Archives for 2012

Don’t Say Wow

christmasI was in what my husband not-so-affectionately refers to as “the zone.” The cleaning “zone”, to be exact. I’m sure you are well acquainted with how it is when you only have a couple hours to get as much of the house clean as you possibly can and are absolutely determined to actually get to the bathroom floors this time. You know, since several weeks of nothing more than a quick Swiffer job here and there have left you wondering what unseemly creatures a swab test might reveal.

Amazing housekeepers like ourselves should never have to fear a swab test. Never. Ha!

So, the cleaning frenzy was in full force. My beloved cleaning products were ready to go (anyone else out there have a strange affection for cleaning products?), my “bleach clothes” were on, my favorite Pandora station was playing, and my determination to evict whatever non-humans had taken up residence in the tiny little crevices of my bathroom was at an all-time high.

Oh, and did I mention that my three-year-old was home? Sort of kills the mood, doesn’t it?

He was home, and he was bored. I was already feeling guilty for letting him watch too much TV that morning, so I had turned it off. Turning off the TV makes me feel like a really good mom. It also makes me feel like pulling my hair out, especially when I’m in “the zone.” That day I chose to lose some hair and I like to believe it significantly improved my son’s chances of getting into a really good college and making a positive difference in the world.  Two more episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse surely would have ruined him forever. But I digress . . .

After several failed attempts at getting me to play trucks, Shep found a balloon and started hitting it around the house. When you only have one child, a toy or activity that truly captivates their attention and DOESN’T require your involvement is a rare find. The balloon did just that  . . . for about 10 minutes. Then, he decided he wanted to show off his amazing balloon hitting skills. He came into the room I was cleaning and said, “Mommy, look!” Then, he hit the balloon. My response: a half-hearted, “Wow buddy, that’s great.”

Again, “Mommy, look!” And again, “Wow, that’s really neat. You’re good at hitting that.”

Several more times . . . “Mommy, look!”

Each time, my response was the same half-hearted “wow.”   After the second or third hit, I said it without even looking at him or his balloon. I was in “the zone,” remember? I didn’t have time for such things.

Then, it happened. That moment when your child says something so simple, yet so profound . . . mere words that shoot like little daggers straight into the depths of your soul and cut right through your upside-down priorities and selfish intentions. Words that make you pause, put down the spray bottle, hug your little boy, and marvel at how a three year old with a balloon can reveal so much about your own heart.

After several, “Mommy, look!” comments, followed by my half-hearted, distracted “wow” responses, Shep walked up to me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Mommy, don’t say wow.”

What?! Don’t say wow?

At first, I was a little puzzled. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with saying “wow.” In fact, it is generally a welcomed response. How did my son not know this?

Then it hit me. It’s not that he didn’t want my “wow.” He just didn’t want my fake “wow.” He wanted me to stop what I was doing, look at him, and genuinely delight in his balloon hitting skills. He didn’t want my half-hearted affirmation. He wanted my whole-hearted attention.

In that moment, with a Swiffer duster in one hand and a can of Pledge in the other, I thought of how many times I do the same thing to God. While I know full well that God is nothing like my three year old, I have to admit that He often comes to me with the same message: Don’t say wow.

Don’t just go through the motions. Don’t merely pretend to care. Don’t fake affection.

Don’t settle for “devotions” that are void of any true devotion or praise that is empty of any real passion.

In Isaiah 29:13, God says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

In other words, they said “wow,” but they felt no wonder.  They were all duty with no delight.

I don’t want to be like that. Especially not now. Not at Christmas. Not when I’m celebrating the marvelous, miraculous incarnation of my Savior, without which I would be utterly lost in my sins and destined for an eternity in hell. If there’s ever a time to say “wow” and really mean it, it’s now!

As we rush through all the last minute preparations for Christmas, let’s make sure we don’t rush past the Person of Christmas.

Stop. Breathe. Read. Pray. Marinate.

