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Posts Tagged ‘refining’

Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders

These lyrics have been haunting me.  I can’t seem to shake them.  We sing these great songs and feel these deep feelings, then we listen to the words.  From the song Oceans by Hillsong United, these lyrics are a pretty intense request of God.  Without borders?  Yikes.  That doesn’t stay within my comfort zone.  Or within my lifestyle desires.  Or within my perceived capacity to life.  But I want it.  I want to want it even more.

The kids and I were discussing this song the other day, talking about true faith, and about how it’s not just a fuzzy feeling on Sunday morning.  It’s not just a “praise God” or “amen.”  It’s about whole-heartedly offering God everything you are.  Everything.  Not a lot of us have this kind of faith.  Heck, my guess is no one does.  Because really, if we even have the “minuscule” faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains.

The kids came up with a fun challenge: Whoever comes up with another song that means the same thing as that line, they win a donut (we all knew that everyone was going to get a donut anyway, but still, the incentive felt enticing…).  Colby came in first with the hymn “I Surrender All.”  The second was the hymn “Take My Life.”  I thought it interested that both came up with hymns.  It made me grateful for a church that appreciates and sings them.  They are so rich in theology and truth.

When you sing these hymns, do you mean the words you say?

Once upon a time a few years ago, I had the honor of being a table host at a ladies conference.  It was not long after Scott had spent some time in the hospital with his life on the line.  I remember sitting there next to a woman who still had fresh bruises on her arm from having been raped days before.  Yet she was here.  Sitting at my table.  And even more humbling, she was encouraging me by sharing what a testimony it was for her to watch (from afar) Scott’s Saga, exhorting me to hold fast to and live whole-heartedly for Christ.  I think about those moments a lot.  Even more so the last couple of days.

Three days ago her son committed suicide.  It was unexpected and tragic, as I suspect most suicides are.  He was young.  He was handsome and smart.  He had a whole life ahead of him.  And now here she is again, in the trenches of darkness, struggling to find reality amidst the mind-numbing grief.  Here they are again, their marriage being tugged at in new, unbelievably painful ways.  Thankfully she had the mind to ask for help before she drowned.  She will miss her son’s service in doing so, but as she said: “I wish so bad he would have done this.”

She gets to experience faith without borders.  She didn’t ask for it.  She probably doesn’t think she can do this.  She probably can’t.  Instead we all pray fervently on her behalf, for all involved.  We get to practice Galatians 6:2 and carry her load to the Cross when her words and mind may not be available to.  We get to pray for her marriage.  For her family, little and big.  Her load is not light, and can’t be carried alone.

Do not be afraid – I am with you!
Do not dismay – I am your God,
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will protect you and save you.
I will hold you.
Isaiah 41:10

This type of faith is not for the faint of heart.

If you’re feeling hopeless, and do not see the light, please reach out.  Know that you are not alone.  And know that we all may not know how to help you.  We will fail you.  But don’t give up.  Surrender instead.  Surrender to Christ.  He will give you life.  He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7) and will not fail you.

The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope. (Lamentations 3:24)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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Once upon a time I blamed genetics on my “thriving on chaos.”  My family has a long line of go-getters, and have come a very long way in their lives.  I respect that, I do!  But some have used their wandering spirit in misguided ways.  I know, because I’m one of them.  I spent years investing in things that I suspected would not yield a return.  Things that ate up our resources quicker than they replenished them.  I did it anyway.  I have lots of speculation about why: the feeling of being useful or needed, seeking approval, lack of clear direction or listening to God’s call, plain stupidity, etc… But rather than dwell on those things, I want to delve into how we’ve changed our life to reflect ourselves in a more true way.  For what it’s worth, we learned a lot along the way, and tho’ retrospectively we would make different decisions, we are who we are today because of our past, and I’m thankful for the ways God used those situations for His glory – and has blessed us greatly through the process.

The nagging itch I used to try to scratch has softened.  Though the yearning still lingers, it has been redirected.  Now I know that it is a gift, not a curse.  It’s a longing for a life after this one.  Nothing here can quench the thirst to eternal life with Christ.  But here’s the hitch: we  live with Christ not only later on, but today.  Every day.  Every moment.  And that is what I truly believe became clear to me, calming the need to create my own false paradise.

