Thursday, March 16, 2017

It's Not You, It's Me

I so often have a hard time enjoying my children.  "Often" as in, pretty much daily.  

I love my children, and literally for as long as I can remember I have looked forward to being a mama.  I practiced on my little brother from the time I was five.  Then I was everybody's favorite and most reliable babysitter (if I do say so myself...).  Then I had "favorite little kids" that I would invest myself in as a young adult.  I've always loved children.  

So it is with a bewildered heart that I find myself, over and over again, feeling put out and put upon, annoyed, overwhelmed, distracted, frustrated, like my plans are being held up because of my children.  I have my own agenda, and over and over again, because of them, I feel foiled again!    

These are real feelings.  

Regularly, I see Facebook posts from friends who seem to just adore everything about being mamas, getting Warm Fuzzies all the time as they look at and interact with their children.  These girls all just seem to embody "mother" in all the best ways.  To lay their lives down for the sakes of their children is one of their greatest joys.  

And I'm over here like, "What is this?  Why don't my kids get it that they're supposed to be perfect already?  I want to love being their mama, but they're messing it up for me!"  

Remember, I love my children.  But these are ugly, real feelings.  

Talk about my own worst enemy.  

I am so, so selfish.  And I wrestle with my own selfishness all the time, because when I go ahead and get around to acknowledging it's there and a Big Problem, I still just want things my way.  I'm having an argument in my head between the proverbial angel and demon, all the while knowing the right thing to do, and just stubbornly sticking with the demon.  

I remember almost eight years ago, a pastor praying prophetically over Andy and me, assuring us both that these (yet unborn) kids of ours would follow the Lord all the days of their lives--but that it would NOT be easy--we could not just sit back and say "we got a word from the Lord (about this)"--it would be HARD WORK training our children in the paths of righteousness.  

It IS hard work.  But I have always thought of it as hard physical work, directed toward shaping my children.  

It didn't occur to me that the hardest work might be primarily spiritual, and primarily within myself.  

Sanctification is Hard Work.  But if I don't deal with myself more than anybody else, I'm not only a hypocrite who doesn't actually grasp unconditional love and grace--but my kids know it.  They are perceptive little buggers.  

"Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you." James 4:8b-10

"Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me, and know my thoughts!  See if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"  Psalm 139:23-24

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."  Ezekiel 36:25-26

Oh, and there's a happy paradox: it is through all the (genuine, heart-wrenching) wretchedness that Undivided Joy is born.  

I am (very, very slowly) learning.  Jesus, bring me from head knowledge to a heart of flesh.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Morning Promises

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things
Out of the dust...
Out of us.

Father, when things happen like Andy's preaching last Sunday, when he gushed about how wonderful I am and that he still has so much to learn even after ten years of knowing me and that he's excited about that--when that sort of thing happens

it is a good feeling
of assurance

but it also makes me feel so undeserving of that praise.  I know how cruddy I can be.  I know how

grumpy
lazy
disillusioned and disappointed
bitter

I can be on the inside, and I know a lot of it leaks out.  

I get frustrated and overwhelmed, impatient and irritated, sad, full of pity for myself, fed up with serving ungrateful people, selfish.  I am tired.  

And yet that is me without You.

The You in me
is different.

The You in me
can look at the bigger picture 
and appreciate the story
at least trust that 
You always write good stories.
The You in me
sees the poetry in life.

Through You I am 
more than a conqueror
Through You I can
scale a wall
Through You I am 
a new creation
Through You I can 
do all things
Through You I have
a heart of flesh, 
not a heart of stone
Through You I carry 
the light of life.

And it's a beautiful thing.

You always make beautiful things
Beauty out of ashes.
You rejoice over me
with singing
And because I have breath
(because You gave me breath)
I will praise the Lord!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Paradox

On March 31, I realized that I had written twice in January, thrice in February, four times in March...and I thought, "Wow! Wouldn't it be awesome if I continued that pattern all the way through December, so that by then I'd be writing basically every other day?!"  

And then I never wrote again.  C'est la vie.

