Family PIc April 2015

Family PIc April 2015

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Church Is Kind Of A Big Deal and Changes in Me

My family gets to be a part of an amazing local church that serves a much more amazing God.

We're going through a series entitled "My Church Is Kind Of A Big Deal." 

The truth is, the only "big deal" is Jesus Christ Himself!  So, why would we say, "My church is kind of a big deal"?

It's because my church is a group of people who are MAKING JESUS A BIG DEAL - b/c we know He is everything He says He is!  His Spirit lives in us, and He is making us more like Him - sometimes very slowly...sometimes quickly...and always deliberately. 

We're at different places - some of us have known God intimately for a long time...some of us are just coming to know Him...and many of us are sorta in-between the two.  But, we are wanting to be different - closer to Him - in the days ahead.  We respect our differences and agree that God, through Christ, can use our sometimes broken, weak, and imperfect selves.

Unfortunately, a church like this, in today's America...well, it's rare. 

And that makes my church "kind of a big deal."

We're not perfect - nor do we claim to be.  In fact, it's one of the few churches I've been associated with that I don't feel like I have to pretend to be something I'm not.  I get to be ME.  (At least, I try to be me.  Old habits die hard for all of us, you know?)

And, the thing that most stands out to me is what ISN'T a big deal at my church. Things like: the clothes you wear, the tattoos you sport, the jewelry you have in all the right places, and not knowing everything there is to know about "the Christian life". 

There are some things that are strangely missing, too.  Things like: side-view glances, fake smiles, empty words, and this eery feeling that you don't belong b/c you're not "like everybody else."  Things like:  fear of inviting a friend, or coworker, or even some random person you meet on the street and having them feel like an outcast if they choose to come.

My church is also kind of a big deal because we realize that it isn't defined or contained by a building.  The church's BUILDING is a place - a GPS location - where we get to meet together during the week.  It's a TOOL we use to help others learn more about Him.  The building isn't the church - WE ARE THE CHURCH.

We are bonded by a common vision to "discover truth, experience community, and love people."  We don't just SAY we worship and serve Him outside the walls of our church building - we actually do it. 

That being said, yesterday God used my pastor when he shared a sermon that dealt with change - personal, real, tangible, noticable, life-changing growth - in EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of us.

He talked about how one of the purposes of looking in a mirror is to see what I might need to change about myself.  Wouldn't it be silly if I looked in a mirror, saw myself looking like a mess, and then walked away without doing anything about it?  What would be the point of looking in the mirror at all if I just ignored it???

God says, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was."  (James 1:23-24 NASB)

God has been showing me some things that I need to change about me - things that need to change so I can be more like Him and bring Him the glory He so rightly deserves.  Too often I've looked in the mirror of His word, and God has shown me the mess I am.  He's said, "Look at that bitterness, unforgiveness, and lack of self-control.  Let me help you clean it up.  I love you, and I want you to reflect Me - not yourself." 

And, what do I do?  

Yep.  You guessed it...I've too often walked away in ignorance or apathy.  Is it enough to see myself in the mirror, know I need to change, and just talk about it?

It isn't.

Last week, God even spoke through a dear friend, and showed me just how much I need to slow down even more and seek Him.  So, I'm letting God refine me.  I'm daily seeking to surrender my desires so I can reflect more of Him.  I'm trying to take a long, hard look in the mirror and not forget what God is showing me there. 

I'm seeking to be a "doer of the word" and not just a hearer. 

And, I'm learning there's a difference between being a "doer" and being a "doer of the word."

There's a song we've sang as a church several times.  The first time I heard it was during a worship service.  It was the Sunday following the miscarriage of our baby this past October.  I was so overcome with emotion by the words, I couldn't even sing.  I needed God to give me faith b/c I definitely had questions and doubts.

Yesterday, we sang it again.  And, again, I was completely overcome with God's Spirit present in the words of this song:

I need you to soften my heart
to break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
to see that you're shaping my life

All I am
I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
that you're good and your love is great
I'm broken inside, I give you my life

I need you to soften my heart
to break me apart
I need you to pierce through the dark
and cleanse every part of me

I may be weak
but Your spirit's strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will


Lord, help me change when you show me what needs changing. 

"...Give me faith to trust what you say, that you're good and your love is great.  I'm broken inside, I give you my life....I may be weak, but Your spirit's strong in me.  My flesh may fail, my God you never will..."


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays

Day 2 of rain and dreary weather here. 

That means 2 days of not really wanting the kids to run and romp through the yard.

That means some wilder-than-normal kiddos!

That means 2 days of not seeing sunshine and feeling just a LITTLE. BIT. BLUE.

Don't get me wrong - I do really like rainy weather, b/c I know we so often need the rain.  And, if I could snuggle in a cozy chair, with a fluffy blanket, beside a nice window - and read a good Karen Kingsbury novel in peace and quiet - I might REALLY LOVE rainy weather. 

But, who has time for THAT?!?!?

So, all day yesterday (Monday), I kept replaying this song in my mind.  It fit my mood.  Mondays are always hard for us anyway.  As busy as our weekdays are, the weekends often seem to be that much busier.  And, I'm not a morning person - enough said.

I have always loved the sound of The Carpenters.  It's a very distinguished sound, don't you think?

