Sunday, May 29, 2011

(Unofficial) Summer Days...

Happy Unofficial Beginning of Summer!

May has been very rainy here. Imagine our joy when we saw that fiery orb in the sky yesterday! I was outside all day Saturday playing with beasties. They were happy and dirty. It was a beautiful day even if by dinner time my allergies were going haywire.

This morning the fiery orb was once again shining and it was h-o-t, by my standards anyway. (I am not a southern girl and 80 is too much for me. ;) ) The Husband took the three middles to the park to ride their bikes (a labor of love, let me tell you) and I supervised *I* trying to seriously injure himself riding his big brother's scooter. (Yes, he was wearing a helmet!)

This weekend we were busy being a family. It was fun, mostly. The children were sometimes listening impaired and there was a meltdown or two (and this Mama wanted to have one or two. ;) ). But, we were a good kind of busy. Sunny days are wonderful and have their own blessings. I was able to reprioritize what I did. Instead of completing the tasks I had been planning, I did what I was meant to do in that time, be a Mommy. I chased, kissed boo boos, carried a baby, caught crazy scooter riders before they careened into parked vehicles not our own, blew bubbles, made pizza dough, gave baths, read stories, said prayers, sang "Jesus Loves Me" and kissed little ones good night.

A day like that, like this, is satisfying. Exhausting but satisfying. It is in these normal "Mommy moments" that I most often feel God. It is in this serving, being in the moment with my family that I most need to be focused and am often feeling the most harried. With six kids there is a lot of action and noise so I can get overwhelmed and I have my own plans which the offspring are not always as interested in me fulfilling.

With God's help I can find the peace and focus I need to do and be what I need to do and be in the moments I am given. Each moment is a gift. I can choose to be in them or I can wish and worry them away.

I can enjoy sunny days with little children who won't always be little or I can tolerate them, pointedly looking at my watch and sighing, willing it to end so I can do what I want to do. I don't have to love chasing a wild scooter lover at the risk of my own toes or shins, but I can love the little boy grinning with the pleasure of his own accomplishment which makes me savor the moment.

I pray that we each can find the gift in each moment, even if they aren't spent the way we'd choose.

In the words of the Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need."


Friday, May 27, 2011

How I Spent My Morning

Well, actually it was not even an hour but it definitely felt like the most productive part of the morning.

I made Miss M her first "pillowcase dress". Doesn't she look cute? I am not biased, not even a little bit. ;)

I didn't use a pillowcase, I just picked out fabric I liked. It was really simple to do. Yes, I did use a pattern; Simplicity, I think. The most time consuming part was the pressing for the seams but following the instructions (gasp! You can teach an old dog new tricks!) definitely gives a nice end result. At least I think it is a nice end result.

I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishment, perhaps you might even say I was feeling proud. I set out to do something and I did it. It came out the way it was supposed to and is quite wearable.

It did not take long for the negative self-talk to kick in though. It was only straight seams. It doesn't mean I'll be able to make anything else. What if someone else thinks it's hideous? Yes, it is only straight seams but I have to start somewhere and learning seems to be something I am good at. ;) I am sure that if I take time, follow instructions and try I will be able to make other things. If someone doesn't like it, they don't have to wear it, do they? I chose the colors and patterns because I liked them. They are vibrant like Miss M. They make me smile.

I am thankful for the time to try new things, for the support I receive from the Husband to take risks, for my physical abilities, for friends who encourage me and most of all for a God who created me to be me.

I seem to be something of a broken record of late but...make the time to try new things and see how you can use your gifts in new and different ways. It is fun, rewarding and freeing.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Awake and Listening

I have been reading Awareness by Anthony De Mello. My current professor recommended I read it. It is fascinating. At the beginning he states that he is going to challenge the reader's belief systems and he does.

Reading it is akin to looking at an M.C. Escher print in some ways, in my humble opinion. I get bursts of clarity and understanding but I also feel a bit muddled at times. Challenging? You bet. Humbling? Definitely. A growth opportunity? Absolutely.

