Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Continually stripped away

“Use me, break me, waste me on you. Ruin me. Take me. Waste me on you. To starve is to feast and less of me is more of Jesus. Lord, I want it all. Lord, I want it all. If I lose my life, I gain everything. Lord, I want it all. Lord, I want it all. Use me. Break me. Waste me on you. Ruin me. Take me. Waste me on you. To starve is to feast, and less of me is more of Jesus. Lord, I want it all. Lord, I want it all. There is power in the blood. There is victory in Jesus. Come in power, wash me clean. Overwhelm me with your presence. There is power in the blood. There is victory in Jesus. There is glory in the cross. Help me find my gain in loss.”

These words of a Shane and Shane song are powerful. I'm truly experiencing this right now. Satan has been tormenting me ever since we've made our decision about me just working part time and doing our children's ministry. Robert went about 4 weeks without a pay check (long story), so instead of being ahead financially (all bills paid, money in savings), we are now behind. Automatically I think, did we make the right decision? And automatically Jesus tells me, "yes, just trust me." I desire to be used by Jesus until I am no longer the person that is seen. I want to be someone that sees Jesus when they see me. I want to be completely stripped away of who I am in the flesh.
I had been taking anxiety medication and stopped taking it about 2 weeks ago and I feel myself really struggling again. I am exhausted all the time (which I know now is a result in be anxious 24/7), and I am fearful of making it from day to day. And I continue to hear the words of Jesus, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown in the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O You of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'what shall we eat?' or 'what shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:25-33. "Count it all JOY, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it's full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be make known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
I could go on forever, but I will leave you with words so much better than my own :).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Amazing Daughter

Being a mother is the best, hardest, and most rewarding thing I have ever done. Karis amazes me every day. I always tell everyone that she is brilliant, but of course I would think that :). Today she has been showing me how much she can do, and it amazes me. She has grown up a lot even over the past week. Today when we were at the store, she was trying to write with my pen on my grocery list, like she was copying me. When she did it, she would say some random letters. She'll just start singing the alphabet song at many points throughout the day (of course, it's her version, but I love it). I gave her a block to play with when we were in the car and it had the letter E on it. I didn't tell her that, I just gave it to her. She looked at it and said, "E, E, E, E..." over and over again. She's a genius! Haha. And for the second time in the past week she walked up to me while I was cooking dinner and gave me her shoes to put on her. I told her, "go get your socks." She turned around and went back to her room. She brought me one. I said, "go get the other one," and she comes back with both of them and sits down for me to put them on her. She knows what eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are. She knows A LOT of words. Duck (she loves ducks), Bath, Juice, Book, Hi, Night Night, No, Baby, Puppy (then she barks), Dadda, Mamma, PawPaw, NaNa (supposed to be Granny), Meemaw, Thank You, I Love you (kinda), I do it (well, her version is more like "I do"), and Bye Bye being a some of her favorites. She mimics words all day long. She is growing up so fast. Part of me is excited about the new journey of toddlerhood, but another part of me just wants my little baby back. Although, I do like the fact that she likes to cuddle more now, and she likes to give big hugs and occasionally a big wet kiss. She's a very loving child. She'll hug me and pat my back. It's so stinkin cute. She's pretty easy too. We just recently got her a toddler bed, and she transitioned to it really easily. It only took a few days, and now she seems to love it. We made her room into a "big girl room," complete with the play kitchen and food, a table and chairs, and educational posters on the wall. She plays in there all the time now. She loves it. I think it's my favorite room in the whole house :). It's fun, yet not too busy (so she can go to sleep).
I emailed the director of the school that I'm going to be working at part time (and the one that she will be going to) and got the curriculum so that I can add to it here at home. I'm real excited about it! I am going to be able to put my passion of teaching into my child :).
Anyway... I haven't talked about Karis in a while, so I thought I'd just update everyone on how much she has grown up :).
I can't wait to have another baby, but I'm also scared because Karis is so easy, we'll probably end up with a terror child for our next one :). That's what people keep telling me! Haha... Oh well!

Monday, July 23, 2007

God is so amazing

God has been transforming me and stripping me away for the past year or so. The move to San Marcos has been very difficult, but has been the best thing for me and for my family. I have been so unsure of what to do with hard decisions, and after truly seeking God and seeking what He has planned and not what I want, I have finally made decisions that have been a long time coming. Of course, God's timing is much better than my own, so I think it was really just the right time. I finally feel like I am going to be doing what I was created to do. I ran away from it for a while (not really sure why), but I have surrendered, and I couldn't be more at peace.

