"The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;" Lamentations 3:25

Saturday, December 31, 2011

An end with a beginning

In ten minutes it will be midnight.  2011 will quietly turn into 2012.  For me anyways. Outside there is plenty of partying and fireworks going on.  Inside, my precious newborn is asleep in his bouncer at my feet as I read today's post on the LPM blog and the comments.  Beth asked us to describe 2011 in three words.  Before I did mine, I read through some of the women's responses and my heart both aches and rejoices.  This compassion is new to me.  I find myself praying for these women and truly wanting what's best for them.  And I rejoice as some have stories of redemption, new marriages, new children.

I am slightly in awe at the fact that I am at the place I am right now as this year passes away.  I reflect back on this year and the latter part of it was almost too painful to think about.  But I felt like I needed to press on and reflect on it, painful as it is.  I am reminded of how many nights the pain was too great and I felt it would consume me.  The sorrow too deep, and my view of God too small.  The fear crushing, suffocating, life draining.  To say that this year has been tough would be an understatement.  In reality, the whole year hasn't been horrible, just since June.  It hit me last night that it has been six months since my Husband and I have separated. Five months since he filed for divorce.  I cannot believe it has been that long.  I can't help but feel hope though. Hope that his heart will change, hope that he will be brought to repentance from the Lord, hope that our marriage will be redeemed and restored and that our testimony will be used of God to bring hope and faith into others' broken marriages.  I feel that God is up to something big and I want to be ready and prepared.

I know this post is rather dry and not full of spiritual meat, but I just felt like I wanted to post a final post for 2011.  Which technically, is no more. My computer clock says 12:00 now. So, Happy New Year :)  It is a new year, but I don't look to a new year to bring about fresh change and a better life, like the world is pushing right now. I look to my God. And ohhh, He is mighty, He is faithful, He is loving, He is here, He is for me, and in 2011 He promised me "I will get you through this."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Life is not an emergency

   I absolutely love it when a snow fall sneaks up on us.  I was up late last night, which seems to be an unhealthy habit I have acquired lately, it's the only time I can have some 'me' time.  As I was cleaning the bedroom I just happened to open the curtains and was completely caught off guard.  The sun set on a land that was dreary and lifeless and now the moon illuminates a thick blanket of snow that covers everything.  I love it. It all looked so alive, the snow falling soft and fast.  It was one of those snowfalls where the flakes are tiny but many.

   Now, this morning the world is completely changed.  One of my favorite things when the snow comes is how it casts a warm glow into my kitchen.  I live in a house that was built in the early 1900s, and every room is painted a different color.  When we first moved in I really wasn't fond of the colors.  The only room I liked was our bedroom that had a very calm blue.  The kitchen is also blue but it just didn't seem fitting for a kitchen to be so blue. However, all the colors have grown on me by now.  And now that blue that I once disliked so much, I absolutely love in the winter time.  Combined with the glow from the winter wonderland outside, it is one of my favorite rooms to be in.

  I know it is not Monday but I want to make this post my "Multitudes on Monday" post because I am reminded to stop and take it all in.  God is speaking to my heart that, truly, no matter what my circumstance, I really can give thanks in all things.  I don't know why I have felt like I am exempt from being thankful and, dare I say it, happy because of all that I am going through right now.  Truth is, I haven't been thankful for much lately.  Don't mistake that for not having anything to be thankful for.  God has showered blessing upon blessing on me in this season of turmoil; and yet, I walk around in a thankless, hopeless, joyless stupor.  Perhaps I felt that allowing myself to be thankful and joyful meant I was okay with my situation and the last thing I want is for God and my Husband to think I am okay with what is going on.  Or, perhaps, being human, I just like licking my wounds.  I do have that tendency in me.  Whatever the reason, I feel God gently whisper in my ear "Sara, it's okay to be thankful.  Do not be afraid to find joy where you are.  Do not be afraid to be happy in your circumstance, it does not mean you have to be happy with your circumstance."  It sounds ridiculous I know, God telling me it's okay to be thankful. Of course it's okay!!  When in the world would it ever be ill-advised to be thankful??  That's what fear can do to you.  That is what trying to control everything will do to you.  It strikes me too that we are commanded to give thanks to God, but notice how God did not say "Sara, I command you to thank Me right now!  That is enough of taking Me for granted, you had better fall on your face this instant and start being grateful!"  He is so much more gentle than that.  He is not exempting me from the command, but God knows my hurt, He knows I am fragile...and He loves me.  He speaks to me in love, and the more He does, the more I love Him.  Oh, how I am loving getting to know Him more and loving Him more.  I want my actions to speak that as well, I want to show Him that I love Him, not just write about it in a blog.

