Monday, May 19, 2014

How Church Became My Idol

Whenever something is heavy on my heart I always have to come to my blog.  My blog always has helped me think through tough times or just changes in my life. 

My spiritual and physical life has changed in so many ways that I can't even begin to count my blessings.  I mean, I try to but it's soooo much!  I still deal with old fears but it's lessening as the months go by.  Whenever I talk to old friends that think like I used to, the fears come back.  It's such a heaviness that my heart almost can't carry the weight.  I finally understand the scripture...

"Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

I know to many people they've heard this a thousand times.  To me it's life changing, powerful, and freeing!  Jesus wasn't just throwing out a nice phrase.  It's literal!  Stop focusing on trying to fight your flesh with works.  Focus on drawing nearer to Him and see what happens.  I love this scripture.  :)

I used to hear "my yoke is easy" and think it wasn't easy at all.  I had so many things I had to do to make God happy with me!  To make it to heaven.  Gosh, it was so hard and with my large family I just couldn't do enough things to make God happy.  I began to mentally break down and have serious bouts of depression. I don't mean feeling sad here and there. DEPRESSION where getting out of bed was a chore.  The burden of my works was so heavy that my spiritual back was breaking.  

It's much harder fighting for righteousness when I'm living my life based off of works.  Here is a silly but important example.  The other day I was watching a show on TV while the kids were sleeping.  A part came on that I didn't really feel was good for me to see.  Without even thinking I just got up and got something to eat in the kitchen to let whatever it was pass by.  I mean, I didn't even have to think about it.  To avoid it, I automatically just got up and walked out the room.  While in the kitchen it dawned on me how much something inside of me is beginning to change.  Before, I would have felt much more temptation to see what it was and maybe even fought myself for a bit to watch it.  I was so confident in my works based mentality that I trusted in my own strength to fight against temptations.  I was sure that if I made a mistake I was going to go to hell.  Therefore, when I made a mistake, I felt so condemned I just wanted to give up.  Since I have began to focus on just drawing closer to Jesus, that it's by grace we are saved (not just saving grace but sustaining grace) temptations haven't been able to hit me nearly as strong.  Of course I'm human and humans face temptation but it's almost like the blows are softened.  I always thought that if I had believed in "greasy grace" then I would just fall into every sin possible.   When you truly accept Jesus as your savior, not just for fire insurance (although that'd be my very first reason) but because you have a longing to draw closer to Him and know Him, you'll find that Jesus really didn't intend for serving Him to be heavy and burdensome!

 In fact, before I felt guilty if I missed a church service.  In a way, church became my idol.  I went to church not to make Jesus happy, but to please others around me.  I was going so many times a week because I felt if I didn't, God would be displeased with me or people around me.  I didn't go because I was excited to hear from God.  I went to please man.  I even felt pride in the fact I went so many times a week. That made me holy, right?  At times I snubbed my nose at people because they weren't as faithful as me to all the weekly services.  Yet, I felt horrible guilt if a kid was sick and I couldn't go, I felt an urge to call people around me or post on facebook why I wasn't there. I really, really think "church" can be an idol.  Since I have removed myself from that mindset I have had such a renewing and longing to not only learn about God at church but to study at home.  Yes, I did it at home before but this time was different.  Sometimes I can't wait to sit down study scripture, watch a sermon or listen to one.  Church now isn't the only place to receive but GLADLY in my own personal time.  Now, instead of praying once in the morning and "getting it over with", I find my self praying throughout the day as I see the needs or just want to praise Him!  Once you LOSE THE RULES, you find that relationship you've been longing for all along.

My prayer is that friends or people out there struggling with legalism or a works based mentality might be free from those chains.  I only share because I'm excited for what God is doing in my life and I so long to see others be free!  :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Living a Purposeful Life and Living with a Terrorizing Toddler

I'm sure there are lots of parents that see things I post about and say, "she'll learn", and, boy, I have and still am!  Parenting has been such an amazing journey for me and through blogging I can see how wildly my views on it have changed.  Back in the early days I used to parrot what other people said about not being your child's friend but their parent.  Well, till my husband told me he'd rather I know my kids than bark orders at them from a distance.  I wasn't a mean parent but I was definitely afraid to build a relationship because I thought it'd be crossing that parent line into friendship.  (Rules without relationship breeds rebellion.)  Now I can honestly say I am enjoying a deep friendship with each and every kid. I might have to hold back on saying that about two year old Juliet for now. She just wants hugs from mommy in between all her terrorizing. 

