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“I long to live in restful sincerity of heart. I want to live so fully in the Spirit that all my thoughts may be as sweet incense ascending to Thee and every act of my life may be an act of worship.” -A.W. Tozer
I was still, every part of me, and God reminded me, once again, that playing these drums is for Him. Sometimes I look at everyone sitting out there and think about them, I think about me and my performance, me and my lacking.
But most often I am thinking about both my heavenly Dad and my earthly Dad.
My dad played the drums at our church.
I close my eyes and feel the music and I think about the time one of my teenage friends said: “When your dad closes his eyes and plays, it’s like he is worshiping God while he is drumming.”
13 years ago when Bath and Body Works introduced their Aromatherapy line and we were changing the signage I was allowed to nab one of the signs we had displayed and take it home. It is a soothing green circle and the words on it are simply: “Stress Less.” It hangs on the wall of my computer room to be seen when I walk in. I can see it with my peripheral vision right now.
Yesterday, I read a Facebook status update from a friend that said he watched a spider build its web and while watching he did nothing else. It took 45 minutes. What bliss, that is part of what life is about and yet people believe that they could never have time for that. They don’t know that it is richer to drink in life instead of gulping it down.
This afternoon, I picked up “My Utmost for His Highest” and this is what Oswald Chambers had to say when I picked up my bookmarked page: “When God brings in the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait. The blank space may come in order to teach you what sanctification means, or it may come after sanctification to teach you what service means.” How does God always know how to pave the way for things?
In my last post, I talked about still figuring out how to write again and I also mentioned trying to find “pockets” of time. It seems to be much the same concerning the Sabbath. It is something that I am still figuring out at this point, but I have been conscious of needing rest and making time to rest.
When I say rest, I do mean literally naps, because in times past I would never allow myself that. In fact, admitting that I do take naps at times is difficult because I am afraid of being perceived as lazy. But God has impressed on me that sometimes I must so that I can give everything I need give to those in my household and around me. That sometimes it is more important than finishing something else.
When I say rest, I also mean learning to be at peace with some mess because that is not in my natural makeup as a person. But I have found that it took up so much of my time, I always felt like I was cleaning up after everyone, and I would become frustrated with them. I am being taught that the minimum in this area is not always bad. I am still learning. Right now my son keeps opening the desk drawer to get something new out and I keep shutting it. Testament to the fact that I am a continual work in progress.
When I say rest, I mean to rest on God. And rest on Him like my Daddy. Cuddling up and just knowing that His strength will take care of it all.
When I say rest, I mean to rest my eyes on my sons. To be refreshed by play. To drink in the cool water that is my two little boys. To throw off the idea of anything else and just look at them. To choose rest over strain. To lessen the “lessons” I teach with words so that I do not tire them and myself and instead choose lessons by action.
This being said, I feel like God is telling me to figure out a specific time to have as my Sabbath, but that He is well pleased with my progress. And this is a rest I have been learning as well because I always had a notion (never expressed or admitted) that I must be at the end, at completion, at perfection to finally rest or for God to be pleased. But I have learned that God will always be completing, always be perfecting and that as long as I am working on what He says, I can rest. I can have peace.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore mist gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, the the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Lately, I have had trouble writing. I have not evolved completely from teenager who had excessive amounts of time to write in silence to wife and then wife and mom with hardly any silence ever. You would think that I would have learned in the span of ten years. It is difficult to change any habit and this includes a writing habit.
However, I am trying to consciously make little pockets of time to write. Pockets of time, even though I have not completely defined what that means yet, is my main plan of action. And when I say this, it is because I am trying to break the habit of needing to write a complete essay in one sitting. So, pocket time creates a space for my writing juices to start flowing, to stretch my literary muscles and then strengthen them. I am not in the habit yet, but I am finding time.
In what ways am I finding time? If I think of a good turn of a phrase (such as I did while mowing the lawn while my boys were in quiet time) then I write it in my journal. Often, the phrase flies out nearly as soon as it comes in because a little boy voice pushes it out by saying “I’m hungry” a few times in a row-more than a few. But when it stays for a few minutes, I write it down and this is better than I have done in the past.
The “pocket” idea I am currently most proud of is returning to a favorite pastime from my childhood. All the while, introducing it to my own son while sneaking in some writing. Two weeks ago, I folded and stapled together about five pages and then told my son that we were going to write a book. I let him draw and then I used his drawings to inspire writing (see below). I also stapled together some pages of my own and just did a freewrite. Making a cover page with my name on it somehow inspired me to write better.
