Sunday, December 02, 2007

the Advent spirit

Today's Dallas Morning News mentions an article from Thursday's Wall Street Journal that to me exemplifies the Advent spirit I'm seeking. Trappist monks in Belgium brew a beer that connossieurs clamor for. The monks refuse to increase production: "It would interfere with our job of being a monk," one says. To those who want more beer: "'Seek the Kingdom of God first, and all these things will be given to you,' counters Brother Joris, quoting from the Bible, adding that it refers only to things you really need. 'So if you can't have it, possibly you do not really need it.'"

What simplicity. It is easy, especially around Christmas, to have unrealistic expectations and to become disappointed when I can't have what I want. It would be a great growth in maturity for me to realize that what I can't have, I don't need, and to stop striving for what I can't have. What would happen if I spent more time reflecting on the fact that all I need is to "seek first the kingdom of God"? Advent is the perfect time for this. Traditionally it is kind of a mini-Lent -- a time for reflection and penitence. As the song says, "Let every heart prepare him room."

I need a little Advent, right this very minute. I'm not ready for Christmas. Nor should I be -- the Christian liturgical year begins with Advent for a reason. We begin with waiting. We have four Sundays -- not even a month -- devoted to preparing for the Coming of our Lord Jesus. To jump immediately into Christmas decorations, music, parties and festivities, as much fun as it may be, is to me artificial. Yes, Christ has come into the world and we should celebrate, but our lives are not a constant celebration of His presence. One of the songs of this season says, "Come, O come, Emmanuel" -- we bid God who is with us to come to us -- because we are captive and mourning and will continue in this way until he returns. Our broken world awaits Jesus' second Coming, when he will for good bring light into the darkness. We celebrate Christmas at the same time of year that the days are the shortest and therefore the darkness most pronounced. I don't want to let the festivities of Christmas to lead me to ignore the reality of the darkness that still covers our world.

I need to spend time this season quietly reflecting and asking God how I can better bear his light in dark places. Then, come December 25, I can celebrate Christmas joyfully.

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to share how you prepare for Christ's coming with your children. John is a little young this year to understand "the reason for the season" but I want to gather some ideas about how to help him celebrate Jesus' birth and anticipate his return.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sunday, bloody Sunday

After I'd gotten up twice with John in the night, Sunday morning got off to an ideal start: the smell of bacon woke me up at 7:30. Michael's cousin Rich, his wife Lisa and their baby Sophia were visiting us, and Michael always makes pancakes when we are with them. I went to the kitchen to join them at the table. We have four chairs at the table, one broken, which I was using since we had guests. The seat is separated from the chair frame, and when I pulled the chair up to the table and sat in it, I got a finger caught between the seat and frame. My fingernail immediately turned purple. It was incredibly painful.

I put an icepack on my finger and sat back down. The icepack didn't help. Michael brought me a pancake and bacon. I started feeling sick to my stomach and couldn't eat them. Then I started feeling lightheaded and decided to lie down on the sofa in the living room. I thought it would be a good idea for someone to help me, but I didn't say anything.

The next thing I knew there were loud voices waking me up. I was bleeding and disoriented; Michael was holding me, and he was as scared as I was. I had fainted on my way to the sofa and fallen face-first into the window over the sofa. I had cuts on my forehead and nose and a huge gash in my chin. Someone called 911, and a couple of paramedics came and bandaged my face. Michael took me to the ER, where I got a tetanus shot and 24 stitches -- six on my nose, the rest on my chin (4 internal). (Rich and Lisa, God bless them, not only stayed home with John, but they also cleaned up the kitchen and cleaned up the glass and all the blood off the sofa while we were gone!)

I am very grateful that I didn't suffer any serious harm from this accident. While my finger, cuts and other minor injuries (bruised knee, sore neck) are painful, the worst thing about this accident was how quickly and unexpectedly things went from normal to traumatic. It is easy to forget how fragile and vulnerable I am as a human being. But God used this accident to remind me of how great was Jesus' sacrifice for us.

