Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Prayers are answered

        Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! 
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, oh grave? Alleluia!

On Easter Sunday, my oldest daughter made a public confession of her desire to serve the risen Savior for the rest of her life. I have had a hard time writing about this as it seemed to somehow diminish the sanctity of this event by posting it on the blog, but then that seemed hypocritical considering Christ is the center of my life and to deny access to that area on my blog would be denying who I am. So here is the story...

About a year and a half ago, Muffin said that she wanted to be baptized. This brought up a conversation about why one gets baptized and she stated that she wanted to ask Jesus into her heart. We talked to her some more but since she is our oldest, we had a really hard time discerning her heart. Here is the sad thing, if ANY other child in the world would come up to me and say, "I want to ask Jesus into my heart" I would
immediately open up a Bible, ask them some questions and pray with them. Why is it so much harder with my own children? I question her motives, consider the depth of her understanding and wonder if she knows enough to make this commitment.

So Andy took her to talk to our Pastor. He gave her a tract for kids (not the particular one in this link but you get the idea)

He told her to read it and discuss it with us when she was ready. She did read it. That night. And when we found it some time later, we found the notes she had carefully written in the margins. Things like, "Wow!" when reading about the sacrifice of Christ. And "Yeh!" when reading about his resurrection. Then she signed it and dated it that she had prayed the sinner's prayer. She did not talk about it with us for some time.
I can't explain or defend our lack of action on this. Certainly the Holy Spirit was pressing me to act but I could not figure out how.

About two months ago, Muffin began attending the worship service with us instead of the children's service. We had been encouraging her to attend one service a month in first grade, two in second and now she wanted to go with us almost every week.
These verses were an encouragement to me:

"He called a little child and had him stand among them.

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." Matthew 18:2-5

So I began to pray during our Pastor's invitations each week that God would pull her to Him during an invitation. This was kind of my "Gideon's fleece" (Judges 6:36-40). I never talked to Muffin about coming forward during an invitation, I waited to see if the King of Kings might call her to Him in that way. This kind of public display is not in Muffin's nature. She is an introvert. So on Easter Sunday, when she tugged on my shirt and said during the invitation, "I want to ask Jesus into my heart" I knew that the God who knows my fears and doubts was making Himself real to her. Andy took her forward where she talked to our Pastor. He reminded her that a child's first commandment was to obey her parents and encouraged us to continue the dialogue with her.

We went straight to Andy's parent's house for Easter dinner and Muffin stayed in the car to talk to Andy. He made sure that she understood what was happening:
1. Did she admit that she, like all of us, was a sinner?
2. Did she recognize that God is Holy and our sin separates us from Him?
3. Did she know that Jesus Christ's (a sinless man and God at one time) death on the cross was a sacrifice without which we could not stand before a Holy God?
4. Did she want to accept the gift of salvation and spend the rest of her life in service to Him?

Praise God, the answer was yes. They prayed together and came inside to share the good news with our family. She was so excited and I think was unprepared for the overwhelming excitement of each person she told. It was wonderful to see and now that I've written it, it all seems so simple-why did it take this long?

Monday, April 6, 2009

When I am Weak He is Strong

Sometimes I don't know what to do.
There. I said it. The truth is out. Those of you who thought I was a perfect mom who knows everything and even teaches a parenting sunday school class- now you know the truth. And the rest of you (well, really I'm pretty sure no one falls into the other category so this means you) well now you've heard me admit it.

Overall today went very well. But the last few hours degenerated into sheer misery for all in my home. It started when I went to pick up Muffin and Doodle who had had the rare privilege of spending a play date with their friends who are sisters and the same age. They had an awesome time but as is usually the case, the leaving was difficult. This is not a new phenomenon and I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't figured this one out yet but here is the basic premise:

One or more young children do not want the fun of a play date to end. Silliness (like hiding or running away) ensues under the watchful eye of the host family. I respond good naturedly and then my tone gets more serious and involves significant eye contact - "Get your shoes on and meet me at the door". About the time we get into the vehicle, the dam bursts and fights break out among my previously cheerful children- who pushed whom into the car, who touched the other's seat, who dared to exhale just as a sister was inhaling, etc., etc.

