Grab your FREE eBook and exclusive content for Subscribers only:

Subscribe

FREE eBook:

Subscribe

FREE updates delivered to your inbox

Subscribe

Don't Miss A Post!

Subscribe

If Today is a “Quitter” kind of Day

“Steve’s wife’s run off again.”

I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, its just that the old men were talking so loudly over their McDonald’s breakfast that I couldn’t help but hear.

And I thought of another conversation I overhead a few months back. “Did you hear they are divorced now? No wonder, with her being stuck at home with those five kids and all…”

I think of the array of pressures that makes us feel we’re going to implode if we don’t get. out. now.

So we quit our husbands, we quit our kids, we quit relationships, we quit God. Oh, we don’t have to leave to quit either, do we? We can be right there in the middle of it and still be quitters.

There’s another conversation I’ve been privy to. It has changed everything for me. It’s the conversation between a quitter and God. And this woman really did have it bad.

She was a slave and when her owners decided that she was useful for getting what they wanted the most… a child…they used her to get it. Then, after she got pregnant, there was a lot of jealousy and strife so as low hen in the pecking order she was mistreated and abused.

She felt so helpless and alone that she up and left. Ran off. Like Steve’s wife.

She found herself in the middle of a desert. Destitute and pregnant. But she wasn’t alone and she wasn’t without hope.

God met her at her lowest moment and revealed Himself to her so powerfully….so powerfullythat she returned to the couple who had abused her and submitted herself to them.

That’s some kind of God, is all I’ve gotta say.

As I’ve studied the name of El Roi, I’m convinced that understanding the God who sees gives us the capacity to joyfully and willingly endure the hardships in our lives. You can find the bible study here: El Roi Finaland click here to read this post as originally posted.

(Updated post from archives)

Broken Daughter

It is when we reach the other side of Nashville on I-40 that I get the call: The Brookin’s girl was in an accident and is paralyzed from the neck down.

She is only 16. Lying in a hospital bed at the Med, spinal cord broken, unable to move.

“She’d gotten in the car with a drunk friend,” the message was relayed.

“The friend came away with a broken foot. Emily? Well…” the voice faded, then came back. “Evidently, she’d gone wild, after her mom up and went crazy a few years back.”

I knew the Brookin family, not well, but still they had come out on a short term mission trip to our city 5 or so years ago. They had seemed on fire for the Lord, excited to follow Him in even the unsafe ways He sometimes leads us in.

But then they returned home and Mrs. Brookin wasn’t so content with her life anymore. A mom of 4 little ones, going a little stir crazy, ready to go a little wild herself from the monotony, the mundane demands of motherhood.

She up and left one day. Vanished. Disappeared for two weeks while no one knew a thing.

Ended up leaving her family, living in isolation, never really a part of anything or anyone anymore. “She’s never been able to be there for her kids,” the voice on the other end of the line told me.

And I weep. I weep for a 16 year old girl with a broken neck… and a mom lost at sea who receives much less grace from Christians than her daughter will.

Yes, I weep.

During the night, I toss and turn, grieving for the lives of others. Grieving for what could have been. The story I’ve been privy to is a warning to me, because I know there is not one of us beyond it’s reality. Pride goes before a fall, and I’ve had my falls. From the Brookin’s ongoing story, I fear. I fear sin and it’s consequences, the pricetag is way, way too high.

And all through the night, I wake to this refrain: Live Loved!”

I see in the Brookin’s family the price tag for living un-loved, un-forgiven, un-receiving of the grace given. I see the high cost of living discontented and refusing to submit to God’s loving, sovereign hand in every day life. And I know this: there is a high, high price for me, my family, and the impact I make in ministry and community when I refuse to embrace all sufficient grace and give in to murmuring, complaining, controlling, resenting instead.

The Bible tells me I am to “Put off” those things, things like anger, bitterness, malice, resentment.

When I don’t, I take a gamble with my life and my future. Only it’s a gamble I can’t win, guaranteed.

If I’m going to allow motherhood to make me, I’ve got to live loved… every minute, every second. When the serpent slithers in and says, “You could be…” and “But what about …” I have a choice to make. I can listen and join in his little emotional tirade, or I can flat out refuse and instead believe that I am “Dearly loved.” Regardless.

Whether I’m changing a dirty diaper or running the kid rodeo at dinner time or trying to quiet a squabble, SO MUCH is riding on whether or not I live loved, receive grace, say “Yes, Lord.”

Fortunately, the Brookin’s story is not over.

Emily could have been killed, but she wasn’t.

