Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Living in the Moment

Sitting at dinner with my best friend last week, we reminisced about middle school and high school (which we attended together)  It often comes up in our communication that we should have enjoyed the moments more when we were in them.  Why couldn't we see how fleeting those moments were?  Instead I was too busy being stressed out to enjoy it....

I can often be found looking into the future, planning, worrying... or looking backwards into the past... regretting one thing or another, wishing I had enjoyed childhood more, wishing I had realized how blessed I was.

 In middle school, our youthful angst and insecurities kept us from enjoying the friendships, lack of responsibility.  In high school, there were so many missed opportunities to travel with my school, team sports I wish I would have tried out for, school plays, student government. I was too busy with boyfriends, stressed out over friendship anxiety, wishing for college to hurry here...  In college, well, I don't want to be repetitive.  But it was more of the same. I was looking ahead, excited for what the future would hold for me. But just missing the actual college experience.

I don't know what is written into my DNA that causes me to never be happy with what I have. I can never seem to believe that moments and stages I'm in are fleeting. As soon as I get used to a stage of life, it's gone, leaving me with regrets that I didn't enjoy them more.

With my kids, it's easy to see that it's going to be the same pattern.  People tell me often to "enjoy this stage" when they are little like this, so needy, so demanding, so loving.  But, I'm often found sitting on the couch, dreaming of a time that they can fix their own breakfast, sleep in a little later, go to school several hours each day....

Without anything to compare the next stage with, I'm left feeling like the way it is now is the way it will always be.  So I forget to enjoy the wonderful things in this stage, and feel stress over the not so wonderful things. Soon, the wonderful things, and the not so wonderful parts, will seem fleeting.

My prayer for this week is that I will live in the moment. Not be anxious over tomorrow because tomorrow will worry for itself (that Jesus, He always has something wise to say about everything!)  Rejoice in THIS day that the Lord has Made.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grace is Enough

I think struggling with prayer is a rite of passage in faith.  Hearing "no" from my dad was hard for me as a child, and I don't think it has gotten any easier when I hear no from my heavenly father.  What if we pray for something that is noble, important, that would demonstrate His love? What if we are praying for our child's life? Our mother's health? Or something simpler, like just ONE night of good sleep... And He answers with "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 corinthians 12:9)

I've been in church many times when our worship team has sung "His Grace is Enough"  I've done enough bible studies where I've learned it, heard many sermons about it, but I've never really believed it. Until today, it was a head lesson, and not a heart lesson.

Is it really enough? Some days it doesn't feel like enough. When C was born, and I stayed awake night after night, nursing, rocking, crying, praying. I had to wake up at 6 am with two energetic and lively children who were fighting, and I would pray that God would just give me one hour of sleep. Is that too much to ask for?  Some days, these questions were almost crippling to my faith.  Is God even listening? Does He care about these trivial things? If He does, why wouldn't He answer?

Today, I read through Philippians 4. It says in EVERY situation to present your requests and petitions to God! AHA! I have got Him now I thought!  See, He SAYS to present it! So why didn't He answer me?

Then Paul goes on to say, because, if you 1) rejoice in God, and 2) Present him with all of your petitions, THEN the peace of God that transcends logic will guard your hearts.

Guard my heart again what?  Perhaps the fear that God isn't listening. That God doesn't care. Or that God maybe isn't even there at all.

Right after that, Paul says... "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely....if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things"   I suspect Paul writes this because he knew that in these moments that God tells us that His Grace is enough, we are going to struggle. We are going to question His love, His goodness, His existence even.  But, when His peace guards our hearts, and we are able to meditate on all of the things He HAS done, it's impossible not to feel His Grace and love.

Max Lucado wrote "Contentment is a state of heart in which you would be at peace if God gave you nothing more than he already has."

His grace IS enough for us, though I doubt anyone on earth can really comprehend this, at least I can't fully comprehend it. But, It is. He tells us it is.

