Heart Wide Open

Tears flowed at the table. 7:05am. My tired kindergartener struggling to eat breakfast because he is too tired. Me yelling at him enough is enough, it’s time to go to school. Him telling me in his heart that this is new and uncomfortable and he is unsure of this new thing. He is forced to go to this new place. We were out late last night as my husband and I served a church in Mclean, VA.

Guilt floods my heart, I wipe his tear from his cheek and tell him it’s going to be ok, that I will take care of him and promise cuddle time later in the day, after school.

2 hours later, I sit at the same table. Unexpected tears flow down my cheeks.

As I sit and seek God’s heart, He brings me to a new place and reveals hidden corners of my heart. Corners I didn’t know were there. Only God can know us so deeply.

I am reminded of grace. How much I need it. How much more I need to show it. God begins to challenge me. Give more. Serve more. This will quench the loneliness you feel in the land of church planting.

You see this past weekend I struggled with a great many things. One of those being anxiety. Church planting is taking its toll. God is directing my path. He is changing my course. Because he knows me inside and out and knows what I need. Need to feel fulfilled. I have so much to learn from him.

Surrounded by hurting people affects me. I hear their stories and it rocks me to my core. Women sit on my couch. Unexpected tears flow down their cheeks and they are hurting. How can I help? How can I give? I can only possibly serve them. Wash their feet. I can only give out of the overflow of grace I have been given. I have no answers or solution. Only that a God filled with grace knows them, loves them, and sees them. El Roi.

As tears stream down my tired face and weary soul, God wipes my cheeks and tell me it’s ok. I have been forced into this new place. Not like you think. It’s from a deep love and trust for God and a willingness to serve him from gratefulness. My heart cries out to God that this new place is uncomfortable and I am unsure of this new thing. He speaks so sweetly. So soft and gentle. From serving I will experience joy like never before. An intimacy with Him so deep.  I long to serve, to experience His joy and know His grace deeper still.

I need less things. I need less. I need to give more. Give more time. Give more money. Spend less money. Think of myself less. Think of others more.

This anxious heart surrenders to the will of Him who called me. He is teaching me so sweetly. I go to “school” and hope to learn. Life is His school. I long to be flooded by His grace and flood others with this same grace.

Surrendered I sit at the table. Hot coffee in hand. Tears on cheeks and heart wide open…

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Walking Outside Of My Comfort Zone

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In two weeks my family and I will be moving to be full-time missionaries. This new adventure has left me undone. I have never been more scared. I have never been more paralyzed with fear. I have never had a bigger fire in my belly to share the love of Christ. I have never been more excited to see how my relationship with God will change and become more intimate. I have never leaned on God more to show me how to love people.

Jason and I live a life of comfort. We love our home. We love our church. He has a steady job as and a steady paycheck. I stay home with our children. We can afford to pay our utilities. There is food on our table everyday. Though this current living scenario has taught us to live better on a budget and count every penny, we are truly blessed.

Here is the deal. We live in a world that says comfort yourself. Do whatever it takes to feel good. God is calling Christian’s to do the opposite.

Live a life of risk.

Live a life of love.

Live a life out of your comfort zone.

I always thought if I became a missionary I would be selling everything and moving to the jungles. That actually sounds appealing to me. A life of simplicity brings with it much peace and ease. However, we are moving to a suburb outside of Washington, D.C. where people are surrounded by wealth and material objects. This is a mission field out of my comfort zone. This is an incredibly distracting mission zone. The world will be pulling on me and my family in many ways. I pray that I can keep my focus on Him and not “keeping up with the Jones’.”

The gospel must be spread. We must get out of our consumer driven Christian pews and go change the world. We must sacrifice. We must do the hard things that make no sense except for the nudging of the Holy Spirit within you.

If you have a crazy idea and it makes no sense but requires the further spreading of God’s love and gospel, do it! It is probably from the Holy Spirit. He asks us to do wacky stuff!

I can tell you this; God will always be prompting us to go further, go harder, and do more. It is for the sole reason of deepening our relationship with Him. He desires fellowship with us! If we follow Him into the unknown and live out of our comfort zone, it will be the most rewarding thing we ever do!

We will truly live “life to the fullest!”

So today…walk outside of your comfort zone….you never know where it may lead…

A Washer On Fire and A Lesson On Faith

I started my day Thursday with 2 sick kids, a ton of laundry to do and a dirty house. I threw my load of laundry in and started on household tasks even before I had my coffee. I was determined to “make it happen”. Normally, I would have run out the door running errands, but with two sickies, we stayed in.

Not long after my wash had been running I saw smoke billowing from my laundry room! Much to my dismay, I opened my washer and it was on fire! Luckily, as I turned it off the smoke stopped coming out. Praise The Lord I was even home to catch this all going down! I quickly ventilated everything and called my husband in a panic.

