Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's The Heart!

I was over at someone's house who was bubbling over about their child's recent ACT scores. They were good enough to receive an academic scholarship to college, along with a probable music scholarship too. That's great! The young person studied hard and did well in both academics and music. I loved college and am always excited when I hear about those plans in the works. I was happy for them.

While we were visiting that day, there was a burning, smoky smell coming from the kitchen. The mother nicely called out to the aforementioned child to please go check the pot. She didn't respond so the mother went and knocked on the door to prompt immediate attention. The young person immediately stomped out of the room and yelled in an indignant tone, "If you walked all this way to get my attention, why didn't you just check it yourself!"

It was kind of awkward and I didn't know what to say! I kind of tried to ignore the situation as I usually do when I'm uncomfortable. I know that exchanges like this aren't out of the ordinary for a teenager and their mother. I remember enjoying a good slamming of the door to make my point!

But as I was thinking about it I am remembering all the times that I have left messages that are not given, been rudely met at the door, and other unimpressive actions on the part of this person. And I started to wonder, is it really so great to have impressive test scores and musical accomplishments if you are acting totally unchristlike and rude to your parents and the people coming to your home?

And it made me think about my daughter who was there witnessing all this with me. I know she will be a normal teenager with outbursts and breakdowns - oh wait she already has those! I really hope she continues to do well in her studies and other activities. It's easy to let those "performance" issues become the most important thing and it can almost be made a "god".

But I do not care about any of that as much as I care about her heart. I care that she loves the Lord enough to act in a way that glorifies Him. I care that she treats others with respect and love. If she never goes to college or accomplishes a lot in music or sports, but has a love for the Lord that is a blessing to those around her then I will be a proud and happy Mom.

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.

1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

Matthew 12:34
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sowing Seeds

I have been home with a sick kid for an entire week. I haven't been able to do a lot of the things I normally do. Today as I was folding my umpteenth load of laundry, putting a turkey in the oven, changing diapers, playing sweet streets and helping Mike outside, I started to feel trapped and discontented.

Why is it that I have to give everything up for everyone? I'm better than this, I need a life. I don't want to be beaten down by living the housewife life. It's so degrading!

Where on earth is this coming from? Just the other day I felt so blessed and thankful to be married and home with my kids. I was finding joy in meeting the many needs of my family. I realized I was under attack from (satan). I don't like to say that too loud because people might think I'm crazy. But seriously, it's the truth.

We've been dealing with a really painful marriage situation involving some people in our church. She is basically walking out on her family because she feels devalued and controlled. She wants friends and a life. Doesn't that sound familiar?

It's a natural reaction for women because all those things that "tie us down" go against our selfish nature. Society tells us we deserve better, it's not enough and we start to believe it. But it's a lie! He calls us to submit and be humble to the calling he's given us. When we surrender ourselves to Him for His purposes is when we will find true joy and peace. I've struggled over the years but I think I finally get it. Die to myself and my selfish desires.

I think it is seeping in from my hearing it talked about it. It is so easy to let those seeds be sown and grow in my heart. They are up and taking root before I even know it. Then I'm right back to being the bitter, angry woman no one wants as a wife or mom. I react angrily to simple questions, I stomp around and wallow in self pity. Mike mentions something I didn't do or forgot and I attack. Sometimes I'm not even mad at them, I'm just mad at the world and taking it out on whoever is available.

The problem with that attitude is that God asks us to serve others more, consider others better than ourselves, be humble and gentle. I think it is part of how He helps us be more like Him and bring Him glory.

Don't let those seeds grow up in your heart. Fill it up with scripture, Christ-like friends and prayer. It's hard to believe just how fast those nasty seeds grow and how damaging they are.

Ephesians 4:1-3
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

(Not so) Friendly Advice

Have you ever been blindsided by someone giving you a lecture of advice? We were at piano lessons today and I made the mistake of mentioning getting my kids a flu shot. Apparently the wrong thing to say. I was told about vitamins and how they build the immune system, how her kids never got sick or got cavities and something about eating natural foods. She also doesn't believe in fluoride, which our kids take in pills because we have well water and we want their teeth to last them past the age of 14.

This is not the first time this has happened. The last time it came up was when Maren was getting tubes in her ears. She had a long list of things we could do to help that too. At that point, after having a screaming child with ear infections I was in no mood to hear what I should or could be doing. I was instead counting the days until surgery!

