what i’m not taking for granted.

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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.

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Defintions Matter

I have seen so many posts lately on Facebook that give the details to life, or so they seem. It is words of “wisdom” or “how to do it right”.

I became convicted after seeing a post because I thought to myself, I wonder if I post in a way that seems arrogant? So, I took a look back at my posts. It was a neat time of reflecting, because what I saw what a definition of my self. I saw what is most important to me (or who is most important to me), where my focus is, and what motivates my spirit. I saw some things I didn’t like or that I thought weren’t pertinent to sharing socially. So I was able to sift through and decide on a purpose for my social media connections.

I was confident in my social media self because it is a real reflection of who I am and the Lord has done a unique work in me during the past 5 years to give me freedom and security in myself. All people need and want that. I’m a work progress, everyone is, and it’s ok. It’s ok to be a work in progress as long as we’re working and progressing.

As I was reading these posts, my concern came from whether our hearts seek to admonish and encourage…or condemn. Sometimes when I read someone’s “wisdom” it comes across as condemnation. Mainly because it appears as a command and order, rather than a personal conviction of their work in progress. The world and the enemy do their best, and sometimes rather successfully, to condemn us. I doubt we need an acquaintance on facebook to do much more. But when we share, out of our own walk, experience, and working in progress, others are encouraged and admonished. They see our love that is Truth spoken through our work in progress.

Encourage::to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence

Admonish::to caution, advise, or counsel against something.

Condemn::to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure.

This does not go without saying, we cannot effect how someone reacts or responds to our words. But we can be diligent to share the truth in love without condemning. And when we have something to say, we say it to the individual (Matthew 18) and they know we are seeking to love them and hold them accountable (while we, ourselves, are vulnerable to be held accountable, also).

On the contrary to these thoughts, I have been so edified by watching others via social media. Other moms, who have more kiddos than I, walking faithfully through motherhood and boldly walking into new seasons with their children that I have yet to trod. Other marriages as they navigate what it is to walk in biblical healthy marriages. Our college students as they maneuver a much more difficult society than when I was in college and working and seeking the Lord. It’s motivating to watch, via social media, others who are close and far away, as they show their work in progress and do difficult things and make hard decisions, all the while sharing with all of their “friends” on facebook what life looks like for them. Being a good steward involves all of our lives. Even social media. Are we stewarding our opportunity to be real, yet graceful, on social media?

We have more today than ever to be responsible for, and this more includes social media. I’m convicted of the ways I let it steal life from me, yet motivated to use it as a tool to connect and share using my gifts. Everything is a conduit for sharing the gospel, will I press into that opportunity even with social media?

Two Hearts, One Flesh (week 1 preview & discussion questions)

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our calling as wives

1. be a helper (Genesis 2:18)

2. be virtuous (strength AND substance) (Prov. 31:10,11)

3. be prudent (Prov. 19:14)

4. be submissive (Ephesians 5:22)

5. be a companion

Questions to think about before we meet::

*Where is your husband “wanting” & needing your help or encouragement? What needs can you meet?

*How do your decisions and kindness show godly wisdom that prove you to be virtuous (valuable) to your husband?

*Think of examples where you have chosen to fear the Lord which ultimately gained you strength in your character?

*How can you more effectively pray towards your husband in order that you will bolster him and, in turn, cause yourself to trust his lead more effectively?

*What are some areas you need to subdue your selfishness in order to stop trying to control and start submitting?

*What are some things you can do to be sensitive to desires, activities, needs that will cause you to be a better companion to your husband?

Sifting Sandpaper

Sometimes the sanctification and brokenness feels as though we’re being stripped of all that is us, but He’s replacing it all with all that is of Him. That’s much more valuable and beneficial than our flesh. -me

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I love my husband. More than any person in my life and second most to my Savior. He has had chronic pain for 15 months now. It started with a 9 day hospital stay, more tests than I can re-cap, and finally a diagnosis that has, so far, only resulted in medication as a fix (for now, hopefully).

The first 3 months I was on pure adrenaline and desperation to find out what was wrong with him and to keep him comfortable. During that time, I became pregnant and was staying home with our 14 month old son. (What a HUGE blessing and provision that I had already been a SAHM! I was able to take care of the most important people in my life without worry of losing my job. Although, they may have wanted to fire me!)

He progressively got better, I progressively got more pregnant and miserable, and our toddler got progressively more busy! Our second son was born in November of the same year that my husband was diagnosed with a thoracic condition.

