How I Learned to be Content

img_9633

 

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.”

Advertisements

what i’m not taking for granted.

Image

we left saturday at 9am to travel to colorado with our two boys and my parents. we were headed there for my grandfather’s (my dad’s father) funeral. so many have asked about the circumstances. he was ill, but it is never expected and it is always grievous to experience loss.

we lost my grandmother (my mom’s mother) in december. she was buried christmas eve while i was in the hospital.

having experienced loss and a temporary goodbye, my heart is in the place of receiving grace and giving thanks for the now…

salvation. 1. i am redeemed & expecting eternity with Christ. 2. my loved ones will not have to ache in wonder about my eternal destination. for the sake of the cross, your eternity, and your loved ones…accept the sacrifice and blood covering for sins of Jesus.

my husband. 1. he’s the greatest person i’ve ever known. 2. he is redeemed. 3. he loves me like Christ loves the church:::sanctifies me and leads me.

Ephesians 5 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

4. an exceptional father. he is intimately involved in every aspect of our children’s lives.  from morning until night he is top notch and top request (DADDA!!!) for both of them. 5. his sacrifice:::for me and the boys. he sat in the backseat with an uncharacteristic gigantic fit throwing baby so that i wouldn’t get car sick. needless to say his chronic pain didn’t do him any favors, but he calmed a baby and saved momma’s stomach. i cried the entire time.

my children.

Psalm 127:3

New Living Translation (NLT)

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.

1. i know what it is lose a child. i love all three of mine, including our baby not here with us. 2. i grew to appreciate all moments with my children this weekend (locked up in a car with them screaming in car seats, in a small hotel room with little space for little adventurers, no media for entertainment, no privacy for sleeping for them, happiness when we can make small luxuries for them happen, joint bath time for them that seemed like a bath tub birthday, a grandparent induced chuck e cheese visit, the list could go on and on). 3. the richness of hearing “i love you momma” over and over and over from my 3 year old. i’m not sure if all kiddos do this, but it sure does wipe away the screaming fits of disobedience when i hear this.

understanding. 1. sometimes we ask questions about our family circumstances. i’ll leave that broad. but in reality, it’s God’s design for you to be with the people you are with and related to your specific peeps. i got to see some family this weekend i haven’t seen a while. we may not see each other for a while. it’s cleansing and bonding, though, to grieve with others who you are confident understand your ache and hurt. we shared the ache of losing someone recently, losing my grandfather because we all love him, and hurting for each other as we walked through this.

motivation. 1. to love more intentionally and specifically. i feel confident i do this well with my children. 2. i have taken this area too much for granted concerning my husband. i am not taking for granted the motivation to love him more intentionally and to show him more often.

friends.

Proverbs 11:25

New Living Translation (NLT)

25 The generous will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

1. i never realized what a definition in my head for what a friendship is or should be. that has been butchered and redefined as i have received hugs, texts, facebook messages and posts, cards, etc. people watch, care, pray and meet our needs. that is friendship. even if it’s “just” through facebook. they took the time and shared their heart. that’s vulnerable and compassionate. that’s a friend.

i could go on and on about what i’m not taking for granted especially since i’m not in my big, warm, comfortable home in the quiet while the boys are visiting their other grandparents. but i’m going to rest and relax while i can and then eagerly pick my boys up and squeeze all of my friends and family i see today.

though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes with the morning.

i had a few moments of feeling a bit like David recently. (i mean, seconds. especially once i got to the end of this psalm and read his resolution). this psalm has followed me since Shane & Shane released a song utilizing this particular psalm. i was listening to their cd (yes, we did use cds at one time) and while i was listening i was reading this psalm and the corresponding song came on at the same time. that was a time of the Lord’s deep moving in my heart and i forever remember the time i spent with Him then. i thought things were very difficult at that moment. i had no idea how NOT difficult it was and what a preparation of my heart that time was for me.

