Thursday, August 16, 2012

You surpass them all.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I was going to make a list up to how old you are...but I might not appreciate that. So...its up to how old I am :)

Things I love about you:

1. How you consistently encourage me to trust the LORD.
  Whether it was waiting for a husband, needing guidance about moving overseas {or back}, dealing with relationships, confusion about circumstances...your counsel is the same: Trust. Trust the One who does know.

2. How you live your own trust the LORD.
While the ways to list this are beyond number...the one that most has affected my how you trust God with your children. {Any moms reading: this is the secret!!!} Whether it was in my High School rebelious years, or releasing us kids to move to various parts of the world with your prayers and support...or perhaps its even been most in my adult life that I've enjoyed this: You honestly and fully 100% completely believe and trust that I am seeking God...and HE WILL LEAD ME. There are no words to thank you for this. Your confidence in the Holy Spirit's work in my life, has granted me more freedom in grace than you could know. Your girls love it so much...we talk over the phone about how much of a blessing it is to us. Thank you, Mom.

3. How you always put your left hand on your hip when you cook.
 Turns out...its hereditary ;)

4. The way you toss popcorn in that big silver bowl.
  Hundreds and thousands of times. To bless people, to thank them, to say, "thinking of you and love you"...or just to fill a box you're popping in the post. Better to have edible popcorn than the styrofoam kind, right? ;)

5. How you submit to your husband.
  I was over 18 years old before I learned you and daddy didn't always fully agree on rules for us!
This same submission {and trust in God} has moved you from the place you called home for over 20 years...the wood floors that your children learned to walk on...the poles we slild down in the basement...the sidewalks we rode our bikes on and then wrote Nan, Pops, and Nicole "welcome" signs with left it to follow what God was leading you and daddy to. A place where you knew no one. Just to do the same thing a few years later, and move again. You have done this with joy, and trust in both daddy, and the LORD.

6. Your warmth.
  Everyone feels like your kid because of how much you love.

7. That you're more expressive and enthusiastic than me.

8. That you're older than your husband and met him at a wedding.
  Turns out...that's hereditary too.

9. How hilarious you are!
  No text is received without a laugh! {sometimes...I forward the really funny ones to my friends.}

10. How welcoming you are.
  Everyone is invited. All the time. Even if we just met them over a weekend and we don't really know them...they can come on our family vacation. {my favourite part about this that its not an exaggeration.}

11. How you try to come up with reasons to give us money.
  "um...this is for doing my hair. And to get something to eat before you get on the plane." When you've really given me 1500x the amount that would cost. "This is for letting us come see you..." ...right. and ALLLL the expenses that entails. "This is for gas." "But mom, someone else drove me." "Well, this is for the gas you would've spent."

12. How you tell me I'm so creative whenever I make a craft of any kind.
  ...when in make more crafts than anyone on the planet.

13. How you always say that Pops would be proud of me and my business.

14. That all you wanted when we were little was for us "to get along" with eachother.
  ...and how 20 years later...its one of the things that blesses you the most: your kids' relationships with each other.

15. The Crazy 8's are still in your many years later? {shhh. no one will tell.}
  High School friends and relationships that have lasted DECADES.

16. The way you're "From New Jersey" when you mean business.
  and that you came up with that expression and all your kids know what it means ;)

17. How hard you fight for peace in relationships.

18. The way you say, "Oh honey!"

19. How absolutely amazing you are with any child anywhere.

20. The ways you rejoiced with me and encouraged me that Josh was "the one" and so very evidently who God was leading me to.
  "How was picking up the Best Man? Was he cute?! I PRAYED he was cute!"

21. How you "could talk to me all day" every time we talk.

22. That cheese and crackers is always the first snack offered.
  Of course with a glass of wine.

23. The way you tell stories.
  They are the BEST.

24. How you used to make us watch random Oprah shows so we'd remember not to talk to strangers.
  It worked! :)

25. How sympathetic you are.
  You always tell me I must be so tired and I'm working so hard. I need a nap and to have some fun.

26. That you're MY mom.
  And you always will be.

I love you so much! Happy Birthday!

{Dear everyone: please feel free to comment about the reasons YOU love my mom}

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Voices of Others

Satan loves it. He encourages lies. He wants us to feel our filth without finding cleansing. He doesn't want us to silence the voices of others in our heads...

I imagine everyone battles this to some degree. I would imagine girls struggle more...probably because we DO it more.

Its the sneaky, un-stated, un-communicated expectations that we put on others...and that they put on us. That when un-met, breed tension, difficulty, strife, and confusion.

Chances are, we've all been on both the giving and receiving ends of this disgusting expectation. We've helped rob joy from others because of our selfishness. We've communicated legalistically with others, while giving ourselves heapings of grace. We've voluntarily withheld love. We've closed our mouths in self-righteousness thinking we were "being the bigger person" when we should've opened it to communicate our struggle. We've stopped pursuing because other's aren't responding-- and we try to come up with a reason in our minds as to "why" they're not doing what we want. We've ignored conflict. Or on the other end, we've instigated conflict by judging those who've not met our own expectations- calling it sin while not knowing their heart.

...and the sad part is...I'm sure we're more aware of when its done TO us, than when we are the culprits.

I find it incredibly hard to feel "forgiven" for these un-stated offenses. It's as though I think, because they are "hidden" (have not been communicated to me)...God must not be aware of them He can't forgive them...but they still exist. I am still condemned for them.

Not matter how hard anyone tries to convince me that it's not my responsibility to "figure out" what I've done wrong, or to trust that God will bring something out if and when He chooses...I am fighting so.stinkin.hard to let it go. I want to KNOW what I must've done wrong for someone to've "said this" or "done that". It is hard to pretend "I don't know" that they talk to others about whatever it is I've not measured up to. And I desperately want to know. I want to change. I want to hear those conversations and ask questions...

Years ago, this looked like reputation-preservation in myself. By the grace of God, I don't believe that's as strong as it once was. Yet, in recent months, He is tugging at sinful roots that go far deeper.

I am not trusting. I feel I cannot trust. Without hearing the other's "side" or perspective...surely I am guilty of whatever it is they have against me. I don't trust God. I don't trust the consistent observation of those closest to me and most involved in my life. I think to myself, "We all must be deceived. Whatever my 'condemner' says must be the real truth."

And as I drove down the road yesterday, contemplating these things...the Holy Spirit brought His Word to me,

"So far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." Romans 12:18

...I just looked it up to find the reference and found another absolute beauty: it begins, "If possible..."

If possible. As far as it is my responsibility.

That is it. I must find peace. Peace in knowing that GOD...the Almighty Creator of the Universe...against whom I have sinned so horrifically, no human's offense- real or perceived, could compare...HE has forgiven me. HE has seen me, HE has spoken to me in many moments of me asking what I can do to fulfill "as far as it depends on me." All I can do is my responsibility. Then, I must trust Him. He is working where I cannot see. And He is obviously using this in my own heart and life as draw Him to Himself. To show the cross see grace abound even more.

...I must give it up. I cannot, and will not please/serve others well. Especially by their own definition. I cannot guarantee them that they will not be hurt by my actions...when there is real sin, or perceived. I am not in control of my relationships: I am responsible for my own actions. I must learn this distinction.

...and I must let His the voice most heard:

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." Romans 8

So what about you? What voices are playing in your head? What lies do you hear? When you feel you don't measure up, are you quick to boast in the cross...or do you want to know and understand and make it right?

May the LORD sweetly and gently teach our hearts...that His is the Only Voice that matters.