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From the inside out

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Sometimes these days I avoid telling people I’m married to a preacher. I’m proud of his calling and thankful for each opportunity he is blessed with to share God’s Word. I suppose I just don’t like the ideas that it conjures up in people’s minds. Okay, maybe it’s not people. Maybe I don’t like the ideas it conjures up in my mind. There’s more to me than that. God desires more for me than that.

Stay with me, here. I can already tell some have gasped at my confession. I really do have a meaningful purpose for sharing this.

I have shared my pitfalls of perfectionism, my inability to show grace to others or even myself. It’s not news that I have spent my early years as a saved person more concerned with the outward than with the inward. It’s a shameful thing, really and it put a huge damper on my relationship with Christ.

There is freedom in Christ, yet so often times we put ourselves in bondage under the law of man. I can’t explain the freedom I felt when God showed me that my job is to please no man, but to please Him. The way I live as His child – first and foremost- is a deep matter of the heart and not of the clothes I wear or how much I do. Those things are a result of the beautiful transformation taking place on the inside. Those things should always bring glory to the work HE has done in my heart, not to stroke my ego on how spiritual I am. It must start with being His first – getting into the Word, praying, letting Him do the work. If we are obedient to His will, the changes will come. He will do amazing things through us. Anything less than going to Him is done out of the flesh, apart from the Spirit – plain and simple.

I am trying to get a better grasp on this as we have journeyed this awkward season of growth in our lives. We are where we are because we failed to look to Him for our strength and motivation – but instead sought after shaping up what looked good on the outside. This is a beautiful time of exploring God’s Word and allowing Him to truly shine through.

I am married to a man who has been called to preach. Even more so, he is a man who is saved by God’s grace and desires to serve Him. He seeks the Lord on leading our home. Before he was ever the guy who got behind the pulpit, he was the sound man in the back praying for his lost wife to get saved. And he was a child of the King. Before we are anything else, that’s who we are. That’s our identity. Before I’m ever the preacher’s wife, I’m his wife. Before I’m his wife, I am God’s child. I’m not good at any of those if my priorities over my relationship with God are out of whack. I don’t even know what any of that truly means in God’s mind if I’m not even following Him.

For God to save us and give us a new life, it’s a sad shame to still be dictated by the world and man as to how we ought to live. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit and the Word to help us grow into the people God wants us to be. We make a mess out of something so simple and amazing, don’t we? It doesn’t have to remain that way. Get back to square one. Get back to where you went wrong. And let God put the pieces together, to put you back on the path you belong. Follow Him, let Him work on you from the inside out … let the evidence of His Spirit speak for itself.

I said there’s more to me and that’s not because I am dissatisfied with the gifts and calling of God. I said it because God is much more than a label or a brand. Being His child, beginning at the wondrous work of salvation, is a transformation from the inside out. Any roles we are given beyond that is just icing on the cake – ultimately to bring honor and glory to the name of Christ.

Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

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“Nitpicking”

imageMonday was a great first day back to our regular routine after my hubby’s two weeks off. I got the house in order, dinner was on the table, and I was ready to see my sweetheart after a long day without him. As I sat at the table, I noticed my oldest scratching her head as she said, “Mom, you’ve got to wash my hair. It itches so bad!” I remembered how she had complained the night before at church and that it seemed odd.

Not willing to have a night obsessing over the possible cause, I did a quick check of her hair to ease my worries. I’d tell her it was probably just an itchy head or something and life would go on.

This is where its about to get real. I debated on sharing this on my public blog, but I figured if I’m going to tell you about my love for God’s grace and coffee – I would need to be transparent about this too.

“What’s lice, Mom? What’s wrong with me?”

My oldest looked totally embarassed and freaked by the idea that I saw a bug in her hair. I tried to console her and tell her it’s no big deal, we were just going to have to do a lot of work to get rid of it. My husband came home after his long and hot (no a/c in the Ford plant) ready to tackle it with me.

