Communion, Children, and Concentration

Communion, Children, and Concentration

Generally, when one has a kid, there is an understanding that worship will be different. You may not be able to listen to the sermon as well (at all?). You may miss some of the songs (discipline issues? Poopsplosion?). You may only get to hear the first half (or third?) of a prayer.

But, following the wise advice of an older mom, I have found that one area has improved for me. I have been better able to focus during communion.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I have stood and bounced, rocked, nursed, cuddled, and cajoled a fussy baby. We have our days. We have our weeks sometimes. Sickness, stubbornness, and silliness can all be a challenge on occasion.

But stay with me.

Communion might even get better after you have kids. Here is what my friend shared with me.

You might think of the Lord’s Supper as another high pressure point–after all, it should be at least somewhat quiet, just like in the sermon, which of course means that your kid is much more likely to cry, talk, giggle, etc. Toss goldfish, puzzles, and books in their direction until they find something to occupy them, right?

Maybe not.

What my friend did was something a little different. And of course, not every Sunday worked out like this. But the ones that did were amazing.

First, she would hold her two little girls in her lap. In an intimate whisper, she would tell them the best story ever told. She would tell them of Jesus. Of his life, of his great love, of his sacrifice, of his undeserved pain, and of the wonder of his resurrection. She would tell of the Last Supper. Of what the bread and grape juice symbolized.

And she told them how very special this was–and that some day, they too would participate in these special moments focused on the Savior. They too would get to take part in Communion. That they too would be a part of the greatest, blood-bought family there is: the church.

And in telling them that precious story, she herself absolutely focused on the most important subject there ever could be: Christ and his sacrifice. She was focused, not just in bringing herself closer to Christ but teaching her children to do so as well.

Today, her kids are grown. These beautiful, Christ-like women each have talents they use for God. And now, they each participate in the best supper there is–the Lord’s Supper. They give me hope and renewed energy. Their very lives and examples encourage me to keep on doing this tough but rewarding job of motherhood.

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May you be encouraged to do likewise.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2

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Do Your Rocks Fit Your Jar?

Do Your Rocks Fit Your Jar?

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Rocks in a Jar

Have you ever heard of the teacher who put rocks in a jar?

He asked the students if they thought the jar was full. They answered, understandably, that yes, it was full.

He proceeded to pour in handfuls of gravel. He asked again if the jar was full. This time, suspecting what he was hinting at, they responded no.

He then poured in sand and asked the same question: Is the jar full?

The students agreed that it was still not full.

Finally, he proceeded to pour water into the jar so that each space, truly, was filled.

What’s the point?

That we can always add something to our schedule, no matter how busy and hectic we are?

That we should always make time for every appointment that comes our way?

That even when we are exhausted, we must feel immense guilt unless we say “yes” to anything else?

No, not at all.

The point is–you can only fit the rocks in if you put them in first.

What are the rocks?

The central, biggest rock should be God, of course. But connected to Him, we also have some important areas of stewardship (God-given, I think, in many regards). Our families, our church families, ourselves, our work (whether that be at home, a paid position, or both), and our influence on those around us.matthew-6-33-34-pinterest-1

If we don’t intentionally make time for these “rocks” in our lives, often the “urgent” supersedes the “important.” Deadlines, phone calls, emails, and outside pressures can sometimes make us feel guilt and stress and worry–for things God has not actually called us to do. What has he called us to?

Matthew 6:33-34 says:
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But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Our first job, in all things, is to seek God first. If we don’t get that one priority right, we will find our life feels hectic, out of control and imbalanced–because putting God first is always the right balance.

May we each seek Him first in all we do, in every hour.

I found the inspiration and analogy for this blog post from Nancy Eichman’s book “Keeping Your Balance.” It’s an excellent read! You can find it here.

 

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A Letter to My Toddler

A Letter to My Toddler

I love…

  • the way your hair looks when you first wake up. Poking out, bed head, carelessly askew.
  • how you yawn, bleary-eyed and sweet. It’s contagious, did you know? Even to me.
  • the way you eat. Somehow you’re always hungry. Your excitement, your expressions, and  your great love (still!) for milk.
  • the way you sing, lustily and clear, or when you drowsily hum right before you sleep.
  • the way you never walk–you’re too energetic for that! You tiptoe, run and hop and jump. And that is only the start!
  • the way you fold your hands right before we pray. They’re so small and innocent and I love them just that way.

