Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Top Ten List

I just read this over at my friend's blog and was inspired to do a variation. Here are:

The Top 10 Comments I Hear When I Leave The House With All My Kids
10. Are they all yours?
9. Don't you know what causes this?
8. You should watch more T.V.
7. You must be busy!
6. I couldn't do that.
5. You must be very patient.
4. You must homeschool.
3. Are they twins or triplets?
2. Be glad they're not boys.
And (drum roll please) the Number 1 Comment I Hear When I Leave the House With All My Kids
1. What kind of car do you drive? A bus?
Well, I'm sure you've heard the same, or worse. At least now we can say that we are the proud owners of a new (to us) GMC Safari, otherwise known as the "Christian Mobile" by a lady here in town. Seems all the large-ish families drive one (you know, before they get so big they need to buy a bus). So sorry, Onfire, you are going to have to memorize my new license plate....once I figure it out myself!

Monday, March 26, 2007

When Will My Grumpy, Selfish, Judgmental Attitude Go Away?

disclaimer: for those of you who don't want to actually get to know the real me, stop reading now. This post is going to be a little too honest.

Do you ever wonder how long it will take for the Lord to complete that good work in you that He started. You know, the one He will be faithful to perfect? yeah. me too.

So here I am in Church yesterday and the service was run by the guys from Teen Challenge. They are full of life men who were previously addicted to drugs and alcohol and who have found freedom and new life in Christ. The program is fantastically successful (is fantastically even a word?) and the men have the most stirring testimonies. So I was really enjoying the service.

And then I saw one of the guys, and for a moment, actually for a long moment, I was pretty convinced that I knew him. Not only did I think I knew him, but I thought he was my boss (who I didn't really get along with very well) from my days of working at Tim Horton's (a job I really loathed. Stay tuned. There is a blog coming about that). Here's where the old sin nature in me rears its ugly head. I was just dying to know if was him or not. My stomach got all full of knots as I remembered what it felt like to work for him. I remembered how small and stupid I felt working for this guy who made himself look pretty big and impressive at his employees expense. And so instead of looking with Christian compassion at him and thinking "Wow. Is that him? I wonder if he's okay. How sad that he must have hit bottom, but thank God for His mercies and for this program to show him the way" I looked at him with my old sinful heart and for a moment thought "Now how do you feel, Mr. Wonderful. Guess now I'm the one who's "got it all together"."

Seriously? How can I be like that? We had just sung praises and worshipped our Lord with lyrics like "To You I lift up my soul, In You is all my hope", and "You set my feet upon a rock, You made my footstep sure", and "We are the broken, You are the Healer", and boy did I mean those things. Really really. Except then not 20 minutes later I am revelling in the thought that someone else might be in that same pit that I have supposedly been lifted out of!

Lord, my heart is two-sided. I am a sad representative of your forgiveness. I am too much like the man in Jesus' parable who was forgiven an enormous debt by the King and then proceeded to require payment from another man who only owed him a little. Rend my heart. Pour into me the compassion for my fellow man, even those who have hurt me, so that I can be like You, who had compassion on me, even though I killed Your Son. Let me not be the kind of person who wants to see my enemies "get what's coming to them" in such a vindictive and caustic way. And mostly, forgive my lying lips that in one minute praises You for being my redeemer, and then in the next mocks a man (whoever he was) for needing that same redemption. We have ALL sinned and fallen short of Your glory. Let me not be proud that I have not sinned "in that way". As if my sin was any more appealing to You. I'm sorry that for all the work You have done and are doing in my life that I am stil so resistant and that I'm making so much more work for You to do.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Photographs Don't Lie (But Sometimes I Wish They Would)

I have a photograph of myself that I like to keep as "Motivation" (read: punishment). It is from a million years ago when I was 21 and my husband and I were visiting the Grand Canyon. What is interesting about it is that I am unbelievably skinny. And so the "motivation" (read: torture). I like to drag it out every so often to "motivate" me to get back to that weight, that happier time (as if weighing close to nothing is a remedy for stress). But here is where the truth of the photo comes in: I used to be skinny. Now I'm not. Hmmm. Can't deny it. It is right there in black and white (literally).

Okay: another example. My wedding album is filled with truly gorgeous pictures of truly happy people. Except for one. The photo that my sister decided to show up for clearly communicates the tensions in my side of the family. There we all are, "smiling". But the mood in that picture is in stark contrast to the genuine love my family is exuding in every other picture. You can tell by her 'smile' that she would rather be any where else, and you can tell by our 'smiles' that we are well aware that she would rather be any where else but we don't quite know what to do about it.

Okay: another example. How about a happy one this time. I am holding my wee baby girl at the local fall fair in the baby competition (yes, I realize that is a little pathetic) and I am smiling. Really smiling. The smile of a woman content with her choice to change her mind and want another baby even though she knows it is going to be hard, tiring work, but who understands there is a joy to be had here in just holding this little one and showing her off (and all that she represents) to the whole world. (I hope you are okay with run-on sentences...). The truth in this photo is that I can see that when I do what the Lord puts on my heart to do, I have that look of contentment all over me because it is oozing out from the inside.

