Monthly Archives: January 2012

Praying It Forward…

If you’ve read this blog at any point you may have picked up on the fact that the last several years have been difficult and painful as well as challenging and maturing.  (Insert slightly sarcastic chuckle here)   The process of transitioning and reframing your life will cause you to reflect upon just about everything in your life especially your past as you try to answer the question “How in the heck did I get here?!”

One of the more difficult and hairy issues we’ve faced in the last year in particular is that some people have felt that they have to choose relationally.  I have had a very difficult time wrapping my brain and my heart around this and have spent quite a bit of time praying and writing in my journal on this troublesome issue.  I honestly struggled with the idea that one would have to choose.

While we were in Minnesota for the holidays Kevin and I had a conversation with my mom and the lightbulb suddenly went off in my head as she compared the situation we find ourselves in to a divorce.

My parents separated the summer before my 8th grade year and divorced when I was 14 so my mom understands divorce.   While divorce is a huge and painful scar on the landscape of all the family members involved, it is especially and uniquely scarring to children as it creates an immediate sense of insecurity and the very nature of divorce creates sides.  Whether you want to our not, friends and family feel like they have to choose sides and the children are often the collateral damage of this relational tug-of-war.  I know this from a pastoral/counselor point of view as I’ve walked beside friends as they’ve navigated the twisting and winding path that is divorce.

However, and this was my lightbulb moment, I did not experience that division of sides as a child of a divorced home and that is why this past year has been so confusing for me at times.  In the midst of the pain and confusion of the separation my mom became a follower of Jesus and has never looked back.  When my mom decided to follow Jesus she dived in all the way and embraced the Word of God as her authority for life and her guide as she navigated the divorce and it bore amazing fruit in all of our lives.  Fruit that I am just now really beginning to appreciate and value.

Forgiveness and praying for others were the first things I learned from my mom.  I was not a good pupil by any means as I was angry and confused by the separation, she probably thought every word she shared with me about the Bible and Jesus went in one ear and out the other but the truth is I absorbed it like a sponge.  More importantly, I experienced her words lining up with her actions and I did follow in her footsteps as I decided to follow Jesus not long after she did.

I am amazed at how my mom’s words and actions imprinted on me deeply and profoundly as I observed her as she modeled forgiveness and prayer.  Most mornings when I got up for school the first thing I saw was my mom kneeling at the foot of her bed, Bible open before her and a long list of people she was praying for.  I know my mom was reeling from the separation and full of fear about the future, but she choose to forgive my dad and speak forgiveness into the situation and she taught my brothers and I to do the same.  She choose to trust Jesus and that what His word says is true, that He was trustworthy even when what He was asking was very difficult like “Forgive those who have sinned against you” and “Teach your children to honor and respect their dad by being respectful of him with your own words.”

I cannot recall ever feeling like I had to choose between my mom or my dad.  I cannot remember either of my parents putting us in the middle so we felt like we were the rope in their emotional tug-of-war.  Nor can I recall my extended family on either side, and we are a big family, ever making me feel like I had to choose.  I don’t recall expecting my family or friends to choose one side or the other.  I am convinced that my mom’s choice to forgive and to pray for those who are hurting you was the key to this incredible blessing in our lives.  I cannot recall either of my parents speaking ill or nasty of the other one.  In fact both parents, and eventually my step-mom, expected us to be respectful of all the parents in our family.

I have memories of my mom’s brothers still playing golf with my dad and my dad’s sisters still talking to and comforting my mom.  While I grieved the holidays because they were now split between mom and dad, I can’t remember feeling like a traitor to one side or the other because we loved our grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins on both sides of the family.

There were mistakes made and hurt enough to go around for sure, but we were spared so much by the simple obedient act of forgiveness.

I am sure that there are pieces of this story that, because I was a child and was therefore not privy to the private and intimate pain and anger my mom and dad were experiencing, would paint a different picture.  But for me, my mom’s constant reminder that we needed to forgive dad and forgive her and forgive whoever else was causing us pain as well as asking us “have you prayed for them?” was a divine lesson in humility and valuing relationships over being right or the right to be the victim.  (That last one alone is probably worthy of a number of blog posts!)

