Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Blinked

There are days I like to be nostalgic and remember all the sweet memories from the past that I can, particularly those of our kids.

Other days, there's a deep echo calling me to remember.

Today is one of those days.

Oftentimes life can knock us down.  A kid can be acting out, causing us to question where we've gone wrong, to doubt our parenting.... ourselves.  Life can be overwhelmingly busy and in the busyness we forget what really matters.

If I let myself, I can begin to believe the enemy.  I can begin to believe that I am unarmed and unequipped.

The truth is that, armed with God's Word, I have everything I need.

He gently reminds me of this truth, urging me to get back up, and keep trying.

And then He calls me to remember that life is but a vapor, a mist - here one moment and gone the next.  What trials I face right now won't necessarily be the ones I'm fighting a month or year from now.  Just like the baby I held 'yesterday' is now 8 1/2.

Time passes.  He heals.  He restores.

I blink and another day is gone.  I blink and a decade is behind me.

I'm more aware of the brevity of life than ever and have since begun asking God to sear memories in my mind.  To help me remember.

Because.....

It was yesterday that we loaded up into my GrandAm and headed to the hospital to have our firstborn, our baby girl, Anna.

I blinked.

And now that 8 lb. 13 ounce baby is in 3rd grade.

16 months later we loaded up again and headed to the hospital to have our son, Eli.

I blinked and my 8 lb. 8 ounce little fella is a second grader.

It seems like 2-3 months ago I had Emi, and now my baby girl is 13 months old.  She's walking - well, running and full of the sweetest little giggles ever, pointing with her index finger and saying "dat, dat" (that).

And all I can do is petition God to help sear memories into the deepest recesses of my mind.  Memories that I can pull on the dark days.

Memories like our first night at home after having Anna, with my sister standing beside me as I rocked her.  All I could do was stare at her in awe, tears streaming down my face, whispering "It was worth it."


Memories of her waking up in the middle of the night, me coming to get her, and her always pointing to the kitchen saying "Pup, pup, my pup" and off we'd go to retrieve her sippy cup.  We'd make our way to the recliner to rock into the wee hours of the morning until she was no longer scared.

Memories of singing her song to her each night before bed, her snuggled up to me in the rocking chair.

Memories of her seeing Eli for the first time and leaning over to give him a kiss.


Memories of her cutting her hair .... twice and being so proud of herself as I cried.

Memories of her being the sweetest little hula girl in the church Christmas Play.


Her first day of Kindergarten and how she walked so independently, not a fear in that pint size body of hers, while I was inwardly a ball of mixed emotions.

Her getting all dressed up as a princess at Disney World to go eat dinner in Cinderella's Castle.


Or when she got her first kitty, Harley - still very much a baby, so much so that he had to be bottle fed.


I blinked.  She's a beautiful 8 year old now.  Full of energy and life and happiness.  She's in the Gifted and Talented program.  She's getting braces in a few weeks and in love with soccer and volleyball and Justin Bieber.... and I merely blinked.

Yet my memories remain.

Memories of seeing Eli hooked up to more wires and machines and tubes than I care to remember, but standing at the window to the nursery loving him more than I could ever possibly explain.


Memories of sitting in the dark with the moonlight shining in his room as we rocked together before bedtime.  Memories of me singing his song to him and when I got to the part "til the thunder sounds no more" how, without fail, every time he would get tickled and laugh when I said the word "thunder".  He still smiles to this day when I get to that part.

Memories of him being a momma's boy, crying when anyone else tried to hold him.  All it would take was me sticking my hands under his arms and he'd stop before I even got him up to my chest.

Or when he was in his first church Christmas play and wouldn't stay where he was supposed to - running in place while someone held the back of his shirt.  Or when he got loose and crawled up to the girl singing the solo, with her knee-high socks and began slowly rolling them down to her ankles.  I must say, she kept on singing like a trooper.

Or when we went to Disney World and he poked Mike Wasowski in the eye and then screamed as Mike began chasing him.


Memories of Ariel kissing him at dinner and him blushing like crazy, proudly wearing his lipstick mark the rest of the night.



Or when he walked up to the life sized "toy" soldier and began unbuckling his belt, then ran off in terror when the "toy" moved.


I blinked and now he's a 2nd grader, full of life and mischief and loves all things Lego's and tractors and is attempting his first real season at soccer.

It's amazing how blinking can somehow seem like years have been lost.

