Putting on a Life of Love (BHLM post 4)

Wow…great chapter!  If you aren’t reading this book, you really should start ASAP.

The first paragraph of this chapter ends with these three sentences in unpacking Ephesians 5:1-2:

“…we’re told we’re God’s beloved children.  We aren’t unwanted foster kids.  No, we’re his very dear children.”

Foster kids hold a special place in my heart* having worked with them at a summer camp for abused and neglected kids for many summers as well as having some as students.  Knowing their intense desire they have to be loved – whether they exhibit that by acting out (sometimes the only way they know to get attention) or clinging to you physically and/or emotionally – it is so sad that I would ever let myself think that God views me as such.  Isn’t it funny how sometimes we, as Christians, put ourselves in that place of status?  We think that we can never earn His love, we’ll never be good enough, we can only get His attention by acting out and/or being perfect…but guess what?  He FIRST loved us.  Not we loved Him so He decided to make us part of His family.

Chapter 9 of Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Because He Loves Me goes on to encourage us to walk in love (per the chapter’s title) but the only way we can do that is if we live out the reality of God’s love for us.  She goes on to say that remembering how we’ve been loved by Christ is key to our actions and putting on thanksgiving.

remembering how we've been loved

What does that look like?  She writes,

“Only the knowledge that we’re already completely righteous before Him will enable us to pursue holy living when our kids rebel, our spouses disrespect us, our employers demote us.  I can respond in love no, in this difficult time, because I’ve been so loved is the only motivation powerful enough to turn self-serving penance into gospelized obedience.” pg. 148

As I was reflecting back on this chapter, I remembered something that my folks put in the staff handbook for the camp for abused and neglected kids that we could use as a resource for kids who wanted to know about God**.  Thankfully, I still have one of these handbooks around and could put my hands on it fairly easily (we just reorganized our filing cabinet!).  The funny thing about this is that for as much as I used it to encourage campers, it has always been a powerful reminder to me of God’s love.  Yes, I told campers how much their Heavenly Father loved them (in contrast to their earthly fathers) but as I spoke those words, I was preaching to myself.  To remind you of God’s love for you, I scanned it – my mom’s label of “Appendix B” and all – and have posted it here for all of [the internet’s] posterity.

My child

If you want/need further reminding of God’s amazing love for you, listen to this song by FFH (the link plays the song twice for some reason but that’s okay)

Long before you took a breath/I took your pain upon my chest

I knew your name, I heard you call/And it was worth it all, you are worth it all

*Ben and I met because of foster kids.  Long long long story – that I will write down someday – but basically my mom recruited him to work at a camp for abused and neglected kids that she and my dad ran (and I worked at) and I fell head over heels for him after watching how he acted with his campers.

**We didn’t push the gospel on kids at this camp.  We simply gave them a week of amazing memories and prayed that someday when faced with a difficult decision, they would choose the way that made them feel the way they felt at camp.  Though we had a Biblical background and used stories from the Bible to tell them that God loved them, there were no altar calls or no forced come-to-Jesus prayer times.  The amazing thing is that this organically brought kids to Christ without us having to do these forward things.  Seeds were planted and some kids did make life changing decisions at camp.  However we, collectively, knew that God would continue watering them and grow them to fruition whether we got to see the fruit or not…

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Not so “Early to Rize”…but that’s ok

Technically I woke up early…

Once at 1:15 am.

Then at 4:27 am.

Again around 6:00 am.

And finally at 7:00 am.

Serafina – 7 months old and newly crawling – has decided to wake up at all hours of the night either from hunger (of which I, of course, indulge her) or from scaring herself because she woke up on her tummy (back to sleep, remember?).  Yeesh…let’s just say this schedule is not exactly conducive to the Early to Rize Challenge (for more on why I spell it differently, check out this post).

All that said, I have definitely been making the most of my mornings.  Today I started leading an online Bible study organized by Good Morning Girls.  Basically, thousands of gals around the world are organized into groups via Facebook, email, Twitter, or in person and we all follow the same reading plan.  Right now we’re going through Luke 9-16 and since it just started today, you can still get going and not be behind!  That’s something I love about it…we only read 9 verses this morning.  Doesn’t sound like much, but it helps me do better on being disciplined each day if it’s a chunk I can actually break off and chew so to speak.  Part of making the most of my mornings, being in the Word definitely helps get my day off to the right start.

Crystal asked who we were going to tell about our early morning success today…why not tell you?  Yes, I didn’t get up until 7:00 but Serafina and I still had a great morning.  I read my Bible reading aloud to her, she pretended to eat breakfast (still doesn’t like solids so she just gnaws on spoons) which I ate mine, and as we each got dressed, I talked through what each piece of clothing in and the colors that were on them.  It’s no wonder my husband thinks I’m crazily talking to myself when he gets home from work each day…no, I’m simply making sure Serafina is fully informed about what’s going on around her!

