Raising Children During Chaos

Raising children in the midst of chaos can seem like a task of responsibility and accountability because our hearts are filled with thoughts of logistics, plans, & overwhelmed by circumstances. 
Pressing into Jesus while I admonish our children has made me the most aware and humbled by the gift of the Holy Spirit. 
While their behavior is filled with selfishness, tantrums, questions, and the need for training, it isn’t abnormal. It can feel like the greatest inconvenience, though, when my heart is reeling and my thoughts aren’t captive to Christ. 
I’m overwhelmed by the grace and wisdom the Spirit speaks into me and through me when I’m gently talking through life with my children. When a directive, a calm answer, or wise training comes from the depths of my innermost heart. I’m overwhelmed because Jesus speaks to me even more than whatever I’m speaking to my children. 
When I’m speaking hope and understanding to them (through the Spirit’s leadership), it’s actually me He’s speaking to…filling up my heart and mind to prompt me towards steadfastness. I’ll never stop growing, and the inconveniences of nurturing and training my children insure this and though I don’t always thank God for it, I am today. 
So today when my heart is very aware of the circumstances today holds, as we travel to another town to meet with an oncologist to hear pet scan results and chemo treatment plans, I’m asking the Lord to calm my anxious heart with moments of truth shared with my children that are ultimately for us all. 
Grace so free, washes over me. 

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today’s demands teach tomorrow’s grace

the day is nearing the end. the pressure to meet the demands is over. did you meet them? what is success?

define success for yourself so you know your own expectations for yourself. evaluate them. make yourself some benchmarks. no one hits their success of huge goals immediately. it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

in fact, that’s what usually keeps me from making goals. or making attempts at my own expectations. i have failed before. i have hit the evening (it seems every day) with a miserable gut check that i accomplished NOTHING i set out to complete that day.

the reality? i didn’t set out to complete anything. i had a mental to do list. and a child woke up too early. he demanded specific items for breakfast. said items ended up all over my sheets. youngest child wakes up screaming, too. they both have pungent diapers and soaked clothes. now to more food and bottles and cups full of milk. toys spread everywhere. fingers touching dangerous things. tiny bodies climbing to high places that cause immediate danger and panic. they’re quiet now……interrupt productivity to find the children. toys everywhere. one wants to paint. can i watch a show? let’s have a snack! momma we miss dadda. why are you screaming? snack? milk? diaper? align the cosmos?!?! oh it’s lunch. what are we having (that would have been on my mental to do list—meal planning, maybe at naptime). oh you don’t want to eat anything on your plate? out of the 7 options i put on there? hm. time for nap. no one wants to take a nap? momma does! can we trade?! WHEW. youngest is down without a hitch. spanking. screaming. gnashing of teeth. compromise. promise. spanking. screaming. gnashing of teeth. no sleep today. no nap=nothing accomplished for momma. every one up. snacks. milk. more milk. they drink milk all day. could i be a dairy farmer? nope. i’d never make it. thought detour. clean up kitchen. get ready to start dinner. MASS HYSTERIA AND EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MINDS. momma is going to cook dinner? act like a crazed maniac! because….she doesn’t cook dinner ALMOST every night??! i mean, what a shock! cooking to the music of screaming, yelling, fit throwing, ……. DADDA IS HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we’re the happiest boys alive! oh? that screaming? we just wanted to see how many decibels she could take! and dinner. bath. clean up rooms. bed.

the end of the day. i survived. but i did i thrive? was there joy emitted? today’s demands have made me aware that it’s night’s end and i must accept the grace for the moments that were not beautiful and walk into tomorrow with grace for the moments that will be challenging.

for where i felt like a failure today, i can only make a goal for how to approach that situation again and what it would look like to be a success. i was never a failure. feelings are NOT Truth.

progress, not perfection is the strategy with which i’ll run this marathon.

i want my husband and children to see grace. lived and offered. not the cranky, i’m short tempered with the world because of my own shortcomings, attitude i’ve exhibited lately. they don’t need to be effected with emotions for where i THINK i’ve failed, they need to have me fully present in my calling as a wife and a mom and the TRUTH of what that calling is—that’s where i am seeking my identity. not the 10 absolute best aspects of 10 people that i expect myself to be all wrapped up in one individual.

marathon. not sprint.

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.

For better or worse

Post from my blog sharpexpressions that was written September 6, 2011. Drake would have been 10 months (almost 🙂

I posted a status on Facebook this weekend that said “I wish I could record Drake all day. His facial expressions are priceless & his mumblings in an effort to talk are going to be sweet memories once he’s talking all the time! He’s so much fun. So thankful we get to be stewards of him for now. What a perfect gift.”

