Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lies Christians Believe: "God will never give you more than you can handle."

I remember days in my not too distant past when I would wake up feeling like I hadn't slept at all.

Exhausted barely described how I felt.
Before I could even crack my eyes open I was overwhelmed with what I knew I would be facing that day.
With a newly diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic who was not quite 9 years old, I would have to intentionally think through every morsel of food that went into her mouth.  I would have to look up in a book how many carbohydrates were in that half a banana and then draw up the insulin into the syringe that would cover that many carbs.  For every meal.  Three meals a day plus snacks.
Then there would be the homeschooling.
The 12-year old who was more interested in painting everything in front of her than doing her chores, much less her English lessons.
The aforementioned 9 year old.
A 7 year old boy who woke up and immediately hit the ground running....in circles.....and jumping on everyone simply for the response.
A sweet, gentle, helpful 5 year old who simply looked for ways she could assist.
The funny 2 year old, and the 1 year old.
To make everything even easier, my husband was still working the night shift and would stumble into bed at 6:30 am and need the house quite for sleeping until around 3 pm.
All while we're living in a 1400 square foot house.
With 2-hours of laundry to do and meals to prepare and diapers and potty training.
Some days it felt like the world was simply whizzing by me and I could not keep up.

I would hear a voice in my head that said, "God will never give you more than you can handle."
"I'm sorry.  What?  Would you repeat that?" my own voice would answer.
"God will not give you more than you can handle."

At that moment, I honestly admit to my shame that I felt resentful.
"Well, if God won't give me more than I can handle, then why did He give me all this?"
"I certainly did not ask for all this.  Look around here.  It's a mess.  I clearly can NOT handle all this by myself.  And I don't see anyone pounding down my door offering to help."

I clearly remember reading a scripture verse one morning and being completely baffled by it.
It almost seemed like it was in a different language because it absolutely did not line up with my reality.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30

My yoke is EASY?
My burden is LIGHT?

What on earth is that like?
This is NOT easy and this is NOT a light burden.

But God cannot tell a lie (Titus 1:2).
So what am I missing here?

I kept reading.
Because I wanted to believe this, but just couldn't figure out how I was supposed to do all this.
I came on another scripture:

"Cast your burden on the Lord and HE will sustain you..."
Psalm 55:22

He will sustain you.

"For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand,
Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'"
Isaiah 41:13

No where in scripture does it say that we won't have struggles.
No where in scripture does it say it's heroic to do it all without any help.
But the Lord did say HE would be our help.
He will be aware of our struggles, the things that overwhelm us, and He will shoulder the load.
I began slowly letting go of all the peripheral things that I had taken on that were not a priority for survival.
We had recently changed churches and I remember feeling like I was in recovery mode.
I did not throw myself into ANY church ministry.  Even the ones I loved.
I simply took my kids to church and sat and soaked in the worship.
I needed that one hour a week to just hear the Lord speak to me as He does quietly.

I stopped feeling like I had to have the house perfectly clean and mess-free to be a good Mom.
I learned to focus on the UNSEEN priorities.
The ones like reading to my children, quieter bedtimes, quiet time for my sanity in the morning before anyone was awake.
I learned that it was ok to say "No."

It was then that I saw it.
HIS yoke is easy.
Not that one that I picked up and put on every morning with all it's demands.
But the one that HE designed for me.
Plus, He is on the other side of that yoke......shouldering the load with me.

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:29

Yes, God does allow us to receive more than we can handle.
So that He can be what we need!

Friday, September 18, 2015

A gentle reminder of the need for law and for grace

The other day a police officer jumped out in the road in front of me and waved me over.

I was so surprised that my immediate reaction was, "Me?  Is he looking at ME?"
I actually looked around thinking he couldn't possibly need ME to pull over.
I never get pulled over...or....er...ehem....I haven't in a very long time, 
and the last time I actually received a ticket was nearly 30 years ago!

But I quickly switched lanes so I could turn right onto the street he was waving me over into.
He told me almost immediately that I was stopped for speeding.
Now honestly, that was not surprising because I really had no idea what the speed limit was on that service road, nor was I paying close attention as everyone around me was going the same speed as I
or faster.
Which is why they all got stopped too.

I meekly asked him what the limit actually was and when he told me "40," 
I immediately knew I deserved a ticket.
He told me all that information would be on the papers he brought back to me, 
and then he asked me to sign his fancy digital thingy.
As he was off doing his thing, checking out my license plate,
 and running my record no doubt,
I was feeling pretty embarrassed.
This guy and his partner were not sitting out 
in a conspicuous place along the highway 
with their radar guns.
They knew way before I got to their location that I had been speeding 
and then they had enough time to jump out in the road and stop us.
It wasn't even a chase.
If I had simply been obeying the law, they wouldn't have even noticed me.
I had gotten caught in a trap.

As I was waiting for him to write me up, I began dreading the whole process
of "contacting the court" and eventually paying a fine.
But then the most surprising thing of all happened.
He stuck his hand in my window and handed me my license and said,
"I'm letting you off with a warning.  Please slow down."

A warning?
Wow!!!  I totally deserved a ticket that time!!
I don't know what made him have mercy on me, but I honestly don't care!
I was just so relieved not to have all that hassle to go through and the ticket on my record!

I thanked him profusely and very carefully resumed my route.

Later, I began to think about all that, and it reminded me of a scripture that tells us
why we even need the laws:

"...On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the law;
for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'Thou shalt not covet.."
Romans 7:7

God created the law and gave it to us to reveal our sinful nature.
He loved us so much that He wanted us to know the truth....that He provided a way for us
to get out of the bondage of sin!!
So in his mercy He gave us His Son.
To bridge the gap between our sin and our Loving Heavenly Father.

