Friday, October 6, 2017

The Word, The Life, The Light, The Lamb

I love the first chapter of John. It is a passage that is absolutely rich with The Word and why it is so important for us.

John 1

In this first chapter, we are told that The Word (Christ) has been with us since the beginning of time, that nothing was made without him, that indeed he is The Life and that The Life was The Light of men. He shines in the darkness....AND THE DARKNESS CANNOT OVERCOME IT.

So Jesus has been part of the picture since the beginning. He was not a backup plan God created to fix a situation that went awry. He was there when God was creating us and this beautiful world.  When the whole debacle in the garden happened, God was not surprised. He made a way.

Enter hundreds of years later - John the Baptist heralding the coming of The Word in flesh. in verse 8 we are told John came to bear witness about The Light.

It goes on to tell us that Jesus is the true light which gives light to everyone and the world was made through him but did not know him. He came of his own accord to his own people who refused him, but to all who did receive them - he gave the right to become children of God.

So then and there John (the Apostle - not the Baptist) gives us the reason he wrote the book. To show us The Light. To show us that there is life through understanding. John the Baptist then proclaims Jesus's purpose - The Lamb. "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". Then and there God's provision is made known. Christ was sent as a sacrifice to be the ultimate offering for sin. The completer of the plan.

The Gospel is an amazing thing when we take it in on a daily basis. There is a supernatural lifting of the mind and spirit from a place that is low to a place that is much higher than I can be on my own.

The Gospel shines a light on our sin - making us aware of our need of a Savior and then actually providing salvation from the eternal death sin brings.

Jesus is The Word - the explanation for a world that needed vision into their darkness. God provided The Light and thereby the solution which was the ultimate sacrifice of The Lamb of God that brings us - The Life - which is enjoying fellowship with him and his son both now and forever.

So beautiful. So necessary.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More Gliding - Less Slogging

So a few months ago I said I would revisit what things are needed keep away from what I like to call "slogging".

Slogging happens when we allow ourselves to get bogged down in the cares of this life.

For a Christian that generally means putting things ahead of God. It can mean worrying more about what your house looks like than what your soul looks like. For me - it generally means I have taken the reins away from God and am resolved to do it on my own. I like it that way. Problem is - it never works.

I compare it to my manic depressive episodes. I have never been diagnosed. But I know that I have some naturally occurring highs and lows. My grandmother was definitely manic depressive and I know what it looks like. I wonder if I will land there some day - but - until then I have chosen to deal with it the healthiest way possible. But as usual - I digress. My highs I feel GREAT. I take on everything. I am all things to all people. I am creative and productive and a bubbling, sparkling source of encouragement until I am not. I hit the skids and I stop - full out stop. I let down whatever things I was going to do, I let down my family by backing into a corner and I am no longer the sparkling, bubby thing I was just days before. I drop out of life. I can no longer cope. I can hardly get up to manage my household. I do, and I go to work and I love on my people but I am not my best when I get home. Usually I am the worst - because I have given it all away during the day and have nothing left for my family.

I have such guilt.

And I quit volunteering for things. I quit participating in things. Because I feel like such an ass that I just leave people hanging. It is hard to give explanations as to why you have come to a point where you feel you can no longer function. I hate to tell people the whole sordid story. It is embarrassing. Mainly because if you start talking to me and I am honest - I cry. I HATE to cry. Let me just reiterate what I just said...I cannot say it clear enough...I HATE TO CRY. And there for a while it's all I did. And it just made me more miserable. I could not explain it to my husband. I could not explain it to the people who saw me at church. I was sad. Soul wrenchingly sad. And I couldn't really tell you why.

It has gotten better. Some of it I do believe is nutrition and since I have started drinking Shakeology every day, I find I am better. But I still feel the gentle highs and lows. It is a way of life. I long for the manic times though. I love them. But I can't seem to have them without also having the lows.

I long for more gliding - less slogging.

