Heart of Esther

"And who knows but that you have come to this position for such a time as this?" –Esther 4:14

Picking up the pieces December 15, 2011

I feel sometimes like a vortex.  A big black hole inside of me is sucking all of me into oblivion.

But, I see so clearly two roads before me…  

The first is heavy with the ugliness of grief-animosity, anger, anxiety and depression. This road makes us bitter and hard and unable to really be filled with faith, have peace, or love deeply.

The other still has the burden of sadness but is heading down a path of healing and hope.  This one is harder.  It makes us vulnerable.  But it softens us, helps us appreciate life and the blessings we have, and makes us better friends, parents, people.  It gives us perspective into another’s struggles.  It gives us compassion, mercy. 

Grace.

I know in my heart that I can choose to surrender to the entrapment of grief  or rise above and accept His peace.  Jesus talks of a becoming like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven.  A little child doesn’t always understand but fully trusts his parents.  I guess I need to fully rest in His grace.  I know I can trust my pulverized heart in His hands.  I never imagined going through the unthinkable of losing a child and having my very heart ripped from my chest and being able to somehow still breathe, still carry on.  Though I’m not quite sure what carrying on looks like yet.  In Him, lies my only hope.  I know I can only do this with Him.  I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have Him to bring hope to my despair and healing to this deep and intense pain.

There is such vulnerability in grief.  There is such liability in vulnerability.  And yet there is power in vulnerability.  

In knowing that I am not too hard-hearted to let love wash over me.  That in this weakness, strength will be there.  Not my strength.  But my dependence on Him and His strength.  I want to make it through this to the other side.  I want to finish the race set before me.  I don’t want life and pain to conquer me.  I want to beat this.  

I want to be a survivor.

So here I am, picking up the pieces…

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fix our eyes December 10, 2011

I’ve been contemplating death and the hereafter lately.  To be honest, it’s not something I’ve given much thought to before-not really.  Heaven sometimes seems like this far off fairytale and not real.  But its been so impressed on my heart how real and present it is.  I know as a Christian it seems silly that I’ve never mulled over the topic before, but I haven’t.  I think the reason I’ve never given it much thought is because death is so mysterious and I never wanted to dwell too much on it.

I think the Lord has been showing me that there is so much more to LIFE than this one here on earth we see and we know.   This is our temporary, our beginning.  After this, well-the Bible says its eternal.  Our minds cannot even comprehend this.  Forever.  I’ve been understanding that this life here is just as the Bible says-here today and gone tomorrow.  So brief and yet there is so much more.  My heart is full of this vision of not just death but life.  It’s understanding that this life isn’t as real as the next.

Fix your eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.  (Acts 20) 

Then I read this book, “Heaven Is For Real” and it had me thinking even of our purpose in heaven (other than the obvious-our relationship with and worship of the Lord).

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back  -             By: Todd Burpo, Lynn Vincent

So I have been thinking lately-Andrew’s life began for a reason.  Who knows what purpose the Lord has for him in heaven?

It’s hurts so much to have lost him and all he meant to us.  So, I will choose instead to feel honored that God allowed me to have Andrew. And to even in a way that can only be understood through knowing Christ, that somehow, the pain will make me better.  The fire refines us if we allow it to.  It’s the struggle, the choice, to allow it to make me better that’s the hardest.  It’s easier to fall into my pain, anger, even bitterness.  But He wants so much more for me.  This is what it means to die to really live…


 

SIMPLE PARENTING HELP November 4, 2011

We as mothers make our job so much harder when don’t realize that the way our children respond is due to how they are taught to respond…(clearing throat) by US!  Being consistent with anything you want to train them is essential. So how are you talking to your children consistently? Do you use a soft voice laced with manners? Does your tone change when you are out in public and you know you are being heard? How are our children talking TO us and to others?

