On Life

I Dreamed of Yeshua

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I’m never one to remember my dreams. In fact most mornings when I wake up, by the time I walk to the bathroom, whatever I had dreamed is already gone. But last night I dreamed of Yeshua.

2016 has started off really rough. My job is demanding technically, legally, emotionally and spiritually; most days I even drag myself home physically exhausted because all of my other capacities have been run dry. Since January, all Hell has broken loose at the housing properties and my office team (who are very supportive of each other) have been struggling with morale issues because everyone is under attack in some way. I’ve also been struggling personally with the patrilineal burdens I’ve inherited from the men in my life who have come before me. My struggles with personal identity, value and success (or lack thereof) have been loud and ugly…and it’s all the arguments going on inside.

Needless to say I’ve been fighting off or hiding from depression for the last couple of weeks. I can play at it for a while, being strong for everyone else, but I finally asked yesterday: “Who’s being strong for me?” Once that question was out of the box, there was no putting it back. And I fell to pieces.

I prayed. I pleaded for God to show a way forward. To allow me to answer a greater call. I demanded for Him to acknowledge and answer my dreams that have been laid in their grave.

What I didn’t know was that my wife was desperately praying for me at the same time. She pleaded with Jesus to meet me, somehow.

And then last night I fell asleep.

***

I found myself in a great white stone palace in a large room. The stone was almost like crystal, but even that description can’t do it justice. It felt very Greek, but was timeless.

The large room I found myself in was dark, backlit with blue and green light and there was a blue mist winding around the black tile floor.

I held a sword in my hand and knew at once I was under attack. The things coming at me were everywhere and they looked like rotting corpses, like zombies. Some were missing limbs but they could talk and were saying all kinds of horrible things. They were demonic, and they looked exhausted because they weren’t able to put up much of a fight when I began to fight back with my sword. Yet all the same I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of them.

It was then I realized that someone else arrived and was helping me to fight them back. By the time the battle was almost over, my ally had easily slain most of the horde. I remained fighting one enemy, the captain. My ally did not intervene, but let me finish the fight as I cut off its appendages until it simply laid upon the floor unable to move.

“You’re done,” I said as I turned to walk away.

The demonic captain looked up at me with his gruesome face and exposed eyeballs and spoke: “Just do it already.”

So I cut off his head. I then realized I was covered in greasy guts. I turned to look at my ally, my helper.
He stepped out of the shadows and I immediately knew his face and I spoke his name in my heart: YESHUA. It was the name his mother would have called him. I knew him and I knew he knew me. Yet all I could utter from my lips was: “I’m a mess.”

Then Yeshua smiled; he was kind and spoke: “You ordered the Greece.”

I knew it was a joke, a play on words about the battle we had just come through, and yet there had to be a deeper meaning, a puzzle to solve. He helped me, but he didn’t do it for me. I had guts on me and the sword in my hand to prove that I had done battle in the heavenly realm alongside Yeshua my Messiah, against my enemies.

***

I woke up amazed, pondering the meaning of what he said and I’m still not sure but there are some clues in my life and the things I’ve been working on in my writing that might yet prove true.

My wife is a big time dreamer; she remembers her every dream each morning. And sometimes they are spiritually significant. This was the first time I had ever had a spiritually significant dream and I relayed it to my wife.

When I finished, she asked about the meaning of Yeshua’s words. I told her I wasn’t sure.

Then she asked: “What about Greek warriors, are they tough?”

I immediately could see scenes from the movie 300 in my mind with King Leonidas fighting with his fellow Spartan brothers against the hordes of invading Persian troops. I told her that historically the Spartans were among the toughest, hardest soldiers ever bred for war.
She then told me about how she pleaded with Jesus to meet me in my dark time of struggle. My wife is certain that who showed up was Jesus/Yeshua as his hardest, warrior self to help fight against the forces of darkness coming against me personally. Yet during the whole battle, I never doubted his love.

There are still so many pieces to put together regarding this dream. As for what he said to me: “You ordered the Greece.” I think it will take time to reveal the meaning, but perhaps some of the interlinear work I’ve been doing in the bible may be the key to unlocking my way forward.

