“Old Things Are Passed Away”: The Day I Left the Laundry on the Bed.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve been thinking a lot. I’m going to share some things here that I am finding are true for me. Maybe you’ll relate too. This is going to be candid. I’m finding I don’t help anyone by keeping life lessons to myself, so please bear with me.

Reminiscing.

My husband just came back from a conference, and he remarked about meeting people who learned he was my husband. People who had known me “back in the day” when I had a prominent, very public persona at a well-known Christian University. Back in those days, I taught multiple groups of (mostly freshman) students, held meetings with hundreds of students in attendance, and spoke for ladies events. There was a lot going on to make me feel “significant”.

Fast forward a couple decades. I’m living a much less commotion-filled life in rural Wyoming, largely spending my days in the house, homeschooling kids and doing housework. Anticlimactic? It could be. If I let it be. And I had.

Real Me.

I was feeling full of angst. I was defining my “usefulness” by my past. I was allowing my sense of worth to be attached to the person I was. But that very public person had such a needy heart. No one ever knew it. I was strong for everyone else, seemed to have the answers, but was so weak inside. I hope and pray I am a better person today than that woman was.

yayruthMy flesh seeks accolades. Does yours? You know…the pat on the back that says we’re worth something. Life was full of that back then. And it was dangerous for my heart.

Today I find myself mostly doing the average stuff. Fixing meals. Writing lesson plans. Supporting my pastor husband. Keeping the laundry rolling, searching for rogue socks. Satan whispers, “You used to be ‘somebody’…you used to make a difference.” He’s a liar, and I know it. But, I’m ashamed to say, I still wondered.

Dear lady, if this is you, please hear me. The answer is yes. You make a difference. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and loved with everlasting love. And, the quiet stuff, the daily routine-y things…they mean much more than we realize. They only “burn us out” when we do them for the wrong reasons. Have you heard/read this quote before:

Those who think that a woman detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true. Scarcely can the godly mother quit her home for a place of worship; but dream not that she is lost to the work of the church; far from it, she is doing the best possible service for her Lord.

Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord, as Moses in judging Israel, or Solomon in building the temple.

~Charles H. Spurgeon

I’ve read these thoughts and ones similar to them before. But I honestly can’t say I believed them…not for myself, anyway. Because when I try to do those things Spurgeon mentions, I fail so often. I’m not perfect at them.

Realization.

busy-mom-multitasking

This is what I’d forgotten. Again. Jesus is my perfection. He is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the “Lord my righteousness”. He is that. I’m not. I knew that the day I trusted Him as my Savior…and then I forgot it when it came to every day life. So I became exhausted. I convinced myself the answer was to do more. If I couldn’t do it right, at least I’d kill myself making more and more attempts at it. More is better! That’s spiritual, right?

It was killing me. It was erasing me from the lives of my kids, I was becoming so preoccupied with getting it right. I was so overwrought with my failures that I was becoming weighted down and joyless…and that feeling, that drudging, dragging outlook, was all I had left to tap into when it came to my role as a wife as well.

This life lesson has been a long time in coming. He’s been trying to teach me, but my life had become so noisy seeking significance and satisfaction outside of Him, in me, trying harder. Battling with chronic pain and health issues only added more shackles (and truth be told, the stress I was creating for myself very likely made things worse). I believe the adversary was rejoicing, because I’d been floundering for so long.

Resolve.

laundry-basket-webYesterday, I decided to simplify (which was my “buzz word” for 2015, ironically…but I complicated my life even more trying to see it defined in my life…what a mess). I had laundry to fold. I wanted it all to be done for my husband’s return from a pastor’s conference, so the house would be neat, and he’d have what he needed to pack for a men’s retreat which starts today. Meanwhile, our teen daughter sat in the living room alone, watching “Catching Faith“.

I looked at that pile of laundry on the bed. I knew my husband was not due to be home until hours later, and I made a radical decision. Don’t laugh. My perfectionistic nature likes to expedite things. I’ve written about this before.

I’d told our daughter that I might come watch with her…when I was done with the laundry.

“Yay!” she exclaimed.

And I stood there…absurdly weighing things. I realized that checking stuff off my to-do list had become a god to me. I had convinced myself that if I got stuff done, if I achieved my goals, I had worth. I had a sort of epiphany moment when I saw that HIS goals were much more realistic, lasting and worthwhile than mine….and His list was much shorter. And I left the pile on the bed. Just left it, and had a lovely time sharing that movie with her, chatting, laughing, making observations about life.

Reflection.

