Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This is called

"Look Andee, this is called We Don't Use Too Much Toilet Paper."

Oh Charlee, thank you for making your mama laugh with the things that come out of your mouth sometimes.  I love getting to see the world through your eyes.  I will love you forever, even when you use too much toilet paper.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Run to Him

Our absolute favorite kids' Bible is The Jesus Storybook Bible.  It is sooooooo amazing at pointing to Jesus in every story.  I don't remember much about Bible stories from my childhood days, but I remember enough to know that I had NO IDEA that the entire Old Testament points to Jesus.  I just thought He showed up in the New Testament so when I learned that it's ALL about Him, every page of His Word, I was stunned.  So that's why I love this Bible because from a very young age my little ones are learning about Jesus.  That it's always been all about Him and it will always be all about Him.

So, tonight we read The Captain of the Storm taken from Mark 4 and Matthew 8.

After reading I asked Charlee, "Did you know that when we have Jesus we never need to fear anything?"

Very matter-of-factly she replied, "Yeah, Mommy, like when we are afraid and we want to run and hide sometimes we can run to Him instead."

"That's right, honey.  That's exactly right."

And then silence.  I had nothing else to say.  That's it.  We run to Him.  Always.  Without fail.  Without abandon.  We run.

And I prayed, "Please Jesus, may this little girl spend her life running to You."

I don't know how much a 4 year old can comprehend about Jesus and what He's all about, but I am certain that she is far beyond where I was at her age in terms of understanding the simplicity of the gospel.  And for that I am so grateful.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A first world problem

There's a strange little something that's been weighing on my mind...

I have a passion for health, fitness, nutrition, etc.  All the things you could stick in a bucket and call "wellness."  Because of this passion, I've been committed for quite some time to providing healthy, mostly organic food for my family to eat.  My conviction in doing so stems mostly from a desire to attempt to protect my girls from the possibility of disease because of harmful pesticides, hormones, etc. in our food supply.  But equally important to me is the desire to support my local farming community, in particular those who uphold eco-friendly agricultural values and practices.  No, I'm not an environmentalist...at least not in the typical sense of the word.  I do, however, highly value this earth God has given us and believe we need to do our best to steward it well.  I also believe our bodies are temples, in which the Holy Spirit lives and dwells and that it is our responsibility as Christians to steward these gifts well, too (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The most strikingly obvious difference you'll notice when you purchase real food (you know, the kind that isn't neon because of dyes, the chicken breasts that are smaller because they're not pumped with hormones, the stuff that's not shelf-stable for centuries) is the oftentimes significantly greater dent it makes in your bank account.  This is a price I've been willing to pay for quite some time, but...

I was beginning to feel like perhaps all this organic, naturalness was becoming a little bit of an idol in my life.  And that feeling wasn't sitting well with me.  But I didn't really know how to not let it be an idol, but at the same time follow some strong convictions I have about big agriculture and fake food.

Then this Matthew 25 way of living starts to become very real to me. And then I start to question whether I should even buy organic at all.  And then I feel convicted.  And then God reaches down and turns my heart upside down in my chest.

And now I know this is very clearly a first world problem.

I mean, to even talk about organic, non-GMO, high fructose corn syrup free, artificial dye free, paraben free, and on and on seems so very trivial, doesn't it, when you consider these statistics:

  • Nearly 963 million people in the world are hungry
  • Over 1.4 billion people in the developing world live below the poverty line ($1.25 per day)
  • More than 6 million children die each year from malnutrition
  • 53% of deaths of children under the age of 5 are related to under-nutrition

Suddenly the going rate of $5.00 for a 6oz container of organic blueberries seems slightly ridiculous when I think of all the people living at less than $1.25 per day.

So, what now?  How do I reconcile my growing burden for the poor with my desire to provide the best nutrition for my family?

Again, I remind myself of Jesus' word in Matthew 25:
I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me--you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40, The Message)
Tom Davis in his book Red Letters writes, "If our Christian faith doesn't manifest into something that helps the life of another human being, it doesn't mean squat to him."  Is my "organic" shopping preventing me from giving as much as I could to another human being.  I think so.  And I would rather see more mouths fed across this world with food that's sprayed with preservatives and injected with hormones than I would like to see the faces of these children dying...all while I'm eating my organic blueberries.

Am I going to rush out to the grocery store and stockpile my cupboards with food that will last through the next millennium?  No.  But I will be giving some of the money I save from not being enslaved to the organic revolution to those who need food...plain, simple food.

There's even a deeper issue here, too.  Fear.  So I will be trusting God more because I know that I don't have one ounce of control over the ultimate health of my family.  He is sovereign and He is worth trusting.  Besides, "fear keeps us from acting on the compassion in our hearts" (Red Letters, Tom Davis).  Maybe it's just me, but for some reason I feel that He may just choose to honor the sharing of abundance among many over the hoarding of the "natural" for a family of four.

