Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are You Serious???

Do you really mean to tell me that I contributed more to society in the first eight months after I graduated from college (When I was selling business telephone and voice-mail systems.) than I have since I decided to "quit working" eleven years ago, so I could stay home and raise my children???

Just got my annual statement from Social Security, and that's what Uncle Sam seems to think.

So glad my identity is in Christ and I find my true worth in HIM!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

This Week's WORD

But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. "That is enough," the LORD said. "Do not speak to me anymore about this matter."
Deuteronomy 3:26

OK, a little background - Moses is the one speaking in the verse above. And the situation to which he is referring is this: When the Israelites were in the Desert of Zin there was no water for them to drink and they grumbled against Moses. God told Moses to speak to a certain rock and promised He would bring water from it for the people. But, instead of doing as God commanded him, Moses struck the rock with his staff and then water flowed from it. Then God said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them." (Numbers 20:12)
So, Moses disobeyed God, and the consequence for his actions was that he would not lead the Israelites into the promised land.

Even so, Moses asked God to let him go over and see that fine land. (Deut. 3:25) Seems Moses didn't like that there was a consequence for his disobedience. In fact, he didn't even take responsibility for his actions. Notice in the verse above how he blamed the Israelites for God's anger? Moses even tried to warm God up to the idea of letting him enter the land by telling God how great He is. (Deut. 3:24) But God wasn't buying it. He said He'd had enough and didn't want to talk about it anymore.

So why did I choose this verse to be highlighted in This Week's WORD???

Because it shows me that God TOTALLY understands what it's like to be a mother!!!

Have a great weekend. I'll see you back here Monday!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Job Security

OK, so I realized my babies have now become big kids, but I know my job as Mom is not yet over.
They may not need me to help them in the swimming pool.
My presence at the movie theater may not be wanted anymore.
Hugs and kisses in public are a thing of the past.
I don't even need to prepare lunch anymore.
But my job is not over.

I read a father's statement recently that convinced me: I am still needed.

This father was talking about a family meeting he had with his adult and nearly-adult children, in which he was asking for and seriously considering their input. He finished by saying, "It was one of those moments when you realize your children have become what you have hoped and prayed for."

And that was one of those moments when I realized - although my children may not need me to do as much for them anymore, although they may be growing in independence and wishing to do for themselves, their need for me remains. And the greatest thing I can do for them now is to pray.
Oh, I know I need to continue to lead and instruct, but they are getting to the ages where they think I don't understand them. They think they know more than I. (Remember when you were there as a kid? I do!!!)

And, honestly, most of the time I feel woefully inadequate to raise these children to be the well-adjusted, servant-hearted, God-fearing individuals I hope for.

Even so, while I will continue to do my best to lead and instruct, I know God holds their hearts and He is the One ultimately responsible for who they are. So I will continue do what I can in the physical realm, but I am only going to trust in what I can do in the spiritual realm. I know there is value to training, but nothing compares to the power of God unleashed through prayer.

They may not need me to do very much, but I am convinced it is crucial for me to pray for my children.

And I trust that one day I will look at my children and realize they have become what I have spent years hoping and praying for. In spite of my best efforts to lead and instruct!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Swim Day with Big Kids

Yesterday was our first "Swim Day" of the summer.
Every summer the Women's Ministry Director from my church welcomes moms and kids to her house on certain Tuesdays for a swim day. My children and I have been enjoying these events for some nine or ten years now. And they were happy to begin again this week.
When we arrived, I barely had a chance to say, "Here we are!" before the kids were off and jumping into the pool. (We had put sun screen on at home. No need to waste pool time, you know!)

So I sat down in a chair and began visiting with another mom.
Every few minutes I looked down at the deep end of the pool and counted heads. Yep. My charges were all present and accounted for.
Jumping off the diving board onto a big raft.
Pushing each other off the raft.
Splashing and kicking, laughing and yelling.
They were having a great time, and it was a joy for me to see them having so much fun. But there, smack in the middle of the joy, I had a realization.

My children were not looking for me.

