Thursday, March 31, 2011

Singing

Being a regular church attender for most of my life, singing should be something I am comfortable with.  This is not the case.  I don't mind singing when the music is going and the choir is singing and no one can really hear me. I'm good with that.  It may seem odd for me to say that because I have been a part of a praise team once.  I sang in front of the church week after week.  Of course, I wasn't the strong singer.  I was just there to add sound.

Before I was a mother, I NEVER sang without music for any reason ever.  I didn't hum while I was working.  Nothing.  I had music in elementary school, but I'm not sure that counts.  I do remember my 2nd grade music teacher scared the crap out of me one day.  I was playing with the belt on my shirt because it was unraveling.  So she decided to point out that I wasn't paying attention.  I was pretty mortified.  She was kinda scary without her calling me out in class.  Then there was that, oooh, bad memories.  So maybe it was her and maybe it was just not thinking I could, but I never took another music class.  I don't know anything about music, melody, harmony, pitch, tone, etc.  I don't think I can clap on beat with music.

Since becoming a mother I have started to sing to Ben on various occasions and I have found that I am not too bad.  I couple years ago I stopped trying to clap on beat and kinda make my own.  It seems to go along with the drum beat in the song.  Once again, I have found that I am not too bad.  And I like that feeling of being not too bad.  I like the feeling of being comfortable enough to sing a little around the house.

It really is a shame that singing is one of those things that is reserved for only the 'talented' and those who have been trained.  Art (Drawing, painting, etc.) seems to fall into that category too.  It is quite possible that these are only thoughts I have and no one else sees it this way.  In case you do see it like I do, I'm going to continue.  So tonight when I sang a little bit to Ben while I was putting him to sleep, I was happy.  He just looked and looked at me.  It seemed to calm him down and focus him in.  I sang whatever I could think of and even made up a couple things.  I think I'm going to try to sing a little more often.  I'm going to work on not caring how I sound.  I want to sing a little tune just be singing a little tune.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll sing a special music in church one day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Luke 18: 1 - 8: Sam I am

So what do Dr. Seuss and a widow from a parable have in common? Quite a lot I think. Of course reading the same book 3 times in a row might make you think a lot of things. Green Eggs and Ham is one of Ben's new favorite books. He reads quite a bit. Well by reading I mean, looks through a lot of books. He has his tub of books that he looks through every so often. He'll discover a new one and it will go into the nightly reading rotation. Green Eggs and Ham has just recently attained this status.

After reading it a couple nights, I noticed something. Sam I Am does not give up. He asks over and over again for the narrator to try this food. The narrator repeatedly refuses and then continues to refuse every previous situation as well. Of course we know that by the end of the book he tries it and he likes it. He then says he would eat this food in every one of the previously mentioned situations. In the end Sam I Am shows the narrator that these things are special foods and the narrator is happy about it. He has been ranting and raving throughout the whole book about his dislike for them. Now he loves them.

This widow wanted something different from Sam I Am, but her method was the same, never give up. And it worked for her too. She got justice.

So what about us? We need to persist like the widow and Sam I am. Persist in what? Like verse 1 says, in prayer. That's not it though. Sometimes we need to persist after people like Sam I Am. We need to find new and different ways to invite someone to Jesus. Sometimes we need to invite the same person 20 before they accept, but this is our job as Christians. Let me clarify that a little, we are not to go beating someone over the head with Christ. However, when God puts someone in our path we need to persist in praying for them as well as inviting them to Christ. They may deny us several times. They may remind us why they don't need what we are offering. They might say unpleasant things. But through all of this we need to keep praying and keep finding ways to witness to them. In the book, Sam I Am doesn't use the same tactic over and over and over. He asks once and move on to the next question. He finds ways to relate green eggs and ham to ordinary objects around him. Can't we relate God to what is going on around us?

Sometimes we need to persist in prayer because some hard stuff is going on and we don't get why. Maybe some people seem to be getting all the good stuff and you're left out in the cold. When things like this happen, keep praying. Keep talking to God and listen to him. If you are in contact with him, he will help you see the situation and response. He is also out there fighting for you. The widow got justice from an unjust judge through her persistence. You will get exactly what God has planned for you and you will like it IF you keep in contact with him.

