Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fasting...From Makeup??

I'm not really sure where the idea came from. Wasn't really thinking about makeup, like a whisper the thought came to my mind. Give up makeup for a whole week. I immediately rejected the idea, obviously. I mean there is just no way I could possibly go without makeup. I spent almost a month in the Darien Jungle in Panama with no running water or electricity, at times in up to 125 degree weather and still wore makeup. Even when I don't really go anywhere I still apply at least a small amount. I don't like my freckles, and I have no eyelashes. It makes me feel good and pretty and I can vary it to fit my mood. I know I don't wear as much as some but honestly, I wear more then most and can't remember the last time I left my house with a naked face. So the thought of not wearing makeup to church or even to the grocery store freaks me out. But the more I started thinking about it the more I realized I didn't like that fear. I don't like knowing I receive value from anything or anyone other then God. He's my source of life, of being, of everything and to not be satisfied in the way He created me doesn't make me feel good. Now, I know this is probably getting into some controversial territory. Let me just say I am not starting any new doctrine (or an old one Hah!). I just feel like I have the opportunity to honor God in my obedience by fasting, of all things, make up. Although by next Sunday who knows how I'll feel about? I plan on going the next 7 days with out wearing makeup. None. No mascara, no eyeliner, not even a tinted sunscreen. And of course plan on keeping you apprised of how my day goes through each experience, from church, to grocery shopping, to giving piano lessons.This probably sounds very trivial to a lot of women out there who are used to going with out makeup all the time. But for me this really is going to be a big deal. I'm honestly absolutely terrified but I feel that gentle nudging of my heart and I know there is a lesson for me to learn and that excites me. So stay tuned, I'll let you know how it all goes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tribute to the Male Species

Most of the time I find myself wanting to pull my hair out when it comes to trying to figure out my man, but like everything else I try to look on the bright side. So with my limited knowledge of men (very limited) I decided to take what I know and see the good. I'll be speaking in absolutes but obviously I don't know everything and this is mostly based on my husbands personality. I know it's not Father's Day but I think our guys are pretty special and next time they do something very "male" that makes us crazy, let's try to look on the bright side because, honestly, we got it pretty good.


They really don't care what anyone else thinks. 
For example, we bought a new grill a few weeks ago and over the 4th of July weekend had some folks out. My husband was determined to keep the grill on the back porch even though every time the door opened the smoke detector in the house went off. I suggested moving the grill many times to no avail, and even when our friends suggested it he always shook his head and said "Nah I'm good." *sigh* Ok so things like that could make me crazy but when I think about the fact that when it comes to things like our family values and convictions, or the way we raise our kids...He's unmoving. He doesn't care what anyone else says and doesn't feel the need to explain why we do what we do. I can really appreciate this because I would tend to compromise what I believe for the sake of making others happy.


Just because they're not talking doesn't mean they aren't listening.
It used to make me crazy (hah! sometimes still does!) that my brothers or father, never just wanted to talk, or that when I talked they didn't really participate. Now I live with a man who is the same way. I would ask many times "hello? are you listening?" He always replies, "Yes babe, I'm listening." I don't think that when men get together to "chat" that they encourage the conversation like women do. You don't hear one guy saying to another "Oh sure, go on, what happened next?" But we like to hear things like that as we tell a story. And as frustrating as it can be I have had to remind myself of all the surprise gifts he's gotten me and I've thought to myself "wow he was listening." It's also really nice to know he's not sitting there thinking about what he wants to say, waiting for me to take a breath so he can jump in and interrupt (like I know I'm sometimes guilty of). If he doesn't have a reply right away, it's because he really was listening. And just because he's not saying anything doesn't mean he's holding out on you, just means he really doesn't have anything to say.


