A Truer Identity

The reality that I am currently living is a product of my insecurities.  I can choose to harness all the promises of God and live inside the confidence that He provides or, I can continue wallowing inside my own self-centered, self-pitying, and gloomy mindsets.  The choice really is mine.

They say perspective changes everything and really it couldn’t be truer.  Have you ever seen two photos of the same person moments apart, same pose and everything and they looked completely different?  I have.  When I was doing my “senior project” for high school I chose to pursue photography as it held multifaceted interest to me and this project would dominate the better part of my entire senior year in some capacity or another.  Well anyway it was demonstrated on a model, who stayed exactly where they were, the difference in lenses and perspective.  My instructor stood level and took a flattering photo of the model smiling ahead and it turned out very nicely.  Inversely she got up on a stool, used a wide angle lens, zoomed in closely to that model’s already slightly enlarged nose, and shot a photo that was, well we’ll go with, much less than flattering.

There are so many similes here if we just dare to apply them to our real world.  If we use a wide angle lens and focus in on a feature of a person, event, or circumstance we are left with a highly distorted, less than flattering image.  In the same way if I take the wrong lens to my insecurities and zoom in on the negative aspects of them I will end up with a very distorted image of myself.  My insecurities may be based on very real flaws or they may be based on imagination and lies that I have chosen to believe throughout my life.  None the less if I zoom in on the flaw, real or perceived, I will walk away with a disabling and amplified sense of fault instead of a level sense of self-worth.

I must choose to openly and honestly assess my situations as they filter into existence and choose Gods perspective to gain reality and a grounding in confidence.  He says I am His daughter.  He says I am loved, he says I am of value, He says I am capable, He says I can have courage!  My internal chatter isn’t quite so flattering and while I have a tendency to exhibit traits or actions that contradict those statements those actions do not have to define me.  I can step in to the arms of my loving father and put on the new robes he offers me as his daughter.  Robes of lavish adornment.  Robes reflecting the true character of the woman He created me to be. Robes that proclaim my worth and my victory in Him. But the choice remains in me. Where are you placing your focus?

Pursuit of the Pause

Knowing you need to do something yet avoiding it like the plague.  Why do I do this to myself?  It isn’t even like it’s something I don’t enjoy doing.  Honestly I love to partake in the particular object of my avoidance. So why?  Why do I procrastinate and self-sabotage when there is already an abundance of natural sabotage?

Maybe because it means something?  Maybe because I’m fighting both an external and internal force that doesn’t want me to complete or move forward in this particular area?  You see there is a force in this action.  In it I exercise power.  Power is not something to take lightly, it is something to be revered and cherished and not at all taken lightly.  In the hands of a lesser individual the weight of it can be crushing.  No less a weighted burden to bear but in the hands of one surrendered to the one true King it can be a beautifully glorious honor.

But truly, this is a burden we all bear.  Each in different shapes sizes and colors. Your responsibility does not look the same as mine yet the responsibility remains. Each and every season of this function looks different as well.  At the turn when I think I know what to expect and exactly how to handle the next blow the punches start coming from a different direction.

An ever evolving guerilla warfare of our minds.  The procrastination, the avoidance, the negative self-talk; all of them are primary tactics in this battle of the grey space.  And each time I pick myself up and stand on the soapbox of deliverance, some force of negativity plants a roundhouse kick on my jaw and I am knocked to my knees in a less than graceful manner.

About this time I realize I am forging forward of myself.  Of my own strength, of my own will, of my own desire, of my own ability.  NO! WRONG! I berate myself as I dust my knees off.  My eyes float to the sky, “where does my hope come from?” “My hope comes from the LORD” I declare over myself.

It is the easy thing to feign progress in my own ability.  The hard part, and ironically the easy part if I let it be, of this particular scenario is letting it go, raising my hands, yelling praise and thanks and giving it to my Loving Father.  Each time I picture him just waiting for me to reach the end of myself so I can see Him.  Each time I’d like to say I reach the end of myself faster and faster but it wouldn’t be true.  Sometimes each end is so long one would be led to believe I were a giant but no, my Giant is my LORD. And thankfully a giant of grace He is. Because with the lengths he allows me to see through before the return would drive any earthly father to distraction.  But not mine, not my Beautiful Heavenly Father.

So what does true surrender look like in scenarios where action is imperative? I’m still figuring this one out.  I do know it means lifting my eyes and hands.  I know it means looking to God rather than myself.  To first be reflective instead of reactive. It’s the action part in particular I struggle with.  I’m learning that each action should be prayerfully considered and obediently carried out.  But that requires first my pause. I think the greatest component in surrender is first to pause. So today I am committing to the power of pausing before pursuing.

