Monday, November 19, 2012

And the Crown Goes To...

It seems like this week I’ve been in a perpetual argument with myself.  To be the holiday queen or not to be the holiday queen, THAT has been my question.  So, here I sit.  I’ve come to my decision. think I’ll pass on the holiday royalty.  It’s just too much. 
At the end of last week, I had my “to do” list made.  I was ready.  We would be busy, but no one should worry because I had it all under control.  Birthday parties, church, Awana, school, and school parties, teach, clean house, catch up on laundry, make the last run to Sam’s…It was completely do-able.  But, then, all of a sudden, life happened.  Chloe got sick.  We had to miss church.  Caleb got sick.  I got sick.  Sick.  Sick.  Sick.  And even as I cough as I type, I am sort of sickened even by the idea of everyone being sick during the holidays.  For heaven’s sake, not during the holidays!!!! 

And then I hear myself.  “For heaven’s sake”????  Seriously?  Who do I think I am?!  I know that EVERY good and perfect gift is from above, from my heavenly Father, Who knows how to give very good gifts to His kids.  So, now I have a choice to make.  I can wallow in my sorrow over a lack of Martha Stewart-ism in my Thanksgiving or I can rest in my sovereign God.  And, guess what?    I think I’ll rest.  By being sick, He gave me special, individual time with each of my kids.  Precious, priceless snuggles that, in all my bare honesty, would not have happened if I were still in operational holiday mode.  And, that is something I am very thankful for.  Some things matter.  Some things don’t. 

And, truth be told, I don’t think God is concerned this Thanksgiving about how the well the turkey gets brined or roasted or fried.  I don’t think He is concerned with our table settings or how many pumpkins were used to make the house festive.  I don’t think He is concerned how quickly the tree goes up after the big turkey dinner is over or how well we nap or how the game goes.  I think our Father desires that our focus be on Him.  I don’t even think He wants us to focus on the gifts He’s given.  Goodness knows, we’ve all been blessed far beyond measure and have much to be thankful for.  Our families, friends, homes, food, and a million other things are all way more than we deserve.  I think He desires that we focus on Him, the giver of all the things we have to be thankful for.  He gave.  He provided.  He healed.  He ________ (you fill in). 

Were we to pause and think on it, I know we would find that His goodness is completely overwhelming.  So, in this moment, I affirm with those around the throne, saying “’Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever.  Amen.’” (Revelation 7:12)   

And, of course, I’ll still try to accomplish my list of stuff to do, but I think I’ll stop sweating it and enjoy the day.  Some things matter, and some things just don’t.  And the holiday queen crown goes to…not me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some trust in horses, Some trust in chariots, and Some trust in stress-relieving face soap

Well, well, well, it’s nice to sit and blog again.  It’s been awhile!  But in my defense, things have been really busy!!!  God has moved us from Arkansas to South Carolina, and we have stayed busy prepping for the move, making the move, and settling in!  We love it here and know with great confidence and certainty that we are exactly where God wants us to be, and for that, we are VERY thankful!!!
At the beginning of October, we took a trip back to Arkansas for a family visit and to celebrate Josh’s grandmother’s birthday!  It was such a blessing to see everyone, and God multiplied the time, allowing us to squeeze in a good visit in just a few days.  The drive from Arkansas to our home in South Carolina is approximately 12 hours.  However, we have a four year old, two year old, and one year old, which means, it can not only take us quite a bit longer than 12 hours, but it can also be substantially more stressful.  So we usually have to take it in 2 days.

On our last night in Arkansas, Lydia (2 yrs) started coughing throughout the night, but we dismissed it as a random allergy thing.  After a very long day of driving (which included a carsick kid), we arrived at our Georgia hotel late at night, and we really felt certain at this point that Lydia’s cough was over because she hadn’t coughed at all that day.  Unfortunately we were so wrong.  As soon as she was tucked in bed she began coughing again, even to the point of throwing up a few times.  And, guys, this happened all night long, in spite of our giving her allergy medicine.  By morning, we were beyond exhausted and had to hurry to pack up and hit the road again to get home. 

