Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I am a cleansed leper!!!

Our Lord - He just won't stop!  His love won't stop and His transforming hand won't let go of me. Every week I see it more and more - He is *always* at work!  He is continually wooing us to new depths of renewal and healing & love.   Interacting with Him & His Word always brings change.  We are so undeserving and He is so *lavish* in His love & mercy.   What a glimpse of heaven we experience every time we come into contact with His audacious grace

This week we discussed Jesus healing the leper.   I have heard this story so many times but this time, it sunk in!  The Word is alive & active - I am experiencing it!

Four  "small" verses in the 8th Chapter of Matthew:

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”   Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

As I studied this, the Holy Spirit kept nudging me,  "there is something very important about this. keep your eyes & heart wide open here. pay attention here!"

What He pointed me to first was simply the amazing COMPASSION that the Lord Jesus had to tell the leper "to go to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded" (4).

Imagine all the memories this leper had stored in his mind up until this point.  Memories of walking through that town and having to shout, "unclean" so people could scatter and not come in contact with him.  Many in his culture believed that leprosy was only put on people as punishment from God for sins such as pride or greed so imagine the shame & rejection he must have felt.   Along with the shame & rejection, I sympathize with him as his mind & heart were probably flooded with painful memories of isolation, inferiority and uncleanliness.   How gracious is our Lord Jesus to send him back through that town, now clean!?  I can picture that leper walking through the town - now cleansed - no longer a leper - to go to the priest.  Redemption!!!

The truth is - that leper - even though he was no cleansed - still probably had a heart &  head full of leprosy.  It wasn't enough to be cleansed... He had to *believe* he was no longer a leper!   Jesus gave him the literal, physical healing but His lavish grace did not stop there.  He spoke truth into Him, "be clean!"  Believe.  Live it.  BE clean.  Don't cling to your leprosy. Believe what just happened.

Then, the Lord helped Him *live* it out.  The Lord commanded him to go through the town to redeem all those painful memories.  He might not have let those memories be erased completely.. so that this leper would never lose his compassion for others who are struggling under their uncleanliness..... but He separated the leper from those memories.  He gave him fresh memories - He covered over those old memories - of walking through town - now cleansed!! To go show the priests & be a testimony to them of the Lord Jesus's lavish grace.

Praise the Lord!! I hear you Jesus.  Be clean!  I am clean!

Believe!  You will become what you believe about yourself.  What do you believe about yourself?  Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. 

As I sat in my closet one morning after this beautiful encounter with Jesus --- after a long 2 weeks of saying goodbye to Lennox (our doggie), sick kids, sick mommy, Daddy not available until 9pm every night,  fatigue, emotional & mental battles, and the average daily struggles with germs & routines & work & parenting & marriage & friendships....I was struggling.   In my vulnerable moments the past 2 weeks, the enemy was pulling hard on the biggest stronghold he has had in my life - this guilt over my imperfections & mistakes. (see previous post  Perfectionism )  Specifically, things I had done wrong with my first child when he was a baby and toddler, the same old thoughts that creep up every time I'm on a trip into guilt land.  I was a mess.  I go through this ALL the time?  Continually asking myself - why am I so weak in this area, Lord?  SO MANY of my blogs are about this cycle of pride/discouragement....or pride/guilt.....highs and lows.  I am ready to be freed from this stronghold!!!  If you are willing, please Lord, help me!!

As I cried out to Him, He brought to mind that lesson of the leper.... and I realized I had wandered away from Him because I had lost sight of focusing on how He sees me.   Remember, Randi... believe.  Become what you believe about yourself.  Do you believe what I believe about you!? Do you see yourself as I see you!?  Or are you still believing you are the leper, who you were before?  

So I looked back at my list of "I am"s (Put Off, Put On)  that hang in my closet and I looked for the one I thought He was speaking to me. The 3rd caught my eye - "forgiven" - which had Hebrews 9:14 listed next to it.

My heart about exploded when I read what verses the Lord had taken me to:


11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands,that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifersprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, *cleanse our consciences* from acts that lead to death,[c]so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 9:11-14

Yes Yes Yes!!!  I just felt my David pick up that stone and slay that giant in my heart & mind!!   He wants to battle for us!

