Fall 2013-dark leaves

Monday, August 29, 2011

Truths about Heaven

Our dear friend and God's faithful servant, Dave Hudson, died suddenly this morning.  Other dear friends posted this as their response to the sad news, which they received in the Czech Republic.  It's from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening.  Stink if it isn't so hard to not be with our Birmingham church family right now, but these wise and true words are a great comfort.  Thank you, Annette, for sharing them.

"The glorified weep no more, for all outward causes of grief are gone. There are no broken friendships, nor blighted prospects in heaven. Poverty, famine, peril, persecution, and slander are unknown there. No pain distresses, no thought of death or bereavement saddens. They weep no more, for they are perfectly sanctified. No evil heart of unbelief prompts them to depart from the living God; they are without fault before His throne, and are fully conformed to His image. Well may they cease to mourn who have ceased to sin. They weep no more, because all fear of change is past. They know that they are eternally secure. Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They dwell within a city which shall never be stormed; they bask in a sun which shall never set; they drink of a river which shall never dry; they pluck fruit from a tree which shall never wither. Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity shall not be exhausted, and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessedness shall co-extist with it. They are for ever with the Lord. They weep no more, because every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything which they have not in possession. Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire, will, all the faculties, are completely satisfied; and imperfect as our present ideas are of the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, yet we know enough, by the revelation of the Spirit, that the saints above are supremely blessed. The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fulness of delight, is in them. They bathe themselves in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite beatitude. That same joyful rest remains for us. It may not be far distant. Ere long the weeping willow shall be exchanged for the palm-branch of victory, and sorrow's dewdrops will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss. 'Wherefore comfort one another with these words.'"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grieve to Sobbing

Tonight Brian called four completely separate-crowd friends to touch base briefly, and every single one of them is dealing directly with a dear friend or family member who has or is dying of or just died of cancer.

Grief hurts so much.  And it seems like everywhere we turn, especially in the last hour, days, and weeks, people are mourning and grieving because of cancer.

Now here's a jump in my thoughts, kinda.  It will be good for me to cry, to sob, about it all.  Read what Margie Haack has to say about it in her blog, Toads Drink Coffee.  Here's a snippet:

"I’m still slowly reading a book called The Enigma of Anger by Garret Keizer.  ...A pastor friend, Steve F. from New York, sent me a few of his favorite quotes from the book.

"Here’s one that seemed significant and true to (me and Dennis), from our own and others’ lives we’ve observed:

“'Many of our angry outbursts are the result of grief that never comes to sobbing.' p.113

"As Steve says, 'What will bring our griefs to sobbing? Perhaps when those who have wept already will weep with us, a flow of grace washes away the anger. And having wept our griefs, perhaps we may have the joy of that grace flowing into the lives of others. "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:4)'"

I'm not sure I understand exactly what he's saying.  See, sobbing--grieving for that matter-- is not my tendency.  I'm a tough girl who rests wholly on the truth that God is soverign and that this world is for his glory and my good even if I can't see that in the moment.  I'm a heavy thinker, reasoning my way out of emotion.  I say, "That's funny," instead of laughing out loud.

But tonight I want to cry.  I am angry that this world is so broken.  Sounds like it's a good thing for me to grieve to sobbing that it's not supposed to be this way.  Because it's damn sure not supposed to be this way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Email Love

We periodically get email updates from our "Sunday School" class at our home church in Birmingham.  Sometimes there are prayer requests.  Sometimes it's the slides from that week's class.  It's always interesting though because we don't often know the context behind the email.  This is what came today.  The Lord used it to speak directly to my heart, so I thought I'd pass it on.  Thanks, friends, for keeping us on the email list and sharing the love. :)

Definition of self-love:  The instinct (an innate or inborn impulse, inclination or tendency) by which one's actions are directed to the promotion of one's own welfare or well-being, especially an excessive regard for one's own advantage.

Fenelon (The Seeking Heart):

You are too self-conscious.  You also let your feelings guide you too much.  As soon as prayer stops bringing you deep comfort, you become discouraged.  Do you want to find peace?  Be less infatuated with yourself, and more concerned with pleasing God.
                Self-love will let you become sentimental about yourself and overly concerned with your problems.  You will find yourself spending all your time worrying about your troubles.  Soon all this worry will cloud over the sense of God’s presence in your life, and then you will really be depressed.  Paul said, “I do not judge myself.”  Take his advice and you will do well.  Give God a free reign to work within you, and then don’t spend all your time being introspective.
                God will show you what displeases Him and all you have to do is simply turn away from what is unworthy of your Beloved.  Stop being so taken up with yourself!
                Your old nature wants to be perfect.  It will push you in every way to be an outstanding Christian.  Please avoid this trap.  Simply follow the Lord.  You do not need to see yourself as a wise, strong, and virtuous woman.  Just be a little child.

[Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus]

[23] And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [24] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 ESV)

Maybe I need to go find that book The Seeking Heart?  Sounds really good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh, That's Why!

A while back--if I were a good blogger, I'd have the link here, but alas there is no time--probably over a year ago, I asked the question of myself, "WHY do I stay home with my kids?" There had to be a good reason. Why not send them off to school or daycare and go get an income? Isn't this why I got a degree? Isn't this the exact situation that was the reason I keep my licensure up? I didn't have an answer.

