Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Is There Really A Need To Be Heard…Or Are God's Ears Where We Find Understanding And Purpose For Our Lives?

I have been completely invested in healing…I understand that what I am naturally is not is able to stuff injustice.  I loathe it. It frustrates me, angers me, inspires me and directs me.  In the past few years since I have been seeking my own healing from "injustice" I have learned a few things:  first and most important: whatever it is that causes us unrighteous pain God is already planning our "escape."  He is at work behind the scenes and His greatest concern is our growth for His purposes.  Of course He also wants us to be whole/healed and ready for all He has for us and therefore "there is no way to but through" which is something I have learned well.
The new language pattern that developed in me through any challenge from such crisis is this:  Lord, show me what I need to know and please have mercy so that I understand what it is you want to spill out of me as I am shaken.  Remembering that being shaken is something that reveals the real "me" and draws my attention to what I like and don't like about myself and therefore I learn what elements of "me" need pruned.  I can surrender to that or resist it, but belonging to Him is a reminder that while the process isn't easy, the end result is beyond beautiful.

I was reminded of this the other day when Olivia sent me her first college essay to proof read before she sent it off.  I was at a seminar, and I was busy/distracted and yet, I knew I had to read it.  When my kids ask for something immediately, I am more often than not inclined to make them wait, but in this case, I made time…and I am so glad I did.
It hasn't been easy raising a girl.  I too often sense entitlement (which makes me seethe and to see it rear its ugly head in any of my own kids at ANY time nearly blows me away), but I constantly remind myself that this attitude isn't always gender specific but it seems to be generational/and certainly something that will be broken and decimated as life in the "real world" takes root. I have confidence in this as I have been in abased places in my life and yet clung to God's promises and lived out my faith with no explanation of His provisions.

What I know is that Danny and I focus on those attitudes and yet there are too many times when we do not see our fundamentals for living in place as we have taught them and it makes us crazy and it is times like those that we remind ourselves that our time and investment is nearing completion at some level and we remind ourselves that we have been given a "job" and ultimately it is God who is responsible for the outcome.  Isn't like life overall? Another way I have begun speaking it is this:  we do our best and trust God with the rest.

So when I read Olivia's essay titled per request "Define the good life in telling a story" I understood that while I may not often see that she understands life at a level of matter that shows depth and purpose of her own, I realized that (like me) she will take her own journey and end up seeking Him for greater impact and healing herself.  I will share her essay (typos and all) because it is a reflection of pain becoming purpose which is why I write, why I share my heart, and why I know there is more to any battle than what meets the eye…and that purpose is beyond our own understanding as our own lives.  All challenge, when interpreted as being sifted from the hand of God Himself, is meant to encourage others as well.  As I see her in her raw emotion that lives in her heart, I am reminded that in due time she will seek Him at a deeper level.  She will ask Him for deeper understanding and He will be there…just like He is for all of us who ask for Him and believe Him to be our "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  ~Psalm 46-1

After I read her essay I told her that she reminded me of me…having a difficult time living out what is in the heart because the pain is greater than what is known or understood.  She didn't comment.  It didn't matter.  What does matter is that God is in her…He loves her and He has clearly called her according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28  THAT is why my life looks like it looks, why my purpose is what it is and why my hope proves what it proves.  I am blessed to be the vehicle God has used to allow this human out of herself.  Some ways of understanding His ways will never be understood.  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. ~Isaiah 55:8

And while learning why/when and how we need to find His ways is not often something we seek without cause, seeing Him to be who He is, becomes magical in our desire to escape that pain/those challenges and we settle in to trusting Him.  There are times when we want our voice to be heard, but we find in this world of ours that our unheard voice becomes an opportunity for Him to do what seems unlikely or impossible.  I know that is one place I prefer to seek above any other.  If the end of the story is nearly anything as dramatic as the beginning, I will watch in eager expectation, wait with an open heart and trust with abundant faith.

We may never understand WHY but we can always learn more about WHO and given Who it is He is, there really isn't much else that matters.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

Olivia's First College Essay:

In today’s society, the good life takes many forms depending upon one’s personal views of the world. How people view the world relates to experiences that, in turn, define who we are. Day by day our stories are written and personal experiences change who we become. Adversity takes hold in our lives, sometimes leaving scars, but it is that adversity that can have a powerful affect on someone. At the age of seven, I became a victim of the world and its harsh reality. That day, murder suicide took both my parents and my simple life took a turn when my brother and I were taken in by another family.
Adversity, in every form, can take part in creating a person’s character while developing their diverse views of the world. Adversity allows people to establish personal values and they come to find what is important and necessary for their own true happiness. Adversity has vested a longing for success in my future and a desire to find the “good life.” The good life is a different combination of a character’s personal values and what they find to be important to them. For many, the good life consists of money and luxuries but fails to include healthy relationships and fulfilling impression that unification brings. Adversity and life experiences have changed how I view the good life to be. In my new home, developing new relationships was not easy, but as a child I longed for those deep, unified bonds I felt was missing. My personal definition of the good life includes, like any other, having luxuries and those components that keep us satisfied. These could include a home, a car, and that “stuff” we all seem to need. My vision of the good life entails a stable family with children. These materialistic factors cannot be forgotten; as we are human, but I believe relationships are the most important founding detail.