(While I waited for him to come home I had time to put my situation on Facebook in frustration! It’s amazing what we find time to do for the good of Facebook)

He arrived home a few minutes later to help me assess the situation. Before he had a chance to speak I informed him that I would just have to use the credit card and get this taken care of today. We needed a washer and I would just load up the kids and go get one. We hate credit cards. We loathe credit cards. If we pull out the credit card, its an emergency.

It’s Christmas time and we had extra expenses so we couldn’t afford to just go get a new anything with our bank account. We were in a tough situation. I told my husband, “We just have to trust that God is in this somehow. He knew this was going to happen and He will take care of us.” He agreed and headed back to work. I quickly jumped online and began to look for same day delivery at our local appliance stores.

Pause. Notice what is missing here? I didn’t either until things began to unfold.

The day before my husband and I had been praying together for our finances. We deeply desired to make it through this holiday season without over spending and using any credit cards. So we prayed. As I went to the grocery store later after our prayer time I saw a bird. He was pirched on a grocery cart. The Lord immediately reminded me of Matthew 6. I call it the “don’t worry” chapter. His spirit flooded my heart and reminded me that He would provide for us.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Back to the story, as I was on the internet, I jumped over to Facebook to see who was sympathizing with my sad situation. Instead, I saw God providing! A friend in our small group had a new HE washer AND dryer they had been wanting to sell. They decided to give it to us! What?!!

I am telling you within 30 minutes I was given a new washer and dryer, had someone to help pick it up and deliver it! God provided!

I immediately felt conviction from the Holy Spirit. Earlier that morning I had taken control. I did not even stop to pray for direction in the moment. I did what I thought needed to happen. I attempted to solve the circumstances in my human flesh. Later my husband had told me he wanted to tell me this very thing but knew I would not take it well. You mean me overreacting? Yes, I would like a piece of humble pie please.

So today I learned a few lessons from God.

The first is to pray in the middle of chaotic moments for direction. Just to whisper words up to my heavenly father, he cares. To not take control. I was assessing the situation by sight, not by faith. The bible clearly tells us to walk by faith and NOT by sight.

The second lesson is that God provides. Above and beyond. He has already set things aside for our needs. I honestly never even thought I would have such a nice washer and dryer set. First I cried that God provided, then I cried because my clothes would actually be clean!

I am encouraged and grateful that God chose to teach me these precious lessons in faith. Thank you Lord for loving me, you’re daughter.

My Offering

This morning I arose at 4:30am to feed my 4 month old son. As I rolled out of bed I felt the swolleness of my right eye. Turns out I have a sty. (Gross, I know!) After I fed the baby I looked in the mirror only to see how terrible It looked. “Great!” I thought. “I have to sing in front of 1500ish people today for worship at church!”

I have to confess, I have been struggling with my self-image lately. I normally do after having a baby. My body feels anything but normal. It feels even less normal after having my third baby. My clothes don’t fit quite right. No money for new clothes so what I have is what is I have. Thank goodness for stretchy pants!! My hair has fallen out as it normally does with nursing. So no amazing volume like I see in every magazine ad. I think there are dark circles under my eyes from not sleeping through the night for 120 days straight! Even more than that I have been hearing lies from the enemy that I am not worth while, I am ugly and no one will like me. I know they are lies from him because I have heard them many times before.
I recently decided to start praying those lies out loud to The Lord. “I am having a hard time not believing these lies Lord. I know they do not align with what your word tells me. Your word tells me I am a daughter of the king. I was worthwhile enough for Christ to give His life for me. I am created in your image.” Saying these type of prayers really helps me refocus my heart and get my mind back in line with God.
Self-image is something most of us girls struggle with at one time or another. So this morning, as I stood on stage, I offered my postpartum body-clothes-dont-fit-right-my-eye-is-huge-I-think-I-have-a-bald spot self as a living sacrifice to God. I offered myself as an offering, a sweet fragrant offering to my King. I am his daughter after all. The enemy received no victory today because I know God looks at my heart and not my body. The body corrodes when we die, but our soul lives forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

True Contentment

I have always struggled with “just being a mom”. I know, I know, I can hear what your saying already. But for me, I wanted to change the world and live in Africa. I wanted to climb Mt. Everest and lead people to Jesus on the way. I wanted to have an amazing career and be thought of as an incredible executive. But instead, I find myself standing in the midst of laundry, runny noses, stacks of middle school homework, and juggling life. 

I have always tried to balance what I have wanted and what I have known my children need. They needed a mom who loves and cares for them. I needed to give back to something outside of the home. 
 
Yet, here I am pregnant with our 3rd child. God has already been prompting my heart. It’s time to give up. Give it all up. All my wants. Being a mom of a middle schooler, a toddler and a baby has me scared and stopped in my tracks. How am I gonna do this?! 
 
Today I watched my oldest son perform with his choir at the mall here where we  live. I wrestled with my toddler who hates to sit still, managed nausea from being pregnant and watched my oldest sing. As I watched my son sing, I got teary eyed. For the first time in a while I felt content. I love being a mom to these two boys. Today I loved wrestling my three year old. I loved watching my son and I love carrying our third child in my belly. My husband surprised us all at the mall and was able to slip away from work for a few minutes. We were all together. I felt true contentment. There was nothing else I wanted. No where else I wanted to be.
 
