Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Hearing Cleanse

Hi there!

I hope your week has been a good one so far! Mine has been good! Hopefully this will be a short post because I have one simple thought to type away about today.

Remember the song from our childhood with the lyric, 'Be careful little ears what you hear?' Well - isn't that a doozy of a lyric? Because at 31, I've just realized that I need to be guarding my ears a little more.

In my case, I need to guard my ears from internalizing little things that are said to me by people who have no intention of stirring me up!

Let's get to the nitty gritty: the examples. :)

Case and point number one was said to me last week: "My experience has been totally different than your's. I have absolutely love being a stay at home mom and the transition has been wonderful. I feel so fulfilled."

Case and point number two was said to me this week: "So tell me what you do with your time (implied - now that you're a stay at home mom)."

Merciful heavens. Two simple little statements said without wrong intention. But I must say, both statements have swam in my thoughts since they were said. They both come back again and again. And with them come how I WISH I would have responded lol. To the first, I just quietly said that I am doing well now and love being a mom. To the second, I rambled through some list of things that I do, feeling internally confused but not quite sure why. The truth is that both responses were fine in the moment and probably didn't need to be added to.

But those sentences have haunted my thoughts as teeny tiny accusations. Little voices saying asking me what was wrong with me and what do I really do with my time?

I know you can relate my friend! I know it!

But in this moment my heart is light because truth is what bring freedom. And the truth will set me free. The truth is that people say things without thinking so often that we can't keep count. And we say things without thinking just as often. Mercy!

So - here's what I think the Lord is showing me about appropriate responses to statements that cause me to get worked up: As soon as I realize there is a cause and effect and my soul is stirring, I need to get at least five minutes with the Lord to specifically deal with it. For me, I write the statement down because I'm so visual. Then, I ask God to speak his truth to my heart in response. Then I ask Him for His grace to receive the truth. And move on!

Easier said than done! But I just wanted to put it out there that I'm realizing I need to guard my ears and quickly respond to soul stirring statements WITH the Lord...not just keep letting them run and run and run through my subconscious.

Much love to you,

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Case of the Shakes

Or, I thought of calling this one 'The Wibbly Wobblies' or - 'Jesus, freakin help me.' A case of the shakes was what ended up being typed as I sat down so there you have it.

The past few weeks (it may have bled into months, actually), I have been weird... but I didn't realize it until about a week ago. I think that very very few people would have picked up on it because it was so internal. And hey, we can all put on a lovely face at the right times! I have found this to be my pattern - it takes a good bit of time of something building up inside of me for me to finally wake up and say 'wait a second, something's not right here.' But like I said - about a week ago the light bulb went off (thank you God!) and it became so clear to me. Out of seemingly nowhere, I was in a battle with insecurity at most fronts of my life.

Can I just say, I HATE insecurity? I really hate it. It is so ugly - is it not? It makes you act ugly, think ugly, and stir up the ugly in others. I have my own hypotheses on where it came from, but that's for later.

The really stupid thing about insecurity is that it rarely presents itself as blatant insecurity. Let's take me for example...I wasn't going about my daily life thinking 'Man, I just feel so insecure!' Instead - I found myself coming up against a pattern of thoughts or actions that looked like: Fear, masking itself as control...obsessing over certain areas of my life and thinking/thinking/thinking about them. Or fighting/fighting/fighting about them. Or, I'd walk past those three or so areas of my home that truly need deep-cleaning and re-organizing and silently assault myself for STILL not getting to them. I mean, what kind of successful woman just continues to 'not get to something?' And then here's the kicker: I was having imaginary conversations in my head between Zion and me and imagining the very critical thoughts he must be thinking about me. I was feeling the disappointment he must feel with me but hadn't yet communicated. The lack of affluent words building me up, up, up MUST CERTAINLY mean he thought I wasn't cutting it. And, according to how my thought life had started to go, I really wasn't cutting it.

