Can I be changed?

I can hear my husband’s deep sleep sounds just minutes after the lights go out.  A twinge of jealousy arises. And I know.  I can feel it in my swirling mind.  It’s going to be one of those nights.  I have been battling the question all day.  Really I have been battling it all my life.  It mostly stays down deep, but when my reserves are wearing thin, it finds the holes to seep through.

Does God change people?  Or what I am really asking, can I be changed?  It always starts the same.  A new resolution.  A new plan.  Fresh resolve.  I spend more time planning my “change” than actually doing it.  Planning is easy.  In my plans, I am never tired.  In my plans, I fall asleep when I want to and wake up cheerful.  In my plans there are no interuptions or  distractions.

But then, I put my plans into action.  And guess what…a child gets sick in the middle of the night, or a freak storm blows in and we get 14 inches of snow, and I “reschedule” my plans…for when there aren’t going to be any interruptions or distractions…you know, next Monday.

And self-condemnation sets in.  And I let it, because, well, it is easier to feel sorry for myself than to do the hard work of change.

Holy Spirit walk with me.  Help me to abide in you as my DAILY bread.  Help me to not walk in my own understanding, but to acknowledge you in all my ways.  Lord, give me a way out to stand up under temptation. Let perseverance finish its work in me that I may be mature and complete not lacking in anything.   Help me to not merely listen to your Word, but to do what it says. 

How can I expect to change without trials, hard work, and perseverance?  Why do I forget that living water is here and always available?

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Blog name change…

Ok, I am officially horrified.  I started to type in my blog and forgot to put “wordpress”  in the name and that led me to “The leading gay foot fetish site on the web.”  EWWWWW  I will be changing my blog name as soon as I can figure it out.  If any of you know how, please let me know!

The Hardest thing…ME

Losing Jonathan was not the hardest thing I have ever experienced.  Just being a mom and raising my three boys has been the hardest thing I have ever experienced.  Not everday is hard, but there are moments.  Moments when I am just too tired, moments when I don’t think I have any more to give.  Moments when all the sin that is in my heart vomits up onto a 4 year old.  I never knew I had an anger problem.  I never knew I was impatient.  I knew I needed a Savior, but I never really thought I was that big of a “sinner.”  Until kids.  I mean honestly, what kind of person yells at a kids.  Shouldn’t I, as the adult, be able to control myself. Okay, now I am feeling a little exposed to admit that I yell at my kids, but it’s true. 

I have these ideas of the kind of mom that I want to be, of how I want my family to look, but daily I find myself coming up short.  Of course there are little victories here and there.  But wow.  I think seeing my sin, my ability to get so frustrated so easily, has helped me to understand the gospel so much more.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am sinful, and that I need a Savior to cover my sin and set me free from death. 

I need to live in communion with Him daily.  I need to die to myself daily.  One website that has helped me in my growth toward holiness so much is www.revived-christian-woman.com  It has brought me to my knees before God.  I want to change. Also www.aholyexperience.com has been super inspiring.

Okay, now I am worrying that everyone is going to think I am a terrible, verbally-abusive parent.   I am not, but if you know me, you know that already.  I am just a mom, learning to live and love beyond myself.  Here are three verses that are helping me transition from anger to patience. 

“My dear brothers, take note of this, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20 Man’s angers does not bring about the righteous life that God desires– Wow, my anger does not make my children righteous!  Only steady correction and strong love can do that.

Later on in the same chapter it says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.  If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he decieves himself and his religion is worthless.”

Wow, that verse hurts a little doesn’t it.  It has so much.  I have no excuse.  I know the word says to be slow to speak and slow to become angry.  I know that it says to keep a tight reign on my tongue.  But I look into the Word, walk away and when the boys fight over legos for the hundreth time that day, I forget and snap.   I have been mediating on this verse all week.  It is amazing how the Holy Spirit has brought it to my mind when I want to yell.  It is also amazing that I can correct my children without getting angry.  I can give consequences without showing disappointment.  Our perfect law gives FREEDOM.  It is amazing.

