Jesus

How a Mom Fights for Joy- A personal reflection: part one.

This past week I sat down to spend some time relaxing while Ellie took a nap. I tuned into one of my favorite podcasts Revive Our Hearts. I needed a break and just wanted to rest.  I was feeling tired, overwhelmed and just exhausted as a mom and wife. As I searched for a podcast to listen to, I came upon this one. I sat on my bed and listened; suddenly the tears began to flow.

My heart had been so heavy with guilt about not spending time with Christ, I was struggling to find five minutes of my day to spend in His word. I was so weary. I also struggled with my identity…I often thought, “Gosh, am I just a mom? A wife? Who am I?” I felt like I was in a never ending cycle of these thoughts and this continual feeling of guilt.

However, the Lord really spoke to my heart through this message. He showed me my need for change and gave me peace and joy while listening to Jani Ortlund, the guest speaker on the series. So today I want to present part 1 of my reflection to this message. Maybe you too have felt the same way and the Lord can speak truth and love into your heart today. 

16174669_10154496678628842_6262922117756441392_n.jpg

(Please if you get the time listen to this podcast series. It is entitled Missional Mothering. It is a five part series that speaks to young mothers and grandmothers alike.)

 

1. Who you are as a Christian is more important than who you are as a mom.

This has been something the Lord has revealed to me in the last couple of weeks and rang true again when I heard Jani (the guest speaker) talk about it on the podcast. I am a mom and a wife, but that is not who I find my identity in.  Motherhood is my ministry, not my identity. Being a wife to my husband is my ministry, not my identity. It's so freeing to know that's not all I am.

When my relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life, everything else falls into place. He has blessed me with a husband and daughter, but nothing takes the place of being a follower of Christ. The reason I am here on this earth is to bring glory to His name, to show other's the love and salvation He offers and to continue to seek after Him. 

(I love this list that describes who we are in Christ, it's so encouraging to see who I am in Him.)

 

2. If you're putting in here [your heart] worry, fatigue, resentment, fears, that's what's going to come out, But if every morning you're meeting with the grace-giver, you'll have more grace to pass on to your kids.

In Matthew 15:18 it says that the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart. I know in my own life I spend countless hours worrying and giving into fears which causes me to be exhausted and overwhelmed. These are the things I dwell upon. I am putting them in my heart and am constantly seeking and thinking about them whether it's conscious or not. That's why it is so important to go to the grace-giver each day. I need that grace in my own life. I need His grace to be what I focus on. Jesus needs to be the focus. I need Christ's compassion, gentleness, patience, humbleness and humility to flow from my life to my husband, daughter, family and friends. Through my life others can see the beauty of the gospel.

3. It will cost you something to be in the Word: It will cost you sleep, it will cost you time, it will cost you energy, but it will cost you so much more not to be in the Word."

It's gonna cost ya. I never thought about it that way. For me to have time with Christ it is going to cost me something. Something has to be given up. My first instinct is to hoard my own time; the free moments that I rarely get. When I get time alone I want to go to Target, read a book, take a shower, sleep! However, to spend time with Jesus means I may have to give up some of that alone time doing the things I find relaxing. But just as Jani said, it will cost me so much more not to have that time sitting with Jesus, meditating and learning from Him and about Him, allowing Him to work in my life and change me for the better. Those anxious thoughts, the worrisome spirit, the weakness it will all come barreling down on me if I don't take the time to be strengthened by Christ and His word. My need for Him is too great. 

I love this quote by Nancy Leigh Demoss:

“As we walk through each day, responding to the needs of those around us, we can become physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. God has a never-ending supply of grace, strength, and wisdom available that He wants to flow through us to others. And we need to keep coming back into His presence to get our supply replenished.” 

Remember as you go throughout this week, moms, that you are more than just a mom, you are loved so much by our Jesus and He wants to spend time with you. He wants to give you strength, grace, love and help you focus on things above. Seek Him. :) 

Have a great week. Part two is next week!

-Sarah

 

The Music Box. (My second encounter with Jesus)

I won't have any original photos for this post.  

 

In fact, I'm not even supposed to be writing right now. 

 

It's 3:28AM on a Thursday. My day to write is Wednesday.  

 

But I have to obey my heart and the One who resides there. 

 

He wants me to share. And share it now. 

 

I had one of my visions again. I've had two before. One was beyond terrifying. And the next was lovely beyond measure.  

 

This one was the best and the worst one yet. 

