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To Be Christlike

It’s interesting to me how I can look back at struggles I used to have, ones that consumed me, that no longer phase me. I can point to people I had problems with, sins that used to grip me, and say wow I don’t even have a taste for these things.I remember praying about these things, that God would come and renew my mind. I hated those sins. I was ashamed of those sins. And even more so I fell into the trap of guilt that keep me in the cycle of inadequacy. I felt like I was a disappointment to God, as I grasped for anything to pull me out.

What I don’t remember is when it all changed. It was not in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. There was nothing I could do to pinpoint some great revelation that allowed me to be more Christlike. I certainly didn’t learn to pray harder or read my bible more. If anything there were great periods of time where in I lacked devotion. So then what happened? Why do I remember being trapped by these sins as if it were a distant dream? It is like looking back on a life I used to live. How did I get out?

I am reminded of this scripture in Philippians 2:12-13.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Many people read the first part of this verse “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”and stop there. They build a doctrine of work in which man toils and toils to revitalize his life, to become more Christlike. This is a doctrine in which you conquer your sin by attending church as much as possible, memorizing scriptures as much as possible, serving others and much as possible with a hope that your work will change you. While these things are good, no doubt, they must be read in the context of the later part of this passage, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

There is a reason I don’t remember what I did to free myself from those sins, it because it wasn’t anything I did, God did it! There is a reason that it didn’t feel like making up my mind to walk a different way. Rather I can liken, the feeling of releasing these sins, to the moment when you stop fighting a current. The moment your body goes limp, you float, you follow and somehow you are safe.

God worked, is working, and will continue to work in me. The scripture says he is working in me on two accounts, 1: to will (to have the desire to do so) and 2: to act (to actually accomplish what is set before me). This is particularly good news because it is in my nature to be undisciplined and apathetic. The more I try to change the more I fail, the more I fail the less I try.

But there is something magical at work in my life, my own will giving way to the current of the Almighty God.  I wrote this because I am struggling with a sin cycle once more. I cannot seem to get it right. When I let my guard down it pops back up again. I am communing with sisters in Christ, reading my bible, seeking godly counsel but I feel stuck.

I lament and wonder if it will always be this way. But I reminded again of God’s gentle hand pulling me into the safety of his flow. Lord help me abide in you ever more…

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Day 14, If a joke falls on deaf ears, is it really a joke?: Facebook edition

14 days into my 21 day Facebook challenge and I find myself sinking into a deep extraterrestrial worm hole where facebook statuses and tweets go to die…. Ok I am a little dramatic we know that, but the fact is I miss being connected. I miss knowing whats going on! and I think I miss being heard most.

I do not lack actual humans in real life that I can converse with. I have a pretty robust social life and home life but I think my husband may be getting tired of hearing jokes I usually air on social media. I keep thinking up funny political satire, one liners and zings that fall flat into the land of nothingness. I came up with some atrocious puns the other day and shared with with a friend to no avail.  So that leads me to the question if a joke falls on deaf ears, is it really a joke?

I could analyze of of the psychological reason why my view of this represents a desperate need for validation but I don’t want to get too heady today. I just want to complain….well and this may be a slight work around but here are some things I have been thinking!

1. Since when did Chuck E Cheese bow to the god of consumerism? Is it not supposed to be a place “Where a kid can be a kid?” We took my son last night for his 2nd birthday and it was the first time I’ve stepped foot in one since I was younger. Let’s just say things have changed!  Chucke is no longer a rolly polly fluffy lovable mouse. He has been taken over by a health conscious slim version mouse one who eats salads. And by the way they now provide a fully stocked salad bar which was less then appetizing because it wdownloadas surrounded by the petri dish produced by hundreds of small children sneezing in prime allergy season.  And here is the kicker folks! I asked them what are the show times for when Chucke comes out and they play the animatronic showcase that haunted our dreams as children. It turns out they only provide this shows for reserved birthday parties!  Joke’s on you Chucke we just sat near a paid party so we could be a part of the show.

