Friday, September 27, 2013

Currently . . .

Listening to : a sermon series called Starting Point from North Point Community Church. You can find them here

Reading :   I am really enjoying the second book in the Sword and The Staff trilogy called The Hero's Lot 

Waiting For : some BIG life changes coming around the bend. More on that in the future.

 Excited About : Fall. It's my favorite season and I am really enjoying being outside in the cooler weather as the heat and I do not get along. We have had a few fires in the back yard and there is nothing better to me than drinking coffee out of a thermos while roasting marshmallows around a nice fire. I am excited to start making comfort food for dinner again; lasagne soup, roast in the crockpot, squash and sweet potatoes, stew and biscuits. Mmmm.

Trying : To get myself back into the habit of doing devotions every morning. I had gotten out of the habit because sleep seemed to be more of a priority for a while, but God has decided to help me with that by having Emma decide to wake up at 5 am every single morning now. At first I was really annoyed, but I have started to take advantage of the time and spend 30 minutes with God every morning after I tend to Emma and I have to say, it's definitely worth the sleep loss.

I remember hearing something once, I think it was Beth Moore who said that God just can't WAIT for you to get up in the morning to talk to you. She said she encourages people to think about God, anxiously waiting for them as if He is a child on Christmas morning, to get up and spend time with Him. It is definitely a helpful mental picture to have when you are tempted to hit the snooze button. "I can't sleep in, God's waiting for me!"

Working On : Some fall decor for the shop. A cute lantern, some candlestick cloches.

Enjoying: My "Leaves" candle from Bath and Bodyworks.

Wearing: This necklace that I got when I hosted a Lia Sophia party . . . it seems to go with everything and I love a good long necklace!

Planning: My Christmas shopping. I've already started, but I would like to finish our gifts for the girls in October so that when the Christmas panic sets in, we at least have them taken care of already. We decided to try following the Want, Need, Wear, Read idea this year and so far we are loving it. In case you aren't familiar with it - each child receives 4 presents; something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. I am finding having some guidelines is very helpful, and I feel like we are much more purposeful in our choices rather than "This crappy plastic toy looks neat, lets get it!"

Starting: I have been slowly working my way around the house, scrubbing floors by hand. I mop regularly but nothing is quite like a good hands and knees scrub! This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I have a kneecap that dislocates frequently, which means that I am not allowed to actually get down on my hands and knees. Ever. So I scrub floors bending over at the waist, which as you can imagine is pretty hard on your back! It's tough to do, but it feels good to finally give my floors a good deep down clean.

Wishing :  I could be sure of God's will in a certain area of my life. I have been praying and seeking His will for several months now over a particular decision I have to make and I feel as though He is silent about it.

Doing : A lot of working! I currently work about 50 hours a week running my daycare if you include all of my hours cleaning, shopping, and preparing. And I also work 12-18 hours a month at a small local shop where I sell things I have refinished or created. Another 5-10 hours a month are spent actually creating those things, and I am about to get a lot busier with it so those hours are going to expand. I am very grateful that the majority of those hours are still spent at home with my girls!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"What are you doing in there?"

I keep a journal. Not very well, but I do keep it. I go for weeks without writing anything, and other days I furiously scribble half a dozen pages. Whenever I feel like I have something on my heart that I want to remember or that I need to work out, I write it. Writing it out makes things that I want to remember "stick" better, and it helps me sort out my feelings and thoughts when they seem like nothing but a jumbled mess.

Yesterday I flipped through the last few months of writings.

I don't know how I missed it all this time. Every single entry had a common thread. Every single page was speaking to me about the same thing. Every quote I had copied down, every verse I wrote out, every note from every sermon I listened to.

All of it, read together in one continuous stream was such a powerful message FROM myself TO myself that I actually had to stop reading and take a break because my brain was on overload.

How many times I have complained that I felt like God was silent in my life lately. Like this is a season of nothing but waiting, learning to be content in my present circumstances.

And I was so wrong.

All this time, God has been whispering the same message to me over and over again and I have been missing it. Well, I partially heard I guess. Enough to think "that's interesting" and write it down, but I never actually GOT what God was saying to me.

I'm going to try to share what I found in the pages of my journal. Forgive me if it is a bit rambly and doesn't make sense. It makes sense to me and that's what matters most.

God is calling me out.

For so long, I have felt depressed and sad. Stuck. Stuck is the perfect word.  Stuck in a phase of life that is hard. The days are long. Spinning my wheels in several different areas of my life where I WANT to move forward, make progress, and CHANGE. But I felt like God was telling me to wait and be patient.

Why did I think that? He was clearly telling me otherwise.

I was listening to a sermon this morning that summed it up beautifully. When life gets overwhelming, we always run. Sometimes we run into the arms of our heavenly Father and other times we retreat into our cave.

I've been hiding in my cave, and God has been standing at the entrance calling me out.

Elijah did it in 1 Kings chapter 19.

"There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Earlier in the chapter we learn that Elijah was afraid for his life. He ran and hid in a cave. He didn't trust his God to keep him safe, and instead went running deep into a cave. Until God came and stood at the mouth of the cave and asked him "What are you doing here?" and called him out.

David hid in a cave too. 1 Samuel chapter 22

"David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam."

David was running scared from King Saul. He didn't trust God to keep him safe or to guide his steps, so instead he hid. And when he left the cave he only did so he could hide in the stronghold of Mizpeh. Only when the prophet Gad said "Do not remain in the stronghold; depart" did he finally get up the courage to come out of hiding.

