Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our identity layers, and Who is at our very core

My Identity

When asked who I am when first meeting someone, there are a few go-to answers you would hear from me.  "I'm a stay at home, homeschooling mom of 4 boys" Is my typical ice breaker answer.  I stay home. I teach. I have 4 boys.  Your answer would likely be different from mine-  (Shout out to any other sahms, who homeschool 4 boys- message me... girl we are soul sisters)  lol. Maybe you work and you'd tell me about your career. Maybe you are a student and I'd hear about your education you're pursuing. Maybe you're a grandmother and you'd show me pictures of your grands. You might share something you're passionate about- art, animals, fitness.  If you are trusting and I'm making you feel especially invited, after introductions you might share a challenge you're facing, a fear or even an especially hard circumstance you're going through.  We share these different layers, to different people, at different times. Our roles. Our responsibilities, commitments, schedules. Hopefully we share struggles and prayer requests, ways we're being convicted, and growing as well.  It's this layer of vulnerability that I'm really passionate about this year.  As a New Year unfolded, I made it my intentional focus to find joy in the daily- the mundane real-life.  And to be transparent about ways I need prayer- ways I'm struggling to grow in my faith. Things God has really broken my heart over, and areas I'm experiencing HIS victory in.  

Identity is very layered, and each layer is unique for each person you cross paths with. We might share a layer of motherhood, but differ in # of kiddos, ages, gender. We might both be married, but differ in hobbies or passions.  We might both have a love for camping, or hiking. However, at our very very very core, as Women of Christ, we get to the deepest sense of "who we are". We are Redeemed. Daughters of The Most High King. We have been ransomed at the ultimate price and given a free gift that would have never been earned, bought or awarded. An undeserved gift of eternal life... forgiveness of sins.  This is what (WHO) truly defines me, and starts effecting all other layers of my identity.  I shouldn't try to find fulfillment in other roles, or responsibilities, but this is a constant internal war. In all honesty, one that I often times lose.  If I'm basing my identity on my kids, they become an idol to me... With good intentions of taking this mom gig seriously, I unintentionally bump their status up a bit too high and pretty soon my whole existence is orbiting around them. Life is good if they are "behaving", if they are obeying or happy. I'm learning that this is a sin struggle for me. My fulfillment comes from a relationship with Christ.  My identity isn't a wife, or a mom, although both are very important relationships that have shaped me and been life changing. My CORE identity and what needs to remain as FIRST place in my life is Jesus Himself. He brings fulfillment to my other roles, to the gifts He has given to me. He pours strength into my weaknesses, courage to keep going through a trial and His faithfulness in my life won't alter or shift. His GRACE is deeper than I can even grasp, and when He convicts me and then follows my repentance with such covering, cleansing grace!  So let me formally introduce myself,  

      "I am Stef, a saved sinner, Daughter of the King"

My prayer for you is that if you are born again, you will truly seek to find your identity in Jesus.  If you don't know what all of this means, or these are some new concepts for you- my prayer is that you will seek and find. The book of John is an excellent starting place, reading the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Himself... meeting Who He is and how it effects you and your eternity.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

a bad day isn't the same as a bad life

guys, this week Tuesday and honestly part of Wednesday were those days where your nerves are fried. Where instead of feeling like you're making any progress in things like laundry, cleaning, parenting, or honestly even feeding your family, you are moving backwards at warp speed.  How can it be possible to move backwards in feeding people?!  We finish a meal no one likes and they ask for snacks-  for real. The kitchen is still a war zone from cooking and they are asking for snacks?  I can't handle this nonsense and it started to really really get to me.  

For those that don't know I'm a homeschooling stay at home mom with 4 boys.  we have a 5th, 3rd, 1st and a 3 year old who is into tantrums and screaming.  Also he likes to find markers and use his hands like paper. I'm doing my absolute best raising this crew- but somedays, like this week, it's just a LOT overwhelming.  Add to that (confession) a certain celebrity giraffe kept me up too late one night, (anyone else feel like this is the longest pregnancy ever- like even longer than my own 4?!) and my coffee wasn't quite making me bright eyed. 

