Why A Pound Of Ground Beef On My Washing Machine Means I Should Memorize Scripture

It was a typical afternoon activity for me.  I was walking in circles in my house trying to remember something. 

I needed to remember where I had put the pound of ground beef I’d taken out to make stuffed peppers for dinner.  Since we were in the middle of a heat wave, it was REALLY important to remember before the stench of rotting meat jogged my memory.

There it was!  On top of the washing machine.

Yeah, that makes sense.

I’m sure it all had something to do with having the meat package in my hand when I heard the dryer buzz, but the truth is I do stuff like this all the time because I am so easily distracted.  I often tell people that I used to have a brain; now I have children instead.

Which is why I memorize scripture.

Did I lose you along the way?  (Maybe you are on top of the washing machine; did you check there?)  Let me explain the connection:

I need to memorize scripture because my brain cannot be trusted to hold onto things very well.  I may know on some level that everything else I’m doing should be done with love because love will hold the rest of my efforts together, but I am going to lose that knowledge in the mad shuffle of life if I don’t work hard to keep it front and center in my thinking.  If I have chosen to focus my mind on memorizing Col. 3:14, gone over those word of truth again and again and again and again, then I am much more likely to remember to carry the love I need with me into my other activities.

I don’t want to accidentally leave LOVE on top of the washing machine.

 

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What Happened While I Was Praying Colossians 3

Last weekend I was with 7 Sisters at the Great Homeschool Conventions Northeast event in Hartford, CT.  We had a vendor booth there, and met the most wonderful folks.  What a blessing to get to sit and talk with homeschool families who are using our curriculum, learning about their challenges, struggles, and successes, and being able to pray with them.  I LOVE my “career” as a BIG SISTER to other homeschoolers; can you tell?

With all six of us on site, we took turns working in the booth and going elsewhere at the convention, to workshops, to other vendors, etc.  I was roaming at one point and felt the Lord tugging on me to get off to the side in some quiet and pray.  I pulled up a chair outside the food court and got as quiet as I could (it was an exhibit hall; the word “quiet” has to be defined in that perspective!).

Immediately my mind went to Col. 3 because I’ve been working with it daily this month.  So I sort of “ran through” the passage mentally for a moment.  I got to verse 12 and pulled up short —

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…”

God said, “That’s the essence.  For right now, grab onto that tightly, Sabrina.  You are not a homeschool curriculum vendor.  You are not a homeschool mom.  These are jobs, but they are not your identity.  Who are you?

I said, “I am Your chosen woman, holy and dearly loved.”

God said, “You forget that way too quickly.  Meditate on that for a bit.  How does that change your actions, your attitudes, your fears, your relationships?”

So I sat with it and meditated on who He says I am.  And then I started to get excited for my sisters back in the vendor booth.  So I began thanking God for them, for who they are even when they are not working shoulder to shoulder with me in 7 Sisters.

“Thank You, God, for Allison.  She is Your chosen woman, holy and dearly loved.  Thank You for Marilyn; she is Your chosen woman, holy and dearly loved….”

As I finished the list of my dear friends and business partners, God ramped it up a notch.

He said, “Look across the aisle.  See the lady with the Art booth?  She could use someone praying for her right now.  You’ve never met her, but who do I say she is?

I said, “Thank You, Lord, for her; she is Your chosen woman, holy and dearly loved.  May she see herself as You see her.  May she find her identity in Christ.”

God pressed on.  “Pray for every person here.  The unity you have in My name is so far beyond what you realize.  You look at each other as strangers, but I have given you My name, and I want you to start recognizing each other as family.  You can start by talking to Me about all of it; keep thanking me for what I have done in the lives of each person here who follows Me.

Wow, what a paradigm shift!  I strolled the vendor aisles passing family after family, vendor after vendor, thanking God for “that mom with the baby in the backpack; thank You that she is your chosen woman, holy and dearly loved Thank You for saving her.  Let her see who she is in Christ Jesus.”  I thanked Him for “that vendor with the cool swords.  Thank You for being his Lord and Savior.  Thank You for choosing him to be Yours, for making him holy, for loving him dearly.”

What would happen to the witness of followers of Christ all over homeschooling if we began to pray this way for one another, to see each other as the redeemed of the Lord, celebrating His work in all of our lives, instead of focusing on labels, externals, and the things that show how different we are on the surface?  Jesus prayed it for us when He was in the garden – “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”  (Jn. 17:21)

What do you think?

 

Applying What I’m Learning Over an Omelette

I wrote that last post, “What Not To Wear” and was feeling pretty good about the lessons God’s been teaching me.  Then God decided to show me how nervous I get when I really have to apply something, and do it in a different way than I anticipated.

