Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Moment

Everyone has one of those moments. A moment that defines your life: “Before Mom died…”; “After I found out I had cancer…”; Before the house fire…”. It is a moment that splits your life in two. Before…and after.

My moment…I was a Christian, 22 years old, single, almost finished with college, and 5 ½ months pregnant. My on-again, off-again boyfriend had just left for what I knew would be the last time. It was over. I sat on my parents’ couch in the quickly-fading evening light and cried out to God. It wasn’t a “help me, Lord” prayer. It was “I DON’T WANT TO DO IT THIS WAY!!! THIS IS SO UNFAIR! WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME DO THIS WITHOUT HIM? YOU COULD CHANGE THINGS IF YOU REALLY WANTED TO!” Even now, I can hear my hoarse, tear-soaked voice screaming in an empty house. I was a Christian. I had gone before my church and asked forgiveness of my sins (notice I did not say repented because that implies a turning away from sin). I had asked God to make that relationship work. And there I sat. Alone. Angry. Completely unable to turn the tide of what my life was now.

The next couple of months were excruciating. Sometimes it took all my strength just to get up in the morning. I learned what true repentance was. I read about David and could almost hear him as he cried: 

“Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
   Scrub away my guilt,
      soak out my sins in your laundry.
   I know how bad I've been;
      my sins are staring me down.
 You're the One I've violated, and you've seen
      it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
   You have all the facts before you;
      whatever you decide about me is fair.
   I've been out of step with you for a long time,
      in the wrong since before I was born.
   What you're after is truth from the inside out.
      Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.”  Psalm 51: 1-6 (The Message translation)

I learned was it was like to be totally dependent on God just to put one foot in front of the other. I would leave my room ready to face the day, only to end up back face down on my bed in a puddle of tears half an hour later. Slowly, I began to feel alive again. When Caleb was born in March, just shy of 4 months since my world changed, I glimpsed a pure picture of true grace and sweet mercy. Here was this beautiful, perfect being given to me…ME?! I, who deserved death, who deserved punishment, guilty of turning my back on God, rightfully accused by my very own hand; God was placing into my arms this precious gift? It is the single most humbling, undeserving moment I have ever experienced. It was truly unmerited favor from the Creator of the universe

Don’t get me wrong. It was not all peaches and cream. I was a single parent with a full time job. I was up every night with ear infections, 3am feedings, catching up on chores not done during the day. But looking back, I see God carrying me every step. He gave me wonderful parents and sweet siblings who bent over backwards to help. He gave me a devoted grandmother who asked if she could be an honorary grandmother (instead of a great-grandmother) in place of the one who was missing in Caleb’s life. He gave me a loving aunt and uncle who thought the world revolved around Caleb from the moment they saw him. I had extended family, friends, church family. With all of these blessings, I finished college and provided for Caleb everything he needed and so much more. I was able to counsel several unwed, pregnant young women in my job as an OB-GYN office manager. I could look them straight in the eye and tell them that they could do it, that I knew what they were going through. And I could tell them about the One who had carried me.

Fast forward 4 years as I repeated wedding vows to one of my best friends in the world. Caleb had a dad. I had a Christian husband. I had a new stepson. A year and half later, I would have a new baby daughter. My cup truly runneth over. So why did God save me? Why did he bless me as He did? Why didn’t He work things out the way I had planned? Why didn’t He crush me with His righteous anger as I deserved? Simple, yet so very complex. So He would be glorified. A song by Jeremy Camp says, “We will overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, everyone overcome.” (“Overcome”, 2010). Only by the blood of the Lamb, that allowed me to have this testimony, am I able to sit here victorious. I didn’t get to this point in my life by pulling myself up by my bootstraps. I didn’t pick myself up, dust myself off, grit my teeth, or any other inspiring phrase you care to insert. I fell. I crawled. I begged for mercy. And my Lord gave it.

No matter where you are in your life, by your own hand or by circumstances around you, God is bigger than your situation. God will be glorified. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Yes, we are still here.

I am beginning to see a pattern here. I will blog faithfully for a while, then I will seem to drop off the face of the blogger world. As least this time I have a pretty good excuse. We have gone through some pretty big changes over the last two months.

First of all, we have moved. Long story short, the Lord in his wisdom has provided us with more affordable accomodations. When we prayed for God to intervene, we never expected that He would direct us to move. We are very blessed to have only moved a VERY short distance and we are now even closer to family. Isn't God good?

Secondly, new jobs are all around. Dewayne began a new job where he is going to have opportunities he has never had. I have also begun working from home. This was not a decision we took lightly. My call to homeschool is first and foremost for our family. But we have prayed for quite some time that if I was supposed to supplement our income in any way, that the answer would be very clear. What a great blessing this new job has been in this short time! We are wrapping up school for the year, so I should be able to focus on working a little more this summer hopefully to be in a routine that will seamlessly transition into a new school year. The extra income will really help as we work to get some old debt (and newer debt!) paid down. I pray that it will last as long as God sees fit.

