Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I OWE you Nothing!

In the midst of doing laundry (the NEVER ending cycle!) a few minutes ago, I had an "aha" moment with God. It always seems as if I "hear" him the most whenever I'm in the middle of folding piles & piles of clothes. Maybe it's because if the baskets come out, everyone disperses and it's actually as quiet as you can ever expect my house to be! Maybe it's the "mundaneness" of the task that actually allows God to get through to my thoughts.

In the middle of the task I heard the words "I owe you nothing" pop in my head. Not once, but twice. I've been praying for God to let me hear him and to drown out all of the noise. Well, to be honest, those aren't quite the words I was expecting to hear. At first I'll admit it somewhat stung my pride and even hurt my feelings. But then.........my heart immediately began to change and some of the burdens I've been carrying started to feel a little lighter.

"I owe you nothing." How can those be healing words? I finally understood part of what I think he's been wanting me to learn. He does NOT owe me anything. Being a Christian does not guarantee an easy, perfect life. I've let walls build up between the "two of us" for a long time because HE hasn't answered my prayers in MY time or always in the way I needed Him to. In my selfishness, I think I've let part of my heart harden and my faith falter because of the despair that comes with unanswered prayers (or answers of NO, wait, or NOT now). There has been much discussion in our home of does God REALLY care and does he REALLY answer prayers. Some days it's been hard to answer YES to those questions. We've answered yes by faith, but not always because that was what our heart were feeling.

"I owe you nothing". I think the key word is "OWE". He really does not owe me anything. Instead, I OWE him everything. My life belongs to him----every single part of it. Every ounce of my being should be about praising HIM.

However that does NOT mean that I should never ask for anything from Him. It also doesn't mean that I shouldn't have faith that he's going to answer my prayers. Prayer is powerful. I should never doubt that he has my best interest at heart. When he's telling me NO over and over, I shouldn't find myself broken and discouraged. That's the pit I've been living in. I think he told me to get up out of the pit and to stop having a pity party.

He KNOWS my heart is broken over some major issues. He KNOWS I'm overwhelmed & stressed. He KNOWS that financial blessings aren't knocking down our doors. He KNOWS the depth of how strong my feelings are about some issues. He KNOWS the burden I'm carrying for our preteen & teen girls. He KNOWS my hearts desires. He KNOWS the insecurity I feel over certain things. He KNOWS how earnestly I'm seeking to find my purpose. He KNOWS the hurt I feel over individuals devaluing the path I have chosen in life. He KNOWS how my heart hurts over those relationships that can't be made whole. He KNOWS my anxiety over family illnesses, loved ones that are turning their backs on their faith, and ............the list goes on and on. He KNOWS it ALL. He KNOWS the feelings I have that I struggle to put into words. He KNOWS me MORE than I know myself.

Yet, he OWES me nothing. However, because of his PURE, SACRIFICIAL love he has for us, he provides ANYWAY! Because he OWES me nothing......he FREELY gives. He is going to restore relationships, heal broken hearts, and provided JUST what I need in HIS time! Today may not be THAT day, but THAT day is coming. He's going to continue to direct my paths, open doors when others are closed, and place people in my life that help keep my focus on Him. He's going to continue to hear my cries for mercy and deliverance. He's not going to snap his fingers and let EACH and EVERY heartache or obstacle be gone. He could. But why would He? He knows me enough to know that the obstacles and heart break keep me fully connected to Him. He knows just how weak I am without him. Plus, the beauty of it all is that on the day He DOES restore, deliver, or "solve" an issue----he knows I will have no choice but to give Him praise for it. Because once we realize how incapable we are of doing anything in our OWN power....that is when he REALLY begins to reveal his power in our lives.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm in Knots....and full of nots!

I'm stunned to see how much time keeps flying by in between posts. I "plan" to blog every day, but obviously I've not been sticking to that plan. It seems as if every time I have something I really want to say, someone or some thing pulls me in an another direction. I've been having a problem lately with distractions & the inability to complete a coherent thought. Think maybe it has something to do with 3 kids at home with VERY different needs?!

It's no real secret that I'm in the middle of some pretty big spiritual battles. It seems that as I'm stretching to grow, obstacles block my path from every direction. Satan knows exactly what my weaknesses are and he knows perfectly how to get in my head and let the little things grow until I can't find my way. I'm earnestly seeking God's direction on several situations and I KNOW without ANY doubt that HE will lead me directly down the path he desires. However, it's getting so VERY difficult to hear his voice over all the background noise. I'm physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired of just trying to stay on track and not derail. It's not coming easy and HOW I wish it were. Personal situations are getting harder to deal with and more difficult by the day.

