Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Other Duties as Assigned

"While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as the entered the cloud.  A voice came from the cloud, saying, 'This is my son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."  Luke 9:34-35

I think I am finally coming to the realization that, though there are a number of things I want to do with my life, being a mother is probably going to be the only thing I'll really able to do well and whole-heartedly, for at least the next ten years or so.  I still have many aspirations in my life--writing, sewing, reading, a career in museum programming, to name just a few--but it has been really difficult to make any of those happen lately.  I've really only been able to do any of them with a whole lot of outside help.  Of course, being a mom seems particularly overwhelming right now, as my daughter is currently cutting her two top front teeth...there never seems to be a moment's peace, unless she falls asleep during a walk (which she did just now, hence my having ten minutes to blog!).  But even when she is in bed for the night, I never know when her sleep might be interrupted, when she might need me, when my own list of "to-dos" gets tossed by the wayside.

Technically, I have the choice, even now, of whether or not I want to be a mom.  But emotionally, spiritually, there is no choice.  She is my daughter, and I physically could not give up being her mom, not for any reason, and especially not because I would rather pursue my own aspirations.  And as I said, ten years (or maybe a bit more) from now, I bet I'll still have some of the same dreams, and maybe I'll pick them back up then.

Jesus didn't really have a choice, either, about what He was called to do on this Earth.  But in my nearly 29 years of life, I never thought about the fact that Jesus himself may have had other aspirations and interests.  On the surface, it seems sinful to think that Jesus might have wanted to do something else with His life.  How could He not want to teach, heal, travel, and ultimately save the human race?  That's not a bad resume!  We know that he faced temptation in the desert directly from Satan and was able to resist.  But how many days did He get up in the morning and think, I can't face those crowds again today.  Or, If I have to think of one more analogy to make these people understand, I'll explode!  Or, I'm too tired to even think about sending out any healing power.  In reality, those may have been more difficult temptations to resist than, "Throw yourself down from this mountain."

Of course, we're all better off because Jesus resisted those temptations (if He had them...I could be totally off the mark).  Whether it's being a mother, or the Savior of the world, there are always going to be "other duties as assigned" that we may or may not want to do.  But making that commitment, and sticking to it, is going to leave us all better off in the end.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Weeding Lessons

"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves."  Genesis 3:6-7

They say that all things bad appeared after the Fall of Man.  Of course, pain in childbirth, broken relationships, and that biggie, separation from God.  But they also say that the "little" bad things came about with sin, as well.  Things like mosquitoes.  And those infernal weeds.

But I started thinking about this the other day as I was (surprise, surprise) weeding.  I started to wonder if it was really reasonable to think that weeds suddenly appeared after the Fall.  After all, Adam and Eve had always been naked, but they didn't know any different.  They didn't know it was "bad," or something of which they should be ashamed

Maybe the Garden was a big, wonderful place where all of nature worked together in some big, elaborate maze of beauty, in which one couldn't tell where the "real plants" ended and the "weeds" began.  Maybe it was all perfectly harmonious, until Adam and Eve had their Great Moment of Realization.

And now, weeds are bad.  We sit outside, and we break our backs and strain our muscles pulling them out, making way for those "real plants" to grow and thrive.  Many weeds are just as beautiful as cultivated plants, with just as vibrant blossoms, just as fragrant roots.  And they're certainly stubborn and hardy, defying removal.

There's probably another analogy here altogether, about God pruning and weeding the bad things out of us, and I'd buy that, too.  But tonight, I wonder if maybe, just maybe, we work so hard to take out what's considered ugly and make way for what's considered beautiful, we miss seeing God in His completeness.  We miss the idea that maybe weeds aren't that ugly after all; indeed, He created them just as He created fruits and flowers.  And maybe, just maybe, weeds can teach us something about God Himself. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Throwing in the Towel

Despite that common saying, "Never give up," sometimes giving up is just the right thing to do.  We never know what result it will bring, but in some cases, giving up means giving up control.  Or giving up the attempt to control a situation that cannot be controlled.  Sometimes giving up means freedom, waiting it out, and hoping for the best.  Even Jesus gave up his spirit, and we all know that was the best thing He could have done for us.

Maybe we should give up a little more often.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No, Thank You

After the last two days of lying on the couch and requiring a nap approximately every two hours, I've been thinking about all the things in life that I could do without, sickness being one of them.  Excessive drama, another.  (Of course I like some drama; it keeps things interesting.)  I could also do without name-calling, people rolling through neighborhood stop signs (don't even get me started on that one!), and pornography.  If those things just didn't exist, oh, life would be so much happier.  For me, at least.

I also thought for a while, over the past several years, that I could do life better without God.  Not without believing, but without caring much, and letting go of certain principles.  Turns out that is a horrible way to live.  I cannot express the feelings of guilt that would tag along with me wherever I went.  My psyche was fragile at best, living a life that I disagreed with in principle.  I started to wonder how I could actually still call myself a believer.  And those old verses in Revelation haunted me.  Literally.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.'  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked."  Revelation 3:15-17

Looking again at these verses, I see there was more to it than fear or guilt.  There may be bad things in life that I could do without, but clearly, by my past experiences and by these verses, I cannot do without God.  Without Him, I have no clothes, no sight, no wealth (literal or figurative).  I have no hope.  And speaking of things I cannot do without: without hope, we are all dead.

