Monthly Archives: October 2014

YOLO?

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YOLO.  You Only Live Once.  Hmm.

I disagree.

There has always been something about this trendy acronym that has bothered me.  It seems more accurate to me that the saying should go, YODO – You Only Die Once.

See, we live everyday.  Each day we wake up, we live again.  Everyday, every hour, every moment we live.  Each sunrise brings new opportunity for life.  Each sunset brings new opportunity for rest.  We can choose from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment how we live.  Will we be exactly as we were, or will we seek to change?  Will we leave behind things that we know are detrimental to us, or will we continue living in those things?  We get to choose.

We get to choose.  In life, we get to choose.

We don’t get to choose in death.  No, death is not up to us.  When?  How?  Where?  We don’t get to know the answers to those questions.  What we do know is that death of our earthly bodies is final.  It’s final.  It’s the end.  There are no do-overs in death.  Once your body dies, it’s dead.  Period.

But in life, there are endless do-overs.

Praise!  We get do-overs!  Let that sink in for just a moment.

As long as we live, we get the chance to right every wrong, correct every mistake.  We get the chance to change our minds, redirect our goals, alter our paths.  As long as we live, we live.

As I get older, my priorities are ever changing.  More and more, my mind is set on God, and less on the world.  My spirit longs to be with Him.  I find myself counting down the minutes until I can be alone with Him.  Alone to pray, sing, hear.  With my God.  As I listen to Him, He makes things clear.  He shows me the things that I need to change.  He gives me opportunity for a do-over.  Because I live another day, I get to go back and correct past mistakes.

Just yesterday, as I was driving, I began thinking about a time when I made fun of my daughter right in front of her.  I thought it was so funny at the time, but thinking back on it, I realize how cruel that was.  I can picture her face when she realized I was laughing at her.  I bet it totally embarrassed her, hurt her feelings, made her mad, broke her heart.  Whatever her emotion, it couldn’t have been good.  I’m her mother.  I’m supposed to love and protect her.  But instead, I laughed.  Thankfully, I live.  I live so I am able to show my daughter love and respect, just as I should.  I get a do-over.

Thank You, God!

I’m not perfect – far from it, in fact.  I need second chances.  I need to live again, and again, and again.  How about you?  Do you need to live again?  Is there something you need to fix?  Let our goal be to live anew with the blessing of each new day.  Go out and claim your do-overs.

Sovereign

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There’s been a certain circumstance of my life that I’ve struggled and fought against for probably the last five years, or so.  I’ve insisted that something needed to change in order for me to be happier.  I’ve searched and prayed and schemed to find the answer to fix the problem, but nothing has really materialized.

But something has changed.

My daughter is 14.  We found out she was on the way just after our first anniversary, which also happened to be just after I graduated college.  Josh’s Air Force career had already begun to move us every few months, so I never really had a career of my own before we began having children.

At first, I absolutely loved being home with my kids.  I wouldn’t change those years for anything.  But, by the time Aero was about 3 years old, I had been home with children for over 10 years.  A decade.  I was dying to get out the door and do something different, something for myself.

Perhaps I needed a job.

Well, any military spouse can tell you that any variety of job that’s worth having is quite hard to come by when you are constantly on the move.  So I have desperately tried to come up with something to do with my time that would bring fulfillment.  And a little extra cash wouldn’t hurt, either.  I’ve explored a few options, had a few part time jobs.  But those didn’t satisfy me.  They just left me tired, drained, grumpy, and even more empty.

What in the world?  God, HELP ME!!!  FIX ME!!!

Josh just came back from a deployment a month or so ago.  While he was gone, I grew to really enjoy my quiet days at home while the kids were all in school.  No, I didn’t just enjoy them – I NEEDED them.  I craved days at home alone.  What?  That’s not me.  I don’t like to be home all the time.  Do I?

That’s exactly what I want.  It’s what I need.  Time to be alone – with God.  So, what I’ve been looking for all this time is what I’ve had all this time?

Yep.

Today I had the luxury of spending much of the day with God.  I prayed.  I praised.  I studied.  I listened.  And now, I’m rested.  I’m relaxed.  I’m happy.  I’m content.  I’m joyful.  I’m excited.

I’ve wasted so many years trying to change the circumstances that God has given me.  He knew this was what I needed at this stage of my life.  He provided what I needed, it just took me a while to receive His gift.

