Bedtime Questions

Mommy, why does the bible call me a sheep?

I kiss soft cheeks good night and tuck little feet under covers, the room dimly lit by the glow of the light coming from the hallway. In this place I hear deep questions uttered from the mouths of my boys.

“Mommy, why does the bible call me a sheep?”

I see light come to his eyes with the next questions. “Does this mean that sheep are really special? They are really smart right?” The confounded look he had with the very first question was replaced with a knowing smile, he thought he had figured it out! ‘Sheep must be a worthy, special, intelligent, animal, right?!?’

I breath a deep sigh as I think about how I will answer this question, for this question is deeper than he realizes.

But first! Before, we get to the picturesque moment of sweet boys tucked comfortably in their beds, you need the bigger picture, you need the context, and for this we need to back up 15 to 20min.

This place is chaos, peace is a stranger here. This place contains the bickering over who brushes their teeth first, or if someone got more dessert. It’s a two year old disappearing to who knows where because he loves being found. It’s yelling at them to stop jumping on the beds. It’s children’s feet pounding on the hardwood, belly laughing while they run with no clothes on. The night sky may be cloudy, but there are plenty of moons out, running through the upstairs of the house.It’s tired parents trying to wrangle children who have found a second wind the minute the word bedtime is spoken. The level of crazy varies from night to night. But it’s usually there to some degree.

However after the crazy, the “quiet” turns their minds to talking about everything, from  farts, to questions like “Why are there homeless people? Why can’t we give them houses and food, so they don’t have to be homeless anymore?”

After teeth are brushed, pajamas are on, and they are in the right bed… my brain is tired. Deep thinking is not convenient.  The couch and a bowl of my favorite ice cream is calling my name. Idleness is what I crave when the house gets quiets.

But as I have come to realize, you never know when God is going to call you to attention, it’s most often not what we expect or when we consider it convenient.

I clear my head, and as I look at my son, I chuckle. “Ok, Let’s talk about sheep…. and no, they are not super smart…”

Sheep… Let me share these couple tidbits I found on the internet!

If a sheep rolls over onto its back, it may not be able to get up without assistance, according to the Sheep101 website. A fallen sheep is called a “cast” sheep. They can become distressed and if they are not rolled back into a normal position within a short period of time they will die. When back on their feet, they may need to be supported for a few minutes to ensure they are steady.

  • Live Science.com

 

(What? For real??)

 

Sheep are frequently thought of as unintelligent animals. Their flocking behavior and quickness to flee and panic can make shepherding a difficult endeavor for the uninitiated.

  • Wikipedia

 

OK, so there are more nice things to say about the usefulness of sheep on the internet as well. But these made me laugh, and they also talk about the nature of sheep and how they respond to certain things.

We see here that sheep are not considered smart animals. They can’t defend themselves against their predator’s, they are prone to wander, quick to flee in a panic, and when flipped on their back they get completely stuck in their predicament until help comes… or death…

They need a shepherd to make sure they are protected, to stay with the herd, to be led to pastures that have enough food and a place with water.

If I was going to be compared to an animal, a sheep wouldn’t be my first choice.

I understand why my boys are confused with the Sunday school song “I just want to be a sheep… baa baa baa..”

They would much rather be a cheetah, a horse, a wolf, maybe a dog… but a sheep?? The wheels in their brain spin trying to figure out why God would ever compare them to a sheep?!

Oh, how even in our young minds we cling to the understanding that we have done something to be special! That we are “awesome” enough to be worthy of God’s love and attention.

Let’s take a look at one of the scripture passages that got this whole conversation started in the first place.

 

John 10:7-18

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.  The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

 

When we take a closer look here, it has nothing to do with the sheep and their awesome skills.

The focus isn’t on who the sheep are.

The focus is on the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd, and on the character of the Shepherd.

The focus is on how much the Shepherd loves the sheep and the lengths that He will go to care for them, and to bring those home that are not in His sheep pen yet.

