Just Another One of Those Days

Last week, it was just another one of those days:

3:39 a.m. – Eight-year old says he can’t sleep and climbs in bed with me.  He rolls around for a bit, can’t fall asleep in my bed, and returns to his own.

4:39 a.m. – Awakened by a horrendous musical sound that I thought was the alarm clock.  Tried to turn off alarm clock only to find it would not go off.  Figured out it was a game on the tablet sitting next to me.  Don’t know why it went off them.

4:40 a.m. – Mistaking the clock setting for 5:00, I decide to get up (yes, I do normally get up that early).

4:50 a.m. – The dog throws up.  The big dog.

5:00 a.m. – Still working on preparing the first cup of coffee when 11-year old comes downstairs.  I shoo him back upstairs.

5:04 a.m. – Go on a hunt for wrapping paper, which I find…along with a large mess in a room that I thought was clean for company tomorrow.

5:05 a.m. – I try to wrap the 8-year old’s birthday presents only to find we have no tape.  Tape hunt begins.

5:10 a.m. – Hear noise from upstairs and go up to shush the two children who are now playing in one’s room.

5:30 a.m. – Hear my alarm going off in my room.  I must have turned it on inadvertently while trying to stop the noise at 4:39.  The beeping makes the dog still in my room start to howl.  The other dog, downstairs, starts to join in the howling.  I rush upstairs before all the boys are up, turn it off, and quiet the dogs.

5:35 a.m. – The 8- and 11-year old ask if they can go to the basement and play.  I figure it is the best alternative and may allow me to salvage my quiet time, so I let them.

5:40 a.m. – The 6-year old wakes up.  Send him downstairs.

5:50 a.m. – I am tired and in need of another cup of coffee.  I still have not done my quiet time, which is the reason I get up this early anyway.

5:59 a.m. – Last child gets up.  Hope of quiet time is dashed for good today.  Start breakfast and the day on a prayer.

I am not making this up.  I couldn’t make up this level of crazy detail.

Yet, that is my life.  Fire to fire to fire.  It can be exhausting, especially on your own.  Especially when all this happens before 6:00 a.m!

But…

These are light and momentary troubles.  I know they are.  They are the results of having a big family and lots of blessings.

The night before, my oldest and I watched The Passion of the Christ http:/www.thepassionofchrist.com/.  Keith and I had started the tradition many years ago to watch it at Easter time.  As painful as that movie is to watch, I find it a good reminder of just what is important in life.  It helps put “those days” into perspective.

Even when “those days” start before the first cup of coffee.

Kids up early?  Thanks, God, that, with our busy schedules, I have “morning people” for children.

Dogs barking and throwing up?  Thanks, God, for the blessing of our dogs, who are an almost constant source of affection and fun, never mind the protection factor.

Kindle going off?  Thanks, God, for the technology that you have given our world, and that we in our family can share it.

And thanks, God, for our nice, warm home, our health, and the blessing of living together as a family in this great country of ours.

Sometimes the best reminder on a stress-filled day is the pictures in my head of Jesus hanging on the cross…for me.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

– Isaiah 53:4-5

Follow-Through Faith

M-o-o-o-o-m, where’s my _________?

In a houseful of boys, this is a cry that is heard far to often.  Some days I am certain that a uterus must be a homing device.  They don’t have them; they can’t find anything.

And it is often quite frustrating.

Oh, if they legitimately look for something, I don’t get so hot under the collar; but if they take a cursory look at best and then start screaming for me to find something that they should know where it is, not I, I tend to get a little…peeved.

Any of you relate?

Then yesterday I read a verse that made me wonder if I do the same thing at times…with God.

It was one of those verses that I have probably read 100 times, and one that has always been kind of ancillary details to me…but something in it stood out to me this time.  How cool that the active Word of God can do that!

Genesis 15:11:  The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

To set the scene for this verse, God has just promised Abram a son.  He makes a covenant with him, but God, who created all, has Abram go and get the birds for the sacrifice, and then has Abram keep away the vultures while He prepares to burn the sacrifice Himself.

Abram had to do his part!  The God of the universe certainly could have told the birds of prey to take a hike and let Abram sit and watch the show.  But instead He had him take part.

And God blessed him…then in words and later by the birth of the promised son.

