God pushes…The Valley of Death.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Psalm 23:4 NIV

The darkest valley. Called the valley of the shadow of death in the KJV version.

Reminds me of our own “valley of death” where Bo and I run. There is no breeze. It’s always hot. And coming up out of the valley on one side is a steep hill. The other side is a gradual 1/2 mile climb.

Hard work on both sides. 

There was a time in my life when I just couldn’t do it. I’d give up and walk instead of run the climbs. Beat myself up along the way because I couldn’t do it on my own.

Last fall, Bo and I led a small group study called Run for God. One of my first realizations was that I could run with God as I ran for Him. Realized if I asked for help and gave my run to Him, He would push me out of that valley.

So many times I have asked God to push me out. Push me up the hill. And every time He has shown up. He was with me.

My legs burning. My breath laboring. Gravity slowing me down. Feels like everything is working against me to keep me from coming out of the valley of death.

I want to stop. Give up. Like so many times before.

I just ask God…”push me up this hill. I can’t do this on my own.” And every time I ask, He does. I know I can conquer those hills and come up out of that valley with His help.

Just like Bo, who has gently put his hand on my back to encourage me and literally, physically give me a push…I can feel God’s hand on my back, gently pushing and encouraging. 

Just like Bo who has spoken words of encouragement to me as we run together…I can hear God’s words of encouragement.

Only when I don’t rely on Him do I fail. Stop. Walk. Give up.

Of course  I can eventually come out of the valley on my own but there is no celebration or feelings of accomplishment. I feel worn instead of rejuvenated. Defeated.

I need that push! I need that encouragement.

I’ve made a habit of asking Him to join me on my run. Mostly because I know I will need His push out of the valley. I know I can’t run out of that valley without help. On my own, I beat myself up. I tell myself I can’t do it. On my own, I fail over and over. I know I need Him in that valley.

And just like I need His help to run out of that valley, we all need His help as we go through low points in our lives.  Times when we feel like giving up. Times of fear.  Failure.  Disappointment.  Trouble. Despair.

If God is SO willing to help me run up this valley of death in my neighborhood, He for sure is willing to help us through our other valleys. We just have to remember to ask him to join us.

I’ve learned that if I ask him to join me on my run before I reach that valley, I have peace and comfort, knowing He is with me….before I ever even reach the first sign of struggle. I’m ready. Prepared.

If I stay with Him on the easy flats and the downhill slopes, I know He’s there. I know I’m not in it on my own. And I can trust him and know He will push me out of those valleys and up the big hills.

Oh the celebration of hitting the top of the valley!

The air is moving…wind hits my face. My muscles that worked so hard feel lighter, stronger.  And my heart swells, knowing that I conquered that valley.

All because of Him.

And let me tell you….we celebrate! Thankfully it’s a not a populated area or I might be a pest with my whooping and hollering.

He tells me every time “see? I told you. Stick with me. I’ll get you out of there.” 

Every time. He never fails me.

I can’t do it without Him. Whether it’s on a run or in my daily life.

I know that in any valley, He is right there with me. Encouraging me. Pushing me. Getting back up on those easy flats. Celebrating success with me. Staying with me.

There will always be valleys of death. Times of need. Struggle. Pain.

With Him, those valleys aren’t as scary. I don’t have to fear because He is with me.

Long time, no see..and some good stuff.

Hi y’all! Been a while, huh? 🙂 

You know, I was just remembering how I told the hubs this past spring that I couldn’t wait for summer….because things would slow down and we could relax. I could blog again about how fabulous our school year went (it really was pretty cool) and then blog about all the cool things I have in my head for the new school year (really cool too).  I’d have time to research materials for the high schooler who is coming back home from this last year of public school (YAY!!).

That memory flooded my mind this morning right after I thought to myself how I couldn’t wait for school to start so we could get a break from the busy-ness of our summer. Ha!

It’s been CRAZY! Not only haven’t I blogged about the past, I haven’t even started to plan for the future.

It’s already July!!! What?!

