Monthly Archives: January 2012

Whatever it Takes

Levi and me, April  2010

Before I had kids, I remember having a conversation with a young mom.  It was one of those conversations that sunk straight into my soul and I knew that for some reason, I was to remember it. This mom and I were talking about her young children who were about three and four at the time.  She mentioned that they loved to play and wrestle and that her husband often did that with the kids.  I asked her if she did as well (fully assuming that she did), and she said something that I will never forget.  She said, “Oh no, that isn’t really my thing.”

I have thought about that conversation many times in my last nine years of parenting. You see, sometimes we just need to do things because it will build into the hearts of our children. Sometimes we need to do an activity because it will fill a soul.  Sometimes we need to do things because it makes our children smile and giggle and it will build the invisible bonds of the parent-child relationship.

This all came to mind as I put the boys to bed tonight.

I love my boys.  I never, ever wanted to be a mom to boys and in all honesty, it took me about two years to come to terms with the fact  that I had a son. Now, I can’t imagine life without them.  I adore their energy and enthusiasm and zest for life.  I love their fascination with sports and legos and flexing their muscles.  I love to watch them “just be boys”  and I am thrilled to be a part of raising them. But being a mom to boys doesn’t come naturally to me.  

I am not a rough-and-tumble, loud, high-energy person. My idea of a perfect day involves a lot of quiet, a lot of books, and a lot of sipping hot drinks. I was never a real “girly-girl” and yet male humor and activities have never really gotten me excited, either.  However, I want to have the heart of my boys.  I want to have cords of connectedness so strong that nothing can break them.  I want their hearts to be in tune with mine and I want to be someone they long to be with.  And that means doing things that don’t necessarily come naturally and doing things that “aren’t really my thing.”

As I tucked the boys into bed tonight, I had to “find” one who was hiding in his brother’s bed, I “captured” one as he struggled to get free, I was tackled, I growled like a tiger, I pretended to cry when they said—in fits of giggles—that they didn’t love me, I knocked them on the head, I smothered them with kisses, and I filled their little boy-souls with rough and tumble love and laughter. And I didn’t do it because it is “my thing.”  I did it because it fills their heart and I hope that hundreds upon hundreds of these little memories will merge into one big memory that will allow them to say, “I had  a happy childhood.”

Sometimes being a parent involves us stepping our of personality, out of our comfort places, out of what’s easy and into a place where our actions can really communicate with our children’s hearts. We have to be willing to let go of our desires and our natural inclinations and instead meet our kids where they are.  Tonight, it was being silly with rowdy boys.  This morning it was with an almost-nine-year old who hates math and was in tears clinging to me saying, “I just want to be with you!” This afternoon it was playing pig on the basketball court and praying I would make it so one of the boys wouldn’t be out again.  No doubt tomorrow it will be with a certain three-year-old who will bring be an infinitely high stack of books I have read too many times. Saying yes doesn’t always come easily or naturally, but I pray each day that God will enable me to do what is best for the five little hearts I am responsible for.

Please Lord, let me say yes and do whatever it takes to hold onto their hearts, even if it “isn’t my thing.”

Rooted

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.  See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” COLOSSIANS 2:6-8 (emphasis mine).

My word for 2011 was rooted.  I wanted to be rooted in God’s Word and free from the elementary principles of this world.  The church today looks so much like the world. It wearies me. I want something different. I want something real. I want something more. And I knew that there was no way I could do that without being firmly grounded in the eternal Word of God.

I knew that no matter what I tried to do in life, no matter what noble acts of selflessness or generosity I performed, my life would never really and truly change until I was rooted in God’s word. As I learned in 2010, I wanted to run away from the elementary principles of the world and instead run to Christ.  And although I tried for years to fool myself, there is no way to become more like Christ and live with more of an eternal perspective without being rooted in His word.  

