I read this a while back and thought it would be good to share in light of my not so recent post about joy. I strongly identified with this…and it even mentions Nehemiah as well.
So, yes. Just to come out with it. We’re reformed (in regard to theology). We’re also being reformed (in regard to what God is doing in our lives and to our hearts). Labels can be so despised lately, huh? I’m not shy about it though. It is what it is. Reformed or not, it should be about Jesus. That’s my hope.
I could share a million more links. I have been reading this blog lately (actually since the earthquake):
I’ll stop there. Happy Friday!
If you were driving on I35 today in Dallas around noon…I’m sorry.
Well, I’m sorry to most of you and maybe just a bit perplexed at a few of you. And please stop laughing…all of you! It was hours ago, ‘kay?!
The story goes like this:
After a hectic and admittedly stress-filled morning I got the boys and myself to a bible study we have started to attend at our church. This is the first time since becoming Mom that I have made a commitment to get out of the house at a set time and day each week. Lest you think I am pathetic…well, I am. And I admit it.
Nonetheless, I am without shame and I humbly proclaim that I am more than ready for this. No matter how hard and challenging it may be (picture me yelling loudly) I am ready to do this…to get us out of the house more!
We drive just about 45-50 minutes to get to our church. It is worth it– just so you know. Traffic, however, can make this longer. It did today. Both coming and going.
So, really, with the added drive time and the two hour bible study it becomes almost a full day event. I don’t necessarily mind that except it makes the going home part tricky. My boys want to fall asleep in the car. It is, after all, close to their nap…close enough that they are tempted by the lull of the car and Brooke Fraser playing on the ipod to close their sweet little eyes and sleep, sleep, sleep…shhh.
Now, from a mom of even just two: sleep, any sort of sleep, is a BIG deal and usually highly protected and certainly considered a precious commodity with just ONE exception.
When driving home close to the afternoon nap–the nap in which they both take at the SAME time–it is a fact that if they sleep in the car they WON”T sleep upon arrival at home. And folks if I’ve learned anything in these last three sleep deprived years it is this: you can’t MAKE a kid go to sleep.No matter how bad you want them to sleep or how bad you need sleep.
We ran into a significant amount of traffic. Even for this particular part of Dallas – I35 and Woodall Rogers. An accident maybe? Whatever it was it was long gone by the time we slowly made our way past the scene. We spent over an hour inching our way through traffic and never even saw the reason why.
Now, of course this is nothing unusual. I drove I35 all the way to Denton way too often when I was pregnant with Clay to get to the midwife. It happens. I realize this.
Today though…oh. Today. Today I was driving stick shift. I haven’t encountered stop and go traffic in a stick shift. I’m not really good yet at the stick shift. That may be an understatement.
I dumped it. Again. Then again. Then again…again…(cringe) and again. I peeled out each time I tried to go 6 ft. just to stop again. Then I peeled out again. Excruciating.
Stop. Lurch. Go. Stop. Lurch. Go. Stop. Lurch. Go.
Any pride that I had as we drove away from church was dealt with on that long, long drive home. Humility found me right there on I35 in Dallas and bit by bit my pride flew of the car each time I “dumped” it.
At some point I decided to just let it happen. Let the boys sleep. I won’t reach back and tickle their feet, turn the music up louder, sing silly songs, or roll the windows down and play freeze out. Sleep, child, sleep. Mommy is being humiliated.
I started to experiment. I decided this was a good time to learn more about the mysterious dance of clutch and gas. I35 has some incline around those parts. You may have never noticed that. They seemed like mountains to me. I tried hard not to panic.
As it was I got better with time. I took deep breaths and I kept praying. I tried to think about the life lesson I could take from the experience. I got closer and closer to the end–the point in which the lanes close down and the cars have to merge to get past the accident scene.
The cars to my left needed to be in my lane and eventually in the lane to my right (meaning I had to get over too). But the cars to my right were being stingy and selfish and not letting any of us losers on the left in their silly little club lane on the right. BUT the cars to my left were pushing their way into my lane. And the cars to my right still weren’t welcoming new members.
Eventually everything was messed up; cars were all over the place and not in straight lines. Everyone was getting over from the left and I was sandwiched in between the rejects to my left and the snobs on my right. I was in no man’s land.
We were on an incline. I needed to move forward. I’m sure that as I began that process I started to go backwards just a bit. You know. Just a bit. The car behind me did not like that…rightfully so…I mean this particular car was nearly touching the back end of my car. If I went back any more there would be contact.
(I’m just sayin’…any collision would have been their fault. In my opinion.)
They were being pushy and inpatient. People! I was just trying to survive. I didn’t care what lane I was in. I didn’t care if I was in a lane or not. I just wanted out.
As they laid on their horn…Oh, yes!…they laid on their horn…I realized that there was only one thing that could be done. I opened my door.
