Sunday, February 8, 2015

Free to love this!

I wrote a piece of work to share at a friends baby shower this week.  Writing is never an issue for me. Words flow easily for me.  But reading them out loud proves emotional.  These specific words were on being a mama...not a rare topic for me...but as i read them my sweet little Grace, who was sitting beside me, curled closer and closer to me and the tears flowed.  And then I felt the spirit reminding me that what I was saying was true and worth saying out loud.

A couple of weeks back I spent some time in Ohio with my sister and her family.  I have deemed that specific week in January to be auntie week.  My girl Paige being the main event, I have the pleasure of being her nanny for the week.  We don't do anything special with our day.  We laugh and love and play and nap and change diapers and have bath time and cry and sing.  I attempt to soak her into every pore as commuter auntie proves to be one of the hardest titles to hold.  The first night I was there I was able to help with her bedtime routine, my sister was giving me the rundown of the order of events when she sheepishly says to me, well we give her a bottle and rock her until she is almost and then we lay her down.  She followed with, I know she's one and we probably shouldn't but she likes and to be honest so do we.  

My heart broke in that moment for all mamas and my sister.  I know and continue to know those emotions so well.  There are so many shoulds and shouldn'ts out there that we loose sight of our freedom to love our babies however we are led to do so.  In doing so ensues a constant battle though to adopt our freedom in Jesus.  

As the week progressed I found myself reflecting on my own time as a mama of a one year old, as a mama of toddlers, babies and now.  And I realized although I shared some of the same emotions of those with younger ones around me, the causes and roots were much different.  I had my babies 12 years ago, and in that time there weren't blogs, facebook, instagram or french kids.  My benchmark was set by church ladies, the moms who "did it right", family, and the book What to Expect the First Year.  Sure some of that could be discouraging but most of the time it was fairly easy to push unwanted help to the side, absorb what was true and good and keep on truckin.

Now though Facebook alone is enough to make you question what you are doing.  So much mothering is thrown in your face and if it's someones perfect mothering, it's someones perfect complaints about mothering.  And now insert the blogs, in recent years there has been a mommy revolution of sorts.  One in which gives us the permission to say how much this job really stinks sometimes, to confess how much of struggle it can be, how tired we are all, how its okay to run from our littles in fear and lock ourselves in bathrooms.  Some of those things can be liberating I must agree, some of it provides for an unspoken camaraderie that can propel us forward. But maybe what I am noticing more of lately is the ability for that kind of platform to turn into a complaint center.  I read way more about moms who truly seem to hate this mom thing.  It is easier to rest in weariness than to search for joy.  I can make this claim because I know it first hand.

In that week in Ohio though I was reminded of the other option we are offered though.  One that rests in the spirit and is good and full of relief for our weary souls. Perhaps the most life changing piece of this truth is simple gospel that we all have access to wether you are a mama or not.  We are free to love simply because we ourselves our loved.  I am convinced that my role as mama is the most sanctifying role I have ever experienced.  It requires a great deal more of Jesus than I am even able to claim.  But without Him or the option of the sanctification it would seem a lot more like failure simply because any redemption of my own failure would be off of the table.  

There will days you feel like you are doing it all wrong, in fact you may in fact be doing it wrong.  There will be days that love is a far reach and your is more that of a lion tamer with a strong whip and a ravenous lion who hasn't been fed....ever.  Being a mama of a newborn is long and hard.  There is a lot of screaming and poop, lets be honest.  But what I can tell you in retrospect 12 years later is this, there will be a day when you realize you could have cared less about what french kids did, when you weaned your baby, if he or she had a binky, slept in your bed for the first year (or 10), whether you breastfed or bottle fed or if you had an epidural or not, or if you were trying to get your kid to poop on the potty just so they could go to preschool.  Those days are long but far shorter than you could ever imagine.  Being a mom is the single greatest thing that I could have ever hoped to do, I wish I could have had a dozen more.  My babies are nearly as tall as I am now, Neither of them need to be rocked to sleep or nursed to sleep.  

