Friday, August 31, 2012

Oh, to be Uncommon!

Earlier this summer, my younger kids (6 & 4 yrs) were in a big discussion about how babies came out of the momma's tummy. As I eavesdropped on their conversation, I knew what was coming. My 6 yr old son approached, hands on hips, "Mom, where do babies come out?" Quick prayer, "Lord, give me the words. Let me say enough, but not too much."

I answered honestly, "God made a special path for the babies to come out. Normally, the baby comes out a hole between the mom's legs close to where the pee comes from. Sometimes, a baby is stuck or there are other problems, and the doctor has to cut the mom's stomach across here [pointing to the lower abdomen]. That is how P1 was born because he did not want to come out of Mom's tummy."

Of course, P2 asked, "How did I come out?" "They told us you just slid right out the regular way. All 4 1/2 pounds of you," I said smiling. And Sweet P asked, "How about me? How did I come out?" "The regular way," I answered.

And suddenly, she was stomping and pouting, arms crossed, clearly mad. I said, "What's wrong? Why are you mad?" She exclaimed, "I don't want to be just plain!" Suppressing the laughter, I explained that it was better for the baby and the momma, if the baby is born the regular way. Honestly, she was not convinced, and it's really no surprise. The only thing plain about this girl is her favorite flavor of ice cream - vanilla, which she calls "just plain."

In reflecting on this, I was struck by that desire to be special, to not just be regular, plain, common. This morning I was overwhelmed by my common-ness. A groggy reading of my morning devotion. Stumbling to the coffee maker. Tripping over the mess on the stairs. Digging through unfolded, clean laundry to find clothes for DH and kids. This is simply a common life. I am not striving to serve my family with joy. I am not reaching to give God my best. Where is that yearning to be uncommon?

When I was in grad school, a professor challenged me to find a life purpose statement. After much thought, writing and re-writing, I decided on, "To give the extraordinary, when others expect the ordinary." Guess, like Sweet P, I was yearning to be more than plain.

So here I am today, confessing my common-ness. I've been getting by, dwelling in the ordinary. Holy Spirit, Let me not be content to be plain. Pull me and prod me. Help me only desire to be set apart ... extraordinary.

I am gonna do it. Will you join me? Let's strive to be extraordinary. Let's reach for the uncommon. Let's be transformed and set apart, so there is no doubt who we are. After all, we are the daughters of The King ... and, as Sweet P would tell you, princesses are never plain.

Romans 12:2

New International Version (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Psalm 4:3

New International Version (NIV)
Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Covenant Challenge

I had this whole long big ol beautiful post written out. I wrote it a couple of weeks ago positively determined to be on time today with my post (cause as I'm sure y'all have noticed, the word "deadline" isn't really in my vocabulary)!

But I reread it yesterday morning and was about to post it… and as brilliant as I thought it was (it was about loving and supporting "failures")… I just couldn't post it. Like… I literally could NOT post it. Kind of weird.

Or, kind of… God.

(Oooo, I coulda used that one in high school: "God told me not to turn in my homework." I'm sure that would have worked! Haha!)

Anyway, sorry for the rambles. But, I figured out why I "couldn't" post… cause God was gonna speak to me later that day... and then again today.

Cause this morning, I had reworked another post... a post about how Satan is waiting for us to be successful so that he can nuzzle his way in and create a gap between us and God. Was almost finished with the post... and then, an almost audible voice told me not to publish that one either. Ugh. Now, I was realllllly late.

And then came my afternoon prayer time, and it started out like a lot of my prayers "Uhhhhhhh... hey God. Uhhhhhhh... what's up? Uhhhhhh... not sure what to pray about..." and then my prayer dramatically (and randomly) shifted to talking about making covenants with Him.

As you may, or may not, know... in January, I made a covenant with God to eat vegetarian for a year, cutting out all sugar (cause I was pretty hard core addicted to the stuff), and seriously limiting my bread intake. And I decided to write my own devotionals every day during that year in an effort to gain my strength and motivation from Christ, within whom I can do all things. And, so far, it has been an amazing, life-changing, mind-altering, soul-reviving year for me.

