Monday, February 23, 2015

The Truth About The Book I'm Writing

I'm writing a book.  Isn't that weird?  I almost hate for anyone to know because it feels pretentious to declare.

But on days that I sit in a coffee shop at a table strewn with scripture, pages, and pens I'm often asked...

What are you studying?

The problem is, I'm not studying.  Instead of soaking in, I'm pouring my heart out.  I'm ripping out pieces of myself and pounding them out on the keyboard.  Intense, I know.  But honestly, there have been afternoons that I've inconspicuously wiped away tears as my heart and brain align with my subject matter.

And that's the issue.  The subject matter.  When the conversation is cracked open to the truth that I am, in fact, writing a book, the question that inevitably follows is...

Oh, nice.  What is it about?

Even just typing those words makes my heart pound a little harder.  I usually smile and fumble my way through an explanation.  I recently told a friend that I really needed to streamline my answer.

The truth is a little lengthy.  The truth is a little startling for some.  The truth isn't very comfortable.  It's not really lighthearted coffee shop small talk.

This book lays wide open the destruction that adultery brought to my marriage.

Can't you just see the face of the coffee-drinking stranger that unwittingly stumbled into the path of my calling?  Well, okay then.  Have a nice day.

I chuckle a little now because that's not even it.  The more prevalent focus of this book is the miracle that God performed inside my marriage.  From devastation to a coveted depth.  From hopelessness to hope realized.  From just surviving to thriving.

We have had a burning encounter with God that cannot be reduced to one or two sentences.  Oh, the struggle.  

We have been touched by God in a way that has left His fingerprints all over us.  Who wants to be a part of this?

It is the single most incredible thing that I have ever had the honor to live through and I must boast!  Will you soak in it with me?

It is uncomfortable and glorious and everything in between.  My marriage story may make waves, but God has branded me with its urgency.  It is a tide of necessity for some dry and thirsty heart.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Redefining Productivity For Godly Mamas

When we sat to chat last week, I shared my heart with you over the issue of productivity.

"As Godly moms, on days that we feel unproductive, I think we should ask ourselves what exactly we are trying to produce.  If it's clean homes and compliant children, there's a chance I might be failing."   

That was my burden in a nutshell.  I offered the idea that, in light of the Great Commission, we may need to address our definition of productivity.  Here is what comes next:

Like every precious mama, I have a lengthy list of traits that I want my children to proudly bear when they walk out my door on that conclusive day that we officially say, they've left the nest.  Some of these characteristics will be realized, some just won't.  I'm at peace with the truth that I'm raising God-made human beings and not programmable androids.

But among my longwinded hopes are a few things that the Lord has really engraved upon my heart for my kids.  And those are the things I would like to share with you.

1.  A love of scripture.  I don't read my bible every single day.  I walk through seasons of deep, enthralling study and then dry seasons in which I set the Word aside for far too long.  But when I am consistently losing myself in the ever-teaching, ever-satisfying Word of God, I am at my best.  I want this for my children.  I want them to know the joy of scripture.

I want them to dig and pursue and taste the intimacy of being God-taught.  God-taught.  Can someone else be excited about this?  Let me hear you.  Because there is an element of closeness that is so indescribable that I struggle to write these very words.  To have the knowledge of God engrained in you straight from the source is absolutely inestimable in its value.

Our world holds Christ-lovers who harbor one or two preciously tattered pages of scripture with fear of being tortured just for possessing it.  And ours collect dust on a shelf.

I want my children to know what they have in the Word of God.

2.  The blessing of conversation with the Father.   My Father speaks to me.  Does he speak to you? For me, it is the summit of communion.  In a devotion, a podcast, a Sunday morning message, a treasured friend...he laughs with me, cries with me, comforts me, and corrects me.  Sometimes it's just a push in my soul, a whisper, or a deep breath that comes from deep inside.  It's a thought that I know cannot be my own because it is far too holy.

I want my children to be familiar with this.  I want them to be comfortable with communion with the creator of the universe.  We often share our lives through conversation, and I need my kids to know that they can share a deeply fulfilling exchange with the one who knows them and loves them better than anyone.  What a marvelous gift.

3.  The recognition of the Holy Spirit within them.  That whisper, that thought that is not my is the most treasured legacy of all.  The Holy Spirit thrives inside of every believer, and my recognition of his movement in my life has been what I've been most thankful for the last couple of years of my life.  It is a modern-day miracle that Jesus would choose to leave a piece of himself to inhabit me, cultivate me, love on me, and never leave me while I walk through this place that is ultimately not my home.  Can you feel the awesome energy of this?

For my children to leave my constant care without a foundational recognition of the Holy Spirit would be heartbreaking.  Because I know what depth it has brought to my life.

I beg God for all of these things.  I know that their salvation does not rest on my shoulders.  I will do my best to create an environment in which these things are shared and celebrated.  I will talk about them often and display what they've added to my life.  And then I will pray and watch as God takes over.

