Today I'm praying for/about:

Today, (in no particular order) I'm praying for...
- Fresh ideas, inspiration and diligence to post regularly again

- My dad fighting mesothelioma too far away for me to hug him

- Children, parents, and teachers everywhere preparing to return to school

- My single friends as they seek God for His guidance in relationships

- Broken relationships; for grace to abound where grace has been withheld

- You; I'm praying for every single person who views this blog.

Thank you for standing in agreement with me for these precious souls!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wrestling With Surrender

I'm homesick.  I have been for a long time.  I grew up about an hour from Seattle in western Washington and my whole family is still there.  I left home in November of 1997 and except for moving back for a year in 2006, I haven't even visited yearly during the last 14 years.  Thanks to Facebook I keep in touch with the majority of my family and childhood friends and I talk with my mom daily but I miss them terribly.  I also miss the scenery and climate (yes, even the rain and gloom!).  If you've never visited there I highly recommend it someday; I've traveled a lot in 14 years and I believe it's the most beautiful place I've ever lived (the second would have to be the Yorkshire Dales).  Furthermore, I grew up spending a lot of time with extended family.  We spent many a weekend on my late grandparents property riding bikes or horses with our cousins, playing softball games in the pasture or frisbee 500 in the driveway.  My kids asked the other day "What are 'cousins'?"  I didn't know how to explain (especially since they're actually second cousins!)  

Because I don't want my husband to feel bad for "keeping me away" I have been praying that God would take away this desire for Him to eventually call us back there.  When I solemnly shared with my husband that God had not done so he suggested that instead of praying for God to take away my homesickness that I instead pray for joy right where I am.

That's when the tears broke loose...  He's right.  I didn't cry about praying for joy though; I cried because of the revelation I had in that moment.  I realized that while I was serving in the Navy that everything was "for a time" (basic training, schools, each assignment, etc.) that was usually pre-determined.  Now that we're in ministry I'm realizing that it's all indefinite.  We don't know where, when or for how long God will take (or leave) us anywhere.  I realized He may never lead us back to Washington.  I realized that it's not just the little, everyday things that God asks us to surrender.  

There's several scripture passages that come to mind lately.  One is Abraham laying Isaac on the altar... oh how he must have felt leading up to the moment where the ram appeared!  I also think about all the times Jesus told people what they would have to leave behind or sacrifice to really follow Him (family, friends, careers, comforts of home, all that was familiar)...  I think I can relate.  It's so much easier to say "I want what God wants" but there's a very painful battle that we each face when the proverbial rubber meets the road.  Do we truly want what God wants?  Are we fully ready to surrender all?  Born with sinful hearts every one of us has to make the choice to die to our desires; even ones that seem healthy.

Who knows but God whether He will send us back to the west coast some day...  For the sake of peace though, since it is not now, I have to hand it over, being careful, of course, of that fine line between true, joy-filled surrender and fatalistic, begrudging pessimism reminiscent of a child's tantrum.  I think of a situation the other day when a particular toy was the source of conflict between my boys.  When I asked for the toy to be handed over the boy in possession threw it towards me with an attitudinal "Fine!  Take it; you don't want me to have anything!"  Which, of course, is not true but oh how our sinful hearts have a propensity for selfishness!

What has God been asking you to surrender?  Is it pride?  Control?  Comfort?  Fear?  A relationship (or lack of one)?  Something (or someone) else?  None are ours to withhold, though the enemy will tell you otherwise.  Pray today that God will show you where you are keeping something back and hindering your ability to serve Him in the full measure of your capacity.  What is the one thing that you fear would turn your world upside down if He takes away or fails to grant?  That's your "Isaac".   Do not, however, fear the altar, for freedom, blessing and a deeper measure of faith await you there.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Matrix

At the weekly, ladies' bible study I attend, we were talking last week about how limited our perspective is.  How we see "time" only as linear, how self-centered we are amidst our challenges and how hard it is to wrap our finite minds around an INfinite God.

