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Monday, April 07, 2014

Jesus, Can I tell you how I feel?

"Jesus, Jesus,
Can I tell you how I feel?
You have given me Your Spirit.
I love you so."

These are the lyrics to a very simple song that I learned this weekend at my Emmaus Walk.  Those lyrics now give me chills every time I sing them.

Guess what scripture was in my devotion this morning?

Psalm 27:8
My heart has heard you say , “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

The purpose of this post is not really about my Emmaus experience. I’m honestly still processing it as I haven’t even been back a full day. I will say that the secrets and mysteries make sense. I guess you could say I drank the kool-aid. I was insanely annoyed with almost everyone in the Emmaus community before I left for my walk. It all makes sense now. It was a magical experience for me. I experienced God’s love like I have never experienced in my life. And what I felt was just a tiny portion of His love and quite frankly that is overwhelming. Like I’m still kind of freaked out about how much He loves me. I have a hard time accepting love and He revealed that to me this afternoon as I was thinking about a certain part of my walk. 

But the cool thing about this weekend….I was able to tell Jesus how I have been feeling.

Friends, I’m burned out. That’s how I’m feeling. Burned out, overcommitted, and not enjoying serving Him because I have my hands in too many baskets. I started looking through some of my older blog posts, starting about 4 years ago. I was eager to find out where He wanted me to serve and praying for new opportunities. I got so caught up in how good to felt to serve, that I didn’t question any new service opportunities.  Before I even realized what happened, I was hanging at the end of the rope and not sure what to do. I have so much going on that I barely have time for my family and close friends (who fit in the family category for me) or my own personal quiet time. That is not okay.

Here’s the thing. I love Jesus. I absolutely do. He is freaking awesome. He gives me hope. He gives me courage. He carries me. I love Him so much that I don’t want to let Him down. He’s done so much for me that I can’t ever do enough to repay Him. But you know what?  I don’t have to repay him. I can’t repay Him. I just have to accept His love and grace. I don’t have to serve Him to repay Him. I serve Him because I love others and I want them to see just a tiny glimpse of His love.  But I don’t have to do everything. I’m not called to do everything. So, I’m going to chill out a bit and start praying about the new opportunities that come along my path. It may not be my time.  One thing was loud and clear to me over the weekend. I need to free up more time so that I can spend more time in His word and then write about it.  I also need to be careful and evaluate if I am serving to please a person because I simply cannot say no, or if I am serving because God wants me to do so. I’m a people pleaser. I always have been. I gave that to Him this weekend. I’m excited to see how making these changes will impact my walk with Him.

I continued reading in Psalm 27 and I came upon one of my favorite verses.

Psalm 27:14
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Waiting patiently for Him is difficult. Really difficult. It actually can really suck. I pretty much hate waiting. The beauty of it is that He will give us patience. There are many things I’m waiting to understand right now.

Lamentations 3:24-26
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!
The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.
So it good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

Keep waiting and searching for Him. Be brave while you wait. He does not give us a spirit of fear. Keep telling Him how you feel. He will reveal Himself to you in some pretty incredible ways.

Peace out, homies. Let me know if I can pray for you. It would be an honor.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lent 2014

I've been prayerfully considering my Lenten journey for the past week or so. This year I have decided to give up yelling.

First of all, it is quite embarrassing to admit that I need to give up yelling. By stating it, I am admitting that I have a problem with yelling.

The problem goes much deeper than just yelling. Allow me to explain.

I haven't always been a a yeller. I'm willing to bet that many people don't realize that I yell as much as I do. It has definitely become worse in the past few years. For the most part, I'm a pretty laid back person. This thing. This really ugly thing has entered my life. A thing called stress. Now, don't get me wrong. There has always been stress in my life. My stressors have exponentially grown in the past several years. I generally yell because I feel stressed and out of control. Guess who gets the brunt of my yelling? My family- and probably 95% of that is at my children.

In order to give up yelling, I've had to really think about why I yell. Yelling is a reaction. It is a reaction that I have defaulted because of chaos. I don't handle chaos well. When my children do not obey me, I yell. When I do not feel like my family is listening to me, I yell at them. When too many little people are talking to me at the same time, I yell. When I'm stressed about bills, medical stuff,
or selling our house, or my crazily packed schedule with very little "me" time, I respond by yelling. When I am in sensory overload, I yell. I finally realized that it is likely all of this stress probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon. However, one thing can be changed and that is me. I can only be changed through God's grace.

I have always yelled a wee bit, but I feel that it has progressively gotten worse since homeschooling. I've been thinking about that quite a bit too. I have no doubt that God's plan is for us to homeschool our children right now and honestly for long term (it has taken me awhile to admit that). However, committing to homeschooling means that I am always with my children. Because they are with me mostly 24/7, they see the good, bad, and ugly. They see all of my character flaws. We are very exposed. In this current season of my life I am not able to have very much alone time. I am an introvert and thrive on alone time. As a working mom, I was in a cubicle all by myself. Even though I had co-workers and customers calling, I still had periods of silence. I would often eat lunch at my desk to be alone. I usually had 30-60 minutes in my car by myself as well. I also only had one child at the time and he played by himself quietly and incredibly well. (Please know that I am in no way say mom's who work outside the house have it easier. I am simply explaining how the solitude I got in my particular situation was beneficial to my personality. I realize that isn't the case with everyone working mom. This was just my situation.) While on maternity leave with a newborn Kadie and having three year old Harrison at home with me ever day, I began to lose a bit of this solitude. Kadie was a fussy baby and Harrison was an incredibly challenging three year old. However, we began to figure out a rhythm and things got better and easier. I found bits and peaces of solitude again. When Harrison started kindergarten, I also put Kadie in Mom's Day Out twice a week. I had about 8 hours of time to myself each week. I generally spent that time running errands or cleaning, but I didn't have any little people dictating conversation or being loud. Then Sam was born and things changed again. We ended up pulling Kadie out of Mom's Day Out due to a tighter budget, so I had two little ones with me all of the time again. Then we decided to homeschool. The entire year of 2012 was difficult. Summer of 2012 was a particularly difficult one, especially for our marriage -and then I went straight into homeschooling. It was basically one stressor after another. And I got into the habit of yelling as a reaction rather than taking time to respond. So here we are...this is the path that lead to my yelling.

