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365Expressions

Writing these "letters" has helped me to process life as a new mother, remain thankful, and come awake to the little moments that make this pretty challenging season simply wonderful.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 220...freedom in Christ

I'm so glad we aren't living according to laws and regulations anymore! That was the old covenant. Now we are of the new! God writes his law on our hearts, and His Spirit will let us know what walking in the spirit looks like, what is loving, what is good and right and just. What it means to love your neighbor as yourself. I'm so glad, because the Bible tells us we'd never be able to live according to all of the commandments! Now we have something better!

So the next time you're afraid of falling, or feel like God is looking over your shoulder, waiting for you to mess up, think again. Let your mind be renewed, and live to love God. Then love others.
If you want to live by rules, let these be your guide.

Dear Sadie

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 219...amazing daddy

Sickness is really the pits. Titus has got a bad, bad cold. And on top of that, I'm caring for Emma, who is one year-old and going through a clingy phase. So guess what, you're having to play by yourself a lot right now. Good thing you are pretty experienced at that and you enjoy your "Sadie Time," but you need me just like the other kids do, it's just that something's gotta give. We squeeze in time together here and there, but I'm thinking some "Girl Time" is in order very soon. I can just see your cup becoming filled as we will laugh and talk and sing and get ice cream on our next date, and whatever else we decide to do together. It'll be fun not just for you, but for me as well, because I love being able to focus all of my attention on you. You are so interesting and I love you!

I was just standing here in my kitchen doing dishes, feeding Emma, when the thought just occurred to me...

I'm so glad that God has time for attending to all of His children, all at once! Isn't He amazing? Aren't you glad that God doesn't say "in a minute?" I just think it is so cool that we have access to our daddy anytime we need Him. We don't have to wait to have our love cup filled; He is always available, ever-ready, continuously without fail.

Dear Sadie.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 218...express

Self-expression is an innate need of every human being. God Himself expresses Himself through His Word and creation. We, animals, plants, planets, and on, are all expressions of God, originating in His own mind. Therefore, as God's most prized possession, and special expression, being the only ones to ever be made in His own image and likeness, we have inherited this trait and desire and need for expression. We create all of the time on various forms. Finding the means by which you express yourself best is the fun part, and very important too. We are all designed with different talents and abilities, but never let that idea inhibit your choices, whether or not to explore new methods of creativity and expression. Never let the enemy cut you down in thinking that you have nothing to give. There may not be "anything new under the sun," but we have "the mind of Christ," and if we seek Him, He will show us great and marvelous things that no eye has seen nor ear has heard. So go on, be like your Daddy. He is proud of you and thrilled with your every endeavor that seeks to honor and glorify Him alone. It may be a little intimidating at times, but don't let pesky fear stand in your way.

Dear Sadie.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 217...they let me out

It's crazy, you are with your kids all day and desperately need to get out of the house and be recharged a bit, and all you can do is think about how amazing your kids are and how great your life is, even with all the messiness.

Daddy just sent me the sweetest memo of you saying what you live about me, and now I can't wait to get home and hold you again!

I got out of the house tonight because I couldn't remember the last time I had done this, so I thought that was a good time to recharge my battery and get alone with God.

And as much as I knew I needed this, I really didn't want to leave! So I'm at the bookstore for the evening to have some needed separation, but I can't wait to be home again! Thank you, Lord, for sweet dilemmas!

Dear Sadie.

Day 216...live well, love well

Being with tiny people all day with very little big people interaction is something.

When I signed up for this, I really did not think it was going to stretch me so. But it has. More than anything. It feels freeing to admit this.

I am daily humbled through mothering. I lay aside my plans (most of the time) so that I can meet the needs of my little sheep. I go minute-by-minute, drawing strength from My Strength. Without Him, I would have caved in by now. But I keep going because He is with me, speaking to me, giving me peace, satisfying me whenever I set my heart on His, reaffirming me through His Word, comforting me by His presence, letting me know that He sees, even when no one else does.

When I'm being pulled in four different directions, including my own, I have a choice. I can either go crazy, try and fail, or I can depend on Him for my every need. No brainer, but stupidly, I choose my own way or try to check out sometimes, and it always backfires on me. Gently He redirects me.

