Friday, June 09, 2017

Fear vs. Faith: How a driver's license (nearly) drove me to drink

*This is an article I wrote for our church's newsletter. We are reading A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You (Paul David Tripp). This article is a summary of how God is using the book in my current circumstances.*

Less than a month ago, our oldest son got his driver’s license. In that moment when my precious son drove his vehicle away from our home- with our other son in the passenger seat, no less- all of my fears took on a life of their own and began to shout mercilessly at me. I was kidding about this event driving me to drink. But the anxiety it produced may or may not have caused my husband to suggest such a solution. It is no accident that I am reading A Quest for More (Tripp) during this stage of parenting.

God has been patiently and consistently growing me over the past two years as he has exposed old wounds again from a traumatic car accident in high school. Fear has come in great big waves instead of manageable whispers, particularly when Jackson became a student driver. My “Comin’ to Jesus”, so to speak, has been wonderful and painful (as all discipline and healing should be from a loving Father). Idols are slowly being pried from my white knuckled fists, as I learn to parent a teenager with ever-growing independence.

In A Quest for More, Tripp masterfully describes the two kingdoms that we choose to live for: the little kingdom of self vs. the larger kingdom of God.  I was deeply convicted as I was reading chapter 4. It stated, “This way of living (focusing on my needs or the kingdom of self) is always riddled with anxiety and fear. You see, I will never be able to control all things that need to be controlled in order for me to guarantee that all of my needs will be met…I will always struggle with the anxiety that comes from the realization of how small the circle of my control actually is.” Yes, there’s the rub. Fear usually boils down to a lack of control or essentially, a lack of faith. As Jack drives away in the rain, drives farther away from home, gets his first job that requires traveling back and forth, and settles into more social events with friends, I get opportunities as well. I get to come to the foot of the cross and preach the gospel to myself, remind myself who our Creator is and who I am, and build my trust and faith. It’s a daily renewal and I am so thankful. My prayer life is never quiet!

Ann Voskamp says, “The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ.” And that same idea is the premise of Tripp’s book. He goes so far as to say that “this constricted little kingdom (of self) will crush my humanity.” We were not designed to live for anything outside of the glory of God. Being reminded of this truth has led to repentance and growth, but it has not produced a fearless Momma overnight. However, I can testify that reflecting on the work of my Redeemer and his saving grace, purposing to live for His glory and not my own (“the larger kingdom”), and continuously surrendering my children to their heavenly Father has developed a growing peace and joy in me.  I am so thankful for the Lord’s mercy. And just in time…in three months, we will have another student driver!

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”

Margaret Shepard


Pressing

I just can't seem to recover from the frenetic pace of this past school year. I try to relax in the Word or a book, but my mind is constantly racing with put-off responsibilities. So I get up and work on those things, only to shortly feel overwhelmed. Even rest is overshadowed with the "too much" of life. I feel like a ping pong ball- back and forth.

I feel the Lord calling me out, but I can't quite make out how. I keep telling myself to "serve joyfully", all the while knowing it's not a heart problem. I need to make a change. Where to begin?

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
Frederick Buechner

I miss the days that we lived in Atlanta. My husband worked outside the home. I homeschooled and spent my days managing our children and home and serving our church as a volunteer. We used our home all the time for ministry- homeschool support group, prayer group, dinners, youth, playgroups. Such simplicity, and yet I felt fully satisfied, using my gifts for the Lord everyday.

Now I feel frantically overcommitted. I feel like I am trying to serve in areas where I am being pushed beyond my capabilities. Am I just being challenged and feeling the rub?

This stress will be a matter of prayer this summer. Something will have to change- whether my heart or my commitments. Something will have to give.

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness..."
Ps. 115:1

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My desire

"Do I serve God only when good people surround me or my faith is profitable and respected? Do I love the Lord only when worldly comforts come from His hands? If so, then I am nothing but a shameful hypocrite and, like a withering reed, I will perish when death deprives me of outward joys. Can I honestly say that when bodily comforts have been few and my surroundings have been hostile to my walk of grace that my integrity has been maintained? If so, then I have hope of a genuine, living, godliness in me. A reed cannot grow without moisture, but plants of "the Lord's right hand" (Psalm 118:15) can and do flourish, even in drought. In fact, a godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his money bag is nothing but a Judas (see John 13:29), and they who follow him for loaves and fish are children of the devil. But they who follow him due to their genuine love for Him are His beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in You- not the muck and mire of this world's favor or gain."
Look Unto Me: The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon

These truths have been on my heart. I know I am guilty of holding on to the treasures and successes of this world too tightly. I often set my scope on money, outward beauty, recognition, comfort, and reputation- but most often on comfort. I don't want sickness, debt, confrontation, or discord. I don't want to fight a single battle- good or bad. I don't want a single bump in the road that I so desperately try to keep straight. And I am even more fearful of a bump in the road with my family.
But my ultimate need, Lord, is to love you with all of my heart.  I want my desires to be Yours.  Make me more like you, Father, and hold me close. Meet me in Your word and prayer this coming year and use me for your glory.  And when I feel exhausted, unappreciated, or unloved at the end of the day- set my eyes on you and the joy of knowing the Maker of the universe. Fill me with Your presence and give me a fullness in heart and mind that will be unwavering! Thank you for your "boundless stores of grace"!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A long year

