Archive: September, 2012

Today is Messy

Sometimes as my oversized car and I clamor down the driveway, I think I’ll get out and life will be easy. That three daughters will greet me laughingly when I pick them up from school, homework will get done joyfully, and bedtime will consist of sleeping. 

Except today life is messy.

There are three girls greeting me when I pick them up, only they cry all the way home because there’s no McDonalds.

The art of homework isn’t an art at all. We scratch division problems across a page until 8:00p.m. I “google” answers more than I care to admit, because after having all these kids I can’t remember much from my elementary school experience (or much of anything at all).

When bedtime arrives, they won’t stay there…little feet pound stairs for one more glass of water. Prayers and bedtime stories get postponed until tomorrow because today I just want to go to sleep and wake up when the mess is over.

I pull over because my led foot is getting quite heavy. I park. Turn the keys in the ignition, close my eyes, open my hands, and just sit.

All I can say is “Jesus.” Then He fills my spirit with just one word, enough. 

Enough.

Jesus bent and carrying my burden, my anxiety, my cares. Jesus with nail scarred hands and plenty of living water for a parched wretch like me. And even when I think I’ve learned this lesson already, He lovingly teaches me AGAIN.

I look around the parking lot and He whispers softly, “I died for you. Trust me because I came for the messy (and you’re one of them). You don’t have to get it all right before you come to me. My ways will never be yours…so give it up.”

Suddenly, I remember to be thankful for the mess as it pulls me back into His arms. Maybe the reason for yet another lesson is to remind me what abiding; leaning on everlasting arms feels like. Sometimes I forget.

Some days, the bickering, crying, homework, and bedtime are his will for my life, His gift to bring me closer to Him. Tomorrow when I do it all over again, I will embrace the gift that is Him, enough for me and all my worn-out broken places.

These days, only He carries me.

And because only He carries me only He can receive the glory.

When I’m a mess, there’s more opportunity for His glory to shine through this worn thin clay pot. I’ll gladly forfeit the little to experience Him in the much.

I will forever adore him and give Him all of my praise whether my day is a messy wreck or not.

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Junk In My Trunk

I corner my neighborhood street the day after Labor Day. I notice my neighbors’ empty trash cans hugging the curb. My stomach twists, “I forgot to roll out the trash!” 

The same trash heaping over the sides fuming like a mad man in my garage. The kind where the top won’t close over reeking stench from last week’s taco night. 

Seemingly, the situation ignites my inner volcano. It’s like a great yawp coming from the lava within me that exclaims, “I’m not in control and I don’t like it!” I shrug my shoulders deeply. I fold worn-out arms across my chest as wagons of health code violations circle around my heart. 

But, wait! 

Vroom, clank, clunk… 

I hear the garbage truck a few streets over. I expeditiously load my trash with pure adrenaline and cat-like reflexes. The only thing left in my driveway ~ black skid marks from a mama high-tailing it with a bunch of junk in her trunk! 

I pull alongside the bright green truck. “Please take my trash!” I implore. Towering over the dump on wheels, the precious man dismounts and nods in the affirmative. I drive home with a smile ~ problem solved/catastrophe diverted. 

Oddly, I’m reminded of the old cliché from early computer days ~ GIGO: garbage in/ garbage out. Crazy enough, it’s relevant. If we put bad data into our computers, we will get bad results out. If we put mental garbage into our minds, we will get garbage out in our lives. 

Proverbs 15:14: “A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” 

The Bible tells us to fill our minds with the right things, good things. If we want to be fruitful in the Christian life and in ministry, we must fix our minds on God-honoring things.

Like the garbage in my trash can, the mental garbage we inhale begins fresh and enticing. However, the longer it hangs around the more toxic it becomes. Mold congests our spirit when left in the garage of our hearts too long. Then we find ourselves with more junk than we know what to do with. Until one day we find ourselves stuffing junk in our trunk doing whatever it takes to rid ourselves of it. 

My sweet sisters, if we don’t take out the garbage of sin on a daily basis (if we forget to set out the trash) it piles up. It begins to stink. The foul aroma can seep into our hearts and pollute our homes.   

So if I want my can emptied, I’ll roll it to the curb every Tuesday. If I want my heart full, cleansed, I’ll confess to God and put out my garbage on a daily basis. When I do this, I won’t have to worry about rubbernecking neighbors wondering what in the world is all that junk in my trunk!

 

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Spinning

Remember spinning?

I certainly do.

