Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Twelve years ago today, Caleb Wilson Boles, entered into our lives.  His birth was somewhat challenging, and I have come to realize that reflects some of his character.  He questions because he wants understanding.  He challenges because he is passionate.  He fights because he is a survivor.  He has survived severe acid reflux which threatened his growth, and he has battled epilepsy for 8 years now and has done it with fierce courage.  Life for Caleb hasn't always been easy, but it has been full- full of love, full of adventure, and full of laughter.

I always wanted to be a mother, and Caleb's birth was the realization of that dream.  On the night of his birth, I held him close and whispered in his ear, " I love you.  We will figure this out together."   We have learned quite a lot together and God has taught me so much about His character through the eyes of parenthood.  My mother's heart has learned about genuine sacrifice and selfless love.  I have learned about limitations on what I can honestly do in a day and realizing what really matters at the end of the day.  My heart has grown in size to accommodate each and every triumph and trial. 

I love Caleb for his humor and love of all things science.  I love they way he always wants to figure things out and how he is developing his own style- including the sweat -stained Texas Tech cap that drives his dad nuts!  I love how creative he is in building legos and making up games using sticks and rocks.  He amazes me, at times, with his spiritual insights and questions.  I know God has an incredible plan for his life and I look forward to all that will entail.

Thank you, Caleb, for the joy you bring in our lives- I love you!  Happy 12th Birthday Son!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is your learning style?

About this time of year as the summer heats up and school lessons are finished; we begin the process of researching homeschool curriculum for the following year.  There are always many considerations for us- expense, academic level, preparation, and learning styles are but a few of the things that factor our decision.  Only in the past few years have the different learning styles of our boys become a more influential pull as we weigh different curriculum options.  This is due, in part, to having to figure out the best way each of them learns the various subjects best.   Caleb and Carson each have their areas in which they are "bent" and more passionate about studying as well as areas that just come easier to them.  Some children need to see a visual picture for a lesson while others need an auditory connection to a lesson in order to fully comprehend it, but most of us learn best through experiencing lesson for ourselves.  As a homeschool family, we do our best to create learning experiences for our kids as often as possible.

Today, as I thought about this, I realized that the same is true for my relationship with the Father.  We all have certain areas that come easier for us and, sadly, areas that often we keep having to learn by experience.  Sometimes we can hear about the experience of another believer and it is enough to help us grow and mature in our faith.  At other times, we may personally witness or see someone walking a spiritual journey that challenges us in our own personal walk with God.  There are also times, however, that we learn through our own experiences-whether good or bad- trials and triumphs that forever become spiritual markers in our lives. 

The wonderful part of all this is that we have a perfect teacher who knows everything about us and designs those experiences to match our most intricate and intimate needs.  His lessons are always meant for our benefit and are never for our harm.  His desire is to see us mature in our faith in order to prepare us for the plans He has for us.  No lesson is ever wasted, unnecessary or unneeded.  He is reminding me that I need to be a compliant student who seeks after Him and looks for the lessons in the circumstances.

"Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."  Colossians 2:7 NLT

I want to be an outstanding student because these are the "tests" that matter.  I long for the approval of my teacher and Father.  Teach me, Father, and help my blind eyes see the lessons in the circumstances.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spiritual Time Out

In the past few weeks, Kendall has turned into a full two year old!  Now, he is very loving and funny, but he has defiantly taken up his role of "2" with a vengeance lately.  You can just hear the fits and temper tantrums, right?  Well, as with each of my kids, both Reagan and I try to work with each of our kids to see what forms and types of discipline work best with our boys as well as keeping in mind that this can change from day to day.  Ahh, parenting, it is not for the weak!

