Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ow!

My boys are playing kid pitch baseball this year for the first time. Last year the machine pitched to them and it was the same speed, and went to the same place every time...so they had the timing down. They could truly hit the ball well.

This year, it's a different story. These little pitchers are amazing. They get up there and do their wind up and get that ball in there. Well, most of the time. Okay - at least 50% of the time. There are the wild pitches and some of them come right at the poor batters head, or arm or back or groin (they have to wear cups this year)....and it hurts.

It has caused a bit of fear to come into the game. There are those that seem to be naturally able to handle pain and they get right up in the batters box and deal. They don't get hit that much apparently. One of the twins is like that. J. gets up there and he hits the ball...seemingly fearless. I can't remember if he has been hit by the ball yet or not...that makes me think he hasn't - since, surely I would remember.

S. has been hit a record number of times. The most on our team. I am full of fear myself when he gets up to bat...and I am not the one in harms way. He has developed a fear that keeps him from wanting to be in the game at all. He will claim a headache, or a sore throat or a stomach ache, trying to avoid hitting. We have put our foot down (and it makes me sad) and told him he is on the team and he needs to overcome his fear...but doggone it - the next time he gets up there he gets pegged again.

But let me tell you about bravery. He gets up to bat and sure enough one is flung in there and hits him on the shoulder then glances off his shoulder and hits him in the chin - right in between the chin strap and the face mask. He goes down in a heap. Coach runs over, picks him up checks him out, encourages him and my little man gets on base and manages to steal two and slide home. Then next bat gets up there and swings the bat, and hits the ball. Wow. The common thing after you get pegged is to pray for a walk. So most of the kids that are scared of the ball stand there and watch it go by. So for S to get in there and swing - well...it is a small victory in and of itself.



Next game. He gets up to bat and WHAM! Right in the same place as the previous game...thankfully this time it did not hit his face...but it smacked the already bruised and sore part of his arm - he goes down. Coach again runs over, picks him up, encourages him and he goes to first and manages to bring it home. I am sure his next time up to bat that he is going to watch the ball go by praying for that walk. But no, my brave boy gets up in the batters box and swings away. Hits a pop fly to the second baseman....but to my eyes it was a home run...a small victory for my sweet boy. I could not have been more proud.

My eyes are full of tears as I write this. My little boy is not loving baseball right now. He loves the game but it has been hard for him lately. His fear almost consumes him sometimes. But with encouragement from his Dad and me and from his coaches he manages to pull it together and succeed. What a beautiful picture.


I see that God has given us this same thing. We live a life of fear at times. We struggle through countless difficult situations. And it makes us scared. What next? How will I manage? I don't think I can go through this again. I am sure you have thought of these things at least once.

Hebrews 10:25

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The fellowship of believers...yes Church on Sunday - this allows us to be encouraged. To hear the Word and be encouraged at how we all struggle. How we find victory and success and can bear each others burdens.

Isaiah 43:1-3
1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.

I encourage you to fight your fear through prayer, through the Word, through accountability in the Church on Sunday mornings and finding a friend who is willing to come along side of you...no matter how boring you feel your fear is to them...and get in the batters box for pete's sake! Swing away! Keep living the life you have been given. The hard things we deal with do make us better, they create depth and empathy and such great character. They make us more like our heavenly Father. And this is, afterall, one of our true rewards.

Do Not Fear.



Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sloth

Isn't that an ugly word? Sloth. It sounds bad. Disinclination to to action or labor; spiritual apathy or inactivity. That is what the definition of this word is. Yikes. And I daresay that one can spill over and cause the other. I hate that word. And I have done my best not to attach it to myself. But I fear that I am slothful. It makes my stomach flip to SEE that written out.

Proverbs 19
14 House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.


I do believe my present struggle with my house is slothfulness. It is possible that I have been spiritually apathetic and that it has infected other areas of my life. I can see this happening. And I believe it is a very real danger and one that is hard to recover from once you have allowed yourself to lapse into it.

But there are ways to avoid it. We can be vigilant to guard our hearts and homes from this nasty thing.

Hebrews 6:12

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Through accountability, staying in the Word of God, and through diligence to guard yourself from slipping into it. Ask God for spiritual perception and conviction for when you feel you are falling into that pattern of slothfulness. I do believe that Moms - especially stay at home Moms have a tendency to be more susceptible to this.

