Saturday, August 05, 2006

What's Fair is Fair or Is It?

Fairness seems like a good thing to go by in a family. Everyone should have the same thing, the same amounts or an equal substitute. When my sister and I had to share a candy bar or brownie we instituted the "you cut, I choose" plan. Whoever cut would try to make sure it was exactly even and whoever chose would try to get the bigger piece. The problem is that it can't always be fair in a family or in life.

But do you know what I have come to realize? Fairness breeds selfishness. If someone else has something, then I deserve something of equal or greater value. When we were cutting the candy bar we weren't being careful to cut it even so it would be fair, we were trying to make sure the other person didn't get MORE!

I find myself buying into this even as an adult. My neighbor is taking their family to Disneyworld (on an airplane - no van with a junky trailer behind it!) Our friends have expensive toys. The list goes on and on. Then the pity party comes on that we can't afford to go on fancy trips or have fancy toys and you know what - IT ISN'T FAIR!

I want to train my kids to realize that Johnny gets to go to Disneyworld so let's be happy for him. We have to share a candy bar, well let's be gracious and give the bigger piece away. What do we have to complain about? We have a great house to live in , food to eat and clothes to wear. God has provided for us. In the end maybe we are saying to God "What you've given me isn't good enough. I want what you gave them instead."

1 Timothy 6:17-19
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant
nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain,
but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
In this way they will lay up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age,
so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tied Down

We've been putting Annie in her car seat A LOT lately! (We've driven 4,000 miles in the last two months). She does not like to be tied down. She starts crying, kicking and screaming. Sometimes it is a challenge to win the battle! Who knew a 15 month old could have such strength and determination!

But there are times when we are going somewhere wonderful, a place she will love like a park or swimming pool and she doesn't know that she needs to experience the discomfort and inconvenience of her car seat for a greater good. You silly little baby, if you would just realize that you are going to love playing in this pool, the car seat wouldn't be so bad! Our older kids understand the excitement of what is to come so they don't mind.

I wonder if God thinks that about me. I'm kicking and screaming about some situation in my life and I can't see what He is going to accomplish through it. There are times I've felt tied down with marriage, family, ministry and finances (and still do) . But I can look back and see that He's using those things for a greater good - He's pushing me to grow and mature. I really don't want to go back to being the person I was 5 years ago (well, maybe back to the dress size). He's given me peace and understanding about a lot of things. I'm sure there will be many more periods of growth I'll need over my lifetime, but I hope I can look at it and see the excitement of good things to come!

Hebrews 12:2-3
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

The Griswold's

While we were on sabbatical we thought it would be nice to bring our bikes. So we hooked up this really classy homemade trailer to our van. It's a piece of plywood on wheels. We strapped all our bikes to the top. Then for an added touch we put a rooftop luggage carrier on the trailer too. Now some of this was a necessity for space for a family of 6 on the road for a month. But I kept noticing people passing us on the interstate and looking and snickering at our rig.

To make it worse, when we got to Colorado we decided to go biking at Lake Dillon. It is up in the mountains and it is the main water supply for the city of Denver (FYI). It is a beautiful spot. Everyone that was parked there had these really nice cars and bike racks. And we pull in a la Clark Griswold. (Have you seen the Vacation movies?) As we were getting ready to go, we realized that my bike was broken and the bike trailer for the little girls was missing a bolt, thus it only had one wheel. I thought, boy am I ever glad we hauled this thing half way across the country now! So Abby and I walked and pushed Annie in the stroller. Mike rode with the older kids only to find out they were on the wrong path - it was the walking path, not the biking path. I fell down a hill and scraped up my leg (not to mention my pride) and it was 100 degrees. Now this is family fun?

Usually when things go this well for us we end up in a big fight. I like to blame Mike for everything! So I am proud to say we actually laughed about it. After we gave up and packed up our beautiful rig, we headed back to where we were staying. There was a traffic accident and they had closed the road! Grant started crying as we turned around, "now we're never going to get home!" Mike reminded him to think about the people in the accident and what they are going through. Our little inconvenience paled in comparison. We prayed for the people in the accident. So all in all, not a bad day!

