I enjoy reading the account of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14. I love Peter. He is tenacious and bold. He is zealous.
I married a man who is a lot like Peter. My husband would follow God to the ends of the earth. It doesn’t matter how crazy or “foolish” it might look. My husband will do if he feels the Spirit leading. “Peter’s” have little caution to them. They just go for it. That is why I love my husband and that is also why it is a good thing God paired him with someone like me. I remind him of the need for grocery money and little things like that.
Anyway, I always had this image of a night sky, a boat full of disciples, Peter standing and calling out to Jesus who was not far from the boat. All while the water lay quietly beneath them. Scripture doesn’t support that though. Look up at verse 24, “But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary“. Contrary defined in the Greek Lexicon means “that which is over or against” (blueletterbible).
Instead there is a storm. The disciples are working together to keep the boat on track. Across the waves, wind and (maybe) rain, they see a glimpse of what looks like a man or a ghost walking on water. Peter being seemingly nuts, calls out to this man. And not only does he call but he decides to get out of the boat and go to him.
And as most church-going folks may remember. It doesn’t go so well from here. Peter begins to sink and cries out to the Lord.
We like to preach the “get out of the boat” sermon or in a Sunday School lesson. But what happens when you get out of the boat with a burst of zeal and step out on to the water? There is a good chance, like Peter, you will realize:
“I just stepped out of a boat into be a hurricane!!!”
I’ll give you a real life example. Several years ago, Mark and I felt led to go with some friends and plant a church in another city. After looking for work in the church plant city for about 9 months to no avail, my husband was able to work out a “deal” with his current employer in our hometown. He was to work a 3/12 schedule (3 days 12 hours). He would live there 3 days and with us 4. We decided to pull the trigger, make the jump, and move. We left our home, family and jobs (our “boat”). As we are unloading the moving truck, however, Mark gets a call. His boss said, “the deal is off. I’ll see you at 8am on Monday (‘if you want to still have a job’ was implied).
That was a big real-life gust of “wind”. It knocked us out a bit. It shock our faith.
We ended up living apart for about 4 months until he took another “step out of the boat” and quit his job. He took a job cutting grass and moved to our church plant city with us.
Peter took a big step of faith only to find himself drowning and trying to survive. Knowing “my Peter”, I imagine he did not even consider the wind and waves before getting out of the boat. Maybe he thought Jesus would calm the storm immediately. Who knows? I imagine he just wanted to be with Him and be apart of His work.
Jesus did eventually stop the storm. But it was after they got back in the boat.
“When they got back in the boat, the wind stopped“. Matthew 14:32
Huh? So obviously Jesus has the power to stop the storm. Why did he wait? Throw poor Peter a bone! He had the faith to get out. Why let him almost drown? (the Lord is good to me to allow openness and honesty. I mean no disrespect in the wisdom of His ways).
I know first hand what it feels like to be battered by those kinds of waves. I know what it feels like to be pumped and full of faith only to then feel the ground from under us give way. When you are gasping for air and struggling to survive, you feel sucker punched. It hurts. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t say, “Hello? Lord are you there? You said “Come!”… didn’t you?” (All while everybody else sits securely in a boat).
I don’t know why he waited. I don’t have that answer. But a couple of things stood out to me as I read this familiar story.
1. Jesus didn’t get mad at Peter – The story doesn’t wrap up with Jesus lecturing Peter about what is wise and responsible, but yet that Peter lacked faith.
2. Jesus reached out his hand and took hold of him – The image of that is just so beautiful. And He does it still today. When you step out on faith, you get to be rescued and touched by the hand of God.
3. Everyone worshiped Jesus – Others, not just Peter, saw the work of God and were led to worship Him. Everybody else was scared. They cried out in fear. Peter took a step of faith, took a risk and got out of the boat. In return everyone – not just Peter – everyone worshiped Jesus.
