Friday, June 26, 2009

The Hypocrisy in Me


"Hello?" I asked breathlessly after I lunged for the phone before my daughter could answer it.

"Mom? It's me, Logan." My oldest son's voice didn't sound so great and I knew what was coming before he asked. "Can you pick me up from school? I don't feel so good."

"Yeah, honey. I'll pick you up in a few minutes." We hung up the phone and I added this one more thing to my already long list of things-to-do. Actually, the only thing on the list was Costco but when I bring children with me that one trip is all I can fit on the list.

After I picked him up from school I asked him what was wrong.

"Well," he began, "When we came in from recess I got really hot and my back hurt and then I felt sick." Looking back I should have known it was probably just dehydration and overheating. But for some reason I didn't think of it at the time.

After Costco Logan and I headed over to the doctor's office. I had a sneaky suspicion that we didn't need to go but we went anyway. Sure enough Logan had perked up considerably and described in great detail how he felt. The doctor confirmed what the nurse said earlier when she ushered us into the room. He was dehydrated and needed to drink water and take it easy in the heat. My heart was both elated that nothing was seriously wrong and also chagrined that I had just forked up twenty dollars for something that could have been cured by a bottle of water.

After the doctor left the room I looked at Logan and said half-jokingly, "Honey, you need to take care of yourself so we don't have to spend twenty dollars on seeing the doctor." As the words left my mouth my conscience yelled, "Hypocrite!!"

Later I apologized to Logan for putting money before him and his needs. I felt awful.

I realized I had been doing the exact same thing for the last several years. So many times I ended up in the doctor's office asking for a antibiotic, anti fungal, anti...whatever. You name it, I'm on it. Or so it seems at times. I have been battling the same medical issue for nearly three years and it has cost us numerous twenty dollar payments. Why? Because I haven't been diligent about keeping close watch on my diet, I haven't stayed on some of the meds I should have been on, and the list goes on. The consequence of my "splurging" is an unhealthy body, poor self-esteem, and a sense of failure because I've never been able to stick to the one thing that would keep me healthy and vibrant for my children.

Hypocrisy is a funny thing. Sometimes we don't even realize that our actions and words counter-act each other. Another day not too long ago my six-year-old looked up at me with big eyes watching the shove a "treat" into my mouth. With all sincerity, sweetness and inability to say his "r's" very well he said, "I thought you were trying to lay off the sugar."

Ouch! He was right. My children watch me say one thing one day but do something else entirely different on other days. What am I teaching them?

The last thing I want to teach my children is that they can say one thing at church or to friends and then act entirely different when nobody is watching. What a horrible lesson to teach my children.

My dad is a pastor of a church here in the Valley and over the years I have had many people ask me if he is the same at home as he is in the pulpit. The answer has always been "Yes!!!" I love my dad and respect him so much because he truly loves the Lord when he's alone or when he's surrounded by the congregation. When he comes home from church on Sundays he is still the same man of God, except a little sleepier. I used to take that for granted, assuming every pastor is the same at home as he is at church, but as I grew up I realized integrity is more rare than I thought. For that reason I respect my dad much more because he sets an amazing example of walking in Faith. I want to be like him when I grow up!

I want my children to respect and love me for that same reason. I want to set an example of doing what I say I'm going to do. I want to lead by example, not just preach at them about what they ought to do. I don't want them to remember me stuffing a doughnut in my mouth and then mumble to them, "Now don't each sugar, children. It's very bad for you." That's like telling your children not to smoke while you light one up. Most children will do what they see their parents doing. I would much rather show them instead of just telling them what it looks like to live a hypocrisy-free life. In my writing class we are constantly being told to show the scene and not just tell it. That goes along with real life too!

The older I get the more I love Jesus. Maybe its the trials I am forced to walk through, maybe it's the realization that life offers no hope outside of Christ or maybe it's a little of both. Whatever the reason, I really have fallen more in love with my Saviour. But I do wonder at times....

Do my children see that love for Christ or do they merely see a woman with multiple personalities that present themselves differently in separate situations?

My prayer is that I will follow the example of Christ and of my dad, by being a woman after God's heart in actions and in words, written or otherwise.

