Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The White Glove Treatment

So, I've written about this before. I'm not a neat-freak...I do wish that I was, and I get told by my neat-freak, OCD friends that I don't want to be that way. And I know that they are right.

I don't want to live wearing a white glove.

I would just like to get rid of clutter once and for all - and not get rid of it only to have more. To not have to worry about cleaning up all of the time. There is always something to clean up, and toys scattered from one end to the other, and a never ending pile of laundry (clean or dirty) or dishes.

And I think about how embarrassing it is sometimes to have people come to my house when it's not perfect. How doors are closed and I don't want anyone to see what may be behind those doors. Oh, I know it's never perfect, but when it's clean enough for me to think that it's close enough to being perfect. I don't like for people to know that I'm a mess. That's just my pride.

Pastor Shawn Marcell this past weekend at church said that he loves discipleship most of all in ministry. He likes it even though it's messy. It's messy to get involved in someone else's life and help them along the way. It's never perfect. It's not an easy journey. But there is joy in walking along someone's life and sharing in their best and worst moments.

I need to open up more and let people into my messy life. I tend to hold people at arm's length because I don't want them to know my issues...to see my problems...to see my mess. I don't know why I feel like I have to appear perfect.

I know that there are some people who say that they will become a Christ-follower once they have their "act" cleaned up. Once they get things together and in order, then they will make the decision to follow Jesus Christ.

It doesn't work that way. First, you can't really clean up your life and keep it perfectly clean all by yourself. It just won't work. Second, it's not the way it was meant to be.

Jesus died for us, He paid the price for our sin so that we can come to Him, and He will forgive us, cleanse us. No matter how much I try, I cannot cleanse myself of sin. I can only ask for the Blood of Jesus to cleanse me. And I have to trust God that He will do this when I ask - and then be done with it. Let it go. Move on. Keep moving forward in my faith.

As much as I would love to clean my house one good time and have it stay that way forever...it won't happen. People live here. Little messy people. I live here. So, I have to keep cleaning, even when I don't want to. It may not always look like the way I want it to, but it is always a work in progress. And I can keep letting people in, even though it's not perfect.

I'm not perfect. Yet I still have the freedom to boldly come before Jesus and ask Him to keep working on me. And I will let other people into my life to share this journey with me. They will see my imperfections. They will see my faults. They will experience with me my joys and sorrows. And together we will work towards becoming more like Christ.

I'm thankful He's not watching over my life with a white glove. His arms are open and waiting for me. And I know He's not wearing a white glove because, according to the Bible, I can see His nail-scarred hands.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This World Has Nothing for Me

We've been watching the DIY (Do It Yourself) nextwork lately...

Oh, how it makes me want to buy a house. Even a fixer-upper...something that we could make our own.

I love the fact that we live in a house right now. It is double the space that we had in the apartment. It is awesome to have a ton of room...and basically all new appliances because they've been replaced within the past year. But oh to have a place of our own!!

Right before Bella was born, I was determined to buy a house. It wasn't happening. At all. Nothing was working. We looked. We talked to a real estate agent and a mortgage company. It just wasn't the right time. I was broken. I wanted to raise my baby girl in a house, not an apartment. I cried. A lot. And I was 8 months pregnant, so that didn't help.

Then the Holy Spirit gently spoke to my heart. He reminded me that I can't take the material things of this world with me when I die. When I get to heaven, it will not have mattered if we owned a house or lived in a cardboard box. Seriously. It doesn't matter.

So, we lived in an apartment, which was fine. And now we live in a house, which is even better. I do believe that someday we will own a house, with a fenced-in back yard...and I will be able to paint the walls and do things that I want to do. I may even take a truck and trailer over to IKEA and spend some of our renovation money there!

It's all wishful thinking.

Bella knows the whole chorus and bridge to a worship song now...she sings it often, and it is a beautiful thing to hear her sweet voice.

She sings, "I need You, Jesus, to come to my rescue. Where else can I go? There's no other Name by which I am saved. Capture me with grace...I will follow You."

Then she sings the bridge... "This world has nothing for me, I will follow You."