The reason is our jobs are pretty much all things that get undone...and they get undone pretty quickly. Making the bed, washing the dishes, vacuuming the floors, cleaning the bathroom...you do it, ten minutes later someone has missed the toilet or spilled all over what was sparkly clean. It is wearing and it is unending. This can cause us to lose heart. Then we seek escape and many times we seek escape into what is easiest. Facebook or television. It is my weakness. Anything to turn off the thoughts that cause us to feel hopeless.

The problem here is not with Facebook (computer time in general) or the television. It is in managing that time. There are only so many hours in a day. Giving yourself 30 minutes to watch a television show you enjoy, or to play on the computer is not a problem. It is when you put the kids on the bus and proceed to stay there in front of the computer or television all day (yes, shamefully enough I have done this). Then you are cranky when the kids come home because you haven't accomplished what you should and you find yourself throwing up excuses to your husband as to why they house is not in better shape, then you have guilt, rationalization and the next day you find yourself doing it all over again to escape your frustrations. It is a bad cycle and Satan loves it. He is gleeful when we find ourselves caught in it.

Identify your problem then proceed to take back control of your time. Give it to God. Do whatever helps you accomplish what you need to. Find ways to get your children to help in the processes of keeping your house clean. Make a list, whether mental or on paper ( a must for me - my mental doesn't work so well) and ask God to help you accomplish what you need to and not worry about the rest. Pray for diligence and self-contol not to give in to the desire to throw up your hands and become lost in the attractive mindless calling of the television or computer.

Proverbs 31

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.


Philippians 4:6-8

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We have been given what we need to succeed at our jobs. And being a Mom and housewife is a noble job...as difficult as it is, it can be done. But it is important that we call upon the Lord and guard our hearts. Once we have fallen into bad habits, it is hard to get out of them...so when you feel yourself slipping, find a friend, ask for prayer, go to the Word, look for encouragement - you will find the help you need. It is a precious promise.

God bless you Moms. You (We) can do it!

Love,
Your Official Cheering Section

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Whew! Sports are Good Character Builders


I know many Moms are sports moms. You carry your child to practices and to games and you do your best to teach them to be good sports, to play with all their hearts and to be part of a team. It is great for them. They learn so much!

But let me just say that I am the one who is getting the education. There have been many times this year that I have had to ask God to guard my mouth and to make me gracious. It has been one of the hardest things to be happy when we have gotten the pants beaten off of us. It is so good for me! But it is so hard. During the game I am asking God to help them, help them, HELP THEM! But when the ball is popped up and it's the last out and we are one run down...I feel major disappointment...then I feel my pride prickling and have to start asking God to help me, help me, HELP ME.

The only thing that I can say is that I am so thankful that God has been so good to help me see my need for him in the midst of all of these games. He has given me kind words and genuine enjoyment of games even when we have lost. This is a major milestone for me.

The fact is, I want my boys to be having fun playing the game. I want them to be kind, and generous of heart and encouraging even in the midst of losing - and if I can't be that, then what hope have I of them being that way.

Galatians 5:22-24

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

2 Peter 1:5-7

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;

6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

I love that I am placed in situations that will work these things out in me. Goodness knows I do not have them on my own. But being put in situations where I have to rely on God to bring these out in me is good practice - and practicing these wonderful traits are good for me, they are good for my children to see in me and their Daddy.


I am thankful - I know character is hard to come by. But thank the Lord he cares enough to work it out in me and my children.

Here's a new possibility

One of the babies at work loves nap mats. She did not have one. But every morning she would get out someone elses mat and roll it up and roll it out, place her little doggy lovingly in it and cover it up. Then roll it back up and out again. In passing I said it would not be hard to make and I offered to make it. I do this sometimes...before I think things through. I did it with french braiding too...I told my cousin I could do it - even though I had never done it before, then I proceeded to do it. It is bizarre...but there it is...I kind of KNOW how to do it - sort of - kind of - well there are a few detours and sometimes it turns out okay....this is one of those times.

I went and bought the cutest pink material with big brown polka dots. Then I picked out the softest brown fleece. I moved over to the ribbon and found pink and brown striped grosgrain and then found the batting to fill it -thick soft stuff that would be comfortable and wear well.

