Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Got Patience?

Wow.

I'm really having difficulty finding the time to keep up with this thing.

Maybe it's part poor time management and part just sooooo much to do!!! Maybe I'll get it all figured out one day...but I doubt it!

Still, life is grand, ain't it? I mean, seriously, on the night that I was going to write about "patience", I totally lost it with the kids!!! Jason was gone for the weekend, and we'd had a pretty "good" day (especially when you consider that we all went grocery shopping in a very busy Wal-Mart...which is a hateful experience even when I'm by myself).

So, that night, the kids were being hyper-maniacs. I was trying to get them settled for bed, when BAM!!! I heard a bedroom door slam. That usually is enough, all by itself, to get me fired up, because I have this thing about people slamming doors. Anyway, what made it worse this time is that just as it was being slammed, I happened to look that way just in time to see Jacob barely getting his hand out of way.

I lost it.

I think I scared the kids to death, because they had nowhere to go. Daddy wasn't home. Mimi and Poppy were gone. It was just Mommy and her blaring vocal chords, spewing accusations and threats.

I didn't hit them, or cause them physical harm in any way, but it was the type of rant that made me want to go to my room and cry when I was finished. I'm pretty sure I did.

I also apologized to the kids later, and of course they were, as kids always are, very forgiving.

I'm so thankful that God's forbearance is much greater than mine. He is so patient with me. I mess up over and over again. I play hostess to spiritual pride, self-pity and bitterness. I am prone to wander away from what I know is the truth. I am at times ungrateful and selfish. I am worthy of nothing that I have.

Still, He is patient with me when I complain to Him. He gently reveals to me my misguided behavior and persistently shows me the correction I need.

I really want to be the kind of mother to my kids that my Father is to me!! I'm a work in progress, I know, and I'm glad that He sees me through the blood of His Son.

When I think of the love I have for my kids, even when their behavior is at its worst, I know that I'm just starting to scratch the surface of the love that my Father has for me.

Psalm 103:8-9, 13-14

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness
He will not always strive with us
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
Just as a father has compassion on his children
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him
For He Himself knows our frame
He is mindful that we are but dust.

Thank You, Lord.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fruit of the Day--Joy

Joy.

This picture brings me joy.


Being with my family brings me joy.

My friends bring me joy.

My husband brings me joy.

The fact that Jacob has gone three days with no "accidents" brings me joy.

I felt joy when Ashlyn encouraged me to do my morning Bible study again today.

I felt joy when she wanted to sit next to me with her Bible too!

I felt joy when Emily told me she wanted to be a rock star who worships God. :)

But, if all of those things were taken away, would I still have joy? I believe that many times we confuse true joy with mere happiness. So, what is the difference?

Happiness exists when something good happens, or when life is going well. When a person has true joy, it exists even when things are not always good. There is only one place from where true joy comes, and that is from the Giver of all good things: God.

When I realize that He is my true source of joy, I can feel it even when things aren't going all that great. I sometimes have to intentionally plug into that resource, lest I become overwhelmed by the uncertainty of my circumstances, but His abundant flow is available to me at all times. The enemy would like nothing better than to steal away our joy, especially during times when we are vulnerable, like when we are going through a difficult time. But God's Word is full of promises, including several on joy.

Jesus said in John 16:22, "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." We can believe that when we find our joy in a relationship with Him, our suffering on this earth will one day be turned to everlasting joy.

Real joy is deeper than happiness. Happiness can fade, but true joy will last. And when we walk in the Spirit instead of our flesh, divine joy will be evident in our lives and others will hopefully be drawn to Jesus as a result.

I dare say that everyone experiences happiness to some degree, but only those who know the hope of Christ ever experience true joy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank You Veterans!

In honor of Veteran's Day, the kids sang this song at a senior adult luncheon. I just couldn't resist sharing it!!

The girls were very nervous, but I was proud of them for getting up there! Make sure to notice how Jake NEVER misses the word "up" in the chorus.

To all of the veterans out there...thank you!!!!!!

Hope you enjoy the video...
video

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fruit of the Day--Love


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

We have a thing at our house called the Fruit of the Day, and it has nothing to do with apples and bananas.