Now, the funny thing is that she started singing this song because I started singing it in my I'm going to pull out my hair if these kids don't take a nap soon moments. But she was listening, and now it's become her song too. And if I can get that in her heart, I've done something right. And so if we never get the house that we want, it doesn't matter. I want her to know that I believe it when I sing that "this world has nothing for me...I will follow You, Jesus" even if I don't get what I want...if I don't get my way. I'm still going to follow Jesus. That is worth more than anything this world has to offer me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Not My Thing...

Don't you wish sometimes when you say, that's not my thing... that it didn't have to ever apply to you...or you never had to deal with it?

Here are a few things that I consider in the "that's not my thing" realm that I still encounter more than I would like:

1. Early mornings...Not my thing. I am not a morning person...as I write this early in the morning, which is probably why it is on the top of my list.

Bella has had crazy sleep patterns since her surgery, and when she's up, I'm usually up. I know her little throat is probably dry from sleeping, which makes it hurt, which makes her wake up and be ready to face the day.

When I was teaching in Buras, I felt a little sorry for the kids in my 1st period class. The wheels in my brain just weren't turning. I could feel myself come alive during my 3rd period class. The later classes got the better of me.

Although early mornings are not for me, now that I have kids...I don't have a choice. And when I do get to sleep in, it is a glorious thing!

2. Cleaning...it's no secret. I'm not a fan of it. I don't get an endorphin rush from cleaning. I like things nice and neat, but I don't like the process to get there. Definitely am the type of person who would hire a maid service, but that's not going to happen.

3. Bugs...I don't want to touch them, and I certainly don't want them touching me.

Too bad just wishing doesn't make it go away...

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Ladder of Life Lessons

Ever Evolving.

Life is full of changes. Stages or phases that we go through.

I once heard Dr. Hope from the New Orleans School of Urban Missions speak at the Young Minister's Institute (YMI) about lessons in life being like a ladder. You can't skip one wrung and go on to the next. Sure, you can try, but eventually, God will somehow bring you back to that wrung that you skipped only to ensure you learn the lesson.

You can't skip out on life lessons.

Sometimes, it feels like I've been on the same wrung forever. Other times I feel like I climb up several very quickly. Either way it goes, I'm still learning.

My ultimate goal is to be like Christ. This will not happen overnight. It definitely won't happen with me skipping lessons in life. I need every opportunity I get to learn to become more like Him.

So, I have to take each wrung on the ladder for what it is worth. Each one I climb is a success - a victory worth celebrating, no matter how long it takes me to climb it.

And for those that I do skip, I am thankful that God loves me enough that He doesn't want to leave me the way that I am. He wants me to be perfect like Jesus Christ. So He gives me the opportunity to truly learn it and not skip over it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bella is Recovering Well!!!

Bella did great for her surgery. Absolutely wonderful.

The doctor came in to reassure us that we had made the right decision. She said that Bella's tonsils were huge, even with her sedated and laying still. She said that she should feel great. I'm thankful that we won't have to fight that anymore.

The nurses kept telling us all day on Friday what a great patient she was. They were so wonderful. They actually carried her out with her blanket, and then carried her back in after she was waking up from the sedation...so she wasn't on that little bed when we saw her leave and come back. That was super nice. I think I would have been scarred by those images. We got to rock her and cuddle her...sing to her and comfort her. It was a good feeling....even though I knew she was in so much pain!

My mom and my in-laws were here over the weekend to help with Brennan and take care of us...It was nice. Always great to have family around.

We're still adjusting to the medicine. I just don't want her to be in a super amount of pain. Ibuprofen seems to be our magical drug of choice. She is almost like herself again after we give her that. I think the prescriptions are too hard on her. She's so tiny as it is.

Too bad she doesn't like ice cream. She keeps asking for popcorn, but she can't have that. So, popsicles are always on the menu. She's doing pretty good drinking now and eating. And we'll be eating more pudding soon, too - thanks to Kelsey and Nadine!! :)

I'm very thankful for all of the prayers that we received. She is recovering well...and now that we know what medicines not to give her, I think we'll be fine. She's still a little grumpy at times, but she did just go through a major ordeal. She's doing great considering that. I would probably be a big baby if I went through it.

