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.

Radical Obedience

In bible study this week, we learned that Jesus did nothing except in direct obedience to the Father and that he obeyed immediately.  And in church we are learning about, “Being Jesus”.

It made me think, what if I tried this for one day?  Like for one day I was 100% obedient to the Father in every moment?  What if I really, fully tried to be Jesus for one whole day, in ONE aspect of my life: obedience.  I tried it yesterday for only half a day and discovered something very precious.

It’s not about me.

What?  I figured I knew that already because I’ve heard it a thousand times, and just heard it in a sermon but apparently it’s never fully sunk in because I still find myself constantly fighting for my own way, “dying to myself” but sighing a looong pitiful self-indulgent sigh as I do it.

James 4

Submit Yourselves to God

“4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Here’s the challenge I put out to my bible study group and now to you too if you like: to be like Jesus for one day.

He did nothing except in direct obedience to the Father.

He obeyed immediately.

He obeyed fully.

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:10)

Two girls in my study totally took me up on it.  We are all going to pick one day next week and try it, then report back.

Here are the results from my half day:  Right away, God gave me the insight that it’s not about me and it wasn’t in the crappy feeling type of way, it was in the everything sits right now kind of way.  We were designed to be obedient to God.  As soon as I got in line with that mentality, snap did I feel better – that sounds absolutely the opposite of what you’d think, but I’m telling you I was happy – like way happy.  I was content.

It’s kinda like this picture of my oldest daughter.  When we trust God fully, when we give him 100% obedience, we let go of the tight grip we have on control, he can then toss us up in the air and when we keep our eyes on him the whole time, it’s totally fun – we’re not afraid of getting dropped, we know he will catch us every time, leaving us to yell, “more!  again!”  Our act of total obedience displays full trust in the Father.

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photo credit: Danny Montemayor Photography

But we have to let go of control for him to give us a good toss.

As soon as I decided it wasn’t about me, not much bothered me (and I have three little kids guys, they can do A LOT to bother a person;-)

Later, when Davin and I went on a date, my focus wasn’t about getting what I needed (talking time, connection) it was on, “Okay, God, you know my needs, I trust you to meet them in whatever form you like.”  Whaaat?  I was again so chill.  I think it might have been one of my favorite dates ever because I wasn’t trying to get what I needed out of it.  Later that night, we went to look at cars and the car guy had met Davin the week prior.  We all started talking and right away he starts sharing about his life and since I was so chill (trusting my Father) it didn’t bother me that it was a “date-night” and I normally wouldn’t want to be interrupted with other peoples lives, I instead enjoyed it.  He ends up sharing that he was raised Jewish and his wife a Unitarian, but that because we were cool people and really chill, and he wanted to know what church we went to, he was interested.  This guy was so rad!  We of course raved about our church and the teaching and community and gave him the website and maybe he and his wife will come with us on a Saturday.  How stoked was I after that?  So stoked!

So, that was a half a day.  I am going to strive towards this awesome feeling of, “it’s not about me” this whole week.  I am guessing I’ll screw it up somewhere, but hopefully, because of Christ in me, the hope of glory, I’ll get right back to it.  I seriously hope this insight and mentality stick with me, this is who I want to be.  I like being like Jesus.

So, maybe you’ll try it?  An entire day of obedience could look like almost anything: forgiving someone who’s wronged you, not holding a grudge, saying, “after you” in line, stopping your day to help a stranger, calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile – only God really knows what your day might look like, but I can assure you from experience, it is WAY more fun to live in 100% obedience than 50% or even 20%.

God is not a half way God, and neither is obedience.

Good luck and I can’t wait to hear about the cool things happen when you try it out.

Let’s do this guys!!!

As always, thanks for reading.