Aside

Not a Mechanic

Never let what’s going on in your life or the excuses in your head, stop you from being the hands and feet of Christ.

On my way back from dropping Noah at “school” I was riding into the gas station on the last gallon of gas. You know the days when you don’t want to stop for gas because you’ll be late but if you don’t do it now then things are just going to get worse. I didn’t want to stop, I could make it to work after all, but I did anyways because I knew I should. When I pulled up to the farthest pump I noticed another woman opening the hood of her car. She didn’t look too confident and I thought I should ask if she needed help.

But then fear tried to come in. Fear said that I didn’t know anything about cars. How could I help? Fear said she won’t want help. Fear said I’m sure she’s got everything under control.

Too bad I’m learning how to not listen to fear anymore.

It’s hard and I know I’m going to be better for it, but learning how to step past the fear has been an up and down path of proud moments and disappointing defeats.  I know I’m farther than I was but I’m not where I want to be yet. And that’s ok.

So today when I felt God told me to ask her if she needed help, the fears that gave me excuses why not were overshadowed by my desire to go for it. I walked over and made the ask despite the fact that if there was something really wrong with her car I probably wouldn’t be able to help. Turns out she was really sweet and didn’t really need the help, but seemed grateful that I at least asked.

I don’t think it was help she needed though. I think that God wanted her to know that she is loved and that He sees her and that she’s not alone. When I finished pumping my gas I checked back over with her to see if things weer going ok and she was just finishing up. She had a smile on her face and so did I. Who knows how my one act of bravery today impacted her life but I know how it impacted mine.

– Jess 🙂

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Losing My Faith

I swear my kid has a built in mom alert that tells him within 15 minutes that I am awake. I love that he wants to be with me and I love the extra time with him – especially these days when it seems like I’m out of the house more than I am in. However, when I wake up early, it’s so I can get ready or spend some time in prayer or just to savor the silence of the house. If I’m not careful I can let the fact that he just wants to be with me become an annoyance in my life. 

Today, though, I was determined to figure out a way to still get what I needed to done even though my son woke up so early. So, I enlisted the help of my husband, and I’m so glad I did because during the prayer time that I made room for, God showed me something amazing and loving and just awesome. 

I was looking over my notes from Pastor Steven Furtick’s message this past weekend – Consider the Source. He had referenced Luke 15 and so I had written a note to go back and read it in depth. What I found was a chapter that I’ve read/discussed/learned from a number of times but a section of which that came into a new light. 

“Or what woman, having ten (silver) drachmas (each one equal to a day’s wages), if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and look carefully and diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she summons her (women) friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the silver coin which I had lost.” – Luke 15, Verse 8 & 9, AMP Version 

This woman knew the value of the coins. The scripture tells us that each one was a day’s wages. They were valuable to her, yet somehow one got lost. Now, the scripture doesn’t tell us how one got lost or how long it had been missing, and my guess is it doesn’t matter. But once she realized it was gone, she remembered the full value of it. She realized how much that silver coin meant to her, her family, her livelihood. She realized the full value of what she had lost and she went running back to find it. And once she found it, she not only rejoiced but she told everyone she knew. 

I felt like God pulled this scripture out to me today to show me something. Maybe God sometimes allows us to lose out faith so we can remember how valuable it is to us. And so we can rejoice and tell others and grab on so hard and never let it go again. 

I’ve alluded to the fact that this past year was a tough one for our family in previous posts. And it was. It rocked us in more ways than I care to share. At first, my faith was made stronger and I was seeking God. Then one night my son was having a night terror. It was intense. We couldn’t wake him up and he was screaming, nothing helped. I knew that it wouldn’t, I’d read up on them since he was getting them every couple of weeks, but that knowledge didn’t help when we were basically helpless to it in the moment. I prayed and asked, then begged and cried out for Jesus to take the dream away from my boy. To ease his mind and give him peace. But no peace came. He kept screaming. My husband went in to try. He kept screaming. And while I was in the hall I let a lie so terrible come in and take root. A voice said it’s no use, you’re all alone. It was a lie, I was never alone, but in my weakness, in that moment when I thought God hadn’t heard me, I believed it. 

It hurts more than you know to admit that. I remember that moment clearly. It was the moment that I lost my faith. The very thing that I had been hanging onto during the toughest part of my life was taken by one moment. The next weeks and months I wish I could say I got up and started praying again, but I didn’t. In fact the months after that, when I needed God the most, was when I withdrew from Him the farthest. See He never left me, but I lost Him. 

Slowly but surely I realized what happened, I renounced that memory and that moment and that agreement I had made. I’ve prayed through and over and for it a number of times now. And since the beginning of the year I’ve been running towards God faster than I ever have before. My journey isn’t perfect, it’s spotted and delicate and off and on. But I’m happy to say it’s been a LOT more on than it has off. That tells me there is progress and we all know I love progress. 