His WORD is so POWER full!

You see - I can speak to myself forever, "don't feel guilty.  it's okay.  You confessed so He forgives you. He loves you"..... but there was no POWER in my words to myself.   Those words were not powerful because His truth had not sunk into my heart yet.

but I know it now -  He has forever stamped this truth on my heart!   I now have, forever - these powerful WORDS to use every.single.time I feel myself struggling with guilt over things I know I have confessed & asked forgiveness for.  He has given me practical help to be cleansed of this perfectionism and this cycle of guilt.

He has CLEANSED this leper not only from the penalty of sin but from this guilty, shameful conscience.   I am not a leper any longer.  I do not have to cling to all these painful memories I had when I was.

I do not have to punish myself any longer for any mistakes I've made - because He paid the FULL punishment.

I praise Jesus - my friend, my fighter, my giant-slayer, this healer & power-full Lord!!

Jesus paid it ALL.

  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.
  2. For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  3. And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  4. Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  5. When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  6. And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Perfectionism

Why do I struggle with these cycles of everything is fine (actually more than fine - overflowing awesome!!!)...and then the next hour, some little thing triggers something and I spend an entire day beating myself up, beating my husband up (not literally) and just feeling like I can not accept forgiveness.  My personality?  I am sure that plays a part.   Hormones?  Maybe.  But there's something much more going on here.

I can't let go of this condemnation sometimes, this condemnation I put on myself when I haven't met my expectations or my husband hasn't or my kids haven't.   When I start on this path of condemnation & destruction.... I can not let go of guilt.   And so many painful memories come to my mind that I hate about my old self & my past.   When I get in this condemning mode.... the longer Brandon (in his wisdom) refuses to engage with me, the more angry and angry I get until out pours all kinds of mess I was holding in that I didn't even realize I was still holding.  Anger because we are not good enough. Anger because we are "failing".

Anger because I am mourning over my imperfection & undeserved-ness and poverty of spirit.  I then stay angry because I do not accept the comfort He is offering.  (Matthew 5:3)  He offers me comfort... but I will not accept it in these moments.  I want punishment for everything and everybody.... even though I really don't.

Where do these thoughts come from!?!  I know they are NOT from the Lord!!

After one of these vent sessions....God is always so faithful to heal the damage I just inflicted and show me scripture that makes it every clear - I am loved.  I am forgiven. I am free.  He is so faithful to bring me a sister in Christ to speak truth into me and show me how I am sinning by holding on to guilt and not focusing on Truth.

This cycle needs to stop.  I can't stay on this rollercoaster.   I NEED to catch these thoughts sooner.  The all over the place, up and down - same conversation every 2 months over and over and over again.  I need off that ride!  I'm like that man tossed about with the waves because my heart & mind & eyes aren't focused.

After writing yesterday & talking to friends today, I believe I am getting to the root here.  Here is what I believe He is teaching me:

God does not command me to WIN; He commands me to LOVE.

I can not LOVE if I do not accept HIS LOVE.

I can not accept His Love if I am ignoring His Truth.

If I ignore His truth, other thoughts WILL replace that space in my heart & thoughtlife.

Even though I spend time every.single.day in His Word (it's one of my goals on my expectations of my day, you know) - I am still often somehow IGNORING it!!

I need to find some scripture that He can use to reprogram my mind when I feel FAILURE.  Scripture I can cling to right in that moment before the major Randi storm comes.   In those moments when I can't stand our imperfections.  When I am so impatient at how LONG it takes for ANYTHING to change.  When all I see is fail fail fail fail fail.

I am going to find them, write them down and focus on them.  I am going to learn to start reading them when I have the first inclination that my thoughts are starting to drift away from truth - not just after I have gone WAY down that path of wandering and have done so much damage.

I will not do this perfectly.   But I think this is the whole point.  I am not perfect.

My perfection is not the goal.  My personal perfection does not glorify Him.  The goal is more of Him, less of ME.  So that I can become the TRUE ME.  The ME I was always designed to be.  Not this flesh me... but this me that is being revealed more and more.   He WILL change me - I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind - but that is not the goal.

HE IS THE GOAL.  He is the heavenly treasure.  He is the heavenly rewards.

