Eternal Vision

Leave a comment

When I had one child, I worked part-time while my husband or a family member stayed with my baby. When I had a second child, I stopped working altogether. My last day of work would have been the day my second was born, but considering my water had broken that morning and the doc later said I was in labor, I felt it best to call in ‘sick’ that day. I have since never returned to a job.

And I have never had a regular break from being a stay-at-home mom to 2 kids. For almost 3 years. I’ve gone out. My husband and I have had dates, even over night getaways. The kids are in nursery at church. But there has never been a period of time without the kids for multiple days in a row. Until now.

Enter VBS-Vacation Bible School. Out of the plethora of churches in our area with a summer VBS, only one took children as young as 2. Needless to say, that is where I signed the kiddos up for. Three hours each morning (minus drive time) for five days. In a row. I planned to paint the kids room and finish the floating TV console I had built and had to stain and hang. Not to mention clean the house to get ready for my husband’s family to come in to town. All this ‘free’ time to myself, oh how I loved the idea of it!

I have ended up loving it a little too much. Probably a lot too much.

There’s this corner down the road a bit where two homeless people we have befriended stand. We quite often pack a food bag and go out of our way to drive by, stop and talk, and give them food and maybe a few dollars. Wonderful people, living in tents, fighting to survive each day. One is terminally ill and the other just found out she has a severe form of skin cancer (I’ve seen the black spot, it doesn’t look good). The kids and I love to see our friends and to bless them. It’s really a blessing to us as well.

And yet as I found myself driving the kids to and from VBS, I found myself wanting to find another route to take so I didn’t have to pass by that corner. Why? Because I would feel awful not stopping to say hi if I saw one of our friends. I just didn’t have time to stop, I had important things to do. After all, it isn’t every day I get all this time to get things done, kid free! Rooms to paint (simply because I didn’t like the color), TV consoles to build and stain (simply because I wanted a different ‘look’ for our living room), a house to clean (to impress people, they are family after all). I didn’t have time, even 10 minutes, to stop and chat with people who didn’t have many friends, much food, or any money.

That evening over dinner my husband asked me how my day was. I told him, and I quote “I had my head up my butt all day, wanting to get the bedroom painted. In my own little world. Selfish, that’s me.” Harsh, yet true.

Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Y’all, that day my heart was on earthly treasures. Treasures that don’t even matter one iota. Is it inherently wrong to paint a room to simply change the color? Probably not, but when it comes at the expense of storing up a heavenly, or eternal, treasure, such as feeding the hungry, aiding the poor or the building up of one another, then yes, it most definitely is wrong. 

Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”

How often do we live our lives with our head up our butts? Engrossed in our own little world, our own family, our own home, our own day to day routines, jobs and tasks that in the end, when it comes to eternity, mean nothing? All the while forgetting that God’s greatest command was to love Him with all our hearts, minds and souls and to love others as ourselves. Nowhere in there does it say to actually love ourselves; that comes naturally. Yet it is so easy to be focused on taking care of myself (thus the ‘self help’ book revolution) that we forget in doing so, we are storing up only earthly treasures and nothing that will withstand God’s judgement.

I recently read the back of a book given to us (don’t ask me the title or author, the book has since becomes ‘hidden’ in our house) and it told the story of a couple who worked hard (a good thing), retired early (successful) and spent their days on the beaches of Florida, collecting sea shells and enjoying the sunshine (God created both those things). They eventually die, get to heaven and God asks them what they’ve done with their life. They show Him handfuls of sea shells. Kind of seems ridiculous, but it begs the question, what will we have to show God when he questions us? What handfuls of treasures will we show Him? Because the only ones that matter….are the treasures we don’t even have. If we have lived our lives with eternal vision, we have stored all of our treasures up in heaven and they are there waiting for us.

My kids have one more day of VBS. Their bedroom is painted, the TV console will be finished tomorrow and while the house isn’t as clean as my family would like to see it, I can blame that on the leaking toilet that flooded our master suite that I had to deal with one day. More importantly, I have made it a point to take my head out of my butt and drive by that special corner with a bag of food, a few dollars, and a smile on my face, realizing that the smile on our friends’ face is worth far more than any number of projects I could get done during all my kid-free time.

