May 22, 2012

the Real me and the Purple Dress

I was invited to speak at our final MOPS meeting of the year last Thursday, and this is the message God laid on my heart to share. It's just a glimpse of the real me...

I am obsessed with time.

I am a planner, and I’m pretty sure I’m OCD- a lethal combination. But this year, God has been refining me in this area.

In August, after months of prayer, with a 3 month old and 3.5 year old, God called me into full time ministry as a full time mom This was not an easy decision to come to. Not only was our household income going to be cut in half, but … What does that even look like? I don’t know how to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I remember calling a girlfriend and asking, “So, what do you do all day? What is your routine?” Some women are born to be moms. They’re cute, and crafty… they’re the ones behind Pinterest! And, though I like to be cute and creative with my kids, I often need an example of what or how.  

Ez 36:26 says, “ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” What I didn’t realize was happening this year was divine heart surgery.

I  had established myself as a Real Estate expert. I thrived on a full schedule of showings, closings, listing appointments, training new agents… and then came everything else… including my husband and kids. I didn’t realize how stony my heart had become until I was asked this question: For what kinds of satisfaction are you investing time, energy and money?

What kinds of satisfaction? Well, honor, name recognition, prestige… everything was about my three favorite people… me, myself and I. It was about the business I had built… the connections I had made… the clients I was taking care of… the money I was bringing in…  

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people will humble themselves & pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I wanted God to hear me and I wanted to be forgiven and healed, but I didn’t want to be humble, pray or turn from my selfish ways.

I decided I needed to make more of an effort in scripture memorization. The first verse I chose was Philippians 4: 4-8, which says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Let your gentleness be evident to all. I am anything but gentle! I'm not super compassionate, busy, forward-focused… no time to slow and certainly no time to be gentle.

Shortly after starting to pray about this decision to be home fulltime—before the actual decision had been made—I went to a conference in Indy with some girlfriends called “Women of Faith.” One of the speakers talked about the pain of staying same v. pain of change. I had never thought about that. We all think of the pain of change… like I mentioned… giving up income… giving up business suits… and luncheons. But what about the pain of staying the same? If I kept on, I would miss so much more… and things I had never even considered at that point in my life. Another speaker at that conference talked about “pruning your life.” Stepping back and looking at everything and then asking yourself a tough question… well, tough for someone like me who wants to be involved in everything and not “waste” a moment of the day. The question was: What is God calling me to end?

Okay, okay, Lord. I’m getting it. I don’t have it yet, but I’m getting it.

I had asked for a lot of people’s wisdom and advice as I was making this decision, and someone told me this: Watch out for compulsion, God’s ways are orderly. That was so good for me to hear, as I’m a very quick decision maker! Then I read Ecclesiastes 3:1, which says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…”

Okay, Lord. I got it now. I have my whole life to work… and make contacts… and do what I’m passionate about outside of the home. But right now, there are two little people that are growing up and I’m missing it.

This decision to stay home was confirmed later into the fall as I started a bible study on Acts with a group called Bible Study Fellowship, or BSF. It has had a HUGE impact on my life this year—and my decision to be home full time. As the teaching leader gave her introductory lesson on the book of Acts, she said “Acts is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things for God, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” She then posed two questions: Am I so busy that I miss what God has for me? Um… yes! And, what am I busy doing that will last for eternity? Ouch. Not much.

2 Timothy 2:21 says, “If a man cleanses himself from the later, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” I had made my decision. I wanted to be ready to be used—can’t be tired, over committed or distracted.

So this last year has been incredible. God has used my husband, our kids, my girlfriends, our financial situation, my calendar, and so many other means to speak to me and remind me of His presence. I read this quote somewhere, and I think as moms it’s so true: Great opportunities may come once in a while but small opportunities surround us every day.

Let me tell you the story of the purple dress.
One day, I revealed to The Girl my stash of bridesmaid dresses, which I keep in our guest room closet. She absolutely LOVES to dress me up in them. She would pick out the whole ensemble and then we'd pretend I was going to a "ball" or we'd just dance around the room. This was fun for a bit, but tending to an infant in that get-up was nearly impossible, and oftentimes I cut the game short. One night she was insistent that I go and put on "the purple dress." Over and over she talked about "the purple dress." Well, I don’t have any purple bridesmaids dresses and just couldn’t understand her persistence. It ended in tears when I told her to stop asking me… it was time for dinner… then bed. We had had fun in the other dresses. End. Of. Story. Or so I thought....

That night I walked into my closet and saw this:

Shoes, necklace, headband and ring…. all perfectly laid out under my purple dress... in my closet.

All I could do was sob, and beg God for forgiveness. And the worst part was I couldn’t undo it with The Girl. She was asleep and by morning, being a 3.5-year-old, she would have completely forgotten it.

So, I’m learning. I don’t have the full-time stay-at-home-mom thing all figured out. I’m messing up daily, like I did with the purple dress, but I’m learning from my mistakes.

About two weeks ago, The Girl started begging to paint my nails. I was always finding something else to do that required dry fingernails… make dinner, change a diaper… clean the house. Suddenly, I thought of the purple dress. As soon as I got Jack down for a nap, I told The Girl to go get the nail polish. She was so pumped. And then, for 20 short minutes, we sat in the kitchen as she delicately held each of my fingers and toes and gave me a manicure and pedicure. I will never forget that.

Luke 9:23 says “Then he (Jesus) said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

What really matters to you? When Christ’s return is near possession, status, power mean nothing. It’s all about relationships. Who are you influencing?

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