All In

Have you found it?

That thing that you’re looking for.

Are you inching any closer to grabbing a hold of it?

I don’t know about you, but my soul has been longing for more lately. Anyone else?

Maybe it’s this new season of parenthood that’s upon me or the new life stages; It could simply be that for the first time in a long time, I have the time and space and desire to examine those things that my soul has been lacking.  I’m not really sure.

But, this I know. While my days may indeed be filled with the mundane, that does not mean that life, itself, is mundane.  Oh, no!

In Lysa TerKeurst’s book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”, she states that,  “A holy God in the middle of life’s mundane activities will change your life.” 

Whether you’ve just started walking with God, or have been walking with Him for decades, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you know pretty stinkin’ well that life with Him is anything but mundane. Amen?

Blessed? Sometimes. Adventurous?  If we’re so blessed. Peaceful? That depends on whether we’ve got our eyes set on external peace or internal.

But life with God is never mundane.

Even in the mundane.

In fact, I wonder what my God thinks of all this soul hunger I’ve suddenly developed; this deep desire that I finally have to be radically obedient to whatever He has for me.

Whether what He has for me is located in the bunk beds down the hall, or in the marriage that takes constant tending and dying to self, I pray that my heart cries “Yes!”. It may be that God has a mission for me in the halls of my children’s school, or in a place that is more than I can ask or imagine. Or maybe, it’s simply in a place that beats wildly right underneath my very skin and bones. . I still pray that I am able to cry “Yes!” with everything I’ve got.

All_In_Deut_6_5_Missindeedy

Whatever God says to do, I realize now, I must do! And He is waiting for me to surrender it all – heart, soul, and strength to Him to make of it all what He will.

For His glory.

That excites me.

My soul finally longs to be all in.

And that’s exactly where you’ll find me, my friends.

In the midst of figuring out how I can say YES to God.

Wanna join me?

I’m participating in a weekly blog hop over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  If you’d like to read how other hearts are responding to the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst, click the button below! If you’d like to join over 22,000 women from 120 countries in this Online Bible Study, click here.

OBSBlogHop

 

God Is Bigger

Today, I ended an eight year love affair.

With 65 women.

I’ve had the privilege of leading these women in Bible study, every Thursday morning, for four of these last eight years.

And today, we closed that chapter of my life, together, amidst much hooting and howling, coffee and Quiche, tears and hugs.

As Sweetman and I prepare to move our family on to a church that is closer to where we live, I’ve been focused on closing out my time with these women.

These are truly my peeps. They are the girls who, from 25 to 85, totally get me. And love me anyway.  They not only love on me, but on each other, and on their community.  We dig into God’s Word like starving children, each week, and pray with a love so fierce that it can bring us to tears.  We also drink coffee (or tea).  A lot.  And laugh… even more!

They made me wear this this morning, for crying out loud:

WOW_Shirt_2013

Y’all, it was H.A.R.D. to give a heartfelt goodbye talk in this!

It could have been an incredibly stressful week, but it wasn’t.

I’ve been focusing on the fact that God is bigger. He is bigger than a sad goodbye or a new Hello.  He’s bigger than any unsteady emotions or uncertain futures.  He’s bigger than a depression that threatens to creep in and steal joy.

God. Is. Bigger.

And I am resting in that today.

Yes, indeedy.

Mirror Mirror, Oh How Timely

You may remember that I was supposed to be en route to Arkansas for the wedding of my Sweet Cousin this coming week.  However, in an uncharacteristically spontaneous decision, Sweetman and I decided to spend this school vacation time with our children, who were not going to be attending the wedding with us.  They are young.  This time is precious.  And so, we will be venturing back toward a place that brings each one of us tremendous joy.

When I first broke the news, to The Nana and Captain Ahab, that we wouldn’t be joining them on this Arkansas Adventure after all, they were understandably upset.  And disappointed.  I detest disappointing anyone.  It causes me great stress.

I’d venture to say that I’m not alone in this.  Amen?

I recently began my next Online Bible Study, with Melissa Taylor and the ladies over at Proverbs 31 Ministries. (Don’t worry, you aren’t imagining it.  There was absolutely no segue there.) The study, this time around, is based on the book “Stressed Less Living” by Tracie Miles.

Ironic, no?

No.  God’s work in us is always timely.

