"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.

<a href="http://www.aholyexperience.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i242.photobucket.com/albums/ff162/annvoskamp/multitudesonmondaysbutton2-1.jpg" ></a>

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 ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Children are Not About Me

   I am sure that almost everyone who is joining in with the Not About Me November challenge will invariably have this be one of the "not about me's".  This "not about me" is, for me, a hard truth to swallow.  More than finances (I work the seven hours, five days a week while I'm nine months pregnant and you're telling me the money I earn from that is not mine??), more than my posessions, more than anything else.  I want to grasp onto these little miracles that were formed in my body, that I gave birth to, that I nursed for 16 months, that I value more than my own life, wants, and needs.  To ask me to give them up, heck, to even ask me to share, I stomp my foot or I cry out "that's not fair"! But, the reality is, they are not mine. They are the Lord's and He has the right to do with their lives what He wills.  Now again, this is where we run into the trust issue, that until recently I wasn't even aware that I had.  To trust Him means to trust that no matter what He allows in their life He has a plan and perfect will. "And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)  If I truly trust Him I would trust that no matter what they are going through or wherever He calls them, they will be safe in His hands. Even if on the outside it looks like disaster.  I am terrified of my son taking the path I chose to take as a teenager.  I'm terrified of him being in danger every day, especially when he is away and out of my hands.

But in all this, I know that my children's lives are not about me, they are about Him.  They were created for the same purpose I was. To glorify God and walk humbly before Him and have a relationship with my Creator and Savior.  I am mistaken to think they were only created to make me happy and fulfill me. Because some days they do anything but that ( I am saying 'they' because I currently am carrying my second child in my belly but in the present moment I only have one child that I have to run after and face daily challenges with, and that's my toddler. But make no mistake, most days the challenges are minor).  I am in no way implying he's hard to deal with, I'm just saying some days he reminds me that he isn't here just to look at and make me feel important by being a Mommy.

Another part of realizing it is not about me is in the way that I raise them.  I must go against my flesh and selfishness to be the role model that they need. My actions, thoughts, and words must point to Christ so that they have footsteps to follow.  Nice words to read, but much, much harder to follow.  Because that means that when I want to yell out in frustration I must restrain and redirect in love. When I want to go to bed and it's only 7:00 p.m. and he wants to go outside and play or just be paid attention to, I must.  Just like Jesus did when He was tired, had nothing to eat and had taken His disciples away so they could get some peace and quiet.  But what doya know, here comes a flock of people wanting Him, needing Him. Does He turn them away? No. In fact He not only feeds them through a miracle of the fish and loaves, but He feeds them spiritually.  When things seem so overwhelmingly tough and the trials choke the life out of me and I feel like I can't go on any longer and the last thing I want to do is take the time to slow down and pray and be in His Word, I know that when I choose to take that path I am not only benefiting me, I am benefitting them.  So that when they are in the same spot some day I will know, because I have been there. I will have tasted the desert sand in my mouth of a broken heart, disappointments, promises made that were not kept, and just plain despair.  No, this trial, this hard season is not just about me, it's about them too. And that's just it. My job is not just to raise them, but to raise them up in the Lord. To raise them to love God and serve them with all their hearts. Again, not about me and just playing "Mommy" for 18 years. There is a greater purpose to parenting.

Their lives, my life are not about me.  Lord, in all I do, may I honor You.

I also would like to share a link of a post by Ann Voskamp when she first started her blog that lead me to my post today.  It's the very last one at the bottom of the page.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Time is about Him

I missed the first day of the Not About Me challenge, so I am going to do two posts in one day to catch up.  So consider this Day 2 of the challenge.

I am learning very quickly that time is His.  God has His own timing that we do not understand.  I was tempted to write "God's timing is always perfect, and God is always on time." But I felt the conviction that my faith and actions reveal that I don't truly believe that.  There are times that I try to muster up the faith to live as if God is not late, that He is not lollygagging. But when I live and believe it is all about me....it is hard.  But even though I do not see His work behind the scenes or see His time sheet and schedule, I feel so strongly that the time has not yet come. And I trust that. I am learning to trust Him.  I am not fully there yet, there is a lot of baggage and mistrust that I don't even know why I have with God, but for whatever reason it is there.  But even so, something so strongly in me resounds and agrees, God's timing is perfect.  Even if I may not have seen it yet in my marriage and the crisis therein, my spirit can't help but shout He is perfect, and He knows best, and His timing is perfect.  It is not about me, or what I think should happen at what time.  It is about His perfect will, and in His infinite wisdom, He knows the timing, He knows when certain things are to take place and how.  It's a lot to grasp and so many questions rise in me. But I feel like I can truly know, time is about Him.

