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I rolled over … again … into the waves of my warm sheets ignoring the obnoxious intervals of beeps that were announcing a new day. My mind began rolling (like every other day), organizing all the madness that was waiting for my eyelids to open into what I would like to call a neatly organized to-do list. Of course being a Mom to four, I had allotted myself at least two forgotten to-do’s. Hopefully none of them would be as embarrassing as the time I forgot to put a diaper on my two-week old infant when I took him to meet some friends for the first time. There he was cute as a button dressed in his best clothes sitting in his infant car seat bathing in a puddle of pee. Wow, here meet my fourth son. I’m convinced that this kind of memory loss is just one of the side effects of motherhood that are hidden in the very fine print of the job description somewhere next to episodes of sleep deprivation. So for all those forgotten to-do’s, I gave myself grace and added them to the roll over list … again. I sensed the very familiar presence of a little person looming over me; I crack an eye-lid to see my four-year staring at me two inches away from my face. How none of my children have ever found this kind of behavior to be creepy I’ll never know. He’ll utter the phrase that I have become all to accustom to, “Mama, I’m hungry!” and like that the to-do list of the day had been activated. Hesitantly I sat up and stared down at my feet to be greeted by ten little piggies wearing last months pedicure and wearing it badly I might add. A Mental note was taken: add to reminder list … when getting dressed (hopefully before noon) wear closed toed shoes.

But priorities first … a caffeine intervention is always number one on my list … this mama needed a latte’ before she takes on a day full of “…again” moments! I scurried to the kitchen to find the company of my favorite mug while the smell of perking espresso and the anticipation of a fabulous latte’ began to brighten the morning! I began down this trail of thought before I realized my thoughts turned into a dialogue with the living God. I pondered with words “Lord even in the redundant routine of waking up tired to a mile-high to-do list and the hungry eyeballs of my toddler … again … I know one of these days is better than a thousand so-called good days without You, because I know who I was before I met you!”

You see, I knew that Mama, rolling out of bed to take on another day of being wife, mother, and friend. I knew her back when she was just a nineteen-year-old hurting girl addicted to drugs that had nothing but broken relationships stacked up against her. I remember the day when she had a life intervention that resulted in a love affair with her maker. That girl who became this Mama is my story (the only one I own). Like a super-hero Jesus reached down into my pit and rescued me from myself. No cape or super suit. No plastic six-pack or trademarked mask: Just the supernatural super powers of His love that shook me to the core. Everyday that I walked out of darkness, I began stepping into destiny … everyday felt normal but everyday was a miracle as my heart was being changed from a cold hopeless state to a place where dreams come alive. My first dream was to be married to a man I truly loved and to him be a good wife. My second dream was to have children and to them be a good Mom. Little did I know that there was no handbook for what “good” would look like. And from this place my relationship with Jesus as merely my Super-hero evolved into a friendship built on my desperate need for direction, guidance, and a whole lot of grace.

First marriage rocked my world; really by showing me how selfish I was when the love anesthesia wore off. In the process of loving this man in front of me my friendship with Jesus upgraded to BFF status as He helped me see my husband’s weaknesses but only praise his strengths … when all I really wanted to do was scream. These were the hard lessons of learning I couldn’t change him because I couldn’t get inside him and make him understand me. But, I had this best friend (Jesus) that when I kept my mouth shut and prayed had this uncanny ability to change me and the more I changed I saw my husband change. And this lesson that has taken permanent residence in my heart is one that continues to challenge and change me.

Second I had those babies I dreamt about and wanted more than anything. After baby number one I realized there was so much they didn’t tell me and for good reason. But obviously the sleepless nights, hormonal madness, and extra sixty pounds didn’t stop me from having three more. But there he was … my faithful BFF Jesus holding out his hand. It was His hand that often strengthened me and held me when I felt overwhelmed and exhausted from lack of sleep and the pressures of always being needed. I will occasionally hold their little faces in my hands and dream of the destiny the Lord has for them. Imagining the roads this life will take them down and I find myself blessed at the opportunity of having front row seats in their audience as their stories unfold.