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And I love…

  • how much you love to read. You never tire of it, even when it’s been an hour and I am ready to quit!
  • how much you love little dogs, bunnies, cats, and armadillos. Anything that’s your size is such a fascination.
  • the way you hug me with chubby arms around my neck, or when you throw your whole body at my knees, or when you just give a side peck.
  • your wet sloppy kisses, how you don’t know how to kiss. I love that sweet milky breath and I don’t care that I get wet.
  • to watch you puzzle out how things work. I love to watch you every day with something new to learn.
  • your awe and surprise because the whole world is new. I see God’s creation in a different way, all because of you.
  • how much you grow each day, or sometimes, it seems, each hour. I’m not exactly sure where time’s gone; I just know that it’s expired.

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Sweet child, I love you oh so much–more than you know. But not more than your Heavenly Father, who I pray you learn to know.

You see, it’s God who gave you to your daddy and to me. Every good thing comes from Him–and you are one of those things!

I pray your faith begins to sprout and blossom, bloom and grow. I pray that hope will ever spring even when you’re feeling low.

I pray so many things for you, my dear, but most importantly, I pray for you to love our God–to know him eternally.

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May We Be Like David

May We Be Like David

It must have been a morning filled with apprehension, excitement, and nerves. The prophet Samuel had traveled a long way, to “make a sacrifice” – but his real motivation was something greater. He was looking for the next king of Israel. The next man to lead God’s mighty, beautiful, vast, yet flawed people. A man who must be strong enough to lead men to war – but humble enough to seek out the Lord’s wisdom first, in all things.

Jesse must have been a very proud and excited father. He brought 7 of his sons and let them pass before this intimidating and renowned prophet, a man of God, given intimate knowledge to choose which son was to be chosen.

What a let down when they all passed before him and none were chosen! Can you imagine the nervous sweats and the trickling doubts that must have happened to all the men there?

May we be like David

And yet, God reminded Samuel:

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

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Samuel, Jesse and the brothers had to go out to find the “lowliest” son – the one left behind because he couldn’t possibly be important enough to even be considered! And yet, he was the very one God had chosen – because, quite frankly, God doesn’t use such silly things as “human wisdom” to make his decisions. He can see past the facades, past the physical prowess, the handsome faces, the great “act” – right into the heart.

He did so with David and his brothers. And he does so still today.

He can see your heart. Even what you hide from your husband, your kids, your coworkers, your best friend. He can see through it all.

And, depending on the state of your heart, that can either be a great comfort or very uncomfortable. May we give our hearts wholly and completely to be seen, molded and shaped after God’s own heart. May we be like David.

Be Still: Self-Control in God’s Presence

Be Still: Self-Control in God’s Presence

My son has just recently made the transition to his big boy bed. You know, the one without any constraints, the one where he must use self-control, where there are no crib railings to enforce his staying in one spot.

And it is hard–so very, very hard–to have self-control. He has fallen asleep on the floor, behind his door, under the bed. He has over-enthusiastically piled so many books on his bed that there was no longer any room for him. (After all, I had said he could take a book to look at quietly. Surely, thirty books are better than one?) He has wandered out into the kitchen in the middle of the night (looking for a midnight snack?). And he has quietly come out to his living room bucket of toys to begin playing in the morning.

But I remember the first time he successfully fell asleep in his bed and actually slept. All it took was being still for a few moments. A little modicum of self-control and then something bigger and more powerful (his sleepiness) took over, and he was fast asleep.

Of course, you and I both know that one success does not a habit build. But it is a start! And over the course of days and weeks, he has begun to make that habit and I no longer search for his little sleeping form draped uncomfortably over toys in his room.

In this one area at least, he has learned self-control.

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I think of a passage in Psalm 46:10:

“Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

Our own need for God is a little like my little boy. We need just that start of self-control. Just an ounce. Enough to come before the great God of the universe. To be still before Him and to let something–Someone–bigger and more powerful than I take over.

And it’s at that point we can see ourselves as we truly are. We can see the beautiful, magnificent, and glorious God for who He truly is.

All we have to do is be still.

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