Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why Pay It Forward?

Not too long ago LauraLee posted a story about Paying it forward, and this last week Tracy blogged about kindness. We've heard it, experienced it, and even practiced it, but what's the greatest motivation for participating and continuing this practice?

Because this is exactly what Jesus did for us.
~He was/IS God's Son. (Matthew 16:16)
~He lived a perfect, sinless life. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
~Death had no authority over Him so He GAVE His life.
~He paid the penalty for our/MY sins. (Romans 6:23)

Jesus did the ultimate 'Paying it forward' when He provided forgiveness for our sins. Now it's our turn to continue the chain.
~We can forgive people when they hurt us, whether it was knowingly or unintentionally done. (Ephesians 4:32)
~We can treat others with the kindness Jesus treats us with.
~We can love others unconditionally, just as Jesus loves us. (Romans 5:8)
~We can share with others what Jesus did for us on the cross. (John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

By passing on what Jesus has done for us:
~We share His gift with others
~Our joy is made fuller
~We are free to enjoy all that He's done for us and given us
~We obey what God tells us to do (John 15:12)

That childish phrase 'Why should I?' is answered with 'Because Jesus did.' What more do I need to know? Jesus paid it forward. For me. For all eternity. Because He loves me.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fiction Friday: Plagued By a Piece of Cake

***Thursday***
I'm so excited I can't sleep. Tomorrow we leave on our missions trip and I can't wait. Cindy, my team leader, keeps asking me if I'm sure I want to do this. I keep telling her I love people and new experiences. This is going to be a fabulous two weeks, I just know it.


***Friday***
This place is beautiful! Palm trees line the streets and snow capped mountains are in the distance—just gorgeous! We're spending the night in a dorm that missionary kids live in during the school year and it's not much different than my college dorm. There's even a t.v. in the living room area, and we had meatloaf for supper. I don't see what the big deal was about and why we had to sit through all that orientation. Tomorrow we travel to Chillanes where we'll work on their church. This is going to be a piece of cake.


***Saturday***
I thought we were going to die on the bus ride here! The driver was a madman! He flew around hairpin curves and wove in and out of traffic. He used his horn more than his brakes and he couldn't even stop someplace decent for us to use the restrooms. I have never seen, or smelled, such a disgusting place! The toilets were overflowing, there were no toilet seats, and you had to bring your own tissues in with you. When I started gagging Cindy led me around a hill so I could squat. If I hadn't been so desperate I would've waited for someplace with clean toilets.

It turns out Chillanes is a dirty little town. We're staying in rooms at the school where there's no glass in the windows and no running water: only a smelly outhouse.


***Sunday***
When I mentioned the accommodations to Cindy today, she said, “I kept telling you this is how it would be and you kept telling me you could handle it.” She makes me so mad! There's been dirty kids hanging on her, and she acts like she loves the food. At lunch we got potato soup and bread, and supper was a huge plate of rice and beans with some cooked bananas thrown across the top. Of course, Cindy smiled and cleaned her plate. Everyone loves her—I just don't get it. Tomorrow we start work.


***Friday***
I am so tired I don't know how much I'll be able to write.
The work is harder than I thought it would be and people are always nagging me about being too stand-offish. I work hard, but I can't stand the food, and I'm starving. The dirtiness of the everything is just gross, too. I'm glad the kids don't pester me anymore--their sticky, grimy hands give me chills just thinking about them! The adults are better, but they don't try to talk to me anymore, either. I smile at them and say, 'hola', but they just smile and go talk to someone else. I don't get it.


***Sunday***
We went to another church today, even higher in the mountains and dirtier than this place. I forgot my candy bars and didn't get to eat anything all day. One of the old ladies there gave me some of those baby bananas. I smiled and said thank you, but I couldn't eat them after seeing her dirty fingernails. I threw them out as soon as I could. Later on she wouldn't even look at me but went and sat near Cindy. Of course Cindy put her arm around the lady and gave her a hug. How can she do that?


***Wednesday***
I shared a candy bar with one of the cleaner girls today. She laughed and ran off to share it with her friends. I was so weak I stayed in bed almost all day. Two more days here and then we go back to the city to fly home. The other girls are talking about how much they'll miss the people here, but I don't know why. I tried making friends with them, but even tonight they didn't want anything to do with me. And they say I'm standoffish!


