Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Trash Day

My heart has been a little heavy lately. I know God is up to something and I want to be right in the middle of it. If He is moving, I’ll move with Him. If He wants to rearrange my space, I am the empty box waiting to be filled up with things of value, things you can’t live without. I’m tired of the junk pile. I grow weary from the things that should be long forgotten, but somehow they remain hidden deep in the closet where no one can see.

God sees it. He knows our junk and He is unafraid to deal with it. Like a big, black plastic bag and strong arms He takes the mess that we have created and says, “Are you done with this?”

You have been holding onto this because you thought you had to. This has no value; this does not define you, the pain, and the baggage. It’s time to clean house, you hold the bag this time…and I’ll tell you what goes inside.

I look at Him timidly and hold the bag wide open and wonder if the bag is big enough to hold the mother-load of trash that has annoyingly cluttered my storehouse. I cringe at the thought of the messiness of me and ask the God that formed man out of dust if He might want to use some rubber gloves for this one.

And we have our moment:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.

Before you were born I sanctified you. I set you apart.

I ordained you. I am the God that appointed you as one who is called.

I do not make trash. But, I’ll help you clean it up. My beloved, this is what I want you to throw in the trash:

The voice that tells you that you can’t, the voice that tells you that you are not good enough and that you have nothing of value to offer.

I hope that today you have your Jeremiah 1:5 moment. I hope that you read about how the prophet questioned his call blaming his youth. In timidity and fear Jeremiah was completely unaware of how much the God of all creation wanted to take what he had to offer and be so big in him. In Jeremiah 1:8 it says, “Do not be afraid of their faces.”

Take your fears and doubt to the curb. His approval of you far outweighs your critics; believe what the word of God says about you!

"For I know the plans I have for you," Declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

It’s Monday and today is trash day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Unconditional Love & A Mothering Heart

I am extremely affectionate. I have always been this way, but even more so now that I have little ones running around the house. There is nothing like kissing their little faces, it can brighten the darkest day for me. The minute I laid eyes on Miss Whitley I experienced a love that I had never known, complete, unreserved, all consuming unconditional love.

She was what my mothering heart was longing for, a daughter of my own. She was a tiny version of me; same lips, shaped eyes, nose, and a head full of dark hair. And she was mine. After battling infertility, losing two babies, and going through treatment to get healthy God answered my “Hannah’s prayer.” Whitley screamed her head off for four solid months, but never had I been any happier and more in love with this little thing that consumed my every moment and thought.

One night I was wrapped up in baby heaven just soaking her in, kissing those lips, and squeezing every roll of baby fat she had. I noticed Jonathan watching me, “Are you jealous?” I asked.

“Only of the way she looks at you,” he said.

I thought that maybe, just maybe, he was jealous of the way I looked at her. The bond was undeniable. Life was changing and unfolding as we took on new roles as mommy and daddy.

When Whitley was a year old and two months, we decided it was time for another baby. I knew that with my health I had only a small window and I desperately wanted another baby. I just had to experience life growing within one more time.
It happened so fast, baby number two on the way and a brand new role as lead pastors. We were thrilled and scared to death all at the same time.

Elise came into the world much differently than Whitley. Her birth was less stressful because of the planned c-section. I can remember hearing her little cry for the first time. I was laughing and crying at the same time. As the tears streamed down my face I felt the anesthesiologist wipe away my tears. I remember thinking, well isn’t that sweet of him, perhaps he was worth the big bucks were paying him.

And then they showed Elise Claire to me, all 9 lbs 14 oz of her. Black curly hair and the fattest cheeks I had ever seen on a newborn…it was amazing. Elise completely skipped newborn sizes. I remember thinking, this kid doesn’t need breast milk…she needs a hamburger. And once again the flood of unconditional love happened…just because she was mine. I couldn’t wait to figure her out and introduce her to Whitley.

The unconditional love that I have for my children cannot even touch the unconditional love that our Heavenly Father has for you and me. He is jealous for us, for all of us, every fiber and facet of who we are. I’m grateful for the joy of knowing a love like this and for the joy of being loved so much.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Daddy God vs. Daddy Issues

During the summer we have family staying with us for two months, which is wonderful with a tiny hint of difficult when you have a small place like ours. We will have four nights of normal with just the four of us this weekend, so I took full advantage of snuggling on the couch and watching a movie with my husband as soon as our two girls passed out from pure exhaustion. After he went to bed at 1:30 AM, I stayed up until 3:30 AM like a mad woman soaking in the quiet, a hot bubble bath by candlelight, and no little people jumping in with me or asking me for a million different things. It was perfection…until I woke up at 7:45 in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. I decided to just tackle the day and nap later. I’m still waiting for that nap and a little on the cranky side.

This morning I read a blog of one of my ministry heroes. Her daughter had posted a blog dedicated to her father. I was completely moved to tears, thrilled for this sister in the faith, but ached on the inside as I read every moving word that described her adoration of her Daddy.

How is it possible that I can fast forward fifteen years and visualize my daughters having the same healthy, loving relationship with their father with the purest joy in my heart yet feel the dull ache inside at what I had and what I didn’t have? I chalk it up mainly to being exhausted. I’m a huge crybaby when I’m tired.

My mother always told me growing up that we “shouldn’t air our dirty laundry.” I’m pretty sure mom didn’t fathom in her wildest dreams that I was going to be a writer and verbalize the things people are too afraid to say out loud. Sorry Mom. I really hope you haven’t saved my blog to your “favorites.”

Not to be blatantly disobedient or anything, but I have a confession. Brace yourself.

