Friday, December 31, 2010

What's Your Phrase?

I'm not great at keeping New Year's Resolutions. I often lose track of the things I know I should be focused on. Sometimes I feel like God whispers something to my heart and I stay focused for all of about 2 days... if I'm lucky.

When I was in high school I collected frogs (many of my former students can attest to the fact that this collection followed me for quite a while!). On my 16th birthday my sister bought me a little gold frog in a glass box. One day while inspecting the frog closer, I noticed a piece of paper in the bottom of the box that read, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince." Unfortunately, I TOTALLY embraced the saying. ;) I probably could have kissed less frogs (and by probably I mean I definitely could have kissed less frogs). However, it did help me keep perspective. I think I was a little more guarded with my heart than many of my friends because I wasn't convinced that every relationship was the end all, be all, for me. I knew there would be some frogs before I found my prince. I made peace with that and I had fewer delusions that every guy was probably my "happily ever after." For better or worse, consciously or not, this phrase was a guiding philosophy in my life.

Fast forward to college. I was still kissing frogs, but I was definitely searching for the prince. I was reading a book full of things written by Emily Dickenson when I came across the phrase, "I dwell in possibility." It spoke to my soul in a way that I cannot begin to explain. Cody's fond of saying that "all truth is God's truth." I think this was a God truth for my life. In relationships I was always unsatisfied because "what if there's someone better? what if this isn't my soulmate? etc." "Love the one you're with" was definitely NOT my motto. ;) When I met Cody, I could not imagine a better possibility, and I was certain I was where I was meant to be. That said, my endless dwelling in what "could be" didn't end there. I wasn't relating it to men anymore, but I realized that at my deepest level, God has created me to be a dreamer. I am always looking for a way to improve myself, my family, my surroundings, the future, history, etc. There's always a "next right step" and I'm always looking for ways to track it down and chase it. I love run down buildings because of all the potential... the possibility I see in them. Same with people, the messier the better. I TOTALLY dwell in possibility.

Then about 4 years ago we were in Charlevoix with my family, and I found a bracelet that read, "expect miracles." (it had little fish and loaves of bread on it... very cool) I was floored. I'm not sure why it struck such a chord for me in that moment, but I bought the bracelet immediately and the phrase became my new mantra. Slowly but surely, it started to define my world view. God was capable of so much more than I was giving him credit for in my life. I could, in fact, EXPECT miracles. Impossible things were suddenly possible. Not on a hypothetical level, but in actual practical ways I was believing God would step up and wow me. That phrase saw me through a TON of life change and risk. I clung to it when a friend broke his neck and almost died, while experiencing marriage trouble, when my husband felt God calling him to quit his job and plant a church, when there was no money to pay the bills, when we weren't sure if anyone would buy into the kind of church we were proposing, when attempting the first ever Trunk-or-Treat in our county, etc. etc.

Last fall, days after taking in our first set of foster kids, I was reading "Primal" by Mark Batterson, and somewhere in those first few chapters he wrote, "grace is always the right response," and my world was wrecked again. When dealing with kids who hurt your children, grace is always the right response. When your husband is exhausted and never home (and there are FIVE kids in the house and you need help) grace is always the right response. When the foster kids' mom gets angry at you because her son hurt himself sledding while in your care... grace is always the right response. I remember saying this to myself out loud after dropping the kids off for their visits, trying to convince myself of it's truth. You know what I learned? Those kids who hurt my kids were lashing out because they were miserably scared and hurt inside. My husband who wasn't "helping" the way I wanted was stressed to his breaking point and was trying to carry that burden on his own for my sake. The mom who snapped at me was probably angry with herself because she knew her son should have been home sledding with her, not with some random foster parent. The more I made an intentional attempt to keep this idea in front of me, the more grace opportunities I experienced, and the more aware I became of how self-focused I can be... how ungracious I am as a person. Then I became aware of how often I need grace and it all kind of came together in a new way. Want grace? Give grace. Whether deserved or not, appreciated or not, easy or not... grace is ALWAYS the right response.

So why do I share all this? Well, I'm realizing that one God truth can change everything for me. All of these past phrases have molded me and continue to frame my world view. I'm learning that one tiny phrase is something I am capable of clinging to, and frankly, I'm ready for a new challenge. So...

What's your mantra of the moment? What concept has impacted your life in the past? What is your goal for the new year? What God truth are you wrestling with right now? I want to learn what you're learning, so lay it on me!


Jodee said...

Amanda... I am always interested in your views... And, suprisingly, I've used some of your phrases at times in my life... Right now I'm working on "I'm sorry" ~ without adding "but....". I believe that I have to take responsiblity when necessary and not blame the other person for my slip-up.

Anonymous said...

Amanda.... Again, AMAZING!! This new year will bring about a lot of change for me. What I am working on right now is that "With God, all things are possible." I'm really trying to let him do the leading. Crazy enough - it's working. :) I can HEAR him now. Although, I'm scared because it is not what I expected him to say!


Amanda said...

Loving it girls! Thanks for sharing! Jodee- I love that... "I'm sorry" without the but... Crystal- I can't wait to hear what He's saying to you!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to grasp that God loves me as I am and has wonderful things planned for me. It's hard to believe because most days I don't even like me. I like the thought of expecting miracles!
Heather U

Amanda said...

Heather- BELIEVE IT! You know I'm believing it for you. ;) Not only does He love you, but He genuinely LIKES you too! *hugs*