Another exercise has been recording some of my past writings on the computer and, when I type out words I have written before, I start to feel encouraged and somehow something comes to mind. In fact, I was in the middle of recording a short story and I felt that it was time to begin this post.
I will admit that the boys have stayed in quiet time a little longer than usual today. But I think they will not be scarred.
Lastly, I am learning that perfection cannot always be attained in a post, but that it feels best to get something out there instead of one hanging in limbo until perfect. Which is why I am going to leave this one alone now, post it, and get my boys’ out of quiet time.
Until we meet again.
Driving along a major road in my town, there is a particular corner where men and women are waiting with clipboards next to their big sign that states: “Impeach Obama” and displays a “Hitler” mustache on the face of our President. They sit there at least a few times a month. As I drive by, not knowing whether these people claim to be Christians or not, I still think about the oxymoron that is Christians in politics.
It might be someone’s first reaction to assume that I am not for Christians in politics at all, especially after they read this post. The truth is that I believe that politics should have balance when it is a part of a Christian’s life and that it is difficult to maintain balance when we are ultra involved (in politics). It is also difficult to maintain a proper Christian witness. As Christians, we should support measures that help maintain civil order or try to correct gross social offenses, but civil order and social offenses will not ever be remedied by politics and it can often take time and energy away from our commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and our greatest command (Matthew 22:36-40). As John MacArthur says in an essay concerning Christians and Politics:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you…”
”Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the Law? and he said to them, ”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Why is it that I think politics in the Christian life can be such a tricky thing to balance? Politics is, by nature, divisive and God’s word says: ”A house divided cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25) If we, as Christians, cannot stand together we cannot go out into the world and accomplish meeting the world’s needs.
Now someone might say: ‘Wouldn’t trying to accomplish meeting needs through politics be a way to make a vast change in the lives of many people?’ I don’t think so.
One, I don’t think we were ever meant to have government. I believe it is an institution that God allowed us to have and has ordered us to obey but not what was originally intended for us. Two, the change will most likely only last for the term of whatever politician is in office. Three, laws induce only superficial change and not deep heart change. It is a distant way of meeting a need. It lacks the touch of God’s hand through ours. Fourth, I do think we should handle gross injustice in the political system- don’t get me wrong. However, it should not take up so much time that we are not touching people who are affected by these laws one on one. Do we fight for the Right to Life? We can, but how long will those laws last? Can we find ways to reach out and embrace women considering abortion? There are options in your own church and organizations that would love to have more manpower.
I know that we need to be aware of laws that might take away our freedom and, more importantly, laws that take protection away from the innocent. But even this does not outweigh our great command, because this command must be obeyed in spite of what our government does, no matter what state it is in , no matter what freedoms we do or do not have. And we can overlook strengthening our awareness and our practical involvement when we are too involved in the political side. Do I love having these rights and freedoms? Yes, I do. I would be scared if they were taken away, yet I don’t think my greatest call is to fight for them.
Psalms 33:12 says: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”
But that does not mean that because America was supposedly founded on Christian principles that God is the Lord of our nation. As a country we have not chosen him, neither by laws will we bring a nation to him. Morality of a people is not the priority, reaching individuals who will also love and serve God is the priority.
The moral decline of America is not political anyway and cannot be solved by politics. The moral decline is spiritual and can only be helped in that way. The moral decline is not because of our political system, our political system only reflects us as a country. If we could focus on the people and could be the real church there would be healing and the political system would reflect the healing.
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face then will I hear from heaven and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
That is the way that we will be healed. That is a priority. If the whole land is not Christian we cannot make them so by law. And when we begin to fight (and I mean fight) for those sorts of laws we can become hostile toward political leaders, opposing parties, and real people who are “on the other side.” We see ourselves as right and them as wrong instead of them as a human in need and us as a human who can lift them up. Our tongue is our deadliest weapon when it should be our greatest tool and it inflicts wounds that are slow healing. God does not give us an out when it concerns politics.Our tongue is not suddenly our own and allowed to be wielded how we choose. When people appear to us as part of a party or political affiliation, or anything other than another sinful and hurting human, we can distance them and we do. They do not seem so worthy of our help any longer. Our tongue and our action can become hurtful, distancing, and proud.
