Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Perfect Village

I love in a small bedroom community that is sometimes referred to as "Perfect Village".
There are lovely tree lined streets, manicured lawns and some very affluent people.
Who by the looks of things have it all together and are 'perfect'.
Now, before you go thinking I live some kind of idyllic lifestyle, you should know we bought our home because it backs up to our children's school -saving us MUCH precious time and gas money. Also, it's a 'fixer upper'.
God graciously allowed us to purchase our lovely home and we are so thankful for it-just not the 80's wallpaper the previous owner left behind.
I'll never forget the first time I met one of our new neighbors. I'd been removing wallpaper all day - with VINEGAR -can you say STINK?? I was in old sweat pants and paint covered sweat shirt. I hadn't showered yet for the day and had flakes of the wallpaper stuck all over me. Our doorbell rang and I heard the Hubs chatting and then he said those dreaded words 'Let me get my wife so you can meet her.'
I wanted the ground to swallow me whole-but it didn't-and I stepped to the front the door meeting our very cute, skinny, sweet neighbor, in her very high end outfit with her equally styled children.
The only thing I could think of to say was," Sorry I stink."

The desire to be 'perfect' or at least appear that I am has plagued me for years. Led to some ridiculously self destructive, sometimes even sinful behavior.

As I have gotten older and come to see myself as Christ sees me, I can gladly and every so thankfully say that it's gotten better.

But, I will also say that this is by far and away one of the most (if not THE most) struggles I hear from women, on almost a weekly basis.
And, sadly it seems it's the worst in our churches.

It seems if our children aren't A+, captain of the football team type kids, we feel somehow ashamed.
One women confided in me that they hadn't been in Sunday School for almost a year because her son was struggling with reading and he didn't want anyone to know.
Another woman, who's 20 something son has been in and out of rehab for the past year, confided that the pressure to appear like nothing was wrong was felt the most at church.
Another who was miserable in her marriage confided they 'could never go to counseling, because then 'everyone would know we don't have it all together.'

The world can be a harsh and cold place, yet instead of 'the church' being a warm shelter from the cold, to often it's filled with plastic people afraid to let their guard down, lest anyone see the realness of their lives.
(by the way, these stories aren't from just one church, and can be repeated again and again across denominational lines)

It's so maddening and sad all at the same time.

Girls, we have GOT to STOP acting like the house is always clean, the bank account is always full, we've never had a cross word with our spouse and our little darlings are practically perfect in every way. (If any guys have struggled through this far-thanks - and, quit acting like you've got it all together too!)
We do NOTHING but make others-and ourselves feel less than and that there is perhaps no room for their crazy mixed up family in our perfect village.

When I look at the cast of rag tag characters in the Bible God choose -sought out- picked- BECAUSE of their flaws-not in spite of them, I've got to wonder, why WHY do we try and pretend perfection?
There was only one perfect person since the dawn of time. And you aren't it. Neither am I. And that is exactly how God wants it. Everyday he chooses to use broken, wounded, unskilled people to accomplish His will. That way, whatever good we might do can all be laid directly at His feet with all the praise and glory going to Him.

I've got children who struggle with health issues, another who has a learning issue, and I need to lose weight, I sometimes lose my temper and watch way to much tv.

But, I have chosen to believe. Believe it all. Believe that when God says he knew me before the foundation of the world, that he knows my inmost thoughts and even still thinks I am wonderfully made. I'm going to believe that.

So, if you are feeling like the odd girl out in whatever perfect village you think you're surrounded by, know that in God's kingdom, we are all flawed and broken and loved just the same.
And you can be part of my crazy village anytime!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Putting on the Brakes

This past Friday evening The Hubs and I were in the midst of some serious traffic on one of our local highways. Suddenly, The Hubs had to hit the brakes and we held our breath as we came to a sudden and INCREDIBLY close stop. A small sneeze could have sent us into the rear of the other car at that point.

When we took off again, he noticed that the brakes were making a noise. Since we were in the car that I mostly drive, he asked if I'd heard it before.
Well, yes, I had a heard a noise earlier in the week, but thought an acorn was stuck in there.(We live in the land of giant trees and have had that happen before.)

