I winked at Jesus

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Really I did.  I was laying in the bed the other night having a conversation with Jesus.  Asking for guidance in a specific area of my life and as I’m listening I felt I knew my next step.  I was happy.  I was thankful for His direction.  So with a half grin on my face, I winked at Him.  You know the kind of wink.  The wink that says “I understand.  You got this. I think we’re on the same page now. Thanks for speaking.”  Then I laughed at myself.  Who winks at Jesus?

This may seem extremely silly, and it kind of is.  But it really captures a season that I’ve been going through in my life.  I’ll speak vaguely b/c the details aren’t important.  The lesson is the real reason I write today.

We all go through seasons in life.  Ups / downs.  Trials and successes.  Recently we’ve faced a challenge in one specific area of our lives.  At first I displayed my response through a spiritual temper-tantrum.  Not pretty, but it really did happen.  But then I realized that this was an area in our lives that has been a reoccurring struggle.  So I committed to the Lord that I would walk through this HIS way.  I read James 1 and prayed that I would find joy in the midst of my trial.  I asked that HE would produce a maturity in us that we haven’t had in this area of our lives.  And then I read Hebrews 12 — vs 5-6 “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” vs 11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  LATER ON, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Now I’m probably like most people in the sense that I don’t initially care for a swift kick in the pants.  However, through my recent challenges I have been reminded that God is not doing this TO me, but He is doing this FOR me.  Bad habits had gotten me into a rut that I didn’t know how to climb out of.  I didn’t even want to pray about it b/c I figured it was just the rotten fruit of what I had sewn.  But this time when I felt the Lord rebuke me, I didn’t resist.  Maybe a little at first but then I decided to truly let HIM weed out some things in my life.  That decision led to a peace that I cannot explain.  My situation isn’t really all that different.  But my perspective sure is.  All this time I’ve been holding tight to my way of doing things and the results haven’t been that great.  But since releasing control, I’ve seen God work out details that I could never have done.  I’m digging my heals in and anticipating that “LATER ON” that He talks about in Hebrews 12.  But in the mean time, I’m going to accept this discipline.  I’m going to be thankful that He loves me enough to allow me to go through this.  And let’s be honest, when I see Him working out details and leading my family…..I’ll probably wink again.

 

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Hearticure

I was around 27 when I got my first pedicure.  It was right before my wedding and my mom and I went together.  I was a little nervous b/c no one had ever handled my feet before.  Everything was going really well.  My feet were soaking in the warm water and and I just sat back and chatted it up with my mom!  And then the little lady came over and took my foot and began to buff off all of the hard calloused areas on my feet.  And then it happened.  The little woman looked up at me and in her thick Asian accent asked “You raised on farm?”  I could not believe it!  My mom and I began laughing so hard.  “Why yes ma’am I kind of was raised on a farm.”

Have you ever stopped to think about the pedicure process?  Let’s think about 2 things.  One, callouses form on your feet when something rubs up against them so long that they become hard.  Two, in order to remove the rough, hardened skin, you have to rub something else against it.  Most often a pumice stone is used to remove the dead hardened skin.   How is it that it’s the same action but each cause a different result?  Shoes or rocks or other things rub up against your feet over a period of time and your feet become hard and calloused.  But take a pumice stone and rub it up against your feet and the result is soft, smooth feet feeling refreshed and ready to go.

pedi-feet-wash

Well I’ve heard and read a lot of things regarding the Christian church in America lately and I’ll be honest it can get overwhelming.  I have my opinions regarding many of the topics but more than that, I’ve been looking into my own heart.  What do I do when I don’t care for a modern day church tradition?  How do I process what appears to be unbiblical conduct by individuals who claim to be followers of Christ?  How do I make sure I am walking in obedience to what the Word of God teaches?

