Thursday, April 22, 2010

Before I Was a Mom

(author unknown)

Before I was a Mom,
I made and ate hot meals.
I had unstained clothing.
I had quiet conversations on the phone.

Before I was a Mom,
I slept as late as I wanted.
I never worried about how late I got into bed.
I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.

Before I was a Mom,
I cleaned my house each day.
I never tripped over toys.
I never forgot words to lullabies.

Before I was a Mom,
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never been . . .
puked on
pooped on
spit on
chewed on
peed on
or pinched by tiny fingers.

Before I was a Mom,
I had complete control of my mind, thoughts and body.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom,
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between a Mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important.
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never known . . .
the warmth
the joy
the love
the heartache
the wonderment
or the satisfaction of being a Mom.

I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much . . . before I was a Mom.

"She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed." (Proverbs 31:27-28a).

May God's richest blessings be with each of you mothers.

Both Born and Adopted

The following was reported by WESTERN MORNING NEWS in 1994:

Ian Lewis, 43, of Standish, Lancashire, England, was interested in finding out about his family. He spent 30 years tracing his family tree back to the seventeenth century. He traveled all over Britain, talked to 2,000 relatives and planned to write a book about how his great-grandfather left to seek his fortune in Russia and how his grandfather was expelled after the Revolution. Then he found out he had been adopted when he was a month old and his real name was David Thornton. He resolved to start his family research all over again.

How frustrating! However, it reminds me that, for a Christian, it makes no difference whether we trace our spiritual lineage by way of birth or adoption because both images are used to express our relationship to God our Father.

"Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.' " (John 3:5)

"...having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will..." (Ephesians 1:5)

God is our Father by (re)birth and by adoption (we are chosen!). What a privilege to be a part of His family!

Blessing or Bad Luck?

The story is told of a man who was walking across the road when he was hit by a car. The impact knocked him on his head which caused him to be in a coma for two days before he finally regained consciousness. When he opened his eyes, his loving wife was there beside his bed. He held her hand and said to her:

"You know, Judy, you've always been right by my side. When I was a struggling college student, I failed again and again. But you were always there with me, encouraging me to go on trying."

She squeezed his hands as he continued: "And when I got out of school and went for all of my interviews and failed to get any of the jobs, you stayed right there with me, cutting out more classifieds for me to check on..."

"Then I started work at this little firm and finally got the chance to handle a big contract. But I blew it because of one little mistake, and yet you were there beside me all the way. Then I finally got another job after being laid off for sometime. But I never seemed to be promoted and my hard work was never recognized. And so, I remained in the same position from the day I joined the company until now... And, through it all, you were right there by my side."

Her eyes brimmed with tears as she listened to her husband: "And now I've been in this accident and when I woke up, you're the first person I see. There's something I'd really like to say to you...."

She flung herself on the bed to hug her husband, sobbing with emotion.

He said, "Judy, I think you're just plain bad luck!"

Our attitude makes a big difference in how we see things, doesn't it? As the saying goes, we can either see the glass as half full or half empty. We can either appreciate the good during our times of adversity (the faithfulness of God, greater opportunities to develop our faith, the blessing of good friends to see us through it) or we can moan and complain about our "bad luck."

The apostle Paul is a great example of someone with a marvelous attitude. Through all of his trials, God had been right there by his side. But never once did he blame God for his misfortune. Instead, listen to the positive attitude in Paul's words as he sat imprisoned for preaching the gospel:

"But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel." (Philippians 1:12)

No moaning, no complaining. Just a marvelous attitude that brought joy to his life. May it serve as an example to you today.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Because I'm a Christian

Because I'm a guy, I must hold the television remote control in my hand while I watch TV. If the thing has been misplaced, I'll miss a whole show looking for it, though one time I was able to survive by holding a calculator.

