Anyone want to see Sarah Mae and me at Focus on the Family?Tuesday !

desperateHi, Friends,

Sarah Mae and I will taping a show for Focus on the Family to discuss Desperate this coming Tuesday, August 26, at 9:30 a.m. and we would love to have you in our audience and will be available to say hi after the taping. If you would like to join us, you have to register, as they have limited seating. Here is the information:

Here’s info from FOTF: If you would like to attend a taping, please note the following information:
Seating is reserved. Please call (719) 531-3400 and ask for extension 1907 to reserve a seat.
Children under the age of 10 are restricted from attending broadcast tapings. Additionally, there are occasions when the subject matter is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18. If this is the case, the information will be available when you make your reservation to attend a taping.
Please call a day or two before your planned visit to learn of any schedule changes.
If you are not able to attend, please call the above number to let us know. We appreciate your thoughtfulness.

It would be so fun for us to see you and have a full house! Hope you can join us! Tell your friends! See you soon!

Remembering That I Am Not God

file7231336594871

“I am imperfect and no matter how hard I try, my children will never be perfect. But when I am resting in the life I have in Christ, my children, in spite of me, still have the opportunity to turn out okay. God is their true source of life, just as He is my source of life, and I am just a tool in His hands that He uses to communicate His life to them. In the end, He is in charge of their souls’ destinies. I have learned to live freely in this knowledge, balancing the tension of ideals and reality by enjoying His constant love and help.”
-The Mom Walk

While striving to maintain ideals in your household is important, no mother will ever be capable of perfection (no matter how hard we try). The hard work you accomplish matters–every meal, each candle lit, the stories read, the morning devotions, the hugs and kisses, many prayers–it is the most valuable work. However, allow yourself grace and remember that while you are their mother, you are not their God.

God has trusted you with these sweet children who will look to you as the example, giving your children a healthy pattern that they can follow.  When they become adults and are living on their own, they will have memories and examples of how to face their own problems because they have a godly picture of it from the life of their mother. While your great influence in their lives is significant, it is crucial that you remember to rest in the love of Christ, knowing that at the end of the day, He is in charge. Take a deep breath, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself today.

Take a moment today to have a quiet time and bible study, reading over these verses and meditating on them, as well as the questions below.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
-Proverbs 19:21

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
-Romans 8:28

In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”
-Job 12:10

Ask yourself:
-Am I putting so much pressure on being the perfect mother that I am attempting to take on the role of God?
-How can I better allow God to help and take control in my life, as well as the lives of my children?
-How can I allow myself to rest in the help and love of God today?

Why don’t the mountains make me cry no more?

mountains pink sky

Why don’t the mountains make me cry no more?

They don’t sing the way they did before
They’re just piles of stone as dead as bones
Like corpses on a field of war
And they just don’t make me cry no more.

Andrew Peterson

(a favorite singer/songwriter of our family)

The Last Frontier

Listen Here.

Music is the poetry of our generation, the voice of our fears, thoughts, emotions, giving reality to what we store in our hearts. And so, this song reflected my own, and Joy’s,  heart’s words. And so slowly we are taking some time to come back to life.

Sitting on the front porch, sipping tea in the late afternoon caught Joy and me creaking slowly in our white rocking chairs and trying to breathe in life. “Mama, I was so tired and worn to the bone when I came home from school this year, that I couldn’t even feel how pretty everything was any more. It was like I was in a fog.”

Remember when, as a little girl, you would see a shooting star or sit by the firelight of a bonfire and roast marshmallows or catch lightening bugs in the early dark of a summer’s night and all was delight to your soul. Just being alive was exciting and every day had the possibility of something wonderful?

Taking the temperature of our souls is essential to staying alive. I have felt so crowded in my life that I have hardly had room to breathe. Sometimes I know that the sunrise is beautiful, but my heart doesn’t sing when I see it anymore. This is the moment I say, “No matter what, I will take time for rest for my soul, time alone, time away from machines, time for music and sleeping, and not answering the phone. Time for walks and lots of hot drinks, or a hot bath, or a moonlit walk under the stars…

I have gathered delights that help me restore my own heart to wonder because I want to appropriately be childlike before Him to marvel, to breathe, to be amazed.

What helps you restore? What brings you back to your old true self? Keep stock of your heart now, so that you may stay alive to God.

Guard your heart, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

 

 

 

Making the Journey Together

mother-child-reading

 

Today I find my heart in reflection mode. Looking back. Remembering. Reaching back so that I can propel forward.

Another academic year has arrived and for most families that brings a time of planning and new beginnings.

