It’s getting personal…

So I have been feeling rather guilty lately about quite a few things.  I seem to be taking everything very personally.  I feel bad about my lack of posts.  I can’t seem to get into the rhythm of regularly writing (or showering for that matter).  My  food intake could be made into the next fast food documentary and how it causes weight gain and lack of energy.  School has been hit or miss.  We did really well for one week.  The girls were on a rotating schedule for making breakfast and we had new “classroom” procedures that were catchy and cute that all the kids seemed to enjoy.  Then the weekend came and we fell off the wagon…and that was 2 or so weeks ago.  Really my guilt is subtle pride.  I wish I could be more, do more, and control more and think I actually possess the power to do so on a good day.  So, consider paragraph #1 my confession and repentance for all of that.  🙂

I also have been convicted about my disdain for pets.  We have a cat that I can’t stand.  He’s so full of himself and I have no compassion or affection for him.  Any animal that retaliates by pooping or peeing on their owner’s personal belongings shouldn’t be a pet in my opinion.  I take every act of defiance from the cat personally.  I think he knows I don’t like him and he knows he isn’t going anywhere either because my oldest daughter would crumble into pieces without him.  He’s got me right where he wants me and it drives me crazy. But the other day, I was reading Proverbs 12:10: “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”  UGH…really God? Now, I have to have regard for the life of the cat?  It’s so inconvenient when the Word gets personal.

Later that day, we were leaving a store and there were puppies outside who were up for adoption.  I had no desire to have another pet, but she was so darn cute and that stinkin’ Proverb was stuck in my head.  So, now we also have a puppy.  I guess Jesus is changing me.  Meet Phoebe:

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She is so sweet and her story is so sad.  She was found in a dumpster and rescued.  Then the family that initially adopted her had a Great Dane that kept sitting on her so they returned her.  All the misfortune of her short 5 months of life has softened my heart for her.

Jesus is working on changing more than just my compassion for animals.  Phoebe has dramatically changed our family routines for the better.  Now we go on walks and play outside much more.  She has snapped us out of an unhealthy physical lifestyle rut.  I am so glad that we gave in to those big ol’ bat ears of hers. 🙂  Through Phoebe, God has reminded me that we need routine that looks different for a different season in life.  I can’t expect to be transplanted from one place to another, keep the same systems and schedules, and be sane.

God has been reminding me here and there through friends and new acquaintances that times of transition and change can really send everyday rhythms and the best of intentions topsy-turvy.  I think God has purposefully introduced me to numerous people who school their children at home.  They have all reminded me that it’s okay to take this time to settle and find those new rhythms and that there is no set time limit on this particular season of life.  This season has included meeting new people and going to new places and just figuring life out again–and that takes time.  I am so thankful for the encouragement that the way things look right now is okay for right now.

Family Rehab has started to focus on personal growth and change and not just coming together as a family. It’s getting personal. Though life right now is at times uncomfortably new, I feel as though we are really walking in a new found health by being forced into trusting Jesus together as a family.  More and more I see how this move and ministry change has enhanced our  Family Rehab process.  There’s nothing like taking a fish out of its round bowl and plunging it into the sea to see what it’s really made of.  There have been times when I am fearfully hiding behind artificial purple coral and other times when I have puffed myself up like a blow fish to give the illusion of grandeur.  Neither is okay.  Neither is displaying trust in Jesus.  I am slowly learning to trust God in how He has made me, trust Jesus in how He has redeemed me, and trust the Holy Spirit in how He continues to transform me.  Every day I am presented with a new opportunity to check myself and my responses to my different surroundings.  I need to learn these things and apply them to my personal life if I want to effectively teach my children how to trust Jesus with the daily stuff.

This past weekend our family was invited to a birthday party.  We were going to be meeting a lot of new people, which for me can be quite overwhelming.  So my heart and my thoughts were already vacillating between fear and arrogance as we got in the car.  Everyone was to bring a favorite food or dish to share.  We decided to pick up some Chinese food from the amazing place we stumbled upon the week we moved.  Because of my anxiety about having to eat, talk, feed the baby, and juggle kids while maintaining conversation, a good disposition and keeping food off my face and out of my teeth, I decided to eat a few egg rolls in the car as we drove to our new friend’s house.  Those egg rolls were so satisfying.  (They deserve at least 30 minutes in my unhealthy food documentary.)

We pulled up to the house as I was cramming the last two-bites-worth into my mouth.  Grease ran down my chin and I panicked when I realized there were no napkins in the to-go bag.  Oh, great…what a way to meet people!  I grabbed something out of the diaper bag and quickly wiped what I could just as the rest of my gang piled out of the car.  No need for a last minute application of lip gloss when you’ve got egg roll grease!  I was instantly reminded of my uncanny ability to focus on the wrong things, fear the wrong things, and try to fix the wrong things.  The evening was wonderful and I had no problems with kids, or eating, or even spinach in my teeth.  (At least no one told me about it.)  It was just a gentle reminder that I am nothing more or less than what Jesus has made me to be…and that’s enough and just right for the season and place in which He has put me.

I don’t often possess that kind of strength and confidence in Jesus and His plan.  I usually feel as though I am not enough and  therefore, have to supplement what God has done for me and in me.  How arrogant!!  I can’t add to what He has done.  I can’t add to what He has called me to do for this particular season.  He knows what is best and He does more than enough to equip me for each and every thing.  He will equip me with time, resources, and His Spirit at just the right time.  And when He does, I will have so much to rely on that things will come with ease and joy.

It’s become a helpful thing to ask myself a few questions when I am met with these “out of fish bowl” experiences.  I need to make the experience a growth opportunity as part of my personal rehab.  First of all, I have to ask myself, “What emotion I am even feeling?”  I know this sounds a little ridiculous.  But I am learning that often the emotion that is seen on the outside, especially by others, isn’t really at all the emotion that is at the root.  When I lash out with impatience with my kids, it’s hardly because they have done something to drive me to that point.  It usually has to do with some insecurity I am feeling about something completely unrelated to them.  Or if I am feeling exhausted and tired, the emotion of sadness is usually at the root of my fatigue.  So it’s helpful for me to ask the question.  It can force me not only to take time to process what is really at the root of my behavior and outward emotions, but also snaps me out of whatever emotional outburst I am having. Then I am ready to deal with it and address the real issue.  Again, I need to learn how to do this myself if I want to train my children to have the same introspection.

It’s also helpful for me to ask myself the following two questions:  1) What is my fear/insecurity/worry saying about myself? and 2) What is my fear/insecurity/worry saying about my God?  Whatever the answers are, they usually are not true.  This process helps to identify the lies that I am believing and to see them as such.  Sometimes the fear or worry that I have is so unfounded and ridiculous, yet so covered in “valid” emotional responses to situations.  It seems really rational in the moment to be freaking out about egg roll grease, but what is that saying about myself and about my God?  It says that I am not capable of creating relationships unless everything is perfect.  That’s not true.  The most precious relationships that I have are the result of being imperfect around others.  It also says that my God can’t provide for me and has somehow forgotten about me and my situation.  But He can provide!  He does provide.  He continues to provide, whether that be time to eat food or someone to help feed the baby while I have a conversation.  And He hasn’t forgotten about me!  Even with slimy-feeling residue on my face, He is in control of the situation and has me in His hands.

Psalm 65:8-10 says, “so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.  You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.  You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.”

I’m learning.  We are learning.  It’s all a part of Family Rehab, which is shaping up to be a life-long journey.  And, it’s getting personal.  In and through God’s abundant water flow of provision, He is settling my ridges.  He is softening my heart.  He is causing me to grow.

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