A pastor’s wife shared her story of how embarrassed she was to be caught yelling at her children in the middle of the living room when someone from their church dropped by for a visit. There she was, windows open, in full view of her unannounced visitors, screaming at her children. After that, she reassessed: if my children listen to me when I yell, I’ll train them to listen the first time, to my soft voice. That meant lots of disciplines when requests weren’t followed promptly, but it didn’t take long before the children caught on and were TRAINED to listen the first time to her “nice” voice. I realized when I acted out of frustration the third or fourth time I’d repeated myself by yelling or disciplining, I was unconsciously instructing my children to obey at that point, instead of the first time I asked. Now, there are consequences for not obeying the first time, and to be honest, I feel like a nicer Mommy because I’m not getting angry and yelling. I’m sure I sound nicer to those who listen to me, too! 😉

I also found myself saying something and often getting no response.  Toddlers are GREAT at ignoring.  It’s a testing time.  I found making them respond to me by saying “Yes, Mommy!” (cheerfully) was making them pay attention, and proving to me that they DID hear me. We also think it’s a good way for children to learn respect. Some people insist their children respond with a “yes, ma’am” or “yes, sir”, but we have always been okay with just a “yes, Daddy,” or “I’d be happy to!”.  I do like them to answer adults with their titles or names, such as “Yes, Teacher” or “Yes, Miss Laurie”.

We’ve also faced problems with jobs getting done halfway. First, be sure the thing you are asking your child to do, they are mature enough to handle! We also have a rule in our house “if you don’t know something-ASK!”.  It’s simple enough but let’s them know its always alright for them to ask a question or ask for help.  But after that, sometimes jobs get done halfway out of laziness or hurriedness. So listening is also doing the thing you were asked to do all the way!

One thing we try to reinforce in our home is working and obeying with a cheerful heart. The Bible says a joyful heart is like medicine. One of the scriptures our children know well is:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars!” Philippians 2:14-15.

We encourage them that if they learn to cheerfully obey; they will shine like stars-at home, at work, at play!! We often may need to remind them: “Are you obeying quickly, cheerfully, and all the way?”  It makes for a pleasant atmosphere in our home when there isn’t grumbling and complaining.

If we reinforce at home obeying in these ways, our children will learn to hear God’s quiet voice. Our children will have struggles their whole lives, but if they learn to obey God early on, they will lead a blessed life! 

 

RID ME OF MYSELF November 2, 2011

My daily journey, my struggle, is to learn not to despise when things do not work out for me-when I am hurt, or when I am in a desert place.  When life is easy, good, or moving at a busy pace; it’s harder for me to see God in the details.  I love how God is in the details. He loves details!  He shows Himself strong in the small. It’s the little things in my life where I want the big changes. I want to respond His way instead of my own.  For me, each time I’m in the process of an even deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord, He begins to reorder my life. It seems He is shifting and re-adjusting me and replacing even more of me with Him. He is also so clearly laying before me two choices in my response to happenings in my life: respond His way, or my own. I am learning not to despise the awkward or hard things because I am learning to see God in them, allowing Him to grow me.

This week has been a real challenge for me, but He is showing me He is teaching me through hard things. I don’t feel adequate. I feel helpless. I feel I am not good enough for my children, cannot meet my own expectations of myself, I’m not reaching out to others enough, not spending enough time in His Word…

In these moments, I find this is where I often grow the most.  Instead of feeling sorry or bad for myself because I lack so much, I am surrendering to Him who can do immeasurably more than I ask or think. I am totally committed to doing things HIS way. My prayer is that my heart would remain teachable through these struggles. That He would use them to show me how utterly inadequate and hopeless I am without Him!  If His Word says He uses the low things, them make me low.  If he uses the despised things, make me despised.  If he uses foolish things, then I shamelessly humble myself before Him!  I desire to live my life in full surrender of what He wants to do in it and with it.

May Romans 12: 9-21 remain on my heart:  clinging to what is good, honoring others above myself. Never lacking in zeal. Being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Blessing those who persecute me. As much as it depends on me, living at peace with everyone. Not taking revenge, but leaving judgment and revenge to the Lord who takes care of me. He is my Defender! I will not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!

