Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mrs. Flexibility

I am a former gymnast (kind of) but flexibility just isn't my thing! I had big plans for this weekend. Friday, the little girls and I had ECFE. I was planning to walk there and then have lunch with Mike afterward. Then Jenna woke up sick and stayed home from school. Scrap that plan! Today, Mike and Grant are going bird hunting and the girls and I were going to go shopping. Jenna is still sick and now Annie is too. Scrap that plan. We have to go to a wedding today and we were going to bring the kids with us. I guess I better try to find a babysitter and we'll bow out of the reception.

I'm not that organized of a person, but I really like to stick to the plans that are in place. It just doesn't settle well with me. Being flexible is the only way to survive life with kids or life at all for that matter.

More often than not things don't work out according to plan and I'm trying to learn not to let it get to me. Going with the flow is a way that I can serve my kids and husband by being willing to put my own agenda to the side to deal with theirs. I want them to know that they are more important than walks or shopping or schedule.

It seems like God is good at slowing us down through sickness and changes of plan. It reminds me of what is important in life. A lot of times ministering to those around us cause us to have to be flexible. The most important times to show God's love often come unexpectedly. The pastor that was Mike's mentor for our first year of ministry had a sign in his office that said "Ministry is the person standing in front of you". Not the next thing on your calendar or to do list.

So I'm trying to learn to embrace change in plans and serve, whether it's with my family, my church family or a stranger. It's also a really important lesson I want my kids to learn. I hope they see me going out of my way and even being inconvenienced for the needs of others. It may affect our families finances or holiday plans, but it allows us to slow down and show the love of Christ to those around us.

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

Ephesians 6:7
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.

Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve on another in love.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A House Divided

When we were waiting during Maren's procedure on Monday, I happened to catch The Today Show which I never watch at home. They had a segment on debating The Mommy Wars, the age old showdown between working moms and stay at home moms. It seems that the nomination of Sarah Palin for VP has sparked a lot of debate in that area. This is not a political commentary, however I am realizing something in my own life as a Mom - A house divided can not stand.

What I mean by that is the more things I get involved in outside of my home, the more divided my time and attention become. All the things are good things like teaching Sunday School, leading Bible Studies and Girl Scouts. I also try to exercise, keep up with my friends and family and have a little life - even if it only through the wonders of Facebook! But the more I do, the less time and attention I have to devote to what I think the Bible tells me is the most important job I have to do, which is minister to my family. And it is the very thing that I passionately want to do a great job at. So you might wonder why it gets the last of my time, energy and enthusiasm. I wonder too.

All the activity of 7 people in a house with things to do makes for a hectic and miserable life. Just tonight I begged Mike to try to leave football practice a little early so I could get to my meeting on time. I have to pick Grant up early from Karate so we can get right to piano lessons. We've had so many hand-offs this week it's amazing everyone got where they were supposed to be! It seems that a house that runs at this pace and with all this stuff going on is on the verge of collapse!

I'm not thinking about becoming a hermit or anything. But I know that I need to carefully weigh my activities with the needs of my family. And although even the esteemed Proverbs 31 women had business and humanitarian interests outside of the house, they were all for the benefit and enrichment of her family. A lot of times my interests are selfish or wasteful. Let's face it, I'd rather be out doing things than at home organizing and cleaning my cupboards or closets which would help our house to run smoother.

A lot of the arguments about Sarah Palin are focused on the fact that a women should be at home for her kids. It's weird because I kind of agree but at the same time it offends me to the core and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I think women are able to decide what they can handle and what they can't. But it's tough to argue that point when you look at what God's word has to say about it.

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

Titus 2:3-5 says, "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

I think God gives us brains and freedom to discern what he has for us and it is probably different for everyone in every season. But it's easy to fill my life up with activities that are feeding my need for things or recognition, especially because I feel like I get so little of it as a wife and mom. I even find that exercising at times is not just a way to keep my body in shape to be used of God and be healthier, but a desire for approval.

There is nothing I want more than to faithfully do God's calling in my life. Even though it's not politically correct or maybe it is now (who can keep track?) I know that right now His primary calling for me is at home and that deserves my undivided attention.

1 Peter 3:4
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

Blame Game

I know a lot of Christians that continually struggle with doubt. I have never been a questioner or doubter when it comes to matters of faith. I'm not sure if that's because I was raised with it or if it's a personality thing. But recently my faith has been shaken.

This past summer I've known of several young children that died tragically: a drowning, a special needs boy who died due to complications from an infection and a baby who died at 4 months after a heart surgery. I don't know any of these families very well but it was still tough news.

Last week we got word that a young man who grew up in our church had lost their 2 year old daughter in a tragic accident. Although they don't live in Wrenshall, we know this family. Mike officiated their wedding, the Dad was in our youth group and on Mike's football team. Our kids are the same age and they visit our church when they are here with their family.

So the inevitable question is Where is God? If He's loving, how could he let this happen? If He is all-powerful, he could have stopped it.

At the funeral the Mom shared her testimony. Her earliest childhood memories are of being molested. She had two abusive marriages. Her oldest daughter was diagnosed with and survived cancer. She said she used to blame God but she realized that she couldn't. She recognized that God loved her and wanted what was best for her even on a tough road. She didn't want anyone to blame God for this death. There certainly are a lot of difficult days ahead for this family, but they celebrated her life and rejoiced that she was safe with her heavenly Father. I was so disturbed I hadn't really thought of that.

Now, I'm a good Christian, a Pastor's wife! I would never be angry at God or blame God or would I? The good news is that we have a God that allows us to air out our emotions: anger, grief, disappointment. In the Psalms, David lets it all out. He doesn't hold back on asking God the tough questions.

In Psalm 35:17 he says, "O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. " Later on in verse 22 he says O Lord, you have seen this; be not silent.

Psalm 43 starts with "Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nations; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?"

So even David, a man after God's own heart, had time where he questioned and wondered what God was doing. But he always comes back to the love and hope of our gracious Savior. The end of Psalm 43 says
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

I'm so thankful that this family showed that hope to me and everyone else around them. I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus during tough times, not my circumstances. He is the Rock of my faith. Hard times, questions and emotions will come and go, but He will never change. Lesley has a blog with lots more on this. The address is

Job 2:9-10
His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.