Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A struggling kind of day

Sometimes being positive is a real challenge for me. I believe the Lord has called His people to be joyful and peaceful people. For me sometimes, though, it's like a cloud of depression is hovering over me, and I feel as if I'm struggling to see everything through a haze of despair. The last few days have been that way for me. It's not something I'm proud of. It's not something I even understand. But it's still the reality I live with. Some people always see the glass as half full--I am unfortunately one of those who struggles sometimes to see the glass has anything in it at all.

On days when I am really struggling, the thing I hate most is how on the outside of everything I feel. It can seem like the world is rushing by and life is going on around me, but inside I am swallowed up by death and inner destruction. And while most of the time I am okay with meaningless social niceties, on these days I loathe them. I hate most of all when someone asks "how are you?" because I want desperately for someone to actually listen and understand how I feel, but mostly I realize that when most people ask that question, they aren't looking for a truthful answer. What they want is for me to participate in a social construct of greeting another person, but on these days I find it especially trying. I just want to be honest and say, "I feel like crap. I feel indescribably sad and alone." The thing is, I don't want people's pity, either. I don't want them to feel awkward. And I realize I would feel even worse if they did feel awkward because I would feel even more alienated from those around me. I know, of course, that God is still with me and for me no matter how I feel. But it's difficult to grasp that reality when my feelings run so strong. And I'm not trying to say that no one cares for me at all. That's not true. I have many nice friends who care about me but aren't especially close to me or seem to have no time. I get that, and I'm not looking to be someone's friendship "project". What I need right now is not for the whole world to understand and be my good friend. I don't need hundreds of acquaintances. I just need one close friend. One. Praying God will give me direction in this area.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Stone laid to remember this Place of Provision and Growth

It's really weird to not be on Facebook, having been on it for several years and now taking the month of January off. But it's been good too. I think it's easy to let what should just be a tool for networking and keeping up with what's generally going on with others become a crutch that handicaps us from building truly close friendships. It's easy to hit the like button on someone's facebook status. It requires slightly more effort and time to call a friend, or to sit down with one over a cup of tea and pray together, but I find it much more satisfying. I am not saying that Facebook is the bane of all....just that I've had to temporarily step back from it to fortify the real foundations in my life, of which Facebook is not.
We're in process this month of getting the house ready to sell...hoping to have it listed around the time following the Superbowl. It's weird though. As much as I am ready for God to open a door for us to live in a larger place, it's hard to imagine living anywhere besides this house, which, as cramped as it is at times, is still very much our home. Three of my five kids have been born while we lived here. In the Old Testament, in many instances, the people of God would build altars or lay stones to memorialize a place where they encountered God in a mighty way. I feel that this house has become a place I will look back on as a place in my life where I would build an altar to God. If I were to lay a stone of memoriam for the time we've lived here, I would have to note that our family dynamic has changed in this place. We're still not a large family by the definition many would use, but the energy in a family of seven seems to be exponentially greater to me at times than it was when we were a family of four. And while sometimes I am stressed beyond belief, I wouldn't trade these blessings for anything. This house has been a place for me that the Lord has used to grow me, and at times it has been painful to bear, and for some of my friends and esp. my poor husband, painful to listen to. Often true growth IS painful, I suppose. But I believe growth has happened here in all of us.

I don't know how much longer the Lord will have us here. It could be months, it could be years. But in my heart I believe that He will be opening the door soon for us to move somewhere else. And as antsy as I've felt to move, and still feel at times, I also realize what a place of blessing this home has been, what a beautiful place of provision and a testament to His goodness and His mercy upon us. Lately, it seems I am more aware of this than I have ever been, and for that I am profoundly grateful. I hope that I have been about the Lord's business in this place...about the business of loving and serving not just those in my home, but my neighbors and those the Lord has placed in my path. I know the Lord has been faithful to us in this place. It's my joy and hope that He will produce a steadfast spirit within me to serve Him, so that one day he will be able to say, "well done, good and faithful servant." Isn't that the best any servant could wish to hear from their master?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cooking and cleaning and chores, oh my!

