To Blog or To Live

Thursday, August 26, 2010  ::   1 important comment

I've thought a lot about this whole blogging venture. One of the main questions on my brain has been, "Why am I just now starting?" From somewhere in the back, dusty part of my brain, I remembered posting on a blog called Walking the Second Mile. If I remember correctly, and there's a good chance I don't, Chad and I started blogging when we first moved to Tucson to start Second Mile. We thought it would be a good way to keep people informed about our exciting new journey. I think we wrote about the church, Cord of Hope, Chad's job at Starbucks, and family.

So what happened?

Four beautiful girls were added to our family for almost two years. My whole world was turned upside down, tossed around, kicked a few times, and completely overtaken with parenting.

I think about these beauties often, but lately, they've been on my mind more than ever. It was the most difficult season of my life to date. Parenting my own four children is hard enough. Taking on four more was more than I bargained for. My time was regimented in a way that allowed me to get things done with efficiency and survival. Tasks like blogging were not only taken off the to-do list, but forgotten they were even on a list.

It would be so beautiful and spiritual if I could say in a sweet pious voice, "Ah, they taught me so much about God, love, beauty, mercy, patience." But that would be a big fat fake lie. I did learn about all those things, but it wasn't sweet and pious. It was down and dirty, in the mud. The kind of learning that is painful and pulls so much inner muck to the surface. I learned about my selfishness. I discovered what an angry person I was, and not angry about what happened to the girls... just plain ole angry. I was obedient to what God had asked us to do, but it was often a pouty, temper tantrum obedience. And, learning to ask for help. Ugh. Talk about difficult!

Thankfully, his mercy and grace walked me through it all. His voice was often crystal clear in rebuking me and in encouraging me. He brought so much inner healing to my heart in releasing me from deep seeded anger. He put me in a situation that I wouldn't have survived had I not asked for help. In putting aside the ministry to women that I longed to be part of, he showed me new lived out truth in James 1:27. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

It's true that I'm not a long term blogger with full archives and a wonderful internet history. However, in a conversation I recently had with my wise adopted oldest child, she enlightened me by sharing that she believes she, Kyle, Morgan, and Carah have been given the gift of hospitality because they can easily take foster kids into their space, love them, help take care of them, and share with them with a Spirit-filled ease. If the opportunity presents itself, I believe they would adopt another child into our home with grace and love. These lessons were learned by living out the title of our original blog and not just writing about it.

So, it's true. I'm getting a late start in the blog world, but my family is right where we belong in the race God has mapped out for us.

Making Psalm 128 Personal

Tuesday, August 24, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

Fear, respecting, revering God brings happiness.
Walking in obedience to God brings happiness.

I must continue to work hard for you.
I can revel in your goodness and faithfulness.

God, your word is a continual thought that isn't fragmented.
I love that bearing fruit is a continual theme.
May my life bear fruit for your glory to build your church!

I will stand in awe of you. Your blessing come to those who fear you.

Enjoying the good life you give me will be a choice I will make.

I will enjoy the fruit you allow me to bear on this sojourn.

The First Week

Thursday, August 19, 2010  ::   7 important comments

The first week of school has almost come to a close. They survived. They always do.

Every year, two weeks before school starts, my blood pressure rises on a daily basis, I find my self growling, irritation almost leaks from my pores. During the two weeks leading up to the first day we spend way to much money on supplies, clothes, and sports. The kids bicker and pester like no body's business. I tell Chad about a million times, "I can't wait for school to start."

And then, that darn first day shows up.

This year my silly children woke up at 5am because they were so excited. Just so you know, they aren't allowed to get out of bed on Christmas morning until 6am. The funny thing is that I asked them to be quiet for one more hour, but I didn't go back to sleep. I stayed in bed and stared at the ceiling.

My brain went berserk for the next hour... and most of the first day.

"I wonder what kind of people their teachers are. Will Morgan and Carah make friends easily at their new school? God, give them favor with their new teachers. Please help them to actually learn about triangles not half-squares this year. Oh no! We forgot to ask where the bathrooms are at open house. Kyle is sure excited to see his friends. I hope he isn't disappointed. Will he continue to lead them or will that begin to change this year? I've heard his teacher is a yeller and he hates to be in trouble. Please, Jesus, help Kyle to not get yelled at. And Esther, 8th grade, *big sigh*, keep her on the path of purity, God. Give her favor with the group of kids that don't care what others think. Steer her away from mean girls. Oh, thank you that she loves Morgan and Carah and will play with them still and tells them that she loves them. I'm glad they love each other. Do they really have to go to school today? I can't protect them there. Jesus, you love them more than I love them. Please, please, please protect them, keep their hearts turned towards you. Speak to them through-out the day. Help them to love you deeply and love the people around them."

