Friday, April 29, 2016

Wrestling with God

My faith is a bit messy at times.  My heart gets shaky over new struggles that I can't find the answers to and inside I start fighting a feeling that's pressing up against my chest.   A feeling that the best way to solve my problems is to press through my days not really facing the fears( or the real issues that need resolution) that have come to rest at my side.  I have to admit it looks a lot more like running and less like faith.  I enjoy encouraging others and when I'm wrestling it's hard to see up from down.  Encouragement seems hard to grasp, even harder to give.  

I realize though that faith and life without wrestling seems a little safe and unreasonable in nature.

So here I've been, flailing around and facing fears.  Waking up freer each day(sometimes I can't recognize this till later).  
Doing life with the author of life requires risk, intimacy and trust.  Every time I've wrestled in the past, God's shown up to meet me. 

When I couldn't stop lying and stealing or shake my anger when I first surrendered my life to Jesus.  

When I couldn't hear his voice and I didn't want to keep walking forward without it.  

When my husband got hospitalized and I wasn't sure if I would get him back.  

When I had a particularly alarming bout of postpartum depression.

I've gotten a word that springs hope, brings revelation, inner healing or a shift of focus to the Eternal.  Answers to questions I never formed into prayers. 

So Stop Running.  The stress is just as much in the running as it is in your circumstances.  An infinite, eternal God is not afraid of your flailings.

Lamentations 3: (The Message)
25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.
28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take,
    go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
    Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
    The “worst” is never the worst.
31-33 Why? Because the Master won’t ever
    walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
    His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
    in throwing roadblocks in the way:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Keep running/Not alone

Psalm 5:3 In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; In the morning I prepare (a prayer, a sacrifice) for You and watch and wait( for you to speak to my heart).

Give us this day our daily bread, don't look back, don't look too far forward, don't worry, don't fear.  Sometimes contentment seems like a tall order,

I looked up "The Lord's Prayer" in my you version app and to my surprise the first thing that popped up was not the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples but loads and loads of prayers lifted up throughout the Bible.  Prayers with incense, prayers laid flat, prayers of a nation.  I read words like "You hear me" and "because I was bold enough to pray this prayer" and the thing that crosses my mind is that I'm not alone.  I can look into the Bible and view how people throughout history have wrestled with the reality of walking with the Eternal and see that it's not so different from my own path.  Crying out, asking questions.  Thinking God is crazy and at the same time knowing he is faithful.  Please wet the fleece.  Please dry the fleece now too.  Learning to trust a wild and loving God.

I saw that God instructed someone to burn incense as a symbol of prayer.  Incense permeates the area around it filling a room in all in its cracks and crevices.  Our prayers are changing the atmosphere around us(and in us) as well as being heard by and delighting the heart of our father God.  How beautiful is it that God gives us tangible things to grasp the intangible.  Something to taste, touch, smell, see or hear.

So it's one day at a time.  Choosing prayer instead of fear or checking out to my phone or to a project when things arise.  A few months ago a problem surfaced again with one of my boys that had taken me over with worry for him, for his future.  The worry did nothing to bring any change though.  It only served to halt me in any progress while I built imaginative horror stories of his future.  Let's not entertain imaginative fear for too long or he'll show up unexpected(anxiety, panic).  So I'm praying and taking my eyes off the worry-induced pretend future I've made for him to uplift and encourage my real son in the here and now.

God says he has good plans for him anyway.

I've had some answers and acting on them has already begun to bring good fruit but I still need to lean into God for my path.  So thankful for the encouragement of the many who've followed God throughout history that tell us that he hears us, sees us and show us that he moves for us.  If we stepped into the middle of their stories we'd probably see the glorious messes that they were, full of faith, desperation and uncertainty but you look a little further and you get to see the miraculous.  Thank God for their complete stories and God in the midst of them.  Not alone, not alone, not alone.

God I trust you with all the uncertainty and pray that you would take my hand as I run headstrong into the unknown.

Hebrews 12:1-3
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Monday, April 11, 2016

I'll say it for you, "I've got my hands fuuuuuuullllllll."

