cleansing her by the washing with water through the word

Friday, July 29, 2011

Momma and the chocolate cake...

Maiz came up to me the other day, in confusion more than sadness and said,
"Momma, I keep praying and God doesn't answer."

Being the good Christian mother I am, I answered her with the correct, "God always answers. He has three answers. No, slow, go. Like a stoplight." There's that. Spiritual truth communicated. And I went on with my important tasks of nothingness.

Holy spirit punch. It was a light one, but a punch nonetheless.
This is the moment, kb. She's opening her soul.

You see, my spunky sunshine of a 5-year-old has been discouraged lately. She has had some of the same struggles in a certain area for about a year. Now, she's not a walking ball of discouragement. Just in this one thing, she feels defeated. Like she'll never get it right.

"Maiz, come here. You know what momma said is true. But I didn't mention that it's HARD. And sometimes all we can do is just keep trying. Sometimes God lets us struggle through things so that we can learn perseverance and obedience and dependence on Him."

Another holy spirit punch, get real with her kb.

Deep breath...
"Maiz baby, it's like momma and the chocolate cake..."
A little light goes on in her brain and a smile goes on her face. NOW I'm starting to get through. Momma's been at this for years and she absolutely gets what you are going through, kiddo.

(Side note: My girls LOVE hearing about momma and the chocolate cake. I think they just get a kick out of momma struggling with something as silly as triple-chocolate cake with pink frosting, but what do they know, right?)

Fast forward-two days later, I am at a point of discouragement. I have had some of the same struggles in a certain area for about a year (or 10!). I'm not a walking ball of discouragement. Just in this one thing, I currently feel defeated. Like I'll never get it right.

The chocolate cake is not always just an example. In fact, despite all the victories I've had, "it" still tempts me regularly. And even if I stand firm and say "no," lately the subsequent pity party and bitterness that could follow are still a victory for Satan and my flesh. The script is so common.

God, this is still so hard (true). I still want to go back to my old ways even after a year of small victories, even after I just boasted that I've lost 50 pounds, I STILL want to eat this (true). And, one piece of chocolate cake wouldn't hurt me or make me gain the weight back (half-true). After all, it seems so unfair that I can't enjoy something-you made life to be enjoyable (half-true). And I can't possibly be expected to abstain from eating this food my entire life, because that is simply just unfair (lie). I've obeyed so long that I deserve this (lie). So I am going to do what I want to do, because I know what is best for me (lie).

And I bought it-hook, line, and sinker. Or maybe I should say, hook, line, and stinker.

"WHATEVER IS TRUE...think about such things." (Phil 4:8)

I should have stopped it right away at the truth and then thrown those at God for Him to deal with, because those mental half-lies quickly become full lies. And the thought process is so fast that we don't even see it coming.

Back to Genesis 3.
"Did God REALLY say?"
RUN, Eve! Call out for God! He's RIGHT THERE!!!
"You will not surely die."
Eve, you have no idea of the epic battle that you are becoming a pawn in. Satan cares NOTHING for you.

What's telling, though, is what I did next, after the chocolate cake with pink frosting (you get now that it wasn't REALLY chocolate cake, right?). Instead of calling out to God, I went to my friends. Yes, I need accountability, but what I really, REALLY needed was to repent and to run back to God and have Him clean me up and help me. But I was looking for the next program, wise comment, friendly exhortation to help me.

And YES, following a program can be a good thing as can all those other things.

But, the truth is that Katie already knows what Katie needs to do and, frankly, she's just tired of doing it. And to be honest, she feels as if it's a bit unfair. She wants the easy button.

Neither friends nor accountability nor exhortation nor a program can change our hearts, whatever it is that our hearts are struggling with.

But Jesus can.
Through our offering of obedience, Jesus can.
And I was tired of obeying.
I had actually been obeying very well for what felt like forever, so...
I just wanted God to answer my prayers to take the struggle and the rest of the hard work out of the equation. I would rather have a fairy godmother and her magic wand just until I lose the rest of the weight rather than my Father in Heaven who has a long-view of this thing and of me. He doesn't disappear at midnight.

