Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Purchased Prostitute


(written in 2006)

a poem based on the beautiful story of Hosea

Hopeless, desperate, searching for lovers,
You wandered in the street
Selling yourself for food and cover
You battled daily defeat.

Blameless, spotless, clean, and forgiven
Before Me now you stand
Purchasing you, My blood I've given.
My love, take hold of My hand!

Leaving Me, the world- you then sought her,
You gave into her lure,
Sucking on broken pots for water,
My fountain, you did ignore.

Broken, empty, turning to lovers,
A speck of wealth to gain.
Have you forgotten? I, no other,
Can pour on you wealth like rain!

Blameless, spotless, clean, and forgiven,
Before Me, now you stand.
Purchasing you, My blood I've given.
My love, take hold of My hand!

"Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; My love will know no bounds, for My anger will be gone forever. I will make you My wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you Mine, and you will finally know Me as The Lord." (Hosea 14:4; 2:19-20)








Monday, January 27, 2014

Supermom

Holidays were always special in our house. The four of us kids always looked forward to watching movie after movie and filling our bellies with pizza bites, animal-shaped chicken nuggets, cream cheese poppers, and all the other frozen foods we never ever got to eat,waiting up until midnight when we'd open our front door and bang pots and pans to ring in the new year. Then, once February 1 st arrived, our special family Valentine Box would appear in our living room. Never before had one box been so covered in hearts and glitter and stickers and all thing pink and red as that box was. But the best part of the box was the small slit right across the top, for it made anything that went into that box secret until it was opened fourteen days later. We had so much fun decorating Valentines for each other and secretly slipping them into that little box, and it was always such fun to open it and see the Valentine's we'd received too. Mom and Daddy always wrote us each a special Valentine letter, and gave each of us girls a rose of our very own. The four of us would happily snicker and giggle as Mom and Daddy exchanged Valentine cards and told us we couldn't read what was inside because it was lovey- dovey. Sometimes for dinner, we would enjoy a valentine themed "Mystery Meal"; other times we experimented with fondue (Let's just say the chocolate was a lot more popular than the beer cheese mixture). Either way,  it was always spent as a family. Dinner, though, wasn't the only way we celebrated the day. No, Mom always made sure we were wearing red or pink in our outfit that day, and she always greeted us with some love-themed breakfast- pink heart-shaped pancakes were a favorite. Soon, Spring would come, and if we thought Valentine's day was festive, we had yet to celebrate Easter. Not once in my life have I ever seen an "Easter tree," but we had one. It faithfully stood in our living room each year, with pastel- colored Easter eggs happily dangling from its light purple branches. Underneath sat five Easter baskets. Each of us kids had our own color so we wouldn't fight over them, and yes, there were five baskets, not four, because the dog had one too. The baskets remained empty until Easter morning when we'd have to search the house to see what treasures Mom and Dad had filled them with the night before. The video camera followed us around as we peaked in cabinets and stoves, lifted couch cushions, and untangled curtains, and made sure that when we found our grand prize that we held it up with a big smile for the camera. After our basket hunts, we would get ready for church. Easter Sunday was always special for us girls because we got to wear our new Easter dresses. When we were little, Mom also curled our hair, brushed it, and topped our little heads with Easter hats. Then she'd line us all up by the Easter tree for a picture. (We still laugh at how frizzy our hair was). After church, we'd usually have a huge Easter egg hunt with our cousins and friends. Mom gave us each a color, so all of us got the same amount of eggs and candy. We'd end the day eating a yummy ham dinner and enjoying the Easter eggs we had dyed a few days before. Before bed, we would read the Easter story and open the final Resurrection egg we had been anticipating all week. A few months later, when the Fourth of July came around, we'd pull out our flag t- shirts Mom had made for us (one year she even painted my whole face as a flag). We would enjoy a day at the pool or on our boat and find the perfect spot to watch the fireworks that night. The next big holiday was Thanksgiving, which of course was celebrated with a big homemade feast. But one year, Mom dressed us as pilgrims and Indians and wrote a script for us to act out for all the adult relatives and friends. And then the long-awaited day after Thanksgiving... The Christmas CDs finally came out of storage along with our tree and all the other decorations we loved. our family would sit around our living room, drinking hot chocolate and "fluffing" the tree branches. When it got closer to Christmas, we would choose a night to dress in our pj's and drive around to look at Christmas lights. Mom would also let us help her as she baked dozens upon dozens of pecan pies, cornflake wreaths, lady fingers, chocolate covered pretzels, haystacks, candy cane cookies, thumbprint cookies, and a bunch of other yummy treats which we'd deliver to our neighbors and friends on Christmas Eve. And every night in December, we'd read a part of the Christmas story and decorate our Jesse tree, talking as a family about Jesus coming to earth to save us. On Christmas morning, we would wake up to piles of presents wrapped with love, but we always knew Jesus was the best Gift ever given.

