Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Living, Nesting, and Bloggy Reflections

A sign it is time for a post update: I log in and find FOUR spam comments awaiting moderation (this is why I moderate all comments!!)

I know I went from multiple posts every week to practically nil in the last 2 months.  If you read my Beauty from Ashes post you know the basis of why.  It has been a sort of cleansing time for me.  I knew my blog was heading in a good direction when bad direction thoughts began to over-run my thinking... ideas which obstructed God's leading by inviting commercialism and strict restraints hindering Holy Spirit movement through the words I feel led to share here.  This seems to be a cycle for me and this wonderful blog God has blessed me with.  A cycle I feel, hopefully this time, I am ready to in-acct barriers on in order to break.

So many wonderful bloggers out there have such great posts which not only encourage but also influence... "10 Ways to be a Better Wife" or the "5 Truths Every Woman Should Know" (completely fictitious titles).  The a-typical attention grabbers even our favorite magazines use to sell copies.  I will admit, I gravitate towards these posts because I know I will get quick-easy answers to the content provided. 

Other wonderful posts run on themes where you can reliably check in each week for the next dose of content.  Nifty buttons are available to share the content and help promote the blog.  I love these too because I feel like I am part of something... I feel like I get to know the blogger in a progressive and growing virtual relationship.

While I haven't quite given into blogging from the angle of "10 great ways to....", I have given into the second.  As a matter of fact, I found myself strapping into multiple threads and getting tied down to too much in each week.  Menu Monday was fine and fun and a way to encourage women in the kitchen (something I feel called to do).  Then came Walking Through the Word and Keepers at Home... great concepts in and of themselves... but every-single-week, 3 posts with specific focus.... linking up to blog parties to get the word out.... tagging the latest articles to it's respective pages on my site (because blogger doesn't automatically do that).... I felt like I was suffocating.  I couldn't ease up and simply share my heart, like I did in the Beauty from Ashes post, there was no time left.  I was becoming overwhelmed by the idea that I had to get the posts up, on top of the social media boosts for Scripture pictures and Mid-week music. 

In the midst of all this posting was homeschooling, caring for the house and hubby as well as other callings on my heart. Just not enough time for it all, let alone time to unwind and simply smell the flowers. I received a passel of great books for Christmas I didn't even have time to read for all my running back and forth with bloggy obligations, house, schooling and all.  Even the idea of coloring outside the lines with the kids led to panic over what wasn't getting done.

Life is fleeting.  My 2nd oldest graduates in just a few short months... my 3rd is looking for a FULL-TIME job this summer to begin saving for the mission field calling he will jump into in just 2 years.  My youngest starts 8th grade in the fall and I look back on the blur of the last 9 years of home educating and wonder: where did it all go?  When did we move from cut-and-past paper projects to full-on research papers and self-paced learning?  When did I go from being overwhelmed by all the neediness and time required to be with my kids to being left in the dust and begging them to enjoy an outing with me?! 

After all the beautiful things God showed me out of those ashes in February, I saw where I was quickly sliding the scales to an imbalance in my desperate attempt to justify my existence and scramble to fill my nest with something so when all my chicks fly out it isn't devastatingly empty.  In the process I lost sight of the here-and-now.  Of how much I don't want to miss because I over-obligate in all the less-then-best places. 

No, I am not going to stop blogging!  I don't feel led to and I'm grateful because I love it so much!
Yes, I am still going to do Menu Mondays (probably starting back up next month) and periodic Walking Through the Word and Keepers at Home installments but not so much on a weekly schedule, instead, I will post those as the Lord leads. 
Yes, I will still do Mid-Week Music on Facebook (it is my fave!) and scripture pictures when I can get them made.
... but ALL of this will be done with open hands... ready for God to move things in-and-out and even replace with other Messages as He needs to.

