Public Confession

Release Yourself


  
As I was having some quiet time this morning, my heart was just aching for other mommas and parents and ministers and friends that I know need a change in their lives, but just haven’t done it yet.

 I’ve heard too many mommas talk about just needing an hour, or a get-away with their husbands because it’s been years of focusing all on the kids. 

I’ve heard ministers speak about their exhaustion in ministry and need for refreshment. 

Parents who know they’re neglecting their health, but feel too stuck to change. 

I hear these confessions and hear a lot of them, friends, and as I was sitting this morning and thinking of those faces who do so much for others, but feel guilty to invest in themselves – be it a massage, or supplements to support their stressed body, or an hour in a morning for quiet moments – my heart just ached

I had 4 minutes left in my “personal study” time, so I opened up Hands Free Life and within a page, this stuck out to me. The author Rachel had painted a picture of a young bride whom she spied at a hair salon. The pained, overwhelmed look on this lady’s face brought her right back to her younger years and what she wishes she could tell her 27-year-old-self, as a 40-year-old-woman. 

You are going to feel a lot of pressure in your lifetime- pressure to do things at one-hundred-and-ten-percent performance level, pressure to look and act a certain way, pressure to be all things to all people. You’re going to think  that the pressure is coming at you from all directions, but in most cases, it’s not. That unrelenting pressure is going to come from one place: you. So do yourself a favor, dear one. Take the pressure off. Take the pressure off now- don’t wait until you’re forty. In fact, don’t wait another day. 

Ahhh. Do you feel that sigh in your soul? That longing to free yourself from the intense pressure? The ache to actually allow yourself to do the thing for YOU that you know your spirit and body need for refreshment? I bet the people who care about you would agree. 

I bet your best friend would say, “Yes! Do something for your health!” 

I bet your spouse would say, “Absolutely! When are we going on that adventure?”

Because they know your heart and have its best in mind, just like you’ve been having their best in mind for so long. 

A perk of not living in America is I get to watch her from a removed difference. I get to feel her racing pulse without living in the over stressed, run-down, exhausted, but I-can-do-more attitude. (Yes, I’m not utterly immune to her lure, nor do I claim perfection, friends. You know how broken and real I am!) Sure. I’m seeing a lot of her through emails, Facebook messages, and IG posts, but I see what you’re sharing, America. I hear your tired parts, your exhausted selves, your ragged bodies poorly fueled by Coke & cookies ( In my most stressed, self-imposed-pressure days, I lived on fast food & lean pockets & creamer-laden coffee!). And I just want to remind you – that you, my sweet and precious soul will do more for this world when you’re rested. You can serve longer, give deeper, make greater change when you’re fueled well, rested properly and when you’ve said NO to more. 

I don’t have the answer for your situation. Ok, I actually do. It’s called Jesus and rhymes with “Hod” because I have only found how to rest from believing the truths He’s said about me. What I mean, is I don’t know what your rest needs to be. 

But I know you need to release yourself from the pressure. It’ll feel really awful and awkward at first, but it’ll get so rich and full that you’ll look at yourself a year from now and wonder, “How in the heck was I living like that?” 

And until you do take that brave step, I’ll keep listening and holding your stories and praying for the courage for you to take the pressure off, dear one. Don’t wait until your forty or sixty. There’s a whole lot of life to be enjoyed. 

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Categories: just for fun, Kingdom Coming Related, Public Confession | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Turning . . . and Refreshment


It’s our furlough. We’re on a long trip. Sometimes it feels like vacation. Other times it’s just plain exhausting and weird. Yet, here we are. With a bit of desperation and hope we search for refreshment. We reflect with wisdom (we hope!) and tell our story and wait for others – and God – to speak words of challenge . . . affirmation . . . acceptance. . . encouragement . . .

But, ultimately. We search for refreshment. We long for the eyes of our hearts to be bright and eager.

“The Lord will guide you always, he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land, and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

Isaiah 58:11 had become a hallmark for our furlough. A prayer. A heart’s cry. A proclamation that if we sought His guidance, we would be satisfied. That if we trusted his hand, we would be strengthened and refreshed. Because, friends, everyone needs some refreshing. The Lord created Sabbath for man to rest. He instituted years of Jubilee and times for land to lie fallow because even ole Mother Creation needs rest. Needs time to pour in nourishment and put nothing out.

So imagine my surprise and bit of turmoil when I ran across this scripture in my morning Lent reading (not too late to join me! 43 days more!).

