Obedience is the Most Important

There are some mornings when I’m reading my Bible, that I get a glimpse of a peacefully calm life where everything is peachy keen and I’m floating around wearing rose colored glasses with a dopey smile on my face.  Because that’s what God can do for you.  Let you know that everything is A-OK.  That time with him can be calming and peace-giving to your hectic soul.

But then there are mornings when I’m reading my Bible that God takes the ideas I’ve formed over the last 27 years and blows them up in my face.  I can see these ideals laying in a pile before me, and I see a grenade careening to the air hitting the pile with a thud the second before the mushroom cloud ascends and everything is obliterated to dust.  Because that’s what God can do for you.  He opens your eyes to see that while you didn’t necessarily have His Word wrong, you also didn’t see the bigger picture until that moment when he destroyed the old to make way for the new.

Like today.

Hebrews 5 talks all about how Jesus was called by God to be a High Priest; to die on the cross for my eternal salvation.  I’ve heard this a bazillion and one times every time I sit in a straight-backed church pew.

But what no one has ever told me before was that Jesus was in agony over his role in the Gospel.

I knew that He prayed to God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane that He would be delivered from the cross.  Obviously that didn’t happen.  I really thought that’s all it was. A simple, “Do I have to?  Really?  Okay then, I’ll do it.”  I had no idea that he cried, he pleaded, he sent up prayers of agony that His Father would release him from His calling.  And God heard him.  And instead of releasing Jesus from death, He allowed Jesus to learn true obedience through His suffering.

That’s when it hit me.  Discipline, Suffering, and Obedience are not neat little ideas wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string to be given as presents.  No.  Instead they are abstract and complicated thoughts that have been put into a blender with the setting on high and have been pulsed so hard you can’t extract one without also pulling out the others.  I can’t have suffering without also learning obedience and discipline.  I can’t learn obedience without going through suffering and using discipline.  I will never be disciplined until I go through suffering and learn true obedience.

For Jesus, in this particular example, it was obedience to His ultimate calling.  He wanted out of what He had been preparing for for 33 years.  He didn’t want to suffer humiliation or death.

I hear a lot about this calling Jesus has placed on all our lives.  That we must obey the calling.  That we must go forth and do it.  That we must not be scared or use excuses but to know that He has called us for a reason.

And I believe it all.  But I also think that we’ve started captializing it and putting it on a pedestal and shrouded it with fog machines and stuck a spotlight on it and preached it so many times that the Calling gets all the focus and all the attention.

But what about the day-to-day?  What am I to do when God has Called me to His plan, but right now I still have to clean poop off the floor.  What do I do about my Calling when I spend 40+ hours a week in a classroom teaching students–a calling unto its own, but perhaps not The Calling.  What about those times when I’m being called but I literally don’t have a single dish, utensil, or pan that is clean in my house?  Do I pursue my Calling then?  Or do I pursue my latex gloves and a sponge?

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It might sound a little crazy, comparing suffering through my daughter’s potty training to the suffering Jesus felt when He was told to go die for the world, but that’s what it is.  Suffering.  And perhaps spending three hours cleaning things that are just going to get dirty again isn’t going to save the world, but it is being obedient to my Jesus, who has called me to be a wife and mother alongside my other Calling.  And you might scoff at the bags under my eyes formed from getting up early every morning, because who isn’t tired, but to me I’m suffering from lack of sleep.  But I’m gaining discipline every time I obey God’s call to read my Bible.

I think this is something worthwhile to keep unpacking:  Obedience in the form of Suffering and Discipline.  And I’m starting to think all this talk about intentionality, discipline, and thriving in the midst of toddlerhood is overshadowing and belittling what is Most Important. Obedience in the day-to-day mundane.

 

The Art of Practicing Discipline

One thing that I’ve been praying for lately is discipline.

