The Life of Surrender

He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30

Month: September 2016

Learning to Love Being Pruned

There are times in my life where I feel like God is allowing me to walk through something because he knows that it will bring me closer to him.  I usually refer to these times as pruning from John 15.

 
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  John 15:1-2
 
If we remain in Jesus, he will prune us to be even more fruitful.  I think that pruning means that he allows us to feel unpleasant feelings and go through hard things because he wants us to grow stronger in our faith.  I feel pruned when I feel tempted to do things that I know are opposite of what God wants for me.  For example, I know that God doesn’t want me to have a mind full of worry.  Satan can see that I have a tendency to worry and he will work hard to plant those seeds of worry in my mind.  I feel like God could stop Satan from planting these seeds in my mind, but how would I ever learn how to recognize Satan’s attacks and run straight to God if I am never allowed to experience them.  I, in turn, feel like a stronger Christ follower because instead of sowing the seeds Satan planted, I can run to my Savior and know the truth of who I am.
This week has been a tough one on my mind.  Peter and I have been reading The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer and I am convinced that the fastest way to attract the devil’s attention is to grow in your faith.  This book has been stretching me and making my mind stronger.  I have attracted Satan’s attention and for the first part of this week he has been winning.  He has been winning because I know how I should be thinking and reacting to things and I have not been going to God to get the strength to do what I need to do.  Satan has been winning because I have been refusing to accept responsibility for my actions and I have been blaming my behavior on other people.  Satan has been winning because instead of running to God’s word, I have been running to complaining, whining, and anger.  After a few poor choices, then the guilt sets in and I will often think that God doesn’t want to hear from me.
Satan wins no more!  God does not give us a mind of guilt and shame.  God wants to hear from me and he wants to offer forgiveness for my attitude and behavior.  God wants me to work for Him!  Instead of blaming those around me for my actions, I can accept responsibility for my behavior, ask forgiveness, and move on to follow God’s plan.  Instead of being mad at others around me, I can know that my struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
About a month ago I was having some bad dreams and I felt like Satan was trying to attack my sleeping.  Instead of sitting there worried and afraid I got up and read my Bible and spent some time with God.  I think that is how we are supposed to battle Satan.  When we are hurt by people’s actions, pray for them, and remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood.
I told my husband that I was sick and tired of things coming at me that I had to mentally deal with.  In my frustration I asked, “When will all of this just stop?”  Peter knowingly answered, “When you pass the test.” Ouch!  I love the man, but I hate it when he is right!  When I learn to run to God every time that I feel worried, anxious, angry, frustrated, you name it, then these things will stop coming at me so frequently.
I often look forward to times where I can have peace and I don’t need to be pruned.  If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you will see that it seems I only write on here when I am struggling.  I think that is because I feel the closest to God when I am struggling AKA: pruning.  I don’t think I should be looking forward to the times when I have peace because in those times I am not growing.  I need to remember that he prunes me so that I can be more fruitful.  I will have that peace and rest I am looking for in Heaven when my battle here on Earth is over.  Until then…
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1

Episode 8: What God Has Put Together, Let No One Separate (Even Our Kids)

We hear the phrase, “the days are long, but the years are short” many times during our parenting journeys.  These words are meant to make us intentional, on the ball parents.  We also need to be this way in marriage.  Let us never leave our spouse behind.  Let us not make anything in this life more important than our spouses and our Creator.  Let us be a generation that honors our spouse above ourselves. In this podcast, we will discuss staying connected to our spouse even in the chaos of parenting.
Show Notes
Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com
Books
For Better or For Kids by Ruth and Patrick Schwenk
*Disclaimer* We have not actually read this book yet, but I have heard it referenced positively in many blog posts.  This will be one added to our reading list.
Blog Posts
4 Things We Need to Say When Marriage is Hard by Kristen Welch on We Are That Family
Tips for a (Happy) Marriage After Kids guest post by Becky Mansfield on We Are That Family
How to Keep Making a Marriage When it Seems Impossible by Ann Voskamp on A Holy Experience
Family Favorites guest post by Arlene Pellicane on We Are That Family
When Marriage is on the Backburner by Allison French on Kansas City Mom’s Blog
The Small Things that Make or Break a Marriage by Kristen Welch on We Are That Family
The Real Threat to Marriage  by Kristen Welch on We Are That Family
Bible Verses
Romans 12:10
Ephesians 4:2
Colossians 3:13

