Sunday, March 17, 2013

Backpack or RV Traveling

How do I pack for a trip?  It depends on the goal of the trip.  If it is to relax I make sure I have my comfy sweat pants, a few good books and some munchies.  If it is a business trip I make sure that I have the appropriate clothing, items needed for work, etc. 

Yes, I tend to over pack for most trips.  I bring 1 too many pairs of pants or an extra pair of shoes.  Maybe even an extra outfit or two because I am not sure about the ability to launder my clothing but I have never packed my whole closet, sets of bed linens, kitchen utensils, a chair and television.  That would be ridiculous.  Why would I need all of that stuff for a trip?  It would just weigh me down, slow me down and keep my focus off of the goal of my trip.

“My home is in Heaven. I'm just traveling through this world.” Billy Graham

I just couldn’t shake this quote as I thought about the analogy of traveling through this world.  If that is the case then really anything that is not of actual use right now is extra/unnecessary. 
Now I am not going to say that I am living in a one room house and I only own 1 outfit that I launder every night to wear the next day.  I am thankful that I do not feel like God has called me to that and I pray that if He did that I would be willing to do it.  I don’t believe that God is nearly as concerned about what we own as He is about what owns us. 

More than anything, I just keep thinking about living this life like it is temporary, because it is.  There isn’t any part of this life that will go with me to the next except the actions and decisions I made in reference to the gifts, talents and finances that God gave me. 

I am looking around my home and my life and trying to discern what treasures I have “put up”.  We used to live in a relatively small but wonderful house in a neighborhood.  Then we moved to a farm in NC and the house was much bigger.  Do you know that in no time I had filled that entire house?  Then we moved again and the house we are in now is probably the nicest that we have lived in.  Let me tell you, it is slam packed with stuff.  It makes me sick because so little of it is being used.

So, for month 3 of Seven (click here to learn more about this book) I am giving away items.  Jen gave away 210 items (that is 7 a day for a month).  I keep thinking there is no way I will have that much but I bet I will be surprised.  I have already packed up over 50 items just from my closet.  I haven’t even cracked the door on the guest room, aka, the “hoarders in training” center. 

I will update on what the rest of the month looks like as I get farther into it.  All I know is that, once again, God is giving me a clear command to simplify and stop wasting what He has for me and others. 

I am only a little sorry that this is, once again, another post on stuff but as Si on Duck Dynasty would say “this is where He has me, Jack!”.  Maybe if when I finally get this all right I will get to post about other topics. 

So, are you drowning in stuff too?  Want to join me in the challenge to give away 210 things?  If so, post in the comments below “I’m In!”.  Thanks for being on this journey with me.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Teaching the Reverence of God to Our Children... and Ourselves

The Bug came up to me the other day and she was awkwardly holding a cow (that she named Lamb) in her arms and told me that she was holding her “Lamb” like Jesus does.  I thought it was very cute and we talked more about Jesus carrying the Lamb.  She asked what Jesus’ lamb was named and I told her “Bug”.  Sure, it was an appropriate conversation to have with a 3 year old but it got me thinking about how, as she grows, I want to instill in her the idea of who God and Jesus really are.  I was thinking about the images I have of Jesus in our home.  Two of them involve a lamb (although I am happy to report He is not blonde in either), one is Him as a baby, one is a dark haired serious face and one is the blonde Jesus magnet that is meaningful to the hubby.   

What I don’t have are any examples of the Holy God that has millions of angels flying around Him screaming “Holy, Holy, Holy” and covering their heads and their feet in His presence.  I don’t have the images of Him with His robe filling the temple in all of His Glory. 

Everything I have that shows God makes Him just like you and me.  So, I asked myself, is that my goal?  Is that the understanding that I want my Bug to have of God?  Yes, I want her to know that Jesus came down from Heaven and walked among us and experienced the life that we live, died and rose from the dead.  Yes, I want her to know that He has adopted us and we are His bride but does that tell the whole story of who He is?  I like that He is approachable but yet it seems like there is a pretty big piece missing.    

Then I turned the questions inward.  I am beginning to realize that the “buddy” God that I have created in my head doesn’t serve me well in my faith either.  I don’t have time to read my Bible today, that’s okay, “buddy” God won’t mind.  I didn’t think to pray today, that’s okay, “buddy” God will talk to me tomorrow.  I didn’t consider what He wanted me to do with my money before blowing my paycheck on things that are not necessary, that’s okay, “buddy” God wants me to be happy, right?

Francis Chan talks about the time that John, the disciple that Jesus loved, sees God/Jesus in Heaven and when he saw Him he fell at His feet as dead (Revelation 1: 17).  So, let me get this straight, John literally lounged on Jesus while He was on the earth and was as close to Him as possible and when He saw Him in His Glory it made Him fall to the ground as dead?

What will it be like for us? 

How do I instill into my precious daughter that Jesus is so much more than a smiling picture who always has a lamb on His shoulders?  How do I reform my view of God and Jesus to an accurate one that shows all of His characteristics not just the ones that give me the warm fuzzies? 

