Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Thief

   Some of you may be joining me on *this* blog for the first time.  I have a tendency to change up a bit from time to time...  and to try and follow where He leads.  That has landed me here, in my blogging journey.
   It's one of those mornings.  We haven't started school yet and its almost 9.  I am so far off schedule.  A few days ago, I wrote my blog post on my new morning schedule and routine.  Well- needless to say I haven't exactly been able to stick to it just yet.  I'm working on it.  I'm still up around 7, which probably seems late to some of you, but I'm trying to ease into a schedule closer to 6.  Today when I got up my youngest was two steps behind me, so I started the day out without my quiet time...  which is unfortunate, but okay.  One of the wonderful points that is in the Andy Taub book I've been talking about is that we need to be interruptable in the mornings, and be okay with it.  I'm interruptable.  My morning *started* before I was ready for it too, but that's okay.  I'm taking some time now to sit and share with you, and the elliptical can wait for when the kids are doing handwriting and worksheets.  I am interruptable today, and that's okay.
   My story I have to share with you is two-fold.  A dream and a reality.  First, my yesterday.
   Yesterday started out in a dead rush for some reason.  You know, some days you manage your schedule and some days it manages you.  Some days you give yourself and your family a little grace, and somedays you don't.  I think that's reality for a Mom.  It's not always going to go exactly the way that you want it to go, and you gotta learn to be okay with that.  Before the day even began I already felt behind.  After we got our footing however, it started to go a little better.  Far more calm.  We got a lot done in school before our afternoon walk, and came home to let my little one take a nap.  I couldn't resist the warm temperatures, since it was in the 50s last week and now we are in the 80s, I just had to let the older kids spend the afternoon in the backyard.  So as they played outside and the little one slept, I sat down for some computer time.
   Computer time is often refreshing for me.  I love reading and writing blogs.  I love looking up new recipes and information on essential oils on pinterest. I really enjoy and value my computer time!  But yesterday I misused it, and it spread like a disease over the rest of my day.
   My husband is applying for an internship as a youth pastor at a church in this area.  He's been for a couple of interviews, and although he hasn't gotten the job yet, just the fact that he's taking that step makes this journey into ministry even more real to me.  We have served in our home churches before, with friends and family..  but never on this scale.  Never as an actual job, in a big church, where we don't know anyone.  Even if he doesn't get this specific internship, that is what we are here for so I know that someday it will come.  It's made me realize just how nervous I really am.
   Stephen isn't nervous.  This seems seamless for him, it was what he was born to do.  I always felt like I should somehow be different, that I should be more outgoing, less nervous.  In church Sunday night though, pastor Stephen made a wonderful observance.  He was teaching about ministry families and how they work in the book of Titus.  He said that we must remember that when the going gets tough for the pastor, he can get really discouraged...  but then he can hear the call.  Then he mentioned that its a bit different for families, because whereas God will prepare each of us and he created us to be together in this, this was specifically the call of the Minister, and that he hears it differently than his family will.
   But I digress.
   I was nervous, so I reactivated my facebook to look up the church.  One thing led to another.. and before I knew it, I was lost in the world of facebook.  No matter, I wasn't doing anything else at the moment.
   After logging off, I could not shake the feeling of how rotten I was feeling.  Its always discouraging, when I leave social media, just how bad it makes me feel.  I've thought in the past that it was because of the normal reasons people dislike social media.  Time wasted.  Comparing your behind the scenes to the highlight reels of others.  None of that seemed to be true, but I still just felt rotten about my time spent.

