Friday, January 28, 2011


For years there were aspects of my personality that were troublesome, but I would defend them to the very end because they were just that, part of my 'personality', part of me. Especially when I got married, I had a very skewed view of what marriage was meant to be, and therefore, when I found my own identity in danger of being lost in some ways to marriage, it made me fight for my own 'personality' traits all the more.
Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having personality. It is one of my favorite things to see blossoming in my two girls, the little things that make them individuals; all the quirky-ness that only someone who is with them everyday would even notice.
But back to negative personality. describes personality as:
 1. the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others: he has a pleasing personality.
 2. a person as an embodiment of a collection of qualities: he is a curious personality.
 3. Psychology:
       a. the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual.
       b. the organized pattern of behavioral characteristics of the individual
 4. the quality of being a person; existence as a self-conscious human being; a personal identity.
I think we can all agree that the idea of 'personality' can encompass some negative aspects, qualities, characteristics, etc. in us. So should we defend it as the sum of who we are, our identity.
I've learned the answer, it's NO!
Plenty of my little ticks and quirks are harmless and even sort of fun, like the way when I'm nervous in a crowd of people I touch my face a lot. I'm sure those who know me best could offer a bunch more, but that was all I could come up with off the top of my head.
Then there are the personality traits that can grow tiresome, like the way I daydream, a lot. My creative mind is always thinking a million miles an hour it seems, and sometimes it makes it hard for me to have good conversation, because I speak where I left off in my head, but the other person didn't hear all I was thinking and so therefore is lost. How many people can relate to that? I hope a lot, because I do it pretty consistently.
Then there are the more destructive traits, like being overly defensive. I can't seem to take criticism very well at all, even in the most loving of settings, especially from people I love. I think I might actually take it better from total strangers. Anyways, whenever someone brings some sort of correction, even if they try to make it sound nice, I immediately go into defense mode, which usually looks like me trying to tell them all the reasons that their logical reasons won't work in my situation. Hahaha.
My mother use to tirelessly go through all the possible solutions to a particular problem in my life, where I would sit and shoot down every one with all my reasons why they would fail, having never tried even half of them. I was so self assured as a teenager that my logic was more sound than hers in matters that related to my  life (what teenager doesn't). So she would go on and on until finally she would say it was time for bed. Usually these long 'debates' happened in the late hours of the night when I was feeling vulnerable and would actually talk more openly.
Anyhoo, so on to personality and what I have recently been learning and reflecting on.
Nothing in my personality is set in stone except what the Lord has destined to be set in stone. You know the scripture that says He will shake everything that can be shaken....well He can do that in all areas of our lives. In mine, one of the first ones Holy Spirit began to tackle was my personality. Or at least that is how it manifested, but really He went in to kill all the lies I had believed for years.
Have you ever had something in your life, a habit, quirk, an area of sin or temptation, and you were so set in living that particular way, that you could no longer imagine a different way for yourself? 
For the sake of an example, lets look back at my defensive behavior trait. As you can probably imagine, it is not a good trait to have in general, but especially not in marriage where 'debates' come up a lot in the beginning years. Thank the Lord that my husband is stronger than me, and can do some pretty fancy verbal footwork. He doesn't have all the soft spoken compassion or endless patience of my mother, but I guess I am glad for that now, because he was able to see what the hang up was and cut to the chase.
He would confront me and say, 'Why are you being so defensive, all I said was isn't there a better system we can use to get the laundry done and not leave it sitting in the dryer for days?" (disclaimer, that may not be an exact quote of Ken, he doesn't like it when I misquote, but this is how I remember it going)
I also can't remember exactly how that particular debate ended, but I do remember thinking, "I'm not defensive, I'm just sure that your ways won't work."
As time went on and I drew closer to the Lord and my husband had more of these types of confrontations, Holy Spirit began to show me that these things that I had always labeled as my 'personality' were a problem and not okay. When that truth hit me it was a hard blow, because I was able to see that these things were a problem for the first time, but I was also convince that there was nothing to be done about them. They were who I was, so the Lord would have to change Ken, right?
Well I can happily say now that the Lord can do a lot about our bad characteristics. Even the things we think are so ingrained in us that there is nothing that could change our mindset or our habit. In my little journey I have also discovered that the root of our unhelpful qualities is usually not what we suspect them to be. Mine weren't at all rooted in what I thought they were. Pride and arrogance weren't the root of my defensiveness, shame and rejection were!
As the Lord began to deal with the roots of shame and rejection in my life, (you can read about my radical deliverance story here), a lot of the bad habits I had started to grow less and less. It wasn't that I didn't have the urge to still do it the old way, it was that I understood who my true identity was in Christ and it was just easier to do the right things, the good things.
