Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hearts, Flowers, and Dumpsters

When we think of symbols of love the first things that come to mind are hearts, flowers, cupid, and rings. Pictures of that romantic, Valentine's Day kind of love. Nothing wrong with that. Romantic love is wonderful, needed, and gives us great joy. But the symbols of deep, sacrificial love are never that pretty. They are often disturbing, ugly, and painful just like the sacrifice they represent. This kind of love is what keeps us going when times get tough. When we have been loved sacrificially we feel special and worthy, not because of anything we have done, but because someone else thought we were worth sacrificing for.

Yesterday Stan added a dumpster to that list of love symbols. It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was smelly, dirty, uncomfortable and messy. It is something that I would not have done for myself, but, out of his love for me, Stan went dumpster diving. Last Thursday I left a special blanket at the park. It was another love symbol given to me by my daughter for Christmas, but with keeping track of extra kids to be picked up, gathering other people's left behinds and trying to get my kids home in time for evening activities, I forgot it. I didn't even realize that I had forgotten it until Friday night. That meant that it was going to be Monday before I could get back to see if it was still around. Stan offered to go to the park for me on Monday while he was at work.

He did. He hunted down the parks guy and asked about my blanket. He was told that it was most likely in the bottom of the dumpster. That huge dumpster in the parking lot. The one full of weekend debris from those who had enjoyed the lovely weather we have been having and the remains of softball tournament celebrations. I wouldn't have climbed in. I would just have mourned the loss of the blanket and gone on. Not my sweet, loving husband. His love for me moved him to dig in that dumpster to the very bottom. After finding another blanket, he almost gave up thinking the parks manager was mistaken, but he didn't stop until he reached the bottom. There it was. A mess that he brought home and washed and hung on the line so that I would feel blessed and loved and cherished. I am a fortunate woman.

His actions reminded me of another ugly symbol of sacrificial love. The cross. It isn't pretty. It is a symbol of a horrible, ugly, painful way to die. At the time, it was the most shameful way to be killed. In spite of this, Jesus willingly went to the cross to take the penalty for my sin. His great love led Him to sacrificial love so that I would know how deeply I am loved and that I am priceless in His eyes. That is true love beyond measure.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Do You Know This Person

I recently saw a 20 year reunion picture from my elementary school. ( Yes, I am older than that. It was an old reunion picture). It was interesting to me to see how easy it was to pick out some of the people and how difficult it was to remember others. The easiest ones were the people that I spent 12 years in school with. The ones that I saw day in and day out nine months of each year. The ones I played with on the playground and saw at the pool during the summer. Obviously those that I was most familiar with were the easiest to recognize even after 20 years.

Do you know that it is like that with God? The more time we spend with Him, the better we know Him, the easier He is to recognize. The longer you know the Lord, the easier it is to see Him in everything around you. He has revealed Himself in all of nature so that no one has excuse. Do you know Him well enough to see Him all around you everywhere and every day? I hope so. If not, it isn't too late. Start spending time with Him everyday getting to know Him better and enjoying who He is. You don't want to miss out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

About the Clay

“Have thine own way, Lord. Have thine own way. Thou art the potter. I am the clay” I was thinking on this hymn the other day. Meditating on being the clay. Just what does that mean? Clay is not really that remarkable. It is mud. Dirt. The stuff your mom yells at you about when you walk through the house with it on your shoes. It isn’t valuable just sitting there in the ground. It is only after the potter has done his work that the clay becomes desirable at all.
Clay is soft and squishy. It can be molded into any shape and stamped with any impression at all. All kinds of outside forces affect what the clay becomes. The potter uses all kinds of tools to make the clay into the vessel he can use best. Until it is fired, that clay is still pliable. It can be changed into something else. It can be molded by another to use for a different purpose.
The firing changes the clay. It makes the clay hard, permanent, unchanging. We certainly don’t enjoy the heat and discomfort that comes with the fire, but it is necessary so that our maker’s stamp is permanently upon us. Until we experience the fire, we don’t realize how permanent his love is. When he walks through those tough times with us, we know that we bear his mark forever.
It isn’t a perfect analogy. None is. But it does make me think about God and how he is making me into the woman He wants me to be. Every time I feel the heat, I want to remember that God is making His eternalimpression on my life.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Homeschool Education