The focus is on the Good Shepherd’s voice, and how the sheep know his voice.

And so, though the Bible calls us sheep, these helpless, stubborn and ridiculous animals, it does not leave us without a Shepherd.

We have a shepherd that sees us with our faults, our flaws. He sees us with our hearts that are so prone to wander from the good pastures in search of someplace ‘better’. He sees us when we get stuck in the muck of life and become overwhelmed and start to panic.

He sees us in the wilderness of certain death, and he hunts us down and carries us home.

He doesn’t hunt us down because of our special behavior in the wilderness, he doesn’t come running for us because we deserve it, or because we have won His approval.

He comes running for us because He is the Good Shepherd, because He chose to love us with this crazy love. With a love that dies for underserving sinners like me.

He has brought me, the underserving sinner into His pasture. He calls me His own, and leads me to life and not just life, but a life of abundant love and grace and mercy and care.

Just because He loves me.

We know His voice. The reason we know the Good Shepherds voice, is all because of Jesus, who laid down His life for us, the sheep. When He died on that cross and took our punishment, He gave us life. Jesus is the gate that we enter through into His pasture by grace. Because of Jesus we can now be called children of God, and children know their Fathers voice.

So… at bedtime when I am tired, when the timing seems inconvenient, and I don’t think I will be able to find the right words. Here God invites me to share of His goodness, His grace with my children. Even here in this conversation I continue to see how the Good Shepherd pursues us, He is always at work, bringing in His lost ones, tending to us and loving us, His sheep.

We are special.

Not special because we are so awesome. But because God has made us so.

 

 

I Need a Nap!

It’s November now. I wrote this in August. Before we were expecting #6! It’s been a while now. Sorry!!! But here it is anyway!

~

It’s a beautiful Tuesday afternoon in August. And to be honest Daniel and I need a break. Maybe not necessarily a date night or a weekend away. But a brake from the schedule, a break from work, a break from the kids. I “need” a break from Elijah.

My little(one year old) Elijah has been sick. He requires so much physical attention. This past week, he needed day and night attention. He is also going through a shy phase, which means he is hardly going to anyone besides his daddy and of course me. While Elijah may be the most taxing, my other four also need plenty of attention.

I want a break.

So this afternoon I said no to the splash park, I said no to catching up on things in the house, I said no to making sure the boys are getting in their daily reading and I ditched the to do list this afternoon.

I am letting both of us(Daniel and I) take a break.

What does that mean??? Daniel is playing on his computer, Judah is on the old computer playing next to Daniel. Asher, Caleb and Silas are watching the Disney channel. And I took Elijah with me. We are sitting in the nursery at church where I have the AC blasting(it’s like 100 degrees outside),and Elijah is playing with “new” toys in a room he can’t escape. As for me, I am sitting with an iced coffee writing this blog post. Right now this is a break. I might even order some cheap Chinese take out for dinner. I need to breath today. And I am refusing to feel guilty about it!

Now when I say I said “no” to those different things. The only person I actually had to say “no” to, was myself. I love to go, go, go and I have a hard time remembering that it’s fine to let certain things “go”. Being a mom in this big family teaches me everyday that things can’t be perfect! Just last week at church the kids were totally squirrelly on me and numerous people encouraged me after the service that, it was just fine, that’s just kids. I train them the best I can but, they are little humans that have little personality’s. Sometimes without them knowing it, they gang up on me and it all falls to chaos! And you know what, it is ok. And I’m thankful to have people that remind me that it’s ok.

But I have an issue with saying “no” to myself and taking a rest.

I was putting Elijah down for a nap the other day. It was a little later than it should have been so he was over tired. He was just wailing and screaming because he didn’t want to take a nap.

He wants to be a part of everything. He doesn’t want to miss a thing! All of his brothers are still awake playing and I’m putting him in baby jail… his crib. I give him a kiss whisper good night and leave him all by himself. I am the worst! At least that’s what his screaming seems to communicate!

