Tuesday, May 22, 2012

1000 gifts: graduation party

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey (from Ann Voskamp's book and her blog, A Holy Experience

453. Visiting bookshelves
Whenever I visit a home of friends or family, one of the first things I'm drawn to is their bookshelves.  Recently I visited one of my old room-mates, Emily,  and it was so much fun to spend time with her and her husband and 18-month old little boy.  Her home was one of those wonderfully welcoming homes that you just immediately feel comfortable in. And I just loved her bookshelves! Full of classic literature and great Christian books, many I was familiar with and quite a few new ones - I wanted to borrow half of them!

454. Pictures on living room walls
After  the bookshelves, the next thing I love about visiting friends or family is the art or pictures that they pick to hang on their walls. Emily and her husband had a poster of one of the original Guttenberg bibles, which I just loved (I plan to order the same poster).  They also had a painting,  "The Bookworm" by Carl Spitzweg, which we immediately bonded over - both being lovers of books.

455.  Redneck horseshoes, shaving cream wars, party squirrel dance
We all drove down to Salina, Kansas for my husband's nephew's high school graduation. Almost the whole family was there, and my kids had a wonderful time playing with all their cousins (they practically lived on the trampoline). For the older crowd, they had set up a game of redneck horseshoes (with beer bottles  - a new experience for me.) The teenagers got into a shaving cream war, and everyone had to do the party squirrel dance whenever someone opened one of T.J.'s graduation cards which played a "Paaaaartttyyyy!" song and featured a dancing squirrel.

456.  Connections between cousins
When Blaze was a toddler, at family reunions her older cousin Dani always kept an eye on her and played with her. Now Dani has a toddler daughter, and Blaze - ten years old - was the one who loved chasing after Jaidyn and watching her for Dani. 

457. Theology of the First Law of Thermodynamics
During our graduation party weekend, Tyler shared his theology on the First Law of Thermodynamics. Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. If you apply this law to the Creation account according to the Bible, then God must have used his own energy to create the universe and everything in it. What a wild thought!

458.  Mother's day book
Blaze is in 4th grade, and Dreamer is in 2nd grade, and their teachers always come up with wonderful Mother's Day projects for the kids to make. This year the booklet that Blaze made me included things like "The jobs my mother does.... reading helper when I am having troubles, lover of all her children, riding instructor when I am at a horse show" (great illustration of a riding arena, complete with jumps). 

"She loves.... chocolate and a nice hug, reading on her bed, writing a book on the computer and talking with lots of friends" (I love the illustration she put with this last one, two friends holding tea cups!) 

"Mom feels... happy when I read to my sisters.... tired when I am always talking...mad if a chore is not done." (quite the illustration of me shouting "get it done!") 

"She deserves... hugs and kisses when she comes home, a lovely hike in the mountains, and a camping trip with her family. I love my mom because she will give more than any mom on earth, and I am her grateful daughter."

459. Being a guest teacher in your kid's class
It took some courage, but I finally asked Blaze's teacher if I could take up one of her social study periods to review some Wyoming history with the kids using interactive maps, an on-line version of GIS (geographic information systems) that I use for work. I had so much fun leading the kids on a virtual tour of the neighborhood around their school to start with, then looking at a map of Laramie, then moving out to various historical spots around Wyoming. The kids loved getting to do different map-related things on the computer, such as measurements and finding features on aerial photos.

460. Teenagers pretending to be horses
Stars has some great friends, and one of them in particular I like because she also loves horses (we are all pretty much a horse-crazy family). One night when Kaitie was over visiting Stars, they actually stayed in the living room with us instead of hiding out in Stars' room. Stars wanted Kaitie to show us her horse impersonations. I can't quite describe her "Russian stallion" act (complete with Russian accent) but it was hilarious! She also did a rooster strut that gave me a bellyache from laughing so hard!

461. Scarf race
Dreamer wanted to do a flag race as one of the games at her birthday party (8 years old!). I looked up the rules for a flag race, but I ended up modifying it to a "scarf race" - the kids had a lot of fun (so did I).