So here's to rainy days and Mondays.  May I run to "the One who loves me."  (I know this isn't Who the song refers to, but it spoke volumes to me this morning when I listened to the words.  I hadn't heard the song in a looooong time.)

Thanks, Lord, for reminding me to run to You - through rainy days AND Mondays.


*** If I'm correct, this song came along 4 years before I was even born.  And, yet, I've known the words for as long as I can remember...  I remember standing in my garage at home, growing up, and singing at the top of my lungs - I loved the acoustics in the garage! And in the bathroom with the avocado green tile, toilet, and sink - flashback to the 70's :)
(NOTE:  I, in no way, endorse or condone any product/service commercial that Youtube may connect to this video.  I've seen 2 different commercials at the beginning when I viewed this one - one of which peeved me greatly...)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Does Homemade Pizza Crust Make Me A Better Mom?

Well, welcome to a new year! 

Boy, did 2012 fly by in a flurry of commotion, expectations, heartaches, and joy - or what?!?

I realized years ago that there was no need for me to make New Year's resolutions - they always make me feel like a failure.  Usually they've included stupid stuff like - lose 10 pounds.

Besides, ten pregnancies and 8 children later, I've decided I'm entitled to be 10 lbs. heavier than when I got married.  At least that's the way I'm feeling right now, while those Reeses cups are calling my name from the cabinet.  When they're gone, maybe I'll rethink the 10 lb. thing.  Maybe I'll decide to eat less and exercise more.  Maybe wearing the same pair of black pants over and over and over, b/c I don't have others that fit, will motivate me to be healthier.  But I don't feel like thinking about it anymore right now.

So...on to the point...

The turning of a new year didn't prompt me to make a resolution exactly, but the past few months I have been thinking A LOT about my role as a wife and mother.  Over the course of the last couple of years, I've added a few things to my already very full "plate."

You see, I've been a full-time wife and mother for almost 15 years now.  I currently homeschool my 5 oldest children, while caring for my 3 youngest.  From the time my feet hit the floor in the morning, until the kids go to bed at night, I barely stop to use the bathroom.  Even when I'm on the toilet, I'm usually reading or making a "to do" list or screaming for the kids to stop wrestling before somebody gets hurt!  (I'm a multi-tasker...what can I say?)

So, somehow, I added several more very large items to my list of responsibilities / things I WANTED to do. Those things included, but were not limited to, responsibilities at church, learning to sew, learning better photography, training to become a doula, and starting this blog.  And, I started my own business - which somehow lead into 2 small, home-based businesses, actually.  If I choose to promote my doula services, that could make it 3. 

Before I knew it, 2012 was insanely busy - like INSANE!  I was homeschooling, making bows while I called out spelling words, and staying up really late just to have a little quiet time to get orders finished.  I've multi-tasked my life away.  My brain has been going 100 mph - constantly.

So, the past few months things have caught up with me. I've been tired, super-grumpy, depressed, and, in the midst of it all, I'm pretty sure God's been screaming at me to "BE STILL!!!" 

I don't even know if I know how...

And, I don't even know what "being still" looks like for me.

But, I do know this...somethings got to give - and it's NOT going to be my husband and children.  I need to refocus.  I need to step back and take a good, long, hard look at what's important. 

I don't want to get 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road and realize that I was home with my kids, but didn't really get to enjoy them. 

So, for the past couple of months I've begun to step back a little.  I've been asking God to show me what needs to change. 

I've been trying to schedule church and business responsibilities in a way that those things don't take precedence over my primary ministry - my husband and children.

I've been trying to give myself a little bit of grace when I don't feel like I get it all done.

When I should've taken a little extra time for a friend...

When I should've done a better job leading church preschool...

When I should've promoted my products/services more over the holidays...

When I should've sent that special gift/card/letter, but didn't...

I'm trying to focus on spending more time with Gregg and Nathan, Caleb, Eva, Elijah, Isaiah, Samuel, Silas, and Kedesh.

I know, I know...I'm here all day.  But, I mean REALLY spending time WITH them - not BESIDE them.

So, last week the kids asked if we could make homemade pizzas - with homemade pizza dough.  My first thought was "No way!  Can you imagine the mess we'll have to clean up?  Let's just eat sandwiches, or soup."  (I can be a real ogre.)

Then, I decided maybe this was one of those things God was trying to use to help me remember how to enjoy my kids. 

So, we made pizza dough.  First time EVER.

And 2 big pizzas.

And it was fun!  And yummy!

And, as lame and pitiful as it might sound, I needed that. 

It wasn't the pizza, really.  It was the fact that we stopped other responsibilites to do something just for fun - for all of us.  I'm afraid I haven't been very fun in way too long.

Just the day-to-day tasks of running our home can be daunting.  I'm not complaining - just stating a fact.  It takes a lot of work.  And, sometimes I totally forget to relax a little and enjoy life.

So, I'm trying to refocus.  I'm trying to slow down a little. 

I'm asking God for guidance.  Sometimes I have a hard time discerning if it's what God wants or just what I want.  And to make it more difficult, I think God often gives us the desires of our hearts and allows us to use our gifts/abilities to bless others and bring Him glory when that's our heart's motive.

So...does homemade pizza crust make me a better mom?

Probably not.

But, taking the time to make the crust with my kids, just might...