Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A ridge, the flag and making America great again...

Photo from Hacksawridge.movie/ 2016
Last night we got together with some friends and watched Hacksaw Ridge.  Have you seen it?  You should.  In this day and age, where we are seeing division, hatred and selfishness flood our social media feed, we need to be reminded of selflessness by stories like this one.  Stories where people are willing to place their very lives on the line for others. 

We live in a time where entitlement clouds our view of the big picture.  We think we are owed something.  We believe that we deserve so much more than what we have been given.  We can really be selfish. 

Do you realize there is nothing about any of us that deserves the right to open our eyes each morning?  Not a one of us offers such great contribution to this world that deems us worthy to be here.  None of us.  Each morning that we are allowed another breath is a gift.  It means we have a purpose.  It means there is something left for us to do.  Something good.  But we are too blind, too self-centered to see it.

For me, I see it (and this is clearly one of a thousand examples) when I think of the behavior of those celebrity sports figures who refuse to stand for the National Anthem. It is in those moments that I am quickly reminded of the “lostness” of this world.  Yes, men have fought for their freedom to choose whether to stand for that flag but while they make their millions and play their games, men have given their lives.  They have sacrificed EVERYTHING so that these men can put on their little outfits and chase a ball. 

It hurts my heart so much to see the selfishness that exists today.  To know that my kids are growing up in a day and age where people celebrate this kind of behavior.  Behavior that lacks integrity and respect.  Behavior that shines light on entitlement instead of sacrifice. There are days when I wish that each of those who choose this behavior would have to stand on the front lines of a war.  To look the enemy in the eye where men who believe so much in the freedoms of this country and the protection of its people are willing to give their lives for it.

We have watched our country crumble over the last decade. And sadly, it will continue to do so until people choose what is right.  To choose what is good.  To choose to be a people who put those around them first.  To love those around them.  To serve and care for others, FIRST.  Until that happens, we will continue to watch this country suffer from things such as discrimination, hatred, racial division, poverty, and the list goes on.  America can be great again but it won’t come at the hands of a man sitting in a white house.  It has to be a choice that every individual will make to put their selfishness aside, and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
 2 Chronicles 7:14


Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Hiatus, a struggle and the unending depths of His love

I have to share!  I simply cannot contain it any longer! It has left me feeling like I might explode if I don’t share the greatness and goodness of the things happening in my life right now.  Here goes…we begin with a bit of a back story ;-)

There has been much happening in our home over the course of the last nine months.  A lot of spiritual warfare coming at us from many different angles.  I have witnessed my children processing through their battles, while I have been fighting my own.

Mine began nine months ago. Many might not know, but Matthew, my husband, was in an accident last May in which he suffered a concussion.  For the last nine months we have been dealing with the ongoing effects caused by the trauma he endured that day.  It has been messy, scary, heartbreaking and devastating, all to say the least.  There were days that I did not know if I could endure another day of what was happening. 

The enemy was working overtime in my life to remind me of the past I had escaped.  Truly working to take away the amazing blessing of my husband and the gift of our marriage.  I was weary.  Falling back into old patterns of thinking that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough or smart enough to trudge through the mess that was becoming my life once again, I wanted nothing more than to give up. 

The greater those thoughts became, the further I pushed Jesus away.  I became angry at God.  I just could not understand why I was experiencing the struggles that were taking place in my life.  I wanted answers.  I wanted things fixed and back to normal.  I wanted my husband and perfect marriage back. 

As days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, my anxiety grew worse, my heart crumbled into smaller pieces, and hopelessness set in in a way I have never known.  Ever.  But God.

Over the years, but God, has become one of those defining moments when there is a pause in my life and a total shift occurs as God moves in ginormous ways.

About five weeks ago, I began an incredible journey with eight other women through a study of 2 Corinthians.  I did not know what this journey would hold, and we are only half way in, but God in His infinite love and grace has moved in my life in ways that I cannot contain any longer. 

Several weeks ago, early in the morning as I sat on my bed with my Bible pressed against my chest and tears streaming down my face, I made the decision to invite Jesus into my mess.  Deep in my heart, I knew and knew well, that I needed Him.  The hurt, the wounds that had cut so deep in my soul and the unbearable pain left me to recognize that if my heart and marriage were going to survive, it would only happen if I invited Him back into the center of it all. And so I did and nothing has been the same.

Each week of this study, God has pressed into the places of my heart and revealed those things that have to go.  Those things preventing me from giving my absolute all to Him.  Things that I used to love, TV shows I just couldn’t miss, food I love to eat…just don’t bring the satisfaction that they did five weeks ago.  The craving I have for Him is so great that when my eyes open each morning, nothing satisfies until I pick up my Bible and spend time with Him.  It’s almost crazy! I haven’t felt this way in forever! But what I know, is that He changes everything. 

Here’s the thing, my husband hasn’t changed.  Our marriage isn’t back to being perfect.  It is me that is changing.  God is drawing me back into His arms after a hiatus that I chose to take. 

I removed Jesus as the foundation of my life and made it my husband.  I turned my attention, my needs and wants, my anxiety and placed it all upon his shoulders to carry.  It was a load he was not created to carry and the load was too heavy so when the storm came, he crumbled, my foundation crumbled. And the only way to rebuild that foundation was to place it back on the One who loved me enough to give His life for me.

What an amazing lesson to learn.  That in my state of hiatus, God didn’t turn His back on me.  He pursued me.  Lavishly loved me.  He drew me back into the unending depths of His love and goodness. He showered me with His grace and lovingly wrapped His arms around me when I invited Him back. 

It is crazy how in the most unexpected moments of life, God walks into the room and changes everything!

 Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters.  As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line-mature, complete and wanting nothing.
James 1:2-4

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Beautiful Struggles

Photo credit to my amazing sixteen year old
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. 
Romans 8:28

There are just moments in life when, in the middle of what feels like chaos, you can see God’s hand at work.  That’s where I am right now.  This family has been under attack from every which direction over the past year and it has made life crazy.  The moment we get a glimpse of sunlight, another storm hits and we’re running for cover once again. 

I’ve often overwhelmed by God’s goodness, in a good way, when we’re dealing with storms.  Especially when it comes to my kids.  My oldest son and daughter have been dealing with a lot lately.  Going through some really tough stuff and as a mom watching, it makes me want to fight someone ;-)  However, I’ve been through enough of my own hard stuff to know that this is an amazing opportunity to walk through it with them.  To speak truth and attempt to live it out with them. 

Several years ago, I walked through my own personal storm and my kids were forced to walk with me.  They were placed in the middle of a battle which could have destroyed them, however, God has used that time to prepare them for such a time as this.  I’m not saying they are having an easy time dealing with the hurt right now, but it makes the hurt a little more bearable when you know God is there and He is working through the situation.

Lately, I have had the incredible privilege of sitting with my eighteen year old and having some truly amazing conversations. Throughout his storms, he has turned to me, confided in me, listened to me and trusted me.  He knows that no matter what he is dealing with, I am here, I will listen and will walk with him.  

One of the greatest moments through these storms has been sharing scripture with my kiddos.  Especially two of my favorites, Romans 12:17 (Do not repay evil with evil but live in a way which honors God) and Exodus 14:14 (Be still and allow God to fight for you).  The ability to speak scripture into their life is amazing!  But to be able to speak some of my favorite passages while sharing the way in which those passages got me through my own tough stuff….too good for words.

They are having to learn to “turn the other cheek” and stay silent when they just want to scream the truth of a situation.  They are having to learn that God isn’t doing these things but instead, broken people. They are having to learn that there are consequences to the bad choices we make and often times, the enemy will use those choices to try and destroy us through other people.  BUT they are learning that God’s grace and love is so much greater than anything they have said or done and because of His love and grace, they are children of a King and are forgiven and redeemed!!

