Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Prison of Fear...

Chances are if you know me, you know I place a great importance on obedience. Deep down to my core I believe if children never learn obedience with their earthly father, they will never learn to be obedient to their heavenly father.  I believe obedience coupled with discipline, respect, independence, critical thinking, love, etc. can set our children up for success in whatever way we define it.  Our children are far from perfect and are  just like all other children in that they don't always obey the first time around or at all from time to time. However, we strive to teach them obedience.

With that being said, I often catch myself praying to be more obedient to God's commands. I want to be obedient. I want to do good. I want to be Christ-like. I want to be obedient to His work and growing his kingdom. 
Many times, though, I choose the disobedient way out. Many times I choose to do what I want instead of what God wants. 

There are some crazy things happening on the horizon here. Dreams becoming realities. Opportunities to be obedient at our feet. Prayers being answered with desired results or unexpected results which are greater than our desires.  The unknown turning into clarity. 

As all of these things are playing out, my first emotions have been overwhelming excitement and joy.  It is exciting to see God moving and working in ways you couldn't even imagine. 
Watching things work together so perfectly and so intricately brings awe and amazement. I am not sure I can even articulate all the excitement going on over here.

The next emotion that comes, usually in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping, is fear. The fear of the what if's. What if we aren't kept safe? What if this drastically changes things? What if it doesn't? What if we are hurt? What if we are rejected? What if...

I was in the middle of having a major nervous breakdown when I looked down at my leather cuff on my wrist. "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders." -Hillsong

I have sung this song for months. I wear these words on my wrist. I pray them with my whole heart. 

I want to trust the Spirit to lead me. I want the Spirit to drive out fear, to drive out borders. 

When you ask for opportunity to be boldly obedient and for trust without borders, you just might get it.  

You see, I like borders. Borders are safe and comfy and border-like. They provide me with limitations, excuses, if you will, to assist in holding me back and continue in my comfortable life.  They keep me feeling contained. They provide me some security and peace of mind.  They give me some feeling of control. 

But outside the borders, outside the security and comfort, anything can happen. The risk is greater. That is when the fear pours in. 

As long as I am inside the borders I can feel brave. Once I cross that line, though, my false sense of bravery disappears and my true feelings of fear and doubt are left exposed. 

Now I have to really decide am I going to trust God with everything I have or am I going to crawl back into my false sense of bravery?

The truth is we like to be obedient as long as it fits within our plans and our borders. We like to trust God as long as He provides us with what we want. As long as our children, spouse, and money are kept safe our faith is strong. Compromise those things and we are shaken. 

I hope to be able to share more soon about how God is moving in and through us. There are still some unknowns to work out.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared, if I wasn't hesitant, and even a little worried. However, Caleb and I together have decided to take some leaps of faith. We are prayerful that great things will come from our simple act of obedience.

I never want my children to see fear defining my life. I never want them to shy away from stepping out in faith or taking risks, only because they are afraid.

 I don't want my fear to become my border, because then it actually becomes more like a prison. 

And a prison is never ideal. 

Maybe there is freedom outside the borders, but you must be brave enough to find out first.

What fears keep you from being boldly obedient and trusting God fully? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Let's Just Get Over Ourselves, Shall We?

A few months back, I received a text message from a sweet friend that read something like this...

'You appear to handle and balance the crazy and fun of summer so well. I would have never thought to check on you to see how you are handling it all.'

It was in the thick of summer madness. In an effort of full disclosure this message was received shortly after a confession to said friend about a mild breakdown and mommy failure moment. 

Here is the thing. This mom thing. It is hard. 

I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. Each day brings new challenges. I just roll with it the best I can and pray God takes care of the rest. If I fail, I knock off the dirt, pray, and try again. 

And I am okay with that parenting strategy. 

Because *news flash* no one else knows what they are doing, either.

The rest of my life strategy is basically the same thing. I make decisions based on the information and knowledge I have at that given time and pray for the rest. 

It works pretty well for me. 


I start buying into the the criticism, defensiveness, and over-sensitivity of the world. 

This isn't a problem with the internet or social media; its a problem with the world. It isn't a problem with churches, mothers, or politics; it is a problem with people. 

The only way it will change is if we change ourselves. 

The first way to do that is to put down your pitch fork, your shield, and your tissues. Now that your hands and heart are free try picking up some forgiveness, grace, and understanding. 

Much better, right? 

Oh my word. What I wouldn't give to see a little more forgiveness, grace, and understanding with a lot less defenses, accusations, and offended people. 

Can we just all chill out a little, people? 

If Mrs. Smith attends your mothers funeral and offers condolences, she probably isn't trying to offend you with insensitive words. She is trying to be nice. People are different. Loss is hard. Some words comfort some but not others. She came, she supported, she offered love in the only way she knew how. 

If pinterest mommy throws a circus party for little sue with camel rides, homemade cotton candy, and freshly fried funnel cakes and hand sown ringmaster costumes, maybe she isn't trying to one up your Wal-mart cake and ice cream-no decorations- free park party. She has the beautiful gift that her pinterest projects actually resemble the picture and she is just trying to make her beloved child feel special, loved, and wanted on their birthday. 

If a wife shares her healthy, home-cooked meal with ingredients she grew in her organic soil garden, maybe she isn't calling you a bad wife for calling your husband and having him grab a pizza and some break and bake cookies on the way home. Maybe she has just discovered a new passion and wants to share it with the world in the hopes some one else might share that passion. 

If a family dunks a bunch of ice water on their heads for a cause, it doesn't necessarily mean they expect that to be considered worthy, ignore other diseases, or even think the disease will no longer exist. Maybe they were challenged and accepted because they weren't aware of the disease until great aunt Mable contracted it and suffered a hard and unbearable death and, as the caretakers during the toughest moments,  would hate to witness anyone else bearing that burden.  

I could come up with a million other what ifs, but the examples aren't the point. The point is I think people need to be given a little more credit. I think we need to put down the weapons and arguments and spend a little more time listening and forgiving and loving. 

Criticism, defenses, and sensitivity have a place. They can be helpful in the appropriate setting. Hurt feelings, judgement, discernment, constructive criticism, etc are all real and have their purpose. These things are necessary and important for many reasons. They all can be used for good. All too often, though, they are used to cut, wound, and/or play the victim. 

I am all for addressing feelings and standing up for yourself. Please don't misunderstand me. 

But, for the love, can we please just lighten up a little and stop with all the fighting, pointed accusations, and poor-pitiful-me-someone-hurt-my-feelings bit?

Can we pull up our big girl panties for once, take responsibility for our actions, and get to work loving, supporting, and caring for one another without the worry of am I doing this right? 

I believe I can only change myself, so I am striving to be less critical and more forgiving, less defensiveness and more listening, less offended and more understanding. 

Will you join me in putting down the pitch forks, including the one pointed at yourself? 

I hope so. Now if you will excuse me I have to scrape smushed banana off my hardwood floors and I don't feel guilty or embarrassed about that at all. ;)