These are the fruits I want to smile over when my children leave my side.  I won't be proud of the fact that we could have eaten off the kitchen floor.  Who does that anyway?  I'll mop it one day.  But today is not that day.  And I won't beat myself up over it.  They have plenty to eat, clean underwear in the drawer, and thanks to my hard-working husband, a roof over their heads.  Beyond that, today my focus will be on the Great Commission, and what I ultimately aim to produce as a Godly mom.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

For When I've Been Totally Unproductive

Mamas, do you ever feel defeated over your lack of productivity?

The day comes and goes, and not one project gets thoroughly completed. You battle dishes and laundry and poor manners all day, and when your head hits the pillow, you're left with dinner remnants still on the table, a load of wet towels still in the washer, and a preschooler who refuses to say thank you.

This reality has actually brought me to tears on really dull days.  I'm a stay-at-home mom.  Have I utterly missed my calling?

As Godly moms, on days that we feel unproductive, I think we should ask ourselves what exactly we are trying to produce.  If it's clean homes and compliant children, there's a chance I might be failing.

As Christians, we have been given a titanic charge no matter what our age, occupation, or phase of life.  We call it The Great Commission.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20 

The Great Commission.  The title alone is epic.  It boasts of an adventure greater than baked-on meatloaf.  Our most important calling is to reach others and help them walk with God.

So as a mom, what does that have to do with a clean home?  Not a dern thing.

Don't misunderstand me.  There are holy purposes for a clean home.  Our families need to know that these brick and wood and vinyl structures we dwell in are a place of safety and provision.  They need to feel sanctuary here.  Sometimes God calls us and equips us with the gift of hospitality so that the broken and neglected can come into your safe haven and be rejuvenated.

But when I sink under my covers at night and feel totally dead and busted in my calling because there are 100 pieces of plastic play food still peppering the living room floor, there is a problem.

What am I trying to produce?  Children who know the Lord and are totally enamored by Him.  There will come a day not too long from now, when my children will no longer charge these front porch steps day in and day out.  They will be out the world...without me.

And I can tell you right now, I will not be proud of my accomplishments as a housekeeper if my children are not prepared for the war this culture will undoubtedly serve them.

As godly mamas (especially of young children), I think it's time to redefine productivity.

So what am I aiming to produce in my children?  More on that next time...come back and sit with me for a while.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dehydrated in the Shallowness of Relationship

Having a relationship with another woman can be adventurous.  Can I get an amen?

Women are passionate.  We readily engage our emotions and live within them.  We laugh hard and cry hard.  We overanalyze.  We put up walls.

And in the beauty of the mess we so desperately need each other.  I believe God created an empty space inside each of us that can only be filled by a sister in Christ.  He created us to be in community. A place where biblical love and accountability clash and mesh with real life.

"I have no one else like him..."
Philippians 2:20

Paul describes his friend Timothy to the Philippians with a passion that I fear many of us miss out on today.

I have no one else like him...My heart just grows and pounds in my chest when I consider the love from which this description came.

I crave it intensely.  In some ways, I possess it, and yet always yearn for more.  This intimacy with one who matches me step for step in my pursuit of Christ.  A loving friendship that just boasts of Jesus.

It's almost as rare as wisdom.  It's almost as precious as hope.

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
Matthew 18:20

When two souls align with matching purposes to bring glory to God in this life and beyond, the Holy Spirit's presence can be almost electric.  Palpable.  It's no wonder wars are started in the name of child welfare.  Mommy wars, we call them.  Cloth against disposable, breast against bottle.  Satan's weapon of choice to break down the bonds which hold enormous potential to further God's kingdom.

Really?  Are we filling Facebook with condescending judgements and upturned noses over how to keep the poop from hitting the floor?  Are we missing out on the divine power of the Spirit to conquer  Satan and Hell because of our short-sightedness?

Oh, Jesus, remedy this.

And what happens when a chasm is ripped open where the bond used to hold firm?  Because that happens you know...

Women can be fierce fighters.  It's what eventually happens when we lose sight of our purposes.  Toes are not just stepped on, but bruised and bleeding.  That glance, that silence, that status all works together for the demise of a heavenly partnership, a divine love.

Life is messy.  Sometimes, it's mucky.  In that light, will we still choose love?  Will we still choose a holy companionship in spite of sharp words spoken in insecurity?  Will we hold on tight in spite of emotions that run wild?

This kind of friendship, the kind that Paul declares that he has in Timothy, is set apart for the purposes of the heavenly Father.  How could we dismiss that glory in the name of pride or self-preservation?  How small will we allow our minds to shrink?

Women often feel dehydrated in the shallowness of their relationships.  This is a symptom that God has placed on our hearts to dive in deeper.  Drink in the fullness of friendships that could be so alive with the Spirit that they burst forth with advances for the Kingdom of God.

Oh, to soak and hydrate and moisturize my soul with a match-given-by-heaven that makes me say...

I have no one else like her.