THE GOSPEL is all about HIM.   The gospel is not a shout at me to work work work and obsess over my personal holiness/righteousness so I can be deserving of grace.   The gospel is the message that HE is all.  and EVERYTHING finds its place IN Him.   The gospel is that I am not, cant not, will not ever be deserving of His mercy & love & forgiveness & the freedom from condemnation.  BUT that He offered it because that's just who HE is.  

It is NOT ABOUT ME.  

It is ALL ABOUT HIM.

I can't believe how hard it is for me to LIVE THIS!!!

That justice I seek so badly.... this thing in me that wants somebody to pay and pay miserably for all the imperfections I see.... that justice IS finished.   Praise the Lord... JESUS HIMSELF was willing to GIVE UP HIS PERFECTION and He took on ALL that sin & shame & guilt & blame and my sins HAVE BEEN punished.  It's over.  Somebody has paid.    It was Jesus, my savior!!

That cry & yearning for justice I feel is not a bad thing....it's just wrong when I forget that the crimes have been punished... even though He was undeserving.

THAT is how I will direct my thoughts:  the punishment I seek has been given.   Look at what He took for me.  Why do I live & act like there is MORE punishment needed!?  Did he not do enough for me?!?!!?! :(   This is so much bigger than me, my husband... this is about ME not accepting what HE DID.

He gave up His PERFECTION - He offered it right up - sacrificed it.   NOW --- will I follow my Savior, the One who took all punishment that YES I deserved?   Will I accept this gift, every single day of His great grace that gives me everything I could never deserve!?

Will I accept that He sees me as perfect forever - even as I am being made Holy??

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14

Jesus knew His followers would have this issue.  He told them:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

They would later understand...perfection is not attainable in self.  But it IS attainable through Him and He has gifted it to us.  The question that is left is... WILL we accept it?!?!

Will I give up aiming for my perfection that *I* could never attain anyway.... and instead accept His perfection that He gave up!? !

Will I focus my aim -  my heart & soul & mind & strength right on to my treasure, my reward - JESUS my Lord???

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Losing

Some days I am just SO TIRED & discouraged...not physically tired...just everything-else-tired! Today is one of those days.

Father - I'm so tired of this world.  I'm so tired of all that is wrong with ME and all that is wrong with EVERYTHING & EVERYBODY.   

Why am I such a weakling?  Why do I battle like I do!?  I can't carry this cross.  I am so tired of the uphill battle of living against the culture, against the flow of my flesh, against the masses.  It is so hard to learn to LOSE.   It is so HARD for me to keep my eyes on YOU,  Lord & value what YOU value, not value what the world around me values. It's so hard to find my value in you alone, Lord! 

I was the epitome of having a focus & desire to WIN WIN WIN and compete for the first 2 1/2 decades of my life.   I never came close to winning much of anything or being the best at anything.... but I certainly was one of the best at lusting after it.  The Lord has changed me!!! I didn't even realize how much until my children entered 'the world'.   As my children get older,  we have more and more experiences where we are surrounded by a focus on winning.  The lesson and focus is never about the heart...it's always LESS about trying your own best and instead it's mostly about just being BETTER than everybody else. Win win win!  Is this even about the children!?  or is mostly about the parents wanting to re-live their childhood???   I know the Lord has changed me... because everything discourages (disgusts!?) me so much and it makes me so sad.  But obviously, I need help on being faith-ful and keeping my eyes on Him and not being discouraged.

On a good day, I can pull my children aside at a certain point and speak truth into them and let them know that GOD sees them when they are not valued.  I can remind them what is really important and what OUR focus is.  But on a bad day, everything just makes me spitting angry.  On a really bad day, I have major urges to either withdraw completely from society...or stand on a table and shout out to every parent and coach and leader - everything they are doing wrong and why don't they get with the program and if I "have to" live like this and value the right things....... then you all should have to change, too....it's too annoying to be around you all that have different values!!!.... (yes that's a really bad day.  that's not me being salt or light).

But REALLY - Omgoodness the way children are recognized & praised for beating others and the focus on win win win.  What are we teaching our children!?!?!  Are we not training every single child to think their value is in their ability to "win" or do????

