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Monthly Archives: November 2009

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Wholehearted Singing

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

I recently read the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. A story I’ve read many times before. But this time, it struck a chord. Unsure of the reason, I read the story again. Then I read the devotion that some pastors at my church had written on it. And I recognized the chord.

It’s the main chord in the song I’ve been learning this month. The song of wholeheartedness. I’ve been realizing lately that in several areas of my life I’ve been doing enough to just get by.

Motherhood is at the very top of that list. I’ve been seeing a pattern in the way that I mother my two daughters. The pattern is one of almost survival mode. It entails just going through the motions. No intentionality involved. It involves doing the minimum to get through each day. Looking to the end of the day when my husband gets home so I can concentrate on my own life and getting the things done that I “need” to complete. The problem is, if I don’t change this course I’m on, I’m going to find myself walking out of a college dorm room wondering what the heck happened to my little girls. And they’ll be waving goodbye to me with the minimal amount of real life values and childhood family memories.

I admit this is extreme. I mean, my children are happy and very well-adjusted little girls. But the truth is, if I don’t wake up now and start being intentional with the time I have with them, in each and every today, I’m going to end up missing it all! And I don’t want to miss it. I want to be the mother they need. The reason God gave them to me instead of someone else. I want to train them to love and follow Jesus wholly. I want to love them like they need to be loved. Like God has purposed me to love them. I want to enjoy this calling of motherhood. Wholeheartedly.

And that’s where Ananias and Sapphira fell short. They were pretending. Like I’ve been pretending. They were trying to fool Almighty God. Trying to appear to be doing something they weren’t actually doing. Like I’ve been trying to appear to be doing the very best job I can at being a mom. Only, the truth is, I haven’t been. I’ve been focused on the wrong stuff — MY stuff. Everything I want to get done in any given day. Instead of focusing on the job that God has given me to do. The true nurture of my children, whether that be spiritual, physical, mental or emotional. The focus of doing this job called motherhood to the best of my ability. And finishing the song that started with the chord of wholeheartedness.

waiting

The girls have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. I’m hoping for an easy and quick in/out. I do not like waiting in the pediatrician’s waiting room. Not when there are other sick kids with whose germs I am not familiar, nor do I care to be. Not with my two kids whose immunities I would like to keep as intact as possible through this seemingly treacherous time of year. Not with my impatience. Not at all.

Now, let it be known that I do not mind waiting rooms when I am alone. Since I have become a mom, I have found this kind of waiting to be rather relaxing. Time to catch up on the latest magazine news, maybe do a crossword puzzle or planning on my calendar. Maybe even get to read a bit of whatever book I’ve chosen to be into at the time. But waiting, as a verb, not so much.

I’ve thought about this idea of waiting quite a bit throughout my adult life. Like when I had to wait for my husband to be ready to even start trying to have children and then, again, waiting on God’s chosen time for conception. Or like waiting for the comfort of true and Godly friends after several long years of wondering if God would ever allow that kind of friendship to be part of my life. And, as I’ve worked through these different periods of waiting, I’ve noticed the many times in Scripture the people whom God had wait. And I mean they had to W-A-I-T!! Like Noah, who not only had to wait 40 days as it rained, but then had to wait several more months for the water to recede before he could get off that stinky boat. Like Abraham, who had to wait 25 years for God to bring His promise of a son (and not just a son, but a whole nation) to fruition. Like Joseph, who had to wait 12 years (!!!) to be free from the imprisonment that he unjustly suffered. And there are so many more.

So today when I drove past the beautifully colored leaves on some trees that lined a long driveway, I not only wondered at their beauty, but also at their seeming lateness. I mean, here in Ohio, fall colors are pretty much over. Everywhere, that is, except on this one driveway where the trees are lined perfectly in a beautiful array of fall colored-leaves. I thought to myself that they must be “late bloomers”. But then I heard God’s soft reminder that He makes all things beautiful in His time. His perfect time.

