Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I serve a small God.

Wait!  Don't burn me at the stake just yet....

I have been wrestling through a study on the book of Hosea and it has been both painfully and gloriously enlightening.

One of the shocking self discoveries I have uncovered is this: It is so much easier for me to believe in a Big God, than a small one.

Not sure what I mean?

I'm down with the Big God.  You know, the God that parts seas, demolishes whole towns/armies/people; the God that can create an army out of skeletons, that can send a variety of rather horrible plagues; the God that sends bread from heaven just to feed his favorite children; who can both strike the living dead, and raise the dead to life; the God who can both shut a lion's mouth, and open the belly of a whale; a God who literally stood in the fire with 3 of his followers.

This is a BIG GOD.  Surely this is a God that is worthy of worship, am I right?  

This is a God that inspires awe, and maybe a little bit of fear?

At the end of the day, you want to be on this God's team, because surely this Big God can handle whatever your meager problems are, right?

The God that is harder for me to wrap my mind around is the God of small things.  The God that whispers quiet words of encouragement in my ear; the God that knows the hairs on my head; the God that knit me together in the womb; the God who knows all of my deepest, darkest, scary places, but still pursues me anyway.

Sometimes it seems like two different Gods.

When I am faced with an insurmountable task, I want the Big God.

When the world is too big, and I am too small, I think I'll take the Small One.

Are you ready for a little secret?  It may not come as too much of a surprise, but YOU DON'T HAVE TO CHOOSE.  He is a constant presence, both Big and Small, all you have to do is ask for Him.  Whether you are screaming for Him to rescue you, or whispering for Him to dry your tears, He is there.

Rest in that, dear friends.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top 10 things I love about my hubby.

Hello, readers.  As I'm sure most of you do not know, yesterday was my hubby's birthday.  What better excuse is there besides a birthday to lavish someone with love and kind words, am I right?

Drumroll, please.

10.  He is an all or nothing kind of guy.
If you know JP at all, you know he gets passionate about a few select things.  But these few select things he is REALLY in to.  For instance, anything related to the Arkansas Razorbacks.  If you have a less than favorable opinion, please keep to yourself, unless you want a quick avenue to hubby's bad side.  Likewise, if you have a positive opinion, please share, because you will quickly become one of his favorite people.

9.  His patience.
I have met very few people who are more patient than my hubby.  He is slow to anger, quick to forgive.  It will be great for our kiddos, as they grow up, but it's also really great for me.  I mess up sometimes, if you didn't know.

8.  His IT-minded-ness.
Despite the fact that I hate technology, my husband is a techie-guru-of sorts.  One of the things I hate most about technology is the fact that it is so undependable.  But with a techie in the house, things do not stay broken for long.  He can either magically fix it with his Jedi skills, or use his secret insider knowledge to get it to someone who can.

7.  He does not know a stranger.
I joke that this man could talk to a brick wall, but it's not that much of a stretch.  Many people who did not know me pre-hubby mistakenly think that I am an extrovert.  Not so.  I am a hopeless introvert who just pretends really well.  JP has brought out my inner people person, and I can now function much better socially....kind of.

6.  He encourages my potential.
My hubby is not someone who expects a spotless house and perfectly home cooked meals every night.  He encourages me to pursue my career, my intellect.

5.  He is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
He is honestly so great at helping out around the house.  He frequently helps with sweeping and vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, helping with laundry, in addition to his man chores of taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn.

4.  His sense of humor.
This is truly one of my very favorite things about him.  He will randomly pop into a conversation with the most random and hilarious one-liners that keep you constantly guessing.  Laughter truly is the best medicine.

3.  He is so hands on with Henry.
Part of the deal with my working every other weekend, is that hubby has to take care of Henry in the evenings.  All by himself.  I know a lot of men that would freak out if left to their own devices with a child, but JP loves having that one-on-one time with Henry.

2.  His love for Henry.
People say you never know how much you love your husband until you see them loving your child.  I can personally attest to this fact.  It continually amazes me that somehow, despite our extraordinary differences, and despite our flaws, God used us to create such a beautiful child.  Loving the entirety of your child means loving your spouse, because your child is half of them.