This message and lust seems to be showing itself in little ways in my family's lives. every.single.day...... sometimes it directly outwardly shouts and screams.... but often it's just a daily, 'small' message and focus.

I have a great focus on the heart in my children.  This is a gift from the Lord.  I make sure they know when they are competing, that I am simply enjoying watching them play and try their best.  That I LOVE watching them have fun.  My first words will never be, "you won you won you won".... instead, they will always be, "wow, that was so fun! I had so much fun watching you"..... but what if every.other.single.leader in their life doesn't support that message?  God, please help them hear MY words to their hearts!  Help them value what YOU value - which is not beating other players in the cubscout regatta or soccer match.

My flesh fits in easily in this world.  My perfectionism has a home here.  I know how to grasp, strain and strive to win.....I know how to get the edge over others, try better, have more discipline, more structure...how to appear to be a winner to others, fit in the winners club, set goals and reach them.

But my spirit is not at home here.  And this is not what my heart values any longer.   My heart & spirit fight my flesh.  So there's this battle raging.....

I know that the reason I am tired is because I am wrestling with the Lord.  I am discouraged because I'm distracted by the world.  When I am NOT wrestling with Him, I literally feel at rest.  I feel HIM as my rest.  I feel my burdens lightened because I have allowed Him to shoulder them for me.  I feel His grace & love & approval.

HOW do I do better at resting & not wrestling!??!

More often than not...instead of accepting His will & plan, including allowing Him to carry my burdens for me, I wrestle Him.

Why am I so fiercely independent & stubborn?   Why do I look for value in the world & what others think of me/us?   Why do we think that we are only as good as we are "excelling" and better than others?

Why do I think that the way to glorify Him is by being better than everybody and having people look up to me/us?  Where is that scripture that says that?  There's not one!

SURE, we ought to always try our best.  Sure, one can glorify God through the success He gives us through the hard work He helps us put in and the way He has gifted us....  But the truth is, God resists the proud.  I am proud.  He is resisting me (through circumstance and showing me through His Spirit) right back as I wrestle.... I feel it...because He IS the perfect Father.

He has changed me so much from my competitive spirit, yes.... but there's still so much more to go.

My flesh doesn't like to lose.  My flesh resists anybody in my family that makes me "lose" and I will force, control, nag until they do what I want so we can "win". (All the while, I AM truly losing what is most important in those times... love, trust, grace, bond, relationship).  My flesh wants to glorify God ONLY by winning.  *I* want to choose how *I* glorify God... now is THAT glorifying Him!??!

My flesh wants to glorify the Lord by being victorious & perfect in everything.  I want my kids to excel, win everything, do everything right AND be valued for it.   I want the world to see everything He has done in me and through me and praise it.  I want others to look at us and say gosh - the Lord is really with them - they have been so blessed in every area......don't we see that in the OT.  But wait... how did I get on this wrong gospel again!??!   The health & wealth & winning & prosperity gospel is not THE gospel.   The *blessings* God talks about in the NT is not about tangible things as much as it is spiritual!!!  How did I get here again?

I used to be a perfectionist in worldly things...but now I see my perfectionism has carried over to spiritual things.   I do believe I often have right motives much of the time --- I desire to glorify Him ---- but I am going about it in MYSELF which is the WRONG way and exactly opposite of what I need to do.

There is no place for perfectionism in this journey.... unless we are talking about our Perfect Lord and Savior.    This journey starts with being POOR in spirit, not rich in self confidence. This journey starts with meekness not amazing self discipline.

Self confidence & self reliance & a focus on self discipline above all will always lead to SELF righteousness and THAT is not the gospel message.  The gospel is the gospel of grace through Jesus.  The gospel that preaches that the righteousness I wear is not my own.  The righteousness He gives me is His and He gifted it to me.  I can not earn it.  He sanctifies me and that righteousness reveals itself more and more!!....but it comes out,  not because of an obsession with my personal holiness & righteousness....but through Him having more and more space in my life.

It is SO HARD to be so imperfect.

But the HARD is what makes this good.   The HARD is what makes this way narrow.  The hard is the cross I am to carry, until I lay it down at the Lord's feet.

Even as I type this... it sounds so silly to even say THIS is hard.  I am a weakling.  I know what others have endured....and THIS is such a small cross to carry, such a small price to pay.  I am so weak.  

