Thursday, February 27, 2014

So, this ended...


.... on Tuesday,

...and I don't know it fully yet.

The last couple of weeks have got me kind of hung up. And I'm kind of conflicted on that. Not worried, not at all. Just conflicted, kind of. (Because, what exactly is hanging me up?!) It's definitely something to be in prayer over as I press on and push through -- and that's okay. :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Lord is my portion - a reminder when feeling less than adequate

I'm a Today Show viewer. I used to watch GMA but in the last few years GMA has appealed to me less and less and now The Today Show appeals to me more and more. I don't know what it is exactly. Any morning show viewer typically flocks to one or the other, I suppose. If you're in the GMA crowd, you know, that's cool too. But you would have missed this morning's tag of No Make-Up Monday. It was even suggested that we all just wear our sweatpants all day long during No Make-Up Monday. I'm good with that. I haven't had a day "off" from one job or another since the flu hit us a couple of weeks ago and, since that was no vacation, I'm feeling a little worn out. Sweatpants, a fuss free face (say that five times fast) and a pony tail (I threw that one in myself) sound about perfect to me.

Over on the Proverbs 31 Blog-Hop they're talking about Lamentations 3:22-24, which says...

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.
 
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;

    therefore I will wait for him.”

This is one of my "go-to" verses as a mom and a teacher of youth. All too often I hear stories of young ladies and young men who are struggling with their identity. They struggle with the things others say to them, or say about them. They struggle with their hair, their face, their pant size. It's in those times that we come to scriptures just like these and revisit the truth that our worth isn't found in the things of this world, in the way other people view us. Our worth is in Christ alone. Because of His love, we don't need to be consumed by the worries of this world. He is faithful - every day - and He alone is our portion.

But it's not just about physical appearance. And when I take a deeper look at myself I see where I truly struggle with allowing myself to rest in the Lord being my portion. I'm just like everyone else, I see my imperfections and sometimes I wish I was different in this way or that way (even my hair or my pant size) but what really breaks me down is when I feel less than adequate. When I don't have enough time to do all that I need to do, or when I don't have enough brain cells functioning to even remember all that I need to do - when I fall short of my expectations or the expectations of others. My glass house can shatter when someone is critical of my actions in the middle of busyness or when someone tells me how they feel about my kids' behavior. We're not perfect. We just aren't. My kids, they run and play and are loud. Being a pastors kid doesn't mean that they are going to just quietly sit still with their hands folded in their laps every waking minute of every single day. They're still kids, they still play. I want that for them. And when I make a mistake - when I forget to print something off, or when I forget to call someone back, I would love for that not to be pointed at me with a wagging finger. I'm trying over here, sincerely. But sometimes it's too busy and sometimes I fall short. We all do. I'm not a spiritual giant, but even if I were, I'm still imperfect me. Most of the time I am ok with that, but in those seasons of critical eyes and finger wags, it can get to be too heavy. And then I have to tell myself the very same things I'm telling the kids -

Your worth is not found in the opinions of others, your worth is found in Christ. He is your portion. When you're running thin, remember that when you rest in His love you will not be consumed by the worries of this world. His compassion, His mercy, His grace - it never fails and is new every day because He is faithful. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion and I will wait for Him. And I say it as many times as I need to say it so that it really sinks into this busy mom's heart. My portion is Him and I am more than blessed.


There I find rest.




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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wrapping up James 1:16-18


Some of these weeks are going to be rough.

I know verse 16 (how could I not? It's like eight words long!)
I know verse 17 - I have for years, which actually makes it all the more silly that I couldn't remember it earlier in the week.
But verse 18... nope. Some of these weeks are just going to be rough.

And it doesn't bother me so much. At least not this week (but sometimes the struggle does bother me.) But life happened. And isn't that part of all of this anyway?

Do not be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters...
It would be foolish to believe that this would be without flaw. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights...
EVERY good gift. And EVERY perfect gift. And EVERY single last gift that we mistake in our finite minds as being less than good and perfect, there is something good and perfect to behold in those gifts too - something that has come down from the Father of heavenly lights. Like the rest found only in sickness. Like the quiet found in a windy, sleepless night. Like the togetherness of a couple sitting on the couch browsing the internet for new tires - togetherness that their busyness may have kept them from otherwise.

He does not change like shifting shadows...
This type of perfect goodness is always around us. We just have to open our eyes to see it, to really take it in for what it is. At first glance the gifts are hard to see. We see the circumstances and we see the negatives. Look harder though -- or better yet, get down on your knees and CLOSE YOUR EYES. Take in that breath and ask Him to reveal that perfect good gift.

This isn't prosperity gospel.
Life gets tough. Paths are slick and darkness creeps in. It can be hard to find that stable footing. It doesn't mean it's not there. You just have to LOOK HARDER. SEEK with MORE than what you may think you have within you. Because it's not you within you, it's the Father of heavenly lights, unchanging, ever illuminating.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created...
Open your eyes. It's like being born again, seeing this truth, seeing this fruit of creation right before you, right beside you, right in YOU. There's a newness and a beauty that you couldn't see before.