The kids were bickering
I was grumpy
School was both hard to teach and hard for them to learn
the house was a mess
I was on edge
the giraffe was still expecting. (this feels good to admit) lol

It was the perfect recipe for me to give myself the big old green light to feel sorry for myself.  Like full blown pity party style. For me, once that green light is given, chocolate is consumed, dishes sit unwashed, and the woe is me mentality takes root.  I am not proud of this.  This isn't a brag post, this is me being real.  Why does having a bad day make me feel like my whole life is a mess?  I think Satan is such a pro at that... I think there is a spiritual battle waging with such intensity that we don't even recognize. and sometimes giving myself the "green light" is really just as excuse to sin... and I need to recognize that too.  

His lies to me:  
   kids are fighting = I am failing at being a mom
   the house is messy = I can't juggle all of this like other people can
   a giraffe hasn't had a baby on facebook live = it EFFECTS me
   A tantrum = I can't handle this anymore

Once lies are recognized, they can start being replaced with truth... and truth is freeing!  So kids are fighting, I need to deal.  They can go outside and get out some of this energy in a healthy way. they can do chores, they can lose a privilege, they can be assigned to help clean up this mess around here. I need to be ready with a plan.  Then I need to follow thru.  If they still fight, there can be things like early bedtime... and sometimes that's exactly what we all need. 

The house is a mess- I can clean!  and it'll still get messy again. Seriously, this one is just something I need to come to some kind of reality check with.  Our house is in use 24/7.  Because 5 people are HOME living, schooling, eating, projecting, playing, watching giraffes all day everyday it's an ongoing thing to pick-up, sweep-up, laundry-up.  It's just the season we're in.  I need to set my mind on other things and not get depressed with the constant state of mess. 

a giraffe.  ok, this one is hard.  Come on April!!!  You have the whole world on edge!!!

a 3 year olds' tantrum.  Again, I need to have a plan... and it still won't always follow the script... because life is like that.  life is as messy as a 3 year old with markers.

Bottom line, bad days don't equal a bad life. They don't make me a bad mom. I need to step back, get a big picture focus again and remember that God is working on each of these hearts... mine included!

This verse soothes my soul at least as much as chocolate does, Hope you find some hope in it too

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Time Tithe

Recently I've been thinking about time.  There are so many sayings that come to mind that each paint a different word picture. 

  • Waste of time. 
  • Time flies. 
  • Burn some time. 
  • It's about time. 

The category I've been thinking about is investing time. What holds enough value to exchange hours of my life for? If you ask me what my values are, my spoken list would include: God, prayer and service. But if examined, would my days show proof of these things? Being transparent and open, honestly not as much as I'd like. It's been humbling and convicting to see how much nonsupporting evidence there is that I'm living these values out in real-time, that when examining my day there is a very real lack sometimes. I found this saying written in the inside back cover of my Bible: and it tugged at my heart in a new way.

Am I giving time to study the Word?  Sometimes yes and sometimes flat out no.  I want this to change.

Am I investing time praying for things? 

Am I serving where God has asked me to serve? Or am I grudgingly doing my "jobs" 


verb (used with object)tithed, tithing.

to give or pay a tithe or tenth

We tithe money, and I believe this to be a very important Biblicaly supported practice. But what about time? What about service? I want to dig into the idea of a tithe of my time, investing more in prayer, and service from the heart, not from duty, or obligation. I'm looking forward to seeing what God will reveal to me, and ways I will experience spiritual growth as I take a step further... Maybe giving deeper, praying more earnestly, serving more intentionally. My focus narrowing in and centered on things that hold eternal value. Feel led to join me? I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

A time tithe of my waking hours.