Saturday, August 29, 2015

God Loves and Knows My Kids More Than I Do...I Can Trust Him with Them

I haven't written all week.

Sure, I've been busy, my kids started public school and I've been busy working in my home. And our computer is broken so I either have to peck on my phone or wait until my husband gets home with his laptop.  But since I've been really trying to be totally available and engaged with my kids when they get home from school...that option doesn't work.

So I am probably not going to reach my two post quota this week.

God is working in my life but it's not really things that I can put into words yet.

He's been showing me that I can trust Him with my kids. Which I already knew but for the first three days of school I kind of forgot.

I wanted them to go to school and effortlessly fit in and everything just be be hunky-dorey. But it wasn't. There were challenges. And I could have stepped in, but I think God didn't want me to. I think He wanted me to know and remember that He loves these babies a million times more than I do. And if that's true then He wants the best for them even more than I do. And what's more, He can work it all for their good in a way that I can't even comprehend.

If they love Him, He can take all the things that they don't understand, all the things that frustrate them and disappoint them and work them for their good.

I can't do that. I can only love them and support them. I can't see their future. I can't weave all the lives and things together to create something good from something hideous and bad.

God can. And He loves these kids more than I do. So I trust Him.

Instead of begging Him to give them a good day, I thank Him for giving them one and for working the difficult moments for their ultimate good.

My heart is at peace, and I can support them and reassure them and put the proper emphasis on events, instead of freaking out in fear over something that won't even be a blip on the radar a year from now. :)

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Flip Side to Broken Marriage--Things You Should Know

Now that we know the ways we are broken and the source of our brokeness, it can be addressed. We've stepped out of denial and into our desperate need for our Savior. Our broken lives and broken marriage have given us a knowledge for our need of our Great Physician more than ever.

A really neat perk of where our marriage is right now? I don't love him because he's a good husband. I don't love him because he's a good provider. I don't love him because of all the things we have in common. I love him. And that's all. He doesn't have to do anything to earn my love. I love him because we've spent the last 14 years as partners in the trenches.

Things that used to get on my nerves don't anymore. Because I love him. And that has absolutely nothing to do with his actions so I am free to just accept him exactly like he is. I've come to realize that my love for him is deep...deeper than anything he can do to annoy me.

Does that mean I don't want him to make better choices sometimes? No. I want him to make better choices for himself and how he will feel as a result and how his relationship with God will grow and not because of how they affect me.

We both know, because we've both proven, that we can love each other through really stupid and horrible things we've done.

We've proven our commitment to each other.

So...unconditional love and unconditional commitment. And a deeper and more rich relationship with God.

That is what has come as a result of our broken marriage. See what I mean by God working our mess for our good? He is so good and faithful. And as difficult as some moments in our marriage have been, I am thankful. And optimistic! God is awesome!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Broken Marriage

Writing things down helps me process them.

I've written a lot about my marriage and the struggles we've had. I've tried really hard to not pretend, to not convey that things are better than they are.

Our marriage is broken. Because we are, and have been, broken.

It's like a horribly cracked foundation of a house. We can fix the cracks in the walls and replace the flooring all we want to but if the foundation isn't fixed it's just going to re-crack. There's no point in doing all of that patchwork if the foundation is broken.

For a long time we just ignored the cracks in the walls and floors of our marriage. I read books and blogs and tried to make the most of the house of our marriage.

Now, and for a while, we've been trying to get to the bottom of the damage. And just as I think we've gotten to the bottom of it all, we make a new discovery. It's like when you go to change the spark plugs on your car and realize you need a new engine. (I don't know if that would ever happen, but those are two car parts I know the names of, so there you go)

The latest of these discoveries is that we are just really not compatible. We were so unhealthy when we were dating that we both ignored all of the red flags and proceeded with reckless abandon.

I was the damsel in distress and he was my knight in shining armor. I was looking for love and freedom and he was looking for...well...I won't speak for him. It's like neither of us cared about whether we would really be a good match. I was (a much less violent) Bonnie to his Clyde.

