Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Grace That Covers ALL My Sin.

I remember sitting on my couch about 8 years ago, watching TV, and seeing the Duggars for the first time.  I had an "AHA moment" and I thought they were the culmination of all the thoughts and decisions I was wrestling with at the time.  Something began in that moment that lasted until last year.  I thought I had found the perfect family, wife, and mother to pattern my life after, and so began a long journey of trying to become someone else. 

I was not raised as a Christian and I have a lot of skeletons in my closet.  As a teenager and young adult I made every bad decision a person could make, so when I came to Christ I thought that I would definitely need to change a whole lot about myself to be what God would want me to be.  To be enough I thought I would have to be the PERFECT woman, wife and mother.  I didn't really know what that looked like, but sitting on my couch that night long ago I thought I had found her... in Michelle Duggar.   I started that night on a process of changing my outside world to look as much like her world as I could.  I studied her, I read her books, and pattered my life after her.  I thought surely she has to be the PERFECT WOMAN.   I thought if I became the perfect woman, wife and mother then I would be pleasing to God and somehow if I managed to get everything right my children would be great kids, who loved God and they would never make bad decision or do bad things.

There was a problem though, I was NOT Michelle Duggar.   I tried really hard to be like her, but I am not her.  There was a constant battle in my soul and an unrest that left me completely uncomfortable all the time.  I never could quite figure it out, but this was the darkest period of my life.  Then about a year ago I did a Bible study called STUCK by Jennie Allen.  The very first week and all throughout the Bible study God began to speak to my heart and show me WHY I was so unsettled using this verse...  "And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for YOU: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  2 Corinthians 12:9.   In that 8 week study I began to realize that God didn't save me to be Michelle Duggar.  He didn't want me to try to reach some level of outward perfection.  He wanted me to REST in knowing that HIS GRACE covered me.  He wanted me to know that JESUS was ENOUGH.   He wanted me to know that IN MY WEAKNESS, HE IS STRONG.

I am weak, I am full of sin.  I need a SAVIOR everyday.  He set me FREE to be ME...  Angela.  I decided that first week that I would no longer try to be anything I am not, because God is ok with me, and I am HIS workmanship and He will do the work IN me.   In that revelation I realized I would always, while I'm on this earth, be full of sin, and so would my children.  God never promised me anything where they are concerned.  So, instead of relying on my goodness or my children's goodness I began to CLING to the GRACE of God that covers all of our sin.   I put my hope in Jesus and agreed with the Bible that my children are also sinners and desperately NEED salvation from God.   I set them free to be who they are and instead of being SHOCKED by their sin I recognize that we are like the Bible says "deceitfully, wicked".   We NEED A SAVIOR. 

This week when the sins of Josh Duggar were made front page news, my heart hurt for all of the Duggar family, but I was not shocked.  In the last year I have come to understand that being raised in a Christian home really means nothing to a lost soul.  I am not bringing this up to argue over sin, but coming from someone who has done a lot of it, I realize SIN IS SIN.  My heart hurts because I know that my children will commit sin that will hurt themselves and others and they NEED a SAVIOR.  My heart hurts because we are weak people and my children are not immune to soul sin weakness, but as much as that grieves me to consider, I rejoice in the only hope they have and that is that Christ died for their sin.  His grace is ENOUGH to COVER ALL OF OUR SIN.   It will be their sin that finally leads them to Jesus.   I would rather see that happen than for them to cling to any goodness they might think they possess. 

Seeing that the Duggar family is not perfect should not cause any of us to do anything other than realize there is no perfect family or person and that we all NEED a Savior to cover our sin.   As Jesus said when he knelt down in that sand 2000 years ago...  "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God...  and that is the VERY reason Christ came to earth 2000 years ago to take our place and cover our sin.  Thank you, Jesus.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

NO, not that.