1.  His love for me.
JP is such a steady source of love for me, that never asks me to be anything other than myself.  There is nothing so attractive as someone who knows all of your crap, and loves you anyway.

There you have it, folks.  I bet now you wish you were married to him.  Well, too bad, because he is MINE.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Top 10 things I do not have all together.

To continue my Tuesday top is a list of some of the things in my life that I do not have altogether.  Lest you be confused, let me remind you that today is Wednesday.  Which is appropriate.  Put days of the week on the list of things I don't have together.

1.  My house.
Yikes!  If you have ever been over to my home, just know that probably 5 minutes before you walked through the door, I was frantically sweeping up ALL OF THE DOG HAIR.  It's amazing.  I could literally sweep my floor every day and somehow come up with enough dog hair to clothe an entire person.  So I just don't.  I let the dust bunnies/piles of dog hair accumulate in corners and on the rug and hopelessly try to keep my son from eating them.

2.  My closet (aka my bedroom floor).
This is probably the one thing that drives my husband crazy, but like the patient husband he is, he rarely says anything about it.  If I'm looking for my favorite new top/skirt/pants, etc., chances are, it's on the floor.  Or draped haphazardly over my dresser.  Oops.

3.  My garden.
I fantasize about a perfectly manicured lawn, lovely, fragrant blooms in our flowerbeds, and a garden of home grown herbs.  This just does not happen.  Our back yard is doomed due to two large sized dogs who insist on running the same paths over and over and over.  Everything else requires a lot of work and attention that frankly, sits at the bottom of my to-do list.  We get notices from our Homeowner's Association frequently, asking us to weed our beds.  I keep talking about ripping everything out and planting some fool proof, Houston-worthy, low maintenance plants, but life happens, and this does not.

4.  Mother's Day Out.
Every time I walk through those doors, I am met with a gallery of women who have it all together.  Or at least look like they do.  Matching lunch pails and backpacks that are monogrammed, perfectly groomed children, and all in either pristine work-wear complete with heels, or some fancy, matching Nike workout clothes that miraculously have no sweat on them.  Henry and I are lucky to be there on time.  And by on time, I mean 5 minutes late.

5.  My mind.
I'm gonna come right out and blame the pregnancy for this one.  I admit, I thought pregnancy brain was possibly one of the biggest hoaxes to ever be believed by the human race.  Until I got pregnant.  I am still looking for my mind, so if anyone finds it, let me know.

6. My sleep.
This fabulous little article came out recently that says that women need more sleep than men.  Boo-yah!  I knew it.  Now, I feel only slightly less guilty that my husband gets up approximately 1.5-2 hours earlier than me.

7.  Motherhood.
If you ever think you've got this motherhood thing down pat, just wait for the other shoe to drop.  Babies, infants, toddlers, children...they are a constant surprise.  Mostly good things.  But teething...honestly, I could do without that.

8.  My books.
Laugh all you want, but this is a big one.  Normally, I am simultaneously reading two books: one fiction, and one non fiction.  As of now, I think I am 1/4-1/2 of the way through like 5 books.  It makes it very confusing to keep the plots straight.

9.  My cooking.
Let me be clear: I do not love cooking.  I enjoy it when I can do it MY WAY.  As in, go to the grocery store with a list that has been double and triple checked.  Pick up only the things that we need, and not forget anything.  Come home to a clean and empty fridge and organize it my way.  Then proceed to cook everything on my menu without anything spoiling.  THIS NEVER HAPPENS.  My husband and I are the worst about making a last minute decision to eat our favorite take out/fast food while perfectly good food sits in the fridge.  Oops.

10.  My health.
I have been sick more this year than any year I can remember.  Maybe it's Henry, who brings home all kinds of germs from church, school, etc.  Maybe it's increased exposure working in the emergency room.  Maybe it's working nights and getting less sleep than I used to.  This really should be #1, because it's the thing I desperately need to get under control.

