Friday, October 24, 2014

not because you must, but because you are willing :: settling into mommyhood (day 19)

I'm currently reading through 1st Peter, with this She Reads Truth Bible Study.
And though chapter five is mostly addressing those in church leadership, I felt the Lord also addressing me as a mother. Moms are leaders to the tiny hearts who look to them daily for guidance. We may not have a huge "following," but we've definitely got little eyes watching. 

As I read from 1 Peter, I was absolutely struck by this:
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, watching over them - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be..." 1 Peter 5:2.

Not because you MUST, but because you are WILLING.

So often I see the shepherding in motherhood as a must.
I am overwhelmed by the responsibilities, and sometimes feel trapped by all that is thrusted upon me to do. Before I've gotten out of bed in the morning, someone else is dictating my schedule with their needs. Discipline, meal-making, cleaning, entertaining, and tantrum-diffusing feel like endless tasks. I don't really have a choice; I must do these things.

But God's Word says that He wants leaders to be willing. 
I think this means, then, that God wants us as moms to be willing.
I wonder what willingness would look like?
What would it mean for me to shepherd, to care for Nicholas and Rainier with willingness?

It might look like many moments of me desperately sprawled out at the feet of Jesus.
My face would probably be on the ground and my eyes would be pouring out tears, because I really like thinking about myself before I think of others. I need to learn from the King who leads His people with humility and with joy. I need Jesus to create a willing heart in me.

It would probably mean me asking God to help me to see the "musts" as opportunities.
When something is an opportunity, instead of begrudged task, willingness comes more easily. The musts would become opportunities to deepen my relationship with my boys, to develop life skills in them, have fun, to provide a peaceful home, to show them God's character, to shape the character of future adults, etc. 

It would involve me seeing this shepherding as a means to know Jesus in a deeper way.
I think Biblical leadership (and so Biblical motherhood) was designed for us to have to go deep with God, in order to do it well. Guiding people's hearts towards Jesus means that we have to know Him ourselves and rely on Him like crazy. And though it may not be glamorous at times, it's exciting that my  very waking hours of raising a little one are also hours that I can choose to know Jesus more.

And shepherding with willingness would mean that I get to model Jesus' service.
All over the Bible leaders are called to serve. Can you imagine Jesus, the one who the disciples called "Lord", washing His disciples' feet? I can picture Jesus kneeling down, His face next to their mud-caked and dusty feet. He takes off His robe, dips it into a bowl of water, and begins to scrub away the dirt and sweat. He, the one who wrote the stars into the sky and who would later rise from the dead, washing the dirt off the feet of those He led.

As a mom, I get to do that. I get to scrub the breakfast from the pudgy cheeks of the one who calls me "mama." I get to rock Rainier in the middle of the night, even when I'm so tired. I get meal plan, clean up a thousand matchbox cars, and wake up way before 6am - and in doing all these things, I get to look like Jesus. What a privilege to look like Him.

In this moment, I want to be willing. I don't think I'm fully there yet - but I'm praying that God will change my heart. I'm beginning to see the freedom and the joy of mothering out of a willing spirit, instead of falling prey to the victim-mentality of the "musts."

Thank you Lord for Nicholas and Rainier's lives; would you help me to shepherd them well. For your glory, and so that they would know you as the Good Shepherd.

(This post was updated from a post I wrote over a year ago, and it feels SO fresh and relevant to this series.)

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To read each post in this 31 Day series, Settling Down and Looking Up, click HERE or find me on my Instagram and search the hashtag, #SettlingDownLookingUp. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sometimes i really suck at saying yes. His grace is enough. (day 18)

Today I have this thing in my chest, this burden to make sure that I'm being very real and honest in what I put out there on the internet.

I'm NOT an expert at "saying yes to where God has me."
Not even one little bit.

Even though I'm writing about this topic for 31 days, I have caught myself in many moments during this month doing the exact opposite. Asking God to just move me on already, to fast forward so that I've already said yes to the hard stuff and can be on the other side of it. I've been tempted, and given in, to distracting myself with tasks and dreaming of a life that feels more glamorous or rewarding than accepting the grace, joy, and honored privilege of what God has given me today.

Yes, I do have the moments I've described in these past 23 days when I see the beautiful challenge and worth of saying yes to Him; He is teaching me and in some moments, I listen.
But I've also thrown tantrums, been very impatient, and in some moments just totally ignored God's tugs on my heart.

Friends. Self.
His grace is enough.

When you're a total mess, His grace is enough.
When you write a 31 Days post about settling down into your family, and two hours later you're texting angry words to your husband about the kids awful behavior, when really your own behavior has been total crap - there's enough grace for you. (Ahem. For me.)

When the things God is asking you to say "yes" to seem way too big (or too small) - His grace is enough.

Even if you say no. His grace is enough for that, too.
(My stomach feels kinda queasy since I just wrote that last line. Because I'm a total rule follower. Am I giving you license to disobey God by saying that? Well, I hope not. But it's still true - even when I disobey God - there's enough grace for that. I'm still under the great news of the Gospel.)