On Thursday evening, with one day left in this first week of school, they are exhausted, difficult to wake up in the morning, eating so much because they use so much energy during the day... AND... they are content, finding favor with their teachers, making new friends, mindful of praying through-out the day, and looking forward to a great year.

Me? I'm grateful that Jesus loves my children more than I could possibly imagine. I'm trusting him that this is going to be the exact year for them that He intends for it to be. The victories will give them confidence in Him as we worship him through those experiences. The difficulties will teach them that He is refining them to be people who are dependent on Him. The plain ole normal days where nothing much happens will teach all of us that He will give us peace as we faithfully put our hands to the plow and live our lives for His glory alone.

Making Psalm 127 Personal

Monday, August 16, 2010  ::   2 important comments

If I am trying to take over for God, everything I do is in vain. He has to have control of the pen.* He has to be the builder of my family. He has to be the builder of Second Mile, Moxie, Cord of Hope. He has to be the builder of my relationships.

I need to take care of myself, take time off, get enough sleep. God loves me and wants to take care of me.

My children are a reward, a rich inheritance to me. But, God also gives me so many other people in my life that are mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons. Jesus, please help me love, nurture, and depend on them.

My kids will defend me. My Second Mile family will protect us. We will all stand strong together as a the enemy seeks to defeat us.

*Inserted after Chad's message on 8/15/10

Sunday, August 15, 2010  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

"We sabotage our happiness with selfishness."
-Chad Haynes

Growing, But Still So Much to Learn

Thursday, August 12, 2010  ::   2 important comments

Sometimes I still struggle with legalism. In college I could definitely be described as a legalistic person, but that was many moons ago. My motives back then were pure (most of the time), but my methods were complete insanity. Don’t speed. Always use the cross walk. Never miss a 7:00 am prayer meeting. Never watch rated R movies. Only listen to Steven Curtis Chapman, Twila Paris, or Maranatha Praise Band cassette tapes. Read the Bible at least 30 minutes a day and pray on my knees in the tightest prayer ball I could physically muster. The grossness of it all is that I could not for the life of me understand why others weren’t pursuing “holiness” with all their might the way I was. I longed for a great spiritual awakening in our country and believed we had to prove to God that we were holy enough, deep enough, spiritual enough, intense enough to desire his Spirit to rip through our country with fire and wake everyone up. Whew. It was such a huge burden for my young 18-20 year old self to bare. But, looking back, at the end of the day even though it was wrought with insanity, I really did desire to please Jesus. I had made so many mistakes. I so desperately wanted to pay for what I had done.

I remember during my Junior year of college driving in my car during a thunder storm and completely losing control of my emotions. Someone had challenged me to look at the depth of my sin (I did that continuously for three years. It was HOR-RI-BLE.) Another person had also challenged me to look at the depth of love Jesus displayed on the cross for all of my mistakes. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that part for awhile. Searching through the depths of my sin with no understanding of the cross was exhausting and full of condemnation. At one point the ‘look at the depth of love Jesus has for you’ part of the assignment returned to my memory. (Thank you, Holy Spirit.) After months of praying for a glimpse of his love, I realized in that moment during the pouring rain that Jesus truly loves me. Almost with the flashes of lightening across the sky that night, I had an epiphany that he knew the depth of my depravity, even deeper than I had contemplated it, yet he loved me and wanted an intimate relationship with me. During that time, the story of the sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair became one of my favorite Bible stories. That night was the first of many, many nights I’ve literally sat at Jesus’ feet washing his feet with my hair in humble gratitude that he has not kept the long list of my wrongs.

I guess I could say that I’m less legalistic than I used to be. For me, the legalism enters my life when I start thinking that I need to be doing more for Jesus in order to gain his approval. As I type, I’m shaking my head at how absurd that really is. His fatherly love is already freely given to me. I so long to honor Jesus with my entire being. I want to run the race, throw off everything that hinders, love him with all my heart. The depths of his grace pushes me to the floor in silence on a regular basis. The thought that I can stand with my head and hands lifted high and sing as loud as I can in honor of him thrills my soul. So, why the legalism? Why do I still struggle with the need to prove to him and others that am a devoted follower?

