Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Washing the Inside of the Cup - part deux.

This post will make more sense if you read Part Un first.

I was so tired last week that I couldn't finish the post I started. After all, it was 3 am while I was typing. I've somewhat lost the train of thought I had rolling, but I'm going to attempt to pick up where I left off and finish the thoughts I had and tie it all together. Without further ado...

So, God was beginning to apply more sledge hammer teaching from these verses...

Verses 37-41 ~ 37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.

39Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish [a] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

Perhaps it was not so coincidental that I didn't finish that post until now. Tonight during youth group, I got slammed again, right between the eyes on the very next part of what I was going to say. The poor.

See, once the inside of the cup is clean, this means that God has made you clean and your relationship with him is restored (well, you as in me, not you as in you, but you too, you know, if you were talking about you. haha!) then He can fill *me with the Holy Spirit. And the evidence of the Holy Spirit is according to Galatians 5:22-23, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and (TAH-DAH) self-control. Are self-control and self-discipline synonymous? Could be, in some ways they are definitely related, though maybe self-control is more all-encompassing.

If I pour out what is in me to the poor now, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control then Jesus said, everything will be clean for me. Inside and outside.

Two things: A) the poor. They can be the monetarily poor, poor in spirit, poor in love, poor in just about any way imaginable. I'll get to this more in another post (yep, looks like this cup washing is going to take 3 posts, sledge hammer, I tell you!). and 2) If you think this means I'll finally be S-Q-H, maybe not so much. What it means is I'll look more like Jesus to those who look at me. Will I have a perfectly clean home, yard or children? The answer is, who cares! I'll be more sensitive to living my moments for my LORD and maybe that will translate to serving my husband better, spending less time on my laptop, being more present with my children, but my motive WON'T be the pride of looking like S-Q-H in the eyes of others, it will be the love of the relationship between me and my heavenly Father. Big difference, Big, HUGE!

But wait. I've been a Christian since I was 13. Wasn't I clean before now? Didn't I get clean when I made the decision to follow Jesus, ask his forgiveness and ask him to come into my heart? Yep! Sure did. Without a doubt. I became a new creation that day. February 3, 1983. How's that work? I'm so glad you asked. Following Jesus is a journey. A daily walk. A relationship. It happens all at once and over time. As I walk with Jesus, learn about Him, who He is, and what He wants me to do, He shows me stuff. Last year about this time I learned about my unforgiving heart. So Jesus and I cleaned out that closet. Right now He is teaching me about my lack of self-discipline and self-control. It's a tough lesson because I'm deeply entrenched in hanging onto doing what I want to do when I want to do it. I've never been self-motivated and I don't want to give up "who I am". But I REALLY want to obey my LORD, and so Jesus and I, we're cleaning out this closet now too. It's a very BIG walk-in closet, so it's going to take some work, but He is going to be LORD of this closet too.

to be continued...


Wordless Wednesday - The Cutest Mutant Things Evah!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Washing the Inside of the Cup.

I don't know about you, but God frequently teaches me things in clusters. By that I mean, take subject X, and I hear about it Sunday morning at church, read about it in my Bible study through the week Wednesday morning as I rush to do it before Bible study, hear about it during Bible study, hear music about it on the radio... Well, you get the picture. I also call this "applying it with a sledge hammer" method of getting it through my thick skull. ;)

If you've read my profile, you've read my description of myself as a dichotomy. I'm a perfectionist at heart while being a procrastinator by nature. I'm the most organized slob I know. I'm a firm believer in "A place for everything, and everything in it's place", at least, that is, when I get around to it.

While it might sound humorous to read, in reality it puts me at war within myself, constantly. At night as I sit in the quiet of my sleepy home, amidst the mess of the day, I go through my mental list of all the things I need to accomplish tomorrow: Do all the Landry; do day 1 of my Bible study; clean the kitchen after breakfast; shower before the kids get up; do pre-school pages with Kevin; clean the kitchen after lunch; have dinner ready when my husband walks in the door; and ever so much more. All the things that will make me the perfect Christian Susie-Q Homemaker*.

