Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Momma Grace

Two unique instances happened during September that highlight what becoming a mom has created in me.

First was a bathroom visit with Sawyer. I always try to slough off bathroom visits to Dad (insert evil laugh). Too often the men's restroom doesn't have a changing table, so if there is one then score for me! Alas, on this trip luck would have it that the stall with the changing table in the men's room was detained so it was all on me. I get Sawyer settled and we're chatting away as I notice that someone left their used diaper on the top lip of the table not even wrapped up. Initial voiced thoughts run the gambit of "Ugh, seriously." to "Who does that?"

But then I stopped.

"Sawyer, you know what. Maybe this Momma had a kiddo who wasn't chillin' out, maxin' all cool like you are. Maybe her baby was sick and didn't feel good. Maybe she didn't feel good. Maybe there was a line and she was hurrying along. Maybe she just forgot. S Man, I'm not sure what happened here and Lord knows I have a ton of Mom Brain moments, so lets close it up, throw it away and move on."

I can't adequately describe the rush of feeling that came over me during my initial ugh moments. A sense of shut up Elizabeth you don't know, a sense of thankfulness for my cool kid, but mostly a sense of camaraderie. Unknown Mom, I've got your back. We are in this together. Who likes changing diapers on a small changing table in a small bathroom at a busy furniture store? Not me, not you. The hustle is hard and it's easy to miss details, so no judgment from this Mom.

Next up, the dreaded screaming toddler in the airport. Hands raised for who loves that experience. No one, really, come on now. My mom, sister and I were on our way back to KC from the Atlanta airport. We're tired, grumpy and just getting over being really ticked off at each other, so we had zero patience.

Enter stage left the family of five, which included a screaming toddler.

Bargaining is happening at rapid intervals via the mom:
"I'll hold you or you can stand."
"Here's a snack, you want a snack?"
"Do you want Dad or Sissy?"
"Do you want in your seat?"
"Look, at this toy, you want your special toy?"

Not to throw my mom under the bus, but out came the "Seriously, OMG." And I instantly turned to her. "Seriously, OMG on you. You can clearly tell she's doing everything she can to calm her down. It's not like she's ignoring her. She's a toddler traveling, she's probably exhausted and frustrated. I bet you that Mom's heart is pounding so hard because she knows how people feel and she's doing all she can to control the situation. She knows that people are grumbling, so do you think it's going to help to mumble under your breath. You're a mom, you should be rooting for her and looking for ways to help."

Pre-kid I guarantee I wouldn't have said anything out loud, but my inner thoughts easily would've taken the route of my Mom's.

Sure enough, after my lengthy whispered monologue you hear the mom say to her daughter, "I know you're tired baby, it's night time in Spain right now." This family was flying from freaking Spain back to Kansas! The mom found something that worked and the little girl calmed down. I finally found my opening and we all chatted a little bit, and then went our separate ways.

This trip happened a month after I flew to Washington with Sawyer. I remember those heart pounding moments of "Please be good, please be good, please be good" thoughts that constantly ran through my head. This trip was without Michael, I flew out there with an aunt and two cousins and flew back alone. My aunt and cousins were wonderful, but this entire trip was basically a single parent trip. My son was a rock star and it was still a completely exhausting trip. He was a wiggle worm and only cried when he woke up during landing on the return trip. Still, you can see the faces people gave for the unknown they were potentially going to experience having a kid nearby; one guy even moved seats when he realized I was traveling with a baby. The social stigma is a big fat "Ugh" when it comes to seeing those traveling with infants/toddlers.

I feel we've become so isolated and desperate to cling to our personal space, when we should be filled with grace and understanding. Life is hard enough and the helping hand, the quiet "It's okay, you've got this", or just doing something without grumbling would go a long way to making things go a lot smoother for all of us.

