Tuesday, March 31, 2009

daylight view on previous post

Now that the sun is up (hard to tell in this region), some reflection on the previous post regarding Looks and church ladies:

I do not have a problem with people looking great and their children looking sparkley. I don't have a problem with people living in larger houses or having nicer things.
I have a problem with the pressure that some 'brothers and sisters' in the church place on others to acquire the same things. That somehow we aren't spiritual enough if we haven't been blessed financially. A good friend mentioned this disturbance a little while ago, and it has been tossing about in my mind, gathering bits and pieces here and there.
I suppose if we are doing what we believe that God has asked us to do with what he has given us, then that is all we can do. I do not in any way believe that financial prosperity is God's only way of blessing those who have been shown responsible with little, thereby giving them responsibility for more. This happens in myriad other ways. More children, a promotion at work, discipling other believers, the blessing of being present when a blind one is relieved of the scales over their eyes and confesses a spirit impoverished without God. And yes, even more hardship and more persecution.
If my harship was a small house with two adults and one child, and it has been increased to the same small house with five more children, then I will continue to give God glory for providing for our needs, giving us the gift of children, and hoping that I teach them with biblical truths as they learn to make decisions for themselves. I pray that I give thanks always for the warmth and safety of of my house, the convenience of appliances and electricity, and plenty of clothing and linens to keep us clean and comfortable.
I do spend plenty enough time pining for grand accomodations. Often I pray that God will bless me in just the ways I want to be blessed. I believe in praying specifically. I can only feel good about praying that way, though if my wants are what God wants for me. Does he want a bigger house and nicer things for me? I don't know. I do know where I am now, and I intend to bloom there.
Even if my bloom looks more like a dandelion than a rose to those around me.

Church Lady Adventures-Looks

Church ladies always look just right. no strings hanging from hems, hair in place, make up on, shoes match the outfit, no stains, children's hair combed, faces shining, ditto with the clothes.
*record skips, scratcheds*
What?
Oh, man-can I keep up with that? Appearance is somewhat important, after all, we live in the United States of America. We are expected to be overly concerned with hygene. And looks. Should that be pushed at church? The looks part. I'm all for the hygene!
Here it is, why is it so incredibly important for us to wear the latest fashions, ironed and with the right shoes, hair in place and make up on, all the children shining and perfectly coiffed and clean. I get that we don't want to appear dirty and disheveled all of the time. We need to show that we care for the gifts that God has given us. Okay. So, what if it's been a long day, I've been out with all of the children, and I have to stop in at the grocery store before I go home. It's illegal to leave the children in the vehicle while I shop, so, in come the kiddos.
They have various juice splotches on their shirts, crumbs stuck in their hair from snacks, possibly their socks actually match, and dirt and grass stains on their knees. My pony tail is coming out all over the place, my eye make up, if I bothered, is smudged terribly, and I have spit up and sticky hand prints from shoulder to knee. I have one pair of shoes left, so they go with everything, even if they don't 'go'.
No one says outright to my face that this is unacceptable. It's the looks -I promise, not perceived! And whispers, often combined with a pointing finger or gesturing hand.
pss.pss.pss "She could at least comb their hair.", "Does she ever bathe them?", "Poor children.", "What a group of little urchins." That's just at the grocery store!
At church, oh, my! I was taught as I was growing up that we bring our best to God on Sunday mornings. We are sparkling clean, we wear our best clothes, that's that. Not a bad thing to learn to do.
What happens when it's been a marathon week, sleep isn't entirely possible during the nights, something has happened to the matching shoe for at least three of the six children, and the baby has spit up on nearly every top that mom has. Mom puts a sweater over the one top that is still clean, hoping that a double layer will at least get her out the door. The children end up wearing their golashes, because they can find the mates. Make up may or may not have been applied, and again, the ponytail wins out.
We get to church to find that folks are in their sunday best. One of my boys runs by with his buzz cut grown out a bit too long and laying awkwardly on one side because he went to bed with it wet. My sweet little princess girl is somehow wearing pink and white cowboy boots that are three sizes too large and don't exactly go with the Christmas dress that she is still wearing in March. My sweater didn't make it, and my blouse has been doomed. My shirt and my shoes don't match. *sigh* I'm looking around. No one else appears to have this problem. People say they do, but I am sure they are just trying to help me feel better. Look at them! They don't look like this!
What about where we live? All kidding aside for the moment - I have actually had people say how surprised they are about where we live. After all, we have so many children that they just assumed we live in a very large house. Hmmm. We've lived in the same tiny house since we had one child. The other five showed up one right after the other and here we all live. Is there some sort of church standard about a person's dwelling? Are there particular neighborhoods that are acceptable? No, of course not, but do we think it anyway? And if so, then does that mean that people who live in less desirable areas should move when they choose to follow Christ?
Is it so impossible to believe that some of us choose to live in a means consistent with the income that has been provided to us? Is it wrong to steward what God has given us to use for his glory? Is it somehow against the grain of the body of Christ to ignore the pursuit of material wealth?
So I say, look great in your designer duds if you can afford them. Apply your make up with skill and keep it in place throughout the day if this is one of your talents. Work your magic that keeps your childrens hair in place and clothes clean all day long, if that's what you can do...but don't be harsh with me when my children play like children, then get dirty. When my nails aren't manicured and my clothes are all but worn out.
Do you have any idea how much pressure is on a mom to look good, the more children there are? It's almost like a contest. "Okay, I have four now. I can still put on make up and heels. People will still think I'm okay. ", "Number five. Going out with five children. Final coat of mascara, now the lipstick. Okay. I look like I have control over things." , "Six. I have six children. God, dear God, you have blessed me with six, but that means I have less time to get everyone out the door. I pray, dear Lord, matching shoes, with two socks per child or my hair and make up?"