So, I don’t know friends. When you “get out of the boat”, you will probably walk into a hurricane. But faith is more than taking one big step out of the boat. You have to keep walking, keep going. The wind is going to come. You are not alone. Jesus is there. He was there the whole time.
I’ve seen lots posts on why people choose to homeschool, so I thought I would throw in my two cents on public school.
1. My husband and I had fairly positive experiences growing up in the public school system.
2. My kids are very social creatures. We are excited for them to have the opportunity to meet other kids.
3. We want our kids to be in an environment that encourages awareness of others. I think one benefit that is not acknowledged as much in the whole “school” discussion is this. My son is in a class of 18 kids. They all have different learning styles, different preferences, different personality types, different needs and different strengths. Although this presents a challenges, I think this is a good thing. He is learning how to work with others. He is learning to submit to the needs of others sometimes. He is learning how to handle the challenges of being in a community of different people.
4. There is opportunity for other people to mold and shape their life. My husband and I are pretty awesome but it takes a lot of people to shape someone’s life. I think back to the teachers I had over the years. Some were not so good and had a negative affect on my life but some were great! I had an English teacher in high school that completely changed the way I thought about teaching. I had always wanted to be a teacher but she was just remarkable! I could go on… these teachers were very different from my parents and touched my life in a way that they couldn’t.
5. School Fun! School plays, class parties, talent shows, Field Day, and all that fun… we are excited about these things for our kids!
6. I am not the best teacher for my kids. I went (and am currently going) to school for to be an educator. I have an extensive knowledge in this area. But I am a terrible match for my son as a teacher. He loves rules, schedule, routine. (My daughter is like me and is very much more of a free spirit!) It is one thing to have a “bad match” as a teacher for a year but for 13…. either me or my son is not making it! Now, I am the best momma for them – I know that for a fact because God’s gave them to me. But it doesn’t mean I’m the best option as their teacher.
7. My husband said “no!” to homeschool. I gotta throw this in there. Just because the whole school issue is more of a “mom” conversation doesn’t mean it is outside of the realm of submission. There is a reason God put my husband and I together. There is a reason he has such strong convictions and opinions. I have to respect that and ultimately submit to it. Now, I didn’t have any dying conviction to homeschool or I would have handled it differently. I just have trust and control issues – I’m just being honest. That’s the appeal of homeschool for me.
8. Deepening my trust in God! My prayer life has increased 10 fold since sending my baby boy to kindergarten and my baby girl to preschool. When they were with me 24/7 it was very different. I was mostly in control of everything they did. It is different now but I do have the peace and confidence that this is where they should be and that God is in control.
9. Another ministry door opened- I love meeting new people. There is vast ministry opportunity for my kids and I in the schools. My son is such a light. I pray every day that his light shines for his teachers and friends. There is a lot of opportunity to minister to the teachers, administration and other parents and students also.
10. God said to do it! You could really just draw a virtual “X” over the first “9″ reasons. Because they are just observations and opinions. I’m sure there are 20 better reasons for us to send our kids to private school or 30 reasons we should homeschool! I have read many compelling blogs and books about homeschooling, “unschooling” and everything in between. But the bottom line is that I am a human. I have human perspective. God is infinitely wise and sees all. He loves my son and daughter more than I do (which is sometimes hard for me to believe). He know what is best for my kids. He understands and sees their heart. My job as their momma is to seek the One who is infinitely wiser than me. I can’t see past my feelings or past hurts or fears. It’s easier to make wise decisions about other things but when my kids are concerned my heart is consumed with icky-sticky, insane, consuming love for them. My vision gets blurry! The most loving thing I can do for them is trust them to God and trust His way is best. My husband and I have agreed to take each year one step at a time. Maybe next year we will homeschool… I doubt it but we will always seek God. Each child is different. Each year is different. I am thankful I can trust a God who never changes and who knows what is best for my kids k – 12!