Yet I have these memories.  Such sweet, glorious memories.

Memories of pregnancy tests and excitement for our #3 and #4.  Memories of hopes and dreams for them.  Memories of how insanely excited Anna and Eli were.  And I wouldn't take anything for those moments.  I don't regret telling them because I remember the pride and joy they had for a few weeks.  Such absolutely precious and irreplaceable memories.

Memories of waiting and waiting for Emilee after losing our other two sweet babies.  Memories of how stubborn she showed us she was going to be - being so incredibly large and refusing to come so much as a day earlier than she was scheduled.  Weighing in at 9 lbs and 13 ounces she wanted us to know she came in big and likewise will make a big impact on this world, of that I have no doubt.


Memories of laying in the operating room, waiting to hear her cry, then crying when I did.  I don't know why I remember this so much.  I honestly don't remember Anna and Eli's first cry.  But I remember waiting so expectantly, desperate to hear her cry and know she was okay, then laying there with tears streaming down my face as I heard her for the first time.  She was loud and determined - still very much the same today.  She didn't quiet until Mark brought her to me and I talked to her, her cry hushing as I took my first look at her and said "Hi Emilee.  Shh, it's okay.  Mommy loves you sweet girl."

It's seared into my memory and I'm oh so thankful for that.

Memories of how insanely proud Anna and Eli were of her as they looked at her for the first time through the nursery window.



The smiles on their faces as they held her for the first time.


Memories like it and how this sweet girl used to have the craziest hair that we could never get to lay down.


How fiercely independent she is, rarely sitting still long enough for me to rock her or snuggle with her.  But in the rarest of moments, she'll slowly settle in and fall asleep in my arms.  I remember the first time she did that since she began walking and how I specifically asked God to sear it into my memory.... and He graciously did.

Memories of her saying "Momma" first - the only one of our 3 to say it first.

Memories of her waking up in the middle of the night crying.  I scoop her up and she lays her head on my chest.  I rock her in my arms, her face aglow by the blue nightlight of the monitor.  She's peaceful and content in my arms.

I blinked and a year is gone.

I blinked.  Really, it seems that's all I did and the time was gone.

But my memories serve to correct me - that years and months and days and hours and minutes were lived inbetween those blinks.

So many memories beckoning me to remember not just all the sweet moments but that each and every second serves as a reminder of how quickly time passes.  Time that should be embraced and lived and breathed with love and purpose and with the passion to live out our days honoring and glorifying the One who created us and who gave us these memories in the first place.

Memories of working on this post and Anna coming in and looking at the pictures.  She started sobbing.  I asked her what was wrong and she said "They're happy tears."

Indeed, memories serve as happy tears reminders of just how great our God is!

And that's one memory I want seared into my heart - how faithful and loving and great our God is.

May I blink a thousand times and never forget it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Best Yes

I've been struggling here lately.  Things seem 10 times harder than usual.  The kids seem to be acting out more.  My patience is waning.  Seemingly trivial things irritate me.  I'm rushed.  So rushed, always in a hurry.

A few weeks ago I wrote:


I'm worn.  I'm tired.  Making a calendar of events for the summer has been great, but simultaneously has left me feeling rushed and overextended.  Add to that all the classes for the adoption and I'm feeling so very on edge.  Classes, classes, classes.  Do this homework, get these physicals for everyone in the house done, make sure the cat is up to date on his rabies vaccine, get a copy of that certificate, make a copy of the water bill and tax forms, make a safety plan, check into bunk beds, go to more classes.  Take the kids to a babysitter, pick the kids up.


The reality is that not much has changed.  Sure, we finished our classes (Yay!), summer break is over and the kids are back in school.  But not much is different.  Same dog, different trick.  Life has a way of doing that, doesn't it?  Running ourselves ragged during the summer to make sure our kids have a great summer break.  Trying to cram each minute full of fun and memories.  And now it's not trips to the river or pool or weekends at grandma's.  It's soccer and volleyball and games and practices and homework and tutoring and doctor and orthodontist appointments.


Yet in the midst of it all there's an emptiness.  A void.  It echoes reminding me that memories aren't always made in the busyness of life.  They're made in the every day, mundane moments.


I keep seeing these Facebook posts from Proverbs 31 Ministries about Lysa TerKeurst's new book.  Don't you just love it when you can tell by the title of a book that it's meant for you?  It's that way with this book and yet I haven't even bought one or cracked the spine of it.  The mere excerpts from it speak volumes to my soul - reminding me that saying "Yes" isn't always bad, but if it takes away from a better yes, then it can be.


