Archive | March 2012

Expect Opposition and Miracles

Sounds contradictory a bit, opposition and miracles.  Our sermon this morning was AMAZING and God was definitely working on me through our pastor’s words.  We’re in the middle of a series called Paradox and today’s paradox was “If you try to keep your life, you’ll lose it.  But if you give your life to God, you’ll find it.”  The overall message was that obeying God’s agenda rather than my agenda brings the good life, the great life, the best life.

Several things stood out to me.  First, “obedience usually triggers opposition”.  If you’re not ready to face opposition for your obedience, then you’re not ready to be used by God.  Ouch.  The enemy is trying to stop whatever God is trying to start in your life.  And I should worry when I’m not experiencing opposition because that maybe means that I’m not that much of a threat to the enemy.  Double ouch.

There is an area in my life in which God is asking for my obedience.  I’m experiencing the opposition that comes from doubt and fear. I’ve not fully thrown my heart over the bar in this area. Instead, I’ve been protecting my heart a little bit.  Not in a healthy way, but in a defense-mechanism way.  God showed me that this morning.  I really need to be on the offensive in the battlefield of my mind and heart.  My fear of failure rears its ugly head far too often.  I was reminded that when fear of failure is front and center for me, it means that I am way too focused on myself.

Second, “when you obey God’s agenda, it often releases God’s miracles”.  The Scripture we were working from this morning was the story in Acts where the apostles were thrown into jail for preaching in Jesus’ name.  An angel of the Lord came and opened the door to the jail and told them to go back out and do the same thing for which they had just been arrested.  Opposition and miracles.

Third, “obedience to God’s agenda always requires faith”.  Often when God asks for our obedience, we want to see not just the next step or 2, but steps 4, 5, and 6 down the road.  Like, “give me the details.”  And God replies, “if you saw too far ahead to what I have planned, you couldn’t handle the details!  Just take me at my word.”  In Psalm 119:105 it says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet.”  A lamp only illuminates the path immediately ahead, it’s not a floodlight.

Finally, “the more that you obey God, the more you begin to recognize his voice.”  I’ve found this to be so true.  I’m quicker to respond with obedience the longer I’ve walked with him.  I don’t want to miss out on God’s best for my life by delaying obedience (which is really disobedience).  I will choose faith over fear, no matter how often I have to consciously do so.  Even when opposition comes.  I will expect miracles.  Stay tuned!

With Eternity in Mind

The only thing that keeps me sane (this is a relative term, as anyone who spends time with me can attest) is knowing that the things that seem really, really important and urgent are not as big a deal when I look at them in light of eternity.  Let me elaborate.

I’m not what you’d really call laid-back.  I’m laughing because that is a classic understatement!  I’m an achiever, a make-it-happen kind of girl.  I am a master, truly a master, of getting all tied up in knots over achieving a goal, moving ahead, getting the job done.  This is a confession, not bragging rights.

A couple days ago I had a conversation with a new friend who expressed to me that when she’s around me she feels a sense of calm and peace.  That I really bring that to her life and it’s impacted her.  That is ALL Jesus!  I’m so thankful that he is transforming me!  How exciting that someone sees something in me that is not my natural self, but my in-the-process-of-being-transformed-into-his-likeness self.

I think one of the biggest things I’m learning is to remember who Jesus says I am.  My identity is settled.  It’s not up for grabs, based on the scoreboard or what others think of me.  Nor even what I think of myself.  My value is not in question.  Now that’s something to holler about.  (Have I lived in the Midwest too long?  I’m pretty sure I didn’t really use the word “holler” when I lived in California.)

I truly believe that God honors excellence, that he values hard work, and that he is pleased when we do our best.  He is not honored when we work from fear.  Get out from under the burden that everything is up to you!  Surrender your day to him.  Right now.  Like really right now.  Did you do it?  Okay, now you can move forward with the assurance that nothing is too big for you to handle because God’s got it covered.  Listen to him, every minute.  Ask for wisdom and vision.  Live on the edge of your abilities, knowing that he’s going to take you higher and it’s not all up to you!

Life is short.  I know it’s cliched, but we can all use a good reminder from time-to-time.  Or, in my case, every day.  Will what you choose today matter in eternity?  I certainly hope so.

