Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For when you feel the need for rain




Do you feel the need for some rain?  Maybe even a flood.

A flood that will cleanse me of myself. 

Jesus is so loving and kind. He always picks me up again and again and brushes me off and says "I still love you."  He comforts me.  He guides me.  And sometimes He rushes over me like a wave.  I need one of those moments.  So real that I know it was from Him.

I am thirsty for that encounter.

Beth Moore calls it "Between the Rains".  She is referring to the verse in James, "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord."  Another words, be patient until His return.  {I just love that, don't you?} I am so good at being patient!  Be patient when we are down right tired.  Tired of 'doing' christianity.  And tired of trying to get along with those around us who are 'doing' christianity as well.  I am so self-deceived.  I play christian.  But really, in God's sight, am I living much different than those who never claim His Name?  Not because I murder 20 children in a kindergarten classroom, or cheat on my spouse, or abuse my precious children.  But because I am so wrapped up in the things of this world.  So blinded by it.  I could hold my own against The National Enquirer's gossip columnists.  I show little to no grace to my family or others when they make mistakes.  I don't pray for those who persecute me, but rather I tear them down with my words and harbor bitterness against them.  I spend more and more money on me while others throughout the world are dying from the lack of food, water, and shelter.  I spend untold amounts of time shopping the latest fashions so my children can win "Best Dressed" while children all over the world are wearing rags with no shoes. And now with the most important of all seasons approaching, I'll celebrate Easter with "bunnies, baskets, and expensive clothes. What better way to say Jesus reigns than dressing my preschooler in a $75 dress to show her off in the church lobby? (You're welcome, Jesus. Be blessed)."

 I'm consumed by consumerism.

Jen Hatmaker writes in her book, 7 An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess,  "Now let's be clear: if you had asked me what my Easter priorities were as I stood all fancy in the lobby, I'd become grave and mention the resurrection.  For crying out loud, I'm a Christian.  But truthfully, between the outfit shopping, the Easter baskets, the egg dying, stuffing, hiding, hunting, the pictures, the lunch menu, and the gift buying, Jesus was flat last.  That's just true.... Assessing the typical American Easter, on one side I see Jesus on the cross, humiliated and mutilated, bearing the failures of every person past and present, rescuing humanity through an astonishing miracle of divine redemption, splitting history in two and transforming the human experience for eternity.  On the other side I see us celebrating this monumental heroism with chocolate bunnies and boiled eggs, with Jesus as an afterthought."

That's me!  As Paul said, ..."Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."

I have missed the point so many times!

God is working on me.  I want Him to weed through the fake.  Through the self-absorbed me.  Through the lack of commitment to Him and His will.  Through the distorted lens that cover my eyes and show me 'all the stuff I need.'  Clearing my ears from the sounds of Satan telling me I deserve bigger.  Better.  More.  And that it's all in the name of  "I'm doing it for my children."  What am I doing for my children?  Re-affirming the lie that 'it's all about me'?!   While we, dressed in the best, literally look out to a world with no real sorrow for 'the mother who prostitues to feed her children or the nine-year-old who eats trash to survive the streets.....or the twenty-five thousand people who died today from starvation.' 

Our religion seems so meaningless.  Shallow.

In her book, Hatmaker makes a quick observation.  I decided to do the same.  She went through her closet, counted all the items, and did a round-about figure on what she had spent in the last 5 years {approximately} on clothes alone. 

Here are my stats:
371 articles of clothing
If they averaged $20/item {and let's be honest, that's stretching it!}--- I have spent $7,420 on CLOTHES!
If they averaged $30/item {and still, you can't hardly buy a t-shirt for that anymore}---I have spent $11,130.
29 of those items are blue jeans.  Yes, blue jeans.  My husband is right.  That's ridiculous.

And sadly, I only wear a small percentage of those items.   So while my mouth is yammering about being frugile and saving money, my hand is steadily reaching into my wallet to buy more.

Talk about perspective.

