I use to pray a lot. Like fervently pray for everything. Then something happened that rocked my faith. A boy was injured from my hometown who I wasn’t particularly close to but my town is small. So our families knew each other well. My husband had even done some work for his father. It was a freak accident, he fell over during a baseball game and hit his head. It was instant, he finished the game and complained of a headache later that night. When I found out he was in the hospital and in a comma I hit my knees. I don’t think I have ever prayed for someone so hard in my life. I pleaded with God to spare him. He was so young and so amazingly talented. He would have done so much for the Lord. I went and visited him at the hospital the next day and when I saw him he looked exactly as I had remembered (I was in college, he was in high school at the time). Strong. I had a peace overwhelm me. He was going to be fine! I knew it! The next day Jake died. At first I was so angry with God. He gave me peace? Why? Then after the anger and grief passed, I started questioning, why do we pray?? What’s the point? God has a plan and he knows the desires of my hearts. Why ask him for what he already knows I want? Why plea with him over something he already has planned to turn out a specific way? And if I can change his mind, it almost feels like a popularity contest. The person with the most friends and most prayers survives. Is that my God? No. So I kept talking to God every day. I kept praising him. I prayed when people asked me to and for prayer requests but for the most part they were half-hearted because I figured he had it in control. And every now and then I’d really fervently pray for something but it was not on a regular basis.
I think I forgot all about this until this month. Silence from the madness of media has reminded me to pray. And in the meantime, I questioned, why Lord have I stopped asking you for favor? I still don’t understand prayer. Its one of the biggest areas of faith I struggle with which sounds crazy because for most people, its probably the easiest. I don’t understand why God steps in and intervenes in some situations and not others. But what I do know, is what his word tells me. Col 4:2 tells me to devote myself to prayer. 1 Thes 5:17 and Eph 6:18 tells me to constantly pray. And the biggest kicker for me is Matt 21:22 “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it." Ironically, this is the verse that made me lose faith. I had complete faith in my prayers for healing that day. Like there was not a doubt in my mind that Jacob would live. I actually repeated that verse over and over in my prayers. But for some reason, God had bigger plans for him than I did. And this is still where I question prayer. But I know I’m commanded to do it, and to believe in God’s power. So over the past week, instead of lying in bed at night playing Sudoku before bed, I’ve been praying. While driving in my car instead of checking my email on my phone, I’ve been praying. During naptime, instead of incessantly checking Facebook and GCM, I’ve been praying. I’m blown away already by the power of God. I think one thing that happens when we don’t pray is we don’t realize how many miracles God performs. Yes, he still knew my heart and he still made great things happen for me, but I didn’t realize he was doing it unless it was something major. When I’m asking, even for tiny things, and he directly answers immediately after…its amazing.
This is one area that I think media, aka smart phones, are a big downfall to Christians. We can take them to bed with us at night and continue checking the internet or playing angry birds (or in my case Sudoku or solitaire) and that quiet time that was once filled with prayers, is now filled with games. I’m trying to add this to my challenge this month. To stop playing games before bed. And this is HARD for me. Sudoku centers me. I’m weird like that. Give me some numbers to play with and the stress of my day melts away and I’m sound asleep within a few minutes. But I need those few quiet minutes before bed that I once spent with God back. I want them back. So I’m adding that to my challenge this month. What’s keeping you from praying?
