Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rest for the Weary

"If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit." ~ Banksy

A good friend of mine shared this quote with me today and I love it because it captures my current season so perfectly.  Tired - check.  Ready to quit - check (okay, only some days).  Resting - ch...hold up, what??

When the twins came home from the hospital and our family ballooned from four to six life changed pretty dramatically.  It was my honor and privilege to serve them around the clock.  Seriously.   I slept on the couch right next to them in their bassinets, their little bodies hooked up to machines to alert us of any breathing irregularities.  I got two three-hour sleep cycles every 24-hours and it was enough even though it wasn't.  Want to know why?  Because I knew that I couldn't do it on my own.  I fell asleep praying and woke up praying, I gave God my weariness and crabbiness and my not-enough-ness and just rested in Him.  

Then the twins started sleeping through the night and I started sleeping, too. Somehow, this was supposed to be the magic formula for me to start living in my own strength.  I loved them with all of my heart and I could handle life serving them.  It was just dishes and laundry and homework and shuffling kids around - easy stuff.  I could handle it. Round the clock, I could handle it.  I was up with the kids at sun up and folding laundry until the middle of the night some nights.  And again the next day/night.  And the next.  Because I loved them.  Because I could handle it.

Friends, can I tell you a secret? I can't handle it.  You probably already knew that.  

Can I tell you an even bigger secret? The things I do I didn't do with love in my heart anymore.  I was empty, just a shell.  I forgot how to laugh and how to play.  It was as if every need my family had was over-drafting the bank account of my soul, which was completely depleted.  Even though I was surrounded by people who loved me, a beautiful home and all of the luxuries of suburban living, I was living in poverty.  It turns out there is more to me than this physical body that just needs food, water and sleep.  Well huh.

I remember sitting on my patio chugging cold coffee (coffee that unintentionally got cold, not iced coffee.  There's a difference.) I was trying to muster up the strength to break up one more argument with the kids when I just stopped.  I couldn't do it.  Not even with the kick in the gut from cold coffee (Oh, I drink coffee now.  Having twins will do that to you.) I just stopped and left.  

DON'T FREAK OUT.  Yes, I left, but I just went to the YMCA down the street.  I hadn't been there in years, it was my safe place in college.  But it was different now.  The layout was different and the machines were different (I suppose that can happen over the course of 15 years.)  I couldn't figure out how to work the TV on my machine and the only alternative was to stare at a brick wall while I ran away from my life as fast as the machine would allow me to move.  (The irony that I was running towards a brick wall is not lost on me.)  So I stared at the brick wall and listened to a podcast to escape my Great Escape.

Spoiler alert: God moment!

The podcast next in my queue was about Sabbath rest.  Oh. Come. On!!! Yeah, it was one of the ten commandments and all, but I was responsible for four small children, there was no such thing as a full day off every week no matter how holy of reasons.  But Sabbath rest doesn't mean I don't care for my family; it is a time where stop our work, enjoy rest, practice delight and contemplate God.   It is deliberate time with God and it can be a part of every day.

God didn't say I have to get to the bottom of my to-do list before I can rest if there happens to be time left.  My husband didn't.  My kids certainly didn't.  I did.  I enslaved myself.  So once a week or once a day I can post a "No Trespassing" sign on my mental to-do list and just sit with God and enjoy His presence.

Fast forward to another morning on the patio with the cold coffee in hand and kids nearby.  This time I'm sitting with Him and enjoying the rest with Him, practicing delight in His creation that is all around me, and contemplating His goodness.  It seemed so fast, and to come out of nowhere and everywhere all at the same time...

I was not loving my family.  Not really.  Not the way love was intended.  It was obligation masked as love.

I'm going to give you a minute to read that again.  Obligation masked as love.  Obligation is slavery.  Slavery is death, spiritually speaking.  By relying on my own strength and answering to a to-do list that no one created for me other than myself I was dying.  And believe me, I felt it in my soul.

