Friday, September 30, 2011

Beach Bliss

I have not blogged in a few days because we have been at the beach.
I love the beach.
I sit out there and watch the waves and listen to them break up on the shore and feel the beach breeze on my face and I just melt into it with a deep breath in and slow exhale out. The beauty of His creation and the splendor of His majesty. I sat out with my girls on the swing one morning and we read from the book of Job...

 "Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And I placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop’?
Job 38:8-11 

Sitting out there this week I selfishly told God that I would be completely okay if He chose to call our family to ministry at the beach. However, deep down I know that the beach would not have the same effect if it was the norm of my life instead of the time of momentary escape.

Not that I don't love my life, but sometimes it's just nice to downsize and simplify and lay all the "stuff" of life aside and just focus on worshipping my God and enjoying the family that He has given me. It's so easy to let the things of ministry and family become a burden of responsibility instead of an outworking of inward love and devotion.

It's so very easy to allow the distractions of life make me feel as if they are sucking the opportunity of worshipping my God right out of me. I can feel the "Ugh!" rising up in my throat now as my mind already jumps to the list of commitments that come with tomorrow... and even some that I really probably should go ahead and take care of tonight... but I must get all this out of my mind and heart into a page or the stirring will not stop and I will never get to sleep. (This blog has become my journal instead of my journal becoming the blog... not sure yet if that's a God thing, a good thing, or a good-grief thing.)

There really is nothing I had rather do than write and teach about my God. The "Ugh!" rises up for all things that interrupt that. I know it should not be that way, because I am to do all things as unto the Lord... all things includes cooking supper for my family (no matter the battle scars I add to my body from it), it includes washing the dishes, the laundry, the floors, the bathrooms, it includes being a taxi, a doctor, a counselor, a friend, a vet, and the bestes dog hair sweeper upper in the county.

Sometimes we just have to step back and remember the why and trust in the Who and know that our God is with us and that He understands our life distractions and we all just simply were not called into a full-time paid ministry position.

Although in all honesty I have at times asked God why He didn't make me a man so that I could have held that position (and it's not the "position" but just the "permission" to go into a room and shut the door and say I am studying, I'll come out when I am done, I get up at 5:30-6am and hope to get a couple of undistracted hours in before the house wakes up).... or even let us switch denominations so that I could justify me holding such a position, then I could afford a maid to do all this other stuff that I see as distractions... then I would be jealous of the maid, because my family would see her as the one who is meeting their needs and not me... oh well.

Yes the craziness of my thought flow...

I love what I read this week in The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer:

Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him, after each excursion away from Him, the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window.
I would emphasize this one committal, this one great volitional act which establishes the heart's intention to gaze forever upon Jesus. God takes this intention for our choice and makes what allowances He must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world. He knows that we have set the direction of our hearts toward Jesus...

And Jesus knowing their thoughts... Matthew 9:4

But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart,... Luke 9:47

I would have to say that one of the most freeing realizations ever is the fact that now that I am in Christ and I desire to honor Him and live a life worthy of His calling I find peace instead of fear when I think of Him knowing my thoughts and my heart. There was a day when I sought to hide what was in my heart, when I wanted it covered up and hidden from God. I wanted God to look at all the good things I had done and judge me by them... but now I cry out to Him to judge me by my heart because I know my works will never cut it.

There are too many distractions for whole works devotions... but never to many distractions for whole hearted devotion...

So even though I very much enjoyed my momentary escape of beach bliss. The chair sits empty once again at the shore while I get back to the things of my life. There are bills to pay, lessons to plan, weddings to attend, birthday presents to purchase, laundry to wash, rooms to clean, budgets to balance, classes to teach, meals to cook, kids to cuddle, husband to love, dog to yell at, and above all a mighty and awesome and understanding God to worship and serve with all my heart who sees me for me and loves me unconditionally.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Take Me As You Find Me

I have been married for over 12 years and have been with my husband for over a total of 13 years. There is absolutely nothing about our marriage that statistically should foresee it as any possibility of being successful. According to the statistics that might pop up on your msn or yahoo news home page or even some of your christian media we should be destined for divorce.

However, these statistics do not factor in the grace of God.

There have been ups and downs in our marriage. There have been good times and bad. Life happens in our marriage. Issues, circumstances, junk... it happens.

In all this 13 years of life that has happened I can honestly and with all my heart say that I love my husband now more than I even imagined I could, even when I first spotted him and felt that flutter in my stomach as I watched him walk by and the "crush" began.

Our church put on a block party this past weekend. We had live bands that came and played. While I was sitting in the tent listening to one of the bands play, they began to play one of my favorite songs, Mighty to Save by Hillsong. I sat there and worshiped my God and then I heard the lyrics "take me as you find me, all my fears and failures..." My heart caught in my throat.

God whispered in my throat caught heart, "Nicole this is what marriage is about"

I took my husband as I found him. All his fears and failures came with the package.
My husband took me as he found me. And all my fears and failures came with the package... I came with alot of failures and alot of fears that mainly were formed from these failures.

My initial desire was to hide these fears and failures in a neatly tied up package in the back of my mind tucked away in a file labeled "Do Not Open EVER!"

For thirteen years God has been pulling at the string of this neatly tied up box and I have screamed, "No God, please, no... God, don't make me open that box"
However, God has a way of doing what is best for us... even when we can't see how in the world it could even be in the vicinity of good much less best.
That's why He is God and we are not.

God knew that if that box would open and the rotting contents could be opened up I would experience a breathe of fresh air in a place of my soul that had been tightly shut for years from fear and shame and not only that I would see the love my husband had for me in a whole new and secure way. I would see that he really did take me as he found me, with all my fears and failures, and he would love me with grace and mercy and compassion.

This is what marriage is about.

Everyone needs compassion, everyone needs a love that is never failing, everyone needs the kindness of a Savior, what an absolute divine thing marriage is as two people take each other and all their fears and failures and fill each others lives allowing God to use them to love this person to Him.