Friday, November 19, 2010

Pray for our (children's) enemies?

I must admit, I had quite the test of heart this week. God had to really refine some areas of me that I have been holding on to as my own! And it totally relates to my kids. I've always known they were my Achilles heel. I've heard others say, "I love God and I'll serve Him, but if He ever takes my kids away, that's a deal breaker!" I always thought that was a dangerous declaration. I mean, you're admitting to yourself and God what your idols are and that you are going to continue to place them before Him. God rarely takes mocking Him well, and He doesn't play second-fiddle in our hearts. So, I've always been blatantly honest with him, that I love my kids maybe just a little too much and have entreated Him to keep Him my first love always.

Recently, with the reality of church planting and moving, it's been getting very hard. Not so much to keep my kids from being my idols, but to keep from sheltering my kids from suffering for the Gospel. I am perfectly content to sacrifice for Jesus. Okay, that's not true at all. I'm not perfectly content most of the time. I kick against the goads every day. And every day, I picture Jesus sighing, rolling His eyes, and gently nudging me again. But I signed up for this. I counted the cost for me. I even long for it on many levels. I wanted the great adventure of following Jesus. And I sang the songs, "I don't want to be, I don't want to be a casual Christian. I don't want to live, I don't want to live a lukewarm life. I just to want light up the night, with your everlasting light. I don't' want live a casual Christian life." Maybe I sang them too much and Jesus took me seriously, cause here we go. And there are things I'm giving up that I'm not happy about. At all. Friendships. My house. My routines. But what has been bothering me is what my kids are about to give up. They haven't signed up for this yet. Judah has asked Jesus into his heart, but he's only five and how much does he truly understand. Gideon has mimicked Judah's plea, but he's three and I know he doesn't understand. But they're about to give up as much as me: friends, school, home, routine, family. And it hurts my heart a little to think of that.

So, this Monday morning, I walked Judah into school. He had a bit of a runny nose and right away a little girl in his class starts making fun of him: pointing it out, talking loudly about it, saying she was going to write in her journal about the slime in his nose, etc. I could tell Judah heard it and that it bothered him a bit. I asked him if he liked her saying that and he said no. I told him to go ask her to quit saying that. But it didn't just bother me a little. It bothered me a lot. I kind of went nuclear over it. Not in front of Judah, of course. But as I left, I started tearing up. As I drove home, I started crying. And by the time I walked in the front door, I was sobbing. I told my husband, between hiccuping sobs, "I'm not letting him go to that school anymore. Those kids are terrible. The girls are snarky and catty and hateful. They are mean to him and hurt his feelings." My husband knows better than to laugh (in front of me) when I go AWOL like that. He calmly talked me down from the ledge and then pointed out that, while hurtful a little to Judah, maybe I was reading some of my own emotional baggage from snotty girls in elementary school onto Judah. I acknowledged that wisdom, and, when sure I wasn't going to blow anything up, my husband left for work.

That left me with God to think through what was going on. As I calmed down and began to pray about it, God was pretty rough with me. He pointed out to my heart that I was willing to suffer for Christ, and that I knew that the Gospel had to rule my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. But I didn't seem to think that same thing applied to my kids. My automatic response was to defend Judah instead of teaching Judah to love openly even snarky little girls. Instead of worrying that she had hurt his self-esteem somehow, my response should have been complete confidence that Judah's life is hidden in Christ and he has no need to fear little jabs. I need to be shoring him up in Jesus every day, preparing him that the world is hateful, not because they don't want to love, but because they don't know they are loved. I need to teach him to see past the hurting to the hurt one. I need to prepare him to respond in love instead of in kind. I was shocked to see that I expected one thing of myself and a totally different standard for my boys. I had to really repent of that.

By the time I picked Judah up from school, I was ready to talk about what had happened and give him some Gospel coping methods for next time. "We love people even when they are mean to us because Jesus loves us even when we are mean to Him." Judah got it. He just said, "Yep, Momma!" It was Momma that needed to realize that the same Gospel that saves and sanctifies me, saves and sanctifies Judah and saves and sanctifies snarky little girls!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


So, I'm totally addicted to Smallville. I know, I know. I'm female. And I NEVER read comic books. And, while Tom Welling is a cutie, he looks just like my brother with black hair, so I'm not watching it for the lust factor. And I'm not even that huge of a Superman fan. Don't get me wrong. I have 3 little boys. Super heroes are our life! And Superman is definitely one I feel safe with (haha). But he always seemed too goody-two-shoes in the movies growing up. I liked Christopher Reeves, but for the Man of Steel, he sure let Lois push him around a lot. Drove me crazy!