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Dear Lord, I Have Issues

The title of this entry is tongue-in-cheek yet serious. God has been patiently circling me about to face some of the deficiencies in my character; it’s those things I’ve built walls around to protect myself from being hurt further. Ultimately these things have been hurting me as they’ve caused me to keep myself from trusting God as my Heavenly Father.

My wife and I have been reading the book of Acts, and I’ve noticed how the early church would confess to one another their sins and struggles. Somehow there was a divine release of their burdens to God once all was brought to light, allowing healing to then take place. In the spirit of the early church, I will be making confessions over my long held strongholds.

Much but not my entire struggle against God has been in my identity: as a man, as a husband, and as a father. All three of these things tie into what it means to be a man, and yet I’ve been injured in each area separately. Almost all of the injuries have come from the various father figures directly connected in my life, each one imprinting their warped, frustrated views of manhood. As a man myself, I can readily identify the broken pieces in my father figures.

But until recently I have only just begun to identify them in myself. And it hurts.

I need to speak out in authority over my struggles, to let them be revealed in the light. Here is my confession of those painful things long held within the chambers of my heart:

Trust: Ultimately I don’t trust God as a Father because he is a father. I’ve been let down or injured by the “fathers” in my life and I pretend that I don’t want or need them, so I pretend I don’t need to Trust God.

Vulnerability: I don’t like being vulnerable with God. It’s too trusting. In the past I’ve tried to be vulnerable with people I considered “safe” but this never ends well and has caused me to build up walls I don’t know how to take down.

Reward: Everything I’ve ever been taught has been through punishment and reward. I’m supposed to expect reward for doing things right. Good pay for a job well done and blessings for obedience. I’m supposed to expect punishment for failure and consequences for doing the wrong thing. Yet when I’m not rewarded for doing well, I’m disappointed. Consequently when others aren’t punished for their wrongs, I’m hurt and confused. Mistrust then ensues.

Appreciation: I’ve always needed and expected “the nod” of approval, to receive the recognition for doing well, working hard, or being steadfast through a storm. When I don’t get that, I worry that what I’m doing is worthless, which translates into “I am worthless.”

Courage: I struggle with exercising courage to put forward the things I’ve been called to do. I do this due to a fear of failure. I can’t count how many times I’ve created something special, but when it comes to taking a risk and getting it out, I worry. In those rare moments of bravado when I set aside my concerns and I do push something out, any momentum is lackluster. I then tend to pull back, lick my wounds, and it becomes harder the next time to create something special and try to share it out.

I’m learning that where I struggle indicates there is some need I have to be met. I don’t know how to meet it on my own. So I respond in struggle with God and myself.

***

I’ve been struggling with all of these things for years, but it has just now come to my attention that the stories I’ve been writing in my spare time are fused with these themes of struggle.

I can’t outrun God, nor should I hide from man.

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Death & Resurrection: About Home Floods & Funerals

“Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.” ~Victor Hugo

This week will be a big week.  Not only will my grandfather’s funeral be on this Thursday, February 20th, but it will also mark 40 days since our home was flooded and we have been displaced as a family.

Home flood?  Yes that’s right.  Our home was flooded on January 11th, as I woke up to walking on wet carpet at around 2:00am.  Currently our home is unlivable as the floors, ceilings and walls have been torn apart.  The source of the flood seemed to stem from our clothes washer, which is located on the second floor, so when it leaked everything got hit.  Our insurance placed us in a hotel for a month and then recently transferred us last week into an apartment, which doesn’t bode well as it tells me that these repairs are going to take a lot of time.

Many tears have been shed as frustrations continue to mount.  Caity and I recognize that so many things have been systematically taken away from us in this last year.  Currently we are without internet at our apartment, and so even being able to do something so simply as check email, write a blog post, or even apply for a new job have become that much more challenging.  We finally recognize the reason for it all: we are being trained to trust and rely solely on Jesus Christ and his provision and direction for our lives.

