It’s Not About Me

granddaughters[1]

Once we as women experience a pregnancy, we get a true picture of what it means for our bodies to not be our own. We feel that little life (or lives) moving inside and we realize it is no longer about us. We may feel sick from certain smells that never bothered us before pregnancy, we also may crave certain foods for no apparent reason. We are no longer in charge and often don’t even understand the changes taking place in our own bodies. This is just the beginning.

Romans 12:1 says “Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

As a mother of young children your body is a living sacrifice. You are no longer your own. You get up in the morning, change diapers, breastfeed, have meals, tend to chores (when able) and meet others’ needs all day long according to their schedule, not your own. A loving mother sacrifices her own wants and needs for her family.

I can still remember thinking when our four children were small that I would never feel rested again.

I couldn’t imagine getting enough rest. Yet, God convicted me with the truth of the above scripture one day at our home group. The home group leader, Phil, asked us to think about what in our lives were hindrances to worship. The immediate response that came to my mind was “my children”! Then I felt shame.

These children were gifts from God!

Why did I see them as a hindrance? Because I did not see my service to them as significant in God’s eyes. I thought a “ministry” was more important. Yet, the Lord showed me those children were my ministry at that time. NOTHING was more important. Offering my body as a living sacrifice WAS an act of worship – one very pleasing to our Lord.

As we contemplate this Easter weekend the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross, let us embrace the sacrifices we make as mothers  – moment by moment, day by day.

Jesus is our example – He laid down His life.

As His follower, I must present myself a living sacrifice and recognize it as an act of worship.

…. with love and thankfulness for the redemption of Jesus’ resurrection – have a blessed Resurrection Day!

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Why? – again.

"Why is Jackson Simmons so tall?"

“Why is Jackson Simmons so tall?”

We had visitors this weekend – the Hardy boys. There was a recurring theme throughout the visit.

“Why?”

I looked back in the archives and found this post from April, 2012.

“Why?”

At that time, the oldest Hardy boy was 3 – now the youngest is almost 3, and the twins are 4. When they were questioning their mother about directions she had given them – like “it’s time to get ready for bed” or “eat the rest of your beans before you get more grapes” she kept reminding them that she was their mother – they needed to obey.

Even thought their mother is very attentive to their questions about why things work, or why animals do certain things, or why it is important to be careful around other people’s dogs, etc. – she wants the boys to obey her even when they don’t understand “why?”.

Their mother wants them to TRUST her because she loves them and has their best interest at heart. She is asking them to obey for their own good.

Isn’t that what God requires of us? We don’t always understand what God is allowing to happen in our lives. We want to ask “why?” and perhaps we do ask “why?” – but we may not get an answer.

Just like an earthly parent – God wants us to TRUST Him because He loves us and has our best interest at heart. God is asking us to obey for our own good.

The earlier post went on to say –

“The 3-year-old is in that stage of asking “Why?” in response to all requests, comments, and random statements. At first, it is engaging to answer the “whys” of life. “Why?” do we wear socks with shoes? To prevent blisters. “Why?” is it nap time? This question has various answers – it is time, you are tired, mom is tired, or any other response deemed appropriate at the time. “Why?” when told to stay in his bed, because there is not room in the crib with your twin brothers.

After answering hundreds of questions, Nana does get tired of thinking about the answers to the meaning of life and all it involves. Yet, as a teacher, I know that these questions and answers are important and will form the basis of our grandson’s world view. Recent research in brain development shows that at around three years old there is a great growth in synapses in the brain, and that if they are not used during this formative time, those synapses are pruned. Just as a gardener prunes off useless branches, God has fashioned our brain to do likewise.

God does not always answer us right away. God is not governed by our time-table or our sense of “needing to know”. In fact, He says in I Corinthians 13: 8-13

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

God lets us know that while we are part of this human experience, we will not understand everything. (see italicized above) We do have the hope of coming into full knowledge when we are face to face with God.

What an awesome expectation!

So, until then, I will continue answering some of my grandchildren’s questions. I will also endeavor to share with them that sometimes there is no answer for “why?”. We must learn to TRUST with patience and love…..for the greatest of these is love.

If They Only Knew…..

Beautiful Daughters

Beautiful Daughters

“If they only knew what I know about her.”

I had the priviledge of speaking at a Women’s Retreat this past weekend. It was such a special time of worship and fellowship with a group of wonderful ladies. I was particularly thankful that our three daughters were able to attend.

I realized that they – of all people – would know if I was speaking the truth about my personal walk with the Lord. These daughters have seen me at my very worst – for instance when I threw the money on the floor that I had been hiding for a family get-away. (the complete story on that is for another time – another post).

They have seen me when I am tired, grumpy, and just plain dangling from my last nerve – all before lunch! 🙂

It was good to have them with us for the weekend for the very reason that I could not fake it – they would know, and also let ME know. Their mere presence keeps me humble because of comments like:

  • What’s with that skirt? Did you make it?
  • Did you cut your hair yourself again?
  • There is lipstick on your teeth.

They love to tease me and I know part of it is pay back for the one and only time I locked the back door after I had mopped the kitchen so that they couldn’t come in the house until the floor was dry. They have NEVER forgotten that!

Seriously, they were each very supportive and encouraging and I could sense their prayers for me.

