Monday, January 23, 2012

Walking with God again

I was looking at my last post months ago, and honestly because of the Lord and his mercy, that seems like someone else's feelings. It is amazing to me that in His power alone, He has reached down into my life and made it different without me being much aware. I can say this because I TRY to be aware and repent of things that He has shown me, but with four kids and a busy life, it is hard sometimes to give things the attention and prayer they need. And I really didn't in this situation. I think that God allowed me to repent and then He changed me. I have my moments sometimes, where I have to repent of hurt feelings and remember, that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter. But overall, I just feel different on the inside and am not looking to certain people to make me feel okay anymore. I think that I am understanding more as I get older in life, that this is really the only way that we ever really change, is He has mercy on us. We try and He has mercy on us, but sometimes He has mercy on us anyway despite how much we are able to grind out our sanctification (or are not).

I have continued to feel that God is actively reaching down into my life again and He is close once again. I had wondered, as I have said many times, if He would leave me where I was for so long. I was at a retreat a couple of weeks ago, and I was thinking of whether I wanted to remain in (false) control of my own life, and avoid fear and pain (which is impossible anyway, but we like to try), or whether I wanted Him. And in my heart, I really wanted Him. I wanted Him even if it includes the things I am afraid of. I am grateful for this. I know this is from Him.

I feel that I have a much different view of my Christian life as a result of these last years (I would say a desert but I almost hate to say it in light of the things some I know have been through). I realize that anything in me, any good work, or any good thought, or any care about anyone else, is just Him showing me grace. I really have nothing to offer anybody without Him, and I have tried at times and it is not pretty.

I have been reading The Praying Life by Paul Miller, and I feel like a burden has been lifted off of my shoulders. I think that over these years I have developed a lot of lies about what prayer should be. It has just been exhausting to try and pray when you haven't really prayed much in 6 years. Where in the world do you start? How do you confess 6 years of sin? Or when you try to worship because you feel like you have to adore God before you can just start talking to Him, and then you have to confess your sin before you can approach Him rightly, it is just exhausting and I would just feel so TIRED when I would try to pray. And I just gave up, mostly. This book has helped me to realize how much I need God's mercy to do this life, and also how God WANTS me to come to Him messy. This is the gospel, and He does the changing as we pray. It has been good and I feel spiritually alive and unburdened again. I guess that is about all for now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Big heart changes

Well, here's a vulnerable post. It's not always FUN to be vulnerable, but I think it's always a blessing in the end. I always fear being misunderstood, but I'm trying to be honest and hope the words come out right. I have been processing a lot about my life and friendships, and feel that this is definitely a work of the Lord in my heart, a needed one. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. We can only repent truly because He allows us to, so I am all the more appreciative. I feel like there have been cycles in my life as a Christian (and my whole non-Christian life) where I have really wanted to fit in, wherever "in" is. People at times (or rather, their approval) have been idols in my life and either their acceptance or their apathy have affected my feelings a lot, and especially over the last year and a half or so. I think some loneliness can come when you have really small children, and are in that stage again, and these things just act as a catalyst for causing circumstances that bring up these things in your heart again. I know people that are around me a lot and know me somewhat probably can sense my struggle, and honestly it probably drives them further away. I am always observing relationships, analyzing how people interact, and how it is different than how they interact with me. (And I would like to take full responsibility for my sin, so that no one misunderstands that I am blaming anyone, or think that they have wronged me in some way. It is my heart that is the problem.) So, I started thinking about why is it that I chase relationships? What is it that I am hoping to gain? I think that the biggest thing I realized is that I am 37 years old, and I am tired of living this way. I don't want to anymore. I don't say that in a secular way, the Lord has replaced it in my heart with wanting something better. The Lord has revealed this to me in a way that showed me, I don't want to get to heaven and Him say to me, "Why did you spend your life chasing after these things. You could have had so much joy living for things that mattered." There is so much joy to be had living to love others instead of waiting for others to love you. Yes, not feeling wanted at times is hard, and that is not easily erased, but joy can erase it. Loving other people takes the focus off yourself and joy flows out of loving others who you are seeking to gain nothing from. It really is freeing. I realized what a distraction pursuing these things causes in my walk with Christ, because I am constantly looking at myself and asking, "What's wrong with me? Why do people not want me around (if they actually do or don't)? Am I hard to be around? Is it that I have 4 kids? Is it that people don't like my kids?" (these are hard feelings to admit). There are no answers, only self-focus and distraction from Christ. I want to live for what matters eternally, and I've been wasting my life. I want my kids to see real love, Christ's love, not chasing love for selfish reasons. I AM loved, by Him. I do not have to chase people to have these needs met for myself. I am so excited about what he has for Duane and I as we have talked about struggling with these things and what God has called us to. I have made purposeful decisions this week to not influence, to not try to fit in or be included, to let the chips fall where they may, and I feel so free. Free to love, to just accept whatever is. It doesn't matter what people feel about me, it only matters that I pursue love. I have wanted to feel this way for a long time, but just haven't been able to. It's not like I WANT to be this way. That is why it is so sweet that He is setting me free from it. After all, Jesus suffered Himself outside the city gate. We are not called to pursue belonging for our own enjoyment, but any belonging that we have is to bless others. I know there will be temptation, but I just feel free, and excited.

