3.24.2016

When Running Away Isn't an Option

As a kid I only thought about running away a couple of times. I'd pack my bag with a few essentials, mainly food and ride my bike around until my head was cleared. Even then I knew that giving up was not an option. I resolved to stay and fight. The road to the end I desired and away from my current situation, just didn't seem as good as the victory I knew I could achieve if I fought it out.

All grown up, I often feel the same way. Like maybe things would just go away if I could go bury my head in the sand somewhere or drop everything and run off to an island paradise. But that's not me, I keep jumping back in the ring, and keep getting dropped by another punch. Battered and discouraged but still fighting. This too shall pass. The higher the mountain I climb, the more majestic the view.

3.23.2016

Hang Up and Dial 911

We've all heard the message. Trying to get an appointment with the doctor and a recorded reminder comes on, "If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911..." There are some things you go to the doctor for and others that need a little more immediate attention. And then there's the flip side, like when you actually have to go to the emergency room and its packed out with people that probably could wait for the next business day, right?

The same thing happens with us in our relationships with others. You get upset, somebody really hurts your feelings, and you wanna let them know, now. These are the kinds of conversations that start in your head and keep you from sleeping. You feel justified by Scripture. I mean doesn't it say that if your brother offends you to go and talk to him about it? The thinking is alright, but when your first words are something along the lines of "I thought you should know..." you are speaking out of your hurt. Plus its probably not a good sign if you can't discuss this situation during "normal operating hours." Early morning and late night texting are not good means of communicating your need to help your brother.


There is something to be said for allowing yourself to wait it out. Maybe this situation is eating at you in order for you to take it before God and allow Him to give you the words that will help to restore the relationship with your brother.


This might be one of those moments that you're not seeing the picture clearly since you are so close to the situation, or you misunderstood, or that person made an honest mistake and didn't mean to hurt you in the slightest. Forgive, let it go, give it to God. If it needs to be addressed, ask your Father for the right words and the right time, and even then understand that not all things are resolved according to our individual liking or even in our lifetime for that matter. Don't rush in, full of unkempt emotion, creating an even bigger problem.
Hip Homeschool Moms

3.22.2016

Judgy Pants

The older I get the more I understand about judgment. That first impression, second opinion, last ditch effort to win trust. I remember being an 18 year old first time visitor at a new church with my infant son in tow, no ring on my finger and of all the guys to set his cap for me, it had to be the pastor's son. Because you know it can't get judgier than that. All my faults, freckles, and failures were up for grabs and don't even get started on who did I think I was...The greatest thing about it all was that the pastor's son's parents didn't even blink. Sure they had their concerns and their questions and most certainly their doubts. But they never once made me feel less.


Over the years, I haven't been all that good at my judgments. I feel like I'm a pretty discerning individual, and I can certainly smell a lie a mile away. But there are times I jump to conclusions and focus on the up close perspective and have very little grace on what I can't see. I have judged my parents and leaders from the wrong side of the equation. Now that I'm on the other side, being the parent and being the leader, things look a whole lot different. I can understand so many of the decisions that I just couldn't wrap my mind around before. And the crazy thing about it is, that here I am watching people judge me, not knowing all the details, jumping to conclusions and making assumptions. It comes back to you.
My judgy pants are starting to feel a little tight.

3.21.2016

It Could Have Been Worse...

Many times in thinking about my own personal testimony, I shrink back a little in sharing it. The past is the past and I have changed and grown and matured, I'm no longer ashamed of the things God has brought me through. But, what is more often a sticking point for me is that it wasn't all that bad. I was a teen mother, who graduated high school with honors and married the man of my dreams who accepted my little baby with no qualms at all. Our marriage was almost a statistic, but we worked hard and fought a good fight and got back up. The doctors told us that our oldest might have cancer, but he didn't. Together we have survived so many near misses and when sharing I sometimes feel like the happily ever after spoils it. Do people really want to hear about a happy ending or do they want to think that I'm still fighting that dragon of despair until I die? Can I really minister to someone who's going through if I didn't lose it all?

This month I finally returned to the Dominican Republic for a visit. During our stay, my father in law took us past the site where his car accident occurred in November 2014. I know that even though he and his companions survived the accident and God was so good to them in restoring their bodies and continuing to do so, there is never an occasion that he drives down that road and by that tree that he doesn't remember. His mind and body carry the scars from that day.

It struck me that my scars aren't a reason to be ashamed. I lived something and came through on the other side, forever changed. I still have a story to tell. I don't have to lose everything in order to be qualified to testify to the goodness of God. His goodness shines through every time I remember those things I could never forget. The miracle isn't any less just because He came through for our family. I just finished reading a new book and absolutely loved it because while the author didn't have similarities to me in her struggles, her thinking about them was really close to my own. I read a lot of the reviews of the book and some of the reviewers mentioned that she was whiny, and complained a lot about silly things and that the fact that after finally giving in to adopting 4 children almost at once and after 10 years of infertility, God gave her a child of her own. They stated that last fact as if the gift of a child negated all of the struggles that she had gone through. They resented the nice happy little ending and totally missed the point.

