Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Midnight Run to Taco Bell and Elijah Takes A Stand

There are so many "posts" in my head.  I wish I could somehow transmit them to Blogger without needing time or energy to type.

But, after I saw something Elijah had written on the whiteboard last night, I knew it was time to dig in, sit down, and type away.

But first I need to give you a little context...

• In our studies, we are just starting Week 16 and pre-Revolutionary War.

• My husband and I went to prayer meeting last night.  While the kids hung out at home, the girls were sewing on the dreaded ballet slipper ribbons for exams.

• Abby=14 and all that that encompasses.  Enough said.

After we got home, I checked in with the girls and I was so proud of them!!

They both got their ribbons sewn on and they looked beautiful.

Charlotte was happy and very proud of herself.

Abby... was out of sorts.

She doesn't like to sew and being hunched over (as she was) made her back hurt and her eyes ache.

She came into my bedroom and said she was going downstairs to eat a snack and then she was going to bed.

I was reading, all comfy cozy in bed, when I heard this near panic cry from the kitchen.

"Who ate the last of my granola??!!"

Uh-oh.

Abby has become the granola making genius and she had whipped up a new batch a few days ago.

I had a feeling Karl must have eaten the last piece.  I called down,

"I don't know honey.  I haven't had any.  It might have been your Dad."

Now, for those of you that have read her post about trusting in God, know that God has been doing a work in her heart.

Having had a long night doing something she doesn't like, then being disappointed by not getting to eat the last of something she made, plus being in pain had the potential to make her very crabby.

I laid very still and listened.  I was curious to know what she would choose to do with her bundle of emotions.

I heard, very softly, dishes being put away.  Then I heard the water running and dishes being loaded.  No sighing.  No  grumbling.  Simply a task being done.

I smiled.

Then, I got up, out of my warm, soft, cozy bed, and went downstairs.  I already had a plan in mind.

She noticed me from the sink and looked up.

I smile and asked, "What did you end up eating?"

Oh, the sad, sad look!  Big crocodile tears and, "Nothing."

"Oh honey, you want to make a midnight run to Taco Bell?  I think I still owe you one."

Oh the bright eyes and big, happy smile!  "Really?  Really?"

Yes, really :)

I ran upstairs to tell Charlotte that I was taking Abby for a TB run and did she want anything.  She gave me her order and I told her to let Daddy know where we went if he woke up looking for us.

As Abby and I were getting ready to leave, we noticed something written on the kitchen whiteboard by Elijah.


We laughed so hard.

Let me explain.

About a year or so ago, Elijah was very excited about some special treat he was eating.  And Abby, as she was reaching her hand into the bag of yumminess, informed Elijah that he needed to pay "Big Sister Tax."

It has since become a very big joke.  She doesn't collect very often but she will bring it up any time Elijah has something good.

The board said...



It says,
"No Taxation without representation... translation- No Sister Tax"


Apparently, he had had enough!  Be warned people, knowledge is dangerous!!!
hahaha

***

Abby and I went off in the crazy fog (who knew??) and made a midnight run to Taco Bell.  Taco Bell is the only "fast food" place of indulgence we visit.  And we still only visit rarely.

But, tonight was the night.  It wasn't about food, missing granola, or ballet ribbons.  The Lord made my heart soft to my daughter.  She needed to be tended to.  She needed something special.  She needed to feel loved.

We picked up our tacos (for the girls) and one bean tostada for the mommy.

We sat around the table and laughed at the hot sauce packets.



I liked, "When I grow-up, I want to be a bottle."  Hee hee

We didn't have a serious conversation.  In fact, we were really silly.

We laughed a lot.

After we had eaten, we moved in front of the fireplace and chatted a little more, laughed a little more, and loved much.

We all went to bed happy and filled... not with tacos, but with joy.

A wise mom told me just before Abby started grade school, that time goes really fast once your first child starts school.

She was right.

She also just graduated her last, the fifth, child.

She has informed me, as we will have our first high school freshmen this Fall, that the high school years go twice as fast as the rest of it.

I believe it.  It already feels faster.

I want my relationship with my kids to be rich and deep.  Rich in love and deep in trust.

That means that I need to walk in the Love of Jesus and know He loves them more than I do.