Today, I am reminded of Ann Voskamp's words, "Life is not an emergency."  Funny, how I am simply a Mother of two boys right now and I have been treating life like it's an emergency.  As if there is no time to do anything but worry, fret, get this and that done.  And, no Noah I can't play with you right now there's things that need to get done, no Nehemiah I can't hold you and stare for hours into your precious face because I have work to do, and no God I cannot stop to think about You, or thank You, or spend time with You, because....because....well, because...I don't know.  And that's just it, I don't know why this has been my attitude and mindset for so long.  I look back and ask myself what was so important that I couldn't (or more accurately wouldn't) make time for my own children and my God, my Lord and Savior.  The One who gave me life, who offers me abundant life if only I reach out and take it, who has held and cradled me through such a painful time in my life. The One who watched me walk away for so many years and completely defile what He created, but when I chose to come back there truly was "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1) And that's not just a one-time occurrence for me.  Daily, it seems, I walk away from Him to serve myself and time and time again He saves me from myself and pours His love out on me rather than condemn me.  What is so important and urgent that I can't even set aside one hour for Him, or even just a moment to thank Him, reflect on His love for me, to remember all that He has done for me. The answer is nothing. Nothing is more important than Him.  And after Him, nothing is more important than my children.  Yet, so easily we believe the lie that we don't have time for them. Yes, laundry needs to be done, dishes washed, house cleaned, e-mails replied to, errands to run, and all that jazz.  But if I'm being completely honest, I haven't even been doing those things.  I'm just being honest.  I've mostly been wasting my time whether it's trying to put my hair in a sock bun, teach myself how to put on makeup the correct way (yes, I am pathetic), or the biggest time consumer..the computer.  I feel absolutely horrible admitting these things, that I have put such trivial junk in front of spending quality time with my children.  But I feel led to be completely honest and lay it all bare.  That last thing I want to do is put on a mask and pick and choose as if creating a highlight reel.

Whew, I think this may be enough for now. I could go on for much longer sharing, it feels good to write, and it feels even better to be taking steps in the direction God would have me go.  For starters, instead of pushing everything aside to write this post I did it in bits and pieces in between taking in this beautiful wonderland, my warm kitchen, my hilarious toddler, and my absolutely precious baby.  I have to share one more thing before I end this post. Nehemiah was my inspiration for today to stop treating everything as an emergency.  I was reading my daily devotional by Girlfriends in God and while I read the words to Silent Night,
"All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild"

  I had a picture in my head of a glorious starry night, quiet and peaceful, and Mary, a new mother holding her firstborn child.  Basking in the beauty that is a brand new born babe. I pictured her starring at his face for hours and "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19) And I wondered "why can't I do that?"  And nothing came to mind why I couldn't.  Life is not an emergency.

This is the promotion video for Ann Voskamp's Book "One Thousand Gifts" and I feel it is really fitting and a great reminder. Please, take a moment and view it...and remember.

Things I am thankful for....