There are two tiny dictators (in training) that live in this house.  All day long they demand what they want.  Gum, candy, ice cream, chips, anything bad for them.  One demanded everyday for all of winter to go swimming...  Never thought I would have to say NO that!  I mean DUDE don't you feel how cold it is out here???  Can you just imagine with me what would happen if I let that little guy have what he wanted?  Swimming in 40 degree weather, I would be the worst mom ever.   After having that conversation 25 times though I really did think about it.  You know he would jump in and out in a hot minute and then he would cry because he was soooooooo cold and NEVER want to do that again.  Maybe I should have taught him a lesson.

We can all be that way can't we.  Just because we desire something doesn't mean it's good for us, but we want it anyway, and we beg and plead and WHINE.  There is so much we don't know that God does know.  He has plans and purposes for our lives that are for our GOOD.  There is a big difference between a good plan and a plan for OUR good.  I remember a time when I was dead set on what I wanted and I wasn't going to stop until I got it.  I didn't trust God that he knew better than I did, but one day after very serious thought (mostly God giving me stuff to think about), He asked me so gently to give up that thing I wanted, because He had something better.   So, very reluctantly and without a lot of hope that what he said was true I handed over what I wanted.  I didn't have long to wait for the better thing that God had for me AND let me just tell you that better thing reminds me daily for the last 12 years that God knows better than I do.  God knows exactly what we need and He wants to give us good things, but we have to trust that He knows better than we do. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  James 1:17

When Jesus was on earth he made a point to reveal the Father heart of God.  He said when you pray "Pray Our Father in Heaven."  WHY?  He wants us to see God as our Father.  What do Fathers do?  They provide, they protect, they comfort, they love, and they love to give good things to their children. 

One of my favorite verses is "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4.   As we delight in Him and we learn to trust him, He changes us and our desires become what He desires, and then we are ready to receive the good things he has for us.  

The Children of Israel remind me a lot of my tiny dictators (and myself) as God is leading them through the Wilderness, AFTER he has rescued them from Egypt, all they do is complain.  WHINE and COMPLAIN and everytime He gives them what they need, but this ONE time he gave them what they wanted... 

And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled..." Numbers 11

Every morning the Lord had been sending them manna from heaven to eat, but the people were not satisfied with this.  I'm not going to pretend I know why God gave them manna, BUT I do know that God knows better than we do.  Once again the people were complaining (because that's what they did) and God had had ENOUGH, so He gave them what they wanted. 

And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quail from the sea, and they fell on the camp... and the people stood up all that day and that night and the next day and gathered the quail...  and while the flesh was yet between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck them with a very great plague...and there they buried the people that lusted.  Num 11:31-34

One thing I take away from this passage is, LORD, PLEASE DON'T GIVE ME WHAT I WANT.  Help me TRUST that you will always give me what I need, and that you are not withholding anything GOOD from me.  You know what I need and you know what's good for me so help me trust you. 

My little people may know what they want, but I know what they need.  I know things they don't know...  like that sugar tastes really good, but it's not good for you.  I know that you may want to swim, but it's cold and you don't want to get hypothermia?!  AND I for that matter do not want a sick kid IF I don't have to have one.   I know that you may HATE learning to read, but if you do not you will NEVER get a job and I don't want you living off me forever.  You may HATE math and want to play outside forever, BUT as your mom I have to make you do things that are GOOD for you!!! 

So, if God hasn't given you something, maybe there is a REALLY GOOD reason.  Maybe he knows things you don't know.  Maybe he sees the future hurt and pain in your life, and maybe he has something way better for you...  but you need to trust Him and DON'T EVER MAKE HIM GIVE YOU WHAT YOU WANT. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Make A Noise

Give ear to my prayer, O GOD; and hide not thyself from my supplication.  Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and MAKE A NOISE...  Psalm 55:1-2

"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."  Psalms 55:17

Sometimes prayer is a nice quiet reflection.  Sometimes it's a time of praise and worship.  I'm sure always it's a time of asking, and waiting patiently for the Lord to move.  Sometimes it's a process of change in our hearts until His will becomes our will.  Once in a while though prayer is a WAR.  Not a war against evil, but a battle with God.  

