Spring has come

The first day of Spring was Friday, March 20th. In our, newer, usual Graham fashion we rang it in in various ways. It’s been 3 or 4 years now that we have done eggs, candy, and baskets, as a Spring thing, in an effort to reserve Resurrection Sunday for Jesus. 🙂 Leading up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday we do activities that focus and reflect on Jesus life, death and resurrection. You can find lots of fun stuff all over the internet that will draw your kids in and give you opportunities to share about His amazing love and sacrifice for us. I found this particular blog posts very helpful, insightful, and inspiring. She links lots of other great informative and inspirational sites. Joyful Mama’s Place I can’t wait to share about our Holy Week and what the Lord reveals to us and our children.

So it has become a first day of Spring tradition to dye and hunt eggs and let my sweet mother in law love on our kiddos with baskets filled with small treats. We had a lot of fun with that. Being older and more capable Caleb especially got a kick out of it this year. We didn’t use every square inch of the property but at one point we were scratching our heads over several missing eggs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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This boy….. always has his helmet on. Always.

The other new exciting spring tradition is baby chicks, though I don’t know if we will continue this annually. It hadn’t been a week and their chicky stench was already wafting through out our entire house. I’d like to see Febreze take on this challenge! After our experience last year I was trying to delay when we would get chicks to a warmer month so they wouldn’t have to spend much time inside. Well, when you find yourself one Sunday afternoon, at a tractor supply store, where day old chicks are being sold, that’s pretty much a losing debate. I may as well take the opportunity to introduce them to you. We bought six this time because that was the least amount you could purchase. Seriously, I just got swindled. We all know who the mother hen is gonna be for 6 weeks! There are four pullets (sex linked chicks that will be hens), the two yellows are Eleanor and Eloise and the two red-ish ones are Annabelle and Dove. The itty bitty chicks are Bantams and we will not know what they are until they crow or pop out an egg. Their names are Buttercup and Tiny. I will be rolling on the floor with laughter if Buttercup ends up a rooster. Ya know, half the fun of having chickens is naming them…. Kind of like having kids. Hehe.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur three white hens have finally started laying eggs. I skipped a day collecting and went down Saturday to find half a dozen beautiful white eggs waiting for me. Half a dozen sounds so much better than six, haha! I am pleasantly surprised that my aversion to eggs did not return this time. For some reason when Penny (bless her little chicken heart, RIP Penny) started laying I suddenly was revolted by eggs. I mean honestly! But this time we are all enjoying them. Don’t you wanna be my neighbor? 😉

I hope y’all are enjoying the onset of Spring, minus all that darn pollen! I need to go take a Zyrtec. 😉

Melodious Monday: Man of Sorrows

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C6jXqdtZi10

Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid

Silent as He stood accused
Beaten mocked and scorned
Bowing to the Father’s will
He took a crown of thorns

Oh that rugged cross
My salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee

Sent of heaven God’s own Son
To purchase and redeem
And reconcile the very ones
Who nailed Him to that tree

Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled

Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed

See the stone is rolled away
Behold the empty tomb
Hallelujah God be praised
He’s risen from the grave

The Deceiver and our Redeemer

I hope I don’t get to heavy on you guys today. But sometimes the Lord prompts you to share things and when you’d really like to just brush it off he keeps pressing. So being that my word here is obey I’m going to step out in faith and just write. Grab a snack and a comfy seat. 😉

There are things about my life and my past that I wish I could just erase. Choices I made that I was completely naïve over how much they would affect me later on. There is a reason why God hates sin. Not only does it put barriers between us and him but God knows the wounds sin creates and because he loves us so much, I know he doesn’t want us to experience those wounds. But we live in a fallen world and are sinners by nature and at points act as if we know better than God. So, we rebel, make mistakes, poor self-centered choices, and incur the consequences of sinning. It’s not till after the act that we begin to feel the painful effects. This is where satan can do his best work, another thing God is keenly aware of. He knows how easily we can fall under guilt and shame. That’s why throughout his Word he repetitiously commands us to love him, trust him, and obey him. He wants to protect us.

Recently I came hard under a spiritual/mental attack. Maybe you know the kind, when your mind becomes a battlefield, you feel trapped within your thoughts, and you can’t shake the lies from the enemy no matter how hard you try. You do all you can to combat the lies with truth and he just keeps pounding. You go from fear, to anger, to doubt, to guilt, and before you know it you feel paralyzed by ALL THESE FEELINGS. You want to choose Jesus despite them but they feel so real. Satan works to convince me how foolish it would be to choose Jesus over my thoughts. That I’d be stupid to obey God despite how I feel. I then begin to feel like a crummy Christian because I know I have everything I need in Christ to overcome this attack and yet I feel confused about which weapon to pick up and fight with. I already feel defeated. And then satan whispers the biggest whopper of a lie.

Jesus can’t heal you from your past.

I shrug it off. Yes he can. He already has.

The devil persists. Do not underestimate his effort to destroy you. He is out to get you and any avenue of ministry you are linked to: marriage, mothering, friendships, family members, church, work ect. The first step in defeating him is acknowledging his desire to ruin you through whatever means possible. He whispers again,… if God is your healer why do you still struggle with the mistakes from your past? You’re still wrestling with the emotional wounds. They’re still there, just as deep and painful. You’re not healed, which makes you worthless and ineffective. And if you’re not healed then you honestly can’t believe that you have any hope to offer others. You are broken and you will always be broken.

When I am in this kind of mental battle some of the best resources God has given me to fight with are that of other Christians. If you struggle in this way I encourage you to find at least one mature believer that can fight with you. I have about a handful, praise the Lord! Find someone you can trust to confide in, someone that’s willing to get a little messy with ya. 😉 We can’t win battles alone. Satan will try to keep you in isolation. We need the admonition of fellow believers.

My dad gave me this analogy with his leg. He broke it many years ago and within the last couple years a bone infection was discovered which led to five different surgeries. One in which the doctor accidentally broke it again. He went on to tell me that now, though his leg has been fixed and is healed, there are moments where he still experiences pain. The more he thinks about it the longer the pain lingers. It’s healed but it won’t be healed perfectly on this side of heaven. We’re a lot like his leg. We’ve been redeemed, our sins forgiven, our wounds healed, but we’re still on earth and we have not been perfected yet. Every now and then we have moments of pain well up from previous sins (whether they be our sins or others) but that doesn’t mean God has not or will not heal us. Satan wants us to mull over the pain, keeping us lamenting over the past but at some point we have to move forward and just use it to glorify God. Because let’s not forget that God allows our past to be a means to connect with people who are undergoing the same suffering. How can we say “I know what you’re going through” if we don’t? How can we begin to share the healing God has done in our own life if we don’t have the scar to show for it?

Then I had a conversation with my dear friend Kaitlyn. As we talked through this struggle we had this moment of heaviness over what Jesus went through on our behalf. Physically tortured to then be put naked on a cross and bear the physical, emotional and mental weight of ALL our sins. And worst of all experienced what it’s like to be completely separated from God. Even in my darkest hour I have no clue what it’s like to be totally separated from God. Jesus endured that so I wouldn’t have to. On one hand I felt it appropriate that, in a very small way, I get to share in His sufferings. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in death……” (Philippians 3:10) This is a perspective I think vital to consider when we are undergoing suffering. And on the other hand I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude for what Jesus did for me.

God is always at work in the midst of our battles. He knows how we need to be trained for his big story.

I believe He is my Healer. He has redeemed some of the gravest of sins from my past in the most beautiful of ways that only he is capable of doing. He is my Rescuer and my Deliver. I am still learning to trust his ways and timing because at points I do wish he’d just pull me out of the battle altogether.

