The Chore

Sunday evening I sat in the recliner happily crocheting. Then my oldest brought me up a basket of laundry to fold. I sat in the chair and continued to crochet. Eventually it seemed as if the laundry basket started screaming at me, “Renee, do you see me?” “Renee, it will only take 10 minutes to fold me.” “Renee, fold the laundry.”

But I continued to sit and crochet. I do not want to fold laundry right now. Besides, another load will be up in an hour to fold anyways.

Renee- go fold your laundry.

No- I don’t want to!

This conversation went on in my head for a little bit, before I finally just stopped, folded laundry, and then went back to crocheting. I probably spent more time arguing with myself than I did actually folding the clothes.

Honestly, I’ve had this same conversation in my head with many different topics.

Renee, you really should start cooking dinner.

Renee, you really should clean that bathroom.

Renee, you really should get out of bed and go read your Bible before the kids get up…

Wait a minute. Did I just put God in the same category as my chores?

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Why am I not excited to spend time with God? Why am I treating Him like a chore?

If I treated my husband like a chore, I am positive I would hear about it. If I treated my friends like a chore, I am sure they wouldn’t be my friends very much longer.

Why is it ok to treat God like this?

There is only one reason that I don’t really like to admit- it’s a heart problem. It’s a pride problem. It’s definitely a sin problem.

It’s funny, when I can see and feel God moving, I am eager to spend time in prayer with Him. I am eager to pick up that book and grow closer to God. I have on-going conversations with Him throughout the day. I will randomly turn on “Jesus jams” and just worship where I am at.

But sometimes… sometimes I don’t see the movement. Sometimes I wonder ‘God, where are you?’ I forget, He’s right here with me. I try to take the wheel and steer my own life. But every time I end up broken down on a dirt road, and He chooses to fix it putting me back on the proper path.

My pride tells me to follow the world. My pride tells me when things aren’t moving the way I want them to, I need to make it happen. My pride leaves me broken and in need of my Savior.

So how do I fix my pride… I don’t. I can’t.

No matter how hard I try. I fail. I end up chasing the wind. I have to lay it at the foot of the cross and pray that God will help me overcome it!

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Each morning, my kids read “The Jesus Storybook Bible” together after breakfast. I have been so blessed to be part of this. This particular Bible tells the major Bible stories, but at the conclusion of each story it points back to God’s mighty rescue plan to save his people- Jesus.

Every story. Adam and Eve. Noah. The Tower of Babble. Abraham. Isaac. (That’s as far as we have read.) Each story ends with reflecting on how God knew, loved, and used these people despite their sin nature for His glory. God knew from the beginning we couldn’t do it on our own. He had a rescue plan from the beginning to save us from ourselves. That plan was Jesus.

I will fail. I will fall short. But God already knows that. He already sent His one and only Son to die for me. All I have to do is reach out to Him, accept the gift of His Son that was freely given. Once I embrace this reality, I can start living in the fullness of the Spirit. I can grow in relationship with the Father.

Some days it may feel like a chore. Do it anyway. Pray. Ask God to change your heart. Ask God to help you grow and change your perspective.

It’s not a gimmick. It’s a reality. Don’t let life get in the way of the most important relationship you have!

Intentional

A few days ago, my husband called for me to come to the computer. He opened up a video from 2010 of our oldest as a baby. The adorable little baby (that looked strikingly similar to our current baby) rolled back and forth on a jungle floor mat happily playing by himself. Then he rolled over and our old puppy came in and gave him kisses. It was so adorable.

“Aww!!! That’s so cute! Do we have any videos like that of our other kids?” I asked.

My husband shook his head, “not one.”

I know, I know. It’s the joke that only baby #1 has a completed baby book, perfect month by month pictures, and the like. But baby #2 has an almost blank baby book, thrown together pictures, and so on… Sadly, it’s funny because it’s true. We have sooooo many baby pictures and footprint/handprint art from our first child. He also is the only one of my children to have six “Baby’s first Christmas” ornaments. We were so intentional about documenting and recording his life events.

Then we had more kids. And more kids. And now poor baby #6. When someone ask me how old he is, I’m like, “Well he was born on November 1. You can do the math.” When someone asked me how old my oldest was, I was like, “3 months, 2 days, and 16 hours.”

 

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Intentional.

I wonder if I treat my relationship with God like my first child or my 6th child. Somedays I think it’s more like my 2nd child. He has a baby book. He has a ton of pictures. But not as detailed as the first. Not as intentional as the first.

There’s a reason God wants to be first in our lives. He wants us to be intentional about our relationship with him. He wants us to want to document our lives with Him. He wants us to want to grow deeper in faith, obedience, and trust.

When I was a kid, I knew the 10 Commandments. I knew the commandment said, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Great! I’ll just keep a list of my loves. As long as God is on top, I am ok, right? WRONG!!! When God said this, he did not mean like a check list. He meant, no other gods in my presence.

He wants to be around nothing else that consumes your heart. But in our human minds we can justify our choosing to have other gods.

