Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Monday- I'm Letting Go

This is a giant leap of faith.
I'm trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown
Beyond my comfort zone. - Francesca Battistelli 
This isn't a new song, but I find that it cycles through one of my Pandora stations often and speaks to the season I'm in right now.

When my husband and I decided to make this recent move to a new city, a new state, I went through a mental process of crossing off a list of all my previous plans.  I thought they were such good goals for myself and my kids, for what ministries I would be a part of, and the paths our family envisioned ourselves strolling down.

Unexpectedly, I had to let go of the life I had planned and move forward with the hope that maybe there was an even better future for us and even better dreams.

It means, though, that I don't know what's ahead.  I am sort of closing my eyes and taking a scary, but exhilarating leap off a cliff into strange waters.  A leap of faith.

But if there wasn't a little bit of fear, the jump wouldn't require trust or faith.  We don't often call on God when our feet are on the ground and the road is paved and predictable.

So what do we do when we're standing on the edge, afraid of what will happen next? I remind myself of the same thing I tell my kids:  God is with you wherever you go (Genesis 26:24, Genesis 31:3, Exodus 3:12, Joshua 1:5, 1 Kings 11:38, Isaiah 43:2...).

You don't have to leap alone.
We may have to let go of our plans and our fears,
but He will never let go of our hand.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pity Party Reality Check

The other night, I attended a party in my honor- with one single
It was my very own pity party.

Sometimes, it just hits me- what I sacrifice to be the mom I want to be.  I fixate on what I'm missing by choosing to stay home to raise my kids.  I'm tired.  I'm lonely.  I feel tied down.  Zeroing in on what I have given up, I forget to see how I am blessed.  I lose focus on how important my job is.

After a night of rest, I was reminded of a story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament.  He decided to take on the huge job of rebuilding Jerusalem's city wall that had lain broken for ages.  He did the fundraising.  He hired the workers.  He rallied the troops and defended the city.  It was his mission.  In the middle of all that determination, effort and sweat, people tried to pull him away from his project.  They didn't have the same passion that Nehemiah did.  They didn't think he would be missed or that it was very important.  But with conviction, Nehemiah refused to be distracted:
I am doing a great work.  I cannot come down. - Nehemiah 6:3 (The Message)
Tears dried, I remember that I am committed to this season of taking care of and teaching three young children that God has given to me.  I cannot let other people who don't share my vision pull me away from the job at hand.  I can't check out.  I can't run away.  I can't jet off to exotic locations and forget  the responsibilities I have here at home.  It's my job.  It just isn't as easy as it used to be to take a trip out of town or snag coffee with a friend.  But it's only a season...

I don't ever want to regret doing what I felt was the right thing to do.

We all have different callings, different circumstances, and different goals.
I will not feel guilty for saying, "I'm sorry.  My work is too important to stop now."
And I cannot lose focus on why I am here and what I am doing.

After all, I'm the only mom Bella, Brody, and Boone have :-)

So, in whatever season you are in or whatever your mission, set your eyes on the prize- even when you're tired:
You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever.- 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (CEV) 

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
Say it with me, 
"You are doing a great work.  Do not lose heart."

Pity party over.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Giving Up

Wait a minute.

When did anyone ever tell you to, "Give up, why don't you?" or, "Stop trying so hard, already!"

Possibly, never?

That advice contradicts most of the mentoring, parenting, or teaching we have experienced.  We have been told to: Get back on the horse. Try, try again. Never give up. Dust yourself off. Just keep swimming...

 But the Bible says something differently when it comes to doing some things on our own.

  • GIVE UP WORRYING.  We worry about our safety, about our future, about anything.  However, the Bible encourages us to give up trying to micro-manage every outcome and stressing over the things we cannot control.  Why?  Because God knows how it's going to work out and the best way to get you to your destination:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life...Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? -Matthew 6:25-34
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7
  • GIVE UP CONTROL. Obviously, making plans is wise when we consider how God would like us to instruct our children, how we manage our finances, or how we can minister to a world in need.  But sometimes, plans change and we feel like we're spinning out of control.  God wants us to remember that He is God, He's in charge, and He's got your back:
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.-Jeremiah 29:11
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. -Proverbs 16:13
  • GIVE UP TRYING SO HARD.  Trying to be better on our own, apart from God, is futile.  We just don't have the capacity to be patient enough or loving enough by ourselves.  If they sold vitamins for joy, peace, kindness, self-control, I'd be all over it.  But Jesus didn't ask for our money- just our time and our trust.  His help and his grace is FREE, but trying is tiring.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah 40:30-31
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. -1 Corinthians 15:10

So, give yourself permission to quit!  Give up trying to be strong and wise enough on your own.  Surrender.  "Throw in the towel!"  Let your shoulders relax and loosen up your white-knuckled grip on life and let go, so that you can open up those hands and catch the freedom, peace, and grace that Heaven showers down in abundant quantities.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. -Matthew 11;28-30 (The Message)

I don't know about you, but I miss being carefree.  I give up, so I can be less uptight and more lighthearted; less stressed and more excited; less me and more Jesus.