I can't believe and not act the way I'm supposed to.  I can't cling to hope if the One who gives that hope is unimportant to me.  I cannot have anything without God.  In fact, I do not want anything without God.  It's just not worth it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Mama's Prayer

How can one not see God in a tiny, brand new baby?

So perfectly formed, with everything she needs.  Tiny little fingers, toes, ears.  Fuzzy blond hair, and the slight twinge of a smile when she sleeps.  I can't imagine looking at a newborn and thinking anything but "miracle."  From the tiniest speck, this human being formed, whether planned or unplanned.  Always wanted, by God if by no one else.  Here to accomplish a specific purpose on Earth, but for the time being, as MercyMe sang in "Joseph's Lullaby":

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight.
Lord, I ask that he, for just this moment
Simply be my child.

God does give us those children for a time, and it feels like they belong to us.  They are half us, after all.  But God has an amazing purpose and plan for each of those children, though we can rarely guess what it could be.  It could be monumental; it could be simple.  But it is a purpose nonetheless.  I know this for my own daughter; I trust it and pray for it every day, that she will grow in grace and love and beauty, inside and out, encouraged by those around her, and loved for whomever she becomes.

For her, I pray the "prayer" of Luke 2:52, a verse I memorized long ago through my church's scouting program.  "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

A parent could hope for nothing more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

There's a Whole World Out There

"Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.  Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield."  Psalm 5:11-12

The number of new things my daughter has started doing over the past week is nothing short of astounding.  She has graduated from army-crawling to actual crawling.  She consistently waves when prompted.  She can feed herself with her fingers.  And she can pull herself up to standing.  All of this within one week!  It's difficult to keep up with her new accomplishments!

One time tonight, she pulled herself up to stand using her Bumbo chair.  I took her hands, and she immediately started taking steps towards me.  It's amazing that she knows just what to do, and I don't think it's going to be long before she gains enough balance to start walking along the furniture, and then start walking on her own.  She is ready to go, and as soon as she realizes that those things are going to open up a whole new world for her, she'll get the hang of them in no time.

What opens up new worlds for us?  I know a lot of people think that believing in God and obeying His principles limits human beings, but I think it's just the opposite.  I think it gives a person tremendous freedom.  Simply trusting in God vastly opens up the number of viable options or paths to take in life, just knowing that He can be counted on (keeping in mind, of course, my last post about God not existing to fix our mistakes).

I also firmly believe that the principles He sets are largely there for our own protection, be it emotional, physical, or spiritual.  And even if one does look at them as limitations, I am always reminded of the idea of boundaries.  We need them because without them, we feel unsafe.  At least I do.  I like to feel protected, sheltered, cared for.  I know that when I start testing those limits, I start to feel out of control.  Scared.  Like I want someone to come along and reign me in.  My world expands when I feel that cushion of protection.  It's ironic, isn't ?

Even though I know she's going to go a mile a minute when she starts walking, I can't wait to see my daughter's world expand, right now, and five, ten, fifteen years from now.  I'm sure God enjoys watching us discover as much as I've enjoyed watching her.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


"Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts.  We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.  You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.  The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy."  Psalm 65:4-8

I made a mistake with a bottle of hair dye the other night.  It was awful.  Every time I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror, I practically shuddered.  All I could see was orange, not the "natural, sun-lightened blond" the box had promised.  I hated it so much that I marched myself right back to the store and purchased another box of dye to try and fix the mistake.  It only helped a little.  The worst part is that I had read the recommendations about which shade to choose to get the result I wanted, but I was distracted by the phrase "sun-lightened," and so I discarded those recommendations.  Bad move.

I suppose I could make a trite comment about how, in life, we need not only to read the instructions, but to follow them as well, which would be a good lesson learned.  Or I could draw some lesson about how we can't go back and fix our mistakes; we need God's help to fix them.

But that's not necessarily true, either.  God doesn't exist to fix our mistakes, or prevent us from making them.  He doesn't put out our fires, make us successful, make us happy, or make our lives easier.  But if God doesn't exist to fix our mistakes, and we can't fix them on our own, then where does that leave us?

We're not meant to fix our mistakes, and nine times out of ten, one can't go back and rectify them, anyway.  Yeah, yeah, yeah...we're meant to learn from our mistakes.  That's true, of course, and we certainly don't want to go through life making the same mistakes over and over again.  We surely won't grow as people if we do that.

But watching what God does with our mistakes, not fixing them, is perhaps one of the most amazing and humbling gifts we can experience on this earth.  I'm not sure that choosing the wrong hue for my hair is going to bring about any sort of intervention from God.  But there are plenty of other opportunities for God to take my missed opportunities and turn them into something great, and more particularly, something for His glory.  He knew when He created us that we were going to be imperfect, and consequently annoying, frustrating, and even disappointing at times.  But how excited must He have been, thinking about all the ways he was still going to meet us, through our imperfections, and show us whom He really is!  I get excited just thinking about the next time I will see my daughter smile, and I can't imagine how God looks forward to the next time He will make us smile, especially if we are in the midst of something deeply challenging, or even hopeless.

Even though it's not God's job to make me happy, it's more often than not a by-product.  Or maybe it's the deep-down joy of having someone who won't reject me for my mistakes, but who will open His arms, perhaps even wider, and say, "I still love you.  Now watch this."