Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Who Is the Woman at the Well?

John chapter 4 is a powerful reminder of the Savior's pursuant heart towards those He has loved and called.  It's a beautiful picture of God meeting us right where we are, in the muck and mire of sin, shame, loneliness.

The Samaritan woman walked to the well in the mid of the day, not because she enjoyed a good work out in the heat, but because she knew her reputation and chose to go at a time when she wouldn't be forced into any awkward social experiences.  This time, a man was there, and He wasn't a Samaritan man.

The fact that He even spoke to her was astounding.  They were of different cultures, classes and genders.  But He didn't just speak to her.  No, He asked her for a drink, and then He offered her living water, full knowing who she was and the reputation and burden of sin that she carried.

He challenged her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." She responded that she had no husband.  He then blew her sandals off by basically saying, "Yeah, no kidding.  You've had five husbands and the guy you are with now isn't even your husband."

Hello, large elephant in the room.

It was at that moment that He dealt with her shame and her sin by calling it immediately out into the open.

Then - He offered her living water.  He called her unto Himself.  Right in the thick of her circumstances, sin, blindness and rebellion, He pursued her!

Miley Cyrus walked onto a stage a few nights ago - whom, may I remind you, was one time a professing believer - and she was very much like that woman at the well.

Our society is different.  Rather than avoid the public due to our sin, we tend to display to the public our sin, but ultimately, her needs are exactly the same.  She needs the Savior.

I watched the performance via youtube when the whole thing went viral.  Judge if you must.  It's not that I'm much of an MTV fan, but I have growing kids who will be soon out of my care in public school and since I know that I will not always be there to shelter them from the world, I need to be informed about the world.  (As well as spiritually armed to inform them and guide them through the world.)

Would I recommend my husband to watch it?  Probably not, but I'm guessing, if he did, he'd find it more disturbing than arousing.  In fact, I'd think most men would.

Would I let my children watch it now? That is a firm no.   Do I condone or approve of her behavior?  Absolutely not.  

I'm sure Jesus didn't approve of it either, but, as He has proven, sin has never been an obstacle to the Savior's pursing of a person.  

The bottom line is - She needs the Lord.  She doesn't need us casting stones at her.  (Though we can eliminate her from our television screens.)  She doesn't need us posting a thousand status updates about how trashy she is.  I doubt that will change her behavior or do anything besides emotionally charge the situation.  No.  What she needs is Jesus.

She needs us to look like Jesus.

She needs the friends and family and mentors she has to stand firm and approach her.

She needs accountability.

And she needs us to pray, on our faces, petitioning the Lord for her.  I may never meet her, our paths likely will never cross, but the God of our universe knows the very innermost part of her being.  He created her and longs for her.

Ultimately - it's not poor ratings or a lost (or blossoming) career, it's not how many write up's she received, it's not even how her parents' reacted to the performance (can you imagine being her dad!?).  No, ultimately she is a soul without a Savior, acting out in such a way that our flesh dictates, and one day she will die.  What happened on that stage the other night will be nothing at that moment.  Without the atoning blood of Jesus Christ one lie would send her to hell.  That performance did nothing extra to damn her (this applies to all of us, for that matter).  She needs Jesus.  Period.

My plea is sincere: while we go to all efforts to guard ourselves from the sin that very well could result from her performance (mimicking behaviors, lust, pornography, etc), could we please do more PRAYING for her than COMPLAINING about her?

If I were her (mortified) mother, I'd pray that people would shut their mouths and hit their knees for my daughter.  I would imagine Jesus might feel the same way, as He sits waiting at the well.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finally Getting to the Bedroom

And it's not what you think.

No.  Really.

We moved in over a year ago now.  In the 14 months or so we've been here, we've rearranged some furniture around, found a decor piece to hang on a wall here or there, and overall, just let it be.

I then realized something:  there were little things that were driving me crazy.  Like crazy, can't take it anymore crazy.   So I decided to compile a list of the crazy and start getting at it, fixing the crazy as cheaply and effectively as possible.  Here was my list:

  • Our kitchen said 'blah'.  We have a larger wish list in the realm of Kitchen dreaming, but I knew the cheap, fast, easy fix to cure the crazy was to put a few items on top of the cabinets, so when you looked into the room you didn't see creamy white walls, a couple of appliances and ugly cabinets.  I spent $4 at the Dollar store for a few glasses, rounded up a bunch of random junk from around the house (aka: a basket, glass milk bottle, a silhoutte of Aaron from when he was a boy, a picture of the kids - ok, that's not junk - and an empty easel that still needs something) and I'm calling that project completed... for now.  

