For some of you, you see devastation right now. Your relationships look like a fire is consuming them or the fire came and went and theres nothing visible but a sea of ash. I say to you today...hold on. Cling to the source of love with both hands and with His sweet help declare, "I will suffer long with you. I will dare to hope all things. I will bear up under this ash heap until the promises we whispered and those whispered to us spring forth with fresh life and vibrant color across the landscape of our hearts."
My whole life I've been a wanderer of sorts. Some people would call it a free spirt or a hopeless romantic. Others would call it irresponsible and flakey. No matter what you call it, my heart was always dancing on the edge of every opportunity to stretch out my wings and jump off that cliff. Looking for adventure around every corner. Exploration being the food that fueled my wandering heart. I wanted to conquer mountains and dip my toes into foreign soil. I know that book "Wild at Heart" (by John Eldridge) was written for men, but in so many ways I think it was also written for me.
When I became a Momma though, I remember the wrestle on the inside of me. So much of my spontinaety felt like it was laid down. Because now, every choice I made directly impacted this little person that literally could not survive unless I stepped up to the plate. I couldn't go chasing the sunset unless I wanted to bring a stroller, a few diapers, some wipes, a burp cloth, prob some diaper rash cream, a warm jacket, a change of clothes, a blanket, and like 20 other "little person requirements". By the time I was finally ready, the sun had already set! (Any other mommas feelin' me on that?)
With each child it got more complicated. But the longing to just run for the hills or walk along the shore until I reached its end was always there, rumbling under the surface of all my responsibility. I watched other moms seem so deeply content with their reality. I felt guilty for being so restless. What's crazy is I had attached so much of my "free spirit" to my relationship with the Lord. I always felt like he understood me. Like he knew exactly what he made and even if it was just Him and me, it would be the best adventure ever. All the wildness somehow made me feel closer to Him. And my willingness to embrace it somehow made me feel like it drew him closer to me. So when I felt as though I was laying it all down it almost felt like I was distancing myself from him.
I sit here today, reflecting on this journey of my heart. I want to share the wrestle because maybe there are other mommas out there wrestling with the same thing. And I know I'm only 33, and my oldest child is only 7, but I think back to those early years and how I wish someone would have been there to tell me I wasn't crazy. That the transition was hard. But that my greatest adventure was actually all around me! All I had to do was change my lens.
Learning to find myself again post partum, learning to meet the Lord in the mundane, learning to see my children through the lens of my "greatest adventure yet"...that's all been a process of deep surrender, real wrestle, and leaning with all my might into a very patient and gentle teacher. I kept thinking that if I could just make my wild heart die, maybe I could be more content and joyful as a mom. (I know I'm being super raw right now but it's honest) If I stuffed it down far enough and denied it long enough it would just go away and I would feel better. But the more I did that, the more miserable I felt inside. The more frustrated and resentful I felt toward all these "things" that were "holding me back".
It's embarrassing to say this but since I'm already being crazy transparent I'll just throw it on the pile...it wasn't until Ryan and I watched two of our closest friends loose their 3 year old baby girl followed by my two miscarriages back to back that I was able to take off that old lens and put on a new one.
Suddenly my kids weren't holding me back from adventure, they WERE the adventure. It took witnessing and experiencing great loss for me to recognize it. I had spent so much time trying to be the "perfect mom" by denying the person I was made to be. When instead, all I had to do was change my perspective on the storyline and I could still be that wandering, wild and free me. Except this time my cliff was motherhood. And this time, the sunset I was chasing was the twinkle in their eyes. And this time, the mountain I was conquering was the task of leading them into all Truth.
Sometimes it isn't about loosing a part of ourselves, sometimes it's about changing our lens, turning the page, and embracing the next chapter.
When my 5th child Titus was born, it was all about savoring the journey. A lot more deep breaths, a lot less resistance. A lot more smiles, a lot less tears. I'm still looking for adventure around every corner...but now it looks a lot more like chasing 3 pairs of little feet and gazing at the wonder in their eyes. If there is a part of youself that you felt like you had to stuff away when you became a parent, perhaps the Lord just wants to change your lens? My prayer is that it does not take great loss for you to see it as it did for me. My prayer is that today, and every day after, you be fully you while still being fully theirs and with all your heart you embrace this wild and crazy fun adventure of parenthood.
For Years I felt the pull and the pressure to have the big ministry, travel the world, or even as many of my family and friends would often declare, "become famous". In the early stages of ministry and discovering our gifting or the little treasures the Lord places way deep down inside, there is often a pressure to have something to show for it. Like, "what are we going to do to be great?! How can little ol' me make a big impact?" What happens in our hearts and minds, and unfortunately in our immature actions, is we often look to the outside. We compare ourselves to what we think "success" looks like. We find great people who have impacted our lives in either a direct or indirect way and we say, "YES! that is what I'M supposed to do!" and then instead of seeking the Lord, we start making their lives our target.
I think in the kindness and mercy of the Lord, as we begin to spin our wheels in this direction, He allows the gas to run out. Until all we are left with is our little broken hearts and big broken plans and His kind, patient, ever present Spirit. And then he whispers.
When Ryan and I got married almost 12 years ago now, there was still so much of that stuff on the inside of both of us. I call it, "confusing the target". Its truly innocent or immature most of the time. Its affected by our culture and our friendships, the media, and just that age old human nature fighting for our "place in the world." I remember after we got married so many weaknesses and immaturities began to rise to the surface. Areas of selfish ambition that i didn't even know were still alive came kicking and screaming to the surface.
