Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pumpkin patch!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Here's my heart, blogger world

I hesitated to write this, but when we know we are completely loved just as we are, why not, right? I'm sure this will be a little long...

All the Campus Outeach staff went to Minneapolis this past weekend to a John Piper conference on endurance. Some speakers and their themes were: Jerry Bridges (spending time with God and reminding ourselves of the gospel), Randy Alcorn (what you will be tomorrow is determined by choices you make today), John McAuthur (Jesus is our master and we are his slaves), Helen Roseveare (there is no quitting until we cross the finish line) and of course John Piper (there is no American dream and retirement for Christians).

Well, to those of you who don't know, I have not spent time with God in 3 1/2 years (minus about 10 times, as to not exaggerate). I had a friend ask me when I told them that this weekend, "you mean in the classic way?" and I shook my head no. He said, "not at all?", I shook my head no, "you just didn't do it?", again, no. He said, "How have you survived?" My only answer is the sweet grace of God, who gently leads those with young. I really believe that. I quit when I was in my first trimester with Bailey because I was so tired, and have never recovered. My life has become a series of small choices (mostly to take a nap or take care of other things around the house) that have added up to not knowing where my Bible is most of the time. I never thought I would say that. I did not think that would be possible. I remember at first the feelings of guilt and legalism, but through Bailey's birth God showed me his deep love for me as his daughter. I guess I am thankful that my motivation has not been legalistic, but it would have been nice to have some stronger motivation than that quiet voice that says, "come spend time with me, I'll give you rest." And it is so easy in my heart to say "I don't believe you and I'm too tired," and off I go to take a nap. He is so sweet that He lets me sleep anyway. I know that not once have I felt that he has left me or been mad at me.

The word of God that I hid in my heart long ago seems like a vague memory to me most days. It seems so vast and the times I wanted to open it, I felt like I didn't know where to start. I know truth, I feel like I live by Biblical principles and know God is there, but the verses I used to know are a fog in my head somewhere. Prayer has become something I try to remember to do most of the time. It was so good to sit in truth (hard, strong truth) this weekend and have those verses start filling my head again. I started evaluating my life over the last few years and saw so much. It was good though, not overwhelming.

The major thing that God has been putting his finger on for the last months, and strongly in this conference is my love for my children. I love them way too much, more than Him. And I don't trust Him with them. Not their salvation, but their lives here. I am way too afraid that they will have to go through some great pain if I release them to Him and put them on the altar (like I have a choice what they will go through or if I will be there). My mind knows intellectually that He will do as He pleases regardless, but my heart says hold on to them. The thought of specific situations that I imagine where I picture them in pain (especially Bailey, I guess because she's older) cause me great pain, almost unbearable, as I'm sure any mother can relate to. My problem is that my love for their security is greater than my love for Jesus. I remember when I was single, and so authentically said, "anytime, anywhere, anything Lord!" and I meant it. I think those words now, and can only say, "I can't say that anymore God", and I can't even want to say it for fear of what that might mean. They are so precious and dear, and I leave their rooms at night and my heart aches for their protection and that God won't put us in some place or situation where they won't be safe. To clarify, my fear is not of them dying from being sick. I think I could handle that, at least in my imagination, although it would be very painful. It is them being taken from me, or being in some place in the world where I have to watch them be hurt for Christ, physically, or imagining in this conference during the talks, what if I had to take a stand and let my children be hurt in order to not deny Christ? I picture their terror and my heart aches. And my heart just wants to be comfortable, to live this safe, daily American life where we go to church, and run errands, and play with our friends and I know they won't be in those situations. Is it wrong to live this way? I don't think so if we serve Christ where we are, and our hearts are yielded to Him in our tomorrows. But I know that mine is not, and until I can give them to Him, there is a barrier that hardens my heart against Him, and is sin. It is almost impossible to think of following him right now if it means their pain. I thought of an example in the conference, and it helped me. I remembered those children in the holocaust who were ripped from their parents, underwent innumerable tortures, and ended up in old age walking with God and joyful. And I thought, God IS capable of taking their pains, regardless of whether Duane and I are with them, and giving them joy and peace even in this life. He can bring something from nothing. Anything is possible with Him. But there is a great work to be done in my heart yet. I don't know what it will look like or how long it will take to replace them in my heart with Him.

The other issue I am becoming well aware of, is the way that I live my faith out in front of my daughter (and son, he is just too young). I hear the things I say sometimes, whether teaching her or in discipline, and I think, "How long will it be before she sees through me?", that these things are true in my intellect but not so truthfully lived out, not in the closeness of a deep relationship with Jesus that keeps it from being just religion. Giving in to my flesh almost constantly, establishing my will and battling for it as a default, a superficial love for Jesus, a lack of spending time in His word, poor character when no one but her and a friend are listening. It makes my heart sad, and I want a fast fix, but I know it can only be hammered out in reestablishing my heart in His Word.

And the gospel...I live my days at home in my neighborhood and on those few days at work like no one is perishing. We had a talk before the conference by a CO director, that life is for keeps and there are no do-overs. I live my life like none of that is real anymore, and the people that are lost around me are fine, even though I am certain it is all very real. Yet it does not lead me to action. I realized during the weekend as I was thinking about all this, that I used to target people that I wanted to spend time with, and pray for them. That seems so simple, but I have somehow forgotten to be deliberate and trust God to do a work through me. It seems so nebulous sometimes, there are so many that I work with, but I reminded myself that I only have to start with a couple, one girl in particular that I think of from Brazil that is my friend.

Of some encouragement, I thought of the things that have changed in my life over those 3 1/2 years, and I know because of that He remains with me and is still finishing His work. I think He has taught me how to be a better friend, to care, and to love past hurts and sin. I want to serve people who are walking through things I have been through because I know how hard it can be, especially being a mom and the daily sacrifices that come with that. I know in a way that I could have not known before that there is not an easy fix for the things we go through as we walk with God (i.e. a spiritual desert), even if we know the right answers. Sometimes our flesh can be so strong, and I am glad for the extra compassion that I have seen Him grow in my heart.

I guess I will end by saying, please pray for me. These things may sound like I'm doing horrible, but I'm not. I feel like I am in a good place, and I need prayer to make those small daily choices to pursue Him and His word. It is so easy to revert to old habits. I will publish this before I want to erase it all:)