Friday, December 5, 2008

Baby Jee-su

Yesterday our girls received a nativity set just for them. The stable, Mary, Joseph (AKA-Jojo), a bale of hay, the donkey and cart (I'm not sure of the biblical accuracy of the cart...), the angel who sings “Away in the Manger” some shepherds, two sheep, and baby Jesus are all there to be strewn across the room and hidden in the couch cushions by the hands of a two-year old and a 9 month old…
To use the toy for purpose we intended, we sat down with our girls and shared the story of Jesus’ birth with them and did our best to focus Emma’s attention on the Baby Jesus. I am certain she got the point.
This morning, as any smart two year old would do, Emma immediately headed for the neatly arranged Nativity set and grabbed the Baby Jesus since she learned of his significance last night. And, as any smart younger sibling would do, Adi immediately knew she needed whatever Emma had in her hand. So, the race around the kitchen table began. A squealing baby wobblingly toddled behind Emma as she screamed, “Emma’s Baby Jee-su, Emma’s Baby Jee-su”. (FYI- Jee-su is pronounced ‘jee-’ as in “Jeep” and ‘-su’ as in “supper”)
Seeing as this all began happening within minutes of my feet hitting the floor, I wasn’t fully awake and ready to proactively parent appropriately. So, the repetitions began…
Emma, that is not YOUR Jee-su, I mean Jesus!”
“You must share the Baby Jesus.”
“Emma, you must share the toys!”
“Adi, watch where you are running…wait, stop running with the plastic spoon…”
“Emma, I said you must share Jesus.”
By this point, I was getting really frustrated because it felt as if the natives were beginning to take over…and so early in the morning. So, out of a moment of parental exasperation, the punishment was handed down.
“Emma, you are in time-out for not sharing Jee-su.”
Tears began flowing when Emma had to give up rights to her new found favorite possession, her cup and her paci for the duration of her time-out sentence. And, since my brain was slowly waking up in the midst of this chaos, I remembered the importance of repeating to the child why she was put in time out. In my pj’s, I got down to her eye level and repeated her offense.
“Emma, you are in time-out for not sharing Jesus.”
And then it hit me. I was punishing my child for not sharing the baby Jesus toy with her little sister. It rattled around in my head again like a big echo. I was punishing my child for not sharing Jesus…

Two minutes later, time-out was over. After a quick reminder to share the baby Jesus with her sister, Emma received her cup and paci back and was allowed to return to playing with the nativity. And, as if it was rehearsed, Gil and I looked up at each other and said, “I wonder what would happen if everyone had to sit in time-out for not sharing Jesus.”

There you go. Another theology lesson learned in a moment of parenting. A reminder to share Baby Jee-su, I mean Jesus, with others…even before breakfast!

What would happen if Jesus was so important to us that he was the first thing we grabbed when we jumped out of bed each morning? What would happen if he was so dear to us that we would risk punishment just so we could love him tenderly? What would happen if we learned from a young age that we must share Jesus?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Wedding Clipping

Last sunday, just like every other sunday, I read through the wedding announcements in the newspaper. One caught my eye. This particular bride had graduated from UVA with her masters degree in communications disorders and had taken a job as the speech-language pathologist for a public school system in Virginia. This statement about her life caught my attention because, according to my plan, this was going to be the path I was going to take after I graduated with my bachelors degree. I was really bothered by the fact that this girl is living the life I chose to walk away from to do fulltime ministry. I was also bothered that I was bothered...

Anyway, I have just been sitting on this and waiting for God to show me something about this. I know I have settled this in my heart and often fight down feelings of missing out of things "I could be doing". I love speech pathology and wonder why God would place such feelings and interests in my life if there was never anything for me to do about it. I also think about the money I could be giving away to others in ministry if I was earning it (by the boatloads) as a speech pathologist. But today God reminded me of something...

Mary worshipped Jesus with something valuable when she poured the perfume all over his feet. She baffled everyone around her because she was so willing to give up an entire lifes wages to Him. She gave up something that was so valuable to her. I am sure it was hard for her to give that up. I am also sure that she questioned, as I often do, why she had given that up to him....not that he didn't deserve that - and more- but because she was human and probably had to fight off the feelings of doubt afterwards. Perhaps it's horrible theology to think about her questions regarding her sacrifice, but I tend to wonder about the humanity and weaknesses of the people from the Bible we hold so high in our eyes. I am pretty sure she dealt with stinging feelings when she needed a little extra cash months and years after that powerful night with Jesus. I am confident that she got tired of explaining to people why she chose to do what she did that night. I bet she found herself shaking her head to erase thoughts of doubt knowing the entire time she had done the right thing for her King. But I am also pretty sure that at the end of the day, she was proud of the move she had made. Each time her needs were met financially or she smelled a frangrance similar to the perfume she spilled out for Jesus, she was absolutely confident she had done the right thing. Mary considered her gift an honor and was pleased to give it away to someone so worthy.

