April 23, 2012

Godly Wisdom?

I have some thoughts swirling in my head and I need to just write and get them out. You, my friends, might have some additional valuable insight and perspective.

First. There were two spiders crawling outside our garage door recently.

Second. I now sleep with a gun.

I have deeper thoughts. I promise, I do.

Recently I heard an older person make the following statements. This is paraphrased.

Young pastors, though they may know the Bible back and forth, don't really know much more than that because they haven't had the life experience to give it meaning. They're really just teaching a bunch of theories. I think much differently now than I did when I was 30. Verses that I read before now have completely different meaning. I've realized that it's not possible to understand certain verses until you've gotten older and experienced more of life. 

That was the general gist of it.

So here are my thoughts after I've had some time to think about it. By the way, by God's grace, I was able to say not a word in response. If you know me, that's nothing short of a miracle. I was trying not to be argumentative and to show honor and I also knew that once some people's minds are made up, there's no changing it.

So that's where you come in. I get to bounce my thoughts off you and not have anyone jump in with a condescending nod and a You'll understand when you get to my age. (Right?)

Initial thoughts.

From beginning to end, God called the young. Off the top of my head I can think of Samuel, David, Solomon, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, Jeremiah, Mary, Timothy, and probably others that I can't think of right now. These kids were not called to little things. God called them for big, history-altering purposes. Think about that. He placed his history-altering plans and purposes in the hands of kids, teenagers, young adults.

Also. James 3 tells us there's earthly wisdom and there's godly wisdom. It expressly says that godly wisdom comes from above (i.e. God). Godly wisdom comes from God. Not age. Not experience. Not the school of hard knocks.

Let me head off the next argument. Yes, you can gain wisdom as you age and through varied life experiences. Absolutely. Not all who age, however, gain wisdom. Simply having a life experience does not guarantee you will gain wisdom. Why? Because true wisdom comes from God. Just like we've already established.

That being said, I do believe there is a place for longevity and the wisdom of many years of walking with the Lord. Should a couple who's been married a year and a half be giving marital counsel? Probably not. They should feel free to share the godly wisdom of others, but there are probably better-equipped marriage counselors.

So. Back to the above statements. It has really, really bothered me, so today as I was riding my bike, pouring my frustrations out to the Lord, I just gave him the whole situation and prayed for his peace. I was even willing to be wrong, even though the whole thing didn't taste right, but I wanted God's truth, not a battle of opinions.

Well. I got home today, put the boys down for their naps, spent a little time on the Internet, and then had my quiet time. I spent some time talking to the Lord, again pouring out my heart, praying for his peace and for the mind of Christ. And then I opened my Bible to this. To this, guys. I'm using a reading plan and this was today's section. In other words I was not looking for anything to prove my point. I was simply starting off where I had last stopped.

"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." 1st Corinthians 2:1-5

In addition, my commentary said this.

Paul avoided Greek rhetoric and focused on the message of the cross, so that the Corinthians would put their faith in Christ who was crucified rather than in the ability of human messengers. 

And also.

Mere intellectual persuasion does not save people. Saving faith is produced by the heart-changing power of the Holy Spirit as the gospel is proclaimed. 

On a similar note, I was once told by a pastor's wife that she knows people come because it's her husband preaching. Not because of what's being taught but because it's him teaching it.

Yesterday I read an article in which the writer addressed this very thing. He said that if a pastor knows that the people believe that, he needs to call his people to repentance. It's not the messenger, it's the message of Christ and him crucified that we should seek to know and teach.

I mean no disrespect. I want to honor those older than me. (And younger than me.) (And those that are the same age as me.) I know I have so much to learn and grow. I want to make sure that I stay humble and teachable and go back to Scripture as my guide, not anything else.

Because it's important that we weigh everything on the scale of Scripture.

1st Timothy 4:16 says, "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching."

