Month: May 2013

What if you don’t like your purpose?

Do you ever feel like what you do doesn’t matter? Maybe what you feel that God has called you to right now really doesn’t turn your crank. Those can be hard times, mentally. We all need to feel as if we serve a purpose, an important purpose. As parents we have to raise children who understand they were made for a purpose. As parents we have to know that for ourselves, too. What if what God has called us to isn’t what we would prefer?

Isaiah would be able to relate. In the 49th Chapter of the book named for him, he shares how much he felt like what he had been called to left him lacking. He wanted more. Or different. I can relate.

If I am completely honest, I have days where I struggle with this issue. I didn’t really understand that I was made for a purpose, a specific God given purpose, until I was an adult. I just thought I would grow up and do the American dream thing like everyone else. Finding my purpose wasn’t on my radar.

But I found my purpose when I met my husband. God had called him as a teenager to full time ministry. On about our, um, first date, he was clear to me when he said, “God has called me to full time ministry. If you don’t see yourself living that kind of life, we don’t need to pursue this.” First date. He’s intense. It was only the second time I had ever heard God say anything.

What Matthew didn’t know at the time, was it didn’t matter much to me what he had been called to do. He could have been called to be a goat farmer, and I would have hung around. You see, God had told me to marry him. Matthew didn’t know it yet, but God and I, we knew. I had a purpose. I was going to be a minister’s wife. I had no idea what that meant.

I learned fast. It was great. Mostly. I was a pastor’s wife. I knew what I was supposed to do. I was pretty good at it, too. Then about twelve years in, Matthew shifted directions. He was still in ministry, but he was no longer lead pastor. God had prepared him for a unique calling, and he followed that calling right out of the pulpit and right into church production. I started calling him the “lights, camera, action pastor”.  I had no idea what I was supposed to do. By that time, I was a mother, and I worked as a nurse, part time. I worked nights so that I could be home with the kids during the day. My absence had little effect on them, as I worked while they slept.

I knew part of my purpose was to mother. I loved it. I poured my heart into it. I still missed being a pastor’s wife, but Matthew didn’t really need me much in his new role. So I adjusted to a lesser role with Matthew, and a greater one with our four kids. I still worked part time. My work was simply a means to an end- paid bills. I never did see my work as my purpose.

Today, Matthew has shifted again. Creative Director for Student Ministries at our church. He also teaches in our church’s ministry school. Again, not much for me to be a helpmate with. Kids are growing up and out, but I am still in the trenches with them, mothering, as fast as I can because I know my time and influence with them is running low.

But I am feeling lost of purpose again. Purpose for me. Not as a mother or a wife, I will always love what I am called to do there, however much or little is required of me. At forty-six, I want MY purpose.

But right now, it seems to be on hold. I am privileged to work full time at a hospital attached to a University, and as such, my kids get half off tuition. Again, my job is merely a means to an end. I enjoy it, but it is not my purpose. Yet those full time hours seem to stand in the way of time to allow for me to pursue a purpose I am meant for. Or maybe one that I’d prefer.

I get to encourage, help patients heal… it’s a sweet deal, and I’m pretty good at it, but I don’t feel it’s my purpose. But it might be for now. And that’s where I can relate to Isaiah. That’s where the rub is. If money didn’t matter, what would I do? I’d write. I’d lead women into a deeper relationship with Jesus. I’d spend time with Matthew’s students and encourage them. For me, I need my purpose to have eternal ramifications.

A dear friend once told me. “This is just a season. It will pass.” It was a great thing to say. I have repeated it to myself a lot. This is a season. Just like Isaiah, I have things to do that God has for me to do. I may not prefer them, but they are important. I do often remind God that I am ready for more when He can manage to work that out.

Maybe you feel devoid of purpose, or you find where you are currently situated lacking. We have to remember, that before the foundation of the Earth, God had us in mind. Before we were formed in our mother’s wombs our days were numbered and our paths etched. Our purposes planned.

Even if we find ourselves in a place we’d rather not be, or envision another purpose we want to see lived out in our lives, we must remember that we need to honor God in whatever we find ourselves presently doing. We are to live out our purpose, even if, like Isaiah, it’s not our first choice.

“Never, Ever, Tell her to Calm Down”

Sometimes Matthew and I get questioned about our parenting… skills. I figure it’s either so that parent can do what we have done, or it’s so they will be certain not to do what we have done. Sometimes we don’t know which. The former often humbles me, and I can completely understand the latter. Despite our best efforts, our children are not perfect. It’s not their fault. I blame them, but it’s not their fault. Sometimes, even with our best efforts, we parents fail… and kids fail, too.

Still, with many failures, come some shining successes. I praise God for the successes. Sometimes our kids succeed in spite of us as much as because of us. I thank God for that, too. Many nights I have gone to bed praying for the God of heaven and earth to fix what I messed up in the hearts and minds of my children that day. I thank Him for the mending.

I’ve decided to share a tiny bit of almost twenty years of parenting lessons learned, sometimes the hard way. These few things have been on my mind today, and I think I need to share them. As our kids get older and begin to look more and more like adults and less and less like children, we have tried hard to prepare them for what lies ahead. Hopefully, what lies ahead finds them not living in my basement as full-fledged adults.

For our boys, we have tried to teach them to never… ever… tell her to “Calm down.” Never. Ever. Not heeding this advise will most surely show them that they were indeed mistaken in thinking she was not calm before. She will surely show them just how un-calm she will be now. Seriously though, teaching boys how to be in proper relationship with a female is a challenge in today’s society. I’d like to think that we have matured as a society, and that males look at females with more respect and that they treasure them in these enlightened times. It’s not true. Twenty-one million (mostly) women, (mostly girls) sold into the sex trafficking presently tell me we have not come very far.

