So I'll start by saying I WANT SPRING!!! I cannot express how absolutely sick I am of looking out my window to white and brown everything! I want green grass and blue skies and the orange breast of robins. Perhaps a cardinal or blue jay thrown in for a splash of color. Definitely the purple and pink and yellow of tulips. I'm even looking forward to dandelions! Anything for color!
God has been moving in my life in very cool ways. Not only has He been showing me the many, many blessings He has bestowed on me, He's also been teaching me about being bless-able through obedience and being passionate for Him! I'll start to complain about someone and I feel the Holy Spirit nudge me, asking me if, at that moment, God would want to bless me. Or I get sassy with other drivers, grousing because they're in my way, and the Holy Spirit shines His light on the absolute arrogance in that thought pattern. I get angry over something stupid (in the past week Dar and I have argued over cookie dough...I wish I was kidding) and again, the Holy Spirit shines His light into my heart, and I see that I'm not bless-able when I'm disrespecting my husband.
God has blessed me so much and yet I wonder what thoughts, behaviors, words, and actions make my Heavenly Father choose to not bless me in those moments. What blessings have I missed out on??? I don't want to be the kind of person that He can't bless because I'm not listening to His Spirit when He shows me wrong thoughts and actions in my life.
I also see so much complacency and apathy in my heart that I desire to be eradicated by Him. This week our pastor's been sharing the verse that says our God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24), and that God wants us to love Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5) I love "The Message" version...
Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.
So that's my focus right now. I want God to absolutely consume any part of me that is not wholly dedicated to Him. I've learned, over the past five years, to trust Him completely for provision. He has provided for us unceasingly! I've learned, over the past two years, to trust Him completely with my children. He loves them so much more than I do, or can. He is the ultimate Father! Amazing, awesome, loving, perfect, full of mercy and grace. When He disciplines, it's not a harsh, punishing discipline, it's loving, directing, guiding discipline. Sometimes it's hard, that's for sure, but never harsh. I'm learning to love His discipline! I love it when He teaches me new things. when He reveals areas in my life that need work.
Just a few weeks ago He revealed to me through two very good friends that I'd been allowing the circumstances of my day to rule my emotions and words. My mood had been dependent on what "crisis" or events came up in the day. The smallest things grew in my mind to be a huge catastrophe and I was walking around with a black cloud over my head.
Following is an exerpt from an email from my friend that woke me up to this:
I may be overstepping my bounds, but I hope not. (she wasn't!) Often I hear you tell about an aggravation you’ve gone through and then you’ll say something like, “Welcome to my life.” Last [week] you told the story about running out of gas at the gas pump, and then expressed a desire to trade lives with someone (anyone!) else. And I thought, “Would you want to trade lives with Tina (who lost her 3 year old son a year ago after a 2+ year battle with illness) because of that? Or Gina (who has a child with a heart condition)? Or Ann (who's daughter has a muscle disease)?” I don’t want to see you empower our enemy by losing perspective on things that are really trifling matters of everyday life.
You are God’s favorite – and mine! – but you’re not special in this: We all encounter problems and setbacks on a daily basis – kids missing the bus; teenagers (or me) not finishing the laundry; cars running out of gas; having to cancel credit cards because of unauthorized charges; losing an hour of productivity because office equipment isn’t working; being stuck in an email volley for half an hour, explaining the same problem to four different people; and on and on and on. I’m learning from my own experiences that there’s no God-given benefit in dwelling on ordinary inconveniences and allowing them to rule my emotions and define my life.
And she was absolutely right! They were such minor, ordinary inconveniences that I was building up in my mind to be these huge crises! I had been opening my arms to a victim's attitude and crying "woe is me!" So I've changed my reaction to these things..instead of throwing my hands up in despair, I've been lifting my arms in thanksgiving and worship. God showed me that I'd been trying to appear self-righteous like "oh my problems are so horrible, look...I trust Jesus!" when in reality I'd been trusting only in myself. So I've laid down the "super-Christian" and "super-mom" and "super-wife" mantles. I'm not super anything! While I'm special in God's eyes, and loved by so many awesome friends, so are all of God's children. I'm an ordinary human being with ordinary problems and challenges and anything "super" about me comes from God!