Mom guilt: you know that haunting feeling you get. To me it is “that darned if you do, darned if you don’t” feeling that never seems to leave. It comes after dinner because dinner included too many carbs and a processed box of mac & cheese (the horror!). It comes after you loose your temper and yell for the third time… today… It comes because you have to work to help make ends meet with your family’s budget. It’s there after you tell you daughter that you can’t read that book right now because you are busy (and you really are). It comes because you have to say “no” to doing that really cool thing because you don’t have the money. It’s present when your kid’s birthday party doesn’t turn out nearly as cute as you envisioned in your Pinterest-crazy mind. It is there when you finally get a break, get out of the house and do something for yourself.
Some of you mommas may have no idea what I’m talking about. You are blessed.
The rest of you needed no definition. You know “mom guilt”. You know no matter how hard you try to be a ‘good mom’, its there.
As my friends can tell you, I struggle with this area more than most. But, as God is good about doing, He got in my face on this issue the other day.
I was writing in my prayer journal. It was the middle of the day and my kids were playing outside. I rarely have “quiet time” in the afternoon but on this day it worked. I watched my kids play and as soon as my soul felt the slightest hinge of joy, guilt choked it out! I’ll let you into my crazy brain, “I should be outside playing with them. But I am so tired. Maybe if I didn’t work, I would have more energy. Maybe if I’d let the house go more… ugh I am a terrible mom.”
I started to write this out on paper. As I was writing, I realized the unrealistic picture I had in my brain. Smiling kids, skipping, butterflies, blue skies…. okay not exactly but you know that ‘perfect/peaceful’ picture whatever that might be, was going on in my head. And it hit me: its a LIE! They are KIDS!
Kids are unreasonable & irrational! They test me on purpose! They are loud. They are messy. They have melt downs and cry. They are kids!
My little perfect scenario in my head, is ridiculous. And constantly beating myself up for not having this “opening scene of Cinderella”, day to day motherhood is ridiculous too! Because I’m parenting kids… children…. who lack maturity, wisdom, discipline and reason.
So this realization opened the door of my heart… In Isaiah 44 there is a visual picture painted of an ignorant idol worshiper:
“No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make rest of it an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood! He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, Is this not a lie in my right hand?” – Isaiah 44:20
This “worshiper” looks like a fool and is doing these crazy things because his heart is deceived. He can hold this idol in his hand yet, this is what he choses to worship?!
This bolded part of this verse kept coming to my mind, through out the day. “…Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
See, you know what? I am not a perfect mom. The “best parent” boat has long since sailed for me and my oldest is only 5. Yet I have this fantasy in my head of the “perfect mom scenario”. It is partly composed of blog posts I have read over the years, a few facebook statuses and Instagram photos but it is mostly a fabricated from my own ridiculously high expectations of myself. But the bottom line is …. its a LIE. Like this ‘worshiper’ in Isaiah though, I hold it in my right hand. If I’m honest I worship this image. I make choices around it, think and dwell on it, and most of all allow the guilt of NOT being this ‘image’ destroy me!
In Kelly Minter’s devotional ‘No Other Gods’ (which is an awesome study! btw), she quotes Ken Sande saying this about idols, “Most of us think of an idol as statue or wood, stone or metal…. In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on that motivates us, that masters us and rules us, or that we trust, fear or serve.”
Ouch! We can make light of “mom guilt” thing, but if you are like me and have let it control you, it is serious stuff. My mom guilt has elevated to idol status. It steals my joy. It robs my peace. It demands action and perfection. None of these things are true of God.
The next verse in Isaiah 44 says,
Remember these things, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. I have wiped out your transgression like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” – Isaiah 44:21-22
Practically for me, I think this means cutting out some facebook and Pinterest time and spending more time in the Word (predictable – yes, but necessary). I want to turn my attentions, heart and worship toward my Redeemer. If my motherhood flows through Him and to Him, there is not guilt. There is grace. And hopefully I can see the beauty in how He made me perfectly to be the mom of my two crazy kiddos.
What is in your right hand?
