Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Toilet Paper

We need toilet paper. Toilet paper and milk. We can do without the milk. We can't do without the toilet paper.

How did our supplies get so low, so fast? Easy. A four year old toilet paper abuser.

Four bathrooms sharing one roll of toilet paper. We are each allowed three squares. Three small squares until I get to the store. We're not going to make it through the day. I'm going to have to make the trip. The dreaded trip to Wal-Mart for only two things.

I despise trips to Wal-Mart for only a couple things. I get tired just thinking about it.

If only....

If only Walmart had a drive-thru. A drive-thru for 10 items or less. You place your order on-line, pay for your items including a small $5 convenience fee, choose your pick-up time, and simply drive-thru and pick up your order.

I think this is genius. I'd like toilet paper, milk, a Snickers (for me), and well...let's just throw in some diet coke to top off the chocolate.

Diapers, infant tylenol, 2 lbs of bananas, and could you pick out a nice gift for a 10 yr. old boy.

Pork loin, KC barbecue sauce, 1 lbs of potatoes, 1 loaf of bread.

Who do I talk to about this? I mean, really. This is the mom's ultimate dream. I actually have spent several minutes fantasizing about this.

The only thing that is ruining my fantasies is this one nagging thought: What would the moms in Africa who walk miles everyday for clean water think of my idea? Do you think they'd sympathize with how hard it is to drag a couple children into the store for milk...for water...for medicine?

Hmmm...I'm going to run to Wal-Mart. I'll fantasize about my idea later.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The State of Our Heart

Our pastor said something that struck a chord with me today.

"What is the trajectory of your behavior suggesting about the state of your heart?"

This afternoon I spent some time thinking about my behavior, my obedience to the Lord, and the way I spend my days.

I had an imaginary discussion with my pastor as I was taking a walk this afternoon.

"Pastor Brett, let me tell you about the way I spend my days."

I imagined him saying to me, "If you tell me how you spend your day, I'll tell you who and what you love."

(I think he would say that...although I shouldn't put it in quotes because it was an imaginary conversation.)

I heard that said about finances many years ago. Tell me where you spend your money and I'll tell you where your heart is.

I'm sure it's also been said in relation to how we spend our time and the things that we pursue.

We can say whatever we want about the status of our hearts. Let's not fool ourselves though with words. Our time, our behavior, and our money are spent on the things that truly reign supreme in our hearts.

David and the Psalms

Proverbs 17:28 "Even a fool is thought wise, if he holds his tongue."

I talk too much. This is why I will never be thought wise. I'm regularly revealing my foolishness with my mouth.

I process through writing. I don't lay in bed at night and ponder. I can't follow my own thoughts. I write to ponder. I write to think through my faith. I write my doubts. I write my questions. I write my prayers. My foolishness is most often revealed to me through my writings. This is why I would never wish to be published. My words are not trustworthy.

I was thinking about David after church today and how I portrayed him in my last post. "Emotionally crazy" and "David" should probably not be in the same sentence. David was emotional. Period. Psalms is an emotional book of the Bible. Period. Every emotion you could possibly have is poured out before the Lord in Psalms. I should have left it at that.

But I'm a fool...and I keep talking...

I can't help but read through the Psalms and feel like I'm taking a secret peek at someone's prayer journal. Psalms is intimate. David's relationship with the Lord screams intimacy.

In David's words:

Psalm 3 "Arise O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked."

Psalm 4 "Answer me when I call you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress."

Psalm 6 "I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears."

Psalm 7 "O Lord my God, I take refuge in you."

Psalm 8 "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth."

Psalm 13 "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?"

Psalm 18 "The Lord is my Rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. He is my shield."

Psalm 22 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?"

I think David and I connected the first time on these two verses. Psalm 30: 6-7 "When I felt secure, I said, 'I will never be shaken.' O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed."

I totally get that. I have journal entries overflowing with trust in the Lord. Times when I felt like I would never be shaken. Yet, one entry later I'm on my bed in dismay over why the Lord has hidden His face from me. Shaken to the core. I'm so thankful David wrote that Psalm.

The Psalms go on and on for 150 Psalms with outpouring of emotion. Praise. Despair. Fear. Hope. Anger. Joy. Every Psalm points out who God is IN SPITE of our emotions. Each Psalm brings us back. Back to the Lord. David constantly reminds us the faithfulness of the Lord in the midst of any trial we could possibly be facing. David's honesty before the Lord leads to a great intimacy. David doesn't pretend to be strong. He desperately clings to the Lord.

