Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grace so Illusive...

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I started this blog (almost two years ago now; can you believe it?); about the hole it was supposed to fill for me.
And I'm wondering if it succeeded? Not really, because (or "BUT;" I'm not sure which is more accurate) I stopped writing.  I can't really say exactly why; I could come up with several reasons excuses.

One big one? I've been going through one of those seasons of life where I just continually ask myself, "Who Am I?"  And the silence that follows that question...
the answers that never come...they make the question almost echo in my head.

I was brought up in a Christian home.  I saw my parents live a Christian life everyday, not just on Sundays.  I saw them love each other, get angry at each other, kiss and hug each other, yell at each other, and one year - almost leave each other. While I knew the Biblical outline for a Christian home, it was many years later that I realized, ours didn't really fit it.  My Dad was a great provider; in fact he worked so many hours and often multiple jobs to provide for us, that he wasn't there much.  Mom was in charge! Bless her heart, she was in charge of everything! Us kids all day, the home, the laundry, the groceries, the meals, the finances, etc.  I can remember when I was little, we would drive to Daddy's work on Fridays so Mama could pick up his check and go deposit it at the bank before any of the bills cleared (no direct deposit back then). I think maybe she had already written some of the checks, hoping (and maybe praying) that she'd beat them to the bank.

It wasn't until I was married that I realized Mama and Daddy's marriage and family life couldn't be my marriage and family life.  Don't get me wrong! Out of all the examples out there, they set a pretty good one! What I mean is, Daddy was never the leader of our family. He was the firm hand that no one wanted a spanking from! He was the bread winner; he was the grass-cutter and the car-washer, and the one who threw us in the air as babies.

But as my own journey has lead me to research how to be a Godly wife, I struggle to know, really know, a Godly husband.  I certainly don't mean this as a criticism to my father or my husband. It is, however, very true that girls tend to pick spouses like their Dads.  While my hubby isn't always content to let me lead, he is gone from here about 60 hours a week.  It's up to me to get the kids to and from, to make the meals and do the shopping, to set up boundaries and enforce them.

My desire to be a woman of God, a woman of Grace, has actually birthed my recent struggles.   I want to be the best wife and mother I can possibly be.  I remind myself daily to "consider it all Joy" (James 1:2) and to do everything I do to the glory of God rather than man (or myself).  As the kids get older, I feel more and more like I am having to sacrifice myself to accommodate them.

So before you write me off as another selfish Mom, hear me out.

I don't mind sacrificing for my kids.  What I feel lately, is that I am not just sacrificing my time, my attention, my money for them; but actually sacrificing myself.  ME! The person that I was before I was someones wife and someones mother.  My interests? There just isn't time for them anymore.  We're too busy and something has to go.  Guess what it is? Something of mine; something that brings me joy; most recently, singing in the church choir because the practices were taking me out of the house another night.

And try as I might, I cannot help but be resentful.  Many days I want to scream out, "what about me?"
"When do I get a break?" "This is NOT what I signed up for!"

Knowing full well that this is sinful and of the flesh, definitely not of the Spirit.

On one hand, I can (and should be) proud of who I am today.  Despite my many short-comings, I have learned to control my tongue much better than I used to. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34 My heart did overflow, often; it was ugly! So I have learned to tame that part of my inherent nature.

One thing I am still struggling with is giving up control and completely trusting God. I say I want to be a woman of God. I ask Him to reveal His plan for me.  But when it comes down to it, will I accept it? Will I say "Yes, Lord" without a question? Will I give up something else I feel is essential to "ME?"

So that is my struggle: feeling happy and satisfied to self when everything is going my way.  Feeling guilty and rebellious in the Spirit, if I am honest, most of the time.

Trying to reconcile those two things is the greatest paradox of my life.

Stick with me as I search for grace, truth, and the answer to the big questions: Who am I? and Who does God want me be?

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Why I voted the way I did (the short story)...

I know I  have been very absent here.  No excuses! Any of you who have full lives with husbands, kids, jobs, etc. already understand.  I do promise to try harder and hopefully I have some readers left :-)

I have been struggling with all things "political"for at least 6 months now, and it wasn't just the presidential race. My state had a vote on a marriage amendment a few months back and unfortunately, I lost some friends over that one (not by my choice).  I've written and re-written many a blog post in my head but never quite put it to paper. Today, I am changing that and asking for God's guidance as I say what is on my heart albeit with the fear of offending those with opposing views.  I do realize that particular accomplishment may be an impossibility, but I will try just the same.

In regard to the recent election, I am mourning.  Disappointed doesn't even begin to cover my feelings on the subject and I hope to show you why.

I've heard a lot to the tune of "can't we all just get along" recently.  I think it's great that many are speaking out for peace and "working across the aisles." As someone from the "losing party" though, here is how I feel. It struck me most recently in the phrase: "God Bless America."

And He has blessed America; hopefully blessings will continue in the future.  Many people choose to blame God for every natural disaster, death or disappointment in their lives, while the simple fact is this: God hasn't forgotten America, America has forgotten God. The same people who willingly say "God Bless America" are often those rallying to remove God from the pledge of allegiance.  They are the ones shouting "Separation of Church and State" anytime they are uncomfortable with prayer or scripture reading in a "public place" or by a public entity.  By the way, that is a gross misinterpretation of what Thomas Jefferson intended when he coined the phrase.  BUT that's a post for another time.

Despite the arguments that exist out there, my research tells me that this country WAS founded on the God of Christianity but also on the freedom to worship (or not worship) that God as we choose.  And without a religion or set of beliefs being forced on us by our government as it is in some countries.

As a Christian, I cannot elect and therefore support a candidate/platform that does not have God's law (the ultimate law) at the root of their beliefs and governing nature.  I do agree with you that the election is over and it's time to move past that.  I also believe what the Bible says about government: as long as they aren't asking or requiring me to do something that violates God's laws, I am to obey them.  Support them even; pray for guidance for their leadership and their families.

While that feels difficult at this point, it is still my intention.  There is no need for ugliness and name-calling.  But whether you identify most with liberal groups or conservative groups, the rules should be the same for all.  I realize conservatives have been responsible for some of the ugliness, but not all of us.  It is especially disheartening, frustrating, and even maddening to me that the very liberals who say they want coexistence, tolerance, and equality, are the ones screaming obscenities and words like ignorant (the nice ones) or even stupid (or worse) at those who feel otherwise.

You know being Christian and/or Conservative does not mean we don't want to also love others and be tolerant; the exact opposite as a matter of fact.  Here’s what appears to be a point of dissent: being silent about something that violates God’s law is an approval of that sin.  That doesn’t mean screaming and Bible beating should ensue; the Bible says to reach out and correct in love, a concept most of us understand but have difficulty executing.  This verse comes to mind here: Galatians 6:1 "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted."

So to give some examples, adultery is a sin; homosexuality is a sin; lying is a sin.  To God, sin is sin, and none of us is blameless.  If I, however, ignore a sin and say nothing of it, I am essentially an accomplice.  I am voicing my approval by saying nothing. It doesn't mean i hate the person committing the sin; this is where the saying, "Love the sinner, Hate the sin" originated I think.

As a Christian, I don't claim to be perfect.  I am imperfect in every way; sometimes judgemental or hypocritical though I don't intend to be.  Sometimes self-righteous though my desire is to be anything but! I simply desire to live my life as best I can according to God's plan, knowing that my rewards will be in Heaven.  Who wouldn't want that for ALL their friends and family? 

Sometimes expressing that desire in the right way for the other person is the hardest part.