Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The "P" Word

Okay, I'm probably going to step on some toes now, maybe even stomp on the feet of some....but it's worth the risk. Remember, I'm just one person on a journey with Jesus...

Perfectionism. As a recovering addict, I can speak with some measure of authority. Jesus kicked me in the butt some years ago when He told me that "perfectionism" is not a character quality given by Him. He did not "wire" me to be a "perfectionist." Rather, He created me to be one who appreciates excellence and gives attention to detail. However, anything that causes my source of peace and identity to be in something other than Jesus, CANNOT be given to me by my Father. My experience with perfectionism was one of unrest, striving, insecurity and self-condemnation. Sound familiar?

So why is it that we allow this gift of determination and thoroughness to be misdirected into something that steals so much of life, so many of the fruits of the spirit from us?! I really think it goes back to this identity thing and a lack of revelation of how much we are loved by our Daddy JUST BECAUSE of who we are! It's one thing to find pleasure and satisfaction in the things we were created to do. But I believe a line is crossed (into "perfectionism") when our ability to "successfully" execute those things defines our own measure of success and confidence. If I can't even approve of myself in those times, how can I receive approval and unconditional love from my Daddy!?

One practical way this plays out in my life is my attempt to be intentional about not apologizing to others for the state of my house. Why does it matter? Really, I'm concerned about what they will think of me since I have already judged myself harshly as a failure in keeping my house neat. Instead, I quietly remind myself of the things that matter eternally and then allow Jesus to tell me what HE thinks about me. I know in my head that He sees me as righteous, but sometimes it's nice to hear it again....and again...and again.....I'm a little thick sometimes :-) So if you come in my house and find me apologizing for it's state of being, hopefully it's only because I am truly concerned for your safety as you traverse over and around the toys, laundry, craft scraps and dust bunnies (they are pretty soft, though! :-)

Ahh, the journey continues. Help me Jesus!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Deep, Deep Well

I am so convinced that this revelation of the Father's love that is available goes far deeper than our minds can fathom. I have realized why I personally would much rather that Daddy just tell me what to do when I am at a crossroads. If He tells me which way to go and I do it, then I can be confident that I am approved by Him and that I am pleasing to Him. Another indication that my identity, in part, has been wrapped up in something other than Him AND that my revelation of HIS identity is not complete (right on, "Iam4 Jesus")! It's sooo not about making a right or wrong decision that determines His love or my identity. He created me for relationship, covenant relationship. He was not looking for puppets to prance around thoughtlessly on His stage of earth. True covenant relationship requires risk! Or should I say, "faith"!? The good news is the He remains the same as does His love. AND my identity does not have to shift with the changing of the seasons and directions of life.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This Identity Thing

So I have been stewing on this topic of identity lately. The Lord has been setting me free of an "identity crisis" that I didn't know I had! The following is a raw spewing of sorts, in my attempt to verbalize the start of a revelation I am coming on to. So tie a knot and hang on...as always, it will be a fun ride!

If I struggle with something the Lord asks me to do or a change He asks me to make, how many times is the struggle rooted in an identity crisis? I'm starting to think this wrestling happens many times because my identity and security is wrapped up, in part, in something other than Jesus. Let's say He tells me to do something that is other than what I had already deemed was THE BEST way or choice or method, etc. I could feel as though the "other than" that He is asking of me is actually "less than." Could this be because I placed some of my personal value in my definition of THE BEST?

Do I have a hard time accepting that God is "in" something because it is "less than" THE BEST and surely He wouldn't love me as much? Most of us would deny that His love is conditional as such, but do our choices for security and identity reflect a true heart revelation of His love? Hmm...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Flying like an eagle

I love that common passage in Isaiah "They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." What a powerful source of encouragement for all of us no matter where life finds us now. My husband and I were reflecting recently on all the waiting and persevering we've done over the past 8 years. We've chosen to take Him at His word and believe Him for the impossible in several specific areas of our lives. As a results, we've seen some serious breakthroughs and victories! But my, oh my, what battles we've had along the way....mostly with the enemy of our own minds and wills. And probably as a result of our lack of "waiting" on the Lord! I have had many seasons along the way of feeling anything but "eaglish", but not because He didn't keep His end of the bargain!

