Thursday, September 22, 2005

Being useful

It's funny, how God gives different callings to different saints for different kinds of ministries.

My mom has been in the nursing field since she was 18, and now she is 58. Her nursing skills always come in handy for situatons that come about outside the hospital. Just a couple of days ago she was talking to me on the phone, recounting an event in the recent past where there was a car accident and she got out of her car to help someone, and right in the middle of telling me this story, she said, "Oh, no. Something's happened here, there's an accident, and that woman is going to need help. I'll let you go." She told me later that a woman had whiplash, and my mom told her to not move her neck, and she was too stressed to listen, so my mom told her that she was going to help hold her head still, and she did, till the paramedics arrived.

She said to me, "Don't you ever get involved like that, Michele (that's my name), because if you're not certified, you can get into all kinds of trouble. The paramedics asked me, 'Are you a nurse?' and I said, 'Yes I am,' and they said, 'Alright, we'll take it from here.'"

I thought to myself afterwards, well, I've never been put in that kind of situation, when my mom has, over and over. How incredible can it be, that she is telling me her story of helping with a car accident and then getting interrupted to do the same kind of service!!

Then later that day I went to pick up Grace from preschool. I had driven by an unkempt man on my way. Lo, and behold, there he appeared a couple minutes later, I found out, a homeless man who was lost and hungry. I had just bought a huge sandwich at safeway as a back-up for Liz's fussiness, debating whether or not I should have wasted my money, but now I knew the real reason why I purchased it. The man was trying to get help from the woman in the office of the church, and she wasn't helping him very much, so I took over, and drew him a map and talked to him for as long as he was interested.

It just happens to be that I happen to be at the right place at the right time when it comes to women who are experiencing issues with pregnancy, too, beyond what I think would be normal.

Can that be coincidence? Well, I knew that pregnant-women were a population God has used me for, but I am only now starting to get the idea that the homeless are another group God is preparing me and pointing me to. There have been a couple of other times when similar things have happened recently. I noticed this morning especially how there were more homeless-looking types, across the street from the church, some even digging through the garbage cans. Hmm. Well, the reason why I am here in the middle of Salem instead of close to home is because my church's preschool was full, and I had to find another. Now I know why God allowed me to find this preschool. After all, all I've heard from everyone is "Why go all the way over there?" and I didn't have an answer for them, kinda felt like I was impulsive in my selection.

It just struck me, too, that those were the needs I had, when I was growing up. I lived out of my car, went to the churches, looking for help with a place to stay.

God has made me useful, and I get jealous when I hear the stories of what my mom has been able to do. I wanted to be a nurse, so bad. I still do. I want to have the so incredibly useful knowledge of how to care for physical concerns. But God has closed that door, by the principles the bible have taught me are His will for my life.

But seeing how God has made me useful for other kinds of needs, I am at peace with His choices for my life.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Do you love me, Lord?

I have been wanting God to just let me go, for a month or so now. Hands off, is the jist.

One day kinda turns into the next, I have no distinguishing hope in the midst of crises, I have little interest in calling out when I'm hurt. I'm just accepting the good with the bad. I get tired, you know, of being so up.

It is exhilirating, to have a life filled with moments of God-given meaning. I love it, but it's almost too stimulating to handle, sometimes.

Kinda what it's like to achieve greatness all day long by rising up at the alarm clock and being on time to work and listening to everything everyone says and doing well at your tasks. By the end of the day, you get home, and all you want to do is sit down and turn on a movie.

So that's where I've been. I've been dreaming and entertaining myself with whatever meager (worldy) things are appealing in the moment. But they'll run out. And then when my entertainment runs dry it will change to nervousness. And then pacing. Of course, I am talking about my spiritual realm:

"In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destryed the Ammonites and beseiged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace." 2 sam 11:1-2

So I'll re-write that in terms of my personal state of affairs:

"In what Sanc likes to call "My Time," when everyone else is excited about doing the will of God, Sanc watches others go out and do the work she knows she herself once did. The Christians around her wage war on dark spiritual strongholds, and mightily win souls for His name. Sanc, however, is content to find her own activities. In the twighlight of "My Time," when Sanc is willing and open to being led by a forlorn whisper, she wanders around, waiting for peril to strike in her heart."