This may sound way too over dramatic, but there are some days where I feel as if the day has run me over and I am left sprawled on the pavement, my limbs spread out and bent at weird angles, blood coming out of my ear and pooling on the ground, and all I can do is wonder How the hell do I get up from here?

As I’m lying there on the rough concrete and let my mind do a quick flashback review of how I got to that point and I can almost always point it back to a lack of discipline.

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I’ve always thought of discipline as “not cool.”  Like, if I want to fit in and be popular, discipline is not the attribute that I want to possess.  But now that I’m an adult, I see it being more terrifying than anything else.  It’s an attribute I so desperately want to attain, and yet it encompasses so many parts of my day–the big ideas and the minutiae–that I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to have even a smidgen of it.  It’s too hard to fail at it, ergo, I shouldn’t even try.

But I know now that this is not true.  As I search my soul and my heart to determine what the most important things in my life are, I’m realizing that discipline is an absolute necessity if I want to be intentional in the areas that call for my present state of mind.

Here’s the thing, though, the Thing That Keeps Me From Getting Up:  What exactly is discipline and how can I attain it?

Because I recognize that I am a failure.  I will massively fail at discipline when I attempt to do it on my own.

But God.

But God lifts me up and gives me grace and shows me that spiritual discipline is merely forming a habit that will repeatedly point me back to Him.  Spiritual discipline involves having God–not me–in control of everything, and that all of my actions should continuously point me (and others) back to Him.  And with God, I literally can’t fail.  Because perfection can’t ever be attained.

I’m learning that everything can’t be important, and I’m finding that in the area of discipline the same holds true.  I have a list of a zillion different areas I crave to be disciplined in.  But I can’t do it all at once.  Being disciplined in some areas is more important {right now} than being disciplined in others.

For example, not making my lunch the night before means I’m rushing the next morning and I’m spending time doing a menial task instead of eating breakfast with my family.  It’s not the absence of a lunch I miss in the morning when I’m driving to work.  It’s the absence of spending time with my family, which is one of my Most Important Things.

And when I figure out what’s most important to my soul, {Family} and then I figure out what’s preventing me from making it actively important in my life {not making a lunch the night before}, that’s when I figure out the Most Important Disciplines I need to have right now.

So I’m practicing.  I’m practicing discipline every time I make a lunch after my daughters are in bed.  I’m practicing discipline every morning when I wake up before 5:45 in order to spend time with God.  I’m practicing discipline every Saturday when I make it a goal to do all errands and all cleaning so that I can relax with my family on Sunday.  I’m practicing discipline every night I get everything on my to-do list accomplished so that the hour before we go to bed I can spend that time intentionally talking to my husband.

And knowing that not everything is important is what gives me the courage to slowly get up off that pavement and start again.

I think, just maybe, I’m back. Maybe.

I completely understand the appeal to blogging for moms.  I finnnnally get the whole “mommy blogger” scene.

MOMS NEVER HAVE ANY TIME ALONE.

And yeah, okay, I totally understood that from the very beginning.  I mean, kids are living things that need you’re attention.  And that they take more effort to grow than plants.  And you can’t really just leave them all day long like you can a dog.

But man I just had no idea how much non-existent “me” time I get.  Sometimes, on my way home from work, I take a quick pit stop at Sonic and stay there long enough to finish my drink.  And that 20 seconds (because as soon as I get it, I start missing those tiny people who won’t leave me alone and I guzzle it down) is about all I get. Sometimes.  Because two tiny people means all the Sonic slush money goes to buying them things to keep them alive. Like shoes.  And underwear.  Because someone keeps peeing in all the clean ones…

But the internet sure does make it easier to have space to yourself.  A little tiny corner of the world where you get to decorate it and not have anyone tell you he doesn’t like flowers, or have matchbox car wheels drug through the paint before it’s dried.  A small little place that doesn’t know that you’re currently wearing clothes that have lived on the floor for the last week because all those dirty, tiny underwears take precedence in the washing machine than your shirt.  Even if it does have some sort of smear from one of those petite hands that stay dirty all.day.long even though you haven’t fed it anything in hoursss.