So, here we are, almost 14 years in and the things we have in common are our shared experiences over the last 16 years.

We struggle to find things to talk about so we end up talking about our problems. Our own and each others, and that gets old.

We do have fun moments, don't get me wrong. But, we aren't the kind of couple who started out with a great love, we don't have a romantic engagement story. Our wedding wasn't magical and our honeymoon isn't a very good memory. We don't like the same movies, we don't enjoy the same activities.

Well, we both like kissing. And we both of like the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. That's one thing we've got. :)

Our marriage doesn't have a ton of awesome moments. They have gotten increasingly less horrible, and some have actually been good. Some have even been great. But mostly we've survived.

I think this is a point when a lot of people decide that it isn't worth trying to save or they completely check out. But we haven't and, by the grace of God, we won't.

We are in this. We made a commitment to God, to each other, and now to our children and we are going to keep that commitment. This isn't ideal but honestly, I don't want out. And he doesn't either.

I don't know how God is going to work this for our good, but I know that He is. I trust Him. He has already used it for my good.

The thing is, finally admitting this to ourselves has kind of set us free. For years I've been reading books and blogs trying to fix us. But really, I was fixing the cracks in the walls and floors, not wanting to admit that the problem was with the foundation. Acknowledging the broken foundation has taken the pressure off.

It's like when you know there is something physically wrong with you and you imagine all of the things that could be wrong and you avoid going to the doctor. Or maybe you go to the doctor but it takes a while to figure out what's wrong. You can't treat the illness until you know what it is. You can treat the symptoms but the illness itself can't be treated until it's identified.

I'm excited to see God work, to watch Him heal us. To witness His strength made perfect in our weakness. And to ultimately stand in awe of His goodness and glory.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Love Peter!

Peter is one of my favorite disciples.

I was just reading the Gospel of John. Jesus has just finished telling the disciples to love each other as He loved them.

And then Peter speaks up to ask Jesus where He is going. Jesus tells Peter that he can't follow Him now, but will later. Peter says
"Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."  Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times."
We all know what happened. Peter denied Him. Three times. Just like Jesus said he would.

This time Jesus' reply really struck me. I imagine that Peter recalled Jesus' question when the rooster crowed. "Will you lay down your life for me?" I wonder how many times he thought of that moment throughout his life. I imagine it crossed his mind when he was being nailed to his own cross. But that time he replied with a resounding YES! Not with his tongue as he had previously been keen to do, but with his life.

I think it would have been amazing to witness the transformation of Peter. From the nervous talker who denied knowing Jesus to the dedicated Jesus follower who preached Jesus.

It's just a beautiful picture to me. Not that Peter denied Jesus, but that even though he didn't get it right that time, he eventually did.

I love Peter because he reminds me of what God can do in my life. He reminds me that where I am today is not where I will always be. That even though I say stupid things, completely miss the point and get caught up in peer pressure that God can use me, He can accomplish His will through me. He can and will change me.

These sins and character defects that plague me will eventually be gone. Not completely in my earthly life. But enough that my life won't be about them anymore. Enough that my life will be so full of Jesus that they will have to kill me to end it. But even if they do, it won't be over. I'll just praise Him somewhere else. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

More Questions than Answers

I wonder if Leah ever felt loved? I wonder if she regretted tricking Jacob into marrying her?

Laban probably thought he was doing the right thing. Maybe Leah did too. Or maybe Leah just did what her father told her to. 

Jacob was a decent guy. He honored the commitment he made. He cared for her needs. He gave her her fair share of bed sharing. But I wonder if she ever regretted what she had done? 

I wonder what went on in her head? Did she long to be loved? Did she long to be chosen? How on Earth did she live a happy life always knowing Rachel was the chosen one? Rachel's children were even preferred over hers. 

Honestly, until the last few years, Leah was probably my least favorite too. But I have grown curious about her.

Maybe she was a much better woman than I am. Maybe she coped well and was content with her life and husband. 

