Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting Serious and Getting On My Knees

I don't want this to be a post based on emotions. I don't want to respond to a whim and do something just for the sake of doing it. I cringe at this. I'm wrestling even with sharing the ideas in this post, because I'm not sure what will happen in the days ahead.

But I do want to obey and I do want to be closer to my God. And so I think it's time to get serious. For a long time I've known that prayer is a weakness in me. It's something I don't really understand. It's a part of my relationship with God that I do, but not as I think it's meant to be done. I think I'm missing the depth and richness that should be there and settling for something less. I don't want that. In John Tadlock's book, When It's Rush Hour All Day Long, he relates a story about a boy who goes to see a circus. He's never seen one before, and is very excited by the parade of animals and clowns. In fact, he's elated and estatic. After the traditional circus parade, he hands the last clown the money his father gave him for the circus and leaves. He went home thinking he'd seen the circus when he'd only seen the parade. often do I leave God's presence thinking I've prayed, when I've only had a taste of what he means for me to experience?

So, what will I do? I don't want to start a program or walk through a bunch of legalistic steps without meaning. I don't want to add more to my plate or make an artificial schedule. But I do want prayer to be a focus in my life. I want to pursue God in this area and ask Him to relentlessly pursue me. (Even if that really scares me!) I know it's all got to be about relationship.

This morning during church something struck me on this topic. Our pastor preached a great sermon based on Mark 4:35-41. And God was speaking to me about the points Pastor was making, but you know how it is. Your mind drifts a bit to other things and somehow God might also speak to you about those things. Sure enough, in the midst of thinking about storms, the people who make up our church, and prayer, God seemed to suggest that I get serious about prayer by taking some time away. Suddenly out of nowhere, the idea came that I should focus on prayer for the next 40 days. Just as Jesus withdrew to the wilderness for 40 days, just as God sustained Elijah for 40 days, just as Noah was in the ark 40 days, He seemed to invite me to spend 40 days with Him and prayer. I get the sense that I'm to study about prayer and also pray during this time.

Now I'm not going off to the wilderness, and life with Little Man and Dear Husband isn't going to change and allow me to have HOURS of quiet time. So, I'm not sure how things will change. BUT I do know that I am going to be investigating prayer. I'm going to search Scripture and seek to hear what God has to say to me about prayer. I'm going to pray for two things during this time. One, I'm going to pray that God would change my relationship with Him and teach me about relating to Him by being and not by doing. Second, I'm going to be praying for my church family.

I didn't get the sense though that I was to be totally alone in this venture. So, I invite you to also begin a 40 day journey with God. Is there something you need to focus on in prayer for a season? Do you also struggle with prayer and want to learn more? I hope sharing about our 40 days will be a source of accountability and encouragement.

Well, I better start packing for the next 40 days. Do you think I should bring along some knee-pads?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where did she go?

I'm still here. I'm still pondering. I'm still following. Just been a bit too busy to sit and blog. I've missed the processing that happens when I sit down and write. Some rainy days and moving blogging up to a higher priority on the "to do" list has brought me here this afternoon.

So what's all the "busy"ness been about? Mostly good things. Working on things for Vacation Bible School,
getting ready for a visit from family,
and putting together a new garden area.
Plus, making time for relationships, being wtih Dear Husband, caring for Little Man, and keeping our home in order. Needless to say I think I'll be tackling spring cleaning clear up to winter, but that's okay. I've enjoyed having things to do, especially the physical work of breaking sod and hauling dirt. (Yeah, I've got my farmer's daughter muscles again!)

During this stretch of "busy"ness though, I have had some things gnawing at me. First of all, I've found it harder to sit with God when quiet time seems to be needed to fill by many demands. I've not looked forward to meeting with Him the same way, and I want to rekindle that feeling. I've not taken as much time to listen, and wonder what joys I've missed. I've not savored His Word and counted all the richness that is there. I still wrestle greatly with taking time to focus in prayer. And so I know I need to make some adjustments before my whole world is out of alignment.

Second, God's been trying to speak to me about something. Our Women's Ministry group gave all the moms at church a book called "When It's Rush Hour All Day Long" for Mother's Day. The book ended up falling out of my bag and hiding in a door pocket in our car. It wasn't until a friend of Little Man's found it one day that I realized what had happened. I carried it into the house and opened it up one night after a busy day. I was struck by the topic of hurry-sickness that is addressed by this book and am working my way through it's pages with that peculiar feeling that someone is writing about someone I know very well.

The book, along with Psalm 39:6, a verse I encountered this morning, has made me pause a bit to ask some questions. "We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing." So, what am I so busy doing? AND more importantly why am I doing it? I'm not sure I like the answers. I'm busy often doing things that seem to be fine. Taking care of my family. Helping others in my church. But the why that I'm doing some of it doesn't make those things look as good. I'm often busy doing because I want approval. My dad's recent visit was an eye-opener in this area. My dad is a wonderful dad. (I'm sure you'll read more about him come Father's Day.) I've always had his approval. But I've also always wanted it and worked to get it. This past year my husband and I moved and this was the first time my Dad would be coming to see our new home. I was busy doing for days, trying to get things extra special. Why did I push myself so hard? Why did I sacrifice time with important things for this? I wanted approval. And I see that in a lot of things recently.

The thing that gets me, is that I know what I need most is God's approval. AND I know I have that. I know it in my head. I know that I'm loved. I know that I'm loved not for what I do, or how I act, or anything else. I'm loved because that's God's nature. I'm loved because He is love. But I'm struggling to really understand that somewhere in my heart and then to live from that. Maybe that's why I've been also struggling to memorize Ephesians 3:18-19, my memory verse challenge verses for this half of the month. "And may you have the power to understand as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is to great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." And after writing that down for you all, I guess I'm seeing that what I'm seeking to understand really isn't that easy to understand, at least not without God's power.

