Monday, December 17, 2007

For Everything There is a Season

I enjoy reading Ecclesiastes. The more I read it, the more I become aware God wrote that for ME! Being a creature of habit, I like my continuity. I'm not so good with change and I like to know what I can depend on to be the same. I am routined. Boy, God has really shaken me up these past 4 years!
Over the last 4 years I have seen more change in my life than I have in my entire life span! We have made more friends; we have lost more friends (from death, from selfishness, from distance); we have had 3 children and getting ready to have #4; I have been of ill health; we have had more money and not-so-much money; we have moved 4 times (not all once a year); and we have gone through some of the best and worst times of our marriage. My faith on all levels has been tested, and quite honestly, there have been times I have failed the tests. But praise God, He doesn't fail me! Amen! I have been stretched and beat up more times than I ever thought possible- often times by those I loved the most. We have dwelled in the valley and longed for the mountain tops. But, through it all, it too has passed. This has been our season of change. I cannot say I have loved it- on the contrary; I have beat my chest, laid prostrate before my Lord, questioned His leading; wondered if He really does love me. All of this not because I thought I was above the trials life offered, but because I thought I had paid my dues already. My eyes have stared into the eyes of hell and I have seen Satan work his evil first hand. Coming out of that, I was for sure my God found me exempt of any other ill-workings of this fallen world. WRONG! I love that He gives us no more than we can handle. The question is, how long will we try to handle without Him?
When I was growing up, our pastor would end the message by saying. "God is good." and then the congregation would reply, "All the time." He would say, "All the time," and we would retort, "God is good." I think that gave some people the wrong impression. We were never meant to have easy lives. Jesus, God with skin on, didn't have an easy life. Why would we be above that? What we forget is our whole life is a season.
We were made to live forever, but our bodies gave out on us the day Adam took the fruit in disobedience. I love this next part... We are but passing through! If we could grasp that concept the way we live our lives would totally change! No more would we even be concerned how much our jeans cost. We wouldn't plague our hearts by allowing filth through what we watch or read because we are only here for a season! We don't have time for all of that!
I can not begin to explain the flack I get for being college educated and choosing to stay home with our children. And now that we are struggling to pay our bills (or it's more like we decide who is going to get paid this month and who will have to wait), the criticism and under-the-breath comments flow freely. But I know why. We are raising Jesus-lovers and warriors for the Word. It is no accident we have 3 boys! In such a time as this, we need men who have learned to love Jesus! Sadly, they don't do it naturally. Scripture is so clear that we are BORN evil- we don't have to learn it. That means in July, when I am nursing my sweet baby ?, I will not have to teach that child how to be bad. I won't have to give lessons on how to cheat, steal, lie, throw a temper tantrum, or be deceitful. No, no,no, that will already be the default mode. Knowing scripture is right when it says,

"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him" Proverbs 22:15 (and no, we don't beat our children with rods, we have a Mr. Spank).

I know it will take EVERYTHING I have to combat that. I must teach that while we are walking up the road. It must be seen as I interact with the cashier who is slow as molasses; my boys need to value life as we choose which bugs to kill and which ones we let out the door. I can't pursue those opportunities after working a 40 hour a week job. I personally can't do it working any job, but that goes back to the beginning of this blog when I said I'm not good for change. There are some women who can. Kudos for them! But I am pursuing my Master's because I know my children are teachable from me for only a season.
The day will come when they no longer will take my word for it. They will question and pull away from me; but it's our job to make sure they have been ingrained with the truth. It's our hope we can provide an obsequious passage to those they can run to who reinforce what we have taught them.
So, in this seemingly unending season of change for us, I hope I am brave enough to pick up the lessons He has laid out for me. I pray I do not get so side-tracked from things that are so unimportant I miss out on what truly is important.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him." Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9-14

Sunday, October 28, 2007


So many thoughts rage through my mind I feel as though I have been granted a new lease on life. I haven't had a near death experience (well, maybe), but these last few days we have been on a cruise. It was 4 days of total girl-time and rest. We did NOTHING but eat, sleep, and walk around a little. If you want more fun stuff, you'll have to go to the family blog (and you'll probably get sick of hearing about it); on this blog I will post what God taught me. It's amazing how cloudy things get when you're functioning on exhaustion. I had no idea how stressed out I truly was. I'll start with finishing where I left off with the whole being content vs. striving for perfection. You may not like where I go with this- feel free to offer you own insight as well.

Who are we to say what is perfection? God says to "..Be holy, for I am holy." We translate that to mean we are to be perfect- but that is not what it means. As a matter of fact, "holy" is actually translated more closely with being righteous- right before God- than perfect. One would argue that being right before God would mean perfection. Perhaps. That is not where I want to spend my time. My struggle I question is at what point do I become content?

My sweet friend sent me an article I found most helpful on the topic. Summarizing, the author pretty much said perfection is in the eye of the beholder- and so is being content. It can sound like circular reasoning if you stop on the surface. Without boring you with the philosophy of all of that, I will explain the way God summed it up to me over this last week.

