A Shout Out to Spring

garden love

Spring’s been getting some bad press lately, what with all these severe thunderstorms, hailstorms, and tornados. I just want to say how much I love spring.

Every year, I am amazed to see plants poking up for another round. This year something feels different. Things are not just squeaking by, they are thriving. Not only in my yard, but in my home too. My pets, my children, me. It feels like there is a greenhouse dome around this place.

peonies

Other than my childhood home, this is the longest I have ever lived in a house.
I started off planting things in pots so I could move them with me, but this year I am settling in. I feel a renewed peace about staying here for a while, really owning and improving this place that is my little home for now.

Herbs from Jacquelyn 5.24.13

This morning I read something that really grabbed my heart because it captures this moment so perfectly, both physically and spiritually. Here is an excerpt of Psalm 85:

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
But let them not return to their foolish ways.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
so our land will be filled with his glory.
10 Unfailing love and truth have met together.
Righteousness and peace have kissed!
11 Truth springs up from the earth,
and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
12 Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings.
Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
13 Righteousness goes as a herald before him,
preparing the way for his steps.

I hope you are feeling the excitement of this season too!

Manic Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…

Do you know what I struggle with more than anything? That middle part of things. The seasons of waiting for planted seeds to show fruit. That in-between time when I just don’t know the answer. I really like to know the answer.

I have become increasingly aware of this as my walk with the Lord matures. The honeymoon euphoria has settled into a more comfortable routine, and the relationship is deepening. We’re hammering out who is responsible for what, and did you know? Knowing the outcome of every situation and the answer to every question is not something I am responsible for.

Over the last few weeks, I have watched my moods swing recklessly high and uncomfortably low, all based on perceived circumstances. Someone recognize my contributions at work, or ask for my opinion? Skyrocket. Feel overlooked or out of control? Plummet. It’s exhausting, especially since this can happen multiple times a day. What a very short-sighted perspective I’ve allowed to creep in.

He is asking me to rest, and to trust him! So many times I have felt him take my face in his hands, look me in the eye, and say, “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

I have a lot of seeds planted, and a lot of promises which haven’t blossomed yet. It’s getting easier to trust him as I wait on those promises, but it’s not natural. Faith is supernatural. I’m learning to appreciate that it’s in these middle parts that he reaches us, molds us, and shows us his love. They are the places we grow and learn to choose him; they become our testimony.

It’s hard enough to accept this for myself, but quite another to trust him with someone else. My heart hurts to hear of someone’s child making decisions that are going to hurt in the end. And my own children…that’s where the whole control thing comes in. I would like to puppetmaster them safely into a healthy adulthood and relationship with him. We want to protect our people…but I realized this week just how fear-based my perspective has been. I’m starting to see that these times of struggle and waiting should be looked at with joy! Easier said than done, I know, but I am working on it.

I am thankful for the reminders of how unafraid he is in the midst of our daily circumstances. He has this. All I need to do is keep my eyes focused on him, and my heart grounded in his promises.

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

Mother’s Day…and Other Disasters We Get Ourselves Into

I’m gonna level with you. To me, there is no holiday more cringe-worthy than “Mother’s Day”.

Anxiety, guilt, fear, and disappointment hit me from every angle and it’s too much for me. There’s the pressure of adequately demonstrating my love, honor, and appreciation to the sweetest lady who probably uses these efforts as an internal gauge for her identity and self-esteem. There’s the cautious attempt to appear less celebratory around couples eating without a mother or child at the table. Then there’s the unrealistic and self-centered expectations I place upon my children to un-self-centered-ly show me how great I am. It is a total recipe for disaster.

Surely it’s not just me!
[Actually, I talked to my mom about this and she had no idea what I was talking about. Are there really women who don’t do this to themselves on Mother’s Day?? That makes me so happy!]

Even after preparing myself, I fell for it again this year. Found myself actually going to my room to pout about the greed and thoughtlessness that was running rampant in my home…when I realized that greed and thoughtlessness were the very things I was teaching them by my example. I saw how painfully easy it is for my own heart to switch from a position of gratitude, love, and honor to a frantic display driven by guilt, fear, expectations, appearances, and comparison. I realized that, really, so many of my actions are still rooted in the misplaced effort to earn love and approval through actions. Yuck. That is NOT what I want to teach my children!

I did end up having a wonderful day, thanks to this major revelation and attitude adjustment. It is not all about me! (When will this truth sink in??) I want to show my kids how unconditional love and honor look. I am motivated to generate a culture of thoughtfulness in our home, this time not starting with how I can fix them, and not even by focusing on my shortcomings in this area.

Instead, I want to focus on the most selfless and generous person I know. I want to learn from the way he served others, even those who betrayed him to his face the same day. Come to think of it, he served a bunch of dirty jerks (I’m interjecting a little, but what mother hasn’t felt this way…) on a day HE deserved honor and affection. The story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet at the Passover supper, a servant’s duty, really puts this into perspective for me. John 13 says:

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

12After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”

I’m just so drawn to his grace, and how he loves us anyway! He’s not waiting for us to get it all figured out first. He loves us while we are in the struggle, and while we are on the journey. He will never love us more than he does right now. I want to love and honor my children, my mama, my spiritual mothers, myself, and everyone else that way!

Taken

Unedited testimony, part 2…

I’m posting this mid-week in the hopes that this one will slide by unnoticed. ha! But before I go there, I think it’s important to say WHY I am getting more personal when it is obviously not comfortable for me.