There have been times I have questioned my love for them.  In those early days I prayed that God would show me what it really looked like to truly love them and he covered that prayer and my longing with his grace.  Showing me in time that I did in fact love my littles.  Because every time I hold another baby it is very easy for me to draw from the love God gave me for the pair of them.  And my friends may be the most redeeming thing I have experienced as a mother.  Because I know my ability to love even my own children takes a great deal of Jesus every single day.  I wish this realization would have come to me a decade ago.  I would have spent far less time feeling shame and guilt and the need to make everything perfect for my kiddos all of the time.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grace Upon Grace

Its been an interesting couple of months around here. There has been much need for grace as we navigate a large area of new territory.  I started a new medication a couple of months ago that did nothing short of lay me out.  Some of the best days were the ones where I found myself in the bathtub twice in the span of twenty four hours, I never knew how thankful I would be for that green mass of cast iron.  But overtime it has gotten easier and my body seems to be responding to the treatment and I am getting over the need to have a body that is not broken.  

However the road in between then and now has been bumpy.  After a particularly hard day I confessed to Brian that I was not only feeling horrible physically but I was failing to see a point to all of this.  If I could not do the things that I felt I had been called to do, if I had to fail and struggle to get through my day, how was any of this worth it.  And as soon as the confession slipped past my lips the realization became quite clear that what I was rejecting was not in fact the illness or the weakness but the one person who was reaching out to pull me up and out of that self made bed of pity and self righteousness as I so badly wanted out.   Brian quickly blanketed me in what was truth, reminding me that my point here on this badly broken earth was not to be well in my own right, was not be able to serve and to do what I had declared as my own calling, but it is in fact that I hold on to the one thing that will forever remain to be an option, and that is that I would have the ability to be discipled and disciple others.  Not because of my own ability, not my own understanding, not my own strength or even my own weakness, but because someone came to save me from all of that crap!!!!  I have no need to be well.  Ton of bricks, those words hit me like a ton of bricks.

Two weeks back I had sent Grace to brush her teeth (on a saturday, how dare I;) she grumbled past me and went downstairs to declare to her brother that I was in fact a poopyhead....this is Graces ultimate naughty word:)  Of course being the "good" son that he is, he promptly came to repeat what he had heard.  Here is where you may be surprised, I really couldn't care less about my children respecting me out of my own need to be respected.  In fact their emotions are welcome.  I do not want there obedience to me to be zombie like or a simple reaction to the sound of my voice.  I do not need this.  But I do ache and long for them to know Jesus love for them and if he determines me to be a worthy vessel to show them love and mercy and grace that stems from only Him who gives it to me first  than so be it.  And that is where I pray that I will see there response to me rooted, in Jesus. Because lets face it, I am failing at this mom thing daily and so I can not expect that they wouldn't think I was a poopyhead every now and again.  But  we had to talk about said words, and she was able to say what her little heart was feeling.  But perhaps what happened next was where the meat and potatoes would lie.  She said, "Mom, I just keep praying that God would make me better, that he would help me to be good." and that friends was a dagger to my heart.  And the spirit immediately filled the space as these words came from my lips,"Oh dear one you are so loved.  Your prayer need not be that God would make you good but that you would realize everyday how incredibly loved and forgiven and accepted you are as you reach for Jesus.  That in him you will find an ability to take on His light and cast off your need to be good." This was not the conversation I had prepared in my head two minutes before she appeared from the basement. 

Folks my hope has rested for years in my ability to be good, to be better.  To be a good mom, a good wife, a good daughter, friend.  My own body had become an idol rather than a temple for Jesus to rest.  Striving for health rather than restoration in the one who heals.  And my daughters confession was truly the nail in the coffin for that way of living.  I love so much being a mama!  It is continually a wrestling match, a collision of my sin and that of my children.  But the God does not waste anything in my own mothering the spirit is repeatedly taking the reigns to navigate the brokeness and with that comes healing.

Very fortunately I know these simple interactions are only a piece of my healing.  I am a long way from completion and perhaps that is where our true hope lies.  That HE is not finished with us.

I had a dear friend remind me of this song a few weeks back. I wanted so badly to believe these words.  I wanted so badly to rest in the truth in which they speak of.  But sometimes that can't happen until other pieces of the puzzle are found are provided.  Gods timing is not only perfect but complete.

Dear ones you are so loved.  Rest in that and walk in love!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Table

As of late I have realized that our dining room table is showing the wear and tear of 10 years upon its surfaces.  There are dings and dents, bumps and bruises, the upholstery is ripping in spots and the edges of the chairs are bearing marks of being pushed into far.  Theres a chunk missing on the bottom of one of the leaves where Ruby got bored as a puppy and decided to give it a whirl as a chew toy.  

