Friday, November 16, 2012

Fall Back Into Faith Fridays - Part 10 Fun

I can't believe our fall study is almost over!  We've tackled Faith, Family, Fortune, and now, in the last part of Fall Back Into Faith, we take these final weeks to tackle FUN!  What fun!  Also, drum roll please, my new website goes live Monday.  There will be some fun giveaways and some series I'm rolling out, so I will try to make sure this redirects to what will be next week!

I think a lot of folks, even those that have had a longstanding relationship with God, disassociate their faith and fun.  That's a shame because they should work hand in hand and your faith should inform the decisions you make in the "fun" aspects of your life. 

Today we're going to look at some Christianity misconceptions about what a faith-filled life looks like.  Next week we'll take a look at things to consider when you're having "fun," and our last week will focus on friendships, one of my favorite topics!

Here are Two Common Myths About Christianity: 

(1) If you’re a Christian, then life will be all suffering (using scripture like II Timothy 1:8 in a silo);

(2) If you’re a Christian, then life will be all blessings (using scripture like I Chronicles 4:10 in a silo).
God gives us extraordinary joy that could not come outside of following Him   Did you know that there are 72 references to suffering and 242 references to joy in scripture?  God is a fan of fun.  I want everyone just to hear that statement.  My grandaddy minister, who was one of the funniest people I've ever known, always gave great examples of God's sense of humor that started with the duck-billed platypus and ended with his hair loss!  However, the road is not joy-filled all the time.  The really key thing to remember is that if you are living in a time of blessing or of suffering neither, that fact alone does not reflect the depth (or lack thereof) of your walk with God. 
So today, let's just look at what Scripture shares about God's love of fun, and remember that Jesus' first miracle was performed at a wedding feast!  Talk about fun!
Zechariah 8 - This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there….” This is what the LORD Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”
Ecclesiastes 8 - So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun….

Nehemiah 12 - At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem.

Esther 8 - And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating.

Deuteronomy 16 - Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

Psalm 149 - Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.
{See also the Parable of the Lost Son, Luke 15 (when he came near the house, he heard music and dancing);  and Jesus’ first miracle at Cana, John 2 (the wedding feast!).}

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Change of Plans

I had this great post planned for today - the final installment of my big decision series.  It went the way of all of my meetings and plans for today: out the window. 

I had late meetings last night so, despite a few runny noses and innocuous cough when I left yesterday morning, I expected nothing out of the ordinary when I got home and the kids were in bed.  I think that is why I am still stunned as I sit and type this.  I've been up since 2:30 am today (it's 8 pm now and Bray's putting the kids down after my extended shift).  The baby has asthma.  I will never adjust to how a little cold turns into a croup and then into a battle for him to breath.  When morning officially dawned, I'd been up for hours with the baby and our albuterol inhaler ticking down the moments til the doctor's office opened.  As the sun peaked out, all three kids had coughs and fevers. 

My nanny had the day off due to a death in the family.  Bray and I had cobbled together coverage so we could make the umpteen meetings we both had at work today - school covered us in the morning, he'd do drop off, I'd do pick up, and we'd have a sitter cover the afternoon til my mom could come after work.  That all went out the window because you can't leave really sick kids with someone who doesn't know them and you certainly don't go to school.  Bray stayed with two while I rushed the baby into the first appointment of the morning.  Dropping oxygen, tight chest, breathless, speechless.  I cried as I asked the doctor if this was going to be a forever thing because I never get used to it.  She entertained him while I composed myself.  (She's awesome by the way.  She said, no, it's not forever, and you haven't had any sleep.)

I cancelled all my meetings and left my iPhone, that I delusionally thought I'd use to check in with work, somewhere between the bathroom and the kitchen as we ran between fevers, vomiting, coughing, shaking, crying, and utter exhaustion.  Me and the kids.  I wondered if I'd ever had all three this sick on the same day.  I remember a particularly excruciating bout with a stomach virus we all five had but even that unfolded over about five days.  Today, I'd successfully get one fever under control only to have another spike.  I'd get lunch made only to have one cough so violently that it was all lost. 

This is the weirdest thing.  I never screamed.  I never lost my temper.  I never regretted not being at work.  I never felt frustrated this was the day the nanny ended up gone.  I felt relieved to be the one here.  I felt this immeasurable surge of love and protection and compassion for these beautiful sick people that laid on my lap all day and held my hand.  I felt like a mom.  And only a mom.  I felt no tug of multiple commitments today.  I did no multi-tasking.  I just fixed kids. 

