2013 is here! I have many resolutions but one of them is to blog more often. I’m tempted to say ‘write a blog post every day’, but I think I’ll give myself some grace and say ‘often’ as I realistically know myself.
My delightful friend, Carrie , wrote a blog post mentioning that each new year her family prayerfully considers a single word to define it. I thought it was a wonderful idea. So I talked to TJ about it and asked him to pray about a word for our family for 2013. I had a word that I felt like the Lord had placed on my heart, but I wanted TJ to seek the Lord about it also. Amazingly, we both came up with the same word (well actually TJ had two, the one we both heard and family).
It’s an exciting, yet unnerving word all at the same time. Because growth usually comes at the cost of pruning and refining. But I’m excited to see what Abba has in store for us this year. I felt led to also find a scripture to memorize and pray throughout 2013 that had ‘growth’ in it and I don’t think I could have found a more perfect one.
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
- Psalm 65
I pray that God be glorified more in our lives this year than ever before. I pray for less of me and more of Him. I am excited for what this new year brings and I’m thrilled to grow in my relationship with my creator! May 2013 be a year filled with the richness of the Almighty One!
God is taking me on a crazy journey to find Him right now. I’m desperately searching. I’m struggling with joy…wrestling is probably a more accurate word. I go through my life day to day and I’ve found it unfulfilling. And then I feel guilty.
This post is really hard to write. And I’m going to be completely transparent and open even at the risk of sounding incompetent, selfish and crazy. But I’m trusting that those who know me, will know my heart. And I’m hoping that my transparency will help others to know that they’re not alone if they too feel the same way.
I know God has called me to be a stay at home, home-schooling mother to my kids. He has called me to nurture their character, disciple them, lead them in the way they are bent to go. And yet, it’s so hard. It requires such a forced effort. I just don’t want to sometimes. Most times, lately.
I think it is because there is no gradient when it comes to children from the moment they wake up to the time their sweet little heads rest on their pillows, it’s 100 mph. They are constantly moving, engaging, needing, singing, asking questions, exploring, making messes, hungry, thirsty, crying, laughing, fighting, hugging (you’ll notice I didn’t say cleaning). Then, after the marathon of bedtime, I experience a little bit of quiet before passing out only to wake up bright and early and do it all again tomorrow. Let’s just be honest, I’m tired. No, I’m flat out exhausted. I’m having a hard time enjoying myself. It’s all so laborious. I sigh before my feet touch the floor in the morning. I have a hard time getting on the floor with the kids to play a game or do a puzzle. It’s like lifting weights to build a blanket house or go swimming.
But, I do it. I do these things for the sake of my children, but I’m not really loving it. It’s more out of obligation or duty or necessity. I think the problem comes from the fact that I’ve looked for my joy and happiness to come from my children instead of from God. I’ve looked for fulfillment to come from them instead of from Jesus who is the ultimate comforter and fulfilled the ultimate sacrifice to that I may have abundant joy in the midst of trying times (or demanding kids). I’ve been serving and playing with my kids unto myself rather than unto Him.
Matthew 25:31-40 New International Version (NIV) The Sheep and the Goats
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
This scripture is so rich with so much revelation that I’m sure I could go on for days. But today, God is showing me that the ‘least of these’ are our children. He’s revealing that when I feed, clothe, care for and play with my children it’s for Him. I’m serving him, not them.
See, I carelessly forget that God loves my kids more than I do. I forget that He created them and knows their inner parts. And I bear the enormous weight of making sure their needs are met, both physically and emotionally. And while God has intrusted these children (His children) in my care, He ultimately holds them in the palm of his hand. He’ll fulfill their needs more and better than I ever could.
I definitely don’t have it figured out. In fact, I feel like I’ve just begun this journey of finding myself in Christ. But slowly, He’s peeling away the layers. It hurts to realize that I’ve been looking for joy in the wrong places. It hurts to realize that I’ve idolized my children. But God is tenderly calling me back to Him. He’s graciously showing me what a loving Father He is. And I’m learning to serve Him through my children. I’m learning where to find my joy.
It never fails that in the midst of good times, my kids take off their shoes. I don’t know if it’s that shoes slow them down or if they want to take in everything that’s happening, even feeling the ground beneath their feet. Nevertheless, when the kids are indulged in good times, the shoes come flying.
It doesn’t matter where we are. They don’t think about the consequences of hot ground or rough terrain. They are too consumed with the ‘right now’ to be concerned about later. And so they run carefree, breeze blowing through their hair, and swing on swings and slide down slides. They play tag and dangle on monkey bars.
It’s not until the hush of night and usually *right* before bedtime that one of them comes to me upset. They have a splinter. In the midst of their play, a small foreign piece of lumber worked its way into their delicate little feet. There are tears. Lots of tears. Because it stings and hurts.
So I get a needle and sterilize it. I get some tweezers. I get some antibacterial ointment. And while I’m doing this, the tears continue. Only they’ve changed. Now, they are tears of fear for the removal and my heart breaks. I explain that I only want to take away the sting and hurt. I just want to make it all better. I explain that it may hurt for a tiny moment but it’s far better than leaving the splinter there. I explain that leaving the splinter could eventually cause infection. My heart breaks. I just want them to trust me and I love them so very much.
It was during one of these late night experiences that the Lord revealed to me how he often feels the same way with His children. We run carefree. We don’t protect ourselves with His word and we get a splinter of sin. And then it stings, because sin isn’t something to lie dormant very long. We want to run to God to fix it but we’re fearful. And His heart breaks. His heart breaks because He loves us and He just wants to make it better. He knows that if we leave that sin unresolved in our hearts, it could lead to infection and death.
God is such a loving Father. Sometimes, we get these splinters and we’re fearful to take them to God because we don’t want to deal with the pain involved with restoration. But Jesus paid it all and the Lord is good. The pain is only for a moment because He is the ultimate healer.
I’m extending my hand out to the Father and asking Him to remove the splinters of my heart. And sometimes, it’s painful. But it’s so worth it. Because where there was once a burning and stinging, there is now peace and hope.