————————————————————————————-

Note: In no way am I intending to imply that we get to heaven by our works, or by what we do. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” We get to heaven by handing over our lives to Jesus and simply receiving the salvation he has to offer. However, through that submission to Jesus we enter into a relationship with him that changes us, transforms us, synchronizes our heart with his. And when our heart is lined up with his, we willingly become his hands and feet out of our love for him, showing our love for him by loving others.  

Advertisements

What About Bob?

Leave a comment

Has anybody seen the movie What About Bob? It’s old (1991) and while I think I’ve only seen it once, I also think I remember it being funny. I’ve thought that about a lot of movies and TV shows though and rewatching them now, I wonder what in the world I ever thought was good about it. So, if you watch it and it isn’t good, don’t blame me.

While I can’t recommend watching the movie, I can recommend another Bob you may enjoy. He’s an outdoorsy type, has a good handle on survival skills, looks like he has a hard life but pretty well kept considering his circumstances. He is extremely nice, grateful and makes my kids smile. Every time my kids and I see him, he has a big (though tired) smile and my 4 year old goes crazy if I don’t let her say hi. She also calls Bob her friend. We like him so much that we go out of our way to see him. Here’s a picture of Bob.

4E4372C1-DC5D-4A6C-8D7E-9ABECE0DB4A4.jpeg

That’s the corner he stands on. It isn’t far from where he lives-a parcel of uncleared woods where he lives in a tent camp with a friend of his and his friend’s girlfriend. I’m not sure if there are other people who live in their camp with them, but it wouldn’t surprise me considering how many homeless people live in our town and how little available space there is for them. Bob says he has camped all his life…..but he always had a home to go back to. Not so anymore. No bed waiting for him after roughing it a few days or even weeks. Camping is his life now.

I don’t know why Bob is homeless. I don’t know if it was stupid choices on his part or some really tough bits of life thrown his way. I don’t know if his family was tragically killed, he lost his job because he couldn’t function in the pain he felt every second of every day and he hasn’t been able to fully recover. I also don’t know if he hasn’t been able to keep a job because he’s hung over every morning and spends all his money on drugs and alcohol.

What I do know is that Bob is nice and gratefully takes anything we have to offer him, which is mostly food and sometimes a couple dollars here and there. I once asked him if there was anything he really needed other than food. He didn’t ask for money. He asked for some new pants.

(a couple weeks have gone by since I first started this post)

We hadn’t seen Bob in a couple of weeks and when we packed a bag of food to bring to him this morning, he wasn’t at his corner. I was so let down. I can’t describe the joy I felt as the kids and I opened our closet to sort through our homeless food stash. The kids helped pick out some food that would fill him up (canned ravioli), offer comfort (mashed potatoes) and be healthy (applesauce). We then threw in a couple of other non perishable and easy to open meals, along with some crackers, fruit bars, a couple waters, and some single serve instant coffee packets. My heart dropped when I didn’t see him on his corner and all we could do was drive by and say a prayer for him (which is actually the best thing we could do for him-pray-but we sure were wishing we could help feed him).

Leaving the grocery store we decided one last ditch attempt at seeing Bob and lo and behold, there he was! We had missed him earlier because he rode his bike over to WalMart to exchange the pants we had bought him. Turns out he’s a size 14 BOY instead of a 16. Apparently camping 24/7 and living off the few dollars he’s able to scrape together along with the generosity of people like you and me doesn’t keep the weight on him. Go figure.

We also got to meet a friend of Bob who “camps” with him, Cynthia. Her smile was just as big as Bob’s and she helped me pull back into traffic at the red light. I never asked her to and as I pulled away, I saw her picking up the garbage at their corner.

How many of us would do that?

I wish I had a home for Bob and Cynthia. I wish I had the means to provide work for them, maybe a garden to grow some of their own food. I wish more people cared about Bob. I wish more people would get out of their own little world and start asking ‘What about Bob? What about Cynthia? What do they need and how can I help?’ I bet you’ll find they aren’t that different from you and me, they have interesting stories to share and that getting to know them, maybe even helping them, will give you a joy that many people have never felt.

Fallopian Free

Leave a comment

Years ago I remember the big fright was getting kidnapped and waking up without a kidney. The kidnappers had put you to sleep and taken your organ to sell on the black market. Thankfully, I am here to tell you this never happened to me.

What did happen to me is someone took my fallopian tubes. Both of them. This means I can no longer get pregnant. Allow me to do a happy dance.

