How I Learned to be Content

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My Problem

In my haste to satisfy the pride of life, I have diligently fed my flesh by trying to be one step ahead of my season. What I found, instead of joy & contentment, was feelings of failure, frustration, unmet/unrealistic expectations, & a restless spirit that settled so deep in my heart I couldn’t see my way out for trying to fix the way I was approaching life.

The gentle nudge I started to hear echoed Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

I quickly clung to my abilities, meek as they are, and hoped to do better. I can be steadfast, I thought. I can work on a pure heart.



What I Didn’t Do

As I didn’t do much struggling or wrestling (that would have required actual effort, and unfortunately, I trying to just do better weren’t going to work for me), I settled with trying to rest on the areas of my life that seemed natural. Once I was working out of my strengths, and even comforts, I could hear the whispers that could only be heard in a stillness.

I cannot, after He has clearly spoken to me about how my outset is not working, continue to work so fervently to be a step ahead of where I am in my life as a woman, wife, mom, or any other aspect of my roles.

Then it presented itself like a blooming plant that is emerging from the blossom that has rested, filled with nutrients and all the perfect setting up for a beautiful, bountiful expression of nature. Contentment. I knew the minute my soul was filled with this, alluring to some, actual manifestation of the Spirit.

It’s not an emotion. It’s not a feeling. It is the culmination of hope, mercy, grace, and trust.

I began thinking “this is so good…I need to write this down.” That pride of life crept back in and then I exclaimed in my heart “this IS good, thank you LORD for getting my soul to a place of understanding, rest, movement, and finally the acquisition of contentment.

Finally, A Looking Glass

It began with anxiety and panic that I wanted so desperately to be ahead of my season, onto the next step, planned/prepared/ready, and without a shred of help from others. The deep sorrow I felt after not feeling prepared and ready when a new phase of discipline was necessary in the heart of one of my children, left me feeling the way I mentioned in the introduction. The trepidation was almost more than my person could handle.

With the newfound contentment, I could almost hear “this is the next step…look at this Scripture….look how God led His people here….look at Paul’s admonishment here….who are you right here…..what the goal for this season…..what is hard right now in your heart….” questions that I haven’t left lurking like I used to when I thought I could move forward and fix the questions with my approach instead of listening to His guidance.

Moving Forward in Understanding

The joy and contentment found in resting in His guidance for where I am now, ABSOLUTELY does prepare me for the NEXT season.

If I am not walking so closely with His guidance, direction, hope, and correction right now, then I will surely suffer more when His planned suffering/trials/chastisement enters because I haven’t absorbed the gentle preparation He was providing all along.

The discipline of the Lord is love. An example from my life would be when He tells me to slow down. Before, I would have rebuked that thought that I don’t have time to slow down because I need to be ahead of my children’s needs (discipline, health, homeschool, etc) or that I need to be working diligently throughout the day to make sure we are ready for dad to get home to a peaceful place (which never happened when I was pushing out the Spirit’s prompting and pushing hard at home). The result of my efforts was stress, anxiety, discontment, and anger. Meeting the words “slow down” with obedience, speaking gently to those around me, opening my heart to the needs of others, always works in great motion towards whatever my future holds.

The sufferings and trials are not big and small in His divine wisdom. They are specific to the days ordained of OUR individual lives and He is faithful and just to give us all of Himself to walk through them.

I learned to be content, by recognizing His ability. That ties up so much in my heart that is lacking trust, faith, hope, and an acknowledgement that He’s in control.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

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the one word that sums up all i’ve learned about myself when i became a mommy

 

it’s so painful to my flesh to say it.

selfish.

it’s painful to my flesh for 2 reasons.

1. because i’m embarrassed i didn’t learn how selfish i was when i got married…it took having a child for me to realize that i’m selfish.

2. because i have a root sin of pride and to realize, confess, & grow beyond this selfishness means i’m not perfect.