There are times in life that you want something so badly that you will go to desperate measures to get it.  I can think of a few people in the Bible that went to battle with God in prayer:

Hannah cried out to God so passionately for a child that the Priest in the temple thought she was drunk.  David filled the Psalms with desperate cries of deliverance from the enemy.  In fact Psalm55 are David's words to God.  Jesus was overcome with emotion in the garden and prayed so hard that his sweat became drops of blood.   Jacob even physically wrestled with the Lord himself and said "I'm NOT letting go until you bless me." 

Desperate times call for desperate prayers.  Begging, pleading, weeping, raging.  There have been many times in my life that I KNEW that only prayer would change a person or situation.  I think about the times that I have locked myself in the closet and cried out to God, and I mean MAKING A NOISE.  My emotions over the situation would not allow me to keep quiet.  Sometimes you just have to say it out LOUD.  You have to know you've been heard by heaven.  These times in my life that I have made a noise, have been the same land mark times in my life that I have seen God move and answer my prayers.  

Hannah cried out because she desperately wanted a child.  I know many moms right now who are crying out to God for one of their children.  Nothing hurts worse than seeing your child hurt.  We get desperate.   Many wives and husbands have made a noise over broken marriages.  Many have cried out over a sick loved one.  These are desperate times.  We need to make a noise.  We need to cry out to God.  David cried out morning, noon and night to see God act on his behalf. 

Too many times though we give up before we see God move.  We don't see him moving or he is taking too long so we give up.  Then often times we miss out on seeing what God would have done on our behalf. 

In Luke 11 Jesus is teaching about prayer and he tells a little story about a man who needed some bread so he went to his neighbors house to borrow some.  The neighbor said go away my children are asleep, but the man wouldn't go away.  Jesus says in verse 8 that the neighbor would not get up for his friend, YET because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

vs 9 "And I say unto you Ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you."

That verse means KEEP ASKING.   KEEP SEEKING.  KEEP KNOCKING.  Don't give up.  Cry out, make a noise.   Is there a thing in your life that you desperately want to see God do?  CRY OUT.  Are you hurting?  Make a noise.  Keep going to God.   Beg God to listen, just like David did.  Get his attention.  It may take time, but keep praying, and watch and be amazed as you see God move on your behalf. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Socially Distracted

She came up beside me at the computer and stood there.  I could feel her presence, but I hadn't acknowledged her yet.  She said "Yeah, mom the concert was good."  I distractedly said, "Oh, that's great honey." Then it dawned on me... I hadn't asked how the concert was.  How sad that not only did I not ask her how it was, but when she came to tell me about it I didn't even listen to what she was saying.  The sad reality is these interactions happen way too often and I'm not alone.  Other moms I know tell me they are socially distracted too.  Whether we are texting, FBing, twitting (?) lol., or blogging we are VERY distracted mothers and our children are paying the price. 

How often do my children hear "Hold on, let me finish this.", and what is the message...  that this text is more important than what they are wanting to say.  It's really sad. 

Don't get me wrong I'm not going to give up all my social media distractions, but what should we do to convey the message that the people present in our lives are more important than anything?  How can we change this?  I know I'm going to text, FB, and blog, but something has to change so my children KNOW that I am here physically, emotionally and mentally HERE for them.

One thing can do is limit when I use my phone and computer.  Can I set aside a time to use my devices without ignoring the important people in my life.  If you are like me there are many times when I'm scrolling on my phone, I'm not even paying attention to what I'm seeing.  I know that I can cut down on when I'm on the phone or computer.  I know it's not going to kill me to put my phone somewhere out of the way so I can't just grab it every 5 minutes.  I know I can retrain my brain to do something else when I'm bored, like engage in conversation with my "real" people.

Another thing I can change is IF I'm on the phone or computer and I get interrupted, I can stop what I'm doing and turn to them and engage.  Then when I'm done go back to that text I was trying to send.  If I don't they are going to keep talking and I'm going to get frustrated and short with them...  again WHAT IS THE MESSAGE?  It's not the message I want to send them, but it is the message. My new motto is STOP, DROP, and ROLL with the real life conversation in front of me.  

