Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Story

I can remember going on a missions trip to Mexico when I was a young teen and feeling inadequate to share my testimony because I felt I didn’t have one. It has taken me all these years to finally see the story God chose for me. 

People stand in wonder when they come to find out how I was as a child. How I don’t remember a time that I didn’t love the Lord. How I smiled and laughed at everyone and had a sense of peace about me, from infancy. How I felt his presence as a kid and would cry my eyes out just thinking about how much He loved me.

 How I would close my bedroom door and worship him for hours and hours with music and dance. I would write love notes, poems and prayers to Him and memorize Psalm 139 over and over again.

I would burn the midnight oil discussing theology with my dad and loving every second of it. I would think about philosophical questions and ponder those thoughts for days, weeks even. I noticed that where others might have seen just a pretty flower, I saw God’s awesomeness and creativity. Where others were tucking God in nice little boxes and placing it in their pockets, I was seeing God bigger than life and infiltrating through everything. I saw life through a God-filter and I’m not sure why. I felt that everything was interconnected, and that God was in it, working, moving.

I was much more of a Jesus freak then I led on and I still am. Growing up it pained me that I didn’t have a specific day and time that “I asked Jesus into my heart” so I would ask Him over and over, scared to death I would go to hell if  “I really didn’t mean it.” How much more I still had to learn! As I grew up, it was hard for me to understand why others may not have felt the same way I did. I gradually came to realize this was His gift to me, to snatch me up and never let me go.

This is not to say I lived a perfect, sinless life either. I made lots of mistakes, I faced peer pressure with the best of ‘em. I never thought I was better than anyone else. I experimented with the world but probably in different ways than a lot of others. My conscience was too strong for me to ignore, I had a hard time overcoming it when the waters were tested.

It wasn’t that I was always following a bunch of rules for rules sake, but I had experienced the very love and affection of God.

I don’t think, even today people know just how much God loves them. If they did, I’m convinced they would fall on their knees and never get up. As the Psalmist says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high, I cannot attain it.”  

This incredible experience, this amazing relationship was my motivation, my reason for my decisions.  This deep and powerful love kept me from a lot of strife. Did it keep me away from experiencing all strife, no- but a lot of strife? Yes. I don’t have a prodigal son story like so many have. I don’t have an ‘I was lost and now I’m found’ epiphany. I felt deep within my soul that He found me as a babe and kept me so close to His heart. That was His doing for His purposes. It was so pleasant there, so reassuring and peaceful that I never left. I would look at others and just want them to know this living God who had everything they could ever hope for or want. I knew God was the only one that could open eyes and hearts so I just stayed on the side lines a lot- watching, hoping, living my life. I found this quote the other day that kind of puts it exactly how I felt.

 So this was my life. My story is God created me to love Him. In doing so I am complete in Him. I’ve felt this ‘wholeness’ my whole life, from the beginning. I can only hope I’ve had a positive impact on others but I’ve come to realize my true legacy will be through my three boys. I’ve been called, “so grounded, an old soul, compliant, always smiling, wisdom beyond her years, etc.” That’s all sweet and kind, but the truth is, I’m just a girl saved by grace and loved beyond anyone’s imagination by her Maker. I credit nothing to myself. I don’t have it all together. I am just like anyone else out there. This just happens to be my story. It’s not that exciting and maybe it turns people off. I fear people feel they can’t identify with me or I with them. That’s just not true. I struggle, I make mistakes, I offend people, I goof around, I judge, I laugh at stupid stuff, I ask for forgiveness (all the time), at times I think too highly of myself and at other times I think too lowly of myself. I am every woman with fears and guilt and insecurities.

Motherhood is not all flowers and butterflies… in fact it’s more like mud puddles and snot rockets.  At 6pm you won’t find me all put together with my perfect makeup, darling apron on sweetly calling the little ones to the table while they come totting pleasantly to the dining room with smiles and amicable and grateful dispositions.

 It’s more like me being frazzled, glancing at the clock every 2 minutes counting down the minutes before B comes home and can save me from the wild zoo I feel like I’ve been trapped in. About that time usually one kid is coming off the rails from hunger and the other two are tearing up my living room by building a fort out of every toy, blanket and object from their room. Trying to keep my sanity and make a healthy dinner I try blocking out the cries, accidental falls and such so I can calculate doubling the recipe with fractional units while trying not to break my neck with the random toys left on the kitchen floor.  

