Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Keep your eyes on...

Have you ever been told that you need to look in the direction you want to go?  My husband and son are kayakers, and my husband tells Code-man to look where he wants to go when they're on the river.  I've been told to look in the direction I want to go while roller skating, ice skating, skiing, biking, even driving.  And it's such good advice, isn't it?  If you're looking the way that you want to go, it's much more likely that you'll get there.

In A Grand New Day Marilyn Meberg writes:
My mom was the faith person in our family. Both my father and I would seek out the encouragement of her gentle but unwavering faith. Early in life my thought about faith was that some have it and some don’t, and I believed I fell into the “don’t have it” category. For that reason I wanted always to be near my mom’s faith center....
Somehow I felt I had to find a “faith person” to help me with my challenges because I wasn’t sufficiently faith-endowed.... 
We must remind ourselves of a very basic truth. Our faith source is Jesus. He is the author of my faith. He is the giver of my faith. I am not. My mother was not. Any other person is not. Jesus gave me faith when I received him into my heart and life. That faith is totally, personally my Jesus-given faith.
This week's Women of Faith Talk Back question, in response to Marilyn's words, is: Do you have a “faith person”? Are you someone else’s?

I have to admit, when I first read this blog post, I skimmed it, got to the question and thought, hmmm, who brought me to faith?  But in reading the comments and blog post responses by other women of faith, I slowly realized that I was misinterpreting the question, and suddenly it dawned on me that I've been trying too hard.  Here I've been, putting myself at the center of my faith, thinking that my faith isn't good enough, that it's somehow inferior; that I need to try harder, do better, that it's my responsibility to make my faith, and therefore myself, worthy of God's affection.   I've been looking in, when what I should have been doing is looking out, looking up, keeping my eyes on Jesus. Jesus is the giver of my faith--not me.  Jesus is the author of my faith--not me.   My faith, given by Jesus, is enough.  Jesus is enough.  All I need to do is keep my eyes in the direction I want to go--toward Jesus.

My friends, where do you want to go?  Which direction are you looking in?

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

Bubby's tooth--before, in-between, and after

So, if you're a regular reader of my blog, you know what this is all about.  If you're not, and you'd like to know, click here for a previous post about my not-quite-3 year old's tooth issues.

I guess it's not really before, before, but it's before the patch.  I didn't realize that we had gotten such a good picture of Bubby's chipped tooth until the boys were looking through old pictures the other day.  This was taken 2 years ago, in August of 2008.


Here's what the original patch looked like--you can't see it very well, but it was kind of yellow-ish.  You could definitely tell that there was something different about that tooth.  This one was taken in the spring.


Here's what the new patch looks like.  You can't even tell it's not a normal tooth.  I sure hope this works--it not, the dentist will have to pull it anyway.
I can't believe my 2 year old had to have a root canal.  And, by the way, doesn't Bubby have a great smile?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rejoice!

Apparently, there is a particular breed of goats who faint when startled.  In A Grand New Day, Jan Silvious writes, "These goats are slightly nasty and not very pretty. They meander about foraging for food until they are startled by life in the goat yard and then they just up and faint! They can’t stand to be startled, so they don’t take time to rejoice. They just faint to get away from reality. They are programmed to avoid dealing with it!"

So the question posed on the Women of Faith blog hop this week is, "do you tend to be more of a leaping lamb or a fainting goat?"  My answer is, both, if I'm going to be completely honest.  I wish I could say that I'm a leaping lamb all of the time, but this is real life, and real life is sometimes hard.  Scratch that.  Real life is hard, period.  And so sometimes, I just want to deny the reality of...well, reality, so I just ignore it for a while, knowing that the situation I wish to avoid, whatever it is, won't go away, but still hoping that if I do nothing, the situation will resolve itself.  *Sigh*  Fainting never works.

What strikes me about this passage is when Ms Silvious says, "they can't stand to be startled, so they don't take time to rejoice."  Think about that--they don't take time to rejoice.  The implication is that even in the midst of something unexpected, something startling, maybe even devastating, there is cause for rejoicing, and we can choose to rejoice.

I'm reminded of the time, several years ago, when my husband was informed that the company he worked for was going to be shutting down the plant where he worked.  His job was going to be gone.  As a single income family, with two little ones, this news was startling, to say the least.  We could have fainted.  We could have been angry, or sad, or felt sorry for ourselves, or made ourselves sick with worry. Instead, we chose to view this unexpected, and unwanted, change in our lives as an opportunity to move on to something even better.  We clung to God's promise that he had great plans for us, and moved forward with confidence that God would provide everything that we needed, even a source of income.  And God did.  Today, I can honestly thank God and rejoice that he startled us that day.

This is life--real life--and things are going to happen, things that are not part of our plan.  But even in the midst of these unexpected interruptions, there is reason to rejoice: God is with us.  As Ms. Silvious notes, "no matter your circumstances, rejoice and rejoice again, because God is the author and finisher of life. He is in the middle of everything you face, no matter what. That’s worth knowing and holding on to."

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3 (NLT)

Give me your eyes

The other day, I posted this as my facebook status:
My most fervent wish, at this moment, is that someday, the other people who live here will learn to clean up after themselves.
I am so very tired of cleaning up other people's stuff.  I have almost gotten to the point where I'm ready to just shovel anything that's out of place right into the garbage can; if there's not as much stuff, there can't be as much mess.  They're willing: sometimes there's a little grumbling, but for the most part, when I ask one of those other people who live here to clean something up, they'll do it.  The problem is, they don't see what I see.  I will ask them, for instance, to clean up the living room, and then I'll go off and do something else, like switch a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher--there's always something to do around here.  They'll come tell me they're done, and when I go into the living room, there will still be books, pillows, magazines, pieces of the newspaper, small toys, and sometimes food on the living room floor.  No, you're not done, I tell them, look at this, and this, and this, I say.  I've tried being more specific.  I tell them, pick up all of the pillows, books, toys, and everything else that doesn't belong that is in the living room and put it where it belongs.  It still doesn't work.  They just don't see it.

