An Introverts Journal, Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Excerpts From an Introvert’s Journal – Part 4

“God has used this messy health situation to help me focus on areas I have neglected.

Mainly ME.  I know that sounds selfish, but it’s true.  I learned that in order to be healthy; physically, spiritually, and mentally, I needed to be a little selfish and work on me.”

You may recognize the above quote from Excerpts From and Introvert’s Journal – Part 1”.  I’ve talked about how my health affected my relationship with God, my relationship with my kids, and husband, but I haven’t mentioned how my health affected my relationship with myself.  Which, it just so happens, is also a pretty important relationship.

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 8/29/19

“…lately with everything going, it’s tempting to give up.  To run away until all is well.  I’m sick of strained relationships.  I’m sick of being sick and the seemingly endless appointments. “

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 9/15/19

“With all my health issues over the years, and especially since March, I have really come to dislike my body…and myself. 

Not being able to enjoy food, to live life to its fullest, because I feel awful and exhausted all the time, is frustrating. And as things get worse, I wonder why I am so faulty.”

. . .

Faulty.  Inadequate.  Those are lies that I’ve struggled to silence my entire life.  I’ve always felt like something fundamental is missing in my makeup.  Being sick and having to be so dependent on others, just increased the lies, and I will admit I have believed them too often these past several months.

I have two main jobs that have made up the last nineteen years of my life.  Wife and mom.  And as all those relationships were hanging on by a thread, I felt like a failure.

My daddy, use to jokingly say as he snuggled me in his arms, “Kal, do you think you’ll ever amount to anything?”  He said it in a sweet, teasing way, and honestly, I never really thought about those words since those days snuggled in his arms.  But as I grew weaker, so weak that I had to depend on my husband and kids to sometimes walk me from point A to point B and all I wanted to do was sleep, those words my daddy never meant to be anything but playful banter between himself and his adoring daughter, suddenly popped back into my memory.  And as I heard that question, “Do you think you’ll ever amount to anything?” all I could think was, “No.  No, I will never amount to anything, because for some reason I can’t do anything.”

Thankfully, this spring God started bringing into a new light something I’d been interested in since my sister showed me it a few years ago.  The Enneagram.  When my sister first talked about Enneagram and had me take the test I came back as a six.  The Loyalist.  And its description made sense to me and I never questioned if that was really my number type or not.  So, I had spent the years since then believing I was a six and studying all things Enneagram six.

Until this spring.  As I was struggling in my relationships with myself and others and wanting to grow, I realized six didn’t make sense for me.  So, I bought a LOT of Enneagram books and began to study and dig deep into myself and all the Enneagram types.  I identified with most of the numbers, and I tried hard to work on growing towards the health in every number I identified with.  And every time I was in a place of pain and struggle I paid attention to what my heart struggle was and most of the time it boiled down to the words mentioned above.  Faulty.  Inadequate.  Feeling as though something fundamental was missing from my makeup. 

It’s of no importance to this post as to what Enneagram number I am.  Though, we’ll talk more about Enneagram in 2020. 

What does matter is that God used Enneagram to remind me that I am not faulty or inadequate.  That there is no important part missing from the Kalli puzzle.  He made me complete and full.  And He loves me completely and fully. 

And for every unhealthy, down in the dumps, self-doubting day that I had, there were even more days where He encouraged me through His word.  With verses like I mentioned in Excerpts from an Introvert’s Journal – Part 2

. . .

“It’s okay to be weak.  In fact, it’s more than okay.  It’s a good thing. Because…

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9”

. . .

And many more in between.  Here are just a few of those sweet reminders from my Heavenly Father…

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 5/3/19

“I heard you whisper, “Choose life.”

…  Choosing life is hard at times.  Really, really hard…but it’s not out of reach.  Life is right here with us in our hearts…Jesus is within us and as we continue to choose life, and let life dwell in our hearts, it will grow and take over.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Proverbs 4:23””

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 6/27/19

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:5-6”

God, thank you, that I can trust you with everything that is going on.”

. . .

Most importantly he reminded me of what Jesus says is the second most important commandment alongside loving God.  It’s to love your neighbor as yourself.  Love your neighbor as yourself. But I didn’t really love myself. And this journal entry was my big turning point…

. . .

Excerpt from “100 Days to Brave” Journal

“How do you think you can love others if you don’t love yourself?”

I really struggle with loving myself.  Even at the age of 37, I feel so unimportant, insignificant, unvalued and useless…

“Loving someone requires belief in that person.”

I have never thought of love this way but it’s true.  Loving God requires belief in God…

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…

Acts 16:31”

What if believing in myself, will save me from myself?  Saves my soul from the hurt and pain that comes from self-doubt and believing the lies of Satan?

God, help me to love myself with your love, so that I can love others well.”

. . .

Since that day, I have started to write down things I love, about myself, my life, what God has created in me and for me.  It has really helped me to silence the lies of Satan that cause me to doubt all the goodness God created along with me.

I’m not going to lie; I still struggle with doubt.  I’m human and always will.  But I believe that the more I choose life giving statements about who God created me, Kalli Schroeder, to be, then life is what will grow in my heart.  And instead of Satan’s lies choking the life out of me, it will be the lifegiving truth of Jesus that chokes out the lies of Satan.

Can I get an AMEN to that?!

