Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seeking God

I am dreaming of spring - can you tell? This is like the winter that won't let go!

Right now, life is full of a lot of 'faith' things.  Maybe life is always full of faith things and I missed them so God is giving me some things I can't miss!

I am re-reading a book that I very much like.  I read it about 5 years ago after a very hard time in my personal life - I remember seeing this book at the library - and it just jumped off the shelf at me.  I thought 'This is the book that is going to explain why person X did that terrible thing to me!!'  God sure does have a sense of humor because in the end, the book was about me, and how I couldn't change them, but I could change me - and I needed to - fast!
Here is the book - I highly recommend it!

So this comes from the book I have been re-reading...  The author suggests that one of the main ways that Christian people are seduced into sin, is by taking their eyes off of the Lord (Faith) and doing what seems 'reasonable, rational or even religious'.  How many times have I fallen into that trap! 

Getting the right person for the right jobs, and all without hurting anyone's feelings.  Having enough money to pay the bills.  Choosing and buying curriculum for next year.  Making decisions about Grandpa's health. Working on relationships with my teen boys! All of these things require me to have faith that ultimately God is in control, but they also require that I take off the reasonable, rational or even religious, and instead seek God continually in these matters.  What I think may not be right, what I feel can deceive me, but what the Lord says, what He gives, is correct - even if it seems odd. 

I am not super mom/Christian/leader.  Please do not be under that delusion - I am only human and will likely disappoint.   I sometimes have difficulty knowing how to say what may need to be said or when I know I may be afraid to hurt someone's feelings.  God is working on this in me but I often put my foot in my mouth.  Because of this, I may not say something, even when I feel in my spirit that something is just not quite right. This is something God is working on in me - that I would have the courage to stand up for that voice, and the wisdom in how and what to say!

Part of the way that I discern God's voice is through spending time in His word and through isolating myself from most outside voices. So while I may not be spending lots of time on facebook or in emails or even in person, I am seeking, I am pursuing God for wisdom in all of these areas and so that when he speaks my spirit will hear!  What a blessing to be listening to the Holy Spirit that says 'this isn't quite right' or the quickening of knowledge 'YES, this is the way, walk in it!' 

So here is the word of encouragement to all you homeschooling moms who are thinking about next year (or really anyone who is thinking about anything!)
Maybe you aren't sure about curriculum or co-op classes or activities to plan. I would encourage you to take off what may seem reasonable, rational or even religious, put aside your expectations, and spend time in God's word.  Pray and seek him, seclude yourself in prayer, pray without ceasing - pray about it every time it comes to mind - stop and pray about it right now.  I had a friend who described her life as 'praying at the bookshelves, praying at the computer screen, praying at the dinner table.'  She was on her knees before the Lord seeking guidance and direction for her homeschool - and it shows!

I promise you that God does not want His will for your life to be a mystery - instead He wants to show you great and remarkable things! 

Jeremiah 33:1-3 While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the Lord gave him this second message: “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.

Please don't think it was just Jeremiah - because the Apostle Paul had this prayer - which he prayed for you and I. 

Ephesians 20: 14-21
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

and AMEN =)  God has great things in store for us!  Seek His will and be brave enough to follow him no matter where He leads!

Blessings,
Amanda



Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sever the bonds of Fear.

The New Year was upon us, and so, like every homeschooling mom out there, it was time to venture back into the school books.  Make a plan, work the plan. And so, in my new, fearless new year, I began looking through their school books, their workbooks and honing the plan for the rest of the school year. 

In the new year many people long for a 'do over' of last year.  I am longing for a 'never do again' of this last year.  This past year was hard!  It wasn't bad, it was full of sweet memories, love, laughter with my boys,  there was loss but it was not unbearable loss, there were hard times financially, but they did not break us.  It wasn't that there was no joy, no love, no peace.  But it was very difficult.  It was a struggle.  I feel battle weary and worn and in need of a break, deserving of a break.  There are days to rest, yesterday was one that was quite blissful. Taking a 'break' though, is just not in the cards right now.  Respite yes, Break no.  So how do we gather ourselves up and continue, not just plodding through life, but living joyfully in every moment?  Lean, Pray, Rebuke, Rest.  This is my no fear in the new year motto.

