I realize it has been almost 4 months since I've blogged. I do aspire to be a better "blogger"... and I really don't know how any mom can keep up with a blog. I mean, I only have one child right now and it's next to impossible! So, you mommy-bloggers out there (I'm thinking of Courtney in particular- who is amazing at keeping her blog up), you have my respect!
Words can't really describe how much the Lord has moved in my heart these past few months. I guess it really started before Dustin and I went to West Africa on a mission trip right a couple weeks before Christmas. It was one night before we were going to bed, when he was under this conviction, over several things really. He was confessing things to me and broken... I don't remember the lot of what he had said, but I remember this one thing. He said, "Baby, I want to Lord to just make everything new. I want to just start over... with a clean slate." I got so excited and said, "Honey! He can! That's what He does!!!" ---Realizing now how little I actually believed what I myself was saying to him. So there we were, for a few weeks really praying and asking the Lord to just make all things new- in our lives, our marriage, everything.
We came home from W. Africa, several weeks afterward, and I believe I was under some type of spiritual warfare. I just could not seem to hear from the Lord when I would read His word and I felt like my prayers hit the ceiling. I honestly began to lose a desire to even open my bible. Dustin and I also began arguing a lot during this time. I confess, with much regret, I spoke SO ugly to him. If he would even remotely be short or impatient with me in any way, I would lash out at him. The thing that makes my anger & harsh words even worse, was I felt no remorse for them. If I even did apologize to him afterward it was because I just wanted to keep peace, because I knew I "should" be sorry. I was troubled by this periodically & wondered "How can I say I'm sorry without feeling sorry?!?" It was my sweet baby girl who the Lord used to bring light upon my sin.
Gabrielle is growing, obviously, and her personality is growing with her... She has such a big personality for such a little girl. This really is sweet & so fun to watch, but sometimes it's not so good. Near the end of January she realized she too, can say the word "no". While playing with other friends of hers is pretty much her favorite time to use this word. Half the time she's probably provoked by someone taking a toy away from her or something and she says "no", half the time she's the one taking the toy and saying "no". Either way, I was very troubled by this. Dustin and I talked about it and at first we were not in complete agreement as to how to handle it. Then, he told me I should discipline her when she says (actually, yells) "no" like this. I had a hard time with this. I just did not want to discipline her- so sometimes I would & sometimes (if I saw she was provoked) I wouldn't. Inconsistent. We strive very hard to be consistent, and I knew I was misleading her by sometimes disciplining and sometimes not. I just did not want to discipline her if I knew she was being provoked by someone else. Dustin pretty much called me out on it and said "Look, even if WE are provoked, we still are not to sin". One Friday night I just lied in bed telling the Lord over and over again: "I just want to defend her. I just want to defend her!" To a fault. Yes. I am not doing a good job of protecting her if I am allowing her to sin. After saying this for probably 5 minutes, agonizing over what I need to do, the Lord spoke to me (no, it was not an audible voice, just in my heart) "In the same way I want to defend YOU". In an even greater way!! I was flabbergasted for a moment, and then began to really think on what that means. I know the Lord is our defender, I just have never believed He is my defender. In fact, I've never really believed Him about a lot of things He says He is to me. So I've never let Him defend me- when people make *sarcastic/ rude/ harsh* comments about my being pregnant again, when people sin against me, and mainly when Dustin sins against me, I take it upon myself to defend me. Either by just getting angry inside or by letting them know that I'm angry.
This was pretty huge. But not nearly the end. Later that week I was in Louisville visiting my mom, and I attended a bible study with her Thursday morning. The study she was doing was Jerry Bridges, Pursuit of Holiness. It was the first meeting, so the lady leading the study was just doing an introduction. She was an amazing speaker, and God used her words to just cut me straight in the heart. She spoke about the lack of the pursuit of holiness in the church today. The lack of desire for God's word & how this shows itself in our daily lives. In our lack of discipline, lack of conviction over sin, lack of discipline in our children even. She spoke how people excuse their sin by saying "it's the way I've always been" or "well, so-and-so did this to me". Wow. God immediately showed me my need to confess the sin of my horrible words to my husband. Showed me that it is sin whether or not Dustin sins against me first. And He showed me the reason I never wanted to discipline Gabbi is because of my own sin in my life. I didn't want to admit she was wrong by yelling "no" when she was provoked in the same way I didn't want to admit I was wrong by yelling "(whatever)" when I was provoked. I confessed all that to Dustin and he sweetly, immediately forgave me.