Like a rock.
I'll admit there have been times I've thought my man was a rock tied to a rope around my neck dragging me down. I always get these "brilliant" ideas and he always seems to squelch them. However, I can't tell you how many hair brained, crazy ideas he's kept me from running with by just saying "let's sleep on it." Would make me so crazy! Why won't they just move and do what we want?? But then I'd wake up the next day or the next day and realize he was right (gulp, don't tell him I said that!). I'm so glad I have a rock in my life and that he is tied around my neck! He keeps me grounded so that I'm free to be overly emotional, crazy full of life and energy, and free to go with the flow.


They look so good.
Men are, well, men. They have their own manly way of doing and seeing everything but sometimes it's best to embrace the difference. There is definitely a physical aspect that I love about my man. He's strong where I'm weak, and hard where I'm soft. After I ask him to do something, like move a giant piece of furniture up or down the stairs, he often asks me "You know I'm not really Superman right?" I always look at him like "well, of course you are" and almost always he really can do it. He can always get the lid off the pickle jar, reach the top shelf, take even our 5 year old on airplane rides, and right after I was pregnant and the nurse wouldn't let me go to the NICU to see my baby until I was able to put myself in my wheelchair, he was able to pick me up and put me there when she wasn't looking. Even if your man isn't the most physically fit, there is something about the male body that get's us every time.


These are just a few things. What's something about your man that makes you crazy but is really a good thing? Post a comment, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Will Dance

Recently a bunch of youth from our church went to John 3:16 Mission to help with their VBS. One of the students was telling a story about how the kids weren't really very well behaved. How it was really hard teaching the lesson because of how loud they were all being. Then her attitude changes as she begins to tell about the praise and worship experience. She said the the kids singing and dancing just made everything all better. It put a smile on her face and made it all worth it. Just watching them dance, changed everything. Their joy and delight as they lost themselves in the music was really something to see.
It made me think about how God delights in our praise and our dancing before Him. I know that even if I never did He would still love me with a passion but I wonder if my praise "makes it all worth it" so to speak. It's like all my faults just melt away and He's as joyful in that moment as I am. I know He never gives up on me but does He tire of my constant complaining? Does He long to hear my voice full of thankfulness? I think He delights when I loose myself and dance like David. I think it releases something between us. Releases the tension some how. Releases blessing. It probably makes us easier to work with, to teach, when we turn to Him with praise and express ourselves in the freedom He offers.

So let's dance today. It makes everything a little better.

Psalm 89:5 MSG
...The Right and Justice are the roots of your rule; Love and Truth are its fruits. Blessed are the people who know the passwords of praise, who shout on parade in the bright presence of God. Delighted, they dance all day long; they know who you are, what you do—they can't keep it quiet! Your vibrant beauty has gotten inside us— you've been so good to us! We're walking on air! All we are and have we owe to God, Holy God of Israel, our King!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Red Jello



When God is your best friend you can talk to Him about things and trust that He sees your heart. For example this morning I was talking to the Lord about some stuff. Mostly asking "When God?" concerning some of my hearts desires. These are mostly "wants" not "needs" but I am totally content at where I'm at right now so I could trust Him with these things that I long for knowing I won't be misunderstood. I was praying as I was mopping the red jello off the floor (mind you I can't remember the last time we actually had red jello) and the thought crossed my mind that even though I know my kids absolutely delight in red jello, it's just not worth it. It stains everything and gets everywhere and most of the time they can't really eat it anyway because it's so hard to pick up. My next thought? That these things that I want, well, it's kind of like red jello. Even though God knows it will make me happy, He sees things from a perspective that I don't. He sees the mess it would make in my life right now. I hear myself telling Lydia and Alex, "We'll have red jello again when you're a little older, that way you'll enjoy it more." And even though I am a bit disappointed, I know He has my best interests at heart. After all, jello might not be in my near future but no one said anything about cookies. I can delight in the wonderful things in my life now and know with absolute certainty He is good.

Psalm 103 NASB
 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

5k Anyone?