I would easily say we have had more than a thousand people sit at that table over the last decade. That table has heard laughter and tears, been subject to make an instrument with what you have at the table time, housed game boards and paperwork, not to mention the amount of meals it has sat under. We have had birthdays, taco nights, soup feeds, thanksgivings, friendsgivings, Christmas dinners and the like served around it. We have at times had upwards of 20 people stacked around it, many times in dining rooms much to small to the untrained eye.  It holds secrets and stories.  

And so when realizing that maybe it's time to replace or refurbish our table it has brought up much thought and reflection. I have asked myself many questions about why we have had so many people in our house over the years. I have wondered why I do not remember stress or anxiety in feeding mouthes or in some cases doing dishes for days?  Why what I remember most is the joyous and treasured time we have spent around it? I can remember specific tears and specific laughter.  I remember specific meals and menus.  Faces and family and babies and children.  I remember more than I remembered that I did at first.  And it brings so much thankfulness to my father in heaven for always giving us more than we have deserved.  For preparing us to be people who love and desire to share.

There have been questions from others too in the past about the amount of people we have in our home on a regular basis.  How do you afford the food alone?  Don't we get tired?  Don't we need to be alone?  The questions go on and on.

The answer to this is maybe more complicated than not.  I have shared before how we feel about our home in relation to others.  I have shared our vision for our home and the like.  I can tell you that we have been provided for over and over again to share even more each and every time I feel like it may be tight.  Sometimes we can afford to  have nachos and other times we can have prime rib, either way I know that it does not matter much what we are having though its more about the time spent and the memories created and shared.  Sure we get tired sometimes, never resentful though.  There have been nights that I catch myself putting on an evening pot of coffee while I pray for the spirit to be present in our home, reminding myself through prayer that I do not need to be the one to carry the evening, all I am doing is providing a place for others to receive.  As Jagers we have found that although alone time can be good and beneficial, we feel extremely and wholly called to a life of togetherness, a life of shared community.  We want our children to grow up with a noisy house full of people that we love knowing that they can be loved amongst what is sometimes organized chaos.  

There is something quite magical that can happen when you share a meal.  There is so much sharing that can go on when you are all able and sometimes forced to sit around a table and stare at one another.  There is so little time to do that these days.  And I believe that it becomes more sacred all the time. 

We have opportunity in our homes to share what we have so sweetly been given.  There are very lovely things that can happen when you invite others into to your home with Jesus in mind.  Two themes I pray over when people are in our home, receive and experience.  We invite people in so they can share and receive in what we have been given, not just in our things or our food but in our salvation too.  We invite people in so they can experience the great love we have been given and share out of response to our redemption.  That doesn't mean that things are ever perfect, in fact that isn't even the benchmark we are shooting for.  It means that it is real and often raw.  If you are at my table I am loving you the same as I love my little family, that means you are welcome to all I have to give. You are not a guest you are family!  There are no orphans here.  

The things that hold us back from sharing are often rooted in our belief that we are fatherless.  The belief that things need to be a certain way.  That are homes need to be spotless, that we need to be able to cook, that we need to have time to prepare, that we need to have more money, that we need a bigger house or space.  But I can tell you after many years of having my house full to the brim more times than not in many different financial situations, in small houses and in big ones, when housekeeping wasn't a strength and when it was more of a possible priority, that the spirit is not picky.  He need nothing more than what you have already been given to work with.  Waiting may provide you with the things you think you need but your heart will not change on its own.  You will need a savior for that job.  You will need a realization of all of the gifts you have been given and death to your own needs and wants and desires. Because when people come into your home they won't always be gracious or helpful, they will break things and make messes and you will have the opportunity to love them anyways.  And not because you yourself are naturally kind, or humble or gracious but because you have been loved and cared for by someone who made great sacrifice to do so.  And that is when the true blessing will be felt.

 I love our table, I love our home but more importantly I love the one who gave us all of it!
Happy Thanksgiving Friends!  I am thankful for each of you and pray that your home or the one you are invited to this year is full of the spirit.  That you can enter into it with less expectation and more gratefulness, less need and more to give, with a posture that is ready to receive and experience from the one who gave it all.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I walk in, I walk out

A few times a year I have an appointment.  And appointment to talk about my body.

