Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Walking in Faith or Stepping in Doubts?

Often times I write posts that leave me well on the vulnerable side, but I do it anyway. With shaking hands and a quivering heart.

This posts definitely ranks up there in terms of vulnerability and honesty.

In honor of authentic and reality....

Here goes.

I want to walk in faith.  THAT is the way of those that are spiritual strong, right?

Truthfully, I'm stepping in doubt. 

Deep in doubt.

I don't like it one little bit!

Here is the thing:

We feel like we've been called to foreign missions.  Specifically orphan care.

See, did you catch those words? wasn't initially intentional, but I caught it as I typed it.

"feel like"

Not even bold enough in faith to say, "We ARE called.  We ARE claiming our call."

Nope, I worded it with doubt. 

Lack of faith.

Originally, in the neighborhood of 10-12 years old, I strongly felt the calling to work in orphan care.  At that time, it was specifically in Honduras because of some missionary leaders that were influential on my life.  I went through my teen years and early adulthood with that "bug". 

Now, the call is the same, but the location is different. 

Our hearts scream Africa.  Our hearts whisper Africa.

We don't know why.  We don't know where.  We don't know when.

But, oh, the doubts....

Why me?  Why us? 

What do we have to offer? 

We don't possess any special skills.  We don't have any unique talents.  We don't have any special degrees.  We aren't ministers.  We don't have any ministry training.  We don't have any language training.  (Well, unless you count the three years of high school Spanish that didn't even give me much help in teaching Adriana her first year of Spanish! Ha.  That doesn't help!)

Yet, our hearts still whisper "Go".

All I have to offer is my EXTREME passion and love for children.  Specifically for those that are abandoned and need TRUE love. 

Faith says that is enough. 

Doubts say:  I'm crazy.

Financially we laugh.  It's been a life-time of barely squeaking by.  Yes, we are one tiny step away from being debt free.  We don't own a home to sell.  That could be seen as a positive or a negative.  Having moved so many times in our marriage and facing the devastation of a home not selling when a job sends you 100s of miles away leaves scars.  It financially scars and it definitely left some dings to our pride and spiritual health.  It took a VERY long time to heal those wounds.  We have chosen not to buy a home since living here because we were not sure that God had that in our plans right now.  We don't have deep pocketed family members and friends.  We don't have a long list of people to financially support.  Gosh, we are very quickly approaching a child in college!  Desiring to live across the globe would be financial suicide.  Right?


Or maybe it's the door God has been waiting for us to open. 

Isn't it crazy to consider something so huge, when we are not even seasoned travelers? Four of us don't even have passports!

What about our children? 

Is this something that is right for them.  Or would it be creating a life-time of scars? Of course, any of you that personally know our daughter and her heart, you know that it would be fulfilling a life-time dream for her!

What about their educations?  The benefit of having home educated since the beginning is a definite pro here, but at the same time it's terrifying.  "Here" we have accountability, opportunities, and more access than we ever dreamed to technology and support.  "There"?  I can't answer that.

What if, it's not really our calling.  What if it's only a desire? 

What if?  What if? What if?

My list could truly fill pages. 

What if by some miracle we found a way to go and then we hated it?  Just being honest.  What if, after all of the years of dreaming, it happened and then all of sudden the dream was crushed because of the realization it wasn't truly a calling?

What about personality wise? 

Aside from my love and passion for writing what is on my heart, I'm a complete introvert!  We aren't talking about stepping slightly out of our comfort zones.  We are talking about taking the box, picking it up and destroying it beyond recognition.  I can have a full-blown panic attack just at the thought of praying out loud or talking to a SMALL group. 

God gave Moses his brother Aaron when he used that same excuse. I know that there is one situation that changes my introverted qualities.  That is simply putting me in a room with children. 

Faith says: God can provide. 

Faith says: God equips those He calls.

Faith says: God can do far beyond what our minds can conceive.

Doubts say:  not for us.  Maybe He does for others.  Just not us.

Doubts say:  the timing is wrong.  It's either too late or it's something FAR in the future.

Faith says: Everything is perfect in His timing.

I desire to walk in faith.  Yet, the doubts are so much louder. 

I want to find a way to bridge the doubts to faith.  A bridge that steadies my feet.  A bridge that allows my heart to only hear the voice of my heavenly father. 

We don't have much to offer.  Yet, we have abundant love and a willingness to serve. 

