Trust (Day 9)

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Day 9 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing. Today I link up with other Five Minute Friday writers. Check out what they have to say about trust here.

Today’s Prompt: Trust

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“I let it fall, my heart, and as it fell you rose to claim in.” – Adele

There are times when the greatest challenge for me in our marriage is trusting my husband to care for my heart. My husband is a good man. He is loyal, dependable, patient, and hard working. He would never, ever willingly hurt me. But we have different methods of communicating and there have been times when I felt lonely and distant.

In our Community Group discussion last week we were talking about healthy anger and conflict. One wife asked, “But what do you do when one of you wants to deal with the conflict and one of you is an avoider?” Here is what I shared:

I cannot change the heart of my husband. I cannot be the Holy Spirit in his life. I used to rail against the injustice of feeling wronged and knowing that we weren’t going to “talk it out.” I used to sulk in silence, put up walls, punish him (and myself) by staying cold and distant. Guess how well that worked out for me?

One of the scariest things I have ever done is say this “Honey, I still feel very hurt about ——. But I choose to love you and treat you lovingly and respectfully. It would mean a lot to me if you would think about this and approach me to talk about it at some point in the future.” And then leave the rest up to God.

It is scary because it goes against everything in my being that tells me I should stand up for myself. It goes against everything in me that is screaming for fairness. It goes against everything in me that wants to punish when I have been hurt. But every single time I have willingly surrendered my right and chosen to act lovingly and respectfully even when I have been hurt I have seen God change the heart of my husband. This is not some magic form of manipulation. It is watching the Holy Spirit answer my prayers as I chose to be obedient.

We are approaching 15 years of marriage and just recently our relationship has experienced new growth. I am in awe as I see changes in me and in my husband. He claimed my heart almost 20 years ago when we started dating and he continues to rise to the challenge of claiming and nurturing it as we live this life together.

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Purple (Day 8)

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Day 8 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Purple

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Purple. Royalty. King Jesus. Aslan. I feel the King on the move.

Here is the thing about the Holy Spirit, once you start noticing his work in the world around you it is impossible to stop. Once you start feeling the movement of his work in your heart you just want more.

This morning my Nathaniel woke with a sparkle in his eye. He is a passionate little guy and he was ready to tackle his day. In the first few hours of his morning he saw God answer two of his specific prayers. One had to do with a camera he had received for his birthday about a month ago. It had been lost for a few weeks. We had searched the house high and low and no one could find it. Nathaniel wanted to find it so he could bring it on a camping trip. As we sat down to start our school work he told me he had prayed to find it. I told him that was a great idea, but inside my head I was skeptical that the camera would be found. Nathaniel later began looking again. He came to me and asked me to pray. I prayed that the camera would be found, that Nathaniel’s mind would be clear so he could remember where he had put it. Less than an hour later he came running up to me, jumping up and down, the camera in his hands. He had found it, in a spot we had already looked a few times. His face was alight with joy as he declared, “I love it when God answers prayer! It feels so good!”

The King is on the move in the heart of my little boy. He is showing my son how much He loves him and cares about the details of his life. The God who spread out the universe and formed the very foundations of the earth is so loving that He also moves in the life of an 8 year old boy in small town America. He is on the move in my heart as well. The faith and joy of my son is encouraging me. Have you seen King Jesus on the move in you or someone around you? I would love to hear about it!

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You can read other 5 Minute Free Writes or link up here.

You can find the 31 Days writing challenge with 100s of other link ups here.

Love (Day 7) – The Day My Youngest Son Accepted Life Changing Love

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A fort Nathaniel built a few weeks ago. He made the cross himself. 

I have been participating in 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing. Fair warning, my post today is going to take more than 5 minutes.

Today’s Prompt: Love

Do you ever wonder if God is at work? Do you ever wonder if He is real? Do you ever wonder if He is really answering prayer? Do you every wonder if He really loves you, or even cares about your life at all?

I hope this story of what happened in our dining room this morning will encourage you.

This morning in the midst of breakfast preparation I got a text from my husband, “Praying you have patience and wisdom today.” I thought that was nice but didn’t really give it much thought as I went about the work of the morning.

Almost every morning during breakfast we read from the Bible. It’s our routine and honestly, some mornings I rush through it because there are so many other things on my to-do list that I want to get to. Today we were reading from Acts 13 in the Message.

“But everyone who believes in this raised-up Jesus is declared good and right and whole before God…When the non-Jewish outsiders heard this, they could hardly believe their good fortune. All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God – they honored God’s Word by receiving that life.” 

As I finished the reading my youngest son looked at me and simply said, “I want that.”

Cue prayers for wisdom.

We talked about the sin in his heart that separates him from God. And his eyes teared up. I lifted his chin, looked deep into those eyes and told him that God loved Him so much that He didn’t want that separation. I told my son that as Jesus was on the cross He knew that there would one day be a boy named Nathaniel, and Jesus loved him so much that He willingly took the punishment for all of Nathaniel’s sin so that he didn’t have to be separated from God. We discussed what it means to be “declared good and right and whole before God.” There was joy in my son’s eyes when I told him that once he believed in Jesus, God would look at him and see Jesus’ righteousness instead of his sin.