Relief

Dull, slightly apathetic.  Muscles begin to tighten across the sternum and the shoulders begin an impossible ascent, closing the dead air nearly resting on lobes. Lips purse ever so slightly.  Summons typically met with a gentle demeanor and a nearly smiled “yes?” are replaced instead with an upturned eyebrow and a curt “hmm?”  Nominal and in consequential become gargantuan as to the weight of an elephant resting on both the chest and shoulders.

As a mist suddenly sweeps over the valley on a spring morning is the onset.  Filling each crevice and valley with weight and gloom.  Shadowing every corner obscuring views farther than the nose. Cumbersome and slowing everything in its path.  No apparent cause to onset, as quickly as the direction of winds change. Interruption after interruption of thought driving in deeper the fog and heavy mist. Raised shoulders shift down turned. Impossibility flows through the blood stream drawing limbs to the earth, removing muscle tone from the neck causing a deliberate slant of the head. Filled with an aching and a longing to melt into the dust of origin.

A gentle whisper rides in on the wind calling to the depths of the soul, tugging at ears pulling at the heart.  Distant sounds vaguely filled with freedom. A flowing brook of love washes in and trickles down into the core all at once the door bursts open and the melody dances in on rays of sunlight.  As quickly as it set in, it begins to roll out replaced with warm sunshine and an upturned face embracing the heat on closed eye lids. Steadying rise and fall of the chest, shoulders begin to inch back to the place they belong. At last a full breath can be felt to the depth of clear lungs and cheeks lighten pulling lip corners ever so slightly upward. A parched soul patched as petals and pollen flit through the air and wisps of hair are led to and fro dancing around the face of relief.

Wildflower

 

How terrible it must be to be trapped within the

confines of expectation.  How miserable ever

enclosing walls of presupposition.  Peering through a

keyhole of promising potential locked in a cage of

one’s own creation. The lock goes one way the

direction of choice lies within.  Inclinations to be

locked inside the claustrophobic confines of the mind.

Perhaps another choice exists.  Venture into a

previously unknown where the lock lives only on the

inside. Lock that particular door at your back never to

be revisited. Should new walls begin to draw into one

another, conceive to risk opening yet another door. 

Expertly scale the staircase of expectation, throw

open the window of refusal.  Dare to spread wings

and dive out into the great abyss in which dreams are

found and fears are buried. Allow the arms of the

infinite to embrace and usher into surrender.

Surrender to possibilities, surrender to freedom,

surrender to the joy within.  Expectation and

presupposition themselves are not the end- for a time

found not in the eyes of onlookers but built from the

depths of a wasteland within… Break free from that

Love, for when you jump, and ultimately soar,

only then can you see too that you are a wildflower.

Turn Your Eyes

I wouldn’t go so far as to say abandoned but having those in your life to whom you are most close disappear when you hit a point of needing them most is a very deep hurt indeed. And while this feels like a very deep betrayal, whether intended or not, I have come to the conclusion that it is yet again the work of the Lord in my life.

At any time of difficulty I can easily turn to a person, but by meticulously removing those closest to me when I would have myself believing that I needed them the most, he has enabled me to look to Him alone.

I cannot say that I am in a position of always accepting this graciously, no far from it. I can count the nights I have spent lamenting this harsh truth to God and only ended with red rimmed eyes, a splotchy completion, and yet another realization of the same truth. But bucking against His plans has gotten me nowhere.

At what point do I just accept the Lord as my best friend and fully open myself to the plans he has for me? “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NLT‬‬
And so go to Him I shall. It strikes me that I am advised to let Him teach me because He is humble and gentle hearted. Imagine that, just what those are the two qualities that would affect me the most. Here’s to maintaining and internalizing the lessons He brings to me. (And not having to learn them again and again) To punctuate the internal lesson with something that keeps presenting itself to me …
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus | Helen H. Lemmel

Lord that I may turn my eyes to you, be filled and satisfied by you. That my search would start and end with you, that I may look full into your wonderful face and the things of this world would grow dim in the light of your glory and grace. Lord and that all the meaning of your glory and grace would fill me to overflowing that I can touch others with that glory and grace as you have meant me to do.

Taking Every Thought Captive

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

This week has been a bit of a sampling of all my emotions served up on a sloppy appetizer sampler platter. You know, the kind that everyone looks at as it passes their table? The kind where everyone is wondering what exactly is on it because one side looks good but, oh my! What’s that other thing? It has felt like with every positive impact there is a negative blow. This shouldn’t surprise me because that’s how it usually works. If I play into it as the enemy desires I end up focusing solely on the things that have my emotions and attitudes looking similar to the dishes left over after dinner, smeared, dirty, and anything but appetizing. And this week I have certainly given the enemy more of my time in game than I ever desire to.