Today, for our family fun activity, we cleaned.  It has been a busy summer, and it has been impossible for me to keep up with the day to day picking up.  That's because there is only one of me, and there are three, sometimes four or more, mess makers.  And to be quite honest, part of the problem is that when faced with the choice of conquering clutter or having fun with my children, the kids will win out every time.  And then, by the end of the day, when there are no more children awake to have fun with, the goal of a clutter-free zone seems completely unattainable, both because of the enormity of the chaos, and because of my extreme lack of energy.  Today I finally decided that enough was enough and informed the children that there would be no more fun-having until the clutter-busting jobs on my list were completed.

After our cleaning marathon, while Bubby was napping, and the other two were playing nicely in the basement (no doubt hoping that if they stayed out of my path, under the radar, I wouldn't find any more chores for them to do), I walked into the kitchen to find that there was a disposable camera, two spent batteries, a dirty glass, a magazine, and a cabal of crumbs on the kitchen counter.  They did it again.  Told me a job, cleaning off the kitchen counters, was finished, when really it wasn't.  "How can I get them to see with my eyes?" I thought to myself, "how can I get them to see what I see?"

And in that moment, it was as if God was standing by my side, looking over my shoulder, and saying, "how can I get you to see with my eyes?  How can I get you to see what I see?"  Whump!

Have you heard the song Give Me Your Eyes, written by Brandon Heath and Jason Ingram?  It's been playing non-stop in my head since God stood with me in my kitchen this afternoon.
Look down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight

Touch down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breathe in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos

All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what's underneath

There's a man just to her right
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He's out of work, He's buying time

Pre Chorus / Chorus

I've been here a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just move and pass me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
I need a second glance
Give me a second chance
To see the way you've seen the people all along

Chorus
I wonder just how often God stands in his kitchen shaking his head and wondering how he can get his children to see with his eyes.  How he can get us to see everyone, every one, as a precious child of God, and how he can move us to action, to love each one with God's love.

On his website, Mr. Heath says this about Give Me Your Eyes:
"The song was inspired from the idea that every once in a while, God gives us His eyes. You tend to see a lot of different kinds of people in places like airports. Sometimes, usually only for a few moments, I feel like God gives me true compassion for those people around me. I think that the longer I get to know the character of Jesus, the more compassion I personally have for others. 'Give Me Your Eyes' is saying; 'Jesus give me your eyes so that I can see people the way you see people, so I can love people the way you love people.' ... It is one thing to have compassion and quite another to act on it."
I still have no idea how to get the other people who live here to see what I see, but tonight it doesn't seem as important.  Tonight my prayer is the same as it's been all day, that God would give me his eyes, his love, his arms, his heart, so that God's light can shine through me and pierce the dark places of brokenness, loneliness and hopelessness.  I pray that God would use me to heal those precious, broken-hearted ones with his love.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Talk Back--Women of Faith

This week's Women of Faith Blog Hop question is this:
Do you have a favorite work of art?  What about it inspires you?

I'm pretty sure this isn't what the authors of the Women of Faith blog had in mind, but quite honestly, my first thought was of my children: these beautiful creatures, at once fragile and strong, and absolutely amazing, breath-taking, complex, and perplexing; these little men, whom God formed from nothing, and entrusted to me and my husband.  They are completely and utterly awe-inspiring (when they're sleeping, at least).

My next thoughts were of rocky mountains, tall trees, pounding waterfalls... Our God is a masterful creator, painting each of us and our world in the vibrant colors of His goodness, love, and grace.

But, after a bit more thought, I've come to realize that the work of art that most inspires me is...me.

Shapely and graceful your sandaled feet, and queenly your movement— Your limbs are lithe and elegant, the work of a master artist.
Song of Solomon 7:1 (The Message)

That's right, little ol' me--I'm a work of art.  Not really in my eyes.  My human eyes see all of my imperfections.  My eyes are constantly aware of my shortcomings and faults, and there are so, so many of them.  There are so many ways that I show my ugliness and broken-ness every day, and that's hardly inspiring, least of all to me.  No, my inspiration comes from knowing that in God's grace-filled eyes I am an exquisite masterpiece, even with my flaws: worthy of my Father's admiration, and imperfect on purpose.  That's right: God, the great Artist, made me, loves me, wants to be my friend and has great plans for me.  And if almighty God, creator and sustainer of the universe, considers me lovely, a work of art, who am I to disagree?

Steven Curtis Chapman will be performing at the Women of Faith event that I'll be attending in October with my sister and moms.  I hope he sings this song, "Fingerprints of God," that weekend, to remind each of us that we are God's favorite work of art.

I can see the tears filling your eyes
And I know where they're coming from
They're coming from a heart that's broken in two
By what you don't see
The person in the mirror
Doesn't look like the magazine
Oh, but when I look at you it's clear to me that...



I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it's true
You're a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God



Never has there been and never again
Will there be another you
Fashioned by God's hand
And perfectly planned
To be just who you are
And what He's been creating
Since the first beat of your heart
Is a living breathing priceless work of art and...



Just look at you
You're a wonder in the making
Oh, and God's not through, no
In fact, He's just getting started and…



I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it's true
You're a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God







 
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