Trembling, tearfully, and knowing we were on holy ground I led my son through a prayer confessing his sin, professing Jesus as dying for his sin and then rising from the dead, and asking God to be Lord of his life.

Y’all, I am not exaggerating when I say that my son’s face was changed when we finished the prayer. I could see physical evidence of the change in his heart. His face was soft with joy and bright with the knowledge of deep deep love. I held him tight and whispered that I was happy to now call him a “brother.”

Friends, we are so deeply loved by God. He doesn’t keep himself separate from us. He pursues us. He rescues us. He made a way for us to be declared “good and right and whole.” Good. Right. Whole. That is me! That is you!

This morning, in the midst of the breakfast crumbs and dirty dishes, on a ordinary morning in an ordinary place the Holy Spirit used the Word of God to draw my son to his heavenly Father and show him how much he is loved. I am filled with joy.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. – John 3:16 (The Message) 

Possible (Day 6)

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Day 6 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Possible

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Hi Friend,

I see you there feeling tired and worn out. You are weary thinking of the mountain in front of you, whether that is a mountain of laundry or a mountain of paperwork or a mountain of time between now and nap time. You have heard the phrase, “With God all things are possible.” But it makes you want to stamp your feet, if you had the energy, because nothing feels possible right now.

Right now you do not feel like it is possible to wake up one more time in the middle of the night to feed and rock the baby, or to respond to your kids with patience instead of anger, or to show love and respect to your husband when you feel like he is ignoring you. Right now you do not feel like it is possible to forgive a friend who has hurt your feelings, or to stop feeling lonely. Right now you do not feel like it is possible to spend time reading your Bible or praying because it doesn’t seem even remotely possible to get one minute of peace and quiet. Right now you do not feel like it is possible to prepare one more meal, or fold one more load of laundry, or pick up one more toy off the floor. Right now you do not feel like it is possible to feel joy.

I know the feeling. I have battled with the “shoulds” and the “ought to’s” and failed miserably.

I am here to tell you friend, that all of those things that you feel aren’t possible are possible. But not if you try to do them by yourself. You can only muscle your way through for so long before you fall apart. I know this because I have tried. I battled my anger toward my children and my resentment toward my husband and only felt defeated. I battled my loneliness and lack of joy and only felt more tired and drained and guilty. The only way that the impossible becomes possible is when you surrender your own work and invite the Holy Spirit to change your heart. Without the Holy Spirit it will be impossible to change your heart to one that is patient, kind, thoughtful, loving. Only the Holy Spirit can change the heart of the person you are having difficulty loving.

I realize this sounds like a spiritual cliche but it is in fact hard and holy work. So I invite you to rest. I invite you to feel how much you are loved, not matter how bad or good your day has been. I invite you to stop the battle of trying to achieve the impossible and feel the joy of watching God do the impossible for you.

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You can read other 5 Minute Free Writes or link up here.

You can find the 31 Days writing challenge with 100s of other link ups here.

Home (Day 5)

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Day 5 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Home

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Home is a complicated word for me. I have had many homes. I feel like I have no home. It is a common issue for Third Culture Kids (TCKs). I am able to fit in many places. I don’t really fit in any place. I don’t call any one particular nation, state, or even city, home.

I have lived in exotic places and heard the lilt of foreign languages. Yet for a decade and a half I have stayed put in a place the often feels decidedly un-exotic. My boys would probably call it home, and yet I still don’t. That feels strange to me every single day.

Today, home is a basic ranch house with a picket fence and honey hardwood floors that warm in the sun. I love this house, it welcomes me. It feels comfortable and cozy. For some reason this home is easy to invite people into, even though it isn’t perfect and would never make in onto a HGTV show as a good house for “entertaining.” There is a long running list of projects that would make this house “ideal” but most of them have remained undone even though we have lived here for 6 years. It has a quirky, rambling floor plan. I love the way the evening light filters through the trees in the back yard. In this house we feel sheltered at the end of the day, safe, together, able to rest – and I guess that is what home should be.

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I have written about “home” before. You can read it here.

You can read other 5 Minute Free Writes or link up here.

You can find the 31 Days writing challenge with 100s of other link ups here.

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Embrace (Day 4)

Day 4 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Embrace

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His arms are a circle of safe. Steel and soft simultaneously.

I fit just right under his chin. When my cheek rests and his heartbeat hums my fears fade.

His hands are steady and warm. They cup mine and all is right with the world.

This embrace has comforted me, steadied me, wooed me.

We fit.

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You can read other 5 Minute Free Writes or link up here.

You can find the 31 Days writing challenge with 100s of other link ups here.

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Captive (Day 3)

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Day 3 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Captive

(Note: The actual prompt was Capture, but for some reason every time I read over the master list of prompts this week I kept reading “captive.” I kept mulling over it and wondering what the heck I was going to write because it seemed like such a strange prompt. This is what came today as a result of a women’s retreat at my church this weekend. So “captive” it is.) 