I can’t explain the reasons I loved this moment. I believe God is allowing me to experience true contentment in “just being a mom”. I already know the conversations about shaping godly children and bringing them up for Christ. I am trying my best to do that. But I am talking about just being content in sitting on the floor and playing blocks. Having messy hair and no makeup because I was up with a sick child and feeling compassion for them. Finding joy in getting up early to take my oldest to the bus stop at 6:45 am
 
God is teaching me to value these precious moments, to rest in them, and be content.  To take a deep breath and breath life in slowly. Baking cookies in the kitchen and playing outside until dark. All of these things matter. They matter big. What matters even more is that my children grow up with a mom content to be their mom and nothing else. 
 
I am learning. I am walking with an open heart scared of failing at this mom thing. But, I am leaning on Jesus to fill me with His love so I can pour it out to my children who need it most. I am counting on Jesus to keep showing me want true contentment looks and feels like. 

She Didn’t Thank Her For A Clean House…

A while ago I was asked to sing at a funeral of a precious woman, a mother, I had never met. I was honored to serve a couple in our church as this was their daughters funeral. She was unexpectedly killed in a car crash. I always believe God has something to teach me about life every time I attend a funeral and am reminded about death.

Well, He did not hold back on this one.

As I sat in the pew of the funeral home, people began to arrive. Sadness filled the room. I listened to loved ones share their heart…and I listened for God’s whisper to me. Finally, her 9-year-old daughter got up to speak about her mother. What she said changed me forever.

She had written a letter to her mom. It’s contents filled with as much love as a child could express on paper. “Mom, I miss you. I love that you always played board games with me. We baked cookies together in the kitchen and you always read to me before bed. I love you mom. You were always there for me.” Tears rolled down her little face as she spoke her words.

I was convicted and the holy spirit was moving in my heart. I noticed right away what was missing from this letter. This little girl never thanked her mom for a clean kitchen or folded laundry, an organized linen closet or clean bathrooms.

I made a vow right there, that I would get on the floor and play with my children more. I wasn’t going to worry about the dishes when my toddler was pulling on my leg. I wasn’t going to be stressed out and yell when the house was a mess. I had often chosen to clean house instead of spending time with my kids.

As women, we leave a legacy. This legacy stays with our family through generations. What we do now affects our great, great-grandson. Our children will remember the things we did with them and the love we lavished on them….or the love we didn’t give them.

What will you be remembered for? Will you be someone who gives generously and loves unconditionally? This is a calling that can only be accomplished with the power of Jesus Christ.

I would love to hear from you. What are you doing to leave a legacy? Let’s pray for each other and walk this road together!

The Famine

(I feel as if my time of famine is coming to a close, but I wanted to capture these thoughts in hope of encouraging others in their time of famine)

Well, here I am in the famine. This famine has been almost two years long. God has brought me and our family to a place of complete dependance. I will admit, following God is tough stuff. It’s not fancy lace and Easter bunnies. Yet, I am blessed. Anytime we see God call someone in the bible, it is most often followed by a time of famine. Look at Moses after he said yes at the burning bush. Shortly after he faced great personal famine as he attempted to free the Israelites. It was during that time I am sure he doubted himself and felt completely inadequate. Then there is David. He was anointed king by Samuel as a boy and then hits the personal famine. He is the unlikely choice. He is not even able to take the throne until years later and after much heartbreak. I can relate to these men. Saying yes to God’s call in your life is not to be taken lightly. He will prune you until there is nothing left. He strips down everything we depend on so that all that is left is Him. He needs to know our hearts our 100% depending on Him ALONE. I have been in the famine land for a while. God has stripped. He has removed. BUT God has been with me! Just like he was with Joseph when he entered his famine after being sold into slavery. Just like He was with David all those years on the run from Saul. Just like He was with the disciples after he ascended and they entered their own famine of persecution. The good news is, the famine doesn’t last forever. Even when we are not in the famine times of our lives,  we will still experience suffering. This is a promise. Suffering shapes us and molds us and is completely necessary for us to go through to understand the heart of our Father God. Through suffering we can have one of two reactions. We reject God and grow farther apart, or we embrace God and our relationship deepens. During this famine, I have embraced God. When we embrace God we can expect His blessing and favor. I am not talking “good things will happen to you” type of blessing. I am talking you have the favor of the living God when you walk in obedience. You will experience His presence and His word will speak to your soul in such intimate ways. Just this morning the Lord gave me a verse just as I was waking up. Its like He couldn’t wait to tell me what He had for me today through His word. It was just the word from Him I needed today. Even my worship feels different. I sense His presence in such a full way when I sing out to Him and worship with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It is precious to me. So in this famine phase, I am daily clinging to the cross. It’s the only way for me. It is my plan for survival. God is so faithful. Here is the verse He gave me this morning, “for we know, that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord.” Romans 8:28 Amen.