Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Pre" means "before" (not "during")

The Circumstance
I haven't journaled since Nov 13. That's over 2 weeks ago. Part of my reasoning for blogging was to have an added motivation to consistently be in the Word and journaling. The last two weeks, however, have be like floating on clouds. I haven't needed to 'cry out to the Lord' with my frustrations or doubt or self pity; I have been pleasantly enjoying life, family, friends, and daily tasks. Yesterday I even thought, "Why did I ever feel like I needed to go to Library story times or Women's Bible Study? It just takes away so much time I could be spending with Paxton. We have so much fun together why would I want to be anywhere else?". And for me, it's hard to sit myself down and read and journal when life is pleasant. Does that mean I haven't read my Bible in 2 weeks? Honestly, yes. I have glanced, but I certainly haven't been preparing for battle. Now here I am, sitting in the lobby during Bible Study reading the Bible and journaling. Why? Rough morning all around! I had to pass Paxton off to someone else before things got ugly. Its times like these that send me to the Word in desperation.

The Word
Eph 6:17-18
And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

The Application
A wise person prepares for battle before going into battle. Learning how to use the sword before needing to use it is how real warriors fight. Russel Crowe didn't just sit around on his break times and expect to be the top gladiator once he entered the ring. He trained. The high school jocks who sleep in on Saturdays don't get recruited to the best colleges; it's the guys to wake up early and train every morning, even in the off season, who do. This makes me think, "If I am consistent in the Word and pray always in the Spirit, being watchful for days like these, would I be able to handle these moments with more self control, emotional stability, grace, and love?". Yes, because it's all about me and how I choose to let the Holy Spirit work in me. (Note: these times wont be taken away, I'll just be more equipped to handle them). But it's not about me at all, it's about the Lord and what He wants. For me as a parent, it would be really hard if Paxton only came to me when things were awry. I love it when he runs to me and smothers me with sloppy kisses when he's happy or when he enjoys something and he wants to show me. If I then being human and limited in love feel like this, how much more will my Father in heaven desire to spend time with me and to share in my joy?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How to Live Happily Ever After

The Circumstance
Marriage is hard. We're going on 5 years and are having a good time, but marriage is hard. As things are changing in our life we are experiencing more conflict and more arguments and more stress than ever before. As an act of "preventative maintenance" we met with a Pastor-couple for marriage support. It's tough to see the whole picture when you're in the midst of the storm, so a wise and trusted outsider's view helped us put things into perspective and give us words for what we are feeling and experiencing. And most importantly, they were able to 'translate' what "female" was saying and what "male" was saying (since we all know we speak different languages).

The Word
Eph 6:10-13
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The Application
Marriage is a tool God uses to help us see what is "inside". When the heat is turned up the water boils and out comes the ugly. Things have been pretty simple in our marriage; I'd say the pot has just been 'warm', but as we go on we keep adding more to our life and each addition turns the heat up another notch: James in school, a baby, less income/more expenses, James' new position at work, my continued poor health and lack of sleep, etc. Through this, we get to see what's inside of ourselves by how we are reacting to the added stressors. These reactions include but are not limited to: anger, passive-aggression, passivity and checking out, bitterness, revenge. But by recognizing what is going on, we get to decide how to respond. We can either choose to fight each other about it, point and blame and get bitter, or we can join together in the fight and help each other as we deal with the roots that go deep that cause such ugliness to come out. We now realize that, yes, we do need to fight, but instead of fighting each other we need to fight the one who is doing the attacking. James and I are both too stubborn to let anyone or anything come between us so we choose to stand together and fight as one. This takes humbleness, brutal honesty, trust, intentionality, a team of people praying along side us, and the Holy Spirit guiding and protecting us.

We all know the saying, "S#!t happens". So why are we so surprised when it does? Let's be intentional in our marriage and not get caught off guard, so when the time comes we are able to fight, and having done all, to stand.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unanswered Prayers

The Word
1 Samuel 16
Samuel was sent by God to find the anointed king of Israel. How would he know who is was? God would tell him when he found him. For those of us who don't hear God speaking in full and detailed sentences, I interpret this to mean he would "just know". He went through each brother and knew it wasn't on of them. He couldn't say why, he just knew it wasn't. And when he was through with the oldest brothers he didn't go back through them and think, "maybe I missed it. Maybe I didn't hear God right. Was I paying attention?" he knew he didn't hear God say "this is the one" so he knew there must be more to the story. He didn't jump to conclusions and doubt that the Lord had told him to go anoint the son of Jesse to be king. Then when David came to him, Samuel knew; this is the one he came for.

The Circumstance and Application
I asked God to name our child. When I was pregnant, we went through book after book and never felt the Lord say "that's your child's name". Until I saw it. Even though we never saw it on an ultrasound, at that moment I knew that I knew that we were having a son and his name was Paxton. And sure enough, the baby was born a boy and he is definitely Paxton.

I pray the same thing about buying a house. We keep looking at houses, and some are great; we have even made a few offers because they felt like they could be "it". I know that God will provide us our house and it wont have to be too complicated. I keep looking back at other houses thinking, "maybe we missed it". "Maybe we didn't hear God." But, like Samuel, I need to not doubt. When it's time it's time, and and it's all about God's timing. Things don't happen in my timing, and when I try to make them happen in my timing it never works out the way I thought it would. God has bigger plans in mind. Sure, any of these houses will do, but the things He is teaching me through this home buying process cannot be rushed and could not have been learned if we would have bought the first house we saw.

In conclusion, as the wise Garth Brooks says: Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Tend to Only Like Roller Coasters When It's Over

The Circumstance
I haven't been on a roller coaster for years. Somewhere in my life I got old and now rides like that make me nauseated. But when I was young and immortal I chose to go on the very scary, very thrilling "upside down" roller coasters. I would be so scared I had to psych myself up just to stand in line because I dreaded the ride. When the ride started, I would hold on for dear life, clench my whole body, never lift my hands, and often times I was too scared to scream. BUT, when the ride was over? Whew! "LET'S DO IT AGAIN!!!" Why did I put myself through that unnecessary stress? Because I was too stubborn to let fear rule my life.

The Word
Psalm 61:2-4
From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah (Selah = Pause, rest)

Parenthood. 1989 Directed by Ron Howard
Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Adding this clip to my blog does not in anyway mean that condone or reject this film or its contents, but it does mean I like this clip and it's message.

The Application
Life is a roller coaster. Life does not stay steady and things happen that are not according to my plans. So, when these unplanned things happen, I typically hold on for dear life, clench my whole body, and never lift my hands and enjoy it (and I usually run through scenarios over and over, lose sleep, complain about it, and even blame others for the challenge). BUT, when the moment is over I have more passion and more energy and look back and say, "LET'S DO THAT AGAIN!"
I wish I could enjoy this roller coaster of life. I wish I could lift my hands with complete trust that I'll be taken along the track and arrive at the end in one piece. You'd think, with the Path already set before me, with a trustworthy Person personally Lighting the way, and the obvious fact that I am not qualified to decide how life should be, that I could just let go and enjoy the ride. My husband's choices, my child(ren)'s development and choices, buying a house, finances, health,.... the list goes on and on of things I could enjoy oh so much more if I relaxed my tight grip, lifted my hands to relinquish control to the One who is more responsible than I, and enjoyed the ride. If I am on a roller coaster I WILL go up and down and up and down. Why am I so surprised when this happens in life? I KNOW I will experience hardships. I should EXPECT them. My first reaction should be to duck and cover under the shadow of His wings.