Weary but wondrous journey.....

Rounding out the dental cleanings for the Freeman family this year is me, and so thankful to hear our dentist say this morning, “Excellent checkup!” I am thankful for no surprises there. We’ve had enough surprises this year, thank you very much. Life is like that though, completely unpredictable. You can plan your whole life for your education, your career, your marriage and family, thinking when you meet and accomplish each goal you’ve got it made. So when something doesn’t go the way you expected, how do you handle the train suddenly being de-railed? How do you handle it when your train is de-railed for awhile, perhaps years? You are left with no choice but to pack up what you can carry for the journey, and walk on. I feel like in some ways Ryan and I are still doing just that, walking on. Our train hasn’t quite gotten back on the tracks but we are rebuilding it and preparing it for the day we can see the restoration complete and the train start rolling once again. I am finding this to be a year of many questions, a whole lot of waiting and praying, and learning to be comfortable with silence. When God speaks, it is to further the season in me of waiting, listening, seeking, simply being still and content with being completely unsettled.

Why do you say, “My troubled path is hidden from the Eternal;
God has lost all interest in my cause”?
Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
The Eternal, the Everlasting God,
The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary.
His wisdom is beyond understanding. Isaiah 40:27-28 (The Voice Translation)

I stopped trying to understand God and the path my life has taken some time ago. I still ask Him, “Why?” but I don’t get hung up on it as I once did years ago. At some point on the journey, I let go and asked God to catch me. I decided it is far better for my heart, my mind, and my soul to sink into the presence of the Father in the worst of times as much as I do in the best of times. Sometimes it takes reading and speaking a scriptural truth many MANY times, praying til my knees ache and I’m weeping on the floor, and at the end of myself having just enough strength left to whisper the name of Jesus….that’s when His peace flows through me like a welcome breeze. I don’t have any more answers at that moment than I did when I began to question Him, but it doesn’t matter. His peace, His love for me, His presence is far more than enough to comfort me at that very moment.

But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
They will walk—never tired, never faint. Isaiah 40:31 (The Voice Translation)

This month is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I can’t think of anything better than to shout out my deepest gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to my Pastors and their influence on my faith in Christ. Pastor David, you and Connie have been such a blessing to Ryan and I in our time of getting to serve with you at The Crossing Church. You’ve met us on the road of life with heartfelt understanding and support, mentoring and accountability, and compassionate wisdom that has been perfectly timed in our ministry experience. Your heart for others and your abundant care for your church family has been a beautiful testimony to us as well as the entire community of Springfield. God has blessed you and I am certain He will continue to bless you as you continue to live out and serve Him by the calling He has placed upon your lives.

Pastor Wayne, your heart for our youth and their security in Christ is a beautiful thing to witness! I am so thankful for how much you and April love and care for our children and the entire youth group at The Crossing Church. Your efforts and your creativity, often going above and beyond what anyone else might think of, is evidence that you are called to care for this generation and preparing them to lead us one day. I am so appreciative of how you have shown God’s grace to every single teenager who comes through the church doors, every opportunity you have taken to reach these kids for the sake of Christ.

Pastor Dan, you and Kim have been such a joy to know in our time with The Crossing Church. I am so thankful for your leadership and your wisdom as a pastor, how God speaks through you at the precise moment a word of powerful truth is needed. I am truly appreciative of how you continue to allow God to move you into serving the needs of others whether it is when you are speaking from the platform, or teaching in lifegroup. Your heart for others and your willingness to go above and beyond to help those in need is so greatly appreciated.

And now it gets very personal, because I saved the best for last: My Dad, and my husband, Ryan.

Dad, you are the ultimate influence and example for me and I cannot express thanks enough in words. You’ve taught me about what it is to live a Godly life, an abundant and extraordinary life in Christ, and even by your not so perfect moments over the years you have taught me that even in our worst moments we are deeply loved and we have purpose to fulfill in this life. You’ve shown me such value in a life of uncompromising faith, that we cannot waiver no matter how hard life gets, and keep pressing on to accomplish all that we are capable of, to be fully and completely who God has purposed us to be. I am so proud and thankful to see how your life has touched so many people well after your retirement from full time service in the church, and I hope to leave a similarly beautiful legacy of faith for my children to follow. I’m not putting you on any pedestal, I’m simply pointing to what is evident and a testimony of how God has used you in my life and many others. I already love and appreciate your influence on my life because you are my Dad, but I am all the more appreciative of you because of your role as a Pastor too. I am certain God is very pleased, Dad. I am so proud of you and I love you so much, Dad!