“With it (our tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” James 3:9-12
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18
We must honor our government and those leaders, we should honor the freedom people have given their life for by voting, we should maintain an interest in what is going on, but we must be aware of heavy involvement and the energy and resources it can take away from the day to day spiritual warfare we are engaged in. Those who have been called to politics, be aware of the humility of spirit and tongue that we are still called to and the lifting up of Christ that will draw men and women to him.
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
Growing up in a non-denominational church we did not have services or portions of service that were ceremonial, we did have a routine but not ritual. The source of this practice was from a good intention. Ritual can become mundane and turn into vain repetition. However, sometimes you miss an occasion to gain useful reflection from the solemnity of tradition.
The church that my husband and I attend is of Protestant denomination but on Good Friday we follow the liturgy of Tenebrae which was originally an Orthodox practice. It has become one of my favorite services and the reason is simply that each element is designed for reflection and at the end of this particular service, more than any other, I am truly considering what this celebration of Easter means.
Before the celebration there was death, there was sorrow, there was betrayal and all of this grief brings beauty and excitement to the fact that three days later there was light, life, and victory.
I think, as Christians, we are afraid of not showing our appreciation if we picture Christ on the cross. I remember, as a young girl, seeing Catholics wear a crucifix, Jesus on the cross, and those in Protestant denominations wearing a cross without Jesus on it. I questioned this and was told that we wear a cross without Christ on it because “He is not on the cross anymore.” As a grown woman, I now think both are beautiful reminders. We miss out on something when we do not deeply reflect on the fact that he once was on the cross. It takes away from the victory that now Jesus is alive.
The service of Tenebrae means “shadow” both connoting a foreshadowing of his death as well as a weighty feeling. The scripture readings are done so in dim lighting lending a reflective spirit to the whole service. Each reading gives us opportunity to meditate on a portion of his suffering and to apply it to ourselves. The only lights beside those for reading are the 7 candles that are extinguished as each reading is finished. There is power in the silence after each reading. The following are the 7 shadows that we reflect on:
The Shadow of Betrayal (Matt. 26:20-25)
My husband is a school teacher and so we have made our way into conversation many times about the culture of cool. How parents really feel the need to push their kids into popularity or let them slide into it or even how adults who were never cool take their opportunity when they have children. Either way there is an obsession that we do not want our children to be a part of.
I have to admit I checked out a book from the library recently that I knew would jive with what I already believe about parenting. Sometimes you just need someone to encourage you along the way even if it is an author you have never met. I was in the parenting section because it is right next to the kids section and I had already selected books about trees and the sun and moon for my son. So, while he played, I skimmed the titles. I came across one that caught my interest “Bringing up Geeks: How to Protect Your Kid’s Childhood in a Grow-Up-Too-Fast World.”
I think my parents brought me and my 3 siblings up as geeks and for that I am truly thankful. I am looking forward to raising my two boys as geeks also. I am also a little intimidated. It is not going to be an easy task. This culture really is obsessed with “cool” it is all around and more accessible than ever. But what is that true cliche? Nothing worth having comes easy.
People will scoff and say: “Let’s see about that in a few years” but below I have listed those things that are very important to me as I raise my boys.
1) Looking people in the eye when they are talking to you.
This is about more than eye contact. This is about respect. Also in this world of cell phones and technology it is about being able to put it down for awhile and focus on a real person in front of you. Yes, something that bothers me very much.
My son was given a Leap Pad last year for Christmas and he was only 3 years old. I was at least in Elementary School before I ever played a video game and I certainly did not have my own device to play it on. I have already had to learn how to limit technology and already had to have conversations about those limitations with him and people he visits with. I was hoping for at least a couple of years before I had to do this, but I have realized it is only going to get more difficult and it is one I am steeling myself for.
Right now he is allowed 25 minutes of play time on his Leap Pad every other day. He must earn watching a half hour of TV by accumulating 10 stickers on his “helping” chart. Or he may watch television with his dad on the weekend which usually consists of two Alton Brown “Good Eats” a really informative cooking show.
His list of okay television shows:
Mr. Rogers Neighborhood
Thomas the Train
Shaun the Sheep
Timmy the Sheep
No Calliou (whiny!). No Sponge Bob (ridiculous, questionable). No Word Girl (disrespectful!). I don’t even approve every Disney or Pixar movie. Brave. No. Not for a four year old. Toy Story and Cars. Yes.