I don't think there is anything wrong with social media, I happen to be a big fan, but I do think my habits are OUT OF CONTROL. 

The people right here in front of me are the most important people in my world.  I need them to know that, but if my actions do not line up with my words then I will be seen through their eyes as a liar.   What I want them to KNOW is that Mom is your biggest fan and I love you and I'm interested in every little thing you have to say!!!  Living present...  I need to work on this.

Common Ground

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ.  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  Romans 15:5-7

For a long time I was hung up on the idea that as Christians we should all be the same.  We should all have the same convictions and live the same way.  This idea really caused me a lot of anguish.  It made me very judgmental and self-righteous.  I also felt judged by those who did not have the same convictions as I held.   I thought if we served the same God and were filled with the same spirit how could we be so different.  

What I've realized is this is a flawed way of thinking.  I have 5 children who are completely different.   I have 4 sons that have very little in common.  They have the same parents, raised in the same house,  with the same opportunities, but instead of this creating sameness, it actually creates diversity.   I for one am very glad that they are not all the same, because each one of them have their own individual strengths and WEAKNESSES.  If they were all the same and they all had the same weakness I would go insane.  

A couple of them are early risers, some sleep late.  Some like bananas and one of them won't even take a sip of a smoothie if he can smell banana.  One loves every sport, one only likes football, and one would rather play with dinosaurs.   One of my sons is very quiet and you never know what's on his mind, if he talks you better listen, but his two brothers NEVER stop talking.   One wants to be a professional athlete and another a veterinarian.   You get the picture they are all different and that is good.  The bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, fashioned INDIVIDUALLY.   That means that we were crafted together, by the hand of God, and created completely unique.  Looking at the world around us will give us a clue to the heart of God.  Instead of creating us all the same God displays his glory and creative power in making us different. 

This same thing applies in the Church.  We do have the same Father and we are filled with the same Spirit, but we are all diverse and that is beautiful.  It's beautiful because it brings glory to God when in our differences we can come together and stand on common ground on the ONLY thing that truly matters JESUS CHRIST.    Unity in Christ doesn't mean that we will all agree on everything, but that we lay down our differences and preferences, and become ONE in Christ.   The only common ground that we can claim as Christians is that "all have fallen short of the glory of God" and that through Christ we have remission of our sins, by his blood, and eternal life through His resurrection.   HE is our common ground. 

Romans 14 talks about the differences that we may have.  Some may eat meat and some may not.  Some may celebrate special days, some may not hold any days above another.   Today in our churches we see that some prefer no instruments in worship, some of us prefer to jam out.   Some prefer to homeschool and others do not.  Some dress a certain way and some take no thought about clothes.  There are a million things that could separate us, but God receives Glory when we can love one another and accept one another in Christ and bring praise to GOD.  Jesus is our common ground.

So, when I am tempted to look at what is different about another sister in Christ, I need the Spirit to remind me, that the only thing that matters is the One, who brings us together in spite of our differences and that is Jesus.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Heavy Weight

Push-ups, crunches, lunges, OH MY.  High knees, Butt-kicks, Jumping Jacks OH MY.  I decided a few months ago that I was tired of putting up with extra weight.  I will be 38 this year and with age and 5 pregnancies my body was out of shape.  My hormones were completely out of whack.  I was suffering from depression, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid issues.  I didn't have enough energy to make it through the day.  I was suffering and everyone in my family was suffering from my bad moods and fatigue, so I made a commitment to lose the extra weight I had gained and get my body in shape.  I knew it was possible because I am blessed to be surrounded by woman my age who are in amazing shape.  With my goal set and my heart committed I decided my course of action, and I haven't looked back.

