Sunday, August 23, 2009

Scripture Meditation Proverbs 22:15

"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:5

I have been including Proverbs in my Bible reading throughout the year and I just read a few verses until I come to one that pulls on my heart. I then stop, meditate on the words and allow the Lord to kind of unveil and break down the verse for me. He usually does it by bringing to mind other supporting Scripture for me to go read alongside of it or by forming the verse into a practical word picture in my mind, so that it's easier to chew on. This particular verse came in my reading at just the right time, considering what's going on in my household.

My girls are now two years and 4 months old and we're well into the days of whining, manipulation, rebellion, stealing, and just plain old ugly behavior. I wrote recently that I have also been slowly reading Don't Make Me Count to 3, in which the author encourages readers to not be shocked by a child's sideways behavior, because they are sinners, so of course sinners sin! But on days when I roll out of bed and we're well into a wild breakfast with two two year olds while I am carrying a fussy baby around on my hip, it's easy to be shocked and irritated by sinful behavior.

This verse actually stirred up something different in me about this sinful behavior in my girls.

It says that folly is BOUND UP in the heart of my child. Something that is harmful for their well being and for their relationships with others is caught, bound, stuck in their hearts. They are prone to sin because it's what is bound in them. Seeing folly, or sin, as something that is bound up in them, is a word picture that aroused great compassion in me for them as I thought back on their behaviors. It made discipline feel less like a chore and more like a rescue. God is using me to "unbind" this harm with discipline. And, as if with a rod, I am driving it far from them. It's like I can see this harmful sin that was bound in their hearts in that moment, being driven away as I correct them, encourage them towards repentance, and help them to experience the grace of forgiveness.

As I was reading this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Hebrews 12 which talks about fathers disciplining the ones they love and then goes on to talk about how it feels to be disciplined. The last part of it says,

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Disciplining my girls is NOT PLEASANT. I know, Lord! I think his wording could not have been more right on here, because for sure it is not pleasant but also it is PAINFUL. Not just for the one getting the discipline, but also for me giving it! It is a really painful process to unbind the folly in my children's hearts.

But to consider the alternative is so devastating. The alternative would be to avoid this painful, sometimes altogether unpleasant process and to lazily avoid the reality that sin and folly is bound up in the heart of my child. To unresponsibly allow that sin to remain in my child without any attempt to drive it out, as with a shepherd's rod, is simply selfish and unloving. I think that may be one of the most profound ways parents today show their children that it's just too hard to love them well and it's just easier to float on by.

What I am anticipating is that promise for LATER ON. When we go through disicpline, LATER ON it produces a HARVEST of righteousness and peace. What a gift! I want this so badly for my children. I want them to be blessed with a harvest that I am helping them grow now, though they have no idea they are in the middle of a field. Living by the Word, by the ways of the Lord is not a religious obligation with no reward. It is life and peace and that last word righteousness means that we are like Jesus and that is a gift he himself gives to us as we lay our lives in his care.

And I am not above my own children. I am living this process as well. In some ways I am experiencing the "later on" harvest now, from ways the Lord has already disciplined parts of my heart. And in some ways I am going through the painful and unpleasant discipline of stubborn, hard headed places deep in my heart. Some of them are taking just years and years for the Holy Spirit to chip away at in me but I look to the promise of LATER ON and am willing to keep on, anticipating a harvest from all of Jesus' work in me, as well as my children. To God be the glory.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy List

All my kids were in bed tonight by 8:38pm. Usually it's by 9:30pm and I have about one hour to do whatever. I'm elated to have two ;)

I am eating HEALTHY and it feels really GOOD! It's not like I ever eat terrible. I plan my shopping once a week, never buy from the chip asile, and avoid my husband's stash of candy bars, but I just took healthy to the next notch and it feels great. I can feel my body changing and the scale has even winked at me a little bit. Here's a pic of my lunch I made today...spring greens with almonds, yellow pepper, carrots and topped with baked salmon.

Precious little Sa Sa is semi crawling, trying out his exersaucer and johnny jump swing thingy and is in general...out and about and on the move. Most people are like - "Watch out! They'll be all into everything!" when babies start moving, but I am ALL ABOUT IT and can't wait for him to run with the girls!

I am in a wedding in a month and the dress is oh so cute! I am excited to wear it! Here's a peak...