Then this last week I received the news that my grandfather, Donald Patten, was not doing well and certain to be on his way into the arms of Jesus.  I hadn’t seen grandpa in quite some time.  Truth be told, he had been mentally absent for quite some time due to alzheimer’s and so visiting him just seemed burdensome.  Then to place on top of that some of the hard feelings I had carried over the years toward him for certain scars made it even more difficult.  It wasn’t until I walked into his room, and I could see how fragile he’d become, withered to bones, that my heart melted and I was reminded how fragile we all are.  I sat next to his bed and I did the unexpected…I asked for his forgiveness for my anger toward him, and then I thanked him for the many, many things that he did well during his life.  Grandpa taught me how to work hard, to believe in my creativity, and he imparted a strong spiritual heritage to his children and grandchildren.

And then on the morning of February 11th, grandpa passed away into glory.

It feels like we are in the center of a spiritual struggle.  Every area of our lives feels pressed in upon.  Emotionally.  Physically.  Financially.  Relationally.  Exhaustion is our regular state of existence.  Yet as for Caity and me, it is our response that reveals the standing of our hearts.   We are weary but we are willing to follow Jesus…no matter where He goes.  He is the way, and will be the only way to guiding us through the dark paths of our current valley.

Caity and I have committed to do God’s will His way, however meandering the path.  To stop complaining and submit to His authority in every circumstance will be our mark.  To show up and do our daily tasks with a steadfast determination, no matter now humiliating, will be done only with the strength of Christ, who empowers us both to endure and do all things.  Alone and on our own, we can do nothing and will remain stuck.  Jesus Christ is calling out.  He is saying “I am the way…”

  SED EGO DIGREDIENDUM

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Brokenness…Leading to Intimacy?

The LORD is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here but the truth is that I’ve been going through a process of breaking, and I’ve needed to take the time to experience it.  It’s hard.  Many times I’m emotionally incontinent and prone to tears.

Truth be told, there is much that is either cracking, been broken already, or has been divinely taken away.

As it turns out, my new job is anything but a good or easy fit.  From the moment I walk through the door to the time I leave, it’s a constant barrage of demands from either the corporate leadership or from frustrated residents.  So far I’ve dealt with multiple threats of lawsuits from residents over petty issues (everyone seems to have a lawyer), evictions and then helping the residents prevent evictions, and a multitude of complaints about noisy yet necessary deferred maintenance construction.  It seems there’s very little time to breathe or even get my real work done.  I also found out through our open enrollment that we cannot afford the cost of the benefits through work.  And then last week Caity and I found out that our main commuter car will need to go to that junkyard in the sky.  And at times I have to ask myself “why”?  What could possibly be the good, divine purpose to spiral my wife and me into what appears to be more pain and loss?

It seems that everything about our circumstances right now are designed to break us entirely.  And it’s working…but not in the way toward depression, only in the way toward dependence.  Dependence upon God.

Just like human relationships, crises and brokenness can either drive people apart or bind them even closer together.  The trick of it all, however, is that the choice belongs to the people involved.  When Caity and I have found ourselves broken before each other, we draw close and give comfort to the other.  The same is true of a relationship with God.  If we truly desire awesome intimacy with the Creator and Savior, then we must be willing to be shattered and surrender to the process of being broken.  It’s painful and necessary, and ultimately it’s our own choice to allow it to foster intimacy; to learn how to depend whole heartedly with every feature of our being upon the King of the Universe.

Another dirty little secret of the sanctified life is that brokenness will continue to happen throughout in big and little ways.  It is because our broken pieces are gathered together and mortared one upon the other with God’s grace until a firm foundation of a sanctification emerges.  We must surrender to this uneasy and painful process in order that everything that we are and everything we have will be transformed into the best that we can become.  It’s not the circumstances that matter so much to God, but our heart conditions.  God can change circumstances with the flip of coin, but our hearts will only change when we surrender everything we hold on to so tightly.

I’ve decided that I will not fight my breaking process.  I will accept it…with joy…in the knowledge that God is bringing me into a deeper level of intimacy.  He desires Oneness, and now so do I.  Perhaps He may find some use for me yet.

If you are currently being broken, it’s alright to cry out in pain.  I would also encourage you to accept it as an honor, for you have been chosen to be brought deeper into relationship with the King of the Universe.

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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What About Fear?

This week was the first at my new job as property manager in Lake Forest Park, and I could not begin to tell you how stressful it was. There’s so much to learn and so many new reports to generate and numbers to crunch, all the while still answering the phone and/or talking to folks walking through the door seeking a place to live or submitting work orders. I’m the only staff for the office.

