Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dad's Voice

This is "The Boy." Because Anson is our first (only) boy, we thought that was a suitable name. It should come as no surprise when our next child was born, she was cleverly called, "The Girl." When we had our third baby, and second girl, we called her "The Smell." So, this is Anson. He shares my passion for a good book, a cozy chair, and people. I almost cried the other day because I realized that anything good that I have or am, he inherited. (I say that humbly...I just couldn't believe it!) (I'm not deceived, he also inherited Adam's sin...)

So, we decided that we would allow Anson to play T-ball again this Fall. He loved it last year, and two of his favorite friends were playing, and we wanted to nurture those friendships. So, GO REDS! Now, I mentioned the things that Anson inherited from me. Mike is an athlete. A good one. Anson is still young and a bit awkward, I'm not sure how much of Mike he got in that way. Mike and I sort of giggle about it because we don't care what he does. We know that he will be used in great ways by God. In any event, he's got heart. If you want a good sport, someone who will make it to every game and not complain when he's the only one in short sleeves (oops), you should pick him first. He doesn't fight over the ball (Mike wouldn't mind if he did every once and a while), isn't a ball hog, and will still love the game win or lose. He's got heart. If you want to win, well, it's not always about winning is it?

The other night we were watching him run on out to first base and Mike yelled "Cover the bag!" Anson never turned around, he just gave Mike a thumbs up from the field. My heart beat a bit faster. The coaches were closer than Mike was. The other boys were running and carrying on. In all the chaos on the field, Anson heard his Dad's voice. He acknowledged it and kept moving forward. Mike has been talking to Anson ever since the Baby Center told us he had ears. He would read the Bible, sing songs, and just talk. When Anson was born, and we had cell phones, Mike would call on his way home and Anson would smile when he heard Mike's voice. It was precious. As soon as Mike got inside he would say, "Hi Boy!" and Anson would light up like a Christmas tree.

He still does light up. Anson adores Mike, he listens and he respects Mike. The reason he does is that Mike has been a constant. Mike is trustworthy. Up to this point, Anson doesn't have any reason to distrust his father. Mike has been kind, and loving. He has been just and merciful. He governs the kids with mercy and wisdom. In short, he's a good father.

So is God. I have mentioned several times (or at least once)John 10 in which Jesus shares with the Pharisees concerning the Good Shepherd. He makes it clear that the Good Shepherd knows the sheep by name and the sheep know His voice. I am just as guilty as the next struggling beggar of looking for "open doors" in order to know "God's will." or be certain that God really said what I think He said. When we don't see an open door, maybe it's just cracked, or perhaps we start praying that God will open a window that we can climb through and open the door. Surely that would be O.K. Right? Do you know what Jeremiah 33:3 says? We used to have it hanging up in our dorm room, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." I'm thinking that's an answer. Now, every time someone mentions this, we think, "Is it audible? Am I missing it? Do I need my hearing checked?" Now, I'm no theologian, but I believe that God uses His word and His Spirit.

Several weeks ago in a Sunday night service at church the Pastor read from Psalm 68, "God sets the lonely in families." I knew exactly what He was saying to me. My Spirit had been prepared by worship and the hearing of His word, and I knew of a friend that I needed to include more deeply in my life.

I knew that I knew that I knew it was the Lord. Maybe you are new to the faith, maybe you are skeptical of "hearing from God." Anson only knows Mike's voice, and is attuned to it because of the massive amount of time he has spent with him. He knows that sometimes he sounds like someone from Pennsylvania, sometimes he gets anxiously loud, and that his laugh is hysterical! Spend time in God's word. Make it a point to study, to memorize. Make Bible Study with others a non-negotiable part of your week. Honor the Sabbath and keep it Holy. I guarantee that you will begin to "hear" from God. You will not need to trust in "signs and wonders" as much because your Spirit will be sensitive to the answers that God gives you. Just listen, be aware, and before you know it, His will be the only voice that you hear even when the rest of the world is loud and chaotic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Say "NO"