The next morning I go over my list again, changing shower before the kids get up to shower right after breakfast, because the kids are up is the reason I'm now up. Oops. As I go through my day my list of things to do to be *S-Q-H gets modified, rearranged and scribbled out until it looks like I once again accomplished very little. But, I'm tired. Oh so tired, so I'll just veg out and try to catch up on being S-Q-H tomorrow.

I'm defeated. I have a complete lack of self-discipline.

And yet, it is so easy for my to project my S-Q-H ideals on those around me. "Now children, you may only go out side to play if you have taken care of your responsibilities, cleaned your room, finished your homework and done your Bible study" Of course, I project it onto my children, I want to shape them into better human beings, better Christians than I could ever be. I even project these ideals onto my husband. (though, I don't recommend this. It's not pretty!)

UGH, really? Yep. I'm a complete hypocrite. Don't think for a minute that I don't know it.

Here comes the sledge hammer, or for those of you who don't like to picture God as a sledge-hammer-wielding kind of guy, cluster teaching.

Last week's Bible study we were in Luke 11:37-52 (not going to post it all here, but I will talk about it)

Verses 37-41 ~ 37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.

39Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish [a] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

The Pharisees were experts in the law, more, they were also law makers. They studied the scriptures and interpreted the laws until they had this list of things that you had to DO to be holy. And boy howdy, if you didn't do them, you definitely weren't holy like them. And they gave the people of the time the laws, but they didn't give the people the Truth. They walked around full of self-importance and pride because they did all these things that made them clean, and yet they had no relationship with their God.

God set up the law to show us that we CAN'T make ourselves clean. If we can't make ourselves clean we MUST fall on the mercy of the living God. And THEN, he sent Jesus to die for us to cleanse us inside so that our HOLY God can once again have a relationship with us. Jesus was and is the mercy of God given to us to make us clean so that we no longer need the law, because now we can have a relationship with God.

Lord have mercy, I am still trying to live under the law. Karina's law. And I'm just like the Pharisees who made up all the rules to be holy, but weren't.

More sledge hammer coming up!(as if this post weren't long enough, I'm not actually done yet!)

So, then I went to Bible study and our teaching leader was giving the lecture about these verses and she says this, "You can't clean yourself up by changing your behavior. You must pour out your heart (what's in you) to God and let him clean you up." Kazaam! right between the eyes!

I struggle nearly daily with self-discipline. I try to modify my behavior so I look like S-Q-H. I do. I want to be her. But I can't. What I really need is to give my lack of self-discipline to God and let his love and mercy wash it from me. I don't believe I've ever done that. Oh, but I'm there now!

I can spend my time trying to wash the outside of me. I can abstain from sex outside of my marriage, I can't not drink, not smoke, not cuss and swear. I can have a perfectly clean house (maybe not with 5 kids), do my chores, exercise, eat right. I can go to church every Sunday, sing in the choir and on praise team, take sermon notes. I can guard what I read, watch and listen to. And I can tell those around me that these things are the way to live a Christian life. Do you see that all these things are good? And they are all things that God wants me to do?

But if I don't pour out the nasty stuff that's inside my heart to God and let him fill me with His love and mercy. If my behavior comes from a need to look and feel clean, but it doesn't come as a direct result of God's cleansing me and walking with me and me surrendering my insides to Him so that we can have a relationship. Then I am a Pharisee.

Did you read that part about giving to the poor? More sledge hammer learning for me...

to be continued...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Edward Cullen Eat Your Heart Out!

My little vampire.
(an oldie but a goody!)


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Not Me!" Monday Tuesday.

Welcome to "Not Me!" Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. Though she is currently on a cruise with many blog readers, you can head over to her blog to read what other readers have not been doing this week.