It is kind of like the Bible. The Word is compared to a mirror in that when we read the Word our true selves are revealed. So, I can't keep saying to myself "I've always been fat and so I'll always be fat" now that I've seen that skinny picture. In the same way, I can't say "God will never forgive me for that" now that I've read His promises to forgive. The Beauty of Photographs, is that they truly represent who we once were, where we once went, what we once saw. The Beauty of the Word is that it truly conveys the Truth of who God is, what He has done, and who we can be through His grace.

Lord, let me use the photos of my history to see your hand in my life. To remind me of who I was, and who You are making me to be. Thank You.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Good Enough To Eat

The other morning, as my family was dashing out the door to a homeschool event, my dear son said the most remarkable thing to me. I was feeling a little frumpy that morning (can anyone relate?) so to perk up a bit, I spritzed on some of my perfume ("Obsession" for those of you who want to know).

As I was buckling the baby into her car seat and doing up my son's shoes, he leans in and says, "You smell good, Mommy. So good I think I want to bite your neck and eat you! Why do you smell so good?"

And so began a conversation on perfume. However, if I had really been on the ball, I would have made it an object lesson and said, "Well, Thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2 Cor. 2:15)" Well, that might have been a bit much.

Still, the fact remains that when Christ is dwelling in us we exude an aroma, a fragrance, that is pleasing to Him and to those who are being saved around us. And the Word challenges us to "Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Ps.34:8)" If we are open to enjoying the fragrance of His presence, maybe we will be bold enough to 'take a bite' and experience Him fully. That is true satisfaction! And hopefully that fragrance will be a better fix for the 'frumpy' days when they come.

Lord, let us be like that garland of grace that is made of Your fragrance. Let us be noticeably beautiful to those around us, both those being saved and those perishing. And let us seek You for the fulfillment we desire. And in the meantime, thank you for precious sons who love their mommas.

He Shall Add Bitterness

This morning with my children, we discussed one of the bible accounts of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. Remember the story when they were desperately thirsty, they found water and it was dreadfully bitter? Okay, so that is what we were discussing.

I reminded my second born that the meanings of her first and second names, when put together, are "He shall add bitterness". I told her that this story in the scriptures helps to explain why that is not a bad name-meaning for such a beautiful girl.

The year she was born came in the middle of some very difficult years for us. My husband and I had some very large and difficult life decisions to make primarily regarding his work. But his work change was actually just a symbol of the greater whole of what the Lord was doing in our lives. He was breaking us down so that He could build us up His way. They were years of tearing down old, false foundations so we could lay firm foundations on things that would last. They were years where I cried out from my heart with the psalmist:
"Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away....but Thou, O Lord, How long?.... I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief." (Ps. 6)
And yet in the middle of those years, He was so overwhelmingly gracious to us, physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually...abundantly meeting all of our needs and shaping us into vessels He could use.

This is what I wanted the children to notice in the Bible story for the morning: In the middle of their bitter time, the Lord granted sweet springs. He still works that miracle today. In the middle of our bitter times, He provides sweet springs of living water. So yes, He shall add bitterness, but along with it comes the sweet miracle of hope.
"For the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication, The Lord receives my prayer." (Ps. 6)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Too Much Information

At my Sign Language class on Monday I was privy to a most discouraging conversation. I am clearly the "old mother hen" in this group of College girls. There are two women there who are likely older than me, but, judging on their comments in class, they are definitely in a different paradigm than myself.

So somehow the conversation began: "When did you hear 'the talk'?" With some trepidation and a little curiousity I waited to see where this would go. One by one these girls talked and laughed about how they learned everything from health class in public school, videos in high school, teen magazines and all-nighters, and well-intentioned, but embarrasing chats from mom. These chats from mom were always accompanied by a box of condoms "because you'll need these". One of the ladies, a mom of preteens, said "I tell my children everything, and I mean everything. I want them to hear it from me, and I want them to hear it early so that I can put my spin on it. I tell them not to tell others at school who may not be ready to hear about sex yet, but for my children...I want them to know details so they can make the right decisions."

Now, if I listen to the "experts in sexual education", these girls must be the most responsible and 'safe' girls around. And I, in contrast, must have been recklessly endangering myself on a regular basis at their age because I never really did get "the talk".

Still, the evidence points to the contrary. I am the one in the room having had only one partner, no diseases contracted, and 6 children all born in a healthy marriage relationship. These poor girls, in contrast, are constantly talking about this boyfriend and that, and whose going on a vacation (one with her boyfriend and one without because "you never know who you'll meet", and whose sister is pregnant at 18, and whose cousin is having an abortion, and whose baby will be nearly a year at her mother's wedding....

Don't get me wrong: I made plenty of mistakes growing up, and sinned in relationships too. But God has been gracious to keep me fairly innocent inspite of my foolishness. These girls, supposedly armed and educated by the best, are walking, if not running, headlong into dangerous, costly sin....and then bragging about it.

The Word implores us to be 'excellent at what is good, and innocent of evil'. These poor girls have been fed a lie, loudly and repeatedly, that random relationships are not evil, but rather, part of a strong sense of self and a right they should exercise.

Lord, have mercy on this and the coming generation. And give Your people the wisdom and the clarity to teach our children modesty, and rightly placed confidence, and a picture of Your beautiful plan for relationships.