Throughout the book De Mello talks about "waking up"; to living in reality, not our perceptions or labels or what we think other people want from us. Imagine living your life not trying to please people or impress them or feel important or special because another person values you? Is that freeing or frightening?

In the midst of these challenges, I picked up my Women's Devotional Bible and randomly opened to Isaiah 30: 15ish and the devotional writer was talking about human busyness and not be still enough to hear God's "still, small voice". We're too busy rushing about handling things and do not let God do His thing.

Hello!!! Busyness is my middle name. Sometimes I think I fill my life with busyness because I am, by De Mello's definition "asleep". I am trying to be good enough, smart enough, witty enough and pleasing to the world at large. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my activities. I just sometimes am also seeking some outside affirmation that I am valued. I am trying to prove myself so I go from this to that like a busy, productive bee and I fear...letting someone down or missing something or dropping a ball or failing my kids or, or, or...

And then I read about stopping to listen for God's "still, small voice"...and I wonder, have I made a mistake? Have I missed God's words in the midst of so much busy, busy, busy? Am I now stuck and in my rushing what kind of mess might I have made?

That is enough to make me want to cry myself back to "sleep" if I indeed might be awakening. Instead, I stopped and I took a breath and I prayed,

"Lord, even when I mess up big time, you can use it for good. Help me to know if I am headed in the right direction, please. If I am on the wrong track, will you make a way clear so that I can get started in a better direction, Your direction."

Praying we all can find our way to the "right" and "awake" direction.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

She Discovers Her Mistake

Last week I shared my battle with the sewing machine. I even read the manual about threading the machine multiple times but I kept getting "bird's nests" (I did some online research ;) ) on the back of the cloth napkins I was lovingly sewing for the fam. In my online research I found a lot of critiques about the bobbin system and some said the machine may not have been properly threaded but I had read the manual!!!

The Husband will tell you I do not read directions. A knitting pattern or a recipe? Yes. Directions about constructing anything? Not so much. If it is not intuitive then I probably will not successfully construct it. (This would be why the Husband gets the privilege of constructing all those Christmas toys. :D) So the fact that I actually read the manual was a huge deal and the fact that I read the blasted thing and it still wasn't working was eating at me.

In my online research I was reminded that a DVD came with the machine so today I finally had the time to watch it and I discovered that the picture in the manual did not show clearly one tension spring which I had missed! I knew it as soon as I watched the video. I couldn't go get the machine because it was in the closet of the room in which Miss M was taking her nap but tonight after the beasties were tucked in, I hauled out the machine and I re-threaded the improperly threaded machine and I. Did. It! I sewed the two napkins that were pinned and pressed in no time!

Problem solved. It took some time and some research and some patience, but I have mastered the machine. (The straight seams, anyway.)

Tomorrow I am going to measure Miss M and cut out that pattern and get started on her dress. When I have time, that is. I have schoolwork and housework and all that jazz, but I know now that this machine and I can work together.

Lessons reaffirmed for me today are:
Don't give up.
Have patience.
When you don't know the answer, keep looking.

- Peace

A Brief Sunday Reflection...

This morning I knelt beside my 11 year-old at the alter rail waiting for communion. I gazed down the row and saw most of my family (3 year-old was playing in the nursery) and my heart swelled with the enormity of my blessings.

Our guest preacher today spoke about how our thoughts can impact our feelings and about following the command to praise God at all times and in that moment, seeing the heads bowed and hands folded, I saw with great clarity exactly how blessed I truly am.

I didn't need to reframe my thoughts to come to that realization....this morning. Mostly, I am very aware of what a blessing my children are, but there are moments in time when they just make me grind my teeth and count to 20 and I think at those times I am not always praising God. Asking for help or patience or a hole to swallow me up so I can escape the embarrassment? Yes. Praising Him? Not always.

This morning, I was enveloped by that attitude of gratitude and my heart overflowed with thankfulness and praise. My goal is to remember that attitude of gratitude and to employ it at times when it's not as easy, like the toy aisles of Target or when they fight talk during worship.