After I got home from the hospital, I read that day's reading in the devotional "Pursuit of Joy": "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phil. 2:8). It struck me deeply that Jesus willingly took on fragile, vulnerable, human flesh in order to save us. The small trauma that I experienced on Sunday morning, as horrific as it felt, was nothing compared to the pain Jesus experienced in his crucifixion. "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" -- my accident reminded me that shedding blood is invariably painful. Thank you, Jesus, for choosing to die on the cross for me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Most of the time, I meet life's challenges with Martha-faith. Martha-faith isn't bad -- she knew that if Jesus had been there, her brother Lazarus would not have died; Martha even believed that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world" (John 11:21, 27). Martha knew that her brother would rise again at the resurrection on the last day, and she believed that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. So far, so good.

But Martha did not believe that Jesus could or would be able to help her today with her immediate problem -- her dead brother. Jesus threatened to make things worse by commanding the stone to be removed from Lazarus's tomb: after being dead for four days, Lazarus's body would smell really bad. Martha didn't want her brother back dead! Why in the world was Jesus going there?

So too, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; he is the resurrection and the life; he has conquered death through his death and "everyone who lives and believes in [him] shall never die" (11:26). But I naturally lack faith to believe that he is bringing new life today into dead things. Some days I wake up eagerly anticipating what God will bring into my life that day; other days, I wake up thinking that the day will be no more than one mind-numbing task after another. On the latter days, I have to force myself to remember that the resurrection power of God is present today no matter what I am doing. I am finding that God will give me this faith if I will receive it. If I will trust Jesus for today, then I am willing to go with him as he opens tombs -- perhaps showing me my hardness of heart in a relationship, or a bad attitude -- and it is a joyful thing to see him do little things each day that show his presence and power. Life becomes an adventure.

When Martha objected to the tomb being opened, Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" (11:40). If I will only give up my own ideas of what Jesus can't or won't do today, their removal allows the glory of God to become visible now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Casino Royale

The kingdom of God is like a poker game . . . hang in there, I'm serious.

Michael and I visited his cousin's family in Austin over Labor Day weekend. Sunday evening we watched Casino Royale (well, Michael sensibly went to bed instead). Like any Bond movie, I guess, it had lots of action and excitement and a superfluous plot. But one scene has really stuck with me. Bond is playing high-stakes poker. I don't know what the game is called, but each player is dealt only two cards and the rest of his hand comes from the dealer's cards, which are turned over only one at a time. I.e. the player uses whatever cards the dealer has that work best with the cards he's been dealt, and the player doesn't know at first what kind of hand he'll end up with.

In the movie, in the game's final hand, several players have impressive looking face cards, but Bond's winning hand is actually pretty paltry-looking -- I think it was a five and eight of clubs or spades. Those cards on their own are worth nothing in poker -- but here, combined with the dealer's cards, add up to a straight, so Bond won and saved $150 million from going to terrorists. (I hope you don't mind that I gave it away. You weren't planning on seeing it, were you?)

As a mother, I frequently feel inadequate. And that is how it should be. "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." (2 Cor. 3:5). Since watching this movie, I've been encouraged by picturing God dealing cards that I have yet to see but are turning my humble hand into a winning one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Sometimes I try to feed John something I KNOW he likes and he just won't let me get it in his mouth. He puts his arms up in front of his face and turns away, while I try to spoon around his arms and get a little chicken (or whatever) in. Eventually he gets a taste somehow and then is very compliant for the rest of the meal -- but only after I've gotten annoyed and impatient at his resistance.

I've always been an impatient person but only recently have I realized that this is a spiritual problem. Fortunately, we have a God whose patient love (1 Cor. 13) enters our hearts through his Holy Spirit (Rom. 5). Patience as a fruit of the Spirit had never caught my attention the way love or joy or others did, but now I think patience is a huge, key component of love. I want to love and accept John just the way he is, and that includes letting him sometimes set the pace for mealtimes and diaper changes, among other things.

I wonder how often sin is the product of impatience. If I'm impatient with a person, I may get angry at them and say or do something unloving. It's impossible to be compassionate and impatient at the same time.

If I'm impatient with God, I may take a shortcut to get something (even a good thing) that I want in my timing rather than wait for God's timing to be fulfilled. I hate waiting! I look forward to heaven when we will have all of eternity to enjoy everything good, rather than as now living in a time-bound world.

