Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grace

"Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace.  And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace."
-Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness

I finally picked up this book again after a long hiatus and decided to start all over with it.  I honestly can't believe I've never read it until now...it seems like such a classic piece of Christian literature.  I've seen the above quote on many Facebook profiles and read it in a lot of other places, but to each time I read it I always find it reassuring.

I often err on the side of duty in my spiritual life.  I am a person who likes to get things done.  Therefore, my time spent each day reading my Bible and praying can be something that just becomes another thing I check off of my "to-do" list .  I can get to a point where I feel smugly proud of my efforts.  In my heart of hearts, I start to look down on other people who don't do these things and my judgmental attitude takes over my thoughts.  I think I am ok in God's sight because of what I do.

But Bridges is another author in a long line I've read recently that brings me back to reality.  I am a sinner.  Even at my "best" (what I said above about my spiritual life) my worst comes out in my attitudes and thought patterns.  As the Bible says, "The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked-who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).    Thankfully, I have no need to despair or to be surprised at those patterns.  God is doing a work in me, and even in the midst of my good and bad days, His grace abounds and He loves me regardless as I work towards holiness.  How kind of Him.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This Weekend's Musing

"Women hold power even over powerful men; such women mold public opinion and prepare future generations.  Yes, women, in your hands, more than those of anyone else, lies the salvation of the world."
-Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

FLYing

  "Housework done imperfectly still blesses your family."
-The Flylady

I just cleaned out the space under my dryer and inside the hose.  It's the first time I've ever attempted to do so, thanks to the FlyLady.  If you are wondering what I am talking about, you should totally check out this site.  It has helped me so much in my daily work around the house and I have to thank FlyLady for that.  Let me tell you my story.

I married a pack rat.  We moved into a very small apartment and lived there for a year and a half.  And we had stuff.  Lots of stuff.  I would often get frustrated with the amount of things we had in our apartment and attempt to organize them to no avail.

Then we moved into our first house.  Packing and moving was hard since we had so much stuff and we had found out that week that I was pregnant.  Morning sickness hit the weekend we had friends come over to help us move.  Due to my hubby's crazy work schedule and my morning sickness/exhaustion, it took months for us to finally unpack most (not all) of the boxes.  Both of us were stubborn enough not to ask for help, and we still had one room full of unpacked stuff.

Fast forward to the birth of my baby girl.  I did a lot of nesting and organizing before she came, but a lot of that goes to pot once you have a baby.  And my neat freaky, perfectionist, hormone-crazed self was NOT handling it well.  I was very unkind to my husband during that phase, which I regret a lot.  After a particularly trying week, I logged on to the Internet to find a home organization website, cleaning schedule, ANYTHING to help me make sense of the craziness I felt.  And that's how I found FlyLady.  I first started out with her baby steps, thinking that much of them were stupid and I would not last with this program.  It's been 6 months and I have not looked back. 

I've been able to develop little routines around the house that help keep the main areas clean.  I've been able to let go of the posessions I don't need in order to bless others, either by recycling or giving items away.  FLYing (or as FlyLady calls it:  Finally Loving Yourself) has made all the difference in my home and I actually look forward to the little routines that help me maintain order.  I know too, that if I don't get around to some things or if things aren't done "perfectly" like the little voices in my head say they have to be, the house won't cave in.  What I do know is that I am blessing my family with my imperfect attempts to keep order in my home.  And my family is so much happier.

Friday, March 18, 2011

This Weekend's Musing

"In general, great stories happen to those who can tell them."
-Ira Glass, Long-Form Storytelling Event

Monday, March 14, 2011

What Happened to The Moral Landscape?

A while back I had written that I was going to read The Moral Landscape and write about it...chances are if you've been reading my blog, you've probably noticed no posts on the subject!  To be honest, I only made it through the introduction.  It made my head spin and made me want to take a nap all at the same time.  I guess it was a little too "heady" for this tired mom to process!

