Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Will Never Be Done Having Babies

We're all guilty of it.  The dreaded inappropriate question or comment about family.  Whether it be about the growth of someone's family, pregnancy, the advice about a newborn, we've all said something we can't take back.  "Are you finished having babies now?"  "You are sooo pregnant!"  "You think this is tough, just wait until you get to the point when..."  A dear friend of mine taught her sons about the words they use by this example.  She and her husband bought a brand new tube of toothpaste.  They gathered their four boys, sat them down and let them take their turns squeezing the full tube onto their table.  They LOVED it.  Fun, right?  Then, after the whole tube was empty mom said "Okay boys, I"ll get a spoon.  You put the paste back in the tube."  Well, it just can't be done.  What an awesome illustration of words.  Once their out there, you can't take them back.  You can't put the toothpaste back into the tube once it's out, try as you may.

Being a mom of four, people ask me all of the time if I'm done having babies.  It's amazing what random people will say to you in the grocery store.  It usually happens when my baby fills his diaper with toxicity.  I'm pushing the impossible car shaped cart, that fits about seven items in it, and always has a wonky wheel.  I'm pulling another cart full of the rest of my items.  My ' super-power-ninja-turtle-ranger-man' four year old son is jumping from shelf to shelf down the cereal aisle demanding 'fruity choco puffy bites with marshmallows'.  You know the scene.  Mom's probably already threatened him for fighting with his sister who's sticking her tongue out at him the whole time.  We put on the mom voice, "Sweetie, please stop or you'll have a consequence".  WHY do the kids not understand that this voice is a little bit psychotic, as it is not a voice we ever use another time?  If we're at home and they act like that we will raise our voice or put them in time out.  When I see another mom use this voice, I look at the kid and think, "oh man.  You better shut it quick.  She's about to loose it!"  But, they don't.  The four year old doesn't stop until he lands on his nose on a display of Nesquick.  The baby is not going to change himself.  If big sister rolls her eyes any farther back in her head, she may loose one.  Mom is embarrassed.

"Are you going to have any more?"  asks the lady carefully choosing her granola bars for her tiny grocery basket.
"Well, I don't know I'm thinking of starting a circus.  What do you think?  I'd love to have your input!"  I think.

But I've been guilty of putting my foot in my mouth from time to time myself.  Having four children gives me mad street cred.  I have been through a lot of trials, and many more still to come.  I have a lot of advice, and have trouble not giving it.  When a new mother is exhausted and confused, I want to pour out my information on her and say "listen to me, I've done it.".  But, that's not any different.  New moms do not want to think about how you are doing it well, what you did to figure it out, or how it could be worse.  They want to be in the moment, enjoy their baby and survive the night.  They want to get rest.  They want you to bring them a hot meal, or hold their baby while they take a shower.  New moms don't get to take showers, did you know that?  So, I'm trying very hard to be conscious of my words.  I can't take them back.  So, I'm trying not to start sentences with "Just wait til..." or "It'll be better when..." or "What I always did was...".  NO one wants to hear that mess.  It's so much more of a blessing to just listen and stop talking.  I'm trying.

So when I ask "are you going to have any more babies" I"m always thinking, "you should".  Which is really none of my business except for in my own home.  When I have found myself asking that question, I always mean it as a compliment.  When someone asks me I always hear it as an insult.  Isn't that the way our minds mess with us?

I love my children, the monkeys that they are.  They are individual and unique, even if sometimes that means being weird and down right odd.  They are funny and smart.  The funny and smart part they use to their advantage all too often and nearly cross the line of being sarcastic and sassy.  We're grading on a curve here folks.  I want to be graded on a curve, it's the least I can do in handling my little three ringers.

So, when will I be done procreating?  I won't.  Ever.  I will never be satisfied and have enough babies.  I love being a mom.  I love being pregnant.  I know how strange that is.  I love delivery.  I love the period of time right after you have a baby, when everyone you know will do anything you ask them to do.  I love cooking for them, picking out their little clothes, teaching them how to be independent.  I do love my sleep.  I love the idea of my body having a shape again.  (Interestingly enough, losing the baby weight often leads to my husband noticing, then we start all over.)  I guess the point is, I'm really grateful for the wonderful family I have.  I know how awesome it is that I have four children.  It's amazing that God's given me this blessing FOUR TIMES.  I don't think I'll ever say, "I don't want any more babies."  But, I am fairly certain that there are no more openings in this traveling, three ring circus I am leadig.  So, while I will never fully feel done.  At some point you have to quit.  And I will be doing well to remember how complicated that answer is before I ask it of someone else.  It's like toothpaste, messy.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

How To Be The Perfect Christian

How To Be The Perfect Christian.

