Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the gifts keep coming...

most of the writing i have done lately has been deep...it had to be.  i was fighting a battle in my heart and words are the weapons the sweet Lord has given me to combat the enemy.  through much reading and composing, all immediate threats have been eliminated and my bruised and battered heart has been massaged back to life...abundant life.  tendencies to rage in my mind have been replaced with tendencies to
extend grace...generously...  

that's the magic that happens when grace washes back over you anew.  my stomping is replaced with a lightness in my step that sometimes even feels like floating...dancing...

i continue my gratitude journal and today i whisper a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving for 
specifically the ones who valiantly approach God's throne on my behalf asking for blessing.  who fearlessly look the enemy in the eye and dare him to attempt one more assault on my weary heart.  
you know who you are...you prayer warriors...you saints who sneak into my darkness with a hug or a phone call or an email or a text message or a completely unspoken and unseen offering of love.  i just know that God keeps saving my life through you.  a hundredfold blessings to you my friends...

...you've been more than a friend to me
you fight off my enemies 
cause you have spoken the truth over my life
And you'll never know what it means to me
just to know you've been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
more than you'll ever know

You had faith when I had none
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn't think I could find the strength to sing

You have carried me
You have taken on a burden
that wasn't your own, 
may that blessing return to you
A hundredfold

Monday, August 22, 2011

gift #1

I guess it was pretty obvious from my last blog post that I have been in a bit of a funk lately.  
From many of your responses i see that you can relate.  
Man...life is hard.  

Our family is basically 'homeless' right now {but not on the street thanks to some very kind family and friends}.  I have learned that the wandering gypsy lifestyle is not for me...especially with a 1 and 3 year old in tow.

Yesterday I was trying to get everybody ready for church and as we were about to walk out of the door I realized I couldn't find any shoes.  I take that back.  Joey was able to locate my running shoes but I was vainly unwilling to wear them with the cute outfit I had on.  

Here's the thing.  All of our stuff is spread out in about 5 different locations with the bulk of it in a storage unit in Tennessee.  This makes for some challenges in our daily life.  

Remember how in my last post I was pleading with God for a new heart?  Well, I think I fully realized the severe condition of my heart  yesterday morning when I completely flipped out over the shoes.  As I stomped all over the house on my shoe hunt i heard this quiet voice in the very back corner of my mind whispering - 
with all I have provided you with, THIS is what you are focusing on?  

I left the house barefoot and steaming mad and drove somewhere else to find a suitable pair of shoes.  I was furious.  We were late.  It was not a good start to a Sunday morning {or any morning}.  

As we were driving, Joey said something to the effect of - i know things are hard right now but we should focus on the good things...we have a lot to be thankful for.  

Folks, I must be honest...
I wanted to slap him.  
Or scream at the top of my lungs.
Thank heavens - I didn't.  Instead i bit my tongue so hard that it hurt.  And again I prayed for that new heart.  

This time God revealed to me the most important thing I needed to know to get myself out of this pit I have been wallowing around in for the past month.  He had been whispering it to me all along.  He had used my husband to convict me of it.  He reminded me of the wisdom from a book I have just begun reading by Ann Voskamp...

from all our beginnings we keep reliving the Garden story.  
satan, he wanted more.  more power, more glory.
ultimately, in his essence, satan is an ingrate.  and he sinks his venom into the heart of eden.  satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude.  adam and eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.
isn't that the catalyst of all my sins?
our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what he gives.

~ gratitude ~

I can say I am thankful to God for the provisions he has made for us, but if i turn right around and start complaining about my situation, the focus of my heart and mind is completely off.  So I'm going to have to be disciplined about this.  I think it's the only way to break this cycle of ingratitude that I have fallen into.  Can you relate?  If so, maybe you will join me and Ann to officially make that list...1000 gifts

Here's the first one...

{my baby's first haircut revealing the sweet face of a little boy}

Now, let's keep it going.
What are yours?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

wanted: new heart

some days i want to write…need to write…but i’m drowing – in life.  
ever feel that way?  
i’ve learned that sometimes a meager few words are all we need to re-open lines of communication with our Savior.  today these are the only words i can put together, but i know they are enough…

give me a new heart, Lord.  
this one is full of bitterness, impatience, anger, frustration, restlessness…
life feels like drudgery.  i’m desperate for joy...looking for it everywhere.  you keep showing me glimpses but the darkness takes back over…it’s so heavy…it’s suffocating.
i can’t breathe.  
the breath i do have i waste on screaming in anger or sobbing in frustration.  i want my breath to be full of grace and gentleness…blowing life into my children, my husband, my family and friends…
when your word says that you give strength to the weary i want to feel it…not just read it.  i’m weary…drifting…homeless…i can’t keep up – always behind…frantic…without an anchor…being swept wherever the day’s wild winds carry me.  i know you can find a way to steady me here…in the middle of the chaos.  steady me.  lighten my load.  
for days on end the same scenario plays out – sunrise to sunset with no real breathing in between.  days begin full of heavy burden, not hopeful expectation.  and they end full of restlessness, not peace.  take my heart in your hands.  open it up that the hard places spill out and the softness returns.  give me a new heart, Lord.

