Friday, November 10, 2006

The OB/GYN Office

Well, I finally had my first doctor's appointment. I have to go to a new doctor this time and she is located in a brand new building downtown. The waiting room has an awesome view of Lake Superior, pagers that buzz and light up when they are ready for you (like the Olive Garden!) and the lab has leather recliners! I'm not sure there is a more interesting place to watch people than the OB/GYN waiting room!

I could really tell which people were expecting for the first time. They were there TOGETHER and very excitedly reading all the baby and parenting magazines. Plus they had bright eyes and rosy cheecks! I can remember the first couple times I was pregnant: the wonder of a maternity shop with the belly pillows that help you try on clothes before you are showing (now WHY would you want to shop for maternity clothes any earlier than you had to?), the awe of a growing belly, looking forward to each and every doctor's visit and reading every pregnancy and parenting book I could get my hands on.

It became clear that the exuberance and excitement had pretty much all worn off on me by now. The doctor's appointments tend to get in the way of my schedule and take way too long, the only maternity shop I'll probably see this time is a box of old maternity clothes in my basement and my belly has already grown so much over the past four pregnancies that I pretty much look the same. That glowy, excited feeling just isn't there.

Well, I realized yesterday (I had a lot of time to think in the waiting room) that it is really a bummer to let all the touchy feely stuff alone be our guide. Even though pregnancy is definitely different this time, it doesn't mean I should enjoy it any less. Despite it all, I heard the heartbeat of a new little life and got a few hours to myself! How can I not enjoy that! (and I took myself out to McDonald's for lunch after - I am feeling better!)

I think we do that with a lot of things in life. Our marriages just don't have the excitement they did a few years ago (could it be because you have a kid in bed with you half the time and can't carry on a conversation without being interrupted by a little someone?)

And so it goes with our walk with Jesus. When it's not so new anymore and times are tough and it doesn't give us that glowy feeling, well, it just seems to be a burden?

I'm still excited about my marriage even after 10 years. Sure it's different, I don't blush when he walks through the door or get goosebumps when he calls anymore. But you know, in a lot of ways it's way better! The growth we've had together, the things we've been through, the joy of children and ministry have made our relationship a lot deeper and ulitmately that makes it more exciting.

And so it is in my relationship with Jesus. After being a Christian for a while those emotional highs can run low, but at the same time I am glad for all Jesus has taught and brought me through over the years. I don't want to stay a baby Christian or a baby in my marriage or pregnant with my first baby forever. Think of all the things I would be missing out on!

So don't let your enthusiasm fade! Remember the joy you had and keep having it. As we continue to keep growing closer to Christ and closer to our husbands it is only going to get better!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Psalm 51:12
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Beary Special

Abby came home from preschool with a Teddy Bear in her bag. She is the "Beary Special Person" this week. They get to keep the bear and keep a journal of what they do with it. It's a fun thing for the kids. When we were talking about it Abby said, "I'm special now." Mike replied you've always been special!

Isn't that the truth? She has always been precious and special to us and even more so to God. I think she knows that, but there's an interesting comparison to us as women. God thinks we are so special and precious. A lot of us have husbands, children, families and friends who affirm that in our lives. But we don't believe them. Oh sure, on the outside it seems we are special and loved, but on the inside we feel nothing of the sort. We doubt the love of God and our loved ones. We go looking for all sorts of cheesy little teddy bears to make us feel special when we already are treasured.

Whether our "teddy bears" are things, a job, a house, a food, a shopping trip, a fantasy, or a drink; the list could go on. However, it's all foolish in comparison to what we have in Christ! The God of the universe and Savior of the world created us as unique, special people. He gave us a purpose. Why do we look to other things to fill up what God has already provided?

Embrace the beauty of being special to God. Don't let anything or anyone replace it! Anything we try to replace it with is nothing more than a cheap little teddy bear.

Colossians 3:12
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassions, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

1 John 3:1
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Need or Greed?

Well, as promised, here's the story about my greedy little self. I usually don't consider myself a greedy person. Really, when you are a missionary how could you be? But doggone if it didn't rear its ugly head last week.

Out of the blue, I got a call offering me a job. It's very part-time and I could do some of it from home. I immediately said no, thanks and I'm pregnant. Then as we talked I said I'd think about it or think if I knew of someone else that would be interested in it. I think it would be a job that I would enjoy and the extra money would be nice! (Althought it really wasn't a lot - trust me!)

Then I had to go grocery shopping. I really didn't buy a lot of extras but I had a complete panic attack when I had to pay the bill. Someone needs shoes, someone needs a winter jacket, registration is due for basketball and the list goes on and on. So I began to think to myself, maybe I should do it.

Again let me reiterate that I don't think there is anything wrong with a job, what was wrong was my motivation. How do you discern the difference between a need and a want? Do we NEED that money? Has God not always provided us with what we need? What are the trade-offs for me at this stage in the life of my family? Is it worth the sacrifices we will undoubtedly have to make? I'm already having a hard time keeping up on things and I think I should add to it?

And the biggie for me is that God has placed ministry on my heart. There are people I feel burdened to reach out to and if I add anything else into my life that will fall by the wayside. So for us, at this time, it doesn't seem to be right.

The truth of the matter is that we don't NEED the money. There was a time in the past where I would have done it because we honestly needed it and our family was less demanding. (Although God provided for us in those times too). I feel like I need it and for what? So we can have more meals out, more clothes, more gymnastics lessons? There isn't anything wrong with those things in and of themselves, but is that my goal as a Christian? To amass more things and sell myself out for more when what God is providing is enough? If we all have a brand new pair of Nike's but have forsaken the call of God in our lives, what's the point?

I keep hearing about people (including Christians) that are so wrapped up in the more and materialism of life and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Partially because I realize that I am in the same boat in a lot of ways. But also because it has become so accepted, even in the "christian" culture, to be a success by the worlds standards. We need to get our kids to Disneyworld at least a few times and have to save thousands of dollars for Christmas toys because, you know how much our kids NEED more toys! Forsake serving Christ for a job that will afford you a bigger house or a Lincoln Navigator. Forsake any commitment to church to get your kids into the NHL. Forsake time with God and family for more "important" matters.

If we truly put Christ first, the worldly things become unimportant. I just heard a sad story of a family in which the patriarch was a great Christian leader in his time. He had a public ministry. However, the legacy he left behind with his family is just tragic. He continually bailed his children and grandchildren out by giving them every material thing they wanted. He's gone now, but their lives are a mess. Instead of teaching them to love and revere God, they learned to love and revere money and things. So what does it matter? If you achieve great success and wealth in this life and even in ministry, but don't follow Christ it's all empty. And how are we raising our kids? Maybe we're teaching them to be materialistic in a good "Christian" way.

And what is more important than serving Christ and passing our love and passion for Jesus onto our kids? Why is it so easy to get lured away from that? Can I have faith in God to meet our needs while we are doing His work?

Deuteronomy 6:5-8
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on 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 your houses and on your gates."

Ephesians 5:3
"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people."

Ephesians 5:5
"For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person - such a man is an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."