anxiety and our kingdom

lately, i have been super anxious. i have been anxious about our summer plans and the programs in massachusetts and israel that matt is applying for (when will we know? when is the deadline? should i re-new my passport? look at plane tickets? what will happen to our apartment?….). i have worried about my timeline for our family and why we are neither pregnant or have received our foster care license yet (what is wrong with right now? our backgrounds are clean–why is it taking so long?). worried about my sister’s wedding and their constantly changing lives/plans.

however, the theme keeps ringing: all has been provided for and completed by God. i can’t see the whole story, but am stuck in a minute fraction of life and my near-sighted vision is causing me: distress, sleeplessness, depression, etc. and even when i have tried to give all these things in prayer to God, it seems that they come right back to me. that probably shouldn’t happen, but it does. i realized last week during a women’s study at church, it might be tied to my lack of faith: i don’t want to give it up because i trust in my capabilities/planning strategies more than God’s plans. i like to make lists, be in control, try to maintain all around me. this time i can’t and i don’t want to trust someone else to handle this: there must be something i can do that can neatly stack my life/future order.

slowly my heart has been learning to release its grip. just realize, i have no control. this doesn’t mean i lay back and let life have a go with me, but my stress and anxiety is not worth it. not worth my time and energy and mental capacity. God will bring the answers in his own time. meanwhile i read this today from the lental devotions journey to the cross:

“Our consumerism is rooted in a lack of faith. We are worried about what others think because we are not convinced that God delights in us (Psalm 149:4). We are anxious because we do not believe God will meet our needs (Matthew 6:32). We vie for attention because we do not think God rewards what is done in secret (Matthew 6:6). We compare ourselves to others because we forget that Jesus is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). A consumer is self-seeking because he is preoccupied with building his own kingdom in order to meet his own needs. During Lent, Jesus especially calls us to re-right our lives, to “Seek fist the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

may this passage help to challenge your heart and ponder what you are not giving up, whether it is worry, anxiety, comparison, attention, etc. a friend encouraged me to look at where God has provided in the past and i think that will be a good place to start.

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the journey into the wilderness

matt at the high museum

matt at the high museum

a few years ago, i read an amazing article on lent entitled “consider lent.” i looked for it again this year as i realized ash wednesday was approaching.

there were a few quotes that really struck me from the post:

Lent is about remembering our Lord’s sacrifice for us, confessing how little we appreciate and value it, thanking Him for it, and focusing on it, to prepare ourselves for the highest day of celebration in the church calendar–Resurrection Day, or Easter.

It isn’t meant to be legalistic. The giving up of something during the forty days of Lent (not including Sundays, which are “feast days”–a Sabbath from your fast, if you will) has to do more with reminding us of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Each time that I forgo that cookie (or tv show, or checking Facebook, or whatever), I am reminded that my life does not consist of these things, but is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I’m dying to my flesh, just a little bit, in order to live to the Spirit.

It’s also a reminder of who my savior is. What do I go to, when I am lonely/depressed/anxious/angry/worn out/impatient? Do I go to my pseudo-savior (food, internet, exercise, work, sex, activity)? Or do I go to the One who truly saves, who understands, who can meet my needs fully, and in whom I can trust and rest?

the post also included an amazing devotional called “journey to the cross” by kendal haug and will walker that i know i should work through.

a few things that i have taken away from the devotional so far: “Lent is not about your faithfulness, but rather about the faithfulness of Jesus on your behalf…” –so many times i think about the things “i do” for jesus. but it is not about me, it is about looking upward and not inward. as this quote says, “don’t pretend that the absence of ______ [] will sufficiently help you draw near to God.” for me, this is an easy trap to fall prey to: well i gave up netflix or facebook, so i am doing my part. my heart wants to make the list and walk away–not explore how much farther i could try to experience/rely on God, “lent is not about what we do for Christ. It is about plumbing the depths of what he has done for us.”  how does this look in everyday life?

Jesus’ fasting for 40 days was not a “religious ritual” or “display of restraint,” ” it was a time of trial and temptation which he endured by entrusting himself to God and being nourished on the Word of God. The point of the wilderness, for Jesus, was to experience the real presence of God with him, and power of God at work in him.”

so in essence: “Lent is for, to reflect on our lives as they are and as they could be.” the point is “to reorient life God-ward.” our “giving up” should not remind us of “missing things,” “but rather to be awakened to how much we miss God and long for his life giving spirit.”

not even a week into lent,  how would it would look to be more sufficient in God, whether that is adding or subtracting from your daily routine?

lent: the destroyer

so. matt and i started lent. and then failed. and then restarted.

yup. we’re morons. and taking off netflix during the week was/is hard.

we’re ridiculous. and we know it.

i went to go see matt teach during a review session on monday. this would not have happened had lent not been in session. i promised matt i would be good in his class and not act like a promiscuous student or embarrass him in any form. he agreed (and he did such a great job–i was exceedingly proud).

upon arrival home at 9:30, matt suggested we relax with some parenthood. i reminded him it was lent. we realized we would have not been able to share some of the good (and bad) experiences of last week and this week had it not been for lent.

anyhow. what is there to do without tv? well, there are libraries. so i stocked up:

IMG_3883

suffice to say, lent is about more than giving things up or not giving things up. to perhaps give a better perspective, check this out:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/files/2013/02/Journey-to-the-Cross.pdf.

it is a really great lent devotional (don’t roll your eyes). matt and i have not been keeping up with it, but the parts we have read have been super.

in addition, i gave my two weeks notice last friday. as soon as that is done, matt’s spring break begins and we’ll be heading back to nebraska. and what will i do upon arrival back to bloomington? i have no idea. but that is fine.

update on erica: only one of her breast tumors in cancerous, the other one benign. unless they find cancer in the lymph nodes, they will just have to perform a single mastectomy and there will be no chemotherapy needed. keep praying!