Well, Kendall seems (at this point) to respond better when given a "time-out" when in the midst of a fit or issue that he will not follow my lead or wishes.  I have tried "other disciplines" with him, but that seems to escalate the situation more for him.  So, in the crib he goes for a couple of minutes.... or five if mom forgets. (I know, Bad Momma!)  Often, it seems, he just needs the quiet solitude to come to the point of yielding to my wishes- to my will- in the situation.  After that time, he will easily respond to me in an appropriate manner and life continues until the next round for the day.  He is always much happier and at peace after his time alone in the crib- away from the distractions and audience of the house.  He just needed the quiet solitude to resolve himself to obedience.  I have also noticed that these fits most often arise when he just doesn't understand a situation; for example, he has gotten angry many times because he is hungry.  Most of the time, I am already in the midst of preparing him something to eat, but he doesn't see or understand that I am working on it.

I am SO like that with God.  Sometimes, in my anger or frustration with Him over situations that I feel He should have handled differently, I just need a spiritual time-out.  A time of just being in silence and solitude with the Father to yield my heart and mind to His will for me.  Sometimes, it's not that I am upset with Him, but simply needing to yield my day or plans to Him.  The more days that I start by secluding myself with Him, the more days I need that time with Him- I miss it- and I feel "off" all day when I have caved to the pressures on my day.   Sometimes, I just don't understand a situation and can't see that God has already heard my cries and is resolving the issue in His perfect way.  On Tuesday, I had a quick time of study in order to go to an appointment I had that day.  Throughout the day, I felt a longing to just slip away and be with HIM- to praise, to pray, to ponder and to just be silent before the God I love. 

Honestly, our world hates silence.... we always need some noise happening- radio, television, phone.....  The evil one knows that if he can keep us busy and surrounded by noise, then we will struggle to hear the call of the Father.  So, we surround ourselves in busy noise and grow more spiritually anemic.  Silence and beautiful praise before the Father with no agenda, but to just 'be' with Him is what all believers need to yield our minds to His plans and will.  It gives us peace, balance, joy, and preparation for all that we will face that day.  It helps us to see His plans for us through faith and calms our fearful cries.

"In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.  The fear of the LORD will be your treasure."  Isaiah 33:6 NLT

" Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world."  Psalm 46:10  NLT

I want a firm foundation with God and I need his rich treasure!  I need to be still before Him so that I can recognize Him as the the God of my life, my house and my day.  I need the silence and solitude that can point my spiritual compass in the right direction for the day- today and every day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Worship Wednesday

I love praising and worshipping our God and King through songs. Times of beautiful worship just draw me nearer to the Father and all of my hectic, crazy world comes into clearer focus in the light of Him. Lately, I have really enjoyed the music of a group named Fee. Today, I thought I would just share a couple of their songs for you to enjoy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Birth Moms

Last night I watched a show called "Birth Moms" on the TLC channel.  Now, this show follows several women who have decided to place their baby up for adoption and follows them through that process.  I knew- because of my soft heart for adoption- that I would probably feel many emotions while watching the show, but watched it anyway.  (Did I mention that I tend to have a little strong willed tendancies? LOL)
These young ladies were hardened by life and often didn't paint a pretty picture of our world.  To be honest, it was so real and gritty that I almost quit watching the show.  Often the women are shown drinking and smoking while pregnant and as they describe what has happened to them leading up to this decision; my heart just broke.  Too graphic to be shared in this arena, but the worst of our world happening in the lives of these truly young ladies.  They were all young, but far from naive and were very cynical about their lives, futures and chances to improve their situations.

I think I expected a sugary, sweet portrayal of ladies sacrifically giving of their children to loving homes, but instead watched the sharp agonizing emotions of  grieving loss wrapped in complete realness.   No matter the reasons for making the decision to give your child to another family, there is an almost unbearable loss.   It was so overwhelmingly hard to watch as my heart broke for them and yet rejoiced for the waiting families who were experiencing one of the greatest joys life has for us.  Many of the waiting families had been through such heartache and loss as they longed for a child and to see these hardened-yet vulnerable- ladies give them that treasured gift was humbling and beautiful.

