Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Radical Response: Week 6


Chapter 6:
How Much is Enough?: American Wealth and a World of Poverty

Oh, this chapter is right up my alley. I've been dealing with the plague that "stuff" has brought on my life for a while now. One day several years ago I just woke up and suddenly felt engulfed by it! Everywhere I looked there was more stuff. So much I couldn't even manage it all. It always needed dusting, picking up, putting away, organizing, etc. There was no end. Sadly, my first thought (and the one I went with) was that we needed a bigger house so we'd have a place to PUT all of the stuff. Well, one big house with lots of storage space later, it finally dawned on me:

I can't control the stuff. 

I am overwhelmed by how much there is, and how much work it requires of me! So, basically, the stuff is controlling ME! 

Huh. Considering God's plan is to GIVE out of your abundance...not HOARD out of it, is it any wonder that it got so bad?  

Don't you see? It's a test. And I'm quite sure that most of us are FAILING it on a daily basis. 

So you've been blessed with much. A great salary. A large house. A manicured lawn. Quality furnishings filling every bare wall. And plenty of trinkets, decorative knick-knacks, spare sets of dishes, a wide range of shoe choices, and a well-stocked pantry. What now? Sit around enjoying it all while you view the latest episode of some trite drama on your very large flatscreen? (I hope y'all know I have a very large flatscreen. And I hate it. I love it. I hate it.) Unfortunately, that's what most of us do. And then we go spend some MORE money on ourselves and get ourselves further and further into debt (one kind or another).

But God's plan is to bless YOU so that YOU can see the needs of others and, because of your transformation in Jesus Christ, YOU will have compassion on them and YOU will give YOUR stuff, your money, your time, your gifts...to meet those needs.

Have you passed that test?

I confess, I haven't. 

I've failed miserably.

Because I haven't cared. ("But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" 1 John 3:17 ESV)

I haven't cared and I haven't even NOTICED anyone else but myself for SO very long. But what if we noticed that...

"More than twenty-six children today will breathe their last breath due to starvation or a preventable disease."  (emphasis added)

Are you okay with that? Does it bother you at all? Is it just not REAL enough for you? Or is that the kind of statement (or program) that makes you switch the channel on your very large flatscreen?

I mean. That's an atrocity. But it's especially unfathomable in light of the luxuries WE all have and yet are discontented with. Disgusting. And then I think of all the people who actually believe that those in great need like this are there because of a lack of faith or a lifestyle of sin. That as long as we are "in God's will" and obeying Him, etc. we'll have "health and wealth." (Down with the evil Prosperity Gospel!) Here's a news flash: Faith in Christ does not equal worldly prosperity. PLEASE! Consider all His saints all over this dangerous planet risking. their. lives. just to know Him more. That takes faith. US going home to our huge homes with their adjustable thermostats and nice, cozy beds after our fabulous restaurant dinners...well...does NOT.

And that's me! Oh, I've had my moments of despair. I've had my share of financial troubles. I wouldn't, in fact, say I'm free and clear even NOW. But I have not had to watch my children starve right before my very eyes. I have not had to roam the streets looking for shelter. I have not lived in a tiny, poorly-built shack where raw sewage runs right by my door. I have not had to go hungry. I have not had to worship in secret. I have not been without a home or medical care. 

And yet, I often take it all for granted. Wanting more. Keeping more for myself. Giving not nearly enough. 

But here's the great thing about God. God is just awesome enough to take my affluent lifestyle, bring me to my knees by allowing the very thing we Americans all strive for to crush my spoiled-brat spirit, and then cause me and my husband to desire to sell our large home (on the market for 5.5 months now) and most of the stuff in it so we can get out from under debt's very large thumb...so that we can have a surplus of money each month. A surplus of money with which we can help send missionaries, we can give away to the poor, and we can bless others with. And a surplus of time with which to train our children better and serve others more, since we won't be wasting all our time dealing with our stuff! God is just awesome enough to provide for the poor by teaching me a hard lesson about stuff. You know. A lesson He already made perfectly clear in. His. Word.


Because...

