Posts tagged with "faith"
We live in a one bedroom home. All four of us. It's got a kitchen and a bathroom with running water and sewer drainage. It's got a bedroom that fits all four of our beds comfortably plus a pack-n-play for the little boy that I babysit. It's got a living room with room for a small couch and chair, a t.v., and room for the kids to play. It's even got a little dining room that we use as a play room for the kids. Under all of that is a basement that houses an automatic washing machine and dryer plus plenty of room for storage.
We have everything we need and more.
But we also have dreams of hosting a home church, of sharing our home with friends and family...and there's no room to do that in our current house. So we bought a new house.
Our new house has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen with a dishwasher, and a finished basement that not only houses a washer and dryer and room for storage, but also plenty of room to host friends and family. It's certainly more than we need for the four of us, but it's exactly what we need if we want to be able to share our home with others...and we do. We do want to share our home.
But as soon as we bought the home (heck, as soon as we saw it, much less offered on it, much less got the offer accepted), I started dreaming of decorating our home in addition to sharing our home. New flooring, new paint, new furniture... I've been pinning with abandon over the past few weeks.
But yesterday evening, I read this post about my family.
And I was convicted. Like crying as I chopped the lettuce for dinner conviction...crying so hard I couldn't speak when my husband asked me what was wrong. So convicted that I went to bed as soon as dinner was over and didn't get up until this morning.
You see, I want my brothers and sisters around the world to be safe, healthy, thriving, and in deep relationship with Jesus. If you know anything about me, you know that I want that.
But I'd be a fool if I didn't admit that I also want a pretty home. Not just a safe home, not just a clean home. Not just a home that's "fit" to share with others (n America, since that's where I live). I want a pretty home with colors that please me and fabrics that make me smile. A pretty home with comfortable furniture for everyone.
And what it really boils down to is this: Which desire is greater?
Stephen Covey says it like this,
"You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage - pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically - to say 'no' to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger 'yes' burning inside. The enemy of the 'best' is often the 'good.'"
Following Christ's command to love my neighbor and to care for the poor is a priority for me. I would even classify it as a high priority. But last night, I came face to face with the reality that it's at least tied with my desire for a pretty home.
Oh, and that makes me angry..."angry at how much I want comfortable more than I want Christ." (Voskamp)
So I'm fasting from Pinterest and from thinking about home decor for the day, maybe even for the rest of the week. As long as it takes for me to get my priorities back in the right order.
So today, on the 18th day of Thanksgiving in July, I'm thankful for bloggers like Ann Voskamp who provoke me to think about my life in a way that brings me closer to Christ. And I'm thankful that Jesus died for all of my sins, even my ugly, deplorable vanity and materialism. I'm so thankful for his forgiveness.
Have you noticed that this space has been increasingly quiet over the past few months? It's not that I don't have anything to say. I'm simply in search of wisdom: the gentle understanding of what to say as well as when and how to say it.
My little girl hurt my feelings this morning.
After a short night of sleep (and operating on a hungry tummy), she spat out harmful and embarrassing words when she didn't get her way.
"You are the worst mom! I HATE YOU!"
My laughter (a horrible reflex that happens when I'm embarrassed or angry) must have confused her. It certainly confused the other mothers who witnessed the event. I can only imagine what they thought as they watched me laugh after my daughter spewed such disrespectful ugliness and hostility. One of the other mothers felt it necessary to take my daughter into the other room and explain to her how her actions were in appropriate.
I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. How embarrassing!
Not only that my daughter is capable of such behavior, but that she most probably inherited it or learned it from me!
"The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." ~James
How do I help her learn? How can I help her learn, when I haven't learned myself?
Oh, God, forgive me.
I have exhibited such arrogance and lack of self-control. I have cared more about my need to express myself or for my words to be heard than about how that might have affected Your Kingdom or the hearers themselves. A lack of malicious intent causes no less harm. What evil I have committed and how I have participated with the Enemy! I'm sorry.
'Wounded deep for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. You brought a peace and bought our healing. Now eternally we sing, now eternally we sing.' (Wounded Healer, The Brilliance)
Oh, Son of God, forgive me.