There's a perfectly good gift in that trial. Open your eyes.



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Monday, February 17, 2014

Grace Sufficient



Today is a sleepy Monday. However, the people surrounding me don't seem to realize that this is a sleepy Monday. They all seem to be under the impression that today is a loud Monday, or a messy Monday, or a stinky Monday (thank you, baby, for two foul diapers before 9:00 a.m.)

On the tail end of a tail kicking virus and a relentless cough; After a busy weekend full of work and friends and family and worship - worship which sometimes blurs between rest and work (the struggles of a ministry wife) - comes this loud, messy, stinky, sleepy Monday.

Monday throws in another wrench (literally) and becomes an inconvenient Monday.

The tire blows and the budget is tight.

The rush in him to just go and get it fixed (because who has time for a blown out tire?) verges against my inner planner who needs to find a place for this expense in the checkbook and a place for this expense to be purchased from where it will cost the least.

Tension.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me... calm down. This happened on this loud, messy, stinky, sleepy, inconvenient Monday. And not just any Monday, but a holiday. A day when he wasn't driving 50+ mph down a curvy country road - because it's a holiday and he didn't have to make that drive today. That blow out could have happened in a worse location than the church office parking lot.

Calm down. That husband of yours, the one who always wants to fix things, the one who would rather take care of it now and take care of it right - the one who handles you with that same concern, attention, and care - he's a rare find. Too many men are willing to ignore needs and cave to the wants of this culture. That husband of yours is a blessing.

Calm down. Money? Sure, it's important. A necessary evil. But your babies will be safe. You'll all be safe. And fed. And clothed. And sheltered. This isn't going to break the bank.

Calm down. My grace is sufficient for you - yes, even when your head is spinning and you feel that tension. My power is made perfect in weakness - surrender here. And there. And again and again and again. Rest in that weakness, in that grace sufficient. Boast in it even. This is just another moment that will bring your heart focus. Focus off of the noise and the messes. Focus off of the smells and the lack of sleep. Focus off of the inconvenient. Focus, heart, focus. Focus on the grace and the power of Christ, the grace and power that is made perfect in you during these significant moments of seemingly insignificant trials...


Is it any wonder that I'm committing James to heart and mind this year? Test. Trials. Perseverance. The ever revolving theme it seems, and the ever revolving need to remember that He is faithful through it all and grace is sufficient.





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Saturday, February 15, 2014

James 1:16-18


So, the flu. Not only has it sabatoged Valentine's Day around these parts, but it's kind of put a dent in my scripture memorization.

Last night as I drifted off to sleep I went through verses 1-15 of chapter 1. Still good there. But the new ones for this week, not so much.

Honestly, I don't know them at all yet.

Thankfully this is a year long journey.




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Friday, February 14, 2014

Why I don't hate Valentine's Day

Every year starting on the first of February I leave my Bradley notes, little gifts, do him special favors - all kinds of things. I do this daily for the first two weeks of February and he wraps it up on February 14 with some amazing date night. Some would stop me right here and argue that we should be doing this year long - and we do - but Valentine's day is somewhat special for us.

Wanna hear a sappy love story?

1996. I was a junior, he was a senior. We were at a vocational school. It was my first year there and we had just returned from Christmas break. I started noticing him, EVERYWHERE. He was around every corner. He would bump into me in the hall. He would walk by the doorway of all of my classes and peek in, but only just long enough to make eye contact. His appearances left me curious, wondering just what he was up to. Was he looking for me?

We had actually met several months before during my junior orientation. On that day he was a shameless flirt, arrogant in every possible way. I was "taken" (in the sense that teenagers often are, meaning simply infatuated with my current boyfriend) and not interested. Ironically my mother actually said to me "oh Jessi, you could date him this year." If she had only known...

On February 14, 1996, after weeks of being followed around by this seemingly shy boy, he finally approaches me. Stumbling on words but with a smile in his beautiful blue/gray eyes, he says... "um... so... I've been checking you out for a while now and I thought I should ask your name..." Really romantic, right?

Over the next few days I received several emails from him - some poems and just general questions from him as he pursued my heart (I later printed them all off and I still have them to this day.) A friend of his even emailed me and told me how out of character for him this behavior really was - that he wasn't shy at all, but for some reason with me he was (which is true - this man, even when he was that boy, is one of the most outspoken and extroverted people that I have ever met.)

A couple of weeks went by. Dozens of emails exchanged. A few phone calls shared. And then everything changed. I realized on this particular day that I hadn't seen him yet. I asked for a hall pass so that I could turn the tables and go find him. He was right where I thought he would be - hacky-sacking with some other guys in the commons area. I walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around, smiled, and then just wrapped me up in his arms -- AND HE KISSED ME!

That was our first kiss.
Total surprise.

He says he knew he would marry me that first time he saw me after we returned from Christmas break. At that moment, as we both stood there surprised, I think I knew it too.

