28.10.09

two way street



Have you ever noticed that when God is trying to teach you a lesson, or give you an opportunity for growth, your "problem" surfaces in more than one place?  Sometimes it seems that what was an issue for me in one area, suddenly is smacking me in the face in another area.  Sometime it's that there are "answers" to my problem coming from a variety of sources - usually not all good.

Today I'm thinking about life as a 2 way street.  That's what they say, right?  I think what they mostly mean is that you give and you get, neither all of one or the other; or what you give is what you get.  But today that brings me to a question:

Is that a distortion of God's Word?  In particular, I'm thinking of the verse in Matthew that says,

"Do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12)

Am I the only one who grew up taking this as some kind of guarantee?  That if I treat people a certain way, they will kindly reciprocate.  I would take it one step further, in all honesty, and say that I've thought they might not even be aware or willing, but that it would be a super-natural force pushing them to respond to me in kind.  I have turned this portion of a verse, the wisdom of Jesus, into a promise.  I have taught this verse to my children.  We even made posters one time that said "treat others the way you would like to be treated", and only now is it suddenly dawning on me why my eldest took the poster down shortly after it went up.  I think, I think, she may have thought it was false advertising!

What is my motivation for "doing" for others.  WHY should I treat others the way I want to be treated?  To get back that same lovely behaviour?  What happens when that doesn't happen?  Worse yet, what happens when I'm all the wiser, and I KNOW that it won't be reciprocated?   .....human response:

why bother?

why try to change things, to improve things when I'm the only one working at it?

what's the point?

can I really let them off the hook, not hold them accountable?

what about all the junk in the past that brought me to this hard-hearted place?

what about ME?

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:18-19

I want a new thing.  I want a new name written on a white stone (Revelation 2:17).  I want to overcome my hurt feelings and loneliness. I want a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26)!  It has to happen within me, where the Holy Spirit lives - I can't expect this to happen because all my expectations of others are finally met the way I think they should be.

With Your help, and by Your mercy, O Lord.

26.10.09

is this thing on?


So today I'm doing something kind of new.  It's something I am, most appropriately put, anxiously awaiting. (Meaning: I'm a little anxious about it and am waiting to get it done!) 

Tonight I'm giving "the talk" at a Ladies Evening at the Maples Community Church.  The theme for the evening is "Reaching Out" which I felt was one of those 'God has a sense of humor' kind of moments given my blog from last month.

I'm not super-keen on public speaking, which probably seems silly given my job as a worship leader...  Though to be fair (to me!), this is a little different.  Rather than a sentence or two to provide a connecting thought between songs, or rather than sharing a five minute devotional, which I've done a few times, this is a little more.  A little more of myself, my heart, my view of the world and the Bible.

I prepared what I felt God would have me say over a week ago and have been practicing sounding natural - now that's an oxymoron!  In the last few days, I've started to doubt my material.  What if this isn't what they meant by 'reaching out', what if no one can relate to or understand what I'm trying say?

No coincidence, I'm sure, the verse I will be ending the talk with tonight is the one I need to hear on this afternoon leading up to it....

"For God did not give us a spirit of TIMIDITY, but a spirit of POWER, of LOVE and of SELF-DISCIPLINE." 2 Timothy 1:7

I've been praying for a long time that the Lord would use me in whatever way He sees fit, and have often wondered if an opportunity like this would present itself - and if I would be able to do it.  I guess I'm about to find out!

I think I'll go practice sounding natural one more time....

17.10.09

what's in a name


As I drove down Portage Ave on Thursday after lunch, the van was quiet.  Cassidy and I both deep in our own thoughts, until the question came:

"Mommy - what did your name used to be?"


I was pretty sure I knew what she was asking, but requested clarification, to be sure.

"I mean, what did other kids call you when you were little?"

As I tried to explain to her that they called me the same thing my friends today call me: 'Becky', it struck me how far into my new name I've fallen.

MOM.


If I am remotely within earshot of any one of my 3 kids, every question, thought or statement begins with those three little letters (and a questioning tone).  M-O-M-?

I remember when my first born was around 8 months old and all day she would say 'da-da-da-da-da-da.'  I would repeat back to her 'ma-ma-ma-ma-ma.'  I was so anxious for the day she would look at me and say it with full knowledge of my name: Mama.  Months later when it rolled off her tongue so easily, she reached her pudgy arms out to me with tears on her sweet cheeks and she called out that name, my heart almost burst - could it be?  Am I really Mama?

Almost 9 years have gone by and I've had the joy of teaching 2 more little souls my name.  But truth be told, there are days when it's not the easiest name to be called.

"Mom, what's for dinner?"

"Mom, you know that girl at school...."

"Mom, Ethan's driving me crazy..."

"Mom, where's my..."

"Mom, is it true that....."

"Mom, where are you?  Mom?  MOM?"

"Mom, I'm just getting a drink..."