Image-1

So, I really, really, really want the “seasons of refreshing” that “may come from the presence of the Lord”. I mean doesn’t that sound goooood. Soulful, rich, deep, and satisfying. Doesn’t that feel like the earth sighing when it finally rains? Or sleeping in Saturday morning, only to ease out of bed, wrap your hands around a warm drink and sit on the front porch in stillness? Just repeating the words soothes my mind . . .and spirit . . .and muscles . . .

Seasons . . . of . .. refreshing. . . .

Times. . .. .of. . … . refreshment … . and rest. .. .and restoration . .. and rejuvenation 

which comes . .. . from . . . the Presence of the Lord. 

It is from meeting Him. Seeing the Holy. Grazing the elbow of the Divine that I might glimpse refreshment. But there’s that one other bit . . .

But first, before that other bit, we must examine the reputation of “re”.

re-

prefix\
1.indicating return to a previous condition,restoration, withdrawal, etc: rebuild, renew,retrace, reunite
2. indicating repetition of an action: recopy, remarry

To be made fresh . . . again. To be juvenant and juvenile in energy and dreams . .. again. To return to a previous condition of grace and peace and vitality and wholeness. It is this expectation that it will happen over and over. It’s not a once-off return. It’s not a one-time energy boost. In the essence of these words, there is a root of the acknowledgment that often and always we will need to get back to the root. We will need to connect to The Source. We will need to tap into the True Vine .  . . because we forget, or work really hard. We spend ourselves for the poor and neglect the selves in front of us  – inside of us. We get swept up in the beauty of doing, that we eek less and less time out for being.

Life is hard. Ministry is hard. Loving people is really, really hard. Loving ourselves is really, really hard. The hard shouldn’t make us avoidant, but make us ready. That we might prepare ourselves. Arm ourselves for the struggle of it. Be equipped and prepared. Knowing the wounds in ourselves, so that we might heal and help offer water to the others suffering.

But there’s that other bit . . .

“Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out. . .”

There’s still something in me that cringes at that last bit of language. Too  many years of hearing about a God who was scary and wanted to smite me, instead of a God who’s gracious and just. But let’s just go with it. Let’s roll with the language and accept it for Who it is.

The repentance. The returning to truths. The Recommitment to goodness. Again with the “re”. The knowledge that this will always need to happen. We will need to return again . . .

. . .. and again . . ..

. . . .and again . . .. forevermore.

Because I get swept in the busy of doing, and forget the critical nature of being. I get selfish and self-important, believing I can toil with my own strength. That I can love with my own heart. That I can serve with my own hands. That I have enough. That I, alone, am enough to save the world. And that begets suffering. It creates sin. It is sin. And not in this nasty, hellfire and brimstone way. But it a way that separates us from God. Because of His perfection we cannot sit with in (for long) in our filth. His very presence calls us to be clean. To BE WHOLE, friends. To be good, again. Because we are. We are enough. We are whole. We are good. But it is only in Him that we find that completion. That Oneness.

But I forget. And need reminded. And need repentance – to confess my I-Can-Do-It-All spirit. My self-important ways. Because it is only through this confession that I turn from my twisted ways back to A Source of Joy, and Peace, and Light that can only come from Christ. It my returning to him, I’m reminded of who I truly am. How this faith I have can move a mountain. How this Well of Life I know will never run dry. How this Manna I eat will always fill my belly. How I will be satisfied in a sun-scorched land and be like a well-watered garden. 

And so, this time of Lent is of stripping it down. Of laying it all bare. Before myself. Before My King. Before His Throne. Lent is a declaration of my inability and nondesire to BE ALL AND DO ALL ON MY OWN.

 

Categories: Public Confession, Swaziland Updates | 1 Comment

Momma-ing


Our last week has been tough. All kinds of things came to a head under this grass roof. 

Cedar started out as this gentle, easy baby who slept great, hardly woke at night and ate like a voracious crocodile (you’ve seen those cheeks, right?). Around 4 months that changed. She’s still sweet and gentle and easy-going, but only when she’s playing. When she gets hungry, she doesn’t want to eat. She’d rather play, try to catch her daddy’s eye, stare at the banana trees or wriggle around than eat. In fact she launches herself away from me. (If anyone dares to mention something about my milk not being enough or her needing solids or food or pickles or to stand on her head, I’ll reach through this phone and slap yah!). She arches and wails and flings about as if to say, “ahhhh!! The boob!! Not the boob! I don’t want to die!!!” If I wasn’t so busy holding her on my lap, I’d video this so I can laugh about it later. It started funny. But 6 weeks in, I’m a bit over it. 

