Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Summer of Change

This summer is what I am calling our “Summer of Change”

This month, our oldest graduated eighth grade and is now a high schooler.

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We have decided to do a few “home improvements” to spruce up the place. In addition to giving the walls a fresh coat of paint and adding some color, we have also taken down the wallpaper in the kitchen (think 80’s) and are going to add some fresh paint instead. Next summer will be the cabinets (I just don’t have the time this summer to do it all).

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We’re also trying to get a “garden area” ready for some fall planting. Earl and David have built us a retaining wall.

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Emily has started a babysitting job down the street four mornings a week.

Emily and David have volunteered to work at the library this summer, two hours a week, helping with the summer reading program. I dropped them off for their first day this morning.

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Earl and I left the kids alone this past Saturday for 5 hours during the day while we went out with friends.

Yes, the seasons are changing. Our children are growing up. There are “new things” on our plates . . . and it’s all good.

I’m enjoying the ride!

My Son Challenged Me

No. Not in a negative way.

In the BEST of ways.

For the past two mornings, David has gone walking with me in the mornings. He keeps me moving, I tell you. He doesn’t cut me any slack! And our conversations have been so enjoyable. I’m learning things about him that I never knew before.

This morning, I asked him what books he’s been reading lately. (He has a habit of perusing Earl’s office shelves and some shelves we have in our bedroom and asking if he can read this devotional or this doctrinal book, etc.) He told me that he recently finished a book by John MacArthur entitled Twelve Ordinary Men. Without me having to probe further, he told me that it was really interesting and that there was something that he had never thought of before. He then went on to tell me that Matthew (the tax collector) and Simon (the Zealot) were “enemies”. “Mom, the tax collectors worked with the Romans and were hated by the Zealots who were working AGAINST the Romans. And here they were both called by Jesus and following Him. And when Jesus sent them out in groups, Simon and Matthew are recorded as often being grouped together.”

I wanted to stop in my tracks right there and think that one through. The Holy Spirit used my 12 year old son to convict and challenge me with a very simple truth. I asked David if John MacArthur applied that insight to the Church and us “getting along”. He said he didn’t remember him doing that, but boy was that where MY mind was going.

The Church is made up of sinners. Myself, mixed in with a lot of others. There are many with whom I “click” and get along with. And there are those who I really don’t. I tend to excuse myself from having to work through those difficult relationships and instead focus on the ones that are easy. But I now can’t get out of my mind the picture of Matthew and Simon, as opposite as can be, co-followers of Jesus and now working for Him to accomplish His purposes . . . and the Scriptures don’t record any difficult situations between the two of them, that I can remember.

Do I really think it is “impossible” to work with so-and-so? Do I really think that God doesn’t expect that of me? Could it be that that detail is the very thing that will bring Him most glory, not the accomplishment of a certain task or event, but the actual working out of love between two people who are both following Jesus and desire to accomplish His purposes despite their radical differences? Oh . . . I am going to need to think more on this and pray for grace to apply what the Spirit is leading me to see.

And, thank you, my son, for being diligent to pursue wisdom from those who have gone before you and watering the seeds of truth that have been planted, and for sharing with me this morning. I am delighting in the young man that you are becoming!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sick Sundays

How do you handle those Sundays when you have to stay home from church?
Do you complain?
Do you rejoice?
How do you train your children to think about "sick Sundays"?

Today was a "Sick Sunday" for me.
Except I wasn't sick.
And my kids were sick enough to be kept away from others but not sick enough to be kept in bed. That means they had energy and with that came the temptation to think that they could stay home and play. Sometimes, I inwardly rejoice that I "have" to stay home because then I can rest or work on "stuff". But I fight it with the knowledge that it is still Sunday and a day that our family has set aside to worship the Lord in ways that we don't have time for during the week. So, knowing that we all did need rest, but wanting to also feed ourselves spiritually in ways that we don't on other days, we made our plan for the morning.

After we sent off Earl and Emily and David, we turned on the TV to see if there were any "approved" pastors on.
We found one.
So while Jonathan and I ate breakfast (he had just gotten up), we listened to a sermon on Ephesians 5:15-16 . . . "Take care how you walk . . .".
We were challenged to be alert to the opportunities that filled our days.
We are to be alert to
the opportunity to give (John 6:1-14),
the opportunity to serve (Matthew 4:18-22),
the opportunity to learn (Luke 10:38-42),
the opportunity to help others (Luke 5:18-20),
the opportunity to witness (Paul in Athens),
the opportunity to understand who Jesus is (Luke 19:2-4),
and the opportunity to be saved (Mark 10:17).

When it was over, I did let them play a little bit while I cleaned up the kitchen and planned my next move.
"Father, how do we walk out what we've heard? How do we work towards bearing fruit from these seeds of truth that we've heard today? How do we apply this? What do we do with the remaining time this morning?"
About 11 am, I called them all out to the front room and we read through our church's prayer list. Each of us picked one person to write an encouraging note to, as a means of trying to make the most of the opportunity we had this morning to help others, give of our time and energy, and to serve someone else.
Then, while we worked on our cards, we listened to a children's program (which actually ended up to be very moral but had no scriptural reference or spiritual foundation at all).

After lunch, we had an hour of rest.
Now they are up playing quietly, waiting for the others to come home.

"Sick Sundays" can last forever, and the day seems so long, when I'm not allowed to do what my flesh wants to do. But I'm thankful for the vision God granted. And I'm thankful for the many years of building up habits which help me to ward off the temptation to waste the opportunity of "adding to my faith".
Besides, I now have young ones watching me and learning from me. They will take these "attitudes" and "habits" into their own homes in some form or fashion (either following some form of them or abandoning them completely).

Although I would have much preferred to hear my husband preach this morning, I was grateful for what was gleaned anyway (though I didn't agree with everything the pastor said, I did come away with some things I need to think on and pray through for sure).

So, my encouragement to myself and to you . . .
let us pray for much grace
when we can't gather with the Body for one reason or another,
to make the most of the morning,
by giving our time to the Lord,
dying to self,
and seeking to nourish our souls by feasting on His Word
and seeking to apply it in our lives.

May we continue to bear much fruit
for His glory!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Book Review: Daniel's Duck

This is one of our family's favorite authors. His writing for the older crowd can be a bit "ify" as he deals with social issues at times, but we absolutely have loved what he has written for the young folk.

This is a sweet story about a boy named Daniel who lives in the mountains of Tennessee with his mom and dad and older brother. During the long winters, they spend their evenings making things to take to the annual spring fair in town. Daniel is making something for the very first time. His brother is not encouraging to him, but Daniel is proud of what he has made and doesn't hesitate to take it to the fair. He is having a good time looking at all of the other fair items until he realizes that everyone is laughing at what he made. He responds as any normal 7 year old boy would and winds up interacting with a wise adult who helps him to look at the situation a little differently.

Our Jonathan is 6 years old and finished the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" earlier this school year. Since then, he has worked his way through a first grade reader and is now in a second grade reader. He read this book with ease . . . and thoroughly enjoyed it. (I cried the first time I read it.)

You can find this at your library easily. I hope your family enjoys it as much as we have.

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