Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I'm No Mary

Now, I am well aware of the fact that I am no Mary.  Mary was the mother of Jesus.  The one and only  woman ever to walk this earth that God entrusted with his son.  This was a woman who was "highly favored" by God, and certainly someone worth emulating.  No matter how impossible it might be.

This morning I once again found myself in awe of this woman.  I was reading John 2, when Jesus performs his first miracle by turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana.  And I was struck by the words Mary said to her son.  I'm sure you've heard this passage a dozen times and there are probably just as many interpretations of what took place.  But here is my take on it, for what it's worth. (Remember you get what you pay for!)

Mary had watched her son grow into a man.  She knew that he was indeed the Son of God.  But I think when she looked at him, she still saw that little boy she had been so blessed to raise.  She saw in Jesus things only a mother can see.  And on this night she recognized in her son that his time had come.  It was time for him to become all God had sent him to be and she encouraged him to be exactly that.  She's the one who was the first to bring Jesus into the situation.  She was the one who brought it to his attention, "They have no more wine."  As simple as that.  Like saying, "Here is the problem son, what are you going to do about it?"  Do you think she wanted to whisper in his ear like we all do to our children "I know you can do this, I believe in you!"?  You won't find those words in the scripture but I still wonder if they were there.  And Jesus, not sure if he was ready to start what he knew was going to be the beginning of the end, hesitated.  "My time has not yet come."

But Mary KNEW.  She KNEW her son.  She KNEW what he could do.  She had watched him for 30 years and she KNEW his time had come.  She KNEW.  And she encouraged him.  She didn't let him miss this opportunity she told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." She gave him the nudge we all need to give our kids at some point in their life.  And she did it at the perfect time.  She knew what God desired her son to be, she encouraged him to be exactly that, and when needed, she gave him a gentle push in that direction.

That's the kind of mother I want to be.  I want to see in my children exactly what it is God wants them to be, I want to encourage them to be exactly that, and when necessary I want to give them a gentle push in that direction.

I'm no Mary.  But I sure would like to be a mother like her!

check out John 2:1-11

Monday, July 30, 2012

Did I Buy the Right School Supplies?

"I took the kids to the store last week and loaded up on school supplies for the upcoming school year.  We took in our list from the school and marked each item off one by one as our cart got fuller and fuller.  The kids had fun picking out JUST the right folder or notebook, and even the four year old talked his way into a few items.  A great time was had by all.

However, upon walking out the doors at the end of our adventure, I couldn't help but wonder, had I bought the right supplies?  I mean, yes I had the list from the school but what if it was an old list? Or what if their teacher had her own list?  What if they arrived in class on that first day of school ill-prepared?  All the sudden, I wasn't thinking about paper and pencils anymore.  The real question was no longer "Had I bought the right school supplies?"  It was now, "Had I invested in my children the necessary equipment they would need to navigate the next school year?"

Did I spend too much time and money on their first day of school outfit  and not enough on the "belt of truth" they are supposed to wear each day to school?  What about a breastplate of righteousness?  Do they even have one of those?  Was I more concerned about fitting their feet "with the readiness of the gospel" or with what their new school shoes would look like?  Where are they supposed to store the "shield of faith" they will use to "extinguish all the flaming arrows from the evil one"?  Will it fit in their new backpack? Did I even show them how to use it?!?!  I KNOW they have a "helmet of salvation"!  They have to put it on before they can ride their bikes, right?  But I'm not so sure about "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God."  Do they have that tool?  Did I invest in one of those?  I didn't see it on the school list, but I'm pretty sure they are going to need one!

How do you know if you got the right school supplies?  All the sudden, the right pens and pencils don't seem to be so very important any more.  This is the list I'm going to focus on for the little summer we have left.  This is what my children will need in their backpacks when they walk into that classroom for the first time.  This is what I want to invest in.

To view the complete list, check out Ephesians 6:10-18.

 (I especially like the way the Message has these verses!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Problem With Being a Messy Person

The problem with being an innately messy person is that sooner or later people are going to figure it out.

You can do your best to cover it up.  Do some surface cleaning, keep the big stuff from laying out in the open.  You can crash clean when you know someone is coming over.  Make them think you've got things all under control.  But when you are messy in your very core there will come a time when you are caught unprepared.  Eventually, someone will knock on your door and want to come inside when your just not ready.

