Chains

Welcome to week one, "Jacked Up," of Jen Hatmaker's Make Over.  I'm excited to go through this 30-day study with you.  I've been praying for some direction in my chaotic life and God has put this book in my path. What's crazier is that I don't do anything for more than a few days at a time, except eat, sleep, and breath.  So this feat, I know, can only come from God.  Lord, please help me to stay diligent in seeking you out.

Chains are typically used to restrain something into place or limit movement.  You have your ball and chain, your handcuffs that have a chain in between, your snow chains to keep your tires in place on the ice.  There are so many different variations of chains.  But the ones we're going to discuss are the things in our everyday lives that seem to have a hold on us.

Jen writes, "We're tired.  We worry.  We wouldn't be so over-whelmed if each role wasn't so vital.  How can one measure the worth of a mom verus a wife?  A professional versus a friend?  A servant of God versus a daughter?  We're all those things.  And they still matter." (pp. 15-16)

Friends, I struggle with this everyday.  I don't like to admit it because I like to think that I can handle a full load and then some.  When I start thinking that I can do everything on my own without the help of my husband, my kids, family, friends, and most importantly my God, the roles that I play become heavy chains that end up bringing me down.  Let's see what Jen has to ask and how we can apply the verses she brings to us in our lives.
Question 1: When it comes to balancing your roles, how do you 
feel right now?  Why?
     If I had answered this question earlier this month or even a couple of weekends ago I would have said, "I feel like a failure and it sucks."  However, right now it's still not the best, but it's better than that.  I feel that I should have better control of my life and the roles that I play.  I feel that I should be able to everything and not being able to really frustrates me.  It frustrates me because
I compare my life to everyone else's highlight reel. Mistake #7,458.
Question 2:  Do you ever feel like you're captive to or trapped
by your roles?  If so, which ones feel like chains?  You can be honest.    
Do you have any ownership in this?  Has God been trying to warn you?  How?   
     Simple answer:  Yes.  <Sigh>  The roles that feel like chains to me, more often than not, are Kate the businesswoman, Kate the mom, and Kate the CFO of Headley Inc.
     Ok, I'll own up to it.  All of these roles that feel like chains, I have freely elected myself into them, but didn't know what the job was really about when I requested to work them all at the same time.  I was Kate the businesswoman before I became mom and
CFO.  I was very successful in that role, but it caused Kate the mom to hardly be present emotionally and physically and Kate the CFO to be greedy and a poor steward of God's money.  So God "gently" nudged me out of Kate the over-working business woman to just Kate the businesswoman and now I'm learning how to
balance that new role with the other ones.
Read Isaiah 40:27 How do you honestly think God regards your frustrations?  Do you think He's more "big picture"?  Be truthful.
     The way I look at it is that I know He sees my frustration and uses it to bring me closer to Him.  It's my typical M.O.  I end up so frustrated due to my lack of obedience and reliance on God that He brings me to my knees in order to bring me back to Him.  The awesome part of it all is that He allows me to choose myself, shows me just how silly that decision was, and guides me down the path He already had it mind for me.

Read Isaiah 40:28 Why would God say this to people who've been in captivity for seventy years?
     Because God KNOWS what they're going through.  He understands frustration on a level that we cannot even comprehend.  Man, if I'm frustrated, can you imagine how frustating it would be to be in HIS shoes?  I mean, look at us!  Look what He gladly endures day in and day out.

Read Isaiah 40:29-31 The original word for renew (verse 31) literally means "to exchange."  What is God communicating to you through His word?
     FYI: I'm using the NLT instead of the NIV. ;)  I've read these particular verses many times over, yet today His words are resounding in my ears, "But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength."  He wants me to trust Him with every part of me.  He doesn't just want to the big stuff.  He wants the things I consider little because soon enough those little things, when attempted to be handled without His help, snowball into something I cannot control.  He wants me to rest in Him. 