Ultimately though, I choose to be thankful, and the blessings continue to shower down on me. Never did I know where challenge and joy intersected one another until this season. And I know when it all starts to shift I'm going to cry! I have to live each moment or I will have regrets. And my dear, you need me now, but one day you'll not need me as much anymore. That makes me sad. But also all the more diligent to give my all. My sole desire is to, as if i can summarize this, know God and spread the real love of Jesus. I know you are my chief audience, looking to me for answers and truth, imitating every move I make. (Yikes! :) So I strive to love God well by loving you well. Thanking Him for the grace to do this.

Dear Sadie.

Day 215... My Life

I find myself analyzing my life way more than I want to. Why can't I just lose it?

Dear Sadie.

"Whoever would save his life will lose but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospels will save it." Mark 8:35

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 214...nothing at all

I haven't written in awhile, not because I haven't wanted to, but because I haven't had much to say. I know that is strange coming from me! But I always think I should have some sort of lesson or story to share, but lately I've been more internalizing things and writing in my personal journal. This is good, but not very useful to you! I promise I am trying though!

I love this season of Fall. I don't like winter coming too fast, and I am always looking forward to the cooler weather while we are in the humid, sweaty months of Summer. So here we are, and I am loving it! I'm surprised I don't have more to say in this season yet, because it always makes me more contemplative. But here I am going on about the weather! Haha. Oh well! It is what it is!

Dear Sadie.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 213...crazy messy beautiful

It's funny, after a long day of crazy here, messy there, I put you two down to bed and feel tired but at peace with the blessings in my life.  When you have Jesus, there's literally no words to describe the peace and joy that are deep in your spirit.  It's not conditional to how well your day did or didn't go, it's just there.  He is there.  He never goes away.  He really does satisfy my soul.

Dear Sadie.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 212...God's Book

I'll never forget the day when I made it point for the first time to tell you how true the Bible is.
Being surrounded by fairy tales and movies and books all of the time as kids, it's easy to combine God's Book with all the other made up stories, even if it captures our hearts in a unique way.

So on this particular day I say to you something like, "Sadie, the Bible is true.  Every word is true.  These aren't just made up stories, like Cinderalla or Dumbo.  These things actually happened."

You look at me very confused..."No, it's not."

I continue to explain, and finally you reason, "But they wear all those funny clothes.  We don't wear clothes like that!"

That makes so much sense!  Of course a four year-old who only knows the context of clothing in which she lives would wonder what on earth the robes were all about!

Finally, after more explanation, you seemed to understand.  Glad we got that cleared up!

Truly though, I can't wait for the day until the truth of God's Book really takes root in your heart, and you live it out as it penetrates your very being in a very real, very active way.  

Even now, Lord!

Dear Sadie.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 211...the book story

"You're supposed to be lovin meeeee!"  you sobbed with such force it made my heart stand still.

I was in a mood.  During playtime, you had drug more than half of your books off the shelf and into the living room.  I didn't see you do it or I would have stopped you.  We stacked them all on the chair and I half-scolded you for doing it, more bewildered that you did it than anything.  You didn't see anything wrong with your idea.  You had a reason for doing it, but neither of us were sure of that reason after the fact.

"Okay," I said.  "Carry the books back here to the shelf.  I'll help you get them on there."

You decided that the one-by-one method of restoring the books back to their home would suffice, but I quickly grew impatient of the whole ordeal.

"This is taking way too long," I huffed, watching you slowly stroll back and forth across the room, handling each and every book as if it were a carton of 36 eggs.

I soon resolved to do it myself and dismissed you of your responsibility in the matter and ordered you to get upstairs and get ready for bed.  My tone was way overboard.

"You're supposed to be lovin' meeeee!"  The genuine tears of my gentle girl came a-rushing.

It was with those words my heart went from 52 degrees to warm like melted butter.  I scooped you into my arms, and right away, you could tell your mommy was sorry for taking whatever it was I was feeling out on you.  You knew you didn't do anything wrong.  I knew it.  We both knew it.  You bounced happily upstairs as if nothing at all went wrong.

I wish I had that kind of forgiveness, and forgetfulness.  Once again, little teacher, I thank you.

Dear Sadie.

GOD... "I will not remember your sins."  Isaiah 43:25

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 210...Happy Problems

This is just so cute I have to share it...

I could think of a nifty spiritual lesson to come out of it, but maybe I'll just keep it for what it is...a cute story.

We were sitting together working out some math problems, some very basic addition facts, using cheese nips as visuals, gluing them all down on our orange construction paper. We were having fun, and the concepts were coming together.  I was being careful to use language that was somewhat unfamiliar to you so that you'd begin to form a context for how they were used...plus, add, altogether, equals, etc.  Though it never occurred to me the word "problem", as in math problems, would sound strange to you, but it did.  We were all done, wrapping up the lesson when you said, "But these were happy problems, right mama?"  I just had to laugh.  Happy problems.  You could say that!  :)

Okay, so I can't write that without giving a quick application...I'm just that nerdy, okay!?