***DISCLAIMER

If you look good, I don't hate you. I do make an effort now and then, because I feel good about being able to do it sometimes. We DO have a shoe tree - but, it is rarely in season. If we haven't invited you to our house, don't feel bad, it's just big enough for the eight of us and, in true American fashion, we have too much stuff so there isn't any room for you to sit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

grouch

I'm a grumpity ol' grouch today. I admit it. I don't like how it makes me feel. I have a terrible headache, stomach ache and am super tired. I'd love to snuggle up under a fluffy blanket with a cup of coffee a book and an assortment of DVD's.......but. I have children to care for, classes to drop off and pick up for, lessons to prepare for, bible study class to study for, laundry to fold and put away, dishes to wash, food to cook, diapers to change, floors to sweep, and even a dog to pay attention to, bills to pay, remember personally where everyone put everything that they can not easily locate. sigh. And there is cheese dried on to the inside of the cheese grater. And two babies are crying. See you later!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stupid Random Thoughts

Man, oh Man! Here I am, excited about getting to work on writing a book. Thoughts colliding in my mind, scrambeling to be the first to be written down. The link up togther forming sentences, paragraphs, description. Title ideas, topic ideas. How to keep things general. What style to use.
I am so excited to be writing a book! I am continuing my bible studies, and want this book to be a reflection of who God has created me to be.
Then, I opened my mouth.
These wonderful, linked up thoughts were not great. They didn't link up in any real order. Things have begun to come out of my mouth that are so completely random, all I can do is laugh. Hard. And pray that the random things are not unGodly.
I blurted out some inane thing about snakes being able to see through their eyelids, and the relationship between man and serpent/Jesus Christ and Satan according to God in the book of Genesis, during a bible study about the book of Matthew. What? I have no idea. It seemed to make sense in my head, when I said it out loud, it was just strange.
My husband showed me some coats he picked up for the boys at a second hand store. I told him that one of them looked great. The other, I said, "doesn't look very orange." Blank stare. "What?" I ask. He tells me it isn't supposed to be orange. At all. Warm is what I meant. Why did orange come out? I don't recall even thinking about anything orange.
My hope is that by writing more things down, and being able to cross off the crazy random things, my thoughts will be more centered. Instead of things swimming through my head and oozing out of my mouth, they will be contained and categorized. Not that I will suddenly be eloquent and sound knowing and wise, but that I will strive for wise in my speech.
I have a feeling I'll be wasting loads of notebook paper...