Twirling around and around until you fall to the ground in a dizzy haze.

I love doing this as a little girl. I see my littlest darling do it all the time.

I don’t have the stomach to do it anymore. Or the energy.

But, as a not so little girl, I have a different kind of spinning that I fall into from time to time.

It’s less physical and more emotional.

It’s when I let go of what I know is true to take a spin into what scares me.

I lose grasp of my once so strong Faith and trip right into an old pair of spinning shoes…

and my flesh takes me for a ride.

Spinning…

I wonder why I have so many trust issues.

I question why a girl like me with a God like You lacks trust.

Why I ever fear.

Then I fall, dizzied, to the ground and…

Death comes to mind.

This life I think I love… this idea of what I think is right and good and fair.

The word injustice pushing its way in and about my thoughts… as if I deserve something more.

And then death flashes again.

Death of self.

All the ideas I have for us… the way I think it should all go… I need to experience the sweet release of these “things.”

As long as I hold onto them… fear tags along. And my flesh will continue to spin and spin and spin.

And I’ll continue to get caught up in the spin… and my Faith will continue to get lost in the dizzy-ness of it all.

It’s a lesson that will keep replaying until the dying is done.

Until I spin out so far that all that holds me up IS Faith.

Faith in Him.

And nothing else.

Then, just like when I was little… I fall, dizzied, to the ground… but unafraid. Free to let go of what I think and free to live in peace with what-ever He has for me.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by FAITH in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Galatians 2:20

Father, I want to live out the life you planned for me… forgive me for spinning out over me and losing sight of You. Thank you for these lessons that bring me closer to the heart of You. Keep teaching me. Pursuing me. Loving me. Make me fully Yours. 

*Linking up with Laura at Beholding Glory for…

Beholding Glory

 

 

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Back to Reality

Last week we experienced a wonderful blessing. We joined my family on a Carnival Cruise for seven days. It was a great, new experience! We visited Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

The timing was perfect. We have so much weighing us down in our life right now. Truthfully, we’ve had so much weighing us down for years and it seems to just get heavier and heavier and I can’t help but wonder if it will ever lighten.

We moved all the way to Alabama and I thought it was going to get better, but it hasn’t. It’s actually much worse.

I confess it makes me cry a lot. And my heart aches deeply.

So, the idea of seven entire days to escape it all overwhelmed me with excitement. No internet access meant no emails and no texts or phone calls. A blissful escape from reality.

The first several days were perfect, I forgot it all. But as we neared the end of the trip anxiety began to creep back in. Reality, waiting just around the corner began to threaten what was left of our great escape.

And as we exited the ship yesterday, there life sat ready to takes us back to what we left behind.

It was only a few hours into our seven hour drive home and we were fully engaged… back to reality.

I’m reading Lysa TerKeurst’s new book,Unglued and in chapter two she discusses “changing our thought pattern.” When things go wrong for so long we can easily get buried under very negative thought patterns. I’m definitely there.

But, she quotes 2 Corinthians 10:5…

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

And I love what she says about it…

“I can’t control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, I have a choice to have destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts right now. I can wallow in what’s wrong and make things worse, or I can ask God for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don’t feel good. Indeed when we gain new perspectives, we can see new ways of thinking. I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control.”

She goes on to discuss that just repeating these truths will not change anything… I have to believe it. I have to believe that God is working out something good in this mess that seems no good. I have to trust Him.

So, back to reality. But I’m trying to gain a new perspective, trying to wrestle each thought to the ground and hold it completely captive to Christ.

And I pray, God, for more faith, to believe in You and trust in You better than ever before.  

***

Counting my many blessings…

spending time with family I haven’t seen in years

kids going Snuba diving with daddy

kids getting to spend time with their nana and papa

kids playing all week with their cousins

spending time with my mom

enjoying my sister and her precious family

a cabin with an ocean view

the patch… thank you God for the patch

time at the beach

lots of great food

swimming with stingrays

holding sea turtles

perfect weather

towel animals and chocolates every night

escaping reality…

and getting back to it… with a God who has it all under control

*Linking up with Eileen for Into the Beautiful

The Scenic Route

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Self-Confidence or God-Confidence?

