Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Drop Everything and Play

About a week ago one of my kids said "Mom, I feel like you're always working and never have time to play." What?! Perhaps this wouldn't have been so ironic and surprising if it weren't for the fact that I'm a STAY AT HOME MOM! I mean, if I can do anything, I should be able to play, right?!


My initial reaction was to start my list of defense: What about the fact that I actually went down the slide with you last week at the park? Or yesterday when I sat and watched a kid movie with you that I can practically quote I've seen so many times? Or that just days ago I helped throw your class a party at school? What about the fact that we've read books by the handfuls over the last few days? Or that I signed up to chaperone two field trips in the next two weeks?  


But then I realized that this is a new day. And she wasn't thinking about all the great "playing" I'd done in the last few days or week.


She wasn't really concerned about the dinner I was trying to make, the bills I was trying to pay, the laundry I was trying to fold, or the email I was trying to respond to (yes...all at the same time!).


In that moment she was concerned about playing. Because I hadn't really done that today.


And I thought of a prayer I'd read recently that said "Help us remember that they want our attention more than our service" (Sally Clarkson in The Ministry of Motherhood p.38).


And so, I stopped and I played.



Now don't get me wrong....we can't, and we shouldn't, stop and meet every whim and wish of our children every second of the day. We can't always put dinner, laundry and other responsibilities on hold right when our kids ask.


But sometimes, deep in our hearts, I think we know that we aren't really focusing on what's important. Sometimes we need to just stop, take a few minutes, and play.

Or stop, and take that call.

Or stop, and talk to that neighbor.

Or stop, and make that lunch date.


"I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps." (Jeremiah 10:23)

Lord, please direct our steps. And when you lead in a different way than we were planning to go, may we drop everything and follow...even when you just want us to be willing to play.



Monday, February 25, 2013

Seeing With Fresh Eyes

I've had three birds in my life...pets in a cage. In fourth grade my good friend's family had cockatiels. They laid eggs several times over the course of a few years that Jessica and I were close playmates. When I would go to her house I would always check on the babies. I was amazed at how funny they looked when they first hatched, and how they would grow and change.

My friend's family sold the babies, so they had to be held frequently so they would be used to people and make good pets. I watched many a Nick at Night rerun while sitting on Jessica's couch with a baby bird in my lap. One day I went home and asked my own parents if I could buy one of the baby birds. And so began my bird-owning days. On my birthday that year I got a beautiful yellow cockatiel. About a year later I got another one, yellow and grey. They both lived until after I graduated college, so my poor mother actually cared for them the majority of the time that they were mine. (Maybe this is why my own kids have no pets!)

In the early years of our marriage Jon and I also "adopted" a little green and yellow parakeet. That's an even longer story, but the point is, I'm used to being around birds. I've held them, fed them, been up close to them. I think they are quite beautiful, but I'm not completely intrigued with them anymore.


I think this is why it was so fun to feed some wild birds during our trip to the zoo last week. I got to see the whole experience with fresh eyes...the eyes of my children. One dollar bought us a little cup of nectar. And then the wonder, the amazement, the excitement began!


As my kids giggled, got nervous, and extended their little hands, I was reminded of the amazing wonder of these wild animals.  



Something that would have been routine and ordinary became thrilling and exciting...because I was seeing the whole experience through fresh eyes.



And I wondered what other joys I could be missing because they are old experiences; potentially exciting things that have become routine and ordinary.  


It reminds me of something that happened in bible study about 8 years ago. I was part of a small group of women doing Beth Moore's bible study on the life of David. One girl in the group had not grown up in a bible believing/teaching church, so much of the material was brand new to her. I will never forget the week we studied about Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). This girl came into our discussion group and was completely shocked and appalled. She kept saying "I just can't believe it!" "I didn't see that coming." "I just had no idea." It was a wonderful experience because I was able to see the story through her fresh eyes.



Isn't this what we need to pray for? That we would approach God's Word and God's world with fresh eyes? That His Truth would not become ordinary, routine or explainable. That we would regularly be in awe of God's intense love, amazing grace and wonderful works?

This year I'm reading through the Bible in a new translation. I've always loved my NIV study Bible, but several months ago I picked up an ESV. Its been a wonderful change, because I'm not able to just sort of skim across familiar passages. The language is just different enough that I'm able to see God's Word through the fresh eyes of a new translation.


Let's ask God for that today. For fresh eyes as we read His Word. Fresh eyes as we go through our routines and take care of our responsibilities. Fresh eyes as we teach and train and share His Truth with those under our influence.

"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law." (Psalm 119:18)


Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Mother's Greatest Calling

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17)

Last night the kids had a swim meet.


It was a lot of fun! They really enjoyed it this time.


They were much more relaxed than they were at their first meet a couple months ago. And, they improved their times in several events, which means they are getting faster and better. :)


But I'm reminded that while it is wonderful to expose our kids to a variety of athletic, musical and artistic opportunities, that is not the most important thing! If we aren't doing these activities for God's glory alone and looking for opportunities to share His love with others, then we are wasting our time! If we aren't teaching our children that knowing, loving and obeying God is what matters most above all else, then we are not teaching our children what matters.

