Monday, November 28, 2011
I grew up believing in Santa Claus but not knowing a whole lot about God. It wasn't until jr. high/high school that I began attending youth group with friends and began my relationship with Him. And you know what, I have never confused the two.
One of my most vivid childhood memories is from a Christmas Eve night many years ago. The house was dark and everyone was asleep when I was awakened by the sound of something in the house. When I peeked around the corner into our living room, there was a fire in the fireplace and Santa was putting a present behind our lighted tree. I didn't want to get caught, so I scurried back to bed and pretended to be asleep. I even heard the bells on Santa's sleigh as he departed for the next house on his list.
There are few things you should know about this story. First of all, my mother would never have left the Christmas tree lights on overnight. I am not even sure the fireplace in our house was functional because I don't remember there ever being a fire in there with the exception of that night, and there was no dad, relative or family friend who would have dressed up to be Santa at our house in the middle of the night. You should also know that the doll that I had asked Santa for was in that exact spot when presents were opened that Christmas morning.
The faith of a child.
I am not a child anymore and there has been more than enough reality in my life to crush the spirit of the little girl who continues to believe that she saw Santa in her living room. My faith is now in a Savior who gave me the greatest gift ever - not a doll that I no longer possess - but His life for mine. A belief that there is more to life than any toy or gift that can be brought in a sleigh, and a promise that one day, instead of hiding from my benefactor, I will run into His open arms.
Jesus really is the reason for the season, but I never want to lose the childlike wonder I had for Christmas when I was a little girl peeking around the corner at the picture perfect Christmas scene unfolding in my living room. And who knows, I might even write a letter to Santa this year. Why? Because it is fun to believe. :)
Friday, November 18, 2011
Yesterday, I was blessed to attend Catalyst One Day in Chicago with several members of the PCC staff. It was an awesome experience. I fell in love with Catalyst last year when we were able to attend the full-blown conference in Atlanta. Yesterday we were treated to an all day event featuring Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, with a guest presentation with Bill Hybels of Willow Creek. The focus was on creating a healthy culture, and while I think we did gain a lot as a staff, I gained a lot personally as well.
I was excited about the event because Andy and Craig were my two favorite speakers at Catalyst last year. They have such a down to earth style of teaching and an honesty that is disarming. They shared a lot of great information that I am sure we will process in terms of if and how it applies to Pathway, but I was also challenged to rethink my priorities.
I struggle to disconnect. I don't know if it is the whole women's spaghetti brain thing or my insecurity, but I have trouble leaving work at work. I have been doing much better about leaving the actual work there, but it is hard to reign in my brain and push out all the work stuff to really refresh and be present at home.
That has to stop. There are so many other things that are important to me that are being pushed aside. Moving into the holidays, I want to be able to decorate, bake, shop and not feel like I have to cram it in here and there. With a 25 hour a week schedule, one wouldn't think that would be a problem, but it has been becoming so.
I have also been reminded of the importance of relationships. It's not that I had forgotten, but in the busyness of the everyday, relationships often get taken for granted. And then a friend (or two) is diagnosed with cancer. A family member is hospitalized with a life-threatening condition. A friend moves away. I run into a close friend and realize that I haven't talked with her in months, or I realize I haven't taken the time to visit another close friend who lives far away in years.
I love my job. I love the people with whom I get to serve. I love our church. But...I need to to be making time in my life for my job and lately I have been taking time from my job to live my life. This is not the culture I want to create for my family, or for myself. And the sad part is, I am fully responsible for it. It isn't expected of me. I have just allowed more and more of my thoughts to be taken captive by work than by home.
Yesterday's conference was more than a catalyst in name only. It was the catalyst I needed to realize what I was allowing to happen to make it stop. Are Andy and Craig still my favorites? Absolutely. I think I may owe them my life.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
...that on top of the fibromyalgia I have bone on bone in my neck and in my lower back. That the constant pain affects my moods, but that it can't control them.