~*~ Fresh new blanket of snow, making all things new
~*~ Having an empty garbage can
~*~ Nehemiah's eczema clearing up
~*~ Having a newborn babe
~*~ The opportunity to stay home with my children
~*~ A Father who teaches me to treasure this time, because it is only temporary
~*~ My coffee cup
~*~ A clean bedroom
~*~ Fresh balsam oil plugin in my bathroom
~*~ Freedom to enjoy and be joyful during this painful time
~*~ The hope and His promise that He will get me through this
~*~ How each time I stop and name a gift and truly let it soak in, it really does bring warmth to my heart and it allows me to "taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Purposeful Waiting and Waiting for a Purpose

After my incredible time with the Lord and Jesus this morning I started to feel empty again.  I still strongly felt Jesus in the room so I asked Him. "So what? That's it?  We just had this wonderful time together and now I'm just to go on with my day?" It just didn't seem right, seemed almost trivial...actually I'm not sure that's the word I'm looking for. All I'm saying is that something in me said that an hour and a half with the Lord in the morning isn't enough for me.  It was so God-filled and I needed it, but I need more than just that. I need Him every minute of every hour of every day.  How do I get that?  I wanted to stay in that place for the rest of the day, but realistically, I have two boys that need to be taken care of both physically and spiritually.  I have a household to run and errands to do, and today specifically, Christmas presents to pick up.  I couldn't stand the thought that my time with Him only exists when it's quiet in the house and I'm sitting down in my Bible.  Because I just can't do that all day, not because I don't want to, but I just can't.

It's then He reminded me, "You have Me.  I am with You every minute, of every hour, of every day.  It's up to YOU to spend your day with Me."  I may not be able to spend my entire day on my couch with my Bible open and spending alone time with the Lord, but I can spend my entire day with Him.  Intentionally looking for Him and His presence in everything that I do. Speaking to Him as if He is really there. No, not as if, because He really is! But to mentally picture it, to make it more real to me, to make it a reality, not just a thought or imaginary friend. In fact, that was my prayer to Jesus this morning.  I told Him I needed to feel Him real, I needed Him to be a reality in my life, not just a fictionary friend. Because sometimes I feel like that's all He is, is just a fictionary, imaginary friend that I make up to make myself feel better. When I sense I'm being hugged and held I need to know that's really Him, not just something I'm doing to self comfort myself. Does that make sense? Am I alone in that?

So today I am going to be looking for Him.  To spend my day with Him, in everything that I do.  And I ask for protection as well because I can already feel the enemy trying to steal this all away.  Telling me that this will never last, it's just a short phase and then I'm going to be back to 'reality' which is hopelessness, depression, and a life with no purpose. That following God will be boring and unfulfilling. It is a lie that has ensnared me, but I feel the Lord quickening me to see it for what it is and to sense it as soon as it starts creeping in.

It's hard to see the purpose in my life when my day is filled with such mediocrity it seems. For example, my day will go something like this today: it is now 9:15 in the morning, soon, Noah will be up and I'll feed him.  I need to find some important papers so I can get my newborn, Nehemiah registered with my tribe and also to apply for LIEAP. I also need to get my application for Noah to attend early preschool turned in.  A little before noon I need to get all of us ready and out the door for Nehemiah's one month check-up.  After that, we are headed to Missoula to pick up Christmas presents for Noah and Nehemiah.  Then, when we get home it will be time for bed. As I type all that I feel a little stressed, and there really isn't anything special about it.  But I also know that when all that is done with the Lord, it is anything but mediocre.  And, in the big picture, it is just another piece in the puzzle.  The Lord will use this day to draw me nearer to Him, to refine me, to teach me, to make me into the woman and warrior He has designed and destined me to be.  Also, I must never forget....that is the day I mapped out, but at any given moment He can change it all.  He is not confined to what I say my day is going to be. What is my point? My point is....I'm not going to try and figure it all out.  One step at a time, one day at a time.  My mission and purpose for today...to spend it with Him. It's like practice ya know?  Today, I am practicing spending it with Him, looking for Him, obeying Him.  He is up to something, I just know it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oooooo Baby!