Okay, I’m done. And I probably shouldn’t dance because weird things happen and you never know, 10 years from now I could be writing a blog about how I have a 14 and 12 year old, no fallopian tubes, and yet I’m pregnant with my third child. Everyone would rave about how it’s a medical miracle. Except I wouldn’t. Why? Because I don’t want to be pregnant ever, ever again. Which is why I willingly let someone take my fallopian tubes.

I often see blogs and articles and hear comments about how we need to be careful of what we say regarding pregnancies and motherhood and babies because there are lots of women out there who would give their left arm to have a baby. I hurt for them. I can not imagine wanting a little human being so bad and being willing to do anything to have one and yet not being able to conceive, or losing the baby before birth.

But I want to bring light to another subject-those of us who so desperately desire to never have another baby again. Just about every time I told someone why I was going to have my tubes “tied” (or removed in my case), I got a funny look. It wasn’t because I didn’t want more kids. It wasn’t because feeling sick 24/7 sucks or that the actual pain of child birth was too great to bear. It wasn’t because another child would bring financial strain.

It’s because I lived in a black fog during my pregnancy. Depression descended on me during my first trimester and weighed me down like a 500 pound curtain every second of every day for 18 weeks. Thankfully it lasted only my first trimester, but it was bad enough that I never want to go through it again. Considering that I went through it for both of my pregnancies, I think it’s safe to say that it would happen again with another pregnancy. As much as I love my kids and I’m sure I’d love any more that I had, I have no desire to go through that depression again for another child.

And that brings me to my second reason for doing a happy dance over my fallopian tube removal-I have no desire to raise another baby. This gets really funny looks from other people. Apparently I don’t fit the mold when it comes to women and babies. I would rather adopt 3 more toddlers than care for and nurture another infant. Not my cup of tea, which is apparently weird in the world of females. But alas, that is me. I will gladly hold and coo at your infant because 1) I know how much you, as the mom of a baby, want a break and 2) I get to give your baby back.

I don’t write all this to make light of those women who are not able to have a baby. I don’t write this because I don’t love my kids with so much of my heart that it sometimes hurts.  I write this because every since my second child was born over 2 years ago, I have freaked out every month, scared to death that I’m pregnant, and then I get that sign that I’m not, but a few days later it starts all over again. I know I’m not the only woman who has ever felt this desperate to NEVER have another baby, thanks to a couple of other blogs I’ve read out there. Perhaps my words will help validate the same feelings some other woman is having but is too embarrassed or even ashamed to voice because she’s a woman, she’s supposed to love babies, right? Her uterus is supposed to leap when she hears a baby cry, right? After all, it’s God’s design, right?

I’ve had my babies. I’ve put in my time and I’m done. I am fallopian free and loving it (actually I’m still healing from my incisions so am supposed to be taking it easy, but I’m saving up my energy for a nice, long happy dance)!

 

Family

Leave a comment

A couple months ago our church held a beach baptism at a local beach. This is where new Christians profess their faith in Christ in public by being dunked under water, symbolizing being washed clean by Jesus. Church goers gather at the park, have a time of worship then we all go down to the beach to celebrate with those getting baptized, play and hang out. Sometimes the waves are really big and end up dunking the people before the Pastor has time to lower them under. It makes me laugh, but that’s besides the point.

My family decided to go to the baptism, which quite honestly, I was not looking forward to. I didn’t want to bother with the kids in the sand and water, being in the sun, etc. etc. Never mind that there were over 20 people, many of them kids, who had recently turned their life over to God, which is the reason of all reasons to celebrate. I was going to be uncomfortable and that was more important to me. Not one of my proudest moments.

But we went. As soon as we got there, we found friends to stand and sing with. I slipped in next to a fellow mom who was holding the young daughter of another mama friend, who was at home sick. After a few minutes the young son of my friend next to me walked over and wanted to be held too. She bent to pick him up and after helping hoist him up, I offered to take the friends’ girl she was holding. She lay her head on my shoulder and I softly sang in her ear. Some of the older kids were playing with a coconut behind us and I turned around as one of the dads stepped in to quiet them down. A few minutes later my two kids came up and wanted my attention, so I sat the friend’s girl down with her older brothers and sisters, their friends and another mom.