Prayer time: Thank you Lord for bringing me into this study.  You've known what I've been needing in this season.  I ask that you break down any walls that I may have so that you can work in me to make me over.  In your name, Amen.

Thanks for joining me today.  Be sure to check back tomorrow because we're going to talk about wine...well, maybe have a glass of it. :D
 
 
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Ok, so here it goes; time to be even more vulnerable. 

I came across Jen Hatmaker through the (in)courage site a few months ago while I was completely bored out of my mind at work.  Her book, 7, was being highlighted as their book club book.  I didn't get a chance to read it, but I followed the discussions.  "7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to  varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. In the spirit of a fast, they pursued a deeply  reduced life in order to find a greatly increased God."  I'm hoping to be able to read it in depth myself, but not till after I've read Make Over. 

Make Over
is a Bible study about balancing the lives we lead.  We, women, have been called to play a variety of roles in and out of the household and sometimes those roles can bring us down.  As you may have seen with some of my previous posts about the kids, this book could not have come at a better time.  I am in desperate need of a "make over." 

While reading the introduction, my heart and my lips said, "Thank you, Lord!"  My heart has been heavy concerning my children and the craziness of life that seeking God through this study will help rejuvenate me only the way He so desires.  The nice thing about her book is that she is so realistic.  This study is a 6-week study broken into short, two to five, maybe six page chapters for each day.  And her week is 5 days; totally doable.  So it's 30 days of reading, if you're doing the math.  30 days to get a new, refreshed perspective on the craziness we call life.  30 days to "make over" you. 

At the beginning I said I was going to be more vulnerable, so here it is:  For each lesson/day, there are questions, some simple and basic and some very personal.  I'm going to spend the next 30 days going through this study with you.  I'll post the questions, the verses, and my vulerable answers.  As I'm writing, my head it saying, "Shoot, spilling my guts is easy, but doing something, especially blogging for 30 days...that's a feat in itself.  You can barely blog 2 days in a row.  What makes you think you can do 30?!" Well ladies, I'm squashing that voice in my head today.  I know that voice is the enemy not wanting me to do something that will help me grow spiritually.  So your prayers for this journey of rejuvenation and vulneralbility will be much appreciated. 

Thanks for stopping by,

 
 
Do you hide who you are?  Do you scream out, "Look at ME!" ? Who knows everything about us?  God does.  He knows EVERYTHING about us, including the consequences of our sin.  He is continually pleading with us to obey Him.  Hmmm...kind of sounds like me and my kids.  God has let us know that our choices will have lasting consequences, whether they be good or not so good, for us and our children.  Sinful choices can be the beginning of destructive family patterns that often carry on generationally.

I have experienced what generational sin can do.  In my family, our most damaging generational sins are offense and unforgiveness.  We have others, but these two are the primary reason our family is in the predicament it's currently in.  I have seen that unintentional offense has lead to horrible, ugly unforgiveness.  I have committed to my family that I will not allow these sins to be passed down to my children.  I have asked for forgivness for them and have forgiven my family and past generations for their sins.

The beauty of God is that His mercy far outweights His judgment.  If we choose to love and obey God, many more generations will be blessed.  We have to remember that in the face of temptation, the way we live our lives establishes a lasting legacy, either in the form of blessings or punishments.  What will we choose to give our children and the generations that follow? 

I am committing to consider the legacy that sin passes to my children when I make my choices. 
"You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your afftection for any other gods.  I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected--even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.  But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands."


Deutreronomy 5:9-10

 
 
 I hear the hum of the refridgerator, the fan in the laundry room, the blast of the heater, and my clicking of the keys beneath my fingertips.  I can even hear my own breathing.  It's calm.  It's peaceful.  It's kind of eerie. 

I yearn for this peace and quiet practically everyday so that I can gather my thoughts and my wits, but yet I miss the chaos of it all.  Wait, did I just say that?!  I suppose I should clarify "chaos."  I want to hear the laughter, the giggles, the singing, the growls of the life in this home.  And yet at the same time, I want to dive into my heart, my soul, and my mind to get a better idea of who God wants me to be. 