I would actually like to erase that last paragraph in its entirety because I dislike it so much! You can see the yuck and I can see the yuck. Clear as day! But the thoughts lived in the back of my subconscious not in the big clear part of my thinking. I think it's right where the enemy likes them. Quiet, hidden, and slowly affecting the way you behave more and more.

It's been a while since I would say I truly struggled with insecurity. Sure, a bit may pop up here or there - but it hadn't grabbed me and colored my perspectives for quite some time. Which is probably another reason that it took me a bit to clue in to what was happening.

Now, I don't want to be overly dramatic about my state of being. It wasn't a true emotional crisis; it wasn't keeping me in bed when I should have been up and going. It just made me feel shaky - often.

The thing is, I KNOW that every single person can relate. Isn't that the stupid thing about it? Out of insecurity, we all instinctively hide it. Sometimes we even hide it from ourselves. That's the worst. And you know, most of us go around feeling like we are the only ones who deal with insecurity. Because, after all, look at her life. What does she have to be insecure about? Not. Ever. The. Case.

Well, the yuck is starting to get too much here! There is hope in this story or I wouldn't have done this post.

God is so good. He cares so very much. Truly the instant He put off that light bulb giving what I had been feeling a name - hope started to flood in. It made me angry (because did I mention that I hate insecurity?) but so relieved. It has been my experience that when God clearly brings to my attention a situation that needs to be dealt with - it's because He has a plan to deal with it! He built a plan in me for how to proceed. The Holy Spirit is so appreciated, is He not? :)

Through talking it out and praying it out, the shame left and the resolve came. The crazy had to go. The lies had to go. The rationale had to go. All of the sudden, I could reconnect with who He said I was instead of my own labels I had become over the past weeks. Oh my word - it felt like I could breathe again.

Zion did a teaching in our small group about identity once. He highlighted the fact that one of the definitions of the word identity is 'the condition of being the same with something described or asserted.' Hmmmm... SO, identity isn't just who I uniquely am as an individual. More importantly, it is who I choose to be the same as. I take identity in Him.

I want my identity to be less and less about how great or poor of a woman I am and more and more tied to how unthinkably good and kind and big He is.

I pray that you feel hope. There's so much more that can and should be said about insecurity, but alas, this little blog is just my feeble attempt to shed light on what God is doing in my life - day by day.

My encouragement is that a simple conversation with God can have big payoffs. Ask Him to illuminate what needs to be brought to light. And then, ask Him to show you the way forward. And then, discipline yourself to take those steps whatever they are because there will likely be something in you that would really rather not move forward in that way.

Romans 5:1-11 brings some real truth to me:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

We are justified by Him. No matter how yuck we may feel about ourselves, it is Him and Him alone that brings justification and worthiness to us. No other person can do that for us. No job can do that for us. No relationship can do that for us. And as I can personally attest, no cookie does that for us. Ha!

Thanks for journeying with me today. I mentioned it at the top, but I do think there's another reason insecurity wanted to rear its ugly head. I have been praying about leading a summer book study of Beth Moore's 'So Long Insecurity, You've Been A Very Bad Friend.' Well go figure, I'd get to have some fresh and hands on experience before launching into that! It's a great book. I read it three years ago and it's just about time to dig back in.

Happy day to you!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Beautiful Day Captured

There are those moments that you wish could last forever. On Saturday we went to Philbrook as a family with Caleb, Chloe and Isaiah. It was one of those fun, gorgeous weather and little boys running themselves silly. Every time I go, I am reminded of how blessed Tulsa is to have Philbrook. We weren't quite ready to partake in the art projects included in Second Saturday (free admission and kids activities every second Saturday of the month). But we had so much fun and here is the greatness that ensued....

Boys being galloped down the slope by adventuring daddies:

You have to click this one to check out Isaiah's sheer joy at the adventure:

Have I ever mentioned that Zion has a mini-me?

Boys and sticks. Serious excitement!