I'm holding newborn Juliet and Ashley is copying me. Soooo cute.
 I want each day with my kids to be purposeful.  Every day is a new day to learn about stories in the bible and/or something new about God's amazing creation.  A new day to build on the friendships with each other. One of my boys has been extremely hard to train about matters of the heart.  He tends to hold onto things that people did to hurt him.  I realize before I would always focus on the negative when correcting.  This last few months I've turned it around to focusing on all his positives. To show him scripture on the right response rather than using threats and intimidation. Sadly, I've even used the bible as a weapon to scare him into doing what is right.  There is a time and place to talk about the scary stuff but it shouldn't be used in that way.  He would lay awake at night afraid at times.  Makes me sad.  I've gone through a huuuuuge life changing journey in my own faith and personal walk with God.  Now that I see God as an amazing loving father who wants to spend eternity with me rather than this angry being that is on the verge of wanting to flick me into hell, it's completely caused me to change my approach in teaching my children.  The result?  AMAZING!!!!  I saw this boy of mine go from a depressed individual to someone truly learning about love and forgiveness.  Someone who's wanting to help his siblings get closer to God as well.  I mean, it's shocking to see the transformation.  I was depressed and burnt out spiritually and was putting that off onto my kids as well. Thank goodness for new beginnings, right? 

See that mischievous look?  Haha
Juliet the terrorizer is by far the hardest toddler I have ever had.  She makes a beeline for either cat litter, cat food, cat water, toilet A, toilet B, getting on a computer, pouring water on a remote, escaping into the garage, pouring out the bathroom garbages onto the floor, climbing onto the dining table, then back to the cat litter and the toilets.  I mean, she really rotates all of those with no rest in between.  When her nap time comes, and trust me I know when that is, I have to actually sit down with a new cup of coffee in my hand and just breathe. I spend an hour of staring into nothing and sipping my coffee and then the next hour doing laundry because she's not awake to dump my newly folded clothes all over the floor.  Oh, and by the way, she dumps out all of our drawers in our bedrooms as well.  I just know that if I hadn't been raising toddlers for the last 13 years straight I'd be a much heavier woman.  Need exercise? Get a toddler!!  Haha.  Seriously, she's so cute though when she's sleeping.

Speaking of.....Guess who turned 2 today?  Juliet!!!!
Happy birthday, my sweet snuggle muffin!!!

My little innocent newborn Juliet.  :D

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Antics, Financial Surprises, and Letters to Genesis

Mother's Day went kind of decent. I didn't get to do some big huuuuuuuge celebration like go to Disneyland a restaurant but I still had a great day. :) I have to admit the highlight of the day was at the Sunday morning church service.  They made mamas feel extra special when coming into the church with muffins, chocolate covered strawberries, coffee, and other yummy treats. They showed a video of them interviewing some kids in the church talking about their mothers.  My daughter Ivy was so hilarious Charles and I were cracking up!  I need to some how get my hands on the video.  All the kids were just sooooo funny!  Some of them I have in my class and even my favorite little redhead was interviewed.  I love these kids.  They are all so amazing.  The message that day was on parenting and he majorly hit it out of the ballpark.  I could barely keep up with writing notes and I filled up the entire page.  Here was something that really stuck out to me.  There are 3 different parenting styles.  1. Authoratative. 2. Permissive. 3. Biblical. I never saw it that way.  I loved it!  I would like to choose biblical.  :)  Rules without relationship breeds rebellion.  My favorite thing he said was (when talking about media), if what we are watching on TV is not something we'd want our kids to watch, should we be even watching it?  I love that because my kids are very sensitive to moral issues and I never want to ignore them when they point out something they see that isn't right.  I love that my kids all turn their eyes away when they see kissing because they know those actors really aren't married.  Stuff like that!  I don't even want to tell them to stop because why would I want to desensitize them?  Kids are very sensitive to God and I don't even want to get in the way of that.
My Mother's Day collage.  Me with all my loves!!!

My huge Mother's Day plans fell through because some crazy financial stuff happened all in one week.  You know, like when you have a blowout and your van tires are so crazy expensive that it feels like you are paying for it by selling your arm or a leg?  Or when you realize that your 6 months insurance plan is up and you didn't see it coming so you have to plunk down money for another 6 months?  Or that summer camp money is due? Yeah!  I need to write that down so I'm not surprised again!  I hate paying monthly insurance because in the end you always pay so much more. It's just more cost effective to pay in advance for it. You get a huge discount.  I was just so happy to have all my kids happy, healthy, and our family doing well.  I had nothing to really even complain about! It's so funny because my husband offered to make lunch for us so I wouldn't have to but he forgot to actually do it. I finally got up and did it when the meat started burning.  Daddy was running around trying to take care of things for me, changing diapers, etc, so he was running in all different directions. He said, "boy, this homemaking stuff is hard!"  Tee hee.... it was so cute I had no problem getting up and just taking over the lunch.  Next year, this mama is eating out for Mother's Day!  Haha.  (In the meantime I'm gonna not forget important financial events so it can happen.)

