And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gabriel's Story

Today during my quiet time, God gently reminded me of a story that I wanted to share. Some of you may remember Gabriel Iancoluvich. Gabriel was a foreign exchange student who lived with Lance and his family for a few years while we were in college. He was here from Romania to attend Lamar. Believe it or not, his dad (who was born and raised in Romania) was a Southern Baptist minister. Gabriel loved the Lord, and one day he told us a story that I will never forget.

He said that during the late 80s and early 90s, Romania was involved in terrible civil struggles. It was not uncommon for fighting to break out in towns across the country when community leaders disagreed. One day, near his home, his dad witnessed a terrible scene.

A young boy was playing with a small ball toward the back of his house, which met up with the side of the town's square. The ball rolled out into a paved area between some shops in the square, as there were no fences. The boy followed the ball, but as he ran after it, he found himself in the middle of a skirmish. He was caught in the crossfire and fatally wounded. His father ran out of the house when he heard the gunfire erupt to retrieve his son and bring him safely inside. But it was too late, he saw his son only 50 yards away, laying prostrate on the ground, his blood pouring out.

The small skirmish concluded as quickly as it had begun, and people had already gone on to move about their business. They had become so accustomed to such activity that they seemed hardly shaken. But the father rushed to his boy's side, picked up the small child in his arms, and screamed to the crowd, "Get off my son's blood! You are walking in my son's blood!"

Gabriel said that when God first brought him to America, he thought of that story and how seeing blood had become so ordinary for his people that watching the boy die made little impact on their daily life. He also said that he believes Christians in this blessed country are guilty of the same, but on a larger scale.

We go safely each week to our air-conditioned sanctuaries to be filled with the Gospel message, a message that many of us have heard all of our lives. Some of us may even feel entitled to being made to feel good on Sunday or to certain rights we feel as Christians we deserve, like the right to worship to a certain type of music or the right to meet in a certain room or place.

If we are fed with the Living Word and the Saving Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us so much that He poured out His blood for us, but we do nothing to show that His sacrifice has impacted our lives, then brothers and sisters, WE ARE WALKING ON HIS BLOOD.

We do not deserve His love or His grace. We do not want what we deserve. But because He loves us so much, God watched His son bleed for our sins on a hard wooden cross. Today as this message ways heavily upon my heart, God I repent of complacency and self-righteousness that have left me walking through Your Son's blood. I do not want to live as I am unaware of the great sacrifice or untouched by the grace through which I am saved. Instead, I want to do whatever you ask, whether easy or hard, because you loved me first.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Mackenzie!

Mackenzie is four years old today! She has had a great birthday. On Saturday, Lance & I took her to Gator Country to celebrate her birthday. She loves alligators, which I have always thought is unique for a little girl. We don't know when or why her fascination with the animal began, but we know she loves anything alligator, including eating them.

Birthdays are always a big deal around our house, and the birthday boy or girl gets just about anything he/she wants. So when my precious little four year old asked for an alligator cake, I was determined to make it happen. If you have known me for very long, then you know I am not very artisitic. Nevertheless, I took on the project as a labor of love. You see, I had to make it myself because store bought is just not the same according to my husband who cheered me on from the couch. (Easy for him to say.) It actually turned out better than I had expected, and it was a huge hit with the birthday girl, which made every bit of the work worth it.

This birthday feels like a big one to me, and it is almost bittersweet. She seems more like a little girl than a toddler now. She will even be joining us in church from now on, as she is too old for the nursery. And she no longer uses a nuk!

We have been preparing Mackenzie for months that 4 year olds don't use nuks (our word for pacifier) because I am ashamed to admit she still used it during bedtime. Which means that tonight is the first night of her life that she went to sleep without one. She did really good. She cried a little, but not as much as I had expected. I hope the next few nights as we transition through this are as easy as tonight.

