In a Thorntonville Wedding

Where I See God
Journal #27: In a Thorntonville Wedding

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh,’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.”  -Mark 10:7-8

We woke to the smell of coffee and the hush of groomsmen sleeping on our sofas, extra beds and an air-mattress.  My husband showered quickly sneeking out the garage door to pick-up Chic-Fil-A.  After taking turns to shower the groom and groomsmen made jokes about how the bridesmaids were probably eating a breakfast casserole while they were enjoying their tray of Chicken-Minis.

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The morning was calm but filled with laughter as the guys plotted funny schemes to potentially pull off during the wedding.  Dressed in navy they loaded cars and headed to the church, right before we figured out our son was wearing his dad’s suit coat instead of his own.  Quickly we dressed to go make the exchange hoping we’d get there before he attended his “first-look” in a jacket that was a little too large for him.

Arriving at the church we couldn’t help but get a little emotional.  The bride’s family had decorated the church and reception area beautifully.  Every detail was personal. We made the jacket exchange and then took time to walk around the reception area enjoying the photographs and personal touches.  Soon it was time to line up for the wedding.  My son pulled me aside to give me a handkerchief he’d had embroidered for me. Tears fell from my eyes as I hugged him.  The handkerchief was immediately put to use.

As he escorted me down the aisle, I couldn’t help but smile.  It was such a beautiful moment.  Twenty years of raising him, five years of him dating his bride, and eight months of planning brought us to this treasured moment.  “God,” I prayed, “thank you for each second of this man’s life.  The proud moments, the hard moments, the well moments, the sick moments.  Every second, I give you thanks.”

The groom took his place in front beside the pastor, as the groomsmen and bridesmaids entered one by one. A soloist sang, “For the Beauty of the Earth,” as an attitude of worship and thanksgiving filled the atmosphere.

Then the music for the bride’s processional began. Everyone turned to see the bride, but I couldn’t help but watch the groom.   He was so proud, so excited and so ready for this very moment.  This precious moment with family and friends.  My husband and I joyously watched as my son married his beautiful bride before God and congregation. My momma heart exploded with giddy happiness.

With “I do’s” said the ceremony was celebrated with congratulations, lots of hugs and cake with punch (and butter mints made by the bride’s grandmother. Yum!)  Simple as that, the wedding was done and a new marriage came to life welcoming a new Thornton to Thorntonville.

5 thorntons

 

 

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Guilt-free Service

Where I See God
Journal #26: Guilt-free Service

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

This morning I walked into a friend from church.  It’s been awhile since I’d seen her and I quite literally walked into her.  I was on my morning stroll around an area park while she was on her morning power walk coming from a perpendicular path, bumped into each other. We continued on together catching up on the part of life that has happened since we last saw one another.

She’s an amazing woman, filled with humility and God’s spirit.  She began to share about a ministry on her heart when… it happened.  Part of my heart yelled, “CAUTION: Guilt ahead!”

She spoke about our church’s involvement in a beautiful ministry that helps the homeless community in our area and their need for more volunteers.   Time and time again my husband and I have prayed about serving in this particular ministry, but have felt the Holy Spirit say, “There is somewhere else I need you to serve.” So we’ve served where we have been led, trying to help the ministry in other ways than time and service, like financially and giving of supplies. However, when this ministry is mentioned, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach followed with condemning thoughts of… “Kysia, you aren’t doing enough.  Why aren’t you helping with this ministry?  Don’t you like the homeless?  Are you being selfish?”

I recognize those are not thoughts from God.  I also know that anyone serving within the ministry mentioned, wouldn’t say or ask them.  So what is it about me and that ministry that is in such conflict?

I know the answer.  It seems like a ridiculous answer to me.  Yet, it is a common one.  Simply put, I feel guilty turning down service opportunities. This particular ministry I know needs a lot of help. Like baseballs in a pitching machine, I continually throw accusations back at myself tearing myself down because my energy is being used elsewhere.  I start to view the service I am already a part of as unworthy or at least, not as worthy to God.  A big fat lie.

Here is the deal.

  • We can all be part of ministry but we can’t all serve in the same area. There is too much ground to cover for that. We are members of the body called to different areas. Gifted in different ways. (1 Corinthians 12:5) There are vast opportunities in many areas of service.  Which is why it is so important to ask God, where He can use us most effectively.
  • As long as we are staying faithful to God, we are not going to disappoint Him. Serving God isn’t a pyramid sales opportunity where there are levels of power and worth. In fact, “there should be no division in the body [of Christ], but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:25) We are on the same team.  I’m even on that team when I’m not working in the ministry my church offers, but instead in a different area of ministry.
  • If we are going to compare our service let’s keep in mind what Jesus said to Peter when he was trying to compare himself to John. “What is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22b) We are each to follow Jesus. Even when it looks different than what our brother is doing.
  • We are to encourage each other and build each other up as we do our work. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Even if someone else’s work looks different, we are to encourage onward nearer to God.