I soon realized how far my understanding of this concept of stewardship has come. It has developed by way of difficult circumstances, joyous blessings, and moments of struggle.  I have come to a place of understanding this life is temporal and we are preparing for the eternal. Jesus healed many while He was on earth, but His healings were the the precursor to the ultimate, eternal Healing He was to bring.

I was 26 when I married by husband, who was 28 at the time.

We were by no means old, but we hadn’t just graduated college either. My singleness was a season. For better or for worse. The enjoyable times were the better and the lonely times were the worse. Let it be known that loneliness doesn’t disappear on the wedding day. The enjoyable times were filled with sporadic meetings with college girls, encouraging them, discipling them, challenging them, and all the while growing in my knowledge leaps and bounds. I was able to go where I wanted when I wanted. I was free to make decisions on a whim, change my budget (or not have one), I only had myself to contend with (with household tangibles…I’m not referring to huge matters of influence such as irresponsible, unstable, untrustworthy behavior, etc.) My schedule was my own. The lonely times were complete with silence in my bedroom. Moments of weeping to the Lord of my great desire to have someone in this life to care for and help (I had no real understanding of the magnitude of responsibility and accountability that desire held). There were days filled with question after question for God. **If you’re in this season, how are you treasuring, coveting, and utilizing this time? Are you a good steward of this season, for better and for worse? In the enjoyable times are pouring your time into whatever the Lord has for you now? (School, family, friendships, discipling, serving?) Are you using the lonely times to be sifted and refined for the Eternal purpose you are here to serve? The Lord quickly broke me with the reality that He doesn’t promise us marriage, children, friends, home, etc. He has a lot for us and we are to walk in this lot with grand thankfulness and resourcefulness.  He walks with you through these seasons to sanctify and purify you. Are you letting Him? He uses the seasons to make you look more like His Son..are you drawing nearer to Him?

These seasons are a grand picture that tie together little hills and valleys in our lives. He calls us to walk gracefully through EACH season and within that time frame we are to be good stewards of all that is in our sphere of existence. Wherever you are now, there are other people  in your life who benefit by watching (or should benefit) how you rest in Him and pursue Him.

Are you a good steward of your friendships? Some friends stay and some friends go. Is your time spent with them in such a way, that whether they stay or leave, you have no regrets?

  • Be graciously honest with them.
  • Meet conflict directly and concisely.
  • Apologize immediately where you must.
  • Forgive immediately where you must.
  • Go out of your way to meet their needs. It will return to you. (Don’t meet their needs with expectations or pay back in mind…Jesus doesn’t handle us in that regard.)

Are you a good steward of your relationship with your family?

  • Forgive them.
  • Honor your father and mother. It might cost so be prepared, but remember it is commanded for a reason and He will bless you and keep you in this area if you are obedient.
  • Get Christian counseling if your past necessitates it.
  • Make time for them.
  • Find ways to encourage them.
  • Bless them.
  • I am not naive to the fact there are some families where these actions are not possible. If you know the Lord and are surrounded by godly counselors, you know how to walk in this area. If you need help, ask a seasoned believer who is walking faithfully with the Lord. They will help you be accountable where you can be with your family and discern where you are not responsible.

Are you a good steward of your marriage?

  • Pray for your spouse.
  • Discuss Truth and theology
  • Be tender. Be aware.
  • Be affectionate.
  • Ask for forgiveness. Be forgiving.
  • Tell them good things about themselves first and then do it in public. Build your spouse up–it’s you and your spouse against the world at all times. If you’re in a battle with one another, you’ve lost your ally.

Are you a good steward of your children’s affections and their hearts? You only get a very short time with them.

  • Pray for them.
  • Pray with them.
  • Teach them Scripture.
  • Teach them obedience and faith.
  • Spend time with them above everyone else (except your spouse).
  • Model a healthy, godly marriage for them.
  • Be affectionate towards them and value their affection for you.
  • Tell them good things about themselves and then tell everyone else.

Are you a good steward of your time? Not a selfish time keeper.

  • Spend time first with your spouse, children, & family (quality time)
  • If you are single and without children, first spend time with your family, then your closest circles of friends.
  • Let your time be spend in prayer, reading the Word, Scripture memory, music, etc. Whatever stirs your affections for Christ and causes you to look more like Him.
  • Plan your time well. A calendar of your regular days’ commitments, monthly commitments, regular meetings & events, and other planned/scheduled happenings. Then fit other things into that frame. Be prepared for interruptions. The Lord will interrupt you and it’s an opportunity to be a good steward in another area (helping a friend, having faith when He allows inconvenience of a car break down, etc) of your life if you’re already a good steward of your time.

