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Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Morning Choice

God has been trying to teach me something as of late. I think I have been avoiding the lesson. That in of itself is proof of what God has been trying to teach me.

I am selfish. I mean really full of myself. I think my life is about me. I know I should know better. God has made it obviously apparent that nothing in my life has been a product of myself.

My family, my job, my house, my cars, and everything else are all real gifts from God. And I really mean this. I don’t say this in the “Oh all of life are gifts from God” kind of way. Everything I have and am has come from his leading, his timing, or actual gifts (I have two vehicles that I did not pay for).

I mean my life almost literally mimics that of the history of Israel. They were literally lead, gifted, and blessed by God for everything. Unfortunately, I mimic them in other ways, as well. Which brings me to my point.

In recent mornings I have had this overwhelming feeling of the choice I have to make before my feet even ever hit the floor. Whom will I choose to serve today? Will it be me? Will it be my wants and needs? Or will it be God? Will I choose to look to Jesus? Will I choose to listen to and obey the Spirit?

The bigger question is probably more about trust. Will I utterly and absolutely trust God today, who has blessed me and given me all that I need spiritually and physically? Or will I trust me, who has really given me nothing that is good?

Who will I choose today?

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Number Two

Wait, what?  No, this post is not about THAT.  No, it is a different number two.  This is about my kid(s) and being a father.  No, still not about THAT.

I don’t believe I have shared this on here, but my wife is expecting another child due the beginning of next year. I shall refer to him as ID on here.  We have known about the coming of ID since late spring/early summer.  Now that it is late fall/early winter, I am ready to admit some of my mixed feelings about it all.

Now, please don’t get me wrong.  I am very excited about our second child. I really am.  We wanted to have another one for a while now.  It was awesome news to get to know that there was new life on the way.  This is what we have been hoping for.  Now that NB is a little older now, we are ready for another little one.

What has surprised me, however, is how different this pregnancy would be and how I would go through rollercoaster thoughts and emotions.  The pregnancy itself is fine, LA and ID are doing great.  What is different is how I am interacting with ID.

When LA was pregnant for our first son, I was excited. It consumed my thoughts a good bit.  I talked to him constantly.  I read to him (and LA) at night.  I dreamed about what he would be like.  I was connected.  I was zoned in.  There was great anticipation of being a daddy.  I couldn’t wait.  It was almost like he was already here in my mind even months before he was born.  I was so ready to start my trip into fatherhood.

With ID, it is so different.  I haven’t felt that way at all.  The excitement has been limited.  I haven’t talked to him much.  I haven’t read to at all except during the reading times with NB when both my wife and I are sitting with him.  I haven’t felt connected to him.  I haven’t dreamed much about what he would be like.  A lot of times I have just been scared that I would not connect with him at all because I am so connect to NB.  I just have no clue what it will be like to be the father of two, and there has not been great anticipation to start the journey of it this time.

I know a lot of the reasons behind why it has been this way, but that does not make it any easier.  I know a lot of the “thrill” is gone because we have been through it once before.  I know my attention is not on ID because I have a son to care for that is already here.  I know that the fear of connecting more with one child over the other is natural.  I know that I am not trying to think about what he will be like because I know that he will be who he will be and I will love him anyway.  I know all of this. But it is still hard on me not to have the same excitement.

It all changed a week ago.  LA and I went to the hospital for the preregistration class.  As we were watching a video of the process, rooms, and whatnot at the hospital, all of the feelings came back from when we went through this with NB.  The ended by showing pictures done by the in-hospital photographer, and the moment hit me with ID.  He is really coming.  He is really going to be in my arms in just a couple of months!  I am going to have another son.  It became real.  It became exciting.  It became all that it was the first pregnancy.  I am ID’s father, and I can’t wait to meet him!

This was further cemented in this past Wednesday.  One of my best friend’s wife had a baby.  We visited them in the hospital.  As I got to hold the new little one, the feelings of excitement grew about ID.  I am going to have another son to hold and love really soon!

I know I should have had these moments of clarity earlier.  At the very least, I should have had them at the ultrasound.  I didn’t.  I was still so unsure of what it will be like to have to children (I still am not sure what this will be like).  I was uncertain if I was going to be able to figure out how to split my attention.  I did not not how loving two kids equally yet different was going to work out.  I just did know what to think or feel.

I do now.  The resevior of love was tapped into.  I love NB.  I love ID.  They are my sons.  They are my responsibility.  They are my legacy.  They are my boys.  I don’t know what this all means completely.  But it is real.  I can’t wait for this adventure to start!