See — if those trees hadn’t been so late, I wouldn’t get to enjoy their beauty anymore. I probably would have forgotten them by now. But instead, after all the other beauty of all the other fall leaves is gone, I still get to enjoy fall leaves. And I was thinking how perfectly abundant God’s timing is. It’s perfect. He could have just let those trees turn colors when all of the other trees did. But, instead, He let my enjoyment of fall be extended, if even for just a little while longer.

And He reminded me, yet again, that His timing is not only perfect. It’s beautiful. And it’s full of grace. I hope I remember that next time I find myself waiting!

I’m sharing this post at Tuesdays Unwrapped chattingatthesky.com

Odd Day Out

Yesterday was odd.

I was the first one up in the morning. Odd. I made homemade waffles for breakfast. Odd for a Sunday morning before church. All this AND I got dressed up because I wanted to. I usually wear my nice jeans and a sweater. Dressier than normal mom-days, but not “dressed up” by any stretch of the imagination. Well, yesterday I felt like wearing a skirt, nylons (?!?!) and my nice, blue, “dressy” shirt. Very, very strange.

Driving home from church, I wondered about this anomaly, thinking I could chalk it up to the fact that I’d been quarantined with the swine flu for the past 10 days or so, resulting in endless pajama days followed by just as many days in sweats and slippers. The strange enjoyment of wearing the nylons and skirt, I reasoned, could be explained by my need to feel not just human, but pretty, again.

But I hadn’t really thought through the oddity of being the first one out of bed as well as wanting to make breakfast for my kids instead of just preparing the everyday cold cereal, with an occasional piece of toast. I hadn’t thought it through, that is, until my seven-year-old asked me before bed last night if I could get up early again. She reminded me that, back at the end of summer vacation, I had made that a goal for this school year. A goal, I think it goes without saying, that I have failed to meet thus far. Her question struck me in a (surprise!) strange kind of way. Why would she care if I get up early or not?

At this point in the discussion, I feel the need to explain our morning ritual. My husband is normally the first to awaken, followed by the aforementioned seven-year-old. The two of them read the Bible and then eat breakfast together before waking me up so we can pray before my husband sets off for work. I then lay in bed with my daughter, after she waves goodbye to Daddy, mustering all of my energy in order to pry my eyes open. When I finally get out of bed, due to my daughter’s patient prodding, we do all of the normal preparations for the day (i.e. get dressed, etc.). I am not what you would call a “morning person”.

So, I’ve been thinking about it today. And I remembered a book by Jill Savage that I started reading this past summer. My Heart’s at Home: Becoming the Intentional Mom Your Family Needs. That book is actually the reason for the goal I had made. I think I’m gonna’ read it again. Because I’m starting to believe, with all of my heart actually, that my family does need me to be more intentional with my time. Not that they have to have a homemade breakfast everyday. Not even that they need me to be the first out of bed everyday. But, I think the day starts better when I’m on my game before they are. And, consequently, so does theirs. And I think I’m more focused on my purpose, as a mom, as a child of God, as a woman, when I’ve been awake for more than, say, one minute.

So — here goes. A goal re-set. My goal is to be up and out of bed, ready for the day, before my husband leaves for work. I will do this for the remainder of this week. And I’ll evaluate on Friday how it’s gone.

Maybe soon, it’ll be not so strange.

Early Christmas Spirit

I started Christmas shopping the other day. Unusual for me, actually. I usually do this all year long. Shopping clearance sales. Finding the occasional great deal, then trying to figure out who I might know that can’t live without it so I can buy it. It’s really quite difficult for me to walk away from a great bargain. Like that $20 kids game I got for $8. Or the adorable newborn baby Christmas dress for $3.60. You get the idea. And then I stockpile the gifts. My closet has proven to be the most effective holding room. So, usually by this time of the year, I have bags upon boxes full of great finds spilling out.

But this year it’s different. I somehow can’t get myself to spend that much money. Not that $3.60 or $8 is a lot. I just can’t seem to justify searching for that justification to buy something just because it’s a great bargain. I’ve started to realize that the thrill of the hunt is just not worth it. Unless it’s the hunt for somthing that’s truly needed.

