Monday, November 28, 2011
I found one the other day. It was darkened and dull with age. I picked it up and tossed it in the drawer for the Sunday School offerings and in that drawer was a bowl full of tarnished, uncared for pennies. Waiting. Languishing.
How long does it take for a penny to tarnish? How long does it take for the bright, shiny coppery finish to wear and collect the grime and dirt of everyday living? I think it all depends on what that penny experiences.
I held that tarnished, dirty penny in my palm and I pondered the fact that I am twelve and a half years into this mothering journey and I have lost the shine of a new penny. My efforts appear to be tossed aside. The idealism has worn thin and I wonder if all my sacrifices have been discarded like the little forlorn penny.
Yet...like a tarnished penny, I can be made shiny again. I need the washing of the word. I need the assurance of Isaiah 52:12 that my God leads me and he is my rear guard. I need to take the time to spend with the One who can wipe the tarnishing of teaching decimals, or forgetting to pay the bills, or pronouns verses possessive nouns away and reveal the shiny heart beating for motherhood beneath.
I believe in mothering, I believe that all my efforts will not be wasted, but it is like walking in the dark, and sometimes it feels really dark and I just want a little glimpse into the future, but my Jesus, he says, 'Jess, take my hand, let me lead you over decimals and english and little boys and squabbling baby girls; just hold my hand and hang on tight and look. at. Me.'
Wherever you are at today in your mothering or teaching, know this: The Lord longs to be gracious to you, he longs to lead you, he longs to hold your hand and walk you through the mines of raising children whose hearts beat for him.
Reach out and Hold. On.
Friday, November 25, 2011
For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.
For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Won’t you join us?
when life is great, it is full, but when life stretches and pulls and tugs and stabs, gratefulness becomes a sacrifice. It becomes a sacrifice because I must lay down my rants and stop my whining and lift my sacrifice of praise to the One who sees.
So when life pulls and stretches like a woman swelling with new life within my heart must swell and nurture grateful thoughts, grateful actions. Gratefulness which is free of comparisons and contrasting my life with my friends' or my neighbors' or my 'wish-they-were-my-friends' bloggers.
Gratefulness reflects God's great full-ness towards this life he has graciously given me to life. Gratefulness = God's greatness. He is mighty, magnificent. He sees. He cares. He knows my words before I do. He holds the world in his hands and I am in his hands and he will. not. let. go. Praise God!
Gratefulness is my heart filled with His Greatness. My heart stretches and swells until it bursts into songs of joy just as my body once swelled and gave birth. It wasn't without it's discomfort and pain, but the joy. Oh the joy. And so it is with gratefulness.
Blessings to you and your family this wonderful, wonderful day,
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The cycle is complete, or has it just begun? The fields lay quiet; stripped of their fruit. They await the winter snows and spring rains and the spring-time implements ripping the surface open to lay in the seeds for next year's crop. It is the cycle of all growing things. A time of rest. A time of preparing the soil to receive seed. A time of planting. A time of growing. And a time of harvesting only to begin again.
My heart is the soil the Gardner is tilling and amending to prepare His seed. My heart is the field where the harvest will happen. And just like in real soil, there will be pockets of beautiful loamy soil and in others it will be clay-like. Other parts will be sandy where the water flows through and is always dry. Sections may be missing a crucial nutrient for ideal seed growth. The Gardner does what He needs to do the prep the heart soil to receive His seed.
I have sections of my heart that are like this. There is the sandy part of me where the assurances of God's promises flow right on out and those parts are continually parched and dry and I continually need reassuring. Or the section of heart soil that is a bit clay-like. The words of the Lord sit and soak in, but don't drain out as well. This is the section that needs help in giving to others, to serving others. Then there is the heart soil that is perfect for growing. It soaks in and drains out. I take the Words in and breathe them out. In and Out. Over and over. And what remains is a flourishing, beautiful harvest.
'Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is is for the autumn and spring rains. You too. Be patient and stand firm because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The judge is standing at the door!' James 5:7-9
This is why grace is the rain we all need to shower on one another. All of our heart-soils are being worked and tilled and prepared for God's seed and some areas of our heart-soils are still weedy and sometimes those weeds spill over into how we treat one another or our speech. Grace is the rain that covers it all and allows those weeds to be pulled more easily. Grace. When we respond with grace we water the heart-soil and the weeds give way to the Lord's gentle tug.