Well, I’m a wife/mom, my role there is the most important… Be careful not to make your family or your role a god.

Well, I’m their parent, they have to honor me above all else… Be careful not to make yourself their god.

Well, doesn’t God want me to be happy? He will overlook this desire that is pulling me away from His light. First, this is not true. I cringe every time I hear a Christian tell me this. This is the world justifying your sin, not God’s desire for you. Don’t make your secret (or not so secret) sin your god.

Please hear me here- it’s a trap! No one and no thing should ever have more importance in your life than God! Your role as a wife, parent, friend, and (you fill in the blank here) is important. But our primary reason for existence is to bring glory to God! If you have a role that is taking away from God, you need to reevaluate your heart.

If you have been expecting your spouse or children to make you happy, you are in for a sad and rude awakening. They are not God. Nothing you do for them. Nothing they do for you will satisfy that longing in your heart. There is only one that can satisfy. And that is Jesus. Your spouse and your kids were never meant to take the place of Jesus. Remember first and foremost, He took their place. They are gifts from God to point you to Him.

If you are a Christian, you must be intentional about making God part of your daily life. Church should be the dessert to the rest of your week, not the main course. Many times, we do not take advantage of the fullness of the cross. Jesus died so we can have salvation, but also so that we can be in direct communication with God! Are we being intentional at taking full advantage of what we have been given through Christ? Or are we checking the box and giving God our wish list?  Prayer, mediation, devotional life, and fellowships are just a few things we can do to be intentional with our relationship with God and grow towards Him.

If you are a Christian but your walk is not as strong as you would like it to be, you are not alone! Walking with Christ is an absolute blessing, but its not easy. It takes time. It takes practice. You will mess up. He will take you right back. Surround yourself with people and things that point to him. Spend time in prayer. Look for the blessings around you. Be intentional about making God part of every aspect of your life.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7

The Splinter

One of my children recently had a splinter in his foot. Now this child is extremely sensitive to touch and pretty much all sensory inputs. He showed me the splinter. I pushed the skin slightly around it and he started crying, “Owwey Owww.”

I took a look at him and said, “Son, I’m not cutting your arm off. Do you want the splinter out, or do you want it to stay in there and keep hurting?”

He thought about it for a minute. Then he asked, “If you don’t get it out, when will it come out?”

“Well, not anytime soon. You can either let me get it out now, and it will stop hurting. Or you can leave it alone and let it keep bothering you. But if you want me to get it out, it’s gonna hurt for a minute.”

I honestly thought he was going to tell me to leave it alone, so I didn’t give him a choice. I grabbed his foot, endured the tears, and pulled the splinter out in about 30 seconds.

Once it was out, he said, “Thanks mom. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”

Imagine that. Once the splinter was out, the pain was gone. But the immediate pain of removing the splinter actually had my son considering leaving it alone.

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Come on. I know we can all relate to this. We all have that guilty pleasure, secret sin, that we know is hurting us but can’t let go of.

For some of us, it’s gossip. We get sucked into that real-life soap opera and crave the details. (more on this in a little bit…)

Maybe it’s lust. Watching those romantic comedy movies has you secretly wishing your significant other was more romantic, funnier, or better looking, so every time you are alone or bored, Netflix has you sucked into another movie.

For others, it’s food. We know that those sugary treats are no good for us, but hey no one is watching. A donut for lunch is just fine for now.

I do not know your personal struggle, but I know you have one. The Holy Spirit has slowly shown me areas in my life that need pruning. If you have been following my blog, you may recall some post about my struggle with gossip and drama. Let me just say, this is an area I continually need reeled back in on.

First, I was convicted to turn off the television. Then I was convicted to redirect conversations that do not honor those who were not present. But the next step was a hard one. I had to distance myself from people who would not respect my boundaries around drama.

“Bad company corrupts good character.” Wait God… there’s no way you were talking about them… what will people think when I distance myself from them?

Oh man! You can see my next conviction in that statement- why are you trying to please man rather than God? Whose approval do you really seek, Renee?

Obedience is rarely easy. God’s word is not something that is popular. Many people want the Bible to be a buffet that you can pick and choose from. But it’s not. It’s one big love story between God and His creation. We cannot just choose the parts of the story we want to hear.

Let me be honest, it was painful to put up those boundaries. It was even more painful to stand firm in my convictions. I literally tore myself up inside. I knew what people would think. I kept trying to convince myself that these people needed me to point them to God… But all they were doing was stealing my joy, keeping me on guard, and continually disrespecting my boundaries. Sadly, that showed me I had remove the part of my body that caused me to stumble. God gave me peace over the situation. And once I distanced myself from the company that kept dragging me back into my sin, the struggle with this particular sin lessened.

It’s no different than an alcoholic choosing to no longer go to a bar or hang out with his partying friends. If you are going to grow, you must remove the weeds that are choking your growth.