Like the woman in the parable, I lost something that I valued very much, but I didn’t know exactly how valuable it was to me until I realized it was missing. And once I did, I went all out looking for it again. Thankfully God was with me the whole time and I need only turn to Him and he rejoices to see me and embraces me with loving arms no matter how long I’ve been gone.

Have you ever lost or been lost in your faith? 

– Jess 🙂

 

Getting Past the Exhaustion

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. – Anne Frank

Such an inspiring quote. The thought that I can do even a little something right now, right this very instant to make things better. Smile at a stranger. Laugh with my two year old. Help someone in need.

I love it. And it’s something I want to remind myself over and over until I really “get it” because it’s simple and powerful.

Yet sometimes I see stuff like this and I just feel exhausted at the thought of it. If I’m to be honest, this thought of exhaustion, tiredness, or of the effort that something takes, I focus on that WAY too much. I’m not proud to say that, not at all, but it’s what happens to me.

Anyone else just feel exhausted thinking about such things? I can’t be alone on this one.

Don’t get me wrong this feeling of exhaustion isn’t limited to saving the world. It creeps in at 10pm when there is a sink full of dishes. It creeps in when there are important phone calls I need to make. It creeps in at the thought of cleaning the closet in my boys room. Or when I think about opening a youth center in my town.

The funny thing is that the thing that is actually exhausting is the fact that I don’t do those things. It’s more exhausting to leave the tasks alone and sit on the couch and flip through Facebook. It’s more exhausting to hit the snooze button 17 times or to wake up to a sink full of dishes that you, yet again, have no intention of starting because – it’s too exhausting.

I know I’ve trained myself to think this way and it’s something that I don’t even consciously think about most days but looking at my life I can see it’s there and it needs to change if I’m going to go forward instead of in circles.

How do we get past these thoughts?

For me, I need to remind myself of the truth instead of the lie.

The lie: Doing that project, or choosing happiness, or changing the world is too exhausting.
The Truth: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galations 6:9

The lie: It doesn’t matter if I do my dishes(or laundry or cleaning the car etc) or not because nobody will see.
The Truth: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” Colossians 3:23

That’s great for the mental attack I get at the thought of something but there is one sure fire way I can attack my exhaustion (or rather perceived exhaustion) that seems to work every time. I simply get up and do some thing. It doesn’t matter what. And yes it’s sometimes harder than it sounds, but it works.

I have to remind myself that motion begets motion. An object in motion will stay in motion until a force stops it. See what I’m getting at here? The more you start, the more you finish. The more you finish the better you feel about yourself. The better you feel about yourself the less exhausted you feel and when you feel less exhausted you change the world.

I’m beginning to realize I’ve spent too much time not doing things because I was scared it was going to be too much for me. Or because of a myriad of other fears I’m sure. I NEED to remind myself that I have not been given a spirit of fear but that of love, power and a sound mind.

At the end of the day I’d rather actually be exhausted because I did things that will change the world than be exhausted because I played on my phone all day. Even if the only world I am changing at the moment is my own home, or the lives of my children, it’s all important and it’s all worth it.

So here’s to an exhausting life – I hope you live one too! 🙂

What makes you feel absolutely exhausted at the thought of it? What ways have you combated that?

– Jess 🙂

 

The Receiving End of a Random Act of Kindness

starbucks

It’s not very often that I’m on the receiving end of a RAOK from a total stranger. So when the man behind the counter said “It’s on me” I was a little taken aback.

I had stopped to treat myself to a cup of Starbucks coffee on my way to pick up my older boys. I don’t do this often, and maybe he could tell. I confidently ordered my grande Verona and the total came to $2.04. I handed over my debit card and got the most embarrassing news ever. It was denied. For a $2 cup of coffee. I hastily began shuffling through my wallet which had nothing more than old receipts in it for some cash. To avoid the fact that it actually was an awkward moment for the two of us I cut the ice with a “well this is embarrassing” comment. More than that, I was really disappointed. Perhaps this was why I had that nagging feeling not to stop?

As I was fumbling, he was saying something to me but I didn’t understand at first. He said “It’s ok – it’s just a cup of coffee, take it.” I was flabbergasted I mean absolutely surprised. He didn’t have to do that and I was surprised that he did.

In that moment I felt what it was like to receive a gift that I didn’t deserve or expect but that I was very grateful for. I felt like it was God reminding me that I have the power to do that every single day and that there was a time in my life where doing that for someone else was what I lived for.

So this is what it’s like when I pay for the car behind me in the drive through. And this is what it’s like when I drop off groceries to a friend who I know is struggling.

I want so badly to be able to do those things on a large scale and I just can’t right now financially. But maybe I can pay for a car behind me. And maybe I can buy a few extra groceries every week and bring them to the food pantry or to a friend. I can do that. And I know that as I am faithful in the small things again, He will be faithful when He needs me to do the big.