I think it's clear that our God is pretty passionate about the poor and the needy and I want to be conformed to His image, so maybe I ought to pursue that same passion.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48, NIV)

Monday, August 6, 2012

School girl

Although not huge, our family hit another milestone today as Charlee began her second year of preschool.  I'm still not quite sure how I got to be old enough to be married let alone have a child in school!  Of course, we had to take the stereotypical "first day of school" pictures and here you have it...

The school girl.

One with Daddy.

One with Mommy.

One with sister...well, sort of.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to school we go.  Uh oh, one is gonna be left behind.  Sad day.  She just doesn't understand why she can't do everything big sister does. 

Poor baby.  She was so proud.  Don't worry, little A, your day is coming...next year!

Proof that someone stayed happy even after we got to school.

Friday, August 3, 2012

“Cut out” for Jesus

Jesus, you're wrecking me.  And I'm loving it.  These last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  You have led me to discover You, a whole new Jesus.  A very real Jesus.  A Jesus who says, “Come.  Follow Me.”

What have the past 20 years that I’ve been a Christian been all about?  About You?  Sadly, no, they’ve mostly been not about You but about me.  And I didn’t even see it.  Until now.

This “now” is changing me.  I know so much now, in this moment, that I didn’t know just a few short weeks ago.

For 20 years I didn’t know You want me.  I didn’t know You look at me and see someone who can be used by You to change the world.  I didn’t know that Your call on my life is no different than your call to the disciples 2000 years ago.  I didn’t know I didn’t need to wait for a “calling” from you.  I didn’t know that this normal American dream of a life isn’t all that You want for me.

Reckless abandon. I guess I always thought that some people were called to live their lives with this kind of love for You, but I just wasn’t one of them. My “normal” life was acceptable. I thought some people were just “cut out” for going to Africa, for being missionaries.  Now I’m starting to get it.  There’s nothing biblical about choosing not to obey because I am not “cut out” for something.  These people in Africa and elsewhere are not all “cut out” for their work, for Your work.  No, but they are “cut out” for You.  I want to be “cut out” for you. My sacrifices (and there haven’t been many) are not pleasing to You. It’s not my sacrifices You’re after, You want my obedience.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  James 1:22

I love Preston Sprinkle’s perspective on obedience.  Speaking in reference to Matthew 25:31-46, he says, “Jesus emphasizes obedience as the marker of distinguishing the believer from the unbeliever.”  Does that mean there’s no grace?  No. Absolutely not.  What it means, I think, is that it’s through obedience that fruit grows in a believer’s life.  We’re always looking for fruit as the evidence of faith, but maybe we’ve got it wrong.  Maybe we should be looking for obedience as the evidence of that faith.  I think sometimes we’re tempted to believe that if we see what we consider fruit in a person’s life that means they are walking with God.  But how do we know that that fruit is a by-product of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life or if it’s just their desire to do “good” things which is usually driven by the desire to please other fallen people rather than the perfect Creator God?  Perhaps it’s not the fruit that declares a person godly. I think it might be the obedience to God’s commands. When there’s obedience, naturally there will be fruit.

I know very little, but one thing I’m being convinced of over and over as I read Scripture these days is how much it feels Jesus demands of me.  Or is it really that much?  He sent His perfect Son to die for me, to purchase me back from death and on a daily basis I say, “No thanks, God.  I can do it myself.  This cute little life I’ve created is good enough.”  But it’s not.  It pales in comparison to the glory He seeks.

If Jesus, on the night before he was murdered, prayed for God to be glorified, who am I to think that I shouldn’t do the same?  Daily.  On my face before Him.

Jesus, I am praying “anything” for You.  For Your glory because You will not share it with another.  It’s all about You and it’s always been only about You, but maybe I’m just now waking up to that truth.

Jesus, You’ve never been more beautiful to me.  Make me completely Yours.

“The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”  2 Chronicles 16:9

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dancing girl

Little Charlee girl, you're a dancer.  You have a dancing gene.  I don't know where it came from and neither does Daddy, but somehow it got in there.  You've been taking a class called Fairytale Ballet this summer with Miss Jenny.  It truly has been the perfect match for you...a mixture of both dance and dress-up.  Two of the things that make your heart happiest. Today was "performance" day so we got to witness all the fun you've been having.

You, my little girl, are a delight.  I love to watch you when you're "in your element."  When you're so focused, afraid to smile because you're concentrating so hard.  But every once in a while you'll glance over just to make sure we're still watching, that we're noticing you.  And we are watching.  We are watching you blossom into such a beautiful young lady.  Somehow you've reached an age where you are a girl.  You're not a baby, not a toddler, not even a little girl to me anymore.  You're a little lady and I couldn't be more proud of you.

You are learning not to say "I can't" but rather "I'll try."  And because you're choosing to "try", you are going to have so much fun in life.  My prayer is that you will always try because I know what it's like to live in the "I can'ts" and you miss out on a lot of life.  I don't want that for you.  I am learning to try with you and I thank you for that.  I love you, beautiful one.

Pretty ballerina.

The peanut gallery.

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