I chose the diet of choice which was Trim Healthy Mama.  I know me and I can't do super restrictive.  That's why I LOVE THM, I can still have a lot of my favorite things, but in a different way.  I didn't follow the rules exactly and I was ok with my weight loss taking a little bit longer.  I wanted this new way of eating to make since for me to stick with for life.  Feeling better was almost immediate when I removed all the crap food and the good food started to nourish my hormones.  It's unbelievable how much our hormones affect our life for good or bad.  The first few pounds came off and that motivated me to keep going.

Hand in hand with a healthy diet you NEED exercise.  We all know that we need exercise and that the benefits are numerous, but maybe like me, you feel like you don't have time.  I didn't know how I could fit it in during an already busy day, but I knew I wanted the results and benefits so I was gonna have to make it happen.  I decided to workout with Jillian Michaels on video in my living room.  Her workouts were 25 minutes long and I thought for sure I can carve that out of my day.  I have never been a lover of exercise, but now after seeing the benefits I can't wait for my workout each day.  Movement has a way of working out the stress that consumes me.  Every time my head mysteriously clears of all the anxiety I had before I started that 20 minute workout. 

 Today, after a few months of hard work and commitment I FEEL amazing.  I can tell my hormones have been reset.  I have more energy than I can remember having in my life, and my life doesn't feel so overwhelming.  I feel stronger mentally, emotionally and physically.   I have had to buy new clothes twice as my body has shed the extra weight and my clothes have gone from size 12 to size 6.  I haven't seen that size in 10 years.   The most amazing thing for me though is not the weight loss as much as seeing my body change shape and watching as the hard work develops lean muscle that I have never had.   All those lunges, squats, push-ups, plank jacks, etc. are changing my body and I'm addicted.   The fact that having 5 children and being close to 40 doesn't mean that I have to accept extra, flabby weight is exciting. 

I'm sure you know though that I didn't write this blog just to tell you about my weight loss.  As usual I have an alterior motive. 

When we give our lives to Christ he has a goal for our lives and that is to transform us into HIS image.   The bible says God's ways and our ways are not the same, so this transformation takes work.  It takes the right diet...  God's Word.  We need a steady intake of the wholesome, life giving Word of God.  The word goes in and the junk goes out. 

All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Along with a steady diet of God's Word we NEED to exercise our faith.  That's why we have plenty of daily trials to strengthen our faith. 

Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This verse is talking about the hard things a Christian endures...  the things that hurt, the things that are inconvenient, the things that we would rather not have as a part of our lives.  These things are serving a purpose.  These hard things, like the 3lb weight that I'm using to tone my muscles, are transforming us inwardly.  These hard things are increasing our faith as we see God work in our lives.   The Bible says without faith is is impossible to please God...  so he sends us plenty of opportunities to increase our faith.  Then faith produces patience.  James 1:4 tells us "let patience have it's perfect work, that YOU may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

Together these momentary light afflictions and the Word of God are transforming us into the people God desires for us to be.  We are getting stronger.   Like our bodies getting ready for summer....  our hearts are getting ready for Heaven.  One day we will look back and see all the hard work and we can say it was worth it all...  One day. 

Consider it all JOY...  whenever you experience various trials.  James 1:2 

Being SURE that they are necessary and essential part of our Christian life.  Knowing that the trials are producing in us what nothing else can!  Today, when you are tempted to complain about that hard thing, rejoice instead knowing that God has given you a little chance to flex that faith muscle.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Killing Me Softly

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I'm cooking breakfast, but my mind is elsewhere...  I'm dwelling on Luke 9:24 "For whoever will save his life shall lose it: but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."   The verse right before this Jesus is telling his disciples that if they are going to follow him they must deny themselves.  Paul says "I die daily".

My mind is on these verses and I'm going through the motions of the mundane duties that I perform daily.  This song "Killing me softly" and wondering what the rest of the words to this post should be and how can I convey what is in my heart?! 