Ryan, I am amazed how God continues to shape and mold you as a Worship Pastor. You have such a beautiful sensitivity in your heart and your spirit, a kindness and a gentleness that is so admirable. You have a heart for worship, an ability to orchestrate the music, weaving it into every service in a way that brings such seamless flow to the entire worship experience. You come by this very naturally because of your Dad, my sweet Father-in-law, for whom I am truly appreciative of his pastoral leadership in worship ministry as well. What a heritage you have to look back on and what a joy to see it being repeated in you and your brothers, David and Joe! It is not a performance for you, never has been. It is amusing to me over the years the few comments we’ve had here and there from those who would interpret anything you do on the platform as anything less than God-breathed. I know you do this, I know we do this, for God’s glory and for the hearts of those who need Him so desperately. I’m heartbroken for how poorly some have handled you in years past, but I also know this is where God’s purpose comes in and in spite of what we see occur at the hands of men, we know His ways are higher and He has placed you in each opportunity for a specific season and reasons beyond our understanding. Each experience has helped shape and mold you into who you are today, and I know our experiences past, present and yet ahead make you precisely who God intends for you to be as a ministry leader. He is not finished with you, and in some ways I believe He is just getting started with you! I am so proud of you and I love you so much, Ryan!

I am reminded today what a tight rope we walk in this life as Christ followers, because of our humanity, our frailty. At any given point in time something can happen to cause us to lose our balance, fall into a deep, dark place of despair if it weren’t for our faith in God. When we are grounded, practicing daily and feeding our hearts, our minds, our souls with scripture, with ceaseless prayer, with an attitude that returns to gratitude in the worst and the best of times, offering up daily abundant praise for our God, then and only then can we recover our balance and continue to step forward on that tight rope.

The train hasn’t been restored to the tracks yet, we are still walking on and working toward full and complete restoration, but it is beginning to take shape. We know we are bound for Glory eventually, but our time on this earth is going to continue to be unpredictable and is certain to test our faith. I am learning day by day, to trust Him more. Far better than I did yesterday, further still today.

A Holy habit....

Is anyone else as stunned as I am that September has come and gone? How can that be? October is here and inevitably you know that means the holidays are going to come barreling toward us at a very fast pace. School began, our schedule is just a bit trickier this year as if having one vehicle wasn’t challenging enough. Just to give you an idea of what the typical week is like for me, well, here is it in a nutshell:

5:30am My alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button typically an average of 3 times. Somewhere between 6:00-6:10 am I drag myself out of bed and stumble to the restroom.

6:45am the older two kiddos are heading out the door to catch the bus for the middle/high school. Coffee is on by now, and I’m well into my morning prep routine for the work day.

7:00ish am—Ryan gets Chloe up and dressed, and she rolls over back to sleep in our bed, and next is getting AJ out of bed and ready for the day. Hopefully by 7:05am he is up and eating some breakfast. Hopefully.

7:20 am-my goal to be out the door and headed to work as my workday starts at 8:00am if we have the blessed joy of the use of my Mom’s Honda. If not, then I get a ride from a coworker. If I can’t get a ride, then somehow we get the two youngers in the van and Ryan takes me to work.

7:45 am-hopefully Ryan gets AJ out the door to the bus stop. Bus arrives at 8:05 am, and then Ryan’s off to drop Chloe at daycare.

8:30 am-Ryan arrives at work and his day begins.

3:30-4:00ish pm—Older 3 kiddos arrive home from school on the buses.

5:00 pm-My work day ends, and if I drove myself, that means I can go get Chloe and head home.

5:30 pm-Ryan’s work day ends, and we see him at home around 6:00 pm.

Lunch time switch up—On the days we have to juggle with one vehicle, Ryan comes to get me at work at lunch time, then I take him to work and keep the van so I can get Chloe from daycare by 5:30 pm when they close. Arriving late to daycare results in an additional $5.00 for every ten minutes you are late past 5:30 pm. Fantastic. On the days we have the blessed joy of the use of my Mom’s Honda, this doesn’t push my need to get from work to daycare in 10 minutes.