I am so proud of the little girl that she is becoming, and I pray everyday that she accepts Jesus at a young age so that she has a lifetime of serving Him. Happy Birthday Mackenzie! I love you!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Ugly Truth

As you could probably tell from my last post, God has really been teaching me a lot of things about myself lately. One of the things that He has shown me recently is that I spend a lot of time on my appearance. Not on my physical appearance, but on how people percieve me as a wife, mother, church member, friend, etc.

Today I sat in on an adult Sunday School class while Lance taught our kids because I had been wanting to participate in Beth Moore's new Esther study, and they were watching the video. The lesson really spoke to my heart. She talked about women being secretly competitive and comparing themselves to one another and how instead of spending so much energy on worrying how we measure up, we should love and support each other like sisters.

I felt convicted because I often hide some of my true struggles and shortcomings from even my dearest friends for fear of looking like I don't have it all together. In doing so, I am hurting myself because I am losing the opportunity to be ministered to, and I could hurt others because I am adding to the lie that in order to be a good mom, a good wife or a good Christian, we have to always have it all under control and figured out.

Well sisters, here's the ugly truth...I do not have it all figured out!

Sometimes I get so stressed during the day when I am trying to work on a grant, watch Mackenzie, and pick up around the house that I close myself in the closet for a few minutes because my heart gets pounding so fast and my head spins so much that I wonder if I am having a panic attack.

It has just been in the last three months that I have gotten back into a regular quiet time with God since having Mackenzie. For the three and a half years before that I fit one in when I felt it was possible, which was not very often.

Despite saying we would never do this, Lance and I have argued in front of Mackenzie more than once.

I have let friends share their struggles with me and I have gone through the same thing, but I did not tell them.

I have pretended to be awake when being woken from a nap by a friend's phone call for fear of looking lazy or unproductive.

I have told friends I am praying for them when I was not.

And finally, I have pretended to be sleeping to keep from having to get up with Mackenzie or participate in other evening activities (you can use your imagination here ladies).

So there it is girls. I know that is an ugly truth, but I have come to realize that it is the truth that God can use. He can't use a pretty picture that I work so hard to paint, and He certainly can't use a liar.

I am not perfect or even near perfect. But I am a work in progress. And God has brought me to the place where I realize that I would rather have some sisters who know the real me and love me anyway than have to play the game of fake superwoman. I am not a superwoman, but God is a Super God.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Send the Rain

Although this summer has been a busy and fun time for my family, I have been feeling lately that my day is filled with a lot of meaningless activities. Don't get me wrong - raising a child is one of the most important jobs I think God can give you, but I also cloud my day with obsessing over a clean house or a well-prepared meal. I stay busy alright, but am I just busy or am I fast at work doing what God has called me to do.

God has really been talking to my heart lately about surrendering my desires to Him and allowing Him to mold and transform my life into His plan, not mine. For eleven years, Lance went to Lamar and devoted himself to two degrees, which I am so proud of him for earning. We always thought that May 2009 would be some kind of finish line, like the work would be over and our life could start. Now it has been three months since he graduated, and God still has not sent a new job his way. We are so blessed that he has a secure job and that I can work on the side so that our family's needs are met, but we always thought we had our lives planned out. A would happen then B would happen, etc.

Instead, God is using this "in-between" time to teach us some very important lessons. On the way to Dallas a few weeks ago, we watched "Facing the Giants." The premise of the movie is being willing to face the giants in your life because you know that you are not fighting alone. At one point in the movie when the main character is feeling defeated, he cries out to God to "send the rain." Then he prepares for the rain because he believes it is coming.

After the movie, Lance pointed that last part out to me. He did not just ask for rain. He prepared the "fields" in his life and acted like rain was coming. I think this is where I fall short sometimes. I want God to send the rain or show me what He wants me to do. But do I really believe the rain is coming? He won't send it if I am not ready for it.

Right now in my life, I have realized that my family is just where God wants us - preparing for the rain. I am not sure what the rain will bring. It may relate to a job for Lance, but I have also come to realize that it may not have anything to do with that at all. I think for the first time in my life I am truly open to WHATEVER God wants me to do. I'm getting ready for him to send the rain!