Not once since we had arrived had I heard them call out, "Mom?"
They hadn't asked me to blow up floaties for their arms, and they didn't need me to be in the pool so they could jump to me.
I remembered earlier summers when we were at the pool and I looked at other moms sitting around the edge, wondering when I was going to be able to join in the conversation.
I remembered the first time I convinced Matthew that it was safe to jump into the pool - that I would catch him in my arms. And how, once he had the hang of it, he didn't want to stop!
I remembered teaching Joshua how to float on his back, and now I looked at him jumping off the diving board like a pro.

And I realized, my children are really growing up.

The only reason they still "need" me for swim days is because Mrs. Bytwerk's house isn't within walking distance.

In the midst of the realization, I smiled to myself. My little babies are big kids now. God has brought us through some really rough times, and has given me much joy. I know we have more storms to weather - and sometimes it scares me to anticipate what they'll be like - but I know God will still be with me.
He will still be faithful.
And there are still joys for me to experience.
I believe it.

So I went through an entire swim day without answering the call, "Mom???" And I'm OK with that.
I wasn't entirely useless.
Several of my girls from Sunday school were there, and they kept me busy. Can't count the number of times I heard them calling, "Mrs. Hossink?" I helped one girl gain confidence jumping in the pool. Helped another swim on her back. And comforted a third while her mom attended to little brother.

All in all, it was a great day at the pool!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things Change When I Stop to Thank You

I teach Sunday school at church and my favorite song that we sing with the kids is called Every Day.
And my favorite line in my favorite song is the title for this post.

Do you know how TRUE that statement is???

When I am frustrated; feeling angry, stressed or tired; when my children are driving me up a wall and I want to run away - if I stop what I'm doing and start thanking God for, well, anything - things change!

I remember how blessed I am.

My heart turns toward contentment rather than complaining.

My focus shifts from the irritation around me to my Father who loves me.

My spirit is lifted instead of being weighed down.

Yes. Things change.

So Monday evening when we sat down to dinner without Brian (He was working late.), and the kids were noisy, and my nerves were short, and they asked what song we were going to sing (We always sing for our dinner prayer.), I breathed deeply and said, "I need to sing Every Day."
So we did.
And I started to thank God.
And things changed!

*peaceful grin*
This is me, thankful for God's amazing grace!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

I Said Yes

***Edited to add***
Before anyone leaves a comment telling me what a nice mom I am, you should know this:
Sunday evening I told the kids they could not keep a baby stroller they had picked up out of a "free pile." They have a habit of bringing stuff home, breaking it, and leaving it lay around the yard. And I, for one, am tired of the junk and cleaning up messes.
I got an ear-full from my kids over that NO. Heard about how I ruin all their fun; it isn't fair that I won't let them keep the stroller; they won't break it this time; I don't understand; I'm mean; and all that stuff.
Like I said in the video, I am trying to say YES more often. But I am not about to let the kids take over and have them think they run the show.

Aaaaa, motherhood.
Sometimes you're a hero, and sometimes you're the rottenest, meanest, un-coolest person alive.
Know what I mean? *grin*

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Friday, June 19, 2009

This Week's WORD

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1
In a week of disappointment and discouragement, of tears and trials; in the midst of the noise and sometimes wondering how I'm going to come through it with my sanity intact; in the face of a pre-pubescent child whose life mission seems to be bringing me to my wits' end, I am so thankful for this faith God has given me. I am so thankful that I don't have to trust in what I see, but that I can be sure of God's faithfulness and that which I do not see with my physical eyes.

May you hear Him clearly as He speaks to your heart.

See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Listening Through the Noise

God is simply amazing. Perfectly faithful, and always loving.

And He speaks, even when it's noisy.