One thing's for sure, I have a really long way to go...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Soul Sifting...

Tonight my little girl melted down at bedtime. It had been a long day of playing hard with cousins and friends and her little soul couldn't take anymore.

I tried to coax her into her Alyssa's room with promises of letting her sleep downstairs with her big brothers the following night. But she kept crying. Next I tried the tough mom act of telling her, "You better be in this bed by the count of three. One, Two..." Still more tears fell down her cheeks. I looked into her sleepy, blue eyes and I wondered how I would get my exhausted four-year-old daughter to calm down and rest. I said a quick prayer under my breath before I began a new tactic.

I realized at that moment that Ellianna needed me to hold her, she just didn't know it yet. I wrapped her blankie around her and spoke softly as I picked her up and brought her to the bed. Her response? She cried harder and tried to escape from my arms. But I continued to be gentle with her despite the tears. I asked if she would like me to lay down with her and she nodded her head yes.

I helped her snuggle down under the covers and then lay down next to her. Her wails calmed to quiet whimpering as I wrapped my arms around her small body and cuddled with her. We prayed together, I sang her a song, I kissed her forehead and soon those deep blue eyes could no longer stay open. Her heavy lids closed and she stopped moving around. I kissed her and then tip-toed out of the room.

I am sad to say that this was the first time in a very long time since I laid down at bedtime with her. The last several months have been busy with so many different things to occupy my mind and heart. I have been slacking off in many ways in my parenting because I thought other things needed to be done first or I deserved to have some down time since I was with the kids all the time.

The truth is those were just excuses for me to play on the computer or be swept up in a story that kept my mind off of my reality. I've let the house fall around my ears, laundry pile up and leave dishes stacked in the kitchen all for the sake of keeping my facebook status updated! I'm so ashamed to even write this because I'm embarrassed of my selfishness over the last year.

I knew the time had come to break this habit and decided when I visited my sister and her family I would take a reprieve from my Internet addiction. I wanted to spend the week talking with Kelly, playing with the kids and making memories. My first day I was so happy to not be chained to the computer. Over the past several days I have laughed at the cute antics of my three-year-old nephew, shared hugs with my children and I had a sweet talk with my nearly ten-year-old son, Logan.

And I haven't missed facebook or twitter once. For the first time in a long time I had a major reality check. I think the accumulation of difficult events in my life plus the death of an amazing christian man have shaken and rearranged my priorities drastically. I have had to take a hard look at my life and realize that what I say and what I do are sometimes different things. I say Jesus is top on my list but I don't spend as much time reading His Word as I do reading a Dean Koontz novel. I say my husband and children are second and third on my list but I don't clean the house for them, I haven't been good at cooking meals for them and I don't tuck them into bed much anymore.

So what are my priorities really? I have to say honestly that I'm first on the least, that's what my actions say.

The truth is Jesus and my family really are top on my list, but my actions have begged to differ. So now I need to make up for lost time. I need to show my family that I love them more then anything else in this world. I want to do the same for Christ.

I must say this has been a wonderful week for me. I left home weary and needing to reevaluate my life. Now I realize I don't want to miss chances to show Christ's love to others; I don't want to miss fun adventures with my children; I don't want to miss living a full life with my husband.

And I really don't want to miss anymore bedtime snuggles with my little girl...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thoughtful insights on Sleepless Nights...

It's 12:30 in the morning and I should be snuggled up next to my husband dreaming sweetly of sugar-plumb fairies.

But I'm not. I can't sleep...obviously. Instead, I'm sitting at my computer pondering a not-so-funny comedy I watched and regretting the sugar binge I indulged in. I figured I should write down my thoughts now instead of tomorrow morning when I'll most likely wake with an intense dairy/sugar hangover. Thank goodness it's a Saturday and I don't have to get up too early.

