Saturday, March 9, 2013

Everything Beautiful In Its Time

"In 1519, Spanish conquistador Herman Cortes scuttled his own ships, in order that his men would have nothing to rely on, apart from their...assurance that they would conquer and win the land, or die in the attempt." (Partha Bose)

"Burn the ships; we're here to stay. There's no way we could go back, now that we've come this far by faith. Burn the ships; we've passed the point of no return. Our life is here, so let the ships burn." (Steven Curtis Chapman)

God's timing is perfect. Even this morning, as I sluggishly opened my Bible at 7 for some time alone with Him, He had me on His mind and knew what I needed Him to speak to my heart.  "There is a season for every purpose under heaven."

You see, last night I ordered my daughter's college graduation announcements, and I was more than a little nostalgic after doing so. I thought of so many moments through the years, and in every one of them ---at every point when younger mothers would ask--- I would tell them, "This is the best stage of life."

Then, as if last night hadn't been enough of a reality check, my son was up at 6 this morning to go for a run, shower, and then head out to take the SAT. My baby boy is taking the SAT and preparing for what comes for him after high school. Through slitted eyes we saw him off and then returned to bed, but I couldn't sleep. I watched my husband as he drifted off contentedly, and I thought about who we used to be. Young and in love. In college ourselves. Blissfully unaware of what our futures had in store, how much we would love these two other people who would complete our family one day, and how hard it would be to let them go.

And then God spoke. His perfect Word reminded me that "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other." (Eccl. 7:14)  "Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?'.  For it is not wise to ask such questions." (v. 10) Times like these require me to make a choice, whether to live looking back or in pure enjoyment of the season of life in which God has me. My husband and I have learned so much through the years, not just about one another, but about the world and how our Creator works in it. About who we are individually and together in Christ. About the importance of living in light of eternity. There really is no way to turn back, and now that faith has brought us this far, would we even want to?

God's timing really is perfect. What's more, His time is perfect.The day ahead of me is like a blank check, and I will make the most of it. I'll appreciate the fact that I can meet my daughter for some shopping on a Saturday, halfway between the university and home, but then I'll come back here to my man...to the life we've made together, in a comfortable house where we can sit in front of the fireplace tonight and watch college basketball (it is March, after all!). We don't ever again have to worry about exams or if we'll ever find the right job or person with whom to share our lives. We've come this far together, and we'll be together until God finishes writing our story. I guess I was right all those years ago. This really is the best stage of life.

What about you? Are you content to walk with God in the moment and in faith? Not looking back or looking too far ahead. Just focused on Him, His provision, and His amazing blessings. Enjoy this day; God made it just for you!

~Maria

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And the walls come tumbling down...




I have the ability to walk in a house that looks like the first picture and see it in my mind as the last picture.
It is something I have loved to do and we have done it many times.  I am a restorer.  I see the potential in something and I want to be a part of getting it there.  I LOVE seeing the finished result.

Isn't that just like our Father?  He looks down on creation and we look like the first picture.  And yet, He sees all our potential... He sees us as the last picture.  But just as it is in the physical world... it is in the spiritual world... it is a process.  And the process takes time... often triple the amount of time estimated!  And I have come to realize, over time, I don't like the process.  I want to skip the second and third pictures and just jump to done.

As you can see, we attempted to pull down wall paper in the kitchen.  It was on there like white on rice.  The wall was coming off with the paper and well, we just didn't have time.  We left two weeks after moving into this house to adopt our son.  There were other important matters to tend to and so the walls were not totally stripped.

The kitchen walls are fine.  The dinning room walls are fine.  The bathroom walls are not.  The bathrooms get hammered with steam each time someone showers.  And our master bathroom doesn't even have a vent fan.  So the steam sits in the air and festers.  Over time, that constant attack of moisture is causing a mess.

Constant attacks on my walls are causing a mess.

I mentioned yesterday that I had easily identified six walls in my life that have not been completely stripped of paper.  As I lied in bed last night, the 7th came to mind.  How I overlooked it so easily is beyond me.  Anger.

