Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's Ok To Not Want To Take Everything On Faith

That's the epiphany that I got out of Harvest Cry. That it really is ok to want a real, tangible relationship with Jesus, to have Him show me that He IS real, He IS alive, and He loves ME. Not because it says so in the Word, and not because I'm choosing to believe it is so. Because it IS so, and because He is showing it to ME.

This may not seem like a big thing for some of you...those of you who came to know Him because He revealed Himself to you personally...but for me, it's a big thing. See, I came out of the Word of Faith movement, where EVERYTHING was accepted by faith. It was a mental choice to believe that the Bible is the written Word of God, and that it was true. Not because of experience, not because of relationship, even, but because we chose to believe that the Word was the truth. It was counter to Word of Faith to seek out an experience of Jesus, to have a relationship based upon Him revealing Himself to you. If He chose to give you and experience then that was absolutely fine...but to seek out, or heaven forbid, require Him to provide an experience so that you would KNOW that He is God, well, that was just wrong, and was the opposite of faith!

So I lived like that for so many years...wanting more to my relationship with Him, and yet not really seeking it out, because to do so would mean that I didn't have faith that He was who He said He was, or even that He was real at all. And I go to this Harvest Cry night wanting so much more...wanting more of a true relationship instead of a one-way conversation. Wanting to want to spend time with Him instead of doing it out of a feeling of obligation, or guilt, or thinking that this is what a "good Christian" would do. Feeling like I was putting up a front, that it was all a sham, because I'd rather do other things than spend time with God, and that my time spent was a "waste". Were there times when I felt close to Him, and like the relationship I had was a good one? Most definitely, but I was trying to exist on those times which were few and far between rather than seeking those times out every day. Do I think I really was saved? Yes, definitely...I did, and do, love Jesus, have made Him my Lord and Savior, and was truly doing the best I knew how with my relationship with Him. Did I miss it, and let religion get in the way of my relationship? YES.

So, what am I doing to establish a better, closer relationship with Jesus? Well, I'm asking Him to continue to reveal Himself to me. I'm being honest with myself and with God about how I'm feeling and what I feel is lacking, both in my relationship with Him and just within myself. And I'm being honest about needing Him to empower me to keep up my part of the relationship, because the other thing I realized is that it is not within my power to make the relationship work. Alone, I can do nothing, but I can do anything with Him. And I've started to count on Him to help me in everything, even in those things which seem to be something I SHOULD be able to handle by myself. See, I don't WANT to handle them by myself any longer...I want to partner with Him in EVERYTHING. And in doing that, I know that I will more easily stay the course He has for me, because He is with me all the way, guiding me, empowering me, and helping me do what He's calling me to do.

So where does faith stand in all of this? I have faith that He will be faithful to reveal Himself to me...and that's faith enough.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Revelation and Perspective Shift

I attended Harvest Cry with Johannes Amritzer at Freedom Valley Worship Center in Gettysburg, PA on Friday evening. I went in knowing I needed something from God, and boy, did I get it. It wasn't exactly what I expected, and there is a TON of stuff that I'm still processing, but it was definitely what I needed. I will write about exactly what I got out of it in a little bit, but suffice it to say that Jesus helped me realign myself to concentrating on my relationship with Him versus religion and a list of things I "should" do to be a good Christian. It was awesome, and more is being revealed all the time as I mediate on it.

Just wanted to put this post in so I don't "forget" to write about the experience. Getting ready to go to church now!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Will the Day EVER End?

Today has just been one of those days. Lousy outside, so all the kids have been trapped inside all day. The little guys are done school, and Nathan had just a half-day, so he was home around lunch time. Owen and Lila have been particularly crabby for no apparent reason. Since Nathan got home he's spent the majority of time taking toys away from his brothers and sister and when called on it, complaining that they aren't "sharing". Um, if they are actively playing with something that is THEIRS there is no need for you to take it away from them. When they are done then you can play with it! Mitchell has actually been the best behaved of all the kids, but it doesn't make up for everyone else's attitudes!