This morning’s bible study was about living life full throttle and crashing and burning along the way. I’m realizing that I’m crashing daily. Hourly. Practically every moment. I’ve been completely absorbed and missing out on the greatness of my life and my family. I’m a big believer that moms need to meet their needs too. That no one person in a family is greater than another and we all have needs and emotions that need to be filled. Moms need to rest. Somehow I was sold a lie that sitting on the couch in front of my computer was rest. I check my email, 2 seconds later I check facebook, 2 seconds later I check Gentle Christian Mothers, 1 minute later I’ll look up a recipe, a few minutes into that I’ll feel the need to check my email again, then I’ll check facebook, than I’ll remember that I needed to order diapers on Amazon, as soon as I click Amazon I’ll decide to look up a new book to read, for some reason that will trigger the need to check my email, and if you give a mouse a cookie… Does this sound restful?!? No wonder I seem to have developed ADD. And let me add that while my mind is jumping from topic to topic I have 4 little voices in the background pestering me. Mom, can I have a drink? Mom, Coopa took my blankie! Mom, I sooooooooo hungry (this is after 3 pancakes, a yogurt, and a cheesestick all before 9am so I promise I fed her!). Mom, Mom, MOMMMMMMY!!! Just a second baby. Ping, pong, ping, pong…this is what my brain is doing! I’m a scattered wreck and I wonder why!
This morning was amazing. My typical morning I make the kids breakfast, get them fed and dishes picked up and then its me time. I sit on the couch with my laptop while the kids play or watch a cartoon and I get anywhere from 15 mins to an hour to just vegg in front of the screen. This morning after breakfast I turned on my Mumford and sons pandora station. Got out the big box of blocks and puzzles, sat on the couch with my coffee and watched the kids play. I read my bible study. There was an amazing peace in it. And rest. No one was screaming at me or begging for my attention. My mind was focused on one thing at a time. It was great. No I’m sure every morning will not be picture perfect if I cut my laptop out of the equation. Its not going to solve all the whining and pestering my kids do. But I’m hoping I will have more restful mornings ahead of me. And from now on, computer time is work time. Its not rest time.
I’m only on day 3 and let me say, Media is ROCKING MY WORLD. Well…this entire book has rocked my world but man….media is already proving to be eye opening. I’m realizing my addiction is not television. I know a lot of people who know me well will laugh when I say that because of my past love for television. Yes, I love tv shows. I love the life lessons in some of them, the emotions they bring out in me, the giddy feelings they bring up. They are an escape from reality when I get consumed in them. Maybe its not super healthy in some people’s eyes, but its not an addiction. I can walk away from tv for a day, a week, a month, and I’m fine. I don’t have panic attacks wondering who the next “A” is or over who won Big Brother. Ok, ok, Chuck majorly messed me up and I still cry when I think about the fact Sara can’t remember anything about their relationship but other than that one incident (I promise!), I can watch my shows and then walk away and lead my life without thinking about them endlessly. I’ve had a few shows that did steal joy in either making me fearful or angry and I saw that and cut them out completely. I was able to go on vacation for almost a month and not really think about tv at all. It makes me cry to admit this, but I don’t think I could go on a 4 week vacation and cut off connections with the internet. I can’t enjoy my children without feeling this need to be connected to the outside world. Its sad. I feel like I’ve slowly allowed Satan to creep in and steel a lot of my joy through social media.
I am a very relational person. I feel like for the most part, people are made to be in relationships and I even more so love them. I have 953 friends and counting on facebook. Honestly, about 945 of them I genuinely want to know better. (Of course every now and then we all meet people we clash with personality wise! ) I really do like to see their updates about their children and read their witty comments. So maybe I don’t need to know every single rep they did at the gym that day (and likewise I’m sure they could care less what I cooked for dinner!), but for the most part…I like how facebook allows me to get to know people I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise. However, no person is created to be best friends with 945 people. So its draining the life out of me trying to juggle that. Its like I’m trying to fill some void with the acceptance I get on there. I post a picture or what I think is a seriously hilarious comment (because I’m funny damn it!) and then I wait to see how many likes I can get or how many people comment. There was a period earlier this summer where I changed some setting and for a month everything I posted was only posted to about 50 of my 950 friends and I got very few likes and comments. I was in a major funk that month because I thought everyone stopped liking me!! This is serious guys. And the mind boggling thing to me is facebook is NEW. This instant access to whatever we want has not always been around. Yet I feel like I’m decapitated when you take it away from me. Like I’m losing an arm I’ve always had. I was just talking to my best friend yesterday about how old we feel because with our first babies we didn’t have smart phones or facebook or kindles. When we nursed them to sleep at night we just rocked them and nursed them (or sometimes I would read an actual paperbook book, lamp and all). We didn’t sit and play angry birds or post updates on what we were doing. When I wake up in the morning the very first thing I do before I start my day is pick up my phone, check my email, and check facebook. There are even times in the middle of the night when I wake up to nurse Lex that I check those things. WHY??? There is seriously nothing important in either of them yet I’m having slight anxiety attacks the past few mornings I haven’t been able to do this.