Yes, my body looks drastically different from the way it looked before, but more importantly, my soul looks drastically different than it did before. Losing a bunch of weight has been nice, don't get me wrong, but finding the freedom from being addicted to food... that has been the most amazing part! And today I was praying to God thanking Him for the self-control that He has given me (cause I naturally have pretty much zero self-control), and I was thinking about all the different parts of my life that seem so out of control... my eating was the first one, my time-management, my approach to mothering, my spending, etc. and I was starting to get excited thinking about covenanting with Him to rid the sin out of each of these areas as I have seen Him purge (and continue to purge) the sin of gluttony from my life. And well... I just wanted to share a portion of my prayer-journal with you:
More and more I want to covenant everything. Maybe that's a lifestyle in and of itself... to covenant everything in my life. To give everything to You, God. What... what a life I would have... simply put: a life like Christ.
And wow... He truly, truly gave it all, didn't He? He completely gave over everything to You and your power. He truly covenanted His LIFE. He covenanted His death...for me. 
It was such an awesome moment... for now that I have covenanted with Him, I understand a bit more that pull that Jesus must have felt... standing there in the Garden, struggling between his human self wanting to keep His life and his God-self knowing that He had a covenant with God to sacrifice it all in order to give us the gift of righteousness. For the first time in my life, I understood this verse a little: "I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!" (Philippians 3:10-11).

So, all of this rambling to say... look at your life. I think we all have areas of our life that need to be completely taken over by Christ. Well, I would just encourage you to seriously think about letting Him completely take over that area. Make a covenant with Him. Like, I recently realized that my "prayer life" pretty much consisted only of praying continually (also known as sporadically) throughout the day. I never sat down to really meditate or talk to God, so I covenanted with Him to sit down for the fifteen minutes after I get both of my sons down to nap... to pray. Just fifteen minutes. But it's not a deal with myself. or with my pastor. or with my husband. or with anyone. It's a deal with God. And I'll stick by a deal with God... because, well... because He. is. God. And already, just ten days in, my relationship with God has exploded to a whole new level. Who knew? (Well, He did... of course).

I just know that a covenant with Him this past year has changed my life... And I want to make sure that you guys know that a covenant with Him could change your life...

I pray that you consider it... I pray, sisters, that you might "want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead."

Monday, August 20, 2012


Recently, I hit "that time" of the month and had the most unbelievable cravings for, you guessed it, CHOCOLATE!  No surprises there.  That happens pretty regularly, month after month.  But for some reason, this month was much, much worse.  You know what I mean - where you are looking for last year's Halloween candy, stray M&M's in the bottom of your purse or even considering eating those bars of unsweetened chocolate in your pantry.  I mean, they are chocolate - how bad could they be?!?  Okay, so it wasn't quite that bad but I did find myself sneaking chocolate chips out of the bag in the pantry and giving in to the boys' pleas for candy as we checked out at the grocery store (just so I wouldn't feel bad about getting a piece myself). 

After surviving those rough couple of days and spending some extra time walking the dog to get rid of the extra calories, it struck me - why don't I have those kind of cravings for nourishment from God?  How much better off would I be if I craved God not chocolate?  Wouldn't I be a better mom, wife, friend, and, most importantly, Child of God? 

Ironically, as I write this blog, the verse of the day on my Bible app is this:

"My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness."  Isaiah 26:9

How long has it been since I yearned for God, longed for Him?  I wish I could say that it was moment by moment, every minute of the day.  But, that's not true.  I "get busy" chasing kids and trying to stay on top of our busy schedules.  I miss moments where I could sit quietly and read and meditate and draw closer to Him. 

My prayer today is that God would create this craving in me - make spending time with Him and reading the Bible as irresistible as last year's Halloween candy.  That He would create this longing and yearning in me that I would turn to Him first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. 

How are your cravings today?  Have you craved God lately?