"...I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, 'I wish you would have kept more for yourself.'"

Let me be clear. This is not a judgment post. I just have to joyfully declare that God is changing my desires. Am I a full-out, give-it-all-away radical yet? No! I'm definitely a work in progress. I still struggle with unbelief (that God will provide) so I want to hoard things. I still struggle with treasuring earthly memories and things instead of heavenly rewards.("The mark of Christ followers is that their hearts are in heaven and their treasures are spent there.") The point is, I struggle.

But God. But God!

'Cause I am struggling less than I used to. Really--the very fact that I struggle at all--that it's no longer easy for me to just go on about my willy-nilly stuff-buying and stuff-storing ways--is a testament to the work He is doing in me. And I KNOW the Lord will get me where He wants me, and I can't wait to see all His plans unfold!

For more responses to chapter 6 in Radical by David Platt, visit Marla Taviano's blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Project 365: Week 43

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Did a little planning/thought-processing (very little) for our upcoming trip to Virginia.




Monday, October 18, 2010

Went to the library to load up (literally) on movies and audio books for our trip. This pic just shows the top row (minus a few which walked away). There's another whole row under them. We have around 24 movies and 6 or 7 books. Now. I just hope that's enough...




Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WHILE Paul was gone hearing Wayne Grudem speak at our church tonight, I cleaned kiddie bedrooms--because they desperately needed it just for the fun of it. Found this birthday card from Noah to Paul, which I felt definitely needed to be stored in digital form for posterity's sake:




Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I so enjoyed my Bible study this morning...AT the kitchen table...AT 8:00! WITH a healthy breakfast, which I ate sitting down! And it was QUIET. Hmmm...where were the children, you ask? Let's just say I have a VERY good friend. A friend who, in her goodness, picked up all.four.kids. and took them to her house last night and won't bring them back until TONIGHT. Today is my "be productive" day. Awesome!


Go here to see what the kids did while away. (P.S. My friend is amazing!)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gabriel ended up needing only an hour per week for articulation this year. We negotiated with the "powers that be" to let us use the same therapy providers that did his two-year-old program...because they are a whopping three minutes from our house and right next to our library! Since his therapist will no longer come TO our home, and we have to go to THEM, I need it to be easy. (Can I get an "Amen?") What a blessing that they actually let us!! Today was his first day back...AND he gets to have the same therapist he's been missing so terribly since he turned three in May. I tried to get a decent phone picture of him thoroughly enjoying their gym, but that boy just couldn't be still for two seconds, plus the light was streaming in from the windows. Not a great picture, but I think you get the idea: he liked it a little bit!  :)




Friday, October 22, 2010

Had ballet rehearsal today.




Saturday, October 23, 2010

Well, the big day finally arrived. Off we go to Virginia!! Paul's sister and her family live there, and we are very excited to go visit them. But it's going to be a looooooooooong drive. These were some of our better moments...




We stopped in Tennessee somewheres for the night and gave the "four-kids-in-a-bed-sleeping-horizontally" thing a shot, but they were just too wound up about being in a hotel! (We obviously don't get out much.) So one "itty bitty" had to move over with us. We certainly didn't get just a fabulous night of sleep, but that's okay. More driving tomorrow!! 



Sunday, October 24, 2010

So. much. more. driving today. Oh, man. We had to stop and stretch our legs a whole lot more. Just to stay sane.




We found a beautiful, colorful spot complete with a brambly country fence right next to a rinky-dink gas station for a great photo spot, though not every one was cooperative.





And the drive was so scenic. A magnificent state!


(from the moving vehicle)

Stay tuned for next week's vacation pictures. You know...when we're actually THERE! Now I'm off to Sara's to catch up on everybody's posts from LAST WEEK in addition to this week. Whew! (But what are vacations for??)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clean


Recently, as I was changing the crib sheets in the middle of the night for my littlest "little man," it occurred to me how very much I enjoy making things better for my children. How when they have boo-boos, I enjoy being the one they always run to for comfort and care. How they believe deep within their souls that I have the power to make everything all better again. Sometimes with a mere kiss! And how, as was the case this night, when they're sick and make a mess all over their helpless selves, as unpleasant as it is to "deal with," how I enjoy cleaning up the mess, washing their little feverish bodies, helping them get on new clothes, putting nice, clean sheets back on the bed, and soothing them back to sleep. All things made new. I truly treasure those times when I can CARE for them like that.

