Saturday, December 15, 2012

freckles and all, she melts me...
Brookie made this picture a few nights ago.  Last night she had trouble falling asleep because of the (limited) news she overheard about yesterday's tragedy in Connecticut.  She kept "acccidentally" interjecting her old elementary school's name into the equation.  Even 7 year  old's have the ability to relate to this senseless incident.  We stayed up together and talked, prayed, and read a little Laura Ingalls Wilder until her heart was settled.  

This mama's heart was up all night.  Each time I awoke thinking about and praying for those families who no longer have the luxury of knowing their child is in the next room over sleeping soundly.  My heart utterly breaks for them.

Family time? 
Yes. A most appropriate time for "tears of joy."
Life is too short to be wasted.
And too precious to be considered anything less than the gift that it is.

Counting my blessings.
LORD, we need you now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

get your eyes off yourself!

There are moments in life where truth hits you over the head like a jackhammer.  Chiseling away the lies you believe, the layers of dust and plank that threaten to cloud one's vision.  Last night I tucked my  older two into bed layering them in warm blanket and prayer.  It's these late night conversations that often mean the most.   Spirit-led dialogue that dawns awareness and sheds light...into their lives, and also my own.  We ended the day, with the need for His brush of Truth to stroke and paint over the complaint and ingratitude that aimed to smear the final picture of our day.  Wasn't it just a post or two ago I mentioned, "ingratitude goes right through me?"  That seeing this ugly beast emerge out of the hearts of my children angers and frustrates me and brings out the "wrath of mom?"

Perhaps it's time I've taken a closer look from within.  They learn what they live, don't they?

As we talked last night, I mentioned to my oldest that we need to pull out the blessings of our lives and have hearts of gratitude.  That instead of thinking about the one or two things that went wrong in a day, we need to focus on all the right of our day.  Surely, it is filled with gifts.

I woke up this morning with Philippians 2:14 on the tip of my tongue.  Where the bitter frost of my own wrongdoing covered the window of my heart.  And He spoke.  With a love and compassion that gently scraped and melted all that left my heart cold and without clear view.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing..."

Oh, have I ever failed in this area.  Anyone who reads this blog has a picture of what our lives have been this past year...the past 2, 3 years.  God has mightily been at work in my heart and has brought me closer to Him and my knowledge of Him than ever before.  Words are inadequate to describe the gift this has been to me.  Yet, this morning I awoke with a heart full of conviction and sorrowful repentance.  Hands-down, I could win a reward..."Complainer of the Year."  

Lately, with the work He's been doing within, and with the belief button switched upward, I've become more aware of my imperfections, my skewed perspective on various areas of my life, and the ways I've fallen short in this journey.  He's pointed them out...not with judgment, wrath, or condemnation.  But rather with kindness, gentleness, and compassion.  A mercy undeserving.

I've been no different that the Israelites in the desert, quick to forget His faithfulness and provision.  Griping about meat, when everything I've hungered for to sustain and be well-fed has been freely provided.  Heaven's bread falling before me, ready to be gathered.  Begging to go back into slavery and distrusting what good He had laid out before us.  His parting of the Red Sea all but a blur or a distant fairytale.  A Deliverer?  How could I not remember.  I've complained my way through this journey one dry and parched footstep after the other.  To Him, to myself, to my family, and to my friends.  Such a slow learner.  And yet, He's been patient.  And faithful.  And good. Always.  Moments I've cried out to Him feeling forgotten, He's always reminded me that He was near.  When He could have cried back, "No child, you're the one who's forgotten me!"  I wonder how long I've kept myself in the desert, away from my promised land, because of this.  Sometimes, what you believe becomes what you live.  And what you become. Your reality is often shaped by who you come into agreement with...Are you believing God, or are you believing the enemy of your soul?  Believe the enemy and you'll get what he wants for you.  Believe God and you'll get what He wants for you. Seems like a no-brainer, yet I've allowed my eyes to focus inward, on the lies, on the self-pity, on the complaining...and then I've seen myself living in it.  My reality.  An ungrateful one.

