Friday, February 22, 2013

Looking for a Rock .... or a Beach .... or Flowers?

"Too bad flowers don't like motorcycles."  I reached a new low when I texted those words.  I've never asked my husband for flowers before.  To do so robs much of the romanticism from the act.  But the thought crossed my mind that him walking in with something colorful and cheery was what I needed, and since 14 years of marriage have taught me that trying to send him mental messages doesn't work and hoping he will read my mind doesn't either, maybe I'd just ask until .... oh yeah .... flowers don't look quite the same after they ride home on the back of a bike.  Sigh.  Maybe I'll hint anyway.

Yesterday I heard the still, small voice whispering, calling me to come spend some time at His feet.  Reminding me that I hadn't really slipped away with Him for a while, hadn't soaked in His Word near enough.  I heard the urging all day.  And I assured myself that I would ... as soon as this sink of dishes was clean and after that part of dinner was prepped.  And then a doctor appointment and trip to the pharmacy plopped themselves into my morning and kids needed to be fed and dog hair needed to be vacuumed and somehow today arrived and that little communion never took place.

And now another kid is in bed crying in feverish sleep and I've lost count of what week in a row this is that someone has been sick and I'm looking for a rock to crawl under or a beach to escape to.  Surely someone else can be me for a while and I can run away.  Surely?  No?  Then maybe I can settle for flowers?  At this point I'd even take motorcycle-wind-blown ones.

And then it occurs to me.  The irony removes the lump in my throat and I shake my head and smirk.  How like God.  That He would invite me to dwell on His Rock yesterday knowing what today would hold.  That had I obeyed, I wouldn't be looking for a rock to crawl under because I would already be anchored in the Rock.

The still small voice whispers again.  The invitation is still open, the Host still waiting, offering something better than flowers.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Changing the life of a child


For years, I would look at the abundance in my home and the ingratitude that seemed to accompany it and wonder how to infuse an attitude of appreciation into my children, how to demonstrate just how blessed we are.  Their young ages prevented taking them on a mission trip to a less fortunate part of the world, and mom harping with comments like "starving children in Africa would be happy to have that broccoli" accomplished nothing.  

Last summer, my husband and I agreed to sponsor a child through Compassion International and the impact on our family has been exciting.  Having a name and a face for our kids to pray for, write to, and associate with someone less fortunate has helped expand their world just a little.  On their own, they started a jar for spare change to save for Christmas and birthday gifts for their "African sister" Nashaki.  When her letters arrive, they can't wait to hear how she's doing.

The little girl with deep chocolate skin has expanded my vision as well as my kids'.  It  reminds me that while serious troubles may come my way, there are little ones out there in much more dire straits.  It reminds me to be open to opportunities where God may call me to reach beyond my borders to touch lives of His precious ones.   

It has struck me just how little it takes to change someone's life.  It is so easy, in our affluent North American culture, to spend the cost of sponsorship, $38, without batting an eye.  It's probably a fair guess that most people's monthly latte fund is more than that.  God clearly commands us to look out for the widow and orphan, for those less fortunate.  Most are familiar with the verses (see James 1:27, Matt 25:31-46) and would agree, but life creeps in, schedules fill, another week passes and we have done little to impact anyone outside our circles, let alone put food in the mouth of someone who is hungry.  April 21 is Compassion Sunday.  I know that God hasn't called everyone to reach out through child sponsorship.  But, I would encourage all to at least ask Him if sponsoring a child is something He would have you do. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Masterpiece, part 2

God uses the foolish things to confound the wise (1 Cor 1:27) ... and perhaps the simple things to relay the profound.  Such was the case this morning as I again reflected on Ephesians 1 and 2 and the fact that I am God's masterpiece.  Ephesians 2:8-10 says, "God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can't take credit for this it is a gift of God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (NLT).  So that list of things that makes me feel like a masterpiece?  Rubbish.  God's fingerprints on me have nothing to do with the sparkliness of my bathrooms or the obedience of my children.  I can take no credit.

I have these little clay ornaments. *  I've spent hours mixing clay colors to find just the right hue, pressing and squeezing and shaping, pricking and cutting, all the while praying that God will use them for His purposes. When they are ready for the oven, they appear nothing like the original lump of clay. I considered my little masterpieces this morning and it struck me:  my little ornaments did nothing to become what they are.  It was by my hands (and God's equipping because I am not an artist by any means) that they have taken their shape.  And I love them because they are mine; I thought of them, and planned them, and finally I created them.

Perhaps the one disadvantage to being raised in a Bible-teaching home is that the amazing truths of God  can become commonplace.  That you've heard it so many times, it's easy for the living words to become as rote as knowing your own phone number.  And when it does, God ever so gently takes something simple, tangible to breathe new life into the unhearing ears, awakening the dulled senses to the humbling truth that He adores His masterpiece.

* for more information about these ornaments, please contact me though the link in my profile. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

You are a Masterpiece

Do you feel like one?  I don't know about you, but some days I feel much more masterpiece-ish than others.  Usually it's a good hair day, I'm feeling patient, the house is clean, the kids are diligent and cooperative, dinner is ready on time, and everyone sleeps soundly all night.  I give myself a little mental pat on the back and congratulate myself for a job well-done.  Looking at that list of requirements, however, it shouldn't surprise me when a not so masterpiece-ish day crashes in on me a few days later.

For several months, I've been pondering the idea of what God thinks of me.   I'm discovering my perspective is a little skewed.  In some odd way, I think I require more of myself (which is pride) than God does, in that He doesn't beat me up when I fail.  He knows it will happen, offers forgiveness and a fresh start, and moves on.  Meanwhile, I'm still wallowing in frustration and self-loathing, annoyed that I made the same mistake again.  Somehow I transfer that disgust to God.  If I feel impatient with myself, He must even more so.  Either I overlook the grace He is freely offering because I am busy condemning myself, or I accept the grace feeling so guilty that I miss the joy that should accompany the grace-gift.

In the first two chapters of Ephesians, Paul points out just how twisted my thinking is.  Look at how God really feels about us:

We are:
  • blessed with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly realms (1:3 NLT)
  • loved before the creation of the world (1:4)
  • chosen (in Christ) to be holy (1:4)
  • adopted into His family.  (1:5).  He enacted a plan, Jesus Christ, to be able to do this, and even more it gave him GREAT PLEASURE to do so.  Paul says that "great pleasure".  How cool is that!
  • purchased by the blood of His dearly loved Son (1:7)
  • forgiven (1:7)
  • showered with His kindness, wisdom, and understanding (1:8)
  • heirs to an inheritance (1:11)
  • given a purpose (to praise Him) (1:12)
  • saved (1:13)
  • identified as His own (1:13)
  • recipients of His great mercy and life through Christ (2:4)
  • loved so very much (2:4)
  • recipients of His special favor (2:5)
  • raised from the dead with Christ (2:6)
  • seated with Him in the heavenly realm (2:6)
  • one with Christ Jesus (2:6)
  • examples of His favor and kindness (2:7)

a Masterpiece