14.8.13

Redirected

This blog came from an honest place. I longed for a space where I could share about my journey through depression, my spiritual life, and an overall more personal feel than my "review blog". Recently though, I've found myself in a bit of a tug-of-war, if you will.

Taking on this blog...and then Keystone...and then my review blog + Keystone + this blog, I quickly felt like I was suffocating. I couldn't properly keep up with any of it and my desires to write were being tangled up in my to-do's and words were hard to come by.

I prayed. "What do I do with all of this, God? I know I'm supposed to be sharing my heart in these ways but am I doing this right?"

God quickly began to deal with me on the topic of this blog. He challenged my heart and questioned why I felt like it even needed to be over here, apart from my main blog. I concluded that it didn't fit and that people who read this aren't necessarily at Coffee With The Mrs.

Hello, pride? {Dear Lord, forgive me.}

Gently...so gently...God whispered to my heart that I am who I am and I am just one person. {And I'm His}. If I can be who I am and enjoy all of these things {shopping, studying The Word, homeschooling, crafting}, why can't I showcase that in one place? I don't need to protect people from "this part" of me. Instead, I can invite them to know even more about who I am and give them even more opportunities to relate with me.

Since this realization, I've moved all of these posts over to CoffeeWithTheMrs.com and put them under the topic of "Life". I will continue to share my heart and thoughts over there and will make them searchable by that topic. {Psst, hover over the arrow next to the word "Topics" on the top menu and you'll see all the different topics that apply to who I am.}

Thank you, to those of you who joined me here. Let's continue these conversations. Let's continue to seek God and His inspiration. I hope you'll join me at CoffeeWithTheMrs.com and on my Facebook Page.

I'll be closing this space down soon and redirecting traffic to that page.

7.8.13

The Cry From Within

These words were used to describe a blogger who lived out her last days on earth reaching out to and encouraging others. In a 30 minute video describing her and her impact, these are the words - a 6 second contribution to the other 1800 seconds - that are changing me.

I've been pondering these words for months now.

I never visited Sarah's blog or experienced any sort of conversation with her. It's the words of those who knew her, though...these give me a glimpse into the heart of an incredible woman.

How can I live like that while being whole in body? How can I keep my eyes on Him and my feet on the ground with my hands reaching out to those around me? One foot firmly planted here and another foot firmly planted in heaven....

I began waking up early in the morning to meet with Jesus before I started my day. I had both my Bible and my coffee, the flesh and the spiritual needs to get me going. And as I've been faithful to this, I see living words on the page and I ask God to use those words to change me. I want to be remade every day. I want to cast off "Amy" and put on Jesus.

It all sounds big and spiritual even as I type it out. That's not what it is for me, though. It's in the simple. It's in the deciding not to lose my temper and choosing patience and grace instead. It's in not giving into insecurities, the lies that would hold me still, and believing that I'm created in HIS image. It's in listening, really listening to what people say...and hearing what they won't say...and being faithful to respect them and lift them up in prayer.

Every time I choose His way, responding how Christ would respond, my foot becomes a little more firmly planted in Heaven.

That's the key, I think. It's important to be a good steward of what I have here on earth but nothing matters if I don't keep the eternal goal in mind.

I tried to explain this to my husband and found myself frustrated. "I don't know. It's like I'm having an out of body experience. I see everything I have here and I realize my responsibility to it. But the 'bad' things that happen, I want to shrug them off in comparison to eternity. There's something bigger I need to focus on. There's a bigger mission I have..."

And so here I sit, constantly looking up. Constantly seeking out the bigger mission while untangling myself from the things that try and pull me down. In the end, I want to have lived in a way that makes Him say "Well done!" I want to have lived like Sarah did...even if only a little.


27.7.13

It Isn't Failing

writer


So, I was reading this amazing book all about how a little boy's mind works, how that connects with his spirit, and my roll in all of it as his mother. The information I was reading seemed like an endless well and I kept taking and taking from it. And then I got to the chapter about what a mom means to her son.

And I put the book down, unwilling to go any further.

It told me all of the things my son needs from me, and friend, that list seemed infinite. It suggested I do certain activities with him and make sure to not do others. It drew a picture that, to me, looked like a Mary Poppins mom. Of course, this was my perception while I was reading. {Notice how I never took time to let the words of encouragement sink in that I read.}

I had to stop reading because I felt like I failed him. My son is 6 and if I'm not already this super mom who engages him in all the games he wants to play, never yells at him, and only says positive things to build him up, can I ever be? I felt like the answer to that question is No. No, I can't be this idealistic mom. No, I can't wake up tomorrow and shake off 6 years of motherhood to begin fresh and be more like Mary Poppins this time.