Monday, March 16, 2009

super quick bible thought

Church and community. Community and church. We have a 'church home'. We have a 'church community.' We have a community church. Right? I hope so. The church is not a building (thx to Pastors Jesse and Scott for saying this thousands of times over), it is the body of Christ. So, is our community lived out in the body of Christ? Should it be lived out in the body of Christ? Should our complications and balancing acts be lived out in the body of Christ? How about AS the body of Christ IN the community? If our relationships with other body members are healthy, and we are discipling one another, spurring each other on to good works, and supporting one another, then we are doing what God's word has instructed. Are we leaving these things where they are? In the building? EGADS! I hope not! Take these things out into your community. Be a Holy reflection to the people you see everyday!
I hope to live this way. I want people that don't love Jesus to see that I am someone who needs forgiveness, and strives to be Holy - not someone who believes themselves to have achieved perfection. That is discouraging to folks that believe that we have to have cast aside all of our junk before coming to the cross.
Obviously we don't want to '...keep on sinning to gain grace...', we just want to be real!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Read The Comments

Do you ever read the comments that are left for online news reports? They are amazing! I am going to generalize here, because there may be a couple of truly intelligent people that have left proufound remarks.
The remarks left by these people are stunningly preposterous! I love them! What a laugh. Often, they are just gross. Usually, however, they are hilarious.
My unofficial research has led to the discovery that no matter what the news story was - science, entertainment, travel, finance - the comments go to religion and evolution. Almost every single time! What angers people the most? Mentions of Jesus Christ, His saving grace, God's love and laws, and the cross.
Mentions of evolution don't seem to stir anger, just conversation. Someone types in "the bible says..." and the follow up comments are seething with hate!
If anyone reading this is having trouble finding lost people to pray for (really? All your friends are Christians?) then go on line, click on a news story, find an angry ranting post, and pray specifically for that person.
This is not a practice that should exclude sharing the gospel in person and building real face-to-face relationships, it's in addition to .
Try it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

sick, sick, sick!

One kiddo has strep, I probably have strep, one baby might have strep. Ick, yuck and gross. I'm going to lean on prayer purposfully tomorrow as I stagger through the day. I plan on allowing lots of DVD watching, computer time, free reading, maybe even video games, I'll work on the Precept study of Matthew, and filling a notebook with scribblings intended for a book. We will consume chicken soup, possibly ice-cream. Believe it or not, the pediatrician listed ice cream as a good throat soother. Sounds good to me!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Big Idea

The Zoo Mama Chronicles
Adventures of a Church Lady.


I don’t like church ladies. They are mean and scary. They have rigid rules and high expectations. They gossip and are snooty. Church ladies exclude people and have small minds. These women are forces to be reckoned with. The whole of their existence is to shield their children from the perils of the earth – mainly Saturday morning cartoons and the neighbor children, keep the church kitchen in order and forever churn out casseroles for church potlucks. Modern dress is abhorrent to this crew, and laughter is but a few titters here and there at the antics of toddlers and embarrassment over some trivial matter. These women rule everything! Their husbands are weak and their children cower. I sometimes picture even God’s knees knocking a bit when these women take to prayer!
Horrible, terrible revelation: I am a church lady. Noooooooo! I grew up going to church. I go to church now. I am married and have children. I use the church kitchen, volunteer in the nursery, and teach Sunday School. There is, however, a difference. The high expectations are God’s. His law is written on my heart and I seek to serve Him. There are still potlucks and church building work to be done. I volunteer for these things and enjoy serving the local body of Christ this way. There are so many ways to be a woman in the local church (read: body of Christ) and get something done for God with compassion and joy.

writing stuff

Writing is writing. Right? Writing a blog, or an email is not the same as writing a book. I hope. There here blog is a place for random musings. A place for a rough sketch of an idea. A place for thoughts to spill out over one another and hopefully match up.
Writing a book, however, is a different story. I am embarking on the great adventure of writing a book. I've taken classes, gone to writing conferences and researched the writing and publishing processes. Immensly boring stuff. Yawn. Yet, here am I! scribbling notes in a spiral notebook. Phrases that won't get out of my head. Ideas that seem to compound in my imagination. They are going down on paper. At some point they will be organized and typed up and printed out and sent places.
Here's the part that's difficult for me. Waiting. Time. I am definately a product of the microwave generation. I don't want to wait. I want it done right now. I understand that writing a book can take years! AUGH! I don't know if I can handle that!
I'm learning things. About God and what God wants me to know about myself and His love and grace...and timing. 'His thoughts are not like my thoughts, His ways are not like my ways...' (my paraphrase). I have lots of small children. It will take time for them to grow up. It takes time to train them in the way they should go. It takes time to get them to wipe their own hineys. It takes time to get to the bottom of the hamper.
Patience is something that I have prayed extensively for. God doesn't give me patience ZAP! He gives me many opportunities to practice patience. Many, many, many opportunities.
This book writing thing is something that I have thought about for a while. I've kicked the idea around from time to time. What on earth would I write about? I have nothing to write about. Through various blogs and othe outlets, I have proven that I can write about nothing, or at least not much. The book is an idea that grew and stuck. It swims around in my head. What's more is that the idea has traveled from my brain to my heart. I have to write the book. I have to be open and public about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have to use the gifts that God has given me to share is message in they way he created me. I am not a preacher. I am not a televangelist. I am not a foreign missionary. I am a stay at home mom, home schooling, church going, God fearing, furniture rearranging, craft doing, book writing person.
Excerpts and ideas to follow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jerks for Jesus

