Thursday, March 8, 2018

He Is Able

Yesterday's words were "Ridiculously Unable".  You can read my blog post by the same name. 

Yesterday I was reminded again how little strength I have on my own.

Today's words are "He is Able"

Jude:  1:24  "To him is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy."

2 Corinthians 9:8   "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

Ephesians 3:20  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

2 Timothy 1:12  "Yet I am not ashamed because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day."

Hebrews 7:25  "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." 

*Able to keep me from falling
*Able to make all grace abound to me
*Able to do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine
*Able to guard what I have entrusted to him
*Able to save

Where I am ridiculously unable, He is able!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Ridiculously Unable

Today we had a snow day (without much snow).  Today all the children were home.  Today was hard.  It was hard because.....I don't know. I'm trying to put my finger on why I was so easily triggered today.  Raging hormones?  Too much overall stress in my life?  Not enough sleep?  Not enough coffee? 

Who knows?

All I know is that I lost it big time.   And, it was only about 8 or so in the morning.

This is what I posted on Facebook shortly after my explosion...
"I just completely lost it on my kids. Like mama meltdown crazy...7 on the Richter scale.The constant bickering makes me nuts. It makes me feel like I've completely failed in their earlier years where I should have clamped down harder on that kind of thing....but in the gentle yet firm way that I seem to also fail at."

Why did I post that?  Was it a confession of sorts?  A cry for help?  A need to put words to what had just happened?  What that post didn't capture was exactly how awful that moment was.  The look of shock on the faces of my older two.  The tears from my second to youngest.  And the silence of my youngest...who is just getting over being sick...and  him crawling into bed pulling the covers over himself.

And, it doesn't capture me crying...almost weeping....for the better part of an hour afterwards.

 I did apologize to my children.  But, I couldn't help but feel like the damage was done.  I had screwed up again.

My heart burned inside me even more when my children offered little peace offerings in the form of working on the dishes I had started and had walked away from.... and a hug.  Even the one who won't let me hug him anymore, the one who usually pushes me away, let me hug him & he hugged me back.

Being a mom is the one thing I knew without a doubt I was meant to do.  From the time I was very young, I couldn't imagine a greater goal in my life than to have children of my own.

And, I was going to be awesome at it.  I just knew it.

 I've always had a very natural affinity with children.  I can be so patient, gentle, enthusiastic, creative, nurturing.

But when I had kids of my own I discovered I also have a tendency toward anger, being easily irritated,  being overwhelmed.

The thing that I thought was my greatest ability.. the thing that set me apart....has also been my greatest failure.

If I had been more patient when they were younger.  If I had been firmer.  If I had been more.....more like I thought I'd be.  Maybe my children would now be gentler, more obedient, kinder, less prone to anger themselves.

Their younger years play back like a video reel in my mind.  Times I reacted instead of responded.  Times I was too angry, hurt, or depressed to be of much good to anyone.  Times I yelled instead of corrected.  Times, so many times, that I lost it.

And, then another image comes to my mind.  A friend who is an advocate for adoption posted the profile & video last night of an 13 year old girl in a Chinese orphanage.  'Joy' is about to age out.  The family she's desperately been waiting for, the one she's been convinced is on it's way....that family needs to reach her now or she will never have a family.  And, the thing is, there is no family that has spoken for her, no family that is coming.

And, this speaks to me.  Adoption is also something that has always been close to my heart. I always imagined that part of my role as 'mom' might come in the form of adoption.

 Oh!  This sweet girl singing a song in Chinese in celebration of her friend who is going home with his family in America.  This sweet girl who has saved rolled up bits of colored paper in a jar to give to her family as a gift when they come.  This sweet girl who has lived among other orphans in an orphanage her whole life.  She needs me.  At least that's my first thought.

But, after screaming....and I mean literally screaming.... at my children today like a banshee.  And looking at the chaos & arguing & tension that seems to reign in our house, I think 'How could I ever bring that peaceful, gentle child into our mess?'.  Has an orphanage done a better job in raising a child than I have?

