Monday, January 16, 2012

i finished it

In a few short days I read Kisses From Katie.  I was very familiar with her story... she is from the next county over and when her ministry began word spread here quickly.  I have seen and met her a few times and have read her entire blog.  And still I puddled up tears on my pillow to the very end of the book... and I knew the bulk of the story!

I can't begin to put into words what I took away from this book or how much more unsettled it made me feel (a "feeling" that I have somewhat been trying to figure out for about 2 years, maybe longer).  What in the world am I doing in this world and where is God calling me/us???  How am I fulfilling God's command to love the least of these???  I am not saying the least of these in another country full time (although, one day that might be the case) I am saying the least of these in Murfreesboro, TN (or middle Tennessee).  And how do I home school (which keeps us here all day) and still reach out???  We have next door neighbors on one side that practice witch craft and the other side is a Mom and her 18 and 13 year old sons and her boyfriend.  We have befriended both.  When we invited the witch craft neighbors to church a few years ago our communication with them went way down (they declined in case you were wondering).  And we befriended the 13 year old boy on the other side and then he was here everyday and when he was not "with" us he sat in our driveway.  He began lying to the kids, playing too roughly or closely with Aubrey (our 11 year old daughter) that we had to tell him not to come everyday and he has nearly disappeared.  So how do you reach out and still protect your children from things they do not need to be exposed to???  I need clarity.  I need guidance and direction and wisdom. 

I am a firm believer that we keep our kids TOO SAFE these days.  We keep them from falling or getting hurt feelings.  We keep them from loosing by putting them on sports teams that don't keep score because everyone is a winner (we have played in these leagues).  We settle every dispute and argument for them.  We don't expose them to things that might scare or concern them.  We only give them friends like themselves (the ones that are middle/upper class just like they are).  We don't take them to funerals, we lie about pets or animals dying, we keep family sicknesses from them and we only go to the McDonalds where the kids from the inner city won't be.  What are we doing?  And why are we doing it?  God does not call us to be safe in this way.  We are trying really hard to change here in our house (actually have been working on this a while now).  We let our children serve homeless men (in our church, a safe environment), they interact with kids at the children's home (lots of various back grounds and issues) and we encourage them to find the kid with no friends and befriend them.   They know about loss and heartache.  We want them to be prepared for life... this life that is not easy, this life that is certain to contain trials of many kinds.  God is big enough for all of it and His grace is sufficient for each step we take. 

So how can we learn from one another?  One thing Katie's book has challenged me to do more of is be in the Word, by myself and with my children.  His word shows us how to live and what is important.  We have so little time on this earth so what are we going to do with it?  I want to serve others more than myself.  I want to be more sacrificial than ever before... with time and money.  I must always keep the end in mind... our Savior is returning, we will stand before Him and then leave it all behind, ALL.  We work so hard for so many things that have no eternal value.

I want to make it very clear here that I think God has called me to raise children for the next generation.  We want our kids to love Jesus and by truly loving Jesus they will love what He is about... helping the poor and needy, sharing the gospel and loving the unlovely.  There is so much to learn from Jesus... everything really.  So I know that I am doing the "right thing" but there is this spot that feels sort of empty.  Maybe I am scared of that "spot" and what God may want to put there... I don't know.  More time on my knees will reveal what I need to know.

Have you noticed that more often than we should we allow our decisions to be made out of fear?  Why do we allow fear to drive us?  I have been so guilty of deciding to help or attend or be a part of something because of fear of what others thought... fear of man NOT the Lord.  And on the flip side I have not participated in things because of fear of the unknown... um, God does promise not to leave us for forsake us. I think for myself I like (really like) to be in control over almost everything... love to know the outcome of situations ahead of time too.  Lord, help me fear you more everyday.

And why are we so busy with things that are often not of the Lord?  I don't know.  It makes my head spin honestly.  He gave us things to enjoy, I get that but we rush and rush and we don't read scripture together, or pray together or even eat meals together because we are so busy.  Knitting a family together takes work.  God gave us family to have and to love and to support one another.  You know your family will be around (in most cases) a lot longer than any friend or activity will.  Get to know your family.

So while I am on a roll pouring all this out here, I have one more area to cover... how do we live in this world and not be of this world (its another on-going question for me)?  I want to look different to the world because I have Jesus in my heart and life.  I used to watch a soap opera and lots of prime time television several years ago.  And one day I went to this bible study and the speaker brought up the topic of tv and asked us to evaluate what we watch.  Are we spending our GOD GIVEN TIME watching things that contain adultery, homosexuality, profanity, lust and other forms of sin in them?  And do we laugh at them?  And by watching and laughing are we approving?  And so are you possibly desensitizing yourselves to sin?  And the questions went on and my heart got heavy and I knew in that room about 8 years ago things had to change.  And now being away from the tv for so long I am appalled at what I often view at other places and my heart is heavy with the sin filled shows we call entertainment!  Fast from tv for 1 month and see if you are not changed in some way.  And with that said the thing we have to guard against here in our house is the computer... wasting our GOD GIVEN TIME on the computer to do what... look at facebook, read blogs, just dilly dally to pass the time!  I do have to say that blogs have helped me grow spiritually, informed me of things that I have found useful so what I am discovering is that moderation is key.  I have also wasted a lot of time reading blogs.  The people like Kaite and others we know on the mission field here and in other countries all have the same amount of time I do everyday... the same amount of time that they use to serve and study and grow and lead.  So I have to be better at how I choose to spend my time.

I am literally all over the road here, my jumbled thoughts spilled out.  I guess I should just have said read Katie's book... if you are ready to receive it (being stirred to be used by God), you will be challenged and if you are not than it is a great story of a young Godly woman and you'll enjoy it anyway!

I need more of Jesus and less of myself, desperately. 
I need to give and understand grace better than I do.
I need to be a better listener.
I need to let my defenses down.
I need to cry more in front of my children when the things of the Lord break my heart.

I simply need more of Jesus.  A lot more.


Melanie said...

So good Elizabeth! I feel so much the same way as you do....I am really evaluating what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. I'm trying to Live life on purpose with purpose...but I too feel limited sometimes. This was a great post...made me think again. Much Love!

Emily said...

I'm a "lurker" on your blog, but I just had to tell you how encouraged I am by you! I too read Katie's book and am having these feelings! Lots to process...thank you for these reminders!

Greg and Donna said...

Another good book is "Outlive your Life" by Max Lucado ~ about the legacy we want to leave for future generations. My husband and I have been pondering these same thoughts for months. I will have to look for the "Katie" book!

rutledgeramblings said...

I just feel like I should copy your post and put "ditto." ha! I feel these are things that we all struggle with. I know we do especially now that we are out in the middle of no where, KY :) I am bad about fear influencing me too much, luckily my husband has helped me in this regard but I still have a long way to go.

Thanks for your transparency! You are an incredible wife, mother, and sister-in-law :) (and much more!)

We love you!