Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day Five: Trust: Banish the Box Part Two


 
I Don't Fit In Your Box -God
 
Yesterday, I began talking about how I put God into a box, but He had a different plan for my life.  I finished by introducing the box God decided to banish from my life:  moms work and kids go to daycare.

Growing up, it was accepted that even if you were a mom, you worked and the kids were in daycare or school.  This might be God’s plan for some people.  I began to realize a year and a half ago that it was not God’s plan for me.  However, I fought it.  I should have TRUSTED…God always has the right answer, we just need to TRUST His answer. 
 

Easier said than done, right?  I know!  When I knew God was telling me to quit my more-than-full-time job, I did NOT want to quit.  I wanted to stick with what was comfortable:  a reliable paycheck and good benefits.  I wanted the recognition of being a teacher, not “just a mom” (by the way, I don’t believe anyone is “just a mom”).

Finally, after much prayer and many, many arguments with God, my husband and I decided to step out in faith.  We put our TRUST in God big time.  I knew I couldn’t stay home completely and I knew that was somehow part of God’s plan.  I just didn’t know how and was forced to wait and TRUST HIM.

I gave notice for my job at the end of the school year.  Interviews were conducted and another teacher was hired for the next school year.  I packed up my classroom and took my personal things home.  June turned into July and then August.  Praying for guidance and help, I knew that a month from now, we’d be about five hundred dollars short unless I found something else.

Arriving at my daughter’s preschool the same day, the lead teacher told me she had just quit to relocate with her husband.  It turned out they needed someone to work for three to four hours in the afternoons and my daughter could come with me to work.  The paycheck perfectly fit our gap in income.
 

TRUST got us to a lifestyle we absolutely LOVE!  I am stay at home mommy most of the day and then my daughter and I go to play at the preschool for a few hours.  It’s an idea set-up for this stage of our lives and God knew that.  He had this planned; we just needed to TRUST HIM!

When we banish the boxes of our lives and put our TRUST in God to do the leading, He can do amazing things.  But if we don’t step out in faith, we don’t get to see those miracles.

Day Four: Trust: Banish the Box, Part One

 
When growing up, you most likely had plans and dreams for adulthood.  I did and so did most people I know.  (I wanted to be a rock star and marry one of the Hanson brothers when I was a teenager).  But even if you didn’t have specific plans and dreams, there were probably some things that were givens for you:  job, marriage, maybe some kids, etc…ideas that were drilled into you as a child for “what people are supposed to do”.
Even after I became a Christian, I had a complete idea of my life as an adult, fitting each thing into a little box.  Unfortunately, I put God into His own little box too, and opened it when I went to church or did my devotions.  Then, I put God back into His little box and went onto the next thing.  God didn’t factor into the rest of my days much, if at all.

I Don't Fit In Your Box  -God
 
The problem is, God doesn’t fit into a box.  He’s bigger than any box and refuses to be put into one whether we want to acknowledge it or not.  In the last eleven years, very little has gone according to the way I’d dreamed in my head.  Fortunately, with God’s plan, everything is SO MUCH BETTER!
When I met my husband, I immediately began to hound him to go to college and use his GI Bill.  Free college education?  Everyone needs a college education, even if it takes you a long time.  A college degree should be everyone’s goal, right?  Well, that’s what I thought.  I loved college and learned so very much!  College was a good thing and the right plan for my life.

 


My husband, on the other hand, did not want to go.  But I pushed for almost five years and I finally got him on board with school.  Pushing him into school, where his learning disabilities fought him at every step, making him feel depressed and unhappy.  I finally realized, he was miserable and admitted my wrongdoing by forcing him to go to college.

Just because most people do something or live their lives a certain way does not mean that I or the people around me SHOULD do it.  If it’s not God’s call on a person’s life, they shouldn’t be forced to do it.  Similarly, just because most people DON’T do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  Almost two years ago, I began to realize God had a calling on my life that was something I wasn’t raised to do.

 
Come back tomorrow for Part Two of Banish the Box!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day Three: Trust: Now What??


I did it…I was sealed to Him in Heaven.  I had taken that first step in trusting God…and I had no idea why I was doing it.

I knew Jesus was my Savior.  I couldn’t explain it to others, but I knew in my heart it was what I needed to do.  The problem was, I didn’t know much more than Catholic school doctrine which is, unfortunately, not very helpful in one’s walk with Christ.  I went off to college at a large, public university, completely committed and completely clueless.

How can a person TRUST God with things when she has no clue WHO God is, beyond the initial concept of salvation?  As a first generation Christian, I think too many Christians take for granted that everyone knows the big stories of the Bible.

