Saturday, March 31, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You... (Part 2)

God seems to want me to keep rolling with my last post.  Why do I sense this?  Maybe because after I've returned from our road-trip to Philly and back, we heard "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson, about twenty times in the car radio.  I think I can relate to about 90% of those lyrics, and they are just another explanation of the Romans 5 verses I was sitting on last week.

We also went to Valley Forge.  We (re)learned about how tough the conditions were with extreme cold weather, inadequate food, and very little clothing and blankets.  But then those who survived went on to win their next battle.  They were strengthened by struggling...  They persevered... they grew in character.

I also ran across a paragraph in my Spring Break reading material - The Invisible by Arloa Sutter:
"By indulging their (our children's) desires for the latest gadgets, we may actually be teaching them consumerist habits that will keep them trapped for the rest of their lives.  We can get in the way of the work of God in their lives by rushing in to rescue them from situations God has designed to make them stronger. They don't need to depend upon God, they have us."

It all goes with the Wants vs. Needs theme.  The relationship Kelly thought she wanted, she was better off without.  The conditions the soldiers at Valley Forge didn't get - actually built lots of them up.  And, not giving to or protecting our kids from everything that comes their way, allows God to show up - in ways He wants to shine, way brighter than we ever could.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wants vs. Needs

I love not giving my kids everything they want for Christmas; or whenever...
As long as they don't have everything they want at each moment, I think that builds character - rather than spoiling them by letting them have everything.  Currently, the wants are non-tying high tops, a kindle, and a bigger bathroom.

Then I heard God say - "Me, too!  I work that way, too - maybe you got that idea from Me!  I could pretty easily give you everything you ever wanted, but why would I do that?  That would pretty much destroy your character, and, destroy your HOPE!  You learned it in Romans 5 - suffering leads to perseverance which leads to character which leads to hope....  And by suffering, I mean, wanting stuff you don't have right now!"

I accidentally stumbled upon Bill Johnson, Pastor at Bethel Church, and he's got the nail on the head with this wants vs. needs thing:

"Sometimes God doesn't do something for us because He wants to do something through us".
(Meaning = He can work much more on who we are by us not having something, than us having something.)

"Gifts will take you places that your character can't stand."
(Meaning = they can make you pretty ugly, like a spoiled three year-old!)

God wants us to keep hoping, keep dreaming - keep persevering - that's what builds character; and that's what keeps us living life to the fullest!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Out of the Same Mouth...

I brought the girls to big church with me this morning.  We had to leave early, and it's much quicker not having to go to three different rooms to find them.  Plus, I really wanted to worship with them.  My favorite part was hearing them.  Whether it's in the car, or in church, hearing praises to God out of little mouths is awesome.
Then I remembered...  wasn't it just forty minutes ago that that little mouth was calling the other "dumbhead"??  Yuk!  James 3:10 came to mind "out of the same mouth come praise and cursing...".  I do it, too.  Peter did it, too - by denying Jesus three times after just practically living with him.  AND, Jesus knew he would do it - and loved him anyway!
That's the part that got me - he knows we're going to use the same mouth to praise Him and curse others, yet He loves us anyway!  That's big love.  That's a kind of love that's really tough for me to get my arms around.
Briefly, I went to being convicted and saying I needed to work on that more, try to be better; but He shut me up.  He said - "Don't go there.  I don't work that way.  Go back to where you just were, trying to grasp how much I really love you - no matter what - and let that thought grow, until you're just absolutely consumed with how big my love is.  Then stay there, and don't leave."
Letting God transform us as He grows and lives in our hearts is how He works.  Trying to clean the outside is our version (which is way harder and doesn't work).  He's an Inside Out God - Whose love for us is amazing!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Power of Vulnerability

Since the very first introduction to Kindergarten, there has been a girl, let's call her Lola, that my daughter did not care for (understatement).  She was happy about everyone in her class except for Lola. She wanted to invite everyone in her class to her birthday party, except for Lola...  Until last week.
She runs home from school begging for a play date with ---- Lola!

After some probing in the bathtub (mentally), I heard what lay underneath her change of heart.
"She didn't lock the door in the bathroom and I walked in on her and I saw her underwear, and it was Princesses - It was so funny, we laughed so hard."

"In order for connection to happen, we have to be seen, really seen." - Brene Brown

"There is no better way to earn a person's trust than to put ourselves in a position of unprotected weakness" - Patrick Lencioni

Paul was well aware of this... "I don't want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you'd encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk... I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations...  God told me, "My strength comes into its own in your weakness."  2 Cor. 12 (MSG)

My house is dirty.   I can't whistle.
I often lose patience when drinks are spilled.
I am addicted to gum, coffee, and I can't  jump on the trampoline without leaking.