In recent weeks, I have been standing in as a child care provider for my neighbor. Her tiny baby is such a joy to snuggle and watch! So you must believe me when I tell you that there is no possible way, it could not have been me that has been in my robe or my jammies every single time she has dropped off her kids. I'm sure when she arrives after 10 am that I meet her at the door fully dressed. I do not make a habit of getting dressed during afternoon naps. It was definitely not me who met her at the door in my jammies when she got off work early before Christmas and arrived to pick up her children at 2 pm. Definitely, not me!

I was also not me that has put off folding laundry for over a week. Nor did I leave the laundry sitting in the living room and dress the little boys each morning from the laundry baskets. Nope, not me. And the laundry has not been worn, washed and dried a second time only to end up in the same baskets in the living room. Certainly not me!

Please tell me there's something you did not do this week!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oh My Heavens.

I have just written an e-mail the reply to which may or may not start events rolling that could change my life and the lives of every member of my family, and then some.

I am full of excitement and dread.

Please pray the hand of God over this, open doors and miracles.

That's all that I can share right now. But I will give more information as I am able.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Parent Tip #1 or "I Have a Kind Heart."

I don't consider myself to be a great parent. I've been at it for a while and work on being better, and I have improved over time. I truly feel sorry for my daughter because I believe wholeheartedly that children are like pancakes (wait for it). But when I find something that strikes a chord in me, I think it makes sense to share it.

Only mostly completely unrelated, back in the fall our music pastor had a "retreat" for the members of the choir and orchestra. Our speaker, a man by the name of Stan Endicott, was funny and enthusiastic and I took to heart many of the things he said. Definitely musically, but he told a few stories that really had more to do with his grandkids than music. I really think grandparents make better parents than parents because they've made all the mistakes and understand how short time is, so they have more patience.

Anyway, Stan told a story about a time when his grandson was being unkind to his grandma. Stan took matters into his own hands, he talked to his grandson about being kind to grandma. He taught his then 3 year old grandson to say, "I have [holding up an index finger] a kind heart [touching heart with index finger]." and made him repeat it several times. A few days later, in grandma's presence, Grandpa Stan held up his index finger then touched his heart. And, grandson said, "Grandma, I have a kind heart."

I love that story!

I doubt Stan is a parenting expert, but according to the parenting class we took last year, the way to teach virtues is to, well, teach virtues. Instead of telling a child not to lie, you teach them what Truth is. Instead of telling a child not to be mean, you teach them to be kind. Instead of telling a child not to take toys away, you teach them about sharing or giving.

Things in my house have gotten more kind since last fall. I came home from retreat an implemented what Stan taught me immediately. "I have a kind heart." When one of my children (even especially the big ones) are unkind I stop them, I hold up my finger and say, "I have...", touch my heart ..."a kind heart." They repeat it until they say it with sincerity. I admit, it looks and sounds ridiculous. But, in reality, it stops them from being unkind and makes them think about what it means to have a kind heart. It's hard to see a change in the daily in and out of our lives because change is so gradual, but things have definitely changed.

The other day I decided it was time to teach little Izaak. At 2 1/2 he has some speech delays, but he's getting there. I can tell you it melts every heart in the house to see and hear him say, "Iave... dind... hawt."

Thank you Stan!

Here it is. The first pancake never turns out quite right.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Just How Big is a Star-Breathing God?

Psalm 33:6 says, "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth."

That's great. God breathed stars into existence, cool. Impressive. That must make Him, what, as big as our solar system? Sweet.

At least that's kind of the concept I used to have. I mean, I knew God was big and I have no doubts that He created the universe by speaking it into existence. And then I learned just exactly (relatively speaking) how BIG stars actually are.