David's constantly preaching himself a sermon. Reminding his weary soul of the attributes of the Lord. Perhaps our prayers and praises should look more like David's. The laying down of our emotions and the aligning of them with the truth about who the Lord is.

We are not trustworthy. Our emotions will betray us.

God is always trustworthy. He will never betray us.

We are weak. He is strong.

Read the Psalms. They are refreshing to a weary soul.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spiritual Schizophrenic

I know I'm saved. I have no doubts Jesus died on the cross for my sins. That I've been bought at a price. That my salvation is secure in the hands of a faithful God. That before I was born, He called me to Himself.

BUT I AM ALL OVER THE PLACE SPIRITUALLY! Is there medication for this?

At the beginning of last week, I was so spiritually encouraged that I think my faith could have moved mountains. I was praising the Lord. Thirsting for His Word. Confident of His loving Hands.

Sometime between Wednesday at midnight and Thursday at noon, I fell off my spiritual mountaintop and have been lacking ever since. I've stared blankly at my Bible. Fallen asleep when I've tried to pray. Felt no nudging by the Holy Spirit. I think I fell off the wagon.

Today in church we were singing Here I am. I think Phillips, Craig, and Dean sing it. Maybe another group sings it too, but it's always been one of my favorites.

I was thinking as I was singing...I wasn't worshipping. My fault. My sin. My mind spoke a disclaimer after every verse we sang.

Here I am to know my mind's wandering, Lord.
Here I am to bow myself since I've been my own idol.
Here I am to say that you're my God...sometimes you are...when I put you in your rightful place in my life.
You're all together are, Lord.
Altogether worthy....why don't I treat you that way?
Altogether wonderful to me...

And then I started to cry. Not because I was repentant or moved. Simply because I was spiritually tired. I couldn't even focus. My son looked at me and said, "Why are you crying, Mom?" I had to be honest. "I'm tired." I wish I could have said to him that I was crying because I was so thankful or so overwhelmed by God's love or so repentant or even that I was sad over an event. I was simply crying because I was just spiritually tired. I think I was crying because I wasn't anything. I was almost apathetic. That's pathetic.

Last week, we sang Blessed Be Your Name and I wanted to run around and shout for joy. I was so moved by the unity we have in Christ. I was so overwhelmed by God's love for me. I almost ran up and gave Dawson a high-five after the song.

A mere week later, my soul is searching for a safe place to land as I'm sitting in the Lord's house. I know the safe place, but my soul was still searching in spite of knowing the truth.

A spiritual schizophrenic. Loving the Lord. Doubting the Lord. Trusting the Lord. Trusting myself. Serving out of love. Serving out of duty. Joyful. Resentful. Praising. Complaining. Generous. Greedy. Mature in Christ. Immature in Christ.

Which one am I? All of those things. I'm all of those things.

I love David. David of the Bible, that is.

(Sidenote: One time I told Preston that I had a crush on David. His eyes widened and he exclaimed, "David Thompson!" He's a good friend of ours. NOOO. Not David Thompson. David of the Bible. Preston doesn't really care if I have a crush on David of the Bible. He's been dead a really long time and apparently Preston's not threatened by dead people. But I don't say that anymore. I guess it's not appropriate.)

Anyway, David wrote a majority of the Psalms and he is truly all over the place emotionally. He prays for God's revenge on people. He dances for joy before the Lord. He groans in tears. He shouts praises to God. David is emotional. Through all of those emotions though, he always takes them before the Lord. David's God is my God. God understands these emotions. David was called "a man after God's own heart" and he was emotionally CRAZY. Maybe there's hope. Possibly I just need to follow David's example and pour out all these emotions before the Lord, let Him sift them, and trust Him to discipline me back to His truth.

Recently, I spoke a bit too loudly to my kids and then a second later I laughed at a joke one of my sons was telling me. My oldest son said, "Mom, that was weird. You were yelling at us and then you randomly burst into laughter over Josh's joke."

I tried to pull the "David" card. I tried to explain that I was a bit like David. I used my teaching holy voice. "Kids, if you read Psalms you'll see that David loves and hates within some of the same Psalms."

Yeah, not wise. I'm pretty sure that was the wrong use of the David card! David's emotional example in Psalms is his emotional pouring out before the Lord. Not in his sporadic treatment of others. Bummer. And then to put icing on an improper use of David's example, I hear...

"Mom, you are nothing like David." Ouch.
Trying to soften the statement a bit, he says,
"I mean, you're a girl for one."

Why must they be so honest?