This year has been hard, but God has never left my side.  Never dropped my hand.  He’s held me.  Comforted me.  Sustained me.  And he’s spoken life into all the sickness, hurt, pain, and brokenness that has come my way.

Every test that we were afraid would be bad, has come back good.  I don’t have cancer or any other life-threatening disease.  Sure I’m not as healthy as I’d like to be and I’m going to be struggling with some lifelong diseases and disorders but I’ll continue to hold on to hope that Christ will heal those, and if He chooses not to, then I’ll trust Him in that too.

I’ve learned to work with my sickness and rest.  Yes, it’s true that I take at least two naps a day, but if that’s what I need to do to function and uphold my relationships then that’s what I need to do.  Plus, I kind of love naps so I need to learn to be grateful for them, even when they are forced upon me.

And the strained relationships, well, I now understand why God gave me the words “Choose Relationship” for 2019.  I now know why He had me digging deep into and writing about relationship this year.  It’s because I would need those reminders myself, to carry me through these hard months.  And as I listen to His comforting words and allow Him to carry myself and my family through this season, I’m seeing restoration and growth between my kids and me, as well as my husband and me. 

So, even though sickness and brokenness are not God’s will…

NOTE:  I’d like to make my readers aware that this will be my final blog post for “Excerpts from an Introvert’s Journal” until after Christmas.   I’ll still be blogging weekly but, I will be focusing on the Christmas and Advent season and I invite you along as we start celebrating the life of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In addition to this, and in case you aren’t already aware, I’d like to invite you to join myself and others in the online Advent Bible study on Facebook.  We’ll be studying from the “Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope” study from She Reads Truth.  You do not have to have the book to join us, just the desire to learn more about Advent and Jesus coming.  Just go to Life Exquisite’s Facebook page, find the Advent group invite (I’ll try to keep it bumped to the top of our feed), and like AND comment on the invite post that you’d like to be invited to the Advent Bible study group.

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Excerpts From an Introverts Journal – Part 3

If the last two posts were hard to share with you, this one is near impossible.  This post, besides my declining health and constant exhausted and pained state, is the main reason I have not written or blogged since the beginning of May.   It kind of tears me apart.  Sharing this feels as though I’m ripping out a part of my heart and exposing it to possibly more pain.  And I’m not sure I can bear anymore at this time.   But because I believe God wants me to share my story and I’ve been working towards doing what Annie F. Downs has encouraged me to in 100 Days to Brave…I continue my journey of BRAVE.

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 7/17/19

“Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 27:14

Waiting.  I feel like I’m waiting EVERYWHERE!

Waiting for my health to get better.  Waiting for answers.  Waiting for miracles.  Waiting for quality time and relationship with my kids.  Waiting to know what God has for me.  Waiting for David to be home.

. . .

“Waiting for David to be home.”  You may have noticed in the last post that there was no mention of “us” or my husband when I was talking with my children.  The absence of his mentioning is because my husband travels for work.  A.  Lot.  And the beginning of this year was a very heavy travel time for him.  He was contracted down in Mexico right away in January.  He would be gone for weeks at a time, home for a week or less, then gone for weeks again.  This was our life through August.  Eight months, thirty-four weeks, 243 days.  And I only got to see him about half of that time.

Here’s a truth for you…absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.  Sometimes distance in miles creates distance in hearts and relationships.  This was the case for my husband and me.  Torn apart by miles.  Torn apart by silence. 

It wasn’t really anyone’s fault.  He was extremely busy in Mexico and I was busy being a mom of four here at home.  Most of our correspondence was via text.  And sometimes the only texts that traveled the miles across continents and our hearts were a “Good morning!” and “Goodnight!  I love you!” text.  I rarely heard his voice because international calls from Mexico to Wisconsin don’t always connect well.  And the few we had were with co-workers or kids in the background.  We were supposed to have date nights through Skype, but he had business dinners and I had kids to drive to and fro.  The dates nights never happened.  And when I say never, I mean pretty much never.

Until one day in August, when the distance between us had become too hard to cross, and we’d been feeling that distance tear at the seams of our marriage. But we knew we had to start trying to connect or we might not every be able to again.  By this evening in August, though, we’d grown so distant, so apart, that we had nothing to talk about.  We just sat in awkward silence, like two strangers trying to think of something to say to fill the space, instead of a loving married couple who had just celebrated nineteen years of marriage and growing in knowledge of each other those nineteen years.

A wedge of literal miles is what began to put a small crack between my husband and me.  The small crack grew with days of busy schedules and silence.  I wanted to talk more, but I didn’t want to bother him while he worked and was with his business associates.  Which was always because they shared a condo there.  So, I didn’t reach out to him.  I didn’t let him know that I needed more from him.  That I needed him.

He tried to share his Mexico moments with me through texted pictures.  But I hated seeing palm trees and sunshine when I was stuck in -60 windchills in the not so great northwest.  I hated seeing his fun beverages and authentic Mexican meals when I was so sick, I could barely eat or drink anything without being in the bathroom ten minutes later.  Not to mention, he got adult time to laugh and ignore the worries of life while I was constantly dealing with my health and separating fighting kids. 

I was growing resentful of my husband’s travel, adult time, ability to eat food, and a life that didn’t include me.  I had convinced myself that he was off having so much fun with his coworkers, in warm sunny weather, in a land that had palm trees aplenty and fresh fruit and avocados, that he didn’t even think of me.