I need some truth about glorifying God.  What glorifies you, Lord???

We glorify you in our surrender.  Through our dependence on you, starting with our poverty of spirit.

We glorify you by showing others that we are being changed by YOU....because you are transforming us by renewing our minds.  We are changed when we focus on you and see ourselves in your loving, merciful eyes, as you look at us through your Son.  We become what we believe about ourselves.

We glorify you by how we LOVE you and enJOY you.

The clay, ME.... ought never to be proud of how the Potter shaped it.  Or how the Potter picked it up and used it, in the Potter's plan and Potter's power.  The clay gives the most glory to the Potter in the surrender. In the complete dependence and rest in His hands.

I know that this tree of life, this tree of Christ I have eaten from and chosen is all about life for the long term...not life as I want it, right now.  It's about full, true, abundant, lasting life... in Christ.  I am also understanding that the way to get to that life is through death.  So few will choose this tree because it looks like death. It doesn't appear desirable good or pleasant to our flesh like the other option (Gen 3:6).  This death of self and the surrender to Him and His will & His timing & His plan is not easy.  We choose this tree through faith not because of the ease it will give us now.   It is with eyes of faith that we choose.... it's for the life set before us that we choose...it's for the joy set before us that we can choose this dying.  Just like our Savior.  I understand now how I can be one with Christ in His sufferings.   I trust that this death I experience....  it IS true life.

I've chosen the right fruit.  So I press on. I am not without hope --- because I know that I can trust that God is stronger than I am and He will wait patiently and work with me forever.  He will shape this clay!!!  Yes, I do believe I make Him work harder with all my wrestling & wiggling.... but He is gonna shape this clay!  Like the way He wrestled Jacob...Jacob wrestled so hard the Lord had to break Him to the point of giving Him a limp forever...a constant declaration of the Lord's mercy and grace to do whatever it takes to do what is GOOD for us.... He will keep working me until I have completely exhausted my strength and know in my desperation that I need to stop the wrestle, once again.

He WILL help me grow in complete dependence on Him.... and THAT is true, abundant life - and THAT is what glorifies the Lord!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jesus is the Answer

At the beginning, end, center & top of everything sits Jesus Christ the Lord.   The fulfillment of all prophecy of the Messiah for the Jewish people – and for the entire world!!!  The Savior & Mighty King.  Christ is the center of the Father’s heart and the Spirit’s focus.  He is everything and in Him all things find their purpose & meaning. The Lord is in the process of putting everything back under the Lord’s reign, as it was intended to be – and everything aches for it!!!

In BSF, I was asked this question, “Read Isaiah 40:3-5 which the Gospel writers and John the Baptist himself applied to his work (Jn 1:23).  How was John’s work among his people related to “valleys and mountains and rough places” as Jesus Christ was about to appear publicly?”   I love the Bible walk the Lord took me on as I answered this question….

The herald of the Lord’s coming was John the Baptist. His very existence was defined by the message he had to bring to the people – which was to Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near! (Matthew3:2)  He was preparing their hearts so they would see their need for the Savior & be ready to receive Him!! 

If my life is going to shout a message – I want it to be as clear & bold as John’s.   I want my life to say, “the Lord has come, the time to receive Him is NOW.   He is everything.  He loves you beyond anything you can imagine and He endured the worst suffering we could fathom to save us!   Because of Him, the kingdom is here!   He is alive today &  He is Lord of this eternal kingdom and He wants you part of it!!  He is coming back for full, visible reign!!  Don’t wait – accept Him now – be ready for Him!! He is coming back to take back everything under His reign.   Be in His kingdom when He returns!!! You need Him!!  Accept His offering & sacrifice, surrender to Him, He is Lord of all – turn from your old life without Him and face the Savior, look in His eyes, believe in Him!”      

John was fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3-5. 
A voice of one calling in the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

And John’s message still applies to us.  Make straight the highways in your heart to be able to receive the Savior!  Clear the way in your heart to accept Him!  The Lord Jesus is going to raise every valley, make low every mountain & hill and level every rough ground.  You need Him to - get ready for it!! 

