1 year ago, I started this blog. I started it as a way to clear all the thoughts in my head. I started it as a means of documenting (and saving for our future) family memories written out in stories and pictures. I started it as a way to share the laughter of our home that is sometimes just so contagious it can’t help but be spread… and because it would really be a crime to keep it just to ourselves. I started it as a way of redemption. Turning our sorrows and hurt and anger and sin into God’s glory. And I started it as a way to heal my soul and to maybe – just maybe – help heal someone else’s in the process.
1 month ago, I wrote this post: times they are a changin – Part 1* about big changes for each member of the family (except me.) “Part 1” indicating – obviously – there would a Part 2 (my changes) to follow. Part 2 didn’t come. Not right away, at least.
*Quick update on Part 1: Jacob is fully potty trained. Done. With. Diapers. And still seriously cute. Annalise’s tooth fell out and the new one has started to scoot forward into place. (Phew.) She, too, is still seriously cute. Izzy’s tooth-and-other-parts-removal was a success, and she is now a much more tolerable mutt. Most of the time. And Matt’s business changes continue. Awesome new website. Check it out!… Later. First finish reading.
Sometimes, there are thoughts in my head that grow and fester and have to be written down before they disappear. Or so I can get some sleep. Other times, they need to stay. Marinate a while. To develop fully, or at least just develop more. The Part 2 post was one of the latter.
My thoughts about the heart changes I referenced in “Part 1” were reflections on New Year’s thoughts. You know the story: End of year comes. I avoid making resolutions that I know will last for maybe a week and promises to myself that I will break in as short of a time. So instead, I decide to spend time reflecting on the past year.
I don’t know about you, but the second I begin reflecting on the past year – or really, the past anything – I instantly focus on all the things I didn’t do. All the ways I wasn’t a good friend, wife, mother, daughter, sister, co-worker, teacher. All the opportunities I didn’t take, the weight I didn’t lose (or lost and gained) and all the times I didn’t measure up. And yes, I also think about the things I did do. I did lose my patience with the kids too many times. I did snap at them and my husband. I did waste time in countless ways. (Um, hello, Facebook.) I did run late. Nearly. every. day. I did fail in a million other ways.
So reflecting on the past year – or past anything – isn’t always such a great idea for me. I’d say it actually kind of sucks. It tends to put me in a funk. The longer the period of time I’m reflecting on (and beating myself up over), the greater and longer-lasting the funk. This particular funk lasted about 3 days. For 3 straight days, I felt sorry for myself. I felt useless. Forgettable. Insignificant. In some ways, helpless. And in every way, a failure. Anxious and fearful of more failures to come.
During this 3-day-pity-party I devoted all my time and energy into… doing puzzles. Matt thought I was just enjoying the end of my Christmas vacation by relaxing. In actuality, I was trying to turn my brain away from having to think about anything except I need a piece with horizontal white stripes that has 3 outies and one innie.*
*Side-note here: I’m a puzzle pro. Seriously. Two 500 piecers and one 1000 piecer complete in three days… Um, yeah, it was a serious funk. And while not much else got done around here, I’m pretty sure the kids were fed. And I showered almost all of those 3 days.
But then, at the end of my 3-days, I had a moment of clarity. A thought that was a break in the clouds: “As long as they remember seeing Jesus.”
In that one moment, the clouds lifted and the truths I know came flooding into my mind. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” No guilt for things done or not done. “I am significant, accepted, and secure in Christ.” No more pity-parties about being insignificant and forgettable. “I am God’s child, and I am complete in Christ.” No more feeling like a failure. In Him I am complete, and He loves me completely.
And then, the thought again. “As long as they remember seeing Jesus.” My job. This is my job. However successful the world sees me, whatever my accomplishments, what I do (or don’t do) matters little if while I’m doing it (or not doing it) I’m not reflecting HIM. How people remember ME is insignificant. How they remember HIM is of eternal significance. “As long as they remember seeing Jesus. I WANT MY LIFE TO COUNT.”
For the first time in years, I made a New-Year’s resolution. Let them see Jesus. The heart-changes were beginning, but the words to write not-yet formed.
The following Sunday, our pastor shared a message that was intended just for me. I’m certain of it…
Sermon title “A Cause Worth Living For.”
