Jan 28, 2010

I Need A Favor. . .

Okay, it seems that my old feed provider (the thing that sends you an automatic email with my post in it) just isn't cutting it on my end; I have absolutely no way to manage the account. So, I have switched to a new one, but I need to make sure all of you are on the new provider as well. Here's where you come in. If the email you receive from me is a black and white copy with the entire devotional included and the SUBJECT line is always "Walls Down" then you're who I need to talk to. Could you please go to the bottom of this email and unsubscribe? THEN (don't forget this step!) return to my blogsite at www.wallsdown.blogspot.com and resubscribe with the new feed provider? It's relatively the same process...typing your email address into a little white box. You will have to answer a few questions, but it's very simple and takes only a minute or two. Thank you so much!!

If your email is blue and brown, topped with the Walls Down header, and has a subject line that is the name of the weekly post, then you don't have to do anything! You're already on the new provider. Hurrah!

Please let me know if you have any questions. I so appreciate you helping me out here. Have a great weekend!

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Jan 27, 2010

A 151 Heart

Happy Thursday! You're almost done with your work week! Woohoo!!

Thank you all for your kind words and concerns about Cooper. He is doing much better this week. However, I wasn't until a few days ago. Those of you who have children--have you ever noticed that? Your child has an issue that brings him to shoulder-heaving sobs, but he has moved on by mid-afternoon while you're left in a downward spiraling whirlpool of worry and discouragement? Not fair, I say. NOT FAIR! However, I'd rather me be left dealing with it than him. I don't have to like it, though.

I tend to do that. . .wallow. Anyone else? Do I have any Pity Party attenders out there? What is up with that, anyway? Why is it so difficult to take God at His word and rest in His promises of provision and security? What is it about us that must constantly turn a molehill into a mountain? To take a problem, dissect it like an 8th grade lab frog and lament over the complexities of sewing it back together? Why do we do this?

As I was ruminating over Cooper's hypothetical school issues, God was already at work safeguarding his heart. Sunday morning at about 3 a.m. Coop woke up wailing that scared "Mommy!" scream all moms hate to hear. As I slouched onto his bed, he reported that he had a bad dream. I think he was stuck in a barrel (stupid Super Mario Brothers Wii game). I reassured him, prayed over him, and after he begged Satan to return to Jesus, he drifted off to a sweet slumber. I thought. He woke me again to tell me he just had a good dream. Awesome! Though reassured, I wasn't thrilled about being jostled awake for happy news. If I get woken up at 3:30 a.m. someone better be in imminent danger--real or imagined. We thanked God for better dreams and quickly fell asleep. Then. . .he had the nerve to rouse me a 3rd time. As I was preparing a speech in my head detailing the benefits of sleep, he announced that in this dream he was a spy peering into Heaven. Suddenly, it didn't matter that it was 4:00 in the morning.

"Mommy, I was a spy and I was looking into Heaven and Satan and Jesus were fighting. Satan was saying, 'I'm giving Cooper bad dreams!' and Jesus was saying, 'I'm giving Cooper good dreams!' Then I typed in my spy thing (fingers typing air guitar style) and I said, 'I want to see Jesus close up.' Then it zoomed into His heart and I saw power! There was power in His heart. It said 151 and 151!"

By the way, Cooper's idea of a huge amount is 151, so the fact that Jesus had that total squared is a big deal. I am convinced that Jesus spoke to Cooper through that dream that night, telling him that the Almighty is with him all the time, fighting for his little self. But, honestly, I think it did more to encourage me than it did Coop. In all of my imagined fears, God was saying, "Misti, chill out. I've got him." I should have been immediately ripped out of my emotional funk, but I'm stubborn. Hey. . .keep your "amens" to yourself.

Yesterday, as I, still emotionally weary, was putting Coop to bed he revealed during our nightly talking time that something had "hurt him on the inside a little" today at school. I'm thinking, "Guh. . .I don't know how much more my emotions can handle. Leave my little boy alone!" It seems another little girl--what is it with these girls?--laughed at Coop because his favorite color is red, a color that she had decided was a girls' color. She actually pointed at him and laughed. Really? I mean, who does that? So, I asked Cooper how he responded.

"I just said in my head, That wasn't very nice. But it's okay because Jesus loves me!" He stated that he felt much better after that.

*sigh* I love You so much, Jesus. Thank you that he seems to be getting it even while I have no idea what I'm doing in this parenting thing.

And I don't. I think I have an aspect of it figured out and then Coop comes home with something that blows my theory out of the water. I can't seem to figure it out, or even stop worrying about figuring it out. But I'm learning that I don't have to have it all figured out. My comfort zone is in having everything tidily wrapped up with a neat little bow...If I can make sense of it, I can live with it. But to my disillusionment, God doesn't work that way. He is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment kind of God. And sometimes, He makes absolutely no sense.

