Is This My Life?

Is This My Life - www.searchingformyeden.com

Morning coffee wafts up the stairs and scents the cool air, teasing my tired head off the pillow.

It was a rough night.  A teething baby and a wakeful 3 year old needed me in the wee hours, and yet…I need Jesus time more than I need the extra sleep.  Is this my life?  Having to weigh the merits of 15 minutes of sleep against a few quiet moments with my Bible?  Creamer sloshes into my favorite cup, tinting the rich, nutty brew a golden hue.  I inhale the fragrance of clean morning air, relish the quietness of the sleeping house, and exhale thanksgiving.  Is this my life?  How am I so blessed, to smell?  To savor?

The Bible in my hands has stood witness to 20 years of my life.  I run a thumb over the scarred cover, and smile at the underlined pages, blistered with tears and steeped with memories.  Truth for the ages, as powerful today as 20 years ago.  It doesn’t change, but I have.  Is this my life?  So much different than I could have imagined as a young girl.  God is gracious…to me.  Even through the thorny places, the stumble-fall-and-gravel-in-my knees places.  He alone is completely, thoroughly, and utterly dependable.

Little feet come down the stairs.  I read faster, desperate for encouragement to carry me through the day.  The little hands that slide around my neck are so much bigger than they were last year.  My baby girl is growing up faster than I can believe.  She’s getting so big, but she still needs her mama.  Inadequate doesn’t begin to describe how I feel when I look into those precious little faces.  Is this my life?  Forever reminded of how deeply I need the grace and wisdom and love of Jesus to do this mama thing well?

The morning moves on, and so does my little tribe.  I fill sippy cups.  Change diapers.  Kiss Superman, snuggle sleepy children, and start breakfast and a load of laundry.  Pack a lunchbox and wipe spills and we all wave goodbye to Daddy.  Is this my life?  So mundane.  No lifesaving (unless you count the 5,982 times I prevented my daring 15 month old from tumbling, choking, being poisoned, impaled, lost, or run over.)  I love it.  And, I’m kind of desperate to talk to tall people.  Maybe that’s why I check Facebook 482 times during the day…

The day is filled with squabble reffing, sock chasing, dish washing, and Facebook peeking.  Lunch time presents only the age old question of PB&J or Mac’n’Cheese, and I wipe faces and I think, this is my life.  I don’t have even a moment of doubt when it comes to the question of whether I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but it doesn’t feel enough.  I don’t feel enough.  This is my life, and I feel so inadequate to complete even such a seemingly inconsequential role.  Who in the world allowed me to be the mother of these precious children, the wife to the most remarkable and fun and kind man I know?  Don’t I have to pass some kind of test or something?  Insecurity and I go way back, and I feel nauseous with the weight of my own insignificance.  What am I doing with my life?  Is it all just a waste?

Herding cats has got to be easier than getting my tribe up the stairs and pottied, diapered, fluffed and tucked into their little beds.  I sink wearily down enjoy 15 seconds of quiet, eyes vacant and realize I’m a hot mess.  I’m still wearing my sloppy tee shirt and the shorts I tossed on this morning, and the ragged pony tail has seen better days.  Ick.  Is this my life?  I’m turning into a soccer mom, and not one of those pretty, pulled together ones.  (Please, Tim Gunn, I need an intervention.  I’m begging.)

Whoever invented the shower had better have won the Nobel Peace Prize.  They deserve it.  Rest time is over, consumed with blogging and a quick shower, but at least I won’t meet my husband at the door looking and smelling like a cave dweller.  Superman arrives and is greeted by the wild bunch, and I watch his eyes light up as he greets each one of them, tossing them high, kissing their loving little faces, and ruffling their hair.  He passes out hugs and tickles before making his way to me.  This is my life.  I’m in awe.  I love this man.  I love our life.  Dinner time comes with all the usual “please don’t put your feet on the table,” “I DON’T LIKE CHICKEN!!!” and generalized mayhem of feeding piranhas.  On my hands and knees under the table, sweeping up rice and cantelope off the floor, I think about how hard I studied through nursing school and feel a pang of regret.  All that work, and this is my life.  I clean up messes all day.