During my high school summers, I have had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica to do service work at a deaf school in a very small, poor town. While there, I met many of the children that lived with their families at the school and many of the families in the surrounding community. Spending a week with these families allowed to me see that they all shared a common principle. They took extreme care of their loved ones; watching over them and providing them with care. The community as a whole was deeply united. What I saw was the concerning care for each and every individual. Strong relationships were the building blocks for happiness in these people. They did not have money, but they each expressed contagious joy and glowing happiness. My life experiences have encouraged me to evaluate my beliefs. Therefore, refining my core values; leading me to believe that the good life consists of a steady balance. A steady balance between material things and relationships that bring everlasting joy. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What Being A Mother Means To Me

When girls are young they have dreams, expectations, fantasies, and ultimately delusions about being a mother.  They envision a reality that seldom exists outside of their mind's eye.  Typically what we hope will manifest in our lives becomes a driving force for our heart's desires.  If we choose wisely, I believe we can all find our utopia of satisfaction and fulfillment for what connects the dots within each of us.

Along the way however, we are not always the ones choosing.  We are the recipients of the choices of others as well as our own.  Those are our defining moments, the cultivator of our character and out of the mouth our hearts often speak, but occasionally we catch glimpses of what we are ill-equipped to handle and have to swallow hard in times where the injustices of life speak for us.

It is not a secret that my own journey has made certain life altering choices for me.  Of course I have made choices within that have shaken me in every way and while I have held my head high for what has mattered most I have also hung my head shamefully as I have struggled to become whole within it all.

Along the way, I have not rested, but have always trusted that God would produce a more improved version of His original intent for me that was stolen as a result of many choices in the lives of others and how those affected me.  The wounds of my own childhood hindered the call upon my life in some ways, but in others created the perfect palate for a more complete me.  I never claimed to have the most important component in excess: Love, but I definitely possess a wounded heart which desires more of it…I just have had trouble learning how to receive it as well as give it and I know this is because of the lack of it in my own life…again, due to the choices of others.

For all of us,  those battles exist.  Some manifest quietly, without a strong force behind it to reveal, but for others, the resistance and challenge is so great, that we must confront it for a greater level of living and accomplishing what comforts our soul.  While the greater theme has moved me forward, the resistance within it seemed to become a trap for my own struggle.  I could easily find excuses for holding on to my pain within it and not releasing the unending burdens with a finality that would truly set my heart free.  I knew my heart wanted a choice that my head struggled to receive.  The theme that has released me to the next level of living in my life has been surrender.  And the way that I can describe what that means for me is this:  when the pain of holding on is greater than letting go…release it…whatever it is…and trust God with the rest.

I finally had to confront that I couldn't do enough or be enough in order to accomplish enough of what I knew my heart desired.  I told God just that…through effort, words, apologies, conviction and confession.  I realized I did not possess enough.  It was at that point, when everything was in His hands, that I began to experience a new attitude and approach that wasn't being revealed through my wounds but through my words that were attached to my faith.  I finally made a mental shift that could remove my emotion from any equation but it takes a consciousness to do so…and I trusted God for that consciousness.

As a mother of 5 kids, ALL unique and challenged but equally troubled and talented I have begun to learn a new dance.  I finally feel as if I am becoming the emotional support for the leaders that are within each of them.  I have learned that letting go of injustice is where true tolerance and joy lives.  Appreciating the privilege of being trusted to be a mother of 5 under such circumstances has finally released in me a new hope…one that could not have been accomplished any other way…and because of that I can look to "Jesus, the author and finisher of (my) faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…." Hebrews 12:2

Regardless of what we confront as Christians, and we each do confront challenges that we didn't expect or even see coming, we can either recoil or stand firm in our faith and press God to show up for us in ways that can present an honorable gift to the challenge for which we are called and not remain in the damaged state as we have an opportunity to emerge into the butterfly that has been living in its restrictive cocoon.  While the latter often causes dissection of our very heart, it produces a gift not just to ourselves but also to those we desire to impact the most.