"Jesus loved the enthusiast, the man who knew what side he was on and threw himself whole-heartedly into the struggle. He liked energetic action, as in the men who climbed the roof and broke a way through for their paralyzed friend, or in Zacchaeus who forgot his dignity and swarmed up a tree. He loved the generous giver. All four Gospels quote His saying, "He who loves life loses it; he who spends keeps." It sums up His attitude to life. He praised the man who banged on the door till he got an answer; He wanted men to show that kind of determination in the affairs of religion. He praised the widow who badgered the unjust judge into doing justice. He did not like playing for safety or burying one’s talent. It is the peace-makers rather than the peace-keepers whom He blesses. Goodness is a positive active loyalty." - Hugh Martin, The Seven Letters: Christ’s Message to His Church, 1956. p. 107.

Mom life is so hard, it seriously rocks, but it's hard. I don't want to play it safe and keep my mouth shut when someone clearly needs help, or grumble instead of being engaged and encouraging. I like that the author in the quote above says that "Goodness is positive active loyalty." We should all be loyal to Christ and help in raising the next generations of disciples and that means being filled with Momma Grace. We don't know each other's complete life story, and we need to be filled with the desire to help first and not question or judge.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Recommitting & moving forward

My constant struggle is one of not feeling worthy/good enough all the while knowing I’m called for more in life, specifically career wise. I knew from a young age that I was called to be in some sort of ministry as a job. I have always seen myself working with youth/young adults in some capacity, leaning towards some sort of writing focus. At 28 that hasn’t happened, despite “following the rules”. The rules of getting the right degree, minding my P’s and Q’s weren’t laid out by anyone specifically; they were my interpretation of what I thought was the right thing to do per societal rules. As I’ve gotten older I’ve somewhat come to terms with the fact that I didn’t graduate and have this perfect opportunity magically present itself. The biggest lesson there has been trust and respecting God’s timing and not my own. He’s got a lot of lessons I need to be learning and He’ll open the door to the right opportunity when He is ready.

But last week He sent me a kicker of a lesson and I’m not ashamed but renewed, and that’s how you know it comes from Him. Proverbs 31 Ministries released a new app called Take5. Its intent is to give God the first five minutes of your day before life takes over. Special to the release was a livestream of Lysa TerKeurst speaking at the 2015 She Speaks conference. Cell phone propped up, a piece of paper nearby I settled in to watch and listen while I was at work that morning. And boy am I glad I did.

I’m going to be a little different and give the big lesson at the beginning and then flesh it out: If I do not give Jesus my time I will not be able to be sent out by Him.

That might be a duh comment for many, but for some reason it is just now really starting to sink in for me. When you’re called and given a direct picture for how you see your life going you grow up expecting that to happen at the normal times, i.e. graduating college and step into that role. I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to do and here comes life: bills, health issues, marriage highs and lows and eventually a kid. My life is satisfying except for one area: my career. As a working parent it takes up the majority of my day, so to be unsatisfied in that area is kind of a big deal. I have a job that pays the bills and lets me be me. For the most part I don’t have to play any professional games and I have flexibility to do what I need to do and not be micromanaged. But I don’t get to be creative, I’m not working with teens or young adults and it definitely isn’t in any sort of ministry.

Lysa taught primarily from Mark 3, in particular verses 13-19 which covers Jesus’ appointing of the 12 apostles.

Verses 14-15, “And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons.” (NRSV)

Take note of the middle of verse 14, “to be with him”. Yes, they were called, appointed and sent out, but first they were called to be with Jesus. He just wanted to spend time with them; He was after their hearts first.

In John 8:31-59, Jesus is having a conversation with a group of Jews. They’re discussing confusion over Jesus’ words and what He really means, and they’re getting upset enough to be at the point to seeking out ways to kill Him.

Verse 37, “I know that you are the children of Abraham. But you want to kill Me because My Word is not in your hearts.” (NLV)

Verses 42-43, “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.” (NRSV)

God’s Words from the Old Testament, the same words Jesus is saying about finding freedom and eternal life in Him were not making any sense to this group of people because they weren’t truly following God, and His Word wasn’t a part of their lives. Their hearts were hardened and they were not on mission with Jesus. They weren’t understanding or speaking the language of the family of God.

