Red Solo Cup

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Today I write out of obedience.

I’ve felt the Lord call me to sit down and write over the past few days.  I think not because I really have anything to offer, but perhaps because he wants to speak to me.  And sadly, sometimes the only way to get me to listen is to give me inspiration to write.  You all probably thought I was writing this blog to inspire you and partner with you in our walks of life, and I do LOVE sharing life with you, but honestly, I’m learning so much in the process.

Three days ago, a super quiet nudge.  “Write.”

“I can’t.  The babies room isn’t done yet, and I have to sort through all those bins of baby clothes.”

Two days ago, “Sit down and write.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, do you see the amount of work to be done here?  I’ll write after everything is done, that’s my FUN hobby.  No time for fun.  Besides, that’s probably not even you saying, “Write”, it’s probably my inner self or something I ate because writing right now seems absurd.”

Yesterday, a pretty clear, “Write.”

“I need to just finish all these chores, have you SEEN our kitchen floor?!?  It has transformed into the bottom of  a hamster cage.”

This morning, while attempting to put fresh sheets on the kid’s beds, and finish their laundry with a to-do list still fairly long (the baby’s coming after all!) I hear the Lord say to me a quiet yet interrupting, “Write.”

“I’m literally in the middle of putting sheets on my son’s bed.  Just let me finish all the kid’s beds, then make a grocery list, go grocery shopping, get the kids from school, take them to the doctors for their booster shot, feed the kids lunch, clean up, unload groceries, clean the fridge, wipe down the cupboards, fold all the kid’s laundry and then if there’s time put on some makeup to get ready for a birthday date tonight, I’ll do that, AND THEN, if there’s any time left, and no one needs anything from me, then I will write.  So Lord, maybe in a different season of life, like when all my kids are all in college.”

A quiet response, “Write.”

“Have you seen our fruit bowl?  It has two lemons in it… that’s all.  We’re bare-bones’n it over here.”

“Write, I have something to say to you.”

“Don’t make me cry God, you know how it cuts right to my heart that you’d actually speak to me, and have anything to say, especially when I feel ZERO percent inspired to type a thing.”

“I will speak to you, write.”

“Okay, I’ll go against the very grain of my being and leave these un-done sheets right here on the bed, as an offering of obedience.”  That part was physically painful, I didn’t know whether to cover them up with the comforter or just leave it all.  I just left it, it looked miserable.  I had to walk out of the room with my eyes closed.  I gave my littlest a snack and put on an educational show.  “I’ll give you thirty minutes, even though I really should be making  a grocery list.  I’m going to have to trust you on this one, and let go of my perfectionist desires to power through my to-do list… I will stop for you.”

If you’d had the ability to be around me any amount of time in the past few weeks, you’d see that the countdown to baby arrival has put me into task mode 2013.  That’s when I started writing this blog, and the Lord showed me the hot dog stand word picture, gently reminding me that this life isn’t about perfection, best efforts and a to-do list, it’s about the gentle rhythms of the Holy Spirit and not stressing about little stuff that doesn’t matter.  It’s about truly living each day with him by my side, not pushed to the side.

I’ve made progress, I really have (insert convincing voice to myself).  But I clearly haven’t learned to fully resist the temptation of a thick to-do list and shiny stars of accomplishment over obedience to the quiet voice of the Lord.

Dang.

And it’s not even good for me.  God’s ways are SO good for me, and when I hear his voice to slow down and chill, and I ignore it (because it’s gentle and quiet), I get more and more wound up, and then eventually I snap.  And the snap is never ever pretty.  It usually involves me wearing a grouchy face, my oldest daughter saying to me, “Mommy, I don’t like the sound of your voice.” and my husband giving me that look, like I need to be sent out of the house for a few hours… to release the Kraken somewhere else.  At worst, it involves tears and yelling about why life has to be so stinkin’ hard.

Maybe the Lord is trying to teach me that It doesn’t have to be THAT hard.

Circumstances don’t actually make us happy or unhappy.  The bible clearly says that joy can be found in any and all circumstances, the easy and fun, the miserable and challenging.  We are offered joy, but it’s a choice.  And not the simple kind like, “yea, I think I’ll have an iced tea.”  It’s a painful choice of self-surrender.  It is no simple and done, easy choice.  We have to choose joy.

And when I actually make that tough choice to walk with the Lord and listen to his voice, even when things are a challenge, I don’t stress.  It’s amazing, like non-human awesome.

But the trick is, I have to listen.  I have to actually lean into the Lord.  I have to be IN the Word, GO to him in prayer, seek him and ask him to be near.  It doesn’t just magically happen because I’m a Christian, and a mostly nice person and think Jesus died on the cross for my sins. It’s all choosing.

I have to intentionally seek him.

Still.

Even though I’ve sought him before, read the bible before and prayed before, and had amazing moments of deep inspiration and worship with Jesus before.