This afternoon a friend called in a bit of a panic.  She had broken a prop she was planning on using at an upcoming special event.  She wanted to know if I could help her fix it.

When she rushed in the door she said, “I don’t know what to do and I’m not good at fixing things.”  I said to her, “There are lots of things you do really well, let me do what I do well.” Taking the large pieces of pottery, I was able to reassemble them and glue them back together so the piece could still be used for the event.

As she left to get to her next destination, I thought about what had just happened.  Two people – one gifted in selecting beautiful items for staging events and one person who was good at fixing broken pieces working together to get something done.  That’s the way ministry works. Different gifts, different callings working together to advance the kingdom of God.

There is no guilt in service, only work. As, I parted from my friend after our morning walk, I stopped to pray for her.  I also prayed for the homeless ministry for more people to volunteer.  Then I let that “caution: guilt ahead” go.  God’s given me a job and that is where I need to focus.

Gift of a Prayer

Where I See God
Journal #25: Gift of a Prayer

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” Acts 4:32a

My meeting with the rehearsal dinner location, hadn’t gone so smoothly.  It was the first time during this wedding planning season, I had really felt nervous about the plans I’d made for the special dinner.  Then my contact with the restaurant stopped returning my calls.  My nerves amped up even more.  Wedding guests of family and friends were already invited to this particular location. I felt frustrated and nervous.

After I’d shared my fears with my future daughter-in-law, she handled me exactly the way I needed to be handled.  She offered to pray for me right in that moment.

I walked away from that conversation with a lot more than calmed nerves over a rehearsal dinner.  God gave me several other reassurances.

  1. My son’s fiancé knew where to take her problems.
  2. She wasn’t afraid to ask God boldly.
  3. God allowed me to see this amazing young woman take action with her faith. Her gift to me of prayer not only helped me breathe and surrender the moment, it also gave me a glimpse of the foundation my son’s marriage is about to be built upon.
  4. God showed me how He had been faithful to answer my prayers about my son’s future wife being someone who would love and serve Him.
  5. Since God had answered that prayer, He wasn’t about to “not answer” a prayer for strength and help through a stressful situation.

I walked away encouraged.

Today, I had another meeting with the restaurant.  It went smoothly.  Everything was back on track for the upcoming dinner.

Gratitude replaced fear.

Even though the mishap caused some stress, I’m am very thankful for the opportunity to receive such a blessing from my son’s fiancé.

A prayer answered, a blessing received.

Connection

Where I See God
Journal #24: Connection

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”  Psalm 119:45

With the school year schedule off, I’ve had plenty of time to process thoughts.  Summer has created a much needed slower pace for our family.  Dinners have been later, as evening meetings are minimal; family activities have increased with game nights, movie nights, and just sit around the table to talk nights.

However, there is one area I don’t want to slow down.  My time with God.  While I totally enjoy the extra time with my family, I’ve noticed that I’m not very peaceful when I leave God out.  Spending God time has to be a priority in my life. It is through this time with God I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

A number of faith pieces have come together in my life puzzle this summer. Pieces like a new understanding of trust, plus being able to see how God goes before me to prepare routes each day.  I’m experiencing peace like I have never experienced before.  More now than ever I’m seeking obedience with my Heavenly Father.  It’s refreshing.  Deep breaths are coming more naturally.  Joy is growing fruit deep within.

Truthfully, I’m not desiring to go back to the way things were when school starts back.  Curiosity of “Is this peace possible during the school year?” brings hope of living differently.

For that to be a reality though, I know there are things I’m going to have to give up.  This doesn’t mean becoming lazy, like some summer days imply; instead it will require truly evaluating everything I take on by asking God for discernment. Outside of my work what activities are most beneficial in serving God, my family, and my community?   Where am I needed, most effective, and joyful? Through listening, waiting and searching for God’s answers a unique connection is being formed.

I’m seeing God in connection. Connection flowing through work and living spaces. Connection in God’s word, in prayer, in relationships with friends and family, as well as in moments of slowing down to seek Him. Fast paced living may be necessary from time to time, but connection doesn’t thrive in that pace.  Nor does freedom. Nor does joy.

That’s the largest piece of my puzzle.  Finding out that as my connection with God increases, my freedom does, too. As does my joy.

Through My Doctor’s Example

Where I See God
Journal #23: Through My Doctor’s Example

“Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.” Psalm 17:7

A week ago Tuesday my daughter turned in her first college application. The following Wednesday we ran around trying to get transcripts and shot records together to complete the process.  By that afternoon, I started feeling a little off.

Honestly, I thought my nerves had gotten the better of me. (My baby is applying to colleges.) That is until…

4:00 p.m.

I started throwing-up violently.  This lasted until midnight.

The next day the pain had shifted and my loving husband put me in the car for a ride to the doctor.

I felt rotten.

The doctor said it could be a bacterial infection, but he really believed it was an appendicitis.