Blessings poured towards you today.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Is the word of the Lord with me? Do I serve God wholeheartedly every day of the week, am I a woman of prayer? This is what I ask myself. I keep hearing the call to go out and be a light in the marketplace, the community and the world, but where is the call to be a light in the Home?
My home needs to be where I shine the brightest, where the light of the six of us shine the light of Jesus into our neighborhoods. But I haven't been hearing that from the pulpit. I hear about the individual shining for Jesus, but aren't we a corporate body? Shouldn't we shine together, encouraging one another in the paths Jesus has called us to? Isn't there some way to combine the two calls--the call to 'go into all the world and preach the gospel' and 'Deut. 6: 4-10?' into one call?
The path. On first glance, it appears as if I am ignoring the call to go out into the world and preach the gospel. It appears that I am hiding my light under the rafters of my home. It appears that following this mothering call is a lesser call than witnessing to strangers. First glances cannot be trusted. But if I look deeper; if I look at the deeper significance of mothering, I find myself viewing motherhood with an outwardly view. A view that reveals that what I am doing by staying in my family is actually reaching out to the world. It is a global attack. Because these four kids are arrows. They are His arrows. I will do my part to prepare them for a life serving Christ and I will place the arrow in the bow and pull the string taut, but it will be God who guides the arrow to its mark.
I want these arrows to fly straight and true. Is there a prophet of the Lord here in this home? Is there one who has the word of the Lord? Or am I expending my evangelistic energies on those outside my home? Am I studying my Bible so I can be prepared to go into all the world, or am I studying it so that I can more effectively share the word of Truth with my kids? These kids are my mission field. Just because they are being raised in the Christian home doesn't automatically mean that they are Christians. They need the gospel life-preached to them on a daily basis.
This is my mission field. Some may be called to a local ministry, or the mission field far from home but the important thing is this: obedience to the call Jesus has placed on my life. I can't be obedient to your call and you can't be obedient to my call. We each are responsible for our own obedience to our own specific call. And I think we need to offer loads of encouragement to each other!
You are doing a great job! Your family is such a blessing. You are changing the world for Christ, one little child at a time. Keep going, you can do it! If you are bogged down by messing up (once again--like me over here), take hold of the grace and forgiveness God extends to you and pass it along.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Psalm 59:9 'Oh my strength I watch for you. Oh God, you are my fortress, my loving God'.
It is so fun to watch my kids watching for company to arrive. They dance from window to window exchanging reports of 'do you see them?' 'nope.' 'do you?'. And on it goes until the long awaited car pulls into the driveway. Then the cries of 'they're here' ring throughout the house. What a lesson I could learn from them! The attentiveness. The awareness. The anticipation.
I am waiting for Someone as well. He is my strength, but I forget to watch for him. I start out with great intentions, but the day just slips by and I realize I forgot to watch for Him. I know He was with me, but did I see Him? Did I take the moments to really see Him? No.
I get caught up in the math facts, the phonics, the history, the lunch making, the discipling, the training, the squabbles of 4 little people playing my string tighter and tighter until....snap!, I break. I lose the anticipation of looking for Him in the mundane of my life. The revolving laundry. The dust bunnies that multiply over night. The empty cookie jars that cry out to be filled every other day. Mundane. If I am not careful, I just look down, to the next thing I need to do and forget to look up and out and around to catch a glimpse of Him.
This is why Ann's message is so timely for today. Life trucks by at alarming speeds and we will miss seeing Him if we do not take the time to watch for Him. To look up and see that corn husk flittering across the road. The red-tailed hawk soaring above his prey. The silky milk-weed seeds floating in mid-air. The rust color of the wild asparagus as the setting sun lights it on fire. The sleepy morning tussle of hair on the little one. The received grace instead of Mama's explosion. The fulness of life in the insistent and constant 'mama, this; mama, that' from four voices at once. But if I can filter through all of life to the watching for Him, I am blessed and I find refuge.
Oh my Strength, I watch for you. You are my refuge, my loving God.
Watch......watch and you will find your Strength.