 I’m in the trenches feeling burdened by responsibilities, debt and plain ‘ole life. We’ve made bad decisions and I need humility and grace just as much as the next guy and I’m not afraid to admit it. I write all this to say don’t be intimidated or in judgment over someone else’s story. The one thing I know about God is that He loves variety. He manifests a different part of His character in different people. God loves to show a part of who He is in every single person. In me, I see His steadfast love. Maybe you have the same story or maybe not. It could be that in you He reveals his long-suffering, his order, his justice, his peace, his grace, or a beautiful combination.

When I hear someone’s story I feel honored to listen to yet another side of God in action. Let’s rejoice in the way God has moved or is moving in someone else. The story may have just started or more than likely it’s right smack in the middle. What I know is that unless you’re dead, He’s still writing it, revealing an important part of who He is in you. One of my most favorite things is just listening to someone tell their story because it makes me stand in awe of God that much more. His splendor is boundless and His variety simply immeasurable. So, what’s your story?  It doesn’t have to move mountains but it might be just the thing needed to move someone else’s. Share it every chance you get- it blesses others, gives them hope and encouragement and if that’s not enough I believe it makes God smile. J

Monday, January 14, 2013

God shows up at Wal-Mart too

It was a regular ‘ole day at Wal-Mart. I try not to despise Wal-Mart. I try and see the interesting people there as people like me- getting deals, feeding their families. So, they forgot to get changed out of their PJs. So, they might have forgotten to take the rollers out of their hair. It happens to the best of us, right? I keep walking, looking at my list, grabbing things, searching for produce bags that are strategically hidden in the weirdest corners. I am finding everything on my list and have that happy feeling that I may not spend a hundred dollars today.

As I’m rounding the aisle I see the sign for apple cider vinegar. My heart sinks. That happy feeling fades as I think how badly I wanted to get the “raw” apple cider vinegar I’ve been reading so much about. The regular non-raw stuff is for the birds apparently. The healthy raw stuff is where it’s all at. I already went to Earthfare for the week and forgot to buy it there and I needed apple cider vinegar for a recipe before I take another trip to Earthfare. Wal-Mart doesn’t have that, I had already checked before. “I’m going to have to settle for the non-raw stuff” I say to myself as I roll the cart closer and closer to the bottles of vinegar. I look at the variety and like a beam of light streaming down from heaven, almost glistening right in front of my nose stood the raw apple cider vinegar! It is the only one, no sign for it and totally out of place. Without thinking I grab it as if it might disappear if I don’t snatch it up immediately. I bring it toward my chest and without thinking close my eyes and literally say out loud, “He loves me!”  It is so funny looking back on it because I really was so excited, not because I found it but that He loved me. I actually teared up and stood there staring at it in disbelief for a couple of minutes. It was one of those times that you just know that God loves you.

Silly example? Probably… but in my simple life of Wal-Mart trips, three loud & wild boys, inside out socks scattered throughout the house and three day old bananas smashed and dried on my dining room floors, this was a shout out from God to remind me, “Even in the midst of the messy and hairy days that you live day in and day out, I still see you. I love you in the little things, how much more do I love you in the big things?”  For that minute at the grocery store you would have thought I just won the lottery… well, because I did. He is my million dollars. It’s in the little things that God likes to show up. Doesn’t he always? He picked fishermen to be his disciples, He was born on a pile of hay, He chooses the least ‘qualified’ and ‘holy’ to be His hands and feet and to pour out His love on. Remember how He chose the shepherds to follow the star to Bethlehem and worship Him there in the manger? I’m the shepherd. I’m the nobody that God sees and decided to surprise with His love. Sometimes His love is found through His precious Word and sometimes it’s found at Wal-Mart in the form of raw apple cider vinegar.

It wasn’t the fact that it was raw apple cider vinegar. It was the fact that He knew that finding that would simply make my day. He really does delight in us. I can’t help but think of the times I surprise the kids with something they really want. Their face, their eyes, their excitement… is there anything better? God is our Father, and He rejoices over us with singing. How often I forget the myriad of ways He loves. When He shows up in big ways it’s amazing and wonderful and awesome. We expect Him to show up big because He is God- the Creator of the universe, after all. We love Him for it and sing his praises and send out praise reports. I think it’s in those little things that aren’t even worth mentioning that He really delights in, those small everyday things that are just between you and Him. He knows they will encourage us, delight us and teach us to not miss the small stuff because that’s where He lives and moves and whispers His love for us. The mundane, the boring, the everyday non-holy events, there He is breathing on us His affection, telling us He loves us over and over and over again.