He satisfies, but I don't choose satisfaction because that means "relationship" and I don't want to face Him. He gives meaning, but I don't want to live-out meaning. He gives zeal, but I just want to sort things out in a low-key kinda way.

Did David somehow alter the course of his eternal destiny through sinning against the Lord? No. The Lord still loved Him, didn't revoke His promise to make him the King. God is faithful. David was not. "Against you, and you alone, O Lord, have I sinned." David, I imagine, got tired of the awesome but stressful things he had seen fighting the battles God told him to fight. He said he wanted a day off. I don't blame him. But here we are, wandering around, idle, just ripe for trouble to come knocking.

The cure for idleness is love. "We love because He first loved us." 1 john 4:19

My love-bank is running low on funds. But why, I've been asking myself, would I need -His- love? Why would I turn to Him for help, when I have so many other choices to call upon, including my own inner strength to survive?

Think about the teenager (who never wants to be told what to do), trusted to stick to the rules of conduct when going to someone else's house, but another kid introduces a new experience and before you know it, damage has been done. Does that teenager really want to call their dad, first?? No. They call mom, they try and clean it up themselves, they ask their friends, anyone, except dad. But for the biggest messes in life, only the Father knows how to make things right.

It's a humbling pick, one I'm not all that excited about, because as soon as I ask for help, He's going to ask me to rearrange a few of my choices, a few of my priorities, and that's not stellar, in my current sight. So the cycle of avoidance continues. I'm plainly, on the outside. I can feel the cold cement barrier. I'm not sure if I am cold enough to want to come in yet. I'm doing it to myself. God is patient enough to let me inflict this.

So yes, I am headed for a major 'down.' Either that, or else I break free now and stop short of the trouble coming.

Here is what I said above: "He gives zeal, but I just want to sort things out in a low-key kinda way." There is no such thing as a "low-key kinda way." Low-key = Disintegration key. I will never abide in peace of mind or any other good thing playing the doubting one, sitting on the fence of life. All I will reap is more and more falling apart, of all I hold dear.

"You are either for me or against me." -Jesus

And if I know that there is no such thing as a middle-road, only the opposing paths of peace and destruction, maybe tomorrow morning I will finally get back on track and choose the path of peace. Maybe being semi-chilled instead of frozen, is enough to kill my abayence this time.

When I come back to Him the first thing I will ask is, "Do you still love me, Lord?"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Burning countless minutes talking and playing with my girls CHECK

Running errands --twice-- in one day CHECK

Kleenex boxes on the "endtables" CHECK

The descending smell of freshly bissell-ed carpets CHECK

Freedom from watching a houseful of kids: PRICELESS

Monday, September 05, 2005

Protecting my Time

I've been asked to help out with the Wednesday night children's club, AWANA, this year. Been considering it. I realize that it is not right for my family by my own eyes, either in the participation of my child, nor my help in conducting it.

Does my child need another activity? Even a great one? One, even, where she hears the gospel and may receive it into her heart? What is not right about that kind of a program?

My daughter is going to be starting preschool this year; three days a week for half the day, since she is four. And then there's 3 hours of church on Sunday. And AWANA is on Wednesday nights. And the church wants me to do childcare Wednesday mornings, and I wanted to do a women's bible study Tuesday mornings. This is the schedule that has been placed in front of me to pick out of for this future school-year!

But I already know where I've been. I have been so busy that I can't even give love and attention to the children I watch as my heart would dictate, because there simply is too many of them. And then, what about my own children?? There have been weeks, this summer, when I have had only -one-, 5-minute face to face conversation with my daughter in a whole week's time. So who, I realized, was raising my daughter, so to speak? Her playmates! They have much more imput than I. And Grace and I are growing apart.

My compassion can only take me so far for goodness's sake. Every time I say yes to a child that is not mine, I am saying no to my own. I must tend and honor the fields I have already purchased; no one else can do that, but me.