Ok so it hit me today as I was running on the treadmill, (yes I know it's hard to imagine ME running but I promise I totally was). When things get tough, you gotta just push through it. When I'm "running" and I feel like my chest is about to explode, instead of slowing down, I bump up my speed for at least 30 seconds before slowing down. That way the next time I feel like stopping I can tell myself "you know you can do this for at least 30 more seconds." (Listening to one of my favorite running songs doesn't hurt either.) And I realized that for me when things get tough in my life, and I feel alone, and like God is no where around, that's not the time to quit. That's when I need to push it even harder. That's when I need to run with everything I have straight into His arms. Push through the pain, run past the fear. For me I've found that no matter how far I thought I was...turns out He was a lot closer then I thought. He always catches me when I throw myself into His arms. Not only that, I find that He's been running beside me all along. The really cool thing? The next time it gets hard and I feel alone I can tell myself "remember last time, He's right there." And He always is.


Heb 12 NASB 
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Filled to Overflowing

We've all probably heard teachings where our hearts are compared to a tea cup and that God can't fill us with His "stuff" if we're already full of our own "stuff." Although I think in a way this can be true, another thought contrary to this crossed my mind while I was washing a baby bottle. I'm sure most moms, like me have had those days where the dishwasher is full of dirty dishes, the sink is full, and half the sippy cups and baby bottles have been lost and forgotten all around the house. Well I was having one of those days when Bret was ready for his bottle. I found one and started washing it. I always put a little soap in the bottle and sponge as I clean it and then after I've scrubbed it all over I let the water fill the bottle to overflowing until no more suds come out so the milk doesn't taste like soap. (Please tell me I'm not the only mom out there who does this?) Anyway as I was washing the bottle I thought, ya know, I really hope that it's like this instead of the tea cup scenario. Let me try and put into words what my brain processed in half a second. I truly believe that we can't change ourselves for the better on our own. What I felt though in my heart was that if I just stay under the water, or in God's presence He will overwhelm my soul and fill my heart to overflowing to where there isn't room for anything else. We all come to Him the same, needing His grace and mercy, all falling short. For some maybe there is a radical, miraculous transformation but for most of us it's a journey of learning His ways. I don't wake up in the morning and on my own become this gentle, joyful, loving creature. I'm pretty harsh, with a sharp tongue and and extremely judgmental and critical eye. Those things come naturally to me, I can't fix it on my own. I can't pluck it out of my heart no matter how I try or how much I long to have that gentle, kind spirit. It takes an act of surrender on my part, a willingness to trust Him and stay in the flow but the reward is worth it. The reward is being utterly washed in His fullness. Imagine being that bottle under the faucet, filled to overflowing to where the only thing that remains is the water. His love and joy that it spills out onto other people without me even trying. A little bit of dish soap goes a long way, (especially if you put it in the dishwasher).

Romans 15 NIV
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Radar

There is an issue I have been struggling with. The details really aren't important, but what is important is that I have been struggling with it for a while. I decided to really bring it before the Lord...again. I was reading the Bible this morning in 1 Cor. 2 and I was getting a lot out of it. It's a passage I've read many times but I was enlightened in a new way today. The funny thing is, I really didn't see how it had anything to do with the burden I've been carrying. So of course I informed the Lord of this, ya know, like "Yeah this is really good God but what does it have to do with my 'stuff'" HAH! Picture me informing HIM of what He needs to teach ME. Anyway, He very gently and lovingly whispers to my heart that my "stuff" isn't even on His radar. "Radar," that's the word that was impressed on my heart. This thing I've asked for forgiveness for countless times and has been weighing me down isn't even on His radar? How can that be? It has seemed so big to me, so terrible, has made me feel like a bad person and yet it's not even on His radar? Near weeping I thank Him for bringing me to this scripture:

1 Cor 2 NIV: 
 7 ...we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:
   “What no eye has seen,
   what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
   the things God has prepared for those who love him—
 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,
   “Who has known the mind of the Lord
   so as to instruct him?”
   But we have the mind of Christ.

