When You’ve Ignored God

As you all know we moved out here last fall and we are still trying to get to know people…making friends. I was blessed to cross paths with my new friend, Alicia. She has the most hospitable heart! The first time we met I told her about Lost Without Him. Then she told me about a women’s fellowship that she started with some ladies in town. She loved to make a meal for them and just have a ladies night with no kids. But she wanted to give them more than that. Not just food for their bodies but food for their soul. I suggested that maybe I could come to her gatherings and introduce a topic centered on some biblical issue applicable to marriage, mothering and life. She loved it! So we set the dates and began to plan.

We just had our first gathering last night. Our topic was titled When You’ve Ignored God. I shared vulnerably from my own Christian experience the struggle to keep God a priority in my life. That awkward feeling of opening your bible after months or years of neglect.  How strange our words feel as we bow to pray for the first time in ages.  We look at our dusty bibles.  With heavy hearts burdened with more than we were meant to carry, we say, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll be better. Tomorrow I’ll open my bible.”  What if we didn’t wait till tomorrow? What if we just reached out to Him now?

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. -2 Corinthians 6:2

We bring him our neediness, doubts, weakness and poverty.  We come hungry for what only He can give.  After we have tried to find it in so many other places, we return. Like the prodigal son we come back empty. Nothing to offer but a flickering torch.  And as the scriptures show…there is no shame in your returning.

Why did I stop praying?

Why did I stop opening my bible?

It most likely happened very subtly. Some overindulging in mindless entertainment here…a miss-placed priority there. Before you realize it, it’s been a while since you thought about God. A spiritual laziness sets in.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” –Hebrews 4:7

I missed God so much. I really had to fight back my hesitation to just put Him on the shelf again. Many doubting thoughts and shameful accusations kept me from showing my face to God. Like the desperate father in Mark 9:22 says to Jesus “…if you can do anything…help us.”

Jesus answers him, “If you can? Everything is possible to Him who believes.”

The man exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

And that was the cry of my heart…help me overcome my unbelief!

At that point I asked myself a really important question.

“Bri, do you believe that Jesus died on the cross?”

(How silly, of course I believe Jesus died on the cross.)

“Then why do you pull away when he reaches out? Why do you recoil? Why are you hiding? Because if you believe that Jesus died on the cross then you believe that…

– the shame you feel is the reason he died.

            – He accepts you. All of your mess.

            – He is perfect so you don’t have to be.

            – life apart from Him is no life at all.

(Oh ya, that last one? Ya, I believe that one. I’ve experienced how empty my full life feels when I leave Jesus out.)

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” -Ezekiel 36:26-27

So I began to read my bible. And it did feel awkward to open my bible and pray when it had been so long. Like seeing someone that you have brushed off for a long time and you just don’t even know what to ask them about. It felt a little forced. But the more I read my bible the more we had to talk about in prayer. The more I prayed the closer I felt to him. I no longer felt so far away; far away from my husband or distant to my kids. I began to initiate life again, not just react to it.

One thing I have to guard against everyday is thinking too much of myself and too little of God. Everyday I need to “get over myself” so I can truly follow Jesus. Because when I look to him…Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never coved with shame. Psalm 34:5

What ever it is that has kept you from seeking God, you can always return. We don’t need to clean our selves up before we approach Him.

He washes our feet,

He covers our faults,

He forgives our wrongs.

This is why He came. He didn’t come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive. And I can certainly attest to feeling dead inside. We bring him our neediness, doubts, weakness and poverty. We come hungry for what only He can give. After we have tried to find it in so many other places soon He tracks us down and carries us home. And there is no shame in your returning.

(I prepared a 4-day devotional for all the ladies who came to our dessert night last night so I’ll be chiming in on those this week. A little more traffic than usual 🙂

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The Hoarder And Her Can: a mom’s lesson in worth and potential.

A month ago I was watching an episode of Hoarders: Collection (um yah, sometimes it’s the only thing that motivates me to clean my house) and my ears perked up during a conversation a counselor was having with a client on her porch. He brings out a bag full of empty cans from her house and sits down with her and her adult daughter.