We reach bedtime like a marathon finish line and rejoice deeply.  Jammied little squirmy people snuggle up for bedtime prayers, and I laugh when JoJo thanks God again for big trucks and baby chicks.  Alaina, my serious little perfectionist thanks Jesus for our family, house, and friends.  Maybe I need to take notes from my babies.  They are thankful, every day, for the same things.  They need reminding, just as I do, to stop taking themselves so seriously.  And they have so much to teach me about living in the moment.

Yes, this is my life.  It’s a mixed bag, and I’m learning to be okay with that.  I am deeply flawed and incredibly blessed.  I am over my head most days and still figuring out so much.  I’m growing and learning and changing, and God is far from done with me.  There are pretty, shiny moments, and there are stinky, ugly moments, and mostly, there’s a whole lot of in-between stuff.  I’m learning to look for Jesus in all of it, because this is my life…but only Jesus IS life.

And oh, how I need His life shining in, and on, and through mine.

What about you?  Is your life different than you thought it would be?  Than you hoped?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Grace and peace and LIFE,

Kelly

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When Trust Doesn’t Come Easy

When Trust Doesn't Come Easy - www.searchingformyeden.com

I was just a kid, praying every night that Daddy would come home safe.

My dad was a police officer, working undercover, and I soaked up the palpable fear the surrounded my mother like an aura.  I absorbed her anxiety like a sponge, and prayed frantically for his safety.  And although he did come home safely, night after night, the anxiety never left.  Feeling helpless is not my cup of tea.  I guess I’ll just put it out there: I have trust issues.

In fact, trust is what I do worst.

Doubt, what-if, and all that…I do it well.  (I’ve had several decades worth of practice.)  I am a planner.   Does that surprise you?  Chronically, annoyingly, always planning.  It comes in handy as the mother of 3 little ones.  At any given moment, I may need to change an outfit, a diaper or two, apply bug spray or sunscreen, dole out snacks, or pass out sippy cups.  They might need their hats, their favorite blankies, or their toy-of-the-moment.  And I always, always, try to have extra pacifiers in the event of a meltdown.  It’s just how I’m wired.  I have friends who are good, good moms – who aren’t that way at all.  They are laid back, relaxed, and don’t need a full-on baggage train everywhere they go.

But I am not so much a “it’ll be okay” kind of a gal…I’m more the “I will plan, prepare, and make sure that it is okay” kind of gal.  Which is why 2 Chronicles 20 blows me away.  I was reading the story of King Jehoshaphat and Judah this morning, and the level of trust they demonstrated floored me.  See, disaster is upon them.  Three enemy armies were poised for the kill.  And King Jehoshaphat had not even the beginnings of a tactical strategy.  There was no plan A, let alone B or C.  He simply gathered together his people and spoke to the Lord.  His prayer was brief and to the point.  In essence, what he said was: “We don’t have a clue or even a hope if You don’t come through for us.  But we’re trusting and looking to You.”

Then they just stood there.

And they waited for God to show up.

That, my friends, is mountain-moving faith.  Anyone else awed by that?  I am a slow learner, because it occurs to me that God always shows up.  Always.  And yet, I need my contingencies in place, my itemized fall back plan for “just in case.”  God doesn’t need a net.  He’s got this.  We can throw out the crumpled and bent crutch of our own weak understanding and submit to Him as God.

The whole nation of Judah just stood and waited for God.  They stepped back from their plans, their egos, their solutions, and they trusted hands far bigger than their own.  Why is that so hard, for crying out loud?

The truth is, when we stand back…LOOK OUT.  Look out, because it’s then that God can take our battles and make them His own.  All we need to do…all we ever, really need to do is:

  • lay it out before Him, acknowledging our inability to fix it
  • wait for His direction
  • obey
  • praise Him for His deliverance.