I've been dealing with a lie that keeps crawling into my brain but the truth is I have the mind of Christ. Not because I'm some super "christian" but because I have received the Spirit that is from God. The Spirit that knows the deep things of Him, that speaks to me, not in words taught by humans, but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities. Even though my mind has not seen, or heard, or conceived what God has for me, the one who loves Him, the Spirit has and He lives in me. These insignificant issues I have not been letting go of, that have been weighing me down with fear and insecurity, that have made me feel like less of a "christian" aren't even on His radar. I am not one of those people who considers the things of God foolish. I am, at least, starting to understand what He has given me freely. His love. His forgiveness. His mercy. His compassion. Wisdom. His Spirit. A mind like His. And the list goes on. Don't let anything get in the way of what He has given you. Nothing is more significant to God then your relationship with Him. If I went to my best friend apologizing over and over for the same thing even though she forgave me the first time I believe she would finally say to me "Katie, that's not even an issue, it's not even on my radar."
Being loved by Him isn't something I should have to work at receiving. I don't have to do anything to be good enough. I have, and know these things because I have His Spirit.


Now something that blows my mind? What is on His radar? When I think of radar I think of that little screen on submarines you see in the movies. You know, with the little blinking dot, beep, beep? How many miles does that cover? I guess if you think in terms like that, His radar would be the whole world? What about abstract things like the hearts of all mankind, world peace? That thought could make me feel really small in comparison but how awesome is it that with literally the whole world on His mind His thoughts are for me? And YOU.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Motherhood Is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank)

Was recently sent this article in an email. Couldn't have said it better myself and just had to share. As a young mother of three I can attest that the grocery store is definitely hostile territory. Hope this encourages you the way it did me.


A few years ago, when I just had four children and when the oldest was still three, I loaded them all up to go on a walk. After the final sippy cup had found a place and we were ready to go, my two-year-old turned to me and said, “Wow! You have your hands full!”


She could have just as well said, “Don’t you know what causes that?” or “Are they all yours?!”


Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen.
A Rock-Bottom Job?


The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.


Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing.


If you grew up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood, to think like a free Christian woman about your life, your children. How much have we listened to partial truths and half lies? Do we believe that we want children because there is some biological urge, or the phantom “baby itch”? Are we really in this because of cute little clothes and photo opportunities? Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? If so, what were we thinking?
It's Not a Hobby


Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.


Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.


Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.
Run to the Cross


But a Christian should have a different paradigm. We should run to to the cross. To death. So lay down your hopes. Lay down your future. Lay down your petty annoyances. Lay down your desire to be recognized. Lay down your fussiness at your children. Lay down your perfectly clean house. Lay down your grievances about the life you are living. Lay down the imaginary life you could have had by yourself. Let it go.


Death to yourself is not the end of the story. We, of all people, ought to know what follows death. The Christian life is resurrection life, life that cannot be contained by death, the kind of life that is only possible when you have been to the cross and back.


The Bible is clear about the value of children. Jesus loved them, and we are commanded to love them, to bring them up in the nurture of the Lord. We are to imitate God and take pleasure in our children.
The Question Is How


The question here is not whether you are representing the gospel, it is how you are representing it. Have you given your life to your children resentfully? Do you tally every thing you do for them like a loan shark tallies debts? Or do you give them life the way God gave it to us—freely?


It isn’t enough to pretend. You might fool a few people. That person in line at the store might believe you when you plaster on a fake smile, but your children won’t. They know exactly where they stand with you. They know the things that you rate above them. They know everything you resent and hold against them. They know that you faked a cheerful answer to that lady, only to whisper threats or bark at them in the car.


Children know the difference between a mother who is saving face to a stranger and a mother who defends their life and their worth with her smile, her love, and her absolute loyalty.
Hands Full of Good Things


When my little girl told me, “Your hands are full!” I was so thankful that she already knew what my answer would be. It was the same one that I always gave: “Yes they are—full of good things!”


Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine. If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully. Lay down pettiness. Lay down fussiness. Lay down resentment about the dishes, about the laundry, about how no one knows how hard you work.