   Phase two.  :)  The dream.
   When I woke up this morning it was strange for it to be warm, because I could still feel the coolness from my dream.  Don't you hate that, when a dream stirs up the seasons for you?  It was welcoming though, coming back into reality and sharking off the rotten feeling of a nightmare.
   I dreamed we were driving to my Moms.  It was winter, I remember the snowflakes hitting the window, and we were all silent.  It was apparently Christmas, but it was the strangest thing.  Our van was full of gifts, and I remember well even what was in each gift.  I had chosen the perfect gift for everyone in my family.  My Mom, my sister, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins.  Each had a gift we had specifically chosen, carefully picked out, and were so excited about.  It was wrapped in pretty paper with the most perfect bow, but I couldn't shake the dark feeling that was so overcoming in the dream.  My children were silent.  Their faces were faces of sadness, full of hurt.  I remember exactly what their faces looked like, as I looked at them quietly.  You see, we had so many gifts, expensive, carefully chosen gifts.  But for some reason, I had neglected getting anything for my children.  Nothing.  Not even the smallest of gifts.
     I remember sitting in the van silently, thinking perhaps I could run into the dollar store in town and pick up something, anything to wrap up and give them.  But I knew that wasn't it.  I know my children, and I know they are grateful for what they have and if they knew we couldn't get them anything- they would sincerely understand.  What made them sad was that we had invested so much, so carefully in absolutely everyone around us, and left them out.  They weren't sad out of greed, or even want..  they were sad because they were forgotten- because we had given our best to everyone, and just sort of left them by the wayside.
   The moment my eyes opened, I realized it was my "Aha" moment, the one I've been waiting for, but couldn't put my finger on. The reason I have such issues with social media.
   I spend my time looking at other peoples profiles and status updates..  their memes, their videos..  all their things.  It leaves a running commentary in my mind- this person thinks that, the other believes this...  throughout the day these thoughts and images process again and again, like the subliminal messages said to be in movies.  Not intentionally, not even consciously most of the time- but throughout the day, these things disconnect me, mentally and emotionally from the ones who truthfully need my heart and mind far more than anybody on facebook does.
   I finally figured out why social media makes me feel so rotten.  Because I spent all my time investing all of my gifts in other people, so much sometimes that I don't have anything left for my children..  and what they do get is something that I scooped together in the last moments.
   The title of my blog is Intentional Mommy..  because that is what I want most to be.  There's no such thing as a perfect Mommy.  There's something to be said about a good Mommy, but I want to be intentional.  I want everything that I do to have purpose behind it in my life.  Every moment to be leading up to something more, something deeper and bigger than myself.  I feel like I am finally awake to my life, and it's a good feeling.
   I've spent a lot of time away from social media for different reasons.  This reason is different.  I'm not angry and I no longer believe social media is a decay.  In a different season of my life, when my children aren't at home, when they are older and need less of me- which will be a sad day indeed, then perhaps I can focus my attention on others.  I can give all those gifts willingly to lots of people through the cyber world.  Once upon a time I did believe it was dangerous..  but honestly, I feel that the biggest danger in social networking and smartphones is the same dangers that lurk everywhere..  the ones that long to steal our motherhood away while our children are still small, because once that's stolen, once they are grown, its more difficult to invest in them.
   Now- they need every ounce of me.  That is every bit as for me as it is for them.  Motherhood is my greatest ministry, firstly because it has changed me and molded me in so many ways I'm unchangable.  It has demanded more of me than I was ever willing to give, and taken me so far out of my comfort zone that I am afraid so much of the time.  It has taught me to have the heart of a servant, and to put myself behind someone else.  It has caused me to become the very best version of myself that I can possibly be..  and for that I'm so grateful.  Motherhood is also my legacy.  The things that I instill in these four people everyday will live so far beyond me that I can't even conceive.  The lives that they touch- the beautiful things they create- the way each one of them goes forward to change the world will be a reflection on the things I as a mother instilled in each of them, and will outlive me four fold.  As if I've lived five different lifetimes.
   My husbands greatest burden is that he does this ministry with all of his heart..  he fights distraction and discouragement everyday.  He works hard to pour every ounce of him into it.  That is what I am trying to do as a mother.  I don't always succeed, and I have more bad days than I would ever want to admit... but each day I have several intentional moments, and although at the end of the day I can't hold them up and look at each moment- get paid monetarily for them and have someone validate them..  each of those moments will add up to the momumentality of their lives, their ministries, their heart and soul...  and for that, I will be intentional, and thankful for the hard lessons God teaches me.
   For those dreams, for those moments..  and for the things that are normal to some, but a thief to me....  I'm thankful.  What is your thief?  The thing that seeks to harm your ministry?  Some sort of sin?  A job?  A person?  A friend?  What is it that is standing in your way of succeeding in your ministry?  And are you willing to ask to find it, no matter what its going to take to give it up?
   I'm praying you will.  :)

