Abide in Him

It’s not really unusual to find Zaiah wearing underwear on his head.  Or dismantling  a calculator.

And then there was the sink incident.

Zaiah decided to wash Eli’s hair with bubbles he made  in the sink.  However, I didn’t catch him in the act the second time.   He left the water running. The sink plugged up.  And after he was sound asleep, I found a flood  that went through our cabinets and walls into the laundry room, living room, and bedroom.

What  a mess.

But with four children, I have come to expect lots of chaos.  I have very low expectations when I make plans.  I  know that there WILL be a poopy diaper, spilled juice,  stained carpet,  a runaway dog…… or even a flood.  At  exactly the wrong time. But it is a new concept for me to realize that my house, my kids, my day – it can all be in chaos.  But I don’t have to be in chaos.

GetAttachment.aspx (12) Camp, Camping, Ballet, etc 037 Camp, Camping, Ballet, etc 046

That heart struggle began when I lived in the busyness of a husband working and earning a second degree while we parented two babies and a four year old.   Even if my words didn’t reflect it, I often felt like exploding            

 

I write as if these internal struggles are in past tense.  They aren’t.   I am especially tempted when I am tired or overwhelmed.  Sometimes I fall flat on my face as I  impatiently rush my little treasures out the  door or nag my husband about moving the laundry I folded.  And I begin to feel that old discontent, selfish boil race to my heart.

But I know a truth now that I did not know then.

Despite my circumstances, my heart can rest in peace. But only if my heart is fully surrendered  to Christ.  Because, ultimately, it’s not even about me.   It’s all about Him.  

                    His love.

                            His mercy.

                                    His Joy.

                                           His peace.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

                                                                       John 15:4 NIV

 

 

Really Nervous

Because of sickness, the  kids and I stayed home from church today.  And  so, we watched the service on our computer.  As Kevin  (the pastor) walked up front, Eli exclaimed, “Hey!  That’s the guy that stands in the middle of all the people and talks.  He must be REALLY nervous!!”

Eli would have been nervous.  He  isn’t unbearably shy – but he doesn’t care too much for  large groups.

In fact, we dedicated Leesy a couple weeks ago.  We wanted the kids to be part of that commitment, and so, our family stood in front of the church together (instead of sending the kids to Kid’s church ). I tried to grab a couple of little hands as we stepped up front.  But this was one time that Eli, and the other kids, quickly threw me over to crowd into the security and confidence of their Daddy.

As much as my heart has changed over the last two years, my kids can still see through me.  They know when I am uncomfortable.  They read my body language.   If I am stressed, they sense it and react according to my emotions.

But not wanting to stand up in front of a crowd is so vastly different from some of issues I previously dealt with….  My muscles didn’t spasm, my heart didn’t race, and I didn’t panic as hyperventilation sucked the air out of my body.

At the same time, I can still feel my fall from that initial change in faith that propelled my heart to fall in  love, all over again, with my Savior, my God… my love.

That  initial adrenaline from a drastically changed heart gave me lots of energy, enthusiasm, and hope for change.    As some of my physical problems eroded and settled into issues that are more manageable – I have lost some of that hope and initial dependency on God that I quickly acquired when my life seemed to come to a screeching halt.

Two years later, I have lots of days that I physically feel really good.  I have a husband who has fiercely loved me through everything.  But even now, he communicates that love so much clearer to my heart.   I have close friends whom I love and trust.  Life is good.  But in all those huge blessings from God, my heart easily wonders from the very source of those gifts.

And without my heart closely woven in His, sometimes I simply don’t feel like trying.  I would rather check out and do nothing rather than put some effort into my spiritual and physical health.

However,  I am reminded in this new year that it isn’t really about that outward change.  Hope, enthusiasm, and energy don’t come from trying to change.  I spent years determined to make a career out of music simply to prove I could rise above my personality.  And I have attended countless meetings, bible studies, and small groups just TRYING to make things different.

As if a new goal would break the ice and cause a lifetime of panic attacks and other stress related health issues go away.

As if I could suddenly love the company of strangers and become totally at ease when I am far, far away from my comfort  zone.

It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

I cannot change from the outside if God doesn’t change me from the inside.

It’s all  Him.

Only Him.