Sermon point number 1: The Gospel magnifies the heart of God. In my written notes, a quote from the sermon: “We have come to know the Heart of God. And we owe it to those who don’t yet know to tell them.” Again I think, let them see Jesus. How will they know of His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His unending love if they don’t see Jesus. Oh, if they only knew!
There were a couple other points, but my sermon notes page is mostly full of chicken-scratched-heart-changing-thoughts-turned-words-now-formed:
- When I am anxious and fearful – even of my future failures – I rob God of the trust He is due.
- LET THEM SEE JESUS. What does it matter about me? AS LONG AS THEY SEE JESUS. HIS GRACE.
- I WANT MY LIFE TO COUNT.
- The Holy Spirit wants to invade
our lives my life with His power. JUST LET HIM.
And our church’s scripture memory verse for the month, handed out that day: But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ~ Acts 20:24 ESV
Point taken. Message received. My job: Let them see Jesus.
But who? Who is them? For the next few weeks, I made a mental list of all the major “thems” in that sentence. My kids. My husband. Serve them. Love them. Show them patience and grace. Be intentional with the kids – why we’re doing what we do. My students. I cannot speak of God’s love, but I can show them. Show them more love and grace than they’ve ever known. Neighbors. Co-workers. Friends. Grocery clerks.
In my mind, I’ve screamed, “But it’s not enough. My students – I can’t tell them. My husband and kids – they already know. There are too many others. Too many that don’t know. I’m not doing enough.”
Yes, there are others. But for now, I am here. I am a mom of two littles. I am a teacher of 27 slightly biggers. I am a wife. I don’t have a whole lot of time to reach a whole lot more. This is where God has me right now.
My job: Let them see Jesus. My kids. My husband. My students. And any others I may be blessed to encounter. Show them Jesus.
This is where I settled my thoughts just 2 weeks ago.
And a few days later, a friend pointed out that my blog often brought a message of hope. YES! A means to reach more. I got excited, inspired! I post. People read. Lots more than I ever thought would. And even if my parents are half of the clicks on this blog, there are still many, many more than I imagined. I don’t even know some of you! Yet, you read. Maybe God has brought you here! Maybe here you will see a bit of the love and grace and mercy of an incredible God who loves YOU so much more than you could imagine!
My thoughts further settled here. Just a week and a half ago…
But then a few days later, something happened. Something happened that made me so fearful, I took it all down. I hid all the love and joy and stories of God’s grace, and I wept and locked all the doors and closed all the blinds and held my kids tight and shook-with-anger-but-mostly-with-fear. And I decided I would not post again. It was not worth it.
Sisters called and loved. Family came and prayed. Friends told me they understood, but they’d miss reading of the laughter and the joy, and of God’s love.
And while I still shook-with-anger-but-mostly-with-fear, something else happened. Two horrible somethings that left me trembling. Left me wanting to hide. Left me hating this world and many of the people in it.
And then today my husband, my husband who shook-with-fear-but-mostly-with-anger right beside me, reminded me that even those who caused me to fear need to see the love of God. Even they are God’s children. Yes, He loves even them. And our children, they are His children, too. And just as our dear family that came to pray reminded us, HE is also THEIR God.
And our God is sovereign.
More truths flooded my heart. Yes, flooded. I battle fear often. I’ve read these truths a time or two-hundred. They come to mind more quickly now: (see full list below, emphasis my own)
I have NOT been given a spirit of FEAR, but of power, and of love, and of a sound-mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
…I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me… ~ Psalm 23:4
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1
Thoughts whirling in my head: Let them see Jesus. Do not be afraid.
And then my husband – who I’m fairly certain based on lots of circumstantial evidence cannot read the thoughts in my head – said to me, “You don’t know who might see Jesus when they read.”
times they are a changin’: Part 2… I have a new job: Let them see Jesus.
And so, with still-very-shaky-legs I stand on the firm foundation of Christ and use this space, what He has provided me – at least for the moment – to magnify His heart. Some of you already know of His great love for you. Some of you don’t. Either way, I hope you keep reading.
And I pray you see Jesus.
*More Biblical truths about fear that I am clinging to:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:6
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? ~ Psalm 56:3-4
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
No weapon formed against us will prosper, No evil formed against us shall stand. ~ Isaiah 54:17
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
And to two of you – you know who you are – I am doing what you said. I am bathing in Psalm 91. You are such a gift to us.