And in case you are wondering…. He is YOUR Healer, YOUR Redeemer, YOUR Rescuer. Run to HIM. Let him make beauty from your ashes. (Isaiah 61) Allow him to demolish the lies of satan (2 Corinthians 10:5) that you are hopeless. Let him speak the truth that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Let him work in your life, past, present and future so he can be glorified in YOU. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) Let him train you and make you strong and confident with who you are in Christ.

Living life apart from God is hopeless, but we don’t have to. I hope you know that and that you’ll embrace His magnificent love every single day.

Mothering messes and our Redeemer

One evening a few weeks back my daughters began to fuss with each other. Ryann was coloring and Micaila needed her direction toward the coloring paper. Ryann was pulling the “It’s over there.” and Micaila, bewildered, responds “over wheeerrreee, Ryann?” As I tried to suppress my annoyance I looked at Ryann and said “The loving thing to do would be to get her a piece of paper.” She complied but not without some reluctance. They sat and colored next to each other and soon Ryann asks Micaila for help spelling a word. To which Micaila denied her through silence.

Oh come on.

At this point I don’t recall what happened throughout the day. It was around dinner time and we were waiting for my parents to arrive. Maybe it was that 5 o’clock “witching hour”. What you need to know though is in that moment I lost it. I’m watching/listening to my daughters interact with each other with such a lack of love, kindness and thoughtfulness and I just laid into them.

I said,…. no I was shouting, not quite a 10 but like a 9.5, “I have had enough of your bickering and ugliness toward each other! You are withholding from her, she is withholding from you! This is not being loving or kind or generous or thoughtful! What have we been talking about?!! We’ve been reading about clinging to what is good!!! Is this good?! No this is evil! And now mommy is sinning in her anger!! And it’s obvious we all need Jesus right now!”

That’s pretty much verbatim. I’m standing there and I realize that my example is totally trashing what I want my kids to know about God and reflecting his character and it hit me; I’m inadequate. I’m going to fail. But if there is one thing I can show my kids in the midst of my failures it’s that I am absolutely desperate for Jesus. And so are they. And we can call on him at any moment we just have to humble ourselves.

It’s no coincidence that my scripture memory for that week was 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under Gods mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

I had them sit on our couch and I kid you not I stomped off to my room to retrieve my Bible. I sat down and opened it and looked at them, still fuming, and I said “We have got to pray and invite Gods Holy Spirit into this moment right now.” And I began praying. And it felt weird at first because I was so ticked off. Ticked off at my kids for being so petty but even more mad at myself for lacking self-control and being so angry. But as I sat there and spoke to God, confessed my sin to him, and asked him to fill us with his love, patience, kindness,…. My Spirit could not help but submit to him. I slowly began to calm and sense his peace flood my heart. When I finished praying I looked at my girls and acknowledged to them how sinful and wrong it was for me to be so angry at them. That I wasn’t responding in love or the way God wants me to respond. I apologized to them and suggested that they too apologize and forgive each other. We proceeded to read and discuss Ephesians 4:17-5:21. (My Bible titles it “Living as Children of Light)

I don’t have it all together. None of us do. But even when my flesh is weak and I get what feels like a sucker punch by the devil himself I want to learn to get back up in grace. Is it okay for me to lash out toward my children? Absolutely not. Do I want to? Heck no. I want to consistently exhibit a gentle and patient spirit that comes from my submission to the Lord. Unfortunately, I have not reached perfection. But maybe it’s also good for my kids to see how we can respond to those sneak attacks. That even when we’re caught off guard and in a frenzy of high emotions, where we feel totally out of control, God is waiting for us to relinquish it all to him, for he is in control. Maybe it’s in those moments our kids learn to choose Jesus despite what they are feeling. And it’s in those moments that our kids learn what repentance looks like and what it means to take responsibility, apologize and forgive.

The Lord is my Redeemer and my children’s Redeemer. And I believe he is bigger than all my mothering messes. I hope if you find yourself reading this, maybe even feeling defeated as a mom because let’s face it, satan wants us to feel that way, that you would embrace your Redeemer as well and believe that he is bigger. Because he is. 🙂

I quoted 1 Peter 5 earlier and I’d like to quote it again through verse 11.