Let me fill you in on what's been going on in my heart for the past several days.
Last week was particularly difficult for me, and I had a recurring sense that God was telling me I needed to listen to Him.
That word just kept coming to my mind.
I thought it would be great if I could spend a couple days this week alone with God at a retreat center near my home. I was frazzled with motherhood, and very eager to hear whatever it was that God wanted to say to me. My heart was aching for this retreat!
My mother-in-law was going to come over to stay with the kids so I could really have peace of mind while I was retreating and I was sooooo looking forward to it. Then I called the retreat center Monday and discovered they were completely booked this week. No room for me.
And I cried.
I knew God was not surprised by the news, but I couldn't help wondering, Don't You want to be alone with me? Don't You have something You want to speak to my heart? Don't You love me??? Of course, I knew in my head those questions were not true, but at the moment the weariness and disappointment of my heart were over-riding all rational thought processes.
My hopes for a retreat next week were dashed when I remembered that my mother-in-law is going to be out of the state. A handful of other disappointments and frustrations were falling on me, too.
Although I knew God was still good, I just wanted to run away, change my name to something besides "Mom," be free from the bickering and arguing that my kids couldn't seem to do without, and simply rest in the quiet - where, surely, I could hear God speak.

But then friends started praying for me (Thank you!) and I got emails encouraging me to listen to Him at home, in the midst of the noise. I got a horrendous headache Monday night and couldn't control my tears, but my son gave me a wonderful hug and my daughter made a very sweet card for me - and I started to hear God telling me He loves me.
Then there was the song Tuesday morning, more words of encouragement from friends, a fun evening of exercise with my daughter, and Heaven's blog post Wednesday, and I was convinced that I could, indeed, listen to God through the noise.

Oh, I still intend to go to that retreat center. It may not be for a few more weeks, but I know I still need to have that time alone.

Yet, while I didn't understand on Monday why God would allow such disappointment, while I was wondering how this sequence of events could possibly be an expression of His love for me, while I was so desperate to just get away, He has reminded me - gently and faithfully - that His ways are perfect, that He does love me, and that I can listen through the noise.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Love that Won't Walk Away

So thankful for friends - real-life friends and blogging friends. Thankful for the ways God speaks and gives me hope.
Tuesday morning I was listening to one of my favorite CDs while I was getting ready and this song played. I know this song well - even sing it sometimes when I'm speaking. But I heard it in a new way Tuesday, after the awful, awful night I had Monday.

Some days are easier than others - That's for sure.
It may hurt, it may bruise, it may leave you confused - Yep. Been there.
His kind of love is a love that won't walk away - I am clinging to that one!

I hope you can take a few minutes to listen. May God bring you hope as you do!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Need Some Good News

Jesus Christ left the glory of heaven and came to earth to pay the price for my sins, so that I could be reconciled to God and enjoy eternal life.

God is still on His throne. Nothing can remove Him from it.

God's goodness and faithfulness are not dependent upon my circumstance.

Perfect is HIS title. And everything about Him is perfect - His timing, His will, His love, and His ways. Everything.

I sat with tears in my eyes after yet another disappointment Monday afternoon and simply prayed, God, I need some good news. I just need some good news now.
The statements above are the things that came to my mind.
And they are, indeed, good news.
Friends, I am in a very fragile emotional state at the moment. I'm OK writing about it, but please don't ask me to talk or I am likely to burst into tears. (I'm pathetic like that!)
But I know that God is still good.
He is still on His throne.
My salvation is secure.
God loves me, He knows what He is doing, and I can trust Him. Even though I don't understand Him right now, I can trust Him. Amen?

Wondering how many of you reading these words are going through a similar experience right now.
Let's pray.

Father in heaven, thank You. Thank You for the good news that Jesus Christ died to pay the price for our sins, so that we could be in a relationship with You and live with You for all eternity. Thank You that a day is coming when we will have no more tears, no more sorrow, no more misunderstandings or disappointments, but that all will be well because we will be with You.
Thank You, Father, that You do not change with our circumstance, but that You remain the same. Yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. And because of that, we can cling to You with certainty. When our situation is uncertain, You are constant and we can depend upon You.
God, I need You to hold me. I need You to speak tenderly to me and remind me gently that You have my best in mind - that You're working it out.
And Lord, You know the needs of each woman praying with me now, so I am asking the same thing for her. I am asking You to speak tenderly to her, to wrap Your arms around her and let her know Your presence, Your care, Your goodness.
Thank You, Father, for Your love. I praise You for Your power and Your faithfulness. I thank You for Your grace and patience. I need You, Lord, and I am so thankful for Your presence in my life.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Perfect is HIS Title

As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.
Psalm 18:30-32

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Friday, June 12, 2009

This Week's WORD

When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him.
Numbers 7:89

Maybe this verse stood out to me because I had just finished reading twelve identical lists of offerings which were brought to the LORD for the dedication of the tabernacle, as well as a list summarizing the twelve lists. Maybe my eyes were just happy for a change of pace.