But take heart, I have some posts about culture rolling around in my brain that I'm sure will find there way into print at some point.  For now, I am going to enjoy a before dinner snack and the quietness of naptime :-)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Weekend's Musing

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."
-Cicero

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lent: To Observe or not to Observe?

"The essential spirituality of worship remained the possession of the church until it was slowly lost with the passing of the years.  The natural legality of the fallen hearts of men began to introduce the old distinctions.  The church came to observe again days and seasons and times...differences were observed between one and another day or place or person...its deadliest effect is the complete cleavage it introduces between religion and life."
-A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine

I finished The Pursuit of God last night.  It was another super good book that I may put on an "annual read" list.  The last chapter contained the above quote, and as I was reading it I couldn't help but think of the upcoming church holiday of Lent.  Tozer seems to really disagree with the church's calendar and setting aside of certain days to be more "holy" than others.  He argues that all of life and what humans do is sacred and that we can treat it as such by offering our daily tasks as worship to God.  I wholeheartedly agree with him on that front.

However, that is not going to stop me from celebrating Lent.  I first started observing Lent while in college.  I started attending some evening liturgical services led by different religion professors and they held an Ash Wednesday service that spring.  It was my first experience with this holiday and became one of the most defining and memorable points in my spiritual journey.  It was incredibly humbling to stand before one of my professors, feel the ashes spread onto my forehead and hear him declare, "Remember, O man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19).  Such a ritual, I believe, is a fitting start to Lent, a time when we are called to make a sacrifice in our life in order to remember Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

That's why I do it-celebrate Lent.  I confess that as the holiday approaches, I always wrestle with the thoughts that Lent is something I "should" observe or that I am better than other Christians because I follow it.  Like Tozer says, all of life is sacred...but wouldn't it also be good to have the rhythm of a calendar to be able to celebrate it?  I appreciate the days set aside to give up something dear to me and have that remind me of the cross.  It makes the sacredness of life that much sweeter.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This Weekend's Musing

"I do not find that picture of a physical catastrophe-that sign in the clouds, those heavens rolled up like a scroll-help one so much as the naked idea of Judgment.  We cannot always be excited.  We can, perhaps, train ourselves to ask more and more how often the thing we are saying or doing (or failing to do) at each moment will look when the irresistible light streams in upon it; that light which is so different from the light of this world-and yet, even now, we know just enough of it to take it into account."
-C.S. Lewis, from "The World's Last Night," The World's Last Night and Other Essays

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Having my cake and eating it too

‎"While careers are fulfilling, they do not replace the fulfillment most women get from being wives and mothers. Moreover, these types of careers will inevitably conflict with the demands of home and children. Careers should be icing on the cake -- not the cake itself." --The Flipside of Feminism by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly

I found this gem on the Boundless Facebook page while checking out my news feed during my daughter's nap (or more of an attempt to nap...she had a little one in the car while we were out and is alternating between whining and chattering to herself in her crib!)  It describes exactly how I feel at this point in my life.

Ever since I was a teenager, I had the desire to be a wife and a stay-at-home mom and am finally living that dream.  However, that has not always prevented me from worrying about putting a career on hold.  Most of the time this worrying comes in the form of "what if?" questions.  A few examples...what if something happens to my husband or his job and I need to work again?  What if we don't make enough money for me to stay home if we have more children?  What if I don't have enough experience to ever find a job if I stay home with my kid(s) until they reach school age?  What if I go crazy being home all day, every day?

However, as the days go by (and they go by fast!) I am realizing more and more how being a wife and a mother is the "cake" in my life.  I get to see every new, little thing my daughter is learning.  I have the time to organize my home and duties therein so I can create an environment of peace and order for my family.  I know that I am doing something worthwhile because I am raising up a person who will be here long after my degree or any sort of work I have done in the public sector.  Even on my worst, more boring or more anxiety filled days I remind myself of this.  I also know that this season of motherhood won't last forever and someday I may find myself building a wonderful career.  Until then, I am throwing all of my heart and mind into this whole motherhood business, and trusting God to provide and put to rest my "what-if's".  It's much more fun to eat a lot of cake than icing anyway :)