We just need God to say: when, where, and how. 

Yet, that's a very dangerous prayer to pray unless we truly are willing. 

To be honest, maybe we've been holding back those prayers out of our own lack of faith.  Our own doubts. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spiritual & Physical Health

Exercise is not something I've been consistent about EVER in my 38 years of life.  "Real" exercise that is. 


However, I'm on a quest to make it reality.  For the last couple of months, it has become a habit that I've not been able to skip. 


The benefits are visible.  The benefits can be felt physically.  They are obviously making an internal difference. 


I probably could have gone for more years without it. 


My life would be shorter.  My health would be poor.  My quality of life would be less. 




I could probably do without it.


Until the day I died.  That day may just have come sooner.  (Pardon the morbidity, but it's the honest truth.)


A shower after exercising---ok, after REAL exercise---may not be a necessity for life, but it is a necessity.


It washes away the filth and toxins.

It relaxes sore muscles.

It gives me a chance to catch my breath.

It gives me a few minutes to take advantage of the clarity of mind that comes after a good workout and prioritize the needs of the day.


Exercise has a parallel to my spiritual life and the way I spend one-on-one time with God in a personal, intimate relationship.

Without it I can live.

However, my quality of life will suffer.

Just like a shower after exercising, spending time with Him is beneficial.

He washes away the toxins, the smell, and the sin.  Only He can do that.

It gives me a chance to catch my breath. Focusing on Him takes so much of my focus off of me.

It gives me clarity of mind. He listens and speaks. He gives me the rest my soul needs. 

Without that time:  I stink.  I'm walking around in my own filth. I can't think.  I'm off balance.  I can't focus.  I can't truly rest.  I can't grow stronger.  I can't even handle the normal daily activities, much less be prepared for things that are difficult.  Just as weak muscles and poor cardio health can't handle daily demands, much less times of stress or extra activity.

Any time you add in an extra activity or make something a priority, it's very easy to find that something else falls down the list. 

I realize today that my spiritual needs are slipping. 

I still pray.  I still read my Bible.  I still do a devotional.  I still write and memorize scripture.  I spend time in worship.

However, it's rushed.
It's more as a check-list.
I'm not giving myself the freedom to get "lost" in His word or studying with the same intensity.

I feel like I'm getting in that high intensity workout, but going through my day without a shower.
I'm getting the job done, but I'm not giving myself the full benefits!

I'm greatly struggling with some issues.  Satan has really been edging his way in to my weaknesses and taking that little door I'm giving him and letting the wedge grow.  I'm not letting my mind be transformed as I know I should be---I'm just squeaking by.

I'm not giving up the physical exercise even though it takes an hour and a half out of my day from start to finish.

I just have to find a new balance.  That tends to be an area I struggle with. 

It may simply just be a matter of focus.  No matter how much time I spend with Him, if my heart isn't fully attentive, I'm really wasting my time.  If I'm just going through the motions, no one benefits.

It may be a matter of cutting something else short or giving up something else. 

Whatever the solution may be:  I have to find it. 

Spiritual health matters.  Physical health matters.  I need both. 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Audience of One

As I've been doing a lot of soul searching and direction seeking in recent weeks/months, I keep coming back to the questions of:

What are your priorities?

Why do you do what you do?

Most importantly:  who do you do it for?

Though I've been reflective and answering those questions in regards to different aspects and situations in life right now, this post focusing on *this*.


Where does it rank in priorities, why do I do it, and who do I do it for?

I think those are very relevant questions.

I've had multiple opportunities lately to take this little place I write what's on my heart and expand it EXPONENTIALLY. It's been tempting. 

Suggestions of how to make my numbers explode and grow and the tools to do it. 

Link up with some very prominent, wide-reaching blogs to bring more viewers. 

Use the platform of the recent book launch I've been a part of.

Review multiple products and give-a-ways-----especially many that don't really have relevance to what I find important right now. 

Design changes.  Direct web address. Media packages and tool kits.



Require "likes" on facebook, following  on twitter, sharing on google +, feedburner subscriptions, etc... for entries in give-a-ways to build up readership. 

Plain and simple.  Adamantly....NO!

That is not my goal. 

Numbers aren't my goal.

Yes, I do get excited with new followers, comments, and individual posts that get a large number of hits. 

Once upon a time, I did see goals of growing and really taking off in blog world.

Yet, that's not my goal any longer.