I've had to start asking myself some hard questions.  Questions like:


Is tutoring Eli's best friend a good "Yes"?  Most definitely.  I'm not willing to give that up... to give up on him.  I've seen the progress he's made and investing in his life is just as much for education purposes as it is eternal ones.


Am I willing to spend 2 hours at a volleyball practice Saturday, then go to another one on Monday night, to a game on Tuesday night (also while Eli has soccer practice), another practice on Wednesday, another game on Thursday, and then a soccer game Saturday morning and another volleyball practice after that?


No.


No I am not.


Although that's exactly what last week looked like.  It was a circus around here.  And the sad part is that this week looks worse.  And everything in it is a good "yes".  It's not like I'm begrudgingly saying yes or feeling obligated.  Yet I'm running here and there, Anna had a friend over yesterday, Christmas play practice has begun on Sunday nights, there are 2 volleyball games, 1 soccer practice, 2 volleyball practices, I'm watching my friend's baby all day today, Anna has an orthodontist appointment one day, a dermatologist appointment the next, E has a speech eval, and I have parent teacher conferences to attend for both of them.  And since Mark is working all week, it all falls on me.  Then we'll finish the week off with a college football game.


Just looking at the calendar makes my heart rate increase.  This is a recipe for madness.  For missing what's really important.


Don't get me wrong.  There's nothing wrong with kids playing sports.  Clearly mine are in sports.  But I refuse to live and breathe sports and run myself ragged to the point that I have nothing left to give.  I don't want to live my life waiting expectantly for my kids' bedtime.  Rushing one here, another there, and rushing back to catch the last half of a game only to rush back to watch the last half of a practice.  It's not worth it.  I don't want to wake up and realize I rushed through all these years with the only memories I have of them being that I was plum worn out and giving my kids 2nd best because of it.


Because that's what happens.  We're so busy rushing everywhere that we miss what's right in front of us.  We miss genuine time with our kids and intentional, deep, intimate time with the Lord.  And I'm tired of missing my best for a mediocre "yes".


I held my phone, hesitating to send the text saying Anna wouldn't be at practice last Monday.  I kept having to remind myself that that many practices don't fall into the "best yes" category and so I sent it.  One less burden.  One less thing on the calendar.  And it was glorious.  We loaded up and went to the hospital to see Eli's best friend's new baby brother.  We listened to the kids go back and forth in English and Spanish and I soaked up some snuggle time with the sweetest little baby with his black curly hair and tan skin and had the chance to use what little Spanish I know: "James es muy guapo."  We shared a smile, me and her, us navigating the language barrier the best we know how.


And I could have missed it.


The reality is that I've probably missed 1000 of those moments.  Moments of snuggling up together and reading a book.  Moments of sitting on the couch, licking an ice cream cone, watching the Duggers together.  Moments of piling up in bed together reading our nighttime devotional.  Moments of playing soccer together in the yard or joining in on their water fight.  Moments we were so rushed that they didn't have the time to tell me something important to them.  Moments where I'm so behind from all the running that I've missed rocking and snuggling with Emi.  Moments where we're so hurried out the door that plates are left on the table and dishes until the next morning when it all starts again.


I'm tired of it.

I'm actually just, well... tired.

I have a rule about following through on what we commit to.  Will my kids finish this season out in volleyball and soccer?  Yes.  Emphatically, yes, they will, as painful as that is for me.  Much like the time Eli wanted to play flag football... that is, until he didn't.  It was disastrous.  But he committed to playing and therefore he was required to finish the season.... complete with his 4 year old self crawling across the field, slapping the ref on the behind, and completely and utterly learning basically nothing.  It was awesome.  *shaking head*

Now, with that said, I have to ask myself what is reasonable.  And allocating 5 days to volleyball and 2 to soccer is not.  Don't get me wrong. I love, love, love watching my kids play sports.  There's something about it that evokes such pride in and for them.  I love cheering for them and their teams, wearing my "Soccer Mom" t-shirts (thanks, Mom), and seeing how much they love doing it.  Those are great things.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of that.

Yet if my life (their lives) has become about that, then there is a problem.  And the problem is that sports has taken a front row to life.  To family life.  To not eating dinner in a hurry so we can rush to a practice or a game.  To leisurely nights at home.  To reading.  To laughing.  To playing Checkers and Uno or building another Lego City.  To just soaking up Emi before she's too big to let me anymore.