So here we are, day 3, and I have yet to turn on the TV. Yet shutting the computer has been HARD. I’ve always said I could never have an addiction because I couldn’t stand to be tied down to something. Yet all this time, I’ve had a serious addiction that I wasn’t even aware of. I’m very excited to see how this month plays out while I learn balance but in the meantime I need prayer! Prayers that my eyes are opened to the strongholds that the internet/computer/phone actually has on me.
This is the month I’ve been dreading from the beginning – Media! I might have a slight obsession with television and internet. And of course it couldn’t have landed at a better time – right in time for season premieres! I have my spreadsheet all put together of all the tv shows I’m going to be watching this season. I have 27 shows on the line up this season that I plan on watching. That breaks down to roughly 20 hrs a week if I were to watch all of them. Of course, I typically get bored with about half of them a few episodes in and sometimes pickup new ones along the way. But there’s no way around it, I like tv. Its my escape from reality. I also enjoy being connected. I love to check in on facebook and see what my friends are doing. I have my message board that I’ve been apart of for 6 years full of all my cyber friends that I have to keep in touch with. My email inbox currently has 1,508 NEW messages (4,292 total). That’s with me filtering all my junk out of my inbox as much as I can. I can’t seem to go longer than a few minutes without checking my phone and seeing if I have any new messages through one form of media or another.
Its time to stop the insanity!!
So I’m doing it, I’m cutting back drastically. I’m shutting the data off on my phone so I have absolutely no access to my email or facebook when I’m out with friends and family. I don’t think I can dive in and go completely drastic and cut out media 100% (I know, I know….) but I’m cutting back to 7 hours a week. That includes all my computer and TV. I don’t need anymore than an hour a day sitting on my couch vegg’ed out in front of a screen.
So here we go. If you don’t see me online much and I don’t respond quickly, you know why! Call me if you need me!! (No worries Heather…I’m keeping the phone just for you!!)
"If we keep the blessings that God has given us and don’t share them, those blessings will corrupt us" Oswald Chambers
I didn’t even realize how many days into possessions I was and realized I haven’t posted in a while. This month has been amazing. I think I could do this month for all 7 months. I have given way more than 7 items away a day too…its probably come closer to 70 than 7! Sadly, this is not a brag to show you all that I’m the most generous person ever…it’s a statement that I’m more of a hoarder than I ever realized!!! Oswald Chamber’s quote resonated with me so much because I had a house full of items that were once a blessing to me but now were causing me so much pain because I didn’t have room for them in my home. I had several sets of queen sized sheets and you guessed it, no queen sized bed! I had boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes and BOXES of clothes that fit no one in my house. I had pet supplies for creatures we don’t have. I had books that had already been read. I had toys not played with. Dolls unloved. Dishes unused. My list goes on for days. I felt so greedy keeping so many things that not only did I not use or even like, but that was making it impossible for me to keep my home clean. And it wasn’t that I was holding on to most of these things out of greed, I didn’t even realize it was there!!! I move things from room to room, laundry basket to laundry basket as I try to keep up with the madness of my home. Cabinets spill over, junk is stored in cute boxes from the container store to try in some vain effort to organize the madness. Its nuts the stuff we have that is SUFFOCATING me! And how I never realized it is beyond me. So…this month has been amazing. Letting go of stuff. I just hope and pray my stuff is going to bless someone and not bog down another family with more stuff. I have a lot more to go too! I’m hoping at some point I will feel like I’m only surrounded by purposeful stuff that truly blesses me (or at least blesses someone in my family!) and not just things in my way.