And to really make the most of my morning, it’s off the computer for me.  I find I get too distracted if I’m on here more than 30 minutes a day…which I am trying to limit to the first 30 minutes of Serafina’s first nap.  So here’s to self-control and discipline to make the most of the rest of my day!

Pinterest, pride, and layers that won’t unmerge

Good morning ya’ll.  Yeah, I’m from the PNW but I’ve got farming-in-the-Midwest in my blood so I am claiming that this morning with the “ya’ll” comment.

Anyways…

Who would you be without the internet?

Geez Louise, why ask this question?  Well, I realized something last night.  Late last night.  As I’m supposed to be challenging myself with the Early to Rize charge from MoneySavingMom.  I find it so funny how God exposes our selfishness and then illuminates our need for Him further by things like today’s entry by Crystal, who is leading us all through Andy Traub‘s book (though I admit I am not going through the book cuz I don’t have an eReader).  Here’s what happened…

One of my bestest (it’s a real word) friends is getting married and we were brainstorming about how we could get our arms in shape to totally rock our strapless dresses this summer (she really doesn’t need the work but who doesn’t feel better about themselves after sticking with a workout “program”?).  What was a Skype conversation turned into a full-scale personal training session for the both of us and we figured out what we could do…but it was so ugly on that Word document so I headed over to PicMonkey and started making a printable.  Because, if you’ve read Bob Goff’s fabulous book, Love Does.  So I started doing…playing with fonts, colors, organizing our random thoughts into something pretty…and then it happened…

I stopped thinking about my friend and started thinking about Pinterest.

I started thinking about how cool I could make this look and how if I pinned it to Pinterest then people might re-pin it and then I might get my name all over the internet (or at least my blog address) or at least something I did would be seen by more than my aunts (love you guys! 😉 ) and a few good friends and my dad and one of his church buds…yada, yada, yada.

I still didn’t see the error of my motives…and that’s when I really buckled down and tried making this a thing of beauty.

And then I was finished.  It was glorious and everything was aligned and the colors all matched and…

THERE WAS A GIANT MISTAKE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PAGE.

If you’ve ever used PicMonkey, you can merge the layers so you don’t keep shoving everything around when you’re moving other pieces.  Well, somewhere the process – and in my haste to make something Pinterest-worthy – I forgot to delete a text box and I had merged the layers.  It was stuck there.  Not moving.  Not going away.  I must have clicked the undo button a billion times to see if I could get back to the merging I had done but guess what?  You can’t unmerge layers.  Too bad, so sad.

How much is that like our lives?  You are who you are, warts and all.  When you desperately want to present your absolute best you – for a job interview, for a first date, whatever – you don’t get to erase all the stuff that makes you who you are (those seemingly giant mistakes right in the middle of your page).  You are just you but you do have the power to present the real you, warts and all but covered in God’s grace.  As Crystal put it in her entry today, “Choose who you will be today.”  Yes, I am selfish and sleep-deprived because I stayed up all night (okay, not all night) making a printable that I had dreams of being tossed around Pinterest like a beautifully fun beach ball at a seaside picnic, but, with God’s grace, I can look past that at the woman He made me to be.  I can choose that and claim that for myself today.  I can still be a loving and patient mama, giving my baby girl my full attention, a caring wife, tidying up the house so my husband can come home to an oasis rather than a pigsty, and an engaged coach, encouraging my rowers to work their hardest and do their best.

So to answer the question…who would I be without the internet?  I certainly wouldn’t think about my blog stats.  I wouldn’t “worry” (totally the wrong word but it’s the closest I could think of) about how many times something I made was getting re-pinned.  I also wouldn’t waste time looking at other people’s lives and wondering why mine can’t be more like theirs.  I also would have been in bed a lot earlier last night.

But I also wouldn’t have the awesome accountability I had through Jan/Feb/Mar with my online Bible study with a FB group.  It was the first time in YEARS (I’m sad to say) that I read the Bible.  Every.  Single.  Day.

I also wouldn’t get to share our precious baby girl with her grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc that are far away.  That alone is a wonderful reason to have the internet.

And I wouldn’t have this awesomely terrible reminder of my selfish humanity…I am prideful and lost focus on the true reason I was making this.  But guess what?  I am not going to remake it to remove the typo – more time lost to something only done to make myself look better which is NOT important.  I’m gonna leave it just as it is and move on with my life.  So I can get to more doing (love does, remember?).

Strapless Dress Workout