So now what? Love.  Genuine love.  Love is light and love is life-giving.  Our Heavenly Father is the only true source and He gives it to us abundantly, all we have to do is ask.

This has changed my world. I mean it. I've been made new.

I can love and really love my family, but I can't do it in my own strength.  When I feel that choking feeling, it is a sure sign that I've slipped back onto the obligation treadmill.  It means I need to take a moment and rest in Him.  It may even mean (gasp) asking someone else for help so I can take a minute.  He is always faithful in overflowing my heart when I ask Him earnestly.

I feel so blessed to have received this message from Him, and even more so, to share it with you.  Are you resting? I mean really sinking a "No Trespassing" sign in the ground and resting in Him?  Are you loving your people or are you dutifully doing your piece out of obligation masked as love at the expense of your soul?  Trust Him with this.  He is faithful to you and He will give you what you need.

Genesis 2:2-3 The VOICE

So now you see how the Creator swept into being the spangled heavens, the earth, and all their hosts in six days.  On the seventh day - with the canvas of the cosmos completed - God paused from His labor and rested. Thus God blessed day seven and made it special - an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work He had done in creation that day.

Matthew 11:28-30 The VOICE

Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Put My yoke upon your shoulders - it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves.  Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.  When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  They kingdom come.  They will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I'm a WRITER!!!

Galatians 1:15-16 The Voice

But God - who set me apart even before birth and called me by His grace - chose, to His great delight to reveal His Son in me so that I could tell His story among the outsider nations.  

One of the most miraculous things about watching my kids grow up is the way their faces light up with they make a new discovery.  Their eyes get wide, their mouth drops open as they gasp fresh air into their little lungs and they immediately want to share the wonder and excitement and joy with those of us huddled around them.

Their discovery could be magnetic trains or puzzles or riding a bike.  As the parent we know they are capable of unpacking it; we put them in situations where the opportunity is right in front of them, we watch as they pick it up, turn it over in their little hands, hold it up to the light or put it in their mouths.  Some days that's all that happens.  Actually a lot of days.  The time they spend not fully interacting with whatever is in front of them just makes it that much sweeter of a moment when the gears click into place and the discovery is made.

A favorite book at our house right now is Drawing Lessons from a Bear by David McPhail. In this book there is a bear who is first and foremost a bear but also an artist.  As a young cub he became quite interested in art, and as he grew he unwrapped his talents while never losing sight that he was a bear.  It's a good story to teach kids that somethings we're born with but they don't define us anymore than what we create.  At the end it encourages kids to proclaim "I'M AN ARTIST!"

You're probably wondering where I'm going with all of this.  I have a point, I promise.  This year I took a break from writing to focus on important things like being a Mama Bear.  I love that I'm a Mama Bear, I really do and I've been blessed with five cubs - one in heaven and four with me this side of heaven.  But the more time I spent away from writing I discovered that I'm not just a Mama Bear like I thought; there is more to me.  But what could it be?

I picked it up.  I put it down.  I picked it up. I put it down.  I picked it and turned it over and held it up to the Light and with wide-eyes and wonder I made a new discovery...

Friends, I'M A WRITER!  It's a part of me and who God created me to be; I can't fully be who I'm supposed to be if I continue to let it go unacknowledged and unopened.  So it is with wide eyes and and a gasp that I unwrap this offering and sincerely pray that He may be glorified by this new discovery.  

My former blog, Tiny Little Blessings, was created to journal my way through Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome and I thank each and every one of you who joined me and prayed alongside me during that time.  The twins are absolute miracles and a gift from God...but there is also more to our story than TTTS.  Like how we are a typical family in desperate need of love and forgiveness...and GRACE.  Specifically God's grace.

Grace is God's abundant love He freely gives to us precisely when we don't deserve it, and I don't know about you, but there are many days where I feel like a little extra grace is required in my life.  A double dose even, so without further ado please let me welcome you to my new blog: A Double Dose of Grace.