Putting His Interests Before Mine

Last year a friend of mine, Melissa at QuietGraces Photography, asked me to write for her     series “Construction School for Wivesand this is what God laid on my heart for that month of July.


This month I’m going to be working on putting Adam’s interests before mine. There are so many areas that I thought I was doing this in, but realize that I’m not. So, for the next few weeks I’ll be chronicling this in a journal style. Here goes.

 

12 July 2013, Wednesday

Adam got up before I did and I was grumpy that he didn’t let me shower first. This meant that I came out later and that the kids were up – translating to, ‘no  quiet time’. But God caused me to think. Maybe he needed to get to work early  today, and wouldn’t I have been selfish to cause him to be late just because I wanted my time.

 

13 June 2013, Thursday

I received an e-mail from Starbucks today for 50% off an espresso beverage. There, larger than life, was a white chocolate mocha – my all time favorite drink. The first thought that came to mind was  “I know what I’m getting this week!”. But then I stopped because Adam loves toffee nut lattes. So, as much as it pained me, (I admit it, I AM SELFISH) I forwarded him the e-mail so that he could enjoy the treat.

Phil 2:3

                   … In humility count others more significant than yourselves.

 

17 June 2013, Monday

I got up before Adam and was able to get to my quiet time today. But in order to  love him and put his interests first, I put the coffee on before I sat down to read and write. This sounds so simple, but the desire for my wants is strong. I admit I glanced at my journal longingly a couple of times.DSCN09512.jpg

 

18 June 2012, Tuesday

Today my mentor brought by a dozen doughnuts- 3 of which had chocolate frosting. I split two for the kids and left the others in the box. Let me mention two things  – I’m undisciplined and I love chocolate. My husband also likes chocolate. I ate the last chocolate frosted doughnut. I gave in to selfishness. It won out and I gave into sin over a chocolate doughnut. When I put it that way, I want to hang my head in shame. Because isn’t that what sin is, sweet at first, but then leaves a horribly bitter taste on your tongue and a heavy ache in your stomach?

 

21 June 2013, Friday

Today is Friday! Tonight I actually got the dishes done before the kids went down for the night – an amazing feat all in itself. So, I sat down with Adam after some quiet time to watch something. Hadn’t quite planned on what he picked – clips from different late night shows. I admit, they were funny, but not on my top 10 things to watch (come on, what is really wrong with Downton Abbey?)

But, I had to stop and think. Maybe watching Jimmy Fallon’s ” Hashtags”  is relaxing to him. Maybe he needs the levity. So, I didn’t say anything. By God’s grace, I put my silly selfishness aside and sat with my husband and enjoyed the Roots rendition of Simon and Garfunkel.

 

2 July 2013, Tuesday

For weeks now the desire of my heart has been to go to a business conference at the end of this month. I’ve prayed a lot about it, repeatedly laying the decision in God’s hands. My husband and I talked extensively about it because it would mean his involvement on a large scale. In the end he didn’t want me to go. And though I was disappointed, I agreed.

His interests were more important in that moment. I wasn’t thinking about him in my desire to go. Just my wants.

But the surrender wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. God’s grace is sufficient, isn’t it?

And this morning, after the alarm went off, my husband took me in his arms and whispered to me that there was no one else he’d rather wake up with, that I was his favorite person.

The tension that this desire was creating between us was gone. God had restored unity.


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I won’t pretend that this month was easy or that I have this lesson of putting my husband before myself figured out. But I do know that God has done a work in me that has spilled over into my relationship with others. The extent of our selfishness is great, but God’s grace is greater.

He has promised us that we can do all things through Him and that even means that you and I can put our Husband’s wants and desires before our own.

 

 

Everyday Moments of Glory

I know a girl who is in the throes of wedding planning. She’s tall, thin, and beautiful. Pretty much my opposite. And, Lately I’ve found myself looking at the pictures she’s been posting on FB, longing for those days when I was 10+ years younger and planning a wedding. I remember being tireless, and wide-eyed with what was to come. Now, 4 children under seven and 13 years later, I feel more tired than not, and you’ll often catch me dreaming of sleep, rather than dreaming of love.

I was cleaning the kitchen this afternoon and reflecting on life. I got to wondering, am I living vicariously through her life in those moments because I’m not seeing the glory in the everyday moments of the present?