I glide best when I do a few important things:

Stay in the Word.
Pray without ceasing.
Actively seek to serve others before myself
Separate from negative influences - that's people, media, or things, peeps
Make a plan (that is manage my time well - the HARDEST)

I said I would revisit these back when I wrote this: The Sun Rises, The Rain Falls

So  over the next few days I am going to ponder why staying in the Word is so important, and why it seems to relieve me of my tendency to slog.

The Parable of the Sower is my first example of why it is so important to be in God's Word.

Click the link above to read.

The Parable of the Sower is a wonderful illustration of why the Word of God is so important. It gives us deep nutrition so when the pressures of life cause us to want to wither and fall away, we stand firm - even flourish. When in the Word we absorb the strength to withstand that pressure. I want the things that I do each day to mean something - to land somewhere and take root and stand whatever thing that comes up against me. God's Word gives me that ability .

Blessings

Sunday, October 1, 2017

So Life....

It happens - you know it. I know it.

It is not a bowl of cherries. There is a reason for that. And even as I know this reason, I still struggle with the difficult stuff.

I have so much to be thankful for. And so many things that absolutely take my breath away - in a good way.

And then there are the hard things...things that absolutely take my breath away - in a bad way. And I am not thankful. I am - well - I am totally pissed.

Every day I try to trust and weary not. And to be honest with you this last week I just gave up. I didn't even try. And it was a horrible week. I felt terrible, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I hated my job. I resented my husband and my kids and I wanted to climb into my bed in the fetal position for the first time in maybe 2 years.

And I sound like a total whiny baby. I'm feeling sorry for myself. I hate that.





This picture is of a note I had written - maybe three weeks ago? The top part - I had just prayed that God would help me be happy with HIS choices for my life and to trust HIM through good and bad.

Seriously - not two hours after writing this, sewage backed up into my basement. I was cleaning poop up at 11:00 PM and trying to figure out what to do.

The part underlined in green is what I wrote after this happened. hahahaha! Seriously - it was funny.

3 days and $1200 later we get the septic tank and the pipe cleared and we are good again. God totally helped me and I moved on with strength and very little whining.

A week later I get a call from my brother that Dad has cancer again. This is his 4th bout. I knew it was a possibility. I knew that it could happen. But I was stunned and sad and frankly - at a loss. I prayed. But it was just hitting the ceiling and coming back to me - or it felt that way anyway. That is when I quit doing what I know I need to do. I quit reading my Bible. I quit praying - except in this superficial way (clearly thinking it would do no good). I quit eating  right (trying anyway) and I quit exercising. I quit cleaning my house. I quit taking care of my face and hair. Was I depressed? No...really - not. I just felt like it was all useless.

Now a week later I am coming to see that I am very wrong in my failure to keep on doing what I know I am supposed to do.

I feel terrible. And worse than that - I feel buried. Like I am behind. And I won't be able to catch up. And my spirit is out of step with God and it is lonesome.

So I figure there are a couple of things I can do about this. I can allow this to spiral downward - to become an even worse problem. Or I can stop it right here and do what I know to be right.

So that is what I am going to do.

I am squaring my shoulders. Making my food plan for the week. Pulling out my notebook that holds my prayer requests and notes on what I am reading and I am going to set my alarm to wake myself at 4:30AM going to bed promptly at 9:00PM so I will get up and exercise, read and take care of my face and hair. And I am going to pursue God while I help others and pray fervently for Dad and call Mom and encourage her and I will do it all through the strength of God.

Because - I cannot.

Without God I cannot.

No matter how many times I square my shoulders and pull out my notebook and make my plans...I will always plummet to the "vanity of vanities - all is vanity". Useless. It is all useless.

Except for - the one who called me is faithful - and

Philippians 1:6 [Full Chapter]
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

This is where I must lay my burden. Because without Christ - it truly is useless. And he will be faithful to complete what he began in me. This life that knocks the life out of me is HIS. I cannot manage it. I try. Lord knows I do. But He doesn't want me to. He wants me to live it through Him. 

He reminds me every day. 