While cleaning out my daughter’s bedroom last weekend, I realized, yet again, that my kids have WAY TOO many toys. In years past, I’ve come to this same realization and then gone on to purchase the aforementioned bargain clearance toy items anyway. But somehow this year my words have caught up with my actions. And I just can’t do it. If they don’t need it, I just can’t seem to get myself to buy it.

Deep inside, I’m longing for that truly meaningful Christmas gift to give. A gift given not because I’m expected to or even because it’s something my kids say they want. But something that truly shows my love for them. Something that will actually enhance their lives. Maybe even point them to Jesus more clearly.

Maybe it’s because of Faa, the 28-year-old Thai woman my family now has the privelege of knowing. Faa’s life has not only changed the lives of the five children she’s adopted into her home in Thailand, but has also changed my life and those of my children. Having come from an abusive home into an orphanage where she was introduced to her Heavenly Father and the freedom and love of Jesus, her life’s mission has become providing children with a home, despite her lack of finances. She told me a few weeks ago that, at home in Thailand, the one meal a day that she eats is the one that her job allows her. She does this so that she can use every penny of those she earns to provide food for her kids. So they can eat. She said that while she’s been here in the States the food is so abundant, she just doesn’t feel right throwing anything on her plate away, even when it’s much too much for her to eat. Oh, if only we could take all of that food and beam it up to Thailand so they could eat even the scraps.

In light of all of that, I just can’t seem to get into the spending spirit yet. Strangely, though, I feel even more in the Christmas Spirit than I’ve ever felt so early in November. So i’m praying that God shows me what He wants me to give. And I’m asking Him to show my kids and my husband.

And I’m ready for it.

p.s. GROW Thailand (www.facebook.com/GrowThailand?ref) is a brand new ministry to support Faa and her calling to rescue these children stuck in the sex and slave trade in Thailand.
Also, Asia’s Hope (www.asiashope.org) is an amazing ministry of much the same type.

(s)heroes

Cuddling in bed with my youngest this morning, we watched Strawberry Shortcut’s The Sweet Dreams Movie. It’s actually a very cute video (if you like that sort of girly thing). About never being afraid to dream, not letting anyone steal your dreams. You know, that sort of thing. But as I lay there cuddling with my sweet, impressionable young daughter, I let my mind wonder. Wander, even. What do boys of this age watch on video as they cuddle with their mommies? And — do those said videos lack the same honor for females that their counterpart videos for girls lack for males?

I mean, truly. Am I the only one who’s noticed that, while Dora is a wonderful teacher of espanol, pretty much every single male in any given episode of Dora The Explorer is an idiot or bad guy? Well, ok, Boots is nice. Boots is a boy, right?

So I was thinking about Batman and Spiderman, and the era when they were introduced in pop culture. I wonder if it has to do with the women’s lib movement? Did they notice that those shows only had men as heroes? Is that when they introduced Wonder Woman and She-ra? Well, I say, at least they made up for it and didn’t present all women as imbiciles. Women can be heroes as well as men. It’s an invidual thing.

I realize I could very well be overthinking this whole thing. I just don’t know. I mean, their young minds are so impressionable. And they take in way more than I can even imagine. Especially as they watch TV and movies.

I want my daughters to know that they can do anything they set their mind to. I want them to dream of being somebody’s hero. Everybody’s hero, even. But I want them to know that, while women can be effective at this, so can men. It’s not about one sex being superior to the other. It’s about everybody doing and being their best. It’s about doing and being who God made us, to our full potential, no matter what sex we are.

So — next time we watch Dora, maybe I should start a conversation about who can be a hero. Or maybe that’s too much for my youngling to grasp. I don’t know. Maybe I should just stay mindful of it and take every opportunity to reiterate that anyONE (male or female) can be the hero and do the hero things that God gives them to do. Or maybe I should just sit back, relax and learn some more espanol. Because, after all, I have been known to overthink things…