I’m sorry.  It just can’t happen.  We can go to church, make good choices, serve faithfully in work and ministry, and give until it hurts, but unless our hearts and minds are rooted in the Word, real change can never happen. The fruit of our lives will never be of Christ.

Just think of what it means to be rooted.  If a plant does not have it’s roots in the soil, it will never produce.

Or think of that old high school thing where they dye carnations in your school colors.  At my school, they stuck white carnations in green food coloring and guess what happened?  The flowers turned green. And so it is with life.  If we stick our roots in the world (television, movies, popular books, prosperity theology, sports, money, and so on), the color of our lives will look the same. It can’t happen any other way.  But if we root ourselves in the Word of God—the eternal, living and active Word—then slowly our hearts and minds and words and deeds start to look like the Word.  It won’t happen overnight.  It won’t happen by reading a verse a day and then a bunch of fluff from a devotional. It won’t happen if we try to cram in some Bible reading a few times a month or try to get a week’s supply on Sunday morning.

But  regular, meaningful and focused attention to the Word can bring real change.

I started the year once again working with the Bible in 90 days program. I got about half way through (somewhere in Isaiah) and then the end-of-pregnancy blues set in and I wasn’t up for doing anything other than waiting for my baby to make her entrance into the world.  And then, on March 17, she came, and the next few months were busy.  I spent a lot of time reading, but I wasn’t in the Word.  I longed for it and yet I was struggling so much to get into a groove and find a schedule that worked.  And sometimes, I was just lazy. Sometimes, I really just wanted to read my email instead.

The  longing still remained, though.  And then one morning in May, something changed.

It was early in the morning and I was the only one up. I heard a door open and one of my little ones come out.  Then I heard another voice. The first one said, “Where’s mama?”  And the second one said, “She’s  probably at her computer.”

A part of my heart died in that moment.  Great.  When my kids don’t know where I am, their assumption is that I am on the computer.  That was not what I wanted.  It was a sobering wake-up call. I wanted something so much more.  Not only did I long to spend time in the Word, but also I wanted to be that example for my kids.  I wanted to model for them the habits I so desperately want them to cultivate.  And so I decided to make a change.

In early June, we moved houses.  I may be a little odd, but I love to move. I don’t like the work, but I love the newness of it all and I love the chance to start over and begin new habits and new routines.

I made the decision that my first activity in the morning would be my Bible time. I had recently discovered D.A. Carson’s For the Love of God (Volumes 1 and 2) and although I was a little apprehensive about reading in four different places in Scripture a day, I wanted a fuller picture of the Biblical narrative and this commentary seemed to set out to do just that. In follows the M’Cheyne Bible-reading schedule which takes you through the Old Testament once in a year and the New Testament and Psalms, twice. In addition, I started reading a Proverb each day (corresponding to the day of the month), and always, always, my beloved Daily Light.

It was hard at first.  I had to walk out of my room, ignore the computer, and head downstairs.  I had to find a comfortable place to sit and I had to learn the discipline to fill my mind and heart with the Word first thing. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long until the habit was formed.  For almost eight months now, each morning as I rise, I head downstairs, grab a cup of coffee, head to the front room, grab my Bible and Kindle, and dig in.

I am not even sure I can begin to explain the the changes this discipline has brought to my life. I’m so saddened by the fact that I have wasted so many years just pretending to be in the Word. Living on fluff instead of the Bread of Life.

I have seen real changes in my heart, my priorities, my desires, and my dreams.  I have seen changes in my attitude, my words, and my patience.  I have seen changes in my reactions to being wronged, changes in the way I spend my time, and changes in the internal dialogue that constantly goes through my mind. Changes. Real changes. Some of them I had to work for, but honestly, many of them I believe was simply through the daily feasting on the Word.  It is living and active!  It will not return void!  It is eternal! We spend so much of our life begging God to give us direction, all the while, the one and only thing that God says will be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path sits there and gathers dust.

