Saturday, May 31, 2014

Gardening Lessons

My husband and I, with the help of his father, have planted a garden and are praying for the Lord to produce crops from it.  I think my husband and his parents are trying to completely transform me from a city girl to a country girl.  I think I kind of like it, though.  I like the freedom to plant the crops we choose on our land and the satisfaction that comes from watching the Lord use His blessings, like our land, to provide for our family.  I like it, too, that He is allowing us to be part of that tend the garden and watch Him work through it.  Our garden adventure has been fun, although I never knew how much labor was involved.

Today, as I was pulling grass and weeds out of the garden, my soon-to-be 4 year old asked if she could help.  I said, "Sure!" and pointed her to some grass growing at the edge of the garden.  She was satisfied pulling the grass at the edge of the garden for a while, but as she watched me walking in and through the garden to pull grass, she wanted to join in.  Maybe it was because she felt somewhat insignificant just pulling the grass and weeds at the edge, or maybe it was because she wanted to be in the middle of the action.  She wanted to dive in and be fully involved with me, doing what I was doing and going where I was going.  However, I couldn't let her because this is my first garden and I am very overprotective of it, probably out of insecurity!  But, I did not feel that she was educated or experienced enough to not walk on the vegetable plants in her quest for stray grass and weeds, or to not pull up the plants, mistaking them for weeds, so I had to tell her she could not walk into the garden.  She did not whine or pitch a fit; she was okay with my answer, but soon got bored and walked away.

What she doesn't understand yet is that the longer she hangs around the garden watching Mommy and Daddy tend it and the longer she practices weeding the garden in the areas we designate for her, the more experienced she will get, which will prepare her for the "big" and "important" work of tending the middle of the garden.  Immediately, when my daughter got bored and walked away, I felt the Holy Spirit's conviction...How often am I that way?  How often do I want to do the "big" things for God and to get right in the middle of something big He is doing, without being patient in the training?  I can't expect to be prepared for the big stuff if I get bored during the practice sessions.  I want my daughter to be able to help us IN the garden; similarly, our heavenly Father wants us to do big things for Him and be involved in the action, doing what He's doing and going where He's going, but there is a time that we need to learn, train, and practice before He can let us do those things, before we will really be prepared for the things He has planned for us.

In my own life, in the daily grind, in the seemingly insignificant acts and conversations that make up my days, I need to be participating in them with all that I have.  I need to be thankful for the small things, thankful that God might be preparing me for something bigger and seek to use those things for His glory.  I also don't need to get bored and walk away.  I need to keep working, striving, working for the Lord and not for man, as Colossians 3:23 encourages me to do.  Then, I will be ready when the Lord leads me to bigger things.  But what if bigger things never come?  I truly believe that when we are thankful in the small things and look to Him to use the small things for His glory, we are completely and truly content.  We are happy, thankful, and blessed because God is using us for His glory right where we are!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mommy Days

"It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night." Psalm 92:1

Good morning!!  I am awake at 7:09 am when I would rather be asleep, catching up on rest.  But, if I were asleep, I would be missing out on one of the greatest times to just sit and soak in God's love and grace for me this morning. It's the's quiet because the kids are still sleeping and I can sit with my Savior and soak in His Word.

I love the anchor verse for this post, Psalm 92:1.  The Lord showed that to me last night and that has been what has held me together for the past few sleepless nights.  My husband has had to travel for work and has not been home to help me with nightly duties for our 5 month old.  Some of you are going to read this and think, she is such a husband has to travel ALL the time for work, I rarely see him, and I am the sole care giver to our kids on a regular basis.  Well, you would be right...I am a pansy when it comes to sleep.  I like getting enough rest.  My husband and our kids don't appreciate sleep as much as I do.  They really don't.  They will fight it until they have nothing left to give and they just pass out...they don't want to miss anything.  I, on the other hand, know that there is not enough time during the day to get everything done anyway, so why stay up late trying and I am ok with the world continuing to spin as I sleep.

There are several things I love about what the Lord is doing during the time my husband has been away.  Most importantly, I love that God knows I am a pansy when it comes to sleep, but He hasn't given up on me.  He loves me so much that He wants the best for me, an abundant life, where He is shaping me to become like Jesus.  My husband's business trip was just the next step in a lifelong process of refining me.  So, I really like that God knows me so well that He knows I am a pansy and loves me anyway. :)  We have recently done away with the swaddle for our 5 month old son, specifically two days before my husband left on business, and he slept wonderfully!!  He slept until 3:30 the first night and 5:00 the second night, and fell asleep immediately after eating when I put him back in his crib.  The first night my husband was not here with us to help me with wake-ups, our son, Gracen, decides that's a good night to wake up every 2-3 hours and he has been consistent in this routine every night my husband has not been here.  Here's the thing...God knows I am a pansy when it comes to sleep, but Satan also knows.  They also both know that my husband is gone and I have no one to physically rely on for help with sleep.  So, Satan attacks my weakest area, but God intended to use this time for good, if I choose to draw near to Him to help me.  So, Satan wants my attitudes to be horrible...he wants me to be such a poor example of Jesus to our kids because I am the one who will be with them the next 4 days.  Only me.  Only broken, messed up, cranky, imperfect me, and I am the only Jesus they will see for the next 4 days.  But when I bring the broken and sleep-deprived pieces of my life to Jesus as an offering of thanksgiving, He honors that.  He has given me energy I never knew I had.  He has provided everything I have needed just like He promises.

In addition to Psalm 92:1, two other verses that the Lord has shown me during this time also stand out to me...Psalm 34:1 and Hebrews 13:15.  Psalm 34:1 says that "I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips" and the verse in Hebrews reminds me that "through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His name."  I love those verses, but at the same time, I feel the Holy Spirit leading me to ask myself, Do I really live that?  Do I really extol the Lord ALWAYS, with His praise ALWAYS flowing out of my speech?  And do I truly rely on Jesus to help me continually offer a sacrifice of praise to my God?  I can't do it on my own.  The Word says only through Jesus will I be strong enough and awake enough to offer God the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving He deserves on a daily basis.

So, when I feel so run down and worn out, when my kids are pulling me in four different directions, I will choose to lean on God and I will choose to go back to these verses.  The Lord wants me to be THANKFUL ALWAYS.  He wants me to praise Him always because He is so good.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 offers me another reason to praise Him always and in all circumstances...this is His will for me!!  I am honored that He chooses my circumstances; I am honored because the circumstances He chooses for me will bring Him the most glory!  I count it all joy and praise that He is choosing to use me, even in my brokenness and crankiness, and, not only that, but He wants to help me overcome my brokenness and crankiness.  That makes my heart smile.  My Jesus not only loves me as I am, but wants to help me overcome ALL my weaknesses!  I love Him!  I can never rely on my spouse for all my needs even when he is here because he is human, too.  If I am doing that, my needs will never be met. Instead, I take them to the Lover of my soul and offer up all the broken and ugly pieces of who I am as an offering of praise and He honors even that.  Even my weak offering, He honors, makes whole, and uses for His glory!!