People say all sorts of things. ALL sorts. Some people talk about God, Faith and Jesus Christ. Yay! That is awesome! I do, too! They speak truth in love. They are gentle and kind. Others are less gentle, but still loving. The message is the gospel and the delivery is reverant.

Then, there are the Jerks for Jesus. They know everything about the bible, the history of christianity and every other major religion. They know what is wrong with everyone they come in contact with AND they know how to fix it. Always with an answer at the ready, they lay in wait for 'key' words in a conversation. Their eyes brighten, their shoulders roll back, they stand a little taller - and - Pounce! The victim, uh, listener, now knows just how to make his life right. Should he choose to ignore the free advice and/or not show marked improvement within the week...watch out...the JfJ is on the move.

I, myself have been known as a JfJ. Not for spouting and being bossy, but for talking about the truth and wondering what sort of truth others believe. Folks get pretty edgy when they don't have answer to that! When I say atheism, Darwin, Buddah, power, fortune, or fame-people will politely join the conversation. When I say God, Jesus Crist, satan, Heaven, or hell, people become defensive and angry. I am not confused as to why. I'm a JfJ - I know the answer (haha!). It's heartbreaking, actually. The thought that someone could spend eternity absent from the Creator is enough to compel me to continue speaking the truth. I will Christ as I continue to learn and grow in Him.

I don't have all the answers. I'm getting a few as I go - but nothing that will stop the universe!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Modern psalm of Praise

You have heard my cry, Oh God! You have heard my wailing!
Lord God, you have heard my dying breath and have responded.
My needs are met through You, Most High!
You, precious Lord have sent relief. I now have hope and joy.
The one was sent, Oh God, to clear the way. To straighten the mess, and to tidy the bowl.
My relief is evident. My spirit is full. I overflow with thanksgiving!
Your servent found his way to my pain and has relieved my distress.
You are faithful and true!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lamentations

Where are you God?
And where is the shephard, knowledgeable and wise, that you have promised me?
You are immovable. Always in the same place. I don't remember moving. I don't recall stepping away from you, yet I look for you and and cannot see you.
The delights that you have blessed me with, the gifts that you have given, have become opressive and strangling.
They climb over me and surround me and shade me from you.
They consume my mind, they steal my strength. My soul is void,it is empty.
I long for your presence. Your abiding comfort, your strength. The strength that you promised, God, where is it?
I pray for understanding and a soft heart when I read your words. The understanding does not come. Why do I not recieve your wisdom? Why am I cast out in the shadows, cold and confused?
I come up for air. I have an hour. One hour of quiet, alone, without other people. I cry out for you, God. I scream out for your Holy Spirit. Why can I not hear your Spirit through all of the noise? Why does your spirit not scream out for me as I do for you?
O, Holy God, these tears course down my face, I can not choke them back. They flow out, taking with them my energy.
You have given me gifts of Mercy and of Encouragement, yet you put me in a place of leadership and teaching. I am so weak, God. I could lie on my face and die. You don't let me. You push me through each day. You allow my eyes to open each morning and my breath to continue through the night. You cause my sleep to be disturbed. You give me troubling dreams. You send visions of tidal waves that destroy everything around me, and my family and my self.
You show me my weakness. You show me that I am unable on my own. I reach for you. I long for you. I fall on my knees to grasp some part of you, yet you leave me alone.
Show me. Show me. I am ready to know. I can not wait any longer. my relationships suffer because of this turmoil in me.
God, make me whole. Give me peace.