Emotional highs and lows are the tone of the hour. A dear friend recently posted a quote that said something to the effect of “speak more of your blessings than of your problems.” Now I have heard this, or something to the effect of this, said on many occasions but this time it was presented in a non-cliché manner, to a softened “prepared” heart and it hit me hard. All the things that I, we really, have been struggling with this week have come on the heels of something great. I say we because somehow this week has hit us as an entire family unit. Not in an overly dramatic, something terrible happened way, just that we have all been deeply affected by something, or more aptly some things that have occurred.  This got my mind wheels turning, slowly at first but eventually with a gradual Lord given rhythm that I couldn’t deny. All week I had been looking at my frustration. It is so easy to focus on that alone and allow myself to be drug down into the dirt of each irritation, but this post reminded me to look at something else. So today I began listing some of the positive ways I can see God moving in our lives.

My oldest got to experience firsthand the joy of getting up and giving it his all, along with how that pays off via small football victories. If you know my oldest this is pretty huge since he feels things to his core and each defeat shakes him with an intensity I can’t even begin to describe. I recognize it in him since it looks a lot like what I have experienced and still struggle to move past myself. This week he has begun taking his first steps in getting back up and moving forward in the difficult moments, and this is where it counts most right? My husband made the commitment to be baptized as a believer in Christ. We became members of our new found church family and now have a wonderful place to call home. My middle son has made HUGE progress with his reading, a source of serious anxiety for this over concerned mommy. He also had a huge victory with his own football experiences, learning that win or lose, he needs to praise God. He gave it all he had, even had a good game, but the game was none the less a loss. Through a loss and the disappointment that could have been he was still beaming ear to ear full of joy in having had the experience and knowing that he gave everything he had to give. I have had numerous small special bonding moments with my youngest and this is a special feat since he nearly never sits still. A particular victory since he is about to be ousted as the youngest and this one is going to feel that impact, I fear, deeper than any of my other children have.

Any one of these things is awesome and amazing yet I have had the pleasure of experiencing them all in a matter of days and have still somehow allowed simple mundane things to steal the joy of the week from me. Mix ups in football jerseys, slowness to get out the door, typical terrorist actions on behalf of the two year old, early mornings, unplanned interruptions, all out upsets in my personal plans, the baptism trough disappearing (and rendering a baptism this particular Sunday impossible), countless arguments ahem disagreements, and the list, though mostly inconsequential, goes on.

It makes me angry that I allow myself to become consumed by these negativities, but don’t think for a second I am missing out on the joy of realizing how God has allowed me to feel it out for myself and learn this particular lesson. Changes happen, that’s life. My plans will never stop evolving, after all Proverbs 16:9 says, the mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. I can make list upon list but in the end I resolve to praise God when those plans change. I resolve to embrace them as God directing my steps rather than viewing them as an inconvenient change in direction. I resolve to go to God first and foremost and be wise to the enemy’s tactics. I praise God that my plans have been upset and have allowed the space necessary for Gods plans to step in, even when I can’t see exactly what he is doing through them. I mean that is in essence what living out your faith is right? I think most importantly here, I submit myself and my life to Him for the preparations that he sees fit.

Thank you Lord for staying by my side even when my attitude stinks. Thank you for answered prayers and especially for helping me again to find the joy in the everyday moments of life. Help me to not lose perspective on that joy, and live my life through Your joy. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Country Air and Chickens

We came out to the good ol’ country to farm sit for my parents while they take my two oldest and visit my brother and his family out of state. Sounded like a sweet deal, I love this place! It’s where I come to unwind. It’s where the simpler things in life prove to also be the finer things in life and things get a whole lot easier to figure out. Something about fresh country air, extreme traffic reduction and a spotty internet connection at best, to take your mind out of the city, whether willingly or not. It’s a small farm a few goats, a lot of chickens, more than a handful of rabbits, a few dogs and enough garden beds to yield seasonal fresh produce for a couple. With high hopes and expectations my two year old and I embarked on this journey to relaxation, connection, and hopefully a few days packed full of writing time.

bandera sunset            better bandera sunset

Sam, you see, is a chatter box but, there doesn’t tend to be a whole lot of dialogue with him. My kind of companion when I want to unwind. Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk, love a good conversation. I’ll chat it up with the best of em when I’m comfortable and there is something worthy of chatting on however, all that chatting can drown out your inner quiet and sometimes I really need to get in touch with that inner quiet. That’s what helps me keep sane in a world filled with boys, football, and constant house messes.

We waved good bye to the boys and the grand parents in an uncharacteristically painless goodbye for Sam. He adores his “bubbas” so I was prepared for a much more emotional goodbye. But no. “Bye bubba”, he cheerily chimed in as they rolled down the drive way beginning the first leg of their journey. “Wow, this is gonna be great” I thought to myself. Until I put the cheery child down. Immediately he runs, to where I don’t know but he’s running with all his might and this booger is fast. So fast I often question God’s humor when attempting to chase him while being six months pregnant. Who am I fooling, I question His humor trying to chase Sam in any shape and not being pregnant at all.