To plan well, we first must reflect and take stock of what is going well and what needs to be adjusted. Sometimes we can just look back to yesterday and sometimes we have to go all the way back to where it began. That’s where my heart is today.

Recalling this now 7-year journey of homeschooling and wondering how I got here and how that first day of bringing Emma home from public school has become so many days of doing life together with some very dear friends: moms who go against the grain, swim upstream, and live outside of the box of societal norms.

My heart remembers the night I stood in our church hallway and poured out my insecurities to a veteran homeschooling mom who told me, “I was enough.” When I tried to convince her I was out of my league, she gently reminded me that if God gave me children, then I was the perfect choice for them and them for me. In her mind, her words may have just been noise from her lips but for me they were fuel to the kindling of the fire God was stirring in my soul.

Motherhood was always my dream yet not completely my vision. It hadn’t happened easily. Too many negative tests that disappointed, too many miscarriages had added bricks to the walls around my heart. Too many baby showers for other people had left me empty of vision for a family of my own. Too many glimpses into other families to believe my mess of a life could be a place of haven and harbor for little souls to flourish.

And like a crash landing, Emma Grace slammed into our lives at 27 weeks gestation. This two-pound medical mess with insurmountable odds had given me the title: mommy. Educating her was not even on the radar. Simply keeping her alive one day at a time was consuming. After watching God’s miracles over and over again in her little body, somehow those days added up and it was time for kindergarten. What now?

Seeking counsel and doing our research, we decided to place her in the public school system’s special education environment. God had already lined up the teacher and assistant who would love her and care for her while my body went through even more pregnancies and loss and then finally our last child was born, completing God’s vision for our family.

Four years later, through a series of events that God allowed and used to prepare my heart, we brought her home and began our journey and life style of home schooling. It is the journey I most enjoy in life. I had never known what title to give this “style” of life…this way of living as a family. It isn’t about the curriculum, the books, the meetings, the field trips…it’s about our belief that God put us together in a family for a reason and we are to fulfill His plan of touching the world for eternity through our home. We Parris-people are to be a team that becomes the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting and empty world. We are to love God supremely, serve others diligently, live intentionally, and laugh loudly and often!

This crazy, unpredictable life isn’t just for those who educate at home. Where our children receive their education is far less important than how we live and function as a family…inside the walls of shelter God provides. This life, this intentional, on-purpose pursuit of truth and seeking ways to live fully and following Godly principles…this is the journey worth taking.

And on this journey, an amazing byproduct of living life hard and well is the journey-mates we meet along the way. Kindred spirits who get why we do life the way we do. Friends who fall in step and love us in our mess. People who understand that we are at best…frail, human sinners who happen to love God and try each day to just be a bit better than yesterday.

These people…they make the journey fun. They make the trip bearable when the road has potholes that threaten to pull us under. They hold our arms up when we grow weary. They celebrate our success, cheer our achievements, shelter our failures and soften our heartaches.

How blessed my journey is because of these journey-mates. These amazing people are MINE…friends who I don’t deserve, iron-sharpening souls who I couldn’t have imagined would do life with me, and deep, abiding kindred spirits that I don’t want to live without!

Who are the journey-mates God has placed on your path. Love them well, serve them fully, and hold their hearts securely. We only get this life journey once!

 

My life issues are just not as big as they seem.

Georgios Jakobides The First Steps

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me. Psalm 131

Turning 61 has given me perspective. I have lived through so many seasons of difficulties, illnesses, phases of children’s lives, financial crisis, car wrecks, friendship difficulties, miscarriages, teenagers, depression–

as well as celebrations, accomplishments, family memories, traditions, loving and being loved, cooking a gazillion meals, staying up too late for thousands of nights, by having precious moments nursing babies, listening to the secrets of inner-most-hearts, traveling and memorable ministry moments, God’s hidden and constant faithfulness, moonlit nights—well you get it.

Life never stops and issues never cease–one goes away and another comes.

But there have been times when I did not carry the heavy burdens well.

Part of this was God’s stretching my capacity, shaping my character, trusting me with tests of faith so difficult it was hard to breathe. But, I wish I had known that no matter how hard, He would take me through, little by little and that I would still live, even in times I thought I would certainly crater. If only I had sung a little bit more and rested my heart, even when my schedule and body had no rest.

Then there were so many times when the busyness of life–ear infections, 4 children, thousands of sleepless nights, no baby-sitters or support systems to alleviate the stress–but somehow, I lived. God had confidence in my future when I could not see beyond the next day.

But when I would try to carry myself through these burdensome places, I created even more stress for myself, but not just learning to yield, every day, the burdens and questions and insecurities that seemed so overwhelming. He who has shepherded thousands of years of humans through all possible crisis, is able to carry me securely through the times I have been given to live.