I love my children and feel I have a healthy relationship with them; but I want it to be better. I don't want it to grow stagnant or become boring. I am always looking and reading articles on how I can spice things up with my crazy crew. I enjoy reading stuff that helps me relate to them- how can they understand me and how can I better to understand them?

I love my Savior and am amazed He chose me to tell His secrets to! Who am I that I should deserve such a blessing? I am always on the look out for how I am supposed to serving Him RIGHT NOW. There are some ways I like and some I don't, but I do them all to the best of my ability anyway.

I love my husband and wish he would fight for me the way he once did. Instead, he numbs his pain and frustration with sleep or his make believe online world where he can be whatever to whomever. I strive for perfection in my marriage and feel I have missed the mark (a.k.a. sinned) in so many ways I may end up losing one of the few things I prayed God would give me. Alas, it always takes two where a relationship is involved and I can no longer function alone. Here in lies the frustration.

No matter where we set the bar for ourselves, some one is always setting it higher. In all 3 of the above mentioned relationships, there is no such thing as being content. I believe I am to strive for perfection daily. The relationships are organic and constantly growing, therefore, constantly changing. I must change with them. That is why parenting seminars are so popular. Christian books are selling at an all-time high because people can't get enough of being "spiritual" (which, by the way, I don't believe is the same as being righteous). Relationship- help books are in constant demand because we all know you aren't married to the same person you originally married- nor is he married to the same woman. However, on the flip side of striving for perfection in areas of heart relationships, we must learn (oh yes, I said learn) to be content with where God has placed us in life.

We would have not related to any other than Paul when he encouraged to be content in all situations. For so long, I took that to mean we should settle for what we have in life. In a sense we are to do that. I will respectfully disagree with some of my dear brothers and sisters who believe in the ever-present "Prosperity Theology" being taught today. Seeing what I have seen and experiencing what I have experienced, I just don't believe you can look into the eyes of a 2 year old dying of AIDS (in this country or anywhere else) and tell her she must have enough faith for God to heal her if she wants to live. I don't believe we are all called to have worldly wealth. Have you ever tried to preach the gospel to a homeless man while driving in a Cadillac? Sometimes we have to go through it, be in it, and live it, to tell about it- and the way out of it. That's why it had to be Paul. Could you imagine if the Beloved John had tried to explain to us how it felt to be considered the "least?" We would say, "Yeah, right, Dude. You were at Jesus' side the whole time. He even gave you his mom at the cross." All of that to say, we must remember WHY we are even here and God didn't jerk us up at the instant of our salvation. We are to know Him and make Him known. We all relate to people on the level at which we are. You may not be able to empathize with a lonely, desperate mom of young children. But I can. I may not ever be able to speak to rulers or kings, but I know what it feels like to have an important utility cut off while you're at home with 3 babies. Someone needs to know there is light and it's not always at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, you get to the light and it gets worse. But the light is your hope.

So contentment is not man-made, but God-made. In that contentment we sometimes find who we really are and what we are really supposed to be doing. In the busy-ness of trying to be perfect, we lose sight of what is happening around us. We hurt our friends. We emotionally leave our spouses with no apologies. We set the level of perfection only to be fooled by another who is actually setting it for us. In the end, it's the people who need us the most who end up the hurting the most because we want more materially and settle for less emotionally.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Passing By

I'm still researching this conundrum of being content and striving for excellence at the same time. I will say, based on what I have found so far, I have been surprised at how ungodly we have become as a society. I should be finished with my research before I leave to go out of town this coming week. I fully intend to meditate in a great way on the high seas!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

This past week I have been thinking a lot about the difference between being content in all situations and settling for mediocrity. Where is the line drawn? I'm sure as I study, I will find the line is different for each individual. It seems as though I am surrounded by people who completely settle for mediocrity in every area of their life: friendships, education, home (not so much the kind of home but the way it's taken care of), even their relationship with Jesus. For my personal self, where do I learn to be content and where do I strive for excellence and be above mediocre. I'll come back to this at a later post after I's searched the Word a little more.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Flakey- Just Not Frosted

What a total flake I feel like I have been lately. There have been few commitments I have been able to keep and at times I feel like I am letting everyone down. There are days and times I think I just need to lock myself up in the house an not tell anyone I will do anything because I don't know from one day to the next what will be going on. Since I am the primary care-giver of the boys, if childcare does not work out I am the one who has to turn her back on whatever it was I was supposed to be doing. Or, if we have said we were going to be somewhere, and CJ "over rules" what we have pre-planned, guess who has to re-nig on her commitment.