Lastly, we are going in fifty gillion directions at once and it is hard to find time to spend time together as a family. The new jobs, new service opportunities, new responsibilties...the list goes on. But I am so incredibly blessed with my wonderful husband and children. Although having a family leaves me exhausted most days, it also leaves me joyful. Most of all, I am grateful for my heavenly Father who gives generously to meet His children's needs.

May God bless and keep you today.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Branch

Last week was really challenging for me. We are going through some things that caused me to sigh loudly proclaiming, "What's the use?" Without going into great detail, I struggled with financial issues, physical exhaustion, inferiority, discipline issues with the children, feelings of hopeless, lack of direction in my homeschool, a messy and unorganized house, physical ailments, and the inability to get a good night's sleep for the majority of the week. That's just what I can think of off the top of my head. I really struggled with finding time to spend with the Lord.

I was feeling really downtrodden and overwhelmed, trying to put my finger on the source of my discontentment. All of sudden, I realized that I had not made time with the Lord a priority for the last week or so. At this point, I would love to say that I immediately bowed my head and asked God to help me get reconnected with Him. However, being in my current state of mind, I got a little miffed. I mean, shouldn't God allow some "wiggle room"? Why, after only a week or so of not spending daily time with Him, was my life feeling like a downward spiral? Shouldn't He give us at least a couple of weeks, maybe three before allowing us to feel like we had been run over by a truck?

That's when God gently placed a scripture in my heart, even when I was not seeking guidance from His word. I was reminded of when Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15: 4-5 NASB) How long can a branch survive when it becomes detached from the tree? It begins dying immediately. Oh, it can stay green for a while. It can put on a good front just lying there all alone. But slowly, subtly it begins to die. The leaves begin to wilt and brown. Eventually they curl and become brittle, detaching themselves from the branch with the slighest breeze. Before long, the branch itself dries completely, good for nothing else but being tossed into the fire.

So it goes with our Christian life. The moment we detach ourselves from the Vine, our spiritual lives begin to die. We can fake it for a while, pretending things are okay and we have all the answers. But eventually, we begin to wilt and become brittle. Given enough time, our spiritual life can become so dry it is consumed by the trials of this world. Unlike the branches of the vine, we have the ability to reconnect ourselves to the source of our strength. We have the potential to begin thriving again in the life-giving relationship we have with our Creator. Let me encourage you today to stay connected to the Vine through the study of God's word and prayer. Even one day separated from our tree of Life is too long.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Interview with the Author

Have you ever been reading a book or magazine article and wished you could talk with the author? You think you know what the intended message is, but you would love to ask them just to be sure. I can think of a few authors I would love to chat with just to glean from their knowledge a little deeper. Or in my case, as a homeschool mom, I would love to have the author explain the concept just a little more.

This happened to me recently as Caleb was completing his Latin lesson. He has the DVD’s so I confess that I have not been standing in front of him every week learning along with him. He is making good grades on the quizzes and tests, so I have allowed him to take that subject and run. After all, this is his second year. This arrangement works great until he has a question. When he asked me about derivatives and declensions, I was a little confused. Now, I did figure it out eventually, but it took a little while. During the searching and reading, I thought about how nice it would be if the author of this little course were standing here in front of me to guide me along. But that never happens. We are left to take the written word and interpret to the best of our ability.

How blessed we are not to have that burden when it comes to our Jesus! He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). This means that He helped to write the plan of our salvation as one of the Godhead trinity. And he perfected it by coming to earth as a man and living a sinless and holy life unto God. He wrote the book, lived the book, and now, through his Holy Spirit, teaches the book. We do not have to wonder. We do not have to fret. We can talk with the author and we can do it anytime we need! What a privilege to have the hand that penned the Holy Bible wipe away our tears and lead us in the way we should go. Glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit from whom all blessings flow!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

We have been crazy busy the last couple of weeks. Have you ever had those really busy times? For those of you who do not know, Dewayne's mom had a car accident early last week. She escaped with no life threatening injuries, but has a broken ankle that will require surgery next week. Their van was totaled, so that has left them with no car and no way to drive even if they had a car (because of the broken ankle). This has been quite an adjustment for a mom who is usually on the go constantly. It has also been an adjustment for Dewayne and I because we have assumed the errands and transportation for his parents. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to serve because I think it has brought us closer to his parents just in the last week and a half. But because we are on the road a lot (not just with that, but with our regular stuff, too), it is hard to find time to get everything done around here. We are slowly developing a routine, but that takes time for me to reroute my brain synapses to do things differently.