The other post will come.  The meetings will occur tomorrow (regardless of if I get any sleep tonight).  But today I am reminded that sometimes a change of plans can be a gift.  Even under upsetting circumstances, God works wonders.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Big Decisions - Part 2

I wrote yesterday about this season of big decisions.  I crave not only security in my life, but I also crave KNOWING.  I want to know the outcome.  I want to plan it and plan for it.  The interlude period, when I know decisions must be made but I don't know what awaits across the threshhold, drives me crazy.  No matter what it is.  Sometimes the decision doesn't even directly affect me, but I have to help make it.  It's the decision making, that will it be yes or no, that unsettles me. 

The other problem is that, at times, I doubt God despite my best efforts not to.  I think sometimes people of faith, or even people of no faith, think that if you follow where God leads you won't be as happy if you walked your own path.  Can I just say, that's insane.  This amazing, full of grace, loving, faithful, patient God is not going to take you down a path that will depress you. 

So how to pray in this interim period.  I keep praying those prayers for wisdom and for discernment and for stillness that I prayed yesterday. I am also praying for a recognition of how much BIGGER He is than me and how He craves to lead me into a good land.

Ephesians 1, one of my favorite passages, says, "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. "  (Don't you love that Paul says, "I keep asking?"  It's always been a process.)

I know I shared Psalm 37 yesterday, but doesn't it fit everyday as we pray for God to lead us and to act? "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this...Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him." 

And then this:

For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,   
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 64)

Thursday I'm going to share the final portion of my prayers and really focus on the "hopes and dreams" part of it all.  This book called Circle Makers by Mark Batterson is building on so much of what I'm seeing partially revealed on God's bigger plan.  Bigger than a single yes or no decision.  Because all of this, it's all bigger than one decision.  It's building to a crescendo. 

And I know this one thing, when I don't have any words to pray, when the wisdom seems a distant prize, I still can pray and trust His wisdom to find the right words: 

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed....We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Big Decisions - Part 1

We have some big decisions to make.  Bigger than normal.  I'm not always a fan of big decisions.  They are hard.  Even the good ones.  I worry I will make the wrong decision.  I often pray God will close all the doors except the one I am supposed to walk through so I don't make a mistake. 

But here's the thing:  that's a cop out.  That route allows me to avoid responsibility.  That "only one door" prayer doesn't require me to sit still and listen for God's voice.  If there's no "choice," then I don't have to read the Bible or pray hard or seek the Godly counsel of others because everything is done for me. 

The other problem with that is maybe the answer is stay put.  Maybe I should not select the one available option because I might be required to wait.  The decision might be no decision, for now. 

As I face these big decisions, I think of all the life decisions that I have been confronted with or my friends and family have had to face.  I remember my mother having to make a decision about maintaining life sustaining treatments for my end-stage Alzheimer's grandmother.  She is possibly the most amazing person that I have ever encountered in my entire life and, had it been up to me, I probably would have made a different decision because I would have been unable to let go.  Selfishly, and without God's guidance, I would have just kept her here with me, even though I knew she was already gone.  One of my dearest friends had to make the choice to stay in her marriage after one of the most trust-breaking, heart-aching breaches of a marriage I have encountered.  Selfishly, and without God's guidance, I would have run for the hills without praying and understanding that redemption for him and my family was even an option.  She made the better choice and her life and their family stands in testament to her allowing God to make the choice.  I moved cities, and left a wonderful life behind me, including a person I thought I would marry, because God essentially picked my resistant butt up and relocated me because He KNEW this was His plan for me.  And I have known so much more fulfillment, from finding the real man God had for me to marry to job success I couldn't have fathomed, because I let God do the decision making. 

So this week I am praying.  I am studying what God has to say about all of this, stuff like His direction for wisdom and peace, and I am sitting quietly to know better what I should decide in the months ahead. 

I write this because maybe you have a big decision too.  Maybe you would rather skip out on the hard decisions than fully participate with the leading of God's guidance and revelation.  I know how nerve-wracking it can be.  As a girl who is a huge lover of security and stability, change decisions can unnerve me.  But they can also unleash me.  These choices can untie me from the sameness of my safety zone and release me to do what God has planned.  They can wake me up from the coma of continuity.  They drive me to know God more and to listen constantly and intently to what He calls me to do. 

I pray for wisdomGod gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.  (I Kings 4)
I pray for discernment:   Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king...But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong." (I Kings 3)
I pray for stillnessTrust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this...Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.  (Psalm 37)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall Back Into Faith Fridays - Part 9 Fortune

Happy Friday and welcome back to our ninth installment of Fall Back Into Faith and final look at the third topic, "fortune" (for those of you new to us, you can check out three weeks of faith and family in past posts). This week, we are looking at God's call for us to be generous, after now having acknowledged Him in our work, doing what we are called to, and working hard!

