31 January 2011

The right thing

Do you ever feel like doing the right thing takes way more effort than it should?

My Jeep hit a "No parking" sign two weeks ago on a night when it was way too icy for any sane person to be out on the roads. The sign didn't get knocked to the ground, but wasn't standing up right anymore. No big deal, right? If I had a hammer and ladder, I could have gone out and straightened the sign myself. Really, it wasn't that bad! But the insurance adjuster insisted I needed to file a police report because I was liable for damage to the sign.

At the police station, I waited for an interesting hour to provide information about my crime of hitting a sign. While there, I listened to stories of reasons other people come to the police station and smiled over my situation of being there to report an injured sign.

Much effort to do a good thing.

Then at Borders, I developed a funny friendship with one of the salespeople when she tried to charge me 80% off a regularly priced item and eventually slipped it in my bag without charging me for it at all. At a stoplight while I waited to go pick up our Sunday evening pizza, I checked the receipt and realized she had given me the puzzle for free. Agh!

I really didn't want to steal a wooden doll puzzle! I had a 33% off coupon and Borders rewards, but intended to pay what I owed.

Doing a good thing meant our pizza got cold, a trip back into the store, and $10 coming out of my wallet.

Again, much effort to do a good thing, and I wondered why it's so hard to do what is right.

Then last night, I read this verse: "...If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. " (1 Peter 2:20-21)

I hardly count my waiting at the police station and a trip back to Borders suffering, but I'm reminded that doing the good thing isn't going to be easy. The world, as beautiful as it is, has a bent towards sin and the bad. Trying to bend it back towards the good does take effort and sometimes requires going out of my way.

But it is the example of Jesus, and the one I want to follow.

17 January 2011

Land Mines

This picture is not posted to show how messy Asher's room. is. And it's not a display of his favorite toys that he spends hours playing with. This is the battlefield of his room that I walk through to get to his bed.

Those aren't castles, pirate islands, and knight lookouts. Those are landmines! If you could look closely, you would see each knight and pirate is looking a specific direction. They are holding weapons and wearing helmets and if you gave Asher a pop quiz, he could instantly tell you that the wolf knight is wearing a helmet with antlers, carrying a dagger and sword while the lion knight has a feather in his helmet and mace in his hand.
As my belly gets larger and my balance gets worse, I fear going to sit on Asher's bed to read him a story or to give him a goodnight kiss. The fear is that I might accidentally knock over one of those knights and set off a battle over where I should put him back. We had such a battle the other day:

Asher: "Mom, did you knock over a pirate?"
Me: "Yes, I'm sorry my foot brushed against him."
Asher:"Please put him back on the island."
(This drama now includes 5 minutes of me stepping cautiously around the rest of the carefully placed knights and pirates trying to figure out where the 'island' is)
Asher: "No, mom, that's not the island."
Asher: "Agh, mom that is not the island."
Asher (through gritted irritated teeth): "Mom, put him on the island."
Me: "Oh, you mean the dock?" replacing the pirate to the correct perfect location.
Asher: "Yes, the island. You should be more careful when you walk in my room."

I regularly accidentally knock over something, a ladder, a tiny bird, one of the dinosaurs who can't stand very well on carpet, but Asher will wake out of a sound sleep the second he hears that quiet noise of something tiny falling onto carpet.
"Mom! Did you knock over one of my knights!?"
"No sweetie, I twisted my ankle and bruised my cheek, but the knights are just fine."

10 January 2011

People first

Do you have a "to do" list for today?

I do. It's not even 6:30 in the morning, and I've added five more things to the outstanding list from yesterday.

As I look over the tasks I want to complete;

pay bills
put away piles of papers
enter commitments on calendar
call the eye dr.

I don't see anything about a person.

Absolutely that laundry will make sure my family has clothes to wear, we will continue to have electricity and water and heat if I pay the bills and our calendar ensures we get where we need to be. The focus of the list is to clean and organize.

