Apr 29, 2008

A Child's Eyes

Crazy day. Today I substituted in a class of 17 first-graders. Now, if any of you know me at all, you know that I am completely built to interact with high schoolers, so to sub 7-year-olds is a stretch in itself. But, try taking said 7-year-olds on a field trip.

With 75 other first-graders.

To a farm filled with about 300 other school children.

Now think back to when you were in school and you had a substitute. Uh-huh. Exactly. I see that smile you're getting on you face as you're remembering that your reaction was something along the lines of, "Yes! A sub! We can do whatever we want!" I can't believe they're already this way in 1st grade, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, after much threatening in the classroom about following classroom rules even though I wasn't their "real" teacher, we all bounded onto the bus. And remarkably, with a few exceptions, I didn't have much problem with them all day. Although, wow, are they loud! As much as my ears were ringing from the shrill shrieking of the girls and boys around me, I forced myself to look at their faces and listen in on their conversations. And what I witnessed not only made me laugh, but also brought me a little joy. As we were passing under an overpass on the way to the farm, the little boy in front of me said in a wondrous tone, "Wow! Look at those birds!" You know what kind of birds they were? Pigeons! Flying rats! But he didn't know that. . .he just saw their tinted feathers and supernatural ability to fly.

Here were a few other cute things I heard throughout the day:

"Look! Look! Look! There's my brother's school!"
"Oooh! Ice cream!"
"That's the biggest horse I've ever seen!" (He was huge!)
And my favorite..."Hey! Cool! A Super Target!"

As I listened to the excitement in their voices and saw the awe in their eyes at the sight of such everyday happenings, I started thinking about myself. Doesn't it always come back to me? I wonder if that's a bad thing. Anyway, I asked myself if what Jesus has done and continues to do in my life elicits from me the same type of responses these children were giving. Am I genuinely awed when God moves in my life? Or have I become so used to Him acting on my behalf that I have become jaded?

Over and over again in Scripture, people who encountered the Lord were shocked and amazed by Him and His doings. When Jesus healed a paralytic, the crowd was "filled with awe; and they praised God" (Matt. 9:8). When He raised a widow's son from the dead they were again filled with awe, resulting in praise (Luke 7:16). And because of this more people came to know Jesus.

Are we awed anymore? Are we praising? Are people wanting to know more about Jesus because of our excitement over Him?

Now, I know that most of us will not dance half-naked in the streets rejoicing in God like David did (2 Samuel 6), but it wouldn't hurt to belt out a couple of his psalms, would it?

Girls, let's ask God to open up our eyes and amaze us again. Are you longing for a little bit more passion and excitement in your life? I know I am. And if my zeal brings others to the foot of Jesus, well, hallelujah!

Father, we confess that as we walk farther down the narrow path with you, we start getting used to your everyday miracles. We now ask that you would renew a right spirit in us. One that sees how awesome you are and yet how tender. Amaze us and help us to respond with songs of joy and thankfulness. We love you, amen.

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Apr 22, 2008

My Plate Overfloweth

Hey, faithful friends. Well, this week I've got a pretty full plate, and as par for me, I'm running behind. So, I will not be posting this week. But if you're in the mood to read some sort of something, check out one of my old posts. If you think about me at all this week, could you throw up a prayer? I've got a couple of deadlines to meet and I'm feelin' the pressure! Thanks, gals. Talk to you next week! I love you tons.

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Apr 15, 2008

Eat Your Veggies!

My son almost threw up in his plate tonight. Let me tell you, it does wonders for a novice cook's self-esteem. I think we can all admit in this family that cooking is not my strong suit; in fact, I don't even think I own this suit. What I own is a cheap knockoff you may find on Harwin in Houston. Anyway, I'm on a new kick lately. I've decided (notice it's "I" and not "we") that we need to be living a healthier lifestyle as a family. I'm trying to teach Cooper habits that are "good for our bodies". So far, we've only addressed our food and media consumption; we'll get to the exercise later. Why exercise now when you can do it later? I always say! We're limiting our t.v./computer/electronic times because it's "not good for" our family to be engrossed in activities that stifle communication. Amazingly, Cooper is on board with this most of the time. When I explained that Mommy won't be spending so much time on the computer either, he was much more willing to give up some of his Leapster time. However, this tactic did not work so well tonight as I was trying to re-introduce broccoli to my sweet angel.