The last 5 years of our family’s life has been pretty crazy. They have involved church planting, two babies, a lot of moving, 8 jobs between the two of us, the beginning of adoption work, a lot of change, and (literally) following God all over the place. I’ve been blogging the whole time. So if you are really bored, feel free to read back.
We haven’t lived anywhere longer than a year. Our average was moving every 6 months. So we are approaching our “6 month anniversary” here at our new house (which is obviously a big deal) and I find myself getting antsy. I am wanting to start the adoption paperwork up again. I’m wanting to even consider letting someone live with us or maybe we need to move again. I’m like my ADD 4 year old spiritually trying to get my hands on anything and everything I can “do” for God. I find it hard to sit in the middle of God’s blessings and just…. be still.
Why am I like this? Am I super spiritual? Do I just have an extreme servant’s heart? Ha, ha, ha. I wish what the Lord unearthed in my heart.
I have friends adopting (yay!). I have friends serving in missions in other countries and friends who are serving beautifully in ministry. Although, I share in their joy, I am jealous. They really have something to offer God. Missions surely counts double or triple on the whole Christian score card right?! I know our family is obeying as far as the Lord has led but it sure isn’t flashy or exciting or even in my eyes worthy.
But when I pour my options before the Lord, He just says, “Be…. Just Be and feast on Me”(and yes that does rhyme).
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to listen than fat rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22
Obedience is obedience friends. We have to be careful to compare our walks with others (no matter how noble that walk may be). In fact, I think at times we can get so caught up in comparing and trying to simulate someone else’s walk that we can totally miss God’s voice and call to of obedience in our own lives. Or in the other extreme we could be living lives of routine & comfort that we can’t even remember what His voice sounds like. Both are sin. Both are not desired offerings before our worthy Lord.
He desires our obedience.
My poor son is just like me. He has a problem with parenting his sister and thinking he’s the adult (typical first born). He can’t just play and obey. He has to debate me and ask “why?”. This drives me crazy (because we hate our sin the most when we see it in others right?!)! I lost it the other day. I said, “Son! You have such a simple life. You wake up in the morning and all you have to do is play, enjoy the day and obey me. That’s it! Just stop it!!”
As the words poured out of my mouth, I knew it. God could speak the same words over my life. All I have to do is work, enjoy Him and OBEY. He is God enough to handle the next step. He is God enough to handle His own glory. He is God enough to handle the how of whatever call on my life. I just need to “stop it!”
“Be still and know that I am God. I will exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.”
I haven’t blogged in a while. I do love it. Writing (or blogging) helps me sort through what the Lord is teaching me.
Our family has just been through a very stressful time. It’s hard to blog through some seasons. About this time last year, we felt led to pray about moving back to the low country where we had previously helped plant a church. We prayed and God confirmed. He provided a job for my husband and provided for us financially to be able to look at buying a house.
So we left another city, church and friends we had grown to love…. again! I’m not going to lie, leaving Atlanta the second time was a lot harder than the first time.
My husband ended up moving down before the kids and I. We looked for houses and I finished up working at my job. We made an offer on a house. It seemed like it was a go but the family ended up pulling it off the market. We found another house, liked it, made an offer, and it was accepted. Everything seemed great. It was in the perfect location and had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the inspection showed the house needed many costly repairs…. more than we could afford and more than our loan would allow. We had to terminate our contract.
At this point, we had been living apart for almost 2 months. We had no house prospect so we decided to get a two bedroom apartment in the city where our old church was located. We moved 1/2 our stuff and our kids in to the cheapest two bedroom apartment we could find. Although we knew God had called us to move again, nothing was going as we had “planned”. Living in the apartment was rough. Our kids went through a rough sick spell, we were hurting financially, and were trying to adjust to a “new” city/life again.