Maybe it’s the fear of taking his grace for granted. Maybe it’s because his holiness makes me almost nervous to the point I feel I should whisper. Maybe it’s knowing he knows my inmost thoughts and it is embarrassing to think the God of the Universe is listening to my depraved mind. Maybe it’s because I love him so much and a key part of who he made me to be is a humongous desire to please those in my life I love.

Whatever the reason may be, I pray fervently that my motives, your motives in pursuing the God of the universe are ultimately because we love him. I hope that I/we live to honor him. I strongly desire to make daily decisions that draws me closer into his presence, that our worship would be pure and focused on his glory and not our own.

I’ve also been contemplating the opposite of legalism... but that is for another day. :)

Making Psalm 126 Personal

Thursday, August 12, 2010  ::   1 important comment

The times that you've brought me out of captivity have been like a dream! Because of my new freedom I sang, laughed, danced. I was completely filled with joy. And, people noticed the great things you did for me!

You have done amazing things in my life and I am joyful!

Because I've tasted your goodness I am so ready for you to do it again.

God, bring your rain into my dry life.
Bring your rain into Second Mile.

As we sow tears of weariness, you promise that there will be shouts of joy in the harvest.
You will lift our heavy heart with laughing and blessing.

We wait for you on our knees with faith and patience. We desire to be good soil. We won't eat the seed and never sow it for harvest. We will sow your seed into our lives and we will reap bountiful loads of blessing.

A Person's a Person...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010  ::   5 important comments

Dignity is something that I often find myself contemplating. It is such a mysterious trait of humanity. We bestow the right of dignity on people as if we are the ones deciding to whom it belongs. I personally believe that being human alone should afford the right to be treated with dignity. When I think about Adam and Eve walking the grounds of the garden with complete confidence, totally naked, I can’t help but to envy how free they must have felt. The funny thing is they didn’t know anything different, so they probably didn’t appreciate it until it was gone. Once they ate the fruit, discovered they were naked, sought to cloth themselves because of shame, and hid from God, our dignity was forever corroded and humans would spend the rest of our existence determining who was worthy of dignity and who wasn’t.
A few months ago I walked out of a home goods store and saw a man who probably didn’t have a home walking down the sidewalk a few stores away. He looked jittery and very skinny. I decided to walk a little slower to my car so I could see if he needed anything. As he came closer it looked as if he was trying to decide whether or not to ask me for some spare change, so I took the initiative. Asking him if I could by him lunch at the Hardy’s nearby took him by surprise. He looked up and then back down stared at the ground for what was an uncomfortable period of time. Finally, he broke the silence and in what I thought was an act of honesty, vulnerability, and bravery said, “No, I just really need a beer.” I thanked him for his honesty and told him I only had a dollar and some change, and then gave him what I had in my pocket. When I asked him his name, he again stood in shock and silence. He quietly answered my question in the form of a question. “Steve?” he said. I stuck out my hand to shake his and with a smile and hopefully, visible sincerity replied, “Nice to meet you, Steve.”
Do you ever think about the dignity of the people you walk past in the grocery store parking lot that need spare change because “their kids are in the car and they are just trying to get to Phoenix?” What about the dignity of the young lady who is wearing a very, very short skirt with the word ‘juicy’ written across the bottom? Or how about the dignity of the person who is holding the protest sign that says “God hates -insert horrible slang here-?” What about the dignity of the mother who doesn’t have the right papers to stay in this country legally, but humbly takes any opportunity she can to provide for her family?
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, Matthew 25:31-45 is a story that you may be familiar with. The ending is beautiful, convicting, prompting, provides opportunity to daily holy moments. To paraphrase Jesus it says, whatever you did for people in some sort of need, you did for me. Isn’t that exciting and terrifying all at the same time? In looking at people with dignity, giving to others in need even if it is just a smile and a handshake, you are doing the same thing to Jesus. The terrifying thought is every time I look down my long judgmental nose at someone, refuse a bottle of water, roll my eyes at the scantily clad girl, scream at someone to go back to their own @#*$ country I’m doing all of those things to the Jesus I love so deeply.
My heart aches to be obedient in the split second decisions I’m given on a daily basis to love Jesus. He has showed unfathomable grace to me. He has clothed me with strength and dignity. My security is found in him alone. My prayer is that I will intensely reflect these precious gifts to people around me and lead others to do the same.