...that I have a child with special needs, and although he is fully functional and many aren't aware of all that we go through, it is a difficult road to walk.
...that I am 45. That my mom may not always approve of decisions I make, but that I have to do what is right for me.
...that I struggle with a seasonal affective disorder which sneaks up and drags me down. That I need to watch for the symptoms and catch it before it gains control.
...that I have amazing family and friends that are standing behind and believe in me even when I struggle with the deep-rooted insecurity and fear. That my value to them in not found in what I do or how I feel, but in who I am...and who I am is ok.
God never forgets. He looks at me through eyes of love, and He wants the very best for me. He wants to carry those burdens that I tend to hold on to - thinking of them as "my cross to bear." Does it hurt Him when He asks to carry those burdens, but I hang on to them? Is He disappointed? Wasn't His cross enough?
The best part is, regardless of how I feel...regardless of the circumstances...regardless of how tight I am holding on, He is right there waiting for me to let go and let Him. And in that, there is freedom to be found. All I have to do is...remember.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The retreat was a great getaway, although I missed several of my friends who are usually able to be there. My friend, Betsy, and I had fun chatting, scrapbooking and making friends with the group of ladies seated next to us. I completed 25 pages which is a little low for me, but there were no "drop-in" pages which tend to run the numbers up. I would definitely call it a successful weekend. Michael is now ALMOST a junior in his book (he's a senior in real-life), and I made a little more progress in my Serbia album as well.
I also did a lot of thinking, and I realized a few things about myself. (Seriously, those of you who know me, don't laugh.)
- I feel responsible for EVERYTHING.
- I am an pleaser. (Is that the right word?) I take responsibility for everyone else's well-being - emotionally and physically - often to the detriment of my own.
- Sometimes I just want someone to realize that I have struggles too.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Life with Jaron has always been a bit of a challenge. Shortly after our first ultrasound, we were told that there was a possibility that Jaron's life would be very short lived. There were indicators that our baby might be a trisomy 13 baby. Prior to that point, I had never even heard of that. It was suggested that we undergo an amniocentesis so that we would know what we were facing. We assured her that whatever the outcome, we would be having our baby. We agreed to the test as it would affect what medical staff would be ready at the birth. It was that test that told us that Jaron would be a boy - and that he was NOT trisomy 13.
As much as I had hoped that was the end of our worries and that our beautiful baby boy would be fine, that hasn't exactly been the case. He has struggled with developmental motor skill delays which have affected every aspect of his growth. He is smaller than many of the boys his age, and struggles with some speech issues, which added to the motor skill has caused him, and his mom, more than a few tears.
And now, with the onset of periodic seizures, it is just one more strike against this sweet, little boy who wants nothing more than to be a normal 5th grader and be included with other boys his age.
I feel responsible. If I had been more careful during his pregnancy would things be different? If he hadn't fallen and hit his head on that trip to Canada would he be okay? If I had spent more time playing with him when he was a baby, would his motor skills be delayed?
I find myself at a very fine line. My faith tells me that Jaron is the unique individual that God designed him to be. We are blessed to have such a sweet-hearted little one who makes us laugh on a regular basis. One who causes us to slow down because he truly only knows one speed - Jaron speed - and that he is growing at precisely the right rate for Jaron.
But...there are so many voices that tell me otherwise. The voice of insecurity that tells me that I am not enough. The voice of condemnation that tells me if I had been a better mom, things would be different. Even the voices of others who seem to know so much more than I do about being a good parent.
I know that in this, as in every aspect of my life, I have a choice as to which voices I listen to. But if I am honest, this is probably the area that I struggle the most with making the right choice. Because in the quiet moments - moments like tonight - those other voices are so loud, and the evidence seems to be in their favor. Yet, God continues to speak in that still small voice reminding me that He is always in control, and He is bigger than even this.
