Monday, October 29, 2012

Jock Strap Kind of Love

Upon pondering this, I realized that so often my big encounters with the Lord were actually an adrenaline-laced experience of being with hundreds of people worshipping in the same place. It wasn't actually about God, it was about me being in the middle of a large event who's momentum fooled me into believing I was meeting with God. This is just my jacked up heart and mind. Anyway...

Romans 12 has officially sucker punched me in the jugular. It's this litany of evidences that are easy to succeed at every once in awhile, but certainly not all of them in the same day. This chapter piles out different ways that will evidence your faith in Christ.

Romans 12:12 (This is just one verse. Trust me people, the verses that follow will make you look up at God and scream uncle.)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Bless them. That's an active motion. I typically just like to ignore those who persecute me. Except for the one time where I started off praying for but then started plotting ways to kill an old lady's parakeet. Usually I can just ignore them and keep moving. But this verse is calling me to bless them. To include them in my life like Jesus did to Judas. Romans talks about this as a mark of being a Christian because there is nothing in this world that tells us to bless those who persecute and hurt us. To actively seek their good. Rolling my eyes and saying 'whatever' is not actively seeking their good.

If I actually live my life this way, I would immediately feel my heart giving my head a high-five, congratulating in for trickling down all of its information into something useful. Then while I'm doing a proverbial hurky in my spirit, I would realize that my pride just canceled out all those "marks of the true Christian," that just occurred.

If I actually lived this way, the world would do a double-take at Jesus because this life He lived was so dastardly out of the ordinary. He melted the anger of mobs, white-knuckled flames being thrown as stones to an adulterous woman.

I wonder how many wars would be prevented if the church took in our enemies? Fed them warm wheat bread and soft cups of green tea. The risk in this is that there will be times that our kindness won't be reciprocated. That our thoughtfulness will drown in a pool of hate and dissension. But if we resent the thoughtfulness not being reciprocated, I think it exposes our motivations weren't in line with Jesus' in the first place. 

I'm honestly not sure where my personal application in this is. I just know that for too long I've loved those who loved me back. That's bench-warming type of love. That's easy. Blessing those who persecute you requires one to man up, put on a jock strap, and love Jesus enough to take a few hits for the team.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You are what you drink?

Hubs has joined the blogging world today by contributing this:

(As a quick aside when we facetimed with hubs this morning, my son asked, "What is that blue thing you are wearing?" Brad responded with, "That's called a button down shirt and tie, buddy.")

This may be a misquote, but I read somewhere that you are what you eat drink.....

Let's try it....

Yep, it's true!

Before passing my defense, my advisor did have to make one clarification. 
He caught my reaction on camera. 

Well, . . . I've spent 11 years on 4 degrees post high school. 
What have I learned from all this? I'll save that for my next blog.

For now, I need to reacquaint myself with that thing called sleep. 
I think they have books on that too. Off to the library....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No More Jesus Pep-Rallies

Does anyone else feel like sometimes they have been fooled into attending a Jesus pep-rally? Like the bigger, slicker, louder your event than the more God is moving. Bigger, slicker, louder isn't a sin until it becomes a requirement for me to "feel" the Lord's presence.

I have been a Christian culture groupie for a long time. Until we moved to China, I would roll my eyes at Thomas Kinkade, saxophone worship song interludes, and pastors who wore suits. All of  my arrogance balled itself up and would pelt anyone else who decided that mainstream was good enough for them. I thought (erroneously) that the edgier I was, the closer to Jesus I had become. I would attend these huge events and vow to never listen to Salt-N-Pepa again. Until of course someone would say "ladies, all the ladies" over a loud speaker and I would immediately start thinking "louder now, help me out..."

Looking back, I realize that I was addicted to the experience of Christianity and not the person of Christ. So enter from stage right a big traumatic move to China. Enter from stage left 5 children. My adrenaline faith wasn't going to get me through this. When people asked me about my walk with the Lord, I didn't have much to say because in my peon brain that question was really asking me how much time I had spent with Jesus in the morning. Nothing more and nothing less. This question is a valid one, but I have struggled with this over the last few years. With 5 kids, most nights involve at least one of them waking up for some reason.