These are some of my favorite childhood memories. My mom always did so much to make holidays special and memorable for us. But what I realize now was not so much all she did for Valentine's day and Christmas, but how she served and cared for us each and every day- Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday- every normal, sometimes mundane, day of our lives. She probably cooked thousands of meals, washed hundreds of tiny socks, scrubbed the bathroom countless times, and all when we didn't even realize it or even see a reason to thank her. When we were little, Mommy to us  was the one we ran to when we got hurt and needed a hug, the one into whose ear we whispered a tattle on our siblings, the one we needed to smell or taste weird random things we found on the floor, the one who we asked if we wanted to have a friend sleepover or hoped we might be allowed to have a fifth cookie.

Now, though, as a mommy myself- and a very new mommy at that, with lots of dirty dishes to wash and lots of weird substances to smell and lots of sleepless nights still ahead- I am just beginning to see all that my mom sacrificed and gave of herself, for all four of us children, because she loved us. I know my mom wasn't perfect and that she has regrets and that she sinned, because she is human and is a sinner just like I am, but looking back with the new perspective of a fellow mommy,I think my mom was like Supermom.

And I know she hates being in the spotlight, but I've been thinking a lot recently about how thankful I am for all she's done (and still is doing!) for me. And it reminded me of the verse from Proverbs 31 ...

"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears The Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."  (Proverbs 31:29-31)

I love you, Mom.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Mommies need Jesus

Sometimes, I forget things.

Like forgetting to turn off the bathroom sink I had running because the sound of it was the only thing that would soothe our fussy baby. Or forgetting that cup of water I had put in the microwave to make tea, only to find it a few hours later. Or forgetting the name of someone I just met and who just told me their name only a few seconds ago. Thankfully, though, someone invented sticky notes! If my life was lived without those brightly-colored little squares, I'm sure that my husband would be off to work without a lunch, pediatrician appointments would be forgotten, bills wouldn't be paid, and life would be a LOT more difficult, confusing, and chaotic.

And last night was like a great big giant sticky note for something of far more importance and of infinitely more eternal value than missed appointments or forgotten cups of tea. Last night was like a big sticky note reminder that I need Jesus. Desperately. Very desperately. All the time. For everything.

Sometimes I seem to forget that.

The seminary my husband attends has a special program for seminary wives through which they offer classes for the wives one night a week during the semester for a small fee. This semester, I enrolled for my second course, Biblical Parenting, by Danna Stinson, and last night was the first night of class. As Danna talked about the foundations for intentional Biblical parenting, I felt my heart resonate with  her first point- that not one of us can do this panting thing on our own. The only way for us to pour out compassionate and gracious words and actions upon our husbands and children is through Jesus' work in us. Only Jesus can give us the grace and kindness our words should have. Only He can give us the strength and power to serve our families selflessly. We need to realize our desperate need and, once we do, we need to then run to Jesus, falling at His feet and clinging to Him for help. Being faced with our inability to do good shouldn't bring fear or guilt but rather immense joy and freedom as we look to the One Who can do good and Who promises to work in us! (Phil. 2:13, 1:6) Just typing that truth and thinking upon it again brings comfort to my soul! Yet, how easily my weak soul forgets these wonderful truths.

Last night, right after getting home from class and from listening to Danna share from God's Word about my need for Jesus and how I can't do anything without Him, after all of that, I tried to be a mommy on my own. And I failed. Miserably.

Because of some things that needed to get done last night, we were unable to put little Annie to bed until close to midnight. Which actually ended up being close to 3 AM because overtired little babies have a really hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. After the seventh time and and few hours of of bouncing, singing softly, sssshhhhhing, trying to help her take her binky, I was so frustrated and tired and thinking only of myself and how I wanted to crawl under the warm covers and fall asleep that I became impatient and frustrated with our sweet little girl. I set her squirming, screaming, swaddled little body along with her tiny binky on the bed beside my husband, told him I couldn't do it anymore, went into the bathroom, closed the door, and prayed. I realized I REALLY couldn't do it anymore. Not on my own. Not without Jesus. I need Jesus to be Annie's mommy- to bounce her, to cuddle her, to change her diapers, to give her goodnight kisses, to pray for her salvation, to not worry about her. I can't be a mommy without Him. And last night was a fresh reminder of this.

And not only does He promise to help me and to grow me to be more like Him, not only that, but He has given me the best husband in the world to embark on this parenting adventure with. (He took over the bouncing and ssshhhing until little Annie finally fell soundly asleep.) It's so encouraging to know he's with me, and we're a team. And not only has God given us each other, but He's given us the most adorable baby girl who greeted me with coos and smiles galore at the start of this new day.