I have always related my relationship with God as being adopted through Christ, but to see a worldly reflection of that in life was so humbling and beautiful to my soul.  I, too, came from a worldly hard background- as all of us do- we are sinful creatures.  To see God waiting so lovingly patient with us to decide if this is the life we long for- one of lifelong worship and service of our Lord.  In the show, the birth moms were often grudgingly giving life to these families, but in our spiritual adoption, Christ willingly made the sacrifice to give us life. Do not think that it was easy- however- He gave his life willingly, but it was the most difficult challenge for Christ to separate Himself from the Father. He did it for us just as those birth moms sacrificed their personal desires and wishes for their children to ensure they had a better life.

I cried for their sacrifice.  I cried for the awaiting parents- rejoicing in tears.  I cried that life had made them so hardened and for all they had experienced.  I also cried because of the sacrifice God made for me. 

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."  Ephesians 1:5

"So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.  Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, 'Abba, Father'."  Romans 8:15

Father, thank you for this beautiful reflective picture of your sacrifice for me... for me, Father.  I am your child- through great sacrifice- I am your child.  How can I not praise you?  How can I not worship you?  Let me not forget to treasure my life each day as it is a gift wrapped in selfless love.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When We Have a God-Sized Need

Have you ever had a need so great,... but.... you couldn't meet it?  How did you feel?.... Angry?... Frustrated?.... Heartbroken?....

What did you find solace in- your ability?  your confidence?  your family?  your money?  your food?  your children?  your degree?  your next drink?   some pills?

This morning each of my boys had a need that he could not meet.  Kendall needed a diaper change (Bad Momma, I know) and he laid on the floor with a diaper next to him, but couldn't change himself.  Carson wanted to watch a movie after completing his morning responsibilities and couldn't get the DVD player to work.  Caleb needed some of his medication, but we had run out and are preparing to go get it.  These needs are an inconvenience, but what about more devastating needs.....job loss, life threatening disease, loss of a spouse, loss of a child, or a divorce...

What do you do in the midst of those needs- where do you turn?  On January 5, 2009, Reagan called me to let me know that he had been laid off and I slowly felt all security fall out from under me.  How would we pay the bills?  How would we get Caleb's much needed (and very expensive) medication?  How will we survive?  That night, in the midst of deep, desperate tears I sang praise songs.  I didn't know what would happen the next day, week, month, but I did know my Lord would be there through it all.  I don't want you to think the journey was pretty- I cried countless desperate tears.  I got angry at God (whoa- what?), and I was crushed when doors closed.... and then, quietly, I would get up... and in a broken whisper, I would start to praise Him in songs, prayers, and testimony.  Each day, God made me stronger.

Reagan didn't get a job the next day, week, month.... it took four months- FOUR months.  At the end of that journey, we had not touched our savings account and God had provided for all our needs (needs- not necessarily wants).  We always had food to eat, and our bills were always met- God used other believers, odd jobs, and the like to do it, but we walked through the fire of that trial and came out changed-better-stronger.

Maybe you have a huge need right now and you are desperate for resolution.  Remember no matter how great the need, we have a greater God.  He will answer you and bring resolution, but it will be in His timing.  Reagan didn't get the first job he interviewed for, or the second, or the third... but, God taught us and grew us in ways that we couldn't have appreciated had the end come sooner.  I know the deep pain of longing and clinging to the hope within us with all your remaining strength.  Take heart- God will not fail you.  He will not make you wait one second longer than necessary.  The joy you will find when at the concluding moments of this trial will be indescribable!

" You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus."  Phillipians 4:19 MSG

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  He who goes out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."  Psalms 126:5,6  NIV

"My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever."   Psalm 73:26 NLT

My friend, cry if you need to cry...release the anger, hurt and disappointment and then rise and praise Him- if only a whisper- praise Him.  Victory is coming and He has great plans for you, lean on the only strength that can save you! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Lost Tooth!

Today is an exciting day in the Boles house... Carson lost his first tooth!

