Saturday, August 29, 2009

For the Least of These

This is when I wish I had more than a handful of people that read my blog. (But I love my handful and am amazed that ANYONE would read it at all.) The reason I wish for more readers is simply so I can get the word out about this ministry and others like it.

I read the post above, and she just said so passionately what I have felt God impressing on my heart for the past few years. And after reading Crazy Love, I have no more excuses. For years, Chris and I have wrestled with the question, "Do we live too comfortably while so many suffer spiritually and physically? When Jesus Christ had no place to lay His head?" Other American Christians would tell us, "No. God has blessed you and you should enjoy His blessings. Just tithe and give a little to some charity every once in a while, and you're good." Well, maybe they wouldn't verbalize the last part, but isn't that what all of us say by living our comfortable American lifestyle while children starve to death never having heard the Good News of Jesus Christ? When I see things like the story of this young lady, I am disgusted with myself and wonder how put-out God must be with all of us.

Where did we get the idea that all of our blessings from God were for us to enjoy while throwing a few measly crumbs at the poor and starving of the world? Why do we always think it's someone else's responsibility? Why do we complain that our houses aren't big enough or our salaries aren't large enough or we can't go on as many vacations as we want? I've been wrestling with the decision to take my kids to Disney World or use that huge chunk of money for something eternally valuable. My flesh (and people around me) tell me it's okay to do it and enjoy it as long as I don't worship Mickey and I'm being obedient to God, but I don't feel a peace about it. How can I spend thousands of dollars (even if it's a gift) on one week of earthly pleasure for my family when that could feed or medicate a dying child for years? But I'm so weak. I WANT to go to Disney World. And so do my kids. But what do I want more...the indulgent enjoyment of earthly pleasure for a moment or eternal rewards for me and my children?

I must say, however, that I am my weakest when I am around others (meaning everyone in my life) who go to Disney World or experience any earthly pleasure that I feel I shouldn't. I want to judge them, when I can only do what God leads me to do and let them make their own decisions. I am told that maybe it's not wrong for all of them to go, just me, because God is convicting me. But I wonder... And know that I use Disney World because it is the one earthly pleasure that I really desire and could have if I pooled my resources. But there are countless others that could be put in its place. And our time and talents can be substituted for our money. We have so much, and give so little.

So the question always remains for me and shall we serve God with ALL of ourselves? Our money, our talents and abilities, our time? Can we sit here and give "more than others" and serve at church "more than others" and talk about Jesus "more than others" and call that enough? Or are we called to more? Are all of us called to more and we just ignore the tugging at our hearts and sit in our comfortable homes and eat our regular meals and say our prayers every night and think "that's enough"? Or is there more???

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1

Friday, August 28, 2009

Switched at Birth

I know this is hard to believe, but this adorable child can cause major trouble. I've come to the conclusion that my child was actually switched at birth with this little monkey boy. Either that, or he takes after his daddy.

But, either way, he is a serious climber. I alternate between wanting to pull my hair out and crying tears of worry as I constantly pull him out of chairs...

off of tables...

and down from various other elevated surfaces, including, but not limited to, piano benches, recliners, and beds.

And while I am so thankful to have such a healthy, active, huggable, kissable and generally lovable little boy, I just hope we both survive this monkey business.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hard to See

This blogging stuff is kinda tough. First of all, you have to have an interesting thought. Then, you have to find time to sit at a computer and write it down. Okay, that's only two steps, but neither one is very easy while being a mommy to three kids.

So, here's my interesting thought. (It's the best I could do, so please don't tell me if it's not actually interesting.) I thought I'd do a recurring post subject like some other bloggers seem to do. They usually coordinate with a day of the week, but I haven't yet come up with a catchy title which includes a certain day of the week. And then I would be tied down to posting on this subject every time that day of the week rolled around, and that sounds stressful. So, I'll just do it randomly, whenever I feel like it and have no other new ideas.
Back to the actual idea. A couple of years ago, a wonderful, godly woman in my life shared with a group of ladies about an incident with her young daughter. Her daughter was coloring and as she would pick up a crayon, she would name the color. But when she came to yellow, rather than saying "yellow", she would say, "And this one's hard to see." All the other colors were bright and beautiful, but the yellow just didn't show up so well. (Okay, I'm butchering the story, but I hope you get the idea.) So, then my friend shared how many of life's blessings are bright and beautiful, such as colorful sunsets, laughing children, a cozy house. But then there are those blessings that are hard to see, like laundry, bills, late nights with crying babies. In my life lately, there have been days when I am searching to see the blessings. And always, if I just take the time to look, they are there. The trick is taking the time, making the effort. So, periodically, I thought I'd just document some of those hard to see blessings in my life as a reminder that I am, indeed, blessed. Maybe you could share some of yours, too. (By "you", I mean Kerrie, since I think you're my only reader.)

