Thursday, September 19, 2013

plain & flourishing

"The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, 'Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!'  But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.  For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.  And I will hope in your name, for your name is good."  
Psalm 52: 6-9

I wake each day and need Him.  I feel my minutes & hours ticking by and I’m filled with struggles, fears, insecurities.  My heart and my mind are a battlefield in which I long for utter dependence on the goodness and grace of God to reign. 

Yet the battle is hard.  And I am weary.  Weakness drives me and I search for significance, purpose, to matter. 

Jesus is removed as my standard, my grace, my all.  He is replaced with the world around me.  Do I have what it takes to raise godly children?  Do others see me doing a good job?  Does my life matter?  Does anyone notice me?  Comparison sucks me dry and I go to bed exhausted. 

I need Him.  Without Him, there is only drowning.  Drowning in sins of comparison, seeking significance from others approval, finding worth by being “known”. 

Here is where I find Him.  Or rather, where He is gently but firmly pushing me. 

"But as for me, it is good to be near God." Psalm 73:28

He is so good to meet with me.  To love me.  To pursue me and show me more of Him and His unbelievable love.  

I am learning to recognize my sin.  And by His grace, I am gaining in my desire to be rid of it.  I long to walk in the nearness of my God as my Father & Friend. To be set free from the trappings of this world. To keep my eyes, heart, mind, and actions firmly planted on Him and His truths alone.

I must not, can’t be, and don’t truly want to be defined by the world, those around me, what I am or am not.  I belong to Jesus.  Simple and plain.  That is where I am, who I am.  

Not plain as in feel sorry for me or say something to boost my ego plain.  

A good plain.  

I am a sinful person receiving the unmerited grace and favor of God.  I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a disciple, a mentor, a Bible study teacher, and whatever else God has for me in my days.  I am nothing outside of who I am in Christ.  And in Him I am free from the need of any applause of man, any noticing of the world around me, and all else that holds me back from the fullness of His grace.  I actually want to be plain.  I still battle like crazy the things of my flesh that tell me "there is more out there" or "no one notices you" or "you aren't valuable".  These things come to me in the form of fear, insecurity, insignificance, rejection, comparison, jealousy, regret, anger, and bitterness to name a few.  These are my sins.  But I choose to fight them.  

Because there is nothing that compares to flourishing in the house of God.  I long to flourish in the house of God.  Like a tree, rooted deep and growing full.  My heart desire is for Jesus to be my sufficiency, my first love, my standard & my driving force in all my days.  

"You will make known to me the paths of life.  In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forever." Psalm 16:11

I don't want to just know Jesus as my salvation.  I want to know Him.  I can't explain in words what I mean by that one word: know.  It is deep and personal for me.  And trust me, this is no easy task.  I am easily swayed and fall so quickly to my flesh.  But again, I am choosing to fight it.  God is chipping away inside my heart and mind, revealing the sin that tears me up and filling me more with a glimpse of what it is to flourish with Him.  

What in the world does this look like?  So far it's looked like learning more about who God is, learning to see, confess, and hate my sins, learning to love Him more, learning to be loved by Him.  It's a daily work of trusting Him, talking to Him, reading His word, acknowledging Him, confessing to Him, choosing Him over my flesh & the lies of the Satan & the world. 

When my body doesn't want to get up early to meet with Jesus?  I fight and choose the path that leads to flourishing.

When my husband's schedule is full of meetings and people and lunches and mine is empty and laden with more pb&j?  

When my 3 year old comes out of my bathroom totally naked and with poop everywhere?  

When my laundry stares at me for days?

When my daughter cries and cries from years of things unknown to me that break my heart and fill me with anger?

When my oldest tells me through tears she doesn't know how to do right things & I get to hug her and tell her about Jesus?

When the young woman I mentor cries over her longing to stop her sins and I ache with the desire to make it all better for her?

Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, all that God has for me.  I have to choose to fight to flourish.  To set my eyes on Jesus Christ.  To bind my heart & mind to Him.  He is in everything, His presence is always with me, being near Him is good. 

"I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears.  Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.  I cried out to the Lord in my suffering and he heard me.  He set me free from all my fears.  For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!"  Psalm 34:4-8

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

she reached for me


In a few days, you will turn 5.  
This day for you and us will be unlike any before.  Since we've known you, we've thanked Jesus for your life.  Celebrated your life.  But on Monday, we will celebrate you for the first time together on your birthday.

I hardly have words for this.  

I am beyond humbled and thankful to be your mama.  You are extraordinary.  When I first held you I wept and spoke over and over, I am your mama and I love you.  I say it to you still at night.  I am your mama and I love you.    You are extraordinary.  

You laugh loud and smile big.

You rub your daddy's beard and nuzzle him every day when he gets home.

You smile when Madeline sings to you and hold her hand in the car.

You dance alongside Simeon to his crazy music and cuddle in the beanbag with him.

You happily tolerate Anna sitting in your lap and saying 'Paulishka' over and over again.

And today, dear daughter, you reached out for me.  We were at the doctor and they sure were bothering you.  I was holding your hands and singing in your ear when the technician called me attention away.  I sat up to turn toward him and your little arms lunged for me and grasped my fingers and pulled me into you.  The poor EEG guy had no idea why your mama ignored him and cried and stayed as close to you as I could.

You, my sweet girl, are fearfully and wonderfully made.

You are changing me, our family, and so many around you.

You are a glimpse of the Savior and a reflection of His glory.

And, I am blessed to say, I am your mama and I love you.

Happy birthday, Paulina.

Monday, September 2, 2013

backyard campout

At some point Andrew promised the kiddos a backyard campout.  So 4th of July we decided to follow through.  At least for some of us.  We set up the tent, played outside all evening, created our own little fire pit, ate hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, and generally enjoyed our little campout.  When darkness rolled around I headed in with Paulina & figured Anna would come soon.  About 3 minutes after I walked inside I got a call from my baby saying she was ready to come in.  Ha!  She didn't make it long.  Instead Andrew camped with Madeline & Simeon outside, & I camped with Anna & Paulina in my bedroom.  Overall, tons of fun and lots of happiness from our kiddos.  Always fun to say yes.