Day 25 of 30 Days of Breakthrough

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Today’s story comes from…yours truly! While I await the submission of the remaining testimonies, I am sharing one which I was freshly reminded of this week…one which often gets lost in the daily grind of my life. It is a breakthrough I don’t often recognize as breakthrough, but one which I’m quite sure Heaven does, and all my future generations will.

(Sidenote…since I am still accepting testimonies for the remainder of this week. If you’ve been inspired by what you’ve read this month and have a breathrough/resurrection story of your own that you’d like to share, please email it to me within the next 3 days @ belovedalvarez@yahoo.com)

I won’t introduce my story with the boasting I’ve done for other contributors, but instead I will boast of the beauty of a God Who leads us into unfamiliar and terrifying places, and there proves Himself amazingly sufficient to meet every need, and to be present for every moment. I have no regrets about this journey I’m about to share with you, although, most days, it is still a difficult one for me. What I do have, however, is a great sense of pleasure in being a part of God’s plans, and watching them unfold daily – despite my own fears and failures.

He is truly amazing, and I am completely aware that I haven’t even begun to see the impact of this breakthrough in all the ways He has intended for it to bear its fruit. But I surely will!  And it is my daily privilege, even when it doesn’t feel like such, to walk in this ‘yes’ that is changing lives with every step…mine, my children’s, and those who haven’t even yet been born. It is my utter hope and conviction that the world will see and know, through my yes, what God is capable of and what He intends for His children.

May you find courage here for the yes God is asking you to give.

My name is Beloved. I am a 42 year old daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, wife, mother, auntie friend, and the apple of Jesus’ eye. And this is my resurrection story…

Home was never a place I wanted to be, as I grew up. In fact, home was so full of chaos, brokenness, and despair that I left when I was 14 years old. Of course, I didn’t have a clue what home was supposed to be like, but I knew that what I had known so far wasn’t it. I was determined to find something better, so I went off in search of it.

I have lived in many homes since then, and in each one discovered something I either wanted or definitely did not want to adopt for the home I would eventually seek to build myself. Now that I’ve been married and engaged in the work of cultivating my own home for almost 16 years, I’ve realized that home is where God does His most beautiful work. And that, therefore, my role in cultivating a home that invites others to experience His heart and presence is not just a responsibility, but a calling.

This realization didn’t come quickly, or easily, for me. Remember, I came from broken homes and chaos, so home was not the place you ran to, but from. In order for that to change as I stepped into my home, I had to change. I was the woman content to live in whatever kind of home was available, and to make the best of it – a noble mindset at first glance. But the not-so-noble truth was that I simply had no ambitions for home, no interests in it. I thought I was doing well to consider home a landing place. I still did not love being there. I didn’t know how to make my house a home, nor did I have any desire to learn how to. Home was just another piece of survival for me.

The biggest problem with that was the reality that I shared my home with a husband and our children, which meant I was passing on this empty concept of home to them. I was ignorant of the truth that God brings families together in places where He can dwell in our midst, and create beauty and cultivate His perfect, always welcoming love there. No one had ever taught me that home was a sanctuary, intended to draw the hearts there closer to each other and closer to God; that the atmosphere of home was meant to be a taste of Heaven to those who stepped foot inside.

Of course, God being as mysterious as He is, I was drawn into this understanding through the most unlikely circumstances. At the time, my husband and I were both working. We had two children, and a third on the way. We had bills higher than we could afford, and we had debt that was mounting by the day. We came home every day exhausted, frustrated, and in survival mode. There was little energy or desire left for ‘cultivating home’ in any kind of intentional way. We were doing good to plop dinner down on the table, corral the kids into their jammies, and thank God for maybe a few minutes of zoning out in an attempt to ‘unplug’ from the grind of the day. It was a vicious cycle we saw no way out of, and had resigned ourselves to suffering through.

Until our daughter, then in the 5th grade, was diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar disease. We had always had quite a lot of trouble with her. She was extremely emotional, and school was a daily nightmare for her and for us. But with the diagnosis came the need to seriously consider what kind of future was in store for her, and how we were going to survive whatever this reality would look like. Her problems were not longer just emotional issues; they were medical conditions that demanded our attention and our action.

We did what we knew any good Christian was supposed to do (we were baby Christians, brand new in our journey with God, but we knew the basics): we prayed that God would show us what to do. The proposed medications would pose serious physical threats to her little organs, and going the route of refusing the medications would pose serious threats to our fragile little family, which was already running on empty every day. We doubted whether we would ever have what this journey would require of us. Nevertheless, here we found ourselves.