Stop clinging to yourself and cling to the cross. There is more joy and more life and more laughter on the other side of death than you can possibly carry alone.


Rachel Jankovic is a wife, homemaker, and mother. She is the author of "Loving the Little Years" and blogs at Femina. Her husband is Luke, and they have five children: Evangeline (5), Daphne (4), Chloe (2), Titus (2), and Blaire (5 months).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just Another Weed



We started a new series at church, going through the parables Jesus gave. Sunday one of the pastors spoke on the parable of the wheat and the weeds.

Matt. 13 NIV
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
   27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
   28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
   “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
   29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

Since Sunday I've really begun to see this parable take shape in my own life in a few different ways. I can see how my life as a whole is the entire field of wheat and how there are weeds there. I can also see my world as the field and how there are both kinds of people in my life. But the main thing I've been getting out of this parable is this. In either scenario God did not want the weeds removed because of His love for the wheat. No matter how overwhelming the "weed's" influence seems to be, the only reason it's there is because His love is so strong He doesn't want to even possibly harm the wheat. He lets me grow and gradually shows me the things in my life that need changing. This is a big eye opener when I think of other people and their walk with the Lord. If I see something I think isn't right it's not for me to walk over and rip out a "weed." If there are things in my life, circumstances or past hurts, that bring me pain and cause me to question, I can see it as weeds in a field of wheat. I see them as opportunities for God to show me even more of His love. Bad things happen and hurting people hurt people but it's only by the love and grace of the Father that He hasn't ripped out all the bad from our life. I long for the day that the harvesters come and separate the good from the bad. Until then I choose to believe my God is good and if there are weeds in my heart or life, I trust His purposes and the confidence I have from knowing it's all because of His love. There is a bigger picture, thankfully, if it was all about me and my world, well...you'd all be in for a world of hurt.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stick With It

Recently God has put someone on my heart to really show His unconditional love to. This person has rejected me, my love, and His love, every step of the way and has even gone as far as to say some hateful and untrue things about me in a public forum as a way of lashing out and trying to hurt me. Hurting people hurt people. Luckily I don't find the definition of my value and worth in what any one says about me or does to me so it's easy to forgive. A friend was sharing with me recently something he has learned through trying to shine his light to those living in darkness. He said "You know God really is concerned about that person, He wants to reach them, but He's trying to teach you something too. He's building character in you. He's showing you the meaning of long suffering." Man that really hit home for me and I am compelled to share. The rejection you may receive when you try and shine your light to others is just another thing God can use to build character in your heart. He's teaching me the definition of long suffering. He's giving me a more intimate look into His hurting heart when others reject Him. It's building my trust in Him and He's softening my heart towards those who are living in darkness.

My hearts cry today? The song Hosanna by Brook Fraser. 
....open up my eyes to the things unseen, show me how to love like You have loved me. break my heart for what breaks Yours, everything i am for Your kingdoms cause, as i walk from earth into eternity....

Galatians 5 MSG
 22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Go ahead and push His buttons

I took my kids to the sprinkler park today. They always have such fun there. The different sprinklers have these little knobs that you push that turns the water on. The park does this so the sprinklers aren't running constantly and they don't waste water. All the little knobs are at the perfect height for the kids and they really love pushing the buttons. I love watching them play. I love seeing their little faces light up in different expressions from the shock of the cold water and the shear joy of their play. It's like the water has a life of it's own. It's just waiting beneath the surface for someone to come a long and push the button. I think God is a lot like that. I think He's just waiting for us to come a long and tap into what He has. Once we lean into Him we are showered with His goodness. His love rains down on us bubbling up from an unending supply. He'll never run out of mercy, or love. He never shuts it off. Lets dance in the rain today. Lets spread our arms wide and let it saturate our very being. I love how the button is always right were we need it to be able to reach it. It's different for everyone. He knows just where you are and He's made Himself available to you.