The hard thing about today is seeing my summer stretch out before me like this. Me and the kids, trapped at home, nothing to do, no where we can go that I can handle all four of them, and my days stretching on forever with virtually no adult company. Yes, my husband works from home...the operative word being "works". I see him briefly for meals, but for the most part he's working, and I'm with the kids. And, unlike most families with kids, I'm sort of trapped at home because it's a place I know that is safe, that Mitchell or Owen won't get away and run off from. Because I can't run in two directions, and if they both decide to take off, I'm screwed. All my friends with kids are planning on taking their kids to the park, to swim, or to have playdates with other friends. But other people's houses aren't Mitchell and Owen-proof, parks aren't totally enclosed so I'd have to either be able to shadow two different children or hold their hands the whole time...not conducive to either of us having a good time. So, it comes down to either going places I know will be safe (of which there aren't many if I'm the only one "in charge" of all 4 children, or staying home.

I will say, I AM a homebody. I do like being home. But is so isolating to be home because I don't have any other option, rather than because I am choosing to be. Feeling left out of the activities that all my friends are doing really sucks. And I know that it's not that they are excluding me...I'm excluding myself because I know that if I try to go and do what they are doing it will end up being very un-fun for me because I will spend my time corraling the boys rather than actually doing what we are supposed to be doing. Plus, it detracts from everyone else having a good time...they aren't not inviting me, but it makes it easier for everyone if I'm not there.

The other thing is that the kids require so much supervision that I've really given up most of my hobbies. My day is usually spent trying to do some housework, playing around on the computer, or maybe trying to read (which is something I love, but it's hard to concentrate on reading when you're interrupted all the time). I love my kids, but sometimes it feels like I'm expected to give up my whole life, all my interests, and everything else I love in order to parent them. Add to this the fact that no one else in the family wants to help, even to just give me a BREAK once in a while, and it can get a little overwhelming at times...heck, all the time.

And now I've got the spectre of the summer looming ahead of me, of endless days spent alone with my kids, making sure they stay happy and safe. But no one wants to make sure I am happy and safe. Maybe this sounds like a pity party, and maybe it is...but I'd like to feel like I matter. That my feelings and needs and desires matter. But, mostly, right now they don't. My kids' needs and my husband's needs and desires seem to always come first, and then maybe I'll get my needs met if it doesn't overtax anyone too much. It doesn't matter that I feel like I'm at the end of my rope and am only hanging on by the grace of God. As long as I'm still hanging on I don't need to get my needs met. As long as I'm dong what I am supposed to be doing without disturbing anyone else's needs getting met, then I'm fine. Or at least that's how it feels. Sometimes it seems like the only way to get what I need is to be in the process of falling. Then the safety net appears. But to get what I need before that point of desparation? Almost unheard of, even with me loudly stating that things are crashing down around me.

And the thing is, I don't know that Chris does that because he really doesn't care. I think he does, but he puts himself first...and if my needs coincide with him having to do something he doesn't want to do, then obviously my needs aren't that important. And yet I'm living my whole life doing things that aren't fun and rewarding, putting everyone ELSE in the family first...and no one is putting my first. If I disappeared the household would crumble down around them, and yet I don't feel like I'm important. I'm important in taking care of the kids and the house, yes...that's only what I DO. Who I am and what makes me happy doesn't seem to matter.

Boy, I'm a downer today, aren't I?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Almost Summer!

Well, today is Owen's last day of school. Then, tomorrow Mitch is done, and by Friday, everyone will be off. I don't think I'm ready! I just finally started getting into the groove of getting everyone up and off to school and now they are home again!

This morning has been fairly low-key...cleaned and vacuumed the living room and kitchen, washed dishes, did two loads of laundry (they aren't folded, but at least they are CLEAN), and did my little 20 minute workout. Lila and Mitch have been pretty well behaved for the most part, which was why I got so much done. I still really need to mop my floors, but I can't stand that I mop and then the kids use the wet floors to "skate" on, and they end up looking just as dirty as they were before I mopped. So, in my mind, I may as well not put in the effort!