For several months, Carson had witnessed several of his friends losing teeth and had become concerned as to why he hadn't lost a tooth.  About 3 to 4 weeks ago, we realized that one of his front bottom teeth was finally becoming loose.  Since that time, he has wiggled that tooth trying to prompt it to evacuate it's current home.  Each week, I would say, "I think it will be out by next week."  However, it was one stubborn tooth!

Yesterday, Carson decided to have an apple with part of his lunch and when he took a bite, something "popped" and the tooth was suddenly very close coming out.  While initially Carson was extremely excited, the discomfort of that moment made him well aware that this could be a painful proposition and fear began to overtake him.  All afternoon yesterday, my precious boy was caught in turmoil, anxiety, and fear to the point of tears over how much it was going to hurt for this tooth to come out.  It broke my heart!  I could tell that the tooth was so ready to come out, and I felt like it wouldn't take much for it to come out.  Sadly, though, I couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't be painful.  The one thing I did know was that it wasn't as bad as Carson was visualizing it in his head.  I kept reassuring  him, cuddling him and comforting him as best as I could- it wasn't until we prayed about it (upon his request) that he calmed.  I kind of held a collective breath all evening waiting to see if the tooth fairy would make her first arrival at Carson's pillow, but alas.... no tooth.

This morning, Carson had been up a few minutes and was eating a muffin.  He was walking into my room and I asked him to come give me a quick hug when he reached into his mouth and pulled out the tooth.... He was so shocked.... He was so excited.   It came out totally on it's own with little to no discomfort!  We took a picture and celebrated this victory for Carson.  More than anything, I think he was just so relieved from all the worry and fear that had plagued him for the previous day.

Our human nature is like that- Satan attacks us with fears and we take it to the extreme, huh?  Fears like losing a spouse or a child, losing a job, being diagnosed with a terrible illness, and such can make sleepless nights and drive us to extreme behaviors.  The crazy part is that very few of us will ever face those situations, but Satan knows how to frighten us and get us distracted from the Father.  Truth is, if we are anxious, then we are not trusting and yielding to God- we are trying to be self sufficient and when we realize just how unprepared we are, we panic and give into the schemes of the evil one.  God knows we aren't prepared, capable, or equipped.... but HE is fully capable to meet all needs.  If our worst fear was realized, God would still be there.  He would still meet all needs whether emotional, physical, mental, financial, or spiritual.  At the end of that journey, we would fall at His feet and allow Him to heal us, restore us, and make us whole.  We will have troubles, but God will always be faithful to us when we seek after Him in the midst of the storm.  Just as I did my best to comfort Carson yesterday- God can bring comfort to any situation through the Holy Spirit if we will give Him our pain and hurt and lay our brokenness at His feet.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."      Romans 8:37-39

What are some of your fears?  What are you anxious about today?  Our God is our refuge and strength while in trouble and He never leaves your side. (Psalms 46:1) Don't listen to the cries of the evil one, but turn to the solid promises and truths of the Father!   Rejoice and live in the relief and peace of knowing that God is fully capable of meeting every need!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day: A Lesson in Contentment

Okay, I have to admit that I have often had mixed emotions regarding Mother's Day.  Don't get me wrong- I have been blessed with a wonderful mother!  I could spend an entire blog just on how much she sacrificed and did for us as children.  She has always been a godly example for me and I couldn't be more blessed by the Lord to have been raised under her teaching.  I have also been blessed with an incredible mother in law- so much so that I truly see her as my second mother.  Over the years, she has been such an incredible blessing in my life.  It is for these reasons that I love honoring and blessing my mothers. 

However, in the past Mother's Day was hard for me.  As a single woman, it was just another reminder that I was still not married.  As a young wife, it was a reminder that I was still not a mother- which I wanted so very much.  As a young mother, I often struggled if the day didn't live up to the Hallmark commercial standards.  I think some of you can relate..... Perhaps your dreams of being married, having children or having a picture perfect celebration have just fallen short.  The deep hurt and longing to hold a child of your own- for many women- is a pain that tears at our very fiber and being.  As women, God so designed us to carry and nurture children and to not be able to fulfill that design makes us question our value and validity. 