Then came our first baby, and our second, two miscarriages, and our third. And over the course of those 7 childbearing years something incredible happened. Everything that felt super complicated and hard and often times confusing and exhausting about "my spot in the world", "my destiny", "my calling"...all of it just washed away like an ocean wave after it breaks upon the shore. As the water is reseeding, the contents of what was underneath become beautifully clear.
Suddenly my greatest calling in life, the most important task in front of me, my primary ministry wasn't found OUT there, it was found in this little tribe that does life right along side me every day. If I can't give account before the Lord for their hearts, that He entrusted to me to lead, then how can I go about fighting for this global message of revival and great awakening, worship and intimacy with Jesus?
Family is where the rubber meets the road friends. Family is the tool the Lord uses to pull all of those selfish ambitions, kicking and screaming to the surface. Family is where we work out our faith with fear and trembling. Family is where revival begins...and family is how revival will stand...how it will last.
You see its not that complicated anymore. The question is, who is right in front of you? Are you ministering to them? Are you reaching for Jesus with them? Are you demonstrating the power of his great love or the simplicity of his humble heart by the way you are living right in front of them? Don't get me wrong...I jack this up all the time! Mostly because its so simple that i mistake its significance and underestimate its weight. Could God really be inviting us to cultivate revival in our homes and families BEFORE we see it manifest in the body of Christ as a whole?
If its true what he says, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you" (Matt 6:33) I truly believe that fleshes out FIRST in our own hearts before him, second in the authenticity of our marriage and covenant, and third in the stewardship and cultivating of our children's hearts. If we flow out of this place then all the other "things", ministry, calling, destiny, message, impact...those will be given.
We have to start to steward our families with as much or more zeal than our "ministries". They are our ministry. The first one ever entrusted to us. And it matters friends. It matters to the Lord. It matters for the church. It matters for the lost. Family MATTERS.
All of creation started with families. All of history and eternity comes down to family. Our marriages and our households were meant to be a living testimony, a reflection, a pointing to his great family and instead we keep neglecting the treasure thats been right in front of us the whole time while we go OUT to love on Christ's behalf. Going OUT isn't wrong, but we can't put the cart before the horse. The Lord desires to set the lonely in FAMILIES (Ps 68:6). Lets prepare that ground with him. Lets put our homes in order. Lets cultivate the land that was entrusted to us. Lets get back to Family.
As I sit here at my little desk, looking out over 3 acres of gorgeous green land filled with towering pine trees and twisting oaks, I feel the swell rising on the inside of me again. That overwhelming, all consuming, fiercely confrontational emotion that screams from the inside… “He is worthy of my response!”
Over the last several years of my life the Lord has led me into a place that I unknowingly and innocently had been neglecting. My walk with the Lord was good. I went to church, read my bible, taught my kids about Jesus, prayed regularly, led worship all over, even fasted for numerous lengths of time. But in all of it, if I was being honest, the target of my life and my actions was me. One way or another, if I followed the motive far enough down the road, I ended up back at myself…serving myself. That’s an incredibly hard reality to acknowledge, let alone publicly declare.
We live in culture that validates and constantly fuels a self-serving existence. So much so that we can even take the Word of God or the person of Christ and somehow fit HIM around US. Our ministries, our good deeds, the messages we preach, the songs we sing, our church services, our friendships…all of it…can so subtly yet so assuredly take on a self-serving form and most of us don’t even realize we’ve been caught up right in the middle of that selfish storm.
Now, if you have stuck with me this far…you might be wanting to bounce out now that you see where I’m heading, but don’t! I want to ask you a question…the same question the Lord asked me several years ago…
“What does it mean, when the word says, ‘He is worthy’”?
That question was the question that broke down all my defenses and lead me right here. If Jesus is worthy, then that implies He has worth. And wouldn’t we all agree that He has worth? Great worth! But HOW MUCH WORTH? How much is He worth to you, to me? Is he worth that extra 5 minutes of sleep? Is he worth that extra 20 minutes of worship? Is he worth skipping the sermon for? Is he worth being still for? Is he worth wrestling through our weakness with? Is he worth preferring…his plans, his dreams, his thoughts over our own? Is he worth becoming our daydream? Is he worth the wandering thoughts in our heads? Is he worth our money? Is he worth our stuff? Is he worth our body, our success, or our reputation?
WHAT IS HE REALLY WORTH?
Friends, the reality is, if you’ve been with him…if you’ve heard his voice, or felt his touch, experienced his mercy, caught a glimpse of his beauty, felt his pleasure in your weakness, been plucked out of sinking sand by his great love, or known even for a moment the weight of his glory…then you know that NOTHING we do or give or choose apart from throwing it all at his feet will ever remotely equate to HIS GREAT WORTH.
If He is worthy of anything…He’s worthy of our response! He’s worthy of being the target of our life, our day, our hours, our minutes, our thoughts, our emotions. HE IS THE TARGET! Respond! Let yourself feel that overwhelming, fiercely confrontational emotion that only comes when you think upon that perfect Creator, that good Father, that friend that sticks closer than a brother, that precious Savior…think about Him and then let yourself respond!
When Mary of Bethany wasted all that perfume on His feet…there wasn’t a self-serving thought in her body. She had every right to keep it and be totally justified and still a true lover of Jesus, but instead, she made HIM the target. She thought of HIM. She preferred HIM. She responded.
When King David took that cup of water from the wells of Jerusalem that held within it the very life and sacrifice of his friends, he had every right to drink it and be totally justified and still a true man after the heart of God. But he poured it out like an offering, because honoring the Lord was the target. God was ALWAYS the target.
How can we declare His worth with our very lives today? How can we make HIM the goal? Jesus is the prize of this life. Jesus is the wealth and the treasure. Jesus friends! JESUS IS THE TARGET!