This morning, I read God's words in Zechariah saying, "You're interested in religion. I'm interested in people." And as I looked at my list, I have to agree that yes, this list of things I want to do today clearly shows I'm interested in getting things done. In fact, I didn't have it on my list but mentally I just checked "quiet time" off my list subconsciously checking "being a Christian" off of my list of things to do today.

This verse and my time with Asher last night are reminding me that this completed check list is not what God is wanting from me.

Last night, Asher found me reading a book I had picked up hoping to make progress in since I've been stuck on it for way too long. He quietly came beside me and I heard,
"Mommy I want to spend time with you."
"Will you come upstairs and be with me."

Of course I set that book down quickly and agreed to be with my boy. He wanted to snuggle with me into the sleeping bag we still had set up on the floor in our extra bedroom and zip it all the way up. We looked at a magazine with knight figurines he dreams of owning, looked through the Sir Hugo book and talked about going to school tomorrow.

My pregnant belly squished underneath me and I wondered if I would be able to breathe much longer, but the time was absolutely worth it.

Time in a sleeping bag with my son wasn't on the list of things to do last night, but no doubt I made the right choice.

And God reaffirmed this morning that choosing people over ritual is always His best.

06 January 2011

2011 story of quiet purpose

The list of what I want to do in 2011 is longer than I can neatly package in a paragraph story, but the highlights can be summarized with the following...

At the end of next year, I want to find myself waking early to spend quiet moments alone. Quiet moments alone and newborn baby don't naturally fit into the same year, and this is why I'm setting the importance of my space before it gets invaded again.

Journals filled with daily writings will stack in my bedroom along with titles of writing books I have read. Prayer journals will contain purposeful petitions for the heart change of my easily angered boy and my girl who needs to begin receiving discipline. Continued prayers for my husband as we again prepare to embark on two study seasons I hope to live with much less complaining as I pursue love rather than endurance.

There isn't as much on my list to physically do this year. I look at my empty bookshelves and should add decorate and personalize but I've caught a phobia of clutter and too much stuff! Maybe I will attempt to avoid bringing into my house anything I'm not absolutely in love with.

My one practicality among this year of quiet writing and prayer is to transform those weed boxes behind our house into garden boxes. Because planting time falls smack in t he middle of baby and study time this challenge is magnified even greater than my gardening inexperience alone.

And so that's it. Not short and sweet, more rambling and drawn-out. A year of reflection and preparation. This time maybe not through action, but certainly with purpose.

03 January 2011

Story of 2010

I still hate New Years resolutions. Ok, hate is a strong word. But I strongly dislike the band wagon of making promises that will soon be forgotten. Every year I fight the desire to make lists, just because making lists is fun, and the pull towards contemplation over what life ideally could be like.

Until I read Don Miller's challenge to live a good story. Live a good story by planning a good story.

So last January, I wrote the story I wanted to live in 2010, and surprisingly, this story stuck in my mind throughout all of the year. I remembered the details of what I wanted my life to be throughout the year, and the story I lived looks fairly similar to the one I told.

The January 2010 story envisioned
  • Living in a new house with an open kitchen (check!)
  • Being published in a place I can physically hold (check! Thanksgiving Tales)
  • Reading more books (check! Thank you Book Club!)
  • Intentionally spending date time with Walter (little checks, but still needs work for a big check)
  • Running a race (umm...thanks to Baby #3, uncheck)
After we moved, my running became more regular, I found a great route and my body started to get into the routine of waking early, lacing up shoes, and pushing itself towards running longer distances...and then the morning sickness began. I know running during pregnancy can be just fine, but with my clumsy feet that trip over every crack and bump in the sidewalk I never trust myself to run while carrying a baby (inside or outside). So this goal was postponed.

The story of 2010 turned out way better than I could have hoped.

Later this week I hope to put together the story I want to live in 2011.