Freecycle and me have been best friends this month though. I think I’m starting to make the regulars on there question me. I popped out of nowhere posting 50 free things a day! I’m getting random emails asking why, offering to sell my stuff in their garage sale, and even asking for specific items in case I have that too! Its kinda funny. I’ve made new friends and received some things I’ve actually needed too! Its been a great month though! I may just carry it over to two months..we’ll see!
So today has been an exiting day! I got my Find Your Mark chapter set up today and I’m so very excited about it. I had an awesome conversation with a lady who works at Touch A Life foundation today and I was floored at just how almost simple it is to make a difference. They have 70 children at their care center in Ghana that they have rescued from slavery on Lake Volta. In my mind I had envisioned these big Guerillas with semi-automatic weapons guarding the slaves and it being dangerous and difficult to free them. In reality, they just sat down and had a conversation with the slaver owners, no money was exchanged, and explained that it was illegal and immoral and they handed over as many as the foundation could take in. They had to get the parents permission also before they could be released since they are the ones who sold them into slavery. None of the 70 children in the care center are orphans, they were all trafficked. Our chapter is committing to give $1800 a year to sponsor one of the 70 children. That roughly breaks down to monthly – $75 goes to their tuition, $50 goes to food, and $25 goes to medical. And its awesome because if there are specific needs, like new underwear for everyone, our chapter can raise money and buy new underwear for them all and the staff will hand deliver them to Ghana. We can plan mission trips to meet our sponsor girl too.
So now, time to meet our girl Forgive.
As soon as I saw her I couldn’t wait to hug her neck, I love her already! She was trafficked at a young age and was forced to work as a domestic servant, cooking and cleaning for her master as well as taking care of his children. She was sexually abused. Forgive was rescued in 2009 and has been learning basic English and math. She was about 12 when she was rescued (age is relatively unknown because the children don’t have birth certificates), which means she was too old to enroll in traditional schooling. As a result, she has been participating in vocational training programs and is currently enrolled in an excellent school in Kumasi, right near our Care Center. Along with the other older girls in our program, she learns skills so she can open a business or work a great job when she’s older. Forgive has said that she wants to be a hairdresser when she grows up.
If anyone wants to join our chapter you can like my Facebook group to get updates.
We’ll have an information meeting in the next few weeks to go over more details. We’ll probably do one or two fundraisers a year and they are hoping to set up the capability to Skype with Forgive so we’ll all get together to do that if they are able to set it up. Let me know if you have an questions or want to know more!
So this month is possessions. The challenge is to give away 7 items a day for 30 days. Well first 4 days I probably gave away 150 items each day and then day 5 I had about 40 books I was giving away and the person didn’t show up to get them! So…I’ve already failed my challenge! But not for lack of trying. I’ve been so looking forward to this month though for several reasons. One – gifts has always been my love language. But somewhere along the way I think I’ve lost touch of that and forgotten how good it feels to give. Two – I’m drowning in stuff…its time to let go! I’m already amazed though at how God works when it comes to giving. If you give, you get back. It never fails! I totally forgot that too and did not go into this month at all thinking I’d get anything actually physical out of it. I expected to get a lot spiritually out of it. I expected to get a cleaner house out of it. But I didn’t expect to be blessed with monetary things. And only 2 days into it I already was given winter clothes for my son and matching clothes for the winter for my twins! To get matching hand-me-downs is hard to come by!!
I’m reading Jantsen’s gift right now by Pam Cope who started Touch a Life foundation. So far I’ve had a hard time getting through it through all the bawling I’ve been doing. It’s a rough read in the beginning…but so far its amazing. I highly suggest it if anyone wants a new book to read! http://www.amazon.com/Jantsens-Gift-Story-Grief-Rescue/dp/0446199699 I’ll come back with a full review once I finish it!
