Friday, October 29, 2010

God at Work.

Over the last several days at dinner time I committed to asking my kids this question “How did you see God at work in your life today?”. Considering this is a deeply spiritual question for a three, five and nine year old, they’ve done remarkably well. Of course, their responses have been anywhere from “Well, you put candy in my lunch today!” to “I chose to be nice when the other kids were being mean.” Nevertheless, it is great to see their young minds think about God actively working in their lives.

This morning, just like every other morning, my nine year old daughter was stressing about the day ahead and rushing to get her shoes on about ten seconds after we should have been on our way to school. She began to rant about her planner and demanded me to sign it, a ritual we do every night when she comes home.

I said, “I am pretty sure I already signed that, Lil.” She immediately got angry and accused me of not doing it. She then began to accuse me of not making her lunch for the day. I told her it was done and waiting on the counter. She then accused me of never doing anything for her. This is an exact quote. “You never do anything for me.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Are you kidding? I’ve never done anything for you? Without going into the twenty plus hours of painful labor, I began to recount in my mind all the hours without sleep holding her when she cried, the last nine years of staying home abandoning my professional career for her, the hundreds of lunches, thousands of nail painting parties/tea parties, loads of laundry, piano lessons, and countless prayers for her safety. I just could not believe she had the audacity to say that to me!

Her dad heard this conversation. He immediately, and in no uncertain terms, explained that she was terribly wrong and owed me a big apology. Through tears she came into the kitchen and held out her little arms and said, “I’m so sorry, Mom.”

Instantly, as I wrapped my arms around my now sobbing daughter, I realized she is nine. She is a kid, a great kid who rarely does anything with hateful intentions. She is a child. Why would she remember all the countless hours of parenting? In her eyes, life is what it is, she has two parents who love her, an endless supply of food to eat and a warm place to snuggle in at night. She has no basis of comparison, yet. I hate that one day she will notice the atrocities and horrors in this world. I don’t want her to see what nightmares exist out there for some children. For now, she is a child that enjoys blessing without understanding how blessed she truly is.

I’m not much different than she in the eyes of God. So often I complain about life, and yet look how I am blessed! How dare I ever complain to the maker and provider of every breath I take when He has given so much!!!

On the way into the car for the trip to school she turned to me again and said, “Mom, I’ve already seen God at work today.”

I said, “Oh yeah, baby? How?”

She said, “Because you forgave me.”

Dear Father, thank you for my daughter! She teaches me so much everyday. She humbles me and touches my heart so deeply with her sweet spirit. Please help me to be the mommy she needs. Please don’t let her grow bitter because of my mistakes. Thank you for your endless blessings and your love. Thank you for forgiving me when I needed it so desperately! Amen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Eating Carbs and Spirituality.

I’m gluten intolerant. It’s terrible (Clearly, I struggle with positive thinking on this front). Consider a life of no pizza, no burritos, no cookies, cakes, bagels… etc. You get the idea. Luckily, nowadays gluten-free wonders are popping up all over the place! I do not always maintain a gluten-free diet, and often I pay the price. I won’t go into detail of what that means. Suffice it to say, it’s not pretty. Because of this special annoying dietary detail it is always easier for me to avoid carbohydrates rather than fat when dieting. Usually, going low-carb for a while can help me maintain or lose a few pounds. However, the older I get the more difficult it becomes to lose even an ounce.

I have a friend who is a diet master. She’s lost a ton of weight and looks amazing. You know the type, adorable, thin, so cute that you don’t know whether to hug her or hit her. Yep, that’s my friend. The weight just seemed to fall off of her, but I know that it took work and a lot of dedication to get where she is now. It wasn’t easy, and I’m really proud of her!

When I’m dieting I think about food every second of the day. It consumes me as I carefully monitor what I consume. To maintain a weight that I’m comfortable with I have to always be watchful of my habits and try not to slip into the "finishing the kid’s fries because there are starving children in the world" routine.

Any smart woman will tell you that “diet” is a bad word. Really, what it’s about is a complete lifestyle change. There is no quick fix and no pill that eliminates an extra 25 pounds of french fries, trust me. Being healthy takes a daily commitment, albeit a daily regime. It does not mean you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving with pies and your mother’s glorious sweet potatoes. It does mean that the week after Thanksgiving you probably should not eat the rest of the pies for breakfast or make multiple trips to the refrigerator to spray the whip cream directly into your mouth.

Spirituality works similarly. You cannot assume that punching the clock on a Sunday morning will make you any more of a spiritual giant than you were the Saturday night before. Improving your spiritual walk takes work and commitment, and must occur more than once a week. Regardless of how great or terrible the minister is at your church, your spiritual life depends on you and you alone. Your spiritual walk is a daily journey that you walk only with the Savior. Unfortunately, you can't blame someone else for your lack of spiritual depth or the number that shows up on the bathroom scale every morning.

If we take a hiatus from our prayer life, or reading the Word, then it is our own responsibility to commit to getting back on track. Spirituality is a life style. Christianity is a life style. It is a daily focus and must be a priority if we expect growth.