Then one day I decided to grab the bull by the horns. That would be this past Sunday afternoon. I had tried a couple of times before but ended up tearing out seams and being just not very motivated. But Sunday - well - it was all there, clarity of thought, desire to do it and the time. I only had to redirect myself a few times before I finally came up with this:






























I was quite pleased. Come to find out people pay up to and maybe at times more than $60 for these little mats. wow.

Maybe this is what I can do.

I am always amazed at how God blesses the efforts to serve others. Even in such a small thing as helping little A. in getting her own nap mat. It was a huge encouragement for me...to see how God gave me the insite to be able to make it. But also to see her happy and rollng and unrolling her new nap mat. I have two orders already. God is SO very, very good!

Ephesians 3:19-21

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh, These Techno-Time-Wasters

Our Pastor said something yesterday that has my mind coming back to it over and over again. He was talking about Daniel and how faithful he was to fast and pray. And that in these days fasting may very well take on a different form. Fasting from T.V., fasting from the computer, those are probably the two main ones. They are my "keep me from thinking" tools, and when I get overwhelmed I go to them....a lot.

It has been a long time since I have been able to peg exactly what it is I want to do that sounds like fun to me. Nothing really pings these days. It could be depression, it could be being too busy, I lean toward the depression thing. As I have said before - it seems to leave my world a washed out, useless place to be some days. It is a constant battle, and whether it is from chemical issues or whether it is physical - either way it is a spiritual battle for me. I have learned to push through it and do what I can. I am always happier when I have put aside that seeming inability to get happy about things and do it anyway. But I have dropped the housework. This won't work. Must find a way to do both my little projects and the housework.

But listening to my pastor yesterday it occurred to me that he was right. I do need to be praying more...turning off my brain less. You would think that was a given. But escaping my thoughts is sometimes just survival mode. Praying should be my survival mode. I have turned to something that probably just exacerbates the situation instead of giving me strength and helping me look past myself to other needs.

There are things that I would like to do. I want to sit in the window seat of my living room and drink tea and read and pray. I want to work on my scripture memory bracelets. I want to start my soup nights up and keep them going. I want to have people over to my house and hear what they are up to. So many things that sound like fun to me...but I have bogged down in the techno-time-wasters.

So...today - I am fasting and praying. I am keeping the television off and I will be avoiding the computer. I pray that it will be the beginning of changes that will ripple out and touch others as well. I want to be an active well-loved daughter of God and not a passive one.

Jude 1

20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Work in Progress

I am out of a job in three weeks (less than three technically). So, I am trying to get something in place for the fall. I have tried to find something at a couple of schools. BUT - I cannot tell you how my heart longs for Pajama Mama to take off...in some way - some form. I am looking for flexibility and decent money. My friend Susan and I have talked about starting to clean houses together. If we could get a couple three days a week - well...it might make it worth my while.

And as you can see, I have revamped the old blog. Trying desperately to give myself a shot in the arm. I have passed on the book for now. I am in the process of seeking to find a better place for the whole package. There are so many things I want to do with this idea. Work for stay at home moms, encouragement, and enough money to allow us to do some of our other ministry ideas...not to mention college for the kids. Is that too much to ask?

Ephesians 3:

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Paul is encouraging the Ephesians in the Lord and in those last few verses he is telling them to expect more than they can ask or imagine. The Lord blesses above and beyond spiritually. And he takes care of our physical needs as well.

I do believe that my desire to help myself and other mom's find a way to be able to work flexible hours out of the home while caring for their children is a solid goal. I believe that encouraging other mom's like me is actually one of my callings. I feel this whole endeavor is well worth the effort so I will continue on in my dream...my longing to see it succeed. The money to send my children to college, and to see that money overflow into other ministries is my vision.

It is so like me...I am a work in progress as well. There are days where I feel I have a handle on it all and that I am soaring and moving forward as I should. Then somehow, I get snagged on something and lose momentum and plummet. It is, I know, a recurring theme in my life. I expect it is for most moms. But, I know this:

Philippians 2:13,14

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing,

and this:

Philippians 1: 5,6

5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


So I will keep on trying...I will not give up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Not Everybody is a Soccer Mom

Wow. I have a high standard placed before me in some of these moms I see. They do everything. I was sitting next to a woman at the ball-park yesterday and she said, "I have to get my 4 year old over to the other field then my 13 year old to soccer. I will be back a little late to pick up Bobby, are you going to be here?" "I can wait for you", I said and then proceeded to hear how much they have going on. How constant it is. I am amazed. And she said she THRIVES on it. Wow.......Wow.

