Tuesday, February 25, 2014

signing our lives away

This weekend we experienced the joy of hosting senior boys in our home for Disciple Now. Youth experiencing Christ is something very special to me...and I have not always realized that.
I was reminded of something this weekend while I watched these kids freely worship.
Every once in a while that sweet gal I have mentioned before would invite me to a camp or retreat. That girl was at church ALL the days and I am so grateful her mama included me so often.
I remember getting ready and packed for an overnight camp. My mom was such a good mom...she made sure I had a cute matching outfit for each day. A handwritten note in my bag for me to open each day. My very favorite snacks, a new cozy sleeping bag, all the essentials plus some.
However, I remember her very clearly saying...Don't sign up to accept ANYTHING they ask of you, then they will just call ALL the time. 

What my mom was telling me was that if I accepted Jesus I would be forever inconvenienced by the church. They would expect things of me like money and time. They would invite me to all of their activities. They would include me in everything. They would remember my name and miss me when I wasn't able to come.

Let me tell you a bit more about my mom before you begin to think she is a horrible person. She was born as 1 of 10 children into a very poor family. She had a hard working daddy and a mama that clearly loved kids. My mom died March 2nd 2009. Never once have I seen a picture of her as a child. She never talked about where she grew up. She told very few stories of her child hood. The ones she did tell were sweet memories of her dad, who died before I was born. She was a passionate woman who loved with her whole heart. She sacrificed much for the happiness of her children.

When you become a "grown up" you realize that when you have close relationships with people it is because you have spent time with them. You have heard their stories. You know their families and you know embarrassing things about their pasts. Come to find out... I don't know a thing about my mom. She had two kids in a a previous marriage that were grown and out of the house by the time I came along. I know in a sense that I was a "fresh start" for her...a chance at a do over. But, in trying to start over she left behind pieces of her past that made her who she is. She never let me see the real person that she was. She was my closest friend in all the world, but she ALWAYS had a guard up. She had many versions of herself that I loved and adored...but looking back I can't figure out which one with the REAL her.

If she had sent me away to camp and I came home transformed and wanting to follow Jesus, she would have lost me. For many years it was just me and her at home...and after her and my dad divorced, she really needed ME. If I had needed Jesus more than I needed her it would have crushed her.

Obviously, these are things I was clueless about at the time. I knew in my heart that it wasn't right to ignore the invitations to accept Christ. I knew I would gain more than phone calls.
But, I didn't want to disappoint my mom.
I never ever wanted to disappoint my mom.

Now, as I sit very very close to the age 30 I can see my life in chunks of time. I see how God has been pursuing me for years and years. Even though I wasn't "allowed" to accept Christ when I was younger...He didn't just give up on me and move on to the next. He has time for all of us. He strategically placed friends in my life through elementary and middle school...and he reached me even harder through the very wrong boyfriend in high school. Through these people I saw an example of what real family was supposed to look like. I saw what a family looks like when Christ is the center.

I am so grateful that I gave my life to Him. I am grateful to be inconvenienced often by the spirit. My heart wants to fly out of my chest when I watch kids genuinely understand Christ's love for them. I am a bit jealous that their parents let them "sign their lives away" so much sooner than me, but I know that His timing was perfect. For this family is now rooted in Jesus. There is NOTHING that can take that from us. There is NO other authority over us. There is no fear in death. There is no burden of guilt. When all the blood of Jesus was shed on the cross...it was FINISHED. (COL 2)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Plan C