I often put my family's needs above my spiritual needs.  But of late, I have discovered that putting their needs in front of my time with God, it's the equivalent of me diving head first into an empty pool with the result of a huge mess that no one should have to clean up.  God doesn't want me to dive into that empty pool.  He wants me to dive into his Word, his loving arms, his everything.  He wants me to take my relationship with him a little bit further.  My eyes are swelling with tears as I realize just how much I need him.  He doesn't NEED me, he WANTS me.  He wants me to put my toes over the edge and dive into a real relationship with hi

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I've probably shared this before, but I feel the need to share it again.  I heard it on the radio today after yet another challenging morning with the kids at the dentist.  Things were great up until we had to leave to go to school.  Everyone left in tears.  I asked for forgiveness from Bean and she willingly gave it saying, "It's okay Mama."  After I dropped her off, I cried outloud to my God for help, comfort, and forgiveness.

Then this song came on.

"All this pain..."
            YES, I have so much pain right now.  It makes me sick
            to my stomach.
"I wonder if I'll ever find my way."
             I feel so lost.  I feel like I'm losing all control.  This is the 
            3rd public outburst by the kids in a week and a half. 
            What am I doing wrong?  What am I not doing?           
"I wonder if my life could really change, at all."
             Right now, this very moment, I don't know.  I want it to. 
             I'm think I'm doing the right things for my kids, but it
             feels like no matter what I do, I lose.
"All this earth...Could all that is lost ever be found?"
             Find me, Lord.  I'm in the dark and I'm scared.
"Could a garden come up from this ground, at all?"
             Can you change me? (Notice I didn't ask for him to
             change the kids...)

"You make beautiful things,"
             You, Lord, are the Creator of all.  YOU make beautiful 
            things.  You can take what I have, this ugliness inside,
             and turn it into something great!
"You make beautiful things out of dust."
             You planned to have me read the story of creation today
             and watched as I read it with awe for the first time. 
             Today in the quiet, I watched your beauty unfold as you
             spoke your words.  To take each word a little bite at a 
             time, I was filled with wonder and excitement to know
             that my God's words are powerful.
"You make beautiful things,"
             Yes, you can AND you do.
"You make beautiful things out of us."
             Thank you for moulding me.  I'm becoming more  
            malleable everday.  It's taking a lot longer, but that's
            because I'm super stubborn.  Thank you for wanting to
            change my heart, my attitude, my mind. 

I am currently in a spiritual battle.  The enemy has found my ever-growing chinks in my armor when it comes to family, especially my kids.  I have been in a job the last 7 years that has made me not so available to my family.  They were "getting used to it," but they were acting out because they were trying to get my attention when I was home.  Now that I'm at a job where I'm home more, they seem to be testing me out to see how I would do under pressure.  I've failed them and my God.  I need him everyday. 

Through my failures and my ugliness, my God, our God, can make beautiful things out of me.  He is the one in control.

 
 
Most days aren't like today.  Most days I'm able to handle it all.  Today was one of those exceptions.  I'm usually able to keep it together in public and my kids are, most of the time, compliant.  Yet today, I cracked.  Oh man, did I crack under the pressure of looking like I have it all together. 

We're only 5 days into the New Year and for us, it started on New Year's Day.  My husband was working and I thought it would be fun to have an outing with the kids at the craft store, MISTAKE NUMBER 1.  While we were there, the kids each picked out their own fabric for a mini craft I was going to do for them; MISTAKE NUMBER 2.  I then had them choose the color ribbon for the ties for the project; MISTAKE NUMBER 3.  We took the fabric to the counter to get it cut and Buddy saw his fabric go from "Mama, LOOK!  BIG basketballs (the pattern on the fabric)!" to "MAMA!! MY FABRIC!!" while the lady cut his fabric the size I needed it; MISTAKE NUMBER 4. 

