Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Madness

I can't get to the treadmill fast enough tonight.  I need to shed this day. I need to shed the guacamole I ate for dinner! I sigh deeply. It's the kind of sigh that says, "I made it through another day. I made it through the Monday madness". I begin the thud, thud, thud of walking quickly and yet going nowhere. It's nice to just switch off and do something I know I can do--put one foot in front of the other and keep going. I close my eyes. Thud, thud, thud. My mind begins to wonder and I start to catalog the various failures of the past few days. I'm stressed and it's not lessening with the force of my steps. I didn't r.s.v.p. to a birthday  party. I didn't get to cleaning the kitchen. I haven't called that friend and checked on her. I need to run some errands. I should have been more patient with Molly while doing homework. The washing machine is full again. The list goes on. I'm annoyed with myself. I'm tired. I. I. I.
 I spend a lot of time thinking about myself. But this day isn't about me. It's about Him. Every day is about Him. Burdened by the circumstances of life in this world, I've failed to celebrate Jesus today. Elyse Fitzpatrick, in her book Comforts from the Cross encourages us to ponder, "his sinless life, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign, and the sure promise of his return." There's the hope in my day--Christ is one day going to shatter the sky and come and fetch me. My heart is beginning to calm. I need to celebrate the gospel daily otherwise it just all gets too much, doesn't it? Too much I. Thoughts of that day, make me smile and my mind shifts to prayer and praise. Monday has been redeemed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Resolved to Change Part II

   I love books. They're like little friends standing to attention on my shelves. I know where each one is and when and where I bought each one. I can usually remember when I read a certain title too--what was going on in my life and how the book affected me. They loyally delight me time and time again. To love them is to dog-ear their pages like wrinkles on a face and to gingerly underline their text; to fold the cover back with ease and hold it in my hands. A well worn book is a well loved book. And so, I'm going to blog about books. I'm going to blog a lot about books!
   I owe my love (passion, obsession, fanaticism, idolatry--whatever) of books to my parents. From the earliest age, they read to me and I always remember seeing my mother with a book (still do). I have fond memories of cuddling up in my parents' bed after bath time and my father reading stories and chapter books to my brother and I. There is something melodious and comforting about hearing a man's voice read aloud. Wrapped up in that fairytale is security--a parent taking time to delight their children. I remember most of those stories to this day and when my children ask me to read to them--into our bed they go.
  I confess to you now that I've loved many books much more than the book of all books. I've read many books about the Bible as a substitution for reading the actual Bible. I've read books over and over and have failed to read thee greatest book all the way through even once. I'll push on through a tough read like Pynchon or Dostoevsky, but can't make it past the book of Judges in my yearly reading plan. I liken myself to heroines in a book and dream about living out their adventures. A complicated plot thrills me as I try to figure out the twists and turns and resolutions. I don't meditate on the Word. I remember favorite sentences that were written so beautifully that they've become etched in my mind. I can recall only a smattering of verses by heart and most of the time I get the reference wrong.
    I recently read a wonderful missionary biography called Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose. If you want a book that thrills your soul and reminds you of the power of our Almighty Father than this is the books for you. Darlene, a missionary to New Guinea, is taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese when World War II breaks out and the Dutch East Indies is occupied. I won't write of the many trials that she endures (YOU read the book), but one of the things that brings her comfort and ultimately sustains her very life is her love of the word and her commitment to memorize it. She writes:
 As a child and young person, I had a driving compulsion to memorize the written Word. In the cell I was grateful now for those days in Vacation Bible School, when I had memorized many single verses, complete chapters, and Psalms, as well as whole books of the Bible. In the years that followed, I reviewed the scriptures often. The Lord fed me with the Living Bread that had been stored against the day when fresh supply was cut off by the loss of my Bible. He brought daily comfort and encouragement-yes, and joy--to my heart through the knowledge of the Word.
Wow. You know, I'm in a war too. A different kind of war, but just as brutal. I'm fighting to raise my children in this morally desolate society. I'm fighting against Satan who tells me lies about myself and the character of my Lord. I'm fighting to keep myself centered in Christ when difficult times come and I feel like God's love is slipping away. I need to be fed with the Living Bread too.
   So, scripture memory is a new commitment I've made to God this year. It doesn't come naturally to me. I'd rather pray --no shocker that talking comes easily for me. I keep reminding myself that I don't have to do this alone. I have the gift of the Holy Spirit and I'm seeking His help. I'm praying that the Lord would fill me with a desire to memorize His word and to hold it in my heart above all else. And now I have to do the work. Whether it's in the carpool line or walking on the treadmill, I'm figuring in time to learn verses written on index cards. I want to arm myself for the battle. I want to equip myself to defend. I want to ready myself to evangelize.
Scripture by Heart: Devotional Practices for Memorizing God's Word Joshua Choonmin Kang encourages this discipline in his book Scripture by Heart- Devotional Practices for Memorizing God's Word. He writes:
It's never too early, and never too late to begin a serious program of Scripture memory with a view to mastering the meaning of the Bible as a whole. Just know that you're not alone in the process. The Spirit plays his part, annointing our spirit, offering us the grace of his teaching.
Thank you, Lord for sending us your Word. Give me a yearning to read your message daily and to commit it to memory that I might be a light for you. Encourage me when I struggle. Give me opportunities to practice. Help me to always cherish your book as thee book. Amen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Resolved to Change- Part I.