“Okay, Mr. OneCup, what is the God lesson?  I know you have one.”

I do.  It is simple.  Through this, God has given me one thought.  He loves me.  I am his son.  I do not have to worry about how he seems to be working in the lives of others…and by this I mean I do not have to be jealous or concerned that he is not working in my life exactly as he is for others.  I can trust that he loves me.  He cares for me.  His love for me is complete, even if it looks different than how he is working out his love in the lives of other Christians.  It is okay, I can trust him.  I can trust his love for me.  Just like I can love both NB and ID completely, wholly, equally, and different, he can do the same with his children.  And his love is pure, holy, and full of grace unlike my love can be here on Earth.

My Father in Heaven loves me, and I can trust that.  He proved it by letting his Son die for me.  He proved it by bringing him back from the dead as evidence of his acceptance of the sacrafice and his now acceptance of this sinner (me).  He proved it by sending the Spirit.  And the Spirit proves it to me every day.  I can trust in my Father’s love.

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The Teacher is Coming…Look Busy

I have been in quite the reflective mood as of late.  I have thought of and have started to “mentally write” a bunch of different blogposts.  I have not had the time to sit down and seriously write in a while, and now that I have a few minutes I think I am going to write something other than what I thought I would write about.

I have mentioned a few times in the past about the journey God put me on in March of this year to read through the Bible.  Even though I studied the Bible in college (the first time I went), I never read through the entire Bible cover to cover.  I was challenged to do so by an English professor when I was in school and then not again until I read the book Radical this year.  God really burned it on my heart to do this, so I started in March.  Now, here at the middle of Novemeber, I am three One Year Bible days away from finishing.

I am not sharing this to boast that I read through the Bible in nine months.  No, that is not it at all.  It is more the opposite.  I am completely humbled by it.  Something has happened to me through the Bible.  I am not sure if I can completely explain it, but I am different.  I am changed.

A few major things that I have realized:

  • The Bible is not what I thought.  It truly is the story of a loving God pursuing his people.
  • God is not who I thought.  He is loving.  He is vengeful.  He is just.  He is mercy.  He is jealous.  He is patient.  He is all of what we as humans are, but He is holy, pure, and above all that we are.
  • The Holy Spirit is not who/what I thought.  He is real.  He is God.  He is the presence of God in our lives.  He speaks.  He moves.  He calls.  He disciplines.  He is our source to be more like God.  Without Him we have nothing.
  • Jesus is not who I thought.  He has been since the beginning.  He is ever present in both the Old and New Testaments.  He is the promise of God since the beginning.  He really lived a sinless life.  He really died a sinners death.  He really rose again to show that the price was paid for our sin.  He really lives and is in Heaven.  He is really coming back.  He really loves us.  He really accepts us.  He worked to hard for us to give up on us.
  • We, humans, are not who I thought.  We really are sinful.  We really are incapable of living and trusting God as he intended on our own.  Our hearts are really crooked deep down.  We can not straighten ourselves out.  We need a savior.  We need a helper.  We need a God.  We can be made new.  We are made whole through Jesus.

As I am completing this journey (before I start it all back over again) and look back at how it has changed me, I am reminded of something that I heard someone say ten or so years ago.  There is a guy named Marquis Laughlin, and he does dramatic readings of books of the Bible (he has whole books of the Bible memorized…it is amazing).  I saw him perform the book of John.  It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and it brought the book alive to me in more ways than one.  At the end, he talked about what it is like to do this.  He said that one of the questions he gets all of the time is, “What is it like knowing whole books of the Bible and performing them?”

He said that it is like being in school in a classroom when the teacher has stepped out for a minute and left the students alone.  The students kind of do their own thing, but they have a look out at the door to let everyone know when the teacher is coming back.  He said that he feels like the student standing at the door.  He knows the Teacher is coming back and can see him down the hall.  He wants everyone to know that the Teacher is coming and we need to be doing the work that he left for us to do.  And that work is to love God and love other people.  Love is our job and we need to start doing it because the Teacher is almost to the door.

This is exactly how I feel on this side of my journey.  The Teacher is definitely coming back and He has definitely given us something to do.  We need to be about love.  We need to love generously and wrecklessly.  That kind of love changes the world, and we need to be changing the world when the Teacher comes back becuase that is the assignment he gave us when we left.