So that's a glimpse of where I'm at spiritually. There is so much more I could share, but that's the most recent, foremost in my life right now.
Last week Dar and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. Thanks to God, my mom, and my brother Dan, we were able to get away for the weekend just the two of us! We didn't go far...up to Chaska where we stayed in a hotel on the river. It was lovely! We didn't do anything too elaborate, just enjoyed spending time together! So much of our time is spent apart, and when we are together we're dealing with teenagers and finances and schedules, just like most families. So it was wonderful to have the time to enjoy each other. We relaxed in the hotel room and then went out for appetizers at Applebee's late Friday night. Saturday was a short walk (it was only 5 degrees!), a movie, a bit of wandering around a mall, relaxing in the hot tub at the hotel, ordering in pizza and watching some tv (which is novel for us since we haven't had tv in our home for over 5 years). Sunday we got up and drove home to attend church at our church in St. Peter. We were going to visit a church in the Cities, but when it came time to go, we decided we'd rather go "home" :-)
You may be wondering how Casi is doing? I think she's doing awesome! I went to conferences at her school last Thursday and every one of her teachers had glowing reports about her. She comes to class prepared, takes awesome notes, does well on her assignments and tests, helps other students, is such a pleasant girl, they love having her in class...and on and on :-)
She's getting A's, B's and C's in every class except one, which she's getting caught up in, so that will be improving as well. So different from a year ago when she was failing every class but one! I stood there watching her interact with her teachers and was amazed. Who is this poised, confident, wonderful young lady standing before me? When did she grow into such a young woman?!? I'm so proud of where she is and how far she's come! God is SO faithful!
Pastor taught last week that we let "vipers" into our homes. Vipers are sin personified. We let them into our homes when we watch a show we shouldn't watch, look at websites we shouldn't see, commit sinful acts that we know are wrong. And once we "clean house" spiritually, repenting of those sins, there are still nasty viper's eggs in our homes and they hatch and then we deal with more vipers! And the only way to clear out the eggs is through prayer and fasting.
Last week was our church's 3-day fast, which I participated in. My main focus of prayer was freedom for my children from the chains that are holding them down. For Casi it was her past, her non-understanding of delayed gratification, and her disrespect for authority. She's come so far, yet we still have battles occasionally that wear us all down and wreak havoc on our family unit. I believe a breakthrough occurred through the fasting, yet when I walked into her room, I could still feel the old "spirit" of all that we've dealt with.
It all came to a head Friday night. Mom usually sleeps in Chris' room with him, but since he had a friend over, she wasn't very comfortable with that. Casi was at a friend's house, so I suggested she sleep in her room. Mom walked in and came out almost immediately. It smelled so bad in there, that she couldn't sleep in the room! I determined then and there that I would clean it the next day. I did it as a gift for my daughter. I did it as a physical symbol of wiping out the final remains of the viper's nest that she's been living in spiritually. And it turns out I did it as an emotional cleansing for myself.
It took me six+ hours! I cleaned out her closet where she keeps the litter box and food/water for my mom's cat, who Casi is watching. I don't think the litter had been cleaned for a verrrrry long time! And of all the nasty things I've done as a mom in the past 15 years, that's by FAR the grossest thing I've ever had to do. I shudder to even think about it! I swept and scrubbed her floor, sorted through her clothes and hung them all up in her closet. I picked up all the garbage strewn on every surface of her floor, washed all of her bedding and pillows.
I found some things I would rather not have found, and had a good cry in the middle of it all, but overall it was a "cleansing" activity (pun intended!) physically, spiritually and emotionally.
So I've been working on this post now for 8 hours on and off. There is so much more I could write about. But I'll just have to try and write more often! :-) I'm off to bed with my handsome hubby...God bless you all and good night!