Well, haven't we just got it all figured out!  If we greet the visitors, smile at the cashier, label people correctly, and categorize our friendships, are we behaving perfectly? If we judge family members for their lifestyle choices, claim what Jesus would do, elevate our own standards, and then beat ourselves up when we make mistakes, are we good?  We talk about scripture.  We praise Him with our hands raised just right.  We pray for the ambulance that drives by.  We overeat.  We go to church.  We are lazy.  We praise God.  We gossip and compete.  We compartmentalize our Christianity so that it is socially convenient, or worse, we just avoid being social because of our beliefs.  We roll our eyes.  We curse.  We have addictions.  We fail to love.  We yell at our kids.  We fight with our spouse.
Who me?
No.  Not you.
Me. You.  Him.  Her.  Them.  Us.

We all have our little skeletons. Odds are if you are real honest with yourself, the Holy Spirit will convict you through something you've read, or that thing that's unmentioned that you're already aware of about yourself.  Truth be told, Jesus is the standard.  We will never be truly close to Him until we realize how far we are from being Him.  But the beauty is that we have His grace to get through the other junk. He knows what we do when we're all by ourselves.  He knows our judgments.  He knows our gossip, our hate, our gluttony and our lies.  He knows every word we speak, thought we think, and every action we take.  So, why are we lying?

Do we really care THAT much about the opinions of our peers?  Are we even close enough to any peers to hold us accountable for what we're doing, saying, thinking, pretending? How many good friends do you have?  How many of them will tell you when you're acting like a jerk?  How many of those friends would you drop everything for?  How many times a day, a week, a month, do you do something selfless.  THAT is what being a Christian is about.  We don't do it (whatever "it" is) for the glory of the church, or our work, or our friends, or our family.  We're to do it because God calls us to do it.  We're to build up the people around us and do it with a happy heart, because it's what God wants us to do.  What "they" think is none of our business.  It only matters what He thinks.  So, if we find ourselves in a situation that calls for us to act, even if it's not received, or it's just plain ignored... God saw it.  If an apology falls on deaf ears, God heard it.  If a gentle word, or an act of service goes unnoticed, I would argue that it's better than if everyone knew you'd done it.  It only matters if you're pleasing God.

To be perfect, really, really perfect... you have to embrace that you're just not.  You're not perfect.  I'm not perfect.  We are so broken and wrong.  All day long every day, I make a myriad of little mistakes (on a good day).  On a bad day, I make a ton of big mistakes.  We all do.  The sooner that we recognize that and embrace it, the sooner we can ask God to forgive it.  We can listen to his prompts to ask others to forgive us.  We can forgive others.  Forgive others.  That's a hard one.  If we want to be perfectly imperfect, the key is forgiveness.  Isn't it?  Forgive each other.  More often than not, you have to do this over and over again.  Sometimes we forgive the same act seven hundred and seventy times.  We just do.  Because it is the only way to make it better.  We do it because it's what God does for us.

The challenge for me today is to be less perfect, and more perfectly imperfect.  We are called to be LIKE Jesus, not to be Jesus.  He is perfect.  We are so far from it.  We can't convict people around us.  We can't make them serve or attend or grow. We can show them what it looks like, and do it with a joyful spirit.  We can be the beacons of His light by serving, attending and growing.  He wants me to try really hard to be as close as I can be to Jesus.  The Holy Spirit will convict me of things, and if I listen, I'll correct them.  If He asks me to do something, I'll try and do it.  If someone hurts me, I will try and forgive them.  If I am hurtful, I will ask for forgiveness.  I will have people in my life who will hold me to a standard of goodness.  My peers are not my responsibility or "project", but they are watching the way I act and react.  If I do it in a way that glorifies God, then I can do nothing more.

The only unwaivering things of which I am certain are these:  We must read His word.  We must find answers in the only book that has them all.  We must learn about His life on Earth.  We cannot grow unless we do that.; Stretch.  Get uncomfortable for Christ.  Do what you would not normally do.  Get outside your box.  Listen to His prompts and act accordingly.  The key to growing is stretching.;  Serve His people.  We have to be willing to give selflessly of our time, assets and energy.  We have to go above and beyond the tithe on Sunday, which is crucial.  Making time for someone who needs a shoulder, feeding people who are hungry or tired, and keeping the world clean with our love and devotion, these are just a few ways to serve God.  Giving is the best way I've found to feel God.  Bless the people around you, and you will be blessed.;  We also must pray.  Pray in The Spirit.  Pray on our knees.  Pray on our faces, flat, laid out on the ground before the alter of our Lord.  Ask Him to direct us.  And then we listen for Him to speak to our hearts.

If we do all of this, will we have it together?  Will we enjoy our coffee more before service on Sunday?  That's not likely.  We'll still be late.  We'll still want everyone to see our new shoes.  We'll still miss the mark with the new guy on the back row.  We'll still think a smug thought about someone's decision in skirt length or lipstick.  BUT, we'll be forgiven.  And maybe, just maybe we'll be more forgiving.

Thank God He's perfect so that we don't have to be.