Embrace Change

Well, I think it’s officially fall in Missouri! One day it was over 70 degrees, then a cold front came through, and now it’s 40. The cool crisp temperatures have been anticipated, but when they finally arrived it shocked us all.

This morning my kids wanted to go outside after breakfast. One of my children came to the door in shorts and a T-shirt. “Honey, you need pants to go outside. It’s a little chilly out there.”

She reluctantly went to change. Seconds later, the older children were asking for hats and gloves. Within a few minutes, my child who was dressed for summer suddenly looked as if it had snowed outside. She was bundled in her winter coat, hat, gloves, and a scarf. Though I thought it may be overkill, I let them go outside dressed for the snow.

While I know my child still needs to learn the appropriate clothing to wear for the weather, I realize that change, even when expected, takes some time to adjust.

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Now I will admit, I have struggled with change. Especially when it came to my Walk with Christ.

I grew up in a very traditional church. I held onto those traditions, without fully understanding the reasons behind those traditions. They were habits, not time set aside to grow closer to God.

Attending a different type of church felt all kinds of wrong. I was used to a certain order. I was used to certain songs. I knew exactly what to say and do and when to do it. It was comfortable.

However, these new churches we were attending, were not. First off, they gave us coffee when we entered and offered a time to talk to each other before service started. I was used to just blending in, coming and going without having to talk to a bunch of people.

They usually started service off with a band or a group of people jamming out and worshiping Jesus. I was used to traditional songs at set times throughout the service.

Then the pastor would give a sermon. These sermons were usually very good, biblical, and practical. However, it didn’t feel like Church. It felt like Bible study.

Finally, there would be some sort of closing, usually with a song. That was exactly what I was used to.  However, sometimes we would have communion in the middle of service, sometimes we wouldn’t. Sometimes they would take tithes and offering at the beginning, sometimes at the end.  Sometimes there would be a Baptism in the middle of service. Sometimes they would ask us to get up and find a group of people to pray with. It was unpredictable.

In my old church I knew what to expect. I knew what to do. Yes, maybe most of the time I was just going through the motions, but I didn’t have to experience that unknown. Nine times out of ten I couldn’t even tell you what songs we sang or what the message was about, but I was there.

I struggled with the change at first. See all my family and friends still attended the traditional Churches. I felt like I was doing something wrong. In fact, for almost a year I didn’t tell any of those people that we were no longer attending that type of service.

As I started seeing a growth in my walk and understanding what it meant to Walk with Christ, I slowly let my guard down. I began to share that we were now attending a non-denominational Church. I began to share the changes that were happening in my life. Surprisingly, no one really cared that I no longer attended the traditional Church.  They only cared that I was going to Church.

I slowly began to recognize the Holy Spirit and His prompting in my life. I became more and more open with my faith and much more willing to share my faith.  Though I knew a change was needed and anticipated that change, it was still uncomfortable. It still took me some time to adjust and share. But as I look back, each change, no matter how long it took me to adjust, has completely impacted my Walk with Christ.

Please know, I am in no way telling you to stop going to a traditional church. Each person is on their own spiritual journey. For some people, they can grow closer to God through traditions. My stumbling block was not the Church or the traditions, but the way I approached Church. I had the problem of just going through the motions that needed a radical change. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and trust God to lead me.

Something I have learned is that God does not call us to be comfortable. I have heard many people say that they believe God wants us to be happy (implying that we should just overlook our sin that makes us happy). But that’s not really true. God doesn’t call us to be happy, but He calls us to be holy. The process of becoming holy, being like Christ, is a life-long journey full of uncomfortable moments and changes.

By embracing a radical change, I found myself experiencing God in a way I never knew was possible. Each day I am growing in relationship with Him, learning more of what it means to be His child, and striving share this with others.

Change may not feel good in the moment, even if you are anticipating it.  But God is faithful.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

Time for Fireflies

It was the first week of summer. The boys were attending a day camp at church.  I thought it was a good idea, since being down 2 kids, to schedule a bunch of errands and doctor’s appointments for the week. So, my girls and I had a busy week of running which included taking the boys to camp, doing our errands, and picking them up.  (Honestly this wasn’t the best idea…)

Anyways- One evening that week, my husband asked if the kids and I would like to go pick up our camper out in the country. So, I agreed. On the drive out there, several of our kids feel asleep. But once we stopped, they were all wide-awake.

