God Things

Are you the crowd or the woman?

Recently, I’ve been reading through Mark in the bible and last week, I specifically read the story of the ill woman who touched Jesus and was healed (Mark 5).

Quick summary of the story: a man comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his dying daughter.  Jesus pushes through crowds who are now a constant, they’ve seen his miracles and watch him going the young girl’s home.  En route he is touched and immediately stops to ask who touched him.  Jesus’ disciples say, “Of course, you are being touched, you’re walking through a crowd.” But Jesus knows it’s more than a crowd push, it’s a purposeful touch – a last hope, born of faith touch.  A woman with a long-time medical issue admits she is the one who touched Jesus’ garment and she is immediately healed.

Reading this story I’m so challenged by how I see myself in the two representations of people.

In life, am I the crowd or am I the woman?  Sure, the crowd was all walking the same way Jesus was.  They were interested to see what he was going to do next – what miracle he was going to perform.  They bumped into him on the way, but generally were just headed in the same direction.  It’s really easy to fall into the Jesus crowd.  To walk in his general way but to be no different than the hundreds of others that are walking in his direction.  The crowd is mostly there for the show – they’ve never seen anyone do what he can do.  Sometimes they are walking with him, doubting he can do what he’s heading to do, unsure that it can really be done.  “Can I really trust God to heal my illness/restore my marriage/help my broken relationship/save my job?”

Or am I the woman – the one who fought the crowd of strong men to get the closest to Jesus and in an act of faith, to reach out and touch his clothing.  She put herself out there with the faith that Jesus was all she needed for complete healing.  She didn’t get caught watching the magic show that was Jesus’ miracles –  she wasn’t an observer, she made herself a participant.  She took action and put her own miracle in action.

I’ve been noodling this and asking myself some challenging questions:  Do I push myself in my faith – trusting God can do anything?  Do I get caught jostling between other members of the crowd – in the middle of the hoopla – or am I pushing towards a focused goal – an intimate, personal encounter with Him?

 

 

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The Proverbs 31 Wife/Mother

One thing that is very helpful for me is memorizing bible verses.  Because I have to repeat them over and over to memorize them, I often hear other sub-messages in the text that prompt me in life.  Lately, I’ve been memorizing Proverbs 31.  I love these verses.  It reminds me what a great responsibility I have as a wife and mother.  Here are some of the portions that stand out most to me:

“he trusts her and she will greatly enrich his life” – I love the reminder that a good wife makes her husband’s life better.  I want my husband’s life to be better because I’m in it, not in spite of it.

“her lamp burns late into the night” – I love that she’s got a lot to do and is a hard worker. I’m also a night owl and completely agree with getting things done at night! 🙂

“she extends a hand to the poor, her arms are open to the needy” – This really resonated with me.  I want to do a better job of serving others.  I want to listen for opportunities to give my time to those in need and just generally be more like Jesus was on this earth.

“she laughs without fear of the future” – This is an area that I got another prick.  I laugh a lot but typically not around areas where I’m concerned about my ‘what if’.  It’s hard for these to go hand in hand with me.  Either I’m easy going and fun but if I’m stressed about something, watch out. I’m easily rattled. (Ask my husband.)  I want to be more faithful and confident in my future, even when ‘what ifs’ arise, because I know that God is at the center of it. I want to be able to truly laugh without fear of what I’m facing.

Has there been a scripture that’s really spoken to you lately or prompted you to action?

Sharpen vs. Dull

Lately, Landon has been on a little tear with our electric pencil sharpener.  That thing buzzes all day.  Sometimes, he’ll be writing 4 sentences for homework and “needs” to sharpen in the middle.

While I was listening to the whir of the machine, God put a metaphor on my heart around the sharpening of the pencils and how that  directly correlates with how I parent my kids.  There is a fine line between how my parenting builds up (sharpens) or squashes (dulls) my kids.

My role as their parent is to be a sharpener.  To watch and guide them from the outside as they make decisions and choices that shape who they are.  I don’t need to get involved in every decision, but I need to stay on the outskirts, helping them define their value systems, learning about consequences and giving them some freedoms to become the men God is creating them to be.  My role isn’t to constantly hover above and make all of their decisions, dulling the “point” they’ve started to create on their own, by pushing all the choices that I want for them.