I am sore about trying to get things going and then having to uproot. Leaving the 'ville is not the first time either. Just as we were beginning to warm up in Birmingham, we left there too. Granted, I wasn't as heart-broken, but nonetheless, it was a bit frustrating. It really makes me not want to try to go out and do things. Although, I feel like this time, CJ is forced to stay here in Columbia due to the hell we have been through in getting here. As I strive to be like the Proverbs 31 woman, I am surprised at how when I read about her, certain aspects of her life that stand out in different seasons of my life more than some of the others. Here is what is standing out these days:

1- All that she did was over her lifetime. I get so caught up with all that this woman did I forget it was not all at once. I was raised around women who made everyone think they could do it all. You know, "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up, serve it, and clean up after it's been eaten." The reality is something always suffers. We can do anything, but we can't do everything. Why do we feel, as women, we should be able to or have to do everything. For me, it's the fear of being labeled "lazy" or missing out on something. Sadly, my fear of missing out makes me miss out on what is truly important. It's about quality for me,not quantity. If I had 100 bad years to live versus 30 great, I wold choose the 30 great. Yet, we so often try to live the 100 bad. And instead of being lazy, I just get burned out. I have tried to learn over the last couple of years how important it is not not try to do everything. Of course, my physical health has not been the best. Three pregnancies in 3 years 2 of which were c-sections certainly helped solidify my limitations. Those days when I felt like I would die because my body was so tired, yeah, those are the days when you learn your limitations.

2- I love this woman laughs at days to come being clothed in strength and dignity. I don't see this woman as sarcastic or pompous. She just realizes what she can do has been done and everything is left up to God. In this age where we women take on so much responsibility, what a relief it would be to laugh at the days to come. We really don't allow our men to be the men God created them to be. We are afraid for them to fail. We are too controlling to allow them to be in control. And alas, they have been beaten down so much, they hand over the reigns willingly to our Jezebel spirits. Thus, we no longer laugh at those days to come but fear them. That isn't the way God created us to be! Don't get me wrong, I don't believe we are to go around and be totally oblivious to all the happenings around us or about the affairs of our home. However, we concern ourselves too much and carry too much of the load. Way more than God intended for us o carry. Does He not want us to carry it because we are too weak or unable? No way! On the contrary, we have a hidden strength. It's quiet and unweilding. He wants u free from that stress to bless us. He wants our hearts to be free to love Him. The way the proverb is structured and following the example of all the other proverbs, she laughs at the days to come because she is clothed with strength and dignity. Hmmm, that is sweet. I hope my strength and dignity can help me laugh at the days to come. I have a feeling I will need a great sense of humor.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Go west…

As far as Columbia, that is. It looks as though our next chapter in life is taking back where we started to Ole’ Cola-Town. After a silent retreat with just his tent and jug of water, CJ heard God speak to him and tell him to go to school. For those of you who may not know, CJ has a GI bill as well as a booster to go for school (which makes it a little shy of $50k). Although that is not why he joined the NAVY, it certainly is a plus. After 6 years of being out, he no longer doubts that is what he needs to do. He feels led to go into nursing (he was a corpsman) and capitalize on some of his skills already in place. Camping ministry has always been CJ’s first passion and wants some theology training as well. The only school we know of which happens to have a nursing degree coupled with Bible major (which is not the same as a “Religion” major) is Columbia International University (CIU). And wouldn’t you know it also has a minor in Outdoor Leadership which hones in on camping techniques specifically for the purpose of bringing one closer to God. Hmmmmmm. It looks like the flashing arrows are all pointing in that direction. As much as I HATE to move an hour and a half away from this town I’ve grown to love so (Btw, this is the longest CJ and I have lived in one place at one time since we’ve been married), God has spoken to my heart and, as gently as He does, stepped on my toes to remind me of some things.

Reminder #1: This is NOT my life. As much as we would all like it to be (I have Bon Jovi’s song “It’s My Life” reverberating in my head), we gave up our rights- as if we had them to begin with- when we submitted ourselves to Jesus. It doesn’t matter what we want or what our desires are. Our created purpose is to worship God. Anything outside of that is superfluous. Practically, that is done through being obedient with the gifts and talents He blesses us with. In this season of my life, it’s being a strong supportive wife and a protective mom who is clear minded, consistent, and competent in training her children in these short formative years. In a couple of years, I may be obedient through a different direction: maybe going to work full time or… The point is my life belongs completely to Jesus.

Reminder #2: Obedience is key. Everyone wants to be great and leave a legacy, but not all can set their pride aside to obey God’s leading. Abraham and Moses were considered great not because of their high integrity, great moral standing, or even their ability to do what was right (I mean, are you kidding me, have you done a character study on these two?). Alas, it was their simple obedience which God used to lead them into becoming our forefathers of faith. How much would our lives change if we instantly said, “Yes, Lord?”

Reminder #3: Faith is the evidence of things unseen. My husband has prided himself on being a provider. It is a noble and godly goal; but when it interferes with the life mission God gives, it becomes idolatry. Satan comes as an angel of light. He can certainly twist what began as good with good results and good intentions into his evil scheme with disastrous results- he is the master at it. So providing good things for your family is great; but when that provision keeps our men from doing what he was truly called to do, we should beware that our earthly longings aren’t leading others to salvation. We know God will provide and bless us as we press on toward what and where He has led us. So many needs have already been met. I’m excited to see how God works everything out to glorify Himself!

Stay tuned!