Ugh…great I’m crying.  See I can’t do this.  I can’t.

I can.  I can do this.  Through tears I am going to continue to type out my story.  My heart, no matter how much it aches.

I’m not going to list all the ways that I felt left out and left behind.  There are too many to list.  And even though God wants me to share my story, so that others who may be in a similar spot can know they aren’t alone, and perhaps find hope in it, He doesn’t demand I share everything.  He leaves that to me.

But, I will share this…

. . .

Excerpt from Journal 8/22/19

…all I can think of is my marriage and the pain we’re going through right now. 

I’ve told a few people now, because we need wisdom and prayer.  But it is so hard to be in this place and let others know you are in this place.

. . .

Marriage can be hard.  So hard.  And it can be heartbreaking at times.  And I think that my husband and I had a lot working against us the first eight months of this year.  What with literal miles between us and separate lives those miles naturally created.  My growing resentfulness over his warm Mexican weather and adult interaction.  Our very busy lives when he came home that left us no time to be alone and reconnect.  All of this combined with me being sick and exhausted, leaving me unable to be the wife he needed me to be and that I wanted to be.

But even when it seems everything is working against your marriage; the truth is that God is working for it.  God is a restorer.  A healer.  A provider.  And God is providing a way to heal and restore your marriage. 

It’s hard to share when you’re struggling with your kids.  But sharing that your marriage is struggling is even harder.  When I decided to reach out to a few of my friends that I knew would encourage me as a wife and pray for my marriage, one of my friends said, “It’s really good that you are asking for prayer for your marriage.  Every marriage struggles, but few will ask for prayer.  We ask for prayer for sickness, we’ll go up in front of the church and have hands laid on us.  But when it comes to marriage, we feel like we need to keep it a secret.  Why is this?  We should feel just as free to march up front with our spouse and have our church leaders pray for our marriage to be healed, as we would asking for healing from an illness.”

Friends, I encourage you, if your marriage is struggling, tell somebody.  Tell the people who will speak encouragement into you and life into your marriage.  Tell someone who will pray for you and your spouse.  And then, do what we did.  Go see a counselor and work on your marriage.

I once heard Dax Shephard and Kristen Bel talk about their marriage and regular counseling that they do in order to keep their marriage healthy. And I thought it very wise.  And I’m paraphrasing and adding in some Kalli here, but basically, they said something like this…

It is with heartache for the broken and struggling marriages, but with hope and faith in the redemptive and healing power of our Heavenly Father, that I close this post with a word of advice from God’s Word and a prayer.

Heavenly Father, you created marriage. You looked at Adam and knew he needed his Eve. You created us and our spouses, and you said let no man tear them apart. So, God, I lift each and every marriage that feels like it just cannot anymore, up to you. I pray that you will put a flame of hope in the hearts of each broken husband and each hurting wife. And help them to know that, even if they feel like they have nothing in common anymore, they do have that flame of hope. May they bring their hearts with those tiny flames before you, God. And as their flames of hope meet each other in prayer, may they choose forgiveness and love. And may they grow brighter and stronger together, lighting the way to perfect unity. Amen.

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Excerpts From an Inrovert’s Journal – Part 2

Relationship.  If you’ve been following Life Exquisite this year, you know “relationship” was the word God gave me for 2019.  Choosing the good portion of relationship.  Relationship with Him and others.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write about relationship when you see some of your most precious relationships falling apart?  That’s right, it wasn’t just my relationship with God that was growing stagnant.  I’ve written before that our relationship with God flows into our relationship with others.  And as my relationship with God grew quieter, so did my other relationships.

When you don’t feel well and you are exhausted all day, every day, peopling becomes very difficult.  Even with the people within your own home.  And at this point, we didn’t know I had anything besides an ongoing, unknown infection that kept moving around my body.

My youngest two are still pretty simple and were okay just snuggling next to mom, watching a movie while I slept.  My youngest would even tuck into bed early with me so she could get some extra snuggle time.

But my oldest two needed a mama to talk to about the daily grind that is the life of a teenage girl.  But in my present state I cannot have great conversations.  I am so exhausted by the time they are home from school and work in the evening that I can hardly comprehend even simple sentences.  I can only look blankly, while I try to absorb what others are saying.  My brain is just a fog.

So, when my teenage girls tried to talk to their mama about teenage girl issues, I was beside myself.  I so wanted to be the mama, the listening ear and caring heart they needed.  I wanted to be able to give them wise council.  But how do you do that when you can barely remember the last word they said, let alone the whole entire conversation?

My girls quit talking to me.  They knew I couldn’t handle it.  And it hurt.  It hurt my heart not to be the mama they needed me to be and that I so badly wanted to be.  As I felt the relationship with my teenage daughters slip through my grasp, I began to pray and cry, and then pray and cry again. 

. . .

Excerpt from journal, 4/28/19

“It’s hard to feel the way I feel now.  Sick.  Overwhelmed.  Needing help when your supposed to be the one that can do it all.  It’s hard to feel so weak.  Physically.  Emotionally.

But I have to carry on.  I can’t let people know how weak I feel.  I have to be strong.  No matter what.”

. . .