I don’t rejoice because of the struggle or because of my failures, but I rejoice that I can grow in the struggle.  That somehow in my failure, He is able to show his strength!  I want the hard things to remind me that I must never lose my zeal, or my dependence on Him. When I am in full surrender, I realize this: if I’m being challenged, it’s because I need to be!!  May my heart and will remain always bendable before Him.  May I allow Him to do His work in me.

LEAD ME TO THE CROSS

 

CHEERIOS MADE ME LOOSE IT November 1, 2011

Do you ever have those days where just ONE more thing will send you over the edge??  Yeah.  That was me the other day.  It was just those little things that added up all day.  It started out by being woken up early (4am early) by a little one that is learning to live (and sleep) without a pacifier.  With a nursing baby, my sleep is interrupted as it is.  Still, I woke up looking forward to a little shopping trip without any children-excited to have some space and thoughts to myself (which is rare) for a couple of hours.  You have to understand, I am NEVER w/o my children.  Honestly, I don’t crave time away or frequent breaks.  When money is tight, we have date night at home after the kiddos are in bed.  My husband works long hours and we don’t have any family nearby.  We are also extremely careful about who we allow our children to be watched by.  SO, I do not get time alone (you know what I mean, Mommy’s-not even in the BATHROOM), mkay?? 

Anyway, myschedule was already too packed this week and I was stressed.  Not to mention not feeling well.  It was little things all day like my toddler unrolling an entire roll of bath tissue and proceeding to tear it up in little shreds and spread it all over the house.  Yes, I was getting more and more anxious for my outing ALONE!   I wish I could say something major happened to make me lose my cool and you could relate, but it was something so small and silly…

Ready to walk out the door, I’m running around like a mad lady sprucing up the house (no easy task after a long home schooling day and sports after) so we don’t scare away the babysitter and I get the call that I would NOT have childcare after all and that if I wanted to get a few things I had planned to get done, I had to bring all the children with me.  Sigh.  To be honest, I usually don’t mind taking all the kiddos with me and really and truly enjoy their company.  But this had been a particularly rough week.  I was tired.  I needed a break.  I had even fallen asleep the night before imagining myself with my coffee in hand, being able to casually rifle through a favorite store before getting my “have to have’s” at my not so favorite store.  I literally at that moment felt as if my day had been ruined.

I wish I could say it was something major that put me over the edge.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal.  My toddler spilled a bowl of Cheerios (dry-thank goodness) on my sofa.  IN my sofa.  And crushed them in between my cushions.  Yeah.   And I lost it. Let me reassure you, ladies, it wasn’t pretty. 

Still cleaning up crushed up Cheerios and beginning to feel ashamed for loosing it, I kept praying, and I realized that my day was probably going so awfully because of my attitude and because, in my head, I had planned for things to go my way that day. 

Then, in His soft and gentle way, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me and gently ask how often do we this in our spiritual walk?  I began to evaluate my heart.  It’s not that I had a bad day.  It went much deeper than that.  How often do we say a prayer or expect God to do something, or even put limitations on Him as to how we allow him to work in our hearts; and then become frustrated or even bitterly disappointed when things are not as we think they should be?  It’s not just our daily happenings we get easily upset and frustrated over, but major things like money, relationships, even death of a loved one.  Often, we even let a part of our hearts shut down to Him because we cannot understand why things aren’t going our way.

The only way to make it through is to be utterly abandoned to myself and completely open to what His desire is for me…even in the small things.  If I’m not, do I really trust Him?  Do I really believe He is a loving God who wants good things for me?  Do I know who my enemy is? (Hint:  the Word says that satan is the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy). 

I cannot always control what happens to me, but I can choose my response to them, and ultimately, my response to HIM!  After all, life big or small, is lived daily.  Especially as mothers and wives.  That’s why the Word says in Mathew to not even worry about tomorrow and to “Be careful, then, how you live-not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16. 

“Now listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

And, when Paul writes in Philippians 4:12-13 “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength!”

So, if I can learn to lean on the One who gives me strength and respond the way I know He would have me to respond first, if I can somehow squash this ME that gets in the way of what He is doing in my life (even if its responding well to spilled Cheerios!) then I can be refined and somehow reach toward the prize…

 

 
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