I have to believe it and do it. The strength will be there when I need it...and it will be there for you too when you need it.

Blessings



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Sun Rises the Rain Falls...

There is a battle I face every day. The older I get, the more aware of it I become. The difficulties, the triumphs I have always absorbed as my own. I use the term oxymoronic SO much these days. I am an earthly vessel full of opposing forces.

Social media has made me more aware of the difficulties and the triumphs in so many people's lives. I have taken this information and found myself lacking, thankful - and even prideful. Once again - absorbing it all as my own.

But by God's grace this summer, my thought processes have taken a new direction.

I have grieved over children sleeping on dirt floors and their little tummies clenching in hunger. I have also been grateful that my own are not in such a place. I have been jealous of people and their amazing ability to go and do and see. And a little perplexed at my own inability to. I have been proud of my abilities and my children's abilities and have bragged ad nauseum. Sometimes it was subtle...sometimes not so much.

But what has been going through my head consistently lately is this verse:

Matthew 5: 43-45 (NIV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy'.44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

These verses come from The Sermon on the Mount - the famous Beatitudes.

It is nothing that these children have done that have placed them in need; it is nothing that I have done that has placed me in a better situation than them. It is nothing my friends have done that have placed them in a better situation than me. It is neither because I am deserving or undeserving that I have more than some - less than others. It is a world condition.

My response to this will be productive - or unproductive.

By the Holy Spirit's guidance, I have come to the conclusion that there are things in my reach that I can do to find a balance between all of these things. Will it solve my pride, my jealousy, my envy, my less than lovely ways? No...those things will be a fight for the rest of the time I have on this earth. I will always have to reposition myself before God and confess these icks. But instead of wallering (that's wallowing y'all) I will focus on what I can do each day to serve God and others well. I have to break it down because I get easily overwhelmed but I see things that need to be done to serve where I am. And it keeps me balanced.

Simplified the list is:

Stay in the Word.
Pray without ceasing.
Actively seek to serve others before myself
Separate from negative influences - that's people, media, or things, peeps
Make a plan

I am aware that my acronym spells out spasm...which is unfortunate in some respects....but maybe by practicing these things I can make it like a spasm eventually...something that occurs involuntarily.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to visit each one of the above practices in depth to flesh out what they will look like in my life.

I have been working to create a brand this summer: several streams of income that will serve my family while we are in these expensive college years, while also allowing me to pursue what I feel God has called me to. I love to write. I love to create. I love to help others. PajamaMama has been the kernel of an idea that - God willing - will grow to serve God, my family and others well. I am constantly having to find a balance between the now and not yet, the why's and why nots, God's will or not. It can be a little confusing.

I suppose the one thing I can take from this is that nothing is firm save Jesus. He is the foundation on which I will SEEK to lay each one of the blocks of my efforts. My dependence is on Christ alone. And I will constantly have to give my own independence over to HIM. This is another thing that has been part of this summer. Learning that it is not all on me. It is a blessed safe haven to be relieved of the burdens I have placed upon myself. I will just keep walking and placing my foot through the door that is open to me. My security lies in the fact that if I stay in the Word and prayer, that anything that happens will lead me closer to God. This is indeed an exciting journey!






Friday, July 21, 2017

What I have learned this summer...

I have learned a lot this summer.

I have learned -again- that I am indeed a sinner that is prone to wander no matter the circumstances. It is exhausting when I try to live in my own strength. I just cannot do it. Well...graciously...really - it's just a train wreck.

I have learned that my best feature is my faith. Believe it or not - though my faith is weak - I tend to believe things that many doubt. This faith that is given to me, and to every human on this earth is a gift from God.  My faith has been placed in many wrong things over the years, causing me to falter and fall. I have placed my faith in friends, money, my own abilities - and every single one of those things have let me down at one point or another. I have let it cause me to be bitter and drag around a burden that was not meant for me to carry.

God has something better.

