Serve Him by Washing the Dishes

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I’ve always wanted to do big things for God.  Maybe go into missions or become a worship leader or be really involved in a ministry.  Or even semi-big things like teach a Sunday School class or be a successful blogger or SOMETHING.  Something that I can look at and say “I serve God in THIS way” and be proud of myself.

At this stage in my life, it seems like God wants me to serve him by washing the dishes.

It isn’t what I want to do.  It doesn’t inspire my creativity or engage my mind.  But I know in my heart that is what he wants me to do.  I need to wash the dishes, take the dog on a walk, vacuum the carpet and sweep the floor.  I need to get supper started and play with my daughter and welcome my husband home.  I need to go shopping for diapers and light bulbs.

And in the middle of all of that serving, maybe I can reach out to a friend and be an encouragement.  Or maybe I can be intentional about praying with Eden and telling her a bible story.

I remember years of my mom saying that she wants to have the type of house people come and hang out at, though when I was a kid that didn’t really happen often.  But after years and years of faithfully keeping the house and raising children, my parents now host 15+ people every week for “soup night” and regularly have visitors who hang out for conversation and advice.  Their house has become what mom had been wanting for it all those years ago.  She is able to serve God by being available and hospitable at home.

Maybe these are the trenches.  Maybe this is the preparation for whatever big thing I may someday get to do.  Or maybe what my heart really needs right now is to serve God in the quiet, private, and mundane things.

Beth the ____________.

I have not written in a long time.

Some people have things that define them, but I have always felt like I hop around.  I have been through phases where I write constantly, where I draw or do graphic design obsessively, or where I play the piano, sing and write music like it is my life’s passion.  Then when I stop doing those things for whatever reason, I find that the people who knew me as “Beth the girl that sits at the piano in her spare time” get confused about why I’m not doing that anymore.

I really don’t know.  The compulsive need isn’t driving right now.  I still love writing, music, art and design.  But my life is full of being an adult and sometimes I can’t find the energy for hobbies.  Sometimes I am so frustrated by the song that is in the back of my head but won’t let me write it that I need to go do something else that comes easier.  Sometimes I realize that my hobbies aren’t helping me build relationships and so I abandon them to pursue conversation with people.

Right now I am trying my hand at photography.  It is HARD.  With my iPhone I can glance at the screen to see that it is composed the way I want and wait for the right moment, but with the DSLR I am stuck looking through this tiny viewfinder and capturing something only to realize I didn’t focus right or it is overexposed.  But the feeling of getting an amazing shot with a good camera is such a high, I’m going to keep going for awhile and see where I end up.

I believe that my identity is founded in Christ.  My life is centered around my family.  When I have a minute I like to reach out to friends.  And if I can fit in some paint or steal a few minutes at a piano that is great.  But I am not “Beth the singer” or “Beth the Bible Journaler” or “Beth the blogger”.  I don’t want a passtime to define me to other people.  I am Beth, your friend.  The one who will listen to your stories and feed you dinner.  I am Beth, the wife and mom who tries to be a good homemaker with all my ability.  I am Beth, the Christian.  The one who will share her hardest struggles and cheer you on in your personal relationship with God.  And I may sing and paint and write on the side, but that doesn’t cover half of who I really am.

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Don’t Wait to Get Caught

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In today’s world, we see Christian leaders fall into sexual sin all the time.  Each time a name comes to light, it becomes more and more obvious that Satan has a huge foothold in this area.  And if sexual sin is this common in our leadership, it has to be rampant throughout churches everywhere.

What I believe is at the root of this problem is a fear of confession and a lack of trust that God’s way is better than our own way.  I believe this is the root of the problem because it was the root of the problem for me.  I also believe that the church needs examples of confession and accountability.  We need stories of people who choose God over their temptations on a regular basis.  We need to be reminded of what we believe and why we follow Christ.  And so, to that end, I’d like to tell you my story.

I was introduced to pornography at a young age and instantly, something inside of me woke up that I have not been able to put back to sleep.  You may have heard of people who take one drink and are addicted to alcohol, well, I took one look and I was addicted to sex.  My addiction went unchecked for almost 10 years, escalating to include masturbation and cybersex.

At the same time, I was growing up in a Christian home and building a relationship with God.  I desperately hated these urges that I was not able to control.  I was disgusted at my body’s reaction to things that my heart knew were damaging, both to me and to the other people involved.  I educated myself about the realities of the sexual exploitation industry, trying to convince my mind that this was a horrible thing.  I wanted God to magically heal me and take the temptation away, and I prayed for that constantly.

When I read verses like Colossians 1:22 “..to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation..” those words made me cringe.  I related to passages like Isaiah 2, Ezekiel 16 and Hosea.  I was the child bride who rejected her husband and went out to seek sex like a whore.