Another thing that I appreciate God doing in my life stems from a book that I read recently, called Gray Matter. It is about a neurosurgeon who progressively trusts God in his practice and begins integrating his faith by praying with his patients (which is unheard of with most physicians). Anyway, I worked this last Saturday, and before that it hit me, from the effects and peace that came from praying with his patients, what would keep me from praying with mine? Most people that I deal with have had some major life change: some have just found out they have cancer, some have lost legs, some can't walk anymore, some will never live alone again or be independent. Many have to be devastated. I have to be somewhat vague due to privacy violations policies, but this elderly man had just undergone surgery and things were not going to be the same again, and I saw that he already struggled with depression in his chart. I said, "Would it be ok if I prayed for you before you go?" to which he replied, "I would love that." and immediately grabbed my hand and we prayed together. It brought tears to my eyes to be able to do that for him.

The next patient I had gone to get, she wasn't ready and I had time so I ended up staying in her room, and for some reason over the next 30 minutes she just started talking and poured out all this pain in her life. She is in her 80's and had a lifetime of pain inside of her. I ended up just sitting beside her on the bed and listening. She after a while made a reference to wondering if it was enough to go to heaven. I felt like she really loves the Lord, but she struggles as she looks over her life. I get to share the truth with her, the second time for me in the last 7 years or so. I say to her that she has so much pain, can I pray for her, and she tears up and says please do. She says she wouldn't trade the time we've had for a million dollars. Such a blessing, all from a simple prayer for peace and comfort. I don't know why this has never occurred to me to do before, but it adds a whole new element to treatment, even if it is only a minute, or 30. I can't explain what the difference was in my day, but it was very different to add the dimension of prayer to it. I am grateful to Him for it and am excited about getting to minister to my patients from now on in that way.

Well, that is all. I feel closer to the Lord than I have in many years, and am grateful that He would choose to work in my heart this last couple of weeks. When over these last years I have seen that apart from Him there is no good in me,and that I will walk away from Him in a second if not for Him holding me, it means so much more when He works and changes me. He doesn't have to, and at times I have wondered it He would, but He is. Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This is life!