My response to my husband’s observation from that conference was, “And now the tables have turned, and I’m happily known as “the Baptist preacher’s wife”…and I meant it. The people in our home…they are first. If “Mom” and “Sweetie” are the only titles I hold for the rest of my days, I’d love that. Old things are passed away (even good or great things which have just become, well, old), behold, all things are become new. I am a “new creation” in Christ, every day. His mercies are new each morning. His faithfulness is great! (Lam 3:22,23) I want my heart to be satisfied, not with labels, titles, or accomplishments, but with my new name as His child. That is enough. No, it is “exceeding abundantly above all that [I] could ask or think”. I want this to be fresh in my mind, every day. I want to continue to be a better person than I was…not only those many years ago, but also better than who I was yesterday…or this morning. Growing up into Him.

Rest.

There is rest in this. I have a hard time resting. Do you? Even when I seem to be, I’m not. I’m planning, thinking, always on the watch for something else to do. Jesus said to His disciples, “Come apart and rest awhile”. It’s a spiritual thing to rest. Now, to get caught up in the “me time” mentality is unhealthy; but a life with balanced seasons of rest and service is wise.

Remember Elijah? I’ve studied his story. I’ve referenced it frequently. I’ve blogged about him. Now I’m ready to own the truth of his story for myself. In my heart, I was ready to run. Overwhelmed. To the point of a magnificent melt-down a few weeks back.

Burning his candle at both ends, we would have called Elijah “stressed out” back there in 1 Kings 17. God forced him into rehabilitation. God’s answer wasn’t “Do more”.  It wasn’t even”Do something else”. God’s answer was “Stop. Sleep. Hydrate. Nutrify.” Simple. Needful. Noteworthy for us. We tend to ignore the obvious. My husband could see my need for this. I wouldn’t. He’d take the kids out and tell me to relax…and I’d clean the house. After all, when else could I clean it, and have it stay clean for any span of time? Shame on me for not listening to his loving leadership.

I’m looking into doing a review on The Elijah Project which was featured in “Catching Faith”. Here is the author, describing it.

I’m corresponding with the publisher right now. If you are with me, on this road to Cherith, keep an eye out.

Free Tools for Prayer Strategizing

We previewed “War Room” last night for our church New Year’s Eve event this evening. I was reminded of more things I need to focus upon, develop, and spiritually hone in my life.  My favorite part of the movie was actually something in the bonus features. “Modern Day Miss Clara,” introduces viewers to Molly Bruno, a 91-year-old prayer warrior and one of the inspirations behind the character of Miss Clara. Sweet and empowering. I was encouraged by this lady’s example, and inspired to be like her. I found years ago that “My job is not the heavy lifting.  That is His job.” I want to realize this even more in the coming year. You too?

Some years ago, I wrote this outline for a ladies retreat. I apologize for any formatting weirdness…I’m copying and pasting from a Word document. I hope it will help others who want to pray for their family more faithfully, and for their husbands in particular:

PRAYING FOR MEN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART

PSALM 112

No title to this psalm, but it is a companion to Ps. 111.  Psalm 111 ascribes praise to God for His glories.  Psalm 112 ascribes praise to God for how His glory is manifested in man.

Verse 1—“Blessed”=happy, to be envied

“is the man that feareth the Lord” (reverential awe)

–not “blessed is the powerful, the handsome, the rich man…”

–Jeremiah 9:23,24 (LOOK UP)

Psalm 111:10—this man has begun to have wisdom

God is great =fear

God is good=love

“Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in consequence thereof.” Spurgeon (Phil. 2:17 will & do).

“delighteth greatly in his commandments”

–commandments =law, ordinances

–he delights in God’s directives and glad for the safety of divine restriction

–Ps. 1:2

–he is cheerful in obedience, not reluctant

PRAY: That he would fear God.  That he would delight in the Word of God.  That he would obey God’s commandments.

Verse 2—the upright man leaves a legacy of potential blessing; an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled…

–“Honesty and integrity are better cornerstones for an honorable house than mere cunning and avarice, or even talent and push.” Spurgeon

PRAY:  That he will be a consistent example to his children and others.  That he would have a faith worthy of imitation.

Verse 3—II Cor. 4:10

–Who can be richer than he who is heir of God and joint heir with Christ?

–Romans 8:17

PRAY:  That he would strive to “make others rich”, beginning with his own house.