I hope His voice wins the battle tonight because this mom's heart is struggling.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I have not exactly been joy-full lately. That's mostly why I haven't been posting. Kind of the..."If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" mentality. I've been really, really busy with work, and processing a lot of things. My schedule has been in overdrive too.
John Ortberg refers to my condition as "hurry sickness." It's like multi-tasking on steroids, and in all honesty, I don't like it. There has been no down time, and there is a never-ending list of things to do that taunts me all the time. It's not fun. It's not healthy either.
So, this weekend I ran away. Actually, I went to visit a friend, and although our visit was cut short by responsibilities at church, the time we spent together was good for both of us. There was a lot of laughing, great shopping, Chick-fil-a and Panda Express. It's something we should do on a regular basis, but the three hour distance, along with both our busy schedules, prevent it as often as we would like.
In my last post, I mentioned Eric and Tyler's message on community. One of the questions that came out of that message was "What is my 'here'?" I have been thinking a lot about that. If I were to sum it up I would say that my here includes a lot of upside down priorities and hurt feelings. I have allowed circumstances and unresolved issues to steal my joy. I chose to let my "here" cause me to sin.
The good news is that there is still a "there." For me, it is the spiritual discipline of slowing. It involves stepping back from the "hurry" and resting in the knowledge that who I am in Christ is enough. For me, it's more than resting, it's learning that who I am in Christ is enough. I cannot do everything that I am being asked to do, and that is okay. Who I am is not dependent on what I do. (That's pretty hard for this perfectionist to get her head around. :))
While I have made massive strides in reclaiming my joy this weekend, I know that the road to my "there" is probably going to be a long one. At least now, I have a map, and the plan is to rekindle my joy and take the scenic route - want to come along? :)
Sunday, September 18, 2011
It's safe little community where I can be me without fear because the worst thing that can happen is that nobody repins my pins. Being who I am in real life isn't quite that simple. There is a lot more at stake than lack of pinning.
The message a PCC today was entitled "Don't Go Alone." It was a message on the importance of community, and yet again, it made me cry. (Seriously, what is wrong with me?!) Eric and Tyler did a great job of showing how community takes us from here to there - or from where we are now to the place that God is calling us to be. Their message was simple. Community moves us from:
- complacency to commitment through accountability.
- hypocrisy to transparency through authenticity.
- judgement to understanding through acceptance.
- vulnerability to security through assurance.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
That isn't the way it works. The appointments will continue to come, the children will continue to bicker, there will always be noise, and I will make mistakes. God doesn't always calm the storm, but he wants me to...just stop.
This morning's sermon at PCC made me cry. I went into it not realizing how applicable it would be to my life, but as Pastor Ron wrapped up his sermon series on Sandyland, he hit a homerun to my heart. Today's message was on time - well actually, it was on taking time to rest.
- Rest to make room for God
- Rest to embrace my limits
- Rest to cultivate a deeper trust in God
- Rest to prioritize what really matters
Friday, September 2, 2011
This week has been really difficult. I have mentioned some eminent changes in past posts, and I haven't handled them well. My comfort zone isn't comfortable anymore, and even though it seems like nothing has changed from the outside, things have changed considerably on the inside. For one thing I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that maybe I haven't grown as much since Serbia as I had hoped. There is still a lot of insecurity in this girl, and that insecurity can get her into a lot of trouble.
I have also come to realize that men scare me. Again, don't get me wrong, I love my husband, and I think men are a great gift from God, but I don't know how to relate to them. I am afraid of overstepping my bounds and not being who they want me to be. I've never had a dad or a big brother, and I carry a pretty deep scar from a previous relationship that often leaves me on unstable ground. The pleaser in me is a nightmare because I always fear that I am never enough - always and never. Two of those words that shouldn't be part of anyone's vocabulary, and yet they are so prevalent in mine.
