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It’s been a journey, to say the least, between the last blog entry and this one. I’ve wrestled in my heart with being Okay that I am not a regular blogger anymore. I am more of a regular Christ-follower, wife, and stepmother and I’m okay with that.
But it’s the Easter season and my cat woke me up early with her hunger-yowling and the sun was out and it’s the day before Easter, when the disciples were mourning their Teacher and Jerusalem was coming to grips with an earthquaked, sun-blotted world and what they just might have done the day before.
So I just had to write. Easter weekend is important to me, meaningful to me.
But I used to get stuck in the Good Friday-ness of it all. I would certainly ponder Christ’s suffering on the Calvary cross and the utter sacrifice, but I wouldn’t be able to move beyond it.
Since we go to the I Need Jesus Church now, I knew this year’s Easter season services would be different than our previous church’s, which were full of symbolism, drama, and liturgy.
I actually liked that. I loved the Tenebrae service and the pain of realization that always engulfed me, the songs that haunted me in a glorious way. I seemed to feed off how intimately I would ponder Christ’s death.
But I tended to stay in the metaphorical tomb, weeping for Jesus who was clearly on the slab of stone before me.
I seemed to forget what God whispered to me yesterday at our Good Friday service: This is not how the story ends.
No, the story doesn’t end in darkness and the story doesn’t end in death.
But to my poetic, dramatic nature, that is what I feasted on: the intensity.
So can’t I realize the intensity of Jesus’ resurrection?
That is my goal this weekend.
To not get stuck in the tomb of Good Friday, but to join Mary on Easter Sunday as Jesus says,
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.”
I, too, want to exclaim, I have seen the Lord!
Because I have – in my children, in my husband, in my friends, in strangers, in circumstances that God puts in my way to make me bend low and lift arms high…I have seen the Lord.
So why get stuck in the tomb when no one is there to grieve?
Why nurture my propensity for depression if Jesus took that propensity away?
This is not how the story ends.
As an Esther, as a woman who was chosen for “such a time as this,” as one of so many people chosen for such a time, I know God calls me to look at the cross and see freedom, not bondage.
Jesus freed me.
Even when I fall back into bondage.
Saturday is a time of waiting. When Jesus’ beloved ones had to wait in their grief; they didn’t even know they were waiting. They thought it was over. They thought they were defeated.
How many times do you and I think the ending has happened and we are defeated by our circumstances? How many times have you thrown in the towel. It’s over, right? The pain has eaten us alive.
I’m sure the disciples thought they had been beaten; that their beloved Teacher, their Rabboni, had been killed.
But a three days later they would be reunited with Him and love would reign. They’d realize that His promise was real.
So let us wait in expectancy of Jesus doing amazing things. Jesus doing things that bring glory to His Father and our Father.
Wait with expectancy, knowing that it wasn’t over until Jesus showed us – that He conquered the grave, His love unfailing, the life found in HIm everlasting.
I needn’t get stuck in Good Friday anymore because I know the Hope and the Promise in Jesus Christ better than I knew it before.
And I take joy in that, even in my waiting, even in the waiting of Holy Saturday.
On knees, head low, arms high…
I seriously thought about not coming back.
Once you start to get spam comments awaiting moderation, you know your blog is having abandonment issues. And you start to wonder if you are a worthy blogger, if you should just give it up.
But I’ve had to fight lies a lot these past four months and I call “giving up” as a lie, too, though taking a break is not.
God actually told me to take a break from blogging. Much like He told me to stop writing poetry for a while.
It didn’t happen in one day; it happened over a period of time. I’d find myself yearning to go and blog and something would come up that needed my attention.
Namely, my family. Ah, there is that word I used two blog entries ago – when I said I felt called to serve my family more than I felt called to blog?
That’s still the case.
But on this snowed-in-Sunday where even church was cancelled, I find myself with a lot of thought and even some time on my hands as 3DMan is still asleep and the kids are with their uncle and aunt for the weekend.
And with Christmas so close, I thought I’d pop in and say hello.
A lot has happened since August.
AbsentTeen has returned home and while the transition was rough at first, I must say that my eldest has grown and matured in so many ways. It is truly a delight having her home and having her spirit be so healed. Miraculously, she is the most put-together person in this household right now.
Which doesn’t bode well for the rest of us, does it.
My Orange Rhino challenge ended a while back and things fell apart after that. Stress has a way of tricking you into thinking that being controlling will help the situation and then it eats away at your heart and at your family connections.
Suffice it to say, I am now on another challenge of Yell Less, Love More. I will continue to chronicle the journey when appropriate and hopefully encourage other parents to yell less and love more.
