Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shhh...

My husband, to our oldest boy, about our girl: She talks a lot, doesn't she?

Boy nods in agreement: Can you keep talking to her, so I don't have to?

(Our boy is so sweet and giving of his time. Everyone has their limits, I suppose.)





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Accounting

I read a lot of articles that speak to people like me...Wives, moms, middle-aged women, homeschool teachers, Christians in general. There are a few topics that seem to come up again and again. Modesty. Breast-feeding. Cell Phone use at the park. Pleasing our spouses. And so on, and so on...

I think I've reached my saturation point. Maybe I follow too many people who tend to say the same thing. Maybe there are just a lot of people who feel very strongly about these things. Maybe I waste too much time reading articles on the internet.

Or maybe we just need to get over ourselves and stop it.

Stop setting the bar for others.
Stop (passive-aggressively) telling your friends what choices they need to make.
Stop comparing and measuring what others do against that thing you read about those people who said what they said.
Stop passing judgment on one another.

I have written about judging others. I haven't written about Romans 14.

I've read this Romans 14 passage many times, enough that it just pops in to my head without me even trying to recall it. Just tonight, I realized that this passage needs to be read every single time I think I'm about to get into one of these discussions.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Romans 14:12-19

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(I started highlighting the good parts, but it's all the good part, so I didn't highlight it. Just go read it again if you skimmed the first time. And imagine that it's all highlighted because it's all the good part!)

It's about eating, but it's about a lot more than eating. It's about the choices we make. What's right and wrong...

You may have your own idea of modesty and what works for you. I have mine. They're probably different. That's okay.

We probably think differently about those moms with their phones at the playground. You know what? We can still be friends.

Breast-feeding? To cover or not to cover. That is the question... that we won't be talking about here.

There are plenty of others... Swearing, sharing, every little thing that they are wearing. Dating, waiting, how we spend our time recreating. (Okay, I may be getting carried away here. But did you at least catch the White Christmas reference?)

Anyway, you get the point. I think it's great to dig into these topics and figure out what the right thing to do really is. But there's not always a Bible verse that tells us the right thing to do. (When there is, of course that is the end of the discussion for me.) We are each responsible for the decisions we make. I will answer to God for my choices.

Until then, I really do appreciate the gentle guidance of those who care. Ultimately though, I am the one who decides for myself what is right. And I have no reason to try to force my opinions on others. If I try to do that to you, please gently remind me that you are responsible for yourself, as I am for myself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bedtime strikes again

She: I really appreciate the braid that you put in my hair today, even though it ended up getting messy.

Me: You know what?  You are a really sweet girl.  That's a really nice thing for you to say and I appreciate that you told me that.

She: Aw, you're welcome.

Me:  You know what? I love that about you... You are just so sweet.  I would love you even if you weren't this sweet, but you sure make it easy for me to love you.

She:  I would love you even if...

Me: *hands on my hips*

She: ...even if...

Me: *grinning at her in the dark, hands still on my hips*

She: You're just awesome.

You can't help but love this girl


Sunrise, Sunset

This was the scene at 9:15 this morning:

My kids are at the table playing one of our favourite board games, Ticket to Ride, and the youngest starts singing the guitar riff from the beginning of "God's Not Dead" (the Newsboys' song). The others can't help it... They join in.

I ask if they want me to put some music on for them and they all unanimously cheer, "Yea!" I start the playlist of our current Christian favourites and they sing along as they keep playing.

This is a great way to start the day.

~

Yesterday, my girl got in trouble for doing something. (To be honest, this is a rare happening in our house.)  After the shedding of many tears, she and Dad went out for an already-planned bicycle and ice cream date. When they got home at dusk, she bounced in the door, happier than a lark, singing and smiling and hugging.

I had just finished tucking in the two boys, taking time to talk to them about the day and encouraging them in making good decisions the following day. As I was closing the second boy's door, she came up to me and asked me to tuck her in.  

I walked into the room and plopped down beside her on the bead.  We chatted about the day, her date with Dad, and the resolution of the problem that caused so many tears.  She smiled through it all, telling me the good and the bad, and saying that it was a good day because she started happy and she ended happy.