Specialist were telling me I needed to rest.  But rest felt like admitting weakness.  Admitting weakness felt like defeat.  So, I didn’t admit it.  I kept on.  As one infection, turned into another, and then another.  I kept on.  As my inner body started failing me; creatinine levels rising, white and red blood cells out of whack, I kept on.  It got to the point that doctors couldn’t even locate the infection in my body any longer.  We only knew that everything pointed to infection.  I was on so many medications.  Prescriptions for pain, nausea, antibiotics…and rest and sleep often.

But for some reason I felt that if we couldn’t find out where the sickness was and why this was all going on, then I didn’t have a reason to rest.  It seemed like I needed a better excuse to rest than “my doctor told me to, but I don’t know why.”

But that same day in April when I wrote to God in my journal, about how hard it is to feel weak He replied…

. . .

 “It’s okay to be weak.  In fact, it’s more than okay.  It’s a good thing. Because…

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9”

. . .

I went on to journal…

. . .

 “Christians commonly misquote and misinterpret 1 Corinthians 10:13 to say, “God will not give you more than you can handle.”  This isn’t at all what it says.  It says, “…he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…”.

…I believe that life gives us more than we can handle.  If we could handle everything, then what would be the need of a savior? …

Yes, it’s really hard right now.  Yes, it’s scary.  Yes, I feel weak.  And like Paul, I’ve pleaded to God for help multiple times and He has not taken these thorns of health and strained  relationships away, but…

When I am weak, God, you are strong, and I am encompassed by Your strength.”

. . .

And I ended my journal on April 28th with these words…

. . .

“Don’t fear weakness.  His strength is made PERFECT in weakness.  And always remember He is your daddy and loves you perfectly.  And His perfect love casts out fear.

Be brave.  Get the help and rest you need.”

. . .

After this day, I had a much-needed conversation with my kids.  Up until this point they didn’t realize how sick I was, and even after telling them I was sick I didn’t alert them to whacky creatinine and blood count levels.  That isn’t something you throw out there for your teenagers to google. 

But I did tell them I was sick, very sick, and that my doctor was telling me that the best thing I could do for my health was sleep and rest.  So, mama was going to be doing less around the house and sleeping more.  This meant they’d need to help out a bit more around the house and allow me to rest and heal up.

And as I started doing that – which I wasn’t always good about because you know me, I’m a Martha and doing is my thing – I gained a few moments of partial clarity when I could engage in better conversation with them.  If I was unable to give them the attention they needed and deserve, we wrote it down and tabled it until I could better listen to them.  I learned to nap right before they came home from school so that my head wasn’t so muddled with the fog of fatigue.

Slowly, we were figuring out a new pattern during this difficult time.  Sometimes, well if I’m being honest most of the time, it was really difficult and frustrating for all of us. And there were tears.  So many tears.  Some of anger.  But some healing too.  There still is.  But through it all, back then in April and now in November, God keeps reminding me that while I don’t have it all together, He surely does!

An Introverts Journal, Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Excerpts From an Introvert’s Journal – Part 1

Since my last blog post, almost six months ago, there’s been a lot going on and I’ve been a hot mess.  Well, if I’m being honest, mostly a mess.

I’ve typed this post at least a dozen times, each of those six months I’ve been absent.  See I believe with my entire heart that God has called me to share my story.  Why do I believe this?  One reason is because sharing my story and listening to others’ stories is one of my favorite things to do.  When a friend and I sit on the opposite side of my couch, or across the table from each other, sipping a warm beverage and having a good heart conversation…while it can be so hard, it’s so wonderful too.

Another reason I believe this is because years ago, when I read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5,

2 Cor 1.3_5

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was telling me that there’s a reason why I so desired people to be real with me.  See I had this ache to be able to share my stories; the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the put together and the messy, the perfect, but mostly imperfect, chapters of my life.  He was telling me to be the change I wanted to see.  So again, and again I shared my story.  And so many times, I couldn’t get people, even my closest friends, to be open, and honest, and vulnerable with me in return.  And frequently, when I bared my heart, I felt judged and alone.

Now, before we go any further, and in case we are only friends by word of blog and you do not know me on a personal level, there’s an important fact that you need to know about me.  I am an introvert.  I need alone time as much as I need air in my lungs.

How odd is it that this introvert ached for people to bear her heart to?  Yet, it is the very thing I wanted.  I needed.  To be able to share my heart without feeling judged or like I was the only one who thought what I thought or felt what I felt, was becoming as important to me as my need for alone time and air.  And I knew I couldn’t be the only one who longed for this type of vulnerable friendship.

I began to pray that God would show me who to reach out to and invite out to coffee, or over for a chat.  It was amazing who God connected me with and how much my circle of friends changed.  And as these ladies and I began to share our hearts and our stories our conversations were full of much needed “me too” moments.  And tears.  Lots of tears.

I’ve tried through this blog, to invite you all to be my friend, because that’s what I want you to be, my friends.  I’m here, sharing my story, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the put together and the messy, the perfect…but mostly imperfect chapters of my life, because you are my friends.

And also because I believe Jesus wants me to.  I believe He wants me to share moments and chapters of my story with those who may need to have much needed conversations full of “me too” moments.  And cry.  Go ahead and cry.  I’m crying right now as I compose this post.

So, in keeping with my heart’s desire to do God’s will of sharing my story, here’s some truth.  Some ugly truth.  My hot mess…mostly messy story of the past several months from the pages of this introvert’s journal.

