Failure…yet still forgiven

PicCollageAs a teacher, I get this glorious thing called “summer break”.  8 weeks of not driving into work and not having a care in the world…well, at least that’s what some people think.  And I guess, somewhere along the way, I started believing that too.  I actually can remember thinking back in May…”there’s no reason why I can’t do TWO Bible studies this summer.  Yes, they are going on at the EXACT same time and last for 6 weeks but it’s the SUMMER.  I mean – what else am I going to be doing?”  Apparently, I was simply envisioning days drawn out of laziness and boredom…

Yeah.  This was indeed a perfect plan.  One for the AM and one study for the PM – I even got the kids version of one of the Bible studies- (that’s when I would do the kids one too…perfectly sweet little worship time before bed studying Romans with my gals – what could go wrong with that plan?)

School ended and June began.  And I was just so excited.  There is something about a new Bible study.  I love it – kinda like new school supplies – I love the newness.  Colorful pens, nice/clean pages, and even a free Grace tote bag that came with the studies…perfect for a quick Instagram post!  This was the beginning of an incredible summer.

Until about day 6…maybe day 4??  I don’t remember anymore.  It got hazy.  There was a day when me and the gals sat and read through 3 pages at one time.  My youngest wanted to know why we “had” to do this instead of playing barbies.  My oldest calmly stated that if they paid attention maybe they could watch a TV show before bedtime.  Yes.  This looked EXACTLY like what I had imagined.  Maybe I should put THIS in my “instastory”.

Somewhere in week 2, I figured that I had better get my act together and maybe then I could at least share some things with the girls when we were driving around in the car.  I started carrying around my Bible/pens/notebook/study books in the Grace bag wherever we went hoping for a spare moment.  These moments actually would happen whenever it would stop raining long enough for the girls to have swim lessons.  In those moments, the Lord would speak and He’d speak directly to my heart…to my soul.  “Why Nickolee?  Why are you doing this?  Quit checking things off.  Dive into My Word because you want to know Me.”  In His Sovereignty both studies lined up that week in covering the Truth that our righteousness does NOT come from ourselves.  from our good works.  from anything we can do.  sigh.  It only flows from the blood of Christ Jesus.

I wish I could then tie this post up in a nice bow and click “post” but unfortunately, I can’t.

As the 3rd week started, swim lessons ended, and I might have woken up early to workout but just told myself I’d do my Bible study “later”.  Of course, when bedtime rolled around, I didn’t want to focus on the study when Netflix or sleep seemed to be an easier choice.  And the cycle continued.  And that Grace bag just kept hanging out in my front seat.  Riding around from church to play date to workout to go swimming to home to visit someone and so on and so forth.

And it feels dumb or dare I use the “s” word – stupid?  I mean really?  I know what I’m supposed to do.  I know what my heart and my soul needed/needs.  I can’t even say that I don’t have “time” because gracious I do (it’s summer break remember?!?!) and even on my busiest days during the year…I still do.  So what is it?  What is wrong with my brain that I keep trying to figure out where/when I can “fit Him in”?  How can I know the freedom and forgiveness that comes from just giving it all to Him, yet still walk around refusing to bow down?  Pride.  Sin.  Stubbornness.  Doesn’t Paul talk about this?  This struggle of knowing what is good and doing what is wrong?  Of being held captive while knowing Who sets us free?!?  (Check out Romans 7 – I’m not making this up)

I glance over at the bag that carries these two studies and my Bible with my cute pens and my prayer journal and I feel overwhelmed.  I forget where to start, the fear of failure isn’t so much a fear as it is a reality and opening the bag means I’ll have to face it instead of just ignoring it.

Amazing how His Truth whispers in the places I forget that I’m listening.  A song while I’m shopping for groceries, a text from a friend, a prayer lifted by my daughter, scripture I hung months ago…He pursues relentlessly.

My failure is indeed a reality.  I should not fear it.   The turning point comes in remembering that I know Bravery.  I can open the bag.  I can face it.  I can repent.  I can ask for forgiveness and know that I am.  I can start brand new, slate clean – even for the one millionth time – even completely and utterly undeserving of it. Head hung in shame – completely should have known better and yet still defiantly walked the opposite direction – He still redeems.  Still forgives.  Still shows mercy.  Still extends grace.  Still allows me to walk in VICTORY instead of failure.