I motioned for them to go around me. I may have made a face. Rolling down the window may have been more appropriate (and less offensive?) but we have power nothing. And desperate times…well, you know what I mean.
They sat stunned for a second. As if I had hit them. The driver was a woman.
(Oh, us women. We are sensitive creatures. Even in these moments.)
Seconds later after the driver made her way around me, and I felt it was safe to move I broke free of the whole mess. I mean, literally. It was like the Red Sea parted and I didn’t hesitate a bit. I got around the cars on the right and was on my way home.
All that to say…
What am I saying? I bet you thought there was more to that story, huh? Anticlimatic?
As a wife and a mom this is how I have felt for months…years. Stop. Lurch. Go. Stop. Lurch. Go. Having to learn how to do what I am doing while I am doing it. Not knowing what the correct way is…just having to go for it. Discovering my pride and often times being humiliated by the consquences of it. It seems too easy to present myself as a wife and mom who knows what I’m doing and who is doing it well…but just look closely. Watch me as I fumble, fail, and fall flat on my face. I’m broken.
I have felt stuck. Frustrated by my seeming lack of growth. Wondering…when will I get this down? When will I arrive at some sort of peaceful place? When will *all at the same time* the house be put together, the kids be well behaved, my hair done and wardrobe consisting of sweet, feminine dresses and The Painter be lavished with my deserved affection upon his arrival home each evening? When does this happen? It will happen…right?
Maybe not. Probably not? There will always be something. Perfection will not be attained in this life. As I get deeper and deeper into this whole business of homemaking I find more and more wrong with me. Again (and again) I am confronted by my sin and my brokenness…
Stop. See this with me for a second. Do you see it? This opportunity that is before me?
I see my failings. I see my shortcomings. I see where I’m just not cutting it. And even still I have yet to see most of it! Instead of despairing, instead of seeing this as a reason to fall into deep depression, or worse yet to give up, I see this as a defining moment of Christian growth.
Crazy. I know. But true.
I grow because I grow into deeper dependence on Him. I grow because I realize again and again that I can’t do this. I am a terrible mother, a terrible wife, apart from His grace. Chew on that. I most certainly am.
I’ll close with this. Elizabeth Prentiss expresses this well:
“God never places us in any position in which we can not grow. We may fancy that He does. We may fear we are so impeded by fretting, petty cares that we are gaining nothing; but when we are not sending any branches upward, we may be sending roots downward. Perhaps in the time of our humiliation, when everything seems a failure, we are making the best kind of progress.”
And this. To end with scripture, penned by a man that understood that he was to depend on Christ more and more with each passing day:
“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Stop. Lurch. Go. Whatever the means realize that God is calling you to grow in dependence upon Him. Not self-sufficiency…
Let those roots go down deep, Friend. Let us grow into childlike faith. Oh, by your grace, Father…
I still haven’t been able to get Haiti off my mind.
A few things…
The churches. Have you thought about that? Pastors killed, leaders killed, church buildings destroyed. HURTING people everywhere. For the Haitian people to endure and as they rebuild their lives it is so, so important that we help them build their churches as we help them with their physical needs as well. Right? Right.
And the sex trade. Young children, missing or dead parents. Vulnerable. I’m speechless…the pain, sin, WICKEDNESS, EVIL, and tragedy of it all is overwhelming.
Hope. In Christ. Nothing else.
Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church along with James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel have created an organization to help rebuild churches after disasters strike. Check it out: Churches Helping Churches
Here are some of Mark Driscoll’s initial remarks after arriving back in the States from Haiti: Mark Driscoll’s Letter to Mars Hill Church
As I said before and I’ll probably keep saying: our live here just keeps on going. I am overwhelmed each day and not able to get everything done. I have been a bit depressed this week and more emotional than usual…I hate that the dishes keep piling up and I have been VERY frustrated with my boys. I can’t keep up with email, the meals, the cleaning. I’m human. Sinful. I lose my perspective and my temper very easily. I was ugly to my husband this week. I’m not even sure what I am trying to say…
Micah had surgery this week. He had to be “put under” for the procedure. He is doing great. I was sitting there, in that fancy Children’s Hospital…and *laughing* to myself about the “health care crisis” in America. Of course, I was thinking of Haiti.
We don’t have health insurance. Even still. Get what I am saying?
Maybe I just saying that I’m shedding some things. I’m not wanting to live my life the same way. I’m not wanting to live for myself, for the American Dream, for the comforts that this temporary life can bring…it’s not that my day to day life will change dramatically. I will be wife and mom and I am called, passionate, and with that wholeheartedly. I will be washing dishes for years to come. And I will be doing laundry. I will have dirty diapers to change again and again. But…maybe I’m seeing where my idols are…
And maybe soon there will some quiet time to digest some of this. Just check out the links if anything. Forgive me for my inability to articulate. Remember? I’m working it out on this blog. Therapy.