  • You might want to read my very first posting called Comfortable? to see why this is not at all about my comfort level, or me.
  • I have dropped hints about what a train wreck my life was before Jesus stepped in and opened my eyes, but he deserves much more glory than that. I think that knowing where I was two years ago will shed new light on the radical transformation of my life. It definitely makes those first few postings even sweeter to me, written in the early days of my walk.
  • Something I have battled, and something I constantly hear sweet friends struggle with, is the feeling that I am not good enough to (insert whatever you are called to do here). Total lie!! Hopefully, if that is you, this post will cure you forever.
  • Finally, to honor and protect young and/or innocent ones, this will have many words in quotation marks. You can use your grossest imagination and you will probably not be far off.

I have struggled with “relationship addiction”. I mentioned in my last post that I used to have a habit of bouncing from one shallow relationship to the next, using my camouflaging skills where I would take on another’s lifestyle and build on it. That was not a joke. I reinvented my wardrobe with every relationship. I heard women wishing they had a boyfriend, and thought…???? How do you not have one?! I couldn’t imagine it! I would scan the room, pick one, and by the end of the second date we would be “a couple”. I was a master at finding a great partner to last 4-6 months, maybe longer, depending on what he brought to the table.

I was actually in one of these cycles when Jesus rescued me. Some strange combination of my intense gratitude to God for provision and protection (I have always loved God, just couldn’t believe the Jesus story) mixed with an off-handed comment that my new boyfriend wanted to find a church home piqued my curiosity. It was that tiny peek through the blinds of my heart that gave Jesus his entry point. When I stumbled upon Ephesians 2:8-9 (For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast), I was ecstatic! This faith I lacked was something I could ask for. I prayed for faith, and it came flooding in.

Sound easy? It was the easiest, and the hardest, thing ever. All I had to do was surrender my heart…the one thing I had managed to keep locked away my entire life.

I love the way he meets us where we are. The first place he started for me was to show me how much he loves me. I felt how precious every little bit of my body, mind, and soul is to him – treasured and adored even more tenderly than I had marveled over my own babies. I learned the jaw-dropping, astounding pleasure of hearing his voice.

Sometimes cold turkey is the only way to go. When I prayed for direction in this last relationship that was hanging by a thread, I opened straight to Matthew 19:11-12:

He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

Obviously not what I was looking for, so I kept looking…and landed in 1 Corinthians 7:8:

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. [i.e. SINGLE]

and a few verses down to 32:

I want you to be free from concern. … The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Geez, I got the message… we are going to spend some alone time together! I can’t tell you how funny it was when I did a double take and realized that he was calling me a eunuch! (I have allllwaaaaays been fascinated with eunuchs….) He definitely speaks to each of us in our own language and style – for me he is lovingly direct and straightforward, with a lot of humor thrown in. I don’t recommend random flipping to find God’s will for your life…but I think when we’re just learning to seek him, he is so pleased he makes things easy!

I will never forget the first morning I woke up reaching for him, completely free from loneliness, addiction, human co-dependency. Free because he had completely filled my heart. This was my first deliverance of many, which I may share at some point, but I wanted to start here because he’s been trying to take it a step further.

This weekend, I felt him say he really won’t like me better if/when I find a husband – he can’t like me more than he already does. He wants me to stop using other people to hide my insecurities behind. He wants me to stop believing that I’m missing something he needs or wants. I am what he is looking for, I am enough, just me!! He reminded me what a gift this time of undistracted devotion is. He is happy that I am his. I am happy that I am taken.

The Passion of Your Heart : Enter the Worship Circle: http://youtu.be/cyRB213zimI 

Invisibility Cloak

Psalm 91. The end.

I’ve been challenged to stop giving my edited testimony, so I will say more. This is not just my favorite Psalm, it is my story for the last 30 months.

I met God after a lifetime of finding my identity in who I was with. I bounced from one shallow friendship or relationship to the next…shallow because I wasn’t bringing much to the table. I was just camouflaging my way in to other lives.

When I met him, I had no church family. He found me where I was, in my home. He taught me truth and freedom here, in private. Oh man, it was ugly. Weeks and weeks of intense demolition and reconstruction. It was a quiet, brutal, but beautiful time, where he spoke LIFE to me and gently re-shaped my heart to its intended design.

For the first time in my life, I was not changing to impress a person I just met. I wanted truth and more of it! He transformed me into who I was created to be, my true self: pure with an uncompromising heart for him. Once that was established, he helped me find a church home for my little family. What a joy to see that others loved him as much as I did – I couldn’t believe it!

The protection over my life has been ridiculous. I have alluded to it before, but I want to really shout it out today. I am invisible! Seriously.

No, I have not just been given wisdom to make better boundaries and decisions for myself, although that is happening in the meantime. I have been truly invisible to certain people and opportunities that I would probably have jumped on given half a chance. I haven’t been on a date in over two years, and have fought hard not to take that personally. I have found myself craving premature recognition and promotion, or wanting to jump into my calling before I’m ready. He is teaching me patience and perspective, and to trust his timing.

In the last couple weeks it seems like my invisibility cloak is starting to wear thin. In these moments, it’s funny to see my wide-eyed, panicking new self yelling, “Where are you, Lord? Cover me!!” It’s really nice in his covering.

I’m so thankful for my consecrated time with him and, in hindsight, it’s easy to see why this invisible time was necessary. I am still a baby. We don’t expect or allow our children to jump into things they are not developmentally ready for. I love Psalm 91 because it is just so real for me. It perfectly describes my experience with his love and protection. I have treasured this time of being nurtured and raised by my Father. He is so good!!

Abbreviated Psalm 91:
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”