When I push them to act like me, think like me and talk like me, I’m rubbing the point of the pencil, turning the tip into a dull nub.  Instead, I need to let them know what being a Dean means, while letting Landon be Landon and Brooks be Brooks.

I think this same concept also applies to how I talk to my kids – am I building them up, sharpening them into confident men who know who they are and whose they are? Or am I creating a dullness in how I speak to them – creating fears, anger and insecurities?  My tongue can instill confidence or anxiety, pride or exasperation.

I don’t want to raise boys who are clones of their mom and dad, or boys with no self-confidence and self-worth.  I want to raise sharpened pencils.

Listening for Whispers

I’m rereading parts of Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind.  It was such a good book chock full of ideas and areas I struggle with, and filled with lots of practical application.  One of the areas I reread this week talked about how God speaks in a whisper.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”  I Kings 19:11-12

And Joyce went on to talk about how we so often fill our mind with thoughts (worries, frustrations, chaos, activities, etc.) so it’s crammed to the brim. And when we do that, filling our head with so much, how can we possibly hear God’s whispers?  If you’re at a football game with tons of noise and chaos, how can you expect to hear the whisper of the person next to you?

And this got me thinking about how full my mind is.  Filled with worries about my family and our future (what ifs), things I want to do around the house, activities that fill our calendar, my never ending mental to-do list, work projects…  I’ve gotten to the point where if I’m not doing two things at once, I feel like I’m slacking off.  So when I watch tv, I need to be folding laundry, getting in my steps for the day or playing a round of solitaire on my phone.  While I eat a meal, I like to check in with my family and also mentally plan the rest of our day and what needs to be done.

It’s hard to shut it off.

But through this reminder, I’m realizing that I can’t hear God talking to me if I’m so busy on my other things.  How can I hear his whispers, if I constantly keep my mind maxed out?

This is something I’m working on.  Taking more time to just be still.  It sounds simple but it’s really hard to do.  Shutting everything out of your mind and not letting your own thoughts disrupt your quiet.  Silencing the grocery list, the honey do list, the “me, me, me” prayer requests and quieting my thoughts.

I’m planning time in my day for listening.  Because every time I’ve really listened, He’s spoken to me.

Credit where credit is due.

As I’ve grown in my walk and spent more time in the bible, I’ve noticed that I started doing a better job of giving credit where credit is due. Even in the little things.

Examples:

  • Times when I feel like I can’t be the mom I want to be because I’m too impatient/frustrated/controlling, and then I’ll get an out-of-the-blue hug or snuggle that I needed from one of them that just lifts my spirit and reminds me that these little creations were handpicked to be in my world – through the fun moments and the challenging ones.
  • When a friend was diagnosed with cancer, the stories that came out of that experience are truly God stories. The people that were touched by it. The way so many surrounded this person and lifted up their family. And God let me have a front row seat to see this family’s experience – and healing. Wow!
  • When I’m faced with a hard day and I get in the car to my current favorite song to lift my spirit and remind me that He’s in control. Or hearing the perfect song whose lyrics speak to me directly and bring tears to my eyes because they so perfectly encompass what I’m feeling. I know that He sent those “messages” to me to boost my spirit when I needed it.
  • When I get recognition at work for something I worked on, I often immediately give a silent thanks to God for giving me a creative and capable mind to handle the project.
  • On a run where I feel like I’m dying and won’t last the rest of the way, a cool breeze comes along and I look up and thank God for seeing my struggle – as minor as it is – and giving me a nudge to continue on.
  • Going shopping and deciding to hold out until I find something that is a better fit, and then getting a gift certificate, coupon, etc for that specific item the next day. It’s a little reminder that in this big world, God sees me individually and is meeting my need.

There are so many times in a day where something happens and I immediately think “God thing” because I know He’s orchestrating a good life.  Not a perfect life or an ‘easy’ life, but He gets me through my lows and gets all the credit for my highs.

Different Kind of Best Yes

I’ve been thinking lately about how we ended up where we are today.  We all have so many decisions to make each day, week, year – big ones and small ones.  I’ve been reflecting on some of the best yes’s I’ve made over the past years to put me where I am today:

wed10

Photo by: Love the Schultzes

saying yes to Dean – Dean knows this already, but I never thought I’d be married to Dean. I’d always thought my future mate would be more outgoing, a little more ‘openly romantic’.  But I’m glad that who I thought I’d be with isn’t who I ended up with.