I am an innately messy person.  Earlier this week some dear friends of ours (whose home is at all times IMMACULATELY clean) had problems with their AC.  It got up to 93 degrees in their home.   And although they called the repairman as soon as they realized the problem- even though it was 11:45 at night,  the end of the next day came and the AC was still not working!  We found out about this at church that evening when we were all there for VBS.  Of course, Erik and I instantly insisted that they stay with us for the night, the whole family, even their dog (but not the fish - I didn't want our cat to eat him!)

Here's the problem.  My house was VERY messy!  I had been at the church ALL day setting up for VBS and would be at the church all evening doing the drama.  There was no time to crash clean, no time to stuff the clutter in the closet.  They were going to see the real me and there was nothing I could do about it!!

As they followed us home that night, I kicked myself for the 1,000th time for NOT doing a better job of maintaining my house.  And then hit me.  My house was dirty because I had been doing what God asked me to do.  And when I got home the day before, from doing what God had asked me to do, I was tired, so I rested.  Instead of cleaning, I rested, so that on this morning I could get up and go do what God was asking me to do all over again.  I LOVE doing what God is asking me to do.  I dislike that my house is as messy as it is, but then again I am an innately messy person.  If I have to choose between keeping my house tidy and doing what God wants me to do, I'm going to choose God EVERY TIME!!!

And you know what? My friends still love me.  They have now seen the real me, the way I really live and they still love me.  They didn't mind that my house was messy.  They were just happy it was cool!  You know you have a true friend when they have seen who you really are and they love you anyway!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm a Messy Person

I'm a messy cook.

I'm a messy eater.

I'm even a messy cleaner.

Let's face it, I'm just a messy person.

I'm not proud of it, but it is the truth.

And my house, unfortunately, bears the mark of this imperfection of mine.

A few weeks ago, I decided  the house needed a deep cleaning.  So the kids and I picked up all the clutter (clothes, toys, shoes, socks, books, stuffed animals, action figures, old food, cups and what not) that had some how gathered in our family room/kitchen area.  Let's face it doesn't the clutter ALWAYS gather in the kitchen?  Then I swept up the three truck loads of dog hair our 100+ pound shepherd mix had shed (that day) and set about mopping the floor.  Now, please don't think less of me, but mopping the floor is not my favorite thing to do.  As a result, it doesn't get done all that often  (think somewhere between never and rarely).

So you can imagine how good the floors looked after they were washed that day!  I sat back, admired my work and felt good about how clean everything was.  Well the VERY NEXT day, I noticed a spot I had missed.  So I got out the mop, for the second day in a row!!  That's got to be some kind of record right?  Well I couldn't believe the amount of dirt that mop picked up!  Didn't I just mop the floor yesterday?!?  Had I really let the house get that out of hand?  Was it SO dirty that the first go around had only gotten it less dirty, but not really clean?  And what's worse was I so used to the dirt that I didn't even see it anymore!  Was  I so used to dirt in my life that I thought something was perfectly clean just because it was LESS DIRTY than I was used to!  This scared me on  a whole different level.

How many other areas of my life were this dirty?  So dirty that I was beginning to think I was sparkling clean just because I wasn't AS DIRTY as I was before.  This thought has brought me to my knees more than once in the past weeks.  It has been clear to me that I need a deep and thorough cleaning everyday if I want to make any progress on the dirt piling up I'm my life, and I am no longer talking about the floors in my kitchen.  I'm  no longer content with being less dirty than I was before, I long to be clean, truly clean, clean from the inside out.

I'm still a messy cook.

I'm still a mess eater, and a messy cleaner.

I'm still messy.  But I'm working on getting clean every day.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

God Is Good!

I don't know why violence happens.

I don't know why horrible things happen to innocent people.

I don't know how you deal with the anger and hurt when a loved one is taken from you at the hands of another.

I don't  know.

I don't know how to reconcile the pain with peace.

I just don't know.

There is ALOT I don't know.

But there are some things I DO know.

I know that no matter what happens here on this earth, God is STILL good.

I know that he loves us.  He loves me, he loves you and he loves the people who are hurting.  He even loves the people who cause the hurting, even when he hates what they've done.

I know that there will come a day when pain will be no more, violence will end, evil will be defeated.  I know this time will come.  Some day.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  (Hebrews 11:1)

I am sure that justice will reign, judgment will come, and the innocent will be redeemed.