As I hurried to go take my shower because check-out time was fast approaching, I see the complimentary face soap laying on the counter, and I had to giggle to myself because this was no ordinary face soap…this was stress-relieving face soap!!!  Perfect!  This was just what I needed before rushing to pack up and check out only to cram myself into a confined space with three very young and very tired children, one of whom had hardly slept at all!  So, as anyone with a brain would do and with much anticipation, I used it!  And though I really knew what would happen, I found myself slightly disappointed that it did absolutely nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  I mean, my face did get clean, but the soap didn’t make Lydia feel rested, it did not pack our bags, it did not hurry to feed the kids a continental breakfast, or fix their hair, or resolve the big issue over the girls’ hair bows, or re-fix their hair, or change the last minute diaper; it did not help the children come to an agreement on what movie to watch in the car; it did not even help the fog over my mind lift so I could think!  The soap was stupid.  It was worthless.  And it made me think. 
How often do I place my trust in something pointless, stupid, and worthless, just hoping it will bring me rest?!  Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”  What are you trusting today?  No amount of soap is going to wash away your stress.  No horse or chariot will save you from your stressors.  Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  Circumstances around you can easily make you feel shaken, but if you stand in Christ alone, you are NOT shaken in the midst of your troubles because He is not moved.  So, go on, cast it over to Him…He can take it!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

5 Years Ago Today, My Emma Died

5 years ago today, my Emma died. 

5 years ago today, I felt Emma’s last movements and heard my little one’s final heartbeats.

5 years ago today, I was told that my daughter had just died. And, the realization began to set in that my daughter would not, in this world, ever see my face or feel my arms around her.  However, though she does not know what I look like, she has looked into the face of Jesus.  While she has not known my arms holding her, she knows the embrace of the King.  And for that, I rejoice.

Tomorrow is Emma’s birthday.  5 years ago, I labored.  I delivered.  And there was a silent room.  I did not hear her cries.  And for my lifetime, I will not hear her sweet voice calling me “Mommy” or saying that she loves me.  But for all eternity, she will sing to her heavenly Father and praise Him perfectly in love.  While I do not sing her lullabies at bedtime, she is able to rejoice with the angelic choirs praising our amazing, eternal, sovereign Savior. And for that, I rejoice.

Monday will mark 5 years since the day I rode away from the hospital with an empty car, no baby to take home.  But the truth is, she was already home.  She was already in her true home…already in my true home too.  And for that, I rejoice.

So, 5 years later, I will rejoice.  I will make her birthday dessert, and I will cry.  And as I do, I will rejoice in my good, faithful God, Who has carried Josh and me as we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death (See Ps. 23:4; 28:9).  It would have been easy to fall into depression and despair, yet I will say with David:  “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)  Our God is so very good.  In the midst of our lives whether in a trial or not, He is unchanging, unwavering, loving, faithful, gracious, strong, peace-giving, trustworthy, and a million other adjectives that would still be inadequate to describe Him.  Our God is awesome.  He alone is able to work all of the circumstances of our lives for our best and His glory (See Rom. 8:28).

I do not know the matters of your heart, but join me.  Rest in Him today.  Rejoice in Him today.  Yes, grieve what needs to be grieved over, but in it, rejoice in Him, just Him. Because He really is beautiful.

Take heart.  Lay down your burden.  Rejoice.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Phil. 4:4

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Ministry of Marriage

So, the other day, I was watching some talk show on tv, which I had never seen before and have not watched since, and on it, they were discussing how shocked they were to see statistics showing that couples who live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who do not.  They went on to say that personally they felt that this “practice” time would be so beneficial to a relationship.  One host even went on to say that he preferred living together outside of marriage because it provides “an out” in case a fire breaks out in the relationship.  Then later in the week, one of our youth at church asked with great seriousness, “What happened to marriage?  I have never seen a marriage work the way the Bible talks about it.”  Then a few days later, another youth told me that she is trusting God for a biblical marriage someday, even though she has never seen one displayed in her home or her friends’ homes. 