Ecclesiastes 4:2

1 Corinthians 13

Episode 7: Making the Most of Your Time

In this episode we will discuss how quickly we fall into the busyness of life and how quickly it drains the life right out of us.  Jesus tells us to remain in him, and we can’t do that when we are running around all the time. Taking a little time to think and pray about our commitments before we commit to them is a great way to find balance in our lives.
Show Notes
Introduction and Conclusion music is Buddy by Bensound.com
Books
The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado
Blog Posts
The Intentional Jar: Making the Most of Our Time by Ali Broom on Austin City Mom’s Blog
Dear Children: Let Me Explain This Thing Called Summer by Kristen Welch on We Are That Family
How To Miss A Childhood by Rachel Stafford on Hands Free Mama
Survival Mode: What it is and How to Get Out of It by Rachel Norman on A Mother Far From Home
Bible Verses
John 15:4-5

Allowing Our Children to be Disappointed

Tonight while driving home with our one year old shrieking from the back seat, I realized how much we have grown in parenthood.  She had thrown her favorite blanket on the ground, (which she does repeatedly every car ride.)  This time her blanket was trapped in an area that I couldn’t reach.  She started crying hysterically when she realized that I wasn’t making a move to get it.  As I sat there listening to her pleas for help, I realized how far we have come in parenthood.  About five years ago, when our oldest was a baby, I would have had a hard time letting her cry.  I didn’t enjoy when she was uncomfortable and it absolutely made me fall apart when I felt like there was nothing I could do to help her feel comfortable.

As our one year old cried, I thought to myself, I think it’s okay for her to cry and feel disappointed.  In fact, it may even be good for her to experience a little discomfort.  There is no doubt that all 3 of our children are going to get knocked down by the world at some point.  How much better will it be for them when the world comes to break them, if they have felt a little discomfort in the safety of our parenting.  I want them to know that their dad and I love them, but we aren’t able, and won’t, provide them complete happiness 100% of the time.

It is very easy to spoil our children and give them things or allow them to get away with behaviors because it makes them happy.  The problem with this is that they don’t understand that we live in a sinful world.  We need discipline and a lifeline to God to make it through to our eternal home.  They don’t understand that if we give them everything they want, it won’t lead them down the path to happiness.  They don’t know that these things they are chasing are not what is best for them.  It is then our responsibility as parents to guide them to what they do need.  Are they going to be unhappy with us?  Absolutely!  Will they thank us for it later?  Probably not, but we can always hope :).  Do I feel like it will lead them to a closer relationship with God?  Yes.  I think that is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?  I would certainly allow my children to walk through some disappointment, hurt, and plenty of other yucky feelings if I felt like they were walking to God on the other side of it.

I do know that it is terribly hard to allow our children to walk through these things.  I think it is hard for God to see us walk through hard things as well.  I am pretty sure that we would love having our kids come to us for comfort when it is all said and done and even through the process.  God is wanting the same thing from us.  When life gets hard, He is there.  He is willing to walk us through all the hard stuff to get to Him.  How much better it feels on the other side when we can run into our loving Father’s arms for comfort.

So dear children of mine, are there going to be times when your dad and I allow you to walk through hard stuff without rescuing you?  Yes, there will be plenty of times and those days are going to be hard on all of us.  Just know that we love you unconditionally and that you will have a deeper understanding of God’s unconditional love for you as well.  An easy life is not always the most life giving.  Walk the hard roads and lean into your Creator when you do.  We love you!