a question that keeps confronting me

I’ve been quiet around these here parts. Mainly because of that whole “homeschooling thing.” But on the bright side, my kids and I have all survived ten solid days of schooling. Praise Jesus. Only 170 more to go.

But in the backdrop of everyday life, I’ve had a phrase swimming around in me. Behind schooling and dinner prep and grocery shopping and motherhood and marriage and the pursuit of various writing projects…and everything else, a question keeps confronting me.

 

In this moment,
am I quenching or stirring up
God’s Spirit?

 

And I can’t seem to get around the black-and-white-ness of the thought.

 

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Now for a little Spirit talk.

The Bible’s clear that once we come to faith in Jesus, we’re “sealed” with the Spirit of God Himself (which is totally rock-our-world amazing). Basically, that’s a permanent sealing. A permanent mark. A permanent pointing to Jesus. A permanent Source of healing and sanctifying power in us. In fact I’ve sometimes wondered if we as Christ-followers glow or something in the spirit realm. Like glow worms. But that’s not in the Bible and I digress.

The Bible also has a lot to say about the correlation between our actions and faith in relation to the movement of the Spirit of God in and through us. Meaning that the things I believe and meditate upon — which become what I act upon — play a part in stirring Him up or extinguishing His fire.

For example. When I spend all my sweet time thinking about someone’s hurtful words rather than the truths my God says about me, I become bitter. And bitterness makes me spiritually deaf.

Whereas, when I hear someone’s hurtful words, but instead of thinking on those words over and over and over again I choose to turn my heart and mind to what God says, then forgiveness and intercession flow from my mouth. Choosing to think on true things stirs up God’s Spirit in me and from Him alone comes love and mercy.

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 5:19

 

I don’t know how all that shakes out in the spirit realm because all is grace — His sealing, His speaking to us, His movement through us, His conviction of us, His sanctification of us. All of it is His doing by His grace. But somehow, someway, a correlation exists between my beliefs and choices, and how He moves in and through me.

I know that bitterness, complaining, faithlessness, unforgiveness, unlove, gossip, and fear grieves Him. (Ephesians 4:30) Because that kind of stuff is sourced in our flesh. And when we submit to our flesh, we extinguish His fire.

Whereas worshipping God as He’s revealed Himself in His Word, praying Scripture, and praising Jesus for His gracious sacrifice causes us to enter into the flow of the Spirit of God. Those kinds of things stir Him up in us. And when He’s stirred, love, healing, kindness, hope, joy, and power erupt. (Acts 1:8) And that’s when life gets really good.

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5:22-23)

 

We can’t explain God. We can’t manipulate a movement of His Spirit. We can’t put a formula to His power or smoosh Him into a nice, neat box. We can’t tame or control Him. We can only know what He reveals. And the Father has revealed that He, by His Spirit, indwells believers. The very same Spirit that fell on the early church and moved mightily through people with the gospel of Jesus Christ makes His home in you and me. Astounding.

So today we’ll live our lives. We’ll go do the stuff we’ve scribbled on our lists. But maybe we’ll live life a little more thoughtfully and purposefully. Maybe we’ll ask The Lord to show us when our heart meditations actually put out His fire. And when, by His grace and power, He reveals our submission to our flesh rather than to His Spirit, maybe we’ll choose to stir Him up instead. By His grace. For His glory.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How have you seen this play out in your own daily living?
 

for when we want to quit and run away {homeschool}

I was only three days in, people. Three. Days. We (loosely) homeschooled last year for the first time which was…interesting. And hard. And hard. (Yep. Double-hard.) But I headed into this fresh year-two with optimism and a (sometimes fake) smile.

We bought new school supplies. We went shoe shopping. I got a big map rug and big map puzzle and big map beach ball, because that’s what homeschool people do. I was ready — like jaw-clinched, this-thing-aint-taking-me-down-this-time ready.

And three days in, I melted. Crumbled. Collapsed under the weight of three kids at three different levels asking eight million two hundred forty-six thousand three hundred sixteen questions an hour. Crumbled.

 

quit and run away homeschool confesssion

 

Halfway through the third morning I told my children that I was officially done. (They thought I meant for the day, but I really mean for.ever.) And then I locked myself in the bathroom with a crazed-look in my eye going through a mental roladex of every single school in a twenty-mile radius of our home wondering if I could still enroll them for this Fall. Bye freakin’ bye.

Don’t you feel so sorry for me with my first-world problems.

Breathe.

Then I had a moment of clarity from Jesus and sent out a tearful SOS to some dear friends, and to my mother, for prayer. Because I was (hormonally) desperate for some clarification that I was even on the right road with this h@m&$c#00l insanity. And that if I was to continue in this…journey…that God needed to do something really huge in me because I was certain that I would lose my ever-loving mind teaching my precious boy to read. For the love!

Three. Days. In.

My mom told me to bring the kids over so that I could have some time to refocus. She took them to the pool. I sat in her kitchen with Jesus and asked Him to talk to me. And in my spirit, I heard Him say, “Lara, what do you want?”

What do I want?

I knew what He meant. I knew that He meant, “What desires have I put in you in recent months as you have spent time worshipping me?” (Psalm 37:4) So I got a scrap piece of paper and started a list.