Maybe I'll just take comfort in knowing that while I'm actually nothing like the David in the Bible that we have the same God that David had. God created our emotions. We can pour all of our emotions out before the Lord...even our lack of emotion. The mountaintops serve to encourage us...the valleys grow our faith.

What do the "in-betweens" do? The times when we aren't on the mountain or in the valley? I seem to be "there" a lot. Maybe that's the perseverance of our faith. God is God. That never changes regardless of where we are on the journey. Thank goodness.

Tomorrow's a new day. His promises are new.

Maybe I'll listen to Here I am to Worship in the morning. Maybe I'll just worship with a heart full of praise. Or maybe I'll still cry. But God is God. The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He doesn't change...He never fails. He's a Rock. He's the Rock that a spiritual schizophrenic needs to hide under. I think I'm going to go hide for a while.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wisdom from Wiser Moms

I went to a meeting at our church last night with moms who had raised their children.
They answered our questions and provided some great wisdom.
None of these are my thoughts, but I'm going to use them.
The following are the nuggets that I'm pondering from last night:

Remember that our imperfection as parents and their imperfections are why our children need a Savior. If we could be it all to them, they wouldn't need Jesus.

No matter how great the parenting, your kids will not come out of your home unscathed.

Our job is to equip them for adulthood.

At the end of the day, our job as parents is to get our child's hand in HIS.

Children are a blessing and arrows in a man's quiver. Proverbs says "Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Arrows weren't meant to stay in the quiver. They were meant to fly.

Find some significance outside of child-rearing. We are believers first. Not mothers first. Serve the kingdom even as you are raising your childrenIf you only serve your children, it will be difficult to let them go.

Humble yourself before your children.

Repent before your children.

If we feel their successes and failures reflect on us as parents that will be too much pressure for them.

There won't be one night that you go to bed and think "I did everything right today as a parent."

Always encourage their strengths.

When a family is kid-centered, our children can't help but think the world revolves around them.

When your kids are sharing something with you and you aren't sure what they want from you, ask them. Do you want me to listen? Do you want my opinion? Ask them what they need from you at that point.

Let them have opportunities to fall under the safety net of your home.

On Dating:

"We asked our children to wait until they were 18. Dating is to find a mate and before that point you aren't in a position to find a mate."

It's difficult when you break up and you are in a youth group and families are involved. It's even disruptive to the unity of a youth group when couples within the youth group break up.

The right person at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.

Remind them that you and their siblings want to affirm their choice in a mate.

Pray for their mate.

Tell your children to view those in their youth group as brothers and sisters in Christ...not as "potentials."

On Marriage in the midst of child-rearing:

God first. Husband second. Kids third. Kids third. Kids third.

You will be an empty nester. You will. Put your marriage first. Always.

In a healthy family, everyone takes turns getting their needs met. A child needs to know that sometimes it's not their turn.

On Siblings:

Point out strengths in each child in front of the other children.

Remind the children that their siblings are the ones they are going to have for a lifetime.

No matter where you go...I will be on your doorstep.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Contentment in Abundance

I'm so crabby today.

My healthy children are running around the house on strong legs making so much happy noise. I wish they'd keep it down.

Their bins of toys have been dumped all over the floor and a big yummy breakfast is still sitting on the kitchen table. What a mess.

My legs are tired because we walked all over Six Flags yesterday. It was almost hot outside.

I'm trying to sort through summer clothes and I'm irritated that some of the shirts still have tags on them. Why didn't we wear these this summer? I guess my kids are going to need to wear two shirts a day...or three.

I'm tired because my king size bed wasn't quite big enough to comfortably fit the two kids that crawled in bed with us last night...they just wanted to cuddle.

I have to drive to the doctor's office to pick up my child's immunization form before she can be enrolled in preschool. It's quite inconvenient.

The stock market is bouncing around. Our "extra" saved for a rainy day holds no promise of being there when we need it.

I'm behind emailing back my friends.

My family is coming to visit this weekend so I have lots of preparing to do.

My 3000+ sq. foot air-conditioned house is a mess. Football equipment, soccer cleats, dance bags cover the floor. All signs of our activities.

My homeschool stuff is not organized.

I haven't showered since...yesterday.

Oh, woe is me.

I wrote an email to my sister-in-law telling her about my "painful" task of cleaning out the storage room.

I used the word "painful" when describing a "storage" room.
The word I used to describe cleaning out a "storage" room was PAINFUL?
A storage room to hold my excess. My extra clothes, extra canned goods, extra stuff.
That's painful?

I'm so spoiled.
I should be thankful.