I want to move forward with the Lord, I want to REJOICE in saying "yes" to His calling. Holy moly, He is such a good Father who wants the best for His children! 
The things He asks of us are for our good (even if they are hard). And on the days when His calling feels really heavy, or when I just want my way because that's more convenient - He has grace for me.
And it's also His grace that brings me back to Him. It's His heart that loves me like a really good Dad that enables me to sit at His feet without an ounce of shame, and receive courage and strength to continue on saying yes. His grace is enough. His grace is what helps us say "yes," even if just a moment ago we said "no."

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To read each post in this 31 Day series, Settling Down and Looking Up, click HERE or find me on my Instagram and search the hashtag, #SettlingDownLookingUp. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I want to be that woman (day 17)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

I've begun to embrace the advice of some of my mom friends, who have encouraged me to get over the fact that "quiet times" are rarely going to be quiet in this season of life - and to read the Bible, even if I can't be alone. With two tinies who get up before the crack of dawn and keep me up late into the night, I'm rarely going to have time alone to read the Bible. (And if I can get alone, I totally will. But I don't usually have that luxury.) 

I've never been a "first thing in the morning read your Bible" kinda gal. But I thought I'd try it, out of the desperate need to be fueled for the day by something more than coffee and good intentions, which never fully play out anyway. So for the past couple of weeks, I've been reading my Bible when I get up with the kids. I make my beloved coffee, turn on PBS Kids for Nicholas, and let Rainier play on the carpet while I crack open the Bible and take sips of my beloved coffee. I force myself to get out a pen and a journal, even if my notes are scribbled on the page while I tune out Daniel Tiger's catchy songs. I usually read and write a few thoughts for 15 minutes max, and then go on to the rest of our day. It's not quiet, it's not alone. But it has been life to my soul.

If I want to settle down into what God has for me, and bear fruit in its season - I need to daily fill myself with God's Word.  Sometimes I make it so much harder, writing myself to-do lists for growth and trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps to just be better. But what I really need, to live a healthy life and to flourish in any season, is to continually let God's word pour over me. I want to be this woman, being planted by the stream and bearing the fruit that He grows in my life, in the right seasons.

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To read each post in this 31 Day series, Settling Down and Looking Up, click HERE or find me on my Instagram and search the hashtag, #SettlingDownLookingUp. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

when you'd rather run :: to mackenzie a year ago (day 16)

I've got one of those apps on my phone that brings up pictures from "1 year ago today." When I peruse through where I was this time last year, I want to go back and give myself a hug. (And a pep talk and a big bar of chocolate.) In my picture from one year ago today, I was very sick and in my 1st trimester with Rainier. I had one arm on my growing belly, and the other was holding a cranky almost 2-year-old Nicholas. I had a smile on my face, but I remember what my heart was feeling: discontent, fearful, and really trying to hope.

I was definitely not in the mind frame of "Let's settle in! This is the place I want to hunker down!"
The opposite really - I desperately wanted things to change. We'd just moved from Montana, I was so sick from pregnancy, Brian's job situation was up in the air, and I knew we'd be hopping in between our (very gracious and generous) parent's homes for the next several months. Most of my prayers were, "God, GET ME OUT OF HERE." I wanted life to move on, but it wasn't budging. Little did I know it would take over a year for us to physically move to downtown Seattle, where we wanted to be in the first place. And all the emotional/mental/relational growth that I wanted immediately - that took time, too. It felt like my feet were stuck in the mud. I could see where I wanted to be, but I just couldn't get there. And I certainly did not want to say "yes" to God - I just wanted what was next.

Today I want to speak to that Mackenzie, and to anyone else who is waiting for something and who just wants to move on:

When you'd rather run, HUNKER DOWN.
Not into the promise of "tomorrow," not into your circumstances today.
Settle down, right into the God who is with you wherever you go.
You have a constant. And as nice as it would be for your home/job/ministry/health to feel stable - here's a chance to find your home in the one place that will never change. 
He is it. You can look everywhere else you want, but you're only going to find home, unchanging, new life, in one place -- Christ.

If you'd rather run than be where you are - that's an okay thing to feel.
But then, run to Him. To His Word, to His Gospel, to the people He's put in your life.
Watch and see. Watch what the great Redeemer can do with a heart that feels so deeply uncertain.
He is trustworthy, and He is with you wherever you go.

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To read each post in this 31 Day series, Settling Down and Looking Up, click HERE or find me on my Instagram and search the hashtag, #SettlingDownLookingUp. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

on logging the miles with my feet (day 15)

I keep feeling this downward tug, like the Lord is actually grabbing my eyeballs and turning them towards my feet. 
Where am I walking?
What are my surroundings?

(Right this minute my feet are folded under me as I've got one kid on my lap and the other one sitting next to me as we watch morning cartoons.)

I might be the broken record, but I can't shake this feeling of God wanting me to really be PRESENT where He's placed me, not chasing other ideals but saying "yes" to Him where my feet actually are. Not in an effort to turn further inward, but to recognize that God has given me several areas where He wants to actively use me. I can either say these places aren't enough, or I can obey God and own what He's calling me to.

My always messy apartment, my city streets, the community center where my church meets, in the homes of my friends, at the coffee shops, and if the internet was a physical place ;) - this is where my feet are. This is where I feel God asking me to log the miles. I, in myself, am not going to transform these areas - but God, who loves including us in His plans, wants to transform these places. And I get to join Him.

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To read each post in this 31 Day series, Settling Down and Looking Up, click HERE or find me on my Instagram and search the hashtag, #SettlingDownLookingUp.