The problem is there is very little out there for new adult Christians.  Most of the basic concepts are geared toward children under ten.  Everything else feels like you need a degree in Greek or Hebrew to understand!  I spent one term at that large, public university and transferred to a small, Christian college but still felt lost. During my “basic” New Testament class, I had no idea what was going on and learned very little despite getting an A in the class. 

I’m concerned about the people who’ve come to Christ and then attended a church that scared them so much they didn’t go back.  How are we helping new Christians build TRUST in God if they don’t know WHERE to start, WHO to trust, or WHY they believe what they believe?

One thing that really helped me learn more about Jesus and studying the Bible was starting the SOAP method with a life journal. 

SCRIPTURE:  Read a portion of the Bible, maybe one or two chapters, select a verse or a few verses that spoke to you (or that you liked).

OBSERVATION:  Make an observation about something you noticed or that seemed important to you from the verse.

APPLICATION:  How can the observation made apply to your life?

PRAYER:  Write or say a prayer about the things you’ve just learned.

I began using this method after finding a great church near the Christian college I attended. You don't have to buy a product from the above link, which is NOT an affiliate link, just a resource I know of.  I started with a simple small notebook.  Now I have several notebooks filled with SOAP studies along with other Bible studies I’ve attended or done on my own over the last eleven years and much more knowledge about the Bible and Jesus’ call on my life than I did when I came to Christ.
What helped you know Jesus better when you first came to Christ?
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See the rest of the posts in my series 31 Days of Trusting God!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day Two: Trust: It All Begins With Love


 
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matt 5:14-16~

Yesterday, I spoke about my daughter’s faith…a child’s faith.  I mentioned the struggle I had with trusting God because of the many stereotypes I was fed as a child.  It took a lot to get over those stereotypes and I find myself still finding stereotypes to shed regarding my faith and Christianity.

How did I shed those stereotypes?  Let me tell you, it was all because seven people chose to trust God and love me.  Jerry Cook, in his book Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness, says that, “Love means accepting people the way they are for Jesus’ sake (p. 19).”  I needed that.  I was so used to rejection by the time I reached high school, I needed some acceptance.  Unfortunately, that is usually where people get into gangs or drugs or an abusive relationship.  While I did have my share of tasting the world, something was always holding me back from doing anything too drastic.

Looking back, I wonder if it wasn’t the prayers of my first pastor’s family?  A husband and wife, two daughters, two sons, and my best friend (who dated and eventually married the older son) all met me when I was in high school.  Every time I encountered them, there was something different.  I knew something was different and I wanted what it was.  I just didn’t know WHAT it was they had. 

 
Two years after meeting this extraordinary family, I went to the family’s church a few Sundays and then went on a youth group camping trip.  I realized a few things:  no one was crazy, no one was a religious nut, and no one was out to score points.  No one wanted me to fill their collection plate.  No one wanted to brainwash me.  All they wanted was to love me, just as I was.  For the first time, love did not come attached to strings.  It was an extension of Jesus’ love through this family.  While it took almost two more years for me to come to Christ, they continued to love me for who I was as I built up trust in them and in God.

Now, this family has their issues, like any family does.  They argue.  They make each other upset.  They are not perfect.  But they follow the Will of the One who is perfect.  Even when the pastor and his wife would have a little quibble, there was none of the tension I was used to.  An undercurrent of peace existed even when life’s troubles came knocking. 

I would be a very lost person if it weren’t for the love of that one family…they loved me so I could trust them, and in turn begin to trust Him.

Who has been personally influential in your walk with Christ?

Day One: Trust: Faith Like A Little Child




“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  ~Proverbs 3:5~

The most precious thing in the world is to see your child following Christ from an early age.  My daughter knew who Jesus was from age two. The week she turned five, while I was coloring Easter eggs with her, she wanted to tell me about Jesus dying on the cross instead of talking about the Easter bunny.  In August, my five year old daughter held hands with her daddy and I and asked Jesus in her heart, fully trusting she would go to Heaven when she died.


Two days ago, I watched my husband and our pastor baptize my daughter, who wanted to tell everyone she decided to follow Jesus by getting baptized.  I was quite the proud mama that day!


When I established homeschooling Little Miss last month, I wanted her to begin memorizing Bible verses, something I had never done.  We started with the above verse from Proverbs.  I love this verse but I know I do not follow it’s direction on a consistent basis.  I posted about this struggle here which was the inspiration for 31Days of Trusting God.  Little Miss doesn’t have the struggle I do.  She trusts God completely.  She KNOWS He is there, all the time, and she KNOWS He is helping her in everything she does.  Why does she know all this?  She’s learned it from infancy and it’s easy to accept truths if we are raised to believe them from infancy. 


