Monday, August 27, 2012
I woke up today and it felt like fall. I love fall! The first day of school, no more 100 degree temperatures (so I hope), a new season, and pumpkin spice lattes. I got excited! So I drove Lillie and I to Starbucks to partake in a pumpkin spice latte, only to find that they don't arrive for another week! Sigh. And then I realized that fall really doesn't arrive until Sept. 22. (thank you, Google.) As I felt stuck in between 2 seasons, I realized just how much that pertains to my life currently. I have been involved with Young Life (YL) for 18 years now! My first set of years, I was just a kid attending. Then I became a Senior leader. In college at A&M I went through YL leadership training but ended up not doing it out there and just helping out back home when they needed it. I also interned for MCYM YL in Europe and worked at camps. Eventually I switched colleges to Houston Baptist University and then got placed on the League City YL team. I volunteered there for a few years, then became the head volunteer team leader in our staff's absence. A few years after that, I finally came on staff with YL and stayed in my same area. I have been on staff with YL for 5 years now and come August 31, 2012, I will officially retire. When I first announced that, it was bittersweet. I decided to go off staff so that I could devote my attention to be a stay at home Mommy and God graciously provided for us to do so! However, in fully embracing one child, I feel as if I am letting go of another. Alongside my many pets :), YL and these kids have been my "children" for so long now! I plan on still being involved in small ways. I love YL too much to ever fully let it go (unless god called me too.) However, it will ultimately not look the same. :( As I said, when I first announced my decision, it was hard. But that was weeks ago and since then the work of 2 jobs (stay at home mom and YL) has since taken it's toll on me and my decision got a bit easier. :) However, as the days draw nearer and I begin cleaning out my desk, finalizing paperwork and such, I am sad once again. Don't get me wrong, I am happy to embrace this new phase and little person in my life! :) I have always wanted to be a stay at home mommy and I know that wherever God calls, He provides. However, this new phase is uncertain to me. This past phase has almost become part of my identity. I am sure, years from now, when my kids are all off to college and grown, I will be writing these same words, but in a different way. However, this now is my reality. This is my bittersweet. I have so much to say but I haven't fully sorted through it in my own head yet. Right now I am stuck in between 2 seasons and the feelings are still too raw. I am not quite sure what all this next one holds for me. So I will close with that I just read in my book, Unglued... "Even when life is hard and chaotic, I pray I make the courageous choice to embrace what is and to fill my soul with all of the good reality right in front of me. What I am. What I do have. What I can do." P.S. Why isn't blogger letting me add spaces, yall? Sorry! :)
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I have always prided myself on being a real, honest and truthful person. I have been found to say, "What you see is what you get and I don't hide from people. I am just being honest." That was until I started reading Lysa Terkeurst's book, Unglued. It is messing with me in ways that I need to combat relational stresses that surround me right now and I thank God for it! A must read I believe! I would die if God didn't speak...even if His words are hard and mess with me sometimes. At least I know He is speaking...Hallelujah! Today, while reading the book, Unglued, I realized that we humans usually react in one of four ways: 1.) Exploders who shame themselves, 2.) Exploders who blame others, 3.) Stuffers who build barriers, 4.) Stuffers who collect retaliation rocks. Although I can sometimes be a "stuffer who builds barriers;" Mostly I call out stuffers by being an "exploder who blames others." Lysa explained (backed up greatly by James 3), that although "exploders" are honest and that is good, "when not reined in by the Holy Spirit, exploders will grieve God and other peoples heart when His people reject the godliness that should always balance out our honesty." So even if I am not being a stuffer ("a plastic version of godliness that isn't reined in by honesty,") it doesn't matter. Both need balance. Truth and godliness must always walk hand in hand. When speaking the truth (which we should), I must be better at "making an effort to see the situation from the other person's vantage point so I can get at the heart of the issue without sabotaging the heart of our offender." So as I am encouraged by this book, I encourage you to not only read it, but also to run after soul integrity-honesty that is wise and Godly! We could all use a little balance, reining in of our tongues, truth and relational help in our lives...right? I know I could! In this sad world of grey that we now find ourselves in, let's embrace truth, but in a Godly way, not as a weapon! And let's take some time to process our emotions with our wonderful Counselor! This could just be for me and Lysa Terkeurst, but I highly doubt it. Just being honest...haha! ;)
Monday, August 20, 2012
My little Lillie is officially 5 months old today! You're slowly starting to change a little bit every month! At 5 months you love... * to sleep only in your crib still * playing in your bouncers * Mickey Mouse clubhouse and doing the hot dog dance * your bath times and cuddle time after * stroller rides outside with Mom * being in your baby bjorn * being outside * sucking on either your fingers, thumb or bottom lip * sitting in your bumbo and watching me eat (really) You are discovering so many things! You have finally realized that we have dogs and you love them...esp. Lucy b/c she likes you best. You are too little for your high chair but will have to start getting used to it when you start eating food NEXT MONTH (oh my!) You love other people (but only when mommy is holding you...haha.) Potential problem. Shout out to Megan as our sweet friend just moved! :( You make the funniest and most expressive faces and constantly keep me laughing and in a state of worship with our Father! You are still a great sleeper and Daddy and I are so grateful for such an "easy" baby! You have no desire to crawl yet. But you are full of smiles all day long! Lillie Joy, you are my little diva and Daddy and I love you to pieces little monkey! :) Time has gone by too fast already...