But I am willing to learn patience and to see waiting in a different light. Waiting is inevitable when you live in a universe bound by time; time is one of God's parameters for his creation and so it too is good. If we didn't experience life in time, we wouldn't have music (all the notes would have to happen at once!) or film or any kind of story. When I'm impatient I'm viewing time as a limitation, when really it is a structure that allows life to take shape.

A friend told me that God gives us children to teach us patience. School is in session!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

free at last

Some of you know what a difficult time I've had emotionally and spiritually since John was born. Well, after 9 1/2 months, God set me free! I feel like myself again, and I'm enjoying John so much more. SO many people have been praying for me, and after everything else failed (medication, clinics, counseling), God showed up through Smokey John's BBQ Bible study.

Two weeks ago there was an article in the Dallas paper about a Bible study being held for 26 years by Smokey John himself at his BBQ restaurant on Tuesdays at lunchtime. Michael read the article and said, "You need to read this and go." The article emphasized that this was a place where anyone was welcome and that God's Spirit was present. So on Tuesday, John and I went.

I cried much of the time, and afterwards several people came over to pray with me. One of them was Livingston, a Nigerian pastor, who prayed over me for the spirit of depression to depart and then said, "You will get better." I didn't have much hope, but I had hope in his hope. The next day, he and Libby, another Smokey John's regular, came to my hope and prayed with me. They told me to memorize some particular Scripture passages and to speak the Scripture out loud so that my subconscious could hear it instead of the lies I've been hearing in my head. In desperation, I tried this for several days.

Then, last Monday afternoon, I was speaking to Libby on the phone, and when I got off the phone I realized that I felt like myself again. I can't describe the difference -- like being released from bondage, having the sun come out, and having a huge burden lifted off of me, for starters. Life is good again. John and I continue to go to Smokey John's on Tuesdays.

"This happened so that we might rely not on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." (2 Cor. 1). Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

Friday, July 20, 2007

baby on the loose

John loves to play in the pantry. So far he can reach only what's on the floor -- canned goods, some bottles, and the half-gallon container of olive oil. Michael and I were both in the kitchen the other day and somehow neglected to see that John, playing quietly in the pantry, had opened the olive oil, somehow (aided by a insecurely fastened top), and had it in his lap. Upside-down. Yes, he was sitting in a lake of olive oil, oblivious as only a baby can be. Michael said that all we could do was laugh (but he wasn't the one who cleaned it up!).

No spiritual lesson this time -- just a cautionary tale. The new, full container of olive oil has its top securely fastened, and I watch John much more closely when he's in the pantry.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

clouds and darkness

I wonder if anyone is still out there reading this -- it's been so long since I last posted. Hellooooooo???

Isn't there some verse, probably in the Psalms, that talks about clouds and darkness surrounding the Lord? (I hate it when I can't find a verse.) Anyway -- this describes how my relationship with God has felt recently: as if he were very distant and shrouded. I miss the good old days when it was easy to know that God is Immanuel, God-with-us.

But the cool thing is that there is a verse in the Bible (I know there is!) that describes what I'm experiencing, in contrast to all of the many happy verses about God dispelling darkness and our walking in his light. The truth is that God is there in the darkness too even if hidden, like the sun hidden -- but not gone -- behind the clouds in this strangely wet Dallas summer. "I answered you out of a thundercloud" (Ps. 81:7).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

new song

Hi from Austin -- we are visiting Michael's cousin, wife and baby daughter -- the second cousins are meeting for the first time. John is having a great time playing with all new toys! It's funny how he likes new toys but old songs -- ones he's heard before. I've noticed that the first time I sing a song to him he's not interested, but after several hearings it becomes a familiar song and elicits a big smile.

I too like old songs better than new songs. In church I prefer songs I know to those I don't. This is probably pretty common. It strikes me how in spite of this, the Psalms frequently encourage (command?) us to sing a new song to the Lord. He likes new songs! Whenever we do something new, go into the unknown, we are singing a new song to him. As hard as it may be, we can trust that he is pleased -- and is with us.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for . . . ." (Heb. 11:1). But what do I hope for? I spend a lot of time hoping that things will change for the better -- things of this world, e.g. my relationship with John as he grows, or our finances or whatever. But I get in trouble spiritually when I put my faith in what I hope to happen today: that dinner will be good, that John will nap well, that I'll have a good day. To take a verse slightly out of context, "If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. " (1 Cor. 15:29).