And friend, you can too…

For His Glory,

 

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For the days when I’m not your best friend

Best FriendLyllian is our cuddle baby.  You can keep her in bed for a good hour longer in the morning if you’ll just snuggle up with her.  She will run up and hug you just because and someone’s lap is the most preferable seat in the house on any given day.

After many (non-blogged about) nights of not laying down with her at bedtime, I squeezed in beside her on her twin mattress and wrapped one arm around the top of her head and the other around her itty bitty but ever growing body.  We were so close, I could feel every breath on my neck.  Her hair has finally gotten long enough that I can play with it and it seems to calm her instantly.  She loves to talk as much as her big sister (and their momma) but she seemed content just resting.  I closed my eyes and tried to paint this moment onto the canvas of my memory – already realizing how quickly I seem to forget times such as these.

Her breathing started to slow and just as I thought she had dozed off, she whispered into my neck, “you my besssss fran, momma”.  I wanted to freeze time and record that precious voice. I needed to hold her and never let go.  My eyes filled with tears and my heart ached…because yes it was incredibly adorable, but I also knew that those words would not always be true.

I’ve always known that – even when I was the child in the relationship with my mom.  My mother was not there to be my best friend.  She wanted me to confide in her, to be honest, to laugh with her, as well as cry…but not as my BFF.

What’s caught me so off guard with this whole mother/best friend situation though – is how much I do want to be her best friend.  I want her to love me of course but honestly…I really want my girls to like me too.  I want them to have fun with me and enjoy my company…but there’s no Biblical wisdom that tells me how to make sure my children like having me around.

There will be days that will come around all too quickly that anger and dislike will find it’s way into that emotional heart of hers (if she’s anything like her momma or her big sister) and I’ll be the last person she wants to be her best friend.  I’ll make choices that she won’t understand and decisions she’ll be sure to think are to purposely make her upset.  There will be times when she might even believe that my goal in life is to simply make her life miserable and that she can not wait until the day when she’s out from under my roof…gracious that hurts my heart to even type out those situations – even as a hypothetical.

As I sit and think back on these moments, I can’t help but see the parallels in my walk with my Father.  How I love to call Him my best friend when I’m cuddled up with Him, walking with Him hand in hand…but turn a corner and a decision doesn’t pan out the way I expected – then that relationship can look so differently from my perspective.  My emotions can change and my attitude to boot.  I can sit here and type in my “wisdom” in referring to parenting my three year old but that wisdom dissipates when I suddenly can start acting like a toddler myself.  Geez.  Lessons hurt just as much if not even more so as an adult don’t they?

Lyllian, (& Ryleigh this goes to you too, my 6 year old going on 15), I will not always be your best friend.  I am not called to be.  It would not be fair to you…it would not be obedient to the One who has entrusted you to me and to your daddy.  We will love you…unconditionally – to the moon and back more times than you can count.  We will make mistakes.  Big ones.  Small ones.  Ones we have to apologize for and ones none of us may even realize until you get older and possibly have children of your own.  But I do want to point you to the Father.  He won’t mess up.  He will be there even when I want to be and I’m not (because even though it pains me to say so – I won’t always be there).  He will be your Father and your best Friend.  Your Confidant, your Savior, your Rock, and your Redeemer…He will be every single thing you have ever needed and will ever need.  And anything He allows me to be for you in the in between – believe me, I’m there.  With bells on – and sometimes tears – but always a grateful heart.

When you want to call me your “bess frann” then that’s awesome and if you want to act like you don’t know – then, sorry, tough luck, because that’s never gonna fly.  For His Glory,

 

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Deception’s Badge

deceptions-badge She wanted a badge to wear.  A bright one with curly ribbons, that would pin to her shirt – announcing to the whoever saw it that she had finally met him.  Alek.  The one we had all been praying for since long before we knew his name.  Ryleigh wanted to wear a badge so that everyone would know she had met him.  She had a new cousin and was incredibly proud of it.

It was super sweet and then there were tears when I explained that we were already late to school that morning and there simply wasn’t time to create this badge out of thin air.  On the way to school the Lord began to connect her desire for the world to know about Alek with what He had been uncovering for me through our Armor of God study at church.

Satan does the opposite of wear a badge…he wears disguises. Don’t you wish deception would wear a badge that announces it for what it is?  That when his lies came into our field of vision/hearing there would be a loud trumpet blast announcing that it was not truth?  Or at the very least a soundtrack to our life so we’d know when we heard a certain type of music that our thoughts were going in the wrong direction or that our choice was leading us to a mistake.  That sounds nice right?