No. Truly, I know this verse stood out to me this week because I was drawn to the idea of going into a room and hearing the voice of the LORD. I thought about what an amazing experience that must have been for Moses. I wished I could have that experience, too.
And then I told God I was sorry for wishing for something He has not given me. God reminded me of the wonderful ways He has spoken to me, though I have never heard His voice. Oh, that the Lord of the Universe cares enough about me that He speaks to me - through His Word, through my circumstances, even in the blowing of the wind. (That's a post for another day!)
I stand amazed. Thankful and in awe.

May your spirit be sensitive to His voice today. See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Right on Cue, a re-run

I have been without a computer for the past few days. Fortunately (providentially?), last week I managed to write and schedule posts through yesterday, so my blog was able to function un-interrupted. *grin*
Now I have my computer back but I am swamped with email and don't have time to write something new. Sooooo, I am relying on my archives for today's post. I pulled this one from a couple of years ago and hope you enjoy it!

By the way, I have heard from one blogger that she's having trouble leaving comments here. Anyone else experiencing the same thing? Please email me and let me know. Thanks! karen@irritablemother.com

I wonder if your house is anything like mine. Being the "homemaker" it seems like I'm the one who does most of the work to keep this family fed, clothed, and clean. Though the kids take their dishes to the kitchen (with occasional reminders) it seems I'm the only one who can put cereal boxes away. Somehow, no one else seems to notice milk puddles on the table or bits of cereal spilled on the floor, and therefore, no one else cares to clean it up. And why is it no one else (I'm thinking DH here) can put clean dishes away in the cupboards?
Well today is Friday and, in my house, that means laundry day. So this morning as I was folding clothes and taking them upstairs, I put the kids' clothes on their beds or dressers. Sometimes I put their clothes away for them, but I want to get in the habit of getting them in the habit of doing it. After all, that's what my mom did!
I went into my bedroom and sat the laundry basket on the floor so I could make the bed. As I have done before, this morning while I was making the bed I wondered, Why is it I'm the only one in this marriage who seems able to make the bed? I decided after I was finished and put my folded clothes away, I would set Brian's clothes on the bed for him to put away. (Reading a little sassiness into that last statement would be entirely appropriate.)
Just after I'd completed that thought, the phone rang. It was Brian. He was at Home Depot to buy carpet for recovering the steps leading up to our front porch. Just wanted to know what color I wanted before he made the purchase. We settled on gray, I thanked him for checking, hung up the phone and went back to making the bed.
As I was tucking in the sheets I considered how thoughtful it was for Brian to get my input on the carpet. I reminded myself how nice it's going to be to have those steps fixed - a job I certainly cannot do, which I'm so glad Brian is doing. Then I thought of how much work he put into making our porch look nice.
The other day I asked him to take the seat out of the van so I could bring home the boys' new dresser. Then I asked him to put the seat back in.
And every time I have a problem with my computer, or don't understand how to do something on it, I ask for his help. He always helps.
Oh yeah, and it's summer, which means I like to have more things for dinner on the grill. I don't even know how to light the grill. Brian always takes on grilling responsibilities.
All of a sudden, I found myself thanking God for this wonderful man who loves me and serves me and takes care of our family - even if he doesn't wipe spilled milk or make the bed - and I prayed for him while I put his clothes away.

This morning I was reading in the Gospel of Mark and noted Jesus' ability to know the hearts and thoughts of men. He knew when the teachers of the law were questioning His deity. (Mark 2:8) He heard the Pharisees question His disciples about the company Jesus was keeping. (Mark 2:16-17) When they were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus on the Sabbath, He knew that, too. (Mark 3:1-6) And Jesus spoke Truth into each of these situations.
I couldn't help but notice this morning when I was grumbling in my spirit as I made the bed how, right on cue, the phone rang and God spoke Truth to me as He reminded me what a wonderful servant-husband I have.