"Okay. . .let's all eat a bite of broccoli together! Yey! This is going to be so fun! Ready? Go!" You would think I asked the boy to eat a handful of dirt. He was not fooled; he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. He quickly refused the bite and stated emphatically, "I will NEVER eat vegetables!" Lou then decided that he would "help" him out by feeding him the minute bite of greens himself. Wow. . .not a good idea. This is when we almost saw Cooper's chicken and potatoes for a second time. At first, I thought, "He must really not like broccoli. I cannot believe it made him gag!" But as Lou sent Coop to the Time Out Chair, he informed me that the morsel had not even made it into Coop's mouth. He had immediately stuck out his tongue and pretty much gagged himself at the mere thought of consuming something green. He had not even had a chance to taste it! Adamantly against broccoli. Note taken.

You know, maybe if Cooper would have just given it a chance, he might have seen that this particular vegetable was not bad. Maybe he would have even liked it.

Aren't we like a 3-yr-old refusing our veggies sometimes? God is calling on us to experience his goodness; I mean, really experience it by making our relationship with Him personal and real. Yet, we fail to do so.

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8

Just as veggies are essential for the nourishment of our bodies, the LORD is vital to our emotional and spiritual health. Simply put, He is good for us. However, we continue to starve ourselves of the health He provides. Sometimes we're not even giving Him a chance to satiate us at all. We're figuratively sticking out our tongue before the veggie is making it in the mouth. Maybe you're just too busy to spend time with Him every day. Maybe, like me, you choose to do other things (like sleep) instead of getting up to do your quiet time. Possibly, you know that you need to go deeper with Him, explore Him a bit more, but you're simply refusing to do it. But all we're doing when we do this is weakening ourselves. God promises to give us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3); are we taking Him up on the offer?

Ladies, let's get on a steady diet of Diety. Just like our bodies get rundown quickly with no vitamins and minerals, our souls do the same without God. He is our source for everything we could ever need. Let's take Him at His word and taste and see that He is good.

Father, thank you that you are everything we need for full living. We are sorry for our spiritual laziness; help us to exert the extra effort to get daily nourishment from the Bread of Life. We love you, Amen.

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Apr 8, 2008

Storm Safety

Texas Weather. It's a fickle and unpredictable thing. This morning as I woke up and started getting Cooper dressed for school, I checked the weather online to ensure he would be clothed appropriately. Eighties and sunny. Yes! We threw on the khaki shorts and t-shirt, quickly brushed his teeth, and headed out the door, excited about a day filled with sunshine. However, as we stepped out we were confronted with gray, ominous clouds and slight rumblings in the not-so-distance. Bummer. A short time later, a sudden, fierce rainstorm descended, bringing with it deafening ground strikes of lightning and big ol' fat rain (Forest Gump voice). Upon arriving home, I sat in front of my sliding glass doors watching the downfall. Then, faintly, I heard a strange clink-clinking sound. Hail! Little balls of ice were rolling all over my balcony! (Don't you know I thought about starting one of my fires?) Anyway, not 2 minutes later, it had all totally ceased. Then. . .blue skies. It all lasted no longer than 10 minutes. From chaotic darkness to tranquil light in less time than it takes to cook a pizza. Bizarre.

Isn't our life like my morning sometimes? We're going along expecting a sunny day just like the one before it and WHAM! Life hits us upside the head and sends us reeling. It can be scary. As I was driving home from Coop's school watching the clouds quickly roll in, I became increasingly more anxious because the thunder was becoming louder and the lightning brighter and closer. So, I ran home, where I jogged up the stairs into the safety of our condo and closed the door securely behind me. Shelter.

I'm comforted to know that when life sneaks up on me and knocks me off kilter, God is not caught off-guard.

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight." Hebrews 4:13

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

God is not sitting staring over the portals of Heaven in anxiety fretting about what is going to happen next. All of our days have already been recorded. He knows. And, amazingly, He cares and promises to lend protection and help.