Well, as we approach the beginning of the school year where I will be working (though only p/t) at the school, as well as continuing writing workouts and instructing bootcamp, I feel my stress level rising. There is a gnawing feeling that I'm not going to be able to get all this done, because there will also be soccer practice, church activities, and homework. NOT to mention all the laundry, straightening and cleaning, and cooking for the family. NOT to mention, being able and willing to STOP WHAT I'M DOING and GO TO MY KIDS to help them learn how to love well. Hear my words coming faster and the pitch of my voice rising?

Yesterday was a "mom is pitching a fit and getting angry" day again. It was terrible. The kids picked up on the fun and started the yelling, whining, and griping at each other. But did I stop what I was doing, go to them calmly and kindly and walk them through the correct words and actions? Of course not! There's no time to be kind! There's no time to instruct. Just react.

It's not like I'm running around, working in the house like a maniac either. I'm an avoider and escaper. I took a nap yesterday. But here I am, again, overwhelmed this morning at the thought of all I have to do today.

THE KIDS ARE MY PRIORITY. Raising and training this family to love and serve is my number one job. Our school is definitely going to be super helpful in this. And working there is how they get to go there. And bootcamp pays most of our rent. There's no cutting back. 

All I'm saying is that now I see what the struggle will be this year. And I will appreciate (and mourn the loss of) what I was this summer--a stay-at-home-mom. (no homeschool or daytime work)

Now to find out how to do this well. And pray for mercy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Run or Not To Run?

Fall of 1999 I began training for a half marathon. I'd begun running that spring with two friends in OT school, just 2 miles at a time...then 3...then at some point not long after that, it wasn't worth my time to run if it weren't for an entire hour or longer.  Crazy!  It was always hard, but it was fun to challenge myself to stick to the training schedule.

And that's about the time I met Brian.  If he misrepresented himself as a quick-decision kind of a guy (we met and married in 13 months), I misrepresented myself as a runner.  Because I am not. But at the time, I can see how seemed that I was.

Anyway, I said something the other day about how I'm tempted to take up running again since the weather is cooling off some here (for now) but not really because I hate running.  He sounded surprised; he thought I really liked being a runner.  Yes, I like the idea of being a runner, but don't be deceived: I hate running.  He said, basically, to get over it and run. 

So I am.  Twelve years and four full-term pregnancies later (like that's a real excuse--my baby's 3 1/2), I'm going to start training again.  Last year it snowed for the first time on Thanksgiving Day, so I thought I'd start this week and go till then.  Lo and behold, Hal Higdon has a 12-week schedule for novice runners training for a half, which is exactly the number of weeks between now and Nov. 6, the date of the St. Louis Half Marathon.

Anyone want to join me?  We don't have to run together, just talk about the running we're doing.  And if you're out of town, we have a guest room just waiting for you that weekend!

Yes, I know.  Crazy.  This is crazy.  More later on why I'm doing this.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Washed and Waiting

by Wesley Hill.  Brian is reading it for an ethics class.  I'm reading it so I can understand and love my neighbors well.  However, it's teaching me so much more than I expected when I apply its content to my own sin-tendencies.  Warning--it's wordy and kinda heady.  Work through it--it's worth it.

"Engaging with God and entering the transformative life of the church does not mean we get a kind of "free pass," and unconditional love that leaves us where we are.  Instead, we get a fiercely demanding love, a divine love that will never let us escape from its purifying, renovating, and ulitmately healing grip.

"And this means that our pain--the pain of having our deeply ingrained (sinful) inclinations and desires blocked and confronted by God's demand for purity in the gospel--far from being a sign of our failure to live the life God wants, may actually be the mark of our faithfulness.  We groan in frustration because of our fidelity to the gospel's call.  And though we may miss out in the short run on lives of personal fulfillment (by giving in to the sin), in the long run the cruelest thing that God could do would be to leave us alone with our desires, to spare us the affliction of his refining care.

"'Not only does God in Christ take people as they are: He takes them in order to transform them into what He wants them to be,' writes Andrew Walls.  In light of this, is it any surprise that we (sinners) must experience such a transformation...?"  p. 68

I find this very helpful to persevere and to find joy in a trial, namely that I'll be a sinner till I die.  There IS a point to the struggle.  And God is good to confront me in my sin, thereby bringing on the struggle.  And the fact that I'm struggling should encourage me that I'm fighting that sin.

There's more good stuff where this came from.  Maybe I'll post it.  Maybe you'll have to buy the book.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Then Again...

My epiphanies and initial changes in my parenting started off GREAT last week!  It turns out it was easy because I had half the kids at home, and they are my most compliant kids at that.

Today in the car (after I about snapped in frustration) Brian joked (kinda), "Yeah, forget this grace thing.  Just pop 'em for it all."  It seems twice the number of kids means twice the volume and twice the issues and squared number of relationships to be at odds, which halved the number of my "grace-based parenting" responses.  Or so it seems.

I've even said out loud to the kids, "It's different now!  We're loving each other differently!"  But I'm getting a lot of push-back from this "mom's not going to get angry and pitch a fit" approach.

Kill 'em with kindness.  Heap hot coals on their heads.  I am not responsible for their responses, just mine.  And my heart, not theirs.  I'm their encourager and model.  I can respond to their push-back well.  I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.  Actually, only IN CHRIST I can.  And I will still pop 'em when they just have to have it.

And it IS worth it.  It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance.  The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.  So right now I'm chill.  Totally chill (as I sip on my amaretto sour :)).