I have learned that my boys - all three of them - in spite of me, have grown into young men that I am incredibly proud of. How did this happen? The grace of God. There is nothing in me that can make these boys be what they need to be. Can I help? Yes. And I should. Am I perfect? Sadly no. But if you read all of the articles that are posted on Facebook and circulating the web, you would think it was all up to us and the amount of TV and sugar and devices we do or don't let our kids indulge in. But it is not.

Of course there are things we need to do to raise our children well and we try to give them the tools they need to be successful. In the end though my trust has to be in God and not in anything I can give them. They are a work of the divine hand of God working through me to make them what He needs them to be.

I have learned that kids are kids. They are not always a reflection of what I am, or what I have taught them...and yet - they are. One of the most encouraging things I have come to understand over the years is that kids will grow out of the stupid things they say. The first set of students I discipled said and did some stupid things sometimes. I didn't worry about it at the time - #1 they weren't my children #2 I was also very young. But I heard adults that were leaders in the church say some things that I found wounded me, and would certainly hurt these kids we worked so hard to support in their journey to know God. What I have come to understand as an adult is that I cannot allow myself to think less of these kids because of what they say now. I have thought the same things as an adult about my own children, and other students I work with, that if voiced out loud could be hurtful. But God has allowed me to see those kids I disciple 20 + years ago that said stupid things, grow up into amazing adults that have poured themselves into other students and their own children  - full of the GRACE of God. These kids I work with at the high school now (my own babies included) will grow up and start doing and saying stupid things less. I say less because I still say and do stupid things. I will not judge. When I think, "What a bonehead", I immediately follow it up with, "thank God they will grow out of it". And I mean it. And most of them will - due to God's grace and maybe even God's grace through me - so it causes me to "not grow weary in well doing" (Gal. 6:9).

I have learned that I can trust God each day to take care of my needs. When I purposefully make the decision to...and I have to do it minute by minute on some days, because my control fer-REAK ways want to run in and do what I think is best. God has protected me from myself...sometimes in ways that actually scared me more for a night as I wrestled over why this way wouldn't work. I woke up with faith that GOD had this. I had been given the solution to my worries and that was to trust God day by day, moment by moment.

And I will need this. I will have to remind myself of this - over and over again this year because...I have twin boys that are seniors and they are uncertain where they want to go. And I want to know now. I want the finances ironed out now and I want not to have to think about it anymore.

But that is not how God has chosen to work this scenario out...so wait I must.

Isaiah 40:31 [Full Chapter]
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I am counting on this. 






Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence

So coming up on Independence Day 2017 I have been thinking.

Independence is a glorious thing. Our nation is founded on a rich history of a people who desired to be independent and make a nation based on freedom. I love the 4th of July. I find that it causes me to value my freedom even more. We are a blessed nation. Sadly, many times
we do not realize it. Our freedoms cause us to distance ourselves instead of being bound together through our patriotism. We have become a nation divided by our points of view, thinking that our own opinion means more than someone else's.

So sad. Heartbreaking. We are a people that should be united through our diversity. It is what makes this country unique.

But - that kind of freedom is not what I am thinking of this morning.

My own independence is what I am thinking about. I am a stubborn little so and so when it comes to doing it my way. I am like a two year old - I want to do it all by myself.

My struggle for independence will continually be a sin I have to ask forgiveness for.

It comes from a heart that doesn't fully comprehend how bad I really am. My stance before Christ is generally one of - "I got this". It makes me feel accomplished. Whole. Invincible. Proud of my abilities. I am woman, hear me roar and all that stuff.

I have a thing - probably deep in my genes - the desire of my forefathers to be self-sustaining. I think the reason I love The Walking Dead so much is how they have to become self-sustaining in a world that no longer has rules. Or grocery stores. I love the ingenuity the end of times seems to bring out in people. Thank the LORD that it is just a show though.

I have issues. I admit it.

When I look back at the many times I have taken on things and done them without relying on my Heavenly Father, I can see how I made a mess of things. I do have regrets - and yet - I will always revert back to "I GOT THIS".

I am a fool.