This is what being a mother has taught me.  
“When you see people only as personalities, rather than soul s with life missions to fulfill, you forever limit the growth and possibilities of what God has in store for another person.” ~Shannon Alder

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.”  ~Gilda Radner

PS.  I had, since I was a little girl, said I would  have 5 children.  I never expected to actually have that many when I didn't have my first until the age of 30…and when my family became one with 5 children, I quickly reminded myself of my heart's desire and once again, the reminder that what God plants He also waters :)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

When Are We Faithful?

It is time, one week after the scariest experience of my life as a parent…and it didn't take long to know that writing through yet another challenge reminds me of just how much God surrounds us when we are hurting.  We are settling in to a temporary reality that is littered with disappointment and gratitude and setbacks and hope.  And let's not forget pain…at every level.  It is hard to watch but being mindful of being able to view from a front row with a future in tact means more than the circumstances ever could.  I am beginning to see that theme of juxtaposition in the life we live.

Each child takes a journey and as much as we lead it, we really have very little control over it.  I believe  the greatest value we offer as parents is pointing our children to The One who created their lives for a purpose beyond their understanding but not beyond their desires.

Izik is a child much like my husband with a compassionate heart that is filled with determination but also with a huge emphasis on enjoyment that fills his inner self and which drives him toward his goals which have to be focused upon his loves and the investment he makes into those things that drive him.
Knowing that this child is incapable of anything but those innate understandings (especially as I have watched closely my husband's journey), reminds me that all the pieces are being assembled for his own story.  A story…a test…a testimony.  We all have to consider those stories.  It creates our character and more often remakes it.  We learn that whatever we hoped for or expected is ok to be delayed or possibly even destroyed at times so that it can be rebuilt and reconstructed into a greater story.  With the right attitude and fortitude, we can find our greatest victories and successes come out of the adversities of our lives.

When Izik hit the tree at 40 mph on his skis, he knew that Jesus was who he needed to cry out to as he was spitting up blood and unable to breathe, thinking he may die.  And that is exactly what he did…he asked God to be with him…he used it as an opportunity to seal the deal with Jesus.  How comforting to know that my God is his God and one of my greatest burdens for him lifted…at least the one that matters more than any other…his soul's eternal destination.

Walking out the path that is laid, whether due to our own choices or the choices others make for us, is not usually one we care to take a second time nor would we ever choose it, but our future becomes directly patterned as a result.

Watching a child suffer is beyond my desire, but watching a child grow in his own perfect path to bring about God's purpose and his own peace within it is unmatchable to any other experience I can have as a parent.  There is no hope without suffering and there is no victory without defeat.  I always say I am raising leaders…now I believe I will say I am raising champions.  According to Mike Thompson, CEO of SVI (an organizational development company) 10 differences are suggested between the two.  After realizing those differences, I realize how much more appropriate my parenting goals are with the term champion:

 1. Champions are personally grounded through values; Leaders can be situational.
 2. Champions influence through love; Leaders can influence through power.
 3. Champions pursue mutual value; Leaders can be self-serving.
 4. Champions drive transformation; Leaders drive transaction.
 5. Champions embrace the mission; Leaders embrace the role.
 6. Champions are operational and visionary; Leaders are one or the other.
 7. Champions aren't defined by circumstance: Leaders are limited by circumstance.
 8. Champions are emotional; Leaders are guarded.
 9. Champions are curious system thinkers; Leaders can be linear thinkers.
10.Champions are fully present in every moment; Leaders can be consummate multi-taskers.

When God says:
I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, ~Isaiah 62:6


While his fragile body endured the impact and pain of the injury, it is now enduring the pain of restoration.  Each day has brought about a reminder of just how much God really did protect him.  While his injuries are not visible they are real just the same.  As I was shown the trees…only 2 side by side…in a barren space, I think of God in the expanse of our lives…and realize once again it is just us and Him, and while we have others who we walk with, we really only have Him who we can trust to protect us and lead us and redeem us.  It always happens for a purpose...His purpose.  I have never taken that trust lightly and will never dismiss its significance.  He saved my son in more ways than one…and He has purpose within it that we will both learn even as he heals.  Embracing the difficulties allows room for the victories with the proper attitude to receive them.

I love seeing winners…but the winners that matter the most are the ones who win in life and become victorious as they overcome their obstacles, oftentimes those obstacles are between their ears as they flush out the defeat and make room for the champion that lives inside each of us.  With God on our side, we win every time.

I could speak this over and over in my life and I know if those of us who trust Him, truly trust Him…we could believe there is so much behind the scenes we do not know or understand, but it brings about a most beautifully written story of hope and redemption….
~Psalm 124:  “If the Lord had not been on our side—let Israel say—if the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.