Going to the Source

Its been a long two weeks for me. Rachel joined our church on a mission in England, volunteering at a festival in southern England. I know that I encouraged her to go as we felt the calling of the Holy Spirit and that this was a time that we needed to learn and listen to what God was saying, but its been a long two weeks with my boys without her. What did I learn, that I need Love and Patience to continue as a leader.

Funny part about this need is that even though these words seem to have a separate spectrum of character, they cannot be without each other. First, the definition of patience is long suffering with Love. However, I don’t think that most people would define patience within Love. Google defines love as a deep affection for something and then into the modern cultures sexual perspective.

We might say that Patience is a by product of Love, but is it really? Many people are familiar with I Corinthians 14:4-8 (Love is patient, love is kind) which might argue this, but I believe that these two are only part of who we are meant to be in the full spectrum. All who believe that Jesus is God also are submitting themselves to the Spirit of God should be submitting themselves to the fruits of the Spirit which is a work of God (also called Sanctification, just didn’t want to throw that out there as I have friends who are unfamiliar with that word). In Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

My point is this, I suck at all of these, not just patience and love….. but really you cannot live one fully without the others. Its easy to believe that you are a loving person, but if you lack peace or faithfulness, are you really living in love? Our greatest call is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In love, we reach out to others and put them before ourselves rightly (as not out of command but with true humility) that they may know God fully. But without exercising all aspects of the Spirit, we cannot love. However, our saving grace is that God gave to us his Spirit to bring about the Fruit. Which means to love others means to allow him to work within us and our worship and obedience will result in the love to our family, neighbors, road hogs, or disgruntled coworkers not listening to what I am saying. Yes, I have issues with the people around me. But we will never find perfection as long as we are living, this world is only doomed for destruction after the fall of Adam, but I can allow my spirit to be perfected as I am a sojourner here traveling to eternity.

Really in all, I am missing so many parts of being the humble leader that I need to be within my home. But that’s ok as long as I’m submitting myself to listen to what God is teaching me now and to allow Him to pick me up and chastise me as I fall away or go my own course. That is the beauty of His plan and not mine. Where I lack or try to control, He will use to break me down and use me for His purpose down the road. Another subject is consequences of going my own way, but that is another blog. Seek Him with your whole heart and He will reveal himself (Jeremiah 29:13), and as you continue to seek Him, the Holy Spirit will bring about all who we are meant to be.

(Sorry if this blog is rambling or jumbled in thought. Needed to write again to keep writing as I hate to write and would love to end the habit. As I was about to write, my youngest woke up early and woke his brother up. I have multiple sets of ankles in my side as I write.)

Getting up to Speed

I think that its fitting to touch on a major aspect of leadership that I’m learning about. That’s right, tonight is about me actually learning to lead these last several months, not manage life and family. I can’t say I’m anywhere close to perfection, but at least I have been given goals so I have a better idea where I’m going.

Two analogies come to my mind when I think about my role as a leader. One is driving a car. Every first time driver struggles even at low speeds as they learn to drive (or consider the idea of “leading”) the car. The car may react in certain ways due to the performance of the vehicle and outside conditions, but ultimately the driver is the one leading or directing the vehicle. Second analogy that I like, and it may be because I’m a guy, is that of a ship’s captain. A ship’s captain, when at see, has to lead the vessels crew in order to achieve the purpose of the voyage that he was given. The captain isn’t necessarily alone in his task as he will have the help of his lead officers to accept advise from and handle the crew. And so is life and marriage.

Why bring up these two analogies and aren’t they a bit cliche? Yes, a bit cliche but they each have aspects that we can all learn from. The driver is the more singular aspect of the leading and taking responsibility of what happens with the vehicle on the road. The driver is the sole leader of the car, no other seat has control over the vehicle. The ship is a better analogy of the family as other people (wife and kids) are on board who have to trust the captain who is leading the vessel. The captain needs the crew to operate the ship and has to trust their expertise in order to carry out their voyage’s purpose, but ultimately holds the responsibility for the ship and any problems that may ensue.