Time to count my (hard to see) blessings...

Blessing #1: The nights when Chris has seminary classes and I am left to tackle homework, dinner, clean-up, and baths alone. It's a blessing because it means I have a husband who loves the Lord and is seeking to know Him more, and because it means I have three great kids to take care of and food to fix for dinner.

Blessing #2: Getting a filling in my tooth today. (This one's really hard to see.) Okay, I'm blessed to have teeth and access to a dentist and dental insurance. Still didn't like this one too much.

Blessing #3: Maddie's homework. I'm blessed to have a smart, studious daughter who has the ability to learn and think. I just hope she survives to adulthood seeing as I want to ring her neck during homework time every night.

Blessing #4: Eating homemade banana pudding tonight. I know this one's not hard to see at all, but yummy!!

Excuse my lameness, but I definitely need to be reminded of the things I take for granted and the fact that most of my problems aren't really problems at all. Thanks, Lord, for the hard to see blessings and for giving me the eyes to see them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You're Going to Die

I know, I know. The title just makes you want to dive right in, doesn't it? But I'll try to keep it from being too depressing. Just hang on...

I have regular brushes with death. Some would say they're imaginary, but they seem very real to me. I can be a bit of a hypochondriac, if you can believe that. But, every few months, I decide that I probably have some terrible disease and I'm probably not going to make it another year. I've actually gotten better at talking myself out of most of these instances, but last week a doctor discovered the potentially deadly problem instead of me, which made it seem a little more real. (For once, I go to the doctor NOT worried that it's anything life-threatening, and I leave in a panic.) After finding a suspicious looking spot on my x-ray, she made the comment, "We always find these things when we're not looking for them." From that point on, I didn't hear anything she said. I'm just thinking, "What things? Deadly things? Cancer?" So, I left pretty ticked off that she had taken a routine, non-worrisome visit and made it into an anxiety-ridden death sentence.

I do tend to get a little ahead of myself and think the worst, if you haven't noticed. I attribute this to my stronghold of fear and the plethora of tragic stories you read about online. (Dadgum blogs and caring bridge.) Nevertheless, my pessimistic side took over, and I spent the next several days trying to focus on God and not be overcome with fear and worry. But here is my point in this revelation of my craziness: Why does my perspective on life change so radically when I am presented with a remote possibility of impending death?

On the days when I am convinced that I am not much longer for this earth, I love my kids so deeply. I am not so easily annoyed and frustrated by the dirty laundry, the screaming baby, or the crumb-covered kitchen floor. I forgive my husband for being messy and forgetful much more quickly. I appreciate all the little blessings of life, like snuggles and good books, and don't completely flip out over having to pay an air conditioning repair bill. I am focused on Christ and eternity, asking myself if I really believe what I believe and if it will really bring me peace and joy no matter what? Is He enough? And, most of all, I think, "If I'm going to die, I need to talk to more people about Jesus. Who cares what they think? I'll be dead soon." So all of this left me wondering, why do we not live everyday like we're dying? Because, guess what? We are.

Why have I spent 10 years thinking I should share my testimony with someone, yet I've never done it? Why do I sweat the small stuff, like retirement money and college tuition for three kids? Why don't I pour every second of my day into living for my King without caring what the world, or my family, or my neighbors, or my friends think? Why don't we, as the great theologian Tim McGraw says, live like we're dying? Why do I not live each day so that when I do die, I have no regrets? So that I can stand before my Lord and hear, "Well done." Yet, even though I have contemplated all these things, I still don't always act on it. I quickly slip back into my humdrum, everyday life with all my reservations about sharing my faith and distractions from kingdom work. I hope I can get the hang of this thing before my days on earth really do come to an end. How horrible to waste the opportunities God has given me.