1 John 2:16

King James Version (KJV)

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

when i have on the filter of Truth, i can see my selfishness for what it is (sin) & press into Christ’s redeeming forgiveness. when my heart is bent towards asking God to produce based on the good intentions, motivations, & desires He has put within me to steward the lives of my children, i am outside of my flesh & directed towards the idea of redemption.

yes we are all selfish. but praise the Lord of all Heaven and Earth that He is in the great and glorious business of Redeeming.

Ephesians 5 Amplified Version

13 But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light.

14 Therefore He says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine (make day dawn) upon you and give you light.

15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),

16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.

so there is no condemnation for the temptation to be selfish towards my husband or children. but an ever present reminder of what success really is in the realm of home. success in the Spirit is waking up each morning and asking of the Lord

Psalm 139 New Living Translation

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

so that when our children will not give us a break, they spill milk, have a potty accident, pull their clothes out of their drawers, wake up 3 times each in the middle of the night, scream and run away when discipline is knocking on the door of their hearts……….or when our spouse forgot to do something important for us, forgets something special, makes a decision we don’t agree with, or is having a rough day and their attitude effects us–we can confess we have selfish hearts that want to scream or pout, but then repent and remember Lord’s ability to lead us in the way everlasting.

He puts His Spirit within us to walk and guide us in the trenches. yes, even the trenches of our selfishness. our hearts are deceitful (Joshua 1:9), but He is grace. He forgives. He gives. He extends mercy and grace.

He knows our hearts. our very fragile, worn out, over-extended, but very very very full hearts. the heart that beats harder and faster during the hard days. the heart that explodes at night when our littles snuggle up on our chest while we read. the heart that grows more full as our children begin to speak Truth themselves and model all that we’ve spoken about Jesus. and as we hear and watch our sweet babes talk about Christ, He is sweetly beckoning us as we watch the little seeds we’ve planted begin to be harvested by Him.

it’s so hard during the drag of day and sometimes night to remember that we are living out a calling. a calling to love our husband and children well. it is weary sometimes when we don’t know what “well” is and we’ve lost track of our purpose. but He says we can call on Him. so my prayer for myself and other mommas is that we reevaluate what it means for us (as individuals, not as compared to other mommies) to love our husband and our children well. we are all gifted, interested, and experienced in different ways. press into Him with your deepest and grandest expectation that He will speak directly to your heart about how you can rest in who He has made you and love your family well with how He has equipped you. no more trying harder. no more being better. no more rules and regulations. just asking, exploring, and living out who you already are and loving with the tools and resources He has already provided.

just ask Him. and then abandon your own idea of what the pressure tells you it should look like for you to be a mom and wife and, instead, be the mom and wife He’s already equipped you to be with a whole heart full of expectation. sometimes your greatest equipping and resources come from your children and your spouse. be sensitive to the Spirit.

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lightning fast

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Everyone tells you “it goes by fast” as if fear will motivate moms of littles to cherish every moment. We do cherish it. Those of us who work outside of the home and those of us who stay home. We cherish it just like everyone cherishes their own lives. You know? You know how we have all have to be reminded to “live each day like the last”? Or how every time something tragic happens it jolts us back into the reality of how precious and short life is? Those are humbling moments that bring perspective. If a mom of littles is feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, frustrated, etc. I can guarantee we already feel guilty that we aren’t “just loving every moment”. I know everyone means well by trying to encourage moms of littles with “cherish it now” “it goes by fast” “tomorrow they’ll be driving”. I definitely get it. When someone says this and I feel guilty for having a hard time, I remind myself they’re trying to encourage me. They’re trying to love on me. No matter how much those comments push me to condemn myself and cause me to resolve myself to “never complain again” (however, sometimes I receive these encouragements just because my boys are acting in a way that requires some extra love). I’ve even tried to find my own slant to encourage myself. My husband helps me remember everyday that this is only a season. My oldest was just where my youngest is….yesterday. And before I know it, they’ll both be self-sufficient and momma kisses will be scarce. I would never trade my time at home with my boys. Whether I stayed home or worked and my time was different with them. Just because I know something is my calling and the best for my family doesn’t always make it easy.