"Mom, do you want to hear a blow-by-blow description of the movie I watched at school today?"
[the answer to that is almost always: 'no, thank you.' and 'why are you watching movies at school anyway?']

I love my kids - and I'm so thankful that I'm able to be a mom.  I don't underestimate the value and privilege that is.

But if that was my whole identity - where would I be when the kids aren't around?  When they no longer need to say that name a hundred (thousand) times a day; when they've found there own calling and are going on their (hopefully) God-led journeys?

I would be lost!

The Good News is that I have another name.

Christian.  


Here are some of the other names I claim as I follower of Jesus:


My role as Mom has changed a bit over the past 9 years, and I'm well aware that it will continue to change.  I expect one day I'll hear my given name much more often than this name I've heard dozens of times already today.  I'm quite sure that I eventually I'll be wishing to hear my kids say my name - to tell me all the things that are on their hearts.  Oh, Lord - may it be so!  But I praise God that the name HE has given me will never change!

"In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory."  Ephesians 1:11-12

16.10.09

puzzling: part 2


Lessons from puzzling - part 2:
Puzzles require ALOT of patience!



I was so gung-ho, thinking about the lovely time I could spend each evening calmly putting pieces into place....preventing me from the never-a-good-idea evening snacking....relaxing me until I took myself to bed for a peaceful slumber.....

not so.

If one doesn't watch oneself, one can become rather agitated while trying to put together a VERY DIFFICULT and CHALLENGING puzzle.

I'm not going to lie - after one evening, I almost put it away.  I know, that's so pathetic!  That's my perfectionism rearing it's ugly head once again.  If I can't do it swiftly and excellently - why bother?

Forced to face my limitations, I had a decision on my hands - give up or persevere?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  James 1:2-3

We're not talking about puzzles anymore, are we?

Life so often feels like a puzzle - how will things come together?  what will the final picture look like?  where does this piece go??  Each day is another piece in place, another step in faith, another opportunity to walk in loving obedience.  Some pieces slip right in, almost without thinking.  Others require searching, trying it here or there, patience.

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."  James 1:12

No short-cuts, just a slow steady walk toward the promises of God.

Toward Jesus!  

12.10.09

puzzling



So, it's the end of the Thanksgiving Day Long Weekend, and the end of a very busy week for me.  After we got home from the second day of family festivities with my in-laws, I started to think about what I could do to "treat" myself and really relax!  Gavin had already made plans to go to a movie (I wish I could say I was thrilled for him instead of bitter....), so I knew I had to think of something at home.  

I finally settled on doing a puzzle.

Maybe that sounds lame to you, but I really enjoy puzzles but haven't done many over the past years because if you have little ones around all the time, it can get rather frustrating to have them "help" or undo what you've accomplished. 

The kids had "enjoyed" each other enough for one long weekend and hit the hay a little early.  I made myself a cup of tea, opened a box I had gotten quite a while ago for just such an occasion and started flipping and sorting the pieces.

It got me to thinking about what I like about puzzles....puzzles are constant - the rules don't change, the picture doesn't alter and even if you walk away from it for days, it will stay locked together (provided there aren't any 'helping hands' around).  Also, there is a basic formula for puzzling that never fails: sort the pieces into straight-edgers and non, assemble the frame, move on to bigger, solid-coloured objects and fan out from there.  The third thing I like about puzzles is watching the picture come into focus.  The  puzzle I'm putting together is call 'The Tea Room' and looks like a photo taken in small town France (at least that's what I've decided!).  This puzzle has 750 pieces and each is pretty small, so you can't really identify the small wildflowers on each piece, but as they begin to interlock, you get a clear image of the bigger picture.

What does this say about me?  I'm smiling as I write this, because you can probably seen right through my enjoyment of puzzling and are now looking at my heart.  How my fallen nature would love to have this kind of control over my life...not to mention the lives of those I love.  How I would love to live in a world that was predictable and simple, where the basic formula always worked and you could gaze at the picture on the outside of the box, knowing always how each piece would come together to create something beautiful!  

But where would God be?  Would I need Him?  Would I even want Him?

If I could look at my life and see each step that is laid out before me -  and I could see where these many steps would take me, why would I need faith?  Would it make the really hard times easier just because I knew they were coming?  Knowing myself, I'm pretty sure I would end up doing everything possible to avoid the yucky stuff - but how would I grow?

"Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done.  
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; 
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."  
Psalm 40:5

I choose to trust that God has a plan for my life that will challenge and bless me, fulfill me and cause me to become a beautiful woman in His sight.  I believe that when my days are through and I look at the finally completed puzzle of my life, I will be blessed for having walked by faith, not knowing but trusting.

7.10.09

all things to all people


I'm knee-deep in the middle of a very busy week and I'm fighting the strong inclincation to feel
discouraged
I have forgotten a coffee date
I have hurt the feelings of a friend - unintentional but....still hurt
I spent a lunch with friends on an emergency call that probably should have waited
My attention has been so divided
I'm having trouble focusing
I wish I had know about birthdays that were today
I wish my kids lunches were more normal and full
I wish my kitchen floor were clean and I'm wondering when my laundry will get done
People are telling me I look tired-
I wish I could take that as concern and not an insult
I can't help but wonder if my job will bring the results I'm praying for

I am fighting to keep it together.