But that was all on the inside.  That happened in the dark and behind closed doors and in my cleared browser history.  In my visible life, I held a position as youth representative on the church board.  I was a trusted member of the youth group leadership team.  I led the drama team in our church and started a worship band.  I led two lives, and I had conditioned my heart and mind to accept this.  Sin had an iron grip on my heart, and Satan whispered to me that only men struggled with porn, that I would be humiliated if I ever was found out.  It was only when the Holy Spirit got through my defenses that I cried out to God.

When I was 17, I gave myself the ultimatum to either get help or get out of leadership in my church.  That fall, I entered an intensive discipleship program where I confessed my secret sin issues and got the accountability that I needed.  I hoped that after the big confession that I would be healed, but that isn’t the way God worked for me.

Even with the help of my advisers and close friends, I had a decade of sin with roots that had grown deep into my life and habits that had to be unlearned.  I needed regular and intrusive accountability to maintain a clear conscience for years, but the peace of living without the fear of exposure over my head, of knowing that I am forgiven and that my life is open to God’s prompting and plan, it is the best feeling I have ever experienced.

It has been another decade since I finally confessed and got help.  There have been times when I failed, times when I backed away from accountability and ended up justifying small indulgences.  But God used the decision that I made in my junior year of high school to build a foundation for repentance and pave the way back to a clean conscience.  Just as it is easier to continue in sin after you have done it once, it is easier to confess and repent once you build that pattern into your life.

My prayers for miraculous healing were not answered.  Instead, I was given enough grace to take each step that was put before me.  God’s way has drawn me ever slowly closer to his heart through the years.  And because of this decade of learning to discipline my mind, I am softer when he convicts me.. I am stronger when he challenges me.. I am braver when he asks me to change.  It is both the mystery of his grace and the daily walk in his will that have worked the miracle in my life.

As a body of believers, many of us have lost the discipline of confession.  We are so afraid that we are alone in these temptations, and so afraid of the disgust that we see slung around on social media when a sinner is caught.  But if we confess our sins he is faithful and just.  He will forgive us from our sins.  Don’t wait to be caught; give yourself up.  Turn yourself in.  You have the choice of wallowing in your invisible dirt or walking into glorious freedom.  I bet you would be surprised who all has been wallowing beside you.

I was meant to be holy in his sight.  Without blemish.  Free from accusation.  Should someone point the finger at me and name my sins, I do not need to cringe.  Satan doesn’t hold anything over me that has not already been confessed and forgiven.  As the song says, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.

If you are reading this, please do one of three things:  

If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of sin right now, tell a trusted friend that you need to talk to them.  Even just setting the appointment is a huge step on the road to confession and freedom.

If you have dealt with secret sin in your past and are now experiencing freedom in Christ, share your story with someone.  The church needs examples of how to deal with their sin, and you can contribute to that cause.

And if you are not in a place that you feel able to do either of those things, please pray.  Pray for yourself and for others to have the courage to give themselves up and finally be free.  Pray for God to give us all the grace to triumph over seemingly impossible trials and that we would trust that his way is truly better than our way.

a year of firsts.

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We spent today recovering from birthday weekend.  You could tell Eden was wired from all the people and sugar.. today was full of happy spurts and frequent melt downs.  Her one year well child visit was this evening and that capped off an exhausting day.  The first exhausting year is over.

My first year as a momma has been full of dramatic highs and lows, but God and my family have been constant.  Days that were hard to deal with only took a baby snuggle to correct my perspective.  This child needs a mom who is focused on her and advocates for her.. and I am resolved to be that mom.

She has grown from a fussy newborn to a chatterbox toddler.  Nothing in my house is safe from her exploring.  She is fearless and outgoing.  She smiles at strangers and blows kisses to her daddy.  Her joy is contagious.

She also started whining and screeching.. where did that come from??  She isn’t good at interacting gently with other kids.  She clings to me more than is convenient.

I love both the amazing and the exhausting things about her.  I pray that I can train her properly and that my weaknesses don’t overlook bad habits.  I spend significant time hoping that I don’t turn her into a brat.  I think that especially since I became a stay at home mom the weight of making sure she turns out okay is very heavy on my mind.

I am so excited for the year to come.  We get to experience her getting steadier on her feet, learning to talk, really getting to interact more.  My two big goals for Eden are to get better at reading books in order (rather than turning pages randomly) and learn how to be gentle and sweet with other children.  Good luck with that, eh?

Well, we both got shots tonight and it is time to get to bed for me.  I thank God for where we are right now, for this beautiful year that we have had, and for the exciting years to come.  He is so good to us!