Sunday, August 12, 2012
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you..." Matthew 7:1-2. That is a command with a promise. Yet I feel that most of us do not take this command too seriously. At least I know that I didn't for a long time. But I have begun to understand the law at work here. And do you believe the bible to be true? I know that I do. Yet I have spent most of my life judging myself and others. And at the same time, I have equally felt judged by many others. "Why, God?," I've spent countless hours crying out in pain! "Well, hello, child...I laid it out clearly in my word. Who are you to judge? I alone am Judge!" 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 states, "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." When God began bringing this point home to me (from Matthew 7), I learned the freeing beauty of forgiveness and not judging myself or others. Yet I still struggled with judging men's motives. However, recently God has brought me to the 1 Corinthians verse. I can't pretend to understand what someone else is thinking or feeling, regardless of their actions. That alone is up to God. But what I can do is forgive that person of their actions, love them, not judge them and ask God for wisdom on how to handle that relationship. The rest is then up to Him and then I find myself less under the knife of their judgement as I have had them under the knife of mine. And at the same time, it releases us from living under the weight of their judgement. You see, we can learn this lesson and stop judging. But that doesn't mean everyone else will stop doing it. The problem resides when we allow ourselves to live under the weight of their judgement. Who defines you or judges you? Them or Christ? Thank God that He alone is my worth and Judge! This is a life lesson that is beneficial to me in so many ways and I pray that you too begin to practice. May we all balance what the bible has called us too in each of our own, personal, relational circumstances....living love, relying on wisdom, clinging to truth, bowing in humility, walking in forgiveness, knowing whose we are, and letting God Judge. One less thing then that we have to worry about. Oh praise our Righteous Judge who robes us in His righteousness!
Friday, August 10, 2012
Last night I just sat there and wept and I dont cry usually. I feel so broken-hearted, mis-understood, alone, pruned to nakedness. So much change is happening in my life and I wish I were perfect. There, I said it. I desperately want to be a fruitful vine of His love for the world to see Him with! I want to be as much like Jesus as I can be. Which isn't a bad thing to want at all. We should all actually want that. However, b/c I think that way, I put such high expectations on myself and others...which isn't good. I'm an over-expector! :) I'm constantly feeling let down or like I let myself down. People can never be perfect. Only Jesus is! But we can be Christ-like and oh how I thank God for His grace! I am screaming on the inside about so many situations that are completely out of my control but that others feel that I should control. I wonder, "What am I doing wrong, God? What should I be doing different? Please either correct me or encourage me. Either way...I just need to hear from YOU! I need you to fight for me. I want to be perfect! I want these people to do what You say! I need your help! I need you!" I had a rough day for many reasons yesterday. But I had to push that aside and at the end of the day, do my job as a YL leader and as a mom. As the sun began to set, I returned some texts from hurting kids and then I gathered Lillie in my arms, bathed her, massaged her with lotion, fed her, read her a story, prayed for her, sang over her and then rocked her to sleep. Her sweet spirit calmed mine. Then I headed outside to water my plants and just gather my thoughts. I breathed, put my hands to the nozzle and just drank the Father in. I wept, cried out, listened. He entertained me with hummingbirds dancing all around their feeder and at my tree in my backyard; butterflies at my flowers; my dogs relaxing in the sunset; and a gentle breeze. As I watered I watched the plants drink in their nourishment and revive their weary heads. I glanced at one of my plants and was amazed at how much growth had taken place. See pictures below. I remember when it was first starting to prune itself and it looked so sad. Steven told me to just throw it away. But I was determined to revive it. "There is still life in it" I told him, as I cut away and saw the green inside it's outwardly dead stems. So I did what I could do and waited. "The law of the garden is the law of life: Early sacrifice for later bounty. Cut out that which seems good to invest in the best. It's painful to prune out good things blooming. Its hard to remember why you are pruning. It's hard to have faith in the harvest coming-but later. It takes courage to crop a life back-but it's exactly the way to have the best crop of all." - Ann Voskamp. I lose patience in the pruning times. A garden isn't always producing fruit. But