It will all come together. This I know. Not sure how….but I have faith. 🙂

So in the middle of our already busy summer, I decided to join our church’s women’s group this month. I haven’t really had the time for it before but I just felt nudged to MAKE time. Kind of like taking care of your body: exercising, resting properly, eating right…you have to make the time because you’ll never ever find it!

This past weekend I realized that I had a major conflict with the day and time of women’s group. Two of my middles were already signed up and paid for (and most importantly they were aware and patiently waiting for) an art day camp this week…in the morning…at the same time as the women’s group.  Then I realized I had scheduled a meeting with our homeschool co-op committee on the 3rd Monday of this month…at the same time as the women’s group!! I felt {more than} a little dejected at that point…especially after feeling the nudge to join. 

I’m like, “God, you want me to do this but you know I have these other commitments, right?….what’s up?” 

Last night I felt nudged to quickly double checked the times, and I realized that the women’s group plus travel time back and forth would fit just perfectly in the time frame of the art camp for today.

So what about that 3rd Monday? Well that is a topic for future post but let me just say that God worked that out too.

{I totally just giggled and rolled my eyes at myself….as I thought “see there? He has a way of working these things out.” …Just as I know we’ll be prepared for the new school year. Have faith, little sheep. If He wants it to happen for you, He’ll make it happen. Not like He can’t see (and prevent) obstacles that stand in the way. Duh.}

{The little sheep part is a joke that will make sense to you later on.}

So a lot of good stuff right there and plenty of a lesson for me today. However, I was overwhelmed with much more than the “oh ye of little faith” lesson this morning.

O-ver-whelmed, I tell you.

We’re doing a study called Knowing the Shepherd by Nancy Leigh DeMoss based on Psalm 23. Day one…I can tell you it’s going to be awesome!!  We’re learning how we really are sheep in need of a Shepherd to take care of our every need. 🙂

Three HUGE things this morning.
1. God understands.
2. God provides.
3. God pushes.

I can’t blog today about all three, and I’m afraid it would just get too long and confusing anyway. I’ll post 2 and 3 at a later time, and just link back.

So… 1. God understands.

This little bitty bit came to me while driving to get my art camp boys after just listening to other moms talk about their children stresses.  It was SO straight out of a book that I’m reading right now called Unglued. Ha! So good…and funny…and true! I can relate.

One of the women in our group was talking about spending morning time with God, and another mom asked how she made that happen. How do we find time to spend with God without having kids running all over us?

This has been a struggle of mine for a while. I have five kids from ages 1 to 15. Until this summer, the hubs had been working out of town Monday-Friday….leaving me to fend for myself with the boys. {Thank you, Lord….he’s home now!! 🙂 Some sanity is starting to creep back into my mind.} Some days I’m completely worn out but haven’t accomplished much of anything. Ok, a LOT of days I feel that way.

On the way to pick up my boys, I remembered a Proverbs 31 study from Good Morning Girls that I partially did last summer. Partially because like so many other things I’ve started in the past couple of years….I didn’t finish it. You know, life gets in the way. The baby isn’t sleeping like he should {clearly missing the memo about giving this mama some sound sleep}. Kids need something or to be somewhere…all the time. Blah, blah, blah…life.

Oh my gosh….but that Proverbs 31 woman has it together, doesn’t she? So accomplished, calm, cool, and collected. The complete opposite of me.

One night last summer, I was thinking how impossible it was for me to be like her. There was NO way!! I had a newborn who kept me awake at night, and four boys who kept me awake during the day.  The hubs was out of town. School was about to start, and my teen was begging to go to public school. I was failing at EVERYTHING. Ok, well it felt like I was anyway. Nothing seemed to be working out for me at all. Plus….just as a reminder, there was a NEWBORN baby in the house. Hello.

I kind of grew to hate that woman, and wanted to give up the study.

Then I watched a video from one of the GMG ladies. Just so you know…I’m pretty sure she recorded and posted that video just for me. 🙂

She talked about all the different seasons in our lives…..and how because of those seasons, we might not be able to live *just like* the Proverbs 31 woman. The biggest arrow straight to my heart? When a newborn sleeps longer in the morning, the worn out mom should most definitely take advantage and sleep in with her baby. This is not her season to rise early. 