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Saturday, April 16, 2016

On Seminary

   My children and I trekked across campus today to the church playground.  They love that little playground.  We have spent many afternoons there, as many as there have been warm days lately.  The girls enjoy riding their bikes in the parking lot, or shooting basketball.  The boys play gleefully in the mulch and playground equipment.  My son told me today as we left that he couldn't go home, because there wasn't a ship at home.  How wonderful, that playground can be a ship, a bus, a restaurant, and Neverland, all in one day.  Amazing memories.
   I listened to the flags flap in the breeze.  It was familiar.  I remembered months ago, when my husband and I first came to visit.  The three older kids were back at home, a few hours away.  I held the hand of our toddler as he bounced across the brick wall, and I listened to those same flags flapping in the breeze.  I breathed deeply in the autumn air as I cautiously skimmed the school buildings.  I remembered what it felt like when I was in school- in those old buildings full of so many books and so much knowledge, I loved everything about school.  I loved the way the buildings smelled and the echos that your feet made in the hallway.  I loved it.  I longed for my husband to experience it.
   I remembered the first time we saw our apartment.  Our two bedroom apartment..  I wondered how on earth five bedrooms worth of things would fit into these rooms...  how our children would react to being away from their extended families for the first time in their lifetime.  I wondered who our neighbors were, and how strange it would be so be so close to someone I've never met.
   It was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life.
   If I were asked to describe this season of our life in one word, I couldn't do it.  I would ask for one more.  If I were allowed two, I would use these...
   It is scary.  There's still a part of me that looks at my children and wonders if they need a house to come home to for Christmas when they are older. Wishing they had a big back yard with all their toys and swings...  fearful that we are stealing away a few years of their childhood.  What's even more scary, is that we don't know its only two years.  We don't know where God will send us afterward.  Will we find our ministry, and move into a home that we will settle in for a few years?  Will we be sent to another school?  Will we move home, and continue life as it were until God does lead us into ministry?   There are so. many. questions.  And I can't answer any of them.  Which leads me to word number 2....
   Turns out..  this space suits us pretty well.
   It wasn't an easy move to make, but immediately we were all at peace.  We actually fit rather well into our apartment, and it honestly was a big inspiration in every way to all of us.  We are closer than ever..  both because of our small proximity, and the fact that we spend most of our time together now.
   I'm certain that the hardest part was leaving our families.  We have never lived more than thirty minutes away from our families, who we are very close too.  It honestly was the hardest thing that we have ever done, but even that has had its own part of change.  Everyone else plays a different role than they once did- and that's so hard, but such a blessing.  Though we are further away, we seem to rely on families for less, and in turn, our relationships with our families are less stressed..  stronger and better- because they are based on spending quality rather than quantity.  They are the people we still share our lives with- I'm just finding that I work through the really hard stuff with my husband, and my kids work through their hard stuff with us, and all we have left over for other family members is the good stuff.  That is nice- to enjoy my relationship with them without counting on them monetarily, or for all of the support in the world.  I've learned to cling to my husband for that, and I've found so much joy in the easier relationships that I have with every member of my family.  Staying close when you are far away isn't easy, it takes more effort- but it's sooo worth it.
   We are finding quickly that childhood memories don't come from stuff, but from family.  Maybe my children don't have a big yard with lots of playhouses and swings..  but they have parents who want to be in Gods will so much that they give up that dream to do so.  They also have parents who will play in the yard with them, make it fun, and take the to the park.  They have parents who are invested in their childhood wholeheartedly, and I think that's even more important than having all the bells and whistles.  Most importantly, they have parents whose roots may not be solid, but their feet are planted firmly on the ground, living in faith that God brought us here, and waiting to see where he takes us.
   Our neighbors are amazing.  They are kind people in different seasons of their lives but still here, at the same place.  I believe that Stephen has made some friendships that will last through his lifetime, and we are surrounded by Godly men and women who gave up everything- just like us- to be here.  Good people who will pray for us, play with our children, and love us as we love them.
   It's challenging though, to say the least.  Stephen thrives in school, and does wonderful when he is in class.  He absolutely becomes who God always wanted him to be as soon as he steps into the classroom.  Yet he does struggle with time.  Not only is my husband a fulltime student, he also still has a fulltime job, on top of being a fulltime Daddy as well.  He works a lot, and that's been our biggest struggle since he got here.  To give up the good job that he has worked so hard to get, not to mention the fact that he still has a big family to support...  its hard.  He's tired, and I know that he could be so much more dedicated if he could give it more of his time.  I'm praying so hard that somehow God will make this a reality for us, but at the same time, willing to accept that if he wants this to be our reality, he has a reason for doing so.  He's not here to get a degree so he can get a job.  He's here to learn, to study and learn about Gods word.  I don't ever want it to feel stressful for him.  That's my biggest burden.
   I'm praying that God will comfort us and give us peace while we are here, and so far he's done a wonderful job of that.  He truly has blessed us and surrounded us with His love in the form of His people and His provisions.  I'm excited to see what the future holds for us.  We have grown so much in the short time we have been here, and I'm thankful for all that he's done for me.  God is good, all the time...  All the time, God is good.