This multi-generational quality* continues to be apparent.  I still am motivated by many things, and always have goals.  Let’s be real, life is a work in progress that will never be complete.  We are not supposed to sit around lolly gagging but should use our resources wisely and productively.  And so we press on with new adventures in business, family, home & education.  We seek to ‘better’ our lives in ways that we can, but with contentment.

And there is the key: contentment.

Since the day we listened to God’s call and decided to let our old farm go, God has blessed us exponentially.  Our discontent turned into bigger blessings than we could have reached for in all of our trying.  For one, peace reigns.

A few short weeks after we moved to our current farm, Scott ended up in the hospital for some time.  We saw this as a clear blessing from God, orchestrating timing so perfectly for what could have easily been a fatal blow had we still been at the old property.  Almost losing him – over and over while he was in the ICU – left our whole family with a lot more contentedness.  We value every day more.  We also let things roll off our shoulders that would have been big deals before.  We learned how to let go in a way we never knew before.  The freedom we sought in doing came by not doing.  It’s a shame how we all seem to have to learn through experience instead of the wisdom of others.  Makes me extra prayerful for our children.  As much as I would never wish hardships on them, it is often the refining moments that are the most powerful and life-altering.

So this all sounds honky dory and all, but I wanted to share specifically some practical ways we have learned to curb discontentment.  Cuz let’s face it: it rears it’s ugly head in the mundane.

When we’re feeling discontent, we go to action:

If we want something, we figure out what we can get rid of (sell) to buy it.  Even the kids do this with us.  While waiting in the process,  it allows the desire to wane, or makes it all the more worth it.  It also keeps our goal of living more minimally in check as we do not add to our stuff without eliminating things first.

If we want to do something, we make plans that fit our family and budget and lifestyle.  Vacation can be simple to be gratifying (for us anyway).  We also love road trips, which helps.  Our family of 7 can travel via road much more affordably than fly.  That said, we’ve let Adyn know we’re banking on him for private flights when he’s certified.  Ha!  There are also several buddy programs that allow affordable access to local attractions, friends with fun toys, etc.  There’s never a lack of something we could do and have fun doing!

If we’re discontent with our lot in life and try comparing it to others’, we try to spend more time with them.  We learn quickly that they, too, don’t have a perfect life.  Everyone has flaws.  We can grow together instead of separate ourselves into levels of “coolness.”

If we are not content in a circumstance (relationship, place of work, church, school, etc) we try to change it starting in our homes first.  Our lives should be a testament of what we believe.  Whether or not other places reflect our values 100%.  I’ve found that when I’m content with our personal lives and home, it’s easy to be content outside of it.

These are a few ways that we have personally harnessed discontentment and turned it into something positive. I can think of oodles of examples that we’ve put these to work, and with prayer, God has been faithful to turn our attitudes around every time. Sometimes it took a while, no thanks to my impatience and stubbornness.  😮

Which leads to one of the biggest ways I have personally combated discontentment: Seek advice/counsel and find a prayer partner.  Sounds like a big sister club, yeah – but really, I’m incredibly thankful for the brothers & sisters in Christ who are particular prayer warriors in my life that I can ask anytime, anyhow, without being discouraged. Find someone you know who you trust to understand your heart, and encourage and walk along them as you work your way through things. I cannot share how much the value of solid transparent christian relationships has been in our hard (or bad attitude) times.

Ha! A perfect opportunity happened just now. A youngster was fussing that we ran out of white chocolate syrup for coffee (ridiculous. we don’t usually have this.) and said we need to buy more, so we Googled and made more with a few pennies worth of 3 measly ingredients.  All the while talking about how often we have what we need for what we want if we’re willing to work a little at using our noggins. Why buy when you can make?!  Oh, and now we have semi sweet chocolate syrup, marshmallow cream and caramel sauce.  Great.  We’re all going to get fat.

*or is it just “the American dream/er” in us all?

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