We were confused. After a little over a month, we decided to look at houses again. (Maybe we got a little impatient with our “6 month lease” but being a stay at home mom with two crazy preschoolers in a small apartment might do that to you.) There were only two houses on the market in our price range. We went with one and made an offer. It was accepted. Everything looked good. The house was in good condition. We didn’t foresee any problems. After trying to find homeowners insurance we ran into a big problem; no one would insure the roof. It was too old. That was obviously an issue. Neither us nor the homeowner could afford to replace it. So again, we decided to terminate the contract.
We were very frustrated. We had a “come to Jesus” moment at home one night. It felt like God had called us do something and then just dropped us or forgotten about us.
Although, we felt this way, we knew that is not in God’s character to leave us, forsake us or forget about us. So we started asking, “Where are you?” “What are you doing?”
We decided to try another route and look at living in the city where Mark worked (this seems obvious… I know). We were so close to our situation, it was hard to hear or see exactly what God was doing. We decided we would try it. Obviously, God had closed three doors in this city. If He didn’t want us in the city Mark worked in, He was more than capable of closing that door too.
But a crazy thing happened. The doors started flinging open. We found a house, made a ridiculous offer and it was accepted. Our loan- that in my opinion may have never should have been pre-approved- went all the way to closing, with few glitches and in perfect financial timing.
So we have moved again! That makes three moves in 2012 and nine moves total since we have been married. A year ago, this city was not in any way on my “radar” but we have confirmation over and over that this is where He has called us to be. None of the journey or the location was in our plans.
A couple things I have learned through our recent journey:
1. Disclaimer: I don’t think God always works this way. Sometimes we have to fight through ridiculous circumstances and nothing works out like it should (we have lived that route too). I think its about obedience!
2. Don’t assume His plans. It is so easy to say “Yes Lord! I will do that. Let me figure out how to get there and what to do.” He may have something totally different in mind (His ways are Higher!). Keep in check with Him. Don’t get 10 steps ahead of God.
3. Your obedience is between You and God. Just to get real for a minute, I almost didn’t move here because I was afraid of what people would think. I realize more than anyone else it looks like, things got hard when we got to our church plant’s city and we just took the easy road out of there. I was embarrassed. We had just left Atlanta and told everyone we were “going back” and now our journey was about to take a really weird and confusing turn. It felt a lot like we had failed not once but twice at the whole church planting thing (or helping with one rather). All of that to say, I had to learn to say “who cares”. I’m going to do what God tells us to do regardless of what people think.
4. God is in control! He is! No matter how out of control you feel, He is in control. Where He calls, He will provide and make a way. He is trustworthy and He is in control!
A sweet friend of mine asked me if we are planning on staying here. I laughed! I have no idea! I like it here. It’s different. It’s a small town but it is really growing on me. The only thing I do know is that by God’s grace, we will be obedient. We will follow where He leads and trust Him along the way!
Confession: I stunk it up as a mom and wife the past couple days. (I mean this unfortunately isn’t a rare thing but its fresh on my mind). Tonight I was turning off the kids’ lights, about to head to bed, and I just became overwhelmed with conviction. God has blessed me with some amazing kids! Why do have to act like a brat mom sometimes. I was on my knees, convicted, grossed out and God allowed my mind to do a little “replay” of the day.
As I thought through everything, too often I give motherhood 50%. My kids know it too. I’m tired. I’m disconnected. I’m ‘present’ but not there. I rarely play with the kids, yet I feel like I never get anything done because I’m always “with the kids”.
Frustrated, I got up off my daughter’s floor, walked back to my room and sat down with my Bible.
So why does this matter? Why does scheduling and intentionality matter? It doesn’t seem so “selfless” to make time for my self.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23
If you dig deep in this verse (which I encourage you to: blueletterbible.com), you will see that the verbiage here is like a watchman of a prison gate. C. H. Spurgeon related the heart to a water reservoir – all things (words, actions, thoughts) originate from the heart. If you, therefore, find yourself acted like a ‘brat’ to your family or saying slanderous things, take a look at your heart!
