Wednesday, September 25

Honesty is HARD

Our pastor is doing a sermon series on GRACE. We are three weeks in, and the sermons have been powerful. At the start, he told us that our ministry leaders were hoping to incorporate "grace stories" within the series. During the second week, I felt led to just write out my own grace story. I'm not sure why. THEN... I felt led to send it on to our pastor. He knows our "story", so I wasn't really worried about letting him read through my testimony.

However, the next day, Scotty got a call that they wanted me to video my story to be part of the next Sunday's service. See, my grace story deals with God's sustaining grace, and THAT was the topic of this past week's sermon. Coincidence?!?! ;)

Anyway, I DO NOT like the platform. I DO NOT like the attention. I DO NOT like being on camera... especially if I'm going to talk about deep and emotional experiences. Who wants to be THAT vulnerable for all to see.

But, I'm past doing the "comfortable" thing. We have a story. God's done AMAZING things, and we NEED to share. So, I went to the church last Thursday and recorded. I pulled out of the church SO VERY happy that it was done. Then, Thursday evening, an emotional fog covered me, and I spent 2 FULL days in complete spiritual warfare!!!

See, this is HARD, too. My video testimony that the entire church heard last week talks about the sustaining grace that has literally been POURED over my life. It's real. It wasn't a show! But, for the 2 days prior to it being shown, I was in an all out battle over my mind/thoughts. And, many of the moments in those 2 days, I was LOSING! At my lowest point, I recognized that I was in spiritual warfare, that Satan knows he can't tempt me into some kind of addiction or to turn my back on God, so he was warring against me with "Why did God..." and "How could He..." thoughts. Even then, after identifying my enemy, I became angry with God. I kept asking over and over why God was letting Satan get to me. I was in COMPLETE victim mode. And, as I've stated here before, I HATE VICTIM MODE!

It's pointless.

It serves NO positive purpose.

It's a WASTE of time!

But, that didn't stop me. I pitied ME and wondered why God wouldn't have put a protective shield around me binding Satan from me. Those were my honest feelings. I knew God could handle it. But, I felt so guilty! So, there I was going round and round... miserable with God, miserable with me, miserable with God, miserable with me... Ugh! Exhausting.

So, it's really hard for me to be this open. You already know all of the yuck that's gone on in my life. That part is no secret. But, to share my internal struggles is new... To share that I momentarily turned on the ONE constant of my life is humiliating! But, I did. And, so that Satan can't use THAT against me in the future and call my a hypocrite for boasting of the great grace of my God while questioning that same God, I'm just going to go ahead and confess it!

Yep. That's me. I'm hypocritical. Occasionally, my outward expressions (what I TRULY believe) don't match up with the first responses popping up within. And, even still, God pours out His GREAT grace and draws me back to the TRUTH of who He is! He gently reminds me of who I am, and I'm overwhelmed that He'd spend the time demonstrating his love to me. His grace is amazing. His grace is sustaining! His grace is ENOUGH!

So, while there has been so much difficulty associated with preparing my testimony, I'm still sharing it here. Because, it's my story. And, any good in my story is a gift of grace from my God. And, I'm beyond grateful. The entire sermon (3rd of the GRACE series) was wonderful and definitely worth a listen. But, my testimony plays around 37 minutes.

Monday, September 9

REclaiming PEACE!

Whew! What a week.... I mean, REALLY! What. A. Week!

I've always kept a pretty busy schedule. My parents still recount my teenage years and how I packed the social schedule FULL of activity. I really DO like to be on the go.

As I've mentioned here just lately, being "on the go" has gotten out of control. So, we HAD to make some life changes that would allow us to be away less and home more. And, man!, have we felt the benefits of that decision. There have been countless affirmations that we DID make the right choice for our family. I can't even begin to list the ways God has shown us that we are doing what is best for us right now.

However, I've still allowed Satan to invade my affirmations with doubt. On numerous occasions, I've allowed guilt and comparison to cause me to question. And, in essence, I've LET my peace be stolen.

First of all, WHY? And, secondly, does anyone else struggle with this?

Here's the problem. This past week, TOT started fully for me. The first couple of weeks are JUST CRAZY. There's no way around it. I can plan and plan. BUT... the first week involves many factors that I don't have control over prior to beginning. For THIS VERY REASON, I began school with my children 2 weeks before regular school. So, we've been ahead for the most part.

On top of that, on days that we weren't able to cover something that I'd planned, we pulled school back out later in the day and finished. Or, we did extra work on lighter TOT days so that we could take some time off of school when I needed to focus on TOT. All of this is WHY we made the decision to teach the kids at home. I work on a flexible schedule! And, we wanted them to also be on a flexible schedule (when necessary!).

I'm rambling, but do you see what I'm saying? All things worked out last week the way that we'd foreseen they would! We made it through my first week of work joyfully with all school work done and not too worn out. However, I still let myself compare/question/worry about whether or not our methods were o.k. And, it's alright to do that every once in a while. We need to check ourselves occasionally to make sure we are on the right track. But, once there's been affirmation, I believe it's just sinful to linger there in doubt and allow those doubts to steal peace.

I repented of that this morning. Both of our boys played tournaments in Tupelo all weekend. We were in the hot sun Friday night, Saturday (most of the day), and Sunday afternoon. By the time we got home last night at 7:00, we were ALL beat! ZAPPED! We had NOTHING left. So, when I woke up this morning to spend a little time alone, I was SO very grateful that we weren't going to have to wake our sleeping children and rush through another day. Caleb and Collin slept in a little. And, Claire slept till 9:30! We started school a little late, 1 thing got bumped till tomorrow while everything else was completed a little later than normal, BUT we finished. And, it seems that Claire STILL wasn't rested, because she has melted down a number of times, and I finally sent her to her room. It got awfully quiet QUICKLY, so I went to check.
Confirmation again... They get to SLEEP when they need to SLEEP! O.K. now, I KNOW that I have readers who don't homeschool. Again, this is NOT a blog post designed to urge everyone to leave traditional school and homeschool. My question for myself this morning and my question now for you is, where have you let Satan steal your JOY, your PEACE, your COMFORT in knowing that you are right in the middle of God's plan for you?

I'm convinced that he has more power to do that in areas where we've stepped out and followed the Lord's lead.... especially if those areas LOOK a little different than the norm. At least that's been the case for me this week.

So, I really wanted to update today with all of our fun lessons, stories of our school time together, maybe even some pictures of school life here at home or my little workers on the road with TOT. But, I felt led, instead, to share this terrible habit of comparing and questioning myself with you. I pray, I study, I beg God for direction, He gives it to me, I step out in faith to follow, then I don't even enjoy the blessings of obedience because I'm second guessing mySELF at every turn.

This week, I WILL look for the joy in God's plan. I WILL REST in knowing that He's got this all figured out and will show me what I need to know WHEN I need to know it. And, I will refuse to give Satan even the smallest victory over my emotions and thought life.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5