"With my genuine needs met but so many dollars yet unspent, shopping has become a stronger marker of freedom than voting, and what we spend in the mall matters more than what we're accomplishing together as the church.  I am a part of the problem, a contributing member of inequality.  Every time I buy another shirt I don't need or a seventh pair of shoes for my daughter, I redirect my poweful dollar to the pockets of consumerism, fueling my own greed and widening the gap.  Why?  Because I like it.  Because those are cute.  Because I want that....This one pair of shoes? Big deal.  This little outfit?  It was on sale.  This micro-justification easily translates to nearly every purchase I've made.  Alone, each item is reduced to an easy explanation, a harmless transaction.  But all together, we've spent enough to irrevocably change the lives of a hundred thousand people.  What did I get for that budgeting displacement?  Closets full of clothes we barely wear and enough luxuries to outfit twenty families...This is hard to process, so it helps to imagine standing in front of the families of my Ethiopian children, who were too poor and sick to raise their own beloved babies.  As I gaze upon their hopelessness, I imagine them calculating what I've spent on clothing alone, realizing that same amount would've kept their family fed and healthy for thirty years." ~ Jen Hatmaker

What can I say?

I briefly read about this book before Christmas.  I knew right then and there, I didn't want to read it!  But, guess what, I am.  God really does laugh at me sometimes.  I'm not sure where He intends to take me.  But I do know that right now He is really messing with my heart.

Blessings,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Make change

This morning I woke up with my agenda for the day racing through my mind.  My son goes to pre-school for 1/2 the day, 3 days a week and my daughter goes to Mother's Day Out for 1/2 the day, 2 days a week.  The way their schedules are, it works out that I have 2 hours a week to 'do-all-those-things-that-I-need-to-do-when-I-don't-have-children-with-me.  So those two hours are precious to me.  So much so that I will just about go crazy-sleep-deprived-time-alone-deprived-wild-woman on you if you try to mess with them.


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 {What?!}

But, you know when you pray for things, God actually does hear those prayers, and He even answers them.  The problem is the answer is not always just the way I want it to be.  
 
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One of my goals this year is to be more patient with my family and show more loving kindness to each one.  Haven't I learned yet not to pray for patience ;-) Needless to say my plans were shot to the moon when my sweet baby girl woke up crying and feeling yucky.  But God quickly reminded me of my goal.  The 'to-do' list could wait.    
 
 
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Not that I wouldn't always take care of my sick children.  That wasn't the point today.  It was my own agenda that I had to for-go and set aside.  That's what is hard for me.  That's where I need the patience.  That's when showing loving kindness to others is hard.   When 'me' gets moved over for 'you.'

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These are the days when I need to learn to see the bright side of things.  The opportunities that are made when things don't go as planned.  The opportunity to sit still and hold sweet babies.  To spend precious time with little ones that are growing so fast it hurts my heart.  To see the sweet moments that are passing me by and leaving me standing there wondering what happened.  The moments that can't be replaced.

 
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It's these kinds of days that make us stop and see.   Because we don't have a choice.  We don't have a choice but to see how life is changing while we're too busy checking off our list.
 
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Seeing things like "when in the world did my sweet baby boy grow up big enough to be dressing like a 12 year old and writing his name?!"

So today I will sit.  And rock.  And love my sweet baby.

And the plans will be changed for something much better.

P.S. I got this sweet bracelet in the mail today.   Together, a mother and daughter are raising money for children in India whose families are affected by leprosy.

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 “We came up with the motto ‘make change’ and designed a bracelet with those words on it, along with a miniature penny which signifies that small amounts of ‘change’, be it monetary or otherwise, can add up to make a major difference.”

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Check out their page and see how you can help!

Blessings,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

When we seem so small



Sometimes when I look over my goals for this new year, I seem a bit...small.  In comparison to what I want to do.  Who I want to be.  

Often times the most daunting of goals for me are the ones that have to do with motherhood.  I am constantly reminding myself that "it doesn't have to be perfect."   And even though it doesn't have to be perfect, there's nothing wrong with striving for 'better'.