And if all of that weren’t enough, now when the kids get up in the morning, they always come to the front room to find me.  They cuddle up on the couch and (usually) wait quietly for me to finish. If I am not there, they come and see me and say, “Oh, you already finished your Bible time?”  And I say with a huge grin, “Yep.”

 

 

Watch & Wait

Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts.”
Proverbs 8:33-35

 

“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”

Micah 7:6-8

 

In late 2007, the pastor of the church we attended encouraged us to choose a word for the year 2008.  This word could really be anything we wanted it to be.  It could be a goal we were aiming for. A prayer request.  A habit we wanted to break.  He told us to choose a word and spend the year meditating on it.  I prayed about it for a few weeks and finally settled on the word change. Little did I know that the change that was in store was a move from Orlando, Florida to Bandung, Indonesia.  Everything in our life changed that year.

In 2009 I prayed and decided on the word home.  Again, I wasn’t sure what I was really hoping for, but I felt deep in my heart that my focus was to be home.  And just a few months into the year, God laid it on my heart to homeschool. Home was definitely the focus!

In 2010 I was still scrambling to choose a word.  And then on January 1, I read in my Daily Light, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25; Hebrews 12:1-2.  And I knew that my word for 2010 was run.  That year, I started running.  Not with my feet in tennis shoes but rather, in my heart.  My heart started racing—away from what the world expects of me and to what God expects of me.  It was an amazing year and I am still feeling the effects of things that God turned in my heart and mind.

The year 2011 brought a new word: rooted.  The word came from the verses listed above.  I wanted so much—longed for, ached for—to be rooted in God’s word.  Tomorrow I will share more about my year focusing on being rooted. It was an amazing year!

In November, I started praying about my word for 2012.  I had a few ideas but none of them felt like it was exactly what the Lord was telling me.  So I waited, prayed, and was confident that in His time, God would share my word with me.

“Watch and Wait.

The words were in my heart but they didn’t make a lot of sense. But they kept coming to me. “Watch and wait.” I resisted.  I didn’t have a vision for it or a way to focus on it.  I didn’t know what the Lord was trying to tell me.  And yet it continued, “Watch and wait.” I figured I would at least think about it.  And then something happened and I had no choice.  I had to watch and wait.  I didn’t know what was going to happen.  I could do nothing to control it.  I was spending weeks in the unknown and any time I started to fret, my heart heard, “Watch and wait.”  And so, a few days before the new year began, I said “Okay, in 2012  I will “Watch and Wait.”

Since then, it has started to make more sense.  This year is going to be one of great transition and change for our family.  We will moving back to the States in June and we have no idea what the future holds.  We might be in the States for a year.  It might be longer.  I suppose it could even be shorter.  We don’t know.  We don’t know where Jason will work.  We don’t know what we will drive.  We don’t know where we will attend church, who our friends will be, or what it will be like to bring our children to a country they haven’t seen in four years.  But we do know that the Lord is with us, that He has led us in this direction, and the year 2012 will be one for watching and waiting.  We will watch what the Lord is going to do in our lives and through our lives.  We are going to wait patiently for the answers we so desperately want to hear.  We will watch and wait, remaining rooted in Him and His Word.  2012 is going to be an amazing year!

 

 

My New Year Starts Today

The last six or seven weeks have been…um…intense.  It has been a time filled with some amazing blessings and some real  soul-searching hard times.  My faith has been tested, my priorities questioned, and my future goals altered.  It has been hard, but oh-so-good.

Yesterday brought much closure to some issues and I feel like today is the first day of the new year.  When 2012 arrived on the calendar, I wasn’t ready for it. I still had much that I was working through and new beginnings weren’t on my to-do list.  But now, well, my body,soul, and mind are tired, but they are ready. Ready for the new year. Ready for new beginnings.

This year is going to bring a lot of changes for our family.  It is going to bring a lot of unknowns.  But God is preparing me and I am so excited for what is ahead.

So happy 2012.  Today is the first day of my new year.