I only mean to say that being well-intentioned does not get us off the hook for erroneous doctrine. These are not bad people. Obviously. Not even in the ballpark. And I've said so many things in my life that were so far off-base, it's ridonkulous. But that's why we can't stop seeking the Lord through his word. We have to be spending time with the Lord, asking him to examine our hearts, giving us a desire for truth, purifying our hearts and minds. We have to be in community, listening to one another, being teachable, teaching others. And we have to do it in a spirit of love. If anything in us has an I'll-show-them tinge to it, we need to stop, repent, and ask the Lord to give us his love and humility.

The purpose is not to be right. It's to be godly and established in God's truth and love.

By God's grace, I'm in process. And by God's grace, sometimes I do the right thing. Which, in this recent case, was to stay zip-lipped. And zip-lipped I was.

April 18, 2012

Dad of the Year

I've said before that Matt is Micah's most favoritest person in the entire world.

He is a daddy's boy through and through. And for good reason. Matt's the best dad I've ever witnessed in real life. He's loving, patient, kind, involved, funny, fun, interested, crazy, consistent, and he thinks his boys are the best sons to ever grace a father. (Which I agree.)

It makes my heart more joyful than I can express to watch Matt interact with his sons.

But here's the thing. What about me?

I don't think my sons realize they hit the Mother Lode (I hate puns, but there you go) when they got me for their mama. And in case you're wondering if I mean that, yes. Yes I do.

How many other mamas out there get hit with a craving for a Blizzard an hour before dinner, thus causing a cycle of events that culminate in a mom and her two boys in their bike trailer heading to quench said craving?

How many other mamas out there think that having a good time requires ice cream and slides and sunshine and airplane trips to get there if you have to?

How many other mamas think that pizza for lunch and ice cream for dinner are recommended by the Academy of Pediatrics?

(I'm noticing a theme here. Maybe having to do with ice cream.)

So I ask again, Dad of the Year, what about me?

When I lamented to Matt that I'm not one of those moms that create an entire themed day centered around Valentine's, he said, Yeah, but we're fun.

So there you go. I may be arrested by the Academy of Pediatrics and my boys may grow up thinking that ice cream is part of the Food Triangle and they may never see a heart-shaped pancake in their lifetime but at least they'll say we had fun.

Right?

April 13, 2012

Micah and Asher - Brothers

I believe a lie. I know it's a lie, but I still believe it. Here's the lie (but not lie in my head).

If it's organic, then it's healthy for you.

Organic ice cream. Healthy.

Organic whip cream. Healthy.

Grass-fed beef burger. Healthy.

And not as in it's less bad for you than non-organic or factory-produced beef.

As in it benefits-you-part-of-the-food-triangle-slightly-above-vegetables good for you.

As in it should be a part of a healthy diet. Every day.

My right brain is telling me that's not true. My left brain is saying, You're a Right Brain, what do you know?

With that being said, I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner Blog today because it's all about moms with all boys. That would be me.

My boys are 18 months apart (and yes, this was planned, and no, I'm actually not overwhelmed, and yes, sometimes it's really busy, and no, I don't wish for some peace and quiet ((Liar!)) and yes, thank you, they're the cutest boys ever, I agree).

Micah, our oldest, just turned 2 in February, and Asher, our Little (even though he weighs 25 pounds) was born on August 27th.

We're in a really fun season right now because Asher is able to "play" back with Micah to some extent. And by play I mean stare interestedly and reach for whatever toy Micah is holding, which then causes Micah to say very sweetly, No, no, ma toy. Of which we're working on. Hearts that share. Hearts that love our little brother and look out for him because you guys are brothers and that means you're best friends for the rest of your lives and that means you look out for each other and love each other and protect each other. We review that a lot.

I wanted a little girl really badly both times, but now after having two boys I'd totally choose another little boy.

(Judah. I love that name.)

(We're not pregnant.)

(If we were pregnant and it was a girl, I'd be ok with that too.)

(But still. Judah. Super cute.)

Here's a couple pictures from St. Patty's Day.




There we be. Over and out.

April 11, 2012

Big Changes

A couple of days ago, Micah slammed a door on Matt's head. Matt was leaning forward, Micah tried to shut it, and the corner made friends with Matt's forehead. Matt let out a constrained yell and walked away holding his head, saying over and over how much it hurt.