That’s when it hit me. Today is about family; new members of the family of Christ being welcomed; sharing in a time of worship and play with my family; living life with our friends, many who have become like family. We take care of each others kids, passing them between us, caring for them, correcting them, loving them. We weren’t doing each other a favor, we were simply living life together. I was humbled.

The icing on the cake came when I looked down at my daughter who was telling me the song we were singing was from church. It wasn’t a favorite song of mine at the time, not even one I really cared for, but as I watched my little girl raise her hand to Jesus and sing the words she picked up on, it became my new favorite song. How awesome is was to be able to stand there, in a public place, with my family and my friends, worshiping the Creator of the ocean itself.

I often struggle with not feeling at home, regardless of the fact that I have lived here for over 5 years, married my husband here and have raised my kids, thus far, in this town. That day changed me. It filled me with a peace knowing that no matter where I live, God is there. I may miss seeing him in the mountains, but He is in the ocean too. I may miss my family I grew up with, but I still have family surrounding me.

Praising Jesus to the same song, just at home. She calls it her song now.

20170807_155547

Here is the link to my new favorite song:

What breaks the heart of God

Leave a comment

I recently wrote about how God has taken my heart and made it a bleeding mess for the “have nots’ of this world and how as a society, we aren’t doing much to alleviate those needs. There IS enough food in this world to feed everyone. EVERYONE. There is enough money to bring fresh water to every last village around the world. Every. Last. One.

No, it is not a problem of the rich being too rich or not using their money as they should. No, this is about how each one of us, from the wealthiest person right down to the one who has all of their needs met but not much more, have stopped caring.

This week I got my feathers ruffled over a guy who took out a loan to buy a boat. He took out a loan because he couldn’t wait to sell his motorcycle to free up some money. The motorcycle was bought with his giant tax return and his life savings. He also has a huge loan on a very nice truck. I was so angry thinking about how many people could have been fed with even a tenth of his new boat loan; how many children could be taken off the streets and put in a safe house where they don’t have to sell their bodies; how many people could be given the gift of livestock and fresh water that would provide a means of self care for generations to come. But here was this guy who has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on himself, for pleasure.

I was indignant! Does he not see the hurts of this world? Does he not read his Bible and see Jesus command us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” and “do unto the least of these as we would unto him”?

But I was wrong. So, so, so very wrong. Yes, there are needs to be met all around us. But the problem isn’t that we don’t meet them, the problem is that we don’t even care. We may say we do, we may write blogs about how we do (hand raised right here), but if we do care then we will do something about it.

Just today I plotted how to rearrange my back yard to be more child friendly and look attractive, thought about how to better organize my shelves of kid crafts and toys, fantasized about having my bathroom and bedroom painted and done instead of doing it myself over the course of a few weeks, and about a dozen other things that don’t really need to be done in the grand scheme of things. Not once did I say a pray for those people who will die today from starvation. Not once did I think about how I could free up just $10 in the next month to donate to Safe Refuge International (https://www.saferefugeinternational.com/) to help women caught in sex trafficking. I meant to drop off some size 5 diapers to CareNet Pregnancy Center (http://www.carenetirc.org/), but I got distracted by all of my ‘busy-ness’.

Today, there was no difference between myself and that guy who bought a boat. None. His heart was on things of this world, and so was mine.

Lord, forgive me. Forgive me for judging the boat guy. Forgive me being distracted from the things that really matter on this earth. Forgive me for setting my heart on the things of this world instead of on you. Forgive me for not caring. Give me a heart that is one with you, that breaks for the things that make you weep, a heart that is focused on eternity. Amen.

Dream kitchens and hungry babes

Leave a comment

Though I don’t watch much TV to begin with, HGTV is a semi-regular channel on our TV. I like to dream of my perfect house, get ideas for DIY projects around my current home and laugh at the little things home buyers get so worked up about, as if the knobs on the kitchen cabinets are really worth not buying a house because of.

However, recently, a gnawing in my gut has started as I watch these shows about people buying a vacation house, remodeling their home to be more sophisticated and modern, and searching for a house with a master bedroom the size of my entire house, 3 car garages or kitchens that a restaurant gourmet cook could only dream of having.