And I need to trust that He has guided us all these years and that He will be faithful to guide them.

I have lots more in my brain about the passing of this baton called Faith.

But, for now... I encourage you to smile at your kids for no reason at all and let them know that not only do you love them, but that you like them.





Photobucket
Oh, and ah...Tacos anyone?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Big "What If...?"

Somewhere in my early preparations to home school, I concocted two crazy ideas.

First, 1+1=2.
I sacrifice my time, energy, and "freedom" plus God doing His part and blessing our family which of course would equal my kids excelling, going radical for Jesus, and becoming the next Billy Grahams.

Or,
Second, 3 x 0=0.
Take three academically strong, well-adjusted kids multiplied by a poorly disciplined, often ill, inconsistent but well-intentioned mother which would equal prison sentences, skidrow and plenty of unrealized potential.

I didn't realize that I had these ambitions and fears in my heart until the Lord gently brought them to the surface one morning. That soft, piercing voice asked me questions that preferred to hide in the corners of my mind and heart. "What if" kinds of questions.
I didn't like the answers.

In the 1 + 1 scenario, what if I did "my" part but God didn't do His part? What if I didn't do my part, would God still do His? I some how expected God, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, to do my bidding, follow my "formula" for success and let me have a piece of the glory while I'm at it.
There was pride. It was ugly. It had to go.

To my small brain, that only left 3 x 0=0. What if I took these three incredible kids out of school, totally failed them and ruined their lives. What if I did everything wrong? I didn't even have God in this equation. This idea was wrongly centered on me and my abilities and my efforts. Yuck.

Ah, but there's always more pride isn't there? What if everyone thought I did a terrible job and I was the worst mother ever? What if people said or even thought, "She should have left them in school. They were doing so well you know!" Double yuck.

Isaiah 12:2-3 "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: For the Lord is my strength and song [praise]. And He has become my salvation. Therefore, you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation."

Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, And the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, And there be no cattle in the stalls; Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places.

The Lord showed me that by His strength I would be trampling down the "high places" in my life. Those pagan altars of things I worship in place of Him. There are physical things like a home or gadget that I make more important than they are. But often the "idols" are less tangible but just as real. I mistakenly place above my relationship with God things like success, my children's "grades" or the ever popular: people's opinion of me and my family.

I needed to surrender to Him before I knew how it would all turn out.

He had to show me that home schooling our children was not a guarantee that my children will not rebel. He is a gentleman. Everyone must choose to follow Him.
He had to show me that home schooling our children was not a guarantee of "worldly" success, i.e. straight A's, perfect test scores, or high SATs.

He had to make sure I understood that even if I don't see any fruit of my efforts, I can and should take comfort that I was obedient and the Lord is still worthy to be praised.

He had to encourage me to Philippians 3:8 it- Consider it all rubbish that I gain Christ. Home schooling requires me to be on my knees in prayer.
A LOT. I have seen His faithfulness.

He reminded me of the:

Reality of the cross- my life is not my own but to be lived as part of the body in order to do the will of the Head which is Jesus.

Reason I home school or do any other activity, needs to be God directed. Home schooling isn't a formula to a blessed life or great kids.

He reminded me to:

Request-Ask the Lord to show me, "What are my high places?"


Repent of the things I put above Him.


Release the outcome to Him. I can only do my part. I can't do my husband or children's parts.


Receive the grace that He offers to me and my family.

He reminded me of my:

Responsibility- first and foremost to love the Lord with all my mind, heart, soul and strength. So that my
Response is to T.O.P.-Trust, Obey, and Pray

I am a mom. Like every mom I know, I want to see my kids do well. I don't know how my story ends much less theirs. So I have to trust Jesus. I hope their academics are strong. But more importantly I hope their character is strong. I hope they love the Lord and each other and other people. I hope they have an amazing life filled with fruitful work.

But as much as I want those things for my kids, the bottom line is: I am educating them at home because this is what the Lord has called me to do.

I don't do it perfectly.

I can't.

But God can and does do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."  He takes our meager offerings of faith, time, energy and effort and He does bless it. Not because we earned it but because He is a loving, generous, gracious God.

At the end of each day and at the end of each lifetime, it's just us and God. May we live for that moment when we will be face to face knowing it's His grace that gets us there.




