Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Every Morning

Have you ever thought of the reality of this scripture? As I drove into work this morning, I did. I am not a morning person, but I wish I were because mornings are amazing. I wish I would get up earlier to enjoy them more.

In the evenings when I am so tired, everything seems so heavy. All my failures seem bigger. All my burdens seem to weigh even more.

I think about how I failed to show my kids the tenderness and love that I should have. 

I meditate on my failure to notice, honor and respect my husband the way he so deserves.

I remember all the things I ate that I shouldn't have. The workout that I should have done but didn't.

I wonder if I did my job well enough today. Did I say things that hurt a coworker? Or what about that coworker who hurt me with her biting words?

All those things nag at me in the night. 

But I wake up in the morning to a fresh start. Another chance to love my kids, respect my husband, care for my body, and be a friend. God's mercies are new every morning. Now go out there and live like it!

The Beast

Are you struggling through a difficult time and you just don’t understand why? Are you questioning God and wondering if He really cares?

I’ve been there too and I think I have to answer to your question, “Why?” It may not be the answer that you’re looking for, but does it really matter why? My daughter is no longer with us. I really don’t care why, I just want her back! My family member is making really bad life-or-death choices and I really don’t care why, I just want him to change! My friends are struggling to keep their heads above water financially. Does it matter why? Can’t You just fix it, Father?

It does matter why. And I think this email I sent to my friend who is borrowing my husband’s pick up while her husband’s vehicle has major repairs done to it (which they are struggling to afford).
As I pulled up to the parking lot today, and saw The Beast in the spot your little car usually occupies, I was struck with this thought… You would never choose to drive a beast… in fact you doubted that you could… but here you are… two days in a row and alive to tell about it. But you never would have chosen it if you had any other options. That's how God forms us and shapes us. He requires us to do things we never thought we could do… He requires us to go through things we never thought we could survive… things we shouldn't have to survive. But here we are. We keep getting up. We keep moving on. We keep putting one foot in front of the other. We keep smiling. We keep ministering. Amazing.
So if you’re going through a challenging time and you feel like you can’t go on… like you can’t survive and you wonder why, it’s because God is forming you… shaping you. He’s showing you that you can do more than you ever dreamed you could do. You could even drive a beast if you have to!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

'Nuff Said

Here is an article that says everything I would want to say to a mom whose adult or teenage child has begun writing their own story and it doesn't even come close to the story you had written for them since the first day you knew you carried them in your womb.

I will be printing it out and keeping it in my Bible. Reading and rereading it daily, if not hourly for a while. Please check it out, then the next time you see me beating myself up with past regrets, remind me to read it again.

When Strong Mamas Feel Quite Weak

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Idols of the Heart

I just came to the shocking discovery that I have an idol in my heart. There is a situation in a family member’s life that I have wept over, prayed over, fasted over and lost sleep over. I’m not saying it’s wrong to weep, pray, fast or even lose sleep over a situation that needs God’s attention, but I caught myself in the middle of a thought that jarred my spirit: “My life would be perfect, if only [this situation was different]” I’ll spare you the unnecessary details.

I didn’t instantly recognize that thought as idolatry, but I did realize that it was an unhealthy thought. I began to journal furiously, trying to get to the root of it. I realized that this thought was not just about me loving this family member and wanting what's best for him, but that it revealed a problem in me. Every now and then I almost get a glimpse of deliverance, but the minute it begins to come into focus, I find myself frantic, desperately pleading for God to intervene in my family member’s life.

It’s like there are two voices in my head. One is offering deliverance and peace. The other saying, “You’re just using Psalm 46:10 and Romans 8:28 as a cop out. You’re shirking your responsibility. You can never be happy because this is all your fault.”

One day, when I complained to my dear, sweet spiritual mentor that I felt I had done everything wrong in this situation, she said to me, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION…!” I knew in my spirit that this was a message from God to me.

Then I read a little book by Timothy Keller called, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. It was a free download for Kindle and I really like the author, so I got it and began reading it. Here’s a portion of what I read:
In Christianity, the moment we believe, God says, ‘This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.’ Or take Romans 8:1, which says, ‘Therefore there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ In Christianity, the moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family. In other words, God can say to us just as He once said to Christ, “You are my son whom I love, with you I am well pleased."

The very next day, a friend posted a quote on facebook from, you guessed it, Timothy Keller. I had no idea this friend was reading a Tim Keller book and he had no idea that I was either. Here’s the quote my friend posted:
Each day Jesus says to us, ‘You are my beloved child. I am well pleased in you. Now live that way.’ Satan, on the other hand says, ‘Look at you. Look at the condition of your circumstances. Look how poorly you’re living. There is no way you are God’s beloved child.’ Which voice are you going to believe?
This evening the conviction went even deeper, revealing my idol. When I began to suspect that I had made this family member and his situation an idol, I started researching idols of the heart. Guess who has studied and written volumes about idols of the heart. Yep, Tim Keller.

Here’s what he says, “Why do we lie, or fail to love or break our promises, or live selfishly?” In my case, why am I depressed, sluggish and jealous? Why do I eat to comfort myself?  “…there is something besides Jesus Christ that we feel we must have to be happy,” (My life would be perfect if only…) “something that is more important to our heart than God, something that is enslaving our heart through inordinate desires. The key to change (and even to self understanding) is therefore to identify the idols of the heart.”

Idols of the heart start out as good things! My family member who I have lost so much sleep over is an incredibly valuable person to God. I know that God wants much more for him than he is allowing God to give him. But I have become obsessed with him and his situation. I struggle to hear the voice of God over the condemning one that shouts accusations at me about this situation. God has clearly told me to be still and know that He is God. He has impressed Romans 8:28 on my heart that all things work together for good for those who are called and who love God. I know that there are many more factors involved than me. Yet, even after quoting those verses and others, I hear the shouts that I am responsible for this situation and that I cannot truly be happy until it changes. The guilt and regret begin to suffocate the very Word of God in my heart.

What is happening here? I am exchanging the truth of God for a lie! According to Romans 1:25, that is idolatry. When I choose to believe the voice of the enemy over the voice of God, I am committing idolatry, a violation of the very first of the Ten Commandments.

Keller goes on to list a whole slew of categories of idolatry, one of them being Family Idolatry. His example goes like this: “Life only has meaning if my [family members] are happy and happy with me.” Sounds very similar to, “My life would be perfect if only my family member’s situation were different.”

Wow, unbeknownst to him, my heart has made this dear, precious family member an idol. God forgive me. Deliver me, I pray. Just maybe if I can truly let go, and place him in Our Father’s very capable hands, God will be more free to work in his life. Lord, help me do that.