The. End.

Wait, what?

The nation of Judah didn’t wait to see if God kept His word.  They started the after party before God delivered them.  Stunning.  And I’m challenged to have that kind of unshakeable trust, to instinctively know that God isn’t going to fail to show up.  But there are so many roadblocks to getting there.

It occurs to me that it would be so much easier to trust if God and I could get on the same page about priorities.  You know, keeping me comfortable hovering right around the top of the list.  But even a cursory glance at Scripture shows that to be wishful thinking, and I know that this life is not about quick, pretty, easy living.  That’s not reality.  Life is hard, and there’s no pretending otherwise.  It’s not even good for us to have everything we want.  (Doubt that?  Spend an afternoon with a spoiled rich kid.)

It’s when things get ugly (like, 3-armies-attacking-ugly) that we have the opportunity of a lifetime.  We can choose trust, or we can choose fear.  We can choose God or panic.  And really, we can choose deliverance or slavery to doubt.

And it doesn’t even start there.  It starts months and years earlier.  In all the little everyday ugly moments – the toddler meltdowns, the snappy words that bubble up quick and hot, the spilled juice and tracked-in mud, the washer’s-not-working-again…those are practice runs.  Little opportunities to trust God’s goodness or doubt it, windows to see Him as faithful, or look away.  My Dad always says, “Train hard; fight easy.”  Judah didn’t turn to God by chance.  They had lots and lots of practice.  I want victory over those trust issues, and I have to believe that I’m not alone in that.  But victory, as Miss Clara says in The War Room, doesn’t happen by accident.

We have the opportunity to be women of intentional, purposeful trust in the Lord.  We can walk it out in the day-to-day of everyday life, deliberately choosing to infuse our hearts with the truth about God, or by default, mistrust will creep in and sabotage us.  Desperately, we need to renew our minds every day with Scripture, because you and I need to know deep in our hearts Who we can trust when the day of disaster hits.

Jesus is better than any list, any fall back plan, any “just in case.”  He is faithful, 100%.  And when you’ve got Jesus, and He’s got you, a contingency plan just isn’t necessary.  He’s the Alpha and the Omega – literally the A-Z.  Friends, He isn’t just plan A, He’s plan A through Z.

And that’s my kind of prepared.

 

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Dallas, Orlando, and The Great Divide

Dallas, Orlando, and The Great Divide - www.searchingformyeden.com

Dallas, what happened?

I woke up this morning, blissfully unaware of the headlines, and I’m in shock now.  “Police Brutality”, “The Orlando Massacre”, and now this.  We are hemorrhaging lives to this thing called prejudice, and I’m sickened by the violence.  I hope that doesn’t make me naïve, but I have to wonder…when is it enough?  Are we done yet?

The coffins are filling and hearts are empty and broken, loved ones are weeping, and the hate and blame is piling higher than the body count.  I’m sad that this is the world I am releasing my children into.  Aren’t you?  My mother’s heart can’t help but think about the aching arms of those whose loved ones are dead.  The widows.  The now fatherless.  The family of every casualty on both sides of the issues…my heart bleeds for them all.  Death hits hard.

The blood coagulating on our streets is not about deadly force and it’s use (or misuse.)  It’s not about race.  It goes deeper than skin color or a uniform or lifestyle choices.

We have an enemy.  This may come as a shock, but it’s not each other.  We are made in the image of God, and Satan hates us because of that.  He doesn’t care who dies, he just wants death.  Death of relationships, death of trust and kindness, and yes, blood in the streets and God help us, staining our hands.

The real issue that we’ve lost in all the other huge issues is that we’ve forgotten who the real enemy is.  We may not be able to agree on anything else, but could we come together and agree that Satan wants us to revel in our hate and mistrust of each other?  He wants us keep on ignoring the villain in the shadows.  He wants us to bathe in our own self-righteousness and anger.  He wants us whispering and backstabbing, resenting and misunderstanding each other.  He wants us screaming in rage at one another, forgetting the value of life, and drunk on how wrong they are.

