Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Still Trying To Get It Right

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom."

James - half brother of Jesus - said that.  

I'm studying James right now with a small group of women.  It's always a killer for me - James is, but God just keeps bringing me back to it.  Apparently He has some things for me to learn - and it's taking me a while to get it down.

In our study this week, I read a quote that was a little (and by "a little", I mean "a lot") convicting.  And not wanting you to feel left out, I'm gonna share it.

The Greek word, in the original language of the book of James, for humility means "the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one's self-importance".  


Here's the quote:

"In my woundedness and in my flesh, I delude myself into thinking that harshness and severity are worth it if another person is fortunate enough to gain my superior perspective.  


The gentleness that is linked to wisdom in this context means living out of the knowledge that I am not the priority here."

This is a particularly hard word for me.  My personality is prone to telling you a couple of times, with kindness and gentleness, how things should be.  And then if you're not smart enough to see it my way after that, I lose patience.  I lose mercy.  I lose humility.

And God gently, with mercy, keeps reminding me - it's not about me.  

And even more than that - I am not always right.  I always think I'm right.  We all do.  If we knew we were wrong, we'd change, right?

I'm learning - slowly, and sometimes with much faltering, that I need to be quiet more often.  And when I do feel prompted to speak, to speak gently, with humility, with love.  And if they don't change, if they won't see things my way, I can still speak gently, with humility, with love.  Because it's not about me.  

It's about God.  Change in any of us is between Him and the individual in need of change.  

So, I can let it go.

I'm not God - and aren't we all very, very, happy about that?  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Remember to Not Forget

I have a friend that chides me for telling my kids, "Don't forget...such-and-so."  She says I should use the positive statement - "Remember...such-and-so."  That speaking in the positive will encourage them and make them more likely to actually remember.  I see her point, and I do try to do that often, but as I read Deuteronomy, I see God using both with great frequency.  

"Remember" and "Do not forget".  

God says this over, and over, and over again throughout the book.  Remember - do not forget. 

Why do you think that is?

I think it's because we are prone to forgetting - prone to not remember.  And because God values remembering.  Not forgetting what He's done for us - what He's brought us through - where He's taking us - the blessings He's given - the disasters He has either saved us from, or helped us through.  He wants us to remember.

The engagement and wedding of our daughter to the only man she's ever loved has been an emotional roller coaster ride for me.  I think because, in part, it has caused me to remember.  To not forget...

When they are babies and we aren't sleeping, we are prone to forget that we are called to this ministry of parenting.

When they are in their terrible twos and only-precious-when-they-sleep threes, we do not remember that what we pour into them matters.

When they are 8 and 9 and the weirdest little creatures to grace the planet, we forget that they have a calling and we are helping to shape that calling.

When they are 11 and 12 and independence is beginning to assert itself, we do not remember that God loves us (while still disciplining) through our own tantrums and we need to model that for them.

When they are 15 and 16, we forget everything -- just everything.

But every once in a while, God blesses us with milestones.  Birthdays, father-daughter dances, graduations, recitals, simple graces (like watching a 3-year-old sleep), great successes, (or sometimes, colossal failures), celebrations.  He slows us down and reminds us of what matters.  This engagement and wedding has been that for me.  

Going through the process of engagement and wedding planning with Erin and Jeff has had a profound impact on me, bringing so many things into perspective.  Watching the two of them beginning to make grown up decisions:  planning their future, marriage counseling, financial planning, work choices, finding a home, and the list goes on and on.  I've been so proud of them.  

Obviously we've know Erin her whole life, and we've known Jeff since he was 13 years old.  We've watched them together from goofy teenagers, to young adults, to now, married.  The journey has been at times trying and frustrating, we've all had joy and tears along the way  There were times that we forgot - we did not remember God's purposes in this journey.  Other times, He would remind us, and we would continue on.  It's been a good journey.

The thing I've thought on over and over, as we've been planning, is how many people are truly a part of who they are today - so many people that God placed in our lives to shape us - to shape them.  

There were a lot of people at the wedding celebration.  I was just in awe as I walked through the groups of people - stopping to hug, love, and visit with people that came to celebrate with us.  People that influenced their childhood - babysitting, loving, playing.  People that influenced their adolescence - teaching, praying, friendships.  People that influenced their teen years - mentors, friends, teachers.  People that influenced them indirectly by investing in the lives of Brian and I, of Jim and Mindy, to help us in being better parents, better teachers, better people.  So many memories, so much impact, so much love.  We are not in this game alone. 

It was truly humbling to me.  As I looked into so many faces and thought about the impact they had in the lives of our children - their part in the journey to where they stand today - I was humbled at how big our God is and how many He uses to work out His plan.  

The friends that stepped up to help us make this a fairy tale wedding for our princess and her prince have been amazing.  They planned, created, held accountable, glued, cut, hung, stitched, loaned, gave,  prayed, laughed, cried, cooked, served, sang, spoke, took pictures, fixed hair, ironed table cloths, carried chairs and tables, they stood up with Erin and kept her laughing through the stressful moments, stood up with Jeff (and did whatever boys do - I'm not exactly sure what that is...), got up early, stayed up late.  They gave their talents, their skills, their time, their love.  We weren't changing the world - we weren't changing history, exactly.  But we were stopping to celebrate - to remember.

 It appears to me that celebrations were important in scripture - God called His people to times of great celebration - and these people, these friends, wanted to help create a day to celebrate what God had done and it was beautiful.  They went far and above the call of duty - the call of friendship.  They were - they are - family.  

And I am grateful.  I am blessed.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm a Little Teapot

"I'm a little teapot, 
short and stout,
here is my handle,
here is my spout.

When I get all steamed up,
here me shout.
Just tip me over,
and pour me out."

Here's just some of what's pouring out right now:

All my kids are home.

1. Content.  I love that we are all sleeping under the same roof again for at least this one week.  Luke is home for the summer.  Erin has moved out of her Ada house and is staying here until the wedding.  So for one glorious week, I have all my little chicks home again.

2.  Exhausted.  In #1, I mentioned "sleeping under the same roof".  I have to use this term loosely.  Teenagers and young adults, especially when all together for the first time in a while, do not sleep much.  The noise level is much higher; the boys pick on their sister as if it is their last day alive and their last chance to do so; and they tend to throw themselves over the foot of my bed just about the time I'm fading from consciousness and want to talk about their days.  This is not a complaint - I love all of this - but I'm old - and exhausted. :)

My daughter is getting married Saturday.

3.  Thrilled.  We love our daughter.  We love this young man.    We are excited to celebrate with them and create a day they will hopefully remember with joy for the rest of their lives.

4.  Overwhelmed.  I'm not a planner.  I'm not creative.  I'm not a people-person.  All of these things are helpful when planning a party for 200+ people.  So -- I'm overwhelmed.

5.  Melancholy.  Everything changes after Saturday.  I know it's a good change.  I'm watching my baby girl morph into a wife and it's a little freaky.   I know I'll adapt and love all of it.  But change brings out the melancholy in this girl.

6.  Grateful.  So many have come alongside me to help me through this season.  I cannot say enough and will likely devote a post to them at some point when I have more time to process.  But for now, I am forever grateful for good friends.  Friends that are planners, creative, energy-filled, encouraging.  -- Everything that I am not, and all that I need right now.

I'm sure there's more, but the little steam-whistle on my "to-do-list teapot" is screaming at me, so I'm off.