Sunday morning is always action-packed at our house.  (You, too?  Huh….you must be involved in church leadership of some sort.)  I woke up with Day 3 of a migraine, and the headache had majorly spiked instead of waning as I’d hoped it would.  I managed to get the edge off with some medicine and coffee and yogurt, so I got clean and dressed and was about to leave for Worship Team practice when I realized the just-turned-eighteen-and-working-two-jobs-and-rarely-home son was still asleep.  Since he plays lead guitar on our worship team, I thought this was a problem.

I tried to wake him; he tried to wake up.  He was FRIED, with all capital letters; the dude was just wiped out.  I pointed out (like a good, loving, Jesus-following mother) that he has a commitment to fulfill, people were depending on him, blah-blah-blah.  All true, but a bit…shall we say “lacking in compassion”?

I headed out to church, encountered the newest in a long, ongoing series of sound-system problems, and spent the next hour fighting a losing battle with the sound board in the back of the sanctuary.  FRIED son never arrived.  The service was about to begin and I got a text from him.  “I’m so sorry.  I really, really, really tried.  I just couldn’t get it together to be there in time.  I know I disappointed you; I’m so sorry.  I just don’t know what to do.”

Woof.  Suddenly in my mind’s eye I saw my bright pink stilettos from the last post, fabulous, but not always appropriate.

I am a BIG believer in church attendance, y’all.

I don’t like to miss church.  I don’t even miss it when I have a migraine (well, not usually, anyway).  I love to be in church.  I love to lead worship.  I love to get up on Sunday mornings and head out the door to our worship service.  I’ve had my kids in church every Sunday for their whole lives.

But there I stood in the church’s sound booth, hearing the pain in my son’s text, replaying the pale exhaustion I saw on his face when I woke him up, and imagining me in my pretty pink stilettos stomping all over his weary heart in the in the name of worshiping Jesus.

I prayed.  It was super articulate and stuff.  I think I said, “Okay, God, don’t let me screw this up.”

I checked in with my husband.  He said, “Do what you gotta do.  I’ll be praying for you guys.”

And I left church, met my son in the parking lot as he arrived (too late to practice with the band, but he was still there before the service began) and told him we were going to breakfast.

Yes, I confess.  I ditched church.

Or did I?

We went to a local diner.  We ordered omelettes.  We prayed together while we were waiting for our food.  We thanked God for all the gifts he’d put in my son’s life, for the diverse talents He’d given him, and for the strong work ethic He had built into his character.  Then we humbly asked Him for wisdom to know how to number our days aright (Ps. 90:12).  We asked Him to show us how to live life in His fullness rather than being chewed up and spit out by a to-do list that is never completed.  And we thanked Him for the food, because no one wants to eat an un-blessed omelette.

The next hour was spent carefully examining what’s in balance and what’s out of balance in my son’s schedule.  We prayerfully prioritized his activities.  We discovered (well, I think he already knew it, but his mom has been blind to it until now) that he has close to 75 hours of work scheduled into every week, and that is crazy and unhealthy no matter how much you want to quickly make money to apply to your life goals.

We reconciled our own relationship; I asked him to forgive me for my lack-of-love in my attitude toward him earlier that morning.  He admitted his feeling of helplessness in trying to make everything fit; he wants to honor his commitment to worship team and he wants to be in weekly fellowship at church, but he is also overwhelmed and sleep-deprived after two months of this pace of life.

I laid aside my Sunday-best high-heels, put on fuzzy slippers, and ate omelettes with my son.

And I think Jesus was wearing His fuzzy slippers right there alongside us.  I think we had church in the diner.  Would I do it every week?  Nope, but yesterday I was called to minister to one person with a crushing burden, and I obeyed that call, even though it involved a diner booth instead of pews.

So why did I feel guilty? 

Apparently I have more to learn about what to wear, what not to wear, and how to trust God to select my wardrobe pieces for me.

 

What Not to Wear

So I’m plugging along on my memorization of Colossians 3:1-17.  I haven’t actually gotten to the “clothe yourselves” part of this passage yet, but I’m pretty solidly memorized through the “What Not To Wear” section (sexual immorality, imupurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lying).

But I’m thinking about clothes (and shoes, of course).

They’re fabulous, of course…but always practical?

My clothes say a lot about me, but they are NOT me.  They don’t walk around without me in them (at least I don’t think they do.)  (Of course now I’m thinking of Dr. Seuss’ “What Was I Scared Of?” a.k.a. The Pale Green Pants with Nobody Inside Them.).

I wear what I wear because of choices I’ve made.

