Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Un-list (Part 1)

Luci Swindoll talked at Women of Faith about times when she had done something unexpected or surprising and was asked why.  Her response? "Nobody told me I couldn't."  At first this got me thinking about my list of things undone or unfinished.  There is a list of such things much longer than I want to admit to myself.  I am calling it my un-list.  I wondered why I wasn't doing the things on that list.  Is anybody telling me I can't?  Well, no, not really.  Except ONE person- ME!  I realized that truly I am the only one keeping me from doing the things I have not done.  For some things, it's negative self-talk and fear of rejection. For other things, it's allowing my life circumstances as a busy wife, homemaker and homeschooling mom to be an excuse for not doing them (and, thus, avoiding said rejection!).

I realized that my fear of rejection is only because I am allowing my worth to be defined by what others think.  I do (should) not aim to please others.  I (should) aim to please God.  And even the very hairs of your head are numbered.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30-31

Yesterday, I broke free of that fear.  I had found a recipe contest through Pacific Natural Foods about a month ago.  I made up my very own recipe.  I cooked it a couple times.  We thought it was great.  My girls encouraged me to enter it.  My husband encouraged me to enter.  But, still, I didn't enter.  Until yesterday!  It was the very last day to enter and to vote.  First thing in the morning, I filled out that form.  I hesitated a bit, but I hit the submit button and shared it on Facebook.  When it was done, I felt the guilt lift.  I had been silently torturing myself wondering if I should enter and feeling guilty for not entering for a month.  It was done!  (The results will be posted today, so I will let you know!)

My sister called me a few hours later and told me she had voted for my recipe, but that it didn't seem like something she would like.  I thanked her for supporting me with her vote and just kind of chuckled that she didn't care for it.  That's ok.  I don't need her to like it (I need the judge to like it! LOL).  Sure, it'd be great to win, but that's not why I entered.  I entered for exactly what she helped me with in her comment- baby steps toward kicking my fear of rejection to the curb.  I told that liar Satan who kept me telling myself that I am not good enough- NOT TODAY, bozo!  NOT TODAY!  I will not be ruled by fear today!

Today, I want to challenge you to do something that's on your un-list.  First you may have to acknowledge what's on it.  I encourage you to take that step.  Then, pick something that you can either do in it's entirety or partly and DO IT!  You will be glad you do!  I pray that we may all learn to live free of the guilt of unfinished business, free of the fear of rejection, and free to live for Him.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It all adds up

My extended family had a party for all the summer birthdays.  We all, well all who like it, had lobster.  I decided to take the time to clean out all the meat I possibly could from mine and my husbands.  I sat for quite some time on the day of the party getting through those 2 and when I was done, it didn't seem like much.  I took one whole leftover lobster home to take care of the next day.

Now, if you have never done this or if you watch someone, it really does seem like a tedious and useless waste of time.  I watched my grandmother and others do it over the years as I grew up, but never tried it myself until a couple of years ago.  As I stood in my kitchen taking apart the whole lobster, I thought of how much patience it took to complete the process.  You have to carefully move little bones and pick to get at the meat you want.  That patience, that persistence, yielded me about 1 cup of lobster meat from the bodies and legs of 3 lobsters.  Now that is definitely enough to make a yummy lobster salad lunch for hubby and myself!  Definitely worth it!

And so it is with training our children.  We all know it takes patience, and some days it can feel so useless.  I know I have felt like a broken record on many an occasion!  But, every word, every moment we pour into the vessels of our children, add up over time.  Each lonely, tiny piece of lobster meat doesn't look like much, but they added up to an entire meal when I was done.  With lobster, if you are not careful, you can easily add pieces that are not edible.  But even that wrong, that negative, adds up with the good.  Our negative words and actions with our children add up just as our positive ones do.  Sure a few bad pieces mistakenly added here and there won't amount to much, but if too many are added they will ruin the dish.

I challenge all of us to ask ourselves- is there some negative I am pouring into my children on some level, even without realizing it?  Is that the harvest I want to see come to fruition in my children?  What steps can I take today to turn that around?  If I don't know what to do- who can help me (husband, trusted friend, pastor)?

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.  Proverbs 22:6

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Is Motherhood a Ministry?