I think it was Max Lucado who said,
"The source of our struggle is our blessings."

I complain about my blessings.
My cell phone is dying. How will I live?
My child's doctor is across town. I have to drive to appointments.
I'm not thrilled with my wardrobe. But I have a closet of clothes.
My huge house is difficult to maintain.
I'm tired from all the fun I had yesterday at an amusement park. It's hard work to have so much fun.
It's hard to be so blessed.
Why do my blessings irritate me?

I'm so spoiled.
I have so much.

Contentment in abundance.
Why is that so difficult for me?

Paul writes in Philippians
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:11-13)

We have so much in this country. Most often the things that we lack would be considered "wants" in other counties. Food. Water. Shelter. Family. Friends. Freedom. Blessings...and then more blessings. Sometimes our blessings distract us from the Giver of the blessings. Our blessings have the potential to rank supreme in our heart. That's why Paul talks of having contentment in plenty. He knows that those of us with "plenty" struggle just as much with putting our hope in our blessings as those without struggle with wanting more. Our "plenty" will always leave us searching for an anchor just as our "lack of something" will.

There's nothing on this earth that can bear the full weight of our souls. No thing can grant our souls peace. Only the Creator is trustworthy with our souls. If blessings could sustain us, those in Hollywood would be the most content. Their needs appear to be met. They seem to have "extra" everything. Yet, their discontent splashes across the page of every tabloid.

No circumstance will leave us content.
God made us to find true contentment only in Him.

So maybe it's a blessing that our blessings disappoint. Maybe it's a gift to us that nothing satisfies. It reminds us that whether well fed or in plenty or in want...only Christ fulfills. Any other pursuit will leave us empty.

Lord, teach me to be faithful with my blessings.
Content no matter the circumstances.
Faithful with that which you have entrusted to me.

And help me to be thankful as I'm cleaning out my storage room...while my strong children are upstairs messing up my huge house.

My eternity is secure. I'm spending it in heaven worshipping the Lord. What do I really have to complain about?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dammy's in da bar!

I love baby babble. Noah goes on and on telling us stories...he uses his hands, uses expression in his voice, he pauses for effect, and he even nods to our response. Most of the time we have no idea what he's talking about.

"Miiiilt" can be several things. Did you want "milk"...or are you "mad"...or are you talking about Uncle "Matt"...we don't know. We pretend to know though and we have so much fun interpreting.

Today he started to tell a story that was quite intense.
It ended with "Dammy's in da bar!"

Dammy, huh?
Who's Dammy, Noah?
He giggled. He was probably thinking, "You dopes...why are you talking in baby talk. That's not what I said!" But that is what he said. Over and over and over again.
"Dammy's in da bar."
"Dammy's in da bar."

We broke it down word by word. We skipped "Dammy." We weren't ready to tackle that yet. We got "in." We got "da" is really "the." So, "bar." Does he know what a bar is? Has he snuck out at night and been to a bar? Or "bar" like in gymnastics...that type of a bar?

Ohh....CAR....he means "CAR!" Apparently the "c" sound is hard to make.
So, "Dammy's in the car." What's dammy? His toy? His car seat? No idea.
We sat on that a while.

We were going through some pictures from the lake and Noah points to Papa. "Papa." He's so excited. We were excited that he knew Papa too. "Papa and Dammy." There it is. "Dammy"
Grammy is actually "Dammy."

Why didn't we guess?
"Dammy's in da bar" really means "Grammy's in the car." She wasn't. We looked just to make sure we hadn't left her out there. No Grammy. Noah looked at me and said, "No, Dammy."

Should we change Grammy's name? She already went through a name change once. She started out as Mama Kathy, but Zach pronounced it "Mama CaCa." We tried and tried to get him to say it right, but he just wouldn't. "Mama CaCa" is not the best term of endearment for a first time grandma. So we changed it to Grammy.

Mama CaCa...Dammy....maybe we should have stuck with our original idea "Mama Mia."
I just asked Noah to say "Mia" and he said "Meeeoooow." Great. A cat. I'm not sure my mom loves cats enough to answer to "meeeoooww."

I pointed to Grammy in the picture and said, "Mia." Noah said, "No, Dammy."
"My Dammy." Noah says. "My Dammy."
Oh, we can't change her name. It's Noah's Dammy.
He'll be saying "Grammy" in a few short months and this will be a memory.
I'll ask my mom, but I'm pretty sure she'll let her grandkids call her anything as long as "my" is in front of it.

I'm going to give some serious thought to what I want my grandkids to call me though.