Each day is a new day that I desperately need to deliberately seek him.

It doesn’t just happen.

I once asked God about this, saying, “If I know you and I believe in you, how come I can only last a few days on my own?  It’s pathetic.”  He showed me this word picture of a red solo cup, with a few holes poked on the bottom.  Here’s the message I took from it.  It was like the Lord was saying, this is you, your cup is full because you’ve met with me, but after a few days it’s drained and empty again.  You need a refill.  You can’t last long without checking in with me, because you have holes in your cup.  You aren’t designed to just hold stagnant water.  You are designed to use what I pour into you, for yourself and for others.  I pour it in, you pour it out, repeat. You are not self sufficient.

I have to go to him when I’m empty, and probably shouldn’t be all too surprised by that since that is how he designed me; to be in a relationship with God.

He doesn’t force me to action either like my toddler does at seven 6:23 am in the morning, yelling from the bathroom, “MOMMY!!!  I’M AWAKE!!!!!!  I WENT POOP IN THE TOILET!!!!” (any dear parent of a newly potty-trained kid knows one now has to RUN to the toilet in hopes that the arrival was swift enough to save the floor/bathroom/house/world from any… thing messy (ahem).

No, no dramatic urgency, forcing me to run.  He’s just there, waiting for me, when I’m ready to talk to him.  Waiting for me to ask for some more of Him.

And sometimes it’s so easy to think I can do it on my own, and just ignore the re-fill aspect of our relationship.  I think I’m the water source, and am always quickly shocked at how dry my own well is.  I just want to do it on my own, but at the same time I want God helping me, so why the double-mindedness?

Makes me question who the fake mob-bosses are in my life, and why I let them run and schedule my day instead of doing what I know I should.  I think I’ve named them “pretend-righteous obligations, and they are big and have fake guns.”

And where are they rooted?  In fear?  In desire for approval from others?  In the fear of failure, disappointing others, being useless, not being worthy of love.

There we are.  Not worthy of love.

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt unworthy of Christ’s love, showers of blessing and just being in his general presence, but I have.

I think the Lord is trying to present a truth to me that my heart currently has no space for, because I have filled its spot with a fake mob-boss lie.

The truth is, “I am valuable, because Christ loves me.”  That’s it.  That’s where all of my identity should come from.

The lie I believe is, “I am valuable because I accomplish things for Christ and others.  I am a valuable member of this world because I contribute and work hard, and get things done.  I EARN this love.”

How, oh how do I root out this lie?  It’s thick on me like a tough jerky or the bark on a tree.  It covers me and shapes me, but what if that’s not the way God wants my tree to look?  When he peels of the bark of lies, I’m just there, exposed for what I am… it’s like uncomfortable.

But what if it could be beautiful?

The uncomfortable truth is that I have value, simply because Christ loves me.  That’s what the bible says.

That is beautiful indeed.

My value rests solely on the truth that HE LOVES ME, and that’s it.  He puts his arm around me in a big crowd and says, “THIS, this is MY girl.”  And even if others look on and say to themselves, “why would he choose HER?  Look at that scraggly hair, bad manners and she’s not even wearing shoes!”  Jesus is none-the-less proud of me, because HE sees me as made new, even when the enemy or the world doesn’t.  And as we walk together I begin to see that I look more and more like Christ, (Galatians 3, highlight on vs. 27) perhaps he gives me shoes, and I actually choose to wear them.  Maybe comb my hair.  You get the idea.

The truth is, we all come to Jesus looking a little (or a lot) scraggled (Romans 3:9-31).  The bible tells us that.  But once we come to him, we are made new, and beautiful, and the temptation is real to feel out of place, to go back to seeing ourselves like the scraggled kid and try to work so hard for the love we’ve already been given.

Instead, we need to look into the mirror or faith to remember our value.

Thankfully, he is gracious and doesn’t hold it against me that I try to find value all by myself. He just waits for me to remember to go to him.  And even though I come to him dry as a bone, he manages to fill my cup right back up to the top, and within moments I’m left full of life, hope and love for others again.  It’s like taking a nap and waking up refreshed, only better.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mother’s Day

IMG_8127This afternoon, I was folding my son’s laundry.  He and his sister Dani just turned five this past week.  We typically use birthdays as an opportunity to give them the next season of clothes as gifts, since it lines up well.  After I had finished washing his old clothes from this week, mixed in with his new ones I started to get sentimental.  The old Thomas the Train shirt is getting a little small as well as faded blue Lightining McQueen.

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Is it strange that I’m trying to savor and hold on to the days where my son would rather wear a cartoon character on his shirt than something a little more grown up?  When his bright red hand-me-down Mickey Mouse sweatshirt is the number one pick in his closet?  I know the days are coming, when he wouldn’t want to be seen in a Lightening McQueen, and that’s fine, I’m sure I’ll love and adore him just as much then as I do now.  However, I’m sensing that this phase is passing and short, and just so sweet.  I’m not quite ready to give it up yet – and thankfully I don’t have to.