And while that’s pretty much the exact opposite of what the enemy wants – since his goal is to devour and destroy us…the Lord has in fact designed an incredibly beautiful way for us to know just that – for us to see deception for what it is.  We can do this by girding ourselves with the belt of Truth.  Priscilla Shirer does an awesome visual of this through her Armor of God study.  She has on a long skirt made of lots of strips of fabric.  It’s hard to walk in because it looks like she could stumble or trip over any one of the pieces at any given time.

As she talks about wearing the belt of Truth she starts to define the word “gird”.  Which means to take up.  She starts picking up each piece of fabric and “girding” it or tucking it into the top.  If we do the same…if we take every decision, every word, every thought – and “tuck” it into His truth that we have girded our bodies & minds with – then we will know deception when it comes into our lives.  It will be as if a big flashing badge is announcing what it is…because we are wearing His truth as our belt.  I loved loved loved LOVE this imagery.  It made things click for me that never had before.

And, my favorite part? When it’s all tucked into our belt of Truth?  There’s nothing to trip us up – or make us fall.  Holding everything to His standard of Truth actually gives us MORE freedom instead of restricting it (which is what the world wants us to believe).

He is SO good!  He is such a Sovereign Father!

So, when I wonder if I’m missing something.  When I start to doubt what I’m doing or a decision I’m facing – I can look into His word.  I can gird it into His Truth and I will be able to see the enemy for who he is…as easily as anyone who saw Ryleigh that next day knew all about her new cousin, Alek.For His Glory,

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When Your Husband Isn’t “The One”

husbandYou’ve met the one.  The one you prayed for and dreamed of – and now he’s yours.  You’ve taken his last name and have settled in – for better or worse.

He’s charming, handsome, generous, and kind – but something just seems to be missing.  You waited your whole life for this…planned it out since you were a little girl.  However, that hole in your heart – the one you feel in your gut?  It’s still there.  Still empty.  You’re still longing.

You think that something must be missing.  You get dressed up, you go on date nights, you take a spontaneous road trip, and you do a Bible study together.  You buy a house and have children…but it’s still not filled.  You go to work, go on vacations, and join a church but no matter what – even on the absolute best days…he’s not everything you had hoped.

You lie awake at night, going back over every choice…every decision that has led you here.  Did you make a mistake?

You watch him when he’s not looking.  You see what a great man he is.  An amazing father and a devoted husband – a hard worker and a faithful follower of Christ.  But is marriage supposed to be hard?  Isn’t it supposed to make your life complete?  Could it really be?  Could he not be “the one”?!?

Oh sweet sister…no.  No, he’s not…he can’t be.

Date nights, diamonds, flowers, losing weight, helping out around the house, or anything else will never change the fact that he is not the One.

You see “the one” can only be fulfilled by One. 

And friend, your husband is not Him…and neither is mine.

“The One” for whom your soul longs for is the One who numbered the stars and knows every quirky and beautiful thing about you…because He created you.  He is Jesus Christ – the literal Lover of your soul  and it’s only through a relationship with Him that you can be satisfied.  Not momentary satisfaction dear one, but the everlasting kind. Love created us in His image…to be united with Him.  He designed us to walk with Him, to spend time together, to be in relationship & fellowship with Him.

It’s quite incredible what a difference it can make when you start viewing your husband as a sinner saved by grace (just like us! gasp!) instead of the one to fill every need in your life.  If our needs are met in the One who lacks nothing then every good gift is just bonus.  The amazing man you married?  Grace gift.  Your motherhood?  Grace gift.  Your home?  Grace gift.  Your job/church/vacation/health/etc?  Grace gifts.

And I wouldn’t be sharing the whole Truth if I left out the opposite of all those things – sickness/miscarriage/abuse/rebellion/being laid off/cancer/death/depression – there is grace found in each of these as well because our longings were not, are not, can not be satisfied in those.  When He is our peace giver – then things can not take it away.  When He is our foundation then explosive news can not shake us – it may very well knock us to our knees but it will not cause our Foundation to move.

When that viewpoint starts shifting then it’s much easier to understand all of the things that may have been nagging at the back of our hearts before were actually just tactics of the enemy.  Warfare playing out behind the scenes.  But that’s a topic for another day.

For now, let’s just breathe a sigh of relief because in case you haven’t figured it out – if our husbands aren’t “the one” for us – then that helps us remember we can’t be “the one” for them either!  #allthepraisehands

For His Glory,

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