Oh thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.  I totally did the ugly cry as I kept watching. Relief washed over me.  Brings tears to my eyes now just thinking about it.

Really I needed to hear that because it was my biggest struggle. How do I make myself get up early when I’m SO exhausted that I daydream about long, undisturbed naps?  How can I have alone time with God when the baby just wants to be held/cuddled/fed all day? How do I do this when I have four others vying for my attention every second that the baby is sleeping? I. Just. Want. To. Sleep.

It’s simple. I don’t. It wasn’t my season to rise early. It was my season to take care of a newborn who required so much of my time. It was my season just to be a mother. The release of guilt was amazing. The release of expectation was amazing. The release of judgment on myself was amazing. 

Without all that junk weighing on my shoulders, I began to think about what I COULD do.

I remembered YouVersion right there on my phone. I picked one short devotional and committed to just finding 10 minutes in the morning to read it. Then I let my thoughts wander back to the devotion throughout the day as I fed the baby, changed a diaper, fixed a meal, folded laundry, or fell asleep at night. I didn’t feel obligated to set aside a particular amount of time or pick a particular time of day.

I had those Aha! moments and learned valuable lessons…throughout the day.

I learned that praying doesn’t have to happen with eyes closed, head bowed, and hands folded neatly together.

I learned that singing along with Air1 while rocking the baby or driving to an activity is *REAL* worship and prayer time.

I learned that if I was just honest with myself and God…and admitted that I couldn’t do it myself, He would meet me right where I was…in the car, in the rocking chair, snuggled up with the baby, on my runs, in the middle of the night, sitting outside while the boys played…wherever I was.

And I learned that if I didn’t get to my devotion that day, it and God would be there tomorrow. Waiting on me. Patiently and understandingly and forgivingly waiting.

All that time I spent in little bits throughout the day {and night} added up to a LOT of time with Him.  I did what I could, and He met me where I was. Every time.

During this crazy busy summer, it was just the reminder I needed. Just the reminder that there are so many different seasons in our lives that require different things from us.  We need to embrace those tough seasons. Do what we can to work through them.  And remember that just around the corner is a season of rest.

And God doesn’t want us to feel chained to a certain expectation of how time with Him should be.  It should be freeing, not suffocating.

And when we fail, we don’t have to give up. We simply remember He’s patiently waiting and understanding and forgiving….and then we start again.

Thankful for a women’s group that unknowingly brought this reminder to me today.

Thankful for a God who loves unconditionally.

Like a lost sheep.

You know the parable of the lost sheep? {Luke 15:4-7}  A story of lost souls, Jesus loving and seeking those who don’t yet know Him, going after them relentlessly, not wanting to leave even one in danger.

I think this parable also applies to the saved who have drifted away from Him, those who also need rescuing. I can identify with this type of lost sheep because this is exactly how I have felt for months now. I didn’t even realize it until today as I drove home this afternoon. This is me…the lost sheep.

And I’m ok with this fact because I know the Shepherd is coming after me. I realized this too as I was driving.  God’s got this…He has all along.

This is a story that some of you will read and actually know what specifically I’m talking about….you know, those IRL (in real life) people who read my blog.  I’m not telling it for any other reason than I blog my feelings and I’m real about my life. A few years ago a blogger friend who I haven’t met IRL told me that I had the perfect life. Nothing wrong or bad ever happened to me. My life was fun, exciting, joyous, wonderful, blah, blah, blah. I asked if we were thinking of the same life. My life IS fun, exciting, joyous, wonderful….but plenty wrong happens in between all the good stuff, and it’s not even close to perfect. I’m just a regular person with problems and faults. Why in the world would she say that?!

Well. Because of my blog. I only talked about the good things. Fun things. Exciting things. Joyous and wonderful things. Honestly? I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear all the bad junk. Everyone has their own junk…why would anyone want to read about mine? So after that eye-opening conversation, I decided then to just be real…100% me…the good, the bad, and the ugly. {which by the way was during a time of postpartum depression so if anyone else in the bloggity world thought I had a perfectly happy go-lucky life, they learned pretty quick that I did NOT. Ha!}

That is what this post is about…real open honest 100% me.  I’m saying this because I have NO hard feelings. Honestly. I blame NOBODY. I love everyone involved. And I truly am ok with how things turned out. So there’s my disclaimer. 🙂  I love you.

So back to the lost sheep.

I was deeply involved in a ministry at my church. I loved it. A few months ago, things happened and I was no longer involved in that ministry. I was hurt, more than I thought possible. I know my calling in this life…I have since I was a little girl. I also know that it doesn’t apply specifically to one place or another.  I know the place or circumstance can change…it has before.

But I really thought this would be my place for a long time.

I became involved in another ministry at the same church {that was already in the works…can’t tell me God doesn’t look out for us!}. It wasn’t as fulfilling but it was the perfect distraction that I needed to let my heart heal before making any decisions about my family’s future at the church.

I’ll be honest….if not for the Run for God group that my husband and I led this fall, we would have left the church and I would have completely abandoned my faith…because that was my gut reaction.  My husband said he would be supportive and understanding of any decision I made but he really wanted me to hang on. I didn’t want to. I wanted to let go and pretend like none of it happened. Go back to the time when Sundays were lazy days and life was on cruise control…because that was easier. 

I can be stubborn in my thinking so God really pulled out some small miracles during the duration of our Run for God meetings. He showed up every time during our meetings and then surprised me by joining me on my personal runs. I challenged him repeatedly…and he accepted and surpassed my challenges every time. A ministry that I helped lead actually ended up ministering to me.

I laugh when I think about it now. I’m an emotional person. I cry at commercials. I cry when I think about sad things, happy things, fun things, bad things. Man…I had to try really, really hard not to cry every time I ran through the colors at the Color Run last month just because I was SO excited to be there. My emotions are right out there on my sleeve for all the world to see. Always.

So you know I cried during our first meeting when we shared our stories {mine about a struggle to get back to my healthy self} and I cried again the night after our last meeting because of something the hubs said. He told the group that last night that he “hoped they got something out of the group, be it physical or spiritual. I know Christie did.” I’m pretty sure he meant *physically* I got something out the group because, oh boy, did I!  I got my running life back AND improved on every level of it.  And maybe he knew this group was the glue holding my faith together too because we have talked it…I don’t know. The point is this group kept me from diving down somewhere I’m so thankful I didn’t go.

Now that time has come to an end…it’s only a 12 week program.  I’m back to not knowing where I fit.  I used the Run for God weeks to just hang on. No growing. No moving forward. Nothing but just simply hanging on. It’s all I could do then and I know God was ok with that. He stayed with me through it and all he asked was that I didn’t turn my back on Him.

So that’s all I did. Hang on and keep my face turned to His.

Now decisions have to be made.  Because of my experiences in this church, I can no longer be involved with a church, and NOT give my time and energy to the mission of being “the visible church.”  I have to be involved on a level deeper than just dropping myself into a chair for one hour on a Sunday morning. This has been my greatest take-away during my time here. I have to serve.

But I don’t know what to do. This church? Another church? How do I utilize my calling in this place? Do I even? If not, where do I go to be the person I know I’m called to be?  Does my calling even have anything to do with church anymore? Where do I fit in?

And would it even be fair to pull my kids away from something they love so much?

I feel detached from the church. I feel like a stranger sitting among people I know….people I love.

And of course this affects *the practicing of* my faith.  In my home, I teach my boys every day about God’s love. I read them stories from the bible. I pick scripture for them to memorize so they have God’s Word right in their hearts. I tell them that God loves them even more than I possibly can….and they know that moms love BIG! I tell them about the importance of prayer, reading our Bibles, giving Him all glory in all things.