Verse 4—because of the strength of his faith, he does not fear

–Ps. 23:4

–this is the kind of man people look to in adversity

–speaks of a connection between integrity of purpose and clearness of perception

–righteousness=discernment  Thos. Chalmers (1847)

–see 111:4 phrase used regarding God “gracious, full of compassion”

–Matt. 5:45  Eph. 5:8  Luke 6:36

PRAY:  That he would have discernment, especially in difficulty/temptation

Verse 5—4b lead into this.  He considers the needs of others (not “be ye warmed and filled”) type of man.  HE is open handed with wealth and talents.  He spends, saves, gives and lends in order to fulfill his Father’s will.

–Discretion called the chief of all virtues.

PRAY:  That he would have works to prove his faith (James), know how to demonstrate agape (selfless) love, and have the mind of Christ in ordering his affairs.

Verse 6—His character (what God knows us to be) lends itself to a sterling reputation (What men perceive us to be).  They are one and the same.

–seeks an everlasting remembrance “Well done” (Mt. 25:21)

–faithful regardless of who is/is not watching

–men pleasers have their only, fleeting reward in this life (Mt. 6)

PRAY:  That he would have a tenacity for the truth and a resolve to do right.  That he would live his life practicing the presence of Christ—for His approval and not man’s.

Verse 7—when trial touches him personally he has a godly fortitude that gives no consideration to panic, alarm.  He is neither fickle nor cowardly, but is quiet and patient, waiting upon God.

–what makes him this way (back to verse 1)

PRAY:  that he would have an inner strength and unswerving and fearless dedication to his God.

“God is unchangeable; and therefore faith is invicible, for it sets the heart on Him, fastens it there on the rock of eternity; then let winds blow and storms arise, it cares not.”  Robert Leighton

Verse 8—fixed = prepared, set up; established=to sustain, support

–“see his desire”…looks upon his oppressors with confidence

–his desire is not revenge, but rather salvation

–his courage has a firm foundation

PRAY:  That his feet may be solidly planted when facing opposition, that he would desire the good of those who would be his enemies.

Verse 9:  His motto is “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, Mt. 10:8)

“His life is the result of principle, his actions flow from settled, sure and fixed convictions and therefore his integrity is maintained when others fail.” Spurgeon

PRAY:  That he would know the blessedness of giving, realizing how much he has been given.

Verse 10—“The ungodly shall first see the example of the saints to their own condemnation, and shall at last behold the happiness of the godly to the increase of their eternal misery. “ Spurgeon

prayerforhusband

 

PRAYING FOR MEN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART

Sunday: That he would fear God.  That he would delight in the Word of God.  That he would obey God’s commandments.

Monday: That he will be a consistent example to his children and others.  That he would have a faith worthy of imitation.

Tuesday: That he would strive to “make others rich”, beginning with his own house.

Wednesday: That he would have discernment, especially in difficulty/temptation.

Thursday: That he would have works to prove his faith (James), know how to demonstrate agape (selfless) love, and have the mind of Christ in ordering his affairs. That he would know the blessedness of giving, realizing how much he has been given.

Friday: That he would have tenacity for the truth and a resolve to do right.  That he would live his life practicing the presence of Christ—for His approval and not man’s. That his feet may be solidly planted when facing opposition, that he would desire the good of those that would be his enemies.

Saturday: That he would have an inner strength and unswerving and fearless dedication t­­­o his God.

Here is a link to the “30-Day Praying for Your Husband” Challenge from Nancy Wolgemuth (newlywed!) at Revive our Hearts.

Here is a link to an excellent, free tool from Proverbial Homemaker to help you in praying for your family more effectively in 2016! Grab it now, and join me on the “front line”!

52-Weeks-of-Praying-for-Your-Family-Scripture-Cards-Journal-Pages-Proverbial-Homemaker-PIN

The Lovely “Steam” of Thankfulness

steamcupI came across some lovely thoughts this morning, by C. S. Lewis. So perfect for this time of year. Thanksgiving sets our minds to actually be looking for things in our lives and circumstances that are gifts– undeserved reasons to be grateful. Then we continue on quickly (faster every year, it seems) into the Christmas season, with its focus upon gift giving.

Ironically, at a time when we ought to be reminded of God’s unspeakable gift, from Whom that “free gift” is given…discontent can settle upon the heart.

Things aren’t ideal. Someone is missing. That “just right” something you had in mind to give a special someone…is elusive. The Christmas cookies burned, and the gingerbread house project for the children turned into a melee. The house isn’t clean enough, or Martha Stewart-ish enough for your guests. The roads are too icy. The clamoring crowds at the stores rattle your nerves. The trip to grandma’s takes too long. Our minds and spirits become overwhelmed by all the holiday hoopla.