These are the times when faith is hard is for me. I know that God is big and sovereign and that He loves me no matter what, but when I look at things like growing up without a dad I struggle. This can't be fixed. I am forever broken. I will never know what it is like to grow up with a dad who is proud of me. My grandfather was great, but he wasn't my dad. I will never know what it is like to have a dad or a big brother who watches out for me. My husband is great, but he's not my dad, and he has a sister.
Scripture tells me that I have a heavenly Father who has never left me, and I am thankful for that, but I am not sure that a heavenly Father can fill the void left by an earthly one. Maybe that's my lack of faith. In all honesty, I didn't know my heavenly Father until I was in high school either. I know He was there, but he wasn't a part of my life.
This is my biggest struggle. It is the thing that undercuts me every time. It is the thing that so often keeps me on the outside looking in.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
As he was sharing about what he will be teaching the kids over the course of the year, he said in a side note that the word "anxious" comes from two words meaning "divided mind". Those two words - divided mind - nailed where I am right now. And, of course, those ever popular Philippians 4 verses popped into my head:
Do not have a "divided mind." How often have I used the words "I am torn between" or something similar. But God says not to have a divided mind. He wants us to tell Him about our situation, seek His intervention, thank Him for His love and concern for us, and share our heart.
Don't get me wrong. I don't believe that God is a cosmic Santa Claus, but I do believe that He wants us to be honest with Him. He knows what we want anyway. But, I believe the second part of the verse brings an even bigger promise than that.
We will have a peace that we cannot explain that will guard our hearts as long as we allow Him to lead. To guard means "to protect." There is SO much comfort in that!
I have been a Christian for a long time, and I am certain that I have heard numerous sermons on these verses - and I might have even heard that anxious means "divided mind," but apparently I wasn't listening. I have never understood it as I did tonight in that youth room.
Once again, God showed up and showed off when I least expected it and reminded me that I am not alone. Love that!
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
I love to read. Although I can't say that I am an avid reader like my friends at Two Bibliomaniacs, I love to get lost in a book. Typically though, I am not lost for long because I am also a quick reader. I am not a speed-reader, but it doesn't take me long to read a book...usually.
Do You Think I Am Beautiful, by Angela Thomas, is an exception. At a mere 167 pages on my Nook, it feels as though it is an obstacle that I may never overcome. Don't get me wrong. It is an AMAZING book. She writes with an honesty and openness that makes for an easy read, and the material is really good. I highly recommend it. It just hits a little too close to home.
When we first started going to PCC it seemed that every week Pastor Ron preached on something that I had been dealing specifically with the week before. It was almost like he had been listening in to the happenings of our home. As unnerving as that was, this is worse. It is as if Angela Thomas has been living in my head.
I saw Angela in person a few months ago, before I had read any of her material. Her story captivated me, but nothing like her writing. Her writing made me cry. I never cry when I read.
A couple of days this week, I have used her book as a devotional. Today, there was a passage that stuck out to me that I wanted to share. She was talking about the voices in her (my) head, and she likened them to the Peanuts character, Pigpen.
"Pigpen is surrounded by a cloud of dust everywhere he goes. That's me - just dust. So dusty, in fact, that I take the cloud with me wherever I go. So human. So prone to go forward and then turn around and move backward. I get it some days and then forget it on others. Thank goodness that God remembers I am just dust. His grace covers my inadequacies. His compassion waits patiently." Do You Think I Am Beautiful, Pg. 77
I get it some days...and then forget it on others. This could be the tagline of my life, and it is so frustrating. And to make matters worse, my insecurities scream on the days that I forget. They scream that I am not enough and that I am not "worth it."
There is part of me that wishes I had read this book before I saw Angela in person; but then again, I may never finish it, so I might never have seen her. Anyway…. There is part of me that would like to sit down and talk to her, but a bigger part of me is afraid of what she would see in me that I am not willing to admit.
I am not sure how someone who I have never actually met in person could know me better than I know myself, but I am thankful that God is patient and that He puts people like Angela in my life to remind me that I am not alone and that I am “worth it” to Him.