Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You are Free (Be Who you Already Are) by Rebekah Lyons--A Book Review

I'm not the best at writing reviews, but I feel its important for me to give my thoughts about a book while its fresh in my mind.  As much as I love to read, books start to run together after a few years and this is definitely a book I want to remember. 

Rebekah Lyons has quickly become one of my favorite authors.  Maybe it's her down-home way of speaking, maybe its that she doesn't claim to have it all figured out, but is willing to keep taking steps of faith and encouraging others to do so as well.

I think believers and unbelievers alike struggle with feeling "stuck."  In the Christian circles, we refer to it as "in bondage."  We feel like there are a bunch of dos/don'ts that we have to live by and that every blessing from God, every good thing in our life requires us to DO something. 

This book was refreshing in reminding me that it's NOT about what I do--it's what I ALREADY AM.  Even if you don't struggle with these concepts, this is a book to read because it will help you understand what 90% of those around you feel. The questions at the end of each chapter were some of the most thought-provoking ones I've read--I'm still pondering some of my answers.

There were so many great quotes in this book.  This post will be long, but I wanted to capture my faves here:

"We weren't made to keep up.  We were made to be free.  To be who we already are."
"If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make ou useful in His hands." --Oswald Chambers
"And here's the thing about despair: It overtakes the place meant for hope.  It steals the belief that healing is possible."
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."--Fredrick Buechner
"Calling is where our talents and burdens collide."
"As children of God, we have a corporate calling to love God and make Him known.  What's amazing is that this calling looks different for each of us based on our talents and the burdens we feel for others.  We don't have to stress about finding our 'thing,' but simply ask God to reveal His plans for us."
"No matter your calling, God chose you for a mission and he has appointed a purpose for you well before you were born.  This purpose is to bring glory to Jesus, to be his very hands and feet  And if the task is daunting, remember this: as he calls you, he leans in and whispers, 'Don't worry; I'll empower your work."
"Confession begins with repentance and ends with declaration."
"Public affection cannot heal private rejection."
"What God begins with the natural, he fulfills with the supernatural."
"What if disciple-making is not just talking about God, but inviting others to talk to God, to confess, repent, and then, with boldness, to petition to him?  What if disciple-making is about giving people the freedom to ask, no matter how big or impossible the request?"
"Falling isn't so scary once you lean into the wind.  After all, that's how baby birds learn to fly; they freefall to fly."
"Home is wherever God is.  And God is ever with me."
"You cannot see the unknown until you release the known."
"Sometimes it takes a stripping away of what we know in order for us to be willing to stop and learn."
"The old covenant was about what we bring to him: our annual offering, our covering of sin to become restored with God.  The new covenant is all about what Jesus brings to us: his offering, his blood to forgive our sins, and his righteousness credited to us, making us right with God."
"God doesn't measure worth in terms of ability, but in terms of identity."
"If we cannot grieve, we cannot be comforted."
"Grief is our most powerful confession, because it cracks our hearts open wide."
"Every time we express grief, we allow Jesus to absorb our pain.  When we live out the freedom we have been given to grieve, Jesus take our grief upon himself and replaces it with comfort."
"Mental and emotional healing can take longer than physical healing, because emotional ailments often stay hidden for much longer and therefore have deeper roots.  It is hard to heal what has been hidden and sometimes God calls us to sit in the emotional pain for weeks, months, or even years before the fullness of his haling comes."
"The secret to strength is weakness."
"Surrender says, 'The calling you've laid before me is too great.  I cannot fathom it.  Still, I will obey.  I will trust that you go before me."
"God chose Moses BECAUSE he was weak, God wanted Moses to know he was only able to lead the people because God was with him, giving him everything he needed to do the job."
"Joy is not the  absence of darkness.  Joy is the confidence that there darkness will lift."
"Courage is meant to en-courage others."
"There comes a moment for each of us wherein we must decide--will we be brave, or will we remain enslaved to fear?"
"Bravery is moving scared.  Bravery requires stepping out."
"Our bravest moments come from trusting, from falling into the plan of God."
"If he is the one who sets this thing in motion, he is the one who completes it."
"Freedom is for those who have nothing else to protect."
"Confession is the gateway to freedom.  We are nothing without him.  We are everything IN him."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dear Mamas of Littles

Dear Mamas of Littles,

I know you are weary.  I know you are tired of hearing "Enjoy it now--it goes by fast."  I'll even bet you are hoping the day DOES go by fast to when you have reinforcements to help you tonight. 

This post is not to tell you to revel in their littleness and dependence on you.  I refuse to add to the mom-guilt that so many of us experience.  This post is written to give you permission to be real and authentic and to post the pic of the mess and not just the cleaned up version of kids with bows in their hair and clean faces.  Those of us who have been mamas know that the clean face happens only for an instant a day and is not how they look the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day.

Post it ALL!  All the hard, all the insane things they do that make you want to lose our ever-loving mind.  All the things that you hope will be funny in 5 years but are crazy-making in the here and now. (Seriously--TimeHop makes me laugh all the time these days when I see what a mess we were).  All the times when you think you are the only mom who struggles this much. 

Don't feel bad for not being perfect.  Don't compare yourself to the mom who makes her kids food from scratch and always buys organic.  Or the mom who has a clean house (and never uses cleaners with chemicals).  Or the mom whose kids love each other sooooo much and they are "so blessed" ALL.THE. DANG. TIME.

Post it all now because when your kids get older, you won't be able to.  Even if they aren't on social media, their friends or friends' parents or teachers are.  AND YOU WILL GET CAUGHT.  And it will not be fun at your house and you will ruin their life forever.