***Friday***
Finally! We're back in civilization! I almost ate myself sick at supper. They served hamburgers and nothing ever tasted so good!

The people here are so much cleaner and friendlier. Why couldn't that village be like this? They don't treat me like I have the plague here-- I don't understand why the village people did.


*****************

This was great fun to write because I wove bits of real events in with the fiction. Chillanes is a town in Ecuador, although my description here is NOT accurate of the town, but I wanted to use that town name because two of my favorite missionares live in there--they had a profound influence on my life, whether they know it or not, and I love them greatly. This sort of thing happens quite often on missions trips--unfortunately--but it doesn't have to!!

Remember to pray for the missionaries you know, as well as those going on missions trips this summer!!

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, enjoy the stories!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Filtering Floaties

Have you ever noticed that if anything is going to breakdown it will happen when the husband is away? That just happened in our home. My husband was out of town for five nights and our pump kicked off and refused to restart—but God is so good! It didn't happen until the fifth night and our well and pump house is such that we can easily bucket water to the house.

Because we have such a good spring, our water is very clean, but I still ran it through a coffee filter before putting it into our water pitchers. I was amazed by all the little floaties and grains of sand that the filter caught—things I hadn't noticed when I quickly glanced in the jug. I was very thankful for the filter and the good job it did.

The Holy Spirit acts like a filter in our lives. He strains out the floaties and grains of sand—the impurities, leaving us cleaner, more pure and more fit for service. But how many times do I resist the filtering process? It took a lot of extra time to filter enough water for our large family—there's nothing fast about a coffee filter in a wire mesh strainer! But the thought of drinking those floaties, and who know what else, is even more unpleasant.

In order to be as pure as possible for my Lord, I need to allow my life to be run through the filter, even though it takes time and isn't always pleasant or easy. Just like I don't want to serve a glass of water filled with floaties to anyone, I don't want to stand before my Lord with a life full of impurities.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
~Psalm 139:23-24

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm Touched!

Today, as I went to church, my heart's cry was for God to speak to me, to refresh me, to touch me--and He heard my cry. When I left tonight I knew I had been able to touch the hem of His garment and that He had restored my weary soul. God is so good to me.

Pastor Mike preached on Mark 5:21-34 and the woman with the 12 year hemorrhage. Since I've dealt with a little anemia at times in my life, I shudder just imagining what her life must have been like, and she didn't have the modern conveniences that we do. The doctors hadn't been able to help her, her condition was growing worse, and she had spent all she had--she was out of resources. It sounded like a good description for how I felt this weekend: depleted and spent.

So when the woman heard about Jesus, she not only followed Him, but she made her way through the multitude that was crowding around Jesus. Moving through a thick crowd is difficult, at best, and Mark says “For she thought, 'If I just touch His garments, I shall get well.'” The verb tense there was that she was thinking that continually, repeating it over and over to herself as she slowly worked her way to where she was close enough to touch Jesus' cloak. She was determined to reach Jesus, knowing that He was her only hope. She was totally focused on reaching and touching Jesus--and she did.

Jesus knew the instant she touched His cloak and He asked who touched Him—NOT because He didn't know (He did!) but because He wanted her to publicly confess and so tell all those around her what He had done for her.

Jesus wanted her to testify to what He had done in her life.

The woman, knowing she was healed, fell before Jesus and told Him what had happened. All those around Jesus heard her testimony, and I can just imagine the news of her healing sweeping through the crowd, being passed from person to person until even those at the very fringes of the crowd had heard, like we still hear today. Jesus was glorified through her life and her witness.

Pastor Mike, knowing many of us were still tired from VBS, reminded us that when we do the Lord's work power flows out of us, leaving us drained and in need of refilling--in need of touching our Lord. He also reminded us that we can reach out and touch Jesus if we're determined enough to, if we don't let the crowd hinder us and keep us from Him. My heart soared because I knew this was God answering my prayer and speaking His words to me. I felt the worn out parts of me being mended and restored and I was able to sing with the rest of the church body “He touched me, Oh, He touched me and oh the joy that floods my soul. Something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole!”

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. ~Hebrews 4:16

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fiction Friday: Dunkin' Cookies

The past two weeks have been busy with Vacation Bible School, and all that goes into it, as well as several other things that happened to arise. Not only am I behind in things I need to be doing, but I'm exhausted. But in all that, it's a wonderful tiredness--the kind that comes from throwing myself whole-heartedly into something, and VBS is so important.

