Monday, March 18, 2013

Giving Up...

We are told to never give up, or if you're a fan of Galaxy Quest "NEVER GIVE UP!  NEVER SURRENDER!" But as an on Orthodox Christian I am asked each year to do the very opposite.  I am supposed to "give up" and definitely "surrender".

Today is the first day of Great Lent for the Christians in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  One of my hopes for this season is to surrender my time so I can be truly present in my home and with my family.  I'm here, but I'm not always here.  My mind is wondering about this or that and I often take "just a moment" to look something up on my computer or phone.  All those moments stacked one on top of the other makes for a lot of time not in the present.  So I've decided to give up computer time when my children are awake.  I am leaving time to write and other business things I have to take care of online. I honestly didn't think it would be too hard, but I was wrong.  Any time we try to tell the flesh "no", we are met with resistance.  Even if it's something we don't really care about, as soon as we put up some boundary, whatever is on the other side of that boundary suddenly becomes valuable to obtain.

I was surprised at how often I wanted to reach for my phone today.  Okay, more horrified than surprised.  I wondered why on earth I needed to know so many, often unimportant, things.  Who cares?  Does feeding my impulse finding out the name and previous roles of an actor I can't place from a show we watched the other day benefit anyone else, or even myself?  Do I really need to know the majority of what I look up right this very moment.  No. 

In her book Who Is God? Who Am I? Who Are You? Dee Pennock does an excellent job describing the passions.  She says the passions are usually normal/good things that get out of hand.  For example: a camp fire, when camping, is a good thing, but a forest fire is not.  A stream is a good thing, but a flood causes extreme damage.  This book was written for teens, but I learned so much!

Lent is a time to purposefully face the forest fires burning out of control in our lives and turn to our Lord to extinguish them.  It is the time we acknowledge we are trapped on some rooftop in the midst of a flood so that our Lord can part the waters, command them to recede or teach us how to swim. 

There is a beautiful protestant hymn I used to sing in church.  The first two verses and chorus speak what my hope is this Lent;  full surrender to the One who gave Himself fully for me. I am such a weakling, but His strength is sufficient.  Praise God!

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
    • I surrender all,
      I surrender all.
      All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
      I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
 I noticed today how much "me time" I desire and how I can justify that "need" considering some of the challenging children who live in my home.  Not to say in any way it is not beneficial to obtain rest and get recharged, but I am seeing now any "me" time is not for me anyway.  It is all His time. 

It will be interesting to see what I learn this season...what I allow Him to teach me.  May the Lord be glorified in all things and may we seek Him during this Lenten season and every day of our lives.  Amen!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

When Mamas Get Sick

I seem to remember reading somewhere in the Mama Handbook Revised Edition that mama's aren't supposed to get sick. Our job is to take care of our young ones when they get sick.  Sniffles and perhaps a slight cough are allowed, but full on flu or sinus infection or, in my case, strep throat!  I'm sure that's on the list of banned illnesses.

When my children are sick I pull out my "sickness bible" Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child, and usually whip up some concoction to bring "ancient" healing to my child. I mean St. Luke was a physician and I'm quite certain his medications could be found in his garden :) Don't get me wrong, I definitely believe in Western Medicine but I also believe in climbing the care ladder one rung at a time and not jumping to the top rung at the first sign of a non-emergency condition. Many times these lovely remedies work and that makes me feel like a capable mama. I try to pray for my sick children and anoint their heads with holy oil. It feels like a gift to me to be able to care for them. But when I'm sick I can't drag myself over to the bookshelf to look at the grown up version of the "sickness bible", I forget to pray and the oil doesn't cross my mind.

But what if this illness is part of what is necessary for my salvation?  What if this mama getting sick is really a gift?  How could that be possible you ask?  I'll give you a few examples.

1. This illness has allowed me to see what capable young adults my daughters are becoming.  They stepped up right away and have blessed me so much during this time!

2. Last week my 8 year old said he didn't know if he wanted to be a Christian anymore because after confession he always found himself doing the same wrong things just a few days later.  But during my illness he was the one who though to get the holy oil and add three capfuls to my water to aid in my healing.

3. My husband has had not one complaint about me being sick.  He doesn't grudgingly take on 9 kids (okay, only 6 count as "kids" anymore).  He looks at me with my Brillo pad hair and grungy clothes the same way he did on our wedding day.

4. I had to stop.  Yep.  I had to stop everything and humble myself and LET people take care of me.  I had to LET them bless me. 

Now, this is just a little illness and I know there are many a mama with chronic or even terminal illnesses but I did learn a lot.  The chapter in the Mama's Handbook needs to be updated to include the the verse about all things working together for the good of those who love Him.  The illness isn't what was good, but God took that bad thing and did work it together for my good.  When my friend was dying, the Lord brought her family together and worked in such a way that she, who had mothered many, was cared for so lovingly by her family.  God is merciful to us, even in sickness and for that, even with all the aches and pains, we can rejoice!