In January 2013, it had been a year since he first began hurting. Like all seasons ebb and flow, I hit a wall with being a care-giver. I wish I could sugar coat my emotions, but the reality is my meager attempts at managing my emotions revealed my true attempts were just out of my flesh. I needed help and I needed someone to reveal grace and mercy and speak Truth to me. I needed someone to remind me that Jesus doesn’t tell us to “pull yourself up by the boot straps” (that had become my motto). Jesus doesn’t tell us “well, this is just your lot so deal with it.” Truth be told, I knew my life wasn’t hard. I knew my life was pretty spectacular! I was just tired. I was weary. I felt alone. So, I made a call (ok, I made a text!). To a staff wife at our church that I have known and trusted since I was in high school. Her husband, too, deals with chronic pain. I needed some wisdom. I needed some guidance. I knew if I didn’t get some light shed on my heart soon it was going to become bitter.

So we went to get a soda and talked. She is a discerning counselor and had prayed specifically for what the Lord would have her say to me. (By the way, don’t ever seek someone’s counsel who isn’t praying and sensitive to the Spirit-my two cents).

I began to share with her the nitty gritty of my ugly heart right now. I’m tired. I feel selfish. I want to do the things that interest, energize, and refresh me. But there’s no time for it. (This was smack in the middle of a week where my husband was in bed due to a spell of debilitating pain). But the flip side to these emotions::At least my husband is still with me! My husband is still able to work and provide for us! My husband still loves me and our sons with his whole being and ministers to us with an overflowing Jesus love that few people have these days! My husband loves people so much that he wants to burst sometimes and ministers out of the overflow of who Christ is in him! Those are some pretty gigantic positives! The reality of my emotions and truth were waging war in my being. So, here comes her questions and what the Lord led her to ask and speak.

“Melissa, what’s your picture for you life? What do you see, what do you want? Now, what do you think God’s big picture is for you? What does He want? Do those line up?”

Absolutely not. They don’t. I shared with her that I had already been convicted for two weeks before meeting with her that I needed to say no to a lot of things and people, including myself. That is one of the most painful pieces of sandpaper I have ever felt scratch across the surface of my very delicate flesh and selfishness. So I had already started saying no to others and myself. It was hard. It hurt. It felt unfair. Now I could realize the real reason I started realizing my selfishness was coming to the surface was an unfortunate collision of the conviction to say no and now my husband was needing me totally and I didn’t even have the choice to say no now, I had to in order to be available to him. How wretched am I that I’m struggling with selfishness when my family needs me? Well, I can just see it now. We’re all wretched and deceived by our hearts. Thankfully, Jesus can redeem that!

I will give you a few examples. I was having a get together at my home. I LOVE to decorate and make themes. I’m not really good at it, but I enjoy it. I enjoy others’ enjoying my decorations. For this get together, I promised myself my home would be clean, but no extras. I stuck to it. I didn’t like it, but I stuck to it.

I’ve wanted to decorate Drake’s room for a while. And I want to do it on the cheap, but that requires a lot of hand making and creativity. I’ve put that to the side. He doesn’t care. He’s a boy. He loves his bed and that’s all he wants in there. It’s about me and feeling accomplished and impressed with myself (let’s call it what it is) and that’s not worth the time away from my family, the money, or the chance of not meeting their needs.

It was all a bunch of sifting. It still is. That dross that He’s refining out of His gold (me) hasn’t all completely come to the top yet. But He says I’m worth the time it takes to refine. He says I’m so worth it, that He sent His Son to die on the Cross and His Son left us the Holy Spirit to continue working in this sinful heart. He won’t ever be done working on me until I’m in heaven. So this is just one more chapter in the book of my sanctification.

His big picture for me right now?

Wife. My husband came first and comes first out of all of my relationships on earth.

Mom. We prayerfully added little humans into our family and they are our responsibility. The number one priority for our marriage under glorifying the Lord (which covers everything else to come under here) is to provide for and disciple our children. We are and will be held accountable for this area.

Then some. I was called to college ministry before I married my husband. That calling has expanded to ministering to women in all seasons. College, marriage, mommyhood, adult mothers who have college students….this is my calling and I enjoy the moments shared with ladies.

My lot isn’t a place where He resides to give me everything hard. My lot is the place where I come to see who I am in relation to Christ, secure my identity, and walk with Him to continue in ministry and laboring for Him.

Web places that encourage me in these areas::

Finding Joy

Focus on the Family

Dr. James Dobson

Jen Hatmaker

Family Matters

Lysa TerKeurst