Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Double Fours

Today I turned 44.

Not sure how that happened as I'm pretty sure about two years ago I was 32.

Today, God in His grace gave me a beautiful day.

It started with my three kids standing over my bed at 7:15 am with coffee and a toasted English Muffin. I thanked them sincerely and promptly went back to sleep.

When I woke again two hours later I read their homemade cards.

Ryan's said, "The greatest day in history was Jesus' birthday - but your birthday is a close second."

Maggie's said I was the best Mom ever and included a coupon book for free chores, hugs, and back rubs!

Caitlin's gave me credit for taking care of everyone and having a close relationship with God while still looking good.

Dan's card came later, but I'm keeping that one to myself.

Best. Cards. Ever.

Both Dan and I took vacation days and we had perfect weather. We took the kids to Top Golf (I highly recommend it ). It was today's Groupon Now. I love that my daughter Maggie has access to this app on her itouch - which has been replaced for free after she dropped it because it was still under warranty - so I also LOVE Apple's Customer service, but I digress...

So between the twins getting free student memberships for a year through the school's reading program, it being my birthday and having this groupon, four of us played two golf games for $9 and had credit left!

We spent a couple of hours chillin' on the back patio (twins in pool) and then Dan and I got a dinner date alone at Bahama Breeze (another highly recommended place to visit) while my in-laws watched the kids. We sat in their open air section which they play island music and everything seems to slow down to a very relaxing pace. It felt like we were in the tropics for a night.

On the way to the restaurant I had this flashback and remembered 12 years ago when the twins were three weeks old, I had three kids under three and I thought I'd never be alone with my husband again.

Time flies.

I know this is all so temporary. What astonishes me most is that these near perfect days are just the smallest foretaste of heaven.

I am blessed beyond measure.

Even 44 feels good.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Limits

I was on the internet today when an ad popped up for Sprint. Their new sales slogan is "Unlimited."

As in unlimited everything - talk, text, internet, whatever the phone can do, do it all the live-long day. 24/7. 52 weeks a year. No black out dates.

Unlimited as a concept.

And I'm thinking...are you mad?!

No limits?!

What is it about our culture that believes we should be establishing habits that lack all self-control...and that it is somehow a good thing?

Funny, but a complete lack of restraint just doesn't sound like something I want to sign a two year contract for.

My mind flooded with Scriptures that speak to this subject. Galatians Five tells us Self-Control is a fruit of the Spirit. Proverbs 25:28 warns, "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control."

Then there's Titus...

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Titus 2:11-12

And 2 Timothy gets really serious about it...

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:1-4.

I read this and I think, we are in the last days. This is our culture, right now, to a great extent. But verse five really hits it home...

"Have nothing to do with them."

So I think I'll pass on Sprint's latest offer

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Beginnings

Within 48 hours last week, my babies turned twelve and my oldest graduated 8th grade. It was a busy couple of days and so I hadn't thought about it much until I got a call from my son at school asking me to drive his yearbook over so he could get autographs. He had forgotten it at home. No big deal, it was my day off and we're less than three minutes away so I drove it over and brought it into the office.

It had been ten years since my first visit to that room for kindergarten registration for Caitlin and it suddenly occurred to me I may never set foot in the building again.

I sort of lost it.

Contrary to popular opinion amongst my siblings, I am not an overly emotional person. But I cried a little in the midst of those 48 hours while I realized I am now the mother of two junior high students and a high schooler. Everyone starts new in the fall. Actually Caitlin starts new on Wednesday - she's enrolled in a summer school class.

Starting new can be scary. Maybe that's why we don't choose to do it all that often.

I think of myself as someone who adapts fairly easily to change - I'm not a very structured person by nature. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman - "I wouldn't say I'm a planner, I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-kinda-gal - moment-to-moment." I wonder who I've been comparing myself to getting that impression of myself, because when I stopped to think about it, not much has changed in the past couple of decades. Or four.

I've been married to the same man for 21 years. I've had the same hairdresser my entire married life. We've been worshipping at the same church for 22 years. I only switched doctors because mine died. I've subscribed to the U2 fan magazine/website for 28 years and vacationed in Arcadia, Michigan every summer for 32 years. Aside from six months in Alabama in 1992, I have lived under an O'Hare flight path every day of my life. I have always used Crest toothpaste.

Apparently, I don't begin a lot of new things.

That could be why I was blindsided by an emotional outburst over all three of my children starting new schools.

It's easy to understand why they are nervous and not all that excited about these new beginnings. They aren't ready to leave all that is comfortable and familiar. They don't know what to expect.

We were reading in Genesis together the other day about Noah's Ark. Ryan had lots of questions about why God flooded the whole earth and wiped everything and everyone (except for Noah, his family and two of every animal species) off the face of it. We talked about the wickedness of the people and the incredible holiness of God and how grieved He must have been that all of humanity had been so evil except this one man. We also talked about the kind of faith Noah must have had to spend 100 years building an ark to the exact specifications of a God no one else honored.

While he was made fun of.

While there was no sign of rain.

When he had no instructions about what to do after the flood.

God gave Noah a new beginning.

At church right now they are preaching through the book of Ruth. It's only four chapters, but man are they chock full. Naomi left the land of Judah with her husband and two sons and relocated in a foreign land. Her sons married women who weren't of their faith or heritage. Then all three men died. Naomi, which means pleasant, asked to be called "Mara," which means bitter, because she felt the Lord had abandoned her. But she returned to her people and amazingly her daughter-in-law Ruth went with her. Not reluctantly, or even resentfully, rather Ruth clung to Naomi and traveled with her to a foreign land that worshipped a God she didn't know.

And God in His kindness provided for these women. Boaz, a relative of Naomi's, gave them food and eventually married Ruth, literally redeeming her in the process. The Hebrew word used to describe Boaz was "goel" which means "kinsman-redeemer." It's the same word used to describe Jesus Christ. Gone are the days of famine and heartache for Ruth and Naomi. They know who will take care of them and that Boaz is faithful to do it.

Jesus, the most faithful and worthiest of all men, redeems His people from all their sins, past, present and future. He delivers us from death. But to do this, he has to take us out of our old nature. He removes us from everything we know and transports us to a new place. He takes our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh. He gives new life.

That's a new beginning I hope everyone makes.