Despite the fact that my life is a mess, and likely always will be, God is still able to use me in His story.  In fact, I think the messier my life is, the more glory He gets.  Be encouraged that you do not have to have your life all together for God to use you.  If you are feeling a tugging on your heart, just say "Yes!"  Don't wait for your life to come together, because it never will.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Was I afraid?

Confession: I actually wrote this post a couple of months ago right after I got back from Guatemala.  At the time, I thought people might be getting overloaded with Guatemala stories, so I decided to wait to post this....and then life happened and I forgot to ever publish it.  Little did I know that this would be a recurring theme for me that I could walk through again and cling to the faithfulness God showed me in this time.

The biggest question I get asked when people ask about my trip to Guatemala is "Was I afraid?"

It comes in different forms, like...

"Were you afraid to leave your son?"

"Are you afraid to travel to a third world country?"

"Are you afraid of getting sick/catching a disease/contracting malaria....?"

My answer: A big, resounding "YES!"

Let me remind you that I had already been to Guatemala twice before I returned this summer.  Twice.  And I have absolutely no memory of being afraid.  Granted, I was 16 and 17 when I traveled the first two times, so perhaps I was still in those teenage years where I was blissfully unaware of danger and my worst nightmare was that I wouldn't get asked to prom or would wake up with a zit.  Those that know me can probably attest to the fact that I was never really one of those kids that just didn't worry, but I digress.

Before traveling back to Guatemala this year, I was plagued by absolutely crippling, paralyzing, heart-squeezing, hope-crushing FEAR.

I think this fear stemmed from two things:

1.  I legitimately like my life.  I have a wonderful, supportive husband, a beautiful, healthy son, a fulfilling career that I happen to love, and a comfortable living.  This comfortable living that was so hard for me to leave is something I wrestled a lot with once I was in Guatemala...but that's a completely different post.

2.  I'm a Mommy.  While the world sees me as just another somebody, to my little guy, I am his only Mommy.  I was terrified that he would miss me too much, but also that he wouldn't miss me at all.  I dreaded the thought of leaving him behind, but I also dreaded the thought of spending the next few years of my life hiding behind my kids.  I was absolutely panicked at the thought of leaving him without a Mommy, but I also panicked at the thought of being a Mommy who is physically present, but spiritually empty.

I finally came to this conclusion, and it's a tough one.

I was having a conversation with my husband about being afraid, and he point-blank asked me, "What are you afraid of?"

I allowed myself to say the words that had absolutely robbed me of any joy and excitement for Guatemala: "What if I die?"

So we walked through the practical aspects.  I'm serious, y'all.  If you don't have kids, maybe you'll think this is morbid, but we legitimately talked about the financial and legal aspects of what would happen if I died.  I wrote down my physical address while in Guatemala, and we talked through the process of reporting me as a missing person if I just never came back.  We talked through my husband's role as a single father to Henry.  We talked through remarriage.

But we ended on this.  JP said, "Imagine the legacy you would leave for Henry if you died on the mission field."  Out of everything else we talked about, this is what brought me comfort.  As a parent, what better example can I leave for Henry than to give my life for Jesus?

Now, obviously, I did not lose my life.  I'm home, safe and sound.

But as we take the beginning steps towards a brand new, big, scary, exciting journey, I again find myself battling fear and insecurity.  And I rest in the fact that God has brought me through that valley of despair, and that He will not fail to do so again.  I take comfort in the fact that my answer to the toughest of questions a Christian will ever face: "Would you give your life for this?" is YES.

Some people, like the Christians dying in the middle East or missionaries on the front lines in hostile environments, are asked to give their lives all at once.  For most of us, we are asked to give our lives away a piece at a time.

If you had asked me what my life would look like 5 years ago, and especially 10 years ago...this life is not what I would have answered.  My spiritual journey and the small sacrifices I have already made have led me to this place, and I can honestly say, I wouldn't have it any other way.  For every sacrifice God asks you to make, He has something infinitely better for you in store.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it."  Matthew 16:25

I hope you find this encouraging and I hope more than anything that you would find the courage to step out in faith to a bigger, scarier life, found in the hope of Jesus.