Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Thing about Money and Babies

I was thinking about the phenomenon of people who decide to stop having children on their own timeline, decide to "shut it down." To me, it's like shutting down streams of income. As I was thinking about this, a whole conversation came into my brain. And it goes like this: No one ever said...

"We gotta shut this down. We have all the money we can handle.

I am getting too old to run after this money. I wanna focus my time and energy on the money I already have.

Money is stressful, I'll stick with two dollars, that way I know I can keep an eye on it and still have time for other things.

Whoa--you have your hands FULL of money! How do you handle it? Money wears me out. It is so draining.

I want to enjoy my summer before I have any more.

This is wearing on my body. I've got wrinkles and stress marks from making too much money. The world is already too full of money, we'd better not add to that.

I can get this money that's being neglected over here, and it probably wouldn't be wise to make my own at the same time.

Before we make any more money, we'd better be able to prove we are able to manage it and take care of it all well.

What, Lord? You want to bless me by giving me more money? Noooooo, people with too much money lose their identity. I don't think I'm cut out for this. That life is just not for me.

I just don't want any more, and I don't like people who say I should have more. They are being legalistic and pushing their personal beliefs on others. I know you give me freedom, Lord, so, thanks but no thanks. Besides, I can better serve the kingdom and all these awesome ministries if I'm not bogged down taking care of so much cash.

Don't bless me any more, Lord. I'm maxed out. I'm done."

 LOL, you can tell I was having fun with all the excuses I've heard (or said myself in the past!) So, to run with this idea, of course the analogy is not perfect, it breaks down at some point, but here's another scenario:

Someone asks you how many children you would like to have. Why that's like asking someone how much money they'd like to have; how many jewels. I want to say, "Uhh....All of it? ...As much as God wants to give me." That is safe to say, right?

But then, here's the thing: do we hold out a giant bucket when God is wanting to give us treasure? Or do we hold out a small espresso cup, or even hold our bucket upside down? A friend of mine, while discussing this topic, said very humorously that in money's defense, her money never spilled the coffee beans all over the grocery store floor while she was trying to get its brother's foot unstuck from the cart. Haha. Good point. But:

Lots of money and lots of children both come with their share of stigmas, challenges, and responsibility.

And—here's something to ponder—there are MANY warnings in the Bible about the dangers of having too much money, but how many about the danger of having too many children? NONE. So why do we hear so much about that in the world—and church? So much worry, so much fear. So much self-serving, right-sounding, worldly wisdom. Our humanistic self has it backwards.

And by the same token, why is it considered OK to ask God for children, but not really holy to ask Him for money? We have to learn righteousness through poverty, right?

I want to challenge all these things that have become christianese norms. Where do the ideas stem from? Are they really Biblically sound? Are they truly Spirit-led? I want to REALLY examine God's heart on parenthood, why it exists, His BEST for marriage and society and Kingdom. They may make us uncomfortable, but we haven't really made an educated decision about family, and even finances, unless we've also looked into the possibility that God's desire wants to lead us down paths other than the current church-crowd way... Will you look?

Pippa, Pippa, Pippa

I have to write Pippa's progress report! I did this every couple of months with the older girls, and a little bit with Silas, but have hardly done it at all with Pippa. Ah, to be the 4th child.

Pippa is 19 months old now and...a go-getter. (Are there ANY 4th children that just sit around like blobs doing nothing?)

She has a handful of solid words now. The other day she pointed to a book and said "All of 'em." I thought, "What?! All of what?" When I realized she was saying "elephant." How cute! Every time you admonish her or tell her to do something or not to do something, she says, "Okay," or "Awipe." (all right.) Or "I won't." But she is just saying it cause it's the THING to say! She STILL climbs onto my desk despite all the Okays.

The other day, on our shopping day, I had all 4 children with me. Pippa, in one short day, accomplished all of the following:

Tried to get off of a play structure from a really high ledge, scooting forward. Her bum and legs were off, and she was holding on to the bars behind her with all her strength, shouting "Mama! Mama!" until I ran over and rescued her.

Ran off and climbed up the gigantic ladder in the aisle at Michaels giving me a heart attack.

Learned how to climb down from a shopping cart without getting hurt.

Climbed up AND down the big bunk bed that doesn't even have a ladder on it.

Got called "Pippi Longstocking" twice by random strangers.

Pulled a big tall dresser down on top of herself like it was nothing. (Yes, I sprang over like superwoman and saved her from true injury.)

Screamed like crazy when put to bed, then took matters into her own hands, climbed out of her crib, open the bathroom door, and hung out with me nonchalantly while I was showering. (I thought she was Silas for like 5 minutes, til I asked him to close door and he DID, but I heard teeny tiny footsteps, not Silas-sized ones, and poked my wet head out to find Pippa!)

Child is voracious. She also says crouton, apple, raisin, milk, cheese, i don't know (I nu no), Sparrow (wa-woah), bye bye, hello, baby, doggy (goggy), cuppy, bubble, bum bum, night night, milk, cream, knock knock, and her super famous, "I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO!" LOL, this one cracks me up, it is SO fourth child. When mom asks who wants food or whatever, all the older ones assert themselves and fall upon the goods. Pippa has learned survival: to yell " I DO!!!" really fast over and over, or she won't get any! She does it immediately when she hears the older ones saying "I do," even though most of the time she has no idea what they're saying it about! Hahahaha.