  • Our formal living area had a wall lined with furniture and very empty walls.  Drive me crazy twice! So we got rid of the cedar chest from the room, added two smaller side tables (thanks mil and fil!) and have intentions of getting some large vases with some reeds or something to pull the eye up the wall some... so, we're getting there.  It's the formal for a reason.  

  • The upstairs living is the kids playroom, so obviously it doesn't need 'much', but we had an awesome bean bag (read: HUGE) given to us by the honorary aunt in our lives, and it needed a good, utilizable home.  We moved a large bookshelf that had stored -ahem - junk in that living room, to our bedroom.  (More on that later.)  We inserted aforementioned large bean bag and a small table with a lamp... which resides next to a little window in a little nook = reading nook.  Tada!  (Ok, maybe the proper term would be Leapster Nook... which is what it has been thus far.)  

  • The crazy part?  The only rooms that haven't made me crazy are the kids rooms, because I actually decorated theirs when we moved in.  Granted, B's is better than A's, but we're moving on it.  The sad part... the rooms that made me the most crazy were our bedroom and bathroom.   The bathroom is still majorly on the to - do list... as in, hasn't been touched.  But our bedroom... well, that's what I'm here to tell you about: 

First, we rearranged.  Bed moved from an open wall to in front of the windows.  Usually a big no no, but the room feels so much more even. You walk in and see the room head on.  That's nice.  Second, we have a color of walls that I like (grey) , and we have a bedspread I like (yellow), but I didn't want to get stuck in a yellow and grey rut.  (I have a hard enough time making a decision.  I need the option to change a whole room by changing a couple of accessories, and I don't want to be limited.)  So this was a brainstorming thing for me.  

Then it hit me.  Over a year ago I bought a... well... I'll just say it - I bought an ugly knitted afghan at a thrift store for like $3.00.  I'm not sure what it was that drew my eye to it that day.  I really couldn't stand it much, but something said that, for $3, it may make for good pictures if nothing else.  Since then, it's been about everywhere but on display... until now.  I added that afghan and our zebra striped pillows that were intended for the chairs in our downstairs living (that always end up on the floor) to add some mixed prints to the bed and voila!  I now have the possibility of color in our room!  

So there was color in the middle... and then we moved the previously mentioned bookcase into the room (did I mention our room is insanely large... a blessing and a curse) and added color to that side through the filling of shelves...

Closed the roll top desk (that isn't utilized near as often now that my computer won't technically 'fit' in it any longer).

Replaced a decor item here or there:

And we STILL have a ways to go, namely on the walls.  But I'm fine with that, we are making progress here!  And I enjoy being in our room now!  And, can I tell you a secret?  I've actually been making our bed (which I haven't done since we've lived here because, frankly, I just haven't cared.)  Now, it seems so nice in there, I can't help but make it :)  

I'll update as more comes together!  I have prints ordered for our walls, and we have some holes to fill on the book case.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Will I Leave Them?

Every now and then little flickers of my childhood come to mind, playing much like an old movie reeling out a black and white picture.  It's even a little fuzzy around the edges.

When I think about my childhood I see flickers of fireflies and kick the can.  I feel balmy summer nights, so real I believe I can literally hear the locusts and croaking frogs.  I can feel, and even smell, the air conditioner unit as it kicks on.  Oh, to have the air come from the floor.

I can feel rubbery swings better for flipping on than swinging on, soggy blisters turning into rough callouses from the monkey bars my dad built with his own two hands.  I can smell his lumber yard on his clothing.

It's safe to say that my childhood was simple, but it was good.  I can remember times begging my parents to go someplace, to get out of the house rather than do yard work all day on a perfectly good Saturday.  I can feel the frustration.  I'm a goer by nature.  Yet, I did not feel deprived.

I can remember the paddle ball paddle that became my spanking device.  I can remember my mom's angry voice and her silent treatment that cut to the core when she was upset with me.  Yet, when remembering, these aren't the moments I remember first. 

No, first I remember my mom's fingers running through my hair or swiping it from my face gently.  I remember her rubbing my back when I was tired and her sacrificial rubbing of my shoulders and the soothing sound of her voice when a migraine had me sick.  I remember the security of knowing that, despite 14 + hours on the couch fighting nausea and auras, she was in the other room, not complaining about what she was missing out on, but checking to see if she could make my rag cold again.  I remember sitting on her lap and her complaining about my 'bony butt', but never wanting to get up because I wanted to be close to her.

With my dad, I remember the butterfly kisses given every night before bed.  I feel foolish now, looking back there was definitely a weirdness of affection between my dad and I as I got older.  It was a wall I built, not him.  Those butterfly and eskimo kisses given before bed are a memory I'll forever cherish.  I loved sitting on his lap.  His lap was a place of security, safety, a haven from the world.  When I think about God and dream about seeing Him and being with Him, I dream about crawling up in His lap, being a kid again, sitting with her Abba.

