Saturday, March 31, 2012

He's a Texas Boy...

And finally got his first ever pictures taken in the bluebonnets!

I got some cute ones, and of course have to post them all. ;)

Love the expression in this one below. I think it says, "Dad, you are totally ridiculous."
And this one.

Digging for dino bones in the sand pit!

He wanted me to take pictures of his boo-boo.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Missional Mom: In Review

The Missional Mom by Helen Lee is a great book I just finished reading with my Austin Stone moms group. We also attended a 4 week series of classes at the church while reading it. If you are a Christ-follower and a mom, check it out! I got so much out of this one, so I thought I would highlight the points that jumped out for me on the old blog.

It begins by begging the question: What Happened to the Joy of Parenting?

This author identified several questions that she struggled with as she began her parenting journey, questions I think don't get talked about often enough in Christian circles. Because these questions should only come up in the secular world of parenting, right? Was losing myself in my home life--leaving behind all semblance of the person I used to be--what motherhood was all about? If motherhood was supposed to be a high and holy calling, why was the daily experience so draining and joyless? What was I supposed to do with my pre-motherhood experiences and education, with the gifts and talents God had given me, which I never seemed to be using anymore? Was I a bad mother for asking these questions? (I will add that while a lot of this book is directed toward stay-at-home moms, she definitely addresses working moms as well.)

The author describes her interviews with multiple "missional moms" throughout the book, stating that they "take their callings as mothers and wives seriously, but they are also dedicated to furthering God's kingdom. They seek to place God first and foremost, even if it comes at a cost to their families. They live countercultural lives, lives that may look 'foolish' in the eyes of the world but that reflect great wisdom in the eyes of the Lord."

She also quotes the book of Luke in saying, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded." I think in our abundance of American blessings, this is easily lost and forgotten.

As I read on, I was relieved to realize that, literally, our highest calling is NOT motherhood! "Our primary calling is to be with God, to immerse ourselves in his immeasurable love and grace." And our good deeds must flow out of this, lest we should make the mistake of striving to "do" more for God.

She sums up our mission (everyone's mission) through the Great Commandment from Matthew 22, " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."

The Great Commission from Matthew 28, combined with Jesus' final instructions in Acts 1, give us our mission: "Be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to do everything I have commanded you."

On one hand, our home is a missional outpost, preparing those inside it to go out into the world and serve God with their own unique gifts and talents. "But it also means the family as a whole supports the parents in their respective mission fields." The author gives the example of one mom who had set aside a talent she possessed, sewing, to care for her little ones, later realizing that she could actually find ways to continue to use this talent to bless others, while raising her children at the same time. She had something to offer besides changing dirty diapers.

There is another section on the cultures of over-achievement, consumerism, busyness, and overparenting. Our society is often consumed with success, with children being "gifted & talented" or some other measure of precociousness. A plethora of activities to educate, stimulate, strengthen, and otherwise busy our children are available. Jesus clearly teaches that he takes primacy, not our family. Even today's Christian culture can make a mom feel guilty for not completely devoting herself to her home. This book is full of examples of moms doing amazing things for God, things not directly related to motherhood. They spend 2 weeks in Africa on medical missions, they take the lost and homeless into their own homes, they move to some of the worst neighborhoods in America to love the lost, they found international organizations to aid the sick and starving. My friend Charelle is leaving her husband and three young boys to fend for themselves for two weeks while she cares for orphans in Kenya this summer. These moms live life open-handed.

I will point out the author is quick to recognize that, while in the season of caring for little ones, moms will necessarily have their time limited. Daily life is challenging. Rest in the fact that it is only a temporary season.

The movie "The Blind Side" should not be a fearful or revolutionary idea to us. But somehow Christians in America seem to have been blind-sided as to what our calling is. We are Christian Consumers at best. While attending class together and reading this book, we also examined the beginning of the book of Acts, which is an ideal portrayal of what the Christian community should look like. How could I have missed this? (What a novel concept; if you actually read the Bible and read it looking for who God really is and what He says, you move past the self-centristic views on scripture that propagate lies.) For example, I think Jeremiah 29:11 is a very dear and probably a very frequently misused passage. There seems to be a pervasive sense of "God is all about me and my prosperity" out there that causes us to see God only as a loving friend who wants to come along side and prosper us and support us in reaching our personal goals for life. This is sadly warped. Make no mistake, God is all about His glory and His plans, not ours. (Try googling Christian Hedonism.)

To that end, I'll continue my thoughts on the Christian life in the next post because the next portion of what I'm learning is probably going to require a lot more space! :)

Just Ducky

On Monday this week, Kelly and I took the kids out to our local duck pond to dispose of some old bread, and I seized the opportunity to point and shoot a bit! Not the ducks. Pictures of the kids, of course.

I got some pretty good ones (I think) for not much effort. If only I had more knowledge and skills! :)

In this one, I love that Madison is all kicked back, feet up, watching Noah do the work. :D

She says, "Gimmee that!"

What in the world did I do to get this cute little circle of light on Noah's face?? It's probably an error of some sort but I think its sweet.

He had the sneeziest, runniest nose ever, so it was true art to master keeping the nose wiped and taking the pictures. ;)

Itty Bitty Miss Personality.

Sweet & handsome. What more do you need?
Those kids love the ducks!