By the way - Lola came over the other day and they had a blast!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Advocate

Apparently, I have an advocate.
He is a skinny, bald, Italian, former bike racer.  Let's call him Antonio.
He is one of the few who actually likes my spinning class.
I was ready to throw in the towel and concede to the fact that my Instructor days are over; and I was okay with that.  There's a time for everything under the sun, right?  This is a time to die - to feel the weakness, not the strength, get the hint, and move on...
Then Antonio comes along and, though he's been in my class since I started (and everyone else's), he breaks the silence; says he wants me to teach more classes; says I'm really good.
I politely say thank you, but think to myself; I used to be good - notsomuch anymore.
BUT - It made me feel like a million bucks.

One of my daughters has recently experienced the splinters that occur from sitting on the bench - she's lost her love of the sport because of that.  BUT - she learned to love a new one because she gets a lot of playing time.

1 John 2:1 says that Jesus speaks to the Father in our defense!  That is awesome - He's sticking up for me constantly...  He says stuff like this "She didn't mean to do that; she's had a really long day."  And to our hearts He says - "No matter what; you're loved and accepted by me.  You are valuable (if you weren't, I would not have died for you) and I have an amazing plan for your life."

Rejection brings out the worst in people.
Acceptance brings out the best.

Sometimes God wants us to see/know that He Alone Is Enough.
Sometimes God uses Antonios in our lives to get us through stuff.
Sometimes God wants US TO BE Antonio to someone else!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Flattery Will Get You...

Lately, when she wakes up in the morning, my lovely six year old has been bringing me love notes.  They are awesome, and often make me cry.  Examples proudly displayed on the fridge...

This morning she actually came down with a present wrapped in paper that said "Thank you for haveing me".  Inside were 36 marbles; because I was 36 when I had her.  Wow - that got me!  Even though her math was off, it was a way cool thought for her to have.

You might be thinking - awww; what a sweet child.  But wait.  She is either making up for yesterday's exhaustive boxing match, or attempting to build  me up early in the morning, so she can tear me down as the day progresses.

It reminds me of 1 Samuel 15:22:
"Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice."
As much as I would prefer a smooth ride with her during the day, where she is listening to me happily, and obeying politely, and acknowledging "no" answers readily - That is what God is saying to me;  "To simply obey Me is way better than striving, and attempting to serve Me in ways that I haven't really chosen for you.  Just sit and let Me fill you with Me, then I will take you where I want you to go".

So here's our applicable memory verse for the week:

Proverbs 30:17
"The eye that scorns obedience to a mother,
will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,
will be eaten by the vultures."

just kidding.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The (Unchained) Help

I finally got around to seeing The Help this weekend and it was awesome!  I even stayed up past ten to finish it - which is saying a lot for me.

I especially loved one of the very last lines of the movie by Aibileen -  "Once I told the truth, I felt free".
That's it.  She got fired from her job and as she was leaving, a smile emerged on her face.
It reminds me of the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul".  The author had been through so much loss, including the lives of his children, and he penned this hymn!  The deep joy we see in Aibileen's face amidst her trial showed the depth of joy that this hymn is based on.

Many people equate happiness and joy; but there is a difference.  Happiness can come and go in an instant, just watch some pre-schoolers.  But joy, that stays, whether your toy was taken away or not.

II Corinthians 8:2 talks about the Macedonian's "overflowing joy and extreme poverty".  Proof positive that there can be joy regardless of our circumstances.  This joy leads to freedom, which leads to a life unchained!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ruby and Esther

I watched the Disney movie "Ruby Bridges" with my girls this week and thought it was awesome.  The fact that Ruby was six when she exhibited such bravery and brains was very cool.  The fact that she prayed for people who were mean to her was very cool.  And, the fact that she didn't care what other people thought of her was even cooler.
I think this may be a movie we would even purchase, to add to our whopping collection of about twelve DVDs - soon to be obsolete to blue-rays, I know...

I couldn't help but parallel her life to that of Esther's.  They were born for a specific time and rose to the occasion.  The famous line that she was put in her royal position "for such a time as this"  (Esther 4:14) rung in my ears.
I also couldn't help but explain this truth to my girls.
God has designed a job for us to do.   Are we going to let it pass?

"You cannot amputate your history from your identity." - Beth Moore
Ruby, Esther, and us are called to think and act beyond our individual lives; to lose ourselves for something greater; to live without fear - today!