There are many areas in my life where I have failed, and I feel ashamed, yet thankful that He hasn't left me here in the dark to wallow in my self-induced pity.  I've allowed myself to stay there from time to time.  Shame on me. See, the thing about complaining is that it takes one down a dangerous road.  That mindset of ingratitude stains a heart and threatens to leave it in a pit.  A murky, sticky, life-sucking one.  But we have a choice.  I'm choosing agreement with God.  In His commands, His promises, and His ways.  I'm excited to see how my life and my heart will take shape from here on out.

As I searched for this verse in my Bible this morning, I found my own handwriting in the margin that penned, "Get your eyes off yourself and onto God."  Ouch.  How can we have such moments of blindness?  And how this must have pained Him so.  Each moment I've complained about my circumstance has been a discredit to the God who has already done so much for me.  It's as if I have written off all He's loved, sacrificed, and given...and thrown it into a trash pile.  Unimportant.  Unworthy of noting or keeping.  All the while, asking for more, more, more.  When the One thing He's already given has been (and will always be) my more than enough.  Jesus.

I have not been the picture of grace.  I've been self-absorbed.  My constant complaining has been more than's been sin.  I want to live this life thankful for all I've been given.   I want to love this life He's given me.  Every breath of it a gift.  This family, this country, this generation I've been placed in.  Too many freedoms, riches, and blessings to ignore.  That in this huge galaxy of many vast galaxies, the spec of my life matters to Him.  Yet, I have given Him a spec of thanks in return.  

LORD, increase my awareness of You.  Increase my fear, and awe, and reverence for You.  Increase my love for You and others.  Increase my wisdom and knowledge of You.  Increase my faith.  And increase my vision.  Stain this heart with gratitude overflowing..."so that I may become blameless and pure, a child of God without fault in a crooked and deprived generation, in which I shine like a star in the universe as I hold out the word of life." (Philippians 2:15-16)

The Message reads:
"Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing."

Lord, I fix my eyes on You.  On what is unseen versus seen.  Thank you for the work You have been doing in me and in my circumstances.  Even when I haven't been able to see it, You've been behind the scenes in Your perfect way, with Your perfect plan.  Thank You that You are still at work.  You led us here because of Your love. You've used the "hard" because You saw no better way to bring us closer to You.  This path has been the right one for us.  A divine road paved by You.  May I have an aggressive heart that waits on You in full expectation as Your plan for me and my family unfolds.  May I never second-guess You.  Let my life be a breath of fresh air, providing people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.  Let my life have meaning, that shows Your good work.  LORD, forgive me.  Shine through me.

Thank You.  Thank You.  Thank You.
Give thanks to the LORD for He is good.  His love endures forever!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

thou shalt not yell

After a not so successful trip to the market with a whiny 3 year old, unnecessary complaining from my older two (which landed them both in their bedrooms as soon as we got home), crowded aisles, and long waits at the meat counters, I pulled out of the parking lot with my nerves a bit frazzled.  The lunch hour was overdue, and three little hungry voices in the backseat reminded me of it.  The day was slipping away and we had not yet schooled.  I really wanted a nap, but duty called.  Not even 5 minutes into our History lesson about the rise of Ancient Greece, the bickering and bantering began again. 
So, back to their rooms they went.
(with a yelling mom trailing almost too close behind)

Upon her dismissal, I was handed a crumpled up piece of paper from my little 7 year old writer.
Translation:  "I'm sorry mom.  I just have been, so I can say it anyway.  But, we should listen to you should never yell at kids.  I'm not telling you what to do, but that is the right thing to do.  And I'm sorry.  I love you."