Are you a good steward of your finances? All that you’ve been given…is just that…GIVEN.

  • Recognize your WHOLE lot as being given.
  • Decide how to use what you’ve been given to honor Him.
  • Tithe.
  • Save.
  • Don’t overspend.
  • Pay off what you’ve already overspent, if you have.
  • Don’t make rationalizations for your wants. If you can afford it, be wise, if you can’t, be wise.

Are you a good steward of your possessions? Again, you’ve been given all that you have.

Take inventory of your possession.

  • Evaluate how it can be used to bless others. (A house can be a safe place for children from families who don’t know Christ, it can be a home away from home for a college student, etc. A car can be used to carpool for someone without a vehicle, to help families save money, or to give a child a ride with your family for a few minutes and be exposed to Christians if he/she is from an unchurched home.)
  • Don’t waste your possessions.
  • Take care of what you’ve got. It’s been given to you, cherish it.

The Lord blesses us with such enjoyable moments. However, there are seasons of hurting and struggling, too. How you respond to each is a reflection of your faith.

33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (see Matthew 6:33 to know what “these things” are) will be added to you.

Are you in time out?

As I’ve walked with the Lord, there have been seasons in areas of my life where I spend more time than is comfortable in the wilderness. Praise the Lord our whole being isn’t in the wilderness like the Israelites experienced. It may feel like a total wilderness sometimes, but if we’re honest, most of us have more love, friends, family, belongings, and treasures than the majority and we can think on healthier things than our “this isn’t fair” attitude that steals our joy.

I’ve had a season of wilderness in my call to ministry. Or, so I perceived. In 2009 Brady and I both switched jobs, bought a house, I had a miscarriage, and I had gallbladder surgery.

Brady went from working with his dad and commuting to seminary, to full time college pastor at FBCWF. I went from teaching 6th grade self-contained at a Title 1 school to teaching 6th and 7th grade English/Language Arts at a Christian private school.

The home we bought needed to be gutted (basically) and remodeled. Oh my word at the transformation. My husband is absolutely gifted at developing and carrying out a vision…for life, for ministry, for creative purposes, whatever it is, he’s a genius with vision. We planned, prepared, shopped, stripped wallpaper, sheetrock, stripped popcorn texture, tore down walls, poured concrete into our living room, painted, painted, painted, shopped some more, all new light fixtures, wall plugs, switch plates, brand new hard wood floors (x3 after they came up), repairs, gutted an entire bathroom and did a designer job with the tile, I have gone on and on and I could go on some more! (All of this with help from both sets of parents and college students who are long gone, having moved on with their lives…we’ve been at First long enough to have students who are married, have children, and are in a career!).

After trying to get pregnant for 6 months, we found out we were going to have a baby (or so we THOUGHT). So excited, nervous, overwhelmed. After 6 weeks we found out we were not going to have this precious baby as he/she was already dancing with Jesus. What a blessed baby! Such a sweeter place for a baby, even though I think we have a pretty sweet place, that baby is not hurting or under the weight and oppression of this world that we cannot protect him/her from no matter how we would have tried.

Gallbladder attacks are no joke. Now that I’ve delivered 2 babies, I dare to say those attacks rank right up there in excruciating pain! SO thankful for His mercy and provision to not have those attacks when I was pregnant…no pain meds or surgery for a pregnant momma with gallbladder attacks. He knows best. He has a plan.

While all of this is going on, we are not even into college ministry at FBC for full year yet. I was called to ministry in college and spend the majority of 3 years pouring into other college women. I mean, spending time with 3-4 different girls a day, talking and praying and walking through life with them. It was a joy. It was pleasure. It was sifting and sanctifying for me. It was humbling. It was accountability. Now, I’m married. Now, I’m dealing with very personal, difficult life circumstances. I’m growing leaps and bounds in my understanding of true intimacy with the Lord and growing closer and closer to my husband. But, I felt so far away from my calling.

A new year! 2010! No baby, no gallbladder, and a new beginning! February–pregnant again! Pregnant and happy, but oh so terribly sick. For 9 months. I struggled to be involved, available, and connected with our college students. I’m being vulnerable to share here, that though my heart ached to be a sweet place of support and counsel for them, I struggled with the Lord that it just wasn’t His timing. I pleaded with Him for the ability to be the college pastor’s wife that was all they needed. I even tried to make it work and tried to do and be something that just didn’t fit His timing. Smart. Praise Him that He had women and college women in place to minister to them and love on them and support them. I had to be okay with that. I had to rejoice.

