Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are you having a Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver day?

I never really watched the Brady Bunch or Leave it to Beaver, but their story lines have been talked about so much that the romance in these shows is not lost on me.  Ever since I was a little girl I dreamt of being a wife and mother.  I would dream of how my husband would be very handsome and I would have perfect children and my home would always be clean.  I would wear an apron all day long to keep my 50's style, waist hugging,  knee length dress clean for my hardworking husband to see when he came home.  I would make it seem effortless to keep house, raise a respectful brood and have home cooked ~ from scratch~ meals ready for my husband as soon as he came home. 
Some days, in my real life, I feel like my little family could be the Cleaver’s or Brady’s.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve got my life under control.  To me, that means:  I’ve made time to spend with the Lord, my house is clean-or at least picked up, I’ve made a nutritious dinner, I’ve had plenty of time to enjoy my son-playing with him and showing him new things, I’ve got a plate of food in the oven waiting for my husband to eat once he gets home, my projects are caught up on and my laundry is mostly clean and put away.   I love it when I can sit down at the end of the day and put my feet up knowing that when my husband walks in the door, he’ll be impressed with what I’ve done.
I remember when my grandmother had her last stroke (she had several!).  It affected her ability to swallow and talk.  She loved to do both, so this was a HUGE struggle for her.  She lived in Florida and I was/am living in Maryland.  Hearing of her hospitalization, some of my family and I drove straight through the night to get down there to see her.  It was so sad to see her and not be able to talk to her.  She had a notepad on her table that she would write in to communicate with us.  Not long after we got there, she decided that she didn’t want to have a feeding tube put in.  So, she chose to “go home”.  The hospital arranged for hospice to come and set up camp at her home.  All of the family that traveled down to see her had been sleeping wherever we could find a spot at her house.  When my grandmother found out that we were staying at her house, she immediately located her note pad and penned a little not to my grandfather.  It said, “Is my house clean?”.  I knew what she meant.  She meant, I can’t stand a messy house.   How can I possibly go home and be relaxed if my house is a mess?  Honestly, if I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t be able to go home to die knowing that my house was dirty…it’s just something in me.
That was an awfully sad story to tell, just to make the point that I come by this craziness genetically.  I struggle with this a lot.  Perfection is just an illusion.
Today, though, my house was a mess and I didn’t make a home cooked meal-I nuked leftovers, and to top it all off, I had a Cleaver/Brady day!  How could this be?  I think it has something to do with the look that my son gives me when I ask him if he wants to go outside and ride his bike.  I love the way his hair gets matted to his sweaty forehead because he’s playing hard.  I love the little mischievous smile he gets when he climbs UP the slide, knowing he’s not supposed to.  I absolutely tear up when we’re outside blowing bubbles in the wind and I hear him giggle with the joy of figuring out how to blow just right to get the maximum amount of ‘bubblage’.   My heart soars when he runs ahead of me and turns back to say, “Chase Mommy”, clearly egging me on to chase him down.   Smelling the outdoors on his soft skin and in his hair as he lays his head on my chest for a hug makes me so happy.  It makes me realize that there are something’s more important in life than home cooked meals and clean floors.
Today, it didn’t matter if my world wasn’t under control; if it wasn’t viewed with the perfection lens.  The only thing that mattered was the happiness and joy of my little boy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Will you trust Him with your treasure?

A talented writer at my church, Kim Weidner, wrote this essay.  I thought it was beautifully written, so of course I had to ask if I could share it on my blog.  With the Pure Freedom Tour coming to our church in just a few weeks, my heart has been examining itself and focusing on my own purity.  I read her essay on Sunday and realized time doesn't erase what has been done, God does.  I guess I always thought that once I was married that my "mishaps" would go away, but true sexual healing doesn't come with a ring, it comes from our forgiving Heavenly Father.  I'm sure this essay will challenge you to self-examine as well.  Enjoy this special essay from my dear friend.