After having Caleb, we felt God's leading to adopt, and so began the process.  Several months, sleepless nights and tears in, we still did not have all the needed finances.  I SO desperately wanted to be a mother again, but I also wanted to be obedient to God's calling.  Finally, God brought me to a point of helplessness when I realized I couldn't make an adoption happen anymore than I could make a pregnancy happen.  I knew if God really meant for us to adopt, then He would prevent any pregnancies in order for us to fulfill what He had for us- yet, the adoption had reached a dead in as well.... so, I reached a point of letting go.  Letting go of my plans, dreams, and expectations- we just trusted God to create our family however He chose.  Three months later, Carson was on his way and I have to trust that God still had a plan for that part of our journey with Him.

I share this because I know the deep longing for child and how painful Mother's Day can be for those in a similar situation.  I have also been so looking forward to Mother's Day and so disappointed when things just didn't turn out like I had expected.  I teasingly said yesterday, "Mother's Day just isn't complete without someone getting a spanking."  Let's be honest, Hallmark type commercials are not real life! Sometimes, your loved ones forget, your kids are fussy and disappointments prevail.  

This weekend could have been one of those weekends for me.  Reagan and I had plans to go to a homeschool bookfair this weekend- which I always enjoy- and my parents had agreed to keep the boys.  It looked like we were going to go on a couple of date nights while they were visiting in Dublin.  I was very excited!  We had a great evening Friday shopping for my mother's day gift and I awoke with great excitement and anticipation on Saturday.  Alas, things didn't go as planned, Reagan became so very sick around noon while at the homeschool bookfair and we had to leave shortly afterward.  My evening consisted of tending to my sick husband, take-out, and a chick flick on television.  On Sunday, I went to church alone, got my free carnation from church and met my parents for a wonderful meal in Granbury.

The crazy part in all this is that one prevailing emotion filled me...... contentment.  It honestly shocked me how peaceful and happy I felt all weekend.   Reagan kept apologizing for disappointing me after our weekend turned out so differently and I kept reassuring him that I was fine.  Honestly, I have so much to be thankful for: a husband who dearly loves me, boys that still want to spend time with me, all our needs are met, and I have an incredible family that supports me.  Sure, I wish things would have turned out a little differently, but I felt such peace and contentment that only comes from the Father.  Through the Holy Spirit, we can have contentment in ALL circumstances, but we will never have enough will power or strength to make it happen on our own.  We must reach the end of our self in order for Him to fill us with His peace, joy, and contentment.... so, when our world disappoints, fails us, or leaves us crushed that we lean on His unending supply.  We just have to get to the point where we trust God so much that we are willing to let go of our dreams and let Him full our hands with Him- His will, His plans, His dreams for us and suddenly we can understand that contentment isn't having it all but being thankful for all.

I read this scripture today, "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are- no more, no less.  That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." Matthew 5:5 MSG

Nothing on earth will last and we can't take it with us, and I would rather find peace in each day rather than grappling over what I think I need to fulfill me.  Only God truly knows what I need  and I have to choose, daily, His will and plans over mine.  Let go of that heartache, my friend, and let God show you His plan for your life- there is never so much joy than when you release your self and immerse yourself in the Father.  Let go and let God.....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Right Place, Right Time

As some of you may have read on Facebook yesterday, I felt like yesterday afternoon God had placed me at the right time and place.  So, I guess this blog is the story behind the story!

For several days, I have wanted to get a haircut, but as we homeschool and I have my boys with me most of the time, I often have a hard time running errands like that.  On Thursday evening, it hit me that my parents were taking the boys this weekend and that I would have 2-3 hours of uncommitted time before Reagan was off work.....Perfect!  So, I started a mental debate about where to go.  I prefer to go to one person and build a relationship with them - yes, I know it is only hair, but I just haven't found someone that I really liked and seemed a good fit for me, my time, my style and budget.