I totally get it.
MOMS.  YOU ROCK.

But that’s not why I’m back.  I’m not back here stringing words together because I just want a little bit of time to call my own.  I’m not sitting at the library once a week while the husband sits at home playing with our children so that I can play around with my very own toy that is kept far, far away from grubby little hands (that apparently stick playdough in the headphone outlet).

NO.

I’m here because in January 2015 I said YES to God.  I told him I wanted him to MOVE me out of the position I was STUCK in and into the position HE wanted me in.  I was finished with making excuses.  I was tired of where I was at mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  I needed some action verbing in my life.

So I said YES to a new job.  I said YES to a new house.  I said YES to scheduling, routines, and hard work.  I bought an actual erasable wall calendar so that we could schedule all our work times–and I hate those things.  The husband and I say YES to financial peace and financial discipline every Thursday night when we sit down to budget our money.  I say YES to my kids every time I say no to social media, tv, or other escapisms.

And God has moved.  He has moved me into an area of life I had no idea I could be a part of.  An area of life in which I thought would never have space for me.

But in this season of saying yes, and doing the hard work, and keeping up with the moving and not getting stuck, I have been prompted to say YES, once again, to this tiny little corner all to myself on the internet.

And I have no idea what it’s going to be

I know what it will not be.  I know it will definitely not be a place for me to get stagnant in.  It will not be a place where I fall into the trap of comparison.  It will not be a place for me to escape to.

This is simply a place I’ve said YES to.  For the time being at least.

And I make no promises about what you might fin

Thriving Intentionally in the Littlest of Things

After an unmistakably difficult day yesterday, during which I attacked my living room with a vengeance and threw out 6 boxes of crap, and a hard night which consisted of little sleep and lots of tears (yes, I cried because my littlest kept crying, and then we were both in this terrible crying cycle that we couldn’t break) I woke up this morning with a single thought:

I’ll make nap time early today, and then if I can just get through til then, I’ll call it a success.

Around 1:00AM last night I picked up my phone and picked on the Tenth Avenue North devotional I read off an on.  The one last night was entitled “Worn” about how sometimes we just experience this really intense feeling of worn out-ness, and only Jesus can give us rest.  The verse that went with it was Matthew 11:28 (my paraphrase):

Come to me all you weary and broken-hearted and I will give you rest.

So this morning, when I was thinking about how best to make it until nap with two girls who abhor the idea of staying in pjs in bed watching Suits or HIMYM, I started asking Jesus, “Practically speaking, how do I find rest in you?  How do I find rest when I can’t physically rest until the night comes?”

Matthew 1128I talk a lot about intentionality and practicality, and I’m on the Thrive Intentionally Facebook group started by Kristen of When at Home, so there’s a lot of talk circling my brain about how to live life with intention.  So as I was trying to come up with a game plan for making it until nap time, I felt like the best way to do today was to live it out intentionally instead of trying to just make it through with as little bruising as possible. 

I read my Steady Days book (awesome, btw) and I’ve created my own Steady Days routine.  And in the two days that I’ve carried it out it’s worked wonderfully.  So when I asked Jesus to show me how to rest in Him today, I felt like he was telling me to go back to that schedule.  That I don’t have to live it out minute by minute, and that I don’t even need to approach it with zeal and enthusiasm, but that I need to have a steady day that follows a pattern, or the four of us wouldn’t be any better off than when we woke up this morning.

I think it’s funny that we talk a lot about intentionality in the big things:  being intentional in motherhood, with reading the Bible, with your relationships with your husband, friends, and God, but a lot of times we don’t talk about intentionality in the little stuff.  Like getting dressed.  When my body is craving gym shorts (not a yoga pants kinda girl) and my husband’s t-shirt, instead I showered, did my hair and face, and wore clothes I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in.  When my mind is craving lots of vegging out to TV, I’m going to clean off my dining room table and start a load of dishes.  I’m going to babysit my granddaughter (did you know that when your child has babydoll daughters, that makes you a grandmother??? yup, news to me, too) and rock her to sleep the exact way I’m told to.  (See mom?  The exact way my daughter tells me to.)

