Step by Step

Recently, I started reading Francis Chan’s Forgotten God and completing the bible study workbook.  I thought I bought the dvd videos to go along with it, but turns out I really just bought Francis Chan reading his book aloud for me on cd.  I do know how to read and should have read the case that I purchased!  Oh well.

Galatians 5:16-26 is a passage that I have read many times on my Christian journey, but I love it that something new jumped out at me while reading yesterday. Paul is describing the always present internal battle of living by the Spirit vs the sin nature (or the flesh as it is in Greek).  There is always a struggle as to whom is going to win, sometimes we follow the Spirit and let Him lead us and other times we follow our flesh and do what we want, but it isn’t really what we want to do, because we really want to do what the Spirit wants us to do…yeah, that was my paraphrase.  Then Paul lists a bunch of examples of the sinful nature, of which, I am guilty of a few.  Next comes the fruit of the Spirit.  Now, here in verse 25 is what jumped out at me.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:25

Sweet Aimee just turned one year old on February 17th.  She started cruising around the coffee table around 9 months and has slowly been working the muscles in her legs to hold her wobbly body. Right before her birthday she started taking a few steps, but she didn’t really like it very much.  What she did love was to hold a hand and have someone walk with her.  When she went off on her own, she ended up on the floor.

Another image that comes to my mind is from back in the college days.  Krystal Jones and I had a couple semesters where we had all of the same classes.  While this wasn’t the best for my GPA, we had a LOT of fun!  Many a day we had to walk (semi) long distances to get to class.  I remember dreading those days when the frigid winter air would blow right through my coat (maybe I wasn’t wearing one?) and chill me down to the bone.  We would walk to class together, heads down in a kind of huddle all the while making weird “It is so freezing cold outside” noises.  While keeping in step with each other, we could face the daunting wind.  Funny how it wasn’t those winter days that made us skip class; it was the gorgeous spring days that always led us astray.

It was during those college years that Rich Mullins died in his Jeep accident.  I love his song Step by Step and would often have that song in my head on my way to class (way back when college students walked to class without an i pod).  …and I will seek you in the morning, and I will learn to walk in your ways, and step by step you lead me…and I will follow you all of my days.

My desire is to walk in step with the Spirit.  I don’t want to let go and try to go on my own.  I know I will end up on the floor.

This is Aimee walking in step with me!  I get to see this cute little face everywhere I go.  Mulling these thoughts over in my mind makes me want to be more patient when my kids are pulling me in different directions.  Well, as you know, one of the fruit of the spirit is patience.

Facebook Without Ceasing

In the New Testament, Paul tells the Thessalonians we are to “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  I used to do this, as least I used to be a lot better at this than I am now…

When I am walking from upstairs to switch the laundry, God might remind me a bit about his everlasting love.  I will give him thanks.  While I am washing up a few dishes in the sink, He will remind me of a friend who needs prayer. I will ask for His love and blessing to be made known.  Folding a few towels, I will sing a little praise song.  While putting my sweet kids to bed, I pray for their protection and their salvation.  This is who I want to be and what I want to do throughout the day.

Unfortunately, since I have facebook/internet on my phone instead of allowing God to draw my thoughts, prayers, and praises to Him, I allow my brain to be muddled with where my fb friends are eating lunch, who they are hanging out with, and what they are watching on tv.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am not fb bashing.  I love keeping up with my friends and family.  I love sharing what we are eating for dinner!  I love the connectedness that it brings to our lives, especially living in Haiti so far away from “home”.  After the 2010 earthquake, I was amazed that it was the only reliable source for communication!

What I am confessing is facebook without ceasing instead of pray without ceasing.  I am wasting precious moments of everyday interacting with a screen instead of the little faces in front of me.  I catch up on everyone’s updates while I wait for my kids to fall asleep instead of praying for them and with them.  I look up after dinner and see that my kids have taken advantage of my Blackberry addiction to escape from the table (and hoping to escape from the dishes!).  Sometimes it happens during the school day. When my kids are hard at work, I think I have time to read a little thing that someone posted.  When I am finished, I notice that my kids were not focused because I lost my focus on them.  My family deserves my best, and so does my God.  I am have failing them.