Wishing you a wonderful day.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Goin' to the Movies...

Last night I went to the movies for the first time in over 6 years. Can you believe it? I am not really a movie person, per se and I am content to wait for them to be out on DVD. A group of us went to see "Bridesmaids" as part of a Mom's Night Out.

I read two reviews, one that called it a raunchy chick flick and another that complained that it had not lived up to the raunchy rumors. As I already mentioned, I am not a movie aficionado, but I can honestly say, I doubt I have seen anything much more graphic. Okay, maybe once. If you're offended by sexual situations or cursing, this is not the movie for you.

We all laughed a lot. There were some seriously funny moments. Really. But I also felt the sting of tears in my eyes more than once. There were pieces of the main character that I could identify with, her insecurity and self-destructive choices, for instance. (Can I emphasize the word pieces, because if you've seen the movie, you're wondering things that I can say (thankfully) not those things.)

I felt frustrated and audibly sighed when I saw her repeating self-destructive patterns and I cheered inside when she found her spark.

At it's most basic, the movie was about relationships. Some are healthy, some are most certainly not. Some build us up and some kick us in the shins over and over and over again. The women I was out with last evening are builders, not kickers, but often we can kick ourselves in the shins with our own insecurities. I am working on that so that I can be built up and also so that I can be a builder-upper for those in my life. I don't want my own insecurity to cause me to kick another in the shins in defense during an imaginary attack or to kick myself in the shins through self-defeating behavior or negative self-talk.

The movie made me laugh and guffaw and cry (and blush). Oh my! It also made me think...and be thankful I'm already happily married. ;)


Friday, May 20, 2011

Not Like the Others

This morning I was reflecting on the struggles one of my beastie boys is having and I thought about something Dale and Jonalyn Fincher of said during a MOPS Summit telecast (Enough attribution? I hope so.) They said something to the effect of,

God made us all different. The enemy wants to make us all the same.

It is not easy to be different, but that's how God created us. Gee thanks, Lord! Society has lots of ways of trying to make us conform, some more gentle than others. It has been my observation that 11 year-old boys aren't always so gentle.

My 11 year-old is different. He's shorter. He's bright and imaginative, witty and yet he does not speak the language of his peers. Oh, he has an excellent command of the English language, he doesn't speak sports. He has no interest. When all the 5th grade boys are talking about the hockey play-offs, he is drawing pictures or wondering if he can fuse the DNA of two animals to form another creature. (Let's not talk about the ethical implications of that right now. ;) )

God made him different. He loves science and nature and math. He likes to hike and look for different birds. He likes adventure and survival shows. He has lots of interests, they just don't seem to be the same as his peers and he's not connecting with them, he wants to, he just hasn't been able to lately.

Instead, in this age when kids are desperate to hide their own perceived flaws, they see a different kid as a great way to deflect attention from themselves and that is what they are doing. "Let's tease him because he is different." I tried to explain that to him this morning. He is sensitive and compassionate and I think he might get it but it doesn't make it hurt less. Thankfully he has a family to love him. And a God who loves him and created him to be different.

He cannot change who he is, nor should he. He will find his niche and some good, trusted friends. (His best friend since third grade has turned on him and become one of the biggest tormentors.) He is learning to build new relationships and he will.

I guess I thought of that statement from the Finchers (one of many I wrote down because they struck a chord in my heart) and felt the different-ness validated.

Dear children of mine, as you walk through this world, people are going to try to get you to conform. Sometimes it's hygienic (wash your hands after using the loo) and sometimes it's just a way of making you be like everyone else, but at what cost and for what reason?

Lord, being different is not always easy, but as You have created many kinds of animals for the Earth and fish for the sea, you want your people to be different too. You gave us each unique and special gifts and to conform to all be like one another would be to squander those gifts. That would serve the enemy but never You. May we all remember our perfection in God's eyes, even though we are not like the others.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Am Blessed

This morning as I was toasting the waffles (don't judge me, at least we use genuine maple syrup), I spotted a mug sitting on the counter, with my name written in green and a row of uneven tulips drawn along the bottom. My heart swelled with emotion and memories.

