Saturday, August 29, 2009
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 Chris...how 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
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
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
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, 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
Saturday, August 8, 2009
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
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 saying...it'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?