I was saved as a direct result of VBS when I was just under five-years old and I'm so glad I get to help now. How I pray that God will claim the 18 kids we've had in our class of 1st and 2nd graders as His own!

So, for this week's Fiction Friday I'm posting a story that's about inviting a neighbor child to VBS. I hope you enjoy it and that you get to enjoy VBS this summer, too.


Dunkin' Cookies
Willa looked out her kitchen window and saw the new neighbor boy still slouched in a lawn chair. That's it, Lord. He's been there for half an hour. I'm going over. She pulled down a plate and piled fresh cookies on it. After setting it on a tray with a carton of milk and two glasses, she went outside.

“Jason, come give me a hand, Honey. Grab this little table and stick it between the chairs so we can enjoy these cookies.”

Jason's bare feet scuffed the grass, but he moved the table then stood back.

Willa held the plate out to him. “I love baking, but with just me and Howard it's just not as fun. Think you could help me out?”

He smiled at her and reached for a cookie, waiting politely while she poured them some milk. She dunked her cookie in her milk and took a big bite. “Mmmmmm. I don't know about you, but I love cookies an' milk.”

A big grin lit Jason's face as he followed her example.

“Not too shabby, huh?” Willa said with her mouth full.

This time Jason giggled.

Willa made her eyes wide. “What? Do I have crumbs on my chin?”

He giggled again. “I thought my Nana was the only old lady who dunked her cookies in milk and talked with her mouth full.” Jason reached for another cookie, but his hand stopped midair.

Willa smiled and nodded to the plate. “Help yourself, because if you don't, I'll eat more than you do.” She took another big bite of cookie. “So, your nana likes cookies an' milk, too?”

Jason sighed. “Yeah. But she can't come this summer.”

“That's too bad. I bet she really misses you.” Willa looked around their adjoining yards and sighed. “I miss my grandkids since they moved.” She looked at him. “We're quite a pair aren't we? I'm a granma, missing my grandkids, and you're a grandkid missing your nana. We ought'a just adopt each other.”

Jason grinned. “Yeah, we ought'a.” He took a drink of milk and eyed the cookie plate. “Does that mean I could have another cookie? These are the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had.”

Willa laughed. “Why thank you! You can have as many as you like.” Lord, please don't let me come on too strong and scare him away. “Have you ever been to Vacation Bible School, Jason?”

Jason's eyes sparkled. “Yeah! Nana use'ta bring me every summer. It was great.” The sparkles quickly faded. “Mom's too busy, though.”

“Would you like to come with me next week?” Willa asked. “I asked your mom this morning and she said it's ok.” Please Lord, let him come with me.

“Really? You're going?”

“Yup. I go every year and I'd love for you to go with me.” Willa passed the cookie plate. “You want the last one?”

Jason took the cookie, his eyes never leaving Willa's. “Next week?”

“Yup. All week.” Willa smiled.

“Will they teach me about Jesus?” Jason asked, hope filling his eyes.

Willa's heart squeezed. “Yes, they will. Do you know Jesus?”

“I wanted ta ask Him inta my heart last year, but I didn't get to 'cuz the the teacher didn't ask if anyone wanted to.” Jason buried his toes in the grass.

“Honey, asking Jesus into your heart is something you can do anywhere.” Lord, please save him.

“Really? Do you know Jesus, Willa?”

“Yes, Sweetie, I do, and I know He loves you. Did you know He died on the cross for your sins?”

“That's what the teacher said. An' she said that we'd go to hell because we're sinners. Willa, I don' wanna go ta hell. I wanna be with Jesus.” Jason's fingers clenched, squishing his forgotten cookie.

“Jesus will forgive your sins if you ask Him to, Jason. He'll live in your life and make you His special child. You just need to ask Him.” Please, Lord...

“How do I ask Him?”

“By praying.”

“Can I pray now?”

“Yes, you can,” Willa said, her eyes filling with tears.

Jason squeezed his eyes shut. “Jesus would You forgive my sins and live in my life, please? I wanna go ta heaven an' be with You. Amen.”

Jason looked at Willa, his eyes sparkling. “I'm His special child now, aren't I?”

Willa hugged him. “Yup. You're oh-so special, Honey! To Jesus and to me.”

