Monday, January 10, 2011

What's All the Fuss About?

This past Saturday night, I was so blessed to be able to go to the Indianapolis Colts playoff game.  The hubby and I very very rarely just decide on a whim to spend money - and we had Christmas money - and the deal was done!

We had such a blast!  Even though our Colts lost in the final seconds with the Jets scoring a winning field goal, I always have so much fun with my best friend in the world!  Amazing how much fun we still have after 12 years together.

I will say, though, that a thought came to mind during the final seconds of that "important" game:

What's all the fuss about?

Don't get me wrong - I'm a true blue Colts fan through and through.  I was cheering loudly and waving my arms wildly along with the rest of the 12th man Saturday night.

But, really, when this life passes by, what's all the fuss about?

There stood over 63,000 people in the state of the art facility, watching guys run around a field with a leather object in their hands.  Thousands upon thousands spent on tickets to get there, drinks and food to be consumed, and souvenir cups, t-shirts and hats.  But what's all the fuss about?

I am no way saying that the atmosphere wasn't crazy exciting and I loved every moment - I was blissfully happy!

But my heart wonders just how many of those 63,000 hearts the Lord wishes would desire to know him.  How many of those screaming fans who would have stayed up hours upon hours to watch their team win, spent the next day even giving Him one second of thought - He is, after all, not just a mere man playing a game - He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who is all powerful and almighty!!!! 

And for those of us that call Him Father, how many of us have "cheered" on the mission of showing others His love as noticeably as they yelled and screamed Saturday night - whether at Lucas Oil Stadium - or at home on our couches.  How many of us have felt an adrenaline rush from seeing the Holy Spirit work lately - like we did during those final 58 seconds on the clock Saturday night.  How many of us have spent more time discussing the love of the Father and our extreme faith with him more than what happened in the game? When was the last time we felt the same kind exhilaration anew at the realization of His extreme love for us?

I love football - so so so much!  But I appreciate the reminder from the Spirit on Saturday of where my heart of worship lies.  Who should captivate my thoughts moment by moment of every day?

So gut check - in my life - what's all the fuss about??????

Matthew 22:37-38:  "Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment."

Trying to live this week keeping the main thing....the main thing.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

Love personified....

I know my husband loves me.  I've known it since practically meeting him and he's never - not once - given me a reason to doubt it.  Tommy goes above and beyond the call of duty in every area of our life together.  You will never hear me complain about his involvement in our home, raising our kids, and his level of commitment to anything.  He is the most giving person I have ever met - hands down.  To put it bluntly - he amazes me.

Last night, as we laid in bed and prayed, he approached our heavenly father.  He praised the Lord for all He is and all He has blessed us with.  He prayed for our girls - that they would grow in the Lord and that the Lord would equip us to raise them in Him.  Those things aren't new - Tommy prays like that all the time.

What amazes me is that he always knows just what to pray for me - how to approach the King of Kings on my behalf.  Often times, it is to give me strength to go about my day taking care of the needs of our household to the level that I feel the Lord expects of me, or for me to have peace about a certain situation, or other general requests that He knows are very real needs.

But never before, has he uttered these words in my presence to our Lord - and how did he know this was my greatest need right now from our creator??? He said, "Lord, please love on Rachel..."

I know, to some those words aren't amazing in and of themselves.  However, to me, last night as our household fell quiet for a few short minutes, he knew that no matter how much love he can give as a husband to me and a father to our girls, that when the day is done - to feel the love of my Savior is the one thing I needed - something that Tommy cannot give me or make me feel. Yet, he approached the Lord and begged him to "love on" me.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me my greatest love on this earth - who has pointed to you, the greatest love in the universe, to give me my greatest need....love.

And thank you for answering his prayer....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hope is NOT lost

As is the usual, last night was small group night with my high school girls and my awesome co-leader, Lynzie.  Something has happened with our group this spring and it's been so exciting!  The Lord has allowed them to open their hearts and have conversations that are very very real.  Walls have come down and opened the door for some pretty awesome talks.  They've been the kind of discussions that many adults (even many church-going adults) would struggle to be open and honest about.  I have enjoyed listening to their hearts and how completely transparent they are about their faith, their convictions and their sometimes-struggles with both.  Last night didn't disappoint. 

