Thursday, February 25, 2016

Perfection in Our Imperfect Life

I would call our life perfect. Not because it is perfect, but because it has imperfections, just like everyone else. We all struggle. Today is one of those days in our house. Based on some Facebook posts I'm reading, I know we are not alone. Our struggles on this bad day seem mild in comparison to others. Still, the sink and counters are full of dirty dishes to fill the dishwasher,
there  are piles of unfolded laundry on the couches downstairs, 
there is a residual mess left over from overnight company, 
there are piles of toys I am going to need an army to pick up, 
there are overflowing trashcans, 
there are difficulties breastfeeding and wiping a bottom - at the same time;
all of this because my poor 10 month old is sick and needs mommy to hold her. 
All the time.
If I'm not, she's screaming. 
These imperfect days are the days you don't see on Facebook, so I hope to make it abundantly clear to all my readers that our life is full of imperfections.

We fight. We resolve. We make up.
We laugh. We cry.
We struggle. We work hard. We play.
We fail each other. We fail our children. We fail to meet God's perfect standard of holiness - every minute of every day.
We sin. We're convicted. We repent. 
We stand in a state of grateful awe for Jesus - every minute of every day!

I won't write about all of our imperfections for many, many reasons; and yet I feel that being transparent is vital for our Christian walk. Therefore I am transparent in many areas of our life as BecKyle. We are sinners who will be refined by trials, testing, and tribulation - just like everyone else. Like everyone else we deal with consequences and have good and bad days.

The good outweighs the bad because God has 
satisfied our soul with Himself, 
given us love and satisfaction in each other,
blessed us with two beautiful girls who constantly have snotty noses and huge smiles, 
and a roof over our heads filled with laughter, music, and play.
He's also blessed us with  
a comfy bed, 
a full pantry, 
hot/cold running clean water, 
clothes in abundance,
a computer that allows me to share all this with you,
and a camera to capture the memories.

When I see the  lists of "perfections" it's hard to be anything but joyful over our circumstances. We deserve none of it and yet God has given us this life. This breath! And I as long as He gives me breath I will praise Him for the perfect imperfections. I know He's using whatever He gives and takes away to draw me - us - closer to Himself. 

What an incredible thing to gain on these "bad" days!

So the next time I argue with my husband, or our 3 year old throws a temper tantrum at church, or sickness plagues everyone in this house, or an unexpected bill rears its ugly head during a particularly tight month, I will give credit to whom credit is due. For He gives and He takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

5 Places On My Bucket List Thanks to Books

Books inspire me. They give new vocabulary. Formulate pictures. Make me cry or laugh. Discover places I want to see with my own eyes someday. Here's a few of those places...
  1. Jerusalem, Dead Sea, Bethlehem, Israel, Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Valley at Elah, Mt Carmel, and many, many other places I'm constantly reading about in the Bible. This list is short for here, because it could be endless. Seeing the Holy Land I read about daily would be a wonderful visual to help me understand Scriptures more fully. Plus, I want to plant my feet in places Jesus stood. What a faith building journey this would be!
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  2. Prince Edward Island, Canada made the list thanks to L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. Most especially the "White Sands Hotel" which is actually called "Dalvay by the Sea". It's romantic reputation is so well known that Prince William and Kate stayed there as part of their honeymoon tour! It's gorgeous surroundings and history pull me in...
  3. The Marvel's by Brian Selznick was inspired by one of the most famous tourist attractions in London called Dennis Severs House. The description of this house on the home page of it's website is so incredibly intriguing: "Dennis Severs' House at 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields is more than just a time capsule. It's both a breathtaking and an intimate portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century. As you follow their fortunes through the generations, the sights, smells and sounds of the house take you into their lives. It was Dennis Severs' intention that as you enter his house it is as if you have passed through the surface of a painting, exploring with your senses and imagination a meticulously crafted 18th Century world." Every room tells a story (see The Plot). Every page in this book - with no words - tells an adventurous, mysterious story. Either you see it or you don't. And I want to see what inspired Brian Selznick: Dennis Severs House. 
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  4. The Ravensbruck National Memorial, near Berlin, is high on my list thanks to Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. Her experience in the largest concentration camp for women and how God used her there is a powerful, life-changing read (here's my review). I think it's a book everyone should get their hands on!  
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  5. I taught Homer Hickam's October Sky, a non-fiction book, all about his life in Coalwood, WV during the days of Sputnik. His fascination with rockets inspired his involvement in the Space Race. The story behind the rockets these boys launched inspire readers to work hard and persevere. This is a book my kids always enjoyed. Teaching it year after year only added to my desire to visit Coalwood and see for myself the beautiful, historic places Homer Hickam talks about in his book (even his mother's beloved Myrtle Beach). I especially want to visit during their October Sky Festival where the community celebrates the Rocket Boys and all they accomplished ( I think visiting these places would add so much to my teaching of this historic book. (Check out Homer Hickam's website to learn more about his adventure!) 
    Perhaps it's the teacher in me and the history nerd, but I love exploring old schools. Homer Hickam speaks fondly of the teachers who challenged him to academic excellence - if only these walls could tell the stories of those teachers! (Image Source)
The machine shop is the setting for many important events in the Rocket Boys story! (Image Source)