I don't want numbers just to have numbers.  I don't want a follower or "like" to come from someone to win something and never to return.

I want relationship.

Because I write for an audience of one.

I write and share my heart as a ministry.

For HIM.

To share HIM.

Through my failures, triumphs, and heart:  I want my words to reflect HIM.

He's my audience. 

He's my why. 

He's my who.

To encourage other moms/women to pursue biblical motherhood/marriage.  To inspire others to seek Him. 

It's not about being noticed.  It's not about numbers.  It's not about linking with this group or that group.  (Though none of these things are wrong in the right perspective!).

It's about the individual who needs encouragement or reaches out for prayer because she doesn't know where else to turn.

It's about the mom who needs to know that it's ok to be struggling in her marriage or in her parenting and to realize she absolutely isn't alone.

It's about authentic relationship, one-on-one. 

I'm MORE than content with the 1,000 of you that read each month.  I'm happy on days when that number is only one----my husband.  :) 

Because it's about sharing my heart. 

Colossians 3:17 says: "And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father." It goes on to say in verses 23,24: "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ."

Many months ago, a respected blogger that I admire struggled with losing the proper perspective in blogging as her numbers rapidly grew and readership took off like a rocket ship.  She didn't want the "why" and "who" to get lost. 

She reached my heart with the words: "I hope you forget me. I hope you forget my face, forget my name. In a world of self-promotion and blogging platforms, prizes and accolades for biggest and best, I hope when you leave this blog you forget me, but remember Him."

To me, those words stuck and have continued to minister to my heart many, many months after reading them.

I want my words to be a reflection of Him and for Him.  Forget me.  Remember Him. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One Verse: Finding Light

"Life" has been a bit of a challenge recently.  My heart has been struggling with some very heavy issues, burdens, and situations that seem impossible.  It has also been beyond amazing.  In some areas of life, I've never felt more alive, full of joy and have never seen God work so vividly.

Bouncing back and forth between those two emotions has left me feeling like I'm on a roller coaster.  I HATE roller coasters.  I'll gladly encourage and support family members as they ride them (which means I'll gladly hold their drinks, phones, sunglasses, bags, etc.!), but for me....NO WAY!

During this struggle recently with hard issues, there has been this incessant reminder of other dark times.  I guess it's best described as a nagging fear.

When will I break down and let the weight of life crush?

When will I fall prey to the depression that robbed so much from myself and our family a few years ago?

THAT is what nags.  Like a dripping faucet.


Even though I've fought that battle so hard and finally feel victorious in regards to knowing that I won't go back to that deep abyss, I still have an irrational fear that every little down day is a sign that darkness awaits.

THAT is satan.

That is his attempt to knock me down and to use it as a way in to control my emotions.

I most definitely have things I regret from that time period. 

But here is TRUTH.

God convicts.  Satan condemns.

It took me a long time to understand the difference. 

God convicts me to do things differently.  Yet, he doesn't condemn.  He gives victory.

Satan also knows what weaknesses haunt us the most and twists those to his advantage.  He knows the more he can keep our eyes off of Christ, the more chance he can get wedged in our lives.

The victory is that he holds NO power against us when we live in Christ Jesus.  Oh yes, he can attempt.  But we HOLD THE POWER.

Earlier this week, as I've been struggling with such heavy issues and praying that He will help keep my eyes on Him during it all, I had a reminder from Him.

He brought me through the deepest, darkest times.  Times of TRUE depression.  A time that I will NEVER return to.  A few hard days here and there are NOT indicative of that deep, overpowering darkeness.

We often laugh at how God reaches my heart at the craziest moments and most "odd" ways.

Once again, He got my attention in an unusual manner.

In the shower.  In the dark.

Many months ago, through much trial and error, I discovered that the wee ones that I provide childcare for sleep the best in our master bathroom.  It is the darkest and quietest spot in the house! (Well, until you try to spend three minutes alone in there.  You moms know that is exactly when the kids decide they need you or that EVERYTHING is an emergency!).  We call the bathroom the "cave" when referring to naptime with the babies.  I am a PRO at popping up and down playpens for sleeping.  I think I can do it in 5 seconds flat with one hand! (Ok---that might be a very slight exaggeration.  VERY slight!).  It may not be the most perfect location for naps, but it works.  I don't run a daycare.  I just keep little ones in our home and they are part of us.  I don't have separate areas for them.  They just become part of us and we make what we have work for the situation.