Tuesday nights-Ryan finishes work at O’Reilly at 5:30 pm, then heads to Palen to teach guitar lessons from 6:00-7:30 pm. Will typically get home around 8:00 pm.

Wednesday nights-work day ends, pick up kids from home and inhale some dinner in the van on the way to be there for Bible Study starting at 6:15 pm. Usually home around 7:45-8:00 pm depending on if we have worship team rehearsal or not.

Thursday nights-Ryan has a guitar student at home. Bailey has Drama Club after school so thankfully the Grandparents help us by picking him up and getting him home.

Side note: For those of you who have the ability to get dinner on the table the same time every night, well, good for you. This Mama hopes to get dinner on the table with some helpful participation and assistance by the family by 6:30-7:00pm. When Mom’s got to work full time job outside the home, it is absolutely necessary to her sanity to delegate the responsibilities of keeping our home running smoothly. There is much I prefer to do myself, but who am I kidding? I cannot and shall not attempt to do it all myself. I know my limits and when it gets to the point that I think I’m gonna spontaneously combust or I need to get away by myself to some remote beach on an island for a week….God knows better than anyone in those moments while I am thankful He sustains me, I could very well lose it completely at any given moment.

Friday night-Freeman family fun night which typically involves movies, games, just a whole lot of some kind of fun for our family after a very busy week.

Saturday-Ryan teaches at Palen 10:30-12:30, usually home by 1:30 pm unless a student cancels or reschedules. As soon as he is home, we run errands, including getting groceries, and prepare for big home dinner and perhaps kids will have a friend sleepover. Sometimes Ryan plays at Enoch’s BBQ, or we go on a date, get together with friends/family, etc.

Perspective-We are in the middle of a debt snowball plan so the insane schedule we keep is not ideal but necessary to meet the goal we have set for ourselves, a goal we have been deeply convicted to meet and to establish long term freedom. We are living like nobody else so that we can live like nobody else! Freedom is on the horizon, but it requires extremely hard work on our parts for awhile.

Sunday—If all goes well, we are headed out the door by 7:25 am, but who are we kidding? The fact that we have 4 children should be enough reason to understand this family is rarely out the door on time. And it doesn’t help that none of us are early risers. Seriously. Family of night owls here. Just keeping it real. We are a work in progress.

We love worship and we love what we are doing at The Crossing, so Sunday is the best day of the week! We have a great lifegroup and we are finding God’s hand evident in everything we are doing. It is a great place to be, helps set the tone for the rest of our week for sure. Sunday afternoon arrives and it is as if the world as everyone knows it simply disappears….we are relaxed, we are restful, we are napping, we are enjoying the day God established as a day of rest. It is really too bad we can’t have 2 Sundays. Monday’s arrival is not one we jump up and down about in our house. It is a brutal reminder of the reality of life and what we must do whether we want to or not.

I just read a great article on the habit of worship, living it, breathing it, making it something we realize automatically. I thought it was particularly good when he talked about considering the alarm going off not with the typical dread and reaction to hit the snooze and sleep another hour, but to associate our alarm signal with our habit of morning worship. Not saying it is easy, and he points out how it really isn’t often our preference to read our Bible or pray, because we get busy doing other things like enjoying reading a great book of fiction, listening to our favorite tunes, sleeping in rather than rising early to pray. Some would say they feel the opposite here, that they can’t wait to open their Bibles, pray for hours on end, and rise before the sun to spend time in meditation with the Lord. I get that, but it isn’t my nature. No judgement here, just pointing out the reality of our unique make up as human beings, that we all have different interests and preferences. So, how do we make worship a daily habit, not as mediocre as brushing our teeth, eating a meal, getting dressed, etc. but a Holy habit? After all, as we live this life, it is a journey. We will never be perfect, holy, righteous in our human state on this earth but we are continually striving toward the goal of being like Christ.

Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or not, do it all to the glory of God! 1 Corinthians 10:31(The Voice Translation)

Our time is precious, and most of us in this day and age are busy, rushing from one thing to the next, and hoping to find some time at the end of our busy day to simply collapse. How much more important for us to consider how we are spending our precious time, how much of it we are committing to our heavenly Father? Is our first and last thought upon Him? Is our focus and our center through the day on Him? Find your Holy habit today and discover the difference it can make for you in a lifestyle of worship.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...