A couple of years ago I started this with the kids in an attempt to teach them about the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5. It caught on very well, and the kids really enjoy it. For instance, if the fruit of the day is love, then we try to be aware all day of showing love to one another. The next day the fruit of the day would be joy, and we try to think of ways that we can bring joy or feel joy even in difficult circumstances. It's a great way to become aware of what it means to let God's Spirit rule our lives. Over the past few months we have gotten away from doing this every day, but lately it has resurfaced and I have started to be intentional with it again.

So, as I was thinking about it, I thought I might do a few posts on the passage in Galatians 5, starting, of course, with love!

So, what does it mean to love others God's way? If you're like me, then sometimes you choose to conveniently ignore some of the most basic Biblical principles about love. Here's an example: say you have been hurt by someone and have a legitimate right to be angry. It's easy enough for you to just forget about trying to mend the relationship, and you may feel like that's okay because you have been wounded and have a right to hold a grudge. You are the victim, right?

But consider Jesus' words, found in Luke 6:32: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them." And verse 35, "But love your enemies, and do good...and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." Loving in God's way means loving even those who have shown no love to us. It means loving, even when there is no return.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:9 to "Let love be without hypocrisy." That means that we must love for the right reasons, not for self-centered reasons. The only way that we can accomplish this is by daily denying ourselves and LOVING the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, because when we truly do that, then we relinquish our RIGHTS to His power, and then He enables us to love even those who seem unlovable to us. Make sense?

We also need not forget that Jesus said to not only love Him wholeheartedly, but to love others as we love ourselves. He didn't suggest this as a way to live, He hailed it as the greatest of all commandments. We must love the way He wants us to love, and that includes the ultimate display of love--forgiveness.

I really struggle with this in a couple of areas of my life. It's extremely difficult sometimes to show love in the way God commands. But, if I truly want to live by the Spirit (and not my flesh), I have to learn to give up my "rights" and love Him with my whole being. I trust Him enough to know that when I do that, His love will infiltrate my life and spill over to others as well. It is not easy to let go, is it? But I have found that taking it one choice at a time, and praying for His strength seems to make it much less daunting.

Never forget that when we choose to follow His ways, He promises to hold our hand and give us the strength we need. The next time you are faced with a choice to either harbor a grudge or let go and love, choose the way that He commands. You will find freedom, release, and your life will beautifully exhibit the fruit of living by God's Spirit.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A "Public" Thank You



Disclaimer: I normally would never ever ever ever choose to post a picture of myself in a hospital gown more than once, except this was the only picture that I had of myself with Dad and Evan. :)

I am finally feeling well after a very rough week of "healing". To make a long story very short, I now know that I am severely allergic to a particular adhesive which was used on me before I left the hospital. In short, it was pretty miserable for several days there, but I am much better now. I feel like I'm sort of getting back into life again, which basically means that I am able to move around and do such glamorous tasks such as go to Wal-Mart, wash dishes, teach school and clean house. It's ironic to me that doing those things now actually makes me feel better. I guess I thrive on some sort of normalcy (whatever that is for me now). :)

However, as difficult as those few days were, it would have been a lot harder if it hadn't been for the great help that I had.

Of course, Jason is always a wonderful help and very supportive.

And we are so thankful for the wonderful meals that have been prepared for us by several friends and family members.

But, I wanted to "publicly" thank my Mom and Dad for all they have done for me over the last two or three weeks. From watching the kids while we were at the hospital, to cleaning my house while I sat and held my newborn, my parents have been invaluable to me. Jake has bonded with Poppy (my dad), while Mom has driven me to my unplanned doctor's appointments and spent many hours at my house folding my laundry, washing my dishes and taking care of my other three kids while Jason was working. This allowed me to rest and heal and spend time with Evan, knowing that we were all in good hands.

Several mornings, Mom came down to the house very early to fix breakfast for the family, just so I could sleep. And all of this is on top of the already great things they have done for me in the past, like teaching me the value of loving and living for Christ, just to name one.

When I thanked my Mom the other day for all the support and help, she replied to me, "That's what parents do, Amy. They take care of their children."

I would only add one word to that statement: that's what good parents do.

I thank God for my very good parents.

And to you, Mom and Dad, I also say "thanks"-- for what you do for me and my family, and for teaching me how to be a good parent. I love you!