Wednesday, April 30, 2014

i commit my spirit

'Spirit'....

I've been seeing this word everywhere lately without even recognizing it until just today.  I guess God has to put things in front of me over and over sometimes to finally get my attention!!

I've been reading the crucifixion story slowly and with a Bible commentary for a few weeks now.  Very slowly getting through it but trying to soak it all in.  I am going through each of the four gospels and trying to imagine everything in detail.  So I've seen the phrase, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," four times now.  I've also heard a mini Good Friday sermon including this quote.  Yesterday, I randomly opened my Bible to the Psalms and it opened to Psalm 31 where I again read, "Into your hands I commit my spirit'.  You would think that at this point I'd be past thinking, 'Interesting, there it is again....'  You would be wrong.  I read a great article this morning about Satan stealing your inner spirit and it was right on.  I knew that it was meant for me.  But even then, it wasn't until this afternoon that my eyes finally caught a chalkboard in my house of the fruits of the spirit when I FINALLY realized that God has been waiting for me to fully catch on to what he is trying to tell me.

The fruits of the spirit are:

LOVE,  joy, peace,  forbearance, KINDNESS, goodness, FAITHFULNESS, gentleness, and SELF-CONTROL.

I am so guilty of defiling every single one of these descriptions.  Every one.  This week, I have been a bear!  I have bullied my kids.  I have wanted to leave them (just for a couple hours but still, no 'forbearance' whatsoever!).  I have snapped at the slightest annoyances. I have no idea what's going on!  It's not 'that time of the month' and I don't usually get this bad even when it is.  I have glared at my kids.  I have yelled at them to stop asking me so many questions.  I have even treated Jordan unfairly.  I have entertained negative thoughts and have been overly concerned about what people 'think' of me.  Issues I thought I had resolved.  Conflicts that I thought I had put to rest have been coming back full force.  I have cried into my pillow in the middle of the night.  I have had nightmares.  I have been sad. I'm ungrateful for what I've been blessed with.  I'm selfish.  My prayer life has been rotten and the only thing I've been doing right is reading the bible, but even through that, I find my mind drifting away.

Life is going so smoothly over here.  There is nothing but good stress in my life right now.  But I have been feeling lost during the day.  Against my will, I try to play with the kids but there is little enjoyment in it.  This is so not like me, usually.  Bedtimes can be stressful occasionally and thankfully the kids have been going to bed nicely, but even at the end of the day, it took all of my willpower to give them some attention at bedtime.  I don't want to read stories, I don't want to tuck them in, cuddle, pray, whisper stories....

It's so disheartening.

But now I am reflecting: I can control this.  I am better than this.  I am called to motherhood because Jesus believes in me.  And I am called to commit my spirit to God because Jesus is my role model.

I have this ugly, imperfect, human spirit raging inside of me.  Literally, I want to scream, I want to hit, I want to be alone.  I don't want to read the bible, I don't want to pray.  I don't want to study, learn, and work.  I don't want to be convicted.  I don't want to be disciplined.  

But by faith I know that I need YOUR spirit inside of me.  It has never been more obvious to me that I am not bearing the fruits of the spirit. What kind of a witness is that???  There is no proof of you living inside of me when I act in these ways.  And forget the act... it has GOT to be REAL.  I need to commit this ugly, monster of a spirit into your holy hands.  Your hands that have the HOLES from the nails that HUNG you on the CROSS so that I would also choose to commit my spirit to you, in adoration of what you did for me.  What have I done?  It is this spirit of mine that crucified you.  It is this monster that spit at you and mocked you and beat you.  It was me.  It is me.  How can I feel this conviction and not immediately ask for your forgiveness?  How can I keep on like this?  And defile your name that is written on my soul.

I'm so sorry.

Forgive me.

Help me.

I can't do it alone.

Oh Jesus, I so desperately need you.  I am so rotten.  I have been giving the devil a foothold in my life that I hadn't even known acknowledged was there.  There are so many times that I struggle with you, we wrestle, because I don't want to change or work at anything.  It's easier to have things MY way.  It's easier to boss the kids around than to stop and listen.