But the reality here is, He really needed to take that nap. He was not going to have fun playing with his brothers that tired and cranky. He most definitely did not need to be a part of everything, right then he needed a rest!

As I closed the door part of me felt relief “Yeah! It’s nap time!” Part of me felt a little bad because he was especially mad today.

But that got me thinking, how much I relate to my little guy.

I want to be a part of everything. I want to know what’s going on, and be on top of all the things. I want to make sure all the fun summer things happen with the kids, I want to make sure, they are caught up and ready to go when the school year starts, and I want to make sure I’m catching up on my summer reading or catching up on mundane paperwork. My time seems so limited right now, so I try to be productive with all that I have to spare.

But man the reality is, sometimes I need to be unproductive and restful. I need a nap!

Um what did I just say??? I need to stop the train of thought that taking a rest is unproductive!!! How productive can I be with anything while I’m running on empty?? And I also have an issue with realizing how low my tank is getting.

I don’t really, realize how much I have put off rest until it’s too late. At these times I am not a nice person. I’m like that grumpy baby I couldn’t wait to get a break from!

Usually the rest of the world doesn’t get to see that side of “Karen”. I save that side of me for my sweet unsuspecting family.

And then literally, Daniel will say, “Hey, Babe I can come home after lunch and you can take a nap..” And even then sometimes I argue with him, and he continues to assure me its ok if I don’t get it all done. It’s ok, Go take a rest.

When I’m sitting burdened in my struggle, the struggle not to let any of the “ball’s drop”. God’s word gently reminds me of what His expectation of me is.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God doesn’t mean for me to keep going and going and going. He is not throwing on this big burden of stuff that I have to complete on my own. He’s not telling me that I just need to be stronger. He’s not telling me that if I was better at following Him then I wouldn’t be in this mess.

He’s showing me the gospel here.

God desires for me to rest physically and spiritually in His grace. To come to a greater dependence on Him. He desires to show me His grace in the form of rest and refreshment.

He designed us to need it!

In my need I am pointed to the cross, in my insufficiency I’m pointed to Jesus and what’s already been done. And He reminds me of what is actually important. If I could keep on top of it all, there is a good chance I would forget to bring these things to the cross. I would forget my utter need for being dependent in Christ.

Praise be to God that I can’t do it all! Praise God He keeps me turning to Him! Praise God He keeps me thirsting for the refreshment I will find in His word. Praise God He keeps me longing for prayerful dependence in my chaotic world!

Praise God He shows up there with me in my mess and my unfinished list.

Praise God for the rest in Gods’ grace that He has promised is mine.

When I turn to Jesus and seek rest and dependence in Him, He often surprises me with His literal provision and grace for the things I am worried about letting go of, this may come as a shock… but… my world does not fall apart. However, it does remind me that its not all about my ability, but Christ’s ability. Praise God!

Chafing Against my Role

Motherhood! Oh! Motherhood. It is a glamorous calling isn’t it?

Said no woman ever….

At least in this current setting and culture.

Motherhood is messy, frustrating and often thankless. However, you can actually broaden this quite a bit. I think it’s safe to say many stages in life are messy, frustrating and often thankless. There are many times we find ourselves in the trenches, chafing against our calling or just the status quo of our current situation.

There was a time I felt like my sole purpose in life was to take care of my babies and support my husband in his ministry.

And if I’m being honest, it was a struggle. It was also a struggle I didn’t see coming.

In my younger years I would often look forward to the days when I would have my own baby’s and an amazing husband. When I would stay home and read books, take the kids to play dates and the zoo, make dinner and sit down around the table with the family.

I still love all of these things. But they were often serene pictures in my head. Seen through unknowing rose-colored glasses. Absent of the crying, discipline, inconsistency, exhaustion and yogurt melts fused to my hair.

When the time came that I had all of it, I was surprised to find out how different it felt with a front row seat.

(I talked a bit about it in my last blog post in particular with the struggle of little ones.) You are Not Alone.

