Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 146: Milestones and Motherhood

Many of you may recall the day that you got married as the most significant milestone of your life. For others, it may be the day that you graduated college or took your fantasy vacation or found your dream designer, mustard yellow handbag at 75% off and watched as an old lady stole it from you in plain sight (*cough*-There's part of my heart that still mourns this day.).

For me, I can mark today down as an epic milestone, along with these memorable days from my past:

1. The day I found out that the guy I liked for 2 years in college had a twin. [I thought this was God's gift to me. Then, come to find out, his twin is a girl.]

2. The day I tucked my dress into my underwear at a 5 star resort.

3. The day I announced publicly my belief in Big Foot.

May 26 (that's today) will forever go down in infamy, one that can be added to my list of epic milestones. Why? Because today I decided I wanted to be a mom.

Was it a cute baby at Target? Was it watching a rerun of A Baby Story on TLC? Was it feeding orphans in Africa? No. It was one comment from one pastor in one Q&A session. That's all it took.

Yes, I know what you may be thinking... "All those years of people trying to convince you that motherhood is a good thing and sermons and teaching and babysitting...and all it takes is a Q&A session? You've got to be kidding me." Well, it happened that way.

It was this statement:

"My goal as a parent is to make my family safe
so that they can enjoy God."

-Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding, CA

I started thinking about this and it kind of wrecked me. REALLY wrecked me. I started lining up my 20-something-aged friends in my mind and was going through each and every person birthed out of this parentless generation. In my mind I walked up to them and asked, "Did your parents nurture you in a place of emotional and physical safety so that you could freely enjoy God?" Almost every person I asked in my mind would respond with a sarcastic, wounded laugh.

It was in that very moment that I realized I have the tools to raise a child. Now, I'm not married, I don't own a car seat, and if you asked me how to cure diaper rash I would have no idea, but I enjoy God. I enjoy God with every part of me. And if you have a parent who truly enjoys God (I'm not talking about going to church on Sunday and doing an occasional "quiet time" here), but a parent who genuinely ENJOYS God ... then you have a recipe for success.

[Enjoy: to take pleasure or delight in; to live in happiness; to relish the pleasures]

I also value safety. But I hear you saying to me, "Doesn't everyone?" Okay, well then answer me this: Do/did you feel welcome with your parents? Could you talk to them knowing that you wouldn't be judged? Do/did you feel freedom and a sense of belonging? That's the kind of safety I'm talking about valuing...the kind that our culture is allergic to...the kind of safety that only exists in trust.

I want to be able to walk in front of that same line of people in my mind someday and see a transformed generation. A generation that knows the heart of God, delights in His will, and feels safe enough to enjoy their Father. So much so, that in the future they can stand in that line with their children and confidently say, "I made my family safe so that they can enjoy God." Then, I can look at their children, and ask them, "Do you enjoy God?" And instead of words they just dance.

I hope my children become dancers...

So, here's my vow, public and electronic, that I will make my family safe so that they can enjoy God. If that's what being a parent means then sign me up for motherhood.

Today is the milestone of motherhood. Day 146 of 2010.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 144: What's the point in having confidence?

I have had a significant amount of people talk to me at length about confidence in the past two weeks. Any time I have asked, "What's the Lord teaching you about in this season of your life?" it almost always begins with confidence. Is this a freak occurrence? I think not.

So, then tonight I was sitting on my back porch, soaking up the last bit of freak cool, desert weather and the Lord tells me to go check out 1 John 3. What does 1 John 3 talk about? A lot of great stuff (you should really check it out), but specifically confidence. Another freak occurrence? No way, Dr. Dre.

Here's the part of 1 John that hit me over the head like a shovel [speaking of this... you have simply GOT to check
this video out. I have always wanted to do this to someone!]... it's verses 19-22. It says:

And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him...

If you are feeling significantly overwhelmed, but know that these verses are important please raise your hand now [note: my hand is raised]. It bugged me that I didn't get I did some research and here's the breakdown... (which, btw, is totally up for discussion).

Assure/Peitho (Greek): to make confident, to free from fear or doubt

Heart/Kardia (Greek): thoughts, reasonings, understandings, emotions, and conscience (which is what "heart" primarily means here-- conscience).

Condemn/Kataginosko (Greek):
to incriminate, condemn, disce
rn against another, blame.

Confidence/Parresia (Greek): Confidence or boldness particularly in speaking

Insert these meanings into the verses and you get:

By this we shall come to know that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify, make confident, to free from fear or doubt) our hearts (thoughts, reasonings, understandings, emotions, and conscience) in His presence,20whenever our hearts (thoughts, reasonings, understandings, emotions, and conscience) in tormenting self-accusation and blame make us feel guilty and condemn us. For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].21Beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse and blame us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness, especially in speaking) before God, 22And we receive from Him whatever we ask...

To put it simply...

1. What prevents/comes against confidence? Our heart (thoughts, reasonings, understandings, emotions, and conscience) condemning/blaming us. When there's all kinds of false self-blame there is really no room for confidence!

2. When our heart, thoughts and emotions start blaming us we don't even have to do it alone. These verses say that "He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him]." So, don't get caught in the pit of thinking you gotta do it yourself or that you're not worthy or you deserve it or whatever kind of lie comes creeping into your mind. He is above and greater than all that blame and condemnation and your reasonings/thoughts/feelings that bring condemnation must submit to the King and be destroyed our mighty God. Don't put up what that stuff! God has a bigger plan for you and it's called CONFIDENCE.

3. When there's NO blame---BOOM-SHOCKA-LOCKA there's confidence.

4. What's the point of confidence? Not to walk a little taller and not to "feel good about yourself" (although those are great things and totally of God!). The point of confidence is to be bold in prayer (Heb. 4:16, 10:19, 1 Jn 5:14) and proclamation (Heb. 13:6).

Beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse and blame us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness, especially in speaking) before God, 22And we receive from Him whatever we ask...

That's the point, folks-- to approach the throne of God in boldness and trust that whatever we ask of Him will be done.

Sign me up to ride the confidence train.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 132: Blindsided. Tackled by a football player.

I knocked a linebacker out cold.

One freezing, dreadful morning in January of 2007 I was walking in the hallway of a university gym. Note #1: I was walking the HALLWAY. It was early, I was cold, and I certainly wasn't paying any attention. Suddenly, out of NOWHERE, meeting me head-on at the intersection of two crossing hallways, came the 6'6" linebacker that would come in contact with my face. Note #2: He was running at top speed.

I had no time to react before my face smashed into his chest, fracturing my nose and cheek bone on his sternum and giving me a level 3 concussion. My left hand was also injured and due to the force of the hit, I fell backwards and hit my head on the hard tile, giving me ANOTHER level 3 concussion. Count 'em...that's TWO concussions.

But check it out: I'm so short and he is so tall that I "clothes-lined" the dude. He flipped over the top of me somehow and hit his head on the tile, knocking both of us unconscious. By the time the rest of the people racing with him (they were running wind sprints in the hallways of the gym) caught up they discovered the two of us out cold on the floor wondering what had happened.

I was blindsided. But I went to the beach to "recover" so it was okay. Notice the black eyes and sling.
Then two weeks ago I was hiking with my dad, summiting a large mountain in Arizona. We got to the top, started to head down, and he proceeds to have a heart attack. What the heck. We all didn't know it was a heart attack at the time, but, needless to say, a week later I get a phone call from my mom and she said I had to drive an hour and half to the hospital, that dad was in bad shape. I get to the hospital and the doctors announce that he has to have a DOUBLE bypass.

We were blindsided. But not quite like the movie.

It felt just like getting tackled by the linebacker. It's like, one second I was walking along and then two seconds later I'm laying on the ground wondering what happened. I felt taken out, helpless, and honestly... kind of mad waiting in that hospital room. I kept sitting in the waiting room thinking in frustration, "When can I get out of here?! I just want to leave!" It was uncomfortable, worrisome, and heart-breaking (no pun intended). Having to wonder every day for a week straight if the last conversation you had with your dad would be your last isn't exactly my idea of a good time.

I just wanted out. Have you ever felt that way? As Patsy Clairmont says, "I didn't raise my hand for this!" I kept thinking, "Who thought that this was a good idea?! I don't want to be here!" I wanted to go back to normal, every day life where my dad climbed mountains and things were okay. I didn't want to eat hospital omelets. I didn't want to hug people I didn't know when they tried to comfort me. And certainly, every time we were in the waiting room I didn't want to wait... I just wanted to run away.

Have you ever felt like certain things in your life are just taking too long? That you just want the season to be over so you can move on and get to the fun stuff? This was one of those weeks.

Then the Lord gave me this verse last night: ..."patient in affliction..." -Romans 12:12

What in the world does that mean? Romans 12 talks a lot about being a 'living sacrifice' and love and stuff and then all of sudden it says to be "patient in affliction." The Justine translation? To be patient in the stuff that flat out sucks.

But then I started wondering...what does PATIENCE really mean anyway? What does it mean to have patience in affliction?

I looked up that particular word in Greek and as it turns out, patience in Romans 12:12 means "to remain under, to persevere, to endure persecution or miseries in faith and patience, to remain privately, to stay behind."

To stay behind? To remain? Let me tell you what... to REMAIN and stay behind in the midst of my dad's heart attack was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn't want to endure. I didn't want to have patience. I just wanted it all to be over and for my dad be okay.

But check this out: that word that's used for "patient" in Romans 12:12? I looked up all the places in the New Testament that it comes up and almost every time the Bible talks about JOY before it talks about patience or endurance. Even in Romans 12: 12...

"Be JOYFUL in hope, PATIENT in affliction, and faithful in prayer."

I started thinking last night that if there's joy involved in the process then sign me up. I mean, thank the Lord that we don't just have to endure, but that there's joy there! Seriously legit. I'm not trying to be all fluffy-bunnies-and-roses on ya when I say this. I mean it will all sincerity. There's nothing better than joy in the midst of the things we must's like a kiss from God.

Then I got hit with this doozy. When I was looking up other verses that had the Greek word that's used in Romans 12:12 for patience I found this one:
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him ENDURED the cross."-Hebrews 12:2

That word "endured" right there in Hebrews 12:2? That's the exact, same word used for "patient" in Romans 12:12. Add the definition of the Greek word to the verse and you get this:

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him REMAINED, STAYED, HAD PATIENCE, AND ENDURED the cross FOR ME. -Hebrews 12:2 (with expansion)

He stayed there/remained and endured the cross for me. It has hit me over and over again today...what if He wouldn't have stayed? What if He would've just left? And I realized...that if He stayed on the cross for me...I can stay at the hospital and endure the pain of watching my family go through the agony of waiting.

Through this I am realizing more and more that being "patient in affliction" is much more than sitting around and waiting until the sucky things in life pass. It's staying put until it's over, it's seeing it through, it's investing in the moment, it's staying when everyone else leaves, it's dealing with the hard things in my heart and not running from them (that's a big one!), it's not giving up and throwing in the towel just because it's not comfortable or convenient, and it's remaining when everything inside seems to be screaming, "Get out! This isn't fun!"

And it's allowing the Holy Spirit to remind me & you over and over and over again that if He can endure/remain/be patient at the cross for me and be joyful about it...then I can be patient here too and watch His joy overtake my soul.

This doesn't make it any easier...but it makes it worth it.