Wednesday, February 15, 2017

my calling. my gifting.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've really been pressing into the Lord to reveal what my gifting is in this life. I have this friend who knows very specifically what her gifting and calling is, and honestly, I find a little envy creep into the cracks of my heart. Not that kind of envy that says, "I hope she fails, and every other human who fully recognizes the calling God placed on their lives fails, too." No, in fact, I feel the very opposite. I want her to succeed. I want all of them to succeed and further the Kingdom. With every fiber of my being, I WANT THEM TO SUCCEED. My tinge of envy comes from wishing I knew exactly what my giftings are, too. I want to know without a doubt the special thing God has given me and use it with abandon. Lately, I feel like I can't figure it out... Like, did I know what it was before? and during the last 5 years when I lost sight of who I was, did I lose sight of my talents and gifts and calling? Or did I never really know it to begin with? Or is the Lord dangling it in front of me and I am too blinded by other things of this world to even see it? I am not sure.

I am currently doing a Bible study that, honestly, I have kind of put off doing this week. I waited til one day before I needed to finish it to even open it. Wouldn't you know it that the very thing that has been on my mind, bothering me, bringing me to my knees is the very thing the study talks about this week?! Geez. The Lord is definitely trying to speak to me, but what is He saying? Do you ever feel that way? Like, God, I hear you, I feel you, I see you, but I can't quite make it out, it's a little muffled, a little blurry. You're there. You're here, but the message isn't clear.  I think maybe I'm letting my distractions block his communications. Distractions like my phone. (amirite?) And my little concerns. My worldly distractions and my worldly concerns. These distractions are the opposite of being focused on God. These distractions are preventing the muffled, blurry image from coming through clear as day.

If I can't put these distractions away, shift my focus upward, then no, the Lord will not reveal my actual giftings to me. He will not ask me to fulfill my calling if I cannot focus on Him and his Word more than my things. (I'm sitting here writing this and laughing, because I am thinking... this is so NOT where I was going with this, yet this is what is flowing out of my hands and my mind.) All of these things are telling me I am storing my "treasures" in the wrong place. All of these things are proving that I harvest what I plant (Gal. 6:7). I am the world's best time waster. F'real. I love my sleep. I love my bed. I love my lazy. And I am so well aware that the Bible calls us to "never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically." (I forget the verse reference). And there was a time I did work hard simply to overcome the natural lazy body that lives within this chubby exterior. And I did overcome it. I truly did. I set aside the Netflix, I set aside my selfishness and need to be 'nuggled up in my bed. I set my own, personal, and selfish desires aside and lived on the Holy Spirit and his Bread.

But then, life happened. And I fell back into my lazy ways. And perhaps all of these things running rampant in my mind about not knowing my gifting and my calling is really just the Lord saying, hey. stop. stop toiling with this nonsense. focus back on ME. look up. reach up. breathe me in deeply. lean into me, lean into my chest, my embrace, my breathing, feel my heartbeat for you. lean into my Word, and all of those promises. and dear lazy child, lean into obedience.

Of course, obedience. Obedience brings forth so much fruit. So much. I came here to whine about not knowing my calling or giftings. I came here to say, wahhhh, poor me. But instead, I've given myself a Bible lesson. "Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." (Phil. 2:12b-13). Yes, Lord, I hear you. First, obey. Press into You, press into your Word. Then, listen. And most of all for right now, stop being lazy. Stop being selfish with my time and my time wasters. Got it.

Laying my real life confessions out there in the open world is hard to do. I do know I'm called to live an open book type of life, but it doesn't make it easy all the time to tell the truth about my walk with the Lord. I am a mess. I'm a messy human with a tendency to be self serving. Imperfect, though loved with a Perfect Love. I really think I'm being disciplined like a child, because let's be real, I'm acting like one. My discipline is well deserved. I read my Bible daily, I journal, I pray. But then I do not behave in a way that suggests I am truly soaking the truths deep down in the crevices of my soul. I can't just read these truths, then curl up in bed every day as if I have no goals to work towards to further the Kingdom. No, I must live them. Hour by hour, minute by minute.