And then all the sudden her naptimes became crazy too. I won’t even go into the inconsistencies and my inability to get much done during her naps. This was keeping me from going places and being with people because I’d have a baby who didn’t eat and didn’t nap and forgive me, but I got a tad overwhelmed. 

Fast forward to desperation and frustration. Yes, night times were still mostly great once she fell asleep, but naps! Oh they were rough. And not just for me. I mean, the little dear was tired! Overtired! And her blockhead parents didn’t know how to help. Bless her soul for her patience and continual love for us. 

Desperation met a really great “sleep training program.” It’s worked for loved ones. It’s worked for friends. It’s worked for a lot of people. It did not work for us at this time. 😞I tried! I wanted it to work! Some naps were better, but we all ended up sleeping less at night and Sean and I were at each others’ throats for 3 days. Finally. At 12:30am, I pulled the plug. I said, “No. We are not doing this. We are fighting and she can sense our anger! We will not try this again until we have come up with a unified approach. I’m bringing her to bed with me!” So we played in bed until 1:30. I ate a snack (in the kitchen!), Cedar had a snack. Then off to peaceful sleep she went. 

We all woke up a bit groggy the next day. And now her cold (oh yah! She had her first cold and fever and starting to teeth all in this last week, too!) turnd into MY cold too. I felt like crap. And pretty much treated my family like crap, too. 

Enter a somewhat frustrating day over “now what?!” when it came to naps. We improvised and she napped in the carrier some, cried a lot, didn’t eat much, and I kept checking those diapers. Pee meant we were hydrated. Dry meant I started to worry. I found a new book (because the programs and books always work, right?) and voraciously read with one hand, while I rocked that crib with my other. 

Thursday morning, at 5 am, I got frustrated again and thought, “This cannot go on!” So after finally getting little miss back to bed, I told Sean I was going for a walk. Me and Jesus, we did some talking. I did some confessing and venting. And I realized, I was tired. And an idiot. I was a tired idiot who had done it again. I had gone on facing tough choices and new roads with only my measly brain and efforts to support me. 

Lord, I’m so sorry. When it’s just me, I’m tired and cranky. I’m impatient, easily frustrated and consumed with forcing things to be better. I’m selfish and inconsiderate when I’m doing it on my own. Oh! But it could be different! It needs to be different! With your indwelling Spirit, I could be kind, patient, loving, peaceful, fun, and easy-going. I could be fun, Lord. I could have something other than this baby or her sleep patterns to discuss with my husband. I could snuggle her and play and enjoy her. And I’ll bet the sleep stuffs will sort out better when I’m relaxed. I bet she’ll eat better when I’m not bracing for world war 3. Oh! I’m laying me down. Fill me up today, cuz you know I need you something fierce. 

And, well, what more is there? I cannot be lovely or patient or full of grace without Him. And I really want all of those things. My family needs me to be more of these things. 

So I recommitted myself to living with the Lord’s presence and the Spirit living through the me. Who cares about housework? What’s it matter what I get done today? Loving my baby and loving my husband are enough work for this day. 

And the last 2.5 days have been amazing! I have God’s patience. It took gentle reminding to not growl in frustration when she’s wailed and thrashed and threw herself back. I quit trying to force my timetable on this little human. Instead, I remembered that she IS a little human, my precious little one, and she deserves respect and kindness. And she deserves for me to build a relationship with her – to know her likes and dislikes, to get to know how she feels most comfy to sleep, how she likes her food, which toys she giggles with, when she needs quiet, alone time, and when she needs to be with me. 

So after a hairy few days of “sleep training” aka failing, 2 sick people, and a renewed Spirit within me, our days are so good. So bright. And you know what? Naps and nursing and bedtimes are so much more fun! Plus, they’re actually happening without crying or fussing – at all! It’s amazing how easily I forget that my death grip on control only sucks life from me and my family. Yet, my open palms of surrender to Christ brings fresh, vibrant, joyful life to this grass roof and the people who love under it. 

 Cedar on Friday. Drifting off in her milk coma.  

  

She woke up, played quietly with her lovey, then fell back to sleep. No tears. No protests. This momma was thrilled!

  

She and Thor have finally discovered the other one existed. She loves his fur, and he’s keen for the extra attention. 

Categories: Family Life, Kingdom Coming Related, Public Confession | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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