********************************

I'm so glad you could join us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, enjoy the stories!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Whole-hearted Strikes

In my daily Bible reading I've been reading about Elisha. Just before he died he was talking to Joash, the reigning king of Israel who was mourning Elisha's impending death. Elisha instructed him to shoot an arrow out the window toward the East and the king shot, but when Elisha told him to strike the ground with the arrows the king only half-heartedly obeyed. Elisha became instantly angry and said, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.” (2 Kings 13:19 NAS)

If Joash had whole-heartedly obeyed the prophet, God would have greatly used him to conquer and destroy a nation that had plagued Israel. Instead, he only half-heartedly obeyed and he missed out not only on the blessing, but on being mightily used by God.

What things am I doing half-heartedly that God could greatly use if I gave my all to the task? Are there things in my life that I could've completely destroyed so my children wouldn't have to struggle with the same thing in years to come?

It's time for me to take up the arrows and strike the ground five or six times, whole-heartedly so that God can show Himself mighty through me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jake's Ladder (For Fiction Fridays)

“Sh. Your father's sleeping, so you're going to have to be quiet until he wakes up,” Misti said as she put some cookies on the table for her youngest son who had recently entered first grade.

Jake stuffed half of an oatmeal cookie in his mouth. “I hate it when Daddy has to work nights.”

“We all do, Jake, even Daddy. But it's life so we just have to deal with it make the most of it. Thankfully he doesn't have to work nights all the time.” Misti poured his milk and joined him at the table. “What'd you do in school today?”

“Kyle's dad came and told us what to do if our house burns down and how to stop, drop and roll if our clothes catch on fire. It was fun.” Kyle swung his foot back and forth, scuffing the chair rung on each pass.

“I take it Kyle's dad is a fireman?”

“Yeah, he's so cool! He's huge, Mom, you should see his muscles. He said he's saved lots of people, and that people have even cheered when he's come down a ladder.” Jake took a big drink of milk, leaving a milk mustache. “I wanna be a fireman when I grow up.”

Misti handed Jake a napkin. “Being a fireman wouldn't be bad, except when there's a fire or a big accident.”

“Kyle's dad said it's a dang'rous job,” Jake said as he swiped at his mustache.

“Yes, it is and I bet that Kyle's mom is often concerned he'll get hurt sometime.”

Jake stopped chewing and looked at Misti. “You mean like Lindsay's dad?”

“Yes. Has she said how he's doing?”

“She said he couldn't fix roads anymore because he can hardly walk, so he's gonna try fixin' computers instead.” Jake leaned back in his chair, a frown creasing his face. Even his foot was still. “Mommy?”

A smile tugged Misti's mouth. “What is it, Jakey?”

“Why do dads have to have dang'rous jobs? Why don't they just work in stores or somethin' like Carey's dad?”

“Well, not all jobs pay the same, and the jobs in stores around here just don't pay enough to take care of our family.”

Jake took another bite of his cookie. “So Daddy has a dang'rous job to take care of us?”

“Yes, but remember, he's real careful.”

“Yeah, he showed me all his safety 'quipment when he brought it home last weekend to clean. It was cool.” Jake's foot scuffed against the chair rung once again as he finished his milk. “Does Daddy like being a coal miner?”

Misti chuckled. “Well, not especially.”

“So why doesn't he do somethin' else, like Lindsay's dad is gonna do?”

“Daddy has a good job, and even though he doesn't really like it, he doesn't hate it either. Besides, there's not many other jobs around here.”

Confusion clouded Jake's face and he tugged on his ear.

“Daddy keeps going to work to take care of us,” she explained as she ruffled his hair.

A smile blossomed on Jake's face and he jumped up and went to the cabinet where his paper and crayons were. “He takes care of us because he loves us.”

“That's right, Jakey, he loves us a whole bunch.”

The kitchen door opened and a taller version of Jake came in, backpack in hand. “Hey, Mom. Dad sleeping?”

“Yes, Jared, he is. He said he'd be up in time to make it to the game tonight. There's cookies on the table and your uniform is on the dryer.”

“Cool. Thanks, Mom.” He snagged a cookie and popped it into his mouth, whole. “What'cha makin', Jakey?” he asked as he poured a glass of milk.