I think the first step is reading His Word for myself.  I have been “grown up” long enough to no longer be spoon fed, but I also need to clear out the things that I had learned in the past and make sure they line up with the Bible.  I do this but I haven’t taken it as seriously as I should have.  I haven’t read and learned as if I am “working out my salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).  My approach to the Holy Scriptures is different now. 

I have so much to learn and the more I learn the more I realize how little I know and understand but I am thankful that God is willing to walk with me step by step, disciplining as necessary and providing love and guidance. 

So, how do you teach your children about God?

Saturday, March 02, 2013

What Not to Wear

Do you remember that show?  I used to love watching it.  I wanted to gain every bit of advice possible so that one day my clothing choices would best reflect my figure and personality.  Then, over time, I became unhappy with what I had in my closet.  I wanted the $5,000 shopping spree, the perfect fit jeans, the really expensive new hair cut.  I realized at that moment what I had to do.  I had to stop watching the show.

That was a little over 2 years ago.

I realized that the show, as fun as it was, was building a root of dissatisfaction in me.  It wasn't obvious to most but I knew it deep down inside.  Then we moved to a small town and clothing became less important.  It was a nice break from feeling the pressure of having to look nice all the time.  I was a stay at home mom and my wardrobe, for the most part, included sweat pants and t-shirts (Clinton and Staci would have had a fit!).  Then we moved again and I was back to suburbia and Target, Kohls, Ross, etc.  Slowly the desire to have the most up to date fashion began creeping back in.  We don't have any extra money for me to be buying new clothes so the dissatisfaction settled right back into place.

Enter Seven by Jen Hatmaker (<--- have I mentioned that you need to read this book?).

Last month focused on a purposeful reduction in food excess.  I could eat as much as I needed to be full but I was only eating 7 items.  Let.Me.Tell.You.  This was a life changer.  The bondage that my food addiction had me in became clear and God did a lot of work in me in those 31 days.

This month, of which I am on day 2 of, is clothing.  I am wearing 7 pieces of clothing (not including undergarments... because that would be gross) for the month.  Here are my 7 and my cat.

1) A pair of jeans, 2) My India shirt from 3) My long sleeved black shirt 4) A pair of decent shoes and a pair of running shoes (these count as 1 item - 'cuz Jen said they could) 5) A pair of sweat pants 6) A 3/4 length sweater 7) A set of workout clothes that will also probably double as my PJ's

Anyway, as I have been praying and reading through 7 (in the clothing and possessions chapters) I am, once again, overwhelmed by God.  I could feel my heart being gripped by all that I was learning but I was having a hard time putting it all together.  Like usual, God used my sweet Bug as an object lesson so that I would clearly understand what He was trying to tell me.

A few days ago I was in the shower trying to hurry and get ready for the day.  The Bug was dressing herself and was on the last step of putting on socks.  She had one sock but couldn't find the other one.  I yelled through the door that it was in the clothes basket in front of her.  She began digging everything out of the basket.  She made a giant pile of clothing in front of her as she searched for the sock.  She finally got down to where the sock was towards the bottom of the basket but she had put such a large pile of clothing in front of her that she couldn't reach over the clothes and into the basket to get it.  As I was watching the whole thing take place I heard that still, small Voice say "That is you.  You have so much.  So much that it is getting in the way of you reaching to the one thing you need.  Me."  I started balling.  It is a good thing I was in the shower so the Bug didn't wonder what was wrong with her crazy Momma.  At the same time she ran up to the door and said "I can't get the sock!".  I explained to her that she needed to remove all the things in the way in order to reach the sock.  Saying those words out loud felt strangely freeing and right.  As she moved the pile and reached into the basket she held up the sock and smiled with pleasure.

That is how I want to be with Jesus.

I don't want the unnecessary things in life to crowd out the only thing I need.  I don't want to be so busy with all the good extras that I haven't made time for my priority.  I don't want to let a root of dissatisfaction take hold in me when I have more than enough and should live a life being thankful for it all.

So what do I do?  What is in the pile in front of me that is blocking my reach?  Well, I have been taking stock of the activities I give myself to, the things that use my finances and time, and I am going to have to make some tough decisions.  I really like being a part of these things (obviously or I wouldn't be doing them).  I really like interacting with the people I interact with.  But just like the rich young ruler I am to sell everything for Christ. (Side note: I don't think Jesus would have mentioned it if He didn't want us to do it.  I can't live life like that story is for someone else but not for me.)  I don't want to be so busy that I don't sit at the feet of Jesus.  I also don't want to be so overloaded with stuff that I spend all my time on it instead of with Jesus.  I don't want so much stuff that I can go through the entire day and not even have to think about Him.  

As I work through the inconvenience of only wearing 7 items this month I am praying that God will really work on my materialism and show me what He wants me to get rid of both in time-consumers as well as stuff -abundance.  It is all His anyway.  On April 1st Month 3 will begin and it's focus is Possessions.  In April I will be giving away 7 items every day.  It is hard for me to believe that I have that much stuff to give away but I bet I will be shocked when I get to the end of the month.

I am looking forward to the hard task of once again simplifying a couple of areas in my life and getting my focus centered on Jesus.  I will try to update along the journey of this month.