I struggle to trust because I WANT to KNOW…but it is really difficult to have the faith of a child, like my precious girl does.  I was raised to trust myself, not God.  I was raised to think that people who put their trust in God were a bunch of religious nuts and that I was more intelligent than that.  I am a first-generation Christian and it is scary!  Generations before me judge me silently (or not so silently) every time my husband and I make decisions for our family based on God’s Will, rather than what the world expects of us.  I want more for my daughter; a firm foundation with a true faith of her own that matures and grows as she does.  I want her to have a family that encourages her to grow and develop her faith; it is the most important piece of her life and will hopefully permeate all other areas of her life in the future.

Since I’ve discovered the truth, I’ve had to fight all the idiosyncrasies we carry with us from childhood and shed the stereotypes I was fed all my life about “born-again Christians”.  I am a Christian and I have been born again, thanks to seven people who never gave up on me and trusted God to answer prayers.  Come back tomorrow for more!

Are you a first generation Christian?  What do you find is the most difficult part of your walk with Christ?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 Days of Trusting God


Okay, I had a really cool button design in my head...but I'm still new at the blogging end of technology and I don't have photoshop or anything similar.  So, instead, I opened up trusty old Paint and created something simple...maybe next year, right?  By the end of the month, this page will have links to all 31 days of trusting God.  I'm linking up with The Nester's 31 Days writing challenge to share with YOU!

I've spent the last two years learning about trusting in God, how hard it is, how lost it can make you feel at times, and how amazing it is to watch God come through for you whene you've put all your trust and apples in His basket, with no back-up plan.  I am by no means an expert and I have many years of my life left to learn more about God and who He is, but this is an area God has really put on my heart to talk to others about.

Come back tonight to see my first post on 31 Days of Trusting God!

Day One:  Trust:  Faith Like A Child
Day Two:  Trust:  It All Begins With Love
Day Three: Trust:  Now What?
Day Four:  Banish the Box, Part One
Day Five:  Banish the Box, Part Two

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Unseen Hand of God


 
So many things whirling, twirling, spiraling out of control in my head.  So much confusion and fear are spilling out of me and into my day to day, impacting work, family, relationships.  So much of me is consumed by the scary unknowns we face right now.  When I search for answers, a calm, still voice whispers…

Trust…I am here.
 

I look at my daughter and wonder…wonder what she’s feeling inside her head and what she really understands about all the bad that I’m trying to hide from her innocent five year old soul.  I hope she never remembers the struggles we’re having at this moment in time but that these memories fade from her memory as they never will from mine.  I feel impatient and frustrated with her reactions to my emotional struggles and all the while I see my baby hurting and scared without knowing why.  I know why and I fear for this little miracle that was never supposed to exist in the first place and I’m reminded…

Trust…I am here.
 

I look around at all we have in our overwhelming, too much stuff society and see all that’s wrong with the way we live our lives…green shag carpet, yellow countertops, outdated television, a stain on the carpet where the cat relieved herself, too many things in too small a space.  I imagine what it would be like to win the lottery and have fine things at the snap of my finger and lose myself in the comic relief of How I Met Your Mother because I know he ends up with his happily ever after in the end.  I lose myself on Pinterest until a pin catches my eye and I break down as I see…

Trust…I am here.
 

I sit with my precious jewel, teaching her ABC’s and 123’s and cool stuff about the trees and we memorize Scripture.  For three weeks, we’ve been repeating “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5.  Suddenly, the lesson I’ve been trying to drill into my miracle comes flying at me and I feel the reminder so blatantly obvious in this verse…

Trust…I am here.
 

 

Breaking down in the middle of the night, nowhere to turn, nowhere to hide, no solution anywhere in sight.  The time for searching for easy solutions is past.  I’m onto looking for difficult solutions and still find none.  Failure!  Fraud!  Screw up!  Stupid!  Ignorant moron! I’m feeling lost and wish to put my lost feelings into words so I search online….He meets me where I am...
 
 
 

As the tears fall from my eyes, I hear the still small voice reassuring me.  I feel the strength of His arms wrapped around me.  I know the many miracles He’s performed in my life; the most significant miracle calls me Mommy.  I take the time to release my fears through my tears.  I release the worries through my fingertips on the keyboard. 

I hold the unseen hand of God and try to remind myself…to trust.