In the mean time, I am making more time to read (I have even finished THREE WHOLE BOOKS in the last month and I'm almost done with a fourth!!), I am leaving myself more open for when the kids do want to play a game or go for a walk... which we have done much more and all have enjoyed.  I am giving better attention to my home which provides a more content hubby... not to mention that wonderful accomplished feeling I get when my little world is in order.  I am reaching out more, listening to God more, and simply living more fully. 

In the end, I realize, the best blog posts aren't the ones with "5 ways to..." or hanging on a meme religiously posted every single week... no, the best posts come from those who have truly LIVED life each week and choose to invite readers in to share it with them.  Those posts are the sustainable ones... the ones worth reading and the ones which offer the biggest picture of how God is working in a life that week, however regular or irregular they are posted!  After all, that is what blogging is meant to be isn't it?  Not a business, but rather, a sharing of life with the hopes of encouraging others!

I pray your nest is always full whether with little birds or beautiful memories... that you live life to the fullest now, seizing every possible opportunity to seek, see, and reflect God and breathe in the beauty and wonder of life he has given you... no matter what that life may be.


 Being reminded of my commitment to this:

Friday, March 4, 2016

Beauty From Ashes


It was a chilly Saturday as I curled up in the guest room.  Tears stained my cheeks, the lump in my throat sore from holding back sobs.  The guest room, poised off of our garage, was my retreat.  My place of solace where I knew I could be alone with the pieces of my heart... searching.

When I look back on that sad Saturday, almost a month spent since it happen, I can't help but smile now for all the wonderful things God showed me through the pain... the beauty which rose from those proverbial ashes.  Words whispered in the silence alone... Words from my Father and I trusted Him... beauty would come.  I couldn't have known then how, almost instantly, healing was born from that trust.

I am not in a place just yet where I can divulge much of the details of that fateful day.  It was a culmination of both misunderstandings and careless, hurtful words.  You spend your life learning to trust someone, then feeling it was all a lie and heartlessness has won out.  That was the misunderstanding.  The careless words, when said in anger, always need to be weighed against their context.  Something I failed to do in my self-defeatist mindset that day.

Yet, curled and crying and wondering "why God" and "are you really there God"... that so-sweet voice whispered "you can't understand now, but beauty will rise" and "yes, you know I am".  Yes, I knew He was.  So many times I have seen His hand on my life, heard His whispers and witnessed His mighty work.  Too many times to deny His power.  So instead I rested and trusted Him.  I didn't have to know anything beyond He is my God and He is good.  That was more than enough.  Honestly, I didn't have the fight in me for anything more.

As this month has tumbled by my heart almost bursts with joy as I recall all I learned that day and in the days which followed.  I took time off from the blog to ponder and pray and just.be.  The beauty?  Here is just a glimpse:

I will never be enough.period.  Christ is what, or rather WHO, makes me enough.  To attempt "enough" in homemaking, wifing, mothering and beyond, then feel completely distraught when I fall short... is failing to see I could never "make it" to begin with.... it is pride blocking my view of God thinking I can do this on my own

Oh, I prayed.  I prayed over every single day; beginning, middle and end.  I invited God to guide and be a part and on and on and on.  But then I dug into my roll as attempted super-mom/wife, out to save the world, thinking it justified my existence and defined who I am.  But there-in lay the problem...

I had hit that bump, early 40s, and I asked: am I having a mid-life crisis?  I love my home/family/"job"... why doesn't my skin feel like it fits anymore?  The answer was so simple, I couldn't believe it was true: I had staked my identity so much in my roll here I lost sight of WHO I was.  My identity had been mis-placed... not lost.... no, I knew just where it was: in me.

How did missionary mama, women's ministry planter, Sunday school teacher... mis-identify?  Simply?  I think it was because I have always been a planner/preparer/DOER and never fully embraced the simple truth that what we do is not equivalent to who we are.  It is merely a reflection of our abilities.

Then church one Sunday, in the midst of this pondering, rolled around.  I lifted my voice to the same tune I had heard played many times... in the churches, on the radio, on my computer... but FINALLY it hit that sweet spot, deep inside, and something clicked.  The answer to my million dollar question of if I am not what I do, how do I identify?

