Monday, June 20, 2011

Internal Turmoil

As I've grown older and more experienced there is one factor in life that I easily recognize as a great contributor to stress, anxiety, and internal turmoil.  It causes one to question natural instincts, beliefs, decisions and even relationships.  What could be so powerful an influence in life?  Why, guilt of course!  The area I notice the effects of guilt on my life the most is church attendance.  You wouldn't believe the guilt trip I lay on myself when I make the agonizing decision to stay home as opposed to attend church on any given Sabbath.

Honestly, I am not really sure the source of the guilt.  What string of events have been tied together to lead me to this seemingly uncontrollable reaction to the simple choice to stay home on Sabbath rather than attend church service at my home church?  Over the years I have experienced seasons in my life where there seemed more gained physically, spiritually, and emotionally by spending a relaxing Sabbath at home reading, watching sermons on television or the computer, spending time with family, or even out in my garden.  Not to mention the occasional events that take you out of town or just conflict with the timing of church service.  It has been my experience that going with these seasons and/or moments is highly beneficial to myself as well as those around me that I love and care about, but I don't ever fully gain the benefit due to the underlying existence of that dreaded emotion, guilt.

Our latest challenge to church attendance has been the addition to new life in our family and the state of extreme exhaustion that follows as well as the change in daily life that is inevitable with a new family member.  I have learned so much having a new little one, and it seems my newest lesson is to learn how to work through guilt and not let it have power in my life.  What a challenge!

Guilt saps joy even in joyful circumstances.  It's like it has a grip strongly wrapped around your innermost being.  How uncomfortable is that?  Through prayer and concerted effort, along with a conscious decision to learn how to eliminate self-inflicted guilt from my life, I praise God that I am learning how to loose myself from guilt's talons.  It is quite possibly the most challenging thing I've tried to do, especially when it comes to the simple choice of staying home from church.  Part of the reason it is so important to me to learn how to be comfortable with who I am and the decisions I make, aside from the fact that guilt is a powerful, negative emotion, is that the underlying motivation of guilt is our innate concern as to what others think of us or our actions.  Isn't that what guilt really is; worrying about what others think of us?  Seems so to me.

So, why is it that I am so concerned about other's judgement when it comes to my attendance of church.  Shouldn't it matter most to me the state of my relationship with Christ?  Shouldn't my walk with God, my prayer life, and my commitment to serving God to the best of my ability be at the forefront?  The bible does say to not forsake our own gathering together (Hebrews 10:25).  Does this strictly refer to church attendance?  Is there more than one way to gather together?  What about family bible study, group study, meetings with friends, email discussion, or phone conversations?  If we are continually striving toward a closer relationship with God and taking the time to connect with others, does that fit the bill? 

It seems to me that the passage in Hebrews is more of a warning.  Holing oneself up, and never communicating with others, is a dangerous place to put ourselves.  Without the fellowship of others how would we truly learn and grow as individuals, let alone Christians?  As humans, interaction with other is key to our health, both emotional and physical.  We need each other.  How else would we learn empathy and service?  How would we be challenged?  Who would lift us up in our darkest times?  I would go so far as to venture to say that our relationships with each other are just as important as our relationship with Christ, as it is by our interactions with each other that we represent and experience the love of Christ in our daily lives. 

I am going to continue to strive toward a guilt free relationship with church.  It will not be easy, as it seems deep rooted, but I want my heart to pull me there through a longing to learn and share not a condemnation of doing something wrong if I'm not there.  To everything there is a season, and time to every purpose under Heaven...(Ecclesasties 3:1-8)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday Farmgirls: MIA


It's been so long since I've been on here that Blogger has a lot of new publishing features.  I guess I have a little to learn.  So many post ideas have come and gone through my mind over the past several months.  It is refreshing to have graduated from having "baby brain" to being able to think clearly.  If only I could write posts in my head and have them publish directly to my blog.  Then, I would surely accomplish a lot.

