Wednesday, October 30, 2013

even in the small...

in a small town just north of us, there is a street that draws crowds by the hundreds this time of year.  nearly each house on this street goes "over-the-top" with their Halloween decorations and displays.  this past saturday evening we decided to bundle up and venture out as a family to check out the latest "tricks and treats" this stretch of pavement has to offer.

prior to going, i asked my husband if we could stop at our storage unit so that i could dig out a Halloween costume.  i've dressed up as the "Twister" game for the past five Halloweens and decided to change things up a bit.  last year my mom made an adorably beautiful peacock costume for my 8 year old daughter.  it was time to snag it for myself!

dusk was upon us and there was little sun left to light our way through our storage unit.  i wasn't expecting the wave of emotion that swept over me as we opened up that door.  but, there before me I found my whole life packed away into boxes.  temporarily stored and waiting.  a stack of boxes had started to collapse and one of the top ones had fallen over, spilling it's contents. my "thanksgiving" bin.  i was hardly feeling thankful.  i had to climb high to reach it.  as i began to collect and re-box it all, i just about lost it.  the air all around thick and stale.  breathe. my heart felt as heavy as all of those drooping boxes being sucked down deep into gravity.

i felt wearisome, and irritable, weepy, and a bit frustrated.  i found the skirt to the peacock costume right away.  but i was unable to find the matching hat.  it was dark.  i was in a funk.  i quickly and quietly returned to the car, not wanting to spoil the mood of the night.  i knew i had placed that peacock hat somewhere "safe" where it wouldn't get smooshed and damaged.  and here it was, less than a week away from Halloween, and i couldn't find it.  great.

over the next few days i scoured the house looking for that silly hat.  it was nowhere to be found.  i was beginning to think that for the 6th year in a row,  being "Twister" was not so bad.  on monday morning, i began untangling my heart through pen and page.  pouring out my latest concerns and heart struggles to the Lord in the wee morning hours before the rest of the house awoke.  toward the end of filling up my prayer journal with thoughts and requests, i prayed, "Lord, this may seem silly, but please help me find the hat to that peacock costume.  Halloween is this week and I have no idea where it is.  Lead me to it."  then off i was to making PB&Js and joining in on the mad morning rush.

i was meeting a friend that morning for breakfast, and after the kids were whisked away on the school bus, i went down in the basement to grab a card.  i grabbed a bin off of the shelving unit that houses all my craft supplies, and crouched down on the floor to open it up.  as i glanced to my side, i saw a box.  underneath that covered box was a clear bin filled with my girls' retired dance costumes.  and there i saw glorious feathers peeking up from under the lid.  my peacock hat!  He led me right to it, just as i had asked.

immediately, i lit up and a smile spread wide across my face and danced along my heart.  God had heard and answered my prayer.  and within an hour's time!  instantly i thanked Him.  and a great truth resonated from deep within.  if the God of all the earth cared enough to listen to my measly little prayer about a silly peacock hat, and could take care of that...surely He was concerned about the greater struggles of my heart.  and those, too, were safe with Him.

if you are quietly or outwardly struggling, take courage in the Lord.  He can handle all of your "stuff," and He is worthy of being sought after and trusted.  with all of the "big" matters in life, and even with the little ones.  if it matters to you, it matters to Him.  He takes notice of every detail of your life.  it doesn't escape Him or go unnoticed.

it may be a marriage crumbling, an unruly child, or a struggling career.  perhaps it's disappointment after disappointment because life looks different than how you had imagined it to be, and you're just plain tired of the "same-old, same-old," and have begun to lose hope.  maybe it's an illness, weakened faith, financial strain, a great loss, an emptiness you can't quite put your finger on, or a gaping wound of the heart.  it may be an unfulfilled dream, a lost loved one, a lost vision and life purpose.  or something as simple as a lost set of keys, or a silly missing peacock hat.  just call upon Him. in the big, and even in the small.  and watch Him show up.  He will.

