mighty warrior" thing. If you see me at the grocery store wearing my kids plastic costume armor...now you know. Have a great day, mighty warrior!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Seeing Dimly

It's been a while. I mean...I've missed you! But I have to say I've just been through a bit of a desert in my spiritual walk, a time where it was so hard to hear from God. It was painful, and hard, but the revelation at the other end was worth every moment of suffering, and it's with much rejoicing I'm writing now.

There are...eight mirrors in my home. Not to mention many things that can be used as mirrors. Maybe this wouldn't pose a problem in your home, but here...it does.
Everywhere I look, do you know what I see? Myself. Constantly. It's me, my thighs, my hair, my skin, my giant pores, my tummy, my stretch marks, my outfit, it's nauseating really. (Not that I hate myself, I realize God has made me and I am His creation). Recently, I was praying, asking God to speak to me, asking him to draw me back to him, to reveal any sin stealing me from him (kind of like taking inventory) and I realized many things had begun creeping in that were drifting my soul. I had begun comparing myself, I had begun comparing even my dear husband (to other men--I am ashamed to admit, this path didn't lead me to good places), not only that but I was constantly taking a visual "sum up" of myself in the mirror (constantly).

So one morning in my time alone before God I began reading about this process and one of the possible explanations was pride. And that's right about when the Lord metaphorically picked up the Strong's Concordance (hardback version) and smacked me dead in the forehead (lovingly, mind you).

I was completely eaten up inside with self.
A verse comes to mind: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." Galatians 6:7-9

And what does the world, and even more my home and it's 8 mirrors, constantly tell me to sow? My flesh! My body! My hair, clothes, self, self, self.

So I covered up every mirror in my home. I took trash bags, cut them up and taped them to every reflective surface I come into contact with. And I prayed that God would bless it as a fast and a sacrifice. You know the Lord, He is so faithful--He did just that.
As I'm writing verses on my trash bag mirrors, God shows me this. I have been looking to the mirrors over and over again to tell me how beautiful I am. To show me how I look, what I need to work on, what looks good and what doesn't, but I need to turn to God's word as my mirror.
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

Doing this has generously and exponentially increased the overflow of my soul. Which is a fancy way of saying, I'm seeing much more clearly things eternal. In fact, I'm seriously contemplating getting rid of many of my mirrors altogether.

Because what God sees as beautiful and lovely is not what this world claims is lovely (but you already knew that). (1 Peter 3:3-4, Prov 31:30,, 1 Sam 16:7). But above that when I look in God's word, do you know what he showed me? (This is my favorite part, I can hardly wait to tell you).

When I look into the mirror of God's word, and look to see how beautiful I am, do you know what God says he sees?
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

When He looks at me--He sees the righteousness of Christ. How can I ever compete with that (even on my best day).

So the next time you look in the mirror, I want you to think this-- "We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7, and rejoice friend, at how much better you look to God.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

God of the uglies

I know, mull over the picture, stare at it in unbelief, relish the thought that I could actually look like that (minus a few photoshopped out teeth) and get over the fact that I publicly posted it for people to view.
Now...can we get on with it?
It is with tears that I've pressed up under the burden of this truth.
John came home this week after being gone for 7 days...now in mommy time...that's like an eternity (I felt like Abigail Adams).
After 3 days of not showering or washing my face (I am not exaggerating) and giving a baby shower that same evening all I had time to do was put on a t-shirt that said "I love my husband" (yes....really) and a pair of jeans.
Now get this picture rolling around in the tumbler of your mind. Greasy pony tail (that sticks more out from my head like a rat tail than pony) pipe cleaner pieces of hair that are kinked from being slept on sticking out all over my head, a big zit on my chin, coffee breath, and 3 day old mascara collecting under my eyes.
I looked awful...it was factual.
And here comes my sweet adoring (and newly tanned) hubby waltzing in the door with a giant bouquet of flowers and a dazzling smile.
I was so embarassed.
I don't think I've ever felt uglier.
And I finally told him, "I'm so embarassed you're seeing me this way, I look awful." To which he responded, "Honey you're beautiful." To which I argued, objected, and stubbornly made my case to prove him otherwise, citing all aforementioned ugliness.
Then he looked at me with the most sincere face I've ever seen and said, "you have no idea." Which implied..."you have no idea how lovely you are to me."
(Here come the tears again)
I started crying, feeling so undeserving of such a sparkling compliment, and I bookmarked it in my mind knowing that somehow, God would bring me back to it.
This morning, God opened the book right back to that moment and showed me His translation.
I prayed this morning that I would not be hard-hearted, but that God would allow me to be broken over my sins, to see them appropriately, and to grieve over them. Off we went to church, happily ignorant of the pierce that would come to my heart.
I became so raw and aware of my sin during the pastor's sermon that all I could do was sob (and wipe my nose on John's shirt--something he graciously ignored).
And here's the most glorious realization that I have had come to my heart over and over again.
It is 100% by grace we are saved.
You know those hand cleaners that all boast they kill 99.9% of germs? And we're all left to wonder (aloud at times, if you're like me) what the other .1% is that it misses? Well, the cross of Christ effectively kills 100% of our guilt, condemnation and sin before God when we accept it in faith. Going in after that and trying to use something else to supplement and kill the other .1% that's left is not only redundant but it drags us down.
You know that verse in Phillippians where Paul talks about all his past credentials and how he counts them as "loss"?
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." Php. 3:7
I recently read in a book that this word "loss" is found somewhere else in the New Testament in Luke's description of Paul's voyage in a violent storm, and the "loss" of cargo on that voyage.
See they would often have to throw cargo over to save a sinking ship. And it would be hard to let go of some of the stuff, because...well...it's your stuff. But that if we don't let it go we'll sink.
That's the same image Paul makes when he talks about throwing overboard the stuff he used to hang his religious faith on. All the "stuff" that made him righteous. He talks about it as cargo how that will drag us down in a big fat righteous sinking ship if we let it.
We have to toss it overboard because if we try and keep it, hold onto it, we'll go down in a sinking ship, thinking we're saving ourselves but forsaking the triumph of the cross.
So I go back to my original story.
It was only in knowing how ugly I looked that John's thought that I was beautiful meant the most.
I mean, there might be times when I've spent one and a half hours (pick your jaw up off the floor, I have done it!) putting on makeup and fixing my hair and I have on a killer new dress and when he tells me that I look pretty I'm more apt to agree with him. Then...it's nice, but it doesn't mean quite as much.
But at a time like that, when I'm painfully and uncomfortably aware of my hair raising ugliness, the thought of someone seeing me as beautiful shatters all my defenses and leaves me sobbing.
It's the same with God.
He doesn't want us to cling to our goodness, lest we might get fooled into thinking for a moment that we deserve a little bit of the grace He lavishes. He wants us ugly. Sharply aware of the unmerited favor He gives. Because it is about Him, and His grace, not us and our goodness.
For that reason I'll pray fervently that I always keep an accurate view of myself, my sin, and my ugly hair, just so I can always cling desperately to the cross I so love, and so little deserve.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Let's call it an intermission

