Tuesday, December 31, 2013

of pride, humility, irony, grace. just all of it.

It's kind of a family joke that us Hopkins have a good sized egos.    We like to call it a healthy self confidence... perhaps too healthy.   Is that possible?


When your ego (or mine in this case) gets too confident it quickly and lastingly turns into pride.
Isn't that one of the seven deadly sins?


I think over the last year I've let pride get a strong grip on me.
From my view I was managing life pretty well.

5 kids?--  I've got this.
Husband working a lot?-- not a problem,   I'm used to it.
Meaningful service at church?  -- check.
Social life?-- blessing upon blessing.
Healthy grieving following the loss of our baby April?  -- Thank you, Lord.  Yes.

When things are calm and life steadily rolls,  pride sneaks in.   I begin to think that every move I make,  every word I speak is all good,   all right,  all according to God's plan.

I wholeheartedly believe that truth,  that of God's sovereign will,  His plan,  His purpose.   Each high and low and middle ground I experience is part of this.

Here's the thing,  though.  God created me with free will.  So when I make mistakes,  or let's call them what they often are -- Sin,  that is on me.

After hurting a long time friend last year through a series of prideful actions I am learning just how hidden my ego and pride are to me.   This has caused me to be largely silent here at the blog but also because I started to think that writing here seemed like a big fat brag and I needed to shut-up.   
Here are MY thoughts...
Hey - check out MY kids!!
Look how I have MY life put together.

I wondered if this blog, much like Facebook is only another avenue for self promotion and it made me uneasy.  Not because I am a private person (I'm not) but because who in the world am I to say anything at all?

I often have a skewed attitude and no perspective
I make judgements.  On people,  situations,  and anything else I can form an opinion about. 
I consider myself responsible to change others,  outcomes,  and situations.

It all reeks of pride.
Could I be more fallible? 

Yes.  Here's how...

As I read more teachings on humility and pride  I see the irony and twisted humility I possess to even write about this struggle.    Knowing this,  should I never introspect?   Perhaps I should just shut down the blog and deactivate my Facebook.    I'm not clear yet what God is calling me to do, but I am searching.

I read this quote from Tim Keller last week and found inspiration to complete this post.   You see,  I started writing it months ago and was stuck every time I tried to finish.
I felt I couldn't complete the blog post until I had nicely put this pride struggle in the lesson-learned-never-to-repeat compartment.   I'm realizing now-- that compartment has a revolving door.  

In this New Year I pray for God's Grace and His Spirit to fill me more and more.  

Let true humility reign.   
Keep my ego in the right balance.  
Gratitude,  always gratitude. 

The Radical Humility of Jesus

Thursday, September 12, 2013

a new school year... infused with 10% more gratitude!

I haven't blogged but twice in the last year and I hope to pick this up again.  There have been many thoughts that swirl in my head and heart the last 3 years that I've found helpful to explore here in blogsville.  Reading my former posts also creates for me a convicting archive to look back on and see if I've grown... as a mother, a wife, a follower and servant of Christ.  And really, if I'm not growing, what's the point of all this expression besides just a bunch of cyber hot air? 

I wrote the post copied below one year ago today.   It's really kind of amusing and comforting to read it now as I feel very much the same.  Minus the orange soda disaster but with the added bonus of even more inside out, balled up sweaty soccer socks. 

Yes, today's post is a bit of a repeat but I had to jump start the minivan somehow!

more(new)to come.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

small victories.

"Made it to Tuesday!"  my friend texted me yesterday.

I smiled because I was really feeling that text. 

Making it to Tuesday seems almost laughable doesn't it?
How can we not make it to a Tuesday?  it's only the 3rd day of the week,  how hard can it be?

Sometimes Monday is such a Monday, that Tuesday's arrival is a thing of victory!

"Made it to Tuesday!"
It's not nearly as accomplished as the victorious shout,  "TGIF !!!"
...but, at times it sure feels like it.

It's that time of year where I have to right my attitude rather often.
School is back in session,  and with it comes all the busy.

The big irony of my life is this...

It annoys me.  Unlike some,  I don't thrive on chaos,  but secretly wish I did. 
I tend to lose function (and graciousness) right at the height of the busyness.
It's not a great scene.