As I drove to Granbury, where I was meeting my mother, I saw a hairstyle place on the way which I recognized as one I could "walk in" without an appointment.  I also thought it was one that could do more challenging cuts.  The big plus, was that it was right on my drive!

So after the "drop-off" of the kids I headed to the salon.  When I walked in there was no line and a friendly face greeted me.  Within minutes I was in her salon chair and as we began small talk, we immediately connected. As the conversation continued, I began to feel that "prick" in the Holy Spirit that God was doing something in this short time.  I don't feel comfortable sharing details, but before I knew it, I found myself saying, "I believe that God is so sovereign that He can use even our mistakes as part of His purpose and sovereign plan."  Even the hairstylist next to us began sharing about her spiritual journey.

When I walked out, I felt so encouraged and I believe they did as well- and I do NOT believe it was an accident!  Sometimes, I feel that my life is so simple that my spiritual reach is so short, but God has been helping me see that my ministry is where-ever I go.  If I am open to His plans for the day, He can and will use me.  I walked out feeling valued because I valued someone else enough to share my passion for the Father with her.

I had intended to "blog" about this last night, but I was so tired that I went to bed.  At 7:00 am, God woke me and pulled me to get up and have my quiet time and write.  Now, my kids and not here and Reagan and I have plans for the whole day; so, I really wanted to sleep!  However, when I read from one of my favorite devotion books (Jesus Calling) the first paragraph from today's reading said, "Learn to relate to others through My Love rather than yours.  Your human love is ever so limited, full of flaws and manipulation.  My loving Presence, which always enfolds you, is available to bless others as well as you."

I tell you I can't even make this stuff up!  God is so good and He loves us so much- never think that your life doesn't have value or purpose.  The evil one wants us to believe that so that we are limited and bound up in ourselves.  God wants to use us- to bring encouragement, salvation and change to this world.  He is with us and will always be with us on this journey of our lives.

"God said, 'My presence will go with you.  I'll see the journey to the end.'"  Exodus 33:14 MSG

Today, seek after Him.  Let Him guide you and you might find yourself at just the right place and the right time.... and it won't be an accident! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

For My Boys....

From the moment I took the test and saw two distinct lines...

I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment the first waves of nausea hit and I was so sick for hours on end....

I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment we first saw your little heart beating on the computer screen at our first sonogram..... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment we heard the technician say, "It's a boy!".....  I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment the heartburn was so bad and I was eating mints constantly.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment I was not sleeping each night due to be so uncomfortable with the end of the pregnancy.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment the labor started and the pain was so intense.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment we first saw you and our eyes cried happy tears.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment your cries for food, sleep, pain and discomfort kept me from a decent night's slumber.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment you first smiled at us.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment my ears first heard you babble random sounds.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment you first reached out for me to hold you... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment you first wrapped your arms around my neck and squeezed me tight.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment you took your first steps and we were waiting to catch you.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment you first ran from me and I had to catch you...
I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment you first got angry at me and said words that broke my heart... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment you first apologized and ran to me in guilt... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment when I first had to let you fail and it about killed me.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment when I first had to let you fly solo on an adventure without me... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment I was afraid I had lost you and I was scared out of my mind... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment I witnessed you become a child of God and there was so much joy that I thought my heart would burst.... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

From the moment when I first caught a glimpse of the man you will be... I knew I loved you and I was your mother.

I know we all have many more moments ahead of us, but God has brought us so far already and I just wanted you to know....

I love you and I am so thankful to be your mother!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What are You Waiting For?

