Safe Place For Our Mess

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I don’t like showing much of my messy side, but here it is the raw truth. It’s a mess. I have never been so tired of seeing my house look chaotic. I would say I have been known to having a clean house, but if you saw it now you would think otherwise.  It has taken me three days trying to catch up on the dishes.  I have three loads of laundry sitting there waiting to be folded. I’m so tired of trying to catch up with it all. I have come to realize it might be like this for a while. It’s really hard for me to grasp this concept, because I have always had a clean home. I can’t function with a messy house and I don’t feel accomplished if it’s messy. Just like getting ready for the day, if I am continually in my pjs I feel crappy.  I can’t even leave the house with it in chaos, but today I had too. Otherwise, I would never get out of the house. Just another phase I need to get use to and be okay with I guess.

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One quality that I wish I had right now is to be more honest about the real stuff, like my messy kitchen. That I need to not be embarrassed and act all together. I want to learn to create a safe place for others to share and be themselves with their messes without me being judging or trying to fix their problems. Learning more and more as a Christian we should be open to one another about our struggles and make a safe environment for each other. I appreciate when others give me that security to share my struggles so I can major and grow. It’s refreshing when others are honest too. I lack this quality so much and I am very eager to learn to do this better.

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Unsure Of

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It’s been a weak week. It’s so true when you don’t spend time alone with God everyday other things creep in. It all started for me being hurt from others. Then struggling with isolation from others and being home gets to me so much. It’s been depressing when I can’t do much moving and then all I want to do is be alone and be relaxed. Its been hard for me to go to God with my frustrations. I know I’m not doing things right, but what I realized more is that when I do have a hard time going to God when I feel hurt and overwhelmed is that I don’t believe him when He says He is always faithful and loving.

Andrew has been really trying to be here for me. Trying to pray for me. Trying to encourage me of what God is doing in my life. But I can’t agree to pray with him most times. His words I don’t find encouraging. I just feel like it’s God trying to correct me 24/7 and I don’t find it loving. I can’t pray sometimes to Him because of the hurt.

Spending time in His word tonight helped a lot and got me refocused on Him. I’m still unsure of which is life happenings or Him purposefully teaching me a life lesson. I know that all He wants is for us to spend time with Him and that’s our goal. Our purpose is found in Him, but I still feel empty and think He doesn’t want me to do anything. That’s not biblical and doesn’t make sense either. So how to find the balance? What’s His will? What if it’s my personal weaknesses getting in the way? What is the truth  behind all of what is all happening? I’m praying for mercy hoping for grace in this time of not understanding and not grasping fully God’s love for me when I am confused by how He is showing it. I want to believe that He still loves me when I get frustrated with confusion. I hope I can just have grace from people and not judgement.  I want sympathy and help, not correction and point the finger at my faults. Because I want the truth but I’m so confused what is true and not.

God please open my eyes and mind to understand and know the difference. God please have patients with me when I am weak and a sinner. Help me to understand and have hope for now and the future. Amen

Shampoo, Foundation, Mas…

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This week I got hit with the finance blues. Money has been super tight and I am starting to run out of everything. Everything to make me look like I am put together when I feel crummy.  Especially, at my last pregnancy stages which are really making me depressed. I ran out of hair product, makeup, and clothes all at the same time! Why????!!

To sum up me this week, I’ve been annoyed with my body and it’s making me feel self conscious. The other day I got annoyed with Andrew for not saying, “Go ahead and go use the credit card on what you need/want.” Then I was mad when that didn’t happen which I knew was being impatient. Then I was not praying about it because I thought it was stupid. Thinking God was trying to teach me a life lesson through this and not caring about my silly need of wanting hair product, makeup, and clothes. It has totally thrown me out of whack and it made me distant from my Father.

All I want to say is this, it is not to silly for the Lord. God cares about our every need. He always provides. It’s true, things I never thought I would get ( or any time soon) God has provided. He will provide in a way that will be perfect. God loves you and me and wants to hear every little prayer. Don’t fall short in praying to him just because it isn’t something more “important.” He wants us to take everything to him like our day to day needs. Even if it’s needing money to go buy shampoo, foundation, mascara, pants, and shirts. Ugh, I could go on…. ;p

A Thought on Marriage

So I have a friend getting married this next weekend. He and I have talked a lot about what to expect and he has asked a lot about different aspects of my marriage over the last five years with Rachel. These chats have been good, but ultimately my experience will mean nothing to the battles that he will face in his own marriage. With marriage being as tough as it is, its no wonder the divorce rate is so high especially with my short sighted generation. But there are two things that I must remind myself of to keep me balanced and loving the love of my life.

First, I think we all perceive or claim that we are characterized by this but who’s really fooling them self about patients. My pastor recently described patients from its Greek or Latin root meaning to be “long suffering with love.” Hello, I can’t say that about myself. I will interact with a coworker and turn right around and let someone know how frustrated I am. It’s not in any human being nature to be long suffering, let alone long suffering with love. And yet, this is a lesson that God wanted to teach me in life which is why he decided I should take on the intimacy of marriage at a younger age than most of my peers.