I encourage you, if you haven't already, to read these books and be inspired. I haven't actually set foot in these places just yet, but I've been there, many times.

Friday, February 19, 2016

What does Labor & Delivery Reveal About God?

Nearly 10 months ago I gave birth to our second child and it was then that I really began thinking about all that labor and delivery tell us about God. These are my reflections:

  1. God is a "man of His word". He says it and it is. He speaks and it comes to pass. From His mouth is truth. And He said waaaaaaay back in Genesis 3:16 that delivering babies would hurt, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children." I mean, I believed Him, because it was Him that brought the pain about because of sin, but it wasn't until I experienced birthing my girls that I truly began to grasp that concept. It hurts. It hurts because He said it would. ALL mommy's (no matter how we delivered), since the beginning of time, can attest to this truth!
  2. God uses pain to draw us to Himself. I love listening to birth stories. It's through these stories that I've learned we all share in this truth: we all struggle and we all are blown away by this miracle of life! It is through pain that God disciplines, refines, and produces growth. Labor and delivery is like sandpaper. We use sand paper to grind on a rough piece of wood and with enough time it is smooth - refined. I truly believe the pain we experience is used to produce growth. And it is through pain that we learn to rely on Him. Dave Zulegar said the most amazing thing to concrete this truth into my mind, "God is good to give us the greatest gift He can give us, which is more of Himself, and He's good however He chooses to deliver that gift." (Read that article here: Can a Good God Bring Pain?) I can personally attest to the fact that He used pain in my life to give more of Himself. It's in these birth stories that this truth is revealed: He gave me tremendous gifts through labor and delivery. I received more than the gift of my children the day I experienced the pain of delivering them! I received more of Him! As a result, I changed so much! That is why those birth stories are near and dear to my heart and are so much of who I am today. I am not the same person I was before becoming a mommy. I think that is one of the main reasons mommy's share their stories whenever we get together. It's so exciting to talk about how God used our pain to draw us to Him!
  3. Our God-given roll to birth children is an incredible privilege! We get to personally participate in God's plan to create people! This miracle of creating life was given to women and we need to see it more as a blessing and less as a curse.
  4. He is a God of miracles. There is absolutely nothing more miraculous than the conception, growth, and delivery of a baby. Being part of that process first hand gives mothers wonderful insight into His miraculous, sovereign, almighty, and beautiful work. 
  5. God glorifies His name and exalts His word through labor and delivery. Psalm 138:2 reveals that God exalts above all things His word and His name. How does He use labor and delivery? The exaltation of His word comes to pass when Genesis 3:16 is revealed as true. We should give glory and honor to His name as we participate in the privilege of bringing forth (and growing) life. We can echo David's prayer in Psalm 139:13-18 because we understand, from firsthand experience, God's mind boggling omnipresence, miraculous power, and His limitless care for His children, "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand." He is limitless. He is ever present. He is all-knowing. He is wise. His works are worthy of praise. He sees all. He does all. He sets limits. He creates breath. He is unfathomable. Labor and delivery reveals all of that! What a miracle! What a privilege that we get to experience that! So THANK YOU Lord for the pain, the growth, and the stories that reveal YOU.
Here are mine: Baby B's Birth and Baby Eleanna's Birth Story. I would love to read and share yours.