I have caused some of the wounds you died to heal. I have abandoned your call to love enemies, and I have betrayed you with my hypocrisy. I have made it more difficult for others to see You. I have made it difficult for others to believe in You. I'm sorry.
'Rescue me, I am drowning in doubt. I cannot see You. This water's deep, and I've been treading too long. Now I'm sinking. Will you let me see if you are there? Will you rescue me, if you are there?
Comfort me, this fear is dragging me down. Deep in the darkness. Frigid sea, my whole heart has gone cold. I know I'm dying. Will you answer me, if you are there? Will you rescue me, if you are there?' (Rescue Me, The Brilliance)
Oh, Spirit of God, help me.
I have proven that I cannot tame my tongue. I'm begging for You to come and change me, radically. I'm begging You to come and transform me. Grant me wisdom and give me strength. Please help me to learn the power of my words and how magnificently important it is to use them to equip, encourage, and edify. Use me as an example in my precious little girl's life. Spare her from the example I have shown her at times. Wipe her heart and mind clean. Surround her and teach her and guide her. Guide us. Please.
'You heard the cry of our hearts, and you came down. Freely you gave us your love, showing us how.
Make me an instrument of Your Peace. Where there is hatred, let me so love. Where there is darkness, let me shine light.
May Your love cause us to open, cause us to open up our hearts.
May Your light cause us to shine so bright that we bring hope into the dark.
Hope for the hopeless, Your Love is.
Strength in our weakness, Your Love is.
May we love as you love.' (Open Up, The Brilliance)
What if I told you that I was going back to school to get my Masters in Social Work so I could become a social worker?
Would you roll your eyes?
Would you say, under your breath, "Yeah, right. I'll believe it when I see it."?
Would you laugh a little bit and think, "Good gracious, Lindsay, what's next?"
If so, you'd have every right and reason to do so.
Nursing. Elementary Education. Early Childhood Education. Individual and Family Services.
Those are the degree programs I was enrolled in at one point or another while in college.
A banker. A nanny. A stay-at-home mom. An adoptive mom. A foster mom. A nurse. A writer. A singer. A teacher.
All things that I've been or considered being in the past five years.
It seems a little inconsistent, huh? A little uncertain? Unstable?
Can you imagine how much worse it would seem if I was the husband and father of this family? The breadwinner? The one the others were counting on to confidently lead them in the right direction?
Lord, have mercy.
I'm happy to tell you that I'm not going back to school to get my Masters in Social Work.
I'm less happy to admit that inconsistent, uncertain, and unstable don't even begin to describe what I've been over the past ten years.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
I've come to the conclusion that "You must believe and not doubt" means two things:
1. When you ask God for wisdom, you must believe and not doubt that he'll give it to you.
2. When He gives it to you, you must believe and not doubt the wisdom with which you are entrusted.
Ten years ago, I was a sophomore in college, majoring in Elementary Education, and I was so incredibly unhappy. I knew I wasn't where I needed to be. That summer, I asked God for wisdom. I asked Him to guide my future and show me the plans He had for me.
He answered. He shared his wisdom and his plan with me.
And I believed Him.
For about a week.
And then I doubted.
And I have been doubting for the past decade of my life.
If you think my career aspirations have been inconsistent and unstable, then imagine how my heart and mind have felt.
God is using James: Mercy Triumphs to hold me up to the light and force me to make a decision: Belief and Obedience or Doubt and Disobedience.
Believe it or not, the decision isn't as easy as you would think...
Pastor Stacey told this real story during his sermon this morning:
A young boy grew up in a house where the dinner table was surrounded by one of two things: argumentative yells or silence. He did his best to eat his meal quickly without getting yelled at by his father, then he would excuse himself from the table and dash out the back door. Just a few houses down the street, another family was enjoying their dinner. The young boy would crawl under their porch in order to sit and listen to them laugh and talk...treasuring the sounds of a loving family.
Pastor Stacey went on to challenge us:
Imagine if the father of that loving family came outside and said to the young boy, "Please! Come join us for dinner, come be a part of our family." And a place was made for the young boy at the table. When the young boy spilled a glass of water, the father would erupt...not in anger, but in laughter. "Get him another glass of water and a towel while you're at it." Imagine if the young boy was adopted into the family, blessed by the father, treated as one of their own.
This is what God has done for us.
