Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Fun

We're having so much fun having Shelly and Piper for a visit right now!! Sure miss that friend.

And here are some snapshots from an Easter egg hunt at my aunt Joy's house and then more on Easter day:

Other quick updates - We're still staying busy. It seems we've been having lots of company lately, and I'm loving that. I have a few (very frugal) decorating projects I'm working on right now, so hopefully I'll soon have pictures to post. Our community group has started a new series that Joel and I are so excited about - The Peasant Princess sermon series from Mark Driscoll. It's a series he preached on Song of Solomon, and we're anticipating great discussion on the topic of marriage within our group, as the husbands and wives meet separately each time our group meets to talk deeply about some of the issues of marriage that often go untalked-about in the church. And the biggest thing in our family's life right now is that Parker Jane is taking steps! I have an almost-walking child! I'm sooo not ready to have a preschooler and a TODDLER! Didn't I just have a baby a few weeks ago?? Her walk is the cutest thing ever. For one thing, she's so short that it looks pretty funny to see her move those legs. And if you ever saw her crawl, you'll know she moves very delicately. She has a very dainty walk too! We've got to get some video of this soon. It might be next year....poor second child.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Serving Like Jesus, Part Two

I started a post a couple weeks ago all about how nice it feels now that the big wedding is over to have a cleared calendar (ha!) and no major time commitments hanging over my head, and then I wasn't able to finish it because my days been so occupied. Funny how that works. I was thinking this morning about that though and realizing how right that probably is. I think God works that way. Sometimes we need to free ourselves and our schedules up enough to be ready for whatever He wants to surprise us with. I really believe He clears our calendars only to fill them back up with what HE wants us to be doing. The disciplines of solitude and stillness are vital to the Christian journey, but in Scripture you always see Jesus' times of solitude followed very closely by opportunities to serve people. His very last one of these times alone with the Lord (and a quite intense one, I might add) took place right before He went to work for us on the cross. It should be the same for us, that those quieter times are always about heart preparation for the action that is to come. We are all led to different actions, of course, but I think God is pretty clear with us about what the life of following Christ really should look like (Matthew 10:38-39, Mark 10:43-45, 1 Peter 2:21, John 21:17, Luke 19:10). I don't think He ever intended it to be all leisure. Our lives are clearly intended for purposes greater than ourselves, so it shouldn't be all that surprising that God wants me busy enough to be impacting lives and modeling Him. But I admit, sometimes I'm surprised by it. Sometimes I just plain forget what He wants from me. Just as I can crowd out His plans by making too many of my own and filling up my schedule too fast and staying busier than I need to be, I also find that I pridefully congratulate myself during those times when I have cleared my schedule - only to be hit with the conviction that I've cleared it for me and my own agenda and relaxation. I've found that any decision or effort or action can easily slip into the form of an idol. What a delicate line there is between unnecessary busyness and just plain idleness. I find that I can slide so easily between the two without even realizing what has happened.

I do think that the balance is found only through daily surrender and readiness. And I want to get there. I want to wake up each day with a real desire to serve wherever I'm needed, regardless of what it is. I want to daily have that attitude that is seeking needs that the Lord desires to meet through me. From what I've seen so far in Scripture and in studying Jesus' example of servanthood, just being willing to have my plans changed isn't enough. That flexibility is a good thing, and I would like to see that more consistently in my life. But I'm starting to understand that it wouldn't be enough. A heart wouldn't look like Jesus' in this area if I wasn't being more proactive in directing my day's activities towards others and their needs. Am I making His plans my own in the first place? Am I actively trying to seek out ways to serve?? I don't think I want to answer that out loud.

So, yes, I have been busy the last few weeks. But a different kind of busy. I don't have long-terms plans or those big events you put on your calendar way in advance and anticipate for a long time before. Nothing wrong with those, I just don't have any of them right now. It's a weird place to be. I don't remember ever being in this place actually. Most of my married life has been filled with a lot of anticipating, planning, and expecting of children to be added to our home, and now that I'm not looking towards that (for the first time ever!), I'm in more of a day-to-day living, not knowing what's next in life, type of place. Things are just happening day by day. And what I'm finding is that when you do live more in the present and you are actively pursuing how you can be used "just today" every day, amazingly, He uses you!! There are a lot of needs around us right now. Lots of really heavy needs. It can get overwhelming, honestly. But it's definitely driven me to spend more time at Jesus' feet, finding refreshment there. Prior to these last several weeks, my time in the Word had become more task-oriented than relationally-driven, and these random serving opportunities around me are certainly pushing me out of that dryness as I'm learning that spiritual activity not motivated out of love is NOT going to produce what is needed for me to be able to do all this stuff and serve like I'm called to! But I've always been a slow learner with these spiritual lessons. Oh, the patience of God.

Another blessing this "new" busyness has brought is that it's caused me to reexamine what God wants for me, in terms of personal ministry. I've been seeking direction on where to serve? Who do I serve? What gifts do I use where? Am I neglecting my gift? Am I using it where it's most needed? When opportunities to minister and serve others are popping up all over, you realize quickly that you can't do it all. You have to decide what are the best things to be doing and stick to them. And only the Lord can show me what those are for me. So I've been in a refining process concerning those things, and I am excited because I feel like God is really speaking to my heart about these questions I have. He's giving me glimpses into what my main focuses of ministry should be right now, both day-to-day and in those situations where some longer-time commitments are necessary, and I'm getting excited about the new things to come! I'm still in conversation with Him about it, so maybe I'll share more about where He's leading at a later time. But I am reminded that it's less about the details of serving than it is about the heart of serving. Sometimes I try too hard to understand spiritual gifts. It can get really confusing trying to figure all of that out - what our gifts really are, natural abilities vs. spiritual gifts, when exactly the gift comes, etc. The Bible isn't especially clear about all of it. But the Bible is clear on the importance of intentionally serving. The goal of following Christ doesn't come without practical guidance and lots of examples from His life. So, to me it seems like God is more interested in me just doing it than in me understanding all of the hows and whys of it. I think as I obey the call to serve, He will reveal more of what I need to know about it. But for some reason, I've spent most of my life trying to know more about it so that I can do it. The problem with that is that I end up not doing it a lot.

So I'm in transition, and I don't know what life is going to look like tomorrow. Or even later today. And it's weird. But it's really good too. I'm ok with it. I've never quite lived like this before. And no doubt my natural tendencies will pull me towards selfish living every single day. I'm just hoping that writing about it now will compel me a little more to put it into action, and I hope I come out looking just a little more like Jesus.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Somebody Likes Eyeshadow!

Is this a guilty face or what?!?Parker got into my make-up when I stepped out of the room this morning. Apparently, she likes blue.

In case you've been wondering, my hands are FULL!