But, I felt like I was in time out. Isn’t it just like our flesh to look over the priceless joys we have (HAVING A BABY!) to the season we are hungry for that is actually just a vision we’re looking at through a past experience where we’re looking through rose colored glasses? That time I had enjoyed pouring into college girls’ lives was wonderful. But it’s in the past. It was hard! My rose colored glasses deceived me. I had forgotten what it was like to bear the burdens of others. I had forgotten the anger I received when a word spoken in truth and love wasn’t taken well. I had forgotten the humility and accountability when I had to lead them in areas where I had previously failed. By His grace, though, I remembered all of that as joy because of the deep relationships I had built and the way the growth permeated my whole being. (Isn’t He wonderful to let us remember all the good from seasons that were hard at the real life moment?)

I wasn’t in a time out. I wasn’t being punished. I was in a wilderness in my ache to minister to college and young married women. I was in a time of growing closer to the Lord. We can all always grow closer to Him and draw nearer to Him. I was in a time of pouring into my husband. Praise the Lord for that time, because at that time, He was the only other person in our home I had to pour into…I was able to grow in that part of my life before having to learn how to pour into him while caring for and discipling children. I was in a time of practically growing. Housekeeping, time managing, planning, and creating an atmosphere specific to our home were all on His agenda for this so-called wilderness where I wasn’t getting to do what I THOUGHT was the most important task of ministry. Oh, but I was ministering. My wise husband told me my ministry was to carrying this baby and ministering to him through our home and relationship. Wow. I had no idea how true that was then and would be in the future as I would be balancing wife and mom.

If you feel like you’re in a time out, talk to Him. Was Jesus always on His throne? He came to this filthy earth and took on flesh to walk among us. We are taken out of our element and we are taken out of seasons where we are the most comfortable and even where we may feel the most successful. This life and ministry aren’t about us “feeling” successful. Tell Him you hurt and ache for whatever it is you really want to be doing. He already knows your heart, the deep longings and the bites of selfishness. In your moments of weeping to Him, listen to what He’s whispering or yelling into your Spirit. There is a place and area in your being that He is refining. Think about all those creative and upcycling ideas you’ve seen on Pinterest or HGTV. That dresser that was sanded down to nothing. It wasn’t pretty. It took a lot of sanding, which was a lot of hard work for the Sander. But, the person sanding poured them self into that hard work, maybe got callouses, got tired and dirty. That’s what the Lord is doing for us in our seasons of wilderness. He knows our heart and our longings. He loves us so much He won’t let us walk into the Promise Land unprepared and not capable. He is equipping you, even in the midst of our selfish flesh who feels as though this season of sitting on the bench feels unfair. It’s actually a time of such closeness and dependence on Him. Soak up the time He’s pouring into you and investing in you. He does have great plans and worthy moments for you coming. Jeremiah 29:11 isn’t a feel good verse just to memorize in hopes that He will make our future great. It is a specific piece spoken to a hurting, yet hopeful group of people. Look at it’s context.

A letter which Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Babylon, against their prophets that they had there (Jer. 29:1-3), in which letter, 1. He endeavours to reconcile them to their captivity, to be easy under it and to make the best of it, Jer. 29:4-7. 2. He cautions them not to give any credit to their false prophets, who fed them with hopes of a speedy release, Jer. 29:8, 9. 3. He assures them that God would restore them in mercy to their own land again, at the end of 70 years, Jer. 29:10-14. 4. He foretels the destruction of those who yet continued, and that they should be persecuted with one judgment after another, and sent at last into captivity, Jer. 29:15-19. 5. He prophesies the destruction of two of their false prophets that they had in Babylon, that both soothed them up in their sins and set them bad examples (Jer. 29:20-23), and this is the purport of Jeremiah’s letter. II. Here is a letter which Shemaiah, a false prophet in Babylon, wrote to the priests at Jerusalem, to stir them up to persecute Jeremiah (Jer. 29:24-29), and a denunciation of God’s wrath against him for writing such a letter, Jer. 29:30-32. Such struggles as these have there always been between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.—Matthew Henry’s Commentary

I think this is true exhortation for us all. Talk to Him. Trust Him. Seek counsel. Do the next thing even it doesn’t include a glamorous action that will effect the Kingdom in visible ways. You are always effecting Eternity. With every movement and decision. Will your movements and decisions be in line with the Gospel. Choose today what your heart will exude…contentment or dissatisfaction?  You’re not in a time out. You’re called to……

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