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh  Ezekiel 7:19

A Treasure

The past few years, I have learned a lot about my own lack of confidence, awkwardness, panic attacks….. and just general anxiety.   I used to think that because I struggle – that I am the worse teacher for my kids.  Especially, for  my daughter – who takes those issues to a whole other level.

But, actually, because I struggle, I am the best teacher.

With panic attacks, with a relentless anxiety, with depression haunting me  from the shadows – I know that practice does NOT make perfect.  In fact, in can make worse.  Fail, fail, and fail again.   That does not produce confidence.

But failure is precisely where my life changed. I realized that, yes, it is true that I am horribly inadequate.  A failure.  Maybe a little lonely at times.  And yes, I can be very easily insulted.  I know it at the very depths of my heart.  I have no doubt about my own inadequacy.

But at the heart of failure, God placed His confidence in my heart..

His adequacy.  His success.  His truth.

That never changes.   It never depends on me.  I can remain the most quiet person in the room.  I can feel trapped.  I can feel rejected.

And yet,  I am accepted in Christ.  Glorified in Christ.  Lifted up in Him.

So, yes, it is true.  I don’t have it all together.  I am probably not the best teacher of social graces.   I can’t teach them how to earn the love and respect of their peers. Or how to develop unshakable self confidence.

But God has placed a treasure in my heart worth far more.   My struggle brings me to my knees.  And it frustrates me.  And sometimes I feel utterly broken.  But in that brokeness,  my life is a testimony of God’s love and grace.  And that’s what I want to teach my children.

My dearly loved children of God.

 

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  1 John 3:1  NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unpredictable

DSCN7626

 As I was pulling out of Walmart tonight, I spotted new parents.  It was obvious….They were parked back away from the other cars.  And two adults pulled out the stroller and couldn’t figure out how to get the stroller set up and locked.

I remember those days.

It never dawned on me until we took Abby home from the hospital that I had to actually take care of that little life.  I didn’t know when to feed her, how to get her to sleep, how to change her clothes, or buckle a seatbelt, give a bath or clip her nails….  It was all new.

I don’t exactly like “new.”  I like predictable.  But UNpredictable  exploded with a growing family.

                                         But, maybe, unpredictable isn’t so bad.

I spend so much time trying to control the details of my life.  Only to succumb to the reality that I am NOT in control.  And despite my scheduling and routines, the unpredictables will happen.

Such as Leesy refusing to nap.  Or kids getting sick.  Or supper burning.

Of course, at this point, I don’t know why I would even expect ANYTHING to go smoothly.  There are always bumps in the road.  But the more stressed I get, the more I cling to a hope for the familiar.

But my hope is in the wrong place.  It’s easy to place it in the familiar.  The schedule.  The plan.

But if all my hope was fully in God, and his plans, my plans would be obsolete.  With Him in complete control, I simply don’t need any hope in my schedules, plans, or goals.

Eli was dancing around the living room a little earlier today. I had a mess in the living room, dishes in the sink, lunch to make, and an overtired Leesy.  I was starting to lose my patience.  But then I listened to the words of my sweet boy.   He was saying, over and over, “ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Big words for such a little guy.  But it was just what I needed to hear.

A reminder that God is so good.  I may not see the lesson in the messy living room right now.  But I can have faith that God is working for my good.

Always.

And with that knowledge, God’s peace saturates my soul.

             Calms my mind.

                          And softens my heart.

Mandarin Oranges

DSCN7698-001Leesy had been angling to eat  Mandarin oranges all afternoon but I was saving them for dinner.  She had gone outside to play with the boys.  And in the meantime, I had loaded everyone’s plate for dinner.

Including the oranges.

Before she saw that dinner was on the table, I picked her up and she peeked into the can of oranges.  Empty.

She had been waiting for hours.

Those beautiful brown eyes got big, her lip started to quiver, and she began her infamous scowl.  She thought she had been cheated out of her oranges.

Personally, mandarin oranges don’t carry much importance.  I think most canned fruit is mushy and loaded with unnecessary sugar.  But I know they are important to my little Leesy.  And so they are, at least somewhat, important to me.  I buy them for her every week.  Knowing that she will devour them.

I have to wonder.  What good things does God bless me with – just because He knows me and loves me?  What are my mandarin oranges?  Those sweet little blessings….