We live in a broken and critical world. We are often surrounded by angry or sullen people, sometimes forced into silence or loneliness. There are times when we have been the angry, hurtful force in someone else's life.
He comes and invites us out from under the porch and up to a seat at the table. He adopts us as His own, according to his pleasure and will.
"Change depends on experiencing the character of God."
Have you experienced the incredible love God has for you? Have you let it sink in that God not only wills for you to be his child, but that it is his pleasure to invite you into his family and to accept you as one of his own?
This is incredibly Good News. I was thankful to be reminded of it this morning.
(Just imagine me saying/chanting that title in the spirit of "Weapon of Choice" by FatBoySlim.)
Now, on to the important stuff...and the not-so-important stuff. :) This is shaping up to be one of those rambly, train-of-thought types of posts. I'll try to start with the important things, so I don't lose you too soon. ;)
First up - I've been invited to go on a mission trip to Uruguay in March. In order for me to go, we'd need to have someone who could be responsible for Ruby and Burke the week of March 5 - March 9. (There's a high probability that Mike will be traveling a lot during the first quarter of the year, so we would need someone who would be able to keep Ruby and Burke overnight, if needed.) If you have any suggestions, let us know. (Obviously, we're looking for someone that we know and trust.) I'd really appreciate prayers for guidance about whether to go on the trip or not.
You can also pray specifically for Mike and me as parents. We seem to be dealing with a resurrection of sorts...the resurrection of the Terrible Twos and the Terrifying Threes all combined into some horrifyingly scary edition of the Frightening Fives. You may think I'm exaggerating wtih all the terrible and the terrifying and the scary and the frightening, but y'all. I've been reduced to tears on multiple occasions in the past three weeks. (Honest, gut-wrenching, I'm-failing-as-a-parent tears...) So if you'd pray for me, that'd be great. And parents of children who are five and older, if you've got similar experiences or any advice, bring it on!
In the "pros" column, we are seeing a lot of bright spots in Ruby's development, too. She can now spell and write several words other than her name without any help. She's recognizing a few sight words without prompting. She got a kid's camera for Christmas, and she's got quite an eye for a five year old. :) There are times when she makes incredibly mature decisions, and she's beginning to show a concrete understanding of faith in Jesus Christ.
Being a parent is a rollercoaster of emotions: insanely proud in one moment and crippled with doubt in the next. I wouldn't trade a second.
Burke is turning into quite the little talker. He's constantly making up some sort of pretend circumstances for playtime. He's Perry. Or he's Phineas. Or he's a baby. Or he's a cat who says, "Memow." He uses his blocks to make towers, monster trucks, guns, racetracks, or some other totally boyish contraption. He loves to wrestle and climb. He's been 100% potty-trained for many months now, and he just seems like such a big boy.
And now for the random:
Ruby and Burke get a little stopped up every now and then, if you know what I mean. It happens most often when we go to grandparents' houses...mostly because we're out of the norm and the kids get a lot of snacks that aren't necessarily fiber-filled. ;) Last week, my mom gave Ruby and Burke some "poop candy." Magic words for prunes. She refrigerated them and cut them up into quarters. Call something candy, and my kids are very willing to give it a try. Amazingly, they'll gladly eat two prunes and beg for more, if the prunes are chilled and cut up.
Let me just say that my kids are regular beyond regular now. We had to cut them back from 2 prunes/day to 1.5 prunes/day. They are now down to 1 prune/day in order to ward off panicked cries of, "I've gotta go NOW, Mom!!!" ;) If your kids get stopped up, try some chilled Sunsweet Prunes cut into quarters.
Just be careful if you call them poop candy. Because when you walk by prunes in the grocery store, your kids are very likely to scream at the top of their lungs, "POOP CANDY!!! Mom! Mom! Can we get some more?!?!?" ;)
Lastly, I ate a salad for dinner. I didn't want to, but I did. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
Awhile ago, I wrote a post about dancing...except it wasn't really about dancing at all. It was about living. Living the lives we were made to live. And I asked a few questions at the end of the post.
I'm still learning the answers to some of those questions, but I know this:
I was made to communicate.
I've never gotten that part wrong.
But all the rest? Goodness, gracious.
