The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Straight from the Lion's Mouth

He rescues and He saves;
He performs signs and wonders, in the heavens and on the earth
Daniel 6:27

"Here's your Night-Night, Josh. Here it is!" Emma Faye squealed in delight.

"I know," Josh replied. "I don't want it right now."

Ah, the Night-Night. Josh's little lion he has slept with since he was a baby. Although, one would never know he was a lion. It's missing eyes and hair, and his fuzzy tail is completely gone. It's mane is a ring of matted fur balls. But he's still smiling. Why wouldn't he be? He had won the heart of a little boy.

Lions. I've had my mind on lions today. I suppose it's because I am in Daniel and spent some time in the lion's den this morning. I love this story. I think it's amazing how the Lord closed the mouth's of those beasts. The king's call to Daniel on the morning after so resonated in my heart today...

"Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?"

I remained on that question. It's a good question. It's a GREAT question for one living in doubt or overwhelmed by daily tasks of living and running a household. Has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?

I am preyed upon by the mouths of lions everyday. The voices of fear. The voices of "not good enough." The lies. I hear the whispered what-ifs and the if-onlys. Lions, I tell you. However, I have begun to realize that my real problem is not battling the lions. It's battling the lions, alone. I can't do it by myself. How strange it would be for Daniel to walk into that lion's den and think he could defend himself against their strength. He trusted in something greater. So often, I approach my trials first and foremost by looking for ways to deliver myself. I am frantic and filled with hopelessness. The impossible task becomes just that...impossible. That's because I wasn't meant to rescue myself. That's what Christ did on the cross. What would my day look like if I would pray in faith for the Lord to rescue me from situations. From loneliness. From sorrow. From discouragement. From sleep deprivation. What would it look like for me to trust in Him to rescue me, instead of me coming up with my own remedies. Instead of searching facebook for friends to connect with. Instead of feeding my pain with chocolate. Instead of injecting my body full of caffeine to make it through another hour. What would it look like for you? Have you asked yourself the question? Do you believe this God whom you serve continually can really rescue you from your lions? Does the way you handle hardships in your life expose this as truth?

What's so beautiful is that He wants to show you. Let Him. Why as women, and even men, do we need to be so strong that we can't allow ourselves to be saved. We call ourselves "saved"- for those who believe in Christ Jesus. But we don't allow ourselves to be saved day in and day out. Jesus talks about faith, as small as a mustard seed, is able to move mountains. For me, faith in the small things is harder than the big things. If it's something that I can somewhat handle or control on my own, it's a struggle for me to relinquish that to Christ. But I know He cares about me. I know He loves me. I know He wants to carry my burdens. He bore my sins on the cross. He desires to lighten my load.

Lord, help me allow you to rescue me. Help me serve you faithfully and when I must walk into those lion dens, strengthen my faith. You are strong enough to rescue me as I place my hope in YOU.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Full Day, Full Heart

We were in a stare off. That is, my daughter and me. It had been a horrible morning. I was already wearing a "mood." Chris had signed up Josh with a new speech teacher and we were to meet this lady downtown- at 10am. This involved getting everyone in the car at 7:40am to get Will to school. Come back. Feed Thomas. Dress Emma Faye. Dress myself. Help Josh find his shoes. Wait for Chris to email directions. Wait for Chris to email directions. Get back in the car and leave the house no later than 9:15am.

After construction traffic, detours, and 5 minutes of looking for a parking space, we found ourselves in front of Clinic #2's reception area, out of breath and 6 minutes late. whew. Needless to say, this was the last place I wanted to be with three of my four children. I was so angry that everything takes so long. I was just SO irritated. They took Josh back and I was left in the waiting room, happy for the TVs blasting the Disney Channel. I didn't want to have to entertain anyone or even talk. I just wanted to "zone out." Emma Faye was happy. Thomas- well, he's always happy. I began to retreat into my own world.

But Emma Faye, in her "happiness", kept lifting her dress over her head and elbowing me in the face during the process.

"Emma Faye, please stop doing that. We don't need to show our panties. You're bumping into me. Please put your dress down," I said in such a cool and calm "Mommy" tone. Instructive, yet kind.

She did it again- as if she had forgotten what I had said.

"Emma Faye, what did Mommy say? Please stop lifting up your dress." My tone was a little more stern.

This time she looked at me and lifted up her dress.

