Thursday, October 4, 2012

What does love look like?

My dear friend, Peter, told me once that he learned a lot about God through his children and boy was he right. Just last week, I attended my new small group bible study. Our opening question asked if we've seen what love looks like in action lately. What does it look like? I have to say I was stumped. Love in action? Sadly I can't put my finger on it. Then half way into the evening I thought of my son. He has these blue craft pom poms that he loves. These have been the cheapest and most versatile "toy" he plays with. We have contest as to who can throw the most blue balls into the cup. They are "cargo" for his firetruck and trains. They are "groceries" for the pretend shopping cart. For something so small, they are well loved by my son. One day he comes up to my husband and says (with tears in his eyes) that he wants to mail some blue balls to his cousin in CT. Due to the distance and custody arrangements, we don't get to see my nephew often. Amazingly, this has not hindered my son's love for his cousin. And he loves his cousin so much he was willing to part with one of his favorite items. As simple as the gesture was, I saw sacrificial love in action. My son was willing to give up something of his for the love of his cousin.

Didn't God show us sacrificial love?
I John 3:16 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

How can we to respond?
I John 3:16-18 - ... And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  Wow.   What a great reminder that we are meant to be agents of God's love.  He has set before us the ultimate example in Christ Jesus.  Love generously.  Don't sit idle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Childlike faith

Me: Do you love me?
Son: I love you 100,000
Me: That's pretty big. How about daddy?
Son: I love daddy 100,063 (giggle)
Me: You have to love me more. I made you.
Son: No you didn't... God made me!

Doh... trumped by a 4 yr old.

God made us. My husband and I giggled at how my son won the argument with that simple truth. I was in awe of how convicted my son was with the statement. "God made me!" He knew it as the truth and somehow my husband and I skimmed passed it. I was humbled by that reminder.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." -Psalm 139:14

Lord, I am so thankful that you've made me and loved me as I am. Thank you for these little unexpected reminders... how sometimes it takes childlike faith to see You and your kingdom more clearly.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Being filled with thanksgiving

This year I wanted to observe Lent in two ways. One is to fast from something I don't need in my life, to practice some discipline, and to be reminded how Jesus has resisted sin and temptations to be the blameless sacrifice for us. Second, I wanted to be mindful of the blessings God has placed in my life. I want to acknowledge those blessings, those joys that I experience so that I can give my appreciation back to God. There are enough stresses to rob us of our joy. I choose to dwell in the joy.

Family - I am so thankful for my family. Specifically, I am thankful for my father who has been a blessing to us. We were uncertain how the living arrangement would be like. Thankfully it has gone smoothly. He has driven my son around for pre-school, dressed/fed him, and entertained an active little boy for over a year. He is not intrusive in our household. He respects our privacy and does not ask for much even though we've been through 6 months of various renovations at the house. But what fills me with joy is the love he has for my son. After a long holiday weekend, I expected my dad would relax and settled in his apartment. But after seeing my son on the couch watching a video, my father came out just to sit with my boy. No playing or talking, just being together. And the sight of it just warmed my heart. So thank you God, for my father. Not just for the help he has provided but for the genuine love relationship between grandson and grandfather.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trying to Save Yourself

I know it's only February but we've already started thinking about swimming this summer. Why wait until summer to learn when you can start now. Luckily my local school has a public pool. What a great idea. I'll get home after a long day of work, after my hour long commute, shove all my swim gear in a bag, grab a quick snack, and drag my 4yr old to the pool for a quick "lesson". I brought a kick board and arm floaties. My son will be kicking around independently in no time. Perhaps my expectations were a little too high. So let me tell you what actually happened.

I'm go into the warm pool. "Ok honey. Come to mommy."
"Umm... I don't want to. I want to go home." I just spent all this effort to get here, I'm so not going home.
"This is going to be fun. Just come for a little bit." He reluctantly gets into the pool.
"I want to go home."
"In a little bit, mommy's going to walk us around in the pool."

I imagined this would be fun and relaxing except my son has a choke hold on my neck and vice grip legs around my mid-section. Well we're not going to get any swimming done in this state. Luckily, some other kids are now entering the pool, emitting an aura of confidence as they wade, swim, and leap into the pool. Too bad that choke hold hasn't loosen up yet. Maybe I should switch tactics.

I walk us over to the shallow 3 ft end. I try to peel my boy an inch from my body when he starts to frantically kick and doggy paddle. I tell myself this is okay. It's a natural reflex to try to save yourself. But panic is not helping our "lesson". Maybe if I help him feel safe. Maybe if he realizes he's not going to sink with me holding him, he'll relax... a bit.

"Sweetie... stop moving for a second. Mommy has you and you're safe."
"Good job. See... I'm holding you and you're safe. Can you try to touch the floor with your toes?"

It's 3 ft at the shallow end and I have a very tall 4 year old. This should give him some confidence. Except... he panics and starts to put the choke hold on me again. There he goes trying to save himself again. I know he can touch the bottom with no problem. If only he would trust me enough to try it. I know he'll feel more confident and relaxed if he knew he could stand up in the pool. Past experience has shown me that once he has that confidence he'll be asking me to let go of him. Then I'm the one with panic in her eyes making sure he's well supervised and safe.

This is no lesson on how to teach your child how to swim. I'm obviously not a swim instructor. But as expected, once my son gained some confidence I was able to lead him around the pool without any problems. I didn't think much about the whole swimming session until our Wednesday night bible study. We were talking about trusting and obeying God. Our first instinct is probably to ask "Why? Why do you want me to do this God?" It's pretty hard to just trust and obey. Then J mentioned how nice it would be if her kids would obey her first, ask questions later. She would give them the explanation but it would be nice to have them obey first. I immediately thought of the swim session. I wanted so much for my son to trust me about being able to touch the ground. I knew his limits and I had him safe in my arms the entire time. I was trying to teach him a new skill. I was trying to build his confidence. I wanted him to have fun. But it couldn't happen without his trust first.

Then it hits me. Oh, how often have I been this way with God. How often has He asked me to try something, to step out of my comfort zone? "Should I talk to that stranger who seemed to be having a bad day? Should I ask them to church?" How often has He asked me to trust and obey so that he could build me up only to hear me say no. "I don't know if I have time time to help that person this weekend. I would help with that ministry but I just don't have the time for it." How often have I panicked and tried to save myself not realizing God has me in His grip all along. "Everything will be fine if I can just fix this." All I had to do was be still and feel His presence around me. "Thank you, Almighty God, for being in control. Thank you for carrying me through these trials." It may be scary to step out in faith, but I pray we'll grow to trust and obey God more. For His kingdom, it will always be worth it.