Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Before

Any guesses what we were doing to our basement?

(Some of you already know about the transition - pictures of the final product coming soon!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gnawing on celery.

In just the last week, I spent . . .
  • countless hours numbing myself from my reality as I stared blankly at the television.
  • numerous hours facebook-stalking mere acquaintances as I mindlessly clicked through the photo albums of total strangers.
  • a deafening amount of time running my mouth to friends in an attempt to process another stupid decision I made out of pride.
  • a dictionary's worth of words rambling on and on and on to my sister about things that no longer matter because I was simply caught up in a moment.
  • a sickening number of brain cells anxiously pondering the what ifs of my seemingly uneventful life.
  • a disturbing amount of time nagging my husband about schedules and future plans and last night's miscommunication.
  • a saddening amount of energy beating myself up for the way I reacted to my children as a result of my own selfishness and lack of sleep.
I'm no math whiz, but if you added up all the hours spent on the activities listed above, I have a funny feeling that they would closely match the number of hours I spent physically awake last week (which is a whole heck of a lot).

And that's what pisses me off. It didn't take much self-reflection for me to realize that I spend a ridiculous amount of time seeking to fill my empty bucket by grasping for things of this world, my own inner demons, the reassurances from others, and a whole bunch of cultural trash.

Not God.

Not His Word.

Not prayer.

What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I clearly hungry for the very thing that Jesus promises to give but instead I continue to seek the very thing that is making me more hungry? It's like I am gnawing on celery to satisfy my appetite but I'm burning more calories in the process.

It makes no sense.

Yet I continue to follow the path of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

In chapter two of Radical, Platt describes a group of church leaders in Asia who risk their lives in order to unite and study the Bible for days at a time. I am praying that I might possess merely a fraction of the passion for God that those men possess.

I am praying that God will awaken in my heart a deep and abiding passion for the gospel as the grand revelation of God (Platt, 40).

Because here's the truth: God's promises never falter. They never weaken. They never cease.

And because He promises to deliver blessings, goodness, and rewards (in addition to providing for my needs) to those who seek Him first, I am asking . . . praying . . . begging for God to position me in a way that I am open to His fulfillment. To the joy and peace and contentment that can only come from Him.

I'm sick of clogging up my soul with crap making it damn hard to open my heart to God's voice.

I'm only two chapters into this stupid book, and I'm a complete and utter mess.

Fortunately my God is meeting me exactly where I am at right now. And for that I have never been so grateful.

For more reactions to Chapter Two of Racical, check this out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quitting comfortable.

I'm unsettled.

My dear friend and mentor, Marla, mentioned reading this book, and because I like to live on the edge, I joined the read-along over on her blog. We are one week into this thing, and already it's been a wild ride leaving me all sorts of rattled and jumbled.

Not exactly the feel-good book of the year.

And though my heart is SO not ready, Radical is exactly what my soul needs.

I am overflowing with so many thoughts and emotions and realizations, but I am far from being able to articulate most of them.

And though I fear the vulnerability that comes with putting my crap out there, stick with me as I begin to process one of those realizations that is really working its way down, down, down into a more digestible form.

David Platt, the book's author, is on a mission to take back our faith from the American dream. On page 7 he writes, "somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable."

Comfortable. Comfortable. Comfortable.

That's exactly what I am.


And that's when it hit me. Comfortable is exactly what I don't want to be but I'm so afraid to quit.

You see, in my heart, I've always had this urge to do more - something bigger - something more profound than living this cozy life in the 'burbs, surrounded by the cushions of my generous family and dear, dear friends. Even yesterday I found myself in a conversation with a friend, telling her that if my husband was up for it, I'd move to a "lesser" part of town (aka, the ghetto) as a way to reach out to a hurting community. Take it a step farther, and I'd even move to a lesser part of the world, if my husband felt called.

But I'm realizing that much of that desire has little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with me. You see, I can visualize myself in the ghetto (just a few highway exits away from my warm and hospitable extended family) opening my door to neighboring Americans who happen to have a smaller checking account balance than we do. I can even visualize myself in Africa singing Jesus Loves Me with children who look nothing like my own but still call me Ma-Ma and think I'm somethin' special because I'm from America.

But here's where it gets ugly. I'd be willing to move in the name of Jesus, to a place where nobody knows my name, but I haven't been willing to open my doors to equally "needy" folks in this sheltered and thriving community because of my own selfish motives. Sure, I've thought about it. But then satan slips in and tells me, "Why would you want to do that? They'll just think you're crazy once they really get to know you Jesus freaks, and heck, they don't need your hospitality anyhow." You see, I don't want these people who know me as "the sweet girl next door" to know me as the "Jesus freak." Because that'd be plain awkward.

