Friday, January 29, 2010

Every Hour

"Mom, can you tie my shoes?" "Mom, she hit me!" "Will you help me, Mom?" At times it seems I am in constant need - with 4 children there's always something to do, clean, wash, read... My husband has needs as well, and there's my extended family, church family, MOPS group, and on and on. If you're a woman I'm sure you understand! We are constantly in need and at times it seems like it's a never ending process. Every hour of the day we are in high demand and with a newborn it extends into the night as well.

The other night I was thinking about all I have to do and the many roles I play. I know God is leading me to cut back, I just need to discern where. Over the last year I've added a few new roles, but really haven't given any up and I'm beginning to feel the effects of my plate being full.

I shared some of my thoughts with my husband and after listening to me share how I was needed, he asked, "What do you need?" The question hit me and I've pondered it ever since. I've had a few possible answers come to mind - a maid, T-I-M-E, a break, chocolate, a day away, an uninterrupted talk with a friend, but as these ideas crossed my mind I heard a song in my head.

"I need thee every hour" were the words I heard and suddenly my train of thought turned in a whole new direction. I thought specifically of all the many ways and numerous times my kids need me and really it is no different with my heavenly Father. I need HIM! They need me in joy and pain just like I need Him.

As I thought about this things went a bit deeper and I realize just like my kids depend on me, I too must depend on someone. Perhaps at times I'm depending on the wrong person and occasionally the wrong thing. It can be tempting and easy to think I can do it and rely on my own strength, but that is such a lie.

The Bible does tell me I can do all things, but Paul includes a critical clarifier "through Christ who strengthens me!" (Phil. 4:13) I understood this verse before and believed it too, but this week God's reminding me of the truth it holds. On my own I can do somethings, even good ones, but it's Christ's strength that sustains!

Daily, even every hour, He can fill my needs and as He does that for me I can do the same for others.

The song on my heart today, pray it's on yours as well...

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby
Temptations lose their power
When Thou art nigh

I need thee, oh, I need thee, every hour I need Thee
I need thee, I need thee, I need Thee every hour

I need Thee every hour in joy or pain
Come quickly and abide or life is in vain
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee, every hour I need Thee
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour

Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee
Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee
I need Thee every hour, teach me Thy will
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee
Oh I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour
I need Thee, I need Thee, I need Thee every hour

Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rise and Shine Take 2!

This past October I was blessed to be part of the Rise and Shine Women's Retreat! And I'm excited to be part of it again! God has been leading us as a team to move forward and we are! Plans are in the works, the date has been set and a speaker booked!

Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 30 and plan to be in Cedar Falls, IA! We are praying God will touch the hearts and bless the lives of those who attend! Lysa TerKeurst, from Proverbs 31 will be our keynote speaker!

More details to come, so check back soon!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Cry for Help

Awhile back I heard my son desperately cry out, “Mom!!” I stopped what I was doing and followed the sound. When I arrived I saw this -

Mr. J.D. had folded himself up in a chair! The look on his face was save me, but I surveyed the situation and knew he wasn’t hurt, so I opted for a quick photo shoot! After a couple of snaps, I answered his original cry and helped remove his little body from the chair.

I asked what he was doing and like most 6 year old boys who find themselves in a precarious situation he answered, “I don’t know.” And in all honesty it’s probably a question I don’t need to know the answer to, but it’s a picture that’s been etched in my mind. First of all because it makes me laugh - not too often can I get this little man to stand still!! But it’s stayed with me for another reason as well…

This isn’t the first time that J.D. has gotten himself into a bit of a mess and though I’ve never folded myself up in a chair it’s true the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My inability to think ahead or my tendency to act out of impulse has left me stuck before as well. Perhaps not so much physically, but mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.

And what do I do in moments like that? Send out a cry for help! As a woman in my 30’s it’s no longer, “MOM!”, no instead it’s “Lord!” I may not use the same volume as my son, but my Father can hear the cry of my heart even when there is no noise. And just like my son trusted me to provide and offer assistance in his time of need, I know my heavenly Father will do the same.

As I think about that I recall my response when I saw J.D. - I laughed, shook my head and wondered, what was he thinking? Now as I see the similarity between my son’s cry for help and that of my own, I wonder how often has God laughed, shook his head and wondered what I was thinking!!!

Perhaps that’s another question I don’t want to know the answer too! So rather than focusing on that I will be grateful that God is a Father who helps regardless of my need and I’m thankful He’s helping me be a parent that does the same.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My new favorite quote...

I've always been one to enjoy and remember motivational quotes and stories. I appreciated this ability as an athlete and then later as a coach, but recently I have thought about how this benefits my faith life as well!

My new favorite quote comes from a place I least expected, but still I'm thankful for the wonderful words. This Christmas my daughter received a few new books and we've enjoyed reading them together. I'm not sure if any of them have become her favorite, but one of them has made it to the top of my list!