I must walk in obedience and that first step onto that path for me: stop being lazy.


xoxo

Friday, January 27, 2017

budget probs.

The last sixteen years (the length of my whole marriage) I have been doing our bills and budget and everything that goes along with that. I actually really enjoyed doing the checkbook and making the budget each pay period and determining what gets spent where. That was my jam!! But over the last 3-4 years, I started loathing budget day. So bad that I slacked hard core on doing it half the time. I hated it. It was the bane of my existence. Or so it seemed, at least on actual budget day. I avoided talking about our money with Toby (unless he asked), I just hated it. In fact, I had a panic attack over money one day. And last year was the hardest on us financially in our whole marriage and that did not help me in the "hating finances" department. And I knew the Lord was telling us to get our crap together because we were not being good stewards in this area of our lives. I was having such anxiety over it all. My heart would race just thinking about finances. I would literally wake up in the middle of the night several times a week just thinking about bills and finances in general and stay awake for hours. I told Toby sometime last year, that if he ever wanted to take it over, I wouldn't mind. However, for some reason, part of me just held onto it, like it was my favorite teddy bear, but smelled like poop. So I was keeping it, because it was mine, but at arms length.

Then, our church decided to offer the Financial Peace University class and I KNEW we should take it (again), though I also knew I would need to change my wayward habits. Week one of the class asks you to go home and make a budget that week. So we did, the day before the next class. Toby wanted to work on it, and I was like, noooooo, cut me with a spoon instead!!!! But we did it. And homeboy actually woke up early the next day, skipped the gym, and WORKED ON THE BUDGET SOME MORE. What? Who is this guy?!

Over the next couple of days, it was clear he was actually enjoying this whole budget business. Oh my word, you should see the extensive spreadsheet that now exists! His nerdy nerd is coming out strong and I couldn't be more proud or more relieved! It had long been time to pass the torch but neither of us were quite close enough to get a grip or to let it go.

But then we arrived at the same spot at the same time and THE TORCH WAS PASSED! I knew I was feeling burdened by the finances, but I didn't really understand how burdened until I didn't have to do them anymore. I feel like the giant weight of being a terrible finance manager(ish) has been lifted. I'M FREEEEEE!

If you don't know much about Dave Ramsey or FPU, a quick google will help, but his method is the envelope system, where you basically use cash allotted to different areas of the budget, like gas, groceries, and entertainment, what have you. So I have now told Toby... just give momma cash for the weekly groceries, gas for my van, and a little burrito money and I'm a happy wifey. I will stick to your budget as long as I don't need to actually do it and I get my burrito moneys. Also, I may want five dollars for the Target dollar spot.

(Mind you, we never fight about money. We always talk about our big purchases. We NEVER hide purchases from each other. I H A T E those memes that say they hope the delivery guy drops off the packages before the husband gets home. How deceitful. We're very open and honest. Why would I hide purchases to willingly cause contention in our marriage? Neither of us are controlling over the other when it comes to buying small things.)

Sometime over this last year-ish, my husband has become even more of a servant in our home. Like, how could he even do more than he already did? But somehow, he is. He is serving us in a way I do not want to take for granted. I must remember to tell him more often how thankful I am. And now to serve our family by being our budget guru-manager-butt-kicker? Yeah, I'll keep him forevs.

xoxo

Thursday, January 12, 2017

heart healing.

Just after Christmas, I went home to visit my family with my kids. Toby had to stay for a little bit but then flew up to meet us and stay for the rest of our trip. Last year was difficult, man. Like, everything was hard, and hurt, and raw, and bleeding, and I felt so apathetic at times. It's been almost a year since we lost my Papa (my grandfather). He raised me right along side my Momma and my Nanny (my grandmother). I think I spent equal amounts of time with all three of them. Growing up, we lived next door to my grandparents the majority of the time. Papa was a quiet man, gentle. Children and animals both loved him, they were drawn to him. He was a soothing soul, a God fearing one, too. He made us coke floats before bed (my brother and me). He let us have ice cream on all the other nights. That's just something small, that at first read, seems insignificant. But it's actually those small, little memories that make such an impact. And thank the Lord, I have so many.