Alright, two things.
I'm no longer blogging daily about my Love Dare book. It's gotten to be too much to write a blog every day. I'm happy to interject at moments to tell you how it's going (because I will still be faithfully plugging through) but with two kids, writing daily is too much.
Also, I'm in a brief pause for two reasons, the previous day's dare had to ask your spouse some things that irritate them about you, and John wouldn't respond yet, so I can't act on it. So I haven't been able to complete it.
Also, John's going out of town for a week...so I can't really do it while he's gone.
Excuses, excuses right?
We'll return to it soon enough.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day Three: Love Fest!

Day 3:
The Dare: Along with restraining from negative comments, but your spouse something that says, "I was thinking of you today."
Based on the verse: "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." Romans 12:10
Points that impacted me the most: Why do we have such low standards for ourselves but high expectations for our mate? The answer is a painful pill to swallow. We are all selfish. When a wife constantly complains about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband, that's a sign of selfishness. But love "does not seek its own." (1 Cor 13:5) True love looks for ways to say "yes". Remember, your marriage partner also has the challenge of loving a selfish person. So determine to be the first to demonstrate real love to them, with your eyes wide open.

This was so good for me. The text was the best part. It was helpful to remember what I was working towards when I made a special trip to the dollar store to buy him a bag of sour patch kids flavored cotton candy (trust me...right up his alley). The not saying anything negative has been really good too! I've had to get really creative on how I communicate and I realize that the majority of the time if I asked a few questions like "what do you mean?" or "I don't understand what you're saying" the situation is diffused. I'm aware now of how quickly I would jump to an emotional reaction without clarifying, and then he just goes on the defensive. Also, I've had to get very creative aobut how to problem solve. Like today when he started complaining again about how he doesn't like the diaper rash cream I buy and he doesn't think it does anything (the only brand he thinks that works id Desitin) instead of saying what I wanted to say---which I won't elaborate on) I just said, "How about I call the doctor and ask if they suggest a brand." YEAH! I know!
Two things have been interesting in this journey:
1. John commented to me last night about how little we've been arguing. I was overflowing with thankfulness to God for that fact. It's TRUE! It's amazing how much changing myself changed the equation. (Tributes to the MJ "Man in the mirror" song)
2. He's started looking more and more like the man I married.
And the funniest part is...his looks haven't changed....but my glasses have.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day Two: Love Fest!

I obviously skipped yesterday in my posting. Mainly because I realized that I need to be able to check the box of accomplishing the dare before I can write about my experience. We will now continue on our regularly scheduled program:

Day Two
The Dare: In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.
Based on the verse: "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32
Point that impacted me the most: I don't even know where to start. This book is revolutionary in that you not only read something really powerful, but then you're told to DO something with it. I underlined the majority of the points on this day. Here is a sampling: "Patience avoids a problem; kindness creates a blessing. One is preventive, the other proactive." "Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step. It doesn't sit around waiting to be prompted or coerced before getting off the couch. The kind husband or wife will be the one who greets first, smiles first, serves first, and forgives first. They don't require the other to get his or her act together before showing love."
So good!
Here's what I did. Friday night John and I had a drag out fight (the night before I started the book). I was ironing and told him I was too tired to finish, he was upset that I hadn't ironed his shirt in weeks. I threw a royal hissy fit that included (but was not limited to) throwing his shirt on the chair, vowing to never iron anything of his for the rest of my life, and proceeding to look for things to iron of anyone else's in the house to make the point that I wasn't ironing his shirt abundantly clear (I mean, I was ready to go and wrinkle some clothes just to iron them to make him mad).
Okay, I warned you not only that I was immature, but also that I would be brutally honest.
So yesterday, I ironed his shirt. I didn't think he was going to say anything. He walked by me, and I was reminding myself of why I was doing it, when he got about halfway up the stairs he thanked me. This wasn't the "fall at my feet profuse thanking" that I expected, but I'd take it.
Then he added "Thanks....for doing your job." (he started laughing....I did not) He thought he was being funny but it really gets under my skin when he makes jabs like this. In fact, I paused for a moment and seriously contemplated sticking the hot iron on his shirt and walking away....that would have felt SO good. Resolved not to let it blow into a huge thing, I just reminded myself he was kidding, and didn't say a word.
So here's the second part (that I've already begun to touch on) it's getting harder not to say anything negative.
I'll be the first to admit that we need to confront certain issues in others. (ask anyone who knows me) The problem is I've gotten a little too good at the confrontation part. So I've realized I just can't say anything for a while. Till I get better at thinking before I talk. Eventually, I'll learn how to calm down, forgive, and then speak. Not there yet.
So I just shut it.
A lot.
And it's getting really hard.
But here's the sneaky thing that the author of this book doesn't tell you. When you're so concerned about making sure you don't say anything negative to your spouse. Your words are always on your mind. See, I'm being so careful to not want to break my dare and say something nasty, that I'm really thinking carefully about all the things I say. I'm even realizing when I just complain (and I think...wait....did that count?) So I'm realizing just how quick I talk, without thinking about the weight of my words. This has been awesome for me. And really has shown me how often my anger and quick tongue brings on arguments that I could have let go otherwise.
Anyways, all this to say, I'm loving it. I'm learning over and over that God is using this imperfect man, to butt right up against the rough parts of myself to change ME.
I recently read a really great analogy about how relationships are like a math equation. If x + y = z, (let's say John is the "x", I am the "y" and what we get in our marriage is the "z". Now, I'll never be able to change the "x". EVER!
Do you believe that?
But I can change the y...which will in turn change the outcome. See if I take x + 2y= something totally different.
Interesting how that works. God's changing the outcome...by changing me.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Yes...we can.