Mrs. Brookin’s could have disappeared forever but she hasn’t.

And God could have given up on us all, but He didn’t.

So we can live loved. And we can start NOW.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen woman, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these virtues, put on love.” Colossians 3:12, 14

 

Challenge for us this week: Set aside the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions of anger, bitterness, resentment, and negative speech. Take up the love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, and patience that Christ has towards you and wrap yourself in them like a garment. Sure, it takes practice! But we are in this together and the more we practice, the better we get. So go, girl!

 

Related post/activity: Quiet Hearts Board Game (a calming, connecting activity to do with your children)

Written on His Palms

The kids are outside playing when she falls into old patterns.

I hear her before I see her through the window. She’s having a pity party and those victim garments she’s heaped on can be spotted a mile away. She’s pouting and sniffling and holding herself aloof from everyone, hoping someone will come along and pet her little pitiful self.

She makes her way to the patio, dragging her feet and hanging her head and I know she wants to come inside. But her old identity has been triggered by something and she’s operating from “victim” instead of from “daughter” and I know she’s going to test me on the way this is all supposed to go. She always does.

I stick my head out the back door. “Little Bit,” I tell her, “momma doesn’t listen to pouting. If you want to come inside, you use your words and ask.”

She gets mad at me. She really puts on the tears then and starts boo-hooing. She is unhappy that I’ve given her a way out, because really? A self-imposed victim doesn’t want a way out, they want to convince everyone they really are a victim. They want their flesh petted.

She hates it when I refuse to agree with her ”poor me” status, when I give her a way out of her pity party.

I tell her, “When you are ready to stop pining and use your words, knock on the door and let me know.”

I go back inside.

I watch her through the slats of the blinds. She pines and moans and groans and bewails.

I see her struggle, her desire to come inside battles against the demons of her past. But in order to come in, she’s got to give up her victim cloak, the identity of “abandoned.” She’s got to accept the fact that she’s got a voice and when she uses it, those who love her listen.

“Come on, Little Bit,” I murmur under my breath, hidden unseen behind the blinds. “You can do this.”

Finally, she inches closer to the door, bit by bit. She rubs her eyes with the backs of hands and quiets herself for a split second. She reaches her hand out to knock… then pulls it back, rubs her eyes some more and sheds a few more tears.

She just does not want to let go of the old identity: “Forsaken. Unloved. Abandoned. Helpless.”

Why is it that we think wearing those old garments of rejection will somehow protect us best?

I wouldn’t have heard it happen, but I was watching. I saw when she put knuckles on glass door. I nearly tripped over myself rushing to the door. I’m there so fast I surprise her.

“Did you knock?” I ask sweetly, innocently.

“Yesshh,” she tells me with her heavy tongue and I take her in and tell her she is loved and must use her words because mom is here to help but I can’t help if she only pouts and doesn’t tell me what she needs.

What I’m really telling her is that she has a voice.

“Oh sweetheart,” I want to tell her, “You have a voice and the reason I make you use it is because I want you to know that from the inside out. When you use your voice, you shed the old identity and you grow into your new one. You discover who you are and what you were meant for. I want you to see that momma and your whole family will move heaven and earth when you use your voice.”

But she is only 4 and I am an imperfect momma who doesn’t know how to communicate such rich, deep, sacred things of the heart and soul. Me, broken one myself.

So I just stroke her face and her hair and I look deep in her chocolate eyes and I see me ~ a girl so afraid to hope, to believe, to trust. So afraid to let go of the identity given her by no choice of her own.

Victims don’t decide what’s done to them. Victims don’t decide who they are in that inner most place. They are told. They become what others or circumstances say.

And I know this: Victims don’t have a voice.

It strikes me so clearly then that I’m stunned.

Is this why God tells us to ask? Because He wants us to know He’s given our voice back?

I’m incredulous. Yes, I think that’s it, at least in part.

All the times I sat pouring out my “prayers” to God…was it really no different than Little Bit’s pouting and whining? Was it really simply a poor me party that I was hoping He’d join in on?  And I took His silence for rejection…When all along, He was telling me to stop seeing myself as a victim and start asking.

Because He absolutely aches for me to live like the daughter I am.

“Use your voice, My child. Ask. There’s a reason I don’t listen to whining.” Because He will not validate or agree with my self  imposed victim status.

And time after time when my stubborn refusal brought me near heat stroke, He retrieved me from the yard with a sad smile and carried me in arms with eternal hope that maybe next time…maybe next time. Next time I’d open the lips, lift the tongue, taste a word.

Maybe next time I’d ask.