Over the years I have learned that if I don't bring something to keep my eyes and ears and mind and fingers busy I will work myself into a tizzy while I wait.  I walk with purpose,  keep my eyes forward and I check myself in.  Name, birthdate, fill out the aches and pains questionnaire, answer questions such as-do you have trouble getting yourself dressed? Do you have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning? On a scale of one to ten how do you feel your diagnosis affects your daily life?- Pay my copay, Back to the waiting room, sit down.  Before I walk into the office I am a 32 year old woman, who lives life without much complaint, is thankful for all that she has, a woman grateful that she can cling to a savior instead of her own understanding. I don't identify myself with my diagnosis, I am in pain everyday period....there isn't a whole lot of thought put into the pain thing, its part of my life period.  When I walk into the office though I am faced with my reality, I am surrounded by folks usually at least 30 years my senior, white hair, canes, hobbling, all of the things I feel but do not say, do not speak because they are true for me too but I very much would rather pretend that they are not. I walk out of the office stifling tears, speaking disgust to myself and resenting the truth.  I deny love for myself in that area and by the time I reach the car I have convinced myself that in order to move forward I will just be stronger, work harder, stand taller. 

I am a shover by nature, things that hurt, things that are uncomfortable, things that make me feel weak or out of control are often shoved.  Shoved and hidden.  Some of this comes out of my past need to survive, some comes from my need to appear strong, some is because i hate being taken care of, and some or a lot of it comes from pride.  And the cause of these appointments is one of things I shove very well.  

There hasn't been a day in the last 9 years that I haven't been in pain.  My original diagnosis was Rheumatoid Arthritis.  The name or label didn't really matter to me because I wasn't going to rest in it.  I wasn't going to let myself simply just live with that "opinion" I was going to fight it.  Because if I acted as if the pain wasn't there, if I lived a life that was healthy and "good" than surely I could escape the reality.  I mean someone who exercises regularly, runs half marathons,  eats organic-locally sourced food, avoids packages and preservatives and fills up on leafy greens, couldn't possibly be affected by an auto-immune disease.  Right???? And so I ran, and I threw out a freezer worth of packaged foods and I learned to cook well and proper.  And the denial, it worked partially, inflammation is very effectively treated with diet and exercise and in the beginning those things provided a very great amount of relief.  But then I got injured a few times and my Dr. said no more long distance running, less than 7 miles.  And so I would run 6 miles instead of 10 and I continued to eat well and that carried on for some time.  Every time I went for my check up the Dr. would suggest remedy for my inflammation that was out of control and medications were discussed and treatment plans were laid out and I would listen do my duty in the imaging world and move forward.  Denial became comfortable and resting in my own understanding became easy.  I continually refused all treatment, stating that when it became a need and the side effects were outweighed by my condition we could explore it more fully.  I became my own hero. 

Than the past year happened.  My lower spine and hips began to hurt something furious, I couldn't sit or stand or lay down without pain.  And pushing through, pretending became more difficult. Sleep was non existent, I was feeling the pressure of my inability to accept myself.   I had reached a point of taking 600mg of Ibuprofen every 4 hours and that was just taking the edge off.  I had reached the point I had spoke of so many times and although I had told myself I would be ready and that I would take care of myself, the truth in that was hard to stomach and the pattern of fighting continued. The summer before last I was still traveling back and forth across the state to my previous rheumatologist. At my last appointment my Dr. said you have got to come to grips with your diagnosis, You have to take care of yourself, the exhaustion and fighting to accept what you think you want to be true has to stop. I came back to spokane and I made an appointment with a new Dr.  On my first visit he looked through my chart and looked at me and said you are a brand new patient today, we are going to start completely from scratch.  

Over the last months I have learned that i do not in fact have RA.  I have a genetic abnormality that causes issues in my lower spine and sacrum.  It is in fact very much part of me.  It is very much something that I can not change stop or get rid of.  There is no pretending, it is in my genes.   And I resent the hell out of that.   Most days I do not have a great outlook about it, most days I do not want people to know I struggle with chronic pain, most days I do not want to go to the Dr. regularly and further more I do not want to be part of any treatment plan that includes medication.  I've been so incredibly good at taking care of my body, I don't do drugs, drink to much or smoke, I eat properly and stay active, I'm not overweight or lazy. I've been good!   But the truth is I was created this way from the day I was born I had this abnormality.  And so no amount of my striving or justifying why I should not be experiencing this will provide me with a different outcome.

