Running This Race

Dear Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter-using, Homeschooling mothers of 6 with one on the way, yet still an avid blogger, food blogger (with pictures of recipes step by step), and all those other people that seemingly have it  “all together.”  And Tumblr-using moms.   Whatever that is:

I confess to you that I can’t keep up.  I don’t know how everyone does it.  I try to keep up and I end up just feeling extremely inadequate and beat down at the end of the day.  I would love to blog regularly, sew my kid’s clothes, refurbish an old dresser, cloth diaper and puree all of Malacai’s baby food.  But who has the time? It’s an effort for me to keep the house clean, laundry done, menu plan, spend time with the kids and apply proper love and discipline, do devotions, and take care of church stuff – all the while striving to be a patient and loving mother and wife who displays Christian qualities and enjoys the everyday repetitions of life.

It’s true that I love and enjoy reading blogs.  I follow quite a few awesome mommies who love the Lord and seek to be more like Him in the midst of their chaos.  I find encouragement and fellowship in their writings.   It’s true that I think all of the above mentioned social media platforms can be wonderful.  It’s no lie that I have spent way too much time moseying around on Pinterest or scrolling my Facebook feed just because I want to do something mindless.  Meanwhile, my 9 month old is whining in his highchair and my 4 year old won’t stop interrupting my research of the latest status updates, the amount of “likes” my kids’ pictures have gotten, and what political platform meme someone has shared.

So, what is the problem here?  Why do I feel that I can’t keep up? The problem is ME.   My focus is always on me, my inadequacies, and my failures to measure up with everyone else.  I don’t like it.  I don’t intend to be so selfish.  I don’t wake up and think, “How can I magnify Michelle today?!”  Unfortunately, my flesh always creeps up and rears its ugly head.

In January 2010, Josh and I attended a Passion Conference with the college and career group from church.  Beth Moore preached a sermon using a word picture that I will never forget.  (All credit here goes to her.)  Although I remember it, I don’t often apply it.  Lately, it has been resonating in my heart and I need it to revive my selfish soul.  According to Hebrews 12:2, this life is a race we are running.  And though we have a tendency to look at everyone around us, we need to keep our eyes on the finish line, on Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  The only thing I need to do is run and focus on Him.  Keep going, eyes fixed on HIM (not the homeschooling mother of 6, all the blogs writers that I wish I would be like, and the moms who seem so much more patient, and kind, and creative with their discipline).  Stop focusing on all the other runners in this race and what they are doing, and look to the One who makes all my inadequacies adequate by what He did on the cross.  If we only realized the glorious justification that was accomplished when HE arose from the dead, we would stop trying so hard!  We would stand in the grace of God knowing we are totally okay!  Totally set free of false expectations.  Totally set free from the bondage to this world and all the temporary pleasures it teases our minds with daily.

So I am going to read and re-read Hebrews 12:1-2.  I am going write it on a Post-it and place it in front the window where I do dishes (because you know we spend a lot of time there), and I am going to soak in the truth of where my focus should be.

PostIt-window

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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It’s a Girl, I Know…

Well, it is officially a new year, so Michelle and I thought it would be the perfect time to dust off the old blog site. Instead of this being strictly a ministry blog, we’ve decided to make it a blog about our family and also ministry here in the High Country. Being so removed from most of our friends (in Charlotte and elsewhere), this will be a great way for us to keep everyone “up” on things here with us. We hope you enjoy!

I knew it was a girl.  I was sure of it.

I shook my head with a yes, eyes squinted with all seriousness, as I looked at the ultrasound tech and said, “It’s a girl, I know.”  At that point she looked at me and laughed, chin up in the air and everything.  My face must have certainly expressed confusion, as she said, “There’s too many parts to be a girl – it’s a boy!”  At that point, Joshua (who was tending to the two other kids in the brood with his back turned), heard the “it’s a boy” part as if he had been standing right by my side.  He walked over and said, “Wait, what?” And I, humbled and extremely surprised, had tears of joy and excitement in my eyes as she showed me what she called a “pretty scrotum.”

Needless to say – we are so excited for a boy! Connor will have a little brother to be home with when Kaelyn starts school this August, and Kaelyn will love anyone she can take care of, so we feel abundantly blessed.  Its funny, however, I am a little saddened that he is a he and not a she.  I set myself up for us to have another little girl, for Kaelyn to have a little sister, and for Josh to have one more little girl.  I only thought of girl names (although I would never admit any of this prior) and I was excited to pull out all of Kaelyn’s baby stuff that I haven’t looked at in five years.  Not to sound super extreme or hormonal, I’m almost mourning someone I never met.  Perhaps, the weirdest thing for me is that my SURE ‘gut’ feeling was wrong.  Either way, as I retrain myself to think blue and not pink, I feel like this is one more lesson I can learn.  One more thing to let me know how not in control I am and how God usually doesn’t work how I expect or think He will.

Most of you know, Feb 6, 2011 we moved to the mountains of N.C.  It was the hardest thing I have had to do since I have been walking with the Lord.  It was a true surrender to His will, in a decision where my will was anything but His.  Fast forward 370 days later, and some days I can’t even remember why it was so hard to move in the first place.  We sometimes spend so much time and energy looking for BIG meaning in things that happen to us in life.  I hoped at one time we would get up here and our church would grow immediately and I would make friends immediately and we would be so busy doing ministry immediately.  It did not happen like that in the least.  I even felt like we were back-peddling at times.   Now, we are seeing some of these things are starting to come – yay for friends and growth, ALL glory to God!  I see God’s perfect timing and I am thankful.  The past year he has made our little family so tight-knit, that I feel if this was the only purpose of us moving up here, it was more than worth it.  There is so much more to this, but I feel like since I am such a work in progress, I’ll stop there.

