Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Love You Kisses

Bret Michael Holt. My Gift. He gives me so much blogger inspiration. Or really I guess he helps me see more clearly the way God looks at me. And that's really what this blog is all about. Yesterday I gave him a big smooch on his chubby, nearly edible, cheeks. I do that every chance I get, but this one time yesterday I felt that whisper across my heart like the Father was trying to tell me something. I was listening and after I kissed Bret, he of course wanted to kiss me.

Ah, those big, open mouthed, slobbery kisses I suppose only a mother could love. And I do. Then he looks me straight in they eyes. When he was a baby we would stare into each other's eyes and every now and then, even from across the room, he will lock eyes with me again for at least 10 seconds and we'll just smile. (AH! I love that kid!) So he does this again after he gives me the biggest, wettest, smooch and says I yuv you. Oh! What's a mother to do?! Of course I melt and would gladly give him anything he ever wanted. *sigh*

Now, I know in my mind that he tells me he loves me because he is constantly hearing me say, "I love you." Just like he copies everything his brother and sister say I know he's really just copying me because every time I kiss him I tell him I love him. It's natural for him to do the same. I'm not saying he doesn't love me or even that at this young age he doesn't know how to express it. He's learning. I'm teaching him. He's following my example.

During this exchange when this thought struck me that old song also came to mind. Because He first loved us. What a beautiful picture this is of the Father's love.

We love Him because He first loved us. This is how we know what love is, for love is from God (1 John 4:7). Do you know how He teaches us? I don't think it's much different then how I teach my children to love. I tell them. I kiss them. I say it over and over. Eventually they say it back because they are at that repeating stage. But somehow they start to get it that those words are more then just words. They mean something. Something hard to describe but they know it's good. It's exactly the way He's taught me. He's told me over and over in so many ways, through people, through good gifts, through unique situations that only are special to me, little kisses if you will. He demonstrates His own love (Romans 5:8). I didn't get it as easily as my children. I didn't believe it at first. I wasn't sure I could trust is. That didn't bother Him. He just kept saying it. He just kept showing me.

Oh, what joy He must get when we finally start copying Him! You know when your babies are at that stage, when they first smile, when they first say your name, that first time they say I love you. How special is it that first time they say I love you on their own with out you saying it first? Don't you just want to melt?! And we know He loves it when we love on one another. And if God is love then when we love one another God is there. He's in our love. Isn't that cool?! You want to find God? Just start loving on someone. What a beautiful King. My heart is full. I want to lock eyes with Him and smile and say I love you too.

The other interesting thought I had about my son is that whenever he wants my attention and I'm distracted, say when I'm trying to blog, for example. He waddles over and looks right at me and smiles or does something cute. If I still don't pay attention he'll put his hand on my arm to get me to stop typing or climb up next to me. Sometimes he even puts his chubby little hand on my cheek and moves my face to his. And he smiles, triumphant! Normally then, he jumps into my lap and laughs with delight. I think to myself how in someways when we pray or when we love Him it's like we're pulling at His arm or turning His face to ours. When we love Him we have His attention. We draw near to Him and He draws near to us. He goes deeper with those who want to go deeper.
Let's pull on Him today. He's never too distracted and He is always ready to say I love you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Kindness, Fasting, and Not Being Weird

So this is the longest I've gone in between blog posts and it feels super weird. I've had so many awesome ideas for posts but have not had the ability to write for a while. It all started with my laptop finally giving up. After a nice bath and a few unintentional collisions with my floor it seems to have crashed. As my husband put it, I got the "dreaded blue screen." Whatever that means. I wasn't too bothered since my husband has a desktop and I can access the internet through my TV (don't ask me how). However our remodeling project timetable got pushed back a bit. My house has been in total upheaval for about two weeks. Everything from our living room, including TV, got squished, literally, into my husband's office. For over a week we've lived without TV and computer...and survived! I can't say I missed it all that much except for, of course, not being able to blog. Having a DVR helps. Without it, I would have missed Downton Abbey and Biggest Loser. My patients was rewarded when I did finally get to see the season finale of Downton Abbey. But I digress.