In another moment of poor theological practices, I am pretty sure the stinging feelings I get when my mind wanders to what I could own or give away with a different income could be similar to what Mary felt days and weeks after she worshipped Jesus that night. I am confident that the times I get almost annoyed with people who ask if I will ever use my degree in speech pathology are similar to the times Mary had she was asked to explain why she did what she did to honor Jesus that night. And I know that when I shake loose the selfish thoughts in my head about what I missing out on, I am in the same class of women -even just for a moment- as Mary. Good company I'd say.

So, to the newly engaged couple I read about last week, congrads on the next step in your life! And for the bride-to-be, thanks for filling in for me. Since you took that job, the kids in your county will have a great speech pathologist to help them learn what they need to know. And because you are there, I can be here- doing what God needs me to do. I can sincerely be happy for this new bride and her great life knowing that I am not the only one who has questioned big sacrifices for God. I bet each time Mary passed by a woman wearing a perfume even slightly similar to the one that filled that jar she poured out on Jesus' feet, she soaked up the fragrance deeply. Not so much because she loved the scent, but because it reminded her of her love for Jesus and how much more valuable he is compared to the worth of such desired possessions.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Face

My little Adi is learning to pull up these days. She is even standing alone for a few seconds right now. For the past few weeks now, she has become entranced with my face. Or anyone’s face for that matter. She wants to touch every nook, cranny, wrinkle, and corner of my face. She pulls open my mouth to discover what’s inside. She is curious about it all right now. My little sponge even has learned to turn my cheek so she can get a better view of which ever part she is investigating at the moment. She will work all her might to crawl across the room, over my legs, and into my lap just to look at my face. I often wonder why my hands or feet don’t offer such excitement to her. But again, this makes me think…

How hard must my little one have worked to get to me. I doubt she took into account the obstacles she would face as her little legs and arms quickly squirmed back and forth.
The toys.
The dog.
The big sister.
And the miniature recliner.

What would be our equivalent to her trek across the large living room? What would make us want something so bad that we aren’t even distracted by what’s around us?
The fun things.
The odd & furry things.
The noisy things.
And the comfortable things.

Oh, that my heart would want to work my hardest to get to Jesus and just explore his face. That I would dismiss the distractions around me just to turn his cheek so I can really look into his eyes and discover what he truly looks like. That I would take the time to learn about the wrinkles around his eyes. And that I would continually squirm to keep requesting more of his attention.

Hear O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says, “Your face Lord, I do seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Psalm 27:7-9a (ESV)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Voice

I observed a great little moment recently. I went to pick up my baby daughter from the childcare room at our gym. Above the chaotic hum of a room full of other kids playing, my little 7 month old heard me calling her name. Her back was to me, but she quickly turned her petite little body to face me, and with a smile bigger than her pacifier, she started her mad-dash to crawl to me as fast as she could. All of this happened in just a few short seconds, but this moment will be permanently secured in the file cabinet of my brain.
As a mom, this makes my heart soar. As a Christian, it reminds me of the importance of our ability to hear God’s voice.
Adi was busy playing in the midst of a full room of kids running around. She had so much to keep her attention. But the minute she heard me calling her name, she dropped what she was doing and came running…well crawling actually…to me. She recognized my voice. She heard me call her name. And she responded.
Jesus said that the sheep know his voice and come when he calls. (John 10:26)
How did my little girl become familiar to my voice? She hears me all the time. Ever since her little ears could hear, my voice was there. I bet you can see where I am going with this…
We have the wonderful opportunity to know and hear God’s voice so well we can distinguish it from a crowded, chaotic world. We have the chance to be so familiar to his voice, that our attention can be grabbed despite the distractions that surround us. So, how do we become familiar to God’s voice, just as my little one knows my voice?

We spend time listening to him.
We spend time learning about him.
And we spend time loving him.
Once we can recognize God’s voice above the chaotic hum of our world, let’s take off running...or crawling…to him with a great big, double-dimple smile. Let’s get so used to God calling our names that the fancy games, fun people, and loud noises don’t drown out his voice.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Journals of a Chi Alpha Student

When I look back through the journals I kept as a college student, I find a few reoccurring themes…I’m thankful for school…I’m frustrated with the girls on my hall in my dorm…I wish my campus really knew Christ…I wish I knew what to do with the guy from my church back home or the guy that works in the dining hall with me…and the list goes on and on. But the one statement I find over and over again in my journal from college is “I have learned something new today…”

My college years were a time of learning like I have never experienced before. I learned the difference between dirt and soil in my geology class, someone’s hierarchy of needs in psychology, and how to transcribe just about any language on earth in my phonetics classes. I learned how to balance a checkbook, and then get my miniscule paychecks directly deposited into my checking account so I could find the greatest sales online (then I got packages in my mailbox!). I learned how to write an 8 page paper in a matter of a few hours. And I learned how to fill my calendar with meaningful and meaningless activities. But I think the greatest thing I learned in college- despite all the other priceless lessons- was how to depend on God.