Remember as a child waiting on Christmas Eve for the first morning glimmer in order to wake your parents to see what Santa had nestled under the tree for  you?  I still feel a spark of excitement as I recall the anticipation, excitement, and sheer joy!  Even in the midst of such wonderful emotions, waiting is still hard- one Christmas my brother and I decided to stay in the same room on Christmas Eve and we dared each other to go and see what was under the tree- we just couldn't wait!

Waiting is harder still when in the midst of trial though.  As a single young woman, I hated waiting for God to bring the right person He had for me.  I saw other couples and wondered why I hadn't met my "match" and I sometimes bought into the lie of loneliness.  As a young married couple, Reagan and I often waited to see how God would provide for bills, expenses or for a job that would provide more income than what we were surviving on.  Later in our marriage, we believed that God had put on our heart to adopt a child and we began the "waiting game" as my heart was so desperate to hold another child.  I also flash back to a stark room waiting to see the doctor walk in and let us know if our son- who was not breathing when we last saw him- was still with us.  I have also waited on God for explanation as to why bad things have happened in my world and why I had to hurt so much.  A few years ago we waited on a job to replace the one my husband lost when his company had several lay offs. Waiting....       waiting...           waiting...

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
                                                                                                                    Micah 7:7 NIV

When I reflect back, however, all I can recall is God's faithfulness.  In each and every situation, God was faithful- even when it seemed doubtful in the midst of the abyss.  In all those times, I saw God's mighty hand at work most clearly because all I could do was wait on Him.  I was at the end of "me" and all my efforts and run their course.  He just needed me to yield my heart, my plans, my will to Him.  God does really love us and He does work all things out for our good, and while we may doubt, question, and turn our back to Him- He never leaves us.  He never lets us go.  He never turns His back on us.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."                                                              Romans 8:28 NIV

I don't know what you are waiting on right now, but I know that God is still at work in the situation.  He can turn even our mistakes into purpose because He is capable of making beauty out of turmoil and ashes.  Don't give up- He is not finished with you!  Remember, too, this world is not our home and all hurts, disappointments and pain is temporary.  Praise Him while you wait on Him!  Praise HIM!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Run Cricket Run!

Caleb has always loved bugs and studying them.  He is the typical boy that you might find crickets, lizards, and yes- even snakes- in his possession.   One Sunday we were in the middle of church when Caleb needed to go to the restroom.  When he returned, he was a little wiggly, and when I investigated more, he admitted that he had some live crickets in his pocket! ugh!  I promise, I can't even make this stuff up!

So, one time on a trip to one of our local dollar stores, I found a bug collecting kit that came with a plastic bug holder with a built in magnifying glass.  It also came with tweezers and a cool strap so you could "wear" your bug kit.  Now, for a boy that loves bugs, that IS the coolest gift and it was only a $1!!! (Score me!)

He loved that kit and wore it out, but I began to notice a disturbing trend.  He would often collect several bugs and study them for a day or two (or four) and forget that they needed to be released in order to survive.  Now, I do NOT like bugs, but even I started feeling bad for them- so much so that I began releasing the creatures whenever Caleb would go to bed.  During one such time, Caleb had caught a cricket and I tried to get the cricket out of the bug kit, but it would not come out.  After several attempts, (and much squealing on my part) I finally opened the door to the bug kit and left it where the cricket could escape.  Sadly, the cricket was still backed into the corner of the clear container the next morning.  It died soon afterward.

I was stricken with the thought, "Why hadn't it escaped?  Freedom was just outside the open door?"  Isn't this like us, though?  We want the freedom to live how we want, to do whatever we want, to get whatever we want, and yet only in Christ is there true freedom.  So, we back ourselves into the corner of our comfortable lives and just wait for whatever comes next.

Before Christ, we are just living looking out for ourselves- we don't know to do anything different- but, living for ourselves just doesn't satisfy.  It may feel good for a time, but you come to a point when it becomes meaningless.... pointless.  This is because we were created to praise and glorify our Maker and our Savior and living a life without Christ is exactly that.... meaningless....pointless.  It may seem that living a life for Christ is about rules and restrictions, but that is just a lie from the evil one- it is freedom!  Freedom from sins, freedom from heartache, freedom from unforgiveness, freedom from loneliness,  and freedom from bondage because One loved you so much to give His all for you.  Only Christ did that for me- how can I not love Him?