 In this picture Lydia was standing in a dry place but what she didn't see above her was a bucket filling to overflowing ready to dump out all over her. She moved at the last second and missed the water. As smart and determined as she is though, she quickly learned that if she pushed the button the bucket would fill again and if she was patient she would feel the overwhelming deluge of water over her entire body. In my life right now I feel like I'm in a constant, steady stream of love. I know with a certainty that when I "press that button" He'll be there. It doesn't always look like the way I thought but with out a doubt there is joy. It hasn't always been that way and I know for some you're standing in a dry place, waiting. Just wait because what you don't see is the bucket filling up right above your head about to topple over your life.

For others, well, all you need to do is push the button.

Isaiah 30 NIV
18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
   therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
   Blessed are all who wait for him!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A New Due

This morning I finally made time to get my hair done. My really good friend Anna does it for me and she is amazing at her job. I color my hair quite a bit which means all kinds of crazy techniques and devises are used to get my hair just the right shade of pink that I like. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. One thing she does is take little bits of hair, apply the color, and wrap it in foil. When she's completed all the foils and applied color to all the rest of my hair, my head looks like a scene out of a sci-fi movie. The color has to sit on my hair for 30 min. Half way through Anna said how amazing it looked. I thought to myself, "What? How can she possibly tell? It's a purple color right now and yet she looks at my hair and sees something amazing. Well she is an expert after all, she can transform my dull mousey brown hair into an absolute master piece." Or so goes my thinking anyway. She wasn't looking at the foils or the hair color. She was seeing the finished product. There was excitement because she new it was going to turn out amazing. This led me down a hole other train of thought. It reminded me of the Master Potter.  
He looks at a dull lifeless piece of clay but He doesn't see the ugly bumps and smears, the clump of nothing. He looks at it and sees a masterpiece. He sees the finished product. Like Anna, He is a master at what He does. He looks at the piece of clay with excitement, knowing it will be a joy to work on. He's like a master diamond cutter, who doesn't see the hunk of coal but a beautiful diamond. He knows just where to make the right cuts and how to buff out all the impurities to bring it to it's full potential. I know that is how the Father sees me. Of course I'm still just a mess with a "head full of foils" but He doesn't see that. He sees me perfect. He sees a masterpiece and looks on with joy and excitement. He doesn't see me the way others do, with all my "lumps and impurities." He sees the beauty underneath and delights in molding me to the image He has created me to be. He doesn't rush the process because if He were to do that, well then lets just say it would be like Anna washing the color off before it's done....orange hair. He's patient, there's no need to rush when what He sees is the masterpiece already.

Hebrews 10:14  NIV
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Whispers in the Wind

I was having a pretty rough morning. My schedule got totally messed up from the very beginning and I thought that was why everything was getting thrown off. I've felt frustrated, and even angry. I've seen something in myself today that I haven't liked. There has been no patience and no peace. The little things were getting under my skin, which means big trouble when you are taking care of four small children because "the little things" are numerous. I did, however, manage to get all 4 kids down for naps at the same time, so I tried to lay down and take a nap myself. To be quite frank I laid down feeling absolutely disgusted with myself for the way I had completely lost my temper and shouted at my daughter earlier. Even though I apologized to her and we had reconciled I still felt really tense. As I was replaying my actions in my mind I felt the brush of wind on my shoulder. (I'd love to say it was from the cool breeze wafting from the open window but seeing as how it's above 100 out right now, it was from my husband's bedside fan.) I felt the gentle nudging of God's presence in that moment. I felt a release and a cry for forgiveness came to my lips. It was like smoke rising from my spirit and being wafted away by God's grace and mercy in the wind. His cool breath dried my tears and showed me the way. He showed me the lie I believed, that I needed to be in control of every situation to not be afraid, and He showed me the truth. That He's holding me in the palm of His hand and in that space I have no control but where else would I rather be? What do I have to fear while in His embrace?

Your love never fails.

Have you ever been down a country road like the one I grew up by, where the trees are so often swept to one side by the wind that even when there is no wind they are at an angle? 
 