I am one person.

And might that mean that sports get limited in the future?  Yes.  Might it mean them playing but only attending a limited amount of practices?  Yes.

But if it means a better me, then I'm okay with that.

And truthfully, it's not just sports.  We can say "Yes" to so many things that we're overwhelmed and under nourished.  We can say yes to volunteering at school, to working an extra shift, to taking a class, to going on a Girl's trip, to watching someone's kids, to heading up the church Christmas play, to teaching a class, to going to concerts, to helping a friend with a project, to hosting showers, to helping with fundraisers.... need I go on?

And none of those things are bad in and of themselves.  It's when we add them all together because we can't seem to find our "No".... what our "Best Yes" is.

Because the reality is that when I'm rushed, I'm setting myself up for failure.  I'm setting myself up to be impatient and stressed out and quick tempered.  I'm creating a recipe for conflict and division.

But bigger than all of that is that when I'm rushed, I miss opportunities to show the love of Christ.  I'm too busy worrying about getting out of Walmart that I miss offering a word of encouragement to the mom whose kid is throwing a tantrum, who has that ever so familiar look of defeat on her face.  I miss stopping to ask someone how their day is and genuinely taking the time to hear their answer.  I miss offering a smile or taking the time to pay for someone else's meal.  I miss praying with someone in need of prayer.  I miss offering Hope to someone in the depths of despair.  I miss opportunities that have life-changing potential.

And that's not how I want to live.

No sport is worth that.

No committee, no meeting, no class, trip, or concert.

It's just not.

And no, I'm not advocating saying no to everything and just becoming a bum.


I'm simply saying we have to stop saying yes for the sake of saying yes and begin asking ourselves "Is this wise?  What will saying yes to this cause me to have to say no to later?"


And running to practices and rushing home only to find myself issuing out orders isn't cutting it. "Get in the shower.  Hurry up.  Don't make me have to come in there and tell you to get out."  "Hurry up, go brush your teeth."  "No I won't lay with you, it's past bedtime."  "No, we can't read a story."  "Play the piano?  Not tonight, I'm too tired.  I just want to sit down and do nothing."  "Please, just get in bed."


This is not the way I want to do life.  I want to be the mom that crawls into bed next to my kiddos and lays there, listening to them talk about their day.  I want us all to be piled up in bed reading our nighttime devotional.  I want to be playing the piano only to hear Eli yell from his room "Sing Momma.  Sing!" like he always does.  I want to have family game nights.  Nights of popping in a movie, eating popcorn, and laughing together.


And that requires me to say no to some things.  Things that might otherwise be good, but that are preventing the things that I deem as more important for our family.


This past Saturday Mark took Eli to the rodeo.  Anna opted to stay home with me and Emi ... because she just wanted time with me.  Me.  We watched the Berenstain Bears.  We ate ice cream.  We snuggled together on the couch.  We giggled when Emi woke up at 10:00 refusing to go back to sleep.  And instead of being irritated, we rocked together in the chair, singing, and soaking in sweet Emi.


I've missed so many of these moments because of mediocre yeses.  And as I just typed that last sentence, tears of realization come.  I've been so busy I've missed what's most important.  I don't want my kids to grow up and leave the house saying "We sure were always busy."  I want them to leave knowing time and energy was invested into them, that our yeses were made wisely, that when they play sports, I'll always be there cheering them on yet ensuring that sports don't overtake them and their childhood.  I want them to know that I said no to others for their sake and the sake of our family.


I want to be wise in my decisions and how those decisions affect them, my husband, myself, and those around us.


I'm learning that saying no isn't always bad.


Because saying no frees me up to say yes to what really matters.

Friday, August 22, 2014

When?

By now I think most people have heard of the situation in Ferguson, MO.

I do not tread this topic lightly.  Please know that.

My heart is broken.  A young man is dead.  Whether his death was justified or not (and that's yet to be decided), a life has tragically ended.  And before we start on a tangent of justification or not, let's remind ourselves that just as we don't want people to assume he was wrong because he was black, let's also remember we don't want to assume he was innocent just because he was unarmed.

I want you to take a moment and re-read the first 2 sentences in the above paragraph.

Did you notice that I did not say a black man is dead?

Because, that's where I'm having an issue with this.... this thing called race.