It's almost like we have blinders on that give us a very narrow, tunnel vision.  In our carnal, human nature, this is where our perspective is confined.  The more we allow the Holy Spirit in then the wider our scope becomes.  Sometimes, we get a glimpse of how much bigger the "grand scheme" really is and it's mind-blowing.  I'm sure if we could see/understand all of our lives from God's view that it would send us into mental over-load and shut-down.

One thing I thought of as the group of us discussed the concept was the movie The Matrix.  I'm not a huge fan (I felt that the story line and character progressions were just ok and that the ending of the trilogy was rather anti-climactic) but one thing did impress me:  The makers of The Matrix trilogy were cinematic innovators.  They used so many camera angles simultaneously that they were able to, sort of, pick up an entire scene, and rotate it.  Pondering this then reminded me of watching my husband manipulate a Rubik's cube; twisting, turning it over, taking note of what needed to move where for every piece to fall into place.

None of this is to trivialize God's sovereignty in any way, shape or form but instead to illustrate, in a very pathetic way, how complete God's purview of every detail really is.  He is not linear in His concept of "time".  He is not narrow in His scope of view.  He is not limited in His control.  In fact, He is not limited.  At all.  In any way.  And, unlike my husband with the Rubik's cube, God NEVER toys with us.  Every move is intentional, provisional, purposed and... loving.

So many people ask, and from our human perspectives, this is a valid question, "Why, if God is so loving, does He let bad things happen to good people?"  (Or, depending on how embittered we are, "do to")  As if God is ignorantly passive, or, worse, like a cosmic bully, chasing us as ants with His magnifying glass and sunlight.

On the contrary, every single trial, struggle, storm or tragedy we have endured (or will yet endure) has a purpose.  Our lives and our destinies are meant for the growth of God's kingdom.  His plans for us will always be for other people.  Your experience, testimony and resulting strengths and/or weaknesses, at some point, will be an encouragement to another person who thinks they are alone, without hope and lost.  Allow God to twist and turn you, use you, trusting that He knows exactly where and when He wants you, that no struggle comes upon you unless through Him and that very often, even amidst the trial, someone is watching, amazed at God's peace and power manifesting in your life.  

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."  (Isaiah 55:8-11)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

At Random

I know, I know... it's been a LONG while since I last posted.  If any of you are still out there reading this, thank you.  I have to admit that the morning sickness and fatigue (coupled with our frenetic pace of life) have been getting the best of me.  Lately, if I find myself not driving, cooking or helping with homework, I've taken as many opportunities as possible to spend quality time in my comfy chair or my bed.  I've really felt bad that I haven't posted anything in so long and found myself pondering if I should have ventured into the blog world at all (gotta love the whispers of the enemy in your ear, right??).  In the last few days, however, I've had some new topics start popping back into my head and, at least for the moment, the desire to write is actually greater than the desire to grab a quick snooze before dinner.

In addition, I've recently been introduced to the addicting site, Pintrest.  If you do not already have an account I recommend (HIGHLY) that you avoid it at all cost.  It is a wonderful and evil site all at the same time.  It is a site where every nifty craft ideas on blogs the world over, beautiful artwork, captivating photography, fashion/health/beauty tips, party ideas, decorating, music, celebrities (and so-on, so-on, so-on...) are all compiled by others who have "pinned" links to the site.  You then get to create your own "pin boards" (or categories) to then spend hours scrolling through brilliant idea, helpful tips and plain, raw cuteness.  After seeing some of the ideas I thought of things I've done that may be helpful to others so I may begin posting more than just my thoughts here.  You will begin to find things I wrote and shared in the past, recipes I've concocted and ideas I've come up with to make life with many children slightly more sane.

I plan to try adding different pages to this blog (though I have yet to learn how) so stay tuned for some changes.  I also promise to try and make posts more regularly again (though I can't guarantee it based on how up/down I've felt of late!).  Thanks, again, to anyone who's still reading this.  It's a humbling encouragement to know that what God puts on my heart is blessing someone.  Until next time, then, may you be well blessed.