Your cave is probably different than my cave, but we all have them. Your cave might be some form of addiction. It might be an attitude you carry around like a backpack. Your cave is whatever you run to when you are not OK. It's your substitute for God - whether it's that brownie you stuff into your mouth after a stressful phone call or that impulse you have to pull into the nearest shopping mall when you have a bad day. A shopping mall can be a cave. Alcohol can be a cave. Food can be a cave.

I've been in a cave, of sorts, for a long time. And God has been standing at the entrance saying "Why are you hiding in there? Why are you afraid? Don't you know I've got this? Come to me, my arms are where you need to run. Don't run farther away from me when life get hard, run TO me. I'm out here waiting for you but you have to come out of the cave first."

My journal is evidence of what God has been trying to tell me. Telling me to stop hiding and trust him, run to my heavenly Father who is ON MY SIDE.

Here are some snippets. . .

-God has good plans for me and my future. He is faithful even when I'm not

-So we can say with confidence, the Lord is my help. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Hebrews 13:6

-The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in You, for You O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10

-It is God's very nature to give to His children. Do nott doubt for a moment that He is a giving God with a heart that looks to bless, encourage, empower, and love you.

-Shake off complacency. God wants to lead and guide you. He wants to prompt you about what to do and what not to do (quote from Joyce Meyer)

-Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

-Don't mistake God's patience for His absence. His timing is perfect and His presence is constant.

It goes on and on. God was repeatedly drawing my attention to the same message . . . turn to Him. Stop running, stop hiding and just turn to Him. Step out of the cave and be bold. Throw off complacency and start moving forward. Be bold! Quit running into the shadows and step into the light.

So this week I am committing to stop just writing down verses and nodding my head in agreement to powerful sermons. this week I am grabbing hold of His promises with both hands and stepping out of the cave.

It might be a little bit scary. Our cave is what we like to fall back on when life gets rough. Without our cave we lose our coping mechanism, our security blanket. But I know I am replacing my security blanket with something much better.

I'm stepping out of my cave.

And into the arms of my Father.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My "Being OK" story . . .

7 months ago, I would have said I was fine. Not GREAT, but fine. Life was busy and sometimes stressful, but overall I was enjoying life. I was OK with where I was.

7 months ago, we welcomed our second daughter into the world. And she was perfect, and I loved her fiercely from the first second I laid eyes on her. She has been an absolute joy ever since.

But along with that amazing little bundle, came a flood of hormones and emotions that weren't so amazing.

The first weeks after Emma was born I was very emotional. I remember one night when she was a few weeks old, my husband came home from work and we were having a conversation about how his day was. Tears began to roll onto my cheeks, unbidden. I kept reassuring him that "No, no, I am fine. I'm not even sad I just can't stop crying!"

The random crying jags came to an end, but the crazy hormonal roller coaster only accelerated. I went back to work running a busy daycare in the lower level of our home when Emma was not quite 8 weeks old and the added stress and pressure of suddenly working 9-10 hour days combined with my already fragile emotional state brought me to my breaking point.

There wasn't one particular thing that was awful. Work, although very busy and demanding of me, was going well and I was getting to spend my days with my daughters. My husband was home on parental leave lending a hand and helping with Emma during the night so I could get some sleep. My older daughter had adjusted well to the new baby and Emma was proving to be a very contented happy little thing.

So what was it? I don't know exactly. I think it was just too much of everything. Adjusting to being a mom of 2, instead of 1. Having a husband suddenly around and underfoot, messing with my routine and my quiet during the day. Going back to work before I was ready because I felt pressured to. Working too many hours on too little sleep. Doing all of the cleaning and housework after becoming accustomed to a weekly housekeeper that we could no longer afford, because of the husband's parental leave. Taking on a second job on the weekends so that we can afford a bathroom renovation.

All I know is, I suddenly found myself sobbing behind the wheel of my car in the driveway late at night so no one would hear me. Crying myself to sleep at night. Struggling to get up in the mornings because I was dreading the day ahead. Slogging my way through each day, losing my temper, having a bad attitude, and feeling incredibly sorry for myself all the while.

I had added 29 Lincoln Avenue to my blog reader, after reading "Hope For The Weary Mom" earlier this year and one morning I was scrolling through my blog reader when I saw "How To Be OK With Where You Are" in big letters.

 I froze.

 I stared at the screen for a minute and then clicked.

Every Monday in the weeks that followed I went to my computer and read Stacey's posts. Really read them. Digested them. Took notes, copied quotes into my prayer journal.

And I prayed.

It took me a few weeks but one night I finally admitted to my husband and, in a way, to myself that I was not ok. And I admitted it to God. Like Stacey said, He already knows - you can't surprise God! Even if He wasn't surprised, there is a freedom in admitting it to Him that comes with humbling yourself enough to look, truly look, at yourself. He looks down and sees us, buried up to our neck in our mess, and yet so many times we just dress it up and pretend it's not really there.

It's only when we finally acknowledge just what a fine mess we are in that He can rescue us.

And He is doing just that. As I work through removing my veil of fine and giving it up to the One who knows anyway, I am finding release. I would be lying if I said I sit here, totally ok and happy with where I am. I'm not. Not yet.

But God isn't finished with me yet. He's still working. And I am inching my way out of this mess . . . some days clinging, rather than standing on the promises. Some days the comparison monster rears it ugly head and I find myself fighting insane jealousy toward my true "stay at home mom" friends who don't work 2 jobs. Some days I fail miserably at everything and I go to bed feeling like a total failure and I am not even sure where I am going to find the energy to face the morning.

But He is always faithful. I may be stumbling and taking steps in the wrong direction half the time, but He is leading me out of this.

You can buy Stacey's new book on Amazon!

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up. God is our salvation.

 -Psalm 68:19

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