“I'm makin' a picture for Daddy.” Jake stopped his coloring and looked up at his older brother, his eyes blinking owlishly. “Did you know Daddy loves us so much he's a coal miner? That's what he does to take care of us. I'm drawin' him a picture for a su'prise in his lunch box tonight.” Jake held up his picture and showed his brother. “That's Daddy on a ladder.”

“Why's he on a ladder?” Jared asked around the cookie in his mouth.

Jake rolled his eyes. “'Cause heroes climb ladders and Daddy's a hero.”


**********************************************
Happy Father's Day! Fathers are heroes in my book!

I'm so glad you could join us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, enjoy the stories!
And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

More Than Potpourri

My teenage son just walked in the door and asked what smelled so good. Knowing this child of mine, I told him his sister had made a birthday cake, thinking that would make him lick his chops, but his response surprised me. “Oh. I thought I smelled something fruity, maybe peachy.” He was less then happy when I told him that was just the liquid potpourri and there were no peaches in the house, let alone in the oven.

I rather smugly thought to myself, “Yes! Mission accomplished. It no longer smells like a closed up house with a hint of his smelly socks.” When I glanced at his face I saw a different message, it said, “All smell and no substance stinks!”

Sometimes I get so caught up in the smell good part that I don't even think about substance. But that's the most important part of the equation. I want to be more than just a pleasing aroma—more than just potpourri. I want to make sure I have a pie sitting on the counter ready to serve to my family and friends—anyone that comes to my door and into my life.

Life is about more than just knowing the right words to say, doing the right things at the right time, wearing the right clothing for the occasion. It's about walking the talk. Living out what I say I believe. It's about having more than a smoke screen to hold on to when the going gets rough, and more than just meaningless platitudes when my friends need a lifeline.

How can I do that?
By spending time in, and meditating on God's Word.
By being in constant communion with Christ—time in prayer, talking with Him, but also listening for His voice.
By abiding in Jesus.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
John 15:4-5


Lord, help me to bear fruit for You and not be just a fruity potpourri that smells good but has no substance to it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reading the Words

My youngest child has decided it's time to read.
Yesterday he pulled out the reader all of our kids have started with and started working. Throughout the day he'd appear by my side, book in hand, for another go-round with it. His determination and persistence have gotten him much farther than I could've gotten him with much cajoling. To say I'm pleased is an understatement! Our family has always been big into reading and it's not unusual to see all our kids sprawled around the living room with their noses in books, so this event has been a cause for cheering for our entire family.

In an effort to read, my son would sound out the first word and then supply the word he thought should go next, regardless of what the actual word was. If I allowed him to continue, he would've gladly gone on his merry way, making up the story of his own design and choosing. As I sat with him, I realized I do the same thing with God. I'll carefully sound out the first word of His instructions, and then start supplying the words that I want to put there. If God were to just let me go on my merry way, the story of my life would turn out much differently than what He designs for my life, so God stops me and has me sound out each word that He's written so that I live the life He has for me.

While watching my son persistently work at reading, I noticed that his focus and attention easily wandered. His mouth would be making the the sound, and he'd draw the sound out because his eyes would be studying the snap on his jeans, the picture right below the words, nearby letters, and anything that caught his eye. Just like I tap the word to draw my son's attention back to the task at hand, God taps me and draws my attention back to Him. It's only by focusing on Him that I can sound out the next word. There's no way I can even hope to get it right, unless I keep my eyes on Him.

When my son stumbled over the word he was sounding out, I would whisper a hint in his ear. “When there are two vowels in a short word the first vowel says its long name and the second one is silent.” He'd be able to read the word and I'd praise him for doing such a good job. He knew he wasn't alone in his reading practice—not only was he snuggled up close to me, but I was cheering him on and helping when he needed help.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11


God doesn't ever leave us. He's always right with us, whispering hints, directions and encouragements into our hearts. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

The first thing my son wanted to do after reading those first pages was to call Daddy and tell him, knowing Daddy would be pleased. Do I want to run straight to Jesus with my joy like that? Do I allow others to share my joy or allow them to see what God has taught me? Sharing your joy multiplies it, just as when my son met Daddy at the door, book in hand, their joy was multiplied by sharing it.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Clarity

This past week has been busy and I've spent hours in front of my computer staring at (seemingly) the same thing over and over again. It's not been the same thing, but there's been absolutely no variation in the format. My eyes are weary and blurry and I've increased the print size on my monitor in an effort to help me focus.

