Friday, April 23, 2010

the Ipod mis-hap

I am training for a mini marathon. Most weeks I have to do a long run on Saturday, consisting of ten or so miles. A few weeks back I took off on my long run. It was a picture perfect day for running. It couldn't have been any better, really. It was in the low 50's--not real windy and sunny but not too sunny. I took off, enjoying the solitude and listening to my tunes on my Ipod.

All was well.

Until I got to mile two. Yes, only mile two.

And my Ipod completely shut down. Totally dead. How can this be??? I thought for sure it had enough battery power to make this run???

So many emotions flooded my being: Anger (this Ipod is a piece of crap! Denial (Surely it is not dead...let me just wait a few minutes and try to turn it on again). Panic (What??? Eight miles in complete silence? Are you serious?) Fear (What if I can't do it?). Dread (This is REALLY going to be painful). And finally, acceptance (Okay, looks like this is my reality. This is my lot. Better make the most of it.)

As is most often the case, I believe this experience was ordained by God to apply to other areas of my life. He so often does that with my running times.

Just as I was relying on my Ipod, I realized how often I rely on lesser things in other areas of my life. Obviously, an Ipod is not 'bad' and it can be a wonderful tool to use to praise Him with my music and get me focused on something besides the pain of the run. Yet, when it becomes the 'be all, end all, I can't run without it', it has just trumped the very essence of why I ever started running in the first place. And why do I run, exactly? I know many of you reading this are now sitting with furrowed brow, quite complexed at the absurdity of doing such a thing! As absurd as it may seem, I do it because it is an act of worship to my Creator God. Just as some of you may glorify Him through your art, your music, or your organizational skills (okay, at the thought of that, now my brow is furrowed!:)), I know one of the ways I can glorify Him is through running.

To get back to my point, I realized that God was giving me a picture into the other areas of my life through this Ipod mishap. How often do I rely on other things in my life more than I rely on Him and Him alone? How 'spiritual' would I be right now, for instance, if my electricity went out and stayed out for the next couple of weeks? Or my washer and dryer quit working? Or my coffee pot, for crying out loud? What if my van broke down and I had to stay home for the next month? Could I handle it? Could I rest in the power of the Almighty alone, or would the absence of these things do me in?

At the moment my Ipod quit, I had to decide one of three things:

1.) Forget this. I'll just turn around and go home and try again tomorrow with a fully charged Ipod.

2.) I'll keep going but it is going to be ugly. I am going to whine and complain the entire time and stop and walk and do it--but do a poor job of it.

3.) I am going to be optimistic here. I am going to ask God for help. I am going to use this time to pray. God is the God of the universe--getting me through this run is a mere blink of an eye for Him!

Let me just say that I've had my moments in the past of choosing #1 and #2. More moments than I care to admit. On this day, however, I chose door number 3.

Well, okay, I chose it after a few minutes of whining and complaining. Yes, I still whined for a few. But then I sucked it up and actually had a really great run. AND I learned a lot about making the most of disappointing and less than perfect circumstances. Mostly, though, I had a special time of communion with my Lord (once he knocked that electronic device right out of the way). I got to experience a deeper time of Fellowship with Him when I no longer had distractions.

What's keeping you from experiencing Him fully today? Is it a 'to do' list a mile long? Is it the television? the computer? facebook? Maybe it's sports? talk radio? Or maybe it's something that is a beautiful gift from the Lord like your children? your spouse? A ministry? Or dare I say it--homeschooling?

We all have areas that are competing for the Lord's spot. We all have them. And many of those things are really good things. I heard a message entitled 'The Idol Factory' by CJ Mahaney not long ago. He said something that really stuck with me: 'It's not the fact that we want or desire good things. No, it's when we want those good things TOO MUCH. That's when it becomes an idol.'

Too often I settle for lesser things rather than the one, true God. Only He alone can satisfy. HE ALONE. I am praying for God to show me how to live this truth out--not only in action but also in the uttermost being of my soul.

8"'You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10but showing steadfast love to(G) thousands[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments. Deut. 5-10

4"Hear, O Israel:(E) The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[b] 5You(F) shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And(G) these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7(H) You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8(I) You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9(J) You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut. 6:4-9

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happenings around here

---my 3 y.o. has worn baseball pants and shirt for the past three days...not sure if I am going to get him out of this attire anytime soon...

---he also wore his batman costume to the Y yesterday. I figured somebody needed a smile.