Earlier this week Coop and I read about Abram in Genesis. . .how God just told him to leave his home and "go to the land [God] will show him." God didn't say, "Now, Abram, here's the plan. You're going to head towards Shechem. When you get there, build and altar and then head out to Bethel. You will eventually end up in Canaan. . .oh, nevermind. Let me draw you a map." No, He said, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. And do you know what Abram did? He went! I'm curious as to whether he was wondering what the heck God was up to. Did it make any kind of sense to Abram at all? It doesn't seem to matter because he obeyed. Can you imagine that conversation?

Abram: Alright, Sarai, Lot. . .pack up. We're heading out.
Sarai: Uh, where?
Abram: I don't know.
Sarai: Excuse me?
Abram: I don't know. . .I'm just doin' what I'm told.

I wish I were more like Abram, just doing what I'm told. But so often I find myself questioning God. Why? Where? Well, how long will it take? Who will be there? Is it gonna hurt? Can I take Lou with me?
And, unfortunately, something I have figured out (yey!) is that all my questioning isn't just an intelligent, inquisitive mind at work (boo!). It is unbelief. Period.

I question because I don't trust God's promise that He will take care of me (Ps. 23). I don't trust that I'm going to be okay because God is with me wherever I go (Jos. 1:9). I say I believe Him with my mouth, but so often my actions betray me.

Unbelief. Yuck.

Today, like the demon-possessed boy's father in the gospels, I'm asking for God to help me overcome my unbelief. No more worrying. No more fretting. No more having to have everything figured out so I can have peace to move on. No more. I must start finding peace in God's love and care, not my ability to make sense of it all.

Cooper is right--Jesus does have a heart full of power and it's about time I start trusting it.

Jesus, I confess my unbelief today. I'm sorry that I so often try to figure it all out. That's not the adventurous life you've called me to. Help me and my friends here to trust You moment-by-moment, even if we don't know what's around the corner. Empower us to be comfortable simply knowing that You do. Thank You, Jesus, for being trustworthy. We love you, Amen.

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Jan 23, 2010

Thank You. . .

I just wanted to send you all a quick thank you for the loads of encouragement you have given me these last two weeks. In this quest to follow Christ with this writing thing and to conquer my self-doubt in the midst of it, your words have been invaluable. I am so humbled that God would condescend to use someone as broken and sinful as myself to speak any kind of truth into your lives, and I am grateful you would even listen. Thank you for your love, your trust and your faithfulness. I will strive to be worthy of that trust. I love you. . .

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Jan 20, 2010

God in the Mess

I'm heavy-hearted today. I just sent my little kindergartener off to school in tears because he didn't want to go. "They make fun of me, Mommy." He's referring to a little girl who looked at one of his drawings and told him, "You're not even an artist" and a couple of older boys he's convinced were laughing at him one day. These instances seem small to us adults, but to my soft-hearted sweetie, they deliver a powerful blow to his sensitive soul.

My husband and I are very intentional about filling Cooper's heart with love, affirmation, and encouragement in an effort to give him a sense of confidence and security. But after his reactions to these classmates, I find myself wondering if it is enough. I think my hope was that at his first peer insult Coop would be able to react with something like, "Whatever. I know I'm great and that God loves me. I don't need your approval." Expecting too much from a 5-yr-old?

I've been reminded afresh this morning that the world we live in is not all rainbows and butterflies. Yes, I already knew that, but some days Satan's plans slap me squarely in the face. I know that just as much as God has a plan to prosper Cooper and give him abundant, full life, Satan has a plan to completely annihilate him. As we were discussing this very thing in our family time this week (isn't it funny how God sets us up for our next trial), Coop and I illustrated it like this:

Let me explain this a little since evidently I'm not an artist either. In the bottom center is Cooper--with his cool, new hairdo--a road on either side of him. Every day he has a choice of which one he will take. The path to the left is Satan's journey for him (hence, the fire at the end) and God's is on the right. If you'll look closely you'll see that Satan's way is a pretty straight shot with no visible obstacles. We pointed out that it looks easier sometimes, but there are traps hidden along the way. That blobby thing in the middle of the road with "trees" covering it is supposed to depict that. Don't judge my skills! The "right" road looks more arduous. . .mountains, boulders, etc., but it leads to a joyful peace with Christ (big, happy face). Sidenote: look at Jesus loving on the little ones in the bottom right. . .precious. That was Coop's idea; Momma was so proud. However, Satan also has children. I don't know what to think of that, but I'm just choosing not to overanalyze it. The best part of the drawing is Cooper choosing to draw himself on God's pathway and writing "yes" next to it. He chooses Christ. Thank you, Jesus.

