The Resurrection Of A Dream

The Resurrection of a Dream

Do you ever have those seasons where you feel like God has just gone completely dark and left you to fend for yourself? Perhaps that’s a little overdramatic, but I would venture to say that some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

To catch you up (since I haven’t had much to say in the last couple months – really sorry about that) . . . our family relocated to the Nashville area of Tennessee to follow what we strongly believed was a prompting from the Lord. It was not an easy process, but we made the move at the very end of 2016. Now, 3 months in, the boys are thriving in their new school, Stephen is cranking away working his job from home, we are making new friends and getting embedded in a great church community, AND we are getting to watch what will be our new permanent home go up in the lot right next to our rent house. Lots of exciting things going on, and yet there still seems to be some pretty substantial gaps that, quite frankly, throw me into a spiritual, mental, and emotional battle every day.

I fully expected to be settled into a new job well before now and I definitely did NOT expect to be looking at almost 6 months since the last time I was behind a microphone. And yet, here I am. Still without a steady income and still waiting to get to do the thing I love doing the most. The two pieces of my world that I thought were the main reasons the Lord was relocating our family are the only two pieces of this puzzle that are still missing.

Please don’t hear me say that I’ve somehow convinced myself that the Lord has uprooted our lives only to abandon us in the desert. There are plenty of good things happening for us that are exciting. But as it goes sometimes with God-sized plans, all the things that make sense have gone out the window, which for personalities like mine creates a deep sense of unrest and leads to feelings of doubt.

And then the other day as I was processing some of this with my husband, Stephen, it dawned on me that this place is somewhere I’ve been before and had just tucked away in those dark corners of my memory.

Type A Christianity

Type A Christianity

We all have our thorns, right? Some are more obvious than others. Some lead to tougher earthly circumstances than others. Some feel debilitating while some are just plain annoying. Nevertheless, they are unwelcome interruptions that hold the potential of affecting our relationship with the Lord and with those around us.

And one of the very unfortunate tendencies among believers is to play the comparison game, and I am just as guilty as the next guy. It happens in a number of ways, but I would like to focus on one particular avenue the enemy takes in order to cripple Christians when it comes to comparing our thorns.

Who can relate to this scenario?

You’re sitting in a Bible study, church service, or even a big worship event. The speaker or facilitator starts to share what they’re setting up as a deep, dark secret or huge confession. They proceed to spill the beans on this devastating stronghold they just HAD to get off their chest and you’re left sitting there dumbfounded thinking, “Seriously? That’s it? That’s the big, ugly, dark sin you’ve been carrying?”

Please tell me I’m not the only one with both hands in the air right now?

But it’s true, right? It feels a little bit like when a spoiled, rich kid starts complaining about having to settle for Gucci instead of Louboutin. “I mean, how do you even cope with life?”

So there you are, squirming in your seat because your wretchedness is glaring at you in the face harder than ever, and not just because you’re that much more aware of your “real” sin but because now you’ve also managed to trivialize the sin of another believer.

A Living Sacrifice

A Living Sacrifice

Followers of Christ are instructed in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

This is the only time in the Bible that the words living and sacrifice are used together. I’ve been a church-going, Bible-reading Christian for over 30 years now but only recently did these two words jump off the page at me in a way that awakened me to a fresh view of God’s grace and mercy.

What comes to mind when you hear or read the word sacrifice? For me, it’s death. Something must die, usually a pretty gruesome death, for a sacrifice to be complete and effective. When I study the Old Testament and all the sacrificial practices, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that we no longer have to go through the rituals they had to before Jesus. The smells, the sights, the sounds, all of it. I’m sure at a point the Israelites had grown almost numb to the process involved, but I can’t believe for one second that there wasn’t some level of emotional pain felt by those performing and watching the sacrifices take place. If for no other reason than they were keenly aware that this animal was brutally stripped of its life for their sake. That has to leave a mark.

Enter Jesus.