Removing things or people who are bad influences is hard. But the peace that comes from being free to walk with God is unexplainable. If you are feeling the Spirit prompting you to remove a splinter, do it. But know it won’t be easy. You will have to lean into God. You will most definitely need to ask for prayers and support from your Christian friends. It will hurt. But, if it is from the Holy Spirit, you will be better for it.

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to depart into hell. “

Matthew 5:29-30

The Indication Light

Last Friday my kids had a doctor’s appointment. Since my morning was a little out of routine, it really didn’t surprise me that I forgot my cell phone at home. Oh well, I figured. I will be home in an hour, and I probably won’t even miss a call.

I really didn’t even notice the missing cell phone until I was driving home. Suddenly, I heard my dash beep at me. My natural response was- gas light. But as I looked down I was surprised to see not the gas light, and not the check engine light, but an indication light that I was unsure of. I glanced at my dash and read- Service Stability. What was that!?!

Clueless, I held the wheel a little tighter and decided to take a more direct route home. Usually I take a route that includes 3 interstate exchanges from South County to North County. The way I chose to go only had one interstate change. As I changed interstates, my dash light went off… Odd…

I got home and googled it. It really is no big deal- Service Stability just means that the traction control is disabled, and my anti-lock brakes wouldn’t have worked.

But unaware of that, I was extra cautious and chose a different direction.

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There have definitely been times in my life that the Holy Spirit has worked in similar ways. Little warnings that I do not fully understand. Routes changed, plans altered for reasons I cannot understand. However, I trust these changes are in my best interest.

The most obvious example of this came about 5 years ago. I was reading a book called You Were Made for God Sized Dreams by Holley ­­­Gerth.  I honestly cannot tell you what that book was about or how far I made it into the book. As I read the book I kept thinking, “I want to stay at home with my kids,” and, “I want more kids.” I had to put the book down.

Those thoughts made no sense. Five years ago, we had just had a surprise baby #3. My husband and I had planned on having two children- that’s it. But then God gently showed us His plans are far better than ours by giving us Grace (baby #3.)

Now here I was reading this book, wanting to have more kids, and wanting to stay at home with them. At the time I was teaching in a private school near our home. Our oldest was getting ready to start kindergarten, and we would finally be able to take advantage of the benefit of free tuition to this school. Quitting my job would mean losing an income and not being able to afford private school while we lived in a failing public school district. I had to be out of my mind. But I couldn’t shake it.

I picked up that book to read a few more times, and every time I had the exact same thoughts. Finally, I put the book on the shelf and told my husband I can’t read it. He inquired as to why and I explained, “All I can think when I read this is I want another child, and I want to stay at home with the kids.”

To my surprise when he asked why, all I could say was, “I don’t know. Maybe to get more souls into heaven.”

He looked at me and said, “Ok. I don’t know how we will do it, but let’s do it.” He recognized that God was speaking to me and placing this dream in my heart. Even though I still thought it was nuts! We were soon pregnant with baby #4 and trying to figure out how it would be possible for me to stay at home with the kids.

God made a way for this God given dream to come true. As we started this journey, we realized the obstacles in our way of education pointed to a path I had never really considered- homeschooling. As we started homeschooling, I quickly realized what a good fit it was for our family.

Somehow our finances stretched. We learned how to budget, and our income seemed to reach even further. Honestly, somehow making less money seemed like we had more. We were paying attention to how we were spending and using the money we had wisely. I never felt like we were going without. God provided work for my husband and the resources to help us be smart with our money.

It was like God was saying to me, “Your plans may be good, but my plans are better.” For reasons I cannot explain I picked up a book at a book store that I didn’t even finish, but the Holy Spirit used it as an indication light on the dashboard. This light made me consider going down a path I never would have considered otherwise. But now that I am on this path, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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*As I was rereading this post to edit, the VeggieTales movie “Josh and The Big Wall” came to mind. So I pulled out my kids’ VeggieTales comic book in order to quote this properly.

Now this is Junior talking to the Israelites who are debating whether or not to follow Joshua and march around the city of Jericho.  “I know God’s directions don’t always make sense to us. It didn’t make sense when God told us to walk through the Red Sea. But He brought us across safely. There was no food to eat in the desert, but God gave us Manna to eat. Sometimes God asks us to do things that don’t make sense to us. But His way is the best way.”

The Bible is full of characters obeying the call that most likely made no sense to them.  Can you even imagine being Noah’s wife? Sure, honey a big flood is coming. What about Sarah? Yes God, I believe you will give me a son when I am way beyond my child-bearing age. (I hope you can sense the sarcasm I am typing.) What’s great about these women is they didn’t know the big picture, they couldn’t see it, but they followed their husbands and were obedient to the call.

Ultimately, we are His workmanship. He started a good work in us and is faithful to see it out to completion. Even though we cannot see it, we can trust that God’s way is the best way!

So if there’s an indication light going off for you, pray about it! Talk to a godly person you trust. Take the steps in obedience. Trust God’s plan! His plans are the best plans!

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30) (2 Samuel 22:31)