This morning I stopped and took a snapshot. My son was sitting (once again) on the table against the wall. Instead of scolding him, I stopped, grabbed the camera and caught the moment. The moment of my pausing to think, “That’s my son”.

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So, I will be happy for that young girl who is enthusiastically planning her wedding. But I think that I will camp out in the here and now, looking for and reveling in those everyday moments of glory.

 

When your Past collides with your Present

Thursday night my past and my present collided and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.

As I stood next to my husband in conversation with others, I almost lost it. Hysterical laughter was pushing its way out and I had to do everything in my power to push it back.

Le me set the stage. Adam and I had been on our 13th Anniversary ‘stay-cation’ and decided to end our evening at a craft-beer establishment. We weren’t sure what we’d find – a coffee-shop like atmosphere or a seedy bar. We walked through the door and to my pleasant surprise there were picnic tables, board games, and shuffle board. None of which screamed ‘Run for the Hills!’.

We looked to our right, and who should we see but our very own Pastor of Community Connection and a local church planter. As we shook hands and introductions were made, my mind was reeling. Our pastor even introduced us to one of the employees and said that he’d visited our church the prior Sunday.

Lord, how do I reconcile all this?

First, how do I reconcile a pastor being in a craft-beer joint? Which leads me to the second question,  is it okay for us to be there?

But if it’s not okay for him, why is it okay for us?

And now you’ve peeked at the paradox that my brain has been stuck in and it isn’t very pretty.

Now I’m wondering if this is what the Pharisees sounded like when they bad-mouthed Jesus for associating with tax collectors and sinners.

Whose side would I have been standing on?

My mind goes back to the employee that our pastor introduced us to. Who would have invited him to church if he hadn’t gone there?

Now, I’m not saying we should all run down to the nearest dance club or pick-up bar to witness. I’m not even saying that we shouldn’t.  We need to use discernment as to where we go. But for all practical purposes, we couldn’t find anything wrong with that establishment.

What I am saying is, my husband and I would never have met Matt had we not gone there and been introduced to him by our Pastor.

I’m 35, been raised in church, and am still such a novice when it comes to reaching the lost.

Reaching the lost isn’t about supporting missionaries, going ‘door-knocking’ or having a bus ministry.

Slowly, God is teaching me that it’s about loving those around you and sharing the Gospel on a daily basis wherever you are.

Striving for Rest

 

recovering fundamentalist

The last few days have left me raw. God is stripping back layers of incorrect of thinking and is enabling me to finally put into words this uphill struggle. I’ve been striving for rest.

A friend has spurred me on to write more about this and then this morning the sermon on Christ’s Rest that Peter preached, added to this line of thought.

I hesitate to even write the words, to admit this to you. But here it is. I don’t understand the Gospel and I don’t know if I will without the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel was presented to me in such a skewed way, to those of us that grew up in Fundamental circles. This sounds like I’m making a broad assumption but we attended 4 different Fundamental Baptist Churches due to moves and they all taught the same thing.

Here’s some background.

Witnessing was in important part of our life. Some people called it “door-knocking”. Basically you went door-to-door passing out informational pamphlets and asking folks if “you died today, do you know where you would spend eternity? If they answered ‘no’, we proceeded to ask them if they wanted to go to heaven (well, sure, duh, who wouldn’t?) Then we told them how – just pray this prayer, God will forgive your sins, and you’ll get your ticket to heaven.

We did talk about sin and how we all have it. But the emphasis was more about what we wanted rather than what God wanted ( a ticket to heaven vs. a restoration of fellowship and a child who glorified His name) .

The Gospel was presented falsely. It was presented in a way that appealed to my greed and pride. Yes, my sin was pointed out, but it was such a minor player in the whole presentation.

The emphasis of ‘come as you are – there’s no need to change’ was at the fore-front. But that changed once you got saved and started attending church.

Just picture a line of men and one for women. They’re headed into church thinking they’re accepted by the ‘church people’ but upon getting to the door something happens. They’re handed the essentials – a Bible, jumper or suit and tie, and a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’. Both are welcomed in now that they’ve changed.

We were naive.

We thought the one’s who lead us to Christ were representative of what Christ said and did. We had to meet their expectations for what a ‘good’ Christian was.

Therefore we were meeting the expectations of Christ.

Along with the meeting of expectations came the measure of spirituality. This lead to pride. If you went ‘witnessing’, attended every service, didn’t go to movies, listened to the right music, wore the right clothes, etc., you were a ‘good Christian’ and had the right to judge those who didn’t go those things.

It was always about performance. If I pleased the others then surely I was pleasing God. And, when I fell from their graces, I, in turn, fell from God’s.

This is not the Gospel!

This is not rest – this is striving. Always striving.

And if I’m constantly striving – viewing my works as the measure of my spirituality, viewing my works as the measure of my stance before Christ – I am not entering into His rest but am going back to the Law and am living in bondage.

The Cross and Bondage cannot dwell together. Because if I’m living in the bondage of works, then I’m saying that the work that He did on the Cross wasn’t enough.

That is living a lie.

Hebrews 4 lays it out there for us in verses 9-10:

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

Let that sink in – We enter into His rest and in turn rest from our works. We rest from our works.

21 versions of the same verse say the same thing.

When I think of entering into Christ’s rest, I picture myself standing on the outside waiting to be asked into the Hall labeled “Christ’s Rest”, not realizing that I’ve been holding an invitation in my hand the whole time.

How did I miss this? I’ve read Hebrews many times and not once has this stood out to me. But now the Holy Spirit is slowly showing me this beautiful truth. He’s guiding my eyes to the invitation in my hand that says I can now enter into His rest.

your're invited

The striving is over.

 

 

I’m turning 35 and giving you the gifts! A Sak Saum Giveaway!

Turning 30 is big. Really BIG. It can be scary because you’re saying goodbye to your twenties. You have to officially grow up.

For my 30th birthday, 5 years ago, I decided to look forward and to not mourn my twenties. My 3rd decade was going to be my best yet. It was going to be the decade that I found out who I really was and who God made me to be. So I decided to start it off with a piercing and another baby.

5 years in and the decade is half over. I’m turning 35 and there are no regrets. God  has used these last several years to reveal the passions and talents He’s instilled in me.

One of these passions is helping those who have been enslaved in various forms and fashions. In the past year I’ve found out about a ministry whose mission is the restoration and rehabilitation of exploited men and women.

I’m pleased to introduce to you, Sak Saum. They are in Phnom Penh and the Saang district of Cambodia. Everyday they help the men and women of their community build a new life. Through their Vocational Training Center they’re offering job opportunities and fair trade wages – things we often take for granted.

 

If you haven’t visited the Sak Saum website yet, don’t wait any longer. You’ll get to ‘meet’ the men and women who make up Sak Saum, and I hope that your heart will be touched as much as mine has. You’ll also get to see their beautiful line of bags and purses. I love their products!  As well as some amazing accessories (infinity scarves and hammered jewelry) and even some baby items.

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Will you join me in the fight against human trafficking by supporting Sak Saum?

We can volunteer, raise support, and most importantly – pray. This is Kingdom work and we get to be a part of it!

And for my birthday, I’ve decided to give you all a little something – a couple of little somethings from Sak Saum.

First is the New York Tote Scarf and the second is the For Freedom Bracelet. Just enter the giveaway to win.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lust – Not Just a Man’s Problem

The other day while I was sweeping (I have a compulsive sweeping disorder), my mind wandered to the amount of television I used to watch compared to now. The shows have been whittled down to 2 mainly because of the time available. But as I cataloged the names I settled on one in particular and immediately thought of one of the attractive male characters. Time wasn’t  a factor where this show was concerned. The issue was that I was watching for him and raising an eyebrow when he was shirtless. When I realized what was happening and the ‘why’ behind viewing that program – I knew it had to go.

Lust

 So many times we talk about men and their lustful bent. But I don’t recall ever hearing us women admonished about what we put in front of our eyes.

 It isn’t wrong to appreciate the male form. There are many of us who have husbands who would LOVE it if we told them how much we appreciated their form. The trouble comes, the sin comes, when we start to admire and lust after those men who aren’t our own.

 I know that this is a difficult topic. In the church environment that I grew up in “a good Christian lady” didn’t have those types of thoughts.

But we live in a culture that encourages us to turn every person we meet into a means of self-gratification and we have to stand firm.

God had called us from a life of sin to a life of true holiness. He gives us the strength to turn from our lust and live a life of righteousness.