When we arrived at our destination, J, got out and checked the brakes. No, it seems that was not an acorn stuck in there I heard, but the sound of metal on metal.
We were 45 minutes from home. Pulling a camper.

With much caution and white knuckle praying, we made it home safe and sound, taking the time to get our other car and caravan to the repair shop were we could drop off the truck so it could be repaired the next day.

(As a side note, I should point out that I was NOT praising and giving thanks that no one had gotten hurt. I was mad. And pouting. Hate spending major money on repairs like that. . the ones that don't make anything cuter. Would MUCH rather spend the money on something fun or even just let it actually stay in the bank.
It was a wrong attitude, I know. Just trying to be honest here!)

Saturday evening when we picked up the truck and Hubs had given it a test run, I drove it home from Wal Mart. That's when I noticed it. WOW, I can tell a difference now. I had no idea how bad they were, until driving with new and improved brakes.
They really had gone completely out without me noticing.

It made me think about my youngest son's Bible verse for last week.

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:16

I think often, I become immune to the godless chatter around me and my part in it. And, it's not until I cut certain things out that I realize how ungodly I was becoming.

It starts off so slowly, compromises here and there. "But, it's funny. But it's true. But I find it entertaining. But they'll never know I was talking about them. But, I'm tired and can't have my quiet time now."

I'm so careful (as I should be) to protect my children from all sorts of ungodly talk, whether it be movies, music, tv, video games and yes even some friends- but, sometimes I forget that my mind needs guarded from the chatter of those things as well.

It's a hard line, to be in the world but not of it. To be so spiritually minded you're no earthy good.
To be so worn down, that you don't even notice it until something major happens and you've got to make a quick exit.

I don't have all the answers ( I don't even have half the answers).

But, I do know I need to put the brakes on in areas of my life I've begun to compromise in - and it would be easy to come up with a set of rules of do's and don'ts, but if I have learned anything on this journey of life, it's that Christ cares way more about what is in my heart than any man made list I could come up with.

So, taking this life journey together how do you realize your 'brakes' are going out before it's too late?
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Comfy and Cozy

I enjoy things that I've had for a long time.
A worn out blanket, a favorite robe. . the Hubs laughs and shakes his head at my two favorite towels-that I've had since COLLEGE!(to say they are worn out would be an understatement, yet I can't bear to part with them)
I watch the same old movies every Christmas and put up the same decorations-it makes me happy and all warm and snugly inside.

About 5 years ago, I was sitting in class at church, learning how to counsel others. Knowing I was going to being working with women. And, I remember thinking-but I don't do that (work with Women) I work in preschool, because that is where I am comfortable.
Over these past 5 years, I've seen God move in my heart in life-in ways I would have NEVER imagine or chosen.
I'm finding sometimes it's good not to be so comfortable!

Then, about a month ago now, I was standing during the Worship time on a Sunday morning and the CLEAR thought went through my head-"You know you are really in a place in your life now were you should be mentoring someone"
I don't often have such clear directives like that so I paid attention and said 'Yes, you're right, I would love to do that'. Thinking about what young mom would come across my path.
That night at a fellowship ( that is code for Baptist to eat)I had a friend come to me and ask if I would be willing to lead a Follow Group ( small groups, mentoring, accountability and Bible study) of 6th and 7th grade girls.
Ummm, I'm sorry I'm not comfortable with that. . . I don't do teenagers. . .frankly they frighten me. . .Of course, being the good girl I am, I'd said I'd pray about it. Yeah, I'd pray about it alright-pray she'd move on ask somebody else!

But, pray I did and what I heard (not audibly but in my Spirit) was 'Do you believe I told you to begin mentoring or not?' YES, but NOT giggling teenagers, who might ask me some VERY UNCOMFORTABLE questions!!
'Do you believe, I told you or not? Now obey.'

So, I called and said yes-NOT hiding the fact that I am seriously out of my comfort zone.