Over a year ago, a friend shared a simple statement with me. It was in response to my update on our house "hunt" (more on that later). She said, "How many times have we missed the Lord's best because we haven't been willing to wait." I knew she was speaking from a place of experience. That word hit me like an arrow into my spirit. And now, back to my conversation with Brian, I was once again reminded of this thought through this scripture. There is a prerequisite to running, walking, and flying with Jesus. We must first wait on Him - indefinitely.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Mission Trip

My husband and I went away two weekends ago for a much needed getaway together. We are coming up on our 8th year wedding anniversary. What a FABULOUS time we had together! One woman we met thought we were newlyweds. Another man, while over-hearing our side-splitting laughter in the shoe store, said "If shoe shopping had been this much fun with my ex-wife, I wouldn't have divorced her!" (what do you say to that?) Now granted, it was quite the ordeal trying to get out the house. Then it took us the first couple of hours to decompress, but the remainder of our time together was filled with laughter, satisfying silence, deep conversation and, well, other things. :-)

While we were away, I was thinking of all the other couples of young children who could benefit from time alone together for more than 20 minutes while falling asleep in bed. We all need time away with Jesus alone (check out this post) , but time away with your spouse and Jesus is also essential for a happy and healthy family! One of the best things we can give our children, in my opinion, is time alone together with our husband or wife. So much of our family "issues", struggles and triumphs are a direct result of this covenant relationship, whether we want to admit it or not.

So, for those of us who see the value of such an investment, but have a hard time coming up with the necessary funds, I "decided" we should start a missions fund of money and childcare! If we can all pitch in money here and there to send someone to Mexico, Brazil or Jerusalem to minister, then surely we can do the same for those needing a time of renewal and refreshing in the most impacting relationship in their lives after Jesus! Okay, so I am only joking, well, maybe. But regardless, isn't it time we start better prioritizing this covenant relationship that brought our little ones into the world to begin with? They deserve our investment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Rat Race

Recently I had an hour to myself while my daughter was at her ballet class. I was running, listening to Misty Edwards and talking to Jesus (thank the Lord for the ability to multi-task!). My thoughts wandered through many topics as I listened to Misty's songs to the Lord. Many of her lyrics bring me back to a place of humility before Him. In those times, I am reminded of what an honor it is to be chosen by Him to be His kid despite my sinful state. As I ran, I was thinking about how far I've come in my relationship with Jesus and how much crap there is left in me.. Augh! How can He find me lovely still? This road to holiness sure can seem long sometimes! I then had the thought "I wonder if we could overcome our issues, hurts and bondages more quickly and easily if we all weren't so tired, busy, hungry (does anyone else forget to feed themselves and then their family pays the price by your grumpiness?) and just down right stressed. The lack of the latter would promote, besides the obvious, more opportunity to actually hear Jesus whisper to me, to just sit with Him and say nothing or to simply laugh more often among other things. And history has proven to me that time with Jesus means a cleaner, more free me - not to mention more joyful and relaxed.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Before You Shop...

This post may seem a bit out of place on my blog, but thought it might be worth passing along anyway.

My husband and I are small business owners within a network marketing company. A dear friend of mine has a similar business, also in network marketing. She loves Jesus too, so discussing business and trading tips (well, actually, she passes more along to me than I can to her) always ends up being a spirit stirring event. Even though we represent competitive companies, our hearts are united as sisters in Christ. I know that her goal in business are to become independently wealthy so that her and her husband can fulfill a dream of owning and operating a rejuvenation center where weary members of the Body can come and be refreshed and healed in the presence of Jesus at this B&B of sorts. The business goals of my husband and I are similar in that the end result is to see the body of Christ built up and the kingdom of God advanced through financial freedom, among other things. As a result, I buy things from her that our company doesn't make and she reciprocates!

This friend and I had a conversation a couple of years ago that lit something in me. She was sharing with me how, when she is shopping for gifts or even just daily needs, she always tries first to invest her money in people or places where she knows her money is going towards things on the heart of the Father. Obviously this isn't always possible or even easy. I have yet to find a friend in the business of selling tampons! But there are many people and organizations out there, following the call of Jesus in the marketplace to take money from the world and put it back where it belongs, in the kingdom.

