Dark Times

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My kids are off to school, my Quiet Time is finished, the house is clean and as I sit here, curled up on the couch with my coffee, listening to my dog snore, I can’t relax.  I can’t stop thinking about our country and where we’re headed.  I’m so bothered by the dark times we’re facing.  I know that this is greatly related to our Revelation Study at church.  I’m aware that this frustration probably stems from fear…  Fear of the unknown and fear of the definite.

This morning I read that the first homosexual couple was married in South Carolina.  Gay Marriage is a tricky sticky issue for me.  First and foremost, I am a follower of Christ.  I long for my heart to be like His.  So with that said, I will boldly say that I reluctantly support gay marriage.  Tricky, right?  I told you.  Here’s why:

1.  God gives us Free Will.  The Lord lets us choose to follow Him or deny Him.  Trust that He could certainly make each of us fall on our face and worship Him if He chose.  He’s God, y’all.  We’re not in control unless He let’s us be in control.  If God let’s us choose salvation, He also let’s us choose sin.

2. The Church has no place in the Government.  The Church, the body of Christ, should be kept separate from the Government. If God gives us the choice, who is the government to hold all people to His commandments? We, Christians, cannot hold unbelievers to God’s standards.  They’re lost.  And they have the right to be lost.  I’m FOUND, Praise GOD- but I chose it!  The Government’s job is very different that the body of Christ’s job.  Their job is to make things fair and right and equal and just.  Our job as Christians is to share the Gospel and be the hands and feet so that people CHOOSE to follow Him.

3. We will all be judged. We all sin.  We will all be judged.  If you think that your sin is different that a homosexual’s sin, you’re wrong.  It’s all filthy and perverse and displeasing to the Lord.  We all need a Savior.

So, with my feet firmly planted on the pro-gay marriage side of the fence, why am I reluctantly claiming it?  Because it’s wrong.  It’s sin.  And it goes against my heart’s desire to be without sin.  It all points to darkness and glorifies the very thing that Christ died for.  It makes my heart sad that we’re living in a time that sin is glorified.  But I have to trust that everything that happens passes through God’s hands first.  He’s allowed us to get to this place.  And there will come a time when He will defeat it all!

Daddy Issues

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I feel God asking me to share something very honest and personal.  I don’t have a huge “blog following,”  but maybe there is someone who needs to hear this.  I don’t really  know what this is yet, but I know He will reveal it to me as I go.  And maybe its not YOU but ME who needs to hear it.

Last December, as our lives felt like they were crumbling before our eyes and we were broken and in our darkest hour, I still felt God.  I still knew that He was in control.  I was ANGRY and SAD, but I knew that it was all part of His plan (and that might have made me MORE angry and sad).  Everything that happens to us passes through His hands first.  So, God LETS bad things happen to us.  Don’t think for a minute that God is unable to protect us from evil.

As I prayed for peace with everything that was happening, I began to think of my Heavenly FATHER.  I thought of the role he plays as “Dad” instead of “God.”  Does that make sense?  I thought of my husband and what a great dad he is.  There is no question in my mind that he LOVES his children.  He always has their best interests at heart, but even still, there are times he allows them to mess up in order to teach them.  He allows them to fall off their bike to learn balance.  He allows them to fail a test to learn the importance of studying.  He allows them to go through heartbreak to teach them forgiveness.  He allows them to fail and get hurt and be (temporarily) broken.  And he LOVES them.  How much more does God, the One who created us, breathed life into us, LOVE us?  He is, afterall, our “Dad.”

So, after the tragedy, you’re left with the lesson.  Sometimes its abundantly clear, sometimes- well, it’s not.  But no matter the lesson, its from the Lord.  It’s His timing.  It’s His will.  It’s His purpose.  He might allow us to fall or fail or break, but He will bring us through it renewed in some way.

I used to pray for protection over my family, for blessings, for love.  But why?  We don’t ask our earthly father to love us and protect us- that’s just what daddies do.  Unless they don’t.  Unless they feel its in our own best interest to experience the fall, the struggle, or the brokenness.  As I grow nearer, and He molds me and teaches me, I’ve changed the way I pray.  I am no longer asking my Father to love me and protect me and give me every good thing.   I now ask my Father to help me submit to His Will.  To let me see the lesson in the tragedy.  To teach me.  To give me peace so that I may use every situation to glorify Him.  I ask Him to soften my heart.  I ask Him to forgive me where I fall short.  I thank Him for His mercies and grace.  But I don’t ask for protection.  As long as I’m on this earth, I will never know why our family had experience the things we did over the last year, but my God knows why.  And he loves us so big that I know, it was all for His purpose.

