Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Demolition Day (Part II)

So, the bathroom is taking a little longer than expected.
(You knew that was coming)

Some days, no one shows up to do anything and that is frustrating.  But, I have learned that it's because the grout is drying, or the wall patching is drying.  As with us - sometimes it is quiet and lonely and we think nothing is going on with life, but that is when the roots are growing.  And we need roots to weather storms!  "In quietness and trust is your strength" (Isaiah 30:15).  We need times of rest.  Times of "true contemplation".  As Jan Johnson states:  "when our soul listens, we can regain sight of God as the One who is eager to nurture us and get us up and walking again." Our soul can listen well only when we are still.  And, according to this thought, that's when we are nurtured.  I like being nurtured, apparently so does my bathroom floor.

It is also coming out way cooler than I had thought.  As does any work we leave in the Master's hands - His plans for us are way beyond our imagination.  I have left a lot of decisions in the hands of the boss, and he's doing a way better job picking things out than I had pictured in my head.  Design and decor are not my strengths.  Because I know this about myself, I knew I was better off claiming ignorance in this area.  Friends have told me I'd be a dream client to work with because I am not picky.  I just know if I were to choose, and be ornery about it, I'd lose out on something that could have been spectacular.  In life - when we get our own plans out of the way,  acknowledging that our ideas are super lame compared to our Creators', He can do amazing things!

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him".  1 Cor 2:9

So, I guess what I'm learning is -
1) Be patient, strength comes from settling down.
2) Let the One who made me have His way with my life, because I will just mess it up!

ps - No, that's not my bathroom, but it's cool, isn't it?

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Other Side of the "Mommy Wars" Coin

No, I'm not joining in the "Mommy War" squirmish - just thought I'd catch some eyes with that juicy title.
I did see or hear a great quote against these wars that said something in regards to "you are the exact mom that God wanted for each of your children"; heard it twice actually, and I like it.
But there's another side to this whole thing that either I've missed reading about (haven't read a lot), or will now propose:  Your kids are the exact ones that God put into your life in order to change YOU !
"Parenting is a school for spiritual formation - and our children are our teachers." - Gary Thomas
You mean, the things I see in my kids that are driving me nuts are the things God wants to change in me?

I was listening to a podcast by Joel Hunter yesterday that I thought really had nothing to do with me, until I put it in the parenting light... "When we blame others, we give them power over us, and we relinquish all power to fix the situation".
Lately, one of my children and I have been battling a little more than normal.  It's her fault.  Something's going on in her that I can't quite figure out.  Even if that's true (not) - it makes me helpless.  I don't like being helpless; so I had to take the blame back and get it off of her, so I could do something about this!  Maybe it's my fault; maybe there's something I can do here to resolve the situation rather than just pointing the finger.

What is God trying to teach me through my child right now?
To love the unlovable?
To be patient when I want to blow up?
To live out of my own selfish desires in order to meet hers?
All of these things, I'm sure God would love to grow in me through this situation.
"It's an energizing feeling to be so concerned with the someone else that we have no thought of our own welfare." - Gary Thomas
I think that just may be what God is trying to show me through my "teacher" right now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Someone's Watching...

Now that it's getting warmer, my girls have been playing soccer outside after dinner as a way to blow off some steam. I finish the dishes and go join them when I'm done, so I take my time (partly because I enjoy the peace and partly because I enjoy hearing them play together).  Usually, before I get out there, someone stomps in in tears blaming another and you know the rest of the story.  So now, they ask me to come out and watch instead of doing dishes;  not so I can see their amazing soccer skills; but partly so I can bust the guilty party, and partly so that the guilty party will not indulge in her guilty behavior.  It works.

One of my favorite bible verses is 2 Chronicle 16:9:  "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."

The daughter who is guilty probably thinks I'm there to bust her;  while the daughter who is "fully committed to pleasing me" (at the moment), knows I've got her back.
When we are fully committed to pleasing The Lord, look what He does for us - strengthens us!!

It's like the story of the dad and son watching the dog chase his tail - the son asks why, and the dad says, "because he doesn't know he's already got it".  If we're following Jesus, He's watching us and we've got His strength!  When I'm watching the victim daughter play with her sisters, she sees her strength sitting there on the sidelines (I can't play because they almost broke my arm and ankle in the same night) and is comforted.  When we know we have the strength of Christ in us, that brings comfort - and peace - and joy!  It's awesome to know He's not watching us to get us into trouble, but to give us what we need.  We just need to live like we really have that!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Fire Alarm

There was a fire alarm at the health club the other day.  Thankfully, it happened right as I was ready to go, so I went to get my daughter from the kids area as people were slowly leaving the building, and they were just sitting there.  "We'll call the front desk and see if it's real", they drearily said.  So they did, and the front desk didn't know, so they begrudgingly decided to get the kids out of the building and started lining them up quite non-hurriedly (if that's a word, add it to my cool adverb collection).

What?  What if it was actually a real fire alarm?  I still don't know if it was, and I left my towel behind in the process, but you have to at least act like it's real - just in case it is.  What could be the harm in that?  There would be way more harm in treating a real fire as it's not real than treating a fake fire as if it's real.

Nicole Nordeman has a pretty cool song about this entitled "What If".  Speaking of Jesus, she sings:

"What if you're right?
And he was just another nice guy
What if it's true?
They say the cross will only make a fool of you.
What if he takes his place in history with all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends.  What then?