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
Jeremiah 33:3

Father God,
Thank you for being a God that can do what we cannot do.  Help us to admit our dependence and inabilities, and to call upon You in all times.  You are the answer to all of our needs, both great and small.  You give us access to hidden things...knowledge, heavenly treasure, and even silly lost peacock hats.  We are grateful that You respond to us when we call upon You.  Thank You for being worthy of our trust and praise.  Our hearts are safe with You.  Let us never grow faint in approaching You with our needs, or in praising You for Your wisdom and provision. You are so faithful!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Armored up

Have you ever been coasting through life through smooth waters, and then suddenly something happens that sucks the wind right out of your sails?  Yeah, we've all been there.  And, here I go again.

It has taken a good month and a half to find our groove since the kids return to public school.  I am adjusting to this faster-paced lifestyle, and while we still have our moments of "hectic," the past couple of weeks have been filled with more peace and balance.  Life has been good.

I hate to be the pessimist, but after a decade of parenting, I know that the smooth waters don't always last.  At least not in this family.  There will always be waves and storms and moments that threaten to rock our boat and capsize it.  This won't change.  But what has changed is my ability to cope with it.  To quickly find my Anchor and Lifeboat that will shine Light and steer me to shore.  And instead of getting swallowed up in a wave of discouragement, I fight to stay afloat, knowing that those waves will come and go, and sometimes, we just have to ride them out.  In time, they always subside.

Never before have I prayed so fervently for the hearts of my children.  It's war time, and I am well-aware of my opponent and his schemes.  But, even still, there are times he sneaks up on me with added "oomph" in hopes to knock me down in defeat.  These finicky waters of life.  Some days we take a few strokes forward, and other days it feels like we are paddling upstream against a raging current.  It grows to be exhausting.  This waterlogged heart.

My youngens are 10, 8 and 4.  My job in training them up is not even close to being completed.  This parenting hike is an upward battle, and I'm not done with the climb.  An incident may push me a couple of steps back, but it doesn't mean the top of the mountain will never be reached.  Have you ever been there?  Don't lose heart, weary one.  This perseverance takes grit and muscle.  And sweat and tears.  This long obedience in the right direction is a tall, and sometimes arduous, climb.  There may be moments we feel like digging in our heels, or sliding right back down to the bottom defeated.  Afterall, descending takes a whole lot less effort.

But there are little hearts at stake here.  And they deserve a mama who won't give up.  One who will believe in them and their potential, despite their shortcomings and mistakes.  Who will love them through the "hard."  Who will fight for them, battling for their hearts as if their lives depended on it.  Because, eternally, they do.  So I keep pushing forward, with a heave and a ho, and a thousand million sighs and prayers.  Step by step.  One heavy foot in front of the other, looking for those breaks and plateaus.  Where the clouds part and you reach a place (even momentary) with beautiful, breathtaking view and perspective that drives you to forge further ahead.

So I do.  Like a soldier in battle.  Feet firm.  Armored up.  Unsure of what lies before me, but certain in the cause I fight.  I push aside those voices from the enemy.  Ya know, that bully in the back of the classroom.  The one who points at you and snickers...and when no one is looking, sneers at you quietly mouthing, "You lose. You'll never win. You might as well give up.  You're inadequate. Incompetent. A failure.  Haha...Told you so."

Give me sticks and stones, cuz this name-calling, these taunts and lies, they destruct like no other.  And they take longer to heal too.  So, what do you do when tempted to believe these things about yourself, your life, your circumstance?  You take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.  Don't let the enemy cloud and skew your perspective, your purpose, your worth, your identity. Who does God say you are?  What are His promises for you?  Listen to that voice of truth.  I promise there is life in it.  And you hide His Word in your heart.  That's ammo, my friend.  A holy sword.  It cuts through those lies and slices them right in half... So take that, ya big ol' bully.

And as I do just this, the waters recede and the quiet waters find me.  I catch my breath.  He wrings out the heaviness in my heart, and shines light and warmth back into my spirit.  It spreads across me like noonday sun.  And Peace covers.  I am ready to set sail again, strengthened by His grace.  That big ocean of it.  It quietly laps across me, watering all the right places.  Providing nourishment for me to continue to plant seeds into fragile, tender, imperfectly beautiful hearts.  And I am prepared to forge ahead.  Until that next wave appears on the horizon.

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 34:19
"The righteous man will have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."

2 Corinthians 10:5
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Ephesians 6:10-18
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."

Psalm 23
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul."

Quieted.  Restored.  Armored up.