[at which point I'm going to try to embed a video into my post, wish me success]

I now know that when the Bible talks about fearing God, it's not talking about fear because God is mean, but because He is AWESOME. Did you see that last star on there? The one that makes our enormous sun look like an atom? Canis Majoris. It's like hundreds of millions of times bigger than our sun. My God BREATHED that star into existence.

I was asking one of my 11 year old sons this morning, as we talked about this, how big of a star he thought he would be able to breathe, you know, if he could breathe stars. We decided it would be about the size of a racquet ball. So, how big do you think God is if He can breathe a star that is hundreds of millions of times bigger than our sun? The answer from my precious 4 year old was, "Really, really, really, really, really, really...(continuing for several minutes)...BIG!" Amazing how little children completely get these enormous concepts so readily!

If I wasn't already floored by the greatness of God, He takes it a step further. Jesus said in Luke 12:7a that God cares so intimately about me that He knows exactly how many hairs are on my head. He has them numbered. And not just one moment in my life, but if I brush my hair and lose 16 hairs, He still knows. Every moment. Every hair. And not just me, but every person he created!

Kind of leaves you speechless, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Would You Trade?

Sometimes God asks us to drink a bitter cup, take a hard road, do something more difficult than we could ever possibly have strength to face. And sometimes that cup is all we taste for years.

I've been down a road like that.

Have you?

For a long time I fought drinking from that bitter cup. I hated it. I was angry at God for making me taste it, much less drink from it for years on end without an end in sight. In time I came to accept it. I drank freely and willingly, knowing that God is faithful through even the most bitter experiences of my life. After many years my time was done. God refilled my cup with the sweetest wine I could imagine and on top of that he smoothed healing balm into my soul.

For me, that cup was infertility.

Then I cam across this song by Nicole Nordeman,

If I had the chance to go back again
Take a different road, bear a lighter load
Tell an easy story

I would walk away with my yesterdays
And I would not trade what is broken
For beauty only

Every valley
Every bitter chill
Made me ready to climb back up the hill
And find that . . .

You are sunrise
You are blue skies
How would I know the morning
If I knew not midnight?
You're my horizon
You're the light of a new dawn
So thank You, thank You
That after the long night, You are sunrise

There's a moment when faith caves in
There's a time when every soul is certain
God is gone

But every shadow is evidence of sun
And every tomorrow holds out hope for us
For every one of us

You are sunrise
You are blue skies
How would I know the morning
If I knew not midnight?
You're my horizon
You're the light of a new dawn
So thank You, thank You
That after the long night, You are sunrise

You alone will shine
You alone can resurrect this heart of mine

You are sunrise
You are blue skies
How would I know the morning
If I knew not midnight?
You're my horizon
You're the light of a new dawn
So thank You, thank You
That after the long night, You are sunrise

You are sunrise

And I have to agree. If someone gave me the chance to go back and live my life without drinking from the cup of infertility, I'd turn them down flat. I wouldn't even have to think twice about it. Because, that time, those experiences, everything we went through brought me to where I am today, taught me what I know, touched me in places nothing else could touch and molded me into, well, me. God, the creator of the universe, carried me, strengthened me, deepened me, grew me in ways that could never have been possible any other way. As a result, my love for Him is deeper than the deepest ocean. How could I want anything different?

Right now, I am walking alongside my niece as she tastes of a cup so bitter I can't even imagine. (and for privacy reasons I don't feel free to share the details here) Let's just say, it's bad. It's incredibly painful to watch her suffer, it brings me to my knees, literally. But for the life of me, I can't wish it any other way for her. I see daily how God is shaping her, molding her, teaching her to trust. And I ache, really ache for her to come to the end so that I can see her taste the sweetness of God's rest and faithfulness. But there's no end in sight. There's only trusting God.

It just got me to wondering, am I alone in my thinking? Have you been through something bitter and painful that you wouldn't trade a moment of because of who you became through it?

Saturday, January 9, 2010


It took me awhile to get my Christmas decorations up this year, but I love them so much I always procrastinate taking them down. It's not really procrastination though, because it's not a job I feel I should be doing and I'm not.