So with this confession, comes repentance and a stubborn resolve to keep my phone in my pocket.  At times it seems to be an extension of my hand.  And since I am putting this out here for all to read, I want you to ask me about my time with my phone.  You can keep me accountable.  I did tell my kids to keep me accountable as well.  They haven’t failed me yet.

And please, someone tell me that I am not alone!

Anger Management?

I wish I could say that I hate the video games for all the right reasons.  As an educator, I want my kids to be inquisitive.  They need the intellectual stimulation of books and nature.  They need to be finding out the “why” questions in their lives.  As a mom who wants her kids to be healthy, I want my kids to make healthy choices.  I want them to choose healthy, active options instead of watching tv, or playing wii games (my kids have figured out that you really don’t have to stand up and move a whole lot to bat or bowl).  Ironically, these are not the main reasons that I have issues with the video games.  Actually, most of my kids are not concerned about the “no TV, no video games” rule for the school week.  It is the dear seven-year-old that is the one who has the concern.

I started paying attention to his fits of rage in our house.  His punching, knocking things over, his refusal to obey, and his lack of submission went hand in hand with the following:  television, computer games, Nintendo DS, games on the phone, and the Wii. He is a different child when these things are not within his grasp.  He is helpful, (mostly) obedient, a sweet brother, and happy; however, if you add a screen in front of his face, it could turn ugly.  I am really thankful that I started paying attention to his angry disposition and figuring out the triggers which caused him to be like this.  Really, I hate this for him, because I know how much he loves to play these games.

Several years back, I was trying to lose weight (who isn’t, right?) and I had to figure out what was triggering me to overeat.  I discovered that when I was angry (or felt anxious, or things seemed out of control) I would eat, preferably the sweeter and saltier the better. About that same time, I listened to an Ozark Christian College professor, Kenny Boles’s sermon called “Anger Management”. (I tried to find a link to it, but was unsuccessful.  OCC is in the process of archiving the past chapel sermons.) Because of this sermon, I was reminded that Paul says in Ephesians 4:31  to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every kind of malice.”  Suddenly, I was made aware of a great sin in my life that God started burning from my heart.  I started to understand that God wants me to get rid of my anger, not manage it. I am still in process, and have a long way to go.

When we moved to Haiti in 2008, I began home schooling my kids, just my two oldest girls at the time.  The class has now grown to the four oldest.  I was really shocked (not in a good way) how trying to teach my kids brought such ugly overflow from my heart.  I was not the mom I wanted to be for my kids and really dreaded each day of school (just think how the girls felt!).  God has continued to work through this mess in my heart and I continue to struggle through it with prayer and petition.  I know that God is working out His sanctification in my life.  For that I am so very thankful!

I realize that when my children don’t obey me, when they are being wise in their own eyes, when they follow their own desires instead of listening to their mom, these are the things that raise my blood pressure, make my heart beat faster, and make me clench my jaws.  I recently read some of the works of Charlotte Mason, a great philosopher of education, which God used to strike my heart.  She says that we need to see our children as “humans”.  You can read more of her philosophy here. Yes, I am guilty of plowing over my kids with little thought to their feelings, their emotions, and their needs.  Guess what this makes them…oh, angry? Yes, as a Christian mom, I should not ever act this way with my kids!  I think I am finally getting it. Thank God, that His mercies are new every morning!

So instead of hating the video games and how they make my son behave poorly, I should be thankful for them.  They have revealed an area of sin that my little guy can start working on early in his life instead of waiting until he is almost 30.  What a privilege it is to get to help him on that journey!  What a privilege to pray with him and for him to the One who wants us all to be transformed into the image of His Son.