The valleys are those areas of darkness, stress, despair in my life that I need escape from. I need light in. The areas of hopelessness.   JESUS is the answer for the valleys!!  John 8:12 I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of Life

The mountains are the areas of pride and ego and selfishness that need humbling – and JESUS is the answer for the mountains!  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” Luke 14:11

The rough places are the areas where I constantly stumble & trip and just can’t make smooth myself – and JESUS is the answer for those places, too!!  Prov 3:6  - in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight

Not only does everybody have at least one valley, one mountain or one rough place they need saving from --- but ALL people have LOTS of valleys, mountains & rough places!  Everybody needs a Savior!! But until they see that – they won’t realize they need Him.   I pray the Lord will use me to plant small seeds in people’s hearts to admit their need.  It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to convict & open people’s hearts to see their desperate state – and it also takes people willing to plant those small seeds into others, through example & through words. 

We must share with others how the Lord has raised up our valleys, humbled our mountains and smoothed out our rough patches.  But!! I see more clearly we can also point to the Savior by showing the areas we still need His deliverance!  We won't see in full all healing & redemption & things made right until He comes back fully & visibly.   Admitting that, will also point people to Jesus!!!  All things can be used to point to Him!  

Too many times, we think we need to only share how the Lord Jesus has accomplished great things in our life.....but where does that leave all of the people who are suffering & asking for healing & not receiving?  We must do both!!  Share how the Lord has answered and helped in ways only He could.  But also share how we are waiting & trusting on Him to fulfill all our needs and be our answer!!  Let people see our trust in His plan & time and that we know that if He doesn't answer now - He WILL answer fully, someday!  

Let that be my message,  Lord – that you are everything!  And we need you!!  You are the answer now and we will see that in full someday! 

Isaiah 42:15 – I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;  I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do, I will not forsake them

Jesus is the answer to ALL.   All questions, all imperfections, all struggles, all prophecy.


I want my life to boldly & clearly show how much we NEED Him and how much He is the ANSWER.  


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shepherding The Lambs

I thought I would share on here an example of how totally amazing God is as the Shepherd of my children.   Hopefully this will encourage some Mommy out there....or somebody who disciples others.

I am usually leery of writing about parenting...this still feels like such an area of weakness... but looking back, I am amazed at how far He has brought us.  In this lifelong journey of discipleship, it is amazing to me how it is just consistent small seeds, day after day, year after year that make all the difference!  This planting of seeds & tending the garden of our hearts happens so slowly that we can't even see or feel progress most times.... only when we look back, can we see how far we have come!

The verse that I cling to as Mommy and therefore the primary person that disciples my children (I wish there was a cool word for discipler) is Isaiah 40:11....

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
    He gently leads those that have young.

The Lord continues to give me more depth & understanding of this verse as each year passes by.

I understand now more than ever, that it is my role to do everything I can to follow the Lord as close as possible....so that my lambs will be close enough to be gathered in His arms, close to His heart.   Lambs stay close to their mothers, you see.... so the closer I am walking with Him, the closer my lambs are to Him.  

I can honestly say, when I found out I was expecting Raymond - I felt the weight of a soul & LIFE being put on my shoulders as I looked forward to this tremendous privilege & role I was about to be called to.   I am SO thankful that the Lord has shown me these past 7 years that my children are not meant to be carried by me and that weight I took on was never meant for MY shoulders!  ohhh my goodness, every breath feels so much lighter when I know that He carries these lambs.

These past 2 years in particular, God has helped me disciple these lambs in an un-programmed, unstructured, unplanned (by me) way that has been the most beautiful & touching evidence of how He shepherds.

I spent too much the first years, praying for the Lord to bless what *I* was trying to teach my children...but everything shifted when I stopped asking God to bless what I wanted to do in them...and instead, backed off & paid attention to their hearts & attitudes & daily life and looked for what The Shepherd was already doing and how He wanted to bless & teach them!  

So what does this look like?!?!   What could discipleship in daily life - unprogrammed, unstructured, unplanned look like!?

To me, it's just about creating opportunities for the kids to interact with Jesus...and to keep my eyes & heart open to God seeds whenever, wherever.

Like what?