Beginning on Monday, I received a complaint from one of the residents who threatened legal action. Thankfully I was able to talk to him reasonably about the issue and find a solution that tied up all loose ends and he was happy. I was indeed overwhelmed.

On top of all that, it was a sick week at our house. All of the kids got the junk to varying degrees and finally Caity ended up not feeling well and had a moment of collapse that caused me to realize that I needed to be home on Friday to ensure everyone was taken care of. When I spoke to my new supervisor Valerie about it, she agreed I needed to be at home (thank you Valerie).

The point I was getting to is that I’ve been facing a lot of fear. Fear of new responsibility. Fear for the health of my family. Fear of being stuck in this new place. Fear of failure.

However, Caity and I get up every morning and read a chapter from the bible as well as whatever Oswald Chambers has to say in “My Utmost For His Highest”. We are continually amazed at how God uses these tools to speak directly into our hearts, overcoming our circumstances.

Currently we are reading in Isaiah, and this last Wednesday, November 13th, we read Isaiah 8. It was then we found this nugget:

Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.

~Isaiah 8:12-13

When Isaiah originally spoke these words, he was speaking to the people of Judah living under constant threat of invasion from their neighbors in the north. They lived in fear, but he told them that this fear is wrong. It is only healthy to fear the one living God; everything else is under his control anyway and we should not fear the details.

Then Caity and I also read the passage from “Utmost” dated for the same day:

All of our fears are sinful, and we create our own fears by refusing to nourish ourselves in our faith. How can anyone who is identified with Jesus Christ suffer from doubt or fear! Our lives should be an absolute hymn of praise resulting from perfect, irrepressible, triumphant belief.

~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, November 13

We all struggle with fear. Fear of war, economic collapse, terrorist attacks, climate change, or any of the myriad personal struggles that cause us to fear can rob us of our trust in God. God alone is the one we are to fear, and let everything else fall under his divine purview.

Overcoming fear with faith is the only way to unlock the shackles that hold us back. Faithfulness not fearfulness will strengthen any person willing to follow God through the dark valley. Only then are we set free to accomplish faithfulness in our daily duties to those whom we love and serve.

How do your fears cripple you? Are you willing to surrender them to God and fear him alone? Are you ready to be free?

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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Answered Prayers

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“Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered.” ~Oswald Chambers

The first thing that I would have to admit is this: be careful what you pray for because it will be answered.

There’s been so much that Caity and I have been praying for over this last year, that when we sit down and talk about what has gone on we see the heavy gravity of God’s faithfulness to answer our prayers.

This last Spring we realized how stuck we were in so many ways and we cried out in prayer for God to initiate the changes that we could not do for ourselves.  That was the beginning of a swift journey of upheaval for us beginning with our hearts, then our marriage and finally our jobs.

God started with both of our hearts, removing the layers of scar tissue blocking us from Him and each other.  It was immediate, it was critical and it was painful.  Yet by the end of the divine surgery, Caity and I discovered that even our old hearts were gone and replaced by new, fresh hearts each with its own deepened capacity to love and desire for vulnerability in our marriage.  Humbling and incredible.  We have spent more time over the last six months laughing, crying, sharing, loving and praying together than we ever did in the last ten years.

Then at the end of July, our children began asking for more “family days”.  We had been a seven-day work week family for the last seven years; it was the only reasonable way to make ends meet.  One of us was always working and the other was always at home with the kids, but we never had days off together.  This had created quite a strain on us all and the kids were beginning to get sad with the system.  There were no sabbath rests for us.

So Caity and I talked about our work situation and realized that it too needed to change but we didn’t know how.  Yet we did see the benefit of family days, of regular sabbath rests.  So we decided to get the kids into it also and asked them to pray with us, to pray and ask Jesus to change Mommy’s and Daddy’s job situations to provide for days off together.

Again, be careful what you pray for because it will be answered.

We found out at the very beginning of August that Caity’s store would be closing.  We realized immediately that God was at work answering our prayers, but not in the way that we would have wanted or expected.  She worked until September 11, 2013 with Haggen until they closed the Shoreline store.  Then she was done, and all of a sudden we had weekends off as a family.