There are other aspects of leadership that I will touch on but i wanted to talk about my hardest struggle first. It is so easy for me to just want to turn this part of life on cruise control and try to coast through an easy streak of time. In other words, I like to be lazy and I don’t always want to plan ahead; and then when the decisions start getting rough and there are consequences for my lack of forsite or that I just have to face some hard stuff in general, I falter. I learned to be the peace keeper as the middle child, didn’t necessarily care whether people loved each other, I just don’t like confrontations. Though I’m not a lazy person in the present, my lack of vision in the future set my marriage off in a poorly and without ground to lay a foundation for the future. Here I was met with many confrontations that I couldn’t fix.

Pride of how I did things was my initial downfall as i thought that I was a leader and was leading. As conflicts arose due to my blindness of self, my wife saw through my thin layer of smarts/pride and became frustrated, and I had no idea how to appease the matter. I did the opposite of leading and gave up my right as a leader to just manage our marriage leaving us directionless for the most part as I looked for full time employment. Rachel tried taking control and did her best, but that isn’t what she was called for, I was called to lead the home and take responsibility whenever crap hit the fan. The beauty is though that I can still step back in by the Grace of God and can see the weight leaving my wife. This is what I’m being called for in right now, to take the burden of making the decisions at home. Though we make all our choices together, I bear the burden of them as I need to lead the family.

I feel like I’m over cooking the turkey at this point. Its been a struggle over the years for me to always except what has happened and the circumstances thereof. But I have come to the realization that I don’t want to live a comfortable life and seek my own pleasure; but I want to lead my family deeper into the plan that God has for us. Don’t know where that is yet, but that is part of the journey that Rachel and I will explore together. She just doesn’t need to have to worry about the direction, but needs to stand by me and advise and we listen and pursue the plan God has purposed for our life.

Finding Motherhood

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It has been hard for me being a mom to know who I am called to be. I socialize with variety of moms: career, part time, homeschool, public school, and stay at home moms. It can get confusing by all the varieties and have such huge expectations on what a mother should be. It’s pressuring to hear the statements about mom’s in our culture today: Mom’s don’t have a life, they can’t can’t be ambitious, they shouldn’t work, they shouldn’t be bored, and stay at home moms don’t have a voice. It’s those voices that eat at me that I’m not good enough. That I’m not doing enough for my children. I’m considered selfish if I seek an ambition if it isn’t hundred percent my children.  And If I don’t, I’m a failure as a woman for not being anything other than a mom. 

Recently, I’ve been readying a little bit about culture. From the start God called out, made out, and drew out the culture that He wanted his children to live by. Unfortunately, people and history have changed and reformed our God based culture. I have noticed how much I have accepted through culture without even realizing it. I have grown to adapt and be numb to some of what our the culture says of us. Coming to understand now, how much I need to renew my mind of who God says I am. Who He says I am called too and what He asks me to believe in. Especially this lie that was really giving me a hard time, ‘ “Women or mom’s can’t be ambitious.” ‘ It is God given for women to dream, be ambitious, and be creative. Since we are created in His image, we inherit his characteristics. He is very much ambitious and creative. This is one of the things I felt relief. It is natural for mom’s to be ambitious and creative. 

God has written a plan for all of us mammas and no mother has the same calling. We all have our different callings, which means we must take it to the Lord in prayer. Because I personally, can go crazy confused when it comes to observing different mothers or asking for advice. That’s why I think it has been so good for me to step back and to just seek God in this timing.

I was listening to a sermon while on the tread mill. It was a bad day and I was really frustrated and confused about my purpose and what the heck was I suppose to do! God’s words came out in my mind like plane as day, “You need to seek me right now.” It may not have been the answer I was looking for, but it gave me a goal and a mission.  It also gave me a relief that God was listening to me. Because I have been feeling so guilty of wanting to be ambitious to do something. At the same time feeling lost on how to raise my kids and plan my days day after day. 

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you;
 seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. "
 Luke 11:9

Slowly, my Father is unraveling healing and understanding. He has closed a lot of doors that has made me frustrating and hurt. This verse might have seemed controversial, but if we look past the selfishness it isn’t. It doesn’t mean he will give us what we want. He will give us exactly what He knows we need and what He can fulfill us with.  While I have been writing this, I have come to understand that He was closing doors really to save me from things that wouldn’t have been fulfilling. That He is showing me what I am really seeking. Right now He is showing me true meaning and fulfillment.  I am learning to accept the direction He is calling me even if I don’t fully know it yet. 

