Thursday, October 31, 2013

Steal my joy or my toy?

After a fairly normal week of life with three kids, I was fed up with all the toy clutter! I mean FED UP! I was in tears, angry tears, fed up. I wasn't so much angry at my kids but at the toys. How did they, little inanimate objects, have such power over me? Why did I feel like their servant? Aren't they here to serve ME? Something had to change. I felt like I was paying way too much attention to them than they deserved...constantly picking up toys, buying tubs to organize them, shouting out orders about picking them up or siblings not to fight over them or yelping because I just stepped or stubbed my toe on me. Where was the fun, the joy, in these toys...where was the joy in life?

Thankfully I was able to "run away" from the toy monster and think in one of my favorite places...the shower. I let the water wash away my angry tears as I cried out to God for wisdom. "God, where has my joy gone? It's lost somewhere in this chaotic clutter of toys. I am so distracted from what I love...that which brings me the most joy. Help!" His answer? Craziness! Well, at first it seemed crazy, but the thought that popped into my head was to go through the whole house, gather up ALL the toys and put them away in my storage room and not buy any new ones for an entire YEAR! Then, instead of all the time it took to deal with them, we would focus on spending time together as a family doing crafts, reading books, playing games and all the things we truly loved in life.

At this point I began to get really excited. The anger at the toys began to fade as the excitement of what could be gained began to rise in my heart, if they were not in the way. Joy. This is joy. The simple time spent with a child, with a spouse cuddling and sharing life together. Toys had nothing to do with that. There is nothing wrong with a toy in itself, only if it gets in the way of love. Then, that toy becomes my enemy. It was meant to be a tool...a tool to learn...a tool to laugh....a tool to bring joy. If it's not doing that, then something needs to change. If my toys were becoming more important than people...than God, then they must go. If I have to choose, then I will choose the later.

Is she reading?!? What else do you do without toys? Apparently kids will still be kids, because her room is still messy with clothes, Kleenex's, shoes, decorations and anything else her little imagination can work with! :)

 So, that's what we did! Although, we decided to start with a month and see how that went. I explained to my oldest two (the ones who could maybe understand) that Mommy wanted to be able to do more of the things that brought me joy and less time cleaning up toys. I asked if they would rather have toys or have my time? They chose toys. Just kidding! :) They, thankfully, caught my heart and chose time with me. They caught my excitement apparently because they wanted to start right then, that very night. It was amazing to see how all of our attitudes changed (well, except for Mr. Squawker, my 18 month, who couldn't understand why we were taking all of his toys away :( ) as we unified towards a goal...a goal of making time for what was most important to us.

We are still chipping away at our mountains of toys, deciding what we can do without completely, what we will store and what we can give away. Each child got to choose one toy (or set of toys) to keep out for the month. We are discovering the joy of giving away our toys as well as the peace that comes from a clean home and time together. I'm looking forward to the rest of this month to see how it goes and the impact it has on our family. My prayer is that the God of all wisdom would guide us in our adventure.

The mountain of toys that is now in my laundry room!

So, the moral of the story is...go ahead, steal my TOY, just don't let my toys steal my JOY!

Why are your hearts filled with Doubt?

"Why are you frightened?" he asked. "Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Luke 24:38

This is my memory verse this week through my Proverbs 31 online Bible study. It seems like a simple question, but it really has me thinking. 

The context is when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples inside a room where they were meeting. Okay, so legitimately I too probably would have been a bit frightened as well if a person suddenly appeared in the room with me without opening a door and coming in. However, it was the doubt they had that it was really the Jesus they knew, that has me puzzled. How could they, the ones who had touched and talked with Jesus, the son of God, have any doubt? Especially now that they had seen him raised from the dead?

Jesus patiently begins to help them with their them convincing reasons why they could believe.

"Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. (Luke 24:39-40)

They were a bit emotional and still couldn't quite think clearly, so he decides to seemingly drop the subject and just hang out with them for a bit...

"And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence." (Luke 24:42-43)

Then, as one on a very intentional agenda, he gets right back to their doubt, by reminding them of what he had told them before about Himself and His purpose on earth.

"He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44-45)

BOOM! Incredible. Did you notice that? "Then he opened their minds so they could understand scriptures." Were they filled with doubt because they were human and unless God opens our minds to understand Him and His ways, we just don't get it, EVEN if we, like the disciples, could see him face to face, touch Him and talk to Him? Is doubt a natural part of our sinful DNA? Is the only cure for doubt, a divide revelation and understanding God puts into our hearts? Given by grace alone? Wow. I'm humbled.

What is doubt?


verb \ˈdat\
: to be uncertain about (something) : to believe that (something) may not be true or is unlikely
: to have no confidence in (someone or something)
It's true, I doubt. Just like the disciples, I doubt. Even though I have seen God's love, truth and goodness pouring out in my life over and over, I still doubt. Why? My heart is naturally filled with doubt...especially about something really good. I struggle having confidence in someone if they seem "too good to be true". I doubt their honesty. I figure they might be trying to get something from me. After all, many "good" things in my life didn't turn out to be so good, so I have "reason" to doubt. Why do I put on God, what I put on people though? Do I dare to trust Him? 

The antonym of doubt is trust.


noun \ˈtrəst\ 
: belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.
The cure to my doubt is trust. Trust in God's word (aka scriptures). Lord, please open MY mind so I can understand the Scriptures and not live in fear and doubt any more. Fill me with the power you promised the disciples and is still here with me today, the Holy Spirit, so I can be a witness for you. 

Here are Jesus' ending words to his friends...

"He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49)

Listen to this song if you have time! It's been a constant song on my tongue lately as I choose to trust God and not "worry and fret".

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why BLOG? Why am I, going to blog?

Why does anyone blog? I imagine the reasons are as diverse as people are. I have resisted it for a long time for fear of it wasting my time either because no one would read it or be positively impacted by it...or perhaps worse, I would get caught up in it and neglect my more important responsibilities...that of taking care of my little house on the Prairie and those live in it (NOTE: I live on a road called prairie view drive in Indiana...not exactly a true prairie but kind of close :).

However, the truth is, I already spend hours blogging. It's just not called's called journalism. I write my questions and thoughts about life in my journal every day. Why not instead log by thoughts on the web so others, besides myself can be affected by me processing my life. That, after all, is the definition of blog..."a contraction of the words web log".

So, here we go. I am officially beginning the journey of logging my thoughts on the web for anyone who wishes to get a peek into my daily life!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

One Hundred Miles a Mile at a Time

Last week before going out for a small run, I turned my Nike App on my Iphone as I always do, to keep track of my miles. I happened to notice that it said "100 miles". I stopped while that reality sank into my head and heart. "I'm not a runner" has always been my motto. That is until the beginning of the year when God began challenging me to let Him knock out the "I cant's" in my life. He told me that maybe I can't, but He could and to have faith in Him. 

So, in January 2013 I literally stepped out my door in faith, letting Him coach me day by day, minute by minute. The first time I ever ran an entire mile without stopping was in February. It was so hard but at the same time felt so good. A few months later, in June, he helped me accomplish a dream of mine to run a race with my husband. We finished together without walking at all! I thought I was going to faint, but I finished.
After the race my friends were asking me what my next goal were...a 10K...a half marathon? I didn't know. I only had one goal obey God and follow His coaching. Running was still really hard for me. In the months that have followed, there have been many ups and downs, partially because God's direction has not always been clear and also because  my knees have been bothering me. I've not given it up completely though.  Some weeks I only get a mile or two in, others more, but never more than three at a time and mostly one or two.

Colorful shoes DO help!
I often feel embarrassed by what I do and my lack of progress...especially when my friends and family are training for a marathon! I often feel like I should do more. In that moment though when I saw that 100 milestone, it was if I felt, my God coach, say He was so proud of me because I had continued and hadn't given up even after I had reached my dream. He began to show me the reality that each little choice to choose discipline had added up to be a miracle! It wasn't glamorous but it was real and powerful and pleasing to Him. I never imagined I could run 100 miles, but somehow each choice to get my shoes on and dare to believe I could run, one mile at a time, I did! HE did through me! I may never run a marathon in one day, but I guess I ran a total of four of them already this year. I'm learning the hard lesson, that man applauds speed and distance, but God applauds  perseverance.

The amazing reality is that this is true in every area of my life. I always wish I could do more in serving God, loving my family and reaching out to others, but this reminds me that each little discipline I choose in that direction, will turn into a something big if I DO NOT GIVE UP!!!!  Now what would be cool is if I had a Nike life app so I could see my spiritual and relational mile stones, but I don't. I will just have to keep listening to my coach even if I never get the applause of man or see big results. As long as I make Him proud and finish the race He has set out for me, it's totally worth it.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11