He wants us all to do the wrong thing, assume the worst, and damn and curse each other until the blood and the tears mingle in one sickening mess.  Are our heads so clouded by all the issues that we’ve forgotten the most basic of things?  How can any issue trump the truth that the loss of any life is tragic?

How warped is this thinking that allows people to perpetrate their point of view on others and literally, cold-bloodedly gun down the opposition?  49 in Orlando.  5 in Dallas.  This wasn’t against any of the victims personally, it was an attack on them as symbols.  Icons of disagreement, you might say.

What divides us is not that we cannot agree on vital issues.

It’s the prejudice in our hearts that segregates us.  It divides me against you, us against them.  The perpetrators of this horrifying violence were driven by their prejudice, and it’s easy to see how wrong they were.

But what about the bias and hatred in our own hearts?

How easy it is to point fingers and lock arms and throw rocks and tear gas at each other, and how hard to fall on our knees and repent of prejudice and intolerance and pride.  It’s hard to search our own hearts, and easier by far to catalogue the faults and failings of others.  It’s easier to shatter some one else’s window than to clean our own smudged panes.  Easier in the moment to break someone else’s heart than to admit that our own is fractured by sin.

No, we wouldn’t ambush a nightclub or shoot a police officer.  But do we look down on others with differing views?  Do we refuse to examine our own beliefs?  It’s hard to admit when we’re wrong, and even harder to stand for the right thing in the right way.

Hardest of all is to see the broken pieces, the broken people, the profound and troubling issues that we face as a nation, and speak truth about it.  The truth is that we deeply and desperately need Jesus.  The victims and loved ones affected by the Orlando massacre need Jesus.  The officers and suspects and families involved in the fatal shootings need Jesus.  The officers and gunmen and families in Dallas need Jesus.  And no, I am not oversimplifying things.  You and I, outraged by the injustices splashed all over the headlines, filled with our opinions and ideas and yes, prejudices…oh, how we need Jesus.

Jesus is not a magic wand that wipes away all the problems.  But there is no getting to the root of the deep-seated prejudice we face without Him.  We live in a world profoundly warped by sin, and there are no easy answers.  In the aftermath of such tragedies, it’s easy to brush aside the headlines since we don’t know what to do with them.  Let’s not do that.

Dallas, we weep with you.

But tears aren’t enough, and so:

  • When I see goodness, I’ll celebrate it.  When I see evil, I’ll condemn it.  Regardless of who is doing it, I will call it like I see it.  And I will recognize that I don’t see it or know it all.
  • I will teach my kids as I daily remind myself that the great divide in our nation is a cosmic struggle, and that Satan is the real enemy.
  • I’m taking our issues, and I’m especially taking my issues to my knees.  I’m going to ask God to sift my heart of prejudice and bitterness and pride, and I’m going to repent of self-righteousness.  Maybe someone will join me, and together we can pray for this beautiful, messy, broken nation.

May God help us all.

 

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How To Overcome Fear And Know True Flourishing

diving board

Have you ever gone to bed with the light on?

It’s what happens when you’re a 21-year-old me, having stayed up till 2 a.m. to finish a suspense novel.  And when it so happens that the main character (a single young woman) wakes up to find some psychopath leering over her bed even though the deadbolt was fastened and the windows were locked. Shiver.

Fear can drive us to the brink of the ridiculous.  (As above.)

But sometimes, fear isn’t silly in the light of day.  It’s toxic.  And it’s a toxin we don’t even know we’re ingesting.

It can keep us from sending that letter, having that conversation, making that new friend, letting go of the familiar.  It’s scary to leave the kiddie end and head for deep water.  You know, the 9 foot end where the diving board is.  That end.  Oh, yes, we’re going there.  To the not safe, the less-than-sure bet, the downright scary.