But Abram had to get ready for his blessing, do his part in the preparation of it, not just sit and wait for it to happen before him.  Huh.

As I look at some of the challenges I face this year, I need to keep this in mind.  Instead of just doing cursory things to get it done, I need to keep looking for what God wants me to do as part of preparation for the blessing. 

Financial issues?  Have I done my part and been a wise steward, or am I just barely looking around for what is needed and crying to Daddy? 

Finding a man in my life?  Have I prayed enough, determined what I need and want enough?  Have I done all I can emotionally, physically, and spiritually to be in a position to accept that gift should it come to me?  I know He has been honing off pieces of me…have I let Him?

So I guess that would be my new year’s plan…not a resolution, per se, but a plan.  

Do my part to be ready for God to do His.

He will be faithful, that’s a given.  I pray that I will be, as well. 

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. – Matthew 17:20

The Complex Nature of Farming for God

I have the privilege of praying for dear friends who are a farming family.  Never before have I paid so much attention to drought forecasts and tornado warning and snowstorm predictions in the Midwest.

I can’t be there to be part of the work, but by her Facebook posts and watching the weather, I can pray…and pray…and pray.  I hope I am praying effectively.  Lord willing, one day I will walk their fields with them and see the fruits of their labor.  If not, at least I can continue pray.

Shouldn’t that be the way that we look at dealing with our unbelieving friends, associates, and…gulp…unbelieving family?

Family can know where all the chinks in the armor are.  They can rile you quicker, and laugh harder than any others when you fail and fall.

I had a discussion with my dear friend Carol regarding witnessing to her unbelieving family.  She had been lamenting to her husband and son about their demands on her for money-motivated demonstrations of her love.  Her son had a response that stilled her.

Mom, it might not be for them that you are behaving as a Christian and providing for and putting up with them.  It might be a witness to their neighbors.

Wise words.  Not direct planting, but part of the process nonetheless.  In turn, maybe another family member of that neighbor can be the ones to get through to Carol’s family, bringing them to the Lord.  For that we can definitely pray.

All in all, this is a complex process.  We can only see our own little piece of it, and can be tempted to believe it is the most important piece.  Truly, though, it takes all these pieces to make the “planting” successful.  And it is not us who bring the increase.  It is the Lord Himself.

So, when with others, I cannot be direct with them in the planting of gospel seeds…whether due to distance or resistance…I can still pray for hands that will be there to do that work.  And I can realize that my prayers may be just what it takes to strengthen the other person for the work at hand.

Thanks be to God for giving us a part of the work, whatever part He may give us.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. – 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

What’s in a Name?

This year, as I have become more serious about walking, a whole new world of names has opened up to me.

I now have conversations that involve the words ‘shoe last’ and ‘wicking fabric’ and ‘yoga head wrap and ‘polar fleece’  I have brand knowledge of such brands as Reebok©, Adidas©, Champion©, Polartec©, New Balance©, and PrAna©, to name a few.

It is a whole new world!

But…especially at this time of year…I cannot help but think of other names…names that are infinitely more important…

Names like Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Mighty God, Prince of Peace

This year as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, the boys and I are working our way through Carol Garborg’s The Family Book of Advent (http://www.christianbook.com/advent-stories-activities-celebrate-meaning-christmas/carol-garborg/9781609365417/pd/365417?product_redirect=1&Ntt=365417&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP).  Each day, we read devotions, complete object lesson activities…and write the names of our Lord and Savior to hang on a wreath (we are doing a tree instead).

Each time we hit a “name alert” in the book, we are reminded of the richness, the completeness, the depth of love our Lord has for us.  He came to live and die so He would understand us…and so He could save us.  Mind blowing, when you think about it.

And much, much more important than walking gear.

I pray the whole world sees that!

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:9-11

In the Pink

This morning I got up extra early to work on getting our day together.  I knew we had a lot on our plate:

  • hair cuts
  • Christmas crafts for relatives
  • Christmas cards
  • Christmas baking
  • youth band practice

Not to mention:

  • house cleaning for our weekend company
  • homeschooling
  • the 5-6 loads of laundry (I have lost count) that are on my bed to fold

Too much for one day!  I hurriedly complete my Bible study (sorry, Beth) and start on the planning of this hairy day.  The Amy Grant song I Need A Silent Night ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRSSsNbF29I) is running through my mind.

