September 18, 2013

Sweet Like Honey

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"Kind words are like honey...
sweet to the soul and healthy to the body."
~ Proverbs 16:24

My words didn't flow like honey last night.  Oh they flowed alright, but definitely not in a kind and sweet and healthy-to-the-body sort of way like this scripture talks about.

It had been a long day.  No doubt a good day, but also one filled with lots of activity and projects and housework and by 8:30pm, when I got home from taking my son to team pictures for football, I was spent.  Or, as our family would say it, I was completely "shwagger-washeded".

If I could have crawled in bed at that very moment and called it a day, I would have.  But my husband had just gotten home from work and my daughter from a choir performance and I wanted to catch up with them.  The kitchen was a mess and needed to be cleaned from all the baking and cooking I'd done earlier and from the four of us eating in shifts over a period of several hours.  There was still much to be done before the day was over... many more miles to go before I could sleep.

While my husband and I sat down to chat and spend a few minutes together, the kids cleaned up the kitchen.  I don't remember what the issue was, but the two of them began arguing about something.  I could feel the weariness and tension and irritation rising up in my heart and getting the better of me.  I gave/barked a few directions/orders, raised my voice, and told the kids to stop fighting and be nice, while all the while knowing that I was the one who needed to be nice.  My tone was horrible and my attitude was worse and only growing worser by the moment.

Eventually, the kitchen was clean and everyone headed upstairs to get ready for bed, everyone but me.  I lingered on the sofa for a bit finishing up some reading, but when I went to turn out the lights and head upstairs myself, I realized that the garbage needed to be taken out, the doors needed to be locked, and all the lights in the house needed to be turned off and I was not happy.  Not happy in the least that everyone had abandoned me and left me to wrap things up for the night.

I said a quick prayer like "HELP!" as I slammed the garbage bags into the bins and for much too long, I entertained feelings of irritation, frustration and self-pity.  I knew I needed Jesus to help me, but honestly, I don't think I really wanted his help.  I just wanted to be mad and tired and feel sorry for myself.

I marched and sulked upstairs and as I was getting ready for bed, I made it all worse by saying some choice and catty remarks to my husband about how everyone needs to help out a bit more at night.  And, as you might guess, he didn't take those words too well.  Not too well at all.

It wasn't the best night around the Barker house.  No, not one of our finest for sure.  And sadly, I had a LOT to do with that.  As I write this, I'm ashamed and disgusted at my selfishness and immaturity, my poor and careless choices and yet, I'm equally and all the more thankful for grace and forgiveness... that God loves me as I am and not as I should be.

I was convicted of my words and attitude before my head ever hit the pillow and I could fall fast asleep.  I prayed and asked Jesus to forgive me and I thanked him for his never-ending grace and patience and love.  And the next morning, before the sun even came up, I sent a text to my husband telling him I was sorry for being cranky and complain-y and told him I was crazy about him.  And over breakfast, I apologized to my kids for being bossy and mean.

I want my words to be sweet like honey, good for the soul, gracious and kind.  I want them to bring life.  I don't want to parent my children or offer to my husband out of weariness and exhaustion.  Yes, we're human and we do get tired, but even then, God is enough.  His love and life can flow through me to this precious family of mine, even when I'm completely worn out, as I lean into him and draw my strength from his life.  I am not enough, but he is, and I'm so utterly grateful for that truth.

"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, 
so that you will know how you should respond to each person."
~ Colossians 4:6

"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint."
~ Isaiah 40:31

"Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."


September 12, 2013

Rising Up

I have a full day ahead of me so this post will be brief, but a few thoughts are swirling around in my mind that I want to get down before the day slips by and the time to write is lost.

My alarm went off at six this morning and as I lingered in bed for a bit, hitting the snooze button a time or two, I thought about how every morning, before my feet ever hit the ground, I'm faced with a choice.  A choice to rise up.  Physically, of course, but also spiritually and mentally.