So here is my advice. Let Thanksgiving continue. For the rest of the world, “Turkey Day” is one day of ridiculous feasting, with fabulous leftovers to follow. And then, like the picked-over bird carcass, it is gone.

Have a gratitude journal this Christmas season.

“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”

Psalm 116:12

treepileIf you were able to lay positively everything you’ve been given …every “good and perfect gift” from God was tied up and placed under your tree….how abundant would your Christmas feel to you? Then enjoy that feeling, because it is just so. Your breath, your sight, your loved ones, your talents, your voice, your most cherished memories, your warm home, art, music, sunsets, rainbows, mountain vistas, all that you love, everything in which you find comfort, joy, and happiness…and that “free gift” Paul so loved to talk about…you are heaped with these things…good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.

Enjoy this, as I did this morning:

…I dined at the Harwoods that night and came away—on Tuesday morning—as you said in your last letter ‘thanking the Giver’ which, by the way, is the completion of a pleasure. One of the things about being an unbeliever is that the steam or ‘spirit’ (in the chemical sense) given off by experiences has nowhere to go to.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Yours, Jack

Give off that lovely, fragrant “steam” today! Let it rise from your cup that runs over with thankfulness!

“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:17

Hope for the Hurting at Christmas

“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rev. 7

christmasjournalWoke up praying for dear ones in great need today, and so very mindful of those who have said a temporary goodbye to fathers, brothers, husbands, mothers, and their own children this year. They say “the holidays are harder”, and in many respects that is true. My precious Daddy left this world at Christmas time over a decade ago. My Christmas Journal has been empty every year since. Not out of bitterness, but because of a weight that presses. Written words carry weight with me. To write a passage “without him” would make it seem he is gone. He is not. He is just as much alive today as the last time I was folded up in one of his whiskery, Old Spice-scented bear hugs. I don’t care to do anything tangible that subtracts him from my heart during this special time of year, with all of its memories.

A Christmas card, in his familiar, angular scrawl, marks the last page I wrote on in that journal. In it, he speaks of how much he looks forward to seeing everyone. And he will. He’s waiting with my mom, celebrating the birth of the Savior with the Savior Himself. What must that be like? I’m so grateful for the “blessed hope” of being with them all one day.

christmas lights

A photo from several years ago.

On our front lawn, we have a large wooden cross, framed in white lights, with a large, red gift bow in the center. We’ve done this for many years. This is Christmas. I brought a picture to Jr. Church last Sunday. I told the children, “I have a Christmas picture to show you…see if you can explain to me why I call it a ‘Christmas picture.'” It was a picture of Adam and Eve in the Garden, in front of the forbidden tree. A few little ones guessed it was the first Christmas tree, with fruit as “ornaments”. Then one bright young man observed, “I know…it’s because if Adam and Eve had not disobeyed, we would not have needed a Savior.” I shook his hand, and told him I was very proud of him. Yes. He nailed it. Jesus was “born to die” as the song says. “Christ was born for this,” the old hymn proclaims. His work on the cross was His gift to us. The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God. (John 1:12)

In the future, I look forward to having no more tears or sorrow or pain or death or crying. Those former things will pass away. Right now, I can embrace the cross of Christmas which reminds me that Jesus became “God with us” so that we could be “whiter than snow“. This I pray for everyone who might have the patience to read this today. Won’t you make room for Jesus, my beautiful Savior, this Christmas? I hope you will.

Be a Do-Bee

This morning, while sipping my French Vanilla coffee, still snuggled in my fuzzy Christmas robe, this was the word God had for me:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

When we pray for God to open our eyes as we read, He will be purposeful in guiding our understanding. He wants us to move far past “checking off the box” that we did our reading. He wants it to affect our living. He wants to meet with us, and change us.

Have you ever looked into a mirror in someone’s house, a department store dressing room, or a thrift store, and things looked a bit wonky? You looked too short, too tall, too wavy, or just weirdly disproportionate. The passage above tells me this–if I look into that mirror of the Word, it will be perfectly accurate in what is reflected. The Spirit will reveal with crisp, clear accuracy exactly what we look like inside.

dobeeMany (many!) years ago, I watched a show called “Romper Room” as a child. From that show, my mom picked up the phrase “be a Do-Bee“. The song says “I always do what’s right, I never do anything wrong.” Well, that’s not exactly realistic, knowing human nature; however, the idea was that I was given information on what was right, and I needed to act upon it. I still try to teach this idea to our children… obedience, right away, the first time they are told. But how am I doing with this?

Today when we read, let’s simply ask God to show us what’s right. He’ll never refuse. Then let’s determine to be a doer of what He shows us.