This sleeping situation works well. 

Well, until I started using naptime as the time that I get in a workout.  Which means, during naptime, this mom MUST get a shower. 

I learned that as long as the lights stay completely off, I can get a shower without waking a little one.  Turn on a light and nap is over. 

Just like with many other things, you learn to adapt.  Make things work even if it isn't the perfect or ideal you have in your head.

One day last week, shortly after praying that God would help me to overcome this nagging fear of going back to OVERWHELMING, DEBILITATING depression, He reached me in that dark shower.

In the pitch black, I saw just a tiny sliver of light.  Barely noticeable.  So very faint that I almost missed it.

Yet, as I began to focus on that light, trying to figure out where it was coming from it grew brighter.  Though in actuality, it wasn't physically getting brighter. It was just snuffing out the dark.

Just like when you light a single candle or match in a dark room, that light becomes brighter as your eyes adjust.  When the flame first flickers it doesn't make much of a difference, but as your eyes adjust the light begins to overtake the darkness.

I finally discovered that sliver of light was coming from the drain pipe.  The lights were on in our unfinished basement and the light shining on the pipe was JUST enough to give it a slight glow.

In the darkness, you CLING to the light.

God reminded my heart that I came out of that darkness because I clung to Him.  I searched for light.  I sought it out. 

Even when there was MUCH more darkness than light, I found ways to  let my eyes adjust to just a faint sliver of light until it got brighter and brighter. 

I have no need to fear. 

His light will always be in front of me: IF I LOOK for it! 

Just like taking a shower in the dark requires some adaptations to make it work, life during dark times takes adaptations. 

Keep it simple. Stick to habits that you know work in your situation.

To shower in the dark, I leave things lined up and in specific spots.  I know what my bottle of shampoo feels like versus conditioner.  I know what my face soap feels like versus body wash.  I keep my razor on the right and Kevin's on the left. 

In life, you keep things simple.  You give yourself grace to accept that you need help.  You stick to basics.  Cereal for dinner won't scar your children for life!  It's ok to say no to extra activities. 

Most importantly, you find light and cling to it.  Give those little slivers of light a chance to get brighter.  Trust me, I know that there are times finding even the slightest light in your life is hard because your eyes are only used to seeing darkness.  It may only be a small flame.  It may not be enough to light your entire life, but you still focus on it. 

Someone's encouraging words.  Something beautiful and calming to look at.  A song that gives you peace and hope.  An inspirational book/blog/speaker. 

Scripture.  Scripture. Scripture.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

Even when you don't have the words to pray (which happened to me VERY often), God saw and heard my words through my tears and desperation. 

I recently heard some advice during an online workshop with Lysa TerKeurst.  What she said made amazing sense and I didn't realize until then that it is EXACTLY what I did during my darkest times and how effective it was.

When you are struggling with hard things and ESPECIALLY depression, the smallest tasks are overwhelming.  (This is also great advice for moms with small children or multiple children and you are absolutely exhausted, busy, and overwhelmed!).  Reading and memorizing scripture can seem daunting. 

One verse. 

It's all it takes. 

Every day focus on one verse.  Choose a verse that is encouraging or gives you hope.  Choose a promise that applies to your situation.  Choose a verse that keeps your heart focused on truth.  Whatever is needed for YOU, today!

Focus on it.  Pray it.  Memorize it.  Visualize it. Write it.  Leave it around to see. Repeat it over and over as many times each day as you need to. 

Keep it simple. 

You don't have to memorize passages.  You don't have to read chapters.  Oh yes---it is wonderful on the days that you can.  Those days DO feed your soul, but some days....

One verse. 

One promise.

One truth. 

Let it be the flicker of light.  Let it be what your eyes adjust to.  Let it become your life-line. 

My heart needed the reminder in the dark of the shower with the faintly glowing pipe that I can cling to the light.  He was there in the darkest of times.  He is there now when I fear going back because of some hard things going in life. 

I'm confident that I'm not going back.  But I know someone reading is STILL there.  I've talked to many women lately that are deep in the trenches of the battle.  I just want to say, don't give up.  Keep clinging to any bits of light you can find.  Don't focus on the darkness.  Focus on the light.  That light WILL get brighter.  The light WILL drown out the darkness.  From personal experience, I know it will.  Circumstances and heartache are still real and life will not be perfect, but the light will get brighter!  Just don't stop looking for it.  Please, don't stop!