Saturday, May 11, 2013

the one where I was asked to speak in front of a group of women...

I was beyond humbled and honored to be the guest speaker at a Mother's Day brunch this morning at my parents' and sister's church. In the very place that helped build my foundation.  I saw many faces that played a role in my walk with Jesus.

When my sister casually mentioned me speaking at this event back in January, I'm pretty sure I chuckled and said something real wise like, 'Ok, I'll pray about it.'  All the while thinking, I don't think so sister friend.   But Jesus would not let it go.  I mean, like heart pounding, middle of the night sweating, wouldn't let it go.  You see, I vividly remember the exact stoplight I was at in August 2009 when I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to my soul, one day you will speak to a group of women about Me.  

Allow me to share with you a bit of what I shared with those ladies this morning.

But first, I want to lay something out on the table.  In an effort to be completely transparent, I have a confession to make.  I am one big, hot mess of brokenness.   I don't want anyone to ever think that I have it all together or that I have it all figured out.  The only thing I know with complete certainty is that Jesus loves me and He was sent to put my broken pieces back together.  So, I want to share a bit of how God has used my brokenness to shape my ministry as a mother.  But in order to do that, I must first tell you  how I broke.

I grew up in a South Carolina town just a hop, skip and a jump away from the coast.    Raised by parents who took Proverbs 22:6 seriously.  We went to church.  I accepted Christ at a young age.  I even taught Sunday School when I was in high school. 

But somewhere along the way I began to believe the lies of the Enemy.  Lies screamed into the hearts of all children from the moment they draw their first breath.  Lies of unworthiness.  Lies of false beauty and false security.  

Because these lies were so easy to believe, I searched for truth in Cosmo and People magazines.  I believed the images I saw on TV and in the movies.  Images that made me believe that only women who were skinny as a rail and dressed in the latest fashion found love.  This road led me down a path of diets that turned to an eating disorder.   I chased the path of parties and popularity, as if my life depended on it.  And I followed that road straight from my hometown to Clemson.

But here's the problem with this road, it is wide and paved, well-lit and over travelled.  So, it looks normal.   Normal because it is crowded with so many people you know.

'Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.'
Matthew 7:13-14

I was on that broad road of destruction.  Just following the crowd.  Looking normal.  Living a life void of real joy and light.

It wasn't until around 2005 that I felt an uneasiness with the way I had been doing life.  I believed in Jesus, but that is where it ended.  I didn't go to church. I never read my Bible.  And I can assure you my life looked nothing like one that follows Jesus.

Then, in January 2006 I was diagnosed with carcinoma in situ 3 of the cervix, which is just one step away from cervical cancer.  I researched and researched, but never once stopped to pray.  In March ofthat same year, I had a surgical procedure to remove a portion of my cervix.  The doctor told me that the likelihood that I would be able to have children without some type of intervention was slim.  But I was only 26 and had only been dating my boyfriend {who is now my husband} for a year, so children were not on my radar. 

Over the next couple of years, the uneasiness that I felt was calmed by developing a relationship with Jesus. He slowly started to put the broken pieces back in place.  He began to bury Truth in my heart to replace the lies.  

In 2008, newly engaged and planning a wedding, I attended a Beth Moore simulcast at a local church in town.  Beth spoke on Psalm 37:4, 'Delight yourself in The Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.'  

Well, I could not get it together.  I was one big ol' blubbering fool, scared and trembling.  It was in that sanctuary, surrounded by a crowd of women and a few of my Bible study girls that I had to actually lay claim to the desire of my heart.  To be a mama.  But what if?  What if Dr. Chapman was right?

In 2010,  we found out we were pregnant.  They monitored me closely for the entire first trimester.  At my 16 week appointment, the decision was going to be made if I needed surgical intervention to keep from possibly going into labor too soon. I will never forget the doctor did an ultrasound and said, 'Well, this like never happens.  Your cervix has doubled in length from your last appointment.' 

 I cried all the way home.  I knew the One who had ordained this calling of motherhood in my life and only He was able to pull this off.   In that drive home, it was as if I heard Him out loud say to me,'I'm giving her to you, so you can give her back to Me.'

On May 20, 2011, I took one look at 
my tiny daughter and got completely lost in the deep abyss of her ocean blue eyes.  I mean, never...never ever ever could I have imagined how much I could love another soul.  The love a mama has for her child is but a mere glimpse of the love that Christ has for us.  

In that moment of brand new mommy euphoria, I did the only thing I knew to do.  I gave her back to Him.  To the very One who had created her.  The One who tells her she is fearfully and wonderfully made.  The One who knows her inner most being and knows her soul full well.  

In those first few weeks of being home with my daughter, a verse kept revealing Truth to me.  Over and over an over again, I was led back to these words.

'Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.'
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

It is only through my brokenness and tenderness that I was able to wrap myself up in His love and truth.   And in my broken state, I cling to the Mender of all things broken.  The One who is capable of making us all whole again.

I tie His truth around me neck.  I print it on my forehead.  I carve into the doorframes of our home.  I talk about Him from morning to night with my girl.  

But I don't do it perfectly.  No where close.  I don't know a mama who does.

But here is the beautiful truth.

The Lord doesn't need perfect soldiers directing our kids.  He needs imperfect servants who are willing to be guided by Him. 

Where your calling as a daughter of the King and your calling as a mother collide, the most beautiful ministry you can imagine happens.

Be lavish in love, extravagant in truth, big spenders of grace.  Let's step out this day and live this calling of motherhood worthy of the Gospel.   May we all trust God to put the broken pieces back together--He is the Mender of all things broken.   And may we boldly allow Him to shine through our cracks.  In doing so, may He shine so bright through us that the narrow gate  is brilliantly illuminated for our kids.  Let's bind His truth around our necks and write them on our doorframes.  Let's talk about Him all day long with our kids.  May Jesus' name be so familiar to our kids they seek to know Him more.  

And may all the mamas reading this know, you are the one who was called to this ministry for your kids.  Keep mothering like only you know how.  Seek His wisdom during the tough moments and accept His grace for the moments when you get it wrong.  And do yourself a favor, don't you dare ever compare your calling as a mama to that of someone else.  No two mamas are the same.  We can sing His praises for that!

Happy Mother's Day!  This weekend and every other day you do the tough job of wrangling children and carpooling hither and yon, while cooking supper and packing lunches and washing away the grime from the playground.  Let the laundry pile a little higher and the dust fall a little longer.  Spend just a few extra moments relishing in you reward from Heaven.

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