Persistence pays off. It will get you closer to God. It can get you justice. And maybe most importantly it can get other people into heaven.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When you don't need it

Before I even start let me say that I intended to start this an hour ago or more, but I got caught up in checking out new blogs.  I added about 5 to my Google Reader.  My number of subscriptions is now up to 34.  Not that they are all updated daily, but still I'm thinking this might become a problem.  Now that it is nearing midnight, this post may not be as well thought out as I hoped.  Here it goes anyway:

For the last couple weeks our pastor has been talking about Achan.  There is a whole lot we have been learning from this story.  However, my immediate thought Sunday while reading through this passage was, "If you have to bury it, you didn't need it in the first place."  My next thought was, "That is a really sad thought."  Followed by, "Is it true?"  And I think it is, with a little wording change.  If you have to bury it, you don't need it.  Here's why.

What are some thing we might want to bury?

1. A secret thought that we don't want to face we really thought.  If we can't face we thought it, we probably shouldn't have thought it.  So we don't need it.  For instance, when you think someone is mean because they didn't speak to you.  (That's the nicer version of something I thought earlier today.  It was definitely something I didn't need to think.)

2.  A secret item we are not supposed to have, including those jeans that are now several sizes too small and we are hoping we will someday fit into them again.  We bury those jeans or that magazine or that robe,silver, and gold in our closets, under our beds, or under our tents.  If we can't pull them out and use them regularly we probably don't need them around.

3.  News stories or other true stories that we don't want to face, stories like Aaron's sons, Uzzah, or Ananais and Saphira.  Or stories about Japan or some scientific discovery that you perceive as a challenge to your world view.  We want to bury those stories like they don't exist.  I am NOT suggesting that we then do not need them.  I do think that if you want to bury those stories, then your faith is in need of a challenge and growing.  However, that story at that time may not be the best way to do it.  So you don't need it for now.  Go away, pray about it, and then come back to it with an open mind and a focus on God.

4.  A friend or a family member who has passed on.  This is the one that originally got me and made me think of the sadness of the statement.  But I got to thinking about it and it isn't so sad after all.  My life would have worked out a little differently or a lot differently if people had not left when they did.  I was not ready for it at the time that it happened, but it was what needed to happen.  Not just for me, but also for that person.  It was their time to go and in the process of burying them I found my release.  A healthy balance of holding on to their memory, but not holding on to them.  We have all heard stories and maybe lived stories of holding on to that person.  It is not a healthy way to live.  In order for my life to be healthy and live it to the fullest, I had to let go and move forward.  I had to accept it was their time to go and God had a bigger plan for me.  I can't say that I have always done that easily or gracefully, but I have done it.

So yes, I still think so.  If you have to bury it, you don't need it.  It is still a thought that saddens me a little, but I genuinely do feel it is true.  What about you?  Do you think so or am I totally off my rocker?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Psalm 37:4 : Houses

"Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

My experiences with this verse seem to be very dependent on the first part. When I am where I am supposed to be with God and doing what he wants me to do, then he unexpectedly gives me something I didn't really know I was wishing for. The first time it was a husband and that has worked out pretty good. :)

The second time is the house we are getting ready to move into. Six weeks ago or so, Drew and I started talking about looking for a house to buy. The one we are in just doesn't fit for us, so we made a list. Then we decided to wait until summer to pay off some bills and get first time buyer status again. Hours after we decided this, we saw this house for sale. We looked it up on the internet. It was lower than we expected and from our list of 15 things, it had 14. Only a garbage disposal is missing. We looked at it, but we weren't sure about making a bid. I decided to pray about it on my way to work one day, about a 15 minute drive. Only a few minutes into the drive, God quite clearly told me, "Why not? You deserve a nice place to live." Drew got a similar message, so we made a bid on it. As a part of our bid we put in closing costs and a home warranty. The sellers agreed to both and raised the bid a little. We took it.

Of course in this process we were looking for a loan. Our agent suggested a loan officer and this woman was wonderful! I would totally recommend her if you are around here and looking. She called me from her house on her personal time more than once to get or verify information. Amazing! And the loan we got was wonderful as well. God just kept looking out for us. The paperwork we needed was easily found. We got our taxes done earlier than we ever have before which made the loan process go smoother. Our real estate agent was always available to talk to us and to talk for us. While we were looking at the home both times, the owners were there. It was odd, but our agent really spoke up for us and asked the questions we had. What amazed me was the way she asked them. It wasn't like a "they want to know so I'm asking". It sounded like a question of professional concern.