I got a million times better than what I thought I’d have.  While he doesn’t tango with a flower in his mouth and isn’t always the life of the party (although sometimes he is!), he is the absolute perfect mate for me.  He’s a best friend. He’s a partner. And I am so lucky that God helped me see it.

uncw

choosing UNC – Wilmington – I was definitely a homebody in high school and hated the idea of leaving home to go to college. I wanted my safety net nearby. I’m glad my parents pushed me out of the nest and forced me to pick a school. I’m also glad I didn’t take the easy option and choose UNCC because it was close to home. But instead, I picked a school that was perfect for my personality – UNC-Wilmington. It’s also where I made some great lifelong friendships, found my future mate and really fell in love with marketing – helping me determine what I wanted to do with my career.

playing volleyball
– I played competitive volleyball for many years growing up, but I never thought I’d play in college.  I wanted to do my own thing when I went to school and didn’t want the extensive commitment that college athletics requires. While it was great that I got to do my own thing freshman year, I’m glad I went out for the team my sophomore and junior years.  Having the structure of volleyball and getting to play competitively for a few more years was a great choice.  Plus, I am almost positive I would have never met Dean if I hadn’t played, even though he lived in the townhouse across the street from me!

waiting on the right home – we househunted for 3+ years.  Never in a rush, but always dipping our toe in the water when something good came along. And while we put offers on about 10 houses over the years, God definitely orchestrated an awesome family home for us.  From great neighbors who’ve become friends, to a great school program within walking distance, lots of kids and more. We are so glad we didn’t settle for some of the other homes and waited it out so that we could end up in our current home.

outtakes bama

(an ‘outtake’ from our firm’s photoshoot last year… haha!)

leaving my job to work with my dad – 8 years ago, I made the crazy choice to leave a comfortable job with a big company to start working with my dad at a brand new company he’d just started.  I knew it might be risky and not pan out long term. I knew it would be working with family 40+ hours a week. I knew it would be hard work and sometimes stressful work. And I am so glad I did it. I’ve learned so much and our company has grown so much over the years and I’m proud to think back where it was and what it’s become. I love being able to work with my dad. I love that he’s such a great boss not just to me but to everyone in our firm.

having an in-house nanny – when I first started working for my dad, we worked out of his house.  When I had Landon, I’d just bring him to work with me and he’d play next to my desk and with my mom who was home for the summer from teaching.  He mostly just slept in the room next door in the pack n play to start but as he got mobile, it made sense to find childcare. I’m so glad I was able to find a reasonably priced in-house nanny who loved on him all day while I was just a room away instead of having to send him to a daycare at such a young age. With him at the house with me, I got to take “Landon breaks” throughout the day and see him hit many of his first year milestones while still getting my work done. I was able to keep both boys with me at my home-office (at least part time) until Brooks was about 2 1/2 and it was such a great yes for me to have them with me so much. Really the best of both worlds.

It’s good to reflect on those yes’s and see how God really had his hand in so many things to get us where we are today. How a decision made my senior year of high school would so greatly affect my path 15+ years later. I’m grateful for the way He’s planned and orchestrated my life and the special people who are part of it.  I can’t wait to see how some of the yes’s we make in these coming years will play out in the next 15 years.

Be strong and courageous.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This was a verse I read several times in Battlefield of the Mind and I love it. It encompasses so many things that I need to remember. And if you read the verses that precede it, Joshua (or whoever wrote this book) says be strong and courageous 3 times!  Obviously, God knew that we’d really need to have this beat into our heads, so he put it on repeat. Strong. Courageous. Strong. Courageous. Strong. Courageous.

I want to be strong and courageous. I want my kids to look at their mom as I strong woman who stands up for what she believes. I want my friends and family see me stand strong in difficult moments.  Sometimes my self-doubt leads me to internally cower from what I believe I can do.

I need to be remember to be confident in who I am. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a daughter and sister.  I am a follower of Jesus. I am a friend.  And that when I doubts myself, I trust that God will lift me up because I am exactly who He created me to be. He is with me – always. Even when it feels like He’s not there, I can read this verse/truth that tells me that He is!

I don’t want to shrink back in my roles. I want to be headstrong and confident. And when it gets hard, I can remember that God is walking not just before me and behind me, but He’s also right beside me, I can be confident that I’m not alone in my struggles.

Be strong and courageous.