Trust me with your Isaac

   I wanted to share this from my devotion today, it truly touched my heart.  Thank you Beth Moore for your beautiful words!

Trust Me with Your Isaac
By Beth Moore

For every Abraham who dares
to kiss the foreign field
where glory for a moment grasped
is for a lifetime tilled...

The voice of God
speaks not but once
but 'till the traveler hears
"Abraham! Abraham! Bring your
Isaac here!"

"Bring not the blemeshed sacrifice,
What lovest thou the most?
Look not into the distance,
you'll find your Isaac close."

"I hear the tearing of your heart
torn between two loves,
the one your vision can behold
the Other hid above."

"Do you trust me, Abraham
with your gravest fear?
Will you pry your fingers loos
and bring your Isaac here?"

"Have I not made you promises?
Hold them tight instead!
I am the Lover over your soul-
the Lifter of your head."

"Believe me, O my Abraham
when blinded by the cost.
Arrange the wooded altar
and count your gains but loss."

"Let tears wash clean your blinded eyes
until unveiled you see-
the ram caught in the thicket there
to set your Isaac free."

"Perhaps I'll send him down the mount
to walk right by your side.
No longer in your iron grasp
but safer still in mine."

"Or I may wrap him in the wind
and sweet him from your sight
to better things beyond your reach-
believe with all your might!"

"Look up, beloved Abraham,
can you count the stars?
Multitudes will stand to reap
from one dear friend of God."

"Pass the test, my faithful one;
bow to me as Lord
Trust me with your Isaac-
I am your great Reward."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New Ministry Position

I had some exciting news to share with all of you wonderful friends who have been praying for us.  Since my family and I arrived here in January, life has been so different.  Stephen transitioned into a student so well, and he's a good student.  He loves being a student of the word, and he's learned so much in just the short time we have been here, its been such a blessing.
  It hasn't been easy, making the transition.  He went from being home after work with no further commitments to having so many commitments and working fulltime on top of that.  We went from having family stop in every so often, here and there...  to spending several days alone.  After winter was over and things began to warm up, we started venturing out and met all of our neighbors.  It's been a true blessing!  We realized we actually really enjoy getting to know new people.  Where we are from that doesn't happen very often, lol.  Just in comparison, the population of the county we came from was 17,713. The population of where we are now is 109,540.  That's a lot more people, lol.  Sometimes God puts you out of your comfort zone to teach you to find yourself..  like going from a house with land and a few neighbors to literally sharing a backyard with someone...  and it makes you realize that you really are a lot more social than you thought you may be.  :)
   Since we have been here, we have found that several students work primarily in ministry roles while they are here.  We are so blessed that my husband has a good job, and works for a good company.  We are even more blessed that his job transferred so we never had to lose any income going into this transition.  Yet he still longed so much for a ministry cenetered job.  Somewhere he could apply what he is learning, somewhere he can be led by example by Godly mentors.  We were so blessed and fortunate to have fallen upon the church we have been going too!  He has met a lot of amazing, Godly men that I know will be a part of our life and ministry for years to come.  But I do have some exciting news!!!

   For the past few weeks, my husband has been working as an intern at a church here in Hendersonville!  It's only a temporary position, but still yet, its something new and exciting for our family!  So far, they really enjoy him.  Even temporary positions are something when you are in the ministry, because they have the potential to leave their mark forever.  I hope that he can use this time to share his heart for the youth, to share his relationship with God with them!  He is so excited to be serving again, it seems like it has been so so long.  Which is okay, God knew the time we needed to just be still and learn.  It is a bigger church, which is exciting, we have been to so many churches and we love small churches, but its also fun to be a part of a bigger church, and churches down here are big :)  We have prayed for an opportunity to serve again, and I'm so thankful that he has heard and answered our prayers!  Youth ministry has been something so strong on Stephen's heart for years now.  He enjoys working with young people and has such a burden for them in their walk, mostly because of what he went through as a teenager and young adult.  I'm certain that he is going to do a wonderful job, and touch many lives throughout the internship, and learn some wonderful things in the process!

Playing on the playground after Wednesday services...

Lacey and sawyer!  french broad has a beautiful view!  

Hubby trying to keep up with the young guys, playing ball after youth servies..  he's in the pink shirt lol!  
Playing basketball 

   Remember us in your prayers, and I will continue to share our stories here.  Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your love.  Blessings!

   I'm so proud of, and so in love with this man.  Congratulations +Stephen Duncan , I love you so much baby!