Thursday, April 26, 2012

Phobias and Plagues

If you do not live in Central Texas. If you do not have a pecan tree in your yard. If you do not own and/or live in an older house, the rest of this post may sound horrific to you. It is. But it is also just life for us, and for better or worse here it is: we have roaches. Not cockroaches. Not those little boogers that infest your cabinets and set up home and have 2000 children in your pantry. No. Those are terrible and if you have to deal with those or try to root them out, I'm so deeply sorry. I'm sure it's a nightmare. But that's not our particular issue here. No, these are water roaches. Water roaches are about 20 times that size, do not infest your house, but do like to meander through on exploratory trips now and then.

Water roaches like pecan trees. Scratch that. Water roaches LOVE pecan trees. they like to live between the loose bark and the inner tree. But when it gets too damp, or not damp enough, they will pursue water where they can find it. That means local houses. That means OUR house. And they are my biggest fear.

See water roaches have no natural offensive mechanisms. They do not bite. They do not sting. They are not poisonous. They do not hurt you. Because they do not have to. No. You will be too busy hurting yourself trying to get away from them. With a lack of offensive strategy they have one big defensive strategy. They are ugly, gross and will run and fly right at you if they become aware you are in the room. Terrible. Terrible!

So, in June, we will have owned our home for 4 years. I love our house. It's a 1930's style home with a huge front porch, complete with swing, 12 foot ceilings on the ground floor, big windows and a back deck. But there, in the back yard, big as Christmas is a towering pecan tree. Home to 4000 of the worlds most hateful and demonic water roaches you will ever see. These guys are huge, they are ugly, they are fast, they can fly and they love nothing in the world so much as terrorizing me. And it's worse this year than ever!! For the last 3 years we've been in a terrible drought, which, as bad as its been for plants and an animals and (God bless you) the farmers, its been that bad for the insects too. I have not thanked God enough for that. Because this year it started to rain again. And the mosquitoes, flies, cane flies, moths, June bugs, beetles, worms and lady bugs have come back! And so have the water roaches.

To paint the picture a bit more clearly. I'm also pregnant. Due 2 days ago. That's right! 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant is never a fun time, but when there are roaches involved...oh sisters and brothers, let me testify it has gotten ugly. And instead of being gentle about it, these hateful creatures have come out in full attack against me! Me! Two days ago, after 4 hours of false labor, as I was getting out of the tub, reconciling to the fact that I was not having my baby yet, I pulled a towel out of the cabinet and a roach that had been on the towel, hiding, waiting for the perfect opportunity to attack, leapt off of the towel and onto my very person!! He was touching me!! On my poor, distended, overdue pregnant belly! The horror of it cannot be put into words. I knocked him off and went screaming naked from the bathroom, towel abandoned on the floor, streaking past my 3 boys and hollering at my husband, "It was on me! It was on me! It was on me!" The adrenaline rush alone should have popped this baby right out! Ugh!

Then, in a (sadly typical) burst of heartburn at 4 yesterday morning, I went to the kitchen to find something to ease the fire in my esophagus, only to find the kitchen invaded by (count them) 4 of the enemy troops! I surrendered the battle and returned to bed. My saint of a husband got up and killed them all and got me a glass of milk. But when he returned to our bedroom to give it to me, he found one on the ceiling and one on the floor of our bedroom! SIX IN ONE NIGHT!! They are in full attack mode, trying to drive me insane and getting close to succeeding.

Now, I really think this would be bad enough on anyone. My husband is level headed and a gifted roach-killer and it's straining his nerves. But after trying to be tough, to reason and rationalize myself about these bugs, I finally came to the conclusion last year that this is a phobia for me. I am terrified of them. I don't mean in an "Ewww! I'm a girl and I hate bugs!" way. No. I like a lot of bugs. I'll catch grasshoppers, lady bugs and caterpillars. I help the boys with their snail obsession. I'm not squeamish. And stinging insects don't even rattle me. Bees, wasps, spiders, scorpions...I"m bigger than them and I have a good fly swatter. But roaches. Roaches are a whole different story. I'll absolutely turn into a 4th grade girl and climb the walls trying to get away. I'll nearly give myself a heart attack if one comes at me. And I surrender the house to them. I just pack up the kids and we leave until Daddy can get home and rescue us. Except I really don't want my boys to be sissies. So, I've had to toughen up, so they can toughen up. And now, I have 2 budding roach killers and a 2 year old who brags about "Saving momma from the 'tot-row'". But I cannot deny my abject fear of them. It's unreasonable. It's irrational. It's inconvenient. But there it is. I'm flat out freaked out by roaches.

So here I sit tonight wondering if there is a safe place to sleep where one will not wander across me in the middle of the night and cause a brain aneurism. If I wasn't waiting to have this baby, it might be a good time of year to go see family. Family that lives where no roach ever dreamed of going. Family whose homes are safe from the plague.

Oh, I know people who think God is a big meanie, who makes up arbitrary rules and smites people with his wrath. But I know He is gracious and good and longs for all to come to repentance because of all 10 plagues he sent on Egypt not ONE was WATER ROACHES!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Faithfulness in the wait

As a church planters wife, there's lots of fun and exciting ways to WAIT! Wait on your husband to get home, wait on your redemption group to show up to start, wait on your children to get to the car, wait to find out if you are approved, wait to see if the support checks are coming in, wait to see if you get to pay ALL your bills this month or just a few, wait to find out if we can meet in that place for our Sunday night gathering...wait...wait...wait.