A few words from Kim Weidner:
At a Baltimore art museum last week I examined (with my eyes only!) the delicate creations of Cartier, Lalique and Faberge (including two of the famous eggs).  These bejeweled treasures of almost inconceivable fragility have survived for a century, moved with the most extreme care from collection to collection, gallery to gallery, continuing to bring pleasure and amazement to their viewers.
Also last week I examined with the eyes of an open heart Dannah Gresh’s book What are you waiting for?, which explores very candidly the precious treasure of our sexuality, a gift created by God to be enjoyed within the context of marriage.  This treasure was designed to reveal to us the glorious harmony of the godhead and the union of Christ to his bride, the Church.  Gresh traces a very surprising Hebrew word through Scripture to show God’s intention for us to be known intimately and respected through marital sex.  Desiring to reach girls age 12-18 with her message about purity, true beauty and modesty, Gresh has created the Pure Freedom Tour, which GBC is excited to host on May 14.  Moving beyond the themes of her tour, and targeting a somewhat older age group, Gresh’s book does not pull any punches when it comes to addressing a variety of “uncomfortable” sex topics.  I believe any parent of preteens/teens would benefit from reading it, as well as those who minister to our youth.  It is an honest, straightforward appeal to girls about to make crucial sexual choices, as well as to those who have already made sexual choices with painful results.  To the former, Gresh shows God’s point of view compellingly; she urges the latter to seek with assurance the healing God will bring through honest confession and prayer.

We live in a culture whose messages about sexuality are in no way trustworthy.  These messages need to be actively addressed and challenged in the home, as I believe they are in many of our GBC families.  God’s view of sexuality, the “big picture,” not just the list of “dont’s,” should also be taught in both the home and church settings.  I have taught middle school aged girls at GBC for many years, and find it interesting how squirmy and giggly they become when I mention god’s ultimate intention for our sexuality in connection with some “spiritual topic” like the Trinity or communion or heaven.  As if sex cropped up while god wasn’t looking!  Generation after generation treats this precious and beautiful gift of God as something indecent!  So much is at stake when we fail to educate our children about the biblical picture of sacred sex.  Remember, parents, we are helping to move our fragile, bejeweled treasures to sexually whole adulthood, toward fulfilling, Christ-centered marriages or vibrant, unencumbered singleness. 
I wonder how many people reading this could honestly state that their lives are free from sexual brokenness.  Yes?  Praise God! Or have you, like me, been hurt by sexual experiences that fell short of God’s beautiful and sacred purposes?  I believe that the pursuit of healing sexual brokenness through confession and prayer is a necessary, if difficult, step toward strengthening and restoring marriages and becoming effective, Godly guides for our teen children.  It is Jesus’ redemption, not merely time, that heals all wounds.  I am compelled to testify, with a deeply grateful heart, that the healing touch of our loving, forgiving Savior is more than just well-concealed superglue on the broken treasure of our sexuality; it brings true restoration and renewal.  Will you trust Him with your treasure?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

3 things I've learned...

So, normally I write about things that God is doing in my life, however recently the things that have been going on in my world aren't things that I could share on a public blog.  God has, however, been at work, and I wanted to share a little bit. 

The last few weeks have been brutal for me and my family.  We have endured several hardships  heartbreaks and have come through to the other side.  I haven't written about them because they are quite private and honestly, they really aren't our stories to tell.  But that aside, I have learned a few things through the whole ordeal that I believe are true for each of us when we are going through a tough time.

1.  God is always faithful.  He is consistently there.  He listens to me cry out to him when I am broken hearted and when I finish spilling my emotions He reaches down and puts salve on my heart, he binds up my wound and refreshes my spirit.  He is faithful.

Psalm 36:5  Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Lamentations 3: 22,23 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
2.  God cares that I'm hurting.  I am a child of the King.  He is my Abba Father--my heavenly Daddy.  What parent doesn't care about their child when they are hurting?  I feel sad when my son skins his knees, even if he isn't fazed by them, so how much more does our Father care about us when we have bruised hearts and spirits?!  He cares when we are sad and hurt.

1 Peter 5:7  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him...

3.  God loves to show off his glory.  At the end of a particularly trying time, I like to look back over the situation with a fresh perspective and just look at how the hand of God has moved.  Sometimes really bad things happen in our lives.  Someone close to us dies, or there is an accident, maybe a divorce or separation happens or an unexpected fight that leaves friendships happens to each of us.  What makes it all worth going through is seeing God glorified through the circumstance.   A death of someone close may make a friend of the deceased look at their own spirituality and send them searching for God's grace and love.  An accident could leave the victim in the hospital with nothing else to do but "look up"---sometimes that all God really wants from us--look up and see his Glory.

Romans 9:22-24  In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction.
He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom
 he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those
 whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.
Ezekiel 43:2 Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east.
The sound of his coming was like the roar of rushing waters,
and the whole landscape shone with his glory.

My hope is that you see the humanity in our God--that he isn't as stoic and cold as some may believe he is.  He is warm, loving, kind and gentle.  He isn't always those things, but then, neither are we.  I have appreciated his comfort the last few weeks.  I have reveled in his warm embrace and was able to relax when things got really tough, knowing that He was in control of it all and would see us through again.  To God be the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.