I'm done with the flaky New Year's Resolutions. Exercise more. Eat better. Brush and floss twice a day (just kidding about that last one, folks). I've had the same resolutions for the past ten years at least. They are no longer resolutions. They are lies. I'm not saying it's bad to exercise. It isn't. And I could surely stand to put down that Daylight Donut (alright, 2 donuts) for a celery stick. But are there commitments that I could make this year which would be more satisfying and more rewarding? I believe there are.
Getting into that pair of over-priced skinny jeans obviously hasn't motivated me yet and I've never actually gotten to that point where a donut repulses me (is that even possible?). So, this year I'm resolving to work on areas of my life where I will reap greater, longer-lasting rewards. I'm starting with spending more focused time with my Lord. Care to join me?
If I'm to be successful in this endeavor, I have to stop making excuses and start telling myself the BIBLICAL truth. I've gotten pretty good at telling myself that God understands when I'm too tired to worship him privately. He knows my days. He knows that I race around like a deranged woman and that much of my day is spent doing His work--so surely, I get a pass. Right? No. Let's tell the truth.
 In his book, Radical, David Platt writes the following about the nice, middle-class American Jesus we've created:
A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream. (p.13).
God wants all of me and He won't settle for less. So, no, He doesn't understand when I have time to talk on the phone, watch tv, and have dinner with friends, and then claim exhaustion when it comes to spending intimate time in communion with Him. He's waiting to be with me. He wants to hear my prayers, my thoughts and fears. I want that too. I feel a constant nudging to spend more time with Him and to just come before Him, stripped down and bare. It's so freeing to say, "Here I am. I'm a mess. I know you love me. I know you will work with me and fashion beauty out of ugly."
I've been walking through some tough stuff this last year and seeing a lot of ugly. I can honestly say that I've never regretted spending time with God. I walk away with such a deep sense of His love for me and a calmness in my heart that assures me that all is well. Now that's time well spent.

Friday, January 21, 2011

So You Think You Can Blog?

Technology and I are just not friends. My cell phone is the cheapy and, therefore, the hopelessly uncool model. I don't know how to text. My friends tell me that I need a Garmin in my life, but I don't know who he/she is. I still can't load my own music onto my Nano (walkman iPod purchased for me by technologically savvy husband). I've never understood where my pictures actually go when they travel through the cord and arrive into the computer. And so now I think I can blog?
I've always been more of a pen and paper kind of girl. There's just something beautifully simple about a new pen and an unblemished piece of paper awaiting my thoughts.
And so, I've rejected the blog over and over again....until now. Let's face reality. As a thirty-something mother to three small children, I can usually only find a crayon and not a pen with which to write. Should I actually find time between the laundry and the lunch making, and the carpool, and the cleaning to sit down before a nice, new notebook--it ends up catching my drool as my face hits the desk in a total surrender to sleep. I am exhausted. But I have thoughts and stories to share. I want to keep a record of these crazy, exhausting days so that when I'm drooling for an entirely different reason, I can transport myself back to these mothering moments. And maybe, just maybe, my kids will want to read it. Maybe, just maybe, you'd like to read along too.
 So, why bother reading? Well, there will be those few high school friends who will want to log on and see if I've gained 100 pounds since 1995. There will be the relatives who are obligated to read a page here or there so we'll have something to talk about at Thanksgiving dinner (yes, Mom, I expect you to read! I'm your daughter for goodness sake!) My close friends will want to keep abreast of the constant excitement that is my life (sarcasm added). Hey, those are pretty good reasons to be honest. However, if you want an excellent reason to read well here it is:  I am a nobody trying to exalt somebody (as missionary Jim Eliot said). My whole life I have loved the Lord. Sometimes I haven't loved Him well. Most times I haven't loved Him above all else. Thankfully, His grip on me has always been tighter and surer than my grip on Him. This blog is about a sinner's struggle to glorify the only One deserving of  exaltation. He is worth reading about.
So I'm jumping in with both feet and looking forward to another year marvelling at God's goodness and faithfulness, and this time I'm going to type it down.  George Mueller writes, "The living God is with us, whose power never fails, whose arm never grows weary, whose wisdom is infinite and whose power is unchanging. Therefore today, tomorrow and next month, as long as life is continued, He will be our helper and friend. Still more, even as He is through all time, so will He be through all eternity." Happy 2011, fellow nobodies.