No the mug wasn't a Mother's Day gift decorated by little hands. It is a MOPS craft project drawn by my own thoroughly inartistic hands. I was transported in that moment to the day last September when we made them, the first day of the year and the first day Miss M attended "on the outside".

We made those mugs to use throughout the year for our coffee or tea or juice or whatever and it also acted as a "name tag" and it was "green" too. (Fewer paper cups hitting the trash.)

Seeing that mug reminded me of how loved I felt on that day. How excitedly people greeted us and oohed over her cute dress and tights, a gift from a sorority sister. You see, these MOPS ladies were excited about our newest blessing, even though she was "gasp" our sixth child. We were excited and felt very blessed, but not everyone shared our joy and it hurt. The MOPS ladies, they just loved us. Period.

On the last day of MOPS we go around the room and share, "What MOPS means to me". It tends to be emotional. We use tissues and not just because it's allergy season, people. This year I swore I wouldn't cry.

I lied.

As I sat there holding the heart in my hand and looking around the tables, I saw the faces of people who hold a very dear place in my heart. They were my "family" here where I have none. These are the people that say, "Let me help you," and mean it. These women are strong and we can all lay our stuff out there and bear it together. These are women I pray with, cry with and laugh until I cry with. (We laugh A LOT.)

So I did get teary as I tried to convey my love and appreciation for them. We were not saying goodbye at that meeting even though some have graduated. Instead we were sharing our love and appreciation for each other and our group, for our growth and the ability to be real even when "real" is really messy.

Thank you, Lord, for MOPS International, for the women who began the group I am in and the women I am blessed to serve and share this motherhood journey with.

You want to see the hands and feet of God? Come to a MOPS meeting.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Sew Fun..

Aren't I punny. Or maybe I'm punchy because I'm tired.

Either way, I broke in my Mother's Day gift tonight. Want to guess what I got? A sewing machine. I have wanted one for a long time and this is the second time the Husband has bought me one. The first time was for Christmas in 2008, but I made him return it because I stink at accepting gifts and I said we couldn't afford it. (How gracious am I? Obviously, not very! What a horrible example for the kids. Not one of my glowing mother moments.)

Anyway...I decided my first project would be something super easy as the last time a sewing machine and I were on speaking terms, I was in eighth grade. I found instructions online for making cloth napkins and we need some new ones and it's all straight lines so a no-brainer. I went to the fabric store to buy fabric and while I came home without napkin making supplies, I have fabric and a pattern for a cutie patootie dress for Miss M.

I was disappointed that I hadn't found any fabric suitable, read cheap enough, for the napkins. Then this afternoon, my frugal self happened to notice some old tablecloths too small for our two-leaves-so-all-8-fit table on the shelf by the washer. I cut and pressed and pinned and then I set up my new toy and even read the manual...

In a little over an hour I sewed two whole napkins. Pathetic? You bet. The bobbin thread keeps getting tangled up and causing some issues. I am proud to report that while I did get a little frustrated every time I had to stop sewing my sort of straight lines and cut the thread and get it going again I did not have a hissy. I am going to have to google some troubleshooting tips because the manual wasn't helpful. I'm sure it's operator error and when I figure it out I will be able to make that dress. I am happy to report that working with the sewing machine is like riding a bike, except for the annoying bobbin issue.

I am so thankful the Husband was willing to buy me a gift at all with how I acted back when and equally thrilled to be nurturing a new skill. I don't have to be a pro to enjoy the process. I love trying new things, do you?


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Risky Within Reason

*N* is 9 and allergic to just about everything except nuts and milk. Go figure. He has eczema, he gets allergy shiners, stuffy nose...the works. It's annoying for him and uncomfortable but not life-threatening.