Victims don’t have a voice but daughters do. I trace my finger across the bridge of my daughter’s nose and tears drip down my face.

“Do you know what?” I ask her.

She nods yes, she does know and I laugh at her confidence because she probably does. I say it often enough.

“God gave you to me,” I tell her, “And He gave me to you. We’re here to take care of each other.”

She sees my tears dripping and when I draw her close, her normally rigid body clings to mine.

 

Later, I’m jotting this down, recording holy ground moments between two hearts God has entwined. The Voice speaks to my heart and suddenly I’m the one standing outside on the patio, tears falling, rubbing eyes, wanting to knock but knowing it means letting go of all that old stuff.

“You don’t knock for the same reason she doesn’t,” He tells me. “You’ve grown far too comfortable in those shabby clothes, the rejection of the past, the shame and condemnation, the identity of “unworthy” and “not good enough” and “worthless.”"

“And I’m telling you to Ask, Seek, and Knock. I’ve given you back your voice. I’ve given you a new identity. I’ve given you the ability to move and breathe and bless and love. I’ve given you a new family and I’m your Daddy. The more you ask, seek, and knock, the more separated you become from that old self that no longer applies.”

“These are the keys for moving from Victim to Victor.

Before, you learned that if you used voice, you were ignored, condemned, or hurt. Now, as you ask and see Me respond, you will learn to trust Me with all your heart.

Before, you learned that if you tried to find a way out, you were beaten down mercilessly. Now, as you seek and find what your heart craves, you will learn that you can open up, risk, and find real, full life.

Before, you learned that if you knocked no one would listen. Or worse, it was a waste of precious energy. Now, as you knock and discover My riches opening to you, you will exit the bondage of the past and enter the fullness of My provisions.

In these things, I have outlined for you My fail-proof method to overcoming victimization. Therefore, Ask and it will be given. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.”

And clinging to the hand of my Eternal Daddy, I do.

 

Adoption is teaching me, more than anything that ever came close, to enter into the inheritance given me in Christ Jesus. It is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done…gut wrenching, mind boggling, heart rending…but just as a  mother bears down in agony to birth life, so I bear down to enter in.

 

Sir Dalton {and other Travel Treasures}

We pulled into rest stop for the bazillionth time.

As I herded children out of the van and into the surprisingly clean restrooms, hoisted them onto toilets, even remembered to put paper coverings down first, cleaned, washed, allowed free time to run…I found myself contemplating what I’d heard.

I was eager to hear how Sir Dalton fared. But of course this was a young adult audio and I would never let on that I was perhaps more interested in the story than they were.

The tale of Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart

Sir Dalton is a knight of the King and Prince. He has been trained to use his sword in the King’s missions. Yet when he encounters a massive Shadow Warrior ~ Lord Drox ~ he finds his training insufficient to protect him from being captured and taken to Drox’s prison.

It’s a prison without bars or doors, yet fear keeps the prisoners bound.

It is here where Sir Dalton has to face the deadliest shadows of all, those in his own heart, if he is to escape Drox’s prison and rescue the other prisoners there.

This audio book is a delightful dramatized story with surprising spiritual parallels. It kept our family talking about spiritual concepts for some time and I’m still pondering the beauty of it. Highly recommended for the whole family. {Now I hope to find Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue
on sale!}

Other Travel Treasures we enjoyed during our road trips:

The Pilgrim’s Progress (Abridged)

NIV Listener’s Bible on DVD® Complete Old & New Testament

For God and Country (Adventures in Odyssey)

We purchased these audio dramatizations on sale throughout the year for as little as $5. If you aren’t accustomed to browsing the audiobook section in your local bookstore, I recommend you start. I have found some really great deals and especially in the case of Sir Dalton, I can say that I am very well pleased. {A little coffee talk from one mom to another ~smile~ }

Quiet Hearts Board Game

**Updated link for those of you having trouble finding the game board template…

Today I’m at Raising Homemakers sharing about finding and developing your inner quiet space. Would love to have you join in the comments…

And here’s a gift for you, one of our family creations to help calm spirits and renew the mind. Enjoy!

 

Feeling antsy and discontent? Kids bickering? Need a rescue but don’t know what to do? Try this! Draw everyone close and find your quiet space.

Make your own Quiet Hearts Board Game:

1. Download and print the blank game board piece (thanks DonnaYoung.org)

{If the links above do not take you to the game board template, click here and then scroll down to mid page. The template that matches the Quiet Hearts Board Game instructions is  called “Start to Finish #01.” Just click and print!}

2. Print off Arabah’s instructions for making the game here. (You can print the instuctions by clicking on the print button at the bottom of the post.)