As the process moved forward, we realized more and more how perfect this house is and how much better God knows us than we do. Here is a list of a few things I am looking forward to:

we get private space
I can eat breakfast in the morning
We get to pick colors for shutters, doors, and walls
I get shelving and closets galore
I get bookcase for dining room
we get a great neighborhood
the neighbors excited to have us
There are only minor problems to fix
I get a screened in porch
I get SOOO much cabinet space
Drew and I get a master bathroom

I could go on, but I won't. At closing a few amazing things happened. We got money back at closing. The lawyer said it's a good deal and was great to work with. He had a sense of humor and his hometown was very near Drew's. And our real estate agent even said it was smooth.

It has not been an easy road to get here. As we put aside our plans and picked up God's plans, we enjoyed the trip more and we got the desires of our heart even when we didn't feel like we deserved them. I am so excited to see what God has in store for us in this new place.

Are you delighting in the Lord? If not, lay aside yourself and start picking up the Lord's plans and desires. You will not regret it. He promises!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Oh what a night...or week

Some weeks are harder than others and this was a hard week.  Last week we took Ben to the doctor and he had a bacterial infection, so we had antibiotics.  We gave him those over the weekend and he didn't get better.  Monday we were back at the doctors.  He gave us stronger antibiotics and said Ben had an asthmatic reaction to the infection.  So we got a nebulizer as well.  We had to get chest Xrays and then wait forever on the medicine.  Monday was one of the hardest days we have had in a while.  I did not teach at CVCC this week, so I could be home to help with the treatments.  Day 1 of treatments wasn't too great.  Daddy spilled most of the medicine on the first one.  The second one he wiggled and screamed and cried.  So on Tuesday after a hard Monday, I was tired and really starting to wonder about how to make it through the week.  We had 2 more days of treatments, another appointment on Friday, and then a house closing to do.  Sometime we would need to pack and actually move to said house.  How are we going to fit that in if Ben is still sick and needing treatments, and what if the treatments don't get better, and so on and so forth.

So with all of this going through my head, I stopped (or probably God told me to) and started to look at the little things.  So here are the 10 good things that happened Tuesday night in no particular order:
1. Ben picked up Daddy's headphones and tried to put them in his ears.
2. He was playing lightly with one of his drumsticks on the TV.  I told him no.  He kept doing it.  I walked over to him.  He turned around and handed it to me with a big smile.  I worked really hard on not smiling back.
3.  He loves climbing in and out of the bathtub while he holds my hand, which is cute.  And when I washed his hair I got to give him a little do.


4. He helped me clean the kitchen.  He 'mopped' it.

5. I love watching him sit in his little rocking chair and rock.  For some reason he insists on sitting in the kitchen and rocking.
6. He laid down beside Abbey on her bed.  I'm not sure she was too excited, but it was cute to see.
7. His 3rd treatment went really well.  Drew and I got to sit down together and sing songs and talk to him while it was going on.  A little family bonding time is always a good thing.
8. His dinner consisted of chicken (I picked) and Marshmallow Mateys (he picked).  Later when Drew and I ate, he wanted applesauce and cheese.
(No, he didn't eat all that food.  The dog had a real good dinner too.)  

9. He said 'hi' and 'funny'.  I don't have voice files for it, but trust me.  It is really cute.
10. When we said our prayers, he repeated Katie(our missionary friend) and Bonnie (one of my pregnant friends.)  I love knowing he is listening while we are praying before bed.  Incidentally, Katie is a new favorite word.

The week didn't necessarily get better because he slept really poorly and we all were SUPER exhausted, but my attitude was better.  Now it is Friday and we have survived.  We are home owners and he got a clean bill of health from the doctor.  Give thanks to the Lord.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Isaiah 55:8 The Ceramic Horse




I had 75% of this post done last night while I was waiting for Ben to cry himself to sleep. He got really upset so I went to check on him. He found a little ceramic rocking horse Christmas ornament. This ornament had a hole that the bottom, like some ornaments do. He was convinced it was broken and should be fixed. I could not convince him otherwise, so eventually I just hid the ceramic horse in my pocket. He was more upset and so we looked at his stuffed animals, talked to them, and then settled into bed. Read through my thoughts from last night and see how this story is connected.


"I need to be more like God and not try to make God more like me." I heard this idea 3 times today from 3 different sources. I'm not sure exactly what I should be learning from this, but since I heard it 3 times, I thought it important enough to blog about.