I endeavor to persevere.  I plan the day down to the moments and get ready for the boys to get up so we can hit the ground running.

Then…

Jackson gets up and comes down…he’s got pink eye.

Ugh.

Now, this was not entirely unexpected.  I had started my day Tuesday with a run to the doc-in-the-box around the corner from the house with Tanner..  Since then, we have been washing hands furiously and peeking at everyone’s eyelids.

I thought we had dodged the bullet this time, and that Tanner was going to be the only one down with it.  Nope.

Next, checked Alex’s eyelids…pink eye starting there, too.  Matthew…same scenario.

Obviously my carefully planned schedule is out the window.  Regroup, regroup…

And someone (Someone?) has just turned up the volume of Amy Grant in my ear…

I’ve done it again, haven’t I, Lord?

Single parenthood is never easy, but especially not if you try to be Supermom, creating the best. Christmas. ever.

I know better than this!  Really, I do!

Yet it happens again and again that I get myself too deeply planned, too tightly stretched…

Not good for anyone.

And that is when God steps in…and gives me a time out…this time in the form of pink eye.

Instead of the crazy rushing around, my day now involves movies and jammies and an afternoon nap…and maybe some of those Christmas crafts and that laundry to fold.

Sorry, Lord, for doing it again…and again…and again.

Thanks, Lord, for loving me enough to get me out of my stress-mess via a time out.

Now I have to check my own eyelids…praying that other shoe does not fall.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your waysand My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

Like Glue

Another lesson on perspective yesterday.  (Note to self:  all of life is really a lesson in perspective.)

I walked a few minutes later than I normally do and therefore got to talk to my friend Renee after Joel got on the bus.  Great conversation!  Love getting to know this sweet sister in Christ!

Before our conversation ended, Carol and the other Renee came up as well.  I got to introduce these precious women to each other (yay!)…and to invite Renee to our Bible study (here were walking examples in Carol and the other Renee of the ladies in our group)!

God is so gracious!

Before Keith died, this Martha-to-the-max probably would not have taken the time to get to know any of these women.  I would have been too focused on my schedule, my kids, my life.

Not on the greater community.

Now, none of my prior focuses were bad.  In fact, God gave me charge of those things to steward.  They were, and are, my primary responsibility.

But the world has gotten smaller and bigger at the same time since Keith died.  I can and should do more.

I see another call on my life…being glue.

I met Carol and the first Renee simply by walking.  We have lived just a couple blocks from each other for years, but met because of speaking to each other while walking.  I gained acquaintanceship with two sisters in Christ!

Now, due to walking (and my big mouth), they now know each other.  The community grows!

Christ had twelve intimates, but I don’t see any evidence that He ever turned down getting to know another person.

I praise God that we can grow in community in the same way…simply by walking and being open to the people we meet along the way!

And this is love:  that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. — 2 John 1:6

A Matter of Perspective

The end of last week, the deputy who lives in our neighborhood stopped to tell us that, really, we should be walking on the other side of the street, against the traffic.  Today was the first day I tried it.

It is amazing what a difference ten or fifteen feet makes!

Hmm, that birds’ egg blue trim is brighter than I thought it was.

Wow!  Those flower beds really look great!

Yuck!  That pothole sure is deep.

I saw new things, spoke to new people, on the “other” side.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Isn’t all life like that…a matter of perspective?

Sometimes I need to look at things more closely to see what is really going on.

Why did he hit is brother?  Was it a ploy for attention…or some deeper issue?

Why am I feeling so out-of-sorts?  Do I need to take more me-time?

A new perspective can make a world of difference in the way I view my circumstances.  The things that bug me become small potatoes; the things I need to put more attention into come into focus.

All depending on how I look at them.

And the best perspective of all is…on my knees.

My days can be fraught with stress and confusion…and I have no human sounding board to help put me back into perspective.  That is when…especially…I need to turn to God to give me the perspective I need.  His is always perfect.

And I learned something else as well today.

Walking in this new way this morning, I had to keep reminding myself to cross the street.  I had to be diligent to avoid the old patterns.  I had to keep focusing on what was new and different, what new things I was seeing instead of the familiar, the old way.

How like me in my walk as well!  Keeping my eyes focused on the positive…on my Savior…makes all the difference.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. — 1 Peter 1:13