We call her Lee-lee. And Big Baby. And beanie. And jelly bean. Here she is in all her glory.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Thing About Cages and Courage

"Courage is about refusing to build cages." -Chris Guillebeau
"Faith is how you see." -Paul Manwaring

He was not a very special guy. But he was completely in love with my beautiful best friend. He would follow her around like a puppy. And it bugged the crazies out of me. Not because he was annoying, no, but because I couldn't understand and couldn't accept that my friend should have so many devotees grovelling at her feet (for so it seemed) while I was stuck being boring and unalluring. IT—WAS—JUST—NOT—FAIR. I was in high school, and on one of those summer nights at youth group, on which Floyd was again pursuing my blithe bombshell friend who cared nothing for him, I sat under the fluoresent lights of the church youth room and CRIED.  Other friends were even trying to comfort me; it was embarrassing. I had a boyfriend, for crying outloud! "Isn't it better to have one who loves just you, and whom you love, than to have a hundred pursuing you that you don't care about?" Yes, yes, I agreed in theory. But then—why was this eating away at me like poison? It was a matter of constructing cages, and a matter of being a prisoner inside my own negative vision of the world. I had built a cage around myself: multiple cages: insecurity, measuring myself against others, labeling myself negatively, "I will never have...," and the cages were being built up in my mind against others too: Bitterness against my friend, who seemed to find life so effortless, and who was endowed with a natural beauty I craved. Segregating "others" into the cages where they belonged, because I didn't want those people or need them anyways: The Beautiful. The Successful. The Savvy. The Multi-talented. The Courageous. Yes, I even had a cage for them. 

People, I am here to say that Jesus has liberated us of cages. When I was constructing cages for people as a self-protective mechanism (and let's face it, I sometimes still do), I was really building myself into a stronger and stronger cage. It was how I saw myself. Unable. Unblessed. And always, always poor. And since God wanted this for me, had made me this way, as a good Christian I'd better find a way to resign myself to my humble state, make the best of my cold cell, and try to be grateful He allowed me to live at all. It was really a hate crime against God. Though I didn't realize it, of course. The God of the Universe, who created me to shine and wanted nothing more than to see me sparkly, prosperous, happy, and free. Who had special and exciting adventures ahead just for my particular taste and excitement, and who was there to shower blessings on me if I would turn my cup up to receive them.You can't be truly thankful for the water in your prison cell unless you also have hope for experiencing streams of water in lush meadows, outside the prison walls.

More than ever, I am seeing that the thinking that shuts us up in cages of impotence is begun to be woven into us by Satan in early childhood, and as parents we need to be vigilant against the enemy in this area, and practice with our families true, powerful, and positive thinking, as God calls us to do in Philippians 4:8.

     Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is 
     pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if 
    anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

If I had only gotten into the habit of Philippians 4:8 as a young child, much grief could have been avoided. But I won't dwell on that for too long either, because as the song says, "It's never too late, it's not too late, it's not too late for you." Now is the time for courageous and freedom-based thinking. To promote others with a hearty yes and a good will, without the reserved little scrooge voice in there that would say, "but what if it hinders me in some way?" No. Now is the time to have the heart of Jesus for the good of every person. How could I have a goodwill toward others when I felt that God's will for me was not good, that it was something dreary and hard that I had to find acceptance for?  It starts with believing God is good, and that His goodness is not hard to define. It is not reverse psychology. It starts with knowing He is good toward you. This is why God says the greatest thing is love. Because love is the most freeing thing of all and will unlock our hearts toward the life of abundance that God wants us to experience, in this life and the next. 

 So, courage this week for me has meant taking a leap and stepping outside of the safe zone of knowing where our physical provisions are going to come from. It was between living extraordinarily, and taking action on our true calling, or... staying in the safe zone and knowing we would have enough for rent and food and Christmas presents for the little ones, staying in a safe life that was yet killing me with fatigue and meaninglessness. Does any of this sound familiar to you? ...What does courage mean for you?

I have started to unravel the normal life and begun (what is to me) a crazy journey of faith with my family. Doubters be silenced, because it is happening. It is happening because of love, and God's continually pursuing me (and my husband) (and us ALL) with thousands of hints of the greatness of His affection toward us, like Hosea, with love for a Gomer who would not believe that she was worthy of good, and therefore kept rejecting it and weaving her own heartache. We are on the road to home-based careers doing things that God has put into our hearts to do, things we love to do, things that are of value to others and will make a difference in people. We are changing our vision, and our entire framework of speech and thinking, and are called to help people change theirs. We are to become a spring in the wilderness, and not just continue to beg for a ration of rain like ever-parched desert ground. We have followed. Now it is time to lead.  

What is your vision? What is your passion? What do courage and faith mean for you? What cages do you need to step out of? Because I have a feeling you've been given all the keys, and that God is just waiting on you now, dreamer.