Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Not the Courage - It's the Faith!

Recently I was in a store with Daniel, and a perfectly sweet stranger started complimenting his red hair and precious personality. A minute or two into the baby ogling, he asked for Daniel's name and then followed it with another question regarding the name's origin possibly deriving from the Bible. I shared that it was, as well as his older brother's name, Caleb. He stated that they were strong biblical names to which I concurred and added that both of those Biblical namesakes were courageous. He then gently corrected me and stated that it wasn't courage, but FAITH! In looking at the lives of both Old Testament heroes, Caleb and Daniel, he couldn't be more accurate.

I thought about our conversation for the remainder of the day and started to pull more and more out of this Kairos moment. Throughout the Bible we find hero after hero... all sinners who allowed God to come into their life and use them in a mighty way. So many character traits that I would love to attain as well as share with my children can easily be seen in their lives - courage, patience, perseverance, and the list can go on and on. However, I realized that these traits that often characterize these heroes, as well as ourselves, are a result of faith... understanding that we in ourselves cannot attain the level of character, such a courage. It's in the faith of a perfect, loving God and His amazing power.

This weekend Pastor Greg was used to confirm what the Lord was personally speaking to me in his continuing series on the Life of David. As he spoke the infamous story of David killing Goliath, he said so many things that hit home. But one specific thought that relates to this was when he asked, "When was Goliath really killed? Was it when David cut off his head? No. How about when this seven foot giant hit the ground? Nope, not then either. How about when the stone hit between his eyes? I don't think so." He shared, "I truly believe Goliath was a dead man walking the minute when David took that first step of faith."

I do pray that my children have courage as their namesakes so easily display, but even more so, I pray that they are granted a measure of faith that is seen in the lives of these heroes that does not only result in courage, but so much more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oh, How He Loves Me

Mark has been officially deployed with the Air Force for a full week now. In the days leading up to his departure, my heart was beginning to ache, but all I kept thinking and saying was, "I can handle this!" and I meant it in every sense of every word. The biggest problem was with that first word - "I." I know better than that...
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5
Of course I am brought back to John 15 as the Lord seems to be showing me His Truth and His love through this passage consistently lately. And so the Lord showed me that I can handle this, but only through Him.
The past three days have been crazy in our household... my usually good baby boy has been extremely high maintenance and demanding, and my eldest, usually characterized by being a helper, has been a challenge as well. Yesterday morning I was greeted by three hours of whining, throwing, and even mealtime issues. I could see it was going to be another extremely long day. I escaped to the restroom for a moment of solitude. I knew I just needed a verse - any verse... it didn't even need to relate to my situation. I just wanted something to meditate on throughout the day that would take my mind off the utter chaos. I grabbed a book we had in that room and opened it up randomly and the scripture before was one handpicked by the Lord for me...

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
Psalm 23:1-3
Ahhhh, the thought of lying down in a green pasture with quiet waters beside me drew a mental picture of a lush meadow or tropical escape, and I couldn't wait for the Lord to take me there. Then a thought of panic (I think I think too much - hee hee) rushed through my mind as I wondered how the Lord would "make" me achieve this as I am not one to sit and rest... a broken leg? an accident? Nope, I was not going to hang onto those thoughts. So walked back into the utter chaos, refusing to vent my status on Facebook, and just mediating on this picturesque scene with my Shepherd.
Later in the day I received an email from two of the sweetest and most generous friends of mine and Mark's, Julie and Jonah Jabbour. The email informed me that I had a gift certificate to a local spa awaiting me. I sat there reading this email completely speechless and overwhelmed. I was amazed! ...not only at the gift certificate to the spa, or the thoughtfulness and generosity of these sweet, sweet friends, but it was so much more than that. This gift was truly sent from the Lord! (Thank you Jonah and Julie for listening to His voice and being used of Him!)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
The Lord brought the scripture He had just given me that morning to my mind, and I could instantly see His Truth and promise for me fulfilled. I burst into tears feeling so loved by my Heavenly Father. I sat there thinking that although He truly has the whole world in His hands, there were starving children in Africa that were in need (as my Grandma always reminded me as a child), but here I was and God was giving me a want. Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Why? Why would be bestow this upon me? and then I heard his still small voice...
because I love you!
The God of the universe heard my cry and answered with an "I love you!" - just for me. He saw my chaos and my strength, and wanted me to abide in HIM for the strength I really needed. He wrapped me in His strong arms and showed me love.
The chaos of the day continued, and I am sure it will over the next few months while Mark is gone. I am thankful for this reminder that I need to abide and be in complete surrender to my Jesus - His strength and His grace. And I am even more thankful for His reminder of how much He truly loves me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Abundant Life

My Mother's Day got off to a rough start... Daniel woke up extra early, then Caleb came home from his first weekend visit dressed like a gangster... and acting similar to one as well. I could see the day may be a long one.