All I wanted to do was say hello, and he kissed me. Later I learned what was going on his mind, why he would think that was ok to do... After a weekend of struggle, of truly painful circumstances, he had determined to leave school and end his life. But when he saw me, as ridiculous as it may sound, he decided that ending his life would be a mistake. Seeing my face, taking that chance at our first kiss, it all saved his life. We were engaged about seven weeks later. We married that July. And it all began on Valentine's day. So yeah, Valentine's day is kind of special for us.


Now, I actually began writing this earlier this week, mid-flu. Our normal 14 days has been sabotaged by germs and coughing and sleeping and sneezing. Not being able to do all these things I had planned for has been slightly disappointing, but you know, in sickness and in health. And I thought I would write here about all these ideas that I had planned to do, things that I do to show him how I love him, to show him how I love how he loves me.

And then the Valentine's day hate started flying around. All of the "We don't do that" and "It's a Hallmark holiday" and "I hate Valentine's day" comments...

Sometimes it can be hard not to let statements that come off as crass steal your joy.

But I get it. For some, today hurts. Love lost. Broken hearts. Loneliness. Materialism. It's all a part of the day. It can be hard to see past the hurt, past the struggle, past the money, past being alone in a world plastered in candy hearts and red roses contrasted against a snowy gray sky.

Just the same, I don't hate Valentine's day.

In my home, in my heart, it means so much more than just flowers and candy and fancy dinners out. In my home, in my heart, it means life found in love; It means celebrating love even when it's hard. It means remembering where we've been and looking forward to what lies ahead. It means having an excuse to indulge in some of these "Hallmark" things because we want to - because we can - because we've been blessed with someone to do so.


18 years ago today a seemingly shy boy asked me my name, stole my heart, and changed my life. I celebrate that. That's why I don't hate Valentine's day.

I love you, my Bradley.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

*cough* Still... *cough* ... breathing... *sniff*

Truly, we are getting better over here. Or maybe that's just optimism. Or disillusion. Or a little bit of it all.

The husband went back to work yesterday, though his co-workers all agreed that he should have stayed home another day. He probably would have too, except then we would have had to pay for a doctors visit. But he was fever free, able to stand and talk and even smile (and hopefully no longer contagious) so it was off to work for him.

The younger two of the bunch here are on the up and up, and haven't even had to not do school work through any of this mess, so either a) they're dramatic and seeking a sick day, unsuccessfully, or b) they were blessed with the most minor case of the flu, ever.

Myself and the eldest child, we're both coughing and sneezing our heads off, but our temps are both nearly normal now, and the headache is gone (thank you sweet Jesus.) Now if someone would kindly remove the elvish knives that are lodged throughout my throat, I would greatly appreciate it.

And the one lone survivor, well, she's still surviving. She's also consumed nearly a gallon of orange juice since Monday, washed her hands non-stop (I've taught her well) and has holed up in her bedroom when not caring for the sickies. I can't say I blame her at all. She's been a great help though - picking up chores that aren't hers to do, attending to drink and med needs of the lame around her. I'm a pretty lucky momma to have such a wonderful darling to help hold up the walls of this house while the inhabitants are less than healthy.


TOMORROW - A Valentine's Day post. It's sure to make you either say "aaawwww", if you don't hate the day. Or maybe plan for next year, if you're semi crafty and like stealing ideas on the internets (that's where nearly everything I do comes from.) Or you may just gag, and that's ok too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

*cough*cough*cough*

I'm sick.

It's the kind of sick that makes you plead for death... ok, not really. But it is the kind of sick that makes you plead for mercy, relief, and healing. Fever, chills, headache, body aches, and the cough - oh sweet mother of mercy, the cough.

So, not a whole lot of bloggin' happening in these parts over this past week. BUT I did commit the verses to heart and mind, so at least I've managed that.


Hopefully in a day or two, during my flu rest and recovery, I'll have some time to come back and share some other things I've been meaning to write up - Valentiney, super-mushy, lovey-dovey, things.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

A nothing post

Really.

I'm just testing out a code for something, carry on. :)

XRNPGUT3WFZB

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wrapping up James 1:11-12


I have been so diligent in attempting to commit this to heart and mind over the past week. It's not been easy. I don't know if it's the verse, if it's the constant busyness that is my life, or if my heart just isn't absorbing it. I basically know it but I leave out a word or change a word here and there. Just the same, I don't feel defeated. When I wake up, these words are on my lips. As I press through my tasks in the day, I'm reciting them. The husband and I, we recall what we can to each other and help where the other is missing it. As I drift off to sleep, I'm letting it all float through my mind...

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask you must believe and not doubt because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances should take pride in their high position, but the rich should take pride in their humiliation - since they will fade away like a wild flower. The sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom will fall and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to all who love him.

(That's me typing from memory. I haven't double checked it yet, so don't take it as being accurate!)

I don't share this boastfully. I share this for the benefit of my mind, my heart, my life. I share it in hope to not just repeat the words but really just let them sink in. I share this to bring Him glory.

And I sure hope I got them right!

So, I'm a day late sharing this. I actually began the next verses in this journey today! I'm sure I'll be back to share more regarding those later in the week.