. . .

The first truth I am going to share with you, my friends, is that I have been sick since March of this year.  Long story short, I got the flu, that turned into one infection after another, that started wreaking havoc on my body, cause me to get a few different autoimmune diseases that have also taken their toll on my body in many different ways.

It’s been an extremely long and wearisome eight months, and it’s not over yet.  I have more doctors to see, more tests to run, and hopefully more answers to be found.  I am not telling you this because I want your pity.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I have not told you or many others.

I’m telling you this because it’s part of the mess that has been part of this chapter in my story.  I’m also telling you because through it, God has used this messy health situation to help me focus on areas I have neglected. 

Mainly ME.  I know that sounds selfish, but it’s true.  I learned that in order to be healthy; physically, spiritually, and mentally, I needed to be a little selfish and work on me.

. . .

~ Excerpt from journal, 5/31/19 ~

“It’s crazy how easy it is to get caught up in anxiety…or rather the distractions to keep you feeling anxious.

With my own body being attacked, it’s been easy to lose myself in the things that need to be done now that the weather is turning warm.  The garden and orchard, not to mention all the running I do with David out of the country the past few months, have served as the perfect distractions so as not to get lost in the “what if’s” of each new test result and prolonged sickness.

But these distractions have not only kept me from worrying about “what now” and “what’s next”.  They’ve kept me distracted from the kind of relationship I so crave and love to have with my Heavenly Father.”

. . .

You may recall that I’ve mentioned how much I love to sit in the mornings after everyone is gone for the day, with a cup of coffee or tea, and talk with God.  It’s one of my favorite times of day!

But I didn’t feel well, and it seemed all I talked to God about was what was wrong with my body, why it was failing me, and could He please help give us answers and heal me.  Having the same conversation over and over, is tiring.  Not to mention I didn’t really want to think about it because some scary things were going on.  So, these conversations, grew shorter and shorter.  And eventually, I kind of quit.

I didn’t quit praying, of course, and I didn’t stop talking to God.  But the tone of our relationship changed.  I didn’t want to think about my sickness.  So, I lost myself in doing, choosing to stop giving God my undivided attention.  Instead, we talked while I worked in the garden, orchard, or yard.  We talked while I did the everyday chores of a wife and mom.  But they were half-hearted conversations.  I couldn’t go deep any longer.  I couldn’t talk about what was on my heart.  And there was so much on my heart.  And more than just my sickness.

Until one day…

. . .

~ Excerpt from journal, 5/31/19 ~

Until this morning, I didn’t even realize I had allowed this to happen until I was working in my garden and I said, “I miss sitting with you, God.”

And his soft reply of, “Then let’s sit together,” reminded me that being busy didn’t make all the worry and sadness go away.  Busyness was just a drug to dull the senses.

The only one who can completely heal, take away, and support me through this mess was waiting for some quality time with me.

. . .

It was time to stop doing and just be.  Just be with Him.  Just be still and allow myself to think, to process, to talk, and to heal.

See it wasn’t just God telling me to stop doing so much.  Doctors were also telling me to rest.  But rest felt selfish, and lazy, and weak, and like a waste of time.  But if we truly want healing – and did I ever – whether it’s for our body, spirit, or mind, requires times of rest and just being.  And in just being God began to work on me in so many different ways.

I’ll share more of my story and journal entries with you over the next couple of weeks, but for now let me leave you with this quote.  It’s a quote many are given the credit of having said so I don’t know if I should give credit to Kurt Vonnegut, Rick Warren, the Dalai Lama, or my great uncle’s friend’s cousin’s nephew.  But no matter who said it, I believe it was God inspired…

human-beings-not-doings.png

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Prioritize Relationship

~ Choose the Good Portion – Week 11~

making the best use of the time…understand what the will of the Lord is.

~ Ephesians 5:16-17 ~

Tucked in the pages of my Bible is a little piece of torn notebook paper.  This little piece of paper has two jobs.  One is to hold my current reading spot.  But mostly it’s a penned reminder of God whispered words to me…

“Say yes to relationship.”

I heard those four words on repeat in my head for the 31 days that make up the month of December.  And I knew that was what God wanted of me in 2019.  Which is perfect because I love relationship so very much!  Time with my favorites is my favorite!

But if it’s my favorite, then why were those words accompanied by a feeling of intimidation?

Hello, you can call me Martha.  No that’s not my real name, but I am the epitome of this woman we find in Luke chapter ten.  Like Martha, I have spent many countless moments in anxiety and worry, distracted by what I think needs to be completed.  Because of this I have missed out on countless precious moments in relationship with my favorite people.

God’s whisper to “Say yes to relationship” was intimidating because it meant God was going to start some hard work in me.  He was going to make me let go of my Martha-isms, my ideas of how my home and life should look and be.  And I wasn’t so sure I was ready for that.  I wanted to “say yes to relationship”, but it seemed impossible because I also REALLY like things to be clean, tidy, and just right.

My fellow Marthas out there will understand.  At least I hope you will.  Marthas are wired to notice the things that need to be done.  And when we’re in the midst of undone, untidy, and unorganized, it completely consumes us.  No matter how badly we want to spend time with our favorite people we cannot quiet the voice of our “to do list”.