---my 8 y.o. has the most impressive baseball coach ever. He even makes me want to jump out there and learn how to play. I have started looking forward to watching his practices. This guy knows what he's doing...

---Cards--it's a household name all year long around here. In the fall and winter we cheer for that basketball team and in the spring and summer we cheer for that baseball team.

---Andrew Peterson--LOVE starting my day with his music...

---the mini marathon is two days away. I'm scared.

---why does my 12 y.o. have to throw things at the rest of us all the time? I'm tired of getting hit in the head with balls and wadded up pieces of aluminum foil. yes, I said 12 y.o., which means I have at least nine more years of this to go with my youngest

---so thankful for my Thursday morning bible study. It keeps me sane.

---love seeing the growth in my 10 y.o. lately... sweet moments for sure.

---I am thankful for God's strength during difficult weeks like this one. I feel like the little blue engine chugging up the hill... just trying to keep my eyes on Him!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Real Love

Our teaching pastors put this quote up during the sermon a couple of weeks ago:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)

This was convicting to me. I want to be vulnerable so that I am more loving. Too often, I am fearful of being vulnerable because I do not want to experience rejection. I am like this with people who have knowingly or unknowingly hurt me with their words or actions in the past. It is a defense mechanism that wells up immediately, unfortunately. I do not want this to happen. It is just a habit that is now hard to break.

Sometimes I am not vulnerable because I am too prideful. I do not want to appear needy. Pride and fear--the two emotions that usually go hand in hand and keep us from experiencing Jesus and others fully. I pray daily that these two emotions would lessen in me and be replaced by a spirit of humility and faith.

Real love is messy. Real love experiences conflicts but does not sweep the conflict under the rug and ignore it. Real love talks things through and doesn't punish you if you don't see eye to eye. Real love is not surfacy--it is willing to go deep and discuss real issues of the heart. Real love chooses to love those that are different. Real love doesn't show favoritism. Real love pursues a relationship with you and makes you feel special. Real love encourages and spurs on. Real love shows up even when it is inconvenient. Real love chooses to forgive. Real love spends time with you just because. Real love doesn't hold grudges. Real love admits its weaknesses. Real love confronts but does so gently. Real love doesn't lie. If it sees sin, it calls it sin. Real love doesn't always feel good because there is pain in growth. If it 'feels happy and good' all the time, than it is not real love.

Real love always puts others before self. Real love doesn't boast in achievements or accomplishments. It is unconditional. Real love doesn't shrink back in fear. It is courageous. Real love is not stagnant or dull--it is changing, moving and growing--it is exciting.

Real love goes the distance. Real love transforms. Real love was experienced fully through the Cross. It was costly. It was painful. It was unselfish.

Real love is raw.
Real love is real.

Real love is vulnerable.

Real love is worth it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Feelings (whoa whoa whoa) Feelings

did the title make you flashback to Barry Manilow?

Record of the broad range of feelings I experienced yesterday (and most everyday, really):

Satisfaction -- actually getting some things checked off my to do list while on Spring Break

Joy -- that I am alive and breathing today

Amusement -- over our three year old's animated personality and funny antics

Anger -- because of the self-centeredness I see in our lives--don't want to be this way and yet we are.

Exhiliration -- when favorite player Yadier Molina hit his career's first grand slam (on opening day, even!)

Pride -- that I even knew and cared about that last bit of baseball trivia

Angst -- trying not to get sucked into our performance driven culture...yet wanting so much for us and our children to give our all for Jesus in this life

Anticipation -- of going out of town at the end of the week!

Frustration -- over the sin in my life and in those areas I feel stuck (ugh!!!)...

Enjoyment -- of the beautiful spring weather

Thankfulness -- for our thoughtful friend who cooked us dinner last night and spent time hanging with our fam

Hopefulness -- this is going to be the day my three year old no longer wears diapers...

Defeat -- " think you could pick up some diapers on your way home?"

Solitude -- as my kids all played outside

Discomfort -- while hobbling through my five mile run after running a race on Saturday...

Rejection/Condemnation -- longing for some relationships to be closer than they are...wondering why they're not and what we are doing wrong...

Acceptance -- thankful that God's love through Jesus is unconditional

Determined -- to not let unfruitful feelings and thoughts have reign in me

Love -- as we played outside last night

Contentment -- snuggling up on the couch with our kids watching an American Girl movie

Amazement -- watching Butler play their heart out

Disappointment -- seeing 'the agony of defeat' displayed all over their faces as they walked off the floor...

Peaceful -- knowing that this world is not my home, and that my hope is in Christ alone