GlitterToes and I have had some ripples in our relationship. She is turning 10 next month and perhaps it’s my own resistance not wanting to see my last girl grow up into an opinionated individual, but I seem to be taking my irritability out on her. It grieves me and I must constantly seek the Lord for help in calming down and reorienting myself to His love and His provision.
Superboy is on his own mission to grow up. How dare they all grow up! Ok, half-kidding. He turned 7 this past Fall and he is becoming very Boy and less chunky-cute-toddler. Ok, he turned from that many moons ago, but I wasn’t looking. So all of a sudden he is using big words and having big feelings he needs help navigating. And still…he longs to be snuggled. I do treasure the fact that he still wants to be hugged and sung to. That might not last much longer and I need to hold these opportunities close. Hold all three children close.
I’ve since learned, too, that marriage is being constantly attacked by the enemy who seeks to kill and destroy. The enemy does not want to see godly families succeed and will use every insecurity and problem you have with your spouse to call attention to unhappiness, resentment, and bitterness.
3DMan and I have been fighting for our marriage for a long time, each in our own way. I’ve recently taken 2 Chronicles 20:15 to heart where God speaks through Jahaziel and says, “the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
I need to be putting on that armor of God (Ephesians 6) and I need to abide in Him and let Him abide in me and I need to stay in the Word and in prayer…
but when it comes to fighting for my husband…
God works in him, not me.
So my phrase lately has been, “lean hard.”
Lean hard on the One who can give me everything I need. The only One who can.
Lean hard on the One who provides all things, who makes all things possible.
Lean hard on the One who has it all in the palm of His hand.
There is that cliche, “let go and let God” but I’ve never found it to be so true as I do now.
Church-related news: we have continued to go to the second church. I will dub it We Need Jesus Church because I am so astounded at the transparency of the people there. It is the most beautiful transparency I have ever seen in a church. I feel so lucky to be there.
I have taken on a lot of hats at We Need Jesus Church and that has been an area where I’ve been tempted to lose myself and stray from the ways God calls me to serve. isn’t that interesting how even church can distract you from obeying God?
Let me clarify: I have started up a newsletter, started a prayer group, started a ministry of giving blessing bags out to the homeless, become a big part of the music worship team (which consists of two or so people, which is fine)…
and I wanted to do more!
Luckily, Pastor encouraged me to slow down and wait on God. And he is right. I have many good ideas to help our church, but I need to serve my family first. I’ve got to get my hierarchy in place.
4. church family
When home gets to be a hard place to be, i want to run to my church family and friends, but I need to run to the number 1 on that list.
It’s a process.
So that leaves me with Christmas. Last month I decided I wasn’t going to try to “make Christmas,” but let Christmas make me. I would let Christmas happen.
But my temptations got the best of me as I tried to get us all to do fun traditions I remember and when some members grumbled, I became very upset. When some were ungrateful, I spat at them, telling them they ought to be grateful.
Hhmm. Somehow I don’t think teaching gratitude includes yelling about how they should be grateful.
I found myself mourning the innocent, sweet Christmases of my youth and wanting to go back in time and be with my mother again.
All distractions. All attempts to lead me astray, away from the God who loves me and yearns for me to find joy in Him.
So that’s another process. Still allowing Christmas to make me and not me make Christmas.
Christ-mas. Mas in Spanish means more. I’m sure you’ve heard this. So I want more of Christ.
More of Christ.
That’s what I want. Every day, all the time.
More of Him and less of me.
it sounds easy, doesn’t it. But you and I know it isn’t.
And yet… it is.
There is peace and joy and love to be found in Christ. Who is it that makes it hard? Not Jesus. He stands by the door waiting for us to knock. He waits to give us so many blessings if we only declare that we receive.
So maybe it isn’t that hard in reality. But our own fleshly nature makes it hard.
So with all that said,
I wish you a Merry More-Christ and pray that you would feel and be in His presence more and more this season and every day after that.
I pray that we would each seek God’s will for us and obey.
On knees, head low, arms high…
So it occurred to me that the way I was handling transitioning from my old church to my new church was not unlike my old ways of breaking up with a boyfriend and finding a new boyfriend.
First, a disclaimer:
THE CHURCH IS NOT A BOYFRIEND.
AND ONE SHOULD NOT BOYFRIEND-HOP, ANYWAY.
AND I SHOULD HAVE BEEN WISER WITH GIVING MY HEART AWAY TO MEN IN MY LIFE.
With that said, it was a mighty startling thing when I saw words typed to my first pastor, like “I don’t know how this works. Can I still talk to you if I need to? Can I come and visit?”
I felt like a scared teenage girl not wanting to let go of the boy she so “loved,” though knowing it was in her best interest.
That pastor understands my insecurities and assured me I’d be welcome to visit anytime.
