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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Who sets the pace?

There is this standard....one that is blurry and confusing.  It's taught in every church and yet, it never looks the same.  It is discussed in every small group and is in the heart of every follower of Christ.  It pokes at our guilt and doesn't fit in a nice, neat, easily defined box.  We use it to judge and put fellow followers down.  We use it to falsely elevate and comfort ourselves into believing we have it right.  We quietly use it to dismantle the fabric of our faith and change what was done into what we need to do.

What is my life supposed to look like if I'm living for You?  Not in a dusty sandals kind of way but in this messed up culture of technology and distraction.....what is it supposed to look like now?  Not by culture or by group, by city or by church....just by me....what is MINE supposed to look like?  

How often do we compare someone else's outward faith to our own?  We see that Susie, and Bonnie, and Blair all are disciplined in a morning routine of devotion.  They regularly post a scripture they read that morning and appear to be the epitome of humble perfection.   Then there is Lisa and Donna and Carrie....from outward appearances (because lets face it regardless of who you are seeing, that is ALL you are seeing) they participate in bible studies, talk about morning quiet time, are perfectly put together and yet they are emasculating to their husbands and they gossip but boy can they serve coffee with a smile at church.  You could pick out a whole other group who can speak deeply about the Lord and use His name in vain in the next sentence.  With no hesitation to curse or speak badly of another.  

No matter how "perfect" or "flawed" our fellow follower is....the vision of what our own faith in action is supposed to look like is flawed.  No two of us are the same.  We are each unique, our lives, our personalities and our histories.  So how on earth would my faith take the shape naturally to be like someone else's?  Not one of my friends has a brain injury.  Scripture speaking about coming to the Lord "in the morning", church, books, people and all manner of resources talking about how we are to wake early in the morning and meet with Him because that is what is right.......and then there is the "first fruits" of our time.  Does first fruits mean simply the first moments or the best moments?   Was it the first actual fruits harvested or was it the best of the best of the harvest?  My best is not in the morning.  I'm frankly not sure when my best is or if it's even at the same time each day.  So in my random chaos of a mind....what is my best?  What and when are my first fruit moments?  

I've spoken previously about a desire to be ceaseless with Him.  My desire does not wane but my behavior does.  I am easily distracted and driven off course.....tossed to and fro by the waves.  I would love to be disciplined like other women I know, those who have that set time and place where they sit to read His Word and talk with Him.  It is not something that comes naturally to me.   It is forced and uncomfortable because it doesn't feel genuine.  I've heard people speak about how some things you just need to do, before the feeling comes and it feels natural.  I get that....but I don't know how to get past the feeling that it is dishonoring to Him to force something like that.  Does it then become legalism from a lukewarm heart?

Is that what it is supposed to look like for me?  Is a morning "devotion" time what He wants for me?  Does He want that kind of action to be a part of my faith life?  Or is it His plan for me to be random?  Am I being tossed by the waves or am I giving myself over to move where and how He wants me to?  Am I seeing my faith through the eyes of my Father or the eyes around me?  Perhaps that spiritual fire doesn't burn the same in each of us.....because it isn't meant to?   What if some of us are meant to burn bright and crackly....noisemakers for God and some are meant to burn deeply....quiet and consistent....an understated heat that keeps the flame going for others....so they can dance with a colored light or shoot off loud crackling sparks?  

Lately I keep hearing messages that feel the the push of "should".   How we should love.  How we should minister.  How we should reach out.  They are all good messages.  All deeply good and right things to preach.  .....but.....inside....it makes something in my spirit twist.  My mind rings with do not conform.....because would He have created us each so lovingly, interestingly, different if He wanted us to conform to one way, one idea of how to do things?   Do not conform to this world can mean more than just the Godless worldling society.....it can also mean conforming to man's boxed idea of how a Christ Follower should function.   It feels like something is missing....some genuine connection to the reality of relationship.  