It's something I'm choosing not to do because I don't want the sparkling season of Christmas to end. I'm just lingering in the afterglow of the beauty and now that the busy part is over I can relax and take time to enjoy the lights and beauty of the decorations that represent my Jesus' birth.

And since, in the bustle of the busy season, I didn't say it before...


from ALL of US to all of YOU!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Grave Day.

Note: I wrote this post shortly after we got home from our Thanksgiving trip to Iowa. Some reason I never got it finished, but it seemed fitting for a day like today. Today is our precious Mason's birthday, that little miracle we had far too little time with a year ago. Happy Birthday Mason. We miss you.

While death has always freaked me out a little, graveyards have always fascinated me. I'm not talking about the modern day cemetery where all the stones lie flat slightly below the level of the grass so the groundskeeper can ride his mower right over the top and not have to trim around anything. I'm talking about the old fashioned graveyard where monuments were erected to honor the memory of loved ones gone to their rest. And the older the better, you know, where moss covers the letters that have been so beaten by the wind and rain that they are nearly smooth and frequently undecipherable. The place where the loved ones who buried the ones below have been long buried themselves and probable even the ones who buried them. Yeah, those kinds of graveyards.

I don't know why. Maybe my fancy started in my childhood with "Anne of the Island" at her first year of college when she lives across the street from just such a graveyard. She and her friends walk and talk and play and study there. Or in "Anne of Windy Poplars" when she walks in the graveyard with Miss Valentine, who tells her all the funny, creepy, sad, and dreadful stories behind all the stones there. Graveyards just seem to me to be a peaceful, melancholy place of wonder where stands the last testament of a family's love to a soul long departed. Not to mention that it's a tangible reminder that time is short, and even the memories of my life won't last any longer than the lives of those who know me. This is the little life, the big life is yet to come.

On our drive through the Iowa countryside last week I was thrilled when the very first thing we happened upon (thanks to my husband's keen eyesight and understanding of things that make me tick) was a small (12'x12') family plot at the back of an anonymous farm. It was so old all that was left of the fence were stumps of the posts. I highly doubt there was grass under all the fallen leaves, it was just a forgotten corner on a piece of land, but once upon a time someone cried there over a lost baby, and a mother and father who passed within months of each other.

Somewhere amidst the red barns and windmills, after saying "Farewell" to our friend Trey, we found a little church plot that had been there forever. It was a mixture of old and new, of course, my fetish is with the old. It's no wonder I filled up that 2GB, huh? The day was gray and cloudy and drizzly. It would have been the perfect day for a funeral on the grassy hillside. It was a perfect day to wander through the graves, reading them, snapping pictures, and contemplating life.

A grave day.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Not Me!" Monday.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Ringing in a new year is always a treat, though it does make me feel old. We celebrated this year with my bestie, Penny, and her family. She was having her in-laws bring some furniture for her daughter and we decided that painting while removing the old furniture would make sense. But we did not rush to the paint store in her small mountain town at 5 pm. on New Year's Eve expecting to find it open for business. We certainly weren't surprised to learn that they had closed at 4 pm. Nope, not us!

When painting became a non-option, my bestie suggested that we take down her Christmas decorations instead. I did not flat out refuse to help her in that task! Come on! After all the things my bestie and I have done for each other, I would never refuse to help with such a menial task. Not me!

We fixed two pots of chili that night, one spicy and one mild, both equally full of beans. Later while relaxing in the hot tub with the jets off, I certainly did not try to hide the fact that I was passing gas at an alarming rate! My bestie was not sitting on the opposite side of the hot tub doing the exact same thing. We did not laugh hysterically about it when we discovered our problem was mutual. We are much more refined ladies than that! That was so NOT US!

Happy New Year! Now tell me, what was it you didn't do while celebrating 2010?!