Thanks, Brian. I love you and I appreciate everything you do!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Encouragement for Burnt Out Mom and Failure Mom

In looking at the keyword activity on my stat tracker I have learned an interesting thing. Almost every single day, someone(s!) comes to Surviving Motherhood by searching the terms "failure mom" or "burnt out mom." That's a lot of hurting moms, if you ask me, so today I want to devote this blog to encouraging moms who are nearing their wits' end.
If you find yourself here as a result of an internet search for one of these terms(or a similar one), Welcome! I am so glad you're here and I do hope you find the encouragement you need today.
And if you find yourself here because you are a regular reader, Welcome to you, too! I trust God will speak to you as well. Because if we're honest, each of us moms has days when we're burnt out and feeling like a failure.

First, a word to Failure Mom:
OK, I realize this may be the first time you've met me, but will you trust me when I say, You are NOT a failure?
Mothering is hard. I know it! Believe me, I have felt like a failure many, many times.
But by the grace of God, alone, I have come to understand that I am not a failure. And you aren't either.
Yes, there are days we fall short.
We lose our tempers.
We do things wrong.
We disappoint our children.
And ourselves.
We wonder what God was thinking when He made us mothers.

But in those days I have found the grace and mercy of God to be richer and sweeter than I ever imagined possible.
My friend, God does not look upon you as a failure. He doesn't expect you to be perfect. In fact, Perfect is His Name alone. And He, being Perfect, is able to extend grace and mercy to you in the midst of your struggle.
He knows you cannot do this mothering thing - or any of life - on your own. Truthfully, He doesn't want you to do it on your own. God, Himself, will help you.
Yes, Perfect will carry you through. Just call out to Him!

Second, a word to Burnt Out Mom:
Oh, friend, I have been in your shoes, too. Let's see, today I'm guessing you might be feeling tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, irritated, alone, angry, ready to quit.
Have I missed anything???
Mothering is hard!
Yes, I know, I already said that. But it's true! And sometimes we feel like we have to give and give and give, and we simply don't know from where the next "give" is going to come. We are sucked dry, over-worked, under-appreciated, fed up, and burnt out.
And we want to quit!
Is any of this resonating with you?

Well, Burnt Out Mom, may I suggest that there is one item from the list above which is not true - no matter how much you feel like it?
Regardless of how you feel, you are never alone.
You are not alone in your struggle - all of us mothers struggle in one way or another.
And you are not alone in your striving - God is with you. Always.
I have faced days in which I have wondered how I was ever going to make it to "tomorrow," and somehow, God always brought me through. At times I have been certain I did not have the strength to deal with one more request, the patience to listen to one more complaint, or the kindness to play one more game. I have wanted to cry out, I can't do this, God. It is too much for me!
But that is when He reaches out and says, Allow Me. And He gives me the strength, the patience, the kindness - to do what I cannot do.
Burnt Out Mom, God will help you, too. Just ask Him!

And to both of you, to all of you - Failure Mom, Burnt Out Mom, Overwhelmed Mom, Frustrated Mom, Desperate Mom, Irritable Mother *grin*, or whatever other name suits you today, please accept my invitation to receive a copy of the Irritable Mother's Survival Kit. The Kit is something I wrote - a collection of ideas - about the things that help me make it through my irritable moments. It's absolutely free, and you can sign up for it on my homepage.

And now, may the grace and mercy of our faithful and perfect God carry you through this day.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pay Backs

Last week when I was picking the boys up at school, Joshua asked if he could go to Jay's house to play. Jay's mom wasn't at school yet, but he told me he'd gotten permission the day before to have Joshua over that afternoon. Initially, I wanted to say no (That is always my first reaction. What fun am I???) but I thought again and reasoned it would do no harm to let Joshua stay at school until Jay's mom got there to confirm their plans. (I would have stayed, but I needed to take Matthew to an appointment.)
We agreed that if Joshua went to Jay's house, he would call me when he got there and we would decide what time I was to come and pick him up.
We agreed, and I felt everything was good.
But when I got home from Matthew's appointment, Joshua hadn't called. So I looked for the school directory to call Joshua myself. But I couldn't find this year's directory and last year's directory had the wrong number. And Jay's phone number wasn't listed in the phone book.