And then, after we prayed together and hugged and kissed, she said something that stuck with me.  "Mom, I like it when you tuck me in because we get to talk for a while.  I like talking with you."

Oh, I hope it stays that way.  I hope she wants these tuck-ins for a good long while still.  I like talking with her, too.

This is a great way to end the day.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Changing Course

Well, that didn't go as planned.  I gave it a week and after 125 people clicked over to see how I wanted to Do Something, four people commented with the name of a charity that was trying to do something. I had planned to donate money and I will.  I'll check back at the end of the month and randomly choose a charity to receive $50 from the comments at that time.

In the meantime, I've learned a few lessons this week:

1.  I need to stop trying so hard - People will read this page if they really want to know what I have to say.  Otherwise, I just need to stop pestering people.

2.  I'm not Matt Walsh  - That is to say, I'll never be the kind of blogger who impacts multitudes of people. I will never have a lot of people reading what I write, I won't make a big difference on the world, and that's okay.  I make a difference to the immediate people around me, and that's enough.

3. I need to stick to writing for my kids - When I started, I wanted to transcribe the fun and the funny, kind of like an online scrapbook. I realize that I have tried to make this more than it intended to be.

4. Numbers don't matter - I need to stop looking at numbers.  They don't matter.  People matter.  If I can make a difference to people, just the small handful around me, then I am doing a Good thing.

~

I want to apologize...

If it seemed like I was trying to get bigger, well, I probably was. I'm sorry for that. I won't use my readers to try to generate more blog traffic.

I have removed any ads that I could from my page.  I never made any money from them anyway.
I'm not planning on updating my blog's Facebook page.  It rarely generated any meaningful conversation.  I will, in fact, be removing it.

I will continue to write about our life as a family as we learn, love, and laugh together.

If you want to walk with us, please continue to do so.  We're happy to have you along the way.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Do Something

There's this song that has been playing on Christian radio stations a lot lately. It echoes the words of many who are frustrated at the suffering that we all see in the world. People do evil things, nature tears our homes apart, and we blame God. "God, why don't you do something?"

Listening to these lyrics, I thought, "People who are mad at God need to hear this."

And then I thought, "You know what? I need to hear this." And you might too...


Do Something
by Matthew West

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something...

(Click the link below to hear the song in its entirety.)


If you are sick and tired of the suffering in this world, do something about it. There are so many organizations who are helping in very real ways. They aren't just feeding starving masses, they are teaching them how to farm. They aren't just healing their diseases, they are teaching them to how stay healthy. They aren't just pulling people out of slavery, they are giving them love and teaching them how to live a meaningful life for themselves.

I can't do it all. You can't do it all. But together we can each do something. 

I'm going to do something...

Please comment below with the name of an organization that is helping in ways that I listed above. For every comment written below, on this blog post, I am going to donate $0.25 to charities that are doing something. One will be my choice, Amazima Ministries, Katie Davis's organization in Uganda which serves the poorest of the poor, and the other will be from a random comment from below, to a maximum of $100 ($50 to each organization.) 

It doesn't need to stop there either. I'd love for someone else to step up and offer to keep the donations going. $10, $50... Every bit makes a difference.

Ready to change the world?

Go!


Friday, July 4, 2014

Blessing and Suffering - Part Two

I wrote in my previous post, Blessing and Suffering - Part One, about the word "blessing" and how we can abuse and misuse it. Please read it before reading this one. 

Abuse and misuse of the Bible isn't limited to the word "blessing." I think that if we misuse any section of scripture, we can really mess up people who aren't fully grounded in the Word. Those who haven't searched out the Truth for themselves, but rely on what other Christians have to say, are at the whim of our faulty turns of phrase and misconceptions about God's Word. (This is why I'm always stressing context and looking at the chapter(s) around a verse in order to understand it better.)

My dear friend is struggling right now with the thought that a loving God blesses me with health and wealth, relative to the rest of the world, and lets a child starve to death in another part of the world. “Why do I receive physical blessings and the child in Africa does not? Does God play favourites? He is omniscient and all-powerful, so he should be able to just make everything right. No loving father would let his child suffer when he can intervene. He's either a sick, twisted God, or he's not real.