2. My husband and I had the chance to run around and play some games yesterday. I told him that ski ball has always been my game and every good arcade lover knows its where you get the most tickets. So I ask him if he wanted to know  my trick, I told its the “flick of da wrist, flack of da wrist!” Hahahaha!

3. I was helping my two year old play this little hippo game and I look down and some other kid was stealing his tickets! I mean what the gumballs people is this the world we live in!

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The Sacrament of Every Day Life

There is a myth that has permeated church culture. This myth originated from an artificial break in the natural and the supernatural. German theologians and philosophers sought to remove the mystical from the normal so as to distance God from one’s every day life and happenings.

They got it wrong. The natural and the supper natural co-mingle every time your heart, a muscle roughly the size of your fist, pumps oxygenated blood through the body. When we allow life to slow down and consider the gravity of every second, the beauty of complexity in what seems to us as minutia, we see God.

The sacraments are actions or occurrences that open up  deeper meaning to point to Christ. These things are typically considered baptism, confirmation, marriage, last rites and so on. I do not desire to be disrespectful to those who practice sacraments as devotion to Christ. I believe each one is beautiful, a moment in time that means something. But what I wish to say is, what if we can see God’s provision in the rain dripping from a tree, what if we can see his character in how a mother holds her child, what if we can see his familiarity with us, in the comfort of curling up with a good book.

Ok now I am feeling a little too Thoreau! I’m learning to slow down. To experience. To gaze. To enjoy. To relax. To love. To live. To play. To be in awe of creation. To be in awe of minutia, which leads me to be in awe of Christ.

The other day I had the most pleasant moment. A man was outside mowing his lawn and I got hit with that pungent smell of fresh cut grass as soon as I opened my door. Then I remembered my dad. He would spend a warm Saturday morning cutting grass. Usually we would have the windows open and could hear and smell what he was doing. My mom in our little yellow kitchen and gospel music blaring in the family room that usually meant to us kids that we needed to wake up and they planned to force a productive day on us. I would peep out the window and see my dad. He wore his hat tipped up so high on his head. lol I am not sure why he did that. He had these beat up old grass cutting shoes. They were so dirty he would leave them on the porch. When I was younger we actually had a barn door on our kitchen that let out to the back porch. We would open the top latch and let the air and light peek in that little yellow kitchen. All was right with the world.

My moment of grass smelling was a way to thank God, for the beauty of family, for my childhood and the security my dad and his dirty shoes brought to my family. For me those grass cutting days was a reminder that my dad took care of us. What a sweet moment found in the minutia.

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Selfies and Mental Illness: Facebook edition

I recently read another study (yes I do read a lot of studies) that found a correlation between obsessive selfie taking and mental illness! That’s right folks, that person on your news feed that takes 1000 pics of themselves in slightly modified poses, really may be a little crazy!  Now I am not sure of the scientific merit of this study however the summation goes as follows: Ones’ need to be seen (that goes above and beyond the normal use of pictures on social media) is typically related to anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and even some forms of psychosis.

I love a good selflie as much as the next gal. But I am on day 8 of my 21 day fast from social media and I find myself in a perplexing position. I’m wearing a cute new fit? With whom do I share the picture? The kids are doing something adorable? Where is my audience folks? I got my lipstick just right? I have no outlet for my duck face poses.

All of this has lead me to some degree of introspective thought. Why do I feel the need to share all of my pictures? There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the act of selfie taking, but what is driving it? While, like most millennial, I do not live in the same state as my family so Facebook allows us to achieve some level of intimacy where in they can see my day to day life unfold. However I am not sure that this is the motivation of my own selfie frenzy. At the heart of it, if I am truly honest I think it may be a need for validation.

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Life before Facebook 

I am a part of a dying breed of people who remember what life was like before Facebook. I use the term remember loosely, because in all sincerity it feels like trying to peer back at life through a foggy lens.

What in the world did we do back then? What occupied us? How did we get news and most of all if I had funny comments to make who did I say it to? I know that life didn’t feel as if it were lacking something at the time, yet now I can’t even remember the answers to these questions. Like what fun was it to go on a trip without video cataloging the whole thing and waiting to see how many people “like” it. Why do we go to concerts and record on our phones when we are physically present?