In fact, intentionality has become a synonym for the word “productive.”  Like, if I wash my clothes, I’m being intentional about my day, but really aren’t I just being productive?  I’m still not sure how to describe this phenomenon, given my groggy state of being, but I’m thinking that we’re missing the boat on intentionality.  It’s supposed to be “deliberate and purposeful.”  Doing something on purpose so that a bigger picture can be acquired.  I guess that can mean to clean your house or wash your dishes, but today it means that I’m intentional about taking a day to do things I don’t want to do in order that my attitude changes and I don’t take my frustration out on my daughters.  It means that I’m getting dressed even though I don’t want to because it’ll make it’s a first step in tackling other parts of my day.  It means that I’m going to clean the kitchen because I’d much rather be doing nothing, purely because Jesus has called me to this day, and I’m going to do what He says knowing that my heart and mind will both be a lot better off for it.

And if all I do today is get my cloth diapers in order, rock my granddaughters, wipe off my dining table, I’ll call that day a success, because it means I didn’t sit in my own way of resting, and I’m sitting in His. 

So today is all about being intentional with being practical.  Because none of us need a day that we are just trying to get through.  We need a day that follows a routine, is productive in the little things, so that by the time we get to nap time, we can all rest in Jesus, knowing that everything is getting a little bit better. 

And probably, we’ll go to the beach.  Because even though it’s not on the schedule, the beach is always a good remedy.  Especially when it’s on a pond and you’re the only ones who are ever there.

Ash Wednesday

This will be the second year that I’ve actively participated in Lent (if you don’t count all those years that I gave up Catholicism.  JOKE.).  But probably it’s the first year that I’ve actually ACTIVELY participated in it.  That I’ve awaited it’s arrival with anticipation.  That I woke up early this morning because I was so excited about it.  I think it’s mostly because this year has already been a big joke to me.  January was stupidFebruary wasn’t much better.  And even though March is already looking bleak, I’m approaching Lent the same way that I’d approach the New Year–I am ever so desperate for a fresh start.

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40 days isn’t that bad.  I can do a lot in 40 days.  I plan to use this time wisely.  I want to give up soda (for good).  I want to curb my internet addiction.  I want to cut down on my vices so that I can hopefully stop being a glutton.  I want to continue getting rid of the stuff in my house and in my heart.

But mostly?  I want to stop gliding through life and really and truly start living it.  I want to be able to say that I anticipated every dull moment, every mundane task, every monotonous routine. That I soaked up every second of cleaning and bill paying and dog walking and dinner eating.

So really, instead of focusing on what I’m NOT going to do for the next 40 days, I’m going to focus on what I WILL do:  pray.

I’ve been reading this book, courtesy of BookLook Blogger, and I’m hoping it will be the catalyst for getting us into a season of grateful hearts and contented souls.

How are you spending Lent?

February Bold Intentions

I don’t know about you, but having a miscarriage has made me completely reevaluate my life.  I’ve heard before about how there are these life defining moments, and moments that forever change the way you do things and think about things, and I think this is mine.

Losing a baby is such a powerful emotion, and it’s the first time I’ve lost someone so close to me–physically and emotionally.  It’s also a loss of life plans, anticipation, and a growing family.  It’s a weird sort of loss, a loss of something you didn’t have for very long (or maybe you did, depending on your situation) a loss of something that wasn’t really there–as in you could see it, talk to it, listen to it, touch it–but it’s a big loss nonetheless.