Hello, my name is Defeated

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“I’m going on a mental holiday.  I probably won’t answer your calls or return your emails.  I doubt I’ll get dressed or do any household chores.  I don’t plan on working or sewing.  I definitely won’t wash my hair.  I’ll probably cry.  As a matter of fact, I’ll probably sob. If you really, truly need me, you’ll have to come to my house and drag me out of bed where I’ll be snuggling my precious children.  But since I’ll be on a mental holiday, I can’t promise that I’ll react sanely if you interrupt me.”

That’s the status I really want to post on Facebook… instead I post, “Prayers, please.  :)”

Recently, my family’s world has been turned upside-down by a life-altering tragedy.  And for a few days, I was in a complete daze- sedated by drugs and reality.  But life kept going.  My phone kept ringing.  My email kept filling up.  People still had the same expectations of me.  Didn’t they know?  Didn’t they know that our lives were forever changed and I just need a moment to mourn?  Nope- They didn’t know.  They didn’t know because I pulled myself together, put on make up and braved the world, pretending nothing was wrong.  I smiled; I laughed; I ached.

Why do we do that??  Women are infamous for the fake smile.   Are we trying to protect ourselves from others or from reality?  Instead of braving the world with the ever-exhausting fake smile, why don’t we let others see our pain?  We’re all human.  We all hurt sometimes.   But we don’t shed that smile- we don’t show weakness.  Strong Christian.  Strong Mother.  Strong Wife.  Strong Woman.  That’s a lot of pressure, y’all.  That’s a lot of pressure on top of a broken heart and a family tragedy.  Why is there shame with pain?  Why can’t I just wallow for a while?

As I sit here, writing this, I see my husband (my rock) playing with my precious children (my joy) and I  have to thank God (my strength) that we are all here together.  And even though there are moments then I feel like I can’t breathe and my hands are shaking and my world is crumbling- I know that I DO have friends and family that will see us through this hard time… I know that my God is bigger than my problems and He will carry me through this hard time… When I’m ready to let them.  But for right now, I want to be sad.  I want to be angry.  I want to feel miserable and guilty and sick and defeated.  I also want to feel nothing and numbness and empty and alone.  Anything but comfort and happiness.  It’s too soon for happiness.  I know that we will get there, but today, I’m taking a mental holiday.  No fake smile, no braveness, and no make up to cover dark circles from sleepless nights.  I don’t have the energy to pretend today.  Today, I will cry.

Home Sweet Home

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There are days that my heart literally ACHES for “home.”  Days that I would give just about anything to be back on my big front porch in Georgia having a cold beer with a girlfriend, laughing- or crying- or laughing until we cried.  Days that I grieve that kind of friendship…

And then there are days like today.  Days when this little town in South Carolina feels like “home.”  Days when I feel so incredibly blessed (yes, Jen Kish, BLESSED!) to have the life I live and share it with the people I do.  Days when I KNOW that God has placed us here for a reason and that reason is so clear.

I truly believe that God moved us to South Carolina to change us.  To change our eternities.  Red and I both struggled when we first moved here.  We were (and still are) very social people.  We moved from a place where we were ALWAYS with friends to a place where we not only weren’t with friends, but were certain that there were none to be made.  So, we put our little minds to work and started to brainstorm- “Where do people meet friends?”  That question sounds so crazy because we’ve always made friends easily and quickly through work and neighbors.  This move was different.  My parents were our neighbors and neither one of us was working… So where DO we meet friends?  Here’s what we came up with:  The bar or church.

We’ve been down the bar road before- and we made some great friends- however, we had young children now and were looking for a “different kind of friendship.”  One that involved play dates and family BBQs.  So that left church.  RELUCTANTLY, Red drug me to a few local churches-  I felt pretty confident that we wouldn’t be forming our new posse at ANY of them. 

Meanwhile: Due to our school distirct, we chose to enroll Liam in a private school.  We toured a few of them and decided on Emmanuel.  This was an exceptionally hard decision for me because both my older brother and myself had gone to a Baptist Christian school and ended up as Athiests.   I agreed to let Liam go to ECS as long as we would teach him about other religious options at home.  Red rolled his eyes and agreed (that’s mostly how he deals with my crazy).