The dolphins were attacking their sheets.

T-Rex was eating their pajamas.

Brother just piled drived me from the top bunk.

I would wake up exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in prayer. For awhile I would just suck it up. That's what all good Texas women do. We I would start to pray and then become so excited that I got to close my eyes that sleeping was not far behind. But after my sleep/prayer time, I always felt much better. But honestly I have to attribute that to the sleep factor, not the prayer one.

My walk with Jesus is just going to need to look different. I was going to need to pray while I did dishes; to spend a little time in the morning before the kids woke up, but it just wasn't going to be 2 hours of study. I was going to need to put a Bible in the bathroom to read for the 30 seconds each day when my kids don't know where I am. I was going to have to find reasons to be grateful and allow that to help me to love Jesus more. I was going to have to pray harder with my kids, study the Bible more with them in homeschool. My "devo" time was going to have to be rolled out within the course of the day.

This has been so freeing and actually helped me to spend more time with Jesus in the long run. When I was motioning through my times in the morning, I subconsciously told myself that Jesus and I were done for the day. As my kids get older, I'm sure this will change. I just hope that for you moms in the trenches, this brings you freedom to find a good rhythm in your day. I would love to hear how other moms do this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PhD is almost finished!

I proposed this very thing to Brad. Seriously, they would so remember your defense if you went in with a tambourine. 

My dear husband is defending his thesis this week. We have been married for almost 14 years, and almost all of those years can be marked in semesters. He has done 2 Masters degrees and now a PhD. All of this momentum will hit a wall the end of October. We've labeled his grey hairs affectionately with each step of this degree. 

I am so amazingly proud of him.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Freedom to Sing-Part 2


This is the follow-up post to this and this

Moses’ response was steady. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Be silent is the only thing you don’t want to do when you are afraid. Seemingly you are allowing tragedy to happen without a fight. Yet, this is exactly what Moses (and the Lord) is requiring of the Israelites. No kicking and screaming, just faith.

The Lord instructs Moses to “Tell the people of Israel to go forward.” To keep walking. One foot in front of the other. In order to walk without stumbling, you must keep your eyes looking ahead. Looking back brings missteps and confusion. Look forward. Trust each step. In the case of the Isrelites, the forward view only brought more uncertainty. Water. Deep, dark seas full of death. The very waters that claimed an entire generation of Hebrew boys. It is these very waters that the Lord was drawing their hearts to trust.

As Moses lifted his arms, the Egyptian army was being motivated by the hardening of their hearts by the Lord. He was rescuing the Israelites in one breath and motivating the Egyptians in the other. A contradiction of strategy, yet perfectly constructed to build a faith in His people. They didn’t need the Egyptians to surrender, they needed the Lord to overcome. A new resolve in the Egyptians would require of the Lord a redemption plan not written by Moses.

And as a father to a scared child, the Lord provided a pillar of cloud before and after them to guide them into the unknown of the Red Sea. A father who has his hands on the small of the child’s back, guiding them into school on the first day. Excitement, fear, trepidation. They chose to follow simply because Dad said it would be okay.

Moses’ hand was raised and before the unbelieving minds of the Israelites, the waters became a pathway of salvation instead of a trapping of death. The walls would close them in, not destroy them. The water’s destruction would be reserved for the strength of the Egyptians. Their power and renown taken down by cascading water and the pounding footsteps of an escaping Israelite nation.

As they moved out of the dry bed of the Red Sea, their feet were muddy and moving in humilty at the power of the Lord’s hand.

The Israelites began to sing. Freedom welled up from the depths of their fear and brought about song. Hope restored. It is from either the hope or reality of freedom that brings song. Fear confuses the notes and we are left silent. But here, the Israelites were free. And songs were sung to the cadence of feet stomping out freedom by walking away from oppression for the first time in generations. No longer would bondage define who they were. Their children could dream without it remaining a wish. 

