Friday, March 29, 2013

Why Do I love Jesus?

I was going to write a devotion on Praising God thru Unanswered Prayers. But then I spent some time on my face before the Lord and it changed into Why do I love Jesus?

I like to quote scripture such as Psalms 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

And I have been praying thru some deep desires of my heart this past year and a half in some major areas of my life. Some I have openly shared and some I have kept between me and God. None have come to be yet. I have fasted, prayed, claimed scripture, given God glory ahead of time and given testimony about the answers coming but they still go unfulfilled.

I was in the Christian bookstore when I overheard a video playing and the man on it said, my family was tragically taken from me so I am left with the question, will I still love God? Will I love Him for no reason, for nothing?

That question has haunted the back of my thoughts for weeks. Will I love God even if He does not give me the desires of my heart? And then it goes deeper than that, why do I love God? Just for what He does for me or for what He gives to me?

As I sit here on this Good Friday afternoon, my spirit is grieved and overwhelmed with the depravity of man. This day has turned into Oh Good, I have Friday off. Nothing is different about today, people and us Christians alike go about our fun day off as if it does not matter what Christ did for us 2000 years ago. The man of whom our entire world’s history timeline is based upon is barely mentioned on TV, the news or even Facebook. The only man who walked this earth, was brutally killed and then raised Himself from the dead is easily forgotten in the midst of dying Easter eggs.

We go about our Easter Egg Hunts, our golf games, our dinners out and our special family movie night like it is any other holiday on the calendar. My family included. I think we can get too caught up in our freedom in Christ and a fear of legalism or being an extremist. For goodness sake, if Easter week cannot be a holy and solemn time, than what can be? The death and resurrection of Christ is the very crux that our faith is based upon. Come on Peoples! Can I hear an Amen?

I want to be broken and undone. I need a fresh revelation of the kind of love that kept Him on the cross, I don’t understand it. I am frustrated with my own detachment from the blood that was shed in my place. I want to spend the day in a holy place worshipping this God that loves me and perhaps catching just a glimpse of His unconditional patience and goodness towards me despite my shallow humanity. But most of our Christian churches don’t even have a Good Friday Service for us to take an hour out of this day to stop and reflect on what Christ has done for us.

I ask Him, “How God? How do you love me? How do you love these people who don’t acknowledge You or what You did? Or even worse, the people who spit in Your face and called you a Liar and a Heretic?  And what about the people today who mock You and say You don’t exist?”

His answer to me was this, “I see past all their rebellious actions and careless words and I see the deep hole in their heart, the need in their life that I can only fill.”  Oh Lord, let me love like you. I am a sinner in need of a Savior.

My heart is almost callous to the message of the Cross. I have heard the story so many times, it almost has no effect on my ears. I wish I was there that terrible day. I pray for a very personal encounter with the Person who died for me.

Now If I had a close family member that was murdered, the date of that horrific day would be forever etched in my memory and would never pass without a proper acknowledgment. I would do something to honor the deceased one, to reflect on their life, how they affected others and what it meant to me. I would probably spend the whole week remembering them. Why is Easter Week not the same?

What if I had someone I really love like my Dad or my Husband that were put in a position to give their life in exchange for mine? And they unselfishly chose to lay down their life to the point of death to make sure I could go on living? I would be a changed woman from the depths of my soul. I would not be able to stop thinking about them and what they did for me. Nothing would ever be the same. Every thought and action would be consumed with how can I show them my gratitude and love for what they did for me? My whole meaning of existing from that point on would be a life well lived with purpose. A life lived for someone else.

In light of this, the desires of my heart can go unanswered for all I am concerned.

For the answer to my question is quite blatantly obvious. Why do I love Jesus? I love Him because He first loved me and gave His life for me. (1 John 14:19 and 3:16)

Oh Lord, let me never be the same.


Friday, May 11, 2012

The Perfect Mom

I often compare myself to other moms. I know I have my strong points but I wonder if the lacking in my weak areas will negatively affect my kids for the rest of their lives. I am good at planning and organizing, structure and schedules, teaching biblical principles, scripture memory and efficient in getting all my house work done.  But I am not good at creativity, art projects, innovative cooking and snacks, playing for long extended amounts of time and the list goes on.

I just pray their “art projects” at church, bible study and other programs will be sufficient enough for their creative side to be stimulated. I don’t like play-doh, paint and pretending to be a princess. I give them a crayon and paper and say, “Draw me an animal.” Isn’t that good enough?

Is it really possible to be good at everything? I don’t want to limit my kids or stifle their growth in any way. Maybe that’s what the mom network is for, to do life together. If anyone wants their kids to learn bible verses and bible stories, bring them over to my house. Or if you want help with a schedule, give me a call. And if anyone wants to invite us over to do some spiffy art project, let’s do it! Or if you want to send me some great and easy recipes, please do!