In looking through the school books I find that there are lessons unfinished and boys worn as thin as I am and though I want to be angry, self righteous, indignant - 'How dare they....'  I hear that still small voice, whisper (shout) stop - think - be calm.  I know they are just as weary as I am they are struggling in this journey the same, and it frightens me to think of it, and it makes me realize they are only little people, even though they are big.  They need love, not lectures.  They need grace, not griping. They need a soft place to rest, not the hard line of a homeschooling fanatic.  They need Faith from their mother, not fear.

I lean,  I lean on Drason in the middle of the day with a frantic at work phone call and tears of frustration.  I lean on the Lord with pleading, please show me the way through this, we can not raise a house full of dummies, can we? I lean in, I calm down, I take a moment to vent frustration at life and circumstances and long nights at a hospital bed, and a thousand emails piling up since before Christmas, and my soul cries out to the Savior.

In Matthew 8 we find this:

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

The Greek literally translates "Lord! Help! Dying!"  and I get it - I feel that way sometimes.  I feel the wind and waves and storm raging and too many things to take care of and not enough time or resources to take care of them and my cry of my soul is 'Lord! Help! Dying!'

Mark 4, another recounting of the same story, gives voice to that deepest fear in verse 38  38And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say to him, Master, care you not that we perish?"

How often have I too cried out 'Don't you care?' and the root of that cry is fear, not faith.  Fear, which chokes and strangles the life out of life and makes every day seem dark and unending. 

Oh me of little faith, and much fear - even in my no fear new year, here I am only a few days into the year and bowing to fear in my homeschool room.

Prayer.  Prayer of Repentance,  I bow when I should rebuke, I quiver when I should quell.  Father open my eyes that I might see this coming, train my heart to respond with Faith and not with fear.  Prayer of Faith, Why am I fearful? Have you not walked me through worse things than this, have we not become more than conquerors?

Rebuke.  Only Faith can defeat this kind of fear.  Faith to root it out, Faith to tromp it down, Faith to stomp that snake into the dust and leave that Fear buried in the grave where it belongs.  There is no middle ground here - I either give in to fear or fight on in Faith.  I can not accept fear, welcome it into my home, entertain it, and then expect to turn and rout it.  Rebuke the devil and he will flee, Rebuke fear.  This is a hard concept to grasp, even the disciples marvel at Faith that calms the sea.

I read the passage again and I find Jesus asleep in the bow.  I wonder if the disciples thought he was crazy.  Who sleeps through storms that shake the world?  Who sleeps through a great tempest?  The Greek word is 'seismos'  We get our seismograph from this word.  We measure earth quakes with this word.  Who sleep through an earthquake of a storm?   Jesus does.  If it isn't because he doesn't care or he isn't listening, then why?   Jesus sees his creation, all things under his authority.  He stands, rebukes the wind and sea, and there is a great calm.

Rest.  During the middle of the storm, when things looked their worst, when disciples are crying out that death is coming for them, Jesus rests.  Can I rest? 

Romans 8:35-37
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Rest in Christ's love?  Yes. I want my children to do that, to rest in my love. To know that no matter how many math problems still need to be completed, I love them.  No matter how many hard days we have, sometimes by my design and for a greater purpose, I love them.  I desire for them to rest in that love.  Is my love dependent on their performance?  Absolutely not.
If nothing can separate me from Christ's love, even trouble, calamity, hunger, danger, or death, then what have I got to lose by resting in that love? by placing my faith in that love above everything else, rebuking fear even when all signs point to a sinking ship?  I lose nothing by resting in Christ.

  If the opposite of Faith is Fear, and Faith rests, what does fear do?  Fear performs.

A few of those disciples were sailors, I can just picture them in my mind fearfully scrambling about the deck in the storm trying to out perform the wind and the waves.  Could they ever out perform the wind and waves?  They thought they could.

And so I shuffle through home school books and papers and I prayerfully, fearlessly, revise.   And in this new no fear year I find something surprising.
My fear, fear of not sending kids to college, fear of kids not getting a well rounded education, fear of keeping up, fear of not fitting in,  has driven me to demand performance from my children, performance at a level that could not be attained without some serious scrambling.

I am ruthless in my pursuit of this new no fear new year.  I will stand (for He is able to make me stand!), rebuke the waves, and live the rest.

I slash assignments

I slice over committed schedules

I shave hours of wasted energy

and with His help, I sever the bonds of fear. 


Praise be to God, Amen!
Amanda








*'Boat on Calm Sea'- David M Cobb
* Bible verses are NLT
*portions interpreted from my study of  Max Lucado's book 'Fearless'