Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving ... part of my test in cultivating a grateful heart! I've been reminded once again that it's really a decision to be thankful. I am reminded of the picture that came to mind when I was praying at the retreat a few weeks ago. Here it is ---- Playpen Time.
The playpen is green, pink and purple... fab colors of 14 years ago. In each corner is a stack: books, toys, sipper cup, and more toys. The baby is well-rested and has just been fed. Yet, as soon as she takes in her surroundings she begins to wail screams of discontent. She wants freedom from this playpen! And, yet, she is safe and has plenty at her disposal to contentedly occupy herself over the next half hour. My father consistently prayed for a hedge of protection around me as I grew up. When I compared notes mentally to the stories of the other ladies at the retreat, I was overcome with all that I have been taking for granted. I have been protected and now I’m free from many of the battle scars others must overcome. I’m grateful. I’m going to sit down in my playpen and be busy with what surrounds me ... contentedly. It’s playpen time!
And, so, the Roses stayed home this Thanksgiving. We had the option of traveling to Georgia to celebrate. But, we are home. My heart is right there in the heat of the battle again. Will I be cheerfully content or will I mope around and merely “get through” the holidays? Will I dwell on the many families I know who have the privilege of celebrating together? No! I’m going to look at the precious little (and not-so-little!) faces around my table and be grateful! And, I am.
Yesterday we cooked our meal – turkey, sweet potatoes, fresh bread, green beans, cranberry jello, pies – pretty much the works! We ate, took naps/read/watched movies, and played a LONG game of Catan. BTW, I won the Catan game :). So, it was really a good day of being home as a family. Briella had Titus dressed up in some outrageous outfits. It was nice to observe their tents, games of pretend and generally kind behavior towards one another! It was really wonderful to be free of our routine. We all agreed beforehand to “be free” of our computers. So, it took a conscious effort ... but we all did it!!! No phone calls to others, no e-mail, news, etc. We just focused on who we were with today.
But, here I am again sitting in front of the computer. I’d best get going!

HAPPY THANSKGIVING to all! Missing you all in Georgia... enjoy one another and take lots of photos for Aunt Lara.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I’m writing from such a grateful heart. A formerly discontent heart which has been transformed into a grateful heart by an extended period of time in prayer and worship of our great God. What a mighty Savior we have! I want to extol and praise God. Psalm 107 repeats this many times, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he....” I want to fill in the reasons why I can give thanks to God. I can see how the Lord wanted me there (at the 5LQ retreat) for so many reasons.
During our first meal, we were introduced to several team members. Stephanie impacted me most as she challenged us to “Just give Him what He wants.” I knew then what God wanted of me that weekend, but it took a while for me to get to that point of giving it to Him.
After supper we took a van down, down the hill to the chapel. It was nestled amidst trees near the creek bed, the site of the original farmhouse. In this quaint setting, we were asked to stand and declare, “Satan wants me to believe ____, but I’m alive and well!” That was Thursday night. I just couldn’t do that. I wasn’t alive and well. I was wallowing around in my pity party regarding my circumstances. Friday morning we looked at our personalities and our spiritual gifts. It was mostly a fun time and a good review of how God created us each uniquely. Friday afternoon we had three hours of “alone time” for looking up Scriptures and praying. Late Friday afternoon we looked again at the life of Joash. Dannah challenged us to define our WHAT and our WHY. (i.e. What are you? a wife & home-schooling mom. Why? Because ...) Afterwards she looked at how Joash forgot his WHY and was focusing on his WHAT (being king). Her point was that loving the WHAT more than the WHY risks the loss of the WHAT. I don’t want to lose the privilege of being home with my kids, yet I have entertained the idea of returning to work to ease our financial situation. I’ve allowed various stresses to take my focus off my WHY. So, this time of teaching was very convicting for me. Let me give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he brought me alongside four other homeschooling moms to encourage me and he reminded me of my purpose and worth in staying home.
Friday night’s teaching was all about the question, “Am I enjoying God?” Stephanie Powers was powerfully transparent as she shared about Seeds, Psalms, and Songs. Our challenge was to sow into our area of “sorrow.” Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with him.” We physically “sowed” little glass stones in one area of the room. Me? I am committing to The Love Dare from the movie “Fireproof.” It’s a really great book so far! (Jen – keep on keeping me accountable here!!) Then we ... you know what? I think I’m getting to caught up in the details. Here it is a week later and my notes are scarce on the next two points. She picked Isaiah 54:1, “Sing, O barren woman...” First, I prayed – for the first time I was on my face publicly. I obeyed the prompting of the Spirit and it was so rewarding. I asked God to rename my “naming” – my description – of my life. Just like the father changed Ben Oni (son of my trouble) to Benjamin (son of my right hand) – I asked God to change my description of my life. God spoke into my heart, “Lara, this is life of drawing you close to Me.” It’s true. Would I have been so desperate for the Lord if life was easy and without struggle? And, then we sang. Oh, we sang to the Lord with GRATEFUL hearts! Isaiah 54:1 continues “ ‘... you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the LORD.” How powerful it was for me to realize I needed to make this worship authentic --- just between me & God. I needed to stop worrying about what others might think about me and enjoy God. I’m learning! Let me give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he renamed my description of my past and gave me joy in worshiping Him.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I participated in an Inner Healing Prayer session. It was phenomenal! What power and might is availed to us when we simply bow before the throne. I have been struggling with a discontent heart for some time. So, they prayed that the stronghold of discontentment might be demolished in my life. The Lord brought to my mind Hebrews 13:5 (Be content with such things as ye have) as well as King Solomon. I realize that I can bathe my mind in God’s truth and not allow Satan to get a foothold in this area again. Deb – they challenged me to keep a contentment journal – just like you challenged us to do! Please pray for me to cultivate a grateful heart. Let me give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he freed me from the stronghold of discontentment fed by envy and put in me a heart of joy and gratefulness to Him.
I realized that retreats are not really “escaping reality.” That’s what I thought as I left. You know, it’s a lot of work just to get out of the house! I figured that I’d come back home having lost a weekend’s worth of work around the house. And, I was right. But, my perspective was permanently altered by having had the extended period of quiet to nurture my communion with God. It was a privilege for me. Although I returned home to all of the same challenges I left behind, I know God more intimately. I can walk this road with Him with renewed hope because I know His power more fully – firsthand.