So much has happened while I've been MIA from here.  I really miss writing and am making baby steps in the effort to regain some order in my day.  It's kind of funny.  It had been on my To Do List for several weeks to make a daily plan in an attempt to start accomplishing something more substantial from day to day.  Well, I finally created the plan, and there it sits having not been implemented since its creation.  That will give you an idea of how things have been over the past few months.

Where do I even begin to catch you up to speed?  God blessed us with the sale of our house in December.  We actually signed the papers on December 23rd.  Quite a gift in my book!  We were able to sell on a short sale with no promissory note, free and clear, and remain in our home as renters while we look for another home.  It's amazing the way everything played out.  I still can't believe it.  Also, we didn't really take a hit on our credit.  Truly a miracle the way everything went through.  I thank God every day for the opportunity He has give us.  It just feels so freeing!

Currently, we are finally searching for our country home.  I am SO excited!  I do have to say that I have a real understanding of the term "house hunting" as you actually do feel like you are hunting.  We have been looking at literally hundreds of homes online and have walked through a few.  There are two more that we plan to view next week.  This is such an adventure.  I am constantly amazed at how something like this can so powerfully change your perspective in so many ways.

For one, I am ever amazed at the power of God to lead when you are willing to step back and allow Him room to work.  Totally powerful!  Even at home, it was super weird at first to remain living in our home of nearly 20 years knowing that we no longer owned it.  Totally bazaar.  Now, we're pretty used to the arrangement.  The way I look at everything has changed; the blooms on the lilac bush at the start of spring, the tree that died on the boulevard, the broken awning on the back deck, the creaking in the upstairs floor, the ants that have taken up residence in my kitchen.  Everything, somehow, has taken on a new pallor.   It's nice to step back and allow myself to soak in my surroundings and relish the final moments in the home where we raised five our our children to adulthood, raised two to near adulthood, and welcomed a new child into the fold.  Not to mention the countless family gatherings, birthday parties, and other celebrations, the family nights, pizza parties, and game nights, the tears, the victories, conquered fears, and family dinners.  Our world is indeed changing.

Although it may have appeared that my life stopped as I remained MIA from The Zoo Crew reality is a whole different story.  Life has been changing at warp speed.  I have been experiencing a metamorphosis of sorts.  Let's just say that God finally got my attention on a very key component of my life.  For many years I have held dreams in my heart of working with teens, traveling within the U.S. to work with under privileged youth and families, visiting India and Bolivia where I sponsor children through Compassion and doing mission work there, volunteering in my community, and holding positions at church working with the youth.  These are all worthy aspirations, and I have done a few, but God keeps pointing me home, even after years and years of my inattention to His leading He persisted.  Now, I listened, and you just cannot imagine the freedom and peace that have followed.  My mind is clear and uncluttered, and there is so much more of me available for those I love.  My calling is my family, and I am finally listening.  All of my "hats" have officially been hung to rest.  Now, my only titles are Mom, Nana, Wife, and Child of God.  It feels amazing!

All of this, I believe, is preparing me for the next phase of life.  There will be so many new things to learn.  I have been a city girl with a heart for the country my entire life.  I have finally gotten out of the way, and God is leading me home.  It is SO exciting!  I find myself pondering the differences and what might lie in store.  The most obvious one for me aside from the slower pace of life will be the amount of grass that needs cutting during the summer months.  It's almost comical.  Our lawn is so small that it takes maybe 10 minutes to cut, and I am 100% certain that will not be the case in our new home.  Plus, there will be room and time for gardening and preserving food.  This will involve plenty of trial and error to be sure.  Then, there will be the totally different experience of raising a boy in the country as opposed to the seven other children that were fully raised in the city.  Talk about different worlds!  There is also the possibility of raising some type of farm animal along the way and involvement in 4-H, which totally intrigues me.  Then there's the different sounds, energy levels, and a more silent home as the final two of our "second batch" of children spread their wings and enter adulthood.  So much change is afoot!


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