"A mother's greatest calling is to pass on to her children the value of a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ."    --Vicki Courtney in The Virtuous Woman

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Be Patient With Them All

I've been soaking in this verse for a few days:

1 Thessalonians 5:14 "And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all."

This challenge would apply to my interactions with anyone who falls under my care: my children, my Sunday School class, and any soul God puts in my path each day. And I have found myself repeating this phrase over and over again: "Be patient with them all."

My daughter has a grumpy, negative attitude? Be patient with them all.

My son is jumping rope in the house again? Be patient with them all.

The sales lady on the phone won't take no for an answer? Be patient with them all.

Someone in my class can't remember what we talked about just last week? Be patient with them all.

And patience doesn't mean we sit idly by. We still admonish, we still encourage, we still help, but we do it in a kind and gentle way. We stay calm. We repeat instructions and advice over and over again if necessary (without an irritated edge to our voice!). We hold the others' hand and gently show them the way, rather than jerking them by the arm in the direction they need to go.

And we pray without ceasing something like this: "Lord please help me to know how to respond to each person you bring into my day. I want to respond rightly and Biblically. Please give me wisdom. Help me to be patient. I need your supernatural power to help me grow in this area of patience."



BE PATIENT WITH THEM ALL!


"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40: 11) NIV

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hole Up or Head Out?

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret." (Ephesians 5:11-12)

Today I made a massive change to this blog. In the reader list for today I saw an address that I didn't recognize. So I clicked on the link to see who it was. 

You know how you're never supposed to click on any link you don't recognize? This particular one linked straight to a porn site. So, I quickly reported that and then unpublished all posts prior to 2013 so I can make sure no personal information is ending up in the wrong hands! Five years of blogging going into hiding for the time being.

I was upset and angry, but beyond that it really does make you think...how does one act as salt and light in a dark world (Matt. 5:13-16) when the world is SO VERY DARK?

Christ himself admitted that he was sending his disciples out "like sheep among wolves" (Matt. 10:16).

Peter tells us to "be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (I Peter 5:8)


And when I come face to face with the darkness of sin and the evil of this roaring lion, as I did today, I find myself wanting to hide. To hole up. To hold my children close and push the world away, and NEVER ENGAGE THE WORLD AGAIN!

So, what should we do? Hole up or head out? How can we be salt and light to a world that is so dirty? Hateful? Evil?

First, I think we need to know that "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7).

Then we remember that "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (I John 4:4).

We can go out with confidence that "the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20).

And we never try to go out alone, in our own strength, in our own power or from our own ability. In order to live and serve in this dark world, we HAVE TO:

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:11-12)

And once we're securely tucked away inside the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, gospel of peace, and helmet of salvation, with the shield of faith in front of us and the Word of God in our hand, we PRAY "at all times in the Spirit...with all perseverance" (Ephesians 6:18).

We pray that God will give us wisdom. We pray that God will protect our children and that we will not foolishly put ourselves in a path of danger. We pray that God will give us a heart for the lost and show us how to balance our responsibilities to protect and defend our children with the command to go into all the world (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

 Lord may we be "wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil" (Romans 16:19) and PLEASE "crush Satan under [our] feet" (Romans 16:20).


Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Deep Soak

I told some friends a few weeks ago that I often feel the need to "hurry up and learn." I want to hurry up and know things, hurry up and have wisdom, hurry up and understand. But spiritual maturity doesn't happen like this. True growth occurs from a deep soak. It takes time. It happens slowly, methodically. We learn a little, we apply a little, we mess up a little, we repent, and then find we've learned a little more in the process. Spiritual maturity is a slow, deep soak in the waters of God's Word. Sometimes we will be encouraged by a quick, refreshing dip. But we cannot rush the long-lasting effects of the deep soak.

        Lord make us diligent to read Your Word every day.                                                                                 

 Help us to reflect on what we've read and learn to apply it to our lives.  


Remind us to meditate on Your Word throughout the day as we go about our regular routines.



Show us ways to carry Scripture with us...


so we have it no matter where we go.


Help us to use technology wisely, in ways that will draw us closer to You and allow the Truth of Your Word to saturate our mind even in our "down time".   


"For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things." (Psalm 107:9)

May we be so saturated in God's Word that our lives literally drip with the Gospel! 



Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Creativity of God

Yesterday the kids were out of school, so we took a little day trip to the zoo. It was a wonderful reminder of the unbelievable creativity of the Lord. I was struck by the vast array of colors, and the interesting and unique structures of every bird, animal and plant we saw. If you stop and really ponder it, it is quite amazing. When people use their creative talents it is inspiring and beatiful, but so minor in comparison to the creativity of God. Human creativity is only a small reflection of God's unique ability to create something out of nothing.
  

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep...And God said, Let there be..." (Gen. 1:2-3 NIV).




"Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands."
(Psalm 102:25)



Psalm 104 lists many of the wondrous works of our Creator:

"He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved" (v.5).



"the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth" (v.13-14).



"You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about" (v.20).

                                         



"The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God" (v.21).


"When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens" (v.22).



"O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (v.24).


"These all look to you, to give them their food in due season" (v.27).


"When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things" (v.28).
  



"When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground" (v.30).




"May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works" (v.31)




"I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being" (v.33).



"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands." (Psalm 143:5)



"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)




"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'." (Psalm 53:1)