Wrestling

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in all the earth.” Psalms 46:10

I’ve been struggling lately with God. At war in the fight between service and rest. Wondering if I even make a difference at all. Trying to figure out what is the point to some of the things I do. Back and forth. Wrestling.

What is it that God wants of me? I’ve heard He just wants me, but how does that fit into planet earth life. I wonder if Abraham ever asked these questions as he gazed into the night time stars thinking of the promise God made him. In Peter and John’s struggles to understand Christ, did they ever ponder such things?

Is my belief just about church life or am I impacting beyond the safety of brick and mortar cross?  Is church a place, people or just a symbol?  I am supposed to go out into the world right?

My insecurities cast doubt on my effectiveness at loving my neighbors. Knock, knock at the door, I’m exhausted and don’t want to answer. Will I have the strength to say “yes” to what they ask? Or the courage to say “no”?

All along, Christ calls to me to sit at His feet and choose what is better.

“What is better, God?” I ask.

When Jacob wrestled with God in the night was he able to see past his own selfishness and see God’s bigger picture?

Does it matter where I serve as long as I serve?

Why do I even worry about it if believing is all that counts?

All along I hear a whisper asking me to stop. To rest in Him. To trust.  I want to curl up next to Him like I do my husband at night and have him tell me, it is all going to work itself out.

Faith. Believing it will work itself out.

“Breathe, Kysia. Just breathe. I know you long for more, but be still for this moment,” is what I get.

Faith. Believing it will work itself out.

Will I limp, like Jacob when this fight is done or have a thorn like Paul’s?

“Maybe, Kysia. Just rest.”

God, Is it ever enough? This work that I do?

“No. But… I am.”

Friday Night

“And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.” Genesis 1:23

Friday night. The weekend. There is just something so refreshing about those words. The promise of schedules relaxing, the potential for rest and refreshment added with the excitement of weekend adventure.

My husband walked in the door from work with the smell of red beans and rice wafting through our house. The crock pot meal created the fast but hearty food option we needed for a small adventure out for the evening. Changing into weekend clothes, we ate our meal and climbed into the “Golden Chariot” – our gold colored 2005 Chevy Trailblazer to head over to our son’s college town. His band was playing in a local venue and we were so excited to hear and see him.

Pretty clouds of pink brushed across the setting sun as we drove westward. We were all tired from the busy week we had just wrapped up so the ride over was quiet, except for Drew Holcomb on the car stereo.

We arrived to a crowded parking lot, paid the cover charge and entered the crowded space. My son played in the opening band as back up and then a couple of bands later his band had a slot. It was loud and I showed my age by pulling out my earplugs to help soften the sound a bit. Guitars, drums and a bass created rhythms I felt, let alone heard.

We ran into other friends who had made the drive over and talked. We also visited with many of my son’s friends. Then it was his turn. Stepping up the mic, came a confident crowd pleasing sound. The audience took motion as the songs played out to them. I couldn’t see my son, so I moved places, then through the crowd there he was, guitar in hands, mouth to the mic. I’ve seen him perform most of his life, but this was different. He was in his element. It made my momma heart soar.

I’m not sure of all his lyrics, but I was completely sure of his sound because the crowd cheered and sang along. Friday nights never sounded so good.

My Birthday

“Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.” Philippians 2:18 NLT

my-birthday

This morning I woke to hearing my husband turn off the alarm then reset it for forty-five minutes later. As he climbed back into bed he kissed my cheek and said, “Happy Birthday, Beautiful,” before collapsing back onto his pillow.

Next thing I remember was the smell of cinnamon pecan pancakes and bacon. My daughter had heated the griddle and was preparing breakfast. Her hair in a bun, Ugandan beads around her neck, dressed in her simple black dress and sweater, she held a spatula as she faced the stove; she turned to look at me as I entered the kitchen. “Happy Birthday, Mom! Want some coffee?”

This morning I feel blessed.

Birthdays to me bring moments of reflection.  It’s been a great year, but I just want a moment to reflect on the last two weeks.

The last two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotion with our Ugandan friends in town from Jija to join in our church’s mission’s IMPACT Celebration. We’ve heard stories, shared stories, visited, and talked about future plans for their school. We’ve toured schools, discussed American programs and attended many church activities. The visit was a whirlwind of activity.