I think there is a third option. God is neither sick, nor twisted, nor is He made up. I propose that the gap in our understanding has more to do with our own imperfect understanding of God than God's lack of desire to “make things right.”

Please read that again. Our inability to understand why God does this or that has more to do with our own imperfect understanding of God than God's lack of desire to “make things right.”

I cannot control God, neither can I fully understand Him.

W
hen I use the Bible to say that God's gifts and blessings are physical, then of course you'll think that my wealth and health are extremely unfair. I'm going to be radical here and use a word that many Christians try not to use. I'm just plain old lucky. (I saw one of you twitch right there. Bear with me as I trudge along this muddy path.) I beat the odds so far. Luck, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

I try to make pretty good decisions, living according to the morals and ethics that God delineated in the Bible. And I was born into a family that lived that way, so it's kind of been all I know. I don't engage in dangerous behaviours, and I try to avoid putting toxins in my body. I am healthy and have all that I need for survival (and so much more.) The truth is that there are plenty of people who live their lives the same, making the same decisions, and they are afflicted with brutal, ultimately fatal, diseases.

So why? Why does all this bad stuff have to happen?

I explained it to my kids this way: I could write a computer program to say, “I love Wanda” every time I hit a button.

Plunk - “I love Wanda.”
Plunk - “I love Wanda.”
Plunk - “I love Wanda.”


But do you think that would really do much for me? Would I feel loved because I programmed my computer to tell me it loves me? Uh, no. How about my kids... What if I forced my kids to say they loved me, every morning when they woke up, regardless of what they really think? Do you think that I would really feel loved by them? Uh, no.

Relationships work best when there is choice involved. Some mornings, my son comes up to me and says, “I like snuggling with you. You're so warm and cozy and nice. You're the best mom ever!” My heart melts. I'll take that over a programmed computer any day.

And that's what God did. He created this world and the people in it. And he gave them choices. He knew what the choice would end up being, and what the result of that was, and I'm sure he grieved over it. But he wanted the relationship to be a two-way relationship. Otherwise, we would be equivalent to programmed robots, going through life with no emotion, no choices of our own. And with imperfect choices and imperfect people comes an imperfect world.

Creation is decaying as a result of sin. Romans 8 discusses this, as do Isaiah 2 and Genesis 3. As Genesis suggests, our genetic makeup is moving away from perfection, not evolving into better health as Darwinians would have us believe. We are subject to the natural laws of this cursed earth.

Yes, there are miracles and there are times when God intervenes. Why does he choose one to receive the miracle and not another? Only God knows. Just as a parent knows and understands why one child receives a benefit that another child does not, only God can say why one lives while another dies.

But, without wanting to sound uncaring, I want you to understand that the 20, 40, 80, 106 years that you are on this earth are so insignificant in light of eternity. It is best summed up in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
God's perspective is so much greater than ours. I trust that he knows what he's doing.

I'll leave you with a few quotations from Katie Davis, author of “Kisses From Katie.” She went to Uganda to do mission work and ended up staying there, ministering to, and bettering the lives of, thousands of people in the process. But more importantly, she brought the love of Jesus to these people. She is Jesus's hands and feet to thousands of people in Uganda, day in and day out.

Katie spent a year in Uganda and then came back to the USA to fulfill a commitment she had made. Sitting in her room with all of the stuff that she had in the States, she marvelled at the difference in the two lives. She writes in her book, “I hadn't realized what a transformation had taken place while I had been in Uganda, the spiritual richness I had experienced in material poverty and the spiritual poverty I felt now in a land of material wealth.”

Elsewhere she says, “I'm running from things that can destroy my soul... I am much more terrified of living in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy.” Perspective. It's important. We are chasing fleeting dreams and temporal riches and totally forgetting what should be most important to us.

One more word from Katie Davis, “Do not forget in the darkness what you have been promised in the light.” There is much darkness in this world. Be blessed as you find the light that is promised.

Ready to do something about the suffering in this world?  Keep reading...