Posts from the ‘Sabbatical Musings’ Category

Easy Like Sunday Morning?

I have often believed that Lionel Richie clearly never got three children ready for church  on Sunday morning. Then I read the lyrics today. I love when I get a spiritual application from a secular source. First though, a little background.

The devil showed  up to our house this morning in this form.

Now, it is easy to understand why a 4 (Heaven help me almost 5!) year old boy would insist on wearing these to church with his green jeans and his light blue Hawaiian shirt with green alligators on it. It’s totally pre-school Hipster.  I get that.

However, they are two sizes too big. I didn’t want him tripping and falling all morning.  I had his better interest (and the sanity of his teachers) in mind when I said no. It was not a fashion issue. I’m that mom that really tries to let them have their own personality in their clothing choices for the most part.  Had they fit, he would have worn them.

He came to me ready for a fight. He KNEW  I was going to say no. I was also running at least 15 minutes behind schedule and trying to scramble eggs and cheese for breakfast, still had wet hair, and was dealing with a screaming toddler that insisted on having his sippy cup NOW!!!!!

The following is a dramatic re-enactment.

He had made up his mind, and nothing was going to change it. Not his black canvas high tops, not his cowboy boots, not his Toy Story light up sandals. It had to be the Curious George flip flops.

I’m going to be completely honest here.

He gets it from me. By “it” I don’t just mean choice taste in footwear, but also his stubborn streak.

Annnnnnnnd I happen to know that my mom probably needs therapy from dealing with the preschooler that was Sasha. She really likes to tell the stories. Just ask her about the “pew kicking incident” sometime.

So, I did what any overwhelmed mother juggling  a hot frying pan and a slimy sippy cup would have done. I sent him to his father, and sure enough he came back upstairs, somewhat calmer, but still quietly seething and put his flip flops away. Later as I was down stairs doing my final primp, he came to talk to talk to his daddy one more time about the assignment which had been given. He had chosen another pair of shoes that were this time too small and the melt down was on the verge of starting all over again.

Daddy calmly talked to him, agreeing to go help him find an appropriate pair of shoes. He also took the time to ask him if his attitude was right, and if he was acting appropriately to get what he wanted.

An apology was necessary, but no good if he didn’t mean it.

I want my kids to mean it when they are sorry. I’ve realized that I have fallen into the trap that our culture has set, where when they screw up we demand that they apologize right away. I’m all for teaching them that they need to apologize, but I’ve realized that I’m not really accomplishing anything at all unless there is a heart change when they say it. A coerced apology is useless.

He DID recognize that he was wrong. And I’ll not forget his face as he ran to me with a sincere tearful apology that was not prompted as an expectation.

How often do we as adults though, just go through the motions of apology? Or worse, how often do we demand that we be apologized to?

Does a coerced apology really mean anything to us anyway? Does an apology with out contrition do any good at all, or is it that we just need recognition that we are right? Does that verbal white flag really change anyone’s heart?

In the words of Mr. Richie,
“I’m not happy when I try to fake it
That’s why I’m easy,
Easy like Sunday morning.”

While I still don’t always feel that Sunday morning is easy, I get what he’s saying here. But maybe from a different perspective.

Apologies can heal, no doubt. But only sincere ones. When we stand in our pride and demand that we be justified, we lose the opportunity to forgive regardless. Forgiveness, just like an apology, is also no good without out a heart change. When we demand something (an apology) before we forgive, we just made the forgiveness useless.

I think it would do so many of us so much more good if we could just make our hearts a little more easy.
Easy like Sunday morning.

Advertisements

Loss

I have friends that know God gives them a theme for a year…and they have inspired me to watch for the theme He has for me.

I didn’t catch last year’s theme until it was almost over.

Joy.

I truly, finally, and absolutely learned the difference between joy and happiness last year. It was a very ugly year on paper.

Lots of loss.

Loss of family, mentors, and deeply close friends.

Loss of a new life I never got to meet.

Friends whose own losses made my heart ache deeply,… as deeply as my own losses did.

Loss both financially and materially.

If there is one thing I’ve learned last year, it’s that to have Joy, you have to have perspective.

As I’ve said before, I don’t do New Year Resolutions, but I do value old year revelations. Here is some of the Joy that came from putting a perspective spin on some of that loss.

I lost fear. I lost so much fear. It isn’t completely gone, but it doesn’t weigh me down as it did before. I’m no longer afraid of loss. I have begun to look at trials from a James 1:2-4 perspective.  I’ve stopped trying to get out of things too quickly. There IS Joy in that. With the loss of fear I gained perspective.

I lost some pride. It isn’t completely gone either, but as painful as it was, it made room for more joy. Losing some of your stuff, will open your eyes to what is really important in your life. …and important for me has been shown to be much more different than what I was culturally trained to believe it was. With the loss of pride I gained truth.