Second is giving grace. Because who really merits that kiss goodnight and a back rub while making dutch ovens under the covers. Or how can I expect my wife to love me every time I break my promise of when I will be coming home. Grace is giving unmerited favor, just as God gave Christ as our payment. I love my wife, but I do struggle at times acting out with such grace.

But really, Marriage has been one of the greatest changes in my life and brought maturity in a way that I would have neglected before. I love my wife and know that we have a long while to go until one of us kicks the bucket and so much more of me will be needed to make all this work. I just thank God that He is good and will provide all that I need when storms come…. or more children, they challenge me to. But as the great philosopher Jim Gaffigan says that his wife is the best thing that ever happened to him and with each child he becomes a better man. This is my marriage, what about yours?

My Mission Trip To England

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Twenty-six weeks pregnant and I made it back home!  To be really honest, my experience was a bit stressful physically and also spiritually hard. But God totally worked in them and now see it as a positive. Many people that I see that come back from mission trips were on a mountain top experience. That was just not me when I came back. I mostly came back tired and a bit overwhelmed of all that I absorbed. Writing this has actually made me see exactly what God did and why.  I am grateful that the experience was not a mountain top experience because some mistakes I’ve made from the past is believing God is only awesomely real in only high awesome experiences. This trip made me see that God can be awesomely real in low experiences too. The theme for my trip was noticing how God is with me in every day to day life. The way I felt like England was not a thrill experience, but very much throwing me in an uncomfortable setting. I loved the people I met and I learned some very important realistic truths about what a full time ministry looks like. Everyday I struggled what each day looked like and how I would have to be willing at anytime to die to self for Christ. I know I needed to be in England to learn some important truths. In order to do that, God had to pull me away from all my comforts and be uncomfortable. So in every situation I had to ask him for help, and he would surprised me in the way he would answer me back quickly or wouldn’t and I had to believe He was working when I didn’t see it.

I urge you again to witness that God demands nothing, asks no price, and exacts no payment.

 Charles Spurgeon

Leading up to Creation Fest I thought I really needed to get some things together before I was able to reach out and do stuff for Christ. I was hoping in England God would reveal some unanswered prayers. Then when I was there not knowing if he would or not, I asked Him to help me with some major anxiety I was having before the trip. I didn’t know exactly where it was coming from, but really wanted a break through before I got home. By his grace He did.  One of the pastors that spoke talked about how we know we are saved and what that looks like. In my nineteen years of being in the Lord, I never fully understood the impact of grace and how God freely gives us His full access without  doing works to compensate.  I was constantly hard on myself thinking I was constantly failing the expectations or potential that God had for me. The freeing words were, “We are allowed to do stuff for God, but we were meant to worship God. Angels get to do stuff for God. Until we understand that we are going to feel empty. God controls our lives, we can’t mess up His plan, but we can derail it.” During my trip I was reading the book of Grace by Spurgeon. He repeats over and over again how there is nothing we can do to earn grace. I can’t tell you how freeing that was for me. Before my trip, God was already working in my life in putting me in the place to practice worship and nothing else. Because he was closing every door I was feeling empty. After the pastors sermon I felt lead to get prayed over. It wasn’t a powerful prayer, but something was different in my soul.

Go as you are.

A profound way of God showing me that this event was all about Him; and not me, are these words. Go as you are. They were encouraging, but I did not expect it to be literal. I was stressing over doing things with my own strength such as, going up to a stranger and sharing about Christ. I was freaking out because I hadn’t done anything like that before. I kept thinking I had to be someone I wasn’t and I was worried about feeling guilty or condemning myself. This of course never happened, because it’s not what God called me to do while I was there. I didn’t realize until later that God literally wanted me to go as I was. He waited until I felt comfortable in my setting and led me and brought me people in my setting where I was serving. I didn’t do anything but be myself, be open to God’s leading, and He did the rest. It was very much a confirmation of when I gave my life to the Lord. That I would be His servant, becoming humbled, and lifting up those that needed encouragement.

Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19

My favorite example of God’s power to provide was the last day of Creation Fest. I caught a cold the day before and I couldn’t decide what to do. I wanted to go back and see the event through, but at the same time I felt sick and it was getting worse. I still had a bunch of traveling and the two day touring of England that was in front of me. I knew I needed rest, but I wanted to say goodbye to people I met. I honestly, told God that if He wanted me to go I would have to feel recovered, otherwise I was staying at the cottage to get rest. I was having a hard time being honest in that prayer. I was really frustrated with the decision and was starting to have guilt and condemnation on myself. I didn’t feel better and everyone left the cottages. An hour went by and I received a text. It was from one of my team mates who I was serving with. We had planned to have a little Bible study before our shift together that day and she found out I was sick and was staying behind. In her text she offered to come by the cottage and hang out and do the Bible study with me. And if I felt up to it, she would bring me to the event to do my last shift then bring me back to the cottage. She was English and had a car to drive. God totally answered my prayer and knew my thoughts. I had to wait a little while for my answer, but God totally heard me. It was such a sweet gift and God proved to me again that He is faithful and capable of providing for me.

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I came home still holding on to my new belief that God is with me and can meet my daily needs. He doesn’t demand or require anything to show is love and grace. My faith in the Lord has grown to a different level of understanding more of His grace and the full access I have of Him. I am very grateful for all the hard emotional stretching this trip to England has put me through. haha.

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.