Thursday, September 29, 2011

Believing God

Oh, I do love the Believing God Bible Study I'm in! I always leaving wondering, "Why isn't everyone in a Bible Study?!" I love the pursuit of learning and encouragement I get from the other ladies.
In Tuesday's video session, Beth said this, "The enemy watches us and finds out what we fear we are most and sets out to confirm it." You may have to read that a few times. This morning on facebook Lysa TerKeurst wrote, "A moment of conflict handled the right way is hands down one of the greatest ways to shame Satan back to hell."
Today was a tough milestone. It was the kids last day at their pre-school. I have not looked forward to this for a few weeks now. I've tried to prepare the kids (Eli thinks he's going to college!) and even more so, to prepare myself. A day without structure is often a not.very.good parenting day. Know what I mean? I want to keep the learning going so I'm contemplating (more mental at this point) pre-homeschool material and plans for our days at home.
Anyhow, I can relate to Beth's comment about what we fear we are most. For me, it's a not very good Mom. I don't know why because I know I'm not the worst Mom out there, but it's a tough world I'm probably my own worst critic. Or, Satan wants me to be my own worst critic.
Back to this morning. We did a pretty good job getting ourselves together in a timely manner. I made mention to someone that today was my last day of freedom to do what I wanted for a few hours. And, there response was, "Yeah, you'll actually have to watch your kids now." Salt to a fresh wound. On a scale of 1 to 10, my response was probably a 3. My internal response was a 10. Thus the cycle of critical thoughts about myself and my mothering.
"We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor 10:5
And, I recited my points from the Bible Study: In God's love I am blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven! And, I'm believing God!!!
I don't believe this person's comment was meant as spiteful, but they still hurt. I spoke with this person a bit later and this person had obviously not given second thought to their comment. Which, on contrast, I have.
But. I have not spent the day wallowing in my fears of my mothering skills. I firmly believe in forgiveness - asking for it and extending it to others. One of my main parenting principals. I will not do everything perfect. We will have rough days. All I know is to hug it out- literally.
So, in summary, do what you have to do to be able to discern truth from fiction. Know what the Lord, your kinsmen redeemer, has to say about you. And, Believe God!
{Also, if you happen to see or talk with a Mom, please share an encouraging word or complement her!}

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Southern Belle's Heart the Hogs!!!

For years (not exaggerating!) my cousin and I have not been able to find Razorback shirts made by Southern Belle.  We have had to endure our family members sporting their LSU shirts for ages.  The streak ended today!!!  Praise the Lord, Hibbett Sports in NWA carries Southern Belle shirts - including Razorback ones!!!  I'm pretty sure the sales people at the store in Siloam got quiet the kick out of our giddiness (Abi's included!)!

So, today, as the Hogs take on the Tide, I will be wearing this beauty:

Is there a better slogan for a Hogs tee???!


Check out the Southern Belle's website and let me know which is your favorite!  I have several and always room for more!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The good stuff...Part 2