Though it might be tempting and easy to do, I don't want to pull myself out of bed each morning with an already tired and heavy heart as I think about all the day ahead will hold... schedules and tasks and errands, as well as the many other random, unglamorous and ordinary, but necessary things of life that need my attention.

Though I may be moving slow and in desperate need of a good, strong cup of coffee, I want to seize the day in front of me.  I want to rise up with hope and strength and great intention.  I want to live well and claim what is true... that God's mercies are new EVERY morning and I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.  

Many mornings, as I push off the covers and crawl out of bed, I say a few words out loud.  Words that flow more like prayers... "Jesus.  Come.  Come into this day.  Every moment.  Come for my heart.  Guide me.  Lead me.  Love me.  Teach me.  Use me."  

And as I make my bed, or head to the kitchen for that greatly-needed cup or two of coffee, I'm rising up.  

I'm choosing to seize the day.  

I'm choosing Jesus.  

And it's amazing the difference it makes... how it centers me, draws me back to what is true, and girds me up for the day ahead.  No matter how I feel or what the day may bring, by faith and with trust...

I'm rising up.

Want to join me?

A beautiful sunrise during our summer vacation to Hilton Head Island, SC this past June

"Wake up, o sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
~Ephesians 5:14

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
~Lamentations 3:22-23

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
~Philippians 4:13

How are you "rising up" today?  How are you choosing to seize the day, live with great intention, and live well?


September 7, 2013

And They're Off!

My children started back to school this week and though they'll only be gone a short eight hours or so, I know the years are fast approaching when they'll be gone for much longer... as in off living their own lives, chasing their own dreams, and writing their own stories.

My son is in eighth grade this year and my daughter is a junior, who's already looking at colleges and pondering her future.  How it is that we have just two to five years left with these two, before they go off to college, is beyond my comprehension.  Where has the time gone?

The years have flown past at record speed, and the years we have left to love them well, to invest deeply in their lives, to prepare them for the future and teach and instill in them the values we know will carry them far, are quickly coming to a close.

Though I know we'll always be a voice in their lives, our voice will change in the years to come, and though that may take some getting used to, it will be both healthy and good.

With complete abandon, we're throwing ourselves into the last few years we have left to raise these two.  Time is short and our work is great.  With sheer faith and trust, we're choosing to embrace and enjoy all the moments of change and growth, whether good or bad, and we're asking God to prepare us even now for the time to come when we'll need to let them go.

I read in a book this week, in regards to raising children, "When we loosen our grip, God tightens his."  How comforting and true that is.  Though I know God has always held my children tightly in the palm of his hand, I know he'll hold them all the more tightly as I let go.  I know he has them and I trust him.  And I trust they'll know and feel his strong, firm grip on their lives, and I pray, in return, they'll reach back to hold tightly to him.

I believe the greatest gift we can give our children is to teach them how to walk with God, to point them to Jesus.  Not to ourselves, not to others, not to material gain, or power and position, but simply and solely to Christ.  That has been our focus, our goal in raising our two... to point them to the One who made them, who's always present and good, who loves them more than we ever could, and has a plan so incredible and vast for each of them that if they could see it now, they would't believe it.

They need Jesus more than they need us, more than they need anything, and I see that truth taking root deeply in their hearts as they continue to grow into the man and woman God created them to be.

Throughout the years and since they were small, I've prayed this blessing over Jane Anne and Gray… before bed, on the way to school, or just because.  And I'll pray it over them this morning as they head out the door to start a new school year… another year of growth and change.

They are words that fall like a warm, cozy blanket on a cold, winter's day.  Words that are comforting and encouraging and have grown familiar to them.  Words that say, "All is well and all will be well."

And this is true.

This is true.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May he cause his face to shine on you.  
May he be gracious to you and turn his face towards you and give you peace." 

~ Numbers 6:22-27

Are you in a similar season of wondering where the years have gone as you watch your children grow up fast?  Or have your children already left home to live their own lives and chase their own dreams?  May Jesus come with grace for all of us... whatever season we're in.

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