I am certain that God loves us all and that no matter what may come he is STILL good!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Love You Can See

Our middle kiddo, Nate, is a sports kids.  He loves playing, watching, or talking about anything sports.  Baseball, football, basketball, you name it, he will discuss it.  His favorite sport is whichever one he is playing at the time.  We have been blessed with a wonderful group of boys and families that he plays with.  And after being on the same team for several years now and crossing over all the sports we have gotten to know these families fairly well, not only the boys and their parents but also some of the grandparents.  A couple of years ago one of the grandparents said something to me I will NEVER forget, and has GREATLY impacted my marriage.

My husband often travels for his job.  Not every week, but often.  Sometimes its just for a night or two, sometimes it's most of the week.  This particular week I'm thinking about he had been gone almost all week.  He was arriving back in town in the early evening on a friday.  The kids and I were already at the ball field waiting for the start of the game when Erik arrived.  I hadn't seen him all week so naturally my face broke into a big smile and I got up from my seat and met him a hug and a kiss (appropriate for families to see!).

On my back to my seat I heard one of my friends whisper to her mom (the grandma) "I think he was gone all week".  Grandma must have thought this was how I always greeted my husband after a long day at work!  Although I probably should, alas, I do not always greet my husband with a big smile, hug and kiss when he returns home!  But it was what grandma said to me a few minutes later that really got me thinking.  As we settled in for the start of the game Erik went to tell Nate he had made it and the grandma walked by to her seat.  She leaned forward and said to me "You know, out of all the parents on this team I always thought you and your husband were the most in love!"  Then she smiled and moved on to her seat!

"Huh?"  I was speechless!  Now, I'm not saying that my husband and I actually ARE more in love than anyone else!  I'm not implying that anyone is less in love than we are.  It very well may be the case that grandma tells this to EVERY couple she meets.  And you know what?  I think she should! 

I spent hours, yes HOURS, thinking about this comment after she made it, trying to figure out what she saw.  What were we doing that made us look so "in love"?  What did she see?  Did other people see it too?  The thing that this comment made me want to do more than anything else was love my husband.  All the sudden, I had this OVERWHELMING desire to love him!  To love him to such an extent and in such a way that other people couldn't help but notice.  Not so they would notice me, but so that they would notice LOVE.  Love like the love of Christ, like the kind of love that everyone needs.  I wanted them to see that in me.  This innocent little comment changed my marriage.  I have always loved my  husband, and I always will.  I hope you can see it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pictures in My Mind

The Lundgren family of 5 just returned from our yearly family vacation.  What was different about this one?  This is the first time EVER it has been just us 5!  Generally we vacation with either my parents, my grandma, my older brother, and his family OR with Erik's mom,  his younger sister and her family.  We love this time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  But this vacation, just the 5 of us, was special.  And I have 452 pictures to prove it!

I know, I know.  That's ALOT of pictures!  But I couldn't help myself.  Believe it or not there were actually times that I put the camera down.  I know it might not sound like it but I did.

Shortly before we left, I was talking to a friend of mine and she mentioned something that really hit home with me.  My friend is an avid photographer MUCH more talented, diligent, and experienced then I am.  She mentioned that she has laid off taking quite as many pictures of her kids lately.  She found that she was missing out on the moment because she was so busy trying to capture it on film (figuratively speaking, I know everything is digital these days).  Wow.  How true though.  Think about it.  How much do you miss viewing the world through the small eye hole of a camera?  Isn't it better to take it all in, the whole panoramic view, with two eyes open wide?

I tried to remember that on vacation and there were times that I put the camera down, picked up a kiddo and just embraced the moment.  I am confident that those moments will live forever in my mind!  And if they don't I still have 452 other ones!

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm a runner Part 2

I'm a runner.

Those words are true.  I do run...most of the time.  But it's hot outside this summer, REALLY HOT, and sometimes I have to walk.  There have even been times when I have had to just plain stop and catch my breath before I could take another step. And there have been a couple of times in the past three years when I have fallen flat on my face while running, tripped over something when I wasn't paying attention.  Once I got totally turned around and ran in the wrong direction.

It occurred to me the other day (while I was running), that it's a lot like my faith.  I like to think that most of the time I am running toward Christ (or at least in the direction he wants me to go). A slow and steady pace that will cover the distance and get me where He wants me to be. Occasionally, when all the variables are perfect, I can find myself full out sprinting toward him!  But I'm not a sprinter, and I usually tire out pretty quickly.  I'm a distance runner.  And THIS race is definitely one of endurance.