I left you hanging last week with a post about doing a random act of kindness every day. It was quite the experience! I got my kids involved, which was so fun to see their little minds turning over with ideas full, of all things, KINDNESS! Our first day we wrote a nice letter to our mailman with some treats. Not sure how he liked it but they were gone the next day! We handed out cupcakes and made special phone calls to friends long overdue. What a wonderful way to prepare for Lent. I can't say anything super dramatic happened. It was the small things. The good, inside feeling we got that made it worth it. I loved intentionally turning my thoughts to others. I was surprised and disappointed to realize how hard that is.

This also leads me to my next topic. Lent. Wow. Let's just say I couldn't have picked a better time to give up coffee! EEK! This is true love, God! A house full of feverish, super cranky kids who can't watch TV, a sick and stressed husband, all exposed before a practical stranger working on our house. Mama needs her coffee! Since last Wednesday I haven't had a drop. Why? I've begun to realize that at least for me, Lent really comes down to more of Him and less of me. I express this through fasting something I really enjoy. It's been tough. Harder then I thought it would be. But I'm thinking that's kind of the point right? I don't think God is taking some creepy delight in my being miserable. I think He is loving that my heart gets turned toward Him at a time of day that I'm normally thinking of only myself. He breathes life into my soul and most days I've forgotten about coffee. Honestly, now that I think about it, the only times I've really craved it are the days I haven't first started my morning off surrendered to Him. Interesting...

Am I saying coffee is sin? Um...NO! But for now, I'm more then happy to let it go.

Our projects are somewhat back on schedule and our house is somewhat back in order and life is getting back to business as usual.

A couple of weeks ago I went to this amazing worship service. I walked in feeling burdened with a heavy heart. Hard to describe with words but since this is a blog I'll try. My relationship with the Lord feels like a roller coaster sometimes. Not because of Him. He's steadfast. And I've grown a lot, because even though outwardly as this roller coaster ride goes along, inside I feel an unfailing love consume my heart that leaves no room for doubt, which was always there but I didn't see it. Still, this feeling of wondering if I'm enough, if what I'm doing is enough, looms over my mind. I walked in feeling that way, I walked out feeling refreshed and enlightened but still feeling heavy. The worship service was actually part of three day conference. So stinkin' awesome, by the way. During one of the sessions something clicked inside me. This realization that I'm not weird. That feeling "spiritual" isn't weird. So, I am dramatic sometimes (my husband would say, "Sometimes?") and I know this can turn people off and distract. I'm working on that. But "hearing" from God is NOT abnormal or weird. In fact I'd say the opposite is true. Not "hearing" from God is abnormal. Who are we anyway? Aren't we His? Why would  He call us into relationship if it was just going to be empty and one-sided? Why did He go through all the effort to not speak with us now that He can? He actually wants to speak to us! He wants to walk with us and talk with us daily. And not just that, He wants me to hear Him when does speak. He wants to pour out His Spirit into our lives in ways that completely change us. A part of me came alive sitting there.

I'm not weird.

I'm not perfect either. The weight of my imperfections gradually started to creep back into my mind. What do I do God? I'm so screwed up. I have so many issues and so many problems.

At this point in my conversation with the Father the most unusual picture came to mind. What I felt like He was telling me is something He's told me in many different ways. Through the Bible, through different pictures, from words from others.

It was this idea of pressing into Him. We're all messed up. Imagine us being covered in junk but the closer we get to Him the stuff just flies off, really with out any effort on our part. Sometimes the more light I walk in the more I feel my junk is exposed. Actually it seems like these times are kind of organized. (Like God has a plan or something.) I may walk in relative darkness in one area of my life for a while when He shines His light into it and "it" is revealed. Suddenly I'm filled with a heavy and contrite heart but because I've walked this way so long it feels natural. It feels apart of me. What am I to do? What are You asking of me? I always have this feeling of being willing to do whatever I need to but with out a clear direction. I'm at a loss. What He's telling me is, the direction is towards Him. That's all. That's the answer. That's all He really wants from any of us. It's just for us to move in His direction. Walk towards Him. Press in when it's hard and you seem to be walking head on into hurricane winds. He's using that wind to knock junk off. If my focus is on Him and I'm leaning in closer, that stuff can't stay in my life.

