Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fog analogy

From my Facebook Timeline (date as shown) -

Friends, a spiritual analogy for your weekend - Is the fog obstructing your vision? Are you lost and you can't see where to turn? Look to the Lord, look to Jesus. As the SON gets higher, as He becomes greater and shines brighter, the fog will begin to dissipate. And, until you can see clearly, tread slowly through the murk and mire. You would not drive 70 miles per hour through fog (in the natural). Similarly, go slowly and wait upon the Lord to be the Lamp to your feet and the Light to your path.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Captured Moments

This is just the sweetest pictures I have of my husband. Such a precious moment, and I am glad that I was able to capture it.

A note about Jeremiah: when he sees Daddy getting his things together to leave, or when Paul comes in the door at the end of the night - Jeremiah starts making kissing sounds, and generally demands several kisses. He is a sweetie!

Paul's job - and update

Just a quick update to tell y'all that Paul has started a temporary seasonal job at UPS delivering packages full-time. This is a summer job while the regular drivers take their vacations. He will be working 9-7ish daily. Weekends off! We are grateful for the additional income to get us out of the hole (caused by three months without pay)! We are now praying for a second car, since our little van that Paul was driving blew a head gasket. Someone bought that off of us, because we did not have the means to fix it. And, now Paul is driving the big 12 passenger van to work daily. Once or twice a week I will be taking him to work and picking him up so that I can get out of the house.

we appreciate your prayers for Paul's back and my sanity. Paul is hurting. His back is not in good shape. But, Paul feels like he must keep working. As for me, being alone with the children all day has been an adjustment. By the time Paul comes home, I am ready to pull my hair out.

Still, amidst these new adjustments, I continue to work on my fiction novel. I have nearly 60,000 words and I am probably 3/4 of the way finished. Paul and the children are totally supportive, and I could not do this "job" without them. I have been so blessed in writing this book. I can't wait for you all to read it someday...

That's all for now. Gotta go check on kiddoes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Paul Washer on the Gospel

Paul and I appreciated this 12 minute presentation about the Gospel. Very concise, yet very well explained.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do not Compare yourself to men, Rather be conformed to Christ

Copied from Facebook, written this morning -

Homeschool Mamas, Have you ever read other peoples' blogs or FB posts and put yourself down for not being as "good" as someone else? I used to daily read a blog by a seemingly perfect mother of many, many children. But, this week I realized again that we just cannot compare ourselves to others. That mama of ten or so kids was a second-generation homeschooler who grew up with a huge family. For others of us, having several little ones and trying to homeschool is like finding our way through an underground cave with only a small match. Please do not (as I have done) compare yourself to anyone. Rather, endeavor to read the Bible and pray that God would conform you into the image of His Son. Jesus was sinless, but his yoke is easy, His burden is light! Trying to model yourself after some super mama hero might add to your burden and make your yoke heavy. I know this all too well. Keep pressing on, homeschool teaching mamas! Let God be your guide!

By the way, I do not read as many blogs as I used to. In fact, I only check two or three regularly.  Fill your life with whatever is positive and matches up with this admonition.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Phil 4:8-9 (NASB)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Taking on the yoke of Christ and removing my heavy load

I have so many heavy, heavy burdens on my heart today. I feel strongly that I need to share some of the thoughts I am processing.

For the past several years Paul and I have (unfortunately) gone from one extreme to the other in many areas of our theology. This happens to most of us from time to time. I acknowledge that we have been double-minded and that we are always seeking to find more middle ground. More balance. Paul and I have a heart for being authentic even when it hurts. We want to lay ourselves before others so that we might save them from making some of our mistakes. Or, if you have already made the same mistakes, we want to pull you out of the mire. BUT, one of the problems with this earnest sharing is... you, my dear followers. My heart aches for those of you who have followed us in to legalism.

What do I mean by legalism? Heaping burdens upon mens' backs that God has not required. I have written so much through the years that I later removed, for fear that it might lead someone away from God Himself and into a set of rules.

You see, I am a person who needs to feel gratification. I am performance driven. I am performance oriented. Grade me. Evaluate me. Give me a stiff set of rules to keep. But, whatever you do, don't be vague and "grey."

Christianity has many black and white areas. There are other areas that are more grey. And, instead of learning charity (with myself), I thought that I needed to know everything. Right now.