Some outfits look really good on me; some look atrocious; lots of my outfits are okay, but nothing to get excited about.  In the same way, my actions are not me, but they are the result of choices I make and they give a peek into the motivation that brought them about.

The “What Not To Wear” section of Colossians 3 has lots of things listed that look ugly, and they don’t happen by accident They are the result of choices I make.  Just as I don’t look down surprised to find that I’m wearing a sequined tube top and Daisy Dukes, I don’t accidentally slander people and gossip about them.  Those things are ugly, and I choose to do them.

Not only that, but what’s appropriate to wear changes over time and circumstance, doesn’t it?

Hardly attractive, but sometimes they fit the bill perfectly.

Little children wear bibs because they are awfully messy when they eat.  The motor skills just aren’t there yet for neat dinner times.  They don’t even really notice that they’re wearing bibs; it’s just normal attire for them because of their immaturity.

In the same way, immature followers of Christ can be expected to be a little messy.  Maybe the way they speak about others isn’t very careful; they don’t even really understand that they are tearing someone down with their words, or gossiping, because they are still kind of oblivious to how messy that is, and how it looks on them.

But if I still have a bib on at 40-something, you’d scratch your head and wonder what was wrong with me.  Lots of behaviors that bother me in other people are more an evidence of their youth and immaturity than they are anything else.

Why do believers who have been with Jesus a long time still find it easiest to focus on those things, even if we know the root cause will be worked out over time?

Am I willing to look carefully at the other end of the spectrum, the place where I am most tempted to mess up after lots of years with Jesus?  How about us mature believers, the super-polished, wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-dribbling-when-I-eat types?

Do I sometimes have on a perfectly coordinated ensemble, matched accessories, and incredible stilettos……when I show up at the park…only to find that I can’t play nicely with others because I didn’t dress appropriately for it?

Do I sometimes talk church-ese to someone who can’t understand that what I want to be saying is this: “Wow, you must be in so much pain right now!  I care, but even more important, can I share with you how well God takes care of me when I’m hurting?

Do I invite someone to a special service at church when what they need is someone to listen to their story and buy them a cup of coffee and a donut?

The clothes don’t make the woman, but they are evidence of the woman’s choices.  My actions aren’t a full definition of me (sometimes I meant well and something got scrozzled in the execution, or in the perception of my actions….and sometimes I’m still just too young to realize that I’m choosing poorly), but they are a very telling indicator of what I’m focused on.

Can I find the right fit for the need in front of me? ‘Cause that’s what it is to dress for success.

If I wear a fitted linen dress (’cause that way I know I look GOOD!) no matter where I’m going, how will I ever sit down in the sandbox at the park with someone who’s broken-hearted?   How will I be able to stand the thought of all those wrinkles?

Am I willing to clothe myself with LOVE over all else?  If I love others, I won’t be bothered by the spaghetti sauce on their bibs.  And I won’t be afraid of getting something messy on my outfit, either.

And I’m pretty sure I’ll look better myself, too.

 

 

So far so good….Colossians 3:1-17 Challenge

It’s June 5, and I am pretty solidly memorized on verses 1-6.

First I copied the whole passage into my handy-dandy spiral notebook that I carry just about everywhere with me.  Writing it by hand is a good tool to help things stick in my brain, and having the verses on hand wherever I am is important for quick brush-ups throughout the day.

I wanted to be memorizing this bit-by-bit, incorporating the discipline into my days instead of setting aside a couple of “power-chunks” of time to commit it to memory.  I used to memorize lines for shows and such in power-chunks, and while it works for me, it doesn’t encourage meditation on the Word, which is pretty much the whole point of doing this anyway.

So I found an association and linked working on this with my stretching and core exercises (I use resistance bands and have a simple, gentle routine I do each day to be kind to my back and try to make my tummy pooch out less!).  I run over the verses I’m focusing on first two or three times, then lay the notebook on the floor next to me while I do my mini-workout.  Saying it out loud also keeps me breathing smoothly while I’m exercising instead of holding my breath which I’m sometimes tempted to do.  I’m exercising my body and my spirit at the same time, right?

So far so good on these verses….(I’m typing from memory, but you’ll just have to take my word for it, I suppose):

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above and not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, you also will appear with Him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:  sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry.  Because of these the wrath of God is coming.

Hooray...I think I got it right!  🙂

Good – Better – Best: Ruby Slippers

Appreciating the stuff of everyday life is important!

GOOD:  Ruby slippers from my 18-year-old son Jake for Mother’s Day.

BETTER:  They fit like a dream.  I click my heels together three times…

BEST:  The note from Jakey duct-taped to the shoebox.

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