I fasted before their visit giving up sugar for forty days praying for God to heal me from social anxiety so I wouldn’t be nervous to host them in my home.  However, I was nervous. I stepped forward anyway taking a deep breath praying each morning God would deliver joy and peace.  He did.  It was a good visit and much was accomplished.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to them at the airport knowing they were going back to very difficult lives. Lives served daily helping the marginalized around the Jinja area. Teaching, feeding, serving, and loving. They work very hard to give the future generations of their country an opportunity for a better life.

This morning I feel blessed, but I also feel emotional.

I’ve faced a few realities in these two weeks.  Realities like: God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. God is challenging me to make a difference where I am. God is asking me to use my gifts for him. God is with me each step he is asking me to take.  Each step I need to take isn’t easy.

My social anxiety didn’t just vanish after my fast. I hoped it would. I was much calmer, though than I have ever been hosting. I felt the prayers from friends I had asked to pray for me. God definitely stretched me.  I made lots of mistakes as I served these last weeks, but I was able to let many go without worrying relentlessly. God taught me much through the process.

Yesterday morning I woke, ate breakfast with our friends, prayed for them; then my husband and I drove them to the airport. After an hour of luggage issues we said our goodbyes and watched them head through security. Later, my husband and I climbed in our car to head home discussing all that had happened over the last two weeks.

This morning as I woke to hearing my husband turn off the alarm, I thought about it being a new day – my birthday. I thought about the previous weeks filled with nerves and emotions, with challenges and victories, with attempts to help and failures. I knew this morning marked a new day, even a new year for me. I rejoiced for making it through the opportunities of the last.  As I reflect and move forward, I don’t want to forget this moment.  I want to remember my daughter making breakfast, the smell of pancakes and bacon.  I also don’t want to forget the struggles of my friends.  It is within the joys and trials I wrestle with God’s will for each moment.  This wrestle keeps me focused on my purpose to make a difference to others around me regardless of how small or how vast.

So… my birthday… a new year ahead.  My tummy is full with yummy pancakes and bacon, plus, my heart and mind are challenged.

An Evening with My Girl

“Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!”
Psalms 150:2

As we headed toward the Jennie Allen event at one of our local churches, my daughter and I were both worn down from the week we had just finished. Tired and a bit weary we parked and walked into the event I had been so eager to attend.

People were friendly. We found some seats, but missed the opportunity to sit with some of our good friends. The event was good, the music was fabulous and the gathering of 1200 women from our own community was incredible. We listened to the speakers, prayed for each other and those around us, plus, sang praise music.

When leaving we discussed the topics covered, how they related to us and how to implement them into our daily lives. Then came a moment of silence as we both reflected.

I asked my girl, what her favorite part of the evening was. Her answer surprised me. I had wanted to attend the event because the topic was so applicable to where I am at this point in my life. I also wanted to share a moment with my daughter. My girl had been a little unsure about what to expect, so when I asked her what her favorite part of the evening was I really expected her to say the speakers or how she loved listening to Ellie Holcomb (which she did!) However, her favorite part was when all 1200 women stood and sang, “How Great Thou Art.” She said, “Mom, I just thought about all the women in the room singing together and the words of the song. Then I thought about how happy that had to have made God.”

She teared up as she shared her thoughts with me. So did I. I knew in that moment she knew what true worship was. My momma heart swelled with thanksgiving to the God who created her. It was my biggest lesson of the evening and the most humbling. I attended the event focused on myself, while she went focused on God. I left still trying to figure things out. She left filled with the spirit.

“When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Joy and Peace

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”- Romans 15:13

“The plans have changed.”

The message was clear. He didn’t even have to say anything. My husband looked at me during dinner the other night surprised himself by the circumstances.

This was just a temporary type of change, not a life one, but I think I would handle both similarly.

My first thought was literally, “How does this affect our household and what’s the new plan?”

I remember in 2012 when our mission’s director shared that to be a missionary you needed to be “FAT”. Meaning, you need to be flexible, adaptable and teachable. While I have worked and prayed through all three trying to apply them to everyday life, there are times my need for order trumps the whole “FAT” concept, by screaming, “I need to know how, when, and where! Now!”