They're roots have to go down deep for them not to fall over and the wind is such a constant that the limbs grow that way. Millimeter by millimeter. Day by day.

Let me be like that tree. With deep roots in His Word and long strong limbs that are flexible and bend in the wind of His breath. That even those who can not see the wind still see the effect it has on me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm All In

A while back one of the pastor's at my church suggested that God is like the ocean. His waves of love and mercy wash over us, one after the other. Constant. Faithful. Never-ending. He's deeper and bigger then we can imagine. Immeasurable.
I saw myself, as he was describing this, standing next to the ocean. Walking towards it. Letting the water lap at my toes...and of course I shrieked! And ran. I went to a beach one time with my family and it reminded me a lot of my experience there. It was warm outside, nice sunny day. We assumed the water would be warm. I ran and jumped in. The water was freezing! I think that's how some view God. Having this expectation of being let down. Looks good, sounds good, but being afraid of being disappointed. They see this raging tidal wave ready to crash into them. They are afraid of all the unknowns. How can we trust in something we do not understand? I think for some it's one step at a time, one little toe at a time. Letting your body get used to letting go. Getting used to the water slowly. That's OK God doesn't mind proving Himself to us. He draws us lovingly to Himself. Although for some, like myself, it's been a giant leap of faith. A dive into the unknown. Letting Him pull me down deeper, with my clothes on and all, He takes me just as I am.. There have been times I have been afraid and have had to kick back up to the surface. His love is a raging sea after all. But as I lay, floating on the surface, feeling Him, constant. His heart beats for me. He pulls me in, washes over me. He washes away all my doubts, all my fears. I let myself sink deeper. I take a deep breath and let the water slip over my head. I'm drowning in His love, in His grace.

Sweep me away oh God. Sweep me away. Let me never reach the bottom of Your goodness.

I stumbled across this poem. Love it.

Communion with God by Joseph Law
In the depths of my soul, I cried, “God … Oh, God!”
I want nothing but you, beloved Creator of all
You’re the father and I’m the child
You’re the master and I’m the servant
You’re the creator and I’m the created
You’re the musician and I’m the instrument
Let me appreciate you in the beauty of nature
In a smile and in the love of an innocent child
Let me experience your omnipresence
So that I can worship you in every form
Let me reciprocate your love for me
And manifest the Kingdom of Heaven on earth
Help me see through the deception of form and duality
Help me see that in the absence of falsehood there is truth
Help me see that what lies before me is nothing compared to what lies within me
Should we not attune with your will,
Then why should we live?
Should we not live according to your laws,
Then why should we breathe?
Should we not appreciate that true romance is with you,
Then why should we worship the human form?
Let me live in the world
But not be of the world
Let thy will be done!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Shut. The. Front. Door.

So we just got home from getting groceries. I, holding Bret and Lydia opening the front door for us, walk toward the house. Alex...well he's lagging behind, inspecting a rock, chasing a butterfly, doing his "boy" things. "Alex," I call him sweetly. "Come on Alex, it's too hot to play outside, let's go in and put the groceries away." He jumps around, finds a stick. "Aaaalex, come inside now." He pretends not to hear. "Alex! Get in this house right now." He sits down. What to do in this predicament. I can't go grab him because I've got an arm full of groceries in one hand, my purse and Bret in the other. So like a lot of moms out there I resort to reverse psychology. "Ok Alex, bye bye." And I shut the front door. I stood quietly peeking from the window. He gets up runs to the door crying and banging for me to let him in. *sigh*
OK so I know this is probably not the best parenting method. I have my excuses, holding a baby and groceries, everyone's tired from the exhausting trip to the grocery store, ect. The point of this story really isn't my parenting method here. It's the thought I had as I shut the door. "Is this how Father is with me sometimes?" Do we walk along together happily until I get distracted by something off the path of righteousness. He calls me by name, "Kate, come on sweet girl, walk with Me, stay with Me, love." I lag behind inspecting, chasing after butterflies."Katie, come on, you don't want those things, follow Me." I'm too interested in what I'm doing on my own so I pretend not to hear. "Katie, Katie." I sit down. At that moment I see the door shut. But in that moment I see something Alex didn't see. I see Him quietly, patiently, longingly waiting for me to get up and run to Him. I see He hasn't really left me, He's just waiting for me to make the right choice. He's hopeful, He's thinking "Come, Katie, I know you, I created you. You can do it. You know the right thing. Hear my voice." His thoughts are for me. Even though it would have been better for me to stay with Him in the first place, He never gave up on me. He's always there waiting for me.
If you are some where staring up at that door with your arms folded in front of you, proudly determined to go your own way, yet knowing in your heart it's not really where you want to be, know this. You are not alone. You never where. He's just waiting for you to get up and come inside. No harsh judgement is going to rain down on you. Like Alex, you'll get a hug and a kiss once you come through that door and a gentle reminder to stay with the One Who loves you.