So now that you've caugt up on things with me, how are you? What have you been busy doing? Is busyness a battle in your life? And do you REALLY understand how much you are loved? Keep pressing on!

Friday, May 8, 2009

She Taught Me That

As I've walked another year down the path of motherhood, I 've realized so much more the valuable lessons that my Mom modeled for me.

I get up before Little Man and begin to order the day. She taught me that.

I make time to read God's Word and talk to my Father before much else happens in the day. She taught me that.

I make breakfast for Dear Husband and Little Man and serve them with a heart of love. She taught me that.

If Dear Husband is going to work in the morning, Little Man and I send him off with hugs and kisses and go to the window to wave him a sendoff. I whisper a prayer for his day. She taught me that.

I work on a daily task to manage the home, whether it be doing a load of wash on a certain day of the week, dusting on Wednesdays, or quickly mopping the floor during a seemingly "free" moment. She taught me that.

I take time to talk and play with Little Man and value the time we have together, because we're not always sure what tomorrow may hold. She taught me that.

I make lunch and serve it and try my best to keep what we eat interesting and use our money in a responsible way. She taught me that.

I take a break in the afternoon (on most days) while Little Man is sleeping, because although my job is to serve my family, I won't be very good at it over a long time if I don't take time to renew myself. She taught me that.

I putter around at tasks like gardening and working in flower beds, or doing other projects during the winter months when I can't be outside, because these things can be a blessing in many ways. It may produce food for the table, an atmosphere of well-being, or a gift that encourages and shares love. She taught me that.

I bake special things for family, friends, and needs because there's nothing like home-cooked food. She taught me that.

I serve my church family in ways that I sense God is leading. Whether it be cleaning the church, teaching children, or walking alongside other women in the church, I try to be faithful. She taught me that.

I wrap up a day with bath time, snack time, and bed time books, songs, and prayers. I put my Little Man to bed with love and prayer. She taught me that.

I clean up the house before going to bed. I do what I may not want to most do, but should do. She taught me that.

My Mom taught me this and much more. She taught by example. There are things in her example that I am not good at yet and want to learn. I want to learn more how to respect and support Dear Husband and the challenges he faces and dreams he has. I want to have more of an attitude of gentleness and quietness and contentment. I want to give with a selfless love. I want to control my emotions. I want to pray faithfully. I want to see what I have as it truly is, God's, and give liberally. I want to mother my children so that they can stand firm in the Lord. I want to walk in obedience and trust that God will use me if I'm following Him.

How thankful I am for my Mom and how much I miss her. My mom passed away almost 5 years ago. For some reason this Mother's Day the loss seems fresher and the sorrow stronger. I know very well that she is in glory, but that doesn't stop wanting to have her share in my experiences here. I'm grateful for all that God gave us while we were together. It's just that I want more.

So, hug your Mom today. Tell her now how much she means to you. And if you are a Mom keep striving to be a woman after God's own heart. (Remember there are many who have never experienced physical labor and yet are working on true labors of love in their spiritual daughters!) I know that I'm counting on God to make me the Mom my Little Man needs.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

National Day of Prayer

My heart strings have been tug a lot recently, even though I've not been posting anything. Maybe it's because I'm now a Mom with a little one that will be making his way through this world, or maybe I'm just at a different place in my walk with the Lord, but today National Day of Prayer is tugging at my heart. I'd like to share a clip that I found over at Your Word Is Life, a thoughtful blog that I keep an eye turned to often.

May we all find time today, privately and coorporately, to lift our hearts and our nation in prayer before our great, awesome, gracious, and merciful King.

Friday, May 1, 2009

To everything there is a season...

A time to blog and a time not to blog.

I guess that's not really how Scripture reads, but it's still in the spirit of truth. Seasons have definitely changed in our household this week, hence the lack of time on the computer. There are so many wonderful things to do in a world that is waking up to spring!

Actually, I'm feeling a big stretch in my life. I'm trying to get the "normal" household things done, plus add in some spring cleaning. (Just what I love to do in my spare time!) Of course all of that is punctuated with interruptions from Little Man who thinks he can be my best helper or wants me to play outside with him. Then there's the book things, like trying to keep up with Bible Study, prepare for Wednesday night activities with the kids, and prepare for Sunday School. It's all good and exciting, but most of it requires time when Little Man isn't around, so that's saved for precious nap/sleep moments. Then there's planning for VBS decorations which had to hit a priority this week since we're having a work session on Sunday. AND like I alluded to in the opening of this post, there's also the wonderful thoughts of what to do in the flowerbeds and garden and the casting glances at the quickly growing lawn and wondering when I need to start mowing. Oh...and did I mention spending any time with Dear Husband? Yes, that's the problem, too. It always seems to go to the bottom of the list, which isn't where it should be at all!

So, after praying and pondering, I know that things need to fall into place and have to give. That means that although I'd love to grow this blog and develop it more, that's not what will happen at this season. That's okay. The purpose of the blog is for God to use it, but the temptation of the blog is to make it all about me and to satisfy my desire for attention. Maybe this "busy"ness is divine intervention---a way to keep me from getting priorities out of whack and raising up idols that have no business to be.

I share all this to simply say that my posting may not increase in amount or quality, but that I'll still be seeking to follow after Him and will be sharing as I can along the way. I pray that you will be doing the same!