December 09, 2014

Trust

This word and I aren't very good friends this week. I haven't been good at trusting anyone or anything this week, particularly the God who is truly the only One worthy of trust. Or maybe the more accurate thing to say is that rather than place all my trust in the One who is worthy of that trust, I have allowed Satan to slowly creep into my mind and thoughts and put more trust in what he says than what my Creator says.

Over the course of the last week the children of several friends have been baptized or accepted Christ. This started the chain of thoughts I never should have allowed to continue. "Why haven't my children accepted Christ? Why aren't my children asking more questions? Digging deeper? What have a done wrong? What else can I do? I mean, I homeschool and we memorize tons of scripture, we do lots of service for others, we spend tons of time at church, we listen to lots of Christian music, all the right ingredients are there, so what in the world is wrong with my kids?!?!?!  What have I done wrong? What do I need to do more of?" (I know, drama queen much?!) Then one morning as I was crying and praying about this in the shower (it's the quietest place to pray sometimes. Can I get an amen, moms?!?), I heard God say, "Do you trust me?" "Well, I do, but you see, I don't know how much more time any of us has on earth, so it's really important that they are saved now. There may not be time later." "Do you trust me?" I had nothing to say. It was clear that I didn't. It was clear I wasn't really even making this about the kids or God, I was making it all about me.

Later that day we were reading our book about Corrie ten Boom. No matter how many times I read about her or her family, I am just humbled and convicted by their faith. I want that faith! I want my kids to have that faith. It was while reading that day that God reminded me Corrie was in her 50's, her siblings and father even older, when she was displaying this kind of faith. Don't get me wrong, her family was faithful for their entire lives as far as I can tell, but it wasn't until they were much older that they were called on to display it so radically. So carefully. At the risk of their lives. It reminded me of something a sweet, wise friend had told me earlier when I mentioned to her how I was feeling, "I'm glad my daughter was older when she was saved. I had no doubts it was her choice and she knew what she was doing." You see, we're all different. Some of us are confident in what we're doing from the moment we are born. Others of us need more care and time.

But really, it all comes down to trust. Do I trust that God loves my children? Do I trust His word that says he desires that all come to salvation? Do I trust that He will care for, provide for, lead, guide, and reveal Himself to my children, even if His timing and means for these things don't match mine?  I watched a video of Jen Hatmaker last night from a Right Now conference and it was just what I needed (God has a way of doing that, right?) There were two things she said that really grabbed my heart. First was, "If God reigns over my kids, I don't have to worry about anything else." Do I believe that He reigns over my kids? That he is sovereign over both of their lives? Can I trust Him? The second was that loving people to Christ takes time. Now, I now this is true. I have seen it in our work with Afterschool Adventures. But, I'll be honest, I have never really thought if this in terms of my children. But, why would it be any different. And let's be real, others see the "better" me, my kids see the "real" me. Why wouldn't it take them longer to see God in me, see His truth when I am in the way? I must remember that just because the result isn't immediate that doesn't mean that God is not working, even in my children.

Can I trust Him when I feel lonely and as if my prayers never reach Him? Do I trust my feelings or do I trust the God who created me? Do I trust my Savior who says I am loved, redeemed, and His, or the voice in my head that says I am unwanted, unloved, and alone?

Oh, Father, help me to lean on You. Lord, teach me to trust. Teach me to trust You alone, with my whole heart, in every area of my life. This has been a hard week. A hard year. I've been weary, lonely, frustrated, scared, and untrusting of so many people and things. Much more than at any other time in my life. Lord, I don't want to live life that way. I want to live in complete trust in You. Trust that you will provide for our needs, bring salvation to my children, bring healing to my husband, show our family how to serve You with our whole lives, that you will lead and guide me to be the wife, mother, and servant needed by my family and those around me, and to learn more and more about You each day. Lord, help!

December 05, 2014

Love Comes at What Cost?

This has been a long, crazy, full week. But, what we did to start the week has had my mind spinning all week. The first thing we did on Monday was to purchase food for the food pantry so we could bring our donation to the Kidz Choir musical this weekend.

In church a few weeks ago, I gave a challenge to our church in reference to bringing food. I challenged them to do three things: be intentional (make a specific trip to the store to get your items rather than just pulling things from the back of the pantry, take your children with you and let them pick out and pay for their items), shop as if you were shopping for your own family, and pray over the food you purchase and the families that will receive the food. I shared this challenge because God had challenged me with those same things. I had no idea how much this would affect me when we actually got to the store.

Even though I had been feeling the conviction of this challenge for weeks, when I got to the store I was still tempted to get the cheapest and easiest things to grab and get on with the day. I really had to force myself to slow down, let the kids lead, and when I did, God broke my heart. I was amazed at the love, care, and excitement with which they were racing through the aisles to find things to give to others. Some things they saw and just wanted to get because they thought it would be yummy and others they really thought through. Without me having to guide them they wanted to get things for spaghetti and tacos because that would be two meals for which we could provide everything but the meat. They each picked out their favorite cereal. We worked hard to get as much healthy food as we could, but we also wanted to spoil them a bit, too. After all, Christmas breakfast for some families may come from the food pantry. We wanted them to have the chance to have something as special as we would. The kids chose a Cinnabon baking kit. We also got some of the small essentials, spices, peanut butter, jelly, etc. We did spend more than I was planning, but as the kids and I were there I couldn't help but think of all the ways we had been blessed, that though it was more than I was planning, it wasn't more than we could afford. It truly was a joy and a delight to choose things and think of the way families may enjoy each item. The joy my kids had in picking things out was so contagious. I am so thankful we did that together.

Of course, it also got me thinking. What price do I put on the love I give to others? Do I draw my own  lines and decide what's too much for me to give? What takes too much time? Do I decide when it's just too much or do I turn my life over to God and say, "Use me! Fill me with You and use me until I am empty, then fill me again." Do I love all people, as I encourage my children and others to do, or do I really only love those who are like me or who are easy to love? Do I stretch myself and pour out all I have and all I've been given to serve the God who gave His very life for my sins? What things in my life need to change? What needs to stay the same? How can I be the example my kids need on how to trust God, love Him with all my heart and soul, and giving all I have for the Savior I claim to love.

Oh, Father, stir my heart to love all of Your people in very real, tangible ways. Give me a heart for loving and encouraging others. Give me boldness to declare Your love and Truth to those who do not know You. Draw my children to You and mold them into godly people who love and serve You with their whole lives. Lord, begin working, even now, in the hearts and lives of those who will be receiving the food we purchased. Use this small act of love to reveal Yourself to them. Give our staff a chance to pray for them when they come to pick up their food. Show our church body, and my family, how to genuinely love, respect, and serve those who come to our food pantry.