But what if you're wrong?
What if there's more?
What if there's hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you Jump?  And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He's more than enough?  What if it's love?

So the first half of the song is the "false alarm" thinking - that Jesus isn't really God, didn't really rise from the dead, isn't really the only way to heaven.  And those who stake their lives on it are really just fools.
The refrain is living like the fire alarm is real.  We'd better get out of that building asap or it will burn down - we can jump, and trust in the One who will catch us.  We are staking our lives on the Gospel, and live entirely for it.

Which one are you?  Are you living like this is really just a false alarm, and those who think it's real are fools; or are you living like there's a real fire - like Jesus really did mean everything He said.

1 Corinthians 15:19 says "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."  If all I have to lose is a reputation (or a towel) because I was wrong in what I believed, I'm okay with that.  But what if I'm right?  Boy, do I have a lot to gain!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Demolition Day

We are in the middle of re-doing a bathroom.  The project is expected to take three weeks.  The thing that surprised me was how quickly it was gone!  It took one day to destroy the old bathroom - walls, sinks, floor, and all.  And, it was a mess!  Cool, maybe they will finish early, I thought...  nope - it takes a lot longer to rebuild.

It got me thinking about the Demolition Days that I have gone through.  Whether it has been from a broken heart or broken body parts, they all happened in a matter of minutes, or seconds.  And then, how much longer it has taken to rebuild what was destroyed.
BUT the cool thing is, as with the bathroom; what is rebuilt is usually way better than what was destroyed.  God demolishes strongholds and high places all over the scriptures.  He destroyed the barrier between the Jews and Greeks (through Jesus). He says He will destroy the heavens and the earth, too - and they are all to make something better.
What Demolition Days have you gone through that God has rebuilt?  Are you going through the rebuilding phase right now?  Hope in The Lord, let Him rebuild you!

"I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord... 
On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt... 
They will say, "This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden"... 
Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed..."  Ezekiel 36:32-36

He wants the glory - He will rebuild us for His sake - so others can see that He alone is the ultimate repairer of broken walls!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Told You So...

It's a forty minute, one-way commute (if there's no traffic).  To a neighborhood where, a year ago, I would have locked my doors.  The parking is free in this part of Chicago.   There is no sign on the door to tell you where you are going,  just a broken awning.  But I ring the bell, the door opens, and I am blessed.
Yesterday, I had the joy of going back to Personal Training.  Something I never thought I'd do again (never say never).
She changed into her "exercise clothes" as soon as she saw me come in.
She was a natural at jumping rope and hula hooping.  She actually wanted to do them longer than the prescribed 1 - 2 minutes because she was having so much fun.  It brought her back to her childhood.  She raced me in bear crawls, crab walks, and step-ups - keeping up with every move, if not ahead of me.    She had one of the best work-ethics I'd seen in a long time, loving the sweat pouring down her face, and beaming the accomplishment grin.
She just turned 20.
And she was homeless.
We all know it's true that money can't buy happiness, or most of us, at least.  But, sometimes the question still remains...

What does buy happiness?

"Don't put your hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."  1 Tim 6:17

"Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."  Isaiah 55:2

"....if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,... then you will find your joy in the LORD..."  Isaiah 58:10, 14)

I could hear God saying, "I told you so"  as I drove home and couldn't get her smile out of my mind.  I still can't.  He is right.  And I know He grins that accomplishment grin when we finally realize this!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Scooter

Saturday morning I set out on my regular dog walk, and right on the sidewalk, about six blocks from home, lay one of our scooters (not near anyone's house that it would have been).  It was labeled with green tape as all of ours are, and with our name on the bottom.  So, I picked it up and brought it home, asking God along the way, why??

I've been reading Isaiah 58 a lot, lately.  Even before church started a three week stint on it; if you're not familiar with it, the Message translation rocks!

"What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way..."
vv 7-8

So, today, right around the same area of the walk where I found the scooter, I heard the girls' memory verse:  "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much."  Luke 16:10

How do these relate?  Look at the fifth line in the Isaiah 58 passage.
God was reminding me to "be available to my own family" - take care of what is along my path everyday.  When I don't notice it (she) is missing, it (she) could end up on the sidewalk, neglected - oppressed!
What has God put along your path every day that has your name on it?
He has specific tasks designed for us to do, we just have to keep our eyes open, take care of it/them, and He will give us more!  Then, we can really be His hands and feet.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On Belay

I have been rock climbing (if you can call it that, since it wasn't on an actual rock), twice.  Each time I was amazed at how sturdy I was when I was on belay.  I could climb without fear when I heard those words.

Recently, I feel like I've been living on belay.  God just took away my fear, I guess.  Today, I actually felt like Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side as she went into Michael's old neighborhood.  A lot of people watching the movie were afraid for her, but she was unfazed.  God is allowing me to climb to new heights as He holds me on belay - not looking at the circumstances surrounding me, but the goal.

Joshua 1:9 tells us to "Be strong and courageous... for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  I noticed that every time that command is given, it is accompanied by the assurance of The Lord's presence.  I think this means that as long as we know that God is with us, we need to be brave in doing what He says.

Another thing I learned about rock climbing, is that the climber is not supposed to ask or nag the belayer as to when they will be ready.  The belayer is simply to announce when the climber is on belay.  So as we wait on God, attentively, He will tell us when it's time to go.  And then, only He knows the heights that  can be reached!