1 - Talking about Jesus a lot.  Simply because I know Him so well & He is the most important person to me and I love Him and He is in everything we do.  Because when there are things to be thankful for, I have to thank HIM, because everything finds its purpose in Him and He created it all, so He should be thanked for all.   And because when we are sad or afraid, I want to make sure they knew that HE is our comfort because He is always with us & always loves us, no matter what.

2 - Practicing scripture together.  To lower the bar for anybody who is trying to get their lambs to memorize a verse a week or something.... we have been working on I Corinthians 13 for months and taking one verse at a time and taking an entire month (ish) to learn about that verse and practice living it out together.

This started because I realized one day that Evelyn (age 3) had memorized about 30 books word-for-word.....and I knew it was seriously time to let The Word sink into her like that.  These kids memorize scripture SO EASILY.  I don't want to teach them to memorize just to memorize, though.  I don't want to do Bible 'studies' with them.  I want to do Bible practices with them.  So we practice together.  And I have found that I need more practice than anybody.  

3 - Read & Pray together.  I keep my favorite children devotionals & Bibles on the piano, right next to the kitchen where we spend the most time (ha!).... and at some point just about every day, we grab one of them and read from it.  Usually it's in the morning at breakfast time.  Sometimes it isn't.

I am *amazed* at how AWESOME a teacher that the Lord is.  I mean, He is seriously in charge here and is seriously after my children's hearts.

An example of what He does?

What we are practicing right now is "[love] keeps no records of wrongs".... which is just so perfect, because it's summer time and is just me or does tattle tale -ing increase exponentially in summer time!?   I'm SO thankful I don't have to plan what topic to teach them... because He plans it out way better than I do.  I see that the Lord perfectly brought us 'keep no record of wrongs' right now... because the kids have been spending so much more time together than usual and lots more time together all of a sudden = lots more.QUALITY.TIME.TOGETHER... I am pretty sure every Mommy (and discipler) knows what I mean right now. I am just amazed at how God teaches them.  Every devotional & Bible story we have read recently has had something to do with forgiveness.

We read a devotional the other morning that talked about how far God removes our sins from us when we are forgiven.   I thought I was going to teach them about how to forgive people and forget things they did wrong.... but I realized after trying to teach that lesson, that children are so awesome and do NOT keep record of wrongs and that application was actually for me.  

So then the Lord lead me to instead talk about how we can let other people's sins against us go.... just like God lets our sins go so far from us.  Because really, God doesn't confront us on every.single.sin we do wrong.  God, so slow to anger & so patient - let's so much go as He tends to our hearts.  So just like our Father, we don't have to get upset and all bent out of shape (and come running to Mommy to tattletale) at every.single.offense somebody does against us.   We talked about how to practice this for the week.  And we said:

Step 1 - when somebody does something against you.  Breeeeaaaatthheeee.  Take a big breath and pause.
Step 2 - If it's not a safety thing and it's the 1st time they did it - Just Let.It.Go.   Walk away.  Forget.  Forgive.

And Evelyn pipes in with... "OHHHH Mommy this is just like when we walked out of the store and I LET GO of my balloon and byebye it was all gone forever"

YES Evelyn YES!!  So we practiced, "letting balloons go" all day long with each other!

I honestly never realized that "keep no record of wrongs" could mean... keep no record in the first place... I always took it to mean that all these wrongs that we have recorded....we should make sure we always throw away the records after they have said they are sorry & we have been reconciled.

The more I think about it, I really am not sure who is discipling who, really.  This is so very  humbling.

Soooo I think that's all I wanted to write here.

This is all seriously not as exciting or earth shattering as I'm making it sound.   I really highly doubt these lambs are listening to me at all most times we interact with the Lord.  The kids don't jump up and down when the Lord lines it all, even though I do.  We are talking seriously small seeds here,  people.  I get good quality attention for about 3 to 5 minute increments so this is for real a calling that requires that I focus on the long term view and have radical faith that these small small small seeds consistently can grow into the most beautiful harvest!!!!!! 

Thank you Jesus that YOU are the gentle Shepherd and that you gather the lambs into your arms and carry them so close to your heart.  I feel closer to your heart just being able to witness how close you are holding my lambs to you!  

God is so trustworthy & the best, good Teacher for all, forever!!!