Monday, July 25, 2011

Finding My King

This summer has been one of self-reflection and long talks with God.  You see, I was completely comfortable in my hometown.  I knew where everything was located and didn't need my GPS, ever. I had lots of friends and connections and I knew they loved me for who I am.  I knew who I was and was completely confident in my marriage, my friendships, my ability to do my job well, and (most days), in my parenting.  I knew that I was where I "fit" and I was confident.  Yep...I was comfortable.
The biggest lesson I've learned so far this summer is that I was, perhaps, "too comfortable".  I was "too confident".  I was "too secure" in my environment. I had roots and was deeply planted in my sense of self-worth.

Typing this out is making it super-real and its actually a little painful to admit. I was cocky, I guess.  I just "knew" that God would work things out and didn't really put a lot of effort into really coming to Him. I just took for granted that He was there and that He had a hand in my life.  Now, that's not to say that I never genuinely cried out praise to God for His blessings or sincerely came to Him and put all my faith in Him...I definitely did that!!! I just have to admit that I didn't do it as often as I should have.

This Sunday, one of our pastors preached about finding our King...and making sure the God was the King over our lives.  He suggested we ask ourselves these five questions:
1) What do I trust in this life?
2) What am I submitted to (or, what rules my life)?
3) What do I dream about?
4) Where do I spend my money?
5) What do I worship?

As I stare at these questions, now, answering them honestly, I'm not proud.  Here are my answers:

1) My knowledge over family issues, parenting, keeping my home, the "system" short, My own power and understanding.
2) Food
3) Being well-known in the public eye, having people know my name, based on those things I trust in from number 1.
4) Food (like eating out and non-nutritious food and drinks) and Entertainment
5) "Beauty" and I struggle with comparing myself to others.

Notice how none of these answers point to my Savior?  Notice how they're all self-centered?  Notice any contradictions?  WOW!!! I honestly would have NEVER thought that these would be my answers.

How could I have fallen into the trap of putting so much stock into myself?  Why do I allow food such a big place in my life?  Why do I allow the enemy to shift my focus from the perfect creation that I am in Christ and allow myself to feel "less than" someone else?  Why do I listen to Satan's lies when he tells me "You can start exercising tomorrow" or "You can't give to that ministry right now" or "You deserve to have this or that"?   What am I teaching my children by listening to him?  Oh my gosh...that thought is scary!! 

So, today I'm making a vow.  A committment.  A promise.  I'm vowing to work every day, intentionally, to really make God my King.  To not listen to Satan's lies.  When I feel like I don't need to exercise today, I'm going to recognize that is Satan talking. God wants me to take care of my body, because it is a living temple for Christ, who is in me.  I'm going to pray before I eat that snack or drink that pop. I'm going to give up a $40 trip to the movies for the chance to help someone else. I'm going to think about how God has been the center of my professional every circumstance that brought me to where I am, as a professional, has been a circumstance through which God has protected, guided and carried me.  I'm going to intentionally turn my focus on God.

Next year, I want to ask these questions again and have very, very different answers!

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here

2 Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Hebrews 10:14
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy

2 Corinthians 6:16
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

John 6:57
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me

John 14:10
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

God the Gardener

Pulling weeds. Raking. Digging. Getting dirt under your nails.  These things do NOT make up my idea of fun nor do they represent activities I typically find myself doing.  I'm that woman who goes to the home improvement store and picks out all the pretty plants and then tells my husband where to plan them. He tends to the lawn and the plants.  It's just not my gig. 
Today, however, I sat at my kitchen table and looked out at my new lawn and the area in front of my dining room window that's supposed to be a decorative garden.  I sat there for a moment and thought about how that area represents our family to the outside world.  I also reflected on a chapter from the book I'm reading right now called "After the Boxes are Unpacked" by Susan Miller ( (c) 1995) about the difficulties of moving and the adjustments that we must make.  Chapter 9 is titled Bloom where you are Planted and the author describes how we are supposed to "take root" wherever we are so that we can get connected and comfortable in our new space.  She asks the question "Are you watering your woes or fertilizing your faith?" When I read those words I had to admit that I've spent a lot of time over the past month watering my woes and focusing on all the ways that things have gone wrong, or at least, not according to plan - my plan.

Yesterday's post was a good step in the right direction.  I wrote about an issue that I'd been trying to control and have power over, to no avail, and I wrote about God telling me to let Him take over for me.  I prayed last night that God would do just that and help me to remember to stay focused on his Power and Strength, rather than my own.  Then, I read chapter 9. 

More messages from God.

As I sat by my window this afternoon and looked out at the overgrown, half dead, littered with trash area of my yard, the cracked and dry soil, and dead and brown ground, I thought about how God has probably been looking at me the same way.  There's been so many things that have felt dead and ugly in me lately. There's been a total lack of curb appeal...for me and my new home...and I felt a determination to get it in order.