I 'heard' this first this morning when I was going through my Bible Study homework. In Me, Myself, and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild, she mentions Isaiah 55:9. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." From my notes this morning, "You don't have to and can't live up to God! He accepts your broken parts!" There is no way for me to live up to God. He is higher than me. I can't change that and I don't have to be ashamed by that.

The second time was in Stuff Christians Like this morning. He actually quoted the same verse. He spoke about wanting God to do things like he would. Wishing God would give him choices he is comfortable with and has gotten used to using. (BTW, I am doing a really bad job of summarizing this. Go read it for yourself, so what I'm saying makes sense.) Once again, I 'hear' God isn't like me. Don't try to make him like me. Let him do his job. You just sit back and let him.

The third time I heard it was at church tonight. Drew said it in his lesson about renewing your mind, Romans 12:2. Renewing your mind isn't something that is only for the recent converts. It is for all of us to continually renew our minds and be less like this world. We should not make God more like us, but make us more like God.

So back to the ceramic horse, how often are we like Ben convinced that we know the way something is supposed to look, the way it is supposed to work, etc? We know best and why isn't everyone listening to us!! Don't we sound like a two year old demanding our way. We yell at God and huff at the world because it isn't working like we 'know' it should. God tries to reason with us and maybe sometimes it works. We realize that we need to let him do his job because he is higher and we shouldn't make Him more like us.

What if we don't? Will God take that thing away from us because it is causing us too much strife? Will he get our mind off of it with something else, so we can settle down and rest? I'm not sure what the answers are, but I think the answer could be yes. Are you holding on to a ceramic horse? What might God be able to do if you let it go?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sweet Tea

 In my efforts to be healthier, I try to only drink sweet tea when we go out to eat.  (I believe in teeny tiny baby steps!)  Since I only drink this when we go out, I have tasted sweet tea from many different places.  Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised.  Mostly I am not.  There are many times I think, "Ugh, this isn't sweet tea."  I even said to Drew this weekend, "We are in the South.  Don't try to fool us."  In my experience, Bojangles and McDonalds get it right.  There are some others who aren't bad and another tier of those who are just shouldn't try.

An aside here for those who may not be aware of Southern sweet tea.  It is not like Midwestern sweet tea.  Midwestern sweet tea isn't really sweet.  It's just barely unsweet.  Southern sweet tea has more sweet than tea.  So when a business is in the South and says they offer sweet tea, they better know what they are talking about.

After some more thinking about this sweet tea dilemma and it occurred to me that some places out there fake their Southern style sweet tea.  They may call it that, but it isn't really that.  Church on Sunday brought this idea back to me in a different way.  There was an amazing sermon calling us to search ourselves, find our sin, and repent.  For me, it didn't take much searching.  There are times I fake it because I haven't been reading my Bible and praying like I should.  You're thinking none of us do that like we should.  Well, God has been telling me quite a lot about my inconsistencies.  The prayer and Bible reading are our ways to develop our relationship with God.  I haven't been doing that, so when I am called upon to pass along something, (a word of encouragement, a bit of wisdom, to 'lend' someone my faith, etc.) I can't do that.  I have to fake it because I haven't been prepared.  So I need to prepare myself better.

Sunday night didn't go so well, which would seem to indicate that Monday morning might not work so well.  However, God helped me up out of bed and we did it.  This morning, I was late to work because I slept in.  So I didn't get that morning quiet time.  That bothered me all day long.  I have taken a little bit of time tonight and I'm going to try to take some more when Ben goes to sleep.  Hopefully, tomorrow morning I can get back to my morning quiet time.  No more faking it.  No more fake sweet tea.  Just the real stuff for my tea and for my Lord.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Psalms 107:8-9 Caterpillar

While reading books to Ben, one of them has struck me as a really good metaphor for our lives with God. The Very Hungry Caterpillar starts off with the caterpillar being born on a Sunday. He's hungry and Monday eats 1 apple, Tuesday 2 pears, and so on until Saturday when he eats 1 of everything in sight. He ends up with a tummy ache. Sunday he eats one leaf and feels better. He gets into his cocoon and ends up a beautiful butterfly. What does this have to do with God? Everything I think. We are so much like that caterpillar. We are born and are hungry for something. We try a little of this and then a little more of that until we have 'eaten' everything in sight. We end up hurting and then we finally turn to the simple 'leaf' we have been missing all along. We turn to God and then we are satisfied. We get into our cocoon of faith, after some struggle, we come out as beautiful butterflies.