There are some of my kids books that I could probably read backwards and up-side down and even a few that at the sight of them make me think, not that again. I have a feeling I will never say that about A Parable about the King by Beth Moore. It was on these pages, ones intended for a young child, that I have found my new favorite quote.

In the story the main character's father, the king, says to her, "You are mine, and you will never be happy until you accept both the privilege and responsibility that goes with belonging to me." I read those words and felt the book was for me!

It is true - God is the King and more than that He is my Father! If I want to experience happiness and truly have joy I have a choice to make. I must accept the privilege and responsibility that goes with belonging to Him. If you take some time and think about that the wheels can really turn.

Ask yourself, "Do I live as a daughter of the King?" "Do I understand the privilege it is to be His child?" "Do I accept the responsibility that comes with the role?"

I don't know what your answers are, but at times I know my answers aren't necessarily what I like to hear. Which means at times my life, actions and thoughts aren't what my Father, the King, likes to see and hear. At times I know it can be easier to understand the privilege side of things, but occasionally even that can be a struggle. Like those moments when I fall short on the responsibility side; then I can feel unworthy and like I don't deserve to call myself a daughter of the King. But I'm grateful that just like the character in the story, my Father is also forgiving and welcomes me back with open loving arms.

And even that forgiveness is part of the privilege of being His child and I must accept what giving Father wants to give. I'm beginning to realize the more I accept the privilege of being a daughter of the King the more willing I am to embrace the responsibility the comes with being a member of the royal family!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Me wanna dwink!"

The other night our roaming 2 year old climbed into bed with us, got herself settled in and sweetly said, "Me wanna dwink." Now with a newborn, who's cry wakes me up with a similar demand and the fact that it is cold outside of the covers I honestly was tempted to stay in bed.

But I had already been awake, thinking and spending some time in prayer before Jaylyn made her presence known. I myself was sharing some concerns, needs and wants with my Father. When she did the same with me, I looked at her in the darkness of the night with my selfish thoughts of Jaylyn just go to sleep when I instantly remembered, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?"

I'm thinking I could easily substitute a daughter asking for a drink and giving her nothing. It was like God impressed on my heart, Jill give to your child and I will provide for mine as well. So I got out from under the warmth of my covers, risked waking my sleeping son (and husband for that matter:) and went to get my daughter a drink.

She had her drink and was back to sleep, but me on the other hand, I was thirsty for more. My mind returned to thoughts I'd had before this interruption - I too had been asking God for some things - wisdom, guidance, direction, confirmation, supplication... I wondered what He was going to give me.

Unlike my daughter the answer didn't come immediately, actually days later I'm still waiting. Thoughts continued though - just because I had given my daughter what she wanted that didn't mean God would do the same.

I recalled some of Jaylyn's other "wanna crys" and my response wasn't always immediate or exact. Had she wanted juice in the middle of the night - it wouldn't have happened. The recent wants on the older kids Christmas list were not all fulfilled either, my job as a parent is to be discernful and determine what they need. At times it is what they want and others well not so much.

As I thought of this and the prayers I had just prayed, I surrendered my wants to my Father. If He's trusted me to take care of my children, I know He will do the same for me. Matthew 7:11 says it best, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Baby Born to Die

As I wrote in my last post, I recently played Mary in our Sunday School Christmas program and doing so has given me much to think about. And today my thoughts revolve around the idea of a baby born to die. At Christmas time that can be a phrase we hear quite often, but do we really listen and more than that do we take the time to stop and think about the significance of those 5 words?

I have and I suppose you have to, but as I sat on the stage looking at my newborn son wrapped in swaddling cloths, the words were more alive. Anyone who's had a child can recall the emotion that overflows as you hold your baby for the first time - there's the overwhelming feelings, the awe at what took place, dreams for the future, really it's more than words can describe. I'm sure the same and more was true for Mary as she gazed at the Son God had given her...not only was she looking at Jesus her first born, but she saw the face of God!

Honestly I have to say this experience was the first time ever where I was on stage and totally unaware of the audience looking at me. (If you know me that says alot!!) But really I was consumed with being in Mary's shoes and still I'm amazed when I reflect on it all.

The impact of the experience doesn't end there though. When the service was done, a gentleman from the congregation asked me, "Do you know the significance of swaddling cloths?" The mom in me internally thought yes, they keep the baby warm and wrap them tight to ease the little one's transition. But he continued on, "Swaddling cloths were what they used for burial. He was born to die." That I knew, but I hadn't heard of that connection before so I looked into it a bit more.

In my research I came across this explanation, "In the Middle East, people traveling long distances were often met with many hardships and trials on their journeys. In the event of a death in travel, the body could not continue to be transported for many days. For that reason, travelers wrapped a thin, gauzelike cloth around their waist many times. If someone died on the journey, the others would use this cloth, referred to as "swaddling clothes" to wrap the corpse in before burying them. When Jesus was born, there was no room in the Inn, and so Mary and Joseph used a nearby stable for Jesus' birth. With no other cloth to use, Jesus was wrapped in Joseph's "swaddling clothes" - the cloth normally reserved for a person's death."