The man who left glory to come put up with humanity for a time – to walk in our shoes, breathe our air, break our bread, experience our joy, and endure our pain, only to be scorned, beaten, and killed. But His death and glorious resurrection turned the tables completely, didn’t it? It didn’t necessarily eradicate the need for sacrifices completely, but it did redefine what sacrifice would look like for the rest of time.

Hear me out.

Motivation For Obedience

Motivation For Obedience

“BECAUSE I SAID SO!”

Four words that every parent has uttered, even though most of us probably vowed when we were young to never say them.

But as adults, we have a better understanding that there’s more to that phrase than can be heard by the ears of our children. I know that when I say those words to my boys, I am actually saying, “You need to obey what I’ve told you to do or not do because I know what’s good for you and I only have your best interest in mind. So just trust me when I instruct you. Believe that I will take care of you and protect you.”

But let’s face it, to a stubborn seven year old, that sounds like pure gibberish and does nothing to quench his desire for immediate gratification. And so we lean on that old crutch to get them to respond and hopefully obey.

Don’t you know our Heavenly Father gets a good chuckle every time he hears us use that phrase? Because we, like our stubborn children, are just as guilty of rebelling or avoiding obedience when it doesn’t scratch our itches. We obey quickly and easily when there’s something in it for us, but as soon as He asks us to do something that interrupts our agenda we hesitate, and sometimes even outright refuse.

A few months ago I found myself in a similar predicament that wound up having a profound effect on my understanding of obedience.

Parenting With Grace (For Yourself)

Parenting With Grace For Yourself

When I got married at the age of 27, Stephen and I knew it wouldn’t be terribly long before we would start our family. We knew we wanted two or three kids and we had no idea if getting pregnant would be easy or difficult for us. So with only about five or six months of marriage under our belts, we started trying. By God’s grace, after only a few months we found out we were expecting our first baby, and the following May our Bishop Anthony arrived. A perfect 7 lb. 11oz. bundle of pure joy. I remember just sitting and watching him sleep. At different times, Stephen and I would look at each other and say, “What did we ever do before he was here?”

Well fast forward nine and a half years and two little brothers later, and I can list for you about 364 things we used to do before he was here. Things like . . . go see a movie after church every Sunday, eat at a restaurant for under $25 and with almost no meltdowns, drive little cars with 2 doors and tiny gas tanks, and sleep uninterrupted ‘til 10:00am every Saturday. I wish I could say that there’s never a single moment that I wouldn’t give anything to go back to those days, but I’d be a liar. Because the bare-naked, raw, honest truth is that over the years we’ve moved from “What did we ever do before they were here?” to “Why did we have children again?” We are just in a really hard and trying season of parenting. I realize that every season of parenting has it’s own struggles, but for us right now, with energetic boys who are 9, 7, and 4, even the thought of going out in public with all 3 of them sends me into the fetal position. Just about every night I go to bed disappointed that I let another day go by without managing to control myself and my responses to the boys. And just about every morning I wake up praying that maybe this would be the day I don’t let them push me over the edge.

Right now we are wrapping up a three-week stretch of winter break from school. Their old school in Texas got out a week earlier than their new school here in Tennessee, which means their new school starts a week later than their old school. So for 21 solid days we have had zero structure and to make life crazier, we made the biggest move we’ve ever made in the middle of it. And I don’t know about you, but we are a family who thrives in structure and without it we sort of fall apart at the seams. Needless to say, Monday morning could not come fast enough for me . . . I mean, us.

Lately I’ve been going to the Lord and pleading for Him to show me how to be a better mother to these boys; to give me more patience as I deal with their defiance, more understanding as I mediate their arguments with one another, and more of a desire to enjoy them during this season. Something I felt Him say to my spirit is that I’m way too hard on myself. I’ve set my expectations for myself, and for the boys, way too high. I compare our family too often to other families. Then it hit me . . . I give myself zero grace so why on earth would I have any grace left to extend to our children? I strive every day to parent on my own strength, by my own standards, with my own expectations. Until I can get to a place where I’m willing to lay that down, nothing will change.