I keep seeing all kinds of articles pop up on my newsfeed.  Articles like "5 black people kill a white couple, but you'll never see that in the news."; "Dear White Mom"; "Black woman kills white boy with a blow torch."  "Unarmed white man killed by black police officer."; "White Privilege".

Will it ever end?

When?

When will this stop?

When are we going to stop making everything about race and instead just see people for people?

We're about to be finished with all of our requirements to adopt.  We're open to adopt a little boy of any race.  ANY.

And it makes me sick to my stomach that one day he's going to grow up in a world where there are potentially "his people" and "our people".

Hear me out.

There are no "your people" and "my people".  There are only people, sweet friends.

Am I naive to think that racism doesn't still exist.  No.  I'm sadly aware that it still does.  Yet I'm also not naive enough to think that reverse racism doesn't exist either.

Everyone is always pointing the finger.

I know that there are instances of abuse of power.  But that happens from all races.

Why are we trying to somehow justify what's going on in Ferguson by saying "Hey, look at this white kid killed by a black person"?

How does that even begin to help?

When is this nonsense going to stop?

The reality is that every single day there are murders and acts of violence perpetuated by all races against all races.

When can we drop the race card and just be Americans?

When can we stop rioting and perpetuating even more violence because we're sad and hurt and angry as if doing any of those things solves anything?

When?

When will we see each other as who we are instead of as what color we are?  When will we drop our arms, embrace each other and work towards a common goal?  When will we stop judging and condemning and instead reach out, hand in hand, and show the love of Christ to those in need?  When will "black churches" and "white churches" cease to exist and we all just stand in unison with hands raised in worship to the One who created us?

I didn't grow up with a lot of diversity.  And if we're being honest, it was basically near none.  Now that I'm older and have moved, that's changed.  I'm surrounded by diversity and it's a nice change.  My kids play with more black and hispanic kids than they do white ones.  And all I see is friendships.  My husband had the privilege of marrying my cousin and her husband.... a black man.  And all I see is a beautiful couple.  Their daughter is bi-racial.  Yet all I see is pure sweetness.  We have friends that have adopted children outside of their race, but I only see a loving, God-honoring family.

Why can't it be that way everywhere, with everyone?

Why do we have to say to "the white mom"?  Why can't we just be moms?  Why do we have to say that the man killed in Ferguson was killed because he was black simply because the officer is white (and I'll be the first to say that if this young man was killed because of his race and/or without just cause, that the officer should face the full extent of the law)?  Why do we have to say that a white couple was killed by a group of black people.  Aren't we all just people?  Aren't these crimes horrible regardless of who they happened to and who killed them?

My heart breaks because we're such a divided country.

When friends, when is it going to stop?

When are people just people and not white or black or brown or blue?

When?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Invincible

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.  Hebrews 9:27
I remember being a teenager.  I thought I could drive 120 mph down the Holland straight-stretch and make it out alive.  Clearly that was true but very stupid.  Please don't ever try that.

I was naive.  I thought I was invincible.

I remember being late for school and traffic being backed up.  My sister took to the turning lane to pass multiple vehicles so we could get to class on time (sorry to rat on ya, Sis.)  :)

Invincible.

I remember letting a friend drive my car and her driving into the oncoming traffic lane for approximately 1/2 mile passing numerous vehicles in a row.  We laughed and laughed.

Invincible.  (Don't do the above either).

I remember going to hang out with my friend and finding myself at a keg party.  Everything imaginable was going on there.  People so drunk they were spilling their next drink they were attempting to mix.  They then got in to cars and drove themselves home.

Invincible.

I remember hanging out at the frat house, witnessing all kinds of godless living.

They felt invincible.

And maybe I just need a disclaimer: don't do any of these things.  It was stupid on my part.  I do realize that you can be at a party or frat/sorority house and not participate in what's going on.  I was one of those people.  I never drank, did drugs, or had sex.  But it wasn't wise.
Abstain from all appearances of evil.  I Thes. 5:22
Here lately, it seems that I can't check Facebook, text messages, or watch TV without being bombarded by devastating news.  Like the text that someones dad died of a heart attack.  Like waking up to find that just 30 minutes down the road 2 trains collided head on.  To scroll through FB and see that a young man fell asleep at the wheel, hit a tree, and was killed... this after his parents have already buried 2 children.  To see that Robin Williams committed suicide.  To read about the thousands of Christians being slaughtered by ISIS.  To see how Israel is being attacked while we sit idly by.  To get text message after text message from the newspaper telling me of 2 dead in a collision, truck overturned, house fire on such and such street.  To read about the ordeal in Ferguson, MO, the Ebola outbreak killing thousands, to hear of someone in my class tell of her 2 month old grandson dying of SIDS.