In the last couple of months, our conversations have covered these (and many other) topics:

Are people married in heaven?
Do we blame Satan for sin or humans?
What is heaven really like?
How do I reach others around me most effectively - by simply living the life and not pushing them or with a more conscious decision to have conversations about the gospel?
At what point on the scale are people cold, lukewarm or warm in their faith?  Where does on fire sadly turn into being lukewarm?
Is it a sin to be homosexual?
What baggage from my past do I bring to my relationship with the Lord?
Faith vs works
true inner beauty
Women's role within the church/home/family

Tough stuff - many things that I don't have the answer for or at best feel the Lord has taught me through His word.  I urge them to seek the truth out through scripture and prayer instead of relying on my word for it's surely not the standard by which to live. 

Thanks, Lord, for putting me in a place of ministry that blesses me 10x the amount I put in.  I don't deserve to be in their presence in the place you've put me!

Their generation is hurting, no doubt, but Wednesday nights give me hope!  All is not lost - they long to stand firm and stand tall for the Lord.  There is hope!

Friday, May 7, 2010

So much to be said, not enough paper...

...literally.

I was reading the last part of John this morning and I noticed something that I'm sure I've read many times, but simply never really grasped.

In John 21:25 in the English Standard Version after Jesus sits down with his apostles for one of the last times before his ascension it says, "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

This verse falls right behind John stating that he bore witness to all things written about in his book, and that each account is valid.  But I love how he just couldn't help but tack on these words at the end.  Like he wanted to write more but there was simply no possible way to recall and capture it all.  It is almost a noticeable change of tone.  John switches from the usual "scriptural" tone here into one that is more diary or journal in style- he even speaks in first person - he just can't help himself.  

As to what he said in this one short verse?  It speaks volumes!!!!  Jesus did so many things in his short ministry that John felt the need to describe their number and magnitude as too big to be held in all the books that could be written in the world!  Wow.

Th curious person in me wants to know so badly what some of those things were.  Was it many more miracles?  Was it more times simply being with his apostles and sharing the faith with them?  What all did they get to witness about our Savior?  I want to know more.

I hope in heaven that we get to see all these things. To somehow witness firsthand his life - every minute of Jesus' precious life. Every single thing that could have been written about.  If only there were enough books in this world to contain all he did.  But in light of his grace, that would simply be impossible, wouldn't it?

Amazing...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thankful for the things I haven't got....

I know I haven't posted for awhile.  It hasn't been neglect or forgetfulness.  It's been the fact that I simply haven't had anything to say.  One thing the Lord has been teaching me lately is to only speak when necessary and to measure my words carefully.  So here goes!  :-)

It's no secret that I'm blessed.  My family life growing up was very "all-american".  I grew up in a pastor's family where my parents loved each other and I never feared they would separate.  I had a brother, a dog, played sports, got decent grades, acted and sang, and lived the charmed life.   

Looking at the present, I have the best husband this mid-western girl could ask for, three beautiful little girls, and an extended family that continues to support and love me.  We've NEVER had a fortune - and that's an understatement.  We've ALWAYS made-do with less.  Up until recently I never feared that having less and making-do was a problem - I was used to it.

So, why do I fight that feeling now? 

Lately, as I walk around my home and around my town I notice so many things that I HAVEN'T got.  It's ridiculous!  Almost every step I make around my house reminds me of something that I wish we could either fix, paint, add to or replace to make our home something that is pleasing to the eye at every glance.  After three long years of doing this, it dawned on me this morning that I need to be thankful for the "have nots" and focus on what they represent.  So here goes:

Have nots:

I haven't got a nice kitchen floor.  It's cheap peel and stick wood-grain looking tiles that are broken and chipped.  We have a rug that tries to cover the imperfections.  BUT we have a kitchen floor.  Many people in the world would just love to have a kitchen.

I haven't got enough room to put all my dishes.  BUT we have food to put on those dishes and frankly, dishes to put our food in.  How ridiculous is it that I have 1 set of china from Tommy's grandmother, 2 sets of everyday dishes, 1 set of Pfaltzgraff for casual settings, 1 set of Pfaltzgraff for Christmas and countless pots, pans, rubbermaid containers, plastic cups, glasses, mugs, etc???  We can't even use it all!! 

I haven't got a oven that was created in the last decade.  It's old and ugly. BUT it cooks the food we are so blessed to have.

I haven't got an abundance of pillows for the window seat.  BUT I've got a window to keep the cold air out in the winter and the hot air out in the summer. 

I haven't got a flat screen tv.  BUT we have a TV and for that matter, we have electricity to be able to use the TV along with countless DVDs, video games, videos, and remote controls that most people in third world countries wouldn't even know what to do with. 

I haven't got fresh paint on my walls.  BUT I have walls to keep me sheltered from the wind and rain.

