Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Time of Prayer and Reflection

     Well, the past few weeks have been some of the most trying for us in this journey to Providence... our journey in life.  Two weeks ago, I left Jamie and the kids here in Maine as I ventured south to spend time with my mom as she continues treatment for cervical cancer.  Needless to say, the visit was emotionally draining.  Everyday, I found myself sitting in the middle of the waiting room at Duke's Cancer Center, surrounded by countless patients and their families.  More than once, I was overcome by emotions as I thought about the battle each of those individuals was undertaking: a childhood robbed, lives forever altered in ways that many never could have imagined... constantly reminded that everyday, every moment, matters. Like a shot in the arm, I was again inspired with ideas of "intentional living" in Providence... thinking of all the things God has placed on our hearts.  But, within moments of returning home, I was, once again, reminded that this road will not be easy.

     Our hope was to have the house on the market by now...but the way things are looking, we'll be lucky to have it on the market by the fall.  Still no job prospects for Jamie (or me, for that matter).  I'd be lying if I didn't admit to my frustration (or disappointment). But, it's at these times that I truly try to push into Him all the more.  That, unfortunately, isn't a natural instinct for me... but it's getting better.  And I truly feel that it's one of the things He's teaching me on this journey. 

     Wednesday night, I met my friend, Cindi, at chuch for an hour of prayer.  It was just the two of us, praying for Providence. It was such an amazingly sweet time, praying for the people, the city, for Jared and Rachel as they move into their new place, for the rest of the team as they begin their journeys to the east, for our family.  About 45 minutes into the prayer time, I completely lost it... just overwhelmed with everything...desperately wanting encouragement from Him.  Pleading with Him for direction.  Jamie and I find ourselves in this weird situation... we have absolutely no idea where our family is going to be in 6 months.  That's a scary place for people like us... but what's scarier is that we feel as if God is choosing to be silent for the moment.  I keep going back to something Beth Moore said in the James study:  It's easy to follow God when it's obvious that He's there... but it's our choice to follow Him when He's purposefully silent that brings about spiritual growth... that deepens our faith.  This is what I was praying for.  This is what caused me to be overcome with emotion. 

     That night, when I returned home, Jamie and I did something we've never done before: we watched worship teams on Youtube.  I wanted to show Jamie a particular song.  The next thing I knew, he was picking out different songs to listen to.  I couldn't help but laugh at the situation: Someone that refuses to sing on Sunday mornings was excited about worship songs on Youtube.  It was just a sweet reminder... encouragement... that even though God is seemingly silent, He's still at work.  And just in case your're curious, here's the link that started it off. This song has ministered to me tremendously the past few months.  I LOVE how this church and worship team truly worship God.  Inspiring! Rachel introduced me to this song when we sang at the Women's Conference in Providence.  I think I've watched this video, at least, 100 times since then... so much that Brayden sings it while he's doing his school work!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Family IS My Ministry

***Okay... so here's my "warning" with this blog entry:  I am writing it with a heart that is heavy; emotions that are raw and a soul that is incredibly burdened... by my own pride.  I have no doubt that I will inevitably cringe at my transparency... probably sooner rather than later... but this is who I am at this exact moment.... and if I'm to learn anything from it, I must acknowledge it first... surrender it second and pray for His mercy as He works it out in me.  So, you've been warned ;)***

A few months ago, a good friend of mine made a comment that sat with me in an odd way, so to speak. She said that she envied the fact that I had a ministry.  And at the time, I was a little confused because, to be quite honest, I don't feel that way.  I'm kinda all over the board... and that's on purpose.  Whether it's The Root Cellar, or the jail, teaching preschool at church or a class at homeschool group... where there's a need, I try to fill it.  However, she soon clarified her comment... and it made me cringe: my family is my ministry. 

Now, I could expound for hours on why my familiy is my ministry AND why it isn't... just as much as I can share with you about how much I love and adore my familiy and how, at times, they drive me absolutely insane.  But the issue really isn't about ministry... it's about obedience.  It's about selfishness and pride.  It's about my need to acknowledge (and sometimes prove) that I have more to offer... talents and gifts that can  be utilized outside the relm of "family"... or maybe I just want others to realize that I spend almost every waking moment with my children....

Truth be told, I envy my friends that have careers... that have professional achievements... that have goals that include more than getting the laundry folded and put away AND cooking dinner (which, consequently, I hardly ever achieve!)  For me, motherhood is defined more by my failures than my achievements... the things I do wrong are underscored far more than the things I do right... and maybe that's really what's at the root of all this.  I don't want my family to be my ministry because I feel like as hard as I try, I just keep failing.

I constantly go back to very wise words that were once shared to me (thanks, Wendy Bland!):   My family is not for my satisfaction, but for my santification.  (And, yes, of course, they also provide me with a lot of satisfaction.) But the concept here is something we often miss.  One of the names of God is Jehovah-Mekaddishkem, the Lord who sanctifies.  He uses our families as a tool to lead us closer to Him... yet, for the longest time, I've been seeing my role more as a hinderance to my growth... (I've been using it as an excuse for not being able to do what I want to do...How's that for honesty?)

The picture attached was taken this morning.  Our family participated in the missions walk for our church.  Piper, pictured bottom right, raised $75 for the Peru missions team.  We all gathered together and walked 3.5 miles around Back Cove in Portland, stopping several times along the journey to pray for the team, the village they will be visiting and Food for the Hungry.  As Jamie and I walked hand in hand with the kids, it was hard to deny that our family IS our ministry... readily recognizing the fact that we aren't perfect and neither are they... but that our success and worth isn't measured in terms of achievement and failures, but, instead by the journey we choose to take... by the Navigator we choose to follow... through our obedience. 

(I'm still working on that part!)