My husband and I have gone through some hard stuff recently. That’s where we have no choice but to lean on the Lord and trust Him. We can’t change some of these circumstances. So we roll with it and talk to the Lord and each other about it and how it can penetrate and change our hearts.  I take the same approach with hard days at home with my boys. I can’t change them and I don’t want to but I am here to train and mold them. That takes a lot of discipline and consistency for parents. Sometimes the most encouraging thing someone says to me is “you’re doing a great job.” I know it’s not hardest thing in the world to parent my children and that I’m very blessed to have them and to stay home with them. Just because something is the greatest thing in the world doesn’t mean it isn’t hard sometimes. I’ve had my dream job before (before staying home became my dream job) and it was still really hard! I needed help and I needed admonishment.

This post was brought on by a “lightning fast” milestone for Holt. He stayed up past 6:30 last night because we were at church and did surprisingly well! It caused him to sleep until 8:30 this morning (we’re going to have a GREAT DAY 🙂 I’m not a morning person. The biggest milestone, though, …… no bottle this morning. He ate breakfast and had a cup of milk. Drake pretty well weaned himself off the bottle and I didn’t have to think twice about it. He never held his own bottle so transitioning to cup made sense and worked. Holt can hold his own bottle and when he sees it, he says “nigh nigh” because it’s so comforting to him. He didn’t flinch with no bottle and I know we’ll be fine. My momma heart can’t believe my youngest is almost done with all things that resemble infancy (except those expensive diapers!).

It does go by so fast. As hard as I try to cherish every moment, some of them go by all too quickly. We can’t hold onto these moments. They just vanish. I posted once with Drake that I wish I could have one of him at every stage. It’s so true. The heart strings rip as we want to hold onto the now but also long to see them grow and flourish. Baby gear and items are flying out of his room and getting packed up and all I see are little boy clothes and toddler toys. This year I have a preschooler and a toddler. This year we continue to teach and guide and mold and train.

It’s a sweet honor that He called us to be stewards. Forgive me Lord, when it seems too much. Thank you for the grace to take it day by day and thank you for the grace to know the magnitude of this honor.

peace maker & joy keeper

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We had a very busy first week back into fall schedule. Tuesday night Portico, Wednesday night family nights at FBC, Thursday morning mops & Thursday night DGroup at our house all while maintaining normalcy in our home with meals, naps, shopping, play time, etc. It wasn’t overwhelming. I wasn’t anxious. Brady kept the focus in front of us & the peace and joy at home. Most of you mommas do this all the time. This was my first week of this busy lifestyle with two littles since having Drake.

Holt was born last November so his early days were spent celebrating holidays and staying cuddled up at home. By the time he got to a place to enjoy being out of the carrier and relating to people, school was almost out for summer break and church activities were winding down for summer.

Now, at 9 months, we carry him everywhere and he’s crawling. He’s eating table food and will still go for some baby food. He wants to be everywhere Drake is and do whatever his older brother is doing. He’s all over the house and let’s me know his frustration if I limit his boundaries. So, with chores to do and to-do list tasks mountings, I’m once again approaching my “priorities” evaluation with The Lord and myself. He won’t be into everything for long. It’s a short time to really soak up and watch him develop while trying to be just like Drake.

Both of my boys got sick this week. And then Brady. And now me. But we’re doing what you do when the sickies try to set up shop. Medicine, fluids, sleep, Lysol. And cuddles….lots of cuddles. That’s how we ALL got sick! But not too many snuggles-these boys don’t slow down for much.

And during this whole journey of testing the waters this week with a busy schedule, Brady made sure he spent time at home, helped me clean and prepare, played with the boys, did some night nights and nap times, and got everything prepared and rolling for his ministry. Incredible.