Psalm 13[a]

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

disappointment and loss. grief. grace.

i woke up desperate for relief today. ever need that? crave that? and the worst part about our flesh is that we can “FEEL” like we need something, go to the ends of the earth for it, and not even know what we’re searching for….we just KNOW “it” will make us “FEEL” better.

i know what i need. i need Jesus. at all moments and at all costs. so this morning my desperation for a relief was not only a cry for mercy and grace but a plea for something different. so much had piled up over the last two years that i admitted today i wanted, needed, craved a “break” and i have no idea what that looks like, but here is my reflection.

on december 23, 2013 i decided (after 4 days) it was time to call the doctor. i had attended a family christmas out of town, cared for my boys, gone out to eat, and done various other things with most of my left eye out of commission. the best way to describe it was that everything was shiny, fuzzy like watching the tv with no cable, and just blotchy. i wouldn’t drive because the peripheral vision was nonexistent. so i decide, it’s the day before Christmas Eve at 4 pm. if i’m going to look into this, no is the time. i start realizing it’s no aura with migraine because i’ve had that a few times and went it away in at least 30 minutes and sometimes with a headache. neither had happened here. my husband had been on vacation and he was using this time to take care of our boys while i lay in bed. not an ideal vacation in that his whole family wasn’t present.

when i talk to the doctor he says that is not normal and he’s calling an ophthalmologist. the one he contacted was so gracious to meet me at his office after hours. he does a complete eye exam and several tests (that i’ve never had because i’ve always had perfect vision) and said my optic nerve was swollen. he says i need steroid infusions to get the swelling down and that’s a pretty normal outpatient situation. however, all of the infusion therapy clinics are closed and will be until thursday. oh man. the dreaded words. you need to be admitted for iv steroids.

my husband had been driving around with the boys after he dropped me off. through dilated eyes i tried to text and then just called. we have to implore grandparents. my grandmother’s funeral was the next day (Christmas Eve) but my mom was so gracious to help and picked up the boys. one of my best friends spend the night at our house with our boys and then my in-laws stayed at our house the whole time with our boys with a few breaks from my husband and my parents. and my father-in-law was ill most of the time and i’m pretty sure my mother-in-law was too but all of our parents are so kind to us. we are loved well.

so disappointed. Christmas in the hospital. without my children. my sweet husband who suffers from chronic pain slept on those uncomfortable chair/recline/pull out beds they have in the rooms. we were visited, showered with flowers, gifts, sweet words, facebook messages, texts, etc. the redemption? my husband (who is the most gifted and sensitive to what redeeming means) brought Christmas decorations to the room and my gifts. i opened up a necklace that i have wanted since Drake was born. it had a pearl and a hand stamped initial for each of our boys and the sweet first child we lost through miscarriage. perfect and perspective and healing.

i missed my grandmother’s funeral. my eye waited until the 11th hour to start getting vision back. right before the last dose of steroid in the iv i started to see better. i went straight to the ophthalmologist after being released. my eye was doing better. i had to go to my regular doctor to get a blood sugar test kit (steroids can mess with blood sugar. a new low—-pricking my finger for blood. thankfully brady did that. and i never had to give myself a shot).

i was told to take oral steroids for several days. i was so messed up. brady and i will probably remember for the rest of our lives how i acted those days. i tore our house apart to clean and reorganize. i only slept from 330-6:30 am most days.

we will also never forget what happened when i quit them. cold turkey. i had flu like symptoms. i was “depressed”. i started crying so hard at one point i was weeping and convulsing. i looked at him to try to explain and probably laughed the hardest and loudest i ever have because i had no words. no idea why i was crying.

this condition i have now been diagnosed with is a precursor 40% of the time in women age 32 for Multiple Sclerosis. so, in the hospital the neurologist said when the steroids had cleared my system i had to have a lumbar puncture. i’m pretty laid back, but those words sent me into a frenzy of anxiety and fear. my husband has had two and assured me if i had endured labor i could handle this. we’ll see.

two weeks ago i had the lumbar puncture. it was terrible. i was dehydrated. it took way too long. and the next day i got a spinal headache that lasted five days. i text everyone i knew who had one and asked what “normal” was for these headaches because i didn’t want a blood patch.