I choose battles. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. Sometimes my desire to fight is determined by how dangerous the behavior/circumstance is to my child. Sometimes I guess socks with sandals will not kill them. Although, I do want EVERYONE to know that I am well aware of the fact that it is after Labor Day and socks should NEVER be worn with sandals…now you all know that I know that, so don’t look at me funny! I suppose it can never hurt someone to have a lollipop before dinner if you are at a restaurant and it will allow for pleasant conversation. I can handle that. I’m even OK every now and then if my children would rather sleep on the extremely hard floor instead of their bed…just go to sleep already! These are a few examples of battles that I will wave the white flag to. Go ahead, you win. It’s done. Put a fork in me, I’m done. So, what battles will I stand firm in? Some days it varies. There are always variables in parenting, aren’t there? There is the sleep variable. The “I have a new baby 7 hours of television will not kill you” variable. There is also the, “You can have Coke with lunch, you’re spending the night with Grandma.” These are only a few.

This morning I guess I was just looking for a fight. Julia has been asking for a while if she can recycle. I know that I need to do something to save the planet, but it’s overwhelming how much everyone is pushing. So, I decided that our “one thing” would be to recycle our grocery bags. You have to return them inside out, so we were turning all of our bags inside out. Anson was working on Thank You notes, so the girls and I were bag flipping. Well, Ella thought it would be a good idea to put a bag on her head. Because I am not 2 years old, I knew this was a really bad idea. Not only was it a bad idea, it was deadly. I immediately took the bag from her (duh) and said, “Ella I don’t have to let you put a bag on your head. It’ll kill you.” She was furious! In that second I thought of all of the times that God took the bag out of my hands. Ella wasn’t mad because she couldn’t suffocate. She was mad because I refused to give her what she wanted...her will be done. The ONLY reason I refused was because her decision would have resulted in certain death. Scream all you want, I’m not going to allow that. You can terrorize me all day long about gum and eventually I’ll give it to you. You can beg for popcorn with a movie and I’ll budge. I will not, however, allow my children to participate in activities that I know will, without a doubt, kill them. Physically or spiritually. That’s my job.

You know who else has that job? God. Do you know that the Psalms teaches us that God never sleeps nor slumbers? My husband is guilty of “dozing” while a game is on. I’ll tell him to turn it off and go to bed and he says that he was watching it. God doesn’t watch me like Mike watches the game. Do you know that God rejoices over you with singing? That’s right. He adores us in amounts we will never know. He is a good parent. He will not allow us to put a bag over our head. Scream all you want. He will not do it.

So, as we kick and scream and demand things that we think will be fun and good for us, perhaps He withholds because He knows what we need and what will kill us…or at the very least, send us to the ER.

Things are hard these days. I find that this is not as easy as I thought or maybe as I make it look. HA! Being a parent is so stinkin’ hard and I never turn off. Even now the girls are calling for me because like a moron I let them have a little bit of Coke with lunch and they were NOT spending the night with Grandma. Please, please, PLEASE GO TO SLEEP! What I derive so much security from is that I am a child, too. I have a good parent who is keeping watch. Jesus is interceding without ceasing on my behalf. He is not going to allow me to have anything in my life that is dangerous. He will take any bags that I am playing with. He'll do that because He loves me and because He is good.

“He will not let your foot slip---he who watches over Israel will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:3-4

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25

NOTE: After reading this again after posting I feel a little uncomfortable. I know that we live in a fallen world and there are things all around me that are harmful. The point here is that God is a good parent. He has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him, and is constantly keeping watch over us. I feel that it is very important that this be Biblically sound, and sometimes I just get nervous. So, please read your Bible daily...and I'll do the same.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

When will I see you again?