"My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."  Psalm 84:2

(By the way, yes, I am a new blogger and I am so thrilled and humbled to be a part of this blog.  And, please bear with me as I figure out this "blogging thing"!!  )

Love in Christ,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's Good To Be Alive

As I was in the car today, I heard these words on the radio:

I wanna live 
Like there's no tomorrow
Like I'm on borrowed time
It's good to be alive...

I won't take it for granted
I won't waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived
To say, "thank you"
--Jason Gray, It's Good to be Alive

After being home for about an hour I still had them in my head, so I decided to look them up to see who sang the song.  And the words just penetrated my soul.  Is there a word in that song that actually represents how I live?  Do I live and love like there's no tomorrow?  Or do I waste time?  Do I take things for granted?

I imagine if you were to ask yourself those questions, our answers might be similar.  No, I don't live like it's my last day.  Yes, I waste time and take things for granted.  How many times in the past week alone have I watched 4 hours of Olympics coverage in one sitting? (even though oftentimes I already knew the outcome because I'd looked up the results before it aired!)  I think that qualifies as wasting time.  And yes, I've justified it by telling myself it's only on once every 4 years--but really, how often do I sit immersed in the Word or in prayer for 4 hours at one time?  Or how often do I spend 4 hours serving the least of these during the week?

I am all for down time, and I believe that resting (in its various forms) is a healthy thing, so please don't hear me saying that you should always be doing something "spiritual."  That isn't my point at all.  The point is, I want to live my life in such a way that declares His glory.  And, in order to do that, I need to spend less of my life wasting time and more of my life being filled by Him.  I know when I'm Spirit-filled, I'm more likely to have a life that resonates with this portion of the lyrics.  I want to live and love with the reckless abandon of one who knows the Truth.  I want to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord, to find joy in Him so that I can declare, "It's good to be alive!"  (And really, that isn't easy to do when I spend the day staring at a TV or computer screen and then try to cram in my Bible reading during commercial breaks.)

So now, today, I wanna live fully, love fully, and dwell in the richness that comes with being alive in Christ.  Because in Christ, it certainly is good to be alive.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shedding the Old ...

Our dragon Eragon (bearded dragon to be exact) went through a major shedding of skin earlier this summer. There was evidence it was coming. Dull gray patches appeared on his back and tail. He's been hanging out in his water dish. One night he was restless, and when I checked on him at bedtime, he was stretched up in one of the corners, standing as tall as he could, not moving. Then I saw the old skin peeling off his back. Huge sections of it.

It was clearly an exhausting process, as he was in the exact position the next morning. I wondered if it was painful. When I fed him his lettuce, he still didn't move, so I hand fed him some pieces right where he was.

It reminded me of the tale in C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Trader where Eustace, being a terrible, selfish, greedy boy, steals a dragon's treasure and transforms into a dragon while he sleeps. He is miserable, sad, and lonely, sure he will be a dragon forever. He tries to wash the dragon off himself, but in the end, only Aslan can remove the skin. He sinks his claws into Eustace, deeply, and peels the dragon skin away. Eustace later describes the encounter.

"Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off -- just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt -- and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. There he caught hold of me -- I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on -- and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phony if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they're no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them.

"After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me . . . in new clothes -- the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here." [116-117]

I love the allegory. Peeling off the old beastly stuff, God lays us bear and then provides new clothes, new skin.

2 Corinthians 5:17

English Standard Version (ESV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Ephesians 4:22-24

English Standard Version (ESV)
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

One other observation from Eragon. Eragon hadn't grown significantly in some time. He had shed little bits off his tail or his feet, but he had not gotten much bigger over the last year. At the beginning of summer, we moved Eragon to a new, bigger, nicer habitat. He has sand to dig in now and a big rock to climb and room to chase his crickets. We can tell he is happier in his new home. The better home does mean more work for Eragon. There is more to do. He has to chase his crickets. 

It is here, in this better place, that we his caretakers provided, he has worked harder, and he has grown. He has grown significantly. Talk about your allegory.

How often is God moving us to a better place, and, yes, it takes more work, and, yes, the move is scary, but wow, oh wow, how we're gonna grow? Imagine how great the reward will be if we obediently follow when He leads to a new place ... a new journey ... a new skin.