Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Starve selfishness?

Foot washing is hard. I don't know why I should be surprised by that statement. I mean, did Jesus call us to do anything that comes naturally to our sinful natures? Maybe I just always thought of Jesus washing His disciples' feet and thought how noble and self sacrificing that must have been. And I thought in my own life I could do humiliating tasks (like toilet cleaning and diaper changing) and call my imitation of Christ done.
That's good enough, I figured. I've done the job everyone hates to do for the day, so I'm off the hook. I think I'll watch some TV or buy myself that dress I've been wanting. Maybe I'll read a good book or get a pedicure. Surely I should get to do something just for me. Everyone else does.
Selfishness is the language of our culture.
I speak it fluently.
Jesus spent His lifetime here on earth foot washing in a wider sense. He gave and gave. He prayed instead of slept, and then, exhausted, He gave some more. He healed. He taught. He listened. He provided. He nourished. He did all these and more without complaint, without ceasing. Do you think He ever got tired of giving? If He ever wanted just one person to understand His load and carry part of it for Him? Like the time He came off the Mount of Transfiguration after revealing His heavenly glory to three of His disciples only to find that the rest of them couldn't even heal one demon possessed boy. Did He think, "You guys can't just do one thing right for yourselves."
How many times have I thought (and said) that?
Instead of behaving like Jesus, I often let my selfishness dictate my thoughts and attitudes. I inwardly seethe.
"He gets to fulfill his dreams while I sit here listening to his kids scream."
"Why can't they just give me one minute to read the rest of my chapter before I feed them again?"
Then, when I serve because I must, it is not from a heart overflowing with love and praise to God, but from a heart full of anger.
I become a martyr.
"I always have to do everything around here," I stomp.
The question is: is there value in purposely giving up my desires and serving even when my heart attitude isn't right? In a way, that's what some monks or nuns do. They purposely give up desires that are not evil in and of themselves to train themselves to think less selfishly and more about God. But is there value in that sacrifice if it does not come from a joyful heart? Do I serve unwillingly and then receive joy? Or do I do small things that bring me pleasure in an attempt to fulfill some of my desires so that my selfishness doesn't rear it's ugly head out of continual frustration?
Can I starve selfishness?

"Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Whatcha think?

Ok, so I've changed a few things on my blog - in case you haven't noticed. =) I need some feedback. I'm not sure I love it. Maybe we should look at it as a work in progress...
Also, I made my blog stop posting itself automatically to facebook. I'm just not really sure that I want all 192 (yes, I had to look that up) people I've befriended on fb reading everything I write on here. It seems like if you want to look that deeply into my heart, you should have to at least go out of your way far enough to come to my real blog. Does that make any sense?
So I'm sorry if you love reading me on facebook. I think if you could make a good argument in favor of posting it there, you might find me easy to convince. I'm just not sure right now...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Perfect love?

Love is scary. It's dangerous. It totally freaks me out. Anyone I let into my heart has the potential to stomp all over it. What really terrifies me is loving someone who's hurt me in the past - who has demonstrated the ability (perhaps without even knowing they're doing it) to take the love I offer, wad it up, and throw it in the trash - like I watched a guy do to a "friendly" note from a scary weird girl stalking him in highschool.
I wonder if everyone is so nervous. It might just be me. Maybe I was scarred by early "friendship" experiences. Maybe I'm just incredibly overly sensitive.
Or maybe I just don't like to be vulnerable.
I was holding my tiny, beautiful, only neice the other day thinking. Isn't it incredible that the things we love the most are also the cause of the most fear in us? That precious little girl has the ability to break hearts. I went home and held my little girl and thought, "I love this little girl too much to express. And she holds this terrible power over me. Power to destroy my heart."
We don't fear for what we don't love. The reason I fear for my kids' and huband's safety is because I love them. Fear of losing or hurting them paralyzes me at times. And fear of their reactions guides my behavior. I don't care if the stranger in the grocery store dislikes the way I'm dressed, but if my husband says I look scary, I change quickly!
Yet I John 4:18 says "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear." So if I love people perfectly I will not fear them or for them? How do I get this perfect love? Is anyone giving it out? Because it seems like love is given based on performance by most everyone. How do I give out this perfect love to my kids? Do I assume others are giving it to me, or do I panic when I do something wrong - afraid they'll withold love based on my "bad" actions?
I have more questions than answers. I started thinking about this because I read my uncle's blog. He wrote this post and several following up. He has more answers than I do, so maybe we should all go over there and try to glean some wisdom. =)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Amazing grace

Do you ever have days where you feel like you're losing your mind?
Where everything seems to go wrong?
Where you want to quit whatever it is you do, take your favorite book and hide in a story until you forget how chaotic your life is?
I had one of those days.
Spilled juice.
Frozen bread.
NO stroller in the back of the van.
Forgot the sunscreen. (Yay for friends who remember thiers!)
Parking ticket. (Who knew it's illegal to park on the left side of the road?)
Forgot to put the sunscreen on me.
Sleepy kids.
Sleepy mommy.
Broken glass.
Spilled water.
Kylie tries to feed a bottle to a sleeping Ava.
A screaming baby who wakes up a still sleepy Julia.
Mommy loses her temper.
Serious screaming.
Destroyed house.
Daddy out flying til 11:00 at night.
Movie, anyone?
Can it be bedtime now?
Tomorrow will be better, right?

Sometimes I feel like the worst mother ever. I was in Sams on Friday. I took all four kids grocery shopping. I know, not the best idea. But a person has to have food, and Caleb's busy. So there I was in the frozen food aisle trying to grab a bag of frozen strawberries. I was applauding myself on my good mothering skills. "The kids are going to love the smoothies I make with these! Healthy and yummy!"
Pride goes before a fall.
I turn around to see this older woman glance at me contemptuously, annoyance written clearly on her face. I wonder why. Can't she see the healthy food I'm buying for my kids. Hmmm.... my kids. I suppose that's them spinning my giant-sized cart loaded with groceries and babies around and around like a top in the middle of the aisle.
Mommy lost it again.
My brain frantically searched for the most terrible threat I could think of that was safe enough to not get me reported to Child Protective Services if overheard.
I cling to.....what do I cling to? What do I have to cover these gaping holes in my mommy skills?
I hear a faint whisper:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9)
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed." (2 Cor. 9:8)
My lifeline.
My only hope.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Me? Brave?

Sounds like words to describe a Navy Seal or a Marine - not me.
Those of you who know me know that I'm more afraid than courageous. I'm scared of heights, snakes, deep water, spiders, heights, too many people, sharp tools, scary movies (Jurassic Park counts!), fast-moving vehicles, did I say being more than about 4 feet off the ground? And I'm definitely not strong. Look at my skinny stick arms.
I'm learning that it takes these qualities to be a good mom, though. And I'm seeing the first faint glimmers of them in my actions and attitudes.
It takes courage to say no to a two year old when you know you'll have to listen to half an hour of screaming afterwards.
You have to be strong to push 3 kids and $109 worth of groceries through Sam's while carrying a screaming, wiggly 18 pound baby. (Guess what I did this morning?)
You have to be able to let go of fear when your almost seven year old son decides to go tree climbing.
You have to be able to fight for the things that are important - like, "No name calling!" and "Don't pick your nose in public."
"You have to flush the toilet AND wash your hands."
And "Pull your dress down so your underwear doesn't show."
You had better be more stubborn than your strong-willed two year old.
You have to be brave enough to kill the giant spider without looking so freaked out that your kids are terrified of spiders for the rest of their lives - or start bringing you every spider they find just to listen to you scream.
I never thought of Joshua 1:9 as a mommy verse before.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”