That doesn't ever happen to God. His vision is perfect, He never loses His ability to focus nor does His sight become blurry. And I'm always in His sight. In fact, the Bible says I'm the apple of His eye. That's such a comfort to me. His eyes never grow weary and His love never wavers. What an awesome God!

But what does He see? Does He see a daughter spending time with Him and wanting to please Him or does He see willful disregard and disobedience?

In John 1:38 Jesus asked Andrew and another of John's disciples what they were looking for, and they responded by asking Him where He was staying. They wanted to be with Him. Not only that, but Andrew went and told his brother, Simon Peter, that he had found the Messiah and Peter went along. That day they spent with Jesus changed their lives. Do I have that desire to simply be with Jesus? Do I point others to the Messiah like Andrew did?

Lord, give me a longing for You that only grows greater, and use me for Your glory, for You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Betty Bee and the Long Tongue

This week's Fiction Friday is:
Betty Bee


“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;”
Ephessians 4:11-12 (NAS)

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We'd love to have you join us for Fiction Fridays! Just post your fiction on your blog with a link to here at Patterings, then come and leave your name and blog url in the Mr. Linky box just below here and enjoy the other fiction.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Life Driving 101

With my son just finishing Drivers Ed. and starting to drive, and a daughter hot on his heels, I've been giving them instruction and pointers as I drive. Today's tidbit was going to be where to look when a car is coming toward you on a narrow, two lane road. But as I opened my mouth to start sharing my great wisdom, God flashed His neon 'Listen up!' sign that He has just for me.

We all know that you tend to steer toward what you're looking at, so if you focus on the car coming toward you, you'll run right into it. If you focus on the center line, you'll either hug the center line or ride right in the middle of the road, and we all know that straddling the line just doesn't work—especially when someone's zooming at you. So, you look at the white line or right down the center of your lane.

I seem to be in a transition time in my life, and I've been concerned about following the right path. I don't want to go the wrong way and I don't want to run into, or even scrape against, something. I want to follow God's way for me and I don't want to straddle a boundary line He has set out

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2 (NAS)


I never did share with the kids where to look while driving—I was too busy absorbing God's reminder that if I just focus on Him, and Him alone, I won't have to worry about crossing the line into on-coming traffic. Keeping my eyes fixed firmly on Him will help hold my course steady.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Vacuuming an Octopus

Our home is an equal opportunity household. Everyone gets to share in the chores and that means our three boys know how to do dishes, sweep, vacuum, and (vaguely) how to do laundry, and our girls know how to mow and (vaguely) help their father with repair jobs. When a child is big enough to run the vacuum, he gets added into the loop of divide and conquer—the household chores, that is.

Now, with five children that gives us a lot of hands to get the work done, but that also means we have to clean far more often than a typical American family with 2.5 children. To compound our dirt-factor is the fact that with homeschooling there are six of us home 24/7, we live in the country and we have a contracting business. All that adds up to a lot of dirt and a lot of cleaning. So we divide it and conquer it.

Although the kids do much of the cleaning, I work myself into the rotation to make sure that each chore gets done correctly every now and then. I don't know if you've watched a child, or even a teen, vacuum lately, but they just don't do it quite like a cleaning professional does. A kid will stand in the middle of the room and pretend to draw octopus tentacles around him, using the vacuum as a paint brush. When the octopus is complete, the room is vacuumed. Oh, and did I mention that the faster they make their octopus the happier they are?

That's not how a cleaning professional does it. They start at one side of the room and slowly and methodically work their way across and out of the room, leaving in their wake a room well vacuumed, and, depending on the kind of carpet, a sea of neat vacuuming lines that seems to make them smile.

So tell me, which kind of vacuumer are you? Do you stand in the middle of the room of your life and create an octopus as you vacuum the dirt and sin out of your life, or do you do it the professional cleaner's way and slowly and methodically cover every inch and get every particle of dirt possible? When you're done confessing and communing with our Heavenly Father is the carpet of your life such that it's inviting to stretch out and relax on or would you cringe at the thought of setting a baby down to play there?

I think it's time for me to get out my own vacuum and be a professional cleaner and not a hurried housewife and mom. I do much more than just vacuuming an octopus, but in the confessing and communing department I think I need more practice.

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