"The Law came in so that transgression (sin) would increase; 
but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more....."
Romans 5:20

When that officer handed me my license instead of a ticket, he handed me grace.
He could've written me up.
I deserved it.
But he had mercy on me, and gave me grace.
Just like my Savior does every single day of my life.
I deserve eternal punishment for my sin nature.
I disobey Him every single day.
But yet "His mercies are new every morning."

Great is thy faithfulness.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One last summer mission trip: Guatamala 2015

Our red-head started her senior year of high school recently.
Honestly, I'm not one to say, "I can't believe she's a senior."
Or, "It went so fast."
Because it hasn't.
Frankly, getting her through school, to actually do her schoolwork, has been long, arduous,
and often a pain-in-the-neck.
I have had many days when I couldn't wait for it to simply be over.
There are no tears being shed over here.
Not yet, anyway.

But I can say, that it has been awesome watching God develop her interests and capture her heart!
This last summer she wanted to go on two international missions trips.
Her first trip to her to the Philippines.
Her second adventure took place in June and landed her in Guatamala.

While there, she participated in evangelistic outreach ministries to children involving skits, puppet ministry, and personal evangelism.

They planted seed.
The kind you leave in fertile ground,  and somebody else waters.
The kind where someone else gets to harvest the fruit later on.

Some of these children had never heard of Jesus.
Or that He died for their sins.
And made way for peace in their hearts.

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent?

As it is written,
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace,
and bring glad tidings of good things!"
Romans 10:14, 15

Each trip she makes leaves an invaluable impression on her heart.
She sees parts of this globe that we could never teach her about.
She sees the need that all cultures everywhere need a Savior.
She sees that she lives in a culture of excess and opportunity,
but that most people squander it.....are bored with it.
She sees that God can use her.
If she just opens her hands to receive all He pours out on her everyday,
and sees how much she really has to give.
She just has to say, "Yes!"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Our first 18th birthday

After hosting an innumerable number of children's birthday parties,
I've observed that as the children age,
the style of their birthday celebrations changes.
Gone are the princess themed parties with the dress-up and matching plates and napkins.
The Barbie-doll and castle cakes are simply fond memories.
Nobody plays games or stumbles home with a crumpled bag of candy and favors.

Enter the groups of co-ed friends who want to simply hang-out over lunch somewhere.
Or go to the mall and spend all their birthday money with their friends in tote.

I had just gotten home from a 10 day, 1,100 mile drive to Ohio with 3 kids mid-week before her birthday, and school was starting the day after her birthday.
I had spent the week before our trip organizing for school and said trip,
and hadn't put any thought into her birthday celebration yet.
So, undeterred, she took matters into her own hands, and crafted a fun day for herself
on the day of her actual birthday.

But I really wanted her to know how much her family adores her and asked if we could all celebrate together the following week.

I made her favorite kind of cake and we invited yet more friends who were unable to
participate in her previous gathering of  friends.

We all went out for her favorite food (Mexican)
and enjoyed a giant slab of cake at home later.

We have pretty much loved these teen years,
and all the awesome friends she has brought home with her!
How can you NOT love these faces?

We cannot wait to see what God has in store for this girl
in this next year!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Savoring those last bits of summer

As the sun gets hotter and nearly takes your breath away with it's heat,
and the days sort of start to drag along because we've done 
just about everything you can do on summer break,
we gladly look forward to this annual treat with Grandma.

"Bingo with your Grandkids" brings out the bored, the sleepy, those yearning to break free
from the bondage of the air conditioned indoors to the gathering area
inside my mother-in-laws senior living apartments.
And what fun it is.....every year.

Who doesn't enjoy the thrill of the five matching numbers and the winning of the prize?

Everybody is winner.
Nobody goes home empty-handed.

The afternoon begins in the "in-house" movie theater with a fun kids movie and popcorn.
After that's over, the games begin.
This fun event is always capped off with ice cream sandwiches,
and everyone goes home a winner!!!
Especially Grandma!!! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

School has started and other big events

At some point, I intend to sit down for awhile and just journal how the Lord has done
miracles in our family and changed up our schooling routine in huge, unexpected ways.
Let me just say that homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.

If you want to do it well, it takes intentionality.
Schooling your children at home requires some sense of organization as well as a dash of creativity.
In my 12 years of homeschooling, I've never experienced a child who learned something about their world by simply breathing while lying in bed.
Throw some learning challenges into the mix and you have to be on your toes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Every day.  All day.
Several years ago I began praying for, no.....actually begging God for an intervention.

It took about two or three years of such praying, but God supplied the most perfect solution
for our family.

We are now a part of a "homeschool assistance program" that is a mere 3 minutes from our house and uses the same curriculum I was using at my house.
We started this new journey last school year, and it revolutionized our home!!
My children go everyday from 8 am to 12:30 pm.
It may look like an organized "private school," but it's more a hybrid of private school, homeschooling, and homeschool co-op.
The best part is that I get to call all the shots in regards to what they are doing everyday, and I get to teach a high-school elective course that is near and dear to my heart!!!
Last year it was high school Speech and Drama.
This year it is Family and Consumer Science with our first semester consisting of Foods I and next semester Sewing and Crafts I.
This has been just the thing we needed to bring back the motivation for learning!
God has, once again, proven Himself to be faithful to us and bringing something to us that we desperately needed just when we needed it the most!!