Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Waiting Like David

I recently studied the story of David and I was deeply touched by the way he waited for the promise of God to be fulfilled in his life. When he was still a young man, David was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the future king of Israel. How incredible! King Saul had been rejected by God and David had been chosen in his place. As impossible and far fetched as it seemed David, a humble shepherd and youngest son, was to be the next king of Israel. And it happened. But it didn't happen until 15 years or more later.

David didn't become king over Israel until he was 30 years old. But he started acting like a king from that first anointing by Samuel. He wasn't yet sitting on the throne but he began to walk in his anointing as a king even before he saw the promise fulfilled. In the very next chapter of Scripture, David faces Goliath. Here is a true king, even without the crown and royal robes. He stands against the enemy of his people and defeats him. He is acting like a king without being a king.

God equips us for our destiny before we get there. It isn't the earthly achievement that brings God's anointing and strengthening for the task. It is God's anointing that brings the earthly achievement. God equipped David to be a king years before he he was actually crowned. And David walked in that destiny before it ever came to pass in human terms.

What God has called you to, He has already blessed you to accomplish. The blessing doesn't come once you've made something happen. Something happens because God has already blessed you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm a Boring Mom

I know, you were thinking that my un-updated blog meant that I had packed up and left for Tahiti. Alas, not this time. Just a few computer glitches and frustrations (nothing a sledgehammer couldn't fix). But, here I am. No swimsuit, no tropical beach, just my picky laptop and a Double Chocolate Chip Cookie. Add a crushing realization about myself to the mix and it's been an interesting day.

Here's what I figured out on this grey and drizzly day...I'm no fun. Yep, that's me, a non-fun Mom. And I feel bad for my kids. Especially when they're homeschooled and it's cold and rainy outside and they're trapped indoors with a mother who's idea of big fun is listening to classical music and reading a book. Which apparently is not fun when you're 7 and even less fun when you're 3.

Here's the thing, I don't come up with creative uses for macaroni, pipe cleaners and glitter. I don't invent games involving pillows and Matchbox cars and I don't know how to make cool shadow puppets. I'm not completely hopeless. I can build an awesome campsite out of Lincoln Logs and Legos and I can make a mean bead bracelet. But today, I was feeling pretty boring.

None of my curriculum books have a chapter devoted to rainy day fun. I need a homeschool guide that tells you what to do when your kids finish all of their school work by lunch time and my creativity tank is empty.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Guinea Pig Cage Match

Now before you go calling PETA and the SPCA to report me for guinea pig cruelty based on the title of this post, read the whole thing through. Deal?

Here's how it started, hubby and I decided to get our adorable children a pet. We currently have a fish but he's rather un-cuddly and non-petable. So after some research we decided on a guinea pig. Cute, cuddly and poops in a cage and not on my floor. All good things. Then, upon further research we decided to get two guinea pigs since we discovered that guinea pigs are social critters who need the company of their piggie pals.

So off we go to the pet store. I spoke with the saleslady who actually told me not to get two piggies. Well, when confronted with the expertise of someone wearing a name tag, I caved in and left with just one guinea pig. We got home, got him all set up in his new guinea pig palace and called it a day. Well, when hubby asked me, via text message, how it was going and I explained that our guinea pig was flying solo, he disagreed with the pet store helper...and of course the kids sided with daddy.

So the next day we headed back to the store to pick up a piggie friend. Unfortunately, the first guinea pig was apparently unaware of his social nature because he did not welcome his new roommate. After about 3 minutes he tried to climb on top of the new guy and bite his head. Yep, guinea pig cage match and the new guy got his furry bottom kicked.

It was a tough call (not really, I'm not a fan of macho guinea pig battles) but we took the aggressive guinea pig back to the store and grabbed one of the new guy's litter mates instead. Now the guinea pig brothers have been re-united and all is well. But I'm pretty sure the guy who got thumped told his brother all about how he kicked the bully guinea pig's tail-less rear end all the way back to Petco. I mean, that's what I would do.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lessons from the Laundry Room

When a household chore teaches me something deeply profound about life, I'm usually torn between happiness at the "wow" moment and mild annoyance that it came in the midst of scrubbing, cleaning or ironing something.

Yesterday I went into the laundry room and suddenly realized that I forgot to put a load of towels into the dryer. Uh-oh. Clean towels were not so clean anymore. So I had to wash them again. And as I was starting the washing machine, a Scripture come to my mind.

"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first." Matthew 12:43-45

My forgotten towels were reinforcing this Scripture. We can wash something, fix something or change something, but if we are not diligent in completing the process, the end result will be worse than the mess we started with. I took some dirty towels, washed them and then failed to finish the chore (getting them in the dryer). The end result could have been mildew and ruined towels all for lack of follow through.

