Be Teachable, Continued …

Welcome back.  This is a continuation from my last post.  BE TEACHABLE, 10 LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED – PART ONE

Lesson 6: Our lives have a greater purpose.

My life slowly began changing dramatically because of God and those that were part of our circle of friends. The company you keep will bring you up or down so remember to choose wisely.  Once I realized that my life was far greater than my own personal fulfillment or happiness, I found my life had a greater meaning. My purpose was found in Him.  Life was not merely about me.  I am here to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

 

Colossians 1:16 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible… EVERYTHING got started in him and finds its purpose in Him

There is nothing like having children to realize that life is really not about you.  We welcomed Caryn in November ’88 and two years later Courtney arrived in January ’91. I never dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom but God had other plans as I had really strong maternal instincts and the idea of leaving my child in daycare overwhelmed me. Having recently bought our first home plus living on a single income in the DC area was not only expensive but impossible. God provided not only a wonderful job for Jon in Austin but the company was IBM and Jon had desperately wanted to work for them right out of college.  What a blessing!!! Living in Austin, TX where the cost of living was easier, Jon’s salary stretched much further and now we were within driving distance to our parents.  Motherhood was the most amazing gift.

Despite all the growth, I continued struggling emotionally and spiritually. Being closer to my family of origin just confirmed that I didn’t belong and opened up old wounds that had not properly healed.   Also, we left behind our spiritual home in VA with deep and meaningful relationships offering a place of belonging.  We drove cross county with a 3 week old and a two-year-old to a place where we knew no one. Jon started his job while I was left alone to manage. Adding to the stress, our newborn developed renal reflux and had other health issues. Looking back I was most likely suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety.

Lesson 7:  If you change nothing, nothing will change and sometimes you might need to seek professional help.

Anger is only one Letter Short of Danger

A year after arriving in Austin, I vacationed at the Minirth-Meier Clinic to intentionally deal with my anger issues, depression, and PTSD.  I had such horrible stinking thinking and believed many wrongs lies about myself.  Desperately wanting to be a loving mother I knew I needed to deal with my anger as that was not the legacy I desired to leave behind.  Counseling was my road to becoming a better ME, wife, and mom. Over time the soil of my heart was tilled loosening the strongholds of bitterness, hurt, and anger that had been deeply rooted.  As they were dislodged, there was room for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and most importantly forgiveness. I was fertilizing a new harvest for my children and the generations to come. I like what Danny Silk says, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”

Lesson 8: God often uses our husbands to lead us but we must be willing to follow.

I will be perfectly honest, I am not a good follower as I had made a vow that no one would ever control me.  However,  this attitude can be interpreted as being disrespectful which will slowly erode a marriage.  Jon and I hold firmly to the belief that couples should invest in their marriage every three years. You can read this past post for our ideas. From Spectator to Participant – Tips to Grow Your Marriage.

Ten years into our marriage, which was about two years after my healing journey, I finally had an incredible support system when Jon was offered a killer job in San Diego.  I was like, NO/Never !!!  As women, we are good at convincing our husbands and ultimately Jon turned down the offer.  While at a ladies gathering a wise woman shared that when we are older reflecting on life will we, or our husbands, look back on life with regrets and longings for missed opportunities. Yep! I was convicted.  Thankfully, six months later, God provided a second chance regarding the job.  This season of our life was characterized by enormous spiritual growth, family closeness, and adventure all of which I would have missed out on had I had my way.

Lesson 9: Never say Never

What’s not to like about sunny CA?  Well, it’s not Austin, Texas!  It’s said the grass is always greener on the other side until you must maintain it. However, if you water the grass on your side it might become just as green. We eventually moved back to Austin in 1998 and I learned that it’s sometimes harder to go back as life continues without you and people plus circumstances change.  I certainly came back a different person!

I said I’d never live in CA.

I said I’d never homeschool but God had other plans.

I said I’d never have more children.

I shared more in-depth about each of the above in a post, NEVER SAY NEVER, LET ME TELL YOU WHY

You see, whenever God gives a person a command, He always gives His power to perform it. THUS

In 2001, our third daughter was born a decade after her sister. Everything I thought I knew about parenting was so different. I was older and more experienced so I thought 😉 Each child has a unique personality and temperament.

I’m unsure how I survived as a younger mom without all the gizmos and gadgets.  A lot can happen in 10 years such as the smartphone.  In 2007, both Caryn and Courtney graduated from high school while Cayley completed Kindergarten. God has such a sense of humor.

Lesson 10: Life will be Difficult.

We all face disappointments, delays, setbacks, financial woes, etc. and that’s part of life!  The issue is not that life is going to be hard, as that is certain, but how will we respond when it is hard and we are thrown a curve.  Will we respond with bitterness and upset or will we exude contentment – with calmness, cheerfulness/joy, and peaceful acceptance?  Contentment doesn’t come naturally nor is it easily learned.  In fact, Paul said “I have learned to be content” in Philippians 4:11.

God’s timing is perfect; never early, never late. It takes a little patience with a lot of faith, but it’s worth the wait.