I learned to pray out loud “Father I choose to forgive….” from my mom and I learned the value of a praying life from my mom.

This is a legacy and an inheritance worth more than millions in gold and silver.  The legacy of praying it forward has borne so much fruit in my life and the lives of my kids it’s overwhelming to think about.

I can only hope that I have prayed this forward into my children’s lives.  I can only pray that the legacy of forgiveness and valuing relationships will be prayed froward from my mom to me to my children to my grandchildren and on down to a thousand generations of those who love the Lord.

I am deeply grateful this year for the legacy of forgiveness in relationships.

I am deeply grateful that my mom not only lived this out loud but prayed this out loud and forever changed the course of history for our family.

I love you mom!

V is for Victory

While rereading my journals from 2011 I made an unpleasant and somewhat embarrassing discovery: apparently 2011 was a bloody year. A lot of entries were about bleeding emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. (Well physically only because Mr Larson keeps my knives nice and sharp and my fingers pay the price!) I don’t think I have fought a harder battle than I have this past year and I’ve fought a few big battles in my life. But seeking to know the Truth and hear from the Truth regarding calling and purpose was incredibly murky waters to swim in this past year. And the water often felt shark infested.

I have a new-found respect for the men and women who have wrestled and struggled with the question of calling and purpose and then produced books for us to read as we wrestle and struggle with these same deeper issues of life.

Until this past year I was pretty arrogantly secure in the knowledge of what I believed I was called to and who I was called to do it with. When that boat gets capsized in your life it’s amazing the things you think, feel and believe.

As I was lamenting and scolding myself for all the bleeding this past year and the time wasted on trying to figure out what I am called to do or if I was even called to do anything, I had an overwhelming sense of God’s Holy Spirit filling the room and comforting me with these words: “I told you that you would have trials and tribulations in this world, but to cheer up for I have overcome the world for you. You have done well with the trials and tribulations set before you and now you are ready to walk in the overcoming I have already won for you.”

All I could say was “Holla! I’ll take that Jesus! Let the overcoming begin in 2012!”

It was a bloody battle as the sea billows rolled around me but I’m planting a victory flag and I’m saying it out loud with confidence

“It is well with my soul!”

Sometimes…

Sometimes I want to use this blog as a bully pulpit, throw in the towel, be passive aggressive and tell my side of the story…But then I remember that God alone is my vindicator and He alone will be my avenger…

Sometimes I just want to say whatever I want to say whenever I want to say…But then I remember what Proverbs and the book of James tells me about the power of the tongue and I am reminded of the times I have wounded and hurt those I love because I didn’t guard my tongue…

Sometimes I just don’t want to obey..But then I remember all the times I have rebelled and disobeyed and what it cost me and those I love…

Sometimes I just want to shout “Life is not fair!”…But then I remember what I have taught my kids and hundreds of others: “Life is not fair, but we serve a just God and He will make all things just in this lifetime or the next…”

Sometimes I just don’t want to want to ask the question “What is my part in this?  What do I need to own in this situation?”  Especially, from my limited perspective, it seems like I am the only one required to process this line of thinking…But then I remember what I have taught others about personal responsibility and walking your own walk…

Sometimes I don’t want to follow my own advice…

Sometimes I just want to give up because I am confused and angry and lonely and directionless…but then I remember the countless, nameless others who have gone before me who are infinitely more courageous, obedient, humble, sacrificial and willing than I am who have suffered far more than I will EVER suffer, who have paved the way for me to live, truly live my life…

2012 is to be a year of seeking Peace and remembering Romans 12.1-2 for me.

So when “sometimes” is tempting me to go my own way I am going to REMEMBER that I have PEACE in a person, I have peace in the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ and He will fulfill all that He promises in my life.

When “sometimes” is hammering away at my thinking and tempting me to go down dark alleys in my mind I am going to REMEMBER Romans 12.1-2 and call upon the Holy Spirit to help me, to transform my mind so that I can know God’s perfect will for my life.