Yes, I've been jealous of others' talents, personalities, and gifts. And, yes, I've let that jealousy stand in God's way.
The worst part of it all is that, at times, I've absolutely gotten so wrapped up in trying to be who I want to be that I've completely forsaken who I am. And that's a complete shame.
Because God has made me who I am. There are certainly rough edges that need to be smoothed and harsh parts that need to be softened. But I am who I am for a reason.
And God has put me where I am. I probably won't be here forever, and I may not be where I thought I'd be. But I'm where I'm supposed to be for this season.
So, instead of focusing on who I will be one day or where I might be someday, I've decided to be here and be the best me today.
I'll let you know how it goes. :)
How about you? What were you made for?
The man thought he knew how to use a hammer. But he couldn't have been more wrong.
Joe and Sue spent the entire week teaching the man all about the hammer...how it was made, how it worked, and how it was meant to be used.
At the end of the week, Joe and Sue presented the man with a wonderful gift: a hammer.
The man felt relief and peace.
Then, Joe began to speak.
"Man, there's more. Six years ago, God asked us to build a house. We can see that God has asked you to build a house, as well. We want to help you. God has asked us to join you and be a part of your construction crew. We'll teach you all we know about building a house. We made a few mistakes along the way, and you'll have the benefit of learning from the mistakes without actually having to make them. You won't be alone.
In fact, you're going to learn that you won't actually be building the house at all. God's gonna do it. Just wait and see. Sure, you'll be participating, but it's God. He builds houses in the most unique way you can imagine. He does all the heavy lifting and hard work. He simply invites you to join him. We can't wait to see you experience it."
The man, who usually had the right words for everything, found himself speechless.
"Thank you," was all he could manage. "Thank you so much."
"We'll be in touch," Joe said with a smile.
As the man drove home, the house was the last thing on his mind. He didn't even glance at the hammer sitting on the passenger seat. All he wanted to do was spend time with God.
It had never been about the hammer.
It had always been about the God who loved him enough to provide the hammer...but not until he was actually ready to own it. It had always been about the God who loved him enough to provide mentors...partners who would work with him. It had always been about the God who still wanted to build a house with the man, even though the man had proven how stubborn and unworthy he could be.
It had always been about God...a holy, wonderful, loving, and forgiving God.
The man realized that it would never again be about the call...but always about the Caller.
And he couldn't wait to spend more time with God, building a house.
Having abandoned God, the man returned to the pile of wood. Determined to fulfill God's call, he began pounding the nails into the wood...again with his bare hands.
Out of sheer stubbornness and pride, the man decided to go ahead and fulfill God's call...to build the house...in his own time, in his own strength, with his own resources.
And he failed.
With bloodied hands and the resignation known only to those in the throes of grief, the man approached God a second time.
"God, I don't understand. I want to build this house for you. I want it more than anything. But I just can't do it without a hammer. I cannot do this thing you've asked me to do without my old hammer. I miss my old hammer."
"My child, you don't understand because this makes no sense. It's true. I asked you to build a house. But I never asked you to build a house with your own hands. I never asked you to build the house by yourself. Your old hammer is broken. It will not work. The pain you are experiencing is self-induced. If you'll only trust me and spend time with me, you'll see more of my plan and your hands will thank you. Wait here with me. I will give you a hammer when the time is right. I promise."
So the man gave up on the house for the time being. The pain throbbed in his hands and pushed him away from God. He was angry...he wanted a hammer, and he wanted it now. He was hurt...he couldn't understand why God had asked him to do something and then commanded him to wait. He was afraid...he wasn't sure that God would actually ever provide a hammer. And he was ashamed: for trying it in his own strength, for avoiding God, for putting the house above God, and for his doubt.
He lived in that horribly discouraging state for quite some time: keeping himself busy with other activities so he could ignore the pile of wood and trying to avoid God as much as possible.
One evening, while spending some time with a friend, the man heard God whisper, "It's time to get your hammer."
The man was sure he'd misunderstood the words.
"Could you say that again, God? I'm listening."
"Well, I'm glad to hear that. It's time to get your hammer. Joe and Sue are holding it for you, but you'll have to spend some time with them and do a bit of work first."
The man didn't know what to expect. But he knew he had nothing to lose.