I'm still moving forward and I refuse to lay down and give up. I can't. There is NO way God has let us go through so many things or allowed us to have to deal with so much to NOT have a real purpose in mind. I can't see the big picture, but HE does. I don't see where certain unanswered prayers have a purpose, but HE does. I don't know why some people can be so hurtful, so unthoughtful, and uncaring, but HE knows what he wants me to learn from it. HE knows exactly where I will be on THAT day that he reveals the next step of His plan for my life. I'm just going to continue to praise Him during the wait, no matter how heavy my heart feels. I know that the day I finally HEAR his voice as PLAIN as day----He will be rejoicing right along with me. I know He will probably feel the same way about me as I do about the kids when I FINALLY get a difficult concept through their thick skulls!

I'm thankful that God has given me some amazing people to encourage me along the way recently. What a pleasure it is to have relationships with people that are willing to boost you up and most importantly petition God on your behalf. THANK YOU! So many of your encouraging words have really been like salve to an open wound.

Today, JUST as I was having a break down of epic proportions, my Aunt sent something out of the blue that I want to share. I think I want to print a thousand copies and hang it EVERYWHERE so I never lose sight of it. Thanks Aunt T!

Dear God:
Please untie the knots
that are in my mind,
my heart and my life.
Remove the have nots,
the can nots and the do nots
that I have in my mind.
Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find
a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots,
would nots and
should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life all of the "am nots"
that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought
that I am not good enough.
(author unknown)
I think that perfectly sums it up. I'm full of knots and nots that are READY to be removed!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

God ALWAYS provides!

Let's face it. Sometimes life is hard....really hard. It's very easy to get bogged down in day to day struggles. It's not a secret that we've been hit with obstacles from every direction lately. Some of which have been made public and some that have been kept private. Some of those struggles are beginning to resolve, others just starting and others seem like there will NEVER be a positive resolution for.

What do I do? Keep on going, keep on praising God through each and every storm. Keep focusing on keeping my eyes AND heart on the most important things. Do I always succeed? NO! However, just about the time I think I can't handle another single second or can't carry another situation.....God provides. He may not offer provision in the way I demand or exactly the way I THINK I need, but he DOES provide. God has not taken away Kevin's illness. He hasn't lifted our financial stress. He hasn't morphed me into the super-woman I need to be to handle all of my different roles. He hasn't......fill in the blanks....there are MANY of them.

However, he HAS provided. He's given us SO many things that matter! The amazing blessing of a long distance friend that I've never physically met, but holds one of the most prized places in my heart. She blessed me beyond words with a priceless gift---to some it would have meant very little---but to me it was HUGE! Her uplifting words & encouragement is beyond compare. He HAS given us hope that there are brighter days ahead. He's gifted me with new friendships that are growing every day and leaving me feeling less alone. He's given me the ability to see how important the LITTLE things are. We live in a world of BIG things, but it REALLY is the little things that are the most important. It seems like for every heartache & disappointment I'm facing, God has provided a different blessing to fill in that hole or gap. It doesn't necessarily make the pain go away or the hurt any less real, but it sure makes moving forward in faith MUCH easier. I'm rediscovering just how strong my marriage can be because we are having to fully depend on each other. Having been at the bottom, we have learned just how special we are to each other and are much more likely to express it.

I've learned that there are healthy ways to deal with stress & heartache. I have been so far to the bottom and in such a deep depression that there always comes that fear that I will slip back. I finally feel that I'm a conqueror! Knowing where I've been, I know this is one of those times that the old me WOULD have hit rock bottom. Even though yes it's a struggle and pain is VERY real, what is MORE amazing is the victory & freedom that I'm finding. God has finally shown me how to overcome & that is a HUGE blessing in my life!

I'm just so very thankful that through everything coming our way, God has made sure that he has given me a beacon to follow. Sometimes it has been my own heart....just the right words from a friend....just a certain look from Kevin.....and MANY other things. I'm learning to fight my way through the darkness with my eyes set on Him. It is very easy to lose track and focus just purely on the negativity, the whys and why nots......but I'm refusing to stay there. Instead of getting caught up in the feeling of God not answering my prayers, I'm focusing on the things He IS DOING or has done. He has promised to never leave or forsake me and I AM HOLDING on to that PROMISE!

To end this post, I read something this morning that I think is really life changing. I'm "borrowing" it from Gretchen & I'm so thankful she posted it. I think it PERFECTLY describes my view of life lately in words I could have never chosen. Very profound.

