Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Value of a Dirty Diaper

I was reading an article in Newsweek about these supermodels who had committed suicide. (Totally random, I know) There is a quote that I thought was very interesting by a sociologist, Emile Durkheim. She said that suicides occur at civilization breaks, when the parents have no traditions, no value systems to pass on to their children. Thus there is no deep-lying ideology to support them when they are under emotional stress.

I didn't really want to bring up suicide, it's not really the point I am trying to make but I just want to say for the record I realize that a number of factors come into play when a person commits suicide. I bring this up because yesterday morning was one of the worst I've had in a long time in the way of parenting. Let me back up and say I have three wonderful children, who I love more then my own breath.
A five year old daughter, Lydia.

A two year old boy, Alex.

A 10 month old boy, Bret.

I also babysit a 2 year old 12 hours a day. It's not so much that they were misbehaving or anything like that, it's just that... Well I have been literally up to my eyeballs in poop. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty tough when it comes to diaper changes. I've had  plenty of bad experiences in the dirty diaper department over the last 6 years but never anything this bad. So, as I'm literally wiping poo off the floor I began to think, "Is this really my life?" Any moment I expected to wake up to Morpheus asking me if I wanted the blue pill or the red pill, that I could choose to go back to a "normal" way of life. (For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about click the Matrix ) I prayed "God, surely this is not Your plan. Surely there is something far more grand you had intended for my life." A bit melodramatic, I know but after countless dirty diaper changes in such a small period of time, you'd be asking "Why me?" too. Then I came across this article. It hit me, all these diaper changes, all the meals, all the baths, all the mopping up of bodily all has meaning. There is purpose in all of it. OK so maybe there isn't really any "deeper" meaning in diaper changes. But loving them through it all, teaching them, leading by example, instilling values in their lives, that gives meaning to my life. I some times wonder if Father God doesn't ever get tired of mopping up my "poo". Does He ever tire of my endless whining and complaining like I sometimes do of my children? I don't think so. For one thing He's way more patient then I am but I believe He is patient because He can see the big picture all the time. I can (normally) be patient while potty training because I know eventually there will be no more accidents and I'll no longer have to change a diaper. Father looks at me and He thinks I'm worth the investment. He's given me value. It's the value He's placed in all of us that I have to teach my kids. This deep knowing that they are loved no matter what happens and they can fall into His loving arms at any time. This is what my job is so that when things in life get tough they have a "deep-lying ideology to support them when they are under emotional stress," so they have something to fall back on when things get tough.

Romans 5:1-5 MSG
1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
 3-5There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where you're planted you'll grow.

So my friend was over and we were talking about our gardens. She says her and her mom bought some plants at  the same time. She put hers in a pot and her mom put hers in the ground and now her mom's is already bearing fruit. My friend's plants look the same. Her mom's not using any fertilizer and she in fact waters her plants far less, just letting the rain do all the work. What's the difference between being planted in a pot and being planted in the ground? Between tap water and water from heaven? Wow so many metaphors could be applied. Being isolated or living in a community. Being planted in the Word or just being aware of it's existence. The fact that God knew what He was doing when He created plants and soil and rain water and the way they all work together. I guess what strikes me the most about this, is the plants in the ground are bearing fruit. The ones in the pot are OK. They're not dead. They're perfectly fine in the way of appearance but they are not bearing any fruit. On our own we'd probably be OK. We could go about our daily lives, work, play, sleep, work, play sleep, but will our lives bear any fruit? Based on my personal experience, I've tried living life on my own, not letting anyone in. I had my pot. I was "fine". I liked the way I looked and kept people at a distance. You could only come so close, but try coming into my pot and I started getting uncomfortable. Now I'm planted in God, in His Word, in my church, in a community of believers, in my family, and I can say my life is starting to bear fruit. My children, my relationships, I see fruit where there was none before. In many ways I made the choices to be planted. I surrendered myself over to His loving purposes but the awesome thing is, when you do that, the water from heave rains down and nurtures your soul in ways the artificial things in life never can. You may feel satisfied in the things this world has to offer but trust me, you won't bear much fruit.