The counselor asks her, “So what’s your thoughts about the cans?”

hoarder: “I see potential in everything. Lots of things you could do with tin snips, make flowers, all kinds of crafts…”

counselor: “Well you said you see potential in everything except yourself.”

hoarder: “Well I’m too old for potential anymore.”

counselor: “So theoretically this can has more potential than you.”

She nods and looks down.

Now I understand that the hopeless condition of this woman’s soul is a product of a painful abusive marriage that ended 20 years ago. My beautiful life cannot compare to her pain and loss but there was a part of me that could relate with what her counselor was getting at. I myself had just recently questioned my own worth and potential.

A friend told me about a writer’s conference called Jumping Tandem. I wanted to go so bad and I really needed to go. Seemed like it might actually work out until my husband said that he accepted an invitation to help some family members four hours away. Grandma and grandpa would be on vacation in Mexico. Fiona would need to go to a birthday party and Tony would have a baseball game. Who would watch my kids that needed to be in two different places at once! This was a logistical nightmare! And of all weekends why must it be this one?

My thoughts turn to…

“Looks like I’m staying home to hold everything together, like always, (very dramatically) and always will.

It gets worse though. Check out these other pity party thoughts I was entertaining…

“Serves me right, though. I don’t generate any income for our family so why should I spend it on improving me.”

“The family four hours away has a much more noble cause so why shouldn’t Jeff go help them.”

“Don’t be so selfish Bri”

But my heart was crying out! …”I’m home all the time! Everything I do is for the advancement of my husband and kids. Just this once I want to go and invest in me. Seriously my time away would amount to less than 24hours. Can’t I have that Lord? Am I being so selfish in wanting this?”

Then I thought of the hoarder and her can. And I thought of all the potential I see in my dear friends. If they ever came to me with such lies and an invitation to a pity party I would immediately tell them to stop it and do what ever it took to go to that conference. I knew I had much more potential than trash. My dreams, desires and talents are always worth fighting for. Pursuing dreams will usually be inconvenient on some level. Inconvenient for me and my family.

I felt like the Lord was saying, “Well how bad do you want this Bri, ’cause I’m not going to make it easy for you. Do you think it’s worth all this. Are you worth all this? Do you believe you are worth investing in?

The hoarder refused to have a vision for her life. I knew that I didn’t want to get stuck in that kind of self-depreciating rut – I wanted to get in my groove!

Ok you moms, how many times have you had those same thoughts?

…”Husbands and kid needs come first all the time. How could I ever ask them to bend over backwards on my behalf?”

Well picture yourself 40 years in the future and hearing the same words that our hoarder’s daughter told the counselor “It’s hard to hear my own mom say that there is more potential in a something that is trash than there is in her.”

I do believe that our kids and husbands take great pride in watching us pursue impossible dreams. Have you ever stopped to wonder that just maybe they would love to bend over backwards on your behalf the same way you love to do it for them? Seriously, we only need to ask. But we won’t ask if deep down we don’t think we are worth it.

The Lord was not making this weekend event difficult so as to cruelly dangle some unattainable fruit in my face. He really wanted me to see that I was worth fighting for. I think The Lord wanted my husband and kids to see me fighting for this dream too. I think He smiled in relief when I decided that I was. After all, He paid so much for me. With His very life He told me how much I was worth.

 -Here’s A Good Word-

Twice Paul encouraged Timothy to pursue his talents and invest in himself.

Do not neglect your gift…. -1 Timothy 4:14

…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you… -2 Timothy 1:6

-Your Thoughts-

What are some dangers of having that pity party in front of your husband and kids?

I would never want my kids or husband to feel like they were the reason I never did the things I always wanted to.

Tell me about a time that the Lord did not make it come easy, whatever it was.

Is it easier for you to invest family resources into every member of the family except you? Why?

Tomorrow… I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Was I able to get it together to go to the JumpingTandem conference? How hard would I have to fight for this… and a special message from My Darling (husband Jeff)