My doctor is an amazing guy who truly cares about his patients.  He knew exactly the steps it was going to take to get me into surgery as quickly as possible. He started the process, before we even had the confirmation of a CT scan of what was going on.  From each step, as I rocked back and forth trying to minimize the pain, my doctor stayed ahead of the course.  By that same afternoon I was wheeled into surgery at our local hospital.  My doctor understood the timing.  My husband and I trusted him fully.

Recently my pastor preached a sermon on what it meant to trust in God.  She used a definition I had heard described for the word “abide”, but when she applied it to the word “trust”, my world forever changed.  “To lean into as hard as you can.”  To trust God is to lean into Him; to know he is going to stand firm despite my weight, pressure, fears and anything else. He will keep my feet from slipping.

After surgery, when I was feeling much better, I thought about how much I trusted my doctor.  I was in so much pain, I gave up all resistance and just let him do his job.  I also thought about how often I don’t do that with God.  I fight against him, or refuse to wait until his timing comes.  I wondered if I just leaned into him, if things would be so much easier trusting that he has taken care of everything.  This is definitely something I want to work on.

Right now, I’m super thankful for my doctor and the example he set for me.   …And, of course,  how much better I feel!

Heart Preparation

Where I See God
Journal #21: Heart Preparations

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23 NIV

My son’s wedding preparations have taught me a lot.

I wish I meant in preparing decorations, gifts, and rehearsal dinners, (like lasts weeks post of seeing God in the details.) That just isn’t the case this week. This week I really noticed how God has been pulling me out of darkness in the not-so-pretty areas of my heart while preparing for my son’s wedding. I had no clue how many of my insecurities would surface during this process.

Confession:
Emotion and bondage issues have triggered some needy areas out of my soul. Something as beautiful as a wedding has truly brought out the worst in me.   I’ve struggled with envy and jealousy these last few months from those who are more creative than I am. (I’m aware this is petty.) I’ve also been anxiety ridden over what other people think. These issues have nothing to do with the wedding itself or my son and his lovely bride-to-be. They have to do with me and have taunted my every move robbing my joy (and often the joy of those around me.)

It all boils down to this. God called me to be accountable for the places in my heart I refused to examine. The places I left in the dark for no one else to find. The places I put other’s opinions over His.   The areas I bowed down to my craving the need for acceptance of others. The dark places that scream for praise for myself instead of praise for God.

God is so faithful though. When I asked for forgiveness – He forgave.

When I prayed, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23 NIV). – He searched and helped me find the areas I needed to confess. He then placed people in my life to encourage me in the areas that needed growth.

God even helped me find something I wasn’t even aware was there. The root of why I kept running to the bitterness of envy and anxieties of needing people’s acceptance. The root was a lie I chose to believe early on in the engagement.  Satan whispered it in my ear when my mamma heart was feeling not quite ready to release my son. To see him as the adult he is.

“You will be forgotten. You are no longer needed. The days of motherhood are almost over.”

I bought the lie setting my course to prove I wouldn’t be forgotten. Problematic since the course took me on a path to being remembered in ways I don’t want to be remembered by. Ugly ways of irrational behavior. A struggle for attention ensued.

And here is where God stepped in once more…

God gave me the verse, Exodus 14: 13-14 to pray. “Do not be afraid, Kysia. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Amen.”

I stood still and chose to trust God. He remembered me. Now, He’s still delivering me from some of my people pleasing struggles, but much progress has been made.

It’s been really nice to focus on the happy couple instead of “needing to make sure I’m not forgotten,” too.

God has even given me joy through the process – usually after I’ve been called out, disciplined back into place, and shed a few tears. Joy has still shown up though.

Through joy God has shown me the beauty of truth over the ugly lie. The truth is if I keep trusting God and asking Him to search me, I can be confident that “he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) I am not forgotten. I am remembered and a work in progress.

 

In the Details

Where I See God
Journal #21: In the Details

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 NIV

My son’s wedding is two months away. I find myself lost in a bunch of tiny details. Attempted etiquette on rehearsal dinner invitations, what dress to wear, flowers and candles for the tables or just flowers. The list goes on.

I’ve been working on one project that has proven quite therapeutic for me. I love working with my hands, so I’ve been designing a collage of picture frames with childhood photos of the bride and groom for the rehearsal dinner. I found most of the frames at a second hand shop and am spray painting them to the colors of the wedding (thankfully, gold is one of the colors!)

Reminiscing though the photos has brought back memories of so many moments I had forgotten about motherhood. Wet with sweat little boy hugs, his love for playing outside, and him dressed as Buzz Lightyear for his three year old Halloween, to name a few. Memories that highlighted details from our family life here at Thorntonville. I’ve cried and laughed and cried again remembering this amazing journey God has allowed me to have with my son.

Details. God is in every detail. He was in the creation of my son as a baby, as a boy and now as a man. God was also with me as a clueless new mom of one, a not as clueless mom of two and has guided me through adolescence into their early adulthood years.

It is an amazing ride I am on. The good, the bad, the clueless and the not so clueless moments add together detail after detail to create this incredible journey. Life.