I recently read a study that showed some young children are exhibiting the behaviors of kids who are neglected or behavior consistent with children of depressed mothers. What they cited as the cause was the over use of social media. Parents including myself, are choosing to stay glued to their phones instead of taking a walk with the kids, blowing bubbles or just simply looking at them.

As you may have read in my last post I breastfeed my 6 month old and I love it! But I have a constant battle with Instagram. I know I should stop and cherish every chubby checked and tiny finger moment of breastfeeding my love bug, but I end up scrolling, scrolling, scrolling on my phone. When I look past my phone, I see my daughter looking up at me, turns out her eyes have never left my own.

So I have said it before but I will say it again enough is enough. There are wonderful things about social media, including my availability to share my thoughts with all you lovely people.  But until you can detox you have to put some distance between you and the addiction. So here we go. It starts today! A 21 day fast from social media. (I will blog about my experience but not check my typical media outlets.)

I want to remember what it is like to just live. To see an awesome butterfly and appreciate its beauty rather than rushing to upload a pic of it. To eat a beautiful meal without bragging about it. To enjoy an event with my family for what it is. To maybe even pick up the phone and tell my friends funny things I think of instead of tweeting them.

I just want to be

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God and Breastfeeding: A Mother’s Day reflection

For some reason I am not the most maternal person in the world. Don’t get me wrong I think babies are cute and I love my own, but it just didn’t come as naturally as it came to others. In fact I shamefully thought that I would not really like being a mom.

In the same vein, I just assumed I really wouldn’t like breast feeding. I didn’t want to do it! There is nipple padsfeeding, nipple butter, nipple cooling gel! What’s with all this nipple stuff! I felt pressured to breast feed really. While expecting my first son, the most intimate details of my breast seemed to be public information, as men and woman alike asked me with a stern, eye “Are you going to breast feed?”

So it turns out I love being a mom! Its not this disastrous black whole in which your personality, beauty and your waist line go to die! Its kind of awesome; hard but awesome! In the meantime I learned I loved breastfeeding! Yes all of the nipple stuff is worth it! Side Note: After my last baby girl I sent my loving dad and wonderful father in law to CVS to pic up some post baby essentials for me. Two men in their 60’s one black and one white scavenging the store for nipple cream. From what I hear it took an hour of searching and an awkward conversation with the store clerk, but they returned home triumphant!

What I love most about breastfeeding the is quiet! Babies are anything but quiet and this is a special time where you have what they want, and they want what you have. It was really empowering for me as I stated earlier I am not the most maternal person in the world. I had no clue what to do with my first born when we brought him home. In fact I remember thinking, shouldn’t I have to sign something to handle this? Regardless of what I did wrong I always had my breast to offer him! Another funny side note: One night I dressed my son for bed in the cutest little nighty. When he woke up the next morning he was drenched! Turns out I forgot to put a diaper on him! epic fail!

I love the warmth of their little bodies and how they hold your finger while feeding, the look in their eyes and the occasional sideways smile they give you when they take a break. I love the content “milk wasted” look that comes over them after they have had their fill!

In the midst of all this cuteness there is a characteristic they display that sends me into reflection about our relationship with our nurturing God the Father. You see, my kids can count on me, I’ve never let them down when they were ready to feed. Babies are accustomed to routine so they know when the breast is coming. The are good at reading the signs. They know when they are crying I will intervene. It is a practice we have been doing several times a day all of their lives, they know to expect my provision and have never lacked it.

I find it interesting even still, our feeding preparations are second nature to them. Yet when its time to feed they squirm they cry they protest. If I am taking longer than usually they become impatient as if they don’t trust I’m going to follow through with the goods! Yet I come through every time.

Don’t we behave this way with God? He is the giver of every good and perfect gift, he sustains our lives. He is so faithful, beyond compare. Yet when he takes to long we squirm, we doubt, we cry and he still provides.