I can't say it's been the easiest year, or the year I had imagined. But God is at work, as always, and I am leaning in.  The first half of the year I was devoting my full time to the second half of homeschooling all 3 children- Jack in 9th, Josh in 7th/8th, and Lydia Joy in 3rd.  The children had a wonderful school year.  All three managed to make all As and were very good students.  I was amazed at how self-motivated the boys were in school, developing really excellent habits and skills.  Jackson formed some very close friends, Josh seemed more comfortable in his own skin, and I had some much-needed time with Lydia Joy.  Our craft time and baking time forged some sweet memories for both of us!  We needed that time together!
Around May that peaceful year came to a crashing halt as we decided it was time to move out of the house that we were renting from my parents.  The late spring was filled with looking at houses, house plans, properties, etc.  At the beginning of June we moved and our summer of unpacking and house projects began!
We absolutely love being nearer to our church and school communities!  Our house is on a 3.5 acre lot which suits us all so much better!  We love the farmhouse style of the house and have enjoyed making it ours!  No doubt that a move is stressful and time-consuming though.  We had a very bad experience with the previous owner.  He bought this house at an auction as a foreclosure.  He made promises that were not kept and was very difficult.  When we finally- after months of unnecessary drama- made it to closing, he withheld our house keys for several days.  What an ordeal!
After about a month of moving in, the property to the side of our house- several hundred acres-began being developed.  So the almost PERFECT house for us is now next to daily construction.  The noise has been really disappointing, but we are adjusting. The house itself and property, along with our neighborhood, is really wonderful and we are thankful.
One of the most exciting aspects of moving has been having friends in our neighborhood!  By God's grace, we live next door to two sweet girls that are close to Lydia Joy's age.  Having friends to play with outside after school has been a new, very fun experience for her!  We are all thrilled for our very extroverted girl! In addition, we know five other families who live in this neighborhood and have those friends to enjoy, call on when we need help, carpool with, and get together with from time to time. It is a very sweet gift!
Overall, the house has been an enormous blessing. We love being more available for fun get togethers with friends, closer to school- Lydia Joy wanted to go back to her school, and in closer community with our church.  I am praying that this home and area will continue to feel more and more like ours and soon we will be completely settled.  Very thankful to our gracious God for these gifts!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

First Christmas event

 Lydie's school Christmas program kicked off the Christmas season! She was excited to have a small speaking part.  The music was beautiful and we continue to feel richly blessed that she is able to attend a classical, Christian school with a loving staff!

Best friends



She adores her teacher!

And the Christmas season begins!

Friday, May 20, 2016

End of the year recognition: Lydia Joy, 3rd grade

And now for the final part 3. Lydie was kind enough to humor me and leave her beloved school for 1 special year with me. She is over the top excited to return in the fall. But I would not trade anything for our year all together. I think some precious seeds were planted.
She and I have spent most every day side by side. She had to put in a lot of effort to earn all A's in third grade! Her biggest strides have been in writing and math. She is this beautiful mix of wild energy ...and intentional self-control.
With these gifts she excelled in gymnastics this year. She also loved singing and dancing with Summer and Holiday Show-offs.
I deeply value her gift of encouragement. If we kept all her love notes and encouraging words they would require a room of their own! She loves the Lord and is learning the power of prayer this year. We are so proud of our FOURTH GRADER! May God be glorified for every way she reflects His beauty and goodness! I am so thankful for this year with my 3 precious children!


Thursday, May 19, 2016

End of the year recognition: Joshua, 7th & 8th grades (!)

Awards day, part 2. Our Joshua did a pretty remarkable thing this year. He decided to work on 2 years of math as a 7th grader. By February he was finished with Pre-Algebra and by mid July he will complete Algebra. He did this in order to skip 8th grade! His final averages in school were 95+. He is a gifted student and hard to challenge.
Joshua was the first to start and finish almost every day. He took the high school level national Latin exam and received a cum laude award. He is the most affectionate hugger I have ever met. Quiet, deliberate, dry wit, well-mannered. What a joy!
He ran cross-country for the first year and learned so much about endurance. His faith has grown exponentially this year and his prayers melt my heart. THANK YOU LORD- for this sweetheart and his gifts and talents. We adore our FRESHMAN!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

End of the year recognition: Jackson, 9th grade

This is my version of Awards Day since we homeschool. First up...Jackson. This amazing kid earned all A's this year as a freshman. He took 3 honors classes and scored 92,95, & 97 on those. His final average in Biology was 101! He ended the year with a 4.18 GPA.
In addition to his consistent study habits, he woke up every single morning and spent 20 minutes working on ACT prep, and he is only a freshman! He scored a 27, no doubt a result of his dedication! We were absolutely overjoyed!
He earned around 40 service hours this year, some through involvement in Key Club, and others through church involvement. He ran cross country and slashed nearly 5 minutes off his personal record over the course of the season.
He has been a joy to teach. I never have to tell him to get started or work harder. One of his most valuable assets to our family is his kindness and compassion. And when things get difficult or chaotic he reminds us, "It will be ok. God is in this with us." May God receive EVERY OUNCE OF THE GLORY for this sweet soul! We are so proud of our SOPHOMORE!