Today I am righting about all of this, because as I laid in bed one night, a week ago, thinking about 2010 and all the changes in our lives, I heard the Lord whisper to me, "Only with the Lord, can He change our personalities without us feeling as though we have lost anything or done anything impossible." That may not be exact, it was a week ago, give me a break if it doesn't make complete sense now that I'm fully awake. Ha!
I took it to mean, though, that nothing is impossible with Him, even the things that we are convinced are immovable or unchangeable. I thought my quirks were unchangeable because I had sincerely tried to change them numerous times on my own and failed miserably every time! When the Lord decides to move in that area of our life though, nothing will stay the same. It took my invitation though, in desperation for my marriage I prayed, "Lord change Ken, and show me what You want me to do in the mean time." That is how it all started, and I am so thankful that He answered such a weak prayer. Such a misdirected prayer!
So be encouraged, if the Lord begins to touch an area of your life, and you notice increased turmoil in that area, (if you know Christ), ask the Lord what He is doing and partner with Him in it. If there is an area that you have tried to change on your own more than once and failed, start with praying about it. 
Don't pray a couple prayers and then go on a mission to see it changed in the next few weeks and months (probably mostly in your own power again). Just wait, keep doing what you are doing, and every time you think about that thing you struggle with, just give it back to Him, say something like, "Look, I messed up again, would You change my mindset Lord, show me what to do next time."
You will probably fail a lot more times, but it is the process. Fruit doesn't grow overnight, which is why the Lord whispered what He did to me as I laid in bed reflecting on the year. I hadn't really thought about all the changes He had made in my 'personality' in the past year, they were so gradual and simple as they came about that I barely noticed them and I certainly didn't feel like I was being transformed. He took that time in bed to draw my attention to all the work He had been accomplishing in me, and it gave me hope for this coming year, all that He will do to transform me even more!
So I end with blessings to all who read this, Lord do in their hearts what they don't feel is even possible for them! Break in and make the changes. Find the root and eradicate it! Only with Your gentle touch is all this made possible for those who love You! Amen.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Practical Meal Planning Update...

Ok after a really heavy post about stillness, I am going to follow up on an earlier post about practical meal planning and tell a funny story in the process.
So if you haven't read it, please look it up in the list at the side, I wrote it in December 2010, and although most of what I put in there is still in practice, one of the items needs amending.
We are no longer meatless five days a week!!!
After two months of going meatless, my husband caught on that he wasn't getting much meat. There had been a miscommunication it seems and one night, after serving him a meatless dinner which I thought was fabulous, he told me how he really felt about things. The conversation went something like this.
"Wow, aren't these beans and rice amazing, I mean, I think this is the best version I've come up with so far," says me.
Ken mumbles something about it being "ok" and keeps eating.
I keep going: "really don't you think this is just amazing!"
Ken looks up at me incredulous.
"What?" I say.
Ken: "you want me to say something is amazing that I don't think is amazing, it doesn't have any meat in it."
Me laughing: "well you should get use to it since we are meatless during the week."
Ken in shock: "Meatless, I never agreed to that"
Me: "Yes you did."
Ken: "When."
I recall for Ken the specific time that we discussed it and he was sitting at the computer and I was sitting on the couch, and he says, "Aha, I was on the computer, did I say yes?"
Me: "yes"
Ken: "I probably wasn't listening" and so we hash out the reality that we have been meatless for two months already and that we are saving money and how expensive even just conventionally grown meat is....ugh.
It all ends with him reminding me that when we first got married he told me he wasn't picky when it came to meals, he just liked to have meat and a veggie for dinner most nights.
So, I let the subject drop and tried to figure out a way for us to get more meat without breaking the bank. The very next day I went to Target and prayed a little half hearted prayer as I walked into the store.
"Lord, if you want us to have more meat, you are gonna have to put it on sale," and then I went on.
Well low and behold, both the grass fed beef and the 'just bare' chicken was on sale that day, and for more off per pound than I have ever seen!!! So I stocked up on more than usual, but still couldn't afford to buy more than a months worth of meat.
So I went home though with faith and joy burning in my heart, ready to make my man some meat for dinner. (actually I can't remember if we had meat that night, or leftover beans and rice, hahaha)
Then, so in the next week, we got some Christmas money, and then a day or so later, our boss tells us that he has just slaughtered his organic cows and has the meat processed and ready to sell off to his friends and family. The price he asked for it was way less than store bought organic beef, and I felt great knowing the farmer personally.
So I ordered a large sum of meat from him, and the day he brought my order over, he calls to tell me he shot a deer and processed it also and I'm free to have the whole thing!!! Most people would probably not be as thrilled as me to have deer meat, but I was practically raised on it, and love to cook with it.
So in the course of two weeks we went from being mostly meatless, to being well stocked in meat. I am still going meatless a few days a week, but I know now that when we need to buy more, all I need do is pray in the sales and supplies.