My voice gets more serious and my statements become more command-like, "Do NOT talk like that to anyone." "If you touch your sister again, you will lose a bedtime story."

Next in the pattern, "Why are you so MEAN mommy?" Who me? The one who arranged this playdate with the other parents, the bus barn and your school? Who me? The one who drove 30 minutes each way to pick you up? Who me? The one who let you play an extra half hour while I visited with the lovely host family? Who me? The one who picked up all the stuff you dropped in the driveway because you were crying too hard to see?

And here is my open and honest question - What do you do to teach your children to be thankful for the fun they have had instead of bitter and angry that it has to end? I am at a loss.

Thankfully, I am not LOST. I am constantly reminded that my God gave me these children for a reason and that He is teaching me about His character through all of these trials. Just tonight, after I had spent about 1.5 hours trying to resolve a computer issue, I rewarded myself by checking in on some of my favorite bloggers. Now this one is always one of the first I check each day. For some reason, I put her off earlier today but tonight I took a few minutes to read her entry for today. I had to cry. I knew God had her write that for me (by the way, she has a very funny introduction but I'm talking about the meatier part after that). Even in my weakness as a parent, He is strong. Anything I can do right is because He is perfect. Thank you Lord (and Melissa) for that reminder!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is it Monday yet?

Whew! What a weekend! Andy left early Saturday morning with his brother to go to Detroit. He scored some tickets to the NCAA Final Four tournament making all of his friends and acquaintances madly jealous. This is how it works so you can tell (or not tell) your husband. After this tournament is over, interested people put their names (and $25) into a lottery for tickets. Around August, they draw for the tickets to next years tournament. If your name is chosen, you are charged for the number of tickets you requested. I'm thinking it was $150 or something like that for each person. Then you get tickets to the two semifinal games on Saturday (the actual Final Four) as well as tickets to the National Championship game on Monday night. Then you come home really late on Monday night or stay one more night and take another day off of work. Your choice. Andy is staying one more night.

Also yesterday was my aunt great-great Aunt Elsie's Memorial Service. From what I saw, it was a very nice service although the length of it rivaled my own wedding (I've been told it was rather long but I had no concept of that at the time). Since Andy was gone I had to manage with Mator. She actually did a great job for the first half hour but then I had to take her out. We could still hear from the Narthex but then she got loud out there too so I moved to another room. Then she wanted to return to the "show" and I thought we'd go into the narthex and listen but she got a head start and went barrelling down the side aisle. Naturally, my command to "Stop." was completely ignored and I was left with the debate of which was more irreverant- running after her down the aisle as she was giggling at the chase or letting her continue down the aisle, possibly to the waiting arms of my mom who was sitting in the choir loft on the stage. I elected to give chase, scooped her up and made a hasty exit far-far away.

There were many nice church folks who came to honor her and support my mom and I was so thankful. After the service we had a reception for family at a local restaurant - Billy Crickets. My in-laws had come to the service and offered to take Mator to their house so that I could enjoy the reception and I happily agreed. There were about 50 of us there in a private room and I had lots of opportunities to visit with my aunts, uncles and cousins while Muffin and Doodle played with the other kids. I'm pretty sure they ate, but not entirely positive. I know I had a lot of good things!

We didn't get home until nearly 11 and it was Doodle's turn to sleep in my bed since Daddy was gone. It went well until about 3:00 AM when Doodle began running her marathon....on my back. Somehow she had turned completely perpendicular to me and had her feet planted against my back. Once I turned her the right way it was fine.

We made it to church on time and even to Sunday School. I was in charge since Andy was gone and I think we had a pretty good discussion. He developed a chart to break down sinful behaviors, a biblical goal that takes the place of the behavior, scripture to back it up and then an application column. We went over that for self-control vs. emotion driven behavior and had a lengthy discussion on how to use the fruits of the spirit to train up your child.

It is a beautiful day here so after lunch we had some outside playtime and now some down time. We are planning on heading to church tonight to see our Easter Cantata. Mufin has school tomorrow but the rest of the week off for spring break. Now guess what day we're expecting a possiblity of snow??