Not About Me November

I have been on hiatus far too long.  I still have reservations about picking up this blog again in that I'm not even sure how to put into words all that I have been going through and the things God has shown me. I so desire to share what He is doing, what He was done, and to allow you to share in my journey in what He is going to do.  But I'm afraid that I won't do Him justice, or that I will share too much.  But I truly feel like I have been gifted to write and there are few things I love more than to share what God is doing in my life....however sometimes that can be confused with me just wanting to share about my life and talk about myself, and if I throw a little God in there then it really isn't vanity is it?

Anyways, I press on, even through the uncertainty because I trust that if I truly am seeking Him and desire to share what I share for His glory alone, then He will be able to use this for His glory and will be able to use this for someone who may need to read it.  Because I'm finding that in this difficult season, something that has helped me the most is hearing the testimonies of others and how God worked in their life.  It has lifted me up when I needed it, and it seems like God has always sent the right person with the right story to me at the right time. Surely someone out there in cyberspace can relate ;) That's what I want to be for others. Even if it's just one person, even if it's just one post out of every post that I ever write.

So to end this rambling, one of the women whose blog I read and she also spoke at the first women's conference I have ever been to, Laura Krokos, has challenged us with a Not About Me November challenge.  Every post (it's supposed to be every day, but I really don't want to promise something I'm not entirely sure I can keep, considering I do not have internet at my home) in November is themed to the realization that it is not about me.  This month every post will be about God, and how it truly is all about Him.  As Beth Moore would say "This is the Jesus show."

In this season in my life it is so easy to make it all about me.  I'm going through some pretty hard struggles that I wouldn't wish upon anybody and God is more present in my life than He ever has been. And I am beyond grateful. I know I could not make it without Him. Ya, maybe after a while I would have mustered up some courage and strength to get off the floor and take care of my kids, but to actually live?  To be able to get up and say "I'm really hurting, my heart is broken.  I just don't see how this will ever get better and stop hurting. But I trust You God, I know You have a plan, and as long as I am following you I am going to be okay." That, is God's strength in me, not my own.  But it is still so easy to make this all about me.  Almost as if I am using God to help me and my crisis.  Please don't misunderstand me, God completely cares about what I am going through, and He will be there every step of the way.  But in the bigger picture, it is not about me.  This is not my home.  This is a hard thing for me to grasp and be disciplined enough to live in.  It's not that this life is pointless and that we should live it to the fullest, but the point is that this life is not all there is...and really, it's not even our LIFE.  God wants us to live it to the fullest, but to the fullest in Him. Because when all is said and done, we are going home.  And when we get there, we are not going to take any of this with us.  When I get home, I won't spend eternity mourning over my marriage, over the loss of what I thought was going to be for the rest of my life.  So, He does care, and He does want what's best for us as we walk through this life, but it's not what He wants us to be all about. He wants us to be all about Him, and His work and His will.  That's why we are here.  We were created to love Him, to worship Him, to be in relationship with Him.  And to share Him.  I want so badly to get it, fully get it. It is not about me, it is all about Him.  More of You, less of me, God.  I'm looking forward to where this challenge will take me.  I so desperately want to be able to focus on my relationship with Him and not be wrapped up in the trivial things of life, or even the hard stuff.  I want Him to be my everything, my all. Because it is only in that place that I am truly safe, truly happy, full of joy, really living.

I apologize if this first post from a long break is boring or stale, but sometime you just have to move and step forward and in being in motion you can be directed.  So, this is me moving, picking up my writing and sharing.  If you'd like to join in the challenge, you can stop by Laura's blog, Beholding Glory here: http://www.beholdingglory.com/

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jewel in My Path

I just had to share this real quick.  I just love it when the Lord plants something along the path of my day that speaks directly to me and is just that extra ooomph that I needed. Of course, it is almost 2 in the morning, I probably shouldn't add anymore oomph to my day.  Anyways I have been having more frequent and more intense anxiety attacks recently.  They are getting to the point that I don't want to do anything, I just want to lay in bed for fear of having another one.  I come across this quick two minute message from Beth about coping.  I can get through this. I especially liked the part where she points out that we can call on the power of the Holy Spirit to tap into an energy beyond ourselves to do what we need to do.  I felt that tonight at Bible Study when I just felt completely drained and I felt a panic start to set in that I wouldn't even be able to drive myself home because the attack would be too intense.  I just felt the Spirit tell me "You can do it. You'll make it home safe, just get through this. I've got you."  Here is the link to the message I heard:

Why am I up so late? I can't stop!  In my defense this seems to be a great time of day because everyone is asleep and the day is over so I don't feel guilty for surfing the internet because there is some 'to-do list' ahead of me because after a certain hour in the evening a 'to-do list' doesn't exist anymore right? It all started with the e-mail from her blog that I get and it has just been a domino effect from there.  I keep coming across all sorts of neat stuff, watching videos, listening to messages.  I'm laughing because tonight's message from Priscilla Shier was on nickels and dimes.  The short of it is we can hold onto nickels when there is a dime that is twice as valuable right in from of us. Translation: We have the God the King of the Universe at our disposal and Jesus Christ in us as the Holy Spirit (the dime) and yet we cling onto books on how to read the Bible, teachers (Beth Moore) who teach the Bible etc. (the nickels) rather than doing it ourselves.  I really relate to that because I am so much more apt on reading a book on how to read the Bible or listening to a message on how to commune with God rather than actually doing it!! Okay, I'm rambling, a pure sign of the 2 am crazies.  Good night!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays

So I have joined Ann Voskamp in her quest (which she has far surpassed already) to find 1000 gifts from God.  I must say that I have been off to a slow start and need to keep my eyes and heart much more open to the daily gifts that I receive from my Daddy.  Every Monday I will be posting my gifts. Enjoy!

  • Noah's dirty hands
  • 2nd grade girl coming out to play for recess arms spread wide, head held back slowly swaying back and forth feeling the air's breath on her face
  • Noah laying on the couch groggy with sleep, toy pressed against his face and he presses the top and it pops, he smiles lazily
  • the first smile of the morning
  • pen's that write in pink!
  • A Bible that once was plain to me, now I use frequently, the Word is magnificent no matter what form it takes!
  • a prayer saying thanks for my food that melts my lips and I realize how loving and patient He is. My heart grows for Him.
  • A beautiful rose wrapped in delightful tissue paper
  • An unexpected surprise-Dennis getting Noah up a few minutes early. His hair wild and he is still mostly asleep, head hanging, eyes closed. He looked so big and cuddly.
  • Arriving to daycare and school safely after a white knuckled drive in the snow
  • smells that take you back. It's not always a specific memory, it just takes me back.
  • Noah eating snow for the first time
  • a long written conversation with Jesus
  • when He answers my questions
  • Our bed, fluffy comforter and all
  • A sunny day after so much winter
P.S. I am terribly aware that I have been absent from my blog...which is typical for me but I do not want to fall into that routine again. I will be posting more regularly now (Lord willing!), I am expecting to share tomorrow a powerful conversation that I had today with Jesus.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

He's Spreading Those Wings

   I finally got internet up and running in our new place! Well, I guess not so new since we have been there for 3 months!  We move so much it seems that each time we move we take longer and longer to unpack and get settled.  Anyways, the great thing about having internet is I can sign back up to get daily devotionals from Girlfriends in God (Check them out! www.girlfriendsingod.com).  Today's devotional was titled "Lost that Lovin' Feeling?".  It was about marriages and what happens when that 'lovin feeling' slowly fades away.  That's a point where marriages either dissolve and end in divorce or people choose to press on to awaken their hearts and strengthen their marriage.  Statistics showed that those who stick with their marriage, the majority ended up having a great marriage after 5 years down the road. Those that didn't, were 60% likely to get remarried only to end in divorce! Wow. This hits me hard because my Husband and I were at that fork in the road not too long ago.  Things did not get better right away after making the decision to stick together but it also has not been 5 years yet.  So I have much more to hope for!
  One thing that struck a chord in my heart was she asked us to remember what drew us to our Husbands in the first place.  You know I've been asked to remember when we first met, our first date, all that good stuff.  I do not think I have really thought back on what drew me to my Husband.  And today, for the first time in a long time, thinking back on that gave me butterflies. Oh, how I have missed that feeling!
  It's so hard these days to compete with the Hollywood movies isn't it?  The romance, witty lines said at the perfect moment, the man with the perfect body and flawless face.  Those are nice, but really, the thing that always gets me is the kiss. The kiss.  It always seems so...perfect.  It's the very thing that makes you feel like your own life, your own romance is so pale in comparison.  It's almost dangerous.  But, have you ever watched a behind the scene on those movies?  That perfect kiss is rehearsed over, and over, and over. And over.
  No, Hollywood is not the place to look to.  You know who really inspires me? Song of Solomon. Her descriptions of her man, how much she longs and lusts for him.  The intoxication of it all.  I can better relate to her because I know she was a real person. I know that she isn't writing to please the lust of thousands of people on the big screen.  Somewhere deep inside I know that feeling is attainable.
  The butterflies in our relationship didn't last long. Could be because I moved in so quickly and we had no money. Could be the stress of working together.  Could be because after two months we were catapulted from courting each other into the role of parents together.  Whatever the reason, our romantic beginning did not last long. A week, maybe.  Okay, so where am I going with this?
  I just feel awakened by that one lone little butterfly flying in my stomach.  I thought that was gone and I had just missed the train to that passionate love.  After two years, after having a toddler and all the stress that comes with just living, that butterfly is able to come out of nowhere I can't imagine how much better it's going to get! I am sure I am making those who have been together much longer than a couple of years clutch their sides in laughter. Indulge me ;)
   I'm just in awe with what God can do.  I know He has a handle on my finances, I know He can heal any marriage, I know He is capable of doing whatever He wills for my life, I've watched Him do it.  But how much do I really believe He can do in my heart for my Husband? I know I'm not alone in this. It's the fingers sifting through my hair in the middle of the night, the lingering hand in the small of my back, the gentle whispers of "I love you" when he thinks I'm asleep that tell me God is working in his heart too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

