Growing


“Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Eph 4:26,27

Strong, but true words.

Josiah and I had a bit of a heated run in before bed time tonight.  We also had a beautiful time of reconciliation and these verses were flooding my mind.  I’m always amazed how the words of Scripture I am marinating on find ways of coming to life and incarnating themselves in my story.

Anger gives a foothold to the devil.  Wow, I’m sure tons has been written somewhere on this topic.  Think of what happens when you are angry.  For me, I start to create all sorts of false, over-exaggerated conclusions and judgments.  “He NEVER listens, We suck as parents, she is such a ****, I can’t stand him…” and so on and so on.  These thoughts may not last long, but they come and they whisper into our hearts and our minds.  Tell me those judgements and thoughts don’t give the devil a foothold to rob and divide.

Or what about our action in our anger.  “In your anger, do not sin”. What about the methods of control I try to use when I am angry, the manipulation or the unkind words.  Not only does that injure someone, giving the devil a foothold in their life for him to fester lies from the pain in their hearts,  but it also gives him a foothold in my life as I experience guilt and tell myself lies about my own personhood.

As Josiah and I sinned in our anger tonight we gave the devil an oppotunity to bring damage to our relationship and our souls.  I am thankful however, for the opportunity we had to reconcile, to forgive and to give our anger away before we shut our eyes on the day.  As we lay snuggling we each confessed our angry sins to one another and forgave each other.  I loved praying with my little boy for forgiveness and freedom from our sins.  I loved how sincere he was and how quickly and easily he wanted to re-connect with me.  What a picture of how quickly I should turn to God – desiring our connection to not be lost, and trusting his certain love for me.

I also love in these verses how it gives us something else to do with our mouths instead of sin in our anger.  Just as Tammy mentioned that these verses tell us instead of stealing, we should use our hands to make and give – they give an alternative to angry mouth sin as well.  Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them…Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

I just love how God doesn’t just say “Don’t” but how he also gives a replacement “Do“.

good. helpful. encouragment. kind. tenderhearted. forgiving.

It sucks to have heated moments with the loved ones in our lives, but it feels so good to love and be loved deeply enough to forgive one another, just as in fact we have been forgiven by God.

———————————-

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist
Take this mouth
So quick to criticize
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss



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And so it has begun, the count down to Christmas. Preparations are well under way for a Merry Christmas. I’m trying to choose a less stress, less expense, more Jesus holiday but it’s not always easiest to make these choices. It’s hard to turn down invitations, and fun oportunities. It’s hard not to get hyped up with the gift giving and shopping and I have to admit some guilt about my humble gifts for my family, and wonder if they will be apprciated. There is decorating to be done, baking, wrapping, meal preparations, Christmas cards, parties, parades …and the rest of the world still happens, bills to pay, cleaning to do, diapers to change, meals to make, kids to raise, not to mention my renos that need completing :).

Is this what ‘preparation’ is all about?

Silent Night…Holy Night…All is calm…All is bright…

As I reread Luke 2 I realize, no ‘special’ preparations were made for Jesus’ birth. They did as they were told and traveled to Bethlehem dispite Mary’s condition. Upon arrival there was no Inn booking (or maybe they were just over booked!) there was no plan. “While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Simple. One of the most important events in the story of mankind and it was retold in a few lines.

There weren’t  trays of baking awaiting the wise men in the freezer, she did not run around making party plans, instead “she treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” “Good news of great joy for all people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am into the Christmas parties, and fun, but I don’t want it to overshadow the true meaning of Christmas, I want to choose wisely so that I don’t get consumed. I want to carve out space for reflection and some fun with family and friends. I want to spend time pondering, and focusing on what Christmas really means. “Amen, come Lord Jesus.”

This is a hard post for me to write.  But growing is sometimes hard and I am wanting to share about God working so here goes…

I am a pretty prideful person.  I have always prided myself on being responsible, being self-sufficient, being a high achiever, being a ‘strong’ person.  From stuff like being a good employee, to having a clean house and always shoveling the driveway right after it snows, to being financially responsible, organized and efficient.