Friday, January 14, 2011

Taking Heed To The Ministry

(This is an edited transcription of a Pause and Ponder from Sept. 23rd, 10. I felt like I needed to post it here in written form. I hope it blesses whomever it was for.  I hope it gives some balance to yesterday's post about computer use, etc...)

Taking Heed To The Ministry

Colossians 4:17 And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

I ran across this verse the day other and it stopped me my tracks.  It felt like I was running along and ran straight into a wall.  It might as well have said, “And say to Lainie, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord that you may fulfill it.”

I have a lot of varied interests. I love to knit and to sew. I love to cook, bake, and to spend time with my family. I love blogging and all those things.  But, all those things require a certain amount of time, energy, concentration, and devotion.  But I never want to neglect the important things, the good works that the Lord has laid up for me, the ministry He has given to me.

I love that this verse says, “To take heed to the ministry,”  That phrase, “To take heed,” means to really discern and ascertain, “What is it that the Lord would have me do?”  I know that being married and having children that they are my primary ministry after my ministry to the Lord—to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself.

But the question will often run through my mind, “How do I find balance doing the things that I enjoy doing and feel are good works with the time with your family and making sure that needs are met?”  I find that I really need to discern the ministry which I have personally received from the Lord, and not looking at or desiring the ministry that someone else has received from the Lord.

I realized that although there are many things that I enjoy spending my time doing, there are the two roles that the Lord has given to me, that at this moment in time, only I can fulfill.  There are other knitters and people that create patterns.  There are other sewers that are incredibly skilled.  There are people that blog, write, and speak and do devotionals, etc…  There are so many wonderful, gifted bible teachers out there.  If I stopped doing these… hobbies, I guess that would be the best word, there is an abundance of resources out there to minister to people.  But, if I stopped living my life as a wife to my husband, who will fulfill my role?

Unfortunately in our society, a lot of men and women are unsatisfied in their relationships and they’ll try to find someone to fill the role of their spouse when they think their spouse is “failing” them.  And, what about my children?  If I am not ministering to my children, who will?  Unfortunately, there is a ready replacement for that as well.  The culture around us no longer reinforces God’s commandments that children should respect their parents and give them honor.  The culture doesn’t encourage them to walk in godliness, but instead to be self-seeking, self-serving, and to satisfy the desires of their flesh.  I realized that when I don’t fulfill the actual ministry that the Lord has given me, I leave a lot of people vulnerable (including myself) to stumble into sin and transgress against God Himself.  By me fulfilling my part, which isn’t me just filling a “job position” that God has open, instead, there are relationships that are bound together, and we are all wrapped around Jesus Christ, but in these relationships, we are all dependent on one another to help fulfill our calling which is holiness, godliness, and to give Him glory.

And that when I neglect the greater things, when I neglect the tending to the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of my family, I leave them in a vulnerable place because they have a lack and it will get filled with something.  It’s merely a question of is that something good and something from the Lord or is it something that will harm them, harm our family, and harm our society as a greater whole?  I need to remember the work the Lord has for me. In Ephesians 2:10 it says, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

He has every situation and detail lined up and that as I walk and fulfill those things, I am fulfilling His will.  But, when I neglect those things I am leaving vulnerabilities, something akin to a cracks in a foundation or a sidewalk.  What happens when someone walks on a sidewalk that isn’t smooth and intact but instead has cracks in it?  People stumble and fall.

So I’ve been asking God to help me heed, really discern what it is that He has for me and not miss the opportunity He gives to me to walk in the good works that He has laid before me so I can do my part (in faith, by His strength, and by the power of the blood of Christ) in His body and His kingdom so that I might be a reflection of Him and His obedience, as He was obedient, to the point of death, to the Father to fulfill the ministry that God gave Him, which sets me free.  I know have the freedom, the liberty to choose to walk in the Lord’s will in my life.  I can choose to not use my liberty to gratify the desires of my flesh, the things that I want to do or feel like doing, but to truly care for my family and the people around me, in love.






Thursday, January 13, 2011

So, Let's Talk About The Computer, Shall We?

There is a certain "flavor" of concern going through the blogosphere... Facebookville... internet.

The Flavor?  Balance.

It seems everyone is struggling to find balance with their computer use.

