He looked up at me with his big brown eyes, “Mom, will you color with me?” Who can say no to a sick kid with brown eyes? Not this mom. So we spread out the crayons and self-containing paint brushes and smelly makers. (Score! Remember when smelly markers were the coolest thing ever? And only the coolest teachers had them? Well, now WE have them, so if that makes me cool, then so be it.)
After drawing a few hearts and flowers I started this project. Dots. Small dots. Lots of dots. Dots that take forever.
By the 11th red dot, I was over it. As I was entering into my time machine, transporting myself back to the days of rainbow bright and unicorns, these dots reminded me of how much I HATE hate hate process. Before I even started this little piece of art, I envisioned the finished project. But actually doing the work is a whole other cup of tea.
I hate process. There. I confess. But I made myself finish. And the whole time, I felt the pain of Jesus trying to turn that switch on my heart. And it’s not a flip switch. It’s a turn-one (and yes, that’s the official and proper name for it). By the time I picked up the yellow (lemon) marker I was pushing myself to the finish line. Trying to enjoy every dot, every size, every moment of creativity. In order for me to learn to love the journey, I have to take myself on the journey, over and over, I have to walk that road.
So today I forced myself down another road, to teach me to enjoy the process. And I hated almost every minute of it.
I loved the finish product but by the time I sanded the first plank, I had to remind myself of the beauty of the journey. That there are moments of frustration, and moments you have to force yourself through. Even when you don’t feel like it, you have to take one more step. And each “one more step” brings you closer to the end.
I’ve decided that I will regularly push myself to learn how to enjoy the journey. Even if it’s forcing myself to make colored dots on a piece of paper, I will force myself out of my comfortable, and sometimes unproductive bubble. If I want God to teach me something new, I have to do things differently than I’ve done before. Are you willing to do the same ?
You Are Loved,
In case you haven't noticed, it's Monday. With Monday's comes whining by 7 am, and this morning a sick child before 9. Let us not forget the empty fridge because I was too busy to go to the Walmart this weekend. My whiny complaints are actually pretty menial. I really enjoy my life, but what I always tend to do is build everything up, in this tall well-stacked tower, and just hold my breath as I wait for it to topple over.
I do this with my work, too. When I'm ready to start actually “working” (writing, ministry stuff, Biblical Study, Market Research, Blah Blah) I tower that up too, a tall pile of papers waiting to proof read, books to read, newspapers, books, peridocials, blah blah. Sometimes I just sit and stare at the pile, trying to climb the tower to the right floor, or maybe even just hang out at the top waiting for my knight to rescue me.
But in my long life of painstaking experience, I know that I can't sit and wait for anyone in shiny armor to ride up on a horse, because the back of a horse isn't exactly condusive to typing and reading, not for me anyway.
Growing up I had horrible experiences (plural) on horse. The summer after third grade, I was riding a horse at summer camp. The horse was tall, the horse was old. There were three of us riding it. The Texas summer heat was beating down, the trails seemed long. I was bored. The tree limbs were low, the girl in front of me was suppose to duck. But she didn't. All three of us BAM! fell right off. Mortified, but not hurt, I swore myself away from thousand pound animals from that day forward.
Fear. The F Word that motivates me to ditch horses, and over analyze the piles of work. I just fear not finishing, or not doing it well or right. My check lists are long, and none of my “To Do's” seem to get checks next to them. Then at the end of the day, I just hate myself for not getting anything done. It's an ugly vicious cycle. And torments me from Monday to Monday. I'm trying to break out of the cycle, but it's not as easy as riding a horse, that's for sure.
What is your “F” Word?
Ever have a crappy, horrible, why did I get out of bed kinda day? Tuesday was mine. It started with lower back spasms and muscle relaxers. Then it turned into this:
“Mom, I have a headache.”
“Do you need me to come get you?”
“No, it’s okay. We’re on lockdown anyway.”
“Apparently there are kids with guns on campus.”
Meanwhile, my phone rings. It’s about the middle child in middle school:
“Your child is suspended from riding the bus for three days… “
And then when I picked up the youngest from Private Christian School, the teacher told me this:
“He can be such a good, loving child, but if I could’ve paddled him today I would have.”
So how’s that whole Parenting According to Amos thing going for me? I won’t even ask you, because most likely your children are close to perfection and you’ve just humored me in reading what I think God is saying to parents through the prophet Amos. Most likely your children get all greens or smiley faces on their agendas. Most likely your children live up to every single responsibility you ask of them. Most likely your children get all A’s on their report card (not even one ‘F’, not even one). Most likely you just pity me, looking down on me with a pierced mouthed smile, trying to let me know through your eyes that someday, I will be a better mother and everything will be okay.
But in the meantime I take this to heart–like God is telling me to straighten it up, to tighten the reins on my little family:
“Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you…against the whole family…”Amos 3:1
Oh and it doesn’t stop there either, because verse 11 says this:
“An Adversary shall be all around the land; He shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered.”