Just like my girlie and her struggle.

After I talked to her, the next morning in fact, I read this timely "surely-this-Bible-study-was-written-just-for-me" verse in my Bible Study (Beth Moore's Breaking Free):

Isaiah 30:15
"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'"

And the Lord said the exact same thing to me as I said to Maizie.

To quote Beth Moore:
"The exact Hebrew word translated trust in this verse appears only once in the Old Testament. The word bitchah means "nothing more that one can do." Once we've obeyed God, we can do nothing more. We then wait on Him to bring the victory, knowing that the consequences of our obedience are His problem, not ours."

For some reason, in this area of my life, continued victory is taking a while. Despite my crying out and my what feels like constant praying to be free, I haven't woken up free from the struggle. There are things that make it easier (like accountability and not having chocolate cake in the house), but the truth is that the only thing that will bring me freedom is continued dependence and obedience.

And when I obey, all I can do is trust Him with that. So, I will repent and rest in Him. I will lay my heart down, the part that keeps wanting to run from one program to the next. The part that wants to stretch the boundaries He's given me "just this once." The not quiet and not rested part that is constantly and chaotically looking for new and better answers. The part of my heart that "would have none of it." I will repent and choose to stay in the knowledge that if I quietly persevere with that which I know He has called me to do, I can trust that Him with the outcome.

God always answers, but sometimes God waits us out and in the process we begin crying out a different prayer.

Help me be more like you, Jesus. Whatever it takes. However many "no thank-yous" and strange looks and crying out to you to fill up the holes that I would love to dump food into. Thank you that I have to depend on You this hard for something in my life.

There is so much more hope in that.

So, I guess, for Maizie this looks the same. Continued obedience even when it's hard and no Maizie-visible results are happening. And it may be hard for a long while. But, I guess if I really think about it, I'm not praying for that girl to have an easy life. I'm praying for her to have a God-dependent life.

Lord, give me patience with our situations as you works with our hearts. May they not become strongholds of discouragement, but a reminder that we absolutely need you. And may that knowledge cause us to obey your word and REST in you-that you will bring the ultimate victories.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

There's hope for us...

I am a first generation born-again/sold out for Jesus/God is the only reason I'm on this earth Christian. I know that my family somewhere up the line went to church and had a belief in God, but I'm the first in a long line of mothers that is raising my kids from before birth to hopefully follow Christ.

As such, I take great, great comfort in the story of Rahab. At first glance, it's unlikely.

This woman was a harlot. Which means a prostitute. And, no, I wasn't a prostitute. But a big sinner, yes. And going the wrong way, yes.

That famous battle at Jericho? Where the walls came-a-tumbling down, down, down?

That's the battle that Rahab hung out the red cord. She had lied to THE KING regarding two Israelite spies whereabouts. They were hidden on her roof, and she was savvy enough to gain the promise that she & those in her house wouldn't be hurt by the Israelites when they came into the city because she had helped them. And they kept their promise, because she identified herself with the red cord out her window.

But the story doesn't stop there. You have to go to the New Testament to see the rest. In the usually skipped over lineage of Jesus.

Matthew 1:5- "Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab..."

Boaz, Boaz, half of the most beautiful and heroic love stories in the entire Bible. Ruth and Boaz.

Ruth, who was a Gentile woman. Who chose to leave her people and her country and her country's gods to travel with her mother-in-law (one of God's people). Which meant following her to Bethlehem. Where Boaz was an extremely successful and respected man. But there is so much MORE to it.

I am going through Ruth with Maizie (5) right now. By chapter 2, the girl was HOOKED. So we've been reading it a lot. And she asked to do a Ruth "lapbook" (homeschool talk for big project with lots of glue and scissors). So I oblige. I mean, I suppose I could handle that since I don't have to feed any winged insects with an eyedropper.

One day we went through the book of Ruth and listed all of Ruth's character qualities. And as I did that, I thought, "Why not? Boaz is in here, too, let's do him as well." And ladies, what I saw brought tears to my eyes. I have scripture references for all these.

generous, observant, kind, honest, respectable...
protector, wise, caretaker, compassionate, cheerful...
available, teachable, understanding, strong...

