Wednesday, October 30, 2013

When the World Knocks at Your Door.....Again!!

This post was written back in 2010, back when I was dating (not even engaged!) and living at home. Even though it's a couple years old, I think it's worth sharing again! Now I'm a wife and mom, and the hubs and I have chosen not to have our family celebrate Halloween. At the same time, we are more than willing to engage those who do! This year we're looking forward to passing out tracks and invites to our church along with bags of candy for anyone who comes to our door. And of course I plan to snag some sweet treats for myself. ;-) Buckle your seat belts, guys; you're in for a wild, perspective-changing ride!!


I don't celebrate Halloween. Just thought I'd get that out there from the beginning.

My parents never had my siblings and I celebrate it at all growing up, and now that I'm older and making my own decisions and developing my own convictions based on the Word, I also choose to not celebrate Halloween. Wait, wait, I know what you're thinking! That I'm one of those judgmental Christians who seeks to impose my beliefs on everyone around me, whether or not they have the same convictions. Nope! That's not me. I definitely believe that it is every believer's responsibility to make decisions on everything they do based upon what God says in His Word and the convictions He has placed on them, not do stuff because everyone else does (or doesn't do it, for that matter!). I know several Christians who are strong in their walk and feel complete freedom to celebrate this day. I know others who literally start preaching against it the moment October 1st hits. Either way, each person has their stance, and it just so happens that this is how God has led me personally.

When the siblings and I were younger, my parents would put a sign on our door every Halloween asking people not to knock....I mean, that's way easier then getting up and down to answer the door only to disappoint people when you don't have candy to offer! We would pop popcorn and watch movies, or sometimes go to a church event, you know, one of those Fall Festivals that get put on with games and snacks and whatnot. There was always an alternative to celebrating Halloween, and looking back I appreciate that.

Recently my thinking was challenged about the celebration of this holiday. Sadly, I don't remember the pastor who said it, or his exact words, but this was the basic idea. As Christians, we are constantly seeking out people, going out of our way to share the gospel and to reach out to people. Many times we'll get more rejections than people accepting Christ! But on this one day out of the year, we actually have people coming TO us, of their own accord! What better opportunity to reach out to both kids and adults (oh, and teens too!) with the hope we have in Christ?

Granted, this isn't to create an open door policy that allows us to put ourselves into situations that would compromise our testimony for the sake of "sharing Christ." Obviously we are to use wisdom and only operate under the Spirit's leading! But I think, especially now that I'm older (yeah I know, all 21 years of my life haha), and now that I've actually developed a conviction about this, I can move in the direction of not shutting people out who think/believe differently than me, but instead I can be looking for ways to reach out and show Christ's love to the very people who are reaching out to me! And who knows, maybe it wouldn't hurt to share Christ with some candy! Disclaimer:  I'm sure it would be harder for a family with small children who doesn't celebrate Halloween to constantly have their door opening and closing with the intention of sharing Christ with the people asking for candy, but the kids not fully grasping the gravity of what's happening (i.e., all they know is that other kids are getting to dress up in cool costumes and go door to door for candy, but they can't.). So again, use discernment, and stand firm in whatever conviction the Lord leads you to from His Word!

I certainly don't condemn those who disagree with me. That's not the point of this post! I simply know that I want to take advantage of every opportunity provided to me to share the love of Christ with the people around me. Every day. Including October 31st.

Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

Photos courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sometimes I hate my job

I had to seriously give myself a pep talk to do the dishes today. If there is one chore that is seriously just that--a CHORE--it's doing the dishes. UGH.
I just stormed away from the dishes in my kitchen. Well, I stormed to the fridge, poured myself a drink (cranberry juice, nothing fermented, though I probably would've drank some if I had it), grabbed some Oreos, and plopped onto the couch and watched some chef on the Food Network make her family dinner. UGH. Dishes are clearly a common issue with me, given that those first lines up there (yeah, did you read those?) were written days ago. But as dishes go, they always come back, always... And. It. SUCKS.

I've been having a pretty sucky day over all, as I did yesterday. I've been battling the same emotions again, the internal struggle of whether my worth outside the home would be greater than if I stayed here. Looking at my baby girl, I can't imagine leaving her, but this rut I keep getting stuck in is pretty miserable. I'm sure there are other moms who understand. (I hope...) I saw this commercial on tv that said something ridiculous like "When you're doing what you love, it's not work at all." I call bull-crap. *bleep*bleep*!! Lol. (Yeah, that kinda day.) Because I love being a mom, seriously!! But heck if it isn't work every single day. (Whew, this venting feels good! I actually just smiled.) And since this stay at home mom thing is a JOB, I still gotta do the dishes. *grumble*grumble*grumble* Oh, and what made things worse? I had just posted a quote above my kitchen sink, and my husband joking about it the night before over a sink full of dishes did not make my mood any better. Here's the quote:
How's that for some conviction for ya? Grrrr...
So after I finished my juice and Oreos on the couch and glared at the woman on the screen making the perfectly prepared and "oh so easy" dinner for her family, I picked up my phone and scrolled through Facebook. (You thought I was going to say I called someone, didn't you? Can I just say that social media is so pro-procrastination?!). I came across an incredibly timely post that dealt with this ongoing problem I've been having with disciplining myself. It made me simmer down a bit about my overall apathy towards my "job" as it reminded me Who I'm ultimately serving and why discipline and self-control are important. Then I got a text from a friend literally at the EXACT MOMENT I was pounding away at these keys, venting in this post. It was a link to a post from desiringgod called Don't Give Up. I saw the title in the url and immediately started crying. There it was. There was my confirmation that the Lord was not just hearing me, He was listening to me and responding to me and present with me and how incredible is that!?! Even when I'm angry and responding in my sinful way, and discouraged and hopeless and feeling like there is no way I could keep at this job, the Lord reminded me and encouraged me through His Word at just the right time that there is hope, and not to give up. So. thankful.