I desperately want to be the best I can be because of me. I don't want to rely on God. Or my husband. Or anyone. I want to be fulfilled through the brilliance of me. Sadly, I cannot be what I need to be. I have proven, as I said before, time and time again that my own decision making paradigm is sadly off kilter.

My own accomplishments are better seated when built on the foundation of Christ and His wisdom. So this is a battle I will fight the rest of my life. I will wake up, ask God to give me the strength to depend on Him and to rely on His leading. Will I do it every day? Nope. Will I try? Yes! I will continue to build those faith muscles by continuing to turn my eyes on Jesus.

Otherwise I am doomed to one big, bad conundrum after another.

And no one wants that.

Happy Independence Day! ;)

PSALM 25
In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.
I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.



Monday, July 3, 2017

Overwhelmed

[original posting August 2016]

So the summer - not the heat and the sun - but the fun of freedom and the knowledge that you can sleep late if you want to...well that is all coming to an end. School starts for me next week.

The blessing of knowing I love what I do, where I work and the people I work with is a comfort. So I am happy to go back. But I also mourn the idea of what I wanted to happen didn't really happen.

I wanted to accomplish SO much more.

But of course life, being what it is - things happened that caused some detours. But all in all it was a good summer. I think part of the problem is I am trying to learn how to break the list of things down in my head. I am 50. I should already know how to do that right?
My list is absolutely overwhelming. And instead of compartmentalizing and breaking it down in to doable moments, the myriad of things to do fly through my brain in the early morning hours and cause me to want to disconnect.  If I don't find a way to refocus and funnel those thoughts through a filter that allows me to focus, I end up watching TV or getting on Facebook.

That will not do.

So I make lists of everything I need to do. In the morning I have learned to take the list and break it down to things I can accomplish that day. I place them in my Reminders for the day (in my iPhone). My reminder comes up at about 8:00. I then check off what I got done. It is highly satisfying.

Also - did you know that exercise helps you focus better? It can take care of some of this adult onset ADD I have acquired here in my 2nd half century.



I have found that planning - as much as I hate it - helps me be a much more productive person. That means planning meals, planning my exercise, planning my activities for the day.

This also helps me with depression. This is nothing new. Exercise, nutrition and being fairly organized can help me manage my depression very well.

I do give myself a day off.  Sundays are off the table. I go to church, worship with my brothers and sisters - my fellow body of believers and I make lunch. The rest of the day is mine. I can lay on the couch and watch old movies or whatever. I have asked my 4 boys to let me have this day. They have kindly agreed.

I would love ideas to help me stay on track. What do you do to keep from being inundated by the dailies?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I only thought I was laid back....

Not so much. I have a deep seated need to

CONTROL THINGS

I am a control freak. I want to keep it all under my thumb. And I find that I am under major stress when I cannot do so. And the inner turmoil overflows and goes out to anyone who crosses my path. This is not the pretty me. This is the needy, whiny, annoying me. I do not like that particular part of me. I have been a closet control freak up until the last year.

It has gotten so much worse.

Example: A few weeks ago my boys had MPA's (music assessments) that they missed a half a day for. That night they went to Disney with the band and missed Thursday and Friday of school, got home Sunday morning at 6:00 AM and had to go to the school's musical practice which would open the following Friday night. They had practice every night from 3:30 - 9:30. They were tired. They were overwhelmed with work they had missed. They have 2 AP courses a piece plus honor band weekends coming up...and another ACT test. Not to mention it was the end of the quarter and one of them had a letter grade I cannot even say out loud. And to those of you who read this who were part of it - and heard my freakish tirades - please forgive me.

I was a mess. Of course I was sorry for them. This is too much for them to bear! Mama was going crazy. I voiced my fears to the assistant principal. Then to the band director. And pretty much to everyone who would listen to me. I was about to have a nervous breakdown. I wanted to fix it all. Give them more time. Move the musical (ha - as if). I wanted to blame people. It was all so unfair!

I had sound advice. This is good for them. Great life lesson. Life will be packed and they will have to put their nose to the grind stone and slug it out...yes - I heard it all. I felt I knew these things, but it didn't help. I was a wreck that week.