Sometimes I would take stock at the end of the day and think about what I had been able to be accomplish. There were days I would get so much done! And at the end of those I would feel pretty good about myself! Then there are the days when we didn’t get out of our pajamas, and I ordered take out for dinner because I didn’t want to deal with the massive pile of dishes in the sink. And, at the end of those days, I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t “get it together”.

In doing this I started associating my work accomplishments, with my self-worth.

This method of estimating value is…..  A DISASTER!

Confession… I still struggle in this department…. I have to bring this one over and over again to the Lord.

Also, let’s just take a minute and talk about this whole ‘stay at home mom’ thing. What was once considered the ideal: supporting your husband by staying at home and taking care of the children, is no longer loved by society.

It’s all over the television, music, and the internet how, as a woman, I should have goals and dreams and all the people in my life, especially my husband, should support these dreams and goals at all costs.

Career is highly valued. And, hey, having a career is great, and should be valued. But am I ‘settling’ because I don’t have a career? Does it mean that I am worth less because I don’t currently bring home a paycheck? Or does it mean that I am worth less because I don’t have a career that is valued high in society? Or maybe just one that “I” don’t value?

Does it mean that my husband loves me less because my dreams or passions are on hold while he follows his calling?

My husband has often been involved in more “glamorous” callings than I have. When we met and were married he was in a band for 8 years. He was the “front man” in the band. (OK, so his work life was not glamorous.) But the whole band thing was pretty cool. Watching him play all the shows was fun. Their band had a bit of a following for some years, and eventually they were really good. Then we started having kids (that’s a longer story than I feel like getting into right now) and shortly after kids he went into ministry full time, and then to school full time. And now he is Pastoring full time. He gets the chance to preach the gospel into people’s lives from the pulpit every Sunday. Really, it’s an everyday type of thing, but Sundays are a big deal.

Honestly, I’m so proud of Him and all that God does through Him. He will be the first to tell you, it’s not about him, it’s never about Him. It’s all about Jesus and what he is doing through him in ministry. And using it to glorify God.

But God has called him into some roles throughout our marriage that sometimes take a lot of time and energy. Which means at times I have needed to put more time and energy into the kids or work. And there are times I have struggled with this…because it makes my life harder. (God loves to inconvenience me… haha!)

Not only does it make my life harder, but if I look at it from a worldly perspective (which I never do…right? Hah!) …his role is more exciting than mine.

Come on God? Can’t I glorify in a more glamorous way? I feel like you put me in the back seat! …. And there’s kids back here!?!

As I wrestle through evaluating my self-worth and my general purpose in life, God grabs hold of me and gently leads me back to the truth.

My confidence in myself, and my self-worth, can’t come from my accomplishments or big dreams, or a title. My self-worth can only come from who I am in Christ.

In truth, it’s really not about me at all. It’s about bringing Glory to God.

My role currently is just as important as my husbands. And I’m enabling Him to follow God’s call on his life. Really God’s call on our lives. We are very much in this together.

Daniel and I can both pursue passions and callings that God has put on our hearts, but we need to do them together, centered on Christ. Supporting one another and enabling one another.  Always talking through what is working and what isn’t. Making a point to be sensitive to the other person, and at times that means putting something on the back burner, for a season.

I want to be cheering each other on and not jockeying for position.

If I start looking for my worth in a more “glamorous” calling you can bet that is when I will start jockeying for my position and pushing my agenda through.

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to support Daniel in this way.  He could not do the ministry that God has called him to if I didn’t. I’m thankful for the opportunity to raise all these awesome little men with an amazing husband. They are the biggest blessing and I am so grateful that I can teach them about the hope, security, love and grace found in our Lord and Savior. He is our shelter, He is their shelter, in this broken world. What is more important than that?

And later in life, if I have a more “glamorous” calling it can’t be about me. It must start in the humble submission to Christ, and glorifying God, it always must be about bringing glory to God.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Goals 2018???

