Friday, April 25, 2008

Yum! Humble Pie.

The other day I was praying that God would enable my creativity for a project I was noodling on for work. But I was also aware that I was struggling pretty brutally with pride in the whole thing and, might I add, not feeling particularly victorious. I also conveniently remembered a way I had spoken to one of my children that had not been particularly, well, loving. Then something came back to me that maybe will give your soul hope as it does mine.

I am currently being amazed by God's thoughts in Psalm 25. For one thing, I like that the whole psalm can be a prayer for me; nearly all of it applies to me all the time! Bonus. (It's a repentant psalm. :)

But here's a sample of what's captured my thoughts lately.

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his
(vv.9, 10, 14)

To get to the point, here's what I love about this verse:
Old thought: If I've "been righteous" today, hopefully God will bless me, answer my prayers, etc.
New thought: Jesus pointed to the prayer, "Have mercy on me, a sinner"--and away from the Pharisee who seemed to have his act together before God. My favor with God is based on Jesus' perfection, not mine (which is nonexistent. See Heb. 4:14-16). In repentance, I give Him the opportunity to change me. God actually yearns to teach me, even befriend me and, according to the NIV, confide in me when I realize just how much I need to be taught.

Check out Isaiah 66:

"Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that
you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?

"All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be," declares the

"But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."

The way I read this, God made the world and the heavens, but chooses to dwell with the humble, contrite person who fears Him and realizes his (her) actual position before Him.

I can see why the one who has been forgiven much loves much!

latest little familia update, #4

The boys had high fevers and colds this week. Will was diagnosed with a nasty ear infection today. Poor guy. (Certainly explains the constant whining!)

John had oral surgery Thursday to have an abcessed tooth removed. :( He plans to have an implant put in later; better than a new root canal every ten years...but still. Yuck.

Corinne is now the big 10 months! And such a sweet charmer, with fuzzy little ringlets popping out all over her lil' noggin.

I'm finding myself more drawn into my work because I feel useful and valued in what I'm doing. Please pray that I would have God's priorities, as well as for wisdom and humility.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

big picture

"I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers make and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect and all the consequences of those prayers down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives." --Peter Kreeft

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Good and Angry

I used to be such an agreeable person.

Has anyone else been amazed by the force of emotion your children can produce within you? I admit with shame that one of my greatest adjustments with having multiple children lies sheerly in dealing with the irritability and anger I can feel: The dog wants out when I am late going somewhere (again), my blood sugar is low from forgetting breakfast, and my sleep-deprived mind takes in my disaster of a living room while my infant cries ceaselessly, pulling my frizzed-out hair as I nearly break my neck on another rogue Matchbox car while my toddler has a potty accident on the carpet and my preschooler does something mean-spirited I've specifically requested he NOT do that basically results in some dumping of a box full of toys with seventy-two educational little pieces.

I find myself there on autopilot, doing things that won't work in an attempt to just get everything to STOP and OBEY, for the love of Mike, like trying to find the snooze button. In fact, I do occasionally hear myself telling one of them "Please, please just stop that." or "Why are you doing that?! Please NO!" or something equally effective, like "Why are you crying?" to a child who won't be able to communicate with words for another nine months.

Now, if I stop and think, then I have been blessed with training that can actually help me to deal with these things in a godly, productive, even divinely patient way. But too often I find myself asking my kids for forgiveness yet again for overreacting, being impatient, not being angry in a godly way, and generally NOT acting like Jesus (or in a way I'd like them to act when they're angry). As a sidenote, it does not help that I don't really remember my own steady mother flipping out.

I remember feeling a great deal of empathy as I read Gary Thomas' Sacred Parenting (highly recommended!), where he opens his chapter "Burning Love" with the illustration of a pastor who gave a sermon on anger and asked for church members who needed special prayer for this to come forward. He apparently had nineteen members respond--all of them mothers of young children.

Anger is such a forceful emotion. God, as Thomas iterates, had a reason for giving it to us. God's own anger is against sin: "This means that motivation is everything when it comes to anger. The difference between righteous anger and unrighteous anger ultimately comes down to why we feel angry, what we feel angry about, and what we do with our anger." Thomas essentially describes anger as a tool--a force that can motivate us to do that right thing, and "requires a certain spiritual sophistication to wield it appropriately."

And I love this: "God gets angry because he cares. God gets angry because the stakes are so high....The greater our emotional involvement [as parents], the greater our potential to get really angry, because we care so deeply about what happens to those we love and to our relationship with them." But, he cautions, acting out of woundedness (or in my case, sheer irritability) toward our children makes it all about us. "But God calls me to act in such a way that it's all about our children, and their relationship to him."

With a statement like that, maybe you feel like me. I hate anger. It's pretty much a sealed deal that I'm gonna sin. Royally. Thomas counters, "if we want to become mature, we have to learn to walk in an alley where sin appears inevitable but ought to be avoided. We are told, 'In your anger do not sin' (Psalm 4:4, Ephesians 4:26)....I believe we are to treat anger like a potentially toxic, yet highly potent and controlled, medicine. At times it must be prescribed, but we should handle it carefully and limit its use." Love, after all, is not easily angered (1 Corinthians 13:5).

I still find myself searching for very practical methods of keeping myself in check, and would very much welcome your ideas that work for you! For me--leaving enough time so I'm not late (i.e. not attempting to do too much before I rush out the door); getting rest; not skipping a meal; asking my husband to handle a situation I can't; and (duh) keeping in step with the Spirit so I'm already in an attitude of prayer when my son steps on my foot as he argues with his brother, who chucks one of my knicknacks at his sibling--which misses him but hits me and the baby.

Thank you Lord, for loving my holiness enough to give me kids.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Is this an "aha!" or a "duh"?

Had an idea: I have now put the names of all of the main dishes I typically cook on one sheet of paper (Excel spreadsheet, organized in columns by chicken, pork, beef, and veggie dishes, with extra spaces for new or forgotten dishes). I'm going to put it in a page protector and hang it up inside my cupboard. I have so many cookbooks that it's so helpful to know what dishes I can choose from. Hope that helps someone else who likes variety in their cooking!