Just stoppin in real quick to say....I have not fallen of the face of the earth, or given up on blogging for that matter. I just am a little preocuppied with my new baby BOY!  Nehemiah Lee was born Wednesday, November 16 at 8:31 a.m. He weight 9 lbs 4 oz and 21 inches long.  I am enjoying my time soaking in my angel from heaven.  Will be back soon for more blogging :) when I'm done smelling heavens scent off my newborn :) 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gratitude is Not About Me

   I am sure by now Ann Voskamp has become a household name.  Kind of like the Beth Moore of the blogging world.  I received her book One Thousand Gifts around my birthday this past January.  I had come across her blog in December of last year through Gwen Smith, a Girlfriend in God ( Girlfriends in God website ) in her Facebook status.  She was sharing a post that Ann had written about Christmas and her words to describe Ann was "She drips Jesus".  Now, having followed her blog ever since, I couldn't agree more.  I can relate to her so much because I see in her a Mother who desperately wants to 'get it right'.  Who shocks herself when her flesh rises to the surface and she finds herself dealing with her children in a *gasp* ungodly way.  Who would easily label herself as a mess.  But what Ann has grasped and I think I am starting to get it to is that we, ourselves will never 'get it right'.  Only through Jesus could we ever possibly navigate through the messy life of being a Mom, or just being a Christ follower for that matter.  We alone do not possess the ability to do as Jesus would do. Only Him through us.  So often I find myself trying to do this all on my own. I pray to Him and seek Him but it seems to me that as soon as I say 'Amen' I'm trying to follow Him through my own strength. Forgetting that I have the Holy Spirit that I can consult with throughout the day. Especially when I find myself at a standoff with my toddler for the umpteenth time today.
   All this to say, I received her book in January and tried to read it, I don't know how many times.  For some reason I just always ended up no further than the first few chapters and then things would come up and it would slowly work its way back onto the bookshelf only to be started over a few months later.  This summer, when the storms really hit and I found myself gasping desperately for air while being pummeled with wave after crashing wave, I finally read through the whole book.  But found that I never put it into practice.  Now, I have picked it up again, determined to try again.
   My soul feels weary most days.  I know I'm growing and learning, but I still feel rather lifeless.  I am starting to get off the floor or despair and survive, but we are called to thrive.  To be of use to the Kingdom.  On a whim it seems, I've picked the book up again and resolved to really commit to this life of thanking Him in all circumstances.  To unclench my fists and be willing to receive all that He gives.  It must be an appointed time because I have now come across this message of gratitude and thankfulness multiple times in all of the daily devotionals and blogs that I read.  Of course, it could also possibly be because it is November ;)  Either way, I admit that I tremble a little.  It's the trust thing again.  Can I really open my hands and with palms facing the heavens accept what He gives me?  Or accept what He does not?  Can I accept this divorce? Can I accept my Husband in the arms of another person?  I think gratitude is not just about accepting what God gives us, but accepting His decision to not give us something.  And the one thing that Him and I are working so hard on is to transfer my head knowledge to my heart.  My head knowledge knows that there are times when God simply will not give us what we so desire. Even if it's a good thing, like my marriage being reconciled.  Either because it is not the right time and giving us something so easily or early could be harmful to us. Or because He simply will not force someone back into a marriage.  My head knowledge knows that His decision is in my best interest. Always. But my heart has a hard time living and believing it.
  For me, I feel like this season would be one of the hardest seasons to push past my own pain and choose to look at all that I do have instead of yearning for all that I don't.  Namely, my marriage.  I fear I won't be strong enough.  It goes against my very nature to be thankful and to not pout and lick my wounds.  However I know that unless I pick up 'an attitude of gratitude' I am going to be one miserable person.  I want to wake up, I want to fully live, I want to be open to receive all that He has for me.  And my life's desire, my plea is that God will be enough for me.  That I won't want anything but Him.  Because there, I am safe.  He will never let me down.  He will never tell me He doesn't love me, or make me feel like I am not worth fighting for.  He fought for me already, and that was on the cross.
   So today I see, and press on to live out the fact that gratitude is not about me.  It's not about when things are going right in my life.  When I am receiving the things that I want.  Gratitude is about thanking and praising God for just being Him!  This Thousand Gift List is about opening myself up to see Him and all that He has created for us, and I cling to the faith that through it all I will see these gifts as God's love letter to me.  I admit I'm not there yet and I easily fall into the trap of just writing down pleasant things.  But I press on, and I know He will be faithful to complete the work He has started in me.  I feel He has prompted me back into this, so therefore I know He will walk me through it.  I want to "taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm 34:8

Picking up where I left off in my previous attempt to count a thousand gifts from Him...

