Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hannah Turns 6

 Our little Hannah turned 6 years old on Wednesday.  It seems like just yesterday we were sitting in the hospital room having Tabby braid my hair and count the hours.  And we even had Toppers pizza fries delivered to my hospital room afterwards - who needs hospital food?!?!?

 School was canceled for her birthday thanks to over a foot of snow, which for most kids would have been ideal.  Not for Hannah.  It meant - no birthday dress to wear to school, not getting to take her cupcakes (which I was up late frosting Tuesday night for nothing by the way), not seeing her best friend, not hearing her name over the loud speaker, not getting to get to Happy Joe's, not getting to go to the Awana Fair, and so on.  After she spent some time crying it out, she got over it (for the most part).  It helped to have the neighbors bring presents, getting a birthday card in the mail, and Grandpa & Grandma bringing root beer floats (with A&W Root Beer) when they came to plow us out.  The picture above is how she wanted to "pose" and smile.  Is she 6 or 16?

 Since our plans had to change due to the weather, I dug through the cupboards and thankfully found an angel food cake mix so we could have a cake, but no frosting.  So I dug out some strawberries and put those on top, no whip cream only led to a minor meltdown.  I love the picture above.  Tyler was horribly grumpy all day and he didn't want to be in the picture.  But I made him anyway.  But he refused to face the camera.  So I said fine and took it anyway.  Chloe kept taking bites out of the cake, which led to some more meltdowns, but Chloe was laughing at least.

Tyler was better when I had him take a picture.  Me and my girls.  My Hannah is a treasured gift from God.  I see her growing so much and it honestly scares me a little bit.  I want to say slow down!  It is a lot of pressure to know that God has given me this child of his to raise and train to His glory.  And that one day, Jon & I will stand before Him and answer to Him for how we raised His children.  I ask God everyday for the strength and knowledge to raise His children to turn to Him for their every need, that He will be their foundation and their everything.  Hannah's faith and trust in God has become so much stronger this past months and I can see it!  I hear it in her comments, and her questions.  She is learning so much about her heavenly Father and I couldn't ask for anything more for her.  In our nightly prayer time, Hannah always ends with the same prayer, and I pray she always holds on to this promise from God...
"God, no matter what happens, with you, we will always be ok."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm Suppose to What?

Luke 6:32-33, 35-36
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

This past weekend I went to a marriage conference - which I might add, is a very scary thing to do all by yourself - but I got so much out of it that it was so worth it!  I would highly recommend Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage - the book & the conference.  In the last session he talked about the above verses and they hit me right in the heart.  It's easy to love the people that love you - because they love you in return.  It doesn't test your faith, patience, strength & perseverance to love those who love you like it does to love those who are your enemies - people that hurt you.  I'm suppose to love them God?  Really?  Do you know what she did?  But God, surely not him, not after this pain!  Yes, Kari - especially them.  My enemies are people that God loves, and God wants to see brought to His saving grace.  And if I am going to ask God to live in me, then I need to show His love to them too.  And He loves the ungrateful and the evil!  How do I do that?  Well, I am learning that with my own strength & determination, it's never going to happen - the pain is too great.  But the great news is that I don't have to do it on my own!  God is my source of strength to do the hardest things of my life - like being open to forgive and love those that have hurt me most.  It's not a switch I can flip, it's a journey and a process that God will carry me through.

The second half of the verse also hit me.  I am suppose to love and expect nothing in return?  I can certainly apply that to my marriage and other relationships, but God spoke to me in a way that I applied it to my relationship with Him!  I know that this trial is teaching me so much.  I am learning and growing in my faith like never before.  I have implemented so many changes with my kids, my deeply rooted and dangerous thought patterns and perceptions are starting to change with the help of my 4 counselors :)  My behaviors and reactions are so much more mature and healthy, I am becoming obedient to the God of my salvation and it is bringing me joy in a way that is not of this world.  BUT, that being said, I am caught in this destructive thought pattern that because I am growing so much - God has to answer my prayer how I want it answered.  I deserve this - look how hard I've worked!  I am entitled to this happiness and wedded bliss!  Yeah, well,  that's not how it works.  God doesn't make deals.  I don't deserve anything.  I am not entitled to one single thing on this earth.  What I do deserve is death for my sins and God sent His son to take the one thing I deserve.  I can never earn, or bargain for God's love or blessings.  I am (we all are) called to love God and expect nothing in return.  That takes real faith!  And for a "doer" like me, that's hard to accept - I want to know I'm doing enough and doing it right.  The good news of it is that I don't have to worry about doing enough good things - because no matter how much I do, that's not what will save me anyway.  So I am continuing to learn and grow on this journey.  I am a sinner saved alone by the saving grace of God and His mercy will get me through each step of the way.  So grab God's hand and do the hard things - love your enemies and expect nothing in return!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Idols and Trials

Isn't it strange, almost cruel, yet amazingly wonderful, how God can take a horrible situation to make me aware of my own sin and idols and then use it for His glory and my good?  I never would have thought that anything good could come from betrayal.  But everyday, I learn that God keeps taking me deeper and deeper into Him and His Word and His truth.  And what greater joy is there than that?!?!  That God is a loving, caring, personal and real God and He is out for my good?!   Every time I think "alright God, you've got me where you must want how about you work on him" - I learn that I am sorely mistaken because I have so much further to go.  Every time I think, "this hurts too much, get me out God" - I learn that God is faithful, and present and will get me through it.  (Maybe I should stop thinking so much!)

What am I learning?  God is mercifully showing me my idols.  We all have idols, and as long as those idols are at the top of the list, we keep God off from the top.  And God did not create and design me to have anything at the top except for Him.  Which means, because he loves me, he is going to bring down my idols.  So what's my idol?  I humbly confess that my idols are my marriage and my husband.  I do not know how to live without either one.  What's wrong with loving your husband beyond words?  What's wrong with wanting my marriage - something so wonderfully designed and created by God himself?  On the surface, nothing is wrong with those.  However, I, like many others, have put them above God.  I look to marriage and Jon to fill holes in me that they are not designed to fill, so it never quite works right.  I have big empty spaces inside that I have tried to stuff them into and it has failed miserably.  And it's not all their fault!  I have been failing to recognize that the only thing that can do it is God!  "You complete me" should never be said to another person.   The only one that can complete me is God.  Marriage and husbands are true blessings from God.  They are to be treasured and cared for and loved - for the purpose of bringing glory to God, not to make myself feel better.

I have been wrestling with God for this control for so long.  How can I give up my idols God?  What if you don't come through for me God?  If I give them up, what do I have left?  These are good, godly requests I am making of you - what's so wrong about that?  And God just keeps waiting for me to tap out.  To finally fully submit to His plan - His plan for my good.  To have faith that He will come through for me, that what I have left is all I need - God Himself!  These are good, godly requests.  And I will continue to bring those requests to Him many times, every day.  But I have to give them up as idols in my life.  And that is so hard, and I know it will take time.  But with God's grace and mercy I will leave them at His feet to take care of.  And I will rejoice in the knowledge that God loves me enough to take me through this fire!  Father, keep me in the trial!  Teach me everything you want me to learn in this trial!

Hebrews 12:5-11
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, not be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.  It is for discipline that you to endure.  God is treating you as sons.  For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.  Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."