This means even when I’m doing my very favorite things, with my very favorite people, I am never fully able to “say yes to relationship”.  If I choose to ignore the dishes on the counter and play a game with my family instead, the dishes are calling for me; distracting me from fully entering into relationship and the present moment with my family.

As God started pointing me to this story of “Do-er Martha” and “Sitting Mary” this past fall, I thought He was just trying to teach me that my stress is because I’m doing too much and worried about things that I cannot control.  I had never seen the element of relationship in this story.  I thought it was about doing less and making time for Jesus.

Yes, that is part of what it is about.  It’s also about just being with the people you love.  Jesus knew His time here on earth was short and He wanted to spend that time in relationship with His people.

Friends, we have just a moment on earth, and the time that we have to spend it with our loved ones is but a blink of an eye. In this story of Martha and Mary, Jesus is beckoning us to prioritize what is necessary.

I’ve said before that I believe it to be no coincidence that the greatest commandment is love and that the necessary thing, the good portion, is relationship.  Hearts are the most important thing to God.  He created us because He loves us and wants relationship with us.  He also wants us to value others’ hearts and be in relationship with them.

The thought of saying “yes to relationship” may not intimidate you as it did me.  You may be more like Mary and being fully in moments comes more naturally to you.  But I can bet doing relationship and loving like Christ does isn’t always easy for you.  For every human being, relationship and love take some work.  And we must learn to prioritize hearts instead of things and doing.   We must learn to prioritize hearts instead of ourselves and our desires.

I’m learning to start my day with a prayer that God will help me set aside my preconceived ideas as I allow Him to write the script for my day.  That He will help me to remember to get out of His way so He can establish my steps.  And as I fall into step beside Him, that He will speak words of wisdom to me and teach my heart to value what He values.

No, it isn’t always easy.  Yes, it takes work.  Yes, it’s sometimes hard to set aside what I think needs to be done.  Yes, I still fail and choose things and doing over relationship.  But those words God whispered to me in December are becoming louder than the voice of “to do” and I am learning to say…

YES to RELATIONSHIP!

Pray this with me…

Oh, Heavenly Father, we thank you so very much for how you value our hearts and relationship with us.  Help us not to be distracted by what we think we need to do.  God, our plans are so futile, but your ways are with great purpose and great love.  Teach us how to prioritize our days and our steps so that we spend them walking in alignment with you and your will.  May our hearts value what you value.  May the voice that beckons us to what’s necessary, relationship and love, be louder than the voice that beckons us to do our will.

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

– Psalm 90:12 – So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

– Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

– Matthew 22:37-39 – “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Luke 10:39 – 42 – But Martha was distracted with much serving.  And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve along?  Tell her than to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

– Ephesians 5:15 – 17 – Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

* Think About It:

Take time to write in your journal what you value most.    Be honest with yourself.  If it’s people, if it’s work, if it’s money; whatever your priorities are, write them down.  Pray over this list and ask God to show you what He wants you to value and prioritize according to His will.

 

Blessings to you as you Choose the Good Portion today!

 

All biblical references are ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

 

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

It Takes Work

~ Choose the Good Portion – Week Ten ~

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

~ Ephesians 2:10 ~

The night before my husband and I got married I wrote him a letter that told him of how excited I was to be his wife and how I planned to love him with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love for the rest of my days.  I wasn’t so naive to think it was going to be easy.  I knew marriage took work.  But I loved this man so much, and he was pretty darn near perfect, how hard could it be?

We’ve spent the last few weeks covering the beginning and middle of the greatest love story ever told.  The love story within the sixty-six books we find in the library of the Bible.  But what about the end?

That’s one of the cool things about this love story.  This love story doesn’t have an end!  This is a story that goes on and on for all eternity.  God is eternal and never changing and He has created you because he loves you and wants a relationship with you!

I want you to know in your very being, and trust that His love is unconditional, everlasting, and full of grace.  There is nothing in all of creation that will ever separate us from the love of God.  Likewise, there is nothing we can do to earn His love because he already loves us.  It is by grace that we are saved through faith in the ransom price of Christ’s blood shed for us.  It is only that gift that redeemed and restored us to God.  Trust in the truth of who He is.  He is the embodiment of love and what He does is love us extravagantly!

Do you believe that?  Is the truth of His love written on the wall of your heart so that you’ll never ever doubt His love for you?  Good!  Here’s another truth that also needs to be known.  Relationship takes work.

That letter I wrote the eve before marrying my husband, was written from my heart with all sincerity.  I fully intended to love him with patience, kindness, and gentleness.  I fully intended to love selflessly, to not be rude or jealous, impatient or unkind.  So, to answer my question above…how hard could it be?

If I’m being honest, I have failed to love my husband with this kind of love several, several times in our eighteen and a half years of marriage.  My husband is my very favorite person on earth!  But I have hurt this man that I love so very much.  I have yelled at him, hurling very unkind and rude words his way.  One of the reasons I fell in love with him is because he makes me laugh.  He’s stinkin’ hilarious!  But I haven’t always been patient with his silliness.  In fact, sometimes my funny man greatly annoys me, especially before I’ve had my coffee in the morning.   He travels for work a lot and gets to go to lots of beautiful and warm places.  I am frequently jealous, as I’m left at home to parent our four kids on my own.  This isn’t love in its best and fullest form.  I want to love my husband the way he deserves to be loved, but I frequently fall short.  It’s hard.  It’s work.  Relationship is work.