Gavin knows I have a bit of a fasination with the Duggar family (you know, the ones with 18 and counting kids?), so he brought home from the library the book they published about their life and show on TLC.  Now there's a busy bunch!  The book has a nice lite-read kind of format, which is perfect for brain-drain weeks like this, and part of that means there are responses to popular questions they get asked.  Of course, scheduling is always a big one! Michelle (the mom) writes about having goals for each day, but realizing the life happens and you need to go with the flow.
"As the parents of all these children, we've gotten over
 any perfectionist tendancies we might once have had."

Am I going to have to go ahead and have 20 kids to release my tendancy to want to be all things to all people - to let go of my desire for earthly perfection?  I love my kids, but 3 is plenty at this point! 

What about today?
What about this crazy week....month?
What if life doesn't slow down?

"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach..."
really? something even I could do?
"It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, 'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?'"
then where do I go to get this command?
"Not is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, 'Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?'"
no delivery date?
"No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it."
I already have everything I need!
"Love the LORD your God,
Listen to His voice, and
Hold fast to Him.
For the LORD is your life"
Deuteronomy 30:11-14, 16

Oh Lord, enable me to live by Your Spirit, to be guided by Your wisdom in seasons of busy-ness and times of rest.  Let your love lead me so I can walk confidently through each day.  amen.

3.10.09

pick me up!

video

I'm sure most parents have videos like this in their collection, but I couldn't resist. If this doesn't make you smile.....

Have a blessed day!

2.10.09

invasion

Today I have to share what I learned in my bible study homework last night - yes, more Beth Moore!

We're continuing to move through the book of Genesis, and we're just approaching God's promise to Sarah being fulfilled (I read ahead a little last night!). Yesterday's lesson was a discussion about Abraham claiming to the king that Sarah, his wife, was his sister - again!

If you'll indulge me (and I hope it's not illegal) I would like to quote straight from the lesson book, so we don't miss the message. We'll pick up where she begins a discussion on the Greek word HORME.

"According to the New Testament Lexical Aids, 'Horme is an impulse or urge, a strong and forceful movement toward something, and connotes the ideas of thrusting, propulsion, and suddenness. It is not unlike a sudden thought, whim, or dictating inclination.' After praying that God would invade every part of my thought life, I added this new dimension to my prayers: ' God, fill me so completely with Your Holy Spirit that even my reactions and sudden impulses are godly!' I want to be like Peter when he saw Jesus on the shore and impulsively jumped in the water and swam to Him with all his might! (see John 21)........ You might say the circumstance propelled [Abraham and Sarah] with the dictating inclination of deceit as illustrated by the Greek work horme. We have defaulted to old patterns as well. Under stress or sudden crisis, our first reactions at various points may be fleshly and selfish. What if we began attentively and repeatedly praying for the Holy Spirit to invade and renew us so richly and deeply that even our impulses were godly?" (Page 62-63 The Patriarchs, Beth Moore)

What difference would this make in my life? One word? AMAZING!

~on a worship note: as I wrote this entry, Cassidy wanted music so I put on the Chipmunks soundtrack.....As I wrote Beth's words, the song "Only You" came up. Worship with the Chipmunks? Today I say "yep!"


1.10.09

today

Today I have a choice. I can focus on the concerns that weigh my heart down - hurt feelings and unanswered questions- or I can focus on the Lord. I can look at the confusion that often comes from being in human relationships, or I can let my gaze fall upon perfection in the One who will never change His mind about me. The choice isn't always easy, but today I choose Him. I choose to:
"set my mind on things above, not on earthly things."
(Colossians 3:2)


Feel the freedom!

My friend, Sherri, posted this link on Facebook a couple of days ago and when I watched it, I was moved to worship. Is that a little weird? likely. One thing that struck me was the way the bodies moved and the way movement spread. Go with that concept in your own mind as you will. The other thing that got me was this overwhelmingly positive attitude. I wish I could say that I'm a person who is naturally optimistic and upbeat, but I don't think that it would be truthful! I seem to more easily see the empty half of the glass.

But while I watched this video over and over, the Spirit spoke to me, telling me that I could have this kind of life by choice. I could begin my days with the Lord and an attitude that says this will be a good day!

At this point I should make the disclaimer that this song advocates a lifestyle I certainly do not! But praise the Lord that we can worship through all kinds of avenues, not just typical worship music! When the Black Eyed Peas sing "fill up my cup" I'm pretty sure (tongue in cheek!) they mean with alcohol. When I sing it along, I'm praying that the Lord will fill up my cup for this day - with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control! Oh Lord, let it overflow!

I gotta feeling....that today's gonna be a good day! That today's gonna be a good good day!

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