Hard days

Today is one of those hard days. Those days where everyone is crying and you are struggling to just change all the diapers (twice in the span of 5 minutes, thanks Emmie) and you want so badly to make it to church so you can breathe and worship for a few minutes…. then you finally make it and your sweet kids are overwhelmed and really don’t want to go into their still new to them Sunday school rooms and the baby is fussy… so you want to scream but instead your rock of a husband tells you it’s okay, and you call it a day… you grab little hands and breathe and turn around and complete the walk of shame back to your car, then work so hard not to breakdown in tears. Yeah that’s today.

Today we have lived in our new town, so far from home a little over one month and I officially feel like I belong nowhere. It’s 12 degrees out today and between cold weather and sick kids I feel like I’m in house lock down, this alternate reality where you play play doh and run in circles in your small house and constantly question how much tv time is too much tv time for 4 year old, while trying to rock the 2 month old back to sleep.

Today is hard. I know Jesus is meeting me right here and holding me up, and quietly reminding me that I can do this really hard thing, I can parent these wonderful, incredibly needy little people, in a place far from home, even when I’m exhausted and don’t know how to make it I the next moment. Thank goodness for God’s grace and truth because today is hard, but I will pick myself up and smile and figure out an activity to occupy all of us for the next 6 hours. Because sometimes this is our mission field, right here, it’s not glamorous or easy but I’m committed to reflecting the patient, steadfast Love of God, even today, when it’s really hard.

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When it’s really scary

I’m really not a writer but I feel God pushing me to get my thoughts down on paper so here goes. I was emailed about my blog and realized my one and only post was from one year ago exactly, how funny. I read my words about angsting to do more for God’s kingdom and understanding God’s great love for me. It is amazing and humbling to look back and inspiring to see how much I have grown – I continue to struggle for sure, but in new and different ways. I learned that I am enough and that the only work that matters for furthering God’s kingdom is the work he directly assigns you… which means over and over again instead of running and striving – be present, be still and listen. Such a lesson.

Since that post we moved out of my parents basement and into our “dream” home, after much prayer and discussion my husband felt called to quit his good full time job to start an intensive full time computer programming school for 8 months and then we found out we were expecting baby #3. Ha, thinking that building our house and living with my parents was an act of faith and a “really hard trial” sort of makes me smile now. My husband was raised with no encouragement or concept really of preparing for college or career and this was his first taste of higher education. There were many long nights and he worried and prayed about making it through but he persevered and in the end did an amazing job, graduating successfully in June! I could not be more proud of him or humbled as I watch him jump head first into the intimidating plans God has put forth – he unquestionably follows God word and is an incredible role model for me and our children.

Ways that I have grown in the past year and what have I learned… hmm so much. This has been my biggest year for deep growth. I’m learning so much through experience and I spend my free time reading excellent Christian fiction, non fiction, biographies and of course The Bible. Thanks to God I’m learning that He is so much more then the cliches we often water him down to. He is all loving, patient and does have good, good things planned for us – but they don’t just happen. The wonderful plans He has for us and the blessings, calling and lessons He wants to bestow on us only happen if we are faithfully, quietly, carefully and humbly listening to his voice, growing in his teaching and molding and laying our life down for him. It’s a path of intentional, forward motion. We don’t just stumble onto God’s path and say I’m good now! I can’t speak for everyone but I know for me my natural inclination is to follow the present day (not so Christian) culture, I want the ease of the American life, financial success and I sure didn’t want to sacrifice time, money or my physical body for His calling. God has been so gracious and so patient with me and I feel him pruning me and beckoning me to follow him deeper, to rethink what really matters in life and to fully trust him in all things, day by day. Salvation, love and acceptance are all there and He is always accessible but meaningful growth through God’s plan takes day to day, soul exhausting intention. I’m no theology expert but I’m learning slowly through study and experience.

