Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Darker than Dora

We just finished our Vacation Bible School week at church. I have reached a new level of mommy-dom as I not only purchased the CD of VBS songs, I jam out to it in my car on a regular basis. Move over emo and post punk, "ha-la-la-la-la-lalelujah" is here to stay. Something that occurred to me today as I was driving home from the health food store; the new tunes blaring from the speakers. The life of a Christian deals a lot with death. We die to ourselves every day, or we are supposed to. The great reward that we put all our hope in comes after our mortal bodies die. This comes up even as we try to pass our faith on to our children. One of the songs on the Vacation Bible School soundtrack is a peppy version of the old hymn, "Oh the Deep Deep Love of Jesus." One of the lines in the song is "Leading onward, leading homeward, to thy glorious rest above." I can't really think of any mainstream media geared toward kids that talks about what happens after they die. I certainly haven't heard Sponge Bob or Dora talk about their eternal resting place lately. It's what makes the life of a Christian different, a little darker, and dangerously more beautiful than anything the world can offer.

From time to time, I've heard Christian parents get offended when their teen wants to wear clothes bearing skulls on them, or seem to identify with death or darkness. I would challenge them to realize the importance of death in the daily life of one who makes Christ Lord of their lives: His death make it possible for us to have life. His pain makes it possible for us to have joy. And our greatest joy comes in earthly death - at which point we enter into glory with no more tears and no more goodbyes.

I look forward to sharing the beauty of death with my son someday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rich Girl

I will always remember a sermon given by my friend, Paul. He started by introducing the idea that the individuals sitting in the congregation were rich. I expected to hear a sermon about the fact that we were spiritually rich...crowned with blessings for being a part of the family of God, or were rich because we had a mansion in heaven waiting for us. Instead, Paul took the sermon in a different direction. He was, in fact, referring to monetary, physical riches. He had pages of statistics and figures that reminded us that the fact that we ate breakfast this morning or had a vehicle of any sort made us richer than most of the population of this world. That has always stuck with me, and it often comes to mind as I begin to feel squeezed in our two bedroom apartment. I was warned about how much stuff a baby would bring into your life, but I had no idea until I experienced it myself. There is literally a two foot wide path through our living room that we must maneuver to get from room to room. Lining the path are toys, baby equipment, blankets, carseats and other things that always need to be within arm's reach. Saturday we made the mistake of going to an open house for a new builder that's coming to town. The model home, of course, was decorated beautifully. It was an unusually nice March day in Mid Michigan, and sunlight was streaming into the brand new kitchen featuring granite countertops and ceramic tile. I imagined how much room we'd have to move around - to have friends over, to let our son learn to crawl in an area more than four square feet. I was instantly discontent. In another great sermon preached two days ago by my friend, Brandon, I was reminded that our circumstances in this life are often not comfortable. That it was never God's intention for us to live cushy, comfy lives that make us happy all the time. For some reason, in the season of life that we're in, God's best for us is this two bedroom apartment. He has things to teach us: possibly more reliance on his provision, maybe the joys that come with simplicity of life, perhaps something that I haven't even realized yet. So today I am looking at my surroundings with THANKFULNESS...recognizing that there are millions, if not billions of people in this world that would be so thankful for the oatmeal I ate for breakfast this morning or even one of the six pair of shoes strewn about the front door. It's a crazy ride to be on this journey with God. Today I'm so grateful for this simple stretch of highway he has me on.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Painful Joy

I've heard the quote (usually embroidered on a pillow) that says, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I didn't really understand that fully before becoming a mom. It's strange how you can love someone so much to the point that it hurts you. Each new step is a little death of the child that grew inside you for nine months. I felt this for the first time when my son's umbilical cord stump fell off. I felt an emptiness inside knowing that the last sign of his physical connection to me was gone. I felt this again this week as we transitioned from the bassinet to the crib. I was excited to transform our bedroom from nursery back to grownup status, and I spent a couple hours cleaning and restoring the room to the way it was pre-baby. When I crawled into bed that night, I realized that my baby wouldn't be within arm's reach. All the little things we did to prepare for him were put away...the little lantern that we used during the night to check on him, the parenting magazines that I looked at during late night nursing sessions, and the pile of pillows I needed to prop myself up with so as not to fall asleep while I nursed. Logically, this is silly; we live in apartment that puts his crib within five yards of our bedroom door. I can still hear every whimper and coo. But there's something in my heart that had to let go this week, and I fear that there are many, many similar days in my future. But isn't that why we have children? We don't go through this major life change to have a baby to play with. We have children to raise them, i.e., to pour our lives into them with hope and prayer that they grow to be independent people with integrity and values, people with their own role to play in the kingdom of God. So, I choose to acknowledge the little deaths as part of the deep love I have for this precious baby, and celebrate them as fulfilling my role as a mom. Anyone need some newborn onesies?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Long Nap

A long nap is a generous gift for a stay at home mom of an infant. My poor little guy is suffering from a cold, so I'm encouraging him to sleep as much as possible. Our days this week have been sleep, nurse, sleep, nurse, etc. Today he's decided to take a marathon nap, which immediately puts me into a frenzy of "how many things can I get done before he wakes up?!" One of those things is usually to try and spend some time with God, which has definitely become more of a challenge since becoming a mom. I never thought laundry or cleaning the toilet would become a temptation, but I find myself longing for the feeling of accomplishment that comes with doing those things. I often put them ahead of taking a few minutes alone with God, and then the angel wakes up and my focus goes back to him. Today, though, God blessed me with some words from Hebrews 10: 19-22. "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." I've noticed how often I deal with guilt as a new mom. I'm tired, but I should play with him more instead of praying he would take a nap. I should be singing and rocking him instead of nursing him twice in an hour so I can drink another cup of coffee and watch Kathie Lee and Hoda. Today God reminded me that guilt is not from Him. I am confidently standing in the Most Holy Place because of Jesus' blood alone, and I am walking in the freedom that brings. He's still sleeping...maybe I'll go tackle that toilet.