I’ve been having lots of moments lately where God has spoken DIRECTLY to me. I mean directly. This Sunday for example…I was super excited about going to church since we hadn’t been in 3 weeks. After 3 weeks though of eating on the road and fast food I was feeling a bit bloated and I somehow misplaced half of my few clothes I had to wear for the month and all I could find was a few of the snugger fitting tanks. So for church Saturday night I had capris and a few snug tanks to wear, combined with my bloated belly I was feeling a bit self-conscious. On top of that I had a horrible cold and chest congestion so when the praise and worship started and I opened my mouth to sing I realized it was quite painful to do so. So I was sitting there during the praise and worship feeling quite miserable emotionally and physically and just prayed to God about it. I told him that I wanted to be home on the couch in my pj’s where I would be comfortable. I told him I was flat out uncomfortable right now but I wanted him to take that away from me so that I could focus on the sermon and get something out it. I had so been looking forward to it! So after my prayer the pastor comes up to speak and I kid you not, one of the first things out of his mouth was…”God does not call us to be comfortable.” What?!?! Come on God…it freaks me out just a little when you speak soooo directly to me! I swear too Pastor Kerry looked RIGHT at me too when he said it.
So when I first heard about the Touch a Life Foundation from my friend Deminy, it was one of those moments where God was talking straight to me. God had led me to be praying for children who were trapped in slavery in Ghana and this organization works to free exactly that. It couldn’t be any more specific to the prayers of my heart. So I’m super excited about joining them and starting a Find Your Mark chapter in The Woodlands, TX. Pam Cope, founder of Touch a Life, helped rescue a boy named Mark in Ghana from child slavery in 2007. Today they have over 90 children they have helped free and are providing long term care for. By starting a chapter, we’ll pledge to raise $1800 a year so that we too can “find our Mark” and help free him or her from child slavery in Ghana. You can read more about it here.
Please let me know if your interested at all in joining our chapter!
So we are finally home from our mega vacation and still trying to recover! We started our trip going to Oklahoma for my 15 year reunion, then to Destin, Fl, DisneyWorld, Legoland, Universal Studios, more Disney, back to Destin, and then home again! It was awesome and honestly not as exhausting as I thought it would be. Everyone did quite marvelous with all the driving…I expected much much much worse! Here’s a few of my favorite pictures from the trip!
I feel like I’ve totally cheated this month on my 7 challenge though since I haven’t had the temptation of my closet!! I’ve actually worn less than what I picked out too. I had one dress, which I mainly chose for my reunion, and so far I’ve only wore it that one night! Now that I’m shifting out of vacation mode though I do really need to think about the meaning behind this month. And next month is possessions…I’m looking forward to that one actually!!
I’ve had a few epiphanies over the past few days.
1. I’m messy. I knew I was messy but I guess I didn’t realize how many times a day I change clothes…not because I get tired of my current outfit…but because I’m covered in food somehow! So…that makes this 7 outfit thing a bit trickier!
2. My favorite cute white plain shirt is not near as cute without accessories.
3. My swimsuit bottoms are really comfy shorts. They may be my new favorite gym shorts so no laughing when you see me out and about in a swimsuit.
So we are leaving town today for our mega vacation! (Yes…we have house sitters so no looking up our address and raiding us! If anyone wants jalapeno’s though your free to pluck them from my garden!) We are traveling approximately 2,659 miles which google says will take us 45 hours which will more realistically be like 90 hours with 4 kids. First stop is for my 15 year reunion in Velma, America. Can’t wait! And the best part is…here is my bag for our 3+ week vacation.
I’m so proud of myself!! Typically that wouldn’t hold my undergarments. Clothes was the perfect topic for this month! Ok…off to load the car up!