Sam, oh so adorable full of joy Sam, loves the animals. Miss Belle, the momma goat, loves him too. She isn’t the friendly type but she loves this little boy. Kisses him as he enters her pen and all. He eats it up as much as his attention span can handle then he’s off to chase the turkeys while I complete the daily chores to include milking the goat. He’s great while trapped in the goat pen.

Country air and chickens Country air and chickens

Thank God he hasn’t yet figured out how to maneuver the latch open. But on we go to feed the chickens, goats, rabbits, and gardens. This is where it gets crazy, in and out of the chicken pen, of course letting chickens out while I try to get a handle on their water. With a sigh I embark on chasing after the chickens now as well as my terror of a two year old with a two second attention span. He carried in a bucket of scratch with the task of spreading it around the chicken yard for them to enjoy all day but that was quickly abandoned in favor of “Meow” otherwise known as Mouthy, a name which she comes by honestly. Chicken gate wide open he runs for the back door to get Meow’s food because I am apparently not getting to her fast enough. That or he just remembered her himself, what with her incessant calling and less than subtle demands for food. Anyway, gate and doors wide open he emerges with a can full of food to divvy out into her bowl, again leaving the door wide open. I eye him as I put the lid on the water container for the chickens and glance upward with a quickly mumbled request that only the one chicken escapes until I can get to the gate and prevent the whole flock from getting out.

IMG_3547 Country air and chickens

Watering task finished I race to the gate thankfully preventing anymore from escaping. Figuring the best tactic is to coax the chicken back into her pen by means of her avoiding me I come around the left while Sam catches on way too quickly and comes around the right giggling excitedly and eyeing the chicken with ornery intent in his eyes. “Bock bock?” he looks happily at me while pointing to the poor hen. Trapped, the chicken darts away from the pen and toward the house with the open door. “Shoot!” I had forgotten that he left the door open. I run for the door barely acknowledging the possibility that the cat had gotten in, I had bigger concerns at the moment. Door safely closed I head back at the chicken and seeing me come toward her she darts again toward Sam, and faced with a pickle yet again changes directions. Getting the idea I abandon the chase for chicken in favor of the chase for the child. Finally catching up with him I swoop him up and begin the attempt at herding the chicken yet again, only this time without the “help”.   Shwew I wipe my brow which has already begun to drip sweat by eight am. Not because it’s hot, or because I set out to get a workout. I should have because as previously mentioned my shape would dictate that I should, alas this is not the case. Mouthy emerges from under the deck into a decidedly calmer yard now that the chicken is trapped and I again wipe my brow but this time in relief that I won’t have to chase the cat from the in into the out.

“Ok” I think to myself as Sam wiggles out of my grasp and plants his feet on the ground…well they were planted for about half a second before he had decided on some other mischief to get into. Sometimes watching those wheels turn and his feet spin reminds me of a ping pong ball set loose by a breeze in a rat maze. “I haven’t had coffee yet and we both need to eat, should I head in for breakfast or water while it’s still cool?” I asked myself. Being that Sam was running at warp speed for the front gardens I made a quick decision to water. “Yeah, this is ok” I thought “he can play with the dogs while I water, we can do this, this one will be simple”

Ever heard the saying; “Famous last words”? yeeeeaaahhhh.

Ok so maybe that is a bit dramatic but I set out to water taking it a garden bed at a time while Sam set out to rediscover the GIANT “pet” spider affectionately named Charlotte who resides in the key hole of one of the gardens but, owns the front yard. I am much like my mother you see, I do not like spiders, however mom, being a teacher, couldn’t pass on the teachable moment for her grandchildren when they discovered the much smaller yet still large spider a few months back. The grandkids took initiative to catch grass hoppers and throw them into Charlotte’s web then sat back and watched while she wrapped the bugs in her web. See this next part, this is why spiders are bad. With extreme interest and curiosity those boys sat back on their heels and watched her suck the blood out of the insect, watched the ball of web shrink, and the spiders abdomen grow to engorgement with each bug they fed her. You’d think this would be an exaggeration but, I regretfully advise you it is not. After first researching that it is in fact a garden spider and not poisonous mom decided it could stay until it decided to move on. With great misfortune we are faced with the fact that Charlotte has not decided to move on, she has decided this place which fulfills her every desire for a mostly effortless life is the perfect place for her so she has built and rebuilt her web and grown, and grown, and grown. I have deduced that the only reason she is allowed to further reside in her habitat of total comfort is that she has grown much too large for mom to even consider moving let alone killing, that would be like stepping on a mouse or a rat at this point and come on, that’s nasty. We’re talking giving the spider some space is the lesser of two evils here. Have I mentioned that I do not like spiders? When I have to water this bed I give her a healthy five foot minimum girth. Anyway, as I contentedly relax and water the okra at the end of the yard I hear Sam’s cute voice, “Ewww? Eeeeeewwwww? Mommy, ewwww?” I look up and see Sam about a foot away from the spider and inching closer with his index finger stretched out toward Charlotte. “NOOOO!” I yell as I simultaneously drop the hose and run for him.