Side note, if you are eating at my house for dinner, and I am serving a dinner with meat in it and it isn't obviously chicken, you'd better ask if you have a problem with deer. If you don't ask, I may forget to tell, and in the long run, I'm a pretty decent cooker of deer and you may never be able to tell the difference anyways. I have however met some beloved individuals in my life that can not cope with the idea of eating deer, go figure.


It is such a rare thing in my life, and a virtue that I have worked hard to set aside time for in my mothering lifestyle in the last few years. I realized the value of finding time to be 'still before the Lord' when I was a new mother and I was invited to join a contemplative prayer group. The group was conveniently set after 7pm so that mommies could come without their babies and I will always be grateful for that first taste of quietness training.
I was won over in a heart beat! Turns out it was just what my mother heart needed in that season, to learn how to sit quietly and learn how to hear the Lord's voice better.
The woman who started the prayer group would start off with communion, and then all us moms would grab a hot cup of tea and go into her dimly lit living room. She would have soft instrumental music playing in the back ground and we would all grab a comfy seat, and have our Bibles and nothing else.
Then we would just sit there, waiting quietly for the Lord to speak to us. I always chose the spot closest to the fireplace, and I would just stare off into the flames as I prayed a quick invitation in my heart.
An invitation something like this, 'Lord, thank you for this time, please come and speak to me, here I am, so let me hear Your voice,' prayed in my head, and then I would just sit and wait.
Sometimes I wouldn't hear anything really, or I would spend the majority of the time trying to calm my thoughts down and stop thinking about my grocery list waiting at home. You know the thoughts that come in when we try to quiet ourselves, they run something like this....
"Lord, I love you, speaking of love, did I kiss my husband before I left tonight, oh, did I kiss the girls, they will want bananas for breakfast tomorrow morning, I will have to get some more at the store tomorrow, oh, I'm almost out of eggs too, and bread...."
And so on. It is pathetic and counter productive, but it is also reality some of the time. When I would battle these thoughts the worse, that is when I would bust out the Word. Reading about the Lord is the best way to bring my focus back to Him.
So enough of all the times that I struggled though, it can't be prefect all the time. The times that the Lord really met me made it all worth it! Sometimes He would give me revelation on a dream I had or He would give me insight into a situation I was encountering with my daughter, or He would bring to mind something I had asked Him about a scripture and give me a new understanding on it. Sometimes He would just impart peace to my heart, and I would be washed in a calmness after a day of stress. No matter how the Lord chose to touch me, it was always just what I needed.
Most nights I would go home on a cloud, so excited that the Lord had met with me and I had heard Him so clearly that I could barely fall asleep.
That season was a very important one for me to, number one, learn the value of setting aside quiet time for the  Lord to speak, and secondly to learn how to hear His voice clearly and recognize it apart from my own.
So often we ask the Lord to speak to us, but we are not in a position to hear His answer, either we are not familiar enough with the sound of His voice, or we are not in a quiet place to hear His still small voice. Certainly there are times that the Holy Spirit 'shouts' to get our attention, but for the every day sorts of conversations, it is a small whisper in our hearts that He chooses to use to communicate with us, and one that can easily be confused with our thoughts, if we don't know how to discern the difference.
Some people have a greater measure of discernment, I do not in most cases, I had to practice and learn what the Lord's words sounded like in my head. Holy Spirit has a very distinct way of speaking to me, and I am so thankful now that I took that season to learn how to distinguish His voice better.
As an application of how my thoughts run and how the Lord interjects His, it sometimes runs something like this...
"Lord I love you, help me to know what to do with Kinsey, she is peeing her pants all the time these days. Should I just spank her every time, or should I offer better treats for when she goes on the potty? Why doesn't she want to use the potty?
Enter Holy Spirit, "you should just relax and let her go back to diapers."
Me, "But she knows how to use the potty, she was potty trained for over two months, I can't just give up,"
Holy Spirit, "let it go, it is not worth stressing about it,"
Me "I won't fail, I can't fail, she won't move up in the CEC if she isn't potty trained by three, her friends are potty training just fine, what did I do wrong,"
Holy Spirit, "just relax, fear and anxiety are not from the Lord...."
And so on. I put her back in diapers, even though I still felt like a failure, and a few months later, my daughter was ready to keep her panties dry, all by herself. Lord, you know all things, and my stress added nothing to the picture.
So this post is to encourage women and mother's everywhere to again find time for the Lord in your everyday life, again. Haha, I know it seems to be a common theme in my posts lately, but He wants to speak to you about the most simple of matters. He wants to wow you with new revelation, but you have to set your heart to hear Him. He won't always shout, so you must learn the skill of stillness.
One thing I just read in my book by Elisabeth Elliot "Keep a Quiet Heart" really stirred me to again set specific time to sit quietly before the Lord, ready to receive directly from His hand.