You see there have been MANY days I have questioned if I was a “good” wife … if I was a “good” mother, wondering if my “good” was “good” enough. Through these times of questioning and uncertainty what had been holding hands with Jesus quickly turned into a death grip. Truly because I was holding on for dear life needing His life in me to be real and not just a song I sang at church. I needed to know He was with me. I needed to know that because He was good and lived in me … I could be good. I was in a particular situation; really a season of trying to train a child who’s strong will felt stronger than mine. At times it was like the UFC version of train up a child in the way he should go and well … we’ll see. I was crying out to God asking what does being a “good Mom” to him look like anyway? I was in a room full of woman at church at a special session put on by our church’s freedom ministry department … when the speaker asked us to close our eyes and listen to Holy Spirit speak to us. I took this opportunity to lift this situation that weighed heavy on my heart up to the Lord. He spoke, “I trust you.” “Wait, What?” I replied and continued asking as tears began to stream down my face, “How do you trust me? You’re the God … I’m the people, remember … I trust You!” He began to expound, “ You see I’ve got one hand with you where you are in the present and one hand with you over here in the future … you see we’ve got this Ris … you overcome! I can trust you because I see what you can’t see … I see the outcome! There is nothing we can’t do together.” Wow, it all came to together in one moment, even though I’ve had to travel this road in intervals of 24/7, He transcends time to be with me at all places at once. He was with me when we first met drawing me toward today and today He is with me drawing me toward a tomorrow where He already is. He was and is completely with me in all places as He is with you. Today you could have started your day similar to mine with a series of “…again moments” of being a wife and mother with a million things on your plate but also some situations weighting heavy on your heart. You may be single or married without children but that doesn’t mean that life cuts you any slack and there aren’t places in your heart that aren’t desperate for Him. My encouragement is that we serve a super-hero that will fight all odds to rescue you and show you His love. He transcends all time (He knows where you’ve been and where your going), He is drawing you toward your destiny. He is the ultimate BFF who always has your best interests at hand and can be trusted with the deepest places of your heart. He died on the cross to save the world … He is more than capable of saving us in the many ways we need to be saved daily… again. So as we trust Him together let’s crawl up in the mighty hands of the one I like to call: My time traveling Super-Hero BFF who saved the world … and that’s for short.

You can also see this post at: Destiny in Bloom

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My heart: House or Home?

I was driving to Starbucks after working out in the morning singing and responding to worship playing in my car. I love how worship can connect our hearts to God when we engage even for a moment. I began praying this prayer…”Lord I want my heart to be your home…that YOU the creator of the universe would be resident in my heart to see the truth of who I am…my strengths…my weak and frail parts…the parts that still have icky residue from my past to deal with…some I can see…some I can’t. Really live in me…be BIG inside me…BE bigger than me in me. I don’t want to be your house…I want to be your home!” And then…the download of His heart and revelation came to me. I don’t want to be a house that’s decorated and looks good…looks like it loves God…has pictures on the walls with scriptures…but His presence isn’t there. I want to be a home that might even be disheveled at times but IS lived in. I want God to live there and feel at home and others to feel at home because God lives there!

The revelation of this house and home thing really brought to light something in my heart. For so long I’ve had an idea of what my home schooling and domestication (for lack of a better word) should look like. That on any given day after home schooling my oldest son through all his subjects and had him read for twenty minutes, helped my second son through his kindergarten work, and entertained two smaller children…I should be able to get my house immaculately clean (like every other Mother does…right???) I should be able to keep it that way until my husband walks through the door. And well…I can occasionally get it that way…and it might even last a couple hours until a small tornado called my four children comes through and um…we begin again. I say ALL that to say it’s an idea I keep myself to…that I beat myself up about if I can’t get it done the way I want to get it done. It’s been a long struggle to find balance. But I’ve realized…I’ve served this idea in my head instead of serving God in this area of my life. And for a long time now I haven’t cared so much about what other people might think about me since I have a hard enough time with what I think about me …my own opinions of how I’m doing as wife and mother (most often we are our worst critic). I am not saying that I’m NOT going to clean…seriously does the cleaning ever end? No…I just want to serve God and not an idea…I want to be me…walking in Grace that is REAL…I don’t want to miss God in this moment because I’m off serving an idea of who I should be and trying desperately to arrive there instead of loving Him and being the best me I can be now! I only have today…TODAY…tomorrow’s worries will be there when I get there and when I get there…they are not too big for God! Deep breaths…I‘m finally okay with never arriving…embracing imperfection as my link to utter dependence on the ONE who made me imperfect. I was just telling my son tonight something he has heard me say since he was a baby… “ I will make you one promise about me that you can take to the bank…I will NOT be perfect, in fact I will blow it (more than once)…I will hurt your feelings…you’ll hurt mine…it’s relationships and it’s life…I won’t be perfect but I promise to lead you to the ONE that IS! He forgives…He heals…He makes new and He makes better.” He (my son) may only understand this in part now…but I know there will be a day he really gets it. It’s taken some years but I have finally got it for myself! I am just a Mom trying to walk this life out with God the best I can…aware of His amazing grace and humbled by His ever-present companionship that rises on the inside of me when I’m weak and says, “Your with Me now…we’ve got this!” I’m humbled that He chose imperfect vessels to be the place He wants to abide…that He chooses my heart…your heart to be His Home…a place His presence lives! We could all look around our hearts if we are willing to be honest and see messes…we might even think we can’t invite Him in till we get it all straightened up…but all the more I say, “Lord get comfy up in our hearts…make our hearts your home…because I know if You’re living here…the rest will surely fall into place!”