It truly is a gift that I am able to stay home.  I’m able to send my children to school and be here when they get home.  I’m able to prepare meals, and get caught up with work around the house without being overly stressed.  I’m able to spend time in God’s word.  I’m able to volunteer at school or church.  I’m able to help friends.

Using this blessing of time allows me to give more of myself to those around me, and that’s the best blessing of all.

It’s so clear to me in this moment.  Why did it take me so long to see it?  And, if I’m honest, why will I not remember?  There will come a day when I won’t remember.  I will once again be chomping at the bit to get out of this house.  Lord, help me remember.

Because I’ve spent the day listening to a lot of praise music, I’ve got lyrics dancing in my head, needing to be shared.  So, once again, I leave you with a song…

 

Sovereign

by Chris Tomlin, Martin Chalk, Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin, and Jason Ingram

Sovereign in the mountain air, sovereign on the ocean floor, with me in the calm, with me in the storm.

Sovereign in my greatest joy, sovereign in my deepest cry, with me in the dark, with me at the dawn.

In Your everlasting arms, all the pieces of my life, from beginning to the end, I can trust You.

In Your never failing love You work everything for good.

God whatever comes my way, I will trust you.

All my hope, all I need, held in Your hands.

All my life, all of me, held in Your hands.

All my fears, all my dreams, held in Your hands.

God whatever comes my way, I will trust You.

 

He IS sovereign.  He’s got this.  I’m learning to let Him lead me.  Will you let Him lead you?

You are LOVED!

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So many things in this life get in the way of the one simple truth that we all need to keep close to our hearts.

We are loved.

I am loved.

You are loved.

For me, I am the thing that gets in my way.  I get in my own way?  Yes, I do.

I doubt.  I doubt my abilities.  I doubt that I’m able to accomplish the things God has given me to do.  Can I really raise these children?  Can I really be a good wife?  Can I teach this class?  Can I sing this solo?  Can I make this cake?  Can I…?

I forget.  I forget to pray.  I forget His love.  I forget His faithfulness.  I forget He has my life under control.  I forget to search His word for answers.  Why is this happening?  Why can’t I figure this out?  Where are my answers?  What path should I take?

I worry.  I worry about health.  I worry about money.    I worry about time.  I worry about safety.  I worry about the future.  Will my children get sick?  Will they be protected?  How will we take care of extra expenses?  Where will the Air Force send us next?  What will we do after military retirement?

I am insecure.  I’m not good enough.  Not pretty enough.  Not skinny enough.  Not rich enough.  Not talented enough.  Not smart enough.  People don’t really like me.  I don’t fit in.  I don’t measure up.

I have allowed my doubt, forgetfulness, worry, and insecurities to imprison me.  How can I be the person God designed me to be if I’m inside my own self-imposed prison cell?  I can’t.  I have to let go of the bars, and break free from my cell.  My guess is that you also have things in your life that hold you captive.  You struggle with something that holds you back.  Just like me, you get in your own way.

There is good news for you, and for me.

We are LOVED!

We are enough.  God loves us!  HE LOVES US!  He doesn’t see us as the flawed beings that we see.  He sees us as the perfect beings He created.  He created me with all my flaws so that I could learn and grow through them.  He desires me to seek Him in my struggles.  He wants to help me.  He wants to guide me.  He wants to give me wisdom.  He wants me to trust Him.  He wants me to follow Him.  He wants me to love Him.

He loves me.  HE loves me.  He LOVES me.  He loves ME!  Me!

And He loves YOU!

There is nothing we can do to earn His love, and there is nothing we can do to lose His love.  He may want us to learn, grow, repent, change behavior, or obey, but He will never stop loving us.

His never failing love means that I don’t need to doubt or be insecure.  I am enough.  I am His creation.  He has given, or will give, me the ability to accomplish everything He has planned for me.  I can rest in that.  I can be secure in that.

His undying love means that I don’t need to worry.  He is in control.  He will provide whatever I need in any situation.  Whatever comes my way, I will be fine with Him beside me.

What does His love mean for you?

Because music speaks to me in a way that nothing else does, I will leave you with lyrics that have been on my heart the last few days…

Oh the Deep Deep Love

by Samuel Trevor Francis and Bob Kauflin

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless free; Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me.  Underneath me, all around me is the current of Your love; Leading onward, leading homeward to Your glorious rest above.

Oh the deep, deep love; All I need and trust is the deep, deep love of Jesus.

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore; How He came to pay our ransom through the saving cross He bore.  How He watches o’er His loved ones, those He died to make His own; How for them He’s interceding, pleading now before the throne.