This verse is helpful to everyone in our family.

“In your anger, do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your heart and be silent.” Psalm 4:4  When someone in our house is dealing with anger.  They need to go sit on their beds in silence and search their hearts.  They can come out on their own time schedule when their hearts have changed (me included).  When I start to show frustration, my boys even say to me, “Mom do you need to sit on your bed and ponder?”

There are so many verses “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Proverbs 29:11

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8. I want to be like my Lord.  I want to transform into his likeness.

Now, just a few pictures of my wonderful boys for your enjoyment !

I am not capable

As I think about our upcoming move to Guatemala, I feel so inadequate, in so many ways.  I feel like I have very little to offer.  I feel incapable of molding the three little hearts in my home, much less boys from troubled homes. I feel overwhelmed at the idea of getting our house ready to sell, keeping it clean while we show it, continuing home education, selling our cars, having a garage sale, packing our remaining worldly belonging, shipping our things back (again) to Guatemala, finding a place to live there, finding a new car, and the list goes on.

So, in order to stop feeling overwhelmed, I try to control.  I make lists, make plans, declutter my house, worry, stress…you get the idea.  I feel like I am on a road to disaster and I have to do something or all chaos will break loose.  And I am mean to those around me. 

Let me give you an example.  I have spent the last week, every evening and naptime painting my house–compulsively.  I fret about what color and if future buyers will like this or that.  My boys get around me and I shoo them away, because if I don’t get this done, no one will buy our house and if we can’t sell our house and then we won’t move to Guatemala.  It is all up to me…or so I think.  Now, I don’t REALLY think that, but I feel it.  It is always at the back of my mind.  I have started packing my house, and we haven’t even started support raising!  It is ridiculous. 

So, back to my story.  Two days ago, my dishwasher broke, just the hinge.  It still works perfectly, but it slams down when you try to open it.  It is a European brand because our countertops are a little shorter than average (just over an inch).  I called around to find parts and there are none.  I was so angry.  I fummed all day long about having to buy a new dishwasher just because of a broken hinge and just so we can sell our house.  Then,  I started researching dishwashers trying to find the best deal.  Because of that one inch, we have to buy either European (aka $$$$$) or ADA compliant (aka $$$$).  We don’t have a lot of extra cash, so I started fretting and going over every possible solution.  Raise our countertops? Break out some tile to lower the floor?  Buy the expensive dishwasher?  Jimmy-rig the hinge? (I know that’s unethical, but I thought about it).  I wasted the entire day, snapping at those around me, just because of a dishwasher.

Finally,  in the quiet moments after the kids went to bed, I thought, “What am I doing?”  Isn’t God our provider?  Isn’t God the one nudging us to Guatemala?  Isn’t he in control? 

I am not capable of anything.  So, for the first time, I bowed my pride and confessed.  I told God all my worries.  I chose to REST in Him.  And, guess what I heard on the radio moments later.  Just for KXOJ (local Christian radio station) listeners, there will be an appliance sale this Sunday at Hahn appliances.  I don’t know if they will have what I need, but even if I don’t get a new dishwasher it helped me to remember that God alone is capable and my provider.

A bumped bruise…

My mind has not been on Jonathan lately.  I don’t know how I feel about that. I have been focused on other major events going on in our family.  But tonight I noticed how my heart has a little bruise that won’t ever heal.  Have you ever found a bruise on yourself that you didn’t know was there. You only realize it is there when it gets bumped.  Well, tonight I discovered that bump. 

My husband and I are taking a Perspectives course, an intensive study on the world Christian movement.  The subject is nothing new to me.  I studied “International Ministries” at Moody Bible Institute, but the difference this time around is that I have actually lived it.  We were missionaries in Guatemala for around 5  years, five incredible years of love, learning, and challenges.  The other major difference is that now I have a family. 