Because I'm a guy, when I lock my keys in the car I will fiddle with a wire clothes hanger and ignore your suggestions that we call a road service until long after hypothermia has set in. Oh, and when the car isn't running very well, I will pop the hood and stare at the engine as if I know what I'm looking at. If another guy shows up, one of us will say to the other, "I used to be able to fix these things, but now with all these computers and everything, I wouldn't know where to start."

Because I'm a guy, when I catch a cold I need someone to bring me soup and take care of me while I lie in bed and moan. You never get as sick as I do, so for you this isn't an issue.

Because I'm a guy, I can be relied upon to purchase basic groceries at the store, like milk, or bread. I cannot be expected to find exotic items like "Cumin" or "Tofu." For all I know these are the same thing.

Because I'm a guy, when one of our appliances stops working I will insist on taking it apart, despite evidence that this will just cost me twice as much once the repair person gets here and has to put it back together.

Because I'm a guy, I don't think we're all that lost, and no, I don't think we should stop and ask someone. Why would you listen to a complete stranger -- how in the world could HE know where we're going?

Because I'm a guy, whatever you got your mother for Mother's Day is ok, I don't need to see it. Did you remember to pick up something for my mom, too?

Because I'm a guy, you don't have to ask me if I liked the movie. Chances are, if you're crying at the end of it, I didn't.

Because I'm a guy, I think what you're wearing is fine. I thought what you were wearing five minutes ago was fine, too. Either pair of shoes is fine. With the belt or without it looks fine. Your hair is fine. You look fine. Can we just go now?

Because I'm a guy and this is, after all, the 21st century, I will share equally in the housework. You do the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, and the dishes. I'll do the rest.

It does seem that a lot of behavior on the part of men can be explained with the simple phrase "it's because I'm a guy -- that says it all".

Likewise, a lot of the behavior we as Christians exhibit in the workplace, at home, or at school, should be explainable by the phrase, "it's because I'm a child of God". That says it all -- that's why I do what I do and say what I say.

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10)

When people wonder about our actions, they should be able to look at our lives and say, "Oh yes, he acts that way because he's a Christian." Whether they appreciate it or not, may they see that Christ truly does make a difference in the way we live.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is Your House a Mess?

I recently heard the following story:

“My daughter Michelle is the commander of a Coast Guard Cutter. When she gave my husband Bob a tour of her ship, he was impressed by the neatness of all decks.

“However, when Bob went to Michelle's house with her, he couldn't believe the disorganization. ‘Why is everything in its place on your ship,’ he asked, ‘but your house is such a mess?’

“‘My house,’ Michelle said, ‘does not take 30-degree rolls.’”

I found the story quite humorous, but it made me wonder. How often do others notice that things are just fine in our workplace, but not at home? Things may be “in its place” at work (and elsewhere), but at home things are “a mess.” One of the saddest passages in the Bible is found in I Samuel 8:1-3:

“Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel…But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.”

Here was Samuel – a great prophet, one of the greatest men in the Bible, arguably one of the godliest men in all of history, but his sons didn’t follow after his example. Some commentators have speculated that it was at least partly due to the fact that Samuel traveled around Israel fulfilling his responsibilities as a prophet (I Sam. 7:15-16), neglecting his family in the process.

It’s a problem that everyone who works struggles with, but especially preachers because we often view our work as being done “for God” so we feel justified in pouring more of our time and effort into our work. But there is always the danger -- the temptation – that we may be neglecting things at home.

Early in my ministry, my wife used to complain, “You always have time for anybody else who comes to you with a problem, but you can’t find time for me.” There were times she was right. I felt compelled to make sure that everything was in order at “work”, but I sometimes allowed things at home to be a “mess.” I’m sure there were many times my children felt the same way. I would like to think that I’ve learned from my mistakes and have a better balance now.

My message today comes with an encouragement for all of you who work to make an assessment of your own. Are you more interested in keeping things in order at work than you are at home? May God help each of us as we strive to fulfill our God-given responsibilities to our spouses and children.