when fear took hold of me

Yesterday my husband and I hiked up to a place that we hadn’t been to for a long, long time. A few years before our momentous hike (this was the place of our engagement) I gathered up in this spot with a huge group of friends. We had hiked up to these rocks and broke bread together, had great fellowship and worshiped in song together. It is a sweet memory.

When I walked up there yesterday and walked down to these rocks I just stood there thinking: when did this propensity for fear grasp me so tightly? You can’t tell from these pictures, but these rocks basically hang over a huge drop-off. And those many years ago we were spread all over those rocks. And I can tell you I probably had no fear at all of this fact. But today, I only stood in the clearing. There was no way I was even going to touch one of those rocks with my toes.

Since yesterday, I’ve just been praying through where I’ve been in the years since then and especially these past few years when fear has gripped me so tightly. I’ve been asking the Lord to show me where it was that I began to trust Him less and me more? And that’s when I started to realize that that was the issue. At some point, my time with Him, my worship of Him, my prayers to Him became more about my immediate needs and more about where I was and less about where He was taking me. I became more focused on figuring out how to get in and out of situations, instead of living in them with Him.

I don’t know how many things I’ve missed because I’ve been trying to do it my way. I don’t know how many things I’ve not been a part of because I let my fear override His capacity to uphold and sustain. But I do know that true freedom is only going to come as I let go of control. If I don’t let go, I might never get to see a view like this.

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an exodus story in the making

Our redemption means little to us if we don’t remember where we’ve come from.”

If we are in Christ, we have an exodus story. We have a story where the Lord led us right up to the Red Sea, but it didn’t stop there. For many of us, our story is much like the Israelites and their time in slavery. Our past is filled with hard things, things we would rather forget. But when faced with a sea in front of us that seems impossible to cross, the things behind us and the way we were seems much easier and safer.

But God came. He comes.
He redeems us.
He opens wide the seas and gets us across.
We look behind us and see the horses, chariots and Egyptians that have been crushed.
and He does that to our past.
He takes those things that have hurt us and crushes them.
He gives my story a new ending.

Sacred remembering is always about what we do with pain and hope…’pain that isn’t transformed is transmitted.’ In one way or another our futures rest on the shoulders of how we remember our past.

This is the key to my exodus story. I need to remember it.
But I need to view it through His lens. Looking at my past as redemption. Not focusing on all the things that were missing, but focusing on how I’ve been found. I can hem and haw about all the issues with my upbringing and what I didn’t have and how hard it makes my parenting today. Or, I can see all the ways that God met me and brought me to His feet, even in the midst of an unbelieving family. That is redemption. I can see all the ways that the Lord has brought me through Red Sea after Red Sea, instead of being stuck looking at the chariots that were driving after me.

Jesus suffered to give me a new future and a constant hope.”
I have scars to be sure, but so does the One who knows my past and pain even more than I will ever understand.

Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed
~ Revelation 15: 3-4

(all quotes taken from Invitations from God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun)

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risking the jump

I listened to most of a sermon (the rest today!) from MarK Driscoll of Mars Hill Church about Jesus and Children. Wow! I’ve still got more to listen to, but what floored me over and again was how much Jesus loved children. He didn’t care that they were smelly, boogery or invaded His space. He let them climb all over Him.
And more than that; He was a child.

It spoke volumes into my heart that tends to be too serious. I’ve long been one of those people that stands back and takes it all in. I have to really get my bearings before I jump headlong into something.
The problem with my mothering is that I’m still teetering on the edge of jumping headlong.
It’s a fearful thing to jump into something fully and mothering is like jumping into a pit where you can’t really see the bottom. You just have to trust that there is something there to catch you.

I’ve been a mother for eight years now and I’m still sitting on the edge. The water is cold and I don’t want to get all the way wet yet. But if we are going to make it through the next eight years. If I am going to really get to know my children…really know them, I’m going to have to hold my nose, close my eyes and JUMP.

The Lord gave me these children and their personalities and tendencies. He is molding them into His creation and there are a million and one reasons why He gave these particular gems to me. Even at the worst of times when I feel lost and don’t know what I’m doing as a mother, He has given me everything I need to raise them up.

I am thankful for a God who knows what it is to be a child and a parent. He knows what it is to be smothered by others, covered in dirt and loved on. He knows what it is to love and lose. He knows what it means to jump.

By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory. ~ I Peter 1:3

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oh the guilt

Guilt. Such a hard, hard thing to shake. Especially as a mother. Every time I discipline my children I can’t shake the little voice that comes blowing in that I am doing a horrible job. As I send my little girl off to school, after much tears and spankings and oh so much drama; how do I shake this horrible feeling that she is going to spend her day brooding over how mean her mother was this morning? How do I shake this horrible feeling that she is going to remember me as this mother who sent her to school with a red, tear stained face; even if the last words I said to her were that I loved her and forgave her.

Where do we go with our guilt? Where do we take the constant barrage of voices and feelings that make us think we are doing the wrong thing…even when we know we are doing the right thing?

A. A. Calhoun writes in her book, Invitations from God, words that speak to my heart this morning:
God’s love for us isn’t dependent on right answers or perfect doctrine or never failing at anything…I don’t need to be afraid of being wrong (or failing, or making the wrong choice, or disciplining incorrectly, fill in the blank). Jesus’ death undoes the lies that tell me I am lovable only when I am right (or doing the “right” thing).

If I am filled with the Holy Spirit, if His Spirit is in my heart, it is more than just there to be there. His Spirit is softening my heart. His Spirit is giving me the ability to accept my failures and successes for His glory, with the knowledge that He is redeeming and making all things new. He can take the bad and ugly and make it good. His Spirit brings freedom and the courage to bear. (A. A. Calhoun)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will
Romans 8:26-27

May I walk through this day, remembering the Spirit that walks with me is groaning with me. May this Spirit take away the guilt that I am failing my children and my husband and may the words I spoke to my daughter this morning, that “I love her and forgive her…no matter what”, ring true to my heart.

The Lord says the same to me.

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what are my eyes fixed on?

It’s been one of those weeks where I have begun to realize how often I have berated my children for berating each other. How does that work? That in trying to teach them how to treat each other, I am more often modeling towards them how not to treat each other. And for as much as I’ve been frustrated with their lack of tenderness for each other, I am realizing my lack of tenderness towards them.

It’s a hard thing for a parent to swallow…the realization that more often than not, it’s our sin showing in their actions. But what do we do about it?
If I continue to keep my eyes fixed on the sin and the struggle,
if I continue to cling to the excuse that we are forging new ground here; raising our children up in the Lord,
nothing is really going to change.

I serve the same God as
Do I remember that?

But if I keep my eyes fixed on the
uncrossable sea,
the giant in front of me
or the lions licking my heels
I will never have victory.

I want to raise my hands up like David and claim
“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands!” ~ 1 Samuel 17:47
but more than claim it; I want to believe it and trust it.

God’s word tells us we are
and we can do all things through Christ.
I want to live this and breathe it into my children and my husband.
That every interaction would be God breathed.

For You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust. O Lord from my youth.
~ Psalm 71:5

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