After those moments I am always left with this:  a pile of crying kids,  sky high laundry,  incomplete homework.   Oh, and let's just throw in a completely spilled 2L of orange soda,  Dan working out of town and a teething toddler for good measure.

How do I reconcile my aversion to busyness with the reality that I have 5 kids going in 5 different directions?  I ask myself that question quite often because wishing my life was slower paced,  more home based and less minivan occupied is really not going to help matters.   I must take actions to keep myself from the quicksand of grumbling discontent.  

This week's action:  ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE
with a rambling  manifesto  prayer...

How can I not completely bust open with thankfulness for all that God has given me?  Does sticky orange soda ALL OVER EVERYWHERE really amount to anything when compared to the 5 healthy, funny, naughty, unique kids that spilled it?

NO.   Our kids are gifts.  Every moment that I cart them around, wipe their butts,  fold their laundry, make their sandwiches,  give them tylenol,  cheer them on, and put them to bed is a gift of a life with them.
Yes,  of course I will feel like I am going off the rails from time to time but, Lord,  help me not to lose perspective for too long.  
God,  speak to me when I can't seem to do one more math problem or tackle the dishwasher for the millioneth time   Remind me Lord, that these moments are purposeful, sacred.   
YOU have called me to them.

During it all help me celebrate the small victories,  see the wins, may they stimulate my day and my attitude so I know just how precious this life is.   

May I always thank you, Lord for these days... even the Mondays.

The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases,
His Mercies Never Come to an End.
They are New Every Morning,
New Every Morning.
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Oh Lord.
Great is Thy Faithfulness! 

Lamentations 3:22-23 

Monday, April 15, 2013

an offering

I remember my Mom telling me what song they sang in church the Sunday morning following my delivery of our 5th baby,  a girl we named April.     Mom said I would have had a difficult time singing the words,  as did she that Spring Sunday morning, 3 years ago.

Blessed be Your Name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

The reality of pregnancy loss and the literal giving away of our deceased baby to the nurse was,  as the lyrics of the song truthfully convey,  a painful offering. 

Was it a true offering?   Something (someone) was being taken that I was unwilling to give.  At the time it seemed to make no earthly sense.
Why was I given only 17 weeks to carry her? 
Was I to offer God the life of this baby?  a life that had already ended?  

I used to think of an offering as a voluntary action.  I give my time or my service,  or maybe even a gift or tithe.   Offerings were something I initiated,  that I was comfortable with.   Meaningful and fruitful,  but not painful offerings. 

3 years ago today God moved in my life to make an offering of a different sort.   When faced with the devastation and sadness of April's death I learned (although not immediately) that I had to offer it all back to the Lord.   The confusion,  the ache,  the tears,  the emptiness,  the doubt,  the fear.    I had to release my plans,  our hopes for the child this baby would become.   Hanging on so tightly to these things would never give me peace.

The song continues and within the chorus, these words:

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

I had always found these lyrics perplexing.
Yes,  God gives.  That was easy to see.  All I had to do was look at the beautiful faces of my 4 children.
He gives immeasurably more than we need and most certainly more than what's deserved.  Perhaps this song speaks also of the comfort God gives,  or the Grace and love he lavishes on us.   Or the joy in Salvation that circumstance can't deplete.  
He gives.

But,  the next part...
He gives... AND takes away?  Lord Blessed be your Name?  
If I sing this,  do I claim that God took our baby?   am I supposed to praise His name anyway?
That seemed to make lesser sense.
Praising God in the midst of pain is work,  it is a choice,  it's an offering.  It takes faith.  For me it opened my heart for healing.  I believe this song speaks also to the way Jesus takes away our hurts,  our anger,  our sadness,  our guilt,  our sin. 
He takes. 

I don't want to imply that 3 years later everything is tied up nicely with a bow and this chapter is closed.  Nor do I mean to over simplify healing or equate my loss with the pain another may be experiencing.  I do desire to be honest about what I've learned.  I am thankful to see the ways the Spirit moves in my life through our loss of April.    So, yes.  Her short life was an offering.   An offering of my heart to ways that were not my own.   A yielding to the Father when my circumstance was beyond my understanding.

In those days I realized with new eyes that God held my life,   just as He held April's life until the moment her heart stopped beating,  and that He holds her still today.

If you are new or are interested in reading more about my story...
 Here is a link to click.  It's a summary with additional links to other posts.