Since Liam was going to attend ECS, we decided to give EBC a shot at the friend-finding.  There was a young couple with a child in Liam’s class that had invited us.  We went on a Sunday morning at 11:00 (because that’s what time chuch starts, everyone knows that!)… only we were running late, so we got there closer to 11:30 after getting the kids checked into the nursery.  Here’s a fun fact about EBC- it starts at 10:30.  So, we were literally an hour late and had no idea.  We sat near the back and thought it was so weird that they didn’t have any music worship prior to the sermon.  Red and I left that day knowing that we’d found something different.  Something special.  No friends yet, but we knew we wanted to come back.

Soon, that same couple invited us to come on a Wednesday night.  I’ll NEVER forget that first Wednesday night at Emmanuel.  As I sit here and remember, I have tears streaming down my face.  A young couple desperate for some friends would be forever changed that night.  We walked into a room that full of other couples our age… and they were laughing and joking… and they were actually funny… and fun.  The leader of the class at the time was starting a new study beginning that night on Christian Apologetics.  I had no idea what that meant, but I wasn’t stupid enough to admit it.  Thankfully, I quickly caught on- he would be proving the Christian faith.  PROVING it to an ATHIEST.  He had no idea who I was or what I did or didn’t believe.  He also had no idea that his little Wednesday night class would change EVERYTHING for me.  By the end of the Apologetics class, Red and I were different people.  Night and day.  The people in that class SHOWED us the Gospel- on paper and in their actions. 

And now, 2 years later, I get to call those people my friends.  I get to hang out with peope who make me better all the time.  I get to call those people on the phone and pray with them over struggles and triumphs of LIFE.  It doesn’t make me miss my life-long friends in Georgia any less, but it does make me so so thankful that He moved us here.  And here is really beginning to feel like “home.”

Self-Loathing Maniac!

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With everything that’s going on with Charleigh, work, Next Steps, the Lions Club, CFPC (along with trying to be a good momma and wife!) – I’m feeling overwhelmed.  Like on the verge of a break-down kind of overwhelmed.  I’m not typically someone to wallow in self pity, but I think a little pity party might be in the cards tonight.  Yeah, I’m THAT girl tonight….

I find myself being short with my husband and kids. (Always the first sign that something in my life has gone awry.)  I am a child of God first;  I am a wife and mother second, and a volunteer and employee third.  So, if the third thing on my list is starting to affect and efffect the first two, I’m doing it wrong.  That’s sort of the theme here lately- “I’m doing it wrong.”  So, after I apologize to the 67 people I’ve been rude to over the last three days, I guess I should re-evaluate a bit and get back in the game.

But here’s the part that keeps me from ACTUALLY having a breakdown- remember when I said I was a child of God first?  Well, that comes with some MAJOR perks.  First of all is His GRACE.  Second is His power to change my heart.  He’s working on me everyday.  And He’s not done yet.  So I’m having a pity party tonight because I’ve been a jerk and I’ve screwed up at work and I’ve let some people down, but the good news is that when I go to bed tonight- its done.  I get to wake up to a new day and a new me.  Seriously, how great is my God!?

The RIGHT way to PRAY

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I think its fair to say that most of us are under the impression that there’s no wrong way to pray.  However and whenever is good as long as you’re doing it.  WRONG.  Jesus teaches us how to pray with The Lord’s prayer.

I just spent about an hour watching Andy Stanley’s Prayer (Permission to Speak Freely) videos.  During these videos, Andy breaks down The Lord’s Prayer and teaches the way God wants us to pray… and why!

After watching, I rushed to my blog because I had to document this for future reference.  This is too good to forget!

If you have 50 or so mins to kill- watch these YouTube videos.  They will change the way you pray!

part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwm5qK0bubE

part 2:h ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LECEM1Ey5EA

part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pVr0kksAD4

I jotted down a few notes as I listened to the right way to pray…  Here’s what I wrote:

step one: Go to your room, and close the door.  Get intimate.

step two: Recognize His worth and praise it.  Declare His greatness.

step three: Surrender yourself to His will.  THY WILL BE DONE!

step four: Acknowledge your dependency.  Whether you have a little or you have a lot- its all from the Lord.

step five: Don’t spend so much time on what you need or want from God because He already knows!

step six: Don’t quit asking!  Your persistent prayer has the power to change the heart of God.

So, I’ve been praying WRONG.  How about you?