Now mind you, I thought I was doing good before we went in the store as Bean was walking with me by my side and Buddy was securely fastened in his monkey backpack leash.  I thought, "I have total control."  Boy, was I wrong!    While he's watching his fabric get cut, he drops to the floor like a rock.  If I were a little taller and stronger, he would've been suspended like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible because ladies and gentlemen, that's what it turned into...Mission Freakin' Impossible!  Now at this point, I'm still pretty calm.  Bean is holding all the cut material and still by my side.  Thank you Lord for one cooperating child.  So instead of dragging him by his leash, I pick him up thus enabling the first tantrum of the year.  Oh wait...I forgot to mention that earlier that morning (I sooo should've stayed at home...) it took me almost an hour to get the kids out of their pajamas and into their street clothes.  I was a regular cowgirl, wrangling them, holding down their flailing limbs.  As we're walking he kicks of his boots. 

"Bean, can you please help Mama and grab Buddy's boots?"

"But Mama, I only have two hands." (Remember, she's carrying the fabric.)

"Honey, please.  Mama needs your help."

"Ok."  Mind you, the lady who cut our fabric had this awesome scowl, scrunched looking face on her, I just wanted to run!  Finally, we make it to the checkout.  I have Bean standing by me, holding the fabric (Again, thank you Lord!) and Buddy still screaming his lungs out.  Now, I'm thinking, "There are only  two people in front of me.  I can see the car.  We're almost out of here.  We can do this.  I don't think I can leave the cut fabric...can I?"  So as I'm doing this, Buddy is spread eagle on the floor, screaming bloody murder.  I'm trying to put his boots on, while I'm still in line, but WAIT!  IT DOESN'T MATTER!  Two older women, yes, not one, but two of them, individuals, not together CUT IN FRONT of me and my screaming child.  My eyes, big as they already are, practically bugged out of my head.  But yet, I held my tongue.  I scooped up Buddy, put his boots in my purse, and held my tongue.  He calmed down as we got to the counter.  I paid for our fabric and calmly put them in the car.  I didn't leave the house again that day.

Today was just as fun.  My husband and Bean went sledding so I thought it would be okay to take Buddy out shopping.  We made it through the grocery store, even into the sport store, but heaven forbid we make it in and out of the ice cream shop. 

Here was my mistake.  I decided to order our ice cream on a cone, not in a cup.  He wanted to hold the cone, but the shop we were at, he wouldn't be able to hold onto the cone and the bar stool without falling off.  So I told him I would hold it.  The kid went bonkers.  He fell to the floor, got himself stuck.  Sadly, I took that opportunity to go and pay so I could scoop him up and get the heck out of Dodge.  But he apparently wasn't good and stuck as he scrambled out, shoeless again, around the back counter of the shop.  The server cornered him and I scooped him up, holding my wallet and the cone.  Here came the bloody murder screaming yet again.  I apologized to the server.  Not a peep.  But again, that look of, "get control of your kid."  It wasn't the "I'm sorry, been there." kind of look, but a look of "You kind of suck being a parent."  Ugh.  I get out of the store and wiggles himself free of my grasp, gets the ice cream all over his jacket and rolls on the floor, still shoeless.  I laid the ice cream on the floor because I needed to get some sort of control over him to calm him down and get in the car.  It was like time stood still.  People in the hallway of the building and outside the building were watching us.  I wanted to run!  I wanted to hide my face to hide my embarassment because I didn't have control of the situation.  I got him in the car and let him cry. 

My heart was hurting.  Why has there been these episodes?  Especially to this extent?  I mean, I have been home more in the last 2 months than I have in quite awhile.  I have been trying to develop a better relationship with my kids, but yet, they still act like they don't want me.  It hurts.

And then I pause.