Yet I’m on autopilot. I don’t journal like I used to. I don’t read my bible unless I’m reading to my kids. I have a ton of books all about faith on my Kindle but I can’t even make it past the first couple of chapters before I stop reading. While I’m watering the seeds of their faith, my own faith is dormant.

Like I said, God has shown up in the last few months. My lack of motivation has not stopped His persistence. We talk. A lot. My favorite thing to do is scroll down my Facebook feed and say a “God, you got this” prayer for every status{the good, the bad, and the ugly} on my feed. It’s kind of become my ritual. But I haven’t really talked about this particular problem. I didn’t know what to say or what to ask.

Sometimes….it’s just easier to pray for someone else.

So on the drive home I realized my prayer.

God, bring me back to the fold. Drag me to where I belong. I don’t know where that is but you do. I know it will happen because You are the Good Shepherd who rescues His sheep. You got this…you have all along. 

A Recent Discovery and a Giveaway!

I made a recent {re}discovery and had to share!!

I went to the D6 conference last year, and was given a few Seeds Family Worship sample CDs.  I took most of them to church to give away but I ended up keeping two. I put them in a desk drawer and forgot about them….until two weeks ago.

I was reading a blog that went on and on about the Seeds Family Worship CDs and how it made bible verse memory work SO much easier.  I wish I could remember the blog because it was AWESOME!

and then I remembered those two CDs.

Since I already had the CD sampler, I decided to start with those verses and see how things went for my boys before buying the full CDs.

Also another great find….I did quick search and I found our first memory verse on You Tube.

You guys…after only THREE days of the YouTube video, my boys are singing (and reciting) 1 Timothy 4:12…on their own…throughout the day. The tune is short, sweet, and catchy…and they LOVE it! We have listened to the CD at least two or three times a day.

I added in these printables, and it’s made for a FUN week of memory work.

So now I have this exra CD sampler and I’d love to bless another family!!  There is one song from each of the six available full CDs on the sampler:
1. Put on Love. Colossians 3:12 & 14
2. Servant of All. Mark 9:35
3. Whatever You Do. 1 Corinthians 10:31
4. Amen. Revelation 7:10 & 12
5. The Word of the Lord. 1 Peter 1:24-25
6. Young. 1Timothy 4:12.

Three ways to enter a chance to win:
1. Comment below.
2. Follow or subscribe to my blog. {and comment a 2nd time saying “I’m a follower.”}
3. Share this post. {comment a 3rd time, saying “I shared.”}

Be sure to leave an email so I can contact you! I’ll draw a winner on October 12th!!  YAY! Fun!

A terrible picture taken with my phone but here is the CD!

Today kind of stunk….or maybe it didn’t.

Couldn’t get anything going in the right direction today.

One problem after another.

Cranky baby.  Cranky mom.

Running here, running there.

Some groceries forgotten in the car. In the garage. In the heat.

Just worn out.

Ready to put this day to bed.

Then a little blonde-headed boy says “Mom, we haven’t prayed tonight, you know.”

Ok. Let’s pray. YOU pray.

“Thanks for all you’ve given us, all we have. Thank you for this day. Thank you for not letting my mom forget to sign me up for football because I love it.”

So simple. So sweet.
I giggled. He giggled.
Hugs, kisses, goodnights, and I love yous passed all around.
Makes me think today wasn’t so bad.
Made some fun memories in between the problems.
Spent the day together. 

Ate together.  Played together. Sang songs together.

Spent time outside on a beautiful day.
Watched them love on their baby brother.
Watched them play together with nothing but pinecones.
Little simple things that mean more than the problems of the day.

She said three words and I knew.

Three words that I have been whispering to myself with every problem, big or small, that has cropped up in the last year…reminding myself that I’m not going at this alone, that there is a PLAN already in place and everything is going according to that plan, HIS plan. 

Three words that have calmed my heart on so many occasions.

And so when a friend said them in a moment of {my} panic without knowing my connection to these exact words, my heart smiled because I knew it was straight from God. His way of telling me it’s all part of His plan and will be ok.

“God’s got this.”

Indeed. And THANKFULLY so.