But if I hope in things that are eternal -- God's faithfulness and goodness, heaven, my relationship with God through Jesus' death, freedom from sin and death -- then one day my hope will be fulfilled, and so this kind of faith is true and warranted. And of course it is this kind of faith that believers are commended for: again, in Hebrews 11, even though they "did not receive what was promised" (Heb. 11:39) . . . yet.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I heard on a radio show for children a dramatization of the Bible story of Naaman, a Syrian with leprosy. The prophet Elijah (or was it Elisha?) tells him to bathe in the Jordan river and he'll be healed. Naaman is furious and complains: "The Jordan is dirty! There's a million rivers in Syria that are better than the Jordan! I'd do anything, I'd fight battles to be healed. But get in that nasty river?! You must be joking." Of course, after he's convinced to do just what he's been told, he's healed.

I immediately thought of my own situation. God, I want to be healed, sanctified, cleansed of my immature, selfish ways. But I don't like "the Jordan" you've given me! To take care of a baby all day is so difficult. It doesn't come naturally. I'm anxious, fearing that something will go wrong, so I never relax. God, I would rather lead Bible studies, teach, do something that uses my particular gifts and skills. Taking care of John, even after six months of his being with us, still fills me with doubt. I love him, but I thought I would feel maternal by now, and I don't.

This is where God has put me, however, and I can see that this is my Jordan. It's funny how I've changed in some little ways: bad drivers don't infuriate me anymore; some people I used to find annoying are likable now. God is giving me new life in unasked-for areas, and the changes are incredibly minor for all the pain I've experienced. But that will just help me to be humbled!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Why am I doing this? Part 2

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together:

God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God's Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain or discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure. [p. 22-23]

The other day a plant lover mentioned that everything she plants for herself dies, but what she plants for others flourishes. This seems to exemplify how you can't minister to yourself. The Word has to be shared to be received.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

babylike faith

I want to be in control of my life. Barring that, I like to know what is going to happen next. Usually, however, I neither choose nor know in advance most of what happens to me. This is the place to trust God, who both controls and knows what I do not. Of course, easier said than done. I can learn from my son about trusting the one who takes care of us.

John never seems anxious or uncomfortable with not controlling or knowing what will happen next. As long as his basic needs are met, he is usually happy to do whatever I decide is best for us to do -- take a walk, have a bath, sing a song. As I'm getting to know him better, I'm more able to take his likes and dislikes into account, but I still can't even tell him what is coming next -- and he's fine with that.

I would like to trust God the way that John trusts me.

I also would like for more people to post comments! Just to let me know that you're out there. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Joni Eareckson Tada says that when she was a teenager, she prayed for God to help her know his presence and grace more. She says she knew she was a hypocrite. A month or two later, she had a diving accident that left her a quadraplegic, and even then she saw the accident as the answer to her prayer. She was angry at God at first, but then came to believe that God could not have gotten her attention any other way.

A friend also went through PPD and says that she is grateful for having it because it drew her closer to God. I can't say yet that I am grateful for having PPD, but it has taught me things I needed to learn: my own fallibility, how to receive help, and more compassion for others' suffering. If I had to have PPD to learn these things, then perhaps it is worth it. I am not sure I have drawn closer to God yet, but I think I will because through PPD God has shown me truth about myself: He is worshipped in spirit and truth, and so I can worship him more the less I live under illusions.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

perfectly average

I was reading something about perfectionism, and it said that perfectionists have too high standards for themselves and others. It suggested purposefully setting your standard to average instead. I love this idea and in celebration of it, I am writing this post without any editing whatsoever (except to fix typos) -- this is straight from the top of my head, friends. This way, when you shoot for "average," you may very well exceed your expectations.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Through the Wilderness

I've heard two things on the radio lately that encourage me:

1. The wilderness is not a destination, but only a place through which to travel on the way to our destination, the promised land.

2. Our Shepherd leads us "through" the valley of the shadow of death. I'd never noticed the word "through" before -- now it comforts me to think that the valley is, like the wilderness, just a place to get through, not to stay.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sing to the Messiah

On Sunday a soloist sang from The Messiah. It was beautiful and reminded me of an Easter almost 10 years ago.