This post is a testimony of God's touch on my life.
Although the Lord was ever kind in sharing with me in Lamentations 3 I had to have some tough conversations with others. Due to life's circumstances we are having to withdraw our kids from their preschool. Ahhh...cuts me to the core. But, I swallow, remember the verses about the Lord being my portion and waiting on Him. And, I press on. Chris was kind to cancel his plans for that evening so I could attend the Bible Study.
So, I show up to the study with 25 other women I've never seen before in my life. I looked around at the workbooks of the ladies nearest me (yes, I am that person!) and was in awe of the depth of care they put into their study. Highlighted portions, notes scribbled in the margin...and I thanked the Lord for bringing me there among Jesus Seekers. Right where I was suppose to be.
I soaked up their testimonies of what they had learned the past week. The leader did an excellent job at engaging the women, stretching our thoughts.
The video introduced week 4 - Believing You Are Who God Says You Are. Another area of my life I continue to go before the Lord with. Beth said some key things that I want to high light. 1) A season of sifting does not necessarily mean you are walking in sin. What a breath of freshness. Chris and I were like, "Show us the unrepented sin and we will repent!" It was God's kindness to show that sifting does not always associate with sin- but, God does have a place for us to go with Him...and somethings just can't come along on the journey! 2) Obedience comes from faith. This is ever true, but one of the hardest truth's to apply. All I know to do is to continue doing what God has said in his Word. To obey, to be faithful, to praise, to trust, etc. It is by faith in Him that makes obedience possible.
She spent a good portion talking about righteousness (and this is where it get's GOOD!!!). Righteousness was always a "thing" that seemed so lofty, foreign. Like, "Be Holy." She shared out of Romans 4:3, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Every time we believe God over our circumstance/emotion/reality, it is credited to us as righteousness. Ohhhhh. Verses 7-8 discuss the forgiveness of our willful and planned sin, along with sin in general and that the Lord does not count it against us. The terms used "count" and "credited" have their roots in accounting (I'm tuned in b/c of my love for all things business!)- God is not calculating backwards (our sins), but calculates forward based on our opportunities to believe Him. So...why is this so enlightening? Here are verses 4 and 5:

"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."

I about had to get up and immediately rush home to tell Chris. Did you see it? To the man who does not work but trusts God it is credited as righteousness. Chris later said, "We are busting the bank!" This is the Living Word. This is the sweet stuff. As I lovingly say, the hot-pink butter cream icing stuff! Just better than what we knew as best! And, in a room full of strangers I am quickly full of the Spirit- aware of His presence. Thankful for His encouragement. And, oh, how I longed to share it with my man- to encourage him. In fact, I got all teary eyed (for the 6th time that least!) sharing with Chris God's very Word for us. So sweet.

Yesterday, Wednesday, September 21 - WAIT - time out...if you recall from my previous posts, Chris had an interview on Tuesday with AT&T. He said it went really well, but we have been down that path before. He said they would let him know on Friday. So, we arrived at church early. I was in the kitchen sharing with Ms. Gwin (a beloved Jesus Seeker who encourages me so) about the study the night before. As I was twirling about (seriously giddy with God's revelation), Chris stepped in the kitchen door and smiled big, "I GOT THE JOB! HE JUST TOLD ME!" WHAT?!?!?! We had a precious precious strong hug. One where I'm sure it looked ordinary to all the on-lookers (all 5 of them), but to us was wrapped up in years of prayers.
Brandon (read previous posts to find out about him) stopped by the daycare to pick his son up and saw Chris. He said, "Well, congratulations! I was going to wait until tomorrow to call you, but I thought I'd go ahead and let you know now." I later asked Chris what he thought when Brandon told him that and he said, "Seriously? Thank you." And he said he felt like he could finally rest, that he had been so tired. Ah. Brings tears to my eyes as I type this. We just never really know how things affect our spouses.
I immediately called my parents who were out of town on a trip. They were elated. The next two phone calls were to two of my best friends in the whole wide world. The first I had to leave a message, filled with tears. The second, I got to talk with my sweet friend and we laughed through tears at God's goodness. This, dear readers, is true friendship. These girls have prayed for me, their husbands have prayed for mine, they have spoken Truth to me and over me, they have texted me encouragement at the Spirit's prompting, and they have allowed me to be a crazy mess on the phone. It is by God's grace they would even answer their phones when I call!
The Lord is so kind to allow this good news to be heard at our church. Our church body has prayed along side us for a very.long.time. Men in our church have cried (literally) before the Lord, asking for work for Chris, to honor his service to Him. To honor his desire to provide for his family. During the past two years Chris has surrendered to ministry- and he serves as our minister of music and youth. His heart is for ministry to be full time, but that is not the Lord's will at this time. A big hurdle to finding a non 8-5, M-F job was his need to be available on Sundays and preferably Wednesday nights. The Lord has heard his heart. So, it is just another opportunity to give Him praise all around! Our church body rejoiced and cried alongside us as we shared this great news!
Because everyone has other things to do than read these many posts (for instance, I would like to shower before getting the kids at school...and just saw the time and that will not happen!) I want to honor some key people.
Our parents have showed their love and support to us in different ways. But, they have all prayed for us and allowed me to get endless amounts of toilet paper and paper towels from their homes. (It's expensive people! Especially to the unemployed!)
Our brothers and sisters and their families have been ever kind to us. Giving us room to be ourselves and giving us opportunities to laugh. They have also been so good to our children. When we have not had money to buy them things or take them to fun places, they have stepped in. It has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
Our extended family and friends - your prayers have sustained us like no other. I know what it means to be out of words and out of groanings before the Lord. Knowing there were prayer warriors standing in the gap for me is priceless.
Our children who love us unconditionally. They have endured their crazy mother. Their mother who loves them dearly. A friend, mentioned before, told me that if at the end of this we loose everything but still have our marriage and family in tact, then we have gained it all. I have not once lost perspective on that. I trust our children have seen God's hand throughout this. In fact, I will close with their sweetness and their life verses...
I had the kids gather together and pray for Chris and his interview on Tuesday. Last night when we got home and settled in our pj's, we huddled together on the floor and prayed to thank the Lord for his favor on their Daddy. Eli prayed, "Thank you Lord for my Daddy. Thank you for being kind to him. Amen." From the mouth of babes...
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." Ps 150:6- Eli
"Every word of God proves true, He is a shield to those who seek refuge in him." Prov 30:5- Abi
"But, as for me, it is good to be near God." Ps 73:28- Caleb
"God has been very good to me." Gen 33:11- Osmon family verse
Thank you Jesus for turning towards me. Hearing our prayers. To You be all the glory.

