Saturday, December 20, 2008

God's Storehouse

The 38th Chapter of Job is one of my favorite passages of the Bible.

In it, God is talking to Job and sorta straight-shooting with him about His power. (Job had been in a period of testing and despair - God was setting him straight about Who was in charge, not only over Job but also lightning, snow, the ocean, lions, etc) Anyhow, the whole chapter both thrills me and comforts me.

It thrills me to know that when the weatherman predicts "abominable, drastic, deadly" weather (like he has today with this upcoming winter storm), I actually know the One in charge of all of it. It thrills me to know the Lord has such POWER and can use nature to humble man and cry out to Him. This power can also be contained and can be used to delight and inspire a soul - He can drift little icy filigrees just as easily as He can swamp a city. It thrills me to know the Lord has this power and yet can be exceedingly gentle with me as well - like a mother is with her child, He says. He can choose a mighty thunderclap to get my attention, or a tender pastel sunrise. It thrills me to know He's got storehouses of snow, and can hurl lightning bolts and can limit where waves can! What a God!

So, tonight as I am home from a freakish blizzard walk...I am at peace. I'm thinking that God's storehouses aren't "snow only" - I think He's got other storehouses full of gifts as well. Peace among them....also These gifts also awe and draw glory to Him, much as the snowfall and storms. And like weather, these gifts can either be rained down gently, or flurry about us in the dark, be hailed upon us mightily, or swirlingly waft around us, ethereal as fog.

This Christmas, I'm looking to Heaven for my gifts, as the region looks to the heavens for signs of weather. Topping my list is wisdom, followed by joy and peace. Praise to the Lord, abundant in all these things - mighty ruler of all - sovereign owner of the gifts - gentle lover of my soul.
"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail?" Job 38:22

Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows
James 1:17

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tiptoe at the Crossroads

Today might be the last day possible to write such a blog.

Because my blog theme is "a lot can happen in a year," I must take a few minutes to describe the crossroads at which we are standing tiptoe - trying not to squint too hard at the future, but curious about the path ahead, nonetheless.

Today we might get a college acceptance's in the air, as some of our friends have received them by now. Abby near or far, Purple or Crimson....

Next week, Jon has an interview for a Microsoft project in London/Paris, that could redefine our next 2 years of family life and what we've mapped out for Katie's senior year...

Next month, a possible job opening for me at the church. Part time, but still with a part time impact on the family. It actually would be cool to see God's hand in this - the job has been on a low simmer since October of 2007! I'm excited to see His purpose and plan for it coming into reality.

Next year, a schooling change for Ben. At this point we see no clear direction - that could be because God has that overseas opportunity instead - but we are evaluating all the options. Public high school, private high school, a hybrid of classes combined with Legacy....we are blessed to have choices! But we want to be wise and mindful of whatever God's best for Ben we pray for guidance.

So, from today to next week to next month to next year - changes and choices abound. We are at peace regarding them all, knowing the Lord has gone before us and true to form, will be gracious to us...providing for all of our needs, and designing a future that is good and will glorify Him. It is exciting to be at this crossroads and to imagine the possibilities!

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Regrets - Looks Like I Have a Few

Regrets are very unfashionable.

Even to say "I regret my parents divorced" seems to imply you are regretting a milestone that "made you who you are today," and so in essence, regretting something in your past is regretting your true self. Pfft!

Jon and I discussed regrets in parenting last month. We were speaking at a young parents' Life Group on the topic of parenting, so the subject of "what we did right" also begged the question "what mistakes have you made" in parenting....preparing for that talk was a good heart-digging time for us. Fortunately I am Oprah-ized enough to recognize most of my mistakes in parenting have actually turned out ok - it's "who I am today" and also "who my children are today."

Maybe it is because we are so close to the holidays that one regret has surfaced though, and is still an area I am working through.

In an effort to limit materialism, selfishness, greed, and debt, we have always had the policy that birthdays and Christmases are the time you can ask for (and receive) things like toys, videos, cds, clothes,! The rest of the year is spent just enjoying those items, and by waiting for holiday gifts, you don't have to deal with the daily distraction of greed. The exception to the clothes rule was getting basics at the beginning of a school year or sports season, or buying an item because a stage role or occasion warranted it. The kids were also free to buy their own stuff (if they had the money - subject for another post).

The downside has been this: I have two children born the week before Christmas. As a result, their wish lists wait for one week of the year...and while they are non-materialistic (parenting goal reached), their wardrobes suffer with this policy. Especially this year with the Recession - we're scrimping for not just ONE holiday, but three (including one sweet-sixteen birthday). Not only do we have a Recession, but also a campaign at our church to reduce consumerism. Shopping is politically incorrect this holiday at OCC....but giving is in.

I guess my dilemma is with balance. Balance of consumerism vs. voluntary poverty. Balance of daughters who aren't slaves to fashion but also who aren't looking like a member of some polygamous sect either. Balance of teaching them how to budget for clothes with the idea of "wants not needs." Balance of giving and saving. Balance of dressing attractively but not to attract. Balance of being low maintenance as a woman, and of keeping the focus on godly character. Balance of living within a small budget when it comes to beauty upkeep so that more money can be donated to those in need. Balance of how much you think of yourself versus thinking of others, and letting your money and time reflect that.

It was easier when the kids were growing and you could replace their clothes because they outgrew them. But for girls, the teen years marks a slowdown of that growth, and they enter the phase of life that says you buy clothing only if you get fatter or thinner...or if you want to remain trendy...or if your old stuff wears out. It's an interesting time to budget in fashion - at what point is it a "want" versus a "need?" How well does the mom reflect appropriate priorities? At what age do you begin to teach these values? To what degree will you sacrifice trendy in order to budget in more charitable giving? To what degree will you abdicate the title of "cool?"

Parenting teenaged girls is such a check on my spirit! They are so aware. Not judgmental, but aware - how much was that haircut? How much did you spend on those boots? Is that a pro pedi or did you do it yourself? Their eyes watch and their brains evaluate - habits are mimicked, values are taught. I'm pretty sure boys wouldn't notice any of that!

So if I could do it over, I'd do a combination of two things:
  • Have you heard the one about the "3 Gift Christmas?" I like it. Basically you are limiting your child's gift number to the amount that Jesus got, so it can't get all out of control.
  • Because we'd be limited to 3 gifts, I'd make sure to budget (as in, spell it out and live it out) monthly expenditures for clothes and personal maintenance. Therefore, the girls' wardrobes would be kept fresh without sacrificing the focus on Jesus at Christmastime. Crown Financial Ministries has a good budget calculator - I'm considering implementing it for 2009. ( )
...give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
(Psalm 30:8-9)