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Oh Treasure, Where Art Thou

All right, time to end the radio silence.

It has been about two weeks since my last real post.  I mentioned feeling under the weather in that post, and this is the reason it has been so long since I have posted.  I have had bronchitis for about a month now.  It took a turn for the worse, and I had almost no energy.  I have been barely getting through the school day and then coming home to crash.  Two weeks of that and a second doctor’s visit later, and I am finally feeling closer to normal.  I finally have the energy to write a bit at the end of the day.

Becuase this all has lasted for weeks, I eventually realized God was trying to use it to get my attention.  No, I am not saying that he smote me with illness (though I do think it is possible that he can use this to get our attention about certain things in our live).  He used it to teach me a lesson about myself.  Where my focus is.  Where my heart is.

The flipside of being a pretty energetic guy is that when I am limited in physical, mental, or spiritual energy, it is hard for me to cope.  I just can’t seem to find the joy in things, patience for things not working, or enthusiasm for things that I am used to having.  This makes me do everything half-hearted.  I just can’t figure out what to do.  My brain feels broken.  This makes it more difficult to follow through on things I set out to do, or makes me just want to stop doing some of the things I would like to do.

This month of feeling this way really took a toll on me.  At school, it seemed like I wasn’t teaching well and the smallest disruptions in schedule or my plans have frazzled me to the point I had trouble adjusting…and I am not used to this happening to me.  My lesson plans were less than I like them to be because I just have not been able to get my brain to make connections and figure out cool ideas.  While teaching or dealing with students in the hallway, my patience was dramactically less, and I had just couldn’t get that to change for me, and this frustrated me to no end.

At home, I pretty much just crashed after spending so much of my energy trying to be “normal” at school.  I couldn’t help out around the house as much.  I was less patient with NB.  Less helpful to LA, and I did have much left in me to spend time with her and persue her.  I just got irratated by the things to be done around the house because I just didn’t have much strength left at the end of the day to tackle them.  On the weekends I have been so worn out that I just pretty much laid around so that I could try to recover from the week and feel well enough to tackle the next one.

My writing became harder because of a lack of time and energy.  Eventually I just stopped trying to write the blog.  Thus the not normal couple of posts and then the silence.  I didn’t even read any other blogs or spend much time online at all.

“Hey, OneCup Guy, you are sounding pretty ‘woe is me’ right now.”  Sorry.  That is not my intention, I just want to let you in on how it has been for me so you can understand the lesson that came from it.

Something pretty awesome came from all of this.  A lesson that I really needed to learn.  And it all has to do with my heart.  It is about trying to fight the “old man” and let the “new man” be who I am.  It was a pretty major realization that God gave to me.

Energy/strength to get through the day and complete tasks and fulfill responsiblilities is a lot like money.  You do not have an unlimited amount.  You have to budget it.  The more you have, the less you have to pay attention to your budget, but in a time of lower income you really have to watch where all of it goes.  I am used to being more “rich” in energy.  I can usually do a lot and put a lot of enthusiasm into what I am doing.  I often have so much that I do not even know when I am wasting energy.  Times that I am using it for things that are not important or not high priorities are not always obvious to me becuase of my excess of energy.

My budget got cut.  I did not have extra energy.  I did not even have enough for the day to day.  I lived and acted like I had my usual budget, but I didn’t.  This wore me out, and it is probably why I have stayed sick so long.

Last week, God really showed me that my energy usage, like my money, showed where my heart was.  In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus was talking about where we store our treasures in life.  He ends by saying, “Where your treasure is, that is where your heart is.”  God showed my how my energy is like treasure, and where I spend it shows my heart.  Am I spending myself on me and my kingdom or am I spending it on others, God, and his Kingdom?

He really sent me into a time of reflection.  I had a limited resource of myself.  The limits showed that I was spreading my energy too thin, and I was not doing anything well.  I was “juggling”” to much at once and looking to my “juggling skills” to keep it going.  I was wasting energy on things that were about me.  About my little kingdom and buidling myself up.  I was not using the little energy I had on other people and on God.  I had to prioritize and drop things of lesser importance.  God, family, and serving others IN LOVE is where I needed to spend my treasure.  Not trying to control my world.  I had to give those things over to God.

The last two days of last week and this weekend were pretty awesome.  I felt closer to normal.  I put my energy towards the things that mattered, dropped what didn’t, and trusted God to take care of whatever was left.  I started storing my treasures in the right places.

What about you?  Does your time and energy budget show where your heart is?

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