And then it happens...  A tiny death.  There is the baby covered in oatmeal with his plate thrown on the floor.  Another mess.  My death may not look like yours, but just plug your details in and you get the picture.  A long time ago I felt God ask me to give him complete control of my life, including children.  I felt Him ask me to trust him and allow him to grow my family.  At the time I was single and only had dreams of a husband and family.  To me this sounded amazing.  I had always wanted a big family.  I had always dreamed of the wonders of motherhood.  I had NO IDEA it would be hard.   When my first child was born I felt that our family was called to Homeschool.  I had NO IDEA it would be hard.   Please understand that I love being a mom.  I love my children and I still would not do things any other way...  but, these things are my die daily.

Looking at the mess on the baby makes me tired.  I'm weary of the mess.  I'm weary of the whining.  I'm weary of the daily training that goes along with small ones.  I am seeing amazing things in my older children and I think how much easier my life would be if this wee little one was my last little one.  I dream dreams of freedom to do whatever it is that I want to do and I die daily to myself, because I don't know what He has in store for me.  This little one could be my last or there could be more little people to love.  I don't know, but I lay my life down and take up His will for me.  In this moment I surrender my life. 

Some of you might think these private thoughts are horrible.  You think how dare I and how you would love to be in my shoes.  Maybe you have never had children and you think I am horrible to call motherhood a death to self, but I know me and I know the selfishness that plagues me.  I know when I say I'm dying it's not that they are the problem.  It's me.  It's the fact that I would pursue ease and comfort and pleasure and waste my life on me if I had the choice.  I know that my choices would be different if I did not surrender my life to him daily. 

My surrender may not look like yours.  The beautiful thing about our God is that he fashioned us all individually.  We are all fearfully and wonderfully made.  Unique creatures of a very creative God.  He has plans and purposes for our lives.  He is working things out in us and this is just the way he is working in me.

I think about the way He is killing me softly and I love him even more.  I realize that He is recreating me through motherhood and I surrender again.

What is your surrender?  How do you die daily.  Is it painful for you?  I know that I will only find my life when I lay it down.  I know his will for me is better than mine.  His ways higher than mine... 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another Way.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of  the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said "The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war."  Exodus 13:17

Do you ever feel like SURELY there has to be a better way than this?  I do.  I often wonder what God is doing in my life.  I can't see where I'm going and I get frustrated a lot, especially if I think there is another way. 

The way God led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land was not the quickest way.  In fact the way he led them was around and around a mountain for 40 years.  The Bible says that He led them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He was always with them.

 He led them in the wilderness for 40 years teaching them about Himself.  There was a lot to learn too.  He was not like the other gods they had heard about in Egypt.  This was the first time they had experience with this God of their Father's.  Where they had been in Egypt everything was a god.  The sun god, the moon god, the frog god.  The Egyptians had hundreds of gods.  They also feared their gods and had to do everything they could to keep them happy or they feared the consequences.   

He was also teaching them daily dependence on Him.  You see just like us they thought they could figure this all out, but God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  He needed to teach them His ways.  

God knew that they were weak mentally, emotionally, and physically.  They had been slaves, oppressed by a hard taskmaster.  They were a broken people.  He knew they were not able to face the armies that they would have to fight against yet.  So, God gave them time to get strong.  He gave them time to rest.  He taught them along the way if you cry out to me I will listen and I will fight for you...  with a MIGHTY HAND. 

God is not in any hurry.  He knows what we need and He knows that sometimes the fastest, straightest way is not the best for us.  He will lead us like a lamp unto our feet, with barely enough light to see the next step we should take.  If he showed us too much we might not go His way.  We might be overwhelmed and turn back.  So, he leads us one small step at a time.  Sometimes for a long time around the same mountain, while he teaches us about Him, and he shows us He is our provision, our protection, our everything.  YAHWEH.  All sufficient God.  

We don't know what we are up against, but He does.  We aren't strong for the battle, but HE IS.  We have some learning to do...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Defense Wins Championships...