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“When you hold onto pride, unforgiveness, or bitterness you are held captive. Forgiving others and yourself sets you free.”

This was said today at a women’s conference I was at.

Let it sink in.

It stopped me in my tracks.

I didn’t know I needed to forgive myself. I didn’t know I needed to release myself from the ways I had been holding on to my own expectations for myself and beating myself up when I didn’t meet those expectations. I didn’t know that I was holding onto guilt from choices I had made. I didn’t know that I hadn’t forgiven myself for the ways I treated my kids when I battled my anger and lost.

I have been holding myself captive. I experienced Gods love for me in deeper ways in the past few years but I have been refusing to allow myself to love myself. Does that make sense? It sounds kind of crazy when I write it down. It’s hard to extend love to myself. It’s easier to beat myself up and heap up guilt. But that is no way to live joyfully. It is hard to be tender and forgiving toward my own person. But I want to. I want to live free.

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You can read other 5 Minute Free Writes or link up here.

You can find the 31 Days writing challenge with 100s of other link ups here.

Family (Day 2)

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Day 2 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Family

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I am beyond grateful and thankful for the family I have been given. I grew up in a wonderful family with parents who loved me and nurtured me and showed me the world. I have two brothers who have become my friends. I grew up with a network of grandparents and cousins and have so many warm memories of gathering and laughter. I have in-laws who welcomed me with enthusiasm and warmth. I have sisters-in-law who have become the sisters I never had growing up. I have two nieces and a nephew who I love passionately. I have never once felt unloved or unwanted.

I have other family too. Growing up in a missionary community teaches you that family is not exclusive. Family is whoever is around to be part of your life at the time. Bonds go beyond blood and are formed by common experiences and necessity. I had a parade of “uncles” and “aunts”  who cared for me and so many brothers and sisters in the other missionary children that I was never lonely.

There were times I was very lonely. Times when I was away from my family and forging my own life in a new and strange place. In those times God provided new family. People who took me into their lives and fed me physically and spiritually. People who helped me find my way.

Now I have a family of my own. I have a solid man who grounds me. I have two energetic, beautiful boys. I don’t want my family to be exclusive. I want our arms and our doors to be open and inviting. I want our home to be a place of warmth and gathering.

I am surrounded by another family, this church family that I have been a part of for something like 19 years now. This church family is no simple cliche. It is a group of people committed to loving, to speaking truth, to going deep, to sharing life, to showing up when things are tough and celebrating when things are good. We have laughed and wept together. I have women who are sisters to me in the very deepest and truest sense of the word. I get great joy from loving on the many children as if they were my own. There is such security in being part of this family.

What a rich life I have! What gifts I have been given!

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Calling, and listening. (Day 1: Calling)

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Day 1 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Calling

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Calling. So much pressure. To “follow the call.” To listen to God’s “calling.” To “sacrifice everything in order to follow God’s call.” All noble things, and even true. But what does all of that even mean? Thinking about Gods calling used to cause me much anxiety.

I am almost 39 years old and learning to listen. Not for the grand fanfare of great and noble callings. I am learning to listen for the whispers of the Holy Spirit in my daily life. I am learning to listen to the nudge in my heart that prompts me to look someone in the eye and hear them, to stop, to engage, to notice beauty, to pray, to light a candle, to send a text message to a friend, to snuggle an extra moment on the couch with a son who has been distant lately, to curb my tongue, to give a hug. I am learning to listen and see love and light all around me, even on the days that seem dark.

I don’t know what my “calling” is. I know I have been called to love God and love others. Other than that I guess I get to figure it out one day at a time. One step at a time. John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” I have felt the truth of those words lately. I have felt the joy and freedom in that as well. God’s love is always with me, nothing I do can make Him stop loving me and nothing I do can make Him love me more. His calling is not a cause for anxiety but for joy.

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You can read other 5 Minute Free Writes or link up here.

You can find the 31 Days writing challenge with 100s of other link ups here.

Five Minute Friday: Fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

This weeks prompt: Fall

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On Sunday we sing:

A thousand times I’ve failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I’m caught in your grace

I never used to believe that I failed all that much. It’s probably not smart to admit that, but there it is. I was a pretty good girl. A rule follower. I knew all the right answers. Faith didn’t seem that hard. I came from ardent missionary and evangelist stock. Sure, I wasn’t perfect but I was pretty darn good.

My first clue was when anger started to bubble up in me. The shock of white hot anger against my own son when his little toddler self wouldn’t obey. I prayed, and read books, and buttoned my lips tight, and tried to batten down the hatch of self control.  And I never talked about it. Because obviously, good Christian mothers do not get angry. Ever. So I smiled and put my game face on. I said all the right things.

The years have passed. Failure is now my saving grace. I talk about my stumbles. I talk about my face plants right into the muck and mire of my dirty heart. I am raised up again by my sisters who speak truth about their failures too. The more I embrace my failure the more I feel God’s grace catching me, lifting me, cleaning me, freeing me.

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