Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Swallowing Pride

Ever notice how prideful you are? Yeah, me neither. At least, not until the Lord shows it to me. But now it’s time for me to swallow mine and reveal an area I’ve struggled lately (and still am, so don’t think I have it figured out).

I used to think I knew everything about forgiveness. My grandmother harbored unforgiveness and resentment her entire life. It became a stronghold built on a root of bitterness, and it consumed her and destroyed her relationships with everyone around her. As a child and young adult, I witnessed this devastation first-hand and suffered the abuse she dished out regularly as a result. Hers was a miserable life. So when I trained on an amazing prayer team some 15 years ago and learned in depth about this basic yet profound spiritual concept of forgiveness and the freedom it offers to those who embrace it, I knew I'd found one of those brilliant gems of Scripture.

I've come to realize that forgiveness is essential if I want to maintain relationships—not just with other people, but also with the Lord. After all, Jesus told us to forgive. In fact, He had some really tough things to say about not forgiving others. Here are some examples: Matthew 6:6-15, Matthew 18:21-35, and Mark 11. It's sobering, really, when you read those passages.

Anyway, this concept became a basic truth in my life. Forgiveness was freedom. Forgiveness was a long-forgone conclusion in my spiritual walk with Christ...or so I thought.

But the Lord decided recently to give me a glimpse of my deceitful heart. Maybe it was my own fault for praying Psalms 139:23-24 so many times, but suddenly I found out that I, the self-appointed forgiveness guru, could be hurt and offended and used and taken advantage of and verbally abused past my forgiveness point.

Did you catch that? Yeah, I know. I’m such a hypocrite. I talk about how great forgiveness is, how foolish it is to hold onto hurts, and yet here I am. And for months I couldn’t figure out why this was such a struggle for me. I’d forgiven before countless times. But this time was different. What was it about this hurt? Just now as I’m typing I realize it. I was attacked in an area I’d never been insulted before—my abilities as a wife and mother. This was new territory for me…sacred, if you will.

You see, if you walk in forgiveness a while, you start to get immune to some of the things that previously hurt you. That's when it's easy to let your guard down, if you will. Then when a new hurt comes, targeted at the thing that’s now most important to you (and if you’re foolish like me, you let other things become more important than God), and suddenly you’re not walking in forgiveness anymore. You open your eyes after the initial sting and realize you’re not even standing. You're wallowing in the mire, trying to get up and get your bearings while dealing with the arrow in your side…or the knife in your back.

I used to say forgiveness is hard. I got to the point where I said that flippantly, without meaning it anymore. I had lost sight of what forgiveness costs the person extending it. Now I can say, with tears in my eyes, that forgiveness is excruciating and there’s no way around it. Forgiving will always cost you something, but any intersection of the divine and the flesh will burn, and that’s really what forgiveness is—a place where we cross paths with what God did for us on the cross and for just a moment experience an inkling of what it cost Him.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Parson Brown

My husband and I made a snowman yesterday for our two little ones, complete with a carrot nose, a flower pot hat (I thought the "Endless Summer" logo on the side of the pot was delightfully ironic), and pink toddler gloves on his stick hands. The kids found great joy in poking extra rocks and sticks into his base. He's easily the biggest, most cheerful snowman we've ever made. We were quite pleased with him, and still are, even though just one day later, he's listing to the side and has lost all of the rocks for his mouth, buttons, and one eye.

On a side note, snow balls that big are extremely heavy. And your strength fades to nothing when your husband makes you laugh while trying to lift said snow ball. After 11 years, I still love spending time with my husband. There's nobody I'd rather live my life with.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good Versus Best

I was reading an interesting article today on the health care reform bill that's currently before the Senate. Here's a link to the article so you can read it for yourself: Obama resists as liberals attack health care bill.
But what precipitated my blog entry tonight wasn't the reform bill. It was actually a quote in the article from former President Bill Clinton. Clinton said it would be "a colossal blunder" to let the bill die. Then he said, "America can't afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
Wow. Let's read that one more time: "America can't afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
That is the polar opposite of God's perspective. From God's point of view, what we deem as "good" is often the fiercest enemy to His best for us, His perfect will.
Look at Abraham and Sarah, and their debacle with Hagar and Ishmael (Gen. 16). Desperate to force God's plan to happen in her timing, Sarah urged Abraham to take matters into his own hands and have a son with her maidservant, Hagar. That plan blew up in Sarah's face when a pregnant Hagar decided that she was better than her mistress. Hagar's pregnancy wasn't God's perfect plan for Abraham and Sarah. God's perfect plan and His everlasting covenant would be through Isaac, not Ishmael, and God refused to budge on that point (Gen. 17:15-21).
Oh, how we screw things up when we rush things, desperate to realize some semblance of the promise of "better" or "more," rather than waiting for God's best. God doesn't want His children to settle for "good." He wants us to wait on Him, to trust Him to provide His best (Ps. 27:14; Ps. 147:11; Ps 37; Is. 40:31; Rom. 12:2). Anything else is settling for less.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Anti-Climax