Lately it seems things have been happening so fast and way out of my control.  Things that I didn’t expect and would have never seen coming.  Things that made me question myself and my ability/desire/call to serve others.

I have been beating myself up over these things that were never in my control in the first place.

Oh man. How FREEING that statement is! How humbling.

God’s got this. He always has. He always will.

 “Come to me,<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.<sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,<sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”> for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.<sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”>  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

<sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”>
<sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”>

 For I know the plans<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper<sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11<sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”>

Run for God

Have you heard of a training guide called Run for God?  I’m in love.  It’s similar to Couch to 5K but with a devotional.  A friend found it and asked if anyone in our homeschool group would be interested. I was the only to reply so it never came about.  However I emailed it to our Believe pastor at church. She’s over Life Groups and I was hoping this might make a good one. Sure enough, she agreed so we have a Run for God life group starting in a couple of weeks. I am super excited!

I’ve been struggling with my runs since having Joshua.  It seems my body is totally different than pre-pregnancy. I just couldn’t get anything going. So frustrated and down on myself about my FAILURE as a runner that only echoes after my failures as a wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, sinner….I really just wanted to give up. Give up, go home, and eat as much chocolate as I could stand…every day for the rest of my life. Sound like a plan?

I didn’t think so.  So one morning as I’m preparing to run (*with* my husband, which means we started out together, he quickly ran ahead, and outran me by miles…literally. He rocks and I totally don’t hold that against him.:), I decided this run would be different.  I wouldn’t run for my own needs or desires. I would run for God. Sound familiar? Hey, I’m not above stealing a catchy phrase. Ha! 

Yes, I was thinking of that running program and the significance of the title. Run for God. Why not? Run for His glory (not my own selfish desires), and praise His name every painful step of the way. Give it to him. Let him make or break me.

I still tear up just thinking about that run. I only wanted to run one continuous mile. That’s all. One lousy mile and I wasn’t going to do it for me anymore.  I said “here we go, God” and took off. Oh man, how I wanted to stop and walk a little. Just a couple of steps and then I’d run again, but every time I tried to stop, I would hear “no, not yet.” He was leading me and I determined not to stop until He said to. 

As I rounded the corner and could see the turn that would take me to the one mile marker, I knew it would take everything in me to make it. And it did. BUT I did it. We did it. In the middle of the road, with my fists in the air, that’s exactly what I yelled, “we did it!!! Thank you God.” He knew what I needed and He totally delivered…His way which happened to be the exact way I needed.

Obviously it wasn’t just about a run. It was more than that.  Obedience. Submission. Trust. Faith. Turning it over to the One who makes things happen. Giving up on what I want and only desiring what He wants for me.

It was a miracle mile for me, a turning point, and a wake up to what can happen when I let go and let God.  Every run since has been a Run for God. And every single time He has shown up. Every single run has gotten easier, farther, faster. And every single time I have the most amazing conversations with my God.

Tonight was no different.  It’s been a difficult week. Sickness, heartbreak, exhaustion, and confusion. I’ve wallowed in self-pity. Thought only of how this week affects me. Wondered “why me?”  He spoke to me so plain this afternoon and I knew that we needed a running date.  I needed to give this junk in my head and heart to Him so He can do what He does best….Forgive me and love me past my own selfishness. And tonight….we hit another goal. It was just as amazing as the first. I am just as thankful and humbled.

I love our running dates. My God and me. Hitting the pavement. One step at a time. And just when I think I can’t go one step further, He pushes me. Encourages me. Showers me with grace that I certainly don’t deserve. Clears my head and heart, and sets me on the right path.

I pray that, as we begin this Run for God program, other people will really, truly Run for God and experience the Amazing Grace that I have.  That every time their feet hit the pavement, they will give it all to Him so He can bless them as He has blessed me.  That they will open their hearts to the One who LOVES us so much. That at the end of their run, they feel that rush and, with their fists in the air, say “we did it!!! Thank you God.”

I don’t got this.