What is going on?!  What is happening?!  Why don’t students, who, by the way, are practically marrying age, have any idea what a biblical marriage is?!  It occurs to me that the definition of marriage has changed.  It is no longer an institution designed and established by God for the purpose of demonstrating a picture of Christ and the Church, among other attributes of God, like love, faithfulness, patience, etc., but it is instead a highly sensible, very practical living arrangement between two individuals who get along very well in a functional capacity.  Our culture has redefined marriage as “roommates with benefits.”  And what’s terribly worse, is that this redefinition is taking over how young couples and teens view marriage.  The biblical, God-given definition is becoming muddled by worldliness. 

I really think it’s time for Christian couples to rise up and step into the roles that God has designed for a husband and a wife.  God should be being glorified in your marriage, and if He is not, there’s a problem somewhere.  Ephesians 5:22-33 is so familiar, and is certainly not the only passage in Scripture where God discusses marriage, but I’m gonna use it because it is so pertinent.  It says,
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.  FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

Wives, our job is to operate with such submission to our OWN husbands as though we are submitting to the Lord Himself.  Your husband is not God, nor is he your God, but he is your God-given authority, and as such you should submit to him.  This is not a submission that applies to any other man than your husband.  So if your pastor says you need to volunteer for something and your husband says not to, do what your husband says, and then don’t go and compare the two men.  Your husband is YOUR husband.  He alone will be directed by God for your lives together.  He alone will be making decisions out of love for you.  Biblical submission on the part of the wife, results in great respect and trust of your husband, just as it does when we walk in obedience to the Lord.  

Husbands are to love their wives sacrificially, keeping their wives from sin.  This is exactly what Jesus did for His bride.  And the man’s nourishing and cherishing of his wife, secures her in his love and enables her to operate in biblical submission.  Godly love from the husband leads the woman easily to a place of submission.  Jesus’s sacrificial love for the Church enables us to trust Him fully in His leadership in our lives.  We know He loves us because He shows us.  And so He is easy to obey because we know His leading is for our best and is out of love. 

So let’s do it!  Let’s reclaim marriage for what God designed it to be!  Let’s teach the future generations how God says marriage works best!  I realize that most of what’s been mentioned here is not new to the majority of you.  But I just wanted to offer a reminder to live out what you know.  Future generations are watching us.  Would the young people observing your marriage be able to say that they have seen a picture of Christ and the Church when they see you and your husband?  So, final thought, the ministry of marriage is, yes, absolutely to your spouse, but there is also a ministry that comes with marriage that teaches the young observers all around us how marriage glorifies God.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, Dear One

To all of you who have watched your belly grow, who have noted every change in your body, who have thrown up til you thought you would lose your very stomach and/or stayed nauseated the rest of the day; to those whose backs have ached from carrying your loveable load, who have crashed in utter exhaustion only to be awakened about 5 times in the night to get up and potty; to those who have felt every tiny flutter, who have been jabbed in the ribs; to those who have labored and endured and delighted in all the preparation of motherhood, I applaud you.  Happy Mother’s Day.

To you who have held your precious one, soothing his or her tears simply with your voice and kisses and hugs, who have fed in the night, who have loved and loved and loved each moment of loving, I really do applaud you.  I am well aware of your sacrifices.  And you deserve to be honored. 

But in this moment, I also want to applaud you, my dear sisters, whose arms ache on Mother’s Day.  And I want to say to you, Happy Mother’s Day.  You deserve it.  You have not been forgotten. 

Though each loss is different and subject to a million specifics for your individual situations, I am certain that some of you will rejoice on Mother’s Day because of your own mother, and some will enjoy celebrations because of the children you are raising, but I am also certain that on this Sunday, some of your hearts will sting because of the precious one who is not with you.  Some of you have miscarried, experienced stillbirth, or lost precious ones who lived short lives.  Your heart still grieves for your child and your arms still ache to hold her.  And today, I just want to honor your mothering of your children, ALL of your children. 

People tend to disregard a woman’s motherhood if she doesn’t have a child right beside her.  Even we Christians are quick to say that life starts at conception, but then turn around and act like a woman is only a mother after delivery.  That’s crazy.  Both life and motherhood start at conception.  Obviously, there are many joys and responsibilities that only come after delivery, but there are also many joys and responsibilities of pregnancy.  No woman who has lost her child needs to be reminded that there are gobs of things that she will never get to take part in.  She is well aware of what she has lost.

