Thursday, September 30, 2010

On omg, etc.

Excuse me, my toddler is listening. He is absorbing words the way water is to a person with a fierce thirst.

Years ago, I was chattering away with a friend on a bus when a parent turned around and requested that we change the subject. My friend Meghan and I were talking about our "weight issues" and how we wished to lose a few pounds. There was a little girl sitting in front of us. Her dad overheard our (apparently very loud) conversation. And he put a stop to it.

My face was hot with embarrassment. We were quiet the rest of the ride. I was glad that he shut us up when he did. Wouldn't it be awful if a couple of obnoxious college girls made the child thinks that she needs to lose a few pounds?

This post is not about a healthy self-image.
It is about taking the Lord's name in vain.

Though I hear / read them often enough -- "God," "Lord," "Jesus," "Christ," I am still surprised and distressed whenever I hear Christians use them in their exclamations over trivial things. I am not sure what is behind it. Ignorance perhaps? Is it fashionable? Is it so we can look somewhat "edgy" as Christians, more like the world? Or it is a mindless habit?

I grant that the fourth commandment "do not take the name of your God in vain" covers a whole lot more than just "do not use his name as a casual verbal filler." But shouldn't it at least require that we pay attention when we do use God's name?

Jewish people, ancient and present, refuse to even say God's name out loud when they read Scripture. Instead, they read "adonai" (lord) at every place where Yahweh occurs. So much care goes into how they utter, how they bear God's name with their lips.

This brings me to the oh-so-vague acronym OMG. Yes, yes, your G means "gosh" or "goodness" or "god with a small g." But, you know what? I can't tell. It's like when girls tell me that they are wearing shorts under the oh-so-short skirt. Well, um... I can't see your shorts! And frankly, does it matter? What matters is what I do see.

All of this will seem ridiculous someday before the throne of the Almighty. There will be nothing cool and convenient about the careless words that we speak. By our words we will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37).

Hans puts it quite bluntly:
People are dying for the sake the name. What are you doing?

So, please. Toddlers everywhere are listening, please watch what you say.

This is a plea for you, for us.
We are all toddlers
learning to walk, learning to talk.
Wouldn't it be awful if I cause a little one to stumble?

Monday, September 27, 2010

No space

This day marks four years and four months since our wedding. Hans said his vows to a very different person that day. I have a hard time recalling who I was, mainly because I cringe at the thought of her. Be assured that I am still that selfish little person, but she was a lot worse.

We had not lived in the same city before getting married. So, those first few months were very sweet. Every meal was a date, every dinner an event. The phone seemed especially repulsive. Its one worthy function was no more. I think I am just beginning to recover from my disgust towards that object.

I enjoyed exclaiming silly things like "No space!" Sometimes because his presence was too good to be true. Sometimes because I was feeling insecure. Either way, I wanted to be with him.

I liked clinging to him, I still do. I even made him miss Emeth's birth because I was clinging to his neck. But that's a different story.

In Hans' sermon this morning, this was his illustration for Matthew 11:28-30. It was no more than a few sentences at the end, but it made me cry, because I knew exactly what he meant.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Having a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light? How is this even possible? The utter abandonment of the world and all its pleasures? A sword between parents and children? When is following Christ "light and easy" like the fat-free butter in the refrigerated section at Target?

Yet, it is.
It is the easiest thing in all the world
when we desire nothing else
but to be married to him.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death...
(Song of Songs 8:6)

Friday, September 17, 2010

On Dark Chocolate

Welcome to my head.
I am about to let you in on a conversation I had with myself earlier today.

Oh no, oh no! Don't explode!
... *sigh*
Nooo! This is the second time in 10 minutes!
And why does it always have to be on the cute outfits?
Come on, let's change your diaper,... again.
Argh. More laundry to wash.
And I still have to vacuum...
I. Am. So. Tired.
I try and I try and I try.
And I fail.
*feeling reeeal sorry for myself*

Stop it. It's not that bad.

I can't! There is so much to feel bad about!

Stop whining.
Things can be a lot worse, you know.
Just think of the days when disposable diapers did not exist.
No washing machines.
No OxyClean.

How did they get rid of stains?

Think of people who live in the desert.
Women had to walk miles just to get pails of water!

Fine, fine. I get it. *sigh*

It's been a bad afternoon.
Let's have chocolate.

OK! *my heart smiled*

mmmm.... Dark chocolate with bits of sea salt.

*reading the label*
Yikes.100 calories for 2 squares?!
It's worth it.
Wow... Made in France?
Hans is such a sweet husband.

See? Things are not that bad.

OK, fine. Life is actually quite good.

*rolled my eyes* Drama queen.

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?... This self of ours -- Do not listen to him; turn on him; speak to him; condemn him; upbraid him; exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know, instead of listening placidly to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you. For that is what he will always do if you allow him to be in control. The devil takes hold of self and uses it in order to depress us. We must stand up as this man did and say, “Why art thou cast down? Why are thou disquieted within me? Stop being so! Hope though in God, for I shall yet praise Him…" (Psalm 42:5)
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 20, 21.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My tongue hurts. I bit it. I bit it real hard yesterday while trying to contain my annoyance, while telling Emeth he needed to be patient, while I was trying to calm the screaming Yohanan in my arms.

Wait. I thought I was the disciplinarian in this parent-child relationship. Why do I often get the feeling I am the one getting the time-outs?

My tongue was not able to move very much today, which meant I wasn't able to raise my voice. I was forced to talk at a slower pace, with fewer words. I listened to myself, I sounded somewhat gentler. I wonder how I usually sound like when my tongue doesn't hurt.

Law and grace are not polar opposites. They flow in and through one another. My hurting tongue is God's grace to me -- reminding me to obey his law of patience and kindness. It is grace that we require Emeth to hold our hand when crossing the street. It is grace that we have laws in our home.

Apostle Paul was really onto something when he told those Corinthians that love was patient and kind. Are you sure he had no children? And by children I mean toddlers and babies. Somehow, he knew that's exactly what parents needed to hear. I thought I was pretty kind and patient until these two little ones showed up.

Again, why do I feel like I am the one getting the time-outs?

Because I am.
Because He loves me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Because I have not died enough

Every now and then, usually around seasons of transitions and uncertainty, I get all worried about the future. In my head, I imagine myself standing before all these different paths, leaving me confused as to which of these paths to take. In my head, I imagine all these different options of where I would like to go, who I want to be.

I never seem to learn, because the truth is, there are only two paths.

The path wisdom
and the path of folly

The path of the righteous
and the path of the wicked.


And there are only two destinations.

Blessedness or Destruction.

Hans reminds me that God is always letting us know where he wants us to go, the question is whether I am listening.

Each day presents hundreds of little moments where I have to decide which path I want to be on.

Am I patient, or not?
Am I kind, or not?
Do I forgive, do I believe, do I love?

I would like to think that these hundreds of smaller moments are chiseling away at me, helping me to die little by little, in order that I may become that new creature who would know better the will of my Father.

I am grateful that I do not yet know what the Lord would have me do five/ten/fifteen years from now. Because the me of today would probably not like it, not understand it, rebel against it. Because I have not died enough. Because I have not lived enough.

So, until then, help me see the step immediately before me.
The night is dark, Lord, I need your light.