Here are my walls... six of them... the seventh I will keep to myself. 
1. Communication
2. Quality Time
3. Expectations
4. Respect
5. Submission
6. Anger

These are the sticky walls in my house that are affecting me greatly.  As they affect me, they are affecting my relationships.  And they have to come tumbling down.  Forget stripping the paper... God is hammering at them... smashing them... He wants them down... gone... cleared out.  After they are gone... there will be a wide open space for HIS presence to dwell in and flow from... nothing in His way... nothing blocking the view... no corners to dodge around... nothing blocking the light... nothing to hide behind.  And honestly, I have always preferred open floor plans anyway!  :0)

Do you have any walls in your life?  Are they blocking anything?  Are they dripping with a sticky mess as constant moisture penetrates the outside layer... revealing what is really lying beneath?

I invite you to take a look around your house.  Be honest.  Be real.  Maybe God will speak to you as I share my remodel with you.  That is why I share.  My heart's desire and ministry is to encourage others to be real... to invite others to be real and to look for God in all of it.  Life is not sunshine and lollipops all the time.  But God is in it all.  And as long as we continue to see Him and walk with Him and be real with Him through it all... we are transformed.

Amazingly, again, "Salvation" was on my calendar for discussion these last few days of November.  It is a frustrating topic for me as so many people just receive salvation and think that is it.  THAT is the prize...  the gift... but there is so much more to this christian life than being saved!  We are called to be transformed into His image and to die to ourselves and to our flesh and to our will and allow His holiness to flow through us.  And the dying and the transforming is a process.  It takes time.  It takes sweat.  It takes honesty.  It takes sacrifice. It takes obedience and selflessness.  And it takes faith.

Thank you for "sticking" with me during this time of dripping mess.  I know all too well... He is in the process of making something beautiful. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Back In The Day

About 2 weeks ago, I booked a short notice flight to Ohio. Initially, the trip was intended to help my mom as she recovered from a hospital stay and to assist my dad with the house and dogs until she fully recovered from an undiagnosed ailment. As it turned out, she felt well enough all week to play cards, go to the movies, and even frequent a museum during my stay. I am thankful to report that when her diagnosis was finally relayed to her after my stay, the road back to good health was easily treatable. Scary stuff averted~ score one for the home team!
On the way to Ohio, during a layover that gave me just enough time to hit the ladies room, grab a latte' from Starbucks using a gift card snuggled in the bottom of an old purse and (literally) speed walk from one end of Charlotte International to the other, I grabbed a NY Times bestseller off a kiosk by a romance novelist I used to follow back in the day. Most of us have that time period, don't we? Back in the day is when we believed in God but there was little or no relationship. It's when we drank too much every weekend (and the occasional Monday through Thursday), probably attended church begrudgingly or not at all, held bitterness and unforgiveness close to our hearts, cursed regularly and maybe even made fun of the gullibility of fanatic Jesus followers.  My "back in the day" included most of those things...and reading romance novels was a harmless little past time for a mommy who chased kids all day and had a deployed husband many nights.
I'll be honest. I don't feel any regret about that particular vice I had many years ago but, my oh my, how times have changed. As I got as comfortable as one can get on a fully booked commuter flight to Dayton Ohio, I pick the book up. I put the book down. I pick the book up. I put the book down. Is it guilt keeping me from this escapism?
No. It's better.
It's disinterest. Complete and utter disinterest.
Oh, no, not in romance! Disinterest in escaping from anything via a predictable plot and poor character development and replacing it with a voracious interest in reading C.S. Lewis or Joyce Meyer or Francis Chan or (gasp!) the bible.
If we are growing in Christ and becoming more mature as Christians, this inevitable process sneaks up on us like a bad cold. We just naturally begin to have our hearts break for what breaks His~ it becomes less and less of a "choice". It just IS.
We don't need to drink excessively, we begin to forgive others because God has forgiven us, we notice when others curse constantly and it starts to make the little hairs on our neck stand up...and maybe serious offenses toward God like pornography and broken marriage vows lose their appeal and we begin to become more in His image. We begin to change our hearts and actions. We begin to be disciples.
Is there any better gift? I don't think so.
Yes, the occasional curse word slips out when I'm angry.
Yes, I still enjoy a glass on Pinot Noir with dinner.
Yes, I am still a sinner and always will be.
On the other hand, His grace has lifted me from escapism. Today, I stay firmly rooted in my here and now even when the waters get rough and grabbing the familiar life preserver of numbing the pain seems easier. And it's all because I asked Him to change me.. and I meant it.

Are you growing in your relationship with Christ?
Does your heart break for what breaks His?
I'm praying for you today. Specifically for you.

I don't look at my "back in the day" as anything but a gift. If I hadn't been there, how would I know how far I've come?
Blessings,
Amy

Friday, February 22, 2013