Over the past five years we have run straight into the camp of others who were heaping loads upon mens' backs that Jesus does not require.

I need to clarify - I am not calling anyone of you a legalist. I do not know your heart. I only know mine... and that only in part. Sometimes my own heart deceives me. Paul and I thought at every turn that our pursuit for holiness was pleasing the Lord. And, the part of me that yells "Grade me!" felt gratified. I felt like I could check off every possible item on the list of holiness that God was setting on my desk.

But, there was something missing on that list. Faith. We were missing the faith that believed that God's work was sufficient for our salvation. Jesus' blood was all we needed. Jesus makes us holy. We need to try to live in a way that pleases the Lord and honors Him - of course! Grace is never an excuse for sin! But, we do not have to have all the answers in one day, one year, or one decade. Growth takes a lifetime.

So, why am I dredging all of this up again? Now? Well, new patches of dead, barren ground (my heart) keep being exposed when rocks are flipped over. Forgive my metaphor. Other issues keep coming up and exposing the areas where I am still struggling.

But, where did this all begin? What are the roots of my own legalistic journey? That's easy. In 2006, Paul stumbled upon a forum on the internet that disputed all kinds of issues. This forum was not open to public comments. I think (unfortunately) that Paul and I thought we were special that we could get "in." That forum did not encourage us to love and good works. At all. It encouraged us to wrangle with each other with words. It propelled us into searching out ideas that are not on the radar of the "average" Christian. It did not fan a flame to share the Gospel with the lost. It made us feel stupid and unintelligent that we were not as learned as these other men and women.
In all honesty, there are some good posts on that forum. Some. I did not dwell on those. I was caught up in every little topic that would make me feel like I could measure and evaluate my growth and feel gratified. I was focused on the posts that made me feel like I had "arrived."
In case you know of what forum I am speaking, even though I intentionally left off the name: We know the owner of the forum. We went to his church in real life. Paul worked for him in real life. We moved across the nation to be with this man in real life. He loves the Lord. This is not an attack on that forum owner's character. We love him. We pray for him. I know that the intent of his heart is not to lead people into legalism. His heart is to teach. His heart is to see others sharpen one another. But, the forum can start people down an ugly path, if they - like me - are performance driven.

Also in 2006, we were introduced to the writings of certain prominent conservative Christian authors (I erased their names, because I am not meaning to "attack" any one person, couple, church, etc.) I read as many of these books as I could as quickly as I could. This marks a turning point in my life. I do not have the books now to re-read them and see if they are "legalistic," or if it was just the way I read and received them. Do you see the difference? I am not saying that these authors are "bad." Because I just can't be sure.
BUT, when I read their books I got wrapped up in being the perfect wife and mother. I wanted to be the perfect Christian. I wanted to be the perfect pastor's wife. Load upon load upon load piling up on my back.

Another thought - and I truly do not mean to offend, but this is what I see - Legalism will not work if you live away from others that share your belief system. Legalism only works in a group setting. (Of course, I admit, all belief systems work best in a group setting!)

But for me, personally, I was feeling pressured to keep my children in the worship service and be family integrated when no one else was practicing this idea. No one understood me. Paul was preaching. I had three children under the age of four, then four children under the age of five. I was alone. And exhausted.
Homeschooling - same situation.
Having as many children as the Lord gave us - same situation.
Modest dress - same situation.
What I saw as healthy lifestyle changes - same situation.
We were alone and without aid.
(Again, I am NOT saying that all of these ideas are "legalistic." Paul and I still practice many of these ideals, but NOT because we think it will save us, or give us more brownie points on a cosmic scale. God is not grading me. My report card is covered by the blood of Jesus. My mistakes. My insufficiencies. Covered by the blood of Jesus.)

So, here I was reading these books that made me enter into years of bondage of placing myself under UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS and without the aid of anyone "like-minded." I fell apart. I was depressed. I was miserable. I wanted to die. I hated life. I hated my family. Yet, all the while I thought that these intellectuals in the books I read and the forum I was on, were the ones who had it all figured out. They were trying to help me have a more holy life.

Friends - do not let someone else pressure you in to how to live. Not me. Not Facebook. No one. The Holy Spirit will teach you through the Word of God how you should act. Other books might help make sense of the meaning of texts of the Bible. Then again, maybe they won't.