Yesterday I performed the sacrificial act of sitting outside with him while he was playing. (My own allergies are making me want to claw my own eyes out which gives me much empathy for my guy.) He was gathering up dandelions and splitting the stems to "dissect" them. I was watching him so intently examining the plants, dandelion juice dripping off his fingers and I said, "You realize you're allergic to those, right?" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Yeah, just like everything else."

You might think I'm being a bad mom but he knows how he feels. He has not been clawing his own eyes out. Sneezing? Yes. But his eyes look a zillion times better than when he spends 10 minutes around a cat. (If he sits next to someone at school that has a cat he gets swollen, glassy eyes.)

*N* wants to experience the world. He loves to be outside. He has lots of energy. He is fascinated by science and nature. In order to keep him from allergies he would eat nothing but rice (and nuts and milk, I had this conversation with his pediatrician who felt it was unrealistic) and live in a sterile room. If it were life and death, we would do it. It is not. It is manageable.

It's not always possible to protect our kids from every discomfort. I wish I could. It's much easier to protect them from allergens that the poisoned words that other people speak at and about them. It is much easier to teach them to look both ways when crossing the street than to protect them from other people's distracted or impaired driving. I can provide them with the tools to cope. For allergies, he takes medicine. I tell him about his worth in God's eyes and mine to help counteract the negativity of others. I talk to the boys about not riding with a distracted driver and set the example myself.

We do what we can within reason but in all things I remember that God is walking alongside us. Thank goodness for that because as a very imperfect parent (letting her kid play with dandelions), I need Big back-up.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fill 'Er Up

So I have been hit with a screaming case of insecurity. I wallowed in it. I thought about seeking out validation, overt and veiled. You see, I wrote about love languages last week and how I am not really sure mine is "Words of Affirmation", but I still really crave them. (More than chocolate! I know! Crazy right?!)

Today while I was in the shower I decided to pray about it. The shower is one of the few places I am alone these days so it is a great place for me to talk with God. (Not to mention it's always a great reminder or being washed in the water of Baptism.)

Two things came to me as I was rinsing the shampoo from my hair...

#1- It is none of my business what other people think of me. So whether someone thinks I'm capable or not, whether they like me or not, whatever it is they think of me, it's not any of my business. All I can do is the best I can do with the passion and talents given me for the task. Whatever they think of me is their opinion and while it might hurt my feelings, it is none of my business. Why speculate and imagine the worst? It's none of my business.

#2- The only One who can give me the affirmation I crave is God. I remembered what Lysa TerKeurst writes about in her book, Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl. She writes that we go around with this cup looking for other people to fill it but that really the only One who can fill that empty place in our hearts is God. I have this half empty cup, because I'm a little bit pessimistic, that I carry around looking for people to fill with words of affirmation. I hear other people getting them, but they don't seem to be hitting my cup. I wonder, "Why her and not me?" (Refer back to #1.) ;)

In her book, Lysa writes, "The greatest thing we can do when we face feelings of insecurity is to "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2)."

So today I turned to God and I held out my cup and I said, God please fill me with your love so that I can go forward using the gifts you've blessed me with, free from the insecurity. The insecurity makes me want to run away, Lord, but I know that You have created me for this and when I focus on You and not on myself I no longer feel the urge to run.

Fill us up Lord, so we can be Your hands and feet.


Monday, May 9, 2011

You Are More...

You are more and I don't mean more as in you've got some losing to do before swimsuit season.

A few weeks ago I heard You Are More by "Tenth Avenue North" on the radio and I knew I needed to look it up and hear it again so when I stopped at the red light I jotted the title down so I wouldn't forget before I got home. (I'm 40, it happens.)

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade

Don't we all need to hear those words...and believe them? I know I do. I hear them and I say them and yet, sometimes...I don't remember they apply to me. I judge myself harshly, perhaps because there's a piece of me that judges others. I try not to but my heart isn't always as loving as it should be. And then I have one more thing to beat myself up about.

Being remade gives us an option to start fresh though. We can move beyond our choices and mistakes and problems. There still may be consequences, but we don't need to keep slogging through the muck, beating ourselves up. No matter what the consequences are, we have new opportunities to make different choices.

