Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lie We All Tell

“I don’t have time.” This might be the most common reason given for why we say “no” to invitations, tasks, favors, etc. At the risk of angering everyone who reads this, I’m proclaiming that this excuse is a complete lie and should be taken out of our vocabulary. And this is why.

Think back to a time when you have said this. Here is an example from my life. Recently, my husband asked me to call Ohio Gas to find out how much we owe since we couldn’t find the bill. “I don’t have time,” I explained.  That was a lie. This is what I should have said, “I spend most of my day, completely scatterbrained, hoping to keep myself and the kids alive and mostly well. Sometimes I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth that morning. Then when naptime comes and I have 90 minutes to actually do things like pay the bills or make phone calls, I notice that Hoarders is on the tv and I would much rather sit on the couch, stare blankly at the nightmarish scenes on the screen, and let my mind go completely numb.”

At some point in my life, here are some of the things I have said “I don’t have time” to do:

·         Playing with my children

·         Reading my bible

·         Working out

·         Eating Healthy or making dinner for my family

·         Praying

·         Spending time with my husband

·         Calling friends and family

·         Cleaning the house

·         Going to church

·         Joining a small group

·         Running Errands

·         Managing my household

·         Writing encouraging notes or thank you notes

·         Partaking in ministry

·         Spending time with my friends and family

 It is not a matter of free time during the day. One could argue that we all have 24 hours of free time every day. We choose what our priorities are and what activities are worthy enough to drink up a portion of that time. Instead, “I don’t have time” should be translated “That is not a priority for me.” My choice to vapidly watch Hoarders during the hour I should be most productive during my day obliterates that excuse for me.  So does my choice to write a blog post, check facebook 10 times a day (okay, 100 times a day), read the latest on the Kardashians, or exercise more than the 30 minutes/5 times a week recommendation from the CDC.  As long as I am able to act on my own free will, I am not able to honestly say, “I don’t have time.”

 So why do we say it?

1. Because the truth hurts. It always stings when you find out that you are not a priority in someone’s life, even if it is understandable.  It makes complete sense to me when my friends turn me down for a girls’ night so they can go on a date with their husband. It still stings, although not as much as if their reason was to…I don’t know…watch Hoarders.  We don't like to hurt people. We don't like to let them down. We don't like them to think poorly of us.

It also hurts us because it brings us awareness of our selfishness, our inability to meet the needs of others, or our ability to hurt others so easily.  While the bible tells us not to condemn ourselves when we sin because Christ’s blood has washed us clean (Romans 8:1-2), there are times when the Holy Spirit convicts us (John16:7-11), calls for repentance (1 John 1:9; Proverbs 1:23), and implores us to change our priorities (Deuteronomy 6;Matthew 22:35-40) . Have you ever not called someone back simply because you don’t LIKE talking to them? Have you ever dodged someone’s presence because you don’t ENJOY being with them. Even without conviction from the Holy Spirit, you have to be pretty hard-hearted to not feel bad. Why else would we say it?

2. Because it is easier. It is easier than having a hard conversation with someone about why we don’t want to do whatever they ask. The real reason might reveal something in us that we don’t want to share. 

·         Will you help organize the fundraiser? Because I feel so overwhelmed with life right now that if I add one more thing I’m going to start crying uncontrollably. I don’t have time.

·         Do you want to go get lunch? I don’t want to go get lunch because I’m on the first week of  a diet and eating out always makes me fall off the wagon. I don’t have time.

·         Do you want to come over for a playdate? No, because every time I walk in your house I’m so overwhelmed with jealousy for how perfect your life seems. I don’t have time.

·         Honey, could you stop by the drycleaner and pick up my suit? No, because I’m really angry over that thing you said yesterday so I don’t want to do anything nice for you. I don’t have time.

·         Mommy, will you build me a train track? No because every time I build one, you destroy it five minutes later and then you throw the tracks all over the basement. I don’t have time.

As Christians, we know that life is fleeting ( Psalm 39:4-5) and we are called to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:15-16). The result of choosing our priorities poorly can be negative. I’ve lost friends because I didn’t intentionally carve out time for them. My marriage has suffered when I didn’t make date nights and important conversations a priority with my husband.  My house, my body, and my mind have suffered from laziness. 

On the other hand, the wise ways I’ve used my time has reaped rewards.  My heart has been blessed by my participation with the ministry of Young Life. My children will grow up with memories of a Mommy who can easily turn into a tiger, witch, ghost, or princess in a castle with dirty grout and dog snot on the windows. They will grow up, knowing about Jesus because church is a priority. They will have memories of their grandparents because we take the time to drive south to visit them. The time I have put into prayer and bible study has given me a heart that adores, worships, and communes with the God that so many others see as distant and harsh (Jeremiah 29:13).

I have time. I just don’t always have the desire.

So I’m curious. When I am tempted to answer “I don’t have time” to some invitation, what do you think is best?