The older I get, the less I know. But I know one thing for sure. God made me specifically for my kids. He designed my kids with me in mind. Somehow, He will sovereignly make up for all my weaknesses to allow my kids to turn out as well rounded as possible.

 I was created to be the Perfect Mom for my kids.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stay At Home Mom

This does not actually mean we stay in our houses all day, every day. We leave to go to the park, grocery store, gym, play dates, church, gymnastics class, swimming lessons, moms morning out, the mall, Target, etc.

But it does mean that our home is our place of employment, our job, our work, our office. And there are no high heels, nice clothes, or make up required. There are no awards, accolades, or achievements recognized. There are no salaries, bonuses, sick days or paid vacations.

There are a lot of diapers, poop, throw up, snotty noses, boo-boo’s and band aids. There is whining, crying, arguing, fighting, and back talking. There is little sleep or rest or time off.

When I go out to business functions with my husband and people ask me what I do, I respond with stay at home Mom. Sometimes, I can physically feel their respect for me plummet. They just give me that glazed over look with their eyes like they are placating me speaking for the moment in their presence.

Our society is backwards. We pay our athletes and actors an exorbitant amount of money that could literally feed whole nations for the rest of their lives. Let’s face it, they could end world poverty. And we pay our teachers and school coaches and pastors just enough to be above the poverty level. What the heck is wrong with this picture?

And then when you tell someone you are a stay at home mom, your status on the current monetary value system is ranked at the bottom next to a big fat zero.

We use money to deem how vital someone is in the role they play in this world. So, because some moms choose to forego a paycheck and not pursue their own dreams and decide to stay at home and raise children, some people might view that woman as not being intelligent or capable of achieving much success.

And yet we are shaping the future generation of this world. We are raising the next leaders and contributors to society. We are saying that our children are more important than any amount of money or achievements anyone else could give us. We are teaching young hearts how to care, we are modeling to young eyes how to act, we are molding young minds how to think. We are giving everything we have and all that we will ever be to someone else. To see them succeed. To send them out in society knowing they are loved, important and have much to offer to this world.

The cost of being a stay at home mom cannot be calculated with money. In fact, nothing of real value or eternal value can be weighed in dollars or gold.

Jesus gave His life away to pay a ransom for us. And people thought He was foolish.

“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”  John 12:24-25

Being a stay at home mom has a thousand deaths a day to die to myself. People might think I am foolish. But my choice of career will produce lives that will reap eternal rewards.

Next time someone asks me what I do, I will hold my head high and proudly announce, I am a stay at home Mom.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Outside My Four Walls

As a stay at home mom of toddlers, I am inside my house quite a bit. It is always shocking to me, when I do leave the house occasionally during the afternoon or evening hours, how much life is going on out there. I forget that I am in a very confined season where naptimes and bedtimes keep us indoors a lot  of the day. It can seem like the walls are closing in on me sometimes. In fact, if my walls could talk they would tell you there are times I feel lonely, depressed, overwhelmed, out of the loop, tired and bored of the mundane schedule.

For my sanity sake, it is important to connect with others throughout my day. It’s always nice to hear that other moms feel exactly the way I do sometimes. It is also good to know about  the challenges other moms are facing. And to stay in touch with what is going on in our neighborhood, church, and town.

When I am inside my four walls, I can get very self- focused, self-absorbed, and consumed with my own little life. When I get out into society, I hear stories that put my life in check and perspective. Moms going through major trials like divorce, lost jobs, sickness, accidents, disabilities, lost loved ones, and more.

It’s important that I go to moms groups and church and the gym and play groups so I can interact with others. As a new mom, you quickly learn that you need a support group as a life line to keep your head above water and survive in your new world and role as mommy. Isolation will kill you.

Being in community gives us opportunities to help other moms by either being a listening ear, or praying for someone or dropping off a dinner or planning a much needed girl’s night out. It makes me get out of my little box and comfort zone and focus on how I can bless others. It also serves as a good example to my kids in how to think about others rather than just ourselves.

It is essential to build community for when we are going through trials ourselves. So, you have a network to fall back on. Because let’s face it, we are all either going through a trial, getting out of one or ready to go into another one!

Lord, help me to get outside of my four walls as much as possible.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Life and Death, Blessings and Cursings

I don’t know about you but sometimes I have found the Old Testament of the Bible to be more difficult to read than the New Testament. Sometimes it does not seem to be as interesting or applicable to our lives today. But that would be far from the truth. The Old Testament is actually filled with stories about real people like you and me who had feelings, emotions, relationships and hardships. If we take the time to dig a little deeper than the surface and stop to reflect on what is going on between the lines, it is like finding nuggets of gold hidden in the black and white printed words. We might feel like they were people who were heroes and had faith beyond our reach but that would be incorrect. They are ordinary people who were called by God to do extraordinary things. They were murderers, adulterers, cowards, liars, and thieves. But God still used them. And we can learn a lot from their lives.