This life is a journey and we all know that, but sometimes I think that we look at the Bible and even at other people's lives through a different lens. We can see through to the end and think how we would have done things differently if we had been in that particular situation. The thing is, we're not. We are in our own story. It weaves in and out with others and it does have a beginning and an end, but we are sitting right here, right now and we don't have the vantage point of God.

If my life is a tapestry, I don't want to be a boring stripe. Straight through, one color, no movement, no kaleidoscope. I wanna bob and weave and dance through the storms and be part of the big picture that God is fashioning through His people. Surprise endings, the unexpected visitor, the stormy night. That's what makes a story good and then, inevitably the happy sunset of His returning for His bride. Its a Sleeping Beauty, Return of the King, love conquers all kind of ending and I would much rather be battle scarred and still fighting, than shrinking back with flawless skin and a dead heart.

3.10.2016

Deliberately Living

Twice just this week I've been witness to my husband responding to questions or comments about our form of living. You know I never think too much about it, I mean, its my life. But to hear him answer questions about how we afford to have so many kids and to get compliments on how we manage ministry and family really gets me thinking about how we do what we do. He called it deliberate, this way we go about things. I often feel as if life is happening to me and yet he says that he approaches life this way on purpose.

My husband was raised by his father to be a pastor, on purpose. He was trained up to love others and lead them to Christ and it flowed through every portion of life. The living room and kitchen table were training centers. When I first came into the picture, I was warned that Joshua was being groomed to follow in his father's footsteps and I just needed to go ahead and know that before it was too late. It was already too late for me, I was head over heels. I got caught up in this way of life and now its my own.

In a ministry centered home, things are different. Its not about me and mine but about how can we help you? There can never be too many cups or too many chairs since each one represents another person we can be reaching out to. So many times we live with a plan in mind. An end goal. An attainable future. And then when things go wrong we are crushed and depressed and there is no soothing us. The Bible says that man will make his plans but God will direct his steps. There is nothing wrong with making plans, we just have to realize that the picture is so much greater than what we can see with our own eyes and God has His way for us to follow.

We can paddle out into the waves. We can catch a few, enjoy the surf, revel in the magnificence of the power of the ocean, fully embrace the beauty of the sea. The tide can pull us along and we can lose control of the situation. Maybe the coastline is rocky and the waves dangerous, there are no safe points of exiting the turmoil. Our planned day of relaxation can come to a frightening halt. Just when we are taking steps to give it all up for lost, a beacon of hope shines through and we can drag ourselves to safety on the shore.

 
In our way of living at times I can feel like that surfer. But if I only ever stay on the shore line where its safe, can I ever bask in the beauty of the breakers? I desire to have a life deliberately patterned to grasp as much of the important things as possible.

Hip Homeschool Moms

3.07.2016

What I Take For Granted

Living in America I hear a lot of complaints about our health care system, and I know that they are valid. But for me, maybe having lived outside of our great country and having to face the reality of delivering a baby in a foreign nation, with a foreign way of doing things, I appreciate what we do have access to. On top of that, having given birth to 6 beautiful and healthy babies, I take for granted that when things started to go a little sideways in the delivery room, my doctor had the knowledge and the tools needed to take care of most any problem. I don't tend to dwell in that place, but I realize that things could have gone really, really bad for me and my baby.

Whenever we travel outside of the U.S. I am compelled to see things from a different perspective. Mothers and fathers who don't have the same advantages that my husband and I do. Clean water, regular dental visits, proper nutrition, the availability of quality medical care, are not things I have to think twice about. Sometimes we need to step back from our own situation and see things with another's eyes.


If you are interested in sponsoring a child through Compassion International please check out their program here.

What I'm Reading: March

This month, I've both been reading slower but also been reading through a few more books that fell into the cracks between February and March. Between testing at school, vacation time, and Spring Break I'm looking forward to lots of reading time!





I've been reading these two devotionals since February and will continue throughout the course of the year. Each day is both thought and action provoking. I'm still very pleased in this choice of daily devotions.



As I've said elsewhere, I absolutely love Lauren's writings and I'm loving this as well. I'm still in the beginnings of the reading, but its really challenging my approaches to the metaphors I use for God in my own relationship with Him.



This year I'm trudging my way through Agatha Christie's Poirot mysteries and loving every minute. I love mystery and Poirot is quirky and amazingly deductive.

3.06.2016

uncurling

Sometimes life starts feeling like a tight pair of shoes. When you first slip them on they feel alright and then as the day wears on and you're on your feet a bit longer than you should've been, things just don't feel as comfortable as when you started out.