to fulfill it's purpose, it must stay connected to it's life source. And sometimes you have to cut away the good, to get to the better. You must be patient and let God work. I get it. "I am connected, God! What now?," I cried out. I finished watering and then a phone call came from one of my mentors at just the right time. A voice of truth, protection, encouragement, hope, love and comfort. I sensed God telling me, "Sweet child, you are far from perfect. But I see your heart to want to be and I applaud it. Rest in my grace. I am in control and will handle these situations for you. Can you trust that I have a plan in the pain and even I was mis-understood as well? Yet as a sheep was led to the slaughter, so I did not open my mouth. Stay quiet in this season and know that the truth always wins in the end. Just follow hard after me and I will take care of the rest. I am having to prune some things in you and around you. But you are not left alone." Ok, Jesus...I trust. That I will. I am no martyr, but I guess I know a little bit of what Jesus meant in Matthew 10. Bottom line, following Jesus isn't easy. It's actually harder. But you always win in the end and with Him, you have peace, joy, truth, hope, etc. One day the blossoms will re-appear and be a sweet aroma to all! Something I wouldn't trade in all the world...even in the midst of deep pain. But for now I must wait...be still and know that He is God and then He will be exalted in my life if I remain in Him! O God, I desperately am trying to remain in you! But thank you for your grace that releases me and others from perfection! May people afford me that same kind of grace as well, I pray. I plant my feet in the soil of You and await the harvest! "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." John 16:33.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Well, I have updated you on what has changed in my life during my long blog hiatus. However, I feel I should explain a few life lessons that I have learned along the way as well. First, as the Brandon Heath song states, I am certainly not who I was, and I am so very grateful for that! Thankfully, God indeed does love us just as we are, yet too much to let us stay that way. We are always in need of growth, and if we are not constantly growing up in Jesus, then we have to ask ourselves, "Why?" It's like a baby. Of course I am going to pull out a baby analogy! :) Lillie is only 4.5 months old but already she goes through "growing pains." Babies are constantly growing....even my little munchkin! Lillie will go several days where she will sleep about 14 hours a night and only be awake about 6 hours a day, eating about every 3 hours. Then she will cycle out of that and barely take naps and eat like every 2 hours. Her body is either needing sleep or fuel as she grows. Same with us in Jesus. We need times of "sleeping in Him," as did Adam, while He prepares us. Then we go through seasons where He seems silent, although He is always there. Like He was when David penned the Psalms. We can also experience times of great distress, for His Name's sake, as did Job and Paul. Or we can go through a season of great feeding and life, as with the early disciples.I could go on and on. It's just like the Seasons. How appropriate of God. While I was away from here for awhile and my life encountered many different life changes, God fed me with great life. He is Life! It was stretching but grand! And then He came and reigned as Prince of Peace and allowed His ruling power to bring me through some tough challenges. There were times when I was on the brink of despair. However, He taught me a very important life lesson on worship. How we can't control the circumstances around us, but we can control just how we react to them. Therefore, we must stick close to Him through thanksgiving, walking in the Spirit and being slaves to righteousness. I learned to worship God like I never have before. And I am not talking about the raise your hand in praise kind. Although that too is so important. I am talking about offering all of you to Him (esp. your pain), as a sacrifice of praise. I am talking about the sacrificial kind. The hurtful kind. The nailing of your agendas to His cross and being real and vulnerable so you can be a sweet aroma to Him. The kind that hurts deep but heals even deeper. I learned how to choose to rejoice. And in that, I discovered that we can experience His life in every season that we are in. Even in the painful ones. It breeds hope and joy. For there truly is so much to be thankful for! So I encourage you (if anyone even reads this anymore or I am at least encouraging myself), to be thankful. It changes things. You can make a heaven out of hell. Your outward circumstances may be out of your control. But you don't have to let the enemy win with your inner self anymore. That is a sacred place for you and Jesus where worship opens up the gates on your heart for the King of Glory to come in! "Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty. The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in." Psalm 24:8 & 9.