I seem to be reading a lot of 'To Facebook or not to Facebook'? 'To blog or not to blog'?
And the big conclusion seems to be...

"I must give up being on the computer because it is affecting how I serve my family... my children."

And to that conclusion, I cry out a great, big,

"Whoa."

Now, keep in mind, this post is directed at Believers-- those that have accepted, by faith, the gift of salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ through the work that He did on the Cross AND have been baptized by the Holy Spirit (and desire to live in obedience to the Spirit-- for your good and God's glory).

Okay, resuming post...

Since when do we "serve" our families? Husbands? Children?

I serve God.

By serving God, I, in service to Him, care for my family, my husband, my children.

But they are not my Master.

I'm with James, who wrote, "James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ..."

Can computer use get out of hand?  Absolutely!

It gets out of hand when I "serve" the god (little 'g') of the internet.

But realize this: Anything,

any.

thing.

or any person,

can become an idol... even our own families.

How do we know we are serving something or someone rather than serving God?

Walking moment by moment each day, led by the Spirit of God, should be marked by a few things.
(This isn't even close to being an exhaustive list, but you'll get the general idea.)

God will never lead us to do something that He forbids or warns against in His Word.

So, how will we know?  Our life, as a confessing believer, should be marked by the careful reading, studying, and practicing (not just a hearer, but a doer) of the Word of God.  If we do not know, for ourselves, what the Word of God says, how will we not be led astray?

The Holy Spirit will convict (not condemn) our hearts when we think or act of anything that isn't of God, that isn't "good, right, and true."

Our life should be marked with peace.

The decisions we make should be by the counsel of God and in submission to His will-- not above our own will, but replacing our will.  Like Jesus, our will should be to do the will of the Father.

How do we know His will isn't preeminent in our life?  We will say things like, "I should be..., I could never..., etc..."

God freely gives wisdom. In Him, we have power.

Wisdom to do our desire and power to carry out sin? No.

Wisdom to discern His will and power to carry it out.


God speaks... we do respond.  We either respond in obedience or we respond in disobedience (no matter how aggressive or passive it looks)-- there is no in between.


How We Do What We Do Will Reflect His Nature

God describes Himself as merciful, long-suffering, abounding in lovingkindness.

Jesus says He is gentle and meek.

The Apostles exhort us to clothe ourselves..

 to "put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;"


When we are living in the very center of God's will, we practice being clothed with these beautiful garments.

And garments of praise...

And of thanksgiving.

How will we know we probably aren't in the center of His will?
When we haven't chosen to  "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:" 


His desire for us? "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."




Now before we all go sulky off thinking we are terrible people (is it just me that tends to swing in extremes??), any hoo, don't forget God's description:


Merciful


Longsuffering


Abounding in lovingkindness


He is faithful to complete the work He started-- conforming us to the image of His Son.


When we are wayward and not where we should be, God isn't "mad at us" and breathing heavy breaths and muttering (like we sometimes do when our children disobey).


He is the Good Shepherd. He gently leads us back to where we should be.


When I start spending too much time on the computer and it stops being a tool and becomes my taskmaster, funny thing, I can't get an internet connection.  Very "randomly" it just stops.  I have learned over the past two years, this is the gentle way God gets my attention.


However, when I don't respond to the gentle correction, sitting at the computer makes my neck hurt and my fingers tingle.  Oops.  I can look back and see that He has been trying to get my attention.


I confess. I repent. I go on a computer fast to break the habit. I sit at His feet and let Him lead me.




So, what is my point?  I guess my point is this: that each of us need to be led (and chose to follow) the leading of God in every area and especially this area of computer use.


Just because there are some bloggers that have closed comments doesn't mean that yours needs to be closed.  


However, if you "live" for comments and are elated with many and crushed by none, then perhaps you will feel a gentle tap on your spirit to close them and practice letting your work be done, in faithfulness, to God alone.


There are bloggers that struggle with commenting back.  Are you worried what "they" will think of you in your silence?  Perhaps the Lord will direct you to leave comments open so you can practice responding to the comments He leads you to and letting go of a misplaced sense of responsibility for the rest.  