I like to call this "redirected spending". You're going to buy a wedding gift anyway. Why not buy it from your friend who is selling Pampered Chef to help support her calling as a foster parent? In all honesty, I have found that my money doesn't always get as much product as it would at Wal-Mart or Target, but it has potential to get a whole lot more fruit. And sometimes I do find a good deal. Even Ten Thousand Villages, whether they know Jesus or not, is doing something that is on the Father's heart - taking care of the poor!

It's all about sowing and reaping. No matter how hard you try, even if you don't know Jesus yet, you can't get away from this principal. It's like gravity - it's affecting your life whether you're aware of it or not. Oh, I better save that topic for another post...or series :-)

So this holiday season, give it a try! Don't stress over it. I'm sure Jesus likes L.L.Bean too - I know I do! But ask Him for creativity and God connections to businesses that are in the business of advancing the kingdom.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


To delve a little deeper into the topic of my last post, let me share a personal experience that has really taken my understanding of "relationship" with Jesus to a whole new level.

It was shortly after the birth of our 5th child, Timothy. My husband and I had been discussing whether or not we felt like our family was complete and how in the world we would ever come to such an impacting decision. I grew up in Jesus with the mindset that whatever He wanted, I wanted, no matter what. "What a great attitude!", you might think. I won't deny that this commitment has saved me from many dark roads. But what about when He turns the table and says, "no, whatever you want is what I want!" This is exactly what I was hearing while I was torturing myself (and my husband) with the pressure of making the "right" decision about children.

So what did I want exactly? I knew I was ready to give my body a break and stop subjecting my family to the "take a number!" syndrome of my limited energy, time and patience. There had certainly been a huge measure of grace and provision in every way during this season of birthing children; and I am continually amazed that I get to be the mom of such amazing children! But as many of you know who have watched me grow and shrink every year and asked me "isn't it about time for another?", it has been a looong season. I wanted to have strength and energy again to chase them around, carry them to bed, wrestle on the floor, etc. More importantly, I longed to have some measure of patience again, to easily take the time to pray with them and ask them what Jesus was showing them. I was ready to focus more on investing in my children, for eternity. So here I was, crying all these things out to my Daddy in a blubbering, hormonal, post-partium state, when I really sensed that His pleasure was in my pleasure! As He is often so gracious to do, He began to reveal a truth to me through the earthly relationship with which I am most familiar.

In my relationship with my husband, how pleasing would it be for him if I only ever did what he wanted me to do? So much of his delight is in seeing me laugh, rest, rejoice and enjoy! It seems we were made to be fulfilled in serving each other. Covenant means giving relentlessly and unconditionally. I would be robbing Brian of a huge blessing by not allowing him to serve me. We were made for relationship! Giving and giving and giving, but also receiving. We cannot give what we cannot receive. The Bible says that we love only because God first loved us. I feel that way about Brian. He loves the love out of me!

So it is in my relationship with Jesus. He knows my heart is to love and serve Him. And now, He is showing me how He loves to see my longings fulfilled. He's after my heart; many other things (obviously within His truth) can be negotiated. There are certainly times when obedience is the mandate and it is usually clear to my spirit even if my flesh wants to fight it. But I believe "free will" is not just about choosing between "right and wrong", but sometimes between "right and right." It was meant to be a gift to us from a loving Father!

Monday, September 22, 2008

"So what do you think?"

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path" Proverbs 3:5-6

I've heard a lot over the years about the first half of this verse. And rightfully so! It is power-packed with a whole lot of truth and freedom wrapped up in a simple exhortation. The part that has been hitting me between the eyes lately is: "In all your ways acknowledge Him..." Hmm. It is too easy for me in the whirlwind of life to just keep zooming along, oftentimes making decisions without even asking Jesus (or my husband for that matter!) what He thinks about the situation. Now I'm not talking about bacon vs. sausage or outside vs. inside play. It's the decisions about my children's health, whether or not to offer my help when it means a sacrifice on my family's part, whether it's time to change the rules or extend more privileges, etc. You know, the decisions that are certainly not trivial, but not always life-changing either.

