Remaining

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“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ” John 15: 1-4

“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15: 5-8

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.

Now remain in my love.”John 15:9

Right now, in our church, we are focusing on learning how to remain in the Father in our everyday lives. The sermon series is called ‘The Power of Same’ and you can access it here if you’d like to. We are learning how there is power behind waking up and doing the same things every day. How there is meaning in the mundane and that God is always pruning us for His purpose. If you have an hour, you should definitely give the first sermon a visit.

But, I don’t want to talk about that today. Today I want to talk about when it is so stinking hard to remain in the Lord’s love and in His word.

I had a week from hell a couple of weeks ago. For some reason- maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones? – I spent all week feeling like a completely inadequate wife and housekeeper. Add this feeling in with the three-night insomnia cruise I was on, and well…you can imagine my state of mind after the third night of no sleep.

It all started on a Thursday night. My husband was working overnight from home (in our office). He had his work technicians on speaker phone and was talking loudly back to them so they could hear (as one does when using speaker phone). I lay in the bed and tried to drown it out (just a side note- a normal person wouldn’t say he was being loud, but I am such a light sleeper that a pin dropping on the floor would wake me up)…moments later I hear the cat in the living room scratching on my new rug and I think to myself “What is she still doing in the house? Why hasn’t he put her out yet?” And then the thought hits me: It’s two in the morning. She’s still inside. SHE’S ABOUT TO PEE ON MY RUG!! 

I bolted out of bed, furious for what I knew I was about to see, slung open the door and she had just finished relieving herself. On my brand new rug. At two in the morning. I. was. livid. Not at the cat, but at my husband (because I needed someone human to yell at and to place the blame on!). I stormed into the office, yelled about the cat and the fact that he was being loud, and then stormed back to the living room, cleaner in hand and began scrubbing cat piss out of the carpet. Thirty minutes later, I cleaned up the supplies, stormed to the bedroom and slammed the door behind me.

Way to go, Stacey.

I didn’t sleep that night either.

This week happened to be a particularly cold week. It was getting down the -teens at bedtime, so the night after the pee incident we decided to transfer the chickens to a perch under the house (where it stays around 50 or 60 degrees). Since I have more experience handling the chickens, I decided that I should be the one to pick them up and Jason could hold the door open for me. We have one hen that is skittish and nervous. As I was picking her up in the most gentle of ways, she began flapping her wings and knocked me right across the nose. I saw stars and thought for sure my nose was broken. Never underestimate the strength of a chicken wing! (<–the weirdest sentence in this post, I promise). My fault for not seeing that coming…I gently put her on the new perch, breathed deeply and went back in the house glad that the day was over. (My nose wasn’t broken, FYI).

One day passes, I am still in my funk but I get up and read Jesus Calling and the Bible as I do every morning. It’s been at least four days since I’ve slept and I am so tired that my eyes are hurting. I am on the verge of tears all throughout the day. I feel silly for my feelings and the thoughts coming to my head: I am the worst wife. I can’t even control my temper. I am so freaking tired. I don’t want this responsibility anymore. I want to go for a drive and keep driving. My pets hate me. I can’t even keep up with the laundry this week. 

Sunday morning rolls around and we are getting ready to leave the house for church. I am still broken from the previous days events, but I know that worshiping and hearing God’s word will help get me focused again. Right before we head out of the door, I realize the cat is still in the house. On my rug. I don’t trust her after what happened on Thursday night, so I walk toward her to pick her up (to put her out) and as I’m lifting her to my chest she attacks me. Hissing, growling, squirming this way and that, clawing the crap out of me…just barely missing my face, but she gets my arms and hands pretty good..

It’s at this point that I say to God:

“I am done. I’m not doing this anymore. I don’t care about this stupid house. I don’t care about these stupid pets. I don’t want this life. I want a job. I want OUT of here. I don’t want what You’ve given me. Take it back. I’m DONE. I’m. DONE.”

We go to church, I am holding back tears all throughout the car ride. I eventually break down in the auditorium as we are standing and singing:

“He who was and is to come, He’s the one who lives in us, the Great I Am, Yaweh”

It is so hard to remain in the Lord sometimes. It is so hard to remain in His love and remember His love for us while we are doing laundry  or feeding our pets. I know that being at home is meant to set me free, but I can’t help but feel like this place is a prison sometimes. And maybe you feel that way about remaining in your job. We all have our own prisons that we occasionally visit. Mine is the self-pity, selfish prison…where I don’t want to do anything for anyone…and “what has this person done for me that I should do this for him??”.