It was shocking and we could have responded by falling into anxiety over our decreased income, but instead we did something different: we celebrated!  We celebrated by going out to dinner.  We celebrated by praying over a portion of our savings we wanted to give away and the Holy Spirit led us to two families in desperate need.  We celebrated by getting up early and spending time together reading the bible and in prayer.  We celebrated by intentionally spending time with our children and doing things that brought them joy.  We celebrated by turning off the television and tuning into our marriage.  We celebrated for the cause of liberation in our lives.

And finally we have had one more prayer answered in regards to the job changes—I will be promoted beginning next week to take over my own property and become the property manager for the Woodland North Apartments in Lake Forest Park.  Monday, November 11th will be my first day, exactly two months from the date of Caity’s last day of work.  Trust me when I say that this was all God’s doing—I didn’t seek it out at all.

Initially, the way God chose to answer our prayers looked backward.  Truth be told, we all want so badly to have our circumstances changed, thinking that a change like that alone will be enough to change our hearts.  Yet God knows better.  He desires heart change first before any change of circumstance.  To surrender to Jesus in gratitude before anything else.  And when all was finished, Caity and I recognized that we were the ones who had been moving backward; God was the one now taking us forward.  Our perspectives were all wrong and we learned to surrender to His direction for our lives.

Again, be careful what you pray for because it will be answered.

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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The Art of Love: Sacrifice

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One of many problems with the English language is the lack of specificity when it comes to certain words.  I think the one that bothers me the most is the word LOVE.  It’s too general and encompasses everything from familial love to friendship love and even the full physical desire of sexual love.  It’s confusing and has caused a great deal of chaos within our own culture as the meaning of the word can bend upon context and situation, depending upon what we talk about.

So how could it be handled differently?  Let’s take look at how the concepts of love are handled in the Greek language.  There are 4 different words for love in the language.  1) Sacrificial love (agape); 2) Sensual love (eros); 3) Friendship love (philia); 4) Natural affection (storge).  I’m thinking I might actually write a short series about all four types of love, but today we’ll focus on sacrificial love–agape.

Agape (pronounced: a-GAH-pey) is the unconditional, self-sacrificing love and it is a spiritual love where one person continues to hold someone else in high esteem and serve even though there is no guarantee of reciprocation.  There is no expectation of receiving anything in return.  The famous love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 uses the word agape when describing what “love is” and what “love isn’t”.  This is the type of love often expressed for how much God loves us and is exemplified by the willful and determined sacrifice Jesus displayed for us all by submitting to death upon a cross.

I find my marriage to Caitlin has deepened over the last six months by placing her first in all I do.  One of her primary love languages is service, and I admit freely that in the past ten years I have not been the best servant.  In many ways I have served her, but it was rarely about putting her first while doing it; my attitude was all wrong.

It’s only been over the last half-year that my own world and perspective have been shaken in every area, and it started with my attitude and relationship toward Jesus and quickly turned me toward my relationship and attitude toward my wife.  Our marriage needed to be refreshed, and indeed that happened as we both went through colossal heart transformations.

I guess the simplest example I can give is how our mornings changed.  To be perfectly honest, I love sleeping in…or rather, I loved sleeping in.  I used to sleep until the absolute last minute before needing to get up and go to work, or even on the weekends I would draw it out as long as possible.

However as Caity and I started making intentional changes to our habits, one of the things I found that helped to serve her everyday was to wake her up with a cup of coffee.  I started by planning the evening before, setting the timer on our coffee pot to go off each morning at 5:30am; I would then get up and pour us each a cup and then bring it up to our bedroom and wake her up while placing a hot cup of joe into her hands.

It was wonderful because this simple act of sacrifice showed my wife how much I value serving her–speaking her love language of service.  I sacrificed my desire to sleep in and replaced it with a desire to love Caity through service and spend time with her.  And our mornings have transformed even more where we now have a regular time of connection through the bible, prayer and conversation.  I don’t even miss sleeping in; I’m excited to get up each morning!