I was at the time attending a church about an hour from home; my job also was about an hour away, in the other direction. One Sunday I felt tired of driving and went to a small Methodist church in my neighborhood. I was struck during the service by how terrible the choir was -- the worst I've ever heard. The individual voices stood out, and they were off-key. During the announcements, the choir director said that the choir would be singing parts of the Messiah in celebration of Easter, and that anyone was welcome to join them. He said that he had scouts listening to people during the service to recruit people.

I do not have a very good voice, but I can read music passably and enjoy singing in choirs. When two choir members came to me after the service to issue me a personal invitation to join the choir in singing the Messiah, I was humbled to realize that THIS was the kind of choir that would want me. They really could use my voice! I said yes because I thought it would be fun.

And it was fun -- I enjoyed the practices, to be singing again, and the choir director was, surprisingly, very good at directing us. Nevertheless, we still sounded awful. I invited several friends to come to the performance on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, and I warned them that we were really bad. They came anyway.

Afterwards, they accused me of misleading them: "What do you mean that this choir isn't any good?! It was spectacular!" And it truly was. During the whole performance, we sounded like a different choir, one with power and glory, praising our exalted God. All I can guess is that the heavenly choir joined us that afternoon, because we did not have it in us. It seems to me an apt metaphor for the Christian life -- we bring our small, off-key voices, and Jesus transforms them into a sound that glorifies God. The credit is all his.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No Pain, Gain

When faced with choices, I usually assume God's will is the choice that is the most difficult, unpleasant, or sugar-free. Sometimes this is the case -- it's easier to grow weeds than desirable plants, and building character and morals takes hard work. But I also find myself choosing or enduring suffering that is truly optional simply because I assume it's where God wants me.

I realized this recently when I was shown a chart that rates pain from 0 (no pain) to 10 (intense pain that prevents you from doing anything except suffer). The comments on the chart suggest that it is good to get help for pain when it's about a 3 or 4, i.e. while pain is bearable and doesn't affect you that much. What a revelation. I tend to think that I "should" soldier on through pain -- physical or emotional -- until I can't bear it any longer, and then get help.

I decided that this approach wasn't working well for me when I was in the midst of the PPD pit and a friend said, "You're so strong! If I'd been through what you have, I'd be in a mental institution." It occurred to me that whatever was making it possible for me to endure what I was enduring wasn't strength. I don't know what it was -- stubbornness? fatigue (I couldn't imagine what more to do)? fear (what if there really wasn't help for me)? Maybe just ignorance -- thinking that God wants me to patiently endure suffering, so I'd better patiently endure.

But we have a God who gives us an easy yoke and light burden. If Jesus died for me, then I don't have to do anything, not even suffer, to be ok with God. I used to think that taking antidepressants wasn't God's will for me (even if it was ok for other people!). Now I think that taking them helps me to know and do God's will, which is sometimes painful, and sometimes not.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Day of the Living Dead . . .

. . . is the name of a movie -- I think it's about dead people being raised to a zombie-like existence -- but I think it also could be an alternative title to the Bible: we are dead in our trespasses, but through Jesus we are brought back to life, not as zombies of course but to a better life in which we'll never die again. Yesterday my mother-in-law, Stephanie, called to share with me an Easter story:

She and my father-in-law, Michael, had been away on a retreat for a few days, where they received a call saying that his mother (91, suffering from diabetes and Alzheimer's), Grandma Martha, had been sick and unable to keep down any food or drink since Wednesday. They went to see her upon their return home on Sunday. They expected that she would be near death, and she looked it -- "like Lazarus in the tomb," Stephanie said. Stephanie made a little liquid meal for Grandma Martha of peppermint tea and pureed spinach in chicken broth, with some natural supplements. Grandma Martha was able to eat these and by the end of the evening she had dramatically improved. Not only was she keeping down these fluids, she was making jokes and blowing kisses! Stephanie and Michael are elated.

It seems to be no accident that Grandma Martha's recovery happened on Easter Sunday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Knowing God's will / Good Friday

I had never planned to have children. Then I met Michael. When we discussed children, he said, "God loves life." We talked about God telling his creatures to be fruitful and multiply. Suddenly it seemed so clear: God wanted me to have children -- I wanted to be fruitful, not barren -- and God would give me what I needed to be a good mother. The God who gives life to the dead, who gave babies to barren women (Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth) certainly could change my heart.