And about Africa. In my cute little daydream, we're sitting in a circle, singing songs and braiding hair. It's like something you'd sail by on It's a Small World. We might stay a while, pass along a box of Bibles and leave behind a generous check, and then return to the land of greed and consumerism via an air-conditioned 747.

But if Africa was really Iran, and those cute little kids were actually men with weapons accompanied by death threats and severe persecution - Are you kidding me? Keep me the hell away from that.

But here's the radical reality. Those terrorists in Iran are just as deserving of God's Kingdom as those beautiful African babies. You see, I don't want the radical calling. I'm only cool with being called if it's cute and returns me safely to cozy.

And my have-known-me-as-the-girl-next-door-for-four-years neighbors are EXACTLY who God is calling me to love IN JESUS' NAME right now. Forget inner-city fantasies. God has me in this zip code, within these walls, at this very time. Why the heck would He call me to serve in a different community if I can't even get my stinkin' act together in the one where He currently has me? Especially when this community comes with freedom of religion?


But before I let satan tell me I suck, because trust me, I'm tempted to end this entire blog post with those two words in bold font - all caps, I am going to thank GOD for humbling me enough to realize what desperately needs to change in my life.

Comfortable. Comfortable. Comfortable.

I live in the most comfortable country in the world, and it's about darn time that I step out just a smidge in an attempt to share my Jesus.

Am I really so darn selfish as to not glorify God in my interactions with those around me? Do I really have so little faith that I don't believe God will take care of what people think when they see us pray or read the Bible or make a decision based on Godly principles as opposed to secular ones?

Thank you, Lord, for speaking directly to my heart and soul as I begin this radical journey. And help me as I take steps of faith toward you and away from me. Because my nature tells me to think of me, me, me. And then me some more.

But I know, deep in my heart and at the core of my soul, that there is so much more to be gained when I think of You. And I never ever want to quit that.

*For more reactions to Chapter One of Radical, check this out.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I could look at her all day.

I really, really could. She simply makes me smile.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What I learned from the toy box.

Can I start by saying that toy box was the best $80 we ever spent?

For those of you who have been to our house, you know we don't have a lot of toys "sitting out." The bulk of our loose toys fit in that box. And back in the day when it was just me and my man, we used the "toy box" as an ottoman and blanket storage. But now that our lives have been taken over by our minis and all their crap, it is used as a bench seat and toy storage (Target still carries them.) And don't worry, I'm not a big enough blogger to be bragging on Target for free product. So that plug was all out of the goodness of my heart.

Enough about that, do any of you remember this?

Sadly, I can hardly remember it. Thank heavens for digital photography.

Anyway, what amazes me most about this toy box/storage/ottoman/seat/thing, is how differently my children interact with it. I know it sounds silly, but let me explain:
  1. Henry was diving in and out of the toy box before he could even walk. And I mean literally diving (here's video proof). Harper, on the other hand, didn't even try to get into the thing until she could reach her leg over the edge. She's very proper like that, thankyouverymuch.
  2. Once in the toy box, Henry spent f-o-r-e-v-e-r trying to climb out. Harper would NEVER. When she is finished being in the toy box, she declares her unrest and demands immediate removal. She doesn't even try to get out. It's "get me out of here or your eardrums will be very, very sorry."
  3. And if for some crazy reason she did try to remove herself, and she dove out of the box like Henry did (remember the video), Harper would freak out. FREAK OUT. Henry dove out and turned right around and dove back in. Harper cries when the dog runs by her too quickly. I can't even imagine what she would do if she fell 4 inches out of the toy box.
But the funny thing is, I adore their differences. Adore them. Henry's my shake-it-off-and-jump-back-in-the-game tough guy. Harper's my how-dare-you-allow-me-to-lose-my-balance-and-fall-on-my-padded-diaper diva. And though there are moments when I secretly wish Henry would cry and insist I console him or Harper would pop back up without having me rush to her rescue, I am so thankful that they each need me differently. Because it's one less area of my life that's stagnant and comfortable and perfected. Instead I spend my days challenged and humbled and imperfect. Meaning I have to call on God a heck of a lot. Which is exactly where He wants me to be.

I can hardly wait to see what challenges H&H bring me as they grow into little people and then awkward adolescents and then rebellious teenagers.

Actually, I don't mean that at all. Growing up is for the birds. I'll stick with the toy box and all it's shenanigans as long as time allows.