This space that the Lord has me in is so quiet. It gets lonely. And to be honest, most of the time I am singing in the Spirit…I go about my day as if I were doing all of my duties for God Himself. But there are other days..days when I can’t remember His love, or the fact that I’m “already clean”. There are days when I feel myself silently begging to be placed somewhere else. And in the middle of this, do you know what God asks me to do?

“Get quieter”, He says.

“Go farther into the loneliness.”

“Keep doing for others without them doing things for you.”

So I do.

I deleted my Facebook account last week. I know that the Lord has been asking me to do this for quite some time. But I would always come up with excuses not to. Or I’d take a month-long break from it, only to get back on. As I was sitting in the sermon (the day of the cat attack), I was thinking of this, and the Lord said to me: “You can’t fully be in your calling if you are constantly trying to distract yourself from it. I can’t pull you in deeper and give you the blessing of this calling if you are constantly searching for other means of approval or love.”

Then I knew it was time to let social media go. I began thinking about what kind of mother I want to be to my child. I never want my kid to fight for attention with my phone. I don’t want to be so caught up in capturing a special moment and posting it for “friends” to see that I never really soak in that moment, you know what I mean?

And so my days feel lonelier – I say feel, but the “friends” I had on Facebook weren’t ever with me, but it felt like I had a constant audience at my fingertips; always someone to “talk” to if I ever got too lonely, or if it ever got too quiet.

So I’m deeper in this. And I have to believe that it is for His glory. I have to believe that something so amazing will come of this. Maybe I’ll create a small group and develop real relationships that way. Maybe by the time this child is born, I will be so into this calling that I will embrace the sleepless nights with ease…I’ll embrace the crying spells with joy because I’ve been to the quiet place and the lonely place, and the feeling-like-none-of-this-matters place. It does matter. And it will matter.

I have to believe this. Nothing is ever wasted with the Lord. He uses everything.

If you are in a situation where you can’t see why you are doing what you’re doing, just keep going. Even if you are at the end of your rope, never stop. Get up, make your coffee the same as you did the day before. Get dressed, go to work, pray to God when you don’t feel like it. Keep believing that He’s doing something in you. He prunes us to make us more fruitful. Don’t give up. Tomorrow may be the day when things become clear, or maybe it will be a year from now…but, you’ll look back and realize that you had to go through that hard place.

You and the Lord are tethered at the hip. You are able to stray, maybe even out of sight, so long as the tether remains, you will always find your way back to the One. Never cut the rope. Keep getting up. Keep going. Keep looking up. He’s there.

I promise.

Xoxo,

Stacey B.

[Dear Baby]

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Dear Baby,

Your daddy and I praise the Lord for you. If the love that we already have for you is even a glimpse of what our Father feels for us, then…well, I cannot even fathom such a love. We cannot wait to meet you in July, to hold you and watch you grow into a child of God. Meanwhile, I will do everything I can to keep you safe and healthy. Make yourself comfy and keep growing in there, we’ve still got a ways to go 🙂 What a blessing you are to us, we love you so.

Love,

Your mama

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Just a note- I am happy to share this journey with you guys! I have a post about how I knew it was time for me to become a mom, and some funny stories from my first trimester, but this will not turn into a pregnancy blog. I will not be tracking my months on here, but I will continue to share lessons that the Lord is teaching me in my life- and I’m sure some of those will be in the field of parenting (!)…either way, thanks for listening and reading. You are loved. ❤

In the Wilderness

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I sat down to write this post with a specific topic in mind…Its been forming in my mind for about a month now, but as I started to type it just didn’t feel right. The truth is, I have a lot of things and lessons going on in my life right now that I need to get out. So, I gave this one to the Lord. It’s His post. Whatever is supposed to come out will. I’m just the vessel. So here goes…

Last October my friend and I went hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just a side-note: I feel so stinkin’ lucky to live only 1.5 hours away from such beauty ❤ It’s my home away from home. Anyway, we went to a 5 mile trail that I had only hiked once (with the husband a few months prior) and it was so beautiful and such a hidden treasure that I wanted to take my best friend there for a day trip. It’s the sort of trail that starts out kind of “meh”, running through a campground and along a road…but then you go through a tunnel of trees and you step out into this beautiful, open field. When my husband and I went, the flowers were blooming in the field and it was the prettiest, most natural thing I’d ever come across. Untouched by human hands. No trash to be found anywhere. It’s the type of sight that stops you in your tracks, your heart makes you stand there and take it in.