When we encounter problems, trials, persecutions, hardships on earth, especially ones that come to us for being believers, we are to count them as all "joy."  Sound weird?  Maybe, but that's what the Word says.  It means we are living honorably unto Him.  Consider it pure joy.  Consider it a "happy problem," for there is no greater suffering than the kind that is for Jesus' sake.  After all, He did give us His life so that we might have life!

There.  Happy problems!

Not only that...but also when we encounter something that seems so impossible, remember that it's a doorway through which God steps in and does the unthinkable.  Rather than look at a problem as impossible or hopeless, open your faith door and let Him show you just how amazing He is!  That way, our problems can always be happy problems...for He knows the way!

Dear Sadie.

"Jesus said...With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."  Mark 10:27

Day 209...faithful servant

My strength + My understanding = Failure

His Strength + His Wisdom = Miracles

It's basically the process of dying to self that keeps us going in the right direction.

I've had to learn this lesson in a big way when I was in complaining mode on the other side of the world.  After three years in Korea, I began to feel deep, disheartening unrest.  I remember one day sitting in the bathtub reading the familiar passage in Matthew when it struck me,

"Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."  Matthew 25:24

At that time, I wanted more.  I wanted to be in Africa where there were starving and dying people everywhere, desperate people in need of a touch from God.  I felt so desperate myself to get out of the slump I was in, teaching "rich" kids who all had to have the latest cell phones.  I was being selfish.  Selfish?  Selfish to want to give my life over to the poor?  Yes.  Selfish and self-centered to demand more, to not be content with God's will for me.  To not be faithful with the few that were given to me.

Still now today, working in the home and not having a "job" has become more of a difficult path than I ever imagined.  I shouldn't say that I don't have a job.  I do care for children besides my own, too.  But what I mean is, I'm not pursuing my career or on the mission field that I once enjoyed.  (Yes, I loved serving in Korea with all of my heart!)  I didn't actually make plans to be here, it's the path God has led us down through various circumstances.  Some women knew they'd be doing this all of their lives and never wished for anything more.  They must be so content!  I'm not saying I'm not content a lot of days.  I'm just saying, this has stretched me more than I ever could have imagined.   Even now that I've begun homeschooling you at four years-old (although that really began when you were an infant!), there are days when I want to throw in the towel and say, "She'll have much more fun at school!  I'll just enroll her!"  But then I stop and think about it and wonder what it is I am saying!  This is God's will for us.  This is what we're doing.  And I can't quit every time it gets hard.

Being faithful with the little things.  If there are days when I do nothing else but read with you, then I have to be okay with that! If we have days where there is a lot of productivity and lots of laughing, I am in heaven!  The hardest part for me sometimes, I think, is not having the adult interaction I once had.  I love to be around people and have that kind of connection.

All of this is stretching me big time.  It's a big part of what led me to start writing you.  I want you to know your mommy through this season in a way you can't possibly know at four.  We are so close, it's hard to think about you not really "getting" me on every level right now.  I am deeply, deeply touched by our close relationship and intimacy we share.  I wouldn't trade a thing in the world for it.  I pray we share this deep of a connection until Jesus comes back.

So to end, be faithful with the small stuff.  Do not rely on your own plans, your own understanding, even your own strength.  If you do, God will not be able to show you how big He is.  Be faithful with whatever He gives you, and He will do the miraculous.

Dear Sadie.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 208...I want to get lost in Him!

Let's see if I can capture in words just how profoundly this author, Katie Davis, has touched me.  Her story, really her testimony, has opened up a new place in my heart so unexpectedly.  I started reading her book not too long ago.  Her passion for Jesus shines through so vividly, it could never be mistaken for anything else.

She moved to Uganda fresh out of high school and followed the Lord's leading into the adoption of thirteen children!  Her heartfelt tale has truly begun a reviving in mine.  I can honestly relate to her love for Jesus, and her passion for the lost, dying and lonely children on the earth, wherever they may be.  She just chased after her dream, into a calling clearly from the Lord, where He has blessed her every step of the way.  I am still in the middle of the book, Kisses from Katie, and I can't put it down.  It's so compelling, so inspiring, I just know it's full of God's heart and purposes, a Word to all of us believers.