He is Sufficient

   I have never been good at managing money, which is okay because I have never really had a lot of money.  I do not think there was really a time that I did not feel the frustration of poverty, but I can say that more often than not it is only a mild frustration. It would be nice to have security and be able to get the things I want, but there is also a lot of positive things about growing up below poverty level and currently living below poverty level.  Small things are so huge to me, like going out to dinner, twenty dollars at a thrift store, getting to see a movie in theatres, heck even just renting a movie!  One of the best things about being poor is getting to watch the Lord do miracles with such a small amount!
  When my Husband and I were going through marital troubles last summer our finances felt it.  Before then, I had made a budget for our income and, at the time, I was the only one bringing in the income.  The budget worked great and the Lord was constantly working every day miracles providing for us whether it was rent, diapers, or food.  Being a faithful tither was very important to us and usually we would give more than 10%.  Things were going pretty good. Then, I don't really know what happened. All of a sudden, the budget showed that we didn't have enough money to pay bills after our tithes.  It's not that I intentionally made the decision that we would not tithe, but I stopped tithing first.  Normally, when we received our paychecks we would tithe on it first before we did anything else. Once summer hit we slowly fell into the routine of taking care of our needs first and then whatever left over was the tithe.  Eventually, there was never anything left over.
  I began listening to my budget rather than my God who tells us "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9.  How had I so easily forgotten the times that we had nothing, absolutely nothing, yet everything was taken care of? It doesn't make sense! God's math does not make sense, but it is always perfect and right.
   For a while, I blamed my budget for my disobedience to the Lord.  It was the budget fault for showing me I couldn't tithe. But, I knew that wasn't true. I just stopped trusting the Lord.  I wanted to take matters into my own hands and do it on my own.  I started hearing more and more sermons on the obedience of tithing.  What struck me the most was Haggai 1:6 "You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill.  You put on clothes, but are not warm.  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
  That was my life.  Isn't it strange that without tithing we had an extra $200 dollars each month yet we had less bills covered were far more stressed.
  So Friday, I was listening to Network of Praise like I always do when I am home.  The sermon was the wonderful James McDonald and it was on God being sufficient enough for our needs.  It hit me that I was not seeing it that way.  The only thing that was keeping me going was the hope that we would be receiving our tax refund and school refunds soon and that is what was going to get us through. Well. If I know God, I know He isn't going to let anything or anyone take credit for something He is supposed to be.  There always seemed to be some sort of hold up with the money.  Cranky financial aid women, an incorrect tax return that needed to be ammended. It seemed like it was so close  yet so far.  Isn't it weird that normally I don't realize how broke I am until my son has run out of diapers and there is no money to pay for more.  That seems to always be my tipping point.
  So, there I am, listening to this sermon.  I realize that I don't see God as sufficent.  That I constantly doubt that He is all I need to be happy and be filled with everlasting joy. It's hard not to doubt when we live in a money hungry society that is sending never ended messages that happiness comes from things.  I know in my heart what's right and that the way we've been handling our money is wrong.  I asked for forgiveness and told God that I wanted to hand my money over to Him. To trust Him. He is sufficient.
  I felt calm.  That everything was going to be alright. He would provide diapers and wipes for our son.  I realize too, that God wanted us to relinquish our control over our finances and give them to Him before we receieved a large amount of money. 
  So I start going through all the junk on our coffee table.  We have this little wooden toolbox that we keep all our important papers and memorabilia like our son's wristband from birth, ultrasounds, first pair of moccasins that I made him. I started sifting through it, throwing out stuff that was no longer important.  I find an envelope. It belonged to our old budget when I divided every 'account' like rent, utilities, clothes, gas, etc. into different envelopes.  I thought to myself "wouldn't it be crazy if there was money in there?".  I flip the envelope over and inside is $16.  It was the envelope designated for kid's expenses like diapers and wipes.  The date said the money was put in there in December.  I have no idea how the envelope got in there or even why the money wasn't spent in the first place. I could only laugh and smile at my God who just amazes me. He literally makes my jaw drop.
   He also told me that it was time to use the budget again.  Not to use as a concrete and final decision, but to have order and I think also to watch how even when the budget says we don't have enough, God knows better = )