Tonight we plan and meet about a new facet of our ministry. There will be more on that later. I’m so humbled that Brady still chooses me every day. He wants to see me. He wants to spend time with me. He tells the boys positive things about me daily. He trusts me with aspects of our ministry that are very close to my heart. He asks me important advice and opinions on where he’s going with his ministry. All of those actions speak to me his love and his value of me. Love is a choice and a risk. He does this well and with intention.

What a sweet Friday it is as we prepare to open a new area in our ministry and head to Salt Lake City tomorrow with a group from our church to join Bobby Wood and his family and Redemption Church for their first church service in Ogden, Utah.

when we can’t put it back together

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photo cred: DeEdra Folmar of Photo[E]motion Photography

desperate times call for desperate measures. i’ve heard that saying before.

now that others depend on me, i know what desperate feels like.

desperate to be better than good.

desperate to be one step ahead of their needs.

desperate to provide love, security, and comfort.

desperate to be a safe place, emotionally.

desperate to be entertaining and challenging.

all of those desires seem so noble. but they’re empty. they are my definition, fueled by my fleshly opinion of what the world is screaming at me to be and do. i get to this understanding of emptiness when i’m broken and weary. my two least favorite adjectives when i’m humbling myself before the Lord. and it usually comes when i would least expect it. i would expect broken and weary when i’m tired. i would expect them when i’m not intimately acquainted with sanctification. i would expect them when i’m busy. i would expect them when i just don’t want to do life anymore. and sometimes, these are all true moments that open the door for brokenness and weariness. but, not this time.

this time, broken and weary found me at the corner of “i’m being consistent with my children, trying to be consistent with my home, and i’m pushing through”. my marriage is a safe place for me so i’m “trying harder” there, just asking for grace from the Lord and my husband every day.

so why broken and weary if being consistent and gracious? because THOSE ARE SO HARD AND THEY TAKE A LOT OF SANCTIFICATION AND I CAN’T MAINTAIN THEM ON MY OWN.

when we’re hanging on by a thread during obedient and faithful times, it’s expected to experience weariness. and brokeness. because we are tired, selfless, and out of our own motivation. it’s spent. our obedience and discipline must come from Somewhere else. the Spirit intercedes. we need Him. that’s why Christ sent us a Helper. we cannot do good alone.

be encouraged. if you think to do good today, the indwelling of the Spirit is moving you. if you think to be disciplined today, the Holy Spirit is prompting you and putting it in you to move forward.

so when we’re ready to throw in the towel in an area where we’ve been plugging along, faithful and obedient, don’t. let’s press forward. he’s done such a work in us, let’s be an open vessel for that work to continue. ultimately, we’re seeking to look like Christ. that doesn’t happen with one small victory. we continue taking steps forward.

Philippians 3:14

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a goodwork in you will carry it on to completion until the day ofChrist Jesus

Psalm 51:10

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart FALL KICK-OFF

ImageThis Thursday, September 5 @ 8pm we will be kicking off our fall college ladies discipleship study in our home. To say that I’m eager to spend time with our college women would be an understatement. My heart has yearned since Brady came on staff at FBC to be able to spend time with our college women in an environment where I could pour into and invest in their lives spiritually. I have taken opportunities in small chunks in the last 5 years to do this, but we are now in a season where we can make this happen on a weekly basis. Every Thursday through November, there will be college women in our home, desperate to hear and walk through Scripture and what it speaks to them about relationships. I’m fervently praying for them as I know the Lord has already started to permeate my heart about my own relationships and my own attitude towards others. I believe and trust that He will cut through our flesh with Truth and deep repentance and will replace the dross that He removes with compassion, obedience, and purpose. We are praying for fellowship, life-changing decisions, and healthy relationships.

Here’s a peek at what we’ll be discussing this week:::

“By faith Rahab the prostitute escaped the destruction of the disobedient, because she welcomed the spies in peace.” HEBREWS 11:31

How did God use a prostitute to aid in the fall of Jericho? Rahab chose a life of obedience to the Lord which saved her family and aided in the fall of Jericho to ultimately deliver Israel to their Promise Land.