Out of the van all the kids went. Then the first kid sees it- a firefly! The second kid sees it- a lightning bug. (We live in the mid-west… firefly and lightning bug are used interchangeably.) All five kids spent almost an hour chasing and catching lightning bugs/fireflies.

It was fun to watch while I pretended like I was helping my husband.

When we got home the kids went straight to bed.

The next morning, we got going perfectly fine. Though we got home late the night before, we were off without any issues. On the drive to camp, my boys said, “Mom you forgot to ask us what our best part of the day was yesterday.” (When I tuck them in at night I ask them if they had a good day and what their best part was.)

“Ok honey, what was your best part?” I asked assuming it would be something from camp- the rock wall, zipline, games, something…

“The fireflies!” he exclaimed.

“Yes, catching the fireflies,” my other son agreed.

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All these activities… With all the fun things they did that day, their favorite thing was the unplanned time catching fireflies. That really put things in perspective for me.

Don’t get me wrong, they had a blast at camp! They enjoy the planned activities, but this moment was quite humbling. All these things I feel like I have to do for my kids but is it really necessary?

We can plan our kids entire summer. We can have activities planned for every day of the week and weekends. But it really is the simple things that matter. Let the kids just be kids.

Seriously, I struggle with this. Growing up my life was constantly on the go. This sport, that sport, this activity, that activity, go to this friend’s house, now over here… If I was eligible for an activity, I participated. Honestly, it was go-go-go-go. And once we got home, it was go-eat, go- do homework, go- watch TV, go, go, go… I didn’t stop until my head hit the pillow.

So, the very first time I had the opportunity to sign my child up for an “age” appropriate activity, I was all over it. My husband, on the other hand, was like why? Does he want to do it? Is he really going to benefit from it? Why don’t we wait until he expresses interest in the activity?

I reluctantly agreed. But the urge to busy my schedule with activities for the kids did not just go away. And as we started homeschooling, I felt this extreme pressure do everything… I mean I have to socialize my kids… right?!? I even tried many of the non-age appropriate activities.

I quickly realize I wasn’t doing this for my kids. I was doing it for me. I was keeping myself busy and using them as the excuse.

Letting go of the “on-the-go” was a huge step in my faith walk. Learning to manage the schedule and keep the peaceful life-style is not easy. I honestly have to do a lot more thinking, evaluating, and communicating than I ever thought would be needed. But it’s worth it.

Here’s what I have learned: Communication is a 2-way street. If I am constantly talking or busying my schedule, it is much more difficult to hear from God. The first time I recognized God speaking to my heart I heard, “Be still.” This is a message I heard continually for almost 2 years straight.

God, I’m not sure what to do? Be still. God, I am mad right now. Be still. God, I feel like I need to act right now.  Be still.

As I have allowed myself to be stilled, I have found so many benefits. I’ve been gently shown that there are some things that are more important than a full schedule- Time. Family time. Quality time. Time to relax. Time to enjoy nature. Time to draw and color. Time to be yourself. Most importantly, Time with God. Uninterrupted time that I spend with God, with no agenda other than to be in His presence. Sometimes the kids do not need a schedule, they need time.

In letting go of a full schedule, I was able to open my heart to quiet. Something I was very uncomfortable and unfamiliar with. But it’s in these quiet moments- it’s in these unrushed times I seem to experience the fullness of God’s beauty and creation. It’s in these times that I can say I experience His peace.

Have you ever been in prayer over something and felt like God wasn’t listening? Have you ever just needed His reassurance in that moment and questioned if He was really there? I have been there too. Remember that often times we go before God and do all the talking, but we have not been still and quiet at all, let alone long enough to be able to hear a response or feel His presence. Like I said before, communication goes both ways. If you are not hearing from God, maybe it’s because your talking to much. Try to be still and look for God everywhere you are, you will likely begin to notice Him all around in your life.

Give yourself the time to experience the fullness of life. Give yourself unplanned, unrushed moments. Quiet down. Listen to God. Experience His creation. Rest in His presence. Recognize His blessings upon you.

Read. Play. Relax. Enjoy our family. Say no to the busy and yes to meaningful.

Make plans, enjoy your life. But don’t let your plans run you.

GO ENJOY THE FIREFLIES!