Our past does not need to define our future.

If you're driving down the road and you realize you've made a wrong turn, do you just keep driving because it's the direction you're heading even though it's not going to get you where you want to go? NO! You turn around (legally, please) and head in the proper direction. If you are lost you can consult your trusty GPS or ask for directions. In life you can consult a trusted friend, relative, pastor or counselor.

We are more than our choices and mistakes and problems. We are beautiful, amazing children of God. Don't let negative self-talk confine you to a path you don't want to be on.

I pray that we can each find our "right" path and move forward.

You are more...


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Speaking the Language

What language fills your love tank...or as the ladies at my MOPS group prefer, love bank?

Yesterday our Mentor Mom spoke about the The Five Love Languages from the book by Gary Chapman. I have read skimmed the book before many times. The Husband is a big proponent of the book and I know his love language and I thought I knew mine.

But yesterday in the midst of the discussion I started to realize that maybe I didn't even know my own language. You see, I have always said that "Words of Affirmation" was my love language. I am insecure by nature so I need to hear those words. However, yesterday the niggling suspicion that perhaps I was mistaken got a little louder. You see, I hear the words and they take away some of my insecurity some of the time but I don't often believe or internalize the words. Instead I tend to discount the affirming words like they're deep-discount clearance items, but negative words or perceived attitudes, those get a huge mark-up.

I started to think and wonder and I even spoke with the Husband (he who says, "I wish you could see yourself the way I see you.") and I resolved (I know, a resolution and it's not even December 31st!) to read the book and really pay attention this time. It won't be quick and I'm not setting a deadline. I am a student with required reading after all, but I am going to read for some new self-awareness.

I will chronicle my progress here. I'll share my thoughts along the way about myself and how I respond to others. (Because yes, it is all about me. ;) ) I think it will be interesting.

I did make one realization as I listened to our Mentor speak. I always felt like my father treated me a little like a fragile and helpless doll. He was always stepping in to do things for me. It used to frustrate me and make me feel he thought I was incompetent. Yesterday as I listened, my eyes filled with tears as I realized my dad's love language was "Acts of Service". Although he rarely said the words, "I love you," he showed them to me each and every day in ways large and small, I just couldn't see past my own ego to recognize he was motivated by love.

Gracious God, thank You for loving me in all times and places and languages. You are the only One who can fill my love bank all the way to overflowing. Help me to share love with others in the ways they need most by being attentive and aware. Lord, I pray that when people disappoint me by being human, I can be compassionate and forgiving as You give me compassion and forgiveness.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Bring Me..

Bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free, bring me anything that brings You glory. From "Bring the Rain" by Mercy Me

I've been "hearing" this refrain in my head today. I think that I've mentioned before that songs really touch my heart and speak to my soul and this one does that.

It's been a big news day and it has polarized people in painful ways. I'm not here to say what's right. People respond how they respond and I cannot sit in judgement of them. I won't. I just keep coming back to this refrain...

Bring me joy. What brings me joy? It's noticing my blessings and being thankful for them. That is it in a nutshell. Sometimes the feelings of happiness and joy are wrapped up in a thing (like the joy I got when I looked at my pedicured tootsies a few weeks ago). But to be honest, that joy was more about the time spent with a friend building a relationship. I get joy when I give my kids things they like, but that is about seeing their excitement and to be honest, they get just as excited about a hike in the woods as they do a new video game. (I need to remember that more often.) The joy is in the time invested and the relationships The joy is in living in community and sharing my love with others.

Bring me peace.. What brings me peace? No, not the kind when I am home alone. True peace comes from knowing who I am and whose I am and that I am saved by grace through faith and not by works of the law. Honest. No kidding. The peace I find in that feeds right into....

Bring the chance to be free. That peace gives me freedom that is bigger than the Boogie Man. (Thanks Veggie Tales! ;) ) In that peace of knowing I also have a freedom to live and be what God called me to be, not because I have to be, but because I am gifted and uniquely made to be and do these things.