Here we are. The beginning of January. I feel like I have a bit of a Christmas hangover. Not in the traditional sense of the word hangover. But the week between Christmas and New years, I usually designate to do nothing but “party” with my family. We play with the new toys(AKA put together legos.) Play games, eat cookies, go to movies, read books and just spend time together not worrying about the to do list. This year I made a Turkey dinner for Christmas eve so we could eat left overs for a few days and when I did cook, it was light easy meals.

I love that week, it’s one of my favorites of the whole year. But now I’m in recovery mode. There is lots to do as I catch up from the month of December. It’s a bit overwhelming.

Often the week between Christmas and New Years also brings about a time of reflection. And then expectation as we go into the new year. We set goals and resolutions for the upcoming year.

As I reflected on this past year, I can’t help but feel thankful and undeserving of all the blessing the Lord has placed in my life. There is also a part of me that feels sad, missing the close relationships and some of the fun activities I used to do with the boys in Fergus. Although, side note: I heard that the bakery there is closing. So sad! I used to take the boys there all the time.

As I sat down with my coffee in hand and my planner in my lap I started to think about my expectations and goals for this new year. And let me tell you, this is an issue for me! My expectations often exceed the reality!

Here are some things that I thought of for goals for myself for 2018.

First of all, my messy house drives me crazy, My messy house. If I go to someone else’s it doesn’t bother me. But when I am living in my families mess I can go a little nuts. One goal would be prioritizing cleaning up after myself, and teaching the boys likewise. Haha!

Here’s a video of my house for fun. This is often my normal! 🙂

Secondly I had a beautiful baby this year. My adorable Elijah. But as many of you know he came via c-section and, well, I had a baby. So my core is super weak. I never did anything to strengthen it this time. The biggest problem with my weak core, is my back. My back is hurting more with all the daily lifting of toddlers and sometimes waking up in the morning my back is already hurting. Strengthening my core, wold be another goal.

Thirdly, (this I mentioned a little bit in my video.) I need to potty train Silas. Its time. I will leave it at that.

Ok and let me just throw in a few more things I would love to start on this year.

Piano for Judah and Asher

Learn to cook some more meals.

Continue to find ways to get to know my neighbors and get into the community

Explore the area more, there is so much to do here!

Read more

Be more consistent with my blog, and continue to grow in my writing skill

Run again

Train the best dog 😉

And continue to make new friends

 

You can see how quickly my expectations get out of hand!!! I’m ridiculous.

So I Prayed about it. I thought about all of these things. All of them being good things.

And you know which ones God put on my heart to strive for in 2018?

 

NONE OF THEM!

 

“Seriously, I came up with a lot of good options God!”

But no, as I prayed and read Gods word over that week between Christmas and New Years I had a resounding thought over and over.

Prayer, make Prayer the foundation.

Sadly too, often when I’m striving to get all of “the things” done, I let those things trump prayer.

Prayer can seem unproductive and pointless because, it doesn’t make sense in our human minds. God is not here in the flesh for us to talk to, and often results are not what we expect or in our timing. Satan wants to undermine the importance of prayer in our hearts and minds. He wants us to keep thinking its pointless.

But prayer is the opposite of that. It’s our direct line to the maker of the universe. Who holds all things in His hands. He is capable of accomplishing so much more that we can imagine. We are so simple and small, and yet He cares for us and longs to hear us pray. In the big and the small.

God has put prayer on my heart so strongly as I look into the new year. When I think of my kids, my marriage, my church, my community, my writing. I want to start with prayer. To let that be the undercurrent of all my goals. To set right my priority’s and to forge a way where maybe there wasn’t one. To bring  Prayer and God’s word should be the guiding light as I walk through my life.

Prayer and the truth of the bible is exactly where God wants us to start as we live out our days.

It’s simple and yet so hard. But as I look at being immersed in ministry and the community here. I know it’s exactly what I need.

Prayer is powerful! How great is our God!

 

Ephesians 6:18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Psalm 5:1-3

Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.