Being the good dad that he is, he let Micah know that he was ok and that his head just hurt a little bit.

As he was holding his head, he was like, I just want to punch another guy in the face right now.

Ok, I can understand that. I want to punch something sometimes too when I've stubbed my toe or smashed my finger. Mostly I just Christian Curse.

But then he was like, Seriously, when I get hurt like that I just want to immediately get in a fist-fight with another guy.

Apparently this is common knowledge in Man Land. Hitherto, I was unaware.

In other news, I have my old job back. Not my old job at Delta, my old old job with Skywest.

Seriously, I could not be happier.

It's a long story and the airline world can be super complicated so I'll try to be as concise and understandable as possible.

I was hired on with Skywest Airlines in August of 2007 shortly after we moved to Missoula. Skywest is an independently owned airline that operates regional flights for major airlines. At that time here in Missoula, Skywest operated Delta and United. You get full travel privileges with whatever airline you operate. That means that we got full travel privileges on Delta and United. Amazingness.

When Delta and Northwest merged (biggest computer nightmare ever) (I'm sorry to every passenger that traveled in the months following that - we sucked big time) the bid went up for Delta at the Missoula airport.

Skywest did not get the bid, a new regional company created by mainline Delta did. Since I had just found out I was pregnant, I needed a full-time position for the insurance benefits, which Skywest did not have at that time, only part-time.

Commence the most difficult season of my entire life. Not only merging two companies, but transitioning to a brand-new company with new everyone (manager, trainers, etc.) with lots of Big Chiefs and very few Little Chiefs, in addition to the actual physical process of moving was enough to make me hate my life every day for months.

I missed Skywest with every fiber of my being. But it was what it was and for almost three years I made the best of it.

Obviously that came to a tipping point in February and I quit. I had already talked to my old manager at Skywest and told him that if he had a position open, I would love (emphasize love) to come back. Since officially I've been on furlough with Skywest, that would mean that if I could get rehired before June I would have my old hire date back. (In the airline world, your hire date is everything - schedule bidding, travel privileges seniority, etc.).

Well, last week my old manager let me know he could bring me back!

*really cool break-dance move*

I was (and am) so happy. The hours will be infinity times better, the atmosphere and working environment are more peaceful, and since United and Continental merged last year, that means travel privileges on officially the largest airline in the world.

I really sought the Lord in this, being completely and totally willing to turn it down if it wasn't the best for our family, but after meeting with my old manager yesterday, things are even better than I could've hoped for, particularly schedule-wise, which was my main concern for our family. So we're moving forward, and I am ridiculously happy to have my much-loved flight benefits back.

I'll be going away for recurrent training mid-May and will then start the beginning of June.

Bienvenidos a mi old (new) job.

April 09, 2012

Could We Do Better?

On Saturday while the boys were napping and Matt was puttering about I took advantage for some time to myself. I went to the bookstore and walked around the mall and tried on every ugly bathing suit known to man.

(I cannot find a not-ugly bathing suit. I don't think it's me, guys. I really don't.)

I am a chronic people-watcher, especially when I'm not having to keep my eyes on two little boys.

When I pass someone, I usually make eye contact and give a smile or Hi.

I passed a girl, smiled, was given the once-over.

Passed others, smiled, received some smiles in return.

Then there was this girl who has stuck in my head.

She was probably about 16. She wobbled unsurely and a little awkwardly on high heels that didn't quite match the atmosphere of the mall. She glanced down at her chest, tugging her shirt down self-consciously, then smoothing it out over her stomach. She glanced quickly around, probably wondering if anybody was watching.

Probably simultaneously hoping someone was and terrified of it too.

In that moment she personified for me what cripples us as girls, women, tweens, teens.

I can't tell you how many women events I've been at and how many women I've noticed standing alone. Looking out, wondering if anybody notices them. While others stand about, perhaps in a group, but also wondering if anybody notices them. Their hands quickly smooth their shirt out, suck their stomach in, pull their skirt down or pants up, fluff hair, check make-up. Everything communicating me. Am I being noticed? Am I important? Am I pretty? Are others impressed by me?