I'm looking at this blank screen before me and my thoughts are feeling somewhat like jambalaya. Trying to lay out each piece in some sort of way that makes sense is going to be challenging.
There are a few questions I ask sometimes when I'm writing this blog:
1. Is anyone reading?
2. How can I communicate what God has taught me with simple little words.
I'm just going to pray that someone is reading, and that whoever it is that God will open their eyes to the same truth that he opened mine to.
Let me just jump right in.
Read this verse:
(this is where I spilled coffee all over my Bible)
God "determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." Acts 17:26
That's the first part: you are where you are on purpose.
Very simply. Wherever you are...whenever you are...it is right where God has determined you to be.
Here is the second part:
you were put there to DO something.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9
So, we are not put here to get, make, diet, acquire, survive, buy, get by, and coast. We are put here to change the world. We are put here to declare God's praises. We are put here to live for our eternal kingdom.
Don't miss that. Don't believe lies. Do not miss your purpose. Dont' waste your life. You have influence somewhere. You are called to do something with your life. To magnify Christ.
As a believer, living for anything BUT your eternal destiny in heaven is a waste.
NOW! I will qualify it just a little bit, God does want us to enjoy things he has given us. He has given us this life, it's acceptable to enjoy it. But don't enjoy it while believing the lie that it's what you're living for. Don't enjoy it at the cost of missing the bigger picture.
"Only one life...will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last."
There are only two things that are eternal, God's word, and people.
Invest your life wisely.
Here's the third part:
you CAN...through Christ.
Daughter....Son of God....do you even realize the powers that are bound up within your fleshly body? I don't!
"the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21
I know.
That's me. That's you. Let's start living like it matters.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Triple Dog Dare!

I submit to you a new blog series over the next 40 days! Let's call it "40 Day Love Fest"....cause it sounds cool.
John is forbidden from reading my blog for what I have told him is an indefinite amount of time, because I've recently decided to do the Love Dare book, and he doesn't know about it.
My commitment is to do the dare each day for 40 days, and write a short post each day for you about how it's going.
I will be completely honest. Our marriage will not look very good at times. And I will show you just how immature I am. (all of which makes you more excited to read it I'm sure...come on! Those gossip columns don't sell like hot cakes for no reason!)
Here we go....pack a lunch.
Day one:
The Dare: For the next day resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything.
Based on the verse: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2
Point that impacted me most: "Patience helps you give your spouse permission to be human. It understand that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time than they deserve to correct it."

So...it actually hasn't been as hard as I thought. But I admit I haven't had serious annoying things come up that have pushed it as much as I thought. I did realize though how often I am the one that starts fights. I don't know if you knew this about me, but I tend to have a chronic case of diarrhea mouth. (which is a disgusting but completely fitting example of when you don't even control what you say at all and crap comes out way too freely). So today when Lincoln was bossing me around and I said "Lincoln, mommy doesn't obey you...who do I obey?" and Lincoln responded with "Daddy" to which john replied "you got that right" and I felt the urge to let out a big fat "Yeah Right--like that's ever gonna happen" but I instead responded with "No, mommy obeys God." (I think I actually made an audible "mmm"...when the words were getting ready to jump out of my mouth and I was trying to stop them.) Clearly this is a funny example of something John said (he wasn't being serious--so it wasn't too hard to keep my mouth shut).
But there has been more than one time where I've felt myself want to say something that I know would have snowballed into a huge eruption, and I chose instead to not say it...and things coasted along.
All that to say that so far...it's been a good thing for me. But, did I mention it's only 2:00pm?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

whooooaa here she comes....watch out boy, she'll chew you up!

Yeah...she's a maneater. Well....it applies to women too...she's just plain mean.
Guess who she is?
Yours truly.
I have a total mean streak. If you've never encountered it (although I doubt there is one of you reading who can't shout a big fat "AMEN" right now) hang around me a little longer, unfortunately I'm sure you will (although hopefully by God's grace you won't).
I'm doing a Beth Moore stud right now, and she recently touched on the topic of our mean streaks.
Let me tell you, my girl knows how to speak the truth (and I think she's also got a hidden camera in my house).
She touched on how "meanness perceives a threat." Which was revolutionary to me.
This means that when we react in a way that's showing that mean streak, that when we start feeling our hackles rise up and the claws come out (oh you've done it...don't lie), its because we're perceiving some sort of threat. I started thinking about this in my own life and it's so true.
Two things of note:
1. We have to identify the threat because we will have the capacity to react to it the rest of our lives.

I mean, if we're gonna battle this forever, or at least have the potential to, we might as well settle in on what it's going to look like amen?

