Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time to do some gardening!

Ivan walked up to my desk with a huge leaf. After some short inquiry, Ivan explains that due to the rain, a huge weed had grown up in his garden next to all the things he has planted. So I asked him, “Ivan, did you pull that big weed?” And he said, “I was going to, but I decided it was too big to just pull out.”
When asked what was going to happen to the other good things in his garden, he responded: “It’s not close to my other plants; I dug it up and planted it further away.”

As Ivan relayed the story of his weed to me, it caused me to begin to think about life and the things we plant in our garden. We choose to plant all this wonderful stuff in our lives, the fruit of the Spirit shall we say… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. What a beautiful looking garden that can be easily infested with the smallest weed. Let’s call it selfish ambition. No one thinks too much of it, but before you know it, it grows into something bigger: dissensions and factions. (Ephesians 5)

I find myself sometimes seeing my weeds like Ivan… it’s too big to just throw away. Instead I’ll dig it up and plant it a little further from the good things in my garden and somehow expect it to never infiltrate. What a lie I have fed myself. Just dig it up and get rid of it already. I want only good things in my garden, the fruit of the Spirit. So, I’m choosing to let Jesus dig up that selfishness that loves to loom in my heart and replace it with this command: Love your neighbor as yourself. Instead of looking out for my own interests, Jesus is asking me to look out for the interests of others. I think it’s time to get the shovel.

Friday, May 20, 2011

If only...

Wide-eyed and anxious to get their hands on everything, their teacher once again reminds them that they need to keep their hands behind their backs and off the art. Noemi whispers to her fellow second grader, "I can't wait until we can do that in 6th grade!"
Watching them roam the halls carefully analyzing each work of art done by an older and "wiser" child from the school is intoxicating. The pre-kinders look at the 1st graders as if they have a corner on the "school market"... they are at DESKS in their classrooms, learning how to read and write. The second graders look at the sixth graders like rock stars who get to be in the "middle school hallway" and change classrooms during the day! And should we even talk about the eighth graders? They're as close to grown up as they come!
I can look back on my own childhood and the millions of times in my life I thought "If only..." If only I was older and wise... My life will be complete when I can finally DRIVE.
Then it was, I can be in control and do whatever I want as soon as I'm out of college and have my own job. I really did think I would be grown up and "cool" when I turned 25, but somehow the "cool" stage was always just out of my reach.
Is contentment always just out of reach? If only I was bigger, if only I was smaller... if only I had more money, if only I had less responsibilities... if only I had kids, if only I didn't... if only life was just so, I would be content, happy and whole. But would we really? Or would we all just be like that little pre-kinder desperately wanting to sit in a big girl desk learning to read and write? So what's the secret to being content? "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." -our good friend Paul.
I feel like this is a lesson that Jesus is drilling in my head right now. I am not content because I'm at the perfect place in life or have all my needs met. I am not content because I have the perfect husband or the perfect job. I am learning what it means to be content when all those things are true or the furthest thing from, not because of the circumstance but because of Jesus. So next time I am tempted to say: I wish I were... I pray that the Lord stops me in my tracks and reminds me that I am where he has placed me for His reasons... and I will choose to be content.

Monday, May 16, 2011

God spoke to me through a 3rd grader...

The concept of grace has never been a struggle for me in thinking that Jesus SAVED me while I was still a sinner, but through a speaker this weekend, I came face to face with my real struggle. Not only am I saved by grace, I am kept by his grace. I'm not saying that I was worried about my salvation and wondering if I were good enough to keep my salvation, by no means. I understand fully that his grace keeps me saved, but does his grace keep me right with him?
I live a preformance based Christianity... I do right because I know it is right and thats what God wants from me. And somehow if I am having my time with the Lord, if I pray, if I do what I'm supposed to, me and God are tight. If I don't, we are not tight and I feel far away. But is that really how grace works? Romans says "While we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." God knew what kind of state that I was in and even after he has saved me, MY righteousness still does not set me right before God... it is STILL by God's grace.
The speaker I heard this weekend said that sanctification is just swimming in the pool of your justification. I have been made right by the blood of Christ, but for some reason I don't SWIM in that, I beat myself up with little "good things" that somehow I think will please a holy God.
So today, a kid named Jose as sitting at the bench. When I asked him what happened he said, "I got mad." When I asked why, he said, "Because I missed one on my phonograms." One. And I began to think, this is me. I do not allow grace to be extended to me. I extend it to others and I let Jesus extend it to them, but somehow I think I need to be perfect. I am still trying to figure out how exactly I swim in my justification... but I think it means that I just jump in and let Jesus' grace cover me: good, bad and ugly.
Good thing he sent that 3rd grader to convict me of my lack of grace on myself.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My mom...

I've started this blog a dozen times and find myself stuck in how to describe this woman. She is strong; there is no doubt about it. She has bested lock-ins, camp outs, and mission trips all with child in tow. She is godly. Her love for the Lord seeps out of every pore in her body. As children we could not help but hear her pray, watch her read the Word and be encouraged to do the same. She is loving.
Friends would choose our house because of her hospitality and love for each person who walked through our front door. People would fall asleep on our couch because she made our home a house of peace and rest. She is feisty yet gentle. She is gracious yet firm. She is the woman who taught me how to tie my shoe and how to know the Savior.
This is my mom. Without her I would not be the woman I am today. I tell her this every mother's day, but the older I get the more true it becomes. She has taught me how to love deeply, pray hard and give my all.
Thanks mom for not only telling me how to be a godly wife and mom, but showing me. I will forever be in your debt.
This is my mom... my hero.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bad mood days...

The buzz of the alarm jolted me out of the horrible nightmare, but not out of my fright. I was scared and trying so desperately not to drift off once more. That was how the day started, but it was only the beginning. At work, I made stupid mistakes of calling classrooms during testing and messing up the copier. I couldn't wait for the day to be over; I was in a bad mood. Rolling into the house should have felt like sweet release, but I was still bothered. By what, I still can't really put my finger on it. A warm relaxing bath and crawling into bed seemed to do the trick as I closed my eyes on a bad day.
This morning I woke up to an email from my mom in Asia. She too disclosed all the difficulties of her week, including but not limited to: a horrible Asian haircut, terrible cold and getting her camera stolen. But guess what? My mom was trying to be "content in all situations." I thought that reading my mom's email would help me to be more positive today and if nothing else it sure started my day out on a good laugh!
Driving in traffic and little irritations of the morning made me think, I cannot have another day like yesterday.
As I sat at my desk, my mind wandered to the Psalm I read last night, I let my brain focus in on this part of 139:
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

He is here with me and therefore I have everything I need. I felt Jesus nudging me to tell our maintenance guy that he was doing a great job cleaning the floor. A smile crossed his lips as he thanked me. Then I felt Jesus pushing me to tell one of our other staff members that she was doing a good job and she said: Is it that obvious that I'm not doing well? I told her I had no idea, but obviously Jesus knew.
As I sat down at my desk after those two experiences, I realized something, my bad mood had lifted. Jesus' Word and encouraging those around me had made me stop looking at ME... and that made all the difference.