" THIS day comes equipped with a set of fresh opportunities. In its joys and pleasures, I can show my gratitude to God. In its trials and temptations, I can prove my faithfulness to God. In its pains and hardships, I can demonstrate my trust in God. In whatever form, the day's events will bring opportunities for service...to God and others, and chances to exhibit the virtues of faith, hope, and love."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Wrinkles & Gray Hair AND a "Mountain Mover"

What most people don't realize is just how funny (and beyond energetic) my boys are. They typically see them as quiet, reserved, and respectful in public. Wow----if they could see these boys dance, goof-off, and play together. They both have INSANE funny bones.

We have this HUGE problem with Bradlee. He doesn't sleep through the night and drives us bonkers. He goes to sleep in his bed with zero problem. It's the hours that follow that make us want to pull our hair out. He comes down & tries to squeeze in bed with Kevin and I several times a night. For the first couple of times, Kevin makes the trek back upstairs or my "mommy-only" voice convinces him it would be in his best interest to march his little tail back upstairs. Unfortunately, as the night goes on, he manages to sneak in without us knowing. The RULE is that he can get in bed with mommy AFTER daddy has gone to work OR when the sun is up. It just doesn't usually work that way.

Yesterday was one of those days that he had managed to get in bed and TAKE over. I tossed & turned trying to find ME a spot in MY bed to sleep. That little turkey had taken over ALL of my pillows and I was laying CROSSWISE. He had the nerve to sit up, did I mention IN MY SPOT ON MY PILLOWS, and tell me to quit moving around so much that HE couldn't sleep!!!! If I hadn't been a zombie, I would have marched his little booty back upstairs to his bed, but as he knows.....once we are zombies, he can get away with anything! So instead he got a half laugh and a "flap-flap"-----that's our way of saying buzz-off.

What makes it all worth it, is those morning snuggles that are beyond comparison. All of my kids have been loving & affectionate, but Bradlee has to be the BEST snuggle-bunny on earth. I KNOW these days are fleeting quickly, so I'm soaking in each and every one of them! However, you just never know what his little brain is going to send to his little mouth and he is absolutely the one that will tell you what he is thinking and has yet to learn "political correctness". I envision lots of apologies in our future! After he had informed me of his inability to sleep and had his precious snuggle time, he asked me a question. "Mom, mom, mom......what are those lines on your forehead?" He proceeded to point out the ones on my nose and then started counting the ones around my eyes. That was so thoughtful of him!!!! I always wondered how many I had :) He then decided to inform that he couldn't make his face do it. I told him he was the cause of lots of those lines because mommy was getting old and tired. He said.....NOPE.....you said I made your hair mess up (in other words, he's been told often that he was giving me my gray hairs!). Well, not the best start to the morning self-esteem wise, but it got a good laugh and ended up in a tickle war (which I'm ALWAYS the winner!). I guess that makes all those lines & gray hairs WORTH it!

It's just extremely important right now to remember that EVERYTHING we say, we do, or we expose him to is being soaked up like a sponge. This is the most crucial time to make sure that we go above and beyond to make sure that only GOOD & PURE things are around him. Even when we think he isn't paying attention, HE IS! WE have to guard his heart with our choices of music (thank heavens for WBGL!), the shows we watch (even when it's Disney or Nickelodeon), the books we read, the people around him, our treatment of each other, etc... It's always important, but no time is more important in that area than RIGHT now. I wish I had more time & energy to REALLY work with him more while his little mind is exploding since he is so incredibly smart! What I have to remember is that EVERY little song he sings & Bible story he hears IS soaking in and preparing a way for a deeper relationship with Christ in the future. He's been proud to tell EVERYONE the meaning of Easter. In his words, Easter is about Jesus. He died on the cross & came back to life. Why? Because he loves us SOOOOOOOO much and wants us in heaven with him. Granted, he's left out a few steps, but he got the most important ones!!!!! We barely get out the door of his church classrooms before he is telling us ALL about the story he heard. Even yesterday at Parent's Morning Out, he came home talking all about David and Goliath. It really warmed my heart to know that he IS getting JUST as much out of those 2.5 hours a week as I am.

I can't wait to see what the future holds for this little guy. I KNEW from the first second I held him that he was going to do something amazing with his life. My first thought after holding him was "MOUNTAIN MOVER". I don't know what mountains he will move, but I know they will be huge! I just have to remember to do everything I can to give him the opportunities to grow & learn AND to make sure that he finds his GODLY PURPOSE. Fortunately, I know I CAN NOT do it on my own, but I do know WHO can. GOD fills in where we lack and he puts special people around us to help us along the way. Thank you to all of those that are positively shaping our children's lives NOW and in the FUTURE!