Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Help, I hate morning

I am melancholy in personality. The cup is not only half empty, but if you are not careful, you are going to knock it...hey! what did I tell you? You knocked it over! Urg, go get the spray and paper towels.

I don't mind being detail-oriented and thinking deeply, but I get so tired of living with such a negative person (aka, me). I used to get up and spend some time with God, to orient myself to Him, get the day started a little better. But I am now living out Year 3 of Morning Torture.

Beginning in 6th grade, my middle daughter's scheduled bus stop was 6:55am. Such an early pickup is enough to make anyone contemplate life as a redneck dropout, but of all the possible people in the family, it had to be Lizze that the cruel fates scheduled for EARLY. When she was two, the bane of my existence was getting her out the door to go anywhere. She moves in a slightly shifted parallel time line, one that is...just...a...little...slow...er...than...ours. And she inherited my hatred for early. To this day, she will tell you that she gets up at 5:15 to catch the bus, but the truth is that I get up at 6:15 and begin coaxing her from bed.

I used to yell and plead and cajole and be firm and be succint and not waken her at all...but a while back I learned that being silly had better results. Now, when my alarm goes off, I stagger upstairs and joke with my unconscious child. For 10 minutes. Then make her breakfast, pack her lunch. Start my husband's coffee. Cajole sleepy-head a little more. Make my husband's lunch. And almost every morning, Lizze gets out the door in time to catch the big yellow monster.

And then my husband goes. And then my other daughters get up and I can start homeschool. And at this point my day has started off like Chinese water torture. I am seriously considering pulling Lizze home, and this early morning routine is a large part of why.

Before you post a comment, criticizing me for being Pansy Mom, pray for my spirit. I need God's peace & covering before I have to read how you think I am doing this all wrong. And I would love it if God would post a solution I can hear & understand.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I like to ask questions. I like to know myself and probe deeply into questions of how and why. Sometimes, this habit only serves to get me stuck in confusion. I find that talking helps me think better...that's a scary thought, isn't it? I make more sense when my mouth is moving, than when I'm sitting quietly in contemplation? I think sounding like an idiot about half the time is one of God's tools to work humility in me.

That said, my prayer time lately is comprised of more silence than I have ever known. I have found that if I sit before God instead of rambling, sometimes I can hear the true worries of my heart better. Then, instead of hashing them out with Him (although that is still a very necessary activity on many occasions), I just turn them over to Him. Instead of asking why and how of my Savior, I just bleat loudly and expect Him to shepherd me.

This week, I found myself staring out my kitchen window, steaming cup of hazelnut coffee in my hand, and I said, "Lord, help me see myself rightly." If someone had been able to photograph the spiritual depth of that moment, I think it would have been destined for a Hallmark card. I mean, wow, that is so spiritual. I was so frustrated with my insecurities and the accusations in my head, and I cried out to my God.

Please note that God rarely answers the questions we ask in some direct, logical way. I asked Him to help me see myself correctly. Immediately a verse popped into my head from the day before. I had been researching what circumcision represented in the New Testament, and attached to Romans 2:29 was this phrase, "And a changed heart, Angie, seeks praise from God rather than people." Okay, my name wasn't really in the Bible, but it sure felt like it. God gave me the key to seeing myself rightly: seek Him. His answer was not to see myself at all, but see Him, and seek His view of me (His praise).

He tells me to seek Him in Matthew 6, the famous passage about not worrying and seeking His kingdom above all else. He tells me to seek Him in Hebrews 12, where He says throw off everything that hinders and fix your eyes on Jesus. He tells me in the 10 commandments to begin with loving Him, and in Jesus' commandment to love Him with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength. I am starting to wonder if the answer to all of my questions, no matter how profound and moving and spiritual they might be, is simply...God. Seek Him.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Church Triumphant

I think the Church wins. Paul told us in Ephesians 5 that the husband's job in marriage is to present his bride spotless to God. He also tells us that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, so Jesus' job is to present us spotless to God. Remember in the Garden when he prayed to his father and said that he had not lost any of the sheep entrusted to him? Jesus doesn't fail. That's part of the idea behind him being sinless...remember? So Jesus is going to present us spotless to the Father. We win.

Things didn't work so well with God's first covenant, the Law given to Moses. No surprise to God: he said over and over that the Israelites were not going to be successful. Is the Church simply better than God's nation? No. We're all fallen people. The difference between the Old Covenant and the New is God's part. In the Old, God said he would punish wrong behavior. In the New, he said he would pay for our wrong behavior and give us a right standing with him. Because of Christ's work on the cross, we are triumphant. Not because of our behavior, but because of God. In the new system (grace), he guarantees our victory.

We don't have to keep laboring to "get it right." We now have freedom to love and to chase after people with the heart of God. When someone points out our bad behavior, we can say, "Yes! I know! I have tried to stop screwing up, but it doesn't work...I somehow always fail. So will you! But God has made a way for us despite our screwups. Come try it with me!" This is the good news. This is the freedom we have in Christ. We can't always do right, so God has covered our sin and declared us righteous when we have faith in him.

You can choose one of God's plans: the Law or grace. Grace now covers me. And the good news is that grace is not just for me individually; it covers his church too. He sees his Bride as spotless. If you do not see her the same way, perhaps you need to go back to the cross and see what has been won for us. Jesus is jealous for his Bride; be careful how you slander her.

Monday, October 5, 2009

So You Don't Want to Go to Church

My friend Judy asked me to blog about a book I read recently, So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore. I have discovered a little about myself over this past summer: I like to walk with people. I like to figure out what God is saying and doing in someone's life, and then engage at that point. I don't like general theories or broad ideas. I want to know what you're hearing and what you think you should do. Sometimes, God doesn't give me insight into someone's life, so I am just generally encouraging & that's that. But sometimes He lets me walk very closely with people. This is my ministry; this is what jazzes me. I know that I myself don't have any answers for my friends, but I can be another set of ears, listening to the Father in what might be a confusing time, and He often chooses to show up (when two or more are gathered...).

A friend gave me this book to read, and so my first thought was that she was struggling with some of the issues in it. That turned out not to be the case, and again, I'm not very interested in ideas just for their own sake. When I read it, I thought that the Jesus/John character seemed to do kind of what I see my ministry as, this meeting up with people and listening to God together. I found John somewhat pedantic after a while, which makes me smile, because my husband will often hear me on the phone and tell me that I sound a bit "preachy."

Because I agree with so many of the ideas in this book, I found it a little scary. I am always running from things that make me feel "right," that puff me up, because I puff up easily. I don't mind you encouraging me--I desperately need that--but knowledge and theory divorced from action have an adverse effect on me. Most of the people I know who have a lot of knowledge lecture the rest of us but don't really walk with us. It is a huge danger for me personally to think I'm right and not be willing to help you out of your mess.

I love my "church," the organization that I belong to in my community where I participate in organized events. I know that the Bride is much bigger than my church, and that my church is not synonymous with Jesus' Beloved. It is the best place I have found to hammer out the Way, and not just because it has some great qualities. My church also has a lot of...well, people, and they are often wrong and irritating and they still love God. I find that element of church to also be a great venue for hammering out what it means to follow Christ. In fact, the problems are almost more helpful than the good aspects. I am also very happy to walk outside of my "church" to explore life with other believers, other seekers. But I won't make an appointment with you to do so, nor will I set up three shelters to commemorate any great experience we have together. :)

All glory and all praise to God. We'll never get things 100% on this side of the Rapture. I'm glad that perfection here is not His goal.