For some reason tonight, I have extra energy and thought I would blog. Maybe it is the first rice cereal milkshake I just gave Brooklyn in hopes that she will sleep through the night tonight. I am pretty exhausted. Duane let me know today that these last few weeks I have started repeating stories to him that I would never have repeated. I said, "yes I told you I'm not doing very well last week." I don't know how I am making it, really. Well, I do. I feel the sufficiency of Christ every day. This is my first baby without naps (for me that is). Having this baby, that was one of my fears was the lack of sleep with no time for naps. It didn't seem possible that I could do it and function, but I am. I feel better than I have with any of the others. I can't explain it except for God. I used to live for a nap with all my infants. Now I don't even think of it. Not that I'm not tired, but God gives grace to keep going. And I don't feel like I'm living to sleep. It is a good place.
Trying to think of what is going on is hard, or what I am learning. Life is chaos. Some days I feel I will be swallowed up by all I have to do that never gets done. Hours go by without accomplishing anything. Everyday clutter, food on the floor, crumbs (and fresh fruit) all over the house, kids jumping on beds, off the coffee table onto the couch, screaming, laughing (them that is). Most of the time I'm trying to laugh. I let them do these things. It just adds up after a while. Everyone's house is different, but this is ours. I love that my kids love life, I just wish they would love it OUTSIDE more. Just kidding, mostly. Thank goodness for spring. I was thinking yesterday as I was vacuuming...I would just feel more restful if their rooms were cleaned up and everything put up. That is elusive, and not true rest. I was reminded that true rest and peace can come only from God. It is hard to trust that if I drop what I'm doing and go spend time with Him, that I will feel true rest. I only have time to CHOOSE, as time to do things is almost non-existent, and 99% of the time I choose wrong. I need Jesus.
I see my sin (any sin) and think to myself, "How can I [feel, think, act] this way?" It is because I am a hypocrite. The biggest hypocrite there is. I say one thing, and do another. Judge someone else and set another standard, much lower and gracious for myself. I see this all the time in my life. I need Jesus.
My life is full of broken "nevers", and for that I am thankful. Because of this I have a third, and fourth child. SO thankful for them. Such joy. And because of broken "I will never's" I am homeschooling. I love being with my kids all the time even though it's crazy and I miss out on alot. I love that they are close, and that I see more character in them. I love that they love being with me. I am thankful that I get to watch them play all day, pretend, and enjoy life.
I was reminded yesterday that every moment is a gift. I want to stop and watch them riding their bikes and scooters, grinning, hair blowing and seize it, remember it forever. I want to enjoy holding them, pausing to love them and build them up in my love. I wish that I would enjoy rather than mostly just survive right now. I need Jesus.
I love my life. I am thankful to the Lord for it, and how He provides for us. He is with us every moment. I was reminded of this coming out of Walmart with all four. It had been a long trip, and Brooklyn was getting hungry. I prayed for some help or that I would see a friend in the parking lot. A lady my mom's age had locked her keys in her car, used my cell phone, and ended up holding Brooklyn while I loaded all the kids and groceries. Then Duane offered to come home and help me get unloaded and settled. What a help. God saw me, with my groceries, and cared enough to meet my need. That is tenderness. That is all for now. Hopefully I will make more sense next time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

God is such a good Provider

God has been providing so many things as we are getting ready for the baby in November, the KIND of things that I have wanted.
This is Owen's (and eventually Seth's) newly redone room! If you remember about a year ago, I traded an antique dresser and nightstand for a HUGE bunk bed, but it practically took up the whole room. With the baby coming I have to be able to fit a crib for Seth in there too and there wasn't enough drawer space for both boys. So, long story short, after over a month on Craigslist, someone finally bought that bunk bed, and we were able to buy a brand new bunk bed and dresser for only $150 more! There is plenty of room for the crib and train table, and I love the furniture.

I had also been looking for a cabinet to store all our homeschooling (that's another story)/craft/puzzles/etc. Everything I looked for was $300+ that had doors and would hold enough. Well, thanks to Jeffrey and Jessica we have these new cabinets that they gave us when they moved and I painted them white and I am so happy with how they turned out (except for the brown strip on each that I have to paint that I thought was going to be hidden).

I had been wanting an infant carrier that goes up to 30-35 pounds and had been looking for one (new they are about $200). Anyway, there was one like it for $50 that I found. I was so excited and it's in great condition!

