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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pruning


pruning:
to cut away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.


i am in such a learning, teaching, repentant time of life. the Lord is so good. and so faithful to show me myself in light of his holiness. i attribute it back to our church plant, Revision Church. ever since January, when our church launched, the Lord has been speaking to me in such a real & precious way. He has just taught me so much about community, friendship, love for my brother in Christ, loving & serving my husband, being content in my role of motherhood, discipleship, and how the church (whole body of Christ) is meant to truly operate. its just unreal how much i have learned. not to my credit, of course, but all for his glory.

i have read 3 really great books in the past month. i can't wait to blog about each of them and all of the things the Lord taught me about my attitude, my heart & my motives. ouch. he has been pruning me. its really the best word i can think of to describe his work in my life. he is peeling back the layers of me that are overgrown & dead to make me look more like Jesus & to help me be more effective, faithful, content & wise in my growth.

i love our church. i love the people. i love the high level of accountability. i love the discipleship. i love the music. i love the preaching. i love the community groups. i love my community group. but i love how i see Christ at work, the most. i love that Jesus is our mission & the center of why we exist corporately & individually. i never want the great aspects of Revision to outshine Christ. praying he is always exalted above all else.

lately, the Lord has been using our specific community group to teach me so much. i can not say enough about how much i love these people. we have bonded so quickly. we have so much fun. we have great, healthy biblical discussions about the weekly sermon & all the Lord is teaching us in the day to day of life. we keep up with each other through the week & we challenge each other in the Word. instead of looking at church as something i must attend once or twice per week, i now praise the Lord that i get to be involved at Revision. i look forward to Sundays. i cherish each service & community group meeting b/c i know these are sweet days in the life of our church. once you get a taste of true, biblical community you never want to go back. it is truly life changing. and so needed for every christian. i honestly can't say enough about the importance of community. but, i've already blogged about that here.

there are some very specific areas that the Lord has been pruning in my heart. He has used his word, a close friend, my husband, a church planting conference and those 3 books to convict me. it hasn't been the most pleasant "look in the mirror" but it has been beneficial. i am so thankful that he has keeps drawing me, keeps calling me to repentance, keeps changing my heart, keeps strengthening my convictions & keeps forgiving me. one major thing that is stuck in my heart & mind on a daily basis is this:

in every area of my life, i am blessed. in every area i have reason to give thanks. so, i have no reason to ever:

Complain
Compare
Control

i can not complain about 1 single thing. complaining does NOT come from a heart of contentment. i am to be thankful for my husband, his job, our kids & their personalities, my responsibilities of raising my kids, the home i live in, the location of my home, the clothes i own, the budget we live on, the amount of date nights we are able to have, our church, our friends & our families. even when i am frustrated about things, NO complaining. b/c things could always be worse, always be harder, always be more stressful. i do not want anyone to be able to say i am a complaining, contentious woman. i want to be seen as content & joyful in any situation.

i can not compare. this one is more difficult for me internally. comparing does not come from a heart of contentment. i can not compare:
my marriage vs another marriage
my children vs other children
the way we raise our kids & our convictions in this area vs the way someone else raises theirs
our home vs anyone else's
our budget vs another family's income
our church size vs another church plant or existing church
our material possessions vs what someone else has
my body (skin, hair, weight, figure) vs another woman's body
my spiritual gifts & the areas the Lord has both gifted me & in ways i struggle vs anyone else
my position as a pastor's wife vs another woman in our church & her position
my friendships vs other girls & their close friends

i could go on & on with this, but you get the picture. i just can't compare. and that can be very difficult. i have reason to praise God b/c he has given me this body, my specific hubby & kids, our vocation, our church, our families, friends & home. this can be a daily struggle. and i have to be careful that i do not look at others & long for what they have but that i also do not look at others & be "thankful" that at least i'm not that bad. make sense?! no comparing. its just a waste of time.

i can not control. this is also internal, for me. my biggest battle in this area is with the Lord. i struggle with questioning his way over mine. i try to do something my way when i know His way is best. i will fill my prayers with what i want & how i want it instead of just praising him for who He is & what He has done in my heart & life. if i feel like something is taking too long or i'm frustrated b/c i feel as if things could be better, it's really just my flesh trying to control a situation. so sinful. i have learned, through the years, that i can deeply trust Jesus. He is sufficient. and because of this, i can trust him with my life. i can also trust Ben. he has NEVER given me reason to believe that he doesn't want God's best for our family. following him is just easy. and so fun! but there are days that i have to admit, i will try to manipulate him in the small things. like, how or why we are choosing to do something. instead of just trusting him. controlling does NOT come from a heart of contentment. its just prideful.

i am a pastor's wife. that does not mean that i am elevated to a level of holiness above anyone else, but it does mean that i may have a higher level of accountability than some. people are watching me. watching how i talk to Ben, how i handle my children, how i dress, how timely i am, how much i serve or volunteer, and even how i blog, tweet or facebook. sometimes, if i allow myself to dwell on that, it can become overwhelming. very overwhelming. i feel as if i will never live up to a certain standard. que the pruning. man is not my standard. Christ alone is my measure for holiness. i aim to please & glorify him. if i keep my eyes on Jesus, then the rest of those things will fall into place. and ultimately, i am so thankful that i am being watched. not because i want all eyes on me, i do not! but because it keeps me humble. keeps me in a constant state of prayer & challenges me to love Jesus more. to serve Ben without a complaint, to love my kids sacrificially, to give of my time for other girls & to happily be part of Revision Church.

walking with Jesus was never intended to be easy. pruning is not fun. or pleasant. but it is so needed because it makes us more like Jesus. and that is the end goal. i want to look as little like Audrey as possible. i want to look fully like Jesus. my heart craves a spirit filled life.

i am so thankful for accountability. i have 2 close friends that have committed to holding me accountable in some big ways. i love these girls. i need them & they need me. we have a sweet, fun relationship. and i trust them implicitly. but i also have 2 precious sisters that are so faithful to show me nothing but love. i feel accountable to them b/c i know they look to me in some ways. and i love that we have such a healthy close relationship. i have the other staff wives at our church. couldn't be more thankful for them & the relationship we all have. they are amazing, godly women. and i have a couple girls in our church that i meet with on a weekly basis. pouring your life into someone else demands accountability. i can not teach them or speak truth to them if i am not living it myself. and then there is my greatest accountability partner, my husband. he amazes me. his love for Jesus is so real. just living with him is convicting & holds me to such a level of accountability. the Lord uses him every single day to teach me something. and my sweet kids. i am accountable for how they are raised. that is huge to me.

whew. this is way longer than i intended it to be. i just wanted to sit down & type out all that i am learning in this blessed season of life. i could probably keep going, but no need.

thankful for Jesus & his pruning. so very thankful. may he be glorified even on my worst day.

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