The War of Obedience

 

I am sitting in New Hampshire about to speak at 1 of 5 women's conferences over the next 6-7 weeks. And, Sunday, we launch Essence Place. Pray for me. I am crazy. Others probably think I am crazy. But, God. Because I am deeply confident that this is where He has me even if it has thrown me worlds away from my little box of comfort. Even if I don't have a lot of confidence in myself to keep up - I have confidence in Him. I have learned to not put God in a box.

I keep having these moments where my breath catches, I close my eyes - giving a slight shake of my head, I realize the graciousness of God. 

My salvation has been worked out in new and hard ways this last year or so. 

Is it worth it? I have asked this question over and over again. 

When my parents died many years ago, I went through something similar. The heartbreaking question of - is this for real? This faith, this belief of mine. And if it is, is it worth the yes that I keep saying over and over. At that time, God came in like the most gentle and tender surgeon. Removing and cutting away these parts inside that contributed to a lack of overall spiritual health. I was forced into a storm of loss that proved to be the redemption of my soul. 

It changed me forever, those years of sorrow. The old cliche - what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger rang true as I said yes to God, and no to giving up. Here I am some years later, and the yes that He is asking for is not faith and trust in the midst of unexpected loss and tragedy. I was not forced into this season of yes.

I chose this. On my own accord, on my volition. He asked and I said yes. As much as I want to blame someone - my husband (no offense, Brad), friends, mentors, my faith...in reality I blame God and I blame myself. But I blamed God more.

You asked, and you knew my level of willingness to surrender. And you asked for the hard, the painful. You asked for the uncomfortable. You asked for sacrifice.

Yes, He did. And I said yes. 

My obedience in this season has not always been trusted or faith-filled obedience. There has been resentment. I have wrestled and fought - surrendering over and over as I question over and over. Is.it.worth.it?

The gentleness and tenderness of this surgeon has given way to a gracious precision that is targeting new places - places that need to desperately be cut away. And as much as I want to jump out and scream in distrust - sign myself out and run. His eyes still shine with the same tender love. A love of like a father. A father who deeply desires the best for His child. A father who desires that His child be filled with a greater capacity for love. A wider capacity for caring and serving others. 

In His love He disciplines. 

There are places inside of me that are so selfish. Places that wreak of my stubborn desires to have things my way. Unsurrendered parts of my soul that still are driven to perform - a drive to measure up and gain approval of not just the world around me-but gain the approval of my Father. Even though He insists grace and unmerited favor.

Obedience is so much more than a yes. And faith and trust is much more than “doing” the right thing. Our obedience and purpose lived out is most fruitful when it flows from a grace-filled willing heart. A willingness to lean into what God is doing through your life as His child, I believe, represents true obedience.

It’s all part of the journey, though. 2017 was a year of wrestling. Pushing, pulling, and finally settling. I had to. It was necessary for my journey. The pain, the wrestling, and even the anger are all parts of my story in this season that under the redemptive hand of my God are just beautiful. 

I am not ashamed. I don’t have regrets. Through all of the mess, through all of my frustrations, doubts, and questions - I am sitting a little closer to my Father. Confidence rises up within me as I experience for another time, His compassion and grace. His willingness to go with me to that broken place. 

I am walking out of that season of wrestling now, leaning into what God is doing. I am fully engaged in heart-willing obedience assured that He is with me. And I am reminded again - this why we allow ourselves to be vulnerable before God. This is why we open our heart to Him even when we might fear He will turn away. This is why reach into the pain, and we deal with it. Because waiting on the other side is redemption, and it’s another level of living and following wholehearted after my faithful God. 

Is it worth it? Yes. Emphatically yes.

Ps. Don't judge my mismatched socks.

IMG_9669.JPG

Home

I just need a moment. This is happening. It's early morning and today a chapter closes in our lives as we move from one house to another. Saying goodbye is never an easy thing even when saying goodbye means welcoming good new things.

This house, this home. It has been my safe place for almost 6 years. Now I know to many people that may not seem like a lot. However, prior to moving here-we had moved 8 times in 8 years. And the home I moved from 8 years ago was a new home just purchased by my parents two years before that. I have lived in this house the longest I have lived anywhere since in high school. Suffice it to say it's a long time to me, and now I'm saying goodbye.

Life and death has marked these walls. Shortly after we moved in, we brought my mom who was battling stage 4 cancer here to live with us for awhile. We didn't know we were bringing her here to care for her in her last months of life. We finished part of the basement and turned our garage into a bedroom. The care and love shown to us by family and friends was God given. They swept in and in one week had remodeled our home to warmly and comfortably accommodate my mom. She lived 6 months with us, and then we had to say goodbye.

There were months and even a few years where I was desperate to move away, because every where my eyes fell would trigger a flashback full of pain.

That wasn't an option, and so I fought. And the home turned from a place of pain to a place of healing. It's walls were safe to me when my world was so dark and constantly shifting-I needed something firm to grab onto.

We brought Paxton home to this house about 6 weeks after my mom passed. The pain shifted a bit when new life was brought in. In my depression and grief, I stopped running from the home and embraced it as the one place I could be fully safe in every way.

By the time we brought Havyn home, painful memories were easing and I was beginning my journey of healing.

Since then there has been much laughter and life. Memories of babies crawling, taking their first steps, first days of school, birthday party extravaganzas with wonderful friends who are like family fill the corners of my mind. Dance parties and good night songs and prayers remind me of life in the midst of this ever changing dark world. Precious and sweet moments with my husband as we shared sorrow and dreams, and the ever favorite crashing at the end of the night to veg on Netflix.

Of course, in the midst of all that was a million moments of failure as parents and spouses. And, yet, God restores and redeems.

God gave grace in abundance, and this home moved from death to life. I moved from defeat to victory. My family was birthed and formed, and we saw redemption.

My temperament is one that seeks the familiar, the known. I feed off of my environment. It unnerves me to move away from this familiar, safe place that brings such comfort. Yet, I know it's time. For every season...and the time is now. This moment. God is with us and He is giving us grace. I will be ok, my babies will be ok. In fact, I am confident we will be better than ok. Not because there won't be hardship in this next home, because such is life. Simply because we are walking in His path for our lives, and in Him there is joy and life. No place I would rather be.

In fact, when we said yes to starting a church - I joked and said I would live in my van if necessary. I just wanted to follow Christ, holding nothing back. I joked, but my heart truly said anywhere, any price. I was prepared for anything. And, yet, God in his graciousness went beyond our expectations and placed a sweet little home just for us in West Hartford. It's more than I could have expected or really asked for considering this next season of ministry. But God gave us a gift.

My heart is grieving. I have no idea what we are walking into. I am not even sure how it is going to work together, where provision will always come from other than God will provide it. I don't even know that the people living where we are going want us there or will welcome us into their lives. I am walking out of familiar and safe, and diving into a sea of unknown and uncertainty. My kids are saying goodbye to everything they know. It is hard. It will be hard. And, in some ways, it seems we are crazy. And if we are, we are crazy for Christ.

But it is good and it is right. So that all may know the grace and greatness of our God.

2 Corinthians 5:13-18

13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.[a] Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.[b] 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

Following Christ is a bit crazy, sometimes scary and it sometimes even brings pain. Yet, it is full of life and adventure-and most of all joy.

I press on, I endure. I hope in Christ. And I walk in gratefulness for the kind provision of my Heavenly Father.