Ultimately God used it all for good. And I doubt that she cares about being loved by Jacob now. But I wonder what she would say if I could have her over for lunch and a chat?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Serving by Being Served

I'm not a super gifted person, but a few years ago as a result of a spiritual conviction and a true desire to serve, I thought long and hard of what I could do. Finally I decided that I could serve pregnant mothers with older children by cleaning their homes so they could rest.

With a timid heart but the courage of my convictions I made a list and approached each one.

All of them turned me down. They all seemed offended.

I was crushed. I felt rejected and frustrated.

I don't really know the psychology behind why THEY did this, but to be honest, I've done the same thing.

I was taught to not ask for not "bother" people. And so my first instinct is to do things myself...even if I can't or I need help. Most of the time it doesn't even enter my mind that I CAN ask for help or that I should. I typically just tell myself that if I worked harder that I wouldn't need help. So I put my head down and barrel through.

But I'm learning to say 'yes' when someone offers their help. God is teaching me that it's okay to need help. It's even okay to accept help even when I don't think I need it. It's a part of His plan. It's actually how His body is designed to function. We need each other. 

If nobody will allow anyone else to serve then how will anyone fulfill the call to serve?

The physical body has the ability to give and the ability to receive. If all my hands could do was give things away, I would eventually run out of things to give and I would never receive things I need (like money, food, etc.)...I would die. It's the same with the spiritual body. Our spiritual body is not meant to just give. It is meant to receive. From God and from others.

Even Jesus received "help" from others. He borrowed a room to observe the Passover in, and He allowed Mary to anoint Him with expensive perfume. Can you imagine if Jesus had jumped up and said "It's okay! I don't need to be anointed. Thanks though!"

That perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor, as the disciples pointed out. I mean, Jesus was all about helping the poor, right?! But instead of rebuking her, he defended her. He said she did the right thing.

And then He rebuked Peter when he tried to refuse Jesus the opportunity to wash his feet.  Jesus was the teacher. It makes sense to me. Thinking of someone I respect doing such a menial task for me seems out of order. But it's not. It's the Jesus way.

The Jesus way is serving and being served. There is a time for both. Both require humility.

The most spiritually uplifting thing that has ever been done for me is allowing me to use my gifts to serve. Even if someone else could have done a better job or was more equipped.

I feel certain that those mothers didn't mean any harm or discouragement. I feel certain that Peter had good intentions by refusing to have his feet washed. But Jesus still rebuked him.

Being the receiver is not a negative thing. Allowing me to scrub your toilet isn't a negative commentary on your housekeeping skills. It is an act of service to someone who doesn't have much to give.

Saying yes when someone offers their help is an act of service as much as offering the help in the first place. Both are a part of God's plan.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Future Plans and Goals

Throughout my adulthood I have struggled to find anything that I'm good at.

I finally admitted a few months ago that, thinking as honestly as I can, I think God gave me the talent of writing. I'm still open to realizing that I am wrong, and I'm not saying I'm Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson, but I think He gave me words. 

So back in March I decided to commit to writing regularly and posting to my blog 2 times a week. And I have kept that commitment. I'm offering my "not enough" to God. 

But even though I think God has compelled me to write, my talent and knowledge of how to do it properly are limited. And so, for His glory I have desired to improve my craft. 

I've spent the last month or so diligently studying writing and I have come to the conclusion that one of my biggest issues is with editing.

Basically, beyond checking for spelling and blatant grammatical errors, I don't do it. Every thing I've ever published on this blog has been a first, or rough, draft. I sit down, I write and I publish.

I held the mistaken belief that good writers don't have to agonize over the order of words and that whatever came out first was as good as it was going to get. But I have since learned that even famous writers of classic novels rewrote and revised their work heavily. Hemingway rewrote the last page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times. Crazy! 

And so, I think my best course of action is to take the pieces I've already written and give them proper editorial attention.

I'm not sure how I'm going to handle to continue to publish twice a week. I have several options but I haven't finalized a plan of attack. I may just share the edited versions for comparison purposes.

But I just wanted to let anyone who might be reading this know that things are going to be changing around these here parts. Hopefully for the good. 

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my rough drafts and for being so kind about them!

Here's to better writing ahead!