Being His home and with Great Love,

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When God put it on my heart to write about this hole in our faces…the hole that words come out of. I thought really Lord,…me? I get to talk about the beauty of holding one’s tongue? You know who this is right? Your girl with the talent to still be talking when the room goes silent, um…talking to my girlfriends about a sale at our favorite store and how much I love my new pink bra! Umm…Ya, that would be me Lord! …And that would be only one example. I am the queen of trying to reign back my words in the air after they have come out of my mouth without thinking. I can see myself in slow motion reaching out for them saying, “Come back to me…come back to me…,” But NO…they go and land on the ears of the hearers leaving me with nothing but huge eyeballs starring back at me. One of my favorite BIG GULP moments is when I was pregnant with Caleb our first and my due date was Nov.5th…one of my big prayers was that he would not come early and be born on Oct. 31st. I just thought that…THAT would be horrible. Yuri my husband was invited by some friends to play electric guitar during a worship service at their church…after practice Yuri invited me up to the stage to meet everyone. Being just one month away from having our first baby everyone asked what our due date was. I started chatting with the Leader’s wife how it is Nov. 5th and I was just hoping and praying he wouldn’t come early…because I just didn’t want a Halloween baby. Then there was a moment of silence…the kind that nudges you and let’s you know you shouldn’t have been so opinionated. She graciously tells me her husband’s (the worship leader) birthday is on Oct. 31st and not only his but also the bass players birthday was on Halloween. I thought …”Oh JESUS! …oops, I did it again!…please HELP ME!!!!” We all have times we wished we had kept our mouth shut. That we would have taken just a few more moments to process the words that would come out of our mouths…and instead of recovering from another instance of verbal regret we would have played it safe at least just once.

Now this is just a silly story and embarrassing moment that might not of happened if I had stopped to consider in such a large world someone was bound to have been born on Halloween and they might just be in that room. But… what I really feel like God has put on my heart to talk about is trusting God with our words through the lack of them. So often when we go through difficult circumstances and challenges in life and we feel in some way we have been misunderstood, judged, accused, and or even rejected by or due to the prior…we want to defend ourselves (or fix it) with our words. We want to talk to other people about it…seeking validation. This kind of validation usually only lasts the length of the conversation and sometimes can border on gossip if details are still unknown or closure is looming. Guard your heart with all diligence…believe the best of all people even the ones that have hurt you…I challenge you to seek God’s validation. Only what He says about you and your situation will give you the strength to stand strong with integrity in Him. What ever you have gone through or are going through I want you to be encouraged…God vindicates…He rescues…He defends…He protects….He heals…and ultimately HE CAN BE TRUSTED!!!

Concerning this hole in our faces…I have come to learn less IS more. What do I mean by that? I mean the less we say the more God can do! I hope to be able to articulate in words all that is in my heart…I’m going to start by sharing my story and how trusting God and saying less has changed my world and given me the opportunity to see and experience the tangibility of His faithfulness. I went through a situation that touched many relationships in my life…people I loved. Relationships were tested…and the fire was there to burn up what wasn’t God. It was painful…it felt lonely at times…anger was there too…holding up her “Why me” sign and I wanted with everything in me to defend myself. I wanted to fix it and make it go away. Surely I could fix it…I could give more…I could love more…I could make allowances more. But when I would go to pick up the phone the Holy Spirit would say, “Don’t do it!”, on the inside of me. I didn’t understand…why would you not want me to fix it…if they just heard me out they would see…I could make it better. I will never forget what the Holy Spirit said to me. “Marissa …go ahead…make the phone calls and you can put a band aid on it and it will be fixed the best it can be with your efforts. I’ll let you do it and what you get is what you get and that’s it. But…if you will trust me and say nothing… I can change you, I’ll change them, I’ll change the situation and every angle of the situation will bear fruit. I was presented with a choice and I would be a liar if I didn’t say that going ahead and taking care of it myself wasn’t a strong temptation. I was desperate for the hurt to end…but I choose to let my God be my God even if this choice meant I would have to hurt a little longer while I learned to depend on Him. In His job description (found all through bible) says He’ll take care of us, He’ll fight our battles, and He’ll protect our name and us. During this period I was all up in the Psalms everyday…some days printing them out and sleeping with them. In those days I felt like King David and I were best friends, his words were as dramatic as I felt and God used them to show me His steadfast love for me. Life is not without pain…pain usually puts the pressure on our lives to bring about bitterness or change. As your reading this…choose change! I made a choice to anchor myself in love…that was my position in Christ daily to choose LOVE! I remember being in a Target parking lot and that sneaky little devil started accusing these people to me in my head and I almost didn’t catch him! I pointed my little finger (probably looking nuts) and said, “Stop accusing the people I love to me!” And with those words I dug my toes into the sands of His faithfulness. I am telling you…He IS faithful! He restores…it may not be overnight in your world it sure wasn’t in mine. I gave Him a hurting heart and He cultivated love in it…I was changed!!! He did a work in the people I love restoring even closer relationships where He is Lord! Their hearts were changed! The situation was changed! It continues to bear fruit! He said it and He DID IT! There is a faithfulness that can be felt when you walk in the fulfillment of His promises. Take courage…He sees you…He wants you to be an over comer in every area of your world! You don’t have to do it alone…He wants to fight your battles…let Him!! I hope this is an encouragement of how powerful He wants to be in our lives when we yield to Him even when it hurts. So it shall be one of the greatest testimonies of my heart …when I said less…HE DID MORE!!!

Always carrying you in my heart with GREAT Love,
~Ris