This past summer though that had to change.  I had a very real appointment with my Dr. after having a very real conversation with my husband.  Things are continually getting harder for me to hide, there are more days that getting out of bed hurts and hurts bad, if I sit for any amount of time I resemble that of one of those people in the Dr.'s office, I hobble and have to loosen up.  I've had to cancel plans on occasion to sit in the tub or just lay on the couch.  So the question has come up, Is it worth it. Is pretending that I've got this more important than treating my body with medication?  Were my choices actually doing me more harm?  What was going to win my pride or my need to care for my body?  So I walked into that office and asked my Dr. those hard questions and he replied, yes you are causing harm.  And so we formed a treatment plan I agreed to follow, I was prescribed a medication and agreed to take it.  And it hasn't been easy, and I still catch myself fighting it.  I still catch myself trying to claim a different reality.

I have a friend, the farmer, she has been telling me for years that the tree of life is not self-pruning.  I have rejected her statement, knowing full well its true but not wanting it to be true for me. Hoping that I would be the exception not the rule.  My prayer though lately would be that I would accept that truth that I preach in every other area of my life in this area too.  I don't get to be in charge of my weakness, I can not combat it on my own, my sin is not solved on its own, and I can't simply ignore it and be a good girl as I walk away.  Nope....I have many options thats true.  There is one though that is actually going to provide relief.  I can lay this resentment, this weakness at the foot of the cross and I can take my eyes off it and look up in order to see the face of a creator who loves me and accepts me wholly and completely.  I can move forward boldly knowing that it is part of me of me but it doesn't define me any more than the red hair upon my head.  That someone died for me specifically so I would not have to be self absorbed in worry and resentment.  

And so the cats out of the bag.  I am in pain daily.  My body hurts and I often feel weak.  I am currently waiting to get prescriptions for a weekly series of shots that will combat that pain, inflammation and weakness.  And my dealing with it signifies a love for a creator that made me with a plan and a purpose.  He is strong so that I am able to be weak.  And when my resentment takes over I can remind myself that I am free from a need to prove my worthiness for good things.  I will never be worthy on my own right.  Jesus died so that I would know that I am so very loved and accepted for who I am, And out of that I can love and accept myself for who I am.  

I walk forward as I do when I was pretending there was nothing wrong a 32 year old woman, who lives life without much complaint, is thankful for all that she has, a woman grateful that she can cling to a savior instead of her own understanding. A woman who can be bold and transparent.  And admit that sometimes stuff is tough and acceptance for myself is a struggle but I am not alone.  I am free from striving, free from proving, free from earning.  Loved, broken and completely renewed.

Walk in love friends- You too have been set free from your earthly woes.  You have a way out that is so far beyond your own understanding.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hey Weird Kid,I See You.

You are worth it.   Those 4 words would make a difference in most kids life.  They would have made a difference in mine.  They make a difference for my kids.  And they are very much Gods heart for each of us.  "Hey weird kid, I see you and you were worth the sacrifice."

I was a weird kid.  I was a weird kid that never fit in.  That was separated by my life experience at a very young age.  Wounded and broken.  Serious and intense.  Wise beyond my years. Those were the polite words that people would use to describe me or my situation as a child. And for most of my life I believed that it was just me.  That my experience was what set me apart. I tried hiding from myself, hiding my story, "acting normal", keeping silent, being invisible.  What I realize now is that people use those words for things they do not understand.  They make up phrases to cover their misunderstanding, their judgement, their own guilt for how they really feel.  I was not set apart in this.  I was not a victim of my life experience, I was not a victim at all.  In fact there was nothing that happened to me that was not seen by my Father in heaven.   

In most of life we are only as different as we allow ourselves to be.  Because we are unaware of what connects us all in the first place.  We are unaware that we were created on purpose, that God determined us worthy when we were merely only a thought in his mind, before were even born.

Being weird though in the worlds eyes or being seen differently has the ability to wreck you.  It can easily typecast you.  It can easily stunt you if you believe in the category.  It can easily become truth in your heart.

My son Elliot has been viewed as the above.  Much if not all of his life.  He has dealt with bullying, judgement, being left out, and the like on more than one occasion.  By kids, by teachers, by other parents, by strangers. Subsequently I have seen him deal with this in a number of ways.  I have seen him cry, lash out, act in the way those expect simply to prove them right, remove himself from fun and I've watched him become as others describe...wise beyond his years.  I have heard him describe himself in ungodly ways, I have heard him repeat the description others have placed on him, I have heard him tell me that his life is not worth living.  He is 11.  But the good is equally real and over the last year I have seen beauty come from ashes. He is sensitive to the needs of others, willing to help the underdog, loving and kind beyond measure, and accepting of just about anyone.  He is smart and wise, tender and good. 