If you are reading this, I know that you have infiinitely more to be grateful for than just Grace alone. I know I do. Millions of things that I don't bother meditating on most days. I have so, so much more than Grace, how can I doubt His Goodness, His love for me?

Even when he says no.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rooted in Love

Last week, as our veggies in the garden looked a little thirsty, I helped my farming guru husband out by watering them. I felt rather proud of myself, and told him of my kindness that evening.  "See, I know how to take care of a garden too!"

Unfortunately, Gibbs gave me a small, informative, lecture on over-watering plants! He says that if we water plants every day, even when I think they look "thirsty"  I take away the opportunity for them to grow deeper roots.

Me: So?
Gibbs: So? Plants that have shallow roots are uprooted by storms. Plants that have shallow roots don't bear very much fruit.

I mean, come on, this should be obvious right?  To be fair, I grew up in West Bloomfield. We don't do much gardening there.

Later that day, in my bible study, I was reading through Romans 1. It says that through the creation we can know the Creator. I've read it before, and can think of various examples, but this was so concrete and visible to me this week!

Sure enough, we had a BIG storm a few days after I kindly watered the thirsty plants. A few of my tomatoes died, and I'm not sure my peppers will survive either!  It was such a reminder to me of what can happen if I don't dig deeper to know God more each day.

God allows trials into our lives that He knows won't uproot us. He allows us the opportunity to seek him, and grow our root structure. When the stronger storms come, they can't tear us away from God. We are able to bear much fruit. During a drought, we are able to rely on our deep roots to keep us satisfied. What a wonderful Father we have! I'm so grateful that he is more knowledgeable about His Creation than I am!

Ephesians 3:17-19     And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Friday, June 10, 2011

This week with the kids

In my attempt for complete openness, This week has not been the best for us! K has been in meltdown mode due to the ending of school and routine changes, so it's been a domino effect (first, her meltdowns, then down goes my patience, then D's attitude, then C cries because everyone else is crying...)

But, we did manage to steal a few sweet moments in between, so I thought I'd share those instead of the stories of tears and frustrations :)

                                                       Our super fun handprint butterflies!

          Our father's card for dad (sssshhhh) from Kait, the inside reads: "I'll always be your little lady"

                                                C enjoying some rudimentary coloring :-)

K's awesome horse (Nora)

The kids had SO much fun feeding her carrots at the end. D is begging for lessons now.

A stolen moment with my favorite nephew during bible study this morning!

I thought this quote aptly described our week:  "There are good times and there are bad times, but our mood changes more often than our fortune." -Thomas Carlyle

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Letting go of the Past

Growing up hasn't come naturally to me. I'd say it's happened more by accident than planning. When I found out I was pregnant with K, I was not ready to grow up and leave the fun/irresponsibility of youth behind. But when you choose to have children, you choose to die to self. I think this was the first step in becoming a Christian. Learning to live for someone other than myself.

But the past is a funny thing. It has a way of sneaking up unexpectedly, maybe a smell triggers a memory, a song, a restaurant. And when it does, the feelings, the hurts, the excitement, it can almost feel tangible.

As a Christian, I know that my somewhat "colorful" past is something God can use to reach others, but more importantly, I know He wants me to be able to let go of it and fully move on past it.

There are times that my current life doesn't "feel" fulfilling enough. I go through cycles of happiness, satisfaction, regret, and acceptance semi-frequently. There are times I look back and think, I wish I could do things a little differently. Or, I wish I could go back and more fully enjoy my youth instead of taking it for granted.

But Jesus tells us  No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:62)

God knows that looking behind us keeps us from looking ahead, from looking to His eternal plan for us.

Whenever I begin looking backwards, inevitably dissatisfaction quickly follows. I forget that God is the only one who can really fulfill me. Nothing and No One in my past is going to satisfy me or heal me or treasure me like God can in the Present.

I couldn't sum up any better than Paul did: "Not that I have already obtained all of this... but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." (Philippians 3:12)