I'm NOT a perfect parent, but God is!  I sit back and I look at my children's behavior and shamefully see myself.  Not to the outright screaming, tantrum throwing, but the downright disobedience.  The "I'm not going to do it because I don't want to" attitude.  God doesn't yell at me.  He doesn't look at me in anger.  He showers me with more love.  He gently breaks me and molds me into the best creation yet.  Granted he has to do it practically everyday because, well let's face it, I'm not perfect. 

No matter what I do, God is always parenting me with his very best because he is the best.  It's times like this that I so desperately need his abundant grace to shower down and flood my heart so that I can pour that into my own parenting.  God is good. 

After today's episode, Buddy and I read together for his night time stories, tickled, laughed, and sang.  That right there showed me that no matter how crazy it can be, God loves me through my children.


**Our craft.  It's a seat pocket to help clear the kitchen table for eating.**
 
 
Today is my first Five Minute Friday of the year.  Join the flash mob here.

I'm wondering what the next step is and how I should proceed.  Sometimes the path seems clear, yet often I can't tell my left from my right for fear of making a mistake. 

We get a new beginning every morning we choose to get out of bed.  We get to choose what kind of attitude we're going to display that day.  We choose how we're going to react to the things that cross our path.  We have the opportunity to choose God.

I don't choose him every time.  I choose the world; I choose myself.  How quickly I forget about the blessings he has bestowed upon me, while I crave more.  God gives me the opportunity to choose him.  Sometimes it's blatantly put at my feet and it's easy for me to take it.  Other times, he lays it in front of me and I take the long, meandering path to receive the opportunity he wanted to bless me with at the beginning.

This year, and I hope with some sort of accountability, I will be able to really observe the opportunities he is placing at my feet; to seize them and let him take my hand to walk me through.  I want to walk side-by-side with my God.  Today I am thanking him for the opportunity to choose him.
 
 
I often try to do my best, to work hard, to make as few mistakes as possible, and just plain old rock.  Do you know how hard that is to keep up something like that in everyday life?  It's very hard.  It's so hard to act like everything is okay everyday.  It's so hard, especially for me, to ask for help.  It's so hard...to rely on Him.  Ouch!  I said it.  I don't rely on my God as much as I know I should.  I measure myself by the world's definition of significance and attempt to show how great I am.  In that single sentence, there's not even a hint of God there. 

I can feel His nudges.  I can sense His presence.  But yet, I don't let Him take control.  I've been trying for so long to have control over my life that it's been almost like an obession to see what "I" can make happen.  I hear the words my husband speaks to me, "He's got it.  He's in control."  I nod my head in agreement, while I wonder, "What can I do?" 

While looking into the story of Rachel and Jacob, I laughed a little at Rachel, but then sadly realized, I. Am. Rachel.
"When Rachel saw that she wasn't having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister.  She pleaded with Jacob, 'Give me children, or I'll die!'  Then Jacob became furious with Rachel.  'Am I God?' he asked.  'He's the one who has kept you from having children!'  Then Rachel told him, 'Take my maid, Bilhah, and sleep with her.  She will bear children for me, and through her I can have a family, too.'"  Genesis 30: 1-3
Rachel was in competition with her sister Leah for having babies.  That is definitely not a competition I want to participate in myself.  That's about the only place that we differ.  Rachel was trying to validate her own life by the world's standards of having sons.  When it wasn't happening for her, she basically said, "Forget it, God!  I'll do it on my own."  She took the family planning into her own hands, instead of resting in the fact that "God's got it."

I don't want to be a slave to the thoughts and opinions of the world.  I NEED and WANT to rest in God's identity and seek His validation, not the validation of others.

Lord, thank you for showing me an area of opportunity; I know I have many.  I ask for your forgiveness for not relying on you and trusting fully in you.  Thank you for your loving and gentle Spirit.  Guide me and help me to follow.  Amen.
 
 
So long 2012 and hello 2013!  There's usually a sense of rejuvenation and excitement when a new year begins.  My question is why does it take a year to have a "clean slate" when we get one every day when we wake up?  What makes the calendar rolling over so special? 