God wants our freedom to sing. To not allow fear of the unknown to choke out the notes transcribed and composed by God. God wants freedom to not be mustered up by self-motivation and Christian pep-rallies. He wants our hearts to unwind from the fear of self and beat in time with His glorious song of redemption. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Crisis of Mixed Identity-Part 1

When the Egyptians realized that they had just freed an entire workforce of Israelites, they panicked. The Israelites had been set to the tasks of hard labor for 400 years. Generation after generation woke up to move bricks and harvest wheat. The Israelite children did not dream of starting their own business or building a new home. Their future had been hijacked by the realities of slavery. All of their hope would be dictated by the Egyptians. For many Egyptians, outsourcing the hard labor had become a way of life.

For the Israelites, oppression and fear had define who they were as a people. No longer where those things to fight against. For generations, grandparents had instructed their grandchildren the ways to remain human and yet a slave. How to remain free in their soul while in bondage for their reality. When Moses shows up on the scene, he is asking the Israelites to strip themselves of the comfort they had found in oppression. It was who they had become. They had become someone else’s convenience. Freedom was a needless accessory. While their daily tasks were instructed, their necessities were taken care of. Now Moses is asking them to put their national freedom and the name of their God above all else. To forsake the daily provisions and proclaim their allegiance to God. To march defiantly away from Egypt and trust that the Lord is going to provide food, shelter, and a way of escape.

As Moses fought for their freedom, a sense of jubilation began to fill the cavities of a population emptied of identity. Under duress, Pharoah had let the Israelites go.  I am sure tentative celebrations ensued. As they walked away from their homes, their heads were lifted in confidence by the protection they had received during the ten plagues. All around them they watched, heard, and smelled suffering among the Egyptians. It seemed that they had been inoculated from that reality. But their eyes would still behold the power and destruction that their God was capable of.

The scuffle of their feet created a barrier of smoke and dust as they pulled themselves into freedom. Their steps would quicken as they realized that retribution was only a fear entertained. Until someone heard a noise. The dust settled as their feet stopped walking. Whispers and confusion would ensue as they tried to identify the rhythmic sounds of an encroaching Egyptian army. Pharoah had been shaken to his senses by the tasks that were now laid upon his own people. They would have to do their own labor. They would have to own up to the tasks once belonging to the Israelites. That would not do. The social status gap had already widen and been set in stone. The Egyptians would not be doing the work of an Israelite.

The Israelites turned their heads from the sounds of oncoming horses and chariots to look straight ahead at a horizon of water.  Trapped in by an enemy of  humanity and nature. Their death would be by sword or drowning. Two fates and no faith. Exodus 14:12 “Is this not what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”  Despite being rescued 10 times over in Egypt, their present reality pushed them so far into fear that their salvation seemed like a dream. Fuzzy and distant, they ached to remember the salvation of the Lord.  It seemed a luxury to sit in the comfort of the Lord. Urgency would now force them to rely on their present circumstances.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Junior High Nightmare of Senior High Proportions

I have realized for awhile now that I have shied (Is that how you spell shy-ed? That looks like the Hebrew word for cabbage.) away from Biblical reflections. Some of it is because my husband is doing a PhD and when that happens, you feel like any contributions you make to the discussion are like Pez candy. People tolerate the candy because it's in a cute little container. The candy really isn't that good. I'm just not in the business of being patronized. Not by my husband, but my those lovely little voices in my head.

So, I've felt like my thoughts seem a tad trivial and immature. But I also love reading a Bible story and scuffling through the dirt with the characters. Finding rocks in my shoes and manna in my shirt pocket because I've spent time in these stories.

The other totally self-absorbed part of it is that there is not really much to comment on when you do these types of posts. Unless you are calling people to buy fair trade or give up rock music, comments are fairly silent. That makes me feel like I'm at a junior high dance and my skirt is tucked in my underwear. And then Raw Bass comes on I'm all in that dance circle giving it the varsity try while everyone else is watching my skirt tucked in my underwear. Everyone snickers and nobody tells me until the song is over. You just don't know if the people reading are actually reading or just metaphorically patting you on the head.