It seems it never ends.

Death.

It's real.  As one of my pastors used to say "Statistics show that 1 out of 1 die."

It's true you know.  Baring that Jesus doesn't come back soon (which seems closer than ever), we're all going to meet death, face to face.

Yet I'm willing to bet that none of us sit around thinking on that thought.  Each day I wake up, get my kids ready for school and send them off with hugs and kisses expecting that in 7 hours they'll be safely back in my arms.  Do you know how many children for which that hasn't been true?  School shootings, bus crashes, children being run over....

I get in my car, drive to the store, drive 14 hrs. to Texas, to church, to work, always expecting that I'll return safely.  Yet everything I see and hear and read flies in the face of this.

I get up each morning thinking that I'll be here to greet my husband at the door, cook dinner for my family.  But how many people never make it through the day?

How many people fall over dead of a sudden heart attack?  How many people die in car crashes?  How many people get a fatal diagnosis?  How many people are robbed and killed?  How many are dying in their sleep?

Thousands upon thousands each and every day.

Yet we live as if we're invincible.  We live as if that won't happen to us.  We're going to live until we're 92 and die peacefully in our sleep, hand in hand with our spouse, who also died peacefully in their sleep.  The Notebook, anyone?

It doesn't happen like that, at least not very often.

Each and every day we wake up could be our last.

Brain aneurysm.  Heart attack.  Car wreck.  Act of violence.  Blood clot.  SIDS.  Allergic reaction.  Tornado.  Straight line winds blowing a tree on your house.  Random person opening fire in a movie theater.  Plane crash.  Industrial accident where you or someone you love works.  Fire.

Do I need to go on?

Now, am I promoting that we walk around being morbid all the time?  Of course not.

But do I think we sometimes need a good dose of reality?  Yes.

And the reality is that death could be knocking at our door sooner than we realize.  No one wakes up and says "I think I'm going to die in a wreck today" but tragically, thousands do.

I remember sitting next to my husband at the computer, planning a trip to Disney World when I got the call that my grandma had died of a heart attack.  I remember riding to Wal-Mart with my mother-in-law when I got the call that they had found my grandpa  - dead of a heart attack.  I remember laying in bed as a 12 year old girl, hearing my dad say "She's dead?  You're sure?"  I remember being a 4 year old little girl sitting through my Granddad's funeral in the arms of my cousin, Mike.  I remember getting the call that my adopted Grandma had had a brain aneurysm and wouldn't make it much longer, sitting beside her in the hospital room and saying my goodbyes.  I remember getting the call and hearing the words "It appears you've had a miscarriage."  I remember laying on a table, waiting excitedly to see our sweet #4 and instead seeing a blank screen and a mass (our baby) in one of my tubes.  I remember standing beside my best friend as she buried her son.  Sitting in a funeral home watching our other friends bury their son.  I remember standing beside graveside after graveside of funerals my husband has preached.

Death is certain my friends.

And just as certain as death is, so is eternity.

I'm reminded that there are millions upon millions who don't know Jesus.  I'm reminded that there are millions who claim they do, but don't, and that one day they'll stand before the judgment throne and hear "Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!"  Matt. 7:23

And that scares me.  Makes me sick to my stomach.  Because there are family and friends and acquaintances and people I don't really like (let's just be honest, you have some of these people too) but still love enough to want their eternity in Christ sealed that fit into one of these categories.

So I guess the bigger question is: do you know?  Do you have a deep down, 100% assurance that if you were to die today that your eternity is sealed in Christ?

And please note: I did not ask if you prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, are on a church roster somewhere, or if you've been baptized.  None of those have ever saved anyone apart from repentance and belief in the completed work of Christ.

Given that death is a certainty, shouldn't you know?

Given that most deaths are sudden and unexpected, shouldn't you take Paul's advice and "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith." II Cor. 13:5.

Because after all, I'm not invincible.

Neither are you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Liar Liar

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."  John 8:44

I've been struggling lately.  Things that are normal and routine seem difficult and labored.  Minor annoyances have grated on my last nerve.  I've been impatient and find myself going to my kids to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

I'm constantly bombarded with thoughts such as "You're such a failure."  "You'll never be any better."  "Why do you even bother?"