Instead of dreaming about what I want, these shows now make me think of the third world countries where people live in one room shacks that may or may not have something covering their windows, much less a large bay window over-looking a lake. What gives me the right to sit here in my air conditioned house, which apparently is small at less than 1400 sq ft for our family of 4 according to HGTV, with a fridge, freezer and cabinets stocked full of food while a mom on the other side of the world sits outside of her shack because she can at least have some air flow in the stifling heat, rocking her babe who hasn’t eaten in days? Why am I able to go to my small but fully functional kitchen to get a glass of filtered water while that other mom has to choose between her child dying of thirst or giving him muddy water that may or may not have fecal matter or other contaminants in it? While my kids nap I get the luxury of a quiet house to either get some chores done or sit and watch TV. Meanwhile, the other mom doesn’t have to worry about folding clothes because the only items they own are the ones they are wearing, but she does have to worry about if today will be the day her child dies from malnutrition.

And yet, while people die every. single. day, we sit here and continue to think about our dream kitchens, lose ourselves in HGTV and shows like The Bachelor and spend our money on ourselves because we’ve worked hard and we’ve earned it.

Y’all, we are a blessed nation and God says that He blesses us in order that we may bless others. I weep as I write this because I am so guilty of being so caught up in my own life, my own house, my own kids, that I forget that I can do something for that mom on the other side of the world. I don’t know how to help, but maybe it starts with shutting off the good ol’ boob tube and actually looking for a way to help. (Side note-while I talk about the mom on the other side of the world, there are plenty of people here in our own country, state, city that need our help). Instead of using social media to look at what other people are doing today, perhaps I use it to find an organization that is intimately involved with providing help for those who are in need, and I link up with them. It may be giving money, which if we’re honest, can be freed up in our budget if we are willing to sacrifice one or two wants of our own, or donating needed items, spreading the word and information, or perhaps it’s volunteering even one hour of our time each month.

Far be it from me to think that I am too busy or strapped too tight financially to tell the mom of a dying child that my life is more important than hers, that my kids matter more than her babes.

 

Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Leave a comment

If I were to describe myself, the word ‘gentle’ would not be my first choice, nor would the phrase ‘quiet spirit’  come to mind (though I can be quiet as far as not talking much, a quiet spirit is entirely different). However, during a bible study I did last year, I came across 1 Peter 3:4.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

This verse stuck to me, ingrained itself in my brain, burrowed under my skin, and has latched onto my heart. I haven’t been able to shake it. I wasn’t exactly drawn to the verse because I liked it. I’ll be honest with you, while this bible verse may be telling me how I’m supposed to be, it sure as heck ain’t me and to be even more honest with you, I haven’t wanted it to be me. This kind of woman sounds so blah, boring, weak.

I pretty much ace the whole ‘don’t put all your efforts into looking good because that isn’t where true beauty comes from’. I’m lucky to get a shower without the kids seriously maiming each other, let alone spend even another few minutes doing something worthwhile with my hair and face, so it’s rare to find any extra adornment there.

But what about this “gentle and quiet spirit” the bible talks of. What exactly does that mean? As I looked up the original, greek word used for ‘gentle’ and found it is the same word used in 1 Kings 19:11-12.

“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (italics mine)

And that is where God was found. Not in the power of the wind, nor the earthquake or even the fire. He was in the gentle whisper. While His very presence is one of power and commands our awe, He need not showcase himself with dramatic revelation. He is ‘I Am’ simply because He is God, not because of how he appears.

“God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14

Now on to the next word that I haven’t been a huge fan of: ‘quiet’. The original, greek word used here can also be derived from the greek word which means ‘firm, immovable, steadfast’ (according to the Blue Letter Bible at blbclassic.org).

Now, I get it. Instead of hearing this verse tell me I’m supposed to be blah, boring and weak, this verse in 1 Peter is telling me something entirely different. To have the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” is calling me out to be a woman of quiet strength and dignity, unshakable peace, firm in my beliefs, passionate and steadfast in God’s truth. This verse does not tell me to lay down and be a doormat, but rather to rise up and change the world for Jesus. Not by showcasing my beliefs in anger or by disrespecting and putting others down, but by being a peaceful anchor for my family to hold on to when life’s storms blow us around, by offering forgiveness to those who hurt me instead of avenging my pride, by not letting the words of others break me because my strength and identity come from God, by standing up for what Jesus taught and how he lived even when it is the unpopular stance to take. No, this verse is not about a woman who just smiles and nods, but rather about a woman standing with her God, messy and dirty from the trials of her life, but who’s unfading beauty shines forth as she stands tall in the presence of her Saviour.

Older Entries