We have been trying to keep gravity on our side over the past few weeks. Justin's health has been on a mega roller coaster and we have been trying so hard to fight the ups and downs and stay low to the ground. We had some emotional loops (because we are human, duh) but we kept close to the word and that helped us stay close to the ground. See, the problem I specifically have been having is that I found out I have been lying all along. I have been saying for almost FOUR years that I trust in the Lord's plan and I KNOW that it will be good. I DO believe that..but I had set parameters for that in my mind. I decided that God would do one of two things...A. Heal Justin for HIS glory here on earth B. Heal Justin in Heaven (and while this was the less favored option, I have comfort in knowing that as believers we don't have to fear death). I decided how incredible it would be for so many to see and hear about His healing...knowing his struggle and knowing how we leaned fully on God all the way through. We also have had to have some very very hard conversations about option B. There is no mama in this world who wants to raise three young men without a daddy and no wife around who wants to let the love her love slip into the arms of Jesus before her. There is an unexplainable peace about knowing he would be with Jesus and that is BETTER, but a hurt that rises at just the thought of that which there are no words for. Those were the two options I had for God. Plan A and Plan B.
But, deep down buried inside that dark place where the very best secrets are kept was Plan C. Plan C is my worst case scenario and I think I can safely say that it is Justin's too. Plan C is where Justin is very sick and he doesn't get better. He lives every day with the most unbearable symptoms and dreads the sleepless nights and fears the pain in the morning. It doesn't seem like I thought God's plan was so great after all. Only the plans that I approved would do...
Please hear that we are not "claiming" Justin's sickness will continue to be long suffering. We are stating facts. Jesus is bigger than our facts.
Justin doesn't just simply live in pain and symptoms and fear, He lives in the joy of Christ Jesus. He lives with facts that are hard, but like I said...Jesus is bigger than the facts. A healing began last week when we looked at the big picture and Justin decided to fight quality over quantity. Justin wants to live. He wants to be present in our lives. It hurts him more than we can imagine to do just the most simple things like attend Bryce's basketball game or go hang out on a friends couch...but Justin wants to live. I am resetting my brain and my heart to TRULY follow God's plan for the family. His plan is better than mine, and I don't HAVE to see why yet. For by faith SO MANY of Gods' people didn't see His promises fulfilled on earth. So by faith we shall LIVE.

I attended the If Gathering this weekend with some friends. While nothing earth shattering was revealed  to me, it was a reminder that we are FREE and our suffering here is just a blip on the radar until His gates are opened and the party begins. It was a reminder that we are allowed to have different theological interpretations. It was a reminder that living with disease does NOT make your faith any less that those living without. It was a reminder that God doesn't want to USE us...He just wants to BE with us. Thanks for those continued prayers, ya'll!

Monday, February 3, 2014

He is still fighting!!

It has been a really weird week. Being home feels so great, but it also feels so...weird. We have been in a bit of survival mode, which makes it difficult to stay connected to the rest of the world. Honestly...it is really hard to tune into the world when we are reaching with all of our might to just focus on Jesus. There really isn't any other place to look to right now. There are things that could make for a momentary little fix, but right now we just need to stick close to the Lord.
It is so wonderful to be on the receiving end of so many people wanting to love on us. It's just hard because there is nothing we REALLY need right now that we can't get from Him. We need His hope and protection and healing hand and understanding and peace...your prayers help us keep these things in the front of our minds. When we find a moment (or two) of mega weakness, we are comforted in knowing that both friends and strangers are praying in belief when we don't have the strength.
At the perfect moments your reminders of His word come through. He uses each of you to sharpen us.
I loved this reminder and am clinging tightly to it....
The Lord will FIGHT for you, you need only be STILL. exodus 14:14.
This is a solid reminder that when we feel like we have no fight left in us...He doesn't give up on us!
Justin hasnt moved much since he got home from the hospital...it is hard to believe he has been home a week. It is all a blur! His awake time has been very short and very sporadic. He is really feeling terribly and the boys are starting to miss him :( He has just not had the energy to pull up his boot straps like he normally does. I believe that Justin will bounce back. He always does. God works so mysteriously in that mans body! I am grateful to know that I don't have to understand it.
Thanks for sticking with us and keeping up. We don't know what is next right now. I don't really know when we will reenter the world. But, for now will you just continue to pray for us? Will you REALLY REALLY pray for the boys like you have never prayed for them before? Pray that the feel a peace that surpasses all understanding and that they will feel how much their daddy loves them even though he isnt able to show them right now. Let them feel strength in His mighty power.
And as I type this...the Holy Spirit intervenes and shows me MORE. He reminds me that he has prepared an ARMY of warriors to link arms with me for such a time as this. There are so many others who are in need of these prayers... some very precious people in my life are hurting daily and crying out to the Lord to show them the way. Begging for God to continue dropping grace into their laps when it feels like hope is running out. The reminders come at the most perfect time...but we MUST be tuned into the Spirit...or we will miss out. His blessings will continue to overflow, but I don't want to miss a single one. Let the eyes of our HEARTS be open and let the wondrous gifts overflow. I am choosing to take HIS yoke upon me and leave my busted up yoke at the cross. Amen.