Lately getting out of my house has been a challenge.  With three boys getting out of the house in a timely manner while remembering where I'm going and what I'm doing is a miracle.  Not a miracle that sounds very awe-inspiring like feeding the 5,000, healing or raising the dead but a miracle involving my own mental capacities of which I am very grateful.

Point is, once I'm out the comments start flowing.

I almost always hear, "You've got your hands full".

Now I understand that this is a natural reaction to seeing a mom out with three lively boys but while I was pregnant with my last I was constantly asked, "Are you having a girl?" or "Did you want a girl/Are you disappointed?"

Which begs the question in my mind, "Do girls fix your problems as a parent?"

The tone of the question changes these conversations drastically.  From the lighthearted and caring stranger to the looks at my kids like they have the plague stranger.  Either way it just leads me to the root of this interaction which is, "Am I ok with my boys, my life, my choices."

The answer is yes.

We have bad days.  We have good days.  When the bad days begin to outnumber the good ones I have to look for the cause because the fact that they are boys is not the reason.  Am I tired, achy/hungry, need a break or do boundaries need to be reestablished, behavior addressed, loving connections made?

I love their energy(really), creativity, joy and laughter.  Most of the time we are laughing.  Some of the time we are wrestling.  Parts of the time we are crying.  None of the time are we resting( ok maybe sometimes).

I love that I have loads of excuses to do "Boy" things that I would love to do anyway.  Introducing them to Star Wars and Indiana Jones, jumping in mud puddles, helping little ones climb up into trees and wrestling on the floor.

I've also introduced them to "Girly" things like the day they sat and watched Anne of Green Gables mostly because the tv was on or all our poetry tea times( although I think poetry and tea time are for everyone anyway).

While homeschooling we took nature walks, had field trips every other week, acted out history lessons and had our hands deep into messy science experiments and dioramas.  We read Shakespeare and the Odyssey( children's versions) and discussed ancient history, God and the Civil rights movement.  I've been missing it so much that I haven't quite known what to do with just my toddler.  It's a new season though and we're growing and learning, searching for our footing in a new place.

So yes my hands are still full.  Full of joy and sometimes dishes or frustration but full none the less.  That's the way I like it.  Hopefully I'll know what to do with my hands when they're free as well.  I think I'll start to practice.

Friday, April 8, 2016

If you wanna sing out, sing out(to cats).

I like to sing.  Sometimes I'm alright at it and sometimes I'm just sing narrating my day( think the more awkward side of Zooey Deschanel).  Or singing out my frustrations or interrupting conversations with close friends to sing songs related to the discussion( always helpful).

You just can never tell( grandmother quote).  

When my husband and I still lived with my in-laws I was caught singing to my cat.  I had picked up my tiny tabby and took him outside to check the mail when being fully immersed in belting out a song to my kitten Tiger I turned and locked eyes with my husband's adult cousin.  I don't even think he reacted.  I felt ridiculous.  I went inside.  I kept singing.  Sometimes you can't keep it in.

                                                British Mobile ad and pretty much what happened

10 ways I know I've been bitten by the creativity bug( in no particular order):

#1 Watching talent based shows of any kind makes me want to get up and do the thing.  "What do you mean I don't sew/do stand up/ balance plates on my head?  I'm going to go practice now."

#2 I begin to tell myself stories inwardly and have to remind myself to interact with humans that day.

#3 I go to the craft table at Mops(Mothers of preschoolers) saying I don't even know what I'm gonna do and end up engrossed in the craft until it's time to go( you mean it's over?).

#4 I look up you tube videos on vocal coaching and sit there and practice.  For what, I'm not sure.

#5 Grab 2 books and 10 magazines at Barnes & Noble, then voraciously try to read everything like Johnny 5 while child plays at train table.

#6 Incessant car drumming.

#7 It feels as though parenting would be much better if crafts were involved.  For every occasion.

#8 The recycling bin is beginning to look like a project to you( ooh plastic).

#9 Laughing at the grocery store from delight of food selection( as opposed to groaning and filling your cart with frozen items because you're so stinkin tired).

#10 When your heart fills with the beauty of......a building, a strangers smile, the light coming thru the trees at dusk, etc.

Your list will be different and perhaps more amazing and hilarious.

Be creative, enjoy stuff and share your enthusiasm because we all need connection and contagious joy.