Hope in Christ. Nothing else.
*Facebook status updates have started to sound even more shallow than normal, and yes, in light of Haiti. I know. I am a Facebook snob and a self-proclaimed one at that. But really? Really?! Maybe I just need to chill out. Which I do. But really? REALLY?!
*Okay. So maybe those are just some of my Facebook “friends”. Maybe I need new friends. Which I might. After some of them read this. Laugh with me! There is still joy to be had in the midst of all of this.
Albert Mohler has some timely thoughts about the tragedy in Haiti.
In light of Pat Robertson…sigh…
I wanted to share this. Please read…
I find it hard to look at things around here (in my cozy little home) the same way when I read about Haiti. And I imagine the unimaginable…
I just want to say that. My heart always gets really heavy when I read the news. My heart is really heavy today. I go to bed at night praying for miracles – for God to save people left and right that are still trapped. That the children…all the children and moms and dads and grandpas and grandmas…that they would be safe, that they would be saved, that their physical needs would be met. Micah has prayed for Haiti with me. He prays for Haiti’s “bobo”. Obviously it is much more than that…but that is language he understands.
Is there any language that can encapsulate the suffering that is being experienced there right now? On this earth?
And yes, I struggle with the usual. For pete’s sake. The Laundry. And then there is The Painter and I – we seem to be communicating poorly this week. And for relief from our financial situation because…well, we sure don’t appear to be “successful.”
It’s that – THAT. That attitude. That ridiculous attitude that life on this earth is meant for PURE pleasure for me – for us. That there is some sort of entitlement to drive a nice car, or live in a house we own, or that we should be able to buy even basic things like underwear and new socks because darn it we are American and we deserve it.
We. Don’t. Deserve. ANYTHING. And HE has given us EVERYTHING. NEW LIFE. It’s HIM. It’s all about Jesus.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
I wrote the bottom portion of this post over a month ago and never posted it. I wanted to think on it some more and then never got back around to blog again the entire month of December. Obviously.
The last month or so has been…interesting. There is much to be learned as I walk with the Village Church as the Chandlers suffer well on this new, unexpected journey they are now on. And even as I ponder death and consider what this life is truly about…life just keeps on going. The laundry piles up. Meals need to be made. Our boys need much attention and discipline. I need much attention and discipline.
Something that I read on Lauren Chandler’s blog The Chandlers spoke to me in my mostly discouraging and down sort of day. She wrote this as she asked for prayers for the Passion Conferance going on right now in Atlanta, Georgia:
So, I ask you to pray. Pray that there will be another young man, another young woman whose view of God is much too small–whose foundation will not be enough on which to stand when their world falls apart–whose purpose in life is the eternally dismal “American dream” instead of the infinitely joyous joining with the saints for the advancement of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Pray they will be utterly ruined. For His glory and their joy.
Our life right now is not the American Dream. And if I am honest I think I spent most of the day angry that it isn’t. Most days I handle this well. Today…not so much.
I feel like we’re Sarah and Abraham sometimes. Believing for the impossible and looking foolish all the while. But did they struggle like I am to keep on keeping on? I am struggling today. How will this all work out and can we do this?
Sometime in the last year God impressed upon my heart a scripture verse – one of those wonderful I’m-doing-dishes-and-it’s-been-a-long-day type moments and the Lord just laid it on my heart. Oh, the Grace.
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. Nehemiah 8:9-12
On that note here is the post that I wrote in early December…and now I’m finally posting:
Joy is finding me lately. Even in the midst of some trying circumstances and my own failures and shortcomings as a wife and mom…
Even in the midst of crazy days and feeling like I’m not gaining any ground or those moments when I think, “Gosh…I’m just terrible at this!”
When there is no money for the needs, and definitely no money for the wants. Even as Christmas approaches and I want to buy gifts for everyone and can’t buy anything for anyone…
Even as it seems everyone else is doing great and they are enjoying the good life…
When supper is not on the table (again) and there has been no time to do ANYTHING and the boys are whining and crying and…and…
Somehow, even as I wash the dishes and clothes and the diapers again and again and again…and I change the diapers again and again…and I correct and instruct and discipline again and again…and I pick up the Painter’s mess brought in from the world outside our door again and again…and I don’t do it with a good attitude.
The joy rises up in me causing me to proclaim how grateful and wonderful it is that I am at home, mothering these boys and learning how to serve my husband. Lately it has been frequent that this joy has found me, and it is entirely outside of myself. It isn’t from within me and I don’t work and strive and struggle to muster up the joy. It just arrives. Like a gift from God. An answer to prayer. His providence in my life. Supernatural.
The joy of the Lord…
It is my strength.