It's Jesus. It's always been about Him. If there's a problem, He's the solution. If there is a question, He's the answer. If there's a gap, He fills it. It seems so simple. I think it can be. I know it can be hard some days but it's times like these, when I'm fasting, that I realize how simple it can be. If I can say no to coffee, I can say yes to Him. If I can intentionally look for ways to be randomly kind to someone, I can be intentional about following Him.

Let's press in today.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 1: A Random Act Of Kindness

Last night at Fusion (a youth group I journey with) the main topic was kindness...of the random variety.

One beautiful lady shared about how her and a couple friends set out to do a random act of kindness for 30 days straight. Fabulous testimony. So we broke up into small groups and discussed what we could do.

Many, many wonderful ideas were tossed around and the excitement was tangible. However, I was a bit of an interloper as I was filling in as a leader to a group that I don't normally spend much time with and honestly probably won't. Wonderful kids. I wish I could have grown up with this youth group as my friends. Seriously they are awesome. But the project this group was working on didn't really fit for me because they were doing it all together as a group who meets regularly. Since I'm not apart of it I was mostly just listening. Strange for me, I know!

It all really got me thinking. A random act of kindness? What would that look like for me? The challenge was to do something for someone that you would want or be thrilled about receiving. I think I'm generally pretty kind. Check my blog about the quarter. That has really sparked something in me. But being randomly kind for no other reason then just because? Hmmm. Intentionally looking for an opportunity to be...kind? Nope can't say I'm all that consistent there. I'm mostly looking to my own interests, taking care of my own little world, like most of you I'm sure. Or so I tell myself to possibly ease some guilt.

The challenge has been given. I've accepted. For the next 6 days, starting today I'm going to do a random act of kindness and will be blogging about it here. Why 6 days? Because in 7 days lent begins and I think this is an awesome precursor to fasting. What better way to start it then by being intentionally kind. Thoughtfully and intentionally looking for someone to bless in such an unexpected way. I can't wait.

Well if you did your math then you know today is Day 1. I have an idea in mind. Can't wait to share with you how it goes tomorrow!

Stay tuned, and hey, join me if you are so inclined! I'd love to here about it so post some comments and let me know what you do and how it goes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Poo and a Prayer

So my darling middle child has been learning to use the potty. He mastered the number 1 business early over the summer time. He pretty much just ran around in his lil undies all day like a barefooted little heathen. He's quite accomplished in this area and very proud, as am I. However, number 2 has been an issue. He refuses to do it on the potty. After waking up to a disaster in his underwear several mornings in a row I decided to put him back in diapers just at night time. He goes every morning in his diaper when he wakes up. This has been an acceptable arrangement for the last couple months. The problem is he's nearing 3 and I'm just plain tired of all the dirty diapers. I've been trying more aggressively to get him to use the potty for all his business and he still does not want to do it. He screams, "I'm not going to! I don't want to! I don't have to!" for the full 5 minutes at a time I make him sit there until the next time the timer goes off and he is required to sit there. He stubbornly refuses and boy does he have good control of his bodily functions because not until I put a diaper on him will he go.

Why am I telling you all this? What? You don't like learning about my child's bowel movements? *shocked face* OK so a couple days ago I was sharing my burdens with group of moms. We were all talking about the problems we're currently having with our children. But before that we were sharing how memorizing scripture is really changing a lot of things in our lives.

We started committing to a memorizing a Psalm a month. Last month was Psalms 61. Oh so many wonderful things in this scripture. It's really encouraged us all the last couple of weeks.