My dad was the strong, quiet type.  He had the wisdom to pick his battles, to stay out of the ones that didn't pertain to him, and to love despite the stubbornness of the women who loved him.  I was the little buddy that was by his side.  Seeing him with Bryton often sends me back to how he interacted with me as a child.  As a parent myself, now, I see that interaction for what it was... I was cherished by that man.
And not many days go by that I don't wonder what it will be that my kids - when they are gone from my home - will long for, will remember with joy, will cherish about the time that they spent in my care. I pray that the memories that I'm making for them allow them to look back at some point and really feel that they were cherished, precious, and important in the lives of their parents.

May this effect my decisions, my priorities, my tone and my attitude as I lead and guide them daily. May HE lead and guide me daily to become the parent that I cannot become on my own.  I only get one shot as I lead them.  May I kiss goodnight - and do it well - may I discipline without harshness - may I rub backs and play with hair and not only expect nothing in return, but ASK for nothing in return.  May my life exude Jesus and what He has done in and through me, so that eventually, I fade to the background and they'll see that they weren't really cherished and loved dearly by a mother, who is by nature sinful, but moreso, they are cherished and loved dearly by their Creator, our God, who at one point used me as a vessel to love them well.

May I love them well.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Return to Neverland

There's been a lot of Peter Pan in this house lately.  Namely, a return to Neverland rather than the primary trip to Neverland itself.  Why?  Here's the mom answer:  we limit TV time in this house and it's short enough to entertain and long enough for me to make a meatloaf.  (That's a slight lie, I very rarely make meatloaf.  Let's say, "long enough for me to make a casserole.")

I don't know that I 'got it' as a kid, but I'm really enjoying Neverland at the moment.  (I'll admit, I've cried at various parts each and every time we've watched it.)  And on a magical night swim with my sweet little man (his first ever with the pool lights on), he pointed up at a star and said, "I bet that's Hook's pirate ship."  I love the imagination, and I love how easy it is for him to believe what he is saying.

Peter Pan has brought a lot to light in my life lately.  The premis in Return to Neverland is simple: Wendy's daughter, Jane, thinks the Peter Pan stories her mother tells her little brother are rubbish.  She goes to bed one night after telling him as much and is then kidnapped in the night by Captain Hook himself, believing she is Wendy.  Of course, he's still trying to get his hands on Peter Pan's treasure. Wendy ends up in Neverland with none other than Peter himself (and the lost boys and Tinkerbell of course), but is more than ready to get home.  Of course, we all know the only way out of Neverland is by flying, and the only way to fly is by (say it with me), "faith, trust and pixie dust!"

Here's where it gets spiritual for me.  (Yes, there is a spiritual analogy coming, hold on to your seats.)  Tinkerbell is more than ready to get Jane back home (jealous little fairy), and she douses Jane with enough pixie dust to make us all sneeze.  Rather than fly, Jane falls straight through the forest overgrowth and hits the forest floor with a famous Disney 'thud'.  (No stars overhead this time.) Jane had the pixie dust but did not have the faith (or the trust).

Over time - Tink's light begins to die (it is implied that Tink herself is dying as well) because of Jane's unbelief.

And as Tinkerbell's light continues to fade, the lightbulb goes on for myself.

Jane had physically seen Tinkerbell.  Not only that, she had seen Tinkerbell's ability to make Peter and the Lost Boys fly, but just because she saw her and what she was capable of, meant nothing in her own life.  The pixie dust wasn't enough.  Jane had to have the faith and trust with the pixie dust.

This brings James 2:19 to my mind, my own paraphrase: "Oh, you believe there's a God?  Great, even the demons in hell believe that, and they tremble."

It also brings to the forefront of my mind Matthew 7:23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"

AKA "But we knew Tinkerbell!  I talked to her!  I saw that she made the others fly! I have heard the stories!  I have seen her dust!"  

So easily we can lose sight of the 'faith' part of... well... faith.  We settle on, "Of course I believe in Jesus," and we believe in what He has done in the lives of others around us... but what has He done in our own lives?  Has He given us the faith to believe?  Do we, in essence, have the faith to fly as opposed to simply the recognizing of His power in the lives of others?

It's amazing the parallels we can see if we look hard enough.  Tinkerbell alone is not enough to fly you out of Neverland... as a belief in God or a 'belief' in Jesus is not enough to bring us into a relationship with Him or to deliver us into His presence upon our dying.  Faith is vital, and faith comes only through Christ.

My prayer would be that we would be given an incredibly firm faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, full of the assurance and joy that is promised to those who love Him.  I also echo the cry of the father in Mark 9:24, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"  

Ephesians 2:8-9 sums it up:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.