Her metabolism must be flying all the time. She has energy to burn and I am sitting there with my crawling metabolism thinking, "How?" How does she do it? I am amazed at these self motivated women who seem to go from dawn until dusk at the speed of light - and enjoy it. Some people are like that.

I - am not.

I like to consider myself, as you well know, a Pajama Mama. I like a laid back pace. The furious scurrying around that I see all around me just seems to make me angry. I holler when under pressure and I don't like to holler. It is a waste of my energy. And my kids quit listening to me when I get like that. I see the shades go down on the eyes and the invisible ear plugs come out when I start the whole screaming thing. It is not conducive to getting them to do squat.

And I guess my other question is - is this a soccer mom's own doing or does she feel compelled by society to have her kids up to their eyeballs in stuff? There is where I feel the problem is. But there is certainly a tension there. The balance between having my child ready to live well in this world and overexposing them to death because we feel pressure to have them be all they can be. Where is that line and how can I find it?

I certainly don't want my children to lack for anything. But there has to be a line drawn
somewhere - if for no other reason than my own sanity.

Psalm 37:4-6
4 Delight yourself in the LORD

and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.


ahhhhh....soothing - that is some good stuff. My job number one - is - to DELIGHT myself in the Lord.

He will give me the desires of my heart - does this mean I will be a svelte middle aged soccer mom able to leap buildings in a single bound? No...not at all..though many times in my worldly thought processes I wish that is what it meant. It means that God will give me the desires that I need to pursue and will make me successful in doing his will. Well...I don't care what anybody says, that is exciting.

I am to commit my way to the Lord and trust in him and he will make my righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice of my cause, like the noon day sun. My cause being the reason I exist? To glorify him? To glorify him through submitting to my husband and raising my children in the way of the Lord.

Proverbs 3:5,6
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.

There is one thing I can trust in - and that is the Lord. And if I am trusting in him, and searching his face and heart daily - then I can trust that he will give me the understanding to be where and what I need to be for my children. And he will give me the ability to do it. There is no way I can be sure unless I understand that.

No, I am no soccer mom - but being a self proclaimed pajama mama is no crowning achievement either. My hope lies in trusting in my Lord and Savior and clinging to his Word for all I am worth.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Well, No Wonder

I am not a perfectionist. I am not a slave to my conscience either. I am not obsessive compulsive. I am. I exist. I do. For others. And that is not as altruistic as it sounds.

What am I talking about? I have realized lately that my people pleasing has become ridiculous. I do believe that it is what has made me start emotional eating. I do believe it started when I was a wee child and that if I don't get my mind straight about it that I will weigh 400lbs before long.

For some reason I have noticed that if someone says it, I feel compelled to do it. It is not my conscience, it is not my own conviction, it is to please that person. I do it with my husband all the time. He says, " I would like to see this bathroom look a little more adult for guests one day". I decide he meant tomorrow, so I take down all the ducks and sand and repaint and a couple of weeks later we have a nice bathroom - good enough for guests. This is not an issue with my husband - this is an issue with me. When someone says it, I feel compelled to do it. But I am seeking something and it is not truly to make them happy. On the surface it may seem that way...but there is something much more deep and sinful driving it.

I remember doing it with my parents as well. My mindset was, "If my parents are happy, then all is right with the world". The problem with that is that I would hide things from them...because I did not want to disappoint. I would do my best to please them and as long as they were happy I was happy. There was a lot of sneaking about being done, because I did not want to dissappoint - I hid a report card one time, tried to forge it, I lied about where friends took me sometimes...this is not good. I know that now. Actually - I knew it then, the need to keep them happy was so huge that I squelched my conscience and rationalized my wrong behavior. Of course I got caught. But my thinking was so skewed, I just did my best to avoid actually giving correct information as long as possible.

What I failed to factor in is whether it was pleasing to God or not. Maybe I am the only one who operates under the people pleasing premise. It seems to me that it was not something I said out loud or really understood I was doing...it was this underlying feeling that I had. Now, I do things because I want people to be happy with ME. I want them to think well of ME. I want them to be amazed and so thankful for ME. Narcissism. Closet Narcissism. It is disguised as doing for others but it is done to make myself happy. To make me necessary. To lift me up. Nauseating. Really, when you think about it, it is.