I won’t deal with all those answers in this blog, but I will share my conclusion.  I need a Hearticure!  As things begin to rub me one way or the other, I truly believe I have a choice as to weather I allow it to callous my heart or make it tender towards the things of God.  I’ve been hanging out in Ephesians 4 and this sticks out to me:

4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Listen if you know me you know that I have opinions.  You know that I often represent those opinions in a passionate fashion (not typically through a blog or social media though).  But My desire is to KNOW God’s Word and to stand for TRUTH in a world where truth is being skewed on so many levels.  In reality MY opinion doesn’t matter at all!  It’s His Word alone that matters!  I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t even know how to process all that I hear and read from the contradicting sides of “Christianity.” But I do know that if I’m not careful to constantly be checking my own heart, I too can become hard.  If I’m not diligent about KNOWING God’s Word for myself, I too can become rough around the edges when conversing with others.

So as I read God’s Word, I pray that my heart will soak in it’s truth and soften to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  May HIS words gently sluff away the hard calloused nature so that my character will become more like Christ. I don’t want to compromise His Word even the slightest.  I want to stand strong in the wake of the enemy’s sly tactics.  But may I stand as Christ did.  My prayer is that I will walk in a manner worthy of the calling, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love and eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  After all, our love for one another will show all people that we are true disciples of Christ (John 13:34-35).

There’s no place like HOME….but where is home?

19! That’s the number of houses/apartments I have lived in since birth.  8 of those have been within the last 3 years.  And that doesn’t include 3 dorm rooms and the countless number of summer homes for internships.  On top of that, I went to 7 schools from K-12th grade.   Moving and living new adventures is nothing new to me. 

But in all of my years, I’ve never questioned where HOME was.  It was wherever my parents where.  I knew that if I had to go anywhere I could go to where they were.  And technically that will always be true.  But over these last 3 years, this concept of HOME has been something I’ve really struggled with.  We’ve all heard “home is where the heart is” and although that’s a nice little quote, my heart was all over the place emotionally these past 3 years and that made “home” something that was hard to grasp. 

Don’t get me wrong, there is a joy and security in being wherever my husband and children are.  But again, our many moves and life’s circumstances made it difficult to feel like I was truly HOME.  I realized this when we moved for a short time to Tennessee to be near my family.  We were there for only a few months when I realized I had lived most of my adult years in Michigan. That made me think I would feel more at home there.  (don’t worry Mama and Daddy wherever you are will always be a place I love coming home to).  And then out of nowhere God graciously called us to serve in ministry back in MI.  I was thrilled b/c it was the HOME I thought I was searching for.  And although we cherish our time over these past 2 years, there was still this unsettling in my heart. 

When we decided to move to Pittsburgh so Eddie could go to school, I was terrified.  Not so much for the move (been there done that), but b/c I thought I would never feel like I was HOME again.  I didn’t just want this for me, but for my husband and kids too.  Moms set the tone for home life and I knew that any unsettled feelings I was having would have a direct affect on my family.  But as always, God has been so gracious to us.  And even more specifically to me.  We have lived here for 1 month!   And I have to admit that I am feeling more settled than I have in a long time.  Being the analytical person that I am, I had to ask the question, WHY?  Why am I more settled than in years past.  How can I have this much peace when there are so many unanswered questions regarding our future?

Unbeknownst to this inner struggle, a great friend sent me a text over the weekend.  She knows our story and thought the verse might encourage me. (Thanks SS)  It was Psalms 90:1

Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! (NLT)

So here’s what I’ve learned and what was confirmed in this verse.  I can be anywhere anytime and it is in Christ that I will find my HOME.  My husband, kids, house, and stuff are merely blessings that have been given to me by a loving and gracious Father.  We are in the center of God’s will for our lives.  It’s scary at times.  Lots of uncertainties.  But I know we are where we are supposed to be.  And with that certainty comes a sense of HOME.  I cannot tell you how thankful I am for this! 

Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  My treasure is in Christ!  In His Word!  He provides a dwelling place that is truly my HOME no matter where I live.  I guess with this in mind, HOME really is where the heart is….when you’re Heart is focused on Christ!

Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!

Human BEING

I’ve been in some sort of ministry role for as long as I can remember.  I think I was around 12 when I first started doing kids ministry almost every Sunday.  That was 23 years ago.  I love ministry.  For those of you who know me, you’ll know I like to be busy and to work.  It’s been one of my greatest assets and most definitely my biggest challenge.

But that was my old life.  A couple of years ago our family went through the most difficult season we’ve ever faced.  When chaos hit, I re-evaluated what was really important in life.  No longer was church or ministry so high on my list.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love doing God’s work in the local church, but I had it in the wrong place of importance.  At the top of that list became my relationship with Jesus and His word.  I could not have survived the last 2 years without the comfort and guidance of His word.  Then I saw with new eyes my role as a wife and mom.  This is my greatest calling.  For the past two years I’ve learned to prioritize a bit better and for the first time ever our family feels more balanced and peaceful than it’s ever felt.  And not just for a day or two.  It’s consistently been this way for well over a year.

Ok so to the real topic at hand.  A few months ago, my husband felt a renewed calling to pursue ministry.  He’s always had a dream of going to school but we both knew a four year college was out of the question.  And then after our season of uncertainty he really wasn’t sure if and how God would still use him.  Then the door opened and everything fell into place for him to attend Northeast Ministry School at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, PA.  Now, we’ve moved before but this time we really knew NO ONE.  A little over two weeks ago we made the move.  School doesn’t start until the end of August so for the next several weeks we get to just BE.  During this new season, I want to blog about where I am.  How I’m transitioning.  The challenges of taking a break from “full time ministry.” I’m not saying it’ll be profound, but I pray that a) I can have a log of this season to look back to and see how God showed Himself faithful yet again and b) that if someone else faces anything similar they can be encouraged.

So the first two weeks in Pittsburgh have been good, interesting but good.  The first few days proved extremely difficult but those details worked out.  Eddie’s bro & SIL came to help us move and when they left that was really hard.  The good thing was they came back the next weekend to surprise us.  But after the dust settled, I was surprised at how I felt.  I’ll be honest, this was a new place for me and it may sound horrible, but it’s the truth.  I felt bored!  Now what?  I didn’t have a lot to do.  Well I did, but it wasn’t the stuff I was used to doing or really wanted to do.   I felt stir crazy.  I was working during the day when I’d rather be putting my house together.  Yet when I got off work I didn’t want to do anything around the house.  We were so eager to go to church every time the doors were open but the first two Wed. nights in town church got cancelled (holiday and bad weather).  I didn’t wanna watch TV.  I read a book. I did the normal mom tasks.  Finally got around to putting some stuff up on the walls.  I was struggling with just “being” instead of always “doing.”  I’m one of those that lived as a “human doing” instead of “human being.”

I think I was surprised b/c I thought being less busy would be so easy.  But for this lady it proved to be a little more difficult.  But I saw quickly that it was a season of learning something new from Jesus.  I felt like He was calling me to switch from my Martha kind of ways and learn to be Mary for a little while (Luke 10:38-42).  It’s not always easy.  Eddie watches me pace when I’m looking for something else to do.  I know some of my mom friends would love to have some down time like that, but I think sometimes we think the grass is greener on the other side when in reality it’s still just grass.  Just a different side of the fence.   I know this won’t last forever.  Eddie starts school in a few weeks.  I’ll start home school for both kids in a few weeks.  Life will get busy again.  But while I’m in this season I want to learn to value it’s blessed fruit and not rush to the next big thing in life.

What a journey to follow Jesus!  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.   My greatest desire is to see each season for the blessing it is and to not devalue what God wants to do in my life right now.  He has a plan.  I just want to learn to wait patiently while He reveals what it is.

Learning to be be a human BEING!