2. Insecurity is at the heart of every rivalry.

We compare ourselves. Come on.....yes we do. I'll be the first to admit (and might even tell you out loud) that I compare myself to waaaay too many people. It's dangerous territory. The Bible says:
"But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense." 2 Corinthians 10:12
Let me tell you, I have had a figurative measuring stick in my back pocket from the moment I was wearing a training bra. And it is NOT fun to be constantly measuring.
I am done measuring. Will you be too?
I started realizing when I feel this mean streak coming on, and what makes the streak come out most often. I realized it's usually when something I put great stock in being good at is threatened. Think about this one with me:
Someone at the park comes up to you and wants to tell you something that your kid just did wrong (I'm not talking good natured friend--I'm talking the mean mommy who thinks their kid is better), are the hackles coming up? How about your husband trying to question the way you parent your kids during the day? Whatever it is, it seems that we get most riled up when we see whatever it is that we use to find our security and worth in being threatened (being a mommy, wife, house cleaner, party planner, wedding coordinator (those are all mine you know).
Now let me give you something to build your tent on (and you better camp there I'll tell you now):
You are worthy because you are a daughter of the Creator of the Universe.
Don't you DARE believe one thing less than this. Not for one second!
Your worth is not based on one lie that this world will tell you.
You are not worthy because you are a good mama.
You are not worthy because you are a sweet wife.
You are not worthy because you are a good friend.
You are not worthy because you have enough scriptures memorized.
Your worth is based only and entirely upon being a daughter (a princess) of the King of Kings.
And that sister....will never change.
You can camp there and the moment you start feeling threatened you just start remembering that your worth is based in something that will never change falter or fade. Your worth is not less on a day when you scream at your kids. Your worth is the same every day of the week and twice on Sunday because it is based in being a daughter of God.
"My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge." Psalm 62:7
"As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." Isaiah 62:5
Now I want you to get in your head a picture of your sweet husband's face when those doors opened up for you to walk down the aisle. Remember it? I do. Like the day is long! Remember how excited he was? Did his face just light up? I'll tell you something sweet sister, our husbands faces may not do that every time we walk into a room...but our God's face? Does. We who have been clothed in Christ's righteousness by accepting him as our Savior should settle for believing nothing less. And our value in God's eyes does not change ever. Christ is our righteousness, we are his sisters, he is not ashamed of us. And he delights in us.
"For both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." Hebrew 2:11
Don't you prostitute your worth out to anything else. And don't you believe one more lie.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

God the balloon popper

Where do I start?
Lincoln just had a birthday. So we have a giant Batman balloon that we have tied several other smaller balloons to the end of. Here's the thing, the Batman balloon is big, it's filled with lots of helium, and the other smaller balloons tied to the end of it are... smaller. So in the morning, my father in law would come upstairs (they're visiting from out of town) and see the Batman balloon sinking closer and closer to the ground, and he would grab the end of it, pull it down and cut one of the balloons free. The Batman balloon would happily rise back up to the top of the ceiling, glad to be free of the weight of that other balloon, only to be plagued again the next morning by yet another heavy balloon that needed to be free.
Is the imagery smacking you in the forehead yet? Just wait.
So here I am this morning, at the table, reading my Bible and here's what I read:
"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4
"for while we are in this tent we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." 2 Corinthians 5:4
And after reading that I look up from my Bible, feeling so heavy hearted and frustrated that I can never get it and weary and like I just can't fit in this world. And my father-in-law just cuts one balloon free and up it goes (at this point it hasn't dawned on me yet) and then he says "those other balloons keep weighing it down, we just have to cut them off one by one, and we'll cut another one off tomorrow."
I remembered a conversation I had with my husband the day before, where I was telling him how hard it is for me to feel forgiven, and all I see is the things I need to change, and I just wish I could be better at walking in the spirit by now. And he tells me how I've learned to live this way all my life, and God is taking the time to remove the things one by one. The sin....the things that weigh me down. And he'll never be done doing it, he'll just keep pruning, and removing them one by one.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1
It's the process of sanctification, but it's nothing without grace to cover it. If I'm just left getting pruned over and over, it hurts. I feel condemned, but knowing that I have so great a salvation that my sins are already taken care of, I am encouraged. And strengthened.
"Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again." Psalm 71:20-21
That's what he's in the business of doing after all. Increasing honor and comforting. But how does he do that? By getting rid of the stuff that drags us down, again and again, so that more of him (more of what the balloon was made to do....fly) can happen.
I could go on forever. I love it when God shows me something in my life that illustrates exactly what he's teaching me. I'll never look at balloons again without also remembering the faithful God who helps me become more of what he created me to be. And who lovingly calls me daughter the whole time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dancing without the Shackles

There is no way to write what I'm going to write in order to convey the excitement I'm feeling, the liberation that came to me over the past few days. These words that I'm staring at as I type look pathetic to communicate what I'm feeling. Please just know that I have seldom been so able to breathe as a result of hearing anything.
If you've ever read my blog you'll quickly get a picture of a reasonably miserable woman, struggling in her own strength, trying to rely on Christ's power to live a better life. And writing again about how I've failed. I was living my life behind these constant prison bars of guilt. I was living as a Christian, but subjecting myself to the law. Every time I disappointed someone, or gossiped, or coveted, or was snippy (which is a nice way of saying I acted like the "b" word), I would put myself into this little cell, lock it through the bars and toss the keys outside and then cry, thinking how miserable it was to be locked up.
Lucky for me my Savior is the jailkeeper....and wants no one to be locked up.
I'll just pass on some quotes here:
"No sin can be crucified either in heart or life, unless it first be pardoned in conscience, because there will be want of faith to receive the strength of Jesus, by whom alone it can be crucified. If it be not mortified in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power." William Romaine, one of the leaders of the eighteenth-century revival in England wrote this. It was revolutionary to me to think that every sin I commit in this life as a believer, because I have accepted the only remedy for sin (Christ), has no penalty with it. That kind of deflates it huh?
I do not have to live with guilt anymore.
For someone who continually feels guilty, this is pretty remarkable.
See this verse: "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." Romans 4:8
Did you catch that? Never? Like never....ever....ever!
And that's ME!!!!
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1
I was living as someone who was condemned and I was trying to allow fear, of disappointing God, of impending doom, of a death sentence when I get to heaven, to motivate me to be a better person.
Get this into your head......
fear is not a motivator for change.
Condmenation is not a motivator for change.
What is a motivator? Love. Freedom. Namely, the gospel. Christ's love is the motivator. And we find that "I love you" in the gospel.
Listen to this quote from Horatius Bonar, a 19th-century scottish pastor.
"Terror accomplishes no real obedience. Suspense brings forth no fruit unto holiness. No gloomy uncertainty as to God's favour can subdue one lust, or correct our crookedness of will. But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin, and withers all its branches. Only the certainty of love, forgiving love, can do this...."
This was revolutionary to me. A final verse, that will remain in my mind:
"For Christ's love compels us." 2 Corinthians 5:14
The author of the book I am reading, Jerry Bridges, said this:
"That is why we need to "preach the gospel to ourselves every day." It is in the gospel that we find those unsearchable riches of Christ that produce not only justification but also sanctification."
And there I will rest.