My relationship with my husband isn’t the only relationship that takes work.  Being a mama to four kids.  All my friendships.  Every relationship I’ve ever been in takes work.  They take time, effort, energy, selflessness, patience, grace, forgiveness and more.  Even my relationship with God, who is perfect in every way, who loves me perfectly, provides for my every need, and gives me my heart’s desires and dreams, even that relationship takes work.

Because while God is perfect, I am not.  Yes, God loves us unconditionally expecting nothing in return, but strong, healthy, great relationships are reciprocal.  If you want a good relationship with God, you must reciprocate that love.  And that takes work.

Guess what, guys, this is what God has called us to and what Jesus reminded us of in Matthew 22:37,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the greatest commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a commandment.  The greatest commandment.  We are God’s creation, and while we were created for love and relationship with Him, we were also created for good works which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in.  We’re told,

be imitators of God, as beloved children.

~ Ephesians 5:1 ~

I’m not a scary movie person, but I have watched the JAWS movies and for anyone like my husband wanting to call me a wuss for thinking they are scary.  Heckle away.  I’m just fine being known as a wuss for thinking this movie is scary.  I hate scary movies, including JAWS.  But there is one thing I loved about the first JAWS movie.  The scene between the father and son when they are sitting at the dining room table and the little boy imitates everything his daddy does.  That is such a sweet moment!  This is what we’re supposed to do with our heavenly daddy…imitate him.  What does God do?

Mostly what God does is love…

~ Ephesians 5:1 MSG ~

But loving like God, isn’t easy.  That’s why we’re told to pick up our cross, die to ourselves, and walk as Christ walked.

How did Christ walk?  Well he was an imitator of His Heavenly Father…

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave of himself up for us…

~ Ephesians 5:2 ~

Love is part of relationship.  Loving and relationship take work.  In order to love God and others as God and Jesus do, we will have to give up ourselves.  We may have to attend a hundred funerals a day as we learn to die to ourselves and let go of the life we want in order to live a full life in God.

But all, I promise you that choosing the good portion of relationship with God, is the best choice you will ever make.  And the work you’ll put into your relationship with God and others, loving Him and others, is so worth it!

Pray this with me…

God, thank you for loving us unconditionally and extravagantly.  Thank you that there is no end to your love and that nothing can separate us from You.  Earning your love, after all you have done for us, Lord would be impossible and we’re so grateful that we don’t have to work to be loved by you.  Thank you for the grace you gifted us with.  God, we thank you for creating us for relationship with you.  We also thank you for the good works you have created for us to do.  We thank you that we have the job of loving You and others.  Help us to be imitators of you, to walk in love and love well.

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

Romans: 8:38-39 – For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Ephesians 2:4-10 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

– Ephesians 3:19 MSG – Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

* – Ephesians 5:1-2 – Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

*- Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG – Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with him and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was not cautious but extravagant.  He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.  Love like that.

* Think About It:

Take time to read 1 Corinthians 13.  The whole chapter.  It isn’t long.  In fact, it’s very short.  But in the thirteen verses that comprise the thirteenth chapter of the first book of Corinthians, you will find the most amazing definition of deeply devoted, selfless, and unconditional love.  In your journal, take notes of any thoughts or questions you have while reading this beautiful passage called the Love Chapter of the Bible.

Blessings to you as you Choose the Good Portion today!

 

All biblical references are ESV unless otherwise noted.

*Ephesians 5:1-2 are quoted in both ESV and MSG translations because I love both translations equally and wanted to share them with you, my friends.

 

 

Choosing The Good Portion - 2019

Free Indeed

~ Choose the Good Portion – Week Nine ~

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

~ John 8:36 ~

Indeed!  There’s that word again, right there, in John 8:36!   We first saw this word indeed at the end of Genesis chapter one when God looked upon us, His creation, and saw that it was “very good indeed”.   Let me copy and paste from last week the meaning of this word “indeed” for you…

“confirming something already suggested” and “introduction of a further, stronger and more surprising point”

“Indeed” is a confirmation of what creation suggests.  God’s love for us.  It also is an introduction of a further, stronger and more surprising point!  JESUS!

The last two weeks we’ve covered the very beginning of this amazing love story that we find in the Bible.  Now let’s fast forward through the Old Testament and all the laws of how to look, act, eat, and sacrifice animals.  Keep fast forwarding through tales of tragedy and woe, through judges, kings and prophets and head right to the New Testament where we meet this wonderful surprise that the whole Old Testament points us to.

I’m going to go on the assumption that all of my friends reading this already know that Jesus came in the form of a tiny little baby that would grow up to be a man that dies on the cross to set us free and redeem us from the bondage of sin.  But did you also know there was more to the purpose of Jesus coming to earth than to die on the cross to save us from sin?  That He was the ransom for our hearts and gave His life for us is pretty amazing!  But there’s more!  I love how the bible is never done!  It’s an unending story of “but there’s more” moments!

Now let’s take a look at what’s going on around John chapter eight, specifically verses 12 – 58, where we see Jesus use the word “indeed”.  Jesus used this word here to confirm to us that we are FREE.  He is using it in conversation with men who believed they had no sin in them.  They lived by the Law of Moses, assumed themselves holy and righteous, and called themselves children of Abraham.  Jesus said that even though they are descended from Abraham that they do not know God.  He tells them if they were truly Abraham’s children, they would recognize Him as the Son of God.

