Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Standing in Amazement

Today, I just stood in amazement...after I got done being REALLY upset!! 

The kids and I had gone to Sam's to pick up a few things.  We had stopped at the food court to pick up pretzels for lunch...my plan was to add some cheese and fruit when we got home.  Some days we do a VERY simple lunch and today just felt like one of those days.  After getting our pretzels, we headed to the van to load up.  As we approached the van, the spot next to us was empty...I was thankful because it would allow me to get the kids in without having to squeeze between cars.  As one of the kids was getting in, Sophie noticed this big, white suburban backing up and brought it to my attention.  I thought the person would stop and allow the kids to finish getting in, but he didn't.  He just kept backing up...not quickly...but definitely no indication that he was going to stop and let me get the kids in the van and move our cart.  He got so close to me that I couldn't even get the cart to the  back to unload it. When he realized that he was going to hit the cart, he did pull forward enough for me to get the cart around the back.  I just stood there in amazement!  There was a lady who saw all this happening, and she rolled down her window and told me she wanted to apologize for the man being so rude and to let me know that there was no reason for him to have acted that way.  I thanked her after she told me to stay safe.  After she pulled away, I noticed that there was a spot just across the way in the next row...he didn't have to drive around to the row...he just needed to pull forward.  I just stood in amazement!!!  As I was getting back in the car, Josiah asked, "Mom, why was that lady apologizing to you?"  I explained to him that she was apologizing for the way the man was acting.  He then asked me, "Why was he being so impatient and not being a gentleman?"  I stood in amazement!!

I have NEVER done this, but today I did something that is totally out of my introvert comfort zone.  I wrote a note and left it under this man's windshield wiper.  It said:

Maybe next time you could show a mom with four kids a little more compassion and allow them to get safely into their car before thinking about getting into "your" spot...it would have been the gentleman thing to do.  It is sad that my seven year old son asked me why you weren't being patient and being a gentleman.  Signed "A Very Disappointed Mom"

As I put the note on the man's car, I stood in amazement!

On the way home, I was  still upset about what had just happened.  Has our society gotten so self-centered that a mom can't even put her kids in her car without worrying if the driver is going to hit them just so they can have a parking spot that is one row closer?  Do I really have that rare of jewel in my husband being a gentleman...and teaching our sons to be gentlemen?  

 I could have gone on and on with my questions, but then the Spirit reminded me what Josiah had asked, "Why was he being so impatient and not being a gentleman?"  I realized that in my own frustration that I never really answered Josiah's question.  I didn't want to spend time focusing on why I thought the man did what he did.  Instead, I wanted to focus on Josiah realizing that what the man was doing didn't seem right to him.  So, we had a conversation about why it didn't seem right to him for the man to pull into the parking spot like he did...his answer...because it wasn't the gentleman thing to do.  I asked him what it means to him to be a gentleman...his answer...to make sure that you treat people kindly...especially girls and kids.  I then asked him what he would have done if he wanted that parking spot and he saw a mom with four kids trying to get in their car...his answer...I would have waited until they had gotten in the car safely...I would have rolled down my window to see if I could have parked my car...I could have found another parking spot. I just stood in amazement!!!

After we talked, I wanted to bring today's event back to Jesus.  We opened our Bible and we read Matthew 7:12a:

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you." (NLT)

I am thankful that I didn't allow this event to ruin my day, but instead allowed Jesus to redeem the day.  I am thankful I paused long enough in my rantings to hear the Spirit tell me to have a follow-up conversation with Josiah.  And I am thankful that my initial standing in amazement on how this guy had acted was overtaken by standing in amazement on the young man Josiah is becoming. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

From Head to Heart

This past Sunday, we sang "Oceans" by Hillsong United at church.  As we were singing, I knew I was in the presence of the Lord.  The words coming out of my mouth weren't just a song to sing, but they were the prayer of my heart. 