I have noticed that when I am too busy and have taken responsibilities on my shoulders that only God can or should carry, I become harsher. When I am too busy and have overcommitted, I lose a love for the things that are normally important to me.  I care less for the lost; have little patience for my children; tend to see people as irritating (What was that driver in that car thinking? Can’t believe anyone would drive that way! or “That lady was soooooo slow in the check out line at Walmart!)

God becomes a distant thought that I glance toward with guilt thinking He must be disappointed with me because I just haven’t had time for Him, but I have just been so busy………

Fretting is also a part–Fretting about money, life, family, children, church, ministry, duties, Christmas, gifts, housework, burdens–fretting, fretting–taking so much energy, so much thought life—and the Psalms say, “Fret not, it leads only to evil doing.” (Psalm 37:8)

And then I tend to become cynical. “I do so much, and there is no one to help.” And of course, “If I don’t do it or take responsibility, no one else will.”

It is so easy to begin to live a works oriented life, and then to think without me, things will fall apart. Then I become weary. Then I say, “Lord, don’t you care that I am drowning?!” or “Tell Mary to come in here. I am doing all the work myself!”

God is not biting His nails wondering if I am going to get it all done. He is not the great abuser in heaven just waiting to give me more than I can handle. And so, slowly, I have had to learn, if I am consistently feeling too much stress, too much weight on my shoulders, I have not given it to Him and or, I am attempting to do things that He has never asked or expected me to do.

Jesus did not go into the world Himself. He stayed local, humble, quiet, and yet His message, in God’s hands, changed the world.

“I am humble and meek. Learn from me.” Again, I learn from this verse.

If He was humble and not in a hurry and still accomplished God’s will–and not all the blind and sick were healed, then I can trust these mysteries into His hands.

A good father would not expect his little child to carry the load. He would carry the load and the fragile child.

I find I have so much on my plate to do, that the only thing I can do is re-access; cut back; only focus on the agenda that He has set.

Burning out

I am old enough to have lived through so many women who burned out–in ministry, in homeschooling, in jobs, in ideals—burn, burn, burn and then all that is left is ashes. It is a cultural value to be busy and to justify ourselves by our activities.

Last Spring, I met with a young woman. She said, as many young women have said, “Sally, God is just opening so many doors for me, I just have to be a good steward of my opportunities.” (as her exhausted teen daughter was pushing her toddler in a stroller behind her, and complaining that her mom just never had time for her.) This happens to me a lot–young women who have stars in their eyes from money that can be made, audiences that can be found, numbers that can build up.

Quitting ideals because of circumstances

I have never had more opportunities come my way as now, but I have to monitor what I see going on in my heart and soul,  which are constantly drained daily for years on end. If I do not have a full heart, I know I will be tempted to compromise ideals that I have always believed. Culture gives us permission to quit, to stop and compromise ideas and so, I become  convicted that I need to cut back. I am pulling back from expectations of others in order to keep being able to walk with God and please Him. . Pulling back from stress. And simplifying. Quieting my soul.

He needs to be at my center. I need to have peace and quiet in my soul. I can say “no!” no matter how many people there are who seem to need me, so that I can still and quiet my soul. ‘When I wait on Him, I see His power, His provision, His answers–always so much better than me, tiny, little me, trying to play the role of God, when all He wanted me to do was to seek Him, rest in Him and listen to His voice.

So many times the examples He left me–David and Goliath; Joshua marching around a wall; a Jewish nation born from a single child; the fish and the loaves, the oil that was enough every day to make one more loaf.

I am a baby to God, his toddler, “like a weaned child, I will not involve myself in things too difficult for me.”

God is in control.

He does not want to abuse me. He does not want me to be neurotic and angry. He wants me to be at peace–sleeping in the boat in the midst of the storm,  because I am “leaning on my Father’s strong arms.”

And so, I am waiting on Him before I venture out–the opportunities will always be there, but now is a good time to pace myself, to still my soul, to seek to live more simply, to say yes to my God-given priorities and no to all that will take me away. I could do lots more, but then I would become crazy and grumpy and tight and hard to live with, and living by my own flesh and striving and works–and I cannot hold His hand and behave in such a manner all at the same time.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.Psalm 62: 1

So, today, on this very busy day, I know that my soul will only find rest in Him–His will, His way!

What are your stresses? Your fears? Your heartbreak or burdens? Have you kept them in perspective in light of eternity?

You probably have many more decades of life to live through–don’t forget that this is just a season, a moment in time. Leave it in His hands and learn at every turn in the road, and like a weaned child, rest.