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 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

 

We All Fall Short

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One of my many thoughts today was the words, “We all fall short of the glory of God.” Meaning, no one is perfect. I can’t compare myself. Even if I don’t struggle like the other person does, I can struggle in another area. People struggle with pornography, sexual immortality, masturbation, steeling, telling lies, being unkind, not being understanding, not being honest, not being fruitful, not being loving, shouts of anger, a bad mouth, the list could be endless. I might not struggle with most of these, but I do struggle with being loving, having angry words, the need to be perfect, or not trusting in the Lord and falling into my own understanding. I can sin against God and man. I can hurt others and myself just as another person who struggle with who knows. I can’t compare myself or rate myself to another. Because we end up all doing the same thing. Hurting ourselves, hurting others, and sinning before God.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned about myself this year is finding out I am not as righteous as I thought. I thought the more I would understand about my Father the better I would become.  It turns out this year, He has really humbled me in seeing that I can still fall short through all my efforts of being knowledgeable. The more I grow in Him the more I understand I need Him.  I fight myself and God every time I fail Him. It’s because I have become more aware of how weak and sinful nature I really am day after day. Knowing over and over I can retain knowledge, but still not be perfect and blameless. That perfection and thoughts of self righteousness is getting tumbled down. Tumbled into the arms of someone perfect and wants me as I fall short in Him. I don’t understand it fully and I hate it sometimes, but He knows what I truly need. He is amazing and patient in teaching me this amazing power of love through forgiveness and grace. As He continues to humble me in revealing how powerless I am in myself.

 

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see. ~ John Newton 

What I Learned From Corrie Ten Boon

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I just finished the book Hiding Place, a biography about Corrie Ten Boons life. It was humbling to read and very much encouraging hearing about the life she had. The people she was influence and guided by. The words of wisdom she was brought up to be the woman she was during WW2. She is the lady known for hiding Jews during the war; and how her and her sister was taken to the concentration camps.

What spoke to me was Corrie’s and I similarities. We both don’t like to be isolated from people and we both struggle to be compassionate to those that we are hurt by. In prison she was alone in a cell and couldn’t speak to anyone. She was in there for 7 months until she was sent to camp. She clinged to a young girl guard when she heard her father was dead. Instead of pitty she got blamed for it. She then cried out to God realizing that she went to someone instead of going to God. For the ministry in prison it was her sister Betsie that understood the real battle that was going on in the souls of those who mistreated them. It was Betsie that helped Corrie with her anger towards those that needed Jesus the most. It was Betsie’s dream for Corrie to reach out to the Germans after the war because they were so lost. Corrie was the leader in helping and providing the Jews in her home. She wasn’t when it came to the spiritual leadership.

Another part of the story that stood out to me was her home. Growing up as a child Corrie’s parents took care and welcomed extended family into their home. When they all passed they invited others to stay in their home until they could be independent on their own. They knew their neighbors, they cared for them. They were there for each other in everything. They helped others when they knew it would cost them their comforts and their lives.

This family are roll models to me. I love the fact they can take care of their family, take care for others, and still have hobbies and jobs. It looks like a lot, but it’s so rewarding and filling. I personally want to do more and that takes order and prioritizing, but I believe it can be done. This is a lifestyle I admire so much.

Seeing this beautiful lifestyle in this family, has given me even more of a heavy heart to my own little world right now. I’ve grown to be disappointed at myself and to my own culture and how we lost the talent of really being their for one another. What is it that we have lost the time or want to help each other. Have we become numb? Have we created excuses? Have we become so busy with our own lives and circle that we don’t have the priority for others lives? It is a problem when we don’t feel like we can go to people because of judging. It is a problem when we can’t be honest with each other. It is a problem when we can’t even share the ugly battles to our friends. What do we individually have a hard time with to not be their for each other or open ourselves up for one another’s help?

I Hate Speed Bumps

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In this journey I stumbled upon a road with speed bumps. I was on my way of understand and receiving God’s love joyfully, until now. Everything was going good, until the road sign read, “Love on those that hurt you.” Speed bump. (Who likes those stupid things?)

I knew that in order to move forward God would need to give me a heart for grace and compassion. He would really have to teach me to understand this one. It just couldn’t happen over night. For years I’ve created distance between people that have wronged me and who never confessed that they were wrong. Yes, even fellow Christians. That even made things even harder. Who could I trust? Since I was a child, I grew up with hurt. I never knew how to handle them in a healthy way.  I just grew up putting up walls. I figured I couldn’t trust them in certain areas of my life. I sheltered myself from people so I couldn’t be exposed to hurt again.

If your reading this, it probably sounds reasonable. Sure, why would you open up to people that couldn’t respect me or be trust worthy?

…bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:28

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matt 5:44

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus.. Romans 15:5

I wish I could tell you how these verses humbled me and convicted me. Sure they convicted me, but humble me? It just brought up past hurts and frustrations. I am still fighting the fact that I don’t want to expose to hurt, to understand ( I understand them plenty!), have compassion, or to reach out to them in love. Oh, my favorite. Pray for them. I haven’t really been able to do these very well or at all. I even started feeling that my hurt wasn’t a reason for justice or for God to really step in and intervene.

What I have learned about my own heart is this. I found out I can’t love others, give them mercy, give them grace,  and pray for them with a quiet spirit. Until I can do that for myself. It’s all vertical. I cant give it, If I can’t receive it.  I am still weighing my worth on a scale.

What I understand, but can’t grasp yet is that God can take care of all of me. Even if people hurt me, I can fully be fulfilled and trust that God loves me and understands me. The hardest part is that God has that mercy and grace with everyone. It isn’t just me that He takes care of, but the people that wrong me. I want justice when I want it. I want God to be all for me and be on my side. The hardest part is practicing the heart of Christ. Yes, God is going to love on me when I am wronged, but he loves the people that hurt me too. He wants to give them mercy and grace. He is trying to teach me understanding. Mercy and grace to those that need it too.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Romans 15:1-2