Archive for the ‘attitudes’ Category

Choices

I forget who said it but I read a quote the other day that it is easy for those of us with choices to judge those of us who don’t have them.

I’m reflecting on this a little today just because I am glad for a few choices I  have. I can drive my children to and from school. My oldest would otherwise have to take the bus to middle school. I’m afraid of the bus. Bad things happen on buses nowadays. I can choose to go to work during the day or continue to stay home and still have food on the table. I can post an update to Facebook, Twitter or a blog.

I prayed this morning for the moms who do not have choices, regardless of what we think. They have to go to a job and support their family. They cannot volunteer in their children’s school. They cannot choose their child’s school or educational process. They cannot follow through on homework especially if the power was just turned off. They may not be able to put that food on the table for everyone in the home. They must leave their babies in the care of people they may or may not trust and risk showing up in a sad news story that we all watch and scream “what was that mother thinking!”

If you are aware of someone who is choice-challenged, would you pray for an option to offer them? Would you resist thinking “what were they thinking?” or “Well, if they would only ____ then they could ____.”

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In the court of opinion

Years ago I had returned to leading worship after taking time off. So there I was about 11 months pregnant and rockin’ the house–and it’s not easy rockin’ the house with an additional human strapped to your belly. A person I used to serve with relayed the critique of a mutual friend about my stage presence with the disclaimer, “She knew you’d want to know.” All in the name of excellence for God I suppose. Fortunately I was in a great place mentally and couldn’t have cared less. Truthfully, I was sad for her that in that awesome time of celebration surrounded by hundreds of worshippers, she was focused on me. Sooooo many opinions. Pay attention to the trustworthy ones.

Read  this devotion from Proverbs 31 ministries about The Opinion Blender.

I Hate Holidays

I just realized that for the most part, I can’t stand holidays. I have grand visions of how I want them celebrated and 95% of the time, it doesn’t work out how I envisioned.

For instance. 4th of July. On the 4th, and not the 3rd and in no particular order, we’d see a parade, have a party at our house with awesome food and drink and the kids would play. Or maybe we’d go hang out at a local festival and listen to music, visit craft tables, eat corn dogs and have coke in a cup with ice, a lid and a straw–no cans. Then fireworks. We’d go to a park with 40,000 other people, put down our blankets and watch the professionals light off awesome fireworks–including ground displays of the American flag. The town employees would take up a collection through the crowd to help pay for the fireworks show. We’d battle traffic on the way home or gloat as we pull out of our friend’s driveway–the friend that lives 2 blocks from the park–and easily make it home. Then the kids would wash up, put on pjs and go to bed. They would fall asleep without screaming, crying and having to “duck and cover” under the sheets thanks to the neighborhood pyrotechnic amateurs. We’d all be happy. ER docs would be bored. No arrests would need to be made.

Don’t get me started about New Year’s Eve, Memorial and Labor Days, or Christmas. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go call the  police on the “over served” lighting off something a few houses down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Morning by morning new mercies I see

Bedtime prayers can be a fun time or a nervous time for our family–depending on our family’s behavior that day. I think the kids think its some sort of time of reckoning where we have to confess how horrible we’ve all been that day then feel awful and try to get to sleep. Well, part of that is right.

Tonight, obedience and kindness were optional in the minds of the children which resulted in stressful bedtime prep. On these kinds of nights, if I’m leading the prayers I really try not to make the prayer a sermon. “Dear God, forgive us for the awful way we treated each other. We know you want us to love each other and obey our parents…” And then I think how much I suck because I disobey God just like they disobey me. Drat. So its one massive confession for everyone. However on these bad days, I also like to throw in a bit about getting to start over tomorrow and thank God that every morning we start fresh. From the book of Lamentations, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lam 3:22-23. I can almost feel a little relief and attitude adjustment come over the kids(and me too). Their hearts seem lighter on the way to bed than when they came to prayer time, and we get a chance to slow down and restore some broken relationships.

A principle I want to sear into their hearts is that they are not to carry their shame. Sin done. Sin confessed. Sin forgiven. Move on. This is one of the things I get right as a mom. Lots of mess ups elsewhere but I never want them to wallow in their sin. Feel it? Yes. Mourn over it? Yes. But to wallow when Jesus suffered so much for our freedom is just insulting. It only took me about 39 years to get that figured out. I’d like them to use their time more wisely than I did.

“Let me explain…”

Inspired by Jon Acuff’s post #750 “Thinking the church is not wisely spending your tithe” , I thought I’d write a note about one of my peeves: When pastors, church staff, and “poor people” have to explain or justify a purchase or experience because someone might think its extravagant. I was going to ask Jon to write something on it if he hadn’t already then I thought, “Duh, you have your own blog, Joni.” So Jon, if you’re reading this, feel no pressure to express my thoughts.