I felt terrible that he couldn’t come home and have the relaxing evening that I had planned, but he kept a wonderful attitude about it. He contained the other kids and threw everything in the laundry. We vaccuumed everything and bagged up stuffed animals. In spite of the head lice debacle causing more chaos than I cared to experience, I think I fell in love with my good man even more. Something about him being such a good Daddy even after a tiring day just makes me swoon.

The combing or “nit picking” has been the most irritating thing of all, but we’ve made the best out of it. Everybody snuggles on the couch, I get my comb (that I boil for 10 minutes after) and handy flashlight and get to working through every strand. Twice a day. So, perhaps that’s not much fun, but getting to talk to my girl and hang out is fun. She’s been such a trooper and I promised her a big treat once this is all over.

This kind of stuff, the childhood illnesses and annoyances like lice … I can’t say I’m ever happy to deal with them. However, I wear my job as a Mama with much pride. I’m thankful that I get to be the one to snuggle them when they are sick and yes, even comb for those blasted nits.

We have to re treat everything next week so I’m not looking forward to that. I will be glad when this is all over. But I still love my life and I love what I do. I’m blessed. 😊

 

 

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Sunday morning

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Do you ever have a memory stored in your mind, an image kept in your heart that some days you just ache to see again? Here is mine:

Sunday mornings were always joyful. The ones in the summer were best, as we’d roll into the parking lot to see the sun beaming down onto the church. My husband’s aunt followed closely behind, having just made a trip to McDonalds. She didn’t have much, but she liked to make sure our kids had a chocolate chip cookie and her sisters had their coffee. My kids couldn’t unbuckle themselves back then, so they’d wiggle and squirm with excitement as they waited for me to let them out. Once free, they ran to their aunt  with hugs and asking the obvious question, “what you got for me?”

I’d fuss at them for being impolite, but their aunt loved having something to give them. It gave her pure joy to love on them.

I remember standing outside the church doors, as my father in law would make his way over to open them. My mother in law and I would always exchange compliments on each other’s dresses, as we both love wearing pretty dresses. My kids would find my husband’s little sister, a little surprise that came along later in life for his parents. They’d grab her hand and yank her toward the door.

As I would walk into that sanctuary on that bright, sunny Sunday morning, I would experience such a peace. Yes, I understand that a church is just a building. However, I loved walking into the quiet hush of the room before anyone else came in, before any lights were on. Truly, you didn’t need them because the sun cast amazing rays through the windows onto the pews. It was a holy place because God’s Word was preached there. Voices had been lifted up in praise to sing for His glory. And although it was still quiet in this moment, I could almost hear the echo of the preacher and the singers that had been there in times past.

My favorite place to go first was the piano. I was just beginning to learn, but I couldn’t resist the instrument any time I passed it. I’d practice whatever I had been working on, loving the full sound that the piano would project. Maybe it sounded terrible, but I loved it.

People would begin to filter in for Sunday school as my other sister in law would take over on the piano. There was probably some quarrel with she and my husband over playing Christ Arose, but she played it beautifully. The song would be announced and she would give the intro, the cue for the small congregation to sing. In harmony with the other singers, my heart would swell at the words in each verse, my spirit in agreement with it’s message;

Low in the grave He lay / Jesus, my Savior 

The two verses would be sung and all would be dismissed on their way to Sunday school. I would watch my little ones toddle off to their class, as I grabbed my Bible to walk on to my own.

Simple. No bells and whistles. Just an old country church, some folks that loved JESUS, and the anticipation of what He had for me that day.

That was four years ago and life has changed. We are no longer with that little church, though it holds a special place in my heart. I was saved there, married there, I grew there … there is no denying its role in my life. I can never go back to that time and return to that memory. I can’t live in it either. However, I can continue to move forward with a desire for the same simplicity my life held then. I was facing several trials at that time, was in emotional turmoil. And yet the house of God is where I found rest and peace. Church is where I’ve experienced my deepest hurt and have watched my dreams shatter. It’s also where I have found the Lord, love, grace, and a heart to serve Him.

Memories are beautiful and indeed, we can’t live in them. I thank God that He has given me a sharp memory, though. Sometimes it’s just sweet to remember good God has been.