God continued to teach me about contentment for in 2002 we sold our dream home so my husband could start his company. At first, it was exciting, but when we went months without getting paid, and as debt accumulated, it put a strain on our marriage. We often wanted Jesus to hurry and calm the storms.  But He wanted us to find Him in the midst of the storm. It wasn’t until February of 2009, 7 years later that the company would be acquired only to bring about new challenges requiring Jon to travel a lot and leaving me as a pseudo-single mom.

Life happens!!! Therefore, we will have many opportunities to choose either contentment or unhappiness. Currently, we are dealing with issues related to our home.  For over two months our home has been in a state of disarray (see below photo) and we have no idea how or when it will be resolved.  It’s invaluable to find the silver lining in situations as it greatly helps with contentment.

 

This is your journey, so be fully teachable and don’t wish for something different. As a learner, the road ahead will certainly be better as past mistakes present you with the perfect opportunity to learn, grow, and to improve yourself.

 

Share some of the lessons you have learned.

 

Never Say Never, Let Me Tell You Why

Never Say Never. It’s a Justin Bieber song I am very familiar with because I have an eleven year old daughter 🙂 However, it’s also a good principle to live by as the tighter we hold on to something the more likely God will loving pry it away.  Our lives should be surrendered and willing to embrace change.  Oh how many times have I said, “I will NEVER…”  Usually when I surrender I experience unexpected blessings.  Let me share just a few.

In late 1994 Jon was offered a job out in San Diego, CA and I said, “I would NEVER leave Austin, TX especially to relocate to California.” We’d only been in Texas since 1991 and Jon finally had a job at IBM – something he had dreamed of since graduating from college but now was frustrated by the bigness of a large corporation and the impasse to get ideas implemented. Let me brag on my husband a second.  He is really creative and crazy intuitive. Over the course of his career he has been awarded 23 patents. He loves to think outside the box and today he is employed by a company who recognizes his gifting so they created a job just for him. His title is “Innovation Explorer”, whatever that means, and he enjoys what he does. It’s such a blessing for our husbands to have passion for what they do – thank you Jesus.

We eventually moved to San Diego and we loved it.  It was like being on a three year vacation, lots of sun and fun places to explore. God provided us with an incredible house plus the coolest neighbors. I began my home schooling journey out in CA after saying “I would NEVER home school.”  Yep, and 17 years later, I am stil at it.  My two eldest have both graduated from college and are living on their own each doing ministry – one in San Diego, and the other in Detroit.  Oh so many blessings were had because I surrendered and trusted God with their education. I’m so grateful I was more focused on pleasing God rather than man as we had so many who were critical of our choice causing me to doubt my abilities. I felt the most resistance by the local church. What I have learned is that when you do anything different from others you may feel judged but do it anyway if God has directed you. I have such a close and precious relationship with my daughters and know that things would be different had I not followed His promptings.

Then there was, “I will NEVER have any more children as two is the perfect number.” Yep, when our eldest was 12, her sister was 10, and I was 38 along came Cayley.  I can’t imagine life without her.  I was meant to be a mother and by the time I fully embraced this my older girls were about to head off to college.  Empty nest was put on hold and I was given another opportunity to mother a decade later. Oh there were countless “I will NEVER…” associated with how I parented but like wine I have mellowed with age and some things I once felt strong about I laugh at today. God continues to refine me though parenting and home educating our sweet Cayley.

Lastly, when adidas purchased Jon’s company in February 2009 I said, “I will NEVER live in Portland, OR.” It’s been a joy to spend the last three summers up in Portland as the weather is a nice break from the sizzling summers in Austin, TX.  There were many reasons to not move to Portland but this summer God whispered, “Will you let go?”  Jon has an incredible job and while there are so many reasons to stay in Austin I felt God just wanting me to surrender this area of my life.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the sermon last week on surrender and being asked, “What I are you unwilling to let go of?” Or maybe it was our visit with Micheal and Meri Reed on June 22-23, 2012.  Micheal had been praying for us before we arrived and wanted to shared a vision God had given him in regards to our family represented by 3 bears.  The bear symbolizes many things:  protection, being free in spirit like the wind, peaceful, discerning, etc..  He said, “I feel you are about to embark on a new journey represented by us climbing the mountain. Jon was keenly aware of the many small things surrounding us.  He said, “many go through life and never notice the God details,” represented by butterflies. He shared how before he entering a place he will ask God, “Give me an awareness of your presences.” He has a timer that would go off every hour to remind him to seek the presences of God in all situations.  He implored Jon to trust his instincts. I was following Jon as I trusted Jon’s leading us and wanted him to lead. Then there was Cayley looking up to both of us in faith.  Prior to meeting with Mr. Reed earlier that day, Jon and I were listing pros and cons of possibly moving during our drive from Portland to Redding, CA. After hearing this vision I felt incredible peace about moving. And if this represented how God was leading Jon I would not want to be sitting together later in life and have him wonder what direction his career could have taken had we moved to be more involved with his team.

Indeed there are so many unexpected blessings (such a peace and joy) to be had when living a life of surrender. Living a surrendered life is a spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

This post is written in loving memory of Peter Michael Reed, who meet his Savior just three days after our visit on June 25, 2012. He was a biological father to five life changing children and spiritual father to thousands through COMMIT conferences.  I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to share my appreciation to Mr. Reed for COMMIT as my older girls and I grew immensely through our participation. I will miss his warm smile, encouraging words and wisdom.