"Young Lady.. DON'T YOU DO THAT AGAIN!" (when the 'young lady' or the 'young man' s come out, my children tend to pay more attention to me)

But Emma Faye stared at me. She had dropped her dress, but she kept her hands on it as if she were about to lift it up again. I was watching her. We were now in a stare off.

I remember thinking. I'm just going to look away. I don't feel like having to deal with this. We are in a public place. I already notice the parents watching all of this. What would they think if she does it again? They've totally heard me put my foot down. Oh, Emma Faye please don't do it again. Please don't. I'm going to look away. Then, I won't see what she does. Yeah.. look away. I'm looking away.

And I stopped myself. God never sees our sin and looks away. He stares down right to the bottom of our heart and brings it to our attention. He addresses it. It is NEVER ignored by HIM.

Praise the Lord God Almighty that He never looks away. He never gets fatigued by our rebellious hearts. He ALWAYS strives to grow us and teach us. He ALWAYS follows through. He is strong. He doesn't care what people think. He is truth. He is righteous. He cares about our sin. He never "zones out." He loves us. He is truly FOR us.

I have no idea why that thought occurred to me. But I was thankful and in that moment, empowered as a mother. Sometimes I get discouraged as a parent. I've read so many books. I've looked to so many different people for advice and input. What an excellent parenting teacher I have in my Heavenly Father. He is slow to anger and so quick to love.

Emma Faye never lifted her dress again. Josh came out soon after and we headed back to the car. As she was screaming on the way home because her older brother was kicking her seat, I passed an old church sign. It read, "Love is Patient." I smiled. Thank you sweet Jesus for teaching me two lessons in mothering today. Thank you for reminding me that you are patient with one of your own particular daughters..... me. We picked up Will from school and headed home. With a car now full of four precious children, my heart was overjoyed; my cup, overflowing.

The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
Make your face shine upon your servant
and teach me your decrees. --Psalm 119:130-133, 135

Sunday, September 5, 2010

wherever I am

This weekend has been a bittersweet one for me. This was the weekend we had reserved my parent's beach house for the Labor Day holiday. It was supposed to be our trip (just the six of us) to celebrate this past hectic spring, the birth of Thomas, the move, the new job, the new school - our new life in South Carolina. But we didn't move. Of course, the trip from Birmingham was too much to travel in such a short time, so we canceled.

This morning, while a sick little Thomas rested in his crib, I stayed home from church and sat out on our back patio and felt a little sorry for myself. I should be sitting on the beach right now. Instead, we are here and I'm having to stay home from church, which I so desperately need because my child is sick. I did mention I was feeling sorry for myself, right? :)

I opened my bible. My reading was in Ezekiel and the gentle morning sun cast it's light on this particular passage...
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone. - Ezekiel 11:16.

After this past year, I don't believe in coincidences anymore. I know everything has a purpose and I know God has purposed plans for those He loves. He knew I needed to hear these words this morning. He knew my heart; and He knew my heart was feeling scattered and far away from home. My bible commentary went on to say, "God was a sanctuary for the righteous remnant..... the faithful exiles, even though they were far from home, would be protected by God." God's entire purpose of the Babylonian captivity was to bring back the hearts of His people.

I'm not saying that staying in Birmingham was some sort of punishment for our family. It is SO far the opposite. It has been such a blessing. Chris and I have seen God move in powerful ways in our marriage, in our parenting, and even in our relationships with friends and family. It was His precious grace that awakened our souls and opened our ears to His voice and guidance. It was a decision we never saw coming, but glad we stepped out in faith and made. We know God wants us here right now. He has been so kind as to affirm it again and again. But it doesn't replace home. Home feels far away this weekend. It just does. But I want to be where Christ wants me to be. He has grown all of us closer to Himself during this process. It has been good.

I don't know what you are feeling far from tonight. Perhaps your life is far from what you had imagined as a young dreamer. Maybe your family dynamic is far from lining up with your ideal. Maybe you thought your husband would be home every night for dinner. Maybe you thought you'd be married by now. Maybe you thought you'd be making more money. Perhaps your children are far from perfect. Maybe YOU are far from perfect and you think you should have had it all together by this point. Aren't we ALL living far from something? Do we allow that distance to keep us from all Christ wants to redeem? I am constantly amazed and astounded by the great links Christ goes on our behalf to return our lives to Him. Sometimes, His sending us far away becomes the means by which He keeps us close. He is my sanctuary.... wherever I am.