That small gesture reminded me that I felt 100x better when I was giving. That seemingly insignificant cup of coffee given to a stranger reminded me that I have been called to be a light and I need to shine.

Thank you my new coffee friend for doing what you felt was right. It did more than you could ever know.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a Random Act of Kindness? What was your experience like?

My Dukes Are Up

I’m feeling a bit defensive today.

Like I would verbally spat with anyone who dare question the direction of my life right now.

Not a new emotion for me but putting a name to it and being able to identify it is pretty new. Definitely progress if I do say so myself. 😉

I think the defensiveness is coming from what I am assuming other people are thinking about me. A dangerous road for sure.

It’s coming from trying to be confident in choices that have been made. Some have been conscious choices, others have been because I let life do the picking for me. And that’s where my guilt comes in. That’s where I start to question everything and I feel like its all a mess too big to dig out of.

That’s also where I end up getting stuck in the muck of it all. I’m knee deep in guilt and shame and confusion and I forget that looking down into the muck doesn’t help me get unstuck. And wishing Id though to put on pretty pink boots doesn’t help me know.

I need to look up. Remember that the sun is shining and that I am breathing and that God has a plan for me and that He uses all things for good.

I need to look up to find a branch to reach out and hold onto. I need to look up to see the help that is waiting for days when I can’t bear to show my face. I need to look up and remind my weary heart that “this too shall pass”, and that I can start the movement of change right now.

– Jess

Bringing Up the Past

After about 20 minutes of driving to get my stubborn and very tired 2-year old to sleep (#mommyproblems) I stopped at my parents house so  we both could have some peace and quiet. The great thing about most weekdays is that my parents are at work so I can come and eat their cookies and go and no one is the wiser. Well my mom usually knows because she’s a mom and well she knows

I spent some time making myself tea and idling on the interwebs until I found my old card making supplies. My mom has put them away so neatly and there was a ton of paper and stamps and general crafty type stuff that made me feel instantly creative.

As I went through the container of super organized stuff I stumbled upon some old journals of mine. You know from like 11 years ago and one from 6 years ago. Yeah. 

Of course being the sentimental freak I HAD to read them. Thankfully I knew better than to read word for word. I only flipped through but still what I found was no less disconcerting. Seeing yet again that there is a constant theme in my life of questions and inaction and that a mere 11 years ago I was grappling with the same questions and seemingly loss of confidence as I am now makes me so sad. Will I ever make any progress? 

I’ve spent years in counseling and rehashed so much from my past and I truly believe I’ve found a ton a healing though that. It makes me ask – how much more craptacular memories are there? Or is it just my perspective? 

Part of me wants to burn these books because bringing up the past is really just bad news in this case. I want to forget what I wrote. Part of me wants to hold onto them because the words and the tears and the pages are a part of me. I don’t want to bring them to my house right now – what am I going to do with them? 

Despite the slight fear of the fact that my mom could open them and read them – I’m pretty sure she hasn’t and won’t. And really if I know her like I do, even if she does read them she won’t say anything. 

I think I’m going to leave the past where it was found – at the bottom of that storage container. Because I’ve been through it already and I’m trusting that if there is something there that I need to deal with God will help me through that. And that, to me, is real progress.

– Jess 🙂

Living it

This weekend we started our 30 Days of Christmas series at the Bar Church. And my husband gave an amazing message about the birth of Christ. But it was what happened at the end that really grabbed me.

He was talking about all these stories of the bible. Jonah, Shadrak Meeshak & Abendago, Joshua, the woman with the issue of blood. And I realized that there is so much that has happened since then.

Those stories are great and they document amazing things that happened through the beginning of time, but what about now? What has happened since the early church?

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John started writing because they didn’t want others to forget all the amazing things that had happened. They wanted to chronicle Jesus’s life and let others know. They wanted to pass on their mission to spread Jesus’s message.

I believe that God is alive and is working today. Right here and right now. And I think we need to start seeking out things from our generation to tell alongside the bible. The amazing things that are happening RIGHT NOW in HIStory that show God’s amazing power, grace and glory.

Where are OUR stories that we can pass down. Where is OUR family bible. How do we share OUR encounters with God so that others can come to Jesus. How do we use both the bible and modern day examples to show God’s love?

I asked my husband a while back why the Bible stops where it does. Why was nothing else ever added? Surely great and mighty things have happened since then! He couldn’t answer me and I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. But for now, I have to beleive that it’s being written every day. It’s being chronicled in CS Lewis and in Steven Furtick and in you and me.

I think that God is working all around us and we are living it every single day. We just need to share it. Share it with the skeptics down the street who don’t understand why a book written 2000 years ago applies to them. Share it with our grandparents who hold tight to those stories but delight in new ones too.

Sharing our stories is the best relationship builder we could ever have. It’s how we connect. It’s how we share our beliefs.

What amazing things has God done in your life? How do you share your story with the world?