Before Caleb left and knowing the typical bad choices of his biological father, I had a heart to heart conversation with Caleb that went something like this...
Me: Buddy, what did the doctor just say you had?
Caleb: Strep Throat
Me: So, because of this you are going to need extra rest. Is playing hockey and skateboarding a form of rest? And should you be staying up super late?
Caleb: No
Me: Well, why do we need rest?
Caleb: So our body can heal and grow?Me: Yes, Buddy! But who says so? Who says we need rest? Does Mommy just make this up?
Caleb: I don't know
Me: God says it in His Word. He even rested and tells us we need rest. So, what do you think you are going to need lots of this weekend?
Caleb: Rest!
Me: Great! I don't want you to come home Sunday morning and say how tired you are... I want you to be rested and feeling better!
So, what are some of the first words out of his mouth before a "Happy Mother's Day?" - "I'm so tired!" The tiredness continued throughout the day... I had one cranky boy on my hands who was doing everything in his power to stay awake.

The day continued with some craziness. As we all got in the car to head to church, it would not start. We tried jumping it, and it didn't work. We then called Honda service and tried several other antics to no avail. My parents picked us up so we could at least enjoy our planned Mother's Day downtown, which was so nice. Just as the day started to turn around after a lovely lunch and walked in the park, we headed home sweet home where the drama began again. I asked Caleb if we could sit down and figure out his birthday plans and wishes for the week. I was sure to include some time with biological father in there, but Caleb was quickly frustrated and upset on how it was all working out. The next thing I know he was hysterical crying, "I can't do this! I can't do this! I don't want to do this anymore!" We then explained that this is all new and will take some time to get used of, but he has a decade left before he's 18 which threw him into even more hysterics. We finally settled him down and eventually got him off to bed. It was quite the adventure!

A few hours after that, I myself crawled into bed and found myself crying the same thing as my heart was break for my boy and his heart and all the weekend had held for him. My cry went to the Lord with tears streaming down my cheeks, "I can't do this! I can't do this Lord! I can't spend the next ten years doing this!" It was actually refreshing to find myself in a spot of full surrender and admittance that I had no strength to endure this.

I knew right then I was in the best place possible - the place where HIS perfect strength could take over in my weakness, a place where HIS grace was more than sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), a place where I could rest and abide and find HIM alone as my source (John 15:5).

I felt a calm over me and though to myself, "Oh, good! I can just rest and survive the next ten years." That was when I heard His voice, His quiet sweet voice that He spoke right to me, "Christie, I didn't come to die that you may survive, but that you may live... life abundant!" and instantly the following scripture ran through my mind, heart, and soul:
"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
John 10:10b

With the knowledge that my plans for the next day were changing by the minute as my car was scheduled to be towed first thing, I have no clue what the next ten years may hold. What I do know it that God intends for me to have life abundant - life to the full! My Mother's Day may have had a rough start, but it ended with my boys sweetly tucked in bed, my amazing husband curled up next to me, a wonderful house, pantry stocked, the love of friends and family, and a gentle whisper reminding me of the powerful Words of God that my life would be abundant!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! all the Mom's who selflessly and unconditional love their kiddos and do what's best for them even when it's hard! all the Grandma's who keep on loving and leaving a legacy all the Aunts who invest in their nieces and nephew all those women who want to be Moms and are hurting today... my thoughts, prayers, and tears are with you. all those women, young and old, who make a difference influencing the next generation


Saturday, May 7, 2011


When I was a little girl I was literally wrapped up in prayer. My sweet and godly Mom was a total "Prayer Warrior," but that's not exactly what I am speaking of. I am referring to a throw blanket that my Mom's friend Susan had given to her. It was peach and green (go 80's!), and had the "Serenity Prayer" inscribed on it. As I would snuggle down into it, I would often read it but didn't ponder its words until now.

Recently, the Lord has not only brought this prayer to my attention, but challenged my heart to truly believe that God can meet my needs in this area. Last night was Caleb's first overnight, unsupervised visitation with his biological father in over a year and half. Just the day before the visit, we were in the doctor's office, and he was diagnosed with strep throat (again), which has been a constant struggle for him over the past year. For this Mom, that would mean lots of rest, healthy food, and an overload of some good ole' TLC as he enjoyed his twice a day dose of Rx for the next ten days. But instead, I found myself the very next day, standing at my front door and watching him pull away for someone else to care for him.