But let all those who put their trust in YOU rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them:  let them also that love YOUR NAME be joyful in YOU.  Psalms 5:11

The NAME of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run into it and are safe.  Prov 18:10

He ONLY is my ROCK and my salvation: He is my defense: I shall not be moved. Ps 62:6

You can score 100 points in a basketball game, but if you don't have good defense you're gonna lose.  You can have a great offense, but the championship comes down to who has the BEST defense.  Who can keep the other team from scoring. 

Last night we were having a bible study at our house.  We were talking about Heaven and seeking first the kingdom of God.   The focus was on having an eternal perspective and how that changes everything, but we have an enemy who hates that kind of thing...  Our enemy plays dirty. 

Tactic 1...  distraction.   Right in the middle of God getting our attention on eternal things a couple of the kids run in the house frantically saying "a nail went through Andrew's foot."  Tactic #2 attach the young.  After that moment there was chaos for the rest of the night.   The husband carries in the 4 yr old with a hole in his foot, screaming.  We started working on his foot (which took forever with all the crying and screaming), and right in the middle of that chaos the 6 year old comes in crying because he has a bad ear ache.   By this point the baby is crying because it's getting late and he's tired and just wants momma.   Forget Heaven at this point I'm dealing with straight up chaos.   Finally, everyone got doctored and passed out in momma's bed...  all 3 little boys. 

After the storm passed I just sat and cried.  I cried because I knew that was an attack by the enemy.  He totally diverted everyone's attention.  He totally came in and struck hard.  I cried because the enemy decided what was happening at my house last night was important enough to come and "try" to screw it up.  I cried because God is allowing good things to go on at my house.  I am so unworthy, but I am honored to be on His team.  He chose me.  You know like the kid who always gets left on the bench, because they aren't any good, so no one wants to pick you.  I cried for pure joy, because last night our bible study was centered around Romans 8:18 "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." 

I cried because in a small way I have been able to say that with Paul (although he suffered a lot more than I have).   As I knew the night would go it did...  The one with the hurt toe was up a lot crying.  I was up holding him and praying over him and singing over him.  When he finally fell asleep the little guy was up and back and forth.  It was a tough night...  we've all had those. 

What happens when you are up all night?  You think and you're tired.  That's not a good combo.  Enemy tactic #3 discouragement.  This is one of the enemies greatest weapons.  To discourage means to DEPRIVE of hope, or confidence; dishearten; dispirit.   To dissuade. 

That is exactly what the enemy does.  He attacks when you are weak and he discourages you.  He takes away your courage to continue.  This is why you MUST have a strong defense.   GREATER is HE that is IN ME than he that is in this world.  WE are MORE than overcomers through Christ.- Rom 8. 

Jesus said "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world."

Looking up at those verses in the beginning it says the NAME of the LORD is a STRONG TOWER, the righteous run into it and they are safe.  We have to run to the NAME of the LORD.  That is our defense and what is the name of the Lord? 

King of Kings....  NO ONE HIGHER
Lord of Lords....  enemy is subject to HIM.
Lord of Hosts....  host meaning the army of heaven.
Our Rock....
Our Fortress....
Our Salvation...
Our Redeemer...

There are plenty of names of God in the Bible to choose from.  The point is trusting in Him and what he says about himself.  The point is taking those thoughts captive and making them subject to obey Christ.  We have the BEST defense their is...  We are the children of God.  He is our Father and HE FIGHTS FOR US.

God used a friend to encourage me today and she probably had no idea how bad I needed that at that moment.  Doubts and fears and thoughts of inadequacy had been plaguing me all morning.   Discouragement had been my constant companion.  Her words gave me strength and the courage and the hope to continue.   He used her to lift up my head.  He is our defense. 

In this world we will have trouble, but the LORD OF HOSTS fights for us.  Nothing can separate us from the Love of God.  Though the enemy tries and roams around seeking whom he may devour our Hope is in God and He is our defense.  We have the BEST defense and we will win when the final buzzer sounds.   

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Leaky faucets and other nonsense...