As you do, hear the Lord’s sweet whisper . . .

Don’t [just]  say wow.

 

 

 

 

 

Processing this Tragedy

I wanted to take a minute and share a few articles that have really helped me process the horror of yesterday’s shooting. I never cease to be amazed at the sufficiency of Scripture in the face of unimaginable tragedy. Does God’s Word offer a complete answer to why God allowed this to happen? No. God’s ways are often unsearchable. This is one of those times.

But God is by no means silent. He has communicated volumes about evil and sin and justice. He has revealed His sovereignty, wisdom, and infinite love.

And where the pages of our Bibles might seem to fall short of offering all the answers our hearts crave, the Word-made-flesh speaks a clear message of hope and life and rescue from this sin-torn world.

That’s why I like these articles –  they reminded me of that. I pray they do the same for you.

Jen Wilkin, A Day for Hatred

Al Mohler, Rachel Weeping for her Children – the Massacre in Connecticut

Russell Moore, School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare

John Piper, How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?

David Platt, The Gospel in Newtown (this is a long one, but worth the read)

Prepare Him Room

I suppose most people are a bit more organized and intentional with their Christmas decorating than I am. While I have some decorations that go in the exact same place every single year, I have others that I never know where to place, mainly because there really isn’t space for them in my home. Things like the snowman statue that looked really cute in the store, but rather large when I actually got him home. Or the pair of gold reindeer that I just knew would look amazing in my house, but take up way more shelf space than I have. And last but not least . . . the silk poinsettia plants that I feel compelled to buy more and more of every year, as if the 15 or so from the last few years aren’t enough for a relatively modest 2000 square foot home. (Nate Berkus would be SO disappointed in me!)

In order to find a home for these decorations that I have no space for (but can’t bring myself to get rid of), I wander around my house, placing and re-placing them until I finally find the “perfect” spot.  Then I move the items several MORE times before returning them to the “perfect” spot, just in case there is an even more perfect spot that I haven’t yet discovered. Which, by the way, doesn’t exist.  Every home only has a certain number of “perfect” spots and to try to find or create more is a waste of time. But somehow I forget this when I’m in the middle of Home Goods and the adorable Santa cookie jar is begging to take a ride in my cart.

Because there’s only so much space in my house, Christmas decorating requires rearranging, moving things around, and preparing room. I can’t just take the stuff out of the bins, throw it up in the air, and expect it to land in all those “perfect” spots. Wouldn’t THAT be nice?!

What is true of my home at Christmas is also true of our hearts. Keeping Christ in Christmas WILL NOT HAPPEN unless we do some rearranging of our lives, moving things around, and preparing room. December is too busy. The calendar is too full. There are too many parties to attend. Too many cookies to bake. Too many cards to address.  Too many gifts to buy. Too many people to visit. Too many needs to meet. I doubt I’m the only one who feels like she’s barely holding it together . . . and we’re only 5 days into December!

Our hearts are much like our homes in that there are only so many “perfect” spots. If we fail to fill them with Jesus FIRST, all that other stuff will crowd Him out. We’ll have the tree, the lights, the peppermint mochas, the special cookies, the presents, and the sweet family memories, but we won’t have the one thing that really matters . . . an undivided, worshipping heart for that baby in the manger, who happens to be the one and only Rescuer of our sin-soaked souls.  And if we don’t have an undivided, worshipping heart for Jesus, we really don’t have Christmas.

If you want to join me in committing to “prepare Him room” this Christmas season, I have a great resource to recommend. Desiring God Ministries has made a free e-book Advent devotional available and it’s really, really good. We’re only a few days in, so it’s NOT too late to start! It’s the perfect tool for “marinating” in the rich, life-changing truths of God’s Word in this over-the-top-crazy Christmas season. It’s available in a few different file types, so you can view it on any computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Click here to download it. Seriously. Do it. You need this!