I am NOT angry as I type this. I am NOT bitter. I am sad. I am earnestly trying to save others from losing God in the midst of chasing rabbits. I am trying to lower the bar of what you think God expects, so that you don't kill yourself (and the little ones running behind you) as you jump impossible hurdles and fling yourself (with little ones behind you) through imaginary hoops. I am trying to prevent other legalistic families from suffering, falling apart, or experiencing the tragedy of divorce, abandonment, death, murder, or suicide. (The Lord brought me out before I hurt anyone else or my own self. Others are not so fortunate. My heart aches for the families with mommies or daddies who "snapped" under pressure and made a life-changing mistake. Oh, my dears. If my vulnerability can prevent any such incident, I would gladly bear my whole heart. If you are weary to the point of leaving your family or killing yourself - get help, dear one. You are precious to me and precious to the Father. If you have no one else to talk to, you may email me. God loves you, Friend! He has plans for your future! What Satan means for evil, God means for good! You have friends. I am your friend. You can trust me with your pain. I understand. I write this post from my own former agony. There is hope, Friend. Grab hold of it and hang on for dear life!)

Ladies, I am not trying to add to confusion. I do not want to be another voice adding to the chaos around you. I want to be one who comes along and begins to unstrap the unnecessary burdens off your back. I am not saying "drop everything," because that too would be folly.

Mothers, God does require us to try our best to raise God-honoring, God-fearing children. But, it is not all black and white. God does require women to be modest, but it is not all black and white. God does say to be holy, and live in a manner worthy of our calling. Some areas are clearer than others.

Let's give each other grace. We may read different Bible translations. We may dress differently. We may go to different types of worship gatherings. We may choose to educate our children differently. We are all on a journey and NONE of us is perfect. But, if we are believers, we ARE all holy. Jesus Himself has become our holiness. He took our sin. We took His righteousness. Let's be careful of what we try to talk others into doing (or not doing!) in the name of the Lord. Teach in love. Teach with mercy. Teach and lead by example. And, mothers, be ever attentive to the fact that there are little ones chasing after you. Do you want them to do what you are doing? Or, knowing that children often take what we do (or don't do) and blow it WAY out of proportion, do you want them taking your behavior and blowing it up?

Let's be loving, our kids can mimic that. Let's show mercy, we want our kids to catch that. Let's show moderation, forgiveness, understanding, patience, etc.

Pray and ask the Lord to show you if you have un-intentionally heaped burdens on your back (and your childrens'). You can unload them now at the feet of Jesus... and then try not to pick more up along the way... and so on. God will give you wisdom when you ask for it. God wants to heal your heart. He wants you to learn to see yourself as He sees you - through the blood of Jesus. He wants you to keep moving forward and press on to the goal. He wants you to be Christ-like. He wants you to be conformed to Christ. Ask the Lord to show you what He wants from you. Your best answers will be found on the pages of Scripture. Not on a blog. Not in a book. Those may help, but only if they point back to the Lord.

Pray hard and press on.

Sarcasm and Bitter Roots

Copied from Facebook, date as shown here.

Was not planning to post more today, but God is laying this heavily on my heart for a few of my FB friends (and myself): It has been my observation that sarcasm usually reveals bitter roots in a person. Whatever subject you find brings forth your sarcasm, it is probably an area in need of God's healing touch. Ask God to show you where your hurt places are, so you can move forward as a more effective soldier... Wearing scars of battle, not open festering wounds.

Seeds of Faith

Copied from Facebook, written the date that is shown here

There are moments when you have far-fetched ideas of what you could do with your life. What if some of these thoughts are seeds of great faith sown by a loving God who gives more than you can ask or imagine? What if, instead of shutting the valve of hope and creativity, you pray, "Lord, if this is from You bring it about in your timing." Then wait. God will bring it about in His way and His time. Or, He might lead you another direction. But, just because an idea seems impossible is not a reason to ignore it. Our God does the impossible!
It may be a broken relationship. It may be a new career. It may be a desire to reach the world for Jesus or save as many orphans that you can. If your idea is not against anything written in His Word, then keep praying. He hears you. The answer might not be what you expected. But God is better than our expectation. We see through a glass dimly. Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep seeking. Keep listening. Don't give up on the seemingly outrageous ideas in your head.
One word of caution- Neither let these hopes become an idol. God does not generally operate in the box we try to place Him in. He is God. He is good. We worship Him for who He is and what He has done for us through Jesus. Withdrawing your intimacy from the Lord when He does not provide as you expected Him to could be a sign that you are seeking the gift over the giver. That would be idolatry.
Keep that seed of faith alive. Water it by reading the Bible and by praying. Do not underestimate the possible fruit that could come from one little seed of faith sown in well-prepared ground.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Disorder and Confusion VS. Peace and Mercy