And as I was thinking all these things, the Lord spoke to my heart.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
"I want to care for you like that, too. 

You, lying in your own filth, don't disgust me. 

I see your heart--the WHO you are because of Jesus--and that's what I love. 

I jump at the chance to get you out of that filth, to clean you up, to help you feel better. My heart breaks when you're sick, hurting, messy, distraught, helpless. 

I am your daddy, so no amount of "filth" can keep me away from you. If you will only just call to me. When you are feverish and disoriented, call my name in the night. And I'll be there before you even begin calling! I will wash you clean and give you a fresh start. 

I want to comfort you.  

I want to hold you close so I can sing over you and give you rest. 

You are my child. My baby. And I want what's best for you."



I'm learning a lot through this thing called "Motherhood."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Project 365: Week 42


This week I'm doing a black & white installment of 
my Project 365. Just 'cause.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I caught these two playing with a friend's shopping cart. They would fill it up with all kinds of stuff around the house, push it to the bedroom, and then unload it one item at a time. Gabe provided the necessary "beep beeps" as the item was "scanned" across the railing on his bed. Then Saylor told him the total, and he opened up his wallet (a greeting card that plays "The Hallelujah Chorus" no less!) and handed her a photo out of it as payment. Cracked me up!




Monday, October 11, 2010

Saylor got this new movie for her birthday. Fit for a princess. So we had suckers and family movie time after dinner tonight.




Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tonight we watched our Passport to India video together. 




Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Today we met good friends at the zoo and spent several hours catching up and seeing the sights. Saylor and her special friend "D" were surprised to find they'd BOTH lost a tooth!!

This chimp was angry today--very aggressive. He'd get a running start, come flying toward us, jump as high as he could, and then throw something like a rock or a stick up toward his spectators! Made me kind of sad.


 But this cutie-pie was a delight to watch. So playful!


And the otters stole our hearts.


Here's the crew outside the zoo. (Like that rhyme?) Seven children between us (although one of hers was at school, so normally it's eight). 




Thursday, October 14, 2010

First thing this morning I left on a chartered bus to Fort Worth with the ladies of my church. We were headed to the True Woman '10 Conference for the weekend. 


 Perhaps the biggest draw that got me to come to this conference was that the Gettys would be leading worship. I HEART the Gettys. I'd tell you I got to meet Kristyn backstage, but you'd never believe it because I was too starstruck (and nervous and ridiculous and flustered) to think about getting our picture made together. Boo! 



Friday, October 15, 2010

The conference continued to be just. what. I. needed. Absolutely amazing in every way. I especially enjoyed getting to know some new friends and hanging out with these ladies.


And...uh...as if there were any question...this is definitely Texas.


Meanwhile back at home...

Somebody helped vacuum the car. Yay!


And there were sweet bedtime kisses I, unfortunately, missed out on. :(




Saturday, October 16, 2010

This morning they gave our pastor, who by the way was the emcee of the conference, a cowboy hat.


And then the Gettys even let him play with the band! 


We then signed a Manifesto about true womanhood. The worship was fantastic! I've never been so moved in all my life. In fact, this was BY FAR the best conference I've EVER attended. EVER! If you get a chance to go to one...RUN, don't walk. And I mean that.

Meanwhile back at home...

Somebody made a delicious treat for her daddy.


Whew! Long, but wonderful week. My mind is cram-packed with the Lord's goodness. I can't wait to start working through the things I learned. But if you think my busy month is over, you'd be very mistaken. Just you WAIT!

Hop on over to Sara's blog to see everyone else's week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Radical Response: Week 5

Chapter Five:
The Multiplying Community: How All of Us Join Together to Fulfill God's Purpose

I'm continuing along in the Radical Read-Along and have been seeing confirmation everywhere about the things I'm reading, the things God is convicting me about. It makes me excited (and, honestly, a little nervous) about what God may have in store for me and my family. 