The role of mother can sometimes look so menial.  With the pull of society becoming stronger and stronger, we moms tend to forget that 'being a mom' is possibly the highest of all callings.  With the pressures of the world on women today, we can sometimes feel so small.  Unworthy.   Uninspiring.  But deep down we know otherwise.  We just need to be reminded.

The back cover of Dr. Brenda Hunter's book The Power of Mother Love casts a vision for moms:
Mother love shapes cultures and individuals. While most mothers know that their love and emotional availability are vital to their children's well-being, many of us do not understand the profound and long-lasting impact we have in developing our young children's brains, teaching them first lessons of love, shaping their consciences … At a time when society urges women to seek their worth and personal fulfillment in things that take them away from their families and intimate bonds, Hunter invites women to come home — to their children, their best selves, their hearts.
 
For all women, whether working in the home or outside the home, we are all at some point overwhelmed with our daily tasks.  When we wake day in and day out greeted with the mental list of things we must accomplish, we feel so small.  How in the world will we get it all done?  And if you're anything like me, you have a constant 'to do list' rolling through your mind and a physical one lying on the kitchen counter you wrote out last night before bed. 

It is always such an encouragment to me to read how others do life and how they reach success in certain areas.  {That's why I'm so thankful for blogs!} So I'll share some ideas I've read recently and a few I've come up with on my own to help me not feel so small when looking at my never-ending to-do list:::
  • Make a list.  What?!  I just said that made me feel overwhelmed!  But when used in a healthy way, lists can be encouraging.  There's a certain sense of accomplishment when you can actually mark through a goal.  It satisfies me.  And sometimes to break those goals up into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals helps reduce the pressure ;-)
  • Use sticky notes.  Again, if you're like me, you tend to be very forgetful.  I love a sticky note.  They're so handy.  For instance, if you're trying to lose 5 lbs. stick one on the refrigerator and remind yourself to make wise choices.  Or if you're trying to speak kind words to your sweet peeps, stick them on your kitchen cabinets with Bible verses about the value of your speech.  Or if your trying to be more encouraging, stick one in your child's lunch box telling them how much you love them.   Or on hubby's mirror reminding how him how proud you are of him.
  • Have an accountability partner.  I've just recently learned that to have a truly life-changing spiritual life, you must have accountability.  We never outgrow the need for personal accountability.  "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." ~ Prov. 27:17  I figure the same goes for our daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.  Whether it be your spouse, a friend, or sister have someone that can encourage you to stay on track.
  • Keep things reasonable.  I will admit I probably struggle with this one.  I decide I'd like to lose weight and somehow think that once I've decided it, I should be able to wake up the next day and be down 10 lbs.  It doesn't happen that way.  Be realisitic.  Be patient with yourself.  {And those you share home with.}
  • Be intentional.  Intentional was my one word last year.  Since I chose that word, it seems I've been haunted by it. Just kidding.  But really I have found that if I want to truly make changes in  my life I have to be very intentional about EVERYthing.  Every choice, every action, every decision, every word, and every thought.  Basically in every aspect of my life.  It takes a lot of discipline.  Just to clear things up, I still have lots of work to be done on that one!
With that being said, I'll share this ....

"The profession of motherhood is all about influence. You and I have an incredible opportunity to influence the next generation by what we do as a mother every day. This is why intentionality is so important during the years that we raise our family. Be intentional about your own healing from life's hurts. Be intentional about taking care of yourself. Be intentional about investing in your marriage. Be intentional about parenting. Be intentional about homemaking. Intentionality increases influence, and influence is something God asks us to be intentional about. We cannot underestimate the power of mother love, the value of home and the significance of our intentional presence in the home."


One of my favorite bloggers, Joy at Grace Full Mama speaks about living an intentional life here.
 
Finally, a warning to any of you that may possibly be planning to visit us soon and fit any of the below descriptions... BEWARE:::

 
 

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"A river cuts through rock, not because of it's power, but it's persistance." - Jim Watkins


Blessings,