I'm kind of hotheaded and emotional at times - ok a lot of times. But I stayed pretty cool and smiled and nodded. But when I got home I was furious! How dare someone who barely knows me lecture me on how to care for my children. Does she think I'm an idiot and haven't thought through and prayed about things? Does she know that I can't afford to buy the high priced vitamins she touts for my 5 kids? Does she know that we do eat a lot more whole foods these days?

After I ranted and raved to Mike for a while (you should pray for him - he bears the brunt of all my issues), I realized a few things. I need to be teachable and open to what other people are saying. Who knows she might have some good options that I might not have tried and is probably trying to help me. Although it might seem really rude and annoying to me.

Also, I need to think about this when I give advice to people or tell them what I have tried. Maybe it comes across in the same way without me meaning it to. I need to be careful to not assume I have all the answers or know where this person has been. Jesus is the only Way, our opinions are not. It's really easy when I feel passionate about something to preach it. I know it's hard to imagine that, but it's true! How many times have I made someone feel the same way I felt today?

It's apparent that humility needs to grow in my life.

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.

James 1:21
Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Things to Teach My Daughters

We have been going through 1 Corinthians in our Bible study. There is a lot of talk about immorality and marriage in the chapters we did this week. There is a lot of talk about marriage and immorality in our ministry right now too. We are watching a marriage completely implode before our eyes. When I look in the eyes of women in these situations I can't help but think about my girls. I never want them to be in a situation with that much hurt and pain.

Now, I know I can't control that. They will make mistakes and choices, but so much of the pain in people's lives revolve around the fact that they want to feel loved and important. I want my girls to be able to grasp God's great love for them. I know some girls that have been pure and married and never for a second doubted the love God or their husbands have for them. Following God's plan builds in that security.

But I know so many women that are continually falling into turmoil because they have this unfilled desire to be loved. Oh, they may be married and have great children, but still they do not feel loved. They may have a family that cares for them, but they still have to go looking for love. They may have a very fulfilling career and that is not enough. The emptiness inside them can only be filled with God. Without being secure in the love that God has for them they are treading on the road to danger.

Unfortunately, that dangerous path usually leads to sex. Yep, that's right! Women that are looking for love often try to substitute sex. This is not a topic I like discussing. And I think it's because I was raised baptist. Modesty, purity and abstinence were taught. All definitely things I want to teach my children to uphold. But I think there is a danger in the desire to promote those virtues that allows them to be distorted. It's easy for those things to come across as negative, old fashioned and heavy handed. A very strict, secretive approach to sexuality can easily be twisted into an abnormal view of sex.

It seems it could easily lead to a desire or curiosity for pornography and strip clubs. The numbers of people that are reportedly dealing with pornography in the church are astounding. It could lead to a desire for romance novels and soap operas. I think it could also go the opposite direction and lead to total sexual repression and destroy the ability to have a healthy, normal sex life as God intended it. It isn't possible to have a Christ-honoring marriage without enjoying sex. If you don't believe me read 1 Corinthians 7!

As my kids are being exposed to sexual content from a variety of sources - and there is no way to avoid that- I am even more convinced of the importance of teaching my kids a biblical, balanced, healthy view of sexuality with openness, dialogue and some humor.

I just got Family Life's Passport to Purity. It's a weekend you take your same sex child away and go through lessons dealing with the physical aspects, but also dating and purity. They encourage you to make it a big deal and a very special weekend. I like the idea of making it special and not a dirty, backroom type conversation. And it seems to teach from a very balanced perspective, openness does not supercede Biblical teaching. So I'm thinking I am going to try to do the first half of it with Jenna this winter. I want her to hear it from me, not her classmates!

I know that I need to teach my girls modesty but they need to know WHY. They need to know we aspire to modesty to glorify God and not to be legalists. They need to know that sex is created and sanctioned by God and is beautiful in marriage. They should know that purity is not just a plus in your heaven requirements or something you do to keep from shaming your parents, but it's a reflection of our devotion to God and His love for us. Most importantly, they need to know that they can come to me with any question they have. I want them to know that they are accepted and loved no matter what.

Chances are you have already begun teaching these things, and I suppose in a way I already have too. But I want to be purposeful and diligent about it. They need to know the love of their heavenly Father and the security that brings. I've seen first hand the results of a life lived looking for love in all the wrong places and it's not pretty.