“But what about talking to you?” I asked, feeling my needy arms clinging to this human. “You know me so well. You were my first pastor when I became a Christian. Can I email you my prayer needs once in a while?”
And the pastor informed me he’d be taking my name out of the membership list and my name off this duty and that duty as well. He was grace-filled about it all.
It felt like such a loss.
And so I step into our new church. It’s so different. Smaller. Less ceremonial. Little to no ministries. No fanciness. It’s in the storefront of a strip mall in this tiny town.
It’s so different.
I’ve started to organize groups here. I’ve started a prayer group as well as their first newsletter. The church is only 3 or so years old. It isn’t as established as my former church. I don’t have the roots there as I do in the former one.
I like to know where I am and to feel safe. I like to know my surroundings and for my surroundings to know me. So when the Lord put it on my heart that, for my family’s spiritual sake, we needed to change churches in order to enter a new season of life, I resisted at first.
And it’s been a hard transition. I better understand why it is needed. And it’s not because of any fault of the first church. The second church is just different in how my husband and I feel it nourishes us.
But change is hard. This people-pleasing girl is having a very hard time with it.
At my old church, I struggle with going back and joining the praise team or helping out in worship. I am paranoid people are thinking I am conceited and worry they talk about me and our choice to move.
At my new church, I struggle with worrying that other people think I am too eager. After all, who am I to walk in there and after only two months start two different ministries? Besides joining the one other singer in helping out with worship music?
And then I recognize those old lies I’ve heard for so long:
The enemy hissing, You think you are so important, don’t you. Well, you’re not. You’re a drama queen. Stop drawing attention to yourself. It’s not about you. You’re so selfish. You want all the glory. You don’t do this for any God of yours. It’s all so you can look good. And that first pastor? He thinks you’re weak, misguided, a hypocrite. You should never show your face around there again.
And I want to then hide and cry in bed, fear and worry overtaking me.
I know some things to be true:
– If I feel worry and fear, that is not from God. It can be used by God, but it is not from or of God.
– my former pastor is NOT my ex-boyfriend and neither is that church. I’m not breaking up with anyone because I continue to serve the same God over at the new church.
– there are seasons in this life of ours. Ecclesiastes 3 says so.
– When God calls you to do something, go somewhere, say something, you do it – even if it’s hard.
– I serve people WAY too much. I ought to be serving God so much more than I am.
I was in my prayer closet the other night, praying about this topic. I opened my Bible and decided to read whatever random page I came across.
What I read was Isaiah 31.
“What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help,
trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers
and depending on the strength of human armies
instead of looking to the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel.
In his wisdom, the Lord will send great disaster;
he will not change his mind.
He will rise against the wicked
and against their helpers.
For these Egyptians are mere humans, not God!
Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits!
When the Lord raises his fist against them,
those who help will stumble,
and those being helped will fall.
They will all fall down and die together.”
— Isaiah 31:1-3
Those Egyptians were mere mortals, not God! Oh, these pastors are mere mortals, too! Those parishioners are mere mortals, not God!
Woe to me; what sorrow awaits for those who look to mortals for help.
And haven’t I always done that?
For most of my life it was looking to boyfriends to define me.
It seems that after becoming Christian your insecurities don’t go away. In fact, because you have given your life to God, the enemy thinks he can trap you easier – and you make a better target. He would much rather steal you from God than steal one who doesn’t believe. They’re easier targets, anyway.
So my need to feel validation from men did not stop when I joined church, when I was saved, when I followed Jesus.
Thankfully, God is merciful and just as well as loving and compassionate.
He has promised to provide me with everything as long as I look to Him.
As long as I look. As long as I seek. As long as I knock and ask.
He wants to be invited; he wants to be wooed.
I will seek to please the Lord. I will ask Him if I am saying things, doing things “right.” I will ask Him if I look pretty in this dress or if I sang that song well. I will ask Jesus if He can join me in conversation and listen to my lamenting. I will not focus on emailing pastors when in need. I will go to the Lord. I will not rely on my husband to fill every need; I will go to the Lord.
When your church becomes your ex-boyfriend, you are in deep trouble because it means that you are relying on Egypt for help.
And so I’m grateful for being a work in progress, for God being a God of second chances…and thirds and gazillions because He is loving and good. Grateful that God gives me a swift kick in the pants every now and then because there is no way I’d be having these realizations without His wisdom and strength. Grateful for the growth I feel every time I go through the refining fire.
And grateful that God will always take me back because I will always run back to Him. Grateful for His mercies and forgiveness, which are far more than I deserve.
Nobody should become more important than God.
No church, no pastor, no congregation.
Would you mind praying for me as I enter this next season of my faith walk?
How can I pray for you today?
On knees, head low, arms high…