Fast forward through some good details and a chunk of what turned into a crazy day for me, and you will find me crawling into bed around 11:20 pm. Just as I turned to Mark to mention that I thought it would be good to keep my phone volume on all night (I usually turn it off before I head to dreamland), it rang... and Caleb's name was on my caller ID. Within a millisecond various thoughts raced through my mind... I didn't know whether to be excited that my son was thinking of me and calling, or to panic as it was approaching midnight and it didn't make sense that my "baby" was still awake, especially since just hours before we were informed of the strep. Thankfully, he was just calling to say hello. He told me about his day and their current plans to head back to his father's home (which happens to be in one of the worst parts of North Charleston) and stay up to watch at least half of a PG-13 rated movie.

Here I was, on the other end of the phone wanting to tuck him in and give him the rest he needed, but I couldn't. I wanted to protect all those senses from a very inappropriate movie, but I couldn't. I just wanted everything to be the way I imagined way back when I started my family, and here I was sharing my son. Thanks to God's Word and all the prayers of friends, I felt such peace about Caleb's protection for this whole weekend. I wasn't quite worried about him, but instead felt that incredible peace that passes understanding. However, my heart was another story... I wanted to give Caleb what was best for him, but I couldn't. I had to "accept the things I could not change."

Throughout life, we will consistently face situations that we cannot change... whether they be the traffic you find yourself sitting in, a loved one dying of cancer, or the sharing of your baby. The amazing thing God is present during all of this. We can choose to fight against our situation, or accept it by His grace. Yes, His all sufficient grace - available at all times, enough for us at all times. I am sure in the future I will be faced with many more of these situations and many others that I cannot change as well. The question is - will I surrender to Him and His will and trust Him completely? Only by His grace!

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
--Reinhold Niebuhr

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cell Phones and Hearts

Recently I sat down with Caleb and shared with him my first cell phone experience - I was 17 years old and wanted a cell phone; my parents reminded me that I was working and could get one myself. So I did! After a year of large payments, my contract was finally up, and I decided that I was done with a cell phone. A week later my car broke down on my drive home from work and in the dark of the night I had to walk the rest of the way home. The cool thing is that I survived!
Upon the completion of my story (and pointing some of the lessons of the story out to him), I informed Caleb that we were on our way to get him a cell phone. Despite the fact that I would have never thought that getting my almost 8 year old a cell phone was a good idea, with my current divorced situation, we have decided it is best. We gave Caleb the cell phone with lots of rules and guidelines that we felt appropriate, but also a good amount of freedom. Years ago I read the book Parenting with Love and Logic, and it is truly paying off. After making a few of his first calls with a glow on his face, Caleb started to make "plans" with what he would do next with his phone. He suddenly expressed that he wanted to call his friends Tony and Elayne (names changed to protect some innocence- hee hee). At this point I was extremely thankful that I didn't need to wait for a burning bush to hear from God because I needed some wisdom quick - my baby boy who was only in 2nd grade was wanting to call a girl!?!?! I somehow calmly responded and shared with Caleb that a girl's heart is given by God to her parents, specifically to her Daddy, for protection. I also shared that one-on-one talking would definitely access a girl's heart. So if he was interested in talking with a girl on the phone he would have to ask her parents, specifically her Dad, for permission to do so. He responded with an "Oh Wow! Mom, I'll have to think about that!"
I felt relieved and thought (key word: thought) I was in the clear. Well, at the end of that week, we happened to have a sleepover with Tony, and the next morning both of his parents and his sister, Elayne, came to pick him up. Caleb asked Tony's Mom for her number so he could talk with Tony. After giving it to him, she said, "Caleb, I will have to give you Elayne's too." At that point Caleb turned to me and just stared as to see what I would say. I then explained that Caleb would have to ask Elayne's Dad permission for that before he could have the number. At that point Elayne's Dad exclaimed, "Oh Caleb, go ahead and ask me buddy... no problem!" I thought for sure this would ruin everything - he had a green light from the Dad. But it was amazing - Caleb turned to him and respectfully said, "I'm not ready to ask that." At that point we decided that if he wasn't ready to ask then he certainly wasn't ready to talk to a girl on the phone.
For all my children, I hope for relationships that brings together two hearts - whole hearts... unbroken, accessed, or defiled... pure!