Saturday, January 30, 2010

Being content

It's snowing here. That's big news in the rural south. I was enjoying watching the snow gently fall this morning as various song birds visited the feeder on our deck. I couldn't help but think of the many times I have sat at my kitchen table staring out the french doors at the beautiful birds who visit our home. I love watching the birds. It brings me such joy. In that moment I thought I never want to leave this home. I love my home. My home brings me joy. I must confess I am not always so content. On more than one occasion I have looked longingly at someone's yard or play room or office or gourmet kitchen or large laundry room or bonus room or.... you get the picture. I have looked at what others have and wished I had that too. I have compared and envied and wished for more or different or change. Often I justify the longing with "We need" or "If only" as in "We really need an office space" or "If only we had a laundry room instead of a laundry closet".

What I realized this morning was that I have so much to be grateful for. What if I looked at my spouse the way I do other things in my life. What if I was constantly comparing him to other people's spouses and wishing he cooked more or made more money or was more laid back or had blue eyes? That seems ludicrous but the reality is that if I coveted other people's spouses I probably would never find true happiness with my own. I could spend countless hours thinking about what I don't have rather than focus on all the wonderful things I do possess. In our Western culture it is so easy to want what we do not need, to compare unjustly, and to always be discontented. Our consumerist mindset teaches us to always be looking for the next great thing. I want to be like Paul who was content in all things. I have so much to be truly grateful for. So today I give thanks for the joy in my life and say thank you for all my blessings.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From the mouths of babes...

My sister has come to my aide this semester and picks up my kids from school two days a week. Yesterday, while talking my son (who is very much like his Aunt in temperament) and my sister said the exact same thing at the exact same time.

To this my sister quipped, "You know what they say 'Great minds think alike'."

To which my brilliant son replied, "No, great minds think like no one else!"


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Psalm 119
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.

13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.

So after seeing Julie and Julia I have been inspired. No, not to cook my way through 2010 , but rather to live my way through the Word this year. Throughout the end of last year I could not help but consider how much of the Bible just seems ignored or non applicable to Western culture. From my perspective it seems that my Christian experience is a far cry from Biblical mandate. For years I chalked it up to the great cultural divide - you know, believing things don't apply to us because we live in a different time and space. While I do believe that the Bible holds great symbolism and everything shouldn't be taken literally, I also believe we conveniently opt out of a lifestyle that would be less than comfortable for us as Westerners.

I'm not sure what this will end up looking like - I never claimed to be a Bible scholar. I don't plan on growing my hair out to my waist and I cannot fathom going without makeup but I don't think that is the point. Take for example the ten commandments. Most Bible Belt Southerners would concur that the ten commandments are a good thing and that they should be followed. However, what is the Sabbath and how many of us keep it holy? I was struck today when I was reading through them to discover the clear instructions

"No working on the Sabbath; keep it holy just as GOD, your God, commanded you. Work six days, doing everything you have to do, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, a Rest Day - no work: not you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, your ox, your donkey (or any of your animals), and not even the foreigner visiting your town. That way your servants and maids will get the same rest as you." Deuteronomy 5:12-14.

I have not had to work on a Sunday in many years. However, what about giving the others a chance to rest as well? If my family and I insist on going out to eat, getting groceries or gas, or going to the movies aren't we insisting others work on a day intended for rest. I'm not trying to convince others I'm right. What day the Sabbath is on is up for debate. I'm certainly not trying to make others feel bad if they disagree or make other choices. I am trying to make one small calculated effort each day to live by a biblical mandate. I am hoping many small steps will find me in the way of David in Psalm 119

33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees;
then I will keep them to the end.

34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.

35 Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.

36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.

37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word. b]">[b]

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared.

39 Take away the disgrace I dread,
for your laws are good.

40 How I long for your precepts!
Preserve my life in your righteousness.

Here is to a year of walking in the Truth. Precept by precept.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year - Same Old Moi

People tend to always want to reinvent themselves around the first of the year. Isn't that what resolutions are really all about? Casting a wish for betterment out into the Cosmos and hoping somehow that will bring about the change we so desperately desire? Don't get me wrong. There is plenty about me that I want and need my Creator to daily transform. But lately I have just not been myself at all. Do you know that feeling? Feeling like you are walking around in a bad dream as someone else? Well that is how I have felt anyway.

School per usual took over my life last semester. What I am slowly realizing is that it is not all "schools" fault. I am a perfectionist and also tend to focus on one thing at a time. So whatever is taking up the major chunk of time in my life tends to be where my focus lands. Sounds appropriate unless you realize that I have two kids who are rapidly morphing into people all together different than the ones I brought into this world. And a very patient husband... and a ninety-four year old Grandmother who was like another mother to me. Sigh, do you see my dilemma?

To say it rather rudely, I just suck at balance. When I used to homeschool my kids and bake bread from scratch and make every meal from fresh organic ingredients (I only know this because I recently found my entire life in pics from 2007 in a random place on my computer), I felt rather smug, as if I had it all together. It seemed good and right because I spent 100% of my energy on my kids/family. What I know now looking back is that my friendship with my husband was sorely neglected and I had no time whatsoever for myself. Balance - why must you allude me so?

I am of the belief that part of this is strictly nature - genetic inborn temperament, while still other is nurture. My Dad is exactly this way. Well actually, my Dad and my Mom. My Dad in a more helpless way like myself. He simply can't juggle. Plod away at one thing well and let all the other balls land where they may. I swear we don't even notice the cacophony of balls ricocheting around us in deadly fashion. We are just that focused on the one ball we have in motion. Proud of it really. My Mom, well she can certainly hold more than one thing in her mind at a time (and does). She juggles. She just tends to put the lion's share of energy into the task she deems most valuable or necessary at that juncture. Makes sense I guess - unless you are one of the other smaller less important balls.

But I digress, this is not a session with Freud nor are these challenges I face my parent's fault (sheesh now I know where my son gets this from). I just need to allow Creator to realign my thinking and make some changes. He's done it before - I know He's the man for the job:) All this silly rambling really leads me to my point that I am celebrating feeling like myself once more. Not some solely obsessed she-devil - but M.E. I never knew how fond of M.E. I had grown;) I am so grateful this new year for the holiday's that afforded me time to slow things down significantly. I am so grateful for the Arctic blast of air that has turned my rural town into an ice rink for the past week - and afforded me time to snuggle up with the ones I love most in this life. I am thankful for a Creator who gave me a husband with the patience of Job - at least as far as I'm concerned. I am thankful for a niece who prays mighty prayers, a brother-in-law who doesn't view church as a one man show, and the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit. I am full of gratitude to feel spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically more myself than I have in over a decade.
So this - I welcome change that is eternal - not temporal. I thank Father that the wilderness did not kill me and that in fact it allowed me to see the miraculous lengths to which God will go in order to preserve His children. I am grateful for fourteen years of marriage - seven years running away, seven years working in sobriety. I realized the other day it has been like Leah and Rachel. We want the Rachel but we need the Leah. Gratitude for the Leah years - and so excited to see the many "children" that will be birthed over the next fourteen years. God is good - all the time.