My heart has hurt so much since his death. I know for certain he is in heaven walking upright on healed feet. I know he's riding the most bad ass lawnmower ever and mowing the greenest, most lush grass we can only dream of. I know he's daily rejoicing with his Savior. I do know it. But even in that knowing, even though I have not felt angry that he had to leave his earth-side home, even in believing the Lord did right because, hello it's God, and He wanted His blessed son home. Even with all that, there is certainly still hurt. We all still hurt. So. Much. I have been very spoiled or lucky or blessed - call it what you will - but I had never lost anyone close to me, until Papa had to go. And I had my preconceptions about what loss is like when it's someone you really really REALLY love. Those are all out the window. I loved him something fierce, and I know that feeling was mutual. I miss him and his gentle presence. My heart has grieved this whole year. It comes in waves, this grief. There is no timeline to feel healed. Maybe you never do, I don't know for sure. I just know, I have a sore heart from losing him last year. Grief is hard. And by golly, just know, there is no timeline to feel better.

And I tear up as I even write these things. But when I was home, something shifted. A healing washed over me like the morning dew. It was fresh and crisp and beautiful and it glimmered.  Every morning, I got up and walked over to Nanny's house to have coffee with her. A few days I had to drink it quick and run, but I didn't miss a morning with her. There was something so sweet about being in their home and just listening to her chat about him. We cried, we laughed, we hugged, we talked and talked. But just sitting there, sometimes in his chair, letting my grandma talk about my grandpa and soaking in every. single. word. was so soothing. I wanted to hear about everything. I made sure to ask how they met once more, letting all the details come to life in my mind. She even apologized for talking about him "too much", but I said, NO! Do not apologize! Keep talking! I think perhaps, she needed to talk about him, too. Her faithful, sweet, loving husband whom I know she misses more than words can even describe.

It was so good for my soul, these morning chats. My heart will always long for him and the way he always smelled just after a shower every night and those pearls snap shirts and his love of after dinner sweets. He always had Little Debbies. But my heart is a little more put back together today. I can cry but still feel like I reached a place of healing. That is such a beautiful place. The hurt and healing all wrapped up together. God is so gracious to allow us people to love so fiercely. He is so gracious to walk with us and carry us through hurt and heartache. He is gracious to grant us healing.

"He heals the broken hearted and bandages their wounds." -Psalm 147:3

Sometimes, grief gets brought back to the surface only to be healed a little more. Sometimes, healing comes from where we least expect and when we least expect it. When it comes, embrace it, welcome it, encourage your heart to cry and sing all at once.



xoxo



like rain on dirt.

note: I started writing this in October, but got interrupted, because hashtag large family life. Wellllll, I also started co-writing a Bible study for women. Like, a real study with homework days and group discussions and scaryscaryscary, but I came back to this post I started and I finished it up because, God said so. And it fits perfectly (in my humble opinion). So there it is, my big THING that's gonna happen, this thing we've had in the works, this-big, scary, I don't know what I'm doing-dream. However, God is faithful. And IF I'm going to WRITE a Bible study, then by-golly, I am going to have to actually WRITE more often. So for now, I'm sharing this, because I just feel like someone needs to read it. I love you guys!

**********

I dealt with prenatal and postpartum depression for five years straight. My fourth child was about 10 months old when it first hit me. And I continued to struggle for those next five years through two more pregnancies and babies. My depression manifested in the form of frustration and anger and intolerance. My whole life felt like one big, giant valley that I could not climb my way out of. It was deep, so deep that I wondered if the Lord had forgotten me at times. But other times, I had such clarity that He was there, loving me through it, even if I could not sense His presence every waking minute.


