First of all, let me just say that I have the bestest friends eh-ver! Seriously, I'm not just blowing smoke. I mean, for real. You are the most encouraging folks of all time. You love me and pray for me and just let me be honest with you all no matter what...even if it's yucky, spewing honesty. Thank you so very much for that!! I am so very blessed!!
I just wanted to address some of the comments here today. So, here goes...
"So, what are you thinking about everything?"
That is a question that me and Joel just randomly ask each other often. Depending on how the questionee is actually feeling at the time, the answer may simply elaborate on the happenings of the day...as simple as that. Although, it may go to the other extreme of going into where we see our lives going, focusing on what we feel like our lives are looking like overall, etc.
It's a great, very open-ended question...you never know what you are going to get as an answer. But, it really works for us...and really keeps the lines of communication open (although that's not the motivation in asking...we aren't thinking hmm, we need to unclog the lines of communication so I'll ask that question now...see what I'm saying...just thought I'd throw that in). So, in doing that, many times it brings up re-evaluations.
For instance, after we settled in Saline (when we went back to the states for 2 months this past winter), one day Joel was being very contemplative and so I asked him...what are you thinking about everything (basically, what's on your mind?)? He turned and looked at me and said, "What are we doing?" It was so crazy...at that moment, in those days/weeks, we were really thrown into a situation where we had to ask ourselves...what in the world are we doing? What is it that's really important? What is it that we are really supposed to be doing? We were in major re-evaluation mode.
If you read my blog during those times, you know that there was a whirlwind of emotions going on in my being. Yeah...whirl-wind. But, the point is that honestly, we are CONSTANTLY re-evaluating. Connie, thanks so much for bringing that point up. It's SO true. And so very needed. Without it, you get stuck...sometimes in a place that God never intended you to be in.
Basically, if you are reading this, but haven't read the comments section of yesterday's post, please do so. I can't list out all of the things I loved about what you each said, but you guys, what awesome nuggets of truth in each and every comment! Such encouragement and wise counsel. Thank you all so much for that (and in the emails I received as well).
I really think that as of right now, I'm dealing with just an all out battle of flesh vs. spirit, to put it frankly. Not that all of those things that I listed in my post yesterday aren't all GREAT things...because they are. Things like my kids growing up with family, my kids getting fussed over (because that SO does a Mama heart good), etc. But, as amazing as those things are, if it's not what God has for us (in the capacity that I imagine them anyway), it's just not what is the best for us. We all know that...it's just hard to swallow sometimes, isn't it? Ugh.
So, I'm battling. It's hard. So stinkin' dang hard. I just want what I want. :) Give it to me now (picture spoiled brat girl from Willy Wonka). What makes it so hard, though, for everyone, is that the things that I want given to me now really are genuinely good things. Why wouldn't God want those things for me? Why would God deprive me...us...my children...of all these things? Why?!?!
I have no idea. But, His ways are higher...His thoughts higher...blah blah blah. Right?
So, basically, I just have to trust Him.
As Nicole said, I know all the 'right' things to say and feel and do. We all do, don't we? All the Christian cliches come to mind about how God never promised it would be easy, but He did promise that we'd never walk alone (actually, I think that's a Ginny Owens song...ha...dang good song by the way...powerful). But, the bottom line is that we all have to walk out our obedience one step at a time. Sometimes it's easy and we are pretty much all out sprinting. Sometimes, we are crawling, or just kind of standing still even...begging God to please let us in on where we're going and why. But, we all have to do it. And sometimes it's just. freakin'. dang. hard.
Amanda asked me what were some of the scriptures I've been drawing on while walking through this (or crawling...whatever :) ). While I was fasting, I was reading through Matthew. I just love how Jesus just so didn't pull any punches or beat around the bush. He said some really hard things...that we have to follow sometimes. Things that jump out at me EVERY time I read them...
"And they left their nets AT ONCE and went with Him." --talking about Peter and Andrew in Matt. 4
"They IMMEDIATELY followed Him, leaving the boat and their father behind." --talking about James and John, also in Matt. 4
Matt. 8:19-22 -- 19 Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man[e] has no place even to lay his head.”
21 Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead."
My Bible's notes to that passage say, "As God's Son, Jesus did not hesitate to demand complete loyalty. Even family loyalty was not to take priority over the demands of obedience."
Of course, there is my all-time favorite Matthew verse (or verse in general just because it is such a life verse for me) that I feel like God so very clearly gave to me way back before I'd even met Joel (and had no idea the extent of what this verse might actually mean in my life)...
Matthew 19:29 -- 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.
When we were en route to Brazil by way of Oregon and then Boston back in '07, I purchased a Portuguese/English parallel Bible. I thought it'd be fun to memorize a verse in Portuguese before I left the states. I opened up the Bible and 'randomly' chose a verse on the page. A few months later, we were having our very first couples meeting in our home here in Brazil with our at the time new church family when one of the leaders (our now very dear friend, Neto) was about to leave. He came back in though and said that he just really felt like he was supposed to share this verse with us...that he felt like God really wanted to re-iterate this to us. Yep...one and the same...the verse I memorized and the verse Neto felt impressed to share with us...
Isaiah 26:3 - You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
And then just Sunday night, Joel was flipping through the Bible getting to the passage being read at church, when Psalm 91 jumped out at me again. That Psalm always jumps out at me, but specifically verse 11 that night: "For He orders his angels to protect you wherever you go." The angels and the protection are great, but aren't what hit me that night. It was the wherever you go part. I don't think I can describe exactly why, but I just felt like He said those words to me..."wherever you go, Michawn."
Then I read it in the Amplified version:
For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].
Did you catch that? In all your ways...of obedience?
Pretty amazing. As much as I would love it if He were, honestly, God isn't done with me here in Brazil, here in these circumstances. And He may not be for years...for my entire lifetime. I'm just going to continue to walk. I might be at a standstill some of the time (when my flesh and spirit are really going at it). I might be crawling part of the way. But, someday I will be sprinting again...until I come up against something that makes me crawl again. ;) Hopefully as I live this life more and more, the crawling will become less and less. Right? ;)
The cool thing is that the things I feel called to...the things that aren't quite here just yet...God is faithful in keeping that calling in me alive. Just now as I sat down to type this out, I received an email asking for my help in something that I feel like will be a big part of what I do with myself in this life. It's so cool that even in the hardest of times, He always and continuously speaks and lets His presence be known.
Believe me, you will be the first to know if, upon one of our little re-evaluation sessions, we feel like God "frees" us to live near family and a library :) and the lake and T-ball. ;) Oh, and a Baskin Robbins. ;) My ideal life would be spending a year here and a year there...what do you think about that, God? Who knows...maybe our work for God will eventually involve a scenario like that. We will keep you posted.
But, thank you friends SO MUCH...for standing with me, for loving me, for encouraging me and praying for me. For suggesting things that help (loved all of your suggestions and stories and thoughts). For just allowing me to be honest and never ever putting up a wall to that...even when the things I'm saying aren't too pretty and aren't so Christianity correct (similar to politically correct).
Keep me in your prayers...I know you will. I'm a long way from sprinting. ;)
And, I actually went ahead and looked up that Ginny Owens song...so good. Enjoy and be blessed by it. It has always been just so extremely powerful to me. Ginny is blind by the way...although that might not at all be what the song is about, it still sheds a whole new light on it for me.
Again, thanks so much. Love you guys!