Isaiah: "Just trust me Liam. Run towards that thing as fast as you can."

See that smile on Liam? He just bopped Isaiah on the head with his stick.

There's just something about a little hand in a big hand.

Post-fountain play equals a drenched shirt but a happy boy.

Even as I look back at these pictures, I remember a moment that felt pretty near perfect. Blogs, social media, etc. often allow us the opportunity to show people only what we want them to know or perceive of us. I like to keep things real but it seems important to celebrate beauty just as much as we embrace honesty. Otherwise, we're just slugging through a sea of negativity under the guise of 'transparency.' This was a day that I wanted to freeze in time because it was drenched in sweetness and beautiful memories in the making. Finding the beauty is just as important as letting people see truth in us isn't it?

May you see the simple beauty today and soak it up!

Lots of love,

Friday, June 7, 2013

Weekend No. 417

I have been a married woman for 417 weekends. I really hope that math is correct! HA! In non-weekend terms, that's eight years plus a few days. 417 weekends of hanging out, going on dates, cleaning the house, loving our family, having a good handful of ringer fights, agreeing to disagree, and laying on the couch together for most of the day (OBVIOUSLY before we became parents!!).

Truth be told, hitting the eight year mark feels GOOD. You've heard of the seven year itch? Well I wouldn't say we had a true itch to be unmarried anymore (far from it), but let's just say it feels good to close out this year and celebrate our eighth anniversary.

I don't know if you've experienced the same, but in some ways, the seventh year was a doozy. The good news is that the dooziness produced very good fruit! It was full of very sweet times as well, but somehow, seven years in allows you to really look at each other and decide whether you're going to truly accept one another or keep trying to improve upon your spouse :).

It meant more honest conversations (ouch), more getting to the root of things, more soul searching and then - more capacity to love in a broader way because we finally wore each other down trying to change each other! LOL. It actually is funny. I don't think that either one of us really thought we were directly trying to change the other. But when you finally get the grace to stop trying to change him, you realize how much you were trying to change him. Dang! Don't you think that the 'subtly trying to change him' thing is something we will have to guard against for the rest of our lives? I think it just creeps up in every human being before we know it. And it definitely goes both ways. I just find life so much more enjoyable when I let that go! Marriage is certainly more fun when it's not about wanting him to become more like me.

Breaking through that barrier doesn't mean the removal of all tough moments, but it does breathe new life into the relationship. And new life is always good!

One thing that we feel God has been leading us in more and more is the practice of mercy in our home and towards each other. Man, mercy is such a common word these days. Familiarity can be a hard thing to break! But mercy has been our pursuit over the past few months. Truly forgiving each other, not holding on to anger for long periods of time, seeing things from their perspective, giving each other passes, the list goes on. The more the self-protection melts, the more mercy can breathe. We're still on the learning curve - but thankful to be here!

I can say, with all confidence, that I married the right guy. He's my man. He's my friend. He's my iron sharpening (ahem!) my iron. He's my make-out buddy. And eight years later - I love him deeply. I know him like no one else does, and that is a true honor.

SO this weekend we are celebrating! We are going to our favorite fancy spot for din din and we are already clearing our tummies for all that will be consumed, ha! Food is a big part of our success in marriage. Only half-way kidding as a shared pint of Ben and Jerry's has been some of the best date night material in our opinion.

As we gear up for weekend number 417, I hope your weekend is shaping into something glorious. I highly recommend a little Ben and Jerry's if you're at a loss.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Me, the Scaredy Cat, and the Blog

Hello my friends!

I can't tell you how many times over the past weeks I have wanted to sit down and blog. A thought for a post would come to me or a picture would trigger me. But then a whole lotta nothing would happen. This quiet fear would start creeping up my throat and make me start to feel squirmish all over. Now I ask you - does that sound healthy or right? No, indeed it does not!