We finally made it home and didn't bike again until we got to Wyoming and did some repair work on the bikes. Do you ever have days where you feel like you shouldn't have left the house? After we had to change our route for the accident I quit feeling sorry for myself and was thankful that we were all safe and healthy (except for my leg).

We're promised troubles in this world, somedays it may be as small as a bad day or a broken bike and other days it will be much more serious. But the thing to remember, for me and my kids, is that God is in control of it all.

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Piece of Humble Pie

Yesterday, I was thinking about how important humility is in the Christian life. Marriage and parenting definitely facilitate that. God sure knows what He is doing! Anyway, if you ask my kids what Daddy does in the morning they'll tell you, he drinks coffee, reads the Bible and prays. If you asked them what Mommy does in the morning they would probably say I don't know. She snores and pulls the covers over her head until she hears total chaos break out. Mike, my husband, (who has been blessed with the chipper morning person gene) has disciplined himself to spend time with God in the morning. Not only is that great for his spiritual life, but it is an awesome example to our kids when they wake up in the morning and see him on his knees. Now when Grant wakes up and sees him praying he just grabs his Bible and starts reading.

So when I stumbled out of bed this morning, I came out to see him on his knees praying and it was so humbling to me for several reasons. One is that I feel humbled that God would let me be married to such a Godly guy. But also because I feel like a lazy bum that I am not that disciplined. So, 6:00 a.m might not be my time, but I think I better find a time and get on my knees.

Psalm 119:147
"I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word."

One of Those Days

Wow! The past two days have just been "one of the days" kind of days. Yesterday I spent two hours cleaning the van after our trip. Abby and Annie were in and out throughout the process. When I came in to make lunch, tired and sweaty, I found that they had emptied the dressers of all the clothes and piled them in the middle of the floor. Then after lunch it was time to work in the garden. We have a months worth of weeds to pull and we make the kids help us. They pick up the piles and dump them. They complained and whined the whole time. Now, I want them to learn responsibility but when they come out they get covered head to toe in dirt, drag it all in the house, everyone needs a bath and their complaining takes any joy I have (which is very little) out of gardening; I wonder if it is really worth it.

Today was appointment day. Annie had her 15 month check up. Yep, everyone got to come along. In the waiting room the battery in Grant's GameBoy died and that was tragic. Then they ransacked the doctor's office while we waited, playing a very loud and rowdy game of E.R. and jumping off the table Then it was off to haircuts and the library. The librarians looked at me like, "are you insane?" You know, I think I am!

It is so frusterating to me that the kids are always getting in the way of my agenda. I can't get the laundry done or the house cleaned up or my email checked when they always need attention. It sounds pretty bad to actually put that in writing but that is how I feel most days. I am NOT advocating not cleaning or doing laundry, but what I realized today is that the kids aren't in the way of me doing my job; THEY ARE MY JOB! I think I let everything else get in the way of serving them and ministering to them. That's what I want to do, but I am continually letting these little tasks around the house become more important than they are.

Proverbs 19:21
"Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

You Say You Want a Revolution?

I've been reading the American Girl books with my daughter. She likes Felicity, the spirited girl from the Revolutionary War era. They really are fun books with lots of history in them. So, we were reading "Felicity Learns a Lesson" on our vacaction. In this book, Felicity's parents decide that it is time for her to learn to be "a lady". Here is a portion of conversation between Felicity and her mother:

"Caring for your family is a responsibility and a pleasure. It will be your most important task, and one that you must learn to do well. I want you to be a notable housewife when you are grown."

"Notable?" asked Felicity.

"Yes," said Mrs. Merriman. "A notable housewife runs her household smoothly, so that everyone in it is happy and healthy. Her life is private and quiet. She is content doing things for her family."

"Things nobody ever sees," said Felicity.

"Aye," agreed her mother. "But many lovely things are private and hidden."

excerpted from page 7, Felicity Learns A Lesson by Valerie Tripp
Book Two in the American Girl Collection

What planet was this book written on? Certainly not here in America! I guess there are some things we need to take note of from history! I wish I had been taught this and I certainly want to teach it to my girls. Not that there isn't a place for more public pursuits, but really learning to be content doing things for you family is not something that is honored by very many people today.