But, as I saw this morning when my son tried to fake a stomachache to stay home, choosing to believe Christ in theory is much easier than actually doing it. Choosing to believe what God says about you and your relationship with Him is much simpler before you're actually called on to do it. But that's the sticking point in our faith, isn't it? Are we really going to believe God in a way that influences the way we think and live or are we going to play church? I know, I know. It's not easy, but did God call us to a life of comfort and ease or of adventure? Think about it. . .are you really content with an unchallenging, boring life? Something comes alive in us when we are called to the mat to stand up for Christ. If we can get out of our slimy pit of negative thinking and risk to believe God's promises for us, He will surprise us with His faithfulness and care. He longs to speak life and love to us, but when we're stuck in comfortable coasting somehow we can't hear Him as well.

As much as I hate to see Cooper have to deal with the arrows aimed at his heart, I have to trust that God is using them to woo him into a passionate, intimate, believing relationship with Himself. I like the way Brent Curtis says it in The Sacred Romance:

". . .every single thing in the lives of both nations and individuals is orchestrated with this sole objective that they might seek God." (taken from Acts 17:26-28)

Every SINGLE thing. If I can take a step back and look at life's pain from an eternal perspective, my world brightens a bit. Is it still tremendously difficult to send my sweet angel into a gladiatorial arena? Absolutely! But am I going to rescue him from the realities of the world and rob him of God's internal work in his life to assuage my pain? NO. I'm going to pray in the difficulties he faces, whether traps set by the enemy or obstacles sent by God, he chooses to think God's thoughts. My only choice is to daily surrender him (and the rest of my life) to the Keeper of Our Hearts and trust that He is good and able. Again, it's a choice.

Peace or despair.

I can't help what God chooses for him; I can only help my heart in the midst of it. Surrender. Trust. If I want to be sane, they are my only options. And yours, too. Whatever is bigger than life to you right now, can you risk to hand it over to God? Can you trust that He ordained it, is using it to romance you, and is right in the middle of it to equip and comfort you? Stop your swirling thoughts for a sec and ask God to take over. Then do your best to let Him. Though it's way easier said than done, if we can manage to pull it off, the peace we receive really does pass all understanding. Give it a shot. I mean, it's better than the alternative of fretting and heavyheartedness, right?

Father, like Cooper did on paper, I choose you. I put myself on the "right" road today and entrust my precious boy to You knowing that You know what You're doing. And I pray for Cooper and the rest of my friends here, that You would enable them to completely surrender their trials to You today and believe Your promises to them. Uphold them, encourage them, and strengthen them to withstand the challenges before them today. Show yourself mighty and faithful. Thank you for loving us enough to get dirty in our lives. We love you, amen.

Update: Cooper just informed me that the children by Satan are laughing at him. Okay. . .I feel better.

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Jan 11, 2010

To Boldly Go...

Happy New Year! Yes, I know it is the 11th, but as many of you know, I am perpetually running behind. So love me for who I am and accept my belated salutation with the warmth with which it is sent. Thank you.

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not normally the girl who sets life-changing resolutions this time of year. But for some reason, 2010 is different. Maybe it's because it's a new decade. Maybe it's because I've been on this self-evaluation and healing kick lately. OR . . . *insert light bulb above head here*. . . maybe it's because God has been kicking me in the pants regularly these last few weeks over the same issue.

"Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." Eph. 5:14b-16

I have been asleep. Hiding. Running from God's call on my life. I have let my self-doubt intimidate and paralyze me. And I am grieved by that. God has been clear that His call on my life is to teach and exhort His people, but the responsibility and "bigness" of that has scared me into a dark corner of isolation and insecurity. The question that has continually been a boulder in my path is, "Who do you think you are that you think you have any wisdom to share?" But, I will listen no more. How thankful I am that God's M.O. is to use weak, frail, "normal" people like me to glorify Himself. Inconceivable but true.

So. . .that is why you have a blog today. If God is calling me to write in 2010, I will do it. My commitment to you is to have a weekly blog as long as God gives them to me. And I want you to hold me accountable. If I skip a week, call me out. I have a responsibility to glorify God with the gifts and talents He's given me. Don't let me get away with holing up in my house and ignoring His call. Your rebuke is welcome. But don't get crazy.

And since my M.O. is gettin' in yo' face, let me ask. . .What about you? Where in life have you been asleep? Sitting the bench? And what's keeping you there? Whatever it is, know that God is bigger than your particular obstacle. Either He's God or He's not. Either He's big enough to equip you with whatever you need to accomplish the task, or He's not. You must decide what you truly believe. Do you believe God's truth about you or Satan's lies?

Power or paralysis...the choice is yours.

God wants you to "make the most of every opportunity" that He has given you. He is asking that you no longer listen to the negativity that swims in your head. You are a child of the Most High God and you have His Spirit living in you. You have no reason to shy away from His calling. So this year, this decade, resolve with me to go boldly wherever God beckons knowing that He will equip, empower and sustain you.

Until next week. . .

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