As hard as my own stuff was I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for the world.  It has given me ability to parent my kids the way they need in times of heartache and trouble.  I love being able to look back on my past and see the way God used it to prepare and shape me.  He used a lot of what I went through to help me walk the hard road of parenting teens.  I’m not saying I have all the answers but I have the most important, God’s word.  And with those words, it has made navigating this road a bit easier.  Even through the storms….

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Struggle: Teach a Child to Follow the Right Way

Teach a child how to follow the right way;even when he is old, he will stay on course

Proverbs 22:6

Parenting can be a gut wrenching, painful process leaving us to feel as if we are headed to an early grave.  However, for me, it is by far my most favorite parenting season.

Currently, I am the mom of three teenagers.  Three teenagers at three very different stages of the teenage years, but teenagers nevertheless.

Parenting teenagers is quite the undertaking.  It is the stage of life in which our kids begin to truly explore the boundaries of their own independence and begin to figure out their place within the world around them.  It becomes the stage where they begin to identify the many aspects which lie within the realm of relationships helping them to understand how they will relate to the world and the people around them.  It is a grueling time because it becomes a time when they really begin to develop the essence of what healthy and loving relationships look like and this time sets them up for the way in which they will function in future relationships.

There are so many aspects of parenting and each play an important role in who your child will become as they mature into adulthood.  The way we interact with our children through our own words and actions will play a part in the way they view the world. 

As parents, we watch our children, our teens, experience the joys and heartache of love, the pain of betrayal, the sorrow which comes with loss, and on and on it goes. Some of the moments we experience with them bring happiness and others extreme pain, but in the end, they look to us for direction and to see the way in which we will handle those moments.

I’ve come to realize over the course of my teenage parenting days that Proverbs 22:6 is a quite interesting passage. It can be looked at from several different perspectives and throughout my teenage parenting journey, I’ve realized that there is quite a bit of really good stuff in the ever so small verse.

As an adult, I have made mistakes and bad choices.  I have messed up more often that gotten it right or so it feels sometimes. As a teenager, I screwed up even more.  The messes I made as a teen set me up for the issues I have had to face as an adult. I have required a lot of grace throughout my forty-one years and this realization has helped me to face the challenges of raising my teens in a different way.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “teach your child how to follow the right way” which I think is an interesting choice of words.  The word teach means to show or explain how to do something.  Knowing the meaning of the word allows me to see that verse in a different light.  If I want my children “to follow the right way,” then I must “show” them exactly what that looks like which means, I must live it out myself.  I can’t just spew out rules and make a list of the way they should live but instead, my life should be a living breathing example of the way in which God has called us to live. 

If I want my children to do good, to live well, to be people full of integrity, then they should see that lived out in me.  Through by words and actions, they should see a parent who extends love, grace, forgiveness and patience to not just them but to those who God places within our lives.  If I want them to walk in obedience and to have a personal relationship with Jesus that is authentic, then they need to see me live out that obedience and demonstrate a relationship with Jesus that is real in every aspect of  my life. 

Writing it all out makes it look so simple.  But living it out can be so frustrating. 

Matthew 22:37-38 says we are to first love God and to second love our neighbors. Those two verses are the starting point for the foundation which becomes the example we live out and “teach” our kids, our teens. Now what exactly does that look like?  Flip on over to 1 Corinthians and the definition for love is broken down beautifully for us.

Love is patient; love is kind.  Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about.  There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude or indecent-it’s not self-absorbed.  Love isn’t easily upset.  Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth-yes, truth-is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

What a list! A list which feels impossible to live up to!  Nonetheless, we are called to love.  So the question becomes; are we living in such a way that we are showing, teaching our kids, our teens how "to follow the right way?"

It’s a lot to think about and ultimately calls for an evaluation of our own hearts and lives. But if we are able to admit our own inconsistencies and struggles, we will become healthier parents and in the end, our kids will be better for it. 

*This is a condensed version of a paper I wrote for a psychology class on exactly this day last year.  Thought is was worth sharing!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Our Advocate

There are many names we can list when we think of the name of Jesus, but have you ever considered that He was an advocate of women?  One who respected and cherished women and their place in this world. Be encouraged <3

Visit Enveloped by grace for more insight.