Friday, June 27, 2014

What's the storyline of your life? #shesharestruth #shereadstruth

What? Two posts in a week? This may not have happened since I started nursing school.

But we're having a quiet morning and I'm enjoying a second cup of coffee. I have an assignment to finish today and I "work" (nursing externship) a 12-hour overnight shift tonight. So I'm taking some me time.

I have really been enjoying the She Reads Truth series on Ruth. If you haven't checked out the She Reads Truth bible studies, I highly recommend you do. They aren't too long, but usually rich in content and the ladies do their exegetical homework. (A fancy word that means properly studying and understanding scripture---that's the seminary degree coming out in me). I have a link to their homepage on my iPhone and am excited for the app they are working on.

Today’s #SheSharesTruth assignment is this:

Is there a discrepancy between the names by which Jesus calls you and the names you give yourself? Are there circumstances in your life to which you are giving undue power, power that rightfully—and in reality!—belongs to our sovereign God alone?  Sister, who names you today—your God or your circumstances? 

Naomi experienced tremendous loss and tragedy in her life and told her friends to call her Bitter. "Naomi believed in her head that God was sovereign, but she was too soul weary to believe it with her heart."

None of us are immune to this. We allow the circumstances of life and sometimes the people around us to change our name. Like Naomi, we decided who we are based on our circumstances.

What are the names you have been called by? Maybe not literally, but in your soul. Reflect on some of the difficult times in your life, perhaps you are in the midst of one right now. What are the labels you feel?

Shauna Niequist spoke an incredible message (click to listen) several months ago called "Storyline." She talked about how we become defined by the stories of our life and we carry them with us for years, but how with God we can change the story. It's much like what Naomi was doing, carrying her story of loss and bitterness and choosing to be defined by it.

Shauna said: "What are the stories you’ve been carrying with you for a long time? What would it look like if you were to let them go? And what stories might God be already trying to tell in your life?"

The story I carry with me? It's a story of not being enough. Of feeling sidelined and not validated in who I am. A story of unused gifts and a longing to be truly seen.

And this story has flavored years of my life. It has impacted my friendships and how I conduct myself. Because I never quite feel like enough. Because stories in my life have told me that I am not enough.

But that is untrue. Because in Christ, I am more than enough. I am valued and he SEES me. God has been by my side in every episode of my story. And he has carried me and sustained me.

So, I decided to change my story. I have been asking God to remove that "not enough" label from my soul. He has shown me various situations where I have allowed the label to flavor my words and actions. I am very aware that I read "not enough" into various situations in my life.

Slowly, sometimes very slowly, my name and my story are changing. I am enough. I am valued. I am loved. I am worthy.

First we need to identify the names we have taken on and the circumstances we have allowed to define our storyline. And you probably have every right to feel the way you do. You have walked a hard road, like Naomi did. No one could fault her for feeling bitter.

But we are not named named by our circumstances. We are named by our good God. God wants to tell a new story in your life. He wants to give you a new name. To weave your brokenness, your wounds and scars into a story of healing and redemption. To fill you up once again and bring rejoicing into your soul.

Never once has God left our story unfinished or unredeemed. Who we become and what we appreciate come from some of our darkest days.

He will restore your life and sustain you. (Ruth 4:15)

P.S. What's really ironic is that when I went to Shauna's website just now to link it here, her most recent blog entry is about "loved, known, welcome, enough." Thanks God. I'm getting it. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

dear daughters, we can do hard things

Dear Girls,

We are 41 days from my last final. This summer is hard, like we knew it would be. Your dad and I have no time together, which means we bicker more than usual. Which usually is never. By the end of each day, you all are fried and need extra mama time. The last two weekends I've basically been MIA for 2.5 days--working 12 hour nights and then sleeping during the day only to wake up and do it one more time. Yes, this is probably going to be reality once I have a job, but I won't have daytime school in the mix, so hopefully we will all adjust.

My daughters, you will have to do hard things. You will have to make momentary sacrifices for long term gains. You may have to give up time with your husbands, your children, for a worthy purpose. And it will hurt your heart to no end. You will ask God "why" and wonder if there wasn't a better way. You will wake up each day exhausted, feeling like you never slept. You will live caffeine. You may want to move to Mexico and live in a little shack, just so you can be with your kids all the time.

But girls, you have to trust. You have to trust in the God who leads you, the God who holds you, the God who strengthens you and will never forsake you. You have to trust that when you made the decision to embark upon a journey (whatever it may be) that it was God directing you and that means he will carry you. Day by day, moment by moment. He is with you.

I have had to say "no" to you far more than I would like already this summer. But I'm saying "no" now, so that I can say yes in the future. Yes to fun family outings and yes to playing a board game with you. Yes to camps and activities. I just want to be able to say yes.

Hang in there girls. Hang in there with me this summer. Hang in there when you are walking this path yourself. Don't let go. You are stronger than you think. You can do this.

We can do this.

Love, Mama