What I need to do is rewire this brain...and actually it wouldn't be me that does it. I am calling on the Holy Spirit to change my mindset. To place my longings instead of serving myself to serving and please my Heavenly Father. And by putting my sights on things above (as I have been talking about so much lately - see Colossians 3) that God would allow the things I need to do to truly serve others well, filter through his hands - so that I am not so overwhelmed. I also need to run to HIM when I am overwhelmed and not the refrigerator.

It is ever so much simpler than I make it out to be. When I read scripture and see how far short I fall...I am so discouraged and overwhelmed by what I have to do to get myself to that place. But there again, I am working on the notion that it is me who will have to do it -and that is impossible. I cannot be this person I want to be, the person I see in scripture. What I can be is a well-loved daughter of Christ. I can set my mind on my Father daily, and I can take each day as it comes with the promise that he will meet my needs and enable me to do whatever it is he would have me do.

2Corinthians 9:8
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Timothy 1:6-8
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

These are things he has been revealing to me over the last few days. I have all I need...I can do his will....I just have walk carefully so that I do not blur the lines...Praying, reading Scripture - everyday - is how I can walk rightly. I am obviously a hard-headed, well loved daughter of Christ....though it may be simple in theory it is so very hard for me to do!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Silence is Golden

Look at what I just read:

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.
Charlotte Bronte

Oh my....silence is not one of my more prominent attributes. I am one of those people that if it is in my head, it's out of my mouth. This is not who I want to be. It just is what it is. And I struggle - mightily with it. Because it is just like so many things - I try to defend it and then in the light of God's Word - can't. Oh goodness, so many of my natural attributes seem to be things I have to change. Is it just me? I also think out loud. I like to talk it out....which is unfortunate for whoever finds themselves around me when I am thinking. Oh me. Again.

1 Thessalonians 4:11
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you


Proverbs 31
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,

and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

When I am discouraged by my own "pet" faults - "pet" meaning things I am constantly making excuses for that I should be working on diligently - but instead make excuses for. I need something to go to for encouragement. Something that will help me be strong and see my faults for what they are and to weed them out.

2 Timothy 1:6-8
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.


I have a spirit of power, of love and of SELF-DISCIPLINE. This has to help so many of us that struggle with any number of things. I need this tatooed on my hand to be sure. It is not so much that talking is a bad thing. It ridding my mind of the things that don't matter and only allowing the larger truths - that are more valuable to remain and to be shared at the appropriate moment. I am not saying that I have to crack down on myself to the point where I am obsessed with my talking - but I do want to practice the self-discipline that has been given to me by my Heavenly Father.

I am still thinking this one through. I will have to get back with you if I ever come to a conclusion!

Is This Really Worship?

I truly got up this morning exhausted. My 42 year old bones were screaming at me to stay in the bed. But it is a day of worship and we will get there, one way or another. I just wish it wasn't always so hard. So I roll out of bed slowly and trudge downstairs. Kiss the boys that are up and turn the lights on, wonder what we are going to eat, hear my husband ask if he has a dress shirt ready (NO), wonder where I put the khaki pants that were on top of that pile of laundry in the den (I DON'T KNOW) - all while making coffee.

Breakfast somehow gets made and eaten, clothes are donned, everyone is clean if not wrinkle free and I am the one left upstairs trying madly to get dressed. I get in the car huffy. Not pleased. My mind is SO not set on things above. So much to confess before I take Communion. Ugh...

Sundays are hard days for me. Especially now in the middle of baseball season. We were at the park 6 1/2 hours yesterday. I didn't have the gumption to iron everything and get it all ready on Saturday. But quite honestly, it doesn't seem to matter how prepared I am - something always seems to happen to knock my attitude askew on Sunday mornings. How can I prevent this?

Deep breathing exercises? Yoga? Ha...kidding. I do need to find a way to keep that attitude appropriate. It is not a good example to be so sour on my way to church every Sunday. Something must be done.

