Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gymnastics and a Two Year Old

Whoa, buddy! Did I see some moving tonight! Mattie (my two, almost three year old) previewed a class at The Little Gym. It was called SuperBeasts and I don't think they named it that by accident. Man oh man. She was all over that joint! I could hardly keep up. My oldest daughter Avery and Dock watched through the glass. Mattie usually has to watch Avery do everything so this role reversal was nothing short of THRILLING for Mattie and an adjustment for Avery. My husband got a good laugh at me jumping side to side and even pulling out a donkey kick. Make no mistake, I broke some new ground in the world of donkey kicks. Wish I had a picture, but you're just going to have to believe me.

The best thing about tonight was a moment after Mattie did this pull-over thing, assisted, on the bar and held herself up there, unassisted, for a while. She was so proud. You see, Avery can do pull overs and Mattie has watched her do them repeatedly. After successfully doing her "own", Mattie felt like the biggest thing ever. Even her teacher noticed how proud of herself she was and said, "Has everybody seen Mattie?" joking with her.

Not long after that Mattie ran out of the glass door to the lobby. This was one of many "escape" attempts. Anyway, Mattie ran to Avery and when she got near, Avery threw open her arms and said, "Mattie, I love you! You did a good job, sissy!" Well, if Mattie wasn't already full of herself after her little pull-over, that nod from her big sister sealed the deal.

Encouragement sounded so sweet coming out of my six year old's mouth. The words sounded even more sweet to me because no one told her to say them - she was literally expressing encouragement to her sister from her heart. (Tear). Words are so powerful. They literally do have the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). Life and death! That's no insignificant thing. That's REALLY important stuff we're talking about. I have always been good with my words. I do not have trouble expressing myself or putting words to my feelings, but with this comes a downside. I'm also capable of using just the right words to say things that are hurtful and not beneficial. God has worked wonders in my life with my words and I have experienced so much freedom, ironically, by having a tongue submitted to my Lord - my Master, Jesus.

I now ask myself this question before I open my mouth, "Is what I'm about to say beneficial?" Ephesians 4:29 says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (NIV). Did you notice the phrase "according to their needs". Ouch. So often we, especially in this culture, feel we have the right to just express ourselves. The phrase "It's a free country" hasn't done us any favors. This verse is very clear that we should speak words that are helpful according to the listener's needs, not our own need to be heard.

I saw what words of life can do tonight at gymnastics. I watched Avery literally speak "life" into Mattie. Mattie was benefited by Avery's encouragement, and even better than that, one of the people working there heard Avery and was benefited by her gesture, too.

I'm talking to myself more than anyone when I say maybe we should all just take a deep breath and ask ourselves, "What are my hearer's needs?" I'm just sayin'.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Grumpy Bear

Maybe it's the rain. Maybe it's sleep deprivation from staying up too late last night. Maybe it's another movement in this process called grief I'm walking through. Whatever it is...grumpy bear was in the house today. More particularly, in my house walking around in my body!
I must admit, the cuddly bear image hardly fit today. I've tried to review the day and I don't think I spoke too harshly to anyone although I was shorter than usual with my children, but I managed to hold it together.

I think I just identified the problem. I tried to hold it together today. I totally know better. How quickly I forget that my confession of weakness immediately sets God's power in motion. Wish I had remembered that 13 hours ago!

So here's the thing. We all get grumpy. We all get needy. We all get irritated. I wonder what Jesus did when he felt grumpy, needy and irritated? In my opinion these feelings are not in and of themselves sin. I think they just make us more likely to sin! I wonder what Jesus did because if he really was human and was really tempted in every way like us (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15 - look them up), then he also did something about it in order to not sin. That answer is not directly in front of us in Scripture like, "Jesus got grumpy so he went and..." It's just not in there. But, in the words of a wise friend, "What do we know to be true?" We know Jesus did not sin. We know He understands every aspect of being human. Even as I type that I marvel that a holy, magnificent, all-knowing, creating God would send a part of Himself to take a 33 year vacation from heaven in a human body. What I know to be true is that He is the source of everything I need. He has made available to me everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He is able, I am not. Jesus knew the "able-ness" of God better than anyone and retreated often to spend time with the most renewable resource of all time.

So, where does this leave me tonight? Well, honestly, Dock's going to get me a Butterfinger blizzard. Not the small - the medium. That ought to take some of the edge off!

In all seriousness, it leaves me here: I need to remember to need God. That need should send me running (or sulking/fuming) straight into His presence to say - "I don't have what it takes to do today, so will you help me?" There is a forever yes at the end of that last question offered by a God who gets us. I must literally cling to the truth that His grace is sufficient and that its sufficiency is manifested in the power He supplies when we don't have what it takes. It's grace, people, the sufficiency of grace. So rather than beat myself up for what a bear I've been internally (and on one or two occasions externally) today, I'm going to say now, "I need you God. I need the sufficiency of your grace to give me the power I can only have through you to compensate for my glaring weaknesses!"

Probably ought to let grumpy bear know he's been overruled. I'll tell him between bites of blizzard.