One particular day, I was in a mood. I don't know really what that mood was, except that I wanted to literally feel the Lord all around me. I was longing for a physical touch from Him. Sometimes that happens, sometimes my heart longs so deeply for my real home that I just crave and desire to have Him manifest in front of me and whisk me into His arms.


You know how you hug someone you care about and they always have the same smell? When I hug my mom or my husband or my baby, I know their smell, and it's a comfort. I wonder what Jesus would smell like, sometimes. I think maybe it's that smell of a fresh rain on the dirt.


I was in such a state of longing that I had my Bible out, and I had some songs on my phone playing to just soothe my soul a bit. It was kind of a cloudy, gloomy day, which happens to be my favorite weather. And when I looked outside, I noticed the wind was picking up and the rain began to fall. All I could think was, this is Him. This is my hug. This is my touch from the Savior. I had the biggest need to walk outside and play the music and worship while the rain hit my face. So I did. And I cried with hands held open, palms upward (my personal representation of being open to what Jesus has for me). Tears ran. As I was going through this rough time, I could feel the joy of Jesus. It wasn’t instant happy, no, it was a resounding permanence that I would never be left alone in my valley. I would have a Savior by my side, both in front of me and behind me, hemming me in, pulling and pushing me up the side of the mountain, and carrying me when my burden feels much too heavy to bear. No valley is too deep for Him, and it that moment of rain soaking my face and hair and clothes, I was sweetly reminded that that truth is an unshakeable truth.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

october ONE.

It's crazy that another year is nearly gone.


It's crazy that this year
has brought a TEENAGER into my life,
that my baby girl turned one,
that I lived through and overcame post partum depression,
that I lost my grandfather, who helped raise me,
that I made new friends,
that I helped launch an entire women's ministry,
that we went through the hardest six months ever and lived to tell the tale.


It's been some kind of year! And I just pause and think about where I was one year and two years ago. You guys, I was suffering, internally suffering. My world two years ago a mess of pregnant hormones and prenatal depression. It was crumbling so hard and fast that I decided I was no longer mentally, emotionally, or physically equipped to homeschool my kids and I ran straight to the school and enrolled them. I spent nearly every day in bed for a minimum of half of my waking hours. I couldn't cook, I couldn't read, I couldn't speak to people, I could not even make decisions. I didn't know what to feed myself, I didn't know how to live my life. It was so sad. It was a deep, dark pit. I was not a great human being. I was mean and in a constant state of frustration.


One year ago, I had a bitty three month old, and things were looking up. The prenatal depression did not fully manifest into postpartum depression. (Praise God!) I had trouble getting my stride back, sure, but having my daughter sort of started a healing on my heart. She was a redemption song in my life. She was the last baby I never knew my heart needed. My boys are a part of my everything, without a doubt. But my baby number six, my daughter, she has completed us in ways I didn't know were possible. And juggling a newborn and going back to homeschool and not knowing about our job situation, it was all challenging back then.


Now, this year, this life. It's so beautiful. It's hard as heck some days trying to balance a busy, nursing toddler, while homeschooling five boys, and planning out ministry things, and then saying YES to even more scary things the Lord has asked me to step into. My heart is still healing, my heart still has moments where those dark feelings try to creep in and take over. But heavens, I am so thankful to be where I am today. To have found a hope to cling to when my daughter was born, to feel redeemed, to feel whole, well... that is one of the best feelings.


I'm certainly in a busy season in my life. And listen, y'all. I don't do busy. Like, ever. My kids aren't in activities, for that very reason. I'm fine with saying no when I need to, for realz. But right now, this busyness, I don't mind it. I am not complaining one bit. I'm just fully aware of what it is, I am acknowledging the busy. This busy is bringing me joy, perhaps even restoring some of it that has long been forgotten. Working for the Lord, not for man. Saying yes. Doing things afraid. Being fully myself, never too much, always enough. Remembering exactly who I am as Brooke, a daughter of the King. It's a glorious season, and I can't believe this is my life right now.

And we just can't believe it's October and we get to wear October colors!

xoxo








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