I could go on and on about how we are like the caterpillar in the cocoon, etc., etc. I won't because that isn't what drew my attention. I got to thinking about how the caterpillar behaved leading up to the cocoon. He was eating and eating and nothing satisfied him. He even went so far as to eat cake, pie, cheese, ice cream, and a few more things. Basically he tried some of everything. When he went overboard, he got a stomach ache. He ended up hurting because he tried to satisfy himself. When he ate just a simple leaf, that is natural for a caterpillar to eat, he was satisfied. We as humans try other things, sex, drugs, alcohol, gossip, material possessions,etc. None of those things satisfy us. When we go back to what is natural for us, a relationship with our Creator and Father, then we are satisfied and end up as butterflies.

This passage in Psalms sums it up pretty well I think.

Psalms 107: 8-9
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things

'Parent' Moment

I had a 'parent' moment today.  One of those times you stop and go, "WOW, I really just did that!  This kid is getting to me!"  To set the scene before I divulge the moment, I was furiously grading papers from my college class, so I could return those tonight.  I had to be gone by no later than 4:40 and it was quickly approaching that time.  I saw the end in sight.  Two notebooks left!  I can do this!  I flew through them in record time, signed out, gathered my stuff to leave, and then it happened.  I started singing, "Knock, Knock Joke of the Day," as if it were a popular song that would run through someone's head.  I stopped and then thought, "Oh My Gosh, I just sang a Yo Gabba Gabba song.

I had a similar one yesterday.  A student said, "I like to dance."  We are working on sentences that use "I like, he likes, etc."  When I heard them say that, I literally stopped and looked back at them.  The first thing I thought was, "Why are they quoting Yo Gabba Gabba?"  Then after a few seconds, I realized they were talking about a sentence they were putting on their project.

So this morning and I am wondering if you have ever had a 'parent' moment?  Tell me about it because I would really like to know I'm not the only person out there who does this.  :)


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oil: Week 3

A follow up from week 2, Psalms 45:7 and Isaiah 61:3 refer to oil of joy and gladness respectively. A note I read on one of those verses mentioned that it was common to be anointed with oil when something special happened. When you think about it, how often have you been an occasion for a special dinner? Probably not often, so that is a special occasion. Other special/happy occasions warrant this anointing as well. So I guess the bottom line on that is special occasions warrant special treatment.

There is another passage I wanted to talk about when oil is used, Isaiah 1:6. Isaiah refers to oil for healing. The idea of someone using oil to soothe your wounds is encouraging. It shows that someone cares for you enough to be right there with you when you are hurting. Someone is there walking with you to get you through it. I don't know about you, but it brings up warm and fuzzy memories of being nursed through childhood sicknesses.

This specific passage is mentioning the lack of that treatment for Israel and that is important because the very words here are used later in reference to Jesus Isaiah 53:4-5. It puts a whole new spin on the soothing of wounds and brings to mind Luke 7:36-50. And that passage refers back to some of what we looked at last week. Wow! Isn't it amazing how that is all tied together? Those warm and fuzzy memories of childhood are gone. They are replaced by the cold hard reality of what my Savior did for me. There was no one to bandage and soothe those wounds. They were put there by me and they were taken for me. So I guess the blood of Jesus is the ultimate anointing and soothing oil.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blogging

Something else I've been wondering.  Should I be changing this blog?  Is it okay that I'm just writing about random things that cross my mind?  Should it be more focused on my family life or is that a little self centered?  Should it be more about God?  I mean I have another one for Bible Study things and I do mention God when it seems appropriate on this one.  I could talk about Ben counting to 20, with help, or saying "XYZ now I know my ABC's."  (It comes out Now ah nee cee)  I could talk about giving Ben 3 time outs tonight and him protesting over the books I chose to read him.  But is that interesting and meaningful blog reading?

The other blog is a little more time consuming, but I like the challenge of looking up Scripture and interpreting it, making it mean something right here and now.  Sometimes, I am better than others about that, but that is my goal.  Something that will make the reader think and hopefully help them grow in their faith.  But that one isn't really personal.  Is that okay?  Should that one contain more personal anecdotes?  Is it too plain?  Shouldn't blogs be interesting and challenging both?

Basically, am I doing this the right way?