Not a lot going on in my mind today...I've been too busy to think much. One thing I will say, is that I'm tired of feeling like I SHOULD read my Bible and I SHOULD spend time in prayer and I SHOULD listen to teachings on my iPod, but not really having any desire to do those things. I hear other Christians talk about how they LOVE spending that time, they look forward to it, and that they would love to be able to spend all their time in the Word or in prayer. And, truthfully, I want to feel that way. I love Jesus, I love the Father, I love the Holy Spirit. And yes, there are times I get into the Word, or into prayer, and feel like I never want to stop. But there are also times when I feel like I should do it, and not that I WANT to do it. And I don't know what that says about my relationship with God. Am I truly even in relationship if I'm not seeking time out with Him? Do I truly love Him? If I don't, and if this is becoming more about the Law (I must do this, that, and the other thing) and less about relationship, then how do I reestablish that connection? Because obviously He hasn't given up on's me who's walked away from Him. But, at the same time, it's not like I'm trying to be rebellious, or trying to not hear His voice, or really even trying to keep myself from the Word or from prayer. I'm just not feeling connected. And yes, I know feelings are deceiving, and that He's still here with me because He said He'd never leave me nor forsake me. I know that. But at the same time it's like I just need SOMETHING. A feeling of connection to Him to help me through the tough times. Because I'm certainly in the refiner's fire right now, and the heat and pressure feels like almost more than I can bare. I know that at the end of this I will emerge pure and shining and victorious, but right now I just need a little lift, and a knowing that He is sustaining me through it all.

I know I need a good mentor to desciple me, someone more mature in the faith to help me stay the course when I feel like giving up. But, unfortunately, I'm in a young church, and I happen to be one of the most mature Christians in the bunch. People look to ME for help, edification, and exhortation. But that leaves me hungry for someone to turn to who'll give me the Word back when I am down, remind me of His promises when I feel alone. And I pray that the Lord will bring that person, who can be friend, counsellor, adviser, and disciplinarian all in one. I know He'll be faithful in this.

Chris went out to lunch with one of his friends today, so I'm home alone with the kiddos. Not that that is a bad thing...sometimes it's nice to have the house to myself, well, sort-of to myself. And of course it's nice for him to get out and do something fun. My only complaint is that he really can decide what he wants to do whenever he wants to do it without regard for anyone else in the family. Whereas I virtually NEVER get to do what I want to do, and when I DO, it's because I've begged, borrowed or pleaded for someone to do what I normally do all day, ie. watch the kids. Just once I'd like to go out and do exactly what I want to do for as long as I want to do it without worrying that:

1. The kids are wreaking havoc in my house.
2. Whoever is babysitting is angry that I'm still gone.
3. Whoever is babysitting will decide they are NEVER WATCHING THE KIDS AGAIN.

Of course, most of the time the person watching the kids is Chris, or my mom, and they kind of can't say they aren't watching the kids again...after all, they are family. But, there is definitely a sense, from Chris at least, that I shouldn't be gone TOO long, that a couple hours once every few weeks should be PLENTY of time for me to have all to myself. And I have to say isn't. I'm not really a people-person. I like time to myself. And since being a mom, time to myself, BY MYSELF, is fairly hard to come by. And, my kids being who they are, even now it's not like I can go shut myself up in my bedroom for half an hour each day to regenerate...they would destroy the house and each other. Mitchell, particularly, needs constant supervision, and Owen isn't far behind. So, I'm virtually constantly with children from the time I get up to the time they go to bed...and then at that point I'm supposed to spend my time with my husband. Doesn't leave much time to just be alone.

I think I've rambled enough today.

Monday, June 8, 2009

So I Forgot...

Ok, so I forgot to say what I decided to try and start doing about my weight, at least for now. I've joined an online exercise video on demand site, Workouts On Demand. I like it a lot right now, and it's MUCH cheaper than buying videos on DVD. I've got access to a lot of different types of workout videos, I can download them to my computer so I don't have to worry about connection issues, and the instructors don't seem overwhelmingly perky and annoying, which is a plus.