I jotted these words down earlier today.  I scribbled them across the top of a magazine page - the closest piece of paper i had.   Words I had not shared on Facebook. 
"Here I am again - ridiculously unable to do anything in my own strength."

Ridiculously unable. 

Not just unable. 

I am ridiculously unable. 

Oh.  And, my word for this year was 'Stronger'.  Ha!

Sure.   I can feel like I'm riding the wave, like I'm succeeding at my goals.  For a while. But, when I crash...and I always crash, it's hard and painful.  And, really, it's kind of ridiculous.

I'm ridiculously unable to parent in my own strength.

I'm ridiculously unable to stick to a health & wellness plan.

I'm ridiculously unable to stay organized and on task.

I'm ridiculously unable to change any of my bad habits.

I am unable. 

Ridiculously so.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part is thinking that I ever had my stuff together at all.  Failure is always just around the corner.

So, that magazine page that I scribbled those words across the top.  That page held a very important paragraph in an article about spiritual nourishment.  Go figure. 

Actually, it's not an accident that that's where I scribbled those words.  I'd been reading that article today...trying to soothe this gaping wound of failure.   And, this paragraph caught me.  It really caught me.

If you grew up in the church, you know how much a personal daily devotional time is stressed....that we need to spend time in the word and in prayer. 

But, this was the first time that I read something that expressed it in a way that went beyond it being an obligation or an 'ought to'.  This actually struck me that it's a NEED.

This comes from Charisma magazine (I have some issues with Charisma...but that's another topic, another time.  And, this particular article was spot on.)  The article was "Spiritual Nourishment:  4 Ways the Lord's Supper invites Christians to a richer, deeper spiritual walk."  by  Eric Wilson.

"When I hold the bread of Communion, I also reflect on the manna sent from heaven to the Israelites, as recounted in Exodus 16.  The manna was sent on a daily basis, for immediate consumption.  Those who hoarded it found that it rotted.  Jesus wants to be my fresh sustenance, my daily bread.  It is a  mistake to think I can fill up on that bread, store some away and live off it for weeks to months to come.  It will grow stale and leave me wanting.  Bread is a reminder of God's deliverance and provision, and when enjoyed on a regular basis, it empowers me."

Wait.  Hang on a second.  Jesus is the Bread of Life.  He calls himself that.  He is also the Word.

The old testament foreshadows so much of what is to come, to be fulfilled in the form of Jesus. 

But, I never thought about comparing manna - the nourishment God provided the Israelites to Jesus...the Word - the nourishment God provides us. 

Just as God was trying to teach the Israelites the need for daily dependence on Him, he is trying to teach us the same. 

How foolish am I for thinking that I am able to get through my days without daily going to Him? 

Oh and hear me!  This came across to me so differently than the guilt-driven ways I'd approached daily communion with God before.  It suddenly was so clear & obvious to me, how desperately, completely we need Him and His nourishment each and every day.

And listen.  I'd been having some really great times with God lately.  I've been working on memorizing a Psalm.  I've been praying.  I've been reading.  But, if I didn't get to it each day, well - you 

But, would I ever skip breakfast one day?  Or my coffee? 

What am I doing trying to get through my days without Him?

Who do I think I am?

Again,  I am Ridiculously Unable.  This was proven to me today.

And, also hear me, I don't think a daily time with God is necessarily going to eliminate our struggles, our anger, our tendency to heed the flesh.


but I just....I just know that without Him I am ridiculously unable.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Letting Go of an Idol

I was praying this morning, seeking God's direction for our family.  My husband is trying to determine where God is leading Him in regard to His career and our family in general.  So, I was praying for him and for our family. 

As I was praying I told God that I trust Him, that we want to follow His lead.  And, I heard Him speak something into my spirit that was seemingly totally unrelated to what I was praying about.

He asked me if I would obey Him in something that I have sensed He's been asking of me, but to this point I've ignored or excused away.