It has become so consistent that I've had to take a real look at this fear and try to get to the bottom of it. I'm certain you can relate. Maybe not all the time, but there are things we know we're supposed to do - even called to do - that just make us wriggle on the inside.

I have become a scaredy cat when it comes to blogging! Since, I've said it, I'm hoping this post will just start flowing off of my typing fingers now :).

Fear is never just fear, is it? It's often accompanied with specific thoughts. And so, in an effort to disarm these stupid little thoughts I have decided to expose them for all they are - in their fullness and in the light.

Here are the thoughts I would (and still have) had roll through ye ole brain:

- Who are you to blog? Did you just decide to give yourself a position, a title, and therefore you are a blogger now? Did you nominate yourself as 'special enough to blog?'

- Whatever I have to say will just come off as self-centeredness so that I can hear myself think/talk. No one likes the know-it-all, Abi.

- Maybe you really are all about yourself, anyways, and that's what this whole blog thing is for you.

- You aren't even a funny blogger. You're so serious - all the time. Your favorite bloggers are funny - why can't you be funny?

- Is it possible to be transparent enough to be real while still protecting the honor and privacy of my husband and son?

- Am I too transparent at times? I always feel weird after the transparent posts.

There are probably more thoughts that come but those are the biggies. Can I just say, it was really really really good to just get those out and down! I didn't list those out in order to garner lots of pity or refuting responses! LOL. I just think there's power in shedding light on stupidity. It somehow loses a great deal of power the second light hits it, don't you think?

Soooo this little internal storm has brought me to weeks and weeks of sporadic or no posts at all. Not that I think people are waiting with baited breath! But, it did make me start to ask myself why I blog.

My blog is part this, part that, part who knows what and so there are many reasons. Part of my reasoning is that I am crazy about my little boy and I love the opportunity to document his development, personality and growth. I look back at posts I did when he was six months old and seriously cannot clearly remember the stories I told about him at the time. I am thankful to have my own account of him because this is all going way too quickly to remember each precious moment!

But there are other reasons, too. From the time I was about sixteen, I had a recurring coversation/question with God. It went something like, 'God what do you want from my life?' The answer has never changed and it's been so consistent that I've never questioned if I was making it up. It's always been the simple answer: 'I want your voice.' Don't get me wrong - no audible voice was heard and there is absolutely the chance that there is a lot of me mixed in there. But the words always came with a quieting peace that settled me and comforted me, so I just go with - that was God.

My voice. I'm not exactly sure what that really means. But, until it becomes clear I have tried to pursue opportunities that allow me to stretch my voice - to flex that muscle - to practice. I joined a worship team a few years ago because it was an opportunity to stretch that aspect of the voice muscle - NOT because I think I should go be a musician lol. No. I grew so much from that, though. I was challenged and stretched in very new ways. And my voice got stronger!

Blogging is a stretching exercise for me. It's a place to practice using my voice through my fingers. It's a place where I can get messy, make mistakes, and practice communicating what is inside to the outside world. It is funny how you can have so much stirring on the inside but realize, oh so quickly, how half-baked it is when you start to talk it out. Or in this case, type it out.

I am a believer that there is greatness on the inside of each of us that is destined to come out. I think there are things inside the hearts of each of us that stir passions and tap into our true purposes. But, what are we supposed to do before those big opportunities come? I think we're supposed to do the small things that seem like they could maybe relate to the future in some way, shape or form. I think we're supposed to be watchful for opportunities that allow us to work the muscles of our dreams before it's time to actually play in the big game.

Today, I recommit to stretching my voice muscle and to resisting the voice of fear. Not to gain a big readership - but to be faithful with the little. Hopefully, you can relate! Hopefully, I'm not too alone in this boat!

So, I'd really like to thank you. Thank you for reading if you are reading! LOL. Thank you for patiently allowing me to be obedient in the way I know how to.

And here's to hoping that God will maybe shower me with the gift of funny storytelling as I continue to try to blog, because I DO LOVE a funny story! :)

Love y'all,