Spring Cleaning

Spring break!!! It’s been great so far. Our time has been well spent between play and school review. And then I decided to do a “spring cleaning” of the kids toys! What an eye opener! They have been blessed for years with toys and “stuff” from family and friends and from Eddie and myself as well! Even after all of our moves over the past years, they still have so many toys! So instead of just going through their rooms individually they have spent all afternoon bringing every single toy into my office! I’m looking forward to processing through the amount of things they have and emphasizing the importance of being content with what God has given us. And the true meaning of hoarding :).

Truth is, I have a lot of STUFF too. I know it brings no eternal satisfaction and yet sometimes I choose to indulge in my fleshly desires by purchasing things I really don’t need. I’m hoping that through this “cleansing,” God will teach all of us valuable life lessons! Matthew 6:19-21 tells us “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” I like my things but something I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that none of it really brings me joy. My hope is that as we train up our children and impress the truth of God’s word on their hearts that they will store up their treasures in heaven as well.

Hangin’ on by a rope!

Life is so crazy!  Yep I said it!  I have one of “those” lives that seems to get so busy at times.  I’ve noticed I don’t do so well when I’m so busy and I can’t see straight.  That’s when I have to be quick to back up and reevaluate all I’m doing!  I’ve also noticed I deal with more insecurities and fears when I’m busy and out of my routine.  I read Psalms 4 yesterday and a couple of things really stood out to me: vs 5 “offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.” & vs 8 “I will lie down and sleep in peace for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”   When I read these my mind started going all over the place and I felt like the Holy Spirit was giving real insight on a couple of things in my life:

1.  Verse 5 says offer “right” sacrifices.  If there are right sacrifices that means there must be potential for “wrong” sacrifices.  You see I’m all about making sacrifices but I think sometimes I’m sacrificing the WRONG things.  Time with my family, date nights, me time…..those are wrong sacrifices.  Sacrifices that will end up costing more down the road and not pleasing the Lord at all. Right sacrifices can be anything from TV to shopping.  Things that will push me towards physical, spiritual and emotional health. Things that help me draw closer to Jesus.

2.  VS 8 — Sometimes I don’t sleep well.  I think I worry or think so much that I can’t sleep.  But when I was listening to the Holy Spirit this week He gave me a picture of a helicopter and a rope.  You see if that rope was rescuing me from chaos on the ground, I would hold on for dear life!  And rightly so.  But that rope is merely an extension of the helicopter.  I could have a thousand ropes and still not survive.  But when that rope is connected to the helicopter I can truly rise above whatever it is that is swirling around me.  Many times I hold onto life’s “ropes.”  Sometimes it’s my husband, other times it’s my schedule or kids.  All good things, but unless my real focus is on my Savior, Jesus Christ, they are merely unattached ropes.  When I keep my eyes locked on His Word, I find that I sleep better, fight insecurities less, and experience more joy than I could imagine!

So that’s my life this week.  Thankful for the rope, but eyes glued on the helicopter!

Psalm 4

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men,how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry,and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

What goes in…..matters!

We don’t normally watch a lot of regular TV. We’re more of a Netflix family. So our kids don’t see commercials very often. The first time they did they complained and asked if we could fast forward through them. But today I had the TV on for just a few minutes before Nick stared telling me that we needed to “call in for the free gift.” First I thought it was funny. Then 2 minutes later he told me that a specific item cost $4.29. Really? Wow was he listening close! It was a real reminder that kids are so influenced by media! Some of it is not bad but I’m reminded of how important it is to not only guard them from the junk but to also be consistent with what’s going IN! I started playing some fun kids worship music a few weeks ago during random down time and it blows my mind how they can sing through so many of the songs already. As a parent it’s my choice. I don’t always know how to navigate every situation in life, but I’m thankful that I can be a part of planting God’s word deep into their hearts. It’s a privilege I never want to take for granted!