This is a subject that has been on my heart for a long time because, I am ashamed to admit, has been a struggle since my teenage years. But I write this to encourage you. We all struggle with something. Something that rears its ugly head just when we think we’ve gotten it beat and whispers that we’ve failed again. We will fail, but because of God’s amazing grace, He sees Christ’s righteousness and not our sin.

Don’t give up sisters.

What if’s and God-Sized Dreams

 What if God-sized dreams aren’t big at all?

What if these ‘big’ dreams don’t include going to Cambodia?

What if my God-sized dream isn’t really about me?

What if this dream is one God has for me instead of me having it for me?

What if this Dream is simply to love my neighbor?

And, what if, that dream ends up being a loaf of bread to the woman down the street              who’s lost her job?

Maybe, before we can get a hold of our dreams, we have to get a hold of the Dream that God has for us.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is(1)

 

What I want for Mother’s Day…

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are both approaching quickly which means thoughts of gifts for respective parents and spouses. This afternoon Mr. C wanted me to take a picture of him and his siblings out by the tree in the backyard. We had done this last year for Father’s Day and plan to do it again this year. After the picture was taken Miss E wanted me to do handprints again as well – another part of last year’s Father’s Day gift. Paint is not part of the plan for this afternoon, so the answer was ‘no’. My seven year old asked me what we would do then for Mother’s Day and what I wanted. That got me to thinking, because I don’t really know. But the more I thought the more I realize that I want two very different days.DSCN09512.jpg

The first day would be spent in solitude, whiling away the time at a coffee shop and then a hike in the woods. Perhaps a movie, or a bath. Oh, and planning would be thrown into there too ;). All of this would be done with quiet as my Friend.

NEW YEAR(1)

 

My other day would look like this: I would spend the day with those who, by God’s willing, have made me a Mother. We would go to the park, perhaps ride bikes along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Eat ice cream. Read books. Run through a sprinkler. The whole time spent in wonder of the fact that God made me a Mother to these 4 precious little people, who, are currently outside playing very quietly. That means I need to go investigate!

What would your perfect Mother’s Day look like?

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day and enjoy your kids through the quiet and the chaos.

Removing the Chick-fil-A bumper sticker

It might be time to remove the Chick-fil-A bumper sticker from the back of our van.

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You see, a friend and I were talking yesterday about last year’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day and the boycott that occurred as a result. She was saying that it was more than just about freedom of speech – it was really about people. People like her sister and mine.

That sticker has been on the back of our van for, I don’t know how long, way before the whole debacle to be sure. And, removing it wouldn’t mean that we wouldn’t eat there again. It just means that we won’t inadvertently hurt someone. We won’t be getting out of the car at Target or Trader Joes, smile at someone, only to have them glace at the back of our car and wonder if we hate them. The love of Christ isn’t that.

I started thinking about my sister. I wondered if she ever came to visit us what she would think if she saw it.

Would she think that ‘we ♥ chick-fil-a’ meant that we like their food, or that we hate her?

I LOVE MY SISTER. I want her to see that she has value and that her value comes straight from the God who made her. I want her to feel His presence and know that her soul has been redeemed. But all the words that would be said, could be nullified in one moment by what she thought a few other words meant.

 

Hospitality – No longer a four-letter word

Last week I wrote about the fear of hospitality - the fear of opening up my home.

But it happened – (in)RL took place among the peeling paint and holes in the ceiling. And, you know what? It was GOOD. Community and hospitality, they were good.

Nine ladies gathered together for food and relationship building. We connected over the stories of women brave enough to share their hearts wth us. We talked about food, kids, gardening, and raising chickens in our backyards. We decorated journals to record those future stories that God will give us – those stories He’ll use to reveal His working in us.

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I was afraid. Afraid of judgment, remarks falling flat, and the feeling of not enough. But none of that came.

This year I turn 35. And only in the last 5 years have I truly had community. I’m finally understanding that I’m not the only one who wants and needs a safe place to tell their story. We all want a haven of friendship. We all need a place, a friend, that will love us through the ugly times.

Community, and even more, hospitality isn’t so scary now. The desire for connecting and the fear of ‘not enough’ will always be in conflict. But, God gives the strength to fight the fear so we can be that safe haven of friendship that He intends us to be for each other.

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