Boys have to be taught to treasure girls. We tell our boys, “To hold a girl’s hand is for more than making her heart flutter. To take her hand means she is in your care. When you are in the company of a girl, her safety is your responsibility. Respecting her boundaries is your responsibility, too. If she doesn’t have proper boundaries, she’s not the girl for you. Take her home…. Quickly.”

We teach our boys that when they find themselves interested in getting to know a girl, it is as important that they get to know her family, too. We tell them, “If you like the girl, but can’t stand her family, that will be a problem.” We also tell them, “She needs to be around your family, too. A lot. She needs to fit in with your family. We’re not going anywhere.”

And what about our girl? She is a carefully guarded commodity. It’s a double standard and we know that. We don’t care. At fifteen, she’s never been on a date, to a dance, had a boyfriend. And guess what? She’s still alive and well, and all the better for it. She doesn’t spend hours on end pining away for some boy. And if there is a boy out there who thinks he’s good enough to take her out, he’s wrong. The boy who thinks he is not good enough… that’s the one who’ll have a chance with her… one day. Why? It’s not because we think she’s perfect, we know she’s not—remember? But the one who treasures her enough to think he is not worthy, just might be.

Parenting our kids when they were little was a challenge. Yet truly, it was child’s play compared to parenting them as young adults. The decisions they make now are for keeps. I know I haven’t shared much in this piece, but these are the things on my heart to share right now. Perhaps I can share more another time. Again, I don’t put these things out there because I think Matthew and I have a lock on parenting. I share these things because as parents, we need to be in this thing together. Our kids matter, and we need to try to get it right.

Do Not Be Deceived

The Bible says a whole lot of things. One thing it tells us is not to be deceived. All who are deceived think they are not, but then isn’t that the whole deal with deception? The one who is deceived has no idea that they, in fact, have been hoodwinked. They will stake everything on the fact that the very lie they have been lead to believe, is in fact, true. But they are wrong. The Bible warns us that Satan is the Deceiver. He’s been deceiving us from the beginning of time. And many times, Adam and Eve included, people have believed his lies. So what are we, mere mortals with deceivable brains, supposed to do? How can we fight against an enemy who seems to have the advantage of supernatural cunning and trickery?

We have to get out ahead of him. We must have discernment. We must seek the truth of the Scriptures. We have to pay attention to the world around us, and the changes that come so subtly that most don’t notice. We are easily distracted. He grabs our attention over there, while quietly yet effectively changes things over here through people who have been successfully… deceived. Then by the time we are engaged again with what’s happening, it’s too late.

The trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor who is charged with killing five people, has gone mostly unnoticed by the media and the public at large. We weren’t paying attention. The truth is, that if most of us knew what really went on in many abortion clinics, we’d be sick. But we have been deceived. Dr. Gosnell is charged with killing one adult and four viable babies aborted in his clinic. It’s crazy. I read about a hospital where an aborted baby was born alive. It was placed outside the Neonatal ICU to die, while inside, other babies, wanted babies, were receiving the best of medical care to save their lives. One life deemed worthless, while others deemed precious. Who gives us the power to make those decisions? Life is precious and should be protected. But the Deceiver asks, “What about the life of the mother? Isn’t that precious?” You show me a mother who would put her life over the life of her child, and I’ll show you a very deceived person. “Okay,” the Deceiver says, “but what about rape? Surely no one could love a life brought about by rape.” So we are willing to say that just because man meant it for evil, God cannot mean it for good? Man chooses when to have sex, God chooses when to bring life from that union.

Okay, what about marriage? There are now ten states in the United States that have legalized same sex marriage. Ten. States. We have been deceived into thinking that we have the right to define marriage. My, aren’t we something? God must have had it wrong when he said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31)

That, in effect, is marriage defined. I’m not even going to talk about homosexuality here. I’m talking about marriage. We are being deceived into thinking that the very One who defined it, instituted it, made it holy and spiritual, is wrong, and that there is nothing inherently wrong with redefining it to mean what sounds more loving and tolerant. “Marriage is about commitment, and love. Does it really matter who the commitment and love involve? The world, the Deceiver, would like for us to believe there isn’t. Oh, it’s mostly about benefits and such, really. And aren’t we a country based on equality for all? Well, aren’t we?

And what about freedom of religion? It’s beginning to sound more and more like we have freedom from religion in this country. Often, Christians are being portrayed as obtuse, close-minded, uneducated, bumbling fools. We are the unenlightened ones. We cling to religion because we cannot think for ourselves. Bit by bit, the religious freedoms we have enjoyed in this country are being taken from us. Many Christian’s believe that the Christian thing to do is to be meek, but they mistake meekness for weakness. Christians are still part of “We the People…”

So how do we get out ahead of the enemy, the Deceiver? We actively seek truth. We pray for eyes to see, and ears to hear. We pray for discernment and wisdom. And we align ourselves with others who are doing that as well. Have you heard of the Manhattan Declaration? You might want to check it out. You might even want to sign it yourself. A group of Christians, Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical, have come together, and in one document, stated what they believe is truth from God’s word on life, marriage, and religious freedom. They have managed to put away the things they disagree on, focus on these things that matter, and that if we are not careful, will be gone forever. I’m inviting you to visit www.manhattandeclaration.org. Read the declaration. Be encouraged by it. Know that there are others who are refusing to be deceived. It’s not the popular position on these issues during these modern, enlightened times. But it’s time more believers started getting out in front of the enemy. We must not be deceived.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)