Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Everyday Easter

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witness, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition for sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1-3

I'm so glad God is so very patient with me, because he sure has his work cut out for him with this daughter. I am a work in progress to say the least. I am ashamed to admit it but on the very weekend that we were celebrating Christ dying on the cross, I decided to have a little pity party for myself. My husband (who works very hard for our family and deserves a little nap after his 60 hour work weeks), fell asleep right in the middle of the living room (a feat in itself in a home with four small children might I add!.) My mind immediately went to "Well that's not fair! I was up with the baby early, then up before him with the big boys. I've been packing all week plus I cooked a big Easter meal today and did all the clean up and I'M TIRED TOO! Nobody around here cares if I get enough sleep and, well, THIS ISN'T FAIR!"

Thankfully, the Lord stopped me in my tracks, right then and there. Before I had time to let myself wallow and whine any longer, I immediately heard him:

"REALLY?! SERIOUSLY?! Not FAIR? There was NOTHING FAIR about the cross."

And that was it, pity party over. Self in check.

Ever thought about that? That Jesus not once said "Father- this isn't fair! I don't want to go through this tortue & humiliation & pain for these people. These are their sins, not mine. And most of them don't even love me!" He did it because he loved us more than we can even imagine!

Thank you for Easter. What an awesome reminder of your awesome, unselfish, undying love for us. Help me remember the cross every single day. Help me remember that my daily annoyances and small troubles in NO WAY constitute a bad attitude. Help me remember that the sacrifices I make daily in NO WAY compare to the sacrifice you made for me, before I even loved you. Lord, thank you for the reminder that I must surrender to you DAILY. I must live in an attitude of Thanksgiving to you, for the more I focus on your goodness the less I am able to focus on my troubles, and am able to rise above my circumstances to a place of living in your joy and peace. Thank you for your constant work and progress with me. Thank you for the cross.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clean Hands, Messy House

For the past two years God has been dealing with my heart on the issues of a clean home. Anyone with children knows it is impossible to keep your house tidy, unless you want to spend every minute of every day doing some sort of housework. I explained it to my husband (who is a wheel allignment tech.) that it would be like someone going behind him and re-alligning each wheel just as he had finished it and moved onto the next; he would be working in circles all day long. I think he finally got my frusteration when I pointed that out to him.

But that's what I did. For two long years, I worked in circles trying to keep my home clean. I honestly thought it was one of the reasons I stayed home, to keep house.

First and foremost, a clean home is so peaceful. In order to keep my stress level down I needed to keep my home clean & tidy. It was one thing that I could (try to) control around here and I poured all my energy into keeping up with the housework.

Not only did I find peace in a clean home, but I also took pride in my home and keeping it clean & decorated nicely. Since I do not have a career I found a lot of self-worth in my home. I liked that surprised looked on people's faces when they enter into a home full of boys to find that it, surprisingly, had not caved in ontop of itself, but it was clean too!

And then I realize two things; my peace cannot and should not come from anything other than God. God's peace is not conditional, it means I get to be peaceful no matter the circumstance, clean home or not! I also never realized that taking pride in my home was a sin, but it was. The Bible warns us over and over again about pride. It says in Proverbs 16:18 that pride comes before destruction, and again in Ezekial 7 it says "They took pride in their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols. They made it into vile images; therefore I will make it a thing unclean for them." meaning what they took pride in became their idol,they put it before God and so it became a sin. Especially on those occasions where I chose to do housework rather than spending time with God. I kept putting off my quite time with the Lord because I was incapable of resting when there was so much to do around me!

And let's just say I wasn't much fun to be around if my house was messy. I became very anxious, frusterated, stressed & grumpy. I didn't have any joy in hosting & entertaining beacause instead of enjoying my company, I only saw the messes that were left behind and all the work that was left for me to do.

Finally I had enough of working in circles and having a peace that was contingent upon a clean & orderly home. I looked around me and realized that some of the most joyous, peaceful and hospitable women had less than perfect homes- I wanted that freedom! So I started praying to God to change my heart, to give me peace amidst the mess, and slowly but surely he did.

And then one day God speak to me that cooking & cleaning were the LEAST important things I do as a Mom. I don't stay home with my kids to keep the house clean, prepare meals for everyone and make sure everything around here is orderly. I stay home to be with my kids, to be the one that teaches & guides & loves on them all day long.

Suddenly it all clicked. Instead of taking pride in my home, I should be using it as something to bring God glory. After all, it is as a gift he has given my family. It should be our place of laughter, shelter, love. In Romans 12:19 it says we are to practice hospitality. I think if Jesus had been a woman it might read "practice hospitality at all times... if your house is clean & ready for guests.", but much to my dismay, it doesn't. While God wants us to care & respect for the gifts he has given us, he doesn't care if my home isn't spotless. I refuse to believe that God expects me to keep a spick-and-span home. If he did, he would not have made children so darn messy! And if Jesus doesn't care if my home is less than perfect, then why should I? And more importantly, why should I care what OTHERS think about it? I should only be looking to God for approval, peace, & Joy! And God would rather me have clean hands and a messy home than the other way round.

Thank you for your peace. It is constant and unconditional and you are able to pour it over me no matter the circumstance. Help me to view my home as a blessing to be used to do your work, rather than a burden full of housework to be done. I know you want me to care for my family and that cooking & cleaning is a part of that, but a very small part. Help me remember that the most important thing I can do for my family is to draw near to you, to spend time with you, to keep you as my focus. Thank you for my children and my family, and my home, messes and all. I love you Lord!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I am Weak but He is Strong

Can I just be honest here and say that I had to re-read my own blog post "Put God in, Get Good Out" yesterday? I had a really grumpy day. It's funny b/c my morning prayer was awesome- I was so full of love & joy and I kept singing the song "This is the Day the Lord has Made!" Amazing how quickly life can to steal away our joy if we let it. Nothing major happened, I've just got a lot of things going on right now with selling & buying a home, packing, repairs, phone calls, appointments, children, messes, cooking, laundry, life. You get it. So by dinner time when one of my kids skipped nap which resulted in a tempermental four year old, I was a grump.

No, I wasn't overly angry, I didn't lose my temper or control like I might have in the past, but I was most definitely NOT walking in the joy that Jesus intended for me to have as a mother. I didn't even WANT to have that joy, I wasn't in the mood. I just wanted to give into my desire to be in a bad mood, be short with my kids, and be grumpy.

And then I came across this verse:
"But he said to me, "My Grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Suddenly my grumpiness didn't seem like such a horrible thing after all. It was an opportunity for me to surrender myself to God (again) & let him take over, my weakness was an opportunity for him to show his strength.

And that's what this blog is all about. I'm not here to give advice, to preach, to be showy. This is my testimony. My opportunity to confess my weakness, and show the awesome life-transforming and heart-changing power of God. Thank you Lord, for all of my weaknesses, without them I would never know your awesome power. I would never get to fully experience your Grace, your mercy, and your ability to work through me!