 

I was standing in this room with all of you. We were all anxiously anticipating our turns. All of us confident, in varying degrees, in the handheld creations we all possessed. 

 

I kept looking down at what I had decided to present my King. I looked up, all around me, at the busy hands and chattering mouths. It was certainly, an exciting day. 

 

Some felt a bit uneasy about their creations, but wholly confident, nonetheless. 

 

I was proud of my little music box I had made for Jesus. It wasn't fit for a king on the outside (my imperfect wood-carving skills were hiding under my attempts at covering it with a bit of gold glitter). 

 

But, when it played its tune, it was etherial, almost other-worldly. And I hoped it would be a sweet offering to my King.  

 

I watched as others walked into a rather small niche in the center of the room. 

 

There was nothing there aside from Everything, actually. The Spirit of God was coming up and around, and filled the space like air in a balloon. 

 

I watched as some of my friends went first.  

 

Some held out just pieces of their project. Almost caught off guard, they explained that they didn't understand what they were supposed to do with this wood. "If only you'd give us more time," they said. 

 

But God's spirit didn't delay in consuming them whole. And they disappeared with loud screams echoing their departure. 

 

Others, they didn't have that same experience. Instead, their little wooden offerings were received with love and these saints were made anew.  

 

When it was my turn, I heard the voices in my brain begin to attack. 

 

"Who are you kidding, Alicia? This music box isn't what you planned. The exterior isn't fit for the God of Creation. You didn't do enough. You are the worst, etc etc." 

 

The toxic thought life I've had my whole life had followed me to this moment. The moment that mattered more than all of the other moments: the moment I would give back what He gave to me.  

 

Would He accept my gift? Would He be pleased with how I offered my life? Would my little music box be enough?  

 

I told my thoughts to quiet down as I made my way slowly to the small space in the middle of the vast room. 

 

I stood in God's presence and felt equally terrified and peaceful at the same time. 

 

I held out the music box without saying a word. And the glory of God filled the space with a warmth and calm I've never before experienced up until that moment. I wanted to freeze time right then, but the next second came upon me way too quickly.

 

I felt a body behind mine, and knew. 

 

I jolted around quickly, and just squeezed my whole body around my King. 

 

"OH, JESUS!", I said with a smile on my face, that I'm not sure I'd ever expressed before. 

 

He was tall. His body didn't budge when I nearly threw myself at Him. He was strong. Very strong. And He smelled like the sweetest garden. His embrace faintly reminded me of how my husband would hold me: strong, safe, secure, but at a level that I can't even describe to you right now. 

 

"Thank You," He said to me. "The music box was beautiful, Alicia. You did so well. I love it, and I've waited so long to embrace you."

 

He had waited so long?! Jesus was excited to hug....ME??!!!  

 

His smile spoke a million words and I found that there was really nothing I could say. He was saying it for us. We were just relieved to be in the same space. 

 

Pure relief. 

 

And then it was over. I was jolted awake by my husband, who had also had a dream, of which he cannot recall. 

 

My heart was racing. I felt so unreal again. Just like the other two times: not dreams, but something more. Real. Divine. With a purpose. 

 

All of my other dreams have been a sort of hovering experience. Seeing everything from a distance; experiencing things from a movie screen of sorts. 

 

But these three experiences, all about 2 years apart from one another, have been as close to reality as I am writing this now. The smells, the sights, the spaces and ability to feel and touch, were all 100% real.  

 

I really was content to stay in that lifelike dream. After seeing Jesus, I really was disappointed and kind of angry to be awoken from such bliss.  

 

But, this dream, this vision is so much more. It's a wake-up call for us all. What are we doing with our little pile of wood?! What are busy making Him?! Will it be enough?!  

 

Your life is a living sacrifice, an offering, to the God of All. Are you certain you will experience the embrace of Jesus, God Himself, someday?! Or will you bring your pile to be judged; scrambling around, asking for more time?!  

 

I hope you'll experience what I just did. The embrace of the King of Love. The tearful, expectant welcome from the Man who died for us all. Perfect in His love, True in His judgements.  

 

He is Truth. He is Love.  

 

What will you offer Him?! 

 

 

My Secret Life

 

Hardly anything is a secret anymore.  

 

We may not physically, socially interact much anymore as a society, but we certainly know more about one another (than we ever really tried to know) than when we were more tangibly social.  

 

I dare say, that whatever we do behind the cameras, the undocumented living we do, that's what counts.  