Then I wanted a crib mattress just like the one I've had for the other babies, it's really hard foam and no one really carries this kind in the stores except one in Pensacola. Another great find on Craigslist, wrapped in plastic and never used by the kid for $50!

Probably the sweetest one was this bedding in Target that I had wanted before I knew that Seth was a boy. I loved it immediately and was disappointed that I couldn't get it. Well, the day that we found out that this baby was a girl we were in Target buying goggles, and I just went to see if they by chance still had it. Well, there was ONE left, and it was on clearance for $12! I felt like the Lord had saved it just for me. It is just perfect.

Well, I just wanted to thank God for His goodness in our lives and His special care of all our wants and needs.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seth's advanced Johnny Jump Up skills

Recent things

Sethie's first day of swimming for the summer - he loves it!

Owen is now riding his big boy bike without training wheels, but he happened to take a good spill one day (he's scraped his nose the day before but got his chin).

Bailey's first big date with Daddy! He brought her flowers, and she was so proud. They went to Mikato's and had hibachi and sushi, followed by ice cream. She had such a good time and felt so special. He is a great Daddy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A hard place

It has been so long since I've really blogged that I'm not sure that my thoughts will really be clear, or that anyone is around to read them anymore! But I am here, at least to share with myself. I realize lately what an awful parent I can be. Now when I say that, I am talking about my heart. This is a good thing because five years ago I thought I was a really good one. That is not fun to say but it is true. I did not think there would ever be a time when I could feel so lost sometimes, or things be so foggy. I know that compared to a lot of people in America, I am a "good" parent. But everyday, and at night when I go to bed and I allow the day to sink in my mind, I am so sad at the way my sin pervades my life and my childrens, how I have failed to lean on Jesus for patience, wisdom, and unconditional love. I fear the damage that is being done every day, especially to Bailey. She is the hardest, maybe because we are the most similiar, she is the older and more complicated, and she, like me, wears her sin on her sleeve for all to see. Some are good at hiding their sin (without trying), their sins of the heart are not easily seen, but not me and Bailey. I know that everyone must see my sin from a mile away, and also I cringe at the visibility of hers. I hope that you can relate to me on this. I love my daughter more than anything. She is one of the 4 earthly treasures in my life. I would die if anything happened to her. I see her sin, but I also see the greatness God has placed in her life (she is such a great kid!, and I love being around people that can see the things I see in her, it is a restful place). But I can see the motives and manipulations of her heart, and I am at a loss as to how to parent her sometimes in a way that builds and lifts her spirit, and doesn't squelch it, and makes her want to love God and other people more. I don't want to produce a Pharisee. My greatest fear is that I would just fix her on the outside and leave her not realizing her need for Jesus to produce any real good in her heart. I don't want her clean on the outside with a heart that is unchanged, even if it means a longer process and more embarrassment at times as I choose to graciously let her little heart be where it is, as the Lord is so graceful with me. He is not interested in my little outside behaviors. He wants to reach into my heart, and the rest will follow, just as hers will. Letting her be sometimes means that I have to look in MY own heart and see the things that are really there - that I don't want people to think that I'm a bad parent, that I sometimes care more about what people think about my daughter than what wisdom says in the moment is best for her (which is not always to correct which is my point in all this), and sometimes what is best for her is not necessarily good for "my image". I feel so many times that she does and says things that my friend's kids don't, and oh my flesh doesn't like that. But then I look past the sin and weaknesses in her and see what she is becoming and one day by the grace of God He will turn those things into beauty and strength, and what she will be (and is)! And so this week, I am trusting to love her better, to spend more time with her showing her how much I love her, and to be quiet more than speaking and pray for that little heart of hers (and speaking a little when needed). I am just thinking that in the same way, Jesus must work in my heart to even be faithful to parent her in the right way. I can not produce it just as she can't. We both need him at every turn.