Unfortunately for me, the how’s, when’s and where’s aren’t always there. Sometimes God asks us to step (or jump) as an act of faith.

“Deep breath,” I told myself. “Order,” I thought. First, ask God for Holy Spirit intervention. I am not alone in this. Second, call for spiritual reinforcements by asking for prayer from those who are faithful to pray.

Thankfully, one friend was already ready with, “Kysia, I’m praying for you to have joy and peace as you serve in this opportunity.”

Joy and peace, huh? Ok. That sounds good. But… what about a plan?

Third, take another deep breath, pray some joy and peace as I serve and… step forward. Might as well step forward.

Because….

The new plan has already started.

I still don’t know the plan. Tonight, though, my husband wrapped his arms around my waist and whispered in my ear, “Life is an adventure. Thanks for traveling it with me.”

“We aren’t bored,” I said back to him planting a well-earned kiss.

“No,” he said. “We aren’t bored.”

Gracious God,
We long to serve you in our home, in our neighborhood, work and around the world. Please, give us joy and peace as we serve; believing and trusting in your plan as we go. May we be encouragers and hope givers as we go. In Jesus name, Amen.

Opinions and Advice

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 1Timothy 6:20 ESV

“Yum, Mom! This tastes just like strawberries with crème.” My daughter exclaimed at breakfast as she ate cut up strawberries with granola and honey yogurt.

I sipped my morning coffee thinking of a time in the past I actually felt guilty for fixing my kids’ breakfasts. I had friends that had bragged about their kids being ready for life because “they made their own lunch, breakfast, and did their own laundry.” I also read quite a few parenting blogs that confirmed the comments I had heard about not doing “too much” for your kids. Although, I do believe our children need to learn life skills and learn responsibility, (please, don’t misunderstand me), there are certain things, as a mom I just enjoy. Making breakfast and spending a little time with my family in the morning is one of the things I treasure. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoy it. Yet, for a season, I allowed myself to feel guilty because of statements made and random blog advice; thus, robbing my joy of something I find pleasure in.

I’ve had to do some soul searching. Why do I value other’s opinions so much? I’ve been writing other people’s words in my heart for far too long. Worrying needlessly that, “I’m wrong because I think differently.” That is a lie I’ve chosen to believe. One that needs truth to replace it. My need to follow others is standing in front of God, so it is time to eliminate that lie with the Sword of Truth, scripture.

There has been a lot of ‘joy robbing’ and “lie infusing” lately in our country as the fight  between political parties to pursue our hearts and beliefs for their allegiance wages on. I’ve been hesitant to say anything on what I believe for fear of being a target to opinion bashing. So this morning while having some Jesus time, I came across this verse “Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge.” – 1 Timothy 6:20 NLT

Whether it is people’s advice or opinions, I want to make sure I am guarding what God entrusted to me by defeating the lies around me and checking the “truth” I’m believing against God’s words in the Bible. I also want to avoid contributing to the foolish bickering.   It isn’t worth it. If I want to get involved with my passions politically there are much more constructive ways to do it other than wordy fights with friends on Facebook or uncomfortable confrontations that aren’t’ going to be fruitful.

There are times I am going to truly have to take a stand. I want to make sure I pick my battles, staying rooted in scripture so I can be ready to fight the fight that is really worth fighting.  I also want to make sure I’m not just believing the words of others, even though I respect them. They may not be words of truth when lined up against God’s word.

“And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith.” 1 Timothy 6:20 MSG

The World Didn’t Stop

“For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.” Jeremiah 31:25

Yesterday I felt terrible. My stomach ached and my muscles felt week.

I still ran around trying to get things taken care of.  I thought, “Just because I’m sick doesn’t mean the world stops.” About two o’clock I curled over in pain grasping my stomach managing to drop my body on the sofa where I laid still for three hours.

The world did not stop. But I did.

My daughter came home from school and said, “Hi, Mom” from a distance. She made herself a snack and walked the dog before starting her homework. (So thankful for teenagers!)

My husband came in and reheated leftovers, ironed his shirt for work the next day and settled into his comfy recliner.

I eventually showered got ready for bed and read until I went back to sleep.

Yes, I stopped…and life still continued.