Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In Season, Out of Season and Announcement

I use to have the above saying on my coat closet door at our old house.  I'm always careful about throwing this saying out there because it is easy to take out of context.  With God, all the things I want/want to do are possible.  In reality, this saying is much bigger than that.  It's more like; with God, David and Goliath kinds of things are possible... not just taking down giants, rather, taking down giants because God has called and equipped you to.... things in His will, His design, and through His good calling... those kinds of things are possible.

I had a wake-up call recently.  One which reminded me of just how (and when) God calls us: not always when it is convenient, but often (and especially) when it is not.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
- 2 Timothy 4:1-2 

God has gifted me with a ministry, a blog, and a bucketful of experience which He desires me to share.  I alluded to this in my last post... and made mention of various trials which had kept me from fulfilling my call in recent months.  As I explored Timothy these last few weeks and thought on this call, I realized how much of life's craziness I have let get in the way this past fall and then into this winter.  If I am called to share my faith and rise to God's purpose, why do I let the enemy convince me I can only share my heart and God's Word when I am 'in season'?

I have to think I am preaching to the choir here.  Seriously, how many of you have given into the lies:
  • You can't share your testimony because you are still messing up
  • You can't encourage someone in their marriage because yours is rocky too
  • You can't offer parenting advice because you don't even have it all figured out
  • You can't build up another homeschool parent because you haven't even been homeschooling very long
Simply: you're no expert so don't bother.

Seriously?  How many of our favorite books and encouraging quotes and ideas out there come from people, women especially, who either don't have a degree or don't even have a degree in the field they are writing/talking about?

Fact is, people change people (Ok, I got that one from Girl Meets World and, yes, I am admitting I watch that show with my kids!!)  But it is so true

People Change People

Our lives, our experiences... are valuable... YOU are valuable.  So what if you have been homeschooling for barely a year or if you and your husband had another fight last night or if you just lost your temper with your kids over something trivial... if you are a mess (and face it, we all are in different phases of messiness) it is because God has allowed this messiness FOR A PURPOSE.

Looking at Timothy we see this... encouragement to share your faith in season and OUT OF SEASON because, guess what, other women need to know they are not alone.  While I don't want to go to a blog that reflects constant turmoil... I also don't want to go to a blog which seems to preach constant perfection because, honestly, I can't live up to that and I feel hopeless never knowing that others bleed like I do. 

In the darkest times of my Christian life I needed to know that other, good, Godly women sometimes argue with their husband and end up frustrated... I needed to see how they take those pitfalls and build a ladder through God's Word to get them out.  I needed to know that I am not alone in teenage rebellion (yes, even with homeschoolers) or poor choices made (yes, even from good Christian kids) and how God can sustain me in these trials and equipment me to minister to them.  I needed to know, too, that not all homeschool kiddos sit perfectly with excitement at EVERY lesson placed before them... that all subjects aren't actually completed every day and that a "good day" is actually that ONE DAY this month you did get all those things done without flack!  I needed to know that other women's houses are not always perfectly cleaned and that piles of books or papers or discarded socks sometimes show up at the most awkward moments.  Not that I have wanted to see an always imperfect blog or that I am belittling those "perfect" moments and days... just that I want to read about real women, with real lives and know, really, that even the most ideal situations aren't always perfect.

THIS is life, in season and out.

If I am honest, I think I focus too much on what is going right on my blog and I forget how valuable those days of everything going wrong can be.  This is the life I have hidden from in recent months.  Afraid to admit to readers that my daughter made knee-jerk decisions that landed her in an engagement to a man we learned the hard way was not all we thought he was.  Tough lessons that even led to a car accident, a broken ankle and the loss of a job for her. Afraid to admit that I encouraged her to pursue relationship because the idea of marriage and grand kids was exciting... and then struggling, in the end, with the guilt over wondering how much of everyone's heartache in the messy turn of events was  possibly my fault.  Afraid to admit I couldn't see through the haze to discern how much of the situations were in God's plan and how much was simply the consequences of bad decisions.  I failed to share here how my life preserver through it all has been Romans 8:28...

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.

We played the roll of the Samaritan, picking up the injured man, and we had to keep our eyes on God to stay afloat through it all.

This life, where my 13 (now 14) year old battled the typical teenage angst and fluctuated between content and distraught from hour to hour and how I spent wayyyyyyyyyy too much time letting her and her big sister monopolizing the day with the ongoing drama... so much so, that life = no homeschool for a month and a half right-smack-dab in the middle of a semester because the drama was palatable.

Yup, that has been my life.

And in the midst I lost my joy and zeal.  In the middle of it all I couldn't bring myself to write a single article because I would either be interrupted with more drama I didn't know how to say NO to OR I felt inadequate... out of season and as though any ponderings or advice I could offer from here would be hypocritical because I don't even have it all figured out. 

Then the kids and I jump into Philippians and I am further convicted:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

So, with this mindset, I am pushing in.  I have remembered all the times I did persevere in hardships by continuing to share on this blog and what a blessing it was.  I am planning some re-design and article alterations so be on the look-out for these.  I'm still pushing hard on the new platform too but that seems like the dangling carrot I can't reach... my prayer is to have the blog-switch-over complete by summer... but who knows.  God will have me writing where (and what) He thinks I should!

In light of my past vs. future ponderings and this Call to be a Vessel both in season and out, I am especially excited to make a really BIG announcement:

Next Tuesday is my 8 year blogiversary!!!!!  And to celebrate 8 years on February 8th I'm working on a giveaway!  Be sure to come back for more details.