The faucet over our kitchen sink is leaking.  So, what you say.  I will tell you WHAT...  I don't know when this particular frustration started, but it's been a while.  At first the faucet was a little loose and we would tighten it up.  A few days later it would be loose again and we would tighten again...  repeat.   This became a big source of frustration.  I know what you are thinking.  If this is the biggest problem I have then I'm pretty darn spoiled and you would be exactly right.  I tried to tell myself that and I even reminded myself on a regular basis about the story I heard of the little boy that walked six miles everyday to get water for his family.  It was no use though everytime I would walk up to the sink (and that is ALOT) there my problem was mocking me.

This little frustration began to take over my thoughts, until all I could think about was how amazing my life would be if I had a new, shiny kitchen faucet.  All my problems would be solved.  My life would be as it should be if I just had a new faucet. 

Well, guess what?!?!?  My amazing husband came home one day with a beautiful, new, shiny faucet.  I was so freaking excited!   My life would now be utterly perfect, because I would have a new kitchen faucet.  We took the old one out and installed the new one.  It was AMAZING...  for a few days and then guess what happened?  My new kitchen faucet that was going to solve all of my problems started getting loose.  Not only did it loosen up, but it started LEAKING TOO.  OH MY GOSH.  YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME IT'S BRAND NEW.   Leaking.  I didn't have that problem before.  UGH. 

As I stare at this new kitchen faucet in pure hatred for not solving my problems it begins to dawn on me that this really isn't my problem at all.  You know what I mean.  We all have some little or big something in our life that we think is our problem.  We think if this was different or if this person wasn't around, or if my butt was smaller, or if my kids behaved better or if my husband was more romantic...  then everything would be PERFECT.  Our lives would be complete and whole if our house was bigger or smaller.  If we lived in the country or if we had just the right friend.   Instead of enjoying the life we have been given and being thankful and content for all that we have we focus on that one thing that is just not right. 

The cleaners came yesterday...  Don't judge.  Anyway, I spent all afternoon after they left trying to keep my house from getting dirty again.  I have an unhealthy obsession with clean floors.  On Tuesday I swept and mopped the kitchen, but with 5 children it took 5 minutes to get dirty again.  So, from Tuesday to Friday I thought about how wonderful it was going to be after the cleaners cleaned my house and mopped my floors... once again putting all my happiness on this one thing.  They came, they cleaned.  It was wonderful for 5 minutes and then my son spilled his whole Sonic slush on the freshly mopped floors.  I was devastated (not really), but I was frustrated for sure.   Talking to my husband last night and telling him about all the messes I cleaned up he was like "what's new?"  He's right.  This is nothing new.  I have 5 children.  They make messes.  I've known this for at least  10 years, and I know I have completely unrealistic expectations and that's why I can't be happy. 

I have an AMAZING life.   I'm even embarrassed to type this blog because in all honesty I have NOTHING to complain about, but that's kind of the point.  I should be ashamed to act and think the way I do.  I should slap myself when I start to feel discontentment.   I SHOULD BE the happiest person on the planet.  I have everything I could ever want, but that is the point, STUFF doesn't make a person happy.  Nothing on this planet can make us HAPPY.  

I thought if I got married then I would be perpetually HAPPY.  I thought if I had children then I would be perpetually happy.  When those things didn't fill me up and meet all my needs I would always be looking for the next thing to make my life perfect, but that next thing never quite does it.  It's a let down. 

There's a problem.  The problem is that I was created to need and want and crave something.   We all are created to need.  We either don't know it or we forget.  I forget that my soul (the invisible part of me) longs for God and NOTHING on earth can satisfy that desperate need.  Unhappiness, sadness, discontent are all symptoms of looking to the wrong things to make us happy.

I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my HEART IS GLAD, my glory rejoices: my flesh also rests in hope.
For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life: IN YOUR PRESENCE IS THE FULLNESS OF JOY; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.    Psalms 16:8-11

In God we find fullness of joy.  He makes our hearts glad.  In Him we find all that we need to be complete.  It's amazing to me that peace and joy are a byproduct of spending time with God.   This should motivate me to spend time with HIM who alone satisfies my soul.