I believe God created the role of mother so that children have someone to train them, alongside fathers, for life as adults.  While a father is to be the head of the household, the mother is designed to support him, particularly in the area of bringing up children.  It was only this year that I realized being a mother is a call to a ministry.  I had always thought being a mother was important and significant, but not to that extent.  It takes on a whole different significance when you consider it a ministry.   The World English Dictionary defines ministry as “a.) the profession or duties of a minister of religion  b.) the performance of these duties” (found on  Wow!  Parents are to “train a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6), so it makes complete sense to me now to consider it a ministry based on that definition.  Parents are ministers of religion in that they pass on their faith to their children.

Let’s look at Psalm 127:3 in different translations.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. (NIV)

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  (NASB)

Children are a gift from the Lord;  they are a reward from him. (NLT)

Usually, people are thankful for a gift that is given to them and treat it as such.  If we hold our children as gifts from God, then we raise them up in loving care. A gift is given to someone in love and accepted with thanksgiving.  A reward is earned or given in recognition.  If we, as mothers, consider our children gifts and ourselves rewarded with their very presence, how different would some of our days look!  As for the ministry of motherhood, we train up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord because we love them and want them to know the Lord.  What greater thanks can we show for the gift of children than to return them to His service as young adults!

As I make my way through reading and studying the book The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson, I hope to explore and share what I have learned with you.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Let Go and Let God

A friend at church told me the following story that really got me thinking. Picture a party, where a group of people got into a not unusual conversation about whether a glass of water was half empty or half full. (Most people know this in relation to one's perspective on life as an optimist or a pessimist.)  One party-goer changed it up and asked how heavy the glass was.  The person holding it said it wasn't very heavy.  Now consider that you have only held that glass for an hour.  After holding it for a whole day, it would feel much heavier.  After two days, a week, a month...heavier and heavier until you would be physically unable to hold the weight, no matter how full or empty the glass.  This is much like our everyday troubles and cares.  We can carry them alone for a short time, but without God, we quickly grow weak and cannot bear them.  No matter the size to begin with, we must give it all to God.  Otherwise our small and temporary troubles will become long-term and unbearable burdens.  David reminds us of this in Psalm 55:22. Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

What are your cares today?  Is there something you need to give to God?  It may be hard to let go of the control, but it’s so much harder to hold and carry the weight alone.  How wonderful that we don’t have to carry it alone!  We have an amazing Lord and Savior who wants to carry our load with us, if we give it to Him in faith. Let’s Let Go and Let God today and be free of the weight that we don’t have to carry!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do Not Lose Heart

2 Cor 4:  1 Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Several months ago I read a devotion about motherhood as a ministry.   2 Cor 4:1 was part of that devotion and has since been my source of strength and encouragement as I go through the daily business of training my children.  It reminds me to stick with it when it’s tough and to call on Him and His mercy to get through the day.  It reminds me that I am blessed to have my children, especially as I think of those whose children are not with them.  It reminds me that I am called by God to be a mother (as one is called to any ministry).   And being called to ministry does not mean that I am already equipped for that ministry.  As the saying goes, “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.”  

Everyday, I must ask Him to equip me for whatever comes my way.  Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Cor 4:16  Outwardly, I am exhausted and I probably look it sometimes.  Inwardly, I am renewed daily as I learn to trust God as my help in all I do.

I choose to focus on the high calling of training my children.  In the process of training them, I am learning and growing in my own faith.  It is unlikely that one would impart wisdom unto a child and not learn it herself!  Perhaps that is just what God intended.   I still need to foster my personal relationship with my Lord and Savior, but the time I spend teaching the Word to my children also brings it into my own heart.  Now, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s always easy to be an example to my children.  Gosh,  I want to yell and scream and throw a fit just the way they do some days (and, yes, I have)!  It is in those times that I have come to realize I must seek His mercy and guidance even more.  If we do that “…our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:1 7-18  My own and my children’s eternal salvation is more important than what is seen in the here and now.  And nothing I face in my daily life could EVER surpass what Jesus endured for me on the cross.  So, I choose to keep on with what's important and to give it ALL (the good, the bad and the ugly!) to Him.