So because I have decided to give up yelling, there are many layers to this goal which will continue to unfold. I will have to continue to identify triggers and be very aware. I will have to really seek God's peace and self control, when I would have normally reacted by yelling. I will have to allow myself time to respond in an appropriate manner and that may mean walking away from a situation to allow myself time to process a situation. It may mean I have to reduce stressors in my life. Side bar, but sort of related - we are currently studying the fruits of the Spirit in our morning Bible time. This ties in wonderfully with my goal of no yelling and is a wonderful for character building my children. Next week we start self-control. It is all tying in beautifully for no other reason than God's perfect timing.

I've tried to do this no yelling thing several times and I've honestly never been successful. I've never tried it for Lent. Here is why I think it is different this year.  I have a completely different mindset during Lent. I am more determined during the Lenten season. I also have been seeking joy this year and I feel like this is a huge piece of the puzzle. I want to be the old me. The me who didn't spaz out over ridiculous things. The happy little hippie that I truly am on the inside, but have let stress eat away at me. I anxious to see the transformed me in 6 weeks. I'm really excited about this, in case you can't tell!

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Love is in the Air

Chris and I have had the privilege or working with our high school students since this past August. We both absolutely love it. We have an amazing group of students and I love hearing their insight on life. We also had the privilege of going to our very first Resurrection as chaperones. For those of you who don’t know, Resurrection is a ministry that offers a weekend retreat for 6th-12th graders in Gatlinburg, TN. It is a good time for spiritual renewal for all parties involved.

The theme of our weekend was Love. The pastor, Andy Nixon, really encouraged us to love like Jesus. He shared great stories of love and hope. The band that led worship, The City Harmonic, was phenomenal. The music really bestowed upon us a mountaintop experience. The lyrics to all of the songs are so deeply entrenched with Scripture. The presence of God was very alive this past weekend and will most definitely remain a memorable and life changing experience for all of us.

The theme of love has really been impressed in my heart for the past year or so now. If you read my blog, you might remember me writing about it from time to time. I personally have felt the Holy Spirit convicting me to love on a deeper level for quite some time.

Well, fast forward to this Wednesday’s lesson with our high school group. We are studying the book of James. Tonight we focused on loving without favoritism. We dove into some Scripture that really explained what love is, how we do it, and why we do it. We challenged the group tonight to really pray about how they might be able to show love to someone they might not normally want to love.

One of my favorite passages of the Bible comes from Romans 12:9-10.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

I did a quick search and I found the phrase “love your neighbor” is mentioned 11 times in my translation of the Bible. (Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Matthew 5:43, Mark 12:31, Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27, James 2:8, Romans 13:8, and Romans 13:9)

I don’t know about you…but I’m going to deduce that it is a pretty BIG deal to love our neighbors.

Notice the Bible doesn’t say any of the following: Love your neighbor if they are rich. Love your neighbor if they think just like you. Love your neighbor if they drive a nice car. Love your neighbor if they are nice to you. Love your neighbor if they don’t get on your nerves. Love your neighbor if they live the exact same lifestyle as you. Love your neighbor if they love God.

It just says to love your neighbor. That’s it. No exclusions.

I don’t know about you, but that is pretty convicting. It is really easy to love the people who think just like me. It is really easy to love the people that I enjoy being around. It is easy to love the people who don’t challenge me. That kind of puts me in a really vulnerable position and I don’t always like to be vulnerable.

Romans 12:9-10 actually says not to pretend to love, but to love genuinely and to actually take delight in honoring each other. Seriously, I can’t pretend? I have to enjoy this love stuff? I have to take actual delight in it?

Wow, God. Just wow.

How is anyone to ever come to know the love of Jesus if we don’t mirror the heart of God in our actions?

That is powerful stuff people. This love stuff…it’s hard. Really hard. It isn’t easy. But we are commanded to do it. And by doing so, we are showing others just a small glimpse of the love Jesus has to offer.

I’m going to end on this challenge. We asked our high school students to actually show love to an unlovable (in their eyes) person this week. I’m going to ask you to do the same. I’m going to ask myself to do the same. I’m honestly not around tons of people as a stay at home mom, but I’m praying that God will put that person in my path and I will be able to show him or her a tiny glimpse of God’s love. It may be a co-worker, family member, fellow student, roommate, but we all have a person that we can love this week. I’m asking you to be bold. Do what you are called to do as a fellow believer and make a difference by putting yourself out there and loving. Let’s see what kind of difference we can make for the Kingdom of God. Maybe your act of love will be the example a person needs to know that the one true God loves him. This has the potential to be huge, if we all just take the time to show a little bit of God’s love and grace that He so generously pours onto us.

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