He never said this race was going to be easy.  There are lots of hills, and running hills is brutal.  They tell you to power up the  hills.  Put your head down and use your arms to increase speed as you go up and then lay off and ease down the hill.  But in reality, sometimes I have to walk the hills, in running and in life.  Sometimes it's just too hard to "power up the hills" and I need to slow down, walk instead of run.   And that's OK.  God is patient.  He'll wait for me to catch up.  He is the perfect running partner, willing to go whatever pace I set.  No matter how fast you are running (or walking or crawling these days) moving toward Christ, is always a good thing.   Any runner would tell you that there are times you have to walk, sometimes you even have to stop and catch your breath.

There are times when the run is hard and I have pushed myself too far and I just have to stop, catch my breath and drink some water before I can go on.  There have been times in my walk with Christ when I  have had to stop.  No forward motion has happened.  I have just stood where I was and drank in His water and took deep breaths of His spirit before I could continue on.  And He's OK with that too.  That's what he wants!  For us to turn to Him when we can't do it on our own.

There have been a couple times on this run that I have fallen flat on my face, right in the middle of running to Him!  I took my eyes off the road for a second or didn't see the obstacle until it was too late, and I fell... hard.  It took some time off the clock but eventually I dusted myself off (ok so He dusted me off) and took some more drinks of His water, deep breaths of His spirit and started running again.  Sometimes with a limp, and usually pretty slowly, but running none the less.

It has even happened along the way that some how I got completely turned around.  I thought I was making great time, really picking up the pace, only to find out I was running in the complete opposite direction I was supposed to be.  I'm not proud of it, it's not exactly an indicator of intelligence, but it happens.  And once I figured it out, got turned back around, He was always there waiting for me.  Ready to run with me the rest of the way.

"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us"  Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm a runner Part 1

I'm a runner.

Honestly, I feel a little bit like I just lied to you.  I do run, but I usually don't consider myself "a runner".  I certainly don't run fast, and honestly I usually don't run far.  On any given day I can think of about 10 other things I would rather do than run!

About 3 years ago I was talking to a friend of mine who is an avid runner, always has been.  She is fit and trim and FAST!  I told her "I wish I could run, runners are in the best shape!"

Her response to me was profound.  "If you want to be a runner, than run."  Really? It's that easy?  All I have to do is run?  She followed with, "You don't have to run far, or fast.  Just run!"

Hmm, wow.  I never thought of it that way.  So I started running.  I wasn't fast.  And I couldn't run far, not at first.  I've been running for almost 3 years now.  I've run 4 half-marathons and am training for my 2nd full marathon.  I still don't run fast and on any given day there are at least 10 other things I would rather do than run.  But I do run.  Because I'm a runner.

I wonder if that holds true for anything else?  If you want to be a writer, then write.  You don't have to be published or have a contract, just write, everyday.  If you want to be a singer than sing, anywhere and everywhere.

What is it that you want to do?  My advice to you is to start doing it.  Wherever you are, whatever level you are at, do it.  It is in the doing that you become great.  Will I ever be a great runner? No probably not, but I will still run, because that's what I do.  I am a runner.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I hate to wait

I talked to God today.  Do you know what he told me?  He told me to wait.  I hate waiting.  I'm not a patient person.  I  know I'm supposed to be, there are even times I have been.  And then my time of being patient usually ends something like this.

"OK God, I've been patient, what next?"  Pretty patient huh!

So when he told me today to just wait I wanted to cry.  I can feel him preparing me for something,  growing me.  And I am SO excited for whatever it is I just can't wait!  I hate to wait.  I'm not a patient person.

Do you think a flower feels like this?  When you plant it in the ground, it knows that someday it's going to be something beautiful!  It's just not yet.  It has to wait.  I wonder if it hates to wait, like me.  I wonder if a flower is patient?  It spends so much time in the ground, so dark it can't even see.  It takes the water God give it and fights hard just to push out of the ground and when it finally does, I wonder if it thinks "YES!, I made it!  I'm gonna be amazing!"  But it's not, not yet.  It has to wait.  I wonder if it hates to wait, like me.

I wonder if the flower wonders every day, "Is it time yet, do I bloom today, am I ready?" But it still has to wait, it needs to grow.  It needs more water, more sun, more nutrients.  And then a bud comes, and I bet you it says "NOW, now I'm ready!"  But it's not.  It still has to wait.  I wonder if it hates to wait, like me.

And then, after what feels like eternity, the flower blooms.  ALL that waiting has paid off.  All the watering, and sunshine, and being filled from the inside has made the flower JUST as beautiful, JUST as amazing as God told her she was going to be!  She just had to wait.  I wonder if she hated to wait, just like me?