You will be glad to know (I hope), I am not currently dying of cancer or any other horrifying disease (that I know of), but I sure would love to live like I am.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Asking for Wisdom

My brain is in pain. I used to think I was a fairly intelligent person, but that has changed. Between the sucking of my brain cells by my children and going deeper into God's Word, I feel pretty stupid right now. Not the kind of stupid where you just have a momentary lapse in judgment or you just "don't think" and do something really....well, stupid. I mean the kind of stupid where you just cannot understand or process things. How can God's Word be simple enough for a child yet so complicated that you can spend your life studying it and never scratch the surface? I do take some comfort from the fact there are people, Biblical scholars, who do just that. It's part of our humanness, I suppose. We just cannot begin to comprehend or understand who God truly is or the ways in which He works. However, in James 1:5, He does promise that He will give wisdom to those who ask without doubting. So, I'm asking.

What prompted this new epiphany of stupidity is the reading of John Piper's Desiring God. If you haven't read it, don't. It'll just make you feel stupid. Just kidding. Well, about the not reading it part but not about the fact that it will make you feel stupid. (But if you read it and DON'T feel stupid, please don't tell me, because then I will just feel more stupid.) I meet with several other girls (when will I begin referring to myself and my friends as women and not girls?) once a week as part of an accountability group. We started the group over two years ago, but we just recently began reading books together. Our first one was Francis Chan's Crazy Love, which I heartily recommend, with the warning that it will challenge your socks off. Seriously, it has been life-changing for me. And from that book, we were left with a desire to desire God more. We want to want Him, but we don't always want Him more than we want other things. Thus, Desiring God. The problem is that John Piper is just way too smart and has me speechless whenever I get finished reading the chapter. That poses a problem seeing as we gather once a week to discuss the book. A speechless discussion isn't really very much fun.

But, from these two books, God really has a lot of thoughts and questions swirling around in my head. I want to post about them so all three people who read this can suffer with me, but I can't even make enough sense of it to do that. However, as the title of this post points out, I am asking for wisdom concerning this swirling vortex of questions. So, once He answers and gives me a little peek into what He's trying to show me, I'll be sure to share with all three of you. I'm just posting now so that my brain can focus on something...and because I'm at home on Sunday morning missing being with the church. (I can't say "at church" because Chris will point out that church is not a place, it is a group of people.) I will admit, that, at first, I was mostly miffed at missing church because I wouldn't get to hang out and be a part of our new Sunday School class, but as the morning has worn on, I am missing being in the presence of God through corporate worship and the study of His Word. So maybe this book is working. Maybe I am Desiring God...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jack Attack

Let me first ask: Is there anything more precious than rocking your baby to sleep? I think not. (You'll find out momentarily why I was rocking my baby to sleep.)

Jack, Jack, Jack. How do I begin to describe my middle child? Well, talkative, to say the least. He talks so fast in that little nasally voice of his that he often gets tangled on the oh so important words he simply must speak. He is passionate, often letting his emotions get the better of him, but with such great potential to be passionate about Christ. He knows what he wants. Take that how you will. He is persistent, although I like to think of it as being perseverance wrapped up in a sometimes exasperating shell. Jack is unique, opinionated, and the "life" of our family. I've never met someone who can take me from the fieriness of anger to the throws of laughter so quickly. What would life be without Jack? Dull, to say the least. I see his potential impact on the Kingdom of God, and it is great.

He keeps me on my toes with his questions, comments, and observations about his world. And he keeps me laughing. Here are a few examples, although I don't know that I can do them justice in type.

1. Just moments ago, Luke, the baby brother whom Jack so lovingly shares his room with, was standing in his bed babbling and yelling instead of going to sleep. I repeatedly heard Jack yelling back at him, "Luke, stop saying that! Go to sleep." Of course, Luke took great delight in ignoring his sleepy brother and continuing to yell. Finally, Jack marched into the kitchen to find me and, with a scowl on his face, said, "Luke always says these baby things that I just can't understand and that makes me say, 'Luke, stop saying that!' but he doesn't." It's hard being the big brother, I guess. (Hence, rocking the baby to sleep.)