* Most of this blog was taken from the book "The Gospel for Real Life", by Jerry Bridges. A book I highly recommend, which has pointed me to verses in God's word that have revolutionized my view of the gospel and my salvation.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kites, Strings, and God.

Here's my problem.....
let me re-phrase that....
Here's one of my many problems:
I like to look like I have my act together. In fact. I really like to look like I have my act together.
I like to be pretty, to have perfect hair, I like to be skinny, and look like I have self-control, I like people to think I'm disciplined and smart and funny and a good mom, I like to have my Christian "act" together too.
The problem lies in the fact that I'm not really any of those things.
I may be a little bit of some of them at times, but it's kind of like buying a new barbie in a shiny package at the toy store, only to get her home and realize she has cellulite, bags under her eyes, and borders on paranoia in many instances.
I've been in this weird funk in life where I'm feeling totally apathetic and stagnant, even in my relationship with God. I've been praying everyday that if there is something I need to do, something I need to know, something I need to change, God should let me know. I'm willing.
But nothing.
It even seemed like silence.
Then one morning, it started clicking.
Here's what I read:
"In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:11-15
So let's play a game....read above passage and notice one thing that is up to us to do.
You are correct! There are none.
I picture this like in the Jetsons where George is getting ready for work, and the machine is brushing his teeth, plopping him in the shower, brushing his hair, slipping him into his clothes, etc. God does it all.
In just these verses alone, we learn that He's the one who: circumcises our hearts, raises us from the dead, makes us alive, forgives our sins, cancels the written code, and disarms the powers that stand against us.
He does everything, He saves us, He keeps us, we are His and He does the work.
Do you know how refreshing, how liberating that was to me?
To know that it is not up to me to do great spiritual things, to be pretty, skinny, smart and holy and put together? To conjure up these great feelings of spiritual fervor? I get to just be...and be used by God.
Then he gave me the most perfect, beautiful object lesson later that day that brought it full circle for me.
Linc is really into kites. He always talks about flying one. So I decided we would make a kite together.
Now....I do not pretend to have any skills whatsoever in this area. I taped together some straws, and string, and a garbage bag, and Linc thought it was one of the blue angels.
The whole time I'm making it...I'm praying "Lord, if you could just make this pathetic thing fly, that would be great. It would just rock his world if you made this thing fly."
So Linc is out in the yard, running back and forth at full speed, dragging behind him a piece of thread with this mangled, heap of garbage bag and straws and tape on the ground and it dawns on me.
I've been doing that very thing for a week.
Running back and forth, on my own, dragging my sickly looking little garbage bag kite, wondering why it wouldn't fly....the whole time completely refusing to accept that it is the wind...in my case God...who makes it fly.
Without the wind....the kite is pathetic.
Without God working through me...I'm just this sorry excuse pretending to know what I'm doing and obsessing over my hair.
I was talking to John this morning about how "so and so" seem to have such a good marriage and have their act together and I told him "Honey, we're all in the same soup...some of us just fake it better than others."
It's true. I like to fake it, I like to try and work my way into this cookie mold of a wonderful Christian woman....but really I'm just running around like a fool dragging my kite on the ground.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mountains...Valleys....and plains.

Lest you think I am (or think myself to be) a "good Christian" (as if there were such an absurd thing)--this post will seek to smash all arguments to support this.
John and I have a little saying in our home, "mountains and valleys". Maybe we didn't think of this, but it makes me feel cooler and smarter to have thought up a phrase like this....so I pretend it is unique.
For example, I called John the other day and recalled a story to him about how Lincoln had peed on the floor twice and then came up to me and told me he had to sit on the potty. John was excited, and I just smiled and said "mountains and valleys honey" to which he replied, "mountains and valleys".
So let's just say I had this day this week where it was abundantly, crystal, perfectly (like ocean on a summer day) clear that God was using me, interacting with me, right there engaging with my life. I felt so encouraged, I felt so uplifted, I felt so...important.
I read a line in a book I'm reading that really resonated with me, "God loves you the same whether you're being elegant or not. It feels much better when you are, but even when you can't fake it, God still listens to your prayers." (don't know how to properly "quote" said author in this blog....and can't find my writer's harbrace so......It was Anne Lamott who said it...in a book).
So let's just say the next few days were less than thrilling.
I woke up the next morning, and it was like before I set my feet on the floor I knew.....it was a boring day.
The whole day followed suit, and proved my point. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING.
Potty training, staying at home, pee on the floor, mac and cheese, bad coffee from Walmart. It was just all-around a Walmart brand day.
And the next day the same.
It kept on till I finally started telling God I couldn't stand it. I can handle being spiritually high. I can even stomach the lows where I feel like the scum of the earth and I'm totally empty of myself, but I'm aware of God's love for me.
I cannot stomach the mediums.
And I was just medium. Plain-jane.
I've got to be passionate about something or my bones will dry up, my brain will melt right out of my ears. So here I was talking to God.
"Lord, I don't understand--one day things are great and I feel like you're near me, and we're going out and doing great things and I'm totally in love with you and excited, and the next...I'm walmart."
It was really hard for me. I can understand why God would allow the mountaintops, even the valleys....but the plains?
I basically pleaded with God to say something....anything...even..."yeah Jenn...you're boring...I agree."
Then this popped into my head:
"But when he asks he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." James 1:6
Yeah....that was me.
I had to stop and ask myself what I was doubting, and the result was a lot of dangerous lies that had seeped into my brain and were threatening to turning me into something awful and radioactive.
I was doubting God was still there with me.
The truth: "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
I was doubting that Christ's power to save me was still enough for me even when I didn't feel like it was.
The truth: "He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." Titus 3:5
So I realized that God is a God of the spaces. A God not only of the exclamation points. The question marks. The periods. But also a God that dwells over and in the moments where there is nothing.
He is a God of the mountains....a God of the valleys, and a God of the plains.
To believe anything less about my life is to believe less about Him.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I need a hero....yeah...sing the song.