I'm sure it could have gone on, but I was loosing the attention of the five year old. And weirding her out a bit.

"Mom, why in the world are you crying?"
Because there's hope for us, baby. There is hope.

You see, there is a lot in this Bible story. The whole thing is actually (for lack of a better word) momentous in relation to Jesus. To have not only Rahab, but also Ruth in his lineage is

But there's something else, too. Sort of a whisper. That I've missed in the past. And it takes my breath away.

Boaz's mother won with her son.

Rahab, whose upbringing probably wasn't that great, whose life was a mess prior, who possibly knew nothing of God's law before hearing about what He had done with the Israelites...THAT WOMAN partnered with and was led by her Israelite husband to raise a son like Boaz. Because God was bigger than her stuff and her past. She's called a prostitute a couple of times in scripture (Jas 2:25, Hebrews 11:31). We can praise God for the mighty work He did in her life, and because her past-sin included-probably made her one spitfire of a walking testimony for the one true God.

God redeemed her. And He taught her. And He blessed her. And she was faithful. And, YES, she helped the spies. And, YES, that was huge. But I could just weep with thankfulness over the legacy that she left in Boaz.

Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.

King David. And his descendant, King Jesus.

Oh God, make me like the redeemed Rahab.
One faithful and blessed spitfire.
With a legacy that points only to You.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My heart longs...

My heart longs for the midwest country. For the birch trees shimmering in the sunshine. For peeling wooden footbridges and fireflies. For patchwork quilts and that single windchime harmonizing with the chirping birds. For actually seeing more than 3 stars in the night sky and breathing in wildflower air.

But I've got 38th and Bloomington.

I am not complaining (right now). This is DEFINITELY where God wants us as a family. I think the journey to getting this house had so many of His fingerprints on it for that reason, so that I would know without a doubt that this is exactly where He wants us. So I obey.

And I CLING to the heart-blessings that I know will come with obedience.

But, oh, how it stretches me. And many, many times a day it can feel so overwhelming. Vigilance, constant noise, sirens racing down the street, the neighbors loud-music-filled-house ten feet away, electrical cords and large chipmunks out my back window, other peoples swearing children at the park, double-locked doors, drug deals in front of the barber shop, people always wanting bus fare.

LORD, I want peace. I just want peace and quiet.

You'll have to fight for it, kb. And it won't come how you think it will come.

It seems as if the antithesis of peace would be fighting. But, I am seeing that, for me, the antithesis of peace is actually fretting. Because what we are fighting is our flesh, and (gasp) our deceitful hearts. The defeat of our flesh by the Spirit of God (through obedience and choices) will bring us peace.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. Gal 5:17

But when we FRET, especially as women, that is when we just allow our flesh and our hearts to carry us away with "if onlys" and "maybes" and daydream up realities and lies that do not exist for us at this moment, we MISS GOD RIGHT NOW. The longing for fireflies isn't sin, I do believe that it is a desire that is deep in my heart and it's from God. The sin-what I am fighting-is the constant focus on it, the staring at what I don't want about my life, the thinking about how I can wriggle out of what He has before me, the ungrateful heart

...and the believing that ANYTHING outside of Him will fill my deep desires for peace.

But, how do I fight this, God? How do I fight against my fretting and fight for your peace?

He's so gracious to tell me.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition...

God, about this city thing. It is so overwhelming. I feel like I can't even breathe. I feel like all of the lives are closing in around my heart...

...with thanksgiving...

But, I must fight my fretting heart with true gratitude. I thank you for Jason's heart for people. Thank you for this big house. Thank you that I know I am exactly where you want us and thank you for making that so clear. Thank you that I really can just drive a couple of hours and be somewhere full of shimmering birch trees. Thank you for the fact that I belong to you, because if nothing else ever went "right" again, that would be enough.

present your requests to God.

Could I please have your peace and a heart like yours, Lord? Can I please have my inner heart be still and quiet? And, Lord, can you please give me little glimpses of your beauty through creation within the blocks of Minneapolis?

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Gal 5:17
Philippians 4:6-7