 So, I applaud all you mommies, the ones rejoicing and the ones grieving and the ones doing both.  And on Sunday, I will rejoice in the lives of ALL of your children.  I will remember you, and I will pray for you.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Ministry of Motherhood

Hey, mommas!!!  I’m Jane, child of the King.  And because I’m His and because He gave me kids, I have been called to the ministry of motherhood.  And what a ministry He has given!  I am a full-time, all the time, no day off children’s minister.  It’s a volunteer position, though it does include room & board.  And I have to say, the benefits are very rewarding!

But truth be told, I’m finding that it’s easy to lose sight of the ministry aspect of motherhood.  It’s hard to feel like I’m doing actual, productive, holy, righteous ministry when I change the poopy diapers, or clean up the spit up, or disinfect the accident from not quite making it to the potty (even though I asked her 400 times if she had to go), or stop the screaming tug-of-war match over the MagnaDoodle, or fold the 9,000th load of laundry.  It’s easy to feel bogged in the job.  The house you cleaned during naptime will get dirty again, behind that clean diaper is one more round of stinky blessing to change, there’s always one more spill, and one more thing to do over again without your kids ever even acknowledging that you worked your tail off today…for them.  And you didn’t mind the work too much because you love them, but you sure feel tired.  However despite your exhaustion, you are thrilled about those mommy perks!  You love to pucker up for kisses, squeeze tightly for hugs, read the same book over and over again, sing favorite songs, and snuggle!!!  But, at the end of the day, you’re spent.  And you feel pressured to hurry up and sleep because tomorrow holds exactly the same thing.  Truthfully, you’re even feeling too tired to wonder if they saw Jesus in you today.

Surviving sometimes seems like the name of the game in motherhood.  As you lay in bed, you ask yourself if it was a good day.  And you tell yourself that it was, since all the children survived and you are not dead yet; so, yeah, that’s a good day.

But to be honest with you, I’m ashamed of that mentality in myself.  Sure, as wives and mothers, we have jobs that have to be done and responsibilities we have to deal with, which really are exhausting.  But as the resident children’s ministers in our homes, we should never be more concerned about the home maintenance than we are about sharing the gospel with our kids.

The responsibility is huge and our burden should be great.  Are we grieving the lostness of our own children?  God has lately renewed in me the calling to share the gospel daily in my home, not just once but repeatedly.   Does your child understand that disobedience is sin?  They should.  Do they know the penalty for their sin?  They should.  Do they know about the sinless One Who came to pay for it?  They should.  Do they know how to have a really real change of heart?  They should.

And it is your primary responsibility to tell them.

God did not give you your children as lovely accessories, as hobbies, as annoyances, or as road blocks, which I know you know.  He gave you children in order that you might glorify Him in your mothering and that you might raise them to be adults who live to glorify God in all they do.

In Titus 2:3-5, the older women are told to encourage the younger women to “love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, SO THAT THE WORD OF GOD WILL NOT BE DISHONORED.” (Emphasis mine.)

Do not dishonor God’s Word in your home.  You work and serve and labor and clean and bathe and launder in your home because God has called you to teach eternal things to your kids.  Work in your home to His glory!  And don’t let a day go by that your kids don’t know what Jesus did for them.  He has to be the priority of your service. And hey, who really cares if instead of dusting the living room or unloading the dishwasher or mopping the kitchen, you tell your kid about the time you asked Jesus in your heart?  The house can wait…it will wait…it should wait.

So, whether your pregnant, potty training, coaching t-ball, or teaching to drive, welcome to the glorious ministry of motherhood!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

my raspberry road

Well, this is it.  My blog.  I have a blog.  And, not only do I have one, but you're actually reading it.  I think this makes me an author now.

My heart here is simply to share my heart.  I don't have life's answers, but I know Who does.  And truth be told, I'm just laboring to rest in His more-than-capable hands as I journey on the path He has me on...on my Raspberry road.