Thursday, September 5, 2013

Do. Trust. Dwell.

The smell of pencils and paper is in the air.  Everyone is posting pictures of their kiddos headed back to school, myself included.  This will be the fourth year of homeschooling for our family.  I honestly never thought we would homeschool for this long.  I love the idea of homeschooling. I admire those women who whip up amazing hands-on lessons, follow through and enjoy every minute of it.  Homeschool moms are superheroes in my book.  For myself it was always a temporary solution until we could somehow budget in private school.  I have spent every year praying for that possibility and The Lord has never opened that door.  Each year I dread starting back to school. I loath the task of getting head strong, active boys to work through their lessons each day.  And it showed.  Most days were a fight and ended with some one crying. Usually it was me.

As the school year approached, I once again began praying and once again The Lord closed the door to other school options.  So in desperation one morning in my quiet time I laid down an ultimatum. Which by the way I do not recommend doing.  However in my foolishness, this is what I demanded- "Lord, this is it. This is the last year I am trying this.  If I have to fight my way through and do not enjoy school this year, I quit.  I will do whatever it takes to put these boys in school." God in all of His mercy gave me this answer...

Colossians 3:17
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of Jesus;
Giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in The Lord with all your heart,
Lean not on your own understanding,
But in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your steps.

Psalm 37:3-4
Trust in The Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and freedom His righteousness.
Delight yourself also in The Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

He didn't stop there.  Over the next couple of days He shared the story of Caleb with me.  Remember Caleb?  He was the spy who went in with Joshua and declared the land was good and worth the fight.  He was one of the only ones to survive wandering the desert and then after conquering the land asked for the mountain that still needed to be overpowered.  Caleb asked for the difficult because he knew his God could deliver. 

So what does that say to me? I partly pray for the boys to go to school, because I loved school and I know they would too.  But mostly I pray to avoid the fight it takes each year.  I don't want the difficult. How small my faith feels when I admit this.  But with admittance comes confession and then redemption.  and so I surrender to His will and a new year.  There will be days of joy and days laden with the fight.  But I will choose to ask for the difficult.  I will choose to trust my great God.  I will choose to do my best.  I will choose to dwell in the land He has given me.

What about you?  Perhaps it is not your home life you find difficult.  Maybe it's your job, your health, your finances, or your walk with the Lord.  I challenge to ask for the difficult, dwell in the land and then see what miracles your great God does.

Monday, July 15, 2013

When Life Gives You the Shake Down

Change.  Just the word itself makes people squirm in their seats.  Change is my middle name and I still am uncomfortable with it. Change brings the unexpected.  Change means saying goodbye.  Change means being brave.  Change requires trust. It is as much a part of life as the seasons of the year. 

With each season of my journey I have had the opportunity to adapt and flourish or fail to thrive.  Trust me, I have done both.  Nothing is more gratifying than looking back and seeing God's hand triumphantly at work.  For the other times when my knees and forehead are skinned and bleeding (that would be due to falling flat on my face), my Lord is faithful.  I may have stumbled, but I never truly failed because He holds my hand, picks me up and delights in all seasons of my life.
With this last move I have been somewhat stumped on what this season holds for me.  I don't want to miss what God has planned for me here.  As I was recently encouraged, I want to "redeem the time" (Ephesians 5:16).  However, I have been overwhelmed with change this time. We moved to an even larger city, a humongous church with so many ministries to get involved in, the hubs has a crazy amount of responsibility with the new job and we are attempting school with three different grades. Not to mention that the culture in Florida is altogether different than any part of the country we have lived in yet.  Oh golly and who can forget the last three months of black mold remediation! To say the lest, this time I have been paralyzed by change.

I feel as if I am clawing my way up the side of a deep well.  Some days I feel as if I am making progress. I know optimism and the surge of His Spirit within me.  Other days, it is as if I am sliding, no falling, in a downward motion and I give into the strength of gravity. Do you ever feel that way?  God is good though.  He won't leave me in this paralyzed state.  A few weeks ago I could hear His whispered call, "don't give up" and "don't give into the slump". Maybe you know this struggle.  If so, be encouraged. We have HOPE! No matter what happens in our life (change) we do not need to loose heart due to this HOPE.  The "shake down" in life turns us to that HOPE, causes us to stand firmly in our faith and fill us with the life of Jesus.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed,
but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed.
Always carrying about in the body the dying of the
Lord Jesus, that the Life of Jesus
also may be manifested in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Righteous and Mighty is the Lord

I have several sweet friends who are just going through the ringer right now, be it finances, family or work.  This is for you and any other soul who is weary with life's trials.
Psalm 11:1,4,7 - In the Lord I put my trust. . .The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven. . .For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance upholds the upright.
Why can we put our trust in the Lord? Because He is in His holy temple - You! He is with you! In the same moment that He is with you, He is in heaven overseeing all the chaos of your day.  He is in control.  Whatever this life may try to throw at you, you need not fear; your God is righteous.  You can trust in His righteousness.  This faith allows us to ignore the troubles of the day and instead be renewed in strength and purpose.  The very essence of who He is will uphold you.
Matthew 26:53 - Or do you not think that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?
Why can we put our trust in the Lord? Because He will fight for you. Not only is the Lord with you, and in heaven in control, but also commanding all of heaven to go to bat for you.  Heaven and earth are at His beck and call.  If He needed to and knew it was for your best He could call down the armies of heaven to devour the beast. So be at peace today.  Your God is strong and mighty.  He is righteous. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Honesty is Still the Best Policy

