Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stuck

Tonight. I am feeling stuck. Not just because I am in a dark room, with the only light coming from the computer screen, because my sick, six-year old begged me not to leave the room. And, not just because I was looking through old blog posts earlier today and found myself wishing for the days when I was confident thin enough to post photos of myself in fun, bold outfits. It's these things and so much more.

Lately, I've been struggling to understand God's plan. I want to hear his voice now more than ever, but I just can't be certain what he is saying. I've been spending more time in prayer and studying the Bible, yet I still feel like he is distant...or, maybe I am. I think I am blaming him for leading me away from the dreams I believe he birthed in me. Speak. Tell your story. Okay. Write a book. Share your fears and how I have transformed them. Sure. Pursue these dreams. I will.

Then, came the walls. No more opportunities to speak. No time or inspiration to write. Did I hear you right? Was that what you really asked? Discouragement and doubts about these dreams fill my mind. I'm stuck, paralyzed by the fear to move forward because I don't want to do the wrong thing and because I wonder if there really is a "thing" for me to do.

I'm in a holding pattern, because of comparison. Lack of confidence. Weariness. Exhaustion. 

Today I read a post by Ann Voskamp and watched a video of Priscilla Shirer, which both spoke to my need for answers...

"We want clarity -- and God gives a call. 
We want a road map --- and God gives a relationship. 
We want answers -- and God gives His hand."
- Ann Voskamp

Take what God is giving you now and be obedient to it. This will open the door for him to disclose more.
-Priscilla Shirer

I feel like God is saying...Look up. Choose me. Take my hand. Give me room to move. I have the answers.


I don't have all the answers. But, I know that I have been called and sent by the one who created the universe. He does not make mistakes. I need to have faith - boldly acting in the belief - that not only does God have the answers, but that he will reveal them to me at just the right time. In the meantime...focus on the relationship, not the search for a road map. Praylisten, and obey. 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Braver Than You Think

I have always been fond of watching movies and reading books that make me cry. Some of my favorites, like Steel Magnolias and The Shack, I have watched and read on repeat, for I seem to find joy through the tears. There is just something about the raw emotion that draws me in. How is it possible to find beauty in tears, sadness and grief? I can't explain it. It is definitely not something my husband understands. But, it's the way I am wired. Tell me something is going to make me cry and I'll watch it or read it, usually multiple times.

It is this part of my personality that first drew me to Anna's blog, An Inch of Gray, early in my blogging career. It was shortly after she lost her son, Jack, that I began reading her words.

Something about her story hit me hard. Maybe it was because I have a son of my own that I felt so compelled to read her story and respond in any way I could to encourage, support and uplift this woman I didn't even know, who had lost her son. Or, maybe it's because Anna and I ended up chatting via email or through blog comments about the similarities between our boys - their love of trains and Legos, the desire for order and symmetry, and their generally cautious nature.


"The upside of parenting a kid who sometimes struggled was that it pointed me 
toward God and away from my focus on worldly success...
Toward the issues of the heart. To loving well the child you've been given, 
not the child you thought you would have." (p. 108-109)

Things have been tense in our home the past couple of weeks. I can only explain it by blaming it on the stress of school starting. No one, except O, has been outwardly stressed. But, the rest of us, especially Matt and I, have been handling our stress and anxiety by retreating and taking it out on each other. 

This is one of the reasons I needed to read Anna's book, Rare Bird, now. Because it was written from one mother to another. Because it seemed to make more sense to shed tears over someone else's grief than to cry over the impending struggle I would endure when it was time to help O with his writing homework or the fact that he is still afraid to use the bathroom at school, even to the point of having an accident. 


"Because despite my attempts to...relax and trust God with my kids,
I'd clung to the belief that I could somehow control our futures if I just tried hard enough." (p. 81)

These are my losses. The loss of normalcy and control...even though I have truly never held either of these.

While I hesitate to compare the life we live to the tragedy that Anna writes about - because they are not even remotely similar and because it seems selfish - I do so because there are many different types of loss and grief. Some with death and others within the boundaries of this life. And, I think that one of the reasons to read a book like this is to know that it's okay to feel your loss, in your way.

What reading this book reminded me about my own life, is that it's better to ask than to retreat, better to love than to withdraw. Some times, in life, there are no major changes that can be made that may fix a situation, there may be no exit strategy. But, in those times, there can still be love. We can give and we can receive.



Rare Bird is a book about grief and loss and life not turning out how you expected. It's about empty rooms and unused passports, life cut short and things that don't make sense.


"...while I'm speaking, it feels as if God is using the words in a way that reaches beyond the simple little stories of home and life I share. I hope those listening get a glimpse of Jack, and God, and will somehow be changed." (p. 75)

But, it's also a story of how God moves. How he prepares, sustains, and propels us forward. How he speaks, comforts, and inspires. How he gives and takes away, loving us through it all. Helping us to be braver than we ever thought we could be.

 

Monday, September 8, 2014

I'm Learning

The older I get, the more I realize...there are many things I don't know. Even some of those things I thought I knew, some things I've written and spoken confidently about, I didn't really understand. 

Over the past several weeks, I have been studying the book of Galatians, through IF: Equip. My aha moment came on day five of the study. It was that day that I gained a new understanding of something I have had a head-knowledge of for the better part of my life - God has made me perfect through the death and resurrection of Christ

So, why have I worked so hard to be perfect? 

If I had really believed that freedom is not possible through striving - through works or obeying the law - but only through faith in Christ, then I wouldn't have been so caught up in looking side to side, at what others are doing or in hopes of their approval or trying to become perfect by my own efforts.

How had I missed this?! How could I have denied myself the ability to live in the freedom of God's love? The place where there is no need to earn his favor, because I already have it.

My friends, don't count on your behavior to make you right with God. Instead, focus on placing your faith in Christ, live out your faith in love, walk in step with the Holy Spirit, and rest in God's grace.

It sounds simple, doesn't it? It should be. Unfortunately, it's something I am going to need to remind myself of daily. Otherwise, I will forget what I have learned. Again.

I must let God be God. This is what I am learning. I must yield my life to him, every day and let him fulfill the promises he has made. 

Most  of what I learned while studying Galatians I summed up in this prayer: 

God, you chose me.
I believe that it pleases you 
to reveal yourself to me
through your Holy Spirit.
It is because of your love for me that
I must proclaim your good news
for you and for your glory.
May I do this by your plan 
and with your power.
Amen

Will you join me and make this your prayer today?