These decisions often don't have a right or wrong answer. Regardless, He has promised that if I acknowledge (recognize or notice) Him in all things, He will direct me on His path. Isn't that what relationship is all about? He may not have a "perfect" plan or answer in every situation, I think sometimes He just likes to hear from His kids!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Tongue Part 4

Okay, okay, I know I might seem a bit of a fanatic about this "word" topic. It's something the Lord has been working in me for awhile and I just have to get it down in writing!

Whether we like it or not, our words help to shape our children's understanding of their identity. For example, early on in parenting, I learned from someone wise that when I praise my children by saying "good girl!" I am really saying "you are good because of how you just performed" or "your goodness is rooted in what you do or don't do." I know this may seem picky, but it's really true! The Bible clearly states that we are good, or righteous, simply because Jesus made us that way when we chose to believe in Him by faith. (Check out the book of Romans for more on that.)

However, it is good and necessary to affirm our children for their good choices, Godly behavior or simply a job, well done! "Great job!" "Well done!" There are many other ways to encourage our children in this area. Sometimes, I even follow-up my affirmation with a reminder that I would have loved him/her just as much if he/she had made a poor choice or not done as well at a task. They need to know that they are good just because Jesus made them that way and NOT as a result of what they do. We all need to know this, not just as "head knowledge" but in our spirits and souls! Oh, how much heartache I would have saved myself over the years if I grew up being fully convinced of this unconditional love, acceptance and gift of righteousness!

Jesus, let our children NEVER doubt the truth of their identity: they have been made righteous. Period.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Too Simple to Be True?

I've often heard veteran parents joke with first-timers about the baby "manual" that was missing at birth. When I first became a parent, I remember having a moment with Jesus of sheer excitement quickly turned to being overwhelmed with ALL the things I wanted to be sure to teach my children about Him. This sense of almost panic overcame me as I expressed my desires of wanting to teach them all that I learned the hard way, saving them the pain that I endured....I cried out to the Lord, "How in the world am I going to make sure they learn all these things. How can I know for sure that they will love and follow You all the days of their life?" His gentle response came back to me "All they need to know is how to love Me and love those around them. The rest will come." Can it be that simple!? How easily I forget the power of love and the two greatest commandments. And just as easily I forget the greatest teaching tool - my example.

Seven years and five children later, I still must be deliberate about frequently removing my vision from the nitty gritty and looking at the larger picture of life: loving Jesus with all I have and loving those around me. Boy do I need that reminder on the days when "you-know-what" hits the fan (sometimes literally, it seems!) and my actions are less than loving. Although this truth is simple, it is not always easy. What a relief to know that I can't ruin my kids as long as they are surrendered to Him and my heart is pure before Him! I then go back to a place of re-setting my affections solely on Him and letting Him be our Daddy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Tongue Part 3

"There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18

Note: Although one could probably spend a whole blog on this subject itself, I promise this will not become a kin to the endless Airplane movie sequels! :-)

The power of LIFE is also in our tongues. Some may call it semantics, but if we believe the Bible is true, then it is true, no exceptions. Our children may have bad habits and tendencies, but we have the opportunity to speak about them with honor, declaring what they will be and what they will become according to how their Father in heaven sees them! Again, the Holy Spirit is constantly reminding me of the potential of my words when I am frustrated about certain actions of my children's that seem never-ending! This is especially dangerous for us moms who like to vent our complaints to each other (which little ears pick up on more than we realize!). Can you picture Jesus venting His frustrations about His disciples (or us, for that matter) to the Father? I don't think so! It all starts with what is in our hearts. Love? Honor? Criticism? Judgment? Then, if we stop to notice, we see what we are modeling by the little mirrors around us. It may take more faith for some of us than others to see and declare the potential of heaven in our kids, our husbands...ourselves. Regardless, ALL things are truly possible, we must only believe!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Tongue Part 2