Starting pretty much immediately, I am going to be co-leading our children's ministry (Kids Rock). When the church first started, I was the Kids Rock coordinator, but because we lived at the camp, it was too hard so I quit (plus I didn't know how to delegate so I got burned out). It's amazing to see how God orchestrated all of this. A few months ago I emailed my pastors about a vision that I had for our children's ministry, but I told them that I didn't know what to do with it because at the time I was looking for a full time teaching position. Well, about 2 weeks ago, I went for coffee with two friends (my pastor's wife and the person that is now going to be co-leading with me). Somehow the topic of Kids Rock came up and I found out that Ashley (co-leader) was going to be meeting with Jason (pastor) the next day. She said that she's been having a lot of vision and passion for our children's ministry, but she wasn't quite ready to surrender to it yet, she just wanted to share with Jason. We met the next day before she and Jason did, and we found out that we had the exact same vision (kind of wierd for a children's ministry). So we both met with Jason and he told us that we would have to give some other things up, and would we be able to do that. He told us to spend a week in prayer about it. We both wrestled with God through that week. The decisions that we had to make were tough. What I had to give up was being a teacher. I needed to be in a place in which if I got a job offer, I could turn in down. I know myself, and I know that if I were to teach full time, that would be my complete focus. There wouldn't be time for anything else. So, I knew that I had to give up the "dream" of being a teacher. But, luckily, God is still giving me the opportunity. A couple of days before I made my decision, I got an email about a mother's day out program (where some of the church kids go) that needed some help the week before school started so that the teachers could train and prepare. I emailed the director and told her that I'm interested in helping, but that I was also interested if they had any openings. About 30 minutes later she emailed me back and told me that she didn't have any current openings, but she would love to meet with me (2 days later) for an interview. I met with her and she told me at that time that she just knew she was supposed to hire me and that she just found out she had 2 openings. She said that she would call me that evening to let me know what they were and to be praying. She called me just a couple hours later and offered me a job. So, now I get to teach part time, get to stay home with my daughter (3 days a week, and the other 2 she goes with me for free), and I will have plenty of time to devote to my family and to our children's ministry. On top of that, God has been providing Robert with plenty of work to fill in the gap of me not having much of a salary (my job will buy our groceries).

I'm sorry to have typed out every detail, I just had to share how God has worked EVERY DETAIL out SO perfectly. It's just amazing to me.
I never quite realized how much I tried to take control. I THOUGHT I knew what I wanted, but I was SO wrong. I can't even begin to explain what this has done for me and my anxiety issues. My anxiety is from so many years of trying to take control and thinking that I knew what was best. Of course, it's still going to be a daily surrender, but I know now that I can do it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wrestling with God

Have you ever had to give up something that you have dreamed of your whole life in order to be obedient to the calling that God has for you? I think I am going through that right now. It's a very long story, and frankly not one that I want to share right now. Just know that I need prayer as I am "wrestling" with God about something.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Simplicity, Celebration of Discipline

The Lord has been teaching me so much, yet I still have so much to learn. I guess when you really start seeking the Lord (and not just His "will" for YOUR life), then you start seeing more and more that needs to change. Of course, you also really start seeing that without the Lord doing the changing, it can't be done. I have always been one to focus on every circumstance and freak out when it didn't go the way that I thought. I worry and have anxiety problems about so much. God is working on this sin that I have been struggling with. Only through spending time with Him daily do I start to see that it can be overcome with His power. I am reading a book, The Celebration of Discipline, and it is amazing. I've only read a few chapters but I'm already beginning to see that with spiritual discipline comes freedom. Of course I have a long way to go, but I can at least see a glimpse of it! We're actually doing this study as a church. Each week Brian (one of the pastors) teaches on one or two chapters. The first week it was on meditation and solitude, the second it was on simplicity, and last night it was on submission. I just read the chapter through the week after he speaks on it. This is the first topical series that our church has done. We usually go through a book of the Bible at a time (which is the best way so you get the full context). But, the elders and pastors of the church felt that they needed to equip the saints to grow stronger every day on their own so that they weren't relying on the Sunday "buzz." It's very cool.
Anyway, the chapter on simplicity has stood out to me so far out of the chapters that I have read. I never thought simplicity to be a spiritual thing, but it very much is. It talks about how attachment to "things," addictions (even to simple things like tv, internet, coffee, sodas, etc), greediness, covetousness, and mainly just focusing on things that don't have any eternal value, bring bondage. It's not that it is bad to have things, you just need to put those things in proper perspective. Focus on the kingdom of God, and all the other things will fall into proper order. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you, Matthew 6:33. The context of this verse is Jesus speaking at the Sermon on the Mount and telling everyone to not be anxious about what you will wear, what you will eat, etc but to seek first the kingdom of God and he will take care of the rest. Of course, it's easier said than done, but spending time with Him every day is where you begin. He talks about the 3 inner attitudes of simplicity are: To receive what we have as a gift from God (we don't deserve all that we have!), To know that it is God's business, and not ours, to care for what we have (it's okay to protect things like locking your doors, but trust God to take care of things), and to have our goods available to others.
He gives 10 ways to have an outward expression of simplicity (not laws by any means, just a way to live a life of simplicity and freedom from fear and anxiety):
1) Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status (including cars, homes, clothes)
2) Reject anything that is producing an addiction (even nonnutritional drinks, chocolate, radios, magazines, money, etc). If it has a grip on your heart get rid of it, cut down, give it away, etc.
3) Develop a habit of giving things away, it's not yours anyway (teach your kids this discipline!)4) Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry (you don't need a brand new cell phone if yours works just fine!)
5) Learn to enjoy things without owning them (go to the park, the library, the beach, etc)
6) Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation (Walk, listen to the birds, enjoy the grass and leaves, smell the flowers, etc)
7) Look with a healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes (don't get into debt because it truly produces bondage!)
8) Obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech. "Let what you say be simply 'yes' or 'no;' anything more than this comes from evil" Matthew 5:37
9) Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
10) Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God (job, position, status, family, friends, security, etc). Those are good things, but they should never be our focus (this is a hard one for me!)