Friday, November 11, 2011
For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Won’t you join us?1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
I seem to always be taken aback by the unexpected hurts and sadness. The heart wrenching disappointments that take me by surprise. The flashes of irritation that seem to come from out of nowhere and somewhere. The unexpected reaction to the child that knows, knows how to push buttons. The surprise that trials really do come and really do happen.
But this....This one thing that I am trying to see: It is the unexpected blessings that slip in and out of the moments of the day. It is the way the sunshine streams in through the window and makes the table glow in the afternoon light. It is the smile in response to my saying 'yes' . It is the peace that comes when I trust in the One who knows all things. It is the way the grasses bend and sway in the afternoon breeze. It is the smell of popcorn and cocoa for an evening snuggled together with books.
These are the unexpected moments that I miss but am trying so hard to capture. This is what I want to be taken surprise by. The unexpected love gifts from the One who created me and all that is in it.
May your weekend be filled with Light and Love,
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
It is so easy for my purpose to get lost along the way of living life. Marriage is a lot harder in reality than in thought. Raising children is enough to cause gray hair or hair loss, depending on how frustrated I am! Living this life well requires me to have a defined purpose.
I have realized that my desire is to be the best wife I can be to 'deere' hubs, and the best mom and teacher to my four little 'deeres' and to serve God in my church and community. However, underlying these ideals needs to be a purpose that can carry me through the tough days.
My purpose is two words: Follow Christ. Sink into that thought. When my only purpose is to Follow Christ, it takes everything else I need to do--being a wife, mom, teacher, church member, community member and brings clarity and perspective and gives me motivation on those days when I want to run away because life is so hard.
Knowing that my purpose is to follow Christ, I will then listen for His direction in my marriage, mothering, teaching, and serving. By focusing on Christ, and what He desires, I release myself from a lot of pressure to keep up with my roles. Because my purpose is to Follow Christ.
1. Do you ever get overwhelmed by all the different roles you play?
2. How does having a purpose help you stay focused and motivated?
How would having only one purpose: To Follow Christ; change how you view all your roles?
Monday, November 7, 2011
My weaknesses have value. Yes. My inconsistencies, my impatience, my laziness, my 'down days' have value. They have value because they cause me to be fervent in prayer. They have value because they cause me to know God's comfort, His grace, and His power. For that reason alone I can be thankful for my weaknesses.
My weaknesses have other values as well. God is attracted to a humble spirit. He draws close to me when I am broken and contrite in spirit. My weaknesses are used for His glory not only because he is strong when I am weak, but because my weaknesses bring me to a point of humility and when I am humbled He flows in me and through me.
Sometimes I think, we as women, believe that there is something wrong with us if a 'weakness' shows up repeatedly in our life, but that may be the very thing God is using to show His strength in our lives. So instead of beating ourselves up over our weaknesses, couldn't we let God's grace fill the weaknesses so that He might be glorified?
1.What are 'weaknesses' that seem to show themselves frequently in your life?
2.What is your response to those weaknesses?
3.Do you beat yourself up or wonder if you will ever 'conquer' this?
Instead of despairing over the weakness, could you place it in God's hands and let Him fill you with grace in this area? Ask Him how He can be glorified through this weakness.
May you enjoy His blessings today,
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Once I have been still, I need to satisfy my soul with the Living Water and Bread.
We, as women, can become a one-woman show. Racing our kids here and there. Pursuing personal fulfillment. Trying to be the 'perfect' woman, or the Proverbs 31 women. Have you ever seen the trick of a plate balancing on a pole and to keep it there, the person needs to keep spinning the pole and then they add another and another? Well, that is how it can be for a woman. We need to keep all the plates spinning. And yet, many times, we are still unfulfilled and not satisfied so we had another spinning plate thinking that will satisfy this longing in our hearts, but it doesn't so we add another plate and on it goes. We are left with the question: 'What more must we do?'
Just one thing. Come to Jesus. Really, you might be thinking, one more thing to do? 'I have enough on my to-do list' may be running through your mind. But this one thing that looks as though it is just one more thing to do is, in reality, the most satisfying, restful thing you can do. It is a phenomenon that our finite minds fail to fully comprehend, but it works. It is in Jesus that we find what truly satisfies.
Have you tried filling this 'longing' in your heart with things other than a relationship with Jesus?
Take Jesus off the 'to-do' list and make Him what satisfies you.