You know that phrase “I got this”?  I’ve used it a time or thousand.  Kind of a confidence booster to accomplish something and say “hey I got this…no problem!”  Or to come up on a problem and know I can handle it so “yeah I got this.”  I say it a lot.  I say “you got this” to my kiddos when they catch on to their math lessons or master a craft or work on their chores or any other time that seems appropriate.  I probably say it to myself a dozen times or so a day.  Like I said, I say it a lot.

So there was a time back in the spring when I knew something BIG and GREAT was going to happen.  I didn’t know what it was or how it would look….I had an idea of what I hoped it would be.  I had actually almost convinced myself that I knew what it was and even I was excited about it.  But in reality all I knew was that it involved our church and me….and God was totally leading me down this path.  I knew it so much that I cleared my schedule for it.  I cut back on the activities that I participated in because I knew I wouldn’t have the time.  I started delegating responsibilities to others instead of trying to do it all myself, and made myself a promise that I would NOT allow my outside-of-the-church commitments again grow to such a size that I couldn’t manage it all AND put in the time and energy needed for this thing that was about to happen.

I remember the day I sat down at my desk and thought “ok, I think I’m ready.”  I opened my email account and there sat the email.  As soon as I read it, I knew.  This is what I’ve been waiting for.  This is what God has been leading me to do.  The email was actually a *hey church, meet our new nursery and preschool directors!* kind of email.  There was only one sentence that stood out to me.  There would be, sometime in the future, a new children’s director for K-4.  I immediately sent an email back, asking about that position. 

And just like I knew it would, because I knew it wasn’t me driving this bus, everything fell into place.  I know it wasn’t me driving the bus because I had planned to go in a different direction.  I wanted SO BAD to go in a different direction.  I had convinced myself that this BIG THING was something totally different.  I was so ready to just get busy with it but when I realized it wasn’t the thing I had in mind and when I realized what the real thing was, it made perfect sense.

I LOVE children.  I adore children.  I have known pretty much all of my life that my life’s work is children.  As soon as I was old enough, I started babysitting.  I dreamed of having a ton of kids and working as a peds doctor.  Then my dreams moved to being a teacher and I wanted that so bad but I was pushed into a different direction.  Then as an adult I did the thing I loved….taught preschool.  Then I worked with children who lived in abusive situations.  Then I subbed at my child’s school while working on my teaching degree.  Then I felt the pull to homeschool…and fell in love.  I thought finally I had arrived!  I have found my purpose in life.  My own children.  All this time right under my own roof.  And then I started feeling this sense of *that’s not it*.  Don’t get me wrong…we were called to homeschool our children.  We know that with every fiber of our being. 

However, I knew there was something more.  My purpose wasn’t *just* my children.  God doesn’t give a person such a HUGE heart for kids and then only provide four.  As our pastor is talking (as he often does) about people sitting on miracles just letting this HUGE blessing pass them by because they are too afraid or don’t think God could possibly use them for a miracle or think maybe it’s meant for someone more *qualified*, I’m wondering if I’m sitting on a miracle and don’t know it.  My husband and I actually talked about it for a long time and I thought I had it figured out, but I was going in the wrong direction.

So here I am.  K-4 children’s director.  I got this, right?  This is my thing.  I know it’s sent by God.  I know this is where I’m suppose to be, what I’ve been called to do. 

I got this.

Well as things progressed over the summer, I started doubting myelf…and God.  Seriously.  He put me here and I’m not feeling it.  It just seemed like everything I tried to do, didn’t.  Everything I tried to change, wouldn’t.  There was so much stress and restlessness inside of me. 

I even hinted to my  husband that I didn’t even want to go to this church anymore. Nothing I did added up right.  Nothing came together the way I wanted it to.  I wanted to just pull away from our commitments and friends and go back to that easy place where I didn’t have this responsibility. 

I knew we couldn’t quit this church and for sure wouldn’t but something had to change.  I wanted this thing SO bad but it just would NOT work. 