Do I Know Him?

  Oh, Jesus. I need You more than I realize. Do I even know You? Do You know me?  How close would You say we are?
  Day in and day out, I am consumed with my flesh.  It is a black shadow that comes silently in the night. It sneaks in without a sound, and slowly wraps itself around me like a cloak.  I don't even notice it at first until all at once it seems I am possessed.  Taken over by negative thoughts, bitterness, and constant scowling.  My heart is no longer pure, it's ragged and growling ferociously like starved lion.  Love does not reside here.
  At first the water feels good.  It is refreshing.  Following Jesus is so hard.  It goes against every fiber of my selfish being.  This drowning, indulging in my fleshly thoughts and harboring hurts and licking my wounds, it feels good.  I like the smooth feel of the water, I like not having to fight against my thoughts and feel guilt.  "This is nice", I think to myself. So slowly, the water rises.  It starts at my feet, crawls up to my waist.  I'm wading, oblivious to the danger I am in.  That, or I do not care. I wrestle with loving the unlovable, being nice to those who drive me nuts, having compassion for those who seem to have brought things on themselves.  My judgments may be correct but there is no love, no mercy.  I judge only to condemn, when I should only judge in order to restore, to guide, to shepherd. To love.  I do not give it to God, I do not battle these serpents in prayer.  The water rises.  It's up to my neck now and I am fuming. I read the Word. "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." Overlook an offense!? No.  I will not let them walk all over this church. I will not overlook it Lord.
   I am drowning. No control, just sinking deeper and deeper.  Panic sets in. I do not even recognize myself anymore.  I fight desperately against the water, trying to claw my way up to the surface. Where Jesus is.
 "Help me!" I cry out to Him. "Take these thoughts away from me. Change my heart. Take it away. I only want You!" So why is it that I am still sinking?  Why does His face seem to drift farther away?
   "Do you really want Me?" He asks. "Or do you just want to be saved from drowning?  You say you want to do the Lord's will. Yet you cannot even love.  Do you even know what His will is?" His eyes fill with tears and He says it so slowly, almost a whisper "Do you even know who I am? Do you know Me?"  
  I am stunned.  I feel the weight of the water, my lungs feel as if any moment they will implode, it burns.  Everything burns.  The water is all around me and I have inhaled much of it, yet my mouth feels dry. It is scorched, dry like a desert. Just like my heart.  Do I know Him?  Do I truly want to follow Him?
  "Yes. Yes. I love You, I need You.  I have neglected our relationship, caught up in my own selfish desires. In my own life, forgetting that the whole purpose of this life was to follow You. To know You and make You known to the world."  It's almost like waking up from a dream. I feel as if I have been dreaming, caught up in the woes of my life. In the sandpaper people.  My world, hazy, empty. Constant noise.  Unshakable thoughts, pointing fingers, rushing from one day to the next.
  He reaches His hand down through the water.  I cling to Him.
  We are walking along the shore, and for the first time in a long time, it's quiet.  There is nothing going on in my head except how much I want to stay in this moment with Him forever.  And the realization fills me with joy that one day, not that far away, I will stay in that moment with Him. Forever.

Friday, January 21, 2011

This is....

I'll admit, I am not entirely sure just what this blog is going to be tailored to.  There are blogs of every day life, blogs strictly with teaching of the Bible and some humor and life inserted here and there, inspirational blogs, informative blogs.  Well...I don't know what this is. I just know I love to write, and I think I've started three blogs and never continued a single one.  Maybe this will be a catch all blog. I don't know. I would like to say I have the writing talent that some have in the tip of their pinky like Ann Voskamp, or Shaun Groves.  Let's just say I am a work in progress and so shall be my blog = ) I'll let you know when it fits into a category. Until then, I invite you to join me, Sara, seeking Him.