So fast forward to now.  I am pregnant and I have been quite sick this time.  (See I am even having a hard time writing this because I do not want to seem like I am fishing for pity and I know so many people have ordeals that they would LOVE to trade for this small bump now that will be so joyful later.)  Not that the first trimester with my other two kids were a walk in the park but this is something altogether different.  For about a month I was basically useless.  I was feeling so miserable and just wanting to be done with this already.  I was talking to a friend who has had it way worse than me as far as pregnancy sickness goes and she mentioned that the last pregnancy she prayed that she be refined by the sickness – that God somehow use it to change her.

At first I thought – This is such crap.  (I know how embarrassingly unhumble.) Why the heck would I have to go through this to grow somehow.  What good change in me could God be wanting to bring about from this??  This is only making me and my family miserable – I couldn’t see any reason for how this could be how God wanted to bring about any refinement in me.  (And again I know it is small potatoes compared to what others go through that must be feeling the same way only magnified.)  I am not taking proper care of my other kids, or being a partner to my husband who was basically having to do everything – work during the day, cook and clean when he got home, put the kids to bed.  Any other commitments I had were just let go.  I was just feeling a big heaping dose of self-pity for what I wasn’t able to be doing (and for not being able to keep holding up my idol of pride in myself).

So anyway my mother in law lovingly cooked a whole bunch meals for us and dropped them off to my husband.  A few friends also made us food.  Friends and family offered to help with the kids and help clean the house.  Friends I volunteer with had to pick up what I wasn’t doing and did so happily.  I had help (that I did not accept easily or gracefully but basically had lovingly forced on me) from so many people.  Yes, I had to (or in reality was so sick I didn’t put up a stink) swallow my pride.  My pride that I wasn’t cooking food for my family.  My pride that my house was messy and I couldn’t clean it.  My pride that my children were watching obscene amounts of television.  So yes, I started seeing refinement.  Started seeing that my pride can get in the way of accepting God’s care and love of me via other people.  I swallowed my pride more (this time with urging from the spirit but still not easily) and asked my small group for prayer – which was really hard when I know that people have so much more important prayer needs than this and because it was letting even more people know that I needed help.  Not all strong after all…

That’s when it became so clear.  This was not just a small deal about me swallowing my pride in myself a tiny bit or making a god of living such a responsible life.  Because being responsible, strong and self-sufficient are to some extent good things.  But not to any extent that they remove me from being totally dependant on God.  God wants me to rely on Him – living as if I only need to rely on myself in any area is SUCH a lie.  This is where my pride was being so harmful – it was separating me from God, His grace, His forgiveness, His comfort and His love.  It was stopping me from even seeing that I needed to repent of this.  Friends I am literally crying typing this.  Has it been hard – yes – and not just the sickness part, more the growing part – hard but so good in the end. As drawing closer to my Saviour always is.  Thank you God.

holy experience

Tammy drew my attention to Holy Experience (which I only sometimes read) and to the Wednesdays where she is focusing on reading the word.

She asks…how do you read the word? She invites comments.

What about us, here…how do you read the word? What are some of your ideas? What works for you? Where has your well been dry lately? What do you need to be encouraged? Please, if you are willing to…share your ideas and thoughts in our comments.

For me…it is so often about relationships or community. Matt and I try to follow a reading plan (and I do say TRY) that we purchased at Breakforth. He likes to do his reading in the morning and I like to do mine at night…but when we’ve read the same thing in the day, it brings forth natural conversation about what God was brewing in us through it.

Tonight I started a journal for the times I do, do readings and I am partly thinking of giving it to Eden when she is older. This is inspiring me to read and reflect on God’s word, hoping that one day she will treasure my thoughts on what God is stirring in my life.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with a hard day with two kids or a fight with Matt or just pure lack of desire to read. Sometimes I have a lot of things to do around the house and just can’t don’t find the time to dig into God’s words.

Sometimes I feel sucky at this, other times I feel so entranced by the lover of my soul that I can’t wait to sit down and hear his voice.  Other times I just do it because I should do it and hope something good comes out of it.

What about you?

Tonight I read this and felt encouraged… “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the King of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us fight our battles for us! Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.” 2 Chron 32:7-8

I am encouraged to press on to pray, to read, to move forward… for there is a power far greater on our side.