By posting it now, you are breathing life into other mamas who are too scared to be real.  You are giving them permission to pull the veil a little and let others see the truth of the man/mama behind the curtain. 

And most importantly, you are giving yourself the freedom to accept help.  I read recently "If we cannot grieve, we cannot be comforted."  (Rebekah Lyons in "You are Free").  I think that quote applies to whatever feeling you have at this moment.  We were created for community and while hiding behind your perfect beach picture may elicit several comments about how beautiful your family is, you will feel like a fraud.  Because we all know that for every perfect picture, there are 10 others that you hope were not captured on secret camera. 

Post away, mamas!  And know that as you post, I will not only be cheering you on, I will be praying for you--for rest, and grace and a little moment of peace, and forgiveness for yourself, and love.  The kind of love that joins you in the midst of the mess instead of trying to fix it for you.   

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

True Love Is...

...Standing outside in the rain at 4am with a puppy who needs to potty so your wife doesn't have to

...Taking your daughters to school at separate times so the youngest has a few more minutes to sleep in

...Buying the cheesy card because you can't keep a straight face when trying to say those things, but you really DO mean it

...Digging a splinter out of your hubby's toe with your good tweezers

...Washing the sheets an extra time this week so your hubby doesn't have to deal with the crumbs on his side of the bed from kids and puppies' feet

...Cleaning the kitchen after dinner 

...Not expecting a huge gesture on one day a year

...Helping to fold the laundry

...Filling your wife's gas tank for her

...Enlisting a friend to make bacon roses for your girls...Making sure your spouse has clean underwear in his drawer

...Doing the Walmart run with your wife the night before Valentines--even though you're tired and have to change your clothes

Monday, February 13, 2017

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant

"The old covenant was about what we bring to Him: our offering, our covering of sin to become restored with God.  The new covenant is all about what Jesus brings to us: His offering, His blood to forgive our sins, and His righteousness credited to us, making us right with God."
-Rebekah Lyons in "You are Free"

I used to get tired of hearing about old covenant vs. new covenant. I think it was partly because I didn't understand it--it seemed to be taught in a very lofty way (and I didn't feel "safe" asking questions)--and partly because those who "got" it seemed to be very theological types and not the practical day-to-day person.  As I look back, I often think there were many more who didn't understand it, they just went along because they wanted to be a part of those who did.  It felt like this special club that probably wasn't intended to make people feel left out, but it did.  And still does from my outsider perspective--even though I know that was NOT the intention. 

Rebekah Lyons explanation of this new vs. old is so simple.  Maybe it was taught this simply in the past to me, but I just didn't get it.  I certainly do now.

And it feels freeing instead of being a noose around my neck.

I'm not sure what the purpose of this post is except maybe to say that if something doesn't make sense, get a different perspective.  Cut some of the same noise you hear over and again off and listen to something different for a while.  It's amazing how clearly God sometimes speaks during those times.

The other thing I would say is never be afraid to ask questions.  If people look down on you for not understanding, then they may not be the right people to surround yourself with.  If you don't ask because you are prideful and don't want to look/feel foolish, then you need to step back and look inside yourself and ask why it's so important to you to not look/feel that way. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Village Moms for the WIn

 I'd like to share a secret.

There are seasons when parenting is just plain H-A-R-D. 

And when your kids get older, you can't do the #askingforafriend thing on facebook, so it can also be lonely. 

I don't know about you, but when I'm in that lonely place, I tell myself all kinds of lies about what a bad mom I am and how I messed up long ago and there is no hope to correct it at this stage of life.  And that my kids actions/non-actions are all because of my errors--basically, that I'm in charge of their heart instead of God. By the end of the conversation, I have allowed myself to be sucked into so many lies, that it's hard to distinguish Truth. 

But that's probably never happened to you, huh?

This week, I had 3 different adults tell me how great my daughter was.  And this morning, I was thinking how nice that was.  Not because their words brought affirmation to me and what I'm doing as a parent, but because it made me realize once again that Brian and I aren't in this alone.  That there are others who see and care about my daughter. It helped me to take a step back and look at the 50,000 foot view instead of being in the midst of it.

I love passion.  Even when I don't agree with that passion, I love seeing people stand up for their values and what they believe in. 

But what if we took just a little of that passion and put it into encouraging other moms in our life?  What if we became village people and instead of using all our words to bash/condone/praise a candidate, we used them to speak Truth into another mama?  What if we used some of our passion for the refugee issue and opened our eyes to situations in our own neighborhood?  I'm not saying don't care about refugees or candidates, I'm just saying what if there's enough passion for those AND our immediate village?

What if we all asked God to show us who to encourage today?  It may not even be a mama, but I'm pretty sure He will bring someone to mind.  And what if, instead of using our energy to make political posts, we used some to remind a friend that you SEE them and their kid? 

And the thing is, it doesn't take long.  As I've been typing this, 2 moms have come to mind--one of whom looks on facebook like her life is perfect and she doesn't need a village.

But let me tell you another secret (its 2 for 1 day here on the blog).

I'll just bet she questions herself.  Or has hard parenting days.  Or feels lonely. And a word from you would turn her day around.

Let's just make it 3 for 1 and I'll tell you one last secret (y'all are making out like bandits here!).

You can send a text and shoot up a prayer in a matter of seconds.  You can even do it while you're putting on your makeup or fixing your coffee or even going to the bathroom (don't pretend you don't take your phone with you). It won't take as much effort as it might seem at first.  You don't have to use eloquent words or find the perfect Bible verses. 

Who, specifically, can you be a village for today?  And you don't have to dress like this to be considered a village: