Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Later, when the pain was starting to get bad, and no, I couldn't have any pain medication because of the hypertension, a nurse came in to check on me. I had really bad back labor and it would ease the contractions if Bobby would rub my back. However, the nurse was a big sports fan as well, and she & my husband decided to stand right over me and carry on a conversation about the Superbowl. Meanwhile, I'm trying to get their attention as the pain is getting unbearable. I finally grabbed Bobby's hand and forcefully put it on my back so he could massage it. Which he did apologetically, while still talking about the football game. Still, I figured, this is what I get for having a baby on "Super Sunday."
Well, I didn't want that ordeal again, so I planned to have my second child during a different season. Sure enough, Josh was to be born in September. Unfortunately for me, we were experiencing a heat wave that summer. When it came time to deliver, I thought, here is a chance for Bobby to redeem himself. Again, I had hypertension and ended up in the hospital to be induced. I didn't want Bobby to spend the night with me in the hospital because we had never left Jay with anyone overnight. He kissed me goodnight at the hospital as they were inducing me, and the doctor had mentioned that I would deliver in the morning because they were doing a slow drip of medicine. I had horrible contractions all night, the sleeping pill they gave me didn't kick in until early the next morning. They woke me up at 6:00 a.m. and broke my water because the doctor had to rush off to do a surgery. As soon as my water broke, I went into heavy labor all by myself in the delivery room. By the time Bobby got to the hospital, it was 9:00 a.m. and my labor was in full swing. I was sweating, laying on my side, holding onto the bed rail (again, no medicine), and Bobby comes walking in, smiling, holding a Hardees bag. He didn't notice that I was in such pain I can't even speak because I was afraid if I opened my mouth, all that would come out would be screaming! He leans over me to give me a kiss, still holding the bag in his hand, and whispers these now famous words in my ear..."I got you a biscuit". When I didn't answer him, he looked at me a little more carefully and then asked "are you in labor?" Let me just say...this made discussing the Superbowl wwwaaaayyy better! We laugh about it now and whenever I tell this story around Bobby, he always adds that at least he got to eat my biscuit.
1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.
Preparing for the Birth
1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
2nd baby: You don't bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn't do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.
1st baby: You pre-wash your newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?
1st baby: At the first sign of distress - a whimper, a frown-you pick up the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.
3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.
1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby's bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.
1st baby: You change your baby's diapers every hour, whether they need it or not.
2nd baby: You change their diaper every 2 to 3 hours, if needed.
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.
1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, BabySwing, and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.
1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home 5 times.
2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.
3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.
1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
2nd baby: You spend a bit of everyday watching to be sure your older child isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.
1st child: when first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand x-rays.
2nd child: when 2nd child swallows a coin, you carefully watch for coin to pass.
3rd child: when 3rd child swallows a coin you deduct it from his allowance!!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
My mom went to a Baptist church as a child, but we grew up in a Methodist church. My parents raised us to be christians or followers of Christ, so we never minded about denominations. In my later years I went to a non-denominational church, then to an Assemblies of God, now I'm in an international church that is part of the Every Nation Denomination. It really doesn't matter to me about the denomination, as long as I feel the Lord leading me there. I am NOT however, a Unitarian, or someone who thinks that all roads (religions) lead to Heaven, because they absolutely do not.
I think besides some small doctrinal differences, the main thing that distinguishes these churches from one another is the style of worship. I have seen people who barely sing out loud, who like to follow the hymnal, I've experienced worship where they feel free to lift their hands toward Heaven, I've also been in churches where they danced out in the aisle. I heard praise & worship on the harp, the flute, the violin, the drums, the electric guitar, with a praise team, with a choir, with a soloist leading worship, and I've been in conferences where there is no music, just the sound of thousands of women singing in unison to the Lord. I know that people have their preferences, and I honestly love a little bit of everything. I would NEVER presume that the style of worship that I enjoy is the RIGHT way to do it. You'd be surprised, this is the kind of thing that divides congregations & births denominations in the first place. Isn't some of the man made divisions, when it boils down to it, just about our personal preferences? Does anyone care to find out what God actually enjoys?
You see, I too had a brief moment this weekend where I thought, this is too much stuff. Why can't these people just quiet themselves down and enjoy God's presence. Why do they have to "dress it up" with all the props? Then I felt convicted as I looked at the people praising the Lord and I was reminded that not everyone comes to God in the same package as I did. People are all wired so differently, and what works for me, may not be what works for someone else. So, what is the common denominator that God is looking for?
I had to ask myself - is the name of Jesus being lifted up? Yes. Is their worship all about show, or do they seek to honor the King of kings? They were pointing to Jesus, not themselves. And this is only what I can see on the outside. Here is the true test, what's in their heart? The Bible says that no man can know what's in another person's heart, except that spirit within them. But God is spirit, and He is all knowing. It says in 1st Samuel 16:7 "...the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." He knows what is going on in our hearts at all times. He knows if our worship is in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) "...when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him."
That's what the Lord desires, that our worship, in whatever style we do it, will be in spirit and in truth. Not for others to see, not to feel better about ourselves, not to show off any talent we have, not to appear to be holy, not to go through some religious motion...but because we want to lift up the name of Jesus and give Him the honor He deserves.
Isaiah 58:13 says "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourselves in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of Lord has spoken."
This is what I think is the most important thing to remember about going to Church. Honor the Sabbath as holy, a delight, doing things His way, finding out what pleases Him, and speaking His Word and not our own...worship in spirit and in truth, and who will really care if it's to hard rock music, or on a harp, an electric guitar, a violin, a piano or an organ?. . .
Friday, September 25, 2009
Look in Mark 4 at the "Parable of the Sower." This parable talks about the kind of soil (heart) that the seed (Gospel/Message) can fall on. In vs. 19 it says "and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." Okay, so we're not actually the ones being choked, it's the Word coming to us that is being choked, but the result is the same. If you have a garden with good seed, but it is sown among thorns (vs. 7), the thorns grow up and choke the seed and it doesn't produce a crop. In the same way, these specific things choke the Word in us from having any affect in our lives and cause us to be unfruitful.
Things that choke the Word (Mark 4:19):
1. Cares of this world
- family issues
- health problems
- social injustice
2. Deceitfulness of riches
- coveting money (thinking if you have it, all your problems will go away)
- when wealth makes you too self-sufficient (don't recognize your need for God)
- thinking money will fill the void in your life as opposed to a relationship with Jesus
3. Desire for other things
- desire for power
- acceptance (fear of man more than God)
- a "grass is always greener" attitude, never satisfied with what you have
- "fill in the blank" - it could be anything that we put before God and thus make an idol out of it - where that thing you desire, may not be bad in and of itself, but your need for it overwhelms your desire for God.
Why am I bringing this up today in relation to my feeling depressed? The answer is, like I said, depression is when I don't trust God and keep Him at his Word. Instead, I am letting the cares of this life, this world that is only temporary, dictate how I think, feel and act.
2nd Cor. 5:7 says "we walk by faith and not by sight" - so here is the choice I must make...
- I can walk by what I see and believe that I have problems that can't be fixed, I have family issues that are never going to get better, I have health problems that will only get worse, I have too much to handle and I might as well give up...
- OR I can walk by faith in God's Word that says I am forgiven, I am blessed, I am protected, I am provided for, I have an inheritance in Heaven, I have a purpose on earth, I am not alone, God is for me, not against me...you get the picture.
I know what choice I'm going to make today - how about you?
He once played a trick on his brother-in-law who he knew had been having trouble with the neighbors cat coming in his yard. Bobby called Donald up and pretended to be from the Animal Protection Society (APS). He said there had been reports of Donald shooting at the neighbors cat (which was not true). He had him in an uproar thinking he was in big trouble because Bobby said the next time they received such a report, they would come and arrest him. It wasn't until he started laughing that Donald knew he'd been had.
I was always a little suspicious of each telephone call. When I worked at an architectural firm, he would pretend to be a customer wanting someone to build him a dog house? When I worked in the chiropractic office, he'd call and ask if someone could please walk on his back. So one day, I was at home and I got a call from someone asking about selling their home (my husband is a Realtor). This person's voice was so peculiar, I knew it was Bobby trying to trick me. I began to speak very sarcastically in a rude tone of voice. The man on the phone didn't let up, so I kept up with the charade. I'm embarrassed to say that it turned out to be a real client! I immediately tried to make up for my behavior by being super nice and helpful. What else could I do? I wasn't about to admit to the client that I acted inappropriately because I'm so used to my crazy husband playing jokes on me. Afterward I called Bobby to tell him what happened, and of course he thought it was funny.
I truly believe that Caller ID was inspired by God to keep Bobby from harassing me any further.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
If you have time, read the entire chapter of Isaiah 61 because it's just that good. However, let me point out some key Scriptures that will help you with a heavy heart. (I will be using the notes from my "Spirit Filled Life Bible" NKJ version, as well as my own comments)
Isaiah 61 is talking about the "Good News of Salvation" - so remember, no matter what's going on in your life today, you always have "good news", just think about your salvation. After all, the word Gospel means good news. Right away, the chapter declares what Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit to do - vs. 1 "He came to heal the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom to the captives (those in sin)..." In vs. 3 it says "He will comfort all who mourn (not just at a funeral, but talking about feeling sorry for your sins, repentance). He will give them beauty for ashes (burns from life's pain and trials), AND the oil of joy for mourning (oil of joy represents the Holy Spirit).
I want to focus on the end of vs. 3 where it says "the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..." The first thing that sticks out to me about this verse is that heaviness is described as a "spirit". (notes from NKJ "the spirit of heaviness refers to discouragement. It is to be replaced by an abundant life, the garment of praise. Many see in this text, the power of worship-filled praise to cast off oppressive works of darkness.") So we see that God gave us a garment of praise to fight off a spirit of heaviness. That's the answer! Praising God, even when you don't feel like it, drives a heavy heart away. Praise transforms you from the inside out. Here is what the NKJ notes from my bible said: "The glorious garment of praise: the Hebrew root for garment ('atah) shows praise as more than a piece of clothing casually thrown over our shoulders. It literally teaches us to 'wrap' or 'cover' ourselves - that the garment of praise is to leave no openings through which hostile elements can penetrate. This garment of praise repels and replaces the heavy spirit. This special message of instruction and hope is for those oppressed by fear or doubt. 'Put on this garment. A warm coat from our closet only resists the cold wind when it is 'put on'". Isaiah 61:10 also talks about garments - "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness." I love this last line from the NKJ notes - "when distressed, be dressed - in the garment of praise!" That is my new motto.
If you'd like further proof from Scripture as to why praise works to fend off heaviness....then you are stubborn (just kidding). Let's look at these Scriptures:
Psalm 16:11 "...in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 22:3 "But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel" (Israel represents God's people, which now includes all those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior) NKJ notes says "Since God is enthroned in the praises, worship is the key to entering fully into His presence. The concept here is that praise releases God's glory, thus bringing to the worshipers actualized responses to His kingly reign..." You might have also heard this Scripture paraphrased as "God inhabits the praises of His people" (this might be the King James version ???)
Nehemiah 8:10 "...do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength".
I use these 3 Scriptures to show that God fellowships with you when you praise Him. (in His presence = fullness of joy) As a result of His presence, joy comes; as a result of joy, we get strength. It's like a spiritual math equation.
So let's look at what gifts God has given us to overcome the spirit of heaviness. He gave us a garment of praise. If we praise Him, His presence comes to us, and as His presence comes, we also receive strength.
We have all that we need to overcome a spirit of heaviness, if we choose to activate it. This is where the hard part is, the walking it out portion. We have to follow the example left by King David, who was described in the Bible as "a man after God's own heart". Listen to what David said in Psalm 42:11 "why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." David is talking to his own soul (mind, emotions, will) and he commands it to hope in God. He goes on to say that God helps his countenance. David was a champion of trusting & hoping in God in the midst of many trials. He was a warrior, but I am willing to say rather confidently, that his ability in battle was not what made him "a man after God's own heart"; more than likely, it was because he knew how to worship with all of us heart. (see 2nd Samuel 6:14 "...then David danced before the Lord with all his might...")
Here is our to-do list (when we feel heaviness trying to creep in):
1. Let us command our soul to put our hope in God. (Psalm 42:11)
2. Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3)
3. Allow God's presence to bring joy, & let the joy of the Lord be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
4. Watch that heavy spirit flee!
Monday, September 21, 2009
First, you have the Goof Off - this person thinks that life is all about fun & entertainment. They don't know how to handle difficult situations and NEVER want to talk about anything deep. This type of person wouldn't be caught dead in a sad movie, or any circumstances in which they might cry in front of someone. They just like to laugh. Unfortunately, sometimes for the Goof Off, the need to laugh is a cover up for some hidden hurts and deep insecurities. When life gets tough, it's hard for them to cope, because circumstances don't always allow for happiness. The Goof Off personality needs to know that you can always have joy, which is found only in Jesus.
Secondly, you have the Fun Buster. You've all seen someone like this (hopefully not when you look in the mirror). It's the person like SNL's Debbie Downer (see the video clip), the person who is full of negativity, that just sucks the life right out of a room. Or, the Fun Buster could also be the "fun police". The person who thinks it's their God given gift to "police & monitor" other people's sense humor, as it lines up with their own. Only problem is, their own sense humor is basically non-existent! The Fun Buster needs to learn that it's the Holy Spirit's job to convict people of sin, not their often made-made, legalistic lifestyle that dictates what is acceptable. Also, they need to learn that even though there are desperate situations in life, all kinds of trials & trouble, as well as much work to be done as Christians, no one wants to follow Christ if the only example they have is a weary, depressed, legalistic, pessimistic, fearful person who says "you need to get saved like me". Their answer will emphatically be, "no thanks".
And last, but absolutely not least, you have the Balanced personality. This is someone who has a healthy balance between enjoying life, but knowing when to be serious. A person who experiences both happiness (when life is good), but demonstrates joy (when things are tough). It's also a balance between holy laughter, and the way the world sees humor. To them, humor is never funny if it's dirty or offensive. It is always mindful of God's holiness, and doesn't laugh at others expense in a hurtful way. The balanced person is especially good at being able to laugh at themselves. Not taking offense or becoming insecure when you mess up or you find yourself in the middle of an embarrassing situation. Most of all, it is individuals who understand that God created laughter, as well as tears, and who want to represent Christ to the unbeliever in a way that would make them want to follow Him like they do - they are contagious Christians!
I have to be honest, I have been all three types at one time or another in my life. I am happy to report that God has done such a work in my life, that I am much more of a "balanced person" in this area than I've ever been. I say like the Apostle Paul, "...not that I have obtained it yet, but I press on toward the goal, to win the prize in Christ Jesus" (serious paraphrase, I didn't have my Bible handy, sorry)
So, don't be a Goof Off, a Fun Buster or Fun Police, but go out and be a contagious Christian as you are filled with joy & happiness and demonstrate how Balanced you are today!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Here's a little history of what's going on, to shed some light on my day. My husband is in the process of changing careers. He's been in real estate for over 16 years, and I don't need to tell anyone how real estate has been doing in this economy. He's taking courses to sell insurance, so he's been studying everyday & night for a month now. He has a test on Friday and the State exam on Tuesday. The stress level in my house is very high right now. I worked part-time last year to help supplement his income, but I haven't been working since June. Times are tight to say the least. My son Jay came home from school yesterday sick, my other son, Josh, started running a slight fever tonight. And folks, this is really just the tip of the iceberg of some of the stuff that has been going on in our lives for the past year. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a downer. I am optimistic by nature. That's why I say "this was just one of those days" when it seemed like it was all piling up. I'm sure some of you can probably relate. I also know that I have much to be thankful for, and there are always those who have it much worse.
So, I had to consider my options. I could be stressed & angry and take it out on my kids (been there done that before). But they were sick, so that seemed unproductive. I could yell at my husband and make him the bad guy in this thing called our life together, but that would be like shooting myself in the foot. I could go to my room and throw the covers over my head and tell everyone to leave me alone...but I have to be the grown up (somebodies got to be, right?) I could go spend my last dollar on a lottery ticket and then fast & pray that God would see fit to make me a winner (don't judge me, I'm sure some of you have fantasized about how you'd bless the Kingdom of God if you could just having the winning ticket!) I could wear a mask on my face, live in fear, and not allow my kids to kiss me goodnight because I was afraid they'd give me what they've got (but I love my little guys way to much to ever turn down a kiss & hug goodnight). Or...I could pray, choose to have joy, and spend the night playing games with my kids, having a family movie night (minus Bobby who had to study), and then spend time laughing together after we said our prayers, as my two boys sing a ridiculous song and laugh so hard they turn red in the face. Which is exactly what I did.
Can I just say that watching their little faces laughing so hard, being so silly, even when they don't feel their best, just makes my heart skip a beat. Something about being childlike makes you get your priorities straight. Even now, my husband has taken a break from studying and is in the family room watching the trailer for Tyler Perry's new movie, and he's laughing his head off. If you just hear him laugh, regardless if you've seen or heard something funny, you will join him, because his laugh is truly contagious. It makes me smile. The Bible says "many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all". How we act while we're waiting on Him to deliver us, is our choice. But given the options, it seems pretty clear to me what the obvious choice should be. Now God please give me the grace to choose wisely.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I wanted this blog to be filled with things that make people laugh and bring them joy. I know with everything going on in the world these days, both in our nation, as well as in our own individual lives, it is easy to get caught up in the negative. We're often so busy and serious, or so bogged down with the burdens of life, that we not only stop laughing & having fun, but we let the cares of this life steal our joy. To have true joy, we can be at peace & content even in the midst of great trials. I know this not just spiritually & intellectually, but I know this from experience.
The good news is when we turn our eyes back on Jesus, and focus on Him, we begin to feel the joy of His presence. Then we are on our way to experiencing freedom from the bondage & burdens that have weighed us down. What do people do when they have been held captive and all of a sudden they are free? They celebrate! They are filled with joy & laughter. Just look at the story in Psalm 126 - the Jewish people had been in captivity in Babylon for over 70 years. Now they are being set free and in Psalm 126:1-3 it says "When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad."
Let's all stop looking at our problems, being entangled in sin & heavy burdens. Let's lift our eyes up to Jesus, the Author & perfecter of our faith and let the joy of His presence be our strength. Then we'll be as those who are set free, and our mouths will be filled with laughter & we'll sing and celebrate, and remember the goodness of our God.
May you all be filled with joy AND happiness!