I don’t like paperwork at the best of times, and now there’s this pesky little question about ‘occupation’ that seems to make me pause. For some reason lately I find this awkward, and don’t really know what to put. Before kids I knew my occupation, much of my time, and energy went into that role each and everyday. But as of last year I no longer have that role or title. It’s been an adjustment. I love my role as mom, but don’t consider it an ‘occupation’. What defines us as people? Is it what we do? Is it what we have? Is it who we know? For the past few years, when meeting people, I don’t ask that standard question “what do you do?” Only later or if it comes up do I ask. I just feel it’s not relevant. I want people to know I am interested in them and not what they do. However, sometimes when it gets awkward that little question seems to pop out.

Last weekend I rented a total chick flick as hubby was working a night shift. It was called ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’. I rented it without really thinking what it was about, it met 2 of my criteria for a sappy movie, must be one of the top 10 rentals, and be a chick flick with the words ‘romantic comedy’ or the like on the box. It wasn’t until I came home and realized I probably rented a movie all about shopping…consumerism..that I had to laugh at myself. It’s hard enough trying not to be a consumer, then I go and rent a movie about chronic shopping! But it actually had a pretty good message.  One touching part in particular really got me thinking. I don’t want to give anything away…but…in this scene the father is offering to give up an expensive item to help  his daughter. She replies back that he couldn’t do that, that the item ‘defined’ him. Which the dad responded that no item defines him, rather his relationship with his daughter and mother defines him.

It’s not my occupation which defines me, which is what the general consensus is in our culture. It’s not what I ‘do’, such as how I parent, how I express my faith, how I respond to people, places or things. It’s my relationships which define me: Child of God, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. It’s ‘being’ which defines me. In that I can feel secure. I will always be those things. No one can take those roles away from me.

Now I can be proud to write ‘none’ in occupation, being glad that the fact I can do that allows for more time with what really defines me.may 2009 harley 451

1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

1 John 3:1

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Abba, restore me, take my pain, my angst, my selfishness, my wrong doings and clean me.

Give me a pure heart that I might see you more clearly.

Jesus, restore my brokeness. Make me whole.

Stir up new life within me.

Cause me to grow, to thrive. Amen.

This past week I have been contemplating this word ‘restoration’. I long to have God restore me. Lately I have felt heavy laden, burdened, tired, and worn out. I physically wish I could throw off the old self and emerge as a beautiful new creation. It’s only fitting that spring is here. There are buds on the trees and new growth all around me. I feel a sense of renewal, of freedom.  Thank you Jesus for new beginnings, today is a new day. What will you do with your new day?

My 2 yr old daughter sang me these words today “it’s a beautiful day, it’s a beautiful day!” Out of the mouths of babes…she is right it is a beautiful day.

toothpaste2We’ve had this ongoing battle with Grace  about eating the toothpaste. I suppose I can’t blame her as it tastes like green apple. Since it’s all natural I’m sure it won’t hurt her, but it’s an expensive tube of candy!

The other day I caught my dear daughter with the tube in her mouth yet again. I calmly reminded her that she was not to eat toothpaste and asked her to put it down. I wish I had had a video camera in hand because you could see the struggle on her face. I can only imagine what was going on in her mind: “mmmm this toothpaste is really yummy, I really don’t want to put it down, but there’s mommy asking me not to eat it, why would she not want me to eat this really yummy treat?! How could is possibly be bad for me when it tastes so good?! But she is mommy, I want to listen but I really want to keep eating delicious tooth paste! Nummy nummy in my tummy.”

I couldn’t help but laugh and reflect on my own struggles when I am tempted. Times I knew God was saying “my child, don’t go there” but I desperately desired it. I was so glad that my heart was open to my daughter and could understand her battle.

Are you wondering what Grace did with the toothpaste? Ahh I think I’ll leave that part out. What do you do when you are faced with a tempting situation? In what situations is God saying “please put that down, it’s no good for you”? It’s something I need to contemplate more often. Sometimes His voice is so clear, other times it is overshadowed by my own voices. Voices that justify. Voices that soothe. Voices that only think of myself. God has much better plans for me, plans that far exceed what is best for me and those around me. Father lead me.

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