All of this thinking really dragged me down. I really felt miniscule and asked God what I was supposed to be learning here.

And He whispered it gentle to my soul. "Amy, you may not match a book's ideal image but you are my idea. You, and the son I gave you, were made in my image. Is there any other way you should have been made? What you're doing with him isn't failing. It isn't failing, but it's learning. It is loving. It is caring for and giving to and teaching him about who I AM."

And I sobbed like a baby as these words graced my heart.

It's true. I'm not a horrible mom and I'm not failing my son. I'm learning about what it means to be a mom while raising a boy who is learning about what it means to be kid {at this stage in life}. I love that boy with everything I have and want to protect him from a world of harm. I teach him and pour into his heart about who Jesus is and what that means for him.

And yes, I lose my patience. And yes, I've raised my voice and hurt his feelings. Yes, I've missed the mark quite a few times...but I didn't fail.

As long as I follow God's lead, I can't fail any of my children. Instead, I can learn and become better over time. And in the meantime, I can drink in those new mercies every day.

Have you been there too? Are you there right now? Let's encourage each other! Strike up a conversation in the comments box. :)


19.7.13

The Call To Just Lay Down



I spent last week volunteering at a camp for foster children. I was paired up with a girl who had been to this camp 2 times before and I poured, and I poured, and I squeezed every drop of Jesus I could find in me out over her heart. She was comfortable in knowing what to expect at camp and I felt called to challenge her to go a little further with God this time.

As soon as I got home from my week long mission, the hits started and they just kept coming. Life everywhere had moved on while I was gone. Suddenly I was battling my fleshy, nasty reactions to people who hurt, or were hurt {and I didn't understand the hows or whys} , or made me feel altogether obsolete.

Not needed.
Not invited.
Not heard.
Not "friend".
Not thought of.
Not visible.

These lies have been dancing around in my mind for the past 7 days. Every day I lay them down and every day they jump back up and try to take me down again. It's in the tones of voice I hear. It's in the looks on faces. It's in the "no reply" I receive. It's in the silliest things that don't mean anything, except I get hurt by those too somehow.

I began to fight but I grew so weary. Have you ever been there? Fighting that fight against that nagging thing until your arms hurt...until you're so tired you could cry?

Last night I was listening to Jason Upton's song Fly and it broke me. He sang these words:
Some of you've been fighting for a very long time
Some of you've been fighting that ground warfare for a very long time
Sticking out your fists and fighting
God wants to take us to new places
New revelation
New perspective
Aerial View

I declare over you 
God has given you the air
God has given you the air so fly
It's time to spread out your wings
It's time to shake off the things that hold you down
It's time to spread out your wings and fly
Just fly

The first part is what I've been completely guilty of. I've been trying to fight these attacks on my own. Oh, I pray and spend time with God, but then I turn right around and start swinging again. I want the truth to be the only whispers in my ear and I clutter up the sounds I hear with my own war cry.

The second verse of that is the truth I needed to hear. "God has given you the air". It's not about fighting these battles on the ground. It's about surrendering the battles to Him and flying above them in peace. True surrender doesn't ask me to fight again - it asks me to lay it down and leave it there, not to pick it up again.

Jason finishes his song with this:
I have given you wings 
I have set you free from the things that held you
I have given you wings
I have set you free so come to me
And my heart says, "Thank you, Lord". My soul feels at peace and my heart cries healing tears.
I love the lyrics of that last verse. The Lord says, "I have set you free from the things that held you".

And you? Yes. Right now, you can surrender the things you're battling with and take the peace of His wings instead. Don't fight the battle on your own. Lay down that burden and wait for Him to come and fight for you. Strength comes in the waiting. Healing comes in the soaring in freedom. "Joy comes in the morning". {Psalm 30:5b} {Tweet This}



Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.



24.6.13

Beyond The Collision

My 3 year old daughter and I shared squeezes and excited smiles as we got back into the van, almost to our hotel where we would be staying overnight, just the 2 of us, and then off to see the new American Girl store before its Grand Opening. We had stopped off for a short break and made plans to put on our bathing suits as soon as we got in our room.

Just before this break, we were in farmland. She was watching a DVD and I began to thank God for this chance to get away with her for some one on one time. I began to hum a random tune, as I often do and began to sing the words

"Lord, in the storm you're my calm. You hold my soul."


Just then, a butterfly made its way across my windshield and I smiled as I felt His sweet presence with me.

I continued to sing.