I love my husband more than air.  It is a love that burns deeply even when we don't speak for hours, I know he is there, I know he loves me and I do not doubt it.  Because I deeply respect him, I do not speak badly of him when he isn't around....I do not curse his name, or behave differently simply because he isn't in the room.  I remain myself - striving to be consistently me (for good or bad) no matter who is around.  Perhaps its the brain injury that makes me this way but I often wonder why others are not the same.  They behave differently depending on who they are with.....they put down their husbands, children or whomever, simply because the other isn't physically present.   I see people make statements on facebook about their children, about wanting to get away from them, how annoying they are or just insulting them.....and I get sick to my stomach because these statements are actually visible to those children.   Why?  How are people so unaware of their words?  

As Christ Followers, it's similar....but worse.   If you actually believe, would you drop the F-bomb right in the face of Jesus?  Cuz...ya just did.   He doesn't just appear like a genie at your beck and call, only to hear what you say at those times.  He is ALWAYS present.  Always hears.  Every curse and every prayer.  He hears every condemning thought you utter in the silence of your mind, every negative word you utter about your spouse, friend or child.....or the stranger in the checkout lane.  EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM MATTER.  They are not dismissed, they are heard and echo in heaven. 

No wonder we can't find common ground.  No wonder we can't find unity in the body of Christ.  The 10 commandments were helps, guides, bumpers on the path to the heavenly pins.  But.....gee those are old....that old testament stuff well, Jesus came so we really don't need that stuff anymore right?  No.  He adhered to them.  He followed them.  We are supposed to follow Him.  When did rules become evil infringements on our rights?  When did we stop realizing that rules are to protect, not to hurt?  

When will we get it together and realize that your walk and my walk are on the same path but our stride is different?  We wear different shoes.  Some walk fast and others slow.  Some have a limp and some run wild.  Some fall.  We are supposed to pick each other up and smile, hug and love and point in the right direction....and then let them go back on their way....not tether them to our side trying to teach them to walk the way we do.   

Jesus, what is my walk supposed to look like?  What is the measure of my stride supposed to be?  Fix my pace and my gate to fit Your plan for my walk.  I don't want to tether anyone to me Lord.  Help me to walk with others when You want me to and to walk alone when You've set that time to be just for You and I.  Help me to know one from the other Lord.  Keep the stones from my hands, I have no right to cast even one.  As others pass me, help me to cheer them on.  When others fall in my path, help me to take their hand and pull them up with love and compassion, urge them to move forward and leave the past behind.  Remind me to constantly drop seeds of joy on my way and to always, always pull weeds by the root.  Don't ever let me believe the lie that you are not walking with me just as intimately as every other person on this path.  I am never higher or lower than anyone else.  May I never be too proud to let someone else help me up when I fall.  

Blessings on your walk with Him, may He set your pace and show you that it is yours alone.
the Mrs.

Friday, September 21, 2012

life is crazy. God is good.

What a week!

The Dude came home last Thursday hit by a truck of a bug and quickly hit a 103 fever.  He has been sick ever since and until today, just kept getting worse instead of better.  Urgent care on Saturday and a doctors appointment yesterday....all tests ran were negative - which is a positive.  

Instead of getting better, last night he got worse.  Labored breathing and a sore chest.....a trip to the ER was recommended by the on-call doc.

His O2 levels were up and down; 94 up to 96 and down to 92.

I now have a pharmacy on my kitchen table.  Antibiotics, inhaler, steroid, codeine cough syrup, motrin....today the exhaustion is bringing out the drug jokes.  He thinks they are funny so that's a good sign.