This bouncing from activity to activity -may- be appropriate for a sixteen year old (we'll see), with their busy schedules and involved activities and interests, but it is not appropriate for a 4-year old.

If my child has been provided a familiar, tested and tried love from me, then they will be successful in everything they put their hands on in life. What they need most, especially for this stage in life, is a deep and secure relationship. No other time has been given to she and I to achieve that kind of depth. As we get older they will only grow farther away; not closer. Now is not the time to surrender lightly.

You can see this most, even if you have never been a parent, whenever you have spent time around a child. The child learns your rules, your values, your opinions. You learn the child's strengths and weaknesses. And then the stage is set for building or breaking bonds. The child naturally is timid to know where the boundary lines are, afraid for the kind of consequence that comes with crossing or nearing those boundary lines. They are afraid to be who they are, for what that will mean. A caretaker can procure obedience from almost any child; but that does not equal a success story. A success story from a child's point of view is to know that whatever is in their hearts or minds cannot change whether or not they are loveable. Success is for them to know that they are still loved even when suffering a caretaker-given hardship. Success is to know that a caretaker intiates and leads them to better ways of expressing themselves in the world.

There is a time to give away. There are moments when it is obviously right to help others, because of compassion, to attend to other children who have a need. I started with that premise four years ago when I originally began watching children for free, and I gave away as much as I could be confused to think might be possibly right to surrender. From this experience, now, I can say with surity, it generally was not ideal, for anyone. Each parent must carry the yoke of raising the children that they have bore, myself included. The rule-giver must also be the love-giver. Just like we have only one Lord, who is everything to us; present to guide, loving and commanding, we must also have only one mother and father, with the authority and consistency that does not contradict the method and values that could come from another home.

I am a far-ways off from being well-tried and tested as the source of love and rule in my daughter's life, right now. Not because she doesn't obey me most of the time. No; because she does.... It's because I do not know and therefore have her heart, like I know I ought. And it breaks mine to think it.

Turning and reflecting on my relationship with my God....

Some people may think it shocking and scandalous that I am not yet made obedient to some of the will of God, even those kinds of commandments which are so popularly known in scripture. But is it so shocking, really, considering how much distance there is between who I am and who the Lord is?

First of all, there is sin. God separates Himself from me, until I confess it. But then there remains one more wall, the wall that I have in the ways of our natures, keeping me from being near Him. This wall consists of three issues:

A) I have not known Him:

"and the way of peace they do not know." rom 3:17
"None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 1 cor 2:8

B} I have not understood His ways:

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,' declares the Lord....

C) I have not understood His thoughts:

'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Is 55:8-9

But: the more that I understand and learn these things (now that I have been adopted as His child), the easier it is to listen and follow His voice. I can see that His intention was accepting, and it's okay for me to come close. When I know that the Rule-Giver is for me and not against me, I know that I can conquer any task that I am given. It equates to a life of success.

What if this is what it is like for our children, our neighbor kids, our friends and relatives? They fear us, simply because they do not understand our ways, or know our heart? They cry on their pillows, not because they were told 'no,' but because they don't know what to do with themselves? So the heart is the most important thing we caretakers can display for their sake. It is the only thing which makes the bond great and the trust deep, to listen, and obey, and take on the world in confidence. And that means giving our time and attention for these things to take place.

The outplay of such an establishment in love with my child would include being made receptive to a gospel message, as AWANA is trying to provide. So; that means, first things first.

God has let me teach myself the hard way to finally choose to say no to others I have compassion to help. It's hard for me to say no. I was told long ago that it was right to say no, but I never really believed it, till I saw the consequences in all those little lives. Now, would it seem anything less than foolish for me to surrender that time to a new agenda, when I already had to sacrifice so much?

I am learning to become jealous of the influence others have, as God is rightfully so for me in my life. I do not want to lose my child so quickly, God-willing, to the common disease of teenager-hood; the belief that a parent doesn't really have their best interests ar heart. I am fighting that lie today even though I am ten years out from experiencing it:

"My purpose is that they be encouraged in heart and united in love, so they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments." Col 2:2-4

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