Country air and chickensYou know what this means right? I have to get close enough to this giant spider to grab the kid and keep running hopefully not touching any web or spider in the process because, “eeeeewwwww!” It’s a terrifying thought but around here spiders tend to jump, not all but, some, and I haven’t learned if it’s only a specific kind or if all are capable but, the ones that do are lightning fast and they really do jump. So every time I see a spider I have this little nugget of information in the back of my terrified mind, again with the questions of God’s humor.

I have no idea how I made it to Sam as quickly as I did but, thank God because seeing the terror in my eyes this kid smirked and took yet another step forward, but his plans were thwarted as I scooped him safely out of danger, and backed away from that evil creature with the kind of speed I had previously been of the impression only red bull can administer. “I can’t breathe. I gotta get this kid to bed. It has to be at least eleven o’clock by now right?” I reasoned with myself. Dragging him around to water with me, devising plans to keep him with me, I allowed him to water for me…or maybe he thought I said to water me whatever the case, he stayed away from the spider for the duration of the watering process.

With a sigh of relief we climbed the stairs up the deck on a new mission to get some breakfast, or was it lunch by now, and hopefully get this kid down for a nap. He of course ran the entire length of the stairs making my heart skip a beat with every step because every time I saw his little foot fly up to the next step, I was sure he would trip, or miss the step entirely, and come tumbling all the way back down. I even saw it happening in my mind however, somehow his little feet carried him all the way up no tripping in sight. So he continues running, bursting through the door with wide eyes looking for his next adventure. I stumble in behind him thankful that chores are done for now and glance up at the clock. My jaw hits the floor, “Nine am!?!? That’s all?!” I set out making some coffee and getting this kid set up with some food when the ever present pressure on my bladder can no longer be ignored, I must pee. “I’ll be quick. He won’t even notice I’m gone.” I reason. As I make my way down the hall I say, “Just a second baby, I’ll get you some breakfast in a minute ok?” He responds with a, “Huuuhh?” I shrug my shoulders and continue on my way while he plays with his “pew pew”, otherwise known as a foam dart gun, in the kitchen. It’s not ten seconds later I hear a huge crash followed by crying, not hurt crying but offended scared crying. “No, no, no what could he have possibly gotten into now?” I yell down the hall “Sam? You ok baby?” I’m greeted thankfully with a whimpered “yeeeeaah”. What seems like an eternity later I run down the hall, struggling to get my shorts over my ever widening derriere, and come upon a scene that makes me just want to melt into the floor. This sweet angelic child of mine had climbed up the case of water to get to the box of fruit loops on top of the microwave and somehow in the process brought the microwave, and the numerous items housed on top of it, crashing down. Bags of seeds, packets of sweetener, boxes of Cheerios, Fruit Loops, granola, bread, hot sauce packets and the microwave itself all lay strewn about the kitchen floor. With no other option I begin to pick things up, with his “help” of course. I hand him a container to put the spilled Cheerios in and begin gathering the sweetener packets and seeds. About half way through Sam abandons his post in what I assume is the need to pee as well. The assumption isn’t entirely an unintelligible thought since he runs off yanking on his built in pull toy, as he is often known to do. Nope. He meanders into the living room this time holding the box for the game Sorry. “Oh man come on, can a momma get a break please?” I grumble and am yet again met with an innocent “huuuh?” He’s either spent or doing everything he can to test my speed and agility, I suspect this because when he refuses to stay still for a more than a few seconds at a time it is usually in an attempt to stay awake. I cannot put him to bed this early that always makes for a terrible mood. How in the world do I get him to stay in one place while I clean this mess? Enlightenment strikes. Duh! I pour a bowl of the desired Fruit Loops and milk and let him have at it.

I’m about finished cleaning up the mess as he finishes his cereal, thank God the Fruit Loop granted peace has lasted this long. “Ok Sam, go pick up the game” The wheels begin to turn behind his contemplative eyes and he darts the opposite direction out the back door grabbing a basket on the way out with a mission to gather the eggs. My sighs are occurring in quicker succession with increased intensity. The mess is mostly cleaned up as I abandon my post and run out the door to make sure he doesn’t go smashing eggs. Out the back door I go after him catching the gate just as a chicken squeezes out again. Again I sigh. “Later” I mumble and move forward. Finally he stops and waits for me…I’ll keep telling myself that he was waiting for me and not that he cannot open the nesting boxes without my help, which I later made the deafening discovery that he in fact can, as he scared me and that poor unsuspecting hen half to death with the slamming of the door. I open the box and he squeals with excitement as he sees three eggs in one box and in a surprisingly gentle fashion gathers them and places them safely in his basket. I allow my shoulders to drop for a second as I move on to open the next box and sigh again only this time it is with a bit of relief. That is until he begins running and bumping the egg basket with his legs on his way to the other chicken house and nesting box. “Sam! You have to be gentle!” He slows down and reaches the next box, followed by the same scene as before playing out on the way back to the house.