462. When a friend asks "what is the Lord doing in your life?"
K. called up one morning to ask me this question. I told her how I had just finished studying 1 Peter, and how when you list all the verses about suffering from this book, it is both terrifying and also amazingly hopeful, even joyful! And how I just started 2 Peter, and over and over again it talks about "knowing God."  and what this really means. We also talked about "God's math" (how He provides ways for us to pay our bills when we know the money doesn't add up). And  homeschooling; K. will start homeschooling her second oldest, and I am still praying about starting homeschooling - right now I'm aiming to start after Blaze finishes 5th grade because otherwise she'll have to go to the junior high, which I think is way too early. And we talked about listing our gifts/blessings, as I've been doing for a couple years now, and K has just started doing it too.

463. Taking  captive every thought to obedience in Christ
A thoughtful quote from Jesus Calling, a devotional by Sarah Young. "Long after you have learned the discipline of holding your tongue, your thoughts defy your will and set themselves up against me. Man is the pinnacle of my creation, and the human mind is wondrously complex. I risked all by granting you freedom to think for yourself. This is godlike privilege, forever setting you apart from animals and robots. I made you in my image, precariously close to deity." Reminded me of how hard it is to live out 2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The challenge of Crazy Love

Crazy Love, by Francis Chan, is probably the most challenging Christian book I've ever read.

Just take a look at some of the chapter headings and you'll see what I mean.

Chapter 1. Stop Praying

Chapter 2. You Might Not Finish This Chapter

Chapter 4. Profile of the Lukewarm (this was chapter was excruciating and wonderful at the same time)

Chapter 5: Serving Leftovers to a Holy God

Chapter 8: Profile of the Obsessed

Chapter 9: Who Really Lives this Way?

Here's how it starts: "This book is written for those who want more Jesus. ... it is for those who don't want to plateau, who would rather die before their convictions die." 

I don't want to continue to respond this way:
The God of the Universe - the creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor - loves with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss.... Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of the world with tangible, even radical solutions? (from the back cover).
My plan is to address each chapter in a blog post, and how it impacted me (and more importantly, what I'm doing about it).

Chapter 1 - Stop Praying.
What if I told you to stop talking at God for a while, but instead to take a long, hard look at Him before you speak another word? Solomon warned us not to rush into God's presence with words. That's what fools do.
I know I need to take my eyes off myself more often, and put them on God instead. All morning I have had a particular problem weighing heavily on me. One of my kids needs discipline of some sort. She has failed in a bargain she made with us (her father and I). What to do? What to do? I have been worrying over it like a bone, talking to God about it, asking Him for His direction.

When I pray to God about my problems, I do feel the burden lifted - I give my problems (and other people's prayer requests) over to Him to carry, instead of carrying them, myself. But I think that's only half the equation.

What Chan is talking about is a whole shift from a me-centered, my-issues world to a God-centered world. Taking time to look at Him, listen to Him, consider what He has done, stand before Him in awe. I got a sense of that earlier this year when I wrote about my theme for the year, Seeking Him.

It may seem a hopeless endeavor, to gaze the invisible God. But Romans 1:20 tells that through creation, we see His invisible qualities and divine nature.

This chapter is all about the amazing things of God's creation that point us toward Him.

The beauty and complexity of nature awes me, like this iceberg set on fire by the sun.

On his website, http://www.crazylovebook.com, Chan challenges us to watch the video "Awe Factor". It is a stunning perspective of these verses, Psalm 19: 1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech. Night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.

We need frequent reminders that we are not the center of our universe.

Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God. - R.C. Sproul

Another quote:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us... Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the greatest question before the church is always God Himself, the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. - A.W. Tozer

God hasn't spoken to me about the problem of what discipline to enact. But re-reading this chapter, and then writing about it, has shown me that I'm too focused on finding a solution right now. I need to step back, even stop praying, and just be silent before Him for a while. Put Him back in the center of my universe.