Tuesday Time Out

Tuesday Time Out

This morning started out so peacefully. I woke up a few minutes before my alarm was to go off. Sam was next to me, sound asleep on his stomach with his little butt sticking straight up into the air; it’s enough to make you smile and wonder how that position could ever be so comfortable. Those few moments of peace and joy were quickly forgotten just half an hour later, when that sweet little bug of a baby started to act more like a pill. Following his breakfast, he spit up a little – no big deal – just happened to be all over the rocking chair and myself about 5 minutes before we were to leave the house. No worries, I had built in an extra 10 minutes into our leave time. We got this, I told myself. And then he spit up in his crib, just enough to warrant stripping the mattress of the sheet and pad to launder later. Then he had a blowout diaper – poop everywhere – which at this point has become almost a daily occurrence. The kid poops once a day, maybe, but he makes it count. Second change of clothes and way past my 10 minute window, I stick him in his bouncy seat and try to load the car. He is not a fan. More puke as he gets choked up on his tears, this time all over himself and his bouncy seat. Another thing to wash. Third change of clothes. More tears of protest. Now we are thirty minutes late and our house is to be under inspection in 5 minutes. What’s more? That streak across my glasses I notice as we are driving to school turns out to be baby vomit. Lovely.

I have never been more happy to hand my sweet son off to his teacher. My sweet son, who generally never cries, had spent the entire morning whining, stopping only to smile when I gave him my undivided, completely devoted attention, then preceded to lose his ish when his teacher sat him down on the play mat. Turd muffin, I think as I calm him, hand him a toy, and kiss his soft head… I love you.

I knew staying at home would not be easy.  I worried about the transition since I had been balancing a very demanding full time job with full time motherhood for the past three and a half months. So much for fearing boredom was a thought that crossed my mind often this morning. There’s nothing quite like a teething six month old to drive an introvert to crave interaction with potty-trained adults, even enough to make you miss working with teenagers, call your own mother and tell her what a superhero she has been for putting up with you all these years.

I say all of this not to complain about being a mom, I adore Samuel and love my life. I say all of this to give you a picture of what my life and heart looked like this morning. I did not handle this well. I was not gentle, or kind, or compassionate towards Sam. I snapped “No!” and “Stop!” and mumbled curse words under my breath. I set him down in frustration, picked him up in irritation, and all he wanted was connection with me. My tone, my facial expressions, my body language all met his confused little eyes and the last thing they communicated to him was that he was loved, wanted, and understood. And I could hear the voice of the Accuser heap guilt and shame, joining my own harsh inner voice in condemnation: “This is what happens when you don’t have a quiet time. Good mothers don’t shame their children.” “You should be grateful you have a healthy child. How dare you be frustrated or angry when so-in-so would kill to change their child’s blowout diaper.”  And I could hear the voice of the Father, “Slow down daughter. Let’s put first things first. Take a deep breath. This is only momentary. I’ve equipped you for this.” Who did I listen to? What perspective did I choose? I’ll be real honest, it was not the invitation of Jesus.

It’s true that my morning would have most likely gone much more smoothly had I started it centered on Christ, reminded of the Gospel, and aligned with an eternal perspective. Even still, the Father continues to enforce the truth that in every circumstance therein lays a decision, a choice, a moment of empowerment where the Holy Spirit invites but does not force me to choose His way over my way, to choose His nature over my own. In moments of crisis I can choose either fear or faith. In moments of chaos I can choose protest or peace. In moments of confusion I can choose worry or worship (though worry is merely self-worship). In moments that I feel powerless, I am actually empowered to make a decision to either ride the wave of my feelings and frustrations, or to take authority over them.

Perhaps your morning was smooth sailing. Perhaps it was more like my own. Perhaps yours was much more difficult. Here is what I know – my morning could have defined my day, but thankfully it did not. I may not have made the wisest decisions this morning, and there was definitely an apology from Mommy to Sam this afternoon when I picked him up, but my poor decisions this morning didn’t have to lead to poor decisions this afternoon and evening. Why? Because the invitation of Jesus stands. The beauty of the Gospel remains: you are never too far to come back home. Friend…you are always one decision closer to home, closer to peace, closer to joy, closer to the One who loves you without fail.

May we choose that which leads to life abundant.

-a

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Personally…

Personally…

This morning brought my last snow in Nashville and it is gorgeous. This was to be my last day at work, but the weather had other plans. Cozied up on the couch, it is rare to have a moment of quiet to myself. Watching the heavy, fat flakes fall to the ground, I want to cry…I don’t want to leave. I love our home – our city, our house, my job, our community. I don’t want to move and start over. Like the mature woman that I am, I whine in rebellion only to be met with the most gentle of whispers.

Alex, do you believe that I know you?

Do you believe that I know how to meet and bring about the desires of your heart?

Do you believe that the best is yet to come? That I reward those who earnestly seek Me? That I have good plans for you? That I will provide all you need?

Alex, do you believe that I love you?

Trust Me.

Follow Me.

Okay.

Okay because You are God and you are right – as always. Okay because nearly five years ago we had a very similar conversation that brought me to this city and You have done far more in my life than I could have imagined. Okay because life without You is no life at all; You have made our lives so great here. Okay because You are enough.