“I want them to know you and love you more than they know and love anything else on this planet. And I want to reflect you to them.” Pause. Crickets. Pause. “And I want them to learn this stuff that I’ve bought to teach them. I want them to learn it. But I need help. I need wisdom. I need some space to myself at times! I don’t know what the heck I’m doing and I feel like I’m suffocating.” I can be a little dramatic.

Then, I can’t really trace how it all happened, but He led my thoughts to some practical things we could change with regard to how we schedule our day. He calmed me internally and guided me externally (through YouTube and the blog-o-sphere and friends). He lifted my head. He kept me from running. And the next day, the changes He led me to make actually worked for us! Imagine that.

 

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

 

I’m not one of those who always wanted to homeschool. And I’m not one who thinks that homeschooling is the only best choice. In fact, if I’m totally honest, I fight against jealousy as I watch my friends on Instagram wave good-bye to their sweet little people while I bury myself in phonics sounds and stories of explorers in the New World. Which I am totally dumb about. But homeschooling is where God has our family this year. And I believe that He’s led us here for good, holy reasons. And He’s meeting us right in the midst of it with blessings of Himself, now five days in.

Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean we’re on the wrong road. In fact, anything that strips us of self and teaches us greater dependence on Jesus is a gift.

These days, homeschooling is my personal messy place. It’s not earth-shattering or world-altering yet, but it’s where we are. And wherever we find ourselves — whatever the mess, big or small — God can be found. He wants to be found. And whenever we press into Him, He ushers in His peace and joy and love and hope and wisdom for our journey. Amen for grace.

And a word to those who are now worried for me or my children, I promise I’m OK. God is faithfully meeting me. He’s showing me His blessings in this journey. And…I adore my kids.

 
Fill me, Lord…

Want to join me in baring your soul? Share a time when you felt like running away but you pressed into God and He lifted your head.

 

a mindset that could change our relationships

I had a few other blog posts that I could have posted today. You know, ones that actually address the current state of our world and how so much is broken and sick and needy. But I decided to go a different route for this Friday. I decided to share a really crazy idea…

What if we decided to believe that everyone is doing their very best given their situation, their faith (or lack thereof), and their circumstances at that particular moment in time? What if we began there? What if we met people there? I’m thinking it would change our relationships.

 

change relationships

 

It would probably stop us from gossiping and slandering. Because gossiping and slandering assumes that the other person is not doing their very best. And we would probably stop criticizing. Because criticism births out of pride or jealousy, both of which are revealed and challenged and eventually demolished when we set our eyes on Jesus instead of on the weaknesses or mistakes of others.

I don’t know. All of this hit me when I was recently in Starbucks and I overheard four sweet, good-intentioned, slightly-naive college students talking about what makes a parent a good parent. It was…precious. And they were doing their very best with that conversation given their situation and circumstances. But one of their conclusions: A good parent has sanitary, clean kids. In other words, having dirty kids means you’re a bad parent. Dirty = bad. Clean = good. Y’all. I died.

I mean, just last night at dinner, I watched as my sweet, 8-year-old boy got ketchup on his elbow. Instead of grabbing a napkin he spent a solid minute trying to lick it off. And when he couldn’t reach it with his tongue, he gave up and left the ketchup on his elbow with a quickly whispered, “Can’t reach.” Instead of grabbing the napkin. People, I cannot control his state of cleanliness. I’ve tried. It’s mind-numbing.

But those young college girls were doing their very best with that conversation given their (childless) situation and life circumstances. So I didn’t blast them with a condescending one-day-you-will-understand look. I didn’t curse them to have 4 of the dirtiest kids on their block. I’m not offended. Though I think I internally stamped the moment with a “bless their hearts.” Because they’re doing their very best… you’re catching on.

This mindset choice doesn’t mean we’re condoning everything that everyone does. It doesn’t mean we’re approving of everything that everyone does. Have you seen the news? I’m thinking that this mindset would soften our perspective of others. It would press us towards prayer rather than control.

What if.

You’re husband, he’s doing his very best at this particular moment given his situation, his faith, and his circumstances. You’re kids, they’re doing their very best at this particular moment given their situation, their faith, and their circumstances. Your parents, your sisters, your brothers, your friends, your in-laws, your neighbors, that guy in the grocery store. The last person who hurt you.

And what if we just met people right where they are — right there in the midst of their current best — with Jesus. What if we met them with Jesus love. Jesus grace. Jesus truth. Jesus forgiveness. Jesus mercy. Jesus power. Jesus healing. Jesus beauty. What if instead of offense and criticism and slander, we poured out Jesus.

 

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32)

 

The only way I know to do that is if we die to our selves and find our identity firmly in Him. The only way to meet people with Jesus in the midst of their now is if our focus is on Jesus — asking Him to give us His vision, His compassion, and His love for His creation. Those aren’t just words. They’re truths meant to affect how we live out our days.

I’m thinking that we would step into a whole new level of “best.” A whole new level of freedom. The best that chooses grace. The best that chooses love. The best that believes for God’s kingdom to come.

What if.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How would that mindset change you in your most difficult relationship?
 

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