“The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile man.” Matthew 15:18
For me – I’m not doing a very good job at “soul care”. I’m not making time for myself and I’m lacking on daily scheduling discipline….. but what’s polluting my “water reservoir”/my heart? PRIDE! Pride is causing me to want attention or praise for pulling extra “mommy hours”. If I made time to go sit at Starbucks or read a book during naptime, those things would be little rewards in and of themselves. I would no longer “deserve” as much attention and praise for being so exhausted. And fitting in that “me time” is a lot easier with a better schedule.
I see these things -discipline and making time for myself – like nets used to take trash out of a swimming pool. They aren’t the issue or the solution but they help. The issue is pride. The solution is God’s grace to help me recognize my sin and His grace to sustain me in walking out better choices.
I’m just being honest. That’s my diagnosis for my own issues.
If you are convicted about an area of your life, take it back to the heart. There is a pollutant there. ‘Take care, watch over, keep, guard your heart, mind and soul. For from its gates escapes the outgoing of life.’ -adapted from the Hebrew translation in my own words Proverbs 4:23
Before I even type one word, let me just say this: Thank you military moms or spouses! Your service to our country is immeasurably commendable and often over looked! You are awesome! I have tremendous respect and appreciation for you!
Single moms and widows: I don’t know how you do it! I think of you and pray for you often! You are amazing and I pray you find the Lord’s strength and patience to make it through this parenting journey!
My husband is not in the military but we have had two different seasons where we lived apart. There was another time when he worked three jobs. He wasn’t “away” but he was not around too much. And now we are entering in to new “fun” with him traveling a lot for his new job.
I have been trained well on how to handle “daddy being away”. My dad was in sales most of my childhood. He traveled a lot. My mom taught me a good deal about handling things alone.
Here are some tips:
#1 - Try to keep to the schedule as best as possible. Eat dinner at the dinner table, keep the same basic bed time routine. Have fun but some kind of consistency will help the kids.
#2 – For me, I am “at home” and so are my kids neither one is in school. So when my husband goes out of town, its a big deal. I could possibly go crazy. So, I try to get out of the house every day. If financially possible, I would eat out at least once a week. Fastfood lunch, a picnic or the mall food court are some cheaper options. There is always some restaurant offering “kids eat free” or .99 kids meals. If not possible at least get out of the house and head to a playground or park.
#3 – Naptime is non-negotiable! Neither one of my kids really nap anymore but I make them have room time. Give yourself a break. Don’t do laundry or dishes or cleaning. Give yourself a break also. If you kids share a room, put on a movie. That at least gives you 90 mins. Be sure physically separate yourself from your kids for a little while (with obvious safety measures in place).
#4 – Take things one day at a time. This past summer we lived apart because of a new job. We visited as much as possible but there was one stint we had to go 3 weeks with out a visit. The kids, who were 4 and 2, would ask when they would see daddy again. I found it was best to say “not today, baby, but soon.” They can’t fully understand time and usually this worked as a simple answer.
$5 – Have fun! This is something my mom taught me. We would have “girls night” and watch movies or eat dessert for dinner. She didn’t do this every night but every once in a while was fun. With my kids, I try to do fun things here and there to take their mind off missing their daddy. It works well for me too.
#6 – Utilize friends and family who offer to help. I mean does this really need explanation? Drop your kids off at grandma’s and go shopping, read a book or take a nap!
#7 – Cut yourself a break. Raising kids is hard. Raising kids by yourself for a week or two (and especially longer) is all the more difficult! If its a regular thing, you could very easily loose yourself in the drudgery of it all. Relax a little (this is me talking to myself), projects and cleaning can wait. Take time to take care of yourself too!
(I am not expert at this but these are a few things I have learned. I know the preschool world and that’s about it. I don’t know how to handle when “Daddy misses a game” or birthday or something. My husband had to miss one of my son’s football games earlier this year and it didn’t go over very well. I tried to down play it and I taped the whole game. We then all watched it together later. If you have tips on being a part-time, one week out of the years or full time single mom – do share : )