I will turn this into a learning lesson.  I will talk about it with my kids.  Just like how my mom did and does when she feels she has wronged me.  I will pray over this area in my life.  I will be open and vulnerable, humble and apologetic.

And I will try to do better.  I will try to recognize the monster in me and remember the victory in you.

Father, 
Jesus, 
Holy Spirit,

into Your precious hands, I commit my spirit.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

charlie

What's new with Charlie?!  This little man of mine is growing up!  He's taller, more mature, learning....  I would say he's still his momma's boy but even that is changing :(  But some things are unchanging: Charlie is really great at his 'please' and 'thank yous'.  I'm not sure how or why but he's got these manners down better than the girls!  He's still my little cuddler.  Almost every night he winds up in bed with us!  He always stretches out and remarks about how nice our bed is!  He still loves to have his back scratched and if I start to rub his back, he lifts up his shirt so I can scratch his bare back.  That is exactly what Jordan does every time!  It's so cute that both boys have this same instinct!!  Charlie will sometimes show his affection by telling me to lay by him so he can scratch my back!  Love him!

Charlie adores Emmy.  They definitely have a special connection.  Emmy wants to hug him all the time and Charlie is always watching out for her.  He's always calling her 'honey' and when I catch them standing by each other, Charlie naturally rubs her head or scratches her back.  If Emmy is sad about something and I'm not right there, she goes to Charlie!

Charlie gets along with the Natalie and Ruby really well, too.  They are into playing 'house' together which is too adorable!   They pretend they're Charlie's teacher and he's a pretty good student of theirs for how bossy they can be!  But Charlie is also a great antagonizer!  He's very subtle!  He makes this cute little face with his lips all puckered and then shakes his butt and his shoulders and it sends the girls through the roof.  And I have to try not to laugh.  Sometimes I catch myself being all stern and constantly barking at the kids to stop picking on each other.  But when I stop and watch, it's so funny!  Charlie can do anything when the girls are in a mood and they will get mad at him!  So I can't hardly blame him for doing it!  It's hilarious!

Last year Charlie went through a phase where he didn't want much to do with Jordan.  That has all changed and he wants to be a part of everything that daddy's a part of.  He is such a boy.  They were making a fire in the fire pit the other night and I wish I had had my camera on me.  There they both were, on their haunches, blowing on the fire together.  Neither of them realize how precious they are!

I'm not sure where Charlie picked this up but he will say, "_______ is my life"!  So I'll be shredding cheese and he's smell and sigh and close his eyes and say in his most passionate voice, "Cheese is my life!"  No one else in our family says that.  I'm assuming he got it from a movie.

Charlie has started up with the deep questions like his sisters: "When will we die?"  "When will you go up to Heaven?"  And Jesus is no longer in his heart but in his belly button!  He loves to go to church, too and I can tell he's starting to understand more.

Charlie is notorious around here for his messy hair and the ring around his mouth that I cannot ever seem to get rid of!  And watch out, this boy can dance!  Charlie is the best dancer of the family.  I can see it already that he's got rhythm!  And he sings really well.  He's a little more reserved around people than his sisters but when he's at home, he's singing all the time, dancing, loud and rowdy!  We all love our fun-loving little man!







Tuesday, April 8, 2014

fierce

Do you ever have a moment where you realize that you've been learning a lesson for a long time without even realizing it?  I had this revelation the other night.  It was brought to my attention while Jordan and I were having a discussion.  If ever I feel strongly about something, oftentimes Jordan will play devil's advocate with me about it.  I don't think he realizes how often he does this and when we were dating and first married, I HATED it!  I would feel like he was attacking me and just trying to be argumentative.  I hate to argue, I'd rather go with the flow or hold my opinions inside.  But after our 8 years of marriage, with the help of quite a few arguments, and some (ok, many!) self-help books, I've learned to keep my defenses down when these debates arise.  I've learned that I need to keep an open mind, stay calm, and choose my words to get my own point across, and be respectful through it all.  Sometimes, I would blow up regardless, mostly out of annoyance that I can't express things to him good enough to win the battle.  Sometimes I would just wave my white flag out of hostility, angry that I was surrendering.  And when I would resort to either of those options, of course Jordan would get angry as well.  Now I realize that all along, Jordan hasn't been trying to 'win', he's been encouraging me to argue back.  To get my point across.  To stand up for what I believe in.