I think it is kind of funny how these books and dolls have become so popular and teach such "old fashioned" things. How many people who are buying this stuff for their kids would agree with that dialogue?

It just struck me how amazing it is to hear taking care of your family being commended like that. Even if it is Juvenile Fiction take it to heart - you are doing important work!

Proverbs 31:27
"She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness."

Practice What You Preach!

I was having dessert with some friends one night. We were talking about wanting to train our kids to love Jesus. In the same breath, it was admitted that some of us hadn't spent consistent time in the Bible or praying in months! It reminds me of the time we were driving to Wyoming and our van was going up the hill and started to sputter. It jolted to a stop - totally out of gas! You can't drive a car without gas and we can't disciple our kids without being disciples ourselves. It seems so logical yet I'm always trying to get by without a solid time with Jesus. I either justify it by being too busy (I mean really, I didn't even get a shower today), or by doing the quick "Thanks Lord, please take care of us. Amen." I've got to take that time to study and pray.

Plus it is funny how, even though I am "too busy" or "too tired" to spend time with the Lord, I always seem to make time for American Idol.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of you houses and on your gates."

Who Is Mommy Missionary?

The Adventures of Mommy Missionary was originally going to be a way for my "professional missionary friends" that are Moms to stay in touch. However, as I thought about it and talked to more moms I realized, every Christian Mom is a missionary. It is our goal to raise our kids to be followers of Christ. Followers of Christ that will love and glorify Jesus Christ with their hearts and their lives. So who is Mommy Missionary? It's you!

I've talked to so many moms in so many walks of life over the past month that are having the same struggles. They are lonely, discouraged, stressed and tired. Why do we feel so isolated? Is it because society (even Christian culture) does not value our jobs? Maybe we aren't doing important or valuable work when we are not contributing to our materialistic culture. We could have that new house, car, boat, outfit, or toy if we would just get out and get a REAL job or work more hours! And I do not think working outside the home is a no-no at all. But for most working moms I know, their hearts are mainly concerned with the job that's waiting for them at home, and so they are Mommy Missionaries as well. I hope that we can spur each other on to look at what God says and what he values. Please feel free to add your comments. (My ranting will get kind of old if you don't.)

God has used my marriage and family to make me more like Him. I have to serve. I have to put others before myself. I have to be humble (changing diapers and worse). God has taken this self-absorbed brat and changed me. The more I allow God to change me and let go of my wants and desires, the more peace and joy I have. God has asked us to "pour ourselves out". And just when I think I can't pour any more, He gives me the grace and strength to do it/ It isn't easy, but I wouldn't want to do it any other way but God's way. And beleive me - I've tried and we'll get to that later.

Philippians 2:17
"But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from you faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you." NIV

The Mommy Behind Mommy Missionary

So here's a little about me, the Mommy behind Mommy Missionary. The name on my driver's license and library card is Michelle Keller. That's totally true. I will not guarantee the other information on that license is as accurate.

I grew up in Minnesota. While in college I met a guy who had long hair, wore cowboy boots and wanted to be a pastor. I wasn't too sure about that, but I married him anyway. I never wanted to be a mom and certainly didn't want to be a small town pastor's wife but God worked in my heart and grew me into it. Here we are 13 years and five kids later.

After becoming a Mom, I quickly grew discouraged with the ups and downs of mothering. In a society defined by success, money and self promotion it's hard to feel like mothering is a valuable endeavor. I was trying to get my kids to be good. It wasn't working and I felt like I was wasting my time.

God began to show me that it was not their behavior or actions, but their heart that he cares about. He's taken a self-centered brat and is molding me into His likeness. There isn't a more service-oriented, humbling job that being a mommy.

There is still a long road ahead. There are more things I need to learn, more challenges to get through, more joy and laughter, more difficult times to cling to Christ. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! Buckle up and enjoy the ride.