Bring me anything that brings You glory. There's the tricky part. I have peace and joy and freedom and in these things I am able to do what brings God glory and while I don't have to, it's part of what I am called to do as a child of God. It means I need to ask if what I'm doing actually brings God glory.

The next verse of this song is telling and it's really about responding in faith...And I know there'll be days when this life brings me pain, but if that's what it takes to praise you, Jesus bring the rain. This isn't about God bringing suffering, it's about being able to still walk as children of God in the midst of it. It's about responding in love even when you're angry. It's about leaning into God when it feels like all you want to do is shake your fists and kick somebody in the shins.

I don't feel better when I have a rant. Maybe it's because as a woman I've been socialized not to react in anger. (My mother was a ranter though, so...) I just never feel good afterward. I don't feel vindicated or justified. I feel...ashamed that I let bitterness get that much of a hold over my tongue and it happens more frequently than I care to admit.

It's not that it's unChristian to be angry. Emotions are good and healthy, it's what we do with them. The point is that when I let my anger get a hold of me, I cannot find joy or peace or freedom and without any of those things, glorifying God isn't so doable. I don't want to let my anger prevent me from fully experiencing a glorious God-given life, even if life can be not-so-perfect and often painful.

Lord, I ask you to bring us each joy and peace and freedom. I pray that in our own ways we bring You glory.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Respectable or Real?

Today in church our Pastor was telling a story about a Pastor whose daughter wanted to go to Uganda. The father was worried about her safety and it took two years for him to allow her to go and risk her safety even to do God's work. After seeing her on her way the father said, "I wanted her to be a respectable Christian not a real one."

Respectable or real? There is a difference isn't there? The sermon today was about being willing to die for Christ. Willing. To. Die. I don't know about where you live, but in my little corner of the world that isn't a literal thing much anymore. At least on the surface.

I'm sure there are opportunities to stand up and put ourselves in harms way to do what is right in God's eyes, but attending worship and identifying myself as a Christian isn't particularly dangerous here.

But, what is real and what is respectable? Sometimes doing the hard things, the things that make us stand out and be seen and heard are the things that identify us as real rather than respectable.

Unfortunately, I think I am more respectable than real. (Well, I try to be respectable. ;) ) I am uncomfortable about standing up and speaking out. The Husband used to joke that when he was speaking in church you'd find his wife under the pew. Not really, but... It's not that I don't want to be seen or have my voice heard, it's the fear of offending or being judged or *gasp* someone thinking I am wrong, even when I know I'm right. I am also uncomfortable with those I care about standing up and speaking out. I guess all those times my dad said, "Don't make waves!" stuck.

An off topic, when my dad heard that the Husband was going to seminary his only request was that we not become missionaries in an underdeveloped country. I'm fairly certain landing in Western New York would not have broken that requested promise.

So I try to be respectable but I need to be real. It's scary though, to stand out and be different and do the hard things. I don't do it often enough. I hide behind the quote attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi (though attribution is unproved), to "Preach the gospel always, when necessary use words." Yes, I hide behind it. I use it as a crutch and an excuse to not speak out. If I just behave in a respectable Christian manner, whatever that is, I am doing the right thing, right? Debatable, particularly since my motivation is to be safe and respectable.

I don't know if I can challenge myself to start speaking out. Maybe this blog is my speaking out, my voice and the manner in which I am meant to speak. This and raising my kids to do the right things within their sphere, to speak out appropriately, which they do, on occasion. Don't make waves, I tell them. Be sure to follow the rules even when you see something wrong because it could be on your permanent record! Would I have been the mom saying, "Don't you follow that Jesus guy, he's going to get arrested! What will people think?!" I truly hope not but...I will plead the Fifth and refuse to answer on the grounds that I could incriminate myself. God knows my heart though.

God knows and regardless of whether we're real or respectable or a little bit of both, God loves us and forgives us and in that grace we are saved. Thanks be to God.