I know we said we were fast forwarding through the Old Testament but we’re going to skip on back to Abraham for just a bit.  Abraham is one of my favorite people of the old testament, mostly because of his relationship with God.  I love the way God and Abraham related to each other!  They talked with one another, they hung out, promised each other things, and they trusted each other.  God and Abraham had such an amazing friendship that the authors of the Bible draw attention to it more than once (2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23).  Guess what’s also cool about this relationship.  This man, Abraham who was a friend of God messed up in some pretty big ways over and over again, but he was doing relationship with God and believed God, and God counted it to him as righteousness and called him a friend.

Got that?  Abraham did relationship with God and trusted God, and God counted it to him as righteousness and called him a friend.

Now let’s fast forward back on to John chapter eight again.  By the time Jesus came, Abraham’s descendants no longer had relationship with God.  The people of this time knew a lot about God but they did not KNOW God.  They lived their lives devoted to the Law of Moses and lived by these laws, not because they wanted to please their Heavenly Father, but because they thought of these laws as their link to Heaven, their salvation.  Essentially, they did not trust God for salvation.  They trusted themselves, their good works, and their “good citizenship award” as their salvation.  Their lives were so caught up in what they needed to act like, look like, eat like, talk like, and sacrifice like that they had forgotten all about relationship with God.

Because of this God needed to become flesh to this world.  He needed to come down to Earth in order to reconfirm and introduce the INDEED at the end of Genesis chapter one.  That He loves us and wants relationship with us.  So, He sent himself, in the form of Jesus, to walk on earth and introduce further this concept of a loving relationship with God as our Father and friend.

Jesus did this by loving on people, even the sinners that the “holy and perfect” pharisees paid no attention to at all.   He hung out with them, ate with them, fished with them, took their children in his arms, reclined with them and laughed with them.

God created us to have relationship with us as Father and child.  He created us to be friends with Him.  Jesus was not only God’s plan of redemption.  Jesus was God’s plan of FULL RESTORATION.  Jesus’ life redeemed us from sins and was the ransom price that restored us to intimacy with our Father.  Before the foundation of the earth was laid, Jesus was a part of God’s plan to enter fully into the good portion of loving relationship with our creator and Father.

When we live a life on the assumption that salvation is by our deeds then we are still living in bondage.  Guess what all.  We all have some form of bondage in our lives.  We’re all Marthas in a sense, distracted by doing instead of being at His feet in relationship.  We all have habits that keep us in bondage instead of living in the freedom Christ gave us.  Habits of thinking we need to have a spotless house before we can have people over and do relationship with them.  Habits that tell us we need to finish this last project before we take time to read our child a book.  Habits that tell us we need to look a certain way to please God.  Habits that say we need to keep it all bottled up so we won’t be judged.  Habit, upon habit.  Law upon law.  We all have distractions, anxieties and fears that keep us in bondage.

Note in Genesis 15:6 that it was not all the wonderful deeds, good works, and looking like a follower of God that made Abraham righteous.  It was his trust and belief that God was who He said He was.  Abraham was in such close relationship with God that he trusted Him with everything.

Friends, I encourage you to choose the good portion of relationship with God.  I encourage you to grasp firmly onto the love of God and let go of fear.  Fear is what holds us in the bondage of habit.  Fear is what holds us in the bondage of performance.  Fear is what holds us to the Law.  But perfect love casts out fear!  Like Abraham, believe God!  Believe that when He set you free, He set you free from EVERYTHING!  And you are FREE INDEED!

Pray this with me…

Father thank you for setting us free!  Thank you that we are not bound to the law, but we are bound to you as our Father.  And not in a legalistic way that says we have to look and act a certain way to earn your love.   Our hearts are bound to you Lord, not as slaves but as soul mates.  We hunger and thirst for relationship with you, Father, in a way that we know, not just about you, but know who you are in an intimate way as a father and child.  Help us to get into your word, so that it can get into us and become so much a part of us that we do not doubt you.  That we will trust that you are who you say you are.  Thank you for creating us for relationship with you, thank you for valuing our hearts and sending your son to be a ransom for us and restoring us to relationship with you as our Father and friend.  Help us to let go of fear that traps us in our ways.  Replace the habits that keep us bound with a habit of freedom in relationship with you.  May we live as though we are loved and free indeed!

* Take time to read these scriptures today:

– Genesis 15:6 – And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

– Matthew 20:28 – “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

– John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

– John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the word to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

– John 8:36 – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

– Romans 4:1 – 8 – What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the Scripture say?  “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”  Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.  And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justified the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven; and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

– Romans 8:15 – For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba Father!”

– 1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

 

* Think About It:

Are you living like you’re still caught up in bondage of doing?  Are you like Martha distracted and anxious by many things?   That’s okay, friend!  You aren’t alone.  In your journal, write a letter to God sharing with Him your deepest heart.  Your fears, your habits, your secrets.  Choose to trust Him as your closest friend.  Because He is!  Trust in His perfect love for you.  A love that casts out fear and has set you free indeed!

Blessings to you as you Choose the Good Portion today!

 

All biblical references are ESV unless otherwise noted.