Our children's minister said to me one time that Sunday mornings is spiritual warfare for parents. Satan doesn't want us to receive a blessing at church. He would love nothing more than for me to be sitting in the middle of wiggly children fuming over how hard my life is and how I can't focus because my children cannot find a comfortable position, or manage to drop their pen, then their Bible and poke me in the eye while trying to get little arms around my neck. But I bet it is difficult for most people, it's not just me - I hope. Whether we have kids or not...Satan can find anything for us to be focused on rather than worship.

So...how do we thwart his plan?

Colossians 3
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.


How do I do this? How do I not sweat the small stuff that is of this world? How do I put all these things to death? It overwhelms me just to think about it. Because of course - just like my housework - I want to do it ALL RIGHT NOW! No wonder I'm overwhelmed...

Colossians 3
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


It looks like I am going to have to physically shake myself out of my funk. On Sunday mornings I am going to have to be intentional about getting up and "letting the peace of Christ rule within me". I will count my blessings. I will sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. I will proactively seek the face of God on Sunday mornings...doing my best to deal with whatever "fiery darts" Satan throws at me. I guess I will have to pull out the big guns and zing him with a verse or two.

Being prepared to fight the good fight is probably half the battle. And everything gets easier with practice...I will just practice my faith each Sunday, trusting that in time, it WILL become my first nature...NOT my second nature.

Afterall...I have what I need.

2 Corinthians 9:7-9
7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
9 As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Continuing Argument

I woke up this morning arguing with myself. It has been going on now for a couple of hours. I do my best. I try hard. I work hard. And still I am tired, I am unhappy... I, I, I, I, I. There is another side to my argument - but it is weak and I don't want to listen to it. Lalalalalalala. You know exactly what I am doing.

I - it is such a hang-up for me...myself. When trying to get past myself, it is next to impossible because I have such a vested interest in my own happiness. But I am learning - I hope - I see glimpses of a supremely happier me - but it gets obscured by my worldly wants and needs.

But once again - the Bible has the timeless answer to settle the argument between I and myself.

Colossians 3
Rules for Holy Living

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


When my tendency is to say again to God, " I am doing it right - BLESS ME". His answer to me is. "You have not set your mind on things above, your loves are still here in this world, you are still laboring under your own power toward your own goals. Put your trust in me, not in yourself, find joy in the things you can't see not in earthly things."

Proverbs 3:1-6
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years

and bring you prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;

bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name

in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.

It is a moment by moment turning of my thoughts to Christ.

Matthew 16:24-25
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.


There it is. My reason for giving up my life. I can see that it is tough. Taking up my cross is essentially dying to myself and it is HARD! God give me strength!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hope

I love Spring. It makes my unkept yard beautiful. I love seeing the splaying branches of the dogwoods up front popping with flowers. It is a new beginning after a cold, brown Winter. This gives me a hope. A reprieve from dark days and chilly winds. A hope for warm, sunny days - and I get to be home with the kids.

Hope is a wonderful thing. It can get us through some rough times. When we have a hope of being able to slog through whatever struggle we are going through...we have a spark that encourages us to make it through.

There is such a thing as false hope though.

How do we differentiate between these two things....how do we know a hope is sure?

Romans 8
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

There is no need to hope for what we can already see. We hope for the things that we do not yet have, cannot hold, are unable to obtain in the present. There are many people that promise us wonderful things - money, happiness, friends, confidence if we will just buy this, do this, be this...these promises are everywhere you look. But these things are truly empty things promised by those who are just like the false prophets of the Old Testament.


Jeremiah 23:15-17
15 Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets:

"I will make them eat bitter food
and drink poisoned water,
because from the prophets of Jerusalem
ungodliness has spread throughout the land."
16 This is what the LORD Almighty says:

"Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD.
17 They keep saying to those who despise me,

'The LORD says: You will have peace.'
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
they say, 'No harm will come to you.'

I think we can safely say that God does not want us to listen to the "false prophets" of this age either. He wants us to rely on Him. When we place our hope in things of this world, we are promised to be disappointed. This world is an empty place when our hope is not in the Lord. The secure job, the nice car, the big houses, being able to go on nice vacations...all of these things mean nothing. If our hopes are not securely placed in Christ, they mean nothing.

Romans 5
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. 5And HOPE does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Psalm 25:2-4
2 in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.

3 No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.

4 Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;

Psalm 43:4-5

4 Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God


Put your hope in Christ alone. You will not be disappointed.