Then John came along, and then I felt angry at God for not keeping up his end of the bargain. (I know that this isn't theologically correct, but it's where I am still.) Arguably, he's done what I expected: John is a beautiful, happy child, so apparently I'm able to give him enough, with the help of God and other people. But it's been torturous! Not because of John -- I think it's God's grace that he is as easy as he is -- but because of my own brokenness. If I'm following God's will then why is it so excruciating?

I was discussing this with one of my sisters, who said it bothers her that I blame God for my own responsibility in choosing to have a child. She's got a good point: God didn't force me to do anything. And I am responsible for my false ideas about what motherhood would be like. We talked about how to know God's will. It's a hard question for me. I wonder how much following God's will means being the person he created me to be, and how much of that is who I am today vs. who I can become if I let him stretch me. Honestly, I think that having a baby was/is God's will for me, and that I need to accept how difficult it is as part of God's gift.

I didn't know it when I chose to have a child, but John is, in addition to a beautiful, sweet baby, God's little instrument of sanctification in my life. Nothing has humbled me like this experience. Nothing else has shown me how selfish I am. And I have no right to complain that this is excruciating. Not only is all discipline painful, but my true desire is to follow Jesus, wherever that takes me. Today, Good Friday, we remember how in his death on the cross, Jesus bore the excruciating pain of the weight of the sin of the world on his broken body. (Doesn't excruciating come from the word for cross, perhaps in Latin?) My own suffering pales in comparison but also shows me my need for a Savior more than ever. If following Jesus leads me through a few months of hell, so what? Eternal Easter awaits.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why am I doing this?

I've told only a few people that I'm writing a blog. They've all asked, "Why?" I put off starting a blog because there is obviously no need for another one. But then I realized that I need to do it.

As John is getting slightly less dependent on me, I'm discovering a little time for myself. I find journaling helps me understand myself better, and some thoughts seem worth sharing because they are probably applicable to other people too. Someday I hope to write something to publish. That idea still triggers anxiety in me, though, so a blog is a low-pressure way to write publicly without fear. It's taking a baby step (a What About Bob?-ism . . . perhaps my favorite movie), and I am enjoying it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We love because . . .

We love because He first loved us. For a while -- oh, years -- I've worried about how little love I have to give others -- apparently I haven't taken in huge amounts of God's love yet. Having PPD has been a wonderful opportunity to receive God's love through other people. I'm blown away by how family and friends have supported me through this dark time, weeks and months of having nothing of my own to give in return.

Why do people love me? My pastor says it's because they are loving me with Christ's love that they have received. I heard Marva Dawn (Christian writer) at a conference say that she asked her husband why he loves her, expecting him to point to her intelligence or other fine traits. Instead, he said, "Because you need it." It's humbling and freeing to be loved because I need it rather than because of what I do or have to offer.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Loving God, loving others

My son, John, slept through the night last night -- still a rare enough event to celebrate. This morning he woke up around six, and my husband (already awake) got him up. I lay in bed for a few minutes praying and listening to John cry. It hit me -- how could I pray while my husband was handling our crying son alone? It felt hypocritical -- and that if I really want to love God, then I'll love those who are close to me as well as I can. (Isn't this a 1 John thought?) To be really loving, I thought, I can at least see if there's anything I can do. So of course I got up -- couldn't lounge in bed any longer with that idea in my head!

Everything was fine. And now I'm aware of how I sometimes use "quiet time" as an escape from dealing with the people or situations God has put into my life. Prayer as a way of avoiding responsibility -- yikes.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Gently Led

Isaiah 40 says that the Lord leads his flock like a shepherd and gently leads those that are with young. After giving birth to my son and having such a difficult time with post-partum depression (PPD), I read these verses -- and was directed to them by friends. They meant it to comfort me, but I just felt angry at God. He calls this "gentle" leading?!

I don't know, though, what the harsh leading would be like -- I can choose to take it on faith that he IS leading me gently.

The URL for the blog is "He Gently Leads" b/c "gently led" was taken already.