I can think of a few.

I hate peeling potatoes.  But my kids love it.   I love chocolate chip cookies.  My husband knows how to cook them just perfect.  That is certainly a sweet little blessing.  We don’t need our walls painted.  But it is such a delight to add some character as we paint a red play room and a green girls room.  We don’t need a backyard.  But God blessed us with a great space – and a fence.   It is a great joy to watch our kids run and play.

In fact, yesterday the boys spent hours outside driving trucks, digging holes, and enjoying the beautiful weather.  And as I watched them learn and play, tears came to my eyes.  And then God gave me an added bonus.

A brother hug.

It just doesn’t get any better.   God has so abundantly blessed me.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  Ephesians 3:20 NIV

Squooshing the Roaches

Roaches make me paranoid.

A few years ago, we lived in a rental house that turned out to be infested  by roaches.  After a year of spraying for those disgusting little creatures, we surrendered most of our belongings and started from scratch in a new, uninfested, house.  When we moved into the house, we had a bug guy spray and search our new house for any stragglers.  And, of course, there was a few strays that managed to hitchhike into our new house. Unfortunately, once a female roach becomes impregnated – she is forever pregnant.  Making it more difficult to slow down their mass reproduction.

However, we hired a bug terminator who more aggressively treated for roaches.  And we also were living a new home that didn’t have water leakage like our previous residence.

After a month, we were free of the little creatures.

After such a disaster, there are certain freedoms that I no longer take for granted, such as:

  • Going to sleep without being afraid of waking up with a roach crawling across your covers or into your mouth
  • Eating without prewashing dishes because roaches have been crawling on them
  • Sitting on real furniture (we had to throw out our furniture and sit on lawn chairs for a month)
  • Turning on the lights before entering a room (light scares roaches away)

I am blessed to be past that stage in our life.  But my husband and I still squirm at bugs.  Anything that remotely resembles a roach gets vigorously smooshed and flushed down the toilet.

Our roaches remind me alot of struggling with a false perception of God’s love.  At first, I believed the lie that I wasn’t personally loved.  Not cherished.  Not really treasured.

Soon that lie became a serious infestation.  I could no longer ignore it.  That lie eventually multiplied into doubt, turmoil – and eventually – emotional and physical struggles with anxiety and depression.

But I would never take that back.  In that process, I had to surrender to God’s love.

But sometimes, I see a remnant of my old self.  And I squoosh it.

But it’s not really me squooshing it.

It’s God.

 His love.

His truth.

 

 

An Overcomer

Anyone who has spent any time in my house knows that I am saturated in christian music.  I always have the radio on.  Always.

My need arose from the first time I had ever experienced the awful combination of depression and anxiety.   With my radio on, I could constantly hear God’s truth.   And even though I have currently exited the darkness of depression and anxiety, my radio stays on.  I need that constant reminder.  A reminder that God loves me.  That He wants good for me.  That He gives me purpose.  And that He is absolutely amazing.

But recently, one song has caught my attention.

Overcomer (by Mandisa)

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

 As I struggle through periods of anxiety, I really only considered myself an overcomer when the anxiety was conquered.  Right now, I feel great.  I have energy. And joy is bubbling in my heart.

And it is easy to see that God has delivered me.  That He has overcome.

But in a K-Love interview with Mandisa, she was talking about being an overcomer.  We aren’t an overcomer beacuse of conquering an objective.  But instead, we are an overcomer because of what Christ did on the cross.

And that really made me think.  I get frustrated when anxiety starts to take root in my life.  In those moments, I do not feel like an overcomer.  But the beauty, grace, and love of God is more than my failures.  He overcomes even when I am at my worst.  Because victory is never in my actions.

But in His.

And so, when I do fall, my heart can take great hope in His deliverance.

His love conquers ALL.

 

 

DSCN8426

God’s Gift is Now

The best tasting kid in our house is definitely Leesy.  Our dog slobbers her with kisses.  And I am sure that Leesy is a delectable treat laced in sugar, grease, and unidentifiable concoctions.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

want to enjoy my kids despite their stickiness, messes, and chaos.

want them to be creative.  I want to hear squeals of delight and giggles and tickles.  I want them to splash in the pool and build castles in the sandbox.  I want the girls to paint nails.  And the boys to build a house wide train track.