Many, many things have grown from there over the last few months as I’ve learned how to lean into the housework and share that responsibility.  Tackling special projects around the house have been fun too.  Sometimes I start it on my own, only to have her want to jump in and finish it with me (like our new walkway).  And other times she starts the projects and I want to help out and so we go at it together (like repainting our downstairs).

As we learn to sacrificially serve each other, we both find our love deepening and expanding into new areas we never thought possible.

And it all started with a cup of coffee.

What does sacrificial love mean to you?

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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Surviving or Thriving?

This weekend was a huge blessing in many unexpected ways.

Firstly, Caity recognized that it has been a full month since she finished working and has been adjusting to being at home full-time.  This gave us reason for pause and reflection together as it began to dawn on each of us that things are going alright–in fact we are less stressed and have less anxiety than before when she was working.  I would dare say that we are thriving more than ever and looking back at where we we’ve come from, we were just surviving in so many ways.  It’s amazing how God’s forward looks backward to us, but the truth is that it is always we who are moving backward when God wants to take us forward.

Then on Sunday morning we decided to be intentional about staying home and yet do something that would be fun.  Just as a quick note of background, we are currently without a TV since ours broke a few weeks back; Caity and I have decided not to replace it at this time but instead focus on getting creative about spending time together.  Our kids have expressed their feelings about the missing TV, but overall it’s been amazing to see how quickly we’ve all adapted.  Time doesn’t slip away from us anymore.

So anyway, we decided that we would make a fort under our dining table.

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It was big enough to fit us all.  Caity strung up Christmas lights underneath and we played our Rain & Thunder CD so it sounded like a storm outside.  Then to cap it off with a fun smorgasbord of snacks served up, we pretended that we were weathering the storm together and would laugh each time a thunder clap rang out through the downstairs.  It was hilarious.  It was fun.  It was relaxing.  We were thriving.

It’s amazing how sometimes the things that get taken away are actually done to give us back something more important.

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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Identity in Crisis ~or~ Identity in Christ?

Identity

Climb the right ladders.  Wear the right clothes.  Be seen with the right people.  Make socially acceptable choices.  Work hard to achieve success.  Make the right-sized paycheck.  Be independent.  Be self-sufficient.  Get noticed.  Get respect.

Is there any doubt about the messages the world bombards us with?  And not only that, but all of these above statements drill home on the true question each and every one of us face: Where is my identity?  All of these things do little to answer the question or assuage any doubt about the self.  In fact they can reverse progress and cause a personal identity to fall into crisis.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I struggle with this. I don’t have everything figured out, but I’ve been learning how to listen to what God says about identity.  The book of Proverbs is a perfect example of the chunks of wisdom that can be a source of direction when heeded and needed.

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man.” ~Proverbs 3:3-4

There is a direct connection between attitude (love) and actions (faithfulness) when it comes to accepting an honorable identity.  I find it’s important to go there first and perform an attitude gut check before following through on any possible decisions.  Then being faithful to my duties, whatever they may be, and being faithful to those whom I am committed.  The next two verses are also connected in a very important way:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6

There are times when we cannot problem solve our way out of the box that traps us.  This too has been a current struggle for my family as we’ve dealt with my wife losing her job and her unemployment benefits being initially denied.  There have been days where we feel like we’re hanging by a thread of hope, but that hope is always tied to Jesus.  We’ve learned how to submit everything we have and all that we are into his care at the foot of the cross, letting the things that are inconsequential die there while the things that are important are healed and given new purpose.

Caity too has struggled with her new identity as her previous one was wrapped up in working at her old job, serving people and making them happy; but now she is learning how to accept her new identity in Christ as a servant no-matter-what the position or paycheck.  She is currently a homemaker and starting to enjoy the new freedom.

I too have been learning how to submit everything at the foot of the cross, including my fears and hopes.  Fears of realizing that my current job cannot alone provide financially for my family.  Hopes of being a full time author as the next step in this journey.  There are other more minor fears and hopes too, but the biggies have kept me up at night.  This last week I had a moment of revelation from Caity–I needed to let these things go; submit them to God and be ready to accept their death and/or resurrection.  They are some of the last things I’ve been white-knuckling with my grip.

In the end I let it go.  I let it all go.  And with it went my stress and tension.  In its place now sits excitement.  I’m strapped in for the ride but I don’t have to drive–what a relief!  I don’t even know where we’re going yet, but I know that God is faithful. He will make my path straight.