My mom, nurse, and I on my birth day. :D Thank you, mom!

I thought a lot about baby Genesis yesterday and how much I miss him/her.  I know I say it over and over but I'm just so happy and excited that he/she is waiting for me in heaven.  Even though I get sad at times, having that hope of a reunion just washes away that grief.  I know with Jesus as my Savior I can have that hope of one day meeting Genesis in Heaven.  Boy, I can't wait to buy the movie Heaven is for Real.  I have the book but it's just such a reassurance of what is to come.  I cried in the movie where the mom found out from her son that her baby was in heaven and it was a girl.  After reading the book I realized that she miscarried her baby the same week of pregnancy I did. Yet her son was able to see that not only was it a girl, but the girl knew who her family was and couldn't wait to meet them!  Genesis may not be here on earth but I'm a mom to 8!  So grateful.

"Genesis, after seeing the movie Heaven is for Real, I realize that I really, really, really do get to see you some day and RIGHT NOW you are playing in heaven and you know we are your parents. I only carried you for 9 weeks but I feel like the luckiest mommy in the world that you made me a mommy to now 8 beauties. I'm sooooo blessed to be your mama and I CAN'T WAIT to meet you. I love you like I could never express!"

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Decisions on How to Spend 2 1/2 Hours of Quiet Time/Bliss for Any Mom

Tonight I had nursery at church with the babies, toddlers, and 4's and 5's.  Being that I have so many the same age, I always think about what life might be like for people that have like quintuplets or septuplets.  Haha.  I think, "Man, their days would be sooooo busy!"  Haha.  Then I go home to my nice quiet house of seven kids.  Seriously, it IS DIFFERENT.  I have kids from the ages of one to 13 so, yeah, it is different.  One or two in diapers at a time.  Not all at once.  I wish I could take pictures of all the cute little kids in nursery but I definitely have my favorites.  A little redhead boy that's a live wire is definitely one of my faves.  He's like a ball of energy.  Kind of like a super hero with coffee in his system.  Just a dash of mischievousness.  Love him!  My little Juliet is the known escapee of the group.  We have to have the door shut AND a baby gate put up for when she gets past the door.  You thought we had chain locks on all our doors at home to keep the boogie man out huh?  Nope, it's to keep the little curly blond in the house.

I added something into our day that really kind stretches me to my limit.  I seriously don't think I can mentally afford to do any more than what I'm doing right now.  When I say mentally afford I mean, if mommy can't teach and raise kids with joy, then whatever it is that is making mommy a grouch butt has to go.  Whether it's an outside activity or a time consuming person not part of the immediate family.  I don't know whether to rejoice or wince at times.  (It's kinda half and half depending on the day).  There is a church almost next door to us that does a fun after school program, complete with learning and bible study.  Well, that's double dose for my kids because we already hold our own bible studies at home every morning.  I just thought it'd be neat for my kids to meet other kids in the neighborhood.  Plus, they have the opportunity for volunteer work and gardening.  Once a week they are teaching them baseball and another day basketball. They are having so much fun.  However, we have to really be on the ball to get bible study, homeschool, and chores done before 3:30pm when they leave.  Four kids choose to go which means I usually have only one teen and two little ones napping during that time.  For 2 1/2 hours I can either choose to sit and sip coffee with a good book, mop the floor, or just work on dinner or chores.  I mean, seriously... 2 1/2 hours of options!  Haha.  Yes!  However, it's made my day tighter for the other waking hours and I have to stay on top of things big time.

Friday, May 02, 2014

As if I'm Meeting You for the First Time

Dear God,

  I feel as if I never really knew You.  I knew ABOUT You but completely misunderstood everything You've done for me.  I see so much more now.  Did You allow me to go through the valley to let me see how much I desperately needed You?  So I would come looking for You rather than sit back in my chair thinking I already knew it all? I deceived myself thinking I had earned Your favor.  I didn't know that before I was saved, I was a slave to the law.  Once I asked You in my heart, I was under Your grace. All I can say is......


Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

On no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
Every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me