Matt. 7 NIV
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.    9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!


 Note: The first pic was taken by my friend who works as a missionary in Africa. Learn more about him here.

Friday, July 1, 2011

1 Mama, 1 Shower, Everyday

After I had my third child I was understandably a little overwhelmed. My daughter started half-day PreK 3 weeks after my son was born. I originally thought this was a great idea. Turned out to be one of the worst mistakes I've ever made. Between feeding schedules and loading up all three kids in the car twice a day, and interfering with naps, having any time for my self was virtually out of the question. If I ever did have a minute I usually spent it in a sort of comma/daze staring at the TV or computer. It seemed like I rarely showered. If I did it was a quick in and out before anyone started screaming. After about 4 months of this I realized I had to make time for me, even if it was just a 15 minute shower. So that was my goal. For the last 6 months I have made taking a shower number one priority in my life. This probably sounds kind of strange, but making myself take a shower everyday has been a big part of why I still have my sanity. Some days that's all the "me" time I get. But in that short time under the relaxing water I'm able to let go of everything and just breathe. No screaming, no demanding, no questions, no TV, no computer, nothing. I step out feeling relaxed and refreshed. I feel energized and ready to take on what ever comes my way. I've since been able to add other things like exercising and veg out time. With constantly being demanded of and fighting fires all day, it's tough getting that time.
When this blog topic originally came to my mind I wasn't sure where to take it. I was wondering how to "fit" God into it. It was actually in the shower that I realized "fitting" God into my life, or a blog for that matter, isn't possible. Not when He's my everything. He's my very breath. I breathe Jesus in and out all day long. That's how I really make it. With out Him I could probably still function to some degree but there would be no joy, no peace, and no harmony in my family. It would all be chaos. When things get tough, when I feel like shouting at my children I can just...breathe. Unlike a shower or other "me" time, which involves careful planning and preparation, I can close my eyes and meet Jesus any time of the day. I can ask Him for help at any moment. When I was pregnant with my third and still had a very strong willed 1 year old boy running around, who I was having to carry up and down the stairs, there were times I could literally feel Father's arms around me, holding me up. He gave me strength. It's a wonderful thing, being able to trust in Him. There was a time when I didn't. So silly if you think about it. He's all powerful, literally holding the world in His hand, with unlimited resources, unfailing, faithful, true. Did I mention He's love love love.  I know there are things in this life that hurt and cause us to question Him. I've had my share of those kinds of experiences. But can we really do anything about those things anyway? What do we have to loose by relying on Him?
So all this is running through my mind in the shower...thank God for showers. Moms. Just breathe...and shower.

Deuteronomy 32 MSG

 1-5 Listen, Heavens, I have something to tell you. Attention, Earth, I've got a mouth full of words. My teaching, let it fall like a gentle rain,
      my words arrive like morning dew,
   Like a sprinkling rain on new grass,
      like spring showers on the garden.
   For it's God's Name I'm preaching—
      respond to the greatness of our God!
   The Rock: His works are perfect,
      and the way he works is fair and just;
   A God you can depend upon, no exceptions,
      a straight-arrow God....