"You orchestrate the storm. You bring me to it and you bring me through it...every high and low..."

Little did I know what was up ahead.

I pulled out onto the highway after our stop and made my way toward the hotel. As I drove, I was looking for my turn off on the right. Suddenly, I noticed that there was an intersection with a red light and a stopped car in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and swerved away from the car, but it was too late. I couldn't stop in time and I ran right into it.

I'll never forget the sounds I heard. The screeching brakes, the thunder of the crash, and the heartbreaking scream my daughter let out as smoke from the airbags began to fill the van. I quickly rolled the windows down and turned toward her to look her over.

The woman I hit pulled over right away and ran toward my van. She came to the window, asking how many children I had with me and if I was alright. She helped keep us calm, called for help, and talked to my daughter about how it was all going to be alright. She brought me cold water and a bandaid for my head {it was cut open when it hit the airbag}.

Every other person to come to the scene was just as wonderful to me and my baby girl. A random person pulled behind my van to wave traffic away from us. The man who towed my van encouraged me and told me I was strong and that I was doing a great job with my little girl. The police officer did everything he could for us to the point of packing all of our things in his car and driving us to a Walmart where we could wait for my husband to pick us up.

I was grateful that we walked away from that accident with bruises, aches, and scratches. I was so thankful to God for protecting us...but mostly my little girl.

But the next day, as the hubster went out to shop for a new family car and I stayed behind with the kiddos, my mind began to raise the question of "Why?".

Why did I get all that way, over 3 hours from home and only 20 minutes away from our hotel just to smash into someone and not be able to enjoy the things I had lined up for us?

Sunday morning during worship, my answer found me. This may not be the answer, but it's what my heart needed to know.

Eucharisteo. This word. This idea of living in gratitude that I learned only from reading Ann Voskamp's 1,000 Gifts Devotional {and I'm not nearly finished with it yet}. This is my "why".

When I began reading her devotional, my heart began to ache for this discipline of gratitude. I wanted in the most stressful of times to find the joy and give thanks. Yes, I believe we can give thanks for all things. So, I began to pray that God would help me learn this discipline.

And as the worship leader began to sing the song 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman, it all came together and I saw my answer through my tears.

"The sun comes up it's a new day dawning. It's time to sing your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.
Bless the Lord, Oh my soul..."


Suddenly, I realized that what happened on Thursday could have kept me from ever seeing Sunday. Again, I was grateful for the gift I received in the bent hood and broken headlights. But what moved me to tears was God showing me, "You did it! You lived it! In that moment of chaos and fear, you thanked me! Your heart praised me! You don't need to ask me to help you live in gratitude. Your heart already knows how."

And I let the tears flow and I grabbed my husband's hand as I listened to the song. There was no way I could sing it with my voice through the flood of teardrops, but my heart was shouting it out!

"For all your goodness I will keep on singing...10,000 reasons for my heart to find..."




11.6.13

When The Whispers Come



There is a part of me so willing and excited to follow God's lead. This is the part of me that leads me to say "Yes" to Him, even if I think what He's asking of me is too big. I trust Him. I cling to Him as He shows me the next step. I rejoice with Him as I turn around and see where He has brought me.

The "Yes" answers unlock doors to the things He holds for me. But without fail, I see my feet being pecked at as I try to confidently take that next step. As I struggle for balance to stand where He's placed me, I feel a tug on one of my outstretched hands and a smack on the other. There is a fight to stay in that "next step" toward Him and the plans He has for me.

And just when I think the struggles have passed. When I think I can now stand in confidence without any resistance, the whispers begin.
"What are you doing?"
"You can't do this!"
"You'll never be able to make it."
"Failure."
"You're messing it all up!"
"Your children hate you!"
"Your husband is losing interest in you."
"Fat."
"Ugly."
"ALONE."

On and on they come against me. Maybe you've heard these too? These whispers that buzz like a mosquito in my ear. The more I flinch, and swat, the more they come. And maybe I'll entertain one of these whispers. Maybe I'll stop trying to fight it and begin to agree instead. Maybe the eyes that were once locked on Jesus fall to stare at my own feet and as I breathe, I inhale and exhale that whisper.

I become motionless. Stagnate. I'm no longer gaining any ground and I have nothing to rejoice in.
Have you been there? When I am feeling like God is so far away, the reality is He hasn't moved - the thing I've fixed my focus on has. What now?

What is the key?

Friends, I know if I am in Christ, I have the victory! Amen? The end of the story that says "WE WIN!" certainly brings hope. When these whispers come, I try and catch them before they do damage but I miss sometimes. So, I worship. Even if I don't feel like it, I lift my hands in worship.