I'll be the first (in a long line of people who can testify) that no matter which spiritual inventory you give me, you will not find "Waiting" on the list of my spiritual gifts. In fact, it's more of a "Hey, you're really good at....but you should work on patience and trusting God in the interim" situation with me. So I will let you know that waiting on God or Jonathan or a group or a person or my children is nearly physically painful at times.

On top of which, I'm waiting to have my 4th baby right now. Yup. I'm pregnant. My due date is 3 days away and this is the longest I've ever been pregnant. My first was born 4 weeks early and my next 2 were both 1 week early. So going past 39 weeks feels overdue to me. I recognize this as not only silly, but whining. That doesn't seem to change my hormonal reaction to it. Every pressure, every Braxton Hicks, every bump of the baby leaves me hopeful, and the ensuing lack of results leaves me almost despondent. It's a wild roller coaster right now. You can pray for my husband.

But what I realized the other day was that this pregnancy is a beautiful picture of what this church planting process has been like for me: complete lack of control! God is dealing with my heart idol of control on both issues. I can feed myself well, get rest and exercise, pray diligently and mostly...just...wait. The rest is totally and completely up to Jesus and his work. For the church, I pray for my husband, our core, those God is calling, I read my Bible and I repent of my depraved heart and foolish ways, I acknowledge and repent of my heart idols, and I obey what Jesus asks me to do. But I can't actually GROW the church, MAKE people come, PUSH the process faster. It will happen when it happens, how God wants it to happen and in His perfect timing.

This morning during worship we sang "Lead me to the Cross" and God's word to me rang out loud and clear through the chorus. "Rid me of myself...." I've been so wrapped up in my schedule that I want to happen, my methods, my desires, even my discomfort and frustration that I have been all mired down in ME instead of rooted and grounded in Him. And I am not bringing glory to Him through my exasperation with either "birthing" process, the baby or the church. My impatience and petulance does not glorify Him.

So, I threw my hands up and testified that "I belong to You, so lead me, lead me to the Cross." And there it is: the Gospel. That Jesus is enough. Enough for me as I await this baby. Enough for me as I await the launch of Redemption Church. That my impatience and idol of control just reveals the depravity that is my enemy and Jesus' beautiful patience and grace towards me on the cross is enough to cover and redeem even that. "Naught of good that I have done; nothing but the blood of Jesus."

Thank you Lord for being bigger than my pettiness. Greater than my failings. Gracious in my selfishness. Good to me even when I'm throwing a fit. And more glorious than all my worries, wants, whims and wishes! You are Lord! You are faithful! Even in my waiting....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Balancing Act

I don't really believe in trying to achieve "balance". For one thing I find it an ambiguous term at best, usually used to push increasing your time/money/awareness of something someone else finds vital. As in, "You need to increase your time spent exercising! Learn to balance!" I also find it impossible to attain! So mainly trying to find balance in my life just puts all the weight on "guilty". I end up feeling badly that I spent that hour exercising instead of reading to my kids, or folding clothes instead of reading the Bible, or blogging instead of vacuuming!

However, I have found that in another sense, my entire life is a balancing act. Not putting the same amount of value, priority, time and energy into everything that wants my attention, but the precarious act of walking the thin line directly in front of me. So not a "scale" balance but a "beam" balance.

I tend to be a tad ADD. I have a hard time staying focused on one project, one book, one TV show, one child, one goal at a time. I want to do it all (which is fine) right now (which is impossible). I can't pursue my Master's Degree, home school 2 children, make all my bread from scratch, train to be a midwife, get to know all my neighbors, support my husband in the church plant, host a Redemption group at my house, join a co-op, grow a garden and have an infant all in the same year. I just can't. That's really difficult and painful for me to admit.But there it is. Hi, my name is Jennifer and I am not superwoman.

So I have to focus. I have to pick. I have to put one foot in front of the other and take only the next step. Sometimes that next step is a cartwheel, or the splits or even a leap. But there's only one place to land, one area to come down on, so much room to maneuver. I can make it pretty, graceful and land with a flourish, but I have to stay on a certain track. That grates on me! My personality says I'm really more of a interpretive dancer. But God has said, "No Ma'am!"

So here we are. I'm chomping at the bit to go further and faster with Redemption Church plant. I want to have large BBQs in our neighborhood, have all the neighbors over one-by-one for dinner, find a place to meet on Sunday mornings, learn how to play the guitar (someone has to lead worship...) and do it yesterday! But alas, I'm 3 weeks from my due date with baby #4. I'm picking homeschool curriculum for Baby #1 & #2. I just finished potty training Baby #3 and my house is almost clean. That's pretty much all the room on my plate today. Even if I had my neighbors over, they might feel a bit awkward if my water breaks! If I planned a big Easter Egg hunt, who's going to buy, fill and hide those eggs.

So for now, I trust in God's sovereign timing. He created this baby. He called us to this town. He is pouring out His Spirit, in His timing and His Way. He is whispering to me to "Be still and know that I am God. Those who wait on ME will soar on wings like Eagles. Strength will rise as you wait upon me. Unless I build the house, he who builds it labors in vain. TRUST ME!"

So, next step...