 Psalm 1:1-3
1 Blessed is the one
   who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
   or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
   and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
   which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
   whatever they do prospers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stripped or Whitewashed

I have this really awesome wooden cart that I keep my herb garden on. It's been moved several times and beaten up by our crazy Oklahoma weather. It's got a lot of sentimental value so I don't want to just get rid of it, but it's been kind of an eye sore. I decided that I would strip the stain off and paint it. Along with this wood cart I also have a wooden rocking chair. It really needed a good paint job as well.

This morning I decided to take advantage of the cloudy skies and work on these pieces while it was cool. I decided that the chair really wasn't worth the effort of stripping the old paint off. My plan was to just paint over the chips and dirt with a couple coats of white paint and it would be good as new. I'm not the most detailed person in the world and I'm for sure not a perfectionist. I have 4 small children I have to take care of and what's the big deal? After all it's going to be outside and if it starts chipping, well I'll just paint it goes my thought process. The cart, on the other hand was a little bit more important to me so I really wanted to take the time and do the job right. As I was painting the chair I began to think about the way God handles His children. He really does take the extra time to do the job right. Some of us have been beaten down by this world, battered by our circumstances. We've been chipped away at by people, by our own mistakes. Some look a lot like my old battered cart. They do not know the love of a Father who shelters, and protects them. Some come to know Father after they've been worn down and are in disrepair. But God is so faithful with us. He takes the time, the consideration, the effort to strip away all the things that come between us and Him. He loving removes layer after layer of our tough outer exterior. This process can take years but He's not daunted by the task. He never considers putting it off til later. He strips us and covers us in His mercy. He washes us in His righteousness and makes us like new.....
I was rejoicing in these thoughts as I'm halfheartedly slapping white paint on my rocking chair. Interesting how some try to do the same to themselves. Our natural inclination seems to be to cover ourselves up. We try to hide ourselves under a white washed idea of what everyone wants us to be. Of what religion and doctrine tell us to be. We paste fake smiles on and tell everyone we're fine. But the truth is we're like my chair. You see after I painted my chair a friend stopped by to pick up something and I got distracted. I left my chair in the middle of my yard, which would have been fine had it not rained. Poured. Down. Rain. I spent 2 solid hours painting this chair and after the rain. It looked exactly the way it did when I started. Filthy and chipped. The layers of white paint didn't change the chair one bit.
I'm so thankful for a Master Craftsman. He sees our potential. He sees us shiny and new. No matter how we try to hide under our layers, He sees and He loves.

Ephesians 3:14
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

Dandelion Wisdom

We just moved to a new house and I decided I had better start working on the backyard. It's full of these huge, ugly weeds. They have thorns and are really difficult to pull up.
As I'm huffing and puffing and yanking and tugging I began to consider what it must be like for Father God trying to yank weeds out of my own heart. "Let it be easier then this Lord," I prayed. I realized that the weeds in our life are very similar to the weeds in my yard. Some were small, easy to pull out. Some were clustered together like they were clinging to each other. In one corner all the grass had been chocked out and only big ugly dandelions remained. I know there are things in my life that need adjusting and changed. My heart is still full of weeds. That's OK, weeds happen. I pray my heart will be fertile soil and the weeds don't take root. I'm so thankful for the Master Gardener. He's so gentle.

He has a beautiful vision of what His garden can be. He doesn't see the messy weeds, the dry and brittle grass, or even the poison ivy. He sees the flowers, the fruit, the peaceful fountain. He tends my heart with a kind, knowing hand. The pruning sometimes hurts but I trust He knows what He's doing, that He sees the bigger picture, and only wants the best for me.
All this runs through my mind as I'm sweating and laboring away. After a while I tire and give up until another day. How glad I am that He never gives up, He never tires of tending for the ones He loves.

Mark 4:
16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”