Once back in the house it would be far too simple for him to hand me the basket and allow me to place the eggs where they belong, so he takes one egg out at a time and hands them to me to place on the counter, done! I move on to finish picking up the sauce packets and cereal. Again done! “Finally I’m getting somewhere” I think as I turn around just in time to see him wring his hands around an egg that he has silently and gingerly plucked off the counter. Tears nearly burst forth as I see the egg white and yolk drip down his hands and splat onto the floor. I hand him a napkin and plead with him to clean it up, he does. Ok, I still need to eat, I open the fridge and opt for…eggs. Turn around to grab a pan and yet again he’s out the back door chasing, what is that? And realization dawns as I remember the chicken that got out of the pen. I press pause on my breakfast yet again and head out back to catch the chicken. This time I’m learning and I first scoop Sam up then chase the chicken. I don’t know how much more of this I can handle I think as I once again pen the chicken and naively set the child’s feet on the ground.

All at once he’s gone again, off to see the rabbits I soon discover. And a good thing because they’re probably hungry too! It’s not that I forgot about them, ok well, maybe a little, but this time thank God for Sam’s never ending curiosity. Sam seems to have mellowed out a bit as he converses with the rabbits so I walk around noting who needs a refill on their water and opening their food bins to replenish them. As I walk around the cages I take the water bottles out, take the lids off, and place them on top of the cages to be filled as I make my rounds with the hose. IMG_3544 This is going pretty smooth, Sam is entranced by the small spheres on the ground under the cages. Admittedly not the first thing a mother wants her child’s attention to be drawn to, but his attention is calmly consumed so I am not looking that gift horse in the mouth. Food filled, water bottles filled, I just need to replace the lids and bottles. That’s when I notice Sam merrily following behind me chatting up the bunnies and pouring the previously filled water bottles into their water bowls. Sigh, ok we start again with the water, this time I cap and replace them on the spot. Sometimes assembly lines make more sense, other times, like in the presence of a two year old it’s best to finish it all at once when at all possible. IMG_3542Thanks to Sam the rabbits are now happy so back inside we head after some gentle coaxing and bribery via sweet treat. I glance up again at the clock and am pleasantly surprised to see that somehow time has begun to move finally and it is nearly eleven o’clock. Ok I think, fill his cup, fill a plate with whatever I think he will eat, plant him in front of some cartoons, we’ll both eat and finally we can both nap…we both need one today. Oh my how I need a nap today! I get him settled in for lunch and miraculously he sits still and eats, zoning out to Curious George, his favorite show.

I know I need to eat, with the morning that we just had I’m too exhausted to make something for myself but, the little one nestled compactly in my expanding belly is making it known that he has been deprived in all of this even more than the bunnies. My hand drifts to the curve of my belly and I begin to slap together a ham sandwich and plop on the couch next to Sam. I realize as he zones into Curious George and I zone out of reality and into my thoughts that I haven’t had time to write let alone think. “Hmmm something about that country air to clear the mind” I smirk to myself. Before I know it he’s leaning on me and asleep. Somehow I muster the energy to carry him to his bed before carrying myself to my own bed. I rest my head on the pillow and begin to reflect a bit, all the while knowing that how I spend these precious few moments of him sleeping is all I will get accomplished this day…I drift off peacefully knowing to savor it, and right now sleep is the best way to do just that, because when his feet hit the floor in an hour or so, we will start all of this all over again.

Country air and chickens Country air and chickens Country air and chickens

To Know You More

Psalm 119:57 NLT Lord, you are mine! … Psalm 119:57 NKJV You are my portion, O Lord…

Wow, you are mine! It is exclaimed. It isn’t simply stated in a dull “Bueller” monotone but it is spoken with excitement! That I can be in a position to claim MY Lord like that is amazing. And why not? “for God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son…” John 3:16 He loved us so much that he gave himself to us so why not claim him as ours?! This shakes me to the very core of my being. I know I am His, I am his daughter and he knows me better than I can ever imagine or even hope to know myself but this is more than that. He has provided himself for me, given himself to me. He is my portion, He is my satisfaction. Only He can satisfy in the way that my soul craves and I am given the opportunity to commune with Him, to know Him through the gift of His words. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – God is the word and we have the opportunity to know Him deeper than we can even imagine. All we have to do is open our bible and partake of the relationship that He offers. He is mine! And I am His! As much as He knows me I can also know Him! Did you catch that?  He knit me together in my mothers womb and holds my tears in a jar and I have the opportunity to know him in a similar intimate way. Wow, just wow! To know You more- it is within my grasp- not an unattainable far off objective but an everyday possibility, no an everyday reality should I choose to make it so. Thank you doesn’t even begin to express the gratitude this is deserving of. I suppose that’s why it is also followed with a promise to obey His words.  Obedience is after all the ultimate display of gratitude.