Tonight I watched He's Just Not That Into You. I don't know why I watch these chic-flick, dramedy movies. The movie was such a sad commentary of what people are doing out there to find someone who will love them. There was the desperate-for-somebody-to-love-me girl that made a fool of herself for any man in hopes to find a mate. There was the sexy yoga teacher who falls for a man who is married but obviously doesn't care about destroying another person's life as long as she gets what she wants. Next up was the couple who break up in the beginning because after living together for seven years he still doesn't want to marry this woman that he professes to love. There's the issue-ridden wife who's married to the aforementioned man who has shacked up with the yoga teacher. There's the editor of a gay magazine trying to get a date with a man and can't seem to find a good one. Oh yeah, there's also the bar tender who uses women and seems like a jerk but somehow turns into a good guy a little later on. Then there's the other man that is also sleeping with the yoga princess and thinks he's madly in love with her.

Confused yet? I sure was.

I came away with two thoughts prevalent in my mind.

1) I'm so thankful I'm not in the dating scene anymore. Marriage is difficult but so is going out on blind dates and whatnot. If I'm ever tempted to wish I were single again I will call this movie to mind and thank my lucky stars I'm not trying to find that special someone in bars and clubs who will love me for me.

***Note to my much loved single friends: I'm not trying to poke fun or make anyone feel bad for going on dates. The truth is the enemy loves to taunt married women on a bad day that thier lives would be so much better if they were single again, able to go out with friends and breathe a little excitement into what becomes a rather dull life at times...
***Another note: I do believe the enemy taunts the single girls too with the lie that they can only be happy or useful if married and with children. That is simply NOT true. Some of the women I respect the most are single and living for Christ regardless of being in a relationship or not...

and on that note lets go on to...

2)All of the relationships the movie portrayed were immensely depressing fabrications of what true love really is. Each and every couple was looking out for numero uno. None of them cared about the other person involved or those who would be hurt because of their decisions. The yoga instructor didn't care that this man's wife would be shattered to know of her husband's infidelity and she didn't care for her other male friend with whom she would fool around with when her chips were down. She would use him over and over again.

This world has love all upside down. Love means sacrificing yourself for the good of the other person, even if it hurts you or kills you in the process. Love isn't all about happy, giddy feelings and running hand-in-hand through fields as the sun sets and the credits role. There's a reason most good romantic movies end when the couple kisses, its because after that kiss you have to start the real work. After the pastor announces the bride and groom as Mr. & Mrs, the rice is thrown in the air, and the happy couple arrives home from their honeymoon the real work of love begins.

True love is not expressed on the wedding day as much as it is on the days when the entire family comes down with the stomach flu and you have to clean the bathroom after your spouse throws up.
~Its expressed on the days when the paychecks are low and another baby is on the way and instead of blaming your husband for what you don't have, you thank him for working so hard for the family.
~Its expressed when the doctor diagnoses cancer and the husband must take care of his wife over several grueling years.
~Its expressed in the everyday life of making dinners and doing laundry.
~Its expressed in the most heart-breaking moments of grief
~It's expressed in the joyful tears when the baby you've been trying for finally arrives.
~Its the kind of love that sees you through the tears, the laughter, the joy and sorrow, the hard years and happy years.

There is an amazing singer/songwriter named Andrew Peterson. He has written a beautiful, heart-breaking song called "Love is a Good Thing." I can't hear it without crying because it's the most honest song I've heard about love. I'm going to check out whether or not I can print the lyrics to it before I do so but if you haven't heard it I recommend reading or listening to it. He describes love in it's most difficult times as well as in the good times, but regardless of how hard it is it's still a good thing to do.

True love is sacrificial, it's the laying down of one's life for another, in the good times and bad. Sometimes Josh and I will look at our wedding pictures and we'll chuckle and ask "what were we thinking?" We weren't thinking too much. We were young, idealistic, selfish, stubborn, spoiled (that was me) and armed only with many prayers from our parents and other couples who knew better then we did. Sometimes in my lowest moments I have to remind myself of what the Lord has done in my life over the last eleven years. Over the years He has shown me what love really looks like so that I can spot the counterfeit when I see it. That counterfeit is usually from movie-land and comes in different shapes, sizes, and stories, but its fake all the same.

Don't get your ideals of love from Hollywood or books, don't take relationship advice from people who don't know what true love looks like...

...and don't forget the ONE who is love personified in every way imaginable. He is died to show you what love really looks like and He did it while we still hated Him.

Now that's True Love!