And, that thing that I felt, that I have been feeling for awhile is that God is asking me to abstain from alcohol. 

Other times that I've felt that whispered in my spirit I accounted it as being my own mind, my own bend toward legalism or guilt.  And, I dismissed the thought.

But, I've heard it now enough times that I can't keep excusing it away. 

Oh, how I enjoy a glass or two (or three if I'm honest) of red wine - especially while I'm cooking a meal, or with some crusty bread dipped in olive oil.  I enjoy it when I am celebrating.  I enjoy it when I'm bored.  I enjoy it when I'm stressed. 

I don't know if God is asking me to give it up permanently or for a season.  But, what He showed me is that I have become dependent on it.  I turn to it instead of to Him .  I look to it for comfort and for pleasure.   And, as such, I have set it up as an idol in my life.

It's easy for me to agree with Him here and now sitting on my couch at 9:30 in the morning.  I know it won't be easy though later - at the times when I would normally enjoy it. 

That's part of why I'm recording this here.  At first I just wrote it down in my personal journal.  But, I need to have some sort of accountability.  This is part of that accountability.

In fact, even the longer I sit here thinking about it, I can feel myself rising up against the idea.  I've already begun to mourn all the things I love about a glass of wine.  I feel that same other thought rising up...'Is God really asking you to do that?'.  Oh, it would be so much easier to write it off and dismiss it again.  To assure myself that God doesn't mind if I enjoy things that give me pleasure. 

But, those would be excuses.  And, I know it.  I know it has moved beyond a small thing that gives me occasional pleasure and has taken a much bigger role in my life.  I don't think God is saying that drinking alcohol is wrong.  But, I do think he's telling me that I've allowed it to take much more importance in my life than I should.  So, He's asking me to set it aside.  To rediscover how He longs to fill those areas of my life. 

And, so, I will trust Him to help me do what He is asking.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

When the Healing Comes

"The healing is happening even when you can't see it or feel it."

This thought came to me tonight as I was sitting on my deck ruminating a bit after dinner.  I was feeling lonely, overwhelmed, and discouraged.  Things I seem to feel too often for my comfort.

And, it's never something major.  My life by most standards is good.  I have a loving husband, four healthy & smart boys, a home, friends, family.  It is good.

No.  It's the little things.  Little things that add up.  Like not having as much time with my very busy husband as I would like.  And being too tired to have any real quality interactions when he is around.  Like seeing what an incredible mess my boys are capable of making on a minute by minute basis.  And alternating between feeling guilty that I haven't trained them better this far and anger at the lack of appreciation they seem to have for all that I do.  Like comparing my tumble down little house that seems to be slowly morphing into hillbilly land and wondering how other people seem to tackle projects, both big and small, in their homes with immediate urgency.... yet after almost 16 years of marriage and living in this home I've learned that all projects seem to be ignored until they just become part of the normal backdrop.

It's little things combined with middle age hormones that finds me sitting on the floor after I've fallen IN the door from the deck crying silently wondering if anyone noticed the crash or ensuing silence.  They don't.  And, I get mad and sad all at the same time.  All I was trying to do was put the chicken on the grill (check) and carry the container with the marinade back inside the house (fail).  What I managed to do was fall inside, somehow gouge my hand and scrape my arm on the door, throw the container with the marinade (flying hither and yon) and land soundly on my knees (my knees that are already giving me trouble mind you).

And, I ask myself.  What is this?  It almost felt like a push, like a malevelent, on purpose "nyah nyah nyah nyah" from Satan (?).  These kinds of klutzy, ridiculous, trip over my own feet accidents always seem to happen when I'm already down.  When I'm feeling emotionally and physically spent.  And, so, there I was sitting with my bleeding hand convinced that I was utterly alone and pathetic.

Maybe this is menopause.  Maybe this is the onset of dementia or a mental illness.  I don't know.  Are most people this emotional?  If my husband and children are any gauge I don't think they are.  I'm pretty sure I fall on 'highly emotional' end of the range.  And, I've always been an emotional person.  But, it's been in hyper drive the last few years.