When he showed up on Joe and Sue's doorstep, he never could have guessed what was waiting for him on the other side.
God told a man to build a house. He provided the land, the wood, the nails, and the general plan.
The man went to work. He read the general plan and got a good idea of how the house should be built. He started to organize the wood by shape, size, and purpose. Since God didn't provide a hammer, the man assumed he was supposed to use the one he already had.
...until it got stolen.
After a bit of time, the man got antsy. God had told him to build a house. He just *knew* he needed to get started. The boards needed to be nailed together. But the man had no hammer.
He waited as long as he could, and then Impatience won. Desperately, he began to pound the nails into the boards with his bare hands.
After the first day, he hadn't made much progress. In fact, none of the boards were connected and his hands were bloody and painful. Until this moment, the man had only been irritated about his stolen hammer. Now, he was mad. So, he went to God.
"God, I don't know how to build a house without a hammer. I know you meant for me to use my own hammer, but it's been stolen. You know that. Why haven't you replaced my hammer? It *hurts* to build this house with my hands. Do you want me to hurt?"
"Dear Son, please stop trying so hard. I never asked you to build a house with your bare hands. I simply asked you to build a house. I haven't given you a deadline, and I don't expect you to be finished anytime soon. I never wanted you to use your own hammer. I provided everything else. Did you think I forgot to provide a hammer for you? No, I haven't forgoten. I gave you everything you need for this time. You need plenty of preparation before you build this house. There is much to learn. I will give you the hammer I intend for you to use when I intend for you to use it. But you must be patient. Just spend some time with me for now."
The man tried. He really did try to spend time with God. But the house was always in the back of his mind.
Soon enough, the man abandoned God for the house that God had commissioned.
A man owned a pool. One day, he noticed the pool had a green tint to it. He called the store where he purchased the pool and asked for their help. They prescribed a bit more chlorine and promised him the pool would be as good as new the next day.
So it was frustrating when he walked outside the next day and found his pool an even murkier shade of green. Again, he called the store and solicited their advice. When they suggested he shock the pool, he figured he had nothing to lose. Again, they promised he would have a clear, beautiful pool in 24 hours' time.
The next morning, having faith in the store's knowledge, the man put on his swim trunks, called out to his children, and headed out toward the pool. He could smell the pool before he could see it, and it didn't smell good. As he rounded the corner, he couldn't believe his eyes. The pool was as green as ever...as if he'd never spent a single penny on chemicals or a single minute researching the needs of his pool.
Frustration spilled over into anger, and the anger tumbled out of his mouth. He growled and turned toward his children.
"Back inside!" he barked.
The shock and hurt registered on their faces instantly, and he felt a stab in his gut. It wasn't their fault. And he knew that. Why was he allowing his problems with his pool to create problems with his children?
When he walked into the kitchen, he resolved not to let his pool problems affect anyone else...
...until his wife asked him why they were back inside.
"We'll be out of your hair as soon as we can!" he barked again.
She looked like a flower wilting in slow motion.
And his heart broke.
"I'm so sorry, sweetheart. I know you weren't interrogating me. It's not your fault. I'm so frustrated about this pool. I'm so angry with the store! It's still dirty. Do they even know what they're talking about?? I can't take the kids out there, so we'll head to the mall."
His quick apology had helped a bit, but the damage was done. She didn't look quite as wilted, but she certainly wasn't blooming.
The man couldn't take it anymore. He called the company that had created the pool.
"Have you checked the filter?" asked the company representative.
"No. No one has even mentioned the filter," he answered.
The next day, the man watched as a technician replaced the filter on his pool. Within 24 hours, the water was clean and clear. The filter was full of dirt and debris that had been plaguing the pool. With the junk out, the pool returned to its intended state, and the man returned to his healthy state of mind. And then...
Then the chemicals did what they were supposed to do! The pool stayed clean and clear for the rest of the summer.
The man learned two very important lessons:
1. If something is broken, the person who knows it most intimately, its creator, will best be able to prescribe the solution.
2. If something is dirty, you must get the bad/dirty stuff out, before you can put the good/cleansing stuff in.
This week, I've learned that my soul is very much like this man's pool. I hope to share more with you once I can find the right words.
(This story is not my own. It was shared with me by some very good friends.)