Sometimes we think following God is too confusing or complicated. But it’s not. This is one of my favorite passages found in the Old Testament.

“ …Obey the Lord your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

See I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers…”   Deuteronomy 30:10-20

Any questions? It is pretty clear, pretty cut and dry. Some people might ask, ‘So even though this is found in the Old Testament, does it still apply to my life today’? Oh yes my friend it does. I will not go into a deep theological explanation or an expository teaching of the New Testament on the matter today.

If you want to read more about God’s specific blessings on your life for obedience or His curses on your life for disobedience, you can find that in Deuteronomy 28. And if you want to read more about receiving prosperity in your life after turning to the Lord, you can find that in Deuteronomy 30:1-10.

It is interesting stuff and totally applies to our lives today. The choice is simple and it is ours for the choosing.
 Life and Death, Blessings and Curses.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Easier To Live With

As I get older, I see how people are evolving as they age above me or beside me.  Some do it with grace, poise and laughter. Some do it with a sense of entitlement, resentment and bitterness. Some people I just feel sorry for as I see their own demise unfolding at their own choices in life. Family and friends are distancing themselves further and further away from them.

And then I watch as some practice keeping their mouth closed, practicing self -denial and self- discipline, giving up their own wishes and living to serve others. Everyone wants to be around them, ask for their advice and know their secrets.

I can be high maintenance at times. I can be picky and difficult. I like to drink out of a cup with ice and a straw, I like to only stay in certain hotels, I like my house to be perfect when company comes over, I like to have my tea with 2 tablespoons of honey and my coffee with a lot of creamer. I am very particular about how to pack, travel and stay elsewhere with kids. I like to pre plan all the details. I like to abide to a strict schedule when it comes to sleeping and eating times. I tell myself this is all ok right now because it makes my family operate more efficiently.

But what about when it comes to things down the road like my kid’s choice of style or hobbies, or the college they choose or the mate they marry and the wedding of their desire. Then one day I will be staying in their homes and traveling to see them and hopefully playing with their kids.

I don’t want people to think I am too difficult and opinionated to have around. I guess I better start working on that stuff now. I can practice letting other’s have their way. I can choose to go with the flow better. I can try to just enjoy the ride instead of planning every moment ahead of time.

I want my friends and family members to want me around as I get older.

God, help me to become easier and easier to live with.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Understanding Love

For some Moms, they are head over heels in love for their teeny tiny babies the moment they pop them out and take their first breath. For some Moms, it happens the first week when they open their eyes long enough to gaze into their mother’s heart. For some, it happens the first month after all the traumatic experience of birthing the bundle is over and done with. And then there are Moms like me. It took me months to feel bonded to my little precious sunshines. And I didn’t even have postpartum depression! I mean I knew I loved them in my head and my 2nd one happened quicker for me than my first. But I am talking about that overwhelming sense of wanting to give my life for these kids. Knowing I would die in their place. Knowing my heart couldn’t live without them. Knowing I get to experience unexplainable joy watching them grow.

Thankfully, I had read in some book somewhere that it takes each mother a different amount of time to bond with their new babies. So, I didn’t freak out about it. And nobody could probably tell by observing me with my babies. I think my husband bonded quicker than I did! He held our baby girl fresh out of the womb all covered in that white stuff and announced, “I am a changed man!” He is not an emotional person so this was a big statement for him. He then continued to tell all of his friends and family members that upon his first conversations with them after her birth.

I, on the other hand, could hardly keep my eyes open due to all the drugs from an emergency c-section. I am surprised I could nurse but by husband and mother held her up to me and that child latched the first time and never had a problem. I just wondered how I was going to continue nursing when I got home and did not have four extra hands to help me. Oh, the funny thoughts of first time parenting. They are so ridiculous but so real at the time.

Although I hate the no sleep, no showers, and no extra time because of the relentless feedings, laundry, poop, throw up and messes to attend too. Those new born days are full of such sweet memories for both of my babies. There is just nothing in life that compares to it. There is a short time of pure euphoria when everything seems brighter, kinder and more alive than ever before. When the whole world stops and nothing else matters except for your little family unit. Where it doesn’t matter what wars, floods, and hurricanes are going on. All that matters is the love that is shared between a woman, man and child. A new Mom, Dad and Baby make a family and it is such a beautiful thing to behold.

The Lord is always giving us a picture and glimpse into His love for us in so many ways. But the love between a parent and child is the utmost, highest and most pure form of love we can find here on earth. The Heavenly Father God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to be tortured and die in our place. It is hard to comprehend that kind of love. I would not give my son up for anyone or anything in this world.  And I also would not hesitate to throw myself in front of a speeding bus to save my child. Now that I have children, I can better grasp the expense of the blood that was shed for me.

Thank you Lord for allowing me to understand Your love for me better by allowing me to experience my own love for my children.