All the while missing the life that's being lived right around them.

All the while overlooking that girl that stands alone because she doesn't know anybody else and is terrified this will be just one more instance where she's on the outside looking in, hoping somebody picks her to be on their team.

Missing that woman who just lost her husband and is wearing a brave, but fake, smile.

Missing that woman whose husband just left her, whose kid just moved out of state, whose parent just died.

Because I feel uncomfortable in the outfit I picked out or the zit that popped up or the bad haircut I just got.

Women, ladies, friends, we need to make up our mind before we ever get to that place, especially church, that it is not about me. It is not about the way I look or feel or talk.

I have a lot of weaknesses (a lot) but self-consciousness is not usually one. Not because there's anything spectacular in me but because I often pray before I ever get to that event, whatever it is, Lord, please fill me with your Spirit. Please use me as a blessing in someone else's life today. Please give me your eyes to see people through, and your heart to love people like you do.

Jesus will absolutely open our eyes to the life and the needs that are so close we could reach out and hug them. Jesus wants to use us to speak that encouraging word for someone who's dying to hear she's valuable and worth his life dying for. He wants to use us to give that hug to the one who's had the worst day in a long time, to simply be his hands and feet.

Let's start seeing others through Jesus' eyes and loving like he does. The same Jesus who stopped what he was doing and halted where he was going and healed the blind beggar that the disciples were trying to shush because he was interrupting their agenda. The agenda that didn't include uncomfortable situations and dirty people. (See Mark 10.)

Your uncomfortable interruption (and mine too) may very well be exactly the thing God wants you to do today in His Name and for His glory.

"Our churches are filled with people who outwardly look contented and at peace but inwardly are crying out for someone to love them...just as they are - confused, frustrated, often frightened, guilty, and often unable to communicate even within their own families. But the other people in the church look so happy and contented that one seldom has the courage to admit his own deep needs before such a self-sufficient group as the average church meeting appears to be."
Keith Miller, The Taste of New Wine

April 04, 2012

Spurs and Jonah

You know that verse that says, "and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24)?

I've realized that there are usually two types of people.

Those that truly spur you on; they're encouraging, loving, infectious, authentic.

And those who take their spurs and stab them into your clavicle and drag you to "love" and "good deeds" if they have to kill you to do it. Think Inquisition, screamy preachers, self-righteousy people.

Thankfully I've only ever been in the first group.

(Ahh, I'm laughing so hard right now I can hardly type.)

(Actually, I'm not laughing at all, I'm only really sad that that's so not true.)

Matt and I did a marriage study several years ago and one of the things the guy said is that many of us are motivated by "inner vows" and we don't even know it. For example...

I'll never turn down my kids' request to play a game with them the way my dad did with me.

I'll never trust anybody again, I've been wronged too many times.

I'll never let my spouse see how much they hurt me, the way so-and-so did.

I'll never be weak and let somebody use me, like who-and-who.

See? Anything ranging from the silly to the serious.

But here's what hit me today. Inner vows never work because they're spurred on by anger. And anger only lasts for so long before it blows up like the Atomic Bomb over Peoplelandia, leaving wreckage and debris on everyone within a 75-mile radius.

When we're spurred on by love, the result is good deeds.

Even when our triggers are trigged.

Even when so-and-so and who-and-who do me wrong again and are simply unloveable. Or don't react the way I thought they should.

If our motivation is to show them what's what, then it's gonna come to a screeching halt the moment that secondary trigger is set. See?

No good.

I don't want to play a game with my son because I'm gonna show him. I want to play a game with my son because I love him and want to love what he loves and spend time with him.

I don't want to always be strong so I can "fool" other people. (Nobody's fooled except the fool). I want to be strong in Christ's strength so I can be a refreshing glass of cold water to somebody who desperately needs a helping hand. Even if I end up wronged or hurt or betrayed.