I struggle with what generosity looks like in my life.  My husband and I make a comfortable living.  I live a very different life than I did growing up.  And I love giving.  I have no problem donating to World Vision or supporting hurricane relief or giving clothes and furniture away to those in need or writing a check out to my church.  But if I don't have to give anything up, is it really generous?  If there is no sacrifice and I still buy the new shoes and go out for a tasty lunch at work and buy the kids a room full of birthday toys, is it generous?  I don't know. 

Here are three things the Bible says about generosity, among many, and the rest I think is a personal decision between you (or me) and God:

1.  Don't just give generously, do it JOYFULLY! 
"Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward [the] poor and needy in your land."  (Deut. 15)

2.  If you have, then share.  And don't get caught up in what you have. 
"Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (I Tim. 6)
"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." (John 6)

3.  The more He has entrusted you with, the more He expects. 
"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.  For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."  (See Matthew 25 - see also II Corinthians 9 below)

Further Reading:  Deuteronomy 12; II Corinthians 9, Luke 19, I Timothy 6

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Two Year Blog!

I just realized this week that I had MISSED the two year anniversary of my blog in October.  It has grown so much this past year that I feel tremendously blessed.  Even more exciting, this month I will launch the blog on a new site,, so stay tuned for some really fun details and give aways as that happens. 

Last year, I celebrated my top five blog posts of the year.  This is so hard because I've written over 400 blog posts which means I'm writing about 200 posts a to pick!?!?  But in keeping with my tradition, here's my favorite posts from Year Two - cannot wait to see how year three unfolds:

5.  Losing Mothering - This post resonated so much in my own life, and then I found it resonated with other moms too who feel often like they just can't keep up with all that spins around us.  A theme in many of my posts is that mothering is hard but such a gift from God.  (Also, if you missed it, I got some great tips from moms on how to manage the coming home from work chaos in Triplet Tot Two-Step!)

4.  Clutching v. Releasing - I still struggle with this.  I realize that I can be such a control freak that reading this post helped me to go back and remind myself I need to let God stay in control. 

3.  Easter Madness, Part 1 and Part 2 - This is just so funny to me.  Easter - the celebration of our Risen Lord or...the way for commercial ventures to milk you dry.  I became overwhelmed with all there was to do for two year old triplets at Easter.  Hopefully, I will "check out" of the madness next year and really focus the kids on the sacrifice of our Lord. 

2.  The Night Before Nightmare - Okay y'all, this and its follow up post (Insert Expletive Here - which everyone remembers because of the poop-smearing) totally crack me up now because we're still dealing with this nuttiness.  It's so weird to think that this was the year they learned to scale their cribs (which I wrote about last November) and that we converted to toddler beds, back to cribs, and back to toddler beds.  There is no keeping them in.  They scale the gate every night still to this day and wander around the house.  It's nuts.  I need to separate them. 

1.  39 Things - This was interesting because I actually got traffic from NYTimes Money blog which inspired the article, so this was my second most read blog post. This post impacted me tremendously because of what it taught me about living in, and not above, the excess. I did follow up posts over that three week challenge of reducing the glut of overspending and over-acquiring - the Second Part showed me how much I needed to get rid of, the Third Part resulted in me being stuck having eliminated the low hanging fruit, and the Finale had me outraged at how susceptible I'd become to it all.   I want to teach my children differently. 

One that didn't make my list, but received the most "hits" because it was a link up to my friend Kelly's blog, was a post entitled Triplet Nursery - it was fun to go back and see how orderly that room was with babies!  That post, and the posts about our trip to Disney, were the most read but aren't my favorites (it's my earlier posts that practically only family read that I love the most).  I had five honorable mentions last year, so I'll do it again:  These remind me of how far we've com - The Terrible Triplet Twos (and The Sticker in My Panties); This one summarizes how so much of my life is about the amazing women in it - Four Friendships You Gotta Have;  I don't write about marriage much but I love this because I still struggle with telling my husband "how" to do things - How To Get to San Antonio; This one just shows how much God reveals to me through the actions of my kids - Smiling Defiance.  Oh, and this one explains why I keep doing all this, I really think I'm being called to some God-space I've not yet seen......Through The Tears, The Vision Reappears.

I hope you all will hang in there in the next couple months as I do some more growing with you and even grow on over to a new platform.  Your words of empathy and encouragement have made me love writing/blogging even more - thank you for sharing my life.