But sometimes, it’s easy to forget that good stuff.  To get bogged down.

When I first became a mother, it was so easy to see God in motherhood.  Seeing a little part of myself in that little infant is the most amazing, exhilarating process I have ever experienced.  It’s amazing to see God’s little creation learn and grow.

But sooner or later, the newness wears off.  It doesn’t seem quite so new or exciting.  Changing a diaper is no longer a privilege but a stinky mess.

I am not claiming that motherhood should be a rosy, perfect experience that never ends in frustration.  But I am confessing that I lost, at one point, the wonder.  The amazement.

For awhile, my life was one unending chore.  My goal was naptime.  My next goal was bedtime.  Sleep.DSCN8426

I enjoyed very little.

But it’s different now.  God has changed my heart.  Made me new. I have a new love for my Savior.  And a new love for all the precious gifts that He has put into my life.

I can enjoy swimming with my family.  A walk to the park.  Playing Trouble with a 1 year old who loves to pop the bubble.  Spending time with friends.

I can be content in the moment instead of always looking ahead to a coveted happiness.  God’s gift is NOW.  Not when the kids get bigger.  Not when they go down for naps.  And not on the days when the house is clean.

But NOW is God’s gift.  His good and perfect gift.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17  ESV

 

Time to Let Go

letting go2

An unforeseen blessing of blogging was the exposure to a variety of people with their own call bring glory to God.  One of those such bloggers writes from Inking the Heart:

Sometimes there are seasons of letting go and sometimes we have to let go of seasons. I think I just survived both.  I said goodbye to my 30’s on August 20.  That was a decade that began with the birth of my daughter and ended with growth and a newness in Christ, and the fullness of family and friends and the counting of 3000 plus blessings of thanksgiving.  It was easy to say goodbye to a number with the remembrance of all that Christ has done and the hope of all that He will do in my 40’s.  Summer, too, has come to an end.  And in that summer there was a lot of letting go.

There was a letting go of what I thought was the ideal career path.  In crept disappointment, feelings of not being good enough, doubts, and insecurity.  I could let go of the job, but it was hard work letting go of the feelings that followed.

There was a letting go of wages lost because I chose to spend a few days with my daughter.  Little did I know that in taking 3 days off instead of 2 my pay would be docked for the remainder of the school year.  And the anger set in…

but so did that still small voice….and He said, Let it go.”

It was a warning to not be consumed with my own feelings, but it was also prophetic because within an hour I had to let go of something else.

The gift my husband gave me on our anniversary was stolen.  I had no choice; I had to LET IT GO.

According to Dr. John Townsend in his book Loving People: How to Love & Be Loved, “Letting go is the ability to surrender and to allow what is real to exist.”  Letting go is accepting reality.

The reality that we can’t control people’s decisions.

The reality that life is not fair and we don’t always reap what we sow.

The reality that broken people do broken things and we will get hurt.

When you don’t face the truth of reality you are holding on to fear and control.  But fear and control really have a hold on you.  You are the prisoner and there is an enemy that wants to hold you captive by fear so that you can be controlled by it. And it is time to LET IT GO.

Let go of the fear that if you let go of someone or something, he or it will never change.

Let go of the control to live a life demanding perfect fairness.  If you don’t, instead, you will live a life controlled by dissatisfaction.

God is in the business of letting go and it would benefit us to follow in His footsteps.  He lets go by giving us free will.  Maybe we need to do the same for our spouse or an adult child or maybe even loosen the reign on your adolescent.

God lets go of His right to punish us by forgiving our sins.  Instead He offers grace and invites us to live in that.

God grieves when His sheep turn away.  If you have loss, grief is good.  For in grief you are feeling what it feels like to accept reality.  Grief is temporary so embrace it for the season and let the tears flow.  Letting go hurts, but pain is not permanent.

There is the cliché “Let go and Let God”.  It is a call to put your faith in God to provide and take care of matters for you.  1 Peter 5:8 says you are to humble yourself before the Lord “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

“To everything there is a season” and most seasons require some sort of letting go.  That letting go is often what opens your hands wide for the Lord’s hands to grab hold and lead you toward His perfect will and provision for you.

Rachel Krumpe from Inking the Heart                                                  Keep up with her on  Facebook