Joy comes in the Morning, or does it?

Choosing the joy when joy is not in the here and now. It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. I tell my children all the time to change their attitudes. I expect it to be changed the second the words roll off my tongue. Rarely do they actually have that rapid turnabout in attitude but they begin to become aware of their attitude and how it is effecting their current circumstances. Applying this principle to myself is a bit of a reality check. One negative thought, one negative action, one negative event and it all seems to go downhill from there. Since joy is a choice it should be easy to remind myself that I do in fact have the joy of the Lord as my strength. With that remembrance I should then be able to easily turn my attitude around but when the poison of negativity is present in your attitude somehow those words seem to deflect rapidly. The childhood phrase “I’m rubber, you’re glue” comes to mind. And a brief smile graces my lips. Ok that was a bit generous. Maybe a smirk runs from one side of my face to the other. Yeah that’s probably more accurate. Ok already seeing a bit of humor helps the attitude situation.

So I’m forcing myself to take a step back and look at my situation objectively. Is there a tragedy? Is someone hurt? Is someone’s health in question? Has something truly bad happened? No, ok so what then has me so flustered? In honesty, simple circumstantial occurrences that I have allowed to get under my skin and poison my attitude. That’s not the greatest reflection of self-control right there is it?

What else do I know? I know that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I do know that Jesus has already given me peace. These two things go hand in hand. Where there is joy there is peace and visa verse. Ok, time to do some new age type centering, deep breathing, and tap into my inner peace. There, now that’s better. I drop my shoulders and let the tension escape just a bit. Today just as any other day, I need to choose peace. Nothing deeply troubling has happened, simply the daily frustrations of being a wife, mother, and attempting to impart a bit of knowledge and hopefully wisdom upon my children going a bit wrong. How much easier should it be to then hold onto my peace since these are expected every day obstacles?
Have you ever felt that amazing feeling when everything seems to be going wrong around you, your world seems to have been shaken to its core and yet you know that because of your amazing Lord and savior, because your loving daddy, everything is going to be ok? I have felt that feeling, and nothing comes close to the peace that you feel in the middle of troubled and shaken times, so why does it seem to be so difficult for me to hold onto this peace during the everyday frustrations? I don’t have that answer but I do know how I plan to change it.

I am challenging myself to retreat to the recesses of my mind where I remember the kind of peace and joy my Daddy bestowed upon me during those very trying times and wrap that blanket of comfort around the difficulties I face today, no matter how truly trivial.

My kids are being super frustrating but they are truly a gift and I praise God for that gift every day. I have the peace of being able to share this day with them and I need to hold onto that. I choose to refocus my mind on the positives and the blessings that I do have rather than focusing on those frustrations. Breathe re-center my mind focus on that for which I am thankful and move forward with my day with those things in mind. My munchkins will undoubtedly continue to frustrate me but I don’t have to allow that frustration to steal my joy. I have joy and my joy is found in the Lord and in a world where everything is fleeting and temporary, my Father is one thing that is not. Thank you Father for this truth.

Tainted Love

I have been confronted a lot lately with the force of love. Jesus told us the greatest commandment in the law was to love God first with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22: 38&39). I have always thought that statement a bit peculiar because I know many people who don’t “love themselves”. I have known many people who practice self-depreciating acts on a regular basis, maybe even we all do in some form or another. How many self-help books are there that tell us to love ourselves and how to do just that? I think the answer to this idea that has perplexed me a bit is found in Ephesians 5:29 wrapped up in the instruction and image of what a godly marriage is to look like. Amid the advisement for a man to love his wife just as Christ loved the church, husbands are also commanded to love their wives as they love their own body “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” We may hate our intention, hate our actions, hate our physical appearance etc, but we do in fact love ourselves. Even when we are telling ourselves that we hate ourselves we put ourselves at the forefront of our personal microscope. We are making ourselves a priority enough to have thoughts about ourselves first, and over others around us. We make ourselves the priority rather than our brother. We make ourselves feel better through drugs, alcohol, food whatever appeases and fills that void to make ourselves feel better. Through all that we are putting ourselves first and taking care of our feelings and desires, making ourselves a priority. Ephesians points out that we take care of ourselves (even when we are inflicting inherent harm on ourselves it is for the purpose of making ourselves feel better) and I think that is where the point lies. Jesus is calling us to love others, to have that kind of drive and priority for others above ourselves. Jesus’ ministry was that of a sacrificial love. He definitely put the needs of mankind above his temporal needs. I mean after all he laid down his life in the ultimate sacrifice for us so how could it be seen as anything else? Ok anyway so sidetracking aside, we are confronted with the command to love. I fear that this command is often so vastly taken out of proportion so as to distorts the true intention of the command.