And after all this looking, Joshua still hadn't called.

To top it off, I didn't even know where Jay lived. OK, I knew what road he lived on, but the road is several miles long. Knowing the road didn't make me feel like I knew anything.
My son wasn't calling, I didn't have the right phone number, I didn't know where he was, and although I had absolutely NO rational reason to be worried about him, I felt uneasy because he hadn't called.
After I had a chance to go through my "I'm a terrible mother" routine, beating myself up for letting Joshua go to Jay's house without personally talking to Jay's mom first, Joshua called.
At first I was upset with him. I figured he had been having too much fun to remember he was supposed to call. And I am quite sure he heard my disposition in the tone of my voice. Our conversation was brief, I got Jay's address, and was on my way to pick Joshua up.

But something happened to me while I was driving to Jay's house.

God reminded me of one evening when I was seventeen years old.

I was in my high school's musical. Went to a cast party after the show one night and was having fun with my friends. Then one of my friends suggested we go out to get something to eat at Denny's. That sounded good to me, so we went.
And we were having fun!
Laughing, goofing around, being care-free teenagers. Finally we decided we ought to go home.
So we left.
And when my friend dropped me off, I was met by my worried and upset mother. She wanted to know where I had been. Why hadn't I called her when I left the cast party? What had I been doing? Didn't I know she was worried about me? She had called the house where I had been at the cast party and found out I'd left a couple hours earlier. Now my dad was out driving around looking for me because my mom was so concerned.

Why hadn't I called???

Honestly? It never crossed my mind. I was with Mike and Stacy and we were just going to Denny's. I wasn't past curfew. We were fine. We were just having fun. Calling my mom simply never crossed my mind!

But, boy did I ever feel bad at that moment in time. What I wouldn't have given for a chance to do that one over. Instead I just went to my room and hoped my mom would still talk to me the next morning.

She did.

It was in reflecting on that scenario that my anger with Joshua subsided. Maybe he was having too much fun to call me. Maybe he needs to learn more about responsibility and accountability. I know one thing for sure: I am not letting him go to a friend's house again before I have talked to the other mom!
But I remembered that I messed up as a kid, too, and being mad at him wasn't the solution to the problem.
My mom forgave me.
I learned my lesson.
I knew I needed to extend grace to Joshua, too.

And what a delight it was to see the relief on his face when he realized I wasn't as mad as I apparently sounded on the phone.

As it turned out, Joshua did try to call after all. However, there were complications and he wasn't able to get through. We talked about what to do "if that ever happens again" and I think Joshua will do better next time.
But for this time, I am thankful for the reminder of my mom's grace to me and the opportunity to pass it on in the midst of being paid back for making my mom worry. *grin*

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

This Week's WORD

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.
Leviticus 17:11 (emphasis mine)
I am finishing up Leviticus this week and have been reminded how seriously God takes sin.
Regulations upon regulations.
Strict orders to follow.
Do it this way, not that way; at this time, not that time.
Be careful.
Be holy.
Sin is a problem, and God wanted it dealt with fully and sufficiently. There was a way to atone for sin, and He spelled it out clearly. Whew! Did He ever spell it out. Very dry reading sometimes!
As I read I was reminded how thankful I am for Jesus' sacrifice - for His blood which made atonement for my life. And yours.
I kept repeating that phrase to myself, It is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.
It is the blood.
It is His blood.
It is the blood of Jesus that has given me Life.
I do not need to take rams or sheep or doves to a priest to sacrifice for sin offerings and guilt offerings and peace offerings and fellowship offerings. I do not need to make sure I do it thus and so, according to the regulations and laws, lest I cause the offering to become unholy.
Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice. He has done it once and for all. Atonement has been made.
And I am so thankful!

May the JOY of knowing that Jesus has made atonement for your life fill you up today!!!

See you back here Monday.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

But Jesus Cares

If you haven't read yesterday's post, you'll probably want to. This one will make a lot more sense if you have the full story!