They made no room for Him in their hearts and Jesus’ lifesaving words were having no impact. My initial thoughts are how scary this is, but I’d rather look at it as motivating. If I’m not spending time with Jesus and His Word there’s a chance I could easily become like these Jews where His Words have no impact on my life and, in fact, I turn into a bitter, hateful person intent on killing Him versus being saved by Him. I desperately don’t want that.

I want to be on mission for Jesus making disciples who make disciples. But if I am not first giving my time to Him and just simply being with Him I will not be able to be used by Him. He wants our hearts first, and then He’ll send us out.

At this point in my life now I honestly go days not really praying, I hardly actually sit down to read my Bible and He’s there but not on the forefront of my thoughts. As someone wanting to go into ministry those are pretty scary facts. I wouldn’t hire me; good intentions or religion degree doesn’t cut it when it comes to the heart of the matter which is giving my heart and time to Jesus.

Since this kick in the pants I’ve definitely seen improvements. Proverbs 31 Ministries materials have really helped. They’re very thought provoking and speak a lot to my life. Every morning I read my Encouragement for the Day devotional and hop into the First5 app to read that devotion too. I’m also going to a new Haverim tonight with a group of women from church. My next baby step is to dive deeper into the devotionals and open my Bible alongside them.

Jesus needs to be a priority in my life before I’ll be able to be used to help teach someone else how to make Him a priority in their life. He wants my heart and I want Him to be in mine. Knowing and spending time in the Word is the route to make that happen. I have to know the Word to know Him.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fresh Eyes Take 2 – Prada & Tiffany Style

I’m not going to be one of those people who say “Ugh, it’s been so long since I’ve written. I’m going to be better and not do this again.” I wish that were true, but I know myself. This last year has been a whirlwind of a year. We had a kid and we both work full-time. Enough said in that statement alone to encompass our current life.

Cliff notes of what the what is going on so I can move on to bigger things: I last wrote about our desire to be in Lawrence after buying a house and moving to Topeka. As of a few days ago we have officially lived in Lawrence again for a month. Colorado didn’t happen – we felt it wasn’t right. About seven months down the road God showed us why it wasn’t right by us learning that everyone in the office he would have been at have been laid off. Whew, close call there! But earlier this spring Michael did take a new job in Olathe and we were blessed to sell our house very quickly and move back to Lawrence. This new job isn’t going so great though and we’re still exploring our options. So, just like last time – we’re still a lot a bit lost but oh so very hopeful.
I changed the title of my blog. I don’t know why but last week it just really hit me that I felt it was an incredibly selfish sounding title, even though that wasn’t the intention at all. I do want my life to effect change. I want to live so that others see God and come to know Him, but it’s not my life effecting change, it’s God’s Truth becoming known through me.
I’m someone that has always been very reflective of the past. Am I staying true to who I am/how I always saw myself? What can I learn from the past? Where am I now compared to then? You get the point. Once upon a time I was called or labeled a rebel. In high school I was viewed as a rebel and I didn’t believe it, or more accurately just didn’t see or get it. Rebel to me was someone who was disrespectful, not following the rules, an outcast, they go out of their way to cause trouble. While some who know me (cough, cough incorrectly) may have that view. Ten years post high school I think I finally get it. I see what they saw and I miss that person desperately.
I was going through a memory box during my time at home after having Sawyer and I came across slips of paper in an envelope. Each slip of paper had either just a word or a brief statement about me from a peer in my Developmental Leadership class. More than one slip has rebel on it. I remember being angry at those words then. I missed the whole point. When brought together with a few other slips it all started making sense…ten years later. Other slips talked about my work with FCA and making it “popular” again or my writing for the newspaper, and a few slips had written on them that I was very outspoken about my faith or I was strong in my beliefs.
I was a rebel. I went against social norms for a typical teenager and was outspoken about being Christian in school, especially writing for the school’s paper. I wrote many editorials about things happening in the world from my perspective as a believer. I stood out/up and didn’t worry about looking cool or peer pressure when it came to expressing my thoughts on what was happening in light of what I knew about how God wants us to act/be.

And boy has ten years flown by and I’ve gotten away from that girl. So yes, once upon a time I was called Rebel, and it’s time to find her again.