Living in this world is hard and I couldn't make it if I didn't have Christ- He has saved me and He saves me daily from so much.  For those of us that are in Christ, we often choose to hang on to things from our "old self" days- guilt, addictions, unhealthy relationships.... We have freedom, but we cling on to the past due to fear--- fear of change, fear of the unknown, and even fear of God truly using us to change the world (remember Moses?).    Please know that you are not alone- remember in Christ you have all resources available to you by God through the Holy Spirit and He desires that you just trust and follow Him.  Isaiah 41:13 says, "For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (NIV)  In the Message version it says, "Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go.  I'm telling you, 'Don't panic.  I'm right here to help you.'"

God wants to offer you freedom from your sins, pasts, regrets and offer you a beautiful, rich life.  Don't hesitate, but run to the open door of freedom He offers and know that you will never be alone again.  He is right there making that first step with you- taste and breathe in your soul that sweet life-giving freedom!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Confessions of a List Maker

I love making lists..... are you like me?  Do you make "To Do" lists, grocery lists, packing lists and etc.....  I love the feeling of crossing an item off my list- something has been accomplished- finished-completed.  I have even been grocery shopping when I would see an item we needed, but didn't have on my list. I have actually written it on my list just so I could cross it off!  (Crazy, I know!) 

Now if you have read some of my recent posts, you may recognize that God is teaching me to focus on more of HIM in my life- especially in my day to day tasks.  This is not easy with all the distractions in my world- homeschool lessons to teach, house that needs to be cleaned, the laundry basket that never seems to empty, dishes that need to be cleaned, meals cooked, and the list continues..... I have a feeling you can relate!  Sometimes, having my "Quiet Time" with the Lord has just become another item on my list to check off and God has really convicted me in this area of my life.  I believe He wants me to long for Him just as the deer pants for water (Psalm 42:1-3).... to crave His refreshment in my soul for the day ahead... to literally long and need Him just as I need water or air.

Today, He reminded me that my need to complete my lists, tasks, and obligations for the day often derive from my need for security.  Security?  For me, there is security in being able to manage my day, to complete the needed tasks and to fulfill all my obligations.  There is nothing wrong with being productive, and God does not tolerate those that are lazy and unwilling to work- Proverbs is filled with such indications. (Proverbs 12:27, Proverbs 15:19, Proverbs 21:25)   I also recognize that making lists helps me to focus and have clarity when needing to complete several tasks.  However, if we find our security in that rather than in our relationship with God, we are worshipping a false god. 

To be honest, what is really secure in this world?  Marriages fail, job lay offs happen, loved ones die from illness, people hurt and betray us.......this list could go on and on.    God is our security if we are in ChristHe has never failed us, and yet, we search for security in this world.  The evil one lies to us- he convinces us that we can control our world if we only believe in ourselves.   It hit me that part of the reason I make so many lists is because I am trying to find order in my world, to control it.... but, I will NEVER be able to control this world... my world....   But, when I cry out to the Father- the Maker of Heaven and Earth- I am reaching out to the only resource able to control this world and my true security is in Him. 

This is what I am longing for today:
     "My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.  I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit-but a brute strength but a glorious inner strength- that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.  And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love.  Reach out and experience the breadth!  Test its length!  Plumb the depths!  Rise to the heights!  Live full lives, full in the fullness of God."
                                                                                                 Ephesians 3:14-19 MSG

I want to long for HIM.  I want a full life in Christ- I don't want my security- I want HIS.  This life is too short to focus on anything less.  How many opportunities have I missed because I was too focused on my list for the day?  I want the crazy, beautiful life God has for me even if it means letting go..... scary?  Yes, but never insecure!