I'll keep it short. Cause I have to.
Recently, I was struggling and heartbroken over my response to a particular situation. You see I can coast along pretty well responding spiritually until something interrupts my comfort, and then it becomes increasingly harder and harder to respond in a way that is glorifying to God.
Well, as many of you know, my husband was out of town (and few things will press against your sensitive spots more than taking care of two children with no husband day in and out for a week).
Needless to say, I was not the most graceful, gentle, and kind person. I did and said some things that I will regret for the rest of my life.
I hurt someone.
Without dwelling too long on my failures, let's just say I was pretty heartbroken over it.
You know when you get to the point where it's easier to focus on yourself and how horrible you are than on the truth? I was there.
I was reading my Bible the next day, and began reading in Deuteronomy the list of curses. There it was, over and over pounding into my head and my soul, "cursed is....cursed is....cursed is..." and there was the specific one I had done. I was cursed. I was feeling that curse, that total separation from God because of my sin.
Let me just tell you...that felt miserable.
I was standing there, looking directly at a verse (I could have put my finger right on it) that said because of what I had done I was cursed.
In utter despair, I asked God, "Is it true? Am I under a curse? Am I cursed?" I asked Him to give me a verse of truth, a verse to speak to me that I could hold on to.
Guess what? He did!
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us." Galatians 3:13
And I realized all over again the wonder of my salvation, of my Savior.
Without the awareness that on our own we are completely and utterly futile....we can never have this salvation. And as we grow in our faith, we have the tendency to start thinking we are getting pretty good on our own and no longer need that message for our lives daily (though as good little Christians we don't like to admit to such apostasy outright-we begin to live as though we have accepted this).
Praise God for the realization that I still do need this. For the awareness once again of the truth that I lean on daily, that redeemed me from the curse.
And for the hero of a Savior I have....that became a curse for me.
I rejoice in anything that makes me look like a total fool so this truth can become more clear in my life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Get your head around this!

Okay...typing at the speed of light because I know it's only a matter of seconds before someone realizes I'm alone and comes to remedy that.
I was reading this morning (and as an aside, can I just tell you the encounters I have experienced with the living God as a result of setting aside time to read his word? Nothing in my life has compared, and I'm sure he will be faithful to do the same for you--in fact I dare you).
And I was having a hard time in my walk with God lately...just in my life in general...so I was rattling off all the things I was feeling to God...defeated, hopeless, guilty, tired, weak....when it dawned on me (I say that like I thought of it on my own...which I did not) that there are scriptures that speak to every one of these things. I decided to make a list of all these things that I was feeling...and look up verses to speak to them.
It was one of the sweetest realizations I've ever had.
I was looking up verses about being defeated because I truly feel this every day. Does anyone else feel this way? Here are just a few of the thoughts that will run through my head (and unfortunately come out my mouth):
"Oh..you did it again..way to go...I thought you were supposed to be better at this?"
"Ummm that piece of cake was huge, it was giant...I can't believe you finished it"
"Seriously, you know better than that, you'll never get this right, just give up now."
All these thoughts mix together (and mind you--they come straight form the mouth of the Father of lies) and they make for a very defeated, weary Jenn.
And I can easily feel like I'm never going to get it, like it's too hard, and like I'm exhausted. I could never do this battle every day for the rest of my life....
Do you ever feel this way?
Well friend--here is a tall glass of water:
"To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." Revelation 2:17
Did your heart just rejoice?
Okay, let's picture this.
It's your kids birthday and you are SO excited to given them this present...let's just pretend you've been waiting their whole lives to give it to them, and you wrap it so perfectly and you give it to them--you know that feeling?
Well....get your head around this...the GOD OF EVERYTHING has a gift for us. I mean....if that were not enough....He specifically chose it for you, and will give it to you....that IS what it says...
and if that weren't enough, it's a new name.
I have nicknames for nearly everyone dear in my life; John is the hub or hubcap, Ellie is Peach, Peach Pie, Princess Peach, Linc is Bear, Linc Bear, or little Bear, my mom has been affectionately referred to as the mayor, My sister-in-law we call Crit, Critty Cat, my brother-BB-which stands for Brother Bear. I love these nicknames, because they show I really know these people, that I have a relationship with them that is mine. And my parents have some of the dearest nicknames for me--one of which my mom gave me that is so embarassing I won't even say (and which she put on my 16th birthday cake) but which I love so dearly because it is what she chose to call me when I was a baby--she gave it to ME.
Now...God.....(please fasten your seatbelts)
has a name JUST for you..that no one else knows. That kind of special name, a secret name, that I can only imagine will satisfy and address every facet of what he created us to be, and it's a secret...between us and God.
Okay, how do I type words that make you feel that feeling of driving down a highway with no windsheild? Cause that's what I feel when I read this.
I'm not making this up, he wrote it. And I can't believe he did.
The key is--it's offered only to the one who "overcomes". Now, don't immediately write this off like "well, that's not me--I can't do it." Because you absolutely can. The powers of the universe have been placed within your reach if you have put your trust in Christ as your Savior, and don't believe anything else.
Now I don't know about you...but that is enough incentive for me in this day and the next.
do not let this thought ever leave you...
Your God loves you more than you can ever measure....and he wants you to know it.
Now--go overcome.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ellie vs. the Blocks