How many of you remember that song by Babyface? "When will I see you again...when will my heart beat again..." My brother and sisters and I say that to each other when we leave each other. I love that song. I can still see Babyface singing it on
VH-1, back when they played music! Well, I just wanted to say that is how I feel about this blog. I am in the process of decluttering our home and my time in order that I may become, fully, the woman that God has intended me to be. I was telling my rather organized friend that though it is not in me to spend hours finding the perfect place for things, it is in me to want to write letters and call friends. The very Spirit that was given to me as a seal, setting me apart as God's, has raised dead people. Surely, surely, I can order a few things that I might free my time up to minister to my family and friends as God has intended. So, I'm thinking about all of my dear friends that I do and don't know out there sayin', "When will I see you again?"

Just to give you an update and a few things that I've been thinking about. It is birthday season around here. We celebrated Julia's birthday on September 27th, then yesterday was Anson's birthday (his actual birthday is this Wednesday) and Ella's is this Saturday! Whew. We also took down the crib that's been up for 6 years, certainly the end of an era. Here's a little thought about that...

Ella has been out of the crib for about a month. We just had the bed sort of shoved up against the crib so that if things didn't work out we could just put her behind bars again. Needless to say, it worked out. The weird thing is that my children like to play in it. They throw pillows in there and ask me to throw blankets over the top to make's a real blast! The other day I was teasing the older kids when they asked to get in the crib to play and I grabbed them like babies and rocked them and talked to them like babies. They laughed and I asked them how old they are and when the last time they needed the crib. They sort of looked at me funny and I told them (still in baby talk) if they were babies they could get in there, otherwise, no.

1 Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."

What if you walked into my house and all of my children were still sleeping in cribs? Better yet, what if my husband and I were still cramming ourselves in cribs? You'd probably decline the next invite, thinking we were whackos and then you'd tell all of your friends how silly it looked. It is silly. My kids are too big for cribs. I'm too big for a crib. I'm a big girl. I think there are times in our lives when we want to crawl back into the crib. We want the safety of the bars, the lovey, the blankie. Paul teaches us that when he became a man, he put childish ways behind him. I'd say he took the crib down. That was no longer an option. I feel like I am growing up. I bought new bedding and I'm going to hang curtains. I want to be the woman, not the girl, the woman that God has called me to be. I cannot do that if I'm lookin' for my lovey and stuck in a crib. Emotionally, spiritually...I want to grow up. I want to see the issues that make me long for the safety of my crib and then I want to run as hard and as fast as I can to the arms of my Savior. Proverbs 18:10 says, "The name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe." So, if you are looking for someplace to go when you are scared and you realize that you are a bit too big for a crib, you can run to the LORD. Your strongtower. Your ever present help in time of need. I can't find scripture to back this up, but I'd venture to say that He wouldn't mind if we treated Him like our lovey. You know, couldn't calm down, or function without Him.

The other little snip-it comes from Wal-Mart. Now, a couple of years ago I did everythang (that is not a's to be read just like that)at The Wal-Mart. Now, something you must know if you do not live in the south is that Wal-Mart may be the name where you are, but round these parts we call it The Wal-Mart. "I need to get to The Wal-Mart." It's in a class all it's own. Okay, cultural differences aside, I was at The Wal-Mart...late. We were doing a Lego birthday party for Anson and I needed some cheap crap. Where else is a girl to go? So, it was probably 10:45 and there I was, at The Wal-Mart. As I walked up I thought, "Lord, e'rybody's out tonight. Whew, what bunch! Look at these folks. What is so important that they have to be out at The Wal-Mart at 11:00? Mercy." It was then that my sweet, sweet, Savior whispered ever so gently in my ear, "Ali, honey, YOU are at the Wal-Mart too. Just wanted you to know that, suga." I smiled. Jesus was right, again.

I try to keep this honest. Passing judgement is a serious issue of mine. My friend, Hadassah, has written some fabulous posts on this subject that have been extremely helpful. I look at people like I'm not right there in the middle of it. I forget that I was born of Adam's seed and have also received the curse of sin. I forget that I fall short. It's foul and disgusting, but it happens. For a good example of what I mean, I will tell you a quick story of my Grandma.