Stepping out of the boat onto the water has always been hard for me for a number of reasons.  The two most prominent reasons are trust and control.  When we started out on  this life changing journey two years ago, I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my life.  I was in a crippling position not knowing what we needed to do next.  I didn't see a solution to the situation we were in.  I was afraid...I was panicking...I just wanted a quick fix to make our life easy and comfortable again.  When you are at that point, you have two options...walk away from your faith in Jesus or reach out to Him.  I'm thankful that He gave me enough trust to reach out to Him...enough trust in Him when He called me out on to the waters that I went.  When I took the first step, I felt like I was sinking.  I didn't understand why I was sinking. But in my own humanness, I thought stepping out onto the waters was all I needed to do.  I thought stepping out of the boat was all the faith I needed to have.  But He wanted more for me.  He didn't want me to have this weak faith. No, He wanted me to have this unwavering faith that would stand strong in the stormy waters called life.  He wanted me to be strong in Him, so the next time some uncertainty came my way I wouldn't flounder in the crashing waves.

As I started on this journey, I was learning to let go of control.  I was learning to call upon His name. I was learning to trust Jesus. I was learning to keep my eyes above the waters searching for Him instead of focusing on all the crashing waves around me.  I was learning to rest in His embrace because I knew He had me on this journey to make me into the woman of God He wanted me to be.  I was learning that even during the storms, I was His and He was mine.

As my trust in Him grew, I began to realize in a new way what it meant for God to be in control of my life. I began to realize in a new way what it meant for Him to be my guide.  I knew about these truths, but they were head knowledge instead of heart reality.  As I was learning to make that transition from head knowledge to heart reality, there were times I thought I wanted control back.  In those moments, I stopped trusting what He was doing in my life.  Telling Him that I could handle it better than He could.  And often times when I was in those moments,  I was fearful.  But He would whisper to me that I was  His and He was mine.  He would whisper to me that He had not failed me yet and He wasn't about to start now. And with those soft whispers, I would hand control back over to Him knowing that my life was better in His hands than in my hands.

As my faith continued to grow deeper,   I was continuing to grow in keeping my eyes above the waters... searching for Him instead of focusing on all the crashing waters around me.  I was growing  in resting in His embrace because I knew He was continuing me on this journey to make me into the woman of God He wanted me to be.  I was growing in the heart reality that even during the crashing waves that I was His and He was mine.

Two years into this journey, my first response is to follow the Spirit where He leads. I am trusting Him in a way that I have never trusted Him before.  I am trusting Him as I walk upon the waters and knowing that He will take me deeper in my faith.  I know that He is making me strong as I walk with Him on the waters.  As I sit here typing this blog today, I call upon His name to keep me above the waters.  I rest in Him knowing that He has my life under His control.  I can do all of this because I know I am His and He is mine. He has taken my head knowledge and turned it into heart reality.

I know some are walking through stormy waters right now.  My prayer is for you to call upon His name...for you to keep your eyes on Jesus as the waters rise...for you to sit in His embrace knowing that you are His and He is yours...for your faith to grow deeper as the ocean waters rise.

Please take a moment to listen to the video below and sing to the One who knows what storms you are walking through right now...trusting Him every step of the way.

Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

(c) 2012 Hillsong Music Publishing (admin. in the U.S. and Canada at CAPITOLCMGPUBLISHING.COM) (APRA)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Walking Humbly

Today, the Hooties and I were doing our Bible time.  We use the Virtue Training Bible.  Each day, I pick a virtue to focus on.  Today's lesson was on humility/being humble.

We started off by reading 1 Peter 5: 5b-7.

"God opposes those who are proud.  But he gives grace to those who are not. (Proverbs 3:34)  So don't be proud.  Put yourselves under God's mighty hand.  then he will honor you at the right time.  Turn all your worries over to him.  He cares about you."

Then, we read Romans 12:3.

God's grace has been given to me.  So here is what I say to every one of you.  Don't think yourself more highly than you should.   Be reasonable when you think about yourself.  Keep in mind the amount of faith God has given you." 

