Being Equipped Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy

I just tucked in my kids for the last time this week. For the next eight nights, my parents will tuck them in and give them hugs and kisses.

They’re in good hands.

But my hands are better.

I’m their mom, and naturally, I’m the one to be doing the tucking in. It takes a lot of my evening time, but I love the hugs and kisses and “love you” as I walk out of their room. My middle girl has told me every night for about three years, “You’re the best mom a girl could have”. For someone whose love language is words of affirmation, hearing this makes me feel like I can move mountains.

Tomorrow, Michael and I head back to England. I went in 2010 on a mission team to Nottingham. It was a defining experience in my life and changed so much about who I am and how I view the world and the church. Last year, Michael and I led the group, and had another incredible week serving with the people we now call our dear friends. This is the third year of our partnership. We are the group leaders again, and have been consumed lately with plans and packing and schedules and money…not to mention packing for the kids, and finishing projects at work and cleaning house and all the things that come with an weeklong absence. Our minds and bodies are ready to just sit on the plane for eight hours and not do anything.

But I’ll miss my babies. I love them more than I could ever express, and I love being their mama. I love serving with Michael, and I believe I’m called and equipped to go, but it’s never easy.

I know God has set aside this week for me to serve Him, and to share with others the freedom that I’ve found in knowing Him. I’m certain that I’m supposed to do this thing.

If I were going away for any other reason, I don’t think I could be gone a week. But I can do it for Him. There is a job for me to do, and He has given me what I need to do it. There are so many other things that moms have to do in the summer, and I’m aware that leaving my kids can be stressful on everyone, but I also believe that we are to go and tell, and God has richly blessed my family because I’ve followed Him in obedience. My kids know the importance of speaking the gospel and encouraging other people in their walk. They know this is why we go, and they have accepted it as something our family does. I pray in a few short years we will all be going and telling!

We are excited, but the last tuck-in for a week is hard. I know God has prepared a work for us to do, and I know Michael and I are called to do this together. So if you see my babies this week, hug them for me. Thanks for praying for us, we need them!

Cheers!

 

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I grew up thinking that every kid got along with their parents. I thought everyone went to church and all the activities offered there. I thought everyone stood around the piano and sang Disney songs with their families. I thought everyone put God first, their family second, everyone else third, and themselves last.

I was wrong.

People are selfish. Our society has a sense of entitlement that goes beyond my comprehension. We are told that if it doesn’t make us happy, then we don’t have to do it. Adjusting our behavior to accommodate the feelings of a loved one is a ludicrous suggestion.

Tonight, Michael and I were talking about this and I asked him why we treat each other the way we do. I wanted to know because apparently, I have been completely delusional about how most folks act at home.

His answer: the Holy Spirit.

Michael and I are both Christians. We have given our lives over to Jesus and strive to follow His leading in every area of our life. However, we’re also very normal, sinful people. We have a sin nature, like everyone since the beginning of time, with the exception of Jesus Christ. When I get angry, my first thought is not a verse of scripture. I wish it was! I pray that the Lord will give me that discipline and ability as I grow. But right now, it’s not my instant reaction. However, I don’t attack my husband or children in my anger. While my first thought is not, “Man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:20), I know through the things I’ve been taught and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life that acting out in anger does not glorify God. I may not be actively thinking about how I can glorify God in the moment, but because of His dwelling in me, He glorifies Himself through me by giving me the self-control to not verbally attack my family.

Of course, we make mistakes, but through the presence of the Spirit in our lives we are given what we need to change our behavior if we need to. Because we know we are not our own, and we belong to Christ, it is easier to be selfless. When you’ve already died to self, then you realize that you are not in relationships for your own good, but for the good of others. This is only possible through a relationship with God through Jesus.

When I do something Michael is not crazy about, he never fusses at me or tears me down by telling me how his way is better. If there is something I’m doing that really upsets him, he asks me to adjust, and I trust him enough to know that he’s asking me for my good, not for his selfish gain. Y’all, this makes us sound like we have it together. We don’t! But we practice, every single day, loving each other selflessly. Michael takes seriously the scripture that commands him to “love your wife just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her to make her holy…” (Eph. 5:25-26). He wants me to be holy before God. He desires for me to have a close relationship with Jesus, so he does his best to love me as Jesus loves me. He loves me for how it benefits ME, not him.

I hope this doesn’t sound self-righteous. I don’t mean it to be at all. We’re as messed up as anybody when it comes to the everyday sin in our lives. But we know we have a Savior who has paid the price for our sin and given us a new life. Because He lives in us, we can live every day in marriage and know that it’s not about us. It’s about Him. We love only because He loves us first.

I’ve learned that what I thought about the world as a child was not the reality. But in my house, in my marriage, in my life, I can create my own reality based on what God wants for my family. That’s not naive’, that’s being responsible to protect my marriage and my family from the ugliness of the world, while loving those that God puts in our path.

 

The Clock

It’s either moving way too slow or way too fast.

When we were engaged, the clock moved at a snail’s pace.
Our wedding day, the clock decided to get with the program and the time moved so fast, I couldn’t absorb it all.

When I was pregnant, I felt like I had been pregnant for about four years each time.
My baby turned five years old today and I have no idea how that happened. I don’t have babies, toddlers or preschoolers anymore. My son is getting taller by the second, my middle girl is absorbing knowledge faster than I can give it to her and my baby has opinions about her clothes.

Make it stop.

