Friday, January 29, 2010

Finishing the work assigned me -- and doing it with joy!

Our church is doing a daily Bible reading plan, currently going through the book of Acts. Today I was struck by Acts 20:22-24...

"And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don't know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God."

Now that is radical living. Unselfish. Faith that propels him forward, even knowing that great suffering is in his future. This really spurs me on!

I will admit, there have been a few times in the past couple of years when I have complained, "If I had known how hard parenting/mothering would be, I'm not sure I would have chosen it." [I'm kind of a wimp.] Mothering has been hard for me because:
1) it requires a great deal of self-sacrifice—which goes directly against the flesh;
2) it requires a great deal of patience—which also goes against the flesh;
3) it is frequently messy, inconvenient, and complicated; and
4) you need to keep perspective and have a clear vision for the future.
These things have caused me "suffering" to some degree or another, as they clearly reveal my weaknesses/sinfulness, which has been pretty devastating to me. Obviously, in all of this, I need God's strength, because it doesn't seem to come very easily or naturally!

BUT, as Paul said, "My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus..." Yes!!! What else would I be doing—I mean, really—besides raising my boys... devoting my life to the mothering role the Lord assigned me? I will strive to do it with joy! If the Lord assigned it to me, He felt I was capable (with His help) of doing it! And "better is one day in His courts than a thousand anywhere else!" (Psalm 84:10)

[As an added note, I love my boys—they are wonderful! This struggle has far far more to do with ME and my perceptions than with them.]

I trust You, Lord God! You are good. I feel warmed by Your approval—not because of what I've done, but because of my faith in Your love and grace!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beyond longing for an easy life... to living with eternity in mind

Over the last couple of months I have been reading a book called, "Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God" by Mary DeMuth. I have been so blessed by her realness about motherhood and her insights!

This morning I wrote down on a notecard part of a prayer (from p. 152):
"How selfish I am, Lord. How often I think that...eliminating pain from my life is the means to happiness. ...I want to give everything I am to You, particularly as I languish in motherhood. ...Teach me to live for eternity."

This is exactly where I'm at—languishing in motherhood—and I often catch myself worshiping the god of Convenience or the god of Easy. I like easy! Who doesn't like easy?! But the truth is, I don't think God calls any of us to an "easy" life...

Well, halleluiah—I came across Mary DeMuth's blog today! She says in her 1/11/10 post: "Now that I have a [personal] trainer for a few more sessions, I see my tendency to embrace comfort over exertion. She pushes me way beyond where I'd push myself, and I'm finally seeing results. It's that way in the spiritual life. The Holy Spirit pushes us out of the nest of our comfortable spot..."

I completely relate to that—the desire for comfort more than exertion—and how the Spirit (like a personal trainer) pushes us beyond where we'd push ourselves. My life feels "uncomfortable" a lot of the time—in my role as a mom there is a significant amount of self-sacrifice!—and if you'd really like to know, I have a cold right now that I've been fighting for the last 6 days that my youngest son is just starting to come down with. But I desperately want to live God's way—to have joy in the daily grind (even if my kids or I have a cold)—to live with eternity in mind! (and not fritter away my time on selfish things)—to not resent the things that infringe on what I *think* is MY time... blah blah blah... you get the picture.

Lord, forgive me for my selfish actions! I want to live Your way. Please take me by the hand and show me how. Help me leave behind the things that threaten to draw my focus away from You. Help me live a radical life for You, joyfully!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Room in hearts taken up by other crowding interests

This is a thought-provoking quote from Billy Graham, perhaps best presented at Christmas-time — but relevant to our lives every day of the year...

"One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You know you're a Minnesotan when...'ve had so many days with wind chills well below zero, that 15 degrees above zero feels warm to you!

Happy snow day! :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cooking experience

I just put together some Three Bean Casserole.... mmmm-mm! My favorite! (If I knew how to make it without brown sugar, I would... perhaps a combo of honey and molasses?... well, I'll figure that out another day...) Anyway, one of the ingredients is 1 lb. of bacon, fried crisp and drained. Any seasoned cook knows what isn't written: that you need to cut it into small pieces before adding it to the casserole.

It reminds me of my 7th grade Home Ec class, when we made New England Clam Chowder from scratch. The recipe called for bacon... but being UNseasoned cooks, we fried the bacon and threw it whole into the soup! Let's just say that made eating it a little more complicated. :)

In my teenage years, my mom kept encouraging me to help her prepare dinner, so I would learn how to cook. "Oh, Mom," I'd say in protest, "I'll just marry a man who knows how to cook!" Little did I know I wouldn't get married until I was nearly 32 years of age! After 8 years of marriage, 4 of which I have been a happy homemaker, my husband now raves about my cooking. :)

"Pray more..."

"Pray more." That was at the top of my list for the New Year. Yesterday I had one of those "enlightening" QTs, where I felt like I didn't want it to end—God had put excitement and urgency in my heart about the power of prayer. So I put my journal on the counter where I could see it all day—with the idea of it being a reminder to pray throughout my day. Unfortunately, I never gave it a second glance! :( Oh, how I desire to be a godly mom, sensitive to His leading... but in my flesh, I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it!

That's one big reason I'm so thankful for God's grace. In Psalm 25:9 it says, "He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His way." Note that it does not say, "He leads the perfect..." If I am willing to turn from my "selfish ambition" and submit myself to Him—my time, my efforts, my emotions, my very life—He will lead!

So, as cheesy as this may sound, I'd kind of like to get back to that old WWJD thing... What would Jesus do? In a sense, I want that to be my mantra for awhile... to help steer my mind, my heart toward the Lord... toward doing the right things—not just good things, but the things God wants me to do right then... "for such a time as this!"

So I thought, "How can I remember to remember WWJD? Wish I had a WWJD bracelet... although a bracelet could get covered by my sleeves and then I wouldn't remember anyway..." And then I got it—I decided to use a pen and write a small P on the top of my right hand. That P would remind me to pray throughout my day! Maybe kind of corny... but for today it's working!