 

I'm going to make three distinct points here and then you can decide if you agree...or not. 

 

*(Disclaimer: If you are reading this, and you are not a Christ-follower/Christian, then you may not agree at all, and that's okay. I encourage you to keep reading anyway. And, as always, I'd love to hear from you) 

image.jpg

 

Secretly Selfless 

 "When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do--blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 

 

But when you give  to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."-Jesus, Matthew 6:2,3

 

Today, I think if Jesus spoke directly to us in person, He would say: "Don't share photos on social media and statuses about the charitable things you are doing in order to get comments and likes." 

image.jpg

 

He even goes so far as to make it known that you shouldn't even let your left hand know about what your right hand is doing!! Now, clearly, that's just to emphasize just how secret He desires these charitable acts to remain.  Jesus knows that our hands don't really care what the other does. 

image.jpg

 

So, the next time you're tempted to share a photo of your family working at a soup kitchen, or serving others in a special way, stop yourself. It's not worth the superficial rewards you will get here, on earth. Don't live as those without the hope of Christ. They have no other reward waiting for them. That behavior should belong to unbelievers. 

 

There have been countless times that I've done something charitable and I don't even dare share it with my husband. That's how serious I try to take this. I never want to miss out on what God has waiting for me in Heaven. The trade off isn't worth it. No thumbs up on Facebook could ever compare to the reward He's stashed away with my name on it.  

 

 Isolate Yourself  

 "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you." -Jesus, Matthew 6:6

image.jpg

I'm noticing a trend here...how about you? 

 

Found just three verses down from the first verses I mentioned, is this guy. Another act God highly suggests we do in secret.  

 

But why so secretive, Jesus?! Why does it matter?! 

image.jpg

 

Think of it this way: we're pretty easily distracted, aren't we?!! It's hard to have a conversation with someone when they're texting someone on their phone or looking up some random Google whatever. Then, if we aren't distracted by a device, our minds wander. We think about what we'll say next once the other person shuts up, we think about what we want to eat for supper, how many days until vacation starts, etc., etc. 

image.jpg

 

God says "go to a quiet, secret place and talk to me there."  

 

But, say you're a mom. No place is quiet and secret around your home. They always, always find you.  

 

This. Is. A. Problem.  

 

All I can say is, send them outside with a box of crackers and some bubbles and do what you can.  

 

Or, get up early....I know, sleep-deprived mama's hate this suggestion...but spend 10 minutes in the secret and the quiet and just talk to God. Give Him your undivided attention. That's the point here. Nurture this relationship, secretly, privately, intimately, above all.  

 

 When No One Is Watching  

 "For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all." -Jesus, Luke 8:17 

image.jpg

 

This one. It's a bit scary.  

 

I'm not sure I want y'all to know all the stuff I do when no one is watching.  

The way I yell at my kids. The way I think about myself before others. The times I snap at my husband and make sure he knows he should be one inch tall and I can squash him like a bug. The way I use my time unwisely or lie to a friend. The way I manipulate and correlate things to go my way.  

image.jpg


But what we do in secret, it matters a ton. It's where our character resides. You may think, "ugh, if anyone ever opened my character closet, they would be pummeled with the things I've thrown and stuffed in there."

 

That's why Christ made such a point to emphasize that when no one is around, He still sees. He's there. Christ-follower or no, He sees what we do. If that sounds a bit horror movie/creepy to you, well, it should. Because Christ is perfect. And while He's perfectly loving, He is also, perfectly holy. We don't even come close to being that. Ever.  

image.jpg

 

So He is THE Standard for right living because He was and still is perfect by all accounts. 

 

If Facebook took a 30 minute video of you in your own home, with you unaware, and automatically posted it without your permission, what would the world see?! 

image.jpg

 

There is no edit button on our lives. Yea, unfortunately, right? Some of us need more than an edit button!

 

What we do, it's already done. And what we will do, well, that's where we have the power to change. 

 

So, while you may have been putting more emphasis on the life you lead in public places, you can make a plan to change. The photos you share of your "true lives", the words you express in order to receive the likes and the comments, those have little weight, if any, compared to the lives we lead when no one, but He, is watching.  

 

Your secret life matters. It matters more than you ever imagined. 

 

For He has prepared a place for those who love Him. And we have all the hope we ever could hope for in the palm of our hands. Share the hope, but do it in secret.  

 

love, Alicia  

 

image.jpg