Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fulfilling My Calling? (or missing the clues?)

Here's what's on my mind today: how do you know where God wants you to focus your energy? I'm talking the BIG picture here. Aside from being a good wife and mother (and all the "jobs" that fall under those two categories), how does God want me to use the rest of my time? And, maybe even more on target, how do you know if the thing you're doing is THE thing God wants you to be focusing your energies on? I guess this post is all about our calling. How do we know when we're following where He's trying to lead us?!

Why am I pondering such things today? This whole concept has been on my heart for a few months, and lately it seems to rise to the surface daily. I guess that means this is, in fact, something God is trying to guide me in. He wants my attention. (Well, He certainly has it.) I've had lots of moments lately of thinking that God has blessed me with certain gifts, and it would be silly (and even sinful) to not make use of the gifts He's given me. I believe that we all are called by God for something. Every Christian. I know that the season of life I'm primarily in right now is motherhood. And, even more specifically, being a homeschool Mom. Already the reward has been great. Already my faith has been boosted by how closely I've had to stay to my Abba Father since beginning this journey. Any amount of success that has come into our lives during this homeschooling journey, has come because of God's blessing and direction. It has been a fun ride with God, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon! 

I know that being called to be a homeschool Mom is huge in and of itself. I am not in any way downplaying that. But here's the rest of the story: my role as "wife" and "homeschool mom" aren't the only roles I have. I am also a part-time bank teller and a part-time Shaklee distributor. These are things that, when I'm doing them, take me away from that first calling of homeschool Mom. It's worked OK so far, but I'm not totally sure just where those two things fit into my life as of late. Each of them in a certain way fulfills something that I know I'm gifted in, yet I don't feel "called" to do either of them right now. In fact, in some ways, I'm getting very resentful that I even HAVE to do them! Is this just a heart issue that I need to deal with, or does it mean it's time to move on?  I do feel called by God to write and encourage others. But then there's the whole financial aspect of it all. How does God want me to bring an income into this family right now? Or does He? How do I know if I'm just wanting to close the door on something because it's become too hard or uncomfortable, versus truly feeling that God is calling me to use my time elsewhere? Is God wanting me to continue learning things from the bank and from Shaklee that He'll later use in other ways? Oh how I want clear direction on this.

I don't want to just be "busy." I hate that. But, of course, with 3 children we are plenty busy all the time. I certainly don't have to seek for ways to be busy...I have to seek for ways to say "no" and slow down the train every once in a while. Is it just society that we're all so busy and frazzled all the time...or is it just the fact that I'm now the parent instead of the kid?  I mean, I remember when I was little actually feeling bored. When was the last time you were bored? Seriously. Bored? Does such a thing exist anymore? I would love to be bored. Just give me 30 minutes of boredom...I could handle that! Am I trying to get a handle on the "busyness" or am I being lazy? I am struggling with every aspect of this right now.

I guess until I sense God throwing one door open wide or closing another, I'll just continue to pray and stay on the current course. I just can't help feeling lately that this isn't it. That God has other plans for me. Maybe He does and now is just not the right time? Maybe I have more to learn first? All I can do for now is do my best to daily bring glory and honor to His name in all that I do. Even if "all" I do is be a wife to Dave; a Mom to Luke, Mikayla, and Hannah; and a friend and encourager to whoever He puts into my path...oh and sometimes my "path" comes by way of the bank and Shaklee. (Not to mention try to do a good job of taking care of myself.) Not too shabby of a "calling" when I put it like that. But I still can't help feeling that this isn't all God has in store for me "when I grow up." Hmmmm....going to have to keep praying about that one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Gift of Grace

It's been a few days since I last posted on here, but I've been thinking about what I wanted to say for a good week. I try to use this blog to sort out what I hear God revealing to me and hopefully in the process of posting those things, I encourage some of you as well. I've been thinking a lot lately about grace. And apparently so are lots of others, because between Facebook and the e-newsletters that I receive there has been a LOT said about grace in the last week or so. Do you struggle with receiving grace? I sure do. I realized that because I have such a hard time receiving God's grace in certain areas in my life, I then don't offer myself any grace in those areas either. Makes sense really. How can I give myself grace if I haven't first received the gift of grace that God offers me?

Have you ever looked at it quite like that before? Refusing a gift from God? I mean, come on. Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? It reminds me of this story I heard: There is a guy who is traveling across the ocean on this big, beautiful ocean liner. He's tucked away in the bottom of the ship, huddled in this dark, dingy room with just a cot to sleep on. When he gets hungry, he eats the stale crackers and dried fruit that he brought from home. His only source of drink is some warm water he packed away in his bag. He knows that someday he'll reach the great new "promised land" that the ship is taking him to. Until then, he knows he has to just deal with his not-so-nice conditions. Suck it up. Deal with it. This is his lot in life. After several days of being tucked away down in this room of the ship, someone opens the door and discovers him. They ask him what in the world he's doing down here. He explains that he's just looking forward to arriving at their destination and that he's making do with the provisions he has. The person looks at him with complete shock and says, "But don't you know? Don't you understand? This ship and everything on it is here for you to partake of! You need to follow me and see all the wonderful food and accommodations that are available to you. They are fit for a king and it's all for us!". Why live like a pauper when we're actually a child of the King?! I think we do it all the time.

Isn't that just what we live like when we ignore God's gift of grace? He's offering us an unending supply of grace and freedom from our strongholds. Yet we continue to hold ourselves hostage in certain areas of our life. What is that area in your life? I imagine we all have them. Something that you just can't stop beating yourself up about. Something that you know you should be doing better in, but you just can't overcome it. (And instead of shower yourself in grace and choose to do better next time, you shower yourself with condemnation and guilt.)

I think I am finally starting to get this concept. I'm finally starting to realize that none of this condemnation and guilt is coming from God. The enemy has me right where he wants me when I continue to wallow in these self-deprecating ways. Rather than focus on my areas of weakness and struggle, I will instead focus on the truths of God's Word:

Romans 8:37 - "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

Philippians 4:13 - "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

Romans 8:1 - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Let's stop falling for this lie! God is NOT up in heaven looking down at us and shaking His finger every time we make a mistake. He already knows every single thing we're going to mess up on from here 'til we take our last breath on this earth. WE are the ones shaking our finger at ourselves. We are the ones holding ourselves to some kind of unrealistic level of performance. It's time to stop accepting these feelings as God's, and start accepting His unending gift of grace. Next time you're tempted to add insult to injury by accepting the guilt and condemnation the enemy is trying to throw on you, do this: stop, say a prayer asking forgiveness for whatever thing you're tempted to condemn yourself for, then claim the above verses as your own and thank God for His gift of grace. And then accept it! Stop that negative self-talk! God has amazing things He wants to do in our lives. I think it's time to focus on where He's taking us instead of where we just can't seem to move past. I can't wait to see what He has in store for me next!