No, it's not nostalgia or my cougar side (which I evidently don't have because I was never Team Jacob) or hero worship that keeps me coming back and staying up too late watching Smallville. I just love the story! I love the character development, the depth of struggles they have, the richness of their relationships, the fact that they aren't perfect. Clark gets way too Wimpy Kiddie Baby Whiner (name that reference) for me sometimes. Lois is still pushy. Chloe is too sneaky. And why are they still chumming with Tess? At least Lana's gone! And now I sound like my grandmother talking about her soap operas. These people seem real to me, and I think that's the appeal.

But I also think the writers attempt to make statements about human struggles with their super hero struggles. And I'm going to quote Green Arrow from the episode we watched last night:
"We have a bunch of arm-chair bloggers that have created a generation of critics instead of leaders!" Wow! That one really hit me. Not only because I'm a blogger, which just makes me enjoy the irony. But also because that's me. And it's going to be my boys if I don't watch it.

As we are preparing to plant, and riding this crazy train, I'm realizing not only how easy but how appealing it is to be the critic. To sit in your pew, week after week and criticize. I'm not preaching to the audience (I'm a woman I can't preach). I'm not even preaching to the choir. It's me. I'm a critic. It's so easy to sit from the safety of my un-invested area, with nothing on the line and decide how they should be doing it better. I watch it time after time in church members and in myself. And if I'm honest, it was that initial critical nature that made church planting so appealing. I was so frustrated with how little voice I had, how little the leadership listened, how little they did. And I was invested. But when we stepped out and began pursuing a church plant, God put the breaks on. At the time, I didn't know why. Now I know a little bit of why. He wanted to weed out that critical nature. He wanted to take me out of the "Never done it but know it all" place and into the "have no idea what I'm doing and probably the worst person for the job, but God called me so here I go" place. And it's humbling. It's humiliating to realize that you've run your mouth but have no alternative and nothing to show for it.

God is so good to humble us. I know that sounds weird, but it is true. His goodness will not allow us to put ourselves on His throne. We are not the King. We serve Him. And while I'm absolutely NOT against judging rightly between sound doctrine and false, between flesh and Spirit, I'm also vigorously submitting my every critical thought to His sound judgment and trusting Him to show me the truth through His grace.

That's a good lesson for me. But I also need to learn it for my boys. I want to teach them that we are not merely hearers of the Word and therefore deceived by ourselves. We are doers. And that means getting up, off the sofa, off the pew and investing. It means lending a hand. It means inviting a neighbor, leading a song, teaching a class, joining a team. Put on a shoe and do some walking, then we'll talk. We teach empathy at our house, but I also want to teach servant leadership. To me and to my boys.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I love beautiful fall days! There's something magical about crisp air and needing to wear a jacket! I wish we had more than 3 days of fall in Texas, but that is something I look forward to in Wisconsin: Autumn!
I'm also scared of moving to Wisconsin. There's something painful and frightening about change. No, it's not the house I'm leaving or the routine, or the familiarity of knowing when story time at the library is, when the mall playground will be calm or the best way to avoid Christmas rush traffic (which is to NEVER drive on 31st Street between Thanksgiving and New Years). All of those are parts of my fear for certain. I had dreams for this house, and I still can see what it could be. I have never been a routine person, but having 3 kids has forced a routine and now it's comfortable. And I love knowing when to go where.
But I think those things are all just representatives of a deeper fear: letting go of a dream. This place, my hometown, represented something to me. I desperately fought coming back here. I didn't want to end up in my hometown with a feeling of not being able to make it out in the "real world". It felt like failure to come back here. But God has been so faithful here. He has opened up doors to a new identity away from my high school self. I have become a woman here instead of a little girl; a wife instead of a girlfriend; a mother instead of a daughter; and a friend instead of a pal. It has been a nourishing and nurturing time for me. Not always pleasant but I had such an amazing support group to go through the tough times with.
Now I'm stepping into the unknown. We're about to embark for parts unknown and people unknown. When I came home, I had a built in support system, a built in group of friends. My best friend since 5th grade, and my best friend since 9th grade both live here. I never wonder who to call when we're going out on Thursday afternoon to the park or who to call when we're going out on Saturday night. A girl's night out is a text message away; a date night babysitter is around the corner.
The "me" I am here will not exist in Madison. I will be a different me. I will have different friends, different patterns, different schedules. We'll be in a different house and even different plants will grow in our front yard (as opposed to no plants right now cause I haven't gotten around to landscaping).
On beautiful fall days, after lunch with a good friend and knowing half the customers at Chick-fil-A on a first name basis, I'm struck by how much will change next May. Am I excited? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely! But am I scared? Surely.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Silly Scared Me (or how I got my wisdom teeth out)