Seriously all of July was pretty bad in my head concerning myself and this ministry.  *I’m not cut out for it.  I can’t do it.  I don’t have the time.  I don’t have the ability.  I was wrong.  I should not have shot so big.  I should have settled for a smaller role….or stuck to no role.  This isn’t me.*  Doubt consumed me.  Pride kept me from talking about it. 

I don’t got this….at all…in the least.

And that was really hard to admit to myself because I’m a bit of a control freak.  I had it so well planned in  my head but nothing was going in that direction.  It wasn’t working.  It was only causing stress and guilt and grief.

You know, it wasn’t even anything big that was causing all the stress and guilt and grief.  Just a bunch of tiny things that kept building and building until I just thought I had it all wrong.  I did have it all wrong…just not in the sense that I believed at the time.

So then.  I totally right now just giggled thinking about it. 

So then came last Sunday.  The first day our kinders moved upstairs with the rest of the crew.  These little guys had been waiting for this day all summer long.  This was their FIRST BIG day upstairs in the K-4 ministry. 

Because let me tell you, it is COOL to be upstairs.  We have a LOT going on that those kids LOVE.  Our church puts in the extra effort to not only make these kids want to come back but to teach them and equip them to love and share Jesus. This ministry is awesome and is most definitely changing lives.  I was the only dud, right? 

So not only were the kinders coming up, extra responsibilities were heaped on me and we were short-handed. 

Not only that but our church was flooded with new people this past Sunday.  Between the kinders and new families, we had a lot of new faces upstairs. 

Not only that but we had problem after problem.  Nothing big.  Just little *oh no’s* with quick fixes…but it seemed like there were a lot of them and I was the fixer.

I kind of just went “I don’t got this.  God, you gotta get this.”

And guess what.  He did. 

I was a sweaty, worn-out mess by the end of service.  But I was smiling…on the outside AND inside.  It worked!  It happened!  It didn’t go as I planned but it did go as *planned*.

And then. 🙂

We got home and I jumped into the curriculum editing that I had been putting off all month….because I didn’t have time, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to do it…blah, blah, blah. 

I jumped into it and said “you know what, I totally don’t got this either.  God, you gotta get it!”

In just a couple hours, it was done.  I didn’t have the problems I had before.  It came together the way it needed to.  It was DONE.

And then. 🙂

I went to church on Monday to prepare for next Sunday.  It was just a matter of putting things in the right boxes and getting those boxes in the rooms.  BUT there was also this looming issue that I had been putting off.  I needed to prepare the slides for our large group…on a Mac which I had never used before…with a program I knew nothing about.  I had played with it a couple times, but it never worked out that I actually have a chance to learn how to do it.  It was a big stressful lump in my throat that I had just been swallowing down again and again.

I realized this past Sunday that it wasn’t going to prepare itself and this definitely fell under my responsibilities.

So I said again “I don’t got this but I know who does.” 

I can happily say that the Mac and it’s indimidating program has been conquered.  The kids will have fabulous slides to go along with the bible story.  I even played around a little and made a memory verse slide from scratch. 

I floated out of the church on a cloud.  My whole day was bright and shiny because of that accomplishment.  And I’ve thought about it all week long.

Yeah, I finally saw this weekend that I can’t do this ministry on my own and that’s the point.  It isn’t about me.  Yes, I was called.  Yes, this is my thing. 

BUT what I failed to keep in mind is that I’m not the one who is actually doing this thing.  God is doing this thing THROUGH me.  He is doing His work THROUGH me.  He is reaching these children THROUGH me.

This morning I realized something else.  If I say “I got this” and do it on my own, it isn’t God’s work.  It’s mine.  And my work is imperfect and selfish and not at all what I was called to do.  I was not called to do this amazing thing and reach all these children.  I was called so God could do this amazing thing and reach all these children. 

It doesn’t mean I get to sit back and relax.  And it doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong again.  I am imperfect.  I will make mistakes.  There will be times in this ministry when I fail.  That is a guarantee.

But lessson learned!!  When I hear the voice that says “I got this”, I know this for sure this time around…..it isn’t me talking. 

Because I don’t got this and thank God.