173. Noah's joy and laughter playing with a balloon
174. Excitement and anticipation replacing fear on my upcoming C-Section
175. The re-determination to fight for joy
176. The sky this morning as I wait outside the shop. Baby pink, soft blue and gray intermixed in a thin layer of fluffy clouds that covered the whole sky to the mountains
177. Taking a different, more gently approach to getting Noah to the door at daycare without me having to carry him, and it worked! I pretended we were racing to the door. He still wouldn't come. I just put my hands on my hips and without raising my voice simply said "Noah, come on." To which he giggled and came running. Then we raced to the door all smiles.
178. Having my debit card not work so I'm not able to make any impulsive purchases online
179. The baby's hiccups, gentle nudgings bringing me comfort and companionship
180. Yellow toy car in my purse
181. Overcoming my fear of darkness and sleeping with my door open and the hall light off so that Noah's door could be open without the light keeping him awake
182. Trusting God to take care of me and keep me safe, giving me the courage to sleep with the lights off having faith that He resides in my home so therefore it is a safe place
183. No longer feelings suffocated by the fact that my time with just one child to love and care for is almost over.  The panic is gone and replaced with joyful anticipation. Seeing it as a gift, not a curse.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

This Challenge is Not About Me

I'm not cheating or copping out I swear ;) I knew when I read about this challenge that it is just the type of challenge I needed.  I've been asking God for some time to make me into the person where He is on the throne and He is first above all in my life.  More of Him, less of me.  What better way to work towards that than 17 posts of it not being about me, but about Him? Well it's great in theory...unless you really aren't getting it.

Ya I can write it...but am I feeling it in my heart?  Am I really putting it into practice?  One thing you must know about me is I am really hard on myself.  I take matters of my faith and growth very seriously. To a fault almost.  But other times I think it greatly benefits me. It keeps me from being a lukewarm Christian.  And I hold to the faith that my discipline to not accept just average will shape and form me into the woman of God that He wants me to be.  So for me, just simply writing the day's post about a certain subject and how it's not about me is not enough.  I want to write what is resounding in my heart and what the Lord is showing me and what I am resolving to change/implement into my life and walk with Jesus. 

I am sure some of you are thinking "Well ya, duh, that's what you're supposed to do."  And I commend you for getting it from the start :) I, on the other hand, realized last night that without realizing it I fell into my trap of writing the right thing rather than writing what God has put on my heart or sharing a lesson that I've learned from the Holy Spirit and something that I am resolving to put into my own life's daily practice.  I have a habit of always wanting to give the right answer.  To say or write what I know would be the appropriate answer or what appears to be godly wisdom beyond my years.  Now don't get me wrong, I don't always write this way.  But I'm must admitting in this case, I have been.  Which has led me to today's statement. This challenge should  not be about me.  It should be about Him and what He is going to show me through the next couple weeks. I am resolving to let the Lord and His Holy Spirit guide me each post and show me, rather than me using common sense on the things that are supposed to be about Him and not me.

So today, I have truly realized, this challenge is not about me!

* I feel like I have to put in a sidenote that this does not mean the last three days have been made up or that they are not true (trials, time, and my children are about Him and not me). I just want to challenge myself  (once again, in no way implying that yall haven't gotten this concept from the start!) further in letting God into this challenge (imagine that, letting God into a challenge that is supposed to be about Him) and letting Him tell me what each "Not About Me" should be and in that change me and refine me.  More of Him, less of Me.  Just felt I should clarify that ;)