Well, it's been a busy Sunday. We attended church this morning, where we heard an awesome sermon on Psalm 23. Did I mention it was awesome? It was. Then my husband took the eldest son to cub scouts to work on arrow of light requirements while the I took the rest of the kiddos to Dairy Queen and then grocery shopping at Aldi. Then we drove home and since then, I have been cooking up a storm. I made chicken potpie for dinner, prepared a breakfast casserole to go in the oven in the morning, had my oldest daughter make granola bars, and then cleaned the mess in the wake of our cooking fury. I did a menu for the week. I printed the menu sheet from http://proverbs31sisters.avirtuouswoman.org/. It's a cool website with lots of info to help women in their homemaking and growing in the Lord. Go check it out. I usually just plan meals for supper time, but I decided to be ambitious this week and I have meals planned all week for all three meal times...we'll see how it goes. Hoping to get my butt in gear this week and work out atleast three times. I don't know why it is so hard just to get to bed and get up at similar times, but for me it is. And that really makes it hard to get up early when I stay up late.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christian hedonism...the theme for 2011

Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
"Great is the LORD,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!"
28Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long. -Psalm 35:27-28

He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
-2 Samuel 22:20

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.....For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Galatians 5:1, 13-14
My husband and I have been listening in the car to FamilyLife podcasts the last few days on pleasure and Christianity. I believe these were timely messages for me as I've allowed myself to become very discouraged of late. While it is true I have many blessings, I really struggled in 2010 to have joy in my walk with the Lord. And as I was talking in my last post about Aslan's comments to Lucy in the dawntreader movie, I felt I had reached a place that my faith was lacking in the area of truly believing that there are purposes God has me specifically for that no one else can fulfill. Life is not supposed to be a dreary meandering, but an adventure that unfolds before us as God draws us closer and closer to himself. And so my quest in 2011 is to seek all that God has for us, to drink deeply from the cup that God has for me, and to ENJOY the plans of God this year.

It says in His word that He DELIGHTS in me, that He DELIGHTS in my welfare. Too often, I have perceived God as a benevolent, though weary father, who TOLERATES me. But that is not Biblical. He doesn't want my affections and give good gifts because he HAS to. He WANTS to. And maybe for some people, this is no revelation at all. But for me, this is a truth I know in my head but it has never felt real to my heart. It's my goal for this year that that truth would permeate me. I want every decision I make this year to be made with the mindset of seeking God's will and REALLY, TRULY believing that HIS will is GOOD. Not just Holy. GOOD.

I realize, of course, that doesn't mean the Christian life is pain free. But I can trust Him that pain He sends or allows when I am in the center of His will is not pointless, and He will not leave me there. Ultimately He intends for me to walk in victory. The enemy is powerless in my life because my father has all authority, and he's given that authority to me to be an overcomer. And life is meant to be a joy, not a burden to bear. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. And I desire so much that 2011 would be a year for me that the joy of the Lord is renewed in my life, that it overflows out of me to affect change in the world around me. This is what I feel like the Lord wants to teach me in 2011- how to walk in true joy. To be a Christian Hedonist.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Adventures

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

"It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
C.S. Lewis (Weight of Glory and Other Addresses)

Well, it's a new year. And I decided to deactivate my facebook account for at least a while, as I attempt to seek God more this month and his direction for my life. I took Kate and Joseph to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader today....it was awesome. It really spoke to me. I am such a covetous fool sometimes. Like Lucy who envies her sister Susan, I look around and see others and wish for their blessings. I feel lonely and not much loved sometimes, and wonder what it is about me that seems dull and unappealing. I think I needed the reminder that Aslan gave to Lucy in the movie, that she should not "wish herself away." Will edit this post later....have more to say on this.