From the beginning Jesus was preparing to die. Now when my mind flashbacks and I see myself holding my little Jed, that can be hard concept to think about, but in life that is a reality. Thankfully chances are my son will not be called to the same death as Mary's, but just like Jesus, Jed's life on this earth will not last forever. And neither will mine...or yours.

Which brings me to another way to apply those 5 powerful words - Christ was born to die for my sins and because of that I am called to die to myself and live for Him. (Matthew 10:38-40). And as a mother I'm called to teach my son about His ways so someday he will do the same because when we die to self we live with Him and that is a birth that has no end!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Me, Mary??

This past weekend I had the privilege of playing Mary in our rescheduled Sunday School Christmas program. Six weeks ago when my husband first informed me of the role I never expected to write the above words. You see acting is not my thing! I'd never been "Mary" as a child and I didn't think now was the time. Honestly when my husband, one of the Sunday School leaders, told me about this I thought he was joking...

But the following Sunday as the kids were practicing and I was in the nursery with our new little man, I was informed I got the part without having to audition!! I realize being the real life Mom of this year's baby "Jesus" had something to do with it, but still...

Anyway I agreed thinking if I don't want my kids to be afraid of this I'd better set a good example. Besides it wasn't like I had that many lines!

So the whole month of December we spent Sunday School time practicing for the play and I was given a new appreciation for those who direct! More than that I began to understand why God had cast me in the role I had never received as a girl. Back then I would have never understood and actually I'm not sure I would have a year ago, but this year there was a reason.

Last January, I was in the midst of editing my book and beginning to make plans to organize a women's retreat. Everything was in the early stages, but still I sensed God was up to something. I was excited, but mostly I felt so undeserving. I can remember sharing some doubts, worries and fears with my husband and basically I told him I wasn't worthy of what God was calling me to do.

He listened, reminded me none of us are deserving of what God gives and then asked, "How do you think Mary felt?" The question had me - back in the day when all of us Sunday School girls wanted to be Mary, I would have answered the question rather quickly, "Lucky, Blessed, Special...," but now as an adult I pondered the question a little longer.

Really I even thought about it in a different way and the idea of "why me?" came to mind. I look at her situation and wonder if she felt the same and another question comes to mind, one scripture shows she asked, "How can this be?" The angel answered her question - the power of the Holy Spirit would come upon her and reminded her that with God all things are possible.

So the character my husband pointed me to last January became a bit of a study the whole year through. As God continued to call me out of my comfort zone time and time again, thoughts would often go back to Mary, the one who said, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be as you have said." I always knew she was the mother of Jesus, but in 2009 I've looked at her story in a whole new way.

In today's world we often glamorize the story, the beautiful nativity scenes are nice, but it was more than that. When I stop and think about the reality of it all, wow, I cannot imagine. How does a virgin girl explain this situation to her soon to be husband? Have you ever thought about traveling to Bethlehem by donkey when your nine months pregnant? (I thought the 20 miles to Grandma's by car was bumpy and long at times!!) And then there's a baby born in a stable...what a contrast to our sanitary state of the art delivery rooms today!

All of these questions and more have crossed my mind, but what's really been on my heart through out the year was Mary's response. The angel gave her a glimpse of what was to come, but still there was some unknown just like there is for me. What would have I done? What would I have said? I'm afraid to say I don't think my response would have come so quickly. I look back on my life and just as my calling is different than Mary's my response has been as well.

I tend to be an analyzer and in my head I try to play out how things will unfold. I often find myself wondering how it will all work and what people will think. I believe in a way those thoughts had to cross Mary's mind as well. Did the unknown stop her? No! How about fear of what others would think? No! Maybe the thought of "Why me? I don't deserve to be the mother of the savior of the world" never crossed her mind, but if it did she didn't even allow the feelings she had about herself to trump how God felt about her.

No she humbled herself and accepted what God wanted to give. I've often thought humbling myself meant stepping aside, playing the behind the scenes role and letting someone else stand in the spotlight. In a way that understanding is correct - there is only one who should be under the light and take center stage, but my recent acting debut has shown me that sometimes Christ does that through people, even me.

Mary didn't question the role God had for her, well maybe in her mind she did, but she didn't question the One who gave it to her. No she responded with some words I've come to know quite well, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be as you have said." My prayer as the new year begins is that God moves me from simply knowing Mary's words and saying them at our Christmas program to living in a way that her words become mine everyday of the year.

Me, Mary? Initially it was a role I didn't want to play, but now has become a desire of my heart. And the thing is there isn't just room for one, I believe God will take as many Marys as He can find, so will you join me today and audition for the role as well? Trust me, it will look different than you expect, but with God as the director we know the final result will be blessed and beautiful.