I learned how to depend on God to get me through the next 90 minute class, to walk with me through the upcoming week full of exams, papers, presentations, work schedules, gossiping friends, and invitations to wild weekend parties. My days as a college student were packed with classes, work, Chi Alpha events, meals in the dining hall, favorite TV shows, random road trips, and an occasional couple of hours of homework- and God got me through it all.

The summer before I began college, God showed me that I wasn’t going to school to simply earn a degree- I was going there to be a missionary for four years- my degree was only an added bonus. I was handed the opportunity to live in the same building- side by side- with other women that were dealing with life issues and needed God. The quiet high-schooler that only wanted to be invisible began to burn with a fire inside that could not be quenched. I wanted to let other people know who this God I loved truly was. I felt like an undercover agent with a secret weapon nobody expected me to have.

I never imagined that I would learn so much about this God I thought I knew. I learned that he loved each student on my campus and wanted them to know him. I learned that he hurt when his kids hurt and that he offered healing to those that needed it. And I learned that no matter how much it seemed that I had my life together, I still needed to depend on God for everything. I needed renewal each day (2 Corinthians 4:16) so that I could face the hardships of being a Christian on a secular university campus.

Thankfully, Chi Alpha was there for me. My campus pastors encouraged and taught me how to truly be an ambassador for Christ just as written in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors…”.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I just made butter. Real butter.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Cold Shoulder

Today, the term “cold shoulder” has been redefined for me…

You know you’ve become a mom when you’re ok wearing a t-shirt that’s been used as a snot rag and you’re not squirming your way out of it as soon as possible!

My little girl has had a runny nose today and now the left shoulder of my t-shirt is all gross. It gets even more disgusting…I grabbed a t-shirt out of my closet to lounge in the other evening. I threw it on and walked passed the mirror in my bedroom and noticed I had received the “cold shoulder” the last time I wore that shirt too. My only conclusion as to why it was not already in the laundry is because I was too tired to remember I had been used as a tissue that day as well! The joys of being a mom. ( I can’t believe this makes me smile!)

But you know, the more I think about this whole “cold shoulder” thing, the more I realize that God allows us to give him the “cold shoulder” too. Yes, we all give God the original definition of the “cold shoulder”. But have you ever felt so close to Jesus that you’ve made the shoulder of his t-shirt all gross and snotty? I’ve had hard days that ended with moments with God that were so real I am sure I left his shoulder pretty messy. Times that draw us so near to God that we are able to give him the snotty cold shoulder are tough, but what better place to find yourself than in the arms of Christ. He just lets you cry really hard when you need to.

An old journal entry

April 28, 2008
I know that life sure has gotten complicated even in it’s simplicity of diapers, meals, laundry, and dishes. I am neither settled nor restless. I am neither content with where I am nor longing for something different. My only emotional constant is that there isn’t a constant. Each day is something new and different. I find that I am mostly very happy with my daily routines and are very scattered if a change is thrown into the mix. However, I had weeks or days like I’ve had in the last month or so when nothing feels right. I want so badly to be a good wife and mom, but it feels like so much is hindering my success. Then I kick myself as I realize that my success isn’t dependant on great meals, folded laundry or squeaky clean kids. My success rate isn’t even dependant on perfectly clear communication with my husband. My success rate is only reliant on my heart- which seems is the most difficult thing to keep in check. If my heart is right, then my motives are right. And if my motives are right, then no matter the outcome of the day, all will end ok. I can't give up. I can't allow myself that way out because it isn’t an option. I can just lean down and dig my heels in deeper than I had been and let God do the rest. I can work to be more patient. I can work to not express complaints. I can find places to relieve tensions and stress, finding new solutions to old problems.

I still remain amazed that God continues to use us knowing our failures and weaknesses.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baking Bread

Today I've learned how to make bread!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Push Ups

My husband is doing push-ups in the other room.

A new blog

Taking the first step on a new path is sometimes pretty scary, but here goes! I am jumping into this whole world of blogging a bit later than most, only because I'm forcing myself to. I have felt safe that my journals have been locked away in a password protected file. But now, finally, I am brave enough to write for the whole world to see. Here, perhaps, you will soon find random thoughts, goals, dreams, and prayers that have been rattling around in my head. Let's hope it's cool!