Grandma was a beautiful woman. The last 2 years of her life she spent in a nursing home, and fortunately I was in town and could go sit with her and visit. To hear her talk about the other people in the home was ridiculous. She had names for all "those people" and couldn't understand how some of them could be how they are, where they are. I found it comical because Grandma was there, too. She may not have been bedridden, or need someone else to feed her, but she was also in their situation. My Grandma has been gone for 3 years, but I still smile and giggle when I think of her. Grandma was in denial. That is why she was able to look at the others and separate herself. She was such a beautiful, well traveled woman, that to think that she was "in" with these folks was just too much for her to bear.

Much like my Grandma, I often live in denial and that is why I feel it appropriate to pass judgement. It is not appropriate to believe that there was any redeeming value in Alison Pyle (that is who I was when I was saved) that would cause God to rescue me from my mud and mire. It was His kindness. It was His mercy. It was His sufficient grace. He saved me, and He sustains me. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Jehovah Jireh

How many of you know that the Lord provides? How many of you have ever had groceries show up on your front porch? How many of you have found 5 bucks in your pants pocket when you needed just that? Escrow check anyone? Around here I call that "random money." Now, I know that God is sovereign over all, I don't want to be flippant when I call it that, but that's what it is. Just that random stuff that meets those special needs...right when we need it.

Anson and I have been studying (and really enjoying) a Bible Study called "God's Amazing Creation: Genesis 1-2" written by Kay Arthur for children. This is our second study and we have both really enjoyed the time studying together. So, we have been slowly making our way through the first chapter in Genesis. That is creation. The other day I had an AHA moment. When we wrote the days down in his "field journal" I saw the days laid out so logically. Then the questions that were asked, 1. Do you see a design to God's creation? 2. Did God create the world and the things in it in a logical way? 3. Is there order in God's creation? Those questions caused a light to go off in my head and a truth to descend on my heart. This may be elementary to some of is elementary, but this was huge to me. God didn't create anything until He had provided for it. The heavens were created before the sun, moon and stars. The seas and the land were created before the fish and the land animals. There were plants and animals and air and water...sunshine...THEN He created man. Do you see that? Before we were even CREATED we were PROVIDED for. Every need was met before man ever came to be.

The truth that descended upon my heart was that God is not going to provide...HE HAS PROVIDED. Now, we see him provide (present tense) because that is how we live, but God is not bound by time and He goes before us. Even when Jesus left He told the people that He was going to go before them (us) and prepare a place for them (us). God is proactive. In my pea brain I have believed Him to be shocked by my needs and maybe even caught off guard. "Oh no...Ali needs size 6's for Anson! How did I miss that. Man is that boy growing like a weed! Julia wants a dress to spin? Ella has wide feet and needs church shoes? I better get busy!" Not anymore...I do not believe that. My God is a great God. He is adequate, sufficient, all-knowing and all-powerful. My needs do not go unknown, as petty as I think they are.

So, tonight it was time to pull the clothes out of attic and sort through them to prepare the great switch! We have two seasons here, HOT and cool, but I still have to pull clothes down. Let me tell you what...I'm always shocked. Why is that? We always have what we need and there are always at least 2 dresses that I would have never been able to perfect condition. God knows my heart. I have beautiful girls and I love to see them in beautiful dresses. He is so good.

I can trust God as my provider because from the very beginning that is what He was. Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The God who was and is and is to come. So, that was my AHA. I pray that it will meet you where you are, that you will be able to trust the good hand of your good Father. It may not always be in the manner you think it will come, but I think all of us can look back over the course of our lives and name many situations when we had no idea how certain needs would be met, yet we have great testimonies of God's faithfulness. I would love to hear your stories...and we'll magnify God together.