But after reading this week's chapter, I must admit something. If I'm really being truthful about my entire spiritual walk thus far, I would have to say I've had a "gimme" attitude about it. I have mostly been a RECEIVER. I have attended conferences and concerts so I could be fed. I have spiritual cravings, and I want them satisfied. I sit in church thinking, "How does this apply to me and my life?" There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But most of the time, at least with me, it stops there. It stops with me. As if I am the "end of the story"! As if God just wants ME to hear and learn and grow.

Jesus, on the other hand, (and isn't He always on the other hand from me?!) was a REPRODUCER. He spent His entire life with twelve chosen men, building into their lives, teaching them, amazing them, growing them, loving them, and knowing them (and all their flaws).

At our church we have a saying: "Who is pouring into you...and who are you pouring into?"

Paul and I have had first-hand experience with what it's like to have people pouring into you. In fact, lots of different people have touched our lives and taught us things, but one couple in particular really challenged us, guided us, loved us, and truly mentored us more than any of the others combined. And it all started out quite simply by inviting us into their home, being willing to share their very valuable time with us, and just living out their lives in front of us. It was a wonderful time of growth for us, though certainly not an easy time. (I'm sure it wasn't easy for our friends, either!)

But what they did is what WE are called to do. We are called to make disciples. How? By welcoming people into our lives...by loving them...and then by teaching them.

This kind of discipleship, though, is not very common. Some of the blame here lies in the way church and other social groups are often structured. MOST of the time, we tend to flock together with people LIKE us. Usually to people our age and people with whom we have things in common. Paul and I have long felt a desire to be mentors to those coming behind us, but too often small groups at church are cliquish and lack real lived-out wisdom because all the "wise guys" (and I don't mean that how it sounds) are in their very own group, while all the "young'uns" are leading themselves, basically, in THEIR own group. Has this been anybody else's experience?

But I'll certainly have to pick up some of the blame myself. Because WE haven't done for someone else what our friends did for us. And we could. We just haven't. And we have no plausible excuse. Of course, it's not all about building into those who already know Christ. It's also about reaching out to those who don't. And my confession is this: I have been much too caught up in the cooking/cleaning/diaper/laundry/discipline/exhaustion that my life seems to MOSTLY be about. Too caught up to have ANY time for anyone else in the world, this city, or even my own neighborhood. I barely have time for the people I KNOW, much less the ones I don't. And I really think it's deep down because I don't WANT to find the time. It would be too much effort. And I want my life to be easy. And speed-bump free. (Because it's all about me.) Frankly.

The fact is, though, we are responsible for teaching God's Word to others on a daily basis. This firstly starts at home with the children we've been blessed to raise as God's own. It is our job to teach them every day and in every moment about God. Again, I confess that much of the time I'm far too concerned with the unimportant practical stuff rather than the all-important spiritual stuff that I've been called to pass down. God keeps having to hit me over the head (which hurts, doesn't it?) with the question, "Does this matter? Does it advance my kingdom here on earth? Are you equipping warriors for the cross today?"

And then, heaven knows I could stand to invite someone over every once in a while. Maybe I could even go do something nice for someone I don't even know, for the purpose of actually GETTING to know them and then introducing them to Jesus Christ. There's a concept!

So what does this mean for me right now?? It means not being so self-focused when I hear God's Word being preached. Instead of thinking, "What can I get out of this?" I need to be thinking, "How can I listen to His Word so that I am equipped to teach this Word to others?" (quotes by David Platt)

Hmmm...once again. Taking the focus off of ME...and putting it back where it belongs. On God. And what it is HE wants for the world and for the individuals in the world. And then having JOY in getting to be a part of that process! JOY in the responsibility. Because it matters above all else! Christians need to be known less for what they DON'T do...and more for what they DO. (Ouch.) 

So what am I DOing

And in what ways do my actions show my belief (or unbelief) in God? 

Have I made any more impact on the world than I did before I was saved?

Wow. Do I really want to answer those questions?