Our two older kids spent all of last week at their grandparents'.  I must say, it was a welcome break.  In 8 days I only did 2 loads of dishes and 1 load of laundry.  I soaked in one on one time with Emilee.  I relaxed.  I read.  I exercised.  I took it easy.

Then they came home.  And y'all, if you don't believe in Grandma Detox, let me send my kids to you next time when they return.  Mercy.  It's been rough.  And never mind that when they returned, Anna walked straight past me in a beeline for Emilee.  That's who she missed.

"See, I told you.  You're worthless."  "No one wants you, you're just what they got stuck with."

I'm struggling.  I'm trying and trying and trying, feeling like more of a failure each day.  And the thing about getting a break, is that for a moment you think you have it all together.  Then they come home and they remind you just how much you don't have it all together.  They remind you just how much more work is to be done.  They're a reminder of all your failures.

"I told you so."  "I mean, how many times do we have to have this conversation?  You really suck at this parenting thing."  "Truth be told, there's a lot you're not good at."  

For instance, ending that last sentence in a preposition.

But I digress.

I love my kids.  They are my world.  Yet there are times I feel like I've failed them.  There are times they're a mirror, reflecting all of my negative traits, reminding me of everything I don't like about myself.

"And you want to add another kid into the mix?  Hahahahahaha."  "You're a joke."

A joke....

It certainly feels like that at times.

Yet deep down, if I have my listening ears on, I can hear it.

"He's the father of lies.  He can't be trusted."

I've believed a lie.  Well, multiple lies if we're being honest.  Which if we're speaking about lies, honesty is kind of important, right?

I have believed that I'm a failure.  But you know what?

I have failed but I am not a failure.

Failures are those who refuse to get back up and try again.

I refuse.  Hear me out, I refuse to pack it up and give in.  I absolutely, positively refuse.

I have let these lies so affect me that they in turn have created more failures.  That's the thing about believing lies - they nearly always make things worse.  They fuel what you're already anxious about, seemingly confirming the very lie you've been told.

I'm tired of it and I'm breaking free.

I have believed that I'm beyond hope when the Giver of Hope resides in me.  IN ME!  He lives inside of me, every single day, beckoning me to go to Him for renewal and the right perspective.  

I have believed that who I am is tied up in a number on the scale, in the clothes I wear, the car I drive, or the house I live in instead of in Who has given me everything... Who is my everything.

I have believed that because I'm scared about adopting that it makes me unqualified.  Yet Christ has adopted me into His family.  His heart is with the widows and the orphans.  And how can I believe a lie when if He commands us to care for the widows and the orphans (which He does) then I have to believe that He will enable us to do it?

I'm tired of believing lies.

And you know what?  When I begin seeing them for what they are, I feel a resurgence rising up in me.  I feel like fighting back and karate chopping Satan in the throat.  The failures no longer define me, they only serve to fuel change.  The whispers of the enemy become inaudible.  And I find myself digging deep and doing this thing called life.

I don't know where you are in life right now, friends.  What I do know is that it's so easy to believe the lies of the enemy.  So whatever your situation is, let's call the father of lies out.

When you're starring at the scale and it mocks you, saying your worth is in a number....

Liar Liar

When you're tempted to buy a new outfit that's not in the budget because he's lied to you and told you that how you dress is what makes you beautiful....

Liar Liar

When your marriage is in shambles and you don't know how you can possibly make it another day, much less "til death do us part"....

Liar Liar

When your kids are acting out and you feel like you're a failure and it's hopeless....

Liar Liar

When God has asked you to step out in faith and do something out of your comfort zone and you're scared that you can't do what He's called you to do (and will subsequently enable you to do)....

Liar Liar

When your addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, and/or sex and he's told you you're beyond hope ....

Liar Liar

When you've been wronged and he's whispered that vengeance and bitterness are your best options....

Liar Liar

When your mom is on her deathbed, breathing her last and he whispers that God has abandoned you ....

Liar Liar

When you're chin deep in grief and feel alone, thinking He ignored all your petitions....

Liar Liar

When the car breaks down, the bank is running low, the refrigerator is empty and you're wondering where He is.....

Liar Liar

I don't know about you, but I'm choosing to believe the Truth.

Wherever you are in life right now, the answer is always and only rooted in The Truth.

Let's choose carefully.