So, there I was at church, wearing my wig and hating it. Even though the wig was cute, I felt ugly. I knew what I looked like underneath and I was miserable.
The thing is, my sad feelings were intensified by the fact that I understood: The lack of hair really didn't matter. I knew that was true, thus the reality that I felt so bad about it made me feel even worse.
And when the worship leader prompted us to quiet down and encounter God, in my mind I found myself huddled down on my knees, weeping.
I wept for my insecurities, and I wept for my inability to "get over it."
I wept because I was so sad.

And then I noticed something by my head.

There were feet.

Someone was standing by me!

And when I looked up, I saw Who it was.

Jesus was standing there looking at me. But His eyes weren't saying, Get over it, Karen.
He reached down and rubbed the stubble on my head, and He touched my shoulder. And even though my tears were for something that really didn't matter, everything about Jesus in that moment spoke this very clear message: I care.

The concern of my heart at that moment had absolutely no eternal consequence.
But I was sad and insecure, and Jesus cared!

And with that realization - which did have eternal consequence - my tears flowed for real.
Jesus cares about my heart!
That Truth carried me for days and days, and still does whenever I remember that encounter.

Which brings us back to Joshua's request for sunless tanning lotion, and my position that a white belly just doesn't matter. My husband thought it would be OK to get the lotion for Joshua and I reluctantly agreed. But then the Spirit of God reminded me of the incident I just described here, and I realized another important Truth.

Jesus cares about Joshua's heart.

And because I am the hands of Jesus to my son, I need to reflect His care.
Because I want Joshua to see Jesus in me, I need to reflect His care.
Because I want to point Joshua to Jesus at all times, because I want Joshua to understand that he can go to God with every concern which burdens his heart, I need to reflect His care.
So I bought that tanning lotion for Joshua. And as I rubbed it on his belly and his back I prayed for my son. Prayed that he would grow in confidence of who he is in Christ. Prayed he would know the Father's love for him. Prayed he would be convinced of my love for him, too.
I truly enjoyed the opportunity to have my hands on him and pray. And because Joshua is always willing to have his back rubbed, he seemed to be enjoying the process as well.

In the end, the lotion made a very slight difference. At least Joshua didn't have a shocking white belly when he went on the field trip. But I am certain the factor of greater importance is that Joshua had his feelings validated. In ten years he likely won't care what color his tummy was when he went swimming with his fifth grade buddies.
But I pray he will remember that his parents cared about his feelings.
And I pray he will be confident of Jesus' perfect care for him.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It Really Doesn't Matter

Sunday night Joshua asked me if I would buy some sunless tanning lotion for him when I went to the store Monday. His class was going to take a field trip to a local athletic center this week - mainly to go swimming - and Joshua was feeling embarrassed by his very white belly. He has a pretty nice tan going on his arms and neck, but his tummy is almost a shocking white, and he didn't want to display it for all the other fifth graders on the field trip.

Honestly, my first reaction to Joshua's request was an immediate, No.
*I didn't want to spend the money.
*There are probably weird chemicals in the lotion.
*I doubted how much of a difference it would even make in the two days he would have to use it before the field trip.

But those excuses were really just veils for the real reason I wanted to say no.

I thought a white tummy really didn't matter
To me, Joshua's concern and insecurity simply wasn't important. He should just get over it and not worry about whether his friends laughed, or not. I mean, c'mon, in ten years is he really going to care if he had a very white belly when he went swimming with his classmates?
The solution to the problem was quite simple to me. Get.over.it.

Why waste time and energy on something that, in the grand scheme of things, really doesn't matter? Who would do that???

Uh, well, I did once.
OK, more than once. As a kid, you know!
Oh, and there was that time I did it as an, ahem, adult.
Yeah, I spent lots of time and energy being embarrassed and concerned and insecure about something that - in the grand scheme of things - really didn't matter.
I am referring to six years ago, when I had brain surgery and had all my hair shaved off my head.
Prior to that event, I had always had long hair. Loved to braid it and curl it and style it. When there were very special occasions I got to go to the salon and have a professional up-do. My hair was a part of me.
After my surgery I felt incredibly ugly and un-feminine, with the covering of stubble that was a sorry excuse for hair.
I had a wig which I wore to church. But I hated it. Other than that, I just wore a bandanna on my head and avoided going out as much as I could.
In my head, I knew this hair issue wasn't a big deal. I knew it really didn't matter. In the face of eternity, I knew long, flowing hair held no greater value than quarter-inch stubble.
Yes. I knew it all in my head.
But in my heart I was embarrassed and insecure. I felt ugly.
And one Sunday morning found me weeping about it at the feet of Jesus.

