Lately I've put the kids to sleep by reading a bible story to them and praying, and there is such a peace that comes over that room, we all just fall asleep with a smile on our faces... I've been falling asleep with them - maybe even ahead of them!
Tonight I let Paul put the kids to sleep so I can accomplish some much needed housework. Our balcony, our kitchen, and our yard looks MUCH better (and Paul helped with that too!).
I still have a couple of "messes" here and there, which should be taken care of by tomorrow.
I made a chart with all the things I wanted to accomplish each day, so that I break down everything that needs to get done into a few manageable tasks each day. I don't always do everything on the list, but I've been a bit more on-track (at least with school work). I haven't quite exercised yet. And I have woken up every morning to pray - just from my bed... not quite made it to my Bible this week, but I will keep trying until I get there.
I am so thankful for biblegateway.com! I read my bible tonight online. I was in the living room and it was late, the baby was going to sleep and I couldn't keep all the lights on... so I just opened my laptop and read the book of Zephaniah in the NLT. It spoke to me.
I've experienced the sting of judgment, the burn of consequences resulting from all the choices I made outside of God's guidance. But I love how that book ends: "He will rejoice over you with singing, He will calm your fears, He will redeem you with love..." One of those last verses, as if to drive the point - no matter how bad it seems things have to get before you have your head on right and turn in the right direction, your Heavenly Father is right there to receive you, comfort you, and cheer for you from that moment on! There is redemption, and there is restoration.
I experienced His redemption when I accepted Christ as Savior. Through the eternal power of the cross, Jesus pointed to me and told the Father, "This wild child is mine!" He paid the price for me. I belong to Him and there is nothing that can change that. Romans says that there's no height, no depth, nothing in the past, nothing in the present, and nothing in the future that can separate me from God's love. Jesus said, "All those that the Father gives me are mine, and no one can snatch them out of my hand," in John. He is the Good Shepherd, and even if all the other 99 in sheep in His care are perfect and pretty in the pasture, He never says, "Ok... I got 99 left. This will do." Nope. He goes out and finds me, and carries me back to the flock... as many times as it takes until I am in Heaven.
I am waiting for His restoration. I don't know entirely what it will look like, although I have some earthly ideas.
I think restoration for our family will look like a 2 bedroom home (at least) where the kids can sleep in their own bedroom and not on the sofa in our living room. And Paul has a good job. And I'm actually doing good at my job. And we are thriving, versus the "surviving" we are doing now.
I possibly see us plugged in to a church where we are making meaningful connections within the fellowship and have found our "ministries", so to speak - our points of service in God's kingdom where our talents and gifts combine with a need, and we can share God's love in some way...
Maybe I will even have a fully restored heart, free from bitterness, pain, or regret. A heart that truly forgives (I have to wrestle with this one every day). I'd love to be back to my joyful self of having energy and reading books, blogging more often, thinking of things to do for God's kingdom... Hopeful and looking forward to the things that God has with me with anticipation. I can't say that I'm quite there yet, but I am definitely doing better. I'm walking through the valley of the shadows BUT I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And yet, even when I feel a bit... exiled and a little heart achy... because it's not all that together just yet... As I'm standing on the other side of the Jordan looking into the Promised Land that I should've conquered YEARS ago but I screwed things up in my rebellion... I know that He is with me. His Holy Spirit is always confirming in my heart that He will never leave me, never forsake me. He loves me, I know this, and it strengthens my resolve to keep waiting as I inch forward. He loves me and it keeps me from giving up. Even in His discipline I feel His gentleness on me so as not to break me, not to push me past the point where I can't bear it anymore (oh, how many times I thought I was at the end of me! Only to see that God knew I was stronger than I thought...). He sings over me. I can't help but sing too.