I lost indifference. I’ve been shown that I’m needed to make a difference in the lives of others. That sometimes I have to walk through some ugly, so that I can help someone else down the road, …or to even be able to see that there is someone that needs help. I can make a difference, and it is a lie to think otherwise. I think many times we get so caught up in dwelling in our ugly, that we miss that there are folks going through even uglier. With the loss of indifference, I gained empathy.

So, Joy has taught me that loss is not bad. It gives me purpose.

I see this year’s theme. It’s a color. Stay tuned…I have a few things to accomplish before I can tell you, but I can tell you, it’s regal.

The gift of Perspective

I have decided to do something culturally unacceptable. Some of you may be embarrassed for me when you see it, because I don’t have the good sense to be embarrassed myself apparently.

But bear with me for a minute first.

Have you ever been down on yourself?

Down in your self esteem? your view of how you look, act, react, and do anything that it is you do?

Down because of the hand you feel you were dealt?

Down because you didn’t get what you wanted?

Down because you did and now you don’t want it anymore?

Down because everyone thinks you have it together, and now….

you can’t let THEM down by letting them know you don’t…

have it all…

together?  (hmmmm, there is one of my big ones)

Down because you wake up on fire, you have your list, you are moving into a groove, when suddenly there is a diaper fail that causes a bath, laundry, mopping, and a trip to the store to buy something that will get that stink out of the pack and play.

Down because your body doesn’t look like the one on the cover of (insert the name of your favorite) magazine?

Well, have you? I have.

From time to time.

Lately though I have seen this changing in me. I’ve seen my perspective shift on a more regular basis. Maybe this is because of more regular quiet time this year, maybe it’s because I know I’ve never had so many people pray for me over this year as I have in years past. (thank you to the prayer warriors) Maybe it’s because I’m memorizing more scripture. Maybe it’s God using all of that together.

This past Sunday I was frowning at my belly. I could stand to do a few sit ups, I ain’t going to lie, but there is only so much that exercise is going to do for a belly that has housed 3 babies over 9 pounds each. But in a quiet moment, while I was blow drying my hair (trust me, it was quieter than the previously mentioned 3 babies) it occurred to me that …

…this belly…

…this vessel…

was the PERFECT result of some of the best things that God has ever allowed to happen to me.

How dare I loath it?

Perspective. Accept the gift.

Haven

Haven:  definition- 1. A place of safety/refuge. 2. a place offering favorable opportunities or conditions

Years ago, B.C. (Before Children), I was a member of the Chattahoochee Unit of the Herb Society of America.  This is an organization that promotes knowledge on the “use and delights” of herbs. I learned tons in the 5 or so years I was a member. Everything from how to successfully grow them to how to use them in cooking. Ever since I have had varying degrees of herb “gardens” each year. This year it is just a simple basil plant or two growing in my tomato buckets on the back porch.

One of the coolest things I learned though was about the “Language of Flowers” from member Geri Laufer. She wrote a wonderful book on the meanings of flowers and how to use them to express yourself. You can check out the book, Tussie~ Mussies, here. The copy I have has been faithfully used over the years, and has inspired me to collect other books on the language of flowers as well.  I’ve given Tussie Mussies as gifts for all kinds of different reasons thanks to Geri.

I’ve also had opportunity to use the language of flowers to tell my faith story several times over the years, to different mommy groups I’ve been involved in.  I find that my presentation changes from telling to telling each time depending on where God is working in my life at the time. The outer flowers in the Tussie~Mussie have become more interesting.

At the beginning of May, I had such an opportunity with the Mom’s Inc. group at my church. Little did I know that one of the “new” flowers I shared would mean even more to me in just a few weeks.

This flower…

… is called Queen Anne’s Lace. There is some cool folklore behind the name, but it’s the language of flowers meaning that I love.

Queen Anne’s Lace, in the language of flowers,  represents the word “Haven”.
When I last shared my story with my new mom friends at Moms Inc. in the early part of this past May, I was thinking of a physical haven. The first definition given above.

1. A place of safety/refuge.

I was thinking of the home my sweet mother in law has been so gracious to share with us this year as we start from scratch with a new business. She has made it a safe, easy, loving place to live and we are so blessed by her for it. I was also thinking how God provides when He asks you to do something.

In just a matter of 3 weeks, I was brought to the beginning of a place where I would come to a  better understanding of  the second definition.

2. a place offering favorable opportunities or conditions.

The preparation for the understanding has been in the making for awhile now. Several years in fact. As I have written before, fear has been a theme that God has really been been giving me some insight on over the last 4 years especially.  I’ve been challenged over and over to ask myself, “if it (it being what ever I was afraid of) happened, what would I do next?”.  I’ve been resolving to live through the “its” that will come in my life. I’ve been resolving to give them to my God, my “Haven” if He ever allowed it in my life, trusting the promise in Romans 8:28.

There were “it’s” I didn’t think to ask myself about though, even  though they had crossed my mind in the past.