I'm going to to try and convey what the Lord has been stirring within my spirit since I began reading the book, but I already know that my words are going to fall short of what I am experiencing.

You see, I thought maybe that reading a story about a girl who left everything to minister to children in a foreign land, one of the most destitute places on earth, poverty-stricken, the whole nine yards, would make me envious.  She is living a life I could envision myself living as a young person.  Even now, the Lord knows I would not hesitate to sell everything and move my family to an area where we could, as a family, bring the gospel of light into the darkest places.  But envy and jealousy are far from what I'm feeling.  If anything, she's reminding me of the serious call that the heart of a mother entails.  Her life is completely and totally yielded to the heart of God.  His heart for adoption, for children, for the poor and needy, are unmistakable in her life.  Where do they exist in mine today?  These have always been the cry of my heart.  You can't miss them in Scripture.  But if there were just one thing that I'm taking away, okay maybe two, two things that I'm hearing, they are this...Love the person right in front of you, right now, today, right here....And two, lose your life to gain it.  I feel renewed in my passion at the moment to do these two things.  And I feel confident in trust that the Lord will take care of the rest.

For example, I have the opportunity to love my children, plus two other children, not to mention my husband, in many tangible, practical ways each and every day.  It's not explicitly rewarding, not seen or glorious, not making me rich or even famous.  But in God's eyes, it is glorious.  It is beautiful.  And too, I have been given the opportunity to lay my life down, lose it really, for my immediate loved ones (and hope to lose it way more than I am now!). Would I choose to lay aside my lifelong dream of being a missionary and working with children, many children, all to be staying at home, only impacting a few kids, with no plan for the future?   How did I get here?  But I am learning how to be content.  Paul spoke of contentment with plenty and with little. This goes for "ministry" as well.  Whether I think I'm doing "big" things for God, or "little," what matters is...am I listening to Him, fellowshipping with Him, giving my everything to Him, in every relationship I encounter?

I am being stretched more than I have ever been stretched before.  More than being a teacher to bunches of kids.  More than when I lived out of my comfort in a foreign land.  More than when I was separated from loved ones for thousands of miles.  I am being stretched and turned inside out.  And that is what Katie is reminding me of.  That is where the center of God's will is for me, and for you.  It's where God is teaching you, showing you His grace, being your strength when you have none, and getting the glory for it all. That is the place I am in.  I'm not saying I've succeeded in this. I fail continuously.  But to experience His grace through the learning process, now that is a blessing in itself.  I have shown some pretty ugly sides to myself, to my kids, to my husband.  I have felt anger rise up from the inside that I never knew could exist.  I have let depression in when I felt I could be doing so much more than I am able, or should be doing more than I am, feeling that what I do is not good enough for God, or simply just not enough.  I am ashamed of my attitude, my struggles, my heart that has turned cold towards Him.  For the ungratefulness, for the lack of trust.  Finally, I am coming out of all that and into days of true thankfulness and contentment, and even more importantly, fervor and hunger like never before.  For this season I am truly grateful.  I know that right here and now, God is shaping me into His image.  He is doing it through means I never knew He would.  I feel so close to Him, so in LOVE with Him.  Katie has reminded me of the Jesus I knew from the beginning.  That may sound strange for a believer of twenty-eight years, but it's for real.  We all need a wake up call to rise up and see Him for who He really is, once in a while.

As for the future?  My heart to be a missionary?  My desire to travel?  My intense need to live on very little so that others can have it all?  To show my children what it means to lose their life through practical, Christ-centered living?  I have no idea how it's going to look, where we'll all end up.  I only know to set my gaze upon Him, and listen...He is the One who knows best and has it all under control.

Thank you, Katie Davis, for chasing your dream, for loving Jesus, for being a living example of a life lost and found, for loving His little precious sheep, and for sharing your story.  I'm so glad I'm not finished with your book yet!  And I'm so glad God's not finished with me either!

All of our stories are different.  We have different paths to take, but the same Maker.  The same destination in the end.  I hope I choose His way, and I hope you, Sadie, will find your calling to be sure, clear and an adventure worth telling the world about, for His sake.

Dear Sadie.

P.S. There is so much more to this story, but this is all I can really say at the moment...thank you, Lord for teaching me, for Your patience with me, for never being done with me.  Thank you for wanting to do way more through me than I could ever dream up on my own.  Thank you for the beautiful family I get to take care of every day.  I am beyond blessed!

Whoever tries to keep His life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  Luke 17:33