Since I’m supposed to writing about marriage, I am reminded of the first few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I was at work, and thought I might have some sort of sinus infection, so I went to see the nurse. I told her that I needed a prescription, but wanted to make sure I wasn’t expecting before I could take the medicine. I told her that I knew I wasn’t, but I am not a risk taker. I just stood there talking about how there was no way I was going to have a baby, I just needed my prescription and I’d get back to work. The nurse grinned at me and said, “Really?” She showed me the blue line and I felt the floor tip sideways. I gripped the countertop until my knuckles were white and said, “WHAT?” I couldn’t breathe. My vision was blurry. The nurse told me that the baby would need oxygen, so I should take some deep breaths. I stumbled out of the office, somehow got my purse and drove home. I prayed the entire time, for the baby’s salvation, good health, and for Michael’s understanding. This was NOT in the plan.

I walked in our little apartment and Michael was in our overstuffed green chair, with his Bible open on the ottoman in front of him. He had his elbows on his knees, leaning forward, reading the Word. I stood there in the doorway and he looked up, very concerned. He asked if I saw the nurse and was I okay. I walked over and sat on his lap and told him I was very okay, and that we were having a baby. He was dumbfounded. He told me to go see a doctor. We called and made the appointment and I went on back to work.

We saw the doctor a couple of days later and he confirmed what the test showed. We were becoming a family of three. We started telling people and I started googling things I had never googled before.

The weirdest thing happened at this point. I didn’t see it coming at all.

Michael quit speaking to me. He just clammed up. He wasn’t angry, he just pulled away. I was overloading my mind with information on pregnancy and babies and he didn’t want to talk about any of it at all.

It scared me. I felt alone and unsure of everything. What if he didn’t get past this? Why was this MY fault? It was a strange time, and it lasted a little over a week. On a Sunday, after a long weekend of youth events with our church and feeling further from him than I ever had, I drove home to New Orleans from Ponchatoula where we served at a church. He would ride with a friend and come home later. I was alone in the apartment and fell apart. I wanted to eat something with sour cream and wasn’t sure if I could eat sour cream while pregnant. I mean, it says “sour”, right? I cried my heart out right there on my couch, and needed a hug more than ever.

Michael walked in, and I pray I never forget the expression on his face. He walked straight to me, pulled me to him and hugged me tightly. He apologized and told me over and over again that he was okay and we were going to be fine. The Lord arranged that day for him to ride with his friend Mike. Mike encouraged him and told him that your family is what you make it to be. Michael heard him and believed him. He came to the conclusion on that ride home that we were going to be great. If this was God’s plan, then we were going to enjoy it and do our best to be faithful.

The next day, I was heading to my office after lunch and the florist was dropping off a huge bouquet of daisies for me with a card that said, “We’re going to be fine. I love you and our baby.”

We had no control over the clock. We planned to have kids after five years of marriage. On our fifth anniversary, I was six months along with our second child. I said I didn’t want three kids, and my third baby is asleep right now, dreaming away the last few minutes of her fifth birthday.

Our heavenly Father is the timekeeper. We are only responsible for how we respond to the events that He has set on His timeline.

My life is immensely full of blessing because of my lack of control. I have no regrets, because when I became His child, I gave up my right to create my own timeline anyway. Losing my life to gain Christ has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Knowing Jesus is enough, but the fact that he put Michael, Aidan, Molly and Paisley on His timeline for my life is better than I could ever deserve.

 

 

Encourage One Another

Every now and again I’m reminded very clearly of why God gave me Michael.

I promise not to brag on him in every blog post. But if I don’t write about this today, I’ll forget about it because my brain is so full of the things I have to remember to functional normally.

Today as I was driving to pick up the kids from school, I saw someone that needed help. You don’t need the details, and this story is not about what I did. Just know that I couldn’t get past the need that I saw in this person’s eyes. It made my heart and my stomach hurt.

I texted Michael to tell him that I really wanted to help this person but I was afraid. He wrote back and asked me why. I said I didn’t know if I was being safe and smart. I didn’t know what to say or do. I was afraid of going alone without him.

Basically, I was having a spiritual tug of war, knowing what God was telling me to do, and feeling the fear of doing it.

Michael’s next text to me said, “‘do not be afraid, for I am with you.’ -Jesus”

I read that, I prayed, I acted on what I felt I was supposed to do and God opened the door for me to show grace to someone who needed it. Three people, actually.

I’m very capable of doing what God tells me to on my own. However, because I’m quite human, my fear of the unknown can sometimes debilitate my efforts, even though my heart longs to obey.

I needed encouragement, and Michael said just the right thing. Rather than discuss it with me, or give me pros and cons, or tell me what he thought about the situation, he told me what Jesus said.

Because in the end, what Jesus says trumps all of our words. He is the final word. And if He says He’ll be with us, then He will be. And because I’m His child, he’s more than just WITH me, He lives IN me.

So I can obey because He is in me and is actually doing the work through me.

In any relationship, the best encouragement is when someone can speak scripture to you and you know without a doubt that God’s word is true and active and alive because it was EXACTLY what you needed at that moment.

In marriage, encouragement is crucial. Building each other up and cheering each other on is a huge way of showing love to one another. I depend on Michael’s kindness and him cheering me on. But saying, “I know you can do it” is one thing. Letting me know that Jesus is with me and I have no reason to fear, that’s loving me as Christ loves the church.

Know God’s word. Read it together. Encourage one another with it.