It did make me think about the fact that we cannot “puff up” our stories or act as if we “have it all together” when our family is present and knows us – warts and all.

I shared from Luke 7 during the 1st session and in verse 39, Simon, a Pharisee, thinks to himself – “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of a woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

In other words – “If they only knew…”

Simon is referring to Jesus and Jesus responds to Simon as if he had spoken aloud.

That’s scary!

Jesus calls Simon out in front of all the guests. He is requiring Simon to “keep it real”.

My daughters could have thought – “If they only knew…”,

By God’s grace they knew what I shared was real and that it was from my heart. So much of what I have learned on my journey as a Christian I have learned by being a mother. Honestly, I have learned many spiritual lessons from our son and three daughters. They have kept me seeking wisdom from God’s Word as well as from mature Christians who I respect.

I continue to learn from them.

We all need to have a humble and respectful attitude toward one another in the Body of Christ.

In Romans 12:3, 4 Paul gives us a warning –

3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Let’s live so that “if they only knew…”

they would know God’s grace.

 

 

Building Foundations

Amos building

I have had the blessing of having our twin grandsons – aged 4  – the past few days at our house. I got some Lincoln Logs down from the attic yesterday and we have been building cabins for each of the boys and for various Little People.

I like to build. I like to have all the pieces fit and the roof stay on even when “people” are going in and out. I also like the various shades of these old Lincoln Logs to match.

I know, that is way over the top! The boys could care less about the log color – but I did find out they care about the roof color!

We used all the longer log sections and ended up with four buildings and a “stable” for the horses.  There were bunches of singlets left. You know – those log pieces with just one slot. These are important for building windows and doors, but our Lincoln Logs are parts of three yard sale sets and there are LOTS of singlets.

One of the boys tried to build these little logs into towers – but the most he could stack that would stay up independently were three. There was not enough of a foundation to hold any more logs.

Tyler building

Relationships are like building with Lincoln Logs. You need a good foundation to have a secure structure –  a structure that will withstand the pressure of use.

The time to start building the secure foundation in a relationship begins with the birth of a child.

Some parents and grandparents think that they will have plenty of time to build that relationship when the child is older and ready to;

  • really communicate
  • spend time doing the things the adult enjoys
  • is able to take care of their own physical needs

in other words – ceases being a child!

That will be TOO LATE.

Children will build the foundation of meaningful relationships with others if the parents don’t take the time to do so. I have heard many adults lament the fact that their children or grandchildren never want to spend time with them as teenagers or young adults.

Did those adults spend time building the foundation of a good relationship early on when the child was young?

Children will go through times of rebellion.

It is natural for children to pull away from the adults in their lives as they grow older. Yet if there is a strong foundation  – a bridge of respect will allow the child and the parent or grandparent to bear the weight of that challenge to the relationship.

I heard this Scripture shared yesterday as a key to building respectful relationships with our children.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 (NIV)

10 You are witnesses, and so is God,  of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Those three words from verse 12 hold a key to building a secure foundation in our relationships with our children and grandchildren.

  • encouraging
  • comforting
  • and urging them to live lives worthy of God

Notice it does not say –

  • nagging
  • criticizing
  • listing the child’s mistakes

May we all take the time and effort needed – with God’s grace – to build those strong foundations based on the LOVE and GRACE that our Heavenly Father has so lavishly shared with us!

 

 

It’s All Who You Know

Who do I know/

Who do I know?

There was a LONG line outside the White House. It was so long that it snaked around the block farther than I could see. My father walked up to the gate and showed the official our passes.

“Go right in, Mr. Barker. Your guide is waiting for you.”

We went through the gate and met our guide for our special tour of the White House in Washington, DC. It was 1962, I was 11 years old and I still remember the impression it made on me to pass right in front of that long line, right on into the White House.

It‘s all who you know.

Our congressman, Elmer J. Hoffman, lived right across the street from us in Wheaton, Illinois where I grew up. He told my parents that if we ever visited Washington, DC to let him know. He could get us “Congressional passes” into the historic buildings with tours that allowed us to see more than the standard tour. These tours were all free, but there were long lines if you did not have a pass. My father figured we should take advantage of this generous offer – you never knew what might happen after an election!

It’s all who you know.

We sometimes try to apply this to our spiritual lives. We want to tell God that we deserve His favor because –

  • my grandmother was such a wonderful Christian
  • my father was a deacon in our church
  • my Sunday School teacher was Billy Graham’s wife
  • I’ve attended 5 Beth Moore Bible studies
  • I knew Third Day before they made it big
  • I’ve read all John Piper’s (Frances Chan’s , John McArthur’s, Francine River’s, C.S. Lewis’) books

We think it’s all about who we know.

It is.

But not the way our culture means it.
There is ONLY one we need to know – the One and Only. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords.
Jesus.
Acts 4: 10-12
10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is ”the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Jesus is the One we need to know.

Are we concerned about knowing the “right” people? Do we want our children and grandchildren to know the “right people”?
Paul was an accomplished man who had every reason to pride himself in who he knew. He was a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin and had many impressive credentials.

Yet Paul makes it very plain – it was all MEANINGLESS compared to knowing Jesus.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

It is all who you know.

It’s all about Jesus.