God was speaking of the Assyrians at the time, but now, I consider my adversary Satan himself. And yes, he is sapping my strength and yes, he is plundering my palace. My child was held in a classroom for 2 hours yesterday so the 10 police cars full of officers could search students class by class. (There were kids peeing in bottles in the corners of rooms–no kidding. I have photographic evidence, but I’ll spare you.) My boys are forgetting their manners, and what obedience is, and how important honesty is to our family, and to God.
But I am reminded that the Adversary is the real enemy, from the beginning of my life to the end of my children’s. I must discipline my kids, I must teach them a better way of life. I must teach them to fight from a place of Victory in Christ, because if I don’t stop the disobedience now–if we don’t teach our kids honesty, responsibility, respect–then one of our kids could be the one at school with a gun.
When God speaks of disciplining his chosen people of Israel in the book of Amos it’s because he knows the possibility of the outcome if he didn’t. We can’t ignore the possible outcomes in our own kids lives.
What are some ways you need to stand firm against the ADVERSARY and not allow him to sap your strength?
What is your worst day ever with your kids?
Share with me!
One of the greatest challenges it seems that comes with growing a church is not having your own builiding. My students are the ones who have suffered the most with our sense of homelessness. For the last year and a half we have bombarded the living rooms of parents, who had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
As those opportunities have expired, I find myself forced to reconsider the entire ministry. The easy way would be to find another living room and keep on moving forward in the same ryhthm doing the same thing, with the same perspective…same…same…same.
Jesus never did ministry the same. He constantly adapted with every new challenge that faced him. The foundation of his ministry never changed–it was all about Him. Our ministry will always remain all about Him. But in order for there to even be a ministry, I had to ask the students what they thought, what they wanted, how they wanted to learn about him. This is what they told me:
- We want a comfortable and hip environment.
- We want awesome and inspiring music.
- We want to minister to people our own age.
- We want to feed the poor and clothe the naked.
- We want to be heard and to make a difference.
- We want our own building.
It’s a tall order, but one that no doubt is possible, well except for the last one right now. This past weekend we started with “We want to minister to people our own age.” After grabbing Three Taco Parties from Taco Bell and loading the ice chest with gatorade we headed to the local skatepark to show the skaters some Jesus Love. We will continue learning and doing ministry in an organic way, focusing more on serving and loving others with sporatic times of intense teaching.
When buliding a ministry, we have to be moldable, willing to follow where the Spirit leads. So often in church planting we want to use a model, or mimick a local “successful” church. Our success depends on how we accomplish His will for His ministry.
Where in your ministry have you bucked the system and leaned into God’s creativity in your church plant?
The last few days I’ve spent ample time with Zac. He’s been home from school with pulmonary junk. So between the million breathing treatments, we’ve watched the Karate Kid at least as many times. Zac loves to punch and kick and flip. So after the millionth time of me asking him to sit down and stop putting himself on the brink of respiratory failure, he settled in with my iPad.
“Mom, how do you spell karate?”
Before I knew it, Zac was on Karate Depot investigating how much black belts cost.
“Mom, can I buy a black belt?”
So being the fantastic, insightful mom I am, I replied with, “A black belt can’t be bought. It must be earned.”
Quickly, Zac was just as insightful, “I am going to earn it–well, I’m going to pretend I did.”
Isn’t that the American way? We want to pretend, or live as if, we have earned something. We want a fantastic marriage, but we don’t want to fight our way through it. We want kids who are well-adjusted and able to handle no matter what comes their way, but we don’t want to impose the boundaries. We want that deep faith in God, but shrug our shoulders at the thought of daily prayer and Bible reading.
All of us on some level want to pretend we’ve earned all the benefits of maturity. We shop at a Karate Depot, or Marriage Depot, or Parenting Depot, hoping to find something that will give us an outward badge of honor–to show the world our amazing-ness. We are willing to pay the $29.95 and even the inflated shipping fees if only it will give us the shortcut.
I wish I could purchase a black belt in writing, and in teenage dating issues, and in church planting, and in marriage. But even if I did, when it came down to the time to battle the enemy, I would lose.
I finished the conversation with my determined child forehead to forehead. I looked him in the eyes and said, “We can’t cheat our way through things. We have to work hard, train, do whatever it takes to get our black belt. Even if it takes 15 years to get it. And that’s not just with Kung Fu. We have to work hard to be whatever it is we dream about. We can’t buy our dreams on the internet.”
He flipped and kicked his way upstairs and came down with his Judo uniform and proudly tied his white belt. The kicking and flipping never stopped, but hopefully he learned–hopefully we have learned–that whatever it is we want to be best in, whatever we want to wear a black belt for, will take doing the hard work!
Happy Friday. You are loved!