Remember in Acts when Paul and Silas were bound in chains and imprisoned? They worshiped and prayed and the very foundations of the jail shook, breaking off the chains that held them. There is freedom in our worship. {Acts 16:25 & 26}

After that, I pray. I ask God to whisper HIS words into my heart. I choose to lift my eyes and fix my gaze on Him once more. And as I cry out to Him and show Him what a mess I've made, He gently wipes it all away. He cups my face in His hands and speaks words of peace, healing, forgiveness, grace, joy, unconditional love, and acceptance over me. I hear these words and my posture changes. I stand like I know I've already won and confidently take that next step with Him.

If you're in a place of defeat, don't stay there. Don't let the lies hold you still. Line up the whispers you hear with the ones God would say and choose to give your ear to Him.

Fix your gaze and keep on going.

All is grace.


5.6.13

When It's Easier To Be Alone

I was taking laundry down to the basement and happened to glance out my back door as I went. What I saw made my heart leap and a smile come to my face. A cat was walking in my yard. But this was no ordinary cat. This cat and I have a bit of history.

When I first moved in my home last fall, it wasn't long before the winter came with all its chill and howling winds. One night, I heard a cry outside. I knew it was the call of a cat but I couldn't see where it was coming from. I turned out every light in my living room so I could see better into the darkness outside, and I waited as I looked.

The cry came again. This sound pierced into my gut and made me want to help. It was a call of distress, the cat wanted the warmth of the inside and the comfort of the radiating heat.

I spotted him. There. Tucked in along the hedges, a natural blocking for the wind, he was all curled up.


He called and cried and broke my heart. I was pouting to my husband "We have to do something!". The lonely cat made his way beneath my van and tucked in behind the tire. Still, he called.

I placed a box on my porch with a blanket and some food. I created a shelter for him but it seemed it was too much to ask of him. He refused the comfort for lack of trust and continued to hide himself away under my van for a few nights. I even moved the box to the very spot he sat on the sidewalk and still, he refused..

After those nights, he was gone. I had hoped someone took him in or he found his way home. I worried about him. Yes. I worried about a stray cat.

But this morning, in the thick of spring weather, he was walking in my yard and hunting for birds. He looked a bit thin so again, I wanted to help. "Why can't I just go scoop him up and bring him in, show him family, and fill his belly?"

The truth is, he wouldn't let me if I tried. He's accustomed to being alone. He trusts loneliness more than a stranger with an outstretched hand. Even if I knelt down low, holding out my palm, and spoke gently to him, he would eventually dash off. I know because I've attempted this before.

Really, my whole life I've been doing this; finding stray animals as a child and wanting to care for them. I must have driven my parents crazy! Crickets, toads, dogs, cats, wounded birds, and I'm sure more than these - I would bring them inside or put food on my porch to lure them into joining my family.

I was like this with people too. I would find the lonely and broken and want to make them family. As a child, my Sunday School teachers would bring new children to sit beside me because even they saw this trait in me and knew I would want to help them feel at home. As I grew, I was sometimes hurt by these wounded people I would befriend because I would wear my heart on my sleeve and love them full on - even as they took advantage or mistreated me and my wide open heart.

And again, I feel this need to bring people in and make them family. As I watched that cat in my yard, I wondered how many people were wandering right then. People who are accustomed to loneliness. People who would lash out and try to hurt you if you got too close. People who run from community and maybe not even out of fear, but out of their habit of isolation.

My heart aches because I too chose isolation at a season in my life. I felt that my new marriage, followed by a first born child was my "picture perfect" and I didn't need anyone. I isolated myself and allowed my friends to only see what I wanted them to see...if I saw them at all. The more time I spent alone, the more I believed the lie that I should be alone...because the world had surely moved on from me.

Friend, if it's you that came to my mind this morning, don't believe that lie. The world hasn't moved on from you. No. The world is missing you and that thing that only you can bring to the community. The world is missing your unique qualities because no one else can fill your shoes.

I'm praying for you right now. 

I'm praying that God would fill your heart with whispers of the amazing and beautiful person you are and why He made you. I'm praying that He shows you what it is that He created you with and gives you a first step toward using those things. I'm praying that He wipes away the insecurities and the lies and as those things are exposed, know that He will wrap you up in a blanket of love and peace. You're safe. It's safe.

Come and sit next to me. Be family with me. Let me tell you, no matter how long it's been, it's so good to see you. I'm happy you're here.

Love, Your Sister,