All my life, I've been the girl that shies away from confrontation.  I'm a peace maker to a fault.  My name actually means 'peaceful valley'.  Suck!  For so many years, that has left me feeling like a doormat.  I've gotten into some heated conversations in my adulthood where I can only stand my ground for so long before I crumble under the weight of confrontation.  There have been times when my faith is on the line with people, but I cannot argue.  So again, I raise my little white flag.  I've actually been told that I'm a push-over.  Ouch!  And until recently, I have believed that that is in the fiber of my being.

I just read a really great book, Fierce Women, which is largely about what a biblical submissive wife looks like.  I benefited from the book, for sure, and I definitely needed to add to my knowledge of what a submissive wife looks like.  But more than anything, I needed to learn about the all-encompassing fierce woman. (CHARACTERISTICS OF A FIERCE WOMAN:  Her identity is rooted in her relationship with Christ, gracious, content, courageous, faces her fears, passionate, not trivial, she's more focused on giving love than getting love, battles for a worthy cause instead of shrinking in defeat, protects and defends, a sincere encourager, honest and kind, speaks truth in love, she walks in confidence and humility, her life is lived for God's glory rather than the smallness of self.)  I needed to hear for the first time that to be submissive, peaceful, 'soft' doesn't mean I'm a door-mat.

And during a debate the other night and with reminders of that book still fresh in my head, I realized that Jordan has been speaking into that area of my life ever since I've known him, that I need to stand up for what I believe in.  I've always been confident that Jordan has never thought of me as just a doormat.  Even when he could have fully taken advantage of that personality trait.  When he'd play devil's advocate with me, I thought he was opposing me.  For years now, I'd leave those kind of discussions wishing that instead of debating, he'd just agree with me.  So many times I would bring something up that I knew Jordan agreed with but instead, we'd start 'debating' (which eventually led to arguing).  I would wish or pray that he would just stop, just agree, just let me have the final word.  I hadn't been trying to get in a fight, but with him pestering me, I would get all defensive.  I've always been bad with public speaking, why wouldn't he just listen instead of argue?  When I was feeling like a door-mat with someone else, why didn't he just let me vent about things instead of  pushing me to make my case?  And now I see it!!  He's been making me stronger all along!  While I doubt that he has had a grand, master scheme, he's been teaching me, pushing me, encouraging me to stand up!  To make my case!

Isn't it funny how God works sometimes?  I have wondered many times why Jordan and I would be so opposite of each other?  I had it all mixed up.  What I thought were his flaws were actually mine: Why couldn't he be a bit more gentle, like me?  A little less opinionated, a little less challenging?!  Again, I have never been a public speaker, I've never been very good with my words.  I have always been a quiet listener, a peace maker, a door-mat.  I've always longed to be fierce in a loving way, a soft warrior, the kind of woman the bible encourages me to be.  Why does it have to be a journey?  Why has it taken me 8 years of marriage to realize that Jordan's debates with me are for my benefit?  God IS at work in my life, in those personality traits that need to be molded, in the times when I'd rather not stand up for what I believe in because it's easier for me to surrender.

And God's timing is beyond my comprehension!

I have a friend who is going through some tough times right now.  I don't believe that anyone else is probably speaking into her situation with the Truth.  I feel like what she needs to be reminded of isn't going to be something she wants to hear.  And it's definitely something that I would rather not say.  But I know that I am in training.  I know that I am a 'soft person' which can be either a strength and weakness.  And I believe that God has set this challenge in my way so that I might stand up for what the Word says, while using my 'softness' to get His point across to her.

With what I have believed about myself being a door-mat, I have not honored God's call in my life to speak His truth.  To stand up for Christ.  To take up my cross and follow Him.  I've been a people-pleaser.  Not an advocate for Christ in a culture that needs the Truth to be spoken.  Now that I'm realizing how God has been at work in molding me into a fierce woman (and his using Jordan to accomplish that), I have a greater awareness of my responsibility and my God-given ability.  I hope I make Him (and Jordan!) proud!