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The rest of the trail winds alongside a beautiful river. There are a lot of side trails that take you down to the water to climb the rocks and wade in the shallow ends. It’s so peaceful.

So my friend and I began hiking the trail, talking of God and the things going on in our lives. We come to the meadow (the flowers are no longer there but it is still just as beautiful) and take a side-trail up to the top of a hill to take in the view. On the way back down I noticed two trail heads…something that didn’t register with me last time. I stood thinking out loud about which one to take, eventually deciding on the one that my brain had me believe was the most familiar. My friend and I hiked another mile, and it wasn’t until we found ourselves walking along an actual highway that I realized I had chosen the wrong path. We were exhausted at this point and super hungry. I had taken us a mile out of the way, which added two extra miles to our hike!

On the way back, walking in silence, wanting to get back to the actual trail…the Lord said to me: “How often my children do this.”

Not a question, but a statement.

God wasn’t referring to His children getting lost in the woods…but His children leaving Him standing on the right path to take their own, “better” path. I imagine it as being hand-in-hand with the Lord while scaling a mountain. It is a rough hike, but you have the best guide. You are laughing and the hike doesn’t seem so hard because of who you are with. You know where you going because…again, you have the best Guide.

But then we see a different path branching off of the right one. It is deceiving and enticing. It may have beautiful flowers and the right path doesn’t. It may have tall cedars while the right path has only small shrubbery. You think that way is more beautiful…surely it’s a better path, so why not take it? You let go of the Lord’s hand and leave him standing at the trail marker….where He waits for you to come back to Him so you can keep going, so you keep climbing the mountain together.

While he waits, you go on your own way. You try to figure out the path for yourself, but you aren’t getting anywhere. And though you couldn’t see them before you chose this new path, there are thorns on the flowers, and the tall cedars make you feel claustrophobic. Eventually you realize you’d rather be with Him, hiking the not-so-beautiful mountain. You miss holding His hand and the warmth of His heart that is so contagious.

So you go back to Him. And He is right where you left Him, waiting with an embrace and a smile. You open your mouth to tell Him about your adventure, and how you are sorry for trying your own path…but He stops you. Because not only does the Lord wait for us when we stray from Him, but He goes before us into those situations. He makes sure that the thorns don’t cut too deep and that the cedars aren’t so tall that they become the only thing you can see when you look up. He makes sure that we don’t get so lost in our own wilderness that we forget about Him and the path we were on before.

I also believe that a person can come out of the wilderness but not realize it because of the scales on their eyes-  the cloudiness of their vision. If you have been wondering in the wilderness for a long time, your “eyes” (<–the soul) may be so used to the dark that even small blades of grass will look like huge trees blocking your way.

The Lord waits for us. He saves us. He goes before us into the hell we have created and protects us from destroying our eyes with darkness. He calls us out of the wilderness after letting us try our own way for some time. 

On the way back to the trail, I began to think of all the times I stepped out into my own wilderness and how the Lord was with me each and every time. Even before I believed in Him! Even when I was denouncing His Great Name to my mother over lunch!

He was there when I was 20 and trying to get pregnant with my drug-addicted boyfriend.

He was there when I didn’t have a place to live, and was hopping from hotel to hotel…eventually living out of my car for a couple of days.

He was there when my sister’s friends asked me to do drugs at one of her parties.

He was there when I was working double shifts as a waitress just to pay for a class at community college.

He was there when my dad stopped showing an interest in my and my siblings life.

He was there when I was tearing my moms house upside-down looking for change just so I could get a snack and a soda.

He was there when I was engrossed in atheism books and telling everyone “I don’t believe in God.”.

He. was. there. And He is present in anything that you may be going through now. You know what I find comfort in? The fact that nothing surprises God. Nothing. None of the situations or heartache that we have faced or will ever face is going to surprise Him. He’s already in it, fighting for us. It’s not like He says “Oh man, so-and-so lost their job. What am I going to do now? I didn’t prepare for this.” Um, no! And that’s not to say that God wants us to go through hard times or pain, but we live in a fallen world and it’s part of the package. But He fights for us. None of the battles we face are ours, they are His to fight. Let’s let Him do His job.

He is with you…waiting for you…calling you out of your wilderness…go back to Him. You are loved.