So, this blog post will surely echo the words of my previous blog post, but it has been so profoundly impacting me (picture God with a hammer, slamming away on my head...but in a good way..heh), that I have to elaborate a little bit more.
What is the one thing in your life that you don't think God can ever overcome? And here's another good question...why is it that we think our problems are the only ones too big for God to handle?
Very rarely do I start my days ahead of the game. Are you like me?
I'm awake...way earlier than I ever thought I'd be, in the hopes of salvaging a little time in the house where it is completely quiet and I can have some purposeful time with God...to ready myself.
And here I am...a cup of coffee (that's the carrot that gets me out of bed, if I'm being honest) and my open Bible. Totally ready to have this perfect little time to focus myself and start my day being super mom.
Then Ellie wakes up crying, then Lincoln 40 times, then John comes down and tries to talk to me (this all happens before 6:30am....I KNOW!!!)
I get really grumpy when my day starts off contrary to the way I want it to...and thus commences what I like to call the nosedive.
I am drifting along, relatively peaceful, able to handle anything, when a glitch in my plans happen and (CRASH) there I go, plummeting.
At this point, I'm getting so grumpy that I think "God, it's not even 7:00 in the AM and already I'm DONE!" This is about the time each morning that I start believing I can't.
You know..
I can't do this...
I can't keep giving....
I can't GET A SHOWER...
I can't keep from screaming at people...
maybe you don't know...but that's just my reality.
So...tuck that in your minds, and I'll give you a little Bible story.
God sends twelves spies into what was going to be the promised land for the Israelites, they see fruit, they see a great land, they see this amazing place that God has promised to give them...and they see...giants.
They come back.
They talk about how great the land is, how wonderful it seems, they TASTE THE FRUIT. And then they doubt.
"We can't do it, there are giants there, they'll stomp us like grasshoppers."
Enter...Caleb. A man who has so inspired the currents of my faith that I would love to meet him in heaven one day.
And Caleb silences them and their doubt and says this...
"We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." Numbers 13:30
Does something deep within the recesses of your soul resonate with this? It does in mine.
Again, the other ten spies chime in--focusing on the giants, the people that will surely stomp them to the ground, they say we can't do it...we can't.
Again, Caleb speaks--"Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them." Numbers 14:9
How profound an example. How true the power of God is.
I read a wonderful commentary (from my BSF notes) on this subject that said "the majority measured the giants against their own strength; Caleb and Joshua measured the giants against God...the majority had great giants but a little God, Caleb had a great God but little giants." (alan redpath)
I almost typed the question how big are your giants...but the more important question is...
how big is your God?
If you are in Christ, have all the powers of the resurrection not been made available to you to do His will? (and might I add, that mothering your children and pointing them to Christ, and loving your husband, and serving others, and sharing the message and the hope of Christ...IS HIS WILL) Are you the only one in the entire universe that God cannot reach? Are your problems the only ones in the history of the world that God will choose not to help you in?
Surely not.
Yet how anemic my own faith can be.
David, when facing his own giant said this "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." 1 Samuel 17:45
Here is a final illustration and then I am done.
I was watching my baby Eloise the other day, sitting on the floor playing with blocks. And there was one block that she couldn't reach...she was stretching. She was determined, she tried over and over and over to reach it and it was at her fingertips, but she failed each time. On her own the block was simply a little bit too far.
I watched her...sit back...defeated, and give up on the block. She turned her sights to other interests, letting go of the hope of ever reaching it.
When she turned away, I moved the block a couple inches closer...perfectly within her reach.
She never again reached for the block. In her mind she had already resigned herself to the fact that she would never be able to get it on her own.
And she was right, but with my help...it was completely within her reach.
It is with tears in my eyes that I pose these final questions....
Is there a block in your life that you have completely given up hope on? that you are sure you will never be able to reach?
And then...
can you also picture a loving God....reaching his tremendous hand down...and scooting it a few inches closer?
He does...and He will.

Friday, January 30, 2009

For terrible parents only...

Ever had those moments where you realize you've heard the same message over and over from different sources, on different days in different ways and it all of the sudden knocks you on your butt when you go "Oh....you were talking to me?"
Just had one....
Like to hear about it? Here it go!
I'm just not good at this parenting thing....don't argue with me here, I know better than anyone.
I found myself this morning coming to God again to confess my impatience, shortness and anger toward Lincoln and Eloise. I prayed "God, don't I say this every morning?" and I do. Truly.
I'd love to be done with it, and not be saying it anymore....but it's never going to happen (insert sad trombone noise here-wah waaaah).
And Glory Hallelujah Amen that I have received forgiveness for my sins and do not have to rely on my own goodness to save me...
but that's not the message completely.
See....after I was done praying I grabbed a verse laying on my desk that I had written on an index card a while ago and read it (just thought I randomly grabbed it...honestly not even sure why I did....well--I guess God knew).
"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the SURPASSING GREATNESS of His power toward us who believe." Ephesians 1:19a
Yeah....me too.
This was huge for me...especially when I realized a few more things.
So, parenting is really hard. It will only take about 5 minutes of being a parent to realize that you're terrible at it. And you might be able to coast a little while thinking you're good at it..but children have a unique way of proving you wrong one way or the other (little rebels). So in that moment of realization we have two choices:
1. Walk away head in hands in defeat and wallow over how ill equipped and horrible we are at this thing.."who even let me take this baby home anyways?"
2. Apply faith.
I know..you're all looking for a really earth shattering revelation and that wasn't quite as profound as you thought...but I'm getting there.
So, I usually resort to the first option. Here's the problem with that.
#1--it emphasizes me and my failure....which is obvious, but not where my focus should be.
Focusing on myself (even in a negative way) just reinforces myself and puts the focus back on me...not where it should be. See, I can think I'm doing a really great thing in saying "I'm no good at this" and "I can't do it" and "why me?" and "I'll never be" but that in itself is sin...that is...if I stop there.
If I stop there I am left with a lack of faith...a lack of faith in a God who is bigger than me...and with that...I can do nothing.
"And without faith it is impossible to please God" Hebrews 11:6
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
This is encouraging to me.
Because I've already learned I can't on my own, the problem is I stayed there. Now I have to work at remembering "But through Him I can". I'm praying that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened, that you will know the surpassing power available to you and that in the moments you are most weak in your parenting (a profession that has a terrible habit of bringing our junk to the surface)--you will realize that you have this power available. "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3
And that in the times that you find it hard to believe you will turn your face to God, humble yourself and pray: ""I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Happy Fluffy Feel Good Fun Blog