For the rest of the story, and an explanation of how my situation relates to Joshua's, come back tomorrow.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Is Worry a Sin???

I have been thinking about worry lately.

Quite frequently, actually.

Partly because I have read some thought-provoking quotes about it.
Partly because I have seen people engaging in it.
Mostly because I have been there myself.
And all this thinking about worry has me wondering, Is worry a sin?
Mind you, I am not worrying about that question. Just wondering. *grin*

I have gone back and forth on this one a few times.
On the one hand, there are people who say when you worry you are blatantly NOT trusting God. You're saying to Him, I don't believe You are big enough or wise enough or powerful enough to handle my situation. Never mind that You created the entire universe and now hold it in the palm of Your hand. I just don't think You can handle my circumstance. And this in-your-face distrust of God is a sin, so they say.
I can see the point a person like this is making - that having such an opinion of God is de-faming His character. And I don't ever want to de-fame my God!

On the other hand, there are people who say when you worry, you are only hurting yourself. You are simmering in unbelief and are missing out on the benefits and blessings of trusting God. They remind us God CAN handle our situation, and we are just cluttering our days with ulcers by worrying about it.
Certainly a softer line is taken by this type of person. But it is eye-opening just the same. Why would I want to ruin my days by worrying about something God can manage?

Even so, I still have to wonder, Is worry a sin? Even if I am the only one hurt by it?

I considered what some people had to say about worry, but what about what God says in the Bible? (NOT saying these people had not considered God's Word! But I know it is important for us to go to His Word ourselves, not just listen to how other people interpret it.)
And I could not find a place where God called it a sin to worry. If you have seen it - please point it out to me. But I couldn't find it.
I thought it interesting that in the gospels "worry" is mentioned sixteen times. And on nine of those occasions the words "do not" come immediately before it.
Besides simply saying, Do not worry, however, God has some other words for us. You may be familiar with verses like Luke 12:25,

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Or Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And how about 1 Peter 5:7?
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

As I thought about these verses and considered Jesus' response to those who came to Him with worry I became more convinced that worry is not a sin.

But I became even more convinced that worry is not His desire for us.

We do not delight His heart when we worry about our circumstances.
We do not enjoy the fullness of peace He offers when we worry about our circumstances.
We do not experience the intimacy of knowing our Father's care when we worry about our circumstances.

Oh, I am so prone to worry.
Maybe that's why God has had me thinking about it so much lately.
Because in thinking about it - in considering what happens to my heart and God's when I worry - I am compelled to throw myself at His feet and surrender every concern to Him.
I want to delight His heart as He looks at me and sees a woman confidently trusting her Maker.
I want to rest in the peace of knowing God will manage my every concern.
I want to encounter my Father and His love for me as I submit to believing that He will carry me.

God is, after all, the Creator of the universe - which He presently holds in the palm of His hand.
He can handle my situation.
And yours!
This week Shane is inviting bloggers to share our thoughts about worry. And she's sweetening the deal with a book give-away! I would love to read your thoughts - in the comment section or on your blog.

So, what do you think about worry?

Be sure to visit Shane and link up for the give-away if you decide to blog about it!
Edited to add: Ah, yes! I agree that to disobey God is to sin. No doubt about that. BUT, did Jesus say, Do not worry, as a command to be obeyed, or as part of a teaching to show us how to live the life He wants for us?
At the end of the Do Not Worry section in Luke, Jesus says, Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? To me that sounds like He is reasoning with His listeners, and I wonder, Does Jesus NEED to prove His point about sin, or is He simply reasoning with them to convince them that not worrying really is the better way to live?
Anyone know Jesus' intent with these words???

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Monday, June 01, 2009