Well, for me, having a sense of truly starting over is what my heart needed.  It's what my inner me has been desiring for so long.  To start fresh.  To be a brand new me.  These last few months have given me an little glimpse of who I am; not who I thought I was supposed to be.  I know that finding the real me is going to take some time.  The real me shows her beautiful face in certain scenarios; usually over a dinner or drinks.  Definitely over drinks.  I'm not on my guard, worrying about what other people will think about me or what comes out of my mouth.  I am FREE. To. BE. ME!

My dear, patient husband is such an encourager in this situation.  He wants me to be the ME that I am around him around others.  I know my words are going around in circles, but that's what's circling in my head.  He wants everyone to experience ME.  He's amazing and he's mine. =)

So with a new year, new goals (I don't want to say resolutions because, well, I just don't.), and a new perspective on things, I look forward to see what 2013 will bring me and my family.

Before I divulge my new goals for this year, I must confess my goals from last year.  I did succeed in most, but definitely have areas of opportunity for others. 

10 Goals for 2012 (just to get me started):
  1. Complete Rockin' Body and one other Beachbody program. I completed Rockin' Body and attempted Brazilian Butt Lift. 
  2. Read 6 fiction and 6 non-fiction books. Suggestions welcome. I read 2 non-fiction books and 15+ fiction books.  I'll take it.  Getting a Kindle for my Mother's Day gift really helped me crank out my reading goals.
  3. Learn ASL. I learned a few new signs, but didn't really dive in deep.  I can't take classes at the college since they conflict with my current schedule.
  4. Save up $2225.00 for half of Dave Ramsey's Counselor Training - Didn't save a dime for it. :(  I'm going to have to take this off my list.  I'm thinking this will be a good 5 year goal.
  5. Blog at least once a week. This DEFINITELY didn't happen.  I didn't make blogging/journaling a priority this past year.  I did fill up a couple of hand-written journals, but that's about it.  Blogging isn't really one of my strengths.  I do enjoy writing, but to commit to once a week is a stretch.  
  6. Learn how to plan freezer meals. Well, I must have thought I would get a stand-alone freezer this past year.  So didn't even attempt any freezer meals.  
  7. De-clutter. I did de-clutter.  I got rid of things without attempt to put them up for sale.  I donated a lot of stuff and just filled up the trash.  I have a long way to go.  One book that I picked up is about learning to live life simply.
  8. Start and finish a craft.  I did!  I finished several.  Thanks to Pinterest and all the awesome ideas out there, I was able to make some cute things for our house and gifts. 
  9. Join a woman's group. This didn't happen either.  I'm still working on the girlfriend factor.  It's an area that I struggle with.  More to come later.
  10. Getting in bed by 10:30pm Hah!  Who was I kidding?!  I enjoyed my time after that. 
**Now there was another goal that was made that involved numbers.  The goal was 100, but 140 was obtained!!**

So my goals for 2013 are going to be a little bit more realistic...so to speak.
  1. 156 (Bobbie Jo, thanks for the number!)
  2. Baby steps to better health. We're working on eliminating a majority of the processed foods in our house and working on our general well-being.
  3. De-clutter some more. 
  4. Spend more meaningful time with my family.  Last year I was gone, in a hotel for work for 2 1/2 months.  That's a long time for a mama.
  5. Focus on what God has planned for me.  I do a lot of planning.  I mean, A LOT of planning.  That just kind of leaves me as a hot mess.  At the GLS one year, one of the speakers said somthing to the effect of, "If you can figure it out yourself, you're insulting God." 
  6. Work on friendships.  This is something I struggle with. I think this will be a topic of discussion for me this year.
  7. Plan a woman's study group.  I'm saying plan, because seeing it come to play is not something I can foresee at the moment.
That's all I have so far.  I just want to be a better me for my family.  If I'm feeling good, I will be able to serve my family better.

Happy New Year!