She had me thinking, this little girl.  Guess we all could stand to have a bit more grace toward one another.  This mama included. I chuckled a bit when I initially read this cute little note...but I admit, there was a little sting in there too.  I know there's room for improvement in this area.  I'd recently been convicted, even confiding in others about my surprisingly lack of patience with my kids lately. They learn by example, right?

"But everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger."
James 1:19

"Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly."
Proverbs 14:29

A little girl's wise words + a little inner-reflection= a lotta light shed today. Life is good, but why not make it better.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."
Philippians 3:12

 Pressing onward.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the melted "wrath of Mom"

Ingratitude goes right through me.  Try whipping that up with a side of sass and a displeasing, disrespectful tone of voice, and serving it on a platter to your mother.  When my middle one began crying (real. big. crocodile. tears) for the second day in a row over wanting me to buy her some Littlest Pet Shop toys. And demanding and pleading that I buy them (on eBay of all places!?) NOW.  As in today or yesterday...(despite the fact that we've discussed Christmas only being 3 weeks away, and reminding her the true reason we even celebrate this holy holiday), it was all I could do to contain the "wrath of Mom" from unleashing onto her 7 year old frame!  Through gritted teeth and a struggling hushed voice (the littlest was napping), and a face I'm sure was as bright as a beet, and possible steam exploding from my ears, I sent us both to timeouts.  Distance to calm.  There are moments when our children come to the epiphany that they have pushed mom or dad over the edge One. Too. Many. Times.  Such was the case of my girl today.  Sworn not to leave her bedroom of doom until I returned.  With a mention that it could possibly be for the rest of these daylight hours (or her very life), a repentant heart tried to make right her wrong.  After 10 minutes of letting my blood pressure drop, and inviting Peace in, where it clearly was lacking, a softened-hearted mom returned, sat down on her softened-hearted daughter's bed to find a 7 year old's softened-hearted prayer.  

This here's a keeper (may have to double click to enlarge):
"Dear God, please not make my mom upset and help me with my reaktshins (reactions) and P.S. I'm so sorry. Sorreyer (sorrier) then anything.  My feelings and I want to have a good Christmas.  With others that don't have firncher (furniture) and please make them have food.  And (in fancy letters) make the waether have snow and make it not riany.  And I want to be a good persone to help the pore.  And make our haerts be thankfull to God.  And when we do things fun and when the fun last, people shodint (shouldn't)  pout at all.  And be thankfull to all of our haerts. Allways be thankfull to God.  Allway.  A-A-A-men."

And there in that moment, the winds of Peace blew right through those pink bedroom walls and covered us snug and tight.  And all that pent up "wrath of Mom" melted away.  And was no more.

Grateful for the beauty found in the heart of this girl.  For a God who continues to do His good work in us (Phil 1:6).  Who doesn't leave us in a state of hopeless imperfection and failure.  And, oh how I fail. Who, even when we deserve His wrath, chooses to show us mercy.  I've so far yet to go.  Melt this heart till it takes the form of Yours.  Lord, do Your work. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Great I Am

This song has been like an electric current to my week.  To my heart.  Charging my spirit with belief and joy magnitude, raising even the very hairs on my arms into heavenward praise, a posture of Hallelujah. The repeat button, a strength surge, flowing fervent, urgent, bold, passionate reverence for God Almighty, the King of Majesty.  Somewhere along my days, that "belief" button was flipped, and the flow and power of His Spirit within me reached uncontainable.  A torrent of tear-worthy supernatural faith infused.  Blinding, holy, consuming fire. Breathed in and saturated.

The mountains shake before You 
The demons run and flee 
At the mention of Your name 
King of Majesty 
There is no power in hell 
Or any who can stand 
Before the power and the presence 
of the Great I am, the Great I am, the Great I am 
the Great I am, the Great I am, the Great I am 

I'm claiming this, O Mighty Mountain Mover.

Hallelujah, holy, holy.  Who is worthy?  None beside Thee.  
The Great I Am.

Mad. In. Love. Today.
Join me.