As for today, what is God calling you to? Remember, YOU ARE VALUABLE, every experience, every situation... it all has a purpose and the #1 purpose of it all is to glorify God in the midst of it, both in season and out of season... don't put your light under a basket, let it shine in the midst of darkness. I pray God will strengthen and guide you to that end.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Picking up the Pieces

I've been picking up the pieces of life lately.  Poor choices, less-then-stellar advice, learning curves and out-side influences have taken stabs and jabs at pretty much everyone in our household.  I thought coming in out of full-time missions work was hard... this ranks right up there with it.

Somewhere in the  midst of all the mayhem and mess I lost something:  Spark.  Passions and drives which once boiled inside have simmered and settled.  At first I thought it was just a new phase of life, however, I have since realized it is something more.  Thumbing through Pinterest to pass a few slow minutes, I saw this article: Rekindling Joy by Pursuing our Passions.

I want to say I am not needing to rekindle Joy, rather, I miss pursuing my passions... yet the more I thought about it, I believe a lack of pure joy is zapping the life out of my passions.  Sure, life is in pieces right now, as a matter of fact, it seems there is a daily crisis lately.  The kind of crises which make a SAHM like myself dream of a part-time telecommuting job so I can save for mission trips across borders just to serve the Lord in peace... and get some distance and simultaneous perspective on life and it's issues!

It isn't just the domestic dim-drum which drives me down though, it is also the general undercurrent of society and our country as a whole.  Debates over who really won the election and resulting social injustices which make me ashamed to be a human...  Arguments for the last 2 months over whether or not you can call yourself a Christian AND celebrate Christmas...  The blurring lines of humanity when gender changes name and it isn't so simple to even ask "boy or girl" while big-money-movie tickets pay our favorite stars to be the mouth-piece of these movements.

Life is too complicated these days.

Christmas 2016 shoved that very truth onto center-stage in a much more personal role.  I no longer have little kids.  It is strange.  And with all the complications which have persisted these past few months, HOW we celebrated Christmas had it's tweaks in order to accommodate the shifting situation.  Through it all I reflected, not just on Christmases past, but on life past as well:  The simple things which use to mean so much to people... the ways we use to be able to speak and reach and share and love.  Even this blog came under scrutiny when I considered old topics and the early simplicities of being a mommy blogger.  Now we are a dime a dozen, a virtual market flooded with us... do I really matter in the great big ocean of 1's and 0's?

I thought of all my little tips, simple recipes, heart renderings, homeschool sharing and Biblical beseeching... is it all a buzz? Old knowledge? Wasted space?


... I picked up a Woman's Day in the grocery line just after Thanksgiving.  It and Family Circle were the woman's Bible of how-to-be-a-housewife before FlyLady, Family Fun and Rachel Ray hit the scene.  To this day I use many-a-tried-and-true recipe I've held tight to.  One flip through my holiday journals reveals carefully removed magazine pages from by-gone issues sharing organization advice and food-prep tips I still find priceless.

So, after groceries were nestled in my cupboards with care, I curled up with hot cocoa (yeah, I'm a big kid) and the fresh-pressed magazine across my lap.  I was leery... it had been years since I last read one of these prints... would it be liberalized too?  Did WOMAN's Day still apply?

Well, the issue I held was like a tall glass of fresh water.  So many things I missed about those early years of housewifery came flooding back.  I lamented, I laughed, I looked forward to trying some new recipes... and I dreamed.  Passions were sparking.  Like an engine that wants to die but won't sputter out because there is still enough juice left... if only the right spark could fully fire it up.

That holiday issue of Woman's Day tugged in my mind all month amidst the many other reflections.  Some, at times, admittedly resentful that life was no longer so peaceful and simple anymore.  But as the season drew to a close, other memories began to spark...

So many times I will talk with women or post tid-bits here and I feel like what I am saying or typing may be redundant, the information recipient is secretly rolling her eyes and thinking 'duh, everyone knows that'... yet instead I get overwhelmed with messages of 'really? I never thought of that!' or appreciations for encouragement. I realized... knowledge doesn't become common unless it is shared.

Once upon a time I was the doe-eyed, wet-behind-the-ears, new pup on the block.  I didn't know the easy way to boil an egg or how to improvise ingredients.  I once was clueless to managing multiple kiddos and conflict resolution that fosters Spiritual understanding amongst them.  I didn't always comprehend the value of joint history lessons metered to grade or the value of tiered learning... oh, the list could go on but you get the idea.

So, tug and pull came to shove and I read Mandy's blog today, not because she shares my nic-name but because the title grabbed me, perhaps God shoved me... whatever Divine tugging was at work, I gave it a read and I was moved.

God has gifted me uniquely and individually... and in a life, and a world, gone a-muck, perhaps my passion towards the simple true things in life is just what God wants popped out there right now.  I don't need to fear debates or disputes.  I don't have to worry about redundancies... even Woman's Day is still publishing content I remember them publishing 25 years ago!  They know readers will cycle through and need knowledge which becomes common... or just need the reminder and encouragement of simple things in life.  Why would I choose to deny God's call to revive the un-common, common-ness of my knowledge base which He has blessed me with and grown in me so that I might share it with others?

Am I someone special to say and share all this? Not particularly.

But I am Chosen for a purpose and a time and a place.  I may just be picking up the pieces of life around me right now... but I can put it all back together with Purpose in mind.  I can submit myself to be used by God, to glorify God... even in the simplest things.  I will NOT put my light under a basket in the midst of the broken pieces around.  Let that spark rip into a roaring blaze that springs forth passion, purpose and (most of all) the One True Light that drives it all.

I pray, wherever you are today, whatever challenges (or joys) you face, that God is ministering to your heart through His Word to bring you to a place of purpose in Him because you are Chosen for a purpose too!