And if this is bad with towels, just imagine how tragic it is when people are involved. Do we say we'll do something and then not do it? Have we left something undone...or unsaid. Even with all of our good intentions and noble motives, have we made a situation worse simply because we failed to see it through to the end? Truthfully, that thought makes me squirm a little bit.

Do you know what God calls this necessary follow through? Faithfulness. Faithfulness means being committed to our task and sticking with it. It means not giving up halfway or when it gets too tough or when we find some new thing that sounds better.

And here's the best part...God is faithful. That's one of His primary attributes. God is always faithful. That means He is committed to seeing us through to the very end. He will never give up on us, or cast us aside when someone else comes along. God is the "author and the finisher of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2) What He has started in us, He will bring to its perfect and glorious completion.

Monday, March 8, 2010

It Must Be Going Well

So this whole homeschooling adventure must be going pretty well since I'm already thinking about curriculum for next year. When we started homeschooling in January, the hubby and I said that we were making the commitment for one semester and then we'd re-evaluate. Of course we really said that so I wouldn't completely freak out about the idea of homeschooling for the next 15 years. It's much easier for my brain to comprehend 6 months with an escape hatch rather than 15 years.

But this past weekend I caught myself looking at 3rd grade curriculum for Ella and pre-K work for Jack. Suddenly it dawned on me that homeschooling next year was just a given in my mind. And I didn't freak out, I was really happy about it. Somehow in the midst of flashcards and timelines and making candles, I sold myself on homeschooling. I stopped telling myself "we're trying it" or "we'll see how it goes" or "they can always go back to school" and started thinking about what to do next year.

I know...wow, right? Don't get me wrong, it's still hard work and there are times when I'm convinced that if I have to listen to Ella and Jack fight with each other for another minute I may completely lose my mind. But when I'm on the brink of mommy insanity I've stopped hearing my inner critic say "this homeschooling is too hard" and instead I hear a much calmer voice saying, "time for the kids to go outside."

I'm still open to the kids going back to school someday. And, here's my honest side again, there are days when I would really like to drop them off at school and do the grocery shopping all by myself. But for right now, I think we're good right here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Hate Flashcards

A while back I shared how I lost 2 hours of my life making flashcards by hand for my darling Ella. Well, Ella has now moved on to multiplication. And what does that mean? That's right, more flashcards. Can you feel my joy?

So this time around I decided to just buy the stupid flashcards. It's not giving up. I prefer to think of it as delegation. I delegated the work to a large corporation...and then I compensated them for their work. See how that rationalization works. Ok honestly, I just didn't want to do it.

So after Ella's ice skating lesson today, we stopped by a teaching supply store and I found the exact kind of flashcards I wanted. Double-sided with answers on one side and no answers on the flip side. Mission accomplished. Then we get home and Ella was so excited about the new cards that she asked if she could open them and do a few. My daughter begging to do math? Have at it!

Then I had to go make a phone call. And it all went downhill from there. When I finished the call Ella said, "Mommy, I'm in the 4's!" I went into the living room and nearly fell over. There's my Ella, with a big smile on her face and Sharpie in her hand. She was writing the answers on all the cards. On the no answer side! I'm pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head because Ella took one look at me and burst into tears.

I made brownies.

Now I have to glue little pieces of paper over the all Sharpie scrawled answers so we can actually use the blasted cards. I'm so very, very happy I decided not to spend all that time making flashcards.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jack and the Purple Poop

Ok, if you have issues with bathroom vocabulary or if you just really, really don't care for stories about my adorable 3 year old, then this post won't be for you. Feel free to click away and come back tomorrow for something profoundly deep and inspirational. But today I have a story that is just too funny not to share.

My sweet little boy Jack, also known as the mini-monkey boy of destruction, is in the process of potty training. Sigh. I am not a fan of this stage of development. I have yet to figure out the most effective way to explain in 3 year old speak the complex process of knowing when to go and, more importantly, where to go. So it's still a work in progress.

For the past few weeks Jack has been wandering around the house wearing only a t-shirt and Toy Story pull-ups. He's hit and miss on actually using the potty at the right time...oh, that wasn't meant as a commentary on his aim, but it works that way too. Well, the other day I looked at my half-naked Toy Story warrior and noticed that he looked like he was smuggling a present in his pull-up. You know what I mean. His caboose was dragging a bit. The trunk was full.

So, being the pro-active, always teaching mom that I am, I asked him, "Jack, did you go poop?" And, being the busy 3 year old that can't be bothered with minor details like diaper changes that he is, Jack replied, "nope."