3. Print off Arabah’s instructions for playing the game here. (You can print the instructions by clicking on the print button at the bottom of the post.)

That’s it! I enjoyed working with my children to make this project and will continue to use it when we all need a calming, connecting exercise. I hope it does the same for you.

To those afflicted in mind or emotion

They say still waters run deep and I’ve always been deep and still. But sometimes words bubble up, don’t know where to go, crash around inside.

So I get up and bang a few out here in this space.

My aunt, she lost her mind. Emotional weakness has always been part of my family, that and the mental. The older I get, the closer to me it seems to come…and I’ve wondered if I’ll be plumb swept away in the torrent.

And yet.

I’ve pondered long on great men and women of the faith, men like Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther, women like Mother Teresa. Those who deeply struggled internally, fiercely fought depression, grasped at faith with phantom claws.

And I’ve come to a conclusion or two.

We understand and even extend special graces to those with physical, relational, or health-related afflictions. We assume they have learned hard lessons and we grant them our time and attention. We believe that God uses affliction and surely their lives must be a mural on which He is painting a sacred story.

So we listen. We honor. We watch in awe. We learn.

But when it comes to emotional or mental affliction, we recoil.

It’s part of our American mind-set: if you are “spiritual,” then you will be “happy in Jesus.”

If you aren’t happy in Jesus, going through your days on spiritual cloud 9, then you are not spiritually mature and you have not found the secret to living the Christian life.

There is a lot in the Scriptures that talk about the mind, no doubt. Such as instruction to live transformed by renewing it; and we are kept in perfect wholeness by fixing it on God.

However, nowhere in scripture is there implication that keeping the mind stayed on Christ is simple or quick. Or painless for that matter. Neither does the Bible say that our adversary will quietly allow us to take mental and emotional territory from him without any sort of onslaught!

The truth is that when you have learned and lived by poor habits in thinking and have been ruled by your feelings, conquering that spiritual battle is all out war and there is nothing easy or convenient about it.

This I know.

I am absolutely loving reading through David’s life in my One Year Chronological Bible), because it intersperses the Psalms he wrote at the place in his life scholars best guess he wrote them.

In this way, with a simple read-through, you see him fighting Goliath…then singing a psalm….running from Saul…then fighting for faith in composing a psalm…hiding out from enemies…then pouring his heart out to God in song.

It sort of sounds like a man mentally and emotionally afflicted.

Why did God allow, even ordain, David to live so many years running from Saul, moving from cave to cave, no safe place to settle down? He was God’s elect! He was God’s anointed! He was royalty.

God’s chosen, living the nomadic life of the outcast.

Why? Because affliction of all sorts are meant to train us in the same thing:

“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” I Sam. 23:16

“David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered…But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” I Sam. 30:6

And to the two women who labored hard alongside Paul but who struggled relationally, Paul told the body to “help these women!” How? By coming alongside of them and showing them how to “rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phil. 4:1-4)

Paul himself gives this testimony: “For we do not want you to be ignorant of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
“Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” (II Cor. 1:8-9)

It is clear to me that our mental and emotional afflictions can serve the purposes of God just as much as other types of afflictions, and they all boil down to one aim: finding our strength, hope, very life itself in nothing but Christ.

Are you afflicted today? Don’t add condemnation to your affliction! Accept your affliction as the tool of God to bring you to a place where He is the sole object of your trust.

Instead of fighting against the affliction, Practice strengthening yourself in the character of God (which is another fight of sorts, but don’t lose heart! You are now fighting with purpose.)

Then rejoice! For this is the place of great strength, the place
where you walk in Christ on your high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

In the Footsteps of those noble…

Happy Independence Day…

Declaration of Dependence

I’m sitting at the corner table and never would have paid mind, except for the fact that Big Momma was so confident and so…big.

“You know if you need anything, you call yo’ momma.”

“Yes ma’am.”

And I looked up to see the extraordinary people having this conversation. Big Momma stood with her back against the door, ready to push off and leave behind and her son, an 18 or 19 year old fledgling man, sat at a booth with a friend.

“You know where’da come to.” Big Momma succored with her words.

“Yes ma’am.”

Then she was gone and the young men continued with their conversation like everything was normal, but I was not normal.

I felt a pang in the heart that lodged in the throat. “What would it be like to have that kind of momma?” I wondered, “the kind of momma that nourished and nurtured with her words, built up instead of tearing down?”

“What would it be like to be that kind of momma?” I wondered that too.