My Christmas (actually, Hanukkah) present is a new sewing machine, a Baby Lock Sophia - ideal for a beginner, yet she also embroiders! I bought her last week, and I'm psyched to be able to use her...in January, when she finally arrives. When I pulled out my checkbook, I was informed that she's on backorder.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Baby's Safest Sleep Spot

I breastfed both of my children past their first birthdays, and they both slept in our bed the entire time. I researched this decision, read tons of articles and medical reports, and made an educated decision when my firstborn was three weeks old that co-sleeping was not only safe, but was by far the healthiest thing for her and for me. That said, I received some flack for this choice, because most folks have heard that a crib or bassinet is the only safe place for a baby to sleep. Ironically, support for my decision came from an unusual and unsuspected source: our pediatrician. Perhaps this was because she was also a certified lactation consultant.

Here's a fantastic article on the subject. I'm not posting this for myself, because I no longer co-sleep or breastfeed (my children currently are ages five and three). This is also not intended as a brow-beating toward any mom who has chosen a different path -- bottle feeding or letting baby sleep in a crib. No, this post is for all those women who discover for themselves that you and your baby get more/better sleep if you co-sleep, yet worry that it might not be the safest thing for your baby. Click the link, read the article, and put your mind to rest.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Prescriptions for Perfection?

I stumbled across an MSN article today that was alarming, to say the least. Executives, college students, and moms are taking drugs to enhance their performance at work, school, even at home. And we're not just talking a B-12 vitamin. We're talking amphetamines usually prescribed for ADHD and other drugs usually given only for anxiety. The article dubs it "Cosmetic Neurology." Here's a link to the article: http://health.msn.com/medications/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100249977&gt1=31053

The article's conclusion is that "normal" is being re-defined, and that society is reconciling itself to widespread, accepted drug abuse and the need to better understand and utilize it. Am I the only person who finds this downright frightening?

It seems that our society finds it completely acceptable to eliminate the lows of life through the use (and abuse) of pharmaceuticals. This reminds me of Galatians 5:19-21, where Paul explains the works of the flesh. Sorcery or witchcraft (depending on your translation) is the second work listed in verse 20. A quick glance at the Greek (Strong's #5331) http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=greeklexicon&isindex=5331 reveals that this word is not simply a reference to the deeds of witches, but is actually the word "pharmakeia," which is also translated medication/pharmacy. Was Paul familiar with the abuse of drugs? No doubt, he was, and was aware enough of their effects to liken them with black magic.

Paul juxtaposed these "works of the flesh" with the fruit of the Spirit, mentioned in verses 22-23, and clearly stated that those who practice the former shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

I'm not talking about the person who has a chemical imbalance or illness and needs a prescription to help them function normally. I'm talking about the drug-induced redefinition of what society considers normal in light of that same society's instant-gratification-driven motivations.

I don't know about you, but getting ahead at work or even at home just isn't worth the trade-off for me. God created us with limitations, and attempting to alter our bodies and minds to handle more than they're able to do naturally just seems like a bunch of hocus pocus to me. And Scripture clearly states that the consequences are eternal.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Trust and the Peanut

My little guy, three years old, has a peanut allergy. This can make life rather challenging, and in the least expected ways. Sure there's the challenge at the grocery store, reading every ingredient on every label. And then there are restaurant visits. But the most surprising problems arise from friends, relatives and acquaintances. Grandparents assuming that pack of Cheese on Wheat crackers is safe, even though the last ingredient listed is "peanuts." Or the party where someone serves a dessert mom would think is safe, like s'mores. How do you mess up s'mores? I mean, they're graham crackers, hershey's chocolate bar, and a marshmallow. But you get another mom wanting to try a gourmet version of an old reliable, and suddenly there's peanut butter in the chocolate.

I'm not complaining about this, actually, although it may sound like I am. I've come to accept the fact that my little guy may eventually come in contact with a peanut, despite my best efforts to protect him from what is harmful, even deadly in life. All I can do is try my best to educate others about his allergy, keep our home safe for him, keep an Epi-Pen with him at all times, and trust God to do the rest.

Trust. That's the biggest, most intimidating word in my vocabulary, especially when it comes to my children. My knee-jerk reaction is to tuck my little chicks under my wings and growl like a grizzly at anyone and everything that threatens to harm them. But I'm not God, and I can only shelter them so much. My reach is limited.

Not so for my Father. His grasp is limitless. His arms span the heavens. He spoke the entire universe into existence, set the earth in motion, breathed life into man. He holds my little family in the palm of His hand. And He is in control of every moment, every breath. I just have to let go, rest in his grasp, and trust. Why is that so difficult?