Mother’s are asked to do some hard things. It’s full of responsibility, repetition, and sacrifice. I don’t know about you, but I long for a goal and meaning in my life just as much as I enjoy my cup of coffee. I want to practice my ideas and skills. I desire to not have just meaning in purpose in my home, but outside of it.  I think with time and healing God can renew the lies in our mind of what a women is suppose to be, and find joy and meaning in what God has called us to do uniquely individually. No mother has the same calling, so be encouraged, keep the faith, He has given you a meaning and a hope for the future. 

Hugs.

 

 

 

 

Call to Action

As I introduced myself last week, I’ve felt lead to write about what I have been called to do in my life and ultimately affect my family’s life. I need to lead. I used to think that this could just be managing things within my home, but that blew up in my face. This is where I saw my short comings as a husband and a father, this is where the refining fire began to show me aspects of myself that I needed to learn for our future.

Part of life is that we assimilate what we know or have experienced into who we are. My dad did a great job leading the family which must have taken great strength, especially as we were five rambunctious kids. He has always been a good role model but I lost site as I began to take my own path to support myself and then my wife. I began to learn the manager lifestyle. I’ve always had good or decent managers that I have worked under; but they mostly only worked to run their store and to get duties done. They facilitated conversation and supported those who reported to them.

This is how I was “leading” my marriage and kids. I got stuff done; meaning I went to work, helped with chores around the house, played with the kids… I facilitated conversation, which one can imagine meant my wife was bringing most of the conversation to the table and was asking the important questions about how we were supposed to be raising our children. Talking about placing a burden on our marriage. Oh, and I’m not the most considerate guy, taking to mind that my wonderful wife needs her own time regardless if she is voicing it or not. Managing in a reactive style.

Two years ago, Rachel and I went through a time of painful realization that I was disengaged from the family as I was pursuing what I thought was my calling. As we worked through that year with job changes and moving, I learned to be more of a proactive manager, which released some of the strain in our marriage but I was continuing to manage life instead of  living life under my Heavenly Fathers leadership and learning.

Come this year, I knew God had been working in me as I now have a clearer view of what it means to be a husband and father, a leader. As the leader in the home, I’m not above or the only one handling the direction of the home. But it does mean that I finalize the decisions made within our family; it means I take responsibility when crap hits the fan; it means that my wife can let go of the pressure of being the only one raising the kids as I step in to help raise them. My generation is lost due to the lack of leaders in the home; the lack of men and women stepping in alongside of them when they were younger. The idea that money will bring happiness has driven parents from their kids giving many youth and young adults little discernment on who they should be looking up to as role models. I pray and aspire that this will not be how Rachel and I raise our two boys and coming daughter to be left to be blown around without any roots to hold them fast to truth.

This is my past and what the Holy Spirit is calling me from. He has been calling me for a long time to leave behind my feeble attempts to manage life, but I wasn’t willing to hear that short coming. But now he has broken through that point of pride in my life. Cost of gambling with my pride is much too high for my family’s sake. I have visions for each one of them that I believe where given by the Holy Spirit for me to pour into them, but why listen to someone who doesn’t have the strength to face up to life themself?

Call to Leadership

At the turn of this year, I was on a mission trip in Russia. It was a time that I knew God was calling me from monotony that I had allowed to creep into my day-to-day life and to live for something other than myself. It is times like these that the Holy Spirit speaks, and He called me to push deeper and to become the leader in my home before calling me and my wife forward in what He will have for us.

First off, I have appreciated the phrase my pastors’ use that as Christians we are called from where ever we are in our spiritual walk to where the Holy Spirit is moving. This calling sometimes is/isn’t specific to an individual, but it is up to all individuals to act upon and set aside whatever might hinder the moving of His Spirit in their lives.

But that was a side note. For some years now, I’ve felt that I am being called to serve the body of Christ in some way but never acted on finding out how. Dreamed at times of speaking, though I’m not a great public speaker. Two words were spoken to me that I reflected on while I was there. One was by a pastor I was serving with; he advised my room-mate and myself to never seek to teach but to always be ready(similar to the command in 1st Peter 3:15). He also asked me to speak for one session in a conference we helped run. I spoke the first night and walked away humbled. Thank God for the experience though. Secondly, 1st Timothy 3:4 was given to me. Paul was inspired to right about leadership within the church body and how anyone seeking such a role must first be a leader within his/her home before they aspire to do anything within the church body. This was the calling I am moving to.