We will be delving into Rahab’s decisions and how they forever impacted her life, giving her a role in the lineage of Christ.

Do you actually believe that you are a part of the expansion of God’s Kingdom, and if so, at least in a spiritual sense, a part of the lineage of Christ?

See you Thursday!

on call wife and mom

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uttering those words “i’m JUST a stay at home mom” or feeling the guilt of a few bemoaning thoughts towards switching hats from your career to mom and wife when you get home are heavy loads we carry as married women with children.

right now, it seems less than glamorous to be a stay at home mom. i’m wearing shorts and a tshirt and got dirty and sweaty playing outside this morning. i didn’t have anyone writing me a memo that said “wow, that lesson was awesome” or “your class was so well behaved today” or “great presentation in that meeting today” or over hear someone say “that Melissa sure can ____________”.

two things to remember here::

1. no one gets these sorts of accolades and praises on a regular basis.

2. my accolades and praises will come in the form of healthy, sought-after relationship with my children and husband. (i am growing alongside my children in what it means to relate to and with them. i still have a long way to go with my husband. i didn’t get him until i was 26).

as a stay at home mom, my days are what i make them. i count the cost to leave the house with my children (will it be worth it if everyone loses their mind and we are a huge mess out in public?) you know those thought processes. some days i know before we even start that day that i am personally not operating on a full tank of patience and wisdom and probably shouldn’t venture into new territory (whether that be an activity at home or leaving the house). but some days i feel confident with my boys to conquer the world (whether that’s going to the grocery store or to a grandparents’ house).

as a stay at home mom, sometimes it feels like days happen to me. spilled milk, meals refused, constant fussing and disobedience, and skipped naps are all ripe ingredients for a momma melt down. add to that feeling like a failure if there are millions of messes that got left because clean up was interrupted by a hungry baby or runaway two year old. add to that feelings of inadequacy if i’m still in my sweatpants and tshirt when my husband comes home from work and i haven’t put on any make-up or cooked dinner.

i can never seem to accomplish all of these things in one day::a play date, all meals at home, clean up from all meals, at least one activity with Drake and/Holt, a sufficient nap time/s for all, daily cleaning, bath/shower for everyone, and daily cleaning. but i read over those expectations, that’s more than i felt like i accomplished when i was at work.

are my children observing/judging what gets done? no, but they are learning. so my efforts to teach them must focus more on what my decisions and priorities are rather than my task list. they aren’t a task list. they are hungry for relationship and interaction. that is my priority. when my 7 month old cries because i leave, he needs something. (he doesn’t ALWAYS cry, so this isn’t just spoiled…he’s usually hungry, has a diaper need, is bored, etc) or when my 2 year old says “come play with me momma!” he needs me. i remember very specific moments and occasions from my childhood-positive and negative. i want my children to have positive, healthy memories of their time with me at home. it’s so short. 1 year a few months ago we started teaching my 2 1/2 year old. now he knows his abc’s (recognition and some spelling), can spell his name and recognize his name, count, colors, shapes (he’s known octagon since 15 months), has spoken in complete sentences since 15 months, has a creative and imaginative mind, has better manners than some adults, can sort and make patterns, i could go on (as i already have). my point….in just a few months he has grown and learned so much. he’s only 2 1/2 and i feel him slipping into curiosity and comfort where relationship with others is concerned. he wants to know others and relate to others. i was his world for a short time and it’s already time to share him.

i’m on call. being a mother means taking care of the sick (even if you’re sick). it means taking care of all in the middle of the night and all day (even if you’re tired). it means having all the answers (the constant “why” and the expectation that you really do know everything). it means bringing comfort and healing (medicines, kisses for ouchies, ice bags, “you’re okay”s for when it’s not that bad).