I never never buy new shoes. All summer I have been wearing my 3 strapped tevas that I bought like my freshman year of college (which was age 18...I am now 31). You get the picture. Well I had to buy shoes for the above mentioned wedding and went with some amazing heels. Ooh la la. I am very intimidated by them and have absolutely nothing that goes with them in my closet besides this wedding dress but I am determined to get them in the dating rotation with Jason. He's super pleased with my purchase ;).

A little thing...I have this pic of Grace watching Jason cut the grass. She stays so concerned for him the entire time he's out there, I think because of the loud noise. And she just stays glued to the glass door. It's super sweet. Our little bear has a very sympathetic, compassionate heart. It's the same heart that brings mammy and banket to Kanah if she's crying and the same heart that bursts into tears if she realizes mommy is upset with her. Sweet sweet Grace.

We go on vacation to Banks Lake next week!! Love it. Sun. Lakes. Cliffs. Boat. People helping me with my kids. Maybe even READING? Oh. Vaca I love you.

Tomorrow we are having a work party - woo hoo! Salem's nursery is still pink. Yeah. We have some things to accomplish: painting, pics on walls, girl's bedroom closet, pics and shelves in girls' room, and other such things. So happy.

Oh and I am definitely thankful for the WOMEN in my life lately! I'm loving my Thursday accountability group and think maybe I should do a featured post with pics and everything just on you ladies!

And hello...I'm so happy right NOW b/c jason got us takeout and a movie... :) ;) ;).


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Loving Backwards

They will know us by our love.

Scripture declares that people who don’t know the Lord will know him by the way we love each other in the body of Christ. If Jesus is really real, if the Holy Spirit is really within us and if one of God’s names is Love, then how we love each other will be a demonstration of God’s heart here on earth.

When I was in high school, being a Christian meant going to Pittsburgh and Brazil on mission trips to the inner city and the flavella to love on total strangers by giving them the gospel and working on their houses. Yet I didn’t chance talking to my own friends across the lunch table from me about Jesus because it would have been an unpopular thing to do. And I certainly didn’t love my parents by obeying them when they asked me to clean my room or be home from curfew without throwing them an attitude along with the reluctant obedience. Me going to Pittsburgh and Brazil was certainly love, and I will look back on those seasons with a full heart, but it’s easy to love when you go and do that for two weeks and then get back to your life that’s all about you.

Later on in Berkeley Jason and I spent our Saturdays once a month working with Oakland’s ministry to the homeless. It felt like a sacrifice because we loved our Saturdays together, loved exploring the greater Bay Area traveling and hiking and backpacking, so to take a Saturday kind of changed our weekends. This was a similar love to going on a mission trip but it was a good extension of it (as backwards as that sounds) because I was learning to do it in my own city. I was seeing some of the same faces each time, I was remembering names, and I was developing a heart over time for the same community. This was certainly a difficult love, but it was still a little disconnected from me and I could compartmentalize it to a Saturday outing. We didn’t work to make many friendships during those two years or hardly even get to know our neighbors, except when an elderly man named Gil across the hall would come out his door at the same time as us.

Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

What’s interesting about how Christians love is that we like to do it backwards. Often times we start by looking to love people at the ends of the earth and work back to our “Jerusalems”. We sign up for missions trips or get on the internet to look for ministries we’ve never heard of before that are exits and interstates and cities away from our home. Nothing is wrong with serving the Judeas and Samarias. What I am suggesting we’ve got backwards is that not many of us know how to start with loving the people right in front of our faces everyday. Me included.

In this season of having three children under two and a husband who has a full time job both at work and also at home, God is giving me a new love. And it’s inside of our Jerusalem. In fact it is within one house within our Jerusalem. It’s my husband and kids.

I’ll tell you. I used to see this very much as not enough. I think I have mentioned in a blog before, a long time ago, that about ten years ago I told my friend, who was a stay at home mom with two little kids, that she was wasting her life. Yes I am a little blunt, and yes that was rude and also not prayed over. But it came from this root I am talking about in this blog. You see, she is an amazing person and has many giftings and I had seen her use her heart and gifts to bless many people in “Samaria” and “to the ends of the earth.” So to see her within one home inside of only “Jerusalem” seemed…like a waste. And I don’t think it’d be a stretch to say that most of us struggle to see one house within our Jerusalem as being as valuable as one that is at the ends of the earth. When it comes down to it, there are people within our home and there are people in that home we want to serve at the ends of the earth. Both of them God loves, both of them God wants to see believers love on and both he sends people to. What I am suggesting is that something is more sparkly and interesting and exciting and flashy about the ends of the earth. Don’t you think?

