Monday, February 9, 2015

Where You Go I'll Go

Labels seem silly to me but I've always been fond of the SAHM title. I love staying home with my children (most of the time). It's fulfilling and it pushes me to depend on God in a different way than I've ever had to in my life before. The term "pray without ceasing" takes on a different meaning in motherhood. "God please help me to hold my lunch down as I clean up this poop off the bathroom walls," or "Lord give me patience. Help me to not raise my voice at Elijah for asking for the 100th time today if he can watch T.V," are among some of my more common prayers. They may seem petty, but I assure you they are not.

This SAHM term is one I've come to embrace and love. I struggled for so long just to be okay with being primarily mommy. I had endless moments of feeling like I was disappearing and mommy-hood had just taken over all of my being. Then almost suddenly, God gave me a wake up call. "I've called you to this! It's a gift to be a mother." I would hear it in the whispers of my early morning devotionals, in craze of getting ready for the day, or in the sleepy yawns of bedtime. From that point on, I began to discover a joy I was missing before.

But so often in this life, just when I become settled, God unsettles me. Friends do you ever feel that the older you get the crazier circumstances become and there is absolutely no escaping it? And as frustrating as that is, I know God meets me in the chaos of life. I think about Jesus walking through the torrential storm on the water. This is easily one of my favorite miracles he performs. It is in those moments of desperation that God reveals himself in INCREDIBLE ways. So as much as my body longs for comfort, my spirit longs for the storm a little too.The storm is where I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God will show up.

So here I am settled in motherhood, and BAM, God's like, "I think you need to go back to work." Okay that's an exaggeration. I've always said that I am not called to children's ministry, pretty much from the time I became a mother. And now here I am, in children's ministry. It's a pretty hilarious process actually. No one from church offered me the position which is typically how it works. I offered myself up for the position, dragging my feet behind me the entire time. "Wahhh wahh wahh, God I don't want to do this! Don't make me." How pathetic am I, right? Realistically I am not alone in this mentality. Great prophets threw tantrums before God: Moses, Jonah, Job, David, I could go on. But don't we have this mentality that this kind of defiance always comes before GREAT revival? That isn't what I'm looking at here. I mean I do love these toddlers, but they aren't going to start singing, "Lord I give you my heart," and pray for God to be Lord of their lives.

Here is what it really boils down to though. When you say, "Where you go I'll go," that doesn't always mean taking a trip across the ocean to do God's work, creating an Odyssey-type story in the process. The idea that working in a children's classroom is less valuable than digging wells overseas, is an idea that Hollywood has created and the Church has bought. I've bought into it. Just because something has better entertainment value, does not make it "holier work" in the eyes of God. It's easy to say, "God I want to do big things with your strength. I want you to use me for your miracles." Then God says, "Okay care for the children." "Ummmm.....that's actually not what I had in mind." But shouldn't it be exactly what I have in mind? Jesus didn't just suddenly appear on this earth and say, "Here I am. I've come to save." He came as a baby. His diaper was changed. He was bathed. He made messes that needed to be cleaned up. Those things, they made a difference.

So as I begin this new journey, as I step foot into the loud and messy classroom of two and three-year-olds, pray for me my freinds. Pray that I see Jesus walk on water! Pray that the children see it too! Pray that I would not be content in comfort, but instead be joyful in the beautiful storm of children that surround me.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back to the Beginning

Life has been happening. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way. A few nights ago a good friend and I sat over steaming plates of cheesy mexican food and talked. We reminisced over what difficult meant when we were teenagers. We giggled over the idea that, "I really like him but I'm not sure if he likes me back," seemed so complicated. Listen I'm not trying to discount those feelings all you youngsters. They are real. But there we were, a couple of moms with some really complex things going on in life...
                   career changes...
Life has been happening, and if you couldn't tell I don't mean that in a good way. But that's not really the end, and let me assure you, this dinner date was filled with joy and laughter. It's just that I've been stewing. In these seasons of life, I seek hope. So many of us do, and it's right to do so. Over these last few weeks my world has been rocked and I find myself finding hope in the beginning. You might be thinking, "The beginning Amber? Really that's pretty vague." Listen people! I'm trying to be poetic here and that's a reach for me. Just bear with me.

I'm going to get all Jesusy on you. Yeah I know that's not a word. For those of you who are normally put off by bible jargon please keep reading, because there is something you need to hear in this. Okay, our church has started a new bible reading program. We've started in Genesis. I will stretch and say most people are familiar with Genesis, at least the beginning. It's the story of creation. Quite honestly I've probably read the first few chapters tens if not a hundred times. I don't say that to sound pious. I just need you to know that all this time, I was missing something.

In genesis, there is is this powerful picture painted with words about how God existed before anything. Okay...weird but lets move on. The author goes on to describe how God creates the heavens, the light, the earth, the water, the sky, etc. Each time he makes something, he speaks it into existence.

Genesis 1:3 "Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. (NIV)

Beyond that, after speaking most of his creations into existence, God commends his own work. He calls his own work good.

Genesis 1:17-18 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. (NIV)

And then it starts getting really good. I mean it gets really really good people. Lastly God creates man (or human), but he does it differently. He doesn't speak man into existence. He shapes man. He forms him from the dust. And then he does another thing differently. He breathes HIS BREATH into man. Do you see how differently this looks? Can you see the care he takes with people?

Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person. (NIV)

And if this isn't enough, do you know what God says after he creates man? Suddenly it goes from good, to very good. See?! I told you. Really good right?

Genesis 1:31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! (NIV)

It's clear that God cares for us differently (I would argue more) than the rest of creation. And then sin entered in. But that doesn't seem to change God's meticulous, carefree, passionate love for us. Over and over again you see God's intimacy with the people that he created.

Ephesian 1:4-5 Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. (NLT)

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

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you appart... (NIV)

I can go on. There are plenty of examples. So what does all this have to do with life happening? Because life is happening, and it hurts a lot sometimes. Maybe you have this friend who you thought was the only person you could trust, and then suddenly you can't anymore. You feel betrayed, hurt, alone. Maybe you had this precious life growing inside of you. You were imagining and planning a future for your child, your perfect baby. Suddenly all you have left is emptiness when you find there is no more life inside you. Maybe you are getting older. As you age all the people you love and care about are getting sick, withering away, dying before your eyes. All you are left with is loneliness. Maybe you are a college student, entering a new season in your life. It's supposed to be exciting, new, and fresh. Instead it's terrifying, anxiety ridden, and isolating. Maybe you made the decision a long time ago to put a needle in your arm. Now it's a life style. Now that needle dictates your every move.

Whatever "life happening" looks like for you, I ask that you go back to the beginning. GOD DESPERATELY LOVES YOU. He loves you in a way that is so much bigger, so much better, so much more powerful than anyone can fathom. Does this love keep life from happening? No. But this love can overcome. It can overcome, loneliness, addiction, anxiety, depression, fear, emptiness, and yes even death. This is hope people, and it's more than enough.