This isn't my rebuttal to the world or my declaration of my son as a victim.  It may be my declaration that we miss out.  That when we judge some as different often times it becomes bad overnight.  We often times categorize these people as not worth the time, not worth the effort, exhausting, and unworthy.  And my favorite weird! 

I could give you the argument of weird people make the world go 'round.  I could name countless "famous" folks that were considered weird or outcast.  I could tell you that we are missing out by typecasting the fortunate who are bold enough to be who God created them to be, but I assure most "weird" people would rather just fit in.   Because thats what society says we should do.

But mostly I want to tell you that God has purpose in each of us, you were made on purpose.  And God sees your tears, he sees you when you are left out, he sees you when you are judged.  He wants you to know that you belong, that you are wanted, and that you were worth the sacrifice of His son on the cross. 

I went to my sons conference last night.  We just finished a couple of years of tumultuous experience of schooling.  Home was fine the public sector was less than.  I became shell shocked by the amount of complaints I heard about my son each week at school.  It was hard.  It was real.  He did not fit in. Some of it was on him, some of it was on others.  Some of it was on me.  So this year when we decided to put Elliot back in the school system I was more than worried.  I was petrified.  Brian and I had prayed and pondered and prayed some more and felt led to send him and so we did.  I have prayed until I have had no words left to pray each and every morning, that he would be loved, that he would be accepted, that he would be heard and seen and known. And God has softened my heart to realize that Elliot was already loved, accepted, heard, seen and known and he is worthy.  Praise be to God.  When I walked into that school last night I went expecting the worst - its a theme for me-  and what I heard humbled and blessed my heart.  There weren't any complaints, in fact the words were....Elliot is a perfect addition to our class, he is helpful and kind, the first one to offer a hand. And my son beamed.  I remembered and reminded myself that God is good in the good and the bad. He was good through the complaints and he was good when we received praise.  

The difference of me expecting the worst last night compared to times in the past was I did not need those words from Elliot's teachers to validate how I felt about my son. He did not need them to define his worth.  God had taken care of my heart through the hard times. And had we not gone through the amount of judgement and hardship we have gone through over the years I am not sure that moment would have rung as sweet. Because without the hardship I rest assured that there would have been far less talk of Jesus in our house, the credit would have been easier to accept as our own. There would have been far less vulnerability and tears in my home, which would have left less room for God to dig in deep.  And the healing...oh the healing.  There has been much.  And what I am left with is an immense faith in the one who truly heals.  The one who determined our worth so long ago. 

God created us all weird, because we were all created incredibly different on purpose, but in that we can find that we have far more in common. We have the same creator who looks at us and says you are beautiful, you are loved, you were created for good, on purpose, I see you, and you are worthy. And that folks is our identity, those are the words we get to walk around with, that not only describe us but save us from the judgement of this world.  

Walk in love friends-

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On Love and the Crazy that comes with it.

The longer that I am married the more I realize that the times I feel most loved, the times when I feel like my husband is most for me are very rarely found in grand gestures or perfectly planned out romantic evenings....although I love those things too.  Real life does not leave much time for those sorts of things to take place regularly. I find the most love and the most acceptance in Brian knowing me and loving me anyway.

We are all quite unlovable on our own right, aren't we? We are most often selfish and self-seeking, it is easier to take care of ourselves than to allow our hearts to be loved by another because there is risk involved there.  I mean what if we are let down, hurt, mistreated, not thought of....what if?  I have lived a lot of time in the what if.  It has at times made me a hard person at best.  An untrusting, self protected, crippled woman.  Much of that baggage and response was created from relationships with others too not my relationship with my husband.  My natural tendency to self protect and hide has caused a lot of damage to that man and in the end to myself. But we are learning. 

I am finding the more I allow myself to be loved by Jesus the more I can allow Brian to love me. And the more Jesus can be found in the center of our marriage as well.  The more Jesus is in the center of our marriage the more I can more fully love my husband.  It all seems so simple.  The truth is  the last couple of years have been anything but.  There have been a lot of torn scars and scraped out hearts.  Confession and honest humbleness has been granted and given and that has been hard. Pride has had to melt and I have had to come to grips with how awfully sinful I really am on more than one occasion.