In starting to write, I don’t want to be long-winded, which is my personality. I try to over explain any point that I feel is not being perceived as I want it to, and my poor wife will suffer at times for it. This is just an introduction to thoughts on leadership and what is being revealed to me; and to follow through with one other aspect of the trip, I believe God told me to write as well, to learn to formulate  ideas in a presentable manner rather than rambling on about some point. Just thoughts here and hopefully I will press forward as it has taken me 6 months to follow through with this part. But time to find my voice that I should be using.

Andrew

Living By Fear Or By Faith

“What are the reasons of not going? I’m scared, finances, and I’m pregnant.”

In January, God gave me a desire to travel to England on a missions trip. This would be my first. I am not a huge traveler and I never felt called to go on mission trips before, but my husband and I believed it was our year for training and prepping us for ministry.  These are not the reasons why I am going primarily, but this verse was a confirmation from my past decision making:

See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to

stumble and a rock that makes them fall,

and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame. 

Isaiah 28:16

This spoke to me. What I interpreted is that God knew that dying on the cross and admitting He is God would be a stumbling block to some. That people would either reject that or believe He was the way.  Choosing faith or ourselves. As I read this I knew that If I went to England with all the worries and doubts I had on going would give me the reasons to not go. If I decided to go I would literally sacrifice everything. My fears, my doubts, my strengths and weaknesses, my comforts. I have sheltered myself from fear of being miserable or scared. I hate the feeling of vulnerability. I would rather HIDE! As He talks about the stumbling block; I knew fear was mine, and that it can cause me to not go forth in ministry. In the last part He says he will not fail me if I choose to believe in Him.

Little did I know what was going to further my faith after I submitted my application and my money.  In the back of my mind I thought, “What if I get pregnant? I can’t go if I am. I don’t want to go if I do.” You know what God told me? “Trust me.”

Guess what? I got pregnant! You have no idea how many times I cried and yelled at my husband that I didn’t want to go because I was afraid. Every time I asked God if I still was suppose to go, you know what He would said? “Trust me.” I didn’t want to hear those words at all! And you know what, I am still nervous. I’m still struggling to not lean on my own understanding how things will go, but trust that God is going to take care of me.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Prov. 3:5-6

Andrew and I believe this baby has made this journey even more spectacular. This little girl I am caring is making this journey memorable and God seeking. God has something in store. My flesh is weak, but God can do anything. I know God is going to take care of my fears, aches, my tiredness, my loneliness, and who knows what I need when I go on this trip. All I have to do is ask.  He is taking care of me and my family. I have no power what so ever in this matter. All I am trying to do is listen and obey.

Every time I ask God over and over again if I should go. He always gives me an answer. It is always to go. It’s always an answer that gives my fears and anxiousness at rest. One of His responses was the story of Mary in the Bible. Poor Mary, as she had to go miles and days pregnant on the back of a donkey. I know she had God’s strength for the journey, but she is also human with fears and needs. Even a story amazing that it is, had people like us to carry out God’s plan. God was showing me that if she could do it, so could I.

I really hope this is encouraging to some. I know that we can easily choose to not do or do things out of fear. They sound very reasonable reasons too, but they can lead us to listen what we want to hear and not always what we need to hear. Even when they seem dangerous or fearful. For we all should have in our hearts the mindset of what Paul writes here:

 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing 

worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.For his sake

 I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, 

in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, 

not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,
 
but that which comes through faith in Christ, 

the righteousness from God that depends on faith 

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, 

and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..

Phil 3:8-10

 

Baby announcement!

We are expecting a little girl in November! I can’t tell you how excited we are and how shocked I am! I was convinced my husband was going to give me all boys. I’m so use to boys now that I feel almost unaware of how to raise a girl. Haha. It’s like I’m a beginner of how to be a momma all over again. I grew up with two sisters and at a young age had nieces, so you would think I’d be prepared for this.