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." --Matt. 28:19-20

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Project 365: Week 41


I am floored at how quickly this year is flying by. I still feel somewhat new to Project 365, but I guess I'm really not, now that we only have a couple of months or so left! It certainly has been fun. I will definitely have to continue. It's so nice to be able to visually SEE what all we've done with our year. Thanks to Sara for giving me the opportunity to take part! Okay. This is off the subject and completely random, but did y'all notice today's date is 10-10-10?? Whoa. Cool.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

We had another church baptism out in the country this afternoon. Love these precious times with our church family.


And this morning during breakfast, Saylor complained that it hurt to bite her apples. So I checked and, just as I expected, she had a very loose tooth. But by bedtime it was even looser! Can you tell?


Wait. This one shows it even better.


Saylor wasn't ready to have it pulled and didn't want her daddy anywhere near her (thanks to her brother's graphic explanations as to how the "pullings" go down). I personally greatly dislike pulling teeth, but she wanted me to check it. I couldn't really tell much. Just wiggling it left me with the impression that it wasn't quite ready, but it was slippery in there, so I grabbed a washcloth so I could get a better grip. Mind you, I was just going to see HOW loose it was. I barely lifted straight up. Barely! And out it popped. Saylor didn't even know I'd pulled it. I wasn't even sure myself!! Ha! 


Well, that was easy.




Monday, October 4, 2010

This is several weeks old, but TODAY I ran across it and decided to take a picture for posterity's sake. I'm posting this kind of stuff at my blog Snips, Snails, & Pretty Pigtails.


This is how we often do math. (He left off a little of the explanation at the end, but you get the idea.) Now...ahem...on to spelling.



Tuesday, October 5, 2010
My Darling Daughter's Birthday

We took Saylor out for her birthday tonight. She's 6!! (I can't believe it.) My food was incredible. I had gnocchi, made with pastured chicken from Falling Sky Farm, one of our local greats! It was incredible. (Did I say that already?) Seriously awesome. I practically licked the plate clean. Let me just sum it up in three words for you: "Gorgonzola cream sauce." Oh, yeah...


And Saylor. Bless her heart. All we gave her was a new leotard and some tennis shoes I found on clearance. But she was SO happy opening them! And SO thankful. Which makes ME so thankful.




Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Today I'm bottling my brew. Kombucha, that is.


Oh! And guess what came in the mail today! One of our self-addressed envelopes in our Operation Christmas Child boxes came back from India. (We knew that's where they had gone, because ours were tracked and they let us know a month or so after they were sent.) It was exciting to hear back from this family, and we hope to be able to keep in touch with them. It's especially exciting, since we just started doing "My Passport to India."




Thursday, October 7, 2010

I spent much of the day in the kitchen today. Getting ready for the upcoming Two-Birthday-Party-Day on Saturday. I thought you'd get a kick out of my counter top extenders:


Do you run out of space on your cluttered counters? Well, no more!! You, too, can have peace of mind in your kitchen! Solve all your troubles by installing these very convenient, patented Counter Top Extenders!!  (Also known as...ummm...drawers.)



Friday, October 8, 2010

Today was even busier than yesterday! I was baking like a mad woman. And while things were in the oven, I was  folding laundry and picking up toys galore! So when my friend called and said she was bringing me her 6-qt. slow cooker because I was the first to respond to her email offering it up for free, I was ecstatic. Imagine my gratitude when she showed up with dinner to put into it, too!!! What a blessing! God used her servant's heart to help ME out on a crazy day! Praise the Lord!


And I am super pumped to have this thing, I tell ya! I've been trying to feed my family of six with a 4-qt. slow cooker all these years. It was definitely time for an upgrade!



Saturday, October 9, 2010

Atticus turned TWO today! (Oh, that's hard to say.) He had an airplane party. Or should I say "pa-pane"?


And then we had a party for Saylor. A baby doll theme.


Yep. Two parties. One day. That would make me...crazy one, tired mama.When I said it would be a busy month, I wasn't exaggerating. Oy. And October ain't even over yet. Let the craziness continue...

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