So.  That brings me to healing.  Because after cleaning up my mess & putting a band-aid on my hand (it was more of a 'ripped a little skin back' than it was a 'gouge'.  But, 'gouge' is how it felt at the time) I finished grilling the chicken and made my salad.  Then I took my plate back out to the deck to eat in the peace and beauty of my backyard that overlooks the neighbor's field...and beyond that the horse pasture.

I needed to take a few minutes to wallow in my self pity.  And, then I began to analyze.  I knew that I was feeling a sense of sadness and discouragement beyond what my current situation warranted.

I looked at my hand with my band-aid.  And, that's when the thought hit me.   "Right now.  Even as I'm sitting here looking at my hand, there is healing happening in there.  This 'gouge' that brought me to tears tonight is already healing.  I could pull back the band-aid and it wouldn't look any different yet.  But, it's happening nonetheless.

I actually looked this up.  The healing process of wounds and I found and article (link here: ) that says this...."When the top layer — the epidermis — is broken by a light scratch, not much occurs. You might see some dead skin cells flake off. But when something cuts into the deeper, next layer — called the dermis — you’ll see blood, and your body triggers a four-stage process of healing itself."
Four stages.  More or less they are this...
1.  Stop the bleeding - a temporary blood clot is formed to stop the loss of blood & prevent bad things from getting in.
2.  Inflammation - your body is fighting any bacteria that made its way in.  Swelling & redness are to be expected.
3.  Tissue growth & rebuilding - Collagen is dropped off to begin growing tissue to replace what is missing.
4.  Close the wound - The dermis and epidermis connect and contract to close the wound.

And, get this.  The skin after the wound has healed is stronger than it was before.  There may be a scar - large or small depending on the depth of the wound.

So, what do I do with that?  What does this have to do with my night of self pity on the deck?

I still haven't connected all the dots.  I'm figuring out what it means for me and my issues with depression and discouragement.  But, I take hope in that healing is happening.  And, healing is possible.  In fact, healing is natural.  Our physical bodies are designed to be restored - perhaps not to their original appearance, but restored nonetheless.

And, I couldn't walk away from this epiphany without thinking of friends who are experiencing significantly deeper and more serious wounds.  Friends dealing with infertility or being alone & desperately desiring a spouse.  Friends dealing with marriages that seem to be falling apart.  Most specifically I think of my friend who lost her beloved husband to cancer and is facing the pain of somehow living life without him.

These are people who know wounds.

And, my take away and word of encouragement is that the natural process of healing is happening even now. You might pull back the wound dressing (of what in some cases is major heart surgery) and it wouldn't look any different yet.  But, it's happening nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pray Now

I shared on my Facebook page today how deeply my heart is affected by the suffering of the people of Aleppo.  I can't get them out of my mind.  And, with that comes a certain sense of helplessness.  How can I, here in my little corner of the U.S. make any difference to the people who are facing horror, death, & destruction on the a daily basis?

I was praying this morning...pouring out my heart....but still feeling somewhat inadequate.  I went on about my morning - getting ready to straighten up the house & go grocery shopping....still feeling there was something more.

And then, this.  I have to believe this is a call to action to us who call ourselves believers........

No more standing around wringing our hands, "What shall I do?  What CAN I do?"  
We are servants of the Most High God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Great I Am.  
Not just any servants - but those who have been adopted as children  into his Kingdom.  
Sons & Daughters - fall to your knees in knowing that your strength & power resides in Him.  And, that in lifting our voices, our hearts, our prayers & petitions the spiritual atmosphere literally changes!
The enemy would have us believe prayer is nothing more than good wishes or a nice sentiment.  Rebuke that lie!  Our prayers are so powerful!  They are our spiritual arsenal that we need to unleash now.
Pray alone.  Pray together.  Pray out loud.  Pray silently.  Pray in your car, in your shower, in your beds.  Pray while baking.  Pray while creating.  Pray while waiting in line.  Pray often.  Pray fervently.  Each prayer is drawing back a bowstring and releasing God's arrows of love & justice swift and sure into a dying and dark world.  Pray unceasingly.  Pray now!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Praying Over Our Children

I have been having a series of dreams lately in which my children are in danger.  Whether it's wild animals, out of control vehicles, or deep waters I keep having these dreams night after night.