So, you hear that your pastor, church staffer or a “poor” friend just had an awesome dinner in one of the hottest restaurants in the city and then saw a high priced show. How about a brand new car? House? Vacation? What’s your first thought? Try some of these on for size: “That’s a little extravagant isn’t it?” “I’m sure they could have found a better way to spend that money.” “How much are we paying our pastor again?” “He/She shouldn’t be driving a car like that. He’s obviously not stewarding his/her money well.” And they/you will say “stewarding” because its more spiritual than saying “spending”.

I had a former pastor who took his wife to the Caribbean every other year for vacation while the church struggled to pay its bills. No one knew that another couple gifted a week in their timeshare every other year so the pastor could vacation with his wife and actually relax and reconnect. Another friend  super burdened financially and medically yet they managed to move into a bigger home. Oh, did I mention her parent gifted them the house? Things aren’t always as they appear and there is usually that one bit of information that puts it into perspective.

Do we need to begrudge someone a new car? I’m kind of tired of Christian bumper stickers showing up on beater cars. Would love to see “My boss is a Jewish Carpenter” slapped onto the backside of a BMW or Mercedes. Well, then they’d get in trouble for buying a foreign car. But I digress.

Then there’s this thought. What if there were no logical or spiritual explanation to justify or defend a so-called extravagant expenditure? Gulp. What if they DID spend more then we thought reasonable? What if? How about SO WHAT? Is it really our business? Go deeper. Why don’t we want others to have or experience extravagance? What’s the problem with enjoying another’s good fortune? Is Romans 12:15 all that important?

Stepping Up

I have never sensed a spirit of fear, confusion, and despair in the community more than I have in these last few weeks. I am surrounded by horrible things happening to fabulous people. It would seem there are few if any places to turn. We have GOT to make it a priority to ramp up our commitments to each other and to listening for God’s voice. The systems we think should be in place or stable just aren’t. No amount of anger or whining will help our neighbors fill their frig or gas tank or soul when there is no income and abundant worry. Followers of Christ, lead the way in compassion, hope, and charity.

Suffering? Really?

Warning: high horse, soap box, possible self righteousness w/a hint of judgement ahead

Disclaimer: if you and I have talked recently about trials and tribulations, do not assume this is about you; and yes you’re right, I have no idea what you’ve been through–but keep an open mind anyway

I touch on this now and then because I don’t have a handle on it. Doug and I have had financial and vocational disappointments lo’ these past 3 years and therefore lament from time to time on the state of our respective states. Then we watch the news or engage in a friend or family members’ crisis. And we think, “Wow. How did we get so lucky to have those kinds of storms swirl around us without being touched?”

Just heard a phenomenal teaching from the book of James.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 NIV

Perspective. I used to be better at this–not enjoying my troubles so much as realizing anything difficult I was experiencing was no where near what others were going through. For example, extreme poverty; lack of resources–not money resources but silly things like food, water, and shelter; terminal illness; tragic loss. There is always something to be thankful for in the midst of the poo. For a variety of reasons, I started to believe my own press about my “hardship”. Yes it wasn’t as bad as it could be but still it was a strain. Oh you poor thing, how do you get through the day? And so I followed the downward spiral–woe is me, why is this happening, where is God? And it took this teaching on James, the testimony of my husband’s late Aunt Karen who lived this principle, oh and cataclysmic tragedy in Haiti to snap me the hell out of it.

James 1:1-12 gives me permission to appreciate my circumstance or at least look beyond the here and now. I am allowed to find the silver lining. I am allowed to focus on the positive without someone assuming I am in denial–or rather, worrying someone thinks I am in denial. I am allowed to sympathize with another’s problems yet lovingly encourage them to shift focus.

NOTHING I am going through now compares to the complete devastation of my home, the loss of part or all of my family, no governmental ability to assist, no community ability to assist and isolation from the majority of the world’s nations. http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2010/haiti.quake/

So when I am devastated having to use a tax refund to pay for car repairs instead of pay other bills or get a little ahead, I will be glad to at least have the a) cash, b) car. When I am saddened that I can’t take my children to Disney or even local outings, I will be glad they are healthy and safe. When I am frustrated by what does or doesn’t get paid by insurance or the most recent doctor bill, I will be glad I have the a)ability to receive health care, b) an employer with an insurance plan, c) an employer. When stressed that I have to take children to this and that activity or have busy things to do, I will be glad my kids live in an intact community doing something other than digging through rubble piles looking for their parents and friends. And can we admit that living in U.S. suburbia, we are filthy rich? I know I’ll get blasted for this but even our homeless don’t have to walk miles for well water and wonder if its clean. It may not be socially easy but there are faucets to be found.

If you listened to Scott Hodge’s teaching linked above you will understand this next concept. Aunt Karen went through family upheaval, personal illness, terminal diagnosis, and deterioration of her body before she died December 30th. One month before her death, she told Doug and I that she would be praying for US and the medical issues we were experiencing. She truly was a woman who could say, “well, praise God anyways.”