In this week’s chapter, the effects of stress and where stress originates, were being discussed.  We were encouraged to take some time to step back and take a good hard look at how stress affects our lives and how it can motivate us to make changes.

I so wish we could sit down over a cup of good strong coffee, or tea, and talk through exactly where the majority of your stress comes from and brainstorm ways to eradicate it from your life.  I also wish y’all could just magically appear, right here in my living room, and do the same for me.

One particular question that we were challenged to consider, struck a chord with me. What do you see in your life that needs the biggest change?

No small question, that one.

I look in the mirror and here is what I see: a body that is beginning to make changes, for the better, for the first time in a long time. Over that?  I have control. Oh, yes indeedy!

But, as I began to take stock of the other situations, people, and circumstances that bring stress into my life, two very clear thoughts began to emerge.

1) The rest of the stressors in my life are almost entirely beyond my control.

The passing of Sweetdog last July.  A new preschool schedule that collided with my Bible study Leadership position at church.  Our son’s unique challenges and the new changes to his initial diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum. I was, and am, at best, able to manage these things.

At worst, I’ve eaten my sorrow over these things, let my anger ooze out onto my family because of them, or checked out emotionally as I realized my helplessness in them.

Realizing that I can’t control these things?  Acknowledging it by writing it down?  That was eye-opening!

2) Every time, and I mean Every Single Time, that I call out to God for him to just… HELP ME, please!… He does.

Does God instantly remove any stress that is in my life because I ask Him too?  No.  He’s not a cosmic vending machine.  This God, my God, is a God who sometimes lets the stress of a situation break me until I come to Him, completely depleted, and in desperate need of His Holy intervention.

But, sometimes, He answers me instantly.

And, always, His answer is timely.

Psalm107_19_Missindeedy

It surely is.  And always will be.

The mirror wasn’t as harsh as it has been toward me in the past.  Instead, this time, I saw many a mighty burden being lifted right up off of my weary shoulders.

I saw myself being rescued from the stress that so often encumbers.  And, right in the nick of time.

With That Red (Or, Read)

Let. It. Go., by Karen Ehman, has officially Now. Been. Read.   And, in case you missed it, I’ve kind of talked it up a storm.  Because, y’all!  I have some serious control issues.  Can I get an Amen?  (Not needed from The Nana, thank-you-very-much. Not that I’m trying to control what you’re saying or not saying. Just saying…)

As part of the final Blog Hop over at Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study page, I’m coming to you live, from my couch, to tell you one surprising thing that I am taking away from this study.  And it was a doozy of a lesson, if ever there was one.  You see, I’ve been all about being controlling as a wife, as a mama, as a reformed Plotter & Planner.  But, I knew that.  That was not up for debate.

What was?

Trust.

Letin_It_Go_Finale

Well, that was unexpected.

Karen Ehman makes a point at the end of the 3rd chapter that rocked my socks!

“We begin taking our cues from him (God) rather than listening to deceit and becoming convinced that we know better… Then we, for the first time perhaps, walk by faith, not by sight. Nor by strategy. Nor by plotting and positioning.”

Oh. My. Stars.

And later, in chapter 8, she writes,

“I responded by doing what I could… and trusting God with the outcome.

This is hard for me.  Sometimes, I’ve learned, I take control because I’m scared.  I’m scared that the outcome won’t be a desired one.  Or, that if I don’t dictate circumstances now, then the outcome I do desire won’t ever come to pass.  And that is okay!

And that’s what I’m slowly coming to learn.  I’m coming to see why this verse spoke so powerfully right into my soul:

“But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
 My times are in your hands
.”

Psalm 31:14-15

I am learning to trust God for The Outcome.  I’m learning to do what I can, and that involves some planning, yes. But, it also means that after I’ve done some planning, it’s time to Let. It. Go.    How many times have I told some of you, right here, that God’s got this?  He’s got you?

He is a patient God.  For He bears my turtle-like crawl toward realization.  He is a loving God.  For He patiently waits as I begin to put my hope in Him and not in my own plans.

I’ve certainly been held close to The Refiner’s fire during this study.  No one likes discipline at the time, and I am no exception. But, I am thankful.  Yes, indeedy.  And I know there is much practicing that needs to be done.  I’m ready to Let. It. Go.

Anyone want to pray for me?