Because Love always protects. Always trusts. Always hopes. Always perseveres.

It's just sometimes I'm so far from what I want to be true about me that it's debilitating. I'm reading an amazing book right now called Glorious Mess, and Mike Howerton, the author, talks about this very thing. It's when we sbumit to God and return to him in the middle of our mess that he is ultimately glorified, kind of like Jonah.

Jonah's response and ultimate return to God was not pretty and it did not have a pretty spiritual bow attached to the top. It was painful and messy and all of us on the outside are yelling, What's your problem, you idiot, we all know how the story ends, just do what God told you to do!

Um, yeah. Except here's the thing. Jonah wasn't on the outside reading through the book of Jonah while he sipped his coffee reading how the story ended. Jonah was living his life when God invaded, if you will, and told him to do something that he absolutely did not want to do.

Yes, I can so relate.

So, Jonah runs and fights and checks out (hello, sleeping below deck while a storm is about to kill everyone on board!). All par for the course for the average Joe-slash-Julia.

Mike makes a great point. Oftentimes when we consider God's call on our lives we think vocationally. Missionary, nurse, pastor, stay-at-home mom, etc. But God's call more often involves us becoming more like him than what we do for him. So we're also running from God's call when we are proud rather than humble. Rude rather than kind. Impatient rather than forbearing. Deceitful rather than forthright.

I also heard recently in a sermon that scripturally, God's call is 95% who you are and only 5% what you actually do.

(Please don't attack me over the actual percentages, I'm just paraphrasing and I hate math.)

I'm in a season of wanting to check out. I want to sleep below deck while everybody else fights for the faith.

When we are not right with God, storms are everywhere. When we run from God, relationships stop working, friendships are shallow, family life is sticky, the future seems unclear and stormy. Your personal attitude is in a shaky place, so you have to try and distract yourself and find false substitutes to make yourself feel better. You are running from God's best. You don't have peace, but you're lulling your soul to sleep, medicating your soul with any number of distractions.
-excerpt from Glorious Mess

Get out of my head, already! Jerk.

God, in his kindness, always in his kindness, is not letting me sleep. I cannot turn any direction without confronting his interventions. Do you know why it's so hard to turn back sometimes?

Because oftentimes it means I have to tell somebody I'm sorry. I've been proud. I've been arrogant. I've had one hand clasped around the Sequoia tree in my eye, whilst I've manhandled the tweezers for the splinter in yours. I'm sorry, I've been wrong.

Easy to say in your head, not so easy to say to somebody who's hurt you. Know what I mean? But God's way is always best. And he relentlessly pursues us to save us from our sin as much as to save us from ourselves.

Let us turn back and spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

April 02, 2012

Happiness

You know what's hard sometimes? Being a parent.

You know what else is hard most of the time? Being a human.

I can't remember the last time I thought, Oh my gosh, everything is amazing at all times, always, all the time, forever and ever!

I can remember the last time my heart burst from happiness though.

Last night I sat on the couch nursing my favorite 7 month old. As he always does, he stared intently at me while stroking my skin with his chubby fingers. I watched Micah help Matt bring the groceries in from the car. Every time Matt handed Micah an item to carry, Micah would say, Thank YOU, (insert a lilt on the "you") and so proudly carry it in, hefting with all his might to lift it to the counter.

Seriously, I wondered if it was possible to be happier than I was in that moment.

Being a parent is hard sometimes, but that's because everything in life is hard sometimes.

But I can't remember the last time my heart burst from happiness the way it does on a regular basis when I'm with my three favorite guys.

I wouldn't trade this life for anything. Sometimes Matt and I joke, Were we even happy before we had kids?!

And that's coming from two crazy adventurers who on a monthly, or every monthly, basis were jetting off someplace vacationy.

We were happy. We were crazy happy. We're just happier now. 

Yes, we have times of sleep deprivation, days of frustration, blah, blah, blah. But I also have two beautiful little boys to kiss and snuggle at the end of the day, which is more than I can say for anything else.

Seriously, can you imagine happiness without these two faces?