I am also suggesting that even though our home and the immediate influences we have aren’t the most sparkly and flashy, they require the most love. Because no one else really recognizes that love as having a wow factor, so it takes great great humility. It takes the love of Jesus. And it also takes the love of Jesus because we see these people all the time. And we know their ugly parts. And they drive us crazy. The poor family at the ends of the earth doesn’t drive us crazy. No, our heart beats easily for them because they don’t get on our last nerve. All we have is compassion for them and we’re ready to love and serve. But our very household is most likely the most difficult place we will ever carry out the love of Jesus because it is so incessant and ongoing and vulnerable and ever present…and it exposes us.

Our home in “Jerusalem” shows us that we can’t love without Jesus. This is the very place we will experience the love of Christ the most. Because here we come to the end of ourselves. We cannot escape the issues, the struggles within our own home and we are all exposed and we all realize we need the name of God: Love, to fill us. Then we will truly learn what it is like to love everyone in Jerusalem and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

I am learning to love backwards. But if I think about it, God has been preparing me for greater and greater lessons on loving as he has led my heart closer and closer to my own home. Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Grace Seeker

1 Peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Today at church, I took notes furiously in my little pink moleskin journal as our pastor Mark preached. I really really really like preaching ;). I cannot believe how encouraged, spurred on, joyful and rebuked all at once my heart is when I hear the Word of God read aloud and preached on. It is the time I am most receptive to correction and when I am shouting inside the most, “feed me!” And today I feasted. I haven’t been in three weeks and so I was reminded in full how I had missed sitting at my pastor’s feet, sitting in the row with my friends, and worshipping among a crowd of somewhat strangers who are all closer than family because of our hearts.

I was encouraged today to be a “grace seeker.” Those words were not only good to my soul but that exhortation to me was already recognizably alive in my heart because it’s what the Holy Spirit has been whispering to me. Last year I read one of my favorite books called Humility, by CJ Mahaney. In one chapter he addresses the pride that exists underneath criticism. I wish I had it with me so I could quote like the entire chapter. But he says that one way to fight this criticism is to watch for evidences of grace in your life or perhaps in particular in the person’s life with whom you choose to be critical so that you can see what God is doing in you/them. Since reading that I have felt compelled the past six months or so to be watching and waiting for evidences of God’s grace in my marriage, my husband, and others I look at with criticism.

Pastor Mark was passionately emphatic about us opening our minds and our hearts to God’s grace. He reminded us that the Holy Spirit exists to show us God’s good. And this goodness, this grace, is all around us. There is common grace for all people, both believers and non, like the sun and the rain and other blessings. And there is saving grace which began in us when we became a believer and continues in various fruits from the Holy Spirit as we live and move and have our being. This grace is empowering because he can CHANGE us, our lives, our abilities to do something or make it through something. He is at work and the Holy Spirit can help us to see it. Mark said that when we get to the end of each day we should be able to look back and detect these graces throughout our day: what God is saying, what God is teaching, what God showed us about himself, what he did in our heart, how he changed something or made something new, etc.

The graces of God are everywhere.

Why did this get me? Why am I spending my free time Jason has graced me with here at Barnes and Noble writing about God’s grace? Because I am desperate for it. My faith is increased today in it. Because if God’s grace is real, then I can do what feels difficult and impossible and hard to me tomorrow and the next day and the next. Because his grace lifts me up, his grace helps me do what I cannot, his grace is empowering and strengthening. Grace is everything to me! I am overcome in my heart with gratitude for the GRACE OF GOD that exists in my life to carry me, enable me, encourage me, and make me capable of everything he has called me to do and say and be both now and every day of my life to come.

Thank you Jesus that I get to grow in the grace and knowledge of you. Please help this recognition that your graces are everywhere not just be an excitement today but make me able to see your graces now and everyday to come. Please encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to see you in everything they do and say and see, that they might be alive, like I am right this minute. Lord you are good. Your graces to us are good. Even to those who do not know you. Let your glory come. Amen – so be it.