Big enough to offer more in this next season, more than we deserve or can dream. Strong enough to empower us to walk and follow You. Gracious enough to open up this door and call us as you have. Faithful enough to equip us and provide for us at every step. Loving enough to refuse to allow us to become stagnant, to become complacent, to begin to think that we had anything to do with the blessings You have given us. Wise enough to know how to answer prayers and questions and dreams we did not even know to voice.

Thank You for Your faithfulness to me, even in my faithlessness and protestation. Thank You for the reminder that even in winter, even in the cold, hardness of a dying season, there is tremendous beauty of the most delicate and unique nature. Thank you for designing winter to give way to the beauty of the birth of spring –a new life, a new season, a new hope, a new promise of adventure with You.

-a

Gifted

Gifted

 

I looked across my desk at a teenage girl and saw the look only a teenager can give you – the look that lets you know you are old, out of touch, and paining them with every clichéd word. Much to my dismay, words rolled off my tongue to the tune of my own mother’s voice, hearkening back to my teenage years when my face contorted into that same look. I couldn’t stop myself. Though terribly aware of how uncool I sounded, I knew I was telling the truth…

You are made in the image of God. You reflect God in a way that no one else ever has or ever will. You have been woven together with divine intention and purpose, given an assignment that was designed for you to fulfill. There is tremendous freedom when you walk in your God-given identity and calling. What’s more, the world sees a more complete picture of God Himself when you are fully yourself, a picture they would otherwise miss without you.

I’m not sure how much she heard, let alone believed, as her look of condescension had been replaced with a mixture of boredom and fatigue. I’m 99% sure she didn’t get the message, but my sincerest hope is that she does one day. How I wish I had listened and believed those truths much sooner in my life.

The reality is that you bring something to the table. You are gifted, hand-crafted, and divinely inspired. You may not be the prettiest, smartest, smoothest kid on the block but you have been created with at least one gift, one much purposed gift. Sometimes I struggle to believe that I have anything unique to offer. I can acknowledge my gifts but quickly point out someone who is more gifted than me. I would describe myself as average at best, but that is not how the Lord views me.

In Ephesians 4:1 Paul urges the church in Ephesus to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” He encourages them to walk with humility, gentleness, patience, love and peace, which sounds impossibly utopian and begs the question, “How?”  By using the gifts God has given us to equip and to edify one another, namely the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-15).

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the whole body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV

When we walk in the fullness of our gifting, when our part is working properly, then the body of Christ is able to build itself up in love. Think about what happens when a part of your physical body stops functioning as it is designed. When your stomach hurts, the efficiency with which your body functions properly is seriously diminished. When your eyes stop seeing as well, your body is greatly hindered. It doesn’t matter what part of the body it is, when it stops working as it should the whole body is impacted. Likewise, when that part’s function is restored, the body operates more efficiently and effectively than before, affording you the opportunity to accomplish much.

If you want to derail a body, you don’t have to assault each body part, just a few key ones, and mission accomplished! In 2 Timothy 1:6 & 14, Paul urges Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God in you” and to “guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.” I believe God knew we would wrestle with our identity and that Satan’s greatest blow to the Church would be an assault on our individual gifts. Since Satan is the author of lies, it makes sense that God would repeatedly encourage us to speak the truth to one another about the gifts He has placed inside each of us. In Ephesians 4 alone he mentions speaking the truth to one another repeatedly. In verse 25, Paul writes, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

Walking in unity is essential for the Body of Christ to function as it was designed with great health and efficiency. When we walk in the gifts God equipped us with, God’s fullness is present within us and we function as one body for the glory of God. In order for us to walk in unity we must do two things:

  1. Make the conscious decision to put away falsehood.
    1. The lies you believe about yourself, the lies you believe about others, the jealousy, the insecurity, the pride, the anxiety, the fear that all comes from believing lies from the Enemy will always keep you from walking in your gift, and ultimately walking in freedom.
  2. Make the conscious decision to speak truth to each other
    1. It isn’t enough to stop believing lies, we must replace them with truth and we must share that truth for complete health.
    2. If we love one another, we will walk in truth with one another, because when we walk in truth we are able to build the Body up in love and function as we were meant to function.

Last week my pastor brought a new perspective to the Tower of Babel story that I had never seen before. He pointed to Genesis 11:6: “The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.’” In the context of this story, you see a people unified in purpose, vision, and language accomplishing great things for their own glory. And you see the Living God recognize the force that is a united group of people who have set their minds to a task.

What would happen if, rather than envying the gifts of others, we clung to the truth that God has given us something valuable and worthwhile as well to share for the sake of His glory? What would happen if we, as members of the Body of Christ, walking in our gifts, were unified in purpose, vision and language? What would happen if we grasped a hold of the Gospel and ran after Jesus with one heart, speaking to one another in the same language marked by truth and love?

Dear friend, you are truly, divinely, and purposefully gifted. Explore that gift. Cultivate that gift. Speak truth into that gift. Walk in that gift, eyes fixed on Christ, and you may just find freedom like never before. Furthermore, you may invite others to discover more of God as they see His image on display like never before.

-a