Be strong and be encouraged. 🙂

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Melodious Monday: Before the Throne

My mommy shared this song with me and it was a much needed reminder. The line “When Satan tempts me to despair…..” struck me to the core, as I know it is him that wants us to feel hopeless and stay there. “Upward I look and see HIM there….” 🙂 I hope you experience the same hope and grace in these beautiful lyrics.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b9JqhYTjHl0

Come to Jesus

I decided to read through the book of Matthew as a way to prepare for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. My attention was drawn to a well-known passage of scripture that I admittedly tend to gloss over because of its familiarity. I couldn’t gloss over it this time though. The Words of the Lord were penetrating me.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your weary souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Often times I think I have read this verse from a somewhat self-centered place. “Yes Lord, I am weary, give me rest!” What struck me though was where he says “learn from me, for I am gentle and humble….” I’ve not taken seminary classes and I’m no theologian but I read that and thought “when I am weary and need rest the answer just may lie within my learning how to be gentle and humble in heart like Jesus.”

Ephesians 4:2 says “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

I love my big red dictionary. Humor me 😉
Humble: 1. Having or showing feelings of humility rather than of pride (an excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit; arrogance.); aware of ones shortcomings; modest; meek. 2. Showing deferential (courteous) respect. 3. Lacking high station; lowly; unpretentious.

It’s hard to admit but I acknowledge that pride runs deep. Sometimes I don’t even know it’s there but it is! It’s important for me as a woman, wife, and mother to intentionally cultivate a humble spirit. Jesus goes on to say “you will find rest for your weary souls.” I utilized my study Bibles notes and references 😉 and was lead to these passages.

Jeremiah 6:16 “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Psalm 119:165-166 “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. I wait for your salvation, O Lord, and I follow your commands.”

What I find interesting is that the solution to my weariness is not found by being taken out of my circumstance. Jesus is the solution. Me seeking him, his ways, his likeness, that is where I will find rest for my weary soul. Verse 30 Jesus says “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Again, my study Bible directs me to these two scriptures:

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

1 John 5:3 “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,…”

This is not about being legalistic. Genuine obedience brings freedom, not bondage. My notes indicate that the people’s “weariness” may have been the result of the Pharisees insisting on a strict adherence to the law. Galatians 5:4-6 “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Keeping a set of rules does not impress Jesus one bit. Trusting Him enough to love those with whom He has allowed us relationship is the pleasing thing to Jesus. Our obedience should be driven by “what is the loving thing to do?” Scripture tells us His commands are not burdensome. They are for our benefit! When we delight in and obey the Lords commands they have the ability to bring us rest.

A lot of times when I write a blog post I will ask a trusted outsider to read it beforehand. I want the accountability and I appreciate the honest feedback. I call them my “editors”. Of course they graciously do this pro bono for me. 😉

Often times in their proofing they will give me treasures of insight and wisdom. My dad was my editor on this particular post. “The people lived lives that wearied them for any number of reasons. The answer of the religious leaders was honor God by keeping the law. Jesus said, ‘come learn from me. Your release from the weariness and difficulty reside in the liberty found in the Law of Love.’ Obedience to Christ is release from bondage.”

We’re not so different than this people group. We get weary for many reasons. And I know I sometimes look to Jesus for complete relief of life’s heavy loads. I think more often than not Jesus wants us to look to him so he can reveal to us how we, through his power, can respond better to chaos. I think our relief and rest comes out of a heart of obedience. Obedience cultivates trusting in the Almighty God. Trust reduces our worrying over what we cannot control. And that is the yoke Jesus wants us to carry.

Come to Jesus.

As I finished up this post I felt prompted to attach a song to it because it was just so appropriate. So this is a Melodious Monday: Special Edition. 😉 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2zhf2mqEMI