It was scary watching him struggle.  Closing his eyes to focus on breathing in and out as tears slowly rolled from the corners of his eyes.  So proud of how calm he was, how intelligent he responded in the car when I asked him how he was doing "If I focus on something it helps" so I watched him in the dark, mouth the words to the country song on the radio with his eyes closed and seat reclined.  He stayed calm.  It was a clear mark of growth in him.....gone was the boy who would panic at the thought of the unexpected.  Blood draws, finger pricks, urine samples, chest x-ray, EKG......all clear and he was calm.  The longer we were there, the better he seemed to get.  After 5 hours of tests and waiting (2am) we were exhausted.  Mr and I started to feel silly and wonder if we'd over reacted and ran through random what ifs.  As our Dude tried to sleep, I put my head down on my Mr's knee for a moment and lifted a few more please and thank yous to the Lord.  The stress, fog and exhaustion cleared for a moment and I looked up at Mr...."People are praying.  People are praying that this illness will have no effect, that tests will be clear, that there will be nothing found and that he will get better and that it will be nothing.  People are praying and He answered.  That's why he's gotten better, that's why we are sitting here feeling like we shouldn't have come.  Prayers were answered."  And just as suddenly, the waves of nausea I'd been fighting since we walked in - were gone, the faint feeling I'd been begging Him to take away, was gone.  I knew that once again my amazing God came through for us.

God always answers prayers.  Not always the way we want Him to or think He will, but always there is an answer.  Sometimes we just have to look at things a little differently.....from a more heavenly angle.

This momma is exhausted.  Someone has left some pretty decent sized matching luggage under my eyes and my inner crazy lady appears to be making her way outward.  Humor is good people.  On the upside I did keep my "freak out on the inside" as per our family rule.  Its the best line from a bad movie..."Keep your freak out on the inside.  When you freak out on the outside that's when people die."  You know, in movies theres always the calm collected person who survives and the people who freeze and freak out get killed by the weird aliens or whatever.  Yes, we apply movies to real life a lot.  Humor helps reality.

Blessings to you for minimal freak outs, a smooth and gloriously uneventful weekend.
the Mrs.


Friday, September 14, 2012

confession

I'm a fairly black and white person.  Something is either right or wrong, true or false, good or bad.  Though, there are also things that I am unqualified to know.  Things I won't weigh in on which frustrates my husband to no end.  My standard answer to those topics "That's for God to decide when it's time, not me."  I'm not trying to get out of a tight spot or avoid giving a controversial opinion....it is genuinely how I feel.  God is the ultimate judge and there are some things that simply are to big for my small human mind to wrap itself around.  And who am I know think I know the mind of my God with certainty?

I hate the conversation of being judgmental.  I honestly do.  It is filled with snares and stumbling blocks and faintly defined borderlines between judgment and conviction, condemnation and accountability, superiority and humility.  I fall into each and every trap with the best of intentions.  I hold myself to a high standard and quite honestly find myself too often in a place of wonder.  I wonder if my standards are higher than others.  If I've somehow misunderstood what the conduct of a Christ follower should be.  Why I am so often surprised by people who call themselves Christians but behave like they've never met Christ.....and in some cases like they've never heard of Him.   I wonder what it is about me that my mind is so easily blown by the Choose Your Own Adventure Christians, you know the ones that know what the bible says but only live by and believe in the principals they choose to be worthy....or maybe easy is more accurate.

Is it good or bad that it doesn't occur to me that a Christ follower would not control their language?  It really never ceases to shock me that people who in every aspect of their visible walk to the world seem to be so close in relationship to Christ and then they take the Lord's name in vain in open conversation.   Curses just fall out of their mouths without shame, hesitation or apology.  

Language.  Why the Lord has it so pressed into my feeble mind and heart to pay attention to it, I don't know.  Yet there it is.   The structure of a sentence - is it focused on the positive or the negative?  A comment - does it cut down or build up?  A conversation or story - where is the focus, on the circumstance or the person?  Helpless or helpful?   End of the world or joyful in all circumstances?   Are 4 letter words being spoken out of heightened emotion or is it just part of their vocabulary?

It makes me sad, confused and at the same time totally convicted because I don't want to stand in judgment of someone else's walk.  We are all in different places and we are all in various seasons in life and learning.  It nags me though, honestly.   My heart is stabbed when another throws God's name around in vain but when another Christ follower does it....I don't know that I have the right words to even describe what that feels like.  Not just that my heart is offended, my spirit sickened but that in the biggest more important context - it has not even occurred to them how they hurt Him!  Has it?   If it had wouldn't they stop?  I am brought to silence each and every time, my mind screeches to a halt and my tongue goes dead.  Then my mind explodes in different directions my mouth cannot even articulate.  Do they know what they just said?  Why did they say it?  Have they considered how the use of His name in that way negates anything they say to His glory?  How can you boast about God's goodness while using His name to curse?   What does it say to the world if His representatives are spewing curse words?  What if the only thing they do is whine and complain in negative language the way the Worldlings do?  What distinguishes them, sets them apart?  