Too often I fear that Christians depend mountain top experiences to boost their spiritual walk. Spiritual mountain top experiences are amazing, and we all need them from time to time. However, much like our dietary habits, Spirituality is a journey with ebb and flow. We must feed ourselves to be spiritually healthy, and we can’t always wait to be fed.

Furthermore, if you are in a spiritual rut or pit, there is not always a quick fix, and if you are solely dependent on Sunday for your spiritual health, that might be a big problem.

Daily talks with the Father can be the first step to getting back on track. Reading scripture also does amazing things for a struggling soul. Either way, you must decide to get healthy and it must become a habit, just like dieting, just like exercise.

Don’t ever believe that once you feel comfortable that you can’t slip off track. Because, it happens. I’ve been there, too. Thankfully, our spirituality is a journey and not a one time test of skill.

Seek wisdom.
Pray often.
Make your spiritual walk a priority.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monkey Bars and Loyal Friends.

My daughter had a rough day last week. She and her three best friends decided to embark on a new journey to the top of the monkey bars. What may not seem like a big deal to you turned out to be a huge ordeal for my young lady and her loyal friends. You see, at Lily’s school the top of monkey bars is “reserved” for the cool kids. On this particular day, Lily and her friends decided to get into forbidden territory.

Now, for average people, climbing to the top of the circle monkey bars is easy. For my daughter (and her mother) this is no small feat. Unfortunately, we both lack a little in the coordination department. This lack of physical grace is not a big deal to us. We are not in denial and laugh it off on most days exchanging stories of when and where we tripped almost every day. We still are amazing prima donnas in the middle of the kitchen while making dinner, and we are sure God loves to watch us twirl and dance together.

Lily and her friends made it to the top of those monkey bars together that day. Once they made it, they were quickly informed by the monkey bars bouncers that they were in the wrong place and they needed to get down immediately. Easily intimidated by mean girls, the loyal four started down together.

If you are at all intimidated by heights the trip down monkey bars is much more taxing than the climb up, as the ground appears so far away and visions of falling become all too real in your head. I speak from experience.

As soon as the girls started back down, the crowd from the top began to hurl insults and ridicule the four trespassers. My daughter froze under the onslaught of the anxiety of the trip down and the layered stress thrown upon her by the onlookers.

That night as she told me how she made it down I was so touched. She shared that she could not have made down without her friends, and that every step she took they were there cheering her on. She said she kept breathing deep and trying to block out the verbal arrows from the mean kids and focused on the good awaiting her at the bottom: her three friends. She made it. That night she was so thankful to have friends who stood by her even when the popular crowd was above mocking and taunting. Those are exactly the kind of friends I want my daughter to have, and that night we thanked God together for those special girls.

In my own life I see the rich blessings that come from friendship and how completely necessary it is to have loyal friends. When things are rough the last thing you need is a fair-weather friend! I am abundantly blessed with amazing friends who don’t just tickle my ears, but who love me enough to pray for and with me, to tell me when I am absolutely in the wrong, and to walk with me through the horrors of life holding my hand and cheering me onward.

I believe that the necessity of relationship for healthy living is one of the best arguments for being a committed part of a congregation of believers. In a culture that is quickly becoming more individualistic and isolated in our means of communication, in acceptance of pluralism, and in a disregard for living a moral life, a community of believers encourages us to press on ignoring the insults that may come. A community of believers reminds us we are not alone. Churches must be a soft place for believers to come for love, discipleship, and friendship. We must lean on each other and trust in each other.

Today I am thankful for my dear friends! May I always strive to be a better friend to them every day.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Friday, October 8, 2010


Nothing drags me to the pit of doubt like unexplainable tragedy and loss. I can be walking along full of self-assured faith until I witness a horrific loss that clearly lacks sense. Suddenly I’m falling into a pit of uncertainty and disbelief. Clearly, I lack the faith I thought I had.

Whether believers will admit it or not there are things that happen on this earth that cannot be explained simply by stating “it’s God’s will”. Justifying hurt by the will of God does not help; rather, it sounds like blame. Hurt can’t be explained, at least, not in a way where those hurting will comprehend or be able to justify.

I believe it is of better consoling effort to just say, "I don’t know. I have no idea why your loved one is gone to heaven. It makes no sense, and I’m angry about it, too."

In my pit of ache within the murky waters of uncertainty, the only remaining thread to cling to is hope.

If we give up hope then our loved ones move on for no reason at all. Without hope we no longer honor their memory or their purpose. Even in our distrusting rebellion against goodbye hope can heal our broken hearts.

Hope is what gives us renewed purpose.
Hope is what we cling to drag us out of the pit of disbelief.
We hope there are reasons beyond our comprehension.
We hope that we’ll meet again.
We hope that this is not where we were meant to exist in the first place.
We hope that the rest of our lives will not be lived in vain.

Hope itself cannot be explained. Hope does not exist within negativity or even realism. Hope only exists within a man who is willing to trust in the unseen or unknown. Hope helps us look to what could be and what will be. Hope honors. Hope is our explanation. Finally, hope pulls us through to trust again.

We trust in the promise that there is a God, a waiting Father with open arms, and a home to run toward to meet Him there. We trust that all will be as promised. We trust there is another home for our loved ones, a home without loss, without pain, without goodbyes.

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." ~Romans 15:13