Homeschooling is a great way to educate. I am not talking about your children here; I am talking about you. When I started this job 21 years ago, I thought I was doing it because it was the best thing for our children. I wanted them to have an education that fit their needs and developed
a desire to learn more. What I didn’t realize then was that God was going to use this process to teach me so much.
1. I learned about my kids. I have five children and each of them is a very interesting individual with their own gifts and talents. Having them at home everyday has given me time to really get to know (and enjoy) them. I have been able to spend time with them as they discover the wonder of nature, how radio parts (and later car parts) go back together, the joy of different art mediums,
and so many more experiences. It has been such a pleasure to see the expressions on their faces as they learn new things for themselves.
2. I have learned about myself. Like most homeschool moms, I have realized how little I retained from my education. I have learned right alongside my children and have enjoyed it. I have learned that I am more resilient than I realized. My brain cells have not all died off, and I can still learn new things even after my kids are grown and gone.
3. I have learned about God. I think that God must chuckle when another new family decides to homeschool. We all start with the greatest of expectations and quickly see that nothing goes according to plan. God teaches us patience, compassion, mercy, perseverance, and grace. Most of all, God has taught me to turn to Him daily. I make mistakes with my kids each and every day, but God is good and faithful to cover those mistakes and use them to accomplish His purposes. Homeschooling has strengthened my relationship with my Lord and Savior. There is so much more that I have learned. I know that no one will die if the bathrooms aren’t spotless, true friends ignore the clutter in the living room, everyone has their own gifts (so find a friend who enjoys dissection and invite your kids to her science lesson), dinners can be made in advance and frozen, living on a budget builds character, people are a greater investment than anything else, and I REALLY LIKE MY KIDS (especially as teens). Homeschooling has blessed me in
countless ways. I know the experience will bless the rest of you too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Why is it that in America, a country that guarantees free speech, we seem to have a problem with Christians who exercise that right? I was reading an article a couple of days ago about Kirk Cameron. Evidently, he stated on a television show that he believed that homosexuality was wrong, a sin. Horrors! The author was livid that anyone would say such a thing. According to him, Mr. Cameron was supposedly out of step with mainstream American Christianity. So what? Kirk was expressing his belief. He didn’t say everyone had to believe that way. He didn’t call Americans to arms to protest homosexuality. He didn't say anyone should hate homosexuals.He just stated that he believed it was a sin because the Bible says it is a sin. Why are we not okay with that? Why must we jump down his throat because he believes the Bible and is willing to say in public that he believes it?
A few of my high school friends were complaining recently about a Catholic priest. They want him fired. Why? This priest had the audacity to deny communion to a practicing lesbian at her mother’s funeral. The Catholic church has long been vocal in its opposition to homosexuality. Catholics and non Catholics alike understand that the church teaches this is sinful. Here is a church leader who is practicing what the church says it believes. The Bible condemns homosexuality, the Catholic church teaches it is wrong, and the priest followed this teaching
to deny communion to this woman. She grew up in a Catholic home. It was no surprise to her that she shouldn’t take communion in that church, but she is angry that the priest actually followed the teachings of the church. Isn’t that ironic? We complain about the hypocrites in
the churches these days, but we want the church leaders to be hypocrites. It seems like these days we are all for letting people say and do what they want as long as it isn’t based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
What kind of twisted, warped society are we? I want Americans to continue to have the right of free speech. The media never condemns actors who speak about supporting homosexuality. I want to belong to a church where the leaders support the teachings of their church. If I don't agree with those teachings, I need to find a different church, not complain because the leadership does agree.Is there something wrong with that?