Freedom Under a Watchful Eye

It was that first act of defiance in the face of GOD so long ago that forever altered our DNA. Defiance towards our Creator is now our default and our nature demands the anointing of self as king rather than the King of kings. We shun submission, scorn surrender and scoff at servitude to the Almighty God, never pausing to consider the very fact of our existence in the first place. At what point before we existed did you or I determine our own conception? We loftily think that exercising our free will defines our freedom; in reality, it is we who forge our own chains.

Not long ago I gained a better understanding of this concept of freedom when I observed my two-year old at the splash park. She was reluctant to venture out but after some coaxing she attempted a new part of the play area on her own. As she was climbing the stairs, she paused and scanned for my face. Once she saw I was watching, she smiled and went forward with more spring in her step. In that moment I recognized that my freedom is found, not when I’m on my own, doing things my way, but when I’m in the presence of God. Under His love-filled gaze I can enjoy and explore life, confident that He will guide and prompt me as He deems best.

Our society revolts against God at every turn. It is driven by emotions , follows the heart and worships self- all of which lead only to destruction. Ironically, the freedom we seek is found in dethroning self and pledging allegiance to our Maker.

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Discovering Freedom

July. The year is more than halfway to its completion but it seems like yesterday when we celebrated a festive Christmas season. And yet time has continued its steady tread to a destination only known by God. I ponder man’s relationship with time and the unquenchable yearning for something other than what we have.

Freedom. There are many nuances to this concept and this month I plan to unwrap some of those nuances. I am sure our immediate image of freedom is one of fireworks on the Fourth of July, but even that has deeper meanings than is usually considered. We say it’s our nation’s birthday but when was the last time we dug into the history books and relived the incredible sacrifices of those who birthed this land?

Freedom. Is it the permission to do whatever we want? Does the pursuit of happiness give us license to indulge in every whim and fancy stemmed from an avoidance of want and pain? And what if your desire inhibits my sense of freedom? What then? These are questions that only lead back to the ultimate Source of freedom and a recognition that the only chains worth considering are the chains that stretch into eternity.

Freedom. The absence of fear. A clear conscience. Peace with who I am. A foundation of unshakable joy in the midst of great sorrow or intense depression. An assurance that my sin debt has been paid in full by Jesus Christ. The knowledge that the Almighty God knows my name.

Freedom to live and work and play and worship without fear of imprisonment, torture or death is priceless. But the freedom that comes through a saving relationship with our Creator God is infinitely greater.

How would you describe freedom?

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Quiet in the Loud

Perhaps it’s because I’m so desirous of rest that it seems elusive; or maybe I’m aware of the need to practice rest and therefore am more conscious of where I’m lacking in that discipline. On this particular weekend I caught both glimpses of how I should be and why it is difficult for me to remain in that restful state of mind.

Our family took a day trip and despite the challenges that arise when taking #5under5 on a mini road trip and away from their routines, I was peaceful. Just 24 hours later I was bombarded with all the details of managing our household and found it incredibly daunting. Why the change in my peace?

During my devotions this morning I believe that God revealed the missing link: rest and peace come when I tune into the quiet voice of Jesus more than the clamor of my responsibilitiesTo keep Jesus the focus of my gaze is much easier said than done; however, that needs to be the goal of each day rather than my to-do list or parenting or my marriage. When I am striving with life on my own strength even the littlest task can appear insurmountable but when I make Him the center of each moment even a mountain is moveable.

Once again I have encountered the truth that quiet can be found in the loud, rest in the midst of busy and peace in the eye of the storm.

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Grains of Truth: Using Whole Grains the Easy Way

In this informative, easy-to-read book Donna G. Spann provides detailed facts on both little known and familiar grains. Her information includes the history, some dating back thousands of years, nutritional value and recipes. After reading this book one will feel motivated to not only try these grains but also to continue a study of healthy eating in a simple way.

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Relaxation Discoveries

I’m feeding the baby as I write this; the older kids are attempting to do their morning chores but the sounds emanating from the dining room indicate that chores have turned into play. My husband’s summer vacation time hasn’t turned into quite the stay-cation I had anticipated. I had envisioned endless hours of family play and local discoveries; home projects being accomplished swiftly and daily routines being perfected.

Instead we have just been getting by. The baby is still unpredictable in his sleep patterns and our morning chores barely get done before it’s lunch time. Our summer bucket list continues to wait on us and the home projects multiply exponentially. Can relaxation be found in the cacophony of demands upon our time and energy?

It is possible but it’s a life skill that needs practice, and I’m a long way from being perfect in it. I tend to think that I need to plan ahead for times of relaxation and to prepare for fun. But upon further reflection of our summer thus far I see that we have had good times: father and son fishing in our lake; a spontaneous family tickle fight before bed; lingering over breakfast; ordering take out and watching a movie after the kids are in bed. We have had deep family conversations and turned doctor appointments into mini road trips with snacks and books and country music. So what makes the difference between regular life and relaxed life?

While rest is pausing to breathe, I think that relaxation is a focused determination to breathe levity into the ordinary. It’s a matter of attitude and expectations: anything can be joyful with the proper perspective. My husband reminds me that this season of #5under5 is a time of taking life in small doses. There will be many things we simply cannot do right now but relaxation doesn’t have to be one of them. I’m going to keep practicing.

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The Mystery of Rest

I am not third trimester tired anymore since I can actually sleep when I have the chance to sleep. But I am still tired. On average, I am operating on 4 hours of sleep a day. If the baby sleeps, most likely someone else will be waking up during the night. And when morning comes I have to will my eyes to open and my body to leave the bed.

This morning my emotions were pretty low. My husband was at work, there were 5 babies to feed, dogs to walk, laundry to wash, a blog to write and texts needing answering. I wanted to cry (and probably did a little). Could I rewind to the day after delivery so I could stay in bed all day without guilt? I just wanted to rest a little longer.

And then my thoughts moved to a higher plane. Perhaps there is a way to rest mindfully if not physically. Perhaps it’s the mind that craves a peaceful state more than our bodies desire a horizontal state. And then I thought about my precious newborn. Left alone on his back he flails and cries and does not rest. But as soon as I pick him up and snuggle him with his arms and legs tucked under him and his body close to mine, he relaxes and sleeps.

I think that’s a picture of me too. On my own my mind and heart flail in panic at all that is required of me. My strength is inadequate for the intensity of my responsibilities. The more I flail the more exhausted I become. But if I draw near to Jesus and listen to His heart I can find rest in the midst of the labor. And if my heart is peaceful I can rest in the center of the chaos.

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Susanna Wesley: The Mother of John and Charles Wesley

This biography by Arnold A. Dallimore is a succinct overview of a strong, gifted, intelligent, yet under appreciated woman. Dallimore uses extensive research of letters and other books to reveal a woman who suffered a lifetime of tragedy and disappointment. In spite of all that she endured, this heroine of the faith poured her life into raising her children with intentionality, often alone and in poverty, and in the process encountered a new level of faith in her Savior. Her heart is echoed in her prayer “that God would make me better and take me at the best.”

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