·         To continue with the lie to save time, energy, and feelings?

·         To be brutally honest and really tell people what’s on your mind? Is honesty really like a kiss on the lips (Proverbs24:26)?

·         To do what is asked of you if you are unable or unwilling to give the real explanation of why you do not want to?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Exactly Where God Wants Me to Be

“I used to have my name on a business card,” I said to my husband as I held my cherished, long-awaited son. My whole life I wanted to be a stay at home mom. It was the reason I didn’t become a pediatrician. It was the reason I studied Child Development and Family Studies in college and grad school. Now, only five months into my son’s life, and I couldn’t understand why I was so discontent with my station in life.

My first year at home was difficult. I was a big personality trapped in a 2100 square foot ranch and every day I would sit with my baby and my dog and we would wait for my husband to come home from work.  It wasn’t until I met up with my former boss when William was 13 months old that things changed. She told me that I was exactly where I needed to be and to enjoy it.  After that I felt like I had hit the jackpot. William and I spent a summer going everywhere and doing everything together and I loved it. I also got involved with ministry again and started attending bible studies.  I was content.

A few months ago, after staying home for 7 years, the discontentment returned.  Around me I noticed that my fellow homemakers all had something they enjoyed doing. They are part-time physical therapists, photographers, fitness instructors, writers, inventors, and deeply involved in various ministries. And I’ve become envious.

I’m not envious about their specific callings. I’m envious because my friends know how the Lord intends to use them in their life, or at least for this phase of life. And their ministry extends beyond the walls of their home.

This past Wednesday, I sat with the ladies in my small group and explained all this to them. With their wisdom, I realized that even though I have an idea what the Lord is calling me to, he has also made it clear that it is not the right time for that vision to be fulfilled. I know that I am exactly where God wants me to be at this stage in my life. Right now my sons need me to teach them how to be men that can stand up and face this culture with faith, integrity, and passion. Right now, my husband needs me to be exactly who I am, exactly where I am, so he can be who he is.

So I sat in my home office Wednesday night, fully content once again.

Then I heard my oldest come downstairs. “Mommy, I don’t feel good.” What followed was 18 hours with three miserable kids, a stomach flu, and no sleep. And as I changed my vomit-covered clothes for the third time, scrubbed the toilet and floors repeatedly, and comforted my children the way only a mommy  can, I told myself, “This is EXACTLY where God wants me to be.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Foregoing what is trendy to do what is Godly

Have you ever felt called to do something that wasn't normal in your culture? Maybe it was something small like whether or not to raise your hands in worship at church. Maybe it was something big like whether or not to homeschool your children or quit your job to become a missionary.

Different generations, churches, denominations, and regions of the country have a culture where certain things are accepted and some are not. At the church I attended in college I felt I had to dress a certain way (I believe the style could be described as boho chic, a la Sienna Miller and the Olson twins) or else I didn't fit in. I also felt that I was missing something because I didn't dance or lay on the ground in a puddle of tears during worship music. I felt so uncomfortable that I eventually started looking at other churches. What they were doing wasn't wrong; it was just a style of worship that was attractive to other young adult church attenders, so it caught on and became the norm. It wasn't wrong for me to wear jeans and a t-shirt and stand in place while worshipping either. My problem was that I lacked the courage to do what was different. You see, even in a church community it can take a lot of courage to step outside the norm.

In Ephesians 3:14, Paul kneels in prayer out of an awareness that God is doing so much in the lives of believers. His kneeling position, according to the NIV Study Bible notes, was not something people in his time commonly did. They STOOD in prayer. His kneeling posture was a symbolof his deep emotion and reverence towards God.

Even though this wasn't common in his time, it was something that Jesus himself did on occasion. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus "fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." We know from an earlier verse that he also was expressing deep emotion and reverence. Paul's prayer position wasn't unbiblical. It was just uncommon.

Remember that just because something is different than your friends, your husband, or your church, it doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Consider whether it is biblical or not. If it lines up with biblical practice and biblical wisdom, you feel led by the Holy Spirit, and you are confident enough in the Lord to deal with the consequence of looking odd, take the leap of faith!

**This is especially important if you believe others in your community, group, or church are acting unbiblically. If so, maybe the call you feel from the Holy Spirit is for you to be a modern day Martin Luther, nailing your 95 Theses to the door of your church, small group, or community. Of course this requires a much bigger leap of faith, but if you are right in your assessment of wrongdoing, have scriptural evidence, and the wisdom of Godly men and women to support you, God will be on your side.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I recently created a Printable, Hangable Proverbs 31:10-31 page. Now every time I look at my fridge where I plan my day, make my coffee, and say my daily prayers, I will be able to read about what a Wife of Noble Character is like! Enjoy!

Proverbs 31 Printable
The Wife of Noble Character

10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

11Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31: 10-31