Live the Life

After my brutally honest post about parenting last week, I thought  follow up post was in order.  Ironically, the day that I wrote that (early in the morning before the small people were awake) ended up being one of the best days we’d had in a while.  They were helpful, played together nicely, got ready for school on time.  That right there was a gift directly from Jesus.  Important side note (I just feel compelled to share this with my readers): I often, as in most of the time, refer to my children as javelinas.  A javelina is a small hoofed mammal from South America that looks like this:

Doesn’t that remind you of your children?  Okay, so maybe not.  In reality, I just like the word and so I use it as much as possible.

One of my friends who has 7 children, yes I said 7, has an amazing business called Inspiring Moms which provides “professional development for the job of parenthood”.  Find it here.  The thing that I’ve heard her say over and over is “live the life you want your kids to live”.   This includes being intentional about building a strong marriage, taking care of yourself, and modeling what it looks like to love your life and be grateful

Gifts

My convo with my dad last night went something like this.

Me: I don’t think I’m really cut out for this parenting thing.  It’s not fun and it’s hard and I’m tired of it.  I really don’t have any of the talents you need to be a good parent.  My children are whiny, argumentative, and I really don’t want to be around them right now.

Dad: Did you know that your mother wanted to give you back when you were a few months old?

Me: What???

(continued conversation about how I didn’t sleep and she was exhausted and decided that motherhood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.)

Dad: (this is where it gets really good and I will be unable to remember accurately enough to do it justice, but I’m going to try) Parenting is one of (pause.  I jump in:  …the most horrible things ever???  Yeah, I was in a great frame of mind!)… the best tools that God uses to transform us.  That, and marriage.

Me: Well, marriage is a lot more fun.

Dad: (laughing) Yes, parenting 2 children with self-centered wills is not always fun.  And that’s the thing.  They are individuals with the ability to make decisions and it is your job to shape that, to shape them into the likeness of Christ.  That doesn’t come easily, but God has tasked you, as their mom, with that responsibility.  Bad parents see their children as an annoyance and are apathetic.  The fact that you’re frustrated means that you are wrestling with the process.  Parenting is exhausting, frustrating, and overwhelming– that goes with the territory– but don’t equate that with being a bad parent.

Good parents see their children, not as an annoyance, but as gifts.  Gifts are different from presents.  Presents are fun things to enjoy, but they don’t change you.  Gifts create something in you.  Think about the gifts of the Spirit that God gives us.  They are to transform us.  Same with kids.  God didn’t give you your children because you are worthy.  He gave them to you because he trusts you with them.

Me: I shared a prayer request with my Bible study group about this and I said that we were in a rough parenting phase right now.  I said that I know I should ask for wisdom and patience and character-building, but what I really want right now is for it to be easier!  Remember when we were kids and it was so easy for you because we were perfect and wonderful in every way?

Dad: Umm… yeah, right.

 

Re-upped

On Sunday night, Dennis and I got to share a bit of our love story and participate in the I Still Do wedding at our church.  We were interviewed about our story and then we renewed our vows.  There were about 150 people there and we represented the 1-15 years-married group.  It was really cool to be a part of community in this way, with so many people reaffirming their commitment to one another for life!  There were 2 other couples who also shared (one had been married for over 20 years and the other for 46 years!) and it was also inspiring to hear from those who were so seasoned in their life together.

Even though we were on the short-end of the marriage  journey in that group, it was fun to reflect on the past 14 1/2 years and to re-up our commitment to one another.  Basically, in the interview we shared how we met, a little bit about our wedding day, and some of the good times and difficult times that we’ve experienced together.  Of course, after we sat down, there were several things that came to mind that I wish I would have talked about!  I thought I’d give a little synopsis here of some of what has made our marriage great over these years and why WE still do.

  • During our first year of marriage, we read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  It has really helped us love each other in the ways that communicate love to the other person.  We also periodically ask, “how is your love tank doing?”.  In other words, “are you feeling loved? And if not, what can I do to fill that?”.
  • We truly do strive to put the others’ needs before our own.  No keeping score, no 50/50.  It’s 100/100.  Not all the time, but as a general rule.
  • When we became parents, we made the commitment that our world would not revolve around our children.  Our commitment to each other always informs the decisions we make about our kids and we truly believe that the best gift we can give them is the gift of a strong marriage.  The two of us will be together long after they have grown up and moved out and we don’t want to end up as strangers in the same house!  God comes first, our marriage comes second, and parenting is third.  Period.
  • We are on the same team.  We are for each other.
  • Dennis’ words of wisdom at the end of the interview?  Happy wife, happy life.  Yes, yes indeed.