This morning I woke up to the sound of water, this is very rarely a good thing.  Brian had left extremely early for Boise and I was alone.  And now I had a roof leak, awesome.  But then I smelled the most pleasing aroma and that roof leak turned into the smell of coffee coming from down the hallway.  My first response was fear, my second feeling was love.  It was a simple gesture anyone could set the self timer to make sure that they have coffee in the morning.  But my husband took an opportunity this morning to make me a pot of coffee because he knew it would bless me.  Not to earn anything because he will be gone just simply to bless me.  To most this may seem mundane maybe but to me it made me feel like the most loved woman on the planet.

You see the Jagers are entering into their 13th retail holiday season.  I know that not everyone can relate to this but I think the holiday season alone and all that comes with it can be a common thread in what I will share here.  The holiday season for us does not bring a ton of parties and joy and all of that what it does bring are countless hours of work, unrealistic sales goals, crazy schedules and not a lot of family time. In most ways we are used to it, we know what to expect, but can't say it is very comfortable.  And I can not most honestly say I do not handle it with a lot of any grace.

About 6 weeks ago I started feeling the affects of PTSD.  I felt myself beginning to self protect, to prepare my heart to not feel in order to push through. But I could feel the spirit prompting me to pray, to ask for something different and as I did, my heart began to soften. And the prayers that came out were not for my survival but for my husbands.  I began to pray that he would not feel the incessant tugging that comes from both sides of his life.  Work and family. That he would feel love and acceptance, that he would rest in the truth that he has been given, that he would not feel the need to strive but that he would feel the peace that comes from his salvation in Jesus.  I prayed that the spirit would remind me of my own freedoms when I would feel the need to nag and complain or pressure.

The blessings that have been poured on us and through us in the last six weeks have been immense. My tendency to first love and accept, to forgive as God forgives, to not hold grudges or base my actions off of past experience has been freeing to both of us.  As I allow the grace of God to fill in my wounds and holes and cracks and crevices the grace is more freely given to those around me. Because its not about me anymore or what I need, its about Jesus and what I have been given.  And it feels incredible to even be able to say those words but even more to mean them.  When wrapped in the spirit I have need for nothing more.

And so even though a pot of coffee would seem like something so small.  To me it was an incredibly sweet act of love as I know that making a pot of coffee for someone else at 4:30 am is not an easy thing.  I know that for my husband when he gets out of bed he is for all intensive purposes already at work.  It was two seconds he took to bless me before he entered into the other half of his life, his work.  Because it wasn't about him in that moment.

This posture is so much more valuable to me than a ten step process to be a better wife.  Truth is I pretty much stink at it on my own.  And if there was a ten step list I would only feel more failure as I am positive I would fail all ten steps at one time or another.  Without Jesus my love for Brian is easily all about me and what I receive, with Jesus my love for Brian is all about Jesus love for Brian and what has been done for him on the cross.

I am sure to many of you this seems simple.  I pray that you would know that if you too struggle with these things that you are not bound by your failure to love.  You are freely forgiven and not expected to get your poop in a group.  You are free to love others because you are incredibly loved and sought after.  God never once has turned his back on you.  You can love your spouse out of this very place and it will not be easy but it will be good and full.

The disclaimer here is that I am by no means an expert on any of this.  It is a daily struggle to claim this truth.  But I am thankful and humbled by the forgiveness I receive daily as I struggle to accept the love I am given to move forward. And for a husband that loves me in light of it all.  We are not perfect and I am so very glad!

Walk in love friends you are loved enough that someone died for you, not for the perfect put together you.  But the severely broken and sinful you.  You were loved in your very darkest state to be loved into the brightest light imaginable.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On our own.

When we went into our home buying process here in Spokane we went into it with all sorts of desires and hopes and false senses of pride.  One of which was that we were so happy to be able to do this on our own.  We are in a place financially that we are able to make these sorts of commitments, we had money stored away, we had wits about us to make wise decisions, you know we had it all figured out ;) And per the usual as soon as we decided to depend on our own understanding we started to drown.  And then we remembered to pray.  Confessing such things is quite humbling, I am free from shame but quick to remind myself that there is not any amount of time that I can be free form the arms of Jesus.  