I have been mentally struggling with a lot of paradoxes lately.  Things like:


I am an adult, but I feel like a child.
I am young, but I feel the aging happening.
I love quiet, but am surrounded by noise.
I want to live slowly, but I have to live hurriedly.  
I want to pare down our possessions, but we're always acquiring.
I can't help but dive into projects, but am overwhelmed by what's on my plate.
I need to be more healthy, but what's another day of bad food choices?
I desire to be content and joyful, but usually I am wanting and grumpy.  
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
This is an awful lot of "I" statements.  We can get into a lot of trouble with "I" statements.  There is nothing inherently wrong with my feeling all these things and more.  But what I choose to dwell on shapes me, and then shapes the people around me.  So yes, Lydia, go ahead and look in, take stock, process.  Then look out at the people around me (especially the little ones that are daily affected by me).  And look up.  All paradoxes have their answer in Him that is equally engaged with the stars and our cells.

"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."  Philippians 1:6 




  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Heard You That Time!

God spoke two little, wonderful things to me earlier this week.  

One evening I browsed through last season's Joyce Meyer magazine and did a double-take.  There in plain print was a typo, the wrong reference assigned to a verse: "Romans 8:35-37 says, 'The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).'"  

I thought, "No it doesn't.  That's the part of Romans that says, 'For I am convinced that neither height, nor depth, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things in heaven, nor on earth, nor below the earth--nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God...This verse about the thief and abundant life, that's John 10:10.  How'd they mix those up?"  (I do realize that what I almost-quoted is actually Romans 8:38-39, but you get the gist.)  

And then I thought--"WOW!  Seriously?!  I just recognized a SCRIPTURE REFERENCE TYPO, and not only knew the correct reference, but also the verse of the incorrect reference!  ME?!  WOW!"  And it was just so edifying.  Scripture references are not my forte, nor indeed is scripture memorization.  And my internal dialogue regarding scripture includes this attitude too often.  But guess what: it's in me more than I realize, written on my heart.  There is LOTS of room for improvement, but I am not a hopeless case, doomed to a lifetime of "I know how I underlined it, and where it is on the page...some page...probably Old Testament...about such-and-such a topic..."  Spend time in scripture.  It's worth it.  

The second God-talking-to-me thought came the next morning.  I had slept in a little, wasn't feeling great, dove right into the day, and I decided to sneak into my bedroom after putting the baby down for First Nap to have my own quiet time with Jesus.  Commence the thoughts, "You're being lazy.  You should be processing laundry, or playing with Lewis, or at least making this bed."  And I recognized those lies and decided I'd better start praying.  Out loud, so I wouldn't get distracted immediately.  

You know what that prayer turned into?  "Martha, Martha, you are distracted my many things.  But Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her."  

Jesus said that.  Martha was annoyed that her sister curled up to listen to Jesus while she was left to get dinner on the table all by herself.  But the ONE THING that is more important than anything else, even dinner for company?  Listening to Him, loving Him.  (See Luke 10 for the full story.)

And that prayer also reminded me that my spending time with Him, my prioritizing quiet time--in that God commands a blessing.  Deuteronomy 28 is a chapter full of blessings or curses that will be born out among the Israelites, and the long list of really, really good blessings hinges on "if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.…" (Dt 28:9b).  

Anybody remember the greatest commandment?  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Heart (time spent with Him) comes before strength (good stewardship of your household).  Both are important, but one is more important.  

Cheers to spiritual ears and the gift of hearing the heart of the Father.  May I ever improve!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

10 Plagues Puppets for Jesus Storybook Bible

Based on these puppets from Amazon.  But I made a few changes (plague of tigers?), and utilized my store of paper bags and construction paper instead of paying $12.  Here they are all together, and then individually.  I wanted to be able to zoom in on the puppets in the Amazon picture, and just couldn't.  So I solved my problem for you.  



First plague: water turned to blood


Second plague: frogs. Everywhere.


Third plague: gnats out of the dust


Fourth plague: swarms of flies


Fifth plague: Egyptian livestock die


Sixth plague: boils


Seventh plague: hail


Eighth plague: locusts (big ol' HUNGRY grasshoppers)


Ninth plague: utter darkness


Tenth plague: death of the firstborn

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Run in Early March

Studying the clouds, imagining the ships and transformers and running sheep, the blindfolded man smelling a pot of steamy stew.

