Friday, October 31, 2014

the "yes" is for our good, the "yes" is worth it :: the final post in this series (day 23)

Well, today this journey is officially over. I'm still on day 23 and technically the whole idea is to write for 31 days...but I'd say for having two small kids and being involved in two different ministries and enjoying brushing my hair everyday, I did pretty good! :)

Oh I'm so cheesy, but though this #write31days series ends today, I know that this idea the Lord has placed in my heart to look to Him as I settle into this season, and say YES to Him - it's just beginning.
And at the end of this whole thing, I feel like my heart has been brought right back to where I was on day one: my utter, real, desperate need for Jesus. To do anything good. 

Guys. Self.
I cannot say yes to anything the Lord asks me to do. Not without Him.

I am actually NO BETTER than I was the beginning of October.
I might have searched my heart and God's Word more than I had before, but myself? I still try to find ways to get around really having to say yes to Jesus. I'm still feeling like I'm standing on the edge and feeling too scared to just jump.
I'm not 100% "settled down."

But this month I have also seen God be really good.
Even though I'm a scared, tiny woman, in those moments that I quietly nodded my head and whispered, "Okay, Jesus" - He was there. He was faithful.
He gave me more and revealed Himself more than I ever though He would when I uttered that feeble word.

At the end of this month, I know that He is with me when I say yes. (I mean, He's with me when I say no too, but what I mean is that He is ever present and doesn't leave me hanging when I step out to obey Him.)
I also know, just a little more than I did before, that saying yes to Him is totally for my good, and for the good of other's too. When I said yes to Him in regards to my family, I was so darn blessed. And so were they. I said yes on some new ministry opportunities, and it has brought me life and dreams that I am so excited about.

He is good. He asks. We, very scared and feebly, say yes. He stays the same, good and faithful as always. He continues to be present, we mess up and sometimes say no and sometimes say yes. And still, He's faithful, present, and good. Saying yes is worth it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

what makes the work worth it? (day 22)

This week I attended an Influence Network class on business and giving back, and one of the gals teaching posed the question above. "The work doesn't end; so what's going to make it worth it for you?" 

I feel like Jessi took the first part of that question right out of my mouth. The work never ends. 
Over the past few weeks (ok, months), I can't tell you how many times that thought has crossed my mind. I feel like there is never NOT a time where I don't have something I could be doing or finishing. At night I'm getting the dishes in the dishwasher and 17,000 Matchbox cars into Nicholas' toy bins, while simultaneously thinking about what time I'm going to get up in the middle of the night to feed Rainier. As soon as one of the boys falls asleep, the other seems to wake up. When I reply to one email, I realize that I've got several more to answer and a blog post I've been hankering to write for days. In motherhood, marriage, ministry, internet life, friendship, and just plain trying to eat and go to the bathroom - life doesn't slow down, does it?

Life doesn't slow down. This often leaves me really, really overwhelmed. I'm NOT into the whole moniker of "sleep when you're dead." I believe in rest and being a whole and healthy person who slows down in regular intervals because I can't do the work if I don't; but it's true, there is probably always going to be something else I can get down to work on.

I love the 2nd part of this. What's going to make it worth it for you?
What is my motivation, my "why?" that I do all the things I do? (From scrubbing sweet toddler skin in the bath, to managing Thrive Mom's prayer team, to chopping veggies for my family's dinner.) 
In all the work that I do - why does it matter?
What motivates me to say yes to the Lord on the days when the work feels like TOO MUCH and I want to shut 'er down?

My answer is probably different than yours. And I have a few different answers for different areas of my life. But since Jessi asked this question, I keep thinking about that WHAT. And I want to really make sure that I know that answer. 

What makes so little sleep and 1,000 reminders to go potty and singing silly songs while we drive those million Matchbox cars worth it?
What makes edits and online meetings and dreaming and clicking away at the keyboard worth it?
What makes saying no to more work and snuggling up to my husband under a blanket worth it?
What makes shuffling around schedules and having Sunday be a "work day" and feeling heartbreak with those who feel heartbroken worth it?

For me, today: it's worth it to obey the Lord. It's worth it to use what He's put in my hand for His glory and to love people like He does. (As flawed and sarcastic and potty-mouthed as I am. I know, I swear a little bit too much for someone in full-time ministry. My friends can attest to this.) 
It's worth it to do what I love, to pray for people, encourage, write, help with details and make the behind the scenes stuff happen. 
It's worth it to do anything I can to raise two boys who will become men so that they fall madly in love with a Savior who madly loves them. 
It's worth it to make my husband shine and feel like he's the most supported man on the entire planet and that he fulfill his dreams, too. 
It's worth it to know Christ, in the good, the hard, the busy, and the mundane.

What's your "worth it?" Why are those hours and days and moments worth it for you?

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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 28, 2014

sitting vs. standing (day 21)

What if we stood in God's grace?
So often I sit in guilt. I plop myself right down into shame, getting comfortable and almost enjoying myself as I soak in all the things I've either done really poorly or haven't done at all. It's genuinely a problem, how much time I spend wishing I'd done things differently and figuring out ways to act and feel better the next time. I get stuck when I focus so much on who and how and what I'm not.

Yet I know a better way.
1 Peter says, "This is the grace of God. Stand in it." 
I have a solid ground that can bear the full weight of all my "not enough". All those things I sit in as I lick my wounds? Those things are rubble. They are a dangerous ground, sure to make me lose my footing. And these words from 1 Peter are a call to action: to let the Lord grab my shoulders, pick me off of the floor, and set me upright.

When I stand in God's grace, I don't have to be enough.
He's the sure footing, He's what's holding me up - I don't have to be those things because He already is.

When I stand in God's grace, I have freedom because of the truth.
I don't have to spend even one more second back on the ground with the lies and the shame - because God's Word is TRUE and He says I'm His daughter.

When I stand in God's grace, I'm on the offensive.
I'm not sitting, waiting for my failures to eat me alive. No, I'm already upright, with my feet firmly planted on the truth. So I can fail and still stand firm because Grace is steady footing.

In all my efforts to live out God's call on my life, to say yes to Him - I don't have to muscle my way through. I have the freedom to mess up, I have the freedom to learn and try again. I can say yes to Jesus because His grace is solid ground.

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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 27, 2014

immediately, today. what's in front of you? (Day 20)

Today, settling down and looking up looks like taking a big gulp of reality and just going for it. What reality am I drinking in this morning? POTTY TRAINING DAY ONE. (So many emotions!)

I don't have major theology today ;) but I do feel challenged to actually enjoy my kids (instead of just surviving the day). What's immediately in front of me, what God has called me to do right now, is to love my two little people well. To serve my family, even when that means getting down on my hands and knees and cleaning up potty accidents. This is the day I have, these are the moments God has given me. So I'm praying a LOT today (mostly, "Lord give me patience") and trusting that I can enjoy God's continual presence even when I'm confined to my apartment and constantly checking the potty timer. I won't have done today perfectly, but I do think I'll see Christ, and His kingdom at work, when I submit myself to what He has for me today.

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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. 

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.