What if “it” meant that one of my closest friends didn’t make it through another severe asthma attack?

What if “it” meant that an hour after her funeral I lost the surprise pregnancy, the baby I had become so excited about, to a 14 week miscarriage.

Me, choosing to go to my Haven that week was a challenge, but He was there, just like He promised here.

A week and a half later, when I finally felt like getting out again, I drove down a road I go down all the time and was awestruck by how the Queen Anne’s Lace had just completely taken over most of the drive to the community where our church and Robert’s office is.  Yes, the road I take to worship. The road I take to meet with my local body of Christ. It had been there before, but not in nearly as prolific a quantity.

The photo really doesn’t do it justice. There is so much more for several miles. It was there to comfort me  and to prepare my heart on the way to the physical haven of my church.

It wasn’t long, before my Haven began to show me the little gifts that came out of the sorrow. Gifts I could not have seen had I not had the Haven to rest in first. That when I could see outside myself and begin to understand a little tiny portion of the bigger picture,  I could tell that my Haven had provided me with favorable opportunities. Opportunities that I know will help others down the road, just as the countless number of women who contacted me that first week to offer sympathy and their own experiences,. Some who faced much bigger losses than I had,  helped  me face the next day, and the next. Women who reminded me that life does go on and it is good if you let it be good.

Take a look at what Queen Anne’s Lace looks like as it goes to seed.

It makes a little nest, a haven for the seeds. A place that is favorable for opportunities or conditions.

A Haven that promises rebirth, and miles and miles of life.

Mother’s Milk

I am writing this at 4 o’ clock in the morning on Friday. Lent began 2 days ago.

This is the first Lent I have ever participated in. Growing up in an Independent Baptist Church, it was not an event I was instructed in.  It is not something the Baptist church in general “does”.

Through some friends that I tend to discuss spiritual things with however, the topic of fasting has come up over the last several months in a few different ways. It made me realize that it was something I really knew very little about in general.  So, I began to read about it a little at a time. This interest, combined with the recent realization that I have a serious addiction to sugar, (hello, my name is Sasha and I am addicted to gingerbread rolled in white sugar)  brought me to a light research of the practice of Lent.

When I realized that the purpose behind Lent is not just to deny yourself for the sake of denying, but to draw closer to God I knew this was going to be the best way for me to get my problem under control. I’m forsaking sugar, a little white grain that I find so much comfort in, that is destroying my teeth most noticeably, not to mention other parts of my body I’m starting to recognize problems in, and looking to God to take it’s place.

I had my blogs and devotions about Lent lined up. I had encouraging Bible verses written out. I had a support group in place.

Yet, less than 48 hours into the fast, I found myself standing in Publix, shaking, picking up gourmet chocolate bar after gourmet chocolate bar, PRAYING that God would help me find one with no commercial sugar in it.

Yeah, not exactly the kind of relying on God I had intended.

I’m glad though. It was a big moment for me as I walked out of the store with no chocolate, knowing what I had just done.

Everything is much clearer in the morning though.  In my life, there have been times, when I know it has been God that has put things in my mind. Then He lets those thoughts ebb and flow until He knows I’ve come to just the right place where He can SHOW me something that rocks my socks. This has on more than one occasion sat me bolt upright in bed in the early hours of the morning with Him driving the point home perfectly. This morning was one of those mornings.

I am the nursing mother of a very happy, roly poly, 6 month old boy.  He LOVES to nurse. Until  recently he was exclusively breastfed, but lately we have been feeding him some homemade baby food.  He still nurses at least twice through the night. He stays in bed with us, because we all get sleep this way. It’s just what works for our family.

Typically I sense him stirring…he’s a thumb sucker…and when he’s hungry, the smacking is pretty loud on that thumb and he starts humming. He never actually wakes.  It’s kind of cute.  So I usually offer up a snack to which he greedily accepts, he hums a little louder and more happily for about 30 seconds and then I drift off to sleep while he eats.

Not today though. As he nursed and I heard somewhere in the back of my mind, “El Shaddai”, an ancient name of God. Having heard Him in the morning before, I had my “Yes Lord?” moment and finished feeding my baby. Then I hopped up and Googled “El Shaddai”.  The “El” refers to God himself, and “Shaddai” refers to “the One who nourishes, supplies, and satisfies.” The example that is often used in reference to the definition of this name is “Mother’s Milk”. In other words, like Mother’s Milk, He sustains completely. He is all I need. He nourishes, heals, fills, satisfies, and comforts, just like a nursing mother does for her child.  He’s happy to do it, just as I am happy to meet the needs of my baby when I hear him call. A design that is also completely His.

What a gentle way for my God to remind me that He does want me to look to Him to satisfy me. Knowing too, that today is day three of the fast, and probably the hardest. I love that I’ll have this picture all through the day as I nurse my own. A regular reminder to rely on Him in my weak moments.

Thank  you, El Shaddai.