Want to know the funny thing about this "comment" thing?  On my Pause and Ponder site, I have enabled the "comments" field.  I have checked and re-checked.  I know my way around Blogger like the back of my hand.  Yet, when on the "Home" page, the comments field isn't visible.  It shows up in any individual post, but even then, it's not obvious.


God knows, and He is faithful, to guard my little approval-seeking heart.


He is gently, yet purposefully, leading me to follow Him in faith, regardless if I receive human affirmation or not.


Why?  Because He knows that when I trust or hope in people I will be disappointed.  Disappointment easily becomes irritation and irritation, well, let's just say it doesn't lead to love.


God wants me to grow in love for the people that He loves so very, very much.


I took myself off Facebook for a season, because it was a stumbling block for me.  I found myself being irritated and judgmental of people... simple sinners like myself.


In my time away, I asked Him to do a work in my heart... make it more like His.


I keep my newsfeed list very small.  I only see the posts of those that encourage me,  make me laugh, or share useful information.  But, I don't "Un-Friend" those that think differently or live differently.  I hope and I pray that my life, should they choose to read about it, will see a glimmer of His life in me and be drawn to Him.


I blog when I can about what I can... by His leading and with His counsel.


Is the majority of my time spent taking care of the family God has given me?  Yes.


Are there times, however, when He leads me to minister to someone through an email and my children have to wait?  Yes.


Yes, but it isn't very often and it is always bathed with peace.  I can peacefully and honestly say that I am tending to something important and that I will be with them shortly.


When I am serving the "computer" and my flesh and I'm out of line, an "interruption" by my children is met with a grumbled, grouchy, "What?"


Then, I am convicted... not condemned.


I am reminded...



For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; 
only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, 
but through love serve one another.



I practice once more walking by His leading, taking His hands, marked permanently by His love and forgiveness, and allowing Him to lead me... 


in Him, 


for Him, 


through Him, 


and towards Him.


Lord,
I pray for myself and all my sisters that we would hear Your voice and allow You to lead us.  Give us wisdom in all things and grow us in Your love.  Thank You for not leaving us to "try and find balance" in our own effort, strength, and mind.  Thank You that You instead led us and simply ask us to follow You.  May we do us in humbleness of heart and, by faith, covered by Your blood.


Amen.





Friday, January 7, 2011

Ransom Note

{written in a very Bronx-y accent}


Ta whum it maaayyy conswern,

We've abducked your little Mishmash Maggie, der.  Yeah, and we's got demands before we release her back to this here blogosphere, see?

Fouist, we need us some Auntie Biotics, okay?  Strong ones like.

Then, we need us cough medicine with narcotics, get it?  Sleepin' with the fishes, that's what we like.

We's apprecimanate the friends coming by with flowers, bread, and soups.  Yeah, thems were mighty tasty.

Oh yeah, and dat card sent by dat sweet lil' Texan-soon-to-be-a temporary Guam Island kinda gal, dat, well now, dat was somethin' precious.  We loves that Hoops and Yo-yo.  Although we was laughing kinda hard and makin' that Mishmash Maggie cough some mores. But she got over it.

Now, we knows lots of y'alls have been makin' nice comments like, on her Facebook page and all.  But, we're not keepin' her from being on Wastebook, cuz you know, it don't take no brain cells to be on der.

We need one more thing before we release back to the blogosphere, see?  Cuzin' it takes more effort to actually write stuff down and have it, y'know, make sense.

So what do we need?  What is our demands?

Well now, there's dat book she's been readin' lots of since she can't do nuthin' else (like cleaning her house).  Anyways, there's this verse in der that says,

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: 
but a broken spirit drieth the bones.


She got some of them there test results back and it looks like her bones is a little dried up.  Not too bad, mind ya, just a little... eh, thin, you might say.  Which makes her laugh til she's coughin' a something fierce because nobody's used her name and "thin" in the same sentence for years!

But, we digress (fancy-schmancy word, huh?)  what we need is a little "merry making."

You know, jokes, funny stories, something encouraging that you could, ya know, leave in them there comment sections.

So what does you say?  Even a smiley face will do, y'know, if you is tied to chair dangling from a bridge and can't really type somethin' long-ish.

Signed,

Vinny "Kick you while you're down" the Virus and Benny "Beat your ribs outta place" the Bacteria





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