Tonight we talked about why people run toward missions and why people run away from missions.  Though the speaker was very gracious and not at all condemning, I felt that the “run away” list was not really validated.  There is a real risk in living out the Christian life.  In faith, in trust of our GOOD and loving God, we take chances that may look foolish to those around us.  We help the homeless, when most would lock their doors.  We take in the orphan, when most would close their eyes.  And sometimes, we get burned. It is not always safe.  But God does not really promise safety.  He promises to be near.

Now, that is all nice in theory, but when we were in Guatemala, we were robbed at gunpoint  on three separate occasions.  A man held a gun to my 1 1/2 year old’s head because I hesitated to give up my wedding ring.  That is not easy to “run to.”  After that moment, an enormous fear took root in my heart, a fear of losing a child.  In the end, for many different reasons, we left Guatemala.  In the four years that we have been back in the United States, we have lost two children to miscarriage and fetal death.  My worst fear realized, and I survived.  No, it is not the same as losing a living child, yet it is a loss.

Now we feel drawn back, compelled to return to missions.  But we have a choice.  We have lots of reasons to “run away.”  One of which is the safety of our family.  But, are we called to self-preservation or are we called to a higher purpose?  These questions battle in my mind.  Honestly, the thought of losing one of my boys is paralyzing. 

So, as I listened to the speaker tonight, the fear rose again and I found myself fighting back tears.  I feel like I need to embrace the risks, make my heart be at peace with pain, but all I want to do is run.  I guess I feel like the risks weren’t highlighted tonight.   Pain is common to man.  We all suffer, but I don’t want to go looking for it.  Reality hits and I want to run. 

Then, during a 15 minute break, I was introduced to a dear woman who came to the course.  Her son was killed 2 years ago, just 6 weeks after he moved to India as a missionary.  When I heard that, I wanted to run to the bathroom and cry.  I wanted to weep.  I fought back the tears for the remainder of the lesson.  My bruise was bumped. 

Yet, the fact remains.  Our life is a vapor.  God is near.  God is good.  The world needs to hear of God’s love, redemption, and our freedom in Christ.  I am not my own.  I was bought for a price.  I have been forgiven much, and I love much.  I am free, and I have a choice.  I want to share that forgiveness and freedom with the world.  God is not calling me to suffering, he wants to bless me so that I can be a blessing to others.  But on this journey, in addition to blessing, joy, and freedom, I will encounter pain.  It is common to man.  But God is near.

You Carry It With You…

When our first son was only 10 months old, we went to Minnesota to visit my husband’s grandmother.  She is over ninety now, so she must have been in her late eighties then.  Though tiny and soft-spoken, this woman is the epitomy of strength to me.  She raised 8 children with little money while living in a parsonage at the country church her husband pastored.  She had 6 sons.  6 BOYS people…the woman deserves a metal! 

Anyway, as we walked around her tidy overly warm apartment, admiring the doolies and trinkets all around, I noticed a portrait of an adorable toddler on the wall.  He looked so similar to my son, that I commented, “Who’s this?” She replied, “That’s my son that we lost when he was two and a half.  He got a fever and never recovered.”  Immediately, the knot rose in my throat and I felt sick.  As a new mother, I could never imagine losing a child.  In fact, I feared it so much that I couldn’t even speak the thought aloud. 

She went on to explain that they buried him behind the church near their house.  She shared that it took months for her to be able to hang her laundry out on the line because she could see his tombstone from her yard.  When she finished, I looked from my glistening eyes to hers.  Over sixty years had passed and she still carries him with her.  

Loss is not something we get over.  It makes a place in our heart.  My husband’s grandmother carries on.  She raised her children through thick and thin.  She laughed, she cried, she worked, she rested, but all the time, even now, she carries the loss of her precious son with her.  A wise friend that has experienced loss beyond measure once told me…It doesn’t go away, it just makes a little private place in your heart.