15

If you have a few minutes and would like to read what some of the other women who’ve participated in this study had to say about it, click here.  There are plenty of other fantastic insights to read on this blog hop page.

Who Will Prevail (I Predict Not Me)

Today is Thursday.  Surprise!  It comes every week, yes.  But this Thursday is Valentine’s Day Thursday.  And I had intended to be at Bible Study this morning with My Sweet Bible Study girls.  The ones who get me and know my heart.  They encourage me to hang in there when things are tough and praise the tar out of the Almighty God when things are grand.  I had Valentine’s card-ettes all made out for every one of them with a sweet verse for each.  One of these gals, gifted by God with such baking skills as  you would wish to be the sponge that gets to wash off her baking utensils, was going to be bringing a special treat. Another, leading us with her fresh perspective and gentle encouragement. Yet another, bringing sweet Valentine’s crafted with such love that you could practically feel her heart beating within it as you held it in your hands.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 19:21

But instead?  Instead, I’m sitting on the couch snuggled up next to a snot-nosed, very literally, mini-me.  She uses my sleeve as her human Kleenex.  She keeps moaning that “my nose doesn’t feel good mama.”. And yet, she begs to go to preschool so she can hand out all 14 of her Valentine’s Day cards. Cards that she laboriously, over the course of 4 days, signed her name to. And every so often, she’ll ask for a  slobber-mixed-with-snot, germ-delivering, cold-laden, kiss.

What I want to be doing and what I planned to be doing was not to be.  Sigh…

So, I hop onto Facebook to see what others are up to on this fine Valentine’s Day. And I see this:

Love is

And my half-pint Valentine perks up and says, “Oooh, Mama, the words are so pretty!”

Oh, little one, they are.  They are pretty to look at, they are pretty when they are in action, and they are pretty, especially when strung up as a mantra inside the walls of your heart.

So, I read them out loud to her.  And to myself.  And I return her slobbery kiss with one of my own.

And I am reminded that God’s plans are always best.

Even when they’re laden with germs.

Yes indeedy!

Let’s Play a Game

It’s called, “Get a Clue”. Why are we playing? Well, it’s been A Day.  You know, one of those Extraordinary Days where you aren’t sure what exactly happened in the last 24 hours? You are, however, painfully aware that you are sitting on the tail end of that time frame with a headache the size of Montana and a patience wire all sorts of fritzed out.  Let’s play.

 

It all started with a visit from long distance best friends and their children last night.  We were in full-on entertaining mode and the children were in full-on We Are So Gonna Be A Mess Tomorrow mode.  I should have known.  Clue #1.  My sinuses had been acting up all day. It was darn near difficult to breathe and downright impossible to enjoy a glass of wine. Clue #2.

 

This morning, we were almost late to the bus.  We weren’t, mind you.  But when a child insists on riding the bus and only the bus,  almost is near catastrophe. Upon arriving at the bus stop, we realized that “we” left our water bottle behind.  Dear John!  Clue #3

 

The thermometer screamed at me. It was official; I had to miss Bible Study.  I detest few things.  I detest having to miss my time with my girls and my Bible every Thursday morning.  Clue #4

 

Sinuses being completely on strike, I thought I’d rustle up some homemade soup around lunchtime.  Or Progresso. Whichever was easiest.  I voted for Progresso. As I was the only one voting, I won! (Best election E.V.E.R.!)  And, I found one solitary can left in the pantry.  I was ecstatic! Until I chanced to look at the bottom of the can and find this:

 

Worrisome.

 

You see, this date was sketchy, even to my standards.  Oh, yes indeedy, I do have standards, people.  But they are slightly higher than this.  And that’s probably because I distinctly remember buying this can of soup about, oh, say… a year ago.  And it worried me a tad that something that can sit on a shelf for a sweet forever might be so very near its expiration date. No?  Clue #5

 

Sweetboy informed me that he is “6% nocturnal. Sometimes, maybe 8%.”  I was not aware. This could be because we had an odd run-in with a bat when he was an infant.  Or, it could just be that he is odd.  We love him all the more because of it. This revelation came after he spent the better part of an hour filled with tantrums  about having “comprehension”.  Which, we English also refer to as “constipation”.  Just to be clear.  Clue #6

 

So, just to sum up, if we take clues one through six and apply systematic Mom Analysis… I believe I won!

 

I should have stayed in bed.  Indeed!