2) Playing outside
I actually notice a real difference in my oldest son’s attitude when he plays outside more. Too many kids are at a loss when they get outside. He can play in his sandbox for three hours straight. Sand is not fun to clean up but I would rather that over him staying inside.
3) Being a lifelong learner (I actually have this phrase in large letters in our library)
Sure I want him to get good grades which equals a good college which equals a good job but more than that I want him to love learning. If he doesn’t get a good grade but he worked hard I am happy. I want to help him find things he is interested in and pursue knowledge. I want him to be curious about how things work and why things are the way they are. I want him to be able to find information for himself. To explore. To love life and to be amazed at what surrounds him. I want life to be an adventure. I hate the purposefully cool “bored” attitude. Learn something. I want him to be child that is not afraid to be enthusiatic. Even writing that seems ridiculous but it isn’t. When you are enthusiastic about things people laugh at you. But I don’t want him to care about that. Which brings me to my next point:
Most parents would say that they want their child to be honest, upright, generous, etc. but I think one problem people have in this world right now is DEFINING those words. Everything is so relative now. The thing is that character really is not relative. Morality is not relative. But when a person cannot define what is moral they obviously cannot teach someone to live morally. Some things are right and some things are wrong. Some people will laugh at you, some people will stop being your friend when you stand up for those things. Tough. Living an honorable life is more important than people who cannot respect that.
5) True friend and Neighbor/ Friendly
A true friend is principled, of course, but it is worth mentioning this one as a point in itself. It is difficult to be a true friend. Sometimes you need to do things you don’t like doing, sometimes you need to share, sometimes you need to apologize and all the time you need to be able to listen and to be aware of how you can love this other person.
When I am in line, an especially long line, I find talking with the person before me or the person behind me makes the line seem so much shorter, but I have also found that some people are engaged to their phone ( do I mean “with”?) or that they are not friendly. Many really enjoy the distraction too after their initial surprise. I hope my sons can engage in friendly conversation. There is so much to learn from others. So much benefit that will never be garnered from their phone and the internet.
6) Team Player
Sports for children have become a BIG deal and with it another way to showcase your children or to live out your own fantasies- for them to be your living trophy. The thing is I want sports and competition to teach my child more than how to win. I want them to learn how to cheer on others, how to be principled even if it means losing, how to lose gracefully. And also how to master (as well as they can) a new skill.
7) Late bloomer
I want my kids to have a childhood. I don’t want them to have shirts with wry phrases, I don’t want them to dress in the latest trends, I don’t want them to be savvy. I want them to have innocence and imagination. I want them to play. I want them to know that romantic relationships can wait…for a long time. There is so much to explore, to know, to do. I have a pet peeve about “girlfriend” jokes. “Is that your little girlfriend?” or “Do you have a girlfriend yet?” Even his kisses to his friends that are girls are acts of friendship. I love his naivete about the world and their pettiness. They will not be allowed to have a television in their room or a computer in their room (or anything with internet capacity). Social media will be something they have to wait to do. Movies will still be screened. I won’t know everything but because he is principled he will know right from wrong and, hopefully, make right choices.
Why do kids in this day and age dress like adults, talk like them, and yet have no idea how to sweep a floor, clean a room, do things for themselves? I want my kid to be a kid, dress like a kid, talk like a kid and know how to clean a room, do their homework, and stand up for themselves. I also want them to be able to take criticism from adults (whether warranted or not) and not rely on us to get them out of things they don’t want to do.
9) Lover of Family
Sometimes my boys will be forced to be at home even if they would rather be out with friends. We will have family down time, we will not always have to have an activity or be on the go. They will talk to us, to each other and we will have traditions and things that set us apart as a family. They will roll their eyes but secretly they will love it. They will defend each other and us and know that no matter where they are, who they are, what they do their family loves them and there is always a place for them here.
10) Think for themselves/ Be themselves
Like what you like. If you have read any of my other posts you also know that extends to the gender box.
I want to bring up a geek. I don’t want them to be “cool.” It took me awhile to figure out that I was a geek growing up. I was fun and pretty and smart but never included in the cool. I never understood until I realized that it wasn’t so important and that I liked who I was and who my family was and that that was more important than being cool. That sounds a lot like confidence. Confidence will carry my boys further than cool will. Childhood and youth only last so long. Be a child. And when you grow up…well, I also read a book called “Geeks Will Inherit the Earth.” Geek adults go far.