"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling" Psalm 27:5

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

We will have days that sneak up on us and shake our very foundation, but God's mighty hand will uphold it and steady us. We need to run up the stairs of Heaven and find safety in His dwelling. It's from this place of security that we can watch the downpour without getting drenched by it. As we seek the Comforter for strength and peace, the cacophony fades. Yes, it's still raining; it may even be beginning to hail, but behind the closed doors of our Fortress, it's quiet. However, finding this stillness depends on us. Will we stand out in the storm wondering why it's raining and how in the world it is ever going to stop or are we going to make a quick dash into shelter? He is our calm in the storm. And before you know it. . .blue skies.

Father, thank you that nothing takes you by surprise. We just praise you for having it all under control and working everything out for our good. Help us to trust that. We love you, Amen.

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Apr 1, 2008

Stop, Prop, and Behold

First off, thank you to any of you who took time to pray for me last week. I'm having a much better week and I know it is because of the prayers of my friends and family. Thank you so, so much.

Well, I took a two hour nap yesterday. I even had the fire going and my feet propped up to feel the warmth crawling from the flames. You might be thinking, "A fire? In April?" Yea, that's right. I don't care if it's 65 degrees and sunny outside; there's just something soothing about dim lighting and fire crackling. So what if I had to close the blinds and turn the fan on high?

I don't normally take time out of my busy days to simply sleep. It makes me feel lazy. I always think of all of my friends who are working, especially my mom and sister who have very demanding jobs. Consequently, instead of feeling blessed to be able to rest, I feel guilty for doing so. I can think of a million things I need to do, like clean this house. You should see it. . .I'm actually watching a ball of cat fur blow across the hard woods right now. Gross.

However, obtaining much needed rest is not lazy, nor is it a sin. In fact, God instructs us to take off not only hours, but days.

"For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD." Ex. 31:15a

Did you notice what you have to stop doing on the Sabbath? Yea. Working. In order to experience the rest God is instructing us to receive, we must cease laboring. Is this difficult for anyone else but me? Wait, let me rephrase that since it really isn't difficult for me to not work. Does anyone else feel guilty when you're not doing something? In our success-driven society, being idle is not looked upon favorably. How many of you work in an environment where long hours are not only encouraged but rewarded? The people who seem to get ahead are the employees who's lives are consumed by their careers. However, these workers are the same people who are worn-out, stressed-out and very often, down-and-out. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Remember Mary and Martha? Martha's doing earned her irritability, dis-ease and a general grouchiness. She also nearly missed spending time with Jesus because she thought she had so much to do. Sound familiar? I know. . .ouch. Me too.

If we will simply take some time away from the rat race that surrounds us, we will find restoration for our minds, bodies and spirits. Like it or not, this fast and furious life we're living takes its toll on us, and we must take deliberate steps to refuel. But, a nap by a fire won't cure us completely.

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him." Psalm 62:1

Physical rest restores the body, but that mental fatigue we experience can only be remedied by the very presence of God. So many times when I'm feeling spread thin and overwhelmed, my first instinct is to either hop in a hot, bubbly tub or pop in the latest romantic comedy. As great as those escapes can be, they are just that: temporary escapes. I emerge from them feeling only slightly better; my fatigue or stress inevitably returns. God tells us to come to Him when we are weary and burdened and He will give us rest (Matt. 11.28). And that rest, deep-to-the-core rest, can only come from Him. It really is that simple: Come. Find rest.

Girls, let's identify our mental fatigue as what it truly is: a need to be restored by our God. Let's close out the world and prop up our feet by the All Consuming Fire. Let Him warm your soul and light a fresh flame in you.

Father, thank you that in simply being with you, we find rest and restoration. Prompt us to stop and take you in and help us to be obedient to that prompting. Again, thank you for your personal attention to us. We are grateful. Amen.

Discussion/Processing Questions:

1. When feeling overwhelmed, what activity or person do you turn to instead of God?
2. If you looked at your schedule, are you happy with how you are spending your time?

Thanks for listening!

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