*Re-published without making any changes on November 19, 2014. I have no idea why I took this down in the first place. Or, did I never even publish it? Who knows?*

Last night I gave up a few minutes of my precious book-writing time to write an update about my health. I mentioned (in detail) that I was writing a book. I even mentioned that I was okay with writing fiction instead of Christian living non-fiction.

SO, WHY am I questioning everything today?!

Actually, it began about half a minute after I pushed "publish" on my blog update last night. But, around 2 am I woke up and thought, "C.S. Lewis wrote both fiction and non-fiction. So can I." You can see this battle in my mind is going on even in my sleep.

I am asking myself-
1) Am I a literary snob? That I would only write and publish non-fiction?
2) Is it God asking me/leading me/guiding me to write my fiction book?
3) Is Satan trying to throw me off course because my fiction book will reach and help so many people?
4) Will publishing fiction first hurt my "credibility" for non-fiction as much as I think?
5) Where are my decisions being led by fear?
6) Where are my decisions being led by pride?
7) What does God want from me?
8) How much of this worry over writing fiction is because of what people will think of me?

Yep, number 8 is the key, and it ties in with 6, 5, and 3. What kind of author will I be if I cannot even finish writing the book because of worrying about what people will think. Of course there will be some people who think less of me for writing entertaining books. Of course there will be people who make fun of or and criticize my book. Of course my theology will make some people mad. But, are these reasons to stop writing the book? Of course not. Not if God is the reason I am writing it. And, I KNOW that this book will bring glory to God.
(Becca told me three days ago that I was not able to write as fast as I could before because I started worrying about what everyone else would think. She's right. I am barely writing an hour a day now, and that one hour is not very productive. I am over-thinking everything! Becca is disappointed because she is my first pre-reader and she has read everything I have written and wants more! A good sign, I think!)

My only other concern is that fiction might make some women abandon their jobs as mothers for a day while they turn pages in my masterpiece. ((winks)) But, I have two thoughts on this - 1) Is it my fault if a woman chooses to use her time poorly? And, 2) This book would be a far better option than watching television or reading a worldly romance novel. But, what if my Christian romance (and it will be light on the romance) novel makes women daydream and pine away for missed opportunities? 1) it's not my fault; and 2) they could do a lot worse....

I am writing honestly here, because so many of my friends are also aspiring authors. Maybe I am just helping to cut the trail to make it easier for you to come along behind me and write your own masterpiece!

Another thought - Obviously I want to keep my mind saturated with the Word of God. Obviously I need to read the Bible daily. But, how do I balance writing a book and reading my Bible? I feel guilty about writing so much compared to the amount I read my Bible. But, I had a thought about this tonight - My husband works 4-8 hours a day. And, he reads his Bible much less than he works. Because, unless you are a pastor, you probably cannot read the Bible while you are working, right? And, writing is my job right now. (Yes, wife and mother career comes first, but stick with me) So, I need to see my time in the writing room as I view Paul's time in his UPS truck. Does this make sense? Or does it sound like I am making excuses? Because I feel a little bit like I am making excuses...

I am so confused. Which brings me to a verse that I have been meditating on for a week and a half.

16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:14-17 (NASB)
It seems plain to me that where there is "disorder" (verse 16 - which can be translated as "confusion," "tumult," "disorder," or "disturbances"), it is caused by my own selfish ambitions and/or jealousies. Well... I guess that settles it.

I need to pray more. I need to read my Bible more. I need to listen to God more.

I will get through this. Thanks for letting me talk it out. You Blogger friends are good to me. I hope my authenticity in this journey helps you in your own struggles. Let's strive together towards "wisdom from above!"

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why I don't blog as often as I mean to... and a health update too

I may have mentioned that Paul bought me a smartphone in February, because we decided that the internet service would cost less than my trips to the library to play on work on the internet. It is a mixed blessing to have internet access in my home again.