I haven't got very many items of furniture that isn't either a hand me down or new within the last decade.  BUT I have a bed that I sleep in cozy next to my husband, a couch to rest on after a busy day, and a old chair that I love to cuddle in with all three girls and read a good book. 

I haven't got a new van.  Ours is old, dirty, and stained from almost 5 years of handling all that kids can bring - spilled drinks, melted crayons, silly putty, etc.  BUT we have two vehicles that take us where we need to go.  And the van is almost paid off.  And while we're at it, we have enough money to put gas in these vehicles.

I haven't got a nice manicured yard.  Frankly, it's horrible.  BUT we have a tree that Aubrey loves to climb, Grass and pine needles that Gabby loves to make "salads" with and trees to watch grow with time. 

So, thank you Lord for the things that I haven't got....for you use them to remind me all the time of what I HAVE GOT!  Joy in salvation, blessings of a loving family, and a heart that is thankful for the things that really matter in this life.  If the "haven't gots" keep me looking straight to you, then by all means, continue on...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Focus by process of elimination

I'd been distracted.

Not so distracted that anybody had noticed.
Not so distracted that my faith decreased.
Not so distracted that I felt separate from the Lord.

Not hardly.

In fact, in many ways I feel like I had been growing - and in some ways I probably was.

But I was distracted enough to become careless.
I was distracted enough to lose my true zeal.
I was distracted enough to be rendered useless for a time.

It wasn't going to end - I wasn't going to let it. I loved those distractions. They shouldn't have been distractions, but that is what they became. My desire for them started pure but ended up as my idols. Satan used my desire for these good and pure things, to create something wordly and soiled - and I let him do it.

I claim ALL responsibility.

Those distractions are gone now. I wondered why for a time. But now I know and that brings me hope. And this is the only analogy I can use to explain it:

Every evening right around 8-8:30, Bailey has a fussy time. It's not her fault - there is so much going on around her. Aubrey and Gabby are running around finishing up their chores, finishing homework, getting books read to them, brushing their teeth, goofing off, etc. All the lights in the house seems to be on. The phone rings. Dishes are being washed.

And she's tired. I hold her - but the distractions are enticing and she longs to pull away from me. She is keenly aware of the fun sounds coming from her sisters. The lights in the house invite her to learn more from her environment.

But she needs to sleep and I know it.

Are all of these things bad in and of themselves?  Hardly. In fact, they are some of my favorite times in our home. The moments when we are all at home and life is happening. Things are being accomplished and enjoyed.

But they are distractions that pull Bailey away from what she needs at that moment. She needs the distractions to go away. She needs to drift asleep resting in my arms feeling safe and loved.

She chooses to pay more attention to the all that is going on around her. After all, wasn't it a few moments ago that she was laughing and playing with her sisters? Wasn't it just within an hour that we were eating off those dishes with her at our side - enjoying the cheerful sounds around our loud table?

Yes, but now she needs quiet.

As her mommy, I know that she needs to move closer to me and just focus on her time in my arms. She fights it. She pulls away and fights the gentle yet strong tug of my arms drawing her closer to my heart.

It becomes apparent that the distractions are keeping her from focusing on me. So, I remove the distractions one by one. The older girls are put to bed, the phone ringer is turned off, the dishes are put down and the lights in the house are turned low.

It takes her a moment to realize that the distractions are gone. She's so used to them that she still cries - and doesn't understand what to do next. Though she continues to fight, I continue to draw her closer to me. I sing to her softly and speak words of love that I hope somehow make their way into her little heart. I gaze into her eyes hoping that her eyes will lock with mine in a sweet recognition. I rock her gently in my arms pleading silently for her to be at peace in my arms - to realize that at that moment, being close to me is all that she needs.

And slowly, but surely she does. I feel her body relax and there is a moment that she realizes it's time for peace and quiet. It's time to simply enjoy her time in my arms. And there is peace.

Recently, the Lord removed some distractions from my life that apparently I just wasn't ready for yet. He took away the noise. He took away the glittery things that had turned my eyes from gazing into His. He took away things that are wonderful on their own, but for my wandering heart, they were just too much at the time.

I feel myself start to relax and there are moments that I have realized it's time for some peace and quiet. It's time to simply enjoy my time in His arms. Through all this, He is pulling me closer to him, singing to me softly and speaking words of love straight to my heart. He is gazing at me waiting for my eyes to turn towards His in sweet recognition. He has been pleading for me to be at peace in his arms - and to realize that always - at every moment - He is all that I need.