Because here’s the thing – Christmas doesn’t really start until Jesus is FIRST in our hearts. And as long as our Bibles remain neglected, that simply cannot happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love is Not Irritable

In celebration of an incredible “launch” of the First Corinthians study, and due to the fact that I still haven’t quite gotten back into my blogging groove since it ended (i.e., all I’ve felt like doing with my free time for the past week is watching Gilmore Girls) , I thought I’d post one last excerpt from the study. Enjoy!

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

 

For each characteristic of love given, our response needs to be, “Am I . . . . ?”

Am I patient? Am I kind? Am I free from jealousy, bragging, and arrogance? Am I rude? Am I self-seeking? Am I easily provoked? Do I keep a mental record of the wrongs done to me? Am I more prone to rejoice in unrighteousness or in the truth?

Our individual answers are a BIG deal. Remember, apart from love, we are nothing (v. 2).

NO-THING!

This is serious stuff.

Because I can only speak for myself, I want to address the quality of love that needs the most work in my own life: love . . . is not provoked (“easily angered”, NIV). I don’t have “anger issues” in that I don’t scream and yell, punch walls, break things, or emotionally explode when things don’t go my way. But as I was studying the word translated “easily provoked” I came across the word “irritable.” Ding, ding, ding! That’s me. That’s my struggle.

Irritability, which I define as the tendency to be easily annoyed or frustrated, is something I fight every day. Since having my son 3 years ago, the battle has gotten even more intense. Unfortunately, I didn’t birth a perfect child, nor am I a perfect mother. He doesn’t always listen. He gets into stuff he shouldn’t. He usually can’t tell the difference between a washable marker and a permanent one. He doesn’t always want to nap (usually on days when I need a break the most). He messes up my house as fast as I can clean it. He asks “why” 5,789 times a day. He has no appreciation for sleeping in. After months of peeing on the potty, he still insists on going “number two” in his underwear. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Kids pretty much guarantee that a mom’s day isn’t going to go quite like she planned. There will be interruptions, messes, boo boos, tears, time outs, and human waste to clean off of who- knows-what. Some moms are great at tackling that stuff with optimism and grace.

Not me.

I am irritable.

As the small annoyances multiply, the tone of my voice starts to change. The force with which I close doors, drawers, and cabinets gets a little more intense.  When my husband calls to check in, I get less and less chatty. I soon become totally incapable of seeing good qualities in my family members and I get more and more critical. The next inconvenience that comes my way is usually met with complete insensitivity to the needs of others. It’s a downhill spiral that will end with me yelling and screaming if I let it continue. My irritability forces my family to walk on eggshells. It communicates to my child things I would never, ever say to his face. Things like “you are an inconvenience”, “you don’t do anything right”, “you are in my way”, or “I would be better off if you weren’t here right now.” Just typing those statements makes me sick to my stomach, because they are the complete opposite of what I want to communicate to my precious little man.

Irritability, while not as obvious as anger, is no less sinful. And left unchecked, it is no less damaging. It is contrary to love which our passage describes as slow to get riled up, frustrated, upset, or testy . . .  even when things don’t go as planned. When love rules our hearts, no one walks on egg shells. Doors aren’t slammed harder than usual. Words don’t get short and snappy. When love rules our hearts, inconveniences are seen as opportunities. Frustrations are met with self-control. Annoyances are graciously overlooked. Offenses are forgiven. The needs of others are put first.

Love is not irritable. How about you?

 

{Copies of the 1 Corinthians Bible study workbook, Becoming a Woman of Conviction in a World of Compromise, can be purchased here. The teaching sessions that go along with the study can be viewed here.}

More Than Meets the Eye {Oh, and I’ve Missed You!!!}

Because some things are much, much more than meets the eye . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.  – The past couple months of teaching through 1 Corinthians have been incredible, but I’ve missed you a WHOLE LOT and can’t wait to get back to blogging next week!!!

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