I have Daddy issues. (Talk about waving your dirty garments in the air for all to see.) I have two dads, a real dad and a step-dad. One of them has my eyes and the other one loves me like I am his flesh and blood. One of them is nicer when he’s had a few drinks and the other one just needs a good caffeinated beverage to take the edge off and a quiet place to retreat. One of them is serving God; the other is running from him. One of them thinks that I am the funniest thing ever and the other one, in his better days, thought that he was the funniest thing ever. I don’t connect well with men. I don’t have any brothers. I don’t have sons. I have two Dads and I relate with them very differently. I love them differently. I have a three-decade rule when it comes to hugging men and only a trusted man (who is not a freak) gets a hug from me.

In the words of MC Hammer, one of my favorites from the eighties, “You can’t touch this.” I’m just saying.

Recently a friend of mine and I openly discussed our issues that stem way back to our childhood. I have no doubt in my heart that we are whole in Christ, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t respond differently to others because of the relationships in our lives that helped to shape, mold, or possibly warp our tender psyches. My ongoing joke is that I have been one floor away from the Psych Ward on many occasions. I am continually overwhelmed by the grace of God who restored what Satan meant for harm. I am no longer damaged goods. I’m a woman on a mission and a voice for the brokenhearted.

Let me just say that it is possible to be completely set free from captivity and chains of your past. BUT, it doesn’t mean that God gives you spiritual amnesia and erases your painful childhood or adulthood for that matter. It becomes your testimony, a reflection of the heart of the Father and restorer of broken things. He changes your destiny, gives you purpose, and then releases you to be a powerful witness for Christ. God can and will heal all of your hurts, trust me on this one.

If you need to cry about it, I’ll cry with you. If you need to let go, I know who can help you with that. If you need to hear about my pain to feel better about your own and to know that you are not alone, I will hold nothing back from you. Now is always the right time for healing. There are great books and Bible studies out there to help you. Run to our invisible God, our Abba Father.

“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug, look to Abraham you father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.

For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” (Isaiah 51:1-3)

Much Love!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Perpetual State of Waiting and a Flair for the Dramatic

Many months ago I wrote about the perpetual state of letting go. I wrote that piece with a pain in my heart and tears streaming down my face. Letting go was hard and I’ll admit that I wasn’t very good at it. But, it had to be done. I had to move on, turn the page, and start fresh. We get used to certain things remaining the same, certain people becoming permanent fixtures in our lives. Life becomes familiar and pleasant; we like the comfort of knowing what tomorrow might possibly look like. And then change happens. Life happens. And we have to deal.

I can’t believe that it was almost a year ago when I thought my heart would never heal. I know, what a complete drama queen, right? Somehow I know that I’m not the only one with a flair for dramatics, especially with two little miniature versions of myself running around my house in tutu’s and sparkly tiaras.

I would say that the season of “letting go” of the death grip I had on familiarity and the season of “waiting” rank pretty high on my hate list. Maybe hate is a strong word, so strike that and add in dislike. It just sounds nicer.

Wait: to remain until something expected happens, to be ready, to remain undone.

Waiting for what your heart longs for is one of the hardest things imaginable, but the desperation that comes from losing heart and giving up on a dream is shattering. When faith fades life becomes colorless and bland. I have been in that place of waiting for what seems like forever and I am certain that there is always deeply rooted purpose in that season of waiting. Like Jacob wrestling with God for a blessing and refusing to let go, like Hannah’s desperate prayer begging to experience life growing within, like Joseph the dreamer locked in cell, we remain undone and unfinished until He says so. We wait with purpose and we rest in God alone until we are ready. We must wait with hope rising up within instead of the bitterness that comes with losing heart.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lam 3:222-26)

Ps 104: 27 says, “These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season.”

Oh Lord, I remain hopefully undone until You say so. I would rather wait on You than find my own way. Your ways are so much higher, Your wisdom so much greater, Your love sustaining, all consuming and overwhelming.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Living Room Serenade & An Audience of One

It’s been a little quiet for me in “blog world.” It’s been a time of reflection for me…a time of soaking everything in and figuring things out. And somehow I’m trying to make since of doors beginning to open when they have been shut for so long.

I thought I was ready for this. But as the doors start to open and I hear the voice saying, “Go on, you were made for this.” I find myself more like the girl I used to know way back in the day.

The first time I ever sang in front of my mom and stepdad I was in the living room, around the age of seventeen, and horrible. When mom asked me to sing for them I immediately began to sweat. Being the obedient child that I was, I told her that I would.

I put the cassette tape in. (It was probably Sandi Patti or something like that. What good Christian girl didn’t have a Sandi Patti tape?)

Pushed play on my boom box and then I turned around so I wouldn’t have to look at them. I opened my mouth and sang my little heart out while they stared at each other…and my backside.

Mom told me later that Gary would whisper, “That’s not her.” While mom would and say, “Yes, it is. That’s her.”

They’re my parents, regardless of how horrible it was or wasn’t, they had to love me. It’s a parental requirement.

It was three minutes of pure musical torture for me. I turned around. Wiped the sweat off my palms, picked up my boom box and went into my room.

I can’t remember what I sang for them. I can’t tell you how it made them feel or if they cringed with every nervous note because I couldn’t look at them. They were too close for my comfort. All I know is what they heard from my living room serenade was a weak, wobbly version of a girl who hadn’t really found her sound yet.

At 34, I have finally found my sound, my voice, and I know who I really am in Christ. I’m the least likely to be used by God, but all I know is that He called me when I was a timid youth and His calling gave me a purpose.

I still want to turn around sometimes, I still want to hide so I can’t see whether or not people are moved to tears or sticking their fingers in their ears. I don’t long for the spotlight or for applause. I just want to please an audience of One, my first love, and perfect Abba Father.