it means selflessness. but as we’re stripped of ourselves for our husband and children, we’re filled with so much more of Him. we become so much more like Christ. we give of ourselves. we consider others. we want the best for others. we become sensitive and tender and need-meeters. we are stripped of ourselves because our flesh is what has driven us and motivated us. when we lean and rely on the Spirit for our relationship with our husband and children, we bring holiness and wholeness to those relationships. we are on call to live by the moment in the Spirit.

we can’t plan every moment if we’re on call. we can be focused on our vision/purpose statement for our family and run everything that approaches our family through that filter. do we have some illness? do we have some trial? do we have some conflict? do we have some disappointment? what do we say our family is to be about and how can we manage that through the filter of our vision/purpose statement for our family? that’s how we live on call.

that’s not “JUST” a stay at home mom. that’s a mom taking advantage of the largest responsibility and accountability in my sphere of existence (save that of my relationship with Christ and my husband). that’s a mom leading and mothering her children to one day have vision and purpose.

what’s your motivation?

i’m so convicted.

being a believer is messy. you’re called to be involved in the lives of others and accountable for your own growth and character. it is hard work and takes diligence with discipline and a fervent prayer life. we all stumble and falter because we are in the world with vast amounts of distraction. the Lord has put people in your life to edify and by which you may be challenged. but with that diligence and discipline comes new growth, opportunity, successes, and changed lives. being a part of that is messy too. but Jesus didn’t take breaks to do other things. being like Christ doesn’t come with breaks or time-outs. He’s with you during the highs, lows, and in-betweens. and He ordained them. attempting to do life without Him or aside from Him will bring disappointment and frustration as you create your own wildernesses instead of walking through the Lot He’s given you and claiming the freedom He has for you as you’re sifted. let your YES be YES and your NO, NO.

Jesus didn’t invest in people and love them for what they could/would do for them. what’s your motivation?

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 NIV

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[a] Matthew 5:37 (NIV)

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. James 5:12 (NIV)

know your role

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(art found here)

it’s a slippery slope when we find ourselves comparing ourselves. sometimes, the worst comparison is the comparison to what we once were, or our own perspective thereof.

add to that, the comparison to those around us. the comparison to those around us who are “so good at _______________”. the comparison to others, who, FOR WHAT WE CAN SEE, don’t struggle at all to live their lives fully and faithfully. the comparison to others who SEEM to be constantly growing, changing, moving towards something far more exciting than what we can see in our lives.

i received a text from a very faithful, yet struggling young woman today. Struggling only because she has some major trials and thorns in her flesh right now. but, she is struggling well. her question was “do you ever feel needy?” she went on to clarify “not in an emotional way, but like something is missing and you need “it”‘ now, to give you a better idea of her question, you must know that she very intimately knows and walks with the Lord, even in her questions and frustrations over her circumstances. so her “needy” question stems from her experiences with the Lord, not a void she’s looking to fill.

to that, i replied, absolutely. there are so many lies in the world and even christian culture right now. they are speaking to women about what will meet their needs. marriage, children, different or more friends, materials, sometimes even different lifestyle choices of eating, working out, or the spiritual deceit of “if i read this or do this” something will get better.

rarely is it taught to be still. really TAUGHT. no just mentioned. or quoted from scripture. but taught how it looks, how it thinks, how it talks, how it manifests, and how it’s practiced. again, so much of culture, even christian, throws around great advice. “just be still”. well, ok. how?

think i’m going to tell you? no. not today. honestly, i want to share. but i’m going to work through that myself this week. so, for my next tuesday without baby boys, i will tell you how i journeyed through being still this week. my prayer would be for you to work through being still also.

some questions and matters of prayer::

1. how am i comparing myself? to whom? for what purpose?

2. how am i walking with the Lord? how am i intimately getting more acquainted with Him?

3. do i know what it is to be crucified with Christ?

4. am i standing firm in the places God has called and led and being focused there?

5. am i being tossed and turned with everything that comes my way? what’s my foundation?

i would love to hear from you. and i would even be honored to pray for you.

“My determined purpose is that I may know Him-that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.” Phil. 3:10