The fact that he picked out all superhero t-shirts, especially the over-the-top Superman one with a cape, tells me he is still my little boy.

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The new lineup, a little bit more grown up, but not too much.
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The cape… I’m thinking this should NOT be worn to school, I’m concerned it may introduce a little TOO much superhero spirit into class.

I see him growing and changing into a mature young man by the questions he asks, but his zest for life and fun is still ever present and dominant.

I can still hear his giggle and laughter in my mind as he was chasing his daddy and sister through the halls before nap time.  After lunch, my husband picked up our youngest, Ellie who’s three and ran around the house, hiding from the older two.  Ellie cries if Davin doesn’t carry her, because she’s not fast enough to ever catch him.  So, he carries her even though she slows him down and gives away all his hiding places by yelling, “I”M RIGHT HERE!!!!”  The older two laugh and run and giggle as they attempt to chase down Daddy and Ellie.

Maybe it’s because we think we are having our last child in a few weeks, and we know it’s a girl which means none of Eli’s old clothes will be worn again in our house.

Maybe it’s because I know that I’ll never get these moments back, because even IF we had another little boy, he wouldn’t be my Eli.  He would be his own little person.

God has created something special between a boy and his Mama.  Eli holds a unique piece of my heart that no one else has, and it’s been that way since he was a tiny squishy baby.

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Seriously? Does it get any more adorable than this?

We get each other.  He reads me well and and I can understand him.  It’s just so easy most of the time for the two of us to get along.

I can wrestle him and tickle him, push him over and fake punch him in ways I’d never do to the girls.  He’s rough and rowdy, but also so very deep and insightful.  Over the past few days he’s asked me different questions that have me thinking he’s going a lot deeper in his mind than super hero t-shirts and games of chase.

“God made the world, and everything in it, and us, but who made God?”

As I pondered how to answer this question in a way that a five year old would understand, I had a hard time concentrating because I was so amazed that he even thought to ask that question.  To be fair, Dani asks equally as astounding questions, but since I’m getting sappy over Eli, we’ll keep the topic on him this time.

I had to go with scripture, hoping God would fill in any gaps.  “Well buddy, the bible just says that God always was, always is and always will be.  Kinda crazy right?  It’s hard for us to understand, because everything in our world right now has a beginning and an end.  But not God.”

He nodded and thought it through.  It seemed to satisfy his theology for the moment.  He’s just now five and he seems to be reaching beyond his years in reasoning and questions.

He’s always listening to the conversations between Davin and I.  We’ve had to start spelling things, if we don’t want him to know or ask any leading questions.

Often, Eli will come up and start helping me with whatever task I am working at if he wants to hang out.  Or if he picks up on the fact that I’m getting drained, he comes in and says, “What can I do to help you Mama?”   His peppy little spirit usually helps me pick it back up and finish the job with a smile.

I’m not saying I’m the only mother in the world with amazing kids, I’m just saying that I’m amazed God would love me so much, to give me such a sweet, intelligent, and capable little son like Eli.  I have my girls and could and I’m sure will write entire blogs about them as well, but for some reason, this Mother’s Day, my little boy has come to the forefront of my mind, and I’m just so grateful for him and that he’s still mostly in the superhero t-shirt stage of life.

Maybe it’s because he’s so much like his daddy, and I love his daddy.

Maybe it’s because he’s hilarious and loves to enjoy life and he’s organized and methodical in his leadership skills;-)

Maybe it’s because I see him take care of his sisters even when they play, making sure everyone has a fort built for them, everyone has the pillow for sliding down the grass, and everyone is included and has what they need.  I watch this leadership in a five year old boy and wonder where the Lord will place him one day.

I pray for his wife.  That she adores him and loves him and is beautiful inside and out.  That she loves Jesus deeply and prays for her husband daily.  That when they get married and she gets to be the one to kiss him goodnight, that he feels loved, cared for beyond grateful have his best friend by his side.  I know those beautiful days will come, and I hope for now, as I get to be his Mama growing up, that I  can set an example of the kind of woman he will search for and find one day.  The way I treat him now will be the way he’s accustomed to being treated by a woman as an adult, and I want him to strike GOLD in his wife, because he is gold, (gold that is being refined in the Father’s fire, but gold nonetheless.)

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My little dude.
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Giving his sweet little friend the drivers seat… even if she’s too tiny to take them anywhere;-)
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Hanging with the girls.
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Entertaining his little cousin.
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Teaching Ellie how to “fix a bike” and letting her help.
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Loves his papa AND motorcycles.
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Not only did he offer to do all the breakfast dishes, but he then trained Ellie in proper loading technique.

It’s normal for a Mama to think she has one of the best son’s in the world right?

As always, thanks for reading.