She says, "Silence is one form of worship. When the seventh seal was opened (in the book of Revelation), there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. What would happen in our homes if we should try to prepare ourselves for those heavenly silences by having just one half-hour when there was no door slamming, no TV, no stereo or video, and a minimum of talk, in quiet voices? Wouldn't  it also be a calming thing just to practice the stillness which is the absence of motion?"
From experience I know the rewards of making this discipline a staple in my week. I'm not able to do it every day, but when I find myself alone in the house and all the babies sleeping quietly, I do often feel the prompting of Holy Spirit to sit quietly and wait before the Lord. In the times that I obey that prompting, I am usually rewarded with some new insight or revelation, and if not something tangible, at least I come away from the time of quiet feeling refreshed and filled with peace.
Amen for peace!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Supernatural Grace - it's real!!!

Wow, so Happy New Year everyone!
I brought in the new year at home doing a puzzle by myself drinking white tea with so much honey in it, it was more like a dessert. Sigh.
It may sound drab, but after having my house stuffed full of house guests for four days, having a night to myself in a quiet house was like the best kind of treat.
But onto my main topic for today, supernatural grace! It is real, and my life was just a living example of it for a little over four days.
The Tuesday after Christmas was the day OneThing started in Kansas City! For those who don't know, OneThing is a young adult conference that is put on by the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, and almost everyone who has ever been or thought to be at IHOP comes out for OneThing. It is the biggest event the House of Prayer puts on every year at no cost to the people who attend. It's amazing!
So a lot of people come, and a lot of the peopel who come are not able to afford the hotel prices down by the convention center, so almost every IHOP family I know hosts people in their house; friends, family, and even strangers.
This year was our first year to do so, and I was so excited. The day before I made my house as spotless as I could manage with two babies, and then the crowds came. We had three guys sleeping in our living room, a guy sleeping downstairs with one of our room mates, our two room mates, and a girl who shared my bedroom with me, while Ken slept on the floor in the living room. It was a full house, but so much fun.
The night everyone arrived I did not get to sleep until after midnight because some of our guests did not arrive until late, but even after that, I still could not sleep. I was so excited for all the great fellowship I knew I would have that it was like waiting for Christmas morning.
So bright and early I got up and made myself a cup of coffee, and then everyone else woke up when my babies came into the kitchen for their breakfast, go figure. Everyone ended up in the kitchen. Ken was rocking the French Press and people were cooking eggs and making oatmeal. I was tending babies in the midst of it, and the whole scene worked so harmoniously I was shocked.
I am not a morning person in general, and I don't handle stress very well at all, so the fact that I was so calm and even enjoying this early morning scene was supernatual to me. I could feel the Lord's peace all over me as I manuevered around people and helped to clean up the beds from the living room. It was like when you have a dream, and you know you're playing the part of someone else, but it feels natural at the same time to be 'them'.
I knew I should have been on the edge of freak out mode, but I was calm, collected, gracious, kind, and patient above all things. It was wildly cool.
Even now I'm looking back at those four days of visitors in my house and I know it was not me in those moments. I would have been sharp with my words, yelling at my kids, grumbling to my husband, and/or running away completely and letting my house fall apart.
In the Lord's goodness to me, I was in the mix the whole time, I made sure the house was clean after everyone would leave for the day, I tried to make extra food, and I kept my children out of our guests bags. The girls napped on time, and they only watched a few movies. I'm telling you, it was supernatural!!!
There were several times throughout the whole thing where I kept thinking, when is this great feeling of ease going to lift and leave me in freak out mode, but it never left until after the guests were all gone and my house was clean again.
Then it was a noticable shift. It was suddenly harder than before to say yes graciously to my children and super hard to be motivated to do anything domestic. I was tired and I wanted sugar more than anything else. I slept a lot that day, and then I spent the next day asking the Lord why I couldn't be that 'other' person all the time?
I felt like He said I could, though, and so I asked Him how, and I don't know that He has really answered me, but when I have found myself in situations that could be stressful, I think to myself something like this:
'What would that other 'me' have done in this situation?" and then I try to do it that way. It works out some times, but other times I still find myself on the edge of freak out mode.
So who was that other 'me' you may ask? It was Jesus living through me at a greater level I'm convinced, and it was such a beautiful thing for me to experience. It wasn't all rosy and unreal, it was real life with two babies and a bunch of house guests and I had a supernatural Grace flowing through me. Sigh.
Oh well, I've had a taste now of what supernatural Grace is like, and I'm addicted. I was a better mother, wife and friend those couple of days, in general that is, and I would like to operate in that mode more often.
One of my reasons for writing it in a blog is so that this miracle is recorded somewhere to remind myself that it really did happen this way, so I can believe for other Grace miracles in the future.
Be blessed!