2. Yesterday morning, as Jack and Maddie headed off to their first day of school, Jack was very concerned with the fact that it was raining. Then we heard James Spann's (gotta love James) weather forecast on the radio, and he said, "Showers ending early." I said to Jack, "Oh, good, he said no more showers." Jack immediately replied in a distressed voice, "Oh, no! Now you and Daddy and Maddie can have anymore no showers...only bath-es." (I know that doesn't make much sense, but that's how he said it, and you know what he means.)

3. After we left the chaos that is Wednesday night church (fun chaos, though), we were driving down the road. Jack said, "Just face it, Luke. I could eat you up because you're so cute!"

There have been so many funny things Jack has said on a daily basis, I just hate myself for not keeping track of them. But I've been a little bit busy just keeping track of Jack himself. Hopefully, now I'll have an easier way to jot them down, so bear with me. I'm a mom.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When Did This Happen?

(I apologize for the lack of paragraphs. It keeps taking them out when I publish the post.)
I'm a little confused about who the people in this picture actually are. It looks like me (with some crazy hair) and Maddie, but it just can't be. I found myself having a very surreal moment last Thursday as I took Maddie (my firstborn) to her first eye doctor visit. You see, I took her to my eye doctor...the very one I have been seeing since I was ten years old and got my first pair of (very cool, pink) glasses. Whenever I go for a check-up, I really kinda feel like that little girl in goofy plastic frames, being taken by my mom for an eye check. But, suddenly, I find myself sitting in the "mom" chair looking at this beautiful little girl with blonde hair and no front teeth.
That's when it hits me. I am the mom. The one driving kids to doctor's appointments, paying taxes, and cooking meals. (I use the term cooking loosely here. It mainly refers to heating up pre-breaded chicken fingers in the oven.) I am the one who is in charge of other people. Doing things like, well, keeping them alive. I am the one driving a mini-van, going to "meet the teacher," and signing up to be "room mom." Okay, I wasn't brave or insane enough to sign up for room mom, but it was an option on my paper. I'm approaching middle age and starting to see wrinkles. How did this happen? It just doesn't feel like me.
And then I look at the previously mentioned sweet little girl sitting in the big exam chair, and, once again, I can't believe my eyes. She's so big! She is adorably wearing the doctor's big white coat (because she was cold), has her wavy, wispy hair pulled back in a ponytail, and is smiling this little shy smile which occasionally gives you a peek at the empty space where her front teeth used to be. And I wonder, "Who is she?" My daughter is a sweet little baby with blonde ringlets and really chubby cheeks. She adores me and can always bring a smile to my face. I rock her to sleep every night and go peek at her in her crib before I go to bed. This simply can't be her. Where has the time gone?
Don't get me wrong. I love being an almost middle-aged mom with a mini-van and three kids (most of the time). And I'm glad my firstborn is growing and developing as a little girl should. But I've always found being a mom such a bittersweet experience. There is so much joy, but so much sadness, too. One day you are given this perfect (although sometimes loud and messy) gift of someone who adores you and you them, but then you spend everyday after that learning to let it go. And the closer you get to the day when you must release the gift, the faster the day approaches. You are powerless to stop it. Of course, even though you can't keep the gift forever, it's always worth the pain of letting it go to have it for a little while.
Funny, though, how the days can seem so long while you're living them, but so short when you look back at them. Today is a long day at our house, but one I need to enjoy while it's here. So, I guess I'll go find that little toothless girl and her funny brother and do something fun while the monkey baby sleeps. School begins tomorrow, and I'll have to let go a little more.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dinner, Dessert, and Mating Cockroaches

(I must preface this post by saying that I've been found out! Imagine my shock when I was reading a friend's blog yesterday and just happened to notice a link to MY blog on HER blog! The secret's out! So now, people are insisting on having access to my ridiculous blog, even though I know they'll read it and think it's completely dull and boring. Oh, the risk of rejection!)

Let me begin (the real post, not including my above preface) by saying that I never thought I'd voluntarily include in my title the name of the most disgusting insect on earth. But it had to be done.

If you asked me what the perfect fun weekend would be, my description would have to include hanging out with close friends. Not just any old friend or acquaintance will do. It has to be the type of friends that you have a history with - funny stories, inside jokes. The people in your life that just "get" you. Those kinds of friends are hard to come by, especially couple friends that both the husband and wife love hanging out with. We have been so blessed during our marriage to have several close couple friends. So, this weekend would rank pretty high as far as fun weekends go because it has included a date with my husband (which happens about once a year these days) AND going out to dinner with some of our best friends.