So, I found a pair of gloves and set out.  At first, I thought, "I'll just water it and let Justin deal with the weeds" but as I stood in the yard, I found myself led to begin pulling and plucking.  I started with the easy to reach stuff and the big pieces of dead shrubbery.  Barely scrathing the surface and I did feel better.  I returned to the house and set about other chores and projects. The window kept my attention and I couldn't let it just wasn't good enough...I had to do more...the surface-level work just was not going to cut it.  It was not an accurate reflection of who this family is and I had to fix it.

I returned to that garden with a rake and began pushing and pulling the earth, raking up all the dead and ugly, showing the beautiful red color of the fresh mulch and dirt that had been buried.  My back hurt and I wanted to give up but I wouldn't allow myself.  I need these roots to take and the lawn to flourish.  I want that green spread of God's touch on my life, comfortable and inviting.  I need to dig deeper and make it right.  It isn't nearly finished yet, but it's a start, just like me!

God's working in me the same way, I think.  He's pushing and pulling me in lots of different directions and even when I want to give up and say "I quit!" He doesn't let me.  He keeps holding me tight while plucking the negativity out of me.  He is reminding me, over and over, that this last month is not the end of what we once had, but the beginning of great new things. 

He is my Gardener and I'll keep "fertilizing my faith"...both in Him and in my lawn!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

True Conviction

Today has been a day of conviction for me.  The company my husband works for has been incredibly slow in processing some very important paperwork and it is deeply impacting our family.  We've been dealing with this situation for a few weeks now and I have been telling myself that I've been handling it well.  I've told myself that it's okay for me to be angry and irritated, that its alright for me to vent about this to my husband and to push him to do this or that. 

This afternoon I found myself venting about it to a girlfriend and really just putting it all out there. I felt completely justified by her response and felt supported because she had the same reaction I'd been having for weeks.  Isn't that the best thing about having a close girlfriend? 

When we hung up the phone, though, I felt God whispering to me.  "Serena, you're not really trusting Me to deal with this."  Ugh.  That'll take the air right from your lungs! 

He's right.  I'm not.  I'm pushing and pushing, I'm trying to force other people to see it from my perspective and to work in my timeline, even to the point of arguing with my husband, who is doing all he really feels he can do to address it.  I'm relying on my ability to control things and the reality is that I have absolutely no control over this situation, which only adds to my anger and frustration.

God was telling me "I got this." 

The tricky part is not in hearing Him when He talks to me, but in forcing myself to really give it over to Him and let Him have the control.  For a person who likes to feel in-charge, organized, and put-together, it is super difficult to just let it go.  I want so badly to just make the phone calls myself and to make a fuss, but I know that I cannot go there. Today, I even began to look for ways to step outside of the role in which God has placed me so that I could "fix" things.  I have not been submissive or respectful of my husband, so really, not only have I sinned against God today by not trusting Him to handle it, I have also sinned against my husband by not trusting in his decision and following his guidance for our family.  Again...the realization takes my breath away.

God told me today that He will not allow things to work out until I learn to be patient and to fully rely on Him and to recognize the blessings He has already bestowed in this situation.  I need to back-off and trust my husband and to know that God will lead my husband in the right direction.  Instead of praying for things to work out just how I believe they should and in my timeline, I need to be praying that God will help me to stay focused on the work He has chosen me for and that I will remember God is ultimately in control.  It's going to be tough but the reward will be worth it...this, I know for sure.

1 Corinthians 2:5 New International Version (NIV)
"so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power."

Friday, July 1, 2011


Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Oh, how I love my God.  He is so faithful and good to hear and answer our prayers.  Yesterday was just "one of those days", as a mom and a woman...I was weary and felt like the world was on my shoulders.  I was frustrated with the kids and as the night wore on, my feelings only got worse.  It's pretty safe to say I was miserable, but I was determined to end the night by leaving everything at the cross and trusting God to make today a better day. 

He has done just that, for me, and I am so grateful.  I hope I'm not jinxing myself by writing this now, 15-30 minutes before bedtime, but the day has been without incident.  We did a relaxing and fairly quiet movie day.  The kids have spent the day in peace and that has been sweet music to my ears.  As this day winds down, I have to give God the praise for lifting my spirits and showing me that He is there to help carry my load when I need Him the most...even when I'm feeling the most lonely, He is always there!  I am never really alone.  When I am feeling tired and weak, feeling like I cannot handle one more thing, He always lifts me up and shows me how strong He is and fills my body with renewed energy and strength. 

I'm ready for the upcoming holiday weekend and am so looking forward to spending some great quality time with my sweet husband and my wonderful kids, in our new community, celebrating the freedom we have, as Americans!!! Happy 4th of July!!