I felt led by the Lord to reactivate my facebook account. I wanted to be able to encourage my friends throughout the week. Unfortunately, FB can be extremely addictive... I am working hard on moderation. But, to be honest, it is good to have another connection to the outside world.
So, FB gets my attention and the blog takes the back seat.

Also, I am working diligently on writing a fiction novel (part of a series, actually). Back in January I was working on non-fiction. That work requires a great amount of in-depth Bible study time. But, just within the last ten days or so, the urge came upon me to start working on this fiction novel. All I can say is that God is guiding me to write it. I am thoroughly enjoying myself and I covet my time alone to write. In fact, I am so jealous for my writing time that the blog seems very uninteresting at present. The novel is coming along very well. God amazes me.

The thing is... I was born to write. God made me to write. It is a consuming passion... I must write. BUT, for years and years I have been too "sick" with hypothyroid issues (and/or disability) to even consider writing anything more than my blog. A novel or non-fiction book would have taken too much staying power. (I know, because I tried.) In January, I stopped taking my Synthroid medication and switched to Nature-Throid. I'll be honest, at first the switch was HORRIBLE!!! I gained at least 15 pounds in two months. I slept 16-18 hours a day. I could not hardly walk across the room. Each time I raised my medication, I had terrible palpitations that were extremely frightening. There was one occasion when I almost went to ER. Each time I increased my dosage I felt worse, and worse, and worse. I was beside myself with frustration!
I truly believed that Nature-Throid would be a great help to me, so I pressed on. I was working with two doctors and each doctor had a different view of how to "fix" me. Finally, I decided that my naturopath knew more about me (as a whole) than the doctor who actually prescribed the new meds. At this same time I was also reading every book I could about hypothyroid disease and hormone replacement therapy. I was fully convinced that I had many issues going on at the same time.
My naturopath re-checked my thyroid levels and discovered that I was taking WAY too much medicine AND that I had adrenal fatigue. These medication changes led to more fatigue and frustration. Less thyroid meds, more adrenal support and female hormone support. FINALLY we have gotten to a place where I am functioning very well... or at least better than I have in years.

Dreams have re-awakened in me (as in daydreams, hopes, etc). I am able to write. I am FAR more rational and reasonable. Paul has mentioned often than I am much more rational in our conversations. I don't lose my temper as easily. I am far less irritable and agitated. My whole outlook is improved. Also, my hair is getting much thicker. I have never had thick hair, but now it looks fuller! I believe that this is all an answer to many years of prayers. And, I think this change is almost entirely because of hormone treatments. Please, ladies, do not underestimate your hormones! I HIGHLY recommend the book by Richard Shames Feeling Fat, Fuzzy, and Frazzled?, it is eye-opening!!! (I can't remember if the book mentions evolution and all that. If the book does mention evolving from monkeys or that type of thing, I do NOT endorse evolution.) 

My desire to see women get physically well is secondary only to my desire to seeing them get SPIRITUALLY well! I want to be part of the healing process in your life! I want to encourage you to get right with God! I want to help you in your journey to physical healing as well. This is why I am willing to write posts that make me sound not-so-very-nice. It's all right. I admit it... I'm not perfect. Oh, goodness, the cat's out of the bag now. I am sharing my journey so that you might identify to parts and find healing too. So, you might see other posts about hormone replacement... if/when I have time. And, you might see posts about spiritual healing.... when I have time. right now my focus is on helping women through my books. My fiction novel is chalk full of Bible-based teaching. God has been so good to show me how to weave these teachable moments into fiction. And, honestly, I am excited to see how everything works out. I had originally planned to publish primarily non-fiction books and articles. My passion, my heart, is to teach and encourage women. God has been showing me what a vast audience is available to me in the fiction world. And, I think we all know how easily values can be taught through a good story line, right? (Prime time shows and secular novels are very influential!)

I want to write more, but like I said - I am jealous for my time to write my book. Thank you to my friends who are encouraging me as I write! Thank you for those of you who have been praying for my health for years! It is SO good to be able to get up and work!!! To walk around the house picking up toys and not become overly tired. It is so good to sleep til 6:30 and WAKE UP!!! And, to wake up refreshed, at that! Thank you to all of my friends in Columbia who are committed to praying with me and sharing words of encouragement with me when I see you.

I hope to have further updates soon.

Oh, by the way, I am up to 31,000 words on my book. That is probably about 1/3 to 1/2 finished! Thank you, Lord!