The Lord gives hope to the hopeless.  So why do so many seem unable to apply this to their lives??

It plagues me.  I have yet to learn how to calm my mind quickly enough to free up my mouth to say anything. To gain control of my shock so that whatever words I might deliver would be delivered in a loving way and not in a condemning tone.  I hate that in those weak moments where I'm knocked off balance my pride can get elevated and my attitude can get judgy.  It is in these moments where sadness hits me and I think.....its no wonder we all get such a bad rap.  We just don't represent Him well.

The silver lining in it all.....He is perfect where we are not.  His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness.  He is good.  He is the source for any goodness we embody.  He is the resource for our change.  He created us in His image, so there is not one of us that is unable to change and grow.  Not one of us is beyond help, it's never too late to change an attitude or a life.  Free will.  We all have a choice....we just have to make one.

Blessings of strength to chose Him in everything, embrace His grace and remain weak enough that you are required to cling to Him for strength beyond yourself.
the Mrs.





Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mark me tardy...

...or maybe absent is more like it.  My mind has been focused on all the stations of transition in our lives right now.  Lots of changes, some big and some small but all are important.

The biggest transition....the biggest change....is that my husband is changing careers.  Not just his job.  This has been a dream of his for nearly a decade.  The Lord orchestrated this timing perfectly and all the doors were flung open for him and the support that rallied around him was so encouraging.  This will be a very felt transition for the whole family.  He won't be just changing buildings or offices.  He will have 4 months of intense study and training - right here in our basement, taking all the classes and tests on-line through the company.  It means creating a working, functioning office space for him.  It means a diminished income (but we've been planning and saving for this possible opportunity for many years and have a plan), tightening the belts and making choices more thoughtfully.  It means he will be home, the commute from home to work will be mere seconds.  It means lunches and hugs and learning to respect each others work and work space while sharing it.  It means new schedules and volume levels.   It means a lot of unknowns and that our attitudes will need to be chosen wisely.  It means a big huge transition for him physically and mentally.

The school year means transitioning from seeing our daughter frequently, to very little.  Its hard.  Hard to have to miss out on the little things we will never get to be part of.  Morning routines and kitchen door send offs.  It means more phone calls and facebooking.  Catching up on the details of her life after the fact.

The school year also means our Dude is in the middle of his own big transition.  It's waking up earlier, riding a bus, learning to navigate the hallways and get to classes on time.  Dealing with stubborn lockers and learning to play an instrument.  Making friends and finding his place.  Starting a new youth program and meeting new leaders and students.

For me it means supporting all these people I love so much.   It means being aware of where we all are, what the needs are of our family and making sure that the tone set in our home is one that gives them comfort.  Making sure that home is a place where they can decompress, relax, refresh and restore from all that stuff that goes on in their day.  A place where they can feel free to talk it all through and know that there is someone who is going to listen, help them find a solution or just simply understand the frustration.   A place full of hugs and sometimes cookies but always a place where they feel safe to be who they are and have a voice to say what it is they are feeling.

Gosh, even the house itself has gone through some big changes.  Dude's room was redecorated.  Living room got new furniture and everything was moved around.  All the furniture moving changed out a couple of pieces in the dining area.  The basement has had a huge face lift just from trading the furniture out and moving everything around.  There was another great purge and a trailer load of stuff was brought to the dump.  The garage got cleaned out and totally reorganized.

The Great Purge of 2012 seems to go so far beyond just the stuff we are getting rid of.  Old selves are being cast off.  Weight is being lost both physically and mentally.  Attitudes are shifting and there is great growth happening.  Its an interesting place in life.  Only the Lord knows what else this season will bring.

Blessings of flexibility and patience to endure the shifting seasons with grace and wisdom,
the Mrs.