Then the warfare started. The lies. "How can you really be saved if you could go that long without a sensitivity to your sin?" That Sunday at church (still in Louisville), during the invitation the Pastor made some comment about "If you've always known about Christ, but never had a real relationship with Him........." and the lie slipped into my ear "you need to go forward, you don't really know Christ." From time to time I think every believer hears the same type of lies. But never this clearly for me. I began to believe them immediately, just like Eve. The next two weeks I agonized over these lies. Battling in my heart, "can I truly be saved???" The bible study I was in was Kay Arthur, teaching on the end times. Through the entire hour I was in utter despair, just knowing I would not meet Christ in the clouds but would stand before Him at the Great White Throne and be banished into Hell. Lies. Lies. Lies. I shared these thoughts with Dustin, and a couple of dear friends who all spoke truth over me and prayed much for me.
Some short time later, I read Numbers 14, where Moses sends the spies into the Promised Land. They come back, and only Joshua speak the truth. The others all say there is no way they can defeat the Canaanites & Israel believes them- instead of believing that God, who led them out of captivity in Egypt, fed them with Manna, caused water to spring forth from a rock, could help them defeat the Canaanites. So, they are punished for their unbelief. They must spend 40 more years in the wilderness where they die, and their children at first suffer for their unbelief, but then are able to enter the Promised Land. This passage spoke directly to me. Lord, I do not want my children to suffer for my unbelief. I began to beg Him to help me believe Him & the promises of His word.
Two weeks after the lies started (exactly), I had a huge breaking point. One of those that begins with a few simple tears that can't seem to stop and leads to uncontrollable sobbing. My poor husband, was taken aback because this came out of pretty much nowhere. I had reached the end, I had made up in my mind that there was no way I was a Christian & didn't know what to do about it, or really which end was up. After I had calmed down, the Lord spoke amazing words through Him. He told me he truly saw this fruit (which is what it comes down to: You know a tree by its fruit) in my life from all the Lord was doing in me and showing me over these past several weeks. He told me he noticed a huge difference in the way I spoke to him. Where before there was no remorse, and now, if I speak the slightest bit harshly to him I was immediately sorry. Then he asked me "Honey, do you hate your sin." I said, "Yes, everyday, I hate it." Then, all the things he had said really started to sink in, and I felt this little ray of hope.
The next day, was last Monday (the 23rd), I started reading John Piper's book, Battling Unbelief. This book I had bought months and months ago and was just now starting to read. Which is funny, the Lord's timing. Because I don't think if I had read this book when I first bought it, it would have had the affect on me the way it has now. My heart was just not ready. I could probably write a whole different *long* blog about just how the Lord has spoken to me in this book. But the main thing comes down to this. The sin He had just revealed to me is encompassed by a much larger thing- my sin of unbelief- which in encompassed in the sin of pride. I realized in the almost 4 years that I've been a believer, I don't think I've ever truly believed Him. So I thought I was just dealing with the sin of my words, when really, I'm a prideful, unbelieving, straying little lamb of His. Praise God!!! But through this He showed me a picture... Last Thursday. I do well with illustrations, so I apologize if you don't do well with illustrations.
I saw myself in this dark dungeon/ basement place & the filthiness of my sin surrounded me. I was covered in cobwebs & dust & ashes... helpless in bondage to my sin of unbelief. And here He comes- my Lord, my Deliverer, my Redeemer... peeling away the cobwebs & dusting off the ashes, bestowing on my a beautiful headdress, a crown. I realized on Saturday at the women's retreat this picture He showed me was completely a reference to Isaiah 61:1-3!
Our God is so great!!! I told Dustin and several other people this weekend, I haven't felt hope like this in I can't even remember how long. I feel freedom, and joy... and I just can't wait for what He is going to do next. I know this is a super long blog, but I couldn't refrain from sharing this with everyone. His grace is what sustains us each day. And He does answer our prayer... He is making all things new.
My Baby Girl is 7!
3 days ago