Jesus calls us to love that we may be a light. He calls us to be a true reflection of him so that others will be drawn to us and we can reveal the source of our light found in Christ. He calls us to go and make disciples. No one wants to be around an angry hateful person. He calls us to love, to sacrifice, to put others first even when it hurts and defies logic. Now here is where the distortions begin to enter. Let me be clear, we can never, will never, should never want to do this in and of ourselves. God is the only source of power that can and will enable us to do these things. It is only through his divinely powerful love that we are equipped with light. Both dividing light and attracting light. In our supremely self-seeking and self-exalting, selfish hearts we ultimately want to be the source of this light and love. We beat ourselves into submission so to say, we risk the title of martyr in an attempt to fulfill Christ’s command. That fully defies the purpose. We are not capable. Can I just say that again? We will never be able to do that which Christ calls us to do inside ourselves. Never. He brings light to our sins to show us our need for Him. We accept his offering of salvation because we realize we need Him. All too often we then pick up the gauntlet and forget that it is only through Christ that we are saved and move ahead at full steam trying to run this race with our own power and vigor and then are shocked when we fall flat and are faced with the reality that we cannot do it. We must be relying on Him to love because without His love through us, it is a force of will and something that we have “achieved” and becomes yet another source of pride and an opportunity for us to judge others and esteem ourselves higher when others fall short. 1 Corinthians 13 is the map for perfect love. It is a wonderful comparison point, a beautiful picture, innocent, pure, and perfect.

I am human, I live with humans, we are all wrapped up in this beautiful imperfect humanly package. In short, that means we all drive each other crazy sometimes. Have you ever lived with someone? Even when faced with close proximity only for a short time it becomes glaringly obvious that the other person is flawed (heh, this is of course assuming you didn’t already know that). At first we may try to ignore it, try to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, maybe even claim ignorance on their part regarding the things that begin to get under our skin. Maybe they really do have no idea what they are doing to wedge themselves so firmly there but they are none the less flawed and present beneath the very large covering of our epidermis. Ignoring these flaws and faults might be possible, not seeing them altogether though, impossible. Let’s go there again, it is only through the power of Christ that we are able to love to even a fraction of the perfection set forth in Christ example for us. The passage in 1 Corinthians 13 is a picture of Christ’s perfect love for us. Only He can love to that level, with that standard. We can love through his power, but even in our greatest attempts, with the best intentions, our love falls short of the standard of love that He sets forth. It struck me as I was reviewing this passage “and now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” We have probably all heard these words, they are almost cliché at this point. All the wall plaques, Christian and non-Christian alike, “faith, hope, love” they hang beautifully on our walls, propped delicately in a place of prominence on our shelves, ideally etched in the crevices of our hearts. So have you ever really thought about what that passage means? We have faith, we have hope, and we have love, but the greatest of these is love. We must have faith to believe; without faith there would be no salvation. We must have hope in what is to come; without hope there is no salvation. We must have love, love to give but more importantly love to have first received. Without love, that ultimate love which was given to us, there is no salvation. We love because Christ first loved us 1 John 4:19. The only reason we have any love to give is because we were given love. The ultimate form of love was bestowed upon our undeserving souls. The idea of love today in this society is more warm and touchy feely than the reality of what Christ says love is. Love is sacrificial, setting someone else’s needs first. Not just ignoring but not even seeing faults, suffering long, not boasting and the list goes on. Without Christ first loving us and displaying these things to us we have no hope of displaying them for others. We have to love through Christ rather than attempting to love through ourselves. It’s not “grit our teeth and bear it”, rather “Christ love them through me” presenting ourselves as an offering to Christ kind of how he did for us. Submitting ourselves and surrendering to his awesome power. “God I have no idea how to love this person, I don’t know what they need or how to give it to them but you put me in their path so please use me to love them, to show them YOUR love in a way only you can” it doesn’t mean forcing myself to suffer, or forcing myself to anything except to submit myself to Christ and His authority. Only with His ultimate authority can we love the way he instructs us, the way we all need love. And that love is not anything like what the world has to offer. It is also only though His love that we are able to be refilled, refreshed and equipped to go back out and love as he has commanded. No other source will fill us the way our souls crave, not in a lasting way.

It strikes me how often we become hateful in our demand for love. That is what seems to happen when we are seeking love from each other rather than seeking the lasting love that only Christ can, and has already provided. Thank God that his perfect love never fails even when I do. Thank God he calls me to reflect Him but not to be him. Thank God that he understands I can never be perfect in this world, even when the world doesn’t understand and demands of me the kind of perfect love only He can bestow. Thank God I have been given a place of sanctuary in Him.  I pray that God touches our hearts with the reminder that only He is enough to fill our hearts and souls, and equips us to accurately reflect His love first and foremost.