From the prophet Ezekiel…
For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit in you…
{chapter 36}

Sunday, August 7, 2011

corndogs and snakes

it's hard to pick my most memorable anniversary.
was it the very first one that joey and i spent driving cross country with our RV attached to the hitch of the truck as we lived the mini-tour golf dream...stopping at a truck stop to mark our momentous occasion with corndogs, uncrustables, and a bag of beef jerky?

or maybe it was last week when we celebrated 7 years together by painting, vacuuming up mouse poop and wrangling snakes in my granny's house with the hopes of making it livable for our family?

hmmm...both amazing...too tough to call...
{just to clarify - it was only one snake but it was IN the house and everything else is 100% true...believe me}

i guess by most standards both of those anniversaries were celebrated in less than desirable circumstances.  no picnic in the park, no romantic candlelit dinner, no surprise get-away to a tropical destination...

instead...this is what i will always remember about both of those days...
hours of uninterrupted time spent alone with the person i love most in this world.  laughter and tears as we consider where we've been and where we are headed.  authentic conversations about the joy of our hopes and dreams as well as the rawness of our disappointments and failures.  an opportunity to rediscover each other.  time to reflect on the early love and passion that drew us together and how deep and vast that love has grown.  a strengthening of the fibers that tie our lives together and bind us to one another.  
for me...an anniversary like that does more for my heart than a romantic dinner.  it certainly has a more lasting impact than a quick weekend getaway.  and the truth is - life isn't always a picnic in the park.  
marriage takes work and the journey sometimes takes you somewhere completely unexpected.  

one of the things i love most about my husband - my joey - is that he is the only person in the world that lives real life with me completely.  the good and the bad.  the ups and the downs {and we've had a lot of those lately}.  he is strong and steady as he plods through life alongside me.   he is tender and supportive as i battle my own demons.  he wraps me up in love when i need it the most {and probably deserve it the least}.  he is my hero.

so whether it was with my feet propped up on the dashboard of our chevy barreling down some highway in mississippi or with a paint roller in hand and sweat on my brow...every day that i have spent with my guy has been a beautiful page in the story of our life together.  it's a book i just can't put down...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

free to choose

it seems like a harmless word {or is that 2 words?}.
but in our current season of life i am reminded of its weight.
this morning when i woke up i had so many questions about decisions i am facing. my mind felt like it was whirling around at warp speed and would knock me on my behind at any moment.  
confusion.  uncertainty.  agony.
and at the same time...
excitement.  gratefulness.  joy.

i attended beth moore's living proof conference a couple of weeks ago.  i could write to you every day over the next month about different things i learned and still not cover it all...it was so rich.  if you are a woman - you should go.  if you are a man - please don't.  9400 women all in one place may be more than you can take.  not to mention - all the men's rooms were converted into ladies' rooms...you get the picture.

anyway - one of the gazillion things beth talked about was 'fragile' seasons of life.  she spoke about her own personal experience of walking through months and years in which there were so many decisions to be made.  she felt like her future and the future of her family would forever be altered (good or bad) based on which paths were chosen.  
i am so there.

this morning - after reading my Bible and praying without receiving any clear direction - i went into 'freak-out mode' and started googling things like...
how to obey God
making major life decisions
hearing God's voice
how to choose wisely
i'm not kidding.  i really did that.  weird, huh?
do you know what i found?  more words and opinions to add to my already overloaded brain.  not helpful.
but eventually i landed on these familiar words...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.

::proverbs 3:5-6

and then i pulled out my notes from living proof and re-read beth's encouragement...
when life seems fragile and without clear direction remember that even that time of uncertainty is ordained by God.  it is sealed - as you are sealed - with the promise that whatever choice you make God will be faithful and will work for your good and the good of those around you.

so here's the deal.  sometimes we are blessed in life to be presented with 2 or 3 or more 'good' options.  they all would allow us to continue in our purpose of loving God and loving his people.  they all appear to have advantages for us and for those we are responsible for {i.e. our family}.  
sometimes what is intended as a blessing of abundance starts to look like the burden of decision-making.  
how can i pick one?  what if it's the wrong choice?  what if something bad comes of this that i could not have foreseen?
for all these questions {and more!} that are running through my mind i still find my answer in those words from proverbs...
my part:
TRUST God {with options a, b, and c...after all - He's the one who even made them options in the first place}.
ACKNOWLEDGE God in all things {whether you choose a, b, or c}
His part:
A STRAIGHT PATH {better translated as a path that is 'pleasing to Him' or a 'good and upright' path}

and by the way - john 15:16 is worth mentioning here too...  
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

He chose me.  I followed Him.  now every choice i make {if filtered through His purpose for me} will lead me in the way that is right {thought not always easy}.  He has gone ahead of me to clear cut that path and plant groves and groves of fruit-bearing trees.

whew!  no pressure.  no worry.  freedom to choose.  
the path is really already determined and as promised - it will be good...very good.