I mean, with what other group of people could dinner and dessert conversation center mostly around our aches and pains, burning dead animal carcasses, men in Speedos, and a few rather crass things I won't mention...and still be tons of fun? Not to mention our main form of entertainment being a real life version of the Discovery channel's "Cockroaches in Love." The yummy pasta and fabulous cheesecake were just bonuses. We really should do this more than twice a year. (But next time our other BFF's must come along. No lack of babysitting can stand in their way.)

A little bit of a bummer for me was the fact that Chris and I will move on to a new Sunday School class tomorrow, apart from the aforementioned fun friends. But, it will be an exciting day, provided anyone shows up to the class. I really do pray that God will use this tiny, rather easy step of faith for His Kingdom, despite my selfish emotions that rear themselves from time to time. What a small sacrifice to make for the One who has given so much for and to me. But, making everyone pinky swear tonight that they'd still be our friends and we'd still go out together quite frequently probably wouldn't have been a bad idea now that I think of it.

It's getting rather late (if you consider midnight late), and I still have to send Kerrie the link to my blog, now that the word is out. So, I better jet... (Hee, hee.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Long Haul

If you weren't already aware of this, Texas is really far away from Alabama. And Texas is really stinking big. I'm not sure any one state should be allowed to be that big. It's such a frustrating experience for travelers. I mean, you're destination is "somewhere in Texas", so when you cross the border into the Lone Star State, you naturally think, "Oh, good! We're getting close." But you are sorely mistaken because you have forgotten that Texas has really swallowed six other states that never had a chance. So, you keep driving for hours, and then you're not even halfway across this massive chunk of dry, flat land. And why do Texans think it's the Promised Land, anyway? It's as hot oven, and just dry and brown everywhere you look. Where are the beautful streams. shady forests, and rolling hills that I left behind in Alabama? I'll just never understand Texans, I guess.

But one great thing about Texas is...wonderful people. Namely, Matthew, Emily, Steve, and Sandra. I wouldn't make this horrendous drive with three children (one of whom is NOT fond of spending any length of time in his car seat) for just anyone. Just when I am about to jump out of a moving vehicle to avoid driving one more inch with a very tired, impatient baby (whom I love dearly), we arrive! And, just like childbirth, you forget the agony you endured to get here. (Okay, childbirth wasn't really agony for me because I am a chicken and have had three fabulous epidurals.) We get out of the van, stretch our legs, and see my brother and his sweet wife, and the memories of the last twelve hours fade away.

We had such a great time with them, as we always do. They are so sweet with our kids, and we have such a great time just doing nothing together. But the whole visit is so bittersweet, because our time with them is so limited. It just makes me want to live closer to them so badly when I am reminded how much we love them and enjoy being with them. I've been passing along some suggestions to God about the future plans of our little family and Matthew and Emily. I can think of a few sibling duos in the Bible, so why not us? I'm just's a good idea. Only Emily has some crazy idea that we'll all be jealous of each other's other friendships, but I think we'll be fine. They'll just have to be sure they spend much more time with us than with anyone else. What's the big deal?

So, we did some swimming, eating (which I'm paying for now by having to lose a few pounds), and game-playing. NRH2O, a water park we went to, was awesome. I always forget how much I love water parks, until I go to one. Then I wonder why I don't go more often. And thanks to Steve and Sandra, we even had a double-date night of bowling, mall browsing, and cheesecake! (Hence the weight gain.) But, oh, the sadness of leaving! I suppose I should just be thankful to have such great family. I'll have to work on my attitude.

So, then we spent some time with Chris's brother and his family. Let me just say here that my kids are incredibly blessed. They have the best grandparents and aunts and uncles in the world! (Of course, I guess that would make me blessed, too.) Since Jack and Luke weren't feeling well (did I mention Luke was sick the whole time?), we just did some hanging out, exercising, another trip to a mall, more eating (Yikes!), and a little putt-putt - with a little road-side vomiting thrown in just for fun. I must say, Sandra and I have quite a way with a putter and golf ball. And then more goodbyes. :(

And then another long haul...Is it possible that Alabama moved further away from Texas in the last few days?

(It did actually get longer in time thanks to our one hour completely stopped in Mississippi.)