Of course I didn't believe him so I scooped him up and took him upstairs to change his droopy drawers. And I laughed so hard I almost cried. Because what did I find waiting for me behind Buzz and Woody's smiling faces? A piece of purple chalk. Yep, chalk. And not a small piece either. And guess what else? When you keep chalk next to your skin, the color rubs off on you. That's right, purple monkey bottom. Apparently Jack decided that pull-ups make a good place to store things. Kind of like pockets. Pockets that you poop in.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beyond the Blessing

I've had a very specific prayer request lately and today is the deadline so to speak. It is a measurable, quantifiable request that is going to be measured and quantified today. I have asked the Lord to step in and take charge of this situation and today I'll see what God has done. And no matter what, I will still love Him.

As I have been praying about this situation I started to see that when God blesses us, the blessing isn't meant to stay with us. When God touches our lives, His work isn't just for us. It's meant to be shared. If the Lord has blessed you, in any way, you have the opportunity to bless someone else. Your testimony of God's faithfulness or patience or healing is a tool God wants to use to reach others.

Did God answer YOUR prayer? Yes. Did He do it because He loves YOU? Yes. Did He want to bless YOU? Yes. But if you keep that blessing to yourself and lock it away in the vault of your heart and only pull it out when you need encouragement, then you're only getting part of the gift God gave you. We are called to tell about the great things God has done and invite others to know the power and majesty of our Lord.

And the amazing thing is the more we tell the story, the more powerful the blessing becomes. It may have been a one-time miracle in our practical life, but it becomes a never ending river of blessing in our spiritual life if we simply open our hearts and our mouths and tell others about it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Just Enough Strength

I have been thinking a lot about part of my Pastor's message from Sunday. One of the things he spoke about was the way God is constantly giving us more of what we need. His presence, His gifts, His blessings are not a one time fill up, but rather a constant flow. The Scripture for this came from Ezekiel 47:12 where it describes the river of God flowing from His sanctuary that feeds the trees planted beside its waters. The trees are always bearing fruit and their leaves never wither.

The more I think about this passage, the more I find in it. God doesn't have a limit on how much He can, will and longs to give us. If we walk in humility and obedience He always gives us more. He gives us what we need, when we need it. And on the flip side, He never gives us too much.

Which might sound like a contradiction since I just said that God always wants to give us more. And He does, but He gives it in the right time. Think back to the Israelites in the desert. God gave them manna for the day. No extra (except for the Sabbath), nothing that could be hoarded or stored away "just in case." His blessing fell and it was exactly what they needed for that day. The Israelites needed to learn to rely on God daily for the blessing and strength to get through that day.

Perhaps we're not waiting for literal manna each day, but there is something we need every day. We need God's strength and guidance and mercy. There's a reason the Bible says His mercies are new every day. (Lamentations 3:23) We can't try to store up a bunch of yesterdays blessings and hope that will carry us through. If that were possible the temptation would be for us to lose our daily, intimate walk with God and only come back when our tanks were empty.

We need to wake up each day, commit ourselves to God's care and rely on Him to provide exactly what we need for the day. Then when we go to sleep we need to trust that God already knows what we will need for tomorrow and that it will be waiting for us in the morning.

Monday, March 1, 2010

When Perfectionists Decorate

I know, I know. I missed like four days of posting. I'm in danger of losing my Most Awesome Blogger of the Year Award. What you didn't know about that? Oh yeah, it's a big deal. Fancy dresses, red carpet, paparazzi...no wait, that's the Oscars.

Anyway, I've been up to my elbows in buttercream icing for the past few days making a cake for a friend's baby shower, and I didn't think my keyboard would appreciate getting all clogged up with high fat, high sugar icing globules. The good news is that the cake turned out utterly fabulous...and my computer is icing free.

But the whole cake adventure got me thinking, and you know what happens when I get to thinking. Here's a lesson: perfectionism and cake decorating are a rotten combination. I mean an up until midnight, redesigning part of the cake at 10:00pm the night before the event because the cutesy buttons bugged me kind of rotten combination. The cake was adorable and fine with the cutesy buttons. But the buttons were mocking me with their "it's nice, but it could be better" button face smirks. So I had to pull them off and make bows instead. And it was totally worth it. But my point is...perhaps perfectionist people should stay away from labor intensive, detail oriented hobbies.

Of course having said that, any true perfectionist reading this is going to immediately insist that labor intensive, detail oriented hobbies are exactly what perfectionists do best and to prove it they're already making plans to assemble a scale model of the Titanic (pre-iceberg) inside a vintage glass Coke bottle. Yep, those are my people.