I can't say I'm disciplined yet or that in the one day that's passed (I wrote this post yesterday) that I always want to do the things that need to get done. I can't say when I do get stuff done I'm always doing it gladly as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23-24), but I am so glad that sanctification is a process. Every day there are new mercies (Lam. 3:22-23) and every day the Lord has been providing me with more grace (James 4:6).  Glory to Him!

Dishes are just a small part of my full time job and though in the grand scheme of things it seems to be so minor, I know my reaction to them shows the overall (bad, sinful) attitude of my heart towards this role God has placed me in. I wince just writing that, but I know that once I recognize it and surrender it to the Lord, He can then mold me into the vessel (wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, human) He desires for me to look like, because what I am now is clearly not it. I'd much rather be soft clay in the hands of God than a hardened piece that has to be broken and broken again in order to take the form He desires and that brings Him the most glory.

Well, now my baby is screaming at me, and I can only assume that her attempts to unplug the laptop are her attempt to get my full attention. Time to get back to work.
I didn't write this, and I don't know who did, but I am definitely putting THIS above my sink!! The other quote will have to find a new home. :-)

Verses and Quotes for Conviction and Encouragement

 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving.
-Colossians 3:23-24

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
-Lamentations 3:22-23

But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, 
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
-James 4:6

This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offereing I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done glady, if done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.
-Elisabeth Elliot

Song that Encouraged Me!
 This one's a throwback!! I love how this song reminds me that no matter where we are in the world, in our life, that God is the one who in His sovereignty, put us there! And instead of lamenting that fact we should be trying to align ourselves with His plan!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

When I burp you, I burp, too

Before having Naomi I really had no baby experience. I have four younger siblings, but my older sister, who I fondly call Hermanita (despite the fact that she's 4 years older than me), typically took charge in assisting my parents in their (our) care. So this whole parenthood deal has really been learning as I go. Enter the burping phenomena....

Those first couple months were definitely a struggle to find a balance of how much Naomi could eat before she had to burp to keep her from being fussy and uncomfortable for the rest of the day. There were times I would sit for what seemed like hours and just be patting, patting, patting her on the back. I'd lay her across my lap, have her on my shoulder, put her in a sitting position, lay her on her tummy, pat-pat-patting the entire time. It was exhausting, to be honest, because by the time I was able to get a little gas out of her little tummy, she'd be ready to eat all over again. Made for long days, that's for sure. Other times, she'd be happily eating away, not putting up a fuss, and with one pat on the back she'd let out a ginormous man-burp. Great, right? Nope, because up with the gas came all the food I just fed her. And then she'd be hungry again, and I'd be sad. Can a mama catch a break?

Why do all the mamas in the Google Images of burping children have happy faces? I, for one, am typically tired and maybe even a little sad when I have to go through all these burping positions. Lol. #firsttimemamadrama
Here's a fun fact for ya: over half the time when I burp Naomi, I end up burping as well. The majority of the times when that happens, I'll burp first. Do you know how frustrated that used to make me?? Here I am at the crack of dawn or the middle of the night or even midday, typically wishing I could just close my eyes for a few minutes of sleep. Instead, I'm trying to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of getting a gas bubble out of my little one's tummy, and instead of that happening for her, it happens to me. I DON'T NEED TO BURP!!! I mean, really! She's the one who'll be crying and fussing and wriggling and making me feel like a failing mom if she doesn't adequately burp. Not me! I'm just fine burping her without burping myself, thank you very much.

I remember the first time the Lord showed me the spiritual lesson in this situation. I was sitting on my bed, sleepy (typical), and just so. freakin. tired. of working so hard to get the results out of my baby that I knew would make the day go much better. Then here I go, burping, when as far as I knew, I wasn't even gassy; Naomi was!

So often in life I will work hard and seek results out of other people. I'll see something in them that could use adjustment--character, attitude, whatever--and I'll put all my energy and good intentions into changing them for the better. More often than not when this is the case, I'll find out along the way that while I'm trying to do a work in someone else, the Lord is more importantly trying to do a work in me. For example, and of course this is purely hypothetical, hehe, there may be things about my husband--mannerisms or actions--that I am just certain that if I just work my wifely magic, I can change him and then things would be better in our home. There are friends I might pursue and begin going to work on them to make them into better people or better Christians, knowing that if I just do this, they'll be all better and the world would be better because of my actions. It can apply to so much more! Siblings, parents, coworkers--it doesn't matter who.

See, here's the problem with this mindset; it's rooted in pride! We've all heard (or maybe you haven't?) that saying of "always at the center of pride is I". I am going to do this, this, and this, so that I can change this person, so that I can make things better. I am going to nag and complain and pursue and push to make things happen so that I can make the point that my way is indeed the best way. I am going to.... you fill in the blank from here! All along God is showing me, no, you may be trying to do this your way, but I am going to do a work in you first. You see, it isn't always that the things that we are doing or trying to change or make better are wrong. Is it wrong for me to want my friend to recognize where's she's strayed from the Lord and to turn back to Him? No, of course not! The issue arises when I become so consumed with her issues and problems that I forget about my own. My lack of humility and lack of awareness of my own need of grace leads to the Lord causing me to "burp first." He first does a work in me, and in doing so, perhaps then He does a work in someone else.

I am happy to say that burping Naomi has become much easier as the months have passed. She's much more adept at burping on her own, which definitely saves me some time and energy, and definitely some bibs. I really do believe that the Lord used this basic of parenting to open my eyes to my need of His work in me before I focus on someone else.