We are so thankful for all of the kind words and prayers that we've received. We know that God had His hand on her, and we feel so blessed. And Bella is enjoying the gifts that she's received...even feeling well enough to play with the markers from Hopie, and one of the balloons from Crossroads is so big that she rides it like a horsie!!

We appreciate all of the care and concern...Thank you for loving us and our children!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Peace of God

I'm sick to my stomach. Part of it is the ridiculous sinus/tension headache that I have right now. It's just making me sick. After a little medicine and a wonderful husband who took care of the kids for a little while, I'm feeling better.

The other part is that I'm having to get everything ready for Bella's tonsillectomy that is happening early tomorrow morning. Really early.

She is totally unaware. Completely clueless. Yet I know what is ahead. And she's usually a trooper when it comes to taking medicine and recovering. But it still makes me nervous.

Philippians 4:6 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

I know that I need to not be anxious. It is hard. This is yet another test of me being able to trust in God. I know that worrying won't add another second to the day. It won't improve or make it worse. It will just waste my time.

So, hopefully as the sinus medicines do their magic, the peace of God will invade my heart and mind in only the way that He can make it happen. Actually, that's what the next verse says...

Philippians 4:7 NIV
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I know that I can have peace. I just have to accept it. I can also refuse it by continuing to worry and fret and be anxious.

So, I will choose to spend the rest of this day and tomorrow in peace. I know that God is with me. And He is more concerned about my baby girl than I am. She's in good hands.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ms. Heidi

One of my best friends from my childhood lost her mom this week. So hard to understand. Ms. Heidi had been very sick for the past 6 years. In and out of hospitals. Surgeries. Breathing problems. Miracles. And yet this time, she went to be with Jesus.

They moved to Buras when Amy and I were about 5 years old. Amy was painfully shy. My dad would ask her a question, and she would answer through me. She's totally not like that now. :) Our families became friends, and we did all kinds of stuff together. Even going on vacations together. There was nothing like a big family vacation to Panama City Beach. We even rented a 3 story condo the month before Katrina hit Buras. That was a very fun, crazy time. It was a beautiful house...and we invaded every crevice of it with my Latham family of 9, my dad's brother (Uncle Max) Latham family of 10, the Metzger family of 4, and a couple of friends too. There was like 26 people in this house. And we loved it. Such a great memory.

Ms. Heidi was our Missionettes director. She had a degree in education with a focus in home ec, and she taught us well. I remember all the things we did to get our badges. She went through a lot to make sure we learned what we needed to know.

She also had a wonderful, loving relationship with her husband. They were great examples of love. It's one thing for me to see my parents love each other, but I was surrounded by couples who had been married for years and still loved each other so much. I am totally blessed for that.
Bro. Joe is kind and compassionate and a hippie at heart. He wears his flip flops often - which he would wear when he got home from work. I can honestly say that they loved each other deeply. Better than in a movie.

Ms. Heidi was a great lady who left a great legacy in her daughters as well as in us. The hours that Sylvia and I spent at her house are countless. Literally. There were summers where we would just rotate houses - mine, Syl's and Amy's. We had a wonderful, beautiful childhood, and a lot of it was due to our moms.

It is so hard to see her go. To let go. I know Amy feels like she still needed her mom. Heck, I still need my mom, so I completely understand! But I know that Amy is the woman she is today because of her mom. And she will continue to be the strong, passionate woman that her mom instilled in her.

In Matthew 5:4, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

I know that as we grieve over the loss of Ms. Heidi, we will be comforted. We can remember the good times that we had. The laughs. The tears. The moments to cherish forever.

And we can know that heaven rejoiced as another soul entered in and walked into the arms of Jesus. She's no longer suffering. She's continuing the life of worship and the love affair with Jesus that she began here on earth.

And one day, because Amy, Anna, and Bro. Joe have a relationship with Jesus as well, they will reunite and worship Jesus together.

What a glorious day that will be!!