And because of this loss, I’m realizing how stupidly I spend most of my time, my energy, and my money.  I’m realizing that I spend way too much time worrying about whether the socks are matched or the paint colors are right than I worry about if my neighbor loves Jesus.  I spend too much time watching TV shows from start to finish than I do putting my house in order and striving to be a Godly wife.  I spend a lot of energy on things that, deep down, I don’t care about.  And God is showing me that He has big plans for me, and I would really like to start paying attention to Him.

Anyway, for February, I just have a few bold intentions.

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Number One will be getting my house in order for future child.  That’s right, this should (hopefully) be the month where our home study is approved.  (Basically, after we’re approved, we get to know who our children are.  So this is a big step.)  The momster is coming up to help me play interior designer and switch up all the furniture so that future child will have a place to live that’s free of clutter.

Number Two is for both me and the husband.  We’re implementing the three things rule after work hours.  We’re trying to come up with three meaningful ways to spend our time after work, and then we only worry about getting those things done.  I’m hoping this will lead to us spending the entire evening into the night doing intentional, meaningful stuff, but we’re going to start small and see how it works.

Number Three is for me to do more.  January was a stupid month, and I didn’t do anything with my life besides go through tragedy after tragedy.  And although losing a washer/dryer for most of the month isn’t quite on the same scale as losing a baby, there’s a lot that needs to get done around here.  So I’m going to start doing less and start doing more.  Meaning, less TV and more Bible.  Less internet and more projects. I plan on sharing what this means in more detail as the month goes on.

I have high hopes for this month.  February, do not disappoint.

And if you’re looking for something to with your day, hop on over to @caitlinmfrostscloset or the Facebook pageI’m selling a bunch of stuff in my house to get ready for future child and I’m donating 100% of the profit to Compassion International’s Child Survival Program.  I figure, if I can’t help my baby survive, I can help someone else’s make it into the world.

Shop My Closet & Support Compassion International

Ever since I quit my job, ever since we decided we wanted a baby, ever since we started the adoption process, ever since we got pregnant, ever since I had a miscarriage, I’ve been really wanting a change in my life.  I feel like motherhood is so close and yet so out of reach.  I feel like I’m missing an essential part of myself, like I look around for the kid that is never there.  (This also comes from teaching, because as all you teachers know, there is always a kid left behind).

Mostly I’ve been wanting to just DO something.  Anything.  Repaint the house.  Rearrange furniture.  Go on a spontaneous trip.  Replace my wardrobe.  Knock out a wall.  Something.

I am so ready for some sort of drastic change that I just can’t sit here for very much longer and twiddle my thumbs anymore.  I’m angry with God for being in this weird waiting stage and I’m fed up with how I spend my time and money and thoughts on such stupid triviality, and I’m so frustangry that I could kick things.

Enter Compassion.

I was reading this post by The Nester and this post by her sister and I was back peddaling through their recent posts about their trip in Uganda with Compassion International and looking at the pictures and watching the videos just made me sob.  (Not a good idea to be an adoptive/miscarriage mama and looking at orphans and cute little children).  It was then I decided this is what I could do.  I could adopt an insta-child.  One that I can call mine right this very second but wouldn’t ever set foot in my home.  I could DO something.

But then I saw that Compassion has an entire program solely devoted to rescuing babies and their mothers by providing pregnant mothers with adequate nutrition, classes on how to take care of a child, vaccinations on all those diseases we’ve already eradicated, and by proclaiming the love and the hope of Jesus.

Immediately, I knew this is exactly what I could do.  Because I couldn’t do a single damn thing to help my baby survive, but I can definitely do something to help these babies have a hope and a future.

So that’s where the Instasale comes in. I’ve been wanting to purge anyway, and I’m not having good luck with eBay, so I’m going to try an Instasale.  Come on over to @caitlinmfrostscloset and get you something pretty, knowing that every penny that you’re spending on my junk awesomeness is going straight to help a mother feed, care for, and love a baby that might otherwise not have been born.

Right now I’m wanting to sponsor the Businywa Child Survival Program in Uganda (it’s coming up on my mobile app, but not on the website???).  Join me, will you?