I take all this space up in the world of blogging just to say (even if just to me): stop trying to figure it all out.  If you are walking with God, then He is in control and not you.  Before I fill in the rest of this space with a bunch of cliche sayings like ‘let go and let God’ or ‘grow where you are planted’, I’ll leave you with this:

“He Does Our Praying for Us.” Romans 8:26

I was reading back in my journal the other day and I found that on August 3, 2009 I wrote this at the end of my entry for the day:

“…Lord I pray this never happens, but if one of my children or loved ones died suddenly, I hope I would be found to praise, honor, and glory of Jesus Christ.  That is where I want my faith to be.”

That was it for my entry that day.  I don’t really know why I wrote that statement.  Looking back on it, it was a bold statement to make.  We had a tough July that year, nothing earth shattering, just a physically and mentally draining month.  Connor was very sick all month with various things, and Kaelyn was stricken with a fever every two weeks, with no medical explanation.  Josh and I got the flu.  Josh’s grandmother passed away, and we drove twenty one hours in three days with a nine month old with double ear infections.  I got a total of nine hours of sleep on that sixty hour trip.  I think I worked six days of our twelve day summer fun preschool program, because the kids were sick so much.  The month was hard, and I don’t mean to be so “woe is me,” but I just want to paint that picture for you.  I guess the bottom line is: I didn’t understand why I would write such a statement in that moment.

God was preparing me for what was to come.  On January 9, 2010 my grandmother came to visit me for the weekend.  She had a stroke in the middle of the night, and ten days later she went home to be with the Lord.  During those ten days, Josh and I had a strength that was from on High that I can’t begin to describe.  We had five extra people staying in our little home for ten days.  You can imagine what a toll that would be for our family in such a small living space, but honestly, everything was so blessed by God.  We were able to share our faith and the love of Christ with people that didn’t know otherwise.

There is so much more to that story than I could ever adequately express on a blog posting, but that is not really what this is about. The point is that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10) He interceded on my behalf beforehand while I was writing in my journal, and prepared my heart so I could walk in His work and in His ways.  I know for an absolute fact that if it wasn’t for Jesus, then I would have lost my mind somewhere in those ten days.   Praise be to God that we were able to comfort my family and uphold them out of the overflow of comfort we ourselves were getting from God! (2 Corinthians 1:4)

My point is, our prayers aren’t in vain, people!  Let us rejoice in the Lord, pray without ceasing and remember, even if we don’t know it, the Spirit himself makes intercession for us! (Romans 8:26)  “We” don’t really do anything. We are HIS workmanship.  Is that as mind boggling for you as it is for me?

I went back to that journal page and marked that on 01/19/19 my gram went Home.  That’s all I wrote.  It seemed sufficient to me.

Nothing (not even parenting) Can Separate Me…

After a long, exhausting day a few weeks back, I was feeling particularly sinful.   I could accurately describe it as at my “wit’s end.”   The whole day I dealt with a sick, feverish one-year-old who lived on my hip, all while trying to teach my three-year-old that the world is not hers and that everything is not all about her.   Add to that a few nights of short, broken up sleep, and you had yourself one worn out mommy.  I was impatient (I snapped at them several times), stressed, and emotionally and physically exhausted.

The worst part was the guilt I felt for feeling this way!  Where was my gentle and quiet spirit?   If this is so precious to the Lord, then this is what I desire, but on days like that, I feel worlds away from attaining it.

That night after my kids were finally asleep, I opened my Bible with a guilt-stricken heart, feeling like a failure in the most important area of my ministry, parenting.  I was disgusted with my lack of patience.  I hated to feel that way.

I began to remember why I needed a Savior in the first place.  “Did you really die for me?  Jesus, did you really give up ruling and reigning in the heavenlies to die for our screw-ups?” At that moment, He opened my heart and I began to give Him my attention and adoration.  I opened to Romans 8:48-49, a Scripture I know by heart.  “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The words struck a chord with me at that moment: I could not be brought away from the love of God that is found in Jesus Christ!  Nothing I could do could ever tear me away – I cannot be snatched out of His hand!  These precious words became the peace needed to soothe my wretched soul.   God IS LOVE, and this Scripture is a perfect example of what that really means.  He loved me first, so that means He won’t love me any less on a day where I am feeling spiritually subpar, or on a day when I have “prayed without ceasing” for that matter.   He loves me just the same.  Jesus.  That is why God is love.   An elementary lesson, but I obviously needed a reminder.

As I sat down in my bed, grateful for these precious truths, I could not fully wrap my mind around all of it.  I still can’t, but I do aspire to spend my life searching the depths of Christ’s love.

By the way, the next day was better with my kids.   As Believers we have been given the privilege to repent, get mercy and find grace, and get back up again.   Proverbs 24:16 says it well, “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again…”

I would also like to add that Connor (my one-year-old) is feeling better and he has detached himself from mommy (for the most part), while Kaelyn is still learning the principle of selflessness.  We’ll get there eventually…right?