The first thing that happened was that our timing wasn't working in our favor.  We had no place to live.  We had come to the understanding that I would move home with our parents and the kids and Brian would couch surf in Spokane.  This was unnerving, it didn't feel right for us to live separately, in fact it felt to the core wrong.  But what were we to do?  I am a fairly open person and do not hide from sharing our story, but I am not a very vulnerable....asking for help has not ever and does not still come easily to me.  And so asking anyone here in Spokane for a place to stay seemed like a major inconvenience.  And like I said before we had it all figured out.  We were able to do this on our own, so to be perfectly honest asking for help was far from our minds.  

But God knew better.  

One morning before our gathering service on a Sunday my friend looked up from his place of prayer and point blank asked me what was on my mind.  That was rough.  I couldn't hide, I couldn't change the subject and it was so far out of my control that the words - we don't have a place to live - fell from my lips.  What came next was harder.  What came next was a gift I couldn't escape.  My friend Scott replied - you can live with us - .  Now I must tell you my friend Scott has a wife and 3 small boys, they already had another couple living with them, they already had another family on the back burner waiting for the aforementioned couple to move out and on top of it all we weren't even friends at this point.  And what I began to learn then about this family (the Cooleys) and what I know to be very true  now is they have big hearts, they have much faith, they are broken, lovely, and humble people.  And that rolled over me that morning.  And we said okay.  We were supposed to live there for two weeks, instead we ended up living there for six.  We lived upstairs, we lived in the basement and then we moved upstairs again, to make room for others.  People would ask sarcastically - how's that going? - can I stop here and ask why we do this?  Why do we ask people questions hoping to hear negative, hoping to get dirt, instead of simply loving and encouraging?  My reply was always the same - this is great, we love the Cooleys, it couldn't possibly be better - .  And let me tell you why. In those 6 weeks God made room for us to cut off the rest of our lives, to live with another family and not only share meals but share life.  We had nothing but our beds and our clothes with us and we literally made ourselves at home. Through our experience we learned to pray together, laugh together, spur each other on, speak truth to one another, and love one anothers children. And to be perfectly honest some of the most broken places of my heart were healed in that place.  I will forever hold those 6 weeks in a special place in my memory to draw truth to support my purpose here.  My purpose being to live in the light of God's glory, proclaiming the good news not only for the benefit of myself but for others, humbly praying that the one hope we have will be apparent and true and evident in our lives not just in our own goodness, but also in our failing that others may see us cling to Jesus for forgiveness and strength to move on.  Our time at the Cooleys was very much that.  
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The second thing that happened was financial. Over the weeks the bank changed the amount of money they would need to close our loan four times.  Each time the number grew and it became evident that once again our savings would be gone.  It was very clear that we couldn't do this whole new house thing on our own.  Most people have reacted with the idea that that would be a sign to not move forward.  I am not sure that it is my place to decipher the will of God.  I can tell you his presence had been so very palpable through this whole process.  We saw him provided over and over again.  He had already begun growing our heart for our new neighborhood.  But in the end there wasn't anymore magic money showing up, the tree had been picked clean by the time we got there ;) And to make matters worse or maybe better in the end we found that we couldn't go back to where we started, we were at a point that if we gave up on the loan we would lose all of the money we put in and not that it matters because money is money but it was quite a sizable amount.  And so once again I believe we were shown that we wouldn't be doing this on our own.  I don't know when we will be too old to ask for help in fact I am not sure that we are supposed to ever be too old to ask for help.  What we needed was a very short term loan for a very specific amount of money.  And so we prayed heartily that our pride would be melted and we sent out an SOS. I can tell you that in the end we were leant what we needed and very shortly there after the money appeared in some pretty unexpected ways and we were able to pay the money back.  But the true gift wasn't in the leant money it was in the knowledge and the ability to ask for help.  We knew that it was safe and if the answer was no it didn't mean anything.  In family we have the freedom and the safety to ask.  In family we have been taught that we can freely give, we can freely share, and freely love each other with all that we have. And we felt this in a very real way.

And so the story of our little house is a big one, one that delivers much glory to our father in heaven. A story that is full of repentance, redemption, giving, gratitude and love.  What a wonderful story to start a new chapter with.  We are called to live in community.  God calls us to use all of the gifts each of us have been given to build one another up, to help grow his body of believers, to love one another to point each other to him.  And the only way this can happen is if we accept the love that he has given each of us to be able to further love one another freely without expectation.  There is no place in the word that it says we should be able to do this life on our own.  
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