They did great. Yes it was hard. Yes they were exhausted. They recovered. All that energy I spent - the angst. Not to mention making myself look like a blooming idiot to all of the people I admired and respected. So ridiculous!

Oh well.

Lesson learned.

It was good for them. They managed just fine and I came through - somewhat smarter for the experience.

Since then, upon occasion I have reflected on my maniacal behavior. I have never considered myself a control freak. I am not a helicopter mom. I tend to be fairly laid back. That has all changed lately. I would like to say it is menopause. But though I understand that can in fact make you crazy, I do not believe that is what is happening here.

This may seem like a digression - but stay with me - I have a point

I see the Pampers commercials. The one where the mom is holding her newborn and kissing those sweet little rosebud lips and so emotional - the sweet feet and hands. I tear up. Every time. That is by far my favorite era of life so far. Being home with my babies. I poured myself into them. I loved them so well. And they loved me well. It is my favorite job to date. If I could go do it all again I would: the all night up with gas, the weaning from passies, the potty training. I would gladly go back and do it all again. I would fight harder to stay home with my youngest. I missed a lot of those moments in having to start work. But all of that to say my little world was safe. I controlled it. I tried going out with girlfriends initially, but with the feeding of the tiny two, and being they were in fact - tatty babies - and would not take the bottle - yep - all on me - the control freakishness was there - I just didn't define it that way. They woke up at 5:30AM went back down for nap at 8:00AM woke up for lunch and play time 10:30 - 11ish and then went back down at 2:00PM - slept until around 4:00 woke up for dinner and playtime with daddy and back down at 7:30PM. And that is probably why I would go back and do it all over. They were such good sleepers! They were so funny! But I protected that world. I knew it was just a short period of time I would have them that way. I loved every minute of it. Now anyway. It was so worth all the hard things.

As they have gotten older it was not too terribly bad up until the last couple of years. Their friends I didn't know the moms of, having to make decisions on whether to let them go do things that were new. And then when they all started driving I noticed a new cray cray feeling going on inside of me. I no longer entered into the equation once they left the house. It was all on them. What I had poured into them I had to trust was going to keep them safe while they were out. When they started dating (oh Dear Lord help me - and He does), I had to put their hearts in my Father's hands. And it happened, a broken heart. And he lived. He thrived - amazingly enough - with very little of my input. I prayed as they left that every cautionary tale and life lesson would prick their consciences when they left in that car.

Excruciating.

And things happened to their friends. One died in a car accident coming home late one night. So many things that I pray over. And over. And over. Keep them safe. Bring them home to me.

Deep breath. I read the blog about putting the basket in the water. I know the trust I have to place in God each time my babies go out that no matter what happens I will have grace to deal with it.

(If you haven't read it - you should - go HERE)

And beyond that - it is not about the kids. My husband lost his job due to the economical climate about 8 years ago - maybe more now. That rocked my world too. That is when I started having to work and it was a dark time in my life. The security I felt in my controlled world was so messed up.

9/11 - was the first time I felt unsafe. Really unsafe. I remember dealing with that because my world got rocked and I could not FIX it. I can fix most things. As time goes by - I realize I cannot fix everything. And it is hard on me. Because I want to. Desperately.

So my prayer has become more along the lines of trusting God in all things. To BELIEVE that even the hard things I will be able to cope. I pray that I can be confident in this as things move forward. I pray that I will not spew my crazy all over the place when I am placed in a pressureful situation (yes I know pressureful is not a word- it should be). Even beyond that, that my faith will grow so that I do not have crazy to spew all over the place.

I am not as laid back as I once thought. I think that has been more about containing my worry and keeping it to myself - because I am indeed a control freak and my little world, which contains my husband, my babies - and my extended family and close friends, cannot be controlled. And the more I see it, the more I writhe against the inability to change some things.

But I cannot.

And with that - I have to lay that dern basket in the water. Again. And again. And Again.

And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”