 

Our Oksol family memory verse for the week has been this:

“So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” Hebrews 10:35-36

I have been acutely aware of confidence-related feelings and thoughts this week.  Let me share:

Lately I have been awestruck watching my 10-year-old daughter’s sheer delight in herself.  It has been such a pleasure and a joy to watch her dancing in front of a mirror, or strutting around in new school clothes, just happy-as-can-be with herself.  And right after I enjoy these moments, Satan, the great accuser, perches on my shoulder and tells me, “Be afraid, this won’t last.   Soon she will become acutely aware of how she doesn’t measure up, just like every other good American girl does”.  Argh.  Confidence deflated.

A friend of mine who does not have an intimate relationship with Jesus asks me how she could improve herself and lists off all of her redeeming qualities she sees in herself. “I am a good mother”, “I am a kind person”, “I don’t have anger problems.” “What else is there?” she asks me?  I am hit briefly between the eyes with some jealousy—What I wouldn’t give to think I had it all figured out!  What I wouldn’t give for her confidence!

A friend of mine who is struggling with alcoholism calls.  “Erin, I did it again, I drank.  How can I do this?”. I tell him confidently the three simple steps to staying sober: 1) You can’t; 2) God can; 3) let Him!

And then it hits me!  This confidence thing becomes confusing to me only when I am trying to find my confidence based on worldy standards.  My confidence comes and goes like the wind, shattered by the smallest of insults, when I am trying to find my confidence based on worldly standards.

My beautiful daughter’s confidence in herself will, and has, been shattered at times when she tries to measure up to others.  My neighbor feels she is measuring up only because she is not trying to willfully please the Lord and she is only trying to please her own self-esteem and the esteem of others.  And my alcoholic friend can only find strength to conquer his disease when he completely lacks confidence in himself and surrenders all of his power to the Lord!  Amazing!

So the Oksol family Bible verse of the week is telling me some very important truths about confidence that I don’t want to miss:

1)   When I line up my wants with the will of God, God is going to richly reward me! I can be confident about that because the Lord says it is so!

2)   Don’t be fooled by the world’s definition of false pride. We are not to have confidence in ourselves but what God can do through us when we obey and do His will. 

3)   And the next time you confront fear about doing the Lord’s will, and you become weary, feeling as though you don’t have what it takes, remember:

  • I can’t

  • God can

  • I think I’ll let Him!

Glorifying God with you,

Erin 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me Time

The day begins as most others do. I tend to unclean dishes floating in a moat from last night. I sweep remnants of dog hair my steam mop left behind. I microwave frozen pancakes, button shirts, tie three pony tails, and we’re off the school. 

I give a kiss and wave goodbye over a herd of new shoes and backpacks. I hop behind the wheel ~ destination Wal-Mart. Every mama knows even a trip to Wal-Mart is enjoyable when your alone

After standing in the checkout line for thirty minutes, my buggy and I bounce across a busy parking lot. I wiggle back into the driver’s seat only to discover the crushed Goldfish I’d been sitting on the whole time. I let out a sigh, roll my eyes, brush off my back side, and keep on going. 

On the way home, I turn up my country music to a maximum decibel. The base bumps and my groceries thump. I can barely hear my phone ring over the jiggling plastic bags and 2 liter Cokes rolling around. The voice on the other end announces, “I’m sick. Can you take me to the emergency room?” 

Oh, how I enjoyed “me-time,” even though brief. I think, “I only have one hour left before high-tailing it back to school to pick up my Kindergartener.” I say yes anyway. 

I sometimes get caught up in “I deserve this moment.” Don’t you? 

There are times I think I should be able to enjoy a mundane grocery thumping morning without interruption. Times I should be able to relax, put my feet up instead of helping one more person. After a long day of driving and homework, shouldn’t I be able to sit down without underwear to fold or a nose to wipe? 

The truth is that these “I deserve this moment” thoughts aren’t scriptural. No where in the Bible does it say I deserve a reward here on earth. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” The verse doesn’t end with after you do this hard work you deserve a spa day and some “me time.” It does end with, …since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” 

I drive downtown to pick up my sick friend. She and her little girl wait in the scorching heat. They wait for a ride. They wait for mercy. They wait for help and help finds them. 

I’m amazed at the things God can accomplish in and through me when I am obedient to his command to stop and love people. For me it’s about the stopping. It’s about pushing the brake on my day so I’ll notice. I’ll notice the person in need, the one God places in front of me. 

That hot day, I only wanted to do mundane mama things and go home. But I paused in the rush because my heart told me to.

I only provided a ride to the emergency room. I only gave her little girl a Capri Sun and a snack pack. But Jesus gave her hope. Hope that he sees her hurt, understands her pain… even if he has to use an over-extended, wild-eyed mama like me to show her.

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