last night we received word that my grandfather passed away. my dad’s father. my last living, blood related grandparent. i had not received closure from losing my grandmother, is my assumption, because i cried longer and harder than normal for myself when finding these things out. no matter who it is, how close you are, what your life is like, death of someone or something is sanctifying.

loss brings perspective if you’ll let it have it’s toll and work on your heart. i fessed up to myself that i had feared so many unknowns and so many possibilities that just aren’t reality right now. what if i experience this with my eye again? what if i lose my vision? what if i have MS? and i won’t list out allll of the history we have with my husband’s medical history recently…you can read that here.

there is so much grace for the loss, for the sin, for the hope, for the disappointment.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

what we learned from a prophet & an adulterer

Image

If you missed Thursday, or just want a review, here are the notes! I was so blessed by your stories of redemption and the positives ways you encouraged one another with what you learned from our time together. Looking forward to this coming Thursday!

Melissa Sharp

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart

September 11, 2013

the pursuit of happiness. lies.

the pursuit of obedience. truth.

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

  1. Gomer is promiscuous.

It is evident that Gomer was a woman who had been exposed and addicted to the moral decay of her society, and God intended to use Hosea’s relationship with her as an object lesson of His own relationship with His unfaithful people, Israel.

  1. Israel is unfaithful.

What God says is wrong with Israel:

God said there was no faithfulness, or kindness, or knowledge of him (4:1); there was swearing, deception, murder, stealing, and sexual vice (4:2); the prophets and priest were corrupt (4:4); the priests no longer taught the knowledge of God (4:6); the religious leaders had become merely opportunists, in their greed profiting from the sins of the people (4:7); there was harlotry, and drunkenness (4:11); the people had become idol worshipers (4:12), and we know from 2 Kings 17 that there were human sacrifices.

  1. God is intentional.

The naming of the children from God’s perspective:

The first child was named, Jezreel.  Jezreel was both a city and a territory located in the heart of Israel, and it was from the heartland of Jezreel that much of the wickedness associated with Israel’s history originated.

The second child was named Lo-ruhamah.  This name comes from two Hebrew words: lo in Hebrew is a negative, and means “no,” or “not,” and ruhamah means, “to have pity.”  So the name “Lo-ruhamah” means, “to have no pity.”

The third child was named Lo-ammi, meaning “not mine.”

  1. God is redemptive.

The story of the book is about how God, who found Israel to be stubbornly faithless and spiritually rebellious, had to allow them to experience the consequences of their waywardness.

God’s purpose for Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to confront Israel with their sin of unfaithfulness.

Hosea 2

Gomer leaves and is unfaithful in her lifestyle.

At some point Hosea came to the realization that providing for Gomer’s needs wasn’t going to help unless her heart changed; in fact, it would only enable her to continue her wayward lifestyle, so he made the very difficult decision to cut off her support. In time the consequences she had been protected from began to roll in. Eventually Gomer’s lover sold her into slavery, and she discovered the sad truth that so many others have discovered: that often what presents itself as an opportunity for self-fulfillment, ends in bondage and despair.

Hosea 3:1-5

We notice that Gomer, though purchased, was not immediately restored to her former status as a wife, and things would remain that way until her heart changed. The same is true with God and Israel. God allowed Israel to experience the consequences of their unfaithfulness.

He’s waiting for a change of heart, and it hasn’t happened yet, but it’s going to happen. Did you notice when? Verse 5 says, “in the last days.”

Common Themes:

Unfailing love. Who freely gives? Who receives?

Acts of love vs. feeling.  Compare your reactions to the reality of Hosea’s response. What is the difference between reacting & responding?

Redemption. God & Hosea confront & love through rebelliousness & disobedience. How can you follow that lead in your relationships?

Idolatry. How are you idolatrous? How does it affect your relationships?

***If you would like my personal teaching notes with extra information, please contact me at sharp.mrs@gmail.com