Imagine my surprise when God answered our prayer with a clarity I could hardly bring myself to accept, much less voice! He said, clearer than anything I could argue with, “Don’t put her on medication. Home-school her, and watch what I will do with her life.” I was absolutely stunned. First of all, home-school was a faraway reality I had only heard about vaguely. It was, as far as I knew, for the crazy people. Okay, maybe not crazy, but those women who were devoted to their families in a way I thought was just a little overboard. I didn’t want to be one of those women, nor did I believe I would ever have the capacity to. Besides, home-schooling children meant that you would have to want to spend all day with them, engaging with them, spending your energy and focus on them for more hours than I believed it was healthy to do so.

‘No way, God. Not me. I don’t have the capacity to do that.’ Then, as an afterthought, because I knew that God would more than likely bring this up again, I added reluctantly, ‘Okay, God…if you’re really asking me to do this, You will have to give me the patience for it, and You will have to help me, because I don’t have a clue how to do that.’

It took me about two and half years to step into what God had asked of me that day. Even then, I did it very hesitantly and with great trepidation. I already felt like I was doing good to not mess the kids up in the few hours I spent with them each early morning and late evening. Now He was asking me to spend all day, every day with them, and He expected them to turn out okay? I was truly in disbelief, but I held onto the promise He had made, that He would do something with her life. And I knew that all He does is only good.

In those two and a half years during which I wrestled with the call to take responsibility for my child (and later children’s) education, and to cultivate a home environment in which she/they felt loved, accepted, nurtured, supported, and invested in, God again spoke to me.

I had a wonderful job at the time. I mean, I couldn’t have created better for myself. This family-owned company had taken me in as one of their own: they had knocked down walls in the building to create a space across the hallway for my baby to stay while I worked, and hired their sister to watch her; paid for after-school care for my other two children; paid me more than I asked for; gave me whatever hours I needed off to take care of my family’s needs, etc. It truly was a dream job for a wife and mom…until God told me one day, “I want you to quit your job and stay home, so you can focus on your family and on ministry.”

What?! I couldn’t believe it. My employer couldn’t believe it, either. They even offered to pay my husband the same salary he was making so he could stay home with the kids and I could continue to work. But that wasn’t what God had asked for, because His Word clearly defines the home as the woman’s domain. We are to be keepers of our home. We are to cultivate them in such a way that our families grow and thrive, and experience Heaven within them. It was my calling, and God was calling me home to it.

At the time, I didn’t see the connection between the call to home-school, and the call to stay home and tend to my family and to the ministry of cultivating a home for them (and being more available for anything else God would open doors for). But God knew what I didn’t: they were one and the same calling for me. And I needed to make myself fully available in order to be able to fulfill it.

It didn’t make sense financially, emotionally, or even ability-wise. I was completely unqualified for such a calling, by all visible means. But, as they say, God doesn’t call the qualified, rather He qualifies the called. And that’s just what He did.

I obeyed the call and now, so many years later, I am still unemployed (at least fiscally speaking), and I am still homeschooling. In fact, two years ago, I officially became my own homeschool, legally registered with the state of California, because God has made it clear that He has plans for these children, and if I will let Him lead me in their education, He will do all the amazing things He has designed to do with their lives. Who better will know how to raise them up in the way they should go than God Himself? So our little home-school, and my giant commitment – my ‘yes’ – to God, rests in His perfect plans and His ability to connect the dots I cannot see.

In the imperfect meantime, I have learned, and am still learning, to tend to my home and family, to cultivate an environment here, which brings us all closer together and leads us all closer to God every day. It’s not a plan I would have ever seen myself becoming a part of. It was never a vision I had. But it has always been God’s vision, and stepping into it has been a wild adventure, a sometimes difficult and frustrating road, and the best and most rewarding decision I’ve ever made in my life.

In a study we’re doing with the women of our church, I recently read this about our calling to cultivate homes that are pleasing to God and which invite others to experience His heart:

“Being a keeper of our homes will look different for each of us in different seasons…but no matter what our circumstances or season of life, home still matters for us women. And we will diminish the impact of our ministry as believers if we allow home to become an afterthought or resist God’s call to be keepers of our homes.” -Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Adorned

Maybe God won’t call you to quit your job or home-school your children (or someone else’s!)…or maybe he will. What matters most are not the individual circumstances He calls you to, but the heart and the commitment behind it.

Dear Women of Breakthrough, I invite you into the calling to cultivate a home and family that syncs with God’s great vision, and to experience the incredible joy and reward of doing so. Not only for your own sake, but for the others who will be called to do the same, and will need your experience and help in doing so.

I will leave you with this Scripture, this portrait of Godly womanhood, and I will say with utter conviction that this is so worthy of our time and attention. Whatever else we may be pursuing in this life, may we set it aside long enough to catch God’s heart for home and family, and adjust our sails to go in the direction He is leading. So much depends upon our cooperation and obedience here…

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine…Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled...so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Titus 1:2, 3-5, 10

The bottom line of our devotion to home and family is our love for Jesus, and the goal that our lives would demonstrate the beauty of His gospel, accurately conveying His heart to the world. May it be said of us, Women of Breakthrough!”

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

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