I could allow these dreams to fill me with fear.  But I have banished fear from my life & I won't give it a foothold again.  Instead, I will take these dreams as a sign that now, more than ever, I need to pray for my children.

Actually I believe that all parents are being called to action in praying over their children.  The enemy wants nothing more than to prevent us from raising this generation to honor God.  And, so we need to all the more firmly stand our ground & cover our children in fervent prayer.

Here are two verses I was reading this morning.  They were Paul's prayers for the Colossians and the Philippians.  But, I am claiming them today as prayers for my children.

Colossians 1: 9-11
" For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so you may have great endurance and patience."

Philippians 1:9
"And this is my prayer; that you love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God."

In addition we can be reassured of God's faithfulness in protecting & strengthening our children......

2 Thessalonians 3:3
"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."
Deuteronomy 31:6
"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Healthy Me

Well, I'm thankful to say that my knee is feeling so much better.  I guess I can chalk up last week's pain to having strained it.  I was so worried that I had torn something.  But, now I'm really appreciating how important healthy knees are!

In fact, I'm appreciating how important healthy bodies are.  I mentioned in my previous post that I had a complete blood workup done after my last physical.  I also recently had my mammogram.  And, the good news is that all those results came back great.  I am healthy overall.  But, what I've also realized is that if I want to STAY healthy...and if I truly want to THRIVE...then I need to take better care of myself.

What a gift our health is.  And frankly I have been treating that gift very poorly & taking it for granted.  I know that this is a result of many, many deeply ingrained bad habits.  And, changing these habits & patterns is going to mean changing my mindset.

Of course, I've made that realization before and have tried before and have found myself back in this same spot again of NEEDING to make changes.  But, so help me.  I will keep trying and keep working at this.  I will not give up.

I was recently reading  Eating for Life by Joel Fuhrman.  In it he talked about how our neural pathways are essentially formed by repeating the same behavior over & over.  They become the 'easy route' in our brain.  Feeling depressed or bored?  Well, if the repeated behavior has been to eat something unhealthy for a quick boost, then that becomes our brain's go-to each time we feel that way.

We CAN create new paths.  But, they take time.  As I was reading that section, the visual image I got is of when my boys go sledding in deep snow.  The first pass or two, they don't get very far as they are plowing through that snow & trying to create that path.  But, as they keep going again & again their path goes farther & easier until they are flying down that path.

And that's where the different mindset comes in.  I have always wanted the path to be clear & easy from the start.  I wanted to fly down the hill & didn't want the hard work of pushing away the snow in the way.  When I hit those barriers it's been so much easier to pick up my sled & go back to those easier bad habit pathways.  So, basically I need to keep pushing through even when it feels like to much work.

Anyway, I'm hoping to start that new path and not give up.  I already feel better because I've been getting a lot more sleep this last week.  It started out that I was going to bed earlier because my knee hurt & I was exhausted from hobbling around on it & I knew I needed to rest it.  But, now, 8:30 or 9 rolls around & I feel like going to bed.  And, I'm waking up earlier.  But, I'm also waking up rested.  I haven't felt rested in a very long time.

The other good part about going to bed earlier is that it eliminates the chance for night-time snacking.  Night time snacking has been one of my biggest downfalls.  I think not eating before bed probably also contributes to a better sleep.

I'm still weighing what changes I want to take in regard to my diet.  I've done a vegan fast before & it's really good for feeling better & losing weight.  I also don't find it sustainable over a long period of time.  I definitely want to cut back on empty carbs, sugars, and animal products & beef up on fruits & veggies.  I also need to start incorporating exercise.

For now, step by step, inch by inch I'm going to create my new pathway.
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