The good stuff...Part 1

This post is a testimony of God's goodness.
As mentioned in Back Story Part 1, I was in a tough spot with my walk with the Lord. For the past week I felt a tug to get back into a Bible Study. I was praying for the Lord's direction and affirmation. With having three little ones I am striving to be very intentional with my time commitments. I get great ideas, but sometimes they're meant to be just that: ideas. I wrestled with offering a study at our church, but to be honest, I just don't have the strength to be a leader at this phase of my life.
Tuesday morning (9/20/11) I had a strong tug to get in the Word. Strong. Like, how fast can I get there? kind of feeling. And, I know better than to mess with that. When the Lord prompts, I am to respond immediately. I had to take the kids to school, but I was meeting my Mom for lunch later that day- and I didn't have enough gas to drive back and forth to home/lunch/school and whatever else I needed to do this week. So, Caleb and I were going to hang out at my in-laws (a central location)- I had my Bible, a Bible Study book, my pen. I was ready. Only as I drove in to their neighborhood I saw both my brother-in-law and mother-in-laws cars in the driveway. What? (Oh, sorry if you're reading this. Nothing personal, just needed quietness before the Lord.) I shook my head with aggravation because my life motto had become "Nothing is easy." Here it was, yet again. (Oh, later to find out my brother-in-law got his braces off which is why he wasn't in school and my MIL was not at work!) So, Caleb and I drove home. I sat on the floor of my room, in a corner, a place where the Lord was kind enough to meet me a few weeks back. I opened my Bible to Lamentations 3. Not sure I've ever on-my-own gone there. But again, the Lord was prompting. Here is a glimpse of what Jeremiah had to say:

"He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. he has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead. He has walled me in so I cannot escape." (2-7)

Oh, such sweet words of comfort for me. The Lord was showing me, ever so kindly, that He knew exactly where I was - just as he did with his profit Jeremiah. Keep reading!