Is there a way to flip fear on it’s ugly head?  If we pick up our towels and head for the deep end, will we thrash and drown?  Sometimes, it takes just one person being brave even when they’re scared.

Could we do that?  Who knows what kind of chain reaction we might trigger?

I’m over at iBelieve.com today exploring the deep end (and why we’re meant to go there.)  Join me?

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Some Days Aren’t Pretty

 Some Days Aren't Pretty - www.searchingformyeden.com

Some days are just plain hard.

Some days the ugly comes pouring out.  Some days it’s not sacred ointment I pour on His feet, but soul-vomit and tears.  Do you have those days, too?

When the haggard woman staring back is NOT so much the kind, sweet, put-together girl that you want to see, but some crazy lady who looks like she is one espresso shot shy of a latte.  (If you know what I mean.)

And as much as I want it to be all picture perfect, my life just isn’t.  Grouchy attitudes, unpleasant realities, and peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches smashed into car seats happens.  Irritations simmer, personalities collide, and the laundry mountain isn’t going anywhere.  (Except up.)  It is days like this when I most need to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel.

Jesus came to save.

And oh, it is His love that saves.  I don’t need to be reminded of how far short I fall, I need a love that never fails when I do, again.  The gospel holds up.  It takes the worst of us and gives back grace.  This is not a porcelain love to be admired on a tidy mantel shelf – it is a sturdy love to build a life on.  It is a hammer and nails kind of love that will hold you together when everything else is falling apart.

Love is not just for the pretty days, the sunshine and popsicle days, the days we’re kind of almost winning this whole life thing…it’s the arms that hold us when our world has crashed in.  When it’s the darkest night we’ve ever seen, the deepest pain we’ve ever known, when we are at the utter and total end of ourselves.  Love sustains.  In the face of senseless brutality, and the horror of evil played out in the reality of a fallen world, this love does not flicker out or wither away. It is an anchor, a beacon, a refuge.  It’s not going anywhere.

And in the mundane, the hormones-awry, kids-are-fighting, and hubby’s-late days, it still holds up.  It is the fabric of our very life, the fiber that weaves our torn pieces together.  This is not some cheap, synthetic blend that pills and wears through the first time it hits hot water and throw up.  This Jesus love is rugged.  It can endure the day-in, day-out tug of war between the girl we want to be, and the girl we are when the poop leaks out of the diapers and becomes something to use as finger paint.  (I am not. Even. Kidding.  Toddlerhood is a very body-fluids-intensive time of life.  Also, I use Lysol wipes by the case.)

When Psalm 61:3 reports that God is a shelter and a strong tower, it’s easy to forget that the writer knew what is was to have his world collapse.  His father in law literally ordered a hit on him, his wife was given to someone else, and he found himself rejected and betrayed multiple times.  His child died.  One son raped his daughter, and another son killed the rapist.  And that’s just the abbreviated version.  And yet, this grieving man found the love of God to be the one thing that could hold him up when everything else in his life was knocking him down.

I see it written all over the pages of sacred Scripture, and scattered across the ages of history: this faithful, sustaining love.  And yet, I hesitate.  I get distracted.  You, too?  When my wonder dulls, and I gloss over the truth about Calvary, I miss out.  My family misses out.  Because THIS day is not beyond His ability to redeem, too.

Saving grace is not just for eternity, it’s for here and now, too.  Jesus’ favorite place is not the church pew, but your kitchen table.  And your office.  And your laundry room.  His love is the most important thing, not because we must spend hours sitting and admiring it, but because it is the sturdy thing that carries us through the ugly moments, the hard things, and the endless routine.  His love elevates taking-out-the-garbage-and-washing-dishes mundane into something holy.

When we serve with love, drudgery becomes opportunity.  The gospel saves, yet again.  Not just your soul, but your day.

Because the Gospel is Christ’s love, applied.

And it makes all the difference.

Grace, peace, and wet wipes,

Kelly

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