It would seem in our society today that the lines of integrity are slightly blurred.  Perhaps it's because we must provide for our family, take care of them, protect them even. Or maybe it's the dog eat dog mentality that encourages an attitude of me first and the best for me - more of an attitude of selfishness. Maybe still we've just become lazy and it's easier to let things slide. Whether it's the "Robin Hood" syndrome or "keeping up with the Jones"; a lie is still a lie and honesty is still the best policy.
I found myself needing to make a decision involving integrity this weekend.  For the last month my family has suffered a rather large black mold infestation in our condo.  Six different  condos have been affected.  Between remediation teams, construction crews, insurance adjusters and the HOA it has become most intolerable.  You can imagine that besides the health issues of this situation, homeschooling and carrying on normal activities in this chaos has felt insurmountable.  I admit, I have kicked and screamed like a two year old, begged for a way out, prayed, cried and then kicked and screamed again.
After looking at houses that didn't fit our budget or our time frame, I had just about given up.  Then this week a friend offered us her house.  It was in our budget, we could move in right away and was perfect.  It was all my favorite colors and had stainless steel appliances.  You just don't get those luxuries when you rent. But my heart was in knots over the situation.  The house was going into short sale and I could not admit that I was renting it, not to the HOA, the bank - no one.With the down fall of the real estate world it has become a common and accepted practice. I wanted out of our current situation so bad and that house was so pretty, I said yes to the rental.  I agreed to look the other way.  She was a single mom simply trying to take care of her family. And it's not fair that the banks won't help out.
In truth my heart wrestled all night knowing that I could not reconcile what I was about to do with the knowledge that my God is bigger than all of our problems.  When you couple that with the fact that He is righteous and a just God, you must walk in integrity and trust that He will be faithful. And so, this morning we turned down the rental and chose to stick it out where we are.  I cried again, broken hearted over my wants.  But behind that pain was the reassuring presence of my Lord and the knowledge that His plans are bigger and better than mine.  I could hear Him whisper, "Good job, my daughter."
I understand desperation and despair.  I have not always taken the high road if you will.  But Jesus, loves us and by the very definition of love He cannot help but provide for us and take of us. He says not to worry about what you should eat or drink (Matthew 6:25-34), to not be anxious but to pray with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).  My God shall supply all your needs.
Let's not blur the line of integrity, rather let us live above reproach and have honesty and truth reign in our hearts.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Beautiful Strangling

I have always loved allegories and analogies.  It is art with words that just make sense in my mind and rings true with my heart.  Because of this, I often see examples in my everyday life that cause me to stop and think of the things of God. Today I saw this tree while on a walk with my family.  My first impression was how beautiful it was.  I loved how the vine gracefully wrapped itself around the tree. The two of them combined to form a stately and strong vision.  However, upon closer inspection I saw that in fact the vine was choking the tree.  The tree lacked room to grow, while the vine sucked up all of the nourishment.  The tree would have surely perished except that the caretaker had come along and cut away at the vine.  The vine now dead, had released its grip but remained as a reminder. 

As I took it all in, a picture was created in my mind - one of sin and its affects on our life.  Sin, be it an object, activity or attitude may appear good, beautiful even.  If we allow it to, like the vine, it will wrap itself around our life, choking us - depleting us of our God given purpose.

Pause, and contemplate with me; what may have wrapped around our hearts?  What do we need the Caretaker to come along and cut away in our lives?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Restoring Our Doorway

Have you ever expolored an old house?  As you walk through the doorway, the wood is rotting; slivers of it fall away as your sholder brushes it's fragile frame. The doorposts are sagging, barely strong enough to support it. It's a sad sight.  The weathered enterway has endured rain and wind.  Perhaps even fire. It is unfit for anyone to walk through it. Now picture the doorway to your soul - your walk with the Lord.  Do you ever feel weathered? Weary? The elements of this world have beaten against you; you feel brittle and broken. Maybe you feel your faith sagging, weak. I know I have. But the word of God encourages us...
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty.
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
~Psalm 24:7-9~
I believe that these verse have two meanings.  Psalm 22-24 speaks to us of our Shepard. Psalm 22 addresses the cross and His sacrificial death.  Psalm 23 deals with Jesus as our provider in this current life.  And Psalm 24 looks to His return for us as our coming King. So when you examine Ps. 24:7-9, we are encouraged to be ready, looking for His coming.  We are to be lifted up, anticipating Him entering.  But I think also these verses can speak to our daily life.  It is easy for us to be distracted with the business of our day, sucked in by what's playing on the television, weighed down by financial or physical burdens.  If we are not careful all these things eat at our "doorway".  Our strength is diminshed and in our weakend state we are ill prepared for the coming of our King in our daily lives. 
I know that the King of glory desires to be apart of our daily ongoings. He wants to breathe into us His Spirit.  To keep our "doorway" fresh and vibrant if you will.  So how do we do that?  I know I struggle with it.  As a busy mom getting that morning refreshment is almost impossible and by the time the family is in bed and house picked up I am falling asleep in my Bible.  I don't think the answer has changed.  There isnt a quick fix.  It requires time.  I have to have my priorities right. 

So just like a carpenter has to take time and replace the broken pieces of the doorway, I must take the time to address the issues of my soul.  It must be the first thing I think of in the morning, and continue to be forfront in my thoughts through out the day. And as I close my eyes it must be the last thought to cross my mind.

How are or what are some of the ways you accomplish this during your day?  Leave a comment and let me know.  Over the next couple of days I'll share a few of my tricks and hopeful encourage you during your restoration.