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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On sacrifice and such things...

I've been thinking a lot about sacrifice recently. Maybe because I read this verse the other day:
"It is dangerous to make a rash promise to God before counting the cost." - Prov. 20:25
I guess making promises to God is a little like making promises to people - don't make them lightly. But what catches me up is the "making promises to God" part. I've become very hesitant to promise anything to God. Am I gun shy?

Well, I guess so. See, there are a whole host of "promises" I made to God, vows you could say, that later when the going got hard and my heart was getting bitter, I began to realized I only promised as an attempt to persuade or bribe God into giving me what I want. Like this: I will sacrifice my time, hobbies, my wants for the great commission but I want a godly spouse. I will be faithful to discipline my kids as long as they change!...and stop disobeying. I will be faithful to give my money generously as long as we don't see financial hardship. None of these thoughts went consciously through my mind at the time. Only later when the spouse wasn't happening, the kids weren't changing, the money wasn't flowing that my heart grew hard and bitter. Well, fine then, I won't [fill in the blank...]

So, now I pray diligently before I make spiritual commitments. Is God leading this or me? Is God leading this or my feelings of inadequacy? Is God leading this or my frustration with life? Is God leading or my desperate attempt to find some concrete rule I can stand on?

Does every decision to sacrifice need to be spiritual? I don't know. I make lots of sacrifices that I can spiritualize but aren't really spiritual at the root [for me]. Like calories. I will sacrifice calories, dessert, or that piece of toast at breakfast to lose a pound [or two :)] I will sacrifice a portion of our budget for a gym membership, cause I value exercise. I am a better mom when I spin my physical wheels hard core for an hour a day. I sacrifice personal time, a second income, and a piece of my sanity to homeschool my kids. And while I engage and dialogue with God on these subjects a lot, they didn't necessarily start there. God never said, "Alyssa, skip the toast this morning." I just committed to it.

But then I guess God did say, "homeschool your kids." And it is a good thing I know that, cause at the end to a very frustrating or difficult day, I can return to solid ground by remembering that this is God's thing, not mine. No amount of legalism, "supposed tos," or other people can get me through the challenging task of parenting my kiddos. Only God, and knowing I am parenting them how He wants me to. Not how He wants so-and-so to parent their kids.

I don't know where this post is going. I am just sad to see so many people burned out and bitter at God because he didn't "hold up his side of the deal." It is indeed dangerous to make a rash promise to God before counting the cost.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Lowe visit!

Our fabulous friends came to visit this last weekend. There is nothing like old friends. Old as in we walked through many single years together, engagement, early marriage and the birth of each of our children together. There is a reason we stayed up long after the kids finally went to bed...a little too long and yet not nearly long enough.

We were remarking on all the "little years" with our oldest, where we would have to constantly watch and interfere as they took toys, hit, pushed and fought [mostly my spirited daughter] and now they could play content for hours without a problem! Glory and Abishai well... they were inseparable.  And Esme finally broke out of her shell and joined Ruth in a whole bunch of crawling, giggling, roaring fun games. It was a blast!

Here are some of my favorite moments from the weekend:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Out on a limb...

And all I have to say is...
This last weekend was 
sort of
 gut wrenching. It wasn't just one call, one email, one Facebook post. It was many. Cancer and depression and heart problems...hard pregnancies, hard marriages, hard toddlers.
Where are you wife? Chris questioned the vacant expression that accompanied me most of Saturday. I wasn't with it. I was out of it. But when you see other people in pain, it is sort of hard to figure out how to be in it.
What am I doing here!? Why am I doing what I am doing?! Sometimes the unexplainable makes me try to explain myself. Sometimes the unfair trials in other people's lives make me  question the unfair blessings in mine.
We do a lot of adventure talk on this blog. Google [that all powerful source of need-to-know-info] defines adventure as:
An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

Other's have defined it as outdoor activities that involve risk. What do I define it as? Offhandedly: outdoor pursuits that leave you breathless but soul fed. [And we all know, being a parent, that a simple trip to the zoo can become an epic adventure.] But does it have to be outdoors? Does it have to be by choice? No and no. Can life be an adventure [albeit a sucky one] if your going through a divorce? What about if you have a kid going through chemo and a hike is not on your list of to-dos for the weekend? Can you still lead a full life? OF COURSE I SAY!
But it seems plainly insulting to refer to the deep, rendering, gut wrenching experiences of many as simply an adventure. When so many of us also refer to our afternoons swimming, a hike, a climbing trip, or a night in a tent as the same thing. Somehow it misses the heart ache. It lightens the otherwise dark, tragic and dreary reality of our broken world. But perhaps the pain, sickness, brokenness is more of a real adventure than anything we [meaning us] can contrive of every weekend.
 it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.

Do all these extracurricular pursuits we promote really make your life fuller? Yes. [I answer this one from personal experience.] But are they necessary for a full and meaningful life? No. Then, I ask myself, do I drop all I know and enjoy to find the one thing that is absolutely necessary?
 to dare to go; to dare to say

What if that absolutely necessary thing is woven like a thread through the fabric of history. Through each tree that smells of butterscotch and pine. Through each bird that sings atop the tree I moved 10 feet above on the second pitch of our climb. What if that absolutely necessary thing for leading a full life was in the mountains, the snow, that soft whoomp that settles up your legs as they carve into the next powered filled turn. What if it wasn't climbing, biking, hiking, camping, skiing, mountains, sunsets, sunflowers, or raging rivers that filled our soul - but merely what and who they reflect? What if that necessary thing was a person? What if it is Jesus?
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

If you'd like to join us in praying for a dear family we know, their daughter was just diagnosed with cancer. Here is a link to their blog and story: Victorious is her Name.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My inner incognito

The dark shadows bounced around, mirror to mirror. My legs pumped. Up, down, up, down, up, down. We all were, a small pack moving nowhere, burning energy.

But in my mind the mountains flew by, the sun burned bright but didn't burn me. The sun and the trees and the smells were real, just not real. My legs burned, my hip strings strained.

Then the beat hit. Hard. Rhythm on the wings of lyric and sound drove my legs on. The hummmm started in my toes and drove me further and farther then I thought I could go. Then I wanted to go.

I am a dancer, incognito. A musician that will never master an instrument. But beat starts and turns and flutters around my space. And I blend like a rhyme. It drives me on. It takes me to a different place. Past where I think I can go, to something bigger than myself, outside myself, beyond myself.