Saturday, May 14, 2016

Reflecting on the Holy Spirit

“From the head to the heart, you take me on a journey...of letting go and getting lost in you."
Beau claims I overuse the word season more than any word in the English language.  I believe this applies to my love for the four seasons of our Midwest climate and all the lovely changes and traditions that go with that, but also, and especially lately, I’ve been talking a lot about the metaphoric seasons of our lives, how they come and go and bring new lessons and new learning with each one.  It’s a personal battle cry of mine – to be as present as I can through each season, living intentionally and trying my very best to embrace all the joy and the struggle that are present in each one.  I talked about this with Beau on Sunday, and I told him that I very much feel like I have crossed the threshold into a new season.  One where I can see God working in me and on me at the very same time, and it’s really quite amazing to feel Him in the driver's seat.  Life continues to be busy with the usual demands of work, studies, and raising kids, but it seems God has quieted my heart in a way that has opened my eyes to this season I’m in.  And he’s given me a great gift.  A gift I didn’t even realize how much I was longing for.  

God knows our needs more than we do.
For the last five years, I have been lost in the beautifully messy season of motherhood.  I’ve carried and birthed two babies, nursed them in the middle of the night and felt like the only soul awake in the entire world.  I’ve rocked, bounced, played, laughed, cried and loved over these two little souls that took my heart and ripped it in two with so much love that it makes me hurt.  And I have truly loved this season more than any other in my life.  This all-consuming love that came with motherhood consumed me right up with it.

I started to feel a new tug, however, around the time I attended our local If:Gathering in February.  I felt God's spirit start to move me in a new direction that day, one towards a greater focus on what I needed to do to grow as a woman and a follower of Christ in my current season.  One that nudged me toward community, toward building deeper connections with the women around me, and serving and showing up for others who need it.  Since then, through a few small but intentional steps, I have actively seen God's spirit leading me and providing me opportunities to grow deeper as a follower, a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a friend.  I have felt a renewed spirit in this new season, and with that, have felt called to sift, sort, and break apart the jumbled complexity of this life I'm living with a desire to walk away with a clearer picture of what this is all saying about me and my purpose.  I've barely scratched the surface to this, but wake up with a spark everyday and a challenge to be more intentional and purposeful about what I consume and how I respond.  

One of my daily blessings since February has been taking part in the If:Gathering's daily interactive Bible study called If:Equip.  I am nearly finished walking through a study of the Nicene Creed, where we have broken apart the foundational tenets of the Christian faith.  I was most moved by the section on the Holy Spirit, for I realized I have been completely underestimating the role the spirit has in my life, every day.  When Christ died, He knew we needed a helper, so he sent the Holy Spirit, not only to live with us, but in us, acting as this guide, this teacher, to empower us to do amazing things.  Seriously, the same power that enabled Jesus to rise from the dead is the power that now resides in us.  Now tell me we can't do hard things!

What I was most struck by, though, is the new life we've been given through the Spirit and what it looks like to live with that life giving spirit of God in us.  I began to let it sink in that every single day, my life is infused with God-given purpose, possibilities, and power.  There are no ordinary interactions, no idle time; every moment is laced with the very presence and power of God.  If we fix our eyes on that truth, every moment becomes one of power and importance.  What an amazing and exhausting opportunity that is!

One of the studies posed three questions that I copied in my journal and have continued to reflect on nearly every day since.  

1.  How does this truth about the Holy Spirit change the way you live today?  

2.  How is the Holy Spirit calling you into deeper fellowship with other believers this week?

3.  How has the Holy Spirit guided you and taught you?  Are there patterns or themes in how the Holy Spirit tends to lead you?

4.  Is there space in your life right now for you to intentionally seek the leading of the Holy Spirit?

I started listing some of the things that have happened since February and was amazed when I started to see the Holy Spirit at work through so many of these things.  Most of them small and seemingly insignificant at the time, but pretty powerful when I started to weave them all together.  Oftentimes, I make the mistake of thinking God is only present, the Bible only applicable during times of pain and struggle, but that the presence of the Holy Spirit exists in every moment of our lives, working for the good of those who open their eyes to see it.

A few of my Holy Spirit moments since February...

// The start of our monthly If:Table and the community that has formed and extended beyond our kitchen tables.

// Deepening friendships with women and the texts, conversations, and lunch dates that feel easy and fulfilling

// A greater discernment in my work place and a stronger voice regarding my limits.  Saying no to things that don't feel right

// Feeling a renewed sense of empowerment in my gift of serving and inspiring my students to be amazing teachers

// My morning treadmill run and half hour of "The Happy Hour" with Jamie Ivey

// Wild and Free, by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan

// This Whole 30 journey and my quest to reset and take control of my body and well being

// A new trust in the Holy Spirit to lead me as a parent

// A six week sermon series that spoke to me, challenged me, and inspired me to dig in even more

// A more disciplined approach to our consumption of social media and the false truths it teaches

// A nudge to spend a weekend with my dear friend, Kate, talking purpose and passion and podcasts tucked away in a cozy coffee shop on a rainy Sunday morning

As I wrote out these things and began to see the spirit's hand in so many areas of my life right now, I was motivated to continue sorting through them and identifying the themes or patters that surface.  I noticed my thirst for connection - to both receive Christ in others and extend his love to others.  I recognized my desire to feel inspired and alive amidst the daily motions of this sometimes mundane life.  I saw my need for balance and my struggle for control.  And as I identified the good, I was better able to recognize the areas of my life that were not feeding these spirit moments.  Vine and branches and the pruning that needs to occur in order for those fruits to flourish.

We spent Mother's Day afternoon planting our garden.  And this simple act of planting seeds and plants, hopeful they will grow to bear much fruit, is such a perfect metaphor for the work Jesus does in our lives.  My holy spirit moments seem small, but they are worth watering, for my prayer is they will grow and flourish and teach me all kinds of things.

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