I have also noticed on my journey of parenting so far, that there are some phrases that have been passed down through the generations that aren't always given much thought before they come flying out of well meaning mouths. For example, "you made the mess, now you clean it up." Well, that's seems like a nice, responsible statement on the surface, but when you unpack it, those words don't model the life of Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom of God. I'm sure glad Jesus doesn't say that to us! Granted, there are consequences to our actions, but we are NEVER left alone to deal with it. Jesus was the greatest servant of all time! As far as I've come in this journey with Him, I've learned that love makes up for my lack, it picks me up in the middle of my mess, it helps me out when I least deserve it. Love serves and love gives, relentlessly. If helping my children clean up their mess of toys helps to put their feet in the tracks of Jesus on the journey of servanthood, then it is worth it!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Tongue

"Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" Proverbs 18:21

It seems that the power of our words is often an oversight in parenting. Simply our careless use of the words "always" and "never" is a good indication of this. Another classic example is the "cute" shirts we thoughtlessly don on our kids with messages like: "I'm the boss" or "Spoiled Rotten" or "Here Comes Trouble". With three girls very close in age, I already find myself professing how terrible the adolescent years will be like in our house. The Holy Spirit has caught me time and time again with a gentle "careful!" There are already dozens of voices in the world saying what our children are, should be or will become. SOMEBODY on this earth needs to speak The Truth over them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Supernatural Exchange

I've noticed over the years (the more recent ones to be more precise) that time being with Jesus translates into more hours in the day, better rest and an increase in energy for "life stuff" (i.e. chasing kids, changing diapers and making a gazillion meals a week, to name a few). Though it has taken awhile to figure this out, I have learned that when I am feeling particularly tired and low on energy, I need to consider when I most recently was deliberate to hang out with Jesus. I don't really know how it works, but it's pretty wild to think that a supernatural relationship translates into such tangible "natural" consequences. And at the same time, I want to be with Him because I love Him so much! Really, when you think about it, God makes it rather easy to learn to be dependent on Him. For me, through that increasing reality of dependency has run an ever deepening river of love for my Daddy. However, I wish that my original motivation for being with Jesus, once I fully committed my life to Him, was this intimate love that I now know.

Children, it seems, are born lovers (of course, they are made in the image of The Greatest Lover of all time!). Their desire to love and be loved is played out in a wide variety of habits and behaviors, verbal and non-verbal. The younger they are, the more easily they love and forgive, anyone and everyone. As a mom, I am trying hard to channel this God-given ability into a reckless love for Jesus. I don't want to pass along what was passed to me: the stigma of Christianity to "spend time with God everyday, praying and reading the Word" just because that's what Christians do. Instead, I want to give them a model of such deep abiding love for Jesus, that they can't help but hunger to know Him more, searching out whatever resources are available to understand every facet of Him. Before I married my husband, I looked forward each day to every bit of contact I could have with him, in whatever form. I didn't have to force myself to schedule in time for him because I knew it was the "right" thing to do as a fiance'. Only prior commitments and urgent responsibilities could keep me from being with him. And even then, nothing could keep my thoughts and prayers from being with him all the time! My heart had been captured by this amazing man who was to become my husband.

It makes me curious to think what my life would be like today had I known this intimacy when I first met my Daddy. That's neither here nor there. This is where I am now and I am absolutely determined, relentless, in fact, to make myself and our home available to the powerful, loving presence of Jesus, The Only One who can reveal His passionate love for His kids - and mine!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Clearing My Head

Somewhere along the way, the importance of getting "away", stuck with me and it stuck hard. As I write, I am in a retreat location, away from my family, my home and the daily routine. It's amazing to me how even a 2 hour car ride, void of other humans, can bring relief to my mind, emotions and spirit. In college I always looked forward to my trips home for breaks. To be honest, I secretly hoped that no one would ask for a ride. Those drives became my time with Jesus. Just me and Him. Every emotion possible came to surface in my little orange Toyota. When I finally arrived to my destination, my head was much clearer and my spirit lifted.

This morning, as I peeled my children off my legs in an effort to get out of the house, I assured them that "I will come back a better mommy". My four year old, Seraphina, asked if she could go with me. Before I could answer, Elizabeth (5 years old) responded, "if you go, mommy won't be able to hear Jesus very well." Well said. As I drove away, I prayed that they would take note of my hunger to pull away and just be before Him.