Right now sweet husband has been job searching for 3 months, he’s applied for over 100 jobs all over the country and so far no takers. We both feel strongly that God has called us to let Him plan the number and spacing of our children (a tough personal choice we take very seriously and entered into with much knee aching prayer) we also feel that my place for the foreseeable future is at home, full time, intentionally raising and educating our sweet blessings. So this means no more work for me ( – and yes, I’m like “what! but I make good money and good benefits only working 2 days a week – I’m only gone 2 days, and I’m good at my job – come on are you sure about this one God!?”). Clearly the pruning is still actively happening, biblical, Godly pruning never ends…

So with baby #3 due in 6 weeks, me preparing to leave my job completely and hubby without any income we are walking through a place of unknowns and darkness. The thing I’m learning is that this is a very bareable darkness because it is the kind of darkness that simply does not allow you to see through it, I am taking life a day at a time for sure, but it is a darkness that radiates light, because Jesus walks with me hand in hand, cheering us on every stumbling step of the way. Never have I felt so close and plugged in to God. We may need to leave our brand new house, sell vehicles and make some other scary financial decisions in the very near future, our hearts may break as my husband continues to try and try again to find the right job, through exhausting month long interview processes, only to be told, “No you are not enough”, yet again – these things are all hard, truly hard – but the truth is when I intentionally reach out and remember to plug in to Him, Jesus walks tangibly with me daily. The cliche is true and the dark and the unknown circumstances don’t outshine the light because the light is true and good and so, so real. And thanks to God’s slow and steady pruning we are faithfully, and obediently (trying at least!) walking in line with God and that means He will lead the way, and we are on His path to abundant life. Soul changing lessons, continued growth, meaningful purpose and deep relationship occurs only on His path, how blessed we are to have found this path! I am a stubborn and slow to learn, thank you Lord for the refining power of God prompted darkness. I am a mess many days and such a work in progress but with my hand in God’s, day by day, I am joyful because I know we are headed somewhere beautiful.

 

 

“…I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15: 1-8

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

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Count it all joy 

I’m posting this for safe keeping for myself. I’ve never blogged before and I don’t suppose anyone need read it. But I like the idea that I can look back on this and smile. 
Life has been crazy over the past year. Pregnancy, birth of our wonderful second daughter, selling our house, moving in with my parents, my husband found God (what… amazing, hallelujah!), I’ve grown exponentially in my walk with God, we are building a new house, raising children, life carries on. The girls are growing and changing in spectacular ways. We’ve made amazing new friends and grown in relationship with old friends. Slowly the lens by which we view the world has shifted and everything we do and don’t do is God tinted. We’ve grown slowly, but steadily in relationship at church. We’ve grown so much in our marriage. Such joy! 

Yet there’s been so much angst, so much questioning – should we do x or y, move here or there, am I doing this whole Christian thing right? Working too much? Not enough? Parenting right? Why did we sell our house?! How about my marriage, how are we doing? Two little children can be hard on a marriage, so hard, so many tears, frustrations, fear, then joy, God, and growth. When I reflect and step back I see that God has been here all along, guiding us, loving us, completly carrying us in so many instances. Soon there will be more transition. 

In just a few months Ella turns 3, we move into our brand new home (thank you Jesus!) and Emmie will be one year old. So much excitement. So much anticipation. I think my words of wisdom to myself are to enjoy. Relax. Be present. You are enough and God loves you. These sound so cliche but for me, they are so true. My latest anxious thoughts are around the unbelievable goodness of Jesus and feeling like I’m somehow doing it wrong, missing the mark. I have extra time (well, sort of) and I want to live the life I think Jesus asks of us. I want to be a “true” servant. For some reason working part time, volunteering at church and serving my family (caring for my sweet husband, 2 year old and 8 month old certainly feels like 24/7 service most days) but these don’t count in my mind, specifically because loving on my family feels like a joy filled privilege. I feel like I could give more. I have felt called to serve in bigger ways – and as silly as it sounds I don’t want to somehow let God down. Perhaps opening our home to Foster Care is also in the near future. What an honor and privilege it would be to walk alongside children in need. What a huge undertaking though! If I’m honest I realize that I think we must not be doing enough if we are happy and not totally stressed out right..? Hmm no I suppose that’s not really what Gods getting at. Clearly I’m still a work in progress here. What ever our future holds I’m finally embracing living out the mission God has called me to.

I truly believe my mission is communing with God and being in relationship with him daily, serving the precious gifts he’s put in my life (dear husband and Ella and Em) and watching for – then making the most of -opportunities to love all His beloved children that I cross paths with, be that patient’s at work, new and old friends, family members, foster kids, brothers and sisters in Christ or complete strangers. I’m slowly grasping how much God loves me (although I still struggle with this), how much He delights in me and that its okay to let go and really enjoy this life he’s provided. Hallelujah, what a blessing! The words of James, “Count it all joy” 1:2 seem particularly true and sweet lately. I pray I can hold on to this and continue to keep my eyes on what matters and allow God to keep my heart filled with joy and thanksgiving, no matter the circumstance. 

Family vacation – little ones didn’t really let us sleep but we played as a family… joy ❤️