That's how it feels when I do these types of posts. So, there it is all of its dysfunctional glory. Over the next two days I'm going to throw some of my reflections out there about the Israelites. This was going to go in a chapter in my next book, but I will tell you that I'm not sure I have the energy nor enough Sara Groves music to get me through another book just yet.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The day I turned 36.

I turned 36 last week. That's a precarious number when rounded up. There are a few things I've realized about being 36.

(I have also come to realize that I could have baby sat Justin Beiber and maybe even given birth to him. 1994...let that sink in.)

1. I've skated past wearing the shorts stage. It's all capris from here on.  And bathing suits with skirts. And probably insoles.

2. I can no longer flip off diving boards or even turn my head too fast. I experience instant vertigo and it leaves me feeling like I'm at a Pink Floyd concert.

3. I have to do things like put on face cream, get moles removed, and pluck hairs not just on my eyebrows.

4. When I tell a story about college and start by saying, "ten years ago..." I actually mean almost 20 years ago but my brain refuses to think in decades.

5. I find myself put out when this younger generation doesn't know things like, "We didn't start the fire," OJ Simpson, or how to taper roll their jeans.

6. I feel like I should be wearing tucked in floral print blouses.  And maybe even iron them.

7. I'm oh so grateful that the Lord didn't listen to my ridiculous "husband list" that went something like this:

My future husband would wear mid-calf length socks. Never a color, always white. He would be witty, smart, and able to grill. He wouldn't be too needy nor would he know how to sew. He would play guitar, soccer, and board games with orphans. 

8. Playing badminton is now considered vigorous exercise that will result in a sore right arm in the morning. Sometimes it will also result in tennis elbow and a pulled hamstring.

9. In my mind you can still do cartwheels, the hammer, and wear jelly bracelets.

10. I gravitate towards documentaries, wordless music, and audio books read by Morgan Freedman.

People have asked if I feel old and I have to say that it hasn't been that traumatic for me this year. I'm probably in denial. But when I look at the fact that I have 5 children, 36 just feels right.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Kesed is 5! Look out world

This little dude turned 5 last week. I already blogged about the parenting fail all stemming from a round cake. That's right...a round cake. Three cheers for strong-willed children. The great thing about strong-willed children, is that if the Lord gets a hold of their hearts, they turn into strong-willed followers of Christ. They maintain conviction and live with passion. Lord, please capture his heart. Like as in...tomorrow. 

He chose to have quiche for his birthday. This dude loves a good quiche. He and every church-going woman over 60. We went around and shared some of the things we loved about him. 

Loves to make people laugh
Enjoys learning
Compassionate and caring brother
Strong sense of justice
Strong leader
He only wants to marry someone of Asian decent. 

Kesed brings us an immense amount of joy and laughter. He is focused and determined in all things. He does life like it's the fourth quarter and he's down by one. Full throttle.

 I love his zeal and passion and yet he comes to wipe his sisters' eyes when they are crying. Happy Birthday to our little monkey. We love you!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Adoption links and picking a winner

First of all, I want to invite you over to Carrie Anne Hudson to jump into a grab bag of adoption/fostering resources. 

If you have a book, website, blog, sermon, etc that you would like to share, please link it over there. 

If you are curious about adoption, read it over there.

 If you want to subtly show your parents that you haven't gone completely made by considering adoption, send them a text that will lead them there. 

For those of us who have walked through adoption, I encourage you to put resources there. When I have people email me with, "So, I've been researching online about adoption..." my lungs cease to continue working. There is so much junk online about adoption. Let's lead them to God-centered, grace-filled, I-can't-do-this-apart-from-Jesus'-help type of resources. Ok, go!

Now to the giveaway from last week. 
Let's pretend that lovely photo booth doesn't flip the photos and the winner is #12.

I need to apologize for the fact that my son is never wearing clothes. I'm hoping that changes by the time he hits Junior High. 


She said that, "When I was small, I wanted to be an astronaut!"

Robin, if you could send me a comment to this post with your mailing address, I won't publish it. Congrats! 

Check out Noonday's other products here. Thanks Jamie for letting us team up and spread the word about this fabulous company. 

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