You're a good good Father
It's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are
And I'm loved by You
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

Chris Tomlin says it best.  If God is a good good Father and I have accepted Him... my identity is simply that: daughter of God, loved by God.  Why do I want to BE anything more?  Why would I want to identify as anything else?  Yes, being a mom/wife is wonderful... but if my children hit a rebellious stage I feel like a bad mom... if my husband and I argue over something I forget or fell short on I feel like a bad wife.  BUT, if I am so focused on and lost in my identity in God through Christ, then everything else just doesn't matter as much.  

Maybe I sound like a newbie in the faith, stating an obvious basic truth.  But that doesn't matter.  I have an inkling I am not alone in getting so wrapped up in doing everything right I get lost in the things I do.  I know I have needed this reminder in the past: when God helped me overcome bulimia (I am my weight), when I had to undergo a full hysterectomy at 29 (I am my ability to procreate), when God healed me of clinical depression (I am how I feel).... and so on.  Yes.  WHO I AM has been a re-occurring theme in my life but somehow, this time was different.

So why?  Why go through all this turmoil and questioning to discover (or rediscover) those 2 basic truths?  Well, Chris Tomlin's song answers that as well:

Oh, it's love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

Just before all of this went down in beginning February I had reached a place in my Walk where I was asking God for revelation; something to bring me deeper into His fold.  He answered.  Sure it was messy and heart-wrenching and hurtful.  But it was so growing and cleansing and healing.  

Where am I now?  Well, I am back here writing again!  Taking it one-step-at-a-time.  I feel like my relationships with my husband and kids has grown exponentially. Being realistic has helped as well: they will still challenge me!  But I won't let those challenges take my eyes off the Mark.  I am not my failures... no.... I am loved by God, I am redeemed and that is more than enough!  When I fall, He will help me up, I can't do it on my own.

I pray you can understand my jumbled testimony of this past month's lessons!  Understand enough to be encouraged in your own identity.  You may be a wife, mom, daughter, sister.... but you ARE loved by God.  Draw closer to Him and trust this identity is all you need to be complete!



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Jesus and a Willingness to Die

Is it already the first week of March?!  Wow.  One short month ago I introduced Nathan Keeney (bio below) and his monthly series of guest posts on Willingness. It is time again to hear from our dear young friend and the Inspired words he has to share.  As you read, consider how and what we are called to "die to..." in order to live for Christ.  Consider, in this month rounded out by Easter, what Sacrifice really looks like through the cross and through our own lives....

Jesus and a Willingness to Die

This might be strange, but my favorite story in the Bible is when Jesus died (and came back to life).  See, Jesus came to Earth with a plan to save us from our sin.  That, of course, did involve Him dying.  But here's the thing: He went  through all of that willingly. He was beat, whipped, nailed to a cross, and died for you.  Because He loves you.

I may not know you, but if we were to meet and become friends, I would most likely NOT go through what Christ went through for you. I might die to save you [from harm], but not in the same way and not for the same core reason Jesus did.

Something that is important to know about Christ's death is that he did not stay dead.  He came back to life, and is alive today, making a home (in Heaven) for those who believe in Him and ask Him to forgive them for their sin. 

So, be willing to give your life for Christ, just like He did for you.  Are you willing to die?


Nathan Keeney is a homeschool high school senior living in eastern Montana.  With a heart to serve the Lord he has big plans after graduation.  First, he will be renewing his summer term with Christian Youth in Action, this time, instead of serving as a student, he will be filling the role of boy's counselor and club leader. In the fall he heads to Bible College where he plans to hone in on his calling in youth ministries.  He currently serves as a Bible study teacher in his small town church as well as leading a CYIA after school Bible club near his home.


You can look forward to more of Nathan's Bible character reflections and teachings right here on Faith and Home the first Wednesday of each month.

Scripture references from BibleGateway.com ESV Bible. Visit Bible Gateway for more resources in Bible Study and spiritual growth.

Jesus on the Cross image credit: pixabay