The first line to type is always the hardest (praying in my mind for God's grace to give him glory in writing this, and also, hoping for some intervention in making this sound interesting enough to the rest of you.)
This is not a sermon....
but it might sound like one.
You know those things that wage war against your soul? Not the little nuisances you have to combat, like grumpiness or a bad hair day, I'm talking about things that rob you from your joy? Steal your peace? Destroy your pursuit of wholeness?
Man did I have a big one lately.
It is going to seem trivial, ridiculous, even naive to all of you (and it might be in reality) but it was a stronghold made of steel around my heart.
emphasis on the word..."was".
Everytime I'm getting ready to get on a plane I feel this gripping fear, this uncontrollable mounting anxiety where I picture myself (and these are the times a vivid imagination works greatly to my disadvantage) plummeting to the earth from 30,000 feet in a flaming tube that says Delta on the side (I'm just being honest).
Sometimes during takeoff I cry and feel like I can't breathe (this was not helped when my husband, in an attempt to calm my fears said "honey, the only part of the flight you really have to worry about is the first 30 seconds"......thanks).
Recently, I was convicted about this...realizing that my son is going to start learning it, and that it's doing my body great stress (the thought of flying was keeping me up at night, and was making me feel seriously ill...it was out of control) AND that I was showing a lack of faith in God in my fear.
Again....."was." (AMEN!)
So you can kind of tell where the story goes...and you obviously know I lived....hallelujah, but you don't know the process (which is where the real hallelujahs will come in!)
IT started when I began praying that God would give me victory in it and that He would give me verses from his word to combat the fear I was feeling.
If you ever wonder if God will help you in times like this...pray for Him to speak to you through his word...it's a prayer I have never seen return to me void....EVER.
I prayed this and then waited (I can think of many more useful things to have been doing...like maybe reading his word to see what I could find...nope...i'm a loser, I...waited).
A sweet, devoted friend of mine took up my cause, rallied some other lovely ladies and made me an entire book of verses to hold dear to my heart while my plane was plummeting to the ground.
Here's what God showed me.
We have an obligation to wage war...choices are constantly before us, and gripping vices wrap themselves around us in an attempt to hold us back and stifle God's work in our lives (did people stop reading there?) and we have an obligation to wage war against them....but how?
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete." 2Corinthians 10:4-6
So, forgive the imagery here, but the only thing I can think of is jihad......
a holy war against our own minds.
I don't know about you but I get pretty wrapped up in the world of Jenn...
my thoughts run this way and that, telling me everything from "You need to lose a few pounds", to "she said that because she was trying to really make you mad," to "your two-year-old has a personal life mission to make you miserable and embarassed" to..."your plane is going to crash in a burning heap because a goose flew into the engine"....get it?
The point is...they run rampant....all the time and lead me to believe things that are not only false, but are harmful and lead me down a path of destruction and fear and misery.
But there is great freedom in knowing what these verses said.....our weapons (the word of God and prayer) have DIVINE power...to demolish strongholds....
de-------mol----ish......like...obliterated and gone forever.
So I can hope in the fact that I can be done with this forever, and the way that is done is by taking every thought that comes into my mind (surely you can't take every thought, like the ones regarding what to eat but those ones that start to steal, kill, and destroy, the ones where you start to feel your insides turning a little, and the ones where you're pretty sure you're believing lies? Grab em by the neck) and hold them up against God's word to see if they are friend or enemy.
And then make those thoughts obedient.
Here's an example:
Jenn's Mind: you're gonna die on that plane of doom, and kiss your life goodbye
God's word: dont' let yourself believe that, God has said he will take hold of your right hand and he says to you dont' be afraid
Jenn's mind: oh....right....dang
Obliterated. Demolished. Poof Crash Bang.
The great thing is, my thoughts don't hold enough substantial ground to battle God's word and win....God wins every time.
A moment of clarity came when upon stifling my fear, and rising in the plane above the clouds I saw beautiful sunshine. It was gorgeous. I realized upon seeing these that this was likely the first time I had seen the sun in my two weeks in Ohio. And here's the metaphor.
I was believing the whole time in Ohio, there is no sunshine, it's so gray, it's so depressing. Why doesn't the sun shine here? Only to be proved wrong when we rose above the clouds and I saw it had been there all along.
God is like that. We get so bogged down in our circumstances that we fail to see Him the entire time. We let ourselves believe things like "He's not here" "this doesn't have anything to do with him" and "It's too hard for me" only to be proven wrong when we look for him.
All that to say...the next time you're faced with clouds....wage war and rise above them. (Wow, that was slightly fluffier and feel-goody than normal)
By the way, note the picture that was taken out the window of the plane once.