When I was reading these verses, I asked the Lord to help me bring the truth of walking humbly to life in a way that the Hooties could understand.  Nothing came right away, so we took a few minutes and talked about walking humbly and what that might look like.  Then we also talked about what it might look like if we walked around proudly.  The most common answer was walking around with our nose up in the air.  Then as we were getting ready to pray the Lord gave me an activity to do with them.  

We have a really long hallway that leads to all of the bedrooms.  I went and got some stuffed animals and set them down the hallway...some on the sides and some in the middle.  Then I brought the Hooties one by one with their eyes closed to the start of the hallway.  Before they opened their eyes, I had them put their nose up in the air...walking proudly.  I told them that they had to keep walking down the hallway looking up at the ceiling.  Once they got to the end of the hallway, I brought them into one of the bedrooms...they were still holding their nose in the air, so they couldn't see anything.  When we got into the bedroom, I asked them what stuffed animal they saw as they walked.  All of them said they didn't see any stuffed animals.  I then explained to them that when we walk around proudly, we often miss opportunities to minister to people that God puts in our path.  After talking about that for a little bit, we went back out to the start of the hallway.  I told the Hooties that each stuffed animal represented a person...this one was homeless, this one is a single mom, this one just had surgery, this one just had a baby.  I then had them walk back down the hallway, and we stopped at each stuffed animal and discussed how we could help a homeless person, a single mom, a person who just had surgery, a mom just having a baby.  

It was so neat watching the Hooties share how they would help each person.  I stopped and thanked God for giving me this illustration so we don't miss opportunities to serve others.  I thanked Him for using me to teach the Hooties this lesson.  After the lesson, we had a sweet prayer time.  The older children prayed these beautiful prayers of asking God to help them see opportunities to serve others.  And as I continue to reflect on this lesson, I seek Him knowing that He will place opportunities before us...all we have to do is walk humbly. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Never Be the Same

"We go from glory to glory to glory
We'll never be the same, never be the same
You take us higher and higher and higher
We're forever changed, forever changed"

As we sang the above chorus to the song "Glory to Glory" by William Matthews, my heart was flooded with emotion! When you go through such fine tuning and stripping away like we have over the last two years, that season will always be a part of you...you can never forget those deep valleys you walked through.  

As we sat in the pew on the eve of Chris' first day of ministry at KPC, I couldn't help but to think back on how far the Lord has brought us.  I knew a part of me was the same person when we began this journey two years ago, but I also knew that I was forever changed.  

I know that there are some who are going through a waiting season.  There is a lot of uncertainty...a lot of pain...a lot of tears...a lot of questioning God...a lot of fear.  I want to encourage you, as one who has walked through a similar season.  The circumstances may be different, but the struggles are still the same. 

During the worship service, we read Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry. 
 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along. 
 He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord.

As you walk on this journey that the Lord is bringing you on, wait patiently for Him.  He is bringing you to glory and taking you higher.  You will never be the same and will forever be changed.  Cry out to Him knowing that He hears your cry.  Remember, our God is BIG!  He can handle any and every emotion that you throw at Him.  There were times, when I would YELL at God...I would tell Him how angry I was at Him.  I know some are gasping as they read that sentence, but I would be more concerned if a person stops talking with God.  A person needs to start worrying when the conversations with God stop.  Know that the Lord will lift you from your pit...it may be a week down the road...maybe a month...six months...a year...five years.  We don't know how long it will be, but remember that He is bringing you to glory and taking you higher.  You will never be the same and will forever be changed.  And when He sets you on solid ground, be ready to share what He has done in your life...what He has taught you...what He has brought you through...how He has changed you.  Because in those moments of vulnerability, God will use your journey to minister to others.  God will be lifted to His place of glory...He will be lifted higher and higher...and we will sing praises to Him for not keeping us the same...we will sing praises to Him for changing us forever.  And when we do, people will be amazed at what He has done.  And your journey could be exactly what the person God put in your life needed to hear, so they could put their trust in Him.  

So, my prayer for you as you go through this journey is to remember:

"We go from glory to glory to glory
We'll never be the same, never be the same
You take us higher and higher and higher
We're forever changed, forever changed"