Oh the deep, deep love; All I need and trust is the deep, deep love of Jesus.

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus, far surpassing all the rest; It’s an ocean full of blessing in the midst of every test.  Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus, mighty Savior, precious friend; You will bring us home to glory, where Your love will never end.

Oh the deep, deep love, All I need and trust is the deep, deep love of Jesus.

 

You are loved.  Believe and trust that YOU ARE LOVED!

 

What I’ve learned about parenting teens…so far.

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We’ve probably all heard it said many times over that the teenage years are the hardest on the parents.  I don’t know about you, but when I was up to my eyeballs in changing diapers, and cleaning spit up off my clothes and out of my hair, I couldn’t in my wildest dreams understand how a full functioning near-adult could be harder to take care of than these tiny humans who couldn’t even sit up!

I was wrong.  BIG TIME!

It isn’t that the daily chore of taking care of my older children is so difficult, because that part is so much easier now that they can bathe, get dressed, feed themselves.  It’s the emotional roller coaster that raising teens has put me on that makes this the single most difficult task I’ve encountered yet.

The reason I couldn’t see how difficult this would be when my kids were younger is because it wasn’t personal.  I could listen to a mom of teens share her heartache and think to myself that everything she was saying was just a normal part of growing up.  No big deal.

Until it starts happening to MY KIDS!  Watching your child’s body mature is unsettling.  Understanding that they have hormones is not for the faint of heart.  Knowing that boyfriends and girlfriends are just around the corner is scary.

My kids are good kids.  They are respectful (mostly!).  They make good grades.  They follow the rules (mostly!).  They help around the house.  They help take care of their younger brother.  They are good kids.  By society’s standards, we’re doing a great job raising them.

But here’s the deal – I’m not interested in secular parenting.

My task is much greater than simply teaching my children how to be intelligent, respectful, hard-working, full-functioning adults.  My mission is to teach them to know and love Jesus with all their hearts.  My job is to be Jesus to them.  My job is to teach them to be Jesus to others.

This task is not so difficult when your children still think you know everything and believe anything you tell them.  It’s easy when they can’t eavesdrop on conversations you shouldn’t really be having in the first place.  It’s easy when they like you and still want to be just like you when they grow up.  But it all changes when their adoration evolves into mere tolerance.  When personalities are so polar opposite that you can hardly have a conversation that isn’t strained or forced, it becomes difficult to impress upon these still young beings all that you want them to learn from you.  When their friends, computers, iPads, phones, xboxes, etc. vie for their attention, it’s challenging to get them to focus on anything you say or do.  When their homework load is so great that you feel how overwhelmed they are, it’s hard to determine when it’s ok to let them skip out on family time so they can get their work done, and when it’s more important for them to be with the rest of the family.

What I know is that every decision I make matters.  Every word I speak to them matters.  What I do and say will either build them up or tear them down.  It will either bring them one step closer to knowing Jesus, or take them one step back.  That’s heavy stuff.

I’ve always been very confident in my parenting choices.  I’ve not done everything perfectly, but that’s ok.  I’m good with kids.  I know how to talk to them, to understand them.  But teens?  That’s a whole new ballgame.  Honestly, I’m in uncharted territory.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  None.   It’s like aliens have invaded my home and we don’t even speak the same language!  How in the world am I supposed to influence these people when I don’t understand a thing about them?  My answer for that?

It takes a village.

It takes many people being actively involved in their lives.  Praying for them (and for Josh and me), mentoring them, leading them by example, etc.  It takes us as parents being humble and honest enough to admit we need help and to ask for it.  But mostly, it takes active, daily interaction with God.  He needs to be the center of it all.  He needs to be my source of wisdom, guidance, support, comfort, peace.  He will provide all I need as a mother.  I just have to be willing to accept it.

I believe He provides our village.  I believe He hears and answers prayers.  I believe He is faithful.  I believe He will give me answers if I seek them.  I believe He loves my children more than I do and wants them to love Him, too.  I believe.

And I so desperately want my kids to believe.

Lord, grant me the wisdom to effectively raise these children to know and love you.  This is my heart’s desire.

I seek Christian parenting, which adds a whole new dimension to this task.  It’s well worth the effort, but it definitely takes a strong person with a strong village.

To my village, thank you.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for loving Josh.  Thank you for loving our kids.  Thank you for your support, wisdom, and guidance.  I promise to be part of your village when you need it!