I am relieved to know my identity is firmly in Christ and no longer in crisis.  Where is your identity?

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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Truth From My Children

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
~1 Corinthians 1:27

“Out of the mouths of babes…” We’ve all heard this phrase and in fact it’s become a part of the common English tongue so much that it could be considered tired and overused.  Yet the truth of it remains firm: from the humblest of us can spring forth the greatest wisdom.  As for me, I’ve known for a long time that my children are the greatest reflections of myself.  Both for the better and the worse.

For any of you who have been reading this blog regularly, you will know what a challenging season my family and I are in (however if you’re new, please feel free to read any of the posts categorized under On Faith or On Life).

This weekend was filled to the rim with God speaking to Caity and me through our children. On Saturday during the torrential downpour, we served the kids’ lunches at the table and we decided to go jog the lane right outside our house…in the rain!  We threw on our running gear, checked on the kids and then hit the pavement.

By lap two, our son Sam had put on his coat and stood by the front door, yelling for us to come inside because he was afraid it might thunder.  We assured him that there would be no thunder and it was just rain.  By lap four, the rain fell even heavier and the wind picked up; both Sam and Sophia were at the front door yelling for us to come in because they were worried that it was turning into a hurricane.  We assured them that Seattle doesn’t get hurricanes and it was just really heavy rain.

By our final lap, we came in the house soaking wet and filled with joy to have been out in the serious squall, but our children were less than amused and so we used the moment to teach them that even though it was raining really hard, they were safe; we had our eyes on them the whole time and it only looked scary because they don’t fully understand the weather.

Then later on Saturday, I took Sam to be my buddy and go to Les Schwab for some new tires for the Kia.  That place is like Candyland for my son, in fact I’m quite certain that if Sam had a choice between the actual Candyland or Les Schwab, there would be no competition.

As soon as we got there, he examined the new tires on the racks, on display, and on the cars through the observation window.  He played with the brake disks on display and with the computer console that allows users to test out different rims on different car models.  This kept him busy while I read my book…for two hours.

Yet it was when I would stand up and look out the window to see if the mechanics had started on my car that Sam would stop whatever he was doing, look at me and ask: “What are you doing Dad?”  And I would tell him.  Then he would hold up his hand and say: “You’re not going to leave me?”  And I would take that moment to reassure him that I am his father; that he is more precious to me than anything else and I would never, ever leave him.  We had this interchange three times.

Finally on Sunday as we packed into the car as a family to run errands, the kids recognized that lunch time was approaching, but not yet there.  Thus began the usual rigamarole that goes something like this:

Sophia: “Is it lunch time yet?”

Parent: “Not yet.”

Viola: “Are we going out for lunch?”

Parent: “We are in the car. So yes.”

Sophia: “What are we doing for lunch?”

Parent: “Don’t know yet.”

Viola: “I don’t want hamburgers.”

Parent: “Fine.”

Sophia: “Will it be delicious?”

Parent: “Obviously.”

Samuel: “LET’S GET HUNGRY!!

Many conversations surrounding food at the Patten household resemble this interchange, usually ending with Sam getting straight to the point.  *sigh*

It wasn’t until Sunday evening when Caity and I had some downtime to engage each other that we were able to reflect and recognize the significance.  God had been speaking to us through our children the entire weekend, giving us a glimpse of His perspective…and what He has to put up with.

Our kids’ concerns reflect our own when it comes to presenting our anxieties at the feet of God: This is scary and I’m afraid…please don’t leave me…will you provide for me?  The beauty of this all is very obvious; God gave Caity and I a chance to respond to our kids’ fears in the exact way that He is responding to ours: Don’t be scared, I know what’s happening…I’m your Father and I will never leave you…when have I ever failed to provide for your needs?

Being a child of God means having to live in trust as children do.  I’ve learned how to express my concerns to my Father, but I also want to learn how to trust him quietly when He speaks and says “all will be well.”  Just as it is a challenge to have children sit still and wait upon their parents, it too is a challenge for me to learn how to “be still” and know that He is God.

How do you respond to God with your anxieties?

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

Categories: On Faith, On Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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