Our first meeting, before we broke into our small groups, we met in the larger main youth room. As I watched these teens come in, I broke out into a cold sweat, and kept moving to a corner in the back of the room. (BTW, my very dear friend in serving in Africa right now in the middle of nowhere, so I do totally get that there are much harder things to be called too)
All, I kept thinking was that I was in the WRONG place!
Then I met my girls and we went to our own room-and YES there was much giggling-but as I looked into their faces, I realized these were the young women in training to take my generations place.
Now, I can't say they still don't scare me a touch, but I do know, I'd rather be obedient than comfortable.
Friday, September 10, 2010

A Chosen Daddy's Girl

**This was written almost two years ago for my Daddy's birthday. Seemed appropriate to share it again this Father's Day weekend.

Today is my Daddy's 60th birthday.

I've been called a Daddy's girl many times in my life, and that is a compliment to me.

I get told I look like him and I know we act alike sometimes.

Which tickles me, because you see, my Daddy chose me. He didn't have to love me, he just did.

After a tragic accident my Momma was left a YOUNG single mom.

My parents worked at the same place, but didn't 'officially' know each other and some mutual friends set them up on a blind date.

Mom brought me. If this guy didn't like me what was the point??

We all fell in love with each other and the rest is history. I wasn't quite 2 and don't remember a day without my daddy. And to this day, would dare someone to say to his face that I wasn't his daughter!

He's the strong silent type, but when he speaks you should listen, because there is more than likely some great advise or insight in what he says.
He's humble. He has a Purple Heart from his tour in Vietnam. I was in awe of that thing, but he blew it off like it was no big deal. Just doing the job that was asked of him and his generation.

My Daddy's is a Melancholy who has a Sanguine for a daughter and I can assure you that provided MUCH drama during the teen years. MUCH. Drama.
As I look back, I realize how much he had to stretch himself for me. But, he never said no the the house full of friends, slumber parties or giant birthday parties.
He just did them because he knew it's what I would like, even though it often took him way beyond his comfort zone.
Because that's what Daddy's do for the children.

I've watched him with my children and the love he has for the them is evident to all. And I'll never forget the day my first born was born and Daddy came in the room and we placed him in his arms and announced that we had named him after Daddy.
I can count on one hand how many times I've seen my Daddy cry. That was one of those days. Such joy and love!

But, I think of all the things my Daddy has shown me, is what it's like to be a Daughter of the King.

Because, He chose me too. I knew from an early age what it meant to be chosen by someone who loves you and how you can never be separated. Such a clear picture my Daddy gave me of the love of God toward His children.

Thank You Daddy for loving me, sacrificing for me, loving my children beyond measure. But, more than that-for showing me the love of Jesus.
You are an amazing man and your family loves you so much.
Happy Happy Birthday!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sitting on the mountain all by myself. .

My darling little princess got her feelings hurt before dinner tonight.
Well, she said her feelings were-and who am I to say they weren't-but really, it seems to this momma that she was just M A D.

At one point she stomped out of the kitchen and proclaimed "I AM GOING TO SIT ON MY MOUNTAIN ALL BY MYSELF!!!"

Sometimes, it's so hard not to laugh inappropriately at my little people.

Little Miss came back about 5 minutes later, telling me it was lonely on her mountain (a stack of blankets in the family room) and could she PLEASE be with me.
So, we hugged, all was forgiven and we moved on.

But, try as I might, I can't help but get that huffy proclamation out of my head-I'm going to sit on my mountain all by myself!
I've got some friends who've done that, gotten their feelings hurt and huffed off to their own little mountain.
Just written off a community of people, because their feelings are hurt-or they are M A D and just walked away.
Lest I sound high and mighty, I've certainly wanted to or tried to do that too.

In lots of ways it sounds good doesn't it?
Sitting up on our own mountain, able to make our own rules, no annoying people to deal with or be bothered by.
But, Jesus calls us to community. We aren't allowed to just stomp off and walk away-as much as it might feel good to do so at the time.
And, let's face it. It can be a cold and lonely place on top of our mountains.

So, down in the valley is where I'll choose to live. It's crowded and complicated at times. And the seeming peace from the mountain top may call to me (although, I've found over the years, that I can and do annoy myself!) but life is meant to be shared.
Thanks for taking a little time out of your life to share it with me!