Its good every once in awhile to just have some time with no agenda, no plans at all, just a slow and deliberate release of tension. Like the end of a long car trip when you finally get to stretch your legs. The trip is incredible and the journey is well worth it all, but ahhh, the rest stop never looked better.

I'm realizing more and more the importance of rest. We buzz around here and there and wear ourselves out. God has a better plan. As I was reminded this morning in my quiet time in the Word, the sabbath was created for man, not man for the sabbath. He desires, commands, for His people to take a break and allow themselves to breathe.

My husband and I are in the midst of a little vacation time right now and one of the hardest things for me to do is walk away from the "life." This morning I woke up in a pastor's home, not my own, and I was cognizant of the difference that Sunday is for the pastor and his family. For us, sabbath is a day of work, not rest and yet, we treat it differently than any of the other days of the week. We worship as a community, and we fellowship with other believers, but ultimately it is a day of work for my husband, the pastor. He is responsible to feed the sheep, as it were. That burden is unique. At times it begins to feel like those tight shoes I referenced at the beginning. Just a little cramped and in need of some down time. At times like this, I love that we have the opportunity to slip away and recoup.

This time its the Dominican Republic and personally, it is a place of memorial for me. As I return here some many things return to me and I am reminded of all that He has brought me through. This returning, this reprieve, feels like the end of my own wilderness wanderings. I take a moment to step back and reflect and allow my legs to stretch, my toes to uncramp. Here I am disconnected from the accessibility of uninterrupted internet service, the immediacy of text messaging, and the sirens' call of cable television. I can get lost in idleness and it is pure bliss.


Sabbath is rest. Ultimately its about remembering who we are, who He is, not what we are so busy doing and becoming. It is just about being.

3.02.2016

Armchair Missionary

When I was a little girl growing up in church, one of my favorite times was when missionaries visited. They brought photos of far away places, told of their adventures, and shared all the ways God had brought them through hardships or scary times. But at the same time the movie, The Mission, came out and even though I wasn't allowed to sit through the film with my parents in the living room, I caught glimpses and was frightened beyond all. Missions work is cool, yeah, but its for those weirdos that don't mind getting killed for the sake of the gospel. Spreading the good news didn't seem as appealing anymore for this kid.

Speed up a few years and I meet this amazing guy, from a super cool family, and they were missionaries to this tiny island I had only heard about because of all the people trying to get out of it on make shift boats. He had this crazy idea that the ultimate life story would include being martyred in a village somewhere. So, of course, as soon as the opportunity arose, I signed up for the first missions trip I could. I got a passport and packed my missionary clothes and jumped on a plane headed for Haiti. Do I need to tell you that I was scared out of my mind?

I will never forget walking off the plane onto the jet way and the hot Caribbean air hitting my face, the melodies of the band playing on the tarmac, the smells of Haiti which one can only experience for oneself, and the people. Pushing and crushing forward and all of my American sensibilities rose up and vied for supremacy. These people are in my airspace...Can they just step out of the way so I can move my luggage on through? Seas of humanity unlike anything I had ever set eyes on in my own little bubble back home.

This first missions trip held so many eye opening experiences for me, most important of which was the realization of what a sheltered life I lead. Reaching out caring hands to people who have never had care shown to them becomes more real in another country. I took for granted the impact of a smile, a hug, just the availability of knowing who Jesus us in my everyday life. A part of me dies just a little bit every time I visit another country. It is a death to self and a rising again of who God has called me to be, a discipler of nations, a preacher of the Good News.

Over the course of our married years, Joshua has dragged me along on so many of his adventures and one of my absolute favorites was Thailand. If I could pick up and go anywhere for my Lord, it would be Thailand. Such a beautiful people, such a lovely country. Our church has worked to raise money to build numerous churches there and the missions organization we love to support is Living Word Ministries International with Charlie and Cathy Milbrodt. Along with building churches, LWMI also has a ministry to the children, Abundant Life Children's Home. They have several homes for children from different backgrounds and within the ministry these children receive food, housing, medical care, clothing and an education.

Last month, our family chose to sponsor a child through Abundant Life and commit to supporting this child monthly. On their website, you can check out their work and profiles of the children who live in the homes. If you chose to sponsor a child, the ministry sends you a letter and packet including a beautiful photo of the child you are sponsoring. One thing that I love about Abundant Life is that Joshua and I were able to visit one of the children's homes while we visited Thailand. We were able to see this ministry first hand and 100% of the sponsorship money goes to the children for their care.




According to the website, there are currently 30 children who are without sponsors right now. If you are looking for a way to make a difference and haven't found something yet, please go to Abundant Life Children's Home and check out the child sponsorship. Maybe I can't go on the mission field myself right now. Maybe I can reach out from right here and help someone.
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