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

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/