Between schooling, cooking, cleaning, running here and there, activities, and a few more social engagements than normal, I sit down at night and wonder where the day went. There are a few things that cannot be changed no matter how busy I get. I am thankful to say that over the past six months to a year I have developed a morning Bible study habit that leaves a void if I miss it. I have tried to develop that habit for years, but to no avail. Then, all of a sudden, I decided to pray about it. Duh! What an awesome God we have to not just give us commands, but also the priviledge to ask His help when we are trying to follow them. He has placed a desire in my heart for His word and when I miss that time with Him, I feel it! I am not naive enough to believe that I could NEVER fall into the habit of no quiet time ever again, but I have learned so much about "dying daily" (as Paul said) to self. I constantly put my Bible study time before the Lord, asking Him to protect it and help me to put it first in my day. I cannot do it alone in my own power.

In addition to my time with the Lord, there are a few more things that I try to find time for everyday, no matter how busy I get:
  • Kissing my husband
  • Hugging my kids
  • Having a Dr. Pepper (it was hard not to put this one at the top of the list)
  • Watching at least one Andy Griffith Show(see why...click)
  • Checking my email (most days, anyway)

Notice that any form of cleaning and/or chores made it to my list. This could be why my house is in a state of disarry as I type. SIGH! I guess I need to get off here and make in dent in the laundry or the dishes. Now which one is in a more desperate state? Too close to call...

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Leave it to Beaver

Yesterday morning we were all getting ready for a day of errands when I looked outside to see some poor animal lying near the road. We live on a major highway, so we learn to watch our pets and make sure they do not play close to the traffic. But this animal looked different. It didn't look like a dog or cat, so Dewayne went to investigate. Lo and behold, it was a beaver! This was surprising because I did not know that we had beavers around here. Anyway, it was lying in peaceful eternal rest with no major visible traumatic injuries. The kids saw it and asked what it was, so we told them. As we were pulling out of the drive, Hannah lamented, "Poor beaver!"

Well, this afternoon we were in the van again heading to my mom and dad's for a few minutes to visit. Out of nowhere, Hannah yells, "Mama, the beaver is gone!" We looked and sure enough, no beaver. Now where would a medium sized beaver disappear to? Hannah knew the answer right off the bat. She proclaimed, "JESUS HEALED HIM! HE'S ALIVE!!"

Anyone ever found scripture where Jesus healed the sick, the lame, and the roadkill? Me either!

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Young Men, part Two

So here is the continued story from Wednesday night...if you did not read part one, click here.

After Caleb left the Worship rotation, Garth's group was next to come in. This group of 2nd and 3rd graders seemed to be more subdued than ever before. They had just come from the Wiggle rotation (fun and games) and they were tired and sweaty. I elected to have them sit down for a few minutes and listen to a couple of new songs while they rested up.


These songs are really catchy and they have movements built into them that we can watch on the dvd. Last term , the songs and routines we learned were put into a musical that the kids performed for their friends and family. We are working toward the same goal this term, so the kids really enjoy learning the routine.


We listened to two songs and I asked the kids if they were ready to get up and begin our routine. They asked to rest for one more song (they were REALLY run hard during the the Wiggle time!). I pushed play on the only song that was repeated from last year. It is a fast paced song that allows a lot of "free" dancing. That is, there is no "set" routine, just a lot of dancing as you feel. The kids LOVED that song last year and I was really glad it was included again this time.


I must interject here the sad reality that neither of my guys necessarily have the gene that allows them to have natural ability to dance. There are those people who seem to have the "rhythm" so to speak and look good simply by keeping the beat with a song. My guys are not like that. They have a lot of heart, but the God-given ability to groove was not one of their blessings.


I saw Garth's face when the first strains of the song began to play. He said, "This is one of my favorites!". He glaced around him, sure that other kids would love this song so much, they would leap to their feet and let the dance moves fly. When they didn't, he could hardly contain himself. Something in his brain was telling him that if no one else got up to dance, he really shouldn't either. Everyone else was sitting and he should follow suit. What else could he do, right?


Garth's love for these songs go much deeper than just loving the beat. This particular song talks about getting the Bible into every aspect of your life. It says "I'm getting into the Bible...and the Bible...is getting into me!" Garth identifies with this song because he loves getting into the Bible. He has begun to read so much better this year that he is reading daily devotionals on his own. He comes to me with big words, but he likes to try and get into the Bible himself. So not only the beat of this song was calling to him, but the words he loved were beckoning, too.


I saw the determination on Garth's face as he stood up and began to dance with the song. He did not care that no one stood with him. He wasn't concerned that everyone looked at him a little funny. Kids can be cruel sometimes and he knows that. But he risked people laughing at him because he had to dance with the song. Garth just made a profession of faith in the last few months and I like to think that his need to dance was part of the way he was worshipping his newly found Savior.


Going against the grain. Making waves. Call it what you will, but as Christians, we are sometimes called upon to be different. There is no more unforgiving scenario than the kid world of being different. We are fortunate enough to have such a good group of kids at our church that no one laughed when Garth danced. No one made comments or pointed. Life is not always like that. We can be ridiculed or ostrisized because of our stand. A lot of times, by the ones who are closest to us. But we are called to be IN this world but not OF this world. We must move when the Spirit prompts us. How blessed I was to see this in my 9 year old! It was truly a great Wednesday night!