I used to do step aerobics back when I was younger and thinner, and I LOVE it. I think it's my favorite type of workout to do. Of course, right now I don't have a step, and even if I did, I don't know that I'm in good enough shape to even handle the 4 inch step. But, I'm getting geared up for a step (when I can afford one) by doing the step video on the floor. It's at the right level for me in my out of shape state, and when it gets too easy I'll know it's time to add in the step. And it's FUN!

I'm going to start to watch what I'm eating too, but I am NOT going on a "diet". Diets don't work...they seem like they will, and then they always fail, because I can't stick with them. But I can make good choices about what to eat, and I can lessen the amount in my portions. I can choose not to eat just because I'm stressed out, or unhappy, or tired, or bored, etc., etc. But I'm not going to starve myself, or eat foods that I hate, or radically change my diet so much that I can't stick with it. I'm just going to try to be more mindful about what I'm eating, and work to make good choices when I do eat. I'm going to change what I know I have the power to change, and trust God to change those things which are out of my control. Because at this point that's all I can do.

So, I'll update periodically about how I'm doing, and probably say whether I exercised or not. I'll even post where I'm starting at, as soon as I get a chance to weigh myself and see where that is. In any case, I exercised for 20 minutes today doing a simple step aerobics video, so I've taken one step on my journey.

Can't Seem To Keep Up With This Blog Thing!

Ok, so it's been almost 2 years since I last posted...I'm REALLY good at this blogging thing, huh? I'm going to try REALLY hard to keep up with this, as now I actually have a little free time again with the kids all getting older. It helps that Mitchell will be off to Kindergarten in the fall and Owen is in a special ed. class in the afternoons in the fall, so I'll just have Lila home, who's really not too much trouble. I don't even know what I'll do with all my free time!

I'm starting this up again just because I really need a place to write about all that I'm going through...I'm struggling with my weight and trying to get a handle on that, and not knowing if that just means trying to watch my food and start exercising AGAIN, or if I seriously need to consider doing something else, specifically looking at surgical methods of helping me get a handle on it. I don't really want to do that, but at the same time if I can't lose weight on my own then I need to do something, because I just don't feel good at the weight I'm at. Plus, I've got injuries from a fall down the stairs that have been a source of constant pain in my hip and ankle, and I know that losing weight will help lessen the pain, but at the same time it's hard to start exercising when you are in constant pain. But, I need to do something, if only to be able to keep up with Mitchell, who's PDD-NOS, which is on the autism spectrum (Owen is also PDD-NOS), and is an eloper...meaning he RUNS AWAY at any given moment. Such fun.

Of course, other things going on for me has been processing and dealing with having two kids on the autism spectrum. Not that a diagnosis changes who they are, but the process of figuring out how to help them, what things they need to be successful at school, etc. There are times when I really just feel like I want to give up, but I know that that really isn't a choice. I know it is going to be ok. I know I can make it through the hard times, even when I feel like things will never get better, because I have seen improvement in both boys. I'm seeing them doing things at ages 4 and 5 that my daughter is instinctively doing at 2, like pointing things out to me when we're riding in the car, and engaging me to interact with them to do things that they enjoy. So, it IS better, but progress can seem slow, especially when I have 2 other children who are "neuro-typical" who just automatically do those things.

The other thing I'm struggling with is my faith. Being a pentecostal Christian, and a rather "radical" one at that, I believe that God has healed my kids, but the struggle of believing one thing and seeing another is tearing me down a bit. Lately I've been feeling distant from God, and like I'm a LOUSY daughter right now. Part of that stems from putting too much emphasis on how I'm feeling, rather than on His promises, and I know that. And part comes from anger, I guess, too. Like, if God wants my kids healed, and I want them healed, and He has the power to heal them, why aren't they healed? I know that I don't see the big picture; I only see my little part in it. And I know that His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts. But at the same time I just wish I could see it from His perspective, and know why we need to go through this extended time of waiting and struggle.

Overall, I need a life overhaul, and I'm hoping that getting to write about what is going on, what I'm struggling with, etc., will help motivate me, and maybe will help someone else not feel so alone. I'm not trying to be anyone but me, and I'll lay it all out here and hopefully it will be worth it.