I began to share about how a couple of weeks ago I prayed it over someone. I shared that originally I was telling myself "don't say anything, don't pray, do. not. open your mouth." Then this scripture filled my heart to overflowing and it seemed to really be encouraging for everyone who heard it, as the Word of God tends to be.

I was telling my friends about it, my point being how awesome Psalms 61 is. One of the women (some of you know S. Sealy, who I now must give credit for this blog inspiration and title) asked why the personal struggle to pray for someone? Why was I saying, "no, not going to do it." because, as she pointed it out, it's like my son saying, "I don't want to go POOP!"

This caused a great amount of giggling and full out belly laughter in all of us but it really got me thinking. So I responded that it seems that every time I open my mouth I have the tendency to embarrass myself some how. Being a chatterbox growing up, I was told constantly to be quiet or stop talking or to lower my voice. Add that to the fact that I'm younger then all of my friends and I have an equation that adds up to a lot of insecurity about talking to other people about the Lord or praying for people. I commented to my friends that I feel like if I open my mouth something really horrible will come out. This of course set them up to compare me once again to my son on the potty and what his possible fears are about. In case you didn't catch the comparison, he may also be afraid of opening up and something horrible coming out.

Well I don't really have any answers about this but I wanted to share my journey. One of our pastors shared yesterday that we've all been given something very specific that no one else has to equip us and prepare us to share the gospel. We'll be accountable for this one day and even though we may try to blame our disobedience on lack of confidence or insecurity or just an attitude of playing it safe that that will not be acceptable. Not when He's so freely given us grace and healing for those areas.

Let me leave you with one last thought. When I was a bit younger and really involved in ministry I felt this insecurity. I was trying to remember how I overcame this before and I remembered a scripture I feel like the Lord specifically led me to.

Jeremiah 1 NASB
The Call of Jeremiah
 4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
   before you were born I set you apart;
   I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

 6 “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
 7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
 9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.

I have often reminded God that I am young and don't have the right words. He's constantly reminding me that that is not an excuse.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stubbornly Persisting

Last night I had a picture come to my mind. I've been realizing the Lord speaks to me a lot this way and I'm learning to pay attention when this happens.

The picture was of a pregnant woman (not me thank You Jesus!). She was carrying many large pieces of luggage. She had one strapped to her back, several on each arm, was balancing one on her head, and was even dragging some with her legs.

I asked Him what that meant.

My next thought was that it's interesting that a gentleman will open a door for a lady but will especially rush to open a door for an obviously pregnant woman. Even other women will stop what they are doing to help carry something for a pregnant woman. So the significance of the pregnant woman in my picture was not the baby but that she is someone who you would obviously want to help.

I felt like His desire was to lift the burdens of that woman. He was there with open arms to help her. But she refused. Stubbornly persisting that she could manage on her own.

How often do we do that?

The beautiful part was that I didn't pick up any sense of the Father's judgement towards this woman. It was like He was saying, "I know Love, I know you're strong. I made you, remember? I know you could do it. But you don't have to prove anything to Me. Let Me in. Let Me help you. I want you to be free."

It was nothing more then pure longing on His part to simply lift those burdens. It was a bit uncomfortable to watch really. I was nearly unable to help myself from judging the woman. Thinking, why don't you just let go? He only wants to help. Who do you think you are? You don't think you need Him??

But then of course I saw myself as that woman. Trying to carry and balance everything. Never doubting in His ability or desire to help me but feeling unworthy or simply too proud to show any weakness.

I wish I could accurately describe the feelings of compassion that were radiating from His Spirit. It was so touching.

If you are like me and maybe carrying a bit too much would you consider that man I spoke of before. The gentlemen rushes to help not because He sees a weak woman who can't make it on her own. He wants to help simply because He loves us and His desire is that we would be free of those burdens. He knows your strong. You don't have to prove anything to Him. He created you remember? Lay aside every weight. You'll be so glad you did.