I’m a mare, eyes wild, swishy tail, antsy feet. It’s inbred in me- to run. Just like the forefather’s scrawling bold names to their Declaration, I’ve stamped my heart with the word “Independent” as a warning sign to anyone who might try to capture me…and I’m real good at hightailing it.

Some people call it intimacy disorder. The inability to attach. I’ve got it.

It’s the result of trauma. Abuse. Woundedness. Or the inheritance from forefathers who never learned attachment themselves.

It’s the deadly disease my parents have and their parents before them and I can’t help myself and I’ve asked for years how do I change?

I come from a family who confuse religion for relationship; sex for intimacy; possessions for presence; a clean house for affection.

I’m deeply touched by Big Momma standing in that doorway telling her son, “You know if you need anything, you call yo’ momma. You know where ‘da come to.”

I’ve never, ever had a momma (or a daddy) like that. Mine pushed me away. They weren’t strong enough to handle their own lives and messes and inner turmoil, much less the deep and growing, seeping mess of mine.

So I learned independence and independence became my savior.

I’m un-versed in attachment. I never learned the rules of relationship. I do “independent” destructively well.

But there in the voice of that momma, I hear the voice of my Daddy. He wants those unversed in attachment to stop running and “come to yo’ Daddy.”

I don’t have to be independent.

In fact, that is a lie. After sin entered the world, the first man and woman believed they had to run and hide. They believed they were on their own. Relationship was severed. Intimacy disorder became part of mankind’s birthright.

Yet God sought them out and He still stands at the door and knocks and anyone who opens up, He will come in…and bring dinner too! (Revelation 3:17f)

In spite of what we believe about ourselves and our condition, It’s a lie to continue thinking we must live independent.

I leave my corner table and go home in time for the family breakfast table and ask myself some hard questions.

What are the ways I run from relationship?

I ponder the ways and it all boils down to not giving presence. Giving presence is the building block, one gift on top of the other,  of relationship. The more you give, the stronger and deeper the relationship.

Presence in the lovely and the unlovely. Presence when you know what to do and when you don’t. Presence when it’s convenient and when it’s not. Presence when it’s needed and presence when there isn’t awareness of need.

It is the way an infant is cared for and we consider the sleeplessness, the inconveniences, a small price for the precious life given us.

But then they get older by a year or two or ten and we expect them not to need presence. We punish them by taking presence away when they are un-lovely.

We substitute possessions for presence…just because it is more convenient and fits our busy lifestyles better.

We don’t know what to do, so we don’t do anything…forgetting that we always have presence to give.

Isn’t this how God Himself teaches us the ropes of relationship? “Fear not, for I am with you! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”

We who confuse relationship. We think relationship is doing, going, buying, providing.

Relationship is mostly being. Together.

“God, an ever present help in time of need…”

So I ask how can a relational derelict like me be redeemed? It sure isn’t through independence.

The words come from the Ever-Present One: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Start investing.

Later, I go look it up because I want to make sure the principle really is there in black and white. It is:  Our hearts follow our treasure.

For a relational bum who treasures self protection and self preservation, the easiest way to change my heart then is to start investing in a different treasure chest. Start making deposits in a more lasting, more worthy account.

I can change investment plans.

I can reverse intimacy disorder.

I can give my children a different lineage.

It is Father’s words that succor me this time: “Remember, I was in the burning bush, and it burned but was not consumed. You feel that pouring out to all the needs of your loved ones will burn you clean up, dry you out, take every drop you’ve got… but where I am, the bush is not consumed.

“I’m in presence. I AM Presence. You will burn but not be consumed.”

I sit and jot down a Declaration of Dependence. It’s my new investment strategy. I’m learning the rules of relationship from Father and I need another Cheat Sheet. It’s crude but it’s a start.

4 ways to invest in relationships:

~Time: Give presence by limiting (even scheduling!) the time each family member spends on the rectangles in the home (TV, computer, ipod, DS, cell phone, etc) Replace rectangle time by drawing loved ones close instead and ask, “What do you want us to do together?”

~Touch: Set kitchen timer to chime every hour and draw little ones close for a short story in the recliner, a back scratch,  or an “I Love You Ritual.”

~Talk: Be available whenever your spouse or children want to talk. Even when it’s at 11pm and you are dead tired. Or when it is your computer time. Make it a principle of life to prioritize presence, even when the demands seem downright unreasonable.

~Throne of Grace: Daily pray for each family member; fast once a week with spouse for children. Give presence before the Throne of God on behalf of your kids.

**Will be traveling most of July, investing in relationships. Sporadic appearances around here for awhile…

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...