People mucking about in the mud, itching for Spring to hurry: an old man with a ball glove, a boy and his bike trying to conquer a plywood ramp up an old snowbank, a young man with his skateboard, a group of teenagers laughing.

Shelves and kettles and micro-crevasses in the heaped-up snow, all the scars of old winter telling tales of the critters gone by.  

Honks!  Somewhere, geese are flying!  I twist my head all around, swerving over the pavement, until I see the pair overhead, circling back, looking for a free-flowing landing pad on the river.  Geese!

And moments later, I smile to recognize the "Cheer! Cheer!" of a cardinal, and then hear him calling to a mate.  I smile for the waking-up world, but also because the song of a cardinal?  I've never known it before--but I read in a book that "Cheer! Cheer!" was its call, and to hear it in real life--it's unmistakeable.  Beautiful.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Pinterest--"Life Group Kids: the Jesus Storybook Bible"

(In process, and I'll update it in the coming weeks as we continue Life Group!  Contains links to borrowed activities, as well as my own.)

We're using activities that coincide with the stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible for the kids that come to our Life Group.  There are two main benefits of this: faith lessons and thoughts are poured into our kids, not just our grown-ups--and, of course, it helps the grown-ups to focus when the kids are engaged and it isn't complete chaos!  

We start with showing the story clip off the Jesus Storybook Bible DVD (or reading it out of the book if technology isn't cooperating).  Then we move on to our activities.  




Week 1: "The Story and the Song," an introduction story that sets up the premise of this story Bible: that every story whispers His name, a history-long love and adventure story that points to Jesus as the coming Rescuer.  Activity: a puzzle, putting pictures from multiple Bible stories together in the shape of a cross.  Here's the link to the original Printable Puzzle from My Mundane and Miraculous Life





Week 2--"The Beginning: a Perfect Home."  The activity included in the "44 Activities for the JSB" post didn't suit our needs well (not up to serving a multi-course "lunch" to the kiddos in the middle of Life Group).  So I made up an activity--or based it on something else I found, I can't honestly remember.  Prepped by outlining the numbers 1-7 on a big white paper for the days of creation, and the kids filled in each number with something to represent what God created on the corresponding day.  Jessica was with the kiddos this week, and it may possibly have been a handful!  This week has had the most kids so far, all sweet.  But, you know, it's past bedtime, and there's candy upstairs, and so many buddies to play with, and craft supplies!  Thank you for being a trooper, Jessica!  Here's my craft example, and the actual product of what my boys came home with:




Week 4 (because week 3 we skipped Life Group to meet together at church for prayer and worship music)--"A Giant Staircase to Heaven: the Tower of Babel."  Used the Building Activity by Bare Feet on the Dashboard, though our building blocks are the giant bin of Mega Blocks (like huge legos).  




And then I did a second story with the kiddos, "Son of Laughter: Isaac and the Promise."  Again, the sensory bin activity in the original "44" post isn't practical, with a bunch of kids in my pastor's very, very tidy house.  I looked around awhile, saw a similar little project with dark blue cellophane, and did the same thing with foil over flashlights.  Wrap the foil around the flashlight, poke some star holes with a toothpick, then find the darkest room and have all the kids together shine their starry lights up on the ceiling.  Just a fun, rather beautiful object lesson to go with God's lavish promise!  Here's my test run: 





Week 5--"The Forgiving Prince: Joseph and His Brothers."  I used the craft found on the Blessings Overflowing blog, a simple paper-bag puppet of Joseph in his technicolor dream coat.  Wait...is that how the Bible describes it?  :0)  I prepped the strips of construction paper, put sticky dots on the backs of googly eyes, and sent along scissors and glue sticks.  My hubby was with the kids this week, while I enjoyed the grown-up conversation upstairs.  And he even took pictures for me!  Thanks, Buddy!




Week 6--"God to the Rescue!" and "God Makes a Way": This week I hunted around for crafts related to the 10 plagues (because again, we're steering clear of the definite-messes that the activities included with the original post create among a small bunch of kids in a tidy house).  I found these puppets, but of course would never pay $12 for something I can make out of construction paper :0)  So here's my version.  Note: I changed them a little, especially the, ahm...tiger?  I couldn't find a plague of tigers in Exodus.