So, I had my wisdom teeth out Monday.
That was terrifying! I was so scared going in that room. My hubby had to wait in the waiting room with my 2 little ones and I had to go back by myself. I was petrified. After the nurse left to go get all the stuff, I started shaking I was so scared. So I started praying really hard for peace. I felt a bit silly about all of that, and asked God if I was really selfish for wanting Him to be with me when there were probably people being tortured for their faith somewhere. Why couldn't I put on my big-girl panties and quit blubbering? But I felt totally convicted that first off, prayer is not something we can do AND worry. We either pray or we worry, but we can't do both. Worry is prayer; it's just prayer to ourselves, which is of course impotent and pointless. Prayer is to a Sovereign God and is potent and useful. But worry with prayer is faithless and not pleasing to God. Secondly, He loves me! As usual, I keep forgetting that. I care when my kids are scared to jump off the bottom step of the stairs. I know it's silly and they'll be fine, but I care that their hearts are quaking. So God cares when I'm silly and spineless too. And I just got really humble and asked Him to be there with me in that moment and let me feel His presence there. Everything sort of shifted and felt better. I'm learning to ask Him for what I need spiritually as well as physically. I've always thought I could ask him for tangible things (healing, food, money), but I was supposed to create the spiritual things that were required (faith, peace, patience). How ridiculous! So, I just asked Him for the faith to believe He was with me, the peace to rest in Him and the love to have for Him. He's always faithful to answer those prayers.
Back to my traumatic story:
Then they put on the laughing gas, and it got much better! Ha! I know why they call it laughing gas, but I also think it's mean to call it that. I thought to myself, "This is laughing gas, so whatever you do--don't laugh!" So, of course, all I wanted to do was laugh hysterically. I managed to control it down to a really big grin, but I know the nurse was on to me, cause she was laughing at me grinning like a loon.
But I hate anesthesia! They were putting a pillow under my left arm, asking me about Ibuprofen, then they walked behind me to go around to the other side and put a pillow there, then they got me up out of bed and took me in a wheelchair to recovery! Seriously. I know that I went under, they performed minor surgery and then woke me up. But that's not my memory. You know when you're asleep, part of you knows you are asleep. And when you wake up, you know you've been asleep. This was NOT like that. I lost time. I blacked out. I time warped to 30 minutes in the future. It was unsettling, and frankly, terrifying to me. I started to cry. The nurse thought I was in pain, which was ridiculous because I was so numbed up and doped out I couldn't move my mouth. But my husband knew what was going on (and that my blood sugar was low). It was worth it (or will be when I finish healing) to have the pain from my wisdom teeth gone. But I hope I don't have to go under again! Yikes! However, God is so good, and used this scary experience to show Himself and his tender love for me to silly, scared me!

Waiting for God

So, here I am. I'm waiting for God. As usual. Again. Always.
See, I'm a Church Planters Wife. I know my blog title is "This is the Life" and I guess it implies that I have it made and couldn't ask for anything more. And I do. And I couldn't. But that doesn't mean it's easy. It's the opposite. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. On so many levels. I have to watch all my "best laid plans gang aft aglay" or however it goes. I have to watch my kids live out my sacrifice. I have to let God completely strip me and remake me in His image, with His characteristics, agendas, passions and plans. And, what's worse in so many ways, watch my husband go through those same refining moments.
We have always been ministers. From the moment of our separate callings, God has had His hand and agendas on our lives. We have definitely resisted and fought, sometimes tooth and nail, against those agendas. But God is just so funny in that whole "sovereignty" thing. He's nothing if not stubborn!
After 3 years in youth ministry, we found a compelling push on our hearts to church plant. Well, that's putting it politely. Not to venture too far into theological arguments, but the call to Gospel plant was, truly, irresistible. God left us no other options. We quit, or were politely excused from, out positions with our church, and set out into the wild blue yonder to chase God and this new dream.
So here I sit. Waiting again. What is He up to today?
If you wait on God a lot. If you are a planters wife. If you have prayed for more passion, more patience, more Presence in your life. I have NO ANSWERS for you. But you are welcome to share my journey here. Saddle up your horses (as the great Steven Curtis Chapman has been known to say)