"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" (19-24)

I had to shut my eyes and stop for a moment of sincere gratitude. Here is the pattern again, to remember and acknowledge the situation, but to bring glory to Him and acknowledge who He is. These Truth's have had to be washed over me many times. I have had to marinate in them- over and over again. I swallowed hard and agreed, "The Lord IS my portion; therefore I will wait for him." Ah, the sweetness of God's goodness. His Living Word made available as Bread to nourish me, His child.

On my way to lunch with my Mom I called some local churches to inquire about their women's Bible Studies. I shared with Mom my intention to go to Beth Moore's Believing God study at FBC Centerton. They were already a couple of weeks into it, but it is what it is.

While at lunch I shared with my Mom about Lamentations 3. And another verse in Lamentations that I will blog about later b/c it's so amazing. She was very kind to share affirming words and Words. Sometimes I feel bad that my mom has to hear about my crazy life (although we live it before them), but she does do her best to listen and commits to pray for our family. Again, not perfect, but desiring us to know Him more and to trust Him more. Man, have we had the opportunity!

Back Story - Part 2

This post is a testimony of the Lord's perfect timing.
Back story: We, Chris and I, have experienced every sort of crazy job-hunting scenario there ever was. There was this one job that his old manager was hiring for. He was one of two of over 70 applicants that had the experience and training required. And, he still had a good relationship with this manager. After a couple of months of wishy-washiness (my blog, my words!) the company decided not to hire for that position, although the manager strongly advised her director otherwise. There was this other job that was the EXACT type of work Chris use to do before, but would come with greater responsibility over a team, etc. After three interviews and a plan to have a decision within three days...NO WORD AT ALL. Chris was kind to wait a week before calling the HR Rep and left a message. No reply. Called a week later and sent an email. No reply. Such poor behavior by a company. There was also a job at a company near our church that did not ever receive Chris' online application or emails with his resume. A retired worker and church member did reach out to HR to offer a recommendation and reference of Chris' character - something that was so kind of him to do. But no word from them.
These are three of a long string of crazy situations. This stuff really gets a man down. Shakes his confidence. Makes all sorts of questions (that have no answers) to be pondered.
We had prayed all along that God would very clearly open doors and close doors. No trickery or confusion. So, although we were aghast at what was going on we choose to believe God for what is best. So hard, but so essential to having peace.
More back story: Our church has a daycare on-site and a little over a week ago someone was mowing and threw a rock up and shattered one of the teacher's windshield. While my dad was talking to her spouse, he inquired about his job and such. Brandon mentioned that he is a regional sales VP for a chain of AT&T stores and that he was having a hard time keeping a good staff at their Bentonville location. Quickly, my dad said something like, "Well sure I know someone who would be a good person for that position." Chris emailed Brandon his resume, had to wait a week while he traveled, and had an interview on Tuesday.
Side step: I read something on line the other day that said, "People often miss the silver lining because they're looking for gold." I wondered if that meant anything in my life. Gold = 8-5, M-F with lots of pay. Silver-lining = still God's provision.

Back Story - Part 1

This post is a testimony of God's kindness.
Back story: The past month (at least) has been an excruciating time in regards to my walk with the Lord. The culmination of a long journey of unemployment and its effects on us, personally and collectively as a family. It is as though the Lord was saying, "You like XYZ? You enjoy XYZ? Hand it over." I have had to have conversations with our bank, our mortgage provider, our children's preschool, and several government agencies that I had never dreamed of having. There is an emotional toll that comes with submitting to the Lord. The discipline of trusting Him, re-directing my heart and thoughts to Him, and honoring Him despite my natural instincts to throw my hands up, scream, and have a pity party - is flat out exhausting and hard. Not that I have a perfect record over the past two years, but I would like to believe the journey has shaped me to reflect Him better. I have discovered/decided that there is no other way to be before the Lord than to be honest. In my case, to share with Him how raw I felt. I took/take great comfort in the cries of David in Psalms and the pleas of Jeremiah in Lamentations. And, if they could say their heart before the Lord and it make it in the Bible, then I can be transparent before Him too! Not questioning His sovereignty, but being honest before Him. David and Jeremiah always ended their cries with praise and affirmation of who He is - and I did my best to follow in their footsteps.
Back to my state of being during this time...when I thought of Jesus, I could see Him near me, but his back was turned to me. I knew He loved me, but I did not see his goodness towards me. (Listen, I know that even through all this I have much to be thankful for. And, in deed I am. This is an effort of a mere imperfect person sharing how the One perfect person met me where I was in my time of need.) My scariest thought was just how low he would take me before turning towards me again. Not pretty, is it? I had a very deep desire for Him to speak, to show me relief. Our church hosted Beth Moore's simulcast a few weeks ago and here was my challenge- if I really wanted to hear from the Lord then I was going to have to submit my frustrations/longings/angst to Him and LET Him touch me. That's hard because some days I felt as though I had the right to be mad. I was walking back to my seat and Beth said, "When you think that God is not good, know that He is great." Do what?! Did I just hear her say what I thought she said?! I quickly captured that in my Bible- numb that she just addressed (all the way in Lubbock, TX) exactly what I had been struggling with. She also said, "In your darkest moment you may be in the cleft of the Rock and He is hiding you there with his hand." Another hard Truth to allow to penetrate my weary soul.
I share all this because you too may have a weary soul. Keep reading...the good stuff is soon to come!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

For Sale!

I need to write a couple of posts about last week, but for now, what's big is that as of today our house is officially FOR SALE! The tips of my fingers are well worn due to pulling weeds, Magic-Erasing (is that a task?), touching up paint, and who knows what else!
We are not using a Realtor, although we would definitely welcome and honor a buyer's Realtor. Since we are FSBO, please consider mentioning our house to anyone you may know looking to purchase in the Centerton or west Bentonville area. There is more information and photos at the house's blog. (Hey, it's a free service!)
Thanks again for praying for a timely sale and for passing the word along!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is it Monday?

Mercy! It sure feels like it! What a day! I'm emotionally and physically exhausted! Wait. I didn't exercise though! Folding all the laundry will have to count!
We had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. My cousin, his wife, and their three kids came up from Dallas. What a treat! We haven't spent quality time with them since probably we had children! We kept the food simple so that we didn't have to spend all our time in the kitchen and let's give God the credit for the miraculous weather! The older boy cousins (plus Chris representing me!) built a tree house for the younger cousins. So fun! And, it kept the kids out of the house and TIRED! A mother's dream! I'll have to find a picture to post of it- it's impressive!
Sunday my Dad preached a wonderful sermon from 1 John 2. In fact, Chris mentioned that it might have been the best sermon he had heard! I sang with Chris on the praise team b/c all his regular peeps were out of town. I wasn't worth much- sometimes when life gets really raw it's hard to praise Jesus with words. Tears seem so much more appropriate. Dad's sermon seemed written for his children and nieces and nephews. He spoke on seeing Jesus as he is, on the throne and we will recognize Him, partly by his scars. And, he will recognize our scars for serving Him. Do you have scars of serving the Lord? Woah. Chris made mention today that we were getting scars for Jesus. I said, "I may not can see them, but I feel every bit of them." Just how life is right now. Anyhow, I feel fortunate that the Lord speaks directly to me, where I am, and in kind, gentle words. It makes the unbearable bearable.
Monday was a good day...until the end of it. Even though we were only 30 minutes away it was still bitter sweet. I was dreading the return to our current life situation- counting pennies for gas money, not glancing at the ever increasing stack of unpaid bills, wondering how long all this is going to hold. On the way home Eli wanted to know (again) about Paul on the road to Damascus. It really is a lovely encounter with Jesus. We talked about how Paul would give testimony that Jesus does make a difference every day! (From VBS.) These talks with the kids has a way of stilling my soul. This simple truth cuts through the confusion and uncertainty. Again, I feel awed that Jesus is so kind to meet me where I am.
We did find a job at a local company that Chris applied for on Monday. We sent a separate email with his resume this morning. A man in our church who is retired from said company called to give a reference...only to find their system had NO record of his application or email! What?! Seriously. However, I am so thankful this man spoke out for Chris- and brought him to their attention. Chris is going to stop by tomorrow morning in-person to deliver his resume!
I also had the pleasure of getting the info from the realtor about our house. Roll eyes here. Basically we would need to sell our home without realtors involved to break even! AHHH! Over seven years in our home! This economy is killing me softly! I then had the pleasure of calling our mortgage company to discuss with them our situation. I was like, "I have never had to have a conversation like this and I'm not even sure what I need to tell you." But, they were kind in hearing me out and were thorough in discussing our options. We are trying our best to stay ahead of the curve, so transparency with the bank is the responsible thing to do. And the hard thing to do. But, I didn't cry nor did my voice quiver! So, I count it a successful day right there!
I have much to do to get our home ready, but it's like the emotional toll of all this makes me lethargic. And to want to eat. Bad combo.
I do want to say that I am thankful that our home is not in danger of flooding or fires. And, we had a wonderful dinner with plenty of food. These facts alone are more than most of the world can say tonight. It is a choice to have a thankful spirit. It is tough work to look for the positive and set ones heart on it. But, what is the alternative?
I told Chris today that I just wanted to vomit, but I couldn't figure out how that would help anything at all. He laughed and agreed. It would only result in bad breath and sore muscles!
I have had two Bible verses stand out to me in the past two days. One just moments before writing this post. It has to do with sobriety. I do not drink at all- but we all have vices we turn to to numb the hurt. I am going to pray about what the Lord is showing me. I already know what it concerns, but it takes a lot of courage to own His word for me and not deflect my attention from it. Obedience to Him is where peace is found. And, oh how I desire to have steadfast peace.
I've written a lot. Perhaps too much. I write to show an honest view of tough times. My life is not full of fun. It is hard. It's like a bad Monday on repeat. We have much to be thankful for and we are! As I changed Caleb's diaper today I looked into his big ole blue eyes and said, "Bubba, when our situation changes everyone will know that it is the Lord's doing and for his glory." And he smiled and we hugged and kissed. There is much to love about this season too!
Enough! I need to get on with what I need to get on with!
Thank you for your prayers for endurance and for Chris' job situation.

‎"A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end," -Jesus Lives.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The house

I'm going to try and make myself write more- even if it's just a short note about the days events.
Our next step on this roller-coaster ride of life we're on, is to sell our house. {I'm working to not refer to it as "our home."} The Lord has allowed us to stay in our home, err, this house during this time, but it is time to sell. We are not near foreclosure and would prefer to stay that way. After I made an appointment with the Realtor I looked at Caleb and said, "It's only material possessions. It's only material possessions." And, he agreed. At least in spirit!
There are many more questions than we have answers to. I do not know how much more the Lord will require of us. But, He allowed us to have this shelter to begin with and He will provide for us in the next phase.
When I get overwhelmed with all the decisions and emotions of it all I find myself saying, "Just do the next thing. The one next thing." Often that's just washing up the bottles. Or changing the clothes in the washer. Or taking a shower. Just the one next thing.
Please be in prayer for our family. As mentioned, there are not near enough answers for the questions we are asking. We are blessed with health and a joyful family. Please pray for a buyer for our home (err